Sunday, 23 July 2017

Sun Top Quick Make

Another week passed and summer is here for those of us who work in Schools, judging by the weather forecast though it is just in time for the worst of the weather.  Not to be put off by this I made up this sun top today using the fabric from the bottom of the charity shop dress I bought some weeks ago.  I have already worn the dress which has been taken in and up (by quite a lot!) the top should come in handy for wearing under things  on cooler days or on it's own when the sun returns.

Quick to make up and I didn't even need to hem the bottom as I used the one that was already there from the  maxi dress hem.

The only pieces needed were a front, back, two facing pieces for the top and two long rectangles for straps.  I just cut around an existing strappy top.  While I was making this it reminded  me of the quick little things I used to make as a teenager when I first got my sewing machine and also a book I have just read called Micromastery.  While I was reading this book I was nodding along thinking yes! That's me, that is how I learn.

The whole theme of this book was to keep on learning and not to be put off by thinking you have to be an expert at everything that interests you or that you have to specialise. It also suggest that you find achievable things you can do in any topic that interests you so that you have a skill in that area that you can show or use.  I agree with this completely, how many people do we know who go off and do college courses on things or night classes and learn all the theory but can't actually do anything useful. 

I'm sure it is wonderful to learn all you can  about your passion but surely things need to be transferable to life for them to be fun and to  maintain our interest for a longer period?  That is just what this book is about and it even gives you a selection of little skills you can learn (with instructions) if you so wish.

When I first got my machine when I was sixteen I bought fabric immediately, laid out a top and cut around it, I remember it was a big piece of cheap fabric and I had to cut the back again as it was a bit tight.  It was a wonderful feeling to have succeeded at something within a short time and spurred me on to do more.  I think if I had enrolled on a course, grappled with patterns, or sat figuring out what stitches the machine could do I wouldn't have had that same feeling and I'm sure it has to be the same with most things.  I will certainly be using some of the tips from this book in future.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Broccoli, Potato and Cashew Bake and Feeling Good

Just this past week I have been feeling a lot more energised, not as tired in the evening and generally better about things.  I had made a decision a couple of weeks ago to have a break from consuming any alcohol at all, not that I have a lot but I do buy a bottle of wine at the weekend.  There are also times my husband comes home with a few bottles of lager and I will have one of those, again not a lot but it doesn't help when I am easily prone to a sensitive stomach.  So I decided I would have a break (no particular fixed time) and see how things went. 

Well you wouldn't think this would bother anyone else would you? However when my mum and mother in law plus her husband came for lunch last weekend you would have thought it affected them. I didn't bring it up but when the wine came out they said why are you not drinking, I replied I didn't want one, oh why not? I stated I was giving my body a little rest, oh that's just silly! Have one , just one, why not?   So strange as this was I declined and stuck to it but I can't get over how bothered they were by it.

So that said I'm not suggesting that my increased energy is just down to cutting out a few glasses of wine but I have been more proactive at sticking to other things I like do and that make me feel good.
Everyday for the past fifteen days I have done a pilates routine with Robin Long , often two as these ones are short.  I have done these before but sometimes in the past I have missed days telling myself I was tired or I had been busy that day, no more of that, they take no time at all but you can really feel it the next day so I know they are effective.  Some of the routines you feel more than others.
I have made time to read every day and also practice my guitar and learn a few new songs, this always makes me feel relaxed.

The cook books have had a rest and I have made up quite a few new recipes this week,  further more I have enjoyed everything I have had to eat, there have been lots of fruit salads as all the lovely fruit is in season.  In addition to the fruit salads if I felt a bit peckish later in the day I have had a thin slice of my homemade bread toasted, this has kept me off the crisps, another bad habit I had fell into.  So while I do have a healthy diet being vegan there were still a few slips with the salty crisps and the beer and wine, if I can try to keep these things out it gives my body an easier time processing everything.  It's not for everyone I know, I'm just going with what works for me.

So one of the things I made this week was a Broccoli, Potato and Cashew Bake.  Now this is what I did and there are no precise amounts as I was just popping things in as I went.

