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

Thursday, 31 December 2009

A Quiet Day

I've got nothing planned for today so it will be a stitching day.  Yesterday we went to a nearby retail park and checked out the sales.  The traffic on the new, improved road was backed up right across the traffic lights junction, so it's not that improved after all is it!!!  All I bought was a computer game and some socks, three pairs for £1 (what a cheapskate!).  Then we went to Morrisons for a few bits of food and ended up stocking up on things for the freezer and some beer that was on special offer (not for me, I very rarely drink alcohol, though I did enjoy a glass of Bellini, it smelled just like tinned peaches, I did enjoy that).  The two days previous to that we had been invited to friends houses and had an enjoyable few hours socializing.  The trouble is, if I go out too much I feel really tired and that is how I feel today.
Above is a picture of the initials I want to stitch, I thought if I get a few done they will come in handy for future projects.  The fabric is 14 count Rustico Aida and the thread I'm using is a DMC (3726). 

Lately I've been using linen and evenweave fabric for my stitching and this Drawn Thread design is being stitch on 32 count evenweave using a gorgeous thread I got from Jean, when we did the Tiny Treasures floss tag exchange, and is called Sweets by Jessica Burr and the Organic Fruit Salad shade, it is hand dyed.  I don't usually use this sort of posh thread so it's a big change for me.
The reason I've got two stitching projects on the go is because the evenweave type fabric makes my eyes tired whereas the Aida type fabric doesn't.  Though I do prefer the look of the evenweave.
Also in the pictures is the cup and saucer I got from my DS and DIL for Christmas, it came with a plate, milk jug, sugar basin and two tier cake stand, I absolutely love it!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Some Pictures

Yesterday I had two lovely surprises through the post!!!  First this brilliant tea cosy from Peggy, isn't it great - I've always wanted one of this type of cosy and it fits my bigger teapots perfectly.  Thanks very much Peggy, it will be well used.  I prefer tea made with loose tea so always use a tea pot.  When I'm making tea just for myself I use a two cup pot and have made myself a cloth cosy for that size of pot, it's looking a bit worse for wear and I must make another one.  I like the teapots that have the lift out strainer, my favourites are this type, because the strainer lifts out I can put all the tea leaves in my compost bin and not down the sink.  I only use tea bags when we go to our caravan, for the convenience.

These also arrived yesterday, can you guess what they are?  They are beautifully knitted by a Norwegian friend.  Don't you just love the flowers with the button centre, the buttons have a reindeer motif on them.  Whoever guesses what they are will be put on my RAK list for next year and I will tell you the answer in the new year.

This bunch of stuff is a gift for my friend Janice.  We were chatting over a cup of tea a week or so ago and both agreed that Christmas gifts for us oldies get harder to buy.  We've got all the ornaments we could ever need, bottles of booze accumulate on the shelf and toiletries pile up in the bathroom.  So lately I make any gifts for Janice as I know she appreciates home made stuff, she says these gifts are from the heart (she's a very kind person).  The things with the loops are for her wardrobe and have lavender in them.  The box is a nice, sturdy one, that I recycled by covering the lid with fabric and adding the lavender scented tea-lights.  Another bit of recycling is the handbag charm, made from recycled jewellery I'd acquired, that you can just see by the six-sided-box (I couldn't remember the name of this shape, I used to know stuff like that!!!).  I also made her some wine glass charms and attached them to a home made gift tag.  It all fits into one of the humbug shaped bags I made with Christmas fabric.

This is a picture of the Christmas figures I've got on my stairs.  I didn't make them.  They were bought a few years ago from a garden centre just up the road from where I live.  I bought a couple, then when I went back for a last minute purchase they were all on sale at half price, typical!!!.  So of course I had to buy a few more, can't miss a good bargain.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

My Computer Is Home

I got my computer back yesterday, it's all tidied up, faster and with double the RAM.  I've lost all the bookmarks I had in my favourites but that's ok, I can spend time finding them again!!!  I've still got to put my camera software back on.  It is so nice to have my computer back in my craft room, I felt quite lonely without it even though I could use the laptop when Graham wasn't using it - it just wasn't the same.
I've got a free day today, everything is ready for Christmas so I feel as though I'm on holiday, I might do a bit of stitching.  I found some lovely cross-stitch freebies at The Drawn Thread.  One of the first things I did after the engineer had left yesterday was print off these beautiful patterns and do a search to see if anyone in the UK sells their designs.  Can't say I had any luck with that though.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

