Friday, 17 October 2014

This Moment

Here's a link to Soulemama's moment, and here's mine...

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Lets Go Fly A Kite Mini Quilt

I finished up the mini quilt from Venetia's drawing. Here it is freshly drawn by Venetia...

It was quite straightforward to machine embroider it...

I added a piece of wool backing and drew in some quilting lines to follow - they're supposed to be clouds!

And here they are sewn...

And then I decided to finish it with a blue, patchwork border-come-binding, with just one yellow, sunshine square up in the corner. I had been planning to quilt the patchwork, but now it's done I think I want to leave it plain.

Maria has also now done her drawing, which will again be quite quick to embroider, but I can't decide whether to go down the same route with the quilting and the blue patchwork, or whether to try something completely different instead. What do you think?


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Take 5, Maria style

In theory, Maria would have started full time school last year. In practice we felt that, at only just over 4, she wasn't ready for it and we kept her out of full time education. She still went to her pre-school for a couple of sessions a week, and it worked beautifully for her. In fact, it worked so beautifully that, come this year, we questioned why we would change anything. I should say, we're very happy with our local school, Venetia is settled there and enjoys it. But Maria has flourished over the last year from not being in school. Having said that, she enjoyed her sessions at pre-school and the interaction with the other children there. Fortunately, the school is very flexible and open to working with parents, so after lots of deliberating we decided this year that Maria would do half and half - half the week at school and half at home.

I think it's a bit too early to be sure that it's going to work. There have been times when I've felt that maybe she's not getting the best of either world, but also times when I've felt we are doing the right thing. And if we get to a point when we decide it isn't working, then we can always change it either way.

So basically, in our half of the week at home Maria and I have been getting up to lots of fun things. My plan is not to be sitting down trying to 'teach' her in this time, I don't feel she needs that at the moment still. We're trying to spend time outside, see friends who also aren't at school, make time for Maria's own independent play and, of course, encourage lots of creativity.

So there have been trips to parks...

A very relaxing swing!

Walks to enjoy our beautiful surroundings...

And all the seasonal nature around us...

As well as time spent in the garden

I cleared out quite a few ancient pots of spices - some of mine and some I inherited from my parents and Maria has loved making potions and soups with them.

And quiet time inside.

This is a 'Spot the differences' game that Maria decided to make for me.
Children are such incredible, little explorers and Maria constantly amazes me. But, I've now gone on for ages already explaining what we're doing, and the point of this post was actually just that I seem to have a collection of activities from our time together that might be perfect for a 'Take 5' Maria style. So...

1) Cooking is a favourite activity - lunches, tea preparations, flapjacks, cookies... but the clear winner, in Maria's eyes over these last few weeks might have to be chocolate hedgehog cakes with prickles made from flakes!

I spotted this cake on Pinterest originally to inspire these.

2) Fabric painting is still extremely popular. After seeing this Apple Bunting, we decided to make our own version:

We used halved apples for printing on to the fabric, then Maria drew on the stalks and leaves. I sewed them up into squares and we just used little craft pegs to hang them from garden twine.

The sight of these new potatoes set us off with some potato printing too.

 They looked perfect for fish to us.


I'm hoping I might turn this into a mini quilt, as a present for Maria to give to Theo, of all people. He half hankers after keeping fish as pets, so I'm thinking if I add a black border or maybe just thick black binding and some quilting detail, this might look a little like a fish tank up on his wall?! Maria likes the idea anyway! And she's considering what else she might paint as presents for other family members.

3) After enjoying a giant spiders' web between trees at our nearby RHS gardens, we decided to create our own in the woods next to us. We just took some bright green garden string and wound it around a couple of likely trees for a quick and easy version.

Maria kindly took a picture of me attempting to climb through too!

4) We've been planting lots of bulbs.

Some for us, for instance in our new lawn seed spreader, plant trough!

But lots in pots as Christmas presents for family and friends too.

A pot of hyacinths always fills a room with such a gorgeous scent, I think they make lovely presents. We've got some going for us in a glass pot with glass beads and water too, so Maria will be able to see the roots growing.

