Sunday, 19 March 2017

Things are stacking up

In more ways than one.  Some good, some frustrating.
I've been on my hands and knees this afternoon cutting strips to make a 12" cushion project for our Junior Youth Club at school.
It's a little Easter project which will fill in a gap as we change Youth Workers from the County Council (their funding has run out) and to direct employed workers.  We are funded this year by the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner and the local councillor's fund. We're looking round for next year because things like this are never self sustaining.  I have to say it is not my favourite way of spending a Monday evening. I chose my career path because I like working in finance, the school bit came when I took a job with the same holidays as the children. I like being involved with the children but I could never be a full time teacher. No sir!

For New Year every quilter seems to make the resolution that they will finish things they started. I seem to have done the opposite this year, buying fabric and planning quilts I can never hope to finish in a year. I have three quilts sandwiched but only part quilted and what did I do yesterday?  I bought some fabric for a fourth! That doesn't count stuff that I have put in the cupboard and forgotten about. Bad Girl.

I finished the larger version of the mat I made a couple of weeks ago.  This one has a slightly larger margin around the edge of the linen.

I like them both and can't decide which is the better design.
They are going to be a workshop at High Street Quilting when Hilary and I decide on a date, sometime in the next couple of months I think.

I'm just watching Kate Humble on the telly 'Back to the Land'. There is a lady on that has a 'flower' farm. She sells edible flowers to restaurants and weddings. What a job! I love to see how all the people are bucking the trend of the countryside and taking a risk. Good luck to them.

I've just had a cup of tea with the last of the choice cupcakes I made this week.  Sugar rush.....
I've done the chores, Will is out on the bike, making the most of the sunshine. John, Steph, Matty (her little brother), Ben and Max are enjoying the fifth of their ten days in Lanzarote.  I've planted a Minarette Apple tree (variety - Discovery) and there's a joint of pork slow roasting in the oven for pulled pork tonight. No doubt Will has worked up an appetite. The fridge is stocked for the week so now I'm going to settle back for a little embroidery before the light goes - I think the clocks go forward next week so I'll be back to dark mornings for a little while but will appreciate the light nights stretching ahead.
I am nearly on to the last edge of embroidery so this will be finished soon. A bit sad really because I really love sewing these and you can only have so many mats and table runners.

I've a massively busy week ahead of me at work so this hiatus at the weekends is pure joy, especially when I think of next weekend and the start of the F1 season. Yay, stitching and fast cars - who'd have thought?

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Table Runner (and still girly)

This has been a weekend of mixed weather - dull and cloudy yesterday, bright sunshine for most of today but now at half past four it's gone dull and cloudy again.  I've been working with the linen fabric again this weekend. I found some gorgeous soft pink fabric with a lovely delicate design so I decided to make a runner which would be suitable for the chest of drawers in my bedroom but, in different colours would make a nice spring runner for the dining room.

I laid out the pieces
but discovered I had cut the centre piece the wrong size so I had to do some alterations.  I also made the first border narrower to accommodate the stitchery design I wanted to use.
I'm learning the ins and outs of my design programme (Affinity Design) and can now manipulate shapes.  It's a slow process because I have never really worked with a computer design from scratch. Most of my patterns have been hand drawn.  I printed the page and traced them on to fusible web.
After ironing on the flowers and leaves
 I drew a vine which 'loops' around the inner border
and chose some colours to embroider.  The earthier colours on the left are the ones I'll be working with.
So this is the first corner done.  I work on the linen attached to the wadding but will wait until it's all sewn before I put the backing on (like a cushion cover) and quilt through all the layers.
It measures about 15" x 24"

From the 'bakery' this week a simple traybake. Four ingredients - Rice Crispies, toffee, marshmallows and butter
Put the ingredients in (minus the rice crispies)
and melt them very slowly
 to a smooth sauce
add the crispies
 and press into a tin.
There's enough for immediate use and some left for the biscuit tin for snacks at work next week. Yum.

John and Steph are off to Lanzarote with the boys next week so I popped down this afternoon.  It was such a lovely day so I walked round. I was following a man who was out for a walk with twin boys (about 2-3 years old).  When we got to a quiet little cul de sac the boys stopped and looked for traffic. One of them only looked one way before he crossed.  His daddy told him he had to look both ways because if something had been coming he would have got squished flat, like a pizza.  The little boy said - "could you put me in a pizza box then" he asked.  I didn't hear the answer because I was too busy chortling.

Now I'm going to make a beef stew, tidy my stuff away and prepare myself for the week to come - lots of meetings and setting our new budget for next year.

