Thursday, 29 January 2009

Three Bottles of Wine

No that's not the amount I drunk last night, it's what I'm giving up in order to pay for the order I placed at Thread Bear on Tuesday, that arrived today. The drop in income that accompanied Husband's loss of job means we don't go out anymore and my one treat a week is whichever bottle of dry white wine is on offer at Sainsburys.

Now it's here it doesn't look much does it and certainly not like three weeks worth of wine. I can't tell you what it's for just yet, but hopefully all will be revealed in the next few weeks.

I have been doing some very secret stitching over the last couple of days, which I will be able to show you in a couple of weeks time. Alongside my secret stitching I have also been working on Love Songs.

If your trying to work out what I've done on it, it is the bit around the piano hinge.

I know it doesn't look like much progress but yesterday was one of those days when there were frogs and knots in abundance. I gave up in the end and had a glass of the bottle of wine that I'd opened for the mustard sauce we had with our pork for dinner last night.

Fitness-wise it looks like I'll be able to get back in the pool very soon. I had a long walk around our neighbourhood yesterday and for the first time since injuring my back had no aches or pain. I had been planning on a pulling on the walking boots and going for a short, flat walk on Curbar Edge today but the forecast sunshine is in fact thick mist and fog, so unless it clears up soon it will be the local streets again. I have to admit two weeks of very little physical activity is starting to drive me nuts, even if it was the correct thing to do.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

All That Glitters

As appears to be coming my usual habit I spent much of Sunday and Monday working on Celtic Autumn. I didn't really plan it but on both days I ended up just using the Treasure Braid on the swirls on her dress.

By last night I was absolutely sick of working with it but I have to admit that most of that part of her dress is now finished. I've also realised that it is probably easier to follow the pattern on this part of the piece if you do the gold swirls first. I shall try this when I do the back part of her dress.

A quick calculation last night of how much I have sewn revealed that I have now done just over 30% of her. It sounded a lot until I spread the whole piece of linen out today and realised how much of it is still empty.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

A First

For the last few days I have been working on the Jayne's Attic Monthly Challenge, which was to do one of the freebies from the Papillion Creations and to finish it as anything. I opted to do The Duke's Maxim and finished it as a pinkeep. As Karen has already posted the pictures on the forum here's mine, not only finished but also finished on time.

The Duke's Maxim
28 count Millennium Blue Cashel Linen
DMC threads

I finished the stitching last night whist listening to Jonathan Ross. As I'm sure you can imagine, I was holding my breath when it came to putting the last few back-stitches in. If I'd gone wrong, the border wouldn't have matched up, which it does. Even better I finished it in time to not only listen to but also to watch the telly whilst he was interviewing Tom Cruise, whom I have to admit I consider rather good-looking. If I was still at the university I'm sure a poster of him would be on my wall. Anyway I digress, so back to the stitching!

This is my first ever attempt at a pinkeep and whilst it's not perfect I have to say I'm feeling quite pleased with myself. I've also learnt a lot so hopefully the next one will be even better.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


First of all thank you to everyone who has wished me and my back well. I can safely say I am really and truly sick of being sat in the chair, but doing nothing, for most of the time, has been exactly the correct thing to do. Each day has seen my mobility improving. Yesterday I was able to potter around and do some housework and baked some chocolate chip muffins and today I'm planning on a very short walk outside. I'm still spending most of each day resting, as I know that is what I need to do, but it's time to start building up the strength in my muscles again, hence the walk later today.

For the last two days I have been working on Celtic Autumn and I have made some quite good progress on her. When I picked her up again I was surprised to find it had been exactly a month since I'd worked on her. Just in case you, like me, had forgot where I'd got to there are two photos, a before and an after photo.



I have been concentrating on the swirls on her dress and despite spending a fair bit of time working with the gold braid most of the bits that are missing from the swirls are the gold braid stitches. She is also getting too big to fit inside my biggest hoop and as I don't really want to crush the braid I'm going to have to move her onto my scroll frame. I haven't used the scroll frame since I got my magnifying lamp so I'm not sure how that is going to work, all I can do is give it a go and see.

Monday, 19 January 2009

The Beacon

Another favourite author is Susan Hill. I first read one of her stories as part of an English Literature course I was doing and have since read most of what she has written. The book, The Beacon , which is a new one by her, was one of my Christmas presents and as it is relatively short only lasted two nights.

A great story about a farming family, which switches between the present and the past whilst exploring the relationships between the various family members.

