Saturday, 28 December 2013

Leaving 2013 behind and 10 Things I've learnt this year.

So how as Christmas? Did you have a good one?! I did and I hope you all did too. But now it's over it's that betwixmas time when I feel that the year is all but over, and before I start to look forward in earnest, I look back.

So what did I learn this year, creatively speaking?

1. I am not super human. OK so I never really thought I was. From November 2012 right through to November 2013 life threw all kinds of things at me and sometimes I was left wanting. I left one bee I was in when it came to it's end and regretfully left the other bee part way through. It was not an easy decision to make.  Letting people down is not a nice feeling. It's all too easy for people to say get your bee commitments sorted at the start of the month and avoid the stress when life gets hectic later in the month. But what if life is busy or your ill at the start of the month and doesn't let up from one month to the next? I tried to scale back other commitments too. Like I say, letting people down is no fun for anyone.

2. Most people were lovely if I was late or messed up commitments. To those who were not. I think it speaks more about your inadequacies rather than mine.

3. Vintage Sheets Rock! Mary has completely converted me. The first quilt I finished this year was made entirely from vintage sheets. I am already looking for ideas for my second and can't walk past a charity shop without checking to see what they have in the way of vintage bedding. I even dream I've found good sheets in charity shops!

4. HST's are the easiest thing in the world for me to stuff up. Ask me how I know. Or rather don't. I can't bear to think about it. Which is a shame because I've always wanted to make a traditional HST value quilt using left over charms and fabric entirely from stash.

5. Shaukat made me hyperventilate. I don't get into bricks and mortar fabric shops very often. I knew it would be good. I just didn't know it would be that good. I need to go back. I want to visit more bricks and mortar fabric shops.

6. Fat Quarterly Retreat was not what I expected. Not for the good stuff that happened or the not so good.

7. Sorting my WIP's during my recent declutter so they each have their own plastic bag and then putting them all in one big basket has shown me I have far more WIP's than I realised.

8. I am completely converted to Aurifil. (And probably the only person in blogland left to win one or score in a goody bag one of those sample packs.)

9. I learnt what a frixion pen is.

10. I am best not to make plans about what I will or won't make. The moment I do it doesn't go to plan. Like when I said I'd not be sewing before Christmas and then hand stitched these together. They're destined to become a cushion cover.

Just a few bits to sew. But should I go bigger or sash what I've done so far?

So here's to a fantastic 2014 - for us all! I have a milestone birthday coming up next month and I intend to drag out the celebrations all year. Doing something every month at least. I hope to fit some sewing in amongst the fun too. 

Friday, 20 December 2013

Advent: Oopsy

The title of this blog post refers to my not realising that I hadn't done an advent post for five days! Oopsy. I had intended at least doing three day round ups. There has been much going on around here, although no sewing. It seems there are lots of people to catch up with and places to go in the run up to Christmas.

Chief came down on Wednesday night because we will not be spending Christmas together and we wanted to sneak in one last visit before the big day. The weather was horrendous for travelling and he picked up a take away on his way in.

Take away time

I'm showing you the take away because you'll see a rare sight. My dining room table devoid of sewing stuff. You can just spot the machine covered up in the back ground. I doubt I'll sew this side of Christmas. 

Chief stayed over and we went to Otmoor and did a lot of walking and taking pictures. I haven't sorted mine yet. I had borrowed a 'big' lens of Chief, which whilst it wasn't as bad to carry as I thought, I did have Chief to carry my camera bag and I need to work on lifting it up to take pictures without wobbling it too much.

Fieldfare feeding on berries

I did like this picture I took at the top of our road of a fieldfare enjoying the berries. 

I'm off out gadding tonight. A meal out with a friend who was recently 40 so we are having a joint Christmas/Birthday get together. Hope you all have great weekends and if I don't sneak back with a post before Christmas. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Advent 13, 14 &15: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It's up! I could tell you I have not been blogging for the last two days because it's taken that long to put the tree up. The reality is I didn't have anything interesting to say. Or at least those things that were interesting were not photographed, so not interestingly  blogable.

