Saturday, 31 January 2009

Thoughtful Friday No. 30

"May the sun bring you new energy by day,
may the moon softly restore you by night,
may the rain wash away your worries,
may the breeze blow new strength into your being.
May you walk through the world 
and know its beauty all the days of your life."
Apache blessing

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Thoughtful Friday No. 29

"Stay, stay at home my heart, and rest, 
home-keeping hearts are happiest".
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, 19 January 2009

Lovely, lovely books

Here are some of the books I am reading currently.  Last night I finished 'The wonderful weekend book' by Elspeth Thompson which I throughly enjoyed.  It had a lot of very practical thoughts and weblinks and is well written by Elspeth who writes in the Sunday Telegraph.  She also has a delightful blog about her new eco house made from railway carriages called "Off The Rails".  Watch out for her new book, due in May, called Homemade which is all about crafts, sewing, knitting etc.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Thoughtful Friday No. 28

"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
Henry David Thoreau

Monday, 12 January 2009

Love is.....

sorting out a woolly mess!! Can you believe this is hubby sorting out a skein into ball disaster!!!  It is Arucania wool supposedly for socks - if it ever gets as far as needles!  He is just so wonderful.  I would have given up long ago but he has the most amazing patience.  This is the second evening he has had a go at it!!  I must be the luckiest lady in the UK!!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Getting sorted and Marmalade making!

The last few days I have been trying to get some sort of order into the chaos of this house!(I am quite embarrassed as I look at this photo!)  Firstly I decided to wash all daughter no. 2's clothes that we will store for two years until she returns and given the weather, it took ages for everything to get dry but we are there now and they are all neatly folded and put away upstairs.  Then there was the need to do some book-sorting.  We have books in virtually every room in the house (except the bathroom, funnily enough!) and I wanted to get all my gardening books together in one place which meant moving a ton of magazines belonging to hubby on fish-keeping! Not that we are actually keeping fish at the moment, mind you.  We used to keep tropical fish up until about 4 years ago and I know hubby would like to have a tank again and is even planning it but we need to wait a bit longer.  Plus I am the queen of magazine hoarding!  I think it will be death by magazines!!  I love them all and although I have given lots away, I still have many to store.  Actually I'd love to do a magazine swap with someone so let me know if you are interested - especially if you are in the US, Canada or Australia.  But enough of all this!  Sorting is one thing but creating something from nothing or at least something very different is what I also love to do, hence the marmalade making.

I had  planned to make marmalade over the weekend.  A new experience for me as I haven't made it before and low and behold what do I find?  My favourite magazine (Country Living) has recipes for marmalade in it and drops into my letterbox at just the right time.  So I decided to follow the three fruit recipe but added a fourth fruit (Lime) just for a bit of zing.

Lots of cutting and chopping

I didn't have any butter muslin hanging around (I wonder why not?!!!) so I used one of those laundry bags for delicates and this seemed to work just as well.  I put all the peel I didn't chop up plus the fruit and pips,pith etc in this bag and it sat in the water for the duration of the cooking of the peel - a couple of hours.

Then it was time to add the sugar and the squeezed juice which I had reserved in a jug.  After 10 or so minutes (I used jam sugar by the way which I get from my local Sainsbury's) it was ready.

Lots of lovely marmalade!  And daughter no.1 and hubby gave it 10.5 out of 10 this morning so I am mightily encouraged.  Anyone for a pot?  Just need to get labels sorted and some nice wrapping.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Thoughtful Friday No. 27

"What you are is God's gift to you;
what you do with yourself is your gift to God"
Danish proverb

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

She's gone!


Well, yesterday evening we said goodbye/au revoir to  daughter no.2 who left from Heathrow terminal 5 for Uganda for two whole years!!  It has been a crazy couple of days since she returned home with all her worldly goods, having given up her flat in Brixton.  There was much photocopying, sifting through clothes, books, medicines, photos, professional journals etc etc in order to get to under 24kg which was all she could take in one case plus two pieces of hand luggage laptop size!!!  Imagine for two years putting your life in a suitcase weighing no more than 24kg!!!  She did amazingly well.  Daughters 1 and 3 took yesterday off work to be with her and help (daughter no.4 is in Egypt just now - don't ask!) and after the case was packed we sat down to escape from all the emotion of it to watch "Howl's moving castle" - a cartoon which I had never seen before but which, right enough, did provide just the right amount of interest and imaginative storyline for escape.  Never mind the fact that we had a carpenter here sawing wood for the airing cupboard and the BT man to fix a broken telephone wire!!!!  It was utter chaos and the house looked as though a bomb had hit it.  But no matter, we had our time together and then headed for the airport amidst the sounds of Magic on the radio as a bit of fun (there are a variety of tastes in music in the family but in times of crisis we have been known to listen to Magic!!) then a trot around the new terminal building which is very smart indeed, with time for a coffee and then it was goodbye.  I was in 'coping' mode for the most part but nearly lost it right at the end when she moved into the security area.  It will be a life-changing two years I have no doubt and I have heard today that she arrived safely for which I am really grateful.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Goodbye to Christmas 08

Time to take all the decorations down and put them away for another year but just before I did so yesterday I thought I would take some photos to remember and as I haven't shown them at all on the blog, here is a little peak...

