Tuesday 29 January 2013

January starts plus 110 jars ........!

The past two days have been non-stop wind and rain - but at least I have got going on my patchwork again.  A new fresh start was what I needed, so I pulled out this box full of glorious fabric which I purchased at the FOQ last August - and was inspired:
I spent yesterday morning slicing my rotary cutter through this beautiful fabric, and then started piecing:
It is going to be gorgeous, and these bright colours are uplifting in this grey miserable weather.

I am also getting on well with my first choice of sampler for the challenge of Nicola's Scarlet Letter Year:
The Log Cabin Sampler is one that I have wanted to sew for many years - and this is the year,
 I collected two samplers from the framers:  a wedding sampler for my God-daughter who got married just before Christmas in Denmark:
and a fun Christmas sampler which has gone away for next December: I am very pleased with the end results.
I do sometimes have an issue with the cost of framing:  we have a great framing shop with a wonderful choice of mouldings in nearby Tavistock, but they are not cheap.  However they always do a first class job.
I have had work framed cheaper elsewhere, but have never been so pleased with the end result, and they always complain that the linen I sew on is difficult to get straight - not good.  The last piece they framed for me had to go back as they had framed the picture far too tight, with almost half an inch of border hidden under the frame - totally unacceptable.  They were not very graceful about their error, and I will not use them again.
So the Tavistock Picture Framing Company gets my vote:  they never complain, in fact just the opposite, and they always do a terrific job - so I guess you get what you pay for!
I would be interested to hear of other people's experiences.

Life felt very flat after Rod's birthday weekend - and thank you for all the comments regarding cheesecakes! So to cheer myself up after the girls returned to London I got "stuck in" - literally - with making marmalade - 110 jars - yes, 110!  Enough for us to have one every week, plus plenty for friends and family:  but everything in the kitchen ended up sticky, from cupboard handles, light switches and work surfaces to the Aga.  But oh so worth it, though I say it myself there is nothing like home made marmalade - the larder shelves are now groaning!:
Well, back to the log fire and my cross stitch - and I think I will challenge Rod to a game of Scrabble, always a favourite before we settle down for some TV viewing.  I am in a winning mood!

Sunday 20 January 2013

The 70th Birthday Cheesecake Challenge!!

Although a lot of the UK seems to have lots of snow, we in our little corner of Devon have had barely a sprinkling.  Which has been great - as this weekend it has been Rod's 70th birthday and both my girls came down on Thursday from London along with their respective guys.  We have had such a fun weekend - the centre of which has been "The Cheesecake Challenge"!  Rod has been on a search for the "perfect cheesecake" ever since he and I got together back in the mid-90's.  So it was decided - up in London - to get together 70 different cheesecakes so he could try them all!  He was dumbstruck!  They numbered each cheesecake so we knew exactly which each one was:

The variations between them has been very interesting - some were just "yuk"! - some were too salty - some were far too sweet. Some did not taste of anything.  In the end the short list came down to 9:  and winner was:  drum roll......!!:..............the Waitrose New York Cheesecake!!
Yesterday we went out towards Dartmoor and had a wonderful Birthday lunch at The Elephant's Nest:  such a great pub and the food was delicious:
So all in all Rod's arrival into a new decade was a huge success:  here we are together:
Anyway the house is now quiet (far too quiet) as they all left this morning in good time for the drive back to London, and hopefully the roads are snow free.  Dot has taken with her two large quilts which I have finished:  one is for her friend Abby who departs back to Australia next week:
and the other quilt is for my dear friends Nina and Derek - they are currently based in London but home is New Zealand where they have a waterside home at Tolaga Bay:  so this quilt will eventually end up in NZ:
So this past week has been busy but so much fun.  I have not been able to get on with much cross-stitch for Nicola's Scarlet Letter Challenge, but will be settling down this afternoon by the fire to watch the Snooker final (I am a huge fan of the skill involved) so will try and get going again.
Might even have a slice of cheesecake with my tea!!