Deoorating the Tree 2013

I can't take credit for this years tree as my niece did it. I just sat on the floor unwrapping decorations that fitted in with this years scheme. We were going for a modern silver/purple/white combo with retro touches. Yep, a complete mash up.  There are just some decorations I can't bear not to put on the tree.

Decorating the Tree 2013

I put a Christmas jumper on for the event. I suspect this is the last year we'll put up a big tree. A small house and a fat tree mean furniture has to be moved and stuff reorganised. It is feeling a lot more like Christmas around here. I have a very busy week coming up and have had to pretty much accept I will not be sewing again this side of Christmas. Maybe not this side of the New Year. Which is kind of a shame because I had intended making some new Christmas place mats. It feels all of this year I've been behind on what I wanted to be doing sewing wise. I hope I find my sewing groove properly in 2014.  I've not found sewing so enjoyable with all this stop-start business.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Advent 12: Are you a no-reply blogger?

Do you often comment on my blog and never get a reply?  There is a reason. Your settings mean you're a no reply blogger. This means that when I get an email notification of your comment and go to hit 'reply' that reply is going nowhere rather than back to you.

simply square button

Chances are you leave comments and wonder why on earth I never respond or maybe you may prefer it that way. But it makes me sad I can't answer questions direct and maybe leaving you feeling...well a little unheard and unloved. In fact I sometimes am so keen to answer I hit the reply button and respond anyway and it's only at some point in the future I twig that my email is probably just going out in to the great ether.  

So if you are regularly commenting on blogs and wondering why people never respond to you, take a moment to go this blog and find out more about no-reply blogging.

And thank you to everyone who does take the time to comment, offer advice or just stop by to say "hi". Even when life is really hectic and I don't get to answer every single comment, I certainly read them all and appreciate them. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Advent 11: An unexpected Thank You

The other week I had an unexpected afternoon spent photographing the children of a colleague. They'd offered to pay me. But I am not a professional photographer and said I would do it as a favour. After all I was getting to practise my photography skills in an area I'd not normally have chance to.

I have to say I had a nerve racking time after I'd handed the digital files over, as the colleague who asked me was pretty much out of the office for the rest of the week. I was lucky if I got to say 'Hi and Bye' as we passed in the office.

Yesterday he mentioned he had something in the car for me that he mustn't forget to bring in. He then took the car into the garage where it spent a good chunk of the day getting repaired. Today, he brought in this bag.

I'm glad the orchid survived the car going to the garage!

His wife had put together a little goody bag as a thank you for taking the pictures. Which according to the thank you card they liked. (Phew!)

An Orchid, Chocolates and Body Lotion

What a lovely surprise on a grey miserable foggy day! 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Advent 10: Gone Knitting

Some dedicated readers may remember this post from the spring when I had a complete nightmare knitting with some yarn I'd bought from Ebay. I had purchased two balls of this type of wool and came across the other when I was doing my sewing room declutter. After my experience with twisting yarn earlier in the year I had wondered if I'd ever bother trying to knit with that brand of yarn again. However, I decided to give it a go. In less that two hours I'd knitted a scarf and no breaking off before the end of the ball. The only difference I can think of with how I approached this, was last time I remembered the paper band breaking around the ball quite soon after I'd started. I thought at the time, well that's OK it'll save me keep pulling lengths free from the ball. However, as this yarn is prone to twisting it's much better to keep the band around the ball come-what-may. So as it starts to twist you can hold up your knitting and let it swing around and untwist. When the band got far too big for the ever decreasing ball, I taped the band to make it smaller so it was once again a snug fit. I can't believe how much easier this was compared to last time!

I'm only showing you a sneaky peek as the light is poor hence the not very good colour and it's a present.

Look what I made

It feels satisfying to have at least made something as I've snuggled on the sofa. 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Advent 9: What happened to Advent 7 & 8 you may ask.

