Sunday, 11 December 2016

Christmas: Yule Log

Most years, for my son Fred's birthday I make a Yule Log with various accoutrements such as chocolate leaves or meringue mushrooms. This year, I strayed from my reliable but essentially very time consuming Nigella Buche de Noel recipe in favour of the Queen of Baking, Mary Berry.


The basic Swiss roll recipe is much easier than Nigella's and I opted for just a whipped cream filling because even though I love chocolate, even I find it a bit too much! The chocolate and cream icing was beautifully glossy but the Recipe makes far too much. My husband said it would well as a profiterole topping too!




Love Mrs Jones X

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Sewn: Map Cushions


Two years ago, at the Stitching, Sewing and Hobbycrafts Show in Exeter, I bought a metre of this fabulous map fabric, which has been languishing in my sewing room for too long. I have spent some time trying to add in some colour to our very neutral lounge (I'm going with muted blues), and then I decided that it was time to use the fabric to sew up some cushions.


I sewed a very basic button up cushion - no time for piping or anything else fancy. The buttons came from my stash. It is so easy to sew buttonholes on my basic Singer sewing machine. You just pop the button into the buttonhole foot for sizing and follow steps 1-4 on the machine.


As I only have a metre of the fabric, I didn't have any spare to waste trying to match it up at the back.


I have just enough fabric for one more cushion!

Love Mrs Jones x

PS. My awesome leather Moose came from Reiners, Canada - I wrote about that here.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Life: October 2016

I am loving the fact that we are now truly in Autumn, and am enjoying going on some local walks to embrace the change of season.



These were taken on a walk at Langford Heathfield, one of my favourite local walks. There is always something to surprise you - on this last walk I saw a woodpecker and these toadstools.

We have also been trying to make use of our fire pit in the garden, and attempted to make s'mores. We couldn't get the chocolate to melt, but someone on Instagram suggested using chocolate digestives instead of a biscuit and a square of chocolate, so that's a great tip for the future.


I am really cracking on with this retro boys quilt, which is a Christmas gift. I went for a nine-patch block,  the first time I have done this. All the blocks are now made, it is just a case now of sewing them together and quilting.

What are you up to this month?

Love,
Mrs Jones x



Saturday, 15 October 2016

Bake: Quick Pesto Palmiers

In my house, food waste is a sin, so I am always looking for new ways to use up leftovers. I buy ready made puff pastry if I am making a pie, and there is always some left over. I found this recipe for Pesto Palmiers as an alternative to the cheese straws that I usually make.

There are no measurements to my ingredients as you can adapt to what you have handy.


Ingredients
Puff Pastry (ready rolled is easiest)
Pesto
Parmesan

Method
1. Roll or cut out a long rectangle of puff pastry.

2. With the back of a spoon, spread a layer of pesto over the pastry.

3. Start rolling from opposite sides until they meet in the middle.

4. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes to firm up before slicing into pieces of about 1cm thickness.

5. Lay them on a greased baking tray and cook for 10-15 minutes at 200C.

6. While still warm, grate over a little Parmesan.

So quick, and so delicious!

Love
Mrs Jones x

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Travel: Bruges 2016

In the Spring, I took a trip to Bruges, Belgium with my younger sister, Amy and my Mum. We had an amazing time in this beautiful city: eating, drinking, shopping and sight seeing.




Eating and Drinking
 

Everywhere you look in Bruges, there are chocolates and waffles for sale. The waffles at Go.fre (above left) were amazing and covered in almost every conceivable topping imaginable! The best meal we had was at Sale e Pepe, which is a small Sicilian restaurant just off the centre of Bruges. The food was fresh and delicious and the service and atmosphere absolutely spot on. 

Amy and me (right), Sale e Pepe

We also ate more traditional Flemish food at  't Huidevettershuis which was a in a very picturesque spot by the waterway, but was unfortunately having an external makeover whilst we were there. We bypassed the famous Belgian beer in favour of wine (may have had a few too many wines in the photo above actually)!

Sight-Seeing

Climbing Belfort (below top left), the 83 metre tall tower at the edge of Markt is a feat not for the faint-hearted. There are a staggering 366 steps spiralling up to the top of the tower which affords amazing views of Bruges, and of the numerous bells which ring out their tune to square below. For obvious reasons, there are restrictions on the number of visitors allowed in at any one time so you will almost certainly have to wait. 


