Sunday, 10 May 2015

Venice in Spring 2015

I feel very lucky to have spent the bank holiday weekend in Venice with my Mum and younger sister - it was a really lovely weekend of getting lost, shopping, sights and drinking Prosecco! This was my first time in Italy (not including a day trip I took from Austria in the 1980s) and I fell in love with it.

From Marco Polo airport, we took the scenic route on the Linea Arancio, weaving through the Grand Canal to our hotel, alighting at Giglio and navigating via St. Mark's Square to our hotel near Arsenale.

Grand Canal

My sister pre-booked tickets for the Basilica, which saved us from the long queue snaking down one side of St. Mark's Square (entry is free, but if you reserve it is €2). It is well worth paying to go upstairs via the steep narrow staircase for a fantastic view over the square.
San Marco Basilica
View from San Marco Basilica
View over to Giudecca from our hotel

My favourite time was hopping off a vaporetto and getting lost trying to find the Rialto Mercado - although it isn't possible to get really lost! At the Rialto bridge, there was a huge crush of people, and I was glad to get out into the quieter streets again.

A trip to Murano was our planned itinerary for the afternoon and it was very warm for early May. Again, it is a popular tourist destination and the world and his wife seemed to want to get on our vaporetto at the same time. If you are planning on visiting Murano or any of the other islands, my advice is to visit early and return early to avoid the crowds. A day's vaporettto pass which will include the fare to Murano, Burano and Torcello costs €20.

Our final day was spent at the Doge's Palace (€18) and the famous Bridge of Sighs.

Venice is such a beautiful place, and one which I can see myself returning to again and again - I already have a wish list of things that I want to do on my next visit.

Love Mrs Jones x

We stayed at Ca' Formenta - which I would highly recommend.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Signs of Spring 2015

On a trip to Killerton House in Devon, yesterday, there are signs of Spring everywhere from the daffodils and primroses to the blossom appearing on the trees. It was the first day this year when I didn't need a coat!

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Patchwork: Winter's Lane

Well, it has been a while in the making, but I have finally completed the Winter's Lane 8 point star quilt which was supposed to be finished by Christmas. So what if it's nearly Easter now - the nights are still cold enough to warrant snuggling up under this on the sofa!

Back in September, I posted a tutorial on how to construct an 8 point star block, which you can find here.

I used a really thick wadding for this quilt as the plan was for it to be used in Winter - I am not sure that I would use such dense wadding again as it was quite a struggle for my little old machine. 

You may have noticed that I took a little unintentional blogging break - fitting everything in with working full time has been difficuly and something had to give, but I feel a renewed energy now that we are actually seeing daylight at both ends of the day!

Happy Mothers Day!
Mrs Jones x

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Light and Shade of 2014

2014 was a roller coaster ride for me personally, beginning with the decision to take voluntary redundancy from a job that I had been doing for twenty years to pursue a life long dream career in teaching. Two days after my teacher training interview, I was rushed into hospital with severe pneumonia and sepsis and on a life support machine in intensive care for the following week. After a slow recovery, including having to re-learn how to feed myself and to walk again from the neuropathy, I relapsed twice and ended up with heart failure.
Those three months in and out of hospital were a nightmare from which we are all still psychologically recovering from. Thankfully, I have made an almost complete recovery but am still being monitored by the excellent medical staff at my local hospital.
Unsurprisingly, this unplanned near-death experience made me think twice about throwing myself into a stressful teacher training course and a sensible work-life balance became my aim. I left my job as planned at the end of August thinking what a stupid mistake I had made and gained a new job in November. I do now feel that the right decision was made and I am starting to enjoy my new job and its new opportunities.
My online shop has been totally neglected for the best part of the year but I have really enjoyed the break from it and sewing and crafting for myself instead of for others! Now I am back in the swing of work I am hoping to be back blogging more regularly in 2015.
Here is to a Happy and Healthy 2015 for all my readers!
Love Mrs Jones x

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Roast Butternut Squash, Chestnut and Onion Soup

This is a lovely winter warmer, perfect for making ahead and taking in a vacuum flask out with you on a cold walk. The fact that it was made with some of my Christmas leftovers makes it even better!
Roast Butternut Squash, Chestnut & Onion Soup (adapted from a recipe published on Red Online)
1 Butternut Squash, peeled and deseeded
1 Onion, peeled
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled
100g Roasted Chestnuts (I buy mine vacuum packed)
1 litre Vegetable Stock
Sprig of Rosemary
Olive Oil
1. Cut the butternut squash and onion into chunks and place in an ovenproof dish. Add the garlic cloves and drizzle over a little olive oil. Add a sprig or two of rosemary and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 35-40 minutes. You want to make sure that the squash is nice and soft and you can check this by inserting a sharp knife into it.
2. Put half of the roasted veg and half of the chestnuts in a liquidiser with half of the stock and blend until smooth. Decant into a saucepan and blend the other half of the soup. Alternatively, you can use a food processor (this will produce a coarser texture) or use a stick blender in the pan.
3. Warm the soup up in the saucepan and season to taste. Serve with a swirl of cream and some cracked black pepper.
This soup is suitable for freezing.
Love Mrs Jones x

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas Cake in 5 Easy Stages: Stage Five - Icing and Decorating

This is the best bit about making your own Christmas cake: the icing and the decorating (apart from the eating of it, of course)! For this stage you will need some ready to roll fondant icing which is readily available from supermarkets, plus any decorations, ribbons etc. Again, decorations may be laboured over or shop bought or you could go for something really simple like I have done.

Sprinkle your surface with icing sugar and begin by kneading the icing until it becomes more pliable. Roll it out in a rough circle so you have enough to cover the top and sides in one piece. Using the rolling pin for support, drape the icing over the cake. Smooth down the top and ease the sides into place with the heel of your hand trying to ensure that you get a nice even finish. Trim the edges and then you are ready to decorate.

For my simple snowflake design, I found a snowflake printable online and cut out the negative image, so I was left with a stencil guide. I gently scored my six main points of the snowflake with a knife and then added a couple of spikes to each end. I finished with a mix of silver balls and snowballs in a pattern.

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas Cards 2014

I have been much quieter on my blog for the last six weeks, mainly due to starting a new job mid November which has limited my crafting time somewhat. Getting back into the swing of working full time and managing my household has taken definitely taken its toll, but I am am now in more of a routine.
My Christmas cards this year were made using my Sizzix Big Shot machine, then hand coloured with a Northern Lights theme and embellished.

Have you made your Christmas cards this year?
Love Mrs Jones x