Sunday, 31 August 2008

Sunday Lunch

A little blurry, much like most Sundays...such a strange day, even during the long summer holiday. Bit hot and heavy again too.

I do like a bit of lettuce variation, and despite the iron saga, one good thing to come out of all the visits to Eroski (the supermarket) was finding that they had some oak leaf lettuce whole, not just in those little bags of mixed leaves, good stuff, that's what I say. Sometimes it's a good idea to get happy over little things....

The sausages are based on a recipe by Julie Hasson at Every Day dish (see link on right-hand side). The first time I made up her recipe "Spicy Italian Vegetarian Sausages" I followed it as closely as I could, with what I could find here, using rice flour instead of chick pea flour for instance. And they were great! I like the texture and taste, so much better than anything that I had bought, and I can't easily buy anything pre-prepared and veggie like that here anyway.

I now often add in some breadcrumbs (I did this time), as suggested by Susan at Fat Free Vegan (link on the right-hand side), not so much to change the texture (Susan's reason I think) but to make them a little cheaper - breadcrumbs are a lot cheaper than vital gluten. Not mean, resource conscious...

This time I added: 1 cup of breadcrumbs, and one cup of cooked mashed up chickpeas, one apple (peeled, chopped and microwaved with a little brown sugar to make a puree), I didn't have any chick pea or rice flour, so just left it out, and I added about a generous teaspoon of dried sage.

The sage is the main flavour, unfortunately the apple taste doesn't come through, maybe because I just had a royal gala on hand, which are pretty bland. I'd like to try this using a good cooking apple. Instead of making 8 sausages, like Julie (I usually make 10), I made 16 smallish sausages. A tasty, light variation.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

60 seconds of squeak

Lucky's new toy....he loved it so much he ate it....He's still trying to make it squeak.

Oh dear, not so much iron luck around here, happily trotted off to get a new one, happy to find a decent looking model on special offer. Took it home and... no steam or spray, just lots of drips. Oh. So I waited for it to cool down, packed it all up again and went back to the shop. Got a replacement and... it steams well enough, but the spray still doesn't work. Humph, might just keep it and use a spray bottle. 

I did get the gift finished though! And shucks - just realised I've wrapped and packed it all up without taking a photo. Ah well...perhaps I can get the recipient to model....

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Verduras a la plancha, pero la plancha no va...

Oh, my iron has broken! The light is on, but it's not heating up... sewing is at a standstill, just as I'm trying to get a gift finished to post off tomorrow. Shucks! Only one hem to go too. Least it didn't affect dinner (guess this word-pun only works in Spanish...) Yum, these vegetables were good, coated in an olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and rosemary mixture lovely. And plenty leftover to eat cold over the weekend. Ah, summer food, it was worth standing over the griddle for.

New feet

Picked up two parcels on Tuesday morning, unfortunately neither were the fabric I am waiting for. The first were a couple of craft punches, the second was two new presser feet and some stabiliser from Jaycotts. A pintuck foot, for making 2mm pintucks with a double needle, and a foot for free-motion embroidery. It's good trying something new and different. I love the look of pintucks, anything really that adds texture and interest to otherwise plain fabric. I tried it on some light cotton and I got ridges rather than pintucks, then I tried it with some really light cotton and I did get rows of even pintucks. Hmm, I tend to use heavier fabric, it's what I can get, ... but I'll still find some uses for that. The free motion foot made an immediate difference - I can see why it is essential for the free-motion quilting now, no need for a ring to hold the fabric, it's going to take quite a bit of practise to get pretty shapes, but it's good to have the option.

Anyway, this was really fast service from Jaycotts this time, I guess because the parcel was lighter they didn't have to contact me with the postage costs - they didn't charge any more for shipping to Spain - great. The double needles are 2mm organ needles, purchased ages ago in anticipation from an ebay shop. 

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Matching potholders

Matching potholders, originally uploaded by soja.

Two more gifts done! I might add a couple of recipes and wooden spoons or something to each apron/potholder.
The cheap (2.50€) fleece blanket from Ikea seems to work well as the padding in these. Easier for me to get hold of than wadding, so must remember this in the future.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Aprons - surely what everyone wants for Christmas...

