Thursday, 31 January 2013

Scrappy placemat

Today I set myself a challenge:  To make patchwork squares from nothing but scraps that were lying around.  And by scraps, I mean bits that in some cases, measured only an inch square or three-quarters of an inch wide!

I ended up with 12 blocks.  I could have made a lot more, but settled on 12 four inch blocks, as laying them out 4 x 3 is an ideal size for a placemat.  I made some binding out of some more scrap - parts of an old shirt to be precise - and this was the result.

A totally unique, never possible to repeat, placemat.

There's a lot of history in it too, particularly in the blues.  I remember Mum having a dress made from the stripy fabric, from the floral one next to it, she made me a pair of pyjamas, and the large-ish blue piece in the centre was left overs from fabric used to make what was once our kitchen curtains when I was a child.

Happy memories :)

Until next time. x

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Giving in to temptation

Until today, I've resisted the temptation to take myself on a scrappy trip around the world.  If you're not into fabric or quilting, you've probably no idea what I'm talking about ... and if I'm honest, I hadn't a clue either till recently.

I can't remember whose blog I was reading when I discovered this wonderful stash-buster, but it led me to this blog, which has instructions on how to construct this novel quilt which is a great way to use up those left-over scraps all fabricaholics end up with.

I couldn't resist any longer, and just had to give it a go!  I spent a goodly part of today constructing three blocks, of which this one is the first.
Each finished block measures 12" square, so I reckon I should need 30 or 35, to get a good sized quilt.  I'm not overly fond of quilts that completely cover the bed and hang down to the floor, and I prefer ones that just sit nicely on top of the bed, so my initial target is 5 blocks wide by 6 or 7 long.

This will definitely be a long-time work in progress!

Until next time. x

Saturday, 26 January 2013

A vintage haul

Last night, we had some more of this ...

which was most annoying, because my friend and I wanted to go to an auction today.  Fortunately, a lot of it had melted by this morning, and we were left with a slushy mush.  The motorway was clear, although the spray being thrown up was horrible.

As we got nearer to where the auction was being held though, the roads got progressively worse.

We arrived just before the auction started, which didn't give us much time to look around.  I did spot some bags of vintage linen though, and I got lucky.  A nice haul for just £6!

Among the bits and bobs were lots of hand tatted tray cloths and doilies, and this lovely embroidered tray cloth, which looks a bit crinkly at the moment because it's just come out of the wash.

I've no doubt some of the items will find themselves chopped up and being made into up-coming quilts and shopping bags.

Until next time. x

Monday, 21 January 2013


OK, I know the Canadians would take one look at this and laugh, but for us here in the UK it's still a novelty to wake up to this ...

So we made this ...

Until next time. xx

Love is ...

I've had some red and white scraps of fabric hanging around for quite a while.  No particular project in mind, just leftovers from other makes.  Suddenly I had one of those Eureka! moments and decided they'd look rather nice put together as a quilted wall hanging.  So out came a notepad, and a sketch was drawn ...

Very high tech here you know!

Fabric was cut ...
And three of the nine squares were pieced together.

Ignore the blue, that's the duvet cover!
Each of the squares measures 6.5" and I'm a little concerned that at the moment, the 'L' looks like an inverse learner driver plate!   This is very much a work-in-progress, and I'll try to do some more on tomorrow.  As the snow is falling again and we're expecting a white out by morning, it'll probably be a day at home, which is good news as it will be another no-spend day.  I like those!  And that will be two no-spend days in a row as not a penny has been spent today either.

After a lunch of warming tomato soup and toast, our frugal tea consisted of some pieces of battered fish, peas and mini Yorkshire puddings out of the freezer, and I'm continuing my determination to use up what's in there before I buy any more.

Small surpassed himself with his reading today.  He's three and a half, and has been reading small words - cat, hat, map and the like - for quite a while.  I know a lot of what he's 'reading' comes from memory, but isn't that how we all learned to read?  Anyway, he read his way through two books tonight, almost entirely by himself.

The first one, In the Nest, is a lovely and beautifully illustrated story about baby birds from egg to first flight, and the second, One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab is a great counting book using feet!

The above are affiliate links.  Any purchases made provide me with a small commission which I put into educational resources for Small.

