Monday 30 August 2010

Too busy doing!

I will get the photos off the cameras sometime soon, life's been too full recently.
I've been sick, Big One's been sick but she's better today, thankfully.
I've climbed onto a roof and then climbed the tree to get a load of plums (well, the tree owners got first dibs so we only got a bucketful) so tonight I've made plum chutney, plum and bramble jam, plum and raisin jelly for the girls.

the plums before...
and after! plum and bramble jam and plum chutney

  I made a big batch of soup and bread for a friends Blessingway a few weeks ago, and then I had a go at drying peas, we've got some parsley and marjoram drying, the sourdough bread is still happening- the latest loaf even has some dates  in it. Big One wanted apricots in the bread, but we didn't have any- she likes it toasted but not keen on it as cold bread. I also think I forgot to salt the bread, which probably has something to do with it. Its amazing how much flavour sourdough bread has even without salt!

date sourdough bread

I've also got some kevlar gloves and managed to finish one willow bowl off, and keep carving at the horsechestnut. I don't think it counts as green wood carving when its this dry though.

'night light' carving- it didn't work!

We managed a night under canvas as a family, and tried a different car boot sale as sellers (raising cash for the Big Trip next year)- it was a later start but also veeeery quiet- we still came away with profit ( even with Him buying a burger!).
Usual problem, not enough hours in the day....
I still want to do a course with Flying Shavings, some family camping, sort out a wood burner for the big bell tent so we can enjoy bad weather in the tent,carve a bowl (well, mostly) in a day, sew a skirt, change a pair of trousers into shorts for Big One, make a cushion cover, make a hot water bottle cover, make plum brandy, make rosehip syrup, something with elderberries, more chutneys.....I haven't time to be ill or work!

Thursday 12 August 2010

Kids can be fabulous

I'd just like to say I didn't even ask Big One to try everything on- she decided now her hat was finished, she wanted to wear everything I've made for her to nursery. Boy am I chuffed she chose to wear it.
I'm also very proud- she's not yet 5, has never had training wheels on her bike, and today has started riding around, pedalling and using brakes on the handle bars. When I learned, older than her, I just had to pedal backwards to stop! She did use a balance bike when she was smaller.
Oh, well, just one 'personal' post. I am aiming to keep this blog for 'doings'. 

Sunday 8 August 2010

Another sunhat, and bread...

The finale of the sunhats -I hope!

It does have a HUGE brim- all the better to keep the sun of her neck, but mum-in-law suggested a great fix:

with a button on the brim!
I'm really chuffed with it- I've selected the pattern, sized it (albeit accidentally!), sewn round circles, learned to used stiffener (I've forgotten what its called at this time of night), got right sides together, and its even lined. I haven't had to ask anyone for help- which I really didn't expect after the last 3 attempts.

This week I've been patiently feeding my starter (leaven)  for sourdough bread, and it was ready today:

I didn't manage to follow the recipe timings religiously, something I try to do for first attempts at least, so it had one less kneading and about double the suggested rising time. That didn't seem too much of a problem.
Our oven, despite being the recommended temperature (I have an oven thermometer- get me!) cooked the bread much quicker than the book said, only about 35-40 mins instead of 50-70 mins, so it has a 'well coloured crust', and a great but not very different taste to our usual homemade bread. I guess the leaven is really quite young yet, hopefully get stronger as it gets older.  The husband reckons the texture was nice, a bit like crumpet, and Big One just kept eating it, so it must be ok!
My leaven has also escaped from the jar, it did it last night and looks like its on its way again tonight. Hopefully a night in the fridge and I can have another go Tuesday, a days holiday to catch up a bit.

While I was waiting for the leaven to be ready, I had a go at milk loaf, apparently its a British Thing. I remember stacking the round loaves of it when I worked in Asda, but know nothing else of it. Anyway, my version got a bit well travelled- made in one house, transported via supermarket (for butter for the dough) to the other house for rising and baking. It should have been in one tin, but I put it in two and thought I'd killed it- it looked flat as a pancake going in the oven, so an edible loaf (or two) was a nice surprise.
I forgot a brush, so a bit of milk was sloshed over at some point a bit late in the cooking, which I reckon is why the sides are darker than the top. Really lovely tasting bread though!
I'm a bit brain dead tonight, I think I'll stop here and get some sleep.

Monday 2 August 2010

A week of sunhats

Before I forget, here's the toolroll finally finished, made from fabric scraps I've been given, with absolutely no design in it- I remember my Dad having one made by my mum, from old jeans and a tie from an ancient swimsuit. This one is much more flowery!

I've been struggling with sun hats. Its been something I've liked the idea of making, but hadn't seen a pattern I liked. I found one I thought was ok- until I made it.

 Somehow the shape doesn't fit right on my girls, and I have a sizing problem-- this looks like it should almost fit Little One, But I made it for Big One! The first one is far too small for both, too big for a dolly and not good enough to gift to a younger child. I think the dolls box has adopted it anyway.
gratuitous cute pic of Little One- hat well hidden!

slightly better view of the hat, which doesn't look much like the tutorial one.
Somewhere along the line I found mention of Wild Ginger free download software- it helps you make the pattern to fit (allegedly) and, of course does a fab sun hat.
However, looking for the website that lead me to using the software (which I cannot find-a shame because the hat on there puts my efforts firmly in place) I have just found this- which is better as it gives proper step by step instructions, and the shape looks easier to do than the Wild Ginger one. I struggled to figure out how to use it (I couldn't always alter the dimensions I needed to) and then learned I needed to save it BEFORE printing, otherwise it prints out default size. It also uses quite a large amount of paper to print out a small pattern, but I digress.

This is my first attempt, thankfully it was meant to fit Little One, so its only a bit too small. I had a wobble once I printed out the pattern and reduced it a little more, but that was a mistake. The paper pattern looked huge in my inexperienced eyes, compared to Little Ones head! As you can see, my model's patience for photos had gone and she was far too busy too keep still.
This week we've kept up the handmade bread, and after reading a blog about breadmaking, I've bought a book called  The Handmade Loaf which already looks fabulous. I really enjoy sourdough bread, but never attempted it. I hope to have a go with the advice in the book.
The same parcel brought The Wooden Bowl,  The Woodland House and The Woodland Year. I only went looking for a present for the husband (none of the above, I hasten to add!) and as I've been looking at these for months....I just couldn't help myself.