Thursday, 8 October 2020

200 days of lockdown ...

The whole world is still in an altered state of reality, this year has been the most peculiar one I have known because Covid-19 is not done with us yet, it still intrudes on our daily life & we are aware that we ignore it at our peril .... 

I have chartered this progress with these posts: 

Living with social distancing & uncertainty

We are in the same storm, not the same boat

Lockdown - day 75

100 days of lockdown

As we approach 200 days of life changing times, many people are of the opinion that things are back to normal, the idea that some are invincible is evident on the high street. It is hard for several neighbours who are still shielding with health problems that put them in a vulnerable group. They have formed a little cocoon at home, away from people who might be carriers & for them, normal life is now their space. 

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." --Albert Einstein

200 days later, there is still so much we don’t understand about Covid-19 & we still don’t know why some healthy people end up on a ventilator, & why some barely have any symptoms,  yet can pass it on. The pressing issue of many scientists is to find a vaccine to protect us from this insidious disease. Only a vaccine can eliminate the fear that exists. We need to be better prepared for a future pandemic, both personally & nationally. 

Many of us have used lockdown to reset our busy lives; the expression of what normal is worth returning to has been a topic of conversation as we evaluate our time. 

Lockdown has been a fertile time for creativity in all its forms because the luxury of time has been valuable to learn new skills.  

I have learnt how to work safely as an Elective Home Education Tutor in the homes of my students - it is a different way, with a risk assessment drawn up to protect us all. My pupils have got used to seeing my various clear visors, the wiping down of surfaces where I work (the parents graciously accepting that I have to clean it myself); the incessant sanitising between students, the digital thermometer I carry in case someone is flushed, the double checks to make sure all are well, the social distance & unable to share stationery etc - it is a new way of doing things but we are making it work for us. 

We are more conscious of the routines we need to keep ourselves & others safe, but for many it is a rare time to reflect on separations from friends & family. We had tentatively planned a trip to South Africa this November to introduce him to his new great grandson, born in lockdown. However, with flights severely restricted to South Africa, this cannot happen. We are all influenced by circumstances & we must bear it as well as we can by keeping up with phone calls several times a day. Dad’s phone fills up with cute photos so he doesn’t miss out at all, precious times when we must reflect & be grateful for modern phones that contact so much easier. 

So as this marks 200 days since we have faced lockdown in various forms in the UK, I send love, light & blessings for all my followers wherever you are .... 

Thank you for your company, each & every visit & comment is much appreciated, 
Dee ~πŸ’•~


Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Apple & cherry tart

 Hi all, 

Do you sometimes find the best recipes come from when you 'wing' it? I had Godsons coming for supper on a very wet Shropshire day & was thinking what to do for pudding.  

I opened the fridge & found two Bramley cooking apples & some tart Braeburn ones too, along with a punnet of fresh cherries that were very ripe. I hate waste so I used a ready made sweet tart case I had & decided on fruit tart.

I peeled & cut the Bramleys in to slices, left the lovely red skin on the Braeburns & then stewed them briefly in a sugar syrup made with dark sugar, cloves & cinnamon - the kitchen smelt absolutely heavenly with the scent of the spices. 

I drained the apple slices over a sieve to reserve the sugar syrup & added a bit more sugar to it & left it to reduce & thicken on the stove. 

I layered the apples in rounds along the edges of two tart cases alternating with the red skins between to give it contrast, then came the hard bit - taking the pips out of each & every cherry. I know you can get a gadget to stone the cherries, but since I do not have one,  I cut each & pulled the pip out. My hands turned a crimson red because the ripe cherries were so juicy. 

I arranged the halved cherries on top of the apple slices then warmed some apricot jam with a few spoons of the sugar syrup & brushed that all over the top. 

The tarts were then baked for about 20 minutes at 180C until the cherries collapsed slightly as they cooked. 

Apple & cherry tart with a thick spicy sugar syrup on the sideboard, ready for us ... 


Sugar syrup in a saved maple syrup bottle - perfect ... 

The tarts were cooled & one was used for supper with a choice of thick cream or ice-cream & a drizzle of the sugar syrup over it - it went down an absolute treat & I have another tart ready for visitors expected tonight. 

Supper in the conservatory while some thunder rumbled overhead; a socially distanced supper with friends to just catch up on life. 


My conservatory is my favourite room at home with doors straight on to the patio & the garden & beautiful light all the time. It was good to hear how the Godsons are doing & their hopes as they get ready to start a whole new school year again. We do not know what challenges this one will bring, but that is out of our hands. 

Thank you for your company, each & every visit & comment is much appreciated, 
Dee ~πŸ’•~

Sunday, 9 August 2020

A hand sewn needle book gift

 The slower rhythm of lockdown has given me more time to do crafts & things unhurriedly. Our time is usually interrupted by visitors or visiting but in these times when we are still being cautious & doing our own thing, the quiet time has been inspiring. 

One of my longtime blog supporters & Instagram ‘friends’ kindly sent me some hand painted drawings for my big birthday in April & I wanted to send her something special in return. She follows a local (to me) craft lady who makes the most stunning needle books & I have decided to make one as a gift in the same style as Viv’s because it is a style I have used myself. 

