happy dancing with a new cushion cover

I am, as the title says, having a happy dance with a new cushion cover. Not for me, but made as a gift for one of my husband’s work colleagues . . . and I’m so pleased with how it turned out, I almost don’t want to give it away lol.

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This is a zoom of the gorgeous fabrics.

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And a photo of the whole thing.  I made a 12” block and then added 2” bands.    Not only did piecing go smoothly, but quilting and assembly all went really well too.  I did some echo quilting, just on the inside of the print fabric.

Back is made with heavier-weight fabric in cream.  Now that I can do neat button holes, I find this method of fastening to be the easiest.  3 dark navy buttons, to keep thing simple.

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I like this block so much, I think I’m going to make it up again, in different fabrics, to make a few new cushion covers for our living room.

For anyone who wants to try it, this block is called GOLDEN GATE.  Mine doesn’t look exactly the same as the pattern because I (deliberately) inverted rows 1 and 3.

pear parfait

We had guests for lunch on Saturday, and I wanted to make up something fruity & creamy for dessert, without having to go overboard on hours spent in the kitchen.  I decided to adapt the “Danish Parfait” recipe in my Kenwood Chef recipe book, substituting pears for apples.

I didn’t worry too much about weighing out my ingredients, but simply made a rough guess, bearing in mind I was making a dessert for four people.  Ingredients are very basic

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I used 4 Conference pears, 4 slices of bread, a large knob of butter, 150ml of whipping cream, about 60g of brown sugar, 2 tiny squares of milk chocolate and a teaspoon of white sugar.

First, I peeled and diced pears, and put them in a saucepan to stew very gently.  While they were cooking, I turned my bread into breadcrumbs, mixed in the brown sugar, and “cooked” that very gently in a frying pan with the knob of butter until it was nicely browned and crispy.

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I waited for both sets of ingredients to cool.  Next, I drained off excess liquid from pears and mashed them up slightly with a fork . . . then made layers of fruit and breadcrumbs in a glass dish (rather like making a lasagne).

Then it was simply a question of whipping up the cream and adding one teaspoon of white sugar towards the end, to make a very subtle chantilly.  Plopped that on top and finished by grating some chocolate.

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Into the fridge for a couple of hours . . . and then dished up for dessert ^^  This is something that needs to prepared only a few hours before serving, to keep the crispiness in the breadcrumbs. If you make it the night before, it’s still nice, but breadcrumbs go a little soggy from the fruit. 

As mentioned above, the original recipe called for apples, which I have tried before and was “okay”.  Pears were, to my taste, much better . . . next time I’m going to try it with bananas!

SAL update – picking up a UFO

Hello folks!  It’s time to share 3-weekly update photos of our cross stitch SAL . . . a SAL in which I stitch along with a group of very international ladies, and we keep each other motivated.

On the last update Avis and I proudly shared a happy dance, as we finished “Kokeshi Friends” by Joan Elliott.  We then ummed and ahhed a little about what to tackle next.  I have to say that, since we began SAL-ing together, we have, thus far, always been working on the same project. However, for the next few months, we will be working on something different.

The main reason – I had a UFO in my stash and felt the SAL slot would be ideal to motivate me to get it finished.  So . . . for the next few months, this is what I’ll be working on.

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Another Joan Elliott design ^^  I started this way back in 2013, and it sadly got put away during the house-moving and became a UFO.  This is what it looked like when I pulled it out of the drawer

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And, this is what it looks like now

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It’s a large project, so progress doesn’t appear to be much, but I’ve been concentrating on the blues for Maiden’s dress, and also stitching the unicorn’s third leg.

Don’t forget to do some blog-hopping and see what other SAL members are up to.  Avis has started something new . . . and other ladies are making good progress on their diverse projects: Kate, Carole, Wendy, Lucyann, Jess, Gun, Sue and Constanze.