Until next time. xx

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A tasty, simple tea

Never one to let anything go to waste if I can help it, I had a few slices of bacon left in the fridge that needed using up.  Now a bacon butty is very nice, but one small butty each isn't exactly very filling.  So what to do with it?  A bacon omelette, with some grated cheddar cheese!

First lightly grill the bacon, and while it's grilling, grate up the cheddar cheese.  When the bacon's done, cut it into small-ish pieces.  Also while the bacon's grilling, set a small frying pan on the stove's lowest setting, and melt a knob of butter into it.

Beat 2 or 3 eggs per person and add a splash of milk.  Pour the eggy mixture into the frying pan, and add the bacon pieces and cheese.  If you're making for more than one person, either use separate small frying pans or a larger pan that can accommodate more mixture.

 Leave the heat setting on lowest, and cook the omelette until the base and sides are done, with just the centre still liquid.  Turn the grill back on and put the whole thing under the grill to bubble up and brown.

Once your omelette's done and the top's browned and bubbled, plate it, and enjoy!  A very simple tea, using left-overs and a few eggs.  You could always add or substitute other things as well, such as mushrooms or some veggies.  Plus, no money was spent today buying food, which is always a bonus.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Meet some more friends

After I'd finished my mum's quilt, I decided I couldn't send it off to her without sending one for Dad too.

I think I mentioned that my parent's bedroom had always been mostly pink and green, but with the odd bit of tonal blue in the fabrics.  It stood to reason then that a lot of the fabric samples mum had acquired over the years were in shades of blue, with quite a few browns and beiges as well.  Perfect for a more "blokey" quilt.

I've pieced these together using 6" squares, which are then joined together with a cream strip, with a further 6" cream strip top and bottom.

Dad's quilt
This one has been hand bound using a 2.5" folded binding that I pieced together out of strips from both mum's and my stash.

Both quilts are now packed up and will be posted to my parents tomorrow, along with strict instructions that they are to be used, not put in a cupboard.  Mum has a tendency to put pretty things "away somewhere safe" just because they're pretty.  I hope she doesn't do that with these!

Until next time. x

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Getting ready for spring

It's always exciting watching the days getting longer, even when there's snow on the ground.  Why?  Because it means spring is coming and it's time to get ready for planting seeds, sowing crops and generally preparing for enjoying the fruits of my labour later in the year.  There's nothing quite like home grown veg.

I managed to stock up on some seeds from B&Q while they were on special offer.  I ended up with tomatoes (moneymaker), two packets of Brussels sprouts, beetroot, spring onions, carrots, radishes, sprouting broccoli, sweet pepper and chilli pepper, little gem lettuce and some speedy greens.

I've also got just a few flower seeds: Calendula - a good companion plant for tomatoes as it's supposed to stop white fly, and the flowers are good for drying for using in lotions and salves; some Heartsease, which is my favourite little flower, their happy tri-colour faces look so lovely and they're edible too; and some sweet peas in the "golden oldies' mix, for their beautiful fragrance.

Seeds and stuff
Although some of the seeds are a bit trickier to grow than others, they're all things that we like to eat.  A lot of my neighbours have allotments - but unfortunately the ones round our way are so big I couldn't possibly manage one, and the local council won't consider splitting them into smaller plots or allowing you to share. They very kindly offer me young broad bean or runner bean plants, but no-one likes them.   I can never quite understand why some people insist on growing veggies they don't actually want to consume, so I pass up their offers or try and persuade them to part with a few of something I do want in exchange for my excess plants.

While I was in B&Q, I spotted their seed potatoes.  Too expensive!  I'd also seen some in a local garden centre.  Horrendously expensive!!  I learned my lesson on that one last year when one of the allotment holding neighbours told me he'd bought his from Home Bargains for 99p.

Sure enough, when I called in yesterday, the packs of seed potatoes were 99p and they also had bags of onion sets for 99p.  I bought two lots of seed potatoes, a bag of Sharps Express first earlies, and a bag of Maris Piper main crop.  I only get one bag of each as the garden is tiny, but it's enough for us, and now I've dug up the front lawn to convert it into a bed for growing, we have plenty of space and it saves a lot of money growing them at home.  Roll on February, when I can start planting some of these.

What do you grow to save yourselves some money?

Until next time. x

Monday, 14 January 2013

The weather outside is frightful

When the weather outside is doing this ...

