Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!

(Our lane on Christmas Day as we walked to meet up with family.  Very pretty but slippery I can tell you!)
 Hello again and Happy New Year!!  I really wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas but computer problems and then being a little off-colour for a few days prevented me getting here. 

(My DS and his cousin playing TV console games later in the day at my sister's house)
 I hope you all had a wonderful time over the Christmas period!! We had a lovely time with family and friends and I managed to get all the homemade gifts finished.
 This is a cross-stitch bookmark I made from a kit that I bought when we visited The Centre for Alternative Technology in the summer.  It's for a good friend of mine.  Making it made me realise why I haven't done any cross-stitch for some time - it's time-consuming, fiddly and frustrating!!  It came to life when I added the backstitch but I'm not very inspired to do any again soon. 
 I made about 125 of these peppermint creams a couple of days before Christmas.  It wasn't easy to keep count of them with my DS around and, of course, having to "taste test" them.  :-)
 Here are the family's gifts ready to be wrapped.

 A closer view shows the finished coasters clearer.  The peppermint creams are in celophane bags in the mugs.

 The church in the village is spot-lit over the Christmas period courtesy of the local hotel opposite. I took this photo on our way back home quite late Christmas Day.

Just before Christmas I won a giveaway run by the generous Miss Prickly and my package arrived today all the way from Oregon.  I was lucky enough to be the winner of one of 3 prizes offered - this lovely colourful wristlet.  A lovely extra pressie just for moi!!!

Tonight there are 15 of us meeting at a friend's house for a takeaway, then we are heading for the village to join the locals to see in the New Year.

See you all again in, what I pray will be, a happy and healthy 2011 for everyone.
Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 13 December 2010

Second Last Weekend Before Christmas!

Saturday am

Rehearsing with the Saturday Singers for a Welsh evening on Monday 20th (squeezed into a corner of the Fellowship Rooms because there was a children's party in the Chapel where we normally go).  We're singing 2 welsh songs: 'Suo Gan' and a carol that I can't remember the name to) .  None of us, except the choir master, speaks much Welsh so we've been struggling a bit with these.  I remember my sister telling me about the time a visitor to the hotel she worked at was asking her if she spoke Welsh. She told him she did and spouted out a long sentence to prove it.  He was quite taken in but all she had said was "Abergavenny, Monmouth, slow down, stop, service station" and various other Welsh words on our road signs.  He then proceeded to talk about well know Welsh TV series Pobol y Cwm but pronouned it in quite an unfortunate way that had us in stitches when she told us.

Saturday afternoon

Met up with a friend for mulled wine and a chat.  She's recently started a life coaching business that's beginning to reap rewards for her after putting in a huge amount of work. 

(one of DD's sweet little bunnies in the palm of her hand)

Sunday pm

DD picked me up to go to town.  Where we had a some lunch before heading to the shops for Christmas shopping.  I couldn't go in my car because a man was due sometime in the afternoon to replace the windscreen - I'd somehow developed a 6" crack in it during the cold spell!

 (A little knitting I work on when my eyes tire of tiny cross-stitches)

Before my OH picked me up to get back home in time for the first Carol Service of the season, DD showed me the baby bunnies that had been born to one of her rabbits just a couple of weeks ago.  Sooo cute!!

Back at work now for the last week before the 3 week break!!!! :-)  We had the news today that we were successful in our appeal and the planning permission  has been granted for the next stage of the job.  This means work for another 18 months to 2 years. I wish I was happier about it because I should be grateful to have a job and certainly wouldn't give it up unless I had to, but this job is not really what I want to be doing.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Third Last Weekend Before Christmas!

Just in case anyone is on tenterhooks to find out, you can breathe again now because I can announce that I had exactly a QUARTER of a snow day last week!!!! Sorry for shouting but a QUARTER!!! What am I supposed to do with that?  Do you know what I did? I CLEANED!! Sorry, I'll calm down now.

This is the scene as I drove to work one day last week.  Here we have freezing fog on the two lane road. The car said the temperature was -13!!!!!

 Things were a bit brighter as I neared the office on the single track road.

I'm not really angry - I had a lovely weekend starting with a quiz at the local pub on Friday evening (which my team won)! 

