Friday, 30 July 2010

MIllions of peaches

Well actually there is only the one jar but that's not how the song goes :o)

I am canning for the first time this year. I'd love to say it;s my own produce but I am sadly lacking a peach/nectarine/plum/apricot tree. So a trip to the market later I have a kitchen full of fruit. We are in soft fruit season here in Europe which is my favourite. Our policy of not buying stuff from further away than Italy if we can help it means that in winter I miss all my favourite fruits. So I am trying to put some up.

So far I have 4 small jars of strawberries, 3 large jars of nectarines, 1 large & 1 small jar of peaches, 3 large jars of plums and 2 small jars of apricots. Hopefully If I've done it right these babies will see me through til next summer. The only one I am worries about is the peaches as I didn't get as much syrup in there as I would have liked due to them being so darn juicy!

Today I have also made 2 jars of green tomato chutney, 1 jar of picked cucumber, 2 jars of pickled onions, 2 jar of raspberry jam and half a jar (yeah that really bugged me) of strawberry jam. Oh and baked 2 laves of bread. Yeah it's been a busy day in the kitchen for me. I would love to show you a pic of this vast sea of jars but I am bushed. So I'll check back in with a pic tomorrow :o)

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Revelations tops

Another one of the to do list, woot!

Today I have for your perusing pleasure the Revelations tops. I used the revolutions dress pattern I had already as a base and drafted these 2 tops for Spadgersdottier. The purple material is from a duvet cover, the pink is from curtains. Both were charity shop finds.

Now I'm not sure what went wrong with the first one but there was no overlap left for buttonholes. So a bit of creativity later a flaw was turned into a cute design feature

I used my new bias tape makers to make matching bias for the armholes

and also for the hong kong finishes I did on the seams.

As you can see the tension is a bit wonky on my machine. I really need to sort that! The pink one is exactly the same pattern.

This time the overlap was there (really what happened on the other one? How can an inch or more of material just disappear?!) I have made 2 bound button holes here. They're not the neatest things ever but they're not bad.

Both sets of buttons were chosen by Spadgersdottier herself. She has good taste that girl. Not quite got my button obsession but I'm working on it :o)

Sugar and spice

We've been baking this week, Spadgersdottier and I. We have made gooseberry tart. It was going to be a pie but there wasn't enough gooseberries. I made profiteroles for the first time after much pestering from Spadger

We made little chocolate sponge buns and we baked and decorated cookies. Me, her and pretty much everything in the house are covered in edible glitter. Much to Spadger's disgust hehehehe

This one is my favourite, made for me by my wonderful stepdaughter :oD

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Self Stitched September

'I, Affienia, sign up as a participant of Self-Stitched-September. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade or refashioned item of clothing or accessories/jewelry every day for the duration of September 2010'.

I heard about Me Made May run by So Zo well into May. Didn't really seem worth it at that point. However I think I am up to the challenge of Self Stitched September. The to do list seems to be egging me along nicely so I thought, why not add another little push? I've allowed myself plenty of room in my statement as I've included refashioning and accessories/jewellery. I reckon I can manage it :o)

Monday, 26 July 2010

Sunday's Sparrow

On Sunday when in the garden we heard a sparrow cheeping. This is not unusual as they are nesting in our roof but this one sounded really close. I'd just seen the momma sparrow fly off so we had a look around and sure enough there was a baby sparrow on the floor.

All the advice we could find said to put it back in the nest if you could (not possible), leave it somewhere safe for the momma to look after it (not likely with all the cats round here) or as a last resort take it in. So we did. We put him in a punnet full of rabbit bedding and went out to do a bit of shopping including buying meal worms for him. When we got home he had made his way off the table and into the kitchen. Man this bird had a death wish.

We put him and his punnet in the big crate we use for taking the rabbits to the vets as he couldn't get out of that one. With the aid of my sewing tweezers, a cocktail stick and my thumbnail me and Spadger managed to feed him a couple of worms over the next few hours. Unfortunately he didn't make it. But at least he wasn't mauled by cats on his way out. To complete the circle of life Spadger took his little body over to the wild area across from us. He will either be a meal or compost.

It's sad when the things you try to save don't survive.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Flora and fauna

Good morning folks. Currently I am on holiday, nowhere special just at home. So you can expect my posts to be even more sporadic than normal and very picture heavy. Who doesn't like a nice picture of a flower though, right? Here is some of the flora and fauna in my garden at the moment.


