Wednesday, 28 December 2016

I'm having a whale of time! / I'm not!

Hi everyone - it's Daisy here.  Wow I am having a whale of a time down here in Devon.  Millie told me gloomy stories of being kept to the lounge but she was sooooooo wrong!  Every time a door opens I dash through and must have explored almost every room in the house.  Yesterday, for example, I spent nearly two hours in granddads study whilst mum worked on his computer.  It's fab!  Today I watched Grandma in her posh kitchen getting ready for our visitors later today.  She has made a chicken and ham pie, a beef pie, meringues for pudding and is cooking some turkey.  Mind you I was able to show her how to make soup in the soup maker that Granddad bought her yesterday!  This afternoon I was so tired that I went to sleep in the sofa edge, next to Millie, and then fell off.  It was all a bit embarrassing really but I think that I styled it out!

Talking about our visitors, mum tells me that I have met them before but when I was a baby - it's Auntie Jo and Uncle Ian with cousins Matthew and Jenny.  Looking at these photos I was really young then! I wonder if they will recognise me!

Hi everyone - it's Millie here.  Now I am not being jealous but, really, Daisy is getting thing away with blue murder!  In fact I would go as far as saying that she is behaving like a spoiled brat!  I ask you - I behave well, I sleep by the warm fire, I sit when I am told to and I don't even bark when someone walks past ( unlike the other two dogs) YET SHE gets away with things that I never did!  Even as I type this she is sitting proudly on her throne!  Mum tells me that Uncle Phil and Auntie Chris are coming tomorrow with their dogs, Bonnie and Penny.  Penny is another cockerpoo - help me please!

On a more positive note- and just to prove that I am not being a grumpy old doggie, I helped Grandad sort out his chews this morning.  I have never seen so many!  Mind you I persuaded him to share some out he he he!

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Oh Boy - what a day!

Today was planned to be another day out ( no surprise there then) - albeit one focussed on grocery shopping and those sale bargains.  I was prepared to be "down and dirty" - fighting everyone off with my elbows out!  Sadly, for me, there seemed to be few people venturing out on this frosty morning.  Sainsbury's was empty, although I was told that it was manic yesterday, but I have to say that the sale bargains were hard to find!  However I did manage to get a side of salmon, reduced, that has now been chopped up into steaks and frozen!

Next stop was a visit to Dunelm - oops the cafe again for a cuppa and cake - look how big mum's cake was ( I have put my glasses case next to it for a comparison).  Again there were few bargains to be had although our cakes were all half price so that was something.

Then it was onto PC world to get Dad a new printer - a wifi one which I spent most of the afternoon setting up!  Oh for an easy plug in and play version!  Daisy came upstairs with me to "help" and to ensure that Mum and Dad could have 40 winks.

Just as evening was starting to draw in, a cuppa had been made and the fire lit, Dad decided to put his new cd on - Buddy Holly ( hence the title of the blog).  I have nothing against him but ................

Tonight I am looking forward to the second part of the BBC Agatha Christie dramatisation.  I have read ahead and have an idea of what's going to happen - but won't spoil it for you!

Monday, 26 December 2016

Preparing for Christmas Day 2- the sequel!

After waking up to the sad news that George Michael has passed away, today was focussed not getting ready for our visitors on Wednesday and a second Christmas Day on Thursday.  The first task was the annual sorted trough of presents.  Let me explain.  Mum is highly organised and, by early December has bought and wrapped the presents for everyone.  It's just that, by now, she has forgotten what they were and, in some cases, where she has put them.  Today, therefore was the final sort out and, if necessary, final wrapping.  Daisy snuck into the room with us but I am pleased to report that everything is now organised.

Of course an afternoon snooze was then in order ( Dad denys snoring but is raising the roof as I write this) before round two started.  This time it was a solo event as Mum finished icing the Christmas cake so I "helped" her by watching Frozen recorded yesterday.  I have never seen the film before so wanted to see what the fuss was all about.  I might just have sewn a stitch or two - well, it would be rude not to wouldn't it?
The final arrangement of the day was to sort out the cracker for the Christmas meal on Thursday.  We have all picked someone to make / buy / organise a cracker for and I had made mine.  There was just a few adjustments needed to finish Mum and Dad's - Millie and I supervised, although I suspect that she had a warmer and more comfortable view!

So that's my Boxing Day - like many up and down the country, I suspect, it was a lazy one after the activity of yesterday but one to recharge the batteries. 

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas - has Santa arrived yet?

