Tuesday, 29 June 2010

I Can't Believe I've Reached 100!!!

Yes, this is my 100th post and I can't believe I've made it when I struggled so much in the beginning! It took me a while to get into a routine that included blogging and to remember to take my camera around with me (still need to improve on this). But I'm determined to keep at it and maybe, one day, use it as a platform for doing a little selling of my stitchy items via etsy or Folksy. I'm loving the connections I'm making with all you lovely bloggers, at home and abroad, who have so much wonderful inspiration, advice, photos and glimpses into your worlds. I must also thank you all once again for your lovely support through following, reading and commenting here. I try to reply to every comment but sometimes there's no way to get in touch. Incidentally, thank you Marivel for your lovely comment on my last post. I have to say I AM ususally quite busy, as you say, but I can't take the credit for the lovely produce coming from our garden. That's all the work of my lovely OH!
Now onto this weekend's news. My 'to do' list, I'm afraid, didn't get finished. I got about half of it complete which included - Cleaning hairbrushes, changing guest bed, dusting/vacuuming our bedroom, finishing hand quilting block. What did not get done included - Cleaning make-up bag, washing curtains, machine quilted project and starting on revamp of shed furniture. Hopefully, I can do some of this in the week and finish it next weekend!
OH and I picked up our DD on Saturday on our way to Cardiff shopping. We made use of the Park and Ride facility which was really good value at £3 a car. It meant saving on fuel, parking charges, trying to find a parking space and traffic jams! Within an hour of arriving in the city we'd all bought what we went for and were wondering what to do next. We wandered around for another hour or so and then stopped for lunch followed by an ice-cream as we wandered a bit more. It's nice to wander once in a while with no particular place to go - something I don't do very often!
Why does it always seem to be 'the hottest day of the year so far' whenever I do the Race for Life? Luckily the route in Cwmbran is partly through trees which gave shade every so often, much to everyone's relief. I am the one in the white cap running with my friend Julie, in the white shirt next to me.

My OH came with us and kindly took the photos. Julie and I weren't together at the end - I have one leg weaker than the other due to a medical condition and am in danger of tripping up (only when exercising, not everyday activity) if I don't concentrate on lifting it properly. So at about half way I told Julie to carry on without me as I had to walk for a bit. Eventually, I finished in about 40 minutes. Once again there was a great atmosphere on the day and it was very moving reading the messages on runners backs about who they're running for.

Being vegetarian when the rest of the family are not usually means I end up as an afterthought where food is concerned. My meal planning consists of thinking what to make for the family and then deciding what to replace the meat with for myself, usually meaning adding a meat substitute like quorn. I'm trying to eat less quorn so last night decided to make a vegetarian dish for the whole family. I'd recently seen some recipes I fancied trying on Fuel for Body and Soul so I gave the Moroccan Filo Pie a go. I replaced the filo with puff pastry (couldn't get filo at the shop), used my own cooked green lentils out of the freezer, used sesame seeds instead of pinenuts and replaced the ras el hanout with other spices that I had.

I was pleased with the result (although DS and OH were looking for meat!) and had enough left to put 2 portions in the freezer.

While still in a cooking frame of mind I whipped up a batch of fruit and almond muffins because there was no cake left for sandwich boxes. They are definitely best eaten while still warm! :-)
Bye for now
Teresa x

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Produce (n) and Produce (v)

Here's some 'produce' from the garden which is starting to supply us very well now. Lettuce, beetroot radishes and strawberries. We've also had a few potatoes with lots more to come! The cherries in the dishes with the strawberries are from a tree at my OH's work place.

And here's what I've managed to 'produce' recently (although nothing is finished).-
Above and below are the 2 blocks that were missing when I put them all together at my club the other week. Once the block above is put together I'll have lots of quilting to do to get to a stage where I can start joining them up.

