Monday 28 February 2022

February goal finished.


February has been a very up and down month with both Picasso and Scamp being unwell, the weather being awful at times and having a little too much work to do but I am very pleased that I have completed my goal for the month. I set out to finish the tortoise block and the Noah's Ark block and I have managed this. They do both need a press but at least they are done.

I moved the flowers slightly on this block but the marks will come out when I wash it.  I love the completed boat block.

It's a great feeling when you achieve your goal for the month. I also set myself a goal of reading two books a month. I smashed that in January by reading 4. 

My favourite of these four was The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with other books for the other lives you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. 
Nora Seed finds herself faced with a decision, to pick another life, stick with the one she has or die. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she has to search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place. 

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley tells the story of a group of old college friends who stay at the hunting lodge to celebrate New Year. One of their number is murdered. They are all friends and one of them is a killer. The plot is good and kept me guessing for most of the book.

Letters on Motherhood by Giovanna Fletcher was interesting. She has written letters to her three sons and to friends and family who have inspired her to be the best mother she can. It's always good to know you weren't the only one who finds or found dealing with several young children exhausting. I enjoyed the book but it's not one excited me particularly.

The fourth book, Miss Austen by Gill Hornby is set in England, in 1840. For the two decades following the death of her beloved sister, Jane, Cassandra Austen has lived alone, spending her days visiting friends and relations and quietly, purposefully working to preserve her sister’s reputation. Now in her sixties and increasingly frail, Cassandra goes to stay with the Fowles of Kintbury, family of her long-dead fiancĂ©, in search of a trove of Jane’s letters. Dodging her hostess and a meddlesome housemaid, Cassandra eventually hunts down the letters and confronts the secrets they hold, secrets not only about Jane but about Cassandra herself. This book was an interesting read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

I'm linking this post with Patty from Elm Street Quilts for the final link up of the February, one monthly goal Now all I need to decide is what I'll work on next month.

Take care



Sunday 27 February 2022

My little quilting cat and some hand stitching.


Sadly our sweet little cat Picasso or Casso as we usually called him, died in Richard's arms in the early hours of Friday morning. We adopted him from Battersea Dogs and Cats home in 2005 when he was 2 years old. He had lived in a high rise flat and had been an indoor cat but one day he fell quite a height and injured his back legs and as a result ended up at Battersea. He was put up for adoption and the family fell in love with him when we visited with the intention of adopting a cat. It didn't take him long to become a very important part of the family but also the local neighbourhood. He loved being able to go out and enjoyed climbing onto the rooves of the local houses to catch the sun or following us when we went out. He would sit on the front garden wall enjoying the sun and getting a lot of petting from passersby. Casso and his best friend Scamp our Yorkshire terrier loved to sit on the back of the settee and enjoy a nap, especially when it was sunny

He was a very helpful cat at keeping my fabrics in the right place but it came at the price of him finishing my tea.

He also loved to wait until I had the fabric all sorted when I was making the quit sandwich and then leap onto it and squirm around.

It was a joy to have Casso in the family and he will be sadly missed. Rest in piece little one.

Since Casso died, Scamp has been lost. He misses Casso and is looking for him. Sadly I don't think we will have him with us for much longer as the lump on his face has grown bigger and it is affecting his breathing at times. The last couple of evening Scamp has stayed on my lap as much as possible, which is great because it gave me the excuse to get on with my stitching. 

I'd set myself the challenge of finishing two pieces for the Noah's ark quilt as my monthly goal I posted the picture of the1st piece a couple of days ago but here it is again.

I've got quite a bit finished on the ark.

I should get this done this evening, which means I will have completed my February goal. I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching link up. Pop over and see what everyone has been working on.

This afternoon the sun came out and the sky was a beautiful blue so John and I went for a walk around the cemetery. The big trees that came down in the storm last week are still blocking the paths but we were able to complete our two circuits. I'd love some fabric of the same colour as these flowers.

and this tree was covered in blossom. The sky made a fabulous backdrop.

Tomorrow is the end of February. I have found it a challenging month this year with a lot of rain and high winds. Hopefully March will be kinder to us all.

