Stitchery Tuesday – Lasagne Quilt.

It doesn’t take much to start me off onto journeys new.  A whisper on the wind can jolt me into a new adventure just as quickly as can a blog post in glorious technicolor.  And so it was, I was minding my own business on Saturday afternoon, tootling along I was, not a care in the world when I came across a blog post which essentially took my breath away by my good friend Carie.  In it she describes the wonderous nature of the Lasagne Quilt, so I just thought I would have a little google and found this… Video by Missouri quilt company and that was it, I was lost and gone.  You see, I had these Jelly Rolls in my stash and I used to sit there some nights thinking, I wish you could just sew them up and it would look nice and then I could see all of those lovely fabrics.  And then I used to say to myself, ‘nah, it would just look horrible, you know you need to put time into a quilt’ and then I would sigh deeply, bemoan my lack of time and promise myself that I would make that quilt for myself,,, one day.

Firstly there was maths, I needed to know if I could make an approximation of a superking sized quilt with 2 jelly rolls.  It didn’t have to have lots of fabric hanging over, (although that would have been nice,) but it did need to look like it fitted the bed.  The basic maths comprises of width in inches by 32 rows (which would be 64″) divided by length of strip after sewing, which in my case was 43″ as I’d decided to do a square end to my strip rather than a mitre, for two reasons, I fancied it and secondly I need to maximise every square inch.  And this then gives you the number of strips you need.  So that when you multiply the strips and cut them in half and go from 2 to 4 to 8 to 16 to 32, you get the width you want.   After that you need to add the strips to make the length you want.  I needed ten more strips to make the length, but I needed to get the width right first.  Lasagne quilt 1

Nope that didn’t work, it needed too many strips., I only have eighty strips. Lasagne quilt 2

And nor did that.Lasagne quilt 3

And this leaves me with eight strips spare.  So I need to do more maths and then I thought, bearing in mind its meant to be a speedy quilt. Lasagne quilt 4

But I carried on.  Lasagne quilt 5

And success was mine.  I tried it with 80″ wide and adding 9 rows to make it 82″ long and realised I could make it 84″ long..  Yippee, now in an ideal world I would have liked it just a bit wider, but it would still work. Lasagne quilt 6

And then I found my strips and counted my strips and there was one missing!  I had 79 strips..  lets hope this maths is right. Lasagne quilt 7

And then I found my fat quarters that matched for the binding.Lasagne quilt 8

I sewed the 32 rows starting with sewing 60 of the strips end to end and not forgetting to cut off approx 18″ off the first strip of fabric to allow the pattern to stagger, then sewing the full length of the stripe together, hint: watch the video and cutting and repeating.  With some trepidation I placed it on the bed to see if I had indeed got the right width and did a very happy, happy dance.   Yes, it was going to be fine… yay.   Now I wondered if I would get my ten strips added before running out of stripes.  And I added these 5 rows to each end and sewn them backwards and forwards starting at the same end that I had finished on and alternating the end of the big long strip so that the patterns always mismatched (well as much as possible) Lasagne quilt 9

Lasagne quilt 10

Sorry gratuitous pussy cat photos.Lasagne quilt 11

Yes, I managed to get all ten stripes added.  May I present, one glorious, stunningly beautiful quilt top, of which I will long admire and now can at long last see the beautiful fabrics that I was so drawn to and that have been sat in my stash for such along time. .  (when it gets finished remains to be seen)  It probably took about 4 hours maybe longer….  I know I went to bed and then did  35 minutes to finish it today.   And what was the fabric?  It was Fabric Freedom, Spice Trail. Lasagne quilt 13

And what was left of the 79 strips.  This was left, so its probably quite important to round your maths up, just to make sure, which is what I did.

Meatless Monday – Mushroom egg fried rice.

If I am cooking rice, I often cook more than I need, sometimes by design, often by mistake.  But I am never sad about that mistake as if probably looked after cold rice can be a useful addition to the next meal.  What do I mean by probably looked after, well apparently cooked rice can allow nasty bugs to multiply quite quickly – I’ve had to look this up,  the NHS say that uncooked rice contain spores of the bacteria Bacillus Cereus  so the cooked rice should be cooled quickly, refrigerated and then used up within 24 hours, reheating thoroughly.  How those containers of cooked rice sat in my local supermarket for days on end get on I’ve no idea.

