Thursday, 23 December 2010

Wrapping presents with DIY gift tags

Well I've wrapped all the presents - phew!

I'm afraid, for the MIAMI purists, I used virgin wrapping paper - but most of it was surplus from last year, supplemented by a stash left by a friend who was staying here this week and bought more than she needed and bequeathed the rest to me.

In mitigation I did make all my own gift tags and I have to say they are blooming lovely - much nicer than shop bought ones. I had a pile of last year's Christmas cards and cut them, punched a hole and threaded through some gold thread I had in my stash.

Amazingly I managed to find a large card in purple tones that perfectly matched some of my wrapping paper and got half a dozen tags from the one card - I couldn't believe how well the colours matched. In the photo here it's hard to tell which is the card and which the wrapping.

If you think recycling involves some kind of compromise in quality I hope these will convince you otherwise. And if you aspire to cut out buying any paper at Christmas check out our main website and read  >> How to have a paperless Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Clare F

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Easy Christmas tree decorations

These gold Christmas tree decorations have adorned my tree every year since 1992. They were made for me by my sister-in-law Lucy and are my favourite tree ornaments.

They look very easy to make - just pieces of corrugated cardboard covered with crinkled paper - added papier mache style and then sprayed with gold paint. Despite being really simple they are very effective and the crinkly surface helps them catch and reflect the light.

For more handmade Christmas decoration ideas look at the MIAMI website

Clare F

Monday, 13 December 2010

Make (up) your very own grape chutney

We MIAMI girls meet regularly – every week or two – in one of our homes, the day’s business (slightly) broken by a homemade lunch. Today, in honour of Christmas, we moved off piste and into the creative surrounds of The British Film Institute on London’s Southbank. More specifically we gathered in the ground floor Benugo Bar and when lunchtime came around, it being Christmas (did I mention that already?), we chose an a' la carte lunch and were lucky enough to be served by the lovely Wes, straight from Toronto (that's him on the left). 

Our treat – and the real purpose of this blog, was the discovery with the cheese course of a fantastic grape chutney which none of us had ever heard of before. As the team by now felt Wes was our new best friend, we asked outright: what was in it and how was it made. Enter Carlos, our bearded chef (his braised squid was pretty tasty too).

As you can see, Wes and Carlos were only too pleased to hand over a list of ingredients for this especially Christmassy and fresh tasting chutney – just perfect with cheese.

  • Bramley Apple
  • White Onion
  • Red grapes
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Brown sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground ginger
But it was a list. What we don't have are the quantities or instructions, so here goes my best guess (you may have a better idea or two): 

As this is a fresh tasting, ready-to-eat-immediately kind of chutney, I’d be inclined to first cook everything in a large pan (going easy on the vinegar and sugar) except for the grapes, lemon juice and spices. Maybe one large or two smaller onions, one large chopped Bramley apple – and cook slowly but not for as long as a regular chutney – perhaps an hour or so. Then add in the lemon juice (I wonder what a bit of the grated zest would be like?), the grapes (go for really red skins – Chef Carlos said the batch we ate used fab, fat red grapes), and the spices. I reckon another 40 minutes should do it. The texture should be sludgy and the grapes smashed, but evident.

Who knows what it will taste like – all I know is that what we ate was not too sweet, not cloying and had fresh, cinnamonny overtones. Lovely. My daughter’s going to try some later this later this week to make as gifts for her family... what a great Christmas present... and thank you Carlos for your genius and Wes for being a fab waiter and story-teller.

Clare OB

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Making Christmas cards

Well I finally got round to making my Christmas cards tonight. After loads of Saturday night trash telly it was quite restful sitting down on my one-woman assembly line to make up the cards.

As I didn't have much time and was a bit short on materials, I just painted a couple of very simple rather childish pictures of holly. Neither of them came out as I intended, but they'll have to do! - I also had a go at a pointsettia but it looked like a big fat blob so I gave up on that one! I then bunged them on the printer and made copies, trimmed them and stuck them on to card blanks with Pritt Stick - as I didn't want to gas myself with spray mount.

Even though they may not be very beautiful at least the recipients know they have been made with time and trouble, not just grabbed in a store.

For loads of ideas, instructions and videos for making Christmas cards - check out Clare O'Brien's posts on our website >> Hand made Christmas cards

Clare Flynn

Friday, 3 December 2010

If you want to get ahead get a bobble hat!

Well Cheryl has hit the headlines again with yet another little knitted creation.  She has hit the front page of the Daily Mail and will undoubtedly be spread across the rest tomorrow.

