Sunday, 20 May 2018

A slow start to Sunday but finished on a roll

I didn't make a list today but would have had a lot of things to cross off if I had. After having a lazy start to the day I knuckled down to the ironing. Not too much to do - but it still needs to go upstairs.

Alex and Will got the keys to the house on Friday but it needs quite a bit of cleaning.  The previous tenants had two pets (the agreement says no pets) so Alex spent quite a lot of time scrubbing. There's still quite some to do though. She starts her new job tomorrow so they are staying here until the house is sorted (the boiler isn't working either).

I was pleased to get the project bag finished. It was meant to be a quick thing but Max had hidden the lining fabric.


The new fabric is different. I'll find the original one day.

I made a couple of trays of lasagne for suppers this week for me and for Will & Alex. There are plenty of vegetables in it and it will be served with salad.
Then I moved on to the hanging basket, planting it with trailing fuchsias this year.

I haven't quite planned out where I'm going to plant the climbing plants, or rather what order they will go in along the fence. I got some honeysuckle, a rambling rose, and two clematis, one pink and one white.



I will put the rose near the seating area I think because it is 'highly fragrant' according to the label. I'm going to make a secret garden at one end of my little patch. I'll take some before and after pictures. It may take me some time......

I stopped for a quick bite to eat at lunchtime.  A pork and apple pie from the local farm shop - gorgeous it was with thin crispy pastry, a meaty pork filling and topped with caramelised apples.
Alex, bless her, helped me paint the first part of the fence, even though she had been working at the house all day.  Actually I think she painted more than I did in the end, Will did a bit more tidying around the lawn - I've just bought a new lawn mower as I haven't had a lawn for some years, but John purloined that yesterday. It was cut on the highest setting and now needs a good rake.

So now everyone is quietly tired - Will has just made some burgers, as the urge suddenly took him, so we are going to have some ginger beer/beer and cheeseburgers to end a busy day.
Let's just hope my poor unfit body, with the unusually physical day and the not so healthy food doesn't protest too much tomorrow!

Thursday, 17 May 2018

How much can I squeeze in today?

Time off is precious so I like to make sure I make the most of it. Lists! that's what's needed. I have a little book that I carry round in my handbag for just such things:
I always write everything I want to do knowing that there are too many things to accomplish but I don't think I've failed if they aren't all done, I just don't run out of things. On my list today:

  • Finish stitchery bag and pattern (both close to completion)
  • Write pattern for June Mini-Quilt
  • Start July Mini-Quilt
  • Prepare shortbread base for lemon squares  from Once upon a Chef
  • Translate recipe to English measurements and write in cookery notes
  • Iron clothes
  • Vacuum (I only have carpets upstairs and a rug downstairs so can do on one charge)
  • Clean one kitchen cupboard 
  • Wash kitchen floors
  • Dust the bookshelves and lampshades in the sitting room
  • Sweep the back terrace
  • Sort recycling for tomorrow's collection
  • Order yarn (tick! - did that before breakfast - you have to get your priorities right)
  • Check and answer emails and messages
  • Pull out sofa to get all the things Max has thrown behind including my go-to thread colour (favourite pastime, chucking things about)
  • He is wearing a nappy - no bare pictures on this blog!
  • Vacuum behind sofa (don't recoil at the amount of dust and detritus hidden there)
  • Go to work (this is where the some computer work gets done when John has long appointments so there aren't loads of people checking in and out - an hour tonight will give time for some pattern work.
  • Put ice on back as often as possible - suffering at the moment, dammit.
  • Blog
Not all will get done but it is lovely to tick things off.  The yarn order?  Well I saw this irresistable  blanket to crochet on Fifty Shades of 4Ply. I need a project for the flight to Spain in 5 weeks. OMG 5 weeks. 
I only ordered enough to test and will make a cushion cover if I decide not to make a blanket. I've never used the yarn before but I'm in lerv with the colours. I'm getting on well with my no-brain crochet blanket (for those moments when your hands want to do something but your mind can't cope)
I've started the third ball so when that is finished I will know what size the blanket will be. I think it will be about 45" square.  With Corner to Corner crochet you increase every row until you have used half the yarn then start decreasing - no calculations. Sadly you can't see the richness of the colour in either of these pictures, although the second is much closer
I have learned one lesson though, start a new ball at the end of a row.  This yarn is impossible to unpick. It is so fluffy that it 'welds' itself together and won't budge - you have to snap it which would pull the stitches tight. I thought the yarn gradations would follow on from each other but they don't - hence the half a stripe in the middle of the green/blue sequence. I was expecting it to morph back into the rust colour but is went green again.