5) I bought a few cheap bags of large wooden beads in a charity shop recently. And we've been enjoying drawing funny faces on them and turning them into little dangly people.

With a 'belly button' as well, of course!
I've also seen a lovely idea for drawing and painting faces of family on to wooden beads - here - we might both of us try this.

In fact, half a week really isn't enough!


Monday, 13 October 2014

Crafty Blog Hop

Last week I was tagged by the lovely Kim over at Mothering with Mindfulness, to take part in a crafty blog hop. It's always lovely to be tagged in anything like that, especially when tagged by a blog that I enjoy reading so much, so obviously I always want to take part. But I'm feeling like a bit of a fraud this time because it's very much the same as a quilting blog hop I took part in just a few weeks ago. These are the 4 questions I'm supposed to answer:

What am I working on at the moment?
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Why do I create what I do?
How does my creating/writing process work?

I'll cover the first one again in a minute, since, predictably, I'm working on different things right now. But if you're interested in proper answers to the other 3 questions then take a look back here. I thought tonight, I might just give you 3 random, non-making, facts about me instead, facts that really aren't likely to come up in normal blog conversation here.

But first the what am I working on. I am really trying to concentrate on just working on Christmas present making at the moment. Especially since I heard on the radio today that there are only another 7 Mondays until Christmas! Aaaagh, how did that happen?! But the trouble is that I keep getting distracted by other things, and to be fair there are also quite a few birthday presents to be made before Christmas as well. One thing that might be a present is this drawing Venetia has done for me on some fabric.

It's a little bit confused with different lines showing, but I have been given full instructions on which legs etc are the 'true' legs.
It's another reminder of our kite flying fun over the Summer. I'm going to machine embroider the drawing, add a border and quilt it, to turn it into a mini quilt. Maria wants to do one for me too, so I think one will be for us to keep and one to give away - to our kite flying accomplice, Harry's Mum, who was staying with us at the time.

I've also been enjoying having some hand sewing on the go recently, and finished my final hexie snowflake at the end of last week:

My plan now is to applique these on to a wool blanket. But I enjoyed sewing the hexies so much that I felt the need to start off some more hexie sewing at the weekend!

These are cut from borders on old wool blankets. Often plain cream or white blankets which I find have colourful stripey borders. And I've been thinking for a long time that I'd like to make something specifically with these borders. All of a sudden hexies seemed the perfect project for them, especially as a couple of my reject snowflakes had check patterns on the fabric...

... and it was really interesting seeing how they worked as hexies. I think I've enjoyed the stripes on these wool ones even more, and another bonus with the wool is that I haven't had to 'paper piece' them, with hems turned over. The wool is robust enough and anti-fray enough to just cut and hand stitch together. I'm hoping they're going to turn into a small baby blanket.

OK, so on to the harder part - 3 random facts, I'm slightly wondering why this seemed like a good idea at the time!

Fact 1 - I used to play bridge to quite a high level when I was younger and before we had children. It's how Harry and I met (he also played) and it's something that gave me the opportunity to travel a bit - to lots of European countries and as far as China too. Playing seriously eats up lots of time and we were both very happy to stop when we had children. But Harry has just started trying to teach Sam and Theo how to play, and has suddenly got the bug again himself. So we've been dabbling at our 'local' bridge club a little over the last few weeks. I definitely haven't 'got the bug again' in the same way, but it has been enjoyable to go off and do something 'grown up' together.

Fact 2 - I have always had a very strong affinity with water. I think my earliest childhood memory is of falling into a small lake at a local park. I was fully dressed at the time and vividly remember dripping all the way home. My speciality, however, was to fall in and to somehow pull my Dad in at the same time. This happened several times over my childhood - I remember stepping stones in particular were perfect for this!

Fact 3 - I was thinking I'd tell you my favourite book, but I can't narrow it down even into single figures, so I'll tell you my favourite film instead - 'Friendly Persuasion'. It's from way back in 1956 and it's the story of a family of Quakers in the American Civil War. Personally I think it's a wonderful film, with a lovely, warm feel to it. And when I was just checking the date for it, I also found out something new about it - Wikipedia is an amazing thing! Apparently:

'Friendly Persuasion also became a footnote to world history in the 1980's when United States President Ronald Reagan made a gift of the film to Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev at one of their five summit meetings, suggesting that he view the film as symbolic of the need to find an alternative to war as a means of resolving differences between peoples.'

