Thursday, 24 February 2011

feeling green

I have been doing various decorating jobs of late, and green seems to be everyones favourite colour. i was especially pleased with this custom colourway of chinoiserie chalk grande in an orangery, we matched it to farrow and ball cooking apple green, it will look even more delightful when the cream vintage linen curtains go up. i am really loving all shades of green at the moment must be the breath of spring that was in the air for about 10minutes today, i think this neutral grey green is particularly lovely...
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keeping on the straight and narrow

It's amazing what you can do with a few straight lines!

The first day of half term Boy was engrossed in Harry Potter, Baby was in bed sleeping off a cold and our little girl and I had a rare opportunity to get out the sewing machine that we gave her for Christmas. Whilst I set the machine up (which involved a lot of hurrumphing as the bobbin is impossible to get in properly) I let Girl browse through one of Sarah's and my favourite books Sew Pretty Home Style.

Naturally she chose to make a Make up bag and so we adapted one from the book. Obviously I had to help her sort out the fabric and make sure everything was pinned in the right place, but then she was able to sew the whole thing together. All she had to do was sew a few straight lines.

And with those straight lines she was able to create this lined and trimmed pouch for all her beauty essentials - Not bad for a 5 year old!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

the food of love

On Friday nights, just as everyone else is opening the wine and celebrating the beginning of the weekend, I take an overexcited puppy, 3 exhausted children and a grumpy husband to Babara Woodhouse! It was something we agreed to do as a family when we got the puppy. So the children weren't too disappointed when I told them they couldn't go to the School Valentines disco because it clashed with puppy classes. And that, so I thought, was that.

Then we went into school the morning before the disco and one little girl was devastated as she found out that my (snotty-porridge-toothpaste-and-jam-covered-scarecrow-of-a) Boy was not going to be at the Valentines Disco. As the uncontrollable tears rolled down her face I felt like the worst mother ever, despite the fact that my own children remained un-bothered by the whole thing. I promised that Boy would make it up to her on Valentines Day itself.

So we decided to try making some Fortune Cookies filled with messages of love. To then be packaged in Chinese takeaway boxes. I made some for hubby, the girls both decided that boys are a waste of time and ate their quota there and then, and Boy wrapped his up beautifully for the devastated girl at school.

However, being Sunday evening I was rather rushed and we used dessert spoons instead of table spoons when adding certain ingredients.

Whilst I was really chuffed with the overall idea, I'm not so sure that these cookies were the food of love.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


Whilst the weather is trying hard to keep us in a wintry gloom the snowdrops are out. This year even our garden seems to have quite a few tiny bunches hiding in the corners, but I would love to look out over a huge swathe.

Today it didn't rain, in fact the sun was trying to come out so Baby, Puppy and I went off to find someone else's swathe of snowdrops to admire. Thankfully many gardens open to show off their snow drops and we're lucky enough to live near the Rococo Gardens in Painswick which is famed for it's displays. However we went to the National Trusts Newark Park, which is one of my favourite National Trust destinations. It's a manageable sized quirky house with fantastic views and a garden big enough for a really good game of hide and seek, but you couldn't get lost (I would be very happy if some one told me I HAD to live there!) and thousands of snowdrops. We were not disappointed, next there will be bluebells and daffodils and Spring will truly be here. Except I've just read a weather report for snow over half term!

Monday, 7 February 2011

learn to love your sewing machine

Learn to Love Your Sewing Machine:
Make Your Own Cushion
Littleworth Hall, Amberley
10 March 2011, 10 - 4

If you are a little uncertain about how to use your sewing machine this is the workshop for you. We will teach you how to love your sewing machine, building your confidence and showing you tricks of the trade to help you with any sewing project. We'll spend the morning looking at techniques and after a yummy lunch you can put your new skills to the test when you design and create your own cushion cover. This workshop will cover the following:
  • understanding your sewing machine
  • button holes
  • zips
  • piping
  • applique
  • tips & tricks
The day costs £50 including lunch, coffee, tea, cakes and all materials. At the end of the day you will go home with a techniques file and a full set of instructions for completing or recreating your piece.

For further information about Hardaker and Pope workshops click here or contact us at

spring has sprung

Spring Has Sprung

Create your own Easter Picture
Littleworth Hall, Amberley
5 April 2011, 10 - 4

If you are looking for an alternative to chocolate this Easter why not create your own embroidered masterpiece?

During this workshop we will look at design styles and how to put colours together as well as basic hand and machine embroidery techniques (including applique) before setting you free to create your own piece of art. You don't have to stick to the Easter theme, these pictures make great gifts and are perfect as a truly personal present for a new born baby or birthday.

The day costs £50 including lunch, coffee, tea, cakes and all materials. At the end of the day you will go home with a techniques file and a full set of instructions for completing or recreating your piece.

For further information about Hardaker and Pope workshops click here or contact us at

skirt in a day workshop

Skirt in a Day
Littleworth Hall, Amberley
10 May 2011, 10 - 4

Jazz up your summer wardrobe with a skirt designed and made by you. Choose your fabric design and colourway from a selection of Sarah Hardaker Ltd designs which will be printed onto cotton especially for your skirt. During the day you will learn:
  • basic skirt design
  • how to insert a zip
  • trimmings and hems
  • pockets
  • embellishments
The day costs £55 including lunch, coffee, tea, cakes and all materials. At the end of the day you will go home with a techniques file and a full set of instructions for completing or recreating your piece as well as a truly unique addition to your wardrobe!

Please note: In order have time to print the material for your skirt we will need booking for this course confirmed by April 10 2011.

