Monday, 31 October 2011

New Stuff!

With a happy heart I tell you I have a new Go! Baby. Woohoo! Yippee! And all that sort of thing. I haven't had a chance to use it yet but it sits there patiently waiting. I am very impressed with Accuquilt's customer service in respect to this. I showed them photos of what has happening and they sent me the replacement. Now I can have a Go! like the rest of you - one that doesn't mangle cutting mats and the backs of dies alike.

Suppose I had best start composing my Christmas wish list and the dies that I would like to add to the three I have. Does anyone have a die in particular they have found really useful? Does anyone want me to get a die so that I can cut fabric for them? Not joking, more than happy to do a little cutting on the side for friends. The charms that Cindy sent me to cut into Drunkard's Path blocks took less than ten minutes to do as they were already the right size for cutting.

Last night I sat and listened to telly. I didn't actually watch because I was spending all my time squinting at that cushion top where the quilting went wrong, picking out the stitches. What a palaver!!! It was definitely the thread and not me. It was split, so hard to catch with the seam ripper, those bits not split wanted badly to be just like the rest and made picking out very tiresome indeed. But it is done, and I have spent today getting all seven (the current count) cushion covers stuck to the fleece and quilted.

I'm not going to show you today though. Instead I am going to show you what I received from the Scrappy Swap. My secret partner was a fellow Canadian and she got me spot on.  So I would like to send a huge thank you out to Deanna, who can be found blogging here. She makes the sweetest dresses for her little girl.

There is a great selection of scraps,
and I now have some Russian dolls of my own! Woohoo!

Check this out. Not one but two needle books. Both perfect.
I love fabrics with birds on them, and owls are the best.
Now I can have my perle needles with my perle threads,
and my hand quilting needles not getting lost because they are soooooo small.
Check out this owl.
It is embroidered on, not a printed one.
I cannot stress how incredibly tiny these stitches are.
I am so impressed I am at a loss how to express myself.
(And I just know that Rhonda will be piggin' sick with jealousy!)
These extras are priceless.
An Alberta patch so something to represent where Deanna lives.
And just read what she did to that box of Smarties.
How on earth did Deanna get the idea that I am vaguely adverse to housework?!?!
Deanna, you have sent me the perfect package. Thank you so much. And also a big thank you to Kat for organising the swap. It was loads of fun. I hope my package makes it to its destination soon.


Sunday, 30 October 2011


Everyone is doing it, and I started to feel a little left out - by my own doing - so thought it was time I joined in the very popular and excellent Bloggers Quilt Festival hosted by Amy over at Amy's Creative Side. If you haven't had a look then it is so worth the visit to see an array of such fabulous quilts all together in one place. It's such a fabulous way to realise that you have managed to sit at the computer for a couple hours straight without realising it you were enjoying blog hopping so much.

For the festival I am going to revisit my favourite quilt of all time, not just for this year. For those of you who have endured its creation - sorry, but I couldn't resist. And those who know me also know that I am talking about my Wonky Stars Quilt. It started with my sorting my scraps one day and having a play. There was no grand plan, just messing about.

I posted about falling in love with making wonky stars and a friend in Finland read the post. She fell in love too and asked if I could make her a quilt with these stars. I said yes. Any excuse to make a quilt after all! I produced stars of varied sizes, each sticking with one colour per star.

I still didn't  have the foggiest idea how I was going to piece them together. I just made stars. Eventually I had enough and after pondering - because I am good at pondering - I came up with this.

I added a border, sticking to the scrappy theme, but left gaps in it so future quilting around the stars would not be lost.

Layered and basted it, and got out the perle cotton. How I love my perle! Each star got quilted in the same colour as the star.

I FMQ all around the stars, in a loopy design but did the quilting on the border differently so that it stood out well on the very plain back.

Eventually I ended up with a quilt I loved - and couldn't keep because it was promised to a good friend. It was heartbreaking, but very satisfying to be able to send it off to Finland knowing full well it was going to be well loved. I can always make another one for myself after all. And I just might, some day.

Thank you for letting me revisit this quilt, and if you dropped by here from the Bloggers Quilt Festival, thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed seeing my quilt.


