Thursday, 29 January 2015

Free Books and Free Time

This morning I awoke to look out of the window and groan 'snow', then I was wondering how will I get the car up the hill, is it worth taking it or should I leave it here? We knew it was coming but it is so disruptive and the roads are never gritted despite the forecasts. So I felt a bit grumpy as I was getting dressed then the phone rang, school is closed. I have to say I was pleased, we got there last week and stayed open but many children didn't and when not all buses are running it can be a real pain.  Sorry to all of you who still had to get in today but I am enjoying the unexpected day off.  There is something magical about a day off you weren't expecting, a little gift of time, which we rarely have enough of.
Only a light covering here at this point but it has continued to come down heavy and managed to disrupt transport. 

So I have my skirt planned and I will be making that this afternoon, it's a bit different and I don't know if it will hang ok but I will share when it is complete.
I also plan to have a go at making wheat free chapati to go with curry, this will be a first so I don't know what that will turn out like, it looks basic enough.
On the subject of food someone recommended Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's books to me yesterday at work. It appears he has done a book solely on veg and one on light food which also has vegetarian food in. I had a quick glance after having a search online then found all his books in the library catalogue, so I ordered two and now just need to wait for them to arrive at the library.


I am considering this a good saving accomplishment as in the run up to Christmas I bought myself a couple of books and to be fair one of them could not be found in the library. However it is too easy to go on amazon and click buy, even if I do get it cheap. Free is always going to be cheaper! I always use the library but I have started to buy more books again and this drip, drip effect is something I must stop.  I think it is ok if it is reference material that you will return to again and again but most books are not and just sit on the shelves taking up space.
At Christmas I took two full bags of cookery books to the charity shop that have not been looked at in years so I do not want to start hoarding them again.  When my books arrive at the library I will look through them, note down anything that looks good that I will try and then they can go back for someone else to enjoy.

I thought what Mr money moustache said was perfect, 'Imagine you had hundreds of thousands of books on every subject to read whenever you wanted, you have, it's called the library and they even store them for you'. The thing is on one occasion when I was in the library looking for something I spoke to the librarian who said lets look on the catalogue, I said I had checked but they didn't have what I wanted but did they have anything similar?  She said oh we can just buy it in, she ordered a new copy right there!
  Now this was about two years ago and since then 15 libraries across the city have closed and the ones that are left have had their hours drastically cut.  It is such a shame and I really do hope that in the future we won't be losing them altogether. Reading form a screen is not the same as reading from a book, plus they offer social interactions for some, book groups, coffee mornings and a free safe  place to learn for others.
I have a book out at the moment on pattern cutting, I have had it out before but it is quite in depth and I never got all I wanted form it due to time, so I have borrowed it again. The thing is as long as no one has a hold on your books you can renew them a couple of times.
I'm off now to enjoy the rest of my unexpected day off.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Garlic Mushroom Wheat Free Panckes

Yesterday involved a trip to the big Tesco in the city because Aldi my usual place to shop does not have any of the gluten free flours. I decided for now to just buy the plain gluten free blend and the white gluten free bread flour. I also bought xanthan gum ( thank you Cornish chickpea ) as apparently you need this to make the flours bind properly. This is all new to me. They did have all sorts of goodies that I would be able to eat but I resisted temptation as I have been eating more variety since I stopped eating bread and cakes and buying the processed stuff would ruin that.
Today for our Sunday lunch my  husband and son had roast chicken but for my older son and myself I decided to make mushroom pancakes using my new flour.
They take a few pans but are easy to make ( husband doesn't like me using loads of pans he's on washing up duty!)
So I made two of these and they went down really well, they are full of mushrooms the ones on the plate at the side are a few that came out. Recipe is below and if you leave out the cheese and bertolli spread and use vegan substitutes  ( also for the egg, not sure what you use there) instead these would also be vegan.

