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

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Patchwork: Quilt-a-long 2017 - Diamond Panes

In January I posted my first batch of blocks in the Fat Quarter Shop Quiltalong 2017. Tomorrow, the March block pattern is released, so I thought I would show my progress to date.


February's block is Diamond Panes. Although I have sewn HST quilts before, see here and here, I have never done it with this method of sandwiching two squares together (I have always used my Sizzix HST template). It does make the process pretty simple.


So, six diamond pane blocks completed. I'm still not wholly sure where I am going with the colour palette on this because I am trying to use scraps as far as possible. I am leaning towards green, blue and grey but I recently saw some lovely quilts with mauve in the mix which is also pretty tempting!


Here are my blocks so far. Any colour suggestions?

Love Mrs Jones x



Sunday, 26 February 2017

Books: January & February 2017



The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
My first read of 2017, was one that had been on my "to read" pile for a while. I wanted something snowy and wintery to read for the New Year and this hits the spot. It follows the journeys of Mrs Ross, her son and various members of the village following the mysterious death of Laurent Jammett. It contains both murder and mystery but is not a conventional murder mystery!

Stef is a wonderful story teller, and I am really pleased to have discovered her. I am about to start listening to The Invisible Ones.

Coffin Road by Peter May
This is the kind of book I would never select myself but was recommended it by my Dad, and surprisingly I was hooked from the first page. A man washes up on a Scottish island with no memory of who or what he was before. I loved his quest to find out who he was, particularly when the signs point to the fact that he may have had a sinister past.

The Lower River by Paul Theroux
I loved Mosquito Coast and I was hoping that this would be similar. In a way it is, but took a while to really launch into the story. Ellis Hock is nearing retirement, his wife has divorced him and his daughter has abandoned him. He sets off to return to a better life in Malawi, where he spent a wonderful few years as a young man building a school. However, when he returns, all isn't as his rose tinted spectacles remembers. 

There is real darkness to this book as he becomes trapped in the village and there is an ongoing power struggle between him and Manyenga. I didn't find Ellis a very likeable character and (without revealing too much) you do wonder whether he gets what he deserves. 

Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks
I am a fan of Sebastian Faulks, but this one isn't one of his best. An elderly Psychiatrist, Pereira, who fought with his father in the Great War asks Robert Hendricks to be his literary executor. Robert fought in WWII but had refused to unlock his memories of it. However, his visits with Pereira become the catalyst for him to remember his love and battle stories from that time. 

The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
Unfortunately, this was another dud for me. I wonder whether it was the narrator on my audio version but given the story, it just didn't grip me like it should have. This is the life of Shostakovich who falls out of favour with the Stalin government, is reprieved from execution and subsequently becomes their puppet. 

In other news, I was told by my Physio that reading in bed is really bad for the neck and back, which is a complete shocker for me as that is when the majority of my reading gets done. It is something to do with the angle of the neck and pressure of holding the book.

So, what have you been reading lately?
Love
Mrs Jones X