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May 2013

{this moment}

{this moment}


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(She so desperately wanted to go and play cricket with the big boys)

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

To see more, check out the comments to Soulemama.

Elma Embroidery Family Finished Kitty Quilting Sewing

Silk wrapped


It’s raining again.

That glorious hot windy sunshine of the weekend has whistled through on its way to warmer climes, to places where they can’t truly appreciate the bliss of a peerless summer’s day.  Places where they know where to find the suncream without a mad scramble in the bottom of the nappy bag for the bottle you impulse bought after a shard of light pierced the cloud in April, never to be seen again.  Places where they (shock horror) hide from the heat.

But here in our very green little England, we have water pouring from the skies once again, and the national equilibrium of chilly and damp has been restored.  All is well with the world again.

And in our little house we’re tucked up cozy and warm, not least because I’ve got a newly finished quilt.
It’s taken its time to get from the pieced top that I finished while waiting for Elma, to the quilt that I can wrap around my bonny baby, but I’m so glad I persevered.

I pieced the backing and basted it all together on a very chilly January night with a tiny sleeping baby tucked up in her chair next to me, and set about a little quilting and binding.  Silk frays if you so much as think about it; any time I moved it even from one side of the studio to the other, a parade of shimmering threads danced in our wake so it wasn’t going to sit around and play nicely if I left any raw edges for any length of time.  I sewed the binding first and then in odd moments, in evenings and nap times, and lazy Sunday afternoons I’d pick it up and sew a little line of running stitch just along side each seam.

The backing is cotton, Cosmos by Dan Bennett in Phenomenon, a wonderfully wild pattern that must have been designed with quilt backings in mind.  What you can see is two lengths sewn together in mirror image down that central turquoise border; it means that some of those flowers are a bit upside down, but it looks more natural than the two stuck side by side.  Incidentally, the backing is why the very sharp eyed among you might notice that the quilt has shrunk.  It was 8×10 and is now 8×9; I just couldn’t justify the extra backing and wadding that I’d need, so I sliced off a row and some day a really lucky dolly is going to get a great quilt.
And for those who like to know these things, the binding is a Kaffe Fasset spot (GP70).  For the quilting I used some imitation silk thread picked up years ago at a Knitting & Stitching Show, and as much beeswax thread tamer as I could get on it to help it slide through the silk without having to stop and detangle every 30 seconds.  For the record, cotton embroidery thread would have been much easier.

I’m not sure I’m entirely converted to the merits of hand quilting, I’ve got a lot of lumps and bumps that might ordinarily have been smoothed out by the machine, but for this quilt it adds some texture and irregularity to lift what is otherwise lots of really big squares, and I love the memories that are sewn into those lines; memories of our first weeks as a family of four, and the start of Elma’s introduction to my obsessive need to make things.

But I’ve got no doubts about the finished quilt, and it seems the family rather agree, putting it to the test in their own individual ways…


… a backdrop to gorgeous smiles (although I swear she’s plotting something in the first one – possibly world domination)…



… a dance floor for ‘circles’ and a bed for sleep dancers …


… and a cape.  Of course!

Baking Cooking Recipes

Butternut Squash Pizza


Disclaimer: I hold myself in no way responsible if this post makes you hungry. I’ve only put the pictures together so far but I’ve had to do a little detour to the kitchen for a slice of bread and butter. If you’re reading this while supper cooks, maybe come back later.

Because, yes, hurrah, and all good things; our veg box had a butternut squash in it, the supermarket ably compensated for the effects of all of that snow earlier in the year rampaging through my herb garden, leaving them a little on the bonsai side, and we even found some buffalo mozzarella to add to the mix. So for Mandy, who asked for the recipe, and anyone else who gets a little tired of cheese and tomato, this is how to make my absolute favourite pizza:

Butternut Squash and Sage Pizza


Ingredients :
(this recipe makes three main meal sized pizzas)

for the base

1lb 2oz (500g) strong white bread flour
2 tsp. (7g) dried yeast
0.5 oz (10g) sea salt
2 tbsp. dried oregano
5 tbsp. olive oil
0.5 pint (300ml) tepid water

for the topping

1 butternut squash
1 handful fresh sage
1 ball buffalo mozzarella
smidgen of fresh parmesan (optional)
drizzle of olive oil (optional)