Garlic Mushroom Pancakes 

Pancakes
2 eggs
4 desert spoons of dove farm gluten free plain flour
125ml soya milk (or just milk)
Olive oil

filling

1 pack of large mushrooms
2 handfuls of spinach
1/2 a red onion
2 garlic cloves
tsp basil
125 soya milk (milk)
small amount of mozzarella or cheddar
tsp of margarine ( I use bertolli spread or shops on olive spread)

Method

To make pancakes beat eggs, add milk then whisk in flour a bit at a time. Heat a little oil in the frying pan cook pancakes a few minutes each side then set aside on a plate.
Chop all ingredients, fry mushrooms in the garlic (crushed) add onions, after a few minutes add spinach, sprinkle in the basil.
Heat the spread in a saucepan then add milk as it gets hot add a little flour at a time and whisk quickly it will start to thicken (don't add too much it goes thick all of a sudden) take off heat and add a little cheese).
Place a pancake in an oven proof dish, coat one side with the mushroom mixture add a little sauce over the top. Fold over add more sauce and a little more cheese on top. Repeat with the other pancake.  Cook in a hot oven for about 10 - 15 minutes until golden on top.
I sometimes add a little chilli to the mixture to make it a bit spicy but that is up to you.

So one wheat free recipe down I will have a go at pastry later in the week ( I think that is where I will need the xanthan gum).

Also this week I am going to make a skirt with the check fabric I have had ages but I am still stuck what to do, I love the fabric and I usually just jump straight in  and cut out but I have seen lots of styles I like and I am undecided. Below is what I found on pinterest.







Right this bottom one is actually similar colours and I have some lace left, a bit longer but only problem is if I embellish it with lace I probably wont wear it for work and I like to be able to wear my clothes whenever.I may do a combination of these I will see what develops.
Here is my fabric sitting there on the sewing table waiting for me to make up my mind.



Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A Couple of Creative Goals

Its good to have something to aim for as we go along I think and at the start of every year I always think about what I would like to achieve in the coming months. By this I don't mean financially and unfortunately I have noticed with many goal setting articles it seems to be all about money and work!
If we look at life that way we will be forever chasing money and missing a lot along the way, I have decided not to focus on that.  While I do like to be aware of what I spend and save I don't want to be a person who thinks life will only be good with a fixed sum of money.
So that said what I do like to look at is what I can learn, make or find out more about while being happy at the same time.
 One of the things on my list for this year is to find out more about pattern making and design and maybe do something with one of my designs.
Another possibility I'm looking at is to design my own fabric and we can do this now! Yes, anybody can just design their own fabric and have it printed, now this is something that will cost about £20.00 a metre as I have found this site...

It called Woven Monkey and it is UK so the postage is free.  I think the design would have to be spot on before I would pay so much for it but it would be great for a special project and if home made clothes are not unique enough this takes it to another level.
This is something I will play around with and if I come up with a design I really love I will save it and maybe have it printed up at  a later date.
Something I didn't plan last year was to buy my guitar in August and I have to say it has been one of my best buys, I have been learning using justinguitar.com and the books that I have bought by him and it is so relaxing. I have about four basic songs in memory and can play more from the beginner book ( play as a beginner that is) but the main thing is I really love it! 
On the theme of learning new things I went on a course this morning to do with my job, I really enjoyed it and always like to go on courses to learn more.  One of the ladies on my table had said she hoped it would be cancelled so she wouldn't have to come.   It just goes to show how some people enjoy things that others don't but also how we have a different way of looking at things. I have decided I am going to try and always frame things in a positive way because if we start out with a cloud over our heads in the morning it can be very hard to shift.


Sunday, 18 January 2015

No Wheat!