A tour of Bruges by boat is an excellent way to spend half an hour and to orient yourself, and these boats leave regularly from a number of places around the city. You have to be quick with your camera though as they are certainly speedy.

Some of the best times we had were just wandering the cobbled streets. 

Shopping

One of the benefits of a girls weekend away is the shopping (which I very rarely get to indulge in on a family holiday, without someone looking at their watch). At every corner, there is something to tempt. I loved Dille & Kamille, which is a small Dutch home chain, Hema (another Dutch chain) - a kind of amalgam of Ikea and Homesense, as well as numerous other independent shops. My purchases were restrained by the fact that we were hand luggage only, and I bought a lace snowflake, some sweet postcards, a couple of cat magnets, some stationery including a notebook with a calculator on the front cover (!), some waffles for the boys, a Tintin mug, some tiny handmade pottery olive bowls and a T-shirt for my husband.



Accommodation
We stayed in the Triple Junior Suite at the Jan Brito Hotel which was only a short walk from the centre. The room was very comfortable and the breakfast was wonderful - a buffet of cooked and continental.

Love Mrs Jones x


Sunday, 2 October 2016

Patchwork: Finished - Albert's Uni Quilt



My eldest son, Albert, went to university two weeks ago and this quilt was supposed to have been finished for him to take it with him. Unfortunately. as I work full time, my time for sewing is pretty limited and so it was inevitably not ready for him to take it with him. 


I let him choose the fabric (I pre-selected some fat quarter bundles on Pinterest), and he plumped for Angela Walter's Park Fragmental  I actually bought the fat quarter bundle from an American seller on ebay, and it comes with an amazing feature panel.

Mid quilting 
The fabric has a lovely modern Deco feel to it and comes in two other colourways (pink and yellow). I had such limited time to make this in that I kept the design very simple, with some white squares between the quilting fabric. 





It is really tricky to get a shot of the whole quilt without an able assistant! I played around with the placement of the feature panel. I originally thought I would place it centrally, but am much happier with it off-centre.


Again, due to time constraints, and the fact that quilting is not my or my machine's forte, I kept it very simple with stitch in the ditch in columns. It was great to spend the last few nights hand finishing the binding with the quilt to keep me warm!

This will be winging it's way up to Birmingham next week so he shall be nice and warm before the cold weather kicks in.

What have you been making recently?

Love Mrs Jones x

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Life: September 2016



Well, the summer just flew by didn't it. We enjoyed what was probably our last holiday as a family unit of four because my eldest, Albert is shortly off to university. I seriously don't remember needing to organise so much stuff when I went to uni all those years ago, but perhaps I was as blissfully unaware as Albert is! He achieved A*, A, B in his A levels which was over the requirement to get onto his Geography degree at Birmingham uni. We are so proud of him!

And, as kids do, he decided that actually he would like me to make him a quilt to take with him after all, so I am frantically sewing that in the beautiful Park Fragmental fabric range (above), and I will post all about that another time.

I am loving the return of GBBO, and made a lemon drizzle cake after the first episode:



This was all that was left by day two!!

Love Mrs Jones x

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Patchwork: Finished: September Blue Quilt

Way back in the Summer of 2014, I won a fat quarter bundle of September Blue fabric from Celtic Fusion Fabric. Well that fabric has been sat for a fair amount of time just waiting to be made into something special.


I confess that I actually finished the quilt top back in the Spring, but as I have plans for a new quilt, this spurred me on to actually getting on and completing it!


I quilted very simply in columns in pink thread. As the quilt is for a friend's daughter, I went with the easier option of using no binding - sewed by machine on three sides, turned right way out and hand finished with slip stitching. The other quilts that I have sewn using this method are really sturdy and have been able to handle a lot of wear and can be thrown in the washing machine.


The photos have been taken on location as part of the West Deane Way walk.

My next patchwork project is a quilt for my son to take with him to university - more to follow!

Love Mrs Jones x

Monday, 11 July 2016

Bake: Lemon and Ginger Scones

I made some delicious scones with a twist this weekend: lemon and ginger. This was a recipe from one of the Waitrose Food magazines from May 2014 (link here). I also made my own stem ginger from this recipe by Every Nook and Cranny, as I was too lazy to go and buy some (yes, it is that easy)!! For this recipe, I used one piece of root ginger of the size you would ordinarily buy in a supermarket. 


I made them to take over to my Mum's for her birthday. They were really moist with hot bursts of ginger.

