Thursday, 30 June 2011

Creative Space

This thursday I am working on my second baby quilt... (which, I admit, looks pretty similar to the first) and am thinking of giving it curved corners for binding ease. Is that wise people who are better at quilting than me??
Also, to those same people, I covered a bad sewing type hole in the quilt by sewing on a felt heart, is that wrong? it's probably not going to wash well is it? sigh.x

Alongside this am working on a quilt for bert. I'd like to get it done by mid august.... I keep making mistakes on it and having to unpick....

(other people have been making lots of wonderful things - go to our creative spaces to have a look)


The material I ordered from peachy vintage arrived yesterday and I love it... I kinda wish I'd bought more, or at least bigger pieces...

Frantic Transmissions to and from Los Angeles by kate Braverman

'You want to leave Los Angeles?  What are you, crazy? 
You got a place to stay with a roof.  You don't need an overcoat here.
The whole world wants to come to L.A. and you want to leave?'

'The woman, call her Suzanne, had insisted during our one conversation over lunch at the edge of a glacier that I take a helicopter in, actually land and touch ice in the process of calving. 
When I hesitated, she arranged the expensive transportation and sat next to me. 
Suzanne claimed the range of blues in a calving field would be like a private tattoo,
an intricate weaving to wear permanently engraved on the fibers of my inner skin. 
For this invisible ink, she remains with me.'


I bought some samphire. I've seen it being used on tv and then there it was in the supermarket so I had to try it. I love it's name... samphire... samphire... like a mixture of sapphire and, um, just regular fire. For those who don't know (according to the packet) it's a 'sea plant that grows mainly on tidal marshes. It has vibrant green stalks with a distinctive crisp texture and a characteristic saltiness.'  I've tried it raw and really it just tastes like you would imagine seaweed would taste - it has an almost jelly like centre and is pretty salty, and I am not 100% sure that I like it.  Apparently you can boil it slightly and eat it with butter like a fishy asparagus... I will give it a go. Anyone got any samphire tips that don't involve eating it with fish?

Herby couscous

I liked this, though that Bert was not so keen - he complained about the raw spring onions in it, and actually they were a little bit strong. Otherwise it has lime juice, peas, parsley and toasted sesame seeds. I thought it was nice and fresh and ate it with baby tomatoes and potato salad.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

vegan couscous salad

It's hot today. So hot you need a roasted vegetable couscous salad chilling in the fridge.

I made it at lunch time and had it slightly warm... and then popped it in the fridge and had it it with sweetcorn and bread for dinner.

Bert combined his couscous with baked beans, tempeh and vegan cheese.

Bert said it was the best couscous ever so I think it would be wrong not to share.

I roasted sweet potatoes, shallots and a red pepper with a drizzle of olive oil. For the couscous I just popped some in a bowl and covered with boiling water and put a plate on top of the bowl to absorb all the steam.  Once all the water was absorbed I fluffed it all up with a fork and put in a little vegan butter, salt and lemon juice. Usually that would be all on the couscous front, but as I had some toasted sesame seeds and fried tofu left over from yesterday's sushifest, so I added them too (and some black onion seeds for good measure).  Once the vegetables were roasted I added them to the couscous as well as a generous handful of chopped fresh parsley. Perhaps you could drizzle a touch more olive oil on before serving, or perhaps you could just eat it watching Star Trek, like we did.

Dave Eggers

I think I've mentioned my Eggers love before...and here I go again.

As well as writing fabulous books, Eggers also makes his books look amazing. Visit McSweeney's to see all the beautiful books and the wonderful wonderful McSweeney's Quarterly.

'You Shall Know our Velocity' was Eggers's followup to the massive success that was 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius'. I think I loved You Shall Know our Velocity (or YSKV) even more than AHWSG. Look at the cover! the book actually starts on the cover...

A few years later, the same book was brought out with a different cover (the book on the left in the picture) and also had an insert from another character in the book.

Eggers's most recent book is Zeitoun which came out in 2010 in the UK and is a non-fiction book about Hurricane Katrina and it's effects on one family. It's really wonderful, but also quite shocking and sad and was one of the best books I read last year (it would have been the best book I read last year, but Patti Smith went and wrote 'Just Kids' and no one else stood a chance).

Finished Baby Quilt!

Ok, so it's taken a while, and I feel I've dragged it out a bit, but I've finally finished the baby quilt!!  Here are the finished photos and then we don't have to talk about it again.xx
(the corners of the binding are shocking. I need to work on that)

Vegan Sushi

If people were eating vegan sushi in the 1970s this is what it would have looked like. I love making sushi, it's not hard to do but there's a bit of preparing and you need all the right ingredients.

