Sunday, December 1, 2013

Surprise Spring Dolls Quilt Swap

Last year I took part in a Dolls Quilt Swap for the first time and you may remember I made a Peacock Quilt.  Well this year in among a lot of assignments and study and christmas present making and business marketing I signed up for another.

This one is being run slightly differently in that we all send off a Spring themed dolls quilt and we get one sent back to us.  It is completely random this year and we don't have one specific person to make for.  I loved this idea as it meant I could whip something up quite quickly.  A must given I had 7 assignments to complete in November.  The deadline was 30 Nov and mine went into the post on the 28th Nov.

Anyway, because I don't have to wait for my recipient to receive their parcel this year I can reveal it now.

I used scarps from Jots quilt (which was meant to be for her birthday and will now be lucky if she gets it for Christmas) as when I think of Spring I think of Rainbows.  I originally had grand plans to do appliqué and piecing and then I returned from holiday to find a study crisis and a lot of work to be done.  My elaborate plan went out the window and still using the same scraps I went very simple.  And I love it.

Hopefully whoever gets it out of the hat will also love it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

13 in 13 Challenge - Completed!!

Yay! I have actually completed a challenge I started in January.  For those of you who know my history, I am not very good at that :).

Little White Dove

The 13 in 13 challenge has been run this year by Little White Dove who challenged us to read 13 books in 2013.   The details can be found here.  Anyway I am very excited to say I have now finished my 12th and 13th books for the year - what a blessing a holiday is.

While we were away in Thailand and ploughed through a couple of 'work' books to help me create the programs for my coaching clients and I won't bore you with all of those but one of them I loved and it really took my fancy how it was writtent so book number 12 is:

Taking Flight - Merrik Rosenberg

This book is split into two parts.  The first is a fable of the birds in the forest and how they learn to honour each others strengths and weaknesses and how to work together in a time of need.

Part 2 is the information behind the fable.  The four personality types, their traits, strengths and weaknesses and how to work with them to form a better relationship either in work or at home.

Having studied Extended DISC back in May and now being an accredited Extended DISC consultant and trainer it was fascinating to read the information I already knew from a different perspective.  I love this book and it is a great way to get a understanding of the DISC model and how it can help you change your life.  I actually recommend it to a lot of my clients who are interested in this area.

Book 13 was one my mum gave to me to read, although she did say not to start it till after CT has weaned.  However I have started it and in fact finished it and CT has not yet weaned (I am letting him do it at his pace).

The Fast Diet - Michael Mosley

The Fast Diet: The secret of intermittent fasting - lose weight, stay healthy, live longer

This is a diet book (obviously from the title) with a bit of a difference.  It is about Intermittent Fasting and the benefits it can provide both with weight loss and with your health, such as stabilising blood sugars.  I honestly found this completely fascinating and seeing the change in my parents since they started this has convinced me to give it a go.

The basic premise of the Fast Diet is that you eat completely normally for 5 days a week and for the other 2 days you limit yourself to 500 calories (600 for men).  The 2 days 'fasting' are recommended to not be consecutive days as mentally it is easier to restrict yourself if it is only for one day at a time.  Easier to not eat that bit of chocolate today knowing you can eat it tomorrow :).

There is a Horizon show on SBS called Eat Fast and Live Longer by Michael Mosley on this very book and topic being shown on Monday 11 November 2013.  

So there we have it.  13 books read and still 2 months of the year left.  I doubt I will get much more reading in this year as I have discovered I need to get 6 assessments in to college by the end of the month!  Time to get my nose to the grindstone methinks.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

10 & 11 in 13 in 13 challenge

I really didn't think I would have a chance to blog again this week (there is so much going on right now) that I am pleasantly surprised to be able to blog the next 2 books for my attempt at the 13 in 13 challenge.  The best bit is that now the end is in sight I really think I can do this.

I seem to have mentioned that Terry Goodkind is one of my favourite authors and I was delighted to find that he had a new book out.  I was even more excited to discover that it was the second in a series and I had somehow missed the first of the series when it came out in 2011.  I have got no idea how it happened but  it meant I got to read the first two books of this new Richard and Kahlan story together.  I do have to admit to choosing these books over some prep work I had to do which I am now going to cram into tomorrow morning instead.  It was worth it.

Book 10 - The Omen Machine, Terry Goodkind & Book 11 - The Third Kingdom, Terry Goodkind

These books follow on from The original Sword of Truth series of 12 books.  The story picks up again about a year (give or take) after the end of Book 12.  It is about a threat to the people of D'Hara in the form of Prophecy and of a machine (the Omen Machine) that is discovered that seems to be creating the prophecy.  And a threat to Richard and Kahlan personally in the form of a Hedge Maid called Jit.  That book ends with Richard killing Jit to save Kahlan and them both suffering ill effects of the way that was done.

