Sunday, 27 December 2009

Oh My.....

It's over already? :-(

I hope you all had a great Christmas.
Thank goodness Lanky Boy and Chic Girl aren't small anymore and no longer wake up at 5.30 on Christmas morning eager to see what Father Christmas has put in their stockings. They rise at a far more civilised hour now and it's more likely that I am up before them!While we were all eagerly waiting for my parents to arrive, Himself and Lanky Boy tried heating the milk in the microwave for our coffee only to find it wouldn't work:-( Arrgghhh, don't these things pick their moments? So they had to heat the milk the 'old fashioned' way. After Christmas I did a little online searching and it seems the Magnatron has broken and it will cost about £150 to buy a new one for our Neff model - and that doesn't include fitting. Well good grief, I just know a new microwave will not cost anywhere near that amount. Seems it's far cheaper to buy a new one (but, made in China) than it is to fix the old (UK made) one. What a shame, but since the new one (from Tesco) was £39.99 - it just doesn't make sense to spend four times as much - especially since we only use it for heating milk, making porridge and starting off jacket potatoes.

Christmas Day is my Papa's birthday and this year was a special one, so he had Happy Birthday candles to blow out.

Himself cooks our Christmas dinner - roast goose, roasted vegetables, still crunchy sprouts (yum) and broccolli, two stuffings (which I made) and other bits and bobs. Everything was just cooked to perfection and we stuffed ourselves, much like the rest of the UK does!

Chocolates..... so many chocolates......

Reliving my youth with this triple CDsome excellent songs, but oooh, I didn't half listen to some rubbish too! Scarily enough I knew the words to almost everything.

Himself bought me just the camera I wanted but in a fabulous red colour. I've had great fun with it already.
These pretty fabrics folded to look like a tree came from P. Ack, I'm torn between wanting to open up the fabrics and keeping the tree - ooh the dilemma:
Karol-Ann sent me these lovely gel pens and a useful covered notebook last monthand also very kindly made me a cosmetic bag, which I am using as a swish camera case instead:
the camera, battery and memory cards all fit in it nicely and it's so much prettier than my old camera's case and padded too.
These came from Wah:
One of my gifts from The Chic Girl and The Whizz Kid was this book with exquisite illustrations:

So many gorgeous gifts, thank you to everyone, you are very kind.
When it was getting dark, we all donned boots, coats and gloves and gingerly set off down the icy footpath in front of our house to the field, where the plan was to light a whole load of sky Lanterns, however we decided it must have been a little too windy and probably too cold, as they were reluctant to catch fire properly, so we only lit three of them, before going back indoors: Sorry the picture is so rubbish - didn't put my new camera to the right setting - Oops! But you can just about make out The Whizz Kid in the inky blackness of the freezing countryside, him and Lanky boy having just launched the second lantern. Lanky boy is even further down the field. If you have good eyesight, you might just about see the dot of an orange glow of the first one to the left. It isn't it half dark in the country without any street lamps!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Going to the flicks....

We have just returned from the cinema where we saw 'Avatar' in 3D.
Wow - what a film. Fab-u-lous. It's a real visual feast (OK, am going to commit possible heresy here) It was visually, as good as, if not better than the LOTR films and boy did I love all the intricate detail in those films. Roll on the DVD! If you get a chance to see Avatar, please do try. Oh and I strongly recommend you see it in 3D too, even if it means not going to your normal cinema coz they don't show any 3D films there grrrrr. I thought the story was good and although the film was long - there was so much to look at, I didn't even sneak a look at my watch at any point, I was too enthralled. If you saw Fern Gully (which I only really remember for the lovely flora and fauna) it had a similar feel, but more (ha ha ha) 'realistic' looking.

It was raining when we arrived and continued to rain while we were in the cinema, so when we came out, all the snow had gone, however driving nearer and nearer to our village, it became clear that the rain didn't get over to us - as all the snow was still all around with the roads very glittery, which means they would be getting icy overnight. Not good.

Here is a shot of our tree this year before the presents went underneath (only so I could show off about the tree skirt!) I went for a white colour scheme (again) with a touch of blue/turquoise this time. White decorations have been easy to find this year. Although since I already had a good selection, I didn't need any more, but trying to find a few more pale blue or turquoise ones has been impossible.

I also finished the two little cushions I have been making I am loving the quilting design so it's going to be hard parting with them. Blast, I have accidentally just deleted the photo of the other cushion, so cannot show a picture of that one. I'll take another photo tomorrow and upload it then.
Edit: Whoops - I've wrapped and given the other cushion away without taking a photo.

