Sunday, 27 September 2015

In my Garden: September 2015

It is a beautifully sunny weekend here and I am enjoying the last a few jobs out in the garden, preparing it for winter. We have mown the grass for the last time and tidied up the borders a little. but not too much as we like to encourage wildlife. I have to confess that I am a fairweather gardener and by the end of October will not be venturing out gardening until the weather warms up!

I have no idea what this pretty plant is which produces beautiful Autumn colour, but it has been badly attacked by something this year, although it does look like delicate lace with its holes!

I have lots of ferns in the shady areas of my garden - they do like a damp spot.

This rose is flowering again after a month or two. It is the rose that I was given to me when I left work last year and has the most wonderful blush to it.

The skimmia is coming into its own at this time of year, as do the trees and bushes behind our boundary fence which are covered in berries.

And of course Atticus is still enjoying his strolls in the garden, weather permitting.

Love Mrs Jones x

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Bake: Pitta Bread

We are such bread fiends in this house, and I have recently been branching out from the usual loaves of bread that I make in my bread maker to other types of dough and different shaped breads. With the help of this excellent book The Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook by Jennie Shapter, I made some pitta bread. 

They combine the Dough setting with a super quick bake, so are perfect if you are in a hurry.

210ml warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
350g white bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp easy blend dried yeast

1. Put the liquids into the bread maker pan, ensuring that your dough hook is in place (a lesson I learned early on with my machine)!

2. Add the flour, salt and sugar and then the yeast.

3. Set to dough and press go.

4. Depending on the machine it will take approximately 1 1/2 hours. Turn onto a floured surface and divide into 6-10 pieces depending on the required size (I made 8).

5. Roll lightly into a ball, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rest for ten minutes while you preheat the oven to 230C.

6. Roll each piece into an oval and cover with the cling film for another ten minutes.

7. Bake for 5-6 minutes in batches. The pittas should puff up and be a light golden brown.  Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Stuff with your favourite filling or use with dips. My favourite fillings are Carrot & Hummus, and Falafel with some shredded lettuce and minted yoghurt.
Love Mrs Jones x

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Sewn: Amelie Bag

I fancied making an Autumnal bag and turned to the Amelie bag pattern in Tanya Whelan's Sew What You Love. I opted for the larger size because small bags aren't all that practical for me anymore (I need to fit in my purse, phone, a large diary, a reading book and usually lunch too)! This is also my Wilderness entry for this month's Le Challenge - as it combines a selection of wildlife/nature fabric.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am a great believer in making things work with the materials that I have to hand, so instead of using an interfacing for this bag I used quilting batting which was going spare. I am really glad I went for this option as it feels so much sturdier than interfacing alone would.

You may recognise this fabric from my second pair of pyjama trousers - foxy! I added a tiny strip of top stitching detail on one side of the bag just to hold all the layers together.

I also altered the internal pocket - the pattern shows it divided into two pockets. but the size of phones these days are getting bigger so I left mine as one. The additional fabrics used are remnants from the Hello Bear cot quilt that I made.

The instructions for the bag were mostly very straightforward, but I really didn't understand how the straps were meant to fit to the main bag pieces, and I probably made it harder for myself with the additional thickness of the quilt batting. As a result, one side of the bag looks much neater than the other. Part of me thinks I will unpick it and start again, but I will wait until I have used it more and see if it still bothers me, I think!

My final departure from the pattern was to add some topstitching around the top of the bag, mainly because I think it looks better that way.

If you are interested in joining in Le Challenge, a new theme is announced in the middle of each month. Check out all the other entries here:

Le Challenge

Love Mrs Jones x

Saturday, 29 August 2015

In my Garden: August

Well the weather hasn't been too kind to us here in the South West this month, but it did mean that the last of my crops in my veg box have been watered well. I harvested the last of my salad onions earlier in the month and made a batch of pickled onions with them. My courgette is still flowering but unfortunately the slugs are enjoying the courgettes before I get a chance to!

All I have left are my tomatoes (I have been picking the cherry tomatoes but the big heritage cooking tomatoes have yet to ripen), some leeks and just emerging from the soil are some radishes. As I am still learning with the vegetable growing - does anyone have any recommendations on what I could sow now?

Japanese Anemone

Usually at this time of year my garden is looking a bit shabby, but with the addition of a few new plants and the maturing of some others, I do actually have some plants in flower!
As always, Atticus, my Maine Coon is a constant feature in my garden and he can't resist "helping"!

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Sewn: Ipad Mini Case

I made a case for my ipad about 18 months ago, but with daily use it had got really grubby. Unfortunately as my original case had cardboard inserts it wasn't suitable for washing and there were some other things that were annoying me on it too, such as the elastic being too loose and the top flap refused to lie flat.

So, in this model, I ditched the cardboard in favour of craft foam and dispensed with the batting altogether because that is what made it buckle and not sit flat. 

And inside, I have added some more secure corner supports at the base (the previous model was all elastic). This makes it so much more comfortable to hold.

I have a little bit of a gather going on inside, where my sewing foot kept catching on the foam (grr...)

The fabric is by Makower and I have also seen it in pink and blue colourways.

Love Mrs Jones x

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Pickled Onions and Biscotti

An odd combination! I have had some kitchen successes and failures this week: the pickled onions were a success, but alas the biscotti were not!

The pickled onions were originally spring onions that I left in my veg patch a little too long and had become salad onions. I can't see why they wouldn't work in place of the button onions/shallots that you would usually put in pickled onions.

The recipe I used was based on this BBC one, but I substituted about 1/5 of the malt vinegar with balsamic vinegar (I love honey and balsamic vinegar in a salad dressing so thought it would also translate well in this recipe). I halved the recipe as I only had a small amount of onions - just enough for one jar.

Given a shake now and again, they will be perfect with some cold meats and cheese at Christmas!

What didn't go so well were the Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscotti. Again, inspired by Great British Bake Off, I thought I would have a go at some biscotti - I loved some that an Italian friend had made once.

Contrary to how GBBO portrayed it, they were ridiculously easy to make, and look fairly good too, but sadly they just taste so disappointing - there is not enough flavour at all. It hasn't put me off making some more but I would go for a recipe that has some kind of spice or a much richer flavour.

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Patchwork: Hello Bear Cot Quilt

Finally a quilt finish to report on with this cot quilt/play mat, which I have made for my step-sister's new baby girl. I really have no excuse for it taking me so long, because a cot quilt is one of the smallest things to make, but you know how it is - life just gets in the way of sewing sometimes! 

The fabric is from the timber colourway of the Hello Bear range by Bonnie Christine. I love the fact that it is both modern and cute - perfect for a baby! 

Each block is comprised of a square and two rectangles - from memory (the gift is on its way), the finished blocks were 25cm. I did write the measurements down at one stage, but that has since been lost!

The quilting was kept very simple with stitching in the ditch around each block. I followed the format of my first couple of quilts by quilting the top and batting together before adding the back and thus skipping the binding. The reason is that I think it will hold up to more frequent and vigorous washing this way.

My one regret with this quilt, is that I didn't fussy cut the main animal fabric, but it was so difficult to keep it in line with my chosen pattern.

Love Mrs Jones x