30 September 2011

Every cloud has a silver lining

My poor husband has been virtually bedridden since Sunday.  His back "went" after spending the day raking and sewing grass seed, then raking again.  Ironically I couldn't do much as my back was hurting!   Afterwards he bent down to stroke the dog, stood up, and "bang" it went.   The downside is that I have to do double chores - all of my chores plus dog walking, and  god forbid, cooking.

The upside is that he has been in bed since, and as he is taking quite strong painkillers, he is virtually out of the game.  Which means, once the chores have been done (quickly and badly) I can do pretty much what I like.   Which means I've been sewing.  All day Tuesday, all Wednesday night and all last night.  So, for the first time ever I feel like I have achieved something.

Number 1

My Happy Days quilt is nearing completion. 

I spent most of the day on Tuesday quilting it.  I was undecided what to do.  I was going to straight line quilt on the diagonals, but in all honesty, there are a few very thin seams in places, and I felt they needed a bit of all over support.   Bit like me really!   A normal meandering FMQ didn't seem to suit, so I thought I'd have a go at a square boxey meander.   And I really enjoyed doing it.  I think it's worked quite well, although the quilting isn't perfect!  Where I got a bit over-excited, some of the angles aren't quite 90 degrees!

But I think it looks good with the angles of the windmills.  And by the end of the day I also managed to get the binding machine stitched on, so just got to hand stitch it, make a label and it's done. 

Then on Thursday I thought I'd make a few blocks for Karen at listen to the birds sing .

She's going to make them into quilts to take out to  Thailand for some kids who've got entangled in the sex trafficking trade.   Read about it here.   There's another 4 part made.

Then finally, inspired by all the wonderful things folks have made for the goodie swap, I dug this out and finished it.

In case of doubt, it an organiser of sorts.  I bought this super Czech Magazine called Marina, which contained about 12 sewing projects which were really nice.   It was a breath of fresh air because it was the first time I had really seen anything approaching "modern" here in the Czech republic.  Only trouble was it was in Czech, and some of the instructions were a bit dubious, even for a czech friend who I checked with (no pun intended).   I started making it about 9 months ago,  when I was less experienced now (Ha di ha ha - one needle case and she thinks she's Martha Stewart!) and wouldn't have done everything the same

But wait, what is this .....?

Guess which numpty left this out when sewing around the edges?   Follow my eyes!  Never mind, I didn't like it anyway - it was a bit clumpy.  I'll see how I get on, but I don't think it needs a fastener anyway. 

So I've had a good week, and I'm off now to do a bit more!   Maybe some farmers wife?
As I've had such fun this week (with my goodie swap, a qiveaway win, and lots of successful sewing) I'm going to link up with Favourite things Friday over at Quilting in my Pyjamas

27 September 2011

I told you so.....

That it's a beautiful day.  I've had a fabulous day all in all.

First of all I've been sewing just about all day.  I've done a few chores (de-frosted the freezer, washing, skinning tommies). But mainly I've sewn,  but more of that later.

At around 11:00, after my coffee, I nipped down to the post box to see of the postie had left me anything.  And she had - in fact there were two parcels (and some bills of course!).  Do you want to see what they were?

In alphabetical order:

I have received the most beautiful Mug Rug and matching goodies from Leah at Sew to Bed.     Just look at this

Isn't it just wonderful.  The colours are sooo me, and the piecing is just perfect.   I did spot this on flickr and Leah dropped a hint that it would remind her partner of "the old country".  I was really hoping it was for me, but then I realised there is at least one more ex-pat in this swap, so I thought it may not be mine.  And guess what - it is mine!

It came together with these two goodies

Leah didn't send the tomatoes - they get everywhere at the moment

These are also beautifully made, and, quite by chance, they exactly match a box I have on my dressing table

How on earth did you know Leah?
The box currently holds bits and bobs of jewellry, but I think it's going to have to move to the sewing room! 

And here's a picture of everything together, including some rather nice iced biscuits (yep, i've eaten them already!) and a prized possesion, a Twix bar.

Thank you again Leah - this is the first swap I've taken part in and this is my first pressie.   I couldn't have asked for anything nicer!

And the second parcel.  Well that was a prize I won from Karen at McGinty & Me.  

