Monday, April 13, 2015

Biscuits, tea buns, whatever you call them, these are good

Yogurt tea buns with raisins.
Now that spring is here, I like to make something a little lighter for Sunday morning breakfast. It is now the only day when the whole family is home.
These tea buns go together quickly, and you can add in a couple of handfuls of any dried fruit or sharp cheddar cheese.
I  serve them warm. with butter, fresh fruit and a nice hot cup of tea. They are also pretty good when they are cold.
These buns, made with cheese, are my go-to side when there's soup or chili in the slow cooker for a rainy night supper.

Yogurt Tea Buns (makes one dozen mid-sized buns)

2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup dried fruit (raisins, blueberries, chopped cherries or cranberries)*

1 cup plain (1 or 2 per cent) yogurt

*for cheese tea buns, add 1 1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Use a pastry cutter to blend in butter or margarine until the flour looks like damp sand.
Add fruit (or cheese).
Add yogurt to the flour mixture. I add the yogurt with my hand. This way, I can feel the very moment the dough comes together better. (Tea buns get tough at this stage if they are over mixed.)
When the dough has come together, pat it into a sort of rustic round on a well-floured surface. Use a round biscuit cutter to cut out  the tea buns. The first pass will likely produce about 6 buns, gather the dough together again, pat it down and cut out the remaining buns. Placing them on a parchment lined cookie sheet as soon as each one is cut out.
There will be an ugly little one at the end of the process. (My kids have actually fought over who gets the ugly bun -- I kid you not)
Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm, store left overs (!?) in a zippered plastic bag. The buns are best eaten within two days.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How can it be March already?

My poor, neglected blog.
I feel terrible. I have been ignoring it for many, many weeks.
It's not intentional. It's life.
At Christmas, we were all dealing with some horrible, evil virus. It ruined our celebrations, and it sidelined virtually all handcrafting, sewing, and the like. It was all I could do to sit up and be present at Christmas dinner -- and it was our hosting year.
Mostly, I just sat at the table, pushed the turkey dinner around, and waited until it was time for everyone to leave so that I could go back to bed where my Vapo-Rub and tissues awaited.
Oh, it was miserable.
I have been working away on many projects for
For next month's posts, I am going to be working on a project that will mostly hand quilting, embroidery and embellishment.
A sneaky peek of the jewellery clutch
I just finished a jewellery clutch project for A Needle Pulling Thread's Summer issue. It was a lot of fun to do. I can't really show it off, but I can share a photo of the raw materials. Isn't that fabric lovely?
In other news, yesterday was my birthday. My crafty pals on the Facebook Page, The Craft Cafe, have created a birthday block swap. Over the course of the year, we make each other 12 inch blocks sent in the month of our birthday, in our preferred colours. I picked reds/creams.
Yesterday, I received some lovely parcels from Norway, Italy and the UK.
Sure, the Internet can sometimes do harm, but it can also connect us in beautiful ways. So far, I have churned out four blocks for birthday girls, and sent them off to their forever homes. I can't wait to see how the finished quilts look. Here are the block that have arrived so far:
From Christine

From Annabella

From Janne

From Fiona

From Jill

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Father Christmas at our house!

Preparing the applique pieces.
Father Christmas and his tree.
For the past three weeks, I have been creating the Father Christmas from Handmade and Happy, the new Tilda book by Tone Finnanger.
Today, I finally finished him.
I use silk thread to do the applique.
I am very pleased with myself -- and him. This is the first project I have been able to do using Tilda fabrics I was able to purchase in Canada at Evelyn's/The Quilt Store in Newmarket ON. (not quite 25 minutes north of me).
I thought I would share some of the WIP photos, as well as the finished Father Christmas.

This is an excessively labour intensive project, but it's just the sort of thing I like to tackle.

This part doll/part quilt.
It is designed to hang, not sit.
At the moment, he is hanging out on the stairs with the garland and the Van Craig dancing girl ornaments. The jolly old elf seems quite content with the company. I hope Mrs. Claus doesn't get wind of this.

This little bird is so sweet. It took forever!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Making friends at the Creativ Festival this weekend

Percy, the pentagon snow person, is getting ready for his close up this weekend
This weekend, I will be back at the Creativ Festival in Toronto. I will be demonstrating how to make things from hexagons and pentagons on Saturday afternoon at A Needle Pulling Thread's booth.
I might also do some if there was any doubt.
Included in my bag of tricks will be this little snow person, created from three different sizes of stuffed balls, which were created by joining pentagons together.
I love doing these English Paper Piecing projects because once I have cut out the cardboard pieces, and trimmed the fabric to match, I can take them along where ever I go.
This particular snow person came together over a weekend at the cottage. It was weird making a snow person while sitting by the lake when the temperature was a balmy 26 degrees, but that's how I roll.
In other exciting news, my copy of Homemade and Happy, the latest Tilda book, is currently winging its way to me from the UK.
Wish me luck this weekend!
I will try to remember to post some photos of the booth, and whatever leaps into my handcrafted shopping bag.

Friday, October 3, 2014

New Russian dolls join my collection

Look! It is a sewing dolly!
Yesterday, I arrived in the town where I work way too early to go to the office.
Fortunately, it is right beside a Value Village.
Hmmm, time on my hands and a thrift store?
I spotted the Russian doll as soon as I got through the door. These dolls have appealed to me ever since I was young kid. I remember visiting the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto and seeing a display of beautiful Russian Nesting Dolls at the Arts and Crafts Building.
I was hooked by the colours and the beautiful faces.
Over the years, I have collected them when I see them. Often, they have cracked with age, or the sets are incomplete. I don't really care. I won't buy a badly cracked one, but it doesn't bother me if the set is missing a doll or two.
When I spied her, I thought the lady had become separated from her set. But, she was so lovely, I decided to buy her. She was $2. Score!
In the very next aisle, I found the tea mug.
This is why I love to haunt thrift stores. It is the true serendipity of it all. My little visit cost me $6, and yes, I arrived at work on time.
After I got home from work, I carefully removed the stickers. Why are the stickers always in such weird and wacky places?
In order to remove the sticker residue, I rubbed a little olive oil over the back of the Russian doll. I noticed there was a tiny gap in the base. I pulled the doll apart to find two little thread spools. In the centre of the spools, there is a place to store needles. Cute, clever, and destined to be for me.
Tonight, Sandra, Amanda and I are getting together to do some chatting and some sewing. Okay, mostly chatting, and I have made Rice Krispie Squares. So, we'll see how much sewing actually goes on.
I hope you are having a great day, and that the weekend ahead is filled with happy surprises and large doses of serendipity.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Happiness is Tilda so close to home

Lovely Tilda stuff near my house!
It has been a while since I did a blog post for Heaven is Handmaid. That’s because I have been caught up in doing a lot of work for QUILTsocial. And, working part-time in the evenings four days a week.
Amazingly, it has taken me a good deal of time to learn to do the whole work/life balancing act again. I am pacing myself though. For almost 15 years, I didn’t have a lot to balance outside of home –  the inside the home balancing act was quite enough.
I am slowly developing a routine, a template, a pattern -- if you will. It is much easier to work outside the house when everyone inside the house is capable of caring for themselves.
There’s big Tilda developments in York Region too. The whole Tilda range has become exclusively available at The Quilt’s in Newmarket ON Canada. And, yes, they do mail order.
Last week, the products hit the shelves. I was in heaven. As you can imagine --  I have done a bit of shopping.
In addition, Tone Finnanger’s new Tilda book, Happiness is Handmade, is slated for distribution in English at the end of November. And yes, I have it on pre-order.
A word about Evelyn’s. It is my happy place. And, no, they did not pay to me to write this.
When I first started doing more artful handmade articles, I found lovely remnants there. This allowed me to use a host of beautiful fabrics, without having to buy vast amounts of it. I became adept at remnant bin diving, along with my friend and partner in all fabric crimes, the lovely and talented Sandra of Sandra Sews fame.
Over the course of my visits, returning to the shop has been a lot like coming home. On some really rough days, I allowed myself a little trip there and always found a warm welcome and people who were interested in what I was up to now.
Betty and Boo and the teacup lady in their temporary home
Earlier this summer, I happened to overhear the news that Tilda would soon be moving into to my happy place – making it even happier.
I offered up a loan of my Tilda projects to promote the line. I am determined it must be successful here in Canada, and I must be part of the campaign. 
Currently, Mabel my sewing girl doll, Betty and Boo the Kangaroos, and a teacup lady are part of the display. I have even offered to do a Tilda figure workshop. Thank goodness they knew me ahead of time at the store – otherwise, they might think I was just a bit, you know, obsessed.
Oh wait, I am.
Okay, my lovelies, go follow those links and see what I’m nattering  on about.
Now that fall is almost here, and the cottage season has almost come to a close, I hope to have more time to pay better attention to my creative life, and that includes Heaven Is Handmaid.

Monday, July 7, 2014

I can read this like a book

I had fun with the details

In the past few weeks there have been some changes around here. The biggest one is that I am back at work as a night receptionist at a local counseling centre. It is a great job, and the people are fantastic, so I am feeling very fortunate.
But, my crafty life is suffering just a bit as I adjust to figuring out how to budget my time.
We are also traveling to the cottage on the weekends.
One of my favourite things to do lakeside is to become immersed in a good book. As an early adopter of e-readers, I really enjoy not having to pack up all my books. Electronically, I can cart around a few hundred books at a time.
The front and the hook and loop closure
There is one tiny glitch. It is not possible to read an iPad screen in bright sunshine.
So, I have a new job, so I treated myself to a new Kobo e-reader. It uses paper and ink display technology so that the screen can be read even in bright sunlight.
There were e-reader covers available. But, they were all boring. I figured I could do better.
For the most part, this was entirely true.
I decided to use some of my very precious Cath Kidston scraps, found on eBay a long time ago. I consulted some of the many tutorials available online. Filled with inspiration -- and really -- a lot of hubris, I started putting it all together. I used some graphics from The Graphics Fairy ,as well as a tiny scrap of Tilda fabric for the heart. I even stitched a bit of selvedge from Cath Kidston onto the interior pocket as an homage to my favourite shabby chic designer.
By Friday evening, I was finished. Or, so I thought.
I used the "beta version" of the e-reader cover on the weekend. I didn't like a few things about its construction. As I read through my book, I was also working out how to make revisions on the e-reader cover's original design.
An inside homage to my favourite purveyor of shabby chick
This afternoon, before I left for work, I finished the revisions.
I like the cover better now. It features sturdy interfacing, cotton duck fabric, and an interior pocket to store my library card and/or my Kobo card.
A fortunate find at the thrift store
This way, I can add to my library on the fly or at the lake.
In other news, I stopped by the Value Village near my new work place on the way home last week. I found my particular bliss: vintage buttons and a whole bag of wooden thread spools. And then, I also found a Cath Kidston zippered bag for $2.99.
Just some of the crazy things that make me happy. Hope everything is coming up roses and polka dots in your world too!