I have been going to the same hairdresser for more than 20 years, every 5 weeks I go and get my grey roots covered , I often see the same fellow customers who have also been customers for years, it is like a self help group. We have shared our ups and downs getting sympathy and advice, and giving it in return, sharing knowledge or simply a sympathetic ear. No doubt I am talked about when I’m not there but I don’t mind, if my experiences can be of help, or dire warning to others all well and good, and if it merely gives folks something to laugh at that’s OK too. It’s certainly cheaper than therapy, and I get to give as well as receive.
People also give what they have and don’t need, to those who might make use of it, and this is how I came to acquire some furnishing fabrics. They are multi coloured samples of a heavy silk weight, probably polyester, which I think I can use for foundation piecing.
When I was emptying my cupboard , in order to move it without doing ourselves an injury, I found these pre-printed foundation patterns. I think I will make a rainbow coloured quilt from the silks. It will turn out quite stiff, so it may end up being a wall hanging or maybe it could be a bag…… decisions …decisions.
The fabric which I had been seeking for months, the fabric I wanted to use to make a quilt for a good friend of mine, it turned up the moment I gave up seeking it. Isn’t it always the way? A cupboard which usually stands at the bottom of the stairs, and holds that part of my stash which I’m not planning to use any time soon, needed to be moved.
We had invited my parents to join us for Christmas dinner which meant the dining table needed to moved to the dining room from the sitting room where it normally lives ( long story, don’t ask), and the two arm chairs which normally live in the dining room, had to move to the sitting room. The Christmas tree which would normally be put up in the dining room, would not fit in there this Christmas, so we decided to set it up in the hall; the only place it would fit was the spot where the cupboard was standing.
The cupboard clearly had not been moved for some time, and once moved there were a number of lost treasures which had fallen down the back, a few socks, a scarf, and my precious stash of special fabric. So that was an unexpected piece of good fortune. ( Note to self, clean behind furniture more often.)
This is a charm pack of squares, which I need to put together with another bought fabric to tie them all together, and an accent colour to brighten them up a bit, I originally thought of using the terracotta fabric I’ve placed them on but it isn’t right, it just isn’t looking good, so I might see if I can find a mushroomy grey beige for sashing, and a guacamole or mushy pea green for the accent.
We took the footpath along the estuary, someone has layed the hedge where last October we picked Elderberries, the Elder bushes have been cut to the ground, disaster, we’ll have to find somewhere else to pick next year.
As we were walking and chatting, I heard a rustling in the bushes, and saw a Robin, my Dearest kept talking and whenever I moved to get a better view, he moved to stand in the way, typical man!
I waited to get a picture , after a little shyness the Robin must have guessed I wanted a picture because he hopped out of the undergrowth and literally posed for me, getting closer and closer with every shutter click.
Christmas Eve and I needed to decant my macerating liqueurs in time to give them as gifts and enjoy them myself. The first task was to prepare the bottles. I’d put aside some half and quarter litre bottles, which I’d bought specially for the task, they were full of wine at the time, but I soon put paid to that, I needed the bottles, but they come free when you buy the wine and it would be a shame to waste it.
Getting the labels off is easy, soak in hot water till the label is soaked and the glue underneath it warmed, so it peels off easily or at least scrapes off easily with a thumb nail, if there is residue left I have a great trick which I got from Pinterest. Rather than use Sticky Stuff Remover which is petroleum based and toxic , so not a good thing to use on bottles for consumables, I use plain old cooking oil made into a paste with bicarbonate of soda. Rub on… rub off, wash it with liquid soap, Presto, crystal clean bottles.
First I strained the Coffee Orange Liqueur through muslin, the smell was incredible, and very conveniently when I had bottled it there was just enough to fill a glass to taste it before I made it into stocking fillers.
The glass was a bargain, another charity shop find, 4 little Victorian sherry glasses, £2, and another 2 crystal liqueur glasses, a pound each, they will be going in stockings along with the liqueurs, just in case the recipients don’t have a suitable glass to serve it in.
