Tuesday 31 January 2012

At a Loss for Words

It  had to happen sooner or later. Me being speechless - a rare and unusual occasion. Now add in the fact that I have come up against a challenge that I don't think I am up to. I will give it my best go, but I am very afraid of letting down one of the wonderful Brit Bee ladies who has set this challenge. Letting Jenny down would be worse than my fear of this project.

Jenny is Miss February. She blogs over here. And this is what she is asking for her bee blocks for February -

Well not these blocks exactly.
But a self portrait block.
A fabric picture of me.
I think I'll consume the 'E' numbers she sent first.
And then make my block really psychedelic.

Meanwhile, I was doing things this morning and it occurred to me that it was going to be a very boring post today. Until the postman rang the doorbell. Things looked up after that. Because there were four parcels for me. The first one was the above bee block package. The second one had my awaited Zipit order.

Ten multi coloured 8" zips.
And ten blue 22" zips.
I have an idea for my Mouthy Stitches swap partner. But I am not sure if I am capable of doing it. I will try, and it will involve one of those 22" zips. If I fail then I will fall back to plan 'B' and one of those 8" zips will be used instead. When I have had a go I will show you what I want to do, whether it fails or not, but meanwhile I will leave you in suspense.

Number three parcel was some more bird fabric from a lovely reader of this blog by the name of Mary. She is quiet, but we have chatted a couple of times by email and she is always lovely. So these latest birds for the quilt have come to me from rural Wisconsin. Thank you so much, Mary!

I love those eyes on the owls.
And isn't the middle fabric gorgeous!
Last, but certainly not least was another HR delivery. This was one of my mini purchases for little money and lots of satisfaction. I finally decided I needed to have the little girl playing with her toy horses. And some orange flowers to go with it.

One more mini order to arrive.
I haven't ordered any HR in the last little while.
Honest, I haven't!
When I wasn't opening post I was cutting fabric. I have 44 fussy cut birds now ready for their sashing. I hope I have enough stash to find the right fabrics for each and every one of them. Because they all deserve an appropriate frame.

The other main thing I did today was go for lunch with a friend. We get together about once a term for lunch and a good old gossip. It was much needed for the goodness of my soul - chatting, laughing, bitching and generally catching up. That will keep me going until the arrival of my bestest Canadian buddy's arrival in 17 days - not that I am counting or anything!


Monday 30 January 2012

Sewing Progress...

... is completely non-existent in this house. Instead life got taken care of. The going here and there, doing this and that. And then there was the birthday girl. Because while we celebrated Helen's birthday all weekend, she pointed out that today was her birthday. And the birthday girl gets to choose what she would like for dinner on her birthday. Ah, yes, I had forgotten to consult her. She remedied that. So today I did a grocery shop too.

I took two avocados and squashed them. Literally.
Once stoned and pealed, I squeezed them in my fists.
Works a charm - if squashed up avacados is what you are after.
Chuck in some of these.
And some garlic.
And the guacamole was made.
Salsa - chopped tomatoes, red onion, coriander, chili and garlic.
Easy peasy!
Chicken, onions and peppers.
Lots of spices.
From a packet!
Oh please, this is a last minute request.
So the birthday girl, who is dragging this out for all it is worth, is getting her requested dinner of chicken fajitas. Wonder if she will be happy with eleven candles stuck in the remains of the cake?


PS: I promise this is not turning into a food blog. Sewing will recommence - when life and them let me.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Coherent Speach Not Possible

I am tired. So, so tired. But I guess you could count the birthday weekend a success so far - other than the overtired sisters repeatedly falling out today, but there was no avoiding that happening. I am just trying to avoid them - full stop.

The film, A Monster in Paris, was actually very good. Pizza Express was great and the girls loved being allowed to sit at a table on their own. And they all behaved so well it was incredible. I think trusting them to be on their own and behave brought out the best in them. I would show you a photo or two, but I didn't remember my camera. I put it on my desk to take with me but failed.