What I loved about the book was that all the characters were there.  All the people I grew to love in the Sword of Truth series were there and as opinionated as ever.  It left us with a cliff hanger that of course we knew was going to be solved in book 2 (spoiler: it wasn't)

What I didn't like about the book was that he seems to have got even more wordy.  None of his book could be called short and that is great, however I found in this one that I struggled with some of the lengthy explanation stuff.

So onto The Third Kingdom.  I got terribly confused at the start of this as it did not pick up where the first book left off (and there was a reason for this) which was highly annoying but did make me turn the pages faster to discover why that was the case.

This book continues the story in a somewhat round about way (and I was glad to have had read the First Confessor as that really lays the foundation for this story) which Richard and Kahlan (having been saved by their friends currently about to be eaten by cannibals with their friends no where in sight.  Needless to say as the book unfolds we discover what happened to the friends and are eventually (like in the last 10 pages) reunited with them.

I loved this book because of its twists and turn including the confusing one at the start, I loved the way it ties in the stories of the Word of Truth and the First Confessor very well.

What I didn't like about this book was the way he could without warning kill off one of my favourite characters (poor brass buttons) and then send one of the three main characters (who have in some form or other been together through 11 of the first 12 books) off on her own.  I am hoping that we will see her again soon.

So now I need to sit back and wait for another two years before book 3 comes out and hope he ties up some weird loose ends cause this guy is good.

I am also trying to decide if I want to purchase them all for my kindle or whether I buy the actual books.  I love the paper books but I also love the fact that with these big books the kindle makes them portable.  No way I would take these on holiday for example in their paper format but on a kindle, well that's another story.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Jot Turns 5

Well next week she does and she has turned into the most bossy person I know (and that is saying something!).

A couple of weeks ago when discussing her Birthday Party she decreed that the cake had to be a princess unicorn fairy garden cake!  Specific much?  Anyway I headed over to Pinterest and discovered that danger lurks behind every image. 

I found this one (from )

Which looks amazing

And this one (from

I am not going to even post some of the other totally amazing and way out of my skillset cakes there were out there.  Besides which I got distracted (as you can on Pinterest) and discovered this beauty for my birthday in December.

Image from

I will post a party round up over the next few weeks so stay tuned to see how my cake measured up :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

8 & 9 of 13 in 13 Challenge

Where have I been?  Well not reading that's for sure.  I think it is pathetic that I have only read two books in the 6 weeks.  Hopefully I will catch up when I am on holiday in October.

The Golden Louise Hay Collection by Louise Hay

I'm actually wondering if I can count this as three books as it does contain three of her best sellers.  You can Heal your Life, You can Heal your Body and The Power is Within You.  I truly enjoyed this book and it really resonated with me.  In fact I have now bought a copy for my book shelf.

While reading it it prompted me to make a couple of changes in my life and that is a good thing.  All three books talk about how you can make a difference to your life and health by changing your thinking and letting go of the past when it is holding you back.  It is a little controversial for some people as she claims you can cure yourself of any disease including Cancer if you are willing to change your thinking.  I personally loved it and there is a lot in there that is just common sense.

I did get the most out of the third book in the collection The Power is Within You and most of those little tabs you see are in that section.  I am hoping my personal copy arrives before this on has to go back to the library so I can transfer all the sticky tabs.

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S Clason

This is a great little book (be warned the writing is tiny) that gives you some incredibly sensible and easy steps to building your wealth.  It is NOT a get rich quick book but gives practical advice for growing your wealth over time.  I love the first step which is to always pay yourself first by putting aside 10% of all your income to start building your wealth.  Guess who is putting that into practice right now.

Only four books to go and 4 months to do it in.  I still feel I might complete this challenge which I think will be the first one I have ever managed to complete.

In other news I am behind on my sewing this year but steaming ahead with the new business and absolutely loving it. I won't bore you all with it here except to say that the only downside to loving what you do is that it is hard to put it aside for long enough to do the other things you love like quilting.

I have a quilt for Jot to finish in the next 4 weeks for her birthday and then one for my nephew for his birthday in January (and have no idea yet what I am going to do with that one) as well as whip up two quilts for childcare workers for Christmas and a number of other childcare worker gifts.  I can see myself having to put time in the diary to sew or I will never get to it :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Quilting - Finally

I have finally been at the machine again and in fact now that both quilts have been received I can even show pictures.

