Tuesday 28 February 2017

Cook the Books - February

Week One:  A birthday always means cake, Mr J's birthday was no exception. As pieces also get taken to school for lunch box treats, I decided not to make anything too rich or inclined to melt in the summer heat we have been enjoying.  I made him Chocolate Chippy Cake from Annabel Langbeins Celebrate Summer Annual.

Verdict:  I found the cake a little dry, but I may have cooked it a little too long.  It was a hit with The Scout, and of course the birthday boy.   I especially like the vanilla icing.

Week Two:  Life has been pretty hectic with school, work and of course all the after school activities that start again.  Finally on Friday afternoon, I managed to get some baking done.  Again a recipe from Annabel Langbein's Celebrate Summer - Peanut Crunch Slice.  This was a very simple and quick recipe to make, the most time consuming part was probably chopping the peanuts.

Verdict:  A nice slice, though mine was a little crumbly due to the fact I misread the size of the tray it was meant to be cooked, meaning the base was a little thinner. Enjoyed by everyone, and I completely forgot to take a photo until it was all gone.

Week Three:  My sister had been raving about the Moroccan Chicken and Apricot Salad from Chelsea Winter's  book, Homemade Happiness.  Nicely flavoured, with apricots, nuts, herbs and lots of different spices in the chicken marinade.  A creamy yogurt dressing tops it all off.

Verdict:  Not too bad, it possibly could have done with a little more salt and if I had read the recipe properly and used spinach instead of assuming it was lettuce, it may have tasted a little different too.  Mr J not overly impressed with the Israeli Couscous,   Maybe next time I'd try it with orzo too.

Week Four:  Plums that needed to be used up, and a fortuitous recipe find on facebook, led to me creating Plum Ice Cream Sandwiches.  Super simple to make, even the wafers were easy to create.

Verdict:  I would recommend making this the day before you intend to serve it, my ice cream was slightly more semi-freddo than solid.  Still very yummy and it received rave reviews from all the family on a hot summer evening.

I think next month's meals maybe a little different as I try to help Miss B in her quest for a sugar free month.  Interesting times ahead.

Please link up your Cook the Book endeavours in the linky below - would love to see what you have all been up to.

Saturday 25 February 2017

Testing Complete

Woohoo - my Tiptoe through the Tulips test block is finished.   I love how this came together and how the colours really pop against the dark background, almost reminiscent of stained glass.  Read here for the story behind my colour palette inspiration.

 Allison's pattern instructions were clear and on the whole the pattern came together easily. Only one of the large leaf arrow blocks had to be unpicked, because I got the HST round the wrong way. I have to admit I wasn't looking forward to making the Drunkard's Path blocks, I have sewn curves before but never this many.  They turned out well, and as the blocks are sewn a little larger than required, there is room for trimming too, so they all end up looking pretty near perfect.

I had intended to use Allison Glass's new Sunprint  range for the flowers, unfortunately due to big delays in post arriving, I had to resort to some fabrics in my stash, luckily my fabric order turned up in time for the applique circles, which gave just the pop of colour I was wanting.  I used the foil applique method for the large circle in the centre of the block and raw edge applique for the small circles, which I finished with a blanket stitch.  The little bias applique strips are a Liberty print.

For more inspiring test blocks, have a look here.  Thanks Allison for letting me test this pattern, I know there will be some stunning quilts made once your pattern is released.

Sunday 19 February 2017


Happenings from the week just gone and this weekend.
  • Working on my Tiptoe through the Tulips test block, so far I am liking how it's looking. I'm using a shot cotton in Carbon colourway for the background, love the colour, hate how it frays. Now I just need to  finish the arrow/leaf blocks, applique on some circles after I have decided on their colour and sew it together.
  • We had lunch at my sister in laws yesterday, she made these delicious Fish cakes. She also had a new nine month old cat, so very entertaining seeing Mr J play with her.  I had forgotten how much energy a young cat has.
  • Miss B thinks she would like to try sugar free for the month of March, so she will not be eating cakes, biscuits, muesli bars and processed cereals. I don't have the time or the money, to completely change our diets, or cook a separate meal for her each night, however I feel that on the whole we are pretty healthy eaters. We have compromised, in that she will eat things like pasta with sauce, if the sugar content is less than 5g per serving. It has been an interesting experience looking at food labels while shopping, however, I have found some products use significantly less sugar then others  so have bought these for us too. Luckily my sister in law has tried this way of eating, so I borrowed a recipe book  from her for inspiration also.
  • My first Yoga class was on Wednesday evening, I didn't really know what to expect but enjoyed it immensely.  I think the combination of doing something just for me, the time out away from home and all those stretches was just what I needed.  For the first time in weeks I haven't had tension in my neck or shoulders. Of course leaning over a sewing machine brings it back.  Looking forward to next week.
  • I am reading The Dark Days Club - unusually for me, this is young adult/teen fiction.  Set in  high society Regency England with a supernatural theme, I am actually quite enjoying this so far.  It is the first in the series.
Hope you all have a wonderful week.

Friday 17 February 2017

Tiptoe through the Tulips

from http://www.basmeeuws.com/en/work/


I am pattern testing again for Allison from Campbell Soup Diary.  She is releasing a new pattern called Tiptoe through the Tulips mid March.  It combines traditional piecing, curved piecing and applique. It is a huge block 24" square, so I am sure that a quilt would come together relatively quickly.

My vision of this block differs from Allison's, in that much as I love the look of  white fabric in quilts, I know it is not really practical in my house, nor is it something I would ever use.  However I love the dramatic colour of parrot tulips against a dark background similar to those in Bas Meeuws photographs,  so have used some of these as inspiration for my block.  Rather than turn the block into a pillow or mini quilt, I am going to use it as the centre piece for a medallion quilt, something which has been on my  "one day quilts list" for a long time.   Because of the colors I am using,  I'm thinking the name of my block should be something a long the lines of  "Midnight in the Tulip Garden".

So far all the pieces exept for those to be appliqued have been cut. There are a lot of pieces required for this block, so I would very much recommend labelling the pieces as you cut them, so that you know exactly what belongs where. HST have been made and trimmed (gosh, I hate trimming) ready to start  piecing  the leaf/arrow parts of the block.

It's meant to rain this weekend, so fingers crossed I get lots of sewing done.
What plans do you have for the weekend?

Friday 10 February 2017

Here & Now

Loving // this beautiful pink Hibiscus growing on a tree in my neighbourhood,
Eating // tomatoes, red and green - fresh from my vege garden
Drinking //at this moment a hot chocolate, soon it will be a TGIF chardonnay
Feeling //tired  and a wee bit stressed,  hot nights make sleep difficult, and proposed restructuring at work doesn't help one's state of mind
Making //some different hexis - these patterns from The New Hexagon
Thinking //about getting a new cat - lots of interesting discussions with my family about this 
Dreaming // of fabric colours and combinations for an interesting quilt pattern I'm testing

Linking up to Here & Now at Say Little Hen

Sunday 5 February 2017

Summer Stitching

Another long weekend, got to love them.  I had plans to sew a block or two for Miss B's Seaglass sampler quilt, and do some more quilting on my Tula City Sampler quilt, however, it has been such glorious weather, that I have been sitting outside under the umbrella reading  (Holding by Graham Norton) and working away on my Bird Dance project.  There are the odd little quirks with these patterns, and I have replaced/muddled up some of the recommended stitches with other stitches - loving how these are looking though.  Since I took these photos legs are now appearing on these birds too.

Edited:  There are 30 blocks in total to make and each block is 6.5" unfinished.