Our Christmases usually follow a similar pattern.  Get up at a reasonable time, Mum and Dad off to church whilst I tidy around and then a "lunch" of warm sausage rolls and mince pies whilst we open the presents.  Even though there is only the three of us we still open presents in turn so that we can see what each of us have been given.

This year I was spoiled - a set of tables for my she cave, a lampshade for my craft room, a set of knives and a set of binding clips - all from Mum and Dad.

Terry gave me this difficult looking jigsaw - along with a lovely charm square set.

Jean gave me this lovely wooden box, complete with some sewing bits, a set of chews for the dogs ( they were very grateful!), a lovely cushion which I can't show you yet and some vanilla syrup.

Whilst Wendy gave me this lovely colouring book and pencils ( I am sure that there are some embroidery patterns here!), some caramels to enjoy whilst colouring and thus lovely moda flannel bag.

I even got this lovely waste bag / pin cushion from Trisha who goes to our Tuesday night sewing class. I did say that I was spoiled didn't I?

In terms of my Christmas crafting projects I gave the first one away today - a wall hanging for mum which formed part of my Anni Downs quilt.  She'd admired it back at Easter ( but had forgotten!).

This afternoon was spent lazily watching some re- runs until we had a visitor, Carol, bearing more gifts - for both the dogs and ourselves. Mine was a deciding book which already has me bamboozled!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

It all started so well!

Over the past few years it has become a tradition to complete all the chores and then, when every thing is ready for Christmas Day, go out and have a mooch around the early sales and have a cuppa ( surprise, surprise).  Today was no different - except that we are so ready that we left home early - around 9am!  On the way we had a lovely surprise - my niece, Bethan, gave birth yesterday to a bouncing baby boy- Benjamin Isaac Burt.  It was an emergency section - since they both had sepsis- but both are on a drip and doing well, thank goodness.

The traffic was very light and shops empty, which surprised us but made the morning all the more enjoyable.  I even managed to get a bargain in Poundland's 50p sale!!

Mum and Dad bought me these two Christmas baubles in the sale as well!

So, all in all, it was a lovely, chilled out morning - which all went downhill fast when we got home and opened the post.  Dad switched energy supplier around a year ago and it has been a year of hassle and arguments.  At of the end of October, he was in credit to the company for a large amount yet now has a bill for a small amount that has arrived with a threatening letter.  Of course there's no one on the end of a telephone to sort this matter out - and boy did I try- and, all the time, I am aware that Dad had a triple by pass last year and just doesn't need this stress.  On a more minor level, I ordered something from Amazon that should have arrived today - but the delivery firm say that they are unable to deliver until Tuesday 27th.  Now it's not a present so not essential but it all adds to the stress!

I just need to lie down in a darkened room now!

Tonight I plan on continuing, and perhaps finishing, the embroidery of a Splendid Sampler block - it all helps to reduce the blood pressure I guess!

Finally, may I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  At least I can start to to reveal some of those Christmas makes from tomorrow - although some wont be given until next Thursday!

Friday, 23 December 2016

So - when does Christmas start

There is an obvious answer to that question from a religious point of view but my sister in law to be promoted the question when she asked if it was too early to open the time of sweets.  As a child I recall a long coffee table groaning with Christmas bits - including those orange and lemon slices and eat me dates - which we were not allowed to start until Christmas Day.  We didn't have dog in those days so would watch the goodies growing - desperate to break open the shortbread or pass around the figs. How times have changed.  As we sat down to a mid morning coffee as a break to the housework mum served up a slice of fruit cake!

So, as I said yesterday, today has been a day at home - some hoovering and dusting, icing the Christmas cake, making sure that all presents are wrapped, making a last minute present on mum's behalf etc etc.  Sometimes you just need a day at home to regroup!  I managed to get a few minutes to myself and starting to appliqué the next two Lynette Anderson blocks - fortunately they are going a lot better than the last one! By the way - don't worry about the crooked grass - everything will be trimmed to size later!

I also managed to do some cooking.  Well, I say cooking - it was actually one of these cakes in a mug although this wasn't just any old cake in a mug, it was a M & S cake in a mug - and very nice too!

Meanwhile I am pleased to report that Maisie is on the mend.  I think that she may have pulled a muscle as well but it's not stopped her eating and going for a walk!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

It's an anxious day .....

Today turned out to be a sunny and cold day - just what I wished for yesterday.  We were up at a reasonable. time and Dad took his dog for a nice long walk - coming back across the local field ( on the footpath of course). After breakfast we started to get ready to go out to Tavistock when we noticed some drops of blood on the carpet.  Maisie, Dad's dog, wouldn't let anyone get close to her but seemed to be okay - she certainly ate her breakfast quickly!

