Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Photo scavenger hunt : March 2015

Joining in once again with the Scavenger Hunt organised by Jill at Made with Love. March was a pretty quiet month which is why I haven't been around much. I did get to spend a lovely day in Southport with my friend where I took several of the photos for the hunt.

Circle : Lights on the pier at Southport. Just look at that blue sky!

Card : My Mother's Day card from Chickpea, with the tulips and Emma Bridgewater mug she bought me :-)

Window : Stained glass window in a Victorian shopping arcade.

Art : Hand print paintings.

Skyline : Southport with Marine Lake in the foreground.

A favourite word : Chocolate!

Movement : A young man skateboarding.

Bathroom : Ornaments on my bathroom window sill.

Car : Not a great picture but it was the most interesting car I saw all month - an Austin Morris Traveller.

Plate : This willow pattern plate was on the wall of the Ladies in a cafe!

Something you made : Those Fifteens.

Whatever you want : Spring blossom.

Hope you enjoyed my entry. Why not hop over to the Scavenger Hunt site to see the other entries and for the list for April?

Next time I have my latest journal quilt to show you. xx

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Fifteens for St Patrick

Happy St Patrick's Day! All over the world, people of Irish descent will be celebrating their patron saint. I'm not aware of any Irish blood in either me or my friends but, on Saturday night, we celebrated anyway!

Chickpea and I both wore green and a simple shamrock brooch I'd made out of felt. We listened to Irish drinking songs, watched The Yank (funny for all the wrong reasons) and ate traditional Irish food, like potato cakes.

My contribution to the food was a batch of Fifteens. I first tried these biscuit-like goodies at my quilt group's Christmas party and thought they were delicious. The name Fifteens comes from the fact that there are 15 of most of the ingredients.They're a traditional treat in Northern Ireland and couldn't be simpler to make. In fact you can  probably make them in 15 minutes! If you'd like to make a batch for your own St Patrick's celebrations, or just because, here's how.


15 large marshmallows, halved
15 digestive biscuits, crushed
15 glace cherries, halved
150ml condensed milk
75g desiccated coconut

Mix together the marshmallows, biscuits and cherries.

Gradually stir in the condensed milk until it starts to form a stiff dough.

Then the messy bit: use your hands to pull the ingredients together and then form the dough into a long sausage.

Spread a layer of the coconut on a clean surface and roll over the sausage, pressing lightly until it's well coated. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Cut into 15 slices!

Yummy! Very sweet so you probably won't want more than one and even better the next day.

I'll leave you with an Irish blessing:

May your troubles be less
And your blessings be more
And nothing but happiness
Come through your door.


Friday, 13 March 2015

Journal quilts: January and February

Hello all. It's finally the end of the week and my car passed it's MOT today - hurrah! Thank you so much for all the comments on my last post: it was interesting how many of you had also been bit by the colouring bug. I mentioned in the post that I'd been doing some quilting so that's what I have for you today.

For the last couple of years, my quilt group has set a challenge or project for all members to get involved in. Last year it was a mystery quilt and I failed miserably. I managed to do the first part of cutting up my fabrics into long strips but got no further. Actually, I'm glad I was slow off the mark as everyone else said it was a complete pain to put together and advised me to make up my own mystery!

This year I'm hoping to do better. The challenge is to make a journal quilt each month depicting what that month means to you. Any technique can be used, with the only rule being that it can't be more than A4 size.

As I missed the January meeting, I have two quilts to show you this time.

January: Well, for those of you who've been reading my blog a while, you'll know it had to be Burns Night. as I've celebrated with my friends for the last 3 years (here, here and here). Haggis immediately came to mind and I had a very clear picture in my head that the little creatures are oval-shaped and tartan.

The face came about by accident rather than design. I wanted him to wear a sporran and, when I added the eyes, it looked very mouth-like. The Scottish thistle moved all around the quilt until I realised it made a perfect nose. The finishing touch was, of course, a few words from Robbie Burns himself.

February: Dark, grey and miserable came to mind but they weren't exactly inspirational for a design! No, funnily enough, to me February means Scarecrow Festival as we've been to one at Tatton Park for the last two years (here and here). We intended to go again this year but, for one reason and another, didn't make it.

The second element is a reminder of 2 surprise encounters with owls I had last month. The first was on my way to yoga class. The venue is the function room of a golf club which you reach along a single track road through fields. As I turned down the dark lane, an owl took off from a fence post and flew right past my windscreen into the trees - it was amazing!

Then, a week later, as I walked home one evening, I heard the hooting of a tawny owl on some spare land: the first time I've ever heard one in our village. Weirdly enough, I woke in the middle of the night on Monday and heard it hooting again!

The owl shape came from an illustration I found on the internet and I used it to create an outline. As I drew the face, I realised it was becoming a heart shape, so that's my nod to Valentine's Day.

I loved making these 2 little quilts and am really looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year brings for me to capture in fabric and thread. For now, I just need to figure out what to do for March. I've got lots of ideas but most of them don't quite match my skill level.

These are some of the January entries from my quilt group which met last week (the 2 on the right and the lilac one are from a different challenge). At one point, we were discussing our charity evening in May and the idea of having different demonstrations in each corner of the room. Before I knew what I was doing, I heard myself offering to do mug hugs again! Why didn't I keep quiet???? At least I already have the pattern and samples. It was also really lovely to see that some of the group brought their versions of my pattern to show me.

This evening I'm going to have a go at making a shamrock brooch. The friends who come to Burns Night are having an Irish night to celebrate St Patrick's Day (which is 17th March). We're all wearing green and I picked up an Irish drinking songs CD in a charity shop! I'm also making some Irish biscuits and will share the recipe next time if they work out ok.

Have a great weekend! xx

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Lately I've been...

...Crocheting. I've completed the main part of the blanket and have just started work on the border. Only 3 rows to go!

...Reading. I'd seen lots of reviews of this which was being billed as the new 'Gone Girl'. I don't know about that but I did find it a good page-turner.

...Baking. I made these chocolate, cherry and almond muffins yesterday to use up those half-finished packets of ingredients which linger at the back of the cupboard. The combination of flavours was good but I wish I'd stuck to my usual base recipe (which I used to make these).

...Colouring. I've just treated myself to this colouring book and a set of pencils. So soothing.

...Admiring. This miniature narcissus, Rip Van Winkle (brilliant name!), was a gift from Secret Santa and I love it!

...Planning. Yesterday I saw a man about a new fence. The picture says it all really.

...Walking. I had a quick walk through a small wood yesterday enjoying the warm sunshine. I actually went out with no coat on! It really did feel like spring is almost here.

The woods are still very bare but there are a few signs of new growth. I'm particularly excited about the wild garlic because I can't wait to make some of my pesto again.

So that's a taste of what I've been up to. Just so you don't think I'm a complete billy no-mates, I've also met up with friends but don't have any pictures! I've also been quilting and have a couple of things to show you next time.

Today, Chickpea and I were going to go to the pictures to see Still Alice. However, it turns out that even though we have several cinemas nearby, not a single one is showing it! Very frustrating. Instead we're probably going to a garden centre. Have a lovely day wherever you are. x