Friday, 21 October 2016

Make, Bake, Sew, Grow

Hello! How are you? It's Friday night and I'm feeling good - tired (obviously, when am I not?) but content and looking forward to half term next week. Now seemed like a good time for an autumnal Make, Bake, Sew, Grow post, a little seasonal meandering through my home life. 

{ Make }

I've been nesting, making small changes around the house, adding cosiness and warmth. Lightweight throws have been swapped for blankets, cushions and pictures have been moved around. I've been buying cyclamen and sunflowers, lighting candles in the evening. It's all turned very autumnal around here, very hygge.

I've started making plans for Christmas. (I know, some of you have trouble with the smallest mention of Christmas before December, but I have crafting to do and I need to get it done in plenty of time, so bear with me.) I have lots of ideas for gifts. I'm thinking bed socks, in really luxurious yarn, and Bella and Angus have both requested crocheted animals or birds, like the ones I made last year.

Other crafting plans include my shiny new loom and a bag full of roving yarn in different colours. 

I plan to make a wall hanging for the dining room. That big grey wall needs warming up and I feel like it needs fabric or yarn up there, or maybe something wooden. I've been pinning woven wall hangings and just need to do a bit more research into how to weave (that would be a good start, right?) It seems like a great way to use up yarn scraps and I'm already thinking about the kinds of colours I want to weave with.

{ Bake }

I made a "clean out the fridge" omelette with some soggy cherry tomatoes, spinach and a little chorizo. No potatoes so not quite a tortilla or Spanish omelette, but delicious.

My mum gave me some mixture for a friendship cake.

Similar to sourdough, you have a "starter" which you feed and stir until you're ready to split the mixture, passing some on to friends and keeping some to bake yourself. It's like a light fruit cake and you can put pretty much whatever you want inside, but I like mine with a lot of cherries. 

It keeps beautifully and is very moist, almost sticky. It has a wonderful malty, slightly caramelised flavour. 

I wanted to do something with some plums that were sitting in the fruit bowl, uneaten. I stewed them with cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar and a little water until they started to break down. The smell was divine, better than any scented candle.

I was aiming for something that was half way between a compote and stewed fruit. Not quite fully broken down and mushy, with the fruit still holding a little of it's shape.

I've kept it in a kilner jar in the fridge all week, spooning it on top of porridge and yogurt. I think I like plums cooked better than raw. 

 { Sew }

Most crafting activity has revolved around Angus's blanket and I have just updated the post I wrote about it a few weeks ago, giving details about the yarn and colours I'm using, for those who asked.  And when I'm not crocheting that, I've been making Christmas stockings.

Possibly the best use for leftover scraps of yarn I've come across, the pattern is by Sandra from Cherry Heart and it's really fun to do. I'm even darning in the ends. I'll take proper photos of them soon. 

Work on the sampler (from here) goes very slowly. I've hardly touched it since our holiday and I must pick it up again. Just seeing this picture makes me want to get going on it straight away.

{ Grow }

The garden is slowing down and looking overgrown, but there are still burst of colour here and there. 

The sedum has been gloriously bright, fading from from a deep pink to a dusty brown-purple.

A few geraniums continue to bloom in pots on the front door step. I keep thinking I should replace them with something more autumnal, perhaps a couple of pumpkins, but I like being greeted by the pop of bright pink. They can stay a while longer. 

I'm starting to think about the tidying up and cutting back ready for the winter, planting some bulbs. 

Happy weekend lovelies. 

                                                      {Make } Something for our home, or for me.

{ Bake } Something from the kitchen.

{ Sew } Something crafty.

{ Grow } Something in the garden.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

A Moment of Calm

The light is luminous at the moment. There are still enough hours of daylight in each day to keep everyone happy, but it's taking on that softer, more golden tone, and I'm conscious that the clocks go back in a couple of weeks. Our typical Sunday afternoon woodland walks have been either bathed in deep sunshine, making every colour look as heavy and saturated as it can be, or lit by dramatic combinations of showers and rainbows, bright wet leaves against slate grey skies.

