Thursday, 14 July 2011

Quilt fabric, onesies, butternut squash soup, bread making, grandma oat-cake, cycling, pact, success board, dentist, cat

So! Have I been busy or what recently folks! So much to tell! Okay, so not so much to tell, but some lovely photos of what I've been up to.

So I have some lovely photos of fabric for you, like this:

and this:

These are the fabrics I've been choosing for the quilt I'm going to make. I know, there are a lot of dark fabrics in there, but I have a plan, or an idea, at least, in my head of what i want. I'm intending to pair all the blues and greens with the pale cream in the top picture - it's very difficult to get a photo of it, so no justice has been done in that one - and then use the cream as a base for setting squares, and possibly for the back as well, although I'm still working my head round kinks of what I want to do with the back of it. But yeah. By using cream and then bright blues and greens, I'm hoping to get a really lovely quilt that goes with my room and looks bright and fresh at the same time.

I also have this fabric, which I'm planning to try to turn into baby onesies. I believe i mentioned in my last post that I was considering doing this, and setting up an online shop. Well, I'm taking a tentative step further forward, and I'm going to try making a couple of onesies. I've looked at various patterns online, and in magazines, and I'm going to try some mish-mashes of them and see what I prefer, and what parents of babies think, like next door. I think getting feedback from them will be really helpful, since they have a new baby girl who's a few months old and so perfect for what I'm looking at right now.

These are the fabrics I have for playing with right now, as well as the remnants of the jungle animals I made sleep bags out of before. They are both white, and you can see, one of them is brighter, with pink and purple bows on, and the other is more subtle, with pale flowers on. I know they're both a bit girly, but for now that's okay, since these will be experiments. Plus, the animals I have is gender neutral, so that's okay!

I think another thing I mentioned in my last post was an interest in making butternut squash soup. Well, I did! I even took the liberty of photographing my efforts at different stages of cooking:

Coating the vegetables in oil and cooking them through a bit...

... Stock added, and left to simmer for a while...

... Finished soup!

For the record, it was yummy. And the parents enjoyed it, too. There wasn't as much flavour as I'd hoped for, but it was still delicious. And, when I had another bowl the next day, I added a sprinkle of mild chili powder to it before heating it up, and there was all the flavour I'd been missing! Definitely a recipe to keep hold of, I think. Plus, the knowledge that I can make soup is very reassuring. It's not something I've done before, but I would definitely do it again!

I made bread the other day. Nothing special, just standard bread, white loaf. I kind of wanted to make wholemeal, but we didn't have the flour for it. Something to put on the shopping list (as well as more sun dried tomatoes!) Our bread maker is not the best. I think it as a relatively cheap one that my parents bought, and that was a long time ago, at least eight years. We recently replaced the pan in it, because the old one was warped... but the new one was as much of a problem, because it left huge deposits of flour in the corners of the tin. To combat this, we'd been scraping the corners out ten minutes into mixing. I, however, forget to do this on this particular occasion... I was quietly hopeful, however, when I saw how beautiful the dough looked in the tin, all smooth, not too wet, not too dry...

See? I almost didn't want to tip it, out, it looked so perfect! But needs must, and I tipped it out to reveal a clean tin inside! So the frustration of forgetting to tend to the corners, for nothing! Of course, I was in love with this gorgeous dough - maybe it was just the right day for bread making? - and when I kneaded it in a bit, it looked pretty in a whole new way. SO I took another photo of it:

All twisted and pretty, you know? And then of course I sectioned it off and turned it into a loaf and some rolls. Still pretty. Just not as pretty as pre-cooking:

The other bit of baking I did was with my dad. Or rather, he did the baking with me. I was merely there to supervise, offer advice and so on. We made grandma oat-cake, which is a family thing. When we used to go and visit grandma, my dad's mum, she always had a huge store of these heavenly, delicious cakey slices of gooey sweetness that we called grandma oat-cakes. They're basically just shortcrust pastry with a layer of jam and then a layer of flapjack on top, nothing special. But they're ever so slightly oily, and sticky, and moist and sweet and the brown sugar adds a darkness that mixes perfectly with homemade raspberry jam...

This stuff is like the manna of heaven, it really is. And okay, so we haven't quite got the recipe down yet, it was a little too sticky and I think there weren't enough oats in the flapjack. But each bite is like a tasty memory of fishing those slices out of the drawer at grandma's. The flavour is absolutely huge, the flapjack and jam crashing against each other in an awesome balance of sweet, heavy, sticky versus sharp, tangy. And the pastry adds a crunch to the gooey inside. Plus some structure, of course. You wouldn't wanna try to eat it without the pastry to hold the rest. But yeah. Not something you want too much of all at once, because it is very strong in flavour, and rather sticky in the throat. But it's soo good with it!

So that was Tuesday, all baking and yumminess. Yesterday H cycled round to mine. It's not a really long way, about twenty minutes cycling. But she burst through the door when she arrived, 'I... am... never... cycling... again!!' Panting for breath, grabbing a glass and filling it with water, she showed me the bike. This is not your bog standard push bike, easy to ride, fun to cycle. This is a bike built for the road. Skinny little tyres, upwardly curved handlebars, a speedometer!! I tried to ride it: I couldn't. It tips your body downward so all your weight is on your hands, and the brakes are really awkward to try and find when cycling. But H explained, 'it was the only bike we had that was whole. Most of the others are missing a wheel.' Well of course, that explains it. After all, who doesn't keep bikes once they have only one wheel and are less useful than unicycles?

The point of this story though, is that H dropped by, where we watched some more Tribe (yay!) and did lots of chatting, and caught each other up in the brief space of time before she's off on holiday again. And we made a pact. Backstory needed here: H and I are going o London in August to watch Wicked. This was originally meant to be a group trip for about five of us, but since the others never provided me with money to book the trip, H and I got to the stage where we just went, sack it off let's go just the two of us. Other bit of backstory is that I have a horrible stress habit to do with my OCD tendencies, where I scratch my arms and dig my nail into my skin. I do this because I see lots of little flaws on my skin, you know, the little tiny dots where the hairs come out of your arms. And in scratching and digging my nails in, I do a lot of damage to my arms and make the problem worse. Vicious cycle, people. Not something where just stopping is easy, because the holes for the hairs will always be there, and I'll always be aware of them. But having this awful habit stresses me out too, because aside from it making the problem worse, it makes my arms look disgusting and makes me uncomfortable about baring them. So I made a pact with H. I do my best to stop scratching my arms, and if I can keep it to a minimum until we go to London, she will let me wax her legs. She doesn't like having her legs waxed, because she had it done once before and it hurt. I have mine waxed because it's less hassle than shaving, and by the third time it doesn't really hurt anymore. So that's the deal. If my arms get a chance to heal, her legs get a break from the razor. And, to help motivate myself, like a geek I've made myself a 'success' chart where I can count down to London, and check off each day of no scratching at the same time. And it gave me a chance to experiment and make little samples of lots of techniques for card-making:

See? I have favourite squares, I do. But I love it all. It was really fun to make. It also counts me down to next Wednesday when I'm having my next bit of surgery with the dentist. It's one of the big ones, he's placing the rods in my jaw and giving me a granulated bone graft. So yeah! It's craft central here, for the rest of today I'm going to clean the kitchen floor and get making a onesie. And I'm gonna leave you with a cute picture of my cat, because I think I don't take enough photos of her, and she'll be dead before I realise how much she means to me.

Isn't she just beautiful? Posing for the camera there, too!

Love love xx

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