A little update on the new year so far, and I have to say I am feeling good about it. Tired from work at the end of the day but the normal kind of tired that comes from having been up early and done a days work.  I have not had any energy crashes  at 2 in the afternoon which was quite normal for me, sometimes I had to fight to keep my eyes open until it passed.  I have also banished my daily stomach cramps which usually start late afternoon.
I  haven't been able to tolerate milk since my younger son was about 3 and I have been using soya instead ever since, for years that sorted me and I was fine but maybe for the last year or so the cramps have been back.  I have heard about the evils of bread and laughed it off (after all we have been eating the stuff for ever) but Christmas saw me in pain for days but just getting on with stuff so I decided I would just give it a try. No bread, pasta, cake biscuits or anything with wheat, I went out and bought from the gluten free section.  I have to say it is very expensive and not much choice in the supermarket but it has made me think about what I'm eating.
There has been no test I must stress but that was on my list, if this didn't work I was going to go to the doctors and insist on a test to see which food was affecting me but so far this seems to have done the trick.
No pain,  no bloat and surprisingly I have stopped feeling like I need a nap mid afternoon (which I can't have anyway because I'm at work!) I also think my skin seems to have improved and it's only been a few weeks!
Now my lunch did used to be a very lazy and boring affair with pretty much a white bread cake with either humous or quorn on it every day.  Thinking about what I can have means I have taken left over curry, soup, rice cakes, baked potato (cook day before) and salads so the energy could also be due to better food going in.  I have just found this blog Gluten free Girl which is full of information and the author is actually Celiac so she has to watch every label or suffer terribly. However she has turned it into a positive and writes books with her chef husband, she also treats food as something to be enjoyed and to focus on what she can eat.
I think cutting out the wheat actually means you do have to say no to an awful lot of the crap that we normally eat, stodge and confectionery most of it.  I do love dark chocolate though.
So so far it has not been hard and I thought it would be, I suppose it is just a case of getting out of the habit of reaching for the biscuits or toast when you are feeling pekish.
I have not had a go at baking yet as I was confused by the range of flours and that you need specific ones for different things. I will try this out at some point though for now I am managing without baked goods.
I would be interested to hear how anyone else is getting along who is living wheat free.

This past week I have been reading How to fall in Love by Cecelia Ahern and I am enjoying it.



 It is an easy read which is good after I re-read 1984 just after Christmas which was thoroughly depressing! It is well written and a classic but honestly so miserable.
There has also been guitar practise and catching up on Grand Hotel series three so not much sewing going on but I thought I would have a little rest after my Christmas sewing frenzy. Back soon.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Sewing saves you money

First week back at work of the new year out of the way and I have to say I was shattered by the end of it.  You have a couple of weeks off and suddenly you get tired quickly, it just goes to show how soon your body adapts to a different routine be it good or bad. Rushing around getting things done at the end of the day has meant my sewing has slowed down but this will improve as I get back into my working routine.
I like to practise my guitar, read and swim as well as sewing so I want to make sure everything is balanced and sometimes it feels like there are not enough hours (you know that feeling).
Today was intended to be my sewing day but I have had a headache all day which is only just lifting I may get a little done later but for now I thought I would give a run down on the cost of my Christmas sewing.
The fabric for all of the garments I made over Christmas and the the Christmas party dress I made a few weeks before came out of money I received for my birthday.  I ordered it from Minerva Crafts and it cost me £27 for 3 metres of chiffon (various patterns) 1 metre of sweatshirt fabric and 2 metres of Jersey.
Below is a round up of what I made for  that amount...


A party dress.  This would easily have cost at least £30 in a shop, more depending on where. 













This dress which can be worn day or night I think, it is very comfy and a really good weight fabric.









This dress which can be worn  any season as you just add layers under it. ( Which is what I did when I wore it last week)
Same style as the one above but without the sleeves.














This loose long sleeved blouse, needs a top underneath though!














Another top in need of a long sleeved T shirt underneath but that would still have been required had I bought it from a shop.






Finally this sweatshirt, I just made the pattern by laying out a top I already owned to give me an idea of size and measure my arms to get the sleeve length right.




So five garments for £27, I know some of you may be thinking that you managed that in the sale. However these garments fit me perfectly which is what you get when you sew for yourself, also you are aware of the labour that went into these items and also the enjoyment from creating them yourself.  Given those factors I would say that you not only save but also learn and find a bit of peace in the process.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Weekend Sewing

I thought I had better get on here and update quickly as soon as I came home as now I am back at work time is tight.  Saturday afternoon I made up another dress along the same idea as the blue one but this time without sleeves.  This material was not as heavy as the blue and with quite a bit of bounce which always makes for awkward stitching but it was still pretty quick to put together.
It was green in the picture when I ordered it (the lines in the check) but after staring at it it looks brown to me, then at work today I looked down and it did in fact look a bit olive green. So maybe I am colour blind, or I have bought some weird chameleon type fabric. It was worn today with very thick brown tights and a long sleeved brown T  shirt underneath.
I had to face around the sleeves on this one and I have not done belt loops as I have different size belts which I may wear depending on what top I wear underneath this.
Yesterday I made up a sweatshirt , I just used used a top I already had and made it loose, a piece for front and back, sleeves and a bottom extra hem piece.  Again very quick to make up so I really need to source  some more good heavy sweatshirt fabric (preferably with a bit of detail in it so it doesn't look too much like a hoody.)
This fabric had a bit of a fleck in it, a bit more interesting than plain, but quite a lot of fray.
So that was all of the fabric I bought a month ago with birthday money, it certainly gave me more value and entertainment than buying the items.  I have a few fabrics left bought at other times still to be made up so I haven't ran out just yet.  I will break down the cost of these items in a few days and hopefully inspire you to sew, or at least give it a go.




