Monday, 20 December 2010

Christmas is Cancelled this year

Well my lack of Christmas spirit sunk to new lows over the weekend.

One of my aunts who has been ill for some time was taken into hospital on Friday. On saturday we got more snow and I was unsure about travelling in to central London to see her at St Thomas'. Thankfully I did as she passed away in the afternoon with two of her sisters, myself, one of her many nephews and a close friend.

She had been put on a ventilator and we had  "the talk" with a doctor who looked about 12 about removing her from it. He was very good though and it was the right thing to do.

She never married or had kids but she had a partner. However he can't handle anything at the best of times so now I am sorting the funeral and her possessions out with my Mum and another Aunt. The phone lines are busy between London and Limerick, its almost going to be a funeral by committee as so many people want a say about what is happening. We will have a cremation in the New Year and then take the ashes back to Ireland to bury later but some people over there think we should take her body back which would elevate it to a whole new level of complication!

On top of that, more snow is forecast and I'm supposed to be going out to the country for my dinner of Christmas Day. I can't see us being able to make it so I want to get somethings in for my Mum and Myself if we can't!

I am not really going to be commenting or anything on any blogs until things get straight but I will probably browse when I need to get my sanity back and relax.

Take care and I hope your Christmas' are peaceful and drama free.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Christmas Spirit

BAH HUMBUG.........

.....wait for it........

The only Christmas Spirit I'm feeling at the moment is in a vodka bottle! (Unopened I may add in case you are worried I have a problem!)

Saturday, 11 December 2010


Bloody sodding workman!

Why oh why did I get this bit of work done? Why? Why? Why? Or at least by this muppet who was recommended to me. A few odd jobs! Thats all I'm getting done and he has trashed my house.

I can't even get from one room to another without tiptoeing over tools and boxes and cables and boots! Boots! Why are there workboots in the middle of the hall? He's wearing some, why did he need a spare pair?

There was less mess in the house when I had three men fitting a new kitchen!


Sunday, 5 December 2010

Finally some finishes

Being snowed in for nearly a week has had one advantage, I've got my sewing mojo back and finished a few things.

This little baby quilt is only 32in square and made from bits of scraps I had. Three of the centre patches were made months ago and then sat in a corner ever since. Even the backing and binding were scraps and the wadding was a right hodge podge of bits. I used spray glue to baste and it worked really well with the scraps of wadding to keep them in place. I'm still trying to use up the pinkish thread I bought for the Loony Limerick Ladies quilt and as I can't get it to work with freemotion I used the walking foot to make the wavy lines. I really like how these look quilted.

Next I finished off another scotty dog from 2.5 inch square scraps. Again, he's been nearly finished for months but just needed a bit of work. He was also stuffed with scrap wadding, the bits that were too small to save for anything else.

Here he is playing on the stairs with the one I finished earlier in the year. Much cleaner than real puppies running around the house.

I also made up three more penants for the Olympics from sample patches and other scraps.

This first one I used to practise my freemotion echo quilting, it was hard and not perfect close up but from a distance it looks okay.

I used close straight lines on this one and love the texture, but it wouldn't be good on a full size quilt as it would take forever and wouldn't be very snuggly. Ideal for this though.

This last one I used the wavy lines on a diagonal. I'm not sure about the abstract nature of it, the circles ended up looking like a paw print!

I also noticed today that I had past the 100 posts mark. Can you believe I didn't notice til now? When I started blogging I never really thought I would keep it up so I am shocked I've got this far. Even better, the 100th post was for the October Bloggers Quilt Festival which is perfect as it was reading all the posts for the Quilt Festival in Spring and Autumn 09 that gave me the incentive to start this blog!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Favourite Things Friday

This week its candles. I love having candles burning in the house, although I am very careful about only having them on in the room I am in. On a cold winter even curled up in front of the telly with a glass of wine and the candles flickering is so cozy.

My current favourite one which I love in the bathroom when I am having a long soak with a good book and maybe another glass of wine (can you see the theme here) is this one in a tin. It has the most delicate scent, sweet and naughty which wafts around the room when burning. It also burns cleanly, I get really frustrated when candles are badly made and don't burn straight.

And who couldn't love the name - Fairy Dust!

