Category Archives: good food

Happy Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving

It’s Canadian Thanksgiving today and I am feeling thankful for many things.

Walking in the sunshine

Sewing with colourful fabrics

Eating good food

Family, friends, and you, dear readers.

It’s been a beautiful day, warm sun, cool air, leaves turning, squirrels gathering.

Dinner was fairly simple, just stuffed portobellos and roasted vegetables. The potatoes came from our garden and the purple cauliflower, carrots and Brussels sprouts came from the farmers market. We had apple crumble made with local Mac apples.

I’ve been sewing small drawstring bags with cottons from the stash. I need 24 small ones for my self-created yarn Advent calendar plus a larger one for the new knitting needle set which I’ll open on December 25th.

I had a production line going this afternoon but had to stop to cook dinner. Now that’s out of the way, I can get back to it.

My knitting and crochet WIPs haven’t changed much.

And I’m really enjoying this new tea from my favourite tea shop, with frothy soy milk and maple syrup.

I hope you all have a great week.

Nothing says spring like…

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…bunnies, lakeside walks in the sunshine and hot cross buns!

I made a fun gift for a co-worker. My Ravelry project page is here if you’d like to check out the details and pattern. It’s a cute pattern that I found on Ravelry, of course.

Earlier in the week I met a friend for a walk and tested out the photo capabilities of my new phone.

It was a beautiful day though the wind was really cold. Today I went for another walk and the temperature was in the double digits and I was warm in just a T shirt.

As Easter is imminent I just had to make some hot cross buns though mine don’t have crosses. I completely forgot to add them just before baking. It’s not the first time I’ve done that! Still, they taste wonderful. I used a vegan oil-free recipe from here.

I confess to having scoffed a couple when I returned from my walk and now I just feel sleepy, but I’m cooking dinner so I’m having to keep my wits about me!

I hope your week is going well. I’m working the next two days (yes, I work on Good Friday but at least I get stat pay) and then I have the weekend off.

Daylight savings

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I saw a humorous meme on FB earlier. Something about the day after the clocks “springing forward” an hour being National Napping Day.

I must confess to being rather sleepy this afternoon. Saturday evening I went to bed extra early because I had work at 9.30am Sunday. But Sunday evening I stayed up late watching The Coroner on Netflix and then slept in this morning.

After a slow start to the day, I baked a couple of fruit cakes (one for us, and a GF one for a coworker) and while they were cooling I went for a 45 minute walk in the sunshine.

Scoffing a large piece of cake may have contributed to the sleepiness!

I never tire of the views around here.

Rather than buy a birthday card for my great-niece I made this from a piece of scrappy fabric I made a while back when experimenting with scraps and stitches.

I used Heat ‘n Bond to fuse it to a plain backing, pinked the edges, and stitched in a piece of paper for the handwritten message.

Now I just need to mail it off with her gifts.

Well, I said I was sleepy and obviously a little brain-dead because I just published this prematurely. Sorry if you get two versions in your inbox.

Rainbows and chocolate

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Sounds too good to be true, eh!

But seriously, I have been loving looking at all the small balls of colourful scrap yarn in my stash. All the bits are stuffed into one of those Wool Warehouse organza bags so I can see what’s in there. I started down the rabbithole of a pattern search on Ravelry using only the search term “rainbow” and had lots of fun. Before I show you what I made, I have to tell you about these Rainbow Buddies which are so cute. It’s apparently a crochet-along but it doesn’t seem to be accompanied by any sort of group chat anywhere. It’s only free during February, and the first two parts have already been published. The second two parts are coming soon. I have already downloaded and printed out the first two weeks’ worth of instructions. No affiliation – just thought you might be interested.

This is what I made after sorting out the standard rainbow colours from the rest of the scraps.

The pattern is called Rainbow Slipper Socks and it’s on a blog here. The pattern calls for DK doubled, but I used worsted weight. The cream is an old skein of Bernat Berella 4 (in fact, I had to start a second ball right near the end). The bright colours are random brands from the stash.

