Archive for category Life in General

‘One Day I Will Get Organised’ Maybe – Probably Not and ‘No More Rescue Dogs’ Maybe – Probably Not

Occasionally I am inspired by my blogging friends who set themselves challenges and goals for the day, the week or even the whole year ahead.

But not for long.

This ‘to do’ list scrawled on a bit of torn out paper is about as organised as I get.

However, I have managed to work through some of those (although it is Thursday and I wrote it on Monday).  I’ve phoned my Mum and my friend Maureen although she isn’t crossed out yet.

I’ve booked a restaurant for lunch tomorrow with some friends.

The ‘Box’ entry is because the customer who ordered a little etui box like this ……..

…..liked it so much she wanted a sewing box in the same fabric.

I didn’t have enough blue bunnies so she settle on pink which I hope she will like.

I wanted to practise some freehand machine embroidery so I made her this card using a piece of the fabric from the interior of the sewing box.

The ‘crochet’ entry is because I’m running out of time to complete my two identical sections of Jane Crow’s ‘Sunshine and Showers’ crochet along before the next section is released.

So I’ve managed one and now have to do an identical one.

The lurid greenish colour in the background is a yoga mat.  Obviously!

I’m worried about wavy edges because there are so many different stitches and colour changes and I’m thinking I’m no expert yet so my tension may well wander so I’m blocking it as I go along – hence the yoga mat.

I  don’t think it’s too bad but I need to have a clean slate before next month’s section is released as some Ravelry users who did this last year say they almost gave up at that point.  Even the designer confesses it to being difficult but rewarding.  Ooer.  Stand by for a row of individual flowers on top of what I’ve already done.  Maybe.

I’ve crossed out ‘Collars’ but really I should leave them on there because, since tagging my Scottie Dog collars as Westies I have been inundated with orders from a French Westie fan club on Facebook.  I know they are a little square jawed for Westies but then most Scotties are black so I consider it to be a generic design.

Talking of dogs, mine are driving me to distraction at the moment.  As happened last year, they graze like cattle on the fallen plums and figs in the garden and, also like cattle, deposit the results in great pancakes.  Then they scent our evenings with their gaseous offerings.  I’ve tried clearing up the fruit as it falls but we have so many trees that it’s a virtually impossible task and the slightest breeze (or dog nudging at the lower branches) releases another load.

It’s just as well really because, knowing my love of German Shepherd type dogs my friend sent me this photo of a pup that has recently arrived at the dog rescue.

Then, when I foolishly investigated further, I saw this handsome fella

I’ve also heard, separately, of two young Pyreneen Mountain dogs who need a new home.  Mr. T says it must be a sign but he’s not here all the time so I’m just going to go out in the garden and shovel up some more fallen fruit – both undigested and digested – to remind me that three dogs is already plenty.

I haven’t forgotten the  ‘hatboxes’ entry and must do something with the hatbox quilt blocks before the end of the month as that is supposed to be a monthly ‘challenge’.  See, I do try.

The ‘Conservatory’ entry is sort of housework related so we won’t worry about that –  ‘after all, tomorrow is another day’

 

 

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In Case You Care About My Blog

We went on holiday – the first one on our own (longer than a weekend) since the girls were born.  We pleased ourselves what we did and when we did it.  The Mademoiselles (plus the boyfriend of one of them) were the guardians of home, dogs and cats and, astonishingly, the house was still standing and the animals still present and correct when we got back.

Remember the t-shirts, years ago,  that said ‘My Parents Went On Holiday and All They Bought Me Was This T-Shirt’ ?  Well, due to her father’s sense of humour, this is what Mlle T. the elder got for her trouble

She wasn’t amused when I texted her this photo from the apartment we were renting in Girona.  It didn’t help that the weather in France hadn’t been very good while we’d been away and she’d been looking forward to sunning herself by the pool.  She’s a sensitive soul  – but we gave it to her anyway.

