Sunday, 30 May 2010

What can I make with these?

Today is a day of making stuff with leftovers. So far I have made a quiche with some of the (many) eggs we were got from the farm and a leek leftover from last week's share.

With the leftover pastry from that I have made 4 jam tarts. The jam is homemade from blackberries gathered at the canal side.

I am also having a go at sorbet for the first time. I had half a melon which had found it's way to the back of the fridge and 3 black bananas. It was really important to me to use these up as both have had to travel to get her. The melon is from Spain which isn't too far. I refuse to buy them when they are travelling further than Europe. The bananas are from far far away. I can't abide waste and would be horrified with myself if I wasted stuff that has also had to come so far. They are now all blended and in the freezer. We don't have an ice cream maker so I'll be getting it out in a bit and whisking the hell out of it!!! :o)

And now for a totally unrelated pic. Our first pea flower!! I've finally caught up to BrightandNew :o)

Saturday, 29 May 2010

The fabric is bought

Today was fabric day. It only took a couple of hours which is quite good for us both really. Neither one of us is very decisive. After a trawl around the market we headed to the only fabric shop in town which is quite expensive. After a bit of wrangling and maths a decision was reached. I would love to say that it is the above but we both decided that as great as it is it wasn't suitable for a black tie event. Instead we went with the below.

It's a bold pattern but muted colours so this should start my friend towards the brightly coloured things she is scared of but wants to wear! Isn't it pretty? The muslin I had made was pretty spot on. It needs taking in at the back and the pleats at the neckline need to be bigger. By altering them it pulls the neckline in too much so I'll have to draft that out a bit. I know that sounds odd but I can't explain it better. I think it could do with an SBA maybe but this is quicker.

The gorgeous sheep fabric was bought but as a gift for me. How ace! I commented that it would be great for a hat I'm making for a new shepherdess but I have been banned from buying new material til all mine is gone. So gifting was done.

The other sewing related point of the day was the window display of a shop in town. There are 3 windows and each one is filled with old sewing machines. I counted them and there are around 100!!! I want to take each one home :o) I took some sneaky pic for you so you can enjoy the prettiness too. All of them have the beautiful patterning that mine is missing *sigh*

Friday, 28 May 2010

fractions and sticky tape

Today I get to play with fractions. My nemesis. Ok so it might not be that bad but it's not far. At school I got on with mathematics quite well. It never really made me giddy but I could do it. But fractions and percentages always made me cry. On the inside at least. However I must face this demon today. As I mentioned yesterday I am grading a pattern down for a friend. Looking at it I should be able to do it just fine. My first thought was that there was a lot of darts and things to move around. Actually there are only 2 pleats at the front on each side. All the darts in my version of the pattern are there due to the FBA I had to do. So already it is easier than I though. I need to take 5 inches off the pattern overall which means taking 1.25 of each pattern piece (2 back pieces and the front cut on the fold = 4). The tutorial I am using gives you a breakdown of how much of the overall grade you need to take of each line you cut through the pattern. After a bit a squinting at a ruler (bless the rulers that are broken down into 16ths of an inch) I have a measurement for each line. It's a tad frustrating that I have to reduce the pattern over the vertical as well as the horizontal as the pattern is currently long enough. If I only alter it over the horizontal the arm and neck holes will be wrong though. So I'll be grading the whole thing down by 5 inches and then lengthening the bodice/waistband as needed. My intention is to get this done this evening and then get a mock up made so I can take it with me tomorrow when we go fabric shopping. Ideally we will go either to S~'s house or mine and do a fitting to make any further alterations. I know this pattern backwards and it takes me a whole day to sew based on my pattern. With less darts it should go even quicker. I reckon a week of evening sewing should do it. We are just adding a circle skirt to it which is a doddle compared to the 8 panelled skirt the pattern calls for. I am quite hopeful about this and it will be a great learning experience for me. Tomorrow we are going fabric shopping for it and I am very excited. As I am not allowed to buy any more fabric of my own until I've used up all I have I'll be living vicariously through S~. I need to figure out how much fabric we will need for the skirt as I'm sure it will be more than the pattern envelope says with it being bigger.

