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A winter wonderland and a bit of crafty pottering

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

 

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It snowed quite a bit overnight and we woke to a winter wonderland here on the hill. Unfortunately we had overslept so I just had time to snatch this photo before I whizzed off to the airport to put my husband on a flight to Asia….. I’m still managing to appreciate the little things in life and this beautiful morning was certainly worth taking pleasure in. The photo doesn’t really do justice to the hint of pink in the sky, but believe me, it was breathtaking!

Last week we found out that daughter no. 1, who is studying in Zürich, has finally found an apartment and will be moving out in the next month. She currently has a truly horrible commute (up to 3 hours a day) and a very heavy lecture load – and let’s face it, living at home with mom and dad isn’t really what being a student is all about. I’ll miss her a lot, but she’s ready to fly and I’m not going to get in her way.

What’s a mother to do?

Make a rag rug for her to use in her new bathroom – that’s what….

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So this afternoon I’m happily chopping my way through a big pile of ancient ugly fabrics – and so far so good – it’s the best way I know to use up lots of old stash and as if by magic the ugly fabrics (and believe me, this lot are really bad!) are transformed into something lovely…and useful to boot!

Just to cement my high achiever status I finished piecing a lap quilt using charm squares and a jelly roll of Moda’s Winter’s Lane. This is fabric from last year or the year before and there’s something about it that really makes me think of my Japan trip last January….

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If anyone out there is sitting on a nice piece of Winter’s Lane yardage that they would like to sell me to back this with, please do let me know!

So that’s all for now. I have a decadent week ahead of me, with the motto ‘the cat’s away so the mouse will play’ – I think I’m out having fun every night this week….what’s the world coming too? By next weekend I will be a walking zombie!

Best wishes to all,

Helen

 

A new year starts

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

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Happy new year everyone! I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and have made as we say here ‘en guete Rutsch’ (literally: a good slide).

It’s a beautiful day here – clear blue skies and wonderful snow, so as was to be expected, we have hit the slopes. I am just starting to feel the first inklings of slowing down…..I’m not racing down the piste anymore (too many broken bones in the past) and now it’s more a case of getting myself safely down the (not too scary) slopes and admiring the scenery. Notably we are near to being the oldest in the gondola on the way up….just when did that happen?

During my gentle skiing and waiting in line for lifts today I have been pondering the year ahead. Invariably I come up with the same new year’s resolutions as every year: lose weight, get fitter, live a simpler life….the first two are even more necessary than usual as the beta blockers I now take to counteract my migraines (very successfully) seem to have slowed my metabolism as well as making running a big headache and the pounds have piled on….(did I mention I felt like an overstuffed sausage in my bright tomato ski suit – which I only bought in September….?)

I’m planning to create more, sleep more, blog more and focus more, which all adds up to living more and doing more of the things that make me happy. Life is there to be lived….I could do with a few more hours in the day and I’m going to find some of them by stopping working overtime at work (which isn’t paid anyway) and also using my lunch hour to go to a gym and do some exercise…

My biggest aim for the year though is to get my almost 88 year old mother moved into sheltered accommodation in England. She’s finally showed willingness to go and that is going to be a huge task and a not inconsiderable logistical headache…but I’ll take one day at a time and see where we get.

So watch this space in the year ahead….maybe I’ll do better with the resolutions this year than I have in the past!

Have a good one!

Helen

Stitch Tease 2

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

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I won the battle with the Bernina.

Although I did have to change the top thread before I went completely mental. The machine clearly didn’t like the thread I was trying to use for quilting – a very old Madeira rayon thread which I’ve used before and got away with and which I’m still determined to use up somehow (as I have about another 100 spools of it from a thread-selling venture in another life many moons ago…..) . Anyway, switching the top thread to a cotton one for the last third meant that I could finish the quilting without finishing off my sanity.

So here she is in all her glory..my second Stitch Tease quilt.

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There were sizing issues with the blocks, which I remedies as best I could, but which mean there are some slightly chopped off points, but a blind man wouldn’t notice from a hundred yards so I’m not getting worked up about them either. I’m really pleased with how this turned out – it’s such a bright and happy quilt – and many thanks to the Stitch Tease girls for their lovely blocks!

I love finishing quilts – this one more than most because just in time it means that my fabric use for this year is a whole 6 yards more than my fabric purchases – I’m polishing my halo!!!

Helen

Chasing my tail and swearing at my Bernina

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

I can’t believe how long it is since I last blogged…the time has run away with me again. I’ve had lots of good intentions, but somehow they have come to nothing or at best not very much at all…..

