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Saturday, 16 September 2017

back to green hexies and new addiction (?)

You might remember the panel of green hexies in one of my posts last month. 

I did not really have a clear idea what to do with it next, so it was just resting quietly in my work room.

Inspiration at last!

Still very much a work in progress...........

Actually, there wasn't really that much sewing going on here this summer. 
May be because the summer itself wasn't very inspiring this year?

I did read quite a few books instead, there were many afternoons when it was much nicer to curl up with a book.
I wrote about some of the books in July post.
One evening, when browsing TV channels looking for something to watch, I came by chance across one of the episodes (4th I think) of "Outlander" series (First Season).
It seems that this program had only reached our "TV shores" this summer, considering that the "Third Season" is out this month.
Not being able to see the first episode on "catch up" any more, I decided to get the book, to find out the beginning of the story. I rather surprised myself, I don't usually read historical novels, but the "time travel" element did add more interest. What can I say? Bit of a "page turner", I could not put it down!
Despite the fact that these are not exactly thin books (800 pages +), I am now on book 3 ("Voyager") of the Outlander series, and I am well ahead of the screen version. I find Diana Gabaldon's style of writing very easy to read, although I don't think I will stay the course, as there are 8 (!!!) books in the series now. ūüėÄ

That's it for now, I am off, I might get a couple of pages in before I'll go to bed.....

©pleasureinstitching.blogspot.co.uk 2017

Saturday, 9 September 2017

jam, stevia and forest walk

Some years ago I visited Jekka McVicar's Herb Farm during one of their open days.
During the walk around we tasted a leaf from a plant called Stevia. We were surprised just how sweet it tasted; Jekka told us she was using Stevia in her kitchen, although in the pure form it was rather limited. 
Sometime later I bought a Stevia plant for my garden and used the leaves to sweeten fruit pies and such.
Unfortunately the plant did not survive the winter.

Stevia has been used as a herb and a sweetener in some parts of the world, namely South America, for hundreds of years, but the rest of the world has been catching up only recently (although it seems that Japanese have been taking advantage of this plant for many years now). 
Opinions vary as to the benefits of it as a herb, but commercially it has been used as a sweetener for some time now and Stevia sweetener also appeared in our shops, but still wasn't really suitable for home baking.

Now at last it is available mixed with sugar, which greatly reduces the amount of sugar needed.
This is the first time I used Stevia in baking and I was curious how it would effect the recipe.
I made a cake, a variation on marble cake (without the "marble"), using only half the amount of sugar I would normally.

Success - there was no difference to the texture or taste.

Earlier in the week DH and I took a drive to our old stomping ground, 
to take a walk in the forest around Stourhead.

Although we are in September now, there is no sign of autumn just yet.

There have been quite a few changes since our last visit here; 
many trees have been cut down and replanted with young ones.

We used to spend lots of time here, very often walked here before breakfast, 
being just few minutes down the road. 
It was nice to be back.

The view across the valley, and Brewham villages.
Somewhere in the middle is our old house, which was our home for 20 years, 
before our move 4 years ago. I miss this view........

Back in the kitchen, making my "Summer Jam".
I know summer is over, but actually this is a good time, because there is still summer fruit around,
 but also first English plums, and this combination makes a delicious jam.
I like making jams and trying different combinations.

My method is very simple and seems to work every time.Whatever the weight of the fruit is, I use a half of that amount of sugar, no water. I mix both together in the pan and let it stand for few hours, so that the fruit can release its own juices. I then boil it slowly to cook the fruit, finish with fast boil to get the setting point. Never seems to fail. 

 There will be a plum jam to make yet, and before the winter comes, the quinces in our garden will  be ready to be processed also.
I wonder how Stevia sugar would work in jams? I have to try it sometimes.

©pleasureinstitching.blogspot.co.uk 2017

Sunday, 3 September 2017

It's Sunday, it's cold and it's raining....

Only a week ago we had a glorious weekend, sunny and hot, the last flush of summer? It looks like it.
We had some sunny days since, but cold in the shade and now it is September.............

The last picnic of the summer with grandchildren this week in the grounds of Barrington Court.
We just managed it, before the rain arrived in the afternoon..... 

There is still lots of colour in our garden, but probably not for much longer...


And still enough food for the bees in my herb border.

Even the "summer play cloth" came outside once more.
I looked for some inspiration and in my draw I found "paper and fabric manipulation" samplers 
I made years ago.

So this is the last block of this summer.
I used scraps of old silk saree, stitched them on with large Kantha stitches and decorated with beads, all from my stash.

This is my "summer play cloth" now, there are still many blocks to be filled in.
It will be now packed away until next summer, which hopefully will be better then this year and there will be lots more "stitching outside" weather!

©pleasureinstitching.blogspot.co.uk 2017

Saturday, 19 August 2017

My hopes for a decent summer are diminishing by the day, but I am trying to make most of the odd couple of hours of sunshine here and there. We had a lot of rain this week, with very few sunny spells; even today, after waking up to rain (again), the sun is trying to come through, but the wind is chilly..
I managed some sewing time outside last weekend, to do little bit more on my blue cloth.

my bits of EPP transformed into 4 stars, 
2 stitched on already, with some old beads from my stash,

and 2 more stars yet to be appliqued 

And what is going on here?

Do you remember my green hexies a couple of posts back?

Well, the idea came from here,

but I want to do something more with the center panel; I have some ideas....

Despite the horrid summer, our fig, planted 3 years ago to cover a garage wall (and has done just that), is doing very well.

Some of the figs are already ripe (this variety doesn't go blue), so what to do with them?
As we don't particularly like eating them as they are; the figs which grow in our climate have very bland taste.
 I tried to use them to make some jam, and I thought a combination with apricots would be quite nice, adding lots of lemon juice.

The result was OK, but just that, not very exiting.
Will have to do some more research ūüėí.

©pleasureinstitching.blogspot.co.uk 2017
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