Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Leaving on a jet plane......

but I know when we will be back again (unlike the song!!). Yes, we are all (six of us) going to Canada to visit friends this Christmas. How wonderful is that! It is only the second time we have been abroad together as a whole family. Now Toronto where we will be staying already has 10 inches of snow so I have been out to get thermals for everyone!! We just aren't really kitted out here for very cold weather - there has been a chill factor of -19 over there in the last few days so my friend tells me!!

There has been much borrowing of friends' ski jackets and the like by the girls and last minute wellie boot and thermal sock shopping.

As I think about it, this is the first Christmas we will have been away from home too! In nearly 30 years - wow! It has made for a much simpler Christmas this year. Yes, the house does have some decorations but mainly twinkly lights and garlands - no tree. We agreed between us not to buy presents for each other so we could put the money towards the flights. This has made for much lighter shopping. And my friend with whom we are staying has done all the stockings!!! Lovely person that she is. I have only had to buy British magazines for her daughters and her - in fact I have bought three of the British patchwork magazines because she loves to quilt! Other than that the shopping has been for friends, some of which was done at the Country Living Christmas Fair. It has felt so much better not be in the frenzy of trying to decide what to buy for whom etc and whether they will really like it, and then being completely dazzled by choice in the shops. There are lessons to be learned here and I think simple and handmade is the way forward for next year!

So I can look forward to a visit or two to quilting shops, maybe a Michael's craft outlet, Niagra Falls, maybe a visit to a pioneer village and lots of time to chat with my friends and family. I consider myself to be a very lucky person indeed! So no photo today and a little 'intermission" coming up but when I get back..... that will be another story! Have a great Christmas everyone.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Christmas parcels

I love wrapping gifts and this year I am using just white tissue paper which I hand-stamp (these are with a snowflake stamp in cranberry) and then decorate with red tibbon or ric rac, topped with a red crochet flower and hand-stamped gift tag.
This is what I have been making for a friend who has just had major surgery for cancer. It is called a Sarabook and comes blank for you to decorate with papers, embellishments, tags and fibres, anything you like really. It is the first time I have done one of these and it is a lot of fun.


So now I am craving another knitting project! It is interesting really that I feel this way as I used to find knitting really stressful but somehow now it seems theraputic and soothing. So daughter no. 2 is off to John Lewis this weekend to pick out some wool for a scarf. It won't be long and those fingers will be flying again.... in the meantime I will have to go and crochet some more red flowers I think......






The Birthday

Daughter no. 4's birthday started off in style with breakfast in bed at around 9.30am. The croissants were in the oven at this point!
Then we headed off for the Millais Exhibition at the Tate as planned. It was WONDERFUL! So many paintings to look at by him. Millais went to the Royal Academy of Arts when he was 11! By the time he was 16 he was producing the most amazing work. He sense of realism and artistry in creating mood and expression was so engaging. We had a fabulous time.
After this we went on to lunch at Vitaorganic in Wardour Street. I had never been there before but while searching on the web for ideas I came across it and it had pretty good reviews. It is actually a vegan restaurant, quite rustic inside and small but the food is delicious and all homemade of course plus they had truly delicious smoothies. After a scrumptious main course we shared the lightest piece of carrot cake I have ever had, complete with soy custard - a first for us both. Neither of us are vegan or vegetarian but we do like healthy, well prepared food so it was a good choice.

Then we went on to an art shop not far from the station where there was a sale and we purchased one or two small items as birthday gifts. We came home and rock buns were the order of the day requested by daughter herself - much better than a cake Mum!

But I forgot to say that she LOVED the scarf I made. What a do I had to get it finished the night before. It was black and white hand-dyed wool (Colinette prism) and the dye had been coming off on my hands the whole time I was knitting with it so I knew I would have to wash it before I packaged it up. So there I was washing and drying at midnight but I think I got all the excess wool out. However in the morning light it looked a little more midnight blue than black so be warned about this particular wool!!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Cards, cakes and Christmas

Where did the week go? Here are the cards I have made this year with a fun stamp from Paperartsy, stamped in Cranberry with a dotty stamp as background and finished off with some stickles glitter glue in red with gold bits. Inside it says Happy Christmas again in Cranberry. I always wonder whether I will go the whole hog and make 80 or so cards or just do some special ones. For the last 4 years I have chosen a simple design and made them all! It gets a little tedious towards the end but I do it in stages and it is fun to choose a different design each year.