I woke up on Saturday am with a banging headache and feeling I'd been smacked in the face. Strangely the other side of the face that had caused me to rush of to the dentists a few days before in case I was about to get a tooth related nasty. I've been feeling really ill after I've eaten too. I was wiped out for Saturday so had nothing to report or blog about and the laptop didn't even get switched on. Chief and I agreed he shouldn't come down Saturday night as perhaps we both needed a good night sleep. He did come down the next morning though and surprised Mum with an early Christmas present. Thursday in the gales our bird feeding station crashed over snapping in two. It was obviously corroded and the wind was just to strong for it. The real pain was just the week before we'd bought three new bird feeders and when the pole crashed over two of them smashed.

It broke yesterday in the gales

Little did Mum know as she was wondering if Bro could fix it or if I'd take her to buy a new one, was the week before Chief had bought Mum not only a new pole, but some feeding stuff to go with it, as her Christmas present. 

He suggested he brought it down early before she got the broken one replaced some how herself.

An Early Christmas Present for Mum

She was perplexed as to why she was opening her Christmas present on Sunday.

An Early Christmas Present for Mum

She was surprised and pleased. Just a bit confused when Chief suggested we 'made' a pole with the insides of wrapping paper. 

An Early Christmas Present for Mum

Little did she know that the three pack of wrapping paper had pole sections in side them!

The pole is up in the garden and the birds are loving it. I hope to get a picture in decent light soon.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Advent 6: Black Friday Purchases

I was pretty restrained over the whole Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday discount offer shindig. I looked at loads of places and came back to where I was originally going to shop from and only bought from there. I definitely went down the essential rather than: Oh pretty lets just buy it and put it in a drawer for a while, route.

I got all these lovelies from Cindy over at Fluffy Sheep Quilting. I've never known Cindy to be beaten on her Aurifil prices. I've never tried variegated Aurifil before. I thought it might be good for Chiefs quilt - if I ever get it made. I had to guess the colour would be OK from viewing on a computer screen as I don't own a shade card.

It's arrived black friday purchases from @fluffysheepquilting thank you 

The only other black Friday discounted purchase I made was the Noodlehead divided basket. I'd seen this around, but not really followed it up to see if it was a purchased pattern, tutorial or none of the above. Seeing Sheila's fab make for Sarah's baby shower made me see the potential of these baskets for all manner of gift and storage situations. I just now have to find the time to make one!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Advent 5: Velveteen Infinity Scarf

This afternoon has ended up different to how I expected. (It is beginning to be that kind of week.) I had had a mouth related niggle for the past few days and I was concerned I was going to develop a full on tooth ache just as my dental practice is shut for the weekend. So I managed to get seen this afternoon. An X-ray was taken and advice given but it seems my gum is irritated in that area and that's what's causing the issues. It may have cost me a price of a nice bundle of fabric from somewhere. But it's money well spent for peace of mind and hopefully the easing of symptoms. It has meant though I haven't been able to get a decent picture of the velveteen and voile scarf I finished yesterday.

It would be a bit of an exaggeration to say the office where I work is the coldest on the planet. But I have rarely been warm in there during the last few winters unless I have quite a few layers on and a cosy scarf around my neck. Out of all the scarves I have nine times out of ten I reach for one of the flannel and voile infinity scarves I made a couple of years ago.

Back in the summer when Pink Castle had some kind of deal on, I stocked up on a few fabric bits including two half yard cuts of velveteen.


When it arrived I thought the pink would get a lot of wear in an infinity scarf. I don't tend to wear a lot of pink but I liked the way the pale pink contrasted with the other colours in the print. However, I looked at the brown and couldn't see when I'd use it. I didn't think the colours would suit me and as I'd made so many people infinity flannel scarves in the past I wasn't sure who'd appreciate a velveteen version. I added both pieces of Velveteen to my stash and started looking out for some voile to go with the pink velveteen.

