Sunday, 31 January 2010

Jelly Roll Update

You will remember, perhaps, the story of the jelly roll and how I did not like what I made, here. I made a quilt top from the other half of the jelly roll (here), and it is still to be sandwiched and quilted.

I still had a load of the original jelly roll squares, which were going to be made into a rail fence quilt. I did not like it at all, so I cut out some squares, using two different colours of pink, and this is the result. (Sorry about the picture. We have snow storms today, and the light is awful!)

I only did this with half the squares, and last night I had a play with the blocks, to get a pleasing layout. That was when I realised the triangular blocks are, of course, now a different size! DUH! This quilt does not want to be made. I can't resize the strip blocks, as that will make one of the end strips too skinny. I am going to unpick two strips, and replace the centre one with a skinnier, pink strip. If this quilt doesn't start behaving, it will go on the UFO pile!!
It is my own fault. I just didn't think!! I have had a cold since Christmas, and that is my excuse for muddled thinking.

Thankful Thoughts
I did the last walk with Penny , our dog, last night, as Mr D was tired. It was beautiful. I managed to time the walk between the snow/hail showers, and the wind was making the clouds scuttle across the sky. The moon was supposed to be shining really brightly the night before, but as it was, I did not need a torch to see Penny, and when the clouds parted, I could see Mars really close to the moon. Beautiful to be out, but even nicer to get into a nice warm bed!!

Monday, 25 January 2010


When I am worried or uptight, I don't seem to be able to enjoy sewing. I do try, but I prefer reading, or doing something else. My sister is ill and will have brain surgery, to remove a tumor within the next two weeks. I have been reading, puttering about and looking at the Electric Quilt 6 software. I bought this last year, but have not opened it since. I thought it was going to be difficult and would need a lot of time to learn it. I have only done the first chapter, but, so far, it is really easy to use. I have done a few patterns and had a nosy where I shouldn't, but it looks great! I should have done it long before!

I also got onto a local patchwork shop to get some fat quarters. When I say local, it is 120 miles away on the Scottish Mainland. I had to give the general idea of what I wanted, as the shop did not have samples. She sent me a lovely variety, but the cost!! I paid the equivalent of $4.36 for a fat quarter! I could get a yard of Kona cotton for less than that in the States! I do like to use local shops if I can, but I think in future I will be trawling the Net more, and buying internationally. I did get some really pretty cottons, but I still have to do something with the squares I made initially from the Moda jelly roll (here), so that comes first. Trouble is I like to flit from one project to another. Butterfly-brain definitely comes to mind.

Thankful Thoughts
I was listening to the radio this morning, and the Equality Commission is going to lobby government, to allow people to work as long as they want. If it goes through, people could work into their eighties, nineties, as long as they were competent at the work they do. I felt tired just listening to the programme. I retired two years early, and I am so glad I did so. It was a big decission, as we were going to change location, lifestyle, everything. But it worked, and it is peaceful. I think that is what I like the most. Peace.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Another UFO

I put a block of the Jewel Box quilt together today. I have already said that I had painstakingly cut out each part, years ago, so it is really slow, pinning and sewing these bits together. I am only going to do a block now and again, as there are forty eight pieces in each block. I want to get another UFO finished, before I do more of this one.
Thankful thoughts.
I have some really nice friends. Thanks for all your support.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

This is our little dog called Penny. She is a border terrier and just over a year old. She loves everyone, even the cat.

I have only been doing a little sewing these last few days. My sister in Canada is seriously ill, and I have been finding it hard to concentrate.
Thankful Thoughts
I am really thankful I have such a nice family. It is not large, but it is loving. Say a prayer for my sister.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Buttons and Blocks

This is a record for me. Three posts in two days. I just wanted to show off some yummy buttons. Years ago I bought a huge button display box from a shop that was closing down. When we subsequently moved from the country into a smaller house in town, I gave the box to my son, but took some of the buttons out of it for myself. This bag was FULL. I thought I would get them sorted out, so had fun dividing them up into small trays. The colours are wonderful.

