Sunday, 18 December 2011

Design edit...

I love everything about my new bag, the only thing being that the big pocket on the outside back.... I think it gapes open a bit. I was thinking about putting a bit of velcro in the pocket so that it doesn't gape, but then I thought putting a button on would look nicer, so I need to put a button hole in the middle of the pocket fabric - watch this space!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Turned out well in the end...

So following the instructions from Heart of Mary's blog that I linked to in an earlier post, I've made my little messenger bag.

1/2 metre of the flowery fabric from 'The Internet' and a metre of the black fabric from Simon Boyd in Gresford.  Zips and interfacing from Calico Laine, and the magnetic snap from eBay.

I edited slightly from the instructions and added some stitching to create pen pockets on the front of the bag. I also added in loops inside for key fobs.

I did think about making the strap adjustable but decided against it in the end. If I make a larger one, I'll add adjustable straps.

I'm really happy with the way it turned out. The stitching looks OK, even though I was worried about my sewing of the corners and around the inside zip!

Friday, 9 December 2011

How to make a new bag....

While I really love my North Face small messenger bag, it's a bit outdoorsy for general work purposes so I've decided I'd like to make something that fulfills the same purposes but looks a bit more girlie. I've been scouring the internet for patterns for messenger bags an have come across the following tutorials:

A messenger bag with zipped pockets, a magnetic closure, and I'll change it a bit to add an adjustable strap:

How to add an internal zipped pocket and a magnetic closure:

And I found this tutorial for a bag that's a little less practical and a little more girlie:

Sunday, 4 December 2011

More crafty crafts

First attempt at quilting went well I think.....

I took the Beginners guides for the Christmas table runner from and bought a pack of 4'' patchwork Christmas squares on EBay.  The pattern on the website used 4.5'' squares, so I increased the number of squares in the rows from three to four so that the runner was a bit bigger.

4oz polyester wadding was used for the quilting, and I sewed in the valley between the squares.

Saturday, 26 November 2011


Look at what I made!

I bought 4 different types of Christmas fabric in 1/2metre lengths from the Hulu online fabric shop, and a length of white binding from EBay, and then followed the instructions on this excellent tutorial:

I've used drawing pins to attach them into the beams in the Dining room and they look fantastic! I think I might have to make some non-Christmas ones now.... Even my SO thinks they look brilliant!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Dog training, lesson one

So we tried our first training session today. Started off with a run down from the house and up Chapel Lane and then Dark lane. The main road was more hard work with Rosie pulling lots, but loving when we ran - especially the sprint to the lights. Once we were on the back roads she calmed down a bit and was pulling less. I just had to be careful with her nose following running style as she has a tendency to dart in front of me... Once we'd got to the end of Dark Lane we started walking to do some training - she was getting tired from the running at this point and had calmed down quite a lot.

All I did with the training was stop. When she pulled on the lead. Just stop. Not say anything. Then when she slacked the lead/turned or looked towards me, I'd start walking again and praise her. As soon as the lead went taunt again, I stopped. By the time we got to the crossroads, she was starting to understand what she was supposed to do and was definitely pulling less.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Baby christmas cakes

So this is the first attempt at making Christmas Cakes and these are to go into the Christmas hampers. I've used the recipe from the Good Housekeeping Baking Book, and put it into 6 baby tins (4.5'' ). There was a fair bit of cake mixture left over so I put the remainder in my smallest loaf tin.

I wasn't sure how long these would bake for as the recipe says 4 hours for a 9'' round tin. So I did them for 2 hours, making sure that I turned them and rotated them between the two shelves every half hour or so. I was paranoid about burning the sides so they had double layers of baking parchment on the sides and bottom, and a double layer of brown paper around the outside of the tins. All look good, tho a bit fragile as they're not very deep. The larger one in the loaf tin I cooked for about 2 1/2 hours.

Monday, 31 October 2011

GH Baking: Test 1 - Carrot cupcakes

Another bargain purchase from the cheap book sellers that do the rounds of workplaces, and now have the Good Housekeeping Baking Book. So I promised everyone a test bake.

And here we have - Carrot cupcakes.  The icing went wrong - was too runny as I didn't have quark (like cottage cheese apparently) so I just made up some buttercream icing and put some orange juice in it. Seems to work fine, and they didn't last long in the office. Only thing was they were quite big as I made 12 (as per the reciepe) but I think you could make six more and still have good sized cakes.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

This was a beginners ride, honest!

OK, so I'd taken it upon myself to organise some beginners rides for MBNW with the aim of getting newbies out and meeting other bikers, and on to more challenging terrain (well at least away from the trail centres!).  The first one only had a few takers and we went on the Veranda route around Penyclodiau in the Clwyds.

For this one I'd sorted out a route using the Blue trails around the Alwen and Brenig reservoirs, and surprisingly had a lot of takers. On the day there were about 15 of us!

The route started at the Alwen Dam, and went up the east side of the reservoir on a blue grade track through the trees. Then when we got to the top we turned right out of the trees and along the farm track that joins the two reservoirs. Not a bad track - a bit muddy in places, and the section just before you get to the main road crossing has some nice wheel swallowing bomb holes! Once on the Brenig track we went left (clockwise - which is apparently the wrong way round!).  Starts of on a big wide track and then goes into a narrower track.  What I didn't realise is that we shouldn't have gone down the narrow track (footpath!) but should have gone onto the road - I knew we needed to do it, I just missed the turning....

