Wednesday 31 August 2011

Do You Swap?

Concidering I didn't know what a blog was this time last year, it amazes me how much my life has changed because of it. The people I've met from so many different places. The creativity I have found displayed online and that has in turn sparked all sorts of ideas in me. And the things I send to others, and receive back in return. If you had told me last summer that I would be happily sending fabric scraps to someone I didn't know and getting some back in return from an entirely different person I would have told you that you were mad.

Well, you may still be mad, but you would also be right. Ali, at Very Berry Handmade, organised a scrap swap in July. With wanton abandon I put my name down - this despite having being very disappointed in the only other organised scrap swap I had ever particiapated in previously. I had faith.

And that faith has paid off. Yippee! The wonderful Gill sent me a package that was full of yummy goodness. Overwhelmingly full. I can't thank her enough.

Look at it all! I am so speachless (stop laughing!). Can you see the items at the back of the scraps? There is a gorgeous length of ribbon that I am hiding from the girls because it is mine, all mine.

You would think that was more than enough, but Gill also made me a needle book. This is extremely fantastic because you are reading the same numbskull blogger who never had a pin cushion, and also didn't have a needle book. Made them for others but never got around to making one myself.

Besides, Gill made it way nicer than I would have.

It is such a stylish needle case. Gill, thank you for the scraps, the ribbon and the needle case, and most of all, thank you for your generosity. It is much appreciated.


Tuesday 30 August 2011

All the Way From Austalia

A few weeks ago my friend Kat - Diary of a Flutter. Kat - had a week of giveaways to mark her blogiversary. She wanted her giveaways to be in recognition of her readers rather than an attempt to get new ones. That's the sort of wonderful person she is. Besides being very funny! She tells it like it is on her blog and we usually have a little email chat each day, exchanging a bit of news and lots of laughs.

In her giveaway I won - twice! It all comes down to her brilliant daughter doing such a good job acting as Miss Number Generator. Got to love that Hannah! I won some fabric and a beautiful purse made by Kat. As postage is so expensive we made a deal that she would send me some more of her yummy scraps with the purse rather than the fabric specified. We were both happy with that. Well, quite frankly, I was happy with anything from Kat.

But who wouldn't be happy to receive this in the post?

Isn't that just beautiful?!
And its got one of those nifty little magnetic clasps.
Emily was well impressed with that.
Kat has some great tutorials on her blog and I will be ordering some zippers and trying out her zippy pouch tutorial once I have sequestered the girls back in school.

Kat also has wonderful scraps. Look at the great mix of fabrics I got from her. I can feel myself about to talk to the Farmer again because these scraps need to be used.

I love the bloggy world. It is so full of brilliant people!


Monday 29 August 2011

Report from the Island

Here we are, on the Isle of Wight, doing the usual. Barbecue dinners with friends. Six children in the holiday let watching Harry Potter while we three adults enjoyed a relaxing glass of wine, or two. Spot on, until one child overdosed on ice cream (apparently with sliced bananas and crushed sweets - I really should supervise more closely) and was well and truly sick. Yes! It was one of my two!

We have been bowling. Successfully, as not one child had a strop. And we have done the beach hopping, avoiding the rain storm, traditional picnic. Eventually we gave in, surrendered and returned home so that the sun would come out again. It did, enough to sit outside - with another glass of pink wine. Life is good.

But best of all are the menagerie. Helen and Emily have embraced helping put the guinea pigs out each morning, and back in each night. They collect eggs from the chicken run and are even helping walk Molly, the golden lab. Emily, who has an innate fear of just about all animals, spends more time in their run than anywhere else.

If all that isn't fantastic enough then let me tell you about Basil. Basil is eight weeks old. A roly poly, squidgy ball of wonderfulness. He is a King Charles spaniel and every last one of us is in love. Because he is just perfect in his puppiness. He came to his new home Saturday morning and he owns it now. I will post a photo of Basil on my return to a proper computer so you can fall in love with his puppiness too.

Today has been a quiet day as Emily has been off colour, but she is brightening up now and emerged from under the duvet and into the fresh air. Tomorrow? New adventures await. Hope you all have enjoyed your long weekend too.


Sunday 28 August 2011

Stick A Pin In It

I've been at the pin cushion thing again. But I am not going to make another one now until I have followed some of the useful advise I have received from some of you. And thank you very much for it, by the way.

I have now been informed that crushed walnuts are also known as lizard litter. And they are available from pet shops. I will be looking once the girls are back in school. It exists because I have a look online.

Zilla Lizard Litter - PetSmart

If you don't live anywhere near a pet shop, or the idea of it being labelled lizard litter puts you off, then the very helpful Linda sent me a link to this website, where they sell it specifically for pin cushions. Personally, I think I will go for the litter. Makes me smile.