The birthday cake was a hit -

- and not as vile as I thought it might be.

The girls all loved watching Home Alone which I had picked up for £3 at Tesco. Sometimes the mother does know what she is talking about!

There were copious amounts of pancakes for breakfast.

Helen loved her acrylic paints and all the accompanying accessories, and got stuck in to copying Van Gogh right away.

I'll leave you with a picture of the necklace Emily chose to give Helen. For all their bickering I think it says a lot about how they really feel (well at least from Emily's point of view but I am pretty sure that it is a two way thing).

Hope you can read it.


Saturday 28 January 2012

Sugar Alert!

I made the chocolate cake, and mixed up the icing for Helen's birthday cake. I have to say that melting a whole Chocolate Orange into the icing was inspired a sick idea. The icing is so sweet it is vile. The girls love it. I suppose that is what it is all about. I left the icing and decorating of the cake to Emily. She took to the task with zeal.

She wasn't up to random placement of the chocolates. She needed more control. But I think she did a brilliant job, Helen is happy and Emily didn't let any of those little buttons go to waste.

The cake will be cut tonight. Just so I can enjoy the pleasure of four girls hyped up on sugar at bedtime. Obviously I have no sense of self preservation. Meanwhile we have an afternoon at the cinema and then Pizza Express. I am all set to go.

If you don't hear from me for several days then I didn't survive the experience, or it really was Death by Chocolate.


Friday 27 January 2012

If I Only Had a Brain!

Now I do know I do regular numpty reports, but this one takes the cake. Remember that mysterious Echo FQ yesterday? Well, I was sat here yesterday evening catching up on emails when I came to one from a friend in Australia. The one in which Kirsten asked if she could have a piece of fabric shipped to me and then I would post it to her because the shop was asking twice the value of the fabric to get it to her. Of course I said it wasn't a problem and I was happy to do it. Of course she told me exactly what fabric was being shipped to me and from what shop.

My brain is disintegrating faster than the speed of light! I thought that if poor Kirsten read my post about the FQ before I sent her an explanation she would be shouting at the computer screen, 'It's my FQ you numpty! Don't cut it for goodness sake!!' Kirsten claims she just about spilt her coffee all over her computer she was laughing so hard, in fact.

So my Favourite Thing Friday this week is the fact that my sense of humour is still intact, even if the rest of my faculties are not!I made it through the child with shingles, the child with the hurt back, the garage from hell - and then I ended up able to laugh at myself for being such an idiot. It can't all be bad then!

Today has been about having everything ready for the weekend. Including the birthday cake. Which Helen has requested this -

- all to go on her cake as decoration. Except the Chocolate Orange, because I thought we could use that in the icing instead of plain chocolate. Where on earth does that child get her obsession for chocolate from?!

Between the grocery shopping, cake making, hoovering and bathroom cleaning (eeuuuuw!) I managed to squeeze in a few minutes of sewing. So yesterdays birds and today's birds are here.

Twelve more.
Loving this one...
... and the love birds!

In total now there are about 26.
Lots more to go.
 Just in case anyone remembers my Terrain HSTs, I finally got some fabric ordered for the back. I should get that sometime towards the end of next week. So I should have a finish in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, I have zips, solids and some linen out there in the postal system and when they arrive I can get on with the swap items. It's okay, I don't think there will be much sewing featured in this weekend. 3D animated films, yes. Pizza, yes. Giggling girls, yes. Sewing, no!

Hope you have a good weekend and that your FTF is not a disintegrating mind but a sense of humour still there. Honestly, I thought I had a few more years before it all started falling apart! I'm headed over to Shay's to see who else has a FTF, right after the feeding of three girls and a Brownie run, and cake decorating.