This one was for my nieces 6th birthday.  The plan was to give all my nieces and nephews a quilt for their fifth birthday but I got completely confused last year and missed one.  Whoops.  Never mind she has it now and loves it.  It is rather too hot in the UK right now for it to get much use but I am pretty sure it will be used a fair bit in the winter.

The second one is for a gorgeous family who I know online through my mothers group with CT and who have a lovely little girl who is rather sick at the moment.  I made the quilt big enough for at least 2 people at any one time so they know that their friends are thinking of them.

Apologies for the picture quality.  They didn't look as dark on the camera and I am not in the mood to fiddle with them right now.

Friday, June 14, 2013

6 & 7 of 13 in 13 Challenge

Well Little White dove updated her challenge stats the other day and in pushed me into getting a book out.

Little White Dove

As I have two (or is it three) non fiction books on the go at the moment I decided to pick up a fiction.  While waiting for Jot in the library the other day I was browsing the librarian picks and saw this.  Needless to say I picked it up an devoured it in only 2 days.

The Giving Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

The great thing about the Elm Creek Quilt novels is you always know what you are going to get and this is no exception.  You are taken into a world of old friends and new friends and often finish the book wondering where the characters are going to end up.  I will admit that our library does not have the whole series so I have been reading them a bit haphazardly and out of order but what threw me completely is that the babies that were just conceived in the last book I read were 4 in this one.

I enjoyed it like I enjoy all of the Elm Creek Quilt series and hope to read the rest in the near future.

Book 7 is a complete opposite as it is non fiction and in no way is it light reading.

Mans Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

At one of my trainings recently this book was for sale and as I had heard about it in the past I decided to buy it.  It is an amazing book yet I have no idea how to review it for you here.  I guess I am still sorting through a lot of the information.

This book is in two parts, the first is a very matter of fact personal account of life in the concentration camps of WW2 including Auschwitz.  He points out how and why some men survived and how fate intervened on occasion.  The reason he wrote this is to highlight the second part of the book which is about this theory of Logotherapy.  This is his theory that every man is responsible for how he chooses to view the world and the suffering it holds.

As I said it has a lot of information in it and I found the first half of the book to be incredibly well written and a very factual account with what seemed like no emotion attachment.  It is a book I will be using when it comes to teach my kids about WW2 and the atrocities it produced as it shows how some men just refused to let it over power them.  Those are the real heroes, those that lived to tell the tale and make sure no one ever forgets.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Yes I know that over a month has past since my last post.  I did warn you all that with study and the new business this blog would probably get a little neglected :)

So what have I need up to in the crafty arena.  The answer is unfortunately not much.

The big finish in time for winter (just) was the Mondrian Quilt.  This was part of a quilt bee (run by MMQG) that I took part in in 2011 and has taken me two years to complete.  I can safely say it was worth the wait.  I absolutely love it and it keeps us very warm on the couch each night.  I ended up hand quilting each colour block in coordinating thread.  This has depicted a lovely pattern on the back.

I also whipped up this quilt top for a family who are going through a tough time with a sick baby right now and I am in the middle of hand quilting this with flowers and the families names so they are all included.  It is taking some time but I have plenty of study dvds to watch while I quilt.

I must quilt Jot cousins quilt in the next two weeks as well but this one I am going to do by machine.

Oh and I need to find time to whip up a couple of birthday presents as well.  I just wish I knew what I was going to make :)

I need to go now and get working on an assessment but this evening I will be back with the hand quilting.  Its a great way to wind down after the day.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Time Flying but I got to sew

Is anyone else wondering where this year is heading?  I am finding it is flying by, which is OK really.

SO it is already May and I haven't done all the sewing stuff I had hoped to by now.  This is actually OK as I have been filling my time with study and setting up the business and really enjoying the process.  I do miss the creativity a bit especially as at the moment my sewing room is doubling as an office as it is the only room that I can get peace and quiet in.  This of course means I see my sewing machine and UFO every time I do any work or study.  I'm amazed I have only been side tracked once or twice in the past 3 months.

Anyway, I did make time to sew in April, mainly it was dresses for Jot but it is still sewing.  I mentioned the cool mermaid fabric I found a couple of  months ago in one of my previous posts.  It sat on my table for a while until Jot decided she wanted a mermaid dress.  Not what I would have made with it if I had the choice but who am I to argue with a 4yo.  While looking for my go to dress pattern Molly by Sis Boom I found two dresses I had already cut out ready to sew together so I did all three.  One of which proved to be rather old as when I put the pieces up against the pattern they are a size 2.  Please excuse the pictures of the children, it was a long day for them.

