Sunday, 20 May 2012

Everything and nothing...

It's been a weekend of both terrible and fantastic news.
My parents came to visit too, and it was so lovely to see them: both bits of news reminded us of the value of family.
I have plans afoot and they are starting to feel real; it's exciting, and good to be excited.
We go to Florida in two days time and I can not wait to spend time with some of my favourite people, rest, plan and enjoy some glorious sun!
There is some post Florida excitement to look forward to too; and sadness, but we have one to offset the other and for that I am grateful.

I've not done any sewing....

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Starting the Smock

The lovely Mr S and I walked the dobe this afternoon, as they were spraying the crops in High Field.  We stayed well clear but, by 5 o'clock, were nursing headaches and trying not to fall asleep on the sofa.  My plans to make my Elizabethan smock seemed to be disappearing fast.  So, after a shower, dinner and restorative glass of red, I decided that it was time to do something.  Perhaps not the best idea in the world...

I had cut the pieces for the smock out a few days ago.  The first step was to sew the neck lining to the main panel.  Instantly it was obvious that it was too small.  The smock is supposed to just be visible above the neckline of kirtle; the manual says that sometimes they would go as far as two inches above the neckline, for modesty or decorative purposes. I'm sorry but, at the risk of ruining whatever reputation I may or may not have, I am not that modest!  Or that keen on giant bands of decoration.  I have no idea how the pattern was supposed to work; I checked it twice, plus the instructions for how to get the measurement and gave up trying to figure it out.  The neckline just had to be adjusted.

Proof that it's probably best not to sew when frustrated, headachey, tired and a half a glass of wine better off,  I trimmed the neckline to within half an inch of the outside edge of the lining... all the way around!  Oops, I should have only needed to do the neck and back edges, not the sleeves!

But I like the shape, and I'm feeling stubborn.  I decided to at least get the side gores and a sleeve in to see if it was even possible to continue.  If not, whilst I sit by the pool in Florida next week, I could have some more cotton lawn being delivered in the post.  The instructions for fitting the sleeves are "light" to say the least.  I discarded them, I can see the final shape that I'm going for, so decided to do my own thing and then fit it to Miss G instead.

You can see the faint line of the corset underneath.  I think that the smock neckline may still be a little too high, though there will be some room for manoeuvre on me (Miss G's bust to shoulder measurement is a little longer than mine).  I know, finally, when I'm done so I'm quitting for tonight; but I'm going to persevere and get at least one sleeve sewn in as finished; try it on with everything else, for a proper fitting and see what's what.  Here's hoping my rather grumpy gamble pays off! 

Monday, 14 May 2012

Kale and Onion Pizza

This my new most absolute favourite thing to eat; I'd even throw in an ironic "EVER!", all thanks again to Mr Fearnley Whittingstall.  I'm not good with doughs, but even I can manage this, so the whole pizza is made from scratch.  

Hugh and I agree, it seems, about many things, pizza dough being one of them; thin, light and crispy is the only way to go.  The dough recipe I follow faithfully and it really is as adaptable and freezable as he promises.  

With regards the topping, I've played with the quantities slightly.  Amounts are per pizza (one third of the dough) and serves 2-3 (2 in our house!)

1-2 tbsps oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
100-150gms curly kale
Sea salt and ground pepper 
Grated cheddar cheese

Heat the oil, add the onions and fry gently until well softened and starting to colour.  Add the kale; approximately two-thirds the amount of onion.  Cook for at least another 5 minutes, until the kale is well wilted.  Season well.  Spread over the pizza base and finely grate the cheese on top; until a shop-bought pizza, this does not want or need to be smothered in cheese.  It's a accompaniment, not the defining characteristic!

Put the pizza in a preheated, hot oven (min 220C, 250C if your oven goes that high) for 10-12 minutes.

And there you have it; 8 slices of crunchy, oniony, cheesy heaven on a perfectly crisp base. The kale is reminiscent of crispy fried seaweed that you get in Chinese restaurants (also a favourite of mine) and who doesn't love fried onions!

HFW's recipe has less onion, more kale and includes garlic.  I have made this a couple of times now and, as much as I love garlic, I don't like it with the kale.  I'm going to try versions with parmesan  and goats cheese.

Got to dip my toe in the PR pool again...

I loved my days in PR and marketing, as far as I was concerned it was the perfect blend of organising and creating; it was, in hindsight, the perfect job!  So I was delighted when, quite out of the blue last week, my boss asked for some help with the marketing for a charity project.  I was able to while away a couple of hours on a press release and the A4 leaflet above.  Nothing fancy (I wanted to keep it light and summery, with a nod to the waterside theme, and not leave people feeling too overwhelmed by the amount of text we needed to accommodate), but a break from the norm and, as it turns out, the inspiration for this blog's new colour scheme.  We're onto a FB page next, it will be a whole new adventure for the boss, who is not a fan of "unnecessary" tech :o).  He calls me "The Geek" and I refered to his 1990's Nokia (until it's sad demise earlier this year) as the Frankenphone, it was made up of so many refurbed parts... 

