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?

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Marriage Preparations

Tomorrow morning John and Steph are flying off to Spain to make final arrangements for the The Marriage Part Two.

The Marriage Part One takes place in this country on 1st June (just them and their two witnesses) and then 25 of us are flying out to a little whitewashed village in the mountains of Andalusia looking over the Mediterranean to a villa where they will have a ceremony.

John has hired the villa in Sayalonga for nine days and is providing bed and breakfast, so to speak, for all the guests. So we all get to spend a week in the sun instead of a rushed few hours in dodgy weather.  The whole thing will cost them much less than a 'do' in this country lasting only a few hours. That's with the villa hire the wedding planner and all her paraphenalia,  breakfasts, wedding food and drinks and all the do-dads and gewgaws that you have at weddings.

So over the next four days they are meeting the wedding planner and caterer, checking out local amenities and hairdressers and generally making sure everything is going to go smoothly.  We'll all fly out on or about the 19th June ready for the ceremony on 23rd June.

I'm staying at their house until Sunday with the boys but we will keep in touch via Skype for updates. It's the longest and furthest they will have been away from the boys so I hope they are all ok.  The weather looks good for this weekend so we will spend plenty of time in the garden. Ben will be at school on Thursday and Friday so Max and I can play to our heart's content!  I'll pack my bags today and be there, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for 6.45am tomorrow. I'll bake  today for the class on Thursday night and have all the patterns prepared by tonight.  Steph's Mam is looking after the boys while I teach on Thursday night and then again on Sunday afternoon so I can come back and get some things done, or I'll have no clothes for work!

I spent a happy couple of hours on my June Mini Quilt - I just need a bee button to finish it.

My hand cut wooden ones are too big (from my tea cosy - I have a few wooden ones left to paint)
I can only see some pretty naff plastic ones online so I'm going to see if the local laser cutter can make some little buttons for me. They are too small to hand cut. I've got a few designs for buttons, including strawberries, bunnies, pumpkins and beehives, so watch this space...

I don't think I showed a picture of the May Mini Quilt so here it is.

It all came out a bit paler than I intended. I'm getting the patterns together so that they can be downloaded in pdf form, but that will have to wait until I'm off work for a few days. I'm just wondering whether I can take my laptop to Spain for my early morning sessions before the world gets up.

July will be on the design wall soon. I thought I had a little wire hanger that would be suitable for them all but the little wooden dowel is too thick to use pegs on and I haven't sewn any sleeves on to the back of the quilts.  At the moment they are pinned on to another mini quilt on my beehive display hanger
but hopefully when I get the little buttons done I'll be able to make some pretty pegs to hang them on to a wire hanger.  I get so frustrated that there isn't enough time to do all the little design ideas I have.

On the logo front I'm getting on quite well

It took me ages to 'countrify' the heart. When I first did it the shapes were completely even and I wanted it to be asymmetric like the original. It's almost there.  I'm using the experience of drawing mottled backgrounds for future projects.  I loved doing the little patches.
So now the plasterer is here and I'm sitting my the bed so I don't breathe in the dust. Lordy I get paranoid about breathing pollution. Scented candles, air fresheners, spray products are all on my list of banned products! I even keep my mouth clamped shut when I'm mixing icing sugar!

2pm will come so quickly today. I hope the plasterer finishes in time to allow me to go shopping or I'll have to do it when I have finished work tonight. Actually I think I might bake at John's tomorrow when Ben is at school and then he can help me ice the cakes when he gets home.

Well I better make a shopping list and gather my things together, although if I forget anything I'll just pop Max into his pushchair and walk up. I suppose that's the good thing about living close by.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

More progress on the logo

I've been spending my early mornings productively. An hour before I go to work I fire up the computer and do a little more work on the designs.
I made a little fabric patch this morning. These are just screen shots - the elements will be clear and sharp when I've finished. I've been learning about Gaussian Blurs and Inner Glows, Brush Strokes and Shadows.