For further information about Hardaker and Pope workshops click here or contact us at

Heirloom Treasures

Heirloom Treasures
Littleworth Hall, Amberley
16 June 2011, 10 - 4 &
18 June 2011, 10 - 4

Great for beginners and back by popular demand - so this time we are doing two.

We will teach you basic hand and machine stitch techniques (including applique), look at design styles and how to put colours and textures together. Then show you how to make your own embroidered heart, keepsake gift tag or heirloom cushion.

The day costs £50 including lunch, coffee, tea, cakes and all materials. At the end of the day you will go home with a stitch techniques file and a full set of instructions for completing or recreating your piece.

For further information about Hardaker and Pope workshops click here or contact us at

Hardaker and Pope workshops

Further Information

Following the success of our 2010 workshops we are really excited to have our Spring/Summer 2011 programme all worked out.

Our workshops are not just about learning new techniques and methods. We want you to leave at the end of the day feeling confident in your new found skills and inspired. It is also important to us that everyone enjoys their day, and to that end we encourage everyone to work at their own pace and ensure that they relish the time they have to create in. It is such a treat to be given a whole (undisturbed) day in which to sit down and make things with like minded people.

All our courses are held at Littleworth Hall, in Amberley, and run from 10 - 4. We provide a simple but delicious seasonal lunch and plenty of tea and coffee, homemade biscuits and cake to keep you fuelled throughout the day, we feel it is the little touches that make these days special.

You do not have to bring anything with you and there are no hidden costs. We provide all the materials to complete your project (included in the price). You will go home with a techniques file and a full set of instructions for completing or recreating your project. Of course you are also more than welcome to bring any sentimental scraps of fabric, or buttons or trimmings you really adore to include in your project . We do have a 'pop-up-shop' so if we have truly inspired you there is always the opportunity to buy what you need to start your own sewing projects at home. This also carries some of Sarah's fabrics so if you've been thinking of placing an order it will be hard to resist the temptation!

We have a maximum number of 8 people per workshop. This enables us to share our knowledge (and tea making skills) easily and for you to benefit from individual attention of Sarah Hardaker. Sarah is an established fabric designer with over 15 years of experience in the textile industry. Having worked for Nina Campbell, Osborne and Little, Habitat and Harlequin she set up her own company 2 years ago. It is great to have her knowledge at your fingertips for a day.


"Thank you Sarah & Jo for a luverly day! I arrived knowing very little and left much more confident and able to embroider french knots! I learnt loads and feel inspired to use my new skills as soon as possible."

"Many thanks Jo and Sarah for a great day - I came away inspired to tackle some creations on my own. I learnt a lot and feel a lot more confident about trying new techniques. Also felt very pampered with endless cups of tea and coffee, a delicious lunch and scrummy afternoon tea! May there be many more workshops!"

For further information or to book on one of our workshops contact us at

Thursday, 3 February 2011

seville oranges

since we moved from london to the country 10 years ago, there has been a gradual shift in my cooking. we are blessed with an amazing greengrocers nearby, (along with 2 butchers, a farmers market, a fab deli and fishmongers and a branch of hobbs house bakery - not bad for a tiny town , more of a big village!!!!). Anyway the shift has been towards a more seasonal type of cooking, I have stopped eating asparagus all through the year and instead gorge myself on it in may and june, the same for strawberries. It wasn't a conscious ethical thing, its more of a seduction by the greengrocer!! when the display outside is loaded with squeeky bright puple red cabbages, and stacks of local leeks, and scented piles of seville oranges I just can't bring myself not to cook them. my mother in law makes the most fabulous seville orange marmalade, I always buy loads of seville oranges in january and february, but never seem to get around to making marmalade! well this week i bought some, got the marmalade recipe, and then used them to make a version of a lemon tart!!! I have to say it was a great success - as the picture shows -there was only this sliver left the following morning - and that was only because it was wrestled from Miss B's grip on sunday night (I suggested that a third portion would render her with a bum the size of mine!!!)
recipe below
150g plain flour
150g softened butter
75g cornflour
75g icing sugar
zest 1/2 seville orange

blitz all this in a processor till it makes a soft shortbread  type dough, chill then roll out between 2 sheets of cling film (a great tip!!) line a tart tin with it (chill again it allegedly stops it shrinking - pastry is not my strong suit and i never get it right!) prick the base, put greaseproof and baking beans over the pastry and bake blind for 8-12mins, remove greaseproof and beans and put back in oven for 3mins.

zest of 1 1/2 seville oranges
juice of 2 seville oranges and 1 lemon
3 eggs
180ml double cream
160g golden caster sugar
1 teasp vanilla extract

whisk all of the filling ingredients together in a jug, put the tart tin on a baking sheet in the oven and pour in the filling (this stops it spilling everywhere when you are trying to manoeuvre a full tin from the worktop to the oven!!) and bake for 20-25mins till softly set with a little wobble. cool, dust with icing sugar and scoff!!
perhaps i will try marmalade later this week.............

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

love letters

I can't believe that February is already upon us. Christmas is well and truly behind us and the next date on the calendar to put our minds to is Valentines! It's not something Hubby and I go in for in a big way, not least because our wedding anniversary is the following week (not that we do much to celebrate that either). However it's not a date you can get away with forgetting altogether and at the very least I try and make a card.

Last year the card wasn't that amazing but it was more about the envelope anyway. I discovered that if you send your valentines cards (stamped and addressed obviously) to the Lover Post Office, Lover, Salisbury they will duly send the card for you, with their own special Lover Valentines post mark. I'm telling you this now as you've still got time to make and send your cards this way.