Well, I hope so, because I've made these last night for two of my closest friends...Tell me that the dark striped apron looks masculine, or at any rate, like something a man is not going to object to wearing, heck, he bakes bread and makes sushi - surely he needs an apron. I'd wear it. Oh, that doesn't really count, being a woman and an' all. Humph.

Blast that I can't take decent pictures at the moment, not that it matters really, but somehow seeing them here and on flickr makes it worse, those coasters look better in real life, what can I say? I can't really blame the light either, not living in Southern Spain, but it's hard finding a clear space without a dog poking his nose in, hmm, whose fault is that? Not a question I want to answer. 

Anyway, the machine is reasonably happy at the moment so this were quickish to make, and I'm pleased with the results I'd be happy to receive one of these, so I hope that means they are good gifts - they are going to be packed up with matching pot holders (sewing on binding now).  I'd add some home-baked delicious something or other too, but the postage from here is staggeringly anti-social. It's cheaper in reverse, but that doesn't help me.

I must measure the pink stripey apron, because I did not use the dimensions in the book (Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol - "angry chicken" blog on the right). I did use the dimensions for the ties, and more or less instructions for the kangaroo pocket. I love the pocket. I'm more of a chefs apron type person, but I do like this apron a lot. The stripey apron is basically the tea towel apron, but I made the fabric into a tea towel first, perhaps slightly bigger. I didn't put in darts 'cos it's for a man, and they don't need this is a man's apron, really it is. All the material is from Ikea. Even the thread.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Let the coasters decide!

Double-sided coasters, originally uploaded by soja.

An idea for a Christmas present: double-sided round coasters with two choices, flip the coaster to decide what to drink (or eat or do etc).

I like the idea, I think it's a bit of fun, and I can imagine the person these have been made for sort of liking them (what do you give friend's husbands for Christmas anyway?!).

I thought that they needed to be round, to emphasise the "flip" bit of the idea, but this was quite fiddly to turn out and finish. At first I tried top stitching in straight stitch, but it looked a little wonky, then in a zig-zag, and eventually I hand stitched a running stitch around the edge with embroidery cotton, which I like the most. The cotton circles and letters are lightly interefaced, and there is a layer of batting in each coaster. These need to be pressed, the colour is off, probably because of the time of day, but there we are.

The lettering also took quite a while to cut out and applique, I did find myself thinking that if I had been making one-sided coasters I could have made four for the same time and effort. I'm tempted to make up some square, one-sided coasters with just the shapes, no lettering. I think they'd make pretty sets of four, though less fun.

I have lots of other ideas for decisions, I like the double-sided/flip idea. Perhaps I could stamp the letters or something to make them less time-consuming to make? Anyway, another Christmas present made...

Paper and card

Hmm, having problems uploading to flickr. Anyway, to remind myself what I've been doing. Playing with black silhouettes on white card. I've made a birthday card and this anniversary card, and am playing with some different shapes, birds, fish etc. hand cut from black sugar paper. The coloured punched out hearts are cut from plain origami paper, silver kitchen foil and pink foil from chocolate wrappers. I've added coloured leaves to black birds and colourful seaweed to fish silhouettes.

The rubber stamps I picked up at Lidl yesterday, I wasn't sure how well they would print, but the alphabet is fairly clear and crisp. Eighty-six stamps for €3.49 was worth the risk. I'm not sure if I'll use them for stamping exactly, but the letters are a good size for applique and it saves me a little time, not drawing my own letters, and I'm wondering if I can use the animals as embroidery guides...maybe. And now I have blue fingers. ;-) I wonder if I could use them to stamp on fabric with fabric ink?

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Serving its purpose

So, the good thing about taking those photos of the trousers...I could see for sure that they needed to be let down for a half inch or so. So keeping all this stuff together here on the blog is working. Also want to remind myself that I used the overlock stitch on the sewing machine for the first rime and it sort of worked and that I reduced the the seam allowance to 1/4" from 5/8" as it was easier for me to 'eye' this width. 

