Saturday, 15 March 2014

LOVE


Well it's been nearly a month and since I last popped by and what a roller coaster of a month . As some of you who pop by my Handmade Over Yonder page on facebook  will know my life was plunged into turmoil when my mum had a serious accident nearly a month ago .

It was the middle of the school holidays when I received a telephone call at 8.20 am from  my frantic sister in a taxi trying to get back home to my very injured mum and my sisters two youngest children ( aged 5 and 10 ) . All we knew was my mum had taken a tumble and was not in a good way ( I will leave out the gruesome details )and the ambulance was on it's way . All I can say is that it has at times  been traumatic , emotional and exhausting . Our lives have been chaotic for the last few weeks while we coped with and juggled everything . The medical teams have been truly impressed by my mums courage and determination to get through this ordeal . She suffered a major head trauma , 3 spinal fractures and broke both wrists and looked like she had been hit by a bus not fallen off four steps .

She in now on the road to recovery , it will be a long journey possibly 3 months but she is extremely motivated and very positive and is receiving excellent care . She is now back at the Hospital in Bradford after a stint in Leeds and is now on a ward right next door to the one where my little sister is a Sister on  . I have spent a lot of time travelling and juggling my home life with visiting and doing jobs for my mum and taking care of my boys but family always comes first and we must care for those who are vulnerable and  need our help . So I have had to switch myself off to the less important aspects of my life and put various things on hold .

So my little business has had to be neglected for a few weeks but this last week I felt it was time to get back  in The Studio and get down to some work . Even my mum commented on Thursday after I'd had  3 days in The Studio that I didn't look as stressed as I  had .That is the affect of a bit of sewing and creating has on me  .




For three days I had been surrounded by sunlight , colour and texture . My hands were busy creating and my mind buzzing with lots of ideas .

But something special has happened in The Studio ...............LOVE !








                                                            MR & MRS MILL MOUSE



It has been a joy to work on this lovely couple this week . I particularly love her skirt made from a piece of old textiles I  bought from a local Antique shop and I adore the little flowers I made from cotton tape that has a tape measure printed on it  . I am now eager to work on the rest of my Mill mice that are laid out on my work table waiting to come to life  . The happy couple will be heading to my Etsy shop ( link button @ the top right hand side of this page ) as soon as my packaging arrives and I have given the presentation box a little design tweak .
My life has demands on it at present that are important and cannot be ignored and my loved ones will always be my priority and any thing else I manage to achieve is a bonus . If you have contacted me recently please bare with me I will reply to you and I will announce on my Facebook page ( Handmade over Yonder ) when my Yorkshire Mill Mice  are available and heading to my etsy shop . I will try and pop by here as often as I can too .
Take care of yourselves and those around you and enjoy the rest of your weekend , thanks for popping by and ta ta for now .
                                    TRACY xx


Monday, 17 February 2014

Well I think  I'm getting my creative mojo back .
The past week has been a week of planing and creating.
Friday saw me start planning a new crochet blanket , I really want to make a squishy aran ripple blanket for our bed . So I've made a little purchase to get me started , some very soft and very squishy Rico merino aran , I've started my chain and am very excited about getting the blanket started but feel it may be a long term project as it is to go on a King size bed ( Ooooo I think I may also need to take out a small mortgage to fund the project too !! lol ) . 


 I am very much in love with these four colours 



 I've also had a real  fun time in the kitchen over the past week , I sooooooo love being in my kitchen and am never happier than when I'm making something for others .

First of all  my youngest niece had her birthday to celebrate and Auntie Tracy never turns up without baked goods . So I had a little play !



  A very good friend had her  birthday yesterday and she was having a house party to celebrate . Well it would have been rude not to turn up with celebratory cup cakes ( buns ) . Our friend absolutely adores Joules clothing so with that in mind that was the colour theme I chose for her birthday buns . Oh what fun I had creating these buns and one evening a very dear friend helped too , there was a quick demo on flower making and there may have also been a little Damson gin consumed as well (  and what a very good friend she is too to put up with my sometimes very bossy nature ! thanks Sam x) .

 So after two evenings of forming fondant flower it was time to start decorating .


 I love this part !





 It was wonderful to see her face when she saw her buns , 30 special buns for a fabulous lady .

I must confess or as you may have gathered by now with all the baking that goes on in my house , I have a very sweet tooth . But I am trying to make a real effort to watch what I eat , as are a lot of my family and friends . I am also trying out some new recipes  on the family and this next one has been a great success . If you are trying to cut down on your fat intake this is a great way to cook tasty spicy chicken .