I must, however get to grips with my stitching. It's been neglected of late whilst I have been finishing my Moorland Blanket.  I was curled up in my nest on Sunday watching the F1 and doing the border.

I didn't follow the pattern exactly as I didn't like the 'sky' - I thought it didn't look right. So the lovely blues will be ready to make a little baby blanket I think. I started with the greens but went off piste a bit later on.
I used the colours in the pack but in a different order. I also made it square rather than a full bed size because I missed out the sky section.

Stretched out in its wrinkly glory - how do you 'block' a blanket I ask myself? 

So now I can carry on with my new blanket guilt free - It is so relaxing to do - no thoughts, just quiet rhythm.
How dull it is today - I can't get the photos to show their bright jewel colours properly.

I've been having a bit of a battle with a bias tape maker and some iron on bias tape. I managed to get it stuck to the iron twice and a quarter inch binding for the flower stems is very fiddly.  The trouble is I would have to make a satin stitch stem to achieve the same width and that doesn't look right.

However, the May Block is done - not one of my favourites, I rushed the colours and they are a bit bland - I think June and October are at the top of the list but you'll have to wait a bit for those.

I'm just going to the shops to get the ingredients to make a batch of Guinness Cupcakes. An experiment for the ladies at the class who are very patient with my varied bakes! The flapjack last week was very nice - maybe a bit soft, I don't think I left it in long enough and also poured the fudge sauce over the top when it was still warm so it was absorbed into the oats.
I really must allow more time to make things! It has lovely ingredients on the top
 Almonds, apricots, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
I had to leave the end without topping as nuts make Will gag!

So, onward and upward the shopping is calling and at 11.20 I think I better get dressed!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Peaceful creating

Everything is quiet here - the busy week at work is finished as we tried to cram 5 days worth of appointments into 4 - two weeks running! Will is away in Norfolk visiting with Alex's grandparents. The household chores are done and I have a few hours to satisfy my soul. I've been working on creating a digital version of my Strawberry Patches Logo
It's what they call a steep learning curve but I'm enjoying it much more than I thought I would, considering how much I like to get my paints out and dabble. I need to work on how the light hits the strawberries. Good old YouTube!  In the end it will look the same as the design I painted but very much clearer and Web-friendly

The original was painted on to mdf and photographed with my phone a few years ago!
It's a pretty fuzzy image and was painted when I was still getting to grips with the idea of shading. Creating the image digitally is, surprisingly, equally as enjoyable and certainly not a quick process - it took about twice as long to produce the digital strawberries as if I had painted them - all those strawberry pips! I'm still trying to master the drawing pad - looking at the screen and moving your hand as two separate tasks is quite alien. I quite often end up using the track pad and keyboard to draw. You have to really concentrate and also need to be organised with the each layer you create.

The crochet projects provide a creative activity which requires very little concentration - almost like meditating as you repeat the mantra - chain 3, treble 3, chain 3, treble 3. Now the yarn has arrived I'm on the last leg of my moorland blanket and loving it. I wanted a curvy edge - I'm afraid it wasn't planned. I just started crocheting. I feel like I need to take a trip out to the local fell and take some pictures, but it is so muddy...
I'll probably stretch it out on my bed to photograph in all it's glory.  It's taken over a year to do (not much crocheting in the summer months) but it was never a must-finish project. I just enjoyed the process.

I've been busy making food for the week because I get home after work and eat cheese on toast because I can't be bothered to do anything else.

Broth is always a good way to get a good mix of vegetables - lunch today with a cheese topped bun. I'll take some to work too but without the bread. You can't have a nap after lunch at work!  The vegetables change each time depending what's in the fridge.  Ideally I like to cook a little piece of ham for the stock but sometimes I just fry some bacon.  This one has leeks, onions, celariac, potatoes, white snowball turnip, and a little sweet potato pinched from the roasted wedges I cooked last week.
Chicken thighs are always a good choice - sticky glazed, yum.  These will go into some fried rice for Will's supper and with some salad leaves for  lunch.
There's beef roasting in the oven for dinner tonight and plenty left over to make some boxes for the freezer for Will's lunch/dinner during the week.

