Tuesday 30 June 2009

Textured cushion...

I am stupidly pleased with my textured cushion of Summer Tweed fame.

I love the texture! And the spiky edging.

I loved just going round and round and round...

I love the way it goes with my Katie Jump Rope quilt.

I closed it with some buttons rather than crocheting it together.

Speaking of love, I'm loving the way my red and turquoise quilt is coming along. Want a sneaky peek?

And lastly, I love cherries...

Sunday 28 June 2009


Every morning, at about 11am, I like to have a mug of coffee and a biscotti. Home-made, of course. So I thought I would share the recipe that I have used for the past couple of years or so. They are a complete doddle - they probably takes less than 5 minutes to make - there is no fussy weighing, just American cup sizes to measure out with.

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup nuts - I usually use almonds or hazelnuts or both!

Turn oven on to 150°C/Gas Mark 2 and use a piece of parchment paper to cover a baking tray.

Mix the sugar and eggs in a free-standing mixer and beat until thick. Add flour, salt and baking powder and mix in slowly. Add the nuts. It should have the consistancy of sticky cookie dough (that's very sticky!). Spoon out onto baking tray into a long oval shape and bake for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and turn oven down to 140°/Gas Mark 1. Leave to cool slightly for 10 minutes.

Cut up into rougly 1/2" slices and place back on baking tray, cut side up. Toast back in oven for 10 minutes each side.

Find a jar big enough to put them in - this one is from Ikea and is the perfect size, even if you do have to break a couple to get them all in snugly...

...display on kitchen windowsill as a reminder that they are a fat-free treat to have daily!

Friday 26 June 2009

Summer cushion...

When I was sitting out in the garden yesterday, I realised that I hadn't posted about a crochet project that I'd finished some time ago. Those with eagle eyes may have spotted it on the sunbed next to me.

It was totally inspired by Lucy's Granny's Flower Patch over at Attic 24. I needed just one more cushion to fit my garden furniture so it was the perfect project. I started it way back at the beginning of spring and it was a great project to pick up and put down as each piece took no time at all to make.

I used Rowan's handknit cotton, which has the most amazing colour palette and a couple of Debbie Bliss cotton dk to get some extra pinks in.

I also used an old jumper that I'd ruined in the wash as the back. It was the perfect colour. I might even get round to putting some buttons on to fasten it one day...

Thursday 25 June 2009

From where I sit...

These piles of red and blue quilt squares are on my kitchen table but the day is so gorgeous I need to be outside. I'm sat on one of my wooden sun beds under my raffia umbrella, which rustles in the breeze and makes me feel like I'm on holiday.

On the table next to me are the things necessary for me to stay put here for some time. It's the last of the biscotti, so maybe later I'll make some more.

For some reason today I have a really ache-y leg - I wonder if sitting with it raised up on some cushions is the best thing or should I walk and see if that helps. I think I'll go with the former. And so I sit here with my laptop and my crochet and look around me. Really look around me. I think how nicely my crocs go with the geraniums!

My pergola now looks purposeful now that the grape vines are clambering up it. There is evidence of more than one bunch of grapes to come this year.

Panning round I think that I really ought to clear up my greenhouse. It's been horribly neglected for the past year and has become a bit of a dumping ground. And look at all those empty pots - usually they are filled with tomato plants. Can you see them all lined up against the wall? I need to find my growing mojo again!

Pippin is enjoying sunbathing on the back step too... See how the baby orangutang has grown?

Every now and then the breeze sends me the most gorgeous scent of this old-fashioned pink over to my right. It reminds me of when I was young and visiting my great-nan, who had a garden full of them. Can you see it through the arm of the chair? I'm taking all these photos from my seat!

If I look up and over the rail above the pinks, the acid yellow of my robinia stands out vividly against the darker green of the other trees.

To my left I notice that my sweet peas are also in a race to the top of the wigwam. These are bought from the garden centre - I didn't even get round to sowing my own ones of these this year.

And look, up above them is blue sky with some wispy clouds.

The reason that I will spend my day out here today. Still going round and round...

Monday 22 June 2009

Sunday Recipe...

