Tuesday, 28 September 2010


I took the last Roman blind down to my Mum's yesterday for hanging.  It is a monster of a blind - 96" wide.

I spent an hour or so in the morning adding the final touches, having done the hand-sewing at the weekend.  My corners were neatly mitred, which always pleases me hugely.

My eyelets were all positioned for the cords to run smoothly through.

Off I went and teetered all along her kitchen worktop only to find that once it was up it looked horrendous!  No amount of coaxing the fabric to lie smoothly could stop me from taking it all down again (moodily, I might add) and it is now rolled up in my workroom waiting for my temper to cool down enough to start the mammoth task of unpicking all the hand-stitching and all the machine stitching to make another lining.

Not only does it need another lining but I am also wondering about using a lightweight interlining as well to give it a bit of body.  I have bought some more wood to use as a weight along the bottom edge which I'm hoping will give it some substance too.  And maybe double up on the eyelets...

No quilting for me for a bit...

Saturday, 25 September 2010


Kristina and I visited Kew again yesterday.  It has been a constant source of changing wonders through the seasons so far this year.  We managed to dodge the rain, but somehow the raindrops enhanced the autumnal feel, particularly the way they nestled on the autumn-flowering crocus.

They looked especially good against the background of dark, damp soil.

The colour was predominantly green around the gardens...

...with accents of brightly coloured berries on the hollies and sorbus'.

Now it really does feel like the season has changed.  There is a definite chill in the air and I am wearing socks!

Thursday, 23 September 2010


I would never say I was a pink kinda girl, so it's always mystified me why I ever went for a predominantly pink blog design.  Today my blog is three years old and so it is time for a new look.  I probably wouldn't say I was a black and white kinda girl either, but I do like the clean look.  What do you think?  I'm very happy with the larger photos and the border around them.

So, what have I been up to?  I visited the Abergavenny Food Festival last weekend.  In a word, it was heaving!  I don't think I barely got to the front of any stall to see what was on offer and my camera stayed in my bag the whole time.  Who knew it would be so popular?  I'm not great in crowds at the best of times.  Never mind, I have food of my own to share with you.  Of the egg kind.  My new girls have started laying already.  Mini eggs to start with, but they are getting bigger every day.

Damsons have been picked from my mum's garden and made into jam - something I've not made for a long, long time.

Very good on scones, by the way!

My workroom has shamed me into photographing it... organized chaos, of course.  Nevertheless, I have started to tackle a major clear up of the house downstairs which has been long overdue.

Trips to Ikea have been made and progress is steady!

It's one of those jobs that has huge knock-on effects and the first part was to put some shelving into a store cupboard that was a total waste of space with just one shelf and a pile of goodness-knows-what on the floor...  You know the kind of thing, I'm sure.

To keep me sane, I have been quilting.  Some secret quilts for Christmas so I'm going to have to be very cagey about how much I show in case there are any spies out there...

Plus writing, of course.  I'm trying hard to overcome my self-consciousness in putting words down that don't sound too mushy.

Hmmm, a post that is neither here nor there.  Still, hopefully it's cleared my head a little.  Off to make Delia's goulash-y meatballs for dinner - YUM!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

My creative space...

...is all about curtain-making this week.  Which requires some modifications to my kitchen table in order to save my back!

I have finally joined in this game, you can see more over here.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Pecking order...

I'd like to introduce you to my two new girls.

Ethel is a very pretty Sussex Star and Elsie is a Speckled Star.  I have had to consult my hen-keeping book to read up on the best way to introduce newcomers.  I have kept them in the run and let Flossie roam free around the garden as usual but when I put Flossie in last night, Ethel gave her an almighty peck on the back of her neck which made her cower horribly.  So I decided to remove Flossie from the coop and allow the other two to make their way into it for their first night.  Flossie stayed in the garage in a cat box with some straw! 

It took quite a bit of persuasion on my behalf for Ethel and Elsie to go to bed in the coop!  Imagine the scene with me trying to catch them, leaning in through the door of the run!

This morning, Flossie is tidying the garden while the others are being kept in the run.  She is also taking liberties by fussing around in the kitchen as I prepare lunch, knowing that I'm feeling a bit sorry for her!