I finished my Christmas bell pull (above) to take to my quilting group where we also enjoyed a Hope Lunch (everyone takes a plate of food and we hope there'll be enough).  I didn't take any quilting to do, but concentrated on some cross-stitch for a Christmas present I'm hoping to finish by next weekend when I will see the recipient. Pics will have to wait until after Christmas so she doesn't see.

 On Sunday I dragged accompanied my OH to a local craft centre that has recently re-opened after a few years being closed.  Most of the crafts they sell here are made in Wales.  In a workshop at the back of the centre I found a room with lovely bags hung all around the walls, and shelves at the end piled with gorgeous fabrics (not new but recycled and reclaimed!). It was almost exactly as I envisaged my own fantasy workspace and I was so envious of the mysterious Cayt whose workshop it was.  I couldn't resist buying one of her lovely bags (the flower is a detachable brooch!).  OH and I stayed for coffee and cake and had a lovely chat with the owners who suggested I go back when Cayt is there and chat to her about her work.  I fully intend to take up the offer! I also want to look in the vintage clothes room that was closed on Sunday in order to tidy it up after they held a Craft Fair the day before.

To finish off, here's a pic of the (mostly) vintage Laura Ashley fabric I won on ebay recently.  There are 3 lots from the same seller here and with combined postage it came to less than £11.  The pieces are all different sizes but some are quite big.  The only one I am disappointed with is the lightest fabric 5 from the left.  I haven't looked closely yet but it seems to have a few marks on it and is not a very inspiring design to boot. ("to boot"??? - where did that come from?  I never say that!  I just had to look it up so if you're interested have a look)

Bye for now
Teresa x

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Teething Troubles at Work!

I expected the portacabins to be cold so wrapped up warm accordingly.
I expected the roads to be icy with the cold and snow so drove carefully.
I expected to be further from any shops so made sure I didn't forget to bring lunch.
I expected to be further from a garage selling cheaper fuel so filled up in advance.

I didn't expect it to be quite SO cold!!
I didn't expect the water pipes to freeze leaving us using water from the drinking bottles to fill the kettle and pour down the loo to flush it!!
And I didn't expect the frozen pipes to burst when thawing out, flooding water into the corridor and resulting in having to share the 'men's facilities in a separate cabin outside - Brrrrr!!!
Add to that poor mobile coverage, a dodgy land line system and a view out onto a blank wall and, well, you can't blame me for hoping today would be a 'snow day'!

Well, I managed to get there despite a bit of slipping and sliding, the toilet is fixed and I'm ensconced in my little office with the heater on high so things are looking up (and if the weather is anything to go by, I might yet get a snow day this week) :-)

Stitchy News

 I absolutely love this block that I received from Anna from Finland for the Tag Square Bee for November. 
 Look at the lovely fabrics.  I particularly like the big white flowers on the green background and the brown with butterflies. 
 The coasters have now been trimmed down during a few spare moments over the weekend.  Making things in batches seems to be the way to go with small items.
Here's a glimpse of a corner of my Christmas Bell Pull hanging I started at my quilting group last meeting.  The next meeting is on Saturday when we are supposed to take it in to show, so as I've only got the binding to sew down, I should get it done.   I know what I'll be doing if I do get a snow day :-)

Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 26 November 2010

Not a Tutorial!

After a comment from Ali of Very Berry Handmade about my coasters a little while ago,  I'm slipping in a quick additional post this week to explain how I put it together. It's not really a tutorial as such but you can skip this post if you've already guessed how it's done!

So here goes, this is what I did: (the text goes with the photo beneath it)

Cut a piece each of wadding and backing 4" square......

Laid the wadding on top of the wrong side of the backing, selected a few fabric scrap strips that complemented eachother and laid one strip along the left edge........
Next, I laid a second strip, right sides together, on top of the first strip, lining up the right edge..........
Then I sewed through all layers a (roughly) 1/4" seam.............
...folded open the second strip and finger pressed it open (you can pin it at this stage to keep it in place if you wish).
I kept adding strips until the wadding was covered completely........

....then turned the whole thing over and trimmed off the overhang to the 4".
Finally, I added binding but, as there are lots of tutorials online for doing that and people have different method preferences, I'm not going to show the process.  (The truth is I'm not sure I've really cracked the binding process yet and wouldn't want to open myself up to ridicule!!!)
The most observant of you will have noticed that this finished coaster is not the same one but the original one I made.  I haven't put the binding on the other one yet as I find it the most scary part! 
Here's a back view in case you're wondering what it looks like.