We started off by going across the border into Andorra where, every year the Cirque du Soleil give free performances throughout the month of July.  No photos but I’m sure you’ve seen events on T.V. or been to one yourself so you know they are amazing spectacles peopled by incredibly bendy, muscular and (usually) tiny athletic types.

We then crossed over on to the Spanish side of the Pyrenees and proceeded on some very windy roads to a village called Bonansa and, yes, I kept humming the theme tune because I’m that old.

Around the village were several of these ermitages which are centuries old (those parts that haven’t been restored) and were used both defensively against invaders

and as places of sanctuary.

We then went further West into Aragon and to a magical medieval Moorish town called Alquezar which has labyrinthine old streets and is cut into a hillside surrounded by deep gorges.

Lots of people go canyoning but we contented ourselves with walking

of the slightly precarious kind

These walkways have been attached to the rock face so that, when the river below is in full ‘gush’, you can still walk through the gorge.  I had no trouble but Mr. T is very tall and had to almost bend double to get under some of the overhanging rocks.

When we reached the end, we saw one of the paths that had been closed and, if you zoom in (click twice), you can see why.

I was glad we’d already done a circuit otherwise it might have put me off.

Oh, and we also did lots of sitting around tlaking and eating.  I love it in Spain because they don’t even start dinner until around 8.30 whereas the French restaurants where I live are thinking about closing around about then.

From this vantage point we looked down into an olive grove where an old man tended his little herd of goats until late at night and the local feral cat population begged for food from the diners above.

This one nearly came home with us.

A face only a mother could love?

Then we continued on to Girona – very much back in Catalan country, with the flag of Catalonia hanging from many balconies – and spent the rest of the week there in an apartment in the old town and right on the riverside.

You know how I love to say ‘you can see our house from here’ – well, for three days I could say it every time we crossed the bridge.

We walked the old city walls for the views and to work off some of the excess eating (and drinking)

Quite a few scenes of ‘Game of Thrones’ were filmed here and (spoiler alert) one of the ice cream parlours make an ice cream in the shape of Jamie Lannister’s severed hand.

Here he is on the steps of the cathedral – I had a very nice Mojito at a café just at the foot of these steps although the people milling about on the steps looked a bit different when I was there.

I hope the cast didn’t need to use the loo too often though as this one is very high up on the old city wall  and just empties directly on to the street below

So, that’s the holiday snaps over with – sorry about that but it’s nice for me to have a record of our visit and my blog’s the best place for me to put it.  Back to normal i.e. sewing, crochet, knitting, patchwork, dogs and cats, next time.

On a side note, as it was my holiday reading so therefore a little bit pertinent, I read Daughters of the Dragon‘ by William Andrews.  Not your usual escapist holiday read but a very good fictional account (though based on historical facts) of the so called ‘comfort women’ taken from Korea as young as thirteen and used as sex slaves by the Japanese army in World War II.  Tortured and abused some of the survivors – women now in their seventies and eighties – are still asking for acknowledgement and some sort of repentance from the Japanese government who were aware of the provision of these ‘comfort stations’.  Shocking but also an interesting look into Korean history, the author was inspired to write the story by his Korean daughter and asks that readers spread the word by leaving reviews and mentioning it on social media in order to increase the awareness of the fate of these, often forgotten, women.  I’m happy to oblige.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fungus Folly

Today I spotted some unusual mushrooms in the garden

An unusual turquoise-y green colour I thought might be poisonous so I didn’t touch them.

It crossed my mind they might be birds’ eggs fallen out of a nest.

I was going to Google ‘small turquoise fungi’ after walking the dogs but on my way back down the hill from our walk I realised it wasn’t necessary.

Sometimes I worry.

 

Another ‘should’ve gone to Specsavers’ moment?

 

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Too Hot?

The U.K. is having a heatwave and, this time, it seems to be lasting longer than two days.

It’s hot here in my part of France too and in lots of places around the world so I thought I’d give you some alternative tips on keeping cool.