It’s very simple, all half double crochet (half treble UK). You start at the toes and work up, so it’s easy to adjust the fit and try on as you go. She has you decrease a lot at the beginning of the leg, but I only did two decrease rounds there because they are more slippers than socks and I didn’t want to struggle to get my feet into them. And then it’s up to you how long you make the leg – mine have cuffs. The mystery of stash and scraps means that my organza bag seems no emptier than before!!

It’s Family Day here in BC. The five of us used to spend it snowboarding/skiing but considering I broke my wrist spectacularly back in 2018 (link to the day I had my dressing off after surgery – don’t look if you’re squeamish) on Family Day, I have been too chicken to get on a snowboard since. And times change, and youngest son is working today, and the only reason I’m not working is that I remembered to book the day off in advance. So we have no special plans.

And of course yesterday was Valentine’s Day and there were no special plans for that either. We don’t ‘do’ Hallmark holidays however I did feel that a bit of chocolate wouldn’t go amiss. So even though I’d been at work all day, and the guys had made pizza, I whipped up a chocolate cake for dessert.

I have no idea where I got this recipe originally. It’s been in my handwritten cookbook for years. It’s rich and decadent and vegan, and you don’t need to mess about with egg replacers. It might even work as a gluten-free cake with something like Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 All Purpose GF Flour, but I haven’t tried it.

Batter – 1 2/3 cups sugar (I use coconut), 2 1/2 cups flour (wholewheat), 1/2 cup oat flour (I use my Vitamix’s dry jug to grind some rolled oats), 2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp or less salt, 2/3 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 cup chocolate chips (I use Costco’s Kirkland chips which happen to be dairy free), 1 cup hot coffee (I use instant – one mug of coffee will be enough for this plus the frosting), 1 cup coconut milk (the canned kind, one can will be enough for the batter and the frosting), 2 tblsp apple cider vinegar, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, 3/4 cup vegan butter (eg, Earth Balance or Melt).

Frosting – 1 1/2 cups choc chips, 1/4 cup coffee, 1/8 cup hot water, 1/4 cup coconut milk, 2oz silken tofu (about 2 tblsp)

Mix sugar, flour, oat flour, baking soda and salt in one bowl. In second bowl, mix cocoa powder, choc chips and hot coffee. In a third bowl, mix coconut milk, vinegar, vanilla. Melt ‘butter’ and add to coconut milk mixture. Combine all into one bowl, pour into two 8″ sandwich tins lined with circles of parchment paper and oiled. Bake at 350 – 375F for 25 – 30 mins (my oven runs cool, I usually go for a higher temp) until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to partly cool before turning out. While cakes are cooling, make frosting. Melt choc chips (I do this in a bowl over a pan of hot water). Add coffee, water and coconut milk. Pour into blender with tofu, blend until smooth, chill in fridge 1 1/2 hours. Whisk with electric beaters and use. I defrosted some frozen berry mix and added them in the middle plus a few on top.

It really is rich and you probably won’t be able to eat more than one slice at a sitting. It’s good for a special occasion.

It didn’t cut very photogenically – it crumbled – but it tasted good!

Boxing Day

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And in the blink of an eye, Christmas is over!

After our big lunch out on Sunday, we had a very simple dinner on Monday. Tuesday was Christmas Eve and I had decided that that was going to be our main Christmas meal. So I cooked a lentil chestnut loaf, potatoes oreganata (sliced potatoes with oregano, sundried tomatoes and olives) and lots of roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower! We had apple crumble for dessert with vegan ice cream. And then the boys, Tai Chi Man and I played Cards Against Humanity. I know, very non-PC, but very funny, once you get over the fact you’re all mentioning body parts and unnatural acts in front of your parents/children. Our children ARE in their 20s now!!

Christmas Day was lovely and easy. I rustled up some blueberry pancakes around lunchtime, of which most of us partook. And Tai Chi Man and I went out for a neighbourhood walk in the afternoon. It’s been very mild around here, hovering around zero for some time, and there’s snow on the ground but no new precipitation for a few days. Dinner was equally simple, as I made a large fruit salad, which we ate with more vegan ice cream, and there was fruit cake for those who wanted it.

