Friday, 30 December 2016

Relaxing at full tilt

Oh Boxing Day - I love it! The fridge is stacked with all sorts of goodies. The house is reasonably tidy and clean. It is also cosy and homely with all the Christmas decorations still up. I'm not one of these that has the tree up early. Mine usually goes up when school finishes and come down as we return so I have fourteen days of Christmas. I put the star on top on Christmas Day. I'm not a believer but I respect it is a Christian festival and hate the commercialisation of this time of the year. But don't get me started on that..... So anyway - no meals to worry about for a couple of days. Visits have been made and returned. No guilt for taking a couple of days to relax and create.  The dilemma is - do I lie back and relax or do I get busy and relax? Silly me! I can do both!
So I sandwiched a quilt ready to sew this week.  The design is very simple - there will be a square in the plain blocks and then quilting in the ditch. I have written a pattern for this which will be available at High Street Quilting after the New Year.  I've been quilting away when I can this week but the light has been so bad and the pattern doesn't lend itself to squinting!

I have also nearly completed a pattern for the colour block quilt - yet to be photographed.

So many squares!

My big resolution for 2017 is to produce proper saleable patterns for the quilts and projects I make. I firmly believe that most of what you achieve is down to how hard you work to achieve it. I just feel as though I don't get myself into gear like I used to - is it age? Is it fitness? I don't know but I'm going to put my efforts into 'Achieving' this coming year. My to-do lists for the weekends worked reasonably well in 2016 so I'll have to develop the habit further in 2017.

2017 is a prime number (why I should get excited about prime numbers is a mystery, but I do) and for me that's enough to make an effort to make it special.  I've got a lovely diary to help with this:
It runs alongside my electronic diary at work. I think both have a place and I don't mind duplicating the entries. The electronic one is accessible across all my devices as they say, and I can set reminders that flash up,  but it doesn't have beautiful flowers. Perhaps there is a gap in the market! 

Alex is staying this weekend for New Year (traditionally quiet in this house). She and Will are spending the evening with Will's best friend. I think I've got Ben - not sure yet but I'm so chilled after this break I feel like a new person. I only worked one day during the holidays and that was to clear my office of Christmas Fair and PTA paraphernalia.  

I've missed having my best friend this year - it's been so quiet! She wanted to spend Christmas with her son who is flying the nest in 2017 (again!)

So at the weekend I'll do a quick photo tour of some of the things I've been doing during the Missing Weeks.

See you on Sunday xxxx

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Cosy Christmas Greetings

The stockings were hung.... This is the latest in my snow family Christmas stockings - this one is for Will's beautiful girlfriend, Alex.
This post will be written over a number of hours during Christmas day, I'm going to dip in and out.  Just now it is 7am - quiet and no-one is up. The presents are all round the tree. I'm drinking a lovely hot cup of coffee and eating a brioche.
Yes that is a garden incinerator below.  It was on my Christmas list!
I love my morning coffee, when I am at work, it's the only one I can guarantee will be hot all the way down to the last sip! I'm going to pop round to John's to see the boys and take their presents in an hour or so.  

We had a lovely Christmas Eve lunch together yesterday. All my boys round the table. Ahh. Well actually Max was sparked out on the sofa. 

Sorry about the quality of the photos - the light was bad and my phone isn't very forgiving. That and photography is not one of my strong points of course.

Back to this morning: Ben loved his lego train 
But Max was more interested in Postman Pat
Ben started to sort his pieces out and Max continued to watch.  My father would have said he would get square eyes from being that close to the telly.
Back at home I made the stuffing (oh I love chestnuts) and prepped all the veggies. I'm not that organised now although when the kids were little I used to be up until gone midnight sorting things so  the big day was devoted to revelling in the joy of Christmas with little ones. We also had various relations to dinner which meant you could chat rather than peel sprouts.  

The Christmas Pudding is a sheer indulgence. I always plan to make a pud in the October half term break and never do. But this is the nicest one I have ever tasted. With a little Bailey's Irish cream flavoured cream it is GORGEOUS. 

