Sewing, stitching, baking, cooking, gardening, shopping and general homemaking.

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Tea Parties

It was my birthday in December and my DS and DIL took me out to tea here. We had a lovely time and the sandwiches and cakes were delicious. I'd had a tea party at my house for a few friends a couple of months before this and realised that tea parties were fun and a good change from inviting friends to dinner. I find putting on a dinner party very exhausting these days so tea parties will be taking their place at my house. With this in mind my DIL gave me a couple of lovely gifts this Christmas, the cake stand in the picture and a book entitled Afternoon Tea Parties with ideas for themed teas. I wasn't really sure how much food should be offered on these occasions so this book was a big help. Then yesterday morning I got an unexpected phone call from friends saying they would be dropping in to see us that afternoon and immediately saw this as an opportunity to put on an Afternoon Tea!!! Luckily I had some ready prepared finger food that I had bought in 'just in case' I needed it over Christmas and New Year and all I needed to buy was some fresh bread. It was the quickest meal I had ever prepared, I didn't get stressed and worn out rushing around trying to get too much done in a short time. What a pleasure it was to be able to welcome my guests in this way.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Machine Sewing

On Wednesday my DIL came to my house so that I could help her line baskets. I lined two so that she could see how it was done then my DIL lined one and made an excellent job of it. We had a bit of time left after this so I made a Christmas hangie for her. The next day I had a rummage through my stash and found some fabric printed with various Christmas designs so, as usual, I got a bit carried away and made nine of these hangies, all with a different Christmas design on it. Three I've given away and the rest are added to my decorating. Unfortunately, all the leaning over to cut out started my 'bad back' off and I've hardly done a thing this last two days, hope it recovers soon, there's still quite a bit to do before Christmas Day!!!

Friday, 5 December 2008

Paper Trees

Yesterday I was surfing around the web looking for paper-craft ideas when I came across a card making site that showed some very interesting paper Christmas trees. I followed the link to here and followed the instructions in the tutorial. I was amazed at the effect folding an old magazine achieved! I ended up making four of these trees and I then showed four of my friends, who came around in the afternoon for a craft session. We all got very excited that an old magazine could be transformed into a lovely Christmas decoration (can't you tell we are all craft addicts?). So I imagine that yesterday evening there were four ladies (five including me) rummaging around looking for magazines to fold!!!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Isle of Man Patchwork

My friend gave me a patchwork cushion cover kit as a gift that she bought while on holiday on the Isle of Man. Apparently the women on the Isle of Man used this pattern in olden times to make full size quilts, they tore strips from discarded clothing etc and hand sewed the strips to a backing in this log-cabin pattern. The strips are each turned back leaving a pleat so the result is a quilt that doesn't need backing or padding and it hid the big stitches they used. That's what it says on the packet anyway. I'm not doing it strictly to the pattern, there should be four log-cabin squares but I'm just doing the one and adding Christmassy strips round the edge, that way I'll get four cushion covers from the kit. I have finished it now and it's all ready to join my other Christmas patchwork cushions on the settee over Christmas.

Sunday, 23 November 2008


Since Friday I've spent time in my craft room making Christmas cards, it's been a while since I made a batch of cards and it always takes me a few goes before I'm happy with what I produce. The first few I made are quite horrible! Anyway, I've got a good selection made so far, about 15 I think. These in the picture are very easy - I just used my scoring board to create a frame, cut out pictures from a pad of Dovecraft Designer Paper Pack, added peel-off lines that I coloured with a permanent marker from docrafts and glued star gems to the corners, all bought from the Nottingham branch of The Range.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Crazy Quilting

I have a swapping friend called Lori who sent me a CQ patch as an extra on our last swap. Lori does the most amazing decoration on her patches and when I received one from her I immediately saw it as a centre for a cushion cover. It turned out beautifully, I'm so happy that Lori thought to send this to me. I've never done any crazy quilting, just conventional patchwork, all my cushions in my sitting room are patchwork and now I have this lovely new cushion to show off to my visitors!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Christmas Cones

I've wanted to make some of these cones for ages so today I decided to just go for it. Well, they were so easy - I made three in a very short time. The ones here are small, I used a saucer to draw around, but I will probably make some bigger ones too.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

This Week

I don't know what I've been doing this week, the time has flown by and not one bit of stitching done! Monday we travelled home from Norfolk where we'd spent the week; had some beautiful weather and got a few lovely walks in. Tuesday I did housework. Wednesday I 'supervised' Graham while he sorted out some of his frame stash that was cluttering up two shelves of the wardrobe; it's all now stored in our workshop (otherwise known as the shed). Thursday was craft group day, we did quilling again. Friday we caught a bus to a supermarket. We are very lucky where we live, there are lots of buses and now that we have bus passes we are trying out all the different routes. Today I spent all morning packing up a swap - it took me ages!!! Anyway, it's all ready to be posted on Monday. Also got a packet ready for a Norwegian blogging friend, I'd been meaning to send her something for a couple of months but time just got away from me. So, maybe next week I'll get back to some sewing, I have my log cabin quilt squares to put together and I've got to decide how I'm going to do the borders, with a bit of luck I might get it finished and out of the way.

