Thursday, 6 October 2011

Flavia of the week

I have just finished reading a book I picked up at a Bookcrossing cafe.  Bookcrossing is a great idea, it is a bit like a roaming library: at registered locations people leave books, you can pick them up and read them and then leave them at another (or the same) bookcrossing venue.  Books are registered on-line and if you want to you can track where and how far your book has travelled.  See for more info.

I would never have found this book otherwise: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.  It has a great cover and what a lovely title.  The heroine of the story is 11 year old Flavia, a chemist and amateur detective who solves a murder for which her father has been arrested.  Set in 1950's rural England, Flavia lives in the Georgian manorhouse of Buckshaw, with her reclusive father and 2 older sisters.  It was clever and very witty and in my view a great read for both adults and older children

The book reminded me of the 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' stories, which we all love in our house.  I couldn't put this book down and was delighted afterwards to find that since this book, the author has written another and another is due out soon.  Two more books to read.  I love it when I find a great new writer, it opens up a whole new, rich seam of pleasurable anticipation!

I couldn't help thinking as I read it that it would make a great film, perhaps it already has been made into a film?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

old shirts - new quilt

I hate throwing anything away and usually old and worn out clothes go either to the charity shop or textile bin.  But when I was handed several work-shirts that had frayed cuffs and collars, I realised that there is a lot of fabric in one shirt.  It took some time to cut up and then iron each shirt, but I think the result is worth it.

It was originally going to be for my son, but I have decided to keep it myself after all the work that went into it.  I hand quilted along the straight lines of the pin wheels.  The white is Kona Snow and the back, which I didn't photograph, is Kona Chambray with a line of squares of each of the shirt fabrics going from top to bottom. 

This photo was taken at the weekend when we had gorgeous sunny weather, unbelievable for October.  Today the weather has reverted to normal and it's cold and grey.

I thought you might also be interested in a quilt that my quilting group has sewn and which will shortly be raffled off to raise money for Scouts.  We each worked on a square and then the leader of our group did a wonderful job putting it all together.

I am hoping it will raise lots of money.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Weasleys

My lovely friend Sue gave me some fresh eggs from her red chickens: Mollie, Arthur, Ron, Ginny, Percy and Fred. 
I used the eggs to make a St James cake, which consists of eggs, sugar and almonds, so great if you are gluten-free.


250g whole almonds with skins
6 eggs, separated
200g caster sugar
pinch ground cinnamon

butter, for greasing

  1. Using the chopper attachment on a blender, grind the almonds until fine.  (Ready ground almonds make the cake look pale and bland - not so good)
  2. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form then whisk in half the sugar, a tablespoon at a time.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and cinnamon until thick and increased in volume.  The mixture should leave a trail when you lift up the whisk.
  4. Fold the ground almonds into the egg yolk mixture.  Fold in the egg whites.
Spoon in to a 24 cm greased and base lined springform cake tin.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degreesC (350F) for about 45 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before releasing. 

You can dust it with icing sugar.... a heart shape if you want.