31 October 2011

Lonesome tonight

I'm all on my Jack Jones this evening as Gordon is in hospital for a few days having a camera put down his throat.  He was such a sad little figure when I left him there yesterday afternoon (and he's a big bloke too).  It was our first sight of the inside of a Czech hospital.   The building is OK, and seems clean, but the equipment is like something off "Carry on Doctor" (1959). 

I think this is the very bed that Gordon has!
And he was stuck in a bed, barely big enough for him, between two czechs talking at the top of their voices.  If there was a world championship for talking loudly, and fast, then the Czech would win no problem.   But he did cheer up when a pretty blond doctor appeared who spoke quite good English.

Unfortunately, over here you're not allowed to visit on the day of the op. so he won't see a friendly face today (although, I must say, the nurses were really all very nice, and being English, he had a slight celebrity status).  And I should be able to get him out tomorrow morning at around 9.00 so he'll be back home soon enough.

In the meantime, today is the 31st October, in case you didn't know.   Over here, Halloween isn't a very big thing, thank goodness.   I never grew up with halloween, and not having any kids, I've never really seen the point.   Bah, Humbug!!! 

Tinniegirl Blogtoberfest 2011

But the 31st of October is the last day of the BLOGTOBERFEST.  HOOOOOORRRAAYYYYY.
I feel as if there should be a fanfare or something.  Is there a party?  A bottle of champagne?  When do I get my medal?  I'm happy to report that I have managed to blog every day - I'm not being smug or showing off or anything, but I am very satisfied.  I'm just one of those sad people who have to be in control of something. It's been  hard thinking of something interesting (? you may disagree that I achieved this) to write about every day and it has taken a lot of time.   But I am showing improvements on both fronts.  I have learnt not to agonise over every work, every phrase, until I think it's just right  I would've still been doing day 5 now! .  Also for the first time ever, my husband has shown an interest, helping me to find topics to ramble about.   I have some new followers too - not many but all welcome, and I have found some great new blogs to follow.  So all in all, a great success on my part.  No doubt normal service will be resumed, and I'll be posting less frequently.  But thanks to you all for sticking with me

Oh I fogot to add that there was a 2.2  magnitude earthquake about 50 kms away from here today.  I didn't feel anything, but it's news to be that we have then.  Thankfully there is no chance of tsunami this far away from the sea!

30 October 2011

Day 30/31 Blogtober fest

And I've finished the top for my Modern Table Runner swap.  Hooray!  The green fabric I ordered  from England a couple of weeks ago still hasn't arrived, so I decided to get on with the replaement border in some red polka dot fabric that I already have.  It's czech fabric, and not such nice quality as the other fabrics I've used, but I think once it's all quilted and bound, it'll be fine.

Here's a close up of all that red dottiness

And now I'm in a bit of a quandry.   I was going to machine embroider a little hanger for each bauble like this

but in pale green.  But looking at this now, I'm not so sure.   There'd be 15 vertical rows of stitching, which I think will be a bit odd across the top.  Perhaps I could  incorporate something into the quilting?   I was planning to do a row or two of quilting to echo the points, but not sure what to do in the main body.   I may hop off  to the free motion quilting project to get some inspiration.

Anyways, I do hope my partner will like it, because if not, I'd like to keep it myself!

29 October 2011

From my window.....

I have to admit that on day 29 of the Blogtoberfest, I am running short of things to blog about.   Not enough happens in my little life to make an interesting post every day.  So this is a bit of a cheat to fill an empty space.  I've seen it on a few blogs now, and it gives you a small snapshot of my life here.  Hope you find it of interest.

From my window I can see the herb garden which I attacked today - the tarragon is now a lot smaller than it was this morning, and the old thyme has been replaced by a couple of it's babies

I am thinking why my tooth is still hurting after several visits to the dentist, a root canal filling, and a promise from the dentist that it wouldn't hurt again.

From my kitchen later on tonight will be a chinese meal cooked by my husband

I am wearing my old gardening cords and an old polo neck jumper

I am creating the border for my Christmas Table Runner - second attempt.   I have just cut the good end off, instead of the excess

I am going to take my husband to hospital tomorrow to have a camera stuck down his throat.  Only in the czech republic would this take three days.  In the UK, they need the beds too much!

I am reading a czech crochet pattern book that I bought today.  The picture on the front looked OK, but oh dear, the rest prove why crocheted clothes for adults should never happen.  I'll show you some one day.

I am hearing a crappy american film which my husband is watching on the horror channel.  "I'm never going to get these callouses off my fanny!"( Dear UK readers, I belive fanny means bottom in the U.S.)

