Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Crafty: Marlene's Mittens

Marlene's mittens

So I've been pretty busy the last two weeks which is why I haven't had the chance to post anything - sorry! Last Monday was my GRADUATION! It was a really lovely day but very tiring and I was more than ready for a good nights sleep. This weekend we celebrated my little brothers birthday and so a trip home was needed. Harry and I made him a baked cheesecake from one of my favourite cookbooks - Tea With Bea. 

Marlene's mittens

Last week I finished these mittens, ready for the autumn. I found the pattern on raverly as a free download - Marlene's Mittens. The pattern was easy to follow and I now have such a comfy and warm pair of mittens. It involves working a broken rib - one row rib followed by one row knit. They were so quick to knit particularly as 5mm dpns as used. 

I purchased the yarn from Wool in Bath a few months ago (it is such a lovely shop with an amazing selection) and is Debbie Bliss Riva in Woodland (027). The yarn produces a lovely heathery colour and texture which was the reason I fell in love with it first and just had to buy it!

Marlene's mittens

I have now moved onto three knitting projects at the same time, alternating between them when I crash in front of the TV after work. Stay tuned for these still to come!


Sunday, 19 July 2015

Crafty: Tilly and the Buttons - Bettine (wearable toile)


So this week has been the first week at work and back into a proper "working routine" after what seems like an entire summer holiday its self off. I'm really glad to be back busy all day especially as if I'm home with nothing to do for too long I just end up spending too much on fabric and patterns (not too bad though)! I have also started watching RuPaul's Drag Race - which is amazing. Harry and I have been addicted to it and have finished off an entire season in less than an week. I love the challenges where they have to make their costumes the best - to be able to come up with such amazing concepts like that is something I definitely cannot do.


Last week I saw that Tilly and the Buttons had launched two new patterns (Bettine and Fifi). I had never sewn one of Tillys patterns before but when I saw the two together for £20 I had to order them, also any dress with pockets steals my heart. I decided to make a wearable toile of Bettine first as I had some fabric brought in the sale from M is for Make. I didn't expect the fabric to be quite as brown - but this was definitely my fault as I forgot that I had left Flux on the computer which turned it more of a maroon colour. Nether-the-less I think the wearable toile turned out pretty well and will be a nice dress to wear in the autumn with tights and a cardigan.


The instructions were nice and easy to follow, with great colour photographs of the stages. Its definitely a pattern I would recommend for beginners as it was quick and simple - for example it has kimono sleeves which are very straight forward.


I didn't have the correct width of elastic so ended up using 1 inch instead of 1/2 inch wide which the pattern calls for. I think that on retrospect I should have gone up a size for the skirt as it was a little tight on my hips and I prefer it to be looser. I will definitely be making another but I think I will adjust the pattern to make the skirt a bit more "flowy". I made a size 3 for the top with a 4 for the skirt.

L xx

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Crafty: Grainline - Scout Tee (X2!)

After getting back from holiday I have been able to go on a sewing spree - in the sense that I become insanely productive for a couple of days and turn the living room into (in Harrys words) a "sweat shop". He really puts up with it so well, particularly when there are spray pins in the carpet and not an inch of table free. I also had a big reorganise of my sewing cupboard (really its half a cupboard as Harry uses the other half for his brewing) and divided the useful scraps from the not-so-useful scraps.  So now I have a big Wilko's plastic box full of useful bits of fabric!

I have been eyeing up the Grainline Scout Tee pattern for sometime, particularly as I loved making the Moss Skirt (yet to post up!) and Archer Shirt. I ended up making 2 tees in the space of 24 hours and using some useable scraps. The problem with using scraps is that I found you sometimes have to divide a pattern piece and sew the parts together, which is what I ended up needing to do for the tiger tee.

Tee 1
Tiger stripe in pink from Cotton + Steel  - I had brought this to make a pair of pj shorts so had a large amount left over. You can see where I have had to cut the back pattern piece as two parts as there was not quite enough fabric - however I think it worked out pretty well looking like a back yoke detail! I love my french seams and so ever since learning how to do them all my projects have had them. I just love having such a clean and tidy finish with no raw edges.

Tee 2
Light weight cotton from Etsy - so cool and easy to wear although slightly see-through. The fabric is slightly off-white (as it is unbleached). I am planning on wearing this tee with a black skater skirt (stay tuned) for my graduation in a few weeks. 

L xx

Friday, 10 July 2015

Recipe: Ratatouille Cassoulet

Both ratatouille (surprisingly hard to spell) and cassoulet are my favourite French dishes. They are such good comfort food and so versatile. This recipe is my hybrid mix to the two and is vegan. I used aubergine as the main part of the "meat" of the dish but I think adding a courgette and some red pepper would make it even better (and maybe get another portion out if it). I served it with herby mashed potato but quinoa, bulgar wheat or crusty bread would be equally good.

