Wednesday, 29 May 2013


Good Morning to you,

I have had a fabulous couple of days, which included lots of gardening and a bar-b-cue. My garden is now nice and tidy and the warm days have allowed so many plants to put on a growth spurt.  I think they were poised  and ready to burst out, but they did not want to raise their head's above the parapet until the warm weather finally arrived.  Apparently, this year our season is a month behind the norm, but I am not complaining as I am enjoying the sunshine.  

Checking around the garden this morning, I noticed  the Clematis are putting on leaves, as are the Roses, well actually just about everything in the garden is happy to come out and say hello. Even George's Bonsai trees are coming into leaf.

I really enjoy gardening, but I also enjoy listening to music.... all types, I have no particular genre which I like more than others, I can swing from classical to blues to folk to country music very easily. Yesterday whilst pottering around the house, I was playing a Frank Sinatra CD, and I stopped in my tracks, as guess what I discovered,  a song I had forgotten about, but it really has to become my  theme song.

Do you remember Baubles, Bangles and Beads, sung by Frank Sinatra,

Baubles, bangles, hear how they jing,
Baubles, bangles, bright shiny beads,
Sparkles, spangles, your heart will sing,
Wearin' baubles, bangles and beads!

Well, that's me isn't it! Mrs Baubles, Bangles and Beads!

So today, in honour of my newly found theme song, I thought I would show you something I love, which is covered in baubles, bangles and beads.

What do you think it is? 

Is it a box of delicious chocolates?
is it a box of scrummy biscuits?
No, well how about,
sewing supplies?
Or maybe,
it is full of beads and sequins?

Have you guessed yet?

Alright, I will stop teasing you. This is a beautifully decorated jewellery box which was given to me as a gift by my daughter Danielle... isn't it just the perfect gift for me.

The lid is beautifully hand stitched with sequins and beads. This is a very labour intensive piece of beautiful work.  I would love to meet the person who hand stitched this to say thank you, as I do know how much time it takes to complete a piece like this.

Each circle on the lid is decorated differently. The brighter pink reminds me of the colour of candy floss, which we bought as children when the Travelling Fair arrived on the village green.  Do you remember how it was made, I do not know the actual process, but I do remember being mesmerised. The stall holder would place an empty stick into a revolving drum  and when he removed the stick, as if by magic, it would be wrapped in bright pink fluffy gorgeousness. As a child I loved candyfloss, I think  it was because the candyfloss seemed huge and the colour was an electric pink and if you ate it slowly, it seemed to last forever. 

Using different shades of pink sequins, silver sequins and tiny white and silver beads. There are literally hours and hours of work which have gone into this piece.

Every so often, there is a circle of bright pink, which stands out against the subtle colours. The brightness of the pink, draws you in.

..... and every now and again, there is a rogue pink sequin which is much brighter than the rest. I wonder if the person who sewed this piece  noticed and left it in the work as a bit of fun.

 Even the detail around the edges is perfect,

the exquisite work just go on and on.  

In this section punched sequins have been used as an added item of interest.

...... I just love this jewellery box.

....... and what do you think you will find inside?

Why...... a heart necklace of course!

Take care and I will see you on Sunday.

This week I will be joining,

Sunday, 26 May 2013


Good Morning to you,

The sunshine has arrived and it is a lovely morning. I have the washing drying and it is happily flapping in the breeze. We actually managed to sit in the garden to enjoy our morning cup of coffee.  I know I sound excited, but it is the first time this year that we have managed to sit in the garden, as it has been too cold until now. Our weather has been really unseasonal, as the day before we were wrapped up in coats, hats, scarves and gloves, so I think you can understand my excitement.

Later today we are going to set-to and sort out the garden.  After a week of watching The Chelsea Flower Show, I feel inspired, so it is time to move plants around and to take a look and find out what has had the courage to peek through the soil, 

....but first, it is time to make these gorgeous scones,

So let us begin,

The Ingredients

1 lb (460g) of plain flour
pinch of salt
2 oval teaspoons of baking powder
4 oz (115g) butter, cut into small cubes
4 oz  (115g) sugar
1/2 pint of buttermilk
1 tablespoon of milk

The Method

Butter a large baking tray
and sprinkle with a little flour
l large bowl
Baking Cutters

Choose the size of cutter you would 
like your finished scones to be.

Over a bowl,
sift together the flour, salt and
baking powder

Add the butter

and rub into the flour until
the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs

Add the sugar and mix well, to make
 sure it is fully incorporated

Add the buttermilk

Mix to a soft dough, at this point I discovered
I needed an extra tablespoon of milk
to bind the mixture together. I did not 
have any buttermilk left so I used
ordinary milk.
Do not over stir

Place the mixture on a surface and knead
 very lightly.
Do not be tempted to roll the mixture,
with a rolling pin, 
pat gently to a depth of 3/4" or 2 cm
and cut into rounds

Place the scones on the pre-prepared tray
and bake at 200c for about 
10-15 minutes.
Check after 10 minutes,
remember all ovens vary

Leave to cool on a wire baking rack.
Don't they look lovely,
but we need to do a couple of more
things to enhance their beauty.