I made a flourless chocolate cake for lunch yesterday and Will can have that for his pud (although he probably won't eat it straight after). He doesn't like Christmas pudding. The cake was made with chocolate, butter sugar and whipped eggs. It filled the mixing bowl
 Half filled the cake tin
 And looked like brownie when baked.
It tastes more like mousse. Actually if I hadn't cooked it that's exactly the same recipe I would make for mousse. The recipe is from Edd Kimber  (The Boy Who Bakes)

We won't eat until 5pm.  A throw back from the farm when we ate after all the animals had been settled down for the night.  My father in law liked to eat at lunch time which meant we had to feed the cattle about 3pm - a bit tipsy and very full.  It's not the best end to a Christmas Dinner! That was one tradition I ditched as soon as I could! We just eat brunch now and then we can stretch out after dinner knowing that everything is safely away for the night. Actually I think I'll get a quick bite. Its 12.40 now, maybe I could crack open the Bucks Fizz....

So the meal was cooked, the kitchen tidied, the available washing up all done and the bird carved.
All that shopping, preparing and slaving. The turkey was tasty and the trimmings all delicious. But what a lot of fuss! (I love it and will do it all again next year of course).  Actually we have enough stuff prepared for a few days.  It's not just down to one meal. It's been very quiet this year, very calm. The one annoying thing is that I couldn't find the snow globe placemats I made, especially for this one meal.  

Hey ho.

6.50pm and I haven't had any Christmas pudding.  I am now in my pyjamas.  So to finish off the poem - Happy Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Missing Weeks

Next in line for quilting- I rather like the asymmetrical bits of this quilt - I've called it Sands of Time because it is made up of hour glass blocks and, although you can't see from the photo, all the fabrics have little dots on them. I thought it was quite a good opener for this blog which follows hard on the heels of my last blog. Missing weeks - well quite a few. Six months ago? Really?
Reasons, not excuses. My assistant at work was off for a few weeks following an operation and, due to lack of spare cash I decided not to get a temp in to replace.  The girls at work all pulled together but all the financial expertise resides in the two of us, so that left me (and a fair pile of stuff to greet her on her return). Of all the people in our department she is has one of the heaviest workloads and gets on with it so well that you only realise how much she does when she isn't there. Anyhow she is back and has managed to catch up with the things that we agreed to leave for her return. I feel like a weight has been lifted and am ready to charge ahead. Extra workload does not sit lightly on an old chook like me, so other things had to give. Then you get out of the habit and although I have read and re-read all the blogs I follow I just couldn't get back into the swing of writing weekly. And then there is Autumn Term.....  We broke up on Friday and I made myself a to-do list:

  • Sleep the clock round
  • Take down some cobwebs (they only exist when I have my glasses on)
  • Eat some chocolate
  • Wander aimlessly around the garden centre for an hour
  • Finish sewing the binding on a quilt.

Well I'm happy to report I did four out of the five. Since I haven't got my glasses on I can't see the only one I missed.

This is the quilt that I have just finished binding - I'll share some better pics when I can take them in good light. I have it wrapped around my legs now.
Finished at last is a little lap quilt (about 48" square) made from flannels and other homespuns. I love it.  I have had a little problem with my Cloud storage (damn you autofill! - I'll explain later) so I have some work to do to gather my pictures back into one place.

So, as Christmas day approaches, I will gather all the photos I have taken since May and make a little gallery - just a quick tour because I have not done as much stitching and crafting as I normally do. Hopefully I will be back in the swing and more organised.  I am only working a couple of days over the Christmas period so I am intending to rest my poor old bones ready for 2017. I like the number seventeen - it's a prime number!

See you soon.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Hooking again

Quite a while ago I found a pattern via My Rose Valley called 'Maybelle Flower'.  I made a few garlands from this lovely pattern. Later Annette wrote up a pattern to turn the Maybelle Flower into a square.  I tried a sample:
It was filed in the back of my mind for a later project as I have a number (ha ha) of projects on the go.  Just recently Annette published a free pattern on her website for a baby blanket made out of these lovely squares. Well it being pay day and all I decided to treat myself to some of the yarn she stocks in her online shop.  To cut a long story short the colours were out of stock but they should be delivered this week.  But of course I had an urge to crochet which had to be satisfied so I got my much beloved and long term hexagon project out this weekend.
This is a project where the pleasure is very much in the making. I have no time scale for this.  I did however decide that I needed to have some idea of the size, or rather create a straight edge. Mostly people seem to leave the shape as it is but I would like to have a border on this. I could find a few half hexagon patterns but none that looked right with this particular hexagon.