This was the advent wreath I made last weekend. I started this tradition many years ago when the girls were small and they used to take it turns to light the candle(s) at dinner time. It always marked the beginning of the Christmas season for us, when we would get out the boxes with all the books, music, Christmas tree ornaments and special things to put around the house. Now there is only one 'girl' at home plus a lodger it feels very different but it is fun to do it just the same.
Apart from some work based things this week I managed to also visit a good friend with two little girls - the ones I made the totes for. So I decided that it was time to make some fairy cakes both for them and for us. The icing is a little too 'Barbie pink' for me so I must try the colour paste that Jane Brocket talks about in her book. I fancy lavender fairy cakes with lavender icing at some point soon although that sounds less Christmas and more Spring perhaps.

It is daughter no.4's birthday tomorrow and she will be 20!! She doesn't want to be 20 so the celebrations are to be kept to a minimum!! Breakfast in bed (freshly made fruit juice, croissants and maybe some coffee on a pretty tray with a simple Lily in a vase perhaps?) followed by a small gift and then off to London to see the Millais exhibition at Tate Britain. We will then have lunch (not sure where yet but she wants to go somewhere different!) and then home for me and I think she is staying on to meet one of her sisters. The partying with friends happens this evening when she gets back from work with another trip into London. Now shall I make a cake or not? Doesn't seem like she will be around much to eat it at this rate and I have a scarf to finish yet which I want to wash, dry and package for her for tomorrow. Maybe the cake will wait for a day or so?

Sunday, 2 December 2007

The Holiday Tradition Exchange






Here is what I have sent to my swap partner in the US. It is made out of hardboard and could be a little book but I decided to make into a tree decoration instead.

I also stamped tissue paper for wrapping with a new heart stamp I acquired recently at a bargain price!

So what else have I been up to then? Well, I had this craving to do some knitting. I haven't knitted anything for absolutely ages so I wanted to do something that would come up quick. I had some wool that I bought in the US three years ago which is very soft and multicoloured so I decided a scarf would be a good option. Here it is.
It's not the best photo in the world but it gives you an idea of what the scarf is like.
I have also started a ripple afghan using Jane Eaton's book on ripple afghans and choosing an easy pattern. I am not yet sure I have got it absolutely right but will need to do a few rows to see it.
I also managed a visit to Loop this week. I have been on the website a few times to have a look and I was in the area so just thought I would make a 'creative excursion' to see it in the raw. A lovely calm atmosphere greets you as you walk into the shop and the range of colours is truly delightful. I pored my way through all the magazines and a lot of the books just looking at this and that. I had gone with the intention of buying one skein of wool for a thin scarf for daughter no.4. Unfortunately she wanted only black and white!! so that it had to be and I ended up with some Colinette Prism. Although I know it is hand-dyed I have been a little alarmed with the black that comes off on my hands as I knit with it and wonder if I should have washed it first? But I couldn't leave without buying just one other skein of gorgeous colour - blues and greens so off I trotted with my goodies. Can you believe I got so excited and wanted to start knitting with it that I did so without winding it into a ball!!!! Never, never again. In the end, dearest hubby had to come to my rescue and unravel the total mess I had got into - he has the most amazing patience for things like this. So while we were watching a dvd episode of Frasier, there he was busy unravelling this tangled mess of wool!!! I must be the luckiest wife out there. So I had to just go and make some rather nice fairy cakes. A picture of which I may share next time! Just off to watch Cranford on the BBC which his utterly delightful and a treat for the eyes and ears. I hope you are having a good weekend!

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Can you see George?

If you read the previous post you will know that we lost a precious teddy called George when daughter no. 4 was about 4 years old as she is in this photo. Can you spot him here in the photo? He was always this close! This is a cute memory of my youngest who will be 20 years old in two weeks time!! I can hardly believe it!

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

I've been tagged!

I've been tagged by driftwood to provide 8 random facts about myself so here goes.

