Thursday, 19 December 2013

chilli jam (last minute Christmas gift)

This week I am also making chilli jam, I make this every month all year long. My son can't eat enough of it or my friend Kimmi! So here is the recipe because it makes a great last minute gift that unlike chutney does not need to be left months to mature, you can eat it as soon as its cooled down. Taken from Nigella Christmas and via her web site


  • 150 grams long fresh red chilli peppers (deseeded and cut into 4 pieces)  I buy mine from Morrisons and it works out about £1 for 150 grams - much cheaper than buying in packets at 50g each                           
  • 150 grams red peppers (cored, deseeded and cut into rough chunks)
  • 1 kilogram jam sugar
  • 600 ml cider vinegar (stores own label is perfect)                                                           

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

crochet wooden coat hanger pattern (last minute Christmas present?)


Hello and sorry its been a while since I wrote a blog entry. I've had a lot of sewing orders to complete this month including these cute little trees and I haven't even made myself one yet Hopefully the last order has been posted today so that I can finish a scarf and some hand made gift tags.

This weekend I had some quiet time, difficult normally at this time of year but I managed it. I love Molly Makes, there is always a free pattern on their web site and I found a great easy pattern (not really a pattern at all) to follow for covering a wooden coat hanger. Mine wasn't a vintage find or one that I've had for years but a new set I bought a few months ago that are padded and covered in fabric. Very dull and boring but I knew they would look fab with a crochet jacket. I tried to follow another pattern recently but I just couldn't master it - but success with this one. If you fancy making one as a last minute gift or for yourself as I did here is the link

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Christmas jam & chutney home made labels

Home-made and home grown (well the tomatoes were) tomatoe & apple jam. A quick and inexpensive gift with home made labels. Asda labels 50p for 50 (bargain), raid your craft area for stamps and sit quietly for 5-10 mins to make a batch. Neat, I love them. All I need to do now is make the paper covers and tie with gingham ribbon. I'm going to make some chilli jam today and do the same for them. Have a fun weekend. Amanda x

Saturday, 16 November 2013

free knitting pattern for moss stitch snood

I love knitting snoods, but knitting in the round can be tricky but gives a nice even finish once you get the hang of the first row. Why not try this free snood knitting pattern over at Deramores, would make a great Christmas present. It is knitted in Rico Creative Twist Super Chunky (3 x 100g) on straight pins but you could also try this pattern that I've used many times and makes a really great snood over at Julia has posted a free pattern for her snood knitted in Sirdar Indie on 10mm pins. If you pop over to Kemps Wool Shop they have this for just over £1 per ball (bargain!) and lots of other yarns at bargain prices.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

sewing, a new scarf and my trip to Manchester

Well I've been a bit slack with the posts, been busy with a few days in Anglesey, then trip to Manchester for work. More on Anglesey in another post with some of the many photos I took.

In pictures this is what I've been doing (including some knitting and sewing) although I forgot my crochet hook for my business trip and couldn't do any of my blanket!

my fabric Christmas trees for sale on Folksy & Ebay

Wendy Fusion discontinued yarn - seed stitch scarf for my Folksy shop
you can find a similar yarn here

Manchester Central from my hotel window

me at my portable office

Festive trees outside the conference centre

the Queen at Manchester Piccadilly on my way back to London!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

rain, beef stew and dumplings, more rain and a new granny stripe blanket

I love lazy Sunday's  - don't you? It has been pouring with rain here in Kent for most of the day, we did manage a one hour slot to walk Moss but came home and it started to rain again. This morning I dusted off the trusty slow cooker (beef stew and dumplings almost ready for dinner, yummy). What do you do on a wet miserable weather kind of Sunday? Crochet your new granny stripe blanket :-) I had a lovely PJ morning sitting with a cuppa crocheting away watching Breaking Bad (we are hooked on it in our house at the moment).

I started a new blanket about a week ago and 14 rows are now complete. This time I read the pattern again, counted each and every foundation chain stitch and manged to get the correct amount this time. I have no idea how I got such a small blanket the first time but its useful and we will take it on holiday in a weeks time to snuggle up under in front of the tv.

