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Exams and essaying are over, so the sewing ban has been lifted! I’ve almost gone straight from uni work back into working at the nursery most of the time, and I have a new job now too. This month (and hopefully beyond) I’m nannying for a lovely little girl called Astrid. She’s two, and to coin a phrase from my co-workers, she’s lush.

Before I went back I had a little trip over to Watercress cottage, and dear Gods it was just so lovely. It’s a grey, cloudy day in the city of Bristol, so I shall take a moment to share some bright, sunny, green photographs to make you all jealous with the sheer beauty of the cottage;

I’m still at it with the art journalling. I’m trying to teach myself watercolour, and I think the technique will come with practise. The paper in my journal isn’t amazing for it, but it does the job so I must fight my art supplies perfectionism for now. Of course a beautiful weekend wouldn’t be complete without some theraputic just-finished-exams baking, so we made the ultimate easy-peasy yet show-off pudding, a lattice topped apple pie.

Something about the summer makes me want to make pastry, which is ironic really considering pastry likes a cold kitchen and cold hands, nothing like sun warmed skin to make flaccid pastry. It’s just so indulgent, when you can buy perfectly good pastry from the shops. This time last year I was making apple turnovers for the panto picnic, and the year before that, well…

What was it they said in ‘Treasure Island’ about strawberry tart?

Dr. Lively- “I’d like to enquire about the tart?”

Rosmerta- “I’ll have you know that under this buxom exterior beats the heart of a shy and delicate flower!”

It’s not like panto-themed baked goods are a rare thing, either. I believe that a certain Mr. Stone has been baking Dobbin coloured muffins, and of course the Panto League of Englishmen enjoyed afternoon tea, complete with Ellie and Olivia’s Dobbin cupcakes! I love these so much.

My own contribution was not quite so colourful. I went with the basic vanilla cupcakes from ‘Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World’ with lemon buttercream frosting. They went very well with my best china teacups and that horribleĀ  tasteful plate Helena and Nat got me for my birthday.

And on a completely unrelated topic, since this is supposed to be a craft blog after all, whilst at Watercress I went to their church flower festival, and I got this book for 50p;

It’s so seventies! I love it! It’s not very helpful in terms of how to actually do patchwork, it’s more about frame quilting, but I’m very inspired by the grandmother’s flowergarden thing it’s got going on.

Look at those beautiful hexes! I love how they’ve cut the fabric so the pattern goes with the flower shape. I don’t have the patience for that and it must create a lot of wastage but it looks really cool. I’m all keen to get on with own hexes project again. I’d been stuck on it for a while- hand peicing takes such a long time! I sewed and sewed for a whole year and I have about a square metre worth of quilt so far. Plus I’m getting a bit sick of the colours I chose. Washed out blues and purples isn’t really doing it for me any more. After seeing this I think it might be fun to do an equal number of hex flowers in warm colours and alternate them on an off-white background a bit like the one above. It depends how I feel, if I want to make this a double. I might as well, since I’m not going to hand peice another quilt in my life, I don’t think. We’ll see. I have forty hex flowers now, which is a whole lot.

Getting there one hexagon at a time. Peace x

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This is what made me late for work this morning.

Speaking of work, on our third trip to that toilet that hour, a dear little girl looks up at me and tells me “I weewee all the time.” And I’m not too tired to laugh out loud because she really, really does.

So I’m loving; trying to decorate a ten foot christmas tree with the help of a two-foot toddler on my shoulders, the smell of the pine and my own tree waiting in the sitting room, taking time to art journal, carol services by candlelight, the clean and tidy(ish)ness of the house, going to bed at 10.30, Bonnie Prince Billy and the Barefoot Doctor.

Red riding hood's basket

Pumpkins

Fireworks

It’s been a while, mostly due to the absence of internet. My favourite time of the year has just flown by. Little Red Riding Hood went out for hallowe’en, into the woods barefoot for her Samhain, alone with the moon and the trees and the tide on the Avon just turning. She had a basket full of super-cool pumpkins, carved to scare ofd the spirits. Bristol is a treat to look at at night, but fireworks make it better. Grab some friends and some blankets and groundsheets, get a candle in a lantern and a flask of tea and just sit and go “ooh, ahh”, go to the pub then have mulled wine and play games in the dark. Have a zen sunday, have a few zen sundays sewing and sitting around, with so many friends that i didn’t know were artists.

And big big big news. I am a waged woman! I now work full-time at Clifton Tots Nursery, on the toddler floor. We have about twenty 18 months to 3 year-olds, and it’s as chaotic as that sounds, in a good way. I am so, so happy and grateful to have this job. I knew my right job would come to me in time, that I am exactly where I need to be, but it can get hard to believe. Yes I was waiting unemployed for a long long time of stress and interviews but it was because of this one coming alone. It’s so affirming, when what you are waiting for arrives. My tao is so good to me, even if I can’t explain this concept to many people it’s still my truth.

