Saturday, 31 December 2011

And a Happy New Year to you All!

News Years Eve

If you'd have asked me a week ago what I'd be doing tonight on New Years Eve (one of my least favourite nights of the year). I'd have probably not been able to give you too much detail. Only it would have involved Chief. I felt certain it would happen this holiday. But alas it was not meant to be. So here I am sat on the sofa, laptop on my knee, Porridge the movie is playing on TV for the millionth time.' I'm resisting the urge (and failing) to keep saying: 'Norman Stanley Fletcher' in that deep voice like in the opening credits; whilst munching on one of the cheese and ham palmiers I made earlier this evening. I've traded in the premixed Snowball for a cup of Yorkshire Gold Tea because some retro drinks, in my opinion, are better left in the past.

I am not one for making resolutions just because it's New Years. I figure if you want to change something you need to start on it when you think of it. Turning over a new leaf just because we embark on a new year is not a recipe for success. In fact in the bleak January and February winter days it's quite easy to let all those good intentions fall by the wayside.  Having said that I have, during my last week of non making, resolved to lift my game creatively. I was quite productive in 2011, but some how the stuff I want to make, in the style I want to make it, is bearing little resemblance to stuff I actually make most of the time.  Maybe it's because I feel so inspired in blog land and I'm still trying to find and define my own style. I do feel that if I can get this sorted I will be a lot happier with my making through out 2012.

So Happy New Year dear friends and readers. I hope you have a lovely evening whatever you are doing and here's to a Happy, Healthy and Creative 2012!

Friday, 30 December 2011

So that was Christmas 2011

I've been missing without action around this blog of late. No excuse really. Only I've been enjoying the break from routine. You'd thinking having a week off from work I'd have been madly creating. But despite having the time, I've been lacking the inclination. No idea why. I think it's to do with that old saying about a change being as good as rest. So I've been turning out cupboards, helping my Mum do the same. It feels like we've been on a single handed mission to fill the Salvation Army Clothes bank in the local supermarket car park.  When I told Chief how many bags we'd taken down so far he said I'd soon be naked. A slight exaggeration and some wishful thinking on his part me thinks.

Bro's Christmas tree 

So how was your Christmas?  I spent most of the day with my brother and his family who live near by. For the first Christmas that I can remember we didn't have Turkey, but lamb. My sister in law cooked us a lovely leg of lamb with all the trimmings. She had thought about getting a turkey, but the fresh ones were ridiculously expensive this year and she said when it came down to it she couldn't bring herself to pay £45 on a turkey. And  I completely get that and as turkey is my least favourite meat I wasn't about to complain. (I won't mention lamb is my Mum's least favourite meat, but then she is not a great fan of any meat.).  We had a nice family time, opening presents, (I got a kindle!!!) and watched Dr Who together - which has become something of a Christmas tradition.

I think I only have one hand made present, which I kept under wraps before Christmas, to share with you now and that's of this bag I made for a Book Crossing Friend. I can't reference a particular pattern because I took bits from about three and added my only touches and twists.  I used fusible fleece to give it some extra padding and structure.  It was made in a bit of a hurry because having cut out all the pieces I left it for ages before I assembled it and it was right up to the deadline before I was stitching!

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It seems that for another year spending any part of the holiday with Chief has gone by the way side as just after Christmas his dad was admitted to hospital and has been kept in. Even if he is sent home it's unlikely that Chief will make it down here now for New Year as planned. As his dad lives at the other end of the country it's not like he can just 'pop' home if his dad takes a turn for the worst. On the plus side he did promise me before Christmas that he'd be taking me to Paris if he didn't get down. And the Paris trip would be a birthday treat as near to my birthday as possible. Now my birthday is in January so part of me is getting excited. Only I'm trying to keep that in check because we were most definitely going on holiday in the Autumn after certain people had been deployed, leaving Chief with more time. Only that never happened. So you know, unless I get a picture of me stood at the foot of the Eiffel tower (and my photo shopped into shot, does not count). I won't believe that I'm actually going to Paris.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Advent 23 & 24; It's Christmas!!!! (Almost)


Christmas Tree

Just one final post before the big day! Sat here watching a festive episode of East Enders. The candles are burning, the tree lights twinkling and the first present has been opened. We have this little tradition in our house where we all open one present on Christmas Eve. Nothing major - just a little gift from a friend or family member. Mum selected a small gift from an old friend. We had to laugh when she opened it. Not only was there a bracelet (Mum doesn't wear jewellery other than a watch and wedding ring and everyone who knows her, knows this), but there was this mug:


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An unusual choice for someone who's star sign is Pisces. But we did laugh! Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  See you on the other side :-)


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Advent 21 & 22 Feeling Christmassy!