Once I've got the pattern sorted tonight I am hoping to have enough time left to finished sewing my red and white spotty dress. I'd like to wear that tomorrow if I can. I need to buy some low heels as I have no heeled shoes suitable for shopping in. A scouring the charity shops it is. Until then I'll have to find some flat shoes in my shoe box. If I don't get that one done then it will be the red "I used to be a duvet" dress.

You know what, I really need to do a post showing all my sewing so far. I was a member of Wardrobe Refashion and I now post at the Thrifty Garderobe and I am rubbish at actually posting pics of the sewing I do. Maybe a bit of a recap with pics is in order. How about it folks, would you like to see what I have sewn and how much I have improved?

I have completed the grading and am feeling quite chuffed with myself. It's not perfect by any means but there is quite a bit of ease in this pattern so I envisaged a bit more fitting being needed anyway. After tea I'll be making a rough toile to get S~ to try on. Then on to the spotty dress for me. But first let there be home made pizza. Mmmm.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

So this was going to be amazing...

I had a huge post full of lots of pretty pictures planned for you. However it's taken so long to sort out the pics that all I want to do is go to bed. So I will see you all tomorrow for a huge pictorial post.

Sweet dreams!

The long awaited (ahem) picture post

So I started this post yesterday and am finishing it now. Hope it all makes sense still.

IT'S RAINING!! (or at least it was when I started writing this post)

Ok now I've got that out of my system let's continue with the normal post :o)

It seems like quite a while since I have posted any pictures so I'm going to go a little overboard on you now. A combination of Spadger nabbing the Internet connection for work, baking and general apathy have stopped be from editing any pics. So be prepared for a picture book story. Well, sort of.

Where to start, where to start. How about a tour of the garden, sound good? Ok then. There are many more pictures to come on this theme but this is catch up time. Firstly lets look at the flowers. I love flowers. However my garden is not so keen. The front flower beds have suffered the whole time we have lived here from being in the shade of two massive sycamore trees. As you may remember they were both cut down before Christmas due to them interfering with the structural stability of the house. I love trees but not enough to want to come home one day to find the front of the house has fallen off!! Now the front garden gets sooooo much more sunlight. This is good news for the flowers and the possible veg that might get planted out there. Not so good for the wild garlic that we have just discovered is edible. That baby likes the shade. Fortunately I know it is a very hardy bulb because in our first couple of years here I tried to dig it all up and it was having none of it let me tell you. So the plan is to pull some of the bulbs and re-plant them somewhere a bit more shady. The far corner of the garden was lovingly referred to as the mossy corner of doom. Even in the middle of summer the ground squelched. It is now dry and the moss is receding. So things might grow in that corner soon. Right, on to the pics I've been babbling about. First up is the peony. I thought I had killed this one but no, tis alive and blooming. I adore the bright but dark red and how floofy it it. This is a petticoat in flower form my friends.

Next up is the tulips. Now I planted many tulips last year and they were all very nice. This year I totally forgot about anything in the ground and planted some interesting tulips in tubs. Spadgersdottier had planted mystery bulbs in the ground so I got plenty of "normal" tulips but this here is my fav one from the tubs. So pretty.

Now these ones are not from my garden but I thought I would continue the flower theme. All of these were taken at the farm. This is the apple tree that is at the side of the car park. When we first came to look round the farm back in Feb the tree had apples on it. Now look at the gorgeous blossom. I am a big lover of blossom. Daffodils may be the first herald of Spring but blossom means it is in full swing. My primary school had a little hill in the grassy area surrounding the playground and at the bottom was a blossom tree (it never fruited as far as I know). So blossom will always remind me of sitting under it at dinnertime.

These 2 are random flowers in amongst the veg. Anyone know what they are?

Lastly we have one that no gardener/farmer I know likes. However I like to eat the blossoms when they are yellow (dandelion fritters rock) and think that the seed heads are one of the prettiest things there is. They're like stars or sunlight on water. Pretty!

