Friday, December 31, 2010

Year of the tops...

Just what have I been up to in 2010?  I'm just a little miffed with myself!  I'm absolutely shocked to see how few things I completed in 2010..though I know I've been sewing up a storm?!  This is it... 8 things..not even 8 quilts..just 8 things completed in 2010!


Well I know I'll do better next year..in fact I suspect I'll even beat that record by February! You know why?! Because 2010 has been the year of the tops. I have been sewing up a storm of tops and flimsies and as it stands I have 8 quilts ready to be basted and quilted for Project Linus... 2011 should fair better for finishes!

Shame on me!

(Rant and pep talk to myself over) :o)

Until next time...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas Poem (A Quilters' Version)


'Twas the Night Before Christmas Poem
(A Quilters' Version)


T'was the night before Christmas and all through the house,
The only one sleeping was a Quilter's dear spouse.
The Log Cabin stockings were almost completed,
"Just a few stitches left," our sweet quilter repeated.

"Then I can hang them and head off to finish
the pillows I'm making, fulfilling Mom's wish
For something quilted to put on her couch and spoke,
as she pricked her poor finger, our quilter said, "Ouch!"

When from out in the kitchen there arose such a crashing,
she sprang from her work, and she dropped all her sashing.
Away to the doorway she flew like a plane,
wondering just what was happening and who she would blame.

When what to her wondering eyes should appear,
but Old Mrs. Claus and her bag of quilt-gear...
With her elves bearing gifts, through the kitchen she came,
she directed and pointed and called them by name.

"Now Elna, now Pfaff, now Bernina and Viking,
the Hoffman and Mumm should be just to her liking.
To the sewing room - there, it's just back of the hall,
now dash away, dash away, dash away all!"

"My Dear," said The Claus (as she liked to be called),
"There really is no need to worry at all.
Your projects will all be completed this night,
I'm terribly sorry we gave you a fright."

"Sit down. Have some tea. It's relaxing, you'll see.
My friends and I've come a long way to help Thee."
She thought she was dreaming, our dear Quilter did,
In fact she quite feared that she near flipped her lid!

But the flash of the needles and twist of the thread
soon gave her to know she had nothing to dread.
They spoke no more words, but went straight to their sewing.
How the work went so quickly she had no way way of knowing.

The stitches, how fine! The corners, how straight!
This Claus-woman's talent was awfully great.
They finished the pillows, then started to quilt.
Before they all knew it, the whole thing was built!

Now old Mrs. Claus, she knew quilters real well,
and she knew they'd need help on this night most of all
So she said to our quilter, "Just move over dear,
I've brought my own needle. We'll get done, never fear.

I told dear old Santa about what quilters do.
How they plan all these projects but have other work too.
So he taught me his magic for doing things fast.
There, that pillows done. Now this is the last.

They tidied their thread snips, and picked up the scraps
and chased our dear quilter's six cats from their laps.
As they scurried away with their thimbles still gleaming
dear Mrs. Claus paused, her cap ribbons streaming.
"Merry Christmas, my dear, now just have a ball!"

{Poem by: Brenda Groelz, Kathy Rockbugs, Marilyn Root, Cindy Swafford}


Merry Christmas!!

Until next time...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A story from Christmas past...

There are certain foods that just say "Christmas" and in our family that is Buche de Noël... or Christmas Log.  Many years ago when I was a teenager I made this recipe which was included at the bottom of an ad for Fry's Cocoa.  It was such a hit that forever after I was asked by my family to make it on a yearly basis.  One Christmas, 20 years ago in fact, I had a rather unfortunate series of events take place and the cake almost didn't get made.  It is a rather funny tale, so grab a cup of tea or some eggnog and come for a stroll down memory lane.



It was the first year that I was in my own place and I suppose in an effort to be organized and to keep a good home, I decided that I would keep my dry ingredients in mason jars.  All lined up on the counter they stood... flour, sugar, salt, oats...  I felt organized and prepared to make the annual Buche de Noël.  I preheated the oven, combined the ingredients to make the cake, and while the cake was being baked I prepared the whipped cream based frosting... I took the cake from the oven, and rolled it in a tea towel as instructed.  I was so excited to be making this Christmas dessert in my place... and I think in my excitement I rushed the process slightly and forged on to ice the cake... only the cake wasn't quite cool enough and as I iced the cake, the whipped cream melted!  There in front of my eyes was a disaster in the form of a chocolate melted mound!