Around the house  there are animals asleep everywhere

One of my favourite things Just off for a shower in our en-suite bathroom.  I've never had one before we moved into this house, and for the first few weeks, it was like living in a hotel!   And the shower is the bestest shower in the whole wide world.  Honest!

A photo that bring happy memories

That's me on a horse at 5.00 am in the middle of Wyoming, waiting for 1000 cows to come my way. (the ranch manager said to stop them going past me.  Errrr excuse me please, could you stop, please?) 

28 October 2011

In-two-minds Friday

The problem with Fridays is that I like to join in with Favourite things Friday with Shay at Quilting in my Pyjamas, and I also like to practice my Free Moition Quilting with Cindy at Fluffy Sheep Quilting.   So today I aim to both, quickly as I don't have much time.  Please excuse me if it's bad!

First of all my Favourite thing today is that I heard that my nephew, my brothers youngest, and his girlfriend, are having a baby.   It was a total surprise, but I am soooo thrilled for them.  They are a lovely, sweet couple (men hate it when you say sweet, but they are).   I am surprised because the pair of them only qualified as nurses last year, so I'm surprised they can afford it!   So that's 4 babies due between now and the end of April.  Add another quilt to the winter stitching list - Am I going to have fun!

And now onto my free motion quilting - Bright Star this week.   One of my blog readers suggested drawing it out first.  I'm not sure if it helped or not

I don't think there's much hope of sewing a straight line if I can't draw one.  One the left, the first try, is mucho wobbly.  I went faster on the second, and the lines came out much better.

A few wobbly lines to the bottom right, but overall not bad.   The lines don't meet in the middle though!  It looks much better if you screw  your eyes up as you look at it!  

The machine wasn't happy though,because I was using some rubbishy fabric.  It was making some odd klunky noises, and I really didn't have time to stop and mess with it.  The stitches don't look too bad from a distance, but close up they aren't very good, and the back is terrible. 

If I have time during the week, I'll have another go with some better fabric.

Hope the rest of you Friday FMQers are getting on better than me!

27 October 2011

African flowers


I like to have a bit of crochet on the go.  I'm not a great hand sewer, so for the nights in front of the telly and the fire, I need a bit of crochet or some knitting.   I crocheted this blanket for my nephew and his wife for their wedding present.


When I wrote out my Winter Stitching List, I clean forgot about my crochet flowers that I started 12 months ago, or more maybe.  I don't know if you know the african flower pattern.

1. African Flower Hexagon Blanket, 2. Beginnings of something hexagony...closer 1, 3. AfricanFlower Halter Top, 4. africanflower, 5. my first african flowers...., 6. African flower afghan, 7. new project #5, 8. african flower blanket, 9. african flower, 10. African flower hexagon blanket. finished 015, 11. African flower bag almost finished, 12. Afrikanska blommor, 13. Backside of my pillowcase14. Not available15. Not available16. Not available

And of course, there is a flickr flickr group

Here's my take on it, using up some balls of cotton that I've had for ages.

A pile of african flowers

Lots of lovely bright colours, randomly selected

This is how many I've done so far

Looking over the mosaic now, I must admit I prefer those that are co-ordinated colours, rather than just random like this.  But they're done, and I'm not changing them now!  I have been crocheting away without any clear idea of what to do with them,  but now    I'm thinking I could use these to make the baby blanket for my friend in Oz (item number  15 on my list)   Do you think they'd make a good baby blanket or is it a bit too loud?   What colour would look good to join them?   Any suggestions would be appricated

26 October 2011

All the way from Planet Moron

Today was the long awaited day when the council would attend to bank that borders our property.  When they dug the road out, they didn't support the bank they opened up in any way, so it has gradually been falling away over the last 4 years.  But due to the polite, insistent and relentless nagging from my husband, they are now supporting it properly.  Well not properly - they don't have the money to do it properly and build a road, but it will be sufficient to stop our septic tank from migrating down the hill towards our poor neighbours!

But then the tractor driver arrived from planet Moron, and drove his tractor through the electric box belonging to our neighbours, which cut off the electricity to the whole street.  On my day off?  When I had sewing planned?  How dare he?  Actually, it did get quite exciting, for around these parts.  At one stage we had three policeman here, measuring, taking a breatheliser, taking notes.  I guess it could have been quite serious, and we've probably got a Health and Safety enquiry started.  Needless to say all work on the bank has stopped.  The tractor drivers and the digger man buggered off.   The electricity was off for over 3 hours, but I did manage to get a few manual jobs done - cutting, planning, tidying (how did my little sewing room get so untidy in such a short time?). 