Are you feeling it yet? You know the Christmas feeling? Last year and maybe the year before (and possibly most of the years before that, that I remember at least.) I can't say I've had the Christmassy feeling. I am not sure what has changed about this year, but I've definitely been feeling in the Christmas spirit of late (and no it's not spirits induced.)

Yesterday I didn't have chance to blog because a friend came round to exchange presents and eat, in what we've taken to calling: The Grand Christmas Visit. No the friend doesn't have delusions of grandeur. (Although she did text me to tell me she was on the way, so I could get the red carpet out!) Of course with such a grand visitor on the way, I couldn't do much more than produce a plate of smoked salmon blinis as the starter..

Grand Christmas Visit - Starter

We had a meal and a natter and exchanged pressies. Which I am being very good and not even trying to 'feel up' for a hint of what they are, before the big day. 

Then today I realised I hadn't made any mince pies yet this year, so I knocked up some pastry and voila some mince pies.

Home made mince pies - close up!

I even sung myself a few carols as I was baking. Musing on the fact That 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas' is really a bit menacing in sentiment. After all the people go round, all nice and kind, wishing glad tidings to the recipient and his king. Then they ask for some figgy pudding (which I'm not altogether sure it's the sort of thing I'd like.) And then they go on to demand some figgy pudding, stating they won't be leaving until the get some.

When I went back in the living room  Mum asked what the carol singers had been collecting for. I thought she was joking.  It turned out she thought we'd really had carol singers, when it had been me creating a bit of festive cheer while I baked.

So are you all excited about Christmas or still running around like the proverbial (but much better looking) headless chickens?

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Advent 20: slump

cunning wrapping

I thought I was going to get away with a Wordless Wednesday post today until I realised, it is actually still Tuesday, and I've not actually taken many pictures today anyway.  I am nearing the end of the wrapping. I have already started a Christmas wind down at home. Work is mentally busy. Chief has left camp to visit family. Opportunities for us to do stuff like natter for ages on the phone, play online back gammon and other silliness will be few and far between until after Christmas. I'm going back to my slumping tomorrow is going to be a very busy day!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Advent 19: Two Tempting?

Eat Me

A Lindt Chocolate Teddy from Chief is tempting me right now. But I don't deserve it. No I don't. I am behind with Christmas related stuff.  I haven't made anything in what feels like forever. 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Advent 18: 'Bob'

Chief managed to get down today. He took Mum and I out for a pre Christmas lunch and dropped off some presents (which I will not be opening until we have our Christmas - after Christmas.)  Last night he informed me he'd bought me a second Christmas card because he'd seen another one that he liked even more - only he thought it was a bit cheeky so his plan was to give me a 'nice' one and cheeky one.

Just before bed I had another phone call from Chief ringing to tell me what my card said. He felt the need to tell me because I would not be getting the card now. He'd since discovered it said in big letters on the front - 'Boyfriend'. He has no idea how he missed this in the shop or what on earth the girl in the shop thought when he bought a card for his girlfriend and one for his boyfriend!!!!

I said he had to still send it to me and maybe he could tippex it out. So today I got my proper card and I got a card marked 'Bob'

Bob
The eagle eyed might just make out 'Bob' written on the card.

Me and my 'Bobfriend' card
He'd removed the 'Y' in Boy and changed it to a 'B'

To my 'Bobfriend'.  Which references episodes of Black Adder and a female character that dresses as a man and is referred to as 'Bob'

Hope you've all had lovely weekends!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Advent 17: It's up.

I'm a bit behind on answering emails and comments. I will get round to them it's just today a big chunk of my free time has been spent putting up the tree.  My niece came round to help. She loves getting all the decorations out (more quickly than we can cope with putting them on the tree.) In the end I told her to be in charge of hanging and I'd be in charge of unpacking. We've gone for a red, gold and white tree. Of course there are a couple of favourite decorations that don't quite fit the theme. I tend to put certain special ones on the tree year after year.

  Very old reindeer decoration
Like this reindeer which we think we've had since my brother was little.

Greetings from Arizona Decoration
Or this brass road runner sending 'Greetings From Arizona' a gift from a dear friend living in Arizona.

Russian Decorated egg
Definitely not red and gold. This hand decorated painted egg is a Russian decoration I bought locally some years ago.

