Easy like Sunday Morning – Sunday Sevens ≠1

Southampton Art Gallery

I have been enjoying the Sunday Sevens of other bloggers and thought i would join in the fun. Its the idea of Natalie at Threads and Bobbins (What a fab site!). It gives such a lovely glimpse into peoples lives – I really enjoy catching up with Sunshine and Celadines, Making and Marking and Bekki at Dartmoor Yarns – its the blogging equivalent of peeking over the garden fence!

Wasn’t it a fantabulous weekend thankfully the Sunshine Returned! Saturday I went on my usual 6 weekly visit to see my Son in Southampton, he manages a Hairdressing Salon and we combine his hairdressing talents and a general  catch up – usually ending with a lovely meal or we head off dancing together. Southampton is my home town and it is always interesting to see it with new eyes. I arrived in good time to be able to visit the Art Gallery – this fountain is situated right at the entrance – I remember playing in it as child!

Rhinestone Rhino

This sparkling creation was in the lobby, it was full size!

Not quite a disco ball!

getting to grips with the Aga

We have been in our new home a month, I have always wanted a home with an Aga, and this little beauty is living up to my dreams. Whenever we enter the house, it feels so warm and welcoming. There are four ovens, warming, slow cooking, baking and roasting. The top has a warming plate, a boiling plate and a simmering plate.

Sunday Baking

On Sunday morning, I thought I would  try out the baking oven – I had been told that they are great for cake making, as the ovens are a very even heat. We used a thermometer to get the balance right and the baking oven stays about 180, the simmering oven is about 140 and the roasting oven is about 210.

new scales

I found these beautiful vintage scales in a charity shop – they came complete with a full set of weights. They are perfect for me as usually cook in imperial measurements – pounds and ounces -just call me an old fashioned girl.

Victoria Sandwich

We get our eggs from a wonderful local organic farm – I love seeing all the chickens roaming freely in the fields.

The large eggs are often double yolkers – all three were so I reduced the eggs in the recipe,  they are

a wonderful deep yellow.

weekend reading

Cakes in the oven – it was time for a cuppa,

Using a whistling kettle takes me back to my childhood days, long before electric kettles were the norm.

The warming hob is the perfect place for the teapot – it stays at the perfect temperature for a good second or third cuppa.

I caught up with a little weekend reading, while the cakes baked.

Country living is one of my all time favourites – the photography is blissful I often cut up the pictures and use them for vision boards or inspiration.

Victoria Sponge

 In no time the cakes were cooked – they seemed to bake evenly with no soggy bottoms!

tea and cake

A slice or two to check the cake was ok – Mr D enjoyed his slice.

The golden caster sugar gives it a caramel colour, and the flavour is more rounded, I just use a bit of raspberry jam.

unpacking the studio

We are moving in gradually – the studio shelves have arrived so I spent some time unpacking

studio shelves

In no time at all the shelves were full! might need some overflow storage!

winter flowers

There were a few empty flower containers – so i decided to pot up some winter pansies

winter pansies

They are such pretty flowers – I think violets are my favourite they vary in colour from yellows to purples.

my crop

My gardening skills won’t be risking our veg box delivery – this is the sum total of my tomato crop!

cupcake welcome

My lovely daughter and son in law popped round for lunch – she made us some welcome home cupcakes!

a relaxing swim

I am enjoying our lovely pool – ending the working day with a swim is divine we can watch the sun setting over the trees.

time for a soak

Then it is time for a good book and a good soak, just in case I am not wet enough!

Have a lovely week.

ttfn x

Valentines Weekend in pictures

Bacon Sandwich and breakfast readingThere is something decadent about lazy Saturday mornings, crisp bacon between soft brown bread and a little bit of reading inspiration.Mr D bought this magazine because it had an article about lingerie – he knows I have been researching this subject for a while. I am so blessed to have a man in my life who pays attention to my creativity and encourages me. He bought me a pile of little reading books for Valentines day, short stories that he will read me when we are tucked up in bed!

As well as some beautiful daffodils. I think these flowers should be identified with Valentines day, roses are simply twigs at this time of the year, but the daffodils push through the cold, they are like vases of sunshine – so good at lifting my spirits on a dull February day.

Cross-stitch love 2

I have been playing around with cross stitch, creating these two pieces to be turned into bolsters on our bed, except I realised the material is up in the Cotswolds. I thought it might be a nice gift. I also created a play list on youtube of songs that are special to us – we listened to it cuddled up on the sofa. .. nice.

Portrait picture design

I had this idea for creating personalised portraits about a year ago, its only just come to fruition.

I have a couple of workshops coming up, so needed to concentrate on getting them completed this weekend

Arranging fabric portrait

I love this ‘red bird fabric’ from Eternal Maker – I bought it from memory about the right shade of red to match the frame, thank fully the red was just right.

Fabric portraits

In no time they were done! we can gaze into each other’s eyes, or turn them around if we argue!

Afternoon tea was ready and waiting.

Home made afternoon tea

Smokies, muffins, chocolate cake and raspberry and white chocolate brownies

The chocolate cake was sublime, I am usually the baker but I think Mr D has stolen my crown!

