Monday, 31 January 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt 2011 – January …

Last year, I gave a really good go at project365, but I do have to admit that there were quite a few days when I would be snapping indiscriminately at anything late in the evening just to get that days’ photo taken.

This year I am slowing things down a little and going for this wonderful Photo Scavenger Hunt.  Twelve photos a month seems much more manageable and it has been fun looking for the subjects.  I also made the decision to use the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone for this series of photos as I don’t go anywhere without my phone and therefore if I saw any one of the subjects on my travels, I could photograph it immediately.  I also really like the continuity that this style of photo brings to the set.

So here are my offerings:

:: a goldfish ::

possibly not the kind of goldfish expected to be ticked off, but a cute card spotted in Paperchase!


January - a goldfish


:: a library ::


January - library


:: a reflective surface (not a mirror) ::

how about the kettle, as I wait for my morning coffee?


January - reflection


:: a tombstone over 100 years old ::


January - tombstone


:: an abandoned building ::


January - an abandoned building


:: bubbles ::

from the kitchen tap


January - bubbles


:: nature ::

doing what she does best


January - nature


:: playground equipment ::

left to its own devices in the cold winter months


January - playground equipment


:: something out of place ::

to me, litter is always out of place


January - something out of place


:: stained glass ::

hanging in my kitchen window


January - stained glass


:: yarn ::

no shortage of that round these parts!


January - yarn


:: your front door ::


January - my front door


Click on the link on the right sidebar to see who else is playing along or check out the Flickr group.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

January at Kew…

My monthly visit to Kew was cold!  Kristina, Nancy and myself drank steaming hot coffee before donning our hats, gloves and scarves to begin our walk.

The gardens seemed bare but full of promise.  The massive trees that had provided such an impact of autumn colour last year, were on a completely different scale to the delights of this winter day:

These were the tiniest cyclamen I have ever seen.


Kew robin and cyclamen


This little robin was incredibly tame and had I had any crumbs, he would have eaten from my hand.


Kew robin


He was hopping around, in and out of some tiny fungi, hugely interested in what we were doing!


Kew tiny fungi


I couldn’t resist getting my camera right down into the thick of things.


Kew, down with the fungi


Colour wise, these cornus were the stars of the show. 


Kew red cornus

I have some of the red ones in my front garden but I will definitely be on the look out for these amazing orangey/pink ones.


Kew orange cornus

Or perhaps some yellow or green ones.  They added a welcome burst of colour and texture to the gardens.


Kew yellow cornus


Kew red and green cornus (2)

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


…with a new quilting project…


A new quilt

…a photo gallery for a big blank wall in my living room, the result of my wonderful swap from last year…


Playing with pictures


…with my macro lens…


Hellebore bud


…it balances out all the other stuff.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Practice makes imperfect…

Driftwood warned me it would become addictive, this free-motion lark, and she is right.


Free motion words


My mind is buzzing with all the things I can make now with the addition of some sketchy words incorporated in them.  After a bit of time spent playing around with stitch length and speed, I am loving the way these words appear in their imperfect, sketchy way on my fabric.  Sometimes, they turn out just about right the first time and sometimes I have to go over them again to cover up any mistakes, but I think this adds to the charm of them.  It’s like doodling with my machine. 


Free motion words (2)


At the beginning of the year, I left Mouse a comment on her post about words and wishes asking her if she’d mind if I did the same, to which she said to go right ahead.  So I took her advice and quite literally sewed them into my life.




I’ve hung my mobile above my sewing machine, where it is twirling gently (hence the slightly blurry photos!) and hopefully releasing these things into my space.


My mobile


My mobile (2)


My mobile (3)

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Useful and beautiful…

As William Morris said:
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
Years ago, when I was living in what felt like a bit of a nightmare, I actually painted this quote onto my bathroom wall so that I could read it and hold on to what it meant at frequent intervals throughout the day. I had to live in a flat that was totally hideous but as a temporary measure, which made it slightly more bearable. The bathroom in particular freaked me out.  I say bathroom, it didn’t actually have a bath and if it wasn’t so grotty, today it would have been fashionably called a wet room. The very worst thing about it for me was that there was a black seat on the toilet and every time I looked in there, it reminded me of a public convenience! Oh, and sliding door! 
Moving on.
After my little sewing session last week, I decided that it was high time indeed to actually make something else from one of my many sewing books.  I’m terrible at getting carried away adding books to my Amazon wishlist.  Then on a whim, buying a couple now and then, only to have them sitting pretty on my bookshelf.
The reason I bought this book was for the wonderful pin cushion caddy.  This often happens. I buy a whole book for the sake of one project.

