Monday, 31 December 2012

100 Day Hustle - Check in Time

I'm probably going to be too late linking up with this. But I hadn't been up to blogging about this before now.

Now my last check in post was here.  That's definitely the post to read if you want to see how I got on because the original list here was pretty much completed when I posted at the midway mark. In fact about the only thing I added to it was a Christmas Table Runner. I wanted one for myself so as the swap Modern Christmas Table Runner Swap was having a second round I decided I'd join in the fun.  Unfortunately my partner didn't receive until about yesterday. (At least that's when I noticed she'd received in the group.) So it was a bit late getting there for Christmas.


I hope my partner liked it as I had fun making it and would have happily kept this myself.

In all I feel I managed to get a fair portion of my list done and a few extra things not on the list.  Hopefully when I'm feeling better I can get cracking with some more sewing.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The drama continues

I most be going through one of those patches, that everyone goes through from time to time. You know where everything that can go wrong seems to go wrong. Firstly though I had a lovely Christmas Day. Mum absolutely loved the quilt I made her and was shocked and surprised at how I'd kept that secret.


Things started going down hill on Boxing Day. I developed a sore throat, which has turned into a stinking cold. Just what you don't need when you're on antibiotics for another infection and have low iron.  Mum and I went down to my brothers for lunch and had a lovely day despite everything. 

Boxing Day I gave my niece the rubbish hit and miss quilt.  I'd caught the fabric in the backing in a sort of horrible pucker not noticed until after I'd finished sewing the binding on which was another shit thing about it. I decided it was too crap to give as a proper present so she got handed this in a carrier bag with the proviso she could bin it if she wanted.

Boxing Day night Mum said she was off to bed and went to fill the kettle for a hot water bottle. I heard a really loud crash and thought that one of the bins had been blown over in the gales or something. I called to Mum and got no answer. When I went to investigate she was collapsed unconscious on the bathroom floor. I dialled 999 and she came round during the first call.  To cut a long story short it took an effing hour and fifteen minutes from the first call to 999 for the ambulance to arrive!  They did various tests and said the ECG showed that she's possibly had a heart attack in the past. But they didn't know what had caused this episode. They offered to take her in but said there would be a long wait. I told them she'd stay at home. After all if it takes over an hour to get an ambulance 'under emergency conditions' then they'd probably get round to us in A & E sometime in 2013.  I said I'd take her to the doctors the next day. So they sat and filled in release forms and left the ECG read outs and went on their way.

Her own GP was more helpful the next day. He said if it happened again call 999 again. (Which made me smile as it's hardly the emergency service I thought it was.) and he's referring her to a clinic in hospital in the New Year. He said the portable ECG machines aren't that reliable and he doesn't think she's ever had a heart attack - which is a big relief.  Of course I've been pretty crap looking after her feeling so rubbish myself.

Then today Chief phoned with more bad news. He's had the Noro Virus the past few days. But has heard that his Dad's cancer has spread and they've given him 2 weeks to live. There is no treatment that will help. It's taken the shine off Chief having a minor mention (so minor they don't put it in the papers.) in the New Years Honours list. 

All this going on means any Bee blocks I hoped to catch up on over the Christmas break are unlikely to happen now.  I don't know when I'll next sew. It doesn't feel right now like I'll ever sew again. I've not even been tempted by the many fabric sales going on.  So I'm sorry that everything will be so late.

Hope you all had a fab Christmas though x o x

Monday, 24 December 2012

Advent 24: He's Coming...

He's coming...

Wishing  you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas. 

See you on the other side. 


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Advent 23: 7 Random Questions

I just read this post over on Katy's blog and thought I'd play along. I have nothing I've made to show you. Unless you count these mince pies. I don't think I've sewn anything in December.

7 Random Questions

1. Do you wear make-up every day? 
No. I used to never be seen without lipstick or nail varnish but since I've been poorly putting on make up is another chore. However, when I have had my Christmas eve shower and am ready to open a pressie (as is our tradition) I will no doubt put on some make up so not to look too scary in the photos!

2. In your opinion, what is the best part of the holidays?  Christmas Eve when the tree's been decorated, all the chores and work has been done. The presents are under the tree, the lamps are on, candles are lit and nothing matters other than chilling out and watching a bit of TV.

3. Which character are you most like from Winnie the Pooh?  Piglet. Was a nickname at school. And like piglet I try really hard even if I don't always get it right.

