Sunday, 30 July 2017

Patchwork: Quilt-a-Long 2017 - Homestead and Round the Corner

Trying to catch up with these quilt-a-long blocks whilst also working hard and starting a new course (CIH Level 4 in Housing)! Anyway, I do love being busy!


The Homestead block (May) is the turquoise block with a slightly floral pattern and was really easy to sew up after the hideousness of the Star and Cross. However, just to throw a spanner in the works, the  June block (Round the Corner) also involved about a million minuscule pieces - enough to drive me round the bend (see what I did there)!! Not sure if anyone else has found this, but this block finishes at a smaller size?!


So, at the halfway point, I thought I would reflect on the blocks I have already made by laying them out together. I am actually really happy with the colours and I am particularly pleased that I added the mustard into the mix.

To date, all the fabric I have used has been from my stash - very satisfying. I have just bought a sumptuous fat quarter of a grey Alison Glass fabric for the next block though. It may have just jumped into my basket when I bought some fabric for a quilt I will be shortly starting for Fred!

So, I bought the new Lloyd and Lola pattern by Elizabeth Hartman (two fabulous llamas) to make into a big quilt for Fred. It's totally different to what I have made before but I can't wait to start.

Love Mrs Jones X


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Books: May & June 2017 Reads




The Rescue by Anita Shreve
This was such an entertaining listen for me. A paramedic is called to the scene of an accident involving a woman driving under the influence, and falls in love. However, her alcohol dependency has a huge impact on their fate together, and also that of their daughter. I will definitely be checking out more of Anita Shreve's books.

Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris
This is one of those stories where there are five pretty ordinary characters and how the same event impacts on their lives. It was an interesting read but some of the ways that the characters crossed paths became a little too unbelievable.

The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota
This has been on my "To Read" pile for a while but I caught the end of a program on Radio 4 about it that prompted me to start reading it. It highlights the struggles of a number of Indian immigrants (legal and illegal) in their determination to survive and thrive in the UK for the sake of their families back home. There are some really gruelling parts to this novel but without a doubt it is an absolutely brilliant read.

Not Quite Nice by Celia Imrie
This is the kind of book which I would never buy for myself (it was a gift) but usually really enjoy and this is no exception. I picked it up after a day in hospital and read it pretty much in one sitting. A very light but engaging read about an older woman moving to Nice to escape her vile daughter, and her capers with the other ex pats there.

Love Mrs Jones X

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Bake: Vanilla and Blueberry Buns

I bought a blueberry bush three or four years ago, and finally it has borne enough fruit for me to not only have with melon for breakfast but also to bake with! It was a toss up between a blueberry and white chocolate loaf cake and these. It was the marzipan that won me over.


Vanilla and Blueberry Buns
Golden buns with a hint of cinnamon and swirled with marzipan and home grown blueberries with a sugar glaze.

The recipe is by Bronte Aurell and the original version can be found here on the Waitrose website. I made a few tweaks :
  • replaced the ground cardamom with 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • I didn't weigh the blueberries, I suspect I had less than the recipe requested
  • I omitted the toasted flaked almonds, at the request of Fred (good job really, because I didn't have any anyway)!



Once rolled out and filled with berries, I froze half. The recipe makes 16 buns - even I am not that greedy! 

I ate mine warm and sticky with the glaze. Absolutely delicious.

Love Mrs Jones X

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Patchwork: Quilt-a-long 2017 - Star and Cross and Quilt Barn Trail

The Fat Quarter Shop's April block, Star and Cross, was one of the most fiddly and complicated I think I have ever sewn. We are talking little patches of fabric 1 1/2 inches square!! No wonder it took me so long to finish them.



However, they do look really pretty and I am glad I went for a solid mustard fabric given the scale of the block pattern.


It's always so much easier when I have help!!

This has put me a bit behind, but thankfully block 5 is much more straightforward. My other blocks are here: one, two and three.



Whilst I was in Canada earlier this month, we started to follow the Ryde Quilt Barn Trail in Muskoka. I have never heard of a quilt barn trail before, so was intrigued. Unfortunately, shortly into the trail the road was closed so we only spotted four of the barns.


Does anyone know of any quilt barn trails in the UK?

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sewn: Burda 04/2017-117 Cutout Bias Dress

It has been a long time since I have sewn a garment for myself (the last thing was a dressing gown nearly two years ago). I got a bit annoyed that I kept changing size/shape so I stopped. However, I have recently discovered Handmade by Carolyn's blog and this really inspired me to have another go. She uses a variety of patterns and makes everything - even down to tights and shoes

I fell in love with this bias cut dress in the April 2017 Burda Magazine and with in no time I was raiding my stash to find something to make it in. The fabric was given to me by a lovely colleague and I think it is a polycotton. 




Size
The Burda pattern is in a Tall Size range, but even though I am short, I do have quite a long torso, so I cut the size 80 (which is a UK 14). I am a shop size 12 but my measurements suited the 14 better. The dress has a roomier fit in the bust but the waist is fine.



Alterations
I couldn't find an invisible zip at the correct length and so used an ordinary one. I also lengthened the skirt, which seems crazy for a tall size, but I prefer it that way! 

Try a Caesar in Canada (a bit like a Bloody Mary)!


I always find the Burda instructions a little confusing (much prefer a little helpful diagram) and couldn't even see a mention of joining the shoulders together [edit: just spotted it now - I could have sworn it wasn't there!]. It was also a bit hazy about attaching the lining at the back, however I just finished it off by hand.



Conclusion
Love the dress so much and have worn it several times and had some compliments to boot. I even took it on my recent holiday to Canada ... last seen cycling the Toronto harbourside (above)!

Love Mrs Jones x

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Books: March & April Reads



A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. At over 700 pages, and with a gruelling backstory of appalling childhood abuse, it is not for the faint hearted. It reminded me a little of Donna Tartt's The Secret History, in so far as the main characters meet at university. Just a heads up, I sobbed almost solidly through the final 100 pages of this novel.

The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney
Another brilliant novel: I listened to this one on my commute, and the narrator was absolutely superb with the different characters' voices. This centres around a private investigator in a hunt for a missing adult in a gypsy community. There are some brilliant twists in this tale.

The Trap by Melanie Raabe
I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book. The story unfolds at quite a rate and is a quick read but I either didn't like the writer's style or the translation. The plot - an author planning to lure her sister's killer into a trap is pretty intriguing, but I won't be seeking out any more of her novels.

The Gathering by Anne Enright
The wonderful Irish tones of Fiona Shaw reading this frank story about the death of Liam, one member of a large family is very engaging. The death dredges up stories of the family over generations and childhood mysteries as they prepare to gather for the funeral.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Although I enjoyed it, I'm not quite sure why this book got all the attention it did - am I the only one to think this? I think that the three main female characters were all pretty interchangeable (versions of each other under slightly different circumstances) - maybe this was the point? The interminable drinking was enough to make me not want to drink again!

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
This was an absolute dud for me. Again, I listened to this one, but the narrator was wooden, and to be honest so was the story. Disappointing.

Love Mrs Jones X

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Patchwork: Quilt-a-long 2017 - Box in a Box

I never seem to make enough time for sewing these days, although I have just managed to finish the March blocks from The Fat Quarter Shop's Make a Wish quilt.


The March pattern was Box in a box, which is really nice and easy and looks pretty striking. As I said before, I am trying to use up my scraps as far as possible and so continued this with this block. I think I used all these fabrics in the Retro Boys Quilt.

It doesn't seem to matter how many scraps I think I am using, they don't seem to be disappearing very fast! I can't even remember the last time I indulged in some fabric shopping!

Love Mrs Jones X