I baked a gluten free mince tart in the evening as I had a friend coming over for tea the next day. It seemed to work out okay.

And Boxing Day…another day at home. My friend came over for a cuppa and a piece of aforesaid mince tart, which was nice. I did a bit of tidying up, and some sewing on another project bag (#11 in the series). Dinner was shepherd’s pie and salad.

With the end of the year approaching, I am aware of my need to review. And the big pile of WIPs in the living room was begging for attention. So today I picked up the crochet granny blanket and added a couple of rounds of black and called it done. I needed a Finished Object and this is about 700 grams out of the stash. YAY!

It’s about 41″ square, and a good size for a lap blanket.

The centre is mostly different colours from the outer rounds because they were small scraps of yarn which I had to use up early or they wouldn’t have been enough to complete a full round. For the first time, I switched direction each round to avoid the skewing that happens in the centre of large grannies, and it worked well.

Now I am at the end of a five day stretch of no shifts, and I have work tomorrow. New sale, so my brain will have to be on full alert! And then Saturday, lots more cooking, as we’re hosting a potluck. Whew!

Warm fuzzy weekend

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A whole weekend off – what fun! Saturday evening we had a potluck at a friend’s house with a group of lovely people. SO much food, we were nearly bursting! And of course we played our traditional Mexican Train Dominoes. Awesome!

My contribution to the food was apple pie and cashew-based vanilla ice cream (the big pie in foreground was the one I took with me, the smaller one and the jam tart made from the leftover pastry were left at home for the boys to eat). I rarely make pastry these days because of the fat content but OMG it came out so well – I used Melt Buttery Sticks for the first time.

This morning there was a vegan market downtown so we splurged on vegan baked treats, which we shared with the boys because they were far too rich for just two people to eat. We also bought some cool hand-made soaps again, and I also finally bought myself a vegan T shirt. Guess I need to get a photo of that sometime.

Afterwards it was tea at our favourite tea shop and a bit of crochet. I have made three of these gnomes (Gnomes of the Gnorth) now. Two of them were made following the pattern pretty closely, one wasn’t, and I shouldn’t have gone ‘off piste’ because I don’t like my version as much (the one with the white beard).

The pattern is on a blog, Mr Micawber’s Recipe for Happiness, and the designer is Sue Perez whose Ravelry name is MrsMicawber.

I have two new dishcloths made from a random ball of dishcloth cotton that I acquired recently. It never went into stash – I just used it up quickly, making up different stitch patterns as I went.

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And there has been sewing. Between tea in town and going to the gym, I spent a couple of hours making this bag.

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It was made with scraps left over from the snowman quilt/bag I made recently, with a lining from some other stash cotton. I think I need to buy a new walking foot – the one I have keeps slipping, the screw holding it on the machine is loosening so it moves as I sew (and I break needles as a result) and the whole thing is either too loose or too tight.

I am pretty happy with the bag, except for a little uneven quilting across the front. This is the same video tutorial as the other bag, and I pieced a patchwork section just like the original in the video. It’s a good way to use up small pieces.

After the gym I went out for a meal with friends, so all in all it was a very calorific weekend and I should probably not eat anything for the next five days! Yeah, right!!

 

Sunday comforts

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Saturday was a work day, with an incredible amount of rain. It was so dark outside the store, it felt like a really long day, because it felt later than it actually was.

Today it looked like it was going to be another wet and windy day, but the sun came out and it ended up being bright most of the day, which was lovely. I had a bit of a lie in, and called my mum and sister on Facetime. Tai Chi Man and I went out for a cuppa at our favourite tea shop, and of course I took some knitting.

This afternoon, we did some shopping at our favourite health food store (oops, some special Christmassy chocolate jumped into my basket, Zazubean’s Dasher (white vegan chocolate with cranberries and cocoa nibs OMG) and also I found an essential oil diffuser on clearance. I’ve been wanting one of those for ages so I snatched it up. I have it going right now with orange and lemon oils in it. Smells divine!

