Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Hot Cross Buns


Happy Easter Friends!
I hope your Easter weekend was lovely. Mine was full of sunshine, daffodils, hot cross buns and insulation. Yes, we know how to celebrate holidays in my family. We plan work parties! So Saturday Mandy and I helped insulate our brother's house. This has been an ongoing project which we have been working on for about two weeks, so glad to finally be finished!



 We had daffodils for Easter! Actually, they were up last week and I was going to post about them, but the week flew by before I had a chance. Our Easter celebrations were last weekend on Palm Sunday as that is when all the family could get together. It was lovely and I was so happy to have daffys for both weekends!



 I finally got around to making Hot Cross Buns! Something that has been on my to-bake list for awhile. They were quite easy to make and scrumptious! The recipe is from my Great British Bake Off Cookbook, but here is a recipe from Mary Berry that is very similar. I really liked the piped on flour paste cross instead of the usual (American) icing cross. When I checked on the buns shortly after putting them in the oven I was sad to see the cross had soaked in and was barely visible. But the next time I checked, the buns were a lovely golden brown with a pale cross shining through!


 Oh the new leaves! Everyday there are trees with new leaflets. I am so enjoying laying in bed soaking up the green view!


 These beauties came with the little house. I usually prefer my daffodils yellow, but these have been especially lovely this year.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Apple Buckwheat Muffins

 Do you like buckwheat? It is a stronger flavored flour and is usually the overwhelming flavor in baked good. But oh, it makes fluffy muffins and pancakes!
I think it was sister Becky, that first introduced me to buckwheat via a vintage recipe for Buckwheat Griddlecakes (pancakes). Mandy and I love to make thick fluffy buckwheat pancakes, but we still haven't gotten the hang of getting them to not stick to the pan. Part of the problem is that we are also making them dairy free with water and coconut oil. Anyway, the house always ends up smelling like a greasy diner and burnt oil.
So, I thought buckwheat muffins would solve the problem nicely. A quick search online and nothing. Nothing that met my critia (dairy-free, but not gluten free and easy). I did a quick look through my vintage cookbook collection, nothing. A look through the "modern" cookbooks, nothing. I decided, fine, I will just add a bit of buckwheat to one of my favorite recipes. The first try was not good and I didn't get around to another go....

Then last week while looking for an oatmeal cookie recipe, I grabbed Mandy's Betty Crocker Country Cooking off the shelf and came across several lovely muffins recipes. Including Apple Buckwheat Muffins!
I was focused on oatmeal cookies at the moment. But after an unfortunate egg incident (Have you ever had an egg explode when you cracked it open?!?) in which I used up all the raisins, I thought muffins might sooth my nerves. Oh my! These are some of the best muffins! Soft, moist, flavorful, satisfying.....

 I am not really sure if I should be posting the recipe (It always seems like a gray area to me. Most recipes are variations, so should they really be copyrighted?), but it is too good not to share!

Apple Buckwheat Muffins (dairy-free version)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup apple juice or water
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 egg
1 large tart apple, grated

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix flour, buckwheat flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. Stir in grated apple until well coated with flour mixture. Beat together egg, water or apple juice and coconut oil in a small bowl. Add to flour apple mixture, stir until just blended. Spoon into 18 muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Tip muffins up on edge in pan to cool.
Maybe this is my recipe now that I have tweaked it a bit.(?) If you don't have/like coconut oil, I am sure another veggie oil will work fine too.

AS you can see, they didn't last long!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Cozy Calico

Mom and I recently discovered the blog Posie Gets Cozy. (How have we missed her all these years?!?) We are so in love with her blog, her charming bungalow, cute as can be daughter and lovely quilts! Hours have been spent ohhing and ahhing. And before we knew it, inspiration was swirling around. So two weekends ago, the fabric was sorted, the sewing machine cleaned and threaded, the iron heated and a quilt was made.