When the scones are cooled, you can
make your choice.
Firstly, cut the scone in half and
spread with butter.
Now this is the fun bit, you can
choose to top the scone with lemon curd
and creme fraiche
or jam and whipped cream
or lemon curd and whipped cream
the choice is yours.
Replace the top of the scone and
sprinkle with a little icing sugar,

and what I  know is,

you will have a fabulous time eating it!

The recipe I chose was from Phyllis' cookery book. I doubled the ingredients and I changed one ingredient, which was the cream. Instead of cream I used buttermilk which I prefer to use in scones.

The recipe called for a half a gill of cream, my word I had to think about that one, as gills are not used as a measurement anymore.  Just incase you come across a gill in an old recipe book 1 gill = 1/4 pint.

George, my chief taster was on hand to give his verdict.... I think you have come to realise, that when cooking and baking is involved, George is never very far away.

George chose a scone, which was buttered, then spread with a thick layer of creme fraiche and lemon curd. (If you would like the recipe for Lemon Curd see here.) He said the creme fresh worked well with the sweet, lemon flavour of the lemon curd. Actually this is George's review of the scones,

"The outside has a nice little crunch,
which he liked, as normally 
scones do not have a crunch.
The inside was light and fluffy,
the lemon curd
was not too sweet 
and the creme fraiche was a success."

Praise indeed for these scones.

Just to say, do not expect all the scones to be perfect, because remember this is home baking, but I know you will not be disappointed when you make them.

Just as an added note, when I cut the scone in half, you will have noticed that George wanted creme fraiche first and then the lemon curd...... his comment was that the half scone looked like a muffin and the creme fraiche and lemon curd reminded him of a poached egg. Mmmm, poached eggs  on a muffin ..... I am not sure how to respond to that! You have just had a little insight into George's sense of humour!

Take care and I will see you later in the week.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


Good Afternoon to you,

Let me introduce you to a much loved English actress..... Una Stubbs.

Throughout her career, Una has played many parts on stage and screen. One of  Natasha and Danielle's favourite children's series was Worsel Gummidge, in which Una  played the part of Aunt Sally.

.....but I think you will know her from the Bafta Award winning series, Sherlock, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, where she plays the part of  the landlady, Mrs Hudson.

Apart from acting, there is another side to Una.  Una is a self taught needlewoman..... and her work is exquisite.

I bought Una's book "In Stitches" in 1985 and I was drawn in by the beautiful photographs.  

I certainly could find a place in my sewing room for this beautiful shaped dresser, as I love the brass handles on the drawers and the Bakelite telephone which sits on top of the dresser. The overflowing basket of  muted coloured wools, the cotton materials and  the lace, all beckon me to open the other drawers to see what other treasures  are hidden inside. 

This dresser has been beautifully lime waxed. Nowadays chalk paint is popular, but in the 1980's it was all about removing paint from furniture and lime waxing. 

.... and so the wheel turns, paint on, paint off, paint on.  How many years will it be before it is paint off again.

I always thought of this as the perfect sewing corner. The baskets ladened with embroidery threads,  the wooden hoops, the books and baskets of dried flowers, and the reading lamp to ease the eyes whilst sewing.

During the 1980's and early 90's, dried flowers were very popular.  At the time I was part of a fund raising team for our school and one of the ideas we came up with to raise money, was to have an auction.

We arranged for a local auctioneer to host the evening. Parents and businesses were very generous and the donations came flooding into school.  One of the items, was a  beautiful basket of dried flowers.

At the time, I had a large fireplace with a basket of dried flowers on the right hand side, but I needed another basket of flowers on the left side.  So this was a perfect opportunity to bid for the basket. I had meant to bid, but I became caught up in the running of the evening and I missed my opportunity and so I never managed to make a bid.

The bidding started, and unbeknown to me, Natasha was amongst the bidders. The bidding reached the point where there were only two bidders remaining, Natasha and another person. Natasha would up  her bid and from the back of the hall came the other persons bid, they went back and forth upping each others bid.  Now, there were no voices to recognise as the bidders just showed their cards. Can you imagine the surprise when Natasha turned around to see who else was bidding and to find out it was her dad, all anyone heard was "D...a....a....a....d,  I'm buying this basket for mum, will you stop bidding!" to which everyone burst out laughing. George conceded and Natasha bought the basket of dried flowers,  at a rather inflated price.  I was thrilled when Natasha gave them to me and laughed when she told me the story.  In George's defence he had popped in on his way home from work, as he wanted to bid for the basket of flowers and he did  not see Natasha seated at the front. It was so lovely that they both had the same thought and wanted to buy me the basket of flowers as a gift. 

Doesn't this sampler make you want to pick up your needle and thread and start recording the stitches you have learnt.

Una writes "My long-legged son.  Not a perfect likeness maybe, but a very special memory nevertheless."

I love the humour in this piece of work.