Here it is - well the start of it and I love it. I am only using seven colours this time and trying to make it a sort of Cath Kidston colours, quite girlie but traditional at the same time (I think). I just love Pinterest and found a great idea for a different take on the Attic 24 blanket, which although I love it was nice to make another blanket using a slightly different approach. This one combines spots and stripes and I love the way it grows. I can't wait to finish 3 rows just to get the spot row in and see the transformation. Here is a link to the blanket I found on Pinterest (Happy In Red blog). Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, I'm off to get another spotty row in :-)

Saturday, 21 September 2013

making, baking and finishing things (granny stripe blanket)

Today was a day for making, baking and finishing things - quite productive.

As I type the first batch of chilli jam is cooling/stetting next to me before the next batch goes on. That's three batches in a week, not all for me. I've made some for the Macmilian coffee morning (or rather afternoon) a friend has planned and thought it would help rather than baking. But this afternon I was in the mood for baking and made a batch of jam tarts, yummy, and just in time before Ian went off on his night shift. Nothing beats home made cakes.

And this morning whilst he was asleep I finished my granny stripe blanket - pictures to follow shortly.I'm pleased with it but can't wait to start my sisters one tomorrow, lets hope its completed for Christmas (oops I said that word and in September!)

Right gotta get back to bottling up the chilli jam. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I've got a batch of tomato apple jam to make in the morning. Amanda x

bright and lovely granny stripe blanket

Monday, 16 September 2013

Free knitting patterns (pumpkins for Halloween)

Jack be Little Pumpkin from Sitting Tree Blog
In search of a free knitting pattern for little pumpkins I came across these two at The Sittingtree blog and one at Natural Suburbia and thought I'd share them with you.
As I haven't knitted one (yet) I have included pictures from both blogs; aren't they cute? I have some orange wool left over from my granny stripe blanket that I have just for this project.
Pumpkin knitting pattern from Natural Suburbia
Free Knitting Pattern:  Jack Be Little Pumpkin (taken from Sittingtree Blog)


A few scrap yards of worsted weight wool

Size 4 double pointed knitting needles

Wool fleece for filling

Darning needle

Finished Measurements: about 3" in diameter.


CO 36 sts. leaving a 12" tail.  

 Divide onto three needles and join, being careful not to twist.

*K5, P1  Repeat from * around until piece measures 3" long.

Break off yarn leaving a 12" tail and using darning needl e, feed it through all the stitches.  Pull tight and then skim the tail through again for extra durability.  Secure the end with a knot.  

Turn the whole thing inside out. {You could P5, K1 but I loathe purling.  Your choice.}

On the open end, thread the darning needle using the tail and weave it in and out around the edge.

Fill the pumpkin with a sufficient amount of wool and pull tight.  Make a little knot to keep it in place.  Now feed the tail up through the middle and out the top hole.  Tie the two tails together until it resembles a pumpkin! You can hide the tails by pulling them into the middle.

For the stem, pick up and knit 4 stitches on the top.  Knit 3/4" of i cord.  Bind off and darn in ends.
Knitted Pumpkin Pattern 2
Materials Needed:

Wool needle for sewing up
Circular needles
2 double pointed needles
Orange yarn for your pumpkin and green for your stem.
Fleece for stuffing

With circular needles cast on 9 stitches.
Round 1: Knit the first round.
Round 2: Increase into every stitch in the second round, you will now have 18 stitches.
Round 3: Knit 1 round.
Round 4: Increase into each stitch in the 4th round, you will now have 36 stitches.
Round 5 to 9: Knit
Round 10: Knit 2 together all across the round.(18 stitches)
Round 11: Knit.
Round 12: Knit 2 together all across the round. (9 stitches)
Round 13: Knit.
Leaving a long thread, break yarn and thread onto a wool needle, thread your wool needle through your stitches, stuff and pull tight. Do not overstuff as this might make your pumpkin look too round, I understuffed my pumpkin and the convolutions of the pumpkin’s skin showed up quite nicely.  