“Cheryl Cole keeps out the chill in a furry bobble hat…”

Knitwear is big business this winter and it seems that if you want to get some media mileage you need to wear a natty knit. 
Last year Cheryl hit the front pages wearing a hat with an oversized bobble, this year’s version is sporting a faux fur bobble.  Sadly both hats come with a celebrity price tag, but we have a great patter for those of you who fancy having a go at making their own.  You can either make it with an oversized bobble or have a go at making the faux fur version – both are equally simple.

>> Click here for the full story

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Getting in the Christmas Spirit!

I love Clare F’s piece yesterday about renting a Christmas tree, but my vote has to go to the upcycled trees this year.  I love the ingenious use of waste products at the best of times, but think of the added pleasure of gathering your stock for this tree...

This one was created outside the Nanjing mall in China and is huge but, if you really like the idea, you could create a smaller version for your own home. Yes, you'd have to save a fair few bottles, but I can think of a few men (and women) who have more than enough bottles in their recycling boxes already! 

So if you want to have a go at a more modest version this video may be for you.

>> Click here for lots of great ideas for making your own handmade Christmas decorations

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Rent a Christmas Tree

A glossy flyer came through my door this week from Christmas Tree Angels: London's first sustainable Christmas tree rental service. The trees are grown from seed in pots and are delivered into your home - upstairs if required - and then collected at a convenient time after the festivities. You can even arrange to rent the same tree the following year. Once the trees get too big for use they get planted out to live out their retirement in a plantation.

I applaud the idea - there's nothing more depressing than seeing the wanton waste of trees that happens each January when they are dumped in skips or sent to the shredder - so I rushed to the website to find out what it costs. Unfortunately that's where my enthusiasm waned - it's a whopping £75 minimum to rent the smallest tree (a 4 foot Fraser Fir). They also offer additional options +£15 to choose your own tree, +£12.50 to insure it! and +£30 to pre-agree the delivery time (the free delivery option does not allow time-slot selection). Now I can understand that the operating costs are likely to be much higher than those for bought trees - but this is so high in the absolute as to put all but the most wealthy sustainability advocates off. 

I decided to do a bit of research and have discovered that while the concept may be new to us Londoners, there are a few similar firms operating elsewhere. I found a company in Dorset that will rent a 5 to 6 footer for £45 if you collect and return it yourself - or £59 for the full delivered option.
 Trees for Rent

Meanwhile if you want to make and mend your Christmas decorations we  have tons of great ideas on the website - from how to make salt dough tree decorations, to making stars and gift boxes from old Christmas cards.  Start your own Make it and Mend it Christmas now

Clare F

Monday, 29 November 2010

The Slow Cooker Challenge

So there we go…a week of slow cooker meals complete. 
How did I fare?  Am I a convert?  Scarily enough I have to admit that I am and I have had some definite successes that I would definitely repeat.  Some recipes were better than others, but that was probably more the fault of the chef rather than the cooker!

My favourite meals had to be the lamb shanks, the BBQ spare ribs and the rice pudding.  These dishes were amazing.  The rice pudding was rich, creamy and delicious.  The meat dishes were incredible. The slow cooking meant that the meat literally fell off the bone and they were so easy to make.  It was fabulous coming home to these incredible dishes that looked like I'd spent all day slaving over a hot oven.

If I had one criticism I'd have to say that this is an appliance for organised souls.  Those of you who know me, know that this isn't a word that's usually used to describe me.  I'm not somebody who's good at getting up and being organised enough to know what I'm going to eat that evening. Frankly I'm lucky if I know what I'm going to have for breakfast let alone prepare a meal for the evening. But having said that, I'd definitely use a slow cooker for cooking cuts of meat like ribs and shanks again.  My kids thought they were amazing and even thought I was a good cook!

So thoughts overall?  It's a brilliant appliance that makes deliciously easy home cooked meals and is well worth having in your kitchen!

 >> Click here for your chance to win a 
        Morphy Richards Slow Cooker

Try these delicious recipes

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Day Three of the Slow Cooker Challenge - Rice Pudding

Today I woke up to a thick frost and an even thicker fog, so what better way to ward of all those chills than a delicious slow cooked rice pudding…and this one was delicious. 

All I did was measure the ingredients out and throw them in the cooker.  I have to admit that it did take a bit longer than the recipe said, but it was well worth the wait.   The extra slow cooking made it really rich and creamy – a definite hit.