1. I love water and mountains either separately or together

2. I have a wide variety in music taste from Bach to Santana to Coldplay to Celtic and Gregorian chants!

3. I love travelling and have a number of friends around the world but several in the US whom I love to visit.

4. I had three children under 3 at one point and then a fourth came along 5 years later and they are all girls! I was at home for 11 years with them all before going back to work part time.

5. I am a Myers Briggs Practitioner (Personality preference assessment tool) and have been a Personnel specialist working with Christian charities for the last 15 years.

6. I love owls and have a collection of all sorts - both furry and china/wood. I also love teddy bears - especially small ones. In fact when daughter no. 4 was born I found I indulged my love of soft toys generally and that she was only too pleased to be the recipient and we took delight in naming each one personally. Our favourite was a very small teddy (only 6ins) called George who one day got left on a bus on the way back from ballet class!!! Oh the sadness, oh the woe of that day. He could never really be replaced even though we found one a bit like him but bigger.

7. I thought I would never have an animal in the house until I agreed 6 years ago to have a rescued cat called Alfie. He came with just two teeth and no tail (had been removed because of an accident!!) and he was one of the loves of my life until he had a stomach tumour in April this year and my husband took him to the vet and returned with an empty cat basket! Sooooo sad. We are hoping that in the new year we will venture to have another rescued cat to come and live with us. He will have to be male as we are a house full of females apart from my husband!

8. I love baking bread and cakes and would happily have a stall and sell them if I didn't have a day job and the need to earn more pennies (to help daughter no. 4 to to Uni) than I would earn doing that.

Well, that was a lot more difficult than I imagined. I found there were lots of things I could say but I didn't know whether they would be interesting enough to be read by anyone else but then ....

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

November!

No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds!
November!

Thomas Hood

I came across the little poem last night at a gathering I was at. It pretty much sums up the time of year. But if you feel the need for colour then do check out http//doyoumindifiknit.typepad.com there are some gorgeous colours there to brighten your day.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Foraging in Devon!

and look what I found! Hubby and I had to go down to Devon for a board meeting and while he was in there giving his presentation I was out on the high street flitting from charity shop to charity shop! I couldn't believe how many there were in such a small stretch of road! But I picked up this almost double bed sized blanket all hand knitted, no doubt lovingly by someone. It must have taken simply ages.
And then I found this which is really thick and cosy. And these
lovely linen bags just waiting to be filled with lavender. They were from a shop called Adam's lace which had a real mix of stuff.
I had a great time in the car knitting and crocheting for several hours. I had a craving to do some knitting last week so started a scarf with some interesting wool I brought back from the US three years ago now. The crochet I am doing at the moment is lots of red flowers like the ones on the tote bags in an earlier post, to put on my gifts at Christmas!
So whether it will be death by blankets or death by magazines or even death by bags, I am not sure but things are accumulating round here. This week sees me out with the day job for three days, one of which is organising and hosting a day conference so I need to get myself focused and crafts will have to take a back seat until Friday.
Oh, and I did make some of Jane Brocket's rock buns tonight when we got home. It's been a long time since I made rock buns - I have a recipe that I wrote down at school when we did 'domestic science or DS' as it was called then! Jane's recipe is very good and they turned out delicious. Hubby was very happy!

Friday, 16 November 2007

Guess who I met at the Fair?

I was walking up one aisle when I came to a stand for Persephone books which I was amazed to see as I had planned to make a visit to the shop on the same day to buy two Christmas presents. And who should be there but Jane Brocket (her blog is Yarnstorm and she has just written and published the book "The Gentle Art of Domesticity"). It was great to be able to tell her face to face how incredibly eloquent and accessible her book is and how much she is a woman after my own heart. The book is currently on my bedside table and I only read it last thing at night as I am rationing myself. It is one of those books I don't really want to come to an end! The photos are gorgeous and Jane writes so well, expressing what so many of us have felt for so long and providing a 'why' behind what domesticity is all about.

The Persephone folk were very helpful and I was able to purchase both my books there and so didn't have to make the trip to the store after a long day shuffling along aisle after aisle of inspiration. I was all tuckered out when I eventually got on the train but no rest for me when I got home as daughter no. 4 wasn't feeling well with a bad cold and had two student friends here. So I set to, and made some homemade chicken and fresh coriander soup which we had with some nice bread and a range of cheeses (this is our favourite meal actually - soup, good bread and cheese), followed by homemade chocolate chip muffins. I certainly slept well and I think she felt better!

