Monday, 31 August 2009

Fabric Love

I've been indulging myself a bit and going a little crazy on Etsy buying up some fabulous fabrics. I love fabric, always have, my aunt (who has been researching our family tree) says we come from a long line of tailors and craftspeople so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. My obsession with fabric and making things wasn't helped by a Saturday job I had as a teenager in a local fabric shop. I didn't really earn much in the way of money as most of it was spent on fabric. My mother used to sigh and mutter "I hope you're not intending on wearing that tonight" as I came home holding a bag of fabric each Saturday, and I would reply "yes!" and set straight to work making a skirt or trousers to wear out that night! Those were the days ...

I have plans for all of the above - I just have to find some time ... As we are coming to the end of the summer holidays and routine and structure will again return to our lives I'm hoping to set to work on this little lot. In the meantime I gaze lovingly at my little pile and it makes me smile! As you can see it doesn't take much to make me happy!

Now Kellie, from Don't Look Now! is another lady who has a similar love of fabric and she makes the most amazing and gorgeous quilts and cushions. I am totally in awe of her designs and the way she uses fabrics. Not only she is incredibly talented but amazingly generous too and she is having a give away on her blog at the moment to celebrate her 100th post. All you need to do is hot foot it 'down under' to her blog (it is totally worth doing as the give away is a fantastic quilt called Lilly Pilly) and leave a comment and keep your fingers crossed. Here's hoping ...

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Blackberry and Apple Jam

Blackberry and Apple Jam has to be my all time favourite jam. I'm not sure whether it is because of the taste or whether it is because it was the first jam I ever made. I first made the jam at school and in fact still use the recipe today. Although reading through my book I don't think I was paying much attention that day (I was a bit of a dolly daydreamer at school) as it was rather brief, I had left out the amount of sugar needed and the instructions were simply, wash and then cook the fruit, add the sugar and boil until setting point is reached. OK so that is basically how you make jam but there was no ideas of timings etc. So this year I decided to actually work out some timings so here is my recipe for Blackberry and Apple Jam:

3/4lb Blackberries
1/4lb Cooking Apples
1lb Sugar
A little water
Wash the blackberries and peel, core and chop the apples. This time I cooked the fruit separately, but in the past I have cooked them together. I'm not sure if it actually makes much difference and might actually cook them together in future. Anyway place the fruit into a saucepan and add a little water to just cover the bottom of the pan. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes until the fruit is soft. If you are cooking them separately then add the cooked Blackberries and Apples together into a large saucepan and then add the sugar. Heat the mixture gently and stir while the sugar dissolves and once it has dissolved bring to the boil and boil for about 8-10 minutes until setting point has been reached. I now use a jam thermometer as I can never work out if it's reached setting point using other methods such as the cold saucer method. Then it's just a case of filling up your sterilized jam jars and adding labels!

I made twice the quantities and made about 4 jars worth with a little left over for tasting, although I might have made more but I think I over boiled it at the end - got a bit distracted with two little ones and having to change a nappy! If you are not a fan of the pippiness from the blackberries, The Cottage Smallholder has a non pippy version. I might have to pick some more blackberries to make a second batch, the rate we get through jam these four jars won't even last until Christmas!

Friday, 21 August 2009


I love this time of the year, combine harvester's racing round the countryside to get the crops in. It brings me back to my childhood. Our garden backed onto a field and we used to love watching the harvest being gathered, all very exciting. The most exciting part was when they burnt off the stubble afterwards - not very PC I know - but it was quite mesmerizing to watch as the wind made the flames dance around the field and the loud crackling sound will stay with me forever!

I've had my own little harvest as you can see. Although I'm a bit ashamed to say that we have lots of brambles in our garden! We have an amazing wild garden. On a hill, so parts of it are inaccessible and it backs onto woodland - or rather our garden is half woodland. I have long since stopped trying to tame it and have now accepted that there will be bits that we can manage - a couple of flowerbeds and the rest will just have to be taken over by nature. Anyway, the good thing is that we haven't had to go far this year to pick our blackberries! These ones are destined to become jam which is just as well as last year's jam supply has run out and we are now having to resort to shop bought jam so I need to make some quick!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Pussy Cat Antics

It's tough being a cat, even one who sleeps all day, all that sleeping can get boring after a while so Saffy has decided to make it a bit more interesting and set herself a challenge to find the most novel and unique place to sleep in. I mistakenly left a skirt of Flopsy Bunny's resting on top of this bowl and hey presto it turned into a cat bed! As you can see she was a little put out at having her sleep disturbed for the photo!

All this cat chatting is really to disguise (badly I feel) the fact that I haven't been very crafty recently. I could put it down to the fact that I don't make much in the summer as we tend to be out and about, or that the little ones leave me with no time, both of which are true in part but excuses aside I don't really have any excuses! I have materials for several projects but nothing has materialized so I might just muse awhile until I get caught by the making bug again - which I'm sure won't be too long - so please bear with me! Meanwhile, back to the cat ...

Friday, 7 August 2009

Happy Anniversary to us ...

It's ten years today that DH and I tied the knot on a lovely sunny August day in a country church and we've had a fabulous time together since! Above (picture will follow tomorrow but I felt I couldn't show all of you before poor DH had even opened it! Luckily he doesn't follow this blog very often so I think I am safe!) is my present to him, a couple of love birds just like us. I discovered them at Fresh Air a sculptural exhibition we go to every other year which is wonderful. These beauties were made by Mike Savage and a couple of emails later had them flapping their wings all the way to our house and now out into the garden.

Sorry for the delay in posting the photo - I felt I just had to weed the herb bed where the birds had landed, but then in the end have added a non-weeded photo! Oh well at least I have a weed free bed now!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Chocolate Raisin Jumbles

It may be tipping down with rain outside, but inside we have chocolate raisin jumbles! Flopsy Bunny and I spent an afternoon baking while the rain poured and Little Roo slept. The thing about having a three year old helping is that it involves a bit of pouring, a bit of stirring and a LOT of licking - spoons, fingers, cookie mixture when mummy isn't looking! I don't blame her though! The cookies are lovely and just as I remembered them - a favourite of mine from my childhood, thanks for the recipe mum!