Then I strained the Damson gin off the damsons (which I then heated in a pan, to burn off the alcohol, they look like mini prunes, and will be going on my morning porridge ) and strange to say when I had bottled the Damson gin, there was again just enough to fill a glass to quality check the produce, how lucky is that?
The Coffee Orange Liqueur is lovely, but the Damson Gin is DIVINE, like liquid Damson, not too sweet, doesn’t taste of alcohol it just tastes of the most wonderful, concentrated damson flavour, which is pretty hard to beat, particularly in something “homemade”.
For months now I have been searching without success for a stash of fabric I had put aside to make a quilt for a friend for Christmas, I had planned to make it last year but ran out of time and energy, so put the fabric aside in a safe place till I was ready to begin….but where? I can’t find it anywhere, and I guess even if I did now, I would not have time to make even the simplest quilt. I even pulled out one of my UFO’s and considered finishing it for her but decided not, I love her dearly, she deserves her own quilt conceived and made specifically for her, in her colours. It doesn’t have to be now and it shouldn’t be rushed or ill conceived, besides I am still having ideas about it, so clearly it is not yet a done deal.
However I am making something for her, her own stocking. I found in a charity shop some weeks ago a printed panel for a Christmas stocking, and bought it for £2.99, I guess it would have been £5 to £10 pounds or more to buy in a quilt shop.
I cut the two sides apart and cut out the shapes with a centimetre seam allowance, it needs to be greater than a quarter inch because I will use the seam allowance turned in on itself to neaten the seam. I will sew it at 5/8ths and this will ensure no white will show at the edge.
I cut a lining from a plain white fabric I had to hand and a piece of wadding for each side, and sewed all three together along the top edge the front and the lining right sides together, with the wadding on the back.
Then the wadding was trimmed back as close to the seam as possible , and the printed panel flipped over so that the wadding is now in the middle. I neatly pinned the top edge then tacked it to ensure the lining did not roll out and show above the printed panel. I will top stitch when it has been tacked together to keep the top edge stable.
I have always enjoyed making things for Christmas, either to offer guests or maybe as presents, this year I have a number of liqueurs macerating in jars in the downstairs powder room, it’s cool and north facing.
This is one that really intrigued me, I found it on a website http://www.instructables.com and just had to try it.
Wash your Orange first. Make 44 holes in the orange and poke a coffee bean in each opening. Then put the orange in a jar.(I’m using a jar I picked up in my local charity shop for 50p) Fill the jar with 4 cups of grain alcohol/vodka. Then add your sugar over the top of the alcohol. The original recipe called for 44 sugar cubes but 6 tablespoons of sugar is enough.
You will need to store it for 44 days in a dark, cool place before removing the orange/coffeebeans. Be sure to shake it up every once in awhile to ensure the sugar dissolves. Do remember to make a note of the date you started, or make a note on your calendar of when it will be finished.
After 44 days, strain the liquid off the orange, decant into bottles, and enjoy chilled.
The two sides were quilted in circles using a CD and a circle cut from card as my quilting guide, and the zip carefully set into one side.the wadding cut back and the lining turned under and slip stitched to the zip fabric, to allow the zip to run. The whole thing then stitched round and turned out through the zip opening. Had the cover turned out to be too big, I would have top stitched around the edge to adjust the size, but it worked out just right.
So I finally finished the cushion, and proudly presented it to the 13 year old to be met with an unimpressed grunt, such is to be expected from a teenager.
The next day I noticed he wasn’t using it, “its scratchy” he tells me… it is so soft to the touch because it’s made from recycled, well washed fabrics!
Finally he asked could it be made smaller, could I “cut a bit off all round” so it will fit on the chair better? I admit I made it to fit the cushion I had, rather than the chair. Back to the drawing board then, what does a girl have to do to get some appreciation around here?
I have recently had a little problem which I hope to have solved, with a little judicious stitchery.
The 13 year old is on holiday from school this week, when he isn’t at school or asleep he is generally in his room on his computer playing games either alone or with “virtual friends “ who might be anywhere in the waking world. He sits on a computer chair which he finds less than comfortable so he will creep into my bedroom and take my lovely feather pillow in crisp white linen, to sit on!