Monday, 21 December 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Well, with all the snow everywhere we woke up to this morning it's more like the Hollywood version than the usual grey damp version that they never sing about. I do realise that our couple of inches looks rather pathetic compared to elswhere in the country, but I still think it looks pretty. One of the downsides of living on top of a hill and on a private and unmade (North facing) road, is that it gets extremly icy and because the houses cause big shadows, the sun however weak doesn't get to melt the ice or snow. So the road is treacherous. Fortunatly I don't need to go out in it at all if I don't want to, so apart from picking up a beast to roast, we have everything here (Ido love, love, love my huge American fridge).

We were due to visit my MIL in Norwich, but that has now been delayed until next week when hopefully things will not look so white outside.Himself volunteered to salt and sweep all our paths and steps on the promise of croissants and coffee afterwards (he's sooo easy to bribe). I think he was a little worried about our lovely postie going A. over T. on our front steps.I put up all the decorations yesterday - phew, I don't know why on earth I think it'll only take an hour or two, when every year it takes virtually all blimmin' day. Of course, Himself suggesting us 'nipping out' to Dobbies for a 'spot of lunch' was always going to hold up proceedings. And another Father Christmas just jumped into our basket and came home with us. Not this one below, he's been around for a while I suggested a pair of flashing Reindeer headbands for each of us to wear to greet our guests on Christmas day, but the from the withering look I got in reply, I guessed the answer was no - he's no fun.

This little Christmas scene serves two purposes - 1) it looks quite pretty and 2) it hides a multitude of sins underneath a linen sheet!I think it looks especially nice when it's all lit up.
Oh dear - this photo is really blurry - the anti wobble setting on my camera seems to have stopped working.

Going to put a note in my diary now to set aside a whole day for decorating next year. Leaving things so late meant I didn't like the look of any of the scrappy looking fresh trees and although Himself suggested getting a new artificial tree (because of course they were all reduced) we couldn't agree on which one we liked best, so came away with no tree! Still, compared to many of the rather sparse looking new artificial trees we saw in both Homebase and B&Q, our (expensive at the time) twenty year old tree from Williams and Griffin department store in Colchester still looks pretty good, so it'll do nicely for another year. I wonder which is the 'greener' option? Keeping a good quality fake tree for two decades plus or buying a new real tree each year, and then having to cart it off to the tree re-cycling depot in January (although you can then also buy sacks of tree* mulch for the garden at the same time). Hmm, I honestly don't know.....

* I wonder if the pine chippings would make our very chalky soil slightly more acidic or at least veering towards 'neutral'.....
I made these Father Christmases a few years ago - they stand up on their own and are weighted with rice

Didn't pick any holly or ivy yesterday, figuring I'd wait until Wednesday or Thursday to keep it fresh in the central heating. Ack, that may have been a bad idea.Wow, LED lights do not photograph well at all on the auto setting......

Himself has come over all hunter gatherer and ventured out, to get his hair cut and get the goose for Friday, then phoned me to find out if there was anything else I wanted while he was out! Tch,was he thinking I'd suddenly come over all domestic goddess and found I need half a dozen things as I was baking while he was out? Pfff, as if! If he's lucky Chic Girl will bake a dozen mince pies for him (now she is a domestic goddess in the kitchen.) I've done some sewing, checked my e-mails and sat reading other peoples blogs with a bag of Kettle Chips - No added salt crisps and a cup of chai - all I need now is to grab a couple of Mr Kiplings - Frosty Fancies and my afternoon will be perfect:-) I feel so sorry for anyone who has to venture out against their will. I'm using up the taking the last of my annual leave, I don't have to go back to work until 6th January, nice.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

No tree yet, but I got the skirt.....

Tada! I've finished the tree skirt. I love the colours, the quilting, the ric rac and the shape. Shame it's going to be too big, never mind, it'll do.

I embroidered these cream on cream Christmas doves earlier in the year, using some of my vintage Irish linen (washed many times) I've just added some borders and going to have some fun quilting them and make them into small cushions.

Also thinking about making a hottie cover - Coz, boy do my feet get cold. I'd better get a move on eh, it's freezing out there.

Look who I found pottering around the landing windowsill this morning - a two spot ladybirdhe was heading towards this guysilly boy, he'll get very lonely, snowmen are not known for their social skills. Two spot is now with all of his other mates in the wardrobe.

Never did hear back from the ladybird experts - don't know what to do, we are pretty sure there are quite a few large Harlequin ladybirds mixed in with the smaller natives - ack, do we pick 'em out and commit Harlequin genocide?