Not to be put off, I went to the shop to buy another set of ingredients for a second cake.  This time I would be careful... take my time and not rush the process.  The second cake was made, rolled and cooling.  The second batch of frosting was made and waiting for the cake to cool... this time it would be perfection.  With the cake completely cooled I iced the cake.  The lush whipped cream frosting made with sugar and Tia Maria was probably the best part of the cake!  As I poured the frosting over and carefully spread the last of the icing into place I left a dollop in the bowl as a treat.  There the cake was made and as I took my finger to lick the last of the delicious frosting from the bowl.....ACKKK!  Yuk! Whoooa... that tastes terrible!  What did I do wrong?  How can it be?  Oh no, I had put salt instead of sugar in the frosting!  ...and thus cake #2 was placed in the bin and once again I was faced with disaster and another trip to the store.

Most people would have given up... thrown the towel in... called it quits, but determined I was not to be beaten by the Fry's Cocoa cake, I proceeded to try again!  A third batch of frosting and a third cake in the oven... surely this would be the end of the disaster streak... right?! ....Wrong!  Can you guess what happened?  No, I couldn't believe it either, but the element in my oven decided it could go on no more and blew.  There in the oven stood a half burnt / half raw cake...and thus cake #3 went in the bin.

So with frosting #3 in the fridge, and no cake to frost, I figured I might as well carry on.  After the repair man fixed the oven, a fourth cake was made and cooled.  The frosting was ready and tested for salt content.  Finally the Buche de Noël was complete! 

I haven't made the Buche de Noël many times since that fateful Christmas... in fact I've probably told my story more!  But this year, I geared up the courage to dust off the recipe and I'm very pleased to say I got it right the first time!

If you fancy a go yourself... here is the recipe (courtesy of Fry's Cocoa)

Fry's Swiss Roll


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  Beat eggs in a small bowl until thick and lemon coloured.  Gradually beat in the sugar.  Stir in water and vanilla.  Blend in sifted dry ingredients at lowest speed on mixer.  Spread batter in a greased and waxed paper lined 15" x 10" x 3/4" jelly roll pan.  Bake in preheated 375ºF oven for 12 minutes.  Invert cake immediately onto tea towel dusted with cocoa.  Peel off paper.  Roll up cake and towel together, starting at short end.  Cool on wire rack seam side down.  Makes one cake.

Frosting

Combine 2 cups of whipping cream, 1/2 cup of cocoa, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of coffee or chocolate liqueur.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Whip cream until softly stiff.  Unroll cake, and spread 1/2 the whipped cream over cake.  Re-roll cake and frost with remaining whipped cream. Garnish as desired.

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas...

Fresh from the oven...mince pies!  I sure wish there was a way you could smell these mince pies... the cinnamon, cloves and that lovely baked goodies smell!


But better than that...there is only one way I could be baking...and that's in a functioning kitchen!  Woo Hoo!  Last weekend my very sweet DH put the last of the counter tops in and on Monday I was able to move the food and dishes into their new home.  We still have tiling and wallpapering to do, but that can all wait until January.  For now we are going to focus on the children and the holiday season.

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Walking in a Winter Wonderland....

The United Kingdom has been experiencing a deep freeze for the last week or so..not great for driving, but fabulous for pictures... 
The place looks straight out of Narnia.



By this morning there was over 24 hours of crystallised frost on the tree branches and as the sun came out they sparkled!



Even the most delicate spider webs had a special coating of "icing sugar"



And like lethal spikes, the trees had thorns of ice!  (This is a lilac tree!)



It made for stunning views!





I went to Christmas lunch with the laaadddies (said in your poshist voice!)..and this was the view from the golf house.  We couldn't have asked for more perfect seasonal views!



(BTW, in other news..I came home from my lunch to see that the kitchen counter has been installed!  Yeah!...this kitchen might not be finished for Christmas, but it will be functional!)