Who knew that finding voile would be so difficult. I trawled the UK shops and in the end I bought this voile from Pink Castle fabrics. I can't remember who makes this voile; it's not Anna Maria Horner. 

The blue fabric on top is voile.

When it arrived I didn't like it. I don't like the texture/hand of the fabric. I guess AMH has spoiled us with her buttery soft voile, which reminds me of Liberty Tana Lawn.  I added this voile to my stash thinking that was another mistake purchase.

Fast forward to last week and a chance comment on Instagram. I had velveteen and no voile and Mary had no velveteen and a stash of voile and suggested a swap. I thought I'd best show her a snap of the velveteen first in case she didn't like it! Luckily she did and she had a great selection of voile for me to choose from.

Due to my sewing clear out it's taken me a few days to get sewing, but I have. Thanks to the swap with Mary I now have a lovely snuggly velveteen scarf to add to my winter wardrobe.

Ignore my blotchy chin. I finished my velveteen and voile scarf
Excuse last nights IG picture the light is appalling now so I won't be able to better it.

Now I wonder if I can find anyone to swap me something for that blue voile?!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Advent 4: The Jobs that Must be Done

Sorting out Christmas cards.  Is it bad I'm leaving some until the last minute in case people die?

I am doing chores today. Christmas related ones. Like:

  • Trying to find the Christmas labels because I've been wrapping presents, as they arrived and assumed I'd remember what they were and who they were for, only now I'm not so sure.
  • Writing the rest of the Christmas cards. Started ages ago and got bored. Mum kindly addressed a few envelopes for me while I was at work today, but says I do have to finish writing the rest of the actual cards.
  • Thinking really hard what to buy some people because I still just don't know.
  • Getting ready for post all the various parcels type thingies I need to drop off at the PO
And all the while I'm doing it I'm making a dent in these...

They were meant for Christmas.  I just can't wait that long

...which were meant for Christmas.

I'm trying not to get too freaked out by how close Christmas is and how much I still have to do.

Are you prepared or just about to implode at the thought of all you have to do?

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Advent 3: Forever Winning?

Last week I won not one, but two prizes. One from the lovely Reene (more about that another time - thanks again Reene!) and the other from Alison over at Silicon Bullet Forever.  A while back I'd entered a give away on Facebook to win some Aloe Lips by Forever Living.  I'm always up for trying a product that will keep my lips soft and conditioned. I used to be someone who wore lipstick no matter what.  Then I started noticing that some lipsticks made my lips so dry and sore it felt like someone had taken a sander to them and rubbed off a good layer of skin.  It was horrible and I can't blame cheap lipsticks because it seemed any lipstick: cheap or pricey could cause me issues. Most lip salve has had a similar effect, so I'm forever on the look out for one that does what I want it to: condition my lips and stop them being dry, painful or sore.


 Alison also told me it's not just good for lips. Aloe lips can be used on cuts, bites, burns and scratches. She also mentioned some of her customers had told her it was good for!  I joked I'd definitely be using it on my lips and not piles! (I don't have piles!) When my winnings arrived Alison suggested I proved it was for use on my lips. (She was probably really grateful I wasn't going to use it on piles and provide photographic evidence!)  So I decided to try some selfies with my mobile. But apart from accidentally taking an arty shot of a lamp, I didn't do very well. I handed the phone over to my mum (not renown for her phone use, let alone her photography skills.) and the best she could do was this action shot of me applying the Aloe Lips.

When selfies failed I put mum in charge.  My forever living prize in use

I've been using the product all week. I don't have to keep replying it. It has a lovely texture, smell and taste and this will now be my go to lip salve product.

To find out more about Forever Living why not pop over to the Silicon Bullet Forever Facebook Page? There are details of all the Forever Living Products as well as Aloe Lips.

Ps. This is not a sponsored blog post. I won and thought I'd tell you all about my winnings!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Advent 2: Not the afternoon I was expecting.