As you can imagine, I’m not impressed by having to sleep on a pillow which has been in close proximity to a 13 year old boy’s rarely washed, and flatulent nether regions only minutes before I retire to bed and for probably the preceding 12 hours.
My solution is a feather cushion of his very own to sit on. I had one in my stash, but no cover for it.
Looking in my fabric stash, apart from my check shirts which are not negotiable, I have very little which isn’t rather too girly for a boy who does not countenance anything which might blight the tender shoots of his pubescent masculinity.
I found a shirt in cream and blue stripes, one of my early mistakes when buying shirts, it is striped not checked; two pairs of his father’s pajama bottoms, worn out at the seat but still plenty of wear in the legs (what does that tell you about my Dearest?) and a pair of his father’s boxer shorts size small from when he used to smoke 60 a day and had the hips of a racing snake, long time past.
I had seen the disappearing nine patch block but had not yet had the opportunity to use it, given the proportion of fabrics I had ( 3;4;4;1) it seemed a good choice.
I used the darker check from the boxer shorts for the centre square I’d only need 8 4” squares. The cream shirt and blue checked PJ’s for the sides and corner squares, 32 of each, and the striped pair of PJ’s for the outer border.
Make a nine patch, press it and slice it up again and across the centre in both directions to produce 4 blocks.
I tried two different placements of the resultant squares, so the two sides of the cushion are subtly different. It will need a zip, no doubt it will need washing frequently, and probably an inner cover to help keep the cushion clean. The 13 year old’s room is mainly blue and cream so this will blend in fairly well, by which I mean there is nothing here for him to take offence at, he may accept it without too much persuasion. We won’t need to consider “what people might think”, or any of those other concerns so particular to 13 year old’s.
Following my recent successful forays into hedgerow gathering for wine I have been considering what else might be lurking in the undergrowth which I might make use of. Rose hips kept coming to mind and eye. I have noticed as I drive around the country roads that the wild dog roses which can be found flowering abundantly in the hedgerows in spring are currently sporting bright red and orange hips on almost naked stems, waving at me in the autumn sunshine.
Whilst the thought of making them into wine appealed, I have a vivid happy memory of rose hip syrup. When I was a very small girl, back in the far distant 1960’s my mother gave my sister and I a teaspoon of rose hip syrup occasionally, probably through the winter to ward off coughs and sneezes. Perhaps she had happy memories of rose hip syrup herself being a child of the war years when rose hip syrup was made from hedgerow pickings and given free to children, because it is an excellent source of Vitamin C,( 20 times as much as oranges) which would have been a scarce resource in war time when citrus fruits were unavailable and leafy vegetables seasonal.
Then a blog I follow, lovely greens did a blog post on making elderberry syrup, (Hmmmm)… decision made, Rose hip syrup it is! I waited a few days of windy and rainy evenings, till we were blessed with a calm clear day, and went off to my usual gathering spot; a cycle path on the Lune estuary near Glasson Dock. We found rose hips in abundance, but the sun was going down. We only managed to pick half of the amount I needed by the time the sun set at the mouth of the estuary. My Beloved having been prickled and scratched, insisted we went home before we found ourselves benighted. As we walked briskly back to the car, on our right towards the west the sky was lit up in shades of coral and gold by the sun, already set, while on our left the darkening sky was lit by a beautiful full moon rising over a copse of beech trees. I had my camera with me but was being rushed back to the car in case it went so dark we got lost!!!
As we drove away from the car park we were passed by my sister and niece, waving enthusiastically they were arriving for a leisurely stroll in the dusk, a moonlit walk, how lovely, Dearest! Do you think we should send out a search party or might they have found their way home?
So thanks for the idea Lovely Greens http://www.lovelygreens.com, and thanks for the recipe Girl interrupted eating http://girlinterruptedeating.wordpress.com
Rosehip Syrup Recipe
400g of rosehips
1 pint of water
100g of sugar
1. Simmer the rosehips in the water for 15 minutes, mash and return to a simmer for a further 15 minutes
2. Strain through muslin to remove the fruit pulp
3. Stir in the sugar and warm over a gentle heat
4. Pour into sterilised jars