Try not to get angry if ‘somebody’ gets hold of your handmade leather tool roll and decides to re-shape it to their own design.

She was just a bit bored as everybody is too hot to play ball with her.

Let older and wiser ones teach you about the best places to keep cool – even if it means blocking the kitchen doorway.

Don’t bother with the weeding – you wouldn’t want to disturb those wild sweet peas would you?

Try to keep away from anything woolly even, or especially,  if wearing shorts –  it sticks to hot, bare skin :/

Take a dip if you can.  I should follow my own advice but the water has to be almost bath temperature before I venture in.

Don’t stress about it if you’re having a bad ear hair day.

Don’t bother cooking – let somebody else get hot and sweaty in the kitchen and admire their handiwork.  (BTW this was the most divine buffalo mozzarella I’ve ever tasted).

Don’t panic when it appears your husband might actually have become more dog than human based on his choice of starter.

Stay inside in the shuttered gloom and help write a blog post.

Don’t bother to do any housework  – although I would put that in a list of tips for almost anything.

Stay chilled and, of course, you already know to drink plenty of water and all that other much more sensible advice out there.

 

p.s. I’ve just realised there is a free game to play on this blog post called ‘Spot the Hidden Question Mark’.  There are absolutely no prizes at all.

 

 

 

 

 

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Out For A Ruby

I think I have said on this blog before that life is too short to stuff a mushroom but, evidently, it’s not too short to paint rose petals with egg white and dust them with sugar.

Why, I hear you ask, were you engaging in the sort of shenanigans usually only bothered with by celebrity chefs and contestants in baking competitions?  Because I was making a dessert for a Ruby Wedding celebration is my answer and I thought it appropriate to have red rose petals sprinkled artfully over and around said dessert.  Well – they were definitely red to start with but after a brush with the egg white they turned a pinker shade of red.  No matter – they were pretty anyway and I move even closer to my Domestic Goddess status .

Some friends of ours were celebrating 40 years of marriage – and look! they’re still laughing.

A mixture of French and Brits were present to help them celebrate and, of course, being a Ruby Wedding Anniversary, there had to be a Ruby Murray on offer.  Firstly because you can’t get a decent curry here for love nor money unless you make your own , secondly because we are Brits and we have to have curry occasionally in order to survive and what better excuse than when the name is in both titles?  For those not in the know a ‘Ruby Murray’ is cockney rhyming slang for a curry.

The occasion demanded another foray into my new passion for freehand machine embroidery.

Colin is a massive Chelsea Football fan and so I had to portray him wearing something with the crest on it and Jan has got a gorgeous mass of curly hair.  They are dog lovers and have a particular soft spot for golden retrievers which they generally find in re-homing centres and so they had to be in the picture too.  I must perfect my dog breed representation but you get the drift.  I was gratified to see that, despite not having seen my gift at that point, Colin had dressed to match it.

I had a bit of a scare because when I showed my French sewing buddy the embroidery last week she told me that a Ruby Wedding is not 40 years of marriage and, even though I would practically have signed away my house on the certainty that I was right, I did have to Google it when I got home and discovered that the French call it a Ruby Wedding at 35 years – trust them to be different 🙂

So, I didn’t have to undo any stitching and the French friends and neighbours present at the ‘do’ all happily went along with our quaint foreign ways anyway  – even sampling the curry!

Anyway, back to the rose petals which I used to adorn a fruit tart  – my contribution to the dessert table.   If I tell you it was an adaptation of a Nigella Lawson recipe it won’t surprise you to know that it probably didn’t do anybody’s cholesterol levels any favours.  Originally a black and white tart – using blackberries and whitecurrants – this was, once again, from her ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’ book which is now my go to bible for puddings/cakes and other wickedness having rediscovered it on my bookshelves recently.