By the time I press 'publish' I'm hoping to have got a good way through the list so I better get started as it's 8.40m and I have only ordered yarn.


**************************************************

 later in the day.........................So... I got most things done, not the back terrace, not the bookshelves and notably not the bag finish.  Max has hidden the piece of fabric that was laid out ready to to the lining. I've searched high and low, in cupboards, behind sofas, in between books. It is nowhere to be found.  If I can't find it before I go to class I'll get some more - the missing fabric will turn up and I have another plan that it can be used for. Anyhow I'll leave you now with a little piccy of the strawberries and cream cupcakes from last week.
I think I might do a tab on the blog for recipes I use for the class and for 'cake Friday' at work, or maybe rather just the ones that people ask for. Sometimes the experimental ones are not too repeatable!

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Is this the last Sunday lunch?

We sat down tonight with Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding.  Me, Will, Alex. They have found a house to rent while they look for one to buy. Alex moves up next weekend and starts her new job straight away.  My last baby is leaving the nest. How strange it feels. Probably the last Sunday lunch I will make with my family living at home.  Will strimmed the weeds in the garden whilst I cooked the Sunday Lunch and Alex made chocolate mousse. I can feel her concern, she reassures me they will be here again, pottering, helping, cooking Sunday Lunch.

Another rite of passage.

It was hard sending them to the first day at school, letting them catch the bus home from the disco, getting a job, going on holiday without me... a lifetime of learning to let go; to let go with pride in the beautiful people they have grown up to be.  Will the space be overwhelming?  Will I be lonely? Will they worry about me? (I think they already do). Life's a funny old thing isn't it?






Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Simple design for a new project bag.

I've been playing with an idea for a new project bag.  I wanted to make a bag with a quilted linen base and some appliqué flowers. I started with different ideas but couldn't quite get it together as I liked it. The appliqué didn't seem to flow so I abandoned the more complicated design for a much simpler stitchery panel and this is what I'll be doing this morning.  Inspired by the cushion I made at the weekend....
I spent my happy hour this morning sewing hexagons to the base of the bag. Thank goodness for Frixion heat sensitive pens - I couldn't get the lines in the right place for some reason. The markings are the third attempt, the first two being ironed off in some disgust. The last version was closer but as you can see the lines still didn't match up!
Thankfully they all disappear miraculously when they get a blast of steam from the iron. 

Two pens that I have only had relatively recently - Sewline white marker for darker fabrics and the heat fading Frixion pens.
They make such a difference. I've tried all sorts of things over the years but kept going back to my trusty 2b pencil. But you can't make mistakes with it and sometimes the marks don't wash out. 

So then - back to the bag design -instead of this -
-  I'll be transferring this simple stitchery to the front of the bag (and back actually) later this morning
The appliqué design needs a lot more work and will be stored away for later when the inspirational juices are flowing better.  These flowers will go into my Assets Panel for future use.  Although they only took an hour or so to construct it is useful to click on to them for future designs, even if I do tweak them so that they don't all look the same. I suppose that's the disadvantage of having a computer library - you lose the organic feel to the drawings.

I had some lovely afternoon tea with friends on Monday and met, quite by chance someone from way back in my youth.  Forty five years ago I made my first parachute jump - the pilot that flew the plane was there with some mutual friends. We spent a lot of time reminiscing of course although it was quite sobering to find out how many long lost friends have died of old age. Oh dear! Let's not dwell on that too much.

I have errands this morning, a quick trip to the accountants, some shopping for the clinic and some household tasks too before I start work this afternoon, but one thing is for sure - the stitchery will be marked up and started today. 