All the fun of the fair!

Well, I really did have some fun! The smell as you walked in from outside was very Christmassy - cinnamon, oranges, cloves wafting across the aisles packed with goodies, many of which were handmade. Here is a little snapshot of what I bought. Above are some bags from http://www.bill.brown.com/ They had them on special offer and were only £10 each, all sorts of shapes and sizes and I bought these two for my friend in Canada and her daughter who is living at home. Lots more on the website.
This little pot has a delightful handmade fragrant candle inside.
And this little bag also has a candle inside and some bath salts. These were both from the Fowey candle company down in Cornwall - http://www.foweycandlecompany.com/ It was a lovely stall and the people were so helpful and friendly, nothing was too much trouble for them. They obviously delight in what they do and are a family business.
And if you are a regular reader of Country Living you will remember the article about the lavender boys at Long Barn. Here are some gifts from their stall which had the most delightful aroma of lavender permeating the whole aisle they were in. I am sending these to my friend in New Jersey who just loves English lavender.


And these lovely hearts were from Bespoke Country which had many different things heart-shaped and shaker/Nordic style. It was their ribbon which was featured on the CL Christmas fair advert last year that actually made me want to go. They have a good website and mail order catalogue too.

There were other things of course, like beautiful earrings made from handmade paper by Circle and Dash. I bought a pair last year and they are so light to wear you hardly feel you have them in your ears and they come in the most gorgeous colours and shapes. No one was taking photos though and I didn't actually take my camera. I think I would have felt rather conspicuous if I had wandered around taking photos of each stall and it wouldn't have been easy given the crowds there.

It was a real feast for the senses and I think most stalls were doing a very good trade. It was certainly as packed as last year. I found it really inspiring seeing so many little goodies that people had made as well as delighting in all the colours. textures and aromas. I wish you could go, I know you would enjoy it! Maybe next year? We could meet there for coffee? What do you think?

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Are you going to the fair?

I am tomorrow! Lucky lady that I am. Sorry about the photo but it was the best I could do with a need to be quick. I went to the Country Living Christmas Fair last year for the first time. I was SO drawn to the advert last year as it showed hearts (a favourite of mine) and red heart and check ribbon. Daughter no. 1 and I made a day of it and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Although I do remember it being absolutely packed out and there being very little room to move in and out of the aisles. I shall take some food provisions with me as everything there is very expensive but I am really looking forward to being inspired by so many hand-made goodies and creative crafts. I'll let you know what I discover. I am also planning a little visit to Persephone Books as I shall in that area, to buy some Christmas presents. What a fun day!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

English Thanksgiving?

Pumpkin Pie! Or the remains of it! Today we had a roast chicken dinner (I don't always do a roast dinner on a Sunday at all) and our three daughters who no longer live at home came for lunch. It was great to see them all and to hear all about what they are up to. They don't live far away and we are often in touch during the week but it's been a while since they were all here together for lunch. So I thought today was the perfect day to have pumpkin pie which I have wanted to make for a few weeks now. I have made it before with fresh pumpkin and I remember hubby didn't like it! He didn't like this one either which was made with canned pumpkin (Waitrose!) and had lots of spice in it. I think it is the texture he doesn't particularly like. But the girls loved it and took a piece home with them each. Daughter no. 4 was working all day today in Bond Street so we've saved her plenty!

It is good to be thankful. We have SO much in this country to be grateful for and much we take for granted. I think the American Thanksgiving tradition is a fun one (and the Canadian one too which is in October) and a sobering one as time is taken to be thankful for family, friends, food, nation, gifts, skills and talents, peace and freedom.

On another note, what is it about crafts that just somehow doesn't connect with folk here? I was speaking to some people I know reasonably well today and they were asking me how I was. I said I was having a great time at the moment being able (because I am not in full time employment) to devote time to what I really love to do in the way of crafting, sewing, crocheting, papercrafting etc. You can see the sort of glazed look that comes over as if you are some alien who likes to do this thing that surely nobody does anymore. "Oh, I used to do that but I now just buy something in Primark" was one response I got!!! Yes, it is tempting to buy at such low prices (but at what cost to others is the question and I have absolutely no idea what the answer is to this) but how much more fun to produce something handmade.