So now I'm going to get hooking and watch the Bahrain F1 and eat the little chocolate present I was given - heaven!

So rich and utterly delicious - very sweet so I'll make a little pot of tea to wash it down. Considering how sweet this is I always surprise myself that I can't tolerate tea with sugar in it!
I might need a little nap first though - how a love a quiet Sunday at home!

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Part 25 of the leaky pipes saga

So another plumber has come to see if they can fix the leaky pipe. I have high hopes for this one. The boiler pressure hasn't changed since he left this morning.  There is no drip coming from the hole in the ceiling.
It started as a tiny little mark when they started a few weeks ago and quickly became a hole.  It was a Dyno-Rod plumber that came today and he told me something the British Gas engineer left out - my Homecare policy covers 're-instatement' so they will fix the hole and replaster. Funny how they omitted that bit before isn't it?  They won't be coming until 18th April but it will give us a chance to make sure the leak is fixed.

It was a strange Easter this year. I was working on the Saturday until 4pm so didn't feel the four day break like I normally get and all the days are mixed up now.  Hey ho it'll all be a distant memory soon!  Good thing is the roads are clear during school holidays.

So one of my Easter Eggs gave me a slight hangover -
I didn't realise the beer was 9% before I quaffed it. Luscious but very strong!  Will and Alex gave me a lovely little basket of eggs - they were on my little work table when I came down on Sunday morning
Not much left now though!

Alex made some luscious red bean burgers for tea on Monday and I've got a couple left in the freezer to have for my supper when I get home tonight.
They were a bit loose! They fried up nicely though and we had some sweet potato wedges with them. Very tasty - flavoured with miso paste, chilli and smoked paprika. I think they would be lovely with some salad leaves too.

I've been making caramel sauce this morning - a little topping for a seeded nutty flapjack.
 The cook's perks!
And look what I found this morning! I've been looking for them for ages.  They will be going above my utensil rack in the kitchen when they're painted. 
Sadly, I've not done much quilting this weekend.  More on the crochet because of the lack of any need for concentration
The only thing is,  I unwound the first ball from the centre and the second which I have just joined from the outside so the colours didn't blend,but I'm not really bothered in the grand scheme of things. I may get home tonight and decide to unpick it. Or I may not...

So now I must get on and work. Until next time, sweet stitching to you all.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Well it's Summer on the Blog

I know it's not summer out there - boy do I know that - but I thought a little change in theme on the blog would be appropriate.  It's a work in progress so expect changes.  I'm trying to do more designing so I'll be working on the title bar next so that it fits in better with the theme.  When I first started I didn't know how to do anything at all!  I would like to be able to attach patterns but I can't do this on Blogger as far as I know. I want to have my own background themes so that I don't have to rely on third parties for them, although there are some fabulous themes out there.

As I write this the rain is lashing against the window but I am snug and cosy wrapped up in my 'almost finished' Moorland Blanket.  I ran out of the colour I'm using for the edge.
I've loved doing this blanket but it's finished now and I'm enjoying its replacement. The corner to corner design is so easy to do. It's literally chain stitches and trebles. No foundation row either. I've finished the first 100gram ball, since this was taken.
However I must get to grips with some more quilting designs for the class.  This week I gave them the pattern for the May Mini Quilt but I haven't actually finished stitching it myself. Bad Teacher. The June one should be underway by now too....

We had choccy cupcakes at the class on Thursday - just a quiet affair this week, six of us.
The first batch I made went flat for some reason - I have no idea why!
Can you see the difference? They were more like brownies than sponge cake. The hens enjoyed them!

So this is just a quick Easter Monday update. I still have chocolate left - shock, horror.  I also have a bottle of Orkney Stout for tonight (my easter 'egg' from John).  I'm going to continue pottering quietly because tomorrow is the start of five days crammed into four at the clinic! No gaps, no let up. Maybe I should save a bit of chocolate for each night when I get home - just for the energy you understand.