So we left her home and went out for the day, slightly concerned of course but confident that she had probably just caught herself on something and would be okay after some rest.  Of course, Tavistock has a lovely fabric shop which I just couldn't resist - I mean, just look at this lovely pile of fat quarters!! I also managed to get some lovely poppy fabric to make a last minute present - mum's request again!

Whilst in Tavistock, of course, there was the obligatory coffee and cake - it's the law isn't it?

( yep they will hate me for that photo!)

When we got home, it became apparent that Maisie was walking a little funnily and, on closer inspection, she had scraped the skin off the pad of one of her paws.  There's not a lot that we can do but we will keep a watching eye on her.  As I write this she is feeling a little sorry for herself!

Tomorrow the call has gone out - no going out - it's time to get the housework done and get ready for Christmas - darn it!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

So - what were you doing at 10:44 this morning?

Truthfully I was driving down the A377 and trying to avoid an empty bucket in the road but more of that later.  It would appear that the winter solstice started at 10:44 this morning and that we can now expect the days to start drawing out - albeit slowly!  I don't know about you but the seasons seem to merge into one but I could do with some sunny cold days rather than the dank murky ones!

Today we decided to pop in Exeter rather than Tavistock (going there tomorrow - lovely fabric shop)! I expected it to be manic with everywhere filled with screaming children ( of which there were a few!) but it was reasonably empty.  After coffee, a browse around the shops, lunch in. M & S ( magic and sparkles as I heard it called this morning) and a little shopping it was time to come home.  Not a widely exciting day but very enjoyable none the less!

Craftwise, of course, there wasn't much time to downy thing before we left but I have nearly finished the Lynette Anderson block ( the grass and clouds will be added once I get home and I just have some cross stitches to add). It's nice to be able to get this one out of the way! So tonight's project will be embroidering a quote onto my artisan apron - "turn to the sun and the shadows fall behind you".

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

You're never too old to learn

When I went to bed last night I joked that I would see everyone tomorrow afternoon.  Well it wasn't quite that bad but it was approaching 10 am!  It's the luxury of a comfortable bed / knowing that mum would look after the dogs / having dogs that will wait patiently until we get up.  It's a hard life down here!

After breakfast, and some housework, I then settled down to finishing the title panel from A Quilter Lives Here.  There's just one more panel to go before adding borders, wadding and backing- not much more then!

Whilst I was ironing the panel I noticed a mark being left by the iron - so went to my handbag.  Mum was astonished to see me using a paracetamol to rub gently over the iron ( be careful - the iron is on so it is hot - watch your fingers). See - you are never too old to learn!

My next task was to return to my bete noir - the Lynette Anderson block.  I haven't brought everything down that I need so won't be able to finish it but hoped that a concentrated period of time would bring better results.  Unfortunately starting this block coincided with a decision to go out for the afternoon so time became limited but at least I made a start.

Monday, 19 December 2016

A day at home

Now, before I write today's blog there's something that you need to understand - my family, or some of them, are just plain weird ( and yes, I include myself in that group!). Instead of just worrying about what present to buy, we overload the stress factor by throwing in some conditions.  This year we are giving presents with red in them ( that could be the colour red or something wrapped in red or something with the letters red in order ).  In addition we have all picked a name out of hat to make a personalised cracker for them.

So- against that background - onto today.  I woke up at a reasonable time, turned the radio on and found Michael Ball being a guest on Chris Evan's show - cue a lie in!  Once up, washed, dressed and breakfasted I was then given a challenge - complete this 42 piece jigsaw in 15 mins.   No problem I thought - 30 mins later I finished it!!

Next step was to wrap some red presents - there was a lot!! - before enjoying some of Dad's delicious soup ( after last night's apprentice we are thinking of rebranding it as "Deliciously decadent by David"!) and then walking the dogs in this murky weather!

This afternoon was spent doing something for mum - why is she so good at saying " could you just make ........?" The item needed wadding so I started by sewing together some remnants with a zigzag stitch - waste not want not!

Tonight is more hand sewing - what else?  Now that Dad has sorted an angle poise lamp for me I can actually see what I am doing! More than that I might actually finish the "A quilter lives here" panel - it's only taken me a couple of years!!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

D- day ( or should I say C-day) is here

Today was the carol service.  Anybody who has ever taken responsibility for an event or a service will know how much work is involved and how much of a relief it is when it is all over.  I am pleased to say that everything went well, although there was one visitor who decided to heckle from the pews - not exactly the right way to behave in church and could have been off putting for Dad.  Fortunately, though, he came through it well and was, I understand , congratulated by a number of people.

