Sunday, 31 December 2017

Happy New Year

"Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you present a new place for new ideas and progress"

I wish you a very happy and peaceful new year.

Gertie xx

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Cake addict - part 5

I meant to post this a couple of days ago but time just got the better of me.

Following on from my mam’s sneaky ways of feeding (sorry couldn’t resist!!) her cake addiction, I finally got one over her.

Mother’s Day was approaching and finding a gift for her was hard at the best of times (she wasn’t the easiest of people to buy presents for). However this time was especially difficult as she was terminally ill so we had to think of something that she could enjoy now.

My sister decided on giving her flowers as she always had a vase of fresh flowers in her living room and from me it was going to be – you guessed it – a cake.

One of her all time favourite cakes was a Dundee cake so that’s what I was going to make.

Sadly she never got the chance to enjoy her flowers or the cake as she died three days before Mother’s Day.

Had she been aware she was getting cake for Mother’s Day she would have made sure she was still with us for the Sunday....

Take care,

Gertie xx

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Cake addict - part 4

After my mam's funeral her quilting friends came back to the house and asked if I was her daughter who baked the cakes. I said I was.

“Your lemon drizzle cake was beautiful”, replied one, “it was just a shame I never got to try the orange one”.

I queried why as I had given my mam two large cakes, so everyone should have had at the very least a slice from each.

“She only brought three small slices of each”, said her friend, “and as there were six of us, including your mam, it was only one piece each”.

She had kept the rest for herself !!!

A final installment of the 'Cake Addict' shortly.

Take care,

Gertie xx

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Cake addict - part 3

Every Wednesday my mam used to meet up with some quilting friends for a sewing day at one of their houses. Lunch was usually sandwiches and some shop bought cake so I asked if she would like me to make her a couple of cakes. No need to guess what the answer was

A couple of weeks after I'd given her two cakes I asked if her friends enjoyed them. My mam went quiet.
“Did they not like them”, I asked, “I won't be upset if they did”.
“I ate them”, she replied.

Apparently she didn't have any cake in the house, and as there were two in the freezer, she just had to have them.

I was not happy. These cakes were for her friends, not her. Had she asked me to bake her some I would have, but to eat what didn't belong to her, was not acceptable. I issued her with a stern warning. I would make another two cakes for her friends but if she ate them then I would never make or give her any more.

She couldn’t take the chance that I was bluffing (I wasn’t. I really would have stopped giving her any) and as the thought of ending up cakeless was too much to bear, she had to behave. Or so I thought...

More to follow.

Take care

Gertie xx

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Cake addict - part 2

I'd been looking through my recipe books and a chocolate cake by Nigella Lawson caught my eye. I casually mentioned to my mam that I'd like to give it a try so she suggested I baked it at hers the next time I came through to see her.

Good idea in principal but not necessarily in practice as ever since my dad died my mam stopped cooking and baking so I had to bring everything with me (ingredients, measuring scales, 2lb loaf tin etc).

I got the cake baked but as it had to be cooled completely in the tin before turning it out I had to leave it at my mams.

When I visited the following Friday I asked about the cake. She took both hands, then quickly dropped them to the floor saying 'zrum'. My mam was very much into exaggerate movements (or amateur dramatics as we used to call it,) so I deduced that she meant the cake was heavy.

“What did it taste like”, I asked.
“It wasn't really very nice”, she admitted.
“Ah well”, I said, “I'm sure the bin enjoyed it”.
“Oh, I didn't throw it out”, she replied.

I was not amused. She had eaten the entire cake. When I ask why she hadn’t frozen any so I could have tried it - after all, it was my cake - she replied “it couldn't be frozen”.....

Yeah right !!!!

More to follow soon.

Take care,

Gertie xx

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Cake addict - part 1

I mentioned recently that my mam was addicted to cake and biscuits, this is what she was like.

Every year Mr Gertie and I always make a birthday cake and we always had to give my mam a third share of whatever it was (we once gave her a quarter share - it was our birthday cake after all so we thought that might entitle us to an extra slice - she was not happy!!!). My sister had a similar tradition with her husband and daughter but it was only from us that my mam demanded a equal share.

She would be given her cake when I visited her on the Friday following whoever's birthday it was. However should our birthday fall on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday, I would have to make a 22 mile round trip on either the Monday or the Tuesday just to deliver her the cake, as she thought it won't keep until the Friday, and there was no way she was going to miss out.

One year I was emergency admitted to hospital the day after my birthday. As I hadn't been very well on my birthday the cake never got cut into. On hearing that I had been admitted to hospital my mam quickly came in to see me. Her very first words to me as soon as she walked into my side room were “what's going to happen to my cake seeing as you're going to be stuck in here tomorrow (Friday)......”

A birthday cake very much similar to the one mentioned

I had get John to bring the cake in the following evening then leave it in my locker, so I could give it to her when she next visited on the Saturday afternoon.