I thought the raspberries would look like little rubies – well big ones actually –  if you had one that size in a ring or a couple in a pair of earrings you wouldn’t complain would you? **  

The digestive biscuit base was ‘enhanced’ by a spoonful of cocoa powder and the mascarpone filling was ‘further enhanced’ by some melted white chocolate, the remainder of which was grated on top (well, most of the remainder, some might have found its way elsewhere 😉 )  Anyway, I think it was good but, by the time I got up to the dessert table, it had all gone.

The dessert table – before

I should have nabbed a slice instead of taking photos 😦   Luckily, I have made it once before, without the cocoa and the white chocolate and I know that version was good and, as it so happens I have a photo of it too, albeit taken on my phone in artificial light.

I only paint rose petals on special occasions 😉

 

** I was reminded here of one of my favourite one-liners from Only Fools and Horses  where Del buys Grandad some strawberries and he complains they’re not very big to which Del replies ‘What do you mean they’re not very big? You wouldn’t want one of those up yer nose for a wart would yer?’

 

What do you mean they ain't 
                                          very big? You wouldn't like 
                                          one of those up yer nose for 
                                          a wart would ye

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A Bit of Tech Talk, A Quilting Capitulation, A Hatbox Hiatus and a Very Special Link

I have recently emerged from a 5 day internet blackout due to some twonk disconnecting our cable whilst connecting somebody else up.  It didn’t help that it happened the day before a public holiday which fell on a Thursday and, it being France, they like to take the Friday off as well so that they get a nice long weekend – a phenomenon I won’t comment on as I have to live here.   I would like to tell you that it was a refreshing change of pace for me and enabled me to catch up on projects and chores long forgotten but, in reality, it was a pain in the arse.  I had no fixed phone line on which to make international calls so couldn’t contact my Mum, husband or eldest daughter, no telly, no Spotify and, what was worse, no Google.  Mr. T had to cancel his flight home as he needed to have an internet connection on the Friday and I closed my Etsy shops in case anybody bought anything as I wouldn’t have known about it.  What about your mobile I hear you ask.  Well, I did eventually set up a hot spot to check my emails and so many came through – some with photos! – that I whizzed through my data allowance pretty quickly – well, I did stream a Netflix film through it too on Saturday night which might not have helped so now I am data-less until 22nd June.   However, it did make me think that I could pay to have a whopping amount of data and do away with the dreaded ‘livebox’ and reliance on the wobbly pole that holds all the cables over the road.  The only thing stopping me – I think, as I have to look into it a bit more – is the international calls which come free with our current tariff.  Does anybody exist with just their mobile/cell/portable – how is it for you?

Now, having bored you rigid with my decidedly non-tech tech-talk, on to the ‘quilting capitulation’ of the title .  Remember this quilt top that I had put together and even got as far as spray basting it with the batting and backing?

 I decided to machine quilt it by following the lines of the ‘braids’ across the width of the quilt.  I was soon disabused of this notion as the constant stopping and changing direction for the chevrons was making my layers shift  – which is actually a very good euphemism for how I was feeling.

So, I said ‘enough’ -or another couple of words that I won’t put into print – and decided to act on my previous deliberations and send it off to be professionally quilted.  I have never done this before but I thought I’d give it a try.  It has been done and, as we speak, being sent back to Mr. T.’s office in the U.K. and he will probably be able to bring it back with him next Thursday so I am waiting with excitement – and a little trepidation – to see how it has turned out.  I found the price for quilting very reasonable although, once the batting and backing materials were added on it gave me a jolt but then I would have had to have bought those in any case – it’s just seeing the cost all in one place.  Anyway, as soon as it has arrived and I have put the binding on I will let you know how it went.  I could have had the binding put on professionally too but I thought doing it myself would allow me to ‘reconnect’ with the quilt again which sounds really pretentious but you get my drift.