In addition I have finished the hand quilting of the Mondrian, just sewing down the binding and that will be finished.  I got my blocks in May 2011 and am finishing it in May 2013 it seems 2 years is my longest time to finish a quilt (so far).  Photos of that will follow once it is complete and in use.

I had to bribe Jot the other day as I needed to go to Spotlight for elastic for her dresses but she was driving me nuts so I said if she behaved I would make her a purple kitten cushion.  Personally it freaks me out but she loves it and is currently using it as her pillow.  I have the fleece to do a dog one for CT but I am thinking I might line the ears etc with quilters cotton to reduce the bulk I spent a lot of time forcing the multi layers of fleece through the machine.

I haven't managed to finish any other books for the 13 in 13 challenge but I am very pleased to say I found my copy of Awaken the Giant within and am now a few chapters further on.  I need to finish this book as part of my assessment so I am doing a couple of chapters a month.  It is a great book and very thought provoking I have a companion work book that I am carrying around with it now as there are so many exercises Tony Robbins asks you to do to get the most out of the book.  I am learning a lot (not all of it something I really want to admit to) and I would recommend the book to anyone looking to develop themselves.

I am planning not to leave it a month between posts this month, well I know I wont as once the binding is on the Mondrian I am going to want to show it off.  Until then.  Have a good one.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

5 of 13 in 13 Challenge

I really wanted book 5 to be the Tony Robbins Book that I started a number of weeks ago but I still can't find it.  So instead Book 5 is another Fiction book.  If it helps I do have  3 other books on the go at the moment none of which are fiction.

Book 5 - THE FIRST CONFESSOR: The Legend of Magda Searus - Terry Goodkind (ebook exclusive)

Image taken from

This book is another on my original list and I am really glad I have read it.  I hadn't used my kindle much in the past few months mainly cause I love the feel of turning pages but I dusted it off for this ebook exclusive by Terry Goodkind and I am so glad I did.

This book takes up the story from hints and mentions in throughout the whole of the Sword of Truth series.  It has to be my favourite Fantasy series of all time and I love the introduction to all the aspects of that series that are explained and developed in this book.

For those of you who have read the series, this book is about the creation of not only the Sword of Truth itself (and how it got its name) but also of the Confessors, the Book of Counted Shadows, the Rahl Bond and a couple of others items as well. 

For those of you who haven't read the series it is a great stand alone story to introduce you to the History behind the original books (of which I think there are 9).

The ending of the book left me hoping that there will be another dealing with Magda and Merrick as well as the various other characters that we have heard about in the original books.  I did miss turning the pages but it being an ebook did enable me to read it on the train (the paperbacks of the Sword of Truth series are too heavy to live in my handbag so rarely leave teh house) and so I got through it in record time.  

I am really tempted now to pick up the Wizards First Rule again and start the series from scratch.  I think that will be a reward for me once I find and finish Tony Robbins and the two assignments I have allocated to this month.

I'm feeling pretty good now that if I read at least one book a month now I will actually complete this challenge (although I do intend to read more than one a month).

Friday, March 22, 2013

3 & 4 of 13 in 13 Challenge

Guess what?  I got to read.

I have been very focused recently on the kids.  I really wanted to say the business but at this time it has been the kids that have taken up the time and effort recently.  Sick kids take up a lot of time.  I had forgotten that this time of year usually means we will be sick in rotation.  Hopefully we will get over it fairly soon.

Anyway I got to read in fact I finished book 3 at the beginning of February but have kept forgetting to blog about it.  Book 4 was finished today and I decided I had to post it tonight to make sure I didn't forget this one as well.

Book 3 - 7 Habits for Highly Effective Families - Stephen Covey

I loved this book.  It is basically his 7 Habits for Highly Effective People that he has adapted specifically for families.  It is fantastic and very thought provoking.  It highlighted a number of areas that we can work on as a family and has prompted me to read the original 7 Habits book and I am really looking forward to that.  I forgot to take a photo of this one - whoops

It prompted me to pick up 7 Habits of Happy Kids for Jot (written by Sean Covey - Stephens son).  It contains 7 stories, 1 for each habit and they are really cool little stories which Jot loves.  OK I know this challenge isn't about kids books but I had to tell you about that one :)

Book 4 - The law of Nines - Terry Goodkind

Terry Goodkind is one of my all time favourite authors.  I have long since been deeply involved in his Sword of Truth Series (and was quite gutted when the final official book came out) and really wanted to read this when I saw it in the Library.  I am usually disappointed by the books not in the series that I love but this time I wasn't.  It is sent in our world rather than a fantasy one and is very well tied in to the Sword of Truth series but you do not need to have read the series as it stands very well on its own.  In fact I kinda liked it because it was only loosely linked.