And the last pin cushion I made? It is destined for another friend. She doesn't know it, but she will when it arrives in her post box. I dipped into some precious Heather Ross for this one and love the result.

I hope she likes the result too.


Saturday 27 August 2011

Gift from Finland

If you remember, I made Wonky Stars and sent it off to a friend in Finland a while ago. It was a hard thing to do because I loved Wonky Stars, but a promise is a promise. My friend had commissioned the quilt from me but I had a problem. I did not want to make a profit from someone I had known so long and who really deserved a nice quilt. We came to a compromise. She would make a contribution towards the cost of the materials. And I requested something from her.

Because my friend is a very talented lady. She sews - but not quilts. She also does some wonderful painting. And she sent me one of her paintings. I am so thrilled. This is what arrived in the post.

I love that fish. I love the simplicity of the framing that allows that fish to shine. So many thanks to Tinca, and I hope that you will get the opportunity to paint again soon.

The world is full of people with many hidden talents. They do it for the joy of creating, not a career, or out of necessity, but out a need to express themselves in a creative way. I am so pleased to know some of them.


Friday 26 August 2011

Headed South

This is an easy post for Shay's (Quilting in My Pyjamas) Favourite Things Friday this week. I could be quite general and say that my favourite thing was holidays, as we are headed south in the UK this time. But I won't. My favourite thing is the Isle of Wight - our destination.

 Solent Route Map 2

We are leaving the house bright and early and headed for Southampton, fingers crossed that the roads are kind to us. It is the rush hour on the Oxford bit of the A34 road that worries me. Next the wait for the ferry - Red Funnel for us. There is something about the hour long crossing that builds up a wonderful level of excitement in the girls that is fun to watch.

Red Funenl vehicle ferry

And then there is the count down as we drive off the ferry and the car tyres touch island ground. They generally cheer and start looking at everything and exclaiming loudly, especially if anything has changed since our last visit. We will be headed straight for their best friend's house which is just how a holiday like this should start. And their best friend's mother is providing us with our first island meal so hurrah from me!

Then it will be a week of beaches (weather permitting, of course), ice skating (I promised), easy meals, lie ins and relaxing. Maybe the odd ice cream cone or two. Definitely pizza and popcorn. For me, a glass of pink (or red, or white) wine with an old and good friend who I am renting the holiday let from and is just upstairs. A brand new puppy in their house this weekend too. Could it get any more perfect?

The Needles Park Isle of Wight
There may be a little of this.

Blackgang Chine Isle of Wight
And there may be a little of that.
We lived on the Isle of Wight for three years, so we have seen and done most of the things that can be done there. But we have some favourite places we most likely will be revisiting. I just want to relax and have some fun.

Enjoy the bank holiday weekend - if you live somewhere that it is a long weekend. Sorry if you don't.

Isle of Wight Activities for Nature Lovers 


Thursday 25 August 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

It's a good thing I am a woman and can multi task, because I am turning it into an Olympic sport here in our house. Getting ready for our holiday, doing the usual like feeding the masses, and laundry, grocery shopping...  oh...   and cutting the fabric for my September Brit Bee blocks.

There has been some indication that a few in the bee would like a hint. Ha! Well, I will tell you this much. It involves my new baby - Go! Baby that is. We have been spending a lot of time together today.

I have been cutting over 30 different fabrics and a charm pack. Did you know that it takes a lot of hexie cutting to get enough for 12" blocks? And did you know that the Go! Baby can cut very small hexies?

How many of you believe that I went with hexies? How many think I am winding you up? How many think I am having fun with this?

I am certainly telling the truth about the fabric. Here's a sneak preview.

And if you think I am joking about using the Go! Baby - here are some of the scraps.

Now I really had better go sort a suitcase or two. A holiday to take. Places to go and people to see. I will be able to access my Google Reader and will continue my voracious blog reading, but I will not be able to access my email if things go the way they did up north. So thank you for any comments you  leave in the coming week and apologies that I cannot reply.

Cross your fingers the sun shines on us. Would love a day or two on the beach that didn't involve layers upon layers of clothing.


Wednesday 24 August 2011

While I Wait

I am slowly plowing through the list of things I wanted done before Friday. The worst of them, taking the girls shopping for new school shoes and uniform, was accomplished yesterday and left me thoroughly traumatised. I won't complain about the cost because I am sure that lots of you have had to spend much more. But I will whinge about the take a number and wait your turn bit in Clarks and how very, very long we had to wait for our turn to come up. I almost lost the will to live. But we did survive, the task is done - and thank goodness for that!

I have made a mosaic in preparation of the launch of the Mug Rug and Goodies Swap. If you are not aware of this then pop on over to Fluffy Sheep Quilting and sign up if you are interested. There are still two days left before sign ups close. Cindy would love to have you join in, and so would I. It took me a while to make my mosaic and I only put 12 photos in from my favourites in Flickr, but I think that is enough to show that I have a childish delight in bright colours and bold design.