For more Favourite Things head over to Mrs P at

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Snow days

On a day like this...

the only thing to do is stay in and enjoy these...

and these!

Even though Blogger is turning this pic upside down again.

Campy magic!

Went to see the new Harry Potter film on saturday and loved it, even though it was scary. They kept truer to the book than I expected, very few points where I thought, thats wrong. It was a lovely surprise.

I managed to get some bits of sewing done as well, nothing quite finished yet so I won't show but at least I felt I did something.

Yesterday in celebration(!) of getting another year older I went for the full on camp experience and went to see Priscilla the musical up the west end. Alf from Home and Away is in it! How funny is that? Bless him.

And then this morning, we have snow. Proper snow on the ground, in London, in November! Doesn't look good for the rest of the winter. And my builder is supposed to come today ... to do some work on the outside of the house! Fat chance of that I'm thinking!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Favourite Things Friday

More FTFs over at Mrs P's blog

This week its all about the feet. No! I do not have a foot fetish, but I love a foot massage.

I remember the first time I had reflexology at a spa day and it was the most wonderful thing! I am very ticklish and didn't expect to like it at all but I always try out a variety of treatments and Oh My!

I don't have it as often as I would like but if I'm at a spa its the thing I must have. I once had the most amazing man at Henlow Grange and I remember floating back to the room and telling my friend I wanted to marry Roger. All because he had done such wonderful things to my feet!

I'm not sure about the health benefits its supposed to have, I just love the feeling. I nearly always end up dozing off and I think drooling a little bit but I try to pretend that doesn't happen.

Unfortunately with the good comes bad and I've had one bad treatment. I was at a resort in Turkey for a week a few years ago and spent most of the day in the spa, it was far too hot for me at the beach. Well the guy doing it was a Russian Grant Mitchell (soap character for those that don't know Eastenders) and it was so painful! I was whimpering and trying to pull my feet away from him for the whole hour while he yanked them back.

Yet despite the pain, I didn't want to say anything! I didn't want to make a fuss! I know, I'm a pratt!

In spite of that experience it is still the best treatment I've ever had, I must get my act together and go and get a session booked soon.....

ps. not my foot in the pic, random image from the web.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Favourite Things Friday

Welcome to my FTF this week, for more head over to Mrs P at

Now let me take you back to the summer of 1977. Even though I was only 7 I loved reading and was onto books well about my age range. I remember seeing this book in a local newsagents and somehow my Mum bought it for me even though it wasn't a special occasion. I read it outside in the tiny square patch of grass that was our garden on the old sleeping bag we used as a picnic blanket. I was hooked.

Then - the film came out! Looking back, I still don't understand how I got the book before seeing the film but thats what happened. I loved it, but I had one weird moment that took me years to understand. At one point I had to pop to the loo, I was very young and at the end of the film I thought of a scene in the book that I hadn't seen, it must have been on when I went to the loo. I was a rational young lady. When I saw the film again (which I have many many times) that scene still wasn't there! It finally dawned on me that a film and book aren't always the same. What a shock, it felt like a big part of my childhood innocence fell away with that knowledge!

Anyway, back to the film. As I said I've seen it too often to count in all its various formats and re-issues. I've been back to the cinema fto see it and I've bought loads of versions on video and dvd. All the follow ups too, although no of them made such an impact on me as the first one.

I may be a bit of a dreamer, a fantasist or just plan geeky but I've never fallen in love with any other film like this.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Freeform Crochet

So my lack of oomph continues and nothing of interest is being produced here, however I was having a sort through some drawers and found my experiments in freeform crochet from over 5 year ago. Yes, they have been stuck in the drawer all that time!

I had lots of tiny bits of wool left of various types and plys and used to browse a lot of websites for inspiration. My favourite before the quilting obsession hit was, she produces the most amazing things.

I have a vague thought of making a wallhanging out of this lot one day, but in the unlikely even it ever gets finished I don't know how I will hang it and its bound to be a terrible dust trap!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Bonfire Night

Thank you all for your lovely comments about my Aunt on Fridays post, I was really touched.

After the sadness of friday, came the fireworks. Friday was 5th November, but most organised displays take place on Saturdays and one of the best in London is on Blackheath. Now as my Mum lives about 200 yards for one corner it is ideal and off we toddled to enjoy it. Thankfully, although it got cold it was dry and clear and as usual we really enjoyed the display.