Monday, 6 October 2008


This is a terrible picture, I took it before I realised that if I used the macro setting on my camera I got a much clearer picture. Also there is an area in my kitchen that has just the perfect light for taking this type of picture, my craft room lighting is completely wrong because of the glare. The items here were for a swap I did ages ago; a needle case, thimble keeper and coaster. I have very few pictures of the swaps I've sent. The reason for this is that I hate packing up swaps, I find it stressful for some reason. Plus I'm never sure if what I'm sending is good enough or if I'm sending enough. Most of the swaps I do are with people in the USA and I don't want to give the impression that people from the UK are mean or that our workmanship is poor. To send anything heavy is too expensive, then there are all the regulations about what can be sent. I must take pictures in future then I'll have a record of what I've sent.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Paper Crafting

I think my favourite style of card are the ones I make using 3d decoupage. That is an image that is layered with silicone so that it becomes 3d, then I varnish it with Prism clear glaze. I love the effect even though the cutting out can be a bit fiddly. The two robins are cut out this way but the two fairies are from the new die-cut decoupage sheets, they save lots of time and aggravation but still look beautiful.
This type of card is very quick to make. I had to make some cards for a charity coffee morning that a friend is giving. In less two days I made over 30 cards using this method, basically it's just gluing things in place on the card. I don't like them much myself but they are popular at fund raisers.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

A Good Few Days

I went to the Fabric Guild again on Sunday, this time I bought Christmas things. The above advent calendar is one thing and I managed to get it completed this morning, in fact I did two of them and they took me two and a half days altogether, so, I felt quite pleased about it.
The success with the advent calendar spurred me on to get this Christmas wall-hanging finished. I started it a few years ago, I can't remember how long ago but at least 2 years. I was trying to be too elaborate with the quilting and it got boring. This morning I just put the backing on it and left it as it was, it looks fine!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


Apples, blackberries and red currants, sprinkled with Demerara sugar, piled into a flan case. This flan is going into the oven for 20 minutes, then it'll be served with either custard or cream, whichever you prefer. It is a bit of a cheat really, a bought flan case, bought frozen apple and blackberries but redcurrants from our own redcurrant bush. I like it heated through but it could be served cold so that would make it even quicker to make.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


I've made three of this style of scissor case recently. I used to make the v shaped type until I saw this style on several stitching sites.
Making the scissor cases made me look through my scissor 'collection'. I think I've been unconsciously collecting scissors! I remember when I was a girl at home, we had one pair of scissors and they were useless for cutting anything, they were not sharp and they were loose. I wonder if this is the reason I have a pair of good scissors for every occasion??? Also several pairs of scissors that I just think are pretty. The ones shown here are all sewing related, I have lots more for my paper crafts too.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Looking Back - The Lake District

Tarn Howes - the weather doesn't look very bright on this picture but shortly after I took this it really brightened up.
Wray Castle to Ferry House, Windermere. We took a boat to Ambleside then another boat over to Wray Castle. The walk to Ferry House was very pretty, even the weather was sunny and cheerful for our 4 1/2 mile walk. At Ferry House we got another boat back to Bowness, where we were staying.

Loughrigg Fell can be seen in this picture, I don't know anything about the house, I just thought it looked very picturesque. This was on our trip to Ambleside. After getting off the boat at Waterhead, Ambleside, we walked along the side of the River Rothay to Rothay Park via the ruins of Galava Roman fort.

We spent a week self-catering at Bowness on Windermere in May. The house was lovely and had great views, the weather was the best I've ever known it in the Lake District, so altogether this was a beautiful holiday, I've thought about it a lot this summer. We intend to go back to the Lake District next May, this time we'll hire a house at Windermere itself.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Sewing Kit

I finished this sewing kit off today. I'd already done the cross-stitch and just needed to make it into something. Lately I'd noticed scissor cases that were a bit different to the ones I usually make so thought I'd have a go and I'm quite pleased with the result. I've used a charm as the fastener on it, shaped like stork scissors and inside are my stork scissors - very appropriate! I've used a needle charm as the fastener for the needle case. I didn't add anything else to the biscornu pincushion, a button would probably have obscured most of the stitching. Another pretty addition to my collection.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Free Patterns

