Eek I’ve bought an Overlocker

I’ve been reading all about overlocker or serger machines. They used them on the Sewing Bee and they are referred to a lot when sewing with stretch fabrics. Buying one had been on my wish list for a while but I was waiting for the right moment. It came when someone on the Sewing Bee Facebook page said that they were on Amazon, as Deal of the Day. I did a quick bit of research and decided to go for it as it had £50 off.

I ordered it on Monday and it arrived on Wednesday. My first impression was – it’s a scary piece of kit. All that thread and all that threading through lots of loops and things!

Well, I’ve watched the DVD and a couple of You Tube videos today and I’ve managed to set it up and have a practice go. So 😛 to you Mark. He was expecting me to cry for help. Being the stubborn old woman I am, I managed to do it without his help. Hooray – I’m not brain dead after all. I was expecting the set up to take all day and be quite frustrated but I was pleasantly surprised.

So now I have to try it out on a sewing project. I decided to thread it with black thread so I need to find something dark coiloured to sew 🤪. I have a lot of the cranberry jersey left that I made the Lark Tee out of so I am going to try a long sleeved version I think.

I am also going to make the Joni Dress featured in the Tilly and the Buttons Stretch Book

I bought  some lovely floral cotton jersey from Guthrie and Ghani and I am going to make the Joni Dress out of that. And that means I will have to re – thread it with white thread 🥴

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The Lander Shorts

I’m late to the party but I’ve made a pair of Lander Shorts. The pattern is made by True Bias, a pattern maker I have only just discovered. I have seen and heard loads of mentions for this pattern so I thought I would give it a go. I wasn’t sure if it was suitable for an older person – me – but I looked at the makes on Instagram and there’re were some other mature ladies wearing them so decided I would join the party. The pattern appealed to me as it had Some neat details like a button fly and belt loops. I have never made either of those before.

After reading a few sewing blogs and some comments on Instagram, I decided I would try using a ‘toile’ before I started.  In all my years of sewing I have never done this. Basically, it’s making a practice garment out of cheap fabric so that you get the fit right before using your expensive fabric. As I had forked out for some rather nice linen from Guthrie and Ghani  I decided this would be a good idea. I used an old cream coloured cotton curtain lining for the toile. I made up a size 16 after measuring all my bits. When I made the basic toile (without the pockets but with the button fly – to practice)  it gaped a bit a the back of the waist so I knew I should increase the waist dart sizes on the final garment and that should do it.  The rest of it fitted ok.

So I cautiously cut out my fabric – as usual I had far too much! As the linen has stripes I was careful to make sure that they ran the right way. They are very thin strips so I didn’t need to worry about lining up the stripes to match, on this occasion.

I told myself, I would not hurry so that I would not make too many mistakes. My new sewing machine had a variable speed switch so I keep it at slow to slow me down 🤪

The instructions are in a small booklet, with pictures, and they are very clear and understandable. They are much better than the traditional patterns and paper instructions which need folding and flipping repeatedly to find where you are.

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After watching the Sewing Bee and Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani’s You Tube videos I have updated my sewing kit a bit.

I have bought a pair of rotary scissors, some glass pins and a metal measuring gauge. I also want some of those weights the Sewing Bee sewists use, instead of pins and have tried out the concept with some magnetic board holders. The pretty weights are quite expensive and you need quite a few, so they will have to wait a while.

I hate doing buttonholes (not quite as much as I hate putting zips in) as I get a bit flustered as to the exact positioning of them. It’s easier with my new machine but it still worries me. It’s not easy unpicking one when it’s wrong! I managed in the end, though and they are not perfect but they are okay and functional.

I lined the pockets with a scrap of material I had leftover from making Nells jumpsuit. I loved doing the belt loops, it makes the whole thing look so professional.

I staggered the making over a few days so I wouldn’t rush it and as usual pressed as I went along. It makes the whole process much easier.

I finally finished them yesterday and I’m really pleased with them and very proud of myself. It’s made me confident to have a go at the trousers now. They are high waisted and a comfortable fit. I can now see what all the chatter was about. I would have added a picture of me wearing them but as it was -1 this morning it will have to wait.

 

Springing back to the Garden

I have been doing a lot of work in the garden to get it ready for the Spring and Summer.

I spring cleaned the greenhouse – the little toad I saw in the autumn in there was still alive and kicking! I shall let him eat any slugs that dare to go in there! 

I bought all the dahlias out of hibernation and planted them all in pots and watered them and put them in my cold frame until the frosts have finished. 