Finally, another little something I've started which was turning over in my mind for a while. The half-square triangles are cut-offs from making a previous block, that I kept to use instead of discarding (the cream ones are mine, the green ones were given to me by another quilter). As you can see, I've so far joined them in squares which measure 3" and will use the purple/flowery background to make squares to go between them. Then, I'll see what it looks like before deciding on the next stage.
I've written myself a list of jobs I need to get done this weekend. I did the same thing a few months ago and managed to do all except one thing on my list which I was pleased with. I haven't, however, included the fact that OH wants to go shopping in Cardiff today and I'm running/jogging the Race for Life on tomorrow so time will tell what gets done.
Bye for now
Teresa x

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

A Random Selection of Weekend Photos

A thrifted tunic bought for £3.50 and worn a couple of times over jeans.

Another longer tunic also £3.50 that I've worn over leggings as it's a bit longer. This one still had the shop tag hanging from it!
A double poly/cotton sheet (£3.25) that I am going to use to make curtains for my Shed.

DD came for the weekend and we saw the advertising she's had put on her van. Hopefully this will generate some more business. She's also going to have a stall at an animal rescue centre's open day in July and I am going to miss my monthly quilting group to go along and help her.
We popped to the village Sunday afternoon and I took DD and her boyfriend to the church to see this! It's a model (of the church) in the church made out of ICING, with rice paper windows!!!! It's up for auction during the Flower Festival in July but, lovely though it is, I can't really see that it would be suitable for anywhere else other than in the church.

And lastly, here's a picture of the view from inside the choir vestry. (I'm afraid it's a bit dark because I didn't turn on the lights in the church when we went in). The window you can see through the door is above the altar at the far end of the church. The window above the door is actually a reflection of the window behind where I'm standing and was an unexpected surprise feature that was produced when this glass screen was installed a few years ago.

Well, that's the end of the weekend round-up. Hopefully some stitchy progress of some kind next time.
Bye for now.
Teresa x

Thursday, 17 June 2010

How to Hard Boil the Perfect Egg!

Nothing cryptic here! That's exactly what this is about - hard boiling eggs!! I made some boiled eggs the other day for the picnic at the castle and it occurred to me that some people may not know the tips I've learnt over the last few years to make the result a bit nicer (mainly aesthetic). I have only 3 tips but they make all the difference. I'll apologise now if you've heard these already and I'm 'teaching my grandma to suck eggs'!! :-) And when/if you get to the end maybe you could leave me a cooking tip or two that you've picked up along the way, especially if it's about how to poach an egg because I've never found a foolproof way to do this!

I've heard all sorts of suggestions for preventing an egg cracking when you put it into the water - from adding vinegar to putting it in cold water to start - and nothing worked for me until I heard about putting a little hole in the shell. It needs to go in the rounded end of the egg where the air-sac is located. I do it by stabbing the egg deliberately but controlled and twisting the skewer to grind the hole without cracking the egg (sounds more complicated than it is but I don't know how else to explain it).

Here's a close-up of the hole. See, it doesn't need to be very big. I think the science behind this is that, as the egg cooks, the air-sac expands and the hole allows the air out of the egg instead of causing the egg to crack. You still need to be careful putting the egg into the boiling water.
I boiled the eggs for a full 10 minutes. As soon as the time is up, drain the hot water off and immediately cover the eggs with cold water, then drain and repeat a couple of times finally leaving the eggs to cool in more cold water. This process prevents the outside edge of the yolk from going grey.
Then it's time to peel the eggs. I tap the side of the egg on a chopping board (again be deliberate but contolled) to just break the shell. Next, using the palm of your hand, roll the egg back and forth and the shell will break up enough to peel it cleanly.

The finished result! You have to admit it looks more appetising than a greying uneven lump. Now don't forget to let me know if you have any useful tips to share!
Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 14 June 2010

What a Whirlwind Weekend!!!

