Friday, 31 December 2010

Bye bye 2010

I confess I am not a big fan of the whole New Year thing. I'd rather we just got on with it. Having said that the thing that shines brightest for me as 2010 draws to an end is my renewed love in quilting, sewing and being creative, which was triggered by stumbling across this group on flickr. Out came my fabrics as I embarked on my first proper quilt in quite a few years. I had so much fun swapping with people in the group - I mean, who knew that complete strangers with a love of fabrics would share the treasures in their scrap piles? I really loved the swapping aspect right from selecting fabrics to send; down to squealing with delight when my fabric parcels started to arrive. Having the group was a fantastic motivator, as it felt like my new flickr friends were watching and waiting to see my latest progress and it was so fun to catch up with what everyone else was doing.

So it seems only fitting that tonight, about five minutes ago I finished the hand quilting of my hexie quilt. Yep it's all done. I just need to do the binding bit. I'm almost tempted to start it now to see if I could actually finish the quilt this year. But as I've got some pretty fiddly trimming to do, I don't want to plough ahead at speed and mess it up.

It was from joining this hexie quilt along that lead me to restart blogging again. I have found so much inspiration via other blogs and and flickr groups. I also took part in my first two swaps for made items here and here. I can't help feel I got the better half of the swaps both times!

It was a revelation to discover that fabric styles had completely changed since I'd last done some serious fabric buying. Yes, there are still plenty of traditional fabrics out there. But being introduced to designers like Heather Ross, Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Denyse Schmidt and Laurie Wisbrun has been a complete and utter joy.

Best of all though, has been the wonderful warmth of this online creative community. Through blogs and flickr I've made some fantastic online friends and found so many inspirational and talented people.

So Happy New Year to you all and see you in 2011 x0x

Fabric Diet


It seems a little ironic that having come in from a failed shopping trip (how dare the shops I wanted to shop in today, close between Christmas and New Year?!) and eaten two - yes two jam donuts that I should proclaim my need to go on a fabric diet. But when I read about Angela's fabric diet idea here I just had to sign up. Until this year I hadn't really bought any fabric for some years. I'd got a nice stash of fabric that kept me going during the limited projects I undertook. Then I found the flickr quilting community and blogging and all those WONDERFUL designer fabrics. The sort I loved and my stash was devoid of. So I confess I've been buying a bit here, a bit there and have a whole new stash and less money in my bank account. The trouble is new fabric ranges I love are coming out quicker than I can buy them. I am getting dazzled like a bunny in car headlights and don't know whether my stash really needs some Innocent Crush or some Parisville. I procrastinated on Farmdale and missed the boat on the bundle I wanted... And all this procrastinating is taking me away from the making.

So what to do? Do I continue online shopping - stalking etsy suppliers for the ranges I want and checking the UK shops to see if they are carrying the very fabric I am coverting, at a sensible price? Or do I take a step back. A big breath. And say, "NO" - no more fabric until I have completed some of my WIP's and used some of my stash. I mean I bought these fabrics with the intention of making lovely goodies I can enjoy around the home and maybe share in presents. I didn't buy it to sit in a big plastic box just because it was nice and I wanted it. (Honest I didn't.)

I especially like it doesn't start until January 1st as that means I can do a little stocking up as soon as I've finished this post - sneaky eh? I never said I was perfect and hey aren't diets always supposed to start tomorrow?

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Happy Boxing Day

I hope you all had a nice Christmas? I must have been a really good girl this year because I got all this swag! (and this is not all my presents because I haven't seen my other half yet and there are a couple of other people I haven't been able to get together with because of the weather.)



In fact my other half has been to the doctors and he has flu and bronchitis. It's meant he's been stuck at the other end of the country - and will be until he's better so I have no idea when he will be down to see me. I've only seen him twice in the last six months and I do miss him.



As you can see my mum loved the quilt I made for her.

Today I ventured out in my car for the first time in over a week, to go to lunch at my brothers. It has been freezing all, day but the main roads are pretty clear here. It's just drives and side roads to contend with. I took this photo of a bush in his garden which has done it's best to decorate itself for Christmas.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Advent 24: Christmas Eve

Are you all ready for the big day? I think I may be ready for this Christmas...by Christmas eve next year. I have stopped mid hoover to flop on the sofa and just chill. The presents are already under the imaginary Christmas tree.

