Sunday, 27 September 2015

Autumn Cooking and Crafting

I drifted into Autumn in a bit of a daze, but soon got up to speed. On the textile front, I've been busy making another cushion for craft fairs, and an angel panel for a commission. I'm so enjoying working in this medium, I hope enough people like what I make or it's going to get a bit crowded round here!

   The folk birds seem quite popular, and I enjoy finding new ways to incorporate them into my cushions.

   The beautiful variegated threads are a delight to work with. As usual I'm using Perle Cotton no. 5

              Still using the green dyed blanket; I must do some more, I'm running out of this one.

         I don't always make buttons for the back, but I think the simple overlap works well.

        Meet Flora, commissioned by a lovely lady from Holt. She wanted a "non- Christmas angel" .

  I've enjoyed stitching these stylised flowers, first used on my Molly Dancing top hat, and cushions.

                 The request was for a slightly 'shabby chic' colour palette. I hope this fits the bill.

I've just done another Fakenham Makers Market. I didn't sell any cushions this time, but I did sell some pin cushions, a needle case and a little Japanese pouch. I also sold A QUILT! Yes, two about-to be Grandparents were deliberating over which one to buy for their expected grandchild, and they chose one of my folky sampler quilts. They were so excited, we had a long chat about how the images on the quilt would be enjoyed by the baby, and they even showed me a photograph of the ultrasound!

Aside from stitching I've been busy in the kitchen. My header photo shows just some of the wonderful fresh produce I picked up from the veg man on what remains of the lamentably reduced Kings Lynn market, and the fruits of our son's apple trees. You can also see a demijohn half-filled with damsons from the market, blackberries from the lane, sugar and……. GIN! I'm shaking it every day at the moment.

I'm entranced by Greek and Turkish dishes at the moment. I made Baba Ghanoush (roast aubergine puree) , roast tomato and pepper dip, and stuffed peppers. I served it with flatbreads and a small salad.

  My Heath-Robinson method of jelly-straining! Jim is putting me a hook up somewhere a bit better.

Apple - Chilli Jelly, made from our Mike's apples, and chillis from our greenhouse. I've never made this before, and it tastes pretty good!

I also made 6lb of apple and damson chutney on Friday. It was an interesting experiment. Certainly not as pungently smelly as I'd expected it to be. But it was a bit of a faff to be honest, and to tell you the truth, we don't eat a lot of chutney! However, it was fun, and I thank Sue of The Quince Tree blog for pointing me in the right direction and firing me up. I don't have a photo of the chutney at the moment, but I'll try and remember when we open the first jar.

Quite a few blogs are talking about jamming and bottling at the moment. It's such a comforting thing to do - if you like being your kitchen, of course. We don't NEED to continue making home preserves, but it's so satisfying looking at the gleaming jars on the shelf, and also knowing exactly what went into them. Our next door neighbour has kindly allowed us to go in and raid his apple and pear trees, so I shall be thinking up some more ideas to make use of the bounty. I hope you are enjoying the turn of the season, wherever you are.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Autumn Look Back

What does Autumn mean to you? Cooler weather? The end of summer? Nights drawing in? Downhill all the way? Personally, I've always enjoyed Autumn. Possibly because September is my birthday month, but mainly because I've always seen it as a New Beginning. This stems from schooldays, of course, but decades later, that feeling lingers on. I look forward to a change in my cooking, what I'm wearing, and sometimes even an improvement in television programmes! I don't focus on the coming bad weather, or being clogged up to the knees by fallen leaves in our garden. Our cottage, dark even on the brightest summer day, comes into its own when the weather is grey, enfolding us with its thick walls;  the low, beamed ceilings and small windows keeping the warmth in. Autumn is a good time to pause and look back at the year so far, and I've been doing this a lot recently.

Remember in early spring, I said I felt an uncomfortable restlessness? That feeling manifested itself as a very strong desire to move further east of the county, to a lovely market town called Fakenham. I'm not going into the whys and wherefores, suffice it to say, that after a good deal of effort on my part, we shall NOT be moving. I'm very sad about it, but there we are, not up for discussion on here because to be honest a) it still upsets me and b) I am totally bored going over and over the reasons why and why not. Instead, we have an action plan for changing a few things round here, both in the cottage and in our lives. Sometimes out of sadness comes forth sweetness. I think that's a quote from the bible but no idea where.

