Thursday 31 July 2014

Summer Scavenger Hunt 2014

I’m joining in with Rinda’s brilliant Photo Scavenger Hunt again this year. It will be my third time. Although it’s been up and running since early June, I chose to save it for the Summer holidays. We’re a week into them now and I’ve taken my first shot.


20. A bus with a picture painted on its sides.

Strictly speaking (so The Mechanic informs me) this is a coach, but hey, I’ll settle for it.

I do have another, taken before the start of the Summer holidays and I’ve shared it on my blog before, but I just love this shot so forgive me.


21. A photograph of you with something representing the season.

Daisies in a Summer meadow lawn.

I’m off the starting blocks with the last two on the list. Although I will be taking another #21, that includes more than my feet! Looking forward to seeing what everyone else has come up with so far.

Monday 28 July 2014

Coffee and a Catch Up ~ July 2014

If you were popping in for a coffee, this is how you would find Me on Monday. See what I did there? I couldn’t decide whether to join in with Abi or Sian so you’ve got two for the price of one. I’ve been removing the buttons from worn out school shirts this morning, before sending them for recycling. Do you do that?


It was an old uniform sorting, school work filing, second hand chest of drawers buying, bedroom reorganising, out the front gravelling, shrub trimming, grass cutting, midday heat avoiding, home made 99* eating kind of weekend.


A couple more squares have arrived this month, to add to my growing collection, for the Friendship Quilt. Have a look. Aren’t they all beautiful? Each time a new one turns up, I get them all out and try to visualise how I will put them together. There are a lot of blues and greens in there and that will be my starting point I think. Of course I may throw that idea out of the window, once I have the full set! Time will tell. If you’re joining in, and have all or most of your squares, do you have an idea for your quilt top yet? Maybe you’re thinking of turning them into a cushion cover, or some other smaller project, instead. The best bit? I still have more to come.


I have to tell you about our little adventure a week or so ago. We met up with a National Trust ranger, and a group of other intrepid bug hunters, to go on a glow worm walk. The sun had not quite disappeared at 9.30pm, when we set off, but as darkness descended, on Fontmell Downs, we were rewarded with this amazing sight. With a bit of jiggery pokery, involving a small LED torch and my phone, I managed to capture this one ‘on film’. It was a magical experience and I hope a special memory for the children to look back on one day. Have you ever seen a glow worm**?


Thanks for visiting. Now I really must get back to the pile of clothes that I’m dividing up for passing on to a friend, memory quilt making/repurposing and charity shop donating. Some of them are tough choices! Enjoy the rest of your day.

* An ice cream cone with a flake added to it. Traditionally the soft Mr Whippy kind, but we prefer proper dairy ice cream here. It occurs to me, that in explaining 99’s for those uninitiated, I am quite possibly throwing out more terms, which mean nothing to my friends from overseas. Wikipedia is so very handy at times like this.

** You might know them as lightning bugs or fire flies. All varieties of beetles making use of bioluminescence to attract a mate.

Friday 25 July 2014

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

I posted a picture of my roasted chickpeas on Instagram the other day and Rinda asked if I would share the recipe. It was one of those make it up as you go along experiments. The oven was already on to cook the dinner and I had time on my hands. I’ve been trying to think up some healthier snacks and this fitted the bill.


I used tinned chickpeas, which I rinsed well and then placed on a tea towel. I folded the other half of the cloth over the top and rolled them under my hands to dry. That removed any loose skins and I could easily pick them out.


I put them in a roasting tin, lined with foil, sprayed with olive oil and dusted liberally with smoked paprika and powdered garlic. Followed by a couple of grinds of black pepper and a little sea salt, before placing in the oven at 200 C.


After about 15 minutes I took them out and gave the tin a good shake to turn the chickpeas. Repeated after another 15 minutes and then removed from the oven after another 15 minutes, by which time they were nice and crisp and delicious. 24 hours on, the few I saved (in an air tight container) had gone soft so they want eating up. They’re very moreish and somehow I don’t think that is going to be an issue!

PS If you were expecting SIPIDI! today, I’ve decided to give it a little break over the Summer. It’ll return in September.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday #268

We’re at the kitchen table this afternoon. Surprise!


First day of the school holidays and me and my girl have her sewing machine out to see what it can do. She had it for her birthday way back in May, but then exams took over and it didn’t get much of a look in. We’re going to remedy that this week.