Inspired by Alicia's calico comforter, we used an Ikea comforter instead of the usual cotton batting, tuffy floss ties instead of quilting stitches and simple 4.5" squares. From the fabric stash we pulled out all the reds, orange, blue, green, and browns (to match the living room) we could find.


Can you believe we had all these fabrics in the stash? Some had a copyright of 2000 stamped on the salvage...... It was so good to finally use them up!
The top went together fairly quickly. I was a little sad not to get it all finished by Sunday evening(couldn't wait to see how it would turn out!), but by Tuesday evening all the layers were sewn together and safety pinned. Though there are still tufts to be tied as we ran out of black embroidery floss.


 We are so happy with our new calico comforter, it has already become favorite. Kerri especially loves cuddling up in it. I love how nicely the colors go with the living room, even though to me it looks slightly reminiscent of the 1970s.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Shirtmaking

One of my latest sewing projects has been classic button up shirts for myself. They have actually been on my list for awhile, especially in flannel and gingham. I am really excited how nice this one turned out and am anxious to make a couple more!

 The first one I made was a "wearable muslin" out of inexpensive quilting cotton that was in the stash.
(I am actually wearing this shirt today under a cardigan. Love how long it is, no drafts!)

I love the buttons! Since this was a use what I had shirt, I dug around in my button jar and found these cuties. They are quite heavy and might be ceramic/china?

 I think this is one of the coziest shirt I have made! It has already been worn several times and because it is such a light pattern I am planning on wearing it a few more times. Even though it took me two days to complete, it was worth it!

 There is a lot of steps in shirt making. Matching plaids (which I am not the best at), top stitching, collar and collar stand, cuffs and placket, back yoke. Just a lot of things going on! But nothing that isn't doable with a bit of patience and practice.

For those of you that sew, here are all the details.
Sewaholic Granville Shirt in size 6 (flannel shirt) and size 8 (calico shirt)
For my calico shirt I made a straight size 8 with no adjustment before hand. I did end up taking in the hips about an 1" each side.
For my flannel shirt I made the size 6, but did a 2" full bust adjustment, trimmed off 1/2" of the hip fullness and shortened the sleeves by 2".

I am rather proud of the inside of my shirt! All of the raw edges are enclosed by French seams or flat felled seams. Doesn't look like the inside does it?


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Work in Progress

It was so sunny last weekend I couldn't resist taking a few random pictures. The sunshine just felt so Springy! None of these pictures are tidied up, they were taken right in the moment. As you can see, the sewing closet is a mess.......

In the midst of sewing non stop, there isn't much time left for tiding up. I am planning to refresh the whole room; give it a good cleaning and then rearrange and re-do a bit. All hoping it will help me keep it a bit more tidy. Mostly I need to start some good habits! Maybe a refresh will help gets those habits started. Right now, I am not sure what all I want different, but plans are slowly taking shape. Of course I will be sure to let you know how it goes!

An extra picture of the bright sunny book nook.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

I had forgotten.......

I had forgotten how much joy a finished garments brings, how sitting at a sewing machine with fabric feeds the soul, how ideas begin to sprout quicker then one can keep up while sewing, how good it is to fashion something with your own hands. I had forgotten how much I love sewing!
As much as I love knitting, sewing is really my passion. Working with fabric, letting my mind and fingers tuck and pin; brings the rest of life into perspective, and usually makes it look brighter! 
 I learned to sew when I was a wee girl, so it has been a part of my life for a long time. I still remember the fascination of watching Mom make my sisters and I dresses. Just about my eye level, I would stand for hours and watch the machine whirl away.

This is the York blouse from Seamwork. In a lovely Art Gallery Fabric, Ink Outburst in Atelier. The fabric was a birthday splurge!
This pattern gets quite a few bad reviews online, but I have made it work. I love the classic silhouette! My library of Seamwork patterns have really inspired my to sew plenty of pretty things that go with my everyday wardrobe. I haven't found the latest patterns much my style, but I love most from the first two years. And even if I don't like the patterns, the articles are always interesting!