Before the sun set and we got too relaxed, we went off to the gym for a 45 minute workout. I did treadmill and legs today. I’m being careful  not to overdo things with the left shoulder, for which I’m getting physio, and for which I have special daily exercises.

Once we’d had dinner, it was time to make mincemeat. Mince pies, aaaaah, one of my favourite things about December. Whether we’re celebrating the Solstice, Christmas or whatever, it’s just not the same without mince pies. I like to make my own, which means it’s vegan and fat-free. No need for suet. I can’t remember where I found this recipe, but I’ve been using it for years.

I’ll give you the recipe too in case you want to try it out. It’s supposed to sit in airtight jars in the fridge for 4 – 6 weeks. When you fancy a nice mince pie, you can whip up a batch of pastry (or buy it frozen if that’s what you prefer) and make little tarts, with or without lids, or large ones.

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I like to use a mixture of dried fruit. This is a combination of raisins, golden raisins, cranberries and currants.

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Then you add in your sugar and spices (I used a combination of organic sugar and coconut sugar, plus cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice).

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And then you add your wet ingredients – lemon juice, apples and apple juice. If you have organic lemons with no icky coating, you can put in the zest as well. Give it a good stir, leave it covered in the fridge overnight, stir it up again, and then put it into airtight jars. I use mason jars with the two part lids, but you don’t can it, you just put the jars into the fridge and forget about them until Christmas.

This quantity makes about four medium mason jars full. But this year I doubled the quantity as I may give some away to friends.

Let me know if you try it out.

Vegan Mincemeat Recipe

6 cups mixed dried fruit (eg currants, raisins, golden raisins, sultanas, cranberries)

1lb (about 4, depending on size) chopped apples

2.5 cups sugar (ideally not bleached white sugar)

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

juice of 2 lemons

¾ cup fruit juice

Mix all in large bowl, leave covered overnight in fridge. The next day, mix it again, pack into sterilised jars with airtight lids. Leave in fridge 4 – 6 weeks.

 

Yarndale and other holiday fun

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Yarndale and other holiday fun

I have been on holiday! I only had my old iPad Mini with me, and no phone, so I was only spending minimal amounts of time on t’internet, hence the gap between blog posts.

I had a lovely time. It was quite the whirlwind – the itinerary involved flying from Canada to London, England, driving down to see my cousins on the south coast, driving up to Yorkshire to spend a few days enjoying the area, including Yarndale, driving back to London, flying over to Jersey, a few days with the close family, then flying back to London, then flying home.

Kudos to Tai Chi Man who drove about 750 miles while we were in England. And motorway driving is NOT fun.

Highlights of the trip:

Yarndale, of course…

I was excited to meet Kathryn from CrafternoonTreats. We had been in touch prior to the day, because I have been helping to moderate her Ravelry group for a long time now and I just had to make sure we met up. She was a vendor, so she couldn’t avoid me, LOL. All of the yarn she dyes is wool, but knowing I am vegan she and her friend Helen had dyed up some natural coloured Stylecraft Classique Cotton with Procion dyes as a gift. So lovely!

Sorry, my photos aren’t great. iPad in poor light.

A few other souvenirs…

Being vegan helps me be disciplined in my yarn buying! Most of the yarn on sale at Yarndale is wool. So all I bought was this Louisa Harding Giardino (though it was pretty expensive)! And of course I had to get a Yarndale bag.

I was fan-girly about Lucy from Attic24, whose blog I have been reading for years. She is one of the organisers. I saw her, but didn’t talk to her, in the Knit ‘n Natter room. And I also spotted Tatsiana from Lilla Bjorn in the Scheepjes booth.

My travel knitting was a simple pattern from DROPS called Rascal. A two-row pattern repeat, it was just knitting back and forth until I felt the shawl was big enough. And I wanted to give it to my sister when it was done, so I had to finish it before I came home.

I forgot to get daylight shots before giving it away.

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It’s made with Lion Brand Mandala in Phoenix.