I've done all the strip piecing for 8 more since  taking these photos - now I've just got to trim them and tackle the binding. :-(

I'd like to know which method you prefer?  The traditional double fold or folding the binding in half and attaching it double? And as for the corners, I try something different every time and haven't found my "favourite" way yet!!  One thing I'm pleased to have got the hang of is joining the ends of the binding even though I know I didn't do it on this (it was just too small and fiddly).

I hope this makes sense (it did to me) but if not just ask and I'll try to explain better and edit later if necessary.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 22 November 2010

Probably the Most Boring Photo in the World!

How would you like to look out on this view Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.15pm??  This is the outlook from my new office.  A dirty, yellow-ish shed wall.  It's certainly not very inspiring or cheerful but is more than a little overwhelming and claustrophobia inducing!  One consolation is that the days seem to pass a little quicker since we moved here.

But let's put that out of our minds and look as something a bit more interesting.  My OH and I joined a couple of friends on a Sunday afternoon bike ride.  Despite the cold and grey day there were lots of people along this popular foot/cycle path.  

The last time we cycled here was during better weather when we wore far fewer layers of clothing.  We don't go cycling very often and never usually in the cold weather so I was unused cycling while wearing a woolly had, gloves and jacket.  I think the walking boots were a mistake too as they made finding the correct position on the pedals a bit tricky!  I confess I came off twice due to my lack of skill with the gears.  Not exactly over-the-handlebar jobs but sedately falling sideways into the mud!

 The carrot at the end of the ride was a nice mug of hot chocolate.  Sorry, you've just got dirty mugs here but my need was greater than yours! During the ride back my OH, not wanting me to fall off again, gallantly jumped off his bike and  pushed me up the last hill while running and pushing his own bike too!

This was all very different from the last time we went in the summer. For one thing, I was fitter than I am now!  It was also nice weather and we were less encumbered with clothing.

 Bikes were parked by the river and a different kind of drink was required.  Looks like I couldn't wait then either! :-)

Another confession - I'm a bit saddle sore today! (Note to self: Must ride my bike more often!!)

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 15 November 2010

Moving and Shaking!

First today I'm going to tell you about the moving, which has to do with my day job.  We are moving offices and have a removal company in to move everything about 30 miles away.  Here are most of my crates ready packed.  I packed about 35 crates, and that was just my stuff!  We had 300 crates and used about 250 of them!! We're moving to a site where we were at previously, about 2 years ago and, depending on how things pan out, may be there for a few months and then will either have to move again or the job will end! It's the nature of the business, but it doesn't worry me which ever way it goes!

 Next, I'm going to show you my November block for the Tag Square Bee. This block is for Julianna from Poland who asked for energetic purples, oranges and reds.  I hope this is 'entergetic' enough - these are not colours I have in abundance.  I just need to finish the signature block to go with it then I can get it in the post.
 Finally for today, the 'shaking' is in reference to the Children in Need charity event I took part in over the weekend.  The idea was to perform a song from a movie of our choice.  We had to learn the song (not look at the karaoke screen), dress up and perform it.  My DD chose to do Waterloo as featured in Muriel's Wedding and needed a partner so asked me to do it with her.  Performing in public is not something she's normally that keen to do so I agreed as she was so enthusiastic, even though it clashed with BIL's 50th birthday party. It wasn't about winning or losing but about taking part and doing it for the children (but I can still hardly believe we came SECOND!!! )
We've raised about £130 between us so far in sponsorship but are hoping to get more!  Seeing as I couldn't take photos myself and my OH took only videos, all I can show at the moment is what I wore.  My DD wore the same thing but in pink with a blonde wig.  We also added huge platform boots for good measure.  How we didn't do ourselves an injury I don't know!! We had to do a quick rethink of a couple of our planned moves when we realised that the microphones weren't cordless, but all went well and we had a fun  night.  If I can get hold of any (decent) photos of the performance, I'll post them another time. 

We went on to the 50th birthday party at about 10pm and had a few hours of dancing and singing there too.  It was like having 2 nights out in one and I thoroughly enjoyed both!!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 8 November 2010

One Thing at a Time!

