Friday, 23 April 2010

Another weekend

Working in the health industry means shifts and so my weekends are not necessarily two days in a row nor are they always on Saturdays and Sundays. This means I take my 'me' time at times that are unorthadox to other folk. This evening I'm at the end of this weeks weekend and am grateful to have been able to spend sometime at the sewing machine. I love sewing! My machine is in a great spot where I can look out the window and can watch the horses on the hill, our own four legged children in the garden and when he is about I can watch Enman pottering around too.

A few days ago I only had one item left to make for a current swap and so started fiddling again. I like to fiddle with pencil and paper and that's usually how things grow. Right now and until it reaches it's new home I can't tell you what it is but I promise to show a full pic once it has arrived. (Pssst: if PQS3 means anything to you then you know what this is about .... ssssshhhhhhh)

Dipping into that pile of rescued photocopy errors paper I've drawn it out, chosen fabrics and got stuck in.

That blue piece of plastic you see is actually redundant xray plate. It was a tip someone gave me many years ago. Rescue some old plates from the xray department of your local hospital, wipe some amonia gel cleaner all over them and on both sides, leave for a couple of minutes, then wipe them over with a sponge, (the chemicals come off really easily) rinse under running water, dry them and voila, you have the perfect plate to make templates with. What's really nice is that you cut the paper template exactly to it's finished size, use a glue stick to stick it to the xray plate, then using a pen and ruler mark 1/4 inch away from the paper and cut it out on the pen line. So now, when you mark and cut your fabric you know that you have an accurate seam allowance all around.

Using this method all the pieces got cut, sewn together and in no time it was all done. It's great to see something coming together.

All this time Enman was downstairs pottering. This is what he has got going for us so far.

The tomatoe's are in their new beds with supporting canes. Enman likes to put the pots (in this case buckets) onto a bed of pebbles which are filled with water and the plant sends down roots and takes water as it needs it. It works!

The radishes are popping their little heads out of the soil. These are grown in a piece of guttering that is wedged in the supports of the greenhouse frame. They're at head height and so, just as we did last year we'll probably nibble at them while faffing around.

The sun was a bit strong but these are sweatpeas that are shooting. The seeds are planted into old toilet rolls and when they're big enough they can go into a pot exactly as they are. We recycle a lot and this is just one of the ways that we reuse household items.

To everyone that has a 'Saturday-Sunday' weekend, here's wishing you a relaxing one :)

Take care

Sunday, 18 April 2010

A weekend of rainbow spider web

Wow, what a weekend it has been! It's my turn next on our Sew2Speak quilting bee monthly calendar and I've been plotting for weeks. It started off by getting a load of rejected paper from the bin next to the photocopier, bringing it home and squaring it off then cutting the squares in half. Thank goodness Enman has a paper guillotine :)
Then I downloaded some graph paper and sat doodling.

All the time I was in a state of indecision as to whether to make the spider web blocks or to go with another old one that I've always like called Jewel Box. In the end, during one of my sleepless nights, the spider web won. My twist on it is that all the webs will run in rainbow colour lines. Jeesh, little did I know how much cutting out that would involve!! In the middle of laying out paper foundation blocks and placing strips I heard a familiar sound that normally irritates the hell out of me ... but not today

After a hedenistic interlude and smiling at the Monster which had it's first wash of the season and got to hang out in the sunshine (oh, be shush all you purist who tell us not to hang our quilts in the direct sun).

Harry took upon himself to guard our precious Monster ... yes, that is what we call it ... 'the Monster' ... even Mister Man had did a tour of guard duty. Soon it was time to get back to plotting.

This is what our bed looked like in the late evening. Notice the BIG mistake ... I didn't put down a sheet first so that the blocks could be pinned in place, so that when we went to bed I didn't have an issue moving them, so that when I got back to it today I would place them in the wrong places .... grrrrr By the end of today all the blocks and little pieces of fabric were in place. Note: I don't really do yellow/orange/red so I don't have any orange in my stash but out of necessity there is some yellow and some red. This rainbow has therefore been modified and red is pink, and orange is red and finally I got to sew a test block.