Saturday, 7 September 2013

crochet flower (free pattern)

I saw this today on the Deramore Facebook page - its a great little weekend project if you have oddments of yarn to use up. I have a whole carrier bag that will come in handy for this pattern! You could make then to sew onto a plain scarf ready for Autumn. You can find the free pattern here for the Autumn Berry Flower.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

RHS Wisley Flower Show Sept 5, 2013

Today I took advantage of the last hot day of the year, and what a wonderful day it was. Spent with my sister Danielle at our favourite place RHS Wisley

On arrival it was so busy, cars queuing to get into the car parks; we had to go to overflow car park 5. I guess with the weather forcast for Friday everyone decided to go today. But with military precision it was a breeze and we were shown to a large field about 1/2 mile away. Those of you familiar with RHS Wisley may not have had to park in the next village before (we hadn't) but it was fine and we walked to the temporary entrance. It was hot, crowded and colourful but luckily we took a picnic so didn't have to queue for the restaurants or for tea. My Cath Kidston picnic blanket finally got some use! My sister made egg mayo sandwiches (eggs from her hens in her garden) and we sat in a shady spot near the flower show tents.

We walked to the orchard to look at the dozens of varieties of apples and pears. It's an amazing sight with some very unusual names. You can purchase the apples in the shop and a bargain at £1.50 a kilo; although not a good idea if you have to walk all the way back to the car park! The apples will be used in my spicy courgette chutney this weekend as a small reminder of our day when the weather turns cold and gloomy.

62 exhibitors offering a great choice of bulbs; heritage seeds; gardening equipment including vintage finds; alpines; hostas and another of my favourite plants the Heuchera. The show runs until September 8th so still some time to visit (9am to 6pm)

Our best find was the Crocosmia x crocomiliflora 'Carmen Brilliant' as a present for our mums birthday next week. We had a chat recently about Gardeners World (last friday) and my mum was surprised at how many varieties there were available. Hopefully we picked the one she wanted to go in her hot border we recently created that already has some Crosmosia in there. And maybe next year I can have a little of it for my garden as it dives very well!

I have dozens of photos to share but these are just a few of my favourite ones taken today that capture the highlights.

PS. I'm happy for people to forward my work but please don't copy my photos without an acknowledgment back to my Blog :-)

Monday, 2 September 2013

jams and preserves (hexagonal jam jars)

It's that time of year again when our hard work has paid off and we have lots of fresh veg or soft fruits to make into jams and chutneys. I'll be making a batch of spicy tomato and courgette chutney this weekend, its easy and you can adapt the recipe to suit you. I never had many toms last year due to the awful weather but this year there are loads! I came across this special offer that I thought I'd share with you.

A jam-maker's special! Twenty-four hexagonal glass jam jars with gold or silver lids, all in a sturdy, reusable cardboard jar box plus a choice of 24 specially designed self-adhesive labels. All packed and despatched within 24 working hours and delivered with our fast courier service. 
Fill with delicious home-made jams, preserves, sauces, chutneys and pickles. Then use the box to store further jars, or to transport them! Capacity of jars: 190ml (approx. 1/2lb)
Measurements: approx. 9cm high x 6cm max. diameter.  Labels measure approx. 6.5cm x 3.5cm. Choose from several patterns, all commissioned especially for Nutley's from homewares designer Julie Ingham.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Free knitting patterns (owl sweater, wrap over booties, Rowan cowl scarf)

I've recently added some buttons to my blog with links to sites I use and of course my Folksy and Pinterest accounts. If you are looking for Free Knitting patterns (I am frequently) here is a link to Deramores free knitting patterns some of them I've featured in past blog updates like here and here. The complete list includes some lovely patterns - an Owl Sweater by Peter Pan; open work cowl by Sarah Hazell and Wrapover baby shoes by Val Pearce. There is something for everyone and if you are a new customer you get a 10% discount voucher! A Win win situation. Happy knitting. Amanda x

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

crochet, gardening and bread pudding

Bank holiday Monday was quiet for us; just the way I like it. A quick trip for some DIY bits for decorating the dining room - 2 rooms in a week we must have the decorating bug! A little harvest out of the garden (as shown) For a newly planted veg patch it has done really well rewarding us with runners, French beans and lots of tomatoes. The plums are a little slow to ripen but I'll use them for chutney so no rush. But its lovely to be able to prepare dinners all weekend and something has come from that small patch. Tastes better, less or rather no air miles and no waste, oh and saves a few pounds per meal. If you look at the price of French beans it must be at least £1.60 per meal.

small harvest on Sunday

glad I only grew one courgette!
totem toms on the patio

runner bean wig wams need to be taller next year

Before we popped out I made a huge bread pudding using my favourite recipe from good old Nigel Slater. I know you don't really need a recipe but after finding this on online I would highly recommend it, my family love it and I'm lucky if it lasts one day!

