Monday, 20 November 2017

Bowled Over

I caught up with the recent Rick Stein cookery programmes last week - I had some knitting to do, and I could kill two birds with one stone that way. He's travelling to Mexico and reliving his youth.
One of the things he tasted was chowder in a bread bowl.
I looked up his recipe online - and was extremely disappointed to find that he suggested buying the rolls and hollowing them out.
You need fair sized crusty rolls [around 4½"-5" across] and they don't sell any that big round here. So I checked out the recipe I used a few years back-  we had enjoyed soup in bread bowls when we were in Boston on our Silver Wedding Trip [13 years ago] My recipe is still pretty good - I cannot recall where online I originally found it. Last time, I made the dough in my breadmaker. This time I kneaded it in my big Kenwood. I made 4 good sized rolls.
My soup was "Fridge Scrape" - using lots of leftovers- some onions and other leftover veg bitsfrom the fridge, 2 pots of frozen stock, plus two small portions of beef and veg casserole from the freezer [defrosted and blitzed in the liquidiser] I put in a generous spoonful of tamarind paste, to give some umami savouriness- then left it "blippin away" in the slow cooker all day. Once it was all cooked, I liquidised it again - served some in my breadbowls, and froze the rest [plus the 2 remaining bowls] A 5" bowl holds around half a pint of thick soup. I love the way that once the soup s all gone, the crusty shell is soft and chewable. Delicious!
Very satisfying on a cold November evening. Rick's programme is interesting from a 'travel' point of view - but I was a little disappointed when one recipe was for basic salad dressing. Come on Rick, give us something a little more exotic than that, please!
On the subject of current TV Cookshows, have you watched Nigella's latest?
Much fuss has been made about the fact that she cooks in her dressing gown.
In case you want to buy a similar gown for yourself or a loved one, it is from Maude and Tommy. It is called the One Hundred Stars Venice Map gown, costing £65. It is hand wash only - and sorry, but it is out of stock right now [the 'Nigella Effect' they tell me]
I frequently wear my dressing gown when working in the kitchen - particularly Sunday mornings. I have long since discovered that even with an apron, I can splash my Sunday best as I prepare lunch before dashing off to church. My dressing gown [ancient, £20 from Cotton Traders] is a much safer garment - and I can sling it in the washing machine whenever it gets dirty.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The Bottom Line

A short video, worth watching to introduce the Toilet Twinning Charity, because today is World Toilet Day.

And here is a link to a BBC story about a creative way of solving the problem of sanitation in India, organised by SHRI [Sanitation and Health Rights India]
Finally, another charity concerned about people's basic needs, and the needs of the environment.
I know that it's Sunday, and usually on a Sunday I post about something connected with my faith - an old hymn, or a Bible passage, or a story about someone who has done a good deed which has challenged me. 
I make no apologies for posting about this topic today. 
If we got up this morning, and used a clean, flushing loo, and were able to wash our hands afterwards in a pleasant bathroom - with privacy and decent loo paper, then it is a good thing for us to be reminded of the millions throughout the world who are denied this basic human right. James 1:27 says
This is what God the Father wants. It is clean and right. Go and help those who have no father and mother. Go and help widow women whose husbands are dead. These people have troubles. And keep yourself clean from the wrong things in the world.
So go and spend a penny or two, in support of the organisations that make decent sanitation possible for the people who have troubles.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Are You Listening?

I am really dense sometimes - there I was looking at the 'Christmas Shop' section of John Lewis, and at the end of one display unit I saw these...I thought they were some sort of ecclesiastical themed Christmas pillar candles
But on closer inspection, I discovered they are bluetooth speakers.
I presume the design I took to be a cross is actually +- and refers to the volume control?
They are called Ultimate Ears, and that Alexa woman is hiding inside them! She was inspired by the conversational computer system used in Star Trek, and named after the ancient library at Alexandria. 
There are many models in the UE series- collectively called the Ultimate Family. That just reminded me of the importance of my own ecclesiastical church family, and the need to be listening carefully, and responding thoughtfully, whenever I am spoken to.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Tickled Pink - A Carnation Tutorial

I am always amused by the derivation of the work pink.  Originally it meant to cut a zig-zag edge, and goes right back to the 1500s. There's a similar German word pinken.

I am very fond of my pinking shears - and when Nadia asked to borrow them for her craft last week, she was surprised when I asked "For paper or fabric?" - they are impossible to sharpen, so when I inherited my Mum's I immediately designated their specific use.
The colour pink is believed to have got its name from the dianthus flowers, aka pinks- which have pinked edges
I needed my [paper] pinking shears this week to make some carnations [red ones]

  • These are really quick to put together, and look surprisingly effective. 
  • One 33cm 2-ply napkin makes 2 blooms.
  • You don't have to bind the stalks with stem tape - especially if you are putting them into an arrangement, but it does give a neater finish. 
  • Green garden wire will work, at a pinch, or a pipecleaner
  • And if you haven't got pinking shears, you can still make the flowers with 'clean cut' edges. But they won't be 'proper' pinks
  • for larger blooms, you can use the same method, but firmer paper like tissue or crepe will work better.

I've put a photo tutorial together - click on it to enlarge

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Yule Never Believe It!

That was the title of the event last Saturday Night- it was our Girls' Night In
 We decorated the church hall in festive fashion, and set out coffee, cakes and cocktails.