Downside you don’t get that lovely brown skin, upside you don’t get that horrible brown skin.
One man’s meat is another man’s poison, but if you do like a bit of skin, you can take the lid off and get an anaemic version.  Not terribly aesthetically pleasing, but still tastes great.

Roll on the spare ribs tomorrow!


>> Click here for your chance to win a Morphy Richards slow Cooker
>>  How to make slow cooked rice pudding

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Day Two of the Slow Cooker Challenge – Vegetable Soup

Ok day two and I have decided to go for some cheap and cheerful vegetable soup. 
This was simplicity personified.  I only had to assemble the veg, cut them up, add a bit of stock and throw them in the cooker.  By the time I came home this evening my kitchen was filled with delicious aroma of Vegetable soup. 

So how did I rate it?  With regard to the recipe, if I made it again I probably wouldn’t bother with adding any flour as I think it made a little thick for my liking and possibly unnecessarily added a bit of fuss, also as I had already included potatoes it did seem a little bit of overkill, but having said that it did taste delicious.
As for the slow cooker, it worked brilliantly.  As an AGA user I am also sticking food in the slow oven to cook and this matched up really well.

>> Click here for your chance to win a Morphy Richards Slow Cooker

>> Click here for Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup recipe

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Day one of the Slow Cooker Challenge - Apple Sauce cake

Day one of the slow cooker challenge - Apple Sauce cake

Day one and here I am alone with an alien kitchen utensil – what to do first?  A quick cursory glance at the instructions and I am off and running in my bid to make an apple sauce cake

Make a cake in a kitchen utensil? You must be joking I said.  But that is exactly what I have done today.  Using this great recipe we found in an old cookbook, I have made a really delicious cake.  The lovely thing about making this cake in the slow cooker was that not only was it really moist, but when I got home from work, the kitchen was filled with the most amazing smell of cinnamon and apples. This was my first attempt at cooking with the slow cooker and aesthetically my cake did leave a bit to be desired, but it still tasted amazing.

I have to admit I wasn’t completely sure what I was meant to be doing, but this machine is so easy to use. I am sure there are things I could do differently and there must be little tricks that would make it even easier to use, but on the whole this was a doddle. I had a look at various recipes to see how you should cook a cake and some said to put the mixture into a cake tin and then into the slow cooker and others said to just put the mixture straight into ceramic container.  Not being one for washing up I went with the latter option.  The cake was great, but I am not sure what the difference would be if I had used the other cake tin, but I was delighted with the result….Do tell me if you know what the difference is.

 So all in all a great result for day one!

>> Click here for Apple Sauce Cake recipe

>> Your chance to win a Morphy Richards Slow Cooker

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Slow Cooker Challenge

As a long time AGA user I'm always sceptical of buying any seemingly ‘unnecessary’ kitchen appliances, especially ones that involve cooking. I've always been a a bit of a purist and a firm believer in cooking the old fashioned way. 

So when the lovely people at Morphy Richards gave us Slow Cookers for you guys to win in our competition,  the team at MIAMI Towers insisted that I have a go.  They've challenged me to see what I can do with a Slow Cooker and whether I'll change my mind about it. 

So over the coming week I'll be trying various recipes - please feel free to post your own favourites.

>> Click here for your chance to win a Morphy Richards Slow Cooker 

Monday, 15 November 2010

Paper sculpture

Thanks to Lis Long for telling us about these amazing paper sculptures made by husband and wife team, Allen and Patty Eckman.

The couple employ a unique method which involves placing paper pulp in clay moulds and then pressurising it to remove the water. The hard, lightweight pieces are then removed from the moulds and they painstakingly add detailed finishings with a wide range of tools. A sculpture can take them almost a year to complete.

The sculptures take their inspiration from traditional Native American Indian life. The Eckmans have been making these since 1987 at their home studio in South Dakota, USA and have earned over £3 million selling them, the record being a creation called Prairie Edge Powwow which sold for £47,000.

Allen said: 
"We create Indians partly because my great, great grandmother was a Cherokee and my family on both sides admire the native Americans...I work on the men and animals and Patty does the women and children"

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Have a go at upholstery

Lots of people tell me they're too scared to try upholstery - so I thought I'd share my own experience. In fact this was what got me started down the Make it and Mend it road in the first place.