I couldn't believe it when not 1 but 2 parcels of fabric turned up this morning. Both have been ordered in the last week and I had not expected they would arrive this side of Christmas. So it has felt a little like Christmas already opening them up.


The fabrics on the left in the cellophane packets came from Rainbow Fabrics on Etsy. The other goodies were from the early Seamstar sale. Fell right off the fabric wagon to buy those goodies. Including some more of that camo girls fabric.

I hope you all have a really special Christmas. Christmas is not always a happy time for everyone. So extra hugs going out to anyone who might need it - you know at those times when you feel a bit wobbly and it's not because of the cheeky egg nog you had ;-)

Thanks also for all the lovely comments and support you've given me since I started blogging. I am working on a giveaway next month because it's a New Year and also my birthday - so watch this space!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Advent 23: I must be mad...



You may have thought I'd forgotten about this quilt? To be honest I have it 'out' in the sitting room all the while to remind me it needs finishing. I pick it up every now and then and do a bit of hand quilting. If I am honest it has become a bit of a chore. It took a couple of months of fun swapping and stitching to create the top. The quilting is not so fun though. So maybe it seems a bit mad that this close to Christmas I've spent the last couple of nights with it on my lap quilting.

All I can say is I've been bored being confined to the house during this awful weather and as I haven't felt Christmassy it doesn't feel quite so 'mad' that I'm working on this and not...doing Christmas stuff.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Advent 21: A productive afternoon


When I got home from work I had another making session. I had an idea in my head. It didn't work out quite as I'd wanted. Mainly because I just jumped straight in making it up as I went along. I should have sketched it out and planned each stage more carefully. As no sooner had I completed the next stage I'd realise that there was something else I should have done the stage before! I could have done lots of unpicking, but I decided to just go with it and maybe try again another time to perfect the design.

Incase you're wondering what it is (!). It's a giant brew kit for my other half. Think an over sized tri-fold, tea wallet. Whenever he (or we) go away he always complains there are not enough beverages on the tray in the hotel. So here is a very well stocked brew kit, full of goodies.

The council gritters finally made it down our hill today. We're on a minor road (not minor for the residents of this village trying to get somewhere). But certainly minor in the schemes of gritting. Normally, if we get any grit it's right when the snow is going anyway. Unfortunately there is a big snow and slush mound at the end of my drive where it meets the road so I'm not sure I'll be going out in my little car tomorrow.

I didn't need to go to a bricks and mortar shop to indulge in a little fabric buying earlier. As I got tempted at Seamstar. Check out their blog for a great give away and some tempting fabric goodness ;-)

Monday, 20 December 2010

Advent 20: What a start to the day!




This was the sight from my gate this morning while I waited for a colleague to pick me up from work. The camera I had with me at the time didn't do it justice. Oxfordshire, where I live is one of the worse effected places. That is unusual as even when we've had it bad it's always been far worse somewhere else. Plans are being cancelled. People are snowed in. I am still feeling the after effects of the flu. I could sit here and tell you all about the bad things. But you know what? I'm really lucky. I have heat. I have light. I have food. I dread to think what it's like for homeless people this season. Keep safe. Keep warm. Make stuff. Above all be happy.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Advent 19: An *Actual* post about making!!!!

Don't faint from shock. I've managed to do some making this weekend. Well, thanks to the snow I can't do much else. The snow is pretty. It's just an inconvenience. It was -10 here last night I'm told. I think we had some more snow before it started to freeze. Tomorrow they forecast fog - just what is needed on top of all the ice and snow. Not!



Last night, I ran my other half up a pillow. I just did a really quick and simple envelope style. Got some fabric I know he'll like and quilted it. He's a bloke that doesn't get all the patch working and quilting malarkey and if I'd made him something more fancy he'd not appreciate it half as much as this:



Do you remember this entry where I showed you the goodies I got in round 2 of the Scrappy Mug Rug Swap? Last night before I went to bed, I started 'playing' with the scraps Kerry Sent. Some of you may recognise the design as Nest.




