Friday, 29 May 2015

10 Things: Week 21

1. Read: I'm catching up with some books that were popular a year ago. (or in one case I thought it was a year ago only to realise I bought the book for my kindle in 2012 and I think it had been popular for a while then. Goes to show how time flies!) First book I've read this week is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It feels like I'm the last person on the planet to finish reading it. It was better than I expected. I can easily be put off books if the hype around them gets too big and then I can justify not reading said books by any negative comment I hear about them. Anyway, I'd heard the ending was weak. Lets just say it was not the ending I wanted. Although when I discussed this with my brother on Sunday he asked me what I thought was going to happen and I told him and then said: But I want XXX to happen. He agreed with the XXX comment (see trying not to give spoilers for anyone who hasn't read it.) and it turned out my expectation was nearer the money. Next up was The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Which I found compulsive reading, although I was left with the sense I'd missed something important and probably need to reflect some more on this one. Loved the descriptions of homesteading life in Alaska in the 1920's - rather them than me! And for reading in the bath - The Bad Mothers Handbook - by Kate Long. Some laugh out loud funny moments in that.

2. Made: Nothing. I think my head has been so much in reading mode I've only thought about making rather than actually doing it.

3. Watched: I confess I've been sneaking off to bed with my kindle rather than watching TV although I got a bit miffed last Friday when I flicked through the channels at 9pm and saw: 'The Walking Dead' I flicked on past thinking I'd misread Waking the Dead (wouldn't be the first time) and then flicked back to check and discovered series 5 of the series has been shown in double episodes since the beginning of the month on Spike. I'd not seen it advertised and they were showing episodes 7 and 8. Quickly went on 5 on Demand and it was too late to watch the first two episodes. I had to start with 3 and 4 as they were about to become unavailable. Can you believe I was watching these whilst having the most recent episodes on on the TV with the sound turned down\?! Multitasking to a whole new level. Some how the series seems to be getting tired for me. But it might have been the dipping in and out thing and missing the start. I do not recommend trying to watch multiple episodes of anything simultaneously!

4. My Garden/Flowers: I managed to get a bit of gardening done over the bank holiday weekend. Although I felt it in a few muscles for several days afterwards. Every picture tells a story and I think the story I was telling was of an old lady every time I tried to bend down or get up! It's worth it as I continue to see something new every day.

My garden in May 


Iris take two

5. Eaten: I have been craving jacket potatoes with coleslaw. I had one a few months ago for lunch at Cotswold Wildlife Park and this week it's been the food I've fancied the most.

6. Visited/Seen: I had originally intended to get out and about over the bank holiday weekend. However, when it came down to it more time was spent chilling at home. We did have a couple of strolls and I loved spotting this family of Canada Geese on the moat at my old school.

Canada Geese Family

Big leaf!
Isn't this leaf a biggie? You can just see my Mum's hand
in shot. You'd need a big sheet of paper if you wanted 
to do a leaf rubbing of this!

7. Recommended: I am trying to think of something good to recommend to you, but I can't.

8. Stash: In. 0 Out 0 Ok so none is leaving. At least no more is coming in.

9. Birds: Look who visited my bird feeder this week. We've had them pop in from time to time before. (Often when it's raining.)

Woodpecker having a tea time snack!
Great Spotted Woodpecker

10. And Finally...Chief and I have booked our summer holiday.  It may be a perfect excuse to do a spot of making!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Amsterdam Quilt or Tulips for Gertie

All week the weather has conspired against me getting photos of my finished Amsterdam Quilt. It's either been showery (meaning it's either raining when I could take the pics or it's stopped raining and everywhere is too wet and grubby to go hanging my quilt.) or it's been so windy the chances of getting a decent picture have been remote. In the mean time I've had a ear-worm of 'Tulips from Amsterdam'  fairground-organ-style playing in my head.

Finished Amsterdam Quilt

The pattern is a free one from the Cloud9 Fabrics website.  The tulip blocks come together quite quickly although I did find it frustrating that the bottom half of the block came out a different size to the top meaning a serious amount of trimming. But that may just have been me. I confess I did write down the piece sizes in a note book, so I didn't have to keep running to the computer to remind myself of the right sizes for cutting. 

