Monday, 30 August 2010

sloe gin

It's a good time of year for hedgerow pickings and whilst out on a family walk this weekend we discovered endless bushes of sloes. Well Hubby and I both enjoy our Gin & Tonics but I've never made my own Sloe Gin, but with such an abundance of the fruit to hand we picked ferociously. Tonight I sat at the kitchen table with a pin, pricking all the sloes and putting them in kilner jars. I used roughly 300 g caster sugar, 400 g sloes and a 70 cl bottle of Gin per mixture. Now the jars are resting in a dark cupboard, I need to turn them every few days until all the sugar has dissolved and then wait. Hopefully it will be perfect just in time for Christmas.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

simple sprat supper

Going to the super market during the Summer holidays is disastrous. Trying to navigate a trolley full of food and 3 young children is not at all fun, and I try to avoid it. But my aversion to shopping, along with the fact that we've hardly been home in the last 4 weeks means our cupboards are about as baron as Old Mother Hubbards.

We do need to eat however, so yesterday I whizzed in to buy a couple of meals to keep us going, anything cheap and easy. Then we spied the fish counter and there, lying in a bed of ice, were hundreds of shiny Sprats.

We ate and enjoyed Sprats as children but I had forgotten all about them. Smaller than sardines, but larger than whitebait, they are great grilled on both sides and then eaten whole. So tonight we ate a simple but delicious supper of Sprats, with lemon mayonnaise, chips and home grown salad. How could you go wrong?

Thursday, 26 August 2010

pastels, paper and holiday finds

We've just returned from a week in Devon. The first couple of days were sunny but then the typically English Summer holiday weather set in. It didn't stop us from rock pooling and taking long, invigorating walks along the beautiful coastal paths but we probably didn't spend quite as much time outside as we would have done if there was constant sunshine.

On our coastal walks the children were encouraged to collect 'exciting bits and bobs' to keep them occupied. Then one morning as the rain beat violently against the window panes and it was decided it really was just TOO VILE to go out the children had a happy morning sticking their 'exciting bits and bobs' into the colourful pages of their sugar paper scrap books and scribbling around with brightly coloured pastels.

I love the satisfying way pastels make marks on paper, and obviously the children did too. I found it fascintating how Boy made big, brash marks in strong, contrasting colours, while our little girl made small, neat circles of colour that matched what she was sticking onto the page (the difference between girls and boy are endless!)

The results aren't quite the holiday memories that Martha Stewart would produce and I'm still hoping to come across some nice old glass bottles in a car boot sale to make my own holiday keepsakes like the 'jars of joy' I saw at the Brunel Broderers exhibition.

Until then scrap books and pastels will have to do.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

paper anniversary

I can't believe it is now over a year since our family travelled en masse to the hills of Aracena, Spain, to celebrate my sister's wedding. As newly weds they have put a lot of effort into gifts for their first anniversary, sticking to the traditional theme of paper.

Firstly my sister bought her hubby this lovely picture made by Terror Dome (who my sister said was very charming and helpful). Each butterfly is cut out of map, and each piece of map is a location relevant to the happy couple: where they live, where they got engaged, where they got married etc.

Secondly she made an A-Z concertina book for him. Each letter of the alphabet is a clue to a place or thing for them to do together.

But since she and her Spainish hubby have just moved to England my sister wants him to get to know the country England as she knows it, so each page is a place or thing relevant to her childhood or something typically English. B is for Bowood and I is for iceskating, both things we did as children.
Obviously some letters are harder to use than others, I love Q for quaffing champagne. I'm sure they'll enjoy doing that

As in most families we all have our roles to play; I'm supposed to be the creative one and my sister the sporty one. Whilst there isn't a chance in hell of her losing her title to me I am slightly concerned about my reputation being stolen.

It's a lovely and romantic way to mark their first year of marriage, I hardly dare tell her that our first wedding anniversary is the only one we've ever celebrated (though we've plans for our 10th!).

Friday, 20 August 2010

weekend reading

weekend reading this week is about all things pretty. The sky is grey and its cold in gloucestershire. It feels like autumn is here but without the crispy sky and open fire. My roses are trying to squeeze a final flush of flowers out and i forgot to pick the lavender before the rain came, so today some places to go to remind you of the beauty of summer.
First stop Lobster and Swan - still my perennial favourite for a burst of inspiration and uplift. (above)

now hopping over to frolic, written by the talented floral stylist chelsea fuss, based in Portland Oregon - what is it that makes that city such a hub of creative people?



and now to gathering spriggs which is written by heather thompson and is a joy for the eyes!

gathering spriggs

gathering spriggs

happy weekend everybody.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

shiney new

well not shiney new, but lineny new!

i have been tinkering about with some photography ideas for my new fabric and wallaper collection. I am particularly pleased with the toile. Actually I am pleased with all of it and have really struggled honing down the colourways as they are all gorgeous. What colours do you look for in a fabric? are there any that you can never find?

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

holiday memories

I always end up bringing a ton of bits and pieces back with me when I go away, such as shells, beach glass, entry tickets, menus etc, and now I notice that my eldest child is doing the same. I have just unearthed a pile of mussel shells from he washing machine that she had secreted away in her pocket! so when I saw todays craft from Martha Stewart it has inspired me to find some shadow boxes and do something with our bags of bits.

here are some more ideas from Martha for holiday memories. Most of them could be done by children - a good activity for rainy days!

shop local

here i am on the back of a bus!!! imagine my surprise when this photo of my union jack cushions dropped into my inox.
the bus is advertising a fab shop in norfolk which stocks my union jack cushions made by val of vhdesigns. the shop is called bringing the outside in, and it stock fabulous seaside inspired goodies - including our friend kirsty elson's lovely driftwood boats.
go over and have a browse and while you are there have a peek at owner martin's great photography.

Monday, 9 August 2010

tiny hands and home grown potatoes

early in the year we set off to dundry nurseries in cheltenham to choose our seed potatoes for the year. It is a ritual, i am not really sure that it is a money saving thing by the time you have bought potato grow bags and watered etc. however the children love it, they really love the whole thing of growing a bucketful of potatoes.

this year we have gone red (can't remember which) white (charlotte) and blue (salad blue),

and with great excitement we tipped out our first bucket and had about 25 yummy charlotte potatoes. the children have scoffed roast chicken and new potatoes, salad nicoise and ham fried eggs and new potatoes with great gusto this week!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

five minute skirt

With the heavy overnight rain I woke up on Saturday to find my laundry soaking on the line and no clothes for the children to wear. While I could have shoved it in the tumble dryer I decided that fate was telling me to get on with some sewing. I've had this strip of retro looking Liberty Tana Lawn lying around for a couple of months and I knew it would make a really useful skirt for our little girl who has clothes in every shade of blue (although pink is one of my favourite colours I never dress my girls in it).

Ok it's never going to win any couture awards but it was easier than taking the washing off the line, into the tumble dryer, waiting an hour, possibly ironing something.....

The fabric was 140 cm by 50 cm and this was fine for a skirt for a 6 year old and literally in just over 5 mins I did as follows:

Fold over the top (long) edge about 1 1/2 inches and sew along it to create a waist band.

Then fold the fabric in half length ways and sew a seam along the edges, from top to bottom, leaving the very top unstiched to allow you to thread elastic through the waist band (attach elastic to a safety pin and work it through).

Tie a knot in the elastic when you've worked out how much you need and sew shut the waist band.

Measure and sew the hem.

To make it into something a little bit special I made a little brooch to match. Using contrasting Tana Lawn I made some suffolk puffs and added beads to a thread and hey presto; one happy little girl!