I also found a very old box with squares and triangles cut out to make some Jewel Box blocks. I had marked round a template for EACH patch, so I have to pin each one to sew it together. Obviously I had never heard of Eleanor Burns in those days!! I will do a few patches a day, as pinning is a pain!

I have still a few ornaments to show, but have not rotated the pictures. Perhaps tomorrow.

100+ Reading List

Click here to find out about the challenge.

1. Cause of Death - Patricia Cornwell
The seventh Dr Kay Scarpetta novel. Used to be a great Cornwall fan, but found the later novels had lost their sparkle. Read this one after a long gap. Enjoyed it even if the ending was rather rushed.
2. Dinner for Two -Mike Gayle
Bit of fluff audio book. Listen to audio books when I am sewing. Easy listening.
3. Dance of the Gods - Nora Roberts.
Picked this up, as she is always rated in the New York Times list. This is the middle book of the Circle Trilogy, which I didn't realise. I still read it and thoroughly enjoyed the vampire slaying, magic and romance. I might even get the first and last book to fill in the blanks. Not my usual choice, but it was an easy read.
4. The Red Dahlia - Linda La Plante.
Audio book about a copycat killer, who brutally murders a young girl, mirroring an infamous 1940's case in Los Angeles. The story was a little slow to begin with, but was interesting, nevertheless.
5. A Whispered Name - William Broderick.
This book was advertised in our library, as it had won a crime writer's award. (sorry I can't give more details, as I have lost the poster!) It was written by an ex-monk, and based partially in a monastery. One of the monks is trying to solve a mystery about another dead monk. This monk had formerly been a soldier in WW1 and involved in a trial and subsequent shooting of a deserter. I found the beginning of the book very confusing, but I had to finish the book. The prose was beautiful, but I could only read a chapter at a time. Interesting, but I did not really enjoy it.
6. Medusa - Michael Dibdin. An Aurelio Zen Mystery.
This thirty year old murder is based in Italy. The story is politically based, and although I found some of the Italian terms confusing, at times, I enjoyed the story, and would read another Aurelio Zen mystery.
7. The Angel of Death - P.C Doherty.
Hugh Corbett, Edward I's clerk, is asked to solve the murder of Walter de Montefort at High Mass, because the person with most motive is Edward himself. Hugh is put under extreme pressure, but is able, in the end, to work out how de Montfort was killed, using pure logic. An easy, listen-to audio tape.
8. Black Dog - Stephen Booth.
Teenager Laura Vernon is missing, then found by pensioner, Harry Dickinson, but the police believe he is hiding something. Young Detective Ben Cooper and ruthless Det. Diane Fry must understand the past to understand the present. No one is perfect, or as innocent as they see. Lots of twists and tuns in the plot.
9. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger.
This is a love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-one and Henry thirty. Once I got it into my head, that Henry's age changed, so that he could be younger or older, whilst Clare stayed the same, I really got into the book. It showed that time-traveling, in Henry's case, could not be controlled, and therefore the situations, in which he found himself could not be controlled. A really moving book, which made me think. Lovely.
10. Love and Devotion - Erica James.
Harriet Swift has to give up her flat, her job, her boyfriend and life as she knew it, because her sister and brother-in-law die, leaving two children, who Harriet has promised to look after. This event causes a chain reaction to family members and friends, and nothing will ever be the same in Harriet's life again. A big book, but a good, easy read.
11. Souls of Angels - Thomas Eddison.
Set in Los Angeles in the nineteenth century, Sister Rea, a Beneditine Nun, returns to her home to try and save her father, the Patron, from being executed in eight days time for the murder of a pregnant prostitute. This is a tale of love, redemption and revenge. The Patron is seemingly mad, dressing up daily in different cosumes, and who is the sinister figure in a brown suit, who is trying to murder Sister Rea? An extremely unusual story. I did not enjoy it, but it had a good twist at the end.
12. The Cat who smelled a Rat - Lillian Jackson Braun.
Set in the village of Pickax in Moore County, this tale is a blend of crime, silky cats and endearing characters. It is also free of violence and harsh language, which is most unusual nowadays. Koko and Yum Yum, two, highly intelligent cats, help their owner, Qwilleran, solve the case of the burning fire houses.
13 & 14. Morrigan's Cross, (Dance of the Gods), Valley of Silence - Nora Roberts.
The library van had book 1 & 3 of the vampire trilogy (see review No.3), so I started back at the beginning of the circle. This is a rip-roaring adventure, vampires, stakings and bloodthirsty fights. Great fun. An easy read.
15. Getting Mad, Getting Even - Annie Sanders. I really enjoyed this book! It was poignant, funny and really well-observed. Two friends run a domestic agency for the uber-rich, supplying plumbers, maids and even getting a client's dog dyed to match its owner's dress. Then, one evening, they are visited by a lady, who asks them to help her get revenge on an erring husband. The girls do it so successfully, that the word spreads, and the fun, and trouble, starts from there. Great read!
16. When the Bough Breaks - Johnathan Kellerman. When a little girl witnesses the prelude to a double, gruesome murder, Alex Delaware, child psychologist, is called in to help the police to see if he can get her to talk. The plot twists and turns, as do the pages! Really clever plot. I am definitely going to read Mr Kellerman again.