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday on a cold December morning...

We've been stringing cranberries and popcorn to decorate the evergreens in the garden....It's beginning to look a lot like....


...Christmas!


Until next time...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winner of my giveaway!

In an effort to be more creative in choosing a winner, I printed the numbers 1 through to 96 for all the comments and then handed the sheet of paper to my daughter to circle the number of her choosing.
DD2 chose #42 which is ...



Siobhan from Scraps and Threadtales!

What a fitting winner..Siobhan is a long time reader and has shown me great support over the years!
Congratulations!! Send me your details and I'll get your prize in the post!

Until next time...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

4 years...has it really been that long...

On Novemebr 22nd, 2006 I wrote my very first blog post.  I had no idea at the time that I would keep the habit up for more than a month let alone 4 years!  I started a blog really as an online journal of my creative process and didn't expect that it would be anything more.  How wrong I was!!  Through the marvel of the internet and blogging I have been introduced to the world of photography and introduced to quilters from around the world.  The biggest surprise of all though, was that I've been comforted in knowing that my creative process is much like yours..one patch at a time. 

Without you, the readers, this online creative space wouldn't be worth doing and I owe a lot of gratitude for each and everyone of you that come by and read my ramblings.  I appreciate you following me and coming back time and time again.  I appreciate the friendship you have given me and the support and kindness when life has thrown the odd curve ball.  I great BIG thank you to you all!  

To celebrate I'm having a giveaway!  I've only managed to put 2 things together for a picture, but I can assure you I'll be adding more to the pile.



To enter for your chance to win a 2011 V & A Calendar, 4 fat quarters of batik fabric and a slew of other goodies comment on this post. 
Anyone can enter as long as I have a way of contacting you.
(Leave your email address in your comment if you don't have a blogger account.)
One entry per person please.

I will choose a winner next Monday, November 22nd at 12 noon (GMT)

Comments now closed...Winner to be announced soon!

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kitchen revamp...

As you know we are in the midst of a complete kitchen renovation.  I wasn't sure if I had the nerve to share pictures as it is a bit like airing one's dirty laundry, but after this weekend and seeing the first signs of the new kitchen I just couldn't hold back. 

We live in a typical 1930's semi detached and at some point in the past one of the owners took it upon themselves to knock through to the old coal shed and make the kitchen bigger.  (you can see from the position of the beam half way through the room where the original wall was.)  As a result of this modification the kitchen always felt like two halves and I'm hoping that with the design I've planned out that the kitchen will feel more like one room and have a better flow to it.  The DH and I pulled out the old units and early last week we had the nicest electrician come and install all the new sockets.  (If you are in the Rugby area and need an electrician let me know..I can recommend a good one!)

This first picture is the sink area after we had removed the wallpaper...

Before


This is what we found behind the unit...yuk  You can see the shadow where the old Belfast sink would have been...

The messy in-between stage


And the first units with the new Double Belfast sink from Ikea...

Almost After

We still have A LOT more work..not to mention installing the rest of the kitchen and the finishing touches, but I just wanted to share this sneak peak.
Many thanks to my DH and his Dad for all the hard work this weekend installing the sink.  I know how much work it was and I really appreciate it!!!

Until next time...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Delayed Bonfire night pictures and a bit of quilting...

Things have been quite busy around here lately and what free time I've had, I've been using to sew. 
Last weekend was bonfire night and like every year we had sparklers and fireworks.



These aren't the best pictures...but they give you a small taste.

I quite like this one and the funky lens flare...I couldn't get that if I tried!



This week I sewed up the strips from Lynda for Project Linus and made up the blocks for this quilt.  I've opted for setting B, with the only difference that it will be a setting of 5 blocks by 5 blocks.  It's all in gentle pinks so it will be perfect for a girl.  It is so easy to make girl quilts, so my plan after this latest lot of quilts for Lynda is to work on some designs for boys.  I'll let you know how I get on.


Until next time...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Happy November...