A quick update on the Red running table runner border.   I went to the big city on Sunday and managed to get some of the colour catchers everyone recommended.  So on Monday am, they went into the washing machine with a peice of red and a piece of white fabric.  The anticipation on my return home from work was unbearable.  Would it be OK and I wouldn't have to re make the border?   Err, actually no it's wasn't OK.   The colour catchers did their job, but not well enough to save the white fabric, and furthermore the border.   Do you want to know what I did with it?

If you look carefully you can just make it out in the flames

So I guess I've learned my lesson the hard way.  The white fabric for the new border is cut, and I'm just waiting on some green spotty  fabric I have ordered.  Then I have to decide if it's the red spot or the green spot, both of which will be tested for colour fastness!.

On a lighter note, today is day 26 of the Blogtoberfest.  Roll on Monday is all I can say - I am sort of running out of inspiration for my daily post!

25 October 2011

I don't know about you, but I love books.  I love the crisp pages, the smell of a book, piling them up, arranging them in the bookcase.  Sorry, is there something odd about this?   There is a place for audio books (gardening, cleaning)  and for the kindle too (lying in bed, on holiday)  but they will never replace books.  And certianly not for reference books.    When I was in England in the summer, I came back with this lovely little pile.   Some were recommended by friends, some were my choice, and one was a gift from a friend who knows I have a bit of a mushroom fettish!

I thought I'd show you a little of each of these books as I use them, rather than first impressions.   So first off the mark is the top one Scandinavian Stitches by Kajsa Wikman.  

It's full of what seem to be fairly easy projects to get a beginner like me into machine applique. They are all in the same scandinavian style, which is very popular at the moment and a lot of these projects would make nice gifts.    Even if you don't make anything, it's a very nice book to browse through.


I've made one of the little houses as a small decoration to send to my partner in the Christmas Table Runner swap. 

And I've just got to have a go at the picture of the house with the washing blowing in the wind.    

If you're an experienced sewer, I don't think this book is going to teach you anthing new, but even so, it is cute!

24 October 2011

What do you get if you cross

A trip to IKEA

with Celebrity Master Chef?

You get a very nice Pork tenderloin sauteed with mushrooms accompanied by a sweet potato and bean rissole, served with a red wine jus.   And you get it served on a square plate.

Not cooked by me, I hasten to add.   It was delicious.

On a separate note, thanks to everyone for their sympathy and helpful suggestions regarding my runny red border.   Unfortunately, the test wash this afternoon with 2 colour catchers resulted in the red fabric winning hands down.   So, there's nothing for it, the border will have to go and I'll make a new one.   I'll un-pick it tonight then sew it again on my day off on Wednesday.   That' way it'll seem like a new project.

23 October 2011

Winter Stitching

FairyFace Designs

I have been reading quite a lot of bloggers who are joining in with the Winter Stitching List with Sarah at Fairy Face Designs.  I saw the summer one, but didn't join in because, whilst I am a bit of a list person, I'm also a bit of a control freak, and if I don't do everything on the list, I stress out.  But as a purely academic exercise, I started to write out a list of what I wanted to achieve this winter.   It really made me focus on what I really wanted to do as opposed to what I think I wanted to do.  So having written the list, I thought I'd join in.

Pause to feed the animals, before the cats eat me!

Back, but no doubt will have to shoo the dog from the cat food.

Here goes then:

Definite will do and will finish

  1. Finish the Table Runner for the Modern Christmas Table Runner swap, plus a little Christmas decoration


2.   Finish Sherbet Pips quilt - boys version for my friend's daughter 

3.   Make a girlie Sherbet Pips in anticipation of two babies due next year

4.   Make a "Pay it Forward" gift for my parnter - I think I know what I'm going to do now but it will have to remain a secret until it's done and sent

5.   Make a Supernova Quilt for a friend.   It's not exactly a commission, because she's not paying me, but she did ask if I would, so it's almost a commission.  I really love this design and was going to make it for myself.  I've aleady ordered the "Hope Valley" full set of FQs (another story there) and you never know, there may be enough material left over for me.