Anyway back to the storyline.  Having looked after your cooked rice properly, it makes a great basis for a meal.  I often cooked an egg fried rice with a vegetable in it, even if thats only an onion or a  handful of peas.  I quite like courgettes and mushrooms are great, peppers can be yummy and lightly boiled broccoli lends a lovely freshness to the dish and if your really lucky beansprouts are just simply divine.  I always start with the aromatics of garlic, ginger and onion by frying them, then stir fry the vegetable, next stir fry the rice with soy until its super hot , beat the egg with a dash of sesame oil.mushroom egg fried rice

Then add the egg at the side and scramble it, it will happen very quickly in a hot pan and then mix it all together and supper is served. mushroom egg fried rice 2

A return journey to Hampton Court.

I returned to Hampton Court this week, the brief glimpse I had had last weekend just sent my imagination into overdrive.  I knew I had to go back and go back soon, so I tootled off for another adventure.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Although I spent many, many hours there, I still didn’t see it all.  This is just a snapshot of what I did see, enjoy.

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The Abbey Fields aka The Happy Fields.

Long ago, before the advent of the internet, electronic toys and other expensive games we had to make our own entertainment, which often meant walking for miles.  I was allowed out from dawn until dusk or six p.m., whichever came first, at quite a young age. I can remember trolling around when I was about eight or nine years old.  As long as there was a group of you, or at least two, you could pretty much do what you like. And off course we  had no phone until I was twelve and went up to the big school at the other end of the town.  But everybody talked, if I went up the park or the castle, my mother would know where I was before I got home, seriously, people would knock the front door and say “I’ve seen your Mandy up so and so”.  (this is the bit I like about London, the anonymity, laughs to oneself) But I think I mainly got away with my wayward walkabouts because both Mum and Dad have both liked to ramble around, not in a big, lets go and do the peak district sort of way, more a ramble around town and the lanes and the neighbouring villages sort of way. And one of my favourite places was and still is The Abbey Fields.  So last time I was home, I dragged Mum and Dad down to the Top Park to see what we could see. Abbey Fields 1 A beautiful morning, absolutely glorious.  And when the tree’s aren’t in leaf, you can see straight through to the Castle from here. Abbey Fields 2 My favourite bench, near the top of the hill which gave welcome respite to tired legs that had been on the go swimming in the then outdoor pool or climbing along tree roots on the banks of the brook, or other made up pursuits of the day.  There are other benches on this hill now, but this one is still the original and best and is certainly showing its age. Abbey Fields 3 They have made an area boggy, which I am not a hundred percent sure that one should be changing things like that,

Abbey Fields 4 but the bull rushes did look gorgeous and I got incredibly soggy feet getting that shot. Abbey Fields 5

A quick shot of DadAbbey Fields 6.

And Dad took a quick shot of me and we tried to take one of Mum but she was pulling funny faces and it didn’t work. Abbey Fields 7

There was feeding of ducks, which I still love to do, Abbey Fields 8 just so pretty.Abbey Fields 9

It’s so nice to sit and admire the view.Abbey Fields 10

And this is an image of my young childhood.  I’d always fall behind, having found something of interest and then I’d be yelling “Wait for me” and Mum would shout back that they were, but they weren’t really, they were still walking on, slightly slower. I suppose they had to get me out of the park somehow.

And this next series of photo’s are the best photo’s I’ve ever taken.  They show my Dad’s comedic side and their love for each other.

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Abbey Fields 14I have no idea what he was bantering on about, I could hear him joking away, I was just trying to get the shots.  Whatever he said, it obviously tickled Mother. It was a lovely, lovely morning at the park.

Flavoursome Friday – Mushrooms with leeks, bacon and stilton.

mushrooms, leak, bacon and stilton_Tasty doesn’t necessarily mean lengthy cooking.  If your anything like me, good lengthy wholesome family cooking gets interspersed with quick, big bang for your buck flavour wise tasty suppers and there is nothing wrong with that if it stops you from dialing for a takeaway.  This one is quick, tasty and cheap and even has two vegetables in it, can’t be bad.

mushrooms, leak, bacon and stilton 1Fry off your leeks, then your bacon, add your mushrooms and when they are cooked crumble in your stilton (or other cheese lurking in the fridge) a splosh of milk to make a sauce and tumble over rice, pasta, noodles, potatos or toast and relax and enjoy.  Simples.

