Monday, 31 December 2007

Happy New Year!

I can hardly believe we've reached the end of another year... and what a year! I'd been a secret blog reader for several months before I took the plunge in July and started this blog. Little did I know then what an amazing world it was opening up. I've "met" many new friends from all over the world, one or two even in person, which has been delightful. The support, encouragement, humour and wonderful sense of camaraderie has been amazing an it has been a truely enriching experience. So with that in mind I would like to say a huge thank you and to wish you all Fantastic New Year filled with health, happiness and creativity.

I'm following some wonderful advice from Christine Kane which I read about on Julie's blog yesterday, and I'm not even attampting any new year resolutions... or revolutions as we call them here... but I'm aiming for "Balance" as my new year word.
Got to go now... Coronation Chicken to feed twenty five to assemble! A few of us have got together and organised a party in our village hall - 100 people going so should be fun. I'll be back in 2008 when the hangover wears off! Meanwhile...

Thursday, 27 December 2007

That's it for another year!

I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. Amazingly all the presents got wrapped and food got cooked on time. In a moment of complete insanity I was inspired to make a gingerbread house. I blame Val entirely after reading about her lovely gingerbread house on her blog. It turned out fine and has now been largely demolished and eaten but a word of advice - of all the things you don't want to be doing on Christmas Eve, making a gingerbread house comes in top of the list! Especially when the icing bag splits half way through erecting a wall.

Despite the pressures of house building, we had a lovely Christmas Eve which started with a surprise in the post - this beautiful postcard from Lesley. You can't see the detail properly in the photograph - it is beautifully stitched and looks very festive up on the wall in my hallway. Thank you Lesley!

We then went to friends for lunchtime drinks where I had lots of cuddles with their baby daughter. The afternoon was spent at the Carol concert in the village church and then in the evening it was off to more friends for supper and drinks. Christmas Day was quiet and Stewart and I were at friends for lunch - Having cooked Christmas dinner here in November I managed to avoid cooking another turkey this week. Santa brought lots of lovely things for us all, including these goodies for me. I can't wait to try some of these recipes. I had two other cook books too but suspect my family might have ulterior motives!

An added surprise for Christmas was this layer of goodies in the hamper that we recently won. We checked the box at the time when we got it home but obviously hadn't dug deep enough as we thought it was a meagre layer of biscuits, tea bags etc. However we were using some of the packaging for something else when we discovered this hidden layer which included a bottle of champagne, a bottle of port and four bottles of wine... bonus! It does explain why the box was so heavy!

Yesterday was far from quiet, with all the family and friends back here and we ended up with fifteen for lunch plus two dogs! Lots of fun and laughter and a game of Charades. Needless to say today I've felt good for nothing and have spent a large part of the day flaked out on the sofa browsing through old newspapers and magazines. A fairly typical Christmas and as always I can't believe how quickly it has come and gone. Hope yours was special too!

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Happy Christmas!

It's been a manic few days of last minute food shopping, present wrapping and baking as I'm sure it has been for many people. I've finally finished the last sock creature of 2007 - Gordon the Goth who will appear in a certain son's Christmas stocking. (He better not be reading this!)

Kiss anyone???

I also had a compulsion to make some fudge - why when there are so many other things to finish I don't know. But it wasn't as tricky as I thought and I even managed to make it and package it up in secret, one for each family member.

Finally I would like to wish you and all your families
a wonderful and very
Happy Christmas

Back next week some time when I final emerge from the alcohol and food induced stupor!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Frost and Trees

There was such a wonderful heavy frost this morning that it looked as if it had snowed overnight. Perfect winter dog walking weather - very cold but crisp and fresh... and with no muddy paws!

I couldn't resist taking the camera out with me and took loads of photos but these are just a few of the best ones. The frost on this seed head looks like thorns it is so spikey!

These leaves were really pretty colours under the frosting but it doesn't show because I needed to use the flash which has taken the colour out. They're still pretty though.

I loved the contrast of the orange berries against the white branches. It was all so beautiful.

In fact, I was so captivated by it all and so engrossed in taking photos, not only did I lose all feeling in my fingers but I also lost the dog! He just made his own way home and was waiting for me at the back gate.

Last night we finally got our tree put up and decorated. It was met with some resistance -
"What? You really want to put it up tonight?"
"You sure?"
"If you insist"
I love the tradition of decorating the tree and taking out all the different decorations - some dating back many years - and remembering where they all came from. When the children were small they would all help and then I would move things around after they had gone to bed! Perhaps that's why they just leave it all to me now - what a terrible mother!

This year there are some very new decorations - my Dotee angel from Dot

And one from Julie

There are still some homemade ones that the children made when they were small

and homemade ones that I made when the children were small (this Santa is about 22 years old!)

And others that remind me of old friends. This is one of my favourites, given to us by some Texan friends many years ago.

And last of all my favourite fairy to go on the top. I suspect she is a bit of a floozy and is starting to look a bit worse for wear with a broken wing and shedding feathers but I still like her in her sparkly knitted dress! I think some repairs are in order before next year.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Fun, Frivolity and Flowers!

