Friday, 16 November 2012

Quilt Progress


It really is hard to get a decent photo at the moment - this week has been very, very grey and dull.  Typical November weather.

The quilt above is hand-pieced and is now in the process of being hand quilted (yawn!).  My turn this time to babysit the quilt between our fortnightly quilting meetings and I think this means I'm actually supposed to do some quilting ... haven't so far, but I thought if I got the quilt out of the bag there was more chance of it getting done.  Our next meeting isn't until next Wednesday .....!

I've got the perfect excuse though ... I had to finish a blanket I've been crocheting as a Christmas present (got to get your priorities straight!).  I sewed in the last ends last night, so now I'm free to do something different.

This quilt is going to be auctioned for charity in February, so we really do need to get it finished!!  I think I can safely say that hand piecing and hand quilting are a bit too slow for me ... when I eventually get round to making my first quilt (and I keep saying I'm going to!) it will definitely be machine sewn!  

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Gluten-Free in Tuscany & Umbria


Typical Tuscan starter ... with gluten-free bruschetta and a porcini / truffle topping.  Yum!.

I love going to Italy - it has everything: great scenery, history, warm weather and fantastic food.  Not only is the food fantastic, but they totally understand what it means to be gluten free.  I've read that all kids are tested for gluten issues before they go to school.  Awareness of coeliac disease is high and this means it's the one country I know I can travel to and eat well and safely.



Gluten-free bruschetta with tomatoes.

In every restaurant the waiters understood.  You just have to say 'sono celiaco' and they know what it means.  Sure, the level of response varied - they could tell you which items on the menu to avoid everywhere; some had gluten-free pasta available and a very few catered brilliantly for coeliacs and had gluten-free bread baskets, pizza dough and more!


Gluten-free pizza - this was amazing!

It's going to be a little bit expensive going back to Florence every time I want this pizza ... but this was so good it is almost worth the airfare!


Gluten-free gnocchi.

Apologies for the blurry and/or dark snaps - all taken with my phone and mostly in dimly lit conditions!

In my experience you can eat gluten-free just about anywhere in Italy, but I thought I'd share some addresses / websites of the places that we went to:

Florence

Via del Giglio 28r

This is a family-run business and had the best gluten-free bread, pasta and pizza imaginable.  You have to order the pizza dough the day before you go, but they always have the bread and pasta available.  All of my food was brought out on different coloured plates to 'normal' food and separate from Andy's food.  The pizza was the best I've had since my diagnosis (that's seven years now!) - you'd hardly know it was gluten-free (Andy tested some to be sure!).  The chef won a gluten-free pizza making competition and I can see why.  I'd love to have this restaurant just round the corner from where I live!

Piazza del Mercato Centrale 38r

Had gluten-free pasta available.

Viale Spartaco Lavagnini 2r

It's a little bit of a walk from the town centre on a hot and humid day, but we visited this dedicated gluten-free patisserie on my birthday!  I got some lovely glazed apple tartlets in lieu of birthday cake and some biscuits for the rest of my trip (see the note about breakfasts below).   Worth a visit and they have outlets in other towns too.

Perugia

Via delle Streghe 8

You might wonder if there really is a restaurant down this dark alley, but it really is there.  Fantastic flavours!  Gluten-free pasta is available.

Lucca

Via della Fratta 22

This lovely restaurant has its own gluten-free menu!  They gave me a basket of gluten-free bread and they were prepared to make fresh pasta for me.  I felt truly spoilt but, as I'd already eaten a lot of pasta on this trip, I had the gnocchi instead!


Everywhere else we went I simply avoided the items I was told (or common sense dictated) contained gluten.  

It's maybe worth noting that breakfast can be a bit difficult, so I always take something with me from home to tide me over until I can buy something locally.  The Co-op supermarket chain sells some gluten-free food and every pharmacy has a gluten-free section too.  In Florence our B&B didn't do breakfast but gave us vouchers for a local cafĂ© which didn't have any gluten-free pastries - coffee and a pastry is a fairly typical breakfast!  Where we stayed in a larger hotel there was usually a buffet and just once I found some gluten-free bread available as part of that buffet.


Thursday, 1 November 2012

August's Squares!


This block is the Crocodile Flower by Joyce Lewis  I had to stop before I added the border as it was getting too big for my afghan, so I may just add the border and use it for something else ...
... a cushion, maybe?  This is another favourite design!



And this one is Shape Shifting in 12 by Aurora Suominen.  A little bit wonky but given that I had a hard time with the instructions I'm just pleased to have finished it!  I should be able to block the wonkiness out!

So, I've finished the blocks for August and, as we're now in November, that means I'm still 3 months behind.  On a positive note though, the cardigan from last week's post got sewn up and parcelled off to Australia successfully and I've now started another blanket.

Yes, I remember saying never again, but ....!

It's another Christmas present and there is a slim chance that it will be finished in time to post.  Fingers crossed!  I guess that means I'll probably never get up-to-date on my afghan, but I can always finish it next year!

Other Creative Spaces here.