The various Christmas themed crafts proved very popular - Nadia's table worked hard to produce felt gingerbread men and figgy puddings

On other tables, people made bags, and decorated fir cones, created tiny twiggy tree decorations, and folded pyramid table favours. As well as this hive of industry, there was plenty of time to chat with friends new and old.

Over thirty chatty females turned up, which was lovely. You never know, the first time that you try something, what the attendance will be. Thank you to everyone who provided cakes and crafts, and all those who came along.

We did have some cake left over to serve with Sunday's After-Church Coffee though!
LanniesMum commented on the blog last week that she is looking forward to seeing what I'm doing and making in the Christmas Run Up- well this was the first Christmas Event of the year.
I provided the cocktails again - check out my lovely new stand for the drinks dispensers. Bob made this for me a couple of months ago - it is so useful. My contribution to the crafts was the pyramid table favours. I shall post a proper tutorial for these soon. I notice there is something similar in last week's Waitrose Weekend newspaper. Mine don't need you to glue fiddly flaps though.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Here We Go Again...

On Saturday week, the Ferndown Christmas Lights wil be switched on. And the Church Stand will be doing the "Get In The Picture" Experience. The ultimate Christmas Photobooth! However, I realised a few days ago that I only have adult costumes here. I am fairly certain that I left the children's ones in the Sunday School Cupboard at Kirby.
So on Monday afternoon, out came the overlocker 
I fetched fabrics down from the loft. [Why is the Great Stash not getting any smaller?]

I made seventeen outfits- Mary, Joseph, shepherds, kings and five angels.
I must be getting better at it- it took less than 5 hours. 
As usual I used this tutorial.
I am fascinated to see the tutorial continues to do the rounds on Pinterest - and every year since I first posted in 2010, I get emails from parents, teachers and Sunday School staff thanking me for it.
I am so glad it's proving useful.
Two other comments
Fiirst - notice the plastic carrier bag, tucked under the edge of the overlocker in the top picture. That is supposed to catch threads and trimmings, making the clear-up easier. It works about 75% of the time.
Second - the bottom picture showing the clothes rail in the hall. That's our lovely new laminate floor- replacing the moth eaten carpet. I am ridiculously excited by this. Very grateful to our landlords [ie UCF] for arranging this, and Scott and Jimmy for efficiently getting it in place last week.
Now I am hoping that Saturday 25th is warmer than last year's Switch On event, when I stood all day on the Church Stand and froze [despite wearing my motorbike thermals] 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Enthusiasm For Embroidery

For the first time in weeks, I managed to get to the library on Friday.  I picked up a couple of books about embroidery. I haven't really had the opportunity to do any proper embroidery since the tea-cosies [Norwich and Manchester]  but I do like seeing other people's work, and admiring their skills. A favourite blog is Jenny of Elefantz - an Australian designer who is particularly good at interpreting Bible verses in stitchery. I've yet to do any of her designs although I have downloaded a few freebies, and maybe one day...
But back to my library books. The first was Stitch and Sew Home, by Eline Pellinkhof. Eline is Dutch, and the book says that she too has a blog [hereI had not come across her work before.
This book is full of over 45 little projects to sew, embroider or cross stitch. If I have a complaint, it is that many of the projects involve fabrics Eline has specially designed - or mention ribbons, buttons, stamps and other haberdashery from her online store. But I am confident that most people would be able to find appropriate equivalents if they hunted around.
Having said that, there are a lot of fun ideas in the book - some I have seen before [eg displaying fabric in embroidery hoops] whilst others were new to me. I would never have thought of embroidering on a chinese ricepaper lampshade!
The fabrics tend to be of the Cath Kidston variety - red, pink and blue, floral and polka-dot. Or they are from the ecru, lace and burlap fold. 
But I found the book pretty, and fun to read through - and I particularly liked her style of mixing different techniques in one piece - the keyfob on the cover is stitched- with a stamped birdcage, a crocheted ribbon, and patched fabric.
I did not know about of 'soap chains' and had to look them up on the Internet. Basically, you cut out a shape from a thin slice of soap, and then suspend it on a ribbon, lace and beads and buttons.
They are meant to be decorative and perfume the bathroom or bedroom -you don't actually wash with the soap! I suspect they would get tired and dusty after a while. 
The book certainly has diverse ideas, and good templates and instructions. ****
The second book is by an American, Aimee Ray. Doodle Stitching [fresh and fun embroidery for beginners]
Now this was fun- I am by no means a beginner, but I thought Aimee's approach was good. Clear instructions, and again, lots of different projects. A bit less 'twee' than Eline. Also, more items you might actually use, not just ornamental pieces, and ideas for decorating garments [skirt, shoes, shorts]
I think that because she is aiming at beginners, she has kept her stitching techniques simple- and everything uses all six plies [strands] of floss. But she does point out that you can always combine plies from different colours to make different shades. She also suggests variations - eg she shows three different ways to interpret one bird 'doodle'

I liked this book, there are others by the same author which I shall check out. Here is the back cover...

Here's the old man of the hill 
One odd thing - that girl in the headband appears, smiling, throughout the book, and I thought she must be Aimee. But she isn't, she's just a model! 
I'd give this one **** as well. But at the moment, I have other projects on hand, and decorative stitchery will have to wait!