Sometimes It’s Fine To Give Up

So the Moneta party is coming up! If you’ve not heard about it, It’s an Instagram in which we make the Moneta dress by Colette.

As happens with anything with any form of deadline or pressure (even if it’s imagined) I panicked and messed up.

And then gave up.

Previously I made a small version, it fit fine but I thought I could use a little more give around the waist.

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This time I tried the size up in a Cotton and Viscose Jersey blend. The fabric is gorgeous but unfortunately, I managed to stretch it out beyond any recognizable shape. After yelling at my sewing machine a few times and snapping several pieces of clear elastic, it was time to give up.

Next time I’m going to just stick with the smaller size and use more stable fabric. Any further rescue attempts are not worth my sanity.

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This fetching fabric caught my eye at Crafty Sew & So, I’m somewhat smitten with it. Normally I go for more of muted tone but who can resist the allure of peacock feathers? It’s a Viscose Jersey, and shouldn’t stretch too easily. If I use the Sewing Cafe at Crafty Sew & So  I can make my next Moneta on an overlocker should make things a lot simpler and quicker.

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year?

I am trying not to apologise for not posting in some time. I can only post when I feel mentally well enough to do so, recently I have not.

 The madness of Christmas has passed, after four days of intense socialising and festive fun I collapsed under the weight of a migraine. It passed after a couple of days but I can still feel the heaviness lingering at the edge of my temples, ready to strike at the slightest provocation.

As anyone with mental health issues knows, the Christmas season is an intensely difficult time of year. The pressure builds steadily through late November and December culminating in one day in which it is of the highest imperative to be merry. Heaven forfend if you don’t see every family member on this holiest of sacred days.

There is an extra pressure when issues around food arise. Anyone who has been reading this blog for any amount of time knows I suffer from an eating disorder. in the past few years, I have gained two stone and am now at a healthy weight. Although I am physically well the psychological issues around eating have not vanished. I have a sneaking suspicion they never will.    There is a strange association with emotions and eating around Christmas. I find people using languages which I associate with having an ED. They ‘allow’ themselves to eat certain foods. An indulgence often followed by a promise to diet, even from people of a healthy weight. This isn’t helped by societal and commercial norms. Christmas is for bingeing. The new year is for restricting. When I worked at Waterstones the new year was the most loathsome time of year. Books insisting fasting is a healthy lifestyle choice littered a table with the heading ‘New Year New You.’

There is nothing wrong with the old you!

 I did not intend this post to be a rant,  In truth, I wasn’t going to write much at all. All my frustrations came all too easily.

On to happier things. This Morning my eagerly awaited delivery from Fatface arrived. On boxing day I took full advantage of the sale and spent the majority of my Christmas money on a fine array of clothes. I’m wearing as many as I physically can in one go right now.

There’s only a skirt and coat which is set to one side…for now.

Sewing my own clothes has made a huge difference to my shopping habits. I’m finding myself looking at the composition of fabrics and avoiding certain shops, knowing I could do a better job of making the clothes. However, Fatface clothes are impeccably made with good fabrics and sturdy finishes. I’ve found this to also be the case with Cath Kidston, Joules, Seasalt and others with a high price tag to match. Thank goodness for sales.

I hope everyone survived Christmas, it’s over now. There’s a whole year to go before the next one.

Thanks for reading

x

Sweet Bread Is The Best Bread

So I wasn’t particularly inspired by this week’s bread on Bake Off. For a while now I’ve been wanting to make a second attempt at brioche. I fell in love with brioche around three years ago when my husband and I went to Switzerland on our honeymoon. There were so many lovely patisseries. A brioche bun was a perfect snack for wandering the medieval streets.

My last attempt to make brioche actually turned out pretty well, however I got in a terrible mess, the mixture was so sticky i had to get my husband to release me from a doughy finger trap. This time, I’m hoping to utilise my mixer and dough hook.

Looking at paul Hollywood’s recipe it takes 10-11 hours of prep! I just don’t have the patience. Onto Ruby Tandoh’s cookbook and a recipe for Basic Sweet Dough Buns. Apron on and Netflix at the ready .

Ruby doesn’t use a mixer for her dough, so I’m somewhat merging the two recipes i have and using Hollywood’s techniques for mixing with the basic sweet dough, brioche has a lot if butter so it requires around half an hour of mixing, I’m going for roughly fifteen minutes.

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I did not get into a doughy mess! The mixer did its work. Ruby  offers some really great tips on shaping buns (at this point I’m imaging so many puns from Mel and sue). Now for a second prove and then into the oven.