Saturday, 29 October 2011

Today I Had a Mission

It is pretty obvious from the title of this blog that I am a Canadian who doesn't live in Canada. If you have read me before then you will know that I currently live smack dab in the middle of England. It's a good life and a happy life. But sometimes I hanker after things 'Canadian'. Dare I say that Halloween is one of those times of year that I sort of, maybe, wish that I was in North America.

If you grew up with Halloween then you are generally hooked for life. It was never a teenage, trouble making thing that some people tell me it is in England. Is was just darn good fun. I'm a mother. I want my girls to enjoy Halloween too. And they do, they absolutely love it. From the first time that I took them trick or treating and Emily's three year old self declared it 'The best thing ever!' to the present day.

Luckily the area we live has embraced it and most of their friends go trick or treating in the village with lots of houses welcoming them. We never go to houses that don't have some indication that the trick or treaters are welcome - pumpkins or decorations outside are usually a dead giveaway. This year the PTA is hosting a Halloween party tomorrow night as well.

So what is my problem, you may wonder? Pumpkins! In particular, pumpkins of a decent size. Anyone who has experienced Halloween in North America will know that pumpkins are everywhere, in every size, stacked outside farm shops and the like. Finding your perfect pumpkin each year is no different than finding your perfect Christmas tree in a couple of months time.

Places like this, pumpkins galore - that's what I want!

We went to buy a pumpkin yesterday. We were in Tesco. The 'large' pumpkins there were smaller than Emily's head. Not that Emily has an unusually small head but her head size is not the same as a large pumpkin! I refused to buy one. Unfortunately we went to two garden centres and there wasn't a pumpkin between them. So we went to the Coop where the girls said there were most definitely pumpkins. There were, but when I went to lift one puny specimen out to have a look - at this point getting a little desperate and less picky about size - my fingers sank into a rotting bit in a rather gross and off putting way. We did not buy one of their pumpkins!

Today I awoke with a mission. Pumpkins must be found. I would like to thank Sainsburys for not only coming through for us, but for actually providing pumpkins of a size that gladdened my Canadian heart.

It also soothed the savage beasts that are my children. Having inducted them into the joys of Halloween at a very young age they couldn't face Halloween without a pumpkin either. Who knows where I might have ended up today in my quest if Sainsburys hadn't provided?!

Emily's owl.
Stop and look a minute. That is not two mouths - those are the claws.
And there are wings to either side.
Helen's spider.
Eight legs, fangs, the whole scary lot!
(Oh, come on, you didn't seriously think that I wasn't going to do one too, did you?!)
Pumpkins carved, MIL over for lunch as we hadn't seen her in absolutely ages, and it was eventually time to do some sewing. Woohoo! Well, the 'woohoo' held for a short while. I got out the recently purchased fusible fleece, read the instructions (please see photo) and got going with the iron on the wool setting.

I cut, I layered, I covered all with a dampened tea towel and I got to work.

And it all did just what it was supposed to do. I did find it a little strange cutting the fleece to the same size as the cushion top but did this as I didn't particularly wish to have the fleece glued to my tea towel. Those of you who have used this stuff before - does this happen or can I merrily cut a little larger?

I then went about quilting without any backing fabric, as Lynne had suggested. It worked a charm and I had no problems at all. A quick stipple and it was done. Ready to finish with sewing on the cushion back.

Great, thought I. And I went about doing it all over again with another cushion cover. I thought I would do the other firemen one as I already had the colour of thread I wanted on the machine. I would change from a stipple to a loopy FMQ. Easy peasy and quick, thought I. (Too much thinking was going on and you just know it had to go wrong!)

First the thread broke several times. You can see one of those times in the bottom right hand corner of the photo. Then my thread did this to me! See that clump. It was the end of the spool, but I have never had a spool of thread do this to me before, at any point in using it. It made my machine make funny noises - which always makes my heart lurch! And I don't have any more of that colour, there is still a third more of the cushion cover to quilt, I am annoyed, I am worried that if I go back to my machine it will start making 'those noises' again.

So I walked away and wrote this post instead. Seemed the most sensible option. I am going to ignore that cushion cover. Pretend it didn't happen. Maybe go try some straight line quilting, if I get back in the mood. I am not going to try picking out all those stitches today. So not in the mood for that!