“Some people don’t understand when I say these are the things I believe” Damh the Bard
Peace and a blessed Samhain for those who celebrated x

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Look! Beautiful patterns! Autumn is here and I am in full-on nesting mode, tidying out my room and sewing like demon. This is the quilt cover I got from Chris and Jan for my birthday, it’s from Ikea. I just love this pattern and the way these colours work with the crocheted blanket I got from my Grandma Sylve. I won’t say too loudly but I do get a bit tired of green sometimes. Sometimes. Rarely. The new bed cover makes my whole room far brighter, which is nice for winter. I think with the blanket it’s a bit folksy-gypsy, which is great.

new sheets

My lovely nest šŸ™‚ Perfect for hibernating through the Winter.

And I got a sewing assignment from my beloved Electro-Faerie, to make her a pencilcase! She’s so much fun to make stuff for and she gave me a bag of really beautiful wool felt because she isn’t using it. Bliss! It was nice to use neon colours for her as well. (I’ve made her other stuff like a tutu and legwarmers, maybe I should post them too some time in the interest of cataloguing stuff I’ve made this year?) The only suggestion I got was to include a dinosaur, so I did. The background shows the lining fabric I used;

Dinosaur backDinosaur front

I sewed that last night but I still had itchy fingers, so I made some teeny tiny hexagons and turned them into a little flower brooch. Also loving these new colours from new quilter’s weight cotton that I bought from Rugby with my birthday money. How I love small versions of big things!

red hex brooch

Peace x

You may notice the header has changed. You see, I was planning to take a picture of Charlie, the original cat who walks by himself, but I went home to find that dear Charlie has passed away. He will be greatly missed by all of us, most especially his brother Oscar whom he has been with since they were born. So in the mean time there’s the rag rug as a header because it has pretty colours to cheer me up. I may update here if I can find a nice picture of Charlie and it doesn’t seem too morbid.

Well, I am now proudly 21 years of age. The cupcake party was a big success šŸ™‚ I’ve been wanting an excuse to try some of the more involved recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World for some time and this was the perfect reason!

So without further ado;

Blackberry

Plain

Chocolate stout

Pistachio and rosewater

Sara's

Mint choc chip

In no particular order; blackberry cupcakes, plain chocolate and vanilla, chocolate and stout (you heard me right!), pistachio and rosewater, some made by the lovely Sara G. which I think were chocolate with coffee icing, and mint choc. chip. I really need a flickr account so I can go show off on the “Vegan cupcakes” pool.

More vegan cooking news, for my birthday Mr. Paul got me this;

vegan brunch

Vegan Brunch! Yeah!

… only, don’t click for more info. I stole the picture from theppk.com (which is awesome for recipes by the way) I am very excited about this indeed. We do brunch in a big way around here. Usually Sara hosts, but we’ve had it here at Chez Grelanie too and it’s always fun to get some pantoĀ people together in the morning with some coffee and some pancakes and some pictionary.

I don’t know if I’m going to get the omnis eating scrambled tofu any time soon though… To be honest I don’t know if I’m going to get myself eating scrambled tofu any time soon. The idea always seemed a bit ming to me, partially because I don’tĀ usually go in for “trying to perfectly replicate totally non-vegan foods.” Faking a bit of sausage hereĀ and there, or substituting marg. and soya milk is one thing, but eggs are eggs and I’m not sure I want to try them with tofu. I may have to eat theseĀ bloggy words when I do try it, but that’s my final word for now.

[EDIT]- Wait, sorry, I have totally eaten scrambled tofu. It was a bit ming or at least such a non-event that I erased it from my memory. But the point still stands.

In all seriousness however, there are some exciting recipes in there. Peirogies, which are aparently little russian pie-type things, look fun. And lots of muffin recipes that make twelve muffins! Yes! All the vegan muffin recipes I’ve found make ten. Which is annoying because a pan holds twelve muffins (and twelve is the best number in the world, which is why I like sewing hexagons so much and why I like cupcakes so much but we won’t go into that) so I’m pleased. And there’s a recipe for cinnamon rolls that looks good.