Yet there is something else that bothers me. It is as if 'crafting' and I use the term in a general sense, is more inferior to other occupations; a sheer luxury perhaps in this high activity, define-me-by-job culture. I do also think that in the UK we have lost some of that respect there has been the past for crafts and crafting. It is no longer really seen as cool and whereas my mum's generation all learned to knit (socks and other things for the war) and sew and this was seen as a key set of skills, it seems somewhat 'flaky' now and unless you are with likeminded people, you don't actually get your knitting out!! This of course doesn't apply to all those wonderful people all over the UK who are now part of knitting and crochet groups and whose interest has been rekindled by Debbie Stroller and others. I get the impression (as I have been in the US on a few occasions and have a number of North American friends) that things are different in the US and crafting is just more acceptable, expected as part of what you might do and catered for by the wonderful outlet stores like Michaels. Enough from me! I'd be interested in what others think on this topic.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Paper crafting

Today I have been doing a little cardmaking! I have two very good friends who have birthdays this month and this is one of the cards I made using rubber stamps. I love this effect which is a bit like painting and of course you can use as many extra bits and pieces as you want! I prefer to keep it simple so the happy birthday piece is raised on little sticky foam bits and there are a couple of heart brads for interest. The picture doesn't show the holographic glitter on the pink flowers but this just finishes it all off nicely.





I also decided on the design for our Christmas cards this year. Again keeping it simple is the key especially when I shall probably end up making about 80!!
And here are the little totes ready to go. Today I popped into the Poundland and bought a fun little 'crispy teddy' for the one year old(it just has a flat body which is very crispy and crunchy to touch!) and a flower sticker album complete with stickers for the nearly three year old.

I was tempted to go to the I knit London event today where Debbie Stroller of Stitch and Bitch fame and Jane Brocket (Yarnstorm) were going to be interviewed plus of course no doubt the most wonderful stalls full of wool and accessories. I have only recently discovered this link and the fact that there are knitting and crochet classes etc plus meeting up points all over London.
I have Jane's book "The Gentle Art of Domesticity" which is absolutely wonderful. Truly a woman after my own heart and very eloquently expressing all I have felt and thought about domesticity for years.

More Raspberries! More Brownies!

Check out these little guys! I found them on the way down to the compost bin! There they were all delightful and rosy hanging all by themselves amidst the compost bin to the left and the forsythia to the right. So I had to pick them and of course taste them! They are the variety known as Joan J and recommended by Gardners World I believe. I bought this particular variety because my mother in law is Joan J and I thought it would be fun to have raspberries named after her! She is 81 and still going strong in Somerset, living in her own flat, driving around and generally enjoying life.
So there wasn't enough raspberries to make anything with and daughter no.4 was very keen I made some brownies. This is a great recipe from my friend in Canada called: Lazy Gormet Brownies. I added a few sprinkles on top to make them more interesting. Here is the recipe:

LAZY GORMET BROWNIES

1 cup of butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup soft brown sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
3 eggs
1 cup SR Flour (or all purpose plus 2 tspn baking powder)
2 tspn vanilla
chopped walnuts if desired

Melt butter in a saucepan, add sugar and cocoa. Add eggs one at a time. Stir well. Add flour (and baking powder if using). Add vanilla and nuts. Pour into 9" x 13" baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 mins. Yummy!

Thursday, 8 November 2007

The sewing machine has come out!!


Two little totes for two little girls I am going to visit next week. They are the daughters of someone who used to work with me and I am so looking forward to seeing them.
Well the sewing machine has had its cover on for longer than I dare to admit! But it is SO good to get it out and to create.
I am just loving this time and space I have right now to do this kind of thing.
It's a long time since I made a tote and I am sure they are pretty makeshift really so I ought to get someone to show me how to make a really pucker job (with seams all neatly hidden etc etc!) but I really enjoyed making these. The blue and red crocheted flowers I found on Teresa Franco's blog. They are really easy and quite addictive. Teresa has some other lovely patterns on there so do go and check it out.
I also managed to sew a table runner from some delightful provencal material I brought back from France last year!!! So that is sitting prettily in the hallway right now.
So what next you may ask? Hmmm, something for the season and time of year I think so I am off to see what Christmas fabric I might have stashed away.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Sweeping the leaves




So it has to be done! This is how I spent some of my time last Friday and now nearly a week later it is almost just as much covered again.


