Monday, 31 August 2015

Happy update!

I am so pleased to be able to say that Flossie is back with us!  We put posters out and got a phone call from someone saying he saw a man carrying a rabbit not far from here and then about half an hour later we got another call from someone saying a rabbit answering Flossie's description was under her car.  Will rushed round and it was indeed our little rabbit.

I really didn't think this was going to be a happy ending but she is back with us, a little scruffy and very subdued, but now safe and well.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Distracted by triangles

I know I have a million things to do but this morning I just couldn't help myself.  I thought I would just have a little play with some crochet.  I bought an e-book, called Madder Triangles by Amanda Perkins yesterday, but had some trouble working through the pattern I wanted to do. It is very lopsided and has concave sides which look quite lacy

So I thought I would have a little play to make it look more even.  I don't know whether I'm reading the pattern wrong - it looks like the picture but it doesn't seem even.  In my early Sunday slot I made some different versions.
 To cut a long story short the 'early session' lasted until half past ten.
The original triangle is top left and the final version I tried is top right.  It is more rounded than the original but I like my version better. I even wrote down the instructions for using later! I don't know what it is going to be but I love the shape - a cotton blanket maybe? I've missed my crochet which has been put away for the summer and I'm looking forward to getting it out again.  I want to make a ripple blanket with the wool I have left over from the Crochet Along Blanket I made last year.

My tasks for this weekend involve pattern writing and stitching.  I worked on a border for the Durham Quilt yesterday and stitched today.
Half square triangles ready to sew - I made too many!
Flying geese and squares - along with background rectangles for stitcheries.
The patches were all sewn together and ready to add stitchery designs
I love this stage.

I've still got quite a lot to do but it is shaping up.  The pattern in written and the stitcheries are all designed.

At the class this week Karen brought her finished hexagon bag - love the colours.
and it's full of knitting - a lovely cable baby blanket.

We had chocolate orange cupcakes,
and did a lot of chatting - we even fitted in some sewing time.  Steph made a lovely little pram quilt for a friend's baby - if she hasn't finished it yet I'll try and get a picture.

The Durham Quilts are coming on apace. I'm busy designing a border for one lovely lady who has made a 4 x 3 quilt and wants it to be bigger.  She's doing an amazing job as this is her first quilting project - her stitches are so beautifully neat. She has chosen a lovely mustard coloured thread to match the back of the quilt so there is nowhere to hide uneven stitches!  She's really keen to design her own whole cloth quilt next. I just love the enthusiasm of the ladies at this class.

On a rather sad note, Ben's little rabbit was stolen from our back garden this week. 

Will put a message on social media and it looks like someone took her in a drunken state. We may get her back but I'm not holding out any hopes.

 I haven't seen Ben and Max this weekend as they've been to Christenings and rugby matches (I'm secretly loving the peace) but look forward to seeing them all tomorrow.

So, I'll be finishing off the patterns and getting ready for the start of the Autumn Term.   I've been back at work for nearly two weeks but it's a whole different ball game when the children are there!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Out and about

This has been a mixed week of energy and lethargy. My friend arrived from Surrey last Tuesday and we have been tracking the weather with our activities. We are both recharging batteries so there has not been that much cooking - we have mostly eaten salads which require minimal preparation! One we didn't prepare was this lush Ploughman's lunch which we ate on our visit to beautiful Corbridge, nestled in the wonderful countryside of Northumberland.
This was a little table set on a pavement in the centre of the village. We went to Brocksbushes Farm to pick some soft fruit. The raspberries were nearly finished, although if you looked carefully there were still some lovely juicy fragrant fruits.

The blackberries weren't quite ready, but given the lovely sunshine we are having I don't think they'll be long,

 The redcurrants and blackcurrants were abundant and we collected loads of those,

Back at home we ate some sharp and tangy currants
and then I put the rest on to trays to freeze.

I think we got about three kilos of fruit which will last me a couple of months or so. I love yogurt and fruit for my breakfast with a little tablespoon of muesli.
Karin and I have been so busy gassing, we haven't done much sewing, although I managed to finish off the handles for the hexagon bag at last.
 Which will be perfect for a knitting bag. Here it is with the little bag alongside.

Some of the ladies at the class are making this bag. I love seeing the different colours people choose.  For our sweet treat this week we had millionaire's shortbread,
I used the recipe from BBC Good Food which is a rather decadent one. You could easily half the recipe but this was for a crowd! The only thing I did differently was the shortbread base.  I just make a crumbly mixture and press it into a lined tin. I find the shortbread is much crisper. When you roll it out it gets tougher. I also ran out of milk chocolate (the resident mouse - aka John - seems to have eaten nearly half the bar). I had some white chocolate which he hadn't noticed so I spooned alternate pools of milk and white chocolate on top of the caramel and swirled them together. Steph and Karin came to the class. Steph is making a  baby quilt for a friend and Karin is making some placemats for her sister, for that event in December we don't talk about at this time of year.
She had a picture which she'd found on the internet, so I wrote her a pattern. She tested it out and I think these are going to be rather good. The way I construct the star points, by laying a square over the rectangle and then sewing a diagonal line, then cutting off the extra, makes for good accuracy but leaves what I call bunny ears.
Karin had 24 of these so we sewed a test patch which could be used as a coaster. She is going to sew the rest together just into half square triangles for the moment until she decides what to do with them.
Today we went out with Baby Max while Ben was at the childminder (he goes two mornings a week to play with other children just to ease him in to Nursery School in a few months) and the three of us had coffee at one of the lovely garden centres near here.  Steph got some French Lavender and I got a lovely wisteria plant which I will train along my back wall.

