Tuesday, 31 May 2011

stitch & sew

On Saturday morning as I was thinking about the week ahead and what I would do with my time off over the school half term holidays, my thoughts turned to sewing. 

I am the kind of person who tends to have multiple sewing projects on the go, not because I start one thing and get bored of it but, because I start one thing then think of other things I want to do, so start another. Even though I have a few projects in the pipeline at the moment, I find I am often thinking of what fabrics i could invest in. While I was pondering sewing & fabrics on Saturday, I thought to myself, 'It'd be lovely if there was a fabric shop slightly closer to home...' Half an hour later, we walked into Westbury on Trym to buy some local produce, and, lo & behold, there was a brand new fabric shop just down the hill from our house!

I managed to restrain myself while we bought fresh local raspberries & super cheap tomato plants, among other things, then popped in to Poppy Patchwork. I couldn't have been happier - they have such a beautiful collection of fabrics. Recently I came across Moda Bake Shop and their range of fabrics & wished that they were available in England as well as the U.S. Well, Poppy Patchwork just so happens to stock some of the Moda Bake Shop collections! (for those of you who have no interest in sewing, I'm sorry, please just indulge my excitement)

I tried to exercise restraint and just bought three fat quarters in these lovely colours.

I was keen to use these fabrics straight away, but in an attempt to try & combat my tendency to start yet more new projects before finishing old ones, I set about finishing up these two:

yep, it's yet another taggie blanket. 

finished, but far from perfect. this is the scrappy nap pillow project from Anna Maria Horner's book, Handmade Beginnings.  

While it was fun using up lots of scraps, this took a long time to make, and a lot of un-stitching was required in the process, and it ended up lumpy in the middle. I might try and amend this, but it'll do for now.

I'll be back later this week to show you what I did with my new fabrics.

Monday, 30 May 2011

weekend round up part two: out of my kitchen

After my cupcake baking adventures of last weekend, I had a fair few eggs leftover. So meringues became the order of the day weekend.

With the egg whites I baked chocolate pavlova to take to Sarah's Birthday BBQ (recipe found here). I topped the pavlova with a great number of raspberries, bought at a brilliant price from a local produce market.

With the yokes, I made a double batch of lemon curd from this recipe

It only seemed right to make some mini lemon merigues to fill with the lemon curd to create beautiful little bitesized treats

I will most definitely be making these little ones again. They are the perfect combination of chewy but not too soft, with the gentle flavour of the vanilla & zest in the meringue complimenting the slightly tart lemon curd. Yum.

weekend round up part one: the birthday post

This weekend has seen a lot of baking & creating, which suits me just fine. To help my little brother celebrate his birthday, I baked him some chocolate chip cookies using this recipe from Joy the Baker. I had been thinking about these cookies all day on Friday,  fantasizing about filling my kitchen with the aromas of brown sugar baking, then tasting the cookies, fresh from the oven, to see if I had got the sweet-salty ratio just so.

So, it only seemed right that these were the cookies that I baked for Ben.  As he lives in Cambridge, I had to rely on the Royal Mail to deliver them safely. Sadly, they didn't arrive as quickly as I'd hoped, so as I write this he is still waiting for them.

For Ben's birthday card, I used a print that I made at university a few months ago. I was quite fond of it but not really sure what to do with it, so I'm glad I found a use for it before it found its way to the bin.

Saturday saw the second birthday of the weekend, with celebrations for my friend Sarah's 26th birthday. In true British style, we had a BBQ despite it feeling more like Autumn than Summer.  The little Aster that I bought for Sarah stood firm in spite of the winds blowing through the garden.

To round off the celebrations at Sarah's, we played Balderdash. It's the kind of game that makes you cry with laughter & eats up time in an amazing way. It was bedtime before we knew it, and we'd been playing for 3 hours. Happy days.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

beauty in the breakdown

On Tuesday I arrived home from school to see an enormous white rose flower head lying on our patio. Our neighbour has a rose bush along her fence that's adjacent to our garden, and the gusty winds had been too much for this rose.

So I scooped it up and popped it in a mug of water to enjoy a bit more of its beauty. Understandably, the rose has quickly wilted, being away from its roots. Yet every time I've looked at it, I've admired its beauty, and the line beauty in the breakdown from a song by Frou Frou has come to mind.

And this little rose came home with us from the wedding last weekend, and is sitting pretty in our lounge.

I like flowers, even when they're wilting.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

a little bit more of Edale

The village where we spent last weekend for the wedding celebrations was beautiful, so although nearly a week has passed since then, I'm going to share a few more photos.

The picturesque little church where the wedding took place

We stayed in a lovely Bed & Breakfast called the Ramblers Inn, which I would highly recommend if you ever find yourself in the area. They have everything you need (including a pay phone, which served me well in a village that has no phone signal whatsoever, and I needed to get into the village hall), and they serve delicious food. 