This pretty sewing caddy is from a free pattern at All People Quilt - I've decorated it slightly differently to the one they have pictured, it's a lovely project and looks very decorative. The sewing roll featured in my May posts was also from this site - in fact there are tons of very good projects to be found there. This next site has a lovely idea for a tote bag - It's a lovely design and something a little bit different to my usual style. If you like doing patchwork you have got to visit this site - I've made all my cushions from blocks found there, it's great.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Sewing Machines

One of the first things I bought myself after I got married was a sewing machine. Since I was 13, when I used an old manual Singer machine that belonged to my mother's aunt, I've just had to have a sewing machine. I never used to do any hand stitching (apart from hems on clothes). In those far off days I just made clothes. Gradually my interests changed and I started making soft furnishings and more recently useful items like these pictured below.
I've lost count of the number of tote bags I've made, lots of them I've given away as gifts. This is my favourite style of tote. The handles go all the way underneath the bag so make it strong.

Last year I started making linings for baskets, I suppose really it was a way of using up some of my huge stash of fabric but I really like the look of these lined baskets.

Friday, 25 July 2008


Another favourite of ours is the fuchsia. Each year we go to a nursery called Hill Top and buy them as small cuttings. This year we were very late visiting this nursery so were limited in our choice. Also the leaves seem to have some sort of disease, this has never happened before. The leaves turn a yellowish colour and then drop off but it hasn't stopped them flowering. I've just managed to capture the two in the hanging baskets before the first flush of flowers start going over.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Shopping and Links

A few years ago I took a sewing course, it was a bit disappointing but the one thing that came out of it was that I joined the Fabric Guild. At the time it was £5 for a life membership, I don't know if this price has changed. Anyway, it is a warehouse in Leicester that stocks all manner of sewing goodies. Originally it was all things related to patchwork but recently they've expanded their range to include other stitching and crafts. It's one of those places where you always spend too much. Luckily you have to wait for them to send you an invitation to visit, about every three months. The majority of my fabric stash is from here. An example of the prices is that a fat-quarter from normal shops would cost me about £2.50 but from here it could only cost less than £1. It's great. Unfortunately they don't do mail order and they don't have a website but if you want to know their address leave a comment and I'll let you have it.

A Few Useful Links

A favourite pastime of mine (and a lot of other people's) is surfing the web looking for stitching related sites. It amazes me how generous stitching people are and I've found some fantastically useful pattern sites. These are just a few I've found recently: I love this one, her work is beautiful, so artistic and interesting. An extremely generous blogger, if you like making needlecases etc and stitching on evenweave you'll love this one. Loads of very nice small designs for every occasion. Cross-stitch, needlepoint, blackwork, plastic canvas and hardanger charts here, very useful and generous. It's not very often that we get someone from England offering free patterns. If you know any different I'd love to be contradicted!!! The canvaswork patterns here are beautiful, this is a very talented lady. A lovely blog for tutorials, good instructions and pictures. I was amazed at how generous Teresa Wentzler is on her website. She designs the most gorgeous patterns, I have several of her designs stitched in my house. I didn't stitch them though, my DH is a fantastic stitcher and produces a huge amount of amazing work and not tiny stuff like I do, he stitches the big stuff!

Well, that's it for today, I'll add more as I find them.

Monday, 14 July 2008

A Collection of Cards

I've spent some time making cards again. When I first started card making there wasn't much available that could be used for decoration. However, card making has become very popular over the past few years and now you can buy some amazing things and make professional looking cards extremely easily.
I recently bought some software, 'Greetings Card Factory'. Previously I had a Microsoft Home Publisher but it stopped working when I upgraded my computer to XP. Anyway, the new software and the decorative items available in craft shops means card making is now a doddle.

The background on these three cards is all done one my new software and I just added either a fabric flower or one of the new push-out decoupage images. A decoupage card would take me at least a full day when I had to cut out and varnish, now it just takes minutes.

I like to print the backgrounds out on vellum then run it through my Xyron. If the background is too big for my Xyron I use brads to attach it to the card. The brads come in very useful for attaching the fabric flowers to the card.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Thinking of Christmas

Last year I made a few Christmas decorations and I promised myself I'd make more for this year. This one is my first effort this year, it only measures about 1 inch square, I suppose it is a bit small really.

Knowing how long it takes me to cross-stitch even the smallest decoration I decided to try something else and came up with this snowman. He only took about an hour to make and I am quite pleased with him.

