Elderflower Vodka; how to make it

I encouraged some small creatures to depart, the ones who wouldn’t go got squashed.

Elderflower Vodka

I had been planning to make elderflower Vodka for weeks, since I saw the first Elderflower umbels begin to flower. I bought Vodka and waited for a lovely summers day to go out and gather some elderflowers. In came the rain, and the gales, and cold weather, Brrr, not going out in this!

Elderflower Vodka

Yesterday I noticed that most of the elderflowers were already finished and decided today would have to be the day, or it was all over for another year, and no elderflower vodka. This morning it was sunny and still, a perfect day, and I only needed to walk a short way from my door to find a small elderflower bush with a shady side which was less advanced than I’d seen out and about yesterday. Ten or so Umbels picked and back to my suntrap back garden.

Elderflower Vodka

So what else do I need? a Lemon, and a bottle of Vodka, 100g of sugar, and a glass jar.Elderflower Vodka

I gently removed the flower heads from the stems, Elderflowers aren’t toxic but the wood and stems are, I don’t think I would poison anyone if I’d left the stems on but you just never know. I de-stem the flowers over a plate so I can check for foreign bodies or small creatures, which can be encouraged away or squashed according to preference. I encouraged some small creatures to depart, the ones who wouldn’t go got squashed.

Elderflower Vodka
Lemon Zest

On top of the flowers went the zest of a lemon, and a 100 grams of sugar, and a 75cl bottle of Vodka, (it should have been a Ltr but I only had a 75cl bottle) So only 75 cls of Elderflower vodka this year.

Elderflower vodka
a little sugar

On top of the flowers I put 3 layers of greaseproof paper and the lemon slices, this is to hold the flowers under the vodka to stop them going brown and colouring the vodka.
I found the recipe at wild at heart foods, thanks and credit where it’s due.

note to self… next time cut the paper to fit the jar, 3 or 4 layers slightly offset, each tucked down the side of the jar slightly  will hold the flowers down better. Some of the lemon slices can go under the paper, all of them is too many. I have made elderflower liqueur before, see :- Elderflower liqueur

More Thrifty buys

I’m always on the lookout for Haberdashery; buttons for instance, so I was really pleased to find this tin full of buttons some of them quite old, for £2 at a car boot fair.

more thrifty buys
flower press

Don’t you just love a bargain? I do, let me show you what I have found recently, more thrifty buys. A few months ago I came across a lady teaching paper making. I’ve always wanted to have a go at that so when she offered to sell me a kit I could not resist it. To make paper with pretty little organic inclusions in it you need organic matter, flower petals for instance.There were some in the kit, but I thought I could make some of my own from the flowers in my own garden. If you just collect petals they will dry up and discolour, they need to be pressed to preserve shape and colour. My dearest suggested I buy a flower press but I reckoned I could find one in a charity shop, and a few weeks later… presto £1 in my local charity shop. It even came with pressed flowers in it. I have a good collection of flower petals in the press waiting till I have time to get out that paper making kit, cold wet winter weekends are just around the corner.

more thrifty buys
button tin

I’m always on the lookout for Haberdashery; buttons for instance, so I was really pleased to find this tin full of buttons some of them quite old, for £2 at a car boot fair. I guess there must be easily £20 worth of old buttons which I can sell, and the tin is vintage, in really good condition it’s a 1960’s Quality street tin. A similar one on Etsy is selling for £4.99. Maybe I should open my own Etsy shop.

more thrifty buys
button jars

A few days later I found a plastic bag full of buttons also £2, some of which are also quite old, together with the ones in the tin there was enough to fill all of these jars. I might sell the old ones, the Victorian and Art Deco ones, and use the others for embellishments on patchwork or fabric pictures. I’m really pleased with my thrifty buys. It doesn’t take much to please me when it comes to craft materials, my thrift shop bargains.

Beanbag camera kit

no little beads clinging to every surface, my hands, my clothes… if you’ve ever had dealings with polystyrene beads you’ll know what I mean.

beanbag camera kit
freebie fabric

In the middle of developing an idea about making a beanbag support for my camera I visited my sister and whilst telling her all about it she showed me her new make. She had been to the wonderful factory shop we have locally which sells designer furnishing and dress weight fabrics, and bought a small amount of Ralph Lauren Home fabric. She had  made cushions and a table cloth to spruce up her porch, to make it into somewhere she could sit when the sun is shining but not quite warmly enough to be outside. She had a small amount left which she gave to me, because it was just the size I needed for my project. I’m such a lucky sister.

beanbag camera kit
Inside/outside sitting area

So I made a beanbag, by turning the fabric into a tube and then stitching the end seams at 180 degrees to one another to create a little humbug shaped beanbag cushion,  leaving a gap at one end for the filling.

beanbag camera kit
make a humbug beanbag

I turned the beanbag right sides out, and made a paper funnel out of some scrap paper to fill the bag with.