Wooden tree
I bought this at Westonbirt Arboretum a few years ago. I don't think it's meant to be a tree dec' but I thought it would make a great one.

American House
A close friend bought me this painted wooden house back from one of her trips to the US. I like to leave the label on that explains about it.

Felt Horses
I've got a set of these felt horses. They were given me by my late godmother and made by an elderly lady that lived nearby her.

Muffy the Snow Bear
In my teens I had a bit of a bear collection. A family friend bought me Muffy the Snow Bear.

I've just realised I didn't take any pictures of  the whole tree decorated. It was very bright and sunny earlier and had the tendency to wash out the photos.  I will get some to share with you all.

Now the tree's up it's beginning to feel A LOT like Christmas. Enjoy the rest of your weekend! :-)

And the Winner is....

I'm running a little a lot behind.  So I'm just popping in to announce the winner of the Sew Mama Sew Give Away Day!


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The winner is Number 12: Which is:


Blogger Deanna said...
After having gotten some scraps from you, I'd love some more!
Worst gift was when I was a teen and my Oma gave me a singing doll. Not exactly thrilled with that one.

I have a feeling Deanna is the same Deanna that I sent to in the last round of the pretty little pouch swap! So it's quite a coincidence that she'll be getting another pouch with scraps in it from me! And I promise there will be no singing doll included! ;-)

Thanks to everyone that played along. I don't think I'd had so many comments to any post before and it was fun reading about all your present horrors!  I hope you all get lots of lovely presents this year.


Friday, 16 December 2011

Advent 15 & 16: Tree Traumas

I didn't blog yesterday because by the time anything interesting happened I was ready for bed straight after.  There has been a degree of tree trauma in the house hold.  Last year we didn't put up a tree - unless you count one that's about a foot high and fibre optic? There has only been one other year when I said, no to a tree.  That year was very bad for me and the last thing I felt like doing was celebrating Christmas, so I opted out of all celebrations. Some other members of my family were so horrified they bought me a foot high fibre optic tree; they said Christmas with no tree was just so wrong.  Last year there was horrible amounts of snow. It was hard travelling about and getting the Christmas preparations finished. We just couldn't be bothered with decorating the house.  We got out the little fibre optic tree and that had to suffice. I have to say on Christmas Eve when we got all the presents out it looked kind of odd to see them without the tree like this:

Presents on Christmas Morning

Rather than this, which is our usual way of displaying presents on Christmas Eve:

Christmas Eve

Mum was adamant she only wanted a little tree this year. She said it's too much hassle putting up the big one in our tiny living room.  Our Christmas tree and decorations live in my brothers loft. He asked yesterday if we wanted them and I said just the decorations not the big tree. Then I remembered that we used to have a smaller tree that we used when my niece was a baby/toddler and we really needed space and not to have a little one crashing into the decorations we've collected over the years.  

Mini Christmas Tree
Our tree in 2001

We actually bought this tree as a replacement to the 'real' one after we had a nightmare tree issue.  I'd insisted we had a real tree this year and I am adverse to real trees if they don't have roots. So I bought a real tree in my local supermarket. It was wrapped in mesh so it was only when I took the mesh off I realised the tree was the shape of a Christmas pudding. Still I put it up and decorated it.

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Our first tree trauma of 2001

Several days later we noticed an odd smell in the living room.  Try as we might we couldn't find out what it was. It smelt like something had gone off. It was awful. Then we realised it was coming from the soil around our tree. So we had to undecorate it and stick it outside.  We can laugh about it 10 years on, but it was a headache at the time.  

Anyway,  this year my brother went up in his loft and there was no sign of our little tree. He got pretty stressed about it. I told him not to worry. We'd not used it for some years and I had a vague recollection of suggesting we got rid of it one year when it was brought down. I said it's ok I'll get one at my local supermarket. However, they had none left. I went to Homebase today and they had none either. So he has had to get the 'big' tree down and we'll put it up tomorrow (hopefully with the assistance of my niece).  I've been shifting furniture around to make space for it. (and yes more baby wipe cleaning has taken place!)

Last night I went out with a friend to a local pub that specialises in Thai food. I only took a couple of pictures with my phone which is not great, but I've uploaded them to flickr here. the food was really really yummy. I ate far too much. I've not had much Thai food before so it was good to not only try something new, but find somewhere that did it so well!

Then this morning we woke to our first now. It was a pretty light dusting (thank goodness), although I'm told some areas quite close by got about an inch of snow and I could see some on the hills when I made my dash to Homebase at lunch time.

