Foodie Pen Pals – My first time!

Foodie Pen Pals

What I love about blogging is that there are some people with really wonderful ideas out there and it is a fabulous opportunity to connect with people in many different countries, so when I discovered Foodie Pen Pals this month I could not wait to participate.The program was started in the US by Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean back in 2011. Foodie Pen Pals is a way for  bloggers and readers to get to know each other by sending a package of food items in the mail each month. Carol Anne of Rock Salt brought the idea over to the UK and Europe and runs the Foodie Pen Pals exchange each month.

You simply sign up on the website by the 5th of the month to be included in the swap, all the details and rules are laid out clearly.  I received a lovely email last week from Meredith at Kaffee and Kuchen who would be sending me my parcel. She asked me what my preferences were and my lovely package arrived on Friday! There were some wonderful items in there, and I have to admit the little pigs did not last long after this picture was taken. Meredith is originally from Canada and is now living in Germany – and the items she included are not available in the UK. I am looking forward to trying the Rice Pudding and the Cup Browine! She also included Milka chocolate which I brought back happy memories of spending a Summer in France when I was 14! Mr D was very interested in the paprika nuts, as well as the parmesan bake, I think he was just as excited by the parcel as I was. So thank you Meredith for your lovely parcel it made my month!
foodie parcel ready to go

I emailled Emma, from Something New Each Week (yet another lovely blog!) and discovered what her preferences were – as it was my first time I was actually very anxious to get it right. Then I decided to wrap each item (only because I love opening presents!) I sent off my parcel last Thursday so I hope it arrived ok.

I will definitely be participating again, not only does it introduce me to fabulous blogs, but it is delightful to give and receive.  A big thank you to Carol Ann at RockSalt for your hard work in bringing it altogether!

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art, drawing

Sketching Challenge

After my promises post, I decided to give myself a little more time for fun. I love drawing and painting but don’t really do much because sewing seems a much more practical use for my time. But when I draw or paint I really do get lost int he process, definitely a becomes meditative and time just slips away along with any worries or woes!

So I have promised that I will do more art! No backsliding it is here in black and white and now on my to do list!

I thought I would participate in a daily drawing challenge, as I needed something to aim at, it was run by a local Artist on the Art Trail this year. It was only a small little sketchbook with thirty pages, so it doesn’t feel daunting.

01-Missing key

Challenge 1 – A Key – I thought I would use negative space instead of observation, I love doing swirly doodle lines so this is entitled – the missing key!


Challenge 2 – A Hat – this is one of my favourites, its a bright red felt pillbox! I really enjoyed the sharp shadows and the dome.

04-Hat 1

Challenge 3 – A pair of scissors – graphite offers so much fun with tone, the handles had quite exciting curves! Of course they had to be dressmaking scissors!

05-Glass object

Challenge 4 – a Vase – this tiny vase is a beautiful Swedish glass maker. The colours change throughout, they make an interesting subject for coloured pencils and it is quite wonky, the test was to replicate the wonkiness and resist the desire to straighten it up!
07-Cotton reel

Challenge 5 – Something red, back to sewing! this cotton reel was good fun to study, had to be coloured pencils otherwise it would not be red.

seam ripper

Challenge 6 – A tool (of course it had to be a sewing tool!) Sadly this is used quite often!

06-Glass object 2

Challenge 7 – Glass Could not resist going back to the wonky vase to have another go! This time from another angle you can really see the wonkiness now!

The great thing about this exercise is that you can focus just on a small object rather than trying to compose a painting or drawing. The scale is simple and the idea of the challenges were achievable in a short space of time.

It has inspired me to do more drawing and certainly has tightened up my observation although these are no way perfect! I think it helps to have something to focus on – I enjoy being challenged. I find without them I can’t seem to focus there is just too much choice.

Do you enjoy challenges?

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heart and home, Sunday Sevens

Sunday Sevens (or Maybe Monday!) and the Jelly Mystery solved!

Corn Wreath

It’s time for a round up of my week – I am, which is usual for me, slow to get my head round great ideas! Sunday sevens, the invention of Nat at Threads and Bobbins is a blog round up of your week.  Somehow I thought it was about your weekend in particular Sunday, Which is why I have been posting on a Monday! Hopefully by next week I will have caught up and will be posting on the right day! lol. I have a great knack for seeing something completely differently to everyone else!