Flossy is continuing to improve and her fur is growing back now. She's been a brave little bunny and am still full of wonder that she survived.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Loving the stitching and the sunshine

Friday night was the wettest I've seen for a long time.  The rain started after lunch and didn't stop until the Saturday morning.  Driving through flooded roads to John's clinic yesterday it felt like the damp and grey winter was never going to end. Today the sun is shining from almost cloudless sky. Yes I am in England! It's warm and almost windless.Why does life feel better when the sun shines?
A quick trip to the dentist yesterday was followed by a spot of shopping before going back to the clinic to hold the fort on reception.
I was looking for kimchi - a vegetable concoction similar to sauerkraut but without the digestive effects. I also called into Lakeland for a yoghurt maker for John.  He eats pots of yoghurt - so does Max. There is a big chinese supermarket in Newcastle which sells loads and loads of asian food, including fresh vegetables like pea aubergines and galangal.  I thought I was buying fresh turmeric but it turned out to be kaempher which has a similar fragrance to lemongrass. I also got some seaweed and sesame crisps (lurv seaweed). Just to redress the balance I got some cookie cutters and little pie moulds.

I'm quite behind with the chores so am sewing and typing in between washing loads.  If it doesn't get finished I'll live with that.  The important places in the house are clean and the rest is a bit of a tip. Hey ho.

Last weekend I started my little girlie mat by tracing a design on to the linen fabric I got last week.
I love the little stitcheries.  I added some appliqué then made a slightly larger shape in fabric.
It's about 7" across
Perfect for a little coffee and cake mat (fully washable)
Rhubarb and custard cupcake - this one was the one of the rejects because I blobbed the icing but the taste is still there!

I've been working on a larger pattern - same design. I've also started a table runner - same colours but different design although they will work together.

The chinese supermarket sold all sorts of china too and I couldn't help myself and came away with a little bowl that is perfect for my Holland and Barrett snacks (oh my halo is shining this week)
The pink flower goes perfectly with the mat.  As I was about the dive into the delicious dried mango, creamy cashew nuts and chocolate brazils, not to mention the sunflower seeds and other little goodies. It got me to thinking - I've seen something similar very recently - 
- in Flossie's bowl. 

It's a funny old life.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Urge to be girly - it must be spring

Just a quick update on Flossie - she is getting stronger each day and is adjusting to life on three legs.  She won't be joining Scruffy in the outside hutch until her wound is healed and her fur grown back though. She's still not eating and drinking as much as we would like but she's survived!  My bank balance, however is in terminal decline. What I have learnt is that the service and care from a vet is second to none.

I came home from the shops the other day with some daffodils and plonked them in the nearest receptacle whilst I unpacked the shopping. The sauce by the way is the same as every other tomato sauce in a jar. Utterly disgusting. I must spend the time to make some proper stuff instead of taking the easy way out. However I think I might give the jar a shabby chic makeover because it it's rather a nice shape.

Talking about Shabby Chic and Girly stuff, I went to visit my friend Jan at The Cotton Tree yesterday and found the Tea Shop next door under new management - formerly Jiggery Pokery - now called Elisa Rose Tea Rooms
Jan said I would love it or hate it. I think I'm more in the latter camp although I recognise the huge amount of work that's gone into it - I just wouldn't like to be the cleaner! They had perfumed candles burning too which I really don't like, especially when I'm eating; it's an assault on the senses, not to say an air pollutant. 

I called into Bradley Gardens Nursery which I have passed so many times and promised myself I would go to.  It's a walled garden - bare at this time of year but still so very interesting:
 Beautiful Hellebores and Snowdrops in an urn
 A Garrya -  (Silk Tassle Plant)
And a standard bay tree next to the beautiful wall.  There's also a fabulous cafe built into the victorian glasshouse along one wall.  Unfortunately I'd just had tea and a piece of tiffin at Elisa Rose but I'll definitely call in at different times of the year to see how the gardens look.  There's also a few lovely shops built into the wall and some plants and (expensive!!) pots for sale.

My friend commissioned a heart for her husband for Valentine's Day.  I had a little angel heart that I had started a long time ago and abandoned because I couldn't get inspiration.
I started by painting over the old colour - there is a little bit of sculpting paste on but I decided to leave it.
Then I painted a plaid background and a little space for the wording - I love the painty clutter on my little table!


I made one of my favourite ever bakes last week
 Millionaire Shortbread - the trimmings are for the chef.
None of your waffer-thin, sprayed on toppings though. Buttery Shortbread with a hint of sea salt, creamy soft caramel and milk chocolate topping, poured over when it just starts to thicken so you get thicker bits, like an Easter Egg.  Nom Nom.

I ran a workshop for would-be Durham Quilters yesterday - there are some promising ladies and they have signed up for a second workshop to learn how to design a wholecloth quilt. This was the most popular choice for the block they made - called a Rose in a Rose.

Alex and Will are braving the wind this afternoon to visit the charming Crook Hall Gardens in Durham City so it's peaceful enough to relax and do some stitching, the weekend chores are done, so it will be guilt free.

So why have I got the urge to do something girly? Not girly like Elisa Rose but fresh and Spring-like.  I think it's the gloom that we have endured for the last few months. There is sunshine today and we have had some bright days but on the whole it has been a gloomy, grey winter.