There's only one thing for it!  A nice bowl of hot ...

I can't normally afford canned soup any more.  At around 85p per tin, it's ridiculously expensive, and much as I love it, I just can't justify the price.  As our local ASDA has had tins of the wonderful Heinz soup at 50p per tin recently, I did stock up on some.  It's so yummy, and if you happen to be poorly, there's nothing nicer than a bowl of steaming hot tomato soup, with some bread and butter, to cheer you up and make you feel better.

What have you found that's a great deal, that you wouldn't normally buy because it's too expensive?

Until next time. x

Friday, 11 January 2013

Some old friends

In my attempt to use up some of my fabric stash, I've been making some quilts.  Quite a lot of my fabric has come to me via my mum, so I thought it only fair that she get some of her bits of material back, but made into something useful.

My parents bedroom has always been decorated in pretty much the same shades; pale green and pink with the occasional bit of blue thrown in for good measure.  As a result, a lot of the fabric scraps were in these colours and I had plenty to choose from to make Mum's quilt.

In amongst the bits of left over material, there were also quite a lot of "samples" - the ones the fabric manufacturers send out to decorator's shops to show off their wares.  These were never intended to actually *be* anything, and certainly at the time Mum acquired them, would have ended up in landfill if she hadn't asked for them.  A lot of these pieces now have a new lease of life as part of a "something" and are part of a quilt (or have been cut ready to go into the next one).

So Mum will shortly be greeting some old friends, and meeting a few new ones, that are part of her quilt.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Finished article

Well my first "proper" quilt is finally finished.  I've never made anything larger than cot quilt size before, and this one is a topper for a single bed, made from a combination of some pre-cut 6" squares I purchased a couple of years ago, and some coordinating fabrics from my stash.

It's not perfect by any means; I'm still very much a beginner when it comes to quilting and I'm sure the quilt police probably wouldn't like it.  Frankly I don't really care, as it will more than serve its purpose which is primarily to keep me warm, and secondly it looks pretty.

It's also served a third purpose of actually making something useful and practical out of fabric that would otherwise have just sat around doing nothing.

This is the first time I've actually added a separate binding to a quilt, rather than using what some describe as the "cheat's" method of using excess backing to self-bind.  I'm also extremely proud of the fact that the entire back of the binding was hand-stitched in place, in the traditional way.  It took me 5 hours to stitch the binding, but I have to say I'm very pleased with the quilt overall. Wobbles and all.

Until next time. x

Friday, 4 January 2013

Simple homemade pizza dough

Sometimes the simple things in life are just what's needed, so when junior asked me if we could make pizza for tea, I thought "why not!".  All of the ingredients came either out of the store cupboard, the fridge or the freezer, so nothing was spent today in buying these.  And for once, I actually remembered to have the camera on hand while I was doing something ;)


375g plain flour
7g dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1Tbs caster sugar (or whatever you've got)
2 Tbs olive oil
8 floz warm water

Throw the ingredients into a bowl - I use my beloved thrifted Mason Cash mixing bowl which I picked up for £1.50 (I think ones this size cost around £20 new, so I was well chuffed!) - and mix together to form a dough.

Knead for around 5 minutes, or until your dough becomes nicely smooth and elastic, and doesn't stick to your work surface.  You shouldn't have to add any more flour other than the initial dusting, and you'll see a noticeable change in the dough texture, which is hopefully visible in the photo below.

I had a friend over today so there were three of us needing tea today, and as everyone likes different things on their pizza, I ended up making 3 separate ones from one batch of dough, although this amount of dough can easily feed several adults.

Plain cheese and tomato
The slight shadow on the right of the photo above is Small, trying to lean into the picture.  He didn't realise I'd zoomed in for a close up and that he wasn't actually in shot at all!
Mushroom, tuna and king prawns
Red pepper and salami/pepperoni meat feast
Yes, the meat feast one did get more cheese put on it than what's shown in the pic :D

My pizzas are never the perfect circles of commercially produced ones; they're always a bit wobbly round the edges.  Nobody minds though as they taste extremely good, and the beauty is that you get to add (or not) whatever you want to it.


Until next time. x

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year

Wishing you all a very happy, frugal, handmade, homemade and chemical free new year.  Happy 2013!

Until next time. x