Wednesday, 6 June 2012

WOW: Travel WIP 1

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

Not enough hand luggage to bring along any real WIPs, so here's some
airplane food whilst I wait for all your WIPs to join in the linky party...

I was at a newstand yesterday, looking for something interesting
 and all I could think was, I wonder what's on WOW this week?


Monday, 4 June 2012

Up In The Air

As you're reading this, I should be landing in Vienna after a long flight.

It really surprises me how much technology can change your habits and the way you view things.
After so many of you replied to my questions (thank you) regarding the usefulness of a Kindle (over carrying books during travel) I decided that I definitely needed one. DH got us both a tablet instead. I must admit, I wasn't impressed at the time - I mean, it looked like just another device to me....and one I'd have to take the time to learn! Android learn! And I'm already time poor so when it comes to WIPs, I like them to quilting based - not techno learning based!

But I have had to admit whilst packing for this trip that I realised how very grateful I am that he did choose a tablet over a Kindle on it's own. Because now I can send emails, read kindle books, read magazines, browse the web, check into yahoo group, blog and skype ...all in the weight of a sketchbook! It's wonderful. One less piece of baggage - the laptop is now obsolete for travel and that's 3kgs off my shoulders and it lasts hours longer than my laptop battery did too! For once I'm really pleased with technology.

Well, the changes didn't stop there.
Here I am modelling my travel poncho.
Isn't it nice??!

Last year when I was flying, I decided that I needed a poncho. I don't especially like poncho's but I get cold easily when I travel and airplanes are either too hot or too cold for me and the idea of carrying around an extra jumper for the airplane was a waste of hand luggage space...and my pashmina wasn't warm enough and I always feel funny about the blankets on airplanes. So, here it is. I also have one in teal, just for a change on the way back home!

Speaking of hand luggage space, last year I promised myself I would not take on a 'handbag' as hand luggage onto a flight again. All my handbags are too roomy, I always overfill them and it's always such a nuisance to manage as well as a suitcase. So just for the airport and the airplane ...for the first time I have decided to use a backpack.

Here I am wondering if it really is such a good idea, I'm not exactly the backpacking type

but you know, I can't argue with how practical it is and I've reached a point where things have to be as practical and easy and possible. No more limping with an overfilled handbag, I strictly packed mine in my suitcase (at the bottom) so I wouldn't change my mind at the check in counter.

And I'm off!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

WOW: Quilting Bits & Pieces

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

Quilting has a way of taking up room. It just has. Today I am sorting through a shelf to make more room. And it's not just the quilts, it's all the interests associated around quilting as well. This has been on my mind a lot these last few weeks as I have been trying to minimise my tools to keep them contained in my studio...and not the 'studio and around the house'. I find I can fill my studio up all too quickly, which sees me move into the kitchen area...and I think I have to get practical about what I need and don't need or we will all end up living in a quilting museum, but without the floorspace!

But this is so much harder than it sounds. In quilting, you can't apply the 'has it been used within the last 12 months?' rule for deciding whether to keep or give something away, because with quilting it's not about time exactly, it's all about intentions, and I do genuinely intend to use all my quilting tools at some later stage for some later project.

Luckily some items are easier to let go of. In theory anyway, none of these magazines have actually left my house yet. But you can see I have sorted and bagged them and they will be leaving. Yes, I am talking quilting magazines, I used to purchase several every month without fail, I even had subscriptions so I wouldn't miss a thing. Clearing out my shelves, it dawned on me that I haven't purchased a quilting a very long time. What happened? Blogging! Bogging feels (and is!) so immediate, I don't feel the need to buy magazines anymore. And when I do, I like them in digital format. I never thought I'd say that, but I actually prefer the digital version of the magazines I do still buy, as it's so much easier than clearing more shelf space.

I'd really love to know what you think,
 Do you still buy magazines? Or have blogs filled that space?

Friday, 25 May 2012

Rainy Day Artisan Bread

It's been pouring with rain all day. This is quite unusual and I can't remember the last time it rained this hard. Anyway, whenever the day gets like this; cold, damp and grey - grey inside and outside, I think about my Kaffee WIP (because it's so bright and cheerful)! You knew there had to be one of these, didn't you?! It hasn't made it to WOW yet, but it's in the queueueueue....

So I pulled out my WIP stash, but it was too dark in my sewing studio to do any serious WIP work, even with all the lights blazing, so I decided to direct my energies elsewhere - into my kitchen for my monthly bread bake!