Next on my list was cutting my fabric for the Across the Sea Modern Quiltalong. It took me a long time pondering, and a lot of digging through fabric to finally come up with a combination that made me happy. I am new to the concept of putting together fabric combinations myself rather than relying on FQ bundles of fabric from the same line. I don't have much confidence in the whole rigmarole yet, but for once I made myself happy. These are the fabrics I am going with.

I used the FQ of Quite Contrary by My Mind's Eye for Riley Blake fabrics - the one in the middle on the left - as a base for pulling in all the other colours. A quick consultation with my fellow QAL quilters assured me that white would be the backing fabric of choice for everyone - so white it is. That's that sorted. Think I need to order some more white though.

Cutting next.

Job done.
Next on the list of things to do was post lots of things that needed posting ages ago. What is bothering me is that something is niggling me. That I have something else I am supposed to post but haven't. I am sure I will remember as the car hits the M40 on Friday and it is too late until September. (Hours later.) Ah, I remembered - Nicky, the FoQ guide is in an envelope now.

Only I didn't make it to the post office. Because I was waiting for a delivery. All day. It came, and now I have to go because I have a new toy.

You will have to try and picture the ridiculous grin on my face.

Tuesday 23 August 2011


After yesterday's fiasco, I thought I would stick to the Keep It Simple Rule today. Going for the better safe than sorry option. That doesn't sound very brave of me, I know, but things didn't improve on the crafting front after I wrote yesterday's post.

First of all, I really truly did not see the mistake in the second Farmer's Wife block until I had the post all written. How I missed it is beyond me. So I went away and started unpicking the bits that were wrong. Only I didn't unpick the incorrect parts. No, I unpicked the bits that were right! A few words crossed my lips at that point.

Surprisingly, I managed to produce an edible dinner. And after the girls were tucked up in bed I decided to gather my wits about me and do some more of the hand quilting on Helen's quilt. Yup, you guessed it, I proceeded to sew myself to the quilt. Not my clothes or anything simple like that. I sewed myself to the quilt! Don't ask how or why but I managed to pierce the outer layers of skin on my index finger - without noticing! - and when I pulled that stitch through, lo and behold, I was attached.

At which point I stopped sewing and poured myself a large glass of red wine. Thought it was best to stop before there was blood spilled!

So today I am sticking to the simple stuff. I made three pin cushions. All of them have recipients to send them to.  None of them involved a disaster in the making. This is good!

They are five inches square - except for the orange one because I can't do maths this morning. The return from the land of the brain dead is a slow transition apparently.  They are stuffed full of soft toy filler. I hear people talk about using crushed walnut shells to fill pin cushions. Is there actually somewhere you can source these or do they just collect the shells from the walnuts they have eaten? (Is that a really stupid question?)

I have never made a pin cushion before. Easy, aren't they? I don't have to make one for myself because I have been given two now. I fail to see how I lived without them before. Linda sent me a lovely one made as a bird recently, and I forgot to thank her for it because I was gushing too much about the owl fabric she sent. I haven't used the bird pin cushion because I feel too cruel at the thought of pushing pins into its sweet body. I am thinking of using some perle to make a loop and hanging it up and letting it just look pretty.

I am off to town with the girls to buy them their new school shoes now. Dreading it. The shoe shop will be busy - always is - take a number and wait your turn. Then the uniform items that require replacing. There is a lot to be said for school uniforms - other than shopping for it. It was easier when the girls wore what I gave them and there was no discussion. That doesn't happen any more. Sigh! Helen said she wants blouses. (Huh?!) Time to teach her to iron her own clothes if that happens.

Thanks to everyone who left messages on yesterday's post. You made me laugh and you kept my spirits up when everything else was going wrong. You all cheer me up to no end!


I am linking this with Quiltstory for their Fabric Tuesday linky party. I've not been doing links in so often in these summer holidays. Need to get back in the groove.

Fresh Poppy Design

Monday 22 August 2011

Am I the Only One?

Am I the only one who ignores the housework all summer. And then opens her eyes one day and thinks, 'Uh-Oh!' We were away for half of the time so how on earth does it deteriorate to such a disgusting state? With some work, and clear, sunny weather to dry the laundry, we now have fresh bed linen and towels. Bathrooms that, well, that just don't smell. We like that. I have put in a little elbow grease today but it was very necessary.

Am I the only one who gets a wee bit of joy witnessing one child snatch from the other, and then get kicked in the butt for revenge? It's great to know both sides of the story before they come running so that I can pre-empt them with the facts. It is always best when they don't realise I have actually been a silent witness.