So, on to the ‘hatbox hiatus’.  It is the end of the month and Kate over at Tall Tales from Chiconia and I are still busy with our hatboxes.  Mine are all finished now as I only needed twelve for a wall hanging but Kate is making a full size quilt so is still constructing her boxes.  I now need to make decisions regarding sashing and backing.  Here are my blocks, just to remind you, and they are definitely not in their final layout due to the pesky but lovely deep gold and pink one which I’m finding hard to place but I’ll get there in the end.

The backing doesn’t really matter as you won’t see it – although I’ll know it’s there so I don’t want anything too nasty – but I’m not sure whether to use a plain colour for the sashing (which will only be about an inch/2.5cm wide) or something patterned.  These blocks are 12.5 inches square each so I don’t think I’ll put on a border as it might make too much of a statement on the bedroom wall and Mr. T. might complain.  Anyway, there it is at the end of May and, by the end of June, I should not only have made some decisions but acted on them too.

Speaking of Kate, I haven’t shown you better photos of my Walthamstow Market fabric haul yet but I will sneak this one in as it will be used to make a couple of blocks for the new quilt Kate will be assembling for auction in aid of Ovarian Cancer Australia.  You may know that the ribbon colour for Ovarian Cancer is teal blue and the quilts Kate makes primarily by her own efforts but also with donated blocks feature a lot of teal fabrics and the names she gives each quilt reflects her love of puns.  So far we’ve had ‘Time for Teal’ (which featured lots of teapots, cups and saucers) and  ‘Tealed with a Kiss’ (lots of crosses).  Anyway, the next one is called ‘Signed, Tealed, Delivered’ and will have a postcard, letter type theme.  So, look what I found.

I’m looking forward to paper piecing a few envelopes as I haven’t had much call to do FPP lately and I don’t want to get out of the habit as I was progressing nicely.

Remember I told you my daughter was going to Comic-Con London 2017 dressed as the above character  – who is called Link and is the main protagonist in a popular Nintendo game called ‘Legend of Zelda’.  (FYI Comic-Con is a multi genre fan convention mostly featuring comic books, science fiction, fantasy, art and design etc. and people often go in costume – the biggest one is in San Diego)

So here is my very ‘special Link’ .  She made her tunic and hat

her Dad make all the leather bits – straps, belt pouches, sword scabbard, arm protector thingy but not the boots which were from eBay.

and for any of my readers who are Doctor Who fans.

I wish now we’d done something about her ears when she was a baby 😉

 

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A Little Break and A Lot of Fabric

I’m sorry if I’ve fallen a bit behind with comments on your blogs for the past couple of weeks but I sort of went ‘off grid’ for a while which I am now paying for with mountains of emails to read through.

Guess where I’ve been?

Fish and chips on Brighton pier and a glass of Pimms – can it get more English than that?  I never eat the mushy peas though.

Mlle. Tialys the elder took the Friday off work and we spent a long weekend together.  In Brighton (see above), meeting up with an old friend (no photos of our Prosecco fuelled nostalgic ramblings) and a trip to Walthamstow Market which is right at the end of the Victoria line on the tube but Mlle. T. had heard rumours of good fabric to be had there so we made the pilgrimage.

I was slightly disappointed because although there were multitudinous fabric shops behind the market stalls, the vast majority of them carried sari fabric and the like which, though beautiful, isn’t what I usually buy to make my distinctly more conservative clothing.  However, Mlle. T. was looking for some sparkly stuff to make a ‘unicorn dress’ which she will be making to wear to a wedding where all the guests have been asked to wear costume.  Also, she needed some fabric that looks like chain mail to complete an outfit she is making to wear to this year’s Comic Con (a comic book convention where people wear costumes based on their favourite characters from comic books/fantasy/Dr. Who/manga/etc.  So, the sparkly, colourful fabrics were a treasure trove for her.

This is who she’s going as.  I’m hoping Security will let her in.

Haberdashery galore – all these beautiful fringes and trims were very cheap and I was dying to buy some but couldn’t bring a project to mind where I could use any – and I did try!!