I was sat at work this morning when a colleague asked me if I could do him a favour. Or rather could me and my camera do him a favour. I did one of those raised eye brow things and said: "Ok but I'm not going up on any ladders or onto roofs." (Last time he wanted my photography skills he wanted me on a roof taking pictures of solar panels. I'd literally only got the camera that week and DSLR's were new territory to me.)

What he wanted was some pictures of his gorgeous girls (all 5 and under) with the plan of doing photographic Christmas presents for various family members.  It seemed like a good opportunity to practise my camera skills. He then arranged for me to visit this afternoon after work.

I got home from work and had a little stress. What do I know about photographing people let alone children?! The light is appalling this time of year. I don't own an external flash yet. Flash would probably scare small children anyway. OH. EMM. GEEE. what had I agreed to?

There were panic texts to Chief who said, "practise on your mother". Which I did. On the agreement I didn't post her pictures on the internet. They were pretty crap. I texted Chief back with my issue and he gave me some camera settings to try. "You'll have to go to full manual though", he said casually.

So I set off without really much time to think about it  much further.

Luckily all the girls knew me a bit at least. The eldest was happy being the model. The middle one up for it too. The youngest one was just not that interested. Oh the pressure!

I'm not going to show pictures of other peoples children here; but on the whole, all things considered, I'm ok with the results. I have critiqued them a lot. And know what I'd do differently another time...should anyone ask.  I keep telling myself that this is all totally new to me and really I shouldn't be so fussy.

Tomorrow I'll find out what the parents think. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Advent 1: Celebrating Bean

I was one of the fortunate ladies that got to attend a virtual baby shower for Sarah last night. It was the brainchild of organiser Rhonda.  There has been a private flickr group so Sarah couldn't see what we were plotting, planning and making for her and we've been sending off shower gifts for her to open on the night for several weeks now. All this secrecy has meant I couldn't show you what I made until now.

Actually I really racked my brain what to make once I realised that whilst she might not mind having 20+ baby quilts, maybe I should make something different. But what?! I can't knit so no cute baby knitting and my dressmaking is not up to scratch. In the end I decided to have a go at making a baby changing mat. I looked online for tutorials; the only ones I could find just reinforced what I had in my mind to do, so I did it my way.

baby changing mat

This is the business side. It's a new hand towel with the edge and hems trimmed off. I wanted to make something a decent size as babies can (soon) be longer than expected. I had half a yard of the birdie fabric, which I had to join for the backing and the overlap. It matched the grey towel so well I just had to use it.

baby changing mat
Excuse the scrap of towel photo bombing the picture.

I didn't quilt through the layers because between the front and backing is a layer of nylon ripstop fabric, that I'm hoping will make the mat baby bean-pee proof. The whole mat can easily be slung in the washing machine and also rolls (or folds) up, so it could be used on the go.

baby changing mat

As for the party - well that was fun!  At one point it looked like it might not work out as poor Sarah had no broadband. Thankfully she managed to phone into the party - although this meant we didn't get to see her. It was sad that there was only space for six webcams because it would have been nice to see the senders reactions as Sarah opened their gifts. Luckily we could either hear or read what people were saying. It was amazing it all worked so well given the attendees were spread all over the world.

I was quite pleased to be able to put my webcam off - no make up and covered in thread from decluttering!

I think we'll do this again, only a smaller scale so we can easily talk and see each other. What a great way of meeting up with quilty friends who are spread all over.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Sharing my Shame

I am going to try my advent blogging thing again. You know where I blog every day up until Christmas starting tomorrow, so I thought I'd flex my blogging muscles and show you what I've been doing since yesterday afternoon and er...share my shame.

Todays mission. @ochil_lynz  I told you it was baaaaad

This was the photo I took this morning of the area I could use for cutting if it wasn't full of crap! The decluttering started yesterday after work as I started to turn out the chest of drawers that holds my fabric and other sewing bits and bobs.  I thought I'd find out some fabric for my niece to practise on now that she's taken up sewing and is trying to improve her sewing machine skills. She had come around one afternoon after school but being full of cold it was really a 'how a sewing machine works' and health and safely lesson. (Don't try watching the TV and sewing kind of thing.)