Sushi rice takes only about 10 minutes to cook and then you add a bit of sugar and rice wine vinegar. I roasted the peppers (although they are also good raw), boiled and mashed sweet potato and added sweet chili and sesame oil and fried tofu in sesame oil with soy sauce. Then you just have to assemble them - nori sheet down first, spread thinly with the rice and then add the middle bit, roll and slice! I also toasted some sesame seeds too and added them to some of the rolls.

Serve with soy sauce, ginger and wasabi paste. So, so good, healthy and filling.

To counteract the healthy I also made marbled cupcakes.

They are marbled (vanilla and chocolate) with a vanilla buttercream. For the first time I piped the icing on and it looked amazing for about 2 minutes and then melted... I think it was because their was heat coming from the oven rather than the cakes still being warm. 

Saturday, 25 June 2011

New Fabric!

argh! look at this gorgeous fabric from Fabric Rehab.  I love it. Bert chose and ordered them for me, so it was a surprise when I opened them this morning. I think my favourite is the blue one with the birds.

Friday, 24 June 2011

quilts and coffee

Is there anything nicer than reading craft and cookery books while drinking coffee? (I'm talking in the small scheme of things)

I got 'For the Love of Food' by Dennis Cotter and 'Material Obsession Two' by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke, and thread and 'Cloth' magazine and a caramal soya latte.

I felt bad about Sadie today, because I was sewing all day, and everytime I got my quilt out she just had to sit on it and then I had to move her. I'm really sorry Sadie!

oh, and as I have spent most of today hand sewing the binding on my quilt and I have blisters on my fingers, I want everyone to know, that if they buy a quilt, however much they spend on it, it is not enough. Quilting is hard work!! I am determined to finish it tomorrow.x

I got engaged!

Yes I did! I have a ring and everything....

this is not my hand hand is dumpier and yellower....

this is my hand... and my funny face.

and here we are! I was feeling a bit anxious, excited and sick at this point which resulted in some crazy behaviour, Bert is probably wondering what he has done, although he denies this.x

(oh, should mention that my ring is from Victorian Spirit Rings)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Weekend Plans

My weekend is starting tomorrow and these are the plans!
  • Finish binding my baby quilt
  • Make Vegan Sushi

  • Make Cupcakes
  • Shopping - I need thread and maybe some linen.
  • Read craftbooks. (I have ordered some new ones and hope they turn up tomorrow)
  • hang out with sadie and bert
  • Read magazines and books
  • Make pizza
and that's it.x


Oh my, today has been a bit of a challenge... i've been at work and had stomach cramps and there was drilling into concrete outside my office ALL DAY. I was feeling kinda rubbish (am at home now with red wine and gilmore girls and a cuddly warm sadie-cat, so all is right with the world), so rather than do work where I had to think I did reading and researching instead and wrote notes to myself that went something like - coffee playdough, lightbox, waterbeads...

I found this great post on teacher tom about taking risks as a child. I love this bit:

And it goes beyond physical risk taking. Now is the time to practice performing or speaking in front of an audience (generally listed by Americans as a fear greater than death),now is the time to learn about being accepted and rejected by friends, now is the time learn to deal with disappointment, fear, and even death. Our job as adults is to not help children avoid these things, but rather to help them stop for a moment, assess the risks, plan for the potential consequences, eliminate the unnecessary risk, mitigate the inherent risk, and then pick themselves up, brush themselves off, and get on with their lives of doing.

And then reading Teacher Tom led me on to a new school opening in San Francisco in September called Brightworks which looks amazing.... I loved this post about how important :it is for the teachers (or collaborators are they are called) to get to know the children:

people often don’t find that sense of support from an adult or mentor who knows them well until they get to college or even grad school. Teachers are unable to spend time really getting to know students on a deeply personal level and understand their strengths and weaknesses simply because they have to manage a classroom of twenty to thirty students with intense amount of pressure from standardized tests and curriculum demands.

In my job I am really aware of this, and would really like to get to know the children who visit my sessions more and also to employ a more Montessori approach (as I've mentioned before).  I don't really know how to go forward with this though, as the sessions I run are mainly drop-in and although there are some children who come to the sessions again and again, a lot of them I will just meet that once. Also there are a lot of children (on average about 70 a day, although can be as much as 170 a day - and they are there with their parents so it's not like I have to look after them, but I often feel I could, or would llike to do more) and just one of me... I do know that I can't expect to be like a Montessori school and that the drop in art and craft sessions I run are a different kind of thing, but I would like to have more of that Montessori 'feel' and ethos to them. An impossible task? ha, perhaps. anyone got any tips?