  1. Put the flour in a bowl together with the salt, yeast and dried oregano. Put the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl.
  2. Add the olive oil to the tepid water and pour them onto the flour.
  3. Mix until it starts to come together as a soft dough, then turn out onto a worksurface and kneed for 10 minutes until the dough is silky smooth. (As just about all prodding and pulling at the dough will help, this is a great step for little cooks to help with; Kit loves playing with it, although I do have to keep a weather eye to stop too much dough disappearing into a tiny tummy).
  4. Lightly oil the mixing bowl, then pop the dough in it, cover the top with clingfilm/ damp teatowl/ spare showercap and leave somewhere warm to prove until doubled in size (1-2 hours ish depending on how warm your house is).
  5. When the dough has risen, tip it out onto a lightly floured worksurface and divide into however many pizzas you want. I make three and we often have leftovers (great cold for lunch the next day).
  6. Shape each portion into a ball, then flatten with your hands. To stretch it further you can either use a rolling pin, or whirl it around in your fingers. We go for the whirling, but we’re not very good so we tend to get slightly wonky pizzas.
  7. Place each on baking parchment on a baking tray and set aside. If you don’t have any baking paper you can just use a smidgen of olive oil on the tray; I use the parchment because I only have two baking trays so I need to do a quick change over when I’m cooking, and the baking paper makes that easy.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C and gather your topping ingredients.
  9. Peel the butternut squash and slice as thinly as you can. They aren’t the easiest things to cut so use the biggest sharpest knife you have.
  10. Lay overlapping slices of the squash over your base.DSC_0159.jpg
  11. Take a handful of fresh sage, tear it roughly and scatter all over the top.DSC_0164.jpg
  12. Pull the ball of mozzarella into little pieces and scatter over the top.
  13. If you want to, add a smidgen of freshly grated parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  14. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Precisely how long it will take will depend on how thinly your rolled your pizza base and sliced your squash. I find mine usually take nearer to the 15 minute mark, but it’s better to check at 10 mins than end up with burnt pizza. The cheese should be melted and golden, the crust light brown and the squash soft and tender.




Baby Elma Motherhood

The simple truth in black and white



Tonight, for the first night in her life, my Elma will sleep in her cot. Up until now she’s been tucked up in a Moses basket by the side of my bed, mere inches away from me, but I can’t delude myself any longer that she really has outgrown its cozy embrace; she’s ready for a bit more space.DSC_0069.jpg

I, on the other hand, am not ready. Not even slightly. In fact there’s a good chance that come bedtime I’ll just tuck her up alongside me, same as always. It’s not like she’s moving that far; our house is a lovely size but nowhere near McMansion proportions and I’ll still be able to hear her and reach her in seconds if she needs me.


But it is another step under the inescapable juggernaut of time, a sure fire indicator that my babies will never stay as those tiny sleepy bundles of squish we brought home from the hospital, all smelling of milk, fresh laundry and that newborn smell that defies description. And of course, I don’t really want them to stay as babies forever, my job is to love them, cherish them, nourish them in body and soul, and ultimately let them loose on the world.

It is for the most part a wonderful adventure, watching these girls find their way through the world; celebrating their firsts and sharing their exploring. But it’s going so quickly. Faster even than with Kitty and showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. It would be a hardcore Mama indeed who doesn’t watch their children grow before their very eyes without a tiny wistful sigh.DSC_0077-2.jpg

The girl in question is currently tucked up in the crook of my arm playing blerum, holding my left index finger in her petite but vice-like grasp, having the occasional chew on my thumb, cozy and happy. And at bedtime I will snuggle her up in her own tranquil little room with her name on the door, but I’m going to miss waking up to those beautiful grey-blue eyes smiling across at me.DSC_0052-2.jpg

Still, if I’m very lucky, there might just be a two year old asleep on my head.

Kitty {this moment}

{this moment}


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{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, health special, generic extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

To see more, check out the comments to Soulemama.