4. What holiday movie are you excited to see?  Umm not sure. I do like to watch It's a Wonderful Life - 'Every time a bell rings and angel gets it's wings...'

5. How many pairs of jeans do you own?  No idea and do I count jeggings? ;-)

6. What’s a gross fact about yourself?  Umm I can't think of one off hand. I mean I'm sure there are plenty but my mind is blank.  

7. What would you choose to eat as your “last meal”?  Smoked salmon belinis to start, Mum's home cooked roast beef, Yorkshire Pudding, horse radish sauce, roast potatoes and parsnips, carrots, runner beans and a dollop of cauliflower cheese. Dessert would be a bowl of champagne sorbet and a fresh cream eclair. (The scary thing is I didn't have to think hard about this at all!)

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Advent 22: It's the little things that keep you going.

Acts of Kindness
A surprise in the mail I'm keeping for Christmas Day.
I'll reveal what it is after Christmas and who it was from.

Just as I was feeling my health was starting to improve I had another drama on the home front. Mum went to go to bed on Thursday night to find her bed was wet through.  The flat roof above her bedroom was leaking.  Of all the places it could leak it was right above her bed. As it was too late to do anything other than grab some buckets to catch the water she had a sleep over in my room. The next day I organised someone to come and put a tarpaulin (or three as it turned out over the roof.) They couldn't see an obvious place where the roof had failed although they said the whole surface was very spongy.  Unfortunately today with more rain it's still leaking and she is unable to return to that room.  The room is small - as are all the rooms in our cottage, so sleeping in the leaky room is not possible. Today I've been moving stuff about, throwing stuff out and generally find her space to sleep elsewhere until the roof is replaced. (Not ideal when energy is at a premium.) Yes, the whole roof will need replacing. Not ideal given my time off work without pay. In order to replace the roof, a dry spell, with no frost is needed, it will be some time well into the New Year before this is likely to be possible.  The only spare room upstairs has the stairs through it, so not ideal, especially when Chief comes to stay. 

It's at times like these the unexpected little act of kindness from friends is so appreciated.  As I see the flooding in parts of the country on the news, I am grateful that I have not lost my whole home to water damage and that Christmas will still be possible in this house.

I'm hoping 2013 can only get better. And well if it doesn't at least I am blessed to be surrounded with so much kindness and support. 

Thank you xox

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Advent 18: A festive touch

I had to stop by again to share with you my received runner in the Modern Christmas Table Runner Swap.

Festive Runner

It was made by Leona and as you can see, already in use. I have no tree this year. Brother did offer to get it out of his loft last weekend, but really it would involve too much effort so I did the clean we'd do before put the tree up. I just have no tree. If I'm honest I miss it. But really with everything else that's been going on it's not a priority.

Thanks again for all the messages and comments. I am still really behind with everything.  Chief got down on Sunday (hence the big bunch of flowers in the jug.) It was nice to see him before Christmas and helped make up for another get together I'd had to cancel that day.

I ventured back to work today. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. But I am so looking forward to being properly well and not having to take at least two different kinds of tablets a day. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Advent 12: Rays of Sunshine

I can only apologise if my last blog post worried people. I wanted to let people know I was unlikely to be around, not make people think there had been a bereavement or that I had cancer or something. I have read each and every one of your messages, even though I'm not really up to answering them all at the moment. It's at times like these I feel truly blessed to be part of this community.

It is also why I'm back today. I need to share with you a ray of sunshine that was left in my back porch.  It was discovered quite late on because the postie must have sneaked it there and then put mail through the letter box.

As many of you know I am part of Bee a Brit Stingy - a new Bee starting in January. A few months ago we had a getting-to-know-you pin cushion swap. It went down so well that we decided to have a Secret Santa Swap. Today when this parcel arrived I knew my Secret Santa goodies had arrived.  I had to take a picture of the tape because it's so pretty.


Inside the parcel was a card and this package:

Note how it's in a cellophane bag making it look like a 'proper' gift basket.

This was everything that was inside.  (It obviously was a tardis among gift baskets!)

Rays of Sunshine
Excuse the crap photo. 