Right then back to my garden. These ones weren't with the others are they are functional not just pretty. Here we have strawberry futures and blueberries. Look at the difference between the 2 blueberry ones. One is just flowers the other is burgeoning fruit!

Also we have gooseberries and black currants but I didn't manage to get any pics of their flowers.

Our little piggy Gyoza is growing up well. As you would expect from a pig she gets bigger ever time we go see her. She is definitely a girl. The last time we went down the boys from her litter had discernible boy bits which she is lacking. So Miss Gyoza it is. I like this pic, she looks like she is laughing. Maybe the pig in front farted?

There seem to be more piglets born every time we go to the farm. Can you spot the 2 adventuresome ones in this pic? I like the bemused looks on the faces of the sheep at the left hand side. I can almost hear them bleating "wtf!"

Click to see their faces

The last picture form the garden is quite old as these are no longer in the ground and we have eaten them all. That's right folks they are radishes. They were a breakfast variety so were much milder than I am used to but it meant Spadgersdottier would eat them. So far we have harvested 9 ounces of them. It doesn't sound like much but only the very bottom and the stems went to waste. We even eat the leaves which are nice in salad.

One thing with having veg straight from the garden or farm is remembering to wash it well. I have no real aversion to dirt but certain things like to hide in the leaves. This one was very adventuresome and stayed in the veg box for a few days before I found him.

Last farm based picture then. As you may recall I am quite fond of goats. I think the darn things are just so cute. Also I love goats milk, goat curry is quite nice and you get fibre of certain varieties. Yup they are cute, tasty and useful, my main requirements in an animal :o) The lasy at the farm who owns the goats is selling them. She stood their with my favourite kid in her arms and told me he could be mine for £20. I had that money in my wallet people!!! However I know that where we are now is not the place for goats even if our very understanding landlord and neighbors agreed. We just don't have the room. But man it was hard admitting that then. So here is a gratuitous goaty shot just because I can.

Gardening/farming has not taken over my life completely though. There has still been crafting. Not as much as I might like mainly due to apathy. I have lots I want to do but not much motivation. Here are a couple of my forays in knitting. First up is a cardigan for Spadger. He has requested a long, plain garter stitch cardigan with thumbholes and 4 pockets. So it's massive and a little dull to knit at the moment. I got almost a ball of wool into it and then discovered that even with counting it several times and separating it with paperclips to make the counting easier I still cast on the wrong amount.

That big green mass you can see in the background is a whole ball of unravelled knitting. Yes I was not happy at all. However unravelled wool is really pretty and curly. Silver lining and all.

The other project on the needles at the mo is a Zebra for Spadgersdottier's birthday. I have over a month to complete it and I've done the 2 biggest pieces so I am feeling quite hopeful. This first pic is of what I had to unravel (are we spotting a theme here!)

Everything is perfect except I had misread the pattern as was knitting far 2 many rows for each instruction. I find knitting patterns really hard. There is a lot of abbreviating, which makes sense for them to do, but my brain just doesn't understand. So when it says to do 4 rows of each colour increasing as below I did an increase and then 2 more rows in that colour. That wasn't what it meant. I wrote out the pattern the long way, split it into sections of 4 and continued knitting. This worked much better.

These 2 bits make up the body. I still have 10 more pieces to knit but they are much smaller.

And so I bring you to the last 2 pics. These are of my latest piercings. They were taken not long after so I'm not as swollen now. In fact all the swelling has gone and they are both healing well. I was finally able to sleep on that side again last night and I had the best nights sleep since having them done. I really do sleep much better on my right side.

You see that mole just below the piercings? I didn't even know I had that until getting this piercing. Guess I don't look at my ears much hehehe

So, there is my very pic heavy post. Hopefully I will stay a bit more caught up and wont have to subject you all to this again. Right now I am off to try and grade a pattern that fits my short and curvy size 16 down to fit my tall and gracefully thin ballet dancer friend. I understand the theory but there are fractions involved. Me and fractions don't get on so well.

Monday, 24 May 2010

You know you're a farmer/gardener when....

You are cursing the rain clouds because they are disappearing!!!