Friday, 4 July 2008

A Little Treasure

I had to go grocery shopping today, I didn't really feel like it but I forced myself! Just across from the supermarket there are at least four charity shops, all within 50 yards of each other, I don't know if this is a sign that the area is failing but there do seem to be a lot of shops closing down. One charity shops has recently opened in a premises that was a clothing shop, this new shop had some quite interesting old furniture, unfortunately I can't fit another thing into my house. I can always find space for something flowery though and I found this flowery candlestick.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Every Cloud

If you look hard enough every cloud has a silver lining doesn't it. Even though I was disappointed that my gardening efforts resulted in my bad back playing up it did mean that I could sit and stitch. I've mentioned before that I'm not a great cross-stitcher but I do enjoy stitching small items in cross-stitch. I do love stitching blackwork and the two unfinished pieces of work above have a lot of back stitching in them and very little cross-stitch. I made the pincushion biscornu previously and used the same colours to stitch the two new pieces, I'll make them into a set of some sort.

I also enjoy stitching onto a coloured background, I've used fabric paint in the past but this time I printed a picture onto some polycotton. I didn't use any special ink or anything, just my normal inkjet printer.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

A Bit of a Problem

I wrote in my last entry that Graham had built me a raised bed to grow vegetables in - well, I was sitting on my little garden seat, you know the type, you can sit or kneel on them, all I was doing was a bit of weeding. I stood up, bent down to pick my little seat up and I had a searing pain in my back. Oh well, that's my bit of gardening done for a while. Never mind, I'll just use the time to stitch and supervise Graham's gardening!!!

Close Up

I buy new geranium plants each year, I can get them through the winter but they tend to look rather battered. Last year I had the old fashioned orange ones, this year it's pink and white. Two that I bought turned out to be red though!

In recent years our winters have not been at all harsh and many outdoor plants survive in their hanging baskets. This one I particularly like, I can't remember what it's called, the flower is small and it has a lovely perfume.

This clematis is growing in a hanging basket. Some of the flowers are doubles, some are single. It always does well in the basket but I will be putting it in the ground for next year.

Monday, 23 June 2008

A Slow Start

I was very late this year getting to work on my veg plot. Usually I start my own seeds off in the greenhouse in about March or April but this year a few incidents put me off. I ended up buying small plants from the Garden Centre and at least I have some vegetables growing. The runner beans are doing ok but seem a bit scrawny, they are starting to flower though. The broad beans haven't done well at all, only about five of them survived.
This is the raised bed Graham built for me, I do much less gardening since I had my back problem so this raised bed is ideal for me. I only grow a small amount of any type of vegetable and in this bed there are peas, two sorts of cabbage, pak choi, lettuce, leeks and courgette. I've put those canes across that corner to protect the lettuce, we get a fox in the garden and he often has a walk around this raised bed - the little rascal!!!

Friday, 20 June 2008

My kitchen, tidy for once!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Tea Time

I went to a car boot sale with Graham on Fathers Day, it was his treat! He loves shopping more than I do and he's better at it. Most of the booters were just selling rubbish but I did come across a couple of interesting stalls. I got these two cups and saucers for £1, aren't they pretty. Another treat for Graham was shortcake that I made from a recipe recommended by Melissa and strawberry jam from a recipe here. The shortcake was beautifully soft, the best I've ever made. The jam was made using the freezer jam recipe, it turns out a lot runnier than boiled jam and tastes delicious, I suppose I could have made it thicker as explained in the recipe but l didn't mind it like this for a first go at this method. Next time I'll use the recipe that has a bit of boiling as the sugar took four hours to dissolve properly and boiling would make it quicker. The next jam recipe I'm going to use is the canned pineapple and canned apricot, that should be an easy one!

Friday, 13 June 2008

A Few Needlecases

I had a comment from Stitchety Grub saying that she collects needlecases. Being the big showoff that I am I had to put a picture here of some of the needlecases I've made recently. I really don't know how many I must have made but they are just perfect for when you want to do just a small piece of embroidery. Sewing accessories make lovely gifts for stitching friends too. The tiny needle cases are from a tutorial here.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Another Purchase

I needed a tray for my new patio set (below) and thought I was going to have trouble buying what I had in mind - but - a new shop has opened up a ten minute walk from where I live called Unique Chic. I couldn't believe that a shabby chic store would open up here so of course I had to visit and bought the perfect shaped trays you see in the picture. She stocks all the lovely painted furniture and the wire & metal shelves, racks, planters etc plus everything you would need to achieve the shabby chic look. When her website is up and running I'll give a link to it.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

My Back Door

We were very late getting our plants potted up this year, the weather was just too horrible. At last the sun is shining and we've been able to sit outside and enjoy the warmth. This picture shows where I like to sit during the day when I have a break, it's just outside my kitchen door and stays quite shady until about 4pm - perfect if you can't cope with too much sun.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Pretty Packets

I couldn't resist buying this soap, the packets they are in are so pretty, one is for me and one is to give away. For some reason garden centres always seem to have lovely toiletry displays, there were some lavender sachets that I liked as well but didn't buy them because I can make my own.