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!