Monday, 25 April 2011

Bluebells - Good Friday Fun!

For at least five generations members of my mothers family have been walking the five fields behind our house to a local wood where they would gather spring flowers or other goodies depending on the season. Whilst these days we do not pick the flowers, we still like to walk to the woods to see the bluebells, which have been unusually early this year.  Easter has been late so we took our yearly walk at bluebell time on Good Friday. Again it was glorious sunshine, not typical of April weather. I can never take decent bluebell pictures as I can never get the light and camera settings right to do them justice. Of course no photograph highlights the gorgeous smell that often hits you the field before the woods, if the wind is blowing in the right direction.  

They say England has some of the best displays of bluebells you'll find anywhere else in the world.  I will eventually upload more pictures of our walk to flickr. I have a back log of photos from the last few days to sort and upload.


P1060494 by isisjem22
P1060494, a photo by isisjem22 on Flickr.
J and I both love birds of prey. So back last year when I saw Groupon (A discounted voucher scheme) had a voucher for a bird of prey experience at Fallowfields Falconry I booked us two tickets. The deal said we'd get the chance to hold and fly a variety of birds in a small group...with tea and cake thrown in.

We arrived just before the start time (after my poor navigation and a slight detour.) and found the place packed with people booked on the experience. Far from a small group there was quite a gang of us and I missed out on tea and cake.

The location and weather made up for it as we were given a tour of the Aviary. Then it was out to the field to start the flying part of the experience. Unfortunately two of the owls they brought out refused to fly, so they had to move on to the Harris Hawks. After that we watched a hybrid hawk being flown and the experience was over. During the tour we'd been told over 6000 Groupon vouchers had been sold and I suspect this accounted for the large group and limited flying time. Both J and I suspect this is a place to return to in a couple of years when they've improved these experiences and expanded to cope with the high number of visitors.

As lovely as the attached, Fallowfields Hotel, looked we opted for lunch at "The Vicky Arms" on the banks of the River Cherwell just outside Oxford. Glorious weather, some beautiful birds and stunning locations - all in all we both had a fabulous day and between us we got some lovely pictures

Friday, 22 April 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

P1060559 by isisjem22
P1060559, a photo by isisjem22 on Flickr.

I have not been blogging much lately. I have plenty to say and show you (although I confess nothing that I've made, because I haven't had the time).

In order to blog properly about what I've been doing I need to sort out literally hundreds of photos I've been taking lately. I have a busy Easter coming up.

In case you're wondering what the picture is about - this was lunch for my other half after we'd taken part in a falconry experience on Thursday. I just don't like to blog without a picture. I'll blog about the falconry experience another time...

But for now have a lovely Easter! xox

Friday, 15 April 2011

Noodleheaded sewing

I'm a great believer in sharing when things don't go right creatively. All to often I think we can be a bit in awe of the uber talented people that only show off the fabulous things they make. Now I'm not saying I'm in this category - far from it. However, I think if some of these super talented folk owned up they'd confess that sometimes their makes go wrong. That the seam ripper and the bin are their best friends on some projects.  We all have our Achilles heel.  That 'thing' that makes us grit our teeth and hope for the best, knowing it could go either way. We could have a wonder of a make or a pile or rags.  Well, I had one of those: Oh ?!%***  moments today. 

For months I've had it in my mind to make a gathered clutch as per the lovely tutorial on the blog Noodlehead.  Ever since I stumbled on the pattern I'd wanted to make it and marvelled at the ones I'd seen other people share on their blogs. Today I thought I'd knock one up as a potential gift for a friend.  So I picked out some fabrics I thought she'd like. Got the instructions in front of me and then off I went following to the letter the step by step tutorial. And well, I ended up with this:

When I get around to uploading a photo to flickr it'll end up in this group. I suspect I will end up the most prolific contributor to this group :-/  Now before you look at the above picture and think - Hmmm that looks ok. I should point out the camera appears to have lied in this particular picture. What you can't see unless you stand the bag up is the bag is not uniformly rectangle. The bottom is ok. It's the top where the zip is; it has a sort of taper to it which looks bodged. You also can't tell from the picture that the lining ended up a fraction bigger than the external part of the pouch and as a result I have a nasty hem bulky ridge inside the pouch. Despite the picture above maybe falsely leading you to believe otherwise - this is NOT fit for a gift.

I could have got my seam ripper out and tried to rectify it. However, I'd spent half an hour trying to get this from inside out, to right way out and couldn't face going through that again. Especially when I could see the cunning flaw in my Noodlehead-ed sewing.  You see it was the gathers. I struggled with these. I didn't know how to set my machine to do the best type of basting to gather. I managed to get it to gather and ironed the gathers, but the gathers created a sort of wonky ripple. This wonky ripple meant it wasn't easy to sew everything together - maybe I should have just trimmed it. As it was I think I basted everything wonky and that's where it's gone wrong.