On Sunday, we went for a little stroll with John's parents & sister, with the black & grey sky threatening to break forth with rains. John & I were ill equipped for this weather, only having flip flops & party shoes between us. John would stand by the notion that flip flops are the best kind of footwear, especially if it's raining & muddy, because you can just go home and wash your feet. Thankfully, John's parents were overly equipped & had extra raincoats, which were greatfully received. 

We met lots of sheep & lambs on our walk, one of which we thought had been born the day before.

 a lovely snugling-with-mama moment

this poor little lamb wanted some milk but its Mama just wanted to walk away. Milk on the move looked rather tricky

all the little lambs seemed to follow this ewe. Surely they're not all hers?!

And last but not least, a lovely pop of colour on a grey, dreary day. Beautiful intricacy.

Monday, 23 May 2011

The Marriage of Mary & Matt

The weekend saw us driving up to the stunningly beautiful Peak District. There aren't really enough words to describe the beauty of this place in the North of England. It's the kind of place where you want to take in as much of the beauty as you can, with the help of a camera, so as not to forget the 360 degree vistas. So that's what I did with my little point and shoot.

See those shadows of clouds rolling over the hills? It was amazing to watch theslightly turbulent weather rolling in over the Peaks.

There were rolling hills a-plenty to make our tummies flip-flop inside us. A countryside rollercoaster. Wonderful.

The special occasion that took us to Edale was the wedding of a long-standing friend of John's, sister of his best man, Tim. 

I had the honour of baking 200 cupcakes for the occasion. Thankfully, they behaved themselves on the long drive up, and ended up looking like this:

I'd been a little worried that the colours of the frosting didn't quite match up with the bride's description, but thankfully, they matched the bridesmaid's bouquet's beautifully.

Here's the cake the bride made (along with her own wedding dress, four bridesmaid's dresses, and just about every other detail that featured in their day).

Sadly I didn't manage to get a good photo of the bride & groom together, so just the bride will have to suffice.

And here we are! {looking a little tired, nonetheless!}

{that's my bunting in the background from our wedding}

We had a lovely time celebrating the wedding of friends, alongside lots of friends & family. Of course, the evening had to end with plenty of dancing,
which John took very seriously.

The End.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Hello Friends.

The sun is shining today which makes me feel happy & warm, but I'm still stiicking with wearing tights because I'm not quite bold enough to go bare-legged yet. I might just regret it today.

This week I am gearing up to a serious baking session: 180 cupcakes for a wedding on Saturday in the Peak District. This is probably the furthest distance my little cakes have ever travelled, which is quite exciting, and also a little bit scary.

So, my mind is in a state of perpetual list making. Last night my husband gently suggested to me that I might like to make an actual list, after all, 'the faintest of inks is better than the best memory' (a very fitting quote from the episode of MadMen we had just watched). I couldn't agree more with this quote. Yet there's that slightly foolhardy part of me that likes the challenge (or is stress a better word?) of trying to keep parallel lists going in my head, so I haven't committed them to paper just yet.

Does anyone else find that when they are very busy with lots of different things to do, amidst the whirl of mentally made lists, are a selection of songs going about your head?

Or is that just me? At the moment, the songs featuring in my internal play list are a slightly odd mix:

Mumford & Sons - Little Lion Man & Awake my Soul
A Fine Frenzy - What I wouldn't do {discovered on this beautiful website which causes my heart ache with the beauty, and makes me want to give up teaching to become a wedding photographer}
Vivaldi - The Four Seasons {we were listening to it at school yesterday}
An old hymn, which I have temporarily forgotten
and of course, Miss j lo, again, telling me to 'get up on the floor'

Right, it's time to fly. I've got a date with a class of 29 children & a granddad. 

Ciao x

Monday, 16 May 2011

banoffee whoopie pies

I am so glad that I have the Hummingbird Bakery's new book, for so many reasons. 

1) It's beautiful to browse through
2) There is so much baking inspiration within the pretty pages
3) It has brought whoopie pies into my life.
4) It has given me a solution to what to do with my bananas that go black so I am no longer stuck on banana loaf as my go-to  recipe with my over ripe bananas

banoffee whoopie pies
made to be shared with friends, because friends are worth celebrating for their friendship alone


Saturday, 14 May 2011

saturday suppertime

This is what my saturday evening looks like today.

I rarely have supper, but today our meals have gone completely out of whack, due to a very late breakfast, followed by an evening at the cinema without having dinner. Needless to say, come the end of the film, I was a little peckish and John was feeling it was time for some food.

J: Fancy a quick Macdonald's on the way home?

H: No. It's 10pm! Far too late for dinner.

J:  I quite fancy Chinese.

H: Bleugh.

J: How about some fried chicken?

H: {silent. Amazed at John's wonderful persistence in encouraging me to eat a full blown mean at bedtime.} 

J: You're not even going to dignify that with a response, are you?!
H: It's bedtime! but I am a little hungry.