Somewhere along the line, there has been a decision made that 'we' - me and my two sisters - will do Sunday lunch on a rota. Funny, I wasn't there as part of the decision-making team, but while it's summer and we can be outside, I'm happy to be part of the plan. That means that every third week I have to cook for 15. Although with a friend of No2's plus an unexpected visit from my cousin, it ends up being 17! I find myself a bit twitchy with routines now. I don't like being tied down to stuff, particularly family stuff. I'm aware that I don't often write of my family here. There's a big gaping hole in my family so I find it hard to be part of the family scene now.

Yesterday, it was my turn...again. Fathers Day, as it happens. My Mum insists on taking a photo of my Dad surrounded by his three daughters. He looks nonplussed and we look amused.

I spend the morning preparing food. I like doing that bit. Nothing particularly special, just BBQ-ed sausages and burgers, some salad stuff. Homemade pudding - apricot crumble, made with fresh apricots but with no almonds on top because my sister has a nut allergy, which is a shame because apricots and almonds are great together!

Everyone turns up and we eat our way through an outdoor feast. The children play football on the grass and there's a bit of a fight with No2 and one of his cousins! Beer and rosé wine are drunk merrily and my brother-in-law has me and my sisters in stitches at some very rude jokes, out of earshot of the children! And my Mum!

Before we know it it is teatime and so get stuck into a Victoria Sponge and some banana and cinnamon muffins (all part of the morning's work). Everyone leaves complaining of having eaten too much! I put the dishwasher on for the second time and crash on the sofa. No2 asks why I want to go to bed at 9.45pm - he doesn't get that entertaining is tiring but likes the fact that there has been a full house for the day.

The other crucial ingredients are balmy weather, pink geraniums giving the deck fabulous pools of colour, carefully picked music on the iPod dock and a bright pink tablecloth...apparently!

Friday 12 June 2009

Summer Tweed...

So, 8 skeins of Rowan's Summer Tweed have been bought.

Ready to make a round, textured cushion to go with my Katie Jump Rope quilt on my other garden sunbed. Same only different to my Urban Garden quilt and cushion!

It has been wound into balls - that really makes your arm ache!

I love just looking at them all snuggled in my basket ready to be used!

This yarn is lovely and slubby - it's made of silk and cotton, so has a real matte texture to it but still feels nice and summery.

My latest crochet book is this one by Erika Knight. It has some great patterns in and I love the hexagon blanket on the front. I'm dying to get started on a crochet blanket of some kind but can't decide on whether it should be a ripple, a Babette or a hex... Oh well, I'll peruse these options while going round and round...

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Henri Elephant...

In the next 3 months there are 3 baby boys being born. (I can't quite get my head round this idea of having to know what you're going to have!) Time to get busy then...

My bookshelf has been rifled through (I have been on orders to make something funky!) and yarn has been bought.

A few afternoons sitting in the sun later (where did that go?) and Henri Elephant is born, just in time for the first arrival which is due at the beginning of July.

The pattern is from this book and is really easy - just lots of double-crochet, apart from a miss one dc, ch 1, dc in next stitch which adds an interesting texture to his blanket.

I love all the little details, like the tassels on the blanket and the star. It's good to know how to crochet a star - I can feel all sort of other reasons to make them...

I've got until the end of August to make at least one more and another little something for the middle of September.

In the meantime, more yarn has been purchased and I'll give you a teeny glimpse then spill the beans in my next post...

Monday 8 June 2009

Full bloom...

I love the drama of peonies. I cannot grow them but when they are in season I have them indoors.

From such tightly packed buds...

...comes an explosion of ruffled pink petals. Too many to count and irresistible to touch - I just have to trail the back of my fingers across them.

Friday 5 June 2009

Teenage tendencies...

Every now and then I get them... You know, like when you keep playing the same song over and over.

Like this one:

Paolo Nutini - Candy

I love it! The album is great too...

Wednesday 3 June 2009

Classical v Modern...

I will whisper this to you: I visited the British Museum on Saturday for the first time.

Is it shameful considering I have lived in London my entire life?

The classical pediment above the entrance is familiar despite never having been there before.

Walking through the doors, my breath is taken away by the rotunda and glass ceiling of the Great Court.

The mix of classical and modern sit together perfectly.