After the obligatory taste test, I decided to make them iced buns. Adding just a little vanilla extract I made the icing nice and thick. Here’s the finished result:

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Biscuits Week

Episode two  of The Great British Bake Off inspired me to make biscuits! It was my plan to recreate the technical challenge, Viennese Whirls. However, I was sadly lacking in cornflour.   So, onto iced biscuits. I’d forgotten how outrageously simple biscuits were to make.  Following a recipe from The Primrose Bakery Book ,  I created scrummy iced biscuits. If you’re following the recipe here, the ingredients call for vanilla essence but it’s omitted from the recipe.   I added it with the egg.

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It was a little tricky to tell when they were done, I used muscovado sugar instead of golden caster so they were already pretty dark.

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As there wasn’t anything particularly technical about the biscuits I tried my hand at icing. I iced a circle with a thicker consistency, waited for it to set, then filled it in with thinner icing.

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Next time I’ll ice the biscuits right to the edge, as I think it gives them a nicer finish. I need to get myself a circle cutter, a glass just doesn’t work all that well.

Looking forward to bread week tonight!

This Cake is Damn Good

My last post was about taking inspiration from Great British Bake Off.This week’s inspiration came in the form of Earl Grey and lemon drizzle loaf cake, originally it was going to be lady grey because I prefer the flavour but  it turns out I don’t have any so I went for the good old Earl instead. I essentially followed Urvashi Roe’s recipe, but used a normal loaf tin, instead of mini loaf cases. Unbeknownst to me she was in series two of GBBO.

My first stumbling block was not actually reading the recipe properly. I managed to get a nasty skin on top of the milk. After a mild anxiety attack,  I threw away the first lot, read the recipe and started again!

The mixture was exceptionally light and fluffy with  only a small amount of tea-infused milk.

A lovely cup of tea is the perfect accompaniment.

 

Baking and Birthdays

My blogging needs a bit of a kick up the bum. Depression and anxiety have stilled my fingers but I might just be coming out the other end now.

A lot of my recent posts have been about my newest hobby, dressmaking. Although I’ll still be sewing away in the background, I’m going to start concentrating on Baking again. No prizes for guessing what brought on this change…

 

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Bake Off is Back

 

There are a plethora of great recipes on the GBBO website. However, my plan is to  bake my version of a challenge each week.  I Love lemon drizzle cake! my version will be somewhat inspired by my favourite cupcake recipe from Ruby Tandoh’s cookbook Crumb:

Chamomile and Vanilla Cupcakes

I made a load for my little (not so little anymore) sister’s fourteenth birthday. What really makes these treats special is the infusion of chamomile through a melted butter and milk mixture.

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My lil’ sister and niece practically share a birthday, only two days apart. We celebrated a fourteenth birthday and a first.  It was lovely if a little overwhelming. There were babies literally everywhere.

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We managed to light the sparkler after a few false starts!

 

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And just to embarrass my little sister in true big sister form. Here she is enjoying my niece’s present!

 

My idea for drizzle cake is Lady Grey and Lemon. Recipes are normally my best friend and all things go to hell when I don’t follow them. I’ll have to try to merge recipes for this experiment. but first a google search.

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Okay, so it already exists…in abundance. That makes things easier.  I might go for the Mini Loaf Cakes recipe, using Lady Grey instead of Earl as it’s got a softer flavour. Perhaps adding poppy seeds just to make things different.

Watch this space. x

My Makes…

Things are not perfect. However, I am now able to gather enough focus and energy to write this post. Last time I wrote about obsessively making things in order to avoid negative thoughts. I’m not quite comfortable having photos taken, that will have to wait for later posts.

This is the first time I ever worked with viscose. My advice. Start simple. Although this top is not complex there are a few fiddly bits, such as the collar and pocket, which were a nightmare with the slippery fabric.  It didn’t help that I decided to add cotton to the collar. although it added stability, it was difficult to piece the cotton and viscose together.

I made sleep shorts next, using a pattern from one of the Crafty Sew & So Workshops. I managed to complete the shorts in less than four hours. Essentially, I copied a pair of Pj bottoms I brought from gap a few  years ago. The little tab and button create a nice cuff.

I was on a roll. Having a bit of viscose left over I made the shorts from Tilly and the Buttons Fifi set. they came together in no time, so I added a tiny pompom trim.The band was so thin, apply the trim probably took more time than making the shorts.

My next project is the Alder Dress from Grainline. I’m really looking forward to using the ditsy flower print. Just to add a bit of interest, and because I’m falling in love with viscose, I will make the yoke out of a dark navy viscose.

 

 

I’m exhausted now. Time to crawl under a blanket and ignore the world.

 

 

An Illusion Of Control

I’m shutting myself off again. Pushing through days, focusing on minutia and ignoring my emotions. There are many ways in which I isolate myself.  Over the past couple day’s my method has been sewing. I finished a tricky viscose top and made two pairs of sleep shorts. These projects have filled my mind, taken focus and concentration. I regain the illusion of control.