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I bought the agapanthus out of the garage where they had been sleeping over winter and  watered them. The white ones have started sprouting new leaves already. One of the blue ones bust out of its pot so, as I hadn’t got a large enough pot to re pot it I decided to split it in 2. Not as easy as it sounds. I was laughing to myself as I got the saw to it, I must have looked fairly comical. It nearly beat me but I finally managed to cut it into 2 and pot up into 2 pots. I am going to give one to lovely sister Angie for her new garden. 

The compost that had been keeping the dahlias snug I spread over the garden as a mulch,

I showed some vegetable seeds  – they are getting started in the office over the radiator and then I will transfer to the greenhouse. 

  • Chillis
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce 
  • Dill
  • Basil
  • Coriander

 

3C17945E-894E-48B1-BB39-14DE1390460AI pulled out loads of oxygenator plants from the pond. I have the balance right now and the water is clear but I there is just too much in there. I left the excess on the side of the pond overnight to let any wildlife return to the water, before putting the rest on the compost.D5E867DB-8374-4F56-90CC-F9909B02FA33

I sowed some flower seeds too:

They should all be ok in the cold greenhouse, I think!

  • Love in a mist
  • Rudbeckia
  • Zinnia
  • Cosmos

The vegetable plot is looking a bit sad. The only thing in there is some garlic.

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We have started to chit the potatoes and will be planting them in sacks as we did last year, very successfully.

I have ordered some aubergine and sweet pepper plants as I haven’t been very successful growing them from seed.

The woodland garden has come to life but I need to do some tidying. We have the path and fences and new compost heaps to do.

At this time of the year it’s all go!

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Update

So we are back home from Spain,  and I have now put together my Spring capsule wardrobe. I have decided to use navy as my base and used red, teal and mustard as my accent colours. I haven’t had to buy much as I had a few items in my stored clothes. I bought  a few t- shirts and I have made a pair of mustard coloured casual trousers. I used the Tilly and the Buttons Marigold pattern and used Dashwood Studios Soirée Ochre Cherry Blossom Viscose Fabric fabric from Guthrie and Ghani

So this what’s in the Spring capsule

Coats/Jackets/Gilets

Red Jacket – old

Ivory Trench Jacket – old

Navy Blazer – bought second hand on EBay last year

Red fleece gilet – bought last in Autum

Tops -Blouses/T Shirts/Tunics

White long sleeve T – old

White T’s – 1 old and 1 new

Mustard T – New

Light Teal T – New

Navy and White striped long sleeved T – bought last season

Mustard floral top – I made this whilst I was in Spain

White linen top – old

Teal jumper – bought for Winter capsule

Trousers/Jeans/Skirts

Red Jeans – bought for Autumn

Blue Jeans – bought in Autumn

Blue Trousers  p- bought last Spring

White Trousers – old

Mustard Trousers – New

Denim Skirt – bought last Spring

Blue leggings – old

Dresses

Blue, Teal and Red – New made in Spain

Chambray sleeveless dress – made last Summer

Shoes/Boots/Sandals

Red sling backs – gifted from sister

Blue brogues – old

White plimsoles – New

Blue Slip ons – old

Accessories- bags, belts, scarves, jewellery

Mustard crossover bag – present

Blue, Teak and Mustard scarf – bought in Winter

Jewellery – I went through what I had and found a few matching pieces

So all in all a cheap capsule this time.

 

10 things we learnt in Spain

After spending 2 months in Estepona it’s time to reflect on what we learnt in our time there. We had a very relaxing time but it also gave us time to do things we wouldn’t necessarily do at home, like thinking instead of doing 🙂

So here’s some of the things we learnt :

1. We can speak a bit more Spanish 

We continued to learn Spanish by completing 10 minutes a day of the free Duolingo online course everyday. We also used what we knew when shopping, ordering food and meeting people. We learnt more words from shops, signs, listening to people etc

2.Barking dogs get on your nerves

The sound of barking dogs is commonplace in Estepona. It seems that everybody has a dog or five.  They appear to be more guard dogs than pets. Every time you walk by the gated houses, they appear menacingly at the fences or gates. Most nights there was a cacophony of barking dogs at some stage, during the night. It was more than a bit annoying. The locals tell me that you get used to it. It doesn’t seem to bother them.

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3.Red peppers are so delicious

A bit obvious this one but red peppers are cheap and delicious in Spain. Oiled and grilled, skins removed, they turn into a sweet and delicious thing. I will be growing some this year and using them a lot more in my cooking.