Thursday 26 January 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

Thanks to all of you for your lovely messages, and the occasional offer to fire bomb the garage that annoyed me. (Okay, I'm joking but I am sure you would join my in some midnight mayhem if I asked nicely!) Pulverising that lemon yesterday did the trick in making me look life in the face again and believe I could take whatever it threw at me. Besides, I think lemons are afraid of me now anyway.

Today I have two children in school. No phone calls yet, though I may just jinx myself saying that. Emily asked if I was going to come medicate her at lunch today, and I declined. The teacher knows how to get in touch if I am required. I noticed a big difference in Emily this morning from the previous two so I was quite optimistic when I skipped away from the school - and that optimism seems to have been well placed.

Because even if the school calls now I have had a blissful time doing this and that. The sun is shining in through my glistening clean windows. I saw that the spring bulbs are starting to push up in people's gardens. Before you know it I will be oooooh-ing and aaaaah-ing over little baby lambs. Yes, I know it is only January but I think the spring bulbs appearing has made me slightly light headed!

Lots to tell you so had best get on with it. I spent a great deal of time last night stalking my partners for the two swaps I am in - For The Love of Solids (FTLOS) and Mouthy Stitches. Thankfully I have very vocal partners who are commenting all over the place (woohoo!!) and I came up with some ideas this morning which I posted on Flickr. And I am getting good feedback already. Not saying if that feedback is from my partners, but nice things are being said and that always makes a person smile.

Here's what I came up with -

My idea is to make HSTs in bright colours and then cut them into the outer portions of the Drunkard's Path block.
The inner circle will be neutral. I am leaning towards shads of cream/beige but put the darker colours
in the equation as my partner seemed to be drawn to them. I will see if I get feedback from her.
Mouthy Stitches
Pouch about 9" square.
Scrappy oranges up top and aquas on the bottom,
with a strip of linen running on the diagonal between.
Perle stitching on the diagonal strip.
It was good to check those two things off my list of things to do. Now I sit and wait to see what my partners think. I have fabric ordered that will be required for both of these so cannot get making on them yet. Oh, and zips ordered too!

Speaking of fabric orders today. I think I am losing the plot. I got this from M is for Make today.

Now don't get me wrong here. I love this piece of fabric. Love! But I do not for the life of me remember ordering it. There was one of M is for Makes little notes inside saying 'Thank you for your order'. I am thrilled to have it but suppose I had better go and see if I paid for it!

I got more happy post too. This time all the way from Cindy in Texas, who can be found here. She was really lovely and emailed me two bird fabrics for my quilt and they are massive bits. Also unique to me. I so cannot believe that there are so many different bird fabrics out there!

Eeeeek! Look at those love birds! Sweet!!!!
Meanwhile I have been fitting in a little more of this -

And more of these -

But I'm only giving you a sneaky peek, because I am headed into another busy weekend involving sleepovers, a trip to the cinema, pizzas and probably a lot of junk food. Someone in this house is turning older. Thank goodness it isn't me! So if I get too busy to accomplish anything on my projects I can fall back on the things I held back today for my weekend blog posts.


Wednesday 25 January 2012

Life and Lemons

The past few days life has served me a few lemons. I decided not to blog yesterdays lemon and today I am fighting back. I know the saying is if life gives you lemons make lemonade. Well, I just went for a slight twist on that. And I got to take my own back on at least one lemon. (I feel better for it too!)

I grated and squeezed the crap out of that lemon. The rind went into the cake batter.

The juice - with some added sugar - went on top.

So me and lemons - we've talked and come to an agreement. Life can serve them up but I will pulverise the little buggers.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

1/2 cup (4 oz) butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk
finely grated rind of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F, Gas Mark 4.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the lemon rind and the two eggs. Beat well. In separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Alternately add dry ingredients and milk to the mixing bowl, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Place in lined baking tin. (I just line the bottom, but that's me.) I usually use a 2 lb loaf tin for this recipe but mine was in the freezer full of meatloaf, so I used an 8" deep round tin instead today.