It wasn't my intention to take so long to post after Halloween, but this week seems to have run away from me.  I suspect it might have something to do with the fact that we have completely gutted our kitchen this week and I've been a little distracted with deliveries and all.  Luckily this hasn't slowed my sewing down much and really it has been my stress buster activity during it all.  The sewing hasn't been too complicated...just crumb blocks.  I now have a nice stack of red, blue, green and yellow ones which will eventually make 3 quilts for Project Linus.



Speaking of Project Linus.  Remember this post?  From computer to fabric here is the top!  I'm really thrilled with how closely this matches its computer counterpart.  I grabbed this quick pic of it this morning, but had to do some careful editing to conceal the almighty mess in the background.  Anyone that has every renovated their kitchen must know what I'm on about! LOL
Until next time...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween...

Hope you have a fun and safe Halloween!  This is one of the pumpkins we are going to carve.  I snapped this picture when the sun was glimmering over the first frost one morning just over a week ago.  The light was perfect and it would have been great to use the opportunity to snap the children, but they were at school so the pumpkin has to stand in :o)



Until next time...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Another Vintage Finish

It's been a good month for finishes. Yet another vintage sheet quilt is complete. This time one for the youngest daughter, affectionately known as DD2.  It is a simple quilt of squares.  You might remember it from here.  Vintage sheets are so pretty that I feel they need very little to make them look good.



The quilting was straight lines 1/4" on each side of the seam and it was a very quick means of holding it together.









I love how it turned out and I hope DD2 enjoys several years cuddling under it!


Until next time...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One of those days...

Yesterday was one of those days..you know the kind...the kind where by 9 p.m. you've had enough and it is simpler to go to bed and try again in 10 hours.  It all started when I noticed a little drip drip coming from the bottom of my car...an oily drip drip to be precise.  The DH being knowledgeable about such things suggested that it might be worth taking it to the garage just to see if it could be fixed.  By late afternoon the garage had called, we could pick up my car, it was a simple repair..happy days!  Now I have a bit of an unspoken agreement with my DH...when my car gets fixed, he drives it home, while I drive his home and then when we arrive he gives me the all clear..the "yes dear, the car is fine, drives lovely...you'll be safe" kind of conversation.  My husband left the garage first and after I got myself turned around I was heading home too.  Imagine my surprise when I came upon my DH shivering on the side of the road with my car broken down....obviously something wasn't right, but my husband the sweet, sweet man that he is, said.."go home dear, I'll take care of everything and see the car back to the garage."  My DH rarely brings me flowers (mainly because they make him sneeze) but when it comes to the cars he is Mr. Romantic...well as romantic as it can be and sees to the cars and that I have one that is safe to drive... :o)

The good news is that the garage rescued my DH, saw he had a means of getting home and fixed my car...again.  I got it back this morning and upon my return from collecting the car this large box was there waiting for me... :o)  From yesterday when it seemed that we'd be faced with the possible doom and gloom of car repairs to today when all was fixed and I had a lovely box to open.



As soon as I saw the box I knew what it was.  I was the winner of the Fall-o-ween Blog Hop...and this was the prize.



I just have to say a HUGE thank you to all the designers that contributed to the Blog Hop and for all the goodies in the box.

Gudrun ~ GE Designs
Sandy ~ Pieces From My Heart
Roseann ~ Rosebud's Cottage
Kari ~ New Leaf Stitches
Terry ~ Terry Atkinson Designs
Heather ~ Anka's Treasures (Trends and Traditions)
Terri ~ Whimsical Threads
Carrie ~ La Vie en Rosie
Linda ~ Linda Lum DeBono Designs
Pat ~ Pat Sloan's Designs

It may be pouring rain outside, but my car is back and I have all these lovely goodies to look at.
Thank you soooooo much!!!!



Until next time...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Zig-zag fun...

I've been getting a few quilts finished around here...ok truth is, I've also started a few too! so the list isn't getting any shorter! :o)
This week I managed to finally finish the quilting on this zig zag quilt for Project Linus.  I used this tutorial from Crazy Mom Quilts.  It was so much fun to put together and made a really cheery quilt.



I machine quilted it in bright green thread echoing the zigs and zags by a 1/4" on each side of the seams.