5 gorgeous fabrics from Lila Tueller's Santorini range , plus a book on organising a craft space (how useful is that going to be?) all wrapped up with some alphabet tape.   I think these fabrics will go well with some of these

and some of these

to make a quilt for our bed.   Thanks again Karen.

Well that's about me done now - I have made great progress today on my Happy days quilt, but that can wait for another day.  I think this was enough excitement for one day!   Thanks again to Leah and karen for making my day.

It's a beautiful day

Today is my day off work.  It's 8 o'cock, and I have walked the dogs, put the bins out, ministered to a sick hubby who is stuck in bed with a bad back, and after a few chores (which will be done in record time)  I will be sewing a bit.   But as I was sitting on the front steps enjoying my cuppa, the early morning sun and mist over the vines was so nice I took a photo to share it with you.

That led me onto taking a few photos of the garden.  We've not had a garden post for a while, so those allergic to all things gardening, look away now!

The patch of grass that I sewed earlier on was a dismal failure, so we re-seeded two weeks ago and this time it rocketed up

The tommies are almost done now, but we had tonnes over the summer.  Well, what do you expect with 30 plants?

The flowers mainly did well.  The zinnia and comsos have been brilliant, despite getting no water whilst we were on holiday and the temperatures were in  the mid to high 30's.  However the dahlia and lavatera didn't fair so well, and somewhere in there is a row of margeurites which lost out in the competition with the cosmos!

We've planted a spirea "hedge"
 and started a rockery, to hold this little slope together (hopefully)

The grass (not sure the name of it) under the kitchen window has been glorious

And the lemon grass I brought home from my sisters in Portugal has thrived, although I don't know if it'll make it through the winter

And finally I have potted up a couple of chrystanths and arranged a few obligatory gourds around them.   

These are the front steps where I drink my morning cuppa, if anyone would care to join me.

Notes for 2012
  • Don't go on holiday in August and expect things to survive!   We had a good sweet corn crop, but most of them were ready whilst we were away
  • No more brassicas
  • Leeks are probably not going to do any good here - they are still like spring onions, and they don't survive in the ground in a czech winter
  • Less is more - if we're talking tomatoes
  • Extend the dribble watering system.   Gets the water where it's needed and wastes very little.
  • Move the soft fruits to somewhere where I can see them, therefore remember to water them and pick the fruit!
Garden tour over then - off to skin some more tomatoes.

PS  The cat brought another mouse in this morning.  I dealt with this one!

25 September 2011

Normal service...

......Will be resumed shortly.  In the meantime, the words aren't flowing so a few pictures are called for.  You can write your own commentary if you like!

The two mug rugs for the 2011 Goodie Swap

Mug rug and goodie for partner 1

Mug rug and goodie for partner 2


Needle case for partner 2

Pumpkin pig

Pumpkin Caterpillar

Crochet lessons with friends

Flowers from the garden

Happy Days - quilt top finished

These need further explanations, but right now I have to go - the cat has just brought a live mouse into the kitchen.  Oh joy of joys!

Update on the mouse situation.  The cat quickly got bored leaving it to the dog to deal with!

16 September 2011

Favourite things Friday

Gosh it seems ages since I last did a Favourite things Friday post.  What with holidays, visitors, tomatoes and now peppers, I have neglected my blogging.   Apologies folks - normal service will be resumed when the garden is under control!

I was in the lounge this morning, admiring my mug rugs for the Goodie Swap 2011 (yes, pathetic isn't it!)  when this lady caught my eye

She's there every day, and to be honest most of the time, I don't notice her.  But from time to time, when I'm least expecting it, she catches me out.    She is a Royal Dalton "Balloon Lady"  and I have known her as long as I can remember.  She belonged to my gran, and used to live in her front room (for non-english or younger people, the front room was usually the best setting room, not to be used every day, but just on high days or holidays, or more often than not, never).  When I was little, my gran lived with us during the week, but went back to her own house at weekends.  During school holidays I spent every Friday afternoon with her there - my dad would drop us off at lunch time, we'd spend the afternoon together,  then we walked back over the river meadows to where my dad worked, from whence I was taken home.   When gran came to live with us permanently, the Balloon Lady moved to her new home in my gran's bedroom.    Over the years, my brother, sister and I developed a system of coloured dots which we would mentally apply to the underside of various items in my mum's house - red for me, blue for Dave and green for Jean.   We told my mum that we did this to avoid any problems when she died!  Fortunately mum saw the joke, and thankfully there was never any arguments between my brothers and sisters when the sad time came.   The balloon lady came to live with us and now sits happily on the wall unit in the lounge.   When she does catch my eye, I always remember mum and gran.  