So with luck tomorrow I can show you the tree up and looking all lovely!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Advent 14: Nothing Much to Report

I'm quite in awe of all the people in blogland making in the run up to Christmas. I am all made out. I came home from work and vegged. I hope I don't have another lurgy. I think it's more the lack of proper sleep I've been getting these last few days. I hope I'm fully recovered for going out tomorrow night!

I also think blogging every day might be what's jinxed me as it seems just when I decide to blog every day I have nothing much to share. So today I'll keep it short and leave you with a picture of the present I received today from an Italian family friend. Mum didn't realise the Risotto I make has its roots in Italian cuisine until relatively recently. (Mum is not a foodie.) Anyway, I told her Risotto comes from the part of Italy her friends husband is from. A chance conversation with said friend about my cooking Risotto and here I have a little sac of genuine Italian rice perfect for Risottos.


Authentic Risotto Rice

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Advent 13: A New Winter Coat

I haven't had chance to answer the majority of comments in the give away, but I am enjoying reading all about your present horrors. The message I'm getting loud and clear is that some gift givers closest to us seem to miss by a mile our tastes and personality in the gift department.  I feel kind of sad that in these cash strapped times, people are wasting money on gifts that people aren't going to like or want.

Having said that I was giggling at some of the answers and have been reminded of quite a few present horrors I've had over the years. Like the time (as a child) my god mother, who liked to shop in charity shops, bought me some red ribbed, thick tights. They were pretty horrendous because when I opened them they were very long. I was a particularly petite child. There was no way these would have fit me now let alone at aged about 7 or 8. I seem to remember getting various family members to hold on to one end of the tights while I pulled them to their full stretch to see how far across various rooms I could stretch them. Easily amused eh?!


New Winter Coat

And because I don't like posting without a picture here is my new winter coat 50% off at Debenhams.  My last winter coat you can see me modelling here:

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This particular coat has served me well since I bought it for £20 in Primark about 3 or 4 years ago; removing the belt and belt loops so it had a better looking fit for my frame size.  I'd still be wearing it now, but for the extra weight I seem to have put on my er...chest, that is making it bulge a bit a lot when I do it up.  So I'm going to repair a tear in the lining seam and sew on the two missing buttons and pass it on to my Mum.


Monday, 12 December 2011

Advent 12: SMS Give Away Day


Today is give away day at Sew Mama Sew and I couldn't miss out on all the linky fun now could I? Hello if you've just stopped by because of the give away. Feel free to have a nosey around. Of course I'd love it if you decided to stay and become a follower. But you don't have to to enter. :-)

Today I've had the day off of work to go so I could finish my Christmas Shopping and help my Mum with hers. Then it was back home to get organised. There is a couple of non Christmas stressy things going on in my life right now so I almost forgot about the giveaway. I have also broken the rule where by it's advised to get a good picture of your give away loot if you want people to stop by.  So here is an uninspiring picture of part of my give away loot. Hopefully it won't put anyone off...

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A zippy pouch made out of some Amy Butler Coriander Fabric. Inside will be some designer scraps, some buttons and some other sewing related swag. If I got it all ready right now, ready to photograph, I would be doing this give away in about three days time and miss out on all the fun. So if you're game for a bit of a surprise feel free to enter. :-)

It can sometimes be hard to know what to comment on in give aways. So in case you're stuck for something to say. Here is a completely random question: what is the worst present you've ever received?

The draw will take place on 16 December 2011. It's open to anyone anywhere. If I can post the item to you then you can enter! Now do pop along to Sew Mama Sew to see what else you can enter for.

Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Advent 11: In need of a snooze

I'm not long back from a very long lunch with two friends in Banbury.  I am now in major need of a snooze.  So I'll have to catch up with messages and blog land later. It's always fun to catch up with friends. I am a talker. It's fair to say I could chew all the legs off of a donkey never mind the hind ones. We exchanged presents. I now have to be good and save them until the day. My birthday is next month and as I am unlikely to see one of the friends before I have birthday gifts too.


Hot choc and vanilla snow and cinnamon dough balls
Hot chocolate and cinnamon dough balls with vanilla dipping cream.  No wonder I fancy a snooze.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Advent 10: Agonising

I got the bag made last night. It's sat wrapped up in a gift bag, waiting for me to exchange pressies with the recipient soon.  I can't show you a picture though in case the person stops by my blog and works out it's for them.  There is something very satisfying about finishing something. Especially when time is of the essence.