17. Picnic - Lesley McDowell. I absolutely detested this book. Why did I read it? It started off quite well, about an academic who changes job, and who also has a fraught relationship with her mother. The grandmother went missing, and the mother will not tell the daughter the circumstances. The reader has to get hints from innuendo, at the beginning, and the author obviously draws on her experiences as a former academic, to describe the angst the daughter feels in her new job. The grandmother was the only one who had had the nerve to get up and go. I felt like telling the rest of the characters to follow suit!
18.Betrayal in Death - J.D. Robb. Full of gory murders, fast pace action, futuristic detecting and gorgeous men. Who could ask for more? Nora Roberts under the pseudonym of J. D. Robb at her best.
19. Blindfold - Lyndon Stacy. Gideon Blake, artist and animal behaviourist is blindfolded and kidnapped and is told to tame a wild stallion, without taking the blindfold off. Thus starts the adventure, which leas to arson, aggression, violence and romance. Quite a good story, but how the hero survived so many punch ups is something else!
21. Ratcatchers - James McGee. Audio book. This story touches on the beginnings of the Bow Street Runners, espionage, conspiracy, underwater submersibles, and Napoleon's spies in Britain. What has the highwayman got to do with the sultry French emigree and Hawkhead, the Bow Street Runner, who has to track him down. Look forward to the next one.
22. In the Dark House - Deborah Crombie. Great plot which twists and turns. Lots of seaparate incidents, from fires in warehouses, a hospital administrator who disappears, a 10 year old girl held hostage by an anonymous woman and at the centre DC Kincaid and DI Gemma James working to get it all worked out. Great listen!
23.The last Wish - Andrzej Sapkowski This author is seemingly a European superstar, and I can understand why. Tis story was translated from Polish, and i could not put it down. Geralt is a witcher who wanders from place to place, killing demons and monsters. Sounds pretty far fetched, but Sapkowsky weaves in well know fables and legends, but from a completely different perspective, to which we have been used. Really good story, well written (and translated). Will look out for more titles.
24. To Catch a Stone - Elizabeth Lord. A very poor attempt at a Catherine Cookson type story. The plot was unbelievable and boring. Would not read any more of her books!
25. Divided Loyalties - Patricia Scanlan. Really good story about family siblings and the dynamics between the two sisters and brother, the father and the husbands. I really enjoyed this and could not guess how it was going to end.
26. Playing Away - Adele Parks. Audio Book. Why is it that women who have everything, loving husband, good job, fantastic friends and a great social, fall for real creeps. You know the type - great looker who can't see past the end of his nose. All the women fall for him hook, line and sinker, but he is a LOUSE! Enjoyed this thoroughly! Great listen!
27. The Shipping News - Annie Proulx. Audio Book. I loved this book. It is full of fishing lore, off beat romance and wildly eccentric characters. Quoyle is a timid newspaperman, whose wife dies running away with another man. He retreats to Newfoundland with his two children and his non-conformist aunt. He survives the first harsh winter, and with help from the enduring, local characters, he eventually finds love and himself in this bleak climate.
28. A Death Left Hanging -Sally Spencer. Why did Margaret Dodds insist that she was innocent of a brutal murder, yet allow an incompetent barrister represent her? Why thirty years later does her daughter, a prominent QC insist her mother was wrongly hanged and that the case should be reopened? Not an overly exciting read, but it had a good twist at the end.
29. Forty Words For Sorrow - Giles Blunt. Det John Cardinal does not give up, when four teenagers go missing, in seemingly unrelated circumstances. Cardinal has a lot of personal stresses, with a depressed wife, who is frequently hospitalised, a daughter who is going to an extremely expensive university and the knowledge that he has done something corrupt in his early career. Two bodies are found, extremely mutilated, and the police realise it is only a matter of time before the latest victim will be killed in a horrendous manner. Sometimes there was too much detail of the manner in which the murders were committed, but a good listen, nevertheless. Not for the faint-hearted!
30. Strangers in Death -Nora Roberts. Usual format. Gutsy detective married to a jaw- dropping, good looking business man, who owns a good part of the world in 2060. Dalls has to find out who murdered Thomas Anders in such a scandalous and titillating manner. Easy read. Enjoyable.
31. Compulsion - Jonathan Kellerman. Picked this up without realising it was another Alexdelaware mystery. Who is the murderer who has butchered four women, without anyone being able to give a good description of the felon? Easy read, but maybe not as good as the last one.
32. These Foolish Things - Deborah Moggach. Imagine a retirement home set up in India to take care of British pensioners, who are looking for something different in their retirement. Cheap accommodation and plentiful staff and mango juice with their gin. This audio book was entertaining and different. I enjoyed listening to it.
33. To Kill a Witch - Bill Knox. This is the first Thane and Knox mystery I have read. It was a simple story, but I would read another by the same author.
34. The Cold Moon -Jeffrey Deaver. The Watchmaker is a cool, sadistic serial killer, or is he? This was a fantastic audio book. The turns and the twists in the plot kept on going right to the last minute of the cd. Thoroughly enjoyed this. Must get another John Deaver when I am at the library.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy!