I sprung for some decent quality watercolour paper for another project we have in mind. That arrived this morning, along with my postcards from Moo. I’ll be writing them this evening, ready to send to my pen pals, as part of Sian’s Pile of Postcards Exchange. I’ve seen a few images popping up on Instagram. That’ll be the ones with the *slightly* unfortunate hash tag #sianspileofpostcardsexchange or is it just me?

Linking up with Julia’s grand tour of desks today, of course. Have a good one.

Monday 21 July 2014

Monday Randoms

This is what my hands looked like after class last week. I’m still trying to find a way to persuade one or two people that they really don’t need to press the stamp into the inkpad *that* hard! If there is ink on the edge of the rubber, then it’s a little too much pressure. If the whole of the background rubber is awash with ink, then it’s a lot too much pressure. If the entire wood mount is also covered…well…the person cleaning up after you will end up looking like this!


It’s quite a difficult thing to teach someone. I can demonstrate my own technique, ‘til I’m blue in the fingers face, but you have to find the right pressure for yourself. I’ve described it as a tapping motion, rather than a pressing one. Suggested building up the colour gradually, by using two or three gentle taps, rather than trying for even coverage in one firmer push. If an inkpad is particularly ‘juicy’ I sometimes just rest the stamp on the surface and that can be enough. You know it’s level and you won’t get that irritating ‘ghosting’ from inky edges. If you’re a stamper, do you have any other handy hints that I could suggest? I want everyone to get the most from their experience and go home with something they are proud of.


While we’re on the subject of teaching…..I’ve written a few tutorials, to share here on my blog, over the past couple of years. I always use the same format: a photograph of each step, with an explanation underneath. A few people have commented that I should make Youtube videos so I thought I’d ask the question. Is that how you prefer to view tutorials?

I do watch them myself, to get an idea of how to do something. If I was going to follow the directions, I would have to keep stopping and starting the video, while I made my own ‘copy’ of the project. Personally, I prefer to have the directions in a series of images and instructions, that I can have open on my laptop screen, or print out to refer to.


I’m going to make a tutorial for the “Card in a Box”, as a few people said they would like one and I have all the “Blue Peter” bits ready to photograph. It will be in my usual style of words and pictures this time, but I might rethink for the future, depending on feedback.

One last thing, before I go. Abi opened a discussion, about replying to blog comments, last week. A couple of people commented that they didn’t know if they were “no-reply” bloggers. I thought I’d direct you to my own post on the subject from last year. It includes a link to instructions for finding out and fixing, if you’d like to.


Oh, I know I said that was the last thing, but I wanted to share this little teaser. Something that I got very excited about on Friday night. If you’re a Facebook friend you’ll already know, but if you’re not…..can you guess what it is? I’ll tell you the whole story later in the week. Hope you’ve had a great start to yours.

PS Links to the tutorials pictured above can be found here:

Flower Treat Box

Gift Card Holder

Hearts & Doilies

Lollipop Holders

Saturday 19 July 2014

Christmas in July? Not around here.

One or two of you, clever readers, spotted the Ornament dies on my kitchen table on Wednesday. Not much of a jump to assume I was doing a little seasonal crafting, but no. I needed some balloons to decorate a Card in a Box and was originally planning to use an oval punch. But mine isn’t quite the right shape and I wasn’t happy with them. I thought I’d use circle punches instead…..and then…..


I had a brain wave…..Ornament dies! Turned upside down they gave me a ‘neck’ to tie the string around. Perfect. If you’re a regular, you’ll know I like to get plenty of mileage out of my craft supplies. There’s something especially satisfying about alternative uses for Christmas themed products, don’t you think? I stamped the balloons with chevron designs and pulled out my old favourite, Gorgeous Grunge, for the panels. Added a Frame to the front for a sentiment and I was done. I left the largest balloon at the back plain so that the card could be personalised.


One of the ladies who comes to my class had requested a Shaker card. I’d never made one before so I watched a few Youtube videos on the construction and then created one in my own style. As you can probably tell, I used what was already out on my desk for the previous card. Not that I’m lazy or anything.

Gorgeous Grunge for that ink splattered look and the wonderful Positively Chevron background stamp. I punched out lots of small circles, from the scraps leftover after die cutting the balloons, and added a pinch of sequins for a bit of sparkle.