I made a lot more blocks than in the pattern as I wanted a bigger quilt. The plan is to use this in 'Gertie' Chiefs camper van.  When I made Chief a quilt for the same purpose he requested a quilt long enough to cover both his head and toes so that when it's really cold he can snuggle right under it. I thought it sounded sensible and that I'd do the same - even though I'm not sure I'm planning on overnighters in the cold! 

To help increase the over all size I sashed between the blocks and around them. The quilt is also made pretty much entirely from stash. I only bought a couple of red fat quarters as I can't think of tulips without thinking of the red ones and since I made the 'Christmas red and white quilt' a while back my stash has had next to no red left in it. Not even enough to make a couple of tulips. 

Finished Amsterdam Quilt
You can't see the backing. It's a dusky blue coloured fabric I bought on sale years ago with the intention of backing another quilt with it. Only that quilt never got finished and out grew the size of the fabric I'd bought for backing.  I made a scrappy binding in colours that looked good with the back and the front of the quilt. There are a couple of wonky bits in the binding and I'll admit there are a couple of small puckers on the back. However, this a utility, not a show quilt and it's so pretty (I think) that I can over look the imperfections.

Finished Amsterdam Quilt

Friday, 22 May 2015

10 Things: Week 20

Thank you to everyone that took the trouble to comment on my blogging dilemma. It seems that most people like posts with more than just the sewing element and it was lovely to hear that so many of you look forward to the photographs!

1. Read:  I have finished: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins on my kindle. It was an interesting thriller that had me turning the electronic pages. I've also read: The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood, which was a disturbing story set in future America where the constitution has broken down and various religious sects rule and fight one another. The story is told from a Handmaids point of view. Women's role in society has gone back to prehistoric times. They have no rights or choices. I would have liked a slightly different ending and found the book very similar in tone to George Orwells: 1984. I have also read the next book group choice - it only took me a few hours as it was only a novella: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. I found it mildly amusing, but not the 'Hilariously Funny' Amazon branded it.

2. Made: The Amsterdam Quilt has been finished - frustratingly not photographed. I'm hoping I'll get the chance, the right weather and any assistance I may need over the long weekend.

3. Watched: Things have been a bit hectic this week with little tv viewing done. I was disappointed to discover Atlantis was axed and there will not be a series 3. Something they didn't realise until part way through airing of series 2, so the ending is hinting at bigger and darker things to come. Only they won't.

4. My Garden/Flowers: I continue to find new things every day. Including weeds. I need to get out over the long weekend and get some of those dug up. I also have a tonne of seeds to direct sew.

My Garden

My Garden in May 

5. Eaten:  Nothing of note. In fact it's been a very lazy, convenience food orientated sort of week.

6. Visited/Seen: This afternoon to start off the long weekend I decided to go for a stroll with my camera. I took a 'big lens' hoping to take pics of birds. In reality I should have taken my small lens to get more landscape type shots.

Cow parsley drift on the field edge
Loving the cow parsley drifts on the field margins and verges.

male pheasant looking very spiffy

This amused me. The farmers son lives in the house across the road 
from the tractor. Talk about taking your company vehicle home!

7. Recommended: Orla Kiely has put some of her designs on three limited edition coffee jars. This is the brand of coffee my Mum and brother drink so when I found two different designs in my local Asda I had to grab a couple (just missing the yellow). It's a cheap way to get a bit of Orla design in your home. As for the coffee...I don't even drink it.

My local asda has two out of three designs. They seem to have been sent double amount of green so have no yellow

8. Stash: In: 0 Out: 3/4 metre (binding for Amsterdam Quilt.) Technically I did have fabric come this week in the form of those lovely winnings from Lucy (see my last post.) I have no idea how much was there (Lots) and as I didn't buy it I won't include it. (see the lengths I'll go to to make my fabric addiction seem not so bad?!)

9. Birds: Only one new one to add to my list this week. A sparrow hawk flew over my house. I often see one about, although this was the first time I'd noticed it this year.

10. And finally...Chief and I had got ourselves excited about the possibility of a foreign holiday together in just over a weeks time. But it didn't work out (I'd even got my Euros!). It's postponed not cancelled. In the mean time I may get more time to sew!?