Instead of saving some slices for himself (I wasn't well enough to be interested in food), she got the entire cake as John's priority was elsewhere (unlike my mam.....).

More to follow soon.

Take care,

Gertie xx

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

A whole lot of wool

When I was 13 I got my first knitting machine. It was a second hand Knitmaster 321 and it was my main Christmas present that year.

I had wanted a new one but my mam refused saying she thought my wanting a knitting machine was a whim and it would just end up in a cupboard a few months after Christmas.

The following Christmas Santa brought me a ribber attachment for my machine. So much for it being a whim !!!! 

I bought my second knitting machine when I started my first job. It was a Brother electronic K950 (later upgraded to a K950i). My niece, who has just been born, ended up with a superb wardrobe of lace knitted baby clothes as a result.

Not content with two machines I also bought a Bond so I could knit with double knit and chunky wool.

I spent many happy years making lots of jumpers for myself, family and friends. I used to beg my sister and brother-in-law not to wear any of my jumpers to work as their colleagues would always want me to make them one.

I had seriously thought about setting up my own knitting business but back then (late 80's), it wasn't as easy as it is now.

I continued to knit for a few years after I got married but as I began to spend more time improving my dressmaking skills, the knitting took a back seat. My workroom isn’t very big and I needed more space for my sewing things, plus I wanted a desktop computer, so I had to make the tough decision to pack away my three knitting machines and put them into the loft.

Although I wasn’t going to use them anymore there was no way I could get rid of them. I think I was hoping that one day we’d move into a bigger house and I’d have room to put them back up again – well we can always dream !!!!

I’d used up a lot of the wool by making knitted toys and dolls for various charity raffle prizes but still had a large box of odds and ends which I wanted rid of.

My mam suggested I crochet a blanket. Who’s she kidding…? Hand knitting, no problem. The harder and complicated, the better. Crocheting, on the other hand, is a completely different matter. Although the principle of crocheting is basically making a chain, I may as well be trying to master Quantum Physics !!!!!! 

I do, however, like a challenge so armed with the ‘how to crochet’ pages from one of my needlework book, some wool and a crochet hook borrowed from my mam, I started practicing doing some granny squares.

Although the squares weren’t perfect I felt ready enough to tackle the blanket. I worked out that I would need 64 granny squares to complete it. No pressure there then.

Several months later the blanket was finished.

There was still enough wool left to make another blanket so this time instead of making 64 granny squares, I’d made one big one. Rather than have several rows of one particular colour throughout the blanket, I made my own multicoloured balls by winding random bits of wool onto them. 

I started making it in the summer so by the time the cold weather came (well, colder than our summer weather anyway…..) the blanket was big enough to keep my legs warm. 

I did hit one snag when I was making it. I dropped my mam’s crochet hook down the side of the sofa -  never to be seen again. A quick phone call to my mam to see if she could remember what number the crochet hook was (number eight apparently), then straight onto eBay to buy a replacement.

I do miss knitting, especially when I'm in need of a new jumper as I could have one completed in a couple of hours. Should I be in a position to have a large work room then they will most definitely make a reappearance.

Gertie xx

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Sewing room makeover

When Mr Gertie and I were house hunting all those years ago we had a list of ‘must haves’ like most people do. One of the requirements was the property must have at least three bedrooms as we both wanted a room that we could call our own.

I can’t remember how or why, but I ended up with the smallest of the three rooms....

During the 22 years we’ve been married ‘my room’ has been many things in its life:

A knitting room – I had three knitting machines
A knitting room-cum-office – I was now down to just the one knitting machine so I could have a computer to write my novel on
An office-cum-sewing room – the knitting machine had been replaced by a sewing machine
A sewing room-cum-office – the office part of the room was drastically reduced due to me now having three sewing machines

Things came to a head in March when I purchased yet another sewing machine the size of a small moon!! There was no way I could properly use my new toy with the room layout I currently had so Mr Gertie took some measurements and went off to do some room re-designing.

During the long weekend over Easter we spent the time renovating my workroom.

Although my room isn’t the prettiest of workrooms I now have a dedicated table for my new ‘moon’, an office desk for my computer, two large shelves, a bookcase and three new large wall units.

What's your sewing room like?

Take care.

Gertie xx

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Hello again

I know, I know !!! I said in June that I was taking a break and I gave the impression that it would be for some time. I never thought I would be back after just five months.

There were a couple of reasons why I needed to take a break (I know I hadn’t been doing much blogging before that, but we’ll skip that part....):

I wanted to concentrate on Gertie’s Bags so a lot of my time this year has been devoted to it.

My physical health hasn’t been very good. My long term back problem makes it difficult to sit in one position for sometimes even short periods of time (not ideal when you are a sewer....), so I often spent my days just wandering the house. I also had surgery on my knee in July which put me out of action for quite a while.

