Sunday, 29 March 2015

...learning to sew

I made a post a couple of weeks ago describing some of my sewing fears (Saturday morning sewing), and I have decided to do something about it.

vintage threads, kilner jar

Sewing is supposed to be something I enjoy and when it gets to the point where it is not enjoyable and I was beginning to question why I was doing it I took a step back and had a think.  I decided that I was being a bit hard on myself and that because there is so much free information and self help videos on the internet that I can learn all I need to know and while this method has been very helpful it has not given me all the answers I am looking for, so I have signed up for a 6 week sewing class.

We will be using the new look 6176 pattern

The course sets out to

  • show how to measure yourself to get a correctly fitting garment
  • how to interpret all the pattern markings
  • cutting out and tacking your garment in preparation for sewing
  • techniques for darts, seams, hems, buttonholes and zips

This seems to tick off a lot of things that I have been struggling with and that in turn should help with building my confidence.

I am also looking forward to the camaraderie and inclusion that usually comes in this type of learning environment. 

Have you made new Look 6176? Do you have any top tips?

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

..a weekend in St Ives

Wow what a weekend!

We took the night train down to Cornwall on Thursday, arriving into St Ives on Friday morning in plenty of time to pick a prime location to watch the solar eclipse.  I had gone armed with a couple of pieces of A4 paper one with a pinhole carefully placed in the middle but on the day it was a big fat fail and was swiftly consigned to the bin.  There were plenty of people around each with their own methods of viewing including colanders, special glasses and a welding mask, all with varying degrees of success.

  It got extremely cold when it reached it's peak so we used this as a good excuse to nip off and get a cuppa.

I couldn't get a decent shot of the eclipse but I was fascinated by the way the light played on the sea and wet sand

We were staying at the Pedn Olva hotel and had paid a premium for a room with a balcony, it was nice to have somewhere to sit out and the view was glorious. Overlooking Porthminster Beach it is a view I could be happy to enjoy everyday.

view from the balcony at the Pedn Olva

Pretty much every time we go away one of us will have forgotten to pack something, this time it was my turn, I had forgotten my PJs.  A quick trip to the Cath Kidstonshop  found a smashing pair in their half price sale.

If we were writing a tick list of things to do at the seaside it would look something like this

  • walk on the beach
  • cream tea
  • fish and chips
  • play on the penny slots
  • watch the sun go down
  • take lots of photos
  • walk along the pier

and I am happy to say we ticked off the lot

On Sunday morning I was blessed by one of the local seagull population, right down the sleeve of my coat. Obviously we rushed to the nearest newsagent to buy a lottery ticket! However, it doesn't seemed to have brought any good luck so far!

Sunday night we eagerly boarded the sleeper train dropped our bags off in our berth and headed for the buffet car. We were chatting away when we realised that the time had passed for us to depart but there was no sign of us going anywhere.  With that a member of staff announced that there was a problem with the radio system in cab that meant it was not being tracked properly, clearly a serious issue and it couldn't be repaired quickly. the sleeper train was not going to run that night.  A replacement service was to be run but it was just a normal train and would not offer the sleeping berths, it would arrive into Paddington around 5 o'clock but unlike the sleeper train we would not be able to stay on board.  The majority of passengers were happy to go with this but it was not suitable for us as our connecting train was not until much later so the staff organised a hotel for us.

Sleeping berths on the Night Riviera

The following morning we took a revised route opting to avoid changing in London and chose to change at Birmingham instead.  This was a decision we regretted a few hours later as a goods train had derail outside of Birmingham causing a number of trains to be cancelled, re-routed or delayed. We eventually got back to Nottingham at 6 o'clock, 25 hours after leaving St Ives.  I could do with another weekend away to get over my weekend away!

What would be on your list of things to do at the seaside? Are there any places you always visit in St Ives?

Monday, 16 March 2015

...taking the night train to Cornwall

This weekend I intend to run away to Cornwall for the weekend with my husband.  We love Cornwall and a couple of years ago we discovered the sleeper train so now we try and squeeze it in  every year as one of our weekend jaunts.

The Rivera Night train

I would think most of will have dozed off on a train at some point but the Sleeper train or the Night Riviera to give it it's official title gives you the chance to get tucked in bed in your PJs as the train hurtles along.  The sleeping compartment is a small room with a top and bottom bunk, a sink and just enough room for you stand up and brush your teeth.  There is a complimentary bottle of mineral water, a bar of soap and a small towel provided for your ablutions.

The Paddington Bear statue at Paddington Station

The train departs from Paddington Station and you can get on board from 10.30 onwards, you are greeted by the attendant for your carriage and shown to you room, effectively checking into your hotel on wheels. You agree a time for your wake up call and they take your breakfast order which is a served to you in bed, I think the the choice is bacon roll or cereal .

As the rooms are so small most people head for the buffet car where there is a comfy seat and the usual array of hot & cold drinks and snacks, hot drinks are complimentary to sleeper car passengers and usually come with a packet of shortbread on the side.

Apart from the size of the rooms there are a couple of other things to be aware of, there are no showers on board although you can use those at Paddington Station free of charge on production of your sleeper berth ticket, but I have never tried it.  Because you are on a train the loos are only available at the end of each carriage, it is a bit bizarre if you have to go in the middle of the night as you are walking down the corridor of a train in your PJs as it meanders though the English countryside.  These are not modern trains, I would guess they are from the 1980s so there are no power points or mobile charging points.