Totally unsure about the ending, in the final sentence of the book. Hill tries to make you question what you have read and what you believe is true. Sorry, but in this case it doesn't work because to believe her suggested ending every character in the book has to have been lying. A case, in my opinion, of one page too many. A real shame because otherwise this is a great book with a storyline that makes you keep on turning the pages.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Far Too Many Half-Stitches

My first sewing finish of the year is done and it is also my first square for SOLAK.
SOLAK is a group which makes quilts and cushions for people with a long-term illness.
I have been sewing the February Hearts Snowman as part of a SAL and it has taken a lot longer than I expected. When I started I expected it to take a week at the most, in fact it has taken a fortnight and it is only done now because I haven't been able to do anything for the last three days accept sew.

Vermillion Stitchery

February Hearts Snowman

16 count white aida with DMC threads

Now that it's finished I'm very pleased with it but oh boy did it have a lot of half-stitches. To start with everyone of the hearts on the hat is made up of 4 half stitches and there are numerous others in the design. As I opted to stitch it on 16 count aida at times it was a struggle to keep all the half-stitches going in the right direction.

Despite all the half-stitches I have quite enjoyed doing it and I've just signed up to do the September Football Snowman as well. Mind I had a good luck at the pattern first and made sure there weren't quite as many colour changes or half-stitches as there were in the Hearts Snowman.

Before I start the next snowman I'm going to spend some time working on some other projects the first of which will be Celtic Autumn.

Thanks to everybody for your kind words about my back, it is getting better very slowly and housework is still something I can't do which as you might imagine doesn't upset me too much.

Friday, 16 January 2009

I Knew Housework Was Bad For You

So there I was getting on with cleaning downstairs, with just the living room to vacuum, when I move in a perfectly normal way, like I've done a thousand times before and all of a sudden I'm in agony and can barely move. Yep, I've gone and aggravated an old back injury. After shouting for Husband I manage to get as far as collapsing on the settee whilst he has to turn the vac off, which I can't manage.

That's it I'm now out of action for the next few days, at the very least. I can sit and sew and move around very, very slowly. Think of a snail, then imagine it in slow motion and that's the speed I'm moving at. Husband is now in charge of the house, cooking, shopping and washing. Thank goodness I'd nearly finished cleaning the house and was up-to-date with the washing. The cooking I'm not bothered about as he enjoys it and does roughly half of it a week anyway.

On the plus side I can sew and read away to my hearts content, well I can sew for as long as I can sit upright.

The really annoying thing, is that, yet again, just as I start to get a little bit fitter something goes. Even Husband commented on it yesterday, I'm cursed. Ever since I broke my leg, nearly seven years ago now, this has kept happening. I've had a trapped nerve, arthritis, wrecked the ligaments in my ankle twice and three or four cases of aggravating my back injury. Now I wouldn't mind if I was doing something stupid to cause the injuries but I don't. I start of gently, listen to my body and build up the level of exercises slowly. In most cases the injuries don't even occur when I'm exercising but doing something normal. The first ligament injury was caused by an uneven paving slab and the second occurred when I was gardening. The arthritis comes and goes, depending upon the weather and the back invariably goes when I'm doing housework.

I wonder if I can give up housework!!!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

I Blame Binchy & Why

I had hoped that by now I would have finished my snowman and be able to show you the finished piece but no I''m afraid I got my head stuck into one of my books and so spent yesterday reading instead of sewing.

Maeve Binchy is one of my favourite authors, I have everything by her and a regular Christmas present for me is her latest book. This year was no exception and my parents got my her latest 'Heart & Soul'. Now I know from experience that once I start a Maeve Binchy book I simply can't put it down and it was the same with this one. I started it Monday night in bed and only put it down when keeping my eyes open was becoming a struggle. Yesterday afternoon it leapt into my hands and only got put down when I had to go and make the meat pie for dinner. Once dinner was over it jumped back into my hands only to be put down when the final episode of Stargate Atlantis was on but then picked up again, and finished, once I knew I didn't have to worry about the Wraith attacking Earth.

If your a Maeve Binchy fan this book won't disappoint and as usual some familiar names and places from previous novels reappear. In fact now I'm going to have to go back and read at least three more of her novels just to remind myself of some of the back stories. If you've not read any of her books don't let this stop you reading the book you won't know you should know the back stories of these characters or miss out on any aspects of the book because of it.

Now will someone please tell me why every good programme on TV is disappearing from our screens permanently? First of all Stargate SG1 gets cut and now Stargate Atlantis has finished and I don't know if Rodney is going to marry Jennifer or not and it's not like we've rid the Pegasus Galaxy of the Wraith, so why? Fine they say they are going to make a straight to DVD film put life simply won't be the same without Rodney Mckay always being so brilliant at saving the team at the very last minute. Just as bad they are cutting ER as well, the one medical drama I have always enjoyed. Now I know there are other programmes out there but Lost has never appealed, I didn't think a lot about Survivors, far too predictable and I just can't get into Heroes. Thank goodness Doctor Who is still going strong. I can't wait to see what the new doctor will be like having watched the programme where they announced who was taking over from David Tennant I suspect he could be one of the best doctors yet.