Experimented with free motion embroidery for the first time last night, just squiggles on calico, but it seems like fun. I've ordered a free-motion presser foot from jaycotts (and a pin-tuck foot) to play with. I think it might be a good way to add a pit of originality to bags and aprons and things.

I also actually managed to get up and go to the weekly market this morning, by not sleeping last night :-(, only to find that none of the usual three notion/haberdashery stalls were there. So no hunt for bra elastic... The 1€/m stall wasn't present either. But I did find a 3€ for a random length (around 1.5m) stall and got some interesting brown brushed cotton type stuff, some grey/blue suit/denimy fabric and some tan cotton (?) fabric with little red hens printed all over it. Hmm, good to have some variation from Ikea.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Daft portrait of the artist as a young(ish) woman

I can't take a picture of myself in these!! I don't have a full length mirror or a remote, so I used the timer and dashed in front of the camera. :-) Anyway, they are really comfortable and I am happy with the fit.

They are made with the pattern for the "yoga pants" (makes me think of gym knickers....) from S.E.W. by Diana Rupp. The only problem I have had with the book is the sizing - everything turned out way too big, so I made the small size, which should be too small but fits perfectly, so hopefully that will solve future problems.

These are made of what feels like cotton, from the 1€ a metre stall in the market. They are so comfortable and soft that I have been wearing them despite the colour which is a little brighter than my usual choices. My mother will be thrilled ("Darling, it's not black!"). I plan to make up another pair in some beige linen, when it finally arrives. Hmm almost two weeks, perhaps I should follow that up.

Oh, and hi Leopold Bloom, the title is for you.  

Our walk

Across the road, round the side of the old (not in use) bull-ring, turn left, a quick run in a loop in delight at the feel of grass under your paws and a sniff of the palm trees. Then a walk along the river, phew, fortunately not too smelly today.  Meandering from tree to tree, stopping here and there, cool grass and warm sun. Noticing how well Lucky is camouflaged  in the speckled light filtered through the leaves above. Amongst all this green being reminded by the sprinklers embedded in the earth and the graffiti sprayed on the walls that we are living in a city, all be it a small one. An urban dog and urban art. 

Too hot on the paws for our normal walk, so a little play on the stretch of rough grass the other side of the football stadium, chewing up some blades - what has he been eating? And then home for more coffee and more plans while it's still summer and there is still time for this slower pace, still time to idle way the day planning and thinking. Maybe with a purpose, and maybe not. Ah well, as the poem goes, "What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stop and stare?..."

Fabric, fabric, fabric

Ah, now just got to sew it all into something to justify buying it in the first place...

Taking myself to Ikea is an almost all day expedition, only one train every two hours, a 25 minute train journey, then a 15 minute walk to a bus stop for the bus, only one an can take a long time to even get there in the first place. I'd happily buy the fabric from a more local shop.... if there was one. The fabric in the weekly market and in the shops in closer larger cities, seems to be almost exclusively synthetic.... so Ikea has been my main source of materials. And when I'm offered a lift by a couple of colleagues I feel like I have to make the most of it and buy while I can. 

Hmm, which is a bit, um, uncomfortable for me. I decided to make gifts for my friends and relatives this year, and make my own clothes and furnishings, to avoid buying things just for the sake of it... and here I am buying fabric just for the sake of it. Oh. But kind of with plans for it. The plan wasn't so much to save money, which is just as well, because I don't think I have. I was fed up with buying gifts that I wasn't sure would be wanted. At least if I have made them they have been made while I have been thinking of the recipient, and I hope that even if they aren't wanted (eek!) the person receiving the gift knows that it has been made for them, with thought and love, handled with care. And it has stopped me buying clothes just because they are on sale, or because I feel like something new. 

The problem is, to make the making more enjoyable and satisfying for me, to help me practise and learn about what I am doing, I need to make more than one version of whatever it is I am making. This leads to having extra bags and bibs around that have been handled with care, but not with a purpose. Oh well, they are being saved up as future gifts. 

Friday, 15 August 2008

Alli's Bag

Alli's Bag, originally uploaded by soja.

