Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Sow's ear = silk purse

I've just been on the SuperCook website for the first time and want to tell you about it because it's my new Favorite Thing.  I'm trying to cut down on food waste and save money on groceries but I'm a bugger for having lots of food in the house then buying something else because I can't think of what to do with what I've got.  You start by entering the ingredient that you want to use then the site searches for all recipes with that ingredient.  At the top of the screen another list of ingredients appears and you tick off all the ones you've got.  It then picks out all the recipes that you already have all the ingredients for and lists links to the site where the recipe is published.

Tonight I found a speedy recipe for garlic shrimp, it was delicious and I wouldn't have thought of making it yet I already had everything I needed.  I've found a recipe for Chinese pork chops for tomorrow's dinner so I can use up some pork steaks that have been languishing in the freezer.

Do check it out as it will be very helpful if you're a "but it was on special offer!" stockpiler or buy stuff in supermarket bargain bins then can't think what to do with it (ie. me).

Friday, 15 February 2013

Brambly Hedge

When I was a little person I was fascinated by the drawings in a Brambly Hedge book I had. It was about a community of mice who lived in hollowed out trees and burrows and the drawings were so detailed and perfect that I still love them. This is the picture I examined most often, a cut away of one of the tree houses:

This week I stumbled across this model via Pinterest and it bought back my delight in all the details:

There are more photo's of it here, including how it was made (and there's a link to a miniature Hobbit hole made by the same person). 

Twenty-four years have passed since I fell in love with this little house in Brambly Hedge but I still wish I could live there!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

The joy of wear and tear

Two friends recently returned items that I'd made back to me. Was I offended? Certainly not, since the handing back was accompanied by the words "It's got a hole, do you think it can be fixed?". The baby blanket and socks had been well worn, washed and re-washed many times and had generally got about a bit. I was pleased that they'd been used enough that they were in need of repairs! 

I spend time carefully planning gifts and asking myself what does this person like to wear, what colours do they like, what style do they enjoy?  Then there's the time spent making the gift and finally the gift giving. Most people enjoy getting something carefully hand made that they can use and enjoy, but there was one embarrassing occasion when it went something like this (this will be familiar to a lot of crafters):

Me, handing over the gift:  Happy birthday!

Giftee, opening it:  Oh.

[Long, awkward pause]

Giftee: Right. A scarf.

Me: Er, yes.

[Further awkward pause]

Giftee: Yeah, thanks.

Giftee puts the scarf swiftly aside and I wonder how I've managed to cause such offense with a hand knit scarf in luxury fiber, in their favorite colour that matches their coat. Giftee is, by this time, in raptures over the Boots bubble bath set they were given by someone else. Two months later the scarf is hanging on the back of the giftee's daughter's door, untouched.

So that's why I'm so pleased when something I've made get's worn through, stretched, holey, frayed, out grown or even lost in action.  It shows they're out in the world serving a purpose, warming the people I love and not being saved 'for best'.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Wednesday Pick Me Up

Wednesday being Wednesday, the mid-week bump, it's time for a pick me up. Quite a lazy one but these are things I've seen and liked on the internet this week and which I think you might like too.

A very thorough and clear tutorial on making a quilt by jessyratfink on Instructables.

Cornbread - I've been meaning to make it for ages and seeing these golden rolls on BBC food has reminded me.

I think this is a clever bit of making something out of nothing - instructions for a bird feeder made from a juice bottle and a coffee cup lid.

This could be a fun way to use up odd orphan balls of yarn that are too odd for anything else - pompom rug on Design Crisis.

Happy Wednesday, may the weekend come soon.

Monday, 4 February 2013

What the hell is it?


Ok, it may look like I've decided to pile up some rubbish on our coffee table for no apparent reason, but it's actually my sweet pea propagator and what it lacks in looks it makes up for in value; six loo roll tubes in a plastic mushroom tub covered in plastic wrap that I got from Tesco Home Panels for free to test. It takes up less space than separate pots but should give the sweet pea seedlings the long root space they need before I plant them out. Yes Mr Crafty Blueberry, there was actually a reason I was saving loo roll tubes, I hadn't cracked up after all. Yet.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Rough around the edges

Yesterday I found a nearly finished quilt that I started 4 or 5 years ago and had half forgotten about. When I pulled it out of it's bag (stuffed in the back of the highest cupboard) I could see why; many of the lines don't match up, the edges are uneven, the stitching wonky. I shoved it away back then because finishing it was depressing. I'd put so much effort in and really made a mess of it, and sewing on the edging just made it clearer to me how wrong it had gone. In the past 4 years though many things large and small havn't gone according to plan and it seems that I'm less bothered by this than I was because I saw the state of the abandoned thing, thought "Sod it, it'll be warm" and dragged it downstairs to finish it. A couple of hours later I'd sewn the last two sides of edging on, chopped off (most of) the many loose threads and was snuggled up under it on the sofa with Mr CB.

To be honest it may well fall apart after a couple of washes (oh those terrible, wonky edges!) but I'm glad I finished it and fortunately it's made from cheap remnants of fabric that cost me next to nothing when I bought it. I'm enjoying the hot colours on this massive quilt and the prospect of learning from my mistakes and making a much better one. 

I did some collaborative baking with Mr Crafty Blueberry and made something else that turned out to be rough around the edges. We had our hearts set on making a custard tart so I made the pastry and he made the vanilla egg custard. The pastry was the best I've made, the custard was smooth and sweet, the nutmeg was plentiful (there's never enough on shop bought ones). On the down side it looked like this:


I've looked for advice on the internet and it looks like I should have used all butter in my pastry instead of half butter and half margarine. Once again I know for next time and in the mean time am enjoying a wonky slice of custard tart on a wonky quilt and reflecting that I'm glad that these days I'm not so easily disheartened when my attempts go awry.