Issues arise when the project is complete. All those negative thoughts and feelings crash down on me. I grasp out for something else. Anything to stop the sick twisting of my gut. I pick up another project. All is well until fatigue takes me. I fall, crumpled in a corner, alone, crying.

It’s my friends birthday coming up at the end of the month. I’m too scared to say I’m not well enough to go. I know if I wait I will feel worse.I’m scared she’ll think me callous or uncaring.

My old work colleagues are trying to arrange a reunion. I cannot reply to any messages. I was at my lowest point when I worked with them. An unexplainable fear overwhelms me each time the memories leak into the present.

My husband suggested I should write a list of things I did today as that can often help put things into perspective.

  • Pilates
  • Cup of tea with ladies after pilates
  • Tidied back bedroom
  • Made Tilly and the Buttons Fifi bottoms in viscose

It doesn’t look particularly impressive, though the shorts took me about four and a half hours and I added cute little pompom trim to the hem. I don’t have the energy to share pictures right now. I don’t even feel particularly happy with having completed them, just desperate to do something else to regain that numbness.

I hope soon that I will feel in moderation. Then I can post about all the wonderful things I’ve created. I can explain how it was all just a blip and my life is a bunch of fucking roses (sorry mum).

Wish me luck, or health, or whatever you think will help.

Featured Image by one of my favourite artists, Chiara Bautista

Mollie Makes And Experimenting With Patterns​

Yesterday I ran a charity day for Wrap Pyjama Fairies. Together with managed to make eight pairs of pyjamas for kids who are having treatment in hospital. It was fantastic but absolutely manic!  The heat did not help!

Here we all are after a very busy, fun, day! If you want to find out more check out Crafty Sew & So’s blog.

Today I made the free gift from Mollie Makes and paired it with a white cotton tank top I made a couple of days ago.

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I only had a metre of fabric and using the tiny pocket tank pattern from Grainline needs a bit over a metre. I decided to experiment. I couldn’t fit the back piece on the fold so cut two individual pieces. To add the inch or so to the back, I used one of my husband’s old shirts. I cut a straight strip and attached the raw edges before doing anything else.

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Rekindling My Relation With Food

 Having suffered from an eating disorder, food preparation has been a fine balancing act. When I was in early recovery I had the same meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day.  This took away any choice and stress around meal time. I knew exactly what I was eating every day. It was also useful to keep weight gain consistent. It’s only recently I’ve begun to grow bored of the same foods. I’m taking back control of the kitchen and making my own food! I used to love cooking and it’s great to get back to it. I’ve found a couple of great meals so far. I thought I’d share them with you.

Yesterday’s dish was a Red onion and cheese Omelette from Sophie Dahls Cookbook   Voluptuous Delights. I managed to get mine for free from old library stock!

I’m a fan of light meals and I always have been. I also love a meal which you can whip up in quickly and doesn’t involve much preparation. This beauty takes ten minutes at the most.

Ingredients

  • ½ a small red onion
  • About 2tbsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g/2oz of Red Leicester cheese (any good sharp, hard cheddar like Monterey Jack will do as an alternative)

Method

  1. Roughly chop the onion. On a low flame, heat 1tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. I use a small fat pan as I like my omelettes tidy and plump. Gently fry the onion, letting the edges brown but making sure the middle stays softly purple. This should take about 5 mins. When it looks to your liking, take it out and reserve on the side. Remove any crispy bits from the pan.
  2. Beat the eggs and season.
  3. On a low heat again, heat a bit of olive oil in your frying pan and add the eggs. Let them settle for 30 seconds.
    Either grate or break the cheese up into rough chunks and put it in the setting omelette. As it melts, pour in your onions and gently fold the omelette in half with a spatula. Depending on how done you like your omelette to be, you can then fry the other side. I like mine very slightly oozing.

This recipe is taken from Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights, published by Harper Collins

Today’s lunch, of Tomato Bruschetta, was from a far less glamorous  cookbook, though it is a solid favourite of mine, The Hungry Students Vegetarian Cookbook. Here’s my version of the recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 baby plum tomatoes (the original recipe uses cherry)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 slices of tiger bread (any nice will do)
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • Dried basil (Fresh basil would probably be better but I  didn’t have any)
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1.  Chop the tomatoes  into small pieces. Place in a small bowl and add the olive oil, salt, pepper and dried basil (if you’re using fresh, add this at the end). Mix it all together.
  2. Toast the bread, I used my griddle, as it leaves the centre nice and soft. Now use the garlic clove  to essentially butter one side of the toast. Don’t put too much on, I learned it’s spreading even if you can’t see it.
  3. Tip the tomato mixture onto the toast. Now dig in!

I’m looking forward to cooking more meals over the week!

Wish me Luck  x

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