There were some bits that I wish had been slightly better explained and I would love to hear the story from the other side.  Overall I really enjoyed this and in fact was late picking the kids up from childcare cause I wanted to get to the end.

Whats next?

I am reading Awaken the Giant within by Tony Robbins and I have managed to misplace it.  I am pretty sure I took it to the library the other day but now I can't find it :).  I am going to search for it properly this weekend as I will be mightily bummed if I have lost it as I had been highlighting and flagging bits in it.

I also bought Hot Confidence by Nadine Love the other day and was terribly excited when it arrived on my doorstep today.  I was just waiting for the kids to get into bed (and be asleep) before digging into it.  You can find more about it HERE.  I met Nadine at the Coaching Institute at the beginning of February and have been wanting her book since then.  I finally got off my procrastinating butt and bought it now it is here and it is calling my name so I am going to finish up here and get stuck into it.

See you later

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I got to sew :)

I love it when a plan comes together :)

Jot was invited to a Superhero party this weekend and declared last weekend that she needed a superhero cape to go to the party.  So a quick trip to Spotlight on Wednesday netted me some plain homespun in teh specified colours and on Friday I got to play. 

I don't have a cape pattern or at least not one I liked and I wanted to make it a little bit girly so I grabbed a poncho pattern I have an extended it to cape length.  I then added stripes on the side and the obligatory super hero letter.  Finally I added a ribbon to the neckline.  It is a grossgrain ribbon which means that once it is done up it doesn't get progressively tighter (good idea for her).  She rocked it at the party but wouldn't stand still for a picture.  

On that same trip to Spotlight I stumbled on this gorgeous mermaid fabric.  Jot has been completely obsessed by mermaids recently even going to far as to ask if she could become one (Thanks Walt Disney) so I thought she would like a nightie for Easter.  I'm quite proud to say I got the mermaids the right way up this time :)

Today we had to go back to Spotlight to pick up some stuff to mend one of Jots necklaces and I thought I would see if there was anymore.  Couldn't find any in the pink but did find the green which you can see in the  corner of this next shot.  I got the remainder of the bolt which was only 2m so I am planning a pair of pjs and if there is enough left a small book sling.  I will keep my eye out for more to make a reasonable sized book sling for her cousin too.

Todays other purchase was the thread to hand quilt my Mondrian yes I know It is nearly two years since I got the blocks but I am determined that it will be finished in time for winter to hit.  I have been promising it to R for our sofa for a while.

I also have managed to cut out two pairs of pjs for Jot which I am hoping to be able to sew together over the next few days depending on the kids. 

Now though I am going to watch Indiana Jones and see if I can find something to eat :)


Friday, March 8, 2013

February Round up

I am going to use the excuse that February is a short month which is why I didn't get much sewing done BUT to be honest I was just caught up doing other things.  Mostly launching my new coaching business.  Pretty exciting times but I did get some things done.

Firstly I made myself a new peg bag (no pictures) which is a little too big but I am enjoying using it.

Next I made Jot a new dress.  Excuse the photos she was not in a good mood when she tried it on.  I adapted the Little Explorer pattern that I made up for CT in January (you can read more about it here).  I obviously wasn't concentrating too hard though as I seem to have an extra couple of inches in the waist which means it is rather baggy at the back.  She says she likes it but has yet to wear it so not sure on that one :).  I will make it again though but will have to work on some measurements first.

I also got the Swoon quilt back from the wonderful Anita who now does my quilting on her long arm machine.  I attached 8m of binding by hand in about 3 evenings which gave me time to wash and dry it before my parents arrived from the UK.  If you remember back to when I first started this quilt in way back in March last year it was always intended as a Ruby wedding anniversary gift for my parents.  I did get the year wrong though and their Ruby wedding was actually in 2010 but it is the thought that counts.

Anyway they arrived on 23 Feb and Jot was bursting to give them their gift.  They loved it and I was delighted to nip into their room on the Sunday to find it already in use.  I love seeing my quilts in action :)

Most of the end of February was spent dealing with a sick little boy.  We have had the dreaded Gastro in our house and on top of that he had Tonsilitis and 8 new teeth.  Yup you guessed it he has been one mighty unhappy little chap.

Thankfully he is well on the mend although some of the teeth aren't still completely through he is well enough to return to childcare and I got to return to my machine today for a secret squirrel project I am part of.  No photos of that :)

Now though I am back to work and designing business cards :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dr Seuss

Dr Seuss is one of my favourite authors of all time.  Not just because he wrote great books for children to love and I grew up with 'The Diggest Dog' but because as an adult I can appreciate them all the more for their life lessons and the amazing building up of the children that read them.