I decided to call them after two elderly neighbours that I remember from my childhood.  They were sisters, I think, and lived with their brother, Arthur, and a dog called Beauty in the house next door.  The nice thing is though that Elsie was also my paternal grandmother's name.  She died before I was born and Flossie and Lily were her sisters, so the names are still connected in some way.

I absolutely love the delicate necklace that Ethel is wearing!  I'm not really that keen on white chickens, but with such markings, I was happy to change my opinion!

Monday, 6 September 2010

That time of year...

The dahlias are for picking at the nursery so it must mean the end of summer.  I know I am not alone in thinking that September signals the start of a new year with the beginning of the academic year.  I feel like I need to look back on the summer as a playful interlude and that plans that have been talked and thought about need to be put into practice.

No2 went back to school today - into Year 10, how on earth did that happen?  He's had an eventful summer of pushing his luck and his boundaries.  He looked all grown up in his blazer this morning and as soon as he'd left, I was clock watching for him to come home again.  He text me within minutes of coming out of school to say that he'd been moved up, not one but two sets this year.  At the beginning of this year, due to his difficulties during the previous terms, his year head had made the decision to move him down a set as his behaviour had affected his academic progress.  He was absolutely mortified and it seems he became determined to rectify the situation.  Today's news is wonderful and I am so pleased for and with him.  So, he is now starting his GCSE's and I'm really hoping he will work hard and realise his potential.  We talked about working hard and playing hard to find a balance to the next few years.

I need to get some discipline in place myself too.  I have decided that if I write about it here, it will be real and therefore I will have to actually make a start.  You see, I have been asked to write a book.  I will be writing alongside one of the bereavement team at Helen House.  She is someone who I have shared many hours with over the last two and a half years, both on a one-to-one level and as part of a larger group.  I cannot begin to tell you how flattered I am to be asked to collaborate in such a project.  We will be writing a book about losing a child.  It will be my personal experiences and those that I have shared with other bereaved parents I have met over the last four years, married with what is known from research and studies on grief and bereavement.  We want it to be aimed at people who have lost a child or are anticipating such a loss.  Over the last three months we have worked on an outline and at the beginning of the summer holidays we met with the Chief Executive and Clinical Director and were given the go-ahead.  So now I need to write.  My first deadline is next Friday and I have spent the last ten days mulling over where to start.  I think I have my first line.  Or maybe that should be my first first line.

My strategy is to find a balance that involves plenty of creativity which I am hoping will inspire me to tackle some painful and honest accounts of how it feels to have your entire life turned on its head.  I need to have my home filled with colour and flowers - the two things that keep me sane.  The dahlia fields are calling me...

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

On a roll...

It seems that I have developed a fixation for cushion-making.  I've had these fabrics sitting patiently in my workroom for a couple of months now and knew exactly where I wanted them.

Then, suddenly, late this morning I had the urge to put it all into practice.  The cushions on the sofa are quite big so I decided to join some offcuts of batting to make a piece large enough rather than cutting into a bigger piece.  Using up the waste materials from other projects goes a long way to make me feel better about buying fabric all the time! 

Having pinned the pieces of batting to some muslin, I then used a wide zigzag stitch on my machine to join them together.

You can barely see the join and so I have marked this down as a complete success.

I wanted to try out some quilt-as-you-go projects and these seemed like a good size to give it a go.  I've been totally inspired by Andi's cushions and quilts over the last few months so I studied the photos in this post and got sewing.

I tried not to get too stressed about the straightness and widths of the quilting lines - I've read on other quilt blogs that this makes it organic.  I do organic!

Once I'd started, there was no stopping me.  My machine was flying!  Of course, it helped that I absolutely love this fabric line.

The machine quilting makes a wonderfully textured feel to the cloth and is quite different from my usual hand-quilting.

I completed the first one in a couple of hours and decided to harness the rhythm and make the second one too.

I even forgot to eat!  Now I have a relaxing bit of hand-sewing the bindings on in the morning and my sofa will be almost halfway to being revamped.

It's funny because I felt very out of sorts this morning and spent the first few hours of today in a dreamy state that I couldn't snap out of for a while.  But now I shall be going to bed feeling more than satisfied with my days work.