I had a very old scruffy red velvet nursing chair and a sprung Edwardian dining chair that I was given by my mother and was thinking of throwing out. Instead my friend Joan suggested I have a go at upholstering them, by coming along to the class she goes to weekly in Somerset. I was doubtful but signed on for a week long course and was immediately hooked. Unfortunately I can't show you the step by step photos as they were on a phone that was lost - but here's the finished product

This chair had springs that were still quite reasonable and didn't need replacing - but they did need re-fixing and all the webbing and stuffing had to be replaced. I re-stuffed it with new horsehair - and put the old horsehair in a pillow case and washed it so it was ready to use for my next project.

I found the sewing very relaxing and also got great satisfaction from stripping the chair down to its base essentials, cleaning and polishing the wood and taking out all the old nails and webbing.

I finished the nursing chair in four days and then started on the dining chair. There was no way I could get that done in a day - as it needed new springs and webbing, so I booked myself in for another couple of days in a few weeks time and carried on at home in the interim. When I went back to Somerset I finished it off and also re- covered a cheap footstool at the same time, using matching fabric.

Joan was an inspiration to me - and a perfectionist - she persuaded me to take all the piping off the nursing chair after I'd finished sewing it on - and do it all over again - as I hadn't positioned it quite correctly. I was really glad afterwards.

This was my first attempt at doing any form of sewing or craft work in almost 30 years. Since then I have been unstoppable and rediscovered my youthful interest. I find it deeply satisfying and very relaxing. So have a go - you won't know what you're capable of until you try.

My upholstery course was at  Lilac barn where the very capable Cherry taught me all the basics. She runs regular courses in upholstery and other crafts -  in a lovely location in the Somerset Levels >> Lilac Barn Craft Courses
or check out your local adult education centre.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Come to Devon and make your own homemade Christmas

We've decided to emerge from  MIAMI Towers and run a real live event - and we hope you can come along and join us!

The lovely people at the beautiful Rill Estate in Devon have invited us to run a couple of one day workshops there.

We 're going to do live work sessions on card-making, fabulous show-stopping Christmas table dressings, gorgeous home-made Christmas decorations as well as gift ideas and wrapping.

You'll get all the materials provided, plus lunch and teas and coffees, the chance to meet the MIAMI team and other like-minded people in a convivial atmosphere and beautiful setting.

Who needs to be a couch potato and sit at home watching Kirstie Allsopp  pretend to make her homemade Christmas when you can do it for real?

What are you waiting for? We have 2 days available - Monday 15th or Tuesday 16th November.

>> Find out more here

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Fred makes some chutney

My nine year old nephew Fred loves cooking and wanted to try making jam or chutney. We decided to have a go at some apple chutney.

It's a really easy recipe - we put chopped cooking apples, onions, sultanas, sugar and a few raisins in the pan along with some mixed spice, paprika, ground coriander and malt vinegar and then let it simmer for a long time.

Fred wasn't too keen on the strong smell from the vinegar but enjoyed stirring the pot and checking for doneness - by dragging the spoon across the bottom of the pan - when it doesn't immediately fill up the channel it's ready.

Fred's looking forward to taking some home for his Mum and Dad.

Making jam and chutney is surprisingly easy and very satisfying. We have loads of recipes and tips on the main website as well as a handy download calendar to show you what you can do with fruit and veg each month. Making jams, pickles and preserves

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Quilts glorious quilts

We'll have the next quilting block up for you shortly, complete with step by step instructions. We hope you'll take the opportunity to quilt along with us and share your results on our Facebook photo page 

Meanwhile I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some examples of the kind of sampler quilt we 're working on. Hilary, my very skilful "Quilting Mum" made these beauties.

Instructions for our first quilt block - Rail Fence are on the website

Clare F

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Abundance Fruit Day

On my riverside walk this morning I spotted some posters advertising the Abundance Fruit Day this weekend here in Chiswick.

When I got home I googled it and found Abundance is an movement that started out in Sheffield and now has branches here in west London, and in Brixton, Haringey, Hackney, West Ealing and Manchester. They are mapping fruit trees - in a similar way to the chaps we highlighted on the website recently who are mapping foraging locations.

The West London Abundance Fruit Day sounds fun - there's a 60 litre fruit press which will be pressing local apples all day, apple games, fruit swaps, a jam-making workshop at 2pm, craft stalls and a bicycle operated smoothie maker so you can feel virtuous when making your own! More info here

It is really heartening to see how many initiatives there are now to encourage growing and sharing produce. We also recently highlighted Crop Swap, which is building up a national fruit and veg swapping databaase. Story here

Clare F

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Additions to my quilting stash

One of our Facebook friends warned that once you get your hands on some fat quarters they become an addiction. I told myself I wouldn't let it happen but would stick to remnants. They are however strangely seductive and I felt in need of some other patterns as I build up my quilt blocks.