So far this month approximately 2.3mm of rain. Last month there was about 23.9mm and the month before that there was around 69.8mm. So it's a bit dry this month. Our 2 water barrels are nearly empty and things are starting to look a little parched. About half an hour ago it got quite cold (ha!) and was really heavy of sky. Now I can see blue sky and the clouds are more white than grey.

Rain damnit!!!!

I am not a summer person as it is. The UK is a very sticky country when it gets warm. I'd rather be a bit chilly than 2 warm. I've not slept properly for nearly a week now due to the heat. And to top it all off I've worried about my fruit and veg.

Bring on Autumn!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

a catch up

Hey folks.
I've been missing for a few days due to lack of sleep. On Sunday me, Spadger and my Momma went to a body art expo. It was the first one that had been organised by this group and as all 3 of us are into piercing and tattoos we thought we would go and support some local artists. It wasn't a great start at they were over an hour late opening the doors. Now I don't mind waiting for things but this meant the rest of the schedule was off. The only other complaint we had about the organisation was the lack of info on where things were happening. The main stage was easy to find but there were no signs or directions to all the other activities.

All the people we spoke to were lovely and both me and Momma had some work done. I got my conch pierced twice and Momma got a tattoo on her wrist. Spadger hadn't gotten around to designing a tattoo and him and piercings really don't get one. Every studio that was there had their own little space and they were set up following the same regulations as they would have in a shop. It was great to be able to wander around watching all these little pieces of artwork being made. There was only one place that had nay problems (IMHO). They had 3 artists working but had no one manning the front. So I don't know how they were taking bookings for the rest of the day or future ones. They lost my Momma's business because of this.

How is this related to lack of sleep? Well the 2 new piercings are in my right ear which is the side I normally sleep on. So I am trying my best to not sleep on that side as I know this will help the healing. Fortunately/unfortunately my body is taking this to an extreme and waking me up whenever I start to roll over to that side. Add to that Spadger sleeping diagonally across the bed and nearly pushing me out (I can't get mad at him. He sleeps so badly all of the time that I refuse to wake him up when he does this or when he snores. It just doesn't seem right) and you have one Girl with disturbed sleep.

Today my ear is quite red and swollen but this is fairly normal. I found a great quote here

"a new piercing WILL be angry for a while -
you just drove a metal rod through yourself & your body will react to

Amen to that. It's been nearly 10 years since I had a cartilage piercing and I had forgotten how uncomfortable they are. It's hard to describe really. They're not painful, not really. It's just a constant ache. They take quite a while to heal as well. But I have bought a couple of horseshoe rings to go in them when they finally do heal.

Right then, what else have I been up to? Well I bought a pressure canner today. I wont get it for ages though as it has to be shipped from America. Usually we are totally against bringing something so far but you just can't get them in this country. People in the UK don't can goods at home apparently. It was a mighty expensive purchase with about half the cost being shipping. But if I look at it in the long term it means I can enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables all year round. Hopefully a lot of which we will have produced ourselves. I'm quite excited.

I've been doing a lot of baking of late but I seem to have missed taking pictures of it all. I'm now about to embark on a round of savoury baking. Don't get me wrong, I love cake as much as the next person (possibly even more. How much do you like cake?) and I adore biscuits. But I really am a savoury person at heart. So I'm gonna try and make some little bread based snacks and scones. I also think I might have a go at sausage rolls now I can make pastry and I know the farm sells sausage meat. But that will be another day.

On the sewing front I finally sat down with George last night and finished sewing back together the red dress. I didn't measure the hem as I did it really so I get the feeling I might have made the lining longer than the dress so I need to look at that. I've also sewn together the extra panels for the dotty dress. It looks like I might still be cutting it a little fine bit I don't have any more material so we'll see.

Knitting wise I had to take all of Spadger's cardigan off the needles as I managed to cast on 11(!) stitched too many. I have restarted though and I am pretty certain I have the right number this time. I will be starting the birthday present for Spadgersdottier soon. I'll not spoil the surprise for you :o)

Ok friends I think that is us caught up. I'm off to take the last of the bread based snaks out of the oven and to start making a rhubarb cake to take to a friends tomorrow.


