Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Talking About Wall Hangings

A little while ago I mentioned that my friend Kirsten approached me about running the Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap this year as things went a little topsy turvy in our house and I didn't have the time or energy to set the swap up when it needed doing. In fact, right now, as I laze about an indoor swimming pool Kirsten is busy sorting out partners for those who signed up. It is going to be a small group this year, but a good one. As I am not organising it this time I will not have a say in who I make for, nor will I know who is making for me.

I got an amazing two sided tablerunner from Sarah last year. So this year I have specified that I would prefer a wall hanging. We only have one table and no other appropriate surfaces to put another runner on. Maybe one day, when I am in my dream house with my dream side tables, my dream formal dining room, and all that other dream stuff, I will be requiring more tablerunners, but for now the one I have will do admirably. 

So here is the inspiration mosaic that I provided for my mystery maker. I think it gets across my love of bright, modern, quirky, hand stitched, perfection. (Joking about the perfection thing. I never ask for what I cannot do myself.)



1. Snow Gnome Pillow, 2. Sneak peak of my quilting..., 3. Houses, 4. tablerunner, 5. Modern Christmas Table Runner Finished!, 6. Savvy seasons done!, 7. WIP -, 8. DSCN1800, 9. well... partner...

With many thanks to Kirsten I shall return to my lazing about the pool while she picks someone she thinks can work with these ideas. Of course, my partner could come up with something completely different. I am entirely open to ideas.

Susan

Monday, 29 October 2012

I May Be Quiet...

... for a little while. Not replying to comments, reading blogs, etc. Because I will be hanging out here.



It was been an interesting start to the school year here in our household. This down time is going to be appreciated. Hope you all have a great half term too (if indeed there is such a thing going on where you are).

Susan

Sunday, 28 October 2012

EPP Obsessed

Yesterday's experiment with Starflower epp templates is not the only project I have decided to get on the go. I saw some grid paper made of half hexies and the pattern just jumped out at me. So I thought, why not. Why not have two epp projects on the go at the same time.

Out came the Go! Baby and I cut the 1.5" hexies papers. Yes, I use my Go! for paper templates more than I use it for fabric cutting it seems. But it is still very useful. After cutting a lot of hexies I cut them all in half. This was quick and easy template cutting. I love it.

I went into my stash and pulled out a charm pack of Pips, a charm pack of A Walk in the Woods and then got the scraps leftover from my Sew Stitchy quilt. This quilt will be a homage to Aneela, inspired by Emily and her wonderful quilt. I am missing a line - Little Apples - so we shall see how I go and if I think this will be enough or if I need to beg, borrow or steal a charm pack of that too. I reckon I can get three half hexies from each charm.


I now have everything I need (I think) to keep my fingers busy for a few days. I also have some good books, and my girls. Time to relax!


Susan

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Making Templates

I decided that I wanted some more English Paper Piecing projects. Because I just might be away from the computer and sewing machine, and spending time with my girls over half term. I had a think about patterns I like and thought it was time to give epp starflowers a go.

Jewel Star Pillow Progress
Inspiration taken from Blue Ridge Girl's Flickr photostream.


Not an uncommon pattern, and a pretty one. Only could I find printable templates for free online? Could I heck. And I wanted them now, not next week if I ordered some.

So, thought I, I'll just make them. I already had hexie papers I cut with the Go! Baby so I started with the 1" hexies as my centre. If the hexies were 1" then the diamonds needed to be 2". Fairly simple maths. The problem lay in my ability to consistently measure 2" on my paper. You would think a child could do it so therefore so could I, but no. I had lines all over the place. I was not impressed with myself.

But eventually I got there. I had a little pile of diamonds cut. I took some of them and marked off 1" on one point and chopped that off. And there I had it - the necessary paper templates to  make starflowers. I am ever so chuffed with myself. Just wish I didn't have so many brain farts getting to the end of the task.


Now, I have to go pick some fabrics. That takes me even longer than making paper templates.