Not sure about the owls but I think the colours will work with what I already have. We'll see...

Join me in my efforts to learn quilting - see Join me in my first quilting lesson on the website

Clare F

Friday, 8 October 2010

Tomato Mania

Clare O has been really besotted with her tomato crop. She's made all sorts of things with them including jam, marmalade, chutney and sottolio as well as using them in salads and sauces. She's also been brightening up her kitchen with trays of them on display, so I thought they'd make a good subject for her birthday card and got my paintbox out and did this.

Least I could do after she has bestowed so many on me - not to mention runner beans and chard.

Clare F

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

My first London Grapes

They may not be huge but they taste pretty sweet - my first crop - on a vine planted 2 years ago.

Clare F

Monday, 4 October 2010

Preserving green tomatoes

I've just experimented with green tomatoes preserved in olive oil - using some of Clare O's bounteous tomato harvest and Lina Negri's recipe. I only had a few tomatoes and as this is a first attempt I've only made one small jar - but it was very easy. You can find the recipe on our website.

Here are the tomatoes after their 30 seond boil - cut into pieces and put into a bowl under a weight (I used the olive oil bottle on top of a saucer) so the excess water comes out.

When I compared notes with Clare O I discovered that she uses a different recipe  - one Lina gave us first as a footnote to Clare's earlier piece on tomatoes. Clare says it's absolutely delicious. I'll need to wait a while to find out how mine taste. I think the key difference was that in Clare's version you add vinegar to the water you boil the tomatoes in whereas mine involved a separate vinegar and wine marination stage.  Also hers uses onion and mine just garlic and fresh oregano.

Anyway I can't wait to taste them. At MIAMI we are falling in love with all forms of preserved tomatoes. Clare offered me some Tomato and Chilli jam last night which was truly scrumptious. She 's also been busy making raspberry vinegar.

>> Green tomatoes under oil (and a recipe for under vinegar) on the website

>> The other Green tomato recipe from Lina can be found in the Comments after this article What to do with Green Tomatoes

Monday, 27 September 2010

The death of cheap clothing

There! Did you hear that sound?  

Apparently that's the death knell of cheap clothing ringing out loud and clear across Europe.  According to all the papers, the floods in Asia will mean that we are going to see a rapid rise in the price of cotton, which in turn will mean a rapid rise in the price of clothing in shops like Primark, Asda and Tesco.

Whilst financially this is going to be a blow for some, for many it will just mean that they think more carefully before they purchase new outfits: which in environmental terms has got to be a winner. 

For far too long society has been condoning, if not encouraging, people to purchase clothes that they don't need and to throw them away shortly afterwards.  Apparently in the last five years we have seen the proportion of textile waste rise from a meagre 7% to a whopping 30%, which we the taxpayers have to pay for.

As a society, we've become used to disposable fashion, without giving a thought to the effects that this might have on our environment, or on the poor people who have to produce these cheap items. So from my perspective, this price rise can’t come soon enough and this rise is all grist to our revolution.

However if you're worried about how you'll manage without all this cheap clothing, fear not, for in reality we really don’t need all these clothes especially as we supposedly only wear 20% of the clothes in our wardrobes, 80% of the time.   With a little bit of care and attention your can make your clothes last a lot longer.  And if you really do want something new to wear for that special night out why not try altering, adapting or refashioning your clothes.  If you are worried that your skills wont stand up to the task find a friend to help you….or if all else fails why not try ‘swishing’ at a clothes swap party.  With a little bit of thought and creativity we can all find a new wardrobe for a fraction of the price, but not at the expense of the environment.

Come on join our revolution and think before you buy, because life’s too good to throw away!


Related posts on the website 

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Quilting is easy and fun

Following my earlier post I thought I'd update the blog on progress so far. Hilary has helped me get off the ground and we had an enjoyable day cutting out the pieces for my first three blocks.

I've posted the instructions on how to do the first one, Rail Fence, on the  main website and we'll soon be following this up with step by step instructions and templates for the others.

This is Rail Fence - which consists of simple strips and so is easy to cut out and to sew - a good one for a beginner like me to kick off with.

This one is called Card Trick and consists of lots of triangles - it requires a bit of fiddling and juggling but I really enjoyed doing it.

And here's number 3 which is called Wild Goose Chase.