I also finally got a bit of sewing done and put my scrap wonky stars together. All the points in the stars are from scrap and I've been piecing them throughout the year. I really love how they look together, there was no rhyme or reason to the layout, just put them together as they fell. The only thing I did was make sure two cream stars weren't next to each other. I know it would drive some people mad to have more of them in one half of the top but I just thought sod it. True randomness isn't even.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Favourite Things Friday

Head over to Mrs P for links to more FTFs at

Today, I want to share with you some of my favourite people. When I was a child my Mum didn't have the easiest time of it, she was a single parent with me and four stepchildren who all raised merry hell (them not me).

My Mum is from a huge family, she was no 11 of 13 and a lot of her sisters lived fairly close. My Auntie Kathleen and her husband Martin were always a wonderful sanctuary for me and I used to spend quite a lot of time with them, with my Mum and without.

I didn't really have many positive male role models around, but my Uncle Martin was the best man I've ever known. He was a quite, gentle man but strong in his convictions and values. I was always really happy to spend time with him and he always treated me like a person not as a nuisance. My Auntie Kathleen taught me to bake and always made a place for me in her home.

The picture above is me with them at one of their favourite places, along the river Thames near Sunbury. We often went for a walk down there.

Unfortunately, Uncle Martin came down with bowel cancer and died when I was 17 and he was in his early 60's. He was the first significant person to die in my life and I still miss him dreadfully. Auntie Kathleen carried on and never had any major illnesses until a few months ago when she had a stroke. She hadn't been able to talk, eat or really walk since.

Today, she was buried in the same grave as Uncle Martin and for the first time in 23 years they are together again.


Thursday, 4 November 2010

Another Quilt from Scraps

I'm still being very unproductive, with work and other stuff I'm not getting anything fun done so I thought I'll show you another one I made last year.

This was made from scraps left over from my Loony Limerick Ladies Quilt and I used them up in this Quilt which of course doesn't have a name. Its about 40 x 40 inches.

This cream osnaburg (I think that is what it is called) was the only solid I had and I like the way it went, it has a rusticy feel to it. I just sewed the little pieces together and the bigger pieces and then layed them out in a fairly similar way to make it look like I had actually designed it!!!

I did random straight line quilting all over which went quite wobbly in some places but when its on the wall its not very noticeable.

The binding is a batik that I used on the back of the Loony Limerick Ladies quilt and it looks like a solid, machine stitched as usual!

Even though they aren't my favourite colourway, I was really pleased with how it came out and it is hanging up on a bedroom wall.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Bloggers Quilt Festival

Amy's Creative Side - Blogger's Quilt Festival
Look at me, two posts in one day! I just knew if I didn't get this one done today I would probably forget and miss the deadline.
I'm showing a quilt that I blogged about fairly recently for two reasons. Firstly its one of the only ones I've managed to finish off this year and also because I'm so pleased with how it turned out.

I made the wonky stars out of Jessica Levitt Timber using scraps from another top I was working on and Kona coal. I then decided that I would use them for backing for that other top but when this one was all finished it seemed too good to just be a backing and after some feedback from my blogging friends I clicked my fingers and it was a top in its own right. Funnily enough the other top still hasn't been finished, its on my to-do pile along with a lot of others!
I love making wonky stars as they are so stress free, no need to worry about things matching. And they look so good with very little effort. The backing came from stash and the colour worked well with the front.
However the key thing I worked on with this one was the quilting. More to the point, scary difficult "Free Motion Quilting"! I challenged myself to really go for it as the quilt wasn't that big, 36 x 52 inches. And I quilting and I quilted and I quilted. I did different quilting in different parts of the blocks! First time for that rather than an all over squiggle!
Its far from perfect but I was so happy with how it turned out. Much much better than I thought it would when I started. But it was a lot of work, a lot of thread went into this little quilt! I lost track of how many times I changed the bobbin.
I even used up scraps for the binding and yes, I machine stitched this on, I hand stitched my first couple of quilts and then decided it was too much like hard work and am very happy with how it comes out after I practised it for a while.
This quilt still hasn't really got a name other than "Timber Grey Stars" but very few of mine have, nor does it have a label yet, but one day... maybe....

