Comfort and Joy – Sunday Sevens 18th March

Radiant and Green Travels book review

Joining Nat’s Sunday Sevens post this week…

It has been a tough six months -moving home and starting a new job, but it seems that things are getting easier – the worst is behind me – a bit like Spring things are starting to bloom. Although right now, I have woken up to a lovely covering of snow!

I have been struggling health wise – back in January I decided to try a wheat free diet – I bought two books Radiant and Green Kitchen travels. I think this decision has added to my misery- Green Travels has a wonderful recipe for chocolate cake that looks delicious but the steps to make it are very complicated – you have to use hazelnut flour that you grind yourself! I have taken the trouble to make it twice now – but my palate has not caught up – it just tasted rubbery and bland! (I do feel a rant coming on but I will save it for another post!)

wheat free peanut butter biscuits

However these little biscuits have been a life saver! My friend, P came over yesterday and I showed her how to make these – they were hot out of the oven in 10 minutes and they are gluten free.

Put 200g of peanut butter in a bowl, add 100 – 175 grams of sugar, ( I use 100g the recipe calls for 175 but I cut down all sugar in recipes) add an egg and mix. Put small balls on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Press with the back of a fork (tip if you want them crisp flatten them down – if you like them crispy on the outside and soft in the middle leave them a bit thicker. Also use dark muscovado sugar) Bake at 180 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Weekend Baking - Lemon Drizzle cake
Lemon Drizzle Cake

It has been a week where I have needed comforting – I’ve had 9 days of constant migraine so I have focussed on home comforts to soothe myself. I love baking – it is such a nurturing comforting activity. So on Monday I made a lemon drizzle cake and a dark ginger cake. The ginger was wrapped in one of my wax cloths (you can read how they are made on my other blog) – it helped the flavour develop for a couple of days and kept it very moist.

Comfort food - Mac Cheese
Comfort food – mac and cheese

I have also been reaching for comfort food in other ways – this Mac cheese was delicious – why should it be that carbs are demonised recently? I think food is so much more than the elements it is made from. I think this week has seen me rebel because despite cutting down on wheat – I am still getting horrendous migraines!

Seasonal Celebrations
Ready to decorate for Spring

My new tree arrived this week – we have a large alcove above the fireplace and I decided to buy an artificial tree to decorate as a way of celebrating the seasons. So I have been gathering items together to decorate it for Ostara which falls on the 20th of March – and Easter just after. I am not a pagan, but I love the story behind Ostara and it seems to be more Germanic – either way, Spring is a welcome guest.

Preparations for Spring Ostara
Eggs, Daffodils, Spring

 

I have been collecting egg shells – as well as polystyrene eggs to decorate – E and I will sit down together to paint them today which should be great fun. I will also save a few for little ones when they visit – we have little chicks too.

I am relishing the glorious bright sunny daffodils in abundance outside as well as in. They are so unashamedly vibrant – which is just what is needed after the dark months of January and February.

moon gazing hare embroidery
Ostara celebration embroidery

I have been loving slow sewing – this little Moon Gazing Hare embroidery was a delight to do – you can catch up with it on my made for mi blog. I am really enjoying hand embroidery – it is similar to colouring – there is no counting just following the lines one stitch at a time. It can be done easily while watching  listening to the Television.

Mini Vintage linen Quilt Embroidery
Mini Vintage Quilt Embroidery

I am using up all old vintage linens, (I found these pieces in a charity shop) to create mini quilts that I will be posting on made for mi soon. I think the sentiment sums up my week!

ttfn x

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Easter Gift Giving Decoupage

I am not sure where I get it from but I cannot bear to throw things away especially bottles and jars. I have agreed to run a decoupage evening for the Felpham Belles and wanted to do a more useful alternative to the usual egg decorating. Hence this little project was born.
  • Simply make sure you wash the jars out well – clean the outside with alcohol or white spirit
  • Decide how far up your jar you want your pattern to be and then put a thin layer of white acrylic paint  up to that point. Allow to dry. 
  • Take your napkin and carefully remove the top patterned layer from the white, this will give you a very delicate patterned paper. (you can use the decoupage papers if you prefer)
  • Use Deco Art Patio Paint and a soft brush to gently apply a thin layer to a small area that you wish to cover. 
  • Then lay the thin layer of napkin gently across the small patch of wet paint using the soft brush to slowly glue it to the surface. 
  • Work round your item – small patches as you go, until the item is covered.
  • Leave to dry. 
  • Apply a layer of clear varnish to give a really good seal. 
  • Add buttons or ribbon as desired with a hot glue gun

I think they make great gifts that can be filled with a variety of things from little chocolate eggs to ready made cookie mixes, spice mixes or haberdashery items. 

Of course it all starts with the right type of napkins, and this variety gave me a lot of patterns in one napkin. I added the pen marks to indicate stitching for this little patchwork jar, adding a little button on the top. 

I enjoyed using jars of different styles too, they seem to lend themselves to different designs. 
The wish jars are made by painting the jars with PVA glue in which you have mixed glitter. The finer glitter gives a better finish. 

As you can see I have used darker clouds at the bottom of the jars, gradually using lighter glitter until the top of the jar has silver. 

Once the jars were nice and dry I applied the butterfly decoupage around it. I think it looks as if the butterflies have just landed on the jar. 