How different my life is now with its cosy domestic minutiae. I'm grateful for the contrasts and experiences of my years, very grateful.



Monday, 7 May 2018

'And peace comes dropping slow....'


After work on Saturday I contemplated the long hours of peace ahead of me - should I go into the garden or wait until it's cooler? Should I stitch, or leave it until I'd finished the washing? Should I.... answer the little knock at the door?  There was Ben with a little overnight bag - could he come for a sleepover?  Checking the hens, riding his bike, ordering in pizza, computer games and then bed. I did manage a bit of tacking when he went to bed. This is a cushion kit from High Street Quilting which I have been eyeing for some time - a perfect bank holiday project.
It took me a while to get everything lined up.  Ben's Daddy took him swimming when the baths opened on Sunday morning so I spent a blissfully quiet day, in the garden stitching. Best of both worlds although the gardening didn't get done.

This morning (in my happy hour) I got the machine out and within an hour I had stitched the quilting pattern - with surprisingly neat results as I am the Queen of Puckers when it comes to machine quilting. 
This is the reverse - in dappled sunlight.

......and the front. I'd already put the zipper in the back.  Next I need to tackle the piping and then finally sew the back to the front, remembering to leave the zip open a little so I can turn it the right way around.  In case you're wondering - yes I have had to carefully, tooth by tooth, undo a zip from the wrong side because I forgot to leave it open an a couple of inches.

I love the way the quilting looks, making its own little hexagon shapes all over. Thanks for the lovely kit Hilary - everything but the cushion pad. Sometimes quilt kits are like those recipe boxes you can get for cakes, just add milk, butter and eggs (so.... just sugar and flour in the packet then).  This had all the paper pieces, piping, zipper, fabrics and lining. Perfect.

I'd planned to go shopping yesterday but now need to go today instead.  I should get the piping done and the cushion sewn together before the shops open.Then there's there small matter of the garden and the washing and ironing. It was peaceful yesterday and peaceful for the moment now. The sun is shining and I'm calm and rested. In all a pretty good bank holiday, time with the family, time on my own.

 In case you're wondering where the quote comes from:

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
                     – W. B. Yeats

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Baby Quilt update

Well - I finished this in record time, only to discover that the baby isn't due until 16th June! Well my babies were both premature so you can never be too careful. Not wishing of course for any untoward births of course!
Now that I know there is more time I'm going to do some embroidery around the edge.  Amy doesn't know what sex the baby is - hence the absolutely neutral colour. I loved this quick project and the quilt is so clean and crisp but my soul is craving for colour. It's nice to know you have a quick pattern in hand though.  I'm going to wash this quilt a few times before I give it to Steph because it isn't very 'drapey'. I used 100% white cotton which was quite hard to hand quilt and it is very much firmer - more like a machine quilted finish. I decided against the very soft wadding in favour of the practicality of pure cotton.  I think I might just make a girly quilt for me with the Quilters Dream Orient wadding, I don't mind hand washing precious things.

I discovered why I thought I had made a cutting error.  I didn't put sashing on the end squares.
You don't notice from a distance, it was only when I started quilting that I realised. But I'm not going to tell if you don't! That comes from seeing an picture and cutting before you actually think it through properly.

I've been experimenting with a bag pattern - it is still easier to get the coloured pencils out and draw it on a piece of paper but I'm persevering, especially since I discovered that I can save things as 'assets' which can be used in any document created. This helps for things like buttons and hearts and little flowers.  It is especially helpful for documents when I want to do instructions for half square triangles and flying geese, or any other shape. If I made each set of instructions individually it would take hours. This way it's like cutting and pasting from my very own 'Clipart'
It probably won't look exactly like this but I wanted to do something a bit flowery - even if the seasons are mixed. Originally I had a little picket fence and a birdhouse but I moved them out of the way in favour of pretty maids all in a row. There is a little stash of fabric left over from the folded stars I made a while ago.
I'm hoping there is enough for the bag. I just need to find where I put it of course. That may take some time!

