Thursday, 5 December 2013

Show your Joe

This was causing controversy in USA but I think it's hilarious fun.

Random observations ( USA related)

Well we are back from our holiday road trip ( Atlanta to Houston in 2 weeks).We had a very relaxing time, eating too much, drinking slightly less, though I may have had one too many Hurricane cocktails in Pat O'Briens in New Orleans ,while watching the duelling pianos.

 We also managed a little retail therapy ( it was Black Friday whilst we were there).It was unexpectedly cold, so we both had to buy a fleece and a jacket ( quelle dommage!). I won't bore you with any more  details. We visited a number of tourist destinations: Mister Hare developed a passion for Civil War History and made me go round an Oil Rig museum ( definitely the low point of the holiday).Some of the other touristy things like Graceland and the Nasa Space Centre, Houston were more interesting.

NASA Space Centre , Houston

Anyway, just a few random minor observations

1)When driving in the USA, as well as driving on the right hand side of the road( always disconcerting) drivers on dual/multi lane roads can overtake on both the outside and inside lanes. This leads to some Kamikaze moments when cars are weaving in and out of slower cars. Plus, there are the same number of middle/ and outside lane hoggers, who manage to drive in such a way that they are not quite overtaking the car in the inside lane so both lanes are blocked by slow moving cars.

2) In the UK the ground floor is counted as zero, the next floor up the first floor etc. Not so in the USA- the ground floor is floor one and what we would call the first floor is the second floor. Weird!

3) In the UK we write the date as day , month , year. For some inexplicable reason in USA they write the date as month, day , year. Why?

4) We don't celebrate Thanksgiving, so we totally underestimated the effects this would have. We did a lot of driving that day but couldn't find anywhere open to have lunch. Even the Macdonald's were closed, I suppose like Christmas here. In the evening nearly all the restaurants were closed, and those that were open were all fully booked . So Thanksgiving was a starvation day for us!

5) The Peabody Hotel in Memphis has a tradition dating back to the 1930's where real live ducks are led into the fountain in the middle of the hotel at 11.00, where they swim until 17.00 when they are escorted out again  to their residence on the roof of the hotel.

I have a video to share but can't work out how to place it in this post, so it will just have to stand alone in the next post

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Gale's Quilt

I am currently on my hols with Mr Hare doing a tour of parts of the deep south in USA. More of that in another post. Before I left my sewing machine decided to stop working (boo,hoo!) curtailing my sewing activities. So I'm just going to do a quick post about my friend Gale's quilt. Gale is a very experienced seamstress but had never made a quilt before. So, she came to my house where she chose a quilting design and raided my stash to make a quilt for her granddaughter Abby, aged 3

The size of the quilt was determined by the pink solid, which I bought as a one off piece in Lancaster County on a previous holiday. It is not a Kona or any brand I recognised so we couldn't get any more.

We carefully selected eye spy type fabrics to coordinate and Gale took it all away to make the top. It's taken her a year to finish ( she moved house in the middle) but I think she's made a stunning quilt for Abby.

She chose a Pink Kaffe Fassett for the back ( I had bought 6 metres of this some time ago) and an aqua and white stripey binding. She quilted it with straight lines at 1/4 inch spacing  using a pink aurifil thread I had .
It  has a wonderful drape and is perfect for her grand-daughter. She has made such a beautiful job of it, I'm sure she'll be making some more


Sunday, 3 November 2013

October Review

October has been a very mixed month for me. I've had a series of different viral infections ( 4 in the past 2 months) that have laid me low and sapped my energy (the consequence of working in a hospital I think and all the stress of the fire, burglary etc). I've had my flu jab, but it doesn't seem to have done much!
The last several weekends and some evenings have been spent trawling around Cardiff looking for somewhere for Madlen to live, now she is working for the Beeb in Llandaff. The stupid girl can't drive, though Mr Hare is trying very hard to persuade her to try again. It's not so important if you live in London, but public transport in the provinces/ countryside is just not the same! She has finally found somewhere that she is reasonably happy with. I've forgotten how shitty shared rental accommodation is !
I also took my mother to my Aunt Ruth's funeral ( a 500 mile round trip). This has stirred up all sort of memories, regrets etc. My Aunt Ruth was one of  my father's younger  sisters ( he was one of 9 children). My father died at the young age of 41 of a rare brain tumour. I was 16 at the time and it profoundly changed my families life. This was all a long time ago now, although my mother dwells on it all the time, partly because of her dementia but  she also never really moved on with her life after his death. Sadly, she did not recognise any of my aunts and uncles.  I had assumed her long term memory was reasonably intact, but it made me realise that she is confabulating most of the time. She told my Aunt Alice that she is living in bed and breakfast accommodation until she can move back into her own home! She is in fact living in sheltered accommodation because she is not safe to live on her own.
On a more positive note we now have a roof on the house (hoorah!) and the insurance money finally came through last Monday, only 10 and a half months after the fire.
I've had a reasonable month on the making front. I was Queen Bee for FQR Quilt Bee in October. I will do a whole post on this when I've had all the blocks back.