I made this corn wreath last year, with the trees slowly showing lovely golden tones, I thought it was the right time to put it up again.


I managed to solve the mystery of why my jelly did not set, having boiled it with additional pectin and it still not setting, I looked into various websites and books and finally decided to try again with more lemon juice.

As you can see the jelly did well and truly set, in fact I could have sliced it up for sweets!

Sweet crust pastry

Instead I thought I would make some jam tarts! They were the first thing I learnt to cook at school.

I have a foolproof method of making them so that the jam doesn’t bubble over and spoil.


With the left over pastry I thought I might make some little leaves


You simply bake the cases blind, these are sweet shortcrust pastry and I made them thin enough so that they would have the consistency of a shortbread biscuit.


I melted the jam on the simmering ring and then filled the cases adding the little holly autumn leaves while the jam was hot.

The jelly was quite solid still! But at least it made the tarts easy to eat.


We went to the local Art Deco Cinema to see the Suffragette film, it was excellent! Definitely worth seeing if you can. I have always voted – out of respect to those women, after watching the film I am so glad that I did. It is not too distant in History, and some would argue that we still don’t have equality, but what the film shows is just how terribly women, rich and poor, were treated by society. The film is incredible, the story is gripping from the off – I had to admit there was a silence at the end of the film as people left quietly, in pensive mood, keep a tissue handy, but do see it if you can.


On Sunday I decided to finish a small sewing project, when I saw this bright tea pot material I had the urge to make another frilly apron! It was also an excuse to use my rufflette foot.


I usually make the bottoms half circles – it makes doing any housework chore fun I used to love dressing up when I was little.


The nights are getting cooler, but there isn’t time to make curtains for the sewing room, so I was delighted to find these in a charity shop


They are a very pretty pattern – lovely little flowers


Of course it was a real pleasure to sit in front of our log fire for the first time, we have been watching the Sunday night Drama on BBC From Darkness – gripping stuff.


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Not perfect. But great.

I love the way this post encourages and broadens creativity, an inspirational post that is well worth sharing.

Truth and Cake

Not perfect. But great.

Today I had a wake-up call in my long journey in recovering from perfectionism:

Not showing up is such a waste.

A little backstory: I started my journey as a coach a little over two years ago. In that time, I’ve done a huge amount of self-exploration, growth and healing work and I’ve facilitated a lot of growth for others. My feedback has been consistently amazing. When I say I’m very good at what I do, it’s not bragging. It’s simple truth. Truth that’s taken me a long time to wrap my heart and soul around. Truth my ego’s had a field day with: stay small, who are you to shine like that? Downplay, downplay, downplay.

But the thing is, we can’t really help people when we’re exerting so much energy to downplay our gifts.

I’ve been working (with my amazing design partner-in-crime) on creating a website for the past…

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contentment, life lessons

Promises, Promises!

keeping promises

I expect you are, like me, extremely good at keeping your word to friends and family. I know there have been times when I have done something, through gritted teeth, because someone has asked me and I am not a great person for saying no.

In reality, this weekend I was shocked to discover that, actually, I was terrible at keeping promises; in fact I habitually break them at least ten times a day!

Does that shock you? Well ask yourself that question again but this time think of all the promises you make to yourself?

Quite a different question isn’t it?

I thought I would monitor my promise keeping… all was revealed in a couple of hours!

Saturday I got up quite early, I love that feeling of having the whole day ahead and time to fill any way I wish!  I wanted to do a little sewing Mr D had plans for reading the paper making a light lunch and then watching rugby, so I had the whole day for stitchery! Yay!

While I was waiting for the kettle to boil for my first cup of tea, I decided to empty the dishwasher, then I thought it would be great to put a load of washing on and before I knew it, I was dusting and cleaning through most of Saturday morning… all the time telling myself that when it was done I could have fun sewing. But each time I finished a task, I would spot something else, that wouldn’t take five minutes…

So it was no wonder that by lunchtime my mood had altered from sunny to grumpy!


I cannot believe how well I scupper my own chance of pleasure, I can’t quite understand where this behaviour came from, only some distant memory of being guilt free some time Before Children.