After a walk along the seashore in the glorious sunshine

Heart chocolate souffle

Dinner was sublime, crab pasta followed by heart shaped chocolate raspberry soufflé

Mr D is a delightful cook and a fantabulous man! Breakfast Bagel

Smoked Salmon Bagels with cream cheese for Sunday Brunch

Picking out embroidery colours

More embroidery

Reading papers, relaxing and dog walking.

Perfect!

ttfn

x

Lovely lazy Saturday

Saturday mornings are a pleasure all of their own, it is waking up with that feeling you don’t have to rush anywhere. Weekend breakfasts are lengthy, tea in a tea pot, tea cups and the Guardian Quiz. (Only three correct this week!) I love scotch pancakes (or dropped scones if you prefer), these are extra good for you because they are from my low GI cookbook, I also make them with a little fruit sugar rather than normal sugar. They are filling and mean I can often last out to lunch. 
You simply put two heaped tablespoons of SR flour, Wholemeal Flour and one table spoon of porridge oats and Fruit sugar into a bowl. Add half a teaspoon of baking powder and mix well. Then add two large eggs to the centre, gradually bringing in the dry ingredients, add milk gradually until you have a thick batter. 
Heat a griddle or frying pan, and brush with  a mixture of oil and butter. (Butter creates a lovely buttery flavour to the pancakes, but you have to turn the heat down a little otherwise it smokes). Put a tablespoons of the mixture on the griddle – keeping them slightly apart. Watch the mixture turn from glossy to dull, then turn over to cook the other side. Leave on a kitchen towel to soak any excess oil, delicious to eat while warm. 

I have almost finished curtain wrestling, – I can’t call it sewing there was simply too much material! Double width, 90″ drop and lined with black out lining! I had to sew on the dining room table in order to have support for all the fabric! I shall let them hang for a while and then finish the bottoms. As you can see my beloved Bernina is back in action! 

One tip I learned from Maria from Clothkits is that she keeps a little pin cushion on her machine, it is an ideal place! This little lovely was bought at a craft fair quite a few years ago, it sits perfectly on that spot! It might be my imagination but I did not have quite so many pins on the floor afterwards! 

Cake is also the perfect pick me up – the rain might have been pounding on the windows, but you can’t beat a nice home made Victoria Sponge, cuddled up on the sofa, yet another pot of tea close at hand, watching a good film. 
I used cocktail sticks to create a little design on the top. 

It looks like a firework! I used the plum jam I made a few weeks ago, it was nice and tart and a great contrast to the sweet icing. 
The weather outside might be frightful, but home is so delightful! 
Happy Autumn

September Seasons of Mists

September is considered the first month of Autumn here, but the Sep comes from seven, when it was the seventh month of the Roman Calendar! While the hedgerows are full of blackberries they are still not ripened, which is surprising given the long hot summer days we had.  I went to my Son’s for dinner on Saturday and came to the realisation that Autumn is definitely upon us, I was chilly for the first time in months. I woke up this morning and put on tights – and was looking at all my summer dresses thinking that it was time to start putting them away, I told S and he smiled saying that maybe I might need them if we went somewhere warm! It cheered me up!

Saturday was the monthly table top sale at St Mary’s church – there is a wonderful variety of stalls but I was delighted to find this gorgeous little sandwich plate, as you can see by my tea cup it matches perfectly with my little tea set. I don’t think I shall ever grow out of playing with tea sets. A snip at £3! I also found a lovely wicker picnic basket, which I love to use for storage in my studio – it is just the perfect size another bargain at £2!

We had a lazy weekend really, just relaxing at home – the joy of working from home means that you can keep up with Domesticity without chores encroaching on your weekend. After visiting the table top sale we ambled over to Rose Green Centre of Art and Craft where there was an Autumn painting work shop taking place. The centre is wonderful selling lots of work from local artists as well as running regular workshops on different themes. I signed up for a printmaking course next Saturday – I have been wanting to explore printing for a long time so I am now thinking about what to design!

I love my new casserole dish – there is something fabulous about cast iron cookware. Yes it is very heavy but this is such a gorgeous shade of blue and cream – an addition to my pot I bought a few months ago. I love cooking with these pots, they keep such a great even temperature – you can switch them off or down low and they retain the heat for a long time. 
I have also been re-vamping some things… will post more soon but until then here is a tiny taster …

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! 

Coffee Break

I have not abandoned my sewing machine, I have been busy stitching away, but I cannot really share what I am up to as I have to send it to be published! However, I can share with you my little coffee cosy which is published in Sewing World this month. I also wrote about our local sewing group called the Blake Belles.
I was inspired by a small box of ribbons!  This makes a good two or three cups so I needed to keep it warm, but coffee cosy sounds so odd! 
The weekend flew by in warm contentment, I spent most of Saturday playing around with fabric as it was too cold to go anywhere, the snow had settled – the roads icy and hard. 
 I made a fruit cake this week, with a few seeds and nuts in the mixture. I have quite a sweet tooth and so I try to have something on hand that meets my needs but isn’t too calorific, but most importantly is good for me. 
Sleet settled in for the afternoon, but I took the dog for a walk in the wintry conditions but really did not stay out that long – the dog kept on stopping and looking up at me every few moments! 
I made some lovely red pepper soup – I really like the intensity of flavour you get from slow roasting peppers – they are so sweet. I am also trying my hand at bread making, with some success. It is very simple to make the hardest thing is having the patience to wait for it to rise. Like us all it is also about staying warm!