The afternoon was spent crocheting a new scarf for my mums birthday in a couple of weeks time the pattern link is here at Mousenotebook. I've decided after 3 years (self taught using You Tube and books) that I was actually crocheting a little wrong and now I am doing it right and I love it again! It looked right but it was the way I was making the first stitch - hard to explain but I'm on the right track now so that's the main thing. I've also been using my Kindle for Pinterest and looking for digital patterns, I love it. I can sit in front of the TV and look at the pattern without having to get up! But there is one downside, I can loose an hour or two looking at Pinterest. Look me up if you need a recipe or knitting/crochet pattern, I've got quite a collection now.

On Friday night I made some cute buttons using a kit I bought myself back in June in Canterbury. I've got a box of small scraps crying out to be used for buttons. I also had an order for two lavender stacks and I love making them Pinterest Eight by Six

I thought I had a quiet weekend but after reading this it wasn't that quiet after all!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

crochet Peter Pan collar - my weekend project

Isn't the weather awful? Rain, rain and more rain - well it was here in Kent all day Saturday. We were decorating the front room all day or rather hubby was! All freshly painted now and after a day of housework I finally got round to reading this months Simply Crochet. I've only recently subscribed after my special 3 issue subscription ran out a few months back. I don't normally try anything just look and the lovely colourful pages and then pop it on m craft shelf.

But this evening I did try my first pattern - the Peter Pan lacy collar and I did it! I'm pleased with it and plan to crochet another one over the weekend for a friends birthday. It's almost finished as the ends need sewing in and the button sewn in but I did manage to follow the pattern and learnt a new stitch (htr) which I've been meaning to try;the magazine shows you and its so simple to follow. I used an odd ball of of Stylecraft Pure Luxury Merino in a soft lilac that looks more denim (a bargain from a few years ago), it will look nice with a cream top for my dads 70th birthday in two weeks. Maybe I will try a top next month! I also found this link on Pinterest, there are lots more free patterns on there too. I have a crochet, knitting and gardening boards - just look out for Eight-by-Six; but beware you can loose and hour or two just browsing! Enjoy the rest of your bank holiday weekend. Amanda x

Monday, 19 August 2013

Stylecraft Special DK (Attic 24 granny stripe blanket colour pack)

This picture made me smile this morning, my Stylecraft Special DK  lined up ready for more granny blanket stripes. I bought my Attic 24 blanket pack from eBay and you won't use all of it, which leaves some for the next project ;-)

Friday, 16 August 2013

granny stripe blanket, growing slowly

A little update on what's been going on in my life for the past few weeks. I haven't spoken about this before but my dads been on a radiotherapy course of 3 weeks for cancer. Its not something you want to talk about but actually by talking about it you realise just how many people this affects and it helps you sort of understand.When I first found out I was a bit shocked, numb - you name it all sorts of things go through your mind. Why my dad? But we are a positive bunch and just got on with it - like you do. He's almost finished at the hospital with two more sessions next week and he's doing really well. He's a very positive person and our way to cope has been to give as much support as possible, no fuss just helping with their house move, transforming their garden with my sister Danielle which was a very positive thing to do, very rewarding seeing his face when we'd finished and included lunch with lots of laugher (laughter is a good tonic); visiting as often as possible to just chat and drink lots of tea. We talked too much tonight, anyone that knows me will know I love to talk!

So tonight I drove straight from work to Canterbury to have dinner and cook with my mum. We made macaroni cheese, the recipe I posted earlier this week. And he loved it, nice and comforting and soft and did I mention he loved it? I think my mum will have to cook it every week :-) I like doing things for other people, giving is very rewarding and if it makes the receiver happy then its a win win situation. Sounds corny but when things like this happen it puts it all into perspective. Small things are far more important and family comes first.

It was a lovely and relaxed evening, sat chatting, drank lots of tea and finished another row of my blanket. It goes so well with their colour scheme my dad has requested I make him one! How could I refuse, nice to have your work appreciated and its a joy to do. So pleased the weather has changed so I can crack on with it, plan is to get it finished in two weeks so I start the next one. I've really loved making this one so far, my summer project to keep me warm in the winter. Its been on a journey with me, to hospital with my dad, to my parents house, sneaky row in my lunch break and in front of the tv.