I've done a whole load of Bee blocks:

Dancing Stars for Natalie in the Simply Solids Quilting Bee.

Plus and cross blocks for Jo in Together @ do good stitches.
String block for Mary in Siblings Together.

Log cabins for Bee Blessed.

Most of my energy has been directed toward finishing my eye spy economy blocks quilt top. To be quite honest, making the last 20 blocks was a bit of an ordeal ( there are 80 in total). I was fairly sick of it by the end.

Trying to find enough fabrics to fussy cut was a bit of a challenge, but I managed it in the end.

I bought this pretty backing fabric from Ikea and only £3-00 per meter, so win, win!

Now, I just have to baste quilt and bind it!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Fleetwood Mac 2013 Tour

I've been ill all week with a dreadful cold and feeling lousy, so I'm only just getting around to writing a new post. On 27th September Harri and I ( and 20,000 other people) went here

to see Fleetwood Mac. Many months ago, in the depths of winter whilst the hole in the roof was really getting me down, I booked tickets for the O2 arena. I asked Mr Hare if he wanted to come and was very surprised when he said yes, as he's not a 'popular' music sort of person- he prefers Schumann. Anyhous, he said he'd come.  A few weeks before the event, I reminded him again, but yes he said he was coming. It was only the week before when he revealed that he was on-call and hadn't bothered to swap. So, cue Harri who was delighted to be invited.
Harri is never one to miss a party (I wonder where he gets that from!).
Harri drove us both to London with the car packed to the gunnels with his stuff as he was going back to Durham for his final year, the next day. I had to get the train home which I don't mind at all as I was able to stitch some of my hexagon stars.
We arrived early and watched the place fill up.
I'd never been to the O2 arena before and it is huge! It does mean that the band are a long way away, though they had big screens as well. However, the atmosphere was fantastic as were the acoustics.
This was rock soap opera at it's best. The band finally seem to have come to some sort of accommodation with each other and seemed genuinely to be enjoying themselves. They've already done a tour in the States this year and so were extremely well rehearsed  and put on a great show. The set lasted 2 and 1/2 hours which considering they are all in their 60's is some feat ( I suppose you could say it's their job!) and they still have that wonderful something that made them so famous ( and fabulously wealthy). They played only one new song and all the rest were old favourites.
Harri and I had a great time. The crowning glory was that Christine McVie appeared in the encore for Don't stop.


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

My First Cushion

Amazingly enough, I have never made a cushion until now. I wanted to make something for Helena, the daughter of one of my oldest friends, especially as I have not finished her quilt yet. So I put on my thinking hat ( shades of Harry Potter here) and decided on a cushion.

I found this pattern and followed it fairly closely. I had some of the Timeless Treasures skeleton fabric which I matched up with a low volume text print and a bright pink solid. The skeleton fabric also glows in the dark which appealed to the child in me. I made a simple flap back, as described in the pattern.
I even managed to match up the fabric!
I quilted it fairly simply  only on the skeleton and text fabrics, as I didn't have a suitable shade of thread for the pink solid.
 I haven't given it to her yet, but hope to visit soon.
 Lois ( Helena's mother ) and I met at medical school 38 years ago when she was 19 and I was 21. And now Helena has just started at the same medical school. I hope she has as good a time as we did.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Work in Progress Wednesday

It's been quite a while since my last post, so I fear this will be a long one. At last (yay!) the work has started on the house, though we still have not had the money from the insurance company (supposedly due to arrive within the next 2 weeks). The other good news is that the police have a suspect for our burglary .He is responsible for several burglaries in the area but they are waiting for the result of forensic tests to actually prosecute him. The police haven't said so but the local gossip says he has just got out of prison and embarked on a spree on his release.No sign of any of the stolen items though, as he is a 'professional'.