Frankly, the rest of the stalls were mostly the usual market tat although the fruit and veg looked very good.

Despite these difficulties, we did manage to find a few bits and pieces.   I had to leave my fabric haul behind as I had travelled with cabin bag only and couldn’t fit it all in once I’d rampaged through Marks and Spencer’s lingerie department and stocked up on plain white t-shirts in Primani.  Mr. T. will, hopefully, remember to stuff his cabin bag with it all and bring it home with him tonight and then I’ll show you what I bought – none of it is sparkly, glittery or sequinned though as my days of dressing as a unicorn are now behind me.  I can’t walk in hooves any more.

Walthamstow Market is apparently the longest in Europe.   We took three hours to get down it and about 10 minutes to walk back.  We then collapsed into a café where we were the only English speakers so I really did feel like I was on holiday.

We could have gone into this traditional Pie and Mash shop to eat I suppose.  It has been granted Grade II listed status (see blue plaque to right of it) and dates from the 1920s with beautifully preserved decor inside.  Despite being a Londoner by birth and upbringing, I have never liked jellied eels or eels cooked in any other way or even the mention of eels and, even though I think the pies they serve now are made with minced beef, the aversion lingers and I’m not a big fan of mashed potatoes unless I make them myself and ensure that all trace of lumps are extinguished (school dinners anyone?) and I’m not sure about the green liquor either.  All in all, I was probably better of with a panini in the Polish café.

However, here is a photograph of the interior which, had I known was this beautiful, would at least have had a cup of tea in there or something.

On Monday Mlle. T. went back to work and I had a hygienist appointment (as such a profession doesn’t exist in France) and a bra fitting in M & S.  Nobody can say I don’t know how to enjoy myself.

Not only tempted by the bras and knickers, I bought myself some lunch in M & S to take back to the flat before setting off to my Mum’s to spend the night before returning, with her, to France.

This is a beetroot and feta wrap with a pea, edamame and avocado crush.

In case you were wondering.

Meanwhile, the garden furniture I’d ordered had arrived in France and Mr. T. sent me a photo of how it was being appreciated in my absence.

Mum’s visit is now over and I took her back to the airport yesterday afternoon so I’m catching up with ‘stuff’.  While she was here I abandoned the sewing and indulged my new crochet obsession – I have two blankets on the go at the moment but I’ll save that for the next post.

 

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Liberty Hatboxes

Even though the patchwork block swap I’ve been participating in hasn’t quite finished yet – there’s one month to go – I have actually made all the blocks I need to and I’ve already started getting withdrawal symptoms.  Kate and Sue who have run the F2F (Foot Square Freestyle) swap for the past two years, have decided they need a break from organising duties and as I am more of a participant than an organiser I didn’t offer to take it over so, sadly, when Claire receives her 24 blocks from 8 other quilters around the world by the end of February, that will be it.

I found that participating in the swap really motivated me to improve my work, try out some new techniques and get things finished on time

So, what to do next?

I searched around the web for other swaps but the few I managed to find  had either already started or didn’t appeal.

Kate has started making a quilt – unusually it will be for herself – from a book both she and I have had for years.

kaffe fasset passionate patchwork

We’ve both been in love with one particular quilt inside it – I even made the templates for it and one block back in the mists of time – but never got any further.

Hatbox Quilt

It’s rows of vintage hatboxes made to look as if they’ve been covered in wallpaper, as olden day people used to do, and each one set in the angle of a little cubby hole with a floor and two walls.  So, lots of design decisions to be made.

Kate has been busy with it for a few months now – you can see her progress here – and I decided I would join in with her and we would aim to make three blocks per month and publish them on our blogs at the end of the month.  This will be my motivation.

I am making a wall hanging for my bedroom rather than a quilt – there is an empty wall behind the bed and I thought this might go well there rather than a picture.  I don’t want it to dominate the room or anything so I’m not making it too large, just four blocks wide x three blocks high.  If I make three blocks per month, it should be ready to start putting together in May.