I felt I had got out of the habit of blogging. Both this and my other blog (which I share with Mr Gertie) have suffered very badly from neglect. I’m the first to admit that I find social media difficult at times. I am a private, shy, person so telling the world what I’ve been up to etc doesn’t come naturally for me.

I do realise the irony in this – why have a blog in the first place. The blog I share with Mr Gertie was initially set up to let our friends, who are scattered across the UK, know what we’ve been up to seeing as we can’t always meet up that regularly. Having read lots of craft and baking blogs I saw that people actually liked to read about what others have been up to. I decided to give it a go myself (not easy when you don’t like being the centre of attention so the thought of ‘look what I’ve done’ terrified the life out of me!!!). However I didn’t think our joint blog was the right place to do so which is why I set up Gertie’s makes and bakes.

Since Mr Gertie retired from work there hasn’t really been the opportunity to bake, hence the lack of baking posts. When he was working once a fortnight I’d try a new baking recipe and his colleagues were delighted to help eat it. Sadly now there’s just the two of us we either have to eat it all ourselves or eat one piece then through the rest in the bin. The former is not good for the waistline and the latter is a criminal waste of good food. If my mam had been alive she would have willingly taken it off our hands as she was addicted to cake and biscuits*.

Whilst there won't be as many 'bakes' as there used to be, there will be plenty of 'makes' and other things as well. I look forward to your company once again and feel free to drop at 'hello' in the comments box as I'd love to hear from you.

Take care.


* I’ve a couple of good stories about her addiction to cake which I’ll blog about soon.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

So long – for now....

Sadly after much deliberation I've decided to take a break from Gertie's makes and bakes blog.

I've enjoyed bringing you my edible and non-edible creations but due to various reasons I simply don't have time at the moment to blog.

Thanks to everyone who popped by to read and leave comments on my posts and I hope to see you again soon.


Gertie xx

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Couldn’t live without

A couple of years ago I did a post about what things were in my sewing bag. That got me thinking. Out of all the items, what was the one thing that I couldn’t live without?

It would have to be my left-handed tape measure.

Left handed tape measure

For many years I made do with a regular tape measure (numbers going from left to right) and read it upside down.  It was not ideal but as there wasn’t anything else I just made do.

About 17 years ago I was sewing a lot more than I had been and was getting fed up with my tape measure being ‘wrong’. I searched online for a left-handed shop I’d visited in London in the early 80’s, to see if they were still going.

They were, and guess what they had in stock, a left-handed tape measure !!!! Sadly though I didn’t buy it as the postage was phenomenally expensive. It was about three times the cost of the tape measure....

A friend of ours used to visit London quite regularly so I asked him if ever he was passing the shop, could he call in and get it for me. A week later he handed me a little present. It was the left-handed tape measure. As he wasn’t due down to London for several weeks he’d asked a friend who lived in the capital to buy it for him.

Over time the tape measure has seen a fair bit of action, resulting in a lot of battle scars and a few of the numbers have worn off, but I could never be without it.

Gertie xx

Monday, 9 January 2017

Fabric challenge

When my mam died four years ago I inherited her sewing things. Whilst I’ve made use of most of the items I haven’t done much with all her quilting fabric.

Shortly after she died I finished off the quilts she had started, or was about to, and gave them to the charity she had intended them to go. However the rest of the fabric hasn’t really been touched.

I thought it was time I did something about it so I’ve set myself a challenge to try and make use of some of it (I can’t say all as there is a lot....). I don’t want to profit from the things I make using the fabric so they won’t become Gertie’s Bags. I decided they would be turned into quilts and given to charity.

Our new next door neighbour is a Pastor and he mentioned doing work for the elderly and homeless. As I’d already made four quilts out of John’s old work shirts looking for a good home, I asked if he could make use of them. He said yes so I’ve decided that any quilts I make from my mam’s fabric will go to him. 

Gertie xx

Monday, 2 January 2017

I want….

At this time of year newspapers and magazines have articles about New Year resolutions. I don’t do resolutions – never have – but what I do have though is a ‘want’ list.

This list is all sewing related but over on my other blog I’ve posted a general ‘want’ list.

For 2017 I want to….

  • ….use up the fabric I inherited from my mam.
  • ….use up the fabric I already have before buying any more.
  • ….remember to get up and move around every 45 minutes or so instead of sitting in one place for hours.
  • ….become more skilled at free-motion quilting and embroidery.  
  • ….try and adhere to the rule Mr Gertie set (for my own good….) that I can only sew for one third of the day.
  • ….get over my fear of social media in order to promote Gertie’s Bags.
  • ….blog more and catch up with my old blogging friends.

Come six months time when I do the interim update, will I have made any headway? Who know !!!


Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year

"Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you present a new place for new ideas and progress"

I wish you a very happy and peaceful new year.

Gertie xx