I also came across play at home mom blog too which has lots of great stuff on. All the pictures I have used in this post are from there.x

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


I remember Dallas being on in the 80s but I was definitely not allowed to watch it (Bert says his mum used to make him watch Dallas with her..).  My Grandma and Grandad were big fans of the programme, and I remember if we were round at their house when it came on we had to leave the room.

Anyway, the dvds were re-released not long ago and Bert bought the first season for his mum for Christmas. It seems Berts mum was not that keen on re-living the 80s, so we, um, took it back.  I am super glad we did though, because how awesome is Dallas??  I love JR and I love Pamela and I very much love the crazy plots.

I Married a Witch

We watched this film tonight! It was so lovely and sweet and funny.  A perfect film to watch around the Summer Solstice!  It's from 1942 and as you can see from this poster also stars Robert Benchley who was one of Dorothy Parker's buddies at the Algonquin Round Table....

More Material

I ordered these fabulous fabrics from peachy vintage.  I just love the 'I love you' one, and it's in orange and brown too! totally made for bert's quilt  (see image below for a reminder!)

It would be great if that 'I Love You' fabric could be used for the backing, but there was only a fat quarter available which wouldn't be enough. What I thought I'd do though is just use it as it is and mix and match large pieces of fabric for the back.

In other quilt news, I am struggling a little with the binding on the baby quilt.... it's trickier than I thought.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Happy Midsummer!

So it's the longest day and you better watch out for faeries too as the veil between the our world and faerie world is thinnest today (although keep them sweet by offering herbs, milk and shiny things!). It's a fire and water festival - ritual baths and bonfires for super cleansing powers, and a great time to pick magical and medicinal plants.  It's a good day for divination too, so you may be able to find out what is going to happen in the near future or who you are going to marry.

Hurray! Happy summer solstice.x


Last night on BBC4 there was a great documentary about relics to tie in with the exhibition Treasures of Heaven that opens at the end of the month in the British Museum.

This 14th century reliquary holds a thorn supposedly from Christ's crown of thorns.  (Actually, Bert has just said that I wasn't listening to the programme properly and he think's it contains slivers of bone, and the image below contains the thorn - which Sarah pointed out too. Oop! I am a distracted tv watcher...)

I can't remember what this one held, but it's so beautiful.  I think I am going to have to go and see the exhibition, there are also lots of talks going on, one with Grayson Perry and Marina Warner which I don't think I can miss.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Vegan Cookbooks

I have lots of vegan cookbooks, some vegetarian and some carnivorous (eep, but sometimes it's easier to veganise meaty dishes than it is to veganise vegetarian ones... lots of vegetarian books are just cheese crazy! ).

These are the books I tend to use the most:

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero is what I check when I think, 'huh, how do I make guacamole?' (or somesuch recipe) and it's pretty much always in there. It is packed full of recipes, but not many photos (and the photos they do have look a bit 70s food-ish), and has a great friendly style and it's got lots of basics and explanations for different vegan foods and oils and so on.  It's a really good book to have around...sometimes if I look something up in it and it's  not there, it's usually because it's in Moskowitz's previous book....

...Vegan with a Vengeance.  I like the pizza dough recipe in this one, and the scrambled tofu. Of course it has loads more good stuff in it and a nice clear design, but sadly no pictures.

Vegan Cupcakes take over the World by isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero is a lovely book and it has pretty pictures too! hurray! at last! I am not much of a baker, but I have made vanilla cupcakes and coffee cupcakes with a great deal of success! I also bought myself a piping bag about 3 months ago but still haven't plucked up the courage to use it. One day I will try the more fancy looking cakes at the back of the book....

Vegan Yum Yum by Lauren Ulm is also a very lovely book with delicious photographs taken by the author. The recipes in here are comfort foody and I love to make the weekend pancakes, corn fritters, breakfast sandwiches, and her mac and cheese. It's lovely food and easy recipes, but I wouldn't cook from it everyday.

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone is super healthy with a macrobiotic bent. I like it because it's not the kind of food I usually eat, and it has recipes that sound kinda dull (brown rice with olive oil, fresh tomatoes, salt and pepper for example) but are really delicious. It also has lots of information about animal rights and Alicia's lifestyle.  I haven't made lots of recipes from it yet (but flicking through it to write this post I want to make lots more),but I love the tofu 'egg' salad sandwiches and the rice dishes and I'm going to be cooking more from it.

I've mentioned Nonna's Italian Kitchen by Bryanna Clark Grogan before, and I love the fritatta's in it, the Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and bean broth) and the fact that there is everything you would need to know about Italian cooking in it.

What are your favourite cookbooks?


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