As an accompaniment to the flowers I though we should look at bugs. I adore bugs. They are just so well put together and even the ugly ones are cute. Now you will notice that the first pic is not a bug. But neither is he a flower so I thought he could go in this post. He is my favourite animal so I am sure you will forgive him :o)

I would love to say that the rest of the pics were taken in my garden but, although we are very wildlife heavy here, it's not quite hat good. We explored a part of the farm we had not been to before in a search for wild cherries and came across quite a meadow. That's where all these critters were. The fellow in the second pic was most kind and stayed sill long enough for me to get this wonderful shot. I really recommend clicking on them to enlarge. I think he looks like he has a big buck toothed grin :o)

Yes Greg, love games

We like to play game at our house. We don't have a tv so family time is often spent watching films or playing games. So far this week we have played Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit and watched one film. I'm sure more of all those will happen. It's nice to spend time as a family rather than being alienated from each other by computer games and tv. They both have their places don't get me wrong. But the surprise on people's faces when we say we don't have a tv horrifies me. They always ask what we do. Well when we have the small one we play game. Lots of games :o) Now if only I could beat Spadger

Friday, 23 July 2010

Purple wrap pants

Another one off the to do list. Man I feel like I'm motoring now. People mocked my love of lists (Spadger I'm talking to you!) but they really work for me.

Today I am introducing the wrap shorts. I've owned Thai wrap pants for years. My first 3 pairs were actually from Thailand, bought from a lovely shop in Canterbury. I made a pair or red full length pants from a sheet a while ago and last summer I decided wrap shorts were a great idea. However I wanted to make them a bit less baggy in the crotch and instead made them so low rise they were unwearable. No one needs to see my butt cheeks :o) So they sat in the UFO pile for a year. Well this week I finally finished them. All I did was make a waistband for each side and reattached the ties. To make your own pants please check out this tutorial by Vegbee.

(Check out the lack of visible butt cheek!)

Thursday, 22 July 2010

He's got style, a groovy style and a car that just won't stop.

Firstly let me just say thank you to you all for your kind comments. It's really nice to hear you like my ramblings :o) Also a quick hello to my new follower *waves*

Right then, today's post is brought to you by the letter S and the number 2 (I've come over all Sesame Street hehehe). The S is for sewing and the 2 is for the 2 tops I'm trying to make for Spadgersdottier. I say trying because it's been one of those days. Oh yes folks I am having a s****y day. My first email of the day was someone telling me that two of the items I deal with were wrong and 575 orders would need fixing. Great. Tomorrow is my last day for a week so I've got to get everything up to date and make sure those who are covering me know what they are doing. I personally find the last couple of days before a holiday really stressful for those 2 reasons. So it was a none stop day.

But the evening held for me the prospect of sewing and not much else. Firstly I put some rabbit in the oven to roast and then set down to sewing. I had decided to sew these 2 tops at the same time as they are identical and as I'm in no hurry to finish them it seemed like a good idea. However my sewing machine had other ideas. About half way through my first ever Hong Kong finishes the tension just went haywire. I ran scrap pieces of cotton through and everything was fine, I go back to the actual sewing and it's loopy thread heaven. After much faffing I tried my last thing which was putting the normal presser foot back on rather than the zipper one and suddenly it's fine. I have no idea if it's the foot that did this or not. But since I no longer wanted to throw George out of the window I figured I'd just roll with it.

Hong Kong finish not Phooey :o)

Right now all the Hong Kong finishes are done, the side seams are sewn together and the yokes are pieced. I have machine sewn the armhole binding on all 4 armholes and am sewing them down by hand as I get the feeling it was the thickness of the multiple layers that was throwing George off. I'll finished them another day now.

The rest of my evening involved a rabbit stew where after forever in the oven the potatoes were still like rock and every tiny bit of bone that slipped the net ended up in my bowl. As I said, a s****y day. The pluses are only one day left at work and the medicinal (large) portion of wild cherry cheesecake I had for my pudding.

Roll on 4:15 tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

The title is from ~Ray Bradbury

I read. Lots! I believe the term is voracious. It has been the one truly constant thing about me ever since I was very small. I was far ahead of my reading age. My primary school (age 4-11) ran a system where you had to read so many books with a coloured sticker on and give a coherent report on them and then you could move to the next colour. Once you had completed all the colours you were a free reader and had access to the entire library. I was at that point by my third year (age 7 ish). Christmas and birthday presents until I was around 15 were book tokens. As an only child (my brother didn't come along until I was 18) books were a wonderful thing. How can you be bored or need entertaining when you have whole universes at your fingertips?

I have carried this love of the written word into my adult life. At university I studied English Literature. Some of it was enjoyable but I personally find trying to read a book I am not enjoying is some kind of torment. A lot of people think that studying literature is an easy degree. I can't really argue but that is because I love reading. However getting through 4 novels a week can be quite hard! It did mean that I was able to go on holiday just before my exams though as revision was sat by the pool with a book :o)

These days the library is my best friend. As part of our life now I do try and avoid buying new books. Second hand ones are good. There are certain things that I still buy new. My favourite series of books is The wars of Light and Shadow by Janny Wurts. Whenever a new one comes out it gets bought straight away. No power in the verse could make me wait for Arithon S'ffalenn :o) The other one that has been bought new is Return to Labyrinth. Being a huge Labyrinth fan as soon as I found out about the manga sequel I was at my local comic shop and had them bought. The final one is released today so at some point this week (funds willing) I will be curled up on the sofa with Jareth.