So there you go, my new thing learnt for the day! 


Friday, 10 October 2014

This Moment

Here's a link to Soulemama's moment, and here's mine...

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . .

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Take 5

1) I'm making some progress with my hexie sewing. They're becoming snowflakes. I started out planning to make 3 the same size from different fabrics:

But once I'd finished them, I didn't quite like how they worked together. So I'm now trying 3 different sizes in the same fabric. I just have the smallest to go.

2) In honour of the 'Bake Off' Final tonight, there has to be a baking recipe in here! This is what's being repeatedly requested round here at the moment:

Sort of Danish Pastry type things, not very healthy but very delicious!

For the dough
1 tsp yeast
450g/8oz strong white flour
2 tsp sugar
50g/2 oz butter
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
200 ml milk

Additional ingredients
30g/1 oz butter, melted
200g sultanas, or other dried fruit as desired
75g/3 oz soft brown sugar
1 tsp mixed spice

I stick this in my bread maker to do the hard work for me, but if not then combine the dough ingredients, knead thoroughly and leave to prove.

Once your dough is ready, give it a good knead again and then roll out into an oblongish shape on a floured surface. Brush with the melted butter.

Combine the additional dry ingredients, and sprinkle evenly over the dough. Then roll up the dough, from a short edge.

Cut into slices.

Place on a non stick baking tray, and make sure you poke down any sultanas into the swirls, otherwise they are likely to burn.

Bake in a medium hot oven, until golden brown. Allow to cool then drizzle with plain icing and enjoy!

3) I found this Lawn Seed Spreader abandoned by the road a while back and brought it back.

It was (and still is!) quite rusty and battered. Originally I picked it up for the wheels - Theo was after some to build a Go Kart kind of thing. But I liked the colour and the shape, and Theo wasn't convinced these wheels would work for him, so it's now been put to different use:

I've removed the handle and drilled a couple of holes to screw it onto an outside wall, to turn it into a plant trough. I don't mind the rust, in fact I quite like it, and I think it'll look great with flowers planted in there, but Harry will most likely think I've gone a bit potty when he sees it!

It already has a couple of holes in the bottom so I didn't need to add any for drainage.

4) Another slightly odd make, a small doll made from recycled wool with a mandarin orange for a head!

I spotted a very similar one on Pinterest, it's amazing what pops up in my feed! And it just so happened that it was exactly the kind of thing I wanted (long story). Unfortunately it was on Etsy but already sold (just what someone else wanted too, how bizarre!), so I made my own version.

5) This is a very good time of year for thrifting, I find. Lots of charity shops seem to have a big change round of stock at this time of year, so all of a sudden fresh bits and pieces are available. There have been quite a few happy finds recently. Like these gorgeous, vintage sheets for instance:

But my favourite find, and you know it's got to be good if it beats those sheets, has been this amazing Cuckoo Clock:

I don't know why, but I have always wanted a Cuckoo Clock. I love them! And this beauty just happened to be for sale in one of my favourite Charity Shops. How fortuitous is that?! And it was in great condition and fully working. It has 2 heavy metal 'pine cone' weights (you can see them in the photo above) on very long chains that work their way to the floor, as the 'winding up' mechanism, with a pendulum behind. And strangely enough, as soon as my Dad saw it he said his parents used to have an almost identical clock, even down to the pine cone weights, hanging in their home when he was very young, which he also loved. He didn't know what had happened to that clock, and hadn't thought about it for years and years, but perhaps my love of cuckoo clocks is inherited in some way! Genetics is fascinating!

Anyway, the thing I love most about my clock is, of course, the cuckoo! Out he pops on the hour and half past, to 'cuckoo' the appropriate number of times. Every time I hear him, he makes me smile! The children, particularly the girls, quite like him too! Here he is popping out:

Quite often bedtime negotiation is now based around the cuckoo - 'I'll go to bed when the cuckoo has come out!'. And since the cuckoo has just popped out, I'll be off to bed too! Goodnight.