Bake until firm, the cake springs back to touch and/or no batter clings to a probe if poked in the middle of the cake. While the cake is baking mix the juice of the lemon you grated the rind from with 1/3 cup sugar (granulated rather than caster sugar will give you more texture to the cake top). Do not stir until sugar is dissolved.

After removing the cake from the oven, pour the sugar and lemon mixture over the top of the cake slowly, making sure to cover all the surface. Leave to cool in the tin. If removed too soon it just might fall apart on you. (The voice of experience here!)

I have been using this recipe for just about forever. It is the recipe that my mother used when I was little. It is also one of my favourite cakes to make. And when life has dealt you a few lemons it proves a very useful recipe to have. Besides, sometimes you need an alternative sugar source to chocolate.


Monday 23 January 2012

The Best Laid Plans...

... seldom go to plan around here. I had full intentions of being attached to my sewing machine all day today.

That was before the girls were ready for school. Before we were in the car. And before the car wouldn't start. Arrrggghhhh!! Deep breaths - long, deep, cleansing breaths! I then had a dilemna. We live about four miles from the school. A friend came over to drive the girls there but I ended up keeping Emily home because without a car I couldn't pick her up if and when her back started bothering her. She gets very uncomfortable in certain positions and sitting in the same position for an extended period is one of the problems. I couldn't risk sending her to school. And then not being able to go and get her if it all got too much.

I found a garage that was willing and able to send someone over to jump start the car and take it back to the garage. It is there now. I await the phone call to say it is fixed. Because I need to go get Helen. She might be having a recurrance of her recent illness. I don't know because she is there and I am here, but the school say the symptoms are similar.

I feel rather helpless right now. We are not in an area with an efficient transport system, nor is there a local taxi service. I need my car. Now!

Meanwhile, I have tried to get on with a few things. I had planned on giong into town today and one of the things I was going to get were blank note cards I could put into some packages I have to send. Without the means to go purchase these I used the available resources. Emily, paper and Emily's new pens.

Job done!

While Emily sat and did that, I cut fabric and gathered the necessary bits for each envelope I was sending. I now am ready for a trip to the Post Office. When I have a car to get me there.

So that is me. Sitting and waiting for a phone call. And a walk to the garage. Then a rescue of Helen. And maybe a visit to the doctor - for both of them.

Life is an unpredictable thing. I am glad that if this was going to happen that it happened this week when I am no longer in a self indulgent funk. Mind you, maybe this would have snapped me out of it because when there is no time for a funk then you skip the whole thing. And at least I have acheived something today. Now I have a request to go play Scrabble. The worry is that without spell check Emily will spell better than I do!


Sunday 22 January 2012

Traded In My Funk for Busy

Not time for being in a funk around here this weekend. Barely time to sit down. You sure do sleep well when you have days like that. And no time for feeling blah at all.

The first big news was that myself, Cindy and Hadley got the partner assignments for Mouthy Stitches done, sent out and the stalking has commenced. I have been given a brilliant partner and can't wait to get making for her. With that in mind, and knowing who I was making for I sat here at some stupid time this morning and ordered more zippers, just in case I didn't have the colour I really wanted for my make. (You never can have too many, can you?)

My next news was that I received my last two purchases of Heather Ross fabrics. I found it very interesting shopping around for HR fabrics because the prices being charged are so varied and then the cost of shipping! Goodness me, how can one seller on Etsy be asking $12.95 to ship a piece of fabric smaller than a FQ to the UK but another can do it for $10 less? It certainly makes decisions when shopping easier. I saw the same design FQ of HR for sale by two different sellers and one was asking twice as much as the other. So, my advice, if you decide to do a little fabric collecting, is to shop around! My last two shipments I got for just over £5 each, including shipping. You can have fun for a very little amount of money when you try.