Favourite Things Friday

Check out Mrs P for more at

This week I'm going to tell you a story. Its not even a very interesting one but there you go!

A few years ago I had a new kitchen fitted, top to toe. Electrics, the works. The only thing that remained was my exisiting boiler which was about 5 years old. It had always been a bit of an eyesore in the old kitchen as it is tiny and I think the units in there were from the 60's.

So when I got my shiney lovely new kitchen the men fitted a big cupboard around the boiler and hide it so everything looked sleak and clean and fabulous.

Over the next couple of years everything went well, and then I notice some odd things happening with my heating system, the pipes were making strange noises. I found out that the boiler had a little fault with something called the pressure release value which is very common and over time it was venting steam and the system was loosing water. Simple, I was told, just top up the boiler with water. Fine I said, I'm not scared of doing that as I had to do it with my old one.

So I went to top it up with water, what did I discover? That I couldn't reach the F'ing tap is what. The men who had fitted my shiney new kitchen didn't leave enough space to put your hand underneath!

I tried to get the same men back, but they had gone out of business so tried to get someone else to come out and cut out a piece of wood from the cupboard. How hard can that be? Well BLOODY IMPOSSIBLE was the answer for months and months! With people not turning up and letting me down. Having to chase and chase workmen, no wonder I hate dealing with them as then always seem to make it so difficult.

The hot spring turned into the dank summer and then a freezing bloody cold autumn and still it wasn't done and I couldn't use my heating - at all!!!!!!!!  I went and bought electric fires and moved them with me from room to room as I needed them. Not nice having to get up at 4am with frost outside and scurry around the house!

But finally, on wednesday my favourite thing appeared, see in the picture at the bottom under the loose bit of wood? Thats a hole. That's THE FUCKING FANTASTIC FABULOUS HOLE that allows you to get your hand to the tap and fill up the system with water. And give me heat................

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Wonky Stars

I've used I some more scraps making these wonky stars. I just need to make one more 4 star block and I will have enough to make up into a full size top!

I'm really looking forward to see them all coming together as I've been working on them on and off all year.  Sorry the pic is a little bit blurry, I don't seem to be steady handed today.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Favourite Things Friday

I didn't know what to do this week, I have some ideas but they need more photos and I didn't have the omph to go and take them and then it dawned on me it was staring me right in front of my face.

This weeks FTF are my IPOD/ITunes combination.

When IPods first came out I coudn't see the fuss but eventually gave in with a model that looked like a brick compared to the ones these days. I labouriously ripped all my cds to ITunes and because my laptop was out of the ark it took about an hour for each one.

But it was worth it, I could take the Ipod away to work with me on overnight stays and be able to listen when stuck in hotels. Then I was able to use it while actually at work to keep out the noise around me and stay focused on what I was doing. 

Best of all I discovered Podcasts. Of course I could have them play just on the computer but I could listen to them in the hotel as well. I now subscribe to loads of them on all different subjects. Brilliant. I even use to listen to them in the car on the Ipod using the headphones when stuck in traffic. If you've never been stuck for 6 hours to move half a mile, let me tell you the best distraction to stop you going nuts is a lot of great comedy. And all these are free.

Eventually not only did my laptop and Ipod get upgraded but so did my car. I can now plug the Ipod straight into the car and listen through the speakers, yippee! I'm also carrying around in one little object my photo library as well as my music library. On top of that a few games have also helped while away the time when stuck alone in a hotel.

The thought of being without it now makes me shudder! How mundane life was before, how did we cope???

For more FTF check out Mrs P at

Sunday, 17 October 2010

More Scraps

I've finished the quilting on my charm squares, but I haven't decided what binding to use. I'll have to think about it for another while.

In the meantime I'm working on more scraps. I thought I had got on top of them a few months ago but I discovered another pile of them tucked away in my dining room.

I've got loads more 2.5 inch squares to use on my hexagons. The tub on the top left has my little tiny straps and on the right is triangles. I've sorted out a lot more strings into colours as well.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Favourite Things Friday

Is tea ---

but not just any tea for me. It has to be Earl Grey. I know it isn't to everyones taste and the aroma puts some people off but it works for me. I like to serve it with just a dash of milk but can drink it black as well.