I cannot take credit for these shocking revelations, I had been reading Leo Babauta’s Little book of Contentment and this little thought was in the first few pages. It is a delight to read and only 99p in the Kindle store.

Little book of contentment

So yesterday, it was a glorious Autumn day, full of blustery wind and sunshine – I picked up a few leaves and items on my nature walk, as I have done many times before, but this time I stuck to my promise and spent a happy hour sketching with some crayons and pencils, at the end of it I did feel content, so thank you Leo Babauta.

Do you keep your promises? How do you balance everything so that you can mix pleasure with a to do list?

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baking, heart and home, Sunday Sevens

The blackberry jelly mystery, #Sunday Sevens #3

After the straining I had just over a pint and a half of fruit juice

Strained juice to make jelly

After consulting my preserving book, blackberries were not high in pectin, – so I opted to use 1lb of jam sugar (pectin added) for every pint of juice, plus lemon juice.

Making fruit jelly

the jelly did look a beautiful ruby colour.

Blackberry and Elderberry Jelly

In no time at all it was all in jars ready too cool. However, the jelly did not set! oh!

so what do you think might be the cause? do let me have your thoughts!


So I moved on to my next project – I cut down a single  duvet to a small square and doubled it up.

Single duvets cost approximately £9 which is a very reasonable way to purchase soft filling.

06-IMG_2394 07-IMG_2395

I had this lovely dotty fleece and in no time my little project was ready for a test run.

dog bed

Barney was delighted with his new bed!


Mr D spotted a recipe in the newspaper – so I decided to make it for him


The mixture came together nicely


After a little kneading, it looked pretty smooth. It was a great workout, much more sensual than a gym, the dough has such a lovely feel around my fingers, the transformation was tactile – I felt the difference in the dough.

Kneading is quite a meditation in itself, and while I was doing it, I felt a connection to all housewives down the centuries who would have done this as part of their daily practice.


The warming plate is absolutely perfect to let the dough rest


and grow!

It took a couple of hours – waiting is the hardest thing about yeast baking.


then I mixed nuts, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon into a bowl


Turned out the dough


Rolled it into a flat rectangle


speed the nutty cinnamon mixture over the top


rolled into a sausage

cinnabuns ready for second rise

and left to grow again


And so, after a little effort and a lot of patience


our Cinnabuns were ready to eat.



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Blackberries, elderberries… Sunday Sevens 2

ladybird book illustration black berry picking

Have you noticed the nights are getting cooler, there is a crispness in the air early mornings, around me winter is slowly creeping in. I have always enjoyed early Autumn –  time  when I return to home comforts after a Summer spent outdoors. I want to nest,  sew with cosy tweed and needle cord, wrap myself in quilts, watch old fashioned black and white films and relish the comforts of and delights of domesticity.

My thoughts turn to Autumn when blackberry picking, so I headed out on Sunday morning to my usual spots.  The the wet August has meant a very poor supply this year, the blackberries were in abundance and full of flowers and tiny berries in May and June but without the August sun to ripen them they have just gone black and mouldy on the bush. There are pockets of small berries desperately trying to ripen before the first frosts so it seemed only right that these efforts  should not go to waste.

blackberry and elderberriesFruit jelly making - letting juice drain

Blackberry picking does demand sacrifice, despite wearing leggings (I never wear them any other time) socks, long teeshirts, I still come away with scars! However, while last year half an hour’s work and the bucket was full, this year over an hour’s picking was not going to make much jam. I spotted a lot of elderberries, so decided to mix the two, into a jelly, as elderberries are quite tart and the blackberries were small so would have made a very ‘seedy’ jam. So I simply simmered the berries gently in a little water then left them to drain in the strainer overnight. It is one of those gadgets that it is really useful to have, mine came from Lakeland years ago.



As I had to wait for the jelly to drain I thought I would make something else…. so here is a clue..

lemon filling

You use the juice and zest of three lemons, combine with two tablespoons of cornflour and water. Stir until the mixture begins to be clear – it will thicken.

Add egg yolks

Add three egg yolks (I had a double yolk egg!) and mix thoroughly until combined.

biscuit base

Add to a prepared digestive biscuit base and allow to cool and set in the fridge.

egg whites

pop the egg whites with three tablespoons of caster sugar into a bowl and whisk until it is solid

Place on a baking tray in a circle to fit the base – place in the baking oven (180) for 20 minutes then transfer to the warming (60)  oven for an hour or so.

lemon meringue pie

Transfer to the top of the base and you have a Lemon Meringue Pie,

(Did you guess correctly?)