Each ‘cubby hole’ is constructed by joining two trapezoids, one reversed, plus an 8.5 inch square which is set in to the angle of the trapezoids.  Eek!  I was so pleased when I got it right first time and then realised my perfect seam would be covered up with the hatbox appliquéd on top – still, that’s patchwork for you.  Here’s a ‘blank’ just so you know I can do it.

Inset Seam

And here’s the block after the hatbox has been added.

libertyhatboxwallhangingno-2

I decided to use scraps for the backgrounds where possible and Liberty tana lawn for the hatboxes.  I realised too late that, because the tana lawn is so fine, you have to be careful what you put underneath it.  You can see the stripes of my ‘flooring’ vaguely show through but I thought it sort of looks like part of the design on the box so I’ve left it.

libertyhatboxwallhangingno-1

This one is a darker print so I got away with it here but, for the other blocks, I won’t use that particular striped fabric.  I am not usually an ‘appliqué person’ but Kate has got me trying several techniques I’ve either never done before or previously said I’d never do such as foundation paper piecing so here’s one more to add to the list.  I am using Bondaweb to attach the hatbox shapes and then using a turquoise thread and machine appliquéing on to the background.

This next one had to be re-done because I had used light coloured tana lawn for the hatbox and the ‘floor’ was showing through and making it look as if there was a shadow across the box.  I had to peel it off – a tragic waste of both Liberty and Bondaweb -and use a darker design. You live and learn.

libertyhatboxwallhangingno-3

I’m enjoying making these hatboxes but my workroom is a mess – strewn with fabrics over every surface as I audition them for ‘wallpaper’, ‘flooring’ , the hatboxes themselves and the bands.  Decisions, decisions……

I will finish by proudly announcing that I have managed to complete Dry January without a drop of alcohol passing my lips – apart from that used in cooking which doesn’t count because all the alcohol comes off as vapour (boo!) .  I never usually touch Pastis – the favourite aperitif of the French – because wine is my poison and the aniseedy alcoholic tipple makes me go woozy very quickly which is a feat in itself.  However, Ricard (the favoured brand of the French when imbibing their favourite aperitif) make a version called Pacific which has no alcohol, no sugar, no calories, no nuffink apart from quite a few E numbers but I haven’t looked them up to see whether they are dodgy ones.  As with the real stuff, you dilute it with 5 parts water but, unlike the real stuff, it is already a cloudy colour.

Non Alcoholic Pastis

This, and Bucklers non alcoholic beer (which is really Lager if you are British) , kept me on the straight and narrow when temptation threatened to overcome me.  I don’t know whether you can get it (or Bucklers)  outside of France but, if you can, and you are the designated driver or want an alcohol free evening for any other reason, I would recommend it.

 Salut!

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When January is the Cruellest Month

A bit of culture for you today – you can’t say my blog posts aren’t eclectic.

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

from The Wasteland, T.S. Eliot (1922)

Yes, yes, that’s all very well but it’s obvious that Mr. Eliot had never tried ‘Dry January’ because I can’t tell you how glad I will be when the 1st of February comes around and I can have a glass of wine.  Here are my own thoughts on which month has a lot to answer for –

 

January is the cruellest month, drinking

Water is dead boring, mixing

Syrup and lemonade, stirring

Dull concoctions without wine.

     from The Wagon, Tialys (2017)

 

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Just to be clear – I haven’t got a drink problem but I do like a glass of wine (or two) when I’m cooking the evening meal (and when I’m eating it) – but only at weekends, although I do count Friday as being the weekend.

I expect my liver will thank me but there are four weekends in January – one more to go! – and it has seemed like an incredibly long month.  Now I know how to slow down time.

Cheers!