The WI are holding a card evening tonight, and I was asked, along with other people, to bring a plate of savouries and a plate of sweet things. I thought I might as well do some extra, as the oven was on. This is the result -

A large quiche,
a dozen individual quiches,
a dozen sweet mincemeat tartlets,
a dozen sweet mincemeat pies
and a large sweet mincemeat pie.
Some will go to the card night, some have already been eaten, %-), and the rest will go in the freezer.

This afternoon I was also busy. I have been finishing off two presents for my granddaughters.

I bought these baskets years ago, knowing I would make bedding for them sometime. I made a mattress, a pillow and three blankets for each bed. Two blankets have lace, and the other blanket has each girl's name, embroidered with my lovely Bernina 630E. I also embroidered their names on ribbons, tied to the tops of the beds. Hopefully there will be no arguements as a result.

More Christmas ornaments -

A folded star. First one is in ribbon, which is not successful. The second one is in foiled paper.
This ornament is very scabby and falling to pieces, but if you were over sixty years old and shoved into a box for most of your life, perhaps you would be too! This is another war time ornament, cut out carefully and stuck together.
I did not finish this post before I went to the cards. All my pies and mini quiches were eaten, and I got the booby prize - some really nice napkins for the table. I am hopeless at cards, but I really enjoyed myself.
Thankful Thoughts
The bad weather in Britain is supposed to be worse tonight, with the temperatures going down even further. I am therefore glad that my fireplace is finally finished, apart from a tiny bit of cosmetic work, so we are really warm and cosy, even if the electric goes out. Thank You.
Till next time.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

January!! (Photo heavy)

As well as the excitement of a brand new year, with goal setting and aspiring to keep resolutions, I think the beginning of January can also be a little sad. All the colourful decorations are taken down, the tree is bereft (see above) and suddenly the house looks bare! The decorations have to be carefully packed away, but I promised you I would show you some of my ornaments, some hand-made by me or by special friends, or some really special ones, tied forever to loving memories. We were supposed to be going down to see my grandchildren, to give them their presents this week, but the snow is so bad in the whole of Britain, (the worst winter for 50 years, according to the News tonight) we have had to cancel our plans. I was going to show these photos on the blog, when I was away, but it looks as if we won't get down for some time, so Christmas ornaments in February would look a bit strange!! A lot of my ornaments are a little 'tired', but they will never be thrown out!