I'm so chuffed! Enman is cooking tea (supper for all those ourside of the UK) and I'm here bragging. Before he feels neglected I'd better just tell you that the greenhouse is done and dusted and looking good!!
It has a potting bench, with seedling pots on it waiting for them to germinate, a bar stool for Enman to sit on while he works in there, paved floor, solar powered fan in the roof, water on tap, big shelves for the plant boxes which will come in later when the seedlings have been transplanted, a frame for the tomatoes, squashes and marrows to be supported and a deep bed that Moi dug over and composted with compost from our own household compost bin inside . My man has such great green fingers and I really wish him many happy warm days in there.

It's been a good and productive weekend Down the Avenue. Hope you all enjoyed yours and that your week ahead is a good one.

Take care

Keeping a journal

Many years ago I discovered my Dad, in his retirement, had started using a journal ... for everything! One half of the dining table had become his office and so you could catch a glimpse of it if you sat in the lounge. Visiting with them one day I saw this run-of-the-mill-stationery-shop journal lying on the table and asked him about it. He explained that now that he was retired he kept a note of everything that happened in his day including who visited, how he spent his pennies, the weather etc. In a sordid way I was pleased to see it because as children my parents had always insisted that they preferred home-handmade gifts to shop bought ones and so throughout my life it became a pattern that most gifts were homemade. By implication this involved thought, planning and effort which of course was what they were trying to instill in me and my siblings. That Christmas I made him a journal cover and included a new journal for the next year. After that it became the pattern that I supplied him his new journal every year.

Then, sadly, in 10th October 2006 he died, one month and one day after turning 70. We were devastated, he had been through so much and had seemed to be doing so well and then suddenly his health took a nose dive and died a six weeks later. My Mom really took it very badly and mourned so that she lost a lot of weight and we were very worried. In all of this she had started to look at his entries in his journals. Then she picked up where he had left off and started to note everything just as he had and when we last visited with her last year I saw that even though the year had changed she was still using his blue journal cover I had made him. I decided it was time for her to have a more feminine cover and made her this one. I know she will always keep my Dad's journal cover with his journals but now she has her own.

This is my first entry direct from Flickr (apart from the test one) and if it all goes well you will probably get more regular posts because it means I won't have to replicate picture loading etc.

Take care


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Keeping out of mischief

Slowly but surely Enman is making progress. Having a dikky back doesn't help and when he over did it doing the brickwork it meant that building work stood still for almost 3 days. Last night the greenhouse had a roof and by the end of today it had two of the sides in - those that go on either side of the sliding door. I think a good little tweak will have to be some butterfly stickers that can be put on the glass, you know the kind of thing you put on a glass sliding door so you know when the door is open or closed.
Well, while he was kept occupied I got settled upstairs by popping in cassette no 1 of Shell Seekers and got fiddling.

First I want to show you what happened to 2 of 4 galvenised plant pots that I found at a car boot for 20p each. Note the red paper sticking out, well that's my easter egg choc. It's not there anymore :) We have mice in our house that find all the nibbly things and when we look for them they're gone. The mice don't litter though, they throw all the empty wrappers in the dustbin. I suppose that is their way of letting us know that when we look for something to nibble that it's already been enjoyed.

Back to the plant pots: I cut out and glued some carpet underlay inside to create a cushion for the scissors, pens, pencils etc to rest on. Then, using Modge Podge, I glued the fabric to the tins. When that was dry, using the glue gun (for the first time ever) I glued the ric-rac and yoyo's to the seam of the fabric and voila!

This morning the postman delivered fabrics from Elaine for her blocks. She asked us to make Spring/summer Wonky House blocks and sent lovely bright batiks to make them with. After making the first one we popped out to the local carvery for supper. Their food is always delicious and not expensive either. I'd love to show you how big and scrumptious the plate of three meats and various veggies is but Enman doesn't like me taking photo's in restaurants :(

Back home again and still feeling inspired I went straight back to the cutting mat and sewing machine and this is the result. The second wonky house block. Just couldn't resist making the window look like England's flag to remind Elaine (who lives in the USA) that this little house travelled all that way to keep someone warm.