My decision to concentrate on one project at a time has paid off!  I've finished the scrappy, embroidered wall-hanging that has been on-the-go for a while.  I originally started this because I wanted to do some single-colour embroidery and use up some small scraps at the same time.  I like how it's turned out. :-)
As I've mentioned before, the embroidery transfers came from a 1965 women's magazine.  Most of the fabric and embroidery thread is 2nd hand/thrifted except the border and binding. I haven't measured it but, to give you a rough idea of scale, I'd guess it's about 18" x 10".
I remembered at the last minute to sew one of my labels into the binding.
I also embroiderd a little spider near one back corner (I know it looks like a beetle but it's my first one and hopefully I will improve!).  I think longer legs and a smaller body the next time.  I plan to put a spider somewhere on all my projects (if I remember) as an indication that they came from 'The Thread Shed' and, as we all know, there are lots of spiders in every shed!
I know you won't believe it but that wasn't the only stitching that was done this weekend!  It was the November meeting of my quilting club and the project of the month was a Christmas wall hanging.  There were a couple to choose from and I chose the smallest design which will be like a bell-pull when finished.  This is it so far with the gold iron-on binding stitched into place for double security.  I've cut it out and pinned it together with wadding and backing since then so it's now ready to quilt.
And double gasp - that's not all!!!  I've had in mind to make coasters (or mug rugs as I've seen them called in blogland) as Christmas presents and I finally got around to trying one out.  It came together quite quickly and is another great way to use up scraps.
I'm happy to have got so much done but I'm afraid I've made quite a lot more mess as a result!! 

Next weekend I'm taking part in a local sponsored event to raise money for Children in Need.  (I can't believe the things I get myself into sometimes!!!! :-)  More news next time - and maybe photos (unless I'm too emarrassed to show them).

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 1 November 2010

I Blame the Recipe!!

You may remember a few months ago I showed this photo of my Yorkshire Puddings.  Oh, I was so proud of them.  They were the best I'd managed to produce for quite some time. Despite the lure of Aunt Bessie's, I had refused to admit defeat and kept trying, occasionally tweeking the method and blaming the oven but, for some reason, never questioning the recipe, which was actually a pancake batter recipe but said it could be used for Yorkshire Pudding and Toad in the Hole too (Incidentally, I had successfully made TitH with this recipe!)

 Last Sunday I was in a hurry to get dinner and my DS happened to be around as he wasn't busy cooking Sunday Dinner for other people at the local hotel as usual.  He made the mistake of asking me how long dinner would be so I pounced on the opportunity and said it would be quicker if he made the Yorkshires!  These requests don't always work so I was surprised when he leapt into action.  No recipe, no instructions, nothing - he just kept adding a bit of this and a bit of that until it 'looked' right!  Just look at the result!!!! Perfect, light, HUGE, tasty Yorkshires.  Forget Aunt Bessie, these were much better, next time I use DS's recipe!!


You Shall Go To The Ball!!

I've been crafting for a long time without really realising I was hooked and keep being reminded of things I've made over the years.  This is one that popped up recently.  DD has been sorting out a few bits and pieces for me to put on ebay for her and this little Barbie-sized ball-gown was one of the items.  I think she's been reluctant to let it go because 1. I made it and 2. It's so beautiful, but she hasn't had a Barbie for such a long time it seems pointless to keep it any longer.  I remember making the dress but not all the tiny buds and leaves around the bottom!!  It must be at 15-20 years old and is still in perfect condition!  I know what DD's done though - she's put the responsibility of letting it go to me and now I'm the one who's reluctant.  But go it must!!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 25 October 2010

Trails and Tags!

  Last Christmas I had calendars made for gifts that featured some family photos.  This is October's and I smile every time I walk into the kitchen and see it on the wall.  It's my DD and DS dressed up for a Halloween party.  They took this themselves before leaving home for the party and I love that they were having a laugh together.
 The extremely organised Ali of Very Berry Handmade has tagged me this month.  I've not seen so much tagging going on in blogworld as there used to be but it's a nice idea to occasionally do to get to know eachother better through asking questions (not too personal) about subjects that may not normally come up in a post.

The idea is quite simply to answer 8 questions and then make up 8 new questions to ask another 8 bloggers.  I'll say now that I won't be tagging anyone because I hate having to choose but consider yourself tagged and feel free to take part if you like the idea.

