Friday, 30 July 2010

A Wedding Patchwork Quilt

Between 1995 and 1998 I went to the University of Wales in Lampeter. I loved the place from the first moment I got there. Lampeter is a small town in mid mid Wales ... there is no train station, very few buses, hardly any shops and 45 minutes to the nearest towns (Carmarthen to the south and Aberystwyth to the north). I met Mr Plum here!

In between studying and indie nights at the union bar, I was also a member of lots of different societies ... and met lots of very interesting people. I have lost touch with most of them - but with the advent of Facebook (I don't have my own profile but hijack Mr Plum's!) I have got back in touch with some of those I had lost touch with.

One of those friends is getting married next Beltane (a pagan handfasting on 1st May 2011) and started up a group on Facebook called the Wedding Patchwork Quilt. While she had been researching traditional wedding customs, she was drawn to the idea of a Wedding Quilt. Possibly originally an American idea from the time of the Pioneers, it involves a community of women coming together to create a patchwork quilt for the engaged couple. She really liked the idea of people getting together, sharing time, skills, stories, scraps and creating a beautiful object in the process. She invited us to join in with her own (almost virtual) community and be involved in her project to create a ‘Wedding Quilt’. As she still lives in Wales, I have made a patch for her and will be popping it in the post. I hope that she likes it!

One of the stipulations was that we design the patch with the couple in mind and that we enclose a description with the patch detailing why we have made it that way so that she will be able to remember who sent each square.

Here is a picture of the quilt so far (shamelessly pinched from Facebook!)
Here is the patch I have made ....

It didn't photograph very well, but I have depicted a hill which sits behind Lampeter and is called "Magic Mountain" by the students. Some said that it was called this because of a convergence of ley lines on the hill ... others said that it was because of the mushrooms which grew on it. I never went up the hill as I was too scared of being shot by the farmer. Mr Plum says that he went up there though! Unfortunately I don't have any digital pictures of Magic Mountain so can't show you what the hill actually looks like.

I hope that the happy couple will like it!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Breakfast Muffins

I woke up this morning with the urge to make Breakfast Muffins ... I'm not a huge sweet muffin fan (unless they form part of the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at The Hotel Metro in New York!!) - but I am partial to a bran muffin, or the lovely savoury muffins in Starbucks! YUM!

So, having to get up early (well, earlier than normal - recent days have seen my staying in bed until the end of Woman's Hour!) for my 38 week midwife appointment - I had a quick look on the Internet for a breakfast muffin recipe .... I found one that looks rather nice here and picked up the few extra ingredients that I didn't have in the cupboard. I'm hoping that this recipe will live up to expectations as it has already found it's way into my own recipe book!

My 38 week appointment went very well .... all checks and tests were fine and Baby Plum is 3/5 engaged! My next appointment is booked in for 11 August ... two days after my due date to book me in for an induction, if it is needed. Mr Plum was instructed to let the midwife know if the appointment is no longer needed.

Mr Plum is convinced that Baby Plum will arrive on Friday when he is oop North with work. I don't think she will be making an appearance this side of my due date, although I was concerned that the full moon may have had an impact on her! One of the girls from the antenatal classes was told by her midwife that as she was due on the 1st August, she should be aware of this week's full moon which could mean that she would go into labour two days either side! Apparently many hospitals have extra midwives on during a full moon as there is usually an increased number of babies being born! Well ... I am meeting her for coffee on Friday - so no baby has appeared yet!

Anyway, I do believe that it is time for a cup of tea and a Yorkshire Tea biscuit before I head out into the garden to give my tomatoes some TLC.

I hope that you are all having great Wednesdays!!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Week 38 is here and a treasure chest of baby goodies!

My parents came to visit this weekend and brought with them this massive box of baby goodies which had been sent down by my relatives in Liverpool.

I couldn't believe how big the box was ....

It was packed full of beautiful knitted bits (which put everything I have done to shame!!) which had been put together by my Aunt, her friend and my cousin ...

Look at all these lovely blankets ....

And cute little cardies ....

Not only did they send down the knitting ... but also cute little outfits and lots of Johnson's baby stuff ... so kind of them!

Well ... week 38 is here! I don't really have anything planned for the next couple of weeks ... just waiting I suppose! I've still got some baby clothes to wash, and a few crafty projects to complete ... and am just about to go for a swim. I can't believe how quickly these last few months have gone!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Cup of tea cake and my final pre-baby afternoon tea!


Here is a picture of my (now demolished!) Cup Of Tea cake ... yum! It was delicious! I will have to make another one this week!

Val from The Victorians Didn't Even Like Pink! left a comment on my original cake post saying that as an American she had not come across a cake which uses tea in the recipe ... I don't know the history of tea loaf - but it is something I have grown up with! Maybe it is an English thing? Val, have a go at the tea loaf recipe here (you can use Breakfast tea, or Earl Grey with a squeeze of lemon juice is also very nice). I would be more than happy to post you some lovely Yorkshire Tea bags for you to use, if you would like? Let me know what you think!

After admiring my cake on Friday afternoon, I headed into town to meet my pregnant friend from university (who is having a baby in September!) for ... you guessed it ...