But how beautiful Autumn has been this year! We went away with our church for the weekend down to Battle, near Hastings and the colours were very special.

Hmmm still not entirely sure how posting more than one photo works on these blogs. I am sure there is an easier way. I have all sorts of ideas of what I am going to say and the photos that will work with it but somehow getting the camera connected up to the computer and then downloading and finding the photos, not to mention trying to load them on here in the right order, seems to be putting me off! I am sure all you regular bloggers have a secret way of doing it that is really easy and I would love to know how so do leave a comment and let me know! I the meantime enjoy the colours and these wonderful blue skies and bright sunshine days. I think tomorrow the weather is turning for most of the UK and it will be more like it is supposed to be in November! Hey ho.

Last week I was picking the last (I guess!) of my raspberries! Can you believe it? This was my first year of growing fruit and they are absolutely delicious.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Dolly Domestic!


Well, the lemon tea muffins didn't turn out very well, at least from an appearance point of view. They were actually very tasty and daughter no. 4 ate many as a result! We then tried the following day some peanut butter and banana muffins (different recipe book - 250 best ever muffins) but there were disappointing taste-wise. They looked great and smelt wonderful but the taste was surprising bland. So on Friday when I was expecting a visit I made an old favourite - Christmas morning cranberry muffins! Very good and here is a picture. Tasty with cinnamon, ground spice, orange juice and rind and cranberries. We have then each Christmas morning before we head off to church.

So the week has gone by, busy with the new day job which is currently pretty flexible. I am off for an interview on Wednesday for a possible new day job 3 days a week!! Very strange to be on the other side of the interview table after so long of usually being the interviewer. Hopefully hubby will be asking me a few questions in preparation over the next few days.

Now this heading of 'dolly domestic' comes from someone I used to work with and when she use the expression after a weekend of general household chores, it stuck with me. So being 'dolly domestic' was what I was up to all day yesterday. We had friends over for dinner in the evening so it was a good incentive. Pesto chicken roasted with squash, carrots and baby potatoes, together with slow roasted tomatoes in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and a herb salad was the main course. Starters were crostini with smoked salmon and marscapone cheeses and dessert was normandy apple cake, which we also had for lunch today.

Today it was great to see daughter no. 2 who had just come back from a two week trip to India. She brought loads of photos on dvd which we sat and watched for a couple of hours, so much so that we ended up having lunch at 3.45pm!!! She had a great time and looks so much more relaxed than when she went away.

Well, it is nearly time for West Wing so I had better be off.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

oops forgot to show my fun find from a charity forage

This was a great find when I went hunting around the local charity shops having visited posy's blog and been inspired. I probably wouldn't have chosen these colours myself but it is still a work of art and would have taken a good while to complete.
My next crochet project is going to be a ripple effect afghan - just need to find an easy pattern now and then I can use up lots of my 'spare' wool.

How delightful!

How delightful it is to receive comments on my blog! Thank you to those who took the time to respond. It is so encouraging and it is just such fun to think we can make connections like this all around the world and so easily! I do love that sense of connecting and in fact am still in touch with a penfriend from France who I first started writing to when I was 14 - a very long time ago now! She currently lives in England with her English husband and twin boys ( in their 20's now) and we usually meet up once or twice a year. Each time we do, it feels like we see one another all the time and we spend the day chatting about what is going on in our families and our lives. After Christmas Martine will be moving back to France with her husband so we shall need to begin writing again but then of course there will be the excuse to go and visit!!

And then there is my very special friend in Toronto, Canada, with whom I have corresponded regularly over many many years and who also has four daughters. We now email several times a week often, sharing recipes or thoughts and sometimes we have a skype conversation over the computer which is great fun. Something very exciting this year is that we shall be sharing Christmas with them in Toronto - one of my dream things to do!!