OK, not perfect, but as a first go at making a bag completely from scratch, rather than altering an existing pattern, I'm pretty happy. It has ended up looking like they way I had planned it to look, so that can't be bad.
It's a messenger style bag, made from four basic pieces, the front, back, flap and then the bottom, sides and straps are one continuous strip of fabric. The strap is adjustable as it is tied. Next time I might try using a buckle and d rings, maybe with some webbing. I have some coming via ebay...
On the front, covered by the flap, there are pockets made from one lined and pleated piece. The larger pleated pocket has a snap fastener/tape closure. I made an inner zippered pocket for the first time, a little bit wonky...but hey - it's black and inside.
The outer fabric is red rust corduroy from the market (+ light/medium interfacing, perhaps a bit puckered...but I didn't think my sister would like a floppy bag), the inner fabric is black cotton from Ikea. lot's of things to work on, I've tried lining bags with brushed cotton (U.S. flannel, recommended in BTRS), but they are a little floppy, not sure about the interfacing either, this is a little puckered, maybe quilting with some wadding (batting) or something? Though maybe just some better interfacing - this stuff looked dodgy.

I've ordered some lovely olive green corduroy to bind the Spring Garden quilt (can you bind a quilt with corduroy? I don't know, it's my first quilt and I just have this idea of having it bound with corduroy...ah, making things up as I go along). I'm hoping that there might be enough fabric left over to make a bag for me. One thing my sister and I have in common, we love corduroy, so there you go. And if Allison is reading this, well, I guess you knew it was going to be a bag, and if Jeannie sees this, yup, you do recognise that fabric. :-)

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Breakfast Muffins

Breakfast Muffins, originally uploaded by soja.
I don't usually have sweet stuff for breakfast, but have been eating up the pineapple cake with coffee and felt like continuing to have a change from toast and marmite. And I think with the heat I am craving sweeter things.

The recipe was slightly adapted from "The Joy of Vegan Baking" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I couldn't find oat bran so used wheat bran, corn oil instead of canola, and some almonds instead of walnuts. Half filled with strawberry jam, and half with ciruela (plum) jam, but as they are ripe green plums, I think maybe they are what I'd call greengages. Because I don't usually eat jam either, yet have three jars of it in the fridge,  I wanted to use some of it up, I like having the splodge of jam in the middle.

N.B. Recipe made 12 not especially big muffins, not 16 as stated in book.

Cooler today, 32º, well I guess it's all relative after 40º yesterday it seems cooler, and the wind is fresher, so our walks today have been much more pleasant, and it wasn't too bad having the oven on to bake these. Now, I had better eat up that split muffin with a cup of strong black coffee....

Monday, 11 August 2008

New hat!

Terrible pictures, but it's hard to take a picture of a hat on my head and Lucky didn't feel like obliging by either wearing the hat or taking the picture...

Anyway, I'm really pleased with this (despite slightly wobbly top stitching). The fit is great, I made it just slightly, slightly smaller, maybe by 1/8" all round as I know I have a pin head. The brim is not too floppy and no puckers. I made the hat reversible, one of the suggestions in the tutorial. The fabric is thick, 100% cotton from Ikea.

The great tutorial and pattern is provided very kindly, and for free, at: I can't see the name of the provider anywhere, but thanks to them very much. 

Sunday, 10 August 2008

A Vegan Lunch Tin

A Vegan Lunch Tin, originally uploaded by soja.

Gosh, stainless steel shiny things are hard to photograph.

I thought I'd enter the contest at "The Vegan Lunch Box". I really enjoyed looking at all the different lunches she was making when her son was at school and thought it would be good to join in.

I'm going to try to write down my "recipes", all a bit vague, as I just do it as I go along, anyway, the easiest first...

Red cabbage and carrot coleslaw

1 cup finely sliced/shredded red cabbage (though it's purple...)

1 cup shredded/grated at a pinch carrot

1/2 finely sliced very small red onion


2 tbspn peanut butter (I used crunchy as it's what I had)

1 tbspn apple cider vinegar

dash (1 tspn?) olive oil

Black pepper, freshly ground

Whisk together and use to coat coleslaw.