I followed Hilary's advice and did all of these by hand - it's only running stitch so very quick and easy and as she pointed out the pieces are so small that using the machine is probably more trouble than it's worth. It also means you can do it anywhere anytime.

So I've lost my quilting virginity so to speak and am surprised at how relaxing and easy it is. If you haven't tried give it a go. You don't have to do a sampler of all different blocks as I'm doing - you can choose just one block pattern and stick to that. The possibilities are endless.

Here's how to do the Rail Fence and get started A First Lesson in Quilting

Clare F

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Recession-proof your Christmas

Wow…did you realise that there are only 99 days until Christmas? (Oops! as there have been a few days since writing this and before posting it - it's now only 93...). Does that send you into headless chicken mode?  Or are you already rolling your eyes and moaning about people who talk about Christmas too early? 

Frankly I'm in the latter camp, but if you want to beat the recession this Christmas, now is the time to start planning.  With a little bit of forethought and a little bit of creativity, you can have a real recession-busting Christmas. Here's how:

1. Budget – set a figure and stick to it

2. Start saving -  How about stopping that daily Starbucks habit, start taking a homemade lunch  to work...

3. Start planning – Now's the time to plan - making home made presents, decorations, your own mince meat... 

4. Start harvesting - There's still time to dry some lavender for homemade lavender bags and you have plenty of time to start making your own homemade pot pourri.

5. Start collecting - Paper and images that inspire can be saved for wrapping your gifts and making your own Christmas Cards. You also still have plenty of time to start collecting all your left-over bits of soaps and/or candles – enough to reuse and make your own gifts.

If our Top 5 Tips have inspired you there's a great 2011 money saving article on our mainwebsite Take a look!


Monday, 20 September 2010

Foraging for jelly and syrup-making

Even though we'd left it late in the season for South East England, there were still just enough elderberries and rosehips left to pick with my lovely God-daughter Florrie and her sister Martha this weekend.

They love finding things and helping out, well, when not glued to CBBC of course. Here are some of the pictures and Martha's home-grown explanation of how to separate the tiny elderberries from their stalks.

If you live further north, or at higher altitudes, I expect there are still plenty of elderberries, rosehips and even sloes to be picked.

Making the jelly and learning a bit of chemistry

I've been making preserves for years and learned a really good lesson yesterday. If you want your jelly or jam to set when adding pectin or lemons, make sure you add the sugar AFTERWARDS. If you don't, it won't set. So having followed the recipe for my red-currant recipe (see link below) with the elderberries, I added the sugar before boiling the juice with the lemon juice. Now I think I may have some delicious and very concentrated elderberry cordial on my hands!

Rosehip syrup
I'll be tackling this later today, but in the meantime if you're looking for how-to, see the link below for our rosehip syrup recipe (or at least, one of them).

See also Foraging map on the MIAMI Forums
Recipe for red-currant jelly
Wartime recipe for rosehip syrup

All the best from Clare O

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Ready for quilting

I've just  bought my first set of fat quarters!

If you'd asked me a few weeks ago I wouldn't have known a fat quarter from a thin cent! In fact it turns out it is a standard measure for a piece of material for quilting - based on cutting a yard of cloth into  quarters - which works out as approximately 18 by 22 inches.

I have bought ten of these pieces and here's my stash.

I'm planning to make a sampler quilt, which means incorporating a series of different square blocks of quilting each in a different pattern. Hilary is going to be my "quilting mummy" to get me started and mentor me through the process. As I progress, we'll share Hilary's templates for the blocks I'm making and will pass on Hilary's top tips on our main MIAMI website

If you want to join me please leave a message  on the forum -  to ask any queries and share advice as well as posting pictures of your own quilts.

See also: Quilts at the V&A
Making a journal quilt

Clare F

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Anyone tried Streetbank yet?

Still in the old Blitz spirit of sharing and being neighbourly, I've just come across an interesting website, Street Bank, which shows you what your neighbours are prepared to give away or lend. It claims to give you access to a whole load of stuff, is good for the environment, saves you money and builds community all in one go. 
It's free to join, but you have to show that a bit of community spirit by offering up anything you would be willing to lend or give away. It can be low value items like DVDs, a book or higher value like an old TV or a bed you want to get rid of. (A bit like Freecycle).
I’ve joined and offered to lend out my stepladders (well it's a start!). I have my new homemade Roman blinds to hang so will be calling on the lady who lives 250 yards away and is offering the loan of a power drill.
Check it out at www.streetbank.comor via the link on our Facebook Page under favourite pages