Wednesday, 19 December 2007
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
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......
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
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
I also stamped tissue paper for wrapping with a new heart stamp I acquired recently at a bargain price!
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
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
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!
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
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.
Friday, 16 November 2007
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!
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
Sunday, 11 November 2007
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
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.
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
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
Wednesday, 7 November 2007
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
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
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.
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.
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
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
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
Saturday, 29 September 2007
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
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