So we ended up on the footpath going round the north end of Llyn Brenig. It was a bit muddy but had obviously seen a fair amount of bike traffic, and there wasn't anyone there apart from us so I wasn't too bothered. Everyone was slipping and sliding around on the muddy sections, but I think they were all enjoying themselves....

Off of the footpath we were back onto the big track going all the way round the reservoir - over the dam and to the Visitor's Centre. By the time we got there, the weather was a bit pants - very windy, getting colder, and damp. So given the variety of speeds of bikers, and not wanting people to be waiting around in the cold, I decided we'd head back to the cars.

Prize for the top accessory for the ride goes to Phil with his handlebar hound aka Skye.  She was great - spent the whole ride running backwards and forwards between us all, and only got a carry when we were near the road!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Fritillary planting and shed tidying

So today's activity list was a long one and was never going to get completed. Why is it that the 'To Do' list is always longer than what you can ever achieve in the time available?  While the OH is away, its time to arrange things how I want them, but before we get on to that - I needed to make a dent in the spring bulb planting. After my huge order from JParkers, and planting the bluebells in the copse and some of the posh tulips in pots - I've got some more pots and planted the rest of the tulips. I've also planted all of the snake's head fritillaries in a more open area of the copse - I've not marked out where, so it'll be a surprise!

After that I painted the inside of one of the cold frames - the plan is to do both and then line them with bubble wrap ready for the winter.... And I need to replace the broken glass in one.

Then it was time for the best activity of the day - tool storage!!! Bought a selection of tool clips from Screwfix and tidied up the big tools in the shed....

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Rosie dog learns about walkies!

Poor fat nextdoor's Beagle was left alone for the day with us to keep a eye on her. So we went exploring in the woods to look for an iron age fort... Not much left of it, but loads of cheeky bits of trail that would be great on a mountain bike!

90th birthday celebrations!

Had a hectic day dishing out tea and cakes to lots of old ladies..... Some of then very demanding!! Last night I was rushing around making victoria sponge, vanilla biscuits and cookies- so busy I missed Gardeners world and the Really Wild Autumnwatch show! The OH must have thought I was deserting him....

Then I was up this morning at 5am and away by 6am just so that I was down south by 9am to watch Wales lose to France in the Rugby semi-final :-(

Was really surprised at how long Nan was downstairs at the party- guess it was all that chatting about old times that kept her alert.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Copse transformation starts

So far in the copse we really haven't done much- just pruned the trees and kept it tidy. Now my huge order of bulbs has arrived it's time to start planting.

I know where I'm going to put the path through the copse so on the house side of that, where the most shade is, I've started with the bluebells. I'm hoping when they come up in spring there will be a big drift on that side (well eventually I'll have planted 75 bulbs there)!

The plan for getting rid of the grass comes from the extensive use of Google - I've laid some newspaper on top of where the bluebells are planted and then put compost/leaf litter on top of that and watered it in.  The plan is that the newspaper stops the light and so kills off the grass, and by the time the bluebells are coming through its all degraded down.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Bountiful harvest

On yesterday's lunchtime run I spotted the hedgerows filling up with blackberries, so I went back today to pick them. I got a few looks from the car drivers but there you go!

So I'll add them to the pounds of apples that Doug gave me and they can be cooked and frozen ready for making crumbles.

An evening foray into the garden for some watering returned lots of mini tomatoes and even some of the plum toms were turning (finally). I think the plum ones are really struggling outside with all the welsh weather.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

A glut of damsons again

Picked the last of the damsons from the tree and now trying to work out what to do with them.....

Fortunately we bought some more preserving jars and brandy so some went that way, also the same recipe but with gin.  The rest went into the freezer (I'll think of something....)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

A shortage of jars....

Picked just over 5lb of damsons tonight and stewed them up with 1 1/2pt of water, a cinnamon stick and half a dozen cloves.

Went next-door to collect some jam jars for when I make jam from the stewed fruit, and what do you know - they'd given all their jars away. I dunno some people!  I even took round some yellow plum jam that I made earlier in the week..... tsk!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Back to your roots

The main crop potatoes and onions were dug up this weekend. Both crops produced huge veg (the OH's father was very impressed).... Trying to leave them somewhere to dry out was challenging, with all the summer showers!

The bed was dug over and green manure (some type of flowering clover) was planted. That should over winter (if it doesn't flower first) to be dug in, in the spring.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Damsons are forever.....

Rightio so lets get started.... before the on call phone rang on Tuesday evening I dashed out, colander in hand, to pick some Damson's from the tree in the copse.  After some branch/hair attacks, I'd had my fill, so back inside to be washed and dried.
Ended up with nearly 4lb of fruit, some of which went on to the windowsill as it was still a bit too green.
Next googled some brandy recipes up and played with some weights, so now what I have is: - in one 500ml Le Parfit jar
  • 9oz of Damsons, washed, dried and pricked with a fork
  • 3oz Caster Sugar
  • 250ml Cheap Spanish Brandy!

And that's times three....
So we'll see what happens with that (after daily shaking for a week to dissolve the sugar).
Supposedly needs to be left for 3 months. Will see how that lasts.....