Susan

Friday, 26 October 2012

Revisiting Wonky Stars

Having made my wonky star quilt about a year and a half ago, I haven't really revisited these lovely blocks since. But Emily was Miss October in the Modern Stitching Bee and she chose two wonky star blocks.

I made the blocks yesterday, which pleases me as it gets me back on track for almost being on schedule with my bee blocks. It took me ages to make these blocks though. Not because they were difficult. They were a joy to make. Only my brain wasn't in full functioning mode.

You see, I didn't much sleep the night before. I was restless and finally decided to come downstairs and have a little read and try to get to sleep again after that. It was all going well. I had my read, felt suitably sleepy and set my book aside in favour of slumber. Only as I was about to drift off in the dark of the sitting room, I heard a sound.

Flipping gerbils, thought I, I will have to move the cage. But as I lay there it occurred to me that the cages were in the dining room. It really irritated me that they could be so noisy that it was going to affect my ability to go back to sleep.

I turned on the light, registered the thought that indeed there were no gerbil cages in the room. And the sound came loud and clear again. WTF! It was in the sitting room! And it was a distinct gerbil sound! (I've looked it up to get you the proper description of the sound - "When alarmed or excited, gerbils will make a rhythmic thumping sound with their hind feet.")

I went round to the cages to ascertain just who the escapee was and discovered that one of my children had left the door open in Tips' cage. Oh yippee! I suppose it could have been worse as the other cage would have meant I had two gerbils to round up instead of one.

So there I was, shaking a little food bowl and calling to Tips like some demented fool at 3:30am. It took me a while to get hold of that little bugger. I was very wide awake after that. And I kept hearing Rhonda telling me to just hit it with a frying pan. (Don't ask!)

That, my friends, was why I was so tired making these blocks. Considering the above, I think they came out quite well.


Susan

Blogger's Quilt Festival

The Blogger's Quilt Festival snuck up on my this time round. So I had a look at what quilts have been finished in the past six months. (Not many!) And decided which one I wanted to enter into this great online event run by Amy over at Amy's Creative Side. It is fabulous to look at the hundreds of quilts linked up and see the inspiration available.

After a short while pondering, I decided to put my Sew Stitchy quilt into the festival. I chose this one for several reasons. (a) I love the colours. (b) It was to my own design. (c) I was so happy with the way I decided to quilt it. And finally, (d) some quilts just make us smile when we finish them and this, for me, was one of them.


The quilt was made up of simple framed squares. All the solids were pre-coordinated solids that came with the line. I supplemented the grey with additional Kona Ash. I used the panel Aneela designed for the back, with some more Kona Ash.


The most fun about this quilt was picking up on the sewing and hexie theme in the fabric design and deciding to use some grey perle cotton to hand quilt it. I used random groupings of hexies, rather than a uniform quilting design. Each hexie measures 1.5".


Blogger's Quilt Festival Stats
Finished Quilt Size - 31" x 41"
Machine pieced, hand quilted.
Quilted by myself - Susan Standen
Best category - Baby Quilt; Hand Quilted Quilt

It was a pleasure to piece this baby quilt, and even more fun to quilt it. If you have stopped by from the quilt festival then I hope you enjoyed your visit. If you haven't checked out the quilt festival yet, then please do so. There are some amazing quilts to be found there.


Amy's Creative Side

Susan

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Experiment Completed

I have happily turned my Wonky Dresden into yet another a tote bag. There was a preplanned destination for this so my experimental block actually had a purpose right from the beginning, unless it hadn't worked out in which case I would have omitted to tell you that fact.

I finished hand quilting the block. Just went with the flow, where the needle took me. It is easy to stitch a block like this because you don't have to worry about what the stitches look like on the back at all because they are hidden in the innards of the bag.