The pattern originally had a slit in the back that closes with bias tape ties. I made a bias bound keyhole instead with a button.
I also altered the neckline a bit, too much of a boat for my small shoulders. The biggest problem most people had with the pattern was the low dart. I simply angled it upwards to create a French dart. I do have a bit of a problem with the armholes, but that might be because I went down a few sizes as there was a lot of wearing ease. I still ended up taking in the side seams and the center back.

I love all the extra details of this pattern! Can't wait for the weather to warm up a bit to wear it!

Has anyone else watched The Great British Sewing Bee? So inspiring watching all those amazing sewing projects!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Baking Day

The last couple of weeks I have  been baking up a storm! I don't think I have been in this much of a baking mode since moving to the little cottage. Somehow, for me baking requires a clear, quiet mind.(I am not talking about whip-up-the-tried-and-true-favorite-muffins-and-biscuits baking, but the let's-go-on-an-adventure-and-try-something-new baking). There has been a lot going on since we have moved! But now that the house projects have slowed and nothing needs to be urgently finished, I am ready to bake!
I have also been setting aside a  weekly "baking day", depending on the schedule, whichever day I have an empty evening. It has been so fun to plan what I want to make and something which I look forward to all day!

Suddenly I find myself reading cookbooks just for fun, making a list of things to bake. Wondering how a recipe would turn out if I used this instead of that or added in this or possibly add more of that. I know some of the enthusiasm has come from a Christmas gift, The Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking. (I didn't even know there was a cookbook!?!) I have tried a few recipes so far and have a long list I would still like to make. Which I will be sure to share!

Last week I tried 100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon Swirl Bread from King Arthur Flour. It turned out fabulous! I have been trying to eat more whole grains for a bit more staying power to meals (I have a fast metabolism).

It is kind of an interesting recipe. You start by making a starter to give the yeast a bit of a boost. There is also orange juice to counter the bitterness of the whole wheat flour and instant potato flakes for moistness.
I've never tried brushing the dough with a beaten egg before sprinkling on the cinnamon and sugar filling, but it works really nice. No falling apart of layers or getting stuck in the toaster! 

A lovely dense texture and the perfect sweetness!
The only thing I changed was to make it dairy free; used water instead of milk and left out the powdered milk completely.

This bread sure didn't last long! I just barely managed to photograph the last slice before it vanished!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

March Madness

 We have gone a little mad over here. Mad for making things! There has been a lot of knitting and crocheting, baking of bread and cookies, soap making, sewing of shirts and pajamas, quilting and more knitting going on. Creativeness oozing out of us until we finally fall asleep at night. It must be Spring!

 Doesn't the changing of the seasons invigorate you? Somehow it has a way of setting us all in motion. And since we can't work outside yet (especially with this weeks snowstorm!), we have to satisfy ourselves with creating things indoors.
Pictured here is one of the projects I am currently working on, a crocheted Haiku Shawl. It will be a sample for a class I will be teaching at our local knit shop. I have had a lovely time repeating the patterns three rows over and over again (it gives me time to dream of other projects!).
Made in Swan's Island Fingering in Lupine, what could be more springy?

What are you making today?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Snowdrop

 My snowdrop bloomed this week. Between the new sidewalks, removing the walk along the house  making the flowers beds larger and getting moved several times, only one snowdrop made it! I will have to replenish. (maybe I need to also try crocus again?) This little guy is now along the east side of the house where my cutting garden is. The bulbs love the warm morning sun! 

  As you can see the daffodils really love the morning sun! I have been trying to encourage them to slow down.......

 As this also happened this week..... A spring snow!
I knew we would get a bit of snow once more, now hopefully we can move on to the business of Spring!

At least Kerri had fun with the snow! She is ready for a game of hide and seek!