I've been agonising about something over the last few days. Well ever since the tickets for the FQ Retreat went on sale. I was one of the people that yelled around all over blog land how us Brit Quilters need something in the UK to rival the sewing summit. So I was over the moon when I discovered the funsters at Fat Quarterly had organised a retreat in London. I was whooping and dancing all over the place. Then I read another comment on the blog that announced it, that it was the Jubilee weekend and I felt kind of deflated, because bank holiday weekends are really hard for me to commit too. Still I thought it will be a while before I have to make a decision. And then  this week the tickets went on sale. Accommodation will get snapped up, as Jubilee weekend in London is likely to be very busy! If I don't book a room now (which means finding a roomie super quickly) then I could miss out on being able to go - should I be able to go.

So now I'm agonising. I can already imagine how disappointing it's going to be if I don't go, as the world and her sewing pet is shouting about the retreat already. It's going to have more build up in this little corner of blog land than the 2012 Olympics have had any where.


The other thing I'm agonising over is whether I can get my Mum a little hand made something whipped up. In my frenzy to have a mainly handmade Christmas I completely forgot about dear old Mum.  Any suggestions gratefully received.

Festive light

And because I don't like blogging without a picture here is the tea lighter I was given for Christmas last year looking all festive. It's about the only festive decor I have up so far...

Friday, 9 December 2011

Advent 9: No time for Lark-ing about!

I keep reading about all the lovely yummy makes people are slaving over in the run up to Christmas. I am starting to feel guilty because I haven't made anything in what feels like forever.  In fact in this post I showed you a sneaky peek of something I am making as a Christmas present. Here I am a week later and I've still not made it. It's still sat in bits on the ironing board.  Given that I am exchanging presents with the recipient at the weekend (and it's Saturday tomorrow!!!!) I really should be getting on with some sewing.

But before I do go and crack on let me show you what arrived from The Intrepid Thread today.


Lark

Yes, a bundle of Lark FQ's. I think this might be my most favourite of all the ranges Amy Butler has done. It feels really summery to me with a vintage circa.1970's vibe to it. I want to make a quilt large enough to go on my bed. Imagine waking up under these gorgeous prints on a bright sunny day?  I want to go for something simple and bold to show off the bright bold designs. Then maybe I'd do the quilting with some perle. Oh the possibilities. But no I can't get started on this because I have that bag to finish, so I need to stop Larking about and get sewing!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Advent 8: No reply Bloggers!

simply square button

I've been getting some lovely comments lately, thank you! However,  I've noticed that some of my recent comments have come from no reply bloggers. Which means I can't reply to your comments personally. And I do like to reply to as many comments as possible. I don't know about you, but sometimes I find a great new blog to follow. I enjoy reading it and so I start leaving comments. And then the blog owner (who often doesn't have that many followers, they can't reply to a few comments.) never responds. Ever.  Ok, they maybe have responded in the comments themselves, but honestly with so many fab blogs out there to read who goes back and checks all the comments left, after they left a comment?  So knowing I get a little despondent when I never get a comment back, I tend to not want to comment any more. Don't get me wrong - I understand when someone gets zillions of comments per post they can't possibly respond to them all. But in my experience the people that tend never to respond, get less than 10 comments so surely the odd reply isn't that onerous?

Personally I'd hate for some of my lovely comments to stop because the people leaving think - Why can't this woman ever respond to my comments?! I love that my blog allows this interaction!

So please go and read this post which explains about no reply bloggers and how to remedy it - because I suspect many people that are no reply bloggers don't have a clue. 




Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Advent 7: All I want for Christmas...

When the ships company aboard HMS Ocean heard they'd be home for Christmas they made this DVD.

   

So grab a cup of hot chocolate and a mince pie. Put your feet up and enjoy! The British military are renown for finding the humour in any situation. Mean while I am off to get sorted as I am expecting a visitor and then I'm off out. I might even get some making done one of these days. Just not today!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Advent 6: Really You Shouldn't Have.

It's obviously that time of year when we get a giftette or two and today the gifts have been coming thick and fast. First off I had a parcel in the post. Not just any parcel. A parcel that Julie Andrews would have waxed lyrical about, as it was a brown paper package tied up with string! (I admit as I unpicked the knots there was a bit of a Sound of Music moment until my Mum came in and started looking at me like I was a bit mental.

Brown paper packages tied up with string...
There definitely should be more brown paper parcels tied up with string!