Other notable mentions…

Met up with my English cousins (one I haven’t seen since 1988) for a lovely day of hiking and lunching and catching up.

Took the tube around London, including Camden Market, Regent’s Park and Tower Bridge. Went up inside the bridge and got a funny feeling in my tummy looking down through the glass floor.

Seven hour drive north to Ilkley in Yorkshire where we had a lovely cosy Airbnb. Hiked around Bolton Abbey, saw some of the cycling world championships, got absolutely soaked on a three hour hike up on Ilkley  Moor. After Yarndale, a 5.75 hour drive back south to Gatwick airport.

The island of Jersey in the Channel Islands (close to France) is where most of our family lives and I stayed with my mum and Tai Chi Man stayed with his dad. That gave us the most time with our respective parents. And one day was spent almost entirely with my sister, including lunch at a vegan restaurant and a walk on the beach with her dog.

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A successful trip, all went to plan, with the only travel hiccup being a three hour delay getting out of Jersey. But as we had split up the three flights home with a stay at a Heathrow hotel this time it wasn’t a problem.

We were happy to see so many vegan options in many places. Supermarkets and restaurants are now offering so much more than they used to, so finding food is easier than it ever was. We still mostly self-cater when travelling, but it’s good to know we won’t starve if we have to rely on outside sources. There was a lovely cafe in Ilkley called The Veggie, the Sinful Vegan in Jersey, tons of vegan places in Camden Market, and I can’t forget Ransom’s Garden Centre in Jersey which has so many vegan mains and desserts that it’s hard to choose. (I had the coffee walnut cake, which was so rich I couldn’t finish it all in one go and had to save some for the evening.)

So we’re back to our regular scheduled programming. We arrived home Saturday evening, and Tai Chi Man had Sunday in which to recover somewhat from the jetlag and was back to work Monday. Thankfully my schedule meant that I am not back to work until tomorrow, Wednesday, so I’ve had time to blitz the house and do some grocery shopping. I haven’t quite had the energy to get to the gym yet though.

I’m back to crocheting the Party Cardi (a video tutorial on The Secret Yarnery’s YouTube channel) now that I have had a delivery of two more cakes of yarn. My stashbusting for September was pathetic, with the only outage being some tiny pumpkins, and then of course the incoming yarn from Yarndale. However I have blanket plans, because there’s nothing better than a blanket project when the weather gets cold. What are your favourite blanket patterns? I have some Red Heart With Love (which will probably become a giant granny square) but also a tonne of random worsted and DK to use up. I need ideas!

 

I’m all about the green

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I have never paid much attention to St Patrick’s Day, and that’s not why I dyed  my hair green today, however I’m sure lots of people will assume that’s why I did it! From the above angle, it looks like I dyed the lot, but the hair around the sides and back of my neck is actually my natural colour, as are the roots. It’s just a bit of fun, though tonight I booked myself in for my very first float tank experience in a couple of days time, which means I am going to have to shampoo my hair a couple of times this weekend so that I don’t “bleed” green into their Epsom salts!

I have always been wary of this “floating” lark, though Tai Chi Man loves it. The thought of lying in a strong concentration of Epsom salts-filled water at blood heat, in the dark and possibly an enclosed space, and the fact that I can’t crochet while I’m in there (!) has combined to put me off. However I have been experiencing some really tense muscles in my neck, shoulders and back, and at a friend’s suggestion have decided to just go for it.

I shall report back afterwards.

Today was nigh on perfect. I had a good workout at the gym – 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by about 40 minutes of weight training. I was drenched by the end; the post-workout shower is one of the best feelings in the world. I made another shopping bag like the one I showed you last time, though this one used an all-purpose polyester thread that behaved itself and the result was much nicer, good enough to take to work to put on show. I also sewed up a set of 18 napkins for a friend. When I saw this fabric at work, it was the end of a bolt, and I just had to bring it home. I knew it had to be napkins and I knew who I wanted to make them for.

Cool, huh!

I cut 12.5″ squares with one of my quilting rulers and after hemming the napkins are around 11″ square. You can see why I thought this was perfect fabric for this project, eh.

