Sunday, 12 November 2017

Patchwork: Lloyd and Lola - Llama!

This week, I have been continuing with the Lloyd and Lola quilt. Sewing is a great activity when it is cold and rainy, and generally autumnal outside. Although, starting with the llama face was rage-inducing: the pieces are so tiny and I had to unpick a couple of seams (which reminds me, I have still lost my seam ripper)! I may have cursed a little and thrown it across the table.

But, you can't deny that it doesn't look cute! My mum thought it looked like a cat (before it had ears) - no it is definitely llama-ish.

The llama body was so much easier than its face, which is a relief. I tried to pick out the same colour palette as the pom pom trim for the poncho and will use the same fabrics for the second llama.

So, I'm not sure whether this is Lloyd or Lola, but I think I am making good progress. I need to pedal back a little and revisit the missing blocks for the quiltalong before I move onto the second llama.


Mrs Jones x

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Books: September and October Reads

My Sister's Secret by Tracy Buchanan
A quick read, about an obsession with underwater forests which is passed down through a family. I loved how the threads of the story interlinked. 

This is a strange, character study of the passengers on a bus heading toward Mexico to which occur a series of mishaps. I couldn't exactly say that I enjoyed it, but the writing is very arresting.

I listened to this non-fiction book which was also narrated by the author. What a fascinating story behind finding the diaries and the lengths that the author goes to to discover more about the diarist whilst at the same time, not wanting to find out too much. I really enjoyed this and was delighted with the ending.

Another book that I really enjoyed. Sofia is accompanying her mother for treatment for a mysterious illness to a Spanish resort. She has become enslaved to her mother's whims but embarks belatedly on discovering her own freedom in her adult life when she meets an intriguing German girl.

This was recently made into a film called Nocturnal Animals with Jake Gyllenhal and Amy Adams. Of the two, I actually prefer the novel. It is a novel within a novel, and the one contained within is horribly disturbing.

I haven't read anything by Jane Smiley in about 15 years. This wasn't one of her better ones. An eclectic group of friends and family spend ten days in the hills shortly after the start of the Iraq war. The narrative rotates from one couple to another with some frank sexual scenes [made for quite an embarrassing moment when winding the window down to swipe into the car park as I was listening on my commute] and is interspersed with opinions about films and war. 

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Patchwork: Lloyd and Lola - Pom Poms

I am making good progress on Fred's Lloyd and Lola quilt (pattern by Elizabeth Hartman). I have never really tackled a quilt like this before, and to be honest was a little overwhelmed with all the cutting required. So, I concentrated on sewing up the Pom Poms first, because I generally find that once you have started, you just want to crack on with it.

I bought huge swathes of black quilting cotton and some Essex yarn dyed fabric for the llamas themselves, but have used fabric from my stash for the Pom Poms themselves.

Here, I have laid it out on Fred's double bed - I'm quite impressed with the size of it. You just have to envisage two lovelorn llamas in that space!

The red looks quite festive and would be great as a row of baubles on a Christmas quilt.

Next step will be the llama faces, and I confess, I am a little scared!

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Seasonal Food: Apples, Pears and Parsnips

Autumn is a great time of year when there is a bounty of gorgeous fruits and vegetables just waiting to be turned into something comforting to eat. I have posted before about the cooking apple haul that my Dad gives me each year, and have shared my favourite recipes here

Eating Apples
I have been seduced into making these pretty Rose Apple Tarts which are all over Pinterest at the moment. They take about three minutes of prep with some basic ingredients, and are a great way of using up some leftover puff pastry and any eating apples that have been rejected by the kids for cosmetic reasons (you know how I hate food waste)! Mine caught a little on the top but still tasted great.

My pears have been taking an age to ripen in the fruit bowl so I have taken to poaching them and eating them for breakfast. My husband's reaction was "How decadent!", but these really aren't the same as pears you would poach in alcohol and serve with cream and nuts. My breakfast poached pears are much humbler: cooked in a pan of water with a little vanilla, cinnamon and honey added. In twenty minutes, you have a lovely healthy breakfast! 

Another recipe that I really like with cooked pears and parsnips is Jamie Oliver's pork and pear traybake.

My sister gave me a large bag of her home grown parsnips. I love them roasted, but I am the only one, and I am not very keen on parsnip soup. So, I tried out this BBC recipe for Parsnip Hash Browns, which were delicious with a poached egg and a little tangy tomato chutney on the side.

Love Mrs Jones x

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Sewn: Bird Cushion

I made this cute garden bird cushion back in the summer for my son, Albert's girlfriend. As her birthday has now just passed, I thought I would share it here. The brief was for it a) to be handmade and b) something birdy! I would have loved to have time to make her a quilt (for example this amazing flamingo quilt) but never mind.

It was so warm the day I made it, that I did most of the sewing outside - what a treat! I have never done that before, but it is something I will definitely do again.

I bought the fabric in my local fabric shop, Dotty Dolly in Wellington, Somerset but can't for the life of me find any reference to what the fabric is called - it's so cute. If you know what it is, can you let me know?

For the reverse, I used a triangle fabric from the Makower Baby Jungle range which picks up the colours of the birds on the front, and the closure is a simple button fastening. It's not the neatest closure, but it'll do.

What have you sewn lately?

Love Mrs Jones X

Friday, 13 October 2017

Patchwork: Quilt-a-long 2017 - Propeller and Rolling Nine Patch

Still a couple of months behind on my patchwork blocks for the Fat Quarter Shop Quiltalong, but these two were much quicker to sew than some of the previous ones. The only way to ensure I get my sewing done is to literally schedule it in to my diary!

Propeller is sewn up in a lovely grey Alison Glass fabric:

And Rolling Nine Patch in this lovely mustard Lewis & Irene fabric from my local shop:

I think these are the only two fabrics I have actually purchased for this project. I am still short on mustard fabric, so will have to buy one more mustard colour way.

 So, 48 blocks made, 24 to go! At one point I was doubting my colour scheme, but I often find that is the way when you spend such a long time with a set of colours. 

I have also been sewing some of the Pom Pom garland for Fred's Lloyd and Lola quilt which I will go into in more detail in a separate post. 

Love Mrs Jones x

P.S. I've misplaced my seam ripper - any bright ideas where on earth it might have gone?!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Bake: French Apple Tart

I have had and loved this French Apple Tart recipe since I was a child - it is so old that it is written on my Victoria Plum recipe paper and has imperial measurements! So, I have no idea on the source of the recipe but I can guarantee that it is delicious and will feed four comfortably. I usually use an 8 inch flan dish but have managed to stretch it to a 10 inch dish this time.

5 oz Plain flour
Salt (pinch)
2 1/2 oz butter
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground almonds
1 egg yolk
Cold water

3 large cooking apples, peeled, chopped and cooked to a purée
2 cooking apples
2 oz sugar
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp apricot jam
2 tsp water
1 tsp lemon juice

1. Put flour and salt into food processor. Add butter and blitz to breadcrumb consistency.

2. Add sugar and ground almonds and whizz again.

3. Add egg yolk and a little cold water and whizz until all combined.

4. Wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

5. Oven at 200C. I usually purée the apples at this point. Add 2 oz sugar and the lemon zest to the purée.

6. Roll out pastry and line 8 inch flan dish.

7. Add the apple purée.

8. Peel and thinly slice the other two apples and arrange on top of the purée.

9. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

10. Once baked, put jam, water and lemon in a pan and heat until syrupy. Brush over the flan. I had no apricot jam, do used strawberry (hence the blush on my apples)!

Serve with creme fraiche - delicious!

Love Mrs Jones x