And then it was quick work to trim the block and make the tote. I machine quilted the back panel, practising deliberate wonkiness again. It is hard to overcome my urge to sew a straight line! I must say that this tote pattern is super easy. If you are looking for some quick items to make for Christmas then I would recommend this one to you.


That's another gift made and me with a new technique for making wonky dresdens. I would call this experiment a success.

Susan

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Mine, All Mine!

I have said it before, so I am repeating myself, but when you are a swap mama you focus on making sure that everyone is participating in the swap correctly and happily. You tend to lose track of the fact that someone in that group is making for you.

I didn't have to think about this much as Mouthy Stitches winds up to its final postal dates, because my tote has already arrived - and it is a fabulous! Made by my very own bloggy friend, no other than Charlotte, who can be found blogging (and perving) away at Displacement Activity. She is ultra talented and super funny.

I could have taken a photo of the beautiful wrapping and all that, but needless to say I had ripped it off before I thought of that. I have the mentality of a three year old at Christmas sometimes! But who wants to look at a pile of ripped up tissue paper when they can look at this instead?


Does Charlotte know me or what?! Rainbow colours, text fabric, hand stitching and she even pandered to my camper van fetish. But Charlotte and I agreed that we wouldn't mention the chocolate in case Hadley came and confiscated it - and besides it wasn't a swap extra, it was a thank you for being a swap mama and my friend gift. Honest! Charlotte said so.

So a huge thank you to Charlotte for hitting the nail right on the head for my likes. I appreciate all the work you put into this hugely.

On the subject of swaps, some of you might remember that I ran the Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap last year about this time. This year I decided that life had thrown too much at me to do round two, but the lovely Kirsten - Gemini Stitches - has offered to step in as surrogate mama and run it instead as she said she enjoyed it so much last year. Because some of the participants will have received a tablerunner last year, this year everyone can specify if they would prefer a tablerunner or a wall hanging.

If you are interested then there is a sign up thread here. Kirsten is looking for a quick turnaround so sign ups close on the 29th of October and partners will be assigned by the 31st. Postal dates are between the 26th and the 30th of November. Interested? Then go put your name down. I have. I can't run a swap right now, but it would seem very strange to not participate in my own group. Here's what I made for my secret partner last year.


Susan

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

No Such Thing As Too Many Pins

I do a lot of my sewing breaking 'the rules' and I certainly avoid pinning when I think I can get away with it. But today was not one of those occasions. I pinned for England. And then I went cross-eyed sewing as close to the edge of the wonky dresden as I could.


I decided to hand quilt this little project and got my hera marker out to try and mark a pattern. It was a dismal effort. Marking curves, without a template or any guide, is nigh on impossible. I decided to stitch it the way I usually stitch things. Just eyeball it and hope for the best.


If you are making up something as you go along it is probably a good thing not to have a grand plan for it. It takes the pressure off. But so far I am liking the way it is looking.

Susan

Monday, 22 October 2012

I Had an Idea

I have been mulling something over in my brain lately, an idea. Today I rewarded myself for hanging onto my sanity and for services rendered to mothering - and let myself try my idea out.

You see, I have kind of had a hankering after doing a chubby dresden as Lynne does them. Only I started thinking what ifs. What if the pieces were not all the same width? What if the centre was not in the centre?

So I got those handy dandy kitchen tools - a plate and some freezer paper - and experimented.


I drew a circle on the freezer paper, and then a smaller circle (with the invisible bowl) off centre. Then I used my ruler to chop the loop into fifteen different sized pieces. I numbered them, because I actually thought that this might be useful before I cut them all out and couldn't figure out what went where. (I'm really proud of remembering to number them!)


 Then I cut them out, chose my fabrics, ironed the freezer paper to said fabrics, and trimmed. Next I used the handy dandy tips I learned from Kerry at the Retreat in her class on freezer paper piecing, and got my first two pieces pinned ever so precisely together using the marks I had made on the freezer paper templates to help me line them up.


