holly & ivy happy dance

A totally unseasonal happy dance for August, with another little decoration stitched.

ornament

This is “Holly & Ivy”, kit ref 70 08888 by Dimensions.  One in their plastic canvas range and a nice kind of project to have on the go.  I’m well pleased, as I now have four complete

ornament x4

Therefore just managing to keep within schedule for the challenge I set myself, of stitching 6 Christmas designs this year. 

F2F–Miss August

Month three, of the F2F swap, organised by Kate and Sue.  The lucky lady receiving blocks for August is Sue herself.  Her colour choice is orange and yellow on black, and her colour inspiration photo

Sue

And here are the blocks I made with these colours in mind.  First block is called Indiana Puzzle.

August 01

For the second block I simply did a chess board effect

August 02

And, for the third block, I made a Quatrefois block.

August 03

The print, in last photo, is a Kaffe Fasset which I bought especially for Sue’s blocks.  I love it ^^  For some of the other fabrics, I delved into my stash and used up some orange and yellow charm squares I’d been hoarding.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I don’t often sew using black fabric, and I have to say it looks even better in real life and really makes the bright colours pop.

You can see other participants blocks if you hop over the F2F2 gallery which Kate is keeping up to date, to show case our sewing.

more beans

Hubbie and I have been busy harvesting again, and busy in the kitchen.

Beans, both green and butter, are growing faster than we’re able to eat them and, while I’ve already gone for the easy method of freezing about 5 kilos, I’m running out of freezer space already.  Other alternative, but requires a lot more work – bottling (or in this instance jarring).

For this, we needed jars (of course) and a large pan to sterilise the beans in jars.  Funnily enough, previous owners had left an old one in the garage, which we discovered while doing a clear out the other day.

what we found 02

I decided against trying to use this a) because it’s too high to fit on our hot plates which have an overhead hob . . . and b) because I didn’t fancy the idea of having to supervise sterlising and make sure the pot didn’t boil dry for the duration.  So . . . we splashed out and bought ourselves a super dooper electric one.   It’s what is gleaming because of the flash in second photo

IMGP1734

Anyway . . . 2 hours on hands and knees the other day to pick two large bowls of beans (which I didn’t weigh, but approx 5 kilos).  Another 2 hours to top & tail and then blanche.  The sterilising of jars, trying to arrange beans prettily, and then another 2 hours of sterilising beans in jars . . . and we had 9 jars (4 of green beans and 5 of butter beans).

Of course, we had to keep busy while the electric sterliser was doing its thing . . . and hubbie made another 10 jars of tomato “coulis”, which only needed 30 minutes in the sterilser. 

sterilising

Then  . . . only 4 days later, what did I pick?

more beans

Lol, yup another 3.5 kilos of beans.  These have been distributed amongst neighbours, keeping only a kilo for ourselves . . . by early next week, I’m confident I’ll have another bumper crop to pick and will do some more sterilising. 

It’s a lot of work, but fun, making our own “canned” food . . . very satisfying to see jars gradually build up on the shelves in our larder . . . but one mega cooking day per week is enough for me!

more stripes

The other day I showed you a cushion cover made with a lovely bright striped fabric . . .

out on limb cushion 05

Well . . . I had plenty left after my first sewing session, so I scouted around for some more zany fabrics and an excuse to patchwork.

Found some more “vignettes” in my drawer

stripes a

all very bright and great for a child’s quilt . . . so I trimmed up my squares and then set to making blocks.

stripes b

As bad luck would have it, I soon realised I wasn’t going to have enough stripes to make 9 identical blocks (although if I hadn’t made the cushion cover first, I would have) . . . so totally unphased, I just added another fabric

stripes 01

And for the moment I have a quilt top that looks like this

stripes 02

I won’t be quilting or binding just yet.  This has been made with no particular person in mind, so I’m not in a hurry to finish it off.  I will, however, be keeping that solid yellow fabric to one side since that will be my binding.

And while on a roll . . . and before putting scraps away . . .

stripes scraps 03

A 12” scrappy block to go in the drawer ^^ 

SAL update–Unicorn #5

Time to show you the latest progress on “Unicorn & Maiden” by Joan Elliott

Last time things looked like this

SAL 24 07

And now things look like this

SAL 14 08

As you can see, I am still working on the Maiden.  She now has boobs and arms ^^  I also added some metallic detail to the bottom of her gown

SAL 14 08 zoom

I’m now going to do some blog hopping and see what other SAL members have been up to. 

Avis, Gun, Carole, Wendy, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina, SusanP and Kathy.

Next update on 4th September. 

“Out on a Limb” happy dancing

I’ve been having an extremely colourful happy dance with my latest cross stitch finish . . .

out on limb cushion 05

Colourful being the operative word lol.  I bought this bright stripey fabric on the internet a short while back – really cheap, because it was lots of small pieces.  I wasn’t really sure why I bought it, but when I finished this design by Imaginating, it just called to me.

out on limb cushion 04

The reason – the zany stripes really blend in well with the sofa cover in my sewing room.  A zoom on the cross stitch

out on limb cushion 07

I did some “recycling” when making the cushion cover . . . zigzagged together a few smaller pieces of wadding . . . used an old bed sheet as my backing fabric for quilted part . . . and I delved into the stash of wierd and wonderful fabrics I inherited from MIL for the cushion back

out on a limb cushion 03

out on a limb cushion 06

It’s not cotton and I have no idea what fabric it is, but it has lots of really fine pin stripes that I’ve got going horizontally.   Buttons aren’t all identical, but they are the same size lol.

vitamins galore

Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while, will know that 18 months ago, we moved to our new home in the (French) countryside and hubbie began doing what he’d always dreamed of doing . . . cultivating a proper vegetable patch. 

Last summer was the first year for fresh veggies & fruit . . . with only a small area planted.  This year, hubbie more than doubled the surface of soil that he dug and turned over (with the help of a rotovator) . . . and drew himself a little plan for crop sowing.

Earlier this season we’ve already enjoyed fresh beetroot, spinach, courgettes,  brocoli and strawberries aplenty.  As summer progresses, harvesting has become a daily task, and not only are we enjoying produce fresh but we’ve also begun making preserves and freezing the excess.

manger bio03

The first tomatoes are ripe for the picking.  We’ve enjoyed fresh & raw in salads . . . today we were in the kitchen following recipes to enable us to store some of the harvest.  We planted mainly “Roma” and “Ondine”

manger bio04

Here are some of the “Roma” tomatoes both bottled and as “coulis”. 

manger bio02

We also have some tiny, pretty, yellow cocktail tomatoes as well as the larger red varieties.

manger bio01

Beans this year aren’t just green . . . we also planted “butter” beans which are actually a very pretty yellow in real life.  I’ve been freezing both sorts but also cooking and eating as we harvest.

manger bio 05

Not sure if these big green things are marrow/squash, or what . . . and I’m not even sure how I’m supposed to prepare them . . . google is my friend, I’ll find out later.  What I do know is, dark green is the right colour lol.  They’re definitely not pumpkins.

rattes 16 07

Oh, and something that was delicious and we’ll plant more of next year . . . new potatos.  The “ratte” variety.  We planted about 20 seed potatos, and harvested around 8 kilos in total, over several weeks.  Sadly, they’ve all been eaten now but for 2017 we’ll double the potato patch.

It’s very rewarding to be able to harvest and eat our own fresh produce. We know exactly how it was grown (no pesticides) and we’re enjoying the entire process – from planting to eating.