I’ve done cinnamon rollsĀ  twice before, for one of Sara’s Brunches.Ā I used the recipe here; http://veganyumyum.com/2009/05/perfect-cinnamon-buns/Ā  Don’t get me wrong, they turned out really yummy… but. Well, a few buts. They’re pretty complicated to make (I did the overnight rising which made it worse), created mounds of washing up and kitchen mess and the batch ofĀ twelve (yay!) of them contained a WHOLE CARTON of pure. SoĀ each roll was a TWELTH of a carton of margarine. It may be happy no-cholesterol margarine but still the idea of having that muchĀ fat in one rollĀ freaks me out a bit. IĀ put that much in aĀ WHOLE BATCH of cookies. Less than that to iceĀ aĀ batch ofĀ cupcakes. Jesus Christ and other baking deities!Ā It’s not that I’m against that much fat and sugar in my baking, it’s just that if I use that muchĀ I want it to taste like it. Like an actual bakinggasm. These were ok, pretty nice and moist and sweet, but not Oh My Gods good, if you know what I mean…

… phew… sorry [/baking rant]

Suffice to say I’m excited to see if there is a better way that seems to involve only a third of a cup and some oil in the dough. I think I’ll make these on Sunday. Though not for any kind of formal Brunch because we hosted the last one and my party after that, and I am “catering for large gatherings-ed out”

Oh on a brunch note, Sam got up and made Nat, Helena, Paul and I vegan brunch complete with hashbrowns and fried bread.Ā  When we were all hung over. Because he is a beautiful angel boy. And now I can repay the favour with homemade hash browns.

Sam is lovely. And he got me some lovely presents even though he’d already go me a present which I’m not allowed to show you because you don’t show people your underwear on the internet. Unless it’s for money. And I bet none of you guys have any money. But look at the love;

Gifts

He got me a plant-wax candle and a box and some fabric and some hotel chocolat stuff (yum!) I can’t get over the pure happiness of this present. I haven’t sewn with it yet. I like to just carress its brocade, awe at the real gold and silver thread that makes it weigh so nicely in your fingers, and those luscious autumn colours. My dear Sam knows me so well- craft materials make me crazy happy.

And that package from Sita! The brown paper one with the leaf, I just love it so much. It contains a purse shaped like and owl, and a hair grip, but I just had to wrap it up again because it looked so gorgeous. I’m seriously considering wrapping all my christmas gifts this way, just in brown paper with glue. Embellished with the most beautifully coloured leaves and a little bronze decoration. It’s so rustic and pure and un-tacky, it makes me smile. Than you a lot a lot Sita if you’re reading this.

Now, here’s something I’ve been waiting to post for a while. I am taking the Hundred Books in a Year challenge. Can I get a fanfare or something. Basically it’s just what it sounds like. I got the idea from a the red forum *wink nudge* and changed the rules a little bit. It doesn’t have to be a novel. Audiobooks count. Plays count. Rereads count. It just has to be read all the way through.

Here’s my list, most recent in bold. (R) means it’s a re-read.

‘The Bonesetter’s Daughter’- Amy Tan
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’- Margaret Atwood.
‘Writing home’- Alan Bennett
‘Choke’- Chuck Palahniuk
‘The Sea Priestess’- Dion Fortune Ā®
‘Shantaram’- Gregory David Roberts
‘The Earthsea Quartet’ (Four books)- Ursula LeGuin
‘On the Road’- Jack Kerouac
‘The Dharma Bums’-Jack Kerouac
‘A Game of Thrones’- George R. R Martin
‘Everything but the truth’- short stories by Christopher Macpherson
‘Bone Island’- Christopher Macpherson
‘The story of O’- Pauline Reage
‘Perfume’- Patrick Suskind
‘Netherland’- Joseph Oneill
‘Twelve minutes’- Paulo Coelho
‘Brida’- Paulo Coelho
‘Veronica Decides to Die’- Paulo Coelho
‘The 11.11 code’- (Can’t remember. It was pretty bad anyway)
‘P.S I love you’- Cecilia Ahern
‘Wicked’- Gregory Maguire
‘Son of a Witch’- Gregory Maguire
‘The Power of Now’ Eckhart Tolle
‘Bitten’- Kelley Armstrong
‘Stolen’- Kelley Armstrong
‘No humans involved’- Kelley Armstrong
‘Wintersmith’- Terry Pratchett Ā®
‘Wierd Sisters’- Terry Pratchett Ā®
‘The Wild Duck’- Ibsen
‘Hedda Gabler’- Ibsen
‘Death of a Salesman’- Miller
‘Broken Glass’- Miller
[b]’Secret Diary of a London Call Girl’- Belle de Jour
‘Cat Magic’- Whitley Streiber
‘White Teeth’- Zadie Smith
‘Twilight’- Stephanie Meyer
‘Ravenheart’- David Gemmel
‘The Last Guardian’- David Gemmel
‘Manifesto’- Barefoot Doctor
‘Dragonquest’ Anne Mccaffrey
‘Dragonsdawn’- Anne Mccaffrey
‘Dolphins of Pern’- Anne Mccaffrey
‘Dragon’s Fire’- Anne Mccaffrey
‘Dragon Harper’- Anne Mccaffrey
‘Wicked Words, A Black Lace Short Story Collection’- Ed. Kerri Sharp
‘Interview with the Vampire’- Anne Rice
‘Faeries’- Brian Froud and Alan Lee
”New Moon’- Stephanie Mayer
‘Renegades of Pern’- Anne MccAffrey
‘Snuff’- Chuck Palhanuik
‘The girl who heard dragons, and other short stories’- Anne Mccaffrey
‘Last Chance to See’- Douglas Adams
‘Wolf’- Anne Rice(R)
‘Junk’- Anthony Burgess
‘Dime Store Magic’- Kelley Armstrong
‘Subtle Aromatherapy’-Patricia Davies