Two good sized potatoes were peeled and finely sliced, then I put them in the microwave for seven minutes. I set that aside and fried a red onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, at the same time steam the broccoli.
Then I mixed vegan cheese sauce powder with a little water and poured that into the frying pan, along with one heaped tbsp. of nutritional yeast flakes plus salt and pepper.
Next I added a little more water then some alpro soya cream.  In the blender I added a handful of cashew nuts and blasted those, then I put half in the cheese sauce mixture.
Lay the broccoli in an oven proof dish, place the potatoes over the top pouring over the sauce, then more potatoes more sauce and finally the last of the nuts on top.  I gave the top a little drizzle of olive oil too.  Bake for about twenty minutes.
I enjoyed it and it was well balanced nutritionally, the good thing is there was enough left for work the next day too.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Quinoa Bread and Other Food

After my success last week with the gluten free bread mix I went to Aldi to try and get some more. However they had put the price up well either that or it was on offer when I bought it, so it had gone from 75p  to £1.79.  I didn't really want to spend that much as making it myself was supposed to be money saving. 

I decided to get some more flour so I could do my own mix but I have noticed that a lot of recipes use a mixture of GF flours.  While we were out I went in Holland and Barrett and they had Quinoa flour reduced from £8 to £2 so I bought that. (I would never pay £8)

Yesterday I thought I would just have an experiment at mixing a few flours and see what happened, this is the recipe I came up with...

Quinoa Bread

100g Quinoa flour
50g brown rice flour
50g potato starch
100g gf plain flour
300ml tepid water
15ml olive oil
7gm dry yeast
1/2 tsp xanthan gum

Put the flour, yeast, water, xanthan gum and oil in a bowl and mix gently until all combined, pour into a 1lb loaf tin and cover.  Leave to rise, mine did take about 20 minutes but keep an eye on it.
Bake in the oven on 200c for 30 minutes.

This loaf didn't look as pretty as last weeks creation but it is actually lighter, it also toasts really well.
It has more air bubbles I think and I wouldn't have cooked it any longer as it is just right.

After that came out so well I  made a banana and pecan loaf as I was on a cooking roll, I find on days when things go wrong I get grumpy with the whole being in the kitchen thing and lose motivation.  Not so on this day so I carried on and did more baking. 

The only worry I have now is that when Holland and Barrett run out of the reduced price quinoa flour I will have to go back the drawing board!  I also found some amazing snack olives and pea crisps all reduced, the pea crisps can be bought from Aldi as well I have noticed.

For the rest of the afternoon we had family round for lunch but I did manage to take off the bottom from the charity shop dress I bought and there is just enough fabric  left over for a sun top.

So the piece that I have placed beside it here, was then cut out into these pieces below.
I'm going to utilise the original hem that is on the bottom.

I will share later in the week when I get around to sitting at the machine.  It will be useful for the summer or wearing under items later in the year.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Gluten Free Bread Success

Finally I think I have found a little packet mix that is Gf and tastes good.  I found this packet bread mix in Aldi a few weeks ago and snatched it up as you don't often see any Gf items in there and it has been sat in the back of my cupboard ever since.  Earlier today I though I would give it a try, it was quite difficult to mix as I don't have a food mixer and bread paddle just a small blender with a couple of blades.  After sitting on the worktop for about ten minutes under a tea towel I was pleased to see it had risen, in it went for 35 minutes in a 1lb loaf tin ( well actually a 2lb tin as that was all I had but I put a ramekin in one end as a stopper and shaped foil up to it!) and it came out like this...
I have just tried  a slice with some vegan spread and it is soft and tasty, my only issue now will be if they ever stock it again.  It  is called Bakels gluten free white bread mix, it was 75p and you need a sachet of dry yeast so another 15p there.  Looking at the ingredients I could probably reproduce it if I just do my own flour mix but it is just the initial outlay of buying the expensive flours to start with. 

If anyone sees it on sale anywhere else please let me know because even though it is a packet mix it is still less expensive than the Gf bread I have been buying at £2.39 for a titchy little loaf.  It makes me really cross how much they charge for all the Gf products so I make a point of not buying them now aside from bread that is.  It would be wonderful if I could permanently scratch that off the shopping list as well.