However if I'm being really indulgent I serve it like this.

As part of a good old Cream Tea. Traditionally served in Devon and Cornwall I've had it in Sussex, The Cotswolds, wherever I find it. Usually though outside Devon or Cornwall the clotted cream which is as thick and calorie laden as anything comes in little plastic containers saying they are from either of those two West Country counties.

Creams Teas are a treat on days out or holidays. You can't have one quickly so they make you slow down and watch the world go by. Some tea shops are in the most unexpected places. One I came across in Cornwall was a house on a coastal walk where the owner served in her garden. She looked about ninety and made all the cakes and scones herself!

But there are two contentious issues in the cream tea world! Firstly the scones. How do you pronounce it?
I go for the Sc-on option but some go for Sc-own which is more elongated.

And the second issue is jam or cream first! Personally I like to put the jam on first because a good scone is going to be very crumbly and if you put too much pressure on they will start to disintegrate. With a layer of jam it is easier to perch the cream on top. It does look prettier in the picture the other way around though.

But then the picture is all about pretty and not about the practicalities, trying to pick up the scone loaded like that could be disastrous, once you take a bite it could crumble and you would have a creamy jammie mess all over yourself. Its a lot safer to cut it into smaller pieces on the plate.

Sometimes the scones have currents in sometimes they don't. It doesn't  really matter to me either way.

So if you come across a cream tea, go for it. Because the calories don't count if you are on holiday or having a siteseeing day out. Think of all that walking you are doing to burn them off!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Finally achieving something

I seem to have not been doing anything crafty for a little while, instead its been all boring stuff like housework, accounts and filing.

I finally got started with some basting today though, this is one of NINE tops I have unfinished. Yes NINE! Why did I let it get so bad. Considering I only started quilting 18 months ago it seems a bit exessive but I'm determined to make a dent now.

It may take a while as I start a new contract next week. Its back where I worked earlier in the year so I know what to expect and who I'll be working with. The scary thing is that it is only 2 months (not the scary part) and I suddenly realised it takes me right up to Christmas! How is Christmas only 2 months away???? Where has the year gone?

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Another Go Giveaway

Sue over at Alderwood quilts is hosting another Go giveaway and she will ship outside the US so it makes me eligble.

I have to say that Sue seems to have the life I want, she owns a quilt shop and a lavender farm and now she has this toy to play with! Hmmph!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Some oldies

Nothing interesting going on here so I thought I would show you some more of my quilts I made last year.

These two were made for my Mum. The first was made from a moda Jelly Roll and using a pattern from Jelly Roll Quilts. This went together really easily and I just straight line quilted it and I was very pleased with how it came out. I also felt I had cracked machine stitching the binding with this one, I didn't get any mistakes on the back of this one.

This one was made using all sorts of old fabric I had collected years ago when I nearly started quilting and then didn't. This was made with blocks made from 16 2inch squares and 8 inch pattern blocks and was a great practise quilt for working on my piecing skills. I free motion quilted it with a loopy pattern and it was all great until I washed it and then for the first time I got some fabric bleed into the white fabric. Mostly it was on the back so it isn't that noticable and my Mum doesn't mind at all.

I did learn to use colour catchers in the wash though. Despite this I still don't pre-wash my fabric as I have lots of small bits and the thought of all the ironing involved seems like far too much effort. I haven't had any problems since so I am prepared to take the risk!

Both of these ended up at 40 x 60 inches.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Favourite things Friday

Todays post is about trees.

Yes, I have favourite trees.

I like weeping willows as they are places to go and hide in. I went to the Redwood forest near San Franciso and the smell was amazing.

There is an oak tree that I keep forgetting to take a picture of in Greenwich Park that reminds me of the party tree in the Lord of the Rings. I've seen whole families set up picnics under it summer with birthday banners and everything.

Most of all, I like really old knarly trees like this one in Audley End in Essex.

Out near the Cotswolds, there is a place called Batsford Arboretum with some really pretty trees including Redwoods.

At Leonardslee Gardens this one framed the gate perfectly.

And in Greenwich Park there are some really really knarly specimens!