Until about 6 months ago I hadn't bought any quilting fabric for quite a while and what I had previously been able to get my hands on had been more traditional than modern. It also means there are some fabric lines that I really wish had come to my attention before they were out of print and hard to find. Tula Pinks Nest and Neptune ranges are classic examples of ranges that would be on my dream list. I still dream (particularly foolishly in this country)that one day I'll be passing a quilting shop and pop in for a mooch about, only to discover they have lots of stock of things like Mendocino, Flea Market Fancy, Nest, Neptune etc... that nobody else has discovered or wants. Better still in order to shift this stock (that nobody wants) it'll all be on sale. Well a girl can dream eh? ;-)

Anyway, back to the scraps. I wanted to use them in a fun project that would make the most of them. So this morning after settling on the design above, I decided to make a mini quilt. The sort of quilt that would cheer up a table or dresser top.

Once I'd worked out the best order of sewing the scraps together; I sashed it with some fabric from my stash, backed it in an off cut of yellow cotton and bound it in a co-ordinating green. Ok, this was a super quick make so the seams don't all match 100%. I think that adds to it's home made charm. This is how it turned out. It's on a snow covered garden table for the photo because the light was better out there.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Advent 18: Let it Snow!



You know I told you about a delivery that had gone missing? Well the company sent a replacement via royal mail yesterday and the post lady brought it before 9am this morning. Not bad going considering the weather and this parcel was coming from Newcastle all the way down to South Oxfordshire where I live. The post lady also advised us not to try going out as the roads are really bad.

It's been snowing all day so there is much more snow on the ground since I took these snaps. I only ventured out to take a few pictures. I could do with my wellies, but they are locked away in the shed so that'll have to wait for now. I'm staying in for the time being. I've been cooking and soon I'll start sewing.


Friday, 17 December 2010

Advent 17:



I am feeling like I've been neglecting my making so tomorrow I have decided to get on with a few things. Hopefully next time I blog there will be fabric items to show you *gasp* *shock* *horror*.

We had unexpected snow this morning. Whilst it didn't look like there was enough snow on the roads to cause a problem; for 100 yards down to my home, I crawled along; sliding every few yards and slid past my drive, instead of into it. I haven't taken any pictures of the snow because it's more of an inconvenience and less of a decoration. Once I got home I only ventured out to feed the birds.

Keep safe and warm this weekend.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Advent 16: it's all about the parcels.


Today, has on the whole, been a good day. It has, however, been a day all about Christmas presents. I had a surprise present from an appreciative subcontractor who just wanted to say thank you for...well me doing my job. But it was a most appreciated gesture. (Oh and the parcel above is just a random one from a few years ago.)

As I've had some trouble with my health I decided to do my Christmas shopping online. It has been fun watching all the goodies turn up, sometimes from over seas. Even though I don't get to keep these treasures, it almost feels like Christmas every time I open another package. One order I placed at the end of November hadn't turned up so I've been chasing it up via email. I'm really wound up because so far all the company that sent it can tell me, is it was delivered the day after the dispatch note was emailed and the delivery company have a signature - but it's not the name of anyone here or any of my neighbours.

Now I know mistakes happen and it could be easy for a driver to take it to the wrong house and someone there to sign for a parcel not realising the parcel wasn't for them. But isn't it a dishonest person that would then hang onto those goods once they'd opened them and realised they weren't for them? That someone else had paid for them and might be eagerly awaiting them for Christmas? So my blood is boiling at the dishonesty of some people and I am waiting for the company concerned to answer my email saying how they intend dealing with this, now I've informed them that the goods I've paid for were not delivered to me. However it is resolved, I doubt I will get the goodies for Christmas :-(

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Advent 14: More random stuff.

In the on going saga of what will break in my house next (well, we've had the oven, kettle, bathroom tap and the shower malfunction in the last few weeks.), today was the turn of sitting room electrics. Thankfully my brother has sorted the problem. A faulty dimmer switch. He's replaced it with regular switches and the only kind he could get 'off the shelf' to fit the existing switch set up means I have a random spare switch. I am not going to bore you with photographs of said switch. (Sighs of relief all round).


I am actually busting to tell you about the goodies I just scored from an Etsy seller. I'd not bought from this lovely lady before and I'd really like to tell you all about her goodies, but as some are destined for pressies this will be yet another thing I will tell you about after Christmas day. Unfortunately with the package came my first experience of custom charges. Which is pretty amazing given the amounts of fabric I buy from the US. Normally I am very careful not to go over the £18 cut off point for customs VAT to kick in. But this order came to a few pounds more than this and I got a charge for over half the value of the goods - yes the Royal Mail handling fee of £8 is just plain silly - but I don't need to tell that to anyone reading the blog, that has been caught out buying fabric abroad, do I?