It would be nice if I had someone to give it to who I knew loved the balloon lady as much as I do, but no- we have no children, and none of my nieces and nephews have ever shown any interest in her.    Hopefully one of them or their children will take her one day, and give her a good home.   So long as she stays in the family!

So that's my Favourite things Friday. Bit short on photos but when you have one photo of a balloon lady, you don't really need any more!  I suppose I could've shown you a photo of mum and gran, but they are old fashioned photos, so I would have to scan them at work.  Maybe another time!

For other Friday Favourites pop on over to Shay at Quilting In My Pyjamas.

10 September 2011

Goodie Swap

As a newbie to quilting and the blogging world, I have been keen to join in with a swap.  Well, half of me was keen, the other half kept telling me I didn't have time and I wasn't good enough.   But in a moment of weakness, on my return from holidays, when Sarah (you know, the one in the cupboard)  told me about this swap, organised by Cindy at Fluffy Sheep Quilting, I went straight over and joined up.   I think I was a little stir crazy, not having blogged or sewn for nearly 2 weeks, and knowing I wasn't going to get much done over the next week either.  It seemed reasonable - 2 mug rugs and 2 gifts in around  4 weeks.  But it didn't take long for the panic to set in - this happens to me a lot.  It never used to - I put it down to my age.  The focus of my panic was, in no particular order:

1.  I don't have time
2.  Everyone else will be better than me
3.  I can't design anything myself.
4.  It won't be good enough
5.  I don't have enough fabric
6.  My partners won't like what I've made

etc. etc.   You probably know the pattern.  Lying awake at 4 am waiting for inspiration is not what it's about is it?  So I applied myself to doing something concrete and positive, rather than worrying.  I started stalking, there learning the importance of telling the others about your self so that they can do the same.  I've not been very good about this though, and will improve next time I do a swap, I promise.

  I also looked through this little book which I bought in a charity shop for 99p when I was in the UK.

There are so many things in there that I would like to use in a quilt, but most have curvy bits, and I'm not up to curvy bits for other people just yet. For myself, I'll give it a try, but for others, no it's not fair!

But this one I thought I could use

So I pulled out a few colours, messed around a bit and came up with this

Charles Rennie Mackintosh - eat your heart out

Obviously it's still got to be bound, and it is straight, honest.  Well.... straighter than it looks here!   So what do you think partner No 1?
Then what to do for number 2.  Both of my partners have very similar tastes, so I was a bit stuck for colours.  I don't have a huge stash, but I managed to find a few similar but different, if you know what I mean.  I had a flick through some other books and came up with the idea of beach huts, which I thought sat very well with the colour scheme.   So here's number 2 waiting to be bound:

There also a little bit of applique there too, on the roofs - my first attempt ever.   So will this do for you partner number two?   Ooh that sounds nice, worth saying again.  Will this do for you partner number two.

So I think I have quelled my sewing demons for the time being.  I have made one little gift for my partner, which I will reveal another time.   Hopefully I can get some time this weekend to make the other one.   I have to get organised as we have visitors again next Sunday for a week.  I think I will be able to sneak in some hand finishing, but the machine will have to be put away again, and the dining room tidied (not to be used I'm sure but I have to make the effort!)

Last night we went to a "Dynobrani" in town which was good fun.  I tell you all about it later, but think pumpkin!

07 September 2011

Pay it forward

It seems ages ago that I joined in with Pay it forward with Jan at Janice Elaine Sews.   Jan had warned me something was on it's way to me, but it was really nice to find a surprise parcel nestling in the post box.    So what was my pressie?

A beautiful scraf.  I don't recognise the fabrice, but it is very pretty and sooo soft.

When it arrived on Monday, the weather was hot and sticky, and I was wearing a bikin top.   This is not a look I wish to share with the blogging world, therefore Ted stood in as a model.