Now, it's time to go and put the kettle on, so until next time,
Take care

Do you belong to a Quilting Bee?

Then you need to go take a look at a new site that Erin has just set up called Not only is she offering a great give-away but there's a list and photo's of blocks that are ideal for quilting bees.

If you don't yet belong to a bee and are looking for one to join then go have a look at this thread on her Flickr group. I struggled for a long time to find my first quilting bee as everytime I found one they were full. Eventually, however, patience paid off and I become part of a great group which is called Sew 2 Speak. The first month we made wonky blocks for Anna and now we're into our second month. Can't wait to have the postman deliver the fabrics so I can get going on the new block(s).

Go, give it a try and have loads of fun!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Happy Birthday Boytjie

It's my boy's birthday and he is 23 today!! I miss him. He gives the nicest hugs! Thank goodness for technology. Last night, taking into account the difference in our time zones I was able to speak to him and wish him the best birthday ever.
From a very young age I should have known that he would be different. Our family is academic and he is arty. We are sporty and he .... well ... give him a PC and he will play Online games for 48 hours at a stretch. He has taught me so much about thinking outside the box and going from planning everything ahead to doing things on the spur of the moment. Most of my formative and adult life all excursions and holidays were finely planned. He always bemoaned his lot with these planned getaways so for a while we didn't have any. Then one day sitting at work I decided to treat us both, asked my then boss for a long weekend and went home early. He was surprised to see me and even more surprised when I told him to pack a bag for 4 days. He asked where we were going and I said 'I don't know, you decide.' At that stage we lived in a town that is about a 40 minute drive from Cape Town so it's pretty much at the bottom of Africa. He had the choice of going West, North or East. He chose East. Early the next morning we packed the car and left.

The rules of our getaway were:
1. Each day we would go to a town we had not visited before using back roads (we had travelled the Peninsula quite a lot);
2. Each day we would do something we had never done before
3. We would not make any reservations
4. We would travel until we only had enough petrol money to get back home.
It was the first of the best holidays we ever had together.

As we drove along we noticed a sign advertising quad drives through a forest set on a mountain range and so we turned off the road and went quad riding. We drove to the Southernmost point of Africa, threw pebbles into where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet; visited the lighthouse; found a quaint little restaurant and had some lunch.

He asked where we were sleeping that night and I reminded him that I did not know yet. We ended up sleeping at a different Backpackers every night. The next day we drove further up the coast and did our first ever 62metre bungee jump off the Gouritz River Bridge. We visited a maritime museum and an oceanarium and went to the oldest post office (in South Africa) in Mossel Bay.
Day three (a Sunday morning) we woke early so as to catch the low tide and walked in the freezing cold surf in Plettenberg Bay trying to find a pansy shell. We didn't find one but we did sit and watch a group of christians being baptised in the ocean. Later that morning as we walked around the quiet town I found a jeweller shop that had a tiny pansy shell charm in his window. I telephoned the number and told the man our short story. He lived across the road and unbeknown to me was watching us as we spoke. He promptly came down and opened up the shop so I could buy the charm (I also bought a little lighthouse charm). He was charming (pardon the pun) and as we were about to leave he said to 'Wait a minute' and hurried through to the back of his shop. He came back carrying a little gift box which he gave me. When I opened it, low and behold, lying on a bed of soft cotton was the most beautiful, delicate, complete, pansy shell!

Day four we drove further up the coast and into the forests but found no elephants. (There is now an elephant sanctuary which we visited in Feb 2009). That day, around noon we locked ourselves out of the car, with the keys inside still in the ignition. It shouldn't happen but it did. a young man from a petrol station not far away was able to open up the car for us. He was well rewarded! After eating our lunch we sat and counted our money and we only had enough to get home so, sadly, we turned around and drove home. We had done 1200 kms/745 miles.

This might sound crazy but doing this getaway brought us closer together than we had ever been. We only had each other for company, no tv, no mates. We learned a lot about each other. Now you know why I miss him so.


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