Later today I will be skyping with a friend in Colorado Springs when she gets back from church when it will be evening here. Vangie is a fellow scrapbooker and creative memories consultant and it was her who encouraged me to get 'hooked' on this fun creative journey with scrapbooking.

But before then I am off to make Lemon Tea Muffins with daughter no. 4 who plucked a lemon from the Victoria and Albert Museum garden (don't think she was supposed to do this!!) and as part of her creative art project wants to photograph and illustrate all things lemon. I'll post a picture when we are done.

Autumn Light and Chilli Peppers


Isn't the autumn light wonderful. I nipped out early one morning to take this picture of the lilac tree in sunlight. I am not sure the picture does it justice but it was that irridescent green which seems to light up the whole garden.


And here also is the chilli plant! I tried growing chillis for the first time this year and just in a pot. They seemed to have done really well despite upteem snails and slugs who were determined to demolish everything I managed to plant in pots this year - hence the copper tape to try and ward them off. I am not even sure if snails go for chillis but they sure had a go at the pepper plant but I managed to salvage it and had two peppers from it which were actually delicious.


I would like to do a lot more in the garden but am a complete novice. However it seems to me it is just about having a go and trying something and sees if it works for you. So.... what will it be.... garlic? winter salad in the little plastic greenhouse? Off I go to read some gardening books....

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Remembering Mum


Well, it's been two years now since Mum died and I still miss her! The photo here is how I like to remember her, before the alzheimers set in and she changed her personality and became so much more dependent.


Mum was a fighter and although very small and slim was always full of energy. It was on those nights when Dad was on duty at the fire station, we would have a cozy time together, chatting on the sofa with our tea and toast. Those were the times I felt I could tell her anything at all and indeed did. They were special moments and ones to be treasured. There was nothing that my Mum would not do for me and she was simply the best at finding anything that was lost!
Her last two years on this earth were very difficult and I really cannot bear to think upon them even now.
It is important to remember the good times and the heaps of things to be thankful for. I always knew that my Mum loved me very much despite our very dysfunctional family.
And now I have tea and toast with my daughters on the sofa and listen to their stories and feel privileged that they want to share with me their inner most thoughts.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

29 done and 19 more to go!


Here are the 29 laid out so far.

The crochet project

Yes, it is granny squares! I started this project when my mum was alive with the aim of giving it to her to keep her knees warm but alas she was taken home before I even got half way. I need to make 48 squares and at the last count I had 29 which I put on the bed to see what it would be like.

The Sunday walk in the woods


It was a glorious sunny day and the paths were all like this one, filled with brown or yellowing leaves, crunchy underfoot.

Oh, the mess, the mess!

So, what can I say but that the work on the new boiler has not yet finished and it is over a week!! As of yesterday there was no hot water! How spoiled we are though when I think that at least a third of the world has no running hot water at all, never mind for one or two days.

The weekend saw me pondering over a meditation I was leading yesterday evening. I had a number of ideas but nothing seemed to come together until Sunday evening and I went with the theme of water. It meant that I took my little water feature (given to me by daughter no. 3 a number of years ago now) and various pictures of water, as well as some H2O in a glass and a handcross. It was peaceful time and those who came appreciated it.

On Sunday P and I went for a lovely walk in the woods. The sun was shining beautifully through the leaves and the trees and we got some good photos as well as having some good conversation. Our hearts were thankful for all God has given us especially the new role for P which he is SO enjoying and which SO uses his skills and experience.

This week sees the second anniversary of my mum's death - on Thursday actually. I will post a picture of her here later in the week. I miss her and my dad - they would be so proud of their granddaughters.

Until the next time...

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Apple and Cranberry Crisp


This is a great favourite in our house especially with hubby -even if he does have to add sugar to what is an already sweet recipe!
My very good friend in Toronto gave me this recipe but I have also seen it in American Country Living and other US cookbooks.
The day job takes me away into the city all day tomorrow and then I take a course in the evening - the first session of one each week during term time for two years. I wonder who I will meet and what we will be doing for three hours?
Next time I must post a picture of the crocheted granny squares I am making for a blanket. I started a long time ago and it is very slow but I love doing it - just need to make more time for it and give myself permission to 'play' more often.

The Boiler Man cometh!