I have also been making these patchwork flowers using English Piecework.

They are so transportable and useful to take to the pub and watch the Rugby but poor England ;-(

Adventures, crochet, filet crochet, patchwork

At home with an Edwardian Seamstress – a visit to Petworth Cottage Museum

Pet worth Cottage Museum

Tucked away among the Victorian Villas is the Petworth Cottage Museum, it was originally an Estate Cottage of the grand Petworth House – it has been restored to how it was back in the Edwardian period – around 1910 when seamstress, Mary Cummings rented the house.

Petworth Seamstress Cottage

You step into the garden and follow the path to the back of the house, into a lovely flower garden – the guide explained that Mary had an allotment so the garden was planted up with flowers.

You feel like a visitor at Peworth Seamstress cottage

I felt like a visitor stepping in to see an old friend, the attention to detail was delightful, even before we stepped inside, I relished the site of the mangle and the food safe hanging by the back door. We had to knock and were answered by a charming guide who happily answered my many questions.

scullery Petworth Cottage Museum

You step directly into the small scullery at the back, but it has the feel of a home rather than a museum and the tiny details abound for the visitor to discover.

scullery sink Petworth Cottage Museum

The lovely geraniums on the bright sunny window sill and the vegetables which have been left with the knife as if the lady of the house has just been interrupted by our arrival!

Petworth Cottage Museum

What a lovely eclectic mix of period items – you can just see the clothes horse with its drying sheets, the knives and the plate rack filled with mismatched crockery.

Petworth Cottage Museum

I love the soap dish with its scrubbing brush all ready to use

Petworth Cottage Museum

And the peg basket with wooden clothes pegs

towel on a roll Petworth Cottage Museum

I love the towel at the ready

medicine bottles Petworth Cottage Museum

The medicine cabinet is full of bottles and jars long before the NHS

kitchen Petworth Cottage Museum

There were all types of kitchen devices and gadgetry to feast on

Petworth Cottage Museum

Can you guess what this is?

egg separator Petworth Cottage Museum

an Egg Separator how useful is that?

Petworth Cottage Museum

Some of the devices include pamphlets and instructions

pantry Petworth Cottage Museum

To one side was a door, (that is Mr D escaping to the cellar) I marvelled at the use of space the shelves made use of every nook and cranny, and the preserves were all clearly labelled – I have always had a passion for pantries

Did you spot the green candle holder sitting on the jar?

Cellar Petworth Cottage Museum

The cellar was quite dark but the guide was able to light the original gas lamps and we were able to experience seeing by gas light. As it hissed we saw carpentry tools, a bicycle and a little paraffin heater. The light was not really bright but you could adjust it with the wick.  It was a bit eerie and I was glad to make our way back up the rickety stairs, where there were still wonders to see that I had missed on the climb down.

Parlour Petworth Cottage Museum

We were guided through the kitchen and into the parlour which was full of lots of details and objects including a pretty vase of flowers from the garden.

Games and amusements Petworth Cottage Museum

The Pollyphone was a very rare item it was cross between a music box and a gramophone there were many hand made items

canvass work Petworth Cottage Museum

Including this pretty canvas work cushion on one of the easy chairs by the fire

rag doll Petworth Cottage Museum

this sweet little rag doll had a seat of her own

peek into cupboards Petworth Cottage Museum

Open doors invited me to peek into cupboards (Mrs Cummings wasn’t looking!) the china here was beautiful is rare Petworth Cross China – locally made!

glowing range Petworth Cottage Museum

The range actually glowed, (it was lit by a red lamp) and it was lovely to see the little cakes ready to come out of the oven. There were several irons near the fire, because they lost then heat so quickly you would always have one warming up and one in use. Mrs Cummings must have done a lot of ironing, but then you need to when you sew!