Thursdays Knit and Natter – Hinksey Mittens.

mittens 2I needed a little instant gratification after the crochet blanket, not least I am going to need some new mittens this winter.  This has been in my stash for a while, its a kit I picked up at a show from Fyberspates.  It is knitting up beautifully, I am really enjoying the process.  It is Hinksey by Lily France knitted in Fyberspates Scrumptious Aran (45% silk, 55% Merino) in Moss on 4 mm DPN. mittens 1

I obviously like this colour, it matches Toile’s collar perfectly. toile collar

The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court.

Oh the Handmade Fair at Hampton Court was a joy, a sheer joy.  The atmosphere was incredible, when I say it was beyond any reasonable doubt the best fair that I had been to, it is an understatement, it was an absolute pleasure.  Many, many, many of the stallholders were new this year, so there was an incredible amount to look at that I had never seen before, there was an absolute buzz from the stall holders and all the customers seemed as happy as I was.  Here are a few snapshots, there were two huge tents filled with stalls, two Grand Make tents with an impressive line up of workshops and demonstrations, a Super Theatre tent, and was supported with tents from Rowan, Etsy, Mollie Makes, Prima, Janome, Hobbycraft, Coats, Lush and many other stalls.  I think if you were doing workshops you would need more than one day.Hampton Court Fair 18 Hampton Court Fair 2



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Hampton Court Fair 7Hampton Court Fair 8Hampton Court Fair 9Hampton Court Fair 10Hampton Court Fair 11Hampton Court Fair 13Hampton Court Fair 12Hampton Court Fair 14Hampton Court Fair 15Hampton Court Fair 16Hampton Court Fair 17As you can see there were some wonderful stalls, and this is such a small percentage of what was there.  I spent a wonderful hour chatting with my lovely friend Martin Storey about Rowan and Uni, family and ideas in the future, it was such a nice moment.  And I eventually found my lovely friend Belinda Harris-Reid, we had such a good giggle, she has so much energy, a force of nature. Look out for her venture p-Lush at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry on the 27th and 28th March, it promises to be an amazing event.

I hadn’t known about World Pomination, Sense being the official charity to benefit,  where the aim was to break the Guinness World Record for the longest line of pom poms which with 7,200 fluffy globes they smashed.  Hampton Court Fair 1

And then of course there was shopping.  Just some gorgeous fabric and a little alpaca, a shawl pin, some scissors and a huge crochet hook and some potato print, yes potato print, cards with chickens on them and a Rowan book.  Toile thinks its a pretty and perfect haul, especially the alpaca, she really likes the alpaca.

The walk to the Handmade Fair at Hampton Court.

Giddy with excitement I got up at the crack of dawn on Sunday and then took one bus, two tubes and one train to get to Hampton Court.  Kirstie Allsopp was presenting the first ever Handmade Fair and I knew it was going to be good, but I had no idea of how good.  I’d decided not to partake of any workshops, having my fair fill of those whilst at Uni, I was there to soak up the atmosphere and to do a little light shopping.

I’d had a quick look as to how to get to Hampton Court once getting off the train and had noticed how far away the Fair had been placed away from the entrance, but had no idea of just how beautiful it would be to walk through the gardens.Hampton Court 1

Firstly we crossed the Thames, and it was at that point that you could just get a glimpse of Hampton Court and I felt my heartbeat quicken.  It was just so pretty. Hampton Court 2

As we walked up the drive towards the entrance.  Hampton Court 3

Beautiful chimneys. Hampton Court 4

And bordersHampton Court 6

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and trees.Hampton Court 8

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And finally the entrance to the show.  I’d had a lovely walk seeing the beauty of the gardens and was really looking forward to the day.  As an aside I once went to a talk by Lucy Worsley, English Historian and Chief Curator of the Historic Royal Palaces and during it she had said Hampton Court was her favourite Palace, I’ve not been inside it yet, but I can see why and its on my to do list soon.

Meatless Monday – Cheesy potato rosti.

Rosti 1Sometimes you don’t want your five a day, or even your one a day, you just want a very simple supper and this one is pretty simple.  Take some old potatoes, peel, cut into large chunks, pop into a pan with water and a good pinch of salt,  bring to the boil and then simmer for just five minutes, drain, allow to go cold.  Its quite important to allow them to go cold otherwise they break up when you grate them,  you could do it in the morning whilst your drinking your coffee and then place the potatoes in the fridge for later.  Then grate them, squidge them into quite thin patty shapes and cook over a moderate heat in a frying pan with a teaspoon of rape seed oil until they are cooked through which takes about ten minutes, turning them occassionally,  placing a slice of cheese on them as they finish.  Rosti 2

Tasty, simple, cheap and reasonably nutritious.