Well I guess I've wittered on enough so maybe I should go and do the housework I've been trying to avoid and then get down to some stitching or shall I start another book? I had actually planned a day walking in Dove Dale but it's thick freezing fog here so there was no point in heading out of the house so sadly housework it is.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Clementine Cake

Daughter has returned to university and we were left with a lot of satsumas that weren't going to get eaten so I used them to make a Clementine Cake with. Maybe that should be a Satsuma Cake.

Although the cake is called a Clementine Cake I haven't actually yet made it using clementines, the previous time I made it I used up an excess of oranges, either way it tastes great. Yet again it is another Nigella recipe although I have only ever seen this one on one of her TV shows and not in any of her books, and I have them all.

It's just as well I took the picture almost as soon as I'd got it out of the tin as Husband has already had a piece with his afternoon cup of tea.


4-5 clementines about 375g in weight
6 eggs
225g sugar (I use caster sugar)
250g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder


Oven: Gas 5 or 190C

1. Put the clementines in a saucepan of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours.
2. Drain and leave to cool.
3. Cut each clementine in half, remove the pips and then skin and all blitz.
4. Add all the other ingredients and blitz again to pulp.
5. Grease and line a 21 cm spring-form tin.
6. Pour the mixture into the tin and place into the oven for an hour or until a skewer comes out clean. you may need to cover the top after 35-40 minutes to stop it burning.
7. Leave to cool in the tin on a rack until it is completely cold and then take it out of the tin.

I've never tried it but the recipe I found on the internet does say you can make it using lemons, in which case increase the amount of sugar to 250g.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The First Finish of 2009

Sorry to disappoint all the stitchers out there but this is actually the first book finished in 2009.

Once the darts had finished on telly yesterday evening and I'd caught the end of Trial and Redemption (must watch the next one it looked rather good) the TV was turned off as there really wasn't anything worth watching on it.

I had been reading The Coffin Trail which is a crime/murder mystery in bed during the last week and now that things were starting to get exciting I simply had to finish it. The book came after a recommendation from Bilbowaggins and is set in the Lake District which is why it appealed to me.

At first the book seemed rather slow to get going but as its the first in the series I guess the author was just setting the scene and introducing the characters but the ending even I didn't see coming. If there was one disappointing fact about this book it was that there weren't really any clues to help you predict the ending it sort of appeared out of nowhere. Nevertheless I have the second in the series on order although it appears to be out of print so I hope it turns up soon.

Stitching wise I have been working on a snowman for SOLAK which I will show when I have finished him. I started him earlier this week when the threads and aida I needed to stitch him arrived from Thread Bear. This is one company that I can not recommend highly enough. My dad had bought me the Celtic Autumn chart for Christmas not knowing that I was already stitching it. When I contacted Thread Bear via email about exchanging it for Cirque Des Triangles and adding some threads and aida onto the exchange they responded very promptly, even though the shop was shut at the time.

I now have the threads and aida but not the new chart, as it is being ordered from the US and I've not paid for them yet as they won't accept payment until everything is sent even though I have offered to pay them up front.

The efforts to get fit have stalled a little this week, whilst I have visited both the gym and pool once I have also had an attack of arthritis in my shoulder so neither place will be visited again until that is better. I once went swimming when I had arthritis in my shoulder and ended up with a trapped nerve that required physio. According to my doctor, the nerve was able to get trapped because the joints was swollen due to the arthritis so that's a lesson I've learnt and remembered, arthritis and exercise don't always mix.

Monday, 5 January 2009

An Unexpected Surprsie

Although we woke to a smattering of snow on the ground today I wasn't expecting the treat I got later in the day.

One of my favourite walk is on Stanton Moor and on days like today, when the outdoors is beckoning me but it is already well past midday, that is where I usually head for. It takes me longer to drive there and back than it does to do the walk but I love it anyway. I had no intentions of publishing the walk on my website and nearly didn't take my camera but old habits die hard and so it came with me. By the time I left the house the light covering of the white stuff that we had experienced had long since disappeared but as I got closer to the moor and higher up the trees and fields got whiter and whiter, until I was worried about what state the road to the moor would be in. If it hadn't been gritted there was no way I'd be driving along it.

Although the road was clear, as it's a bus route, the moor was covered in clean crisp snow that was a good few inches thick. Now I don't, as a rule, like walking in snow but this was a real pleasure.

My route took me passed the Cork Stone (above) to the Nine Ladies Stone Circle (below)

and then out to the Reform Tower and back around the edge of the moor, where I was able to watch the sun start to disappear below the horizon.

I have already updated my website with all the photos from this walk and the walk around Chatsworth that Husband and I did on Saturday.

Friday, 2 January 2