6.  Finish a cardigan for myself.  This is a long term, sitting in front of the telly, winter project

7.    Crochet a romper suit for my friends daughter - a holiday project

8.    Knit or crochet a couple of hats for another friends daughter who apparently has a big head!   Also a holiday project

9.    Make some new cushion covers for the lounge, including a cathedral windows cushion

10.  Make a bag - tote sized

11.  Make something with a zip

12.  Make a tunic top using the Shearwater  pattern from "Make it Perfect"

13.  Make some small things to improve my basic sewing skills - bags, baskets, a dog lead. etc etc.

14.  Make a quilt for our bed - maybe, just maybe, join in a bee to accomplish this.

15.  Quilt or crochet a blanket for a friend in Oz who is due to have her baby in April.

16.  Keep practicing my FMQ, doing my weekly homework with Cindy at Fluffy Sheep Quilting

17.  Learn a little more about Blogger and update my blog with a new look.  

Do you think that's enough?  Bear in mind that winters here are fairly harsh, and when there's 3 foot of snow outside, or it's minus 15 degrees, there's not much opportunity for outside activities.  Dog walking is carried out at speed, but with care.   Bike rides are only for the hardy.  And gardening is none existant.  So hopefully, I should be able to achieve a fair amount.  We'll see. 

Sitting here in October, with winter just around the corner, I really look forward to March when we can review what we have managed to do.  It will also be the beginning of a new year in the garden.  We are just in the process of shutting the garden down for the year, but before we know where we are, it'll all be kicking off again.  

Here's to a good winter for us all


22 October 2011

Numpty alert, numpty alert

Oh partner, I was sooo pleased with how your table runner was coming along.   I've done a paper pieced border, and wonky starts, and the top is now finished, ready for some appliqued baubles.

I'm so proud of that border.  It took ages drawing it up, then making it and even though I say so myself, it's pretty much perfect.    And now it's got to come off - all of it.  I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier, or why I did think of it at 6 am today, but I never thought to check if the fabric is colour-fast.  The fabric from America is reliably colour fast, and I've become a little lazy about checking it.  But this is Czech fabric, and that's not so reliable.  Guess what - it leaks out red dye like, erm well like,  red dye leaking out of a piece of red fabric!.   At first I put a scrap in some boiling water straight from the kettle, but thought perhaps I wasn't giving it a fair chance as not many of us wash at 100 degrees. So I tried some at 40 degrees and it unfortunately it still ran.  So tomorrow it comes apart, and I will have to rethink the border.  Not sure if I have the strength of character to do it all over again.   And I have no other red fabric, so it's going to have to be green, or dotty, or something similar.

Going off to sulk now!

21 October 2011

Free Motion Quilting Friday - Part 3

Crumbs, it's friday already, and time to show n tell how we've got on in our latest FMQ practice.  This week's slate tiles was probably a bit easier than other weeks as it's more geometric than freehand.   I have had terrible trouble previous weeks getting the initial outline of the block anything like straight.  However this weeks was almost perfect - then I realised I'd still got the walking foot on, not the FMQ foot!   I think I could have finished the whole thing like that, but I suppose that's cheating a bit!

So here it is

Can you see that perfectly formed outer frame!   I got to the end of the first row, and the bobbin ran out.  Once I'd changed it, the tension went haywire.  This is annoying as my fancy machine is suppose to self tension.  But it needed re-threading top and bottom and then it went back to being OK again.  So the next row is rubbish.  But then I sort of got into my strike and I suppose, all in all it's not too bad.  However, I do have to concentrate, and if I start mentally patting myself on the back, well that's when I lose it!

Whilst I'd got the FMQ foot on, I thought I'd have a quick practice for some quilting I want to do on my Christmas table runner swap.   I want to quilt around each of the baubles, before I do some all over quilting.   Well that was Plan A , and I think I need a plan B

The first one, top right was with the FMQ foot - not exactly round is it?   Second one, top left was done with the walking foot instead.  Still no good,   The third one was also done with the walking foot on very slow.   This is still wobbly, and I don't want to ruin the table runner with crappola quilting!   So I don't know what to do now.   I could try hand quilting with perle, but I've not much good at hand quilting either.  Any ideas?

And have you seen what FMW pattern we have to do next week?    Again I think I could do this better with the walking foot! Please, pop over here and check out all the other brave bloggers

20 October 2011

Die, bunting, die

This is a strange title I know, but as I was browing a few blogs today, as you do, I came across quite a lot of bunting.


From Violet WHite

From crochet with Raymond

bunting necklace
A bunting necklace even

I really liked bunting - I don't have any, save a few Christmassy owls, because I really can't see Gordon putting up with it.   It's been the "in thing" for a while now, but I am beginning to wonder if it's been done to death.   Is it no longer trendy because everyone has it?   Is it getting to be a little twee?   Do we need to move on, and if so, what will replace it?  What do you think about bunting?

19 October 2011

Further to winter draws on

This post is not such much for you, dear reader, but for me, so that I can record when the first frosts arrived this year.  This will stop the arguments, well, shall we say disagreements, that always happen when we come to remark on the first frosts next year.   "Well, it was in early October last" - "no it wasn't it was early November"  etc etc.   No arguments this time

This was Saturday 15th October.  I may need witnesses.