Saturday, 16 May 2015

The urge to sew v the urge to photograph

I had the best kid of start to the day on Saturday - the postman bought me a package. It was my winnings and a book swap from Lucy. I won her sewmamasew give away recently. Quite amazed myself because this time I'd completely forgotten it was on the horizon so didn't host my own give away and then I only entered a handful of other peoples give aways. Statistically I didn't expect to win and was over the moon when I found I had. In case you didn't see the give away - I won a lovely handmade bag full of scraps. Thanks again Lucy!

Oooh thank you so much @charmaboutyou loving the bag and fabric. (Your points are far too good) will look forward to the book too. I have two quilt plans in my head the fabric will be perfect for! #winner!

And the bag which you can just see in the above picture - (OMG how good are the points?!) was crammed full of charms and fabric scraps you can see on the top. Such lovely scraps made me want to sew. Part of the reason I've not been sewing lately is because I'd promised myself I'd not start anything new until I finished the Amsterdam Quilt which just needs binding. So given I'll not want to hold off playing with this fabric goodness for long. I actually made the binding I needed and have machine sewn it to the quilt - ready for hand sewing down on the back. The plan had been to do that in front of the TV tonight night. Only I was too tired. Maybe because after lunch I decided I needed to go on a little drive (photography expedition.) 

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before but I splurged some savings and Christmas vouchers from the family on a new camera lens. It was one of those purchases that made me suck the air through my teeth because I'm not very good at spending money. Even if it's on something I'll enjoy immensely and get a lot of use from (like my sewing machine). I am an expert at agonising, justifying, worrying about rainy day needs and such like. But whilst I was amidst the grip of procrastination I tried the lens I wanted and fell in love. The prospect of a holiday abroad (more about that when and if it comes off.) and I was ticking more boxes on the list of reasons to get the lens.

Since I've had the lens I want to keep taking pictures with it. Or maybe it's I want to take it on adventures and expeditions and take pictures with it! I had decided the bag I won would make a perfect project bag for hand sewing when I go off in Gertie. However, I have no idea when I'll next see Chief. Let alone when we'll get away in Gertie and I needed to use the bag straight away. It just so happened it was just what I needed for slinging in a few essentials when I go out taking just my camera. Sometimes I don't want to lug a bag for the camera and yet I still need to take keys, phone, purse etc. 

@charmaboutyou in use already.  Just back from a little photography exhibition

I decided to combine the trip with a drive out for Mum. She's not been very well this week. Not sure what's been wrong. Suspect it could be a virus and/or hey fever. It's really been getting her down. She's off her food, lethargic, down, runny nosed and has very scratchy eyes. I know she suffers with the oil seed rape in the fields. Every other field around here is full of the yellow stuff. Anyway, we drove and ended up in Ewelme a little village in Oxfordshire in the Chiltern hills. It's famous for lots of things including having a village school in the oldest building to house a local authority school in England and the village still has watercress beds running through it. I have to say I didn't pick the best time to go. Oxford Art Weeks are on and many villages are invaded by visitors making it difficult to park or faff about if you don't know where you're going. I managed to park near the church and whilst Mum waited in the car I hurried off to take a few pictures. 

Ewelme, Oxfordshire

Adjoining the church is the Cloisters. A residence for those in need and very picturesque it is too. I had heard you were allowed in this area if you respected the privacy of the residents, but I literally took a couple of snaps from the bottoms of the steps from the Church. I didn't want to intrude. It's so pretty and like entering another world/time.

Ewelme, Oxfordshire

Ewelme, Oxfordshire

Ewelme, Oxfordshire

Ewelme, Oxfordshire 
Ewelme, Oxfordshire

Tomorrow I will try to not get distracted from the hand sewing of my binding by photography. Although of course I'll need another expedition to photograph my quilt!

Friday, 15 May 2015

10 Things: Week 19

Well, I've been doing these particular blog posts for nearly 20 weeks now. And am wondering whether I should continue or not. It's clear from the stats that hits on this blog posts are significantly lower than on other sewing related posts. It's not just that people aren't commenting. They don't appear to be reading either.

1. Read: I finished the book group choice - Road to Damascus. It wasn't a great read.  It was all too disjointed and badly written. It'll be interesting to see what book group makes of it. My bath time read devoured was: Until you're mine - by Samantha Haynes. A great thriller. Just don't read it if pregnant. I have two more books on the go: The Girl on The Train is on my kindle currently and for bath time reading I've started The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood.

