Lunch Club Tea Party

by Helen on August 16, 2013

It’s lovely living in a small friendly community, where in general people know one another and where we are happy to keep an eye on our elderly and vulnerable neighbours.  

One of the nicest community schemes is our parish lunch club (I would say that, as I’m one of the organisers!) where we serve a home-cooked meal to around 30 local pensioners every Thursday lunch time during school terms.  We don’t meet in the holidays as many of our helpers have childcare responsibilities once the schools are out – but we are very conscious that, for at least some of our members, the lunch club is one of their few social activities during the week.  To try to compensate just a little, we hold our annual Tea Party in the middle of the summer holidays – and this year’s took place yesterday. Large quantities of sandwiches were prepared …

Lunch Club Party

 Brown and white bread – Hovis of course – and three sorts of fillings.  The village bunting had been booked weeks in advance as it is very much in demand at this time of year.  Other, less well-organised villages, who haven’t got together as we did to make their own, queue up to borrow it for their own fetes and parties.    

Lunch Club Tea Party

And it’s so much fun trying to spot your own flags – at fetes you often hear “Look, there’s grandpa’s old pyjamas!” or “It’s a bit of your dress from when you were six!”  But I digress… 

Lunch Club PartyThe sandwiches quickly disappeared, to be replaced by home made scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream.  

Tea Party

 The helpers are great believers in quality control – it’s important to ensure that the scones are just right!!

Lunch Club Tea Party

All the cakes are homemade, and donated by the helpers.  I made some lemon cup cakes, but they hadn’t been put out yet when I took this picture. Somebody was wondering how many calories were on the kitchen counter – I dread to think!  But all too soon the afternoon was over and it was time to go home.  It wasn’t quite the end though – I was given a lovely slice of chocolate cake to take home with me and I scoffed it last night without sharing any with Ben and Daisy – much to their displeasure!  Delicious!  Then this morning, some work on another project for the September Bustle & Sew Magazine … 

A Nice PearA Nice Pear!



Remember the song from My Fair Lady?   “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain..”  Well I think that the rain in England falls mainly here in Devon – this week at least.  The garden is knee deep in mud, the skies are grey and Ben and Daisy are bored.  But poor old Ben is in the wars again – now he is limping heavily on his left front paw, so he is off once more to his least favourite place.  (sshhhh, whisper – the V-E-T)   I don’t think Daisy is to blame this time – when he was a youngster he broke a bone in that paw, so he’s had a weakness there ever since.

But today is after all the first day of spring, and there’s a definite spring-like feeling developing in the April issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine.  Auriculas have long been a spring favourite, with their myriad of colours and variety of blooms – did you know there are more than 1,500 named varieties in the UK?  Many of their flowers are dusted with an icing-sugar like powder – which is very beautiful – but easily washed away by – guess what – RAIN!!  So over the centuries the idea of an Auricula theatre developed to display them at their very best – possibly the most famous being at Calke Abbey – a National Trust property in Derbyshire….. 


 And so I thought it would be fun to create a mini Auricula theatre to enjoy all year round – mine is a combination of freestyle machine embroidery and hand stitching, using a collection of felt and furnishing fabric scraps….

Auricula Theatre Applique

Mounted on an artist’s canvas block.  And being me – there had to be some animal life in there too!  Can you spot the two little ladybirds? Auricula Theatre Applique

 Here’s one of them (sorry it’s a bit blurry – it’s such a dark grey day for photography).  The Auricula Theatre pattern (together with a little more history about how these theatres came to be) will be in the April Issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine – out next Thursday.  To learn more and subscribe, please click here to visit the magazine page on this website. 


What are these all kinds of ?

by Helen on November 20, 2012

Sideways ….. in-your-face ….. lashing against the windows….. drifting like mist …. stair-rods…. cats and dogs ….. hammering down ….. beating on the skylight ….. getting under your brolly…..  have you guessed yet?