These cushions are made by drawing threads, using embroidery stitches and beads.

I think you can see how my love of embroidery and beading evolved..... thanks to Una's inspiration.

This is a close up of the centre panel on one of the cushions..... it is so beautiful.

I have made quite a few of these brooch cushions  some were used for brooches, but others were filled with lavender.  

I love everything about this photograph, but especially the embroidered tablecloths.

Una mentioned in the book that the inspiration for these Signature tablecloths came from Una's grandmother's embroidered tablecloth .

I think this is a wonderful idea. Have you ever thought of asking family members to write their names on a tablecloth and then embroidering the signatures.  I did this once for a friend who was moving, all her friends wrote their names on a tablecloth, which I embroidered.  When we gave it to her as a gift, she burst into tears, not because she was upset, but because she said she would never forget us.  In the years to come, she would think  of us every time she looked at our signatures. 

These embroidered cards are adorable, again these are cards I have made time and time again, but not so much in recent years...... maybe it is time I started making them again.

..... and finally, this beautifully embroidered barley design. Una added this design to form the centre-piece for a set of pillowcases..... it is just lovely.

This is a lovely book, and although each time we moved, I had to cull books from my shelves, I could never part with this one.

Is there a book you have had for a long time which you would not want to part with. Maybe it is a cookery book or a gardening book..... well, really it could be just about any book. I would love to know.

Take care and I will see you later in the week.

This week I shall be joining,

Sunday, 19 May 2013


Good Afternoon to you,

It has poured down with rain all day, but I am determined not to be down hearted, as today, my thoughts are turning to sunnier climes. I am going to be transported back to the warmth of Cyprus and in my mind, I am going into the garden to pick lemons from my lemon tree. Then,  I am going to turn them into Phyllis' Lemon Curd.

In truth, I have collected the lemons from my fruit bowl, but it is alright to dream. I have gathered together the jars. They have been sterilised and now they are ready to be filled with  luscious, yellow, lemon curd,

Pop your apron on and let us begin,


3 large, unwaxed lemons
2 1/2 oz  (70g) butter
7 oz  (200g) sugar
3 large eggs


Wash, then dry the lemons

Finely grate the rind from the lemons

Juice the lemons

and strain the lemon juice.

Half fill a pan with water 
and bring to the boil

Choose  a bowl which will sit on top
of the pan but will not touch the
simmering water.

Place the strained lemon juice into
the bowl,

add the butter,

and the sugar.

Stir over a low heat until the sugar has

 Remove from the heat.

Whisk the three eggs together in a medium
size bowl.

Very slowly, 
pour the lemon mixture into
the whisked eggs.
I found adding a ladle at a time worked well,
 but it is important that you keep stirring
 whilst adding the lemon mixture 
to the eggs, as you
do not want the eggs to curdle.

I ladled with my left hand
and stirred with my right hand.

Return  the lemon mixture to the original bowl.

Return the pan of water to the heat until
the water is just simmering. 

Place your bowl back
on top of the saucepan and keep stirring,

until the lemon curd coats the
 back of the spoon.

Just as a guideline,
it took me 10 minutes of  constant stirring
for me to achieve the result I needed.

Pour into a sterilized jar
and cover with a waxed disc.

Leave to cool before labelling and
covering with a lid.

Store in the fridge.

Now, I need to tell you, that you will need only one jar for this lemon curd, as Phyllis' recipe did not say how many jars of lemon curd the ingredients would make. I had four at the ready, and this proved too  many. Actually, I do not mind, as lemon curd does not have the same long life as jams, so this pot of lemon curd will be perfect for George and I. 

Remember the juiced lemons, well do not throw them away, cut them into quarters and add them to the water which is left in the pan, and bring to a simmer. Your kitchen will have a lovely, fresh, lemon smell.

Just a word of warning, only do this if you are staying in the kitchen, and before you leave the kitchen, remember to turn off the cooker.  As you do not want the  water to evaporate and burn.

I tend to have the lemons simmering when I am tidying up the kitchen.

Making this lemon curd was an interesting exercise as I found, I had to write out the instructions to make it easier for me to follow. When you read the recipe from Phyllis' cookery book the recipe and the method is about 1 1/2 inches by 2 inches in size, and in small print, making it difficult to follow the recipe.

Also, the information states that it takes 10-15 minutes to make the Lemon Curd, I realise I was taking photographs as I cooked, but it took me about an hour and 10 minutes.  I think the 10-15 minutes was the time it took once you had the eggs whisked together and the lemons juiced, grated and ready to use.

This jar of Lemon Curd has been tucked into the back of the fridge, where George rarely ventures, he tends to look for "scrumptions" to eat which sit at the front of the shelves, so I am hoping I can keep this jar until next week, because,

next Sunday I am going to be baking some scones and then I will be slathering them with this lemon curd, well that is as long as it stays hidden at the back of the fridge

As yet, I have not decided whether the recipe will come from Ivy or Phyllis' cookery book, so I am going to compare recipes.

So take care and I will see you later in the week.

This week I will be joining,

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