You will need  : chicken thighs and or chicken drum stick I use a mix of both , 6 x thighs & 4 drum sticks ,                                which feed our family of four .
                       : 2 tbsp Cajun spices
                       : The juice of 1 Lime
                       : 250 g Fat free natural yogurt


 In a dish mix together the yogurt the Cajun spices and the Lime juice .
Then remove all the skin from the chicken pieces and score the meat .


 Next coat all the chicken pieces with the yogurt mix .
You can either cook straight away or cover in a dish and leave to marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours .
 Next  spread out the chicken pieces on  baking trays , You don't really need to cook with any oil as lots of natural juices come out of the chicken which you can then use to occasionally baste the meat . If you don't have non stick trays to bake with put about a teaspoon of cooking oil in the tray and using a pastry brush liberally brush the tray to create a non stick surface . Place the trays of chicken ( I usually have two ) in a hot oven , mine is usually at 200 degrees for about 30 to 40 mins , but all ovens vary so yours may take a longer or shorter time than in my oven . Remove chicken from oven when it is cooked and juices run clear , enjoy the spicy juicy chicken with  the happy thought that it really healthy too .

I've also had lots of creative planing going on in The Studio this week as Lucy and I get a programme of workshops started . So I've been working with Rachel from Bewitched by stitch to work out the next 4 Rag rug related workshops especially as the ones before Christmas were so very popular . We thought our first one would be an Easter Rag Rug Wreath day workshop . Which takes place on the Saturday the 1st of March from 10 am to 4 pm in The Studio and this a perfect opportunity for anyone who is interested to have a gentle introduction to the art of prodded rag rugging . Below is just an example of what could be achieved in this day workshop . Imaging being able to make and add something like this to a lovely Easter display in your own home .



  If you would like to attend please visit www.creativecoopers.blogspot.co.uk and go to the workshop page for course information and visit the contacts page to contact me . Alternatively you could message me on my Facebook page , Handmade Over Yonder  to arrange securing a place and places have already started to go .
Now I'm looking forward to spending a week at home and  being out and about with Mr P and our boys . 
Thanks for popping by and ta ta for now .
Tracy xx

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

A thread of connections

Isn't it strange how days can turn out ! 

Recently I've been in a real slump , some days  I've wanted to throw in the towel with my business and get a job ( which would = a wage at the end of the month ) and make my creations as a hobby . There has been some serious internal dialogue and arguments going on inside my head , I've been battling with the love for what I do and make with the serious lack of money . But as always I solider on trying to keep faith in what I'm trying to achieve . I have had some lovely moments recently, especially when my first batch  for 2014 of Mr Foxes were finished . This is what makes it all worth while , when my little creations are finished  they go off to new homes to be loved and admired and it is the fact that my handmade items are giving other people such pleasure that spurs me on and I do love making them .
 One Mr Fox had  to stay with us and has become the newest member of our Family on the insistence of
our youngest ( I had previously promised him  one and how could I refuse !!)

But little events and conversations yesterday started even more cogs turning in my head  , as Mondays go it was a pretty normal start to the week even though my head wasn't in a good place . I had decided to work at home when Rachel who teaches our Rag Rug workshops popped in to see me ( she is a neighbour as well as a friend ) and she had arrived with samples she had finished for our next round of Rag Rug related workshops . The last time we met I had shown her some images of old spools of threads I had photographed which I intend on framing and hanging up in the communal area in Coppers outside of The Studio . At which point she had promised to lend me some old spools of Dewhurst sewing thread she had and they had the name of our town on . I thought it would be apt to have large images of them hung up at The Studio as we are virtually next door to the old Dewhurst Mill where they were originally spun . So yesterday I photographed the beautiful little spools , I do so adore the tactile nature if these little every day objects . 
Then last night I had our Monday evening crochet group at my house , one of the ladies that attended I have got to know through coming to one of our Rag rug work shops as well as  having mutual friends . She also works at my eldest sons school and through our conversation and talking about photographing the Dewhurst spools she went on to tell me that my son went to school in what once was the  Dewhurst Mill owners Family home ( built in the 1850's) and she has the daily pleasure of sitting in the old sewing room as her office . Well I was quite giddy at finding this information out and apparently our huge park which is at the top of our street and many of you Yarndale visitors may have walked through was the private garden to the house and the mill was at the bottom of the garden . 

Then the thought of what have I been making for the last two days popped into my head ,  My Yorkshire Mill Mice . If ever there was a sign that  I'm on the right track and to hang on in there it  and not give up now , then I felt that this was it .
 This change in my perception of things  has all come about because of these Dewhurst spools and the fine threads of connection they have made in my very ordinary daily life . It has made me feel like I'm in the right place at the right time . 
Weird !!
So this evening I am feeling more grounded and positive and very excited at working on my Yorkshire Mill mice . 