I even put Mum to work on sorting charm squares from swaps, left over from projects or just gifts from kind sewing friends.  By the end of the afternoon they were bagged up with my other charm packs. I'm not sure what criteria half of them were sorted by. But at least they are all in one place now. Not shoved in various drawers.

I've got mum sorting charms on the sofa

This is what the top picture looks like after a bit of work. I went through the two drawer units on the bench and the wicker hamper.  I can now see properly some of the lovely goodies I've had in swaps and as gifts over the years. 

Definite improvement.  I could cut if I wanted to!
Excuse the bad Instagram pics. Why is this one kind of photography I can't do even half 
decently? People have been following my clean up on IG all day!

It's amazing what I've found whilst sorting out. I didn't think I had more than a couple of packs of machine needles (although I was sure I had bought several packs at various times.) I found assorted unopened packs all over. They are now in a little drawer of their own. I've found I do have more machine bobbins than I thought - ditto thread. I found some jewellery I thought I'd lost for good. (In the container I thought it was in!)

Seeing as I've saved every plastic press seal bag sent to me (!) I've put all my WIP's in labelled plastic bags in a wicker basket. It's far better than having piles of projects waiting to be finished or in some cases started!

The living room still has unsorted patterns and fabric strewn across it. There are random items on the dining room table. But I see a time when I can sew in the dining room and eat in the dining room and not only will I know what I have...but I may actually really start to enjoy sewing again.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Marvellous Mail and a return of the Mojo?

When my mojo or inclination to sew and blog took a huge nose dive I wasn't even remotely interested in purchasing fabric. I know. Total shock horror. But Instagram has not only kick started my wanting to buy fabric it's started to kick start me into wanting to make. Sometimes though it comes down to finding the time and energy to accommodate what I want to do against all the other things I have to do.  I'm sure you all know that feeling.

My first fabric purchase was these beauties from Mary. Over on IG she was doing a bit of market research into whether buyers would prefer build a bundle, colour bundles or assorted bundles.  Of course I took the research a little too literally and decided I couldn't live without these ones and so built my own bundle. Mainly because even though I've found a few sheets in charity shops they've tended towards the more subtle colours. The vintage sheet quilt I made earlier in the year is already a favourite. I can't explain why it is, it just is. Mum has also announced that quilts are warmer than duvets and of course that means she needs more than one bed sized one doesn't it? I'd like to make her a vintage sheet quilt. (But I'm selfish and want to make another one for me too.)

Great mail day. Thanks @memmens

I think I'll put these by until I get more - maybe via the UK Vintage sheet swap that I hope will get off the ground in the New Year.

Second purchase of the fabric kind was some Denyse Schmidt and other lovelies that fell into my basket over at Fabric Rehab. I wanted some fabrics that were colours I don't have many of and also had a vintagey feel. When I ordered them I confess I was thinking of my honeycomb EPP project. But now they've arrived I'm thinking I should jump on the scrappy trip along bandwagon. Albeit about a year later than everyone else...


I dunno how this scrap bag fell into my virtual basket - honest.

It's not all been about fabric though. I discovered Kate Broughton via pinterest. I went straight to her Etsy shop and bought these birdie and Christmas nail stickers. There may have been another purchase I can't show you, but I'm sure you want hold that against me. Service was speedier than the speediest thing you can think of and the packaging lovely. You can see from the postcard below some of the other lovelies Kate sells. Perfect stocking fillers I think.


Now I need to go make some lists and get plotting. Also dig out a sewing machine for a sewing session with my niece tomorrow who apparently announced that she needed a sewing machine for Christmas! 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Honey Honey

It's that time of year when most of the sewing I am doing I can't share with you for fear of tipping people off to presents. I have however started a new project. It's an EPP project and I just got the mind to do it last night whilst browsing on Instagram and deciding I actually needed to buy some fabric.