So, we settled on a breakfast muffin & hot chocolate for me {I could eat breakfast three times a day, very happily}, and an Indian curry for John. 

Two happy King's.

p.s I know the photo looks suspiciously like hot chocolate & chocolate chips, and that's because it is. The chocolate chips were left over from my afternoon snack, perfectly presented in an egg cup.

Monday, 9 May 2011

whoopie pies & other things

Today I feel like writing my post in the form of the list. I think this is because of two things.

1) At school, the children were writing salad recipe instructions, in list form.

2) Ben's comment on my last post. I liked that little list. Thanks, Ben.

So, here's another little list:

1) I am eating a rather odd dinner as I type this post. I have never eaten dinner while blogging, and I have never eaten this particular dinner. It's called Chicken Chermoulla, a Moroccan dish, except I've made it with quorn instead of chicken.

2) John's out playing football, and I don't think he'll like this dinner. Sorry John.

3) I am half watching an old episode of One Born Every Minute. One of my old school friends is a midwife at St Anne's hospital where it's filmed, which I think is pretty cool.

4) I have a ramekin filled with green cream cheese frosting sat on the side in my kitchen. Do you want to see it? Ok, just let me fetch my camera...

It doesn't look too appetising, does it?!

5) I have this song and this song going through my head right now. I don't think I've ever noticed thinking of two songs at the same time, let alone a beautiful piano piece, and j lo, at the same time.

6) I had a dream last night that a swarm of bees landed on my head. One of my new colleagues is entirely responsible for this - she tells me a new story every day about the bees she has rescued. I know more about bees from a few days with this lady than I've known in my whole life.

7) I had intended for this post to be about chocolate chip whoopie pies that I made a few weeks ago for a family from church who had just had a baby. They looked like this:

Yum? Here's another photo, just to whet your appetite a little more.

8) Doesn't sunshine make everything look better?

The end.

baking & babies

This weekend has been a lovely one. Saturday was spent baking for a special occasion, and retrieving my car from Clevedon that I had to abandon on Friday night, having dropped my keys down the drain.

Sadly I failed to take any photos of the cakes, so here are a couple of a very similar cake that I baked the other week.

I baked a carrot cake & a chocolate cake on Saturday, both triple layered, both Hummingbird Bakery recipes, and according to the guests, both delicious. (I received a marriage proposal - not from my husband - and a request for a cake delivery to the Lake District, which is a long way from here!)

The special occasion was the Dedication of Baby Rachel at church, where Rachel's wonderful parents shared with the church their desire to raise Rachel to know Jesus and His love for her, and invited us to walk with them & stand beside them in this.

There were six other babies being dedicated too, which made for a wonderful number of families and children filling our church yesterday.

The day ended with sunshine & rain, all at once, which in my opinion is a beautiful sight to behold, but one that's quite hard to capture on camera.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

our wedding quilt

My first memory of meeting Sara, my mother-in-law, was watching her carefully hand stitch together the pieces of a quilt, as she sat chatting to us on the sofa. Her familiarity and dexterity with the tiny needle & fine thread was evident; here was a woman who had thirty years experience of quilting by hand. When Sara's children left for university, she would make them a quilt. When friends, family and colleagues have babies, she'll make a quilt. When her children get married, she makes them a quilt.

One of the first things John's Mum said to us when we got engaged on March 7th last year was, I'll need at least a year to make you a quilt. We gave her 6 months, so she gave us an I.O.U on our wedding day.

This weekend, we popped in to see John's parents for a night before visiting my parents. When we arrived, Sara told us there was a present awaiting us upstairs. So we bounded up the stairs, two by two, and this is what we found:

A beautiful sea of blues & yellows, symbolic of the sea & sand on our honeymoon in Barbados, and King Size, none the less.

Look at how tiny those stitches are - I am pretty sure I could complete about four handstitched squares before my eyes started to go square.

The quilt spent its first night on our bed, and looked very at home there. I look forward to a long life ahead of us with this beautiful creation by our side. 

Sara, sending you a thousand thank yous for the thousands of stitches & hours you put into creating this.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

the benevolence of trees

Recently, I read a woman describe trees as benevolent. I wish I could remember exactly where I read this. Even though it was probably in the last week, my memory has already become hazy. She described the way trees grow together. The way they work with their fellow trees to create canopies. If one is lacking, its neighbour will help him out so together they provide more than the sum of their parts.

As John and I drove along the Thornden Wood Road to Canterbury this weekend, winding along the narrow woodland roads, the benevolence of trees came to mind.

These trees were curving and arching together in perfect unity, creating a shady canopy with their lush green leaves. In their growing together, they were doing each other good, doing what was needed to meet and greet one another in the middle of the road.

There is something truly magnificent about trees, and their ability to create a natural archway, offering a covering to you as you drive beneath their shady canopy.

These trees & their colours mesmerised me; I loved the contrast between the bright sunshine breaking through the gaps in the leaves, and the shadows created by the overlapping leaves, and most of all, their benevolence.