Sunsets and sunrises have been dramatic and colourful and I've been taking the time to stop and notice them. Every weekday morning I have the same routine. I get up, anywhere between six and six thirty, and go downstairs to make myself a cup of hot water and lemon. I drink it standing up in the kitchen, leaning against the worktop, while I look at my phone. I deliberately leave it downstairs every night and never take it to bed with me - it's about the only good smart phone habit I have - so each morning I have a little catch up with Facebook, Instagram, emails before everyone and everything else needs my attention. John has left for work by this point and the children are still asleep, so the house is completely silent. It's my little moment of calm and I value it very highly. Lately, I have been treated to the most breathtaking sunrises from our north-east facing kitchen window and I like to linger and look at them while I wake up. But every day it's getting a little darker and next week, I'll miss those later sunrises. I'll be upstairs, rushing around, getting dressed, hustling the children, making beds. Then when I'm back in the kitchen, I won't be staring out of the window daydreaming, I'll be emptying the dishwasher, making breakfast, supervising the brushing of teeth.

So I've been savouring these morning displays of light and colour in the sky as I drink my drink and gather my thoughts. They set me up for the day. 

Do you do something similar? Do you have your own small moment of peace or solitude at some point during the day? I'd love to know. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

An Autumn Garland

In our old house I used to make garlands for our mantel all the time. They were invariably quick and easy; paper, card, felt balls, pine cones, feathers, crochet - I used to have a lot of fun creating seasonal arrangements on that mantel. Our fireplace was cream marble and always seemed cold to me, as though it needed lots of decorating and warming up, but at least the neutral colour of the mantel and wall behind it always made a good backdrop for a display. (You can see lots of photos of our old fireplace by clicking on the "mantel" label on the right hand side.)

I don't know why but I stopped doing that with our new mantel in this house. Partly it's the length of that huge slab of oak, and partly it's the funny lopsided chimney breast, but I still don't feel like I've really sussed out how to dress or style our current mantelpiece. A few things dotted there look lost, so I tend to go for the more is more approach, and just fill the space. I don't know if that really works either. 

But I felt it was time for a bit of seasonal prettification of the fireplace and an autumn garland was in order. And while I was making it I remembered how much fun there is to be had in once of these quick (and easy) craft projects. So much of what I make now takes weeks at least, usually months - sometimes a few years! - so it was fun to have made something in a couple of hours.  

I gathered together all my oddments of felt and chose my colours. I had a mixture of the acrylic stuff you buy in places like Hobbycraft combined with off cuts of pure wool felt. The wool felt is immeasurably nicer in colour, tone and quality, and has a slight stiffness to it which makes for a good shape on the garland, but I just made the best with what I had. Then I sketched some leaf shapes and cut them out on scraps of paper. 

Pinning the paper templates to the felt, I drew round them in fading ink pen then cut them out.

I threaded a needle with two plies of brown embroidery thread and stitched through the stalk of each leaf. 

Then hang in your chosen spot (mantel, mirror, dresser, shelf, banister....) and admire. A while ago I tapped a couple of small picture hooks into either end of the piece of oak above our stove and I use this to secure anything I hang there. 

Happy autumn crafting!

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Horses on the beach

The beach felt huge today, ten times as big as usual. Our coastline is crowded around here; estuaries meet channels and flow into The Solent, the beaches are short and shingled at high tide. Look west and you see the high rise buildings in Portsmouth, look south and you see the hills of the Isle of Wight, and the horizon is always full with container ships, passengers ferries, Naval vessels. It's a busy stretch of water. 

But today, the tide was as far out as it could be, it was all sand and sky and the most perfect clouds. The air was warm with just the barest breath of wind, the water clear and quiet. The beach felt full with people, dogs and horses, but there was plenty of space to go around. I enjoyed watching the horses.  Horse riding is not something I'm keen on but I could see how freeing it must feel, riding by the sea. There was some kind of convention of labrador owners, about twenty of them, gathered together chatting. Dogs are allowed off their leashes on the beach from October first, so those labradors were all having a great old time, lolloping around, running in and out of the sea. We had our usual conversation about getting a dog - what kind, would it work for us as a family - the same conversation we have at least once a week. 

The clouds were building up as we left and the sky whitening. We went home for a lunch of soup and I spent the afternoon ironing and watching the Great British Bake Off with Bella (she's a great companion to watch this with, full of opinions and questions) while John cooked roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings. 

A pretty good day.