I've had 2 weekends when both my boys  (old and young) have been away, so I have been able to sew  all day long and I've managed to get a lot done. This was before I contracted a yucky bug that has kept me off work ( unheard of!) for 2 days.
Firstly, I finished all 42 blocks for Madlen's scrappy trip around the world.  I did another scrappy trip earlier in the year and had also done some bee blocks. Consequently, I had a lot of spare strips. So what's a girl to do but make her first scrap vomit!

The 'A' blocks were no problem, as I just used up my spare strips and managed 8 blocks just from the scraps. I then strip pieced the other 5 blocks. I had to make the 'B' blocks from scratch but decided to strip -piece them using Katie's tutorial. This calls for 22inch strips to give the necessary 12 blocks,but I already had loads of 18 inch strips and as it's meant to use up scraps I used them. It meant I had to cobble together a few more strips to get all 12 blocks.
This is destined to be a quilt for Lydia, one of my BF's daughters.
I have also finished most of this months Bee blocks really early!. First up, Siblings together:
Then a block for Amy for the Simply solids bee. She asked for a 15" impro block.

I also made her 2 blocks for Wonkyville.
I also  finished my blocks for Sam in the Star block quilting bee. This bee is now over , although 4 of the women have not sent me my blocks back even though my month as Queen Bee was March!
Mary chose the Economy I-spy block for Together@do.good stitches:
I had already decided to make a quilt using these blocks for a colleagues daughter, but I thought that 5 inch finished blocks were too small. Firstly, I worked out the necessary size of squares to make  a 9 inch (finished size) block:
but decided these were too big, so did the maths again to make a 6 inch ( finished size ) block:
I'm happy with these, so just need to make another 75 blocks!
I promised some time ago to make  a quilt for the 13 year old son of one of my oldest friends. Originally, I was going to make SewKindof wonderful's  Abacus pattern but after trying it out, I decided it was too hard. Instead, I have chosen a pattern from Amy Ellis's book Modern Neutrals. This is a very graphic pattern and well out of my 'normal' range, but I think it will look fab.
It's paper pieced but fairly simple, so I should be able to work steadily at it.
 I'm accumulating so many quilt tops that need finishing once the building work is all done. At the last count there were a whopping 7 tops all finished, 4 quilts which need more blocks (not including the 2 new ones I have started) and one Bee quilt where 50% of the blocks are such poor quality that I can't use them.  I haven't decided  what to do with those.
When the roof is back on, Mr Hare and I are going to have a long holiday. I'm really looking forward to it.



Sunday, 4 August 2013

We wuz robbed

It seems that everything I post lately is full of doom and gloom. It feels like I am having my equivalent of the Queen's annus horribilis and it's only half way through the year! In the early hours of Thursday morning while we were fast asleep upstairs, we were burgled.
The thief carefully removed some mirrors which were leaning up against the kitchen window and placed them around the corner. We are renovating the house ( as well as repairing the fire damage) and these mirrors were 'stored' against the kitchen window.

He then jemmied open the kitchen window 

and carefully removed everything from the kitchen windowsill and draining board and  placed them outside.

 One of our garden chairs was used as a lift up into the kitchen

He didn't take much, only as much as he could carry. This included my handbag, another Mulberry handbag, a new laptop, my son's phone and various leads to charge the phones/ computers etc.
My handbag contains my life! I carry everything in there. This included my phone ( numbers foolishly not backed up), my purse containing cash and all my cards, my house and car keys, two sets of spectacles, a metro card etc, etc.

So I had to take a day off work, just to sort out the basics-calling the police (and the subsequent statements)  cancelling all my cards and getting a locksmith in to change all the locks and secure the window.

The police were very professional and even managed to get a size 12 footprint off the kitchen floor and identify the exact make of shoe. The thief wore gloves so they couldn't get any fingerprints.

It was only later when I had sorted out the important items that I could think about what else had gone. It is the little things that gall the most. A notebook which I used to jot down all sorts of things, my brand new made-by- Hadley keyfob,  a pouch containing all my EPP paper pieces and basted  diamonds, the usb sticks that I haven't foolishly backed up or catalogued, the pictures on my phone, all the contact numbers. Mr Hare is very sanguine about it all but then nothing of his was stolen. I know in my heart of hearts that they are only things that can be replaced, but it has upset me a lot.

It's not helped that I tore my calf muscle in aerobics last week and I can barely walk. I get cranky if I can't exercise and I now have to be a couch potato for 6 weeks, aargh!

 I had a great time at FQR 2013 meeting lots of friends new and old and matching blog and flickr names to real live people. It has been well covered in blogs and on flickr, so I'm not going to add anything new. It now seems like eons ago.