 

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Christmas Cats, Woolly Hats and That’s That for Another Year

Despite having six cats and three dogs roaming around the place, we put up a large ‘real’ Christmas tree in one room and a smaller ‘artificial tree’ in another.  They survived – relatively unscathed – until the new kitten (don’t ask) discovered he could shin up the centre of the artificial one creating havoc and mayhem among any food and drink stuffed, semi-comatose humans in the vicinity who were then forced to move at an unwelcome rate in order to prevent bauble breakage on a massive scale.    I suppose he found it all very amusing as, once achieved, he repeated it ad nauseum until, last night, I got fed up and took it down.

Cat in Christmas Tree

Having mulled (and drunk) enough red wine not to want to count the empty bottles, I decided to get up off my arse while still possible and hike up a small mountainside with the dogs.  I made Mr. T. take a photo of me to show me wearing my hat that came in one of my Stitching Santa parcels.  Despite the dark glasses and luminous dog harness I am not registered blind – just saying as I suddenly realised it might look like that.  Stan’s harness actually says ‘Ball Junkie’ and not ‘Guide Dog’.

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Thanks to Sheila over at Sewchet who organised the Stitching Santa again this year, I received a lovely package from Pippa at Beads and Barnacles in the U.K. who got me as her sewing recipient.

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Ignore the clove stuck orange – she didn’t send me that – I was on the way to mull (yet more) wine when the photography urge came upon me.

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Pippa had made some very useful pouches and a bag for me to keep stuff in and even a length of bias binding she had made.  Can you spot the blue fabric in the middle?  I did take larger photos of it but the colour didn’t come out right so this is the best view of it.  It is boiled wool jersey which I have never used before.  Any tips or suggestions on what to make with it?  Pippa suggested a sweater.  I have 1.5m and it has a slight stretch to it.

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Also in the parcel was a useful pattern and one of her lovely knitted hats which I am modelling for you in the above dog walking picture just to prove to her that I will actually wear it – she seemed doubtful for some reason.

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As I’m a knitting person as well as a sewing one, I thought I’d go for the knitting Santa too and, just in the nick of time, a day or two before Christmas, my package from Anne in Australia arrived.

(There’s that orange again – don’t worry you won’t see it again as it is now saturated with spiced wine – a bit like me – at the bottom of the bin)

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Anne chose two lovely hanks of wool from Plant Craft Cottage in the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne where the yarn is hand dyed – these ones with eucalyptus leaves apparently – so I’m now looking for something to knit with them – there is 25g of each colour, it is 8 ply Australian wool, needle size 4mm and gauge 22st to 10cm.  Any ideas knitting friends?

Ceramic Buttons

Three beautiful ceramic buttons were in the package

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Plus a lovely pencil drawing of a shell from Anne who is a talented nature and botanic artist so I’m very happy to have a little example of her work.

I was chuffed to bits to receive all these generous gifts and thanks again to Sheila for organising us all.  Sign me up again for next year!!

There was another gift that wasn’t quite so successful.  A few days before Christmas I went out to lunch with a friend of mine and we browsed about in some shops for a while.  We went into a home décor shop where each section was themed by colour and, as we passed through the orange and yellow ‘retro’ section she said ‘I can’t stand those two colours – I wouldn’t have them in my house’

Which was a shame because this was what was in the gift bag I’d handed her to put under her tree when I picked her up at her house earlier.

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Oops!

A more successful gift was this satchel that Mr. Tialys made for a close friend of ours who spent Christmas Day with us this year.

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It is modelling for me on the bonnet/hood of her car as she was leaving the next morning with the bag stashed in her boot/trunk and I remembered I hadn’t recorded it for posterity and made her unpack it again.

So, that is that for another year.  I have made a couple of New Year’s resolutions but, after the disasters last year of my Firsty February (where I attempted not to drink any alcohol for a month and failed) and my Fabric Fast (which lasted 4 months instead of my pledged twelve) I will let you know what this year’s ones are if I actually manage to keep them and, if I don’t, nobody but me will be any the wiser.

Have a brilliant 2017 and I hope everything you wish for comes true.

 

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