Thursday, 17 April 2014

Domestic Jungle

I'm afraid the dreaded Pinterest has been influencing my life; the continual scroll of beautiful interiors induced a longing for some greenery, and I succumbed. So I'd like to introduce my new green pets, let us see how long I can keep them alive! The boyfriend obtained a macro lens for me, so enjoy some close-ups of my baby succulents. Look at the cells :)

On the journey home I managed to knock off a couple of leaves from the succulents, which have now sprouted roots, so hopefully some new plants will be on their way. I think it is a true wonder of nature that plants can regrow a whole new body from pretty much any part, or maybe it is just the science geek in me? I also have some jade plant cuttings on the go, free plants are a winner. So, plants! Oxygen!

Calathea, cuttings

Cute succulents soaking up the morning rays

Roots from a leaf

Maidenhair fern

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Sew for Victory - Scallops Galore

Firstly, apologies in advance for the bad photos, especially anyone who is here for pretty scenic views, you might just want to ignore this post ;)

So I thought I would have a stab at Rochelle's Sew for Victory challenge this year. I love historic fashion, and the 1940s has some particularly appealing shapes. I'm attempting to recreate a scallop fronted dress seen in one of the free downloads Rochelle has released (the green dress on page 5 if you have it). I'm using the Colette Hawthorn pattern, which I have sewn before (pic here), and getting creative with the modifications.

This is a first attempt at a muslin of the bodice. I've altered the neckline, added a scallop detail to the button band, and changed the shape of the sleeve and the cuff design. This is all a bit new to me and I have been making it up as I go along, so any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Here is a (bad) photo of the full view, on:
I am quite pleased with the neckline alteration. There are bust dart issues, which seems to be a usual problem for me. They are always too pointy! I think the scallops are working quite well, but I am very much open to suggestions! The original dress only had 3 scallops between the waist and the bottom of the neck opening, so maybe I should make them bigger? I'll make the two sides of the neckline mirror each other, I was just experimenting with the scallop shape.

The scallops are a little messy, but I think that would be improved by more careful sewing, and better fabric.

I used facing and topstitching on the scallops, is this a good technique or is there something better? it was hard to get the points between them neat. Anyone know if topstitching was used in the 40s?

I also used a facing for the cuff, but I'm really not sure this is the best way, as it wants to turn in the wrong way as soon as I put my arm in the sleeve. The point is even sharper than on the button band scallops, so it is even messier!

So, sewing gurus, advice and feedback would be fabulous! I still need to pick out a fabric to make up the final version, I'm not sure whether to go for a plain or floral, decisions decisions...

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

International Woman of Mystery

I lead something of a double life. On weekdays, geeky scientist at the lab bench, and being a good girl eating healthily and exercising. Weekends are generally a completely different situation, country living, baking cakes, wandering wistfully in the can be quite a contrast. There are good things in both lives; I love beautiful Bath, I know the city so well and it really feels like home, but my actual house doesn't really feel like a home, and I miss the countryside and a certain gentleman that resides there. I have lived such a double life for quite a few years now, so the concept of a single living seems quite alien to me, although perhaps I will grow up eventually.

Musings of a sleepy mind, but the point, if there is one, is that inevitably many of my favourite pictures come from the idyllic country life. Here are some recent snapshots, most of which can be found on the dreaded instagram, helping me pretend that my life is some sort of picturesque perfection, although there is the occasional muddy bike pic if you fancy some entertainment!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Bows and Arrows

At the start of this year I gave the Grainline Archer shirt pattern a go. I know I should probably try and build my skills with more simple projects, but the fabulous sew-along and the rave reviews made me want to give it a go. I figure (possibly arrogantly!) I can achieve anything if there are good instructions and I take it slow. This is only wearable muslin status really, but I am quite pleased with how it turned out; I think the main issue is I used a pretty cheap polycotton so there are some frayed edges and it doesn't feel too nice to wear. I'll definitely be making another version in better fabric, and with shorter sleeves, it appears I have short arms!

Prepare now for some silly photos :)

Selfie, like all the cool kids

Not quite sure about my rear view, trying to show the very long sleeves!

 And some construction pics, I am excessively pleased with some of the neat top stitching I achieved!

 Hope you are having a lovely sunny weekend, it is beautiful here in Dorset :)

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Winter Roast Veg Salad

After a rather indulgent weekend last week I felt the need for a good dose of vegetables. After a bit of aimless internet browsing I decided on a wintery salad, making the most of some in season root vegetables. This is a fairly standard Julia recipe, nice and easy! And of course completely flexible as to what veg goes in.

Ingredients (serves 2):
2 carrots
1 pack pre-cooked beetroot (not in vinegar), or could use fresh
2 parsnips
2 small red onions
Couple of handfuls of spinach
Handful of rocket
4 spring onions
Olive oil
Mixed herbs
2-4 Eggs

1. Chop the root veg into even chunks

2. Put in a sandwich bag with a tablespoon of olive oil and some mixed herbs, tie closed and give a good mix by shaking around. this is a nice and easy way of coating the veg in oil without using too much!

3. Empty the oiled veg into an oven dish, stick in a preheated oven (approx. 180C) until well roasted, stirring occasionally. I left mine for about an hour as I was on Skype, and they came out great :)

4. Serve on a bed of spinach, rocket and chopped spring onions, top with one or two fried/poached eggs. You could add some feta or goats cheese too.

 One on my eggs was seriously orange, it tasted good!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Seafoam and Mermaids

We took a walk down to the sea at the weekend to see what was left after all the storms, Durdledoor is still standing at least! I do love this part of the coast, and possibly have enough versions of some of these views to make up an entire calendar of pictures. Hey ho, here are some more for you :) And as I am in a poetic mood, a haiku too...

Heart shines in the 'door
Fierce winds, white horses jump free
Treasure from mermaids

I didn't say it was good ;)

And because I am a biologist and can't help myself, here are some mermaid's purses, which I think may be from a Blonde Ray (Raja brachyura), thanks for an excellent ID guide Shark Trust!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Greyscale and Sepia Tones

Despite the fierce weather doing its level best to blow us off the hill, I am still here, although our bin seems to have disappeared; probably half way to Bristol now... Despite the howling gales I did manage to make it up north for a few days, to the lovely city of Durham. I was there for work and the weather was predictably nasty, but I managed to do a little exploring. It is a very atmospheric place, the massive cathedral and castle sitting in the centre overlooking everything probably have something to do with it. I've also added in a few recent snaps of the lovely Bath, just for comparison ;) That spot by the canal is fast becoming a favourite, and I love walking home over the meadows. I bet not too many people have such a well appointed commute.

Back to Bath...

 Has spring sprung?

Maybe not just yet...