beanbag camera kit
paper funnel

The beanbag is filled with polystyrene beads, which I have recycled from an old beanbag seat that was bought for the 15 year old to sit on when he has a little lad, and which has lain forlorn and unused in my studio for  longer than I care to admit (my excuse is I always knew it would come in handy one day).  l could have used rice or beans but I wanted it to be as light as possible, because my camera kit is already heavy enough.

beanbag camera kit
polystyrene beads

I scooped a glassful of beads from the old beanbag seat, then holding the funnel inside the bag with one hand it was really easy to pour the polystyrene beads into the bag, encountering very little problem with static cling. There were a few beads left in the bottom of the glass, probably because I didn’t dry it properly, but no little beads clinging to every surface, my hands, my clothes… if you’ve ever had dealings with polystyrene beads you’ll know what I mean.

beanbag camera kit
filling the beanbag

It just needed a machine stitched closure, to make sure it won’t bleed little beads all over the place and it’s done.

beanbag camera kit
beanbag

and what’s the point of all this I hear you wondering?  It’s my own take on beanbag camera kit. At the time I had just bought a telephoto lens for my camera, and at 300mm you can’t really hand hold without getting camera shake. I have a tripod but don’t really want to hump it about with me, it’s rather heavy and my hips and knees are getting arthritic so the weight is a problem. This light as air little cushion allows me to set up my camera on a wall or fence post and take pictures without camera shake… if there is a handy wall at the right height.

beanbag camera kit
camera on a wall

Subsequently I bought myself to a monopod but I still carry the beanbag, it weighs nothing at all and cost me nothing but a little time and ingenuity. My sister is also a keen photographer, I wonder if she might like one…and then my niece… but then I have an idea for a slight design adaptation… watch this space.

A new technique; Broderie Suisse

Then I began something more ambitious …

Bargain: embroidery hoops
Bargain: embroidery hoops

I recently bought a collection of embroidery hoops, £2 for 5 at my local charity shop. I’m making a collection, not that I do embroidery you understand, the idea was to use them to showcase some of my beautiful fabrics, the ones I can’t bring myself to cut up, by using the hoops like picture frames and hanging them in groups on the wall of my studio.

showcasing favourite fabrics
showcasing favourite fabrics

See this one with a piece of patterned silk which my mother gave me.

everything I need
everything I need

I also had two pieces of red and white gingham, which had been languishing under the lamp table beside the sofa since Christmas, it had been used to wrap small gifts and being an avid recycler I could not bring myself to throw it away.

Then on Pinterest the other day I stumbled upon Broderie Suisse, (or chicken scratch) and thought….hmmm.

first attempt
first attempt

Embroidery silk… no problem, I have a large tin full under the bed… backing, because the gingham is a bit flimsy… no problem, I have some old sheet which will do… embroidery hoop… what size? I have plenty in varying sizes. Working from the photographs I found on Pinterest, because most of the tutorials are not in English, I made this little heart shaped embroidery.
Then I began something more ambitious …

lets try something on a bigger scale
lets try something on a bigger scale

When it is complete, I think I will make it into a cushion, perhaps a hop pillow, or a sleep herbs pillow, with herbs cut from my own garden, and dried.

Another successful raid

the ugliest white skirt imaginable, which isn’t even in my size, ruffles in all the wrong places, an asymmetric hem, down at the back and up at the front.

More Plaid
More Plaid

Another trip to my local charity shop, I’m light very little cash but I have 2 weenie little plaid shirts (age3) 50p each, and a ladies plaid shirt in a pretty lavender and cool green which will pretty up my planned plaid quilt with some more feminine colours.

ugly white skirt
ugly white skirt

A beautiful Monsoon Blouse for £2, and the ugliest white skirt imaginable, which isn’t even in my size, ruffles in all the wrong places, all so badly gathered and stitched in place, and an asymmetric hem, which hung down at the back and rose up at the front, a real horror. £1.50
Why?  You may well ask, although the skirt looked rather sad it was made of fine cotton lawn, and was lined in the same fabric, and edged in the some nice quality Guipure lace.

The skirt was a supermarket brand, the materials were good but it was badly made, and badly designed. Who on earth wants a ruffle around the hips adding inches at the very place you want it to skim? And why stitch on and edge the ruffle in polyester thread which either was cream or has yellowed so making the whole skirt look grubby. The one thing you want from white clothing is the fresh look of pure white, grubby white will never be a good look.

The lace alone was worth it
The lace alone was worth it
Only the ruffles went in the bin
Only the ruffles went in the bin

So I bought it to cut up, and for £1.50 and a little work I got more than a yard of fine white cotton lawn, not suitable for patchwork, but perfect for foundation piecing, and linings where you don’t want what is underneath to show through; a white zip, a spare button, and 3 and a half yards of good white lace, which I’m sure I’ll find a use for. All I threw out was the ruffle.

Amish quilts
Amish quilts

Lastly a completed embroidery, of an Amish scene with quilts! All I need now is to find a suitable frame for it, and it can hang in my workroom, 50p and there was another canvas in the bag with crewel wool, I might give that to a friend who does embroideries, as I doubt whether I will ever find time to stitch it myself.