Here are my answers to the questions I received:

1. What do you enjoy about blogging?

The most enjoyable thing for me is the interactions and friendships that have developed with bloggers, many of who include crafting as a very important part of their lives. I also enjoy getting inspiration from other crafty bloggers that encourages me to think more often ‘outside the box’.

2. What's your ideal holiday?

My ideal holiday would combine a few different elements – nice, warm weather (not too hot), a bit of relaxing and pampering, a little outdoor exercise such as walking and a couple of days on a course with new people sharing a love of singing or stitching of some kind.

3. What is your favourite comfort food?

I’m struggling with this question! I like most foods and nothing came to mind immediately, so I ran through a couple of the usual suspects in my head (chocolate, chips, bread, pizza) and none stimulated feelings of comfort. The only candidate really is the large, hot, satisfying cups of coffee that I have at the local hotel when out with friends but I suspect the ‘being with friends bit’ contributes to that!

4. What is your proudest achievement and why?

Definitely my children!! They’ve both grown up to be considerate, hard-working and thoughtful adults (never mind the fact that one of them weighed 5kg at birth!!)

5. What do you lose sleep over?

My crafting is the thing I mostly lose sleep over funnily enough. It’s not that I worry about it but I have ideas battling for space at the forefront of my mind. Sometimes I go through the virtual process of making a project to the end!

6. What's your favourite way to relax?

This is getting repetitive but if I want to be honest here then it’s once again the crafting. OH doesn’t’ understand that when I’ve finished chores for the day, I get out the craftwork and don’t sit and ‘relax’ as he sees it, maybe in front of the TV or with a book. It’s scientifically proven that crafting, of any kind, lowers blood pressure – if that’s not relaxing I don’t know what is!

7. What's your favourite film?

I love many films but especially those about the relationships between women, such as How to Make an American Quilt and Steel Magnolias but my favourite film so far has to be The Last of the Mohicans. It’s got everthing? Scenery, action, a love story, Daniel Day-Lewis and the thing that makes it – the music!!!!!

8. Where's your favourite place to shop online?

It depends on what I’m looking for but sites that come to mind are ebay, The Natural Collection and Green Metropolis when looking for books.

Here are my 8 questions for you if you feel like taking part:-

1 How did you come to start blogging?

2 What is your favourite meal to eat?

3 What item have you made with your own fair hands that you are most proud of (crafted, cooked, built etc)?

4 What was your favourite TV programme as a child.?

5 What would you do if you had a whole day with no commitments?

7 What is your favourite item of clothing or jewellery?

8 What is the most daring thing you have done?

To finish up, here are the credits for the photo 'trails'. 
The lovely sky picture with aeroplane trails is the view as I come off the carriageway on the way home from work and am almost home.  I took this last week while parked on the slip-road in a very precarious position but I couldn't resist it!

The stitch trail is my attempt at stipple hand-quilting.  I'm not sure if I like it yet but I'll do a bit more before I decide.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Autumn Sunshine!

I've had a lovely weekend.  Saturday morning was my regular Singing group meeting and in the afternoon I went for a browse at a Craft Fair held here at the local school hall. 

(Half way up The Dingle I stopped to catch my breath to photograph the autumn colours)
Not having had time to fit in any exercise on Sunday morning and not wanting to waste such a fabulous late summer day, I persuaded OH to join me for a walk.  He chose the location and drove us to the yard from where his estate work is based and we headed off up The Dingle.
When we neared the top and I turned around I was astounded to see how far and wide the view extended.  And was surprised to find I could fit (l-r) the Blorenge, the Sugaloaf and the Skirrid mountains all in this one photo.

At the top of the hill was a small herd of these lovely dark brown cattle.  The mother here was contentedly munching away, ignoring us, but the calf was quite wary!
Through fields and over stiles, we came to a gap in the trees.
On the way down the field was filled with sheep not cattle.   I think they must have been an old breed with their long tails and brown front and back legs. She was a bit wary too - one more step closer and off she scuttled (do sheep scuttle - oh well, it seemed appropriate)!

Oh, and what would a lovely weekend be without a bit of stitching.  Above is just under half of the HSTs joined together. 
Here's the mini quilt coming together with the scraps from the quilt above surrounding the transfers (now embroidered) that have been waiting on the kitchen table for a few months for me to use.
Only some quilting and binding to do on this. Famous last words!!

Bye for now
Teresa x