And this one which I hope will last quite a bit longer...

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Christmas creations

Here are some of the things I have been doing recently.  This bag was made from lovely fabric I found at a sale price and the pattern is from the book Sew Pretty Homestyle.  I think I might have shown the other bag on another post and at the time was struggling with the pattern but I mastered it in the end and made two of them in this fabric and one in the stripey. (photos don't really do the first one justice but you get the idea!)

Then I made 6 of these tote bags for all the girls in the family including mum-in-law and her friend who were staying with us over Christmas.  They are made using African fabric (brought back by another friend from Angola) and are to remind us all of daughter no.2 who leaves for Uganda for two years next Tuesday!!  The idea is that whether we use them for shopping or just storing things it will help us to think of her - not that any of us will forget really but I think you understand the sentiment and they were appreciated.

Some of the patchwork quilted cushions that went out as gifts this Christmas.  It has all been such fun, experimenting with fabric and patterns and I am inspired to do more.  But I will leave the 'show and tell' for now as I am hoping for a skype conversation with a friend in the US anytime now.  Hope you are having a great first day in 2009!

Happy New Year!

As I sit down here with a cup of French Vanilla coffee (from a dear friend in the US) and an extremely chocolately biscuit (courtesy of Messrs Marks and Spencer!) I want to wish you a very happy 2009.  You may be wondering where I have been of late?  But then again you may not as you may have been, like me, taken up with the festivities, the serving of guests, the making of what seems at the time like endless meals, the hundred and one other things that are part of our traditions at this time of the year.

But before we get into all that and I show you a little of what I had the opportunity to create before and during the Christmas season, I want to ask you how you are?  Are you tired and worn out after all the exertion?  Did it all seem to go too fast?  And how is 2009 looking for you right now?

Where Christmas is traditionally busy in our house, New Year is usually very quiet.  The daughters go out and me and hubby stay in and take things very quietly;  a little pondering on the year that is past perhaps; a little looking forward to annual leave days marked out in the diary for various excursions; a little consideration of what needs to be done this year in the house (and for me, the garden); thankfulness for all that we have and experience day by day in our relationship, in our home, work and play.  I don't make resolutions usually but I do have goals and 'things' I want to achieve.  This year I want to pursue more of the creative and continue to allow my 'authentic self' to emerge.  This has been a current theme for 2008 and as I look back I have actually experimented and created more than I have done in many a year.  Let's see:  I started knitting again and made all four daughters scarves; I knitted my first pair of socks and am on the second pair; I knitted my first handwarmers and made three pairs before Christmas; I started sewing again and made bags of various sorts, my first quilt, six quilted cushions, and other things; I made my first needlefelted project - a penguin;  I finished my granny crochet square blanket and have started two others!!; and the list goes on.  I have so appreciated having the time this past year to experiment, to play and to let some of what has been latent for soooooo long it seems, come to the fore.

And what about blogging?  I have been doing some thinking about this over the holidays on and off.  I am an introvert by nature and don't naturally wear 'my heart on my sleeve' and yet for me the discipline of 'thoughtful Friday' has been of great encouragement and I have discovered many inspiring quotes as a result so I definitely want to keep this up.  I may try and blog more regularly but more briefly than this (you will be glad to know) and see how that goes.  Why not?  Indeed I want to ask myself the question more fully - why am I blogging and who is it for?  Is it more like a diary to myself - an opportunity to record events, happenings etc with photos or is more of an opportunity to write thoughts and feelings or a combination of the two?  Does it matter if there are no comments or 300 comments? Does it matter if others have a chance to peak into my 'inner thought world', others all over the world, especially if I am really doing it just as a diary for myself?
If you are reading this and it triggers your own thoughts on why you blog I would be interested in hearing them?  I know others have asked these questions before and their blogs have changed as they have changed and become more focused about the 'why' and the 'what'.

So this has been a very long post and to some degree a rather rambling one but then entries in December have been very few and far between so I am just catching up really.

I hope as you ponder the happenings of 2008 you will find things to be thankful for and surprised at and that these will encourage you as you journey into 2009.

Thoughtful Friday No. 26

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, 
see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words".
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe