Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Best Of 2016

The lovely and very talented Cheryl @ Meadowmist Designs is hosting the Best Of 2016 linky party.


The rules are to link up a new post highlighting the best five posts from 2016.  It can be the posts that had the most views or comments, tutorials, or simply the ones which are your favourites.

I've been blogging less than a year so this is my first time and it would be easy to just pick the top five according to Blogger, but they are not necessarily my best posts, so, I had a little think and a lovely time revisiting my earlier posts and here are what I think are the best of the best.

I can't do them in reverse order as I can't make my mind up which I like best. so here they are in no particular order:

1.  2016 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop


This is the post with the most comments, 62 (on 27/12/2016), and my first ever Blog Hop.

My first blog post was in January 2016, I had no followers, and very few comments those first weeks and months, then the opportunity came along to joint the New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop hosted by Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl, Cheryl @Meadowmist Designs, and Stephanie @Late Night Quilter.  It was wonderful, not just for my blog although it did wonders for that, but it helped me integrate in quilting blog land, get to know people, and make some wonderful friends.  If you are a new quilt blogger Yvonne is launching the 2017 blog hop in early February, so watch out for it, you won't regret it.

2. Bluebell Woods


My favourite quilt of the year and 55 comments (on 27/12/2016).

I had more fun making Bluebell Woods than any other quilt I have ever made.  Bluebell just seemed to evolve on her own, and I swear she had a hand in the writing.   Me?  Tease my readers in that way?   Would I?  If you enjoy reading about her make sure you also read the last post in the series,  The Final Chapter

3. My Latest Finish


The second most viewed post at 1381 views (on 27/12/2016).

My little thread catcher, and how I made it.  I use my thread catcher every time I sew, it's so handy next to my machine and for when I do hand stitching in front of the tv.  It scrunches up when I take it to classes too.

4. 2016 Cloud9 New Block Blog Hop


My one and only block design has had 1,030 views and 54 comments (at 27/12/2016).

I give you Barcodes.  This is the first time I designed a block, and I tell you, it was a lot harder than I thought.   It was good fun though, and I ended up with a lovely cushion from the rejects in this post

5. Origami Christmas Tree Tutorial


This is my most viewed post at 1496 views (on 27/12/2016).

This is my most viewed post although it was only published in November.  In the post I tell you exactly how I made it and how to easily make your own template if you haven't got an equilateral triangle.  There again you've probably had enough of making Christmas items for now.

Sorting through all my posts for this year has been great, there are so many fantastic memories bound up in them and it was so hard to choose, I could have added a few more posts that meant something to me and I'm still not sure of a couple I left out, but it's just as well it stopped at five.

Thank you Cheryl, not only for hosting this linky party, but for hosting the New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop, the wonderful Mystery Quilt, and for everything you do for the quilting world.

Thank you everyone for your support this year, especially in the difficult times I had, I can't express how much it meant to me.  

I hope you will join me next year, I have one or two ideas buzzing around in my head and they are not all quilt related (giggles).

As this will be my last post of the year I will take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy and Peaceful New Year.

With smiles from
Kate x

Friday, 16 December 2016

Join in the Party

Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl is hosting a 2017 planning Linky Party!


So exciting, first of all I had a good think, quilting and blogging plans, resolutions and thoughts, hmmmmmmm!

I'm not even 1 year old yet and so much has already happened.  I couldn't even work the blog when I started, didn't know how to add buttons, join linky parties or anything.  I learned a lot those first few months, and every achievement I blogged about, then when I learned how to add pages I added a page where I liked up all the posts so other new bloggers could learn how to do it too.

I joined the 2016 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop, such fun, I met so many people just like myself and I made some wonderful friends.  I joined the 2016 Cloud9 New Block Blog Hop too, that was great fun.  I learned so much joining these Blog Hops, about blogging, planning quilting, you name it.

I have met so many people, wonderful people and have become part of a community and feel accepted.  So many of you have helped me, given advice, been my friend, and generally put up with my sense of humour.  You have been so encouraging and supportive and I would like to say thank you, to each and every one of you.

I lost my way the past few months, sometimes life takes over and all the plans hopes and dreams fall by the wayside for a while, but I don't give up easily so here goes for next year.

First the blogging, once a week is great for me, and then I don't bore you when progress is slow. I'm maybe thinking of adding another page, favourite recipes, not turning it into a cooking or baking blog by any means, but just adding the odd one, those I really like, not too complicated that give great results, and maybe you would like to share a favourite with me.

Take part in another blog hop, they are such fun.
 
Continue with the Meadow Mystery Quilt, keep up every month, quilt and bind it, finished.

I'm in two quilting bee's in 2017, Stash Bee in Hive 2, and Bee Inspired, just a group of  12 of us from the 2016 New Quilt Bloggers who started our own hive of bloggers, Bee Inspired.  There isn't much on our site yet and we are still in the planning stage, but feel free to click through and check out who we are.  Make sure you come back in January too when we start posting out tutorials and blocks.  I am quite good at keeping up with commitments, I hate to let anyone down, so I will do my monthly blocks for both Queens and post them off on time.

Work on one project at a time, finish it and put it to bed.  I have been a bit of a butterfly this year, I meant to get rid of some WIP's and did quite well initially, then I lost my way.  Ok it happened, 2017 will be different.  Finish two start one, that sound ok to you?  I should add the one I start has to be finished too before I start or finish anything else.  I'm going to start with Circles.

Learn how to work this new machine of mine, Baby (yes, I'm laughing).  She is so beautiful but to be honest a bit scary, I even have to press a button to raise the foot!  This is going to be one big learning curve.

Practice FMQ regularly, I buy the Craftsy classes, watch them, and don't practice, what good is that?

Finally I am having such a great time doing Cheryl's mystery quilt I will do another quilt along in 2017, but only one, unless everything else if up to date that is.

Well thats my list, it may be long but I do have a whole year to work on it.

I'm putting the button for the planning Party on my sidebar, you have until December 31st to link up and join in the fun.

With smiles from
Kate


My Christmas Gift to You......

Is a recipe, and not any recipe, a recipe for the best and most wonderful chocolate cake you will have ever tasted.  It is easy to make although you will need some sort of blender, so here it is......



Chocolate and Beetroot Fudge Cake

250 g ( 8 oz ) plain four ( no raising agent)
75 g ( 3 oz ) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
300 g ( 10 1/2 oz ) light muscovado sugar
250 g ( 8 oz ) ready cooked fresh beetroot ( not pickled ) chopped ( I just buy fresh, wash, boil in plain water until tender, then the skins just rub off under a cold tap )
300 ml ( 1/2 pint ) almond milk
100 ml ( 3 1/2 fluid oz ) sunflower oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Topping
50 g ( 2 oz ) vegan spread ( or butter )
100 g ( 4 oz ) icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
20 g ( 3/4 oz ) dairy free chocolate ( or just the chocolate you prefer)

Method
  • Pre heat oven to 180 Degrees C ( 350 degrees F ) Gas Mark 4, oil and base line a 20 cm ( 8 inch ) springform cake tin.
  • Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and bicarbonate together in a large bowl, stir in the muscavado sugar.
  • Blend the beetroot in a food processor or blender until smooth.  With the motor still running pour in the almond milk, oil, vanilla, and vinegar.
  • Pour the beetroot mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.  Pour into the prepared cake tin.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 45 - 50 minutes until just firm to the touch.  Leave to cool in the tin.


Topping
  • beat the butter until soft and gradually add the sifted icing sugar.
  • Beat in the vanilla extract.
  • Refrigerate for one hour.

Finish
  • Release the cooled cake from the tin.
  • Cover with the prepared icing.
  • Grate the chocolate and sprinkle on top of the icing.
Enjoy, and graciously accept the compliments.

Adapted from 200 Vegan Recipes Emma Frost & Nichola Palmer

My thoughts
If you do the vegan version in my view it is a 'healthy' cake.  No cholesterol, and it contains a vegetable, win win.
If you don't want to buy almond milk specially you could always use full fat milk and add a teaspoon of almond extract.
Other vegan cakes which use vinegar don't specify a particular type, so if you don't have the cider use another one.

This cake is essentially vegan depending on your choice of ingredients for the topping.  Don't let that put you off, this is a very moist and rich cake, the cake I am most often asked the recipe for.  I organise the catering for the company events, this year I have three vegans, I ended up doing the catering myself and it has let's say been challenging.  This is the desert everyone wants, the non vegan desert gets left on the plate.  You can always change the topping if you want something fancier.

Please let me know if you try it, I guarantee you won't just make it once.

With smiles from,
Kate

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

My Special Delivery

First of all thank you everyone for your so lovely comments last week.  To be honest I was moved to tears by some of them and they evoked such poignant memories.  The first time I found out I was having a baby was early December,too many years ago, my beautiful daughter was born the following July, then three years later I had a Christmas baby born December 18th.   My third baby was an Easter present born a few years later on Easter Monday.  But I was a little confused by some of your comments.

Second, I have to tell you, my special delivery....,,,


IS HERE!!!   What do you think?  Isn't she lovely, all shiny and new, my Bernina 770QE.  Like her?
She has a 10 inch throat and a 9mm stitch with.  She comes with a straight stitch plate and the Bernina Stitch Regulator.  She also has the new Bernina Hook and the bobbin in 70% bigger than normal, AND she has the Bernina Dual Feed, so I don't need a walking foot, although I do need the special feet but some including a quarter inch foot came with it.
She is a huge investment for me, Gary was so shocked when I told him how much she cost, although I got £200 off as a show special.  Would you believe he couldn't remember me talking about it?  As if I would make the decision to spend so much money without discussing it with him, even if it was my own money.  Now if we had been taking football, meditation or his upcoming book he would have been able to quote me word for word.  I didn't take the decision lightly, I thought about it and talked about it for months before, I love my Bernina 440 and I had to make sure my new machine had everything I would ever need, I think this one has.

Baby, what baby?  You wouldn't think that SmilesfromKate would tease and deliberately mislead you would you?  You surely don't think that SmilesfromKate is a BIG FAT LIAR do you???????

I'm sorry, actually I really am, I was so moved by the comments, I almost wished things were different and I wasn't misleading you.  But there again I didn't fancy going in for the title of worlds oldest Mum.  And I haven't had any fun since my Bluebell Woods posts.  Should I tell you about my best ever tease?

Hehe, it was my husbands 50th birthday coming up, he has a reputation for guessing his gifts, he does it so often and it takes all the joy and surprise out of giving, this time I wanted to surprise him. Sure enough he started quizzing me about his birthday present, I just said it was something he always wanted,  and after that I just said ‘ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies’. Something he always wanted?  He started quizzing, my son, his daughter, his parents, my sister, then went on to friends and employees. He had it in his head he was getting a dog?????? I never said dog, all I said was his present wouldn’t be at home on the morning of his birthday as I had arranged for it to be delivered. The closer is birthday got the more concerned he became, he rang the vets and checked out vaccinations for his 'puppy’.   The day before he got the vacuum out and vacuumed his office for paperclips and elastic bands, we were shocked, we didn’t know he knew what a vacuum cleaner was for.   A customer came in and he told her about his birthday the next day and how he was getting a springer spaniel bitch liver and white and he was calling her Ella, after Ella Fitzgerald. He even consented to her bringing her son at the weekend to see his puppy. Gary went to work on his birthday, I stayed home for the delivery, his parents came over for a birthday meal and arrived before him, his present was quiet in the corner. As he came to the door his Mum put her hands over his eyes so he couldn’t see, and as he came in his Dad pressed the button, and his new electronic piano played ‘Happy Birthday” to him. Oh I got him good, he couldn’t even sit on the seat and play it for twenty minutes. The thing is everyone knows what Gary is like, and EVERYONE, except the customer, was in on the secret. It was so funny. Five years ago he eventually got his liver and white springer spaniel bitch named Ella, and guess what? Ella decided she was my dog, and that was that. We now have another, Ella’s half sister Indi, black and white instead of liver and white, I chose the name but she is Gary’s dog, Ella makes sure of that!

 
Moving on I've been playing, not a lot, I haven't had much time, but just to get the feel of her first before I had a serious look at what she can do.  (Tell the truth I don't know how most of it works yet either).


So I decided to 'make' some fabric with scraps.  It was harder than it looks, there is the temptation to add bigger and bigger pieces.  This needs more thinking about.

I did start doing Decembers Meadow Mystery instructions though.


But I had a bit of trouble and this is the only one of nine I have finished.  I wasn't happy with one of my joins you see, I unpicked it and re stitched it three times until it was perfect, then I realised I had put one piece in upside down.  Time for a three minute breathing space before unpicking it and doing it again, perfect.  You would think that I'd quit while I was ahead?  No, I started on the second block, I got six stitched together.........and I'd turned one piece around 90 degrees, that's when I gave up.  I'll let you know when I have the courage to get back to it.   Sometimes it just isn't your day!

I must say though with my new machine and using the quarter inch foot and straight stitch plate which is in imperial measurements my seams have much improved in consistent accuracy.  I also did some more secret sewing, it was tricky, but it's turned out lovely, except of course I can't show you, yet!


It did need a lot of fabrics though and I had to pull a lot of stuff out before I was satisfied with it, I made a bit of a mess............ (Shhhhh I tidied up before I dared take this)


Neither is it helped by the fact that although I have my perfect table and chair and my beautiful new machine I still haven't got any storage.  So the books are still piled up in the corner and I still have cardboard boxes and bags on the floor.  Most of my fabrics are in big boxes under the beds, some are on a shelf in a wardrobe.........  Only I've spent my budget so I need to save some more first.  Unless I can con  persuade my lovely husband to help me finish it off that is :-)

Before I go I have some other news, I have a place in Stash Bee next year, oh yes time for a happy dance.  If you don't follow Stash Be I suggest you check it out.  It is quiet just now as the 2016 Bee Groups are ending, but just wait until January 1st when the Bee's start buzzing'.   I'm in Hive 2 and my month is February, so, as I am so slow, I had better get choosing and planning now.  But one things for sure, whatever I chose I will tell you all about it.

'till next time
With smiles from,
Kate

Linking up with:
Lorna @ Let's Bee Social
Kelly @ Needle and Thread Thursday
Anja @ Anja Quilts hosting TGIFF
Sarah @ Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?
Myra @ Finished or not Friday