Now I know you are wondering why this has come up now well it is nearly his birthday.  He was born on 2 March 1904.  I really want to make this a part of Jots radar as she loves the books.

Last year my google reader threw up a few activities to do to celebrate his birthday but not until the day which in Miss Unprepared land is a tad too late.

So this year a new tactic is to be run and I already have found a couple of activities that Jot can do with my parents who are visiting from the UK that week.

Firstly go check out The Seussville Website there are some great colour in activities for kids and some educational ones for bigger kids as well.

I will also be picking out a couple from here.

I am also really taken by the Cat in the Hat cookies I have been seeing around (Check out these).  I am not that skilled at icing cookies BUT we might make up our own and see what happens.

And of course what better way to honor the great man but to read his books.  I have seen loads at the library we don't have so I will be picking them up to read.  I will also be reading my favourite childrens book of all times: 'Oh the Places you'll go'

"You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose"

Friday, February 8, 2013

Valentines Day

So unless you live under a rock you will know it is coming up to Valentines day.  The holiday is the mostly widely celebrated holiday after New Years Day in the world.  I guess love is a global phenomenon.

Anyway my Google reader is overflowing with things to make and gifts to give and has been for about a month.  It is lovely to see so many options.  We rarely celebrate Valentines day in this house, mainly because R is always working but we will be doing something this year.

The reason we are doing something is completely selfish.  R is as always working this weekend and has his staff Christmas party (yes he works in hospitality) on Tuesday so I have rather a lot of entertain Jot time on  my hands.  So I have been trawling my google reader to find simple things that Jot and I can make together without her giving up and me finishing everything off on my own.

These are the things we will be up to this weekend:

Both of those are doable without too much a) mess and b) involvement from Mummy 

I might search for some messy things to make as well that involve pink paint as that will keep Jot happy for hours.  

I will let you know how we go.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jam and More Jam

This summer we finally had a reasonable crop of fruit from our fruit trees.  We didn't have enough cherries to do anything (or at least if we did I blinked and missed them) but we had loads of peaches and about a kilo of plums.  Strawberries and Rasperries a plenty.  in addition we went to a pick your own place twice once just for strawberries and a second time for strawberries and blackberries.  Now you might be wondering what I did with all this fruit.

I JAMMED!  Yes I made Jam, lots of it.  In our cupboard at the moment we have:

7 Jars Fruit of the Forest Jam
9 Jars Strawberry and Vanilla Jam
4 Jars Peach
4 Jars Plum
and 8 Jars Burnt Peach which I am trying to get R to throw out.  (BTW I didn't make this one :) )

I have plans to jam again next year and decided it would be a good idea to list the jam recipes I used in one place so I know exactly were to look when the jam season comes round again and I can therefore avoid the burnt jam issue we had this year.  We made 2 batches of the same recipe( one made by me and one by R) both got horrendously burnt so we changed to a different recipe and voila yummy jam.

Below are the recipes I used, my comments are in italics.

Source: Preserving by Carol Wilson

Peach and Walnut Jam

450g ripe peaches
450g ripe fruit (pears/apples etc)
675g sugar (I used granulated)
50g chopped walnuts (I forgot to add these and it is just as yummy without them)

1) Peel all fruit and cut into small pieces (I didn't peel the peaches and it worked well).  Put into a jam pan with the sugar.  Stir over low heat till dissolved, bring to boil.  Boil rapidly for 15 - 20 minutes until thick and setting point is reached.  Stir in walnuts and boil for 1 minute.

I had to mash the fruit at one point too as I used eating apples and they kept their shape well so there were little cubes of apple through the jam.

2) Remove pan from heat, rest for 15 minutes while warming jars.  Pour into warned jars, cover seal and label.

Strawberry and Vanilla Jam (adapted from about three recipes)

2kg Strawberries (washed and hulled)
1.6kg sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
2 Vanilla Pods  - this gave a noticeable vanilla taste which was yummy

1) Split vanilla pods.  Scrape seeds and place seeds and split pods in Jam pan with strawberries and lemon juice into jam pan over low heat and bring to boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes until soft.  Add sugar stir till dissolved then boil rapidly until setting point reached.

2) Remove pan from heat, rest for 15 minutes while warming jars.  Pour into warned jars, cover seal and label.

Plum Jam (Source: Good Housekeeping Cookery Book 1972)

3kg Plums
3kg Sugar
600ml water

1) Cut fruit in half and remove stones (you can skip this step and just remove the stones with a slotted spoon while cooking) Crack a handful of stones and remove the kernel.