Anyway, I am planning lots of new projects for 2011 - one is a bird related lap quilt. I just can't work out what design to do. I'm sort of drawn to another disappearing nine patch, as I want to use all kinds of birdie fabrics I've collected - including some scraps. A log cabin type design is also appealing. Anyone have any suggestions?

In the mean time though I'm going to snuggle up and do some light reading...

Monday, 13 December 2010

Advent 13: Amongst the Murky Mist

The day started off very foggy here and is now just a grey misty, murky, depressing sort of day, devoid of much colour and inspiration. Earlier though I spotted this Thrush foraging for food amongst the flower beds. Their efforts were rewarded with a fat juicy worm. I'm told the bulbs are shooting well in my garden. It feels just that bit closer to spring today. And yes, if I am going to take pictures through my windows I should maybe clean them first ;-)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Advent 12: Father Christmas and the Gremlins strike again



Maybe it's because I'm still getting over the flu, but I don't feel in the least bit Christmassy. Maybe it's because the Gremlins are most definitely still in the house. First it was the hot bath tap that's slowed to a trickle (I'm still waiting for that to be fixed). Then the oven packed in and required a new fan element. If that wasn't enough the kettle fell apart the other morning making the first cuppa of the day hazardous. Now the shower is playing up. The water pressure to it is not right and it's making an awful noise and juddering and pretty much very hot on any setting. So it looks like the Gremlins are still in the house. Judging by the picture above I haven't always felt so bah-humbug in the run up to Christmas. I hope my creative mojo comes back soon though. Until then I have a couple of good books on the go - it's not all bad.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Advent 11: Food Nigella v Nigel

I don't blog about food very much. I am not sure why because the older I get the more I like cooking. If there was one thing I'd change about my house I'd have a bigger kitchen. Mainly for storage reasons as I don't have the room to store things like preserving pans, stock pots, food processors and a million other kitchen items you can live without, but make life easier for every day cooking.

Last Christmas a close friend completely nailed an ideal Christmas gift for me. You know how amongst all the packs of toiletries and socks you sometimes get a present that is so well thought out it's bang on the money and makes you smile all day? Well last year it was when I opened this present!


Because inside was this cookery book - which you can actually read like you would a novel because of how it's written.


Tender Volume 1: is about the veggie growing experiences of food writer Nigel Slater. It's punctuated with yummy vegetable centred dishes; where the veg' rather than any meat in the dish are the stars. Along side this wonderful book was a stack of vegetable seeds and a little tin box to store them in. I have been going on about growing veg' again long before it became fashionable to do so and it's the next phase I have planned for my beloved garden.

But a question to you all. Do you prefer Nigella or Nigel? You see I like Nigel far more than Nigella. I'm sure her recipes are great, but her world just looks a bit fake to me. And she comes across a tad stepford wife - and not in a good way. Nigel on the other hand with his Simple Suppers and down to earth passion for ingredients and the whole cooking experience are just more true to how I feel about cooking.

Enjoy your weekend folks!

Ps I know I'm getting Tender Volume 2 for Christmas this year too! ;-)

Friday, 10 December 2010

Advent 8,9,10

In case you wonder what happened to my blogging every day until Christmas I thought I'd check in and tell you. Flu is what happened. Proper wipe-me-out-chills-aches-sniffles-spaced-out-stay-in-bed-flu. I've only just got up a few hours ago. On top of that, since I last blogged there has been a lot of sadness in my heart. I won't bore you with the details during what is for many a happy time.

So creativity and Christmas preparations are all on hold until I have some physical strength. I have decided I won't be putting up the tree this year. I just want to get well (I seem to have so many health issues this year) and on to a hopefully happier and healthier 2011.

If you want a tree - here's last years...

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Advent 7: Jack Frost is still with us.


The last few days we've had freezing fog. If we're lucky it clears a bit for a few hours before coming back. During these times the trees and landscape looks very Christmassy.




Even the plants in my garden look like they have been dusted in icing sugar.


If it's sub zero where you are - keep warm

Monday, 6 December 2010

Advent 6: When the Day's not so bad after all

Today I had my 6 month check up and hygienist visit at the dentists. I wasn't really looking forward to it as last time I sat in the dentists chair it was to have surgery and I was concerned in case they found something new to do. As it was only one small filling in the New Year - so hopefully that will go ahead without too many dramas. Probably the biggest concern will be getting to the dentists in January if we have a repeat of last January's weather.