Saturday, 8 May 2010

Duct Tape (woo ooh)

After much cursing about fitting during the sewing process we decided to make me a dress form. Now we did make a paper tape one a while back but we didn't let it dry enough before removing it so there was much sagging and alteration of size. Basically it didn't work! So we are moving onto the duct tape version. It isn't hard so will need stuffing (enter the winter duvet as we found the summer one + 2 blankets was enough to see us through the awful winter this year). I think it will also need covering in some kind of Jersey as sticking pins in gummy stuff = gummy pins. Not as much fun as gummy bears to be sure :o) Eventually we'll put it on some kind of stand but for the moment it will have a coat hanger to hold it up with. Most fitting issues for me are the bust area anyway so sitting it on the table will be ok for that.

Now not being one who wears t-shirts I don't have an old one to wear and sacrifice for this process. Instead I shall be stood in a bin bag. Yes a bin bag. I will look darn sexy!!! Hopefully the process won't take too long as I shall l be a bit cold and achey by the end of it. Standing still on a stool for a long time will hurt. I'm one of those folks who stand with all her weight on one hip and moves it around (yes I am aware that this is bad for me and my osteomyologist will hurt me if she finds out. It'll be our secret ok) .

Wow that was quite painful. You don't realise how many little movements you make until you can't! However now that Vera (Spadger named her) is completed all that is left is to stuff her and but the base on. This will be Spadger's realm. He also wants to put a pole through the middle so it will be freestanding rather than a coat-hanger as originally discussed.

Mission complete. Now we're off for POrt, Cake and the latest Dr Who.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Introducing Gyoza

This dear readers is Gyoza, my pig. Ain't he just the cutest little piggy ever?! I took this picture into work today to replace my desk picture. I showed my colleagues and I got that look. Yeah you know the one. The one where they are thinking (and saying to be fair) that there is something wrong with me. As I raved over how cute he is I was met with comments like "you'll never be able to go through with it". This is of course referring to the slaughter, butchering and subsequent eating of Gyoza. Now unless I am able to sustain a pig in my garden (which I cannot) this little piggy will be going to slaughter. So I told them this and was once again greeted with that look and many mutterings of "oh I just couldn't". Like there is something wrong with me because I can.

Now forgive me for being mightily irritated by this. My piggy has a wonderful field to live in, a wallow to roll around in, grass under his trotters and sunshine on his back. He will only be treated with medicine if he is sick and then it will be homeopathic to start with only moving onto the hard stuff if needs be. He will be looked after by people who genuinely care about his welfare. Now if you asked people most of them would say that this is how they would like their food animals to live. So what is wrong with me knowing mine personally? What is wrong with me going once a week to visit him? What is wrong with me thinking my food is cute while alive and tasty when dead?

I have a healthy amount of respect for those for whom the thought of the animals they see in fields being food is too much and they become vegetarian. Heck, a few years ago I was vegetarian myself. I cannot abide cruelty to animals and it also had it's roots in my burgeoning Buddhism. However I the lure of the tasty meat was too much for me. At least I'm honest about it. Now I eat a lot less meat than I used to simply because I want my meat to have had the life described above. That costs more. So rather than buying 2 chickens for a fiver and not thinking about the life they have had I'd rather spend £10, know where is came from and not eat it so often.

I can apply this to a lot of things in my life now. Meat, chocolate, coffee, seasonal vegetables and fruit. I looked at the plums in the supermarket today and salivated. I adore plums. But in the UK they are a late summer/autumn produce (I have a sneaky feeling this is one of the reasons for my love of autumn). So I wait. And dammit the plums I gorge myself on in autumn will be worth the wait. I bought a yellow pepper on Sunday for a meal I was cooking with friends. Now this pepper had travelled so very very far and I felt really guilty for buying it. My guilt is tempered by the fact that these purchases are really rare but it was still there.

Right I've wandered away from the point somewhat. And I appear to have ranted at you, I'm sorry. What I was trying to say is her is Gyoza. There will hopefully be more pics as he grows up and then we will say goodbye to Gyoza the pig and hello Gyoza the meat.