Saturday, 3 January 2015

First dress of the Year

More sewing and this time it's a dress, not from the new book this time as I already had in mind what I wanted to do with this fabric when I bought it.  I have other dresses that I have made in the same style and they get lots of wear so I wanted to make something I knew would get worn often.
Here are the pieces all cut out...
Photos are so much better in the daylight.  I will learn how to take better photos in all conditions one day. I did not add it as a goal this year though as I have wrote down so many I do actually want to achieve some if not all of them! Adding another would have been too much but it may have helped with the rest.

Here I added the darts once it was on the mannequin, it works for me to do it this way or sometimes with me wearing it first.  It depends what I am  making and how confident I am with it, like if I have made it before I will just try it on the mannequin.

This fabric was just so lovely to work with I may have to get more. I would normally face or bind around the neck but as this was quite thick it would make it bulky, also there was no fray at all.  I just did a small zig zag around the neck then turned it under and hemmed it.  It lay completely flat, after all the faffing of the last few days with the chiffon fabrics this one was just a joy to sew.

Here it is finished, now I think this is such an easy dress to make and if you choose a fabric like this one (heavy jersey) with no fray you don't even have to finish off seams on the inside. It is also really comfortable.  I don't use a pattern I make it up as I go but I could do one for this in size 8 or 10.  So I am  thinking about learning how to size this up and then maybe having some printed to sell?
  This is all just an idea at the moment as I don't know where to begin really with the whole printing, marketing etc.  I do know though that I would give very detailed photo instructions for every step  so this would be perfect for someone just learning to sew.  I would really appreciate any thoughts from anyone out there on if you think this would be something you would be interested in.  Also any tips on moving forward with this sort of venture.
One last photo with the dress on...


  


Friday, 2 January 2015

New Year Sewing

Well I feel like I got off to a good start as I made the blouse I had planned for yesterday, the only problem being that I did not have a set of matching buttons to finish the front. I knew I had many black buttons lurking around in various sewing boxes but when I came to find a set it turned out they were all just a little bit different in some way.
Some projects look good with mismatched buttons I didn't think it would work on this however.  I will have to go and source some but for now here are the pictures on the dummy. (Night time photos again unfortunately)
Here is the back view, obviously it will have to be worn with strappy top underneath again like the last one I made. (Note to self I have enough sheer items now!)  I used black lining in place of interfacing as I didn't have any black interfacing.  Glad I did though as it gives a bit of detail on the inside as I have made it a little different to the instruction pictures. 
I will probably wear it with the collar open as I feel it doesn't really suit me fastened all the way up to the neck, and I feel a bit bothered by it. This is why I faced it with the lining this way so it would look okay when open.

This is the collar up but no pin in here so obviously it will close over the left side when it has buttons on.

Here it is from the front and although the picture is a little blurry I have to say the fit is perfect! I tried it on for the first time once I had done everything. I wanted to see how these patterns work without me modifying as I go and I was surprised how well it fitted.  I used the actual seam allowance stated this time no cheating by adding a bit on to be on the safe side as I usually do.  I did hang it on the dummy in between but I stuck to the pattern, for once. The only change was the facing but that had nothing to do with the fit.

It say in the book though the pattern pieces for this pattern were on side A, I stared at it for ages and they were not on A but side B.  It also states why not make it a size smaller as it is meant to be a tight fit.  This would not be a good idea as my actual size fit perfect so a smaller size would be too small.
I will post more on this with buttons and actual wear taking place later.
Next up is a dress I cut out last night, this is going to be one of my own pattern free dresses and will be much quicker to make.  This is the fabric...
It is a bright royal blue and black, quite a good weight jersey.
I need to go and start this now to keep the pace going back soon.






Little Bird Black Dress

It seems to me that I may have a bit of a thing for fabric with birds on it, I don't know why I have only just realised this.  I pulled ...