#30for30crafting – finished!

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So I’ve finished #30for30crafting! It wasn’t continuous as I missed a few days but I think I kept with the spirit pretty well. I used the challenge to work on neglected WIPs, I did finish some, the walk in the park bag, a camera bag charm, an embroidered tote bag and the koi carp drawstring bag, all of which I’ve blogged about previously. I’ve also made headway on other neglected / delayed projects, above is the on – very off again Merry Meadow from Mochimochi. Below is the finally all completely cut pieces for a fairy tale quilt based on Little Dorrit and co. embroidery patterns that I stitched way last year.

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I also tried vainly to catch up with my sky scarf and mood blanket.

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I even worked on my even more neglected EPP project

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Much as I normally try and steer well clear of challenges etc., doing this this month has encouraged me to think about maybe trying craft 365 again, in an attempt to chronicle more my work in progress than just the finished thing. It doesn’t matter if I miss a day here or there. There’s still so many neglected WIPs and new stuff I want to do to. So from tomorrow you’ll see, instead of my #30for30crafting photos on Twitter, there will be a daily WIP shot.

(You can read about the start of my attempt at #30for30crafting here.)

Tomato and bacon gnocchi bake

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You know how it goes when you spot a good looking recipe on somewhere like Pinterest, you think (a) “that looks tasty” and (b) “that looks like the sort of thing I usually have the ingredients for in my cupboard / fridge”, so you go to make it and (b) doesn’t turn out to be quite true (I really should menu plan). The recipe in question today is baked gnocchi with bacon, tomato and mozzarella from Simply Delicious. It turns out I didn’t have any cream, I never have mozzarella unless I actually am menu planning and I’m not a big fan of cherry tomatoes anyway. So I adapted with what I did have.

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This provided enough tomato sauce for a gnocchi bake for two (two pretty large portions, it could have fed three) and some pasta (as a certain 8 year old I know doesn’t like gnocchi, weird boy). I wish I did have some cream as it would have made the dish a bit more decadent (as it looks in the photo on Simply Delicious) but hey I am meant to be on a diet.

To put how I constructed the dish simply, whilst I was waiting for the water for the gnocchi to boil, I fried the pancetta with the garlic until starting to brown. I then added the passata and the tomato paste, stirring occasionally on a low heat until the gnocchi is cooked. I then mixed in the gnocchi, put it in an oven proof dish, sprinkled liberally with grated cheese and then stuck in a preheated oven at 200 C for 10 minutes. Next time I may remember the cream or maybe some cream cheese.

Swallow peg bag

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I’ve been meaning to make a peg bag for a while, my problem was there’s too many cute peg bag patterns out there but I fell in love with the swallow peg bag pattern from Mollie Makes: Feathered Friends, a book with a collection of bird themed makes. I always love any excuse to include appliqué with my embroidery.

Although the embroidery pattern is from the book and the way the slit was constructed was from the book, I had to wing it a bit with cutting the shape of the actual bag because I was using a small ikea plastic coat hanger I’d nicked from Boy Lacer’s wardrobe (that boy never hangs his clothes up anyway) and so that shape was a bit different.

Maggie’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I have way too many recipe books, which include a hefty selection of purely baking books, so you’d think I’d be spoilt for choice for chocolate chip cookie recipes right? Nope. I checked all my trusty favourites (I could find), no luck, so I thought I’d start trying my not so trusty favourites. To be fair to Leon: Baking and Puddings, where I eventually found a recipe, I don’t think I’ve cooked from it before, despite probably having it for about a year (bad me), so I don’t know if the book is trusty or not. I think I’m unfairly format biased, as the Leon books are, in my eyes anyway, so vintage looking, they’ve gone too far, iykwim. I don’t know why I keep buying them, in fact I did hold off buying this book for quite a while, but I always succumb in the end.

Anyway, as for the actually cookies, they’re ok, they suffer a bit from being on the sort of healthyish side, ok they’re not really healthy at all but they sort of count as healthyish in the they could be a lot more unhealthy sort of way. The recipe in the book is gluten free (although I substituted for normal flour, as we don’t have issues with gluten in our family), there’s no sugar but a very large amount of maple syrup with a side helping of agave syrup, which in my mind is still quite a lot of sugar but where the recipe falls down taste wise is that it doesn’t have enough butter and I really missed that buttery taste. They’re also aren’t the chewy kind of chocolate chip cookies that I really like.