Another fun day with "Zigzag" and as promised - lots of photos! First of all these are the results of our Christmas ATC challenge, using metals and metal threads etc. The first two are from Judith and Ann.

The next two are from Lynda and Pat and I think they are probably my favourites!
I know I shouldn't have favourites but I think the colours with the burnished copper are gorgeous.

These are from Sandy and Bernice. The photograph doesn't really show how pretty Sandy's card is - very wintery and I love the humour in Bernice's card.

These are Lynne's and Joan's.

And finally mine, which you've already seen and Lesley's. It is pure coincidence but ours were very similar! I would have been very happy to have received any one of these cards in the swap as I think they are all gorgeous (actually I would have liked them all!) but was delighted to get Lesley's Christmas tree.

One of the other lovely things about a group like Zigzag is that the members often attend other classes and bring in things that they have made. A few of them had a lovely time recently on a course with Frances Pickering who makes the most stunning books and so here are two that have been made by Lesley...

And one from Pat.

Sandy had also made a book but I didn't manage to get a photo, however this is a bag she has made. She made a beautiful silk jacket for one of her City and Guilds projects and the bag matches the jacket which had the fabulous leaf motifs all down the front.

And from Joan, a beautiful panel of poppies made from layers of sheer fabrics, stitched and cut back. This was done on a day with Kathleen Laurel Sage. There were some more of these too that disappeared before I got my camera out!

Today's class was all about a bit of frivolity and we made flowers from painted Tyvek, wire and beads. These are everyone's efforts though I can't quite remember whose flower is whose! Some didn't want them photographed as they are not finished but I thought they all looked lovely!

Don't they look fab all grouped together!

We finished off the day with a wonderful lunch - all the members made a contribution - which included a glass of bubbly from Ann - very nice! We had quizzes from Lesley and Sandy and exchanged Secret Santa gifts. All in all a lovely day to round off 2007 with Zigzag. Looking forward to 2008 girls!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

A seasonal challenge

I knew I couldn't stay away! Have totally exhausted myself Christmas shopping today, I then came home to prepare for "Zigzag" tomorrow. As well as getting materials ready for the class I thought I'd better get my "December Challenge" finished - especially as I've still not finished the "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" from November! We had to make an ATC using metals, on a seasonal theme for a Christmas swap. So this is mine - not very original but fits the bill.

I expect there will be plenty of photos of everyone elses tomorrow! Must go... a glass of red wine is calling my name!

Monday, 17 December 2007

A conker?

I finished my little dressmaking project this morning. A couple of months ago the scouting group in our village held an Auction of Promises and I promised to make a child's fancy dress or dressing up outfit. The promise was bought by my friend Alison for her three year old daughter, Bea, as part of her Christmas present. Bea is a little girl who loves to dress up, especially if it involves fairies or princesses or anything pink and sparkly. Both Alison and I thought I was going to have a wonderful time creating some gorgeous feminine girly outfit - something I've never got to indulge in having four sons! So she asked Bea what she would like to dress up as if she could choose anything in the world. And Bea's answer...


A week later it was still a conker, two weeks later it was still a conker and it would probably still be a conker had her daddy not told her she wouldn't look like a conker... but would look like a poo! It did the trick and Bea decided she would rather be a strawberry. So here it is... not quite a strawberry but a strawberry themed party dress.

And of course what every little strawberry needs... a matching bag. Where else would she keep her strawberry lipgloss?

I really enjoyed making this. Even the four hours last night stitching 48 individual sequins on by hand! I just hope Bea's not disappointed that it's not a conker!

This evening I'm back to the Chelmsford Embroiderer's Guild to give a talk, tomorrow I really must get some Christmas shopping done and on Wednesday it's back for our final Zigzag meeting of the year. Don't be surprised if you don't see much of me on here... although I do get withdrawal symptoms if I miss more than a couple of days so no doubt I'll be back!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

It smells like Christmas

True to his word, Stewart has spent today making the Christmas cake. And I have to say it looks and smells pretty good - not bad for his first ever cake! Recipe is from Delia's Christmas book - The Creole Christmas cake with a couple of adjustments. Can't wait to taste it!

As for me... I've been feeling sorry for myself for the past couple of days. A piece of filling fell out of my tooth on Thursday while I was eating lunch (a very soft egg sandwich!) leaving a rather large and sensitive hole. Fortunately there was a cancelation at the dentist on Friday so they managed to fit me in but when the anaesthetic wore off I felt like I'd done three rounds with Mike Tyson. It was very sore. And to make matters worse, this morning I've woken up with a cold. Bah humbug! But I have been busy. First of all I had another order for a pendant to make - very sophisticated black and silver.

I then finished off another four angels to put into various presents and parcels...

And finally the last member of the Splatt family - Sylvester Splatt - has been parceled up and sent off. It is such a problem trying to fit into those jiffy bags...

This might work... no, bit too painful...

Let's see if this will do the trick... mmm maybe not?

Despite all the contortions he is parcelled and sent. And today I've being doing a spot of dressmaking. All will be revealed very soon - if everything goes according to plan.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend - we're off to a Thai restaurant this evening. Got to wake Stewart up first... he's worn himself out with all the cake making!