My Computer........... out of action so I'm having to use DH's laptop.  I've been without my computer now for about a week, perhaps a bit less.  The first thing I noticed was that my Outlook Express had stopped working.  After a lot of messing about I realised that Internet Explorer was out of action too, apprently this was what was causing Outlook Express to stop working.  Usually I use Google Chrome so I hadn't noticed this problem with Internet Explorer.  After a lot of messing about trying to find out what the problem was I decided to do a repair in safe mode but the problem was beyond my capabilities.  I got in touch with a computer engineer and he came and collected the tower and my disks.  It could be after Christmas before I get it back.  I'm lucky to be able to use this laptop but none of my software is on it, that means no pictures for my blog!  I have my computer in my craft room and it is my constant companion - I miss it very much.  While I'm doing my crafting it is there humming away and telling me when an email arrives.  During my frequent breaks I sit at it and visit blogs or read the online newspapers.  I get a lot of inspiration and motivation from the sites I visit and I've 'met' a lot of really lovely people.  Having pen-friends was never something I could get into but having email-friends is a different matter.  I've sent gifts and swaps to at least eight different countries and have received many lovely swaps in return.  I want to do more of this next year and have already 'spoken' to Marion about a New Year swap.  I'm also on a PIF list of Karina's.  I've never participated in a PIF (Pay It Forward) so I'm looking forward to that, not exactly sure of the rules yet but will find out from Karina exactly what to do.  Really I prefer RAKs (Random Act of Kindness), I get stressed easily and deadlines make me panic a bit but with RAKs I can just make and send when it suits me.

I'm almost ready for Christmas, just a bit of tidying up to do and a few gifts to wrap.  This evening we have friends coming round, I'm taking the easy option with food this year and have bought in lots of finger food, I don't have the energy anymore to do all the work a buffet entails.  All I've made is mince pies.  Then on Tuesday we have another set of friends coming and I will do the same then too.  Life if much easier these days now that you can buy in all these lovely, fancy foods, it would have taken days to prepare all the different savouries and sweets I've stocked up with - that is if I could have got all the ingredients!  I still find it amazing the variety of foods you can buy these days, when I look back to when we were first married in the 1960s I'd never heard or seen a lot of what is in the supermarkets today.  I love it!

Friday, 11 December 2009

From Australia

I received a package from Fiona in New South Wales, yesterday.  This was for the humbug exchange on the Tiny Treasures Too Exchange blog.  Fiona did her humbug in canvas work and it is like a beautiful jewel.  She also sent me some Christmas themed fabric and a lovely note card.  The humbug was wrapped in the fabric and tied with a beautiful length of ribbon, I'll be using this ribbon in some crafty way too.

I went to Dunelm Mill, as I'd mentioned yesterday, and did a bit more Christmas shopping.  I just couldn't resist this snoozing cat doorstop, I'll be giving it to my DS and DIL.  I could probably have made one, I know I have a pattern somewhere, but this one looked so cute and it was the last cat left (they had lots of shapes).  When I got it home I realised why it was the last one, you might be able to see that one of the hearts is coming unravelled - a bit of repair work needed there.  You might notice some beads in the background of this picture.  I was making some wine glass charms as a gift and it got me in the mood for a bit of jewellery making.  Well not jewellery exactly but handbag charms and scissor fobs.  A couple of years ago I was given a lot of unwanted necklaces and earrings.  I'm not sure whose it was originally but there is some quite unusual stuff, some of it perfect for charms and fobs.  That will be my project for today, great as extra little gifts.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

A Cake

This is just about the easiest fruit cake I've ever made.  When I saw it on Peggy's blog I thought I would give it a go.  It is a cross between fruit cake and a tea loaf.  Peggy said it is like a brack, which I looked up, and is a yeasted bread with fruit in it, though there is no yeast in this.  I messed with the recipe a bit and added some sherry to the water the fruit was boiled in and used dark brown molasses sugar.  I was amazed at how much it rose and the texture was very good.

I've got to go Christmas shopping today, there are just a few more things to get.  I want to go to Dunelm Mill, I'm sure I'll be able to finish off my shopping here.  I still haven't done my Christmas cards or put my decorations up.  The decorations are all downstairs in their boxes cluttering up my dining room.  I've got the Christmas CDs out and have been playing them in the kitchen, that really gets me in the Christmas mood.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Winter Flowers

The back of my house faces north west, so after about the time the clocks go back it doesn't get any sunlight.  To give a bit of cheerfulness out there I like to have some winter flowering plants in the window boxes.  I have tried winter flowering pansies but never had any luck with them, after a while they just stop flowering.  Last year I thought I would try cyclamen and they did incredibly well and flowered from November until the summer.  I decided on the pink coloured ones to give brightness and these are what I've got again this year.  Outside the kitchen window is a bright pink.

Outside the dining room window is this very pale pink, almost white.  They both have the lovely darker edge to them.  They really are a sight for sore eyes.  There are three in each window box and have masses of flowers on them and loads of buds.  I've never had any luck keeping them from one year to the next so I buy new plants each year.  I'm not sure if they are an outdoor variety but, because I put them out before the cold weather really starts, they seem to cope well with all temperatures.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Todays Project

Still messing around with my sewing machine stitches and this is what I came up with today.  It's another wardrobe hangie with lavender in it.  When I've made this style of heart before I've done a bit of hand embroidery on it.  Hand embroidery looks much nicer I think but it's nice to try something a bit different.  First I machined two strips of fabric together, then I did three rows of fancy machine stitching on the plain side.  When I marked the heart out I put it on the fabric at angle so that the embroidery ended up diagonally across one corner - I like that look.  After machine stitching all the way around the heart shape, I cut a slit in the back, turned it right side out and stuffed it with wadding and lavender then used ladder stitch to close the slit.  This way the heart looks neat from the front and it's easier to stitch closed.