As I haven’t blogged about Leon: Baking & Puddings before, here’s a quick review -

The book is divided into two parts; Everyday and Celebration. Everyday is divided into breakfast, tea, puds, breads, cooking with children sort of things. Celebration has the events you’d expect, such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day, as well as the events you might not expect, like Wimbledon and St. George’s Day, I also liked that Thanksgiving and Eid were included to. The style of the book is very much in keeping with the previous two books, think retro seventies cookbook, but at least the photography is not sooo ‘authentic’ in this one and you can see what the dishes look like properly. The recipes are, as you’d expect with Leon, on the healthy side and flicking through the book (I’ll admit, I haven’t looked at it in ages), there’s recipes I would like to try but there’s nothing really stand out. I’ll admit bloggery bias here though, in that I’m trying not to bake full stop at the moment*, I need to loose weight and I’m trying to do it in a changing eating habit sort of way rather than go on a specific diet, make myself miserable, fall off it sort of way. I know that one of my weaknesses is when I bake, as I tend to eat all of it (or nearly all anyway), whereas if I buy biscuits for the family I tend to buy biscuits I don’t really like, so I don’t eat them and I’m not about to start baking things I don’t like! So I’m maybe not in the most positive frame of mind to review a baking book!

* These cookies were baked for a picnic to share, I’ve still eaten four though to ‘test they’re ok’, sigh.

Mexican card cushion

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I hadn’t made myself a new cushion for the sofa for a while and when I saw the Sublime Stitching Mexican Loteria patterns, a patchwork ‘playing card’ design sprung to mind.

It’s not my finest example of patchwork, some of the seams very definitely don’t join up, more due to cutting errors than sewing errors. I do cut with a rotary blade etc but usually it’s on my coffee table, not the best place to be doing it. It’s also not my finest example of embroidery, this was stitched with Sulky Solvy again and in this case it was definitely just me being lazy, I could have easily transferred the pattern with a light table. As usual, as I’m finding with Sulky Solvy, the stitches are looser than I would like, also I had terrible problems with the red running when I washed the Sulky Solvy off (thank goodness for dye catcher). Also, some of my back stitch on this, one of the simplest embroidery stitches ever, looks like a 5 year old did this, because the Sulky Solvy made it less clear, in places, where I was putting my needle (I think it didn’t help that the Sulky Solvy was coming loose at those points).

HOWEVER, I really like this cushion, I am really happy with the fabric choice, a mix of stash and (yes I’ll admit it) bought for the project fabric. I had such a clear idea of how I wanted the cushion to look and I didn’t have anything really, in my stash alone, that would have worked and I’m becoming fed up of ‘ruining’ projects at the fabric selection stage because I’m trying to stick with what I’ve got.

Gallery Tote (and an elephant pouch)

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Do what you love and the camera by Urban Threads, lab rat by Corvus Tristis

Sometime last year, way last year, I decided that I was going to do at least a little something about all the unstitched embroidery patterns on my hard drive and stitch some of them up and then make a bag to showcase them. I did the embroidery part fairly quickly but as usual with me, it’s the sewing up bit that takes forever but thanks to #30for30crafting, I got my finger out and I’m really pleased I did because I think this is the nicest thing I’ve made in ages!

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Eat me by Cate Anevskiwindow and red work bird by Urban Threads (I think?), Lovey Owls by Teeny Tiny Happy Things

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Eat me close up as it didn’t photograph well in the above picture

I also, at the same time, embroidered an elephant to also go on the bag, but I decided it didn’t go to well with the other pieces, so I made that into a separate pouch today as well.

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Painted elephant by Corvus Tristis.

I am so happy I stitched these up finally, it’s so nice to get them out of my to do pile and as they were a substantial part of the aforementioned pile, I almost feel like I can start something else ambitious now but I’ve still got lots of WIPs going on, so maybe I should control myself!

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

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I started Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, expecting a story about, ummm, a bookstore, so I was surprised, as well of course the heavy amount of bookstore, there was a very large dose of tech. Clay, the main character who gains a job as the night clerk at the aforementioned bookstore, is a newly redundant marketing / website guy from a bagel start up. He soon wants to bring some tech into the old fashioned world of the bookstore and with it he gains the first clue into a mystery about the shop that had been puzzling him. There is also a Googler girlfriend, a tech entrepreneur best friend and a special effects wizard flat mate. With their help, Clay follows a trail of clues about the mysterious bookstore. Once the mystery is at least part solved, there was a point, for me, when the book started to feel a little flat (I was really enjoying the lead up) but it then ramps up again towards the end and overall all it felt like a really sweet, memorable, different kind of story (and I definitely can’t think of many stories that combine a love of bookstores, tech and typography!).

*** (out of 5) stars