Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Upcycling: Making New from Old ~ Drawstring Bag

I haven't made a bag for some time.  I think last items made on the sewing machine were phone pouches about 18mths ago.  I often have ideas in my head or at least aspirations to make things but they do not often come to fruitition.

Hand drawn felt letters

Having enrolled son into Pre-School, I decided to dust off the machine to knock up a little drawstring bag.  They do have nylon material ones available to buy from the preschool for £2 but I thought I would make Minh a special personalised one.  Opening my sewing box full of patterns; fabrics; odds and ends, I came across a scrumpled old work shirt.  I put my creative head on and started planning...
I used the front of the shirt including the button front as it wouldn't be wide enough otherwise.  I just sewed the flaps down after cutting the material so even if the buttons were undone (or fell off) the bag would not open.

Button flaps stitched down in place
The bag needs to hold son's nappies, wipes and nappy sacks as well as a spare change of clothes.  No, we've not toilet-trained him yet.  With this in mind I thought about making a Flat-Bottomed Bag.  The contents could sit at the bottom nicely without tumbling about.

Flat bottom helps bag contents stayin one place!

I had to refer to this book Lisa Lam's Bag Making Bible - to remind myself how to do it.  I love this book as it's got great ideas how to customise bag's you are making to have features that you want as well as some projects for you to tackle.  (Lisa Lam also has a fabulous Bag Making Blog  ~ U-Handblog as well as a shop ~

The shirt material is quite flimsy so I gave it reinforcement with some heavy sew-in interfacing and also made a lining from some calico fabric.  I could have made drawstrings from the same material as the shirt but as time was against me, I found some light blue ribbon to thread through as ties instead.

I am really pleased with the bag as the interfacing has made the bag look more substantial, the lining makes it look classy.  The design I think is quite cute and I love how the lettering turned out! 

A label added in last minute!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Post Christmas Feasts

After some Christmas Feasting at my mother's house - a yearly tradition for Christmas Day Turkey lunch and Boxing Day Chinese Feast (lobster/crab in Spring Onion and Ginger, Chinese Roast Duck, Roast Crispy Pork are definite contenders), we were lucky enough to be invited to two other feasts over the weekend.

I recently learned that one of my cousins will be going away to work in February and it's been long talked of having a Steamboat Feast.  One of our other cousins hosted the meal at their place and as I like to bring a little something along, I baked a Green Tea Chiffon for dessert.  Post for that one is here.  I have discovered that I omitted to take photos of our feast :(   But I will tease you by telling you that we had three different kinds of noodles; 3 different greens (pak choi/cos lettuce/chrysanthemum greens); 3 different meat balls (fish/pork and beef); thinly sliced beef rolls; fresh prawns; fresh clams; mushrooms (brown chestnut and golden needle-enoki).  The Steamboat pot was split in two compartments and we had two types of broth, one was a herbal tonic, the other plain.  The herbal one was delicately flavoured with nutmeg, cardamon, and dong quai.  It was a delicious and filling feast indeed!

Sunday, we went to visit Mr Leaf's family.  We went out for lunch at a Vietnamese Restaurant, Loong Kee on Kingsland Road, Hackney.  It's one of the few places that serve Steamed Rice Rolls Bánh cuốn which is a favourite with Mr Leaf.  They are similar to Cheung Fun but the rice skins are thinner, more translucent and not as soft.  The filling was a scarce scattering of minced pork and minced black wood ear fungus.  Was not very flavourful on its own and needed the Nước chấm sauce to give it some life.

Mr Leaf's brother likes Frog's Legs so we ordered a starter of Fried Frog's Leg's with Salt and Chilli.  The frog meat tastes between fish and chicken.  

Mr Leaf and his brother always eat this noodle salad dish Bún Thịt Nướng which is topped with grilled pork.  It's rice vermicelli with shredded salad, herbs and whatever topping you select and sprinkled with roasted crushed peanuts (which they did not have in this place.) You moisten it with Nước chấm  mix it up and chomp away.  This is not where we usually go for our Vietnamese meals and Mr Leaf reported the pork not the same cut and taste as his usual choice of restaurant.
I opted for stir-fried rice noodles with mixed meat.  Expecting Ho Fun wide, flat rice noodles like I would in a Chinese Restaurant I was surprised to get very thin rehydrated noodles.  It had a pleasant chew to them and I had all manner of different vegetables stir fried with it (no bad thing in my book).  Son managed to eat a few mouthfuls too so that was a bonus as he is a very discernible diner.

Sister in Law (Mrs Leaf) had Beef Phở.  Noodle Soup in a beef broth with sliced onion, herbs, thinly sliced beef.  It's served with a plate of accompaniments, herbs, raw beansprouts and a lemon wedge.  

In the evening we went to my SiL cousin's house for a pre-New Year Dinner.  We had Coquille St Jacques to start (oops - no photo) which is a French dish of scallops in a white wine sauce served in the half shell topped with mashed potato and grilled. Mains were Steak or Thai Chicken Curry.

Here are a few photos I did remember to take!

Pan-Fried Steak with mixed salad and mashed potato.

I had the Thai Curry, there was Red and Green Curry and I had a little of both.  The Green Curry was particularly fiery hot but wonderfully fragranced with kaffir lime leaves, I couldn't tell you how the Red Curry tasted as my mouth was on fire after that!

We had Christmas Cake for dessert (which I had made and decorated) as well as Strawberry Gateau (I believe it was a shop-bought frozen dessert).

I hope you all had a lovely time celebrating the festivities with your nearest and dearest!  

The hostess pictured with my son and his cousin. 

(Apologies for poor photo quality - my camera phone does not perform well.)