Am I the only one who is a bit off with the Farmer and has been avoiding him rigourously? But I tackled a couple more blocks this afternoon. It is silly not enjoying the process much when I do like the resulting blocks. Must be because they are so small and fiddly. I am a simple soul who likes bigger, more instant results. Slowly, slowly I am getting there though. Does anyone know how many blocks we should technically have completed by now?

Am I the only one who spends time and energy making these blocks, concentrates and then when she finishes ironing the finished block sees this -

But wait, it gets better. Because I diligently unpicked the block and put it back together - properly though?

I blame the fumes from the cleaning products I used in the bathroom! Third time lucky. It had to be luck because I think we have firmly established that it wasn't skill today!

No. 72 - Railroad

It wasn't all bad because I did manage to do this block in one attempt. Small miracle there!

No. 64 - Peace and Plenty
(OMG! I am so annoyed. I just looked and realised I did this one wrong too! Unbelievable!!)
Am I the only one who is surprised she makes it through some days with all fingers and toes intact? As my brother used to say, I would be dangerous if I had a brain!


Sunday 21 August 2011

Run for the Hills

We have spent the day in the great outdoors today. Namely, in the Peak District. We were all going to go for a bike ride but Helen was feeling a little off colour and asked if she and I could walk while himself and the mini monster rode bikes. Our destination was the Upper Derwent Valley. Turns out that we were not the only ones with that idea. Not by a long shot. Parking was not something that was available anywhere up there - unless we wanted to park crazily off the side of the road like some people were doing. We headed for Snake Pass instead.

Here we found fewer people, available parking, and peace and quiet. It was so beautiful.

There was a trail up through the forest that was suitable for bikes, and those walking as well. I was so proud of Emily as this was her first time for such a venture and she just headed off with a mad grin on her face.

Helen and I followed the other two a little bit more sedately, though just as happy.

When we got to the top of the trail (in all honesty it wasn't a big long hike, but lovely all the same) we found the other two already well into the picnic and looking pleased with themselves.

The view was amazing, the company good and the sandwiches - well what can I say? Made by an expert, I'm sure.

And that was today. No sewing. Then again - no housework!! A quick bbq for dinner, some marshmallows to toast for the girls for desert and then a bribe of an hour of television before bed so that I could sit here at the computer in peace. Works for all of us. Hope that your Sunday was as good.


Saturday 20 August 2011

The Other Leg

The other leg of the jeans, that is. That leg was for Emily's school bag. She asked for long and narrow. I tied to talk her out of this. Really, I tried but she was adamant. It is finished and it looks nice, for a long narrow bag. But I don't think that it will work very well as a school bag and would hazard a guess that she will be asking me to make one more like Helen's in a few weeks time. Had best keep my eye out for large pairs of jeans in the charity shop meanwhile.

This is the result of today's sewing. It looks nice - just not practical.

If she does get a school book in there she may never get it out again!
I made the belt loop myself this time.
The same light blue lining fabric as Helen's bag.
The two bags together.
I think I would like Helen's style of bag and the colours from Emily's.
Maybe I should make myself one.
Hmmmm...   (that's me thinking)
Emily had a fabulous birthday yesterday, albeit quiet. It is hard being an August baby and having your best friends away on holiday on the big day. But we went out of our way to make it special and she claims it was an excellent birthday so that is what counts.

Here are a few photos commemorating the day.

In our family, the day starts with gift giving while the birthday person is still in bed.
Emily was particularly taken with her Hello Kitty magnetic earrings.
The girls all ready for some cake decorating.
Because Emily had a plan for her new farmyard sugar animals.
They did a good job working to plan.
Emily also expressed the desire to make her own dinner.
Pasta bolognaise.
I am liking this new innovation.
Wonder if Helen would like to cook her own dinner on her birthday?
Looking very pleased with herself.
You can tell it is a special occasion.
Sodas only appear at these times.
(Helps that I don't like them myself.)
She huffed and she puffed.
The day ended with all four of us cuddled up together watching the third in the series of the Pirates of the Caribbean. A sleepy but happy birthday girl crawled into bed last night.


Thursday 18 August 2011

My Baby is Nine!

Happy Birthday, Emily! I can't believe my baby is nine. And today is all about her. I love the way she has grown and developed into the person she currently is and look forward to the many changes that are still to come.

Emily, with Helen to the right looking as if she is going to devour the cake.
(And I look so young! I was 40 in that photo!)
Bless, she was so gorgeous!
Still sweet!
Cheeky starting to creep in?
Rug burn on her chin from wiping out at the play place.
The year we had the 15' swimming pool and a garden big enough for it.
Young lady!
With attitude!
I love every last thing about this child. She is definitely my Favourite Thing Friday this week. Happy Birthday! For those of you who know I made my girls my favourite thing very recently - I know - but it is her birthday. I had to do it!!

A very proud Mum.