One of the reasons I love doing this journey is because I live in Nottingham and for us to drive down to St Ives it would take at least 5 and a half hours each way. That is a lot of time to spend in a car for a weekend away and  we would probably need to stop to replenish the Haribos.  By taking the night train on a Thursday evening we get an extra day on our holiday as we are there first thing Friday morning.

The other thing I love about this journey is the little train journey from St Erths where we leave the sleeper train to head off to St Ives, without a doubt this has got to be one of the prettiest railway journeys.  If you are in this neck of the woods I would strongly recommend that you pay a few quid to do this journey,

View from the train between St Erths and St Ives

I always go the man in seat 61 when I am planning this journey it is such a helpful site and it has  a static display of the timetable which makes it easy to refer to.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

.... Saturday morning sewing

I set aside this morning to do so some sewing, I am making a top which I had already cut it out so it was just a case of working through the instructions and cracking on with the sewing.  The thing is I got very little done and I kept breaking off to make tea and it has just dawned on me that I was sabotaging myself and wasting the time that I had set aside, I think I have a case of sewing fear.

I am not a prolific sewer nor am I very accomplished, to date I have made a bag, a few cushion covers, a couple of skirts and a dress. I haven't sewed since the end of last summer when I made the dress for my daughter, in all honesty I think it is only now that I realise I was too ambitious and it was beyond my level of experience and that it has knocked my sewing confidence.

Here are a few things that I think are holding me back and my plans for tackling them

  • Lack of confidence -  I need to build my confidence back up, I aim to do this by facing my fear that it could go wrong and remind myself that I still have my sewing L plates on so it is OK to mess it up. I might also  take a step back and make something like a simple bag to give myself a boost.
  • I don't always understand what the pattern is telling me to do - I keep my laptop near me when I am sewing so that if I come across something I don't understand I can look it up on the internet and try and work out what I am being asked to do.  Sometimes this works well but it can lead to me being distracted as  I end up reading blogs or pinning things on Pinterest.  Experience will help to increase my knowledge and a bit of self discipline is needed to keep me from being distracted.
  • I don't know if I am making the correct size - I have already learnt that pattern sizes and shop sizes bear no resemblance to each other, I have taken my measurements (which are not pretty reading) and tried to workout the best size for me. The top I am working on at the moment I thought I had selected the correct size but when I pinned it together for a trial fit before I started sewing it but seemed a bit tight on the bust.  I think this needs a combination of experience, research and lettuce leaves.
  • Will my garment be wearable - only if you make it in the first place

Have you suffer from sewing fear?  Do you have any advice on how to deal with it?

Thanks for reading, please feel free to leave a comment :)

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Red Nose Day

I have spent my evenings this week making sweets, cookies and cakes to sell at work for our  Red Nose Day fundraiser.

I kicked off the week with cheats fudge from Hope and Greenwood's Sweets Made Simple book.  As promised it was very simple to make, it went down very well and best of all raised £10.00 for RND.

I really enjoyed the TV series that the book accompanied and I love Kitty Hope's style, she can really rock a vintage look.

My second make was Golden Syrup honeycomb, I have made this recipe loads of time but for the first time ever I managed to not only burn the mix but I also burnt the pan!  In fairness the pan was on its way out the door and its only my lack of focus that has meant it wasn't replaced sooner.

Not to be beaten I brought a new pan the following day and set to to make the honeycomb again, It looked perfect but when I whisked in the bicarb I didn't get the usual reaction of a volcanic flow of molten gold.  It was a very much subdued reaction and when I poured it into the tin it was very flat and didn't bubble up. I left it to cool while I tried to work out what had gone wrong, the answer was sitting on the counter top, I had picked up the baking powder and not the bicarb.  It was a lot more brittle than usual and the bubble were very much smaller, in some ways it was more like the crunchies you can buy in the shops.

So I still needed to make another batch as I know some of my colleagues love a bit of chew in their homeycomb so batch number 3 was made, I managed to use all the right ingredients and it resulted in the chewiest honeycomb I have ever made.

So now I need to experiment with a bicarb/baking powder mix to see what results I get with that, but I think I will be saving that for a little while I think we are all honecombed out.

 A batch of the Anthony Worrall Thompson cookies along with a batch of Mary Berrys Double Chocolate cupcakes finished off my contribution to our Comic Relief fund raiser

Time for a cup of tea and watch the Great British Sewing Bee on catch up, I might have to consumer test one of the cupcakes :)

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

....starting something new


So I finally got round to starting my blog, I have been toying with the idea for a while and here I am. I have carried out extensive research by reading loads of other blogs and in all honesty I haven't a clue how this is going to work but if I don't make a start I will never find out. Any tips, help or advice would all be very gratefully received!

My intention is to use this space to share with you some of the things that  I love in my life. Like most people my family is my number one love, but it would be pretty boring for anyone who reads this if that was all I wrote about, although they may make the odd guest appearances from time to time.

Inspired by the likes of Kirstie Allsopp, Great British Bake Off and the Great British Sewing Bee I dabble at a very basic level in sewing, knitting, crafting and baking so I will share my triumphs and failures.

These are some chocolate chip cookies I made last week using an Antony Worrall Thompson recipe I found on the internet. The recipe is really easy to follow but do make sure you rest it in the fridge as it has so much butter it goes very soft. I have made this before and substituted the chocolate chunks for Smarties.  Hopefully the link below will take you through to the recipe on he BBC

So there we go blog post number one complete with a photo and a link!