2. Made: Still need to do the binding for the Amsterdam Quilt. However, I have done making of a different kind - jewellery making. A couple of bracelets bought ages ago in a Fat Face Sale and a silver toggle clasp and I have a new necklace.

Jewellery Maker

3. Watched: Home Fires - Sunday nights on ITV. A drama based on the book Jam Busters about the WI in a small village as war has broken out. Strong female case and great costumes.

4. My Garden/Flowers: It's rained a bit this week so the flowers and weeds are growing at a pace.

My garden early May My garden early May
My garden early May 5. Eaten: Cheese scones. Made last Friday whilst Chief was travelling down for the weekend.

Just knocked up some cheese scones 

6. Visited/Seen: Chief and I took a trip to Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetland Trust. They have all 6 species of flamingo's there as well as lots of other birds - many of which you can get very close to. I loved the Nene geese the best. These are the rarest geese in the world - originally from Hawaii and so lovely. Sweet faces. Totally fell in love. I won't bore you with a tonne of pictures but you can find more on flickr if you're interested.

Slimbridge WWT

Me Feeding Geese at Slimbridge
How can you not love these geese?!

7. Recommended: Slimbridge WWT or any other WWT you might be close to. I couldn't believe how close you could get to the birds and it was a great day out. Although if you're like my friend Catherine and a bit duck phobic you probably won't enjoy it so much...

8. Stash: In 0 Out 0 Well at least I haven't bought any more fabric to add to the stash!

9. Birds: See number 6 above - although on the trip to Slimbridge and the stroll Chief and I had the next day means my bird list for the year is up to: 90!

10. And finally...I really would be interested in hearing what you all feel about these posts and whether I should continue with them and blogging. I know a lot of people will say they blog for them so continue if I want to. However, I started blogging as it was the done thing becoming part of this sewing community. I used to really enjoy it. I used to enjoy the interaction with other bloggers and being part of a community that I hoped would encourage get togethers offline, as well as on. Sadly I don't feel connected in the same way and haven't for some time. A lot of people have cut down on their own blogging and blog reading has become limited to those in their immediate cliques. I'm even wondering if I stop blogging whether I'll become more creative. Lots to think about.

Friday, 8 May 2015

10 Things: Week 18

For those that miss the making on this blog there is actual making to report this week!

1. Read: I have read The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I have seen the two film versions of this and was surprised that I remembered some of the dialogue being used in the film with Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta Jones.  I found whilst the book built some good tension up I found the ending a bit of a let down. Maybe it didn't help I'd seen the film version and had some preconceived ideas. I have started my book group choice on the kindle. It's called 'Road to Damascus' by Jazz Shabhan. It's the story of two sisters separated when their father dies and their mother returns to Amman leaving the disabled younger sister behind. I'm not sure how I'm going to find it. The lack of an editor to correct spelling mistakes and punctuate is irritating me. I can forgive it in the diary extracts but it irritates in the rest of the narrative. Oh and I have a new book for bath time on the go too. More about that next time.

2. Made: I have actually finished the Amsterdam Quilt - well I will have when I decide upon and make the binding. I took it upon myself to make the quilt backing and get it basted and then quilted on Sunday. I'd had the backing in my stash for as long as 20 years. I'd bought it with a mind to back another quilt. But that quilt never got finished. (Maybe one day!) the quilt out grew the backing material anyway. It's nice to have finally found a use for it. I think this quilt deserves a blog post of it's own. So I won't share many pics here.

Right lets get this sucker pin basted.

3. Watched: The C-Word about Lisa Lynch's battle with stage 3 breast cancer. Sheridan Smith is brilliant and the drama succeeds in turning what could be a maudlin depressing story into something positive and life affirming. Although, I'll admit it doesn't make for easy viewing at times.

4. My Garden/Flowers: My garden has benefited from the rain. It put paid to gardening plans over the bank holiday and I'm sure the weeds have grown twice as fast of the flowers.

5. Eaten: Mum and I did our usual thing of a lunch out because it was the long weekend. We had sandwiches and a bowl of chips at a local pub and then had these yummy (and filling next time we'll share.) desserts which were brandy snap baskets filled with raspberry mousse.

Lunch at The Coach and Horses, Chiselhampton

6. Visted/seen: Before lunch Mum and I went over to Waterperry Gardens. We like to make the most of our 'Friends' membership, as it give us free entry to the gardens. The tulip displays are particularly lovely. It's a shame that the weather turned so cold as normally I don't need a coat and scarf to have my photo taken at Waterperry in May!