Next update on 12th June.

putting my feet up

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Yep, I’ve been putting my feet up, out in the garden ^^  We went shopping today for a few bits, and I found something on special offer that I’ve been wanting since last summer . . . a not too expensive recliner deckchair. 

I was thrilled to bits to see that the ones on special offer were PURPLE . . . and the model is called “Dora” which made me laugh.  For 20€ the recliner, I just had to have one . . . well actually two.

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They’re very comfortable, and you just push gently on the arms to make the thing tip back gently, so your feet are up. 

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At the moment, they are placed in a strategic position from where I can throw Blackjack’s toy for him, which he fetches, so I can throw it again.  How lazy, eh?  watching Blackjack run around, while I “recline” with my feet up.  This is the good life!

Abby immediately decided that one of the recliners is especially for her (although I did buy it, thinking my husband might enjoy a rest from gardening)

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But no, Abby reckons it’s perfect

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I have also done some crafting of late, but can’t show much for now. What I can show is this

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A very quick stitched card, which I charted,  for eldest son who has recently moved into his own flat.  Any “Friends” fans will understand the “got the keys” quote . . . and I just happened to have some tiny key embellishments which were perfect.

spinach, bacon & egg gratin

Those people who know me well, know that I’m neither a great fan of cooking nor a brilliant cook. I do like eating, and am lucky enough to have a husband who really enjoys slicing & dicing and creating succulent dishes.

Occasionally (ever so occasionally) though, I am inspired to follow a recipe and try something new.  And today was one of those days. The reason

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Fresh garden-grown spinach ^^  This is a 40cm (or 16”) diameter washing up bowl and I did the first spinach harvest. These greens always seem to shrink down so much during cooking, I thought, with this bowlful, that I’d picked heaps . . . as it turned out, I had picked just enough to make a tasty lunch for 2 people.

Anyway, I googled “spinach & eggs” since those two ingredients are something we have for free and found a couple of quick and easy recipe for spinach, bacon & egg gratin which I followed, more or less but without following quantities.

Instructions were simple.  Heat oven to 200°C.  During that time, chop up some garlic and fry gently in some butter, adding spinach leaves and seasoning (salt & pepper).  Stir gently and cook until spinach leaves have cooked down and turned dark green.   Spread that  to cover the bottom of an oven dish, and then fry up some diced bacon (I only used 4 slices).  Scatter bacon bits over spinach and dollop a teaspoon of thick cream on top, spreading it over gently.  Break two eggs and plop on top (as if you were just putting them in a frying pan).  Grate some cheese over the top.  I used some Cantal. spinach01

And preparation is done!  It took all of ten minutes.  Only washing up: one frying pan, one garlic crusher and one cheese grater ^^ Pop the dish in the oven for 10 minutes. It needs to cook just long enough for the egg white to be cooked, but the yolk needs to be still runny.

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Then serve (and season again to taste)

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It was delicious.  The only thing I would do differently next time is to grate cheese first and add eggs last.  Once the cheese started melting over the eggs, it was difficult to judge how well-cooked they were.

“hope”–Dimensions happy dance

Despite the bright sunshine and gorgeous blue skies, I’m already getting ready for Christmas. 

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Here is “hope” . . . a plastic canvas kit by Dimensions.  It’s the third one, in a set of 6, that I’ve stitched so far this year.

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As I think I already mentioned, I’m waiting to complete all six before I get out the felt, fabric glue and ribbons to do the official finishing, but that isn’t stopping me from having a modest happy jig today in the sunshine.

surprise mail

I found some more surprise mail in my letter box . . .

A big thank you to Flo, who always thinks of me during her wanderings, and regularly sends me bookmarks for my collection

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and thank you to Dame Sauterelle

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who also sent some bookmarks and a lovely embroidered owl card with wibbly wobbly eyes ^^

Oh and I forgot to say a public thank you to my daughter, Lindashee who sent me a little parcel a while back

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with a really cute card to say how proud she was of my recent sewing efforts ^^ Awwww Rire