Recipe 
225g self raising flour (although I added a bit more at the kneading stage)
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
55g butter
Lemon, zest and 1 tbsp of the juice
2 tbsp chopped stem ginger
125ml milk

Method
1. Turn the oven on at 200C. Sprinkle an oven sheet with flour.
2. Mix flour, sugar and salt together. Rub in the butter to make a breadcrumb consistency.
3. Add the lemon zest and make a well.
4. Add the ginger and lemon juice to the milk and pour into the well.
5. Bring the mixture together first with a knife and then knead lightly by hand.
6. Roll out lightly and cut out six rounds and place on the baking sheet.
7. Bake for 20 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

I debated between topping with lemon curd or jam, but opted for the latter, with the obligatory clotted cream, of course!!

Thank you for the recipe Waitrose. I can't believe this is the first time I have made them.

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Paper: Between the Folds

I stumbled across a wonderful documentary on Netflix this week about some amazing origami artists, called "Between the Folds". If you have only a passing interest in origami, I encourage you to take a look. It goes way beyond the traditional origami folds. I was particularly interested in the origami choreographer (whose name escapes me) but whose work is just breathtaking.

I was also interested to read in this month's Red Magazine that origami is set to surpass colouring as the new mindfulness activity, for example The Book of Mindful Origami. You heard it here - get folding!

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Sewn: Travel Lens Pouch

Next weekend, I am off on a long weekend to Bruges. We are travelling light - hand luggage only on the flight as it makes it so much quicker when you have such precious time somewhere. Last time I did a similar trip to Venice, I struggled with what to do with my camera lenses. I didn't want to lug my whole camera bag around but still wanted some protection for the lenses.



So, this time, I have made myself a padded pouch which is large enough to take either of my lenses. It just has a simple drawstring closure.



Although it is a quick make, it is quite fiddly sewing the wadding and fabric to the wadded circle at the base. I didn't use any tutorial, just made it up in my own inimitable fashion!!



The fabric is a leftover piece from my dressing gown. As it fits so well with the Le Challenge theme of Blossom, I am submitting it over there. Check out everyone else's makes.

Love
Mrs Jones X

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Paper: Wedding Card

A good friend and ex-colleague of mine is getting married today, so I took the opportunity of making a wedding card for her. It is a simple make that you can adapt to whatever paper scraps you have to hand, as only tiny rectangular pieces are needed.


I used my Sizzix Big Shot to emboss one of the cake layers - I really need to use these more often!

To make this card you need:
- a blank card and envelope
- assorted papers in your colour scheme
- embellishments
- glue

Cut one thin rectangle for the base/plate of the cake, then using an assortment of paper, cut three more rectangles to make your basic three tiered cake. Round off the top corners (if you can't do this well with scissors, you can use (clean) nail clippers). Glue these onto your card blank and embellish with ribbon trim and hearts, as required.

I tried to tie mine in to their pink wedding theme.
 



 
Love Mrs Jones x


Monday, 14 March 2016

Sewn: Bookmark

Just a quick post tonight with my Le Challenge entry for this month's theme "Reading". I love reading and every year I have a reading challenge on Goodreads. I always have at least one book on the go at all times, and read both physical books and kindle books. 


But I get so frustrated though with reading real books because I either end up using a scrap of paper as a bookmark or fold the corner (I know, I know). So this was the perfect excuse to sew up a bookmark!


As you can see, I haven't really mastered the art of embroidery, but I enjoyed making this nonetheless.


It is perfect for this book of short stories that I have borrowed from a colleague, "The Stone Mattress" by Margaret Atwood.

I struggle with putting in links when using my iPad, but to see what other entries there are on Le Challenge this month, the button is on my sidebar.

What are you reading?
Love Mrs Jones X


Sunday, 21 February 2016

Home: Kitchen Refresh

Our kitchen refresh is in progress. I still love the kitchen cabinets which still have some life in them yet, but the kitchen walls were looking pretty grim after six years, and I still haven't fixed any blinds up over the windows (don't worry, we are not overlooked)! I was toying with staying with a neutral palette but my husband talked me into going for something warmer, because the kitchen is north facing so doesn't get a lot of light. We selected Dulux Melon Sorbet in Kitchen + which is supposed to be easy to clean (and after a hot chocolate incident it has been so far, so good).

Here is the only "before" photo that I can currently locate, which was taken about a year ago after we bought our breakfast bar.