The three on the right I got from one seller and
I had to have it just for those cheeky little gnomes.
My other news is I have had more good post. (I know! There is no chance of being gloomy around you guys!) First off Maggie sent me a parcel all the way from Utah. I didn't really know Maggie before she entered my Christmas swap but she is a joy. And she goes out of her way for so many people, paying attention to what is going on in a swap and is generous to all. As a thank you - not necessary at all - for running the swap she sent not only me a gift, but the girls one each too.

A mini tote for each of the girls,
which they quickly decided were the perfect size for dance shoes.
And a stack of charm squares for each of them too.
For me all of us was a brilliant Christmas mini quilt.
I love that wreath stitched on the door!
And for me some amazing HR scraps, plus another bird scrap which I do not have.
I could sit here and rave about that HR Christmas tree piece!
Love it sooooo much!
The other package was from Fiona. We are doing a bit of a swap, and she sent me some HR, plus some birds. I will be sending her a package tomorrow. Because I have a number of packages that need sorting out!

Yoga girl - love her, while somehow hating her at the same time.
And liberated goldfish. Well, that's how I think of them as opposed
to the fish in a bag.

Birdies!! Those orange ones are gorgeous.
(Sorry, Katie, but no need to go looking for any for me now. Thanks!)
 The other thing to happen this weekend was Emily took a whacking great fall at my friend's house after swimming lessons and hurt her back. She is doing fine now, still aching but children's bodies are so much more resilient - thank goodness. But in her moments of lowness yesterday she requested that I blog about baby bunny. So blog about baby bunny I shall.

This was designated Baby Bunny weekend.
For that Baby Bunny got a sash and her own pillow.
Helen made whoopie pies.
Baby Bunny found where she wanted to hang out for a while.
And Emily gave her a treat,
but I am not sure if bunnies eat bears.
So it is all go here. Swaps are on the go. I am stalking two people - one For The Love of Solids swap and the other for our very own Mouthy Stitches. I have my zips ordered for one and my solids ordered for the other. The making only waits for the post. I have a load of blogs to read, and so many emails to reply to - but I think normal service it about to resume here come tomorrow morning. I'm feeling the urge to sew, and do, and plan, and fondle the heap of HR I have accumulated.

It has taken me two hours to write this blog, whilst doing other tasks gong back and forth between all things demanding my attention. I think I am going to reward myself with a glass of wine. I have been ever so good lately but I do feel I have earned it this weekend. Life, despite the occasional moan, is good!


Friday 20 January 2012

Favourite Thing Friday

This week has been an interesting one in that I have been on a bit of a downer missing some close friends, none of who live an easily accessible distance from here. Some are further away than others. I tick along merrily most days getting on with what needs getting on with, but there are occasional slumps - we all have them (I think). On the other hand one of the best friends a person can have in the world will be here visiting from Canada in less than a month. That's something to look forward to.

And then there are you guys. All of you are my Favourite Thing Friday, because of your kindness, lovely comments, humour and generosity. You brighten my days and widen my world. Can you believe that I got two more packages in the post today?! From the lovely Ceri - one of the fabulous Brit Bee girls who blogs over at Inspired By Felix and makes the most beautiful things that she sells (Yes! Sells successfully.) I got some more bird fabric. What is amazing is how little duplication there is in the wonderful donations I have received for my Birdies quilt.

I love that bird in the upper right hand corner!

The other package was from another of my friends made when I joined Brit Bee - the wonderful Sarah who can be found at Narcoleptic in a Cupboard. Sarah is having a QAL very soon and I am doing it. It is called Stained Pink - though my quilt will not be either stained nor pink - I will be using her pattern. I got two donations from Sarah and her mum (that just makes me smile even more) for the bird quilt.

All those empty bird cages that have been escaped from. Perfect.
And the colours in the purple fabric are so cool!

And a donation to my HR quilt too.

(What more can I say?!)
You'll just have to imagine the stupid grin on my face.

A huge thank you to Ceri, Sarah and Sarah's mum. You guys are the best and I hope you'll let me know when you have a specific theme for a quilt that you could use some help with.