I decided it would be good to have a project to do in front of the TV when I'm not up to doing much else and at least it might wean me off my addiction to Pet Rescue Saga on facebook. (Damn that level 145 where I can rescue the pets, but not get enough points to pass the level!)

After cutting myself 75 1.5" honeycomb papers I started getting out scraps and fat quarters that have the sort of feel I'm after.

Scraps ready for basting

I'm wanting something that has a vintage feel to it. Something that might be a family heirloom lovingly stitched together by some previous generation and yet at the same time being completely now too.

Basting in front of tv

It's quite satisfying basting on the sofa with the tv on in the back ground. I'm thinking I'd do a big central panel then some kind of fabric border.  The quilting is my least favourite part of the quilting process. So if this should happen to get bed sized I may just send it out to have it quilted. But that's a way off yet. I'm going to need a lot more than 75 papers for that!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Passing through

It's been a while so I thought I'd just pop in with an update post. I haven't even missed blogging and I've cut down a lot on blog reading too. (In fact I'm feeling more out of the loop than ever!) Of course it might be that I finally upgraded my phone and managed to get on instagram. For a total photo junkie like me it feeds me with a quick fix to take and of course view photos. Totally. Addicted. I tell you everything seems to be an instagram photo opportunity.

Old and New
The phone cosy I won from Sarah@FairyFaceDesigns is perfect for my new phone and even
Chief commented on how nice my case was!

Sewing still remains minimal. I've been making Buttercup bags though. This first one was filled with a few treats for Tanya who had a special milestone birthday. 

Finished and about to be wrapped ready for posting tomorrow.

The second is destined to be a prize for something coming up later in the month. I wasn't happy with the interfacing I used so I am hoping to get another bag made so there is a choice.

I got some thin iron on interfacing from seamstar but it feels papery and I think as well as rustling it's distorted the bag.

Chief and I had a night away last weekend. He'd come down on the Friday night and then as we couldn't check in until 3pm we went to explore a local reservoir where I'd heard you can often see a lot of diverse birds. The weather was pretty rubbish which meant it was difficult to get decent pictures of anything. We will go back though. We also spotted quite a few nice birds: Grey wagtail, kingfisher, red necked grebe and little grebe being the most notable.

Farmoor Reservoir
They do a lot of sailing on the reservoir. You can see in the 
background how murky it was.

Farmoor Reservoir

On the way home we decided to stop at the first pub we passed and after accidentally driving past one we chanced upon The Greyhound at Besselsleigh. We had the most fantastic lunch and have already decided we need to go back there. 

By the time we'd reached home to pick up our bags it was pretty much check in time. Despite getting the last room available at the hotel we were pleased to find we'd had a room upgrade. Chief had a problem with his ear and his doctor told him no swimming, sauna or steam room. So I went to the spa by myself for a bit.  We were going to stay in and order room service until we realised that if the hotel was really full, servicing the rooms with meals might not be a priority and it was quite a walk to our room and lukewarm food didn't appeal. So we headed off to Thame and ended up in the restaurant Chief and I first had a meal together: The Drunken Chef. It's a Chinese place that does lovely food. We ordered a set menu and really there was too much food and we left as much as we ate. 

Part of our feast at The Drunken Chef
This lot was the final of three courses!
That's a rare bit of Chief in the back ground.

At the Drunken Chef
The first picture Chief ever took of me was on his phone in 
the Drunken Chef, so he did another one to update it. This 
one was taken on my phone, so I can compare phone picture 

I will stop by intermittently to blog. Those of you on instagram can follow me there. I'm not sure how I tell you to find me. I'm isisjem over there too.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Just to Say

You may have noticed that my attempt at Blogtoberfest failed miserably around the middle of the month when I went AWOL? I had a couple of days of intense illness and wasn't online and then a lot more days of strange symptoms and generally not feeling well. And during the whole process I seem to have completely lost my blogging mojo. It must be off playing with my sewing mojo. If I'm honest the whole blogging community I've felt part of seems to have changed over the last 6 months or so. I'm sure things like Flickr changing, the popularity of Instagram and peoples lives changing have all had an impact on things. At times I've felt I was blogging for the sake of it.  This year has been particularly hard and stressful and I think I just need to take a big of a time out from my blog to regroup and see where I go from here. 