2) Put fruit and water and kernels in jam pan and bring to boil.  Simmer for about 20 minutes till fruit is soft.

3) Add sugar , stir until dissolved. Boil rapidly until setting point is reached.

4) Remove pan from heat, rest for 15 minutes while warming jars.  Pour into warned jars, cover seal and label.

Fruits of the Forest Jam (an adaptation of a Blackberry Jam recipe from the Good housekeeping Book as above)

3kg Soft fruits (I used a mix of strawberries, blackberries and raspberries)
Juice of 2 lemons
150ml water
3kg Sugar

1) Wash soft fruit and place in Jam Pan with lemon juice and water.  Simmer gently till fruit is cooked.  Add sugar, stir till dissolved.  Boil rapidly till setting point is reached.

2) Remove pan from heat, rest for 15 minutes while warming jars.  Pour into warned jars, cover seal and label.

I will be returning to these recipes again next year.

I do have to say that we did not use additional pectin in any of our successful jams this year.  We did use it with success last year but this year I wanted to try without.  The addition of lemon juice seems to have done the trick.

There are many more recipes I want to try but for now we have run out of jam jars.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sewing Journal and January Completed Items

Last year I had great plans to keep track of everything I sewed so I could make sure it was all blogged.  Well lets just say I didn't manage that very well and what was worse was that some things I wanted to make never got made so this year I have a different plan.

I found an empty lined journal that I bought some time ago and turned it into my sewing journal for 2013.  There is more than enough room though for this is to go for a number more years if it works.

Inside, all I have done is title each double page spread with the month and year.  Then there are three columns (loosely speaking) Item, Completed and Picture. 

It is that simple.  I have put things in throughout the year depending on when birthdays are coming up and when Jot needs new pjs etc but I mostly add things as they come up.  For example the bottom six items were added during the month.  This journal also includes step for things e.g basting a quilt or binding a quilt as just putting down X Quilt is waaayyy to intimidating and usually results in nothing getting done.

So here is my roll call of what was completed in January 2013.  (yes I know there are still a couple of days left but I have some major study to do and my machine is not going to get a look in till next week sometime)

 Two Swoon blocks

Sashing the Swoon and completing the quilt top (I also pieced the back but didn't take a photo)

1 Quilt Top for Aussie Hero Quilts 

1 set of Overalls for CT

 1 Dolls Quilt

Shopping Bags as a birthday present for my SIL

In addition I have pin basted my Mondrian Quilt for hand quilting over the next few months (I am determined this will be on our sofa THIS winter)

and I made a sheet bag for CT at childcare (again forgot to take a photo)

All in all I am really happy with how much I got done this month.  Lets see if I can keep up the momentum once study really kicks in along with setting up my new business.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2 of 13 in 13 Challenge

Yup I finished another book.

I had a wisdom tooth extracted on Tuesday and so haven't felt like doing much over the last couple of days.  SO I made the decision to accept it and get another book read.  I really did try to get into Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins but I have come to the conclusion I really need to be out of a pain hazed state before I attempt that one.

I decided that with was time for something lighter and fluffier so I turned my attention to fiction.

I found 'A Trail of Fire' by Diana Gabaldon in my local library and as it is on my list thought now would be a great time to read it.  It didn't take me long.  I am so used to her Big Epic Books (BEB) that this one surprised me as to how fast I read it.  It is in fact 4 smaller books that she calls Bulges, they deal with secondary characters from the BEBs and usually answer questions that may have arisen in the readers mind while reading the BEBs.  Although in the last story of the 4 'The Space Between' she raised more questions in my mind that answers, maybe that was the intention.

Diana Gabaldon is the author of the Outlander Series.  It currently consists of 7 BEBs with an eight due out this year (I think).  They follow the story of Claire who, in 1945, wakes through a set of standing stones and wakes up in 1745.  The BEBs centre round her and her husband Jamie as well as their daughter (Brianna) and her husband (Roger), Jamies son (William) and Williams stepfather (John Gray), and Jamies nephew Ian.  Needless to say they can get quite confusing at times.  The last book in the series 'An Echo in the Bone' has these four stories running parrallel and jumps from one to the other frequently.  The series follows Claire and Jamies story through the Stuart uprising in Scotland through to the American revolution and everything in between.