This picture of the inside of the floss wallet is to show Peggy exactly what a floss wallet is.  I know that in the UK we call floss embroidery thread and if you do an internet search for floss it will come up with dental floss too!!!  This particular style of wallet is extremely quick to make and can double up as a sewing roll - floss one end and other supplies in the pocket at the other end.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

An Experiment

It might not seem much of experiment to you but this floss wallet is a first for me.  My sewing machine has eighty five different stitch designs on it, just the sort that stitch in rows, not one of those really expensive machines that does motifs.  When I bought this machine I thought I would use them a lot and I haven't.  Sometimes I feel so guilty for paying all that money for a machine and then not using it to it's full potential.  Today, when I was wondering what fabric to use for yet another floss wallet, I decided that it's time to get my money's worth from all these designs.  This is my first effort.  I'm quite pleased with it, plus I was able to use ribbon as the fastening.  Usually I don't like ribbon on these sort of things but I think it goes fine with the embroidery.  That's another Christmas gift made!  My next project is going to be lavender hangies, another gift for a friend who doesn't do any sewing but does love handmade things.

I got four made, not sure if I like them much but will make more and choose the best as gifts and the rest can go in my wardrobe.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Saturday Nights

Our Saturday nights are no different to any other night these days.  Tonight Graham is watching rugby on tv, I'm up in my craft room deciding what to do with myself.  Some evenings I play games on my computer, some evenings I surf around the web.  Tonight I haven't got a decent game to play and I can't decide what I want to look at on the internet.  I have got to decide what to give to some of my local crafting friends for Christmas.  I did think of giving one of the above floss wallets.  These wallets have pockets inside and can be very useful for keeping a little stitching project together.  They are really quick to make, Nita, who organizes the exchange blog I'm a member of has a tutorial on her blog.  These wallets are quite simple but they can be amazingly elaborate like the ones on this blog.  I haven't got the patience to make anything with too much elaborate embroidery on it because my eyes get very blurred after about ten minutes and I have to have a break.  Because of this it would take me ages to do a big project.  So I stick to little embroidery projects.  If you do want to know how to embroider Sharon B has all the embroidery stitches that you will ever need.  

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

New Outfit

It's my birthday soon and usually I choose craft stuff for my birthday and Christmas presents.  This year I'm having a bit of a change and I chose this outfit for my birthday.  We just happened to be in Sainsbury's yesterday and they were having a 25% off clothing sale.  After a good search round I decided on these trousers.  They are dark brown with a faint stripe.  A bit more looking at the tops and I decided on this one.  It looks great on the hanger but I'm not really certain if it's me, the neck feels a bit awkward.  With the 25% off the outfit came to £25, not bad I think.  I've had a bit of trouble with clothes recently.  Up until about five years ago my weight was pretty stable, then it suddenly started to increase and I ended up at 11 stone.  All my nice clothes didn't fit any more and I got rid of them.  It was a tough thing to do.  I did manage to get down to 10 stone but it keeps creeping back up to 10 stone 6 pounds.  At 5 feet 5 inches it doesn't look too bad but it always goes on my stomach so my waistbands are really tight.  Don't think I'll ever get back to eight and half/ nine stone again.  So, now I just buy easily affordable clothes, it's no use paying a lot because they might not fit me for long, not that I ever spent huge amounts in the first place.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A Bit of Baking & A Bit of a Rant

I found this recipe here and had to try it.  It's called Lemon Squares but I would call mine Lemon Slices.  I thought it would be sickly sweet because it takes a 300ml tin of condensed milk but it isn't.  I was also worried that it would rot my teeth but decided that if I clean them immediately after eating this I would get away with it - my dentist is very strict and is not afraid to give her victims patients a good talking to.

Now for the bit of a rant.  I enjoy visiting this blog.  The blogger seems a very enterprising sort of person.  I know I wouldn't get on with her in real life though and I'd decided that before I read her posting today.  I shall still read her blog as it can be very entertaining.  But - she lives on the other side of the Looking Glass to me.

I view life quite innocently and I enjoy an innocent way of living. This doesn't mean I'm naive, I just like to have my life filled with simple pleasures and activities.  On the other side of the Looking Glass to me are the perverts, the debauched and the decadent.  And the just plain puzzling.  I am just plain puzzled as to why someone would serve human breast milk as a delicacy at a dinner party!!!  Maybe next time the guests will be invited to bring a bottle of their own urine instead of a bottle of their own wine.

You can probably tell, this has upset me a great deal.  Where will it end, I can just see a herd of women being led to the milking shed.  TV chefs will be recommending which herd produces the best milk and should it be free range or factory produced.  It makes me shudder.