Sunday 6 January 2013

2013 Challenges and Starts

 Well I have been busy sorting through my many Scarlet Letter sampler charts in order to get started on "Nicola's Scarlet Letter Year":  and these three samplers - The Bird Sampler, Log Cabin Sampler and the wonderful Mary Anne Healey are my choices.  I am particularly excited about Mary Anne Healey.  My first husband  Robert and I owned the antique original.  We had detailed photographs taken and sent these to Marsha at Scarlet Letter - and she made a limited edition kit of this wonderful piece of work.  We were so thrilled and very proud.  Sadly some years ago I had to sell this sampler, and some others, in order to pay a large tax bill (brought about by some bad financial advice - urgh!).  It breaks my heart to think about it - but maybe during this challenge year I can sew this sampler so that Mary Anne Healey will once again grace the walls of my home.  It may not be the antique original, but it will have been sewn with love and happy memories.
About 24 years ago after a holiday in Cape Cod, where I discovered the wonderful "Scarlet Letter" samplers, I decided to set up a little mail order company selling SL and other lovely charts and kits that I had  found in the numerous sewing shops on our American holiday, and I called it "Needlefriend". I ran it from our home in Cobham, Surrey. Back in the late 1980's and early 1990's the choice in the UK for cross-stitch was very limited.  I had such fun showing these different styles - and I frequently exhibited at various art and craft/sewing shows:  I still have a copy of my catalogue!:
I met some wonderful like-minded people.  But everything changed in 1992 when my first husband sadly died of cancer.  I lost all interest in my hobbies, my heart was not into sewing - and I let Needlefriend drift away.  I look back now and cannot believe I was so stupid and short-sighted.  Too late to dwell on it but I made a huge mistake.  Grief can make you do some very strange and out-of-character things. Enough said .....  Once I pulled myself together I was back into sewing action, but it did take a while.
I have of course sewn several Scarlet Letter samplers since:  here are just two of the many:    Rebecca Robinson which I personalised for my youngest daughter with her name and dob:  probably one of the best - and largest samplers - I have ever sewn!:
and Heloise Williams which I personalised with my name back in 1993:
These days, as my Blogging followers will know, my hobbies fill my days - I do not know how I could exist without my cross-stitch and patchwork.
And now onto something entirely different:  this is my last finish of 2012 - I did not get in done in time to give as a Christmas gift, so it can go away and be my first sewn present for Christmas 2013:  it is rather out of my comfort zone, not the usual style I choose, but it is bright and fun: I used a varigated thread for the green:

So onwards and upwards into 2013.  My fingers will not be idle - there are NEVER enough hours in the day for the hobbies that once again fill me with joy.

Friday 4 January 2013

A New Year and New Projects!

Well HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my blog followers:  I wish you all good health and happiness in 2013, and may we all continue to be CREATIVE!
One of the first things I do on New Years Day is unwrap my new calendars - and my favourite for many years has been the Susan Branch calendar - I do so love the drawings and sayings:
And I wonder what events will be noted down as each week and month passes - what will be will be!
The decorations have been packed away for another year and slowly the house returns to normal.
Toby loved his quilt - here he is with Ginny, his Mum:  it is his prized possession!
Robbie returned to London:  Reg did not want him to go!:  I won't move!!:
We received two wonderful parcels yesterday - Christmas gifts from abroad that had taken longer to get up to us from Plymouth than the time it took for them to be airmailed from Hawaii and Australia and reach the UK!!
This parcel is from my wonderful friend Sandi who lives in Maui:  it was full of Hawaiian delights:
There was a wonderful calendar full of magnificent Hawaiian sunsets, Hawaiian fabric and quilting pattern plus a book on the origins of Hawaiian quilts - plus a Susan Branch Photo Album!  I was in tears - with delight!  Plus chocs and a present for Rod from "Home Depot"!  We did laugh!
Then we started to open the box from Michelle in Australia:  the first gift that jumped out was a wonderful Noah's Ark musical globe!:  she knows me so well!
And then dear Reg decided that this was the place to spend the rest of the day: a very cosy box on the kitchen table!
And there he stayed until suppertime!  That look says "I am NOT moving"! The rest of the contents just blew us away - and I will post about them next time.
I am now planning my 2013 projects:  3 baby quilts need to be done, plus 2 wedding quilts and a 60th birthday quilt - no lazing around for me.  Plus some cross-stitch to be sorted out - especially what I shall be sewing for Nicola's Scarlet Letter Year!  - that should keep me quiet.

We are now off to see "Skyfall" - better late than never!  I will blog my last finishes of 2012 and my new starts next time - soon!
Happy Sewing in 2013 for everyone!