Pin cushion caddy close-up

I’m more than happy with the way it turned out and, going with the flow, I thought I would use more of my precious FMF.

Pin cushion caddy (2)

But, and there is a very big BUT.  It actually turned out to be a nightmare.  I happily started cutting out the pattern and then the fabrics, taking extra care at double-checking the instructions as I went.  It all seemed to going smoothly until I reached the crucial stage of actually bringing the whole thing together.

Pin cushion caddy nightmare!

Was it me or was there something seriously going wrong here?  The outer cushion seemed to be two whole segments too big for the inner tube.  Having unpicked it a couple of times and altered my seam allowances, I made the wise decision to calmly put it down and eat.
With a clearer head, I went in search of answers on the internet and eventually found myself here.  So, it wasn’t just me!  There was a very detailed response from Anna Maria herself.  In the end, I took out the two surplus segments and started making progress again.

Pin cushion caddy work mess!
I’m trying not to get too disheartened over this frustrating episode, but I find it extremely annoying that it almost the done thing to check out the errata on books these days before you actually start something.
Moan over because despite it all, I am loving this useful and beautiful little item to pieces.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


In one week they have enjoyed the warmth of the kitchen and grown up, up, up and flowered.


Paperwhites b&w

Paperwhites close-up b&w


I’ve been playing with my camera and I like them in black and white.  I love that you can see that frostiness that appears on their petals.

I also think they look much better when I’m using my flash. 


Paperwhites close-up

My kitchen always makes everything look yellow when I don’t use it.


Paperwhites without flash

Their scent is sometimes quite overpowering.  If you catch a bit of it in passing, it is delicate and fresh, but when you are sat at the table it becomes almost sickly.  Today I also brought my hyacinths out of the fridge, where I have been forcing them for the last eight weeks.  So much for a continual display… they all to compete with each other at the same time!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Sew happy…

Aside from cooking, I also found time for some sewing this weekend. This is my favourite sewing book and I have made several things from it since I got it last year. I decided it was high time I used some of my most precious fabric and what better use than where I can see it every day when I go to my sewing room?


Sewing machine cover FMF

Having struggled first thing on Saturday morning to find any energy, the afternoon flew by with the gentle whirr of my sewing machine and the satisfying pop of my eyelet maker.


Sewing machine cover eyelet

Now I have, what I consider, a very well-dressed sewing machine! With a cheery inside too.


Sewing machine cover


Sewing machine cover inside

Can you see that new bit of kit in there?


Darning foot

My confidence is growing and after waiting for ages for this book to come, I am determined to learn how to do free-motion stitching on the machine and this darning foot is, apparently, the key.


Free-motion heart

Using a bit of scrap from a cushion that I'd finished last week, I had a little play. It is amazingly addictive and I can't wait to incorporate it in one of the many lovely projects in the book.


Free-motion sewing

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Ugly duckling…

Abel and Cole introduced me to celeriac last year when it turned up in one of my vegetable boxes and it has now become one of my favourite winter vegetables.




It is probably the ugliest of vegetables but looks can be deceiving.  I have tried it mashed but wasn’t that keen and I have also grated it raw into a coleslaw, which was very nice.  But my favourite way to cook it is as a creamy, garlicky dauphinois.


Celeriac being sliced


Having peeled it, I use my mandolin to slice it finely.


Celeriac sliced


Then I layer it in a shallow dish, sprinkling it liberally with garlic and salt and pepper between the layers. 


Celeriac garlic


Lazily, I like to use this chopped garlic.


Celeriac into oven


Then I add the cream and milk mixture, dot with some butter and grated nutmeg and cook it slowly for 1 1/2 hours.  I use this Delia recipe, substituting the potato.


Celeriac dauphinoise


It is transformed into a true swan of a vegetable dish and it is just delicious with roast lamb.

For pudding, I made Petit Filoux’s mincemeat strudel with the leftover mincemeat from Christmas.  It too, was delicious.  Another Sunday passes with food being the main theme to the day.