Friday, 13 April 2018

A Fabric Shopping Spree


Over the past few weeks we have been planning a total revamp of our front room.  While my husband has been thinking of new shelves in the recesses and an overmantel, my department has been the colour scheme and fabrics.

It has taken a while, including a couple of ridiculously late nights trawling through curtain fabric on the internet, but decisions have been made.  Here is a sample of the curtain fabric, together with a swatch of the lovely restful green which we have chosen for re-upholstering the settee and chairs.  To give a sense of the scale of the flowers, the swatch measures 6 x 4 inches.

Armed with the two samples, I went on a shopping spree this week for fabrics with which to make cushions.  I only visited two shops, the first for fabrics on the roll and the second for remnants, and came home with quite a haul.


These big bold poppies will make a statement, and I managed to find a plain green in just the right shade for the back of the cushions.


For contrast and restraint, I found this tartan, which has green running through it, and which teams up with the Morris Snakeshead print.  I found two long strips of the print in the remnant box of a shop that makes curtains to measure.



Finally, half a metre of a red sprig design, which might well end up in tea cosies rather than cushions, and the find of the day.  Right at the bottom of the remnant basket I found a metre of Morris Bluebell fabric.  It was love at first sight.  The colours have a timeless quality, and the symmetry of the design is fascinating.


The flowers are intriguing.  Here are the so-called bluebells, but I would happily take anyone on for a punch up.  If they aren't lily-of-the-valley I'm a Dutchman.


This has to be a fanciful passion flower...


...whereas these columbines are incredibly accurate.  They self-seed freely in our garden and come in shades of purple and pink.  They are one of my all-time favourite flowers, so I was delighted when I spotted them.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Free Motion Mavericks - Week 180 - Spot the Difference


Look carefully beyond the little shortbreads, one of which magically disappeared between photos...


...and concentrate on the tea cosies. 

Finished at last!  The job I set myself before Easter is finally done, and that is the last of these jolly colourful cosies made with these particular fabrics.  At first sight they all look the same, but each one is different hence the different coloured binding on these two.

Here goes for Week 180.

Many thanks to Olena, who was the only person to link up last time, showing her gorgeous elephant quilt.  If you haven't seen her blog post yet, nip over now and have a closer look.



If you love free motion quilting, whether you are a beginner just taking the plunge, or you have reached the stage where you can do ostrich feathers with your eyes shut and still achieve perfect symmetry, then please link up.




Remember, FMQ is FMQ, whether your machine was made last week, or it is older than your granny.


Here are the very easy and slightly elastic rules:-

1.  Link up with any recent post, ideally from the last week but within the last month, which features a free motion quilting project, whether it is a work in progress or a finish.

2.  Link back to this post in your own post.
  
3.  Visit as many of the other participants as possible and say hello in the comments box.

4.  The link up will remain open for four days, from midnight to midnight GMT for the long weekend, Friday to Monday.

So far quilters from the USA, England, Wales, Australia, Canada, Germany, Holland, New Zealand, France, Macau, Russia, Ireland and Brazil have taken part.  The first participant from each new country will get a special mention the following week.


Linking up with Amanda Jean's blog Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Twiddle Blanket With Forget-Me-Nots


Or are they blue windmills?

The volunteer organisation that collects and distributes twiddle blankets to dementia patients in the local hospital has adopted the forget-me-not as their symbol, so this time I knitted blue flowers.  But they are big and bold, so the similarity with forget-me-nots ends with the colour.


I used muted pinks and greys for much of the background, but threw in a bit of yellow here and there.  With the pale brown next to it I am transported back to my childhood.  Who else remembers banana splits, individually wrapped rectangular toffees, four for a penny?  By that I mean proper big pre-decimalisation pennies.


The flowers are all knitted with double yarn to vary the shades, so no two are exactly alike.  This is the darkest.


And this one hits the average, and looks the most mottled.

Now that the weather has finally warmed up I shall restrict myself to small scale knitting projects.  Once these blankets started to grow they kept me warm as I knitted them!

Linking up with Sarah's blog Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday
and Amanda Jean's blog Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday.

Free Motion Mavericks - Week 179 - Better Late Than Never


Late doesn't mean I have forgotten - this week's linky is finally open - it just means that yesterday took an unexpected turn...

When we woke up the ground was dry.  Our jaws dropped.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky.  We gasped.

The resident blackbird was in full voice at the top of the tree at the bottom of the garden.

Spring had finally arrived, and the barometer and I were in shock.

And then I sprang into action.  By early afternoon there were two loads of laundry on the line, then I got my gardening clothes on and bravely ventured out to the allotment to see if I could start digging and generally tidying up.

The project I had lined up for the Easter holiday has been neglected for all the best reasons.  Our daughter was with us for eleven days, she had a guest to stay with us for five days, so life has revolved around family, with a distinct emphasis on cooking.

So sewing had to wait until this morning.  And this is as far as I have got.  One loop sewn into place...

... out of the two loops ready for two tea cosies

How is it with every little job you end up being distracted by another equally little job?  I remembered that I had had problems with red thread in the past.  When rummaging through my threads looking for the right shade of red I was fairly sure I knew which one was the culprit, but thought I had better check.