Some spring shades to make a little hanging and a mat for the chest in my bedroom.
I have a few projects in mind. The linen has sparked my creative juices (mixed metaphors?) to make some hangings. I saw a little mat I liked somewhere on the internet so I have done a rough drawing and will have a little potter making this - about 6"-7" I think. It will have little embroidered flowers around the outside.
So Flossie and I are going to to settle down to watch the rugby this afternoon and I haven't decided whether to start the little mat or continue with my Moorland Blanket. Considering last Sunday was spent wondering whether the little bunny would survive her operation I feel so glad that I am now watching her nibbling sweetly at some kale and groom her little face so daintily.

Until next time xxxx



Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Little Flossie in trouble again

What a weekend! Little Flossie Rabbit - the one we acquired because Steph is allergic to her, (they got her for Ben); the one who was stolen from her hutch and was found four days later by someone who got in touch with us via Facebook - that Flossie - do you remember?  When Will cleans out their hutch we put them in a little run in the garden.  A cat appeared in the garden and Flossie went wild, careering about the run.  To cut a long story short she managed to trap her foot and was so desperate to get free she broke her leg.  She broke her leg so badly that she needed to have it amputated. On Saturday night we had to transfer her to the overnight emergency vet after her operation so they could look after her. She had a canula in her left ear which was bandaged in red.
Will, my big tough first-born was absolutely devastated, I have to admit I was as upset about him being so upset. She came home on Monday (yesterday) and we have been feeding her with what is essentially liquid hay and medicine to make her guts work.  Apparently rabbit tummies shut down very quickly. She's not out of the woods but things are looking better. This afternoon she was well enough to give me the stink-eye when I gave her some medicine.  Getting back to normal then.

I'm supposed to be spring cleaning but can't get on because Flossie's hutch is in the middle of the living room. Now I'm stressed out thinking I'll not get things I had planned for the week done and will be back to work with a house that could quite easily be called a skip.  A bit of crochet is in order I think. Then some pattern writing for a workshop on Saturday.

Deep breaths.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

No sunshine? - I'll make my own bright day

It has been sunny some days but somehow the weekends seem to be dull. It's bright when I look out of my office window and dull when I want to take photos. But I have so much colour....
Did I mention I like Lime Green?  This is going to be the backing for my Blue Jacob Quilt
I've let myself be persuaded to machine quilt it and I'm not looking forward to it but onward and upward. If you don't try and all that.  I've machine quilted before and never been that happy with the results but I'm giving it another try. I'll get going the week after next as I'm taking half term off.  I didn't used to record my holidays and now I do, I realise that I was never taking enough - for the past ten years I've probably lost 20 weeks worth of holidays. Silly me.

I have started on a pattern for a baby quilt.  It's a chevron pattern but made from rectangles rather than half square triangles.
I had a bundle of four fat quarters from way back when (actually some of the fabric has faded). Its called Oh Baby by Sandy Gervais.
First sew a background strip to a coloured strip - these are two and a half inches but as long as you cut the strip units into into squares it would work with any size strip
 Then sew the squares together to make a two- unit patch.
You build the units together in diagonal rows starting with a single unit and adding to either side on each row.  I couldn't get my head round it at first but have managed to make enough sense to write a little pattern.
This is the top half way through.
And this is it with just the corner to sew on - I apologise for the changing colours - some pictures are taken in natural light and some with a flash.
So this is waiting to have the pointy bits trimmed off.  I think it's going to be about 30" x 40" so I'll need to put some sort of border on - haven't decided what yet. I haven't got any more of the coloured fabric and it's quite old so I can't find any in the shops.  There's an odd bit on eBay but not enough for a border. I'll have to get my thinking cap on.

Will had a great time in Norway and brought me back a little hand carved spoon.
It's handy for putting stitch markers in.
I'm still using them for the Moorland Blanket.  I'm just coming up to the end of Part Two and Part 6 has just been published. So whilst Lucy is flying among the clouds I'm still tip-toeing though the heather. I'm loving it.

I've not been doing a huge amount of baking recently
A little coffee and walnut cake
Some chocolate and raspberry cupcakes (I use yoghurt to keep the cakes moist and only had raspberry yoghurt in the fridge!)

I burnt some jam tart quite spectacularly last week. Later this afternoon I'm getting my baking head on - what will it be I wonder? I'll remember to put the timer on whatever I cook.

I've been commissioned to do a couple of little painting projects.  One for a fiftieth birthday card
I painted a 'quilt' on to water colour paper and then stuck that to some card.  I meant to do it 'portrait' but I  painted the hearts on 'landscape' before I realised.

The next task (for this afternoon while I watch the Six Nations) is a little heart for a friend at work to give her husband for Valentine's Day.

Will is in Jedburgh this weekend with Alex and I expect they may have as much snow as they did in Norway judging by the weather forecast on the television.  It's still raining here - hasn't stopped since Friday - just so dull outside.  I'm so glad I have lots of bright things to work with whilst I am indoors.

Before I start on those lovely things there's a laundry basket full of ironing with my name on it. Until next time, be well and safe.

xxx