Yes, I know that four (is it four? I think that I am beginning to lose count!) afternoon teas in as many weeks (ish!) is a bit excessive ... but it has been fun to catch up with my best girlfriends, over a scone and a sandwich and copious amounts of tea. I know that once Baby Plum arrives my champagne lifestyle (on a ginger beer wage!!) will have to stop ... ha ha. Maybe until Mr Plum treats me to the Christmas afternoon tea at Claridges which we had to postpone from last year!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

A bit of knitting ...

Here is a little cardie I have been working on for a while! I had finished the main body of the cardie but was putting off doing the fiddly button band ...

This morning I woke up feeling a bit sniffy and had no energy to do anything ... I had planned to go for a swim and do some other bits and pieces - but ended up spending most of the day in bed snoozing while listening to Radio 4 and then 6 Music in the afternoon.

At lunchtime I thought I picked up the unfinished cardie ... I couldn't get it to hang right for the picture - I'm hoping that it will look better when modelled by Baby Plum! I need to work on my seam technique too! But, this is only the second baby cardie I have ever knitted - so feeling a bit proud of myself!

You can see the first cardie I knitted here sadly, my hard work was in vain for this one as I never got a thank you - indeed, they didn't even recall receiving it as they had so many pressies. Maybe a handmade knitted matinee jacket was a bit too shabby for them! Oh well!

Anyway, I adapted the pattern to include the pretty purple frill at the bottom and on the cuffs. I think it looks great!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Cup-of-tea cake

Back in May I spent a week at home with my parents. My Mum had made a lovely "cup-of-tea cake" from a recipe published in The Times as part of their "Eat with the ancestors" column. I would add a link to the recipe on The Times website ... but since Mr Murdoch decided to make us pay for the privilege of browsing Times Online, I thought I would put it on my blog for you. This cake is delicious - go and make one straight away!!

The Story Behind The Cake

Lucy Kihlstom wrote that:
"My grandmother, Peggy Pepler passed down her cup-of-tea cake recipe to my mother ... It's a wartime cake, so their are no eggs in the ingredients. I never liked sponge cakes as a child, so my mother made this every week when I was growing up in Sussex in the Seventies. I'd see her melting the margarine and sultanas in the tea, and get excited because I knew she was making it. I remember eating great chunks of it after school.
She wrote the recipe down for me, and I make it now for my children. It improves if kept for a day or so".

The Recipe

2 cups of cold tea
8oz caster sugar
8oz margarine
8oz sultanas
1lb self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp mixed spice
demerara sugar for sprinkling

The Method

Put tea, margarine and sultanas in a pan. Simmer for 3 minutes or more until melted. Cool the mixture. Mix all dry ingredients, then add to the cooled mixture. Pour mixture into a greased and lined deep 8in cake tin and sprinkle the demerara sugar on the top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours in a moderate oven at 350F (150C, gas mark 3)

I'm just waiting for the mixture to cool!

Friday, 16 July 2010

End of my first week on maternity leave ...

Wow! This week has flown by! I can't believe that I have been on maternity leave for a week now ... only 3 weeks until my due date!!

Yesterday I had a quiet day of blitzing the kitchen ... then meeting up with another friend who is expecting a baby in January for Elderflower Punch at All Bar One before heading home to watch "Twilight" (making the most of Mr Plum being up in Leeds for a meeting!)

Today, I met up with my brother's girlfriend and we went to the Grace Kelly exhibition at the V&A. This was fabulous ... the clothes were wonderful. I think that we will be watching High Society this evening!

After the exhibition we popped into the hotel where my brother works for a lovely lunch (I had a mixed salad followed by treacle tart with cinnamon ice cream and a nice pot of Earl Grey tea ... mmmmmm).

I feel exhausted now that I am home! I have a quieter week planned next week ... and I really must get on with some cleaning!!!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Veg from the garden and other random bits on a Wednesday ...

No gallivanting around London town for me today!

This morning I had an antenatal appointment, followed by an hours swim at the local pool ... after lunch, a read and a nap I headed to the kitchen to make some meals to put in the freezer - so we don't have to worry about cooking when Baby Plum first arrives.

I picked two lovely courgettes and two little turnips and roasted these with some lovely basil flavoured tofu (discovered at Waitrose in Worthing!) for dinner.

I was kept company by the lovely Pansy (who is celebrating her first birthday today!) ... she spotted the washing basket with blankets used for my picnic on Friday and thought that she would make it her new bed. Such a cutie!

A spot of knitting was also done ... I have decided to take a break from knitting the baby blanket and have decided to do some toys instead! Here is my first bunny - I am going to make a string of them to hang across the cot. Mr Plum thinks that it looks a bit like Hitler ... so I may have to do some work on the bunny's mouth!!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Afternoon Tea Again!

I'm really enjoying my maternity leave!

Yesterday I cancelled my travelcard and went to the cinema to see Eclipse (the 1130 showing!!). I thought that Eclipse was so much better than New Moon ... but couldn't convince Mr Plum to come with me, so went on my own!