I gathered some fabric, buttons, lace, threads, padded quilting etc in the colours I wanted to use. I absolutely love vintage fabric & have quite a collection of bits & bobs. Some years back I spent a day doing a Gentlework course with a very talented lady & I love her style which is my type of hand sewing  ....
Don’t you just love the softness of this collection of textiles ... 
I love time faded fabric & linens - if only they could speak of all the places they have been.
Another beautiful set of beautifully faded & dyed vintage fabric. A seller I regularly use on Ebay dyes vintage fabrics & I love using her things. 
Mixing old & new is important to me - I love Tilda fabrics for their modern vintage look 
My faithful pin dog who is always at hand for the many pins needed for projects. I have also discovered sewing / quilting clips & they are absolutely brilliant for holding thicker fabrics together. The sewing pages got bulky & these were perfect ... 
I love good quality threads for hand sewing details because they are strong enough & give a much nicer stitch quality. Whenever I visit a fabric shop, I admit to always browsing the threads too ... 
I love these two buttons that I bought ages ago & they are just perfect for this project. 
I learnt to embroider as a child with my mother. Hers was always so neat that it was hard to tell front from back, something I have not attained but I love the rhythmic nature of hand sewing. This is one of my sort of colour coded thread boxes ... 
I always get so distracted in selecting the fabrics & textiles I want to use. I love these hand dyed silk bits. 
So much choice, it is hard to decide which look I want ... 
These threads will go well with the fabrics .... 
The outer cover in progress - some vintage floral fabric with a couched edge using dyed silk ribbon. Because it is padded, the edging blanket stitch in a bold embroidery thread, was tricky to get through the layers of batting, fabrics & linen - fortunately I have several well used thimbles... 
I made a little pin with charms to reflect Lynda’s hobbies of painting & drawing & also her faith. I do love the dyed lace panel to hold those many bits we all use. 
Some more Tilda fabric on the inner pages ... 
I used very soft cotton interlining as the inner pages - it is soft enough to just pop pins of needles in & again I kept to the same colour range. 
The last page had another lace panel as well as a lightly padded heart that could be used as a little pin cushion. 
The front panel with vintage fabric, lace, the pretty button, all edged with a blanket stitch. 
My other pin holder with the many needles holding the various needles & threads I have used. 

The back needed something else so I felted a complimentary section to add to it. Felting is a relaxing hobby - the gentle process means that you can control the whole process. 
The inner front cover details ... 
I also love beading so added some coloured beads to this little pocket ... 
A vintage lace panel on top of new fabric, I love how well they sit together. 
Co-ordinating  the colours, threads, pins is important ... 
The pink fabric with the co-ordinated pins, lace & threads ... 
The back pocket with the pink fabrics - some old, some new. 
The completed front page ..
The silk ribbon ties it all together so well .... 
The back cover with the couched fabric & the felted panel 
I know, I got a bit carried away & it ended up a generous size but sewing needs lots of things .... 
I have loved this project so much & am delighted that it was loved as much as I loved doing it. 
My previous needle books I made were much more modern so this one has been an interesting project. 

The joy of hand sewing & creating things that are very unique is hugely satisfying because this is a once off - it cannot be replicated exactly because the fabrics are small vintage pieces. I think it is easy on the eye. Hand sewing has to reflect the stitch imperfections - I could mark out perfectly even stitch marks to use but then it borders on machine work & that is something us hand sewers have to come to terms with. 

Thank you for stopping by, reading, following & leaving a comment. Each visit is appreciated. 
Dee ~πŸ’•~

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

A special hand sewn reminder of a wedding in Vendee

Hi everyone,

Welcome & thank you for stopping by.

Some of you know the story of the two weddings daughter had - she wanted a quiet, personal wedding, away from social media, & fuss; a quiet legal wedding in the family town in Dorset, then 20 of us adjourned to a Castle 'La BergeliΓ¨re' chateau in the Vendee region in France where they had a celebrant led blessing they planned themselves.

During lockdown when I had a lot of time, I decided that it is time to do the Vendee entwined hearts as a reminder of that happy event for daughter & her hubby.  Sometimes the planning takes up more time than doing it - it took ages to get the plan sorted in my head of how I wanted to do it.

I used a printed pattern from a Vendee desk flag I had ordered from France. It gave me the outline I needed & I then made a cardboard template from that. Once inspired I decided to do two complimentary but different versions because it was so interesting interpreting my ideas - one in pink, one in blue.

I used French toile fabrics & drew a family crest outline which was done in a soft cream fabric, & the other in a faded vintage floral fabric.

For the pink version I couched the heart outline in various gold threads - couching is a new technique & this project was the perfect choice for it.  The cross shape at the top was beaded with gold beads ....


 Couching gold threads in the shape of the double, entwined hearts


 I decided to stamp my initials on the reverse of the canvas. The stamps needed the Ikea Fabric pen to make it darker ...

The blue one was made by strengthening blue & gold toile then cutting out the heart shapes. I hand stitched gold seed / rice stitching to fill in the heart shape. I also filled in around the crest with  two blueish beads in the random seed stitching way. It is a stitch I really have come to love because to look random, it actually needs some thought. I like the way the fill in gold stitches & the beads sit well together as they are the same stitch used in a different way ...


I added two dogs as their two precious Vizsla’s accompanied us to France & they are very much part of their lives.


I added these initial charms because that is their combined initials now with their little one & it is daughters name too ....


Sewing details of the processes to make the pink / raspberry one
The pink one had hand beading all around the lace edge .... 

Details of the process on the blue & gold crest, again there is a lot of hand stitching with the outline having a bold blue blanket stitch outline  . The beading had not yet been done around the shape ... 


Two different weddings, two very different outfits - their Dorset wedding 



A personal celebrant celebration in France - spot the dog who I added to the pink crests ...




A fairytale dress for a fairy tale chateau


 The Vendee crest that hung above the fireplace in the kitchen & it was evident all over the little town too - I thought the entwined hearts were perfect so that was my inspiration ...




The completed crests on the bought cream canvas flags / pendants 


Thank you for stopping by & gifting me some of your time. I hope you have enjoyed the process of creating a unique gift. Do you have a preference from the above?
Dee ~πŸ’•~