I will of course do the same for the first snow of the year, as that always causes disagreements too!

18 October 2011

What a day

Today was a first for me - the first time I have had a tooth drilled and filled WITHOUT ANAESTHIC! Yes, it's true.  But before you think I'm super woman, I will add that this was the final stage of a root canal filling (Gosh, I've heard that so many times on American telly programmes, but never thought I'd get to say it myself!) and the tooth no longer has any nerves, and so, no feeling.   But it was wrong, totally wrong in every way.   I was waiting for the pain to hit me and for me to hit the ceiling.  But it didn't.    Just  a bit when he drilled right up into the top of my head to fit the post.   So do I get my brave little soldier badge?

Then I drove Gordie to the airport in Vienna - always a bit stressful, but no wrong turns today!

And now I have 2 days with no responsibilities, other than walking the dogs, and feeding all of us.  So this afternoon I've tried to make some progress on my Modern Christmas Table Runner.   I'm trying to use this as a reason to push myself to do things outside my comfort zone.

So we have the borders

Paper pieced, no less.  I've got this sussed now.  All you have to do is, before you start, remove your head and re-fit it upside-down and back-to-front.   It's easy peasy then.  

Here's one I made earlier

I was quite slow at first - one side of 4 points took me a whole rugby world cup semi final.   I speeded up and one longer side took me a rugby world cup semi-final plus a bit more.  Then I ran out of world cup semi-finals, so I'm not sure how long the other two sides took.   I was getting on really well, but pride comes before a fall.  On the last side I managed to iron the sellotape holding the paper pieces together, I sewed one piece on  upside down, m cut through the paper template and cut through the main piece when trying to trim the excess!  But it's finished now thank goodness.  I will try paper piecing again, but it will have to be a bit more challenging than just a row of points, repeated endlessly.  It got very boring.

I've also tried out a bit of applique, which also went quite well.

This is the first try on some ugly fabric!

Actually the ugly fabric worked quite well,  but it is more orangey than it looks here, and orange doesn't figure in the table runner. I really like that embroidery though.  It would be even better if it was straight!

And another test piece using real fabric

But that thread needs to be a contrasting colour - maybe pale green?

Sorry about the threads. I was in  such a sweat to record my success, I clean forgot to make it look tidy.  Ah well, it's only practice.

So, I have a full day tomorrow which I can potentially devote to sewing.   You watch something come and rain on my parade!

17 October 2011

Holiday, holiday, holiday time

Woo hoo.  I'm soooo excited.  We have a week in Egypt booked in November.  A friend here in  Czech once said to me, why have a holiday in summer when the weather here on summer is so nice, book something in Winter.  A good idea we thought, so last year we had a week in Sharm el Sheik, (or Sharm el Shark as it came to be known when someone was eaten by a shark there the week after we were there!) 

Un-beknowns to me, Gordon's sister and husband had booked too, and were there at the hotel waiting for us when we arrived.   We had a great time with them, so this year we asked them if they were interested in joining us.  But her husband, who is Welsh (but we don't hold that against him!) was hoping to ge to New Zealand to watch Wales in the Rugby World Cup Final.   Unfortunately, that dream came to a sad end on Saturday, when Wales lost to France.   So they then said they'd like to join us in Egypt.  It's a bit late, and the only choice they had was through the company who booked our holiday.  That means they have to come over to us first, then we all travel from Vienna.  But it means they will be able to join us.

For many people, a holiday is chance to grab a little time together,  But for us, we are together all day every day.  We work together, and are fairly isolated here without family, or too many friends, so we very much rely on each other for company.  So a week with friends and/or family is a big plus for us.

So here's to swimming, relaxing, diving and drinking!

Woo hoo.  Can't wait.

16 October 2011

Sweet Potatoes

Hi.  Do you remember these little sputniks?

These are sweet potates which I set up in February in the hope that they would produce me some mini sweet potato plants.   Unfortunatley they were a bit dissapointing, as I only got two shoots. 

But I potted them up and they went out into the  garden in June, nesting in with the tomatoes, sharing their watering system.

Finally, this weekend, the time came to lift them, as the first frosts were forecast, and we had a curry planned.  And look what we got

We are so pleased with these.  In fact Gordon told our visitor that the curry was made using very special sweet potates.  Truthfully, I think they taste much the same as another when they are in a curry.  But that's not the real point.   It's just that we have managed to grow these ourselves.  From sputnik, to small shoot, to growing plant to tasty produce.  You really can't beat it!

My frend in England tried to grow some this year.  I must give her a call and see how she got on.