This morning I had a nice lie in (until 11am!) listening to Women's Hour while reading and doing some knitting. There was an interesting bit about "Mummy Bloggers" which I am sure many of you will be interested to listen to (I'm sure that it will be available on the i-player).

After popping to Tesco and doing some tidying ... I headed into town to meet some friends at The Cadogan which I booked through and got for the bargain price of £15!


My request for veggie and pregnant friendly sandwiches was met ... my favourite pud was the white chocolate and raspberry mousse in a chocolate shell ... wonderful!

We sat there gossiping until about 8pm ... what a lovely afternoon!

Tomorrow I am hoping that the nesting instinct will kick in ... it hasn't so far!!

Mr Plum has suggested that I put together my own guide to afternoon teas ... watch this space!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Lovely knitted goodies ...

On Thursday, I went into work and found these lovely knitted goodies on my desk. They had been made by a lady in my team ... how thoughtful. I love the teddy!!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

A day in Worthing and some lovely fabric!

Yesterday we escaped London and drove down to the coast ... rather than follow the hoards to Brighton - we thought we would go to Worthing instead!

We had a lovely couple of hours walking around, paddling in the (warm!) sea and had a picnic on the beach.

On the way back to the car we walked past a fantastic haberdashery ... I fell in love with this Scottie Dog fabric and had to treat myself to a meter. I found this picture of the fabric on where they are selling it for the extortionate price of £18 a meter ... ironically I found it on the High Street for £12 a meter!!

I don't know what I will make with it - I just couldn't walk away from it!

Special Offer in The Guardian ...

Have a look at the special offer on the Guardian website for 10 Florence Strawberry plants for £4.50! Yes, you read it right ... £4.50!!!

It would be rude not to ....

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Victoria Plum has left the building ...

Yesterday was my last day at work before starting maternity leave ... I had been looking forward to leaving for months and had had an ongoing countdown going on in my calender ...

This morning I have woken up feeling a bit sad ... I'll miss the people I work with, they were lovely and made a sometimes slog of a job rather fun. I think I will miss the work too ... a little bit...for a while. It feels strange thinking that I won't be going back there for 10-12 months, and when I do, I will be in a new team doing something completely different.

The main reason I feel so sad is that my team made such an effort for me and made my last day so special.

Apparently, lots of ideas had been banded about - but it was (thankfully!) decided early on that the traditional curry and drinks in the office would not be so much fun for a pregnant lady! They thought about taking me out for afternoon tea (but decided that as I already had three planned - they wanted to do something different!).

So ... at 2.30pm yesterday afternoon, I headed off to the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park for a picnic!!! It was lovely ... lots of lovely food and cake (my final baking for the team ... they will probably miss that more than they will miss me!!). We sat in the sunshine for hours - it was such fun!

They gave me lovely gifts ... a pretty necklace from Swarovski, inspired by the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland ...

The photos don't really do it justice ... it is a gorgeous necklace with four cotton reels and a pair of scissors ... all encrusted with lovely, sparkly Swarovski crystal ...
And a book about Afternoon Tea (I quite like going out for afternoon tea y'know!) and some lovely tealights...
Not many people at work know about my blog ... but if, by chance, any of you are reading - thanks again for a lovely afternoon!!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

"Little Bee" or "The Other Hand" by Chris Cleave

I have just finished reading "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave (this is the US version which was lent to my mum by a friend - and then lent to me!. It was published in the UK as "The Other Hand").

I don't want to give anything away - but this book was so moving and very thought should read it too.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Mr Plum makes a discovery in the garden ...

This is our third summer at Plum Cottage ... and we often moan about the large tree in our garden whose roots have destroyed our lawn, and we think that this tree will eventually be responsible for the entire building crashing down around our ears!

Something is different about this tree this year ... something which has made Mr Plum question whether it is an ornamental cherry tree ... or an edible variety ...

We had noticed that there was a lot of very ripe fruit falling onto our garden table, into our food and onto our cat. Mr Plum was CONVINCED that the cherries were edible...I preferred to err on the side of caution.

This afternoon, brave Mr Plum tried one of the cherries ... and declared that he believed it was edible, and went straight onto t'internet to do some more research - as Mr Plum does ...

He is now busy in the garden picking away ... it would seem that our cherry tree is indeed an edible variety!!

Maybe all we needed was a perfect summer to ripen the fruit?

I think that I may wait until tomorrow to see if there are any side effects, before trying some myself!

Here's a quick veggie patch update picture ... I can't believe how much has grown in the last week!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Fabric Addict Swap!

I entered another swap a month or so ago ... but due to the incompetent staff at Croydon Post Depot ... my lovely parcel sat on a shelf unclaimed ... and then (thankfully!) returned to sender. I am so relieved that this is what happened - it would have been so upsetting if the parcel had been pinched by a light-fingered postie.

Here is what I got from the lovely Louisa at Faerie Nuff (and you can see what I sent her by clicking on the link) ...

Handmade make up bag, lavender heart, bunting (more for our nursery corner - fab!), buttons, fat quarters, CK tissues, vintage hankie...

Such lovely generous gifts - thank you so much!