Colours used were Pacific Point, Pool Party and Whisper White, with the addition of Daffodil Delight for the Card in a Box. I was thinking of putting together a tutorial for the latter. There are lots online already, I know, but I do mine a little differently so that they fit a standard 6” x 6” (15cm) envelope. If you’d be interested in that, just let me know in the comments.

We’ve had some spectacular storms here, the last couple of nights and I love to watch them, as long as I’m safely tucked up indoors! I’m hoping for a quiet one tonight though. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday #267

Good morning. Here we are again, taking a tour around the world by craft desk.


The usual Tuesday kitting session in progress at the kitchen table. Where else? I took this just before clearing away. The children were due to arrive home from school at any moment. Today we are making one of the ever popular “Card in a Box” designs and a shaker card, which is new to me, but I think I cracked it.

The sun is shining and I’m about to load up my little Clio. Catch you all later, round at Julia’s place. Put the kettle on and I’ll bring the biscuits.

PS If you want see what those bits of fabric, I was cutting last week, turned into, then check out this post.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Time for a Recipe Tuesday ~ Cornish Fairings

Otherwise known as the easiest and quickest ginger biscuit you’ll ever make.


Fancy a biscuit with your cuppa, but the tin is empty. Only got twenty minutes to spare? That’s plenty of time to make these simple biscuits.

This recipe is from the collection in my very old exercise book, hence the ounces.

Cornish Fairings

3 oz butter or margarine

1 tbsp golden syrup

3 oz sugar

6 oz self raising flour

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 190 and grease a baking sheet.

Melt the butter/marg and syrup, in a pan, over a low heat.

Stir in the sugar, followed by the rest of the ingredients.

Put spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheet.

Flatten slightly and place in the oven for 12-15 minutes.

Leave to cool and firm up a bit before removing to a cooling rack.

You’re done.

The mixture is quite stiff but don’t worry about that. It makes 16 biscuits. I like mine to be good and gingery, but you can halve the amount of spice, if you prefer. Enjoy.

It’s the perfect recipe, if you want to bake, but don’t have any eggs in the cupboard. Does that just happen to me? Would love to know, if you make them.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my desk, as is the custom around here on Wednesdays.

Sunday 13 July 2014

Shop Your Stash

I’m back with my second Sunday Stash post. Thanks to those lovely people that took the time to comment on my first outing and make me feel so welcome.


As I mentioned last time, I’ve taken a pledge not to buy any more dressmaking fabric, until I’ve made three garments. I’ve almost finished my Lonsdale dress and an A line skirt. In the interests of moving things along, I shopped my stash today to find some fabric for a pair of PJ bottoms. This came from Fabricland last year. I had planned to self draft a pattern from a favourite pair, but I picked this Butterick pattern up in a sale last month so I’ll use that as my starting point and work from there.


The fabric above was purchased to make the A line skirt. I bought 1.5 metres, which is what it said on the pattern envelope, but cut it out from less than a metre. I’m not very tall! I’ve already used a fair bit of the leftovers to cut hexies for Grandmother’s Flower Garden blocks and rectangles for the tissue holders in Friday’s tutorial. I can just squeeze out a pair of PJ shorts, using the same pattern, for my daughter.

Fabric shopping is fun and I’ll never grow tired of it, but sometimes you have everything you need on hand already, which is quite satisfying.

Have you ‘shopped your stash’ for a project this week or bought something new?

Friday 11 July 2014

A Friendship Quilt ~ The Leftovers {a tutorial}

So, you joined a Friendship Quilt square exchange. You bought way too many a few fat quarters and now that the project is almost three quarters of the way through, you realise that you have rather a lot of a little leftover fabric. What to do with it?


Enter the tissue holder. A very simple beginner sewing project. A great way to practise 1/4” seams. OK, it’s a bit late for that one, if you’re a Friendship Quilter. A last minute teacher gift or Summer Fayre fund raiser. A useful project from scraps.

I’d seen a few tutorials online, using the same fabric inside and out and then I saw these with a contrast binding at the opening. I pinned it for future reference, but when I looked at the instructions, it seemed like a lot of work for such a small project. I thought, ‘There must be an easier way.’ Do you know what? There is.


You’ll need a 5 1/2” x 7 1/2” rectangle of your inner (plain) fabric and 5 1/2” x 6 1/2” in the outer (printed) fabric. No need to cut a paper pattern. I just used my rotary cutter, but forgot to take a picture of the fabric pieces before I sewed them together.