My family for generations back have had connections with either the weaving or spinning in the wool mills of Yorkshire or the manual production of textiles . We have ancestors on one side of the family with continuous connection in the production of textiles that dates to the late 1700's and they  were frame work stocking knitters . 
I think textiles is part of my genetic make up and I know I do romanticise about the past and sometimes the cold hard reality of trying to make a small living jumps up and bites me on the butt . 

I do think it's strange how a bobbin of thread from the past can create so many connections in one day !!
But it does ground me to look into the past and see I am part of a long line of ancestors stretching back hundreds of years that have been involved in textiles . From Frame Work Stocking Knitters , Dress Makers , Miliners , Weavers , Spinners and me a Designer Maker and Yorkshire is definately where my heart is .

But thanks for popping by and I hope you don't think I've totally lost the plot , honestly I am quite sane .
Have a lovely week and ta ta for now , Tracy xx

Sunday, 12 January 2014

OOoooooo cake!!












Well , it's a slow flowing Sunday in our home today and  I've finished my chores for the day ( well for now anyway ! ) . There's a beef stew slowly cooking   in the oven ( stew and dumplings for tea , yum yum ) and a coffee and walnut cake sat next to it in the oven ( I must remember to check on it ! ) . In fact my whole weekend has been at a steady pace , which I have thoroughly enjoyed . I'm now sat on the sofa the open fire is crackling and I have my lap top on my knee .


My first working week of the new year has been a good one , I'm pacing myself and taking time to enjoy other things in my life , I've spent quality time with my children and Mr P . and I've especially enjoyed being at home too . I love our little house and I have been doing lots of pottering and baking , I had been getting very grumpy about how neglected the house had started looking before my Christmas break . But I am now back in my happy place where our home is concerned  . I now feel it is back to giving me a big warm and welcoming hug when I walk through the door , where as before Christmas I felt the house just stared at me when I  came through the door saying  " Oh it's you is it  !! " . I truly feel my house has a personality and it let's me know when it's not happy . This weekend I've been moving bits of furniture and bit's and pieces we have , I do like to change things around seasonally to create different looks in the house . So I've taken a little table from our bedroom to put in the bay window in our living room as I've been wanting somewhere that plants and flowers can be sat in the very limited day light we have . This idea had sprung into my head from  a plan for a flower arrangement I had hatched very early Saturday morning .  Whilst stood at the sink washing up the breakfast pots on Saturday morning and looking at my humble back yard dreaming of spring and summer planting projects . I spotted two little pots of Tete-a-tete's from last year( Inever throw them away when they have finished flowering but usually plant the bulbs so they flower in the garden the folowing year , but these I had left in pots ) that I had kept in a sheltered position and they had sprung back into life . Bing !! a flash of an idea  started whirling around my head . The thing is , I do love fresh flowers in my house , who doesn't ? But particularly in cash strapped January there isn't much money for such things . This idea I had was going to create a floral feature in our home for spring with no cost , a result I like !!

First job was I needed a container to put the arrangement in and after dithering over several options I decided on one of my vintage glass cake stands ( actually I think it is a Bon Bon dish ) anyway , I also needed some moss . I've done spring buld arrangements before with dried florists moss but I had none to hand but I knew where I could get some fresh moss, my front garden wall !! Out I went collecting moss from our wall and there was plenty to harvest .
So I had all the things I needed and set too . Firstly I arranged the bulds into the glass container.
                                        Then I started to cover the bulbs and soil with the moss.


               Here's the final result , I am really pleased with the arrangement and it didn't cost a penny !!


I am really looking forward to them flowering !
I am also looking forward to changing the look of my little table with the seasons . However I do think I could do with some stems of Pussy Willow for the galvanised jug , but I will have to see if this weeks budget can stretch to it !
I have also got back into spending time baking which is good , as I have said before I do use it to relax and de-stress . In the last week the family have put  their requests in and they have all enjoyed ........................
 home made Lemon curd .Which I then used to make some delicious, melt in the mouth Lemon curd cookies ( as well as some Cherry jam ones too as the eldest isn't keen on Lemon curd ) .