Obviously most gifts are left wrapped until the big day.  However, when I was carrying one bag upstairs I saw a gift bag which was unsealed and the contents. And er...it was the gift back we gave this person last year! This person has a bit of a track record with presents when really we want to say: No Really you SHOULDN'T have. Really. This person has been known to give us used mugs, fresh with coffee and lipstick stains, filled with dirty well used hankies and small soft toys that were once white and now a grubby grey, meaning they resemble a dead rodent.  I kid you not. You can't make this stuff up. Last year due to the snow this particular person didn't manage to give me a birthday card, let alone a present and boy was I grateful!  When I told Mum she asked me to vet the rest of the gifts. Because well, one year the gift bag had mice turds in it and my mum is borderline phobic when it comes to mice and rats.  That wasn't the gift obviously - more like an optional extra.  This year there was some horrors in one of the other gift bags. (unwashed, well used napkins anyone?!)   We laughed as we always do - all the way to the bin.

But it does make me wish people wouldn't give gifts if they can't: afford to or be bothered to put some thought into it. I'd much rather they stuck a pound in the charity box, than gave me something like a used hankie and a dirty mug.   Every year I'm sure we spend lots of time, effort and money into putting together presents for people - running ourselves ragged. Which they then open and think. Yeah, ok. Then they do one of the following: Take them to the charity shop, hide them in the cupboard or recycle them as gifts for other people; hoping they haven't given the gift back to the present giver!  The person who gave us the presents above may have a hard time recycling this years present as it's one of the many bags I've made and it has a label with my name in it. Given I don't sell them if anyone is seen sporting that bag round the village it's a fair assumption it will be my bag regifted. Part of me thinks does this person deserve one of my bags if they are going to do this? But then how can I know what this sort of person would appreciate?

So that's my advent thought for the day and it probably makes me sound like an ungrateful cow. I assure you that I have lots of lovely well thought out gifts too!

 I really should be making, but whilst I have a few things on the go I have nothing much to show at the moment.



Monday, 5 December 2011

Advent 5: Don't Panic!

Isn't it ironic that the moment I say I'm going to blog every day, I find less than a week in, I am struggling for something to say. So I won't keep you. I'll just explain why I have already started my wrapping.


Wrap 

I enjoy the Christmas build up a whole lot more if I'm not running about like a headless chicken. Screaming "Don't Panic!" like Corporal Jones



 in Dad's Army! So I do a little every day and thus, hopefully, avoid too much  unnecessary stress!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Advent 4: Before I am sleeping

I thought it was only fair to catch you up on my weekend before I'm sleeping. Because I really feel like putting on some lamps, lighting some candles, grabbing a quilt and have 40 winks on the sofa!

Today has been a total contrast to yesterday when I felt like doing nothing other than sorting these scraps again.   To be fair having gained scraps in both the pretty little pouch swap and goodie bag swap. I really did need a fresh sort out.

Scrap sorting

I want to make a large scrappy quilt, but I can't decide on the design. I love the X&+ quilt, but I don't want to be making those blocks for the next few years. I have two many will I ever get them finished projects on the go at the moment. So I really don't want to be starting anything ridiculously labour intensive.  I'm thinking maybe a cushion or two might be the way to go to start with? I have plenty of ideas on that front and certainly could do with some more soft furnishing loveliness around here.

Chief came down today. It had been mentioned that he might. But after so many false starts of late, I had put the idea he might, to the back of my mind.  He gave my poorly neck/shoulder a very good massage. He has enough trouble with his back due to a parachuting accident to get the physiology of the back and the supporting muscles.  Then we went off to The Longwall, because despite being very popular we've never found it at problem getting in during the Sunday lunch period. We've also never had a bad meal there either. Chief opted for a fillet steak, with prawns and I went for the maple ribs and chicken breast. We then swapped bits of our meals so we ended up with a bit of a mixed grill between us.  I also pulled my first paper cracker of the season - yes, it definitely is nearly Christmas folks.

Then we both decided to walk off lunch by taking the path from Waterperry to Waterstock. Only about a mile and a half from Waterperry gardens down to Waterstock Mill and easily accessible for people with pushchairs.

Back to Waterperry
Pretty little thatched home half way between Waterperry and Waterstock. 


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The bridge across the River Thame, just before Waterstock Mill.

Waterstock Mill is very picturesque. I wish I'd taken a picture now to show you all. However, the footpath runs right through their garden - very close to the house and it felt a bit intrusive to stand there taking pictures.  Chief said it's the sort of place he'd love to live. Although the public footpath that close to the house would definitely be a no no for me.

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Imagine having a weir like this at the bottom of your garden




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I really liked these cows. Chief said they didn't like me and my camera.  

