A Teacup’s Tale, part 2

A few months ago, I began the story of my first china teacup purchase, made during my impoverished student years. Sadly, a crack developed and the cup could no longer be used to serve tea. Sentimentally, I wasn’t ready to trash it.

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Receiving inspiration and instruction from one of my favourite Youtube persons, Debbie Shore, I decided to re-purpose this cup and saucer and turn it into a very useful “pin cushion”.

This is how to make one:

In addition to the cup and saucer,  these materials and supplies are needed:

a piece of cotton fabric, needle and thread,  a generous handful of stuffing material (I used kapok), scissors, hot glue gun and glue, trim

Cut the fabric into a circle, about 26 cm diameter. Thread the needle and sew a running stitch about 10 mm from the edge of the circle. Pull up the thread to gather the circle into a ball,  stuffing it as you go. Pull both ends of the thread and tie together. (The ball should be stuffed quite firmly).

Run a line of hot glue around the inside of the cup:

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and adhere the fabric ball to the top of the teacup, placing the stitched side down.teacup-pincushion-6

Next, run a generous amount of hot glue around the depression in the saucer and adhere the teacup to it.

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Finally, using more hot glue, apply the trim to the  bottom of the teacup where it joins the saucer. This hides any glue that may have oozed out. teacup-pincushion-8

This has to be my very favourite pin cushion, ever! I love how it sits firmly on my sewing table and looks so pretty, too!teacup-pincushion-9

And that’s the rest of the story.

 

A Currant Event

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This story had its beginnings many years ago when, as a child, I went with my parents to my great uncle’s farm to pick currants – both black and red. I remember being told that the black ones were to be picked individually. It was easier to pick the red ones because  they could be picked with their stems attached. I’m not sure how much I helped filling the baskets but it is a fond memory and I have loved black and red currant berries ever since.

Three years ago a DF gave us three black currant bushes to plant. I knew not to expect any fruit the first two years, so it was exciting to discover tiny green blossoms on the plants this spring and even more exciting was the fact that bees were buzzing from flowers to flower. Over the weeks since I have checked the progress of our very first currant crop, watching the berries turn from green to red to black. Finally, it was time to pick. Under the blazing July sun I sat at each bush and carefully picked the fruit sampling the odd one or two. Blackcurrants-2

When I had finished I’d managed to half fill a 3L basket – not bad for a first crop.

Black Currant Syrup

300g black currants

125 ml raw honey

150 ml water

juice from 1/2 lemon

Wash the black currants and remove any green stems that may still be attached.

Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and cook very gently over a low heat for two hours.Blackcurrants-3

Line a sieve with cheesecloth, and suspend the sieve over a large enough pan to contain the  juice.  Pour the cooked berries into the cheesecloth and allow them to drip overnight:

The next day pour the strained syrup into a sterilized jar and store in the refrigerator.

This yielded 250ml of syrup, (and about an equal amount of mashed berries):

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Enjoy the syrup as a refreshing cordial: add a  large spoonful to sparkling water and ice.

The mashed berries: well I plan to mix a generous spoonful with my favourite unflavoured yogurt.

Black currants are an excellent source of vitamin C –  better than oranges!

Loving Lavender

The other night DH and I were watching an episode of Downton Abbey. One of the  characters, (Daisy), was busy in the kitchen stripping the dried flowers from lavender stems. She mentioned that the flowers were going to be made into sachets which would then be used to scent clothing and linen cupboards. Lavender scent famously repels moths as well.

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It was a long, cold winter and I worried that my English lavender plants would be killed off. Happily all three survived, are in full bloom, fragrant and abuzz with wild bees.

Feeling confident about their ability to thrive in our less than optimal growing conditions I thought I’d try an experiment to see if I could propogate lavender from stem cuttings. I found abundant  information on the internet  with directions to do this.

The first step was to take a few woody stem cuttings using a very sharp knife:

After stripping the leaves from the bottom 5 cm and removing the flower from the top end I dipped the bottom end into root stimulator; natural unpasteurized honey.

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I had prepared a clay pot ahead of time by soaking it overnight in water. When I was ready to take the cuttings I filled the pot with potting soil.fullsizeoutput_68

The prepared cuttings were then inserted into the soil, evenly spaced around the edges of the pot.

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Finally, I enclosed the entire pot in a clear plastic bag and placed the pot in a bright window.

 

Only time will tell whether my experiment is successful.

Valentine’s Day and Your Heart

In another life I think I must have been a bear, because I certainly do like to hibernate! Here we are at Valentine’s Day 2018 and I have been neglecting this blog. Hopefully I haven’t been neglecting my heart health though, getting daily exercise and watching my diet.

February is Heart and Stroke Month and because so many  in my circle of friends and family have suffered from heart disease, and/ or stroke, I campaign for donations to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Two facts: every seven minutes, heart disease or stroke take a Canadian life, and family history can double your risk of heart disease or stroke.* Even more sobering is the fact that heart disease and stroke are the number one killer of women globally. *

On a lighter note, today is Valentine’s Day, which we associate with love. I was curious how the heart became the symbol for love and found out that ancient Greeks believed that the heart was the organ that controlled feelings and emotions.

Way back when, as a school child, I learned the tradition of exchanging Valentine cards with my friends and it always seemed that the teacher used making a  card for “Mum and Dad” as an “art lesson”. In keeping with that tradition,  here is a simple card with tips for tools that make the process easier:

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A paper trimmer

Since I was using a 13.9 X 13.9 card blank, I wanted to trim the sheet of red card stock to fit inside.

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A die cutting machine and dies

Next, I die cut a heart shape from the front of the white card blank.

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Using the die cutting machine and word dies, I cut out the words “love” and “you” above the cut- out heart, and embossed the bottom of the card front.

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Scoring board and bone folder

The red card stock needed to be folded to fit inside the card. A score board and bone folder make it easy to get a good, crisp fold

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I applied double sided tape to the perimeter of the card front using a “tape runner”. Then I applied liquid glue in spots around the cut out words and heart shape. The folded red card stock was placed inside the white card and adhered to it. To my horror, I discovered a sticky smudge on the front of my card, so I cut some more red hearts using the leftover scrap of card stock. I glued them randomly over the front, thereby disguising the ugly smudge.

Inside the card, I glued a white paper doily and wrote the words “lots”. Valentine-11

Simple, and fun to make.

As always, I hope you have a happy day and take your health to heart.

*According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.