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Well it's done, i've moved!

I've moved... and I do hope it's worked and that you can all still see me :o)

In the meantime I've been cooking, more another day, and there's a little excitement to report; things look to be changing round here!  But, for now, it's late, the boyf is bored of looking at me frowning at my laptop and the 10yr old needs to go to bed as it's exam week from tomorrow and she needs all the sleep she can get.

Fingers and toes all firmly crossed!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

A whole new blog?

Things are changing round here... out with old etc. etc.

When I started this blog I tried too hard to have it look a certain way and, most importantly, find a great, snazzy, unforgettable name!  Luckily, sense won over on the looks pretty quickly but as for the name: I thought and thought and thought myself right back to square one, decided it was all too fussy and picked a "does what it says on the label" moniker.  Not that it hasn't done me in good stead the last couple of years, but it was a cop out and, now that we've both grown up and found our feet, I think it's time for a change.

Sitting with pen and paper ready, playing with all the combinations of favourite words, subjects, plays on my name etc. that I could think of, and rapidly being back in the same position I was two years ago, I knew I didn't want to be "deeply cool" (oh, to be on that list!) or aiming at a niche audience.  I just wanted to keep talking about the things that are important to me: what I'm making, the people (two and four-legged alike) who are important to me and, by default, a little about myself.  Lightbulbs! Eureka!... "make, me, mine".  A new name, and it's kinda cute in a hallmark card sort of way ;o)

Now I'm not entirely sure how to change my url without two years of posts going into an internet black hole; so whilst I figure that out, I'm playing with the new look and name.  As with all good things, someone's snapped up the .blogspot (though I can't find a corresponding blog, annoying!)  So, it could be that you will soon find me at either makesmemine.blogspot or makemeandmine.blogspot, I'm undecided.  Any other combination suggestions very welcome; and hints/tips on how to move without it all going horribly wrong!  In the meantime, if we look a little scruffy please bear with me whilst I work my way though the changes... and I hope you like the new look.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

It's Day Two in the house...

A year or so ago I made a couple of little pictures for the house.  The first was thanks to the dobe; she and I were going through a testing time.  She was of an age and temperament where a lead walk just wasn't enough, she needed to stretch her legs too.  Problem was, she would go charging off and not come back.  The boyf was away at the time (another gentlemen's jolly if I remember rightly!) and the 10yr old had shared her viral bug with me.  After an hour and half, with a temperature of 102F, of trying to coax her out of the middle of one of the paddocks, a neighbour eventually tempted her into his garden, with the promise of a Bonio or two, and we rugby tacked her under a bramble bush.  For a while she was stuck with lead walks only, until she remembered her manners, and I made myself a little reminder of how I needed to be, which still hangs by the coats and leads at the back door.

The second was a pictorial representation of our family.  I hangs in the bathroom and was meant to be the first in a grouping of pictures, which I have never got round to completing.  Sadly, it is now inaccurate and I do not have the heart to delete the members of our extended family who we've lost this last year.  It seemed better to remove it entirely but I have been unsure of what to put up there.

Then an old friend from HK, who I've happily reconnected with, thanks to Facebook, posted some pictures of her lovely house and the collections of pictures that she has hung throughout.  One of my jobs for this weekend was to touch up the paint in the bathroom and it got me thinking. So today I decided to rifle through the spare picture frames that I have (I really can't throw anything away!) and see if there wasn't something that I could do in the bathroom.  


I planned to use only what I had in the house, but broke my own rule by £7.99 as I couldn't resist another inducement to "Keep Calm" and love the addition of a splash of red in the room.  It is hung with two picture boxes; one of which holds a pearl heart that I have had hovering about in need of a home for years.  Above them is a very special picture frame, one of a pair that my great grandfather hand-carved.  In it I put a peony that used to sit on a pot pouri cushion, given to me by my mother.  The dobe damaged the cushion and I didn't have the heart to throw the peony out.  Finally, I added a couple of things that I printed myself: a copy of the Holstee Manifesto, though this needs to be printed again, in a smaller size; and an instruction to "Bee Happy" featuring a Victorian illustration of a lovely big bumble bee.  It's too small a room to take a decent picture, but it gives the room quite a different feel and I'm pleased with my efforts... with thanks to K for the inspiration.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

A new chair from old

With the boyf away, I've decided to get a few of the more creative jobs, around the house, that I have wanted to do done.  Most only require one pair of hands and I had the 10yr old till 2pm, so in a sleep-deprived moment of inspiration (madness?) I decided to teach her how to recover a chair.  The armchair in the living room to be precise, the dobe having caught enough of the chenille with her claws to leave in need of a makeover.