Wow!!!! Another fantastically successful Music Festival is over for another year. My feet have hardly touched the ground all weekend!! Once again the weather was kind to us (except for some heavy showers Sunday afternoon that disrupted the Open Mic sessions). My DD and her boyfriend spent the weekend with us and my DS didn't have to work so we all spent some lovely time together.
On Friday we spent the evening listening to a rather good cover band at The Crown pub although we did have to go outside in order to speak to eachother (but that was OK because we could still hear the music).
On Saturday morning DD and I went for a long walk (6 or 7 miles) in the countryside (does anyone know what those cobwebby patches are in the hedges at the moment that seem to be killing the hedge?). After lunch DS joined us and we went up the castle to see an amateur group performing a Dragon story of how the red and white dragons fought each other before joining forces.
It was quite a spectacular from the costume perspective but the story part was bit sparce.
I don't suppose the children noticed with all the action going on and we don't really need an excuse to sit on the grass amongst the ancient ruins with fantastic views on a lovely sunny day!!

We had tickets in the evening for the performance of rock stars Geoff Downes and Friends. It was a fabulous, high-energy show that got us all up dancing and singing along. This was a particularly late night!!

Sunday morning I went to the Community Service in the school grounds where we (The Saturday Singers) sang 'Ride on Jesus, Ride' and 'As I Went Down to the River to Pray'. We went an hour early, to practice in the open air and get the sound right, and it went quite well with some favourable comments received afterwards! (sorry no photos of this)

Then was just time time rush home and pack up a picnic to take up to the Castle (again) to sit in the Fountain Court and listed to the Ebbw Vale Male Voice Choir and a young lad singing some wonderful solos. He was only 17 but had a lovely, rich, mature voice for his age. (The boots at the bottom left belong to my DS. He took the photo for me as he was sitting stretched out on the castle wall with a better postion for photo taking than me!).

That evening, after a flying visit to the rain-interrupted open mic session we got changed into our 60s/70s gear for The Beetles tribute band gig at the Hotel. Not quite a Yellow Submarine behind us but somewhat appropriate! Someone said the theme next year will be The Wombles but they were joking (at least, I hope they were!!).

And here they are in action! They weren't as good as the Abba Tribute last year but we had a fun night nevertheless with more dancing and singing along.
Next week is the 50th birthday party of the chap on the far right above so we'll be getting together again sooner rather than later.
I'll be tidying up the house tonight after work (we spent the weekend rushing home and changing, throwing clothes off and on and eating on the run). DD should have left by then and taken her belongings so I should have half a chance! Then I think an early night is in order!
Bye for now
Teresa x

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Stitchy Stuff!

It's about time I had something of a stitchy nature to show here!!

Last Saturday was my monthly quilting club meeting which was in a lovely new (to us) hall. We've been struggling for a few months in a room that was much too small to spread out our work properly and without decent facilites, so this was a welcome change. This is a sneaky pic I took of the beautiful quilt the lady next to me was hand quilting. I'm looking forward to getting mine to this stage.
This is what I was working on. The final block for my quilt-as-you-go quilt at last. Also here is a pile of all my blocks so far, quilted and unquilted, ready to lay out to try and work out in what order they are going to be put together.
And here they are laid out. This is the final layout after 6 or 7 people had an input into how they should be arranged!! To tell you the truth, I wasn't too bothered whether 2 curved blocks or blocks with the same fabric were next to eachother because the whole style of this piece, to me, is scrappy and random. I'm not saying I won't make more structured pieces in the future but this one is more pot luck. The bottom of this layout will be the top of the quilt.
Here is the view from the side. There's one empty gap because I left one patch that's partially quilted at home. When enough have been quilted, I'm going to add a light coloured sashing and start joining them together using the method we were shown on Saturday. It's taken well over a year to get to this stage and I'm anticipating it will take just as long again to get it finished, especially as we'll be doing other things at club sessions now.
I had a little time on Sunday for stitching too so Cushion No 2 was finished for the porch bench. This is a bit of a random design. I stitched together a selection of squares and then kept cutting and restitching until the desired size was reached. I'm not so sure I like this one so much but I'm sure it'll look fine when I've finished all 4.
This weekend coming is our village Music Festival so it is very, very, very unlikely that any stitching will be done. Hopefully it's going to be a fantastic weekend as it has been evey other year. We have tickets for Saturday and Sunday nights at the Beaufort and I will be going to the Community Service in the morning (where we are singing 2 pieces as the Saturday Singers) and up to the Castle with a picnic (weather permitting) to see the Male Voice Choir Sunday afternoon. Apart from that we'll just be wandering around the village, enjoying the atmosphere and listening to whatever takes our fancy. I'm really looking forward to it, but I'm going to be shattered come Monday morning.
Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