I couldn't stop at one...so I made another using vintage sheets.  This is the same technique, but slightly different dimensions.  You might recall me hand quilting this back here.  This one is for DD1 and I barely got it washed when it was pressed into service.  Like so many, DD1 came down with a cold this week and had the best cure in the form of a new quilt to curl under with a good book and some tissues!



Until next time...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Spider

Be forewarned this is an up-close and personal picture of a spider..but just too good not to share.  It is the same spider shown in this post..just taken with a different camera (Fujifilm F30 on macro setting - the flower setting)



Until next time...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Getting back to basics...

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks...that may be true, but you can certainly teach an old quilter a new trick or two!  (Disclaimer: Not that I or any of my friends that are embarking on this journey are old!!! LOL ...just had to clear that up in case they are reading!)  

You've heard me mention my evening sewing group before that Lynda and I attend once every 2 months and the challenges that we've tried before in an attempt to improve our quilting skills.  Well after a bit of a wobbly start in 2010, we decided that our new challenge over the next 2 years would be to work our way through some of the blocks in the Lynne Edwards' New Sampler Quilt Book.  I was very lucky to obtain a copy, as I can see looking at Amazon that getting this particular copy is near impossible, however it looks like she has a new version out..if you are interested.

In case you aren't familiar with Lynne's book, the suggested method of assembly is to quilt-as-you-go.  I could make this quilt in the traditional manner, but as this is an exercise of trying new things and working outside my comfort zone I will be following Lynne's advice to the letter.  Something that is very hard for me to do considering that I like to change and modify things on a regular basis.

We started our journey with the Delectable Mountains block.  I have to admit this is one of my least favourite quilt blocks, but I'm rather pleased with the results.  I have decided to do a mixture of machine and hand quilting so in the next few week I will add some quilting to this block in the open areas.



The second block was 3D flying geese.  I have used this method before for 3D bow ties and was really impressed with how easy it was to put this block together.



Can you see the little pocket?  Just the place to tuck in a secret note.



And just to make things even more productive...I've decided to make 2 blocks each time we meet...the second set will be made in homespun fabrics.  I think it will be really interesting to see how different these 2 quilts will look once they are done.




Until next time...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Some pictures for Almost Wordless Wednesday...

This past weekend, the DH and I.... ok mostly the DH... trimmed the hedges in the garden.  We had beautiful weather and it was the perfect opportunity to give the garden a final once over before the weather takes a turn.  One thing we weren't expecting to see was the massive amounts of ladybirds on the branches.  Now anyone that has a 7 year old will know that these little creatures are to be saved and managed at all costs....so with that in mind my DD2 "rescued" over 100 ladybirds from the branches set for the tip and moved them one by one to the sunflower.  I, of course, saw this as a photo opportunity!


The DD2 was quite happy to have several ladybirds crawling around her arms...that was until one flipped over and she let out a blood-curdling scream.  Seems she can handle it fine when they are "cute", but as soon as she saw the legs and the black underbelly they suddenly reverted back to being BUGS! LOL



Lastly I wanted to share a pic I grabbed during the week..It is of a spider and her web..just so you are warned, but I love the way the sun made the web twinkle after a rain shower.  I must be mad as I was going about my business when my brain put 2 and 2 together and realized that the rain plus the sun would make for pretty pictures.  I dropped everything and ran for the garden.  I'm glad I did as I love this picture...spider and all!



Until next time...

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Ideas for scraps...Part 2

For my second scrap quilt idea from the strips of scraps.  I plan to sew the remaining strips into colour families or in some variation of coordination.  Once the strip sets are 9 1/2" wide I will then cut those strip sets vertically into 6 1/2" pieces.  Using either strips that are in my 2" bin (that is if I have enough) or using yardage.  I will sew to each side a strip that is 2" wide (shown as the dark blue fabric)  Once pressed this block will measure 9 1/2".  I have come up with 4 settings and I'm curious which one is your favourite...

I could make 36 blocks and put them in a straight set (6 by 6) Let's call this Quilt A


Again 36 blocks (6 by 6) but alternating the rotation... Let's call this Quilt B


On-point Let's call this Quilt C


On-Point with a Twist Let's call this Quilt D

Amazing how many variations you can get with one block...so come on, which is your favourite? 

Until next time...