When I got home in my back porch was as a parcel containing fabric from my latest sewfreshfabrics order. Now that has to cheer a girl up on a freezing day - no?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Advent 5: Snows Gone for now

After days of freezing temperatures a rise above zero has made today feel almost tropical. I went out to deliver some parish magazines around the village and also some Christmas cards. I thought better get it done in case the weather turns bad again and getting out becomes problematic. I took this picture up the road from me. I will always smile now when I see this pond. Earlier in the year my other half and I went for a stroll and being very keen on wildlife and bird watching, my other half commented on how much wildlife must be hiding around this pond, if only you spent the time just quietly watching. Quick to impress him with my local knowledge I said: "This used to be the village ducking pond. In times past women suspected of witch craft would be ducked in this pond." I went on to comment how these women were never going to come out of being ducked well. If you weren't a witch you drowned and if you survived ducking, they took this as proof of witch craft and they'd just burn you at the stake. My other half looked very serious for a moment - then put his arm round me and gave me a squeeze saying, in his dead pan way, "Don't worry - if they reinstate it I'll come rescue you."

I hope you've had a great weekeend!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Advent 4: More making for Christmas and the start of a new quilt?

Last night when I went to bed it was snowing and everywhere was white. Since then it's turned even milder and now all the snow we had has been washed away by rain. I had been intending to go Christmas shopping with my Mum this morning, but she didn't really feel up to it. So after a trip to the local supermarket to do a food shop, I have been busy with some making.


I saw the tissue holder pattern here and thought they would make great small gifts along side the presents I've bought for people. They really do only take 10 minutes to make - although I did have to adjust the sizing to fit the pocket tissues I had. Mind this could be down to my less than accurate cutting and seam allowances ;-)


I really fancy making a value quilt, so I've been cutting 5.5" squares from scraps and fabric in my stash - particularly stuff I've used in a lot of other projects. Unless I can get to a shop soon I may run out of piecing thread so I'm having to prioritise my sewing projects.

Now back to the fresh scones I just got out of the oven...

Friday, 3 December 2010

Advent 3: Stash Happy!

First off did you notice I finally put a photograph up with my blog title? I'd meant to do this before only I couldn't decide what to take a picture of. I really liked the idea of those mosaic type banners with a bit of everything on them. I haven't managed to do one of those yet. So I have put this picture of me with my hexie quilt top up instead. It seems quite fitting as this is what brought me to blogging earlier in the year. Before you ask: No I've not finished hand quilting it. It's taking much longer than I ever anticipated. I sort of wish I hadn't gone entirely down the hand sewn route - but there you go!

Today, it is still freezing her - although thankfully no more snow. I don't remember it being this cold before. I guess it must have been. I don't like it much anyway and am pretty much only doing home-work-home journeys at the moment.

So it was a nice diversion to get this in the mail while I was at work:



These are the emergency stash builder budget packs from Fabric Rehab. I've had them before and have never been disappointed. I got 5 packs this time. Each pack costs £2.00 and there is always a generous amount - more than a fat quarter in my experience. The pieces are decent sizes too. On the downside they don't often have them in stock. So you need to keep checking and be quick!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Advent 2: An explanation and body-less santa in a box

I thought it might be fun to see if I could blog every day until Christmas. Like an online advent calendar. Yesterday was sort of easy because I went down the Wordless Wednesday route - but that picture really needs some explanation. I'll spare you the long version. The short version is removing my built in cooker to replace the fan element, which broke the other week, we discovered the damp problem we thought we'd contained, is not quite so contained as we'd hoped :-(



This is one of the oldest decorations we have. I used to find it slightly creepy - after all someone put Santa's head in plastic box and obviously didn't think that was at all wrong . I think nan bought it for my brother - long before I was born. It probably came from somewhere like Woolworths and it's now a little worse for wear. Each year we buy a new decoration to add to the ones we already have. Not all the decorations get put on the tree and if some get broken or deteriorate beyond all hope they get replaced by newer ones. I almost didn't bother putting a tree up last year. I can't remember why - I think I'd been ill right before Christmas - my niece who normally comes round to help couldn't and it seemed like too much effort. I am sort of feeling the same this year. Is it really worth the effort of putting a big tree up?