Friday, December 14, 2007


Today's SBQ was suggested by Nancy
( and is:

Do you do anything special to your threads before putting them through
your fabric to make them more manageable?

For ordinary or overdyed flosses, no. For rayon, I swipe it with a very slightly damp make up sponge - it helps stop the kinkies. For metallic braid, I don't use anything, but for metallic stranded floss, I use Thread Heaven (when I can find it). Also, for metallic floss, I use shorter lengths and knot it to the eye of the needle.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Spiced Butternut Squash & Coconut Soup

Over on my other blog, I mentioned I was going to have this soup for lunch, and immediately came the request for the recipe! Well, I call it a recipe, it's more of a guideline for making your own... My friend J makes a variant using pumpkin, and just cumin seeds for spicing, leeks instead of onion, and with a tin of coconut milk ... that's what I like about soup, it can be varied at will, with whatever's to hand. I've not made a truly bad soup yet! I find I can be creative with soup in a way I'm not with other dishes, and I'm willing to try all sorts of combinations...


1 butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into chunks
1 large onion, peeled and sliced or finely chopped (it doesn't really matter, the soup is going to be blitzed)
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (okay, I cheat, the last two ingredients are the "Very Lazy" stuff that comes in jars)
1 tablespoon garam masala (this I grind from the whole spices, but the mix is ready made - use your favourite curry powder or spice paste, to taste)
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds (ground with the garam masala, as I adore cardamom!)
100g - 150g creamed coconut (the stuff that comes in a block), in small pieces
vegetable stock, hot (I used about 1.2l, made with Swiss Bouillon powder, but it will depend on the size of your squash and how runny you like your soup).
3 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil

optional garnish: fresh coriander


Heat the oil in a large pan, and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Sweat gently until the onion is slightly softened. Add the squash and spices, and stir well until all are evenly coated with oil and ground spice. Add stock and bring to boil. Simmer until squash is soft - about 15 minutes or so but longer won't hurt. Take off the heat, and blend until smooth with a jug or stick blender. Return/keep the soup in the pan, and add the creamed coconut in small pieces - blend or stir well to mix. Taste to see how much coconut you want - and bear in mind, the flavour is a little stronger on simmering or reheating. If your soup is a little thick, add more water or stock. If it's a little thin, you can thicken it with a little cornflour made into a paste. It will thicken on storage in the fridge - mine looked like mousse this lunchtime! If you're being smart, you can serve garnished with chopped fresh coriander.

I think this would be nice with a little chilli kick in it, as well.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Okay, okay, I know I'm on a stash diet, but what can a girl do when faced with 8 boxes of kits for sale in her favourite charity shop? I don't know if they were someone's stash (in which case, it makes me look like an amateur) or if they were from a shop that has closed (although I can't think of one locally) but I was so pleased I dropped in on my way back from working on my Creative Media project.

All the kits were being sold for £5 each, in aid of the local hospice, so I didn't feel too guilty about buying the stash, as it was in aid of a good cause! Most of the kits were a bit too floral for me (no sheep or bees!) but I did get the following:

London Skyline - Heritage Stitchcraft

This reminds me of a lovely holiday DP (Dear Partner) and I had. My closest friend J was living in a flat in St Katherine's Dock (ie 5 minutes walk from the Tower of London) at the time and we made the most of being in the heart of the city, walking up and down the Thames, taking in all the sights. We used the river taxis a couple of times to go to Greenwich, too. It was a special time for us. DP is originally from Canada, although his late father was a Cockney from the East End of London, and it was nice to introduce him to his heritage - although I think it boggled his mind a bit!

The Pyramids - Heritage Stitchcraft

This is a reminder of a fantastic holiday I had in Egypt (pre-DP) - I adored Egypt and I would love to go back someday! I got to go on a camel safari in Aswan, and I thought the bad reputation camels have for being grumpy and smelly was undeserved :o) It's quite strange though, as the riding position is quite a long way from the ground, and there's usually not much in the way of a saddle, or stirrups!

Blackwork Sampler - DMC

I liked this when it first came out, but couldn't justify buying it at the time - it was nearly £20 and I do have a lot of sampler charts! I gave into temptation though, especially as the floss colours looked so nice in the kit - nicer than the picture, actually.

Autumn in the Square - Just Nan

I couldn't resist the chart and charm for £1, could I? I don't really like the charm, but the chart is sweet! Just Nan can sometimes be a bit too flowery and girly for me, but I do like this chart - I probably won't stitch the others in the series though - well, not if I have to pay full price! :o)

Hopefully, I'm going to have some time to stitch these, but these might have to wait for my retirement - only 27 years to go until I'm 65... :o)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Still here...

Sorry I've been a bit quiet this last week or so - since getting back from my weekend away, I've been caught up with end-of-semester stuff - all our assessment seems to be coming at once, especially as one tutor "suggested" that our multi media projects should be ready to burn to DVD one week before the formal submission date... grrrr... this is on top of the documentation and reflection for this project, plus another essay, plus the reading we're required to do ...

I did take the day off yesterday to go to a yoga and meditation day run by a friend, which was much needed, but it's back to uni today to do some more video editing and working on a computer animation sequence... as you can imagine, not a lot of stitching is getting done!

I am reading the blogs I can (my favourites list did strange things last week, our computer is ailing) but I'm sorry I'm not commenting - hopefully I will be caught up with my work soon and can get back to it!

I do have some pictures to post, too.