A baby robin shared our cake, cheeky little chappy.
Karin and I went on to an architectural yard to see if I can find some victorian rope edge tiles to go down the side of my front garden path. They didn't have any but I will keep trying. Afterwards we went down to the seaside which was only a couple of miles away and there were some slightly larger birds trying to share our lunch. I am so pleased I live near the coast - there is nothing like fresh sea air.
We have just arrived back after seeing Mission Impossible 3 - Rogue Nation, which I thoroughly enjoyed and so did Karin (despite not being too sure about going).  So tonight we will be kicking back with a cool beer and Karin will off tomorrow to the sunny south - and me?  Sadly, I am back to work on Wednesday. 

Out and about over for another summer. Where does the time go?

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Bag tutorial done but list of chores still long, so very long.

So at last we have the bag done - well actually this is the little sister. 

To cut a long story short I didn't take photos when I was making the full size bag, so I decided to make a mini bag and photo it throughout the process.  In making the little bag I discovered a better way to make the handle but now do not have enough red fabric to complete the new-style handle on the big bag.  No problem, I need some of the red to do some Christmas orders (no! already) so I'll get some more on Tuesday.  So I will give the measurements for the large bag but you can make any sized hexagon - you just need to adjust the size of the handles.  You can see how to do it here or click on the tab at the top of the page.

In other news this week I have um, well um, not done much. Why do I get more done when I'm busy?  Truth be told it's not all me. The "would you mind" comes into play here. I spent Tuesday doing absolutely nothing (planned that way). I started a new book - the Girl on the Train - which sort of sucked me in. It was a really good read. I sometimes guess the end, but love the books where I'm wrong - this was one of those.  
I've done more cooking than usual.  More eating than usual.

I've written two new patterns but need some better photos before I get them ready to sell.

I spent a few hours at the Metro Centre on Wednesday, or was it Thursday? doing my annual panic buying of clothes so that I don't have to go out into the crowds any more than is totally necessary. I baked some Pear Belle Helen cupcakes on Thursday afternoon for the class. Oops none left to photo (note to self - take pictures as soon as they are done).  Karen brought me a lovely present from America - a beautiful little notebook with a magnetic clasp.

On Saturday morning I got a panic phone call because Steph was going into work and they realised that John had a client booked in for 9am.  Could I look after the boys and he would be back by 10am?

They left not long before 6pm.  

John came back about 11am but then worked on the little black car which is going in for its MOT tomorrow. Ben and Grace (next door but one and Ben's cousin once removed) ran between the two houses all afternoon.  I'm not sure where these came from
but they only had enough stalk on to go into a shot glass.  So pretty though.

Will needed an errand run this afternoon which extended from a ten minute job to a couple of hours ....are you getting the picture?

So now it's Sunday afternoon and I'm not nearly prepared for my friend who will arrive on Tuesday.  Well not so much prepared as haven't done the weekly wash, painted the banisters, put up the black out blinds, decluttered the cupboards or shopped for any food.  Apart from that everything is hunky dory. 

Tomorrow's list includes painting, cleaning windows, washing vertical blinds and fitting them with new chains and bottoms, washing curtains, clothes and cooking.  Day in the life eh! I will be sneaking in some stitching time for my next project - some sneak previews will be available next week.

If somebody could hypnotise me into saying "no" please let me know. Sadly I'll probably ignore them because Mammies are hardwired to say yes and I don't think I could live any other way and, besides, I would have nothing to complain about.  

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Once in a Blue Moon

On Thursday, after the class, I was unloading the car.  When I turned round I saw this - the second full moon of the month - a Blue Moon.
This was taken at about 9pm and it it got better. I find the moon a fascinating celestial body.  I was 15 when the first Moon Landings took place and I can remember looking up and not quite being able to believe that someone was actually walking on it as I watched.  That fascination has never stopped.  I love watching the phases of the moon, seeing a golden harvest moon, lunar eclipses, stories of the moon and its effects on earth. Lovely.

For the class I baked some more lemon bars - so decadent - sharp, sweet and buttery.
I've been experimenting with some other flavours - this afternoon I baked some chocolate malt cupcakes (with Ovaltine).  These are quite strange in that they didn't look like they were properly baked even though the skewer came out clean.  They are moist and quite like brownies but very light, with a lovely malty flavour. 
I've been working on the hexagon bag tutorial and hope to have that published later this week.  It's spawned all sorts of ideas for other projects which I'm madly writing down in my notebook in case I forget (sorry, when I forget). I didn't take enough photos of the original make, so I've done some more hexagons - just smaller.
I'm also drawing some more blocks for the Durham Quilt, although I have finished my nine-block version. One of the ladies wants to make a much bigger quilt with twelve blocks and an eight inch border.  It's been very difficult to get a decent photo of the quilt and I'm afraid the best one is hanging on my washing line.  The pretty centre block doesn't photograph well but you can at least see the depth that quilting gives to a fabric. If I can manage a better one I'll publish it here later. This really doesn't do it justice. 
It will be on display at High Street Quilting from next week.  I've written a pattern for a cushion cover which can use any of the blocks but I need to get my head round writing all the parts for the quilt, and making sure all the patterns are accurate.  There's a world away from writing a pattern for a complete stranger to buy and teaching a pattern to the ladies in the class.

John is busy putting the little Seat Arosa back on the road. The starter motor and driver's window stopped functioning a while ago and it has been sitting in my garage waiting for them to get it going again. John and Ben worked on the repairs on Sunday. " Daddy, I fixing the buttons" (tightening the nuts on the door cover).
while Max had a quick bottle (he looks positively tipsy)
Then Ben did a bit of washing, 

which quickly degenerated into a splash splash session.
How was I to know he had new Ralph Lauren shoes on? My lovely little boys grew up on a farm and I can't remember ever buying designer clothes for them.  

They did get dressed up every now and then but it was probably once in a Blue Moon.