So here we are with mess, mess and more mess. It took a whole day to flush the system (it should only be half a day but the rads were very dirty) and now the pipes are causing problems and need lots of work.
Mr boiler man is very quiet though and works the whole day without stopping much and no radio. I was able to work away in the dining room on my computer all day.
We have hot water but no heating but temperatures outside are not too bad still. I just hope he gets most of it finished by the weekend. I am not very good at living in a mess and especially when it is the kitchen.

The Wonderful Colours of Autumn




Well, the day job took me away for a few days somewhere north of the midlands and it was a very busy few days so I came back exhausted.


Now how is it that the mind races so far ahead of everything else it seems. I have had so many thoughts of what to write in my blog but just haven't got round to entering it. And it seems the whole downloading of pictures takes a bit of time. i wonder if there is a quick way that I am missing out on. If anyone has any ideas please do let me know.


So Autumn has arrived. The leaves are falling all over the place and although the temperatures are pretty mild for this time of year, it certainly feels as though summer is over.


Sunday we took a stroll at a lovely garden and I took these pictures. We sat and looked across at the fields and a lake beyond - just ideal, and I only had a cardi and jeans on, no coat.
Don't you just love the blue of these hydrangeas?
Then it was home for tea and toast!! before I had to move a lot of stuff out of the kitchen in preparation for the boiler man to come and fit a new boiler!!! Ugh!
Once all of that was done it was time for my weekly fix of West Wing and then get ready for the week ahead.


Saturday, 29 September 2007

CRAFT CITY!

So, today I have been to the Big Stamp and Scrapbooking show at Alexandra Palace. I have been going for a number of years now and it changes all the time. Absolutely heaving with people, stickers, embellishments, paper, card, boxes, stamps, glitter and all things crafty for paper. There was a creative memories stand. If you don't know about creative memories, take a look at their website: www.creativememories.co.uk. I am a lapsed consultant! Just couldn't fit it in with the day job but I met a gal on the stand who has been a consultanta for 18 months and absolutely loves it! She runs her own business in engraving too! She had some lovely albums out for people to see - very inspiring.

And I think that is what is so neat about these shows. They are INSPIRING! If you can resist the temptation to buy, you can pick up so many tips and techniques to help you try new things at home in your cardmaking or scrapbooking. So many of the exhibitors have someone doing demo at their stand. There didn't seem to be a particular theme this year but obviously the Christmas stuff was out - stamps, embellishments etc

So what did I buy? Well, a great stand I have loved in the past and which was there this time too was Art from the Heart. A sort of altered art, stamping outfit and the demonstrator was showing how to daub acrylic paint on cut wooden shapes and alter them with stamps etc. It was a really nice finish so I bought some wooden heart cut out shapes to try. Some of the samples were also covered in gorgeous paper and made into little books - great idea for Christmas. Let's see how we go with these first.

I'm off to a conference for three days with the day job! Asked to speak and lead a workshop when I was only going to introduce it so 8.00 - 9.15pm will have it's challenges buy hey ho!

Wednesday, 26 September 2007




So this is NEW!


I have been thinking about starting a blog for a good while now and trying to curb the addictive urge to sneek a peek at many a crafty blog or two.

What strikes me is that there are so many many creative people out there and that blogging has provided a space and means for community in a way nothing else has to date. Where else could you share someone's love of quilting or crochet who is the other side of the world without knowing them first?

It's quite strange to actually write not knowing who might read this but I guess you have to start somewhere.
My quote for the week is this:


""I hope you'll hear what I'm about to tell you. I hope you'll hear it all the way down to your toes. When you're waiting, you're not doing nothing. You're doing the most important something there is. You're allowing your soul to grow up. If you can't be still and wait, you can't become what God created you to be." --"When the Heart Waits" by Sue Monk Kidd


Waiting isn't easy. We live in a world that rewards activity, speed and sometimes crazy living. I am having to wait just now and as someone who likes to know what is next around the corner, it is uncomfortable at times. But I am learning to be still, to override the discomfort, to stop the frenetic activity of the last xx years and to let the layers of 'have-tos', 'shoulds', 'musts' and 'oughts' be peeled away.
The pics are some birthday cards I made using alcohol inks. September is a very heavy month for family and friends' birthdays so I had fun experimenting with these and was pleased with the result.