Whilst this was going on I was, ŵait for it, wait for it , sewing.  Another 10 Spelndid sampler blocks have been quilted and put back in their box ready to be taken home, cut to size, and sashing added.  Sadly I only bought down enough blocks and wadding to do around 35 so I have nearly completed that task but it's an important one at least.

Next up was part of my 2017 creativity drive.  Back in the summer I drafted out a sampler to represent my summer holiday so today, at last, I firmed up the design ready to trace when I go home and then sew.  Several of the areas will be fabric appliqué since I already have the designs on fabric and I want to use my intense pencils to colour in the quilt.  They double up as a fabric dye so should fare well.

After an afternoon snooze ( not me - Mum and Dad coming down from the relief of the event finishing), it was then back down to church to tidy everything away whilst Dad set to making his soup. The tidying away didn't need to be done today but sometimes it's better to get these things done. Meanwhile Dad's soup will tast wonderful - but it is a tiny bit of a production!!

Tonight it's the Apprentice final. I always think that Strictly and the Apprentice signal Autumn's arrival and so am sad to see them both go - knowing that we are now becoming entrenched in winter (  even if the weather doesn't realise that!).  I was pleased that Ore and Joanne won the Strictly final - my god daughter, Emma, is friends with Ore whilst, as I said yesterday, my brother taught Joanne.  I guess that's what you call keeping it in the family!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

A mercy dash

Normally my parents take a while to stir - often not going out until 11 at the earliest.  So when I got up and came down before 9am, I was confident that I had another couple of hours for coffee and breakfast.  Nope - I was told that we were going out strait away.  Woah - back the truck up!  What?  Having had this piece of news confirmed by their friend and cleaner, Val, l managed to down a coffee before heading for the car.

What the followed was a tour of the finest tourist spots that Devon has to offer - church to drop some more stuff off, a new Lidl, Atlantic Village ( a small retail outlet village which serves the NICEST Bacon, Cheese and Leek Pasty) and ASDA - all rounded off by a stop off at Morrisons.  You can imagine how pleased we were to get home!  

Only to find that we have lost the back door key!!!  Fortunately Val had hers so we could get in and enjoy a cuppa whilst the dogs relaxed - but it was all very confusing!  Mind you, whilst I was waiting I did find out that one of the neighbours is going to be on Jeremy Kyle - I might have to look out for that episode!

Mum and Dad wanted a snooze so I took Daisy on a mercy dash down to the church.  It was a long shot but perhaps mum had dropped the key into one of the gift bags that she had taken down to church. ( I took Daisy so that she didn't interrupt their snoozing!). Ta-da - the key was in one of the bags and the problem solved!

Tonight is the Strictly Come Dancing final.  Two of the professionals - Kevin and Joanne - come from Grimsby and one of my brothers taught them both at a local grammar school so that's where my loyalties lie.  Whatever the outcome it promises to be a good final.  As you will note I haven't done any caring today so am hoping to get some embroidery done on this quilt title ( it's a UFO from 2015!!)

Friday, 16 December 2016

Well - what's a girl to do?

Mum decided that today would be her cooking day - a day to make some goodies for the freezer ( now that we have tidied it and made space!). Dad spent the day upstairs at the computer getting ready for the carol service on Sunday so that left me with a free day.  Well, I ask you, what's a girl to do with all that spare time?  She could got out shopping but, nah, let's keep the pennies in my purse!

Instead I made use of the time and sewed ( bet you weren't expecting that one?). I am intending to "quilt as you go" my splendid sampler  blocks and have brought down enough backing and wadding to quilt 30 or so - so did another 10 this morning, some with straight lines and others using free machine quilting techniques - all whilst listening to the Archers Omnibus from last Sunday.

Next up was a couple of SS blocks that could be done simply - particularly since I brought down pre cut pieces.  I have other blocks to do but they are foundation pieced so not my favourite technique - all the time overseen by Princess Daisy on her throne!

After lunch I made a start on my Lynette Anderson block of the month.  Although I have sailed through blocks 1-5, for some reason block 6 is causing a complete mental block - perhaps because I have not focussed as much as I should.  

The other thing that I have tried today is to design a red work pattern for a Christmas card next year.  Maybe I should go back to the drawing board!

On a different note it's Christmas jumper day today and it's the first time that I've seen Dad in one ( we just had to give it a trial run at Dunelm and Sainsburys) - and, breaking news, Dad "drove" the shopping trolley whilst Mum bought her own sparkly jumper - whatever next?