And I sewed those pieces together. When I got to fifteen I sewed it to number one, completing the circle. Next I snipped the inside curve to help when I pressed it under. And then I pressed the heck out of it. And that is where I am at. Come back tomorrow to see if I manage to remove the freezer paper and pin this to its background without losing the plot.


Susan

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Come Up and See My Etchings

I finished a cushion for my best friend. It isn't a secret, so I am going to show it now - and then she can just wait and see how long it takes me to post it as she well knows how crap I am at wrapping stuff and actually sending it. The cushion is not a surprise, but when she gets it will be.

She liked the Etchings fabric line that I used copiously for Christmas presents last year. So when she came over for a visit she augmented it with some extra fabric and showed me which of my cushions she particularly liked. The rest was up to me. Therefore it will come as no surprise that I started it in February. At some point (probably when I was having visitors) it got packed up and put away. And forgotten about. That is until I was having a rummage about a few weeks ago and thought, 'What's this?' as I came upon a tidily organised zip lock bag.

Now 'this' is a cushion. I hope she thinks it was worth the wait.


Made with simple strips and squares, pieced in a haphazard fashion. Quilted with lots of echo quilting. And an envelope back. I didn't have a big enough insert to properly puff it out, but I think you get the idea of how it looks anyway.

This also means I have a second tick in my finished boxes for the FAL! This quarter might be a record of finished by the time I am done.

Susan

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Miscellany

Saturdays are not classified as relaxing in our house. It's a laundry, grocery, child to dance class, and (sometimes) swimming day. But it's not all bad. For one, I got promised a takeaway for dinner tonight. So no cooking. Woohoo! And the younger child made bread so lunch was sorted. These are good things.

Emily, as mentioned on previous occasions, is our bread maker. Helen is our cake maker. Today Emily commandeered the kitchen, much inspired by watching The Great British Bake Off on BBC of late. She decided to up her game and tackle a plaited loaf. Mostly because so many of the contestants made a right mess of theirs on the show. She did good. Not sure if it was the technically correct way to plait bread but I think the resulting loaf looks fantastic, and I know for a fact that it tasted great.


If that is not enough good stuff, the post man came. I very recently got an unexpected gift from a very good friend. Ignoring all the 'You shouldn't have' stuff, it was lovely to get a surprise and I lost no time using the gift  voucher at Fluffy Sheep to purchase myself this wonderful stack of fabric. It is a mix of Oh Deer!, Mama Said Sew, and a little bit of extra Summersville seeing as how I shared my first bit with the girls. I think I just joined the ranks of text fabric addicts! And I have wanted some of those birds since I saw them on Fluffy Sheep's coming soon page. (I've got Helsinki Town on my radar now.)


But wait, there is more good stuff. I forgot to tell you that I added a quilt block book to my library recently. I think half of you have it already so I won't elaborate. And today, when I was in town with the girls getting a couple of necessary items, I happened to find the apple thingmajig we saw recently on an outing. The one I found today was on sale 40% off. Could I resist? Um no! Baked beans for a week seems like a fair trade off. Besides, the girls are so thrilled with it they have both eaten three apples each today. Result!


Finally, you will notice, I even managed to do a little bit of sewing. More on that tomorrow.

Susan

Friday, 19 October 2012

Not One Stitch Unpicked...

... so far today. It seems strange and unusual what with the way I have been sewing of late, but I have finished my Mouthy Stitches tote for my secret partner and not a minute too soon. I so hope she likes it because blood, sweat and tears has gone into the making of it.

I lined it with the orange seeds fabric, as it is one of my favourite oranges ever. And I made a very simple key fob - on the premise that my original idea of a key fob combined with a mini change purse for parking money was just a bit beyond my capabilities this week.


Despite all the ups and downs in the making of this tote, I like it, I like it a lot. We all know that I love my vibrant colours, but this is the first time I have combined orange, pink and yellow together and, for me, it works.