So there you go my weekend for you. Back to work tomorrow. The weekends seem to go by very quickly. Hope yours was as good!


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Advent 3: Scone Recipe

Today has been a very lazy day. Which what comes of getting up and feeling a bit blurgh. Not ill as such, just one of those days when you know that anything sensible or productive you try and achieve is likely to involve you taking one step forward and about three back. A day when it is most sensible to do things like play with fabric scraps - whilst not going near a needle and thread or snuggling on the sofa. It means I have got very little to blog about today. However, as there was a request for the scone recipe yesterday I thought I'd post that.

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This recipe has been with me since school cookery days. There may well be fancier recipes out there whereby a host of celebrity chefs have put their own twist on it by adding coriander (I am joking about the coriander. But it does feel like my most loathed herb is being added to everything these days. After a while it just feels like they're lacking imagination not being inventive!)

Scone Recipe 

Ingredients
40g (1.4oz) Butter
2 level tablespoons of caster sugar
225g (8oz) self raising flower
1egg
125ml (0.25 pint) milk


Optional extras - Fruit 50g (2oz) dried fruit such as sultanas or Grated cheese 75g (3oz) If making a cheese version then omit the sugar. You can make a wholemeal version just substitute 4oz of the self raising flour for wholemeal flower.  Icing sugar to dust if making sweet scones or a little extra grated cheese for sprinkling on the top of savoury ones.

Preheat your oven to gas 7 or 220 degrees centigrade.  Lightly grease a baking tray.  Sieve flour into a bowl and add butter. Rub the butter into the flour until you have a mixture resembling fine breadcrumbs. Stir in sugar or if you're making the cheese version add the cheese now. Lightly beat and egg and make up with the milk. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients, reserving a teaspoon or so of liquid, and mix with a palette knife until it comes together into a soft, not wet dough.  Lightly flour your work surface and roll out your dough to about an inch thick.  Cut out using the pastry cutter. Fluted if you have one for sweet scones and plain cutter for cheese.  This mixture will make about 12 scones like the ones in the picture.  Place on a baking tray and using the teaspoon of reserved milk/egg liquid brush the tops.  (You can add a little more grated cheese to the tops if you have some to cheese versions). Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until they are risen and golden brown.  Sides should feel springy.  If you're making sweet scones you might like dust them with icing sugar.

Sweet scones are traditionally served with butter or cream and Jam.  Enjoy!

ps. Don't worry if the sides split a bit. Apparently a truly good scone should not require a knife to cut it in to as pulling apart should suffice!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Advent 2: it's all about presents.

Last year in the run up to Christmas I blogged every day - turning my blog into a bit of a virtual advent calendar .  I thought it might be fun to have a go this year too. I'm feeling more festive than I did this time last year!  Last night a friend and I went for a meal and a natter in a local pub. They were just decorating it ready for Christmas. They had gone for lots of silver, simple single colour fairy lights and candles. Walking into the pub from the car park, the twinkle of glitter decorations, candles and fairy lights, through the window added a nice festive welcoming touch.

My friend was quizzing me for suggestions of what I might like for Christmas. This particular friend is clever with themes. However, over the years for Christmas and birthday's we've exhausted colours and every 'theme' you can imagine.  She didn't want to buy fabric (probably because she know's how much fabric I have and she's not a maker herself!) Of course there are plenty of practical sewing things I am in need of, things I'd pick up in my LQS if I had one!: Omigrip rulers, flat headed pins, curved safety pins, quilting thread, piecing thread, spare machine bobbins, oooh one of those plastic cases to store the bobbins and all those other things that would make life easier when I sew. However, if you're about to hit the shops there are hardly quilt stores on every corner and not everyone wants to trawl the internet when they're looking for stuff specific to someone's hobby do they? That's why the sewing related present from Mum this year has been ordered by me and will no doubt end up being wrapped by me too (she really hates wrapping!).

If you think that's bad Chief went and bought his own Christmas present from me. I was racking my brains for something to buy him and he'd been no help whatsoever, then he mentioned he was thinking of buying himself a Tassimo machine and  he'd seen a good deal in Morrisons near him. So I suggested I'd buy it for him for Christmas - only as there is no Morrisons near me he'd have to go and get it himself. He said he would, but I needn't think that he'd be wrapping it up and keeping it until Christmas day! I told him to text me a picture so I could at least see it!


Chiefs Christmas Present
A Tassimo machine which makes hot drinks via pod thingies.

