Thirty three materials from my stash

Last week I told you about my current obsession with scrappy quilts and how crazy my next project was and how I planned to sort out the material for it from my stash. I knew that I needed thirty three fat quarters, but as I didn't know what size they were I was none the wiser until I sat down and looked into it further. It seems a fat quarter is a piece of material approximately 18 inches by 22 inches, which was good news for me, as it helped me visualise the amount of material I was after. 

It turns out it also meant finding the material was much more achievable than I thought it might be. As you'll remember I plan to use material I already have, including some from clothes I've cut up rather than buy new material, so it will truly be a scrappy quilt. With my materials chosen I put them together to make sure the tones worked together and no one material, or colour, dominated.

I think it's worked out remarkably well, don't you?



As I looked at the materials together, my geeky-side came to the fore, and I wondered what the balance was on where the fabric originated. I wasn't surprised to learn that a third of these were from earlier donations from my mum. I was surprised to discover I could source the other two-thirds easily!

There's old shirts of both MOH and me, I haven't worn work shirts for many years but couldn't quite get rid of them so cutting them up seemed the next best option. There's old summer dresses, old skirts, part of a duvet cover and material I've bought either in the past or more recently.

With twelve pieces coming from mum, another thirteen are from clothes (and a duvet cover) I've cut up, leaving only eight from material I've bought.  And even that was a while ago; the green fabric at the top of the third column, I bought most probably in the nineties with a plan and a project that never materialised, and the V&A materials were from a trip there shortly after I took a break from working in 2014.


So for completeness, here's where each piece is from, top to bottom, starting in the left column:

1.  An old shirt of MOH's
2. Bought in a scrap bag
3. From mum's stash
4. An old summer dress
5. Bought from the V&A
6. From mum's stash
7. Bought from the V&A
8. From mum's stash
9. Bought online somewhere
10. An old shirt of MOH's
11. An old shirt of mine

12. An old summer dress
13. An old shirt of mine
14. An old skirt of mine
15. A childhood favourite
16. From mum's stash
17. From mum's stash
18. An old shirt of mine
19. From mum's stash
20. Bought from the V&A
21. An old shirt of mine
22. An old top of mine

23. Bought and never used
24. From mum's stash
25. Part of an old duvet cover
26. From mum's stash
27. From mum's stash
28. An old shirt of mine
29. From mum's stash
30. A childhood favourite
31. An old shirt of mine
32. Bought at the V&A
33. Bought at the V&A

Which means, it truly meets my brief of a scrappy quilt. Now for the next stage of actually cutting the thirty squares from each piece I need...

And then the hard work can really start!

The roof garden, the Big Easy and a virtuous dinner

We've been out and about a lot this weekend, with a trip to Taste of London at Tobacco Dock more of which soon, followed by a stop off in Canary Wharf, for dinner on the way home. Sometimes you just have days when you're out, and it makes sense to stay out, and this was one of those. Not an out-out day, just out. I'm too old for out-out without any preparation, sadly.

Our initial thoughts were to do some Christmas shopping in Canary Wharf on the way home, and while this was good it was slightly flawed. Mainly because I hadn't thought about what to buy people and mostly because my feet hurt. I'm not sure what I've done to them, well the right one precisely but it's sore and shoes that are comfortable and I can walk in weren't really doing the job. 

A hasty change of plan saw us heading to The Big Easy instead. And I quickly realised that we could walk outside in the rain, along the covered quayside or through the roof garden. You'll already know which route we took, won't you?

It's somewhere I've been meaning to go for a while and not quite made it there. And now that I have I want to go back in daylight. The garden sits above the new Crossrail station in Canary Wharf and is a 300 metre enclosed garden which is open daily until 9pm (or sunset in summer). It draws on the area's heritage as a trading hub and uses plants native to the countries visited by the ships of the West India Dock company who were based here 200 years ago.

And within its space there's a performance space that is used in the summer for a programme of theatre and music. Must remember to check that out when it warms up again.  It was starting to rain as we visited, but as we walked through the space it was impossible not to stop and admire how the lights were shining through the trees. And the wooden and concrete benches, which also caught my eye.