On a more positive note I had an average July as far as making things go. I can't get my July mosaic on my computer or flickr to download to the blog. It will have to wait until my son wakes up. They are mostly all bee blocks but I have made progress on Madlen's bright quilt. I'm probably half way through making the blocks and I just love how quickly they come together. This is destined to cover her sofa when she moves.

She also wants me to make her another one!! Very girly and covered in roses as far as I can tell.
I've also been asked to make a cushion featuring a VW for charity. They have kindly provided a photo for me to work from( due to my very limited computer skills I can't get that to load either).

I've managed to pick 1kg  of gooseberries from a twig of a gooseberry bush that I put in last year. I made a gooseberry pie for Mr Hare and Wonderboy ( it went down in a flash) and gooseberry coulis for me ( lovely mixed with plain yoghurt). It's also been a bumper year for raspberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants. I don't have many bushes  but they have been very productive. As the beginning of the year was so bad I only sowed 4 courgette plants but I've had  5 or 6 courgettes, lots of rocket and the tomatoes are just beginning to start as well. These are the small things in life that cheer me up.

Lastly, I had this delivered after ordering it off Lu at the retreat- wonderful!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Sewing Matters

I thought it was about time I posted something. Life has been busy here in Wales.Mr Hare is currently away ( back tonight) having a well deserved holiday sailing in France with some friends.

Now for the whinge/sob story. It is now 6 months and a week ( yes really!) since the fire in our house and we still haven't had the insurance money. We can't go away on holiday together as the house is not secure and the tarpaulin leaks badly. We could leave Wonder Boy ( aka Harri ) in charge as he's back from Uni but I'm not sure if he would cope if say the ceiling fell down. This is a distinct possibility. Two of our ceilings are sagging badly and all it will take is a little more rain and they will go. Thank goodness for our current glorious weather! It is beginning to get me down. I feel like I'm living in limbo land, in fact like living in a squat ( which yes I did do, eons ago in my youth).

Now for the outright boasting. My clever daughter won 'Young Medical Journalist of the year' this week at a ceremony in London ( in another category Max Pemberton who writes for The Telegraph won ). Not only that but she got £750.00 as prize money. I'm so proud of her.

So on to sewing matters. Sewing does matter to me, it is what is keeping me sane at the moment ( along with gardening). However, because of limited space the only sewing I can do is small, like blocks.

I tried to quilt Siblings together Mark 2 which was made from extra blocks from FQR Quilt Bee, but it just wasn't happening. So I have abandoned it for now rather than spoil it and I'll have to give it to Siblings together next year.
I have made loads of Bee blocks. Despite having some serious reservations about Bees ( that will be another post) I have gone and joined a few more. FQR Quilt Bee ( formerly FQR Kinky Bee) is going to continue which is great. I have also joined the Siblings together Bee lead by the wonderful Lynne of Lily's Quilts and have been doing Together at do.good stitches for a few months. My star block bee is coming to an end and I'm about half way through Simply Solids Bee.

Swoon Block for Stacey in Star Block Quilting Bee
Wavy curves for Alice in Simply Solids Bee
Star block for Lynne in Siblings together Bee.
Wonky squares for Jo in Siblings together.
Antique tile for Rachael in Together @  do.good stitches
I have also started 2 new quilts ( I must be mad as I have so many works in progress). Madlen is moving into a new house and actually asked me to make her a bright quilt. So, I started another scrappy trip around the world in bright colours.
But I've also been eyeing up all those lovely Marcelle medallion quilts ( I particularly like Hadley's)
I haven't got the magazine and I'm too mean to buy the book when I only want to make one quilt out of it , so I thought I would just make it up. I'm also not too keen on the medallion that Marcelle uses so I chose another block from here. This was only 12 inches square so I hand designed an outer border which I have placed ( not sewn yet ) on top. It has not worked at all well and it's going to be back to the drawing board. I can't stand the less than perfect outer curves despite the fact that I have a rather nifty curved sewing foot that I bought at FoQ last year.

I have also made my sample swaps for FQ Retreat next week, lavender sachets and a bar of my handmade natural soap
I used this wonderful smelling French lavender for the sachets. It is a rather dry dusty colour but retains it's smell for ages. 
I'm very excited about the retreat, it was so much fun last year. Mr Hare is going to come with me( not to the actual retreat!) but to help Madlen move into her new house. I've still got to get a few things together for the retreat but I'll do those today and in the evenings next week.