I mean wow! Nicky my Secret Santa partner, obviously decided to be a rebel and ignore the 'stingy' bit in the bee!   Inside was chocolate, fudge, candy cane, big stack of fabric charms, wonder clips, perle thread, Aurifil thread, purse frame, mini Paris post-its, cuddly toy (no, that's The Generation Game!), fun tape, embroidered giraffe book mark and a cute robin tree decoration. I have to admit I'm a bit emotional about everything going on right now and when I kept pulling out more and more lovely things. Completely 'Me' things. I confessed I burst into tears. Happy tears - obviously. I think anyone that knows me can see why I'd love absolutely everything here. Every last thing. Touched by how much kindness and thoughtfulness there is in this wonderful community. I can't thank Nicky enough.

If you want to see the things in more detail they're here and totally worth a look even if my pictures are not that great!

I should also tell you that Chief found his medals this week. They were in the bag he expected them to be in. The bag he'd nearly ripped apart searching for them. He came back from the weekend working in the north and went to get a lead from the bag to upload some pictures and he found the medals sat inside. We have no idea what happened there but he has them back.  He did get some replicas (at rather a cost) but it is not the same as having your own with your name engraved on them. 


Monday, 10 December 2012

Advent 10: Black Monday

Life is full of the most awful stress and well misery filled at the moment so I've decided to take a bloggy break.  It's bad enough with feeling constantly ill without other things to deal with. So I've decided it may well help if I cut out blogging for a while. If I'm not in touch again before Christmas I hope you all have a Happy, Peaceful, Healthy Christmas with the good kinds of things in your lives you all deserve.

As I'm sure you can appreciate I am removing comment notification from this post.

Best wishes x o x

Jan - Isisjem

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Advent 8 & 9: Ready for Secret Santa

The trouble with deciding to blog every day and then being ill so you don't do much or go anywhere, is you have nothing much to say some days. Yesterday was one of those days. On the health front though I managed to walk up the road with Mum while she delivered parish magazines to four houses. I consider this progress. (We'll ignore the fact it felt like I'd just walked a marathon.)

Today I assembled my Secret Santa parcels for the swap being held in the Bee a Brit Stingy bee.  Thankfully I'd had the forethought to make the fabric baskets already. I had planned on making some other bits for inside, but that's fallen by the wayside thanks to my health. However, I still had scraps and other bits to assemble.

Seeing Double?
No you aren't seeing double. One is for my partner and one is a secret. 

The swap requested we made a fabric basket as per this tutorial and then put some scraps inside. That was the minimum. We could put other stuff in to. But had to remember we are called Be a Brit Stingy for a reason. 

Sneaky Peeky
Two scrap piles for the bottom of each basket.

I don't tend to have big scraps of fabric and a lot of my scraps are odd shapes too. But I figured if I sent a selection my partner would have something they could use out of the whole lot.

By the time it came to wrapping the bits for in the basket I was feeling a bit wobbly so it looks like I delegated that and writing the cards to a small child. I was further foiled when I ran out of parcel tape. So the parcels have ended up a bit pass-the-parcel in the hope everything arrives in one piece.

Posting day is tomorrow although I will be late posting. Hopefully my partner won't mind the wait too much. 

I hope you've all had good weekends and aren't finding the Christmas preparations too stressful.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Advent 7: Packaging

Given my health at present I will not be making any more Christmas presents this year or trying to venture to shops for them. Online shopping is my best friend at the moment. Today a massive box from John Lewis turned up. It almost feels like Christmas unwrapping them.


There was tonnes of giant sized air bags. The box was lined in a sheet of them too. Wow I thought they must really want the charging dock thingy for Chief to be well protected. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and inside was this:

For this?

Yes, a roll of budget gift wrap. Three packets of chocolate coins, and a box of pins. (I only bought the pins because I was just short of qualifying for free delivery by the price of the pins and pins are always handy.)

Along with the massive box came this bag:


One of your standard plastic envelope bags.  No extra packaging. No protection and inside was the rest of my order including the most expensive bit - the charging thingy for Chief. 

Hmmm all that packaging for some coins, pins and gift wrap - barely a fivers worth of goods and the expensive stuff was in a plastic bag. 

Thank you all so much for all your well wishes. I am actually feeling a bit better today. Haven't really felt faint at all which is a big turn around to the last week. 

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Advent 6: Pointy Bottoms by Mail

Ha! I bet that title got a few peoples attention?