I have been blogging for just short of a year and I can't imagine how I got by without all of you before. It was a lonely sewing existence. The support received is nothing short of amazing, and I hope I manage to give some of that back. In an effort to spread the love (so to speak) I made something to pop in the post for someone else today.

A little needle book.
Which would have had more perle stitching in lime,
if I hadn't run out of that colour of thread.
Simple, but colourful and fun.
This will be popped into the post. I would like to say today but it looks like I have left it too late as the school run needs doing. But I hope it makes the recipient smile the way the kindness of so many has made me smile.

Thank you for being my Favourite Thing Friday. You've made my week a much cheerier one by stopping by here. As usual with FTF, I will be linking this up with Shay over at Quilting in My Pyjamas and will be having a look at what is making other people happy this Friday.

And for you Mouthy Stitchers out there - I have spent a good part of my day doing partner allocations. Oh, it is going to be so much fun! Hope you are ready to receive your partner this weekend. Because it is coming whether you are ready or not!


Thursday 19 January 2012

Resolved to Sew

I spoke about Resolved to Sew the other day because Ali is having one of the best giveaways ever over at Very Berry Handmade. But she is also giving us an extra chance to win if we talk about our sewing plans for 2012. So it would be silly not to take Ali up on her offer of another chance to win because I would love to win this.

But quite frankly, even if I didn't get first choice, all her prizes from the wonderful sponsors are brilliant and I would do a little happy dance if any of them came my way.

Since I did Sarah's Winter Sewing List and Rhonda's Finish-a-Long you have a good idea what my aims are for the next few months. But I will talk about them some more and about further plans in the year.

(1) I will finish Emily's quilt before the end of this month. (I have my fingers crossed behind my back just in case there is a slight delay.)

(2) I will make One for the Birds, my Favourite Fabrics quilt (in Sarah's Stained Pink design), and my Heather Ross Fan Club quilt this year. At least one of these quilts will be for me, me, me! I have yet to make a quilt entirely for myself and it is time.

(3) I will write a proper tutorial and it will work. Enough said!

(4) I will spend less time on the computer and more time sewing. I need more balance!

(5) I will be involved in the organising of more swaps (Mouthy Stitches being part of this goal) and I will enjoy the process and stress less.

(6) I will start my Christmas sewing now, not in November and avoid putting myself in a blind panic and being exhausted for Christmas Day.

(7) I will eat less chocolate. I have to! It's getting out of hand. Really!

That's enough. If I make lists too long I start to panic and procrastinate rather than get on with it because I end up intimidating myself. We wouldn't want that to happen.

Meanwhile I have had more happy post. Jan from Isisjem and I got emailing about my One for the Birds quilt and she quite liked the idea. She found that she had a number of bird fabrics too. I suggested that we do some swapping so that we each had more birds and before you could say 'yes' she had a package in the post for me. (No, I haven't sent hers yet because I am useless like that!) Look what I got!

Lovely card with the package!
Birds, birds and more birds.
I love those birds on a chair prints. Love!
Look what else Jan sent.
Some contributions to my HR quilt. Sqeeeeeee!
And chocolate! Died and gone to heaven here.

You can't say happiness for a quilter more than fabric you love. And with that in mind I got on with cutting the charm squares for the Over the Rainbow Charm Square Swap - Rounds One and Two - because I didn't want to miss out on any good fabric! All cut and ready to send off to Emily now. Tick that box off my list.

California Dreamin' for the pink.
Enchino for the purple.
I'm rather pleased with myself today because I have also finished doing a good old clean of the house the past two days. If you dropped by right now you would have the rare opportunity of not finding me mortified to let you in. It won't last long but it is nice while it lasts!

Theoretically I should be sat diligently working out the partner assignments for Mouthy Stitches right now. But I did have to get these other things done and out the way so I could concentrate.