4.You need never buy Oranges, Lemons or Avocados in Estepona

Everyone seems to grow them and they always have too many, so they give them away!

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5. Almonds are expensive! 

I use a lot of almonds in my cooking. I use them to make granola, bread and almond butter. I assumed, that as almonds are grown in Spain they would be cheaper. However, they are more expensive in Spain than in the UK. They do sell some delious salted and roasted almonds in Lidl (Spain) which we ate a lot of and bought some home too.

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6.  Motoring is a pleasure in Spain 

There are very rarely road jams or road works in Spain. Tolls roads are a pleasure to drive on. Fuel is at least 15p a litre cheaper than the UK. Ok, so they drive on the opposite side, but I got over that.

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7. Family time is important 

Spanish families like to spend time and relax with each other, especially at the weekends. All the shops close on a Sunday so friends and family gather together. Some of them go to their Fincas in the mountains and others meet for lunch near the beach. It was a real pleasure to see. I am sure the sunshine helps!

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8.There are some really delicious Spanish cheeses 

We tried a few from this list. The choice is a bit overwhelming though so it’s a work in progress job!

http://i-live-spain.com/gastronomy_from_spain/spanish-cheese/

 

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9.We can salsa 💃🏻

So continuing on the theme, of learning something new to keep your brain stimulated, we went to Salsa lessons every Wednesday evening at a pub in La Puerta de Duquesa. I’m not sure we have mastered it – but it was fun trying.

10. Mark loves Sherry! 

I knew this already but I am including it anyway! The sweet Spanish matured sherry  is  like liquid raisins. Mark had a tipple most nights.

Food we will be taking home from Spain – as it’s better or cheaper!

There are some foods we have been eating whilst here which are superior and/or cheaper than the UK. I am going to take a few items back which will travel ok. There are some more I would take but they proabably won’t travel very well, such as cheese, avocados, oranges, lemons.

We love the supermarkets here, as I have said before. We have been using mainly Carrefour as it’s closest but also Lidl and Mercadona. Some things are cheaper and some things are the same or a bit more expensive. However, the variety and choice of goods is far better here, in my opinion.

Olive Oil

The olive oil here is almost green – which tells you that it is good! I will be taking lots of this home.

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Tuna Fish

You can buy this in jars or tins, in oil or brine. We have been using the tuna in a jar with olive oil. The pieces of fish are lovely and chunky, not like the mashed up efforts sold in tins at home. This is actually bonito which is also very nice and is a bit cheaper than the tuna. I will probably take home both.

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Almonds

I am disappointed that whole almonds here are more expensive than in the UK. I thought that as they are grown here they would be cheaper but apparently not. It seems that Spain still import almonds from California! However, the roasted and salted ones from Lidl Spain are delicious and not available from Lidl UK.

 

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Chick Peas

Ready cooked chick peas are sold in jars here rather than tins.  The actual chick peas themselves are much plumper and tastier than the tinned variety available in the UK. You can sometimes but these in Lidl UK but usuallly only when there is a Spanish week.

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Olives

There is a HUGE choice in olives as you would imagine. Some of them are quite bitter but we have found some nice ones which come in very small tins, (which is good as they tend to go off if you open a large jar or tin) so I will be bringing back a few cans of these.

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Tomato Frito

This is a bit like passata but nicer. It comes in cartons and is good for sauces. Lidl do a good version.

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Corn Crackers

I do buy these in Lidl at home but I will be bringing some of these back. They are good for me as they are GF.

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Raisins

The black raisins are lovely and juicy and great for adding to the granola after cooking.

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Vinegars

i use a lot of wine vinegars in salad dressings but I also like to have other vinegars in my store cupboard for when I need them. I have bought red and white vinegars here,  which are cheap at approx 50p for a litre,so I will be taking some of those home. Sherry vinegar is ridiculously cheap too. I don’t use this a great deal but it’ll be there if I need it and it keeps for ages.

 

 

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Spring Capsule Wardrobe 2019

I have decided NOT to buy an off the shelf spring capsule e book for Spring and instead try and make up my own. So now I am in the middle of planning my own capsule wardrobe using what I have learnt over the last 4 seasons using someone else ideas.

I have been thinking about what colours suit me now that I have grey hair. All my life I have worn autumnal colours. Green and brown went really nicely with my auburn hair – which was natural once! Now that I don’t dye it anymore and the grey is more dominant I have been noticing that some colours suit me better than others.