Bread is not the part of a meal it used to be but it is still handy for when I'm at work for dipping in soup or putting beans on, I do like the odd slice of marmite toast too but again this has never been the same since I had to switch to GF bread.  It will be interesting to see how it keeps, I have made Gf bread before and it didn't freeze well but the shop bought ones do (must be all the chemicals!) so hopefully I can freeze a few slices.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Sewing for Children

When my boys were small I would make sleep suits and vests and little jackets with hoods.  As they got  older I didn't make as much day to day wear as the choices for fabric for boys was not as inspiring and often worked out as expensive as buying ready made.  However I always made  them dressing up clothes, it used to be power rangers in every colour, pirates, Peter Pan which later became Robin Hood and anything they came up with I would make. 

There has been opportunities to work on the dresses of friends children over the years including a couple of flower girl dresses and some every day wear.  These have been shared before but as I was asked last week to do some more it reminded me and I looked through the pictures, here are a couple.

I really enjoyed making these and my former colleague said she is going to have a look at fabrics and get in touch, apparently this little style is quite hard to get in her daughters size.  The little hair slides were also quick to make.

Another dress I enjoyed making was this flower girl dress, the fabrics were beautiful and that is often the difference with having something made.

People often have flower girl dresses shipped in from China only to find they are tissue paper thin and don't live up to the photographs. It is worth finding someone local who can make these sort of items for children, that way you get exactly what you want and it is more unique.

It is wonderful to see so many bloggers sewing for their own children, I really enjoy seeing all the different creations and while my boys are teenagers now and don't want mum sewing their clothes they still come to me with repairs and sleeves to be shortened.  I look forward to making little items for friends in the future.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Quick Hanging Basket

My husband came home  from work today with a hanging basket he picked up at Home bargains at lunch time, it was £2.50.  That will do, seeing as the one we saw made up  the other day was £12.   I had plants already from the ones I bought on Sunday so it was up in no time.  I know you can get the plastic ones for about £5 but they usually only have about two plants in and I think the actual basket on this one is much better.

After tea I finished the other bridesmaid dress, so that is another  job out of the way and finished off the miracle morning the book I couldn't get on with last time.  After looking back I couldn't see if I had posted about it before but anyway it was better this time.  It mostly focuses on having a good positive morning routine that starts early and leads you towards getting more done. 

 I do wonder if I enjoy certain books more depending on what mood I am in to begin with, does anyone else feel this way?  The part about habits feels spot on , I know there are things I have been doing for years which come easily because they are routine.  In short if we get through the first, difficult weeks of forming a new habit and make it to a month we will have incorporated it into our lives.  There are a few good habits I would like to add.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Hemming a Bridesmaid Dress

This week I have been asked to take up two dresses for a lady used to work with, they are a very pretty chiffon on top,  so two layers to deal with.  When I have something like this I like to take my time, items for myself are usually rattled off in a hurry but not things I do for other people.

A few people have mentioned to me that they are over cautious about taking up skirts and dresses, any skirts at all that is.  If you measure accurately where you want the skirt to finish and put a line of pins there this will keep you on track, don't rush! I take longer with this part if it is something is special than the actual sewing because once you have this bit right that is most of the work done.

It is a bit crumpled I know, not my doing they are both folded into small bags I think they have been ordered from somewhere.  That faint line of pins you can see is the finished length so I will leave an inch below that and cut there, it is double thickness here so both pieces will be folded towards each other so no raw edges are visible.  To get my finish length I measured 5 inch up all the way along the bottom as that was how much I was told.

I had  a little dip there so I sorted that, now the pins in this picture have been moved as I carefully folded the layers up in line with the original pins then replaced them to keep both layers in place. It was then stitched close to the edge.   I then repeated the process with the chiffon layer but this time I only took off 4 inch  so it would hang below.  One  dress down and then I was very hot, so I will finish dress two tomorrow and share a few more pictures.  The cool shower  I had when I came home from work has worn off so no more sewing this evening.

Food this evening consisted of chickpeas, onions , tomatoes, garlic and all manner of other things cooked in a pan with spices, no recipe to follow just throwing in whatever I fancied and it was delicious.  It makes me wonder why I bother with the formal recipes at times, more success seems to be  had with the throw it all in pan method.