I used a nice coloured napkin for the top of the jar and placed another butterfly on the top. 
Outliners come in a variety of colours, but I felt the white worked best for the word Wishes. 
I hope the class goes well. 

A place for everything

I love my little wire tree, my son bought it years ago for Mothers day, it has given me so much pleasure over that time. It used to have a different base, but one day it fell off a table and broke! I bought the pretty little pot it sits in and weighted it down with fishing weights, set it in some plaster and set some pretty pebbles and purls. I like to decorate it for Easter and Christmas but here it is decorated for Spring. 
The little bird box makes a great place to keep my keys – after frantic searches round the house, I decided it was much easier to have a place to put them in the hallway where they would not get lost! 

It sits upon a filing cabinet which I made this cover for from the delightful Clarke and Clarke, it really does make me think spring is here! 

Spring felted wreath version 2!

I did enjoy making the other wreath, but was going to be showing my ladies group how to make one so I thought I would adhere more to the original Bustle and Sew pattern, with a few minor adaptations, little felt flowers and using a heart willow wreath rather than a wooden sewing frame. 
It took some playing with different methods of creating flowers, but in the end I found these were the most satisfying – not only are they simple to make but very easy to do while watching call the midwife, you can save the fiddly bits for the more gruesome birth scenes! I must admit I loved the whole retro thing, especially the lovely fifties dresses, but having watched this programme I am so pleased I was born in the 60’s, it seems that birth control was the fundamental change for women more than getting the vote! 
I have found felt such fun to work with that I might make a few more items, Eternal maker had a beautiful spring cushion on display in the store it was very inspirational. Although these days it is hard to keep ideas at bay and concentrate on the process in hand! 
We had a lovely afternoon tea at Bosham Walk Craft Centre – it is well worth a visit, I had a wonderful piece of victoria sponge I managed to get some beautiful filet lace for £5! There is a fantastic beading stall as well as some fantastic vintage stalls and craft shops. Needless to say we bought some Chilli fudge at the shop on our way home! More walking in order me thinks! 
After walking the dog, I practised making more bread! Still in the experimental stage, this time using Allison’s country Grain flour, and I knew at the early kneading stage it was going to be a lovely loaf! I am beginning to get a feel for the elasticity in the bread. I had a great success with white bread, but I wanted to make something a little more wholesome but wholemeal flour is far too heavy, but this is just right. The dough enhancer is definitely worth using, but I am beginning to wonder at the ceramic tins I bought, they seem to make the bottom of the loaves doughy, although that might be me being too impatient and getting it out of the oven too early! Either way the experimentation continues! I don’t give up easily – and the bread was yummy!  

Spring Wreath

I really love Bustle and Sew I love the feel of her designs and this bunny was from one of her patterns, however as I was putting the fluffy tail on with my needle felt, I realised that it might give a more natural look if I was to continue. While I might love her patterns I struggle to follow instructions and once the bunny became fluffy, I decided to do the yo yo flowers too! 

The heart wreath is such a pretty design which added to the springtime theme and I really enjoyed making the daffodils! I did try tulips but they did not work out! 

I finished the top with a bigger yoyo and hung it with some starry ribbon

I have some black beads somewhere, so until I find them his eye will have to remain just a little spot

I really enjoyed making these tiny yoyo’s some of them as small as a 5pence piece, I also used brads and small ribbon flowers from my collection. The wreath is now hanging up heralding in the spring, under my little egg tree. 

I went to the Eternal maker on Saturday to top up my felt stash, there are so many gorgeous things you can make with felt that I have a hankering to make. 

I also tidied up my little scrap basket, after the yo yo class a lulamae’s I needed to re-organise, other items will go up in the loft storage, as I don’t like having too much out – I find it too overwhelming! 
We headed to a lovely tea shop this afternoon for tea and cake, at the Riverside tea rooms in Amberley, it was a little too cold for a walk but definitely one that we will go back to with the dog. Lovely selection of cakes. We can’t wait for the museum to open it looks a great place to visit. 

Transitions Bread

I have been making bread for a while now, but I needed a little bit of hands on expertise which might give me the confidence to bake great bread, efforts up to now have been ‘all right’. 
A great friend told me about Transitions Chichester which was set up a few years ago, it is a scheme where people share their skills to help one another, so you can offer your time which can be simple tasks such as babysitting to gardening and baking. 
So I was up bright and early Saturday morning, armed with pinny, a large mason cash bowl and a jug for Julia’s bread making course held in her own kitchen. There were four of us in all and Julia quickly put us at ease – (once a teacher always a teacher!). Together we all made loaves with Julia’s gentle guidance. I ended the morning not just with a loaf, but enthusiasm and new friends. 
The transitions scheme has its own currency, the chi, which Julia earned by hosting the course, chi’s can be then exchanged for help or learning new skills. I think it is a great idea and one that had me wondering what I can offer. The great thing about sharing a skill with someone, is that you can gleefully delight in their success knowing that you were a tiny seed in their creativity. 
And here.. at last (third time lucky!) is a seeded loaf, made with honey not sugar! I am so proud! 

While out walking with the dog, I came across this lovely clump of snowdrops nestling among the shade, such a beautiful sight that I could not help but share with you. Sunday was a gloriously sunny day, A and I walked the dog along the sandy beach and I really appreciate how lucky I am to be so close to the sea, with a lovely man and the dog teaches me to enjoy each moment, as he chases his frisbee enthusiastically his face in a wide grin!