Place the rectangles, right sides together, matching along one of the short edges. Sew a 1/4” seam. It doesn’t really show up here, but I’ve turned it over for the next picture. I matched my thread to the lighter fabric.


Now line up the other short edges and stitch another 1/4” seam.  As you can see the lining will bulge. Don’t worry, that’s how it’s supposed to look. The plain fabric is longer so that it shows on the outside to give a contrast trim. Turn right side out.


Centre the outer (print) fabric to give yourself a narrow border (approx. 1/4”) of the lining (plain) fabric on each side, as shown in the top example. Turn over. Press with the iron on the reverse so that it’s nice and smooth, as pictured at the bottom.


Fold in half by bringing the two borders together. Finger press at the top and bottom of the fold to mark the centre point. Unfold. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get those little creases in the centre to show up, but trust me they *are* there.


Bring the right hand side in to the centre mark and the left hand side to meet it. I didn’t actually pin my own, but this is the best place to put them so you can sew both ends, without having to remove the pins. Sew a 1/4” seam across each end.


Turn right side out. Push the corners out with a chopstick, or similar pointy stick. I like to take the tissues out of the cellophane before putting inside, but if you’re making these as a fund raiser you might prefer to leave them sealed. Try not to get too carried away, once you realise how easy they are to make!


I made these from my leftover floral skirt fabric and some plain blue cotton I had in my stash. If you’re cutting from a fat quarter and the long edge (22”) is intact you can get four out by cutting a 6 1/2” strip (outer) or 7 1/2” strip (inner) and then chopping into four 5 1/2” pieces.

I’ve never written a sewing tutorial before so if anything is unclear please shout and I’ll be glad to help, if I can. Happy sewing.

ETA Some of the photos show both sides of the project, or two stages, at once. I did this to avoid the post being too photo heavy. I had two sets of fabric pieces, to illustrate the different steps, which you won’t necessarily. Apologies for the confusion caused.

Thursday 10 July 2014

One Photo in Twenty Words ~ Rainbow

Joining in with the lovely Abi, of Creating Paper Dreams, today.


Up above the streets and houses, rainbow climbing high….

What can I say? I am a child of the seventies.

If you are too young to remember it, or didn’t grow up in the UK. Here’s what you missed.

That little project I was working on yesterday? I finished it. Yes, you read that right. I even remembered to photograph the stages as I went along. I’ll be back tomorrow with a tutorial, for using up fabric scraps, to make a quick gift.

PS Got that song in your head now? You’re welcome.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday? #266

It’s that time of the week when we all gather at Julia’s place to see what’s what in the world of work spaces. There’s always lots of inspiration to be found. Why not take a look?


I’ve been at the kitchen table again. Cutting out pieces of fabric, left over from my skirt, for a little project I want to try. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. How many others does she have on the go? A few, but they are all progressing….slowly.


Here’s my actual workdesk. Nothing to see here. Moving swiftly on….


….to what I was cutting out on Sunday afternoon. I had a big sort out of old clothes. My jeans collection is growing steadily and I’ll soon have enough to start that quilt top. This pair has a fairly high polyester content so I decided I didn’t want to include them. Instead I’ve cut out the pieces to make a bag and I’ve got an old duvet cover to cut the lining from. My sewing machine will be busy this afternoon, but I’ll find time to stop by and say, “Hi!” if you’re sharing your desk/table/floor today.

Monday 7 July 2014

Me On Monday

Sian started this little peek into her weekend, back in May I think, and I’m jumping on board today.


This is me on Monday, in my new Converse and very old jeans, admiring the daisies, having hung out the washing. As you can see from this shot, whatever else was happening this weekend, there was not much mowing going on around here!


It was a Saturday working, Birthday card making, scrapbook page finishing (yes really!), new shoe wearing, Mad Men watching, whole night sleeping (hooray for that one), old clothes sorting, mackerel pate spreading, jeans unpicking, denim recycling, shower dodging, washing rescuing, Smite playing, character animating, affogato enjoying and definitely no grass cutting sort of weekend.

How was yours? I’m off to scoff some more of that pate. Perfect on a nice thick oatcake. If you’d like to try it, you can find the recipe here. These days I just go with the creme fraiche, leaving the cottage cheese out altogether and my lemon juice has been known to come out of a bottle. It’s still good.