Friday, 31 May 2013

Quilt II - Complete

I began this quilt back in April and the top has been complete for around a month waiting for me to transform it into a quilt.

I love the mix of graphic geometric prints - there is something interesting to look at wherever you look. I have backed it with a piece cut from an old duvet cover. It isn't ideal, but it is super soft for a backing fabric.

The quilting was done along the long narrow strips, creating puffy channels. I would love to be able to do something amazing with the quilting but I just don't know where to start!

It was very gratefully received by Albert, who now has it on top of his duvet! I am not planning on making any more quits for the time being, but in Autumn I may start one for a Christmas present.

Love Mrs Jones x

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Why I use Amazon Associates

I get really annoyed by irrelevant advertising on blogs {although I do understand why they do it}. I decided a long time ago that I would not go down that route. Instead I have chosen to use Amazon Associates. The reason is that it works better with my posts, so that if I am talking about a recipe, I can post a link to the book via Amazon. This enables me to advertise relevant products. 

This is how it works: I post a link to Amazon, blog reader X is really interested in finding out more about this amazing sewing project book, or recipe book or whatever, they can click on the link. The more clicks the higher my percentage goes if blog reader X decides to purchase the book. If they also purchase something else that I have not advertised, along with the sewing book, I earn a commission on that too.

I love blogging and I made the decision to go down the advertising route solely with Amazon, so you don't have to put up with adverts you don't want to see.

Please feel free to ask any questions.

Love Mrs Jones x


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Sticky Honey Cake

Do you know that feeling when you need to make a cake and it has to be different to anything you have ever made? You search through all the recipe books that you own, trying to find THE ONE! Well, I hit on the Honey Cake in my ancient copy {a wedding present - 18 years old} of Good Housekeeping New Step by Step Cook Book - here is the up to date version: Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cookbook: Over 650 Easy-To-Follow Techniques (Ghk)


This cake tastes like a part gingerbread, part fruit cake with an underlying taste that I associate with all those lovely German baked goods you can get at Christmas. 

Recipe
225ml runny honey
75g butter
330g plain flour
5ml ground mixed spice
5ml bicarbonate of soda
100g glace cherries
3 eggs beaten
45ml milk
Plus more honey to pour over it when cooked!

Method
1. Grease and line a deep square 20cm tin - I used a slightly larger round one!

2. Pour the honey annd butter in a pan and melt.

3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour a pinch of salt , the spice and bicarb in. Add the cherries and mix.

4. Take the pan off the heat and stir the beaten eggs with the milk. Then add the dry ingredients to the pan, stirring well to incorporate everything. Pour into your prepared tin.

5. Cook at 170C for 45 minutes. Test by inserting a skewer {I use a carving fork}- if it comes out clear it is cooked. The printed recipe says to cook for 1 1/4 hours! I have a fan oven, so this might be why it took less time for me.

6. When cooked, leave it in the tin, prick all over with your skewer and pour some more honey over the top of the cake. I had run out so used golden syrup, and brushed it over the top.

You will notice that my cake looks a little rustic on the top, but I can assure you that it tastes lovely, although there isn't an overwhelming honey taste. 


This recipe has been adapted from the original Good Housekeeping recipe.

Love Mrs Jones x

Monday, 27 May 2013

Planting Vegetables

It has been such a lovely Bank Holiday weekend, so we have spent most of our time in the garden: playing table tennis, bouncing on the trampoline, painting the fence..and planting veggies. I have had a little success in the past growing peas in a pot and tomatoes, but I thought I would go a bit further this time, because next year I want to have a go at having a real vegetable patch!

Peas at the rear, lettuce at the front.

I have cheated a littlle as I have bought seedlings from my local garden centre. They aren't much different in price from a packet of seeds.

This is what I have planted:

Peas Greenshaft : an early variety. I need to thin mine out in a few weeks and pop in some twig supports.

Lambs Lettuce: produces a rosette of leaves. I am a little confused about this one as I have since read that this is not recommended for summer, so it will be suck it and see for this. I will probably use it as a cut and come again crop, picking whilst still young.



Tomato Marmande: this is one of those rustic French tomato varieties that you can purchase with ease on the continent, full of meaty flavour. I have two of these in pots.

Courgette Jemmer F1: this is a golden yellow variety of courgette. God, I love courgettes.

Chilli Cayenne: (in the black pot) and at the insistence of Albert, my eldest son in the hope that in the autumn we can have a chilli fest!

and around the garden...

The buds are just beginning to open on my rose (can't remember the variety, but it is a scented climber).


One of my clematis has finished flowering and produces these bizarre tufty seedheads. 