Kitchen: Before

As you can see, I am still working on getting the blinds: I have chosen pleated thermal blinds which are similar to Venetian blinds but have a honeycomb structure to keep it warm in winter but cool in summer. Much as I would love to go for a cream colour blind, with our cat, it seems more sensible to go for a charcoal tone.

Kitchen: After

The breakfast area: We originally had a small dining table here, but as we have a separate dining room, it wasn't really used. The breakfast bar is used all the time, from having a coffee and laptop session, to prepping food and building Lego. It has created a more sociable space for guests who can sit here and chat while we are cooking.



I love that our existing turquoise accessories go really well with the new paint. Below is the area of the kitchen that I would love to hide but would be impractical to. I am also still looking for a solution to stop all the splashes and scuffs on the wall behind the bin, possibly a piece of acrylic?


I would be lost without my meal planner whiteboard! It is one of the key ways in which I have reduced our household food budget (which is really another post entirely)!

Some of the features that I love in my kitchen
I still have to crack on with the linked utility room and order those blinds! We are hoping to refresh most of the downstairs this year.

Love Mrs Jones x



Sunday, 14 February 2016

Sewn: Cat Bed Cushion

My kitchen is currently having a facelift (more about that in another post) and is looking lovely and fresh. Unfortunately, the cushion that sits in the cat basket was really looking grim in the light of the redecoration - anyone with a semi long-haired cat will know just how much fur they shed! So, I whipped up a new cushion this morning. Is it mean to have used this caged bird fabric?


I always had a bit of a sticking point with round cushions in the past, but it came together quite nicely. This may have been because I used a round tray as a template.


I even used the automatic buttonhole function on my sewing machine (something else which I have struggled with in the past).



I did try to get Atticus to pose for me on his new cushion, but everything has to be on his terms! 

I am linking up with Le Challenge this month, because the theme is Round. Do check out what everyone else has been up to.
Le Challenge

Love
Mrs Jones X

Note: the elevated cat bed is from Pets at Home.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Walk: West Deane Way - Walk 3

Although it is lovely to drive out to the countryside and walk, there is something very satisfying about starting a walk from home without having to use the car. Today, I walked part of the West Deane Way walk 3 in the clockwise direction from Nynehead to Tonedale. I joined the trail at Wharf Cottage and extended the walk by returning in a circuit by roughly following the B3187.

West Deane Way Walk 3: Clockwise
Terrain: Muddy lanes, fairly flat. If you extend the walk into a circuit, it is even pavements but the second leg is mostly uphill.
Distance: 2 miles for Walk 3 (5.9km for my circular walk)
Time taken: 1 hour 20 minutes


Opposite Wharf Cottage are some interesting remains of Nynehead Lift which was part of the Grand Western Canal.



This is the view from the top of Nynehead Lift towards Nynehead Court. The walk continues into Long Copse.

The Highlights: It was lovely to see so many snowdrops along the hedgerows but there were none along the wooded lanes - maybe in a few weeks time.

The Lowlights: Unfortunately the walk ends at the sewage treatment plant at Tonedale, however if you are following the proper walk, you may wish to do an about turn before you go too near!!

Love Mrs Jones x

Note: This walk is part of the West Deane way which is a 50 mile circular route through Taunton Deane. For more information and links to all the maps, see here.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Patchwork: Plans 2016

I didn't get an awful lot of sewing done last year, but already have quite a few plans for this year.

Currently making...

I have started (finally) on a quilt using the Dashwood September Blue fat quarter stack that I have now had for too long.


So, the whole stack has been cut into rectangles ready for pairing together into squares which will have some white sashing between. My original plans were something with quite largescale pieces as the features prints are quite large, so my rectangles are 24cm x 12cm.


I am currently whizzing through the initial chain-piecing, and am hoping that it will be quite a quick and easy quilt.

Patchwork Plans 2016

I have recently discovered Freshly Pieced's blog and have a huge crush on this Moroccan Lanterns pattern:

Moroccan Lanterns PDF Pattern - Freshly Pieced Quilt Patterns - 1
Image Source: Freshly Pieced

I really want to get my hands on a copy of Nancy Purvis' book Quilting from Every Angle. Her quilts are modern and really fresh. I particularly like Fossil and Vertebrae.



I am also on the lookout for a raccoon quilt block - can anyone recommend one?

What are your patchwork and quilting plans for 2016?

Love Mrs Jones x