Of course ten days in bed will throw the best organized of us out of the window. When I went back for a check up a week after I had staggered back to work, the part-time doctor (who lives down the road) and who I would classify as a very sound young woman informed me that what I had actually experienced was asthmatic bronchitis, no doubt precipitated by the beta blockers that I take to (very effectively) control my migraines. Had my GP given me an inhaler I would have been a whole lot better off. This is somewhat concerning because a) it’s likely to happen again and b) I actually asked my GP if there could be a link and he pooh-poohed the suggestion. One more reason to look for a new doctor (he’s a very nice man but is definitely past his use by date and should retire…..)

Anyway, since then I have been rushing around like a scalded cat trying to catch up at work and at home. This wasn’t made easier by a business trip to the UK, which was combined with a trip to visit my mother. The latter made me realize that it is really time to sort out some form of assisted living (she’s almost 88 and lives alone, no relatives in the country and more worryingly, no friends popping in and out. Actually no friends at all). The current situation just will not do. Next problem: how to convince her…although I think some progress has been made. This is helped by the fact that the facility I am looking at has flats which are both nicer than the house she is living in now, and are also in a better area.

So I guess more trips to England are on the cards…not to mention a huge house clearance logistical exercise. My mother hasn’t thrown anything away in the last 40 years….we were actually fighting over catalogues from the 80′s and 90′s which she didn’t want to throw away because she keeps them for reference….

Enough…onwards and upwards….that is a project for 2015. I’m not getting in a tizzy about it quite yet.

Which brings me on to my next point (and all the bad language).

You remember that a couple of years ago I lashed out in a moment of madness and extravagance (and to put it mildly, extreme stupidity) and bought myself a Bernina 820 – the machine to fulfill every quilters dreams…

Except that it is the most dreadful load of scrap iron in the history of the universe. This machine should be able to do anything. In fact if it has a good day it is really very nice and with its favorite threads it is a dream to do machine quilting with.

Today however I am spitting blood (and using rude words). I’m quilting my second Stitch Tease quilt. Well, actually I will rephrase that and say that I’m unpicking, re-threading, reading the (useless) manual, searching the (useless) help sites…and getting nowhere fast.

How is it possible to half quilt a quilt with no problems and then the machine decides it doesn’t like the thread, the needle, the tension? It is SO infuriating – I can’t possible change the quilting thread when I’m two thirds done and the dratted thing WILL NOT CO-OPERATE. I have cleaned it, cajoled it, stroked it, rethreaded…you name it…and the dratted thing won’t work. I can sew for 3 inches and then the thread breaks…..

And the wretched machine is attached to it’s special table, weighs the same as half an elephant and I can’t get it looked at before Christmas…..AAAARRRRGGGHHHHH!

And I so wanted to get this quilt done this year so that for once my fabric use would have been more than what I’ve bought this year.

It seems it was not to be.

Send positive vibes.

I may throw this machine out of the window.

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T BUY YOURSELF ONE FOR CHRISTMAS!

Helen

There’s always a silver lining……

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

This week has been a bit grim. I’ve basically been in bed feeling lousy and battling bronchitis – that was a new one on me and it rather knocked me for six. To those of you who suffer regularly, or even occasionally with bronchitis, my condolences – it’s really not a nice experience. Anyway this week was one of this weeks where there was nothing for it but to take to my bed and stay there and let myself be driven to the doctor’s by my husband (who must have been concerned to have taken the morning off work), sleep, drink tea, try hard to breathe….

It was also the perfect time to prop myself up and watch small doses of the boxed sets that I never had time to watch before. So this week was ‘The Killing’ in Danish (please don’t tell me who did it, I still have a good long way to go!) accompanied by a little sporadic sock knitting, but of a very plain vanilla nature because I had to be able to knit without looking so I could read the sub-titles (my Danish not being up to much – although I can pick out the odd word or phrase that is closely related to German). That was the nicest part of being sick and just being quiet and cosy at home with Pablo the cat curled up at the bottom of the bed.

I had rather forgotten how nice just being at home is. Since I went back to work my life has been at fever pitch and my days off are generally pretty planned out with appointments, jobs and seeing friends, so doing nothing has been very nice indeed. It would have been nicer if I hadn’t felt lousy of course, but then you never get everything in life, do you?

I had also been meaning to show you this for a while…… (apologies for the darkness of the photo – we have descended into the foggy November gloom where sunshine and good daylight are hard to find)….

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This is my the finished quilt from my first ever bee – Stitch Tease. I put the final stitches into the binding at the weekend. It’s taken years to finish. I really don’t know why – dithering over a border is up there, but finished it now is and I’m really happy with it. It’s so full of memories and friendships. Stitch Tease is a wonderful bee – still going, but sadly without me – and I made some lovely friendships and have met almost everybody who was involved in it from the start – Di and Di and Annabella and Susan and Katy and Hadley. I never did meet Danny, but maybe one day our paths will cross!

So that’s it then, back to the socks…or perhaps I’ll just have a little nap.

Life is good between the coughing!

Helen