Here's the recipe if you fancy giving the Lemon Curd Cookies a go .
Cookies:
Ingredients:
1 Cup  ( 230 g ) unsalted butter , softened to room temperature .
2/3 cup (134 g ) granulated sugar .
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract .
1/2 teaspoon Almond extract .
2 cups + 2 tbsp ( 264 g) All purpose flour ( Plain flour ) .
Lemon Curd ( or a jam of your own preference ) .
Glaze:
 1 cup (12 g ) of Icing Sugar .
1 tbsp ( 15 g ) cream or milk .
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla or Almond extract .

Instructions :
: Firstly beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until creamy .
: Then add the sugar and beat together .
: Then add the Vanilla and almond extract and beat into the mixture .
: Then gradually add the flour to this rather wet mixture until you have used up all the flour and have a mixture that has formed into a dough .
: Then wrap your cookie dough in cling film and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 & 1/2 hours .
: While the dough is chilling prepare a baking sheet or two if you have them with baking parchment .
: Your Oven will need to be up to temperature @ 180 degrees C (350 degrees F ). Don't have your oven really hot as these cookies will burn .
: Once the cookie dough is chilled take it out of the fridge .
: Divide your mixture into approx 24 equal amounts and roll into small balls .
: Place some of them onto your baking sheet with plenty of space in between each cookies as they do spread . I only put between 6 to 8 on my baking sheets , so it does take a few batches of baking to cook them all .
: Make a small indentation in the centre of each cookie ball using one of you fingers . Then fill this indentation with the Lemon curd ( or any other jam you fancy ) , I roughly used about 1/2 teaspoon and was careful not to over fill the indentation . Try not to flatten the ball of dough too much as they will spread and flatten in the heat of the oven .
:Bake for between 12-14 minute and just as they start to go golden on the edges take them out of the oven and leave to start cooling on the tray . Once they have solidified enough transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling off . Repeat this process with the remaining cookies .
: While they are cooling make the glaze , mix the dry and wet ingredients together.  If the consistency is too stiff to drizzle add a few drops of water a drop at a time until you have a good consistency for drizzling .
: Once the cookies are cold and on the rack get a fork and use it to drizzle the glaze in wavy lines .
: Leave the glaze to set .
: Then enjoy , they are soooooooo very moreish !!

Another bake I have done this week is a Russian poppy seed cake , this is a lovely loaf style cake that is simple and has a delicate flavour .It come out of a much loved baking book called ' easy cakes & cookies ' published by Ryland Peters & Small .  After all the rich food at Christmas this cake is a simple delight . Here's the recipe as I know there are a few of you who are waiting for me to post this one  .

Russian poppy seed cake
Ingredients : Serves 8-12
: 115 g ( 3/4 cup ) poppy seeds
: 160 ml ( 2/3 cup ) milk .
: 125 g or 1 stick of butter @ room temperature .
: 250 g  ( 1 1/3 cups ) caster or granulated sugar
: 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract .
: 2 eggs separated .
: 200 g ( 1 1/3 cups ) plain or All purpose flour .
: 2 teaspoons baking powder .
: 1/4 teaspoons sea salt .
: icing/confectioners sugar, for dusting .

: A 900-g/ 2-lbs loaf tin/pan , greased .( I line my tin with baking parchment which makes it much easier to remove from the tin /pan )

Instructions :
: Put the poppy seed in a food processor or blender , process for about a minute until the seeds are finely chopped and have a damp looking appearance .
Tip the seed into a sauce pan then add the milk and then bring to the boil only stirring once or twice. Remove from the heat and leave to sit for about an hour .
: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 350 degrees F .
: Put the butter & sugar in a bowl and beat together until smooth and creamy . Beat in the Vanilla extract the and egg yolks . Add the poppy seed and milk mixture and mix well .
: In a separate bowl combine the flour , baking powder and salt . Then sift it into the poppy seed mixture and fold in .
: In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff , then fold this mixture into the cake mixture a spoonful at a time .
: Put the mixture into the prepared  loaf tin/pan and level the surface .
: Bake for about an hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre come out clear .
: Leave to cool on a wire rack .
: Dust liberally with the Icing/ confectioners  sugar .

: Then serve and enjoy !!




I really am enjoying being more relaxed compared to the pre Christmas stressed me !! I think my family and friends are too .  I have a busy  (  but manageable busy ) week ahead , I may even de -camp at home this week as I have a lot of school interruptions to my working week which is fine but the less tooing and froing I do the better . Now I have a sewing machine at home as well as the studio it really isn't a problem if I have to work around the children and be at home for a few days . Where ever I end up working tomorrow I am eager to carry on working on my Mr Foxes and have a batch finished very soon .
Thanks for popping by and I hope my post doesn't scupper anyone's post Christmas diets .
Have a lovely week ahead and ta ta for now .
Tracy xx