If you have stopped by from Ellison Lane Quilts through Jennifer's Spotlight feature on me today - Hi! - and yes, this is fairly typical of one of my days. Unpredictable, seldom goes to plan, but I have fun. Most of the time - when my thread isn't doing the above to me. Hope you enjoyed your visit.


Friday, 28 October 2011

Favourite Things Friday

Shay is back from her gallivanting on the Sunshine Coast of Australia so that means Favourite Things Friday is back as well. And I have a good one this week! But first, I have a couple of other things to show you.

I diligently set about piecing the second bee block for Laura yesterday. This block took a while but I am really pleased with the finish. I do hope Laura is too.

I didn't use a pattern for this star block, but looking at it now, can see that it would look quite good, several together as the white bits on the corners would make star(ish) shapes of their own, etc. But if I was doing it again I would make it bigger than a 12.5" block. This was a fiddly little bugger! Here are my two bee blocks together.

Finished just in time for November's bee fabric to land on the doorstep. I wonder what Hadley has in store for us? She keeps cackling about HSTs. Well, that's fine by me as I just got plenty of practice in!

In our peaceful house yesterday a different child elbowed her way into the kitchen. Emily has come to realise that Helen has all the kitchen glory these days in the baking department and she decided she wasn't having that. Cue loud arguments, kind comments like 'But baking is my thing! You can't start doing it.' Well, that was enough to tip me over the edge in Emily's favour. So Emily got to bake, with promises of more sessions in the future, with them both getting their time in kitchen - separately!

Emily  made an orange cake and then decorated it in honour of the season.

And that brings us to my Favourite Thing Friday. Over my blogging months here online I have come to read a number of Australian bloggers regularly all the time - Kat, Shay, Kirsten, Katie - and they are brilliant. Talented and funny, a combination that is hard to beat. They also go out of their way to mention the curative affects of a TimTam when they are having a bad day. I quickly cottoned on to the fact that TimTams involved chocolate. That was enough to raise my interest!

One day I finally took the bull by the horns, admitted my ignorance, and asked Shay what on earth a TimTam was. Well! Look what I have!

They came with a pithy little note about the inefficiency of husbands. Perfect finish to a perfect package. I am ever so proud to say that I now know what a TimTam is. Not only that - I know what one tastes like. Woohoo! I thought I would start with the 'original' flavour.

Behold, a chocolate coated scrumptiousness, with a creamy filling sandwiched between two chocolate biscuits.

For those in the UK, it's like a Penguin - only better. The rest of these TimTams now reside on the highest shelf out of reach of searching hands. I am going to be incredibly selfish and dole them out grudgingly because I really want to say 'No, they're mine, mine, mine!' But seeing as how I am trying to discourage that behaviour in my children I thought maybe the out of sight out of mind tactic might work better. Fingers crossed!

My favourite thing this Friday should be Shay for sending me these, but she was pipped at the post by the actual TimTams which are the winner here. Now that Shay has me hooked what will I do to feed my addiction?!


Thursday, 27 October 2011

London - a brief pictorial glimpse!

Well, we did it, we survived the hustle and bustle of London and returned to the (blissfully) quiet countryside. We had an absolutely fantastic time but it was so good to come home and get a good night sleep. In London we stayed at the Royal National Hotel. Would I recommend it? Um, no, I wouldn't! In terms of convenience the location was brilliant, just off Russell Square and only a minute to walk to the Underground. In terms of ambiance, breakfast, and - most importantly - good double glazing it failed magnificently! We were on the sixth floor and it felt like we were sleeping right on the sidewalk by the traffic the window did so little to block out noise. Nor did I enjoy listening to the young Italian gentleman in the room next door until 2am the second night. Apparently he was not aware that others wished to be sleeping at this time. The night manager took him in hand eventually, thank goodness. (Not my doing, someone else complained.)

That is the only downside to our little jaunt. Everything else was wonderful. We crammed in lots, got great weather and loved everything we did. We arrived about lunch time on Monday and headed over to Kings Cross to collect my mum. After checking in at the hotel we went with Emily's request to go to the Sylvanian Family Shop. As she has been saving her money for this for almost a year it only seemed fair to let her go immediately. The Sylvanian Family Shop is a small trek out to Finsbury Park (yes, odd place to find it, I know) and a short ten minute walk from there.