Last night was the village trivia quiz. The team I was on came second, losing by just three points. We actually got 10/10 on a couple of rounds. (Who knew I'd be able to answer 10 questions by myself on TV theme tunes?!)

Before the quiz my friend Sal came round. We hadn't caught up in ages. This year seems to have sucked so much time out of life. Due to another move she'd had to have a sort out of more of her possessions and asked me if I wanted the following sewing/craft books.  At least whilst I'm not blogging I'll have plenty to inspire me. 

  Crafty reads

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Scraping the bottom of the barrel.

One day I might have some sewing to show you. Today is not that day. If it wasn't for Blogtoberfest I'd probably not even be posting today.  Sometimes it really feels like I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel to share with you.

Today in the post I got a new case with the intention of storing my camera lenses in it. Chief had one when he came down last week and even though he got his for transporting his kit about, I decided it would be useful for me to keep all my kit up together. One day I'll knock a random lens off of a table when I'm quilting and regret I hadn't found it a proper home.

When I took the case out of the box I had a slight: Oh Poop! moment when I thought it might actually be too small for my kit.

About to start

But once I got to pick and plucking at the pick and pluck foam, I discovered that it actually does fit all my kit.

Happy days!

Monday, 21 October 2013

A special present

Chief spent a good chunk of last month in Cyprus with work. Early on into the trip he told me he'd got me a special present. He'd picked it up near the Akrotiri salt lake, where he went to take pictures of the birds that hang out there.  Even though it didn't cost a penny, I was so excited when he told me about it. He put it away somewhere safe and then promptly forgot where that was! (this is something Chief does quite often which is why I also got one of last years Christmas presents this trip too.)

Walking back towards the car from Shotover I happened to ask him if he'd found it. He said, no and he was upset that he'd managed to lose it. Then he said, even though he'd looked everywhere, he hadn't looked in his wallet. So stood in the middle of a field he got out his wallet and proceeded to check it and voila! He found the feather. Not just any feather. A flamingo feather.

Special present.

Maybe I'm just easily pleased. I just do like a present that's thought out with the recipient in mind. It's not about the cost it's about the good thought behind it. 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

'Shroom Season

As is usual when Chief and I get together we spent a lot of time out in the countryside over the last few days. Whilst the trees around here are only just starting to turn, there is evidence that we're well and truly into Autumn with all the berries and fruits around. One of the places we visited on Thursday was Shotover Country Park. It's a large public area between Wheatley and Headington in Oxfordshire.


We were just wandering around wondering if we'd see any Jays (we did but they were too elusive to photograph!) and I'd swapped my lens over to take some landscapey shots like the one above, when I said to Chief: "It's fungus/mushroom time of year. We may not see any birds, but maybe we'll see some fun fungus to photograph," when Chief said: "Ummm you're going to want to put your macro lens on and come and see what I've found." 

Fly Agaric (or fairy toadstools to you and me!) every where! 

Are there fairies in the forest?



Neither of us are great fungus experts. Although we found plenty of different kinds to photograph. Including one that looked like a bottom. 



The next day we headed off to Bernwood Forest and whilst Chief was still hoping to photograph a Jay and we did hear and see them, like Shotover the day before, they were too elusive.  I'd just commented on how there was not much fungus like at Shotover, when I spotted some and then lots. 






I am not that steady handed with my macro lens and especially in poor light levels. Unlike Chief I was not prepared to lie in the mud as I had the expensive outdoor coat on he bought me for my birthday and I really didn't want to get it all muddy and snagged. But I was happy with the shots I did get. 

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