I first discovered her books in New Zealand in 2000.  We were about to take the ferry from the North Island to the South Island and I needed a book to distract me from the movement of the boat (I do not do well on boats).  Anyway I picked up the first in the series 'Cross Stitch' (also known as Outlander in the US) and was hooked.  I didn't notice the movement of the ferry at all and in fact when R came to tell me we were about to get off I was disappointed I had to put the book down.  By the time we did the return trip two weeks later I think I was onto the Third book in the series.  I read the first four in quick succession (as they were all already published) then had to sit and wait for the rest to come out as they were written.

I do enjoy this series, especially the first three or four books before they started to get complicated to follow and I will be reading the 8th book as soon as I can get my hands on it :).  The characters just seem to suck you in.

I enjoyed this anthology of Bulges especially the one that dealt with Rogers parents and the one that dealt with Ians brother Michael.  You can read this as a stand alone book without having read the BEBs but if you want to read those you really need to read them in order or you will get frightfully lost.

If you are a fan of historical fiction then go and check these out (I really would recommend starting with Cross Stitch) as the historial settings really bring the characters to life.

So two books ticked off my list.  Feeling very happy with myself now.  I wonder what number 3 will be.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Swoon sewing & others

With CT at childcare three days a week I am meant to be studying.  I always knew that was going to be a tall ask for the first week and I was right.

Instead I concentrated to finishing up my Swoon Quilt top (which is for my parents Ruby Wedding Anniversary in 2010).  I started a Swoon along in April 2012 with some online quilting buddies, we were meant to finish it in about July but well you can guess I didn't manage it :).

I finished the last block yesterday morning and sashed it yesterday afternoon.  I pieced the back today and now it is all ready to go off to the long arm quilter.  I am still hopeful that my parents will take it back to the UK with them when they visit at the end of February.  Fingers are crossed.

So here it is (Mum if you are reading this close the browser NOW).

Please excuse the not so great photography I had to move furniture and then stand on the back of the sofa to be able to fit the whole thing in the shot.

I have to say that it is growing on me.  I was distinctly unimpressed by it yesterday when I had to unpick some sashing but now I think I like it.  Hopefully once Anita has had her way with it I will love it and so will my parents.

Once that was finished I felt like I was on a roll so I whipped up a quick quilt top for my next Aussie Heros Quilt.  I really wan't enamoured of the fabric but do like it now it has been put together. I really like the strips running the length of the quilt rather than the width.  The best thing is it only took me about an hour from cutting to pressing.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

1 of 13 in 13 challenge

I finished the first book for the 13 in 13 Challenge run by Rachel at Little White Dove.  It was even on my list that I posted when I signed up.  Very proud to have started off well.

Little White Dove

I started 'I'm Okay you're a Brat' by Susan Jeffers on about the 3rd Jan and have been reading a little a day ever since.  I really enjoyed this book.

Susan Jeffers wrote 'Feel the Fear and Do it anyway' and was dubbed the 'Queen of Self-Help' by the Times in the UK.  She has books published in over 100 countries and numerous languages.  Unfortunately she passed away in October 2012.

I'm Okay you're a brat is one of her less known titles.  In fact a friend who loves her books had never heard of it.  I stumbled across it in my library while looking for one of her audio cds.  It was written in the late 1990s and has stood the test of time well.

It is a book that will (if you are a parent) have you nodding, laughing and crying within the space of two chapters.  She is fearlessly honest about how difficult parenthood can be and highlights some of the guilt traps that are there just waiting for a parent to fall into (in some case time and time again).  She offers some great survival tips as well.

I have to pass on this great quote (especially for all you soon to be parents)

"If a child-care book makes you feel good, relaxed, and competent as a parent, keep reading.  If a child-care book makes you feel guilty, throw the book in the garbage where it belongs." 
Susan Jeffers

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a parent, about to become a parent or thinking about becoming a parent.  It really tells you everything that no one else will.  The warts and all pictures of parenthood.  Not the sleepless nights (we all know they will come) but all the other changes that accompany a baby, lack of privacy, change in family dynamics, peace of mind and a whole lot more.

There is also a very interesting chapter about why not to have kids.  A bit late for me but still a very good read.

I found this book very interesting and thought provoking as well as so very very true.  Many hundreds of times I would find myself nodding as I read and I no longer felt alone in hating the journey of Parenthood but rather one of a silent crowd.  I wish that I had read this pre children - we would probably still have had them but I would have felt so much more prepared.

Anyway, I really liked this book and have actually bought my own copy for the book shelf as there is lots of information in there I will refer back to in the future.

I have two books now to read next.  I will be reading them at the same time as they are both so chock full of information I will need processing time.

Awaken the Giant within - Tony Robbins
The 7 Habits of Highly effective Families - Stephen Covey

I might squeeze some fiction in to but I find myself gravitating towards these books first as I get so much more than a relaxing time from them.