That was Emily upon arrival. It is worth the trip to the shop just to see their faces when they went inside.

Then we just had to be really patient while they dithered because they only had so much money to spend but they wanted everything. Making a decision was tough!

The detail in these toys is fabulous.

Eventually, another satisfied customer!
That evening began one of my favourite parts of going to London and what I miss so much about living in a city. Food! Choice of restaurants! Monday night we went to Carluccio's. It was scrumptious. Who could argue with a plate full of pasta and seafood, redolent with garlic and chili? Certainly not me! Emily was tired after the main courses so I let the girls choose something from the deli for desert to have back in the hotel room.

A Halloween 'Ghost' meringue and a raspberry meringue.
(No, I did not let Helen eat all that in one go!)
Tuesday we awoke to a clear blue sky and a mother/grandmother telling us that she was treating us to a trip on the London Eye. Yippee! We headed over there right after breakfast to avoid undue crowds and it was the right move. Emily came around the corner from Waterloo Station, and stopped dead when she saw The Eye.

'Wow!' was quickly followed by 'Wow! Wow!!' It was a perfect reaction. Of course Helen was an old hand since I took her when she was four so she tried to be was more cool about it.

With Grandma.
At the top.
I liked this shadow shot.
This is a photo of the photo that we bought after our trip on The Eye.
Personally, I love it because it is a good shot of me!
Our next stop was Trafalgar Square to go to the National Gallery.

We got briefly distracted by a little abseiling entertainment.

And the Olympic countdown clock.

And the ship in a bottle on the fourth plinth.

But we headed in the right direction eventually.

My favourite banner!
I am not sure how many people are aware that some of the most fabulous
museums here in the UK are free.
The National Gallery was a hit with the girls. (Mum and I already knew we loved it.) It was so cool to see their faces when they spotted paintings that they loved, especially the Van Gogh's they so wanted to see. It was all going swimmingly well until Helen viewed The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche. That was just a wee bit too realistic for her. It is an amazing painting, and due to this very fact manages to portray the anguish extremely well. It was time to leave the gallery!

We headed for Chinatown.
An absolute must for us whenever we go to London.
I failed to take a photo of the food when it first arrived.
Suffice to say we were the very picture of gluttony.
And it was good! So, so very good!

We needed time out at the hotel after that feast. Later on we had a very light dinner of starters in a Greek restaurant before we headed to the theatre to see Wicked. No photos in the theatre as my camera is not up to that kind of space when a flash is required as well. Suffice to say the musical was absolutely fabulous and the girls loved it as much as mum and I did. It was perfectly summed up by Emily (she seems to be the one to quote from this trip) when it came to the interval and she asked if it was over. When I told her it wasn't she just let out a heart felt 'Phew!' We didn't get back to the hotel until after 11pm so were exhausted, but a happy exhausted.

There was only one more place to visit in London the next morning to make the girls trip complete. A visit to Hamley's - unadulterated joy for the girls and an exercise in patience and the ability to say no repeatedly on my part.

Happy girls.
Emily trying to look brave after I told her there was no way
she was getting this on the Underground, to lunch, back to the hotel,
to the train station and home again - in one piece.
I cruelly made her abandon it in Hamley's.
She cheered up when she found the lady doing the sparkly tattoo demo.
And that was just about that. We went off to Yo! Sushi for lunch. Emily promised to keep herself in check. I should have known better. As soon as her eyes landed on the salmon sushi and the tempura prawns all self control went out the window. But it was a fitting ending to our few days away.

And now we are home. The weather is miserable but that is okay, seeing as how we were so lucky in London. Even yesterday when there were constant short sharp cloud bursts they only ever happened when we were on the Underground, in Hamley's or having lunch. We were very lucky. So the girls are still in their pyjamas though it is almost 2pm. I couldn't care less. It has just taken me forever to write this post what with all the photos and the continued problem of BT supplying an ever worsening Internet connection. It does not matter. Not today. Today we relax!