I watched this video on You Tube and it made a lot of sense and gave me the idea to use some different colours.

So I then decided to buy a few t-shirts in some different colours to convince me which colours now suit me. I put on my sun glasses because I did not want to screw my eyes up, but also because I think I look cool 😂

Doing this has also made me look at the necklines of the t- shirts and thinking if some look better than others.

What do you think?

 

The only one I don’t like is the grey one. I think I should stick to wearing grey on my bottom half and not close to my face.

Back to the capsule then. I need to decide what colours I will use as the base of the capsule and what accent colours I will use to contrast with the base colour.

I think I will choose navy blue as my base colour, but I haven’t quite decided on the accent colours yet. It will depend on what fabrics I can buy and what colour the manufactures have decided we are buying this year! Always annoys me that someone has made the decision for me what colour t shirt I can buy in a particular year.

I have thought about what groups of clothing I need. Obvious really but these are what I need to consider :

  1. Coats/Jackets/Gilets
  2. Tops -Blouses/T Shirts/Tunics
  3. Trousers/Jeans/Skirts
  4. Dresses
  5. Shoes/Boots/Sandals
  6. Accessories- bags, belts, scarves, jewellery

Before I go and buy anything I need to go through my stored items at home – although I have a rough idea of what I have got stored away, I know there will be some things that I have forgotten about!

So, for now, I’ll carry on planning and let you know what’s in my Spring capsule in March.

 

 

Tapas Thursday’s

If you follow my Fidgety Lil Instagram account, you will have noticed that I have been doing a Tapas Thursday feature instead of a Curry Friday spot. It seemed the right thing to do as we are staying in Spain for so long.

I decided to cook 4 Tapas dishes each Thursday. It has mostly worked, except the day I made Paella and I just did that. Making 4 dishes between 2 of us has meant that there have been a LOT of leftovers, but the upside is, we don’t have to cook on a Friday!

I have spent a quite a bit of money on ingredients but, as its a bit of a hobby, and we are on an extended holiday then it’s guilt -free! Mark gets to eat the dishes (and photograph them) so he doesn’t complain either.

I have been lucky that there is nice crockery in the villa, to use in the pictures too. Some of it is very Spanish but there are some lovely classic plain white plates and bowls, which I have also used for some of the photos. There is a lovely black Paella dish which I used to cook and display the Chicken and Chorizo Paella.

It’s not all been successes, there have been a couple of things I wouldn’t cook again. For example, the almond chicken I made this week, is just not right. The sauce is made from almond, onion, garlic, stock and bread – I used GF bread. The consistency wasn’t sauce like so I added more stock and a bit of cream but we just didn’t like it very much.  Also, the Russian Salad, although very easy to make, wasn’t very exciting, so we won’t be having that again.

 

My three favourites are the Chorizo and Chicken Paella, Langoustines and Saffron Mayonnaise and Tuna and Mango Salsa. I also love the Patatas Bravas and would happily make those every week.

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I have taken the recipes I have used from online sources (BBC Good Food) and a book I downloaded to my Kindle from Amazon. Hamlyn All Colour Cookery Tapas and Spanish Dishes

I haven’t decided on next weeks 4 dishes yet but it will probably include a fish I haven’t used before.

So today we will be eating leftover Red Pepper and Egg Salad and Tomato Rice and Chicken.

Happy weekend!

Spanish Sewing Project No 4 – Japanese Style Apron

This is the 5th apron I have made with this pattern. I bought the pattern at a craft fair in Leicester a couple of years ago. I had been looking for a Japanese style apron pattern for a while and so I spent a hard earned tenner on it. The lady who made it had one she had made on, which I admired. She said she had made it from an Ikea curtain. (Saved!) I duly went and bought a pair of the grey curtains in Ikea and made 2 aprons. They were made from grey linen but the material frayed quite a lot after washing, so not ideal as they get quite a lot of laundering.

The pattern is very easy to put together and there are only 3 pattern pieces. I can whip one up in a morning now.

The next one I made was using some denim material I bought from the Knitting and Stitching Show in October. I made one soon after and saved the rest of the fabric to make another whilst here in Spain.

The aprons are very good, because they cover a lot of you of you and look stylish, as well as keeping your clothes clean, whilst cooking.

The denim one was more of a success and looks pretty smart I think. I have reinforced the pocket edges more this time, as they came undone on the original ones. I also took more time to neaten the edges before I made the apron up. They wash much better.

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