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.