So that, in a nutshell is why there have been few posts this year. Too much going on, and then, finally, too upset to post. Even my beloved Burwell Bash didn't happen for me this year, though we did drive over there for the Friday afternoon concert. It was a good move, and re-connected me with my "Other Family", in fact I was hugged to death, I felt so happy to have been remembered by everyone.

The moment when Tola Custy, fiddle tutor and internationally renowned fiddle player, noticed me in the audience. Also seen are my lovely friends Debs, Jayne, Thelma, and Jude, with Nicky at the back with a tree growing out of his head!

I have done a couple of craft fairs this summer, at the Fakenham Makers Market and also the second summer at Back to the Garden in Letheringsett where the sun shone both days, I sold a bit, got a commission, and interest shown by the owner of an interior design shop in Kensington. (I didn't follow this one up, as I don't want to change what I do, nor be burdened by deadlines, but it was very flattering, nonetheless.)

The hare cushion could have sold several times over! I must make another one of these, they seem popular.

I did the June Fakenham Makers Market as I told you in my last post; in August I didn't have a stand but had promised to provide some "musical wallpaper" with my two friends Marj and Rob. We played for two hours and enjoyed ourselves. Apparently we went down well with the punters and stall holders.  I'm busy preparing more cushions for this month's craft fair, at the moment.

Earlier this month I attended a great mosaic workshop with the lovely Carolyn Ash, who incidentally made one of the Go-Go Dragons exhibited around Norwich. I've always loved mosaics and am now busy collecting and smashing crockery to make my own. Here are some photos to give you an idea how we got on.

My effort, un-grouted. I could have placed the pieces closer together, but you learn as you go along.

My "Heart" mosaic, grouted and some glitter added to the spaces. I'm quite pleased with it.

Two small mosaics by the other students on the day. We had great fun!

                                One of Carolyn's mirror frames Oh! Look! Who's that??

A lady who was a student of Carolyn a couple of years ago, now makes her own brilliant mosaic art. Sue Welfare, a novelist, felt-maker, artist and mosaicist, lives in Norfolk and is also a regular on the craft fair circuit. I saw this wonderful piece on her stand at the Burnham Market Craft Fair a couple of weeks ago.

This is "Star-gazey Pie" and I love it to pieces. I have a very special place in mind for this which I'll tell you about in another post. I just love the amount of detail Sue has managed to suggest in this piece; the fresh sardines sticking their heads out of the pie-crust, sitting on the kitchen table next to a vase of flowers, in front of the kitchen fire-place. Absolutely genius! I'm off this week to see more of Sue and Carolyn's work at Mosaic Madness, an exhibition being held until the 19th September at the Dragonfly Hall in Watton, Norfolk. Do go and see it, you Norfolk readers!

So there we are, finally got my act together and got this written. Profuse apologies to all my blogging friends - having distanced myself from my own blog I found myself unable to even look at yours let alone read and comment on them. I have a huge amount of catching up to do! Fingers crossed I won't be as slow getting the follow-up written! Happy Autumns, everyone!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


 A very big thank you to all of you who have contacted me via the comments after my last post, or by email, or Facebook. There has indeed been a long delay since my last post; life can be nothing more than a series of bumpy rides sometimes. However,  time to re-engage a little and try and produce something you might find remotely entertaining. Not really up to a lot of editorial, so a series of photos I think, is the order of the day.

My second Fakenham Makers Market. A slight rejig of my stand presentation, Jim made a cushion stand for me, I painted it various colours, you can just see here.

Lovely friend Yvonne Autie loaned me her hanging rail which made the quilts much tidier and easier to view. It worked! I sold a large double quilt!

Another Moonlit Hare cushion attracted much comment, but did not sell this time.

     A Lemon Meringue Ice Cream - a rousing success, many thanks to Jane-Ann for the recipe!

A young man called Luke Horncastle presented his first two-day Folk Festival - Folk in a Field, at West Acre, Norfolk on the sunniest weekend we've had (though there were a few showers). An excellent event, family friendly and great music. Here some dancing going on.

Our friends Julie and Rob with their wonderful baskets. Both are genuine Master Basket Makers, Julie also teaches workshops. The quality of their work is excellent. Jim has commissioned a traditional fishing creel from Julie.