Manga and graphic novels have featured heavily on my agenda recently. The only problem with them is I can go though a 1000 page novel in a day if I have nothing else to do. Take away all the words that aren't speech and I'm going to be done in a few hours at most. This means that the library can't keep up with me. *sigh*

A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. ~Charles Peguy

I love the written word. I love how a good book can make you feel. Laughing out loud at Prachett, crying at Bronte. I love how I can read the same book over and over and feel exactly as I did the first time I read it. I love how a really good book makes you feel that the author is speaking directly to you. I love how I am never alone as long as I have a book.

And then there were 9

I've lost a follower. I feel like a bad shepherd now. It has got me thinking a bit more about my blog though. I read blogs that are both subject specific and those that just ramble. Now I'm not really sure what mine does. I don't think I'm specific so clearly I fall into the rambling category. I know that I've been floundering about what I should write about and this has affected my writing style. I guess I'm scared of what you all think. I should just spew forth a stream of consciousness like I used to. Start waxing rhapsodical about rainbows and babbling about books. But I've been so influenced by the blogs I read that all I seem to talk about are tiny snippets of my day.

I guess it's not all that exciting.

So I think it's time to turn over a new blog leaf. Time to tune into the writer I know is inside me. Hang on folks, it's gonna get a little strange! :o)

Friday, 16 July 2010

Wild cherries

On our way home from the show the other day we walked past an elderberry bush we has foraged from for a few years. But it wasn't elderberries that made us stop. Oh no my friend it was wild cherries. Spadger promptly handed me all the bags, grabbed a carrier off me and shinnied up on the wall and started stripping the tree of every ripe berry he could reach. We came home with over a pound of free berries. Damn I love foraging. Today I have turned them into cheesecake using homemade labna for the cheese and a chocolate oaty base.

We went for a walk down the canal side today and it seems that the blackberries have recovered form the harsh cut back the council gave them last year. We also found wild raspberries (woot says I), more wild cherries (though someone else had beaten us to them) and re-discovered the apple tree we found last year. Who needs a supermarket with this nearby?!

So very sore

We went to the Great Yorkshire Show yesterday. Up at 6, on a train by 7:20 and not getting home til about 5. We only sat down once and that was for a cuppa at the Women's Institute hall. I hurt everywhere today. All that walking and heavy backpack carrying have done me in. To add to these aches I also cut my finger on a bolt right at the beginning of the day and it's a tad on the swollen side today. Might just have to keep an eye on that.

So aches aside how was the show I hear you all ask. Well it was.....ok. I was expecting it to be much more farmy that it was. Sure there was livestock (including alpacas!) but we picked Thursday as it was poultry day. Unfortunately for us this consisted of one small barn full of mainly roosters who were there for competitions. Nothing else at all! There was a lot of agricultural machinery but it was all of the gigantic nature used at the super farms that we really don't want to be a part of. There was a lot of food but not much of it was what I was expecting either. We did manage to pick up some chutneys and cheeses plus a nice port. However there was a lot of big chain type people there rather than the little local artisans I was expecting.

Other than that it was all shops really. Lots of tweed and outdoor clothing which is certainly applicable to the lifestyle. But jewellery, cookware, handbags, perfume etc. You've lost me. Now don't get me wrong, I don't really shop anymore but I do still kinda like window shopping. But I didn't think I was going to an open air market so I was a tad disappointed. There was an amazing basket shop but I was able to resist. Even when Spadger said I could buy one. I'd love some baskets but I haven't really got the room now. Plus I'm kinda looking forward to owning Spadger's first attempt at making them.

We've decided that we're gonna have a look out in future for some of the smaller local shows in the hope that they are a bit more what we are looking for. We want friendly folk who can talk to us, tell us about their farming, let us sit at their feet as it were.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The corset is dead

Ok so I might have fixed the corset but it didn't survive it's first outing. I went to the theatre last night to see Spamalot and by the time we got there several of the bones had pushed out at the bottom. It's the front 4 that have gone and all they have done is forced their way past the binding I put on. Solution: stronger and wider binding. So I'm gonna unpick all the binding, re-stitch the bottom and make some better binding for it.


I don't recommend sitting though something so funny in a broken corset, I have some lovely bruises :o(

Monday, 12 July 2010

Proof that summer doesn't last forever

Oh yes my friends that is a conker you see. Well, it's the beginnings of one anyway.

As you can see the conker itself is nowhere in sight yet. But they are growing on the trees. Proof positive that summer can't last forever and the wonder that is Autumn will return. The air will cool, dew will last longer and my breath will fog in the air. I will be comfortable. Come on Autumn, come back to me!

Friday, 9 July 2010

The corset is done

I have fixed the corset!

Ages ago I bought a cheap corset, maybe £25, knowing that it couldn't be used for reduction purposes but I was hoping I could use it under strapless things. Now it worked but the boning used was the plastic kind and that combined with the less than sturdy construction meant that it bent in really uncomfortable ways. So we bought some flat steel boning, unpicked the bottom and swapped the boning and then stitched and bound the bottom again. Now it works fine.

Sorry for the gratuitous booby shot!

This will replace a strapless bra for me as I can no longer get those in my size. It means I can wear my favourite dress again. I've not been able to put this on in 4 years!

Isn't it pretty?!