I am sure (probably like many people) if I get to 110 I'll still not get over that lovely feeling when you get nice mail. There is something lovely about a little parcel popping through the letter box or being left in our back porch and then opening it up and finding treasure inside.  Yesterday was one of those days when this turned up:


This month I've been fortunate enough to win two give aways. This one was a give away Mary had. I won a framed purse.  We could choose which one we got. As I like surprises I asked that Mary should surprise me.  She also sent a very generous pile of scraps. I was looking through them thinking Hmmmm she seems to know my tastes very well, then when I read the card I discovered a spot of stalking had been done over on flickr. 


This was the purse Mary chose for me.  Isn't it sweet? It has one of those pointy bottoms and is a sew in frame. I haven't had a go at this shape of purse or tried a sew-in frame yet. It's definitely on my new year list for things to try because I like the pointy bottom.

There is a tradition that if you give someone a purse it should have a coin in it for good luck.  Every purse I was ever given as a child would contain a shiny penny or similar. Luckily for me the coinage inside this purse was of the chocolate variety.  Hmmm would it be really bad to carry this purse in my bag year round full of chocolate coins for those moments when a little edible currency is needed?


You may also spot something else hiding inside there.


Yes, a matching mirror.  Ideal for checking my mouth isn't smeared with chocolate.  (Mary stalked me so well to know I would need this.) As you can imagine this made my day no end so thanks again Mary for such a thoughtful prize.

If you've not checked out Mary's blog I urge you to do so and also her Etsy shop. Where as I failed miserably with finding any vintage sheets to turn into quilts this lady is the queen of vintage sheeting. I think in the New Year I'll just some charms from Mary and let everyone think I scoured the charity shops for days on end to get such a great mix. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Advent 5: The First Snow of the Season

First Snow of the Season

We had some snow. By the time I was up and out of bed with my camera there was only this much left. Apparently it had been snowing at 5 am.  I stuck my camera out of my bedroom window because that was about all I could manage. I did have some lovely post today. But I think I'll save that for tomorrow when hopefully I'll have more about me to do a longer post.

Wherever you are: Stay warm, drive safe and take care. 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Advent 3 & 4: Not the Countdown I Anticipated

I am continuing to be plagued by health problems meaning the count down to Christmas on my blog isn't really working out so far.  Being this unwell so close to Christmas I wonder what sort of Christmas is in store for me. I'm certainly going to be having a few more visits to the doctors surgery.  There are no decorations up and with bright sunshine streaming through the living room window it doesn't even feel Christmassy.  There will be no Chief here for Christmas either. With his dad so ill in hospital (he's been there since the Summer) I told Chief to not feel in the least bit bad about going up and spending it with his dad. It maybe his dad's last and it hopefully (!) won't be mine. As Chief and I have never managed to spend a Christmas together it's getting a bit of a tradition we have our own version of Christmas in the New Year.

I wont bore you with all the details health wise. Suffice to say if you want to be seen by more than one doctor at your local surgery, try fainting in reception. Ask me how I know.  Although be warned it's so embarrassing I can't really recommend it. Thankfully I have a brother that lives in the same village as the doctors surgery who was able to walk up to the car park to drive me home.  He then took my Mum to collect a prescription for me and given what it was I'm sure it raised a few eye brows in the chemist when she collected it.  Suffice to say this week I'm signed off I will not be struggling into work.  I'm not even stressed about losing a weeks pay. Sometimes the capacity for worrying about other things fades into insignificance.

I don't have anything creative to show you at the moment and my picture of the day might make vegetarian readers feel sick.  So here is a picture of my Advent Calendar a present from my Mum. She'd wanted to get me one of the pretty old fashioned picture-in-each-window ones, but limited options to get out meant it was either this one or One Direction. I think she made the right choice in the end.  Although I'm ashamed to say I don't know who all the Disney Princess' are!

Princesses Counting Down to Christmas

Ps. I'm a bit behind with answering comments at the moment, but I will get round to it xox

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Advent 2: The First Finish of December

Last year when my friend Susan decided to run a swap for Modern Christmas Table Runners I had to decline an invite to join in because of the amount of home made Christmas presents I was making and the likelihood I would not be able to make the deadline if I got a lurgy (I always seem to before Christmas) or the snow cut me off from civilisation and the post office. But the minute the deadline passed and I hadn't signed up I really regretted it. So this year when it was the second round of the swap I decided to join in.