I inserted a simple pocket in the lining and also put in a little loop so that the clip (yet to be attached but coming soon) on the key fob can be clipped safe in the purse, and easily found upon my partner's return  home, or to their car.


So, for better or worse, my bit for Mouthy Stitches it ready for posting. And I have ticked a box in the Finish-A-Long too. Yay!

Susan

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Moving Forward Now

I've done my one step forward two steps back dance. I intend to be moving forward from now on. Because I am now where I was supposed to be yesterday in stitching the tote. Here is what I did to fix my stupid mistake.


And then I...


You wouldn't believe how happy I am to see all those little bits of stitching line up. Now for the lining. Going with the KISS rule this time - Keep It Simple Stupid. The stupid obviously referring to me and no one else.

Susan

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Numpty Alert!

When I pieced the back of the Mouthy Stitches tote I measured carefully to make sure that all the bits would line up nicely with the front. And when I had finished piecing the front I checked to make sure I got it right. What I didn't freaking well do was check which way was up when I stitched the words on the back. I had allowed for more linen on the bottom due to the boxing of the corners. I am so very, very annoyed with myself! I blithely sewed the two sides together today before I realised my mistake. Therefore I now have one almighty mess. There is a lot of unpicking to do.


What is really annoying is that after yesterday I decided to keep today simple. I pottered. I stayed away from the computer for the most part. I even prepared for the draw for the tote in the good old fashioned way, deciding that Mr RNG could go sit in the corner with Google. It was all going so well until the sewing started.


To end this post on a positive note, let me announce the winner of the tote bag. Miss Random Number Selector (aka Helen) picked...


Okay, I'll admit it is hard to see the number in the third photo. Here's a close up.


The person who left the 56th comment is actually in 57th place - because someone had their comment pop up twice so I had so skip ahead. I tried deleting it, but the person's name and number stayed in place despite the comment disappearing. Confused? Sorry. Just trying to explain why 56 is the winner but it says 57 by her name. I will stop blathering on. The winner is...

Congratulations, Cherie, I will be emailing you for your address. Thanks to everyone for putting their name in the hat. I really appreciate it and just wish I could make a tote for every last one of you.

Susan

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Why?

Why does Google mess with our settings somehow? Why am I a reply blogger one day and a no-reply blogger the next. Why, in my efforts to get things to work has freaking Blogger reverted to the old interface and how do I get it back to the way it was before? Why does Google Blogger make me want to bang my head into a brick wall until I can't feel the pain any more? Why? Why? Why?

I am annoyed, fed up and lost in Google going in circles and unable to get back to the happy place I once was in. I am not enjoying this Google game at all!

But I did do some embroidery before Google took over my day.




If anyone knows more about this stuff than I do - please stop laughing and tell me what button to push, before I explode.

Susan

Edit: Google and I are speaking - not very cordially on my part - and on their part Google gave me back the updated interface. I think it is best I step away from the computer now. Because the question 'Why?' is still echoing around my brain.

Monday, 15 October 2012

In Case You Were Worried...

... work continues on my Mouthy Stitches tote bag. Just in case you thought I got distracted making a different tote. I have been sharing my tote love out between them. Honest.

But I am at a bit of a loss. I think that I have done enough hand stitching. Except for the bit down the middle of the back of the tote. I am still searching for the right words to put there. And my brain has frozen. I keep thinking along the lines of a bicycle theme - what with the HR bikes on the front. But I can't come up with anything clever. Can you?

And do you think that, other than the missing words, there is enough stitching on the panels or should I add more?


All advice - funny, sarcastic and useful - is welcome.

Susan

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Happy Me

The postman came yesterday, with stuff - for me. Don't you hate it when you are expecting something and when you hear the post fall through the letterbox you jump in excitement, only to find out that it was only bills, or a magazine for the other half - which makes a sound disconcertingly like a fabric package when it hits the floor. Hate that!