Take care


Wednesday 23 February 2022

Working on my February goal

The weather has now improved, with the wind having dropped and the sun has come out. The combination means that you can actually feel some heat from the sun and it helps to improve my mood. Between bad weather, sick fur babies and too much work, it was starting to feel like nothing was going right but just a change in the weather improves positivity. As I was sitting doing some stitching whilst watching Vera on TV last night I was pondering what I wanted to achieve over the next few weeks. I must admit I love starting new projects and I'm slow at finishing some projects but is this a problem? I decided that it wasn't an issue so long as I have the storage space, which I do. I love being able to pick up things and work on them for a period of time and then put them away for later. This way I don't get bored and everything will get done at some point. Having completed the two cushion covers I need another new project and so I decided to make these two panels. This came as a pattern with my monthly fabric subscription box. The panels finish at approximately 18 inches square.

All the fabric is with it, as well as the bondaweb I need to attach the applique pieces. These batiks are so pretty.

This month I spent a fair amount of time stitching the little inches from Crabapple Hill studios. These are quick and fun to do. I also tinted the background fabric for the first time and I've been wondering why I haven't done this before since it's so easy and I love the effect. I've currently got a part done piece in my littlest embroidery hoop. I'm using up all my scraps of fabrics for the background so I can only use the little hoop.

Last night I also completed the tortoises and birds block from the Noah's Ark quilt I'm making. I'd just taken it out of the hoop so it needs a good press, plus I took the photo with it resting on my knees.

This block, plus stitching the ark block is my goal for this month. The ark block has now been hooped ready for me to start later today. I don't think this will take that long as there aren't any little fiddly areas to do. Update, I managed to get the roof stitched before we left to run guides this evening.

I do need to get back to quilting the Austen family quilt but this is a large quilt and it takes a lot of effort to move it around for quilting. It makes my shoulder ache even after a relatively short time of quilting. I'm going to leave it until the weather is a little warmer and my joints don't feel so achy.

I'm linking this post with Pat from Life in the Scrapatch for her weekly Stitch, sew and show link up. Do pop over and see what everyone is working on this week.

Take care


Sunday 20 February 2022

High winds and stitching.

This week the weather set about causing havoc. On Wednesday Storm Dudley hit Scotland and much of northern and middle England followed very quickly on Friday by Storm Eunice. The meteorological office issued a red weather warning on Friday due to the high winds they were expecting. Friday morning was bright and clear...until 10 a.m. when the light changed and the wind started to increase. John and I went out briefly at 1 p.m. and we saw that several trees had come down in the cemetery. We quickly completed our business and got back home safely. Later in the day the wind started to drop but the wind brought more trees down over night. On our way to the wetland centre on Saturday morning it was sad to see the number of mature trees that had been lost. In London it was mainly trees that were bought down but some houses were also damaged. Outside London more people suffered damage to their homes and thousands of people are still without power. The power of the wind was frightening and the hail storm we experienced as the storm ended was bizarre. Today the wind is still stronger than usual and we are already being warned about the next storm which has been named storm Franklin. There is currently a yellow warning for Monday. A yellow warning is a mild warning to make you aware there may be a problem. 

If the weather outside is wet and windy what can you do except stay home and sew. I had bought two cushion pads for the covers I was making and so I set about getting them finished. I needed to complete the quilting and put the covers together. I used diagonal stitching on the squares and straight stitch to stitch down the applique. Once that was done it was a quick job to embroider a French knot for the eye and put the pad inside the cover.

I am really pleased with the cushions and wish I'd made them for home as they are so cute. Hopefully I'll be able to drop these off to Katy in the next few days. We need some new cushions for our settee so I'll look for another cute design. 

I have spent time recently stitching the little bird houses designed by Meg Hawkey from Crabapple Hill studios to celebrate International embroidery month. I am really enjoying making these. I'm running a little behind as I have only completed 9 so far. I've already shown you some but here are the one's I've completed recently.

I'm hoping to get  another one finished this evening. I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday stitching. I need to get on with stitching Noah's Ark as this is my monthly goal but these little bird houses are such fun to do. 

Tomorrow is a work day but I'm taking my stitching with me. I'm going to find a quiet spot to sit and stitch in my lunch break. 

Take care 


Friday 18 February 2022

Sewing and Casso has an adventure

 Yesterday I had time after work to set up my machine and get on with the cushions. All the pieces had been cut out so this was a case of stitching together and pressing seams. By the end of the evening I had the main pieces sewn together and the applique attached by bondaweb for both cushions.