Three-bean red pepper hummus

N.B. I soaked and cooked all three beans together, which means the pale coloured beans end up an unappetising greyish colour because of the black beans. This is no problem here because they are mixed with the red pepper. However, for a pepper free version it would be best to leave the black beans out, or if you are using pepper but are soaking a big batch of beans and want to use some of the beans for something else, just soak/cook them separately.

1/2 to 3/4 cup each of dried chickpeas, haricot beans and black beans, or any other combination, soaked and cooked (I cook in a slow cooker, fuss free). Or canned/jarred beans rinsed.

1/3 cup roasted red peppers (I used tinned peppers that also contain a little onion)

1 tbsp olive oil

juice of 1/2 to 1 lime

2 tbspn tahini

2 - 3 tbspn water

Black pepper, freshly ground.

Mashed up with an immersion blender.

Good as a dip too, being hummus and all.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Christmas boxers...

This came together easily, this is the large size from S.E.W. by Diana Rupp. I have been a little disappointed with the patterns, the info in the book is great, the first bag I made was simple and looked good, but the clothes patterns seem to be a bit shapeless and I've needed to adjust the three I've used so far (nightie, tank top and wrap skirt). Anyway, I think these look fine, they needed to be pretty big for the recipient...The cotton is really soft and I hope not too colourful, and of course, from Ikea...


Pineapple Ginger Upside-down Cake, this isn't burnt, I used a caramel type syrup for the top/bottom as I didn't have any golden syrup or stem ginger to use instead. It was the closest thing I could find here.
The recipe is adapted from one in "The Vegan Cook Book" by Nicola Graimes. I prefer the look of rings of pineapple instead of chunks, no stem ginger and I had no self-raising flour so used plain flour adding in 21/4 tspn extra baking powder, 1 tspn salt and 1/2 tspn baking soda. (N.B. to convert plain flour to self-raising, for every cup of flour add: 1 tspn baking powder, 1/2 tspn salt, 1/4 tspn baking soda). 
The recipe says to use an 8" round pan, I used a lined 7.5" pan and it rose and rose right over the tin, so next time I should use a bigger one. Taste is good, ginger just right and moist without being stodgy. Good with strong black coffee.

Pencil and Crayon Rolls

Pencil and Crayon Rolls, originally uploaded by soja.
These are going to be Christmas presents...... Trying to make use of the time I have now. All fabric is from Ikea, they are based on the pencil roll in Joelle Hoverson's 'Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts'. No lining layer as the Ikea fabric is more than thick enough. Pleased with the machine applique I added, N.B. if it's going to be visible on both sides (like the fish NOT the heart) it needs to be something that lokks fine upside down on one side (like the fish). Seam binding tape used for the ties. Crayons instead of pencils as I thought these might be easier for a young child. I like the way these came out....wonder who else I could give one to.....

Sewing machine cover

Sewing machine cover, originally uploaded by soja.

Yeah! Daylight.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

She knows; I'm crazy

How come when I'm stitching bags with multiple layers of fabric my poor little machine can't cope.....yet when I use more layers of fabric, and interfacing, to make a cover for her she sews through it all as easy as pie? And how come my machine has acquired a gender? (My inanimate objects are usually male, if anything, must be because lots of other sewers seem to have "she" machines, must have rubbed off.) And how come I'm thinking about a machine knowing what it is sewing and that's it for her/it. I must be going crazy. But I'm pleased with the cover.

 The dimensions were taken from the flimsy plastic cover that came with the machine. The top is interfaced to help the cover drape neatly. The outer fabric is thick cotton from Ikea and I lined it with some light lavender cotton. I added a small pocket to one side for a reel of cotton, so if I stop mid-project I can slip off the reel from the top of the machine and store it, so that the cover will still fit properly.

The handle slit is bound with home made (non-bias) binding using Autum's great technique (  Wonderful! She has just saved me from having to buy any more tape makers and now I can easily make any width tape I want. I'm really grateful! Cutting a strip of cardboard and folding the fabric over before I pulled it under the needle helped me to make both folds equal.  Bit dark for a photo tonight.