Love Mrs Jones x


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Baking + Photography

I had only planned to make a cake today, but somewhere along the way, I ended up making a bit more than a cake. We're having a bit of a food thriftathon {i.e. not wasting too much food}, so these brown bananas needed using up somehow. I still have some banana ice-cream in the freezer, so I thought I would create a quick banoffee pie. When I was in my 20s, I would have made a banoffee pie properly {making my own caramel}, but it is so much easier to get it off the shelf in a tin {Carnation and Merchant Gourmet do it}.

Ew! Black Bananas
I made a quick flan base and baked it blind in the oven before pouring the caramel and banana into it and topping it with whipped cream and some grated chocolate!

Yum! Banoffee Pie

Unfortunately {or fortunately}, I had a little pastry leftover, so rather than throw it, I made a few jam tarts. As it is such a nice day, I thought I would take the tart into the garden and get some photos.
Jam Tart

I was so pleased with the result, that when my cake was baked, I took that outside to play with my camera too.

Cherry & Almond Cake

I am so pleased that my cherries are distributed evenly as it's so disappointing if they sink.

I took a few shots of the garden too:

Hosta unfurling itself

My cat trying to catch a bee!
So, on to the recipe.

Ingredients
140g butter
140g caster sugar
2 eggs
125ml milk
1tsp almond essence
100g glace cherries
Flaked Almonds

Method
1.Rub the butter and flour in a bowl until it resembles breadcrumbs.

2. Stir in the sugar.

3. Add the beaten eggs, milk and almond essence along with the cherries.

4. Mix well.

5. Pour into a deep 20cm tin which you have buttered. Sprinkle a handful of flaked almonds on the top and pop in the oven at 180C for 1 hour. Mine only took 55 minutes, so you may want to get it out ten minutes before the hour is up and test with a skewer.

This recipe has been adapted from the original Fresh Cherry Almond Cake by BBC Good Food.

Love Mrs Jones x

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Rhubarb

I have had my fingers crossed that this year I will be able to crop some rhubarb. I planted it last Spring, and even will a little forcing, it has been a big disappointment. Not one stick of rhubarb for me.


This photo was taken in March this year - it looked so promising! Something is eating it I think. 

Well, there comes a point when you have been waiting so long, that in the end you pop to the supermarket and buy some, which is what I had to do. I had a craving for the sharp rhubarb and vanilla custard.


Chopped up, the pieces look like pieces of broken rock. After trawling the internet for rhubarb recipes, such as rhubarb streusel pie and the beautiful French Rhubarb Tart {both recipes from BBC Good Food}, I settled on the good old crumble. You really can't beat it!

Do you have some favourite rhubarb recipes, or have some tips for making mine grow for next year? I would love to hear from you.

Love
Mrs Jones x




Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Le Challenge: Wings

After the roaring success of the first challenge from Le Challenge where 36 people entered their Geometric projects, the second challenge is "Wings". My instant reaction was OMG, what on earth am I going to make! So, I made a list of everything I could think of related to wings - you can almost see the cogs working:
  • aeroplane - "come fly with me"?
  • birds - chickens, penguins, owls...
  • beetles - ladybird
  • fairy
  • angel
  • butterfly
  • rocket
  • bat
  • insects - fly, bee, dragonfly...
  • dragon
  • pterodactyl
  • Icarus
  • Hermes
  • Winged key from Harry Potter
  • Howl's Moving Castle
  • Pegasus
  • Winged collar
But after several false starts, quite unadventurously, I plumped for a bird. I sketched out a penguin then this:
I started cutting pieces of fabric out freehand, to compile a gabric bird collage, layering pieces of fabric in muted colours until I was happy with the look. Instead of sewing it together, I used fabric glue, and added a real stick for a branch which I sewed onto the fabric.
The background is a fairly stiff cream cotton duck, and was perfect for this sort of collage.

The result is a slightly naive looking, completely unreal young bird. 

All challenge entries will be available to view at the Le Challenge website on the 15th. 

Love Mrs Jones x





Sunday, 12 May 2013

Lampshades

I bought a lampshade kit from Amazon some time ago and I have been waiting for the right moment to have a go at it. I was surprised how easy it is {especially when Mr Jones is helping}.

You cut your fabric to the size stated on the box, place the sticky backed plastic on the back of the fabric, carefully smoothing any wrinkles as you go. You snap off the marked edges, then you apply double sided tape to each of the rings and roll the whole thing carefully up. The kit comes with a handy little gadget for you to poke the ends of the fabric under the rings.

Ta dah! It looks kind of funky on this old lamp base.
It is surprising how wide your fabric needs to be for such a small lamp {I went for a 20cm kit - clickable link to right} -it used over 60cm, so using fat quarters is out of the question.

I know you can use card or fabric for your lamp, but I imagine fabric is a lot more forgiving - I can't imagine smoothing wrinkles easily out of card.

Cheeky little product shot of the matching cushion for sale!