I think I have mentioned Santa below. He is my all time favourite. My Mum got him out a Cornflake packet during the war (before I was born, I hasten to add), painted him red, somewhat faded now, and he has been on the tree ever since.

The next eight photographs are of ornaments I made for a workshop I used to run. Every summer I used to hold a 'Christmas in July' workshop. In the morning the ladies would make a lot of small items in a variety of crafts. They would then be given a Christmas lunch, with turkey and all the trimmings, sherry trifle and cream, tea and mince pies, and in the afternoon they were given the choice between two patchwork wallhangings. It was great fun, and so I have a lot of Christmas ornaments I made for the class.

Very simple wreath wrapped with ribbon

Cross stitch, wrapped over thick card, with either cord on its own, or cord and lace. (above and below)
Mini patchwork squares (about 3" - above and below) and material scraps pushed into a polystyrene ball. I also used 3D paint to edge the sledge - yuck!!
Lace gathered into a wreath and then stiffened.

Paper mache heads made into Santas.
A bad example of Suffolk puffs.
I am really proud of these. I made these with the ladies, but years later, I got my pupils with special needs to make these for Valentines Day. Every one of them managed it, even the boy with cerebral palsy, and he gave it to his Mum!

A crochet stocking. You start off with a Granny square, but on the last row you do some extra stitches, fold it over, sew together and you have a mini stocking!

I also have had some lovely ornaments from friends. This was a gentleman, who knew I loved beading, as much as he did, so he gave me these for my tree.
These ornaments were made by my Mum, who died over 22 years ago. She got a lot of mini milk cartons (the one you get in a cafe for your coffee). She emptied them, washed them carefully, and then got my son and daughter to help her decorate them. I love them!

I got my son to wrap up a lot of matchboxes when he was wee. This is the only survivor!
Thankful Thoughts
The weather in Britain has been dreadful. Snow, snow and more snow! We have had some hail and a little furry here and there, but mainly it has just been cold. I went out into the middle of the bay this morning with our dog. You can see the water is slowly coming back into the bay, and in the other photo, you can see the sun shining on our house. Aren't we lucky? Thank You.

Friday, 1 January 2010

A Happy New Year!!

I want to wish all my bloggie friends ' A Guid New Year and lang may yer lum reek!" (translation = a good New Year and hope you have warmth for a long time) We had a very quiet time and were in our beds at 1.30 am. We stayed up to see the New year in and watched the celebrations on TV. On the stroke of midnight the big cannon (Mons Meg) at Edinburgh castle is fired and then the celebrations take off. There was a huge firework display, not only there but at most cities, and everybody wishes everybody else a "Happy New Year'. Inverness had to cancel the street celebration party, on the advice of the police, as it was snowing so badly. In Scotland, if you are celebrating at home, you can stay in like us, or go 'first footing'. Traditionally, a first footer took a bottle (whisky), something to eat (shortbread or cake) and a piece of coal. When they arrived at a friend's house, they would hand over the food and the coal, and everybody would have a drink from their bottle. In return, they would be given something to eat and drink. This meant that the house would never want for food, drink or warmth throughout the coming year. It was thought that, if the first footer had dark hair, the house would have extra luck. Fair-haired people were not so lucky, so the brunettes were always pushed in first.
Nowadays, most people do not have coal fires, and the old traditions are dying out. It is a shame.
Thankful Thoughts
Our house is lovely and warm, despite it being really cold outside. I have had a lovely turkey dinner, a nice glass of wine, and I will be having a big plate of trifle, a little later on, when I can manage it! I leave you with a picture of the turkey, almost ready to go into the oven. We cooked it last night, and I ate the bacon, just before New Year!

Till next time.