Friday, 24 February 2012

Table Talk - Sarah Raven style

Just wanted to share a couple of photos from the wonderful day I had yesterday in Sussex with Sarah Raven.

Not only did we learn how to make our vegetable garden work for us all year round, but we also were inspired by the wonderful interior styling at her 'school'.

I totally recommend you trying out a course with Sarah, it is one of the best day courses I have been on. Can't wait to go back again.

I am trying this on the train to London using an untried app Blogpress , so if it all goes pear shaped please forgive me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Train in Essex somewhere

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Watched Pan Never Sets

Marmalade making was meant to be easy....

the recipe in the magazine promised me "The best marmalade ever"- so why was my marmalade refusing to set.

What could go have gone wrong?
I bought organic seville oranges in Waitrose
I had the recipe which guaranteed "The best marmalade ever".
I could make bread - surely making the marmalade for spreading on top could not be more difficult.

Twenty- four hours later - I have pots of semi-set orange jam.
Is that allowed as a new genus of the species formerly known as 'marmalade'?

First mistake:
I had grand ideas and used 2 kilos of oranges. I should have started small and expanded.
I bought a jam thermometer, thinking if I went technical I couldn't go wrong. "The best marmalade ever" told me once the mix reached a boiling temperature of 105 C I was guaranteed a set.  Dear readers - never think there is a quick fix.
I had to resort to freezing small plates with dribbles of marmalade and hoping for a wrinkly skin (on the marmalade of course). I never achieved a wrinkle, but thankfully, 18 hours later, the amber liquid has semi-solidified and no longer needs to be poured from a jug.
Followed by:
I poured my mix into 18 jam jars, believing that the tasty yet thin and watery liquid marmalade would magically turn into seriously set marmalade when cool. My sister wisely counselled me that "hell would freeze over first" and "I best pour it back in the pan and get boiling". Sadly I poured the seven litres of orange water with bits in back into my pan whilst she bravely searched the internet for solutions to the "My marmalade won't set" search engine.

First discovery:
Oranges and lemons do not have a lot of pectin and don't set well. News to me and as I had just added the juice of two more lemons, possibly increasing my problems.
Adding a Bramley cooking apple (rich in pectin) could set the amber liquid. This did seem to help - combined with another hour of boiling and at 8:30pm I officially called a truce with the Spanish oranges and poured them into jars.

Happy accident:
Not only was I marmalade making but also pancake tossing. We discovered the liquid marmalade makes the most delicious sauce for pancakes - a la Crepe Suzette. So I do have the option of a lifetime's worth of sauce for crepes if the darned marmalade remains loose and liquid in my jars.

Apologies, no recipe today - I would not wish to inflict on you the many hours of slaving over a hot stove for very loose marmalade. The saving grace is it tastes delicious even in its fluid state.

All genuine recipes for fool proof marmalade gratefully received because I have another four kilos of oranges awaiting me in my freezer. (After 9 years in China, I did get a little over excited at the prospect of making marmalade again!)

Monday, 20 February 2012

Mosaic Monday - Bare Trees

Still playing amongst the trees. 

Images: Ingrid's iPhone

A mosaic for a Monday composed of some of my favourite trees from our garden and the Waveney River Valley where we live.

Taking multiple photos on my iPhone helps serve as inspiration for my stitching trees project.

The gnarled old tree on the top row, right corner, is at least 200 years old. It is all that remains of an ancient hedgerow in the meadow. What scenes it must have witnessed over the years?

Do take a look at the incredible paintings David Hockney has made capturing some of the trees in Yorkshire. His work got me all fired up on trees!

We have only a few weeks left in the UK to enjoy the beautiful bare tree shapes - before they burst forth with green springness.
Hope you can find some bare branches to photograph and enjoy today.
Many more mosaics here at the Dear Little Red House.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

A thousand trees

I've got trees on the brain this month...
 ever since I went to see the exhibition, "A Bigger Picture". 

David Hockney's latest exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London must have nearly one thousand trees in it. I loved them.

I also happen to love "One Thousand Trees" by the Stereophonics.

So maybe it's no surprise that I have an idea of stitching one thousand trees.

Starting today:
Image: Ingrid

You don't need to be a tree hugger to appreciate the role trees play in our lives.

Postcards from "A Bigger Picture", David Hockney

If you have time this week take a look at the fabulous trees of the Yorkshire Wolds here.

Or listen to The Stereophonics here

Or just go lean against a tree, the bigger the better, to gain some strength through its bark.

Or take a photograph of a favourite tree and keep it with you.

I'd best be off now, only 999 trees left to stitch.

PS: If you want to know how I printed a photograph onto fabric read this post

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Stitching a blackbird

It started with a grainy photo of a blackbird feeding in our garden...

First step was to try printing the photo on some fine white linen.
This is much easier than you would think- see below for my method.

Next, layer the fabric image on contrasting linens with a little batting in between.
I kept the edges raw and simply overlapped to create a frame for the small square of linen imprinted with my blackbird.

The stitching served several purposes. Not only did it hold the fabric layers together, it also gave the fine linen some body... which in turn added depth and a third dimension to the little picture.
Finally I took a needle in hand and stitched a beady yellow eye, some snowy texture to the pot and a little red heart for Valentine's day.

The result combined three of my loves: photography, fabric and stitching.


  • Iron your fabric to be nicely smooth, choose a finer fabric if you want more detail in your print.
  • To help the fabric through a bog standard ink jet printer you will need to stiffen it. The easiest way is to iron the chosen fabric onto waxed freezer paper. (You can buy freezer paper via Amazon if it's hard to find). Trim the fabric/paper combo to A4 size, ready to feed into the printer. Be sure to print on the fabric side! I squeezed 5 small images onto a page in Pages, but you can use Word etc.
  • Peel off the freezer paper and you are left with the fabric print. (Being an inkjet printer it is not a waterproof image)
  • Now you are ready to start stitching.
Love to hear if you have a try.
The trees are printed ready for working on next week.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Mosaic Monday: Twitching in the snow

Image: Ingrid

Thirty eight birds in one day ... the result of a visit to the RSPB reserve at Minsmere in Suffolk last week.

Love birds, but never been a twitcher (a type of birder who seeks to add as many species as possible to their bird list).

Think I may just start my own twitching list this year, aiming high - a hundred species in 2012.

Mosaic Monday at The Little Red House is always a great incentive to start blogging on a Monday morning, as well as an inspiring place to browse over a cup of something hot.
Mmmm can you smell the coffee?

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

What a difference two days make!

Last week was a week of contrasts here in the East of England...

Either we were bathed in sunshine for our visits to Southwold and Cambridge with Marji a good friend from Seattle, (see her inspiring blog here)


We were up to our noses in snow (well Rufus was anyway).

Whatever the weather there's always a dog to be walked in this house!

Back again soon with new stitching ... 
actually every time I write that on my blog I never seem to do it, so let's see if I can surprise myself, and you, this time.

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

You may also like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...