Other things, I am becoming a crazy pet person, I bought Jaffa a fluffy springy mouse toy and Lucky an inflatable swimming pool today (no more than €2.99 was spent on these items...) He didn't eat it, but didn't go in it either, he jumped into a shallow concrete pool on his walk and loved it, lying down in the water, which surprised me as he was a little scared of the sea last summer and doesn't like baths.  He was hit by a car yesterday evening, fortunately he's fine. He was on his lead as always, but suddenly took fright at something and jumped off the curb, luckily the car was travelling very slowly as the road is very narrow in that area and of course I pulled him away immediately, we were both pretty shaken. The photo at the top of this post was taken last summer on his first trip to the beach. 

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Birds and pouches

Birds and pouches, originally uploaded by soja.

And here are the birds from Joelle Hoverson's "Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts". They came out a little wonky, my fault, where I was having problems with the tension and having to unpick and resew the material got a little chewed and the filling was a bit lumpy, (filling taken from a cushion...). They are still pretty cute.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

I've been busy!

I've been busy!, originally uploaded by soja.

What else to do when it's too hot to sleep and you end up deciding it's better just to get out of bed, make some coffee, start the day, watch the dawn and have a siesta later? Well, cutting fabric is quiet, bibs and rectangular pouches are easy to cut out, and by the time things are pinned together, the toast has been eaten and the coffee drunk, it's not too early to start the sewing machine. The patterns for both are from Amy Karol's beautiful and inspiring book, "Bend the Rules Sewing".  Hey, and notice the use of the handmade bias tape. ;-)  These would have been quicker to make if my machine hadn't had tension problems, maybe because of the variety of thicknesses of the fabrics, from thin printed cotton (the white and pink fabrics) and the much thicker, almost furnishing thickness fabrics (everything else). And I decided making things in bulk was the way to go for gratification, less changing  of thread colours, and I could do things in batches, all the pressing together, all the turning right-side out, all the zips... I also made some matching little birds from Joelle Hoverson's very different but equally beautiful "Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts". I just need to stuff and hand stitch the openings on them. Course this all happened yesterday, which meant that I really over slept today, making up for a nights lost sleep. Well, I suppose it all balances out in the end. Much like many things in life. And balance is a good thing. Though maybe that depends what's being balanced.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Blackberry and Coconut ice-cream

Blackberry and Coconut ice-cream, originally uploaded by soja.

Purple ice-cream!! Well, more lavender coloured...Needs some work on the texture, and would be tastier with better blackberries, these could have been riper. Quite a "milky" taste from the soya yoghurt cheese. Made up as I went along:

1 tin of coconut milk,
approx 1 cup of homemade soya yoghurt cheese,
juice of 1 lime,
maybe a double barcardi to stop the mix freezing hard
about a dessert spoon of icing sugar,
approx 1/3 cup fresh blackberries.

Everything pre-chilled in fridge (except sugar and rum). Blended together with handheld immersion blender (except blackberries) berries stirred in (to keep them whole) and put into ice-cream maker.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

A goodnights work

A goodnights work, originally uploaded by soja.

Got it finished, just got to get to the post office to get it all sent off to the right people now. :-) Removing the batting just about made the quilting possible on the coasters, the fabric is definitely thick enough without it. Not perfect but liveable, changed the quilting a little to match the funky print, off-sided squares etc.

Had another go with the bias tape maker and yippee! It worked much better, perhaps the material was a little thick, but it worked, I held the biastape maker upside down and it seeme to make it easier to iron without ironing out the folds.  I followed the instructions in Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol except: I started with a 16" square, I drew and then cut a continuous 1" strip (magic!) to use in a 1/2" bias tape make (so when folded in half and used this will be 1/4" = I need a 1 or 1.5/2" bias maker, based on the binding I usually use. I ended up with almost 7m of tape. Cool. It was a bit narrow for the pot holder but it worked (hasn't pot holder got another name? Do we call them something different in England? Or does my particular family have another name for them? hmm, remember to ask Mum). Used some cotton batting left over from the Spring Garden quilt, and made up the pattern based on one I made years ago.

And sewing on card? Easy-peasy!! Will have to do this more often, although the colour adjust done on iphoto now looks um, horrible. What a lot of new stuff in one night/day.

Oh and making a mosaic using fd's flickr toys for the first time too (  woohoo!