I'm Back.........and you didn't even know I'd gone!

The residents' lounge
Access to CAT via gravity/water powered carriage

OH and I have been away for a long weekend to Mid-Wales. We left Friday afternoon and arrived back Monday afternoon. It was a lovely break and nice to not think about housework or cooking for 3 whole days!
One always takes a chance booking accommodation online but, fingers crossed, we've been lucky so far. We stayed at the Buckley Arms Hotel near Machynlleth where we were made to feel thorougly relaxed and at home. All the rooms were large and comfortable with everything we needed at hand. On 2 out of the 3 evenings we ate dinner here too and the food was delicious. The Residents' Lounge was a dramatic room with an old-fashioned feel, but everything looked quite new (see top photo, sorry all the photos didn't load the first time and then I couldn't move them around).-
Saturday was a bit of a wash-out weatherwise but we managed to find an indoor boot sale (didn't buy anything) and a craft centre to visit.
Sunday was much better and we took the opportunity to visit the Centre for Alternative Technology which was one of my reasons for staying in that area (and can now be crossed off my Things I Want To Do list).
The veg garden at CAT (above and below)

An insect home wall
The new conference and education centre (called WISE but I can't remember what it stands for)
Ducks by the pond at CAT having a thorough grooming session and taking no notice of us at all.
In the afternoon we drove to the coast. It was very windy and not terribly warm. The people there were almost willing it to get warmer by dressing in shorts and t-shirts (there was even one brave girl in a bikini!). We kept our jumpers firmly on and I don't think I'd have been too warm if I'd worn a coat too! I saw one chap wearing a woolly hat and sandals - this weather is very confusing!!
Despite that we had a lovely relaxing afternoon:
admiring the views........

watching people trying to catch crabs (OH said he thought it was a competition as they all had the same buckets. We didn't see any crabs getting caught - they usually fell off the bait before the fisherman was able to pull the line back up)...................
and eating icecream (well, you've got to at the seaside) while relaxing on a bench and people watching.
On the way back to the hotel we passed this beautiful lake (or is it a reservoir, I'm not sure) where 2 lads were fishing from a little dinghy.
It really was a lovely, relaxing time but all too short.

We had a couple of cream teas while away (not this one, I didn't take photos unfortunately) and I did quite a lot of thinking (thinking in general for a change instead of about what I have to do next). At one point, I mentally planned my perfect day which involved:
1 A sunny summers day
2 Me selling craftwork and sewing from my Shed
3 DD selling her products and promoting her business
4 DS making and serving cream teas on the lawn.
I aim to do at least part of this at some time in the future but it seems a long way off at the moment.
There were shelves of books in the hotel lounge so one evening after dinner we sat there and had a browse. I didn't want to start reading something and then have to leave it so I picked the smallest book in a set of classics and read it in an evening. It was The Wizard of Oz!! (they were children's classics :-) I was surprised at how different they made the film to the book but enjoyed the quick read. I already knew the shoes were silver and not 'ruby red' (due to the fact that silver wouldn't show up well for the film on a yellow brick road) but a lot of the other changes surprised me which was good because then it wasn't too predicable. And I can add another book to my reading list for 2010, meaning I'm almost on track for one a month (pathetic really!)
Bye for now
Teresa x