Quite by accident, we bought a gorgeous grey, taupe and black leaf print tweed chenille.  Quite different to anything else in the living room, but there are enough hints of grey and black around the room that we'll be able to pull everything together with some new cushions and rug.  It is the only room in the house where everything was chosen to wok with the original colour scheme, it's nice to flex my decorating muscles a little and start to create something new. 

I love recovering chairs; it's a little like a 3D jigsaw, deciding which bits to sew, when and where. We cut each section as rough squares or rectangles; pinned them round the form of the chair, sewed each section, checked it and moved on.  I have never been a huge fan of this armchair, it was a necessity purchase that the boyf and I have always intended to replace with an antique leather armchair, when the right one comes along.  As we worked on it, it was lovely to notice, for the the first time, the curve of the arms as they come round the back of the chair, the matching curve at the base of the front panel; it is actually quite an elegant little chair, it's elegance hidden behind the rather fussy stripes.

The 10yr old has developed a talent for accents, combined (thanks to my father's side of the family) with a happy and humorous ability to play the fool.  The afternoon was punctuated with lots of "Miss Scarlett"'s and "Ooh Rhett!"s: Southern Belle is her new favourite and in an attempt to steer her away from teen Disney, I introduced her to a little Gone with the Wind.  Three quarters of the way through we needed an extra yard of fabric, no bad thing as we'd decided that we also needed to recover the blind that sits directly above the chair!  The existing blind, one of a (happily, already mismatched) pair was too yellow and a too thin faux silk that I never liked.  We went shopping again.

The armchair is meant to be the boyf's man chair... in reality it's the dobe's chair.  

At first, she waited as patiently as possible on the sofa,

before trying to lend a hand!

It took just over 5 hours in the end to finish the chair; including lots of hoovering (the fabric frayed with abandon), an episode of Glee whilst we ate scrambled eggs and numerous cups of tea. It seems to have met with Megs' approval, though the Union Jack cushion will have to go.

Finally, I recovered the blind.  I cheated and simply laid the new fabric over the old, turned in the edges to meet the lining, pinned and slipstitched them in place and then attached the new top layer to the other layers by tacking through all three layers at the points where the rings sit.  It was down, redone and back up in less than an hour.  I'm now eyeing up the other blind as I sit here typing, pondering cushion colours and wondering when we might get the wooden floor laid and a rug down.  But for now, a tired and tatty armchair and a pretty ugly, pointless blind are all better, and for only £70.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Beads and trims

My black glass pearl beads arrived and I am, it seems, not good at judging either size or quantity!  Luckily, the size, whilst smaller than my 'two fingers held apart just so guesstimate', is perfect.  And you can always order more, which I did, plus some lovely looking burnt orange beads too, cos they were there, and looked pretty, and are still amazingly cheap, you can never have enough beads and will always find something to do with them... yes, I am randomly shopping... did I mention that the boyf is off on a last minute boys (Bank Holiday, no less) weekend to Alicante? I need something to keep me occupied whilst he's vacationing ;o)

Once the orange beads arrive, I will try mixing them with the black ones for the other two strands of the necklace; the black only is a too stark a contrast to the middle strand.

In the meantime, I have also started to play with the bugle beads; stitching them to the organza ribbon, mixing the colours (a peachy tinted silver, off white, deep yellow, red and chocolate brown) randomly.  I made a test piece approx 4" long.  It's a pig to do, small, fiddly and prone to twisting; I learnt to stop fighting it and embrace the "flow"!  It doesn't suit as a bilament to the front of the gown, but more and more I don't think that I'll need it and I am so in love with my orange damask, it seems a shame to keep finding things to cover it up.  I can imagine it working very well as a bilament for the front of the French Hood though; mixed with some of the glass beads for continuity.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

I've been worrying about my dobegirl...

who me?
she seems very quiet and sleepy of late.  The boyf comments on her perfect dogness and I worry, as all mother's do, that there may be something behind it.  This afternoon we discussed taking her to the vet for a check up and as I took her for her evening walk I decided to head back up to High Field, one of her favourite running spots, so she how she was and if I was being paranoid.

As she tore up the hill and kangarooed through the corn, I decided that I'm probably being paranoid! But a check up wouldn't hurt and I don't think there can be anything seriously wrong.

I, on the other hand, all creaking joints and ragged breath could do with being in one of those futuristic worlds where all I need to do is press a button, pop a pill or step into a glass cylindrical gadgety-thingy and suddenly my slightly more worn bodily bits would miraculously be brand-spanking, shiny new!
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