But that didn't happen yesterday. It was all for me, me, me. Woohoo! Two packages. From Hadley came my bee block, a little pressie, and a secret bee block for Stitch Tease International Bee of Mystery - which I can't show you until the bee winds up later on next year.

Hadley made me a constellation block because she is famous for them. And has the world's best constellation quilt from the first round of Brit Bee - truly it is amazing, won prizes and all! So she decided it was only right and fair that the star she made for my quilt was one that she is known for, and it measures up at a whopping 24" square. It is amazing, and the way she put the colours together is so vibrant. I couldn't seem to capture that on film properly, but rest assured I love it! Thanks Hadley!


The little present was for taking a photo of her Sissix quilt at the Festival of Quilts this summer. Well she knows that I would have happily snapped away for her without any incentive. But far be it for me to refuse a lovely handmade gift from her. It would be rude to, wouldn't it? So I got this adorable little pouch with perfect embroidery on it. And I am ever so happy it is one of those wide mouthed pouches as I tried to follow a tutorial for one and failed dismally. Now I can study this one and see how it is done. I work much better with visual clues like this.


My other package came from the inimitable Sarah. She of the Japanese Charm Swap. It was indeed my charms and how gorgeous they are. You can see them all here on Sarah's blog. I will just show you a random selection chosen during my brief photography stint outdoors.


Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you for all the comments yesterday. It made my day week month. You will have to believe me that I didn't set out to get kind words, but rather to pass on some kindness to all of you who stop by to read me. But I got back kindness in abundance and it was ever so nice. The blogging world is full of generous souls and I am happy to be part of it. Thank you again.

Susan

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Number Crunching

We all start blogging for different reasons. Mine are a little hazy but it was part curiosity if I could come up with something to write about, part the challenge of doing more writing as that has always been something I enjoyed but had not been doing enough of, and part to keep a wee diary of what I was making and doing.

I have stated before but it didn't occur to me that people would read me, other than my best friend because she had to. I am sure it is in the best friend forever rule book somewhere. But other people started reading me. Complete strangers - many of whom have since become friends. And I became obsessed with my stats. I hate to admit it, but I did. I was a stat-oholic. *sob!*

Last winter I went through a real blogging blah period. I took half term off, reassessed why I was blogging, what I got out of it and if I wanted to continue. I did. From that point I stopped worrying about who was reading me, or not. Whether I got more hits each month, and if not why. And if someone stopped following me it no longer felt like something really personal. It just was what happened at times. I was back in a good place.

So recently I noticed that my followers had almost reached 300, and I felt the obsession creeping back. I couldn't help it. It is an evil addiction. (Really!!) I thought I would do a g*vea*ay when I reached 300. And each day I checked to see how close I was.

I got to 299. Eeeek! I was poised, ready - and I lost a follower. You know what? It was the best thing ever. It was the proverbial kick up the backside to remind me that we are all into blogging for different reasons, and mine is not to be the biggest blog on the block. It would freak me out totally. I like that people read me. I love getting comments. It is nice to get to know you all. I am human after all. But I am not hugely ambitious. I like my little corner of the world, and am happy in it.

Therefore this weekend I decided to celebrate having 299 followers. It's a great number. It may go up, it may well go down - especially after prattling on like this today. But one of you will win this -


It is a tote bag. No more, no less. Made to the same pattern we are using in Mouthy Stitches. If  you would like to win then please leave a comment. I will do a draw for the winner on Wednesday, October 17th. About mid-afternoon. If you need something to comment about then tell me why you started reading my blog, or how you found it, or whatever. Really, it doesn't matter. This is my thank you for making me feel good about my sewing, my writing, my life.

Please do not blog about this g*vea*ay. Or tweet it. Or facebook it. This is between you guys and me. One comment, one chance. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. If you get carried away and leave two comments I will delete one - no offence, but it will be the easiest way for me to keep track of entries.

And if you think that the photos of the tote bag are limited, then please have a look at what the weather was doing five minutes before I took them.