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Julian, Julian, Julian.....

said a disappointed Chief thief to one of the other thirty nine thieves on Saturday evening when Himself, Chic Girl, the Whizz Kid and the Whizz Kids Mama and I, all went to the Tobacco Factory Theatre in Bristol. We went to see Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.
Now the Tobacco Factory is a very small theatre so I was intrigued as to how they were going to get all these people on the small stage. I needn't have worried. The whole play consisted of three men and two women who were the entire cast. The rest of the 'thieves' were Action Men and Barbie dolls strapped in grenade holders around the three or four actors who played the rest of the robber band. I know it sounds weird but although they had very few props, the few that they had were used so imaginatively it completly worked. It was everything a good show should be. Another most entertaining Christmas show for children and adults alike. During the interval we noticed the bar seating area was decorated with metres of sparkly lace fabric draped across the ceiling with some beautiful middle eastern lanterns hanging here and there, forty individually decorated faces were festooned across the walls, so clearly there had been a childrens workshop at some stage and their splendid efforts were displayed for us all to see.

We have been to see a few productions at this theatre and we've really enjoyed every single one. The Tobacco Factory has an intimate friendly atmosphere, where you don't book any seats as such, you just buy your tickets and then choose where to sit when you get there. It's a nice relaxed way of doing things. The stage is a square in the middle of the room with tiered seats on all four sides, so everyone can hear everything and get a really good view of the action. Sometimes that action can get very close as we found when we sat on the front row for a production of Hamlet last April, Whizz Kid and I had a huge sword thrust inches away from us during a fight scene - very exciting stuff.

If you live anywhere near travelling distance to Bristol, you might like to consider going to one of their shows (they do two Shakespeare productions each year). I'm looking forward to the next show already.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Christmas tree skirt, nearly finished

I got the original idea for my tree skirt from the Moda Bakehouse blogbut I needed mine to be much bigger - which is why my maths is all over the place (that and the fact that I'm just rubbish at it). As it turns out, now the skirt too big, plus I don't like the way that the stripes have worked out....
I've really enjoyed quilting this though. Started out with doing a squiggle design on the first white stripe, then stopped myself and thought I might as well practice those free hand feathers again - I'm loving the design. So I chopped off the outer stripe and made it part of the outside edge binding. Just the ties and binding the 'neck' to do and then it's finished. Just as well our decorations aren't up yet.

Here there and everywhere....

I wonder what the collective noun for a group of Father Christmas' is/are?I've been collecting these boys for a few years - just buying one or two each year.
They do like to nestle themselves in amongst the other bit's 'n' pieces......Yes that is a Father Christmas from Hawaii - Hey if you can't have a bit of tat at Christmas, when can you?

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Can you guess what it is yet?

It's me making a mess of maths is what it is! Tch and sadly not for the first time either.....

I do wish I wasn't so arithmetically challenged... My Mama says my writing isn't that hot either, but we will gloss over that for the moment.

It should have worked - I wrote it all down, used the calculator an' everything.... But still I need to make more strips..... Doh. I was hoping to get this at least quilted this afternoon.Never mind, it'll have to wait until Thursday now because I'm at work tomorrow.

In the meanwhile you might like to feast your eyes on the goodies on this extraordinary website Chic Girl found..... As she says: "just goes to show: more is....err..... more...."
Mmmm. Indeed it is.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Dear Father Christmas.......

Ummm, I have been a fairly good girl this year......
So, you know that this SLR digital camera is on my wish list?
The thing is, I might have changed my mind....

After trying out a similar SLR with the lens extended, taking a few pics and chatting to the lovely G, who is it's current owner. I've realised that it's just too heavy and with all of it's bulk, I will not 'pop' it into my bag and carry it around. So since I don't have some poor lackey to follow me around all day carrying my stuff. I'm thinking this cute little camera will suit me much better. So thank you to the lovely G for pointing me in the right direction and helping me/Himself to save a fortune by not buying the wrong camera. It was also the lovely G that suggested the Panasonic Lumix TZ7 would be a good one to get.
So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Father Christmas reads this blog!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

It's all over now

This year BQL members have been making perpetual calender quilts. Here are mine:
January: Each month is a new little quilt.
February: Hopefully showing someone who is particpating a new quilting skill or a different way of doing a block.
March: If nothing else it's great looking at all the colour combinations and variations in arrangements.

I have enjoyed designing the blocks.
May: I have enjoyed writing each little tutorial.
June: I have greatly enjoyed looking at the photos that everyone has uploaded.
July: What I have not enjoyed is all the other stuff that goes with it.
August: So next year I am taking a break - I think I have earned it.
September: Maybe later on next year I will be eager to design another challenge.
October: Next year I intend to concentrate on learning how to do more with my camera and Paint Shop Pro.
November: I also want to try and make some more quilts!