I have a bunch of household things to catch up on so won't have much time to craft today before work  but I know I'll feel bad if I continue to live in the mess which seems to pile up when I'm engrossed in a quilt.

I made scones last week for class and in doing so discovered why I don't do it more often. John makes lovely light scones - mine are more like hockey pucks. They tasted ok but they needed lashings of butter.
Date and pecan on the right and cheese on the left. The recipe was from my trusty Be-Ro book and said that it made 10 scones. I made a separate batch for each flavour - in this day of giant scones the mix would only have made three or four. We were reminiscing how small scones used to be, which makes you wonder how many calories are in the ones that are heaped in luscious piles underneath glass domes in coffee shops. My mother and I used to share one between us.

So Will is off to work and the house is mine for four hours. Where on earth shall I start?

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

An impromptu baby quilt

The quilt is impromptu - not the baby! Steph is going to a baby shower soon and didn't know what to take. Never needing an excuse to make something little I offered to make a simple quilt. Grey and white was the colour choice. I would never have picked this colour scheme, being a rainbow addict, but I am loving it!
Squares with a simple little sash, set on a point. I actually spent most of the day making it, only packing the machine away at about 9.30pm.  I need to get some more fabric to finish it because I had a slight cutting mistake due to not taking the time to work out the size of the setting triangles down the side. Lesson learnt. I might use a slightly different wadding in this.  I bought some Dream Orient wadding at Sandown a couple of years ago and it's been waiting for the right project. It's made of cotton, bamboo, silk and tencel, so it's all natural and has naturally anti-bacterial qualities. It's very light too. It says cool wash though so I might decide to use the ever reliable 80/20 wadding which I have washed at 60 degrees without any problem.

When I got home on Sunday I spent a happy hour or so painting my BAKE letters with a duck egg blue mix of paints. (Blue Mist, Hauser Light Green and Light Buttermilk DecoArt Americana acrylic paints - mostly Blue Mist)
The decoration will be fairly simple - a few dots and some stripes. I want to maintain the colour so adding plaid designs would not be suitable as they would change the look too much. I don't want too much fussy stuff in the kitchen as it is very small, but I don't want it to look too bare or clinical either. It has to be practical. I don't have a duck egg blue colour scheme (I'm not one to change all the appliances when I decorate - far too expensive!) but the bunting over the window and the little hooks on the door happen to be duck egg blue too.

We had Guinness Cupcakes this week in class - it was a very sloppy mixture, what with the melted butter and all
It was quite chocolatey too with a hint of the bitter quality of Guinness.
Slightly lumpy - like making muffins where you don't mix them too much.  They were crumblier than I expected, like muffins I suppose. The topping was a butter icing with the addition of cream cheese - I used Philadelphia rather than mascarpone which made it slightly salty.

 
This week I can't decide whether to make Edd Kimber's Tahini Shortbreads which I need to shop for or some date and walnut scones for which I have the ingredients. Actually come to think of it I need to buy some eggs (dammit). Will sent Alex away with eggs for herself and her mum, so we are down to one egg from the silkie hens. They are just over half the size of a normal hen's egg so I tend to use them for poached eggs on toast or recipes where you weigh the eggs.
I'll decide which when I get to the supermarket then!

So now I have recovered from my four-day baby-sit. The only down side was that I had forgotten how much is done at floor level. Oh my poor back. Plus Max is made of lead I think. I can't remember Ben being so heavy at that age. The weather was good every day, so we spent a lot of time in the garden. Water is always fun. Well not for the Max's little rabbit which went into the water just after this picture was taken. He wouldn't let me hang it on the line so there were little damp blobs all over the place for the rest of the day. I managed to roll it in a towel when he wasn't looking and it was dry by bedtime thank goodness.
Well I have bought more fabric for the baby quilt and it is now layered and ready to stitch. I might get the first few lines done before I start work this afternoon, but will have a marathon this weekend.  I got the backing for the appliqué spring quilt which is nearing the layering up stage.  The pattern for tomorrow night's class is ready to be printed and the ingredients for the scones (yes I made that decision) are weighed out and ready to be mixed and baked at the last minute. You have to eat scones fresh from the oven don't you?