Big thanks go to Lucy at Attic 24, without her bog I wouldn't have started this blanket. I've followed for years, like many other bloggers. Her posts cheer me up, full of colour and happiness. How could you not get immersed in all that colour? Blogging is not just about showing the world you can do something, yes its a record of your achievements but also about every day life, just as it is. I hope I didn't get carried away, but this week I've had a lot to say!

My friend Bianca lives in Holland and celebrated her birthday on Monday. I was a little late sending her present but it was worth the wait and she loves it (phew!) I used some of my vintage fabric stash with three metres of pretty bias binding I found in Canterbury last month. So happy birthday Bianca and looking forward to seeing you in September x

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

mid week recipe (macaroni cheese)

After I've been at work all day the last thing I want to do is be a slave to the kitchen! This recipe is really simple and makes a satisfying meal in about 30 mins. You can halve the recipe for two people but if your hungry go for the full recipe, you wont waste any! I've added one tin of drained tuna and chopped cherry tomatoes before but last night chose ham and slices of tomato on top, yummy.


  • 350g macaroni pasta
  • 40g sunflower spread
  • 40g plain flour
  • 500ml milk
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 150g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Method

    1. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes - until just tender (or follow pack instructions). Drain well.
    2. Meanwhile, melt the spread in a pan and stir in the flour, cook for 1 minute stirring, then add the milk, whisking as you do so. Cook stirring until you have a smooth thickened sauce. Beat in the mustard and half of the cheese.
    3. Pour the sauce over the drained pasta and mix well. Spoon into a large heatproof serving dish (or individual dishes) and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.
    4. Grill under a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until cheese melts and is bubbling

    Monday, 12 August 2013

    Hydranga infinity scarf (my weekend project)

    I was feeling a bit under the weather on Saturday so decided to have a PJ day. To cheer myself up I raided my yarn stash, well part of it. Working with yarn always lifts my spirits; I love being able to produce something quickly out of a couple of balls of yarn. Working with wool and colour is something that cheers me up almost instantly, along with a little early evening sleep.
    With our October holiday in mind when there will be a chill in the air I decided to knit a scarf – an infinity scarf. I refer back to a pattern written by Julia Marsh quite often; it’s an easy pattern and always has good results. I made a number of these as Christmas presents in 2010 and I may do again this year.

    The pattern suggests Sirdar Indie but I’m all out of that particular yarn and found some Wendy Skye in Hydranga I bought on Cucumberpatch last year (a lovely mix of blues with a tiny bit of gold) I’ve never knitted with this before and used two strands held together to get a similar tension – not that I ever pay much attention to this aspect. I cast on 105 stitches (odd numbers for moss stitch – my favourite stitch). The colours work really well and using two balls picks up the uneven colours in the two strands which show up on the moss stitch pattern really well – almost like it was planned. It knits up quickly on no 10 circular needles with only one join. Using 100g balls is so much easier and neater. Here is a link to the pattern free pattern for Moss stitch infinity scarf

    My ta da moment ....... my weekend’s unplanned project ready for Anglesey we will be visiting for our five day stay in a converted barn. Just me, Ian and Moss!

    I'll post one of me wearing it later this year

    This weekend was so quiet compared to last Saturday. Jack was just about to turn 21 and we took him to London to the Thames RIB experience. We loved it even though it was a bit scary for me!
    Jack and Mandy at the Thames RIB experience
    Happy 21st Birthday Jack
    Sunday veggies fresh from the garden

    I hope you’ve had a good weekend; did you start a new project or celebrate something special?

    Sunday, 21 July 2013

    granny blankets, home grown veg & wellies

    Not a very original title for Sunday but here are some things I've been doing today (other than the normal washing and ironing) No sun today - so I can crack on with my granny blanket. No. 1 is almost finished (pic 3) with just the last row of the border to complete and no 2 is growing fast and I'm on row 30. It's been far too hot to do any of the blanket but today its cool enough :-)

    granny stripe blanket

    granny stripe blanket

    granny square blanket (Debbie Bliss Rialto DK)

    granny stripe blanket (Sirdar Special DK)

    more courgettes

    runner beans on home-made wigwam supports

    dwarf French beans (Wilkinsons)

    wellie boots by the back door