Then I took forever to get started and once I did I got ill and for the first time ever I'm late with the swap.  I tried to catch up with some commenting last night in the group and noticed that most of the group seem to be in the same position so I feel a bit better for not getting my runner in the post until tomorrow.

It is finished though. With a few short cuts that I'm on the whole happy with and hope my partner will be too.


I decided to use my new machine for the first time to stipple quilt it. This is about the third time I've stippled and I think possibly my worse effort. I'd only stippled on the Brother machine before, which I found a nightmare for regular sewing but a joy to use for this kind of fmq work. I think it would have helped me greatly if I'd managed to get the quilting extension table for my new machine assembled and maybe being unwell and a bit weak made it harder to manipulate the fabric?  I don't think I can really blame the machine.  

I had intended perle quilting by hand around the stars, however with time against me I'm going to leave it with stippling alone.  Can those of you with more experience than me explain why I've got these funny eyelash looking bits on the back? I assume it's something to do with tension but I had the machine set to auto tension as the manual recommended.  I didn't notice this effect when I've stippled before and not sure how to correct it for future FMQ projects.


I'm hoping these eyelashes won't be too noticeable with the pattern of the back material - which is a Basic Grey design I've forgotten the name of.

The other shortcut I took was I machined on the binding. I had sewn the binding on the front as normal and then the thought of having to hand stitch the back down just made me feel exhausted. So I zigzagged it on the back - which of course does show through on the front. But as I'd used a sketch fabric for the binding it's not that noticeable unless you get your nose right up to it. And really, rarely does my work bear that kind of scrutiny! The other thing I struggled with doing this method was the corners. I've got white dense patches where the zig zagging refused to budge on from each corner. But as it's on each of the four corners it sort of looks deliberate...sort of. The bottom line is I am actually really pleased with this table runner and would happily keep it and display it so I'm hoping these little niggles don't spoil it for my partner.

First Finish of December

I had already made a decoration to send with the table runner as per the swap instructions. So once I've wrapped this up to look all festive, both will be in the mail tomorrow.  I can then start getting excited for mine to arrive!

EPP Christmas bauble

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Advent 1: Stiffy Snowflakes

It's become a bit of a tradition on this blog for me to blog every day in the run up to Christmas - a sort of Advent Calendar of blog posts. I'm not sure how well I'll do with it this year given my iffy health of late. In fact just yesterday I was thinking of taking a blog break.  But I'm sure that's just the terrible week I've had speaking and because I've been feeling quite low at the moment.  In fact normally I'd be linking up with Fresh Sewing Day and showing what you all what I did in November. But really I can't be bothered, so I think I'll do a combined November/December post in the New Year. Assuming I get any more sewing done in December!

I had a great surprise in the mail to cheer me up today.

It must be Susan as the Angel it's certainly Not me!

A card, chocolate (Hmm how did she know one of my favourites?) and a very nice looking Christmas package from Susan.  

Inside was something I've wanted for a very long time. In fact since the run up to Christmas last year. When I completely fell in love with Susan's Stiffy Snowflakes. (And no not just because of the snicker-a-minute sounding name.)

Stiffy Snowflakes

Aren't these just beyond cool? I actually almost want to put my tree up now just so I can put them on the tree. I say almost because the thought of having to do the required housework in order to move furniture etc to get the tree up is a bit beyond me a the moment. Anyway the tree and decorations live in my brothers loft as I don't have storage space, so it will be a while longer before the tree goes up. But when it does these will be having pride of place.

I managed to get my table runner for the Modern Christmas Table Runner Swap finished this afternoon (I'll blog about that tomorrow, all being well.) It's a relief to have another tick of the list of things that are overdue. I'm usually such a goody goody that does everything by the deadline. There will be a few things heading to mail on Monday and fingers crossed the ones headed abroad do make it in a timely manner for Christmas.

Before I started sewing I gave my machine a clean.  All this lint build up is from piecing with Empress Mills Thread.  Since the last clean out I have pieced the table runner I showed you here and the Christmas Quilt I showed you here. Nothing with fleece or batting.

This is what greeted me when I took out the bobbin case and removed the metal plate.

All this lint came from the part of the machine you see above.  I cleaned around the needle area after I took this shot.  The thread I was using was cream, but it looks like a fair amount of lint shed from all the red material I've been sewing with!?


I need to repeat a similar experiment with using another thread brand.  At least it's giving me a good excuse to not put off cleaning out my machine between projects.

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