Favourite Quotes

" When I can no longer create anything, I'll be done for"
Coco Chanel

The bees are stirring.........

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair -
The bees are stirring - birds are on the wing - 
And Winter, slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
Samuel Taylor Coleridge  21st February 1825
(thanks to my daughter Elly for this quote)

Finally the almond blossom has arrived.........isn't it beautiful? Weeks late because of the cold weather, some of the trees have been nipped by the unaccustomed frost and have no flowers at all. But Spring is winning the battle all over the garden......
Lemons soaking up the warm sun...

an unknown plant similar to honeysuckle always blooms in Jan/Feb
Another unknown plant showing bursting buds, the bees love this when its flowers...
the first pink rose of the year, wow!

A huge black bee with translucent blue wings called the Carpenter Bee enjoying the nectar from my pansies

Well, after all that lovliness on to my crafts, I came accross a crochet pattern recently for a cute little doll.
I don't usually like crochet for dolls as I think its too stiff, especially for faces, but this one from FaveCrafts.com has encouraged me to give it a try, isnt the blue hair just amazing?

Another pattern I must try soon is the Damson shawl, knit from the top down with paired increases, so feminine and pretty.

I haven't just been dreaming though, despite being extremely tired last week I got several cards made for sending a demonstration purposes for the Club
A spanish fan card using an embossing board

a stamped ship for a man's card

A birthday card for my lovely daughter in law's Birthday, who is learning to do patchwork
A stamped card using H20's directly on the stamp, gives a beautiful soft water colour effect

Another card using the same technique, I love the effect don't you?
I have been stitching as well, my flower cushion is nearly done and I've been playing with attic24's flower decoration too...
the finished article will be revealed soon...

And finally.....Sophie has a new boyfriend! His name is Opie (hope I've spelt this right!) A really cute Maltese terrier who played and played for hours while the Mummies ate and chatted. Not the best photo, but neither dogs will stay still for more than a second!
Hope Spring is visiting you too, enjoy the season!

Winter glory

It continues to be VERY cold here, but the plants are still making a lovely show outside
This is a succulent type plant that puts on these glorious bright yellow flowers in January

this is another succulent type plant that resembles red hot pokers...

The Christmas poinsettia holding its own until the temperature dropped to freezing, alas it is no more...

The narcissus have faithfully flowered for weeks now, what a cheerful sight they are and smell wonderful too....
(I think my my lense steamed up from coming out of a warm room into the cold!)
I planted cheerful little pansies last week in the gaps around the house, including the window boxes, they will give pleasure for months to come..

And at last some crafty stuff, (finally I hear you say...)

A hooky (crochet) cushion cover inspired by Lucy (attic24) there is no planned purpose for this, I just HAD to try it! I think I will make a handbag with this pattern in tones of the same colour at some point...
And an attempt at Barbara Gray (Clarity Stamp) type stamping and brayering for a friends 70th Birthday

I continue to plod on with the garter stitch jacket, it is making sense now and will be lovely when It's finally done, I do keep getting side tracked.
That's it this week, apart from some fan cards we made at Club this week (they are on loan so no pics yet) 
Stay warm and keep crafting!

Marmalade Tutorial

Hello friends, hope you are keeping warm in the freezing weather hitting Europe right now, we have had frost here for the first time in the 10 years I have lived on the Costa Blanca. This means not just an extra cold house to heat (with no insulation, no central heating and no carpets) but luke-warm showers and gas fires that struggle to stay alight. (The butane gas changes into a jelly in very low temps and will not burn...)
Am I downhearted, no! Well not for long anyway, the best way to keep warm is to cook up a storm in the kitchen, so the marmalade factory has been going strong. If you have never made your own Seville orange marmalade I invite you to try, nothing tastes as good in my opinion and its not difficult. Here we go....

 Weigh out approx 1kg of Seville oranges plus one lemon, or a mix of grapefruit, oranges and lemons (Three fruits is my favourite). Cut in half and squeeze the juice out. Collect the pips in a bowl with a muslin square in it.
 You will need a deep aluminium pan and 2kgs of sugar too.

 Now chop the peel into strips, thickness is up to you.
 Put juice, peel and 4 pints of water in the pan, tie up the pip bag and secure to the handle of the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to simmer and go and do something else for 1-2 hrs while the peel softens.
 This is what it will look like, the liquid will have reduced a lot. Take out the bag and squeeze hard to get the pectin out (this what makes it set). Now slowly stir in the sugar until dissolved. Turn the heat up to maximum and get the mixture up to a full boil. This is where you have to hold your nerve! It will rise in the pan furiously, drop a knob of butter in now to stop the foaming. YOU MUST LEAVE IT ON HIGH HEAT to boil for 20mins. DON'T PANIC, it will be fine, trust me!

 Meanwhile wash and heat your jam jars in the oven to sterilize them. If you have a fancy schmancy jam thermometer like me you can see when the mixture is hot enough when it reaches JAM.

Put a saucer in the fridge and leave it to cool down. When the 20 mins is up dribble a little mixture on the saucer put it back in the fridge for 1 min then do the finger test, if it wrinkles when you push it like this the marmalade is ready, take it off the heat.
 Leave it for 5-10mins to cool a little then pour into your jars, be VERY careful it is still extremely hot at this stage.
 Now you will have your TADAH moment, its just so satisfying seeing all those jars full of yummyness made by you!
Now put the lids on and print or write your lables, (with the date) and put in your store cupboard. The little dish of left overs is your chance to try some on some warm crusty bread spread with butter...
 These make lovely presents when you are invited to someone's house, they are always appreciated!
Now a bit of crafty goodness in case you are bored with all this...
 My friend Liz's beautiful rug, in the finishing stages, isn't it pretty?

 A stationery box project I did with the Craft club this week..

 The inside....
quite tricky, but worth the effort for a lovely gift..
And lots of Lucy goodies....!

Lucy is at attic24 and I have caught her bug of covering everything is bright stripes, this is what my table looks like next to my chair by the fire, nice and bright on a cold winters day eh?
Hope you are keeping cheerful too and that this little missive helped to banish the winter blues a bit..
Talk soon.