Range Petworth Cottage Museum

What a huge kettle it must have been a huge effort to lift!

table laid for tea Petworth Cottage Museum

The table was all set for afternoon tea – with the sunshine flooding in it was all I could do to stop myself from taking a seat!

laid for tea Petworth Cottage Museum

I marvelled at the meticulous attention to detail as the kindly guide explained that the food items were all made by volunteers the cake and bread is made using salt rather than sugar so that it preserves it. Another small jar of flowers on the table really added to the beauty of the tea table and again helped me feel that I was visiting a home rather than a museum.

lace Petworth Cottage Museum

A sideboard drawer was slightly open to reveal a sumptuous collection of linen and lace.

stairs to the bedroom Petworth Cottage Museum

It was quite a little while before we headed upstairs but the guide did not hurry me

instead we talked about textiles and my interest in the museum because Mrs Cummings was a Seamstress.

Mrs Cunningham Petworth Cottage Museum

And here, at last is Mrs Cummings! Working away at her beautiful treadle sewing machine!

Petworth Cottage Museum

She is making a beautiful piece of delicate lace

Sewing room Petworth Cottage Museum

Again the details are captivating – sewing boxes, thread, darning tools

sewing supplies Petworth Cottage Museum

lace, buttons, pins and needles

shears and patterns Petworth Cottage Museum

her long shears hang on a hook just within reach

Seamstress Bill Petworth Cottage Museum

and an original bill for making a blouse! 6 shillings and 7 pence… not even Primark pay that!

needlework books Petworth Cottage Museum

pattern books and a needlework encyclopaedia

fashion magazine Petworth Cottage Museum

a Parisian Fashion Journal

crochet lace Petworth Cottage Museum

An example of filet crochet lace sits above the pattern book it came from. I am in awe of the skill of the maker, the stitches are so small. I was told many housewives earned extra incomes for their families by selling these lace items at markets -often by gaslight or candle light and I know now what that was like!

christening gown Petworth Cottage Museum

Unfortunately the mechanical age saw demand for home made lace decline, and the skills were almost lost but there are wonderful examples to see, like this beautiful Christening Gown.

crochet lace Petworth Cottage Museum

I have always wanted to try my hand at faggotting, the recent trend for lace on clothing means I have no excuse!

crochet lace pattern book Petworth Cottage Museum

I believe this is tatting – I saw examples of this at a textiles exhibition recently, one lady had been working on a piece for 5 years, but it was so beautiful and well worth the effort.

quilt Petworth Cottage Museum

This beautiful quilt was hanging on the back of a chair, the silk was so vivid after many years

knitting basket Petworth Cottage Museum

we headed to the bedroom and noticed a delightful knitting basket that I wanted to take home!

filet crochet bedspread Petworth Cottage Museum

The bedspread was also filet crochet, Mrs Cummings Pyjamas were laid out ready with another crochet pyjama case

pjs Petworth Cottage Museum

And a bed warmer all air the bed

bed warmer Petworth Cottage Museum

wash stand Petworth Cottage Museum

The wash stand, and the discrete bucket, (you saw the outhouse in the garden in the first picture)

alcove for a wardrobe Petworth Cottage Museum

hats and handbags

lace curtain Petworth Cottage Museum

little dressing table with curling irons

wash stand Petworth Cottage Museum

Such a pretty rose patterned dish and matching table runner in delicate cross stitch

filet lace Petworth Cottage Museum

What a beautiful lace panel along the fireplace. (I think they like Filet Crochet as much as I do!)

clothes Petworth Cottage Museum

no wardrobe just curtains and a towel rail but the clothes are neatly pressed

curtains Petworth Cottage Museum

The curtains matched at the window and they were so pretty I thought I would give you a closer peek at the pattern

bloomers Petworth Cottage Museum

And you thought French knickers were large! These were bloomers worn at the time! with the lovely guide holding them. She kindly brought many more textiles and lace to show me, when she discovered my passion for textiles

to the attic Petworth Cottage Museum

One more flight to the attic room past the wondrous wool coat

attic Petworth Cottage Museum

What a delightful room for a child – but that bed doesn’t look too comfortable

bedside reading Petworth Cottage Museum

there were some really lovely picture books

school slate Petworth Cottage Museum

as well as s school slate

crochet blanket Petworth Cottage Museum

I loved the round little crochet cover with its pretty lacy border which completes our little tour of the house.

If you are near Petworth do make a visit it really is a delightful place you can find more information about opening times here