In my defence - I've heard that zips scare a lot of folk. Well they don't me. The zip in this was one of the easier bits. See I'm not completely useless. :-)

Tomorrow I may try a different type of pouch. I may make this without the gathers and all the divider/card wallets.  As for this one? Well I may use it myself...or I may put it with the other stuff I've made I'm not happy with...

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Kitchen Garden

Kitchen Garden by isisjem22
Kitchen Garden, a photo by isisjem22 on Flickr.

When I'm feeling pretentious I'll call the Veg Patch: "The kitchen garden". Not content with shifting a tonne of soil for the beds, my brother also laid weed proof membrane and shifted about half a tonne of pea shingle for the paths around the beds.

I'm ridiculously proud of this little area and can't wait for it to start producing lovely goodies to eat and cook with.

As for sewing...hmmm the weather has been too nice to spend much time inside - although I've a burning urge to get back into some fibre art - the more traditional quilting may be taking a bit of a back seat at the moment!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The Good Life?

At this time of the year, in this part of the world (South England), it's not expected to have it so hot we don shorts and vest tops. It's fair to say that us Brit's, on the whole, are not accustomed to spontaneous sunshine and as a result we're not a collective pretty sight with our pasty white skin and 'it is hot we can't be expected to look chic,' attitude to impromptu summer dressing. So maybe it's as well I've spent much of the day in the back garden planting up the veg beds.

My brother had shifted a tonne of topsoil the day before in order to fill the two beds he made me. I've been digging in compost to help improve the soil further.

Despite the balmy weather there is still a frost risk, so some tender seeds and plants can't go out yet. So far I've stuck to veggies that can tolerate a bit of cold.

At the moment the biggest risk though, is the local pigeon population. They already visit my bird feeding station to decimate the food put out for the prettier birds.

It may be hard work, but it's satisfying work. Messing about in the garden certainly is: "The Good Life" to me.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Dresden wedges cut!

Dresden wedges cut! by isisjem22
Dresden wedges cut!, a photo by isisjem22 on Flickr.
Ok, lets ignore the rubbish light and 'design carpet'.  The persnickety out there will also notice I've not shown any of the wedges an iron yet.  This layout is subject to change, but this is where I'm going with it so far.

There is always one in the group that can't follow instructions. That will be me. Having printed and cut the template to slightly different dimensions to those marked on the template. I've also managed to cut 22 wedges, not the 21 that the pattern requires. I don't know whether I'll need that 'extra' or whether with all the seams sewn, I'll only need the 21. But for the purposes of laying them out in a nice circle there are 22. Rumours I am mathematically challenged are NOT exaggerated!  I will start sewing at the weekend.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Dresden Potential?

Dresden Potential? by isisjem22
Dresden Potential?, a photo by isisjem22 on Flickr.
I have started pulling fabrics for Lily's Quilts QAL. Choosing fabric can be hard. Not because it's a difficult thing to do. I mean it's selecting fabric, not open heart surgery. It's just I have so much fabric to choose from and never enough. Never enough blenders and those fabrics that are nothing by themselves and everything with other fabrics.

It's a start right?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Undies and Otmoor.

I've had a really lovely weekend.  Saturday morning my Mum and I went into Oxford to do a bit of shopping.  I'd got a bit of birthday money left to spend.  I also wanted desperately needed some new underwear. I'd bought some recently in my usual size to find that they didn't fit properly.  This was the first opportunity I'd had lately, to go and try stuff on before purchasing. It turned into a bit of a nightmare so I popped a long to Bravissimo, which lots of people had recommended for a good fitting service.  After a short wait I had my fitting, then the fitter selected tonnes of underwear for me to try on and gave me advice on whether the fitting was a good one or not.  There is a down side though - the underwear they sell is considerably more expensive than the one's I've bought previously. So I didn't buy much. However, now I know my size and how to check for a good fit I can shop anywhere...that has my new size!  As a little aside, is now the time to mention I've always fancied making some underwear?

My other half also made it down last night. It was touch and go whether it would happen as he was working for most of Saturday and then it looked like he was going to be the only person available for a duty that had suddenly come up at camp on Sunday. Thankfully due to an understanding RSM and a very kind and helpful colleague, he managed to get away earlier on Saturday.  Whilst, he had to leave earlier today, we still got to spend a lovely day together at the RSPB reserve at Otmoor.  I saw a yellow hammer (the first one for years!), but was too slow with my camera. I did however manage to get some shots of lapwings:

There were so many of them flitting about and enjoying the wetlands.  My favourite birds of this trip to Otmoor were the Reed Buntings. It's unusual to see them feeding on feeders as they are ground feeders. I guess the seed was just too tempting!

So tomorrow it's back to work for another week! Don't the weekends just fly by when you're having a lovely time?

Friday, 1 April 2011

Lily's Quilts - Fresh Sewing Day!

Fresh Sewing Day @ Lily's Quilts

Go on and join the fun over at Lily's Quilts...You know you want to ;-)
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