What did mum make?  Just several lots of salmon mousse and a raspberry & cream Victoria sandwhich - mmmm

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Princess Daisy is on her throne!

As you might expect, Mum had a mountain of jobs for me to do today ( do I feel another Cinders moment coming on?) but we focuses on just two.  The first was to stick Christmas cards on ribbons to display them.  Not Mums card of course - these were spare cards that would be used as part of the church's carol service, torn down and used to illustrate how commercial Christmas has become.  Dad is taking the service and spent time upstairs writing out something for the children to read out.  I was able to help with the story of the wise men ( and took the opportunity to print out today's Splendid Sampler block - a really seasonal embroidery - my favourite type of block!)

I took the opportunity to finish quilting the first ten blocks and then made a start on some other SS blocks before starting to sort out Mums two freezers.  I swear that they are responsible for a Gammon shortage this Christmas - they must forget that they have one in and then buy another one!  Mind you Dad does make some really nice soup so, hopefully, he will do so next week.

Once our hands were defrosted, and a late lunch of crab pate on toast, it was time to pop out with the dogs.  It's a really mucky day here and Daisy has left he mark in the carpet ( ahem). I thought that she was curled up in her bed - but then spotted her on this fancy chair - looking like the Diva she is becoming!

Tonight is more hand sewing - in between tea making - I am responsible for feeding the folks so anything could happen!!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

If it's Wednesday in Devon then it must be .......

A day trip to Exeter!

I am being a bit rude here - we all have our own routines and my parents like to go out to Exeter on Wednesdays.  Truthfully today's trip was more vital than most - there are no M&S goodies in the freezer for Christmas!  How will we survive?

Today started, naturally, with an M&S lunch ( cheese and mushroom toastie as per usual) although Dad did manage to flood the restaurant out with his coffee - when I say it went everywhere I mean EVERYWHERE!

Next up was a visit to TK MAX ( I didn't go in - I hate that shop but mum is after a Christmas jumper), followed by a trip to The Range( just dog chews bought here - was tempted by a costume for Daisy but resisted) and then to a friend of Mum and Dad's to drop off some presents.  It turns out that she will be on her own on Christmas Day so will spend it with us which will be nice.

Then it was back home - well, via a garden centre to try another cuppa and slice of cake ( well - it's helping the local economy!) - where the dogs were pleased to see us back at least!

Last night I sat and made nearly 30 quilt sandwiches with some of my splendid sampler blocks - ready to free machine quilt so that's my job for tonight- well make a start anyway.  Once the sewing machines be begins to disrupt the to viewing I will swap to some hand sewing.  Trust me the car was full of sewing projects to do - and the list is growing as mum comes up with more ideas!

Monday, 12 December 2016

Fitting a quart into a pint pot!

Tomorrow I travel to relatives for Christmas and the house sitter takes over.  Therefore today has been one of washing / drying / ironing and packing.  I have no problem with the clothes - just one suitcase - and most of my presents were taken down a couple of weeks ago by my parents.  So why, I ask you, do I have that sinking feeling when I looking at the growing pile to be packed into my little car tomorrow?  All my parents left me with was presents for my brother - guess which one eh Phil?

Of course my load is made all that greater when I include the essential, but mystery purchase - how could I possibly leave Lincolnshire without the sticks of sprouts?

So, apart from the above preparations and the textile group - where another log cabin Santa was completed - mother's request! - I am afraid that's all I have to report today.  Tonight will, I hope, see the ironing and packing finished plus the completion of a binding clip hedgehog - don't ask!!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Hurtling towards a creative 2017

Although I do a lot of sewing, I don't ever feel truly creative.  I can now follow a pattern and have learnt some tricks of the trade but I am reluctant to start from scratch and create something unique to me.  So - this is it - next year is the year that this aim is going to be achieved!!  And today is where this journey starts!  It has been a day of sewing at Scamblesby and we agreed, some months ago, to create a wall hanging / quilt between us - each person has been asked to design an 8 inch finished square which, by the end of the year (plus a few bonus blocks), will form a totally unique wall hanging.  Today the first block was distributed by the creator - Lyn - who based her block on the folded log cabin technique.  That should keep me quiet over Christmas then!

Mind you - they then wanted another group project and have settled on the Embroidered Village Bag - ooh eck - it only took one of our members a year to make that one!

I also distributed my Christmas challenge which, surprisingly seemed to go down well.  This year they were given this picture as a starting point and were challenged to create an A4 hanging by the first meeting in April.  As I said, its a year of creativity - who knows where it will end!!