Dinner tonight was one that always gets eaten with gusto. I made black bean and sweetcorn burgers, which we had with salsa and the home-made buns I made last Monday and froze. They were toasted to make them more interesting, and I also added in some chipotle “cheese” slices that I made from a recipe in Vegan 100 by Gaz Oakley. That spiced them up a lot. Even ds1, who seems to add hot sauce to everything, found them spicy, so that’s saying something! I did suffer “sticker-shock” at the price of the agar powder that I bought to make this recipe, however. The bulk store had it in 50 gram bags only and they were over $7! Ouch!!

Looking forward to a weekend with no work, just yoga on Saturday, and a birthday party to attend, gym on Sunday, and a float. What are you doing this weekend?

 

 

WIP: Key Largo Scarf

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How’s your week going? Mine has been quite full, and I haven’t been able to get to the gym or a yoga class, which is a little annoying (though my lazy side is okay with it). Today the temperature crept up above freezing to about 7 Celsius, which felt almost warm! We are supposed to have double digits soon – gosh, what a treat!!

There’s been a busy weekend of work, a ‘catching up with stuff at home’ day (while feeling overtired from a combination of the clocks going forward, an early morning, a late night, and a lack of caffeine), more work shifts, grocery shopping, cleaning, bread baking…

This is what my kitchen looked like Monday evening before I crashed out at 9.30.

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This is the product of three large bowls of bread dough, each batch containing 12 cups of flour. Three loaves, 16 hot dog buns, 16 hamburger buns, all rising while the oven heated up. I used to make bread all the time but these days I tend to buy the Silver Hills organic sprouted wheat bread from Costco (it’s about half the price there) and stock the freezer. It makes it easy to grab another sliced loaf when you need it, and it thaws quickly or you can toast it. However I needed the buns for a couple of specific meals this week, and we were on our last loaf of Silver Hills.

As promised, I frogged the progress on the Key Largo Lace Wrap and started again with a cake of Lion Brand Mandala in the colourway Gnome. It’s a lovely bright rainbow of a cake – I have no idea who this will be for when it’s done, but I am enjoying the colour progression.

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It started a little slowly as I reacquainted myself with the pattern…

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And it grew…

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And grew some more…

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With DK yarn, a 5mm hook, a scarf width rather than a wrap, and only 10 pattern repeats across the row, it’s growing quickly. Very satisfying! I took this photo at a coffee shop today where my friend and I will be meeting most Thursdays, since she started a knitting group there. I have the four-row pattern memorised now so I don’t even have to get the pattern out of the bag any more.

My plan was to have a gym and sewing day tomorrow, Friday, but I made a start on my intended projects tonight.

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It’s not very sexy but it is functional – a non-slip mat that goes underneath a sewing machine foot pedal. I have to confess, the one I made for myself is not working too well on the carpet, so I’m thinking it would be better on a hard floor. I used a Crafty Gemini tutorial. On this first attempt, I applied the bias binding as I would normally, by opening it out and sewing it on then flipping it to the other side and sewing again. A far-from-perfect result, which is irritating as my intention is to take this one to work to go on the DIY table for fabric shoppers to see. The second one, I attached the binding like Vanessa does in the video, but it was even messier so I am keeping the second one for myself.

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I also made this shopping bag from some decor fabric from work. It was on clearance at $5 a metre, and is a heavy cotton fabric. I wrote down the steps to make it as I went, as I’m thinking this will also make a good display item at the store, but I wasn’t too happy with the stitching. I used a strong thread that’s slightly thicker than the all-purpose stuff, and even though I adjusted the thread AND bobbin tension the bobbin thread was loosey-goosey! Still, it’s usable, and pretty, and I will make another with regular thread in the hope that it will be more presentable, should people look closely at my stitching.

Yes, embracing the imperfections of life here today, that’s me! My other plans include some napkins for a friend, and another apron.

Good night from my windy part of the world (the windchimes are going nuts again). Enjoy your Friday and your weekend.