Yes, it’s that frequent visitor to south Devon:


It is simply pouring down.  I’m so pleased that although it was overcast, it remained dry while Rosie was here and on Friday we took a picnic to the beach.  Rosie also took quite a few photos of the furry one (she is his biggest fan) and sent me this shot – spot the tennis ball he is clutching in his mouth!

I think it was supposed to be more of an action shot – we tried to encourage Ben to gallop across the sand, but he preferred more of a stately trot as you can see!  But we had great fun and luckily all the smelly seaweed had washed away again so there was no repeat of the rolling incident!  The upside to the dreadful weather we’re experiencing today though, is that I have been able to spend a guilt-free morning stitching – and with the next issue of the Bustle & Sew magazine out next week, I needed to spend some time finishing off this month’s projects. …

Christmas Dove Wreath

I think felt comes into its own at Christmas – such lovely cheerful colours and so easy to use – no fraying at the edges or worries about joining seams on the bias.  I have used just three colours of felt in my Christmas Dove wreath, plus some hand embroidery details… 

Christmas Dove Wreath

It’s really easy to make and as it’s all hand-stitching it’s a great project to snuggle down with in the evenings.  Sorry about the poor dreadful photo quality in this image – I had to put the light on in the summer house to get any sort of photo as it’s so dark and grey here – but it shows the general idea.  I’ll take some better pictures when the sun comes out again!  

PS – the sun has come out at the end of the day and this is a much nicer picture – I think!

Christmas Dove Wreath


Nature all Around us

by Helen on November 14, 2012

Today is a glorious day – there’s real warmth in the sun and the sky is a wonderful shade of blue, with just a few white fluffy clouds dotted here and there – it’s hard to believe that we’re in mid-November and Christmas is just around the corner.  Ben is snoozing outside in the courtyard, and as soon as I’ve finished this post I’m off to take him for a walk through the woods behind our village.  It’s at this time of year that I become more aware of the animals around us – deer and fox tracks are visible in the mud (yes, the mud has returned!), and often I glimpse a flash of movement in the corner of one eye as a rabbit or pheasant makes good its escape into the undergrowth.  I was thrilled to see two large brown hares chasing across a field of stubble when I last dropped Ben at his favourite kennels a couple of weeks ago – I don’t see hares close up very often. 

Fantastic Fox Applique

One animal that is regarded with very mixed feelings in our village is the fox.  Clever, crafty – and the sworn enemy of chicken-keepers everywhere!  But undeniably a very handsome fellow who features in the first pattern for the December issue of my Bustle & Sew e-zine.  

Fantastic Fox Applique

I’ve tried to reflect his cunning and curious nature in my applique – I didn’t want him to be too cute – and I hope I’ve managed to achieve the right balance.  He’s appliqued in felt and wool on a wool-blend felt background and here I’ve chosen to make him into a cushion cover.   When we lived in Hampshire many years ago (when Rosie was a very little girl), a hedgehog used to visit our garden from time to time.  I don’t see many hedgehogs here, apart from my very own Hodge and Podge – and I don’t really know why that should be as we have so much other wildlife around us. 

Hodge and Podge

Anyway, thinking about Podge, I know that sometimes it can be time-consuming to collect all the ingredients to make a softie like Podge, so I’ve assembled two “Make your Own Podge” kits and listed them in my Etsy Shop.  The vintage linen pouches contain everything you (or a crafty friend) need to make your Podge – including the premium item of ……

Ben at Strete Gate

….  a smooth, round beach pebble carefully selected by my canine assistant for its shape, size and general overall appeal!  (well, it’s about time he did something useful.)  If you’d like a Podge kit, then you will find them in my Etsy shop – just the two at the moment sorry both sold , as I don’t know if I have any more suitable fabric for her prickles – if these two sell out, then I’ll have a rummage around my cupboard! 

Make your own Podge Kit


PS the pebble was washed before it was added to the kit!