I folded a piece of kitchen roll, wet it, put a strand of thread between the layers, and laid a hot iron on top for a couple of seconds.  The result was instant, a line of dye leached straight into the paper.  In an uncharacteristic attack of efficiency, I labelled the cotton reel. 

How appropriate.  The kitchen roll has jolly little teapots on it.



Here goes, a little later than usual, for Week 179.

Many thanks to Andrée, who was the only person to link up last time, showing her Street Art My Way quilt.  If you haven't seen her blog post yet, nip over now and have a closer look.



If you love free motion quilting, whether you are a beginner just taking the plunge, or you have reached the stage where you can do ostrich feathers with your eyes shut and still achieve perfect symmetry, then please link up.




Remember, FMQ is FMQ, whether your machine was made last week, or it is older than your granny.


Here are the very easy and slightly elastic rules:-

1.  Link up with any recent post, ideally from the last week but within the last month, which features a free motion quilting project, whether it is a work in progress or a finish.

2.  Link back to this post in your own post.
  
3.  Visit as many of the other participants as possible and say hello in the comments box.

4.  The link up will remain open for four days, from midnight to midnight GMT for the long weekend, Friday to Monday.

So far quilters from the USA, England, Wales, Australia, Canada, Germany, Holland, New Zealand, France, Macau, Russia, Ireland and Brazil have taken part.  The first participant from each new country will get a special mention the following week.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Gluten-Free Cherry and Almond Polenta Cake


One of life's great pleasures - tea and cake in the afternoon.  This is the first slice from a cherry and almond polenta cake that I made today. 

A couple of months ago I had a slice of lemon polenta cake in a café and loved it, so I looked at recipes online.  I particularly wanted to find a cake that I could make for the next time my daughter in law visits, because she is wheat-intolerant, but most of the recipes either had wheat flour in them, or baking powder.  Otherwise the recipes called for creaming margarine and sugar, which is a process I am not particularly keen on.  In the end I decided to live dangerously and invent a recipe, and tried it out a little while ago.  I made one large round cake in a 9 inch tin, and it looked enormous, but my husband and I had no trouble working through it over a few days.

This time I used the same quantities and made two cakes in loaf tins.  Our daughter is at home at the moment, and she doesn't like cherries in cakes, so I made one with cherries and one without.

There is no weighing involved in this recipe.  I use a small glass which holds a quarter of a pint as a measure - the same glass that I use for the muffins recipe.

If you measure out the ingredients in the order that I show in the list and pictures below you won't need to wash the glass out until you have finished.

You will need three separate bowls - a large one for the main mixture, one for dry ingredients, and another for the whipping the egg whites.


Ingredients

1 measure polenta
2 measures ground almonds
2 measures granulated sugar
1 measure sunflower oil
1 measure full fat plain yoghurt (Greek yoghurt is best)
5 eggs
cherries
whole blanched almonds



Mix the polenta and ground almonds in a separate bowl.


Use as many cherries as you like, and cut them into quarters on a plate.  These are Italian sour cherries in syrup, which came in a jar, so I needed to make sure that I had drained the syrup off them.


Then I coated them with about a teaspoonful of the polenta and ground almond mixture, so that they aren't too slippery and end up slipping down to the bottom of the cake.


The next job is separating the eggs.  The yolks go into the large mixing bowl (the fifth yolk is hiding) with the sugar, sunflower oil and yoghurt.  The yoghurt had started separating in the pot, so I drained off the liquid, otherwise the mixture might have ended up a little too runny.


Whisk all the ingredients in the large bowl until you have a nice smooth mixture.


Then, using a knife, fold in the polenta and ground almonds.


Next, beat the eggs whites until they are stiff...


... and gently fold the egg whites into the mixture, a dollop at a time...


... until the mixture looks like this.  Tiny lumps of the aerated egg whites will still be visible.


The mixture is now ready to be spooned into the cake tins.  I always use a paper lining. 

For the cherry cake, I put in a layer of mixture, laid half of the cherries on top, then covered them with mixture and put in the rest of the cherries, and covered them too.


Both cakes are then decorated with blanched almonds on top, and put into a pre-heated oven.


They need a low oven.  I have a fan oven, which is very good at burning cakes.  I started these cakes off at 120°C, but after 20 minutes they had too much of a suntan, so I turned the oven down to 100°C.  After 45 minutes they were ready - a skewer came out clean.




Here is the first slice from the cherry cake - a bit crumbly because I should have let it cool down a little longer, but we had made a pot of tea and were impatient to try it out.

It's delicious.  Also, because this cake is made with sunflower oil instead of margarine, it doesn't have a tendency to dry out, and keeps better if it isn't all eaten at once. 

Sunday, 25 March 2018

A Picture for Sunday - Catkins


This is another of the pictures I took last Sunday.  The snow had all disappeared by Monday evening, and in this part of the country I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see snow again for three or four years.

Catkins and snow are a rare combination.  I loved the way they were blowing in the wind.

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