Tree fern in the roof garden in crossrail place in Canary Wharf
The path leading you through the roof garden in crossrail place in Canary Wharf
Admiring the roof garden in crossrail place in Canary Wharf at night
A wooden and concrete bench in the roof garden in crossrail place in Canary Wharf
Tree fern in the roof garden in crossrail place in Canary Wharf
Trees in the roof garden in crossrail place in Canary Wharf

Even from these photos you can see it's a great space and definitely something to explore further in daylight. And so we arrived at the Big Easy, we'd seen it from the DLR earlier and had previously eaten in the Covent Garden restaurant. We were shown to the Captain's Room and somehow neither of us were expecting quite so much wood, or the blue and white china stacked opposite our positions at the large - and I mean large table, which could easily seat thirty or so people.

In the Captain's room at the Big Easy in Canary Wharf, a room that celebrates wood
In the Captain's room at the Big Easy in Canary Wharf, a room that celebrates wood
In the Captain's room at the Big Easy in Canary Wharf, a room that celebrates wood

We ordered our food, pork ribs for me and lobster mac and cheese for MOH and it wasn't long before the most ginormous trays of food arrived. On my plate, or skillet, there were four gigantic pork ribs, barbeque beans and coleslaw. We knew when it arrived that we'd been wise to forgo any kind of starter. 

And I had no idea how I'd make it through this meal. As usual I forgot to take pictures, this time because of the shock, I think. So with two ribs done (and some of those given to MOH) I was done, MOH had done well on his equally gigantic portion of lobster mac and cheese, but felt he could help out on the ribs. Partway through he realised his mistake and admitted defeat. Both mains were tasty and good value, but huge. So large that I asked to bring the meat home.

And that's where the virtuous meal comes in. 

We finished the ribs tonight as part of our dinner. Yes that's how large the portion was, I used them in a broad bean and sweetcorn pilaf for the two of us. So leftovers at their best. And even more virtuousness for us as the broad beans, sweetcorn, onions and garlic all came from our allotment (the first two courtesy of the freezer!).



Our Big Easy rib, broad bean and sweetcorn pilaf recipe

2 left over ribs from a Big Easy meal (or any leftover meat)
3 handfuls of broad beans, double podded
3 handfuls of frozen sweetcorn
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp of turmeric, ground cumin and ground coriander
4 cardamom pods, split with a knife
1 clove
1/2 a cinnamon stick
120g basmati rice, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
250ml chicken or vegetable stock

To make the pilaf

1. Fry the onion and garlic in a tablespoon of vegetable oil until they are soft.

2. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, cardamom pods, clove and cinnamon stick and cook for another couple of minutes.

3. Drain the rice and add to the pan with the stock, leftover meat, broad beans and sweetcorn. Cover with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes until the rice is cooked.

4. Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt, some lemon juice, coriander leaves and black pepper.

It really was as easy as that. It tasted great and was a good way to make use of both our allotment produce and the leftover meat. What's your favourite way to use leftovers?


Propagating some succulents

I do seem to have luck with succulents, in that they seem to grow for me, so I thought I'd see how far I could push that luck. And the short answer is, quite far.  On a trip to the garden centre to buy a couple of succulents I noticed some discarded leaves in the bottom of the trays, so after checking with the staff there I left with my bedding plants, a couple of succulent plants and quite a few of those discarded leaves. 

I wanted to see if I could get them to grow. And basically, get some free plants. 

Unsure quite how to proceed I started by stuffing one leaf into a pot. While it didn't die, it didn't really grow either. But what I noticed was the leaves I'd not done anything with were starting to form roots. 

Checking the internet I learnt that the trick is to make a clean cut - oops, too late there and to leave the leaves to dry out. So once again the conservatory - home of the succulents - was called into action. During the warm weather it was the ideal place for some low effort propagating. 

The idea was for the leaves to dry out, which seemed counter-productive to producing new plants, but after a week or so, look what happened.

succulents starting to propagate

My free succulent leaves were starting to sprout new flowers and what I assume are roots. At this stage I put them near some soil. Not in soil. On it. I used a gritty soil as succulents seem to like that. I really wasn't sure what would happen. All I needed to do, apparently, was to keep the soil moist.

transfer the leaves to a pot

And sure enough, they started to grow.

Growing some new succulents from a leaf

And now, I have a new generation of succulents from a few leaves that had been knocked off the plants.  Including a couple of new-to-me varieties.

New plants
Actually lots of new plants with very little effort

It's so easy I couldn't believe it, and so easy I bet you could do it too. In fact the hardest thing was the waiting! 

Let me know how you get on if you give it a try.