I decided to try my hand at making my own half hexagon to match.  The first attempt wasn't very successful but the second one (on the right) fits perfectly.
The original patten for the hexagon is in Susan Pinner's book 'Granny Squares' and is edged around the shape of the hexagons:
So now I have to work out how to straighten the top edge.  I found some instructions on Polka Dot Cottage  for half hexagons and the little filler along the top which is the next experiment.

Apart from that I have done very little this bank holiday weekend. I went round to help Steph with the boys (Max is still poorly - he's been on antibiotics for a few weeks) and I played with Ben while she put Max to bed.  Ben said "Brendie, can I come to your house to sleep tonight?" (Big hazel eyes....) He was already in his pyjamas and I had walked down but the night was fine so Steph packed some clothes in his bag and we wrapped him up in his Spiderman dressing gown.  Along with Sandy the extremely dog-eared dog (under left arm), we walked round to my house.
We had fresh eggs and soldiers for breakfast - the columbine hen lays lovely green/blue eggs with deep, deep golden yolks:
and then Will brought Flossie in for a cuddle. She very kindly behaved herself (she bites me) but she wouldn't be tempted with the spinach leaves.  She'll take your arm off for dandelion leaves.
This morning I went off the the dentist.  We have a saying in our house - "you don't have to floss all your teeth - just the ones you want to keep". It is so easy to keep your teeth healthy I don't know why  people put themselves through the pain and smelly breath thing.  The trouble you have when you don't look after them is not worth it. Anyway I got a clean bill of health - excellent oral hygiene and number ones all round. If only I could apply the same principles to my weight loss regime. Back to the drawing board on that one, sadly.

It was really windy yesterday and there were HUGE amounts of seeds scattered up and down the road.
Happily the little tiny plums on my trees were not blown off!

Well it's Max's first birthday on Friday - how quick did the past year go? I'm back to work tomorrow but off again on Friday.  It's been a very lazy weekend - just what the doctor ordered.

Monday, 23 May 2016

More hexagon work - more everything

Sorry about the gap in blogging - normal excuse - time runs out. I know I ought to organise my time better but the truth is I do most of my stitching at the weekend and always think that the blog post will be more interesting by the end of Sunday. Really the best time to sit quietly at my laptop is on a Sunday morning.  So here is q quick tour of what I have been up to:

Working on the hexagon bag (it looks very wrinkly at the moment).

Lined with green fabric and ready to stitch up - I think I might put some flowers on the front.

Looking after babies whilst their sleep deprived parents have a night in silence
Max has had a bad chest for a couple of weeks and it wakes him up at night. As always in these cases he didn't wake up once when he was staying here. Why do kids do that?

Baking cheesecake for a wedding Will and Alex went to and making cupcakes with some of the cheesecake mix.
 A happy coincidence of timing.
Eating the freshest egg - poached on toast, speckled with enough fresh ground black pepper to make your eyes water and  served with a strong brew of coffee
Ben came for two nights and we went into town to visit a toy shop that made Ben's eyes pop out.
 Eating Percy Pig biscuits in Marks and Spencer's
Visiting Sandra to paint and drop off a couple of quilts - gosh it was good to see her and have a lovely gentle chat about life
 To Beamish Museum on Sunday where we met up with Uncle Matt aged 7 - it was so hot.

They were shattered (I slept rather well myself that night!)

I rescued a bat (with the permission of the RSPCA)
Bound the edges of  the 'Americana' quilt (to go to Quilts for Comfort)
Finished a cardigan with eight inches of yarn to spare
 Made some circles for a new quilt I'm doing

Little padded 'buttons' on a chequerboard background - three lines done five more to do.
Made some more cheesecake by special request - this time a quick version - mascarpone cheese whipped up with raspberry jelly and some lemon juice. I poured a little bit of jelly over the top to make a glaze. It was more like mousse than cheesecake but edible of course!

So next weekend is a bank holiday - I have a list of things to do - none of them housework - I'm such a slattern!