Every 4-5 weeks I bake a batch of bread and freeze it for later. Interestingly, I probably eat bread less now than I have my life before, but that doesn't change my need to have really excellent quality bread available at all times. 20 years ago, I used to knead bread and go to quite a lot of effort to produce my loaves (I still wonder where I found the time???) Then, 15 years ago, I bought a bread machine and programmed it every day to bake a fresh loaf. It was good, but it was never crusty in the way I wanted. I still think bread machines are better than store bought loaves, but now my bread machine is stored away in the garage somewhere and I haven't used it in years.

For the last 10 years I have been making my own no knead bread which is based on a fermentation method. It's actually super easy to make wonderful bread once you know how - it's nearly effortless. I keep a container in the fridge of my 'suspended' dough for weeks at a time (it improves with age), and when I want fresh bread, I simply break some away, let it rise and then bake it!

In the past when I have been asked about how I bake my bread, no one believed me! But there really isn't any secret recipe. It's very simple. So I was really pleased when I found out that "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" was published a few years ago, as now I direct everyone to read this book. The starter recipe is almost exactly the same as the one I had been using, and in fact I changed to using the one in this book.

It's the only bread making book you need.

I was going to demonstrate how I make my bread in a post, but there's really no need as the authors of the above book have listed a free starter recipe complete with pictures along the way, so it's an excellent place to start. From their website it also looks like they have published even more books on this method since I looked into it, and I think it might be gaining in popularity.

With most things in my life I have reached a point of wanting to find better ways to do things, but I always thought bread was one thing you really had to commit a lot of time to to get just right. Well, it's hard to believe, but when it comes to excellent European bread, simplification really has been the way to perfection. 

Today I made 7 rye sourdough loaves

And I'm so pleased to have made this wet day into a really productive day as it's another thing off my list. Leaving them to go cold once you've taken them out of the oven and leaving them alone
is the hardest part.

Resist if you can....I never can!

And after checking the crumb (first pic), I will let them go completely cold before slicing and wrapping them for freezing. It's fine to freeze this bread and this frozen batch is what I will use for toast for the next few months when I want instant bread on the spot. When I have an hour or more (say, for dinner), I will simply pull some wet dough from my starter in the fridge, let it rise 45 minutes (for large rolls), and then bake it for warm fresh bread to serve with soups and salads.

With the rest of my day I think I will look at my knitting WIPs, anything I don't have to really look at as it is so dreary inside.

I'd love to know what bread you like to eat best?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

WOW: Brushing the Bears

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

Before his brush
It's not all about quilts you know...
Sometimes, like this morning, it's all about the bears!

after his brush
I have a family of beautiful bears that need love and attention every few months. So, like today, I take out my bear box and give all my bears a gentle brushing before packing them away again. I find they need a little handling and care to keep them looking their best.

Before I started quilting 11 years ago, I made heirloom bears from my own original patterns. And I have to say, selling them was very hard as I never wanted to part with them!

It takes time  and devotion to make a genuine heirloom bear. There's a lot of work in creating the pattern, making their faces, sewing in their eyes and noses, glossing the nose thread with beeswax and clipping their fur so that you can see their expressions. After the sewing and stuffing and creation of each bear, they develop a character and you do become attached to them!

No teddy misses out on his brushing...
Now I have a studio of bears that I have resigned myself to selling....knowing that they will be better cared for in loving homes and that it's better to have them out there being enjoyed, than kept in boxes.

The biggest problem I have had with selling them, is that they are all unique. Apart from my polar bears, I didn't make any repeats, so they all have something special about them.
not even the littlest one!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Bloggers Quilt Festival Quilt! "Hydrangea"

Amy's Creative Side

Thank you Amy for another Blogger's Quilt Festival, I really enjoy this linky party and appreciate all your planning and time in organising it each time. 

Wallhanging, 18 x22"

This is a simple but favourite wall hanging of mine, I keep it in our main corridor to our bedroom so that I can enjoy it all the time. I created it freehand from a photo I had of hydrangeas in our garden. My quilts are usually large or wall hanging size, it just seems to turn out that way.

When I made this quilt, I knew I wasn't finished and that I would like more floral quilts around my home. This inspired my current Free Bom 'Forget Me Not' which is a floral wall hanging applique quilt, and, you know, flowers!!... I'm loving every moment of it.

Thank you for viewing my Quilt Festival Quilt!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Jacob's Ladder

Jacob's Ladder
This is a block from Part 4 of my free 2012 Mystery BOM Forget Me Not

raw edge applique

Outlined petal details

Because this was the part 4 block of my dark background quilt, I went with vivid colours that can take the dark background. If your own background is light, you can opt for subtle shades.

Have you decided which block you are making this month?

This is a block from Part 4 of my free 2012 Mystery BOM Forget Me Not
You can download this month's block via my website or my Yahoo Bom Group
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