But Ted is a smooth cookie and I don't think this look is for him.  So we had another photo shoot last night and came up with this slightly stiff picture of me modelling my new scarf

Sorry - a fashion model I am not.  And I hate having my photo taken.  But the scarf looks good.

So thaks Jan for my lovely gift.  And to my pay it forward recipient (there was only one who signed up), I haven't forgotten you!

PS this is the second time I have written this post - I somehow managed to delete the first!

05 September 2011

Happy Birthday Freddie

I see from Google that today would have been Freddie Mercury's 65th Birthday, so tonight we will raise a glass to the man, one of the best  voices ever to have lived (in my humble opinion).   I was lucky enough to see Queen live a couple of times, during the late 1970's, and I think you would have to go a long way to beat the show-manship.  I also screwed up buying tickets twice (1. forgot to sign the cheque 2. only added 1 admin charge not two) something for which I am never forgiven, and will no doubt be brought up again when we chat about him tonight over dinner! 

So Happy Birthday Freddie - you are missed!

03 September 2011

Favourite things Friday

The choice for this post is dead easy.  I have a cardboard box full of fabric that was delivered to my friend in the UK, which I collected when I was over there.  I did splurge a bit, but I must've saved about £20-30 on postage, and I've never bought much before.   I bought with a few future projects in mind, some neutral mixers, some fun stuff, and some just because.....!   So let the fun begin

I bought this one with a quilt for our bedroom in mind.  I like this a lot, but it is a bit bluer than I thought.
Free Spirit Blossoming

I bought this one for the same quilt but once you put them together, I can see it doesn't work

Amy Butler Love
This one I bought for a quilt for the spare room.  I have an old silk panel at the window which has a lot of orange and blue.  Not too sure now but there are a lot of good fillers in it

Nottinghill by Fabric Freedom

Some yellows to go into the Farmers wife quilt

I have loved this fabric from the moment I saw it, and want to make a skirt.   So I treated myself to a metre to see if it's as good as I thought.  I have no idea why I thought a metre was a good idea - not enough to make a skirt but I could have just bought a FQ instead.   Never mind, I love it, and if I could remember where I bought it, I may get some more!

Nancy Mimms Organic Daisy
 Again, bought with my bedroom quilt in mind.  Nothing like the others!
In the beginning by Adelaide

Again I love this one, and it was in the sale so I treated myslef.  I have a friend who's daughter is expecting in December, so a quilt is on the drawing board for her.
Milli and me Little Menagerie

  No idea what to do with this but I love it!

Monkey Bizness Goo Goo Socks by Alexander Henry
 Some neutral fillers

I bought these to go in the Cathedral windows cushion cover I started.  But I have to take it apart and start again because I ran out of white and the replacement is a different colour. Idiot!
Riley Blakes Alphabet Soup - Green Beads and Green Circles
  I don't know what this is but I liked it and it was in the sale.

Add caption
And finally some kiddie stuff because I like making baby quilts - the one on the right is flannel.  I really want to back a quilt in flannel and this is beautiful
Dino Dudes from Michael Miller ,
Monkey Bizness Goo Goo Socks by Alexander Henry
Riley Blakes Flowers (Flannel)

So there you go, everything fabric wise that I bought.  I now see that the one's I bought to go together don't, which is a bit of a pig, and the range of fabrics is a bit random but I'm sure I'm not the first to do this.  If you buy from different shops on-line, you only have in your mind what the colours are like, and in reality they are different.   That's why I'm a fan of buying from the one range.   Also, if I could take them into a real shop, I could match some other fabrics with them, but that's not going to happen.  But they are good bases for adding to in the future......

All but one of the shops presented everything beautifully - I think you can see which ones look like they were thrown in the bag.   I know it doesn't matter because they get ironed, but it is nice to receive something nicely folded, tied with a ribbon and a little card!
Well that's all for my favourite things friday, which once again is a Saturday.   I started yesterday evening, but then a friend came round for a barbie and it never got finished.   Have a good weekend.  I have to go in to work today to prepare the office for my new assistant starting on Monday (Yipee).  Then we have to dig up a tonne of potatoes, but I am determined to grab a bit of time to get on with my mug rugs for the goodie swap.