I think that both ratatouille and cassoulet are both best made in an oven proof pan (Le Creuset to be truly French but any will do!) and slow cooked for as long as possible - this way the tomato sauce develops such a deep savoury flavour. Make sure to check halfway through and top up with water if needed.

Makes 3-4 portions

Ratatouille Cassoulet:
1/2 medium red onion
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 large aubergine
1 can cannellini or haricot beans (or 70g dried cannellini or haricot beans soaked over night in water and cooked)
2 sundried tomatoes
Handful of dried mushrooms
1 medium carrot
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
3 tsp sunflower or olive oil
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp dried Herbs de Provence
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
500ml water
Fresh herbs - e.g. tarragon, thyme, rosemary, oregano

  1. Set the oven to 180℃ in preparation for the oven proof pan. 
  2. Place the pan on a medium heat with 2 tsp of the oil and add the red onion roughly sliced. Once translucent add the garlic cloves crushed with the cumin seeds. Next add the aubergine sliced with the remaining tsp of oil.
  3. Once the aubergine is cooked through add the carrot grated, chopped sundries tomatoes and dried mushrooms. Next add the Herbs de Provence, paprika and bay leaf. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and water. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the salt and red wine vinegar. If using fresh herbs add the now before placing in the oven for 1 hour. After 30 minutes carefully remove the pan from the oven with oven mitts, give it a stir and top up with water if needed.
  5. After a total of 1 hour in the oven it is ready to eat - as mentioned above serve with mashed potato, crusty bread, quinoa or bulgar wheat.

L xx

Monday, 6 July 2015

Adventures: Lake District

This month has been so busy - final exams, results, Budapest, Lake District and finally home. June feels like it has just flown by and I can't believe that we are in July already. I have to say I am glad to be back at home in Bristol and looking forward to starting my summer job next week (I like to keep busy).

Harry and I decided to take a holiday camping in the Lake District and we ended up near Ambleside and Elterwater. Getting there meant taking the train which meant changing twice and then a bus and then walking to the campsite. On reflection a whole week camping may have been a little much - particularly as the last day was one big thunderstorm, making packing up a soggy tent not fun. Overall it was a great holiday and we would definitely do it again.

Day 1: Arrival into Windermere train station, bus to Ambleside and walk to campsite. Once we arrived we mostly spent the time setting up camp and going to the pub for a pint.

Ducks at Stickle Tarn
Day 2: Ventured around the campsite and located the nearest shop. We then walked to Stickle Tarn - up the much steeper than anticipated path and where we met these ducks whilst having our lunch. Then to the national trust pub for a hot chocolate (for me) and a pint (for Harry).

View from the Crinkle Crags
Bowfell sumit
Day 3: We decided that we needed to tackle one of the big "hills" and being such a beautiful day be headed to the Crinkle Crags and Bowfell. This walk was long but I really loved it, especially how the Crinkle Crags just keep going and going.

Day 4: This was supposed to be our rest day which included walking to Grasmere and then Ambleside - but seeing as we naïvely misinterpreted the map it ended up being a pretty good hill climb too. Walking from Grasmere to Ambleside via Rydal water was lovely particularly as it was so hot. Once in Ambleside we did a little shopping and caught the bus back to the campsite.

Day 5: After the failure to have a rest day the day before we decided to just stay around the campsite. Again the weather was lovely - a little too hot if anything. Being in the tent provided very little shade so we walked down to Great Lansdale Beck and spent the day reading our books.

Money tree near Cathedral caverns
Day 6: Before planning the trip we came across a walk which included Skelwith Force and Colwith Force waterfalls along with exploring the Cathedral caverns around Lingmoor Fell. The walk itself was pretty easy will little hills to climb but was great. We did not expect the caverns to be quite so dark... I'm not sure why especially as we knew that head torch. The longest tunnel is over 100m long and was really quite dark and scary - but we go through! On the way back from the caverns we came across the money tree above where people have put coins into the bark resulting in a pretty surreal object to come across in the woods. Has anyone else come across this before?

Morning after the storm
Swimming river
Day 7: Having rained all night with thunder and lightening the hills looked so beautiful with the morning mist. We decided to have an easy walk around the Langdales, so as to allow time to start packing for leaving the next day. After the walk and some packing we went down to Great Lansdale Beck for a swim - well that was the plan and after getting knee deep in the cold water I just wasn't brave enough (unlike Harry who was having a great swim around). 

Day 8: Journey home to Bristol! 

More photos up on my Flickr.

I also have an announcement - I have opened an ETSY SHOP! Have a look here... I'm just waiting for some more supplies to come and will be adding some more listings. Any suggestions for a better name for the shop are more than welcome! I'm at a serious loss. 

I am also working on some new recipes and have some sewing projects lined up! Bring on the summer!!

L xx