I’m really tired so there may be repeats there in copying across from the forum. I make it to be about 60 but I’ll count again in the morning. Am I going to make 100 by the New Year? I doubt it, but it’s still possible. Gimme thatĀ teenage fiction I can swallow without chewing! Yeah! Actually thinking about it, I didn’t start this until March, so maybe I can have until March next year. I’ll see how things are going.

Anyway I shall leave you with a little sample of my domestic goddess-ness. Pea soup and herb-poppyseed rolls fresh from the oven.

Peace x

Pea soup and herb rolls

(what do you have for lunch? Pea green soup. What did you have for dinner? Pea green soup. What did you do all night? Pea green soup :P)

I just want to say thanks to all of the people who have said ‘Oh I read your blog’ because I didn’t think anyone read it apart from me and the odd internet-friend who I wanted to show a sewing thing. Um, wow. I feel very loved.

Ā Anyway I’m just going to dump some pictures of finished projects that I did ages ago.

Ragrug

This is the rag rug I’ve been sewing for more than a year. It’s madeĀ  mostly of old tshirts and some scrap fabric. I actually finished it last summer, but I wasn’t happy with it at all because I pulled it too tight as I sewed and it became like a basket so it didn’t lie flat. Long story short, it bothered me so much I just had to pick thewhole thing apart and do it again from scratch. Time well spent since I watched the whole of Gravitation on DVD while I did it (my love of this obscure-ish shounen-aiĀ  is a story for a whole other post, however. And another view of the living room. I feelĀ like I’m cheating to say I “made” this wall-hanging. I hemmed fabric and put sticks through it and I like it a lot. Got to love the very hungry catterpillar.

Very hungry catterpillar

And an english paper peicing update- we have flowers!

Hex flowers progress

pile of hexes

I love how the different fabrics in the centre make the eight base fabrics look completely different. I feel a bit bad for having favourites*, but I think I like this one the best;

peacock hexes

Just look at it! Look at the peacock!

The title is dedicated to Paul. There was a felaf-fail at the weekend. Sam and I decided to make our own felafels at the weekend, using this recipe; http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2589/spicy-falafels. And, well, it failed. We decided to deep fry them, but the moment they hit the hot oil they broke up into little blobs. We tried doing them in the frying pan instead, and all was well until we tried to flip them over, upon which they collapsed into crumbley, slightly burned mush. Here you go Mr. Paul, here’s a picture for you before we tried to flip them;

Felaf-fail

I can only apologise for the ugliness of the photograph. Maybe it I hide it here between more pretty ones then noone will notice. I’m trying to improve my photography skills, but not with much success.

*Why? Why do I feel bad about having favourites? They’re hexagons, it’s not I’m not going to hurt thier feelings!Ā  But I want to value them equally, because each unique patch has it’s own part to play. Gah!

Right. I’m off to go anthropomorphise more objects. Bye bye x

Here I am at Mothir JorĆ°, Vallanes.

It is beautiful.

I am surrounded by mountains covered in snow and there are wildflowers everywhere WeĀ“re on the edge of lake Lagarflot, where there are fantastic crystals formed by the lava; quartz peices and agate geodes as big as my fist just lying around. IĀ“ve never seen anything like it. Speaking of things lying around, thereĀ“s a dead sheep and Bonnie has taken the fleece to card and spin so I might learn how to do that.

The midnight sun takes some getting used to. I love it!

GraceĀ“s pictures 002

GraceĀ“s pictures 006

HereĀ“s the team planting beets in the far feild, which is a lot of fun. Eymundur grows beets and all sorts of vegetables, and barley, which we eat a lot of. It is cooked up with apples and cinnamon to make a kind of porridge called Ā“GabrielĀ“s breakfastĀ“ itĀ“s damn good. I eat that every morning, and Lilia the housekeeper makes all veggie food.

In short IĀ“m still alive and enjoying myself. The internet is super slow so I canĀ“t put more pictures, but itĀ“s gorgeous here.

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I think my pictures speak three thousand words.

I love Boxley. I love baking cake. I love mehndi and I love Sam.