Thursday, 30 September 2010

B is for...

Beatrix, Birthday & Bunting.

Baby got a last minute invite to celebrate her friend's 3rd birthday (I know that means I can't get away with calling her a baby much longer). With various school runs and wot-not I had little opportunity to get to the shops to buy a present, so decided that something home made would be just the ticket.

After a quick rummage in my cupboards I came up with: a piece of calico, some transfer paper (one of my favorite inventions), pink thread and bias binding and, hey presto, I whizzed up some personalised bunting. Every little girl likes a bag so one was made to match, and in went the bunting. It was finished off with a little badge made out of a couple of suffolk puffs and an old button.

Monday, 27 September 2010

lavender harvest

We've had a couple of days of beautiful warm early autumn sunshine recently and it's given me the opportunity to head out into the garden and harvest our lavender bushes. As we live in a dry, vertical, sheltered sun trap lavender is about the only thing that actually flourishes in our garden, which is just as well given that I've taken to making lavender parcels for pin money.

With Christmas fairs on the agenda it makes sense to dry my home grown lavender and use some of it as stuffing and it is actually a therapeutic way to spend a late summer afternoon. But I'm also planning on making some things with a more seasonal scent for Christmas. Any suggestions on how to create a yuletide alternative ?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

baking bread

i love it when i discover an exciting local happening, and i was nearly beside myself when i saw a poster for 'fired up' -community baking days at Upper Grange in Stroud.

the poster said, 'from midday onwards bring your own dough to bake in the searing heat of the wood fired oven, all welcome, bakers,spectators and tasters.' now i am a big fan of woodfired cooking so off I trotted with a focaccia (delicious) and a potato bread (a not so super experiment).

The whole experience was  a delight, the garden which the oven is in is beautiful with abundant fruit trees and vegetables (obviously i had to keep my veg plot envy under control!)
Upper grange is part of an educational trust (it is on lovedays mead off folly lane) and they are holding tHe bread baking days on sept 25th and october 30th,
 In addition there will be an apple day on 2nd october which is a lovely family event where everyone young an old can pick and press apples.

anyway back to the bread..........what can i say it was fabulous, katherine had made a sourdough rye loaf which was delicious with a deep nutty flavour, i asked her only half jokingly if she might give a lesson in the mysteries of creating a sourdough starter, so watch this space and hope she agrees!!

so this coming saturday it will be on again, and what am I going to try this time? a fabulous woodfired pizza I think, dribbling with buffalo mozerella and scented with basil.
 If you would like any further information or some contact details send us an email.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

weekend reading

i have spent a thoroughly enjoyable (and for once peaceful) afternoon perusing the pages of a new discovery babyccino kids - a fab website/blog with instant appeal.
co authored by a group of trendy mums, it features travel articles, crafts, recipes fashion and much more. it has a lovely international feel, and the layout is really clean and calm, i will be dropping by often for an aspirational fix (i say aspirational as i long to rid myself of clutter and be cool and neat and tidy - never going to happen!!!!) happy weekend.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

perfect peaches

I happened to come across a bag of what must have totalled 2kg of these delightful 'donut' peaches in our local greengrocers. They weren't perfect and so were reduced to £1 for the whole bag. Anyway not one to miss a bargain I had to buy them (and then think of what to do with them!!)
so ......peach and raspberry jam (equal quantities of chopped fruit and sugar, the juice of half a lemon boiled hard for about 4minutes then tipped into a sterilized jar).

and peach and strawberry pavlova using a big version of the ottolenghi merengues, we also had peach,parma ham, rocket and mozerella salad twice but both times it was eaten before i could take the photo!!!!!
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Monday, 13 September 2010

pretty in pink

Sarah and I are both suckers for packaging and yesterday Hubby returned from a weekend away with a prize example. I'm not generally a fan of carnations. To me the mere word conjours up images of single, folorn stems on cafe tables and last ditch attempts at flower buying in a petrol station. However, packaged up nicely and it's a completely different story.

These pinks, wrapped simply in brown paper with an acid green bow of raffia are beautiful. In fact I can't bring myself to unwrap them. I even decided that they would make a very charming, rustic bouquet for young bridesmaids to carry. How fickle I am!

And whilst on the subject of pink and packaging look at these amazing fairy cakes a friend made me for my birthday. My eyes practically popped out of their sockets when I was presented with a box of 16 of these. Handmade, these truly were a work of art and tasted delicious too.

Friday, 10 September 2010

visually beautiful

as part of our new website product launch this year, we are trialling some photo printed products, including roller blinds, blackout blinds and bespoke photo wallpaper.
i was heartbroken last year to find my hard drive had died taking with it 10,000 photos not backed up (stupid I know!) they were all pictures of holidays and trips taken during the first 5 years of Miss B's life. Anyway sometimes joy fills your day unexpectedly and this morning i found an unlabeled cd full of photos of a trip to visit great friends in California about 5 years ago. So i have decided to do a little user trial of the blinds and have one myself, which do you think i chose............................??
happy weekend everyone

Thursday, 9 September 2010

nasturtiums and dahlias

Sunday saw us spending our last day of the Summer holidays driving around the M25 to celebrate my Godmother and her husband's 40th wedding anniversary. Despite the journey it was a fabulous day, the food was delicious, guests ate lunch on trestle tables in the garden and everyone's children played together idyllically (the majority of the time). Amazingly we arrived at our destination 1/2 hour before we were due so we decided to find the nearest play ground and let the children use up some of their pent up energy before unleashing them at a grown up lunch party. And thus it was that we found ourselves in a car park by a village hall that happened to be setting up for the Annual Kent Dahlia Society show. And there in a 70's flower power array of madness were all the 'rejects' and they were being sold off at the fantastically tantalising price of £1 for 5. I couldn't resist. Though in all honesty I think they looked better in a huge display of vibrant colours and statement shapes but we didn't have space in the car to bring them all home. Even some of what we had got bashed by and tired, flailing arms and legs and Tin Tin books as we drove slowly back around the M25 that evening. But not even those went to waste!

But back to the Ruby Wedding Anniversary celebrations. Whilst on the World Wide Web I discovered that a less well known gift for 40 years of marriage is the Nasturtium. This thrilled me. I have a metal trug full of neon flowers sprawling in front of my kitchen window, making me smile when the rain comes and clouds hide the view over the valley. I've been wanting to do something inspired by said trug for a while.

I've also been wanting to work on my (very) freestyle machine embroidery as well as use this new stuff I found called 'dissolvable'.* So after a little bit of rushed experimenting - of course I had left this to the last minute - the result was this card, which I presented with a packet of ruby red nasturtium seeds.

*Not sure that that's it's real name but they knew what I meant in the shop. It's like a sheet of plastic that you can put in your embroidery hoop and machine on as if it were fabric. Once finished you dissolve the plastic in water and you are left with just the stitches. Fantastic - you can see better examples of the result in this post.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

giffords circus

its a difficult phenomenon to describe, but the visual beauty of the circus coming to town is something that warms the cockles, and this isn't just any circus!!
i have tried to describe the magical nature of this small group of entertainers who turn up on village greens across the cotswolds every year or two, but it is impossible to describe.......a mixture of old fashioned music hall, vaudeville, gypsy,travelling circus, I don't know...............

its old fashioned, and beautiful and intelligent and there are no special effects (its all the better for it).

if you happen to be visiting the cotswolds (or hay on wye during literary festival) during the summer I urge you to visit this truely delightful circus, whether you are 8 or 88 it will make you smile for months.

fabulous x