I could NOT leave out a couple of shots of the brilliant toilet facilities! Better than your average festival, wouldn't you say?

     And finally, a great shot of Rob and Julie unable to resist taking time out to have a sneaky jive!

We enjoyed ourselves immensely, unfortunately my photos of the actual performers are rubbish so I can't include them here. Especially sad as many of them are our friends!

Well, that's it. I have been having a life away from Blogland, although to be honest it has been very low-key these last couple of months and possibly may be for a little time to come. I hope you have a lovely summer, my friends, all those festivals, gardening, and ice cream! See you soonish, I hope.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

May Bank Holiday

Unusually, this May Bank Holiday was mainly sunny, here in West Norfolk. Not always warm, though  Sunday was actually HOT! Monday was dull then we had heavy rain which lasted throughout the evening and night. Unfortunately when I took the garden photos it was just a bit overcast, so not the best shots, to be honest.

Some lovely Spring flowers - I always think our garden is at its best at this time of the year.

Yes, my little Square Foot (actually metre) Garden is coming along. About to be overtaken by a rogue foxglove, but I never mind where they self seed. The radish is steaming ahead and the spicy salad leaves. The parsley and chard are taking their time but I think that's normal. I've forgotten what else is in there, but I have written it all on a plan Jim made for me.

Here at the bottom of the garden is a planter Jim built with the help of a bare-footed Fraser, our youngest grandson, when they visited three years ago. I am growing more parsley, herbs and ….. I forget what else!  in here. You can just see my early new potatoes in their bags, also coming along nicely.

On the stitching front, this was my work table on Friday:

And here is the finished LOVE cushion :

And by yesterday I had designed and begun this one:

Here are some pieces I painted with chalk paint, as I began to tell you in my previous post. They are now waxed and finished. I'm on the hunt for other pieces to paint - it's a bit addictive!

I also did my cookery book holder, and the dining room mirror frame but I can't get a good enough angle to photograph it.

So there we are, I've been busier than I thought! More cushions to make for the June Fakenham Makers' Market, and another chair to paint; It should keep me out of mischief! Hope you are all enjoying some sunshine (though it is VERY blustery here today) and managing some creative moments of your own.

Monday, 20 April 2015


It's a beautiful Spring day as I sit here typing this post. I've just had a very quick scan of my regular favourite blogs and will be back to read properly when I've finished this - it seems as though many of you are experiencing "challenges" at the moment, so well done you for managing even one post, let alone the several that I must catch up with. I'm late again, it scarcely seems worthwhile even mentioning it, as it happens so regularly these days.

However, some nice garden photos have galvanised me into action so here we are! I have actually sown my Square Foot Garden and can see the seedlings pushing through, also have a load of other seedlings in the greenhouse. I know this is very small beer to those gardeners among you, but to me it is a tremendous step forward, and I'm immensely proud of myself! No photos yet, though, as there isn't much to see.

I probably take the same photos every year, the garden is looking so fresh and pretty at the moment I can't resist.

This "Mystic Moonlit Hare" cushion was bought at the Fakenham Makers' Market last month by my lovely blogging friend Kathy Black, from Norwich, and having seen it on my face book page, someone has commissioned me to make a similar one for them.

Still got the detailing to stitch, and the two woollen disks at the right side are the hand-made buttons for the back. I'm also working on this one:

And completed this one last week :

Sorry not the best of photos. Here's the reverse, showing the hand-made buttons :

Also, in a burst of activity over the weekend I bought some chalk paint and wax and painted our kitchen stool. It is duck-egg blue, which is not the shade I'd wanted, looking for a soft, pale green, but I quite like it.

I bought the pale blue and a soft pink, and I have two dining room chairs I need to get my hands on - I've been gradually painting the four of them over .....erm....... two years!

I didn't do the craft fair this month, but I am about to apply to do another couple soon. Oh! And I can't finish without thanking my kind-hearted blogging friend Dc from frugal in norfolk blog, I know many of you follow her avidly. She has been to see me a couple of times now, and made her way, DH in tow, to bring me a bag full of lino boards and lino cutting tools, having had the conversation with me about lino-prints many months ago - you'll have to search back for those posts! Thanks so much Dc- whose name I shall never now forget but which I wouldn't dream of publicising here!

So a very Happy Spring to you all, and those of you who need it, I hope you receive kindness and support in your lives.