The fabric for the cushion backs has been sewn together and hemmed, I also added the button holes.  Later today I plan to sandwich the front and sew round the applique and complete the quilting. Tomorrow I should have time to finish the cushions off and then I need to buy two cushion pads so that the completed cushions will be ready to be gifted next week.

Later in the evening I worked on the little neighbourhood stitcheries. I completed two more and began work on a third one.

I need to redo the flower in the above piece as Casso came to help and got his claw caught on the thread and pulled it. I didn't have the energy to put it right as I'd already taken two attempts to get it looking good. Unfortunately Casso has a couple of claws that don't retract and they do get caught up on things. This little blue house will be finished today.

I am very behind on these stitcheries. We are on day 18 but I have only finished 4 but I have been doing a little hand embroidery every day on various projects. These little houses are really fun to stitch.

London now has a red warning for high winds from storm Eunice from 10 am today. At the moment it is fairly quiet but there are already strong gusts every so often. John and I should be going out to dinner this evening but we'll see how it goes later in the day as I don't want to be out in high winds and the restaurant could well be closed. Just recently a lot of our plans have ended up cancelled. We should have been at the theatre on Monday evening but that was cancelled as members of the cast had tested positive for covid. I'm now rearranging tickets for future productions that could also end up cancelled. If we don't go out later my evening will become a sewing evening, which is OK with me.

An update on our furry family members, both Casso and Scamp are still happy and reasonably healthy. Both are eating and enjoying life but both are much happier if sat on someone's lap. Casso had an adventure yesterday. John had let him out as it was sunny and Casso likes to have a prowl run to check everything is in order. Not long later John got a phone call from a vet a good distance from us to say they had Casso. John went and collected him and the vet said he may have got into someone's car as he'd known this happen before. All we know is that Casso couldn't have walked the distance in the time. It is making us very nervous about letting him go outside but he has always been a cat that loves to go out and enjoy the sun. We got Casso back because he's microchipped and the vet scanned and called us. If your pets are microchipped do remember to update your details if you move or change your phone number.

Today I'm working from home so I need to get myself organised for the day. I'm pleased I'm not having to drive anywhere today.

Take care


Monday 14 February 2022

A visit to the orchid festival at Kew

On Friday evening John and I headed to Kew Gardens with Katy and Olly to visit the orchid festival after hours. The event was celebrating the richness of Costa Rica with the gardens annual orchid festival. The event this year showcases the collaboration between local experts in Costa Rica, including Kew's partners at Jardin Botanico Lankester and the scientists at Kew. Between them they are on a mission to understand the rich plant life found in Costa Rica.  Costa Rica was recently awarded the inaugural Protect and Restore Nature Earthshot Prize and is also a major habitat for orchids. The venue was the Princess of Wales Conservatory, which is very difficult to get a good photo of so to see what it looks like and find out some interesting facts about it click Here.

The exhibition was a feast of colour  which was enhanced by a Costa Rican band and dancers. There was food from Costa Rica to sample and the bar served traditional cocktails. We had eaten before we went so didn't try any food but it looked tasty. As Katy is pregnant and so not drinking alcohol we all decided to keep her company and not drink. I took a lot of photos whilst we walked round. There were other flowering plants in the conservatory as well as orchids.

The lighting was set so you could see the flowers well against a dark foliage background, which made their colours more stunning. 

I loved the flower below. It looks so neat and delicate.

I also liked the long points from the petals on this flower.

There were animals on display as well. Not real ones but they provided interest amongst the flowers, sea turtles,

a sloth,


and white bats. Someone had fun creating the creatures. Children were not allowed at the after hours event but I'd have loved to see their faces when they see the animals. Even the adults were smiling and taking photos of them.

This one looked like it was performing a balancing act.

I loved this soft and fluffy creation. Well it may be fluffy but just as easily it could be prickly

Some of the flowers were really small.

I was very attracted to the colour of this one. I can envisage a quilt with this colour in it.

There were also these 4 masks on display. I thought they were fabulous but one or two people found them a little scary,

We also spotted some large birds, not real but beautifully made.

We may try to make time to visit during the day before the exhibition ends since there was so much to see. The conservatory has lots of different levels and I think we missed some areas by mistake.

I hope you enjoyed the photos. I'm hoping to finish the cushions either tomorrow or Wednesday evening. Whilst in Reading tomorrow I'll buy two cushion pads for when I'm ready to gift them. For now I'm off to bed as I am so tired and tomorrow is a busy day.

Take care