Waterperry Gardens, Oxfordshire

Waterperry Gardens, Oxfordshire

Waterperry Gardens, Oxfordshire

I also managed a May Day walk to a local wood and whilst the bluebells were pretty underwhelming I did see a hare - bold as brass on the path ahead of me and on the way back a deer. 

Walk to Holton Wood

Walk to Holton Wood

7. Recommended: I can't think of anything to recommend this week - other than blog reading to see if there are any prizes you fancy wining in the Sew Mama Sew! give away day. I would have done a give away myself but it was so not on my radar until I started seeing give away news popping up in my blog roll. Maybe I'll have a give away in a week or so time anyway?!

8. Stash: In. 0 Out: 3.5 yards - That more like it! More going out than going in! And I'm seriously considering that destash. If I can just get my act together!

9. Birds: Nothing new to report. I did disturb a pair of red legged partridges on my way home from the wood.

10. And finally...I have voted and await the results of the various elections with interest. Although now I'm glad it's over. This post will be scheduled due to Chief being down tomorrow when I normally post.

Friday, 1 May 2015

10 Things: Week 17

1. Read: I started and finished two books this week already: The Brides Farewell by Meg Rosoff which is a book for young adults/older teens and if you're not familiar with her work I recommend it - particularly: How I live Now. The Brides Farewell is a historically set novel and had atmosphere and the sense of tragedy I associate with novels by Thomas Hardy.  Last Saturday I trawled the local charity shops for two things: Vintage sheets and Veronica Stallwood novels and failed on both counts. Luckily I'd picked up Oxford Blue at the Bookcrossing Convention, so I had my fix of Oxford crime. Even though I didn't intend to do the 52 books in a year thing I am averaging a book a week for the first three months. It's entirely possible I could have one of my best reading years yet. Of course now I've said that I'll probably fail miserably!

Onto my second book of the day. Love lazy sundays!

2. Made: Nothing! Quite frankly even though I've had fleeting ideas of things I could make. It's been a struggle to find the time this week. Maybe I'll get something made over the long weekend? It would be really nice to get some more work done on the Amsterdam quilt.

3. Watched: Atlantis is back on and even though this is a show that had a very shaky start and I'm sure die hard fans of Greek Mythology are probably outraged by how the characters have used, I am finding it the only thing worth watching on Saturday nights. Why is TV so rubbish at weekends? Not everyone is out partying are they?

4. My Garden/Flowers: I continue to notice something different in the garden every day. If it's not a new flower in bud, it's a different blossom on the trees.

Blue thoughts

Cox's Apple Blossom


5. Eaten  Saturday I went for lunch with an old school friend. We hadn't met up since last year and as a consequence we still had birthday and Christmas gifts to exchange. We shared a lovely Turkish meze and it was incredibly good value. Less than £10 per head and that including drinks!

Bar Meze - Lunch with Mel 

6. Visited/Seen It's been all about work and meetings this week. Plus a couple of trips to the local plant nursery. So no lovely pictures to entertain you here this week.

7. Recommended: Adult colouring books. No not that kind of adult. Colouring books of delicious designs for adults to colour. The one I have: Flights of Fancy reminds me very much of the kinds of black pen pictures I'd draw for my niece to colour when she got home from Primary school. Wonderfully relaxing to sit with some colouring pens and just colour. Of course I think I may need to make myself a new pencil case and am hoping to run a few pens out, so I can justify buying more. There are one or two pens in my old pencil case that I've had since I was at school!!

8. Stash: In. 3 fat quarters Out: 0 Yes, I know I said I'd not add to my fabric stash. But Mary had a lovely little IG offer of some fat quarters she'd just found and I got tempted. Can't help it when it comes to vintage sheets. I do have plans! Some of which involve some bunting for the summer house. Come the better weather I'll be spending a lot of time relaxing in or just outside the summer house and want to spruce this whole area up.

9. Birds: Nothing new to report. Although did I mention last time I'd heard the cuckoo for the first time this year? It's not been singing much.

10. And Finally...It's a long weekend in England this week as we get the first Monday of May off as public/bank holiday.  I'm hoping to pack a bit into the long weekend. Although I'm not entirely sure what yet.
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