San Frantastic…

Marcus and I have just had the pleasure of a very short break in San Francisco, without the children!!?!  This is the first time we have been away without them and much as I missed them is was heaven.  Listed below are some of the highlights of our trip:

Traveling BA First… We were lucky to be able to buy our tickets on BA Miles (my husband travels a lot with work) and so enjoy the pure pleasure that is BA First Long Haul with very little cost.  Apart from the champagne, the excellent food and the fact that the lovely Cabin Crew changed my seat into a bed in about 5 seconds, I was a very happy camper to get another Anya Hindmarch First washbag to add to my ever growing collection.  I love Anya H and I was the lucky recipient of a ‘Be-A-Bag‘ many years ago as a gift from my sister, I have since managed to collect a number of the First Washbags (mostly from my husband cheekily asking the C. Crew if he could have one whilst traveling business).  The latest is black velvet with a retro black & white print inside – love it!

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Eating breakfast at Dottiesmy husband found this highly recommended cafe and although we had to wait a while for a table (the queues are legendary) in a slightly dodgy area not far from Union Square it was well worth it.  The interior is a mixture of retro and kitsch with old photos and jazz.  The food is amazing and very generous portions – I did not come back thinner from this trip.

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Visiting Britex Fabrics off Union Square… not the cheapest by any means but four floors of fabric heaven.  Although really famous for fashion fabrics they do stock a number of Quilting lines.  I took a sneaky peak at the price of Liberty Tana Lawn – $50/yrd!!! Although not a massive saving the quilting fabrics are about $9/yrd so a bit cheaper than the UK imports. (If you look closely I am waiting for my fabric to be cut).

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Walking in Muir Woodsto view the ancient redwood trees.  Amazingly beautiful.

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Wine Tasting in Napa Valley…it looks a bit like the Yorkshire Dales but with different trees…weird, I wasn’t expecting that (Marcus laughed a LOT when I managed to make a Yorkshire reference whilst in California).

Visiting the Google CampusI have to put this into the post as it’s who M works for and part of his cunning plan to visit CA was the show me how cool it is.  And it is cool, very much so, in fact ‘awesome’ as M would say.

We didn’t have time to visit Alcatraz (pre-book your tickets) but we did go to Fisherman’s Wharf to eat some Clam Chowder and we spent a morning walking around Golden Gate Park which is well worth a visit.  There is so much more to do but I’ll leave it there before I bore you.

Bread…

I had intended to keep this blog very craft orientated but the reality is I also love cooking and gardening so these things are going to have to get a mention…

Last year my sister and I enjoyed a great day out at River Cottage HQ on a mushrooming course (I highly recommend this, it was great fun) .  Apart from learning to pick the correct mushrooms without poisoning ourselves we also had a cooking demo from Daniel Stevens who mentioned he was writing a Bread book as part of  the River Cottage Handbooks.  Now I do like to make a bit of bread so I have waited patiently for his book to come out and here it is.  

I had a good read, got all my bread kit out and then ended up making my old favourite, Maple and Pecan using a Nigella recipe!  How boring is that?  It’s not that there weren’t lots of inspiring recipes but I couldn’t settle on one and I really fancied some nutty bread.  I did, however, use lots of tips including using a steam tray in the bottom of the oven and pushing my fingers into the dough at the second kneading instead of bashing it about (although I have to say, I like the bit where you beat the dough up and get rid of the days frustrations – much more fun!).

I should mention the Stelton bread bag in the back of this photo as it is brilliant for storing bread.  I would also say that the ‘Preserves’ book from the River Cottage Handbook is worth buying, especially if you grow your own and have a glut of fruit or veg.  I made huge amounts of home made ketchup last year and we have jars of chutney from green tomatoes.

 

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It’s mine all mine…

When we bought this house we had a plan of what we wanted to achieve.   Part of that dream for me was that I would have a space of my own to work in, to decorate the way I choose and that Marcus would also have the same.  To this end we planned that the spare bedroom (an extension to the existing house with kitchen downstairs and one entire wall of glass on the front) would also be a study.  

For the last few years it has been a joint space with a desk we can both use as Marcus works from home on Fridays.  Well last year,  I pointed out that as M only really uses it on Fridays and I need to sew on and off all week that I needed the room to work better for me.  Over a weekend I took action, I moved the old Ikea shelving brackets up from our ‘back kitchen’ and updated them with new wood, I took the tressle dinner table which we had stored folded (to create room for the children to play) upstairs and made a ‘little’ space of my own – hee hee.  Marcus finally gave up and I set him up with a desk on the top floor (I would like to point out he will eventually be getting an office built in the garden when funding allows, all to himself.  This was always the plan).

I love it.  It has made such difference.  I know my poor husband was a bit upset to be kicked out and he did try to fight it but it has been the most important thing I have done along with setting up ‘The Linen Cat’ in recent years.  This is the first time I have had a studio space since I gave over the spare room of my flat to be M’s office when we first met.  It allows me to sew upstairs and leave everything out instead of having to clear away for meal times and have fabric taking over the kitchen.  I can have buttons, beads and threads to hand and know that they are safely out of reach of little fingers.

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As with all studio spaces of sewing folk there is the obligatory glass jars full of buttons and beads and in my case the samples that I can’t bare to throw in the bin, so they sit huddled together on the shelf (along with a knitting mouse I made for my Gran when I was young).

Also, as always the fixtures and fittings are an eclectic collection of old and new.  The rather splendid oak table came from Trainspotters and is an old trestle table that has been stripped and waxed.  The chair was bragged from The Imperial War Museum, where I worked a number of years ago.  I had to wheel it home which took rather  along time.   I since discovered it’s a design classic and I’m not sure they would have been throwing it out had they known.  On it is a new cushion made in Echino fabric bought from CelticFushion fabrics.

The table lamp and shelving is from Ikea – they have the best and cheapest lighting at the moment – we have bought rather a lot from there as of late.  The little dolly trolly holding my fabric is one my Dad made when at school.  My Mother was about to throw it out last year but with a bit of TLC it has been given a new life.

Finally and just in shot is a filing cabinet that came from MetroRetro.