Susan

Friday, 12 October 2012

Feeling the Love

Few words. Some photos. Happy with my progress. English paper piecing rocks. I couldn't decide if I should make 'X's or 'O's. I did both.


Then I tried to channel Leanne when I quilted the linen. Whoever would have thought it would take effort to concentrate and remember to go wonky? I machine appliqu├ęd the lozenges to the linen after I did the quilting. Remind me that I am probably going to need bifocals if I keep this up.


And that is what I got done today. I think I shall spare you the laundry, tyre mending, crap to the tip, grocery shopping boring bit. Far more fun to look at paper piecing. Well, it is in my world at least.

Susan

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Finally, Some Sewing

Today I finally did some sewing. It was a good feeling I must say. I did it in a very relaxed manner. There are no pressing deadlines hanging over my head - yet.

I pieced the back of my Mouthy Stitches tote for my secret partner. It awaits some hand stitching, and some inspiration of what to embroider between the lines, the blue lines that is.


Then I happily pinned, trimmed and basted lozenge shaped English paper pieces. The great EPP going on in the Mouthy Stitches swap spurred me on to get another project going. I particularly liked Annabella's lozenges and she handily linked to Lynne's template for them here. I've managed to make 18 so far. It's a start.


And on top of having fun stitching, I also got good post today. My first Brit Bee block arrived for me from the amazing Judith. The fabulous thing about being in a bee is if you give your fellow members some scope you have the opportunity to receive blocks that you would never be able to make yourself. Really! Just look.


Isn't that star incredible?!!

And I will depart on this happy note, to school runs and dinner making. Never underestimate the joys of the mundane.

Susan

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Mystery is Over

Some of you have expressed curiosity over my embroidery that was posted off to a secret location sometime recently (forgive me, but I have totally lost track of time). Well, the hoop has arrived so I can finally reveal all. Below was the more cryptic photos.


I deliberately made my photos confusing, as you can see. Because I wanted to keep someone guessing as long as possible. Here is what the hoop actually looked like.


The thing is, I now have to break it to Rhonda just what Watford Gap is. Umm, people in the UK will understand this and most others in the world will not have a clue what this is all about. Sorry! But when I thought of a way of placing Rhonda in the UK, Watford Gap was all that came to my mind. It wasn't to be mean, but the only place with 'Gap' in the name that came right to my mind immediately.

This is Watford Gap (sorry Rhonda!) -


I am afraid to announce that Watford Gap is a motorway services on the M1 and marks the historic divide between the north and the south of England, and is also just up the road from where I live. I really wanted to make a hoop that Rhonda would love and think her sense of humour is totally up to this. And I so wish Rhonda did live up the road because we would have a total laugh together. We wouldn't get jack s**t done, but we would have fun accomplishing nothing.

On  a completely different note - do you recognise this structure?


It is the CN Tower in Toronto. Did you know there are stairs you can take to the top? 1776 steps in total. And my brother and my nephew are going to walk to the top for fundraising. I for one think my brother will keel over and never manage it - but that is a completely different story (and as  younger sister I retain my right to laugh my fool head off). My 14 year old nephew however will make it and I would love to see him raise some money for charity in the process.

You can read about this United Way Fundraiser here. When I worked in Toronto, before Helen was born, I was on the committee at the company I worked for that raised funds for United Way. I love the charity because it is an all encompassing one. It funds other charities, from the really big ones nationally - like cancer research and such - to much smaller ones that might benefit a neighbourhood or a cause that doesn't get as much publicity. I liked that.

So, I am doing something totally out of character for me. I am asking if anyone out there would be willing to make a small donation to my nephew's climb of the CN Tower. He is aiming to raise $100 and I am hoping that between family friends, and maybe one or two of you, we can get him well past that sum. We here in this household will be making our donation. Would you care to join us? Any sum would be welcome. It all adds up.

If you are so inclined then you can find the means of making a donation to my nephew's efforts here.

Thank you so much for reading about this.

Susan