The fabric I used is a cotton duck by Ashley Wilde, and I didn't tuck the short fabric end, though this is something I think you would need to do if using something thinner.

Suddenly, I feel a whole new area of possibilities have opened up to me, and I will definitely be making another one soon.

Have you had success with making your own lampshades? I would love to hear about it.

Love Mrs Jones x

PS. If you are interested in the cushion {used only for this photo} please see here.



Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Sewn: Alma Wiggle Skirt Pattern Review

I found the amazing Eliza M Vintage's patterns at Jaycotts. So many vintage style patterns to choose from! You buy the pattern to suit your size {although I believe you can now buy multisize versions}. 

Image from Eliza M Vintage site

Pattern: Alma Wiggle Skirt from Eliza M Vintage


Size made: 10 {I am an 8 on the hips, a 10 at the waist{caused by two big babies}}

Fabric used: Medium weight wool mix {92% wool/ 8% polyamide} slate grey fabric {not far off school uniform colour}. I also used some gingham bias binding and some light cotton material.
A dart -  to show the fabric colour

Does it look like the cover photo? Yes, although I imagined it would be literally figure hugging. I think if my side seams were bigger, it might look more like the photo.
Apologies for the terrible quality - when home alone, I am reduced to photographing myself in dusty mirrors!

Problems:  
The zip isn't fully extended, but there is an obvious misalignment.
  • Darts : As I don't have much dressmaking experience, I think this was more me being a dunce than the instructions! I sewed the darts on the front of the fabric, so at the first step, the seam ripper was out
  • The waistband piece wasn't long enough - maybe my side seams were too narrow, but it was about 10cm short.
  • I sewed one side of the zip correctly and the other side the wrong way round! So, that had to be unpicked too! 
  • Hem: I think my fabric was too thick for this, especially around the pleat.
  • The final sewing of the waistband and replacement of the zip, led to a misalignment. By this point I had already stitched the waistband twice. I am not going to correct it as most of the time, my blouse will spill over the top anyway, and I can alway add in this belt.
Love this waist cinching belt!

Alterations: After sewing the waistband as instucted, I decided it looked too bulky {two layers of wool and interfacing}, so cut it again, halving the pattern piece so it was much thinner. I cut the same size out of some cotton and used this as the waistband {with the cotton as the lining for the waistband). I also added in a little bias binding piping where the waistband meets the skirt in a lovely blue gingham - again reminiscent of school..

Could you follow the instructions? If I am honest, I found it quite difficult to sew following the instructions alone. I am not very experienced at dressmaking, and had to have my Sewing Machine Basics book {see right} with me to work out what I was doing. I am sure it was me, rather than the instructions, although I have made notes for next time!

What do you like/dislike about the finished garment? Totally loving the pleat at the back!


This is a little blurred, but I like the fact my waist looks small in this photo!
Love Mrs Jones x

KS2 SATs

Fred has his year 6 SATs next week. We have already had tears about them. It annoys me so much that they have to do them at this age - I am sure that a teacher's assessment of a child's ability is a much more accurate gauge than the SATs.

For anyone who is trying to do some last minute revision, or has SATs to look forward to next year, here are some things that have been helpful:

BBC Bitesize KS2 - which is available for English Maths and Science. Some really good revision games some of which are based around TV shows.

Woodlands School, Kent - This school has an amazing range of revision help as well as past papers.

CGP Revision books - these are readily available via Amazon or WHSmith, although the school may sell them at a discounted price. These are really well written. Also on their website are some tests and games which are free to use.

St Josephs School, Pickering - This school has loads of past papers from different years available free.

As parents, we have been told to give them big breakfasts and lots of tlc next week.

Love Mrs Jones x

Thursday, 2 May 2013

One Photo a Day

This month, over on Facebook, I am taking part in May Photo a Day Challenge run by Fat Mum Slim. Anyone can take part by taking a photo each day by camera, ipod, phone or whatever, and posting it {see the link to Fat Mum Slim for details}.

Ther first day's prompt was "I bought this", and this is what I posted:

He is three today:
I won't be posting photos daily on here, but you can have a look every day on my Facebook page.

Love Mrs Jones x



Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Newsletter

Did you know that you can receive a monthly newsletter by email from Made by Mrs Jones? Our next newsletter will be packed full of inspiration, a little behind the scenes look and a discount code for use in our shop. I would love you to sign up {you can unsubscribe at any time}:





 
Love Mrs Jones x

May Lust List: Jelly & Ice-cream

Jelly and Ice-cream - it's nearly the time of year for summer picnics and cooling desserts and smoky barbecues. I bought the cat jelly mould earlier in the year but haven't used it yet. I love the idea of sandcastle bowls, and a little ice-cream van nesting box.

Jelly & Ice-cream