While I'm on the subject of presents here is a sneaky peek of a present for a friend who's dropped a few hints about how she'd like a bag made by me. I can't reveal any more. You never can tell who might stop by your blog now can you? And even though it seems I know what nearly all my presents are going to be this year it would be fun if all my recipients had some surprises!

Sneeky peek at a bag in progress
Echo fabric by Lotta Jansdotta and some Kona Medium Grey - cut and ready for piecing.

I've also made these. I was scanning through last years advent blog posts and spotted some scones and thought I'd make a few tonight. Not my best ever efforts; they taste yum though so that's the important thing.

Scones

I may have one and a cuppa and then do some present wrapping...

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Fresh Sewing Day - November

Fresh Sewing Day November 

I thought I'd made a stack of stuff this month. However, when I came to do my mosaic I realised I hadn't really. It might have looked very prolific if I'd photographed every item individually.  I have experimented with felting and there are a few experimental/half started projects under way. Yesterday I also quilted my string greens quilt. I just need to trim and bind and it's done. So that should get sorted in December.

As always I'm linking up to Fresh Sewing Day over at Lily's Quilts.


Fresh Sewing Day

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

And the winner is....!

Number 10! 




...P1110215
Number 10 is the winning comment!

Which was: 

"Giles said...
Many years ago I studied chemistry at university, and the one and only thing I remember is that, according to thermodynamics, things are more stable when they're very random... and the proof of this is that things don't pick themselves up! So obey the science and keep your house at the most stable energy level!!

I like the sound of those fabrics... I've been searching for a nicely cooordinated set of colours to make some coasters out of!

Congratulations on the followers! :)"


It seems that the random generator liked Giles' comment about being very random ;-) so well done Giles! Your lucky winning streak continues! 

Giles blogs over at Touch and Sew if you like checking out his blog and congratulating him! 

Thanks for everyone who entered. Giveaways are fun aren't they? - must find more reasons to have them Right, I'm off to email Giles so I can get his address in order to mail off the charm pack and some of my bell stash! 

Toodles!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Jealous?

There has been a few items of post I've been waiting expectantly for (some fabric I had on order from the US, my pouch in the Pretty Little Pouch Swap and my prize in this draw.) Well, today two of them turned up: Firstly this fabric arrived

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All these are are half yard cuts that were on sale over at Fabricpalooza on of my fav' US etsy fabric shops. always great service, fabulously wrapped fabric in tissue paper tied with a strip of fabric. I particularily wanted the Hope Valley as I was missing these colours. I had originally purchased some of the pink/grey combo of this fabric and having not been able to buy the other colours I cut into it. Then there seemed to be quite a lot of HV around after all so I decided I wanted to snap it up before it becomes inflated in price. I bought a green bundle of FQ but many of the blues/blacks prooved too elusive until I saw this sale.  I snapped up the others  to add to my stash. It's not shameless hoarding as I want to use the HV to make a colour brick quilt.

Then there was a box and inside was my pouch in the Pretty Little Pouch Swap.  I was really willing this one to be mine. Don't get me wrong there were a huge amount of pouches I would have dearly loved. But this one seemed to have my name on it. I think when the pictures first started appearing in the group I favourited 4 straight off!  I shouldn't admit this and I know you lot won't tell a soul. I have been one of the last to receive and every time I'd looked in the group I'd check that nobody had posted pictures of receiving this pouch.  You can see why!


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This pouch has been made by Kelsey of Kelsey Creates. she did the most lovely embroidery of one of the Heather Ross mermaids. Despite having done a lot of embroidery I'm not sure what the stitch she's used for the mermaid tail is; it makes a fab scaley look to the tail body.  The pouch has some adorable bits of Mendocino (I've mentioned before this is my favourite fabric right?) inset in the sides and for tabs either end of the pouch. More Mendocino lines it.

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Inside the pouch was this adorable little elephant made from elephant fabric. How cute is this pinnie? Although I confess I may not be able to stick pins in something so lovely! He'll just have to come and keep me company as I sew.  

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There was also some lovely Mendocino scraps in the pouch too. This is everything all laid out. Pouch, scraps and the lovely elephant pinnie.

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Now whilst this pouch would make a fab' travel toilet bag, I can't bear the thought that something might get spilt on this loveliness. I think it would make a great storage pouch for embroidery threads! So that's what I'll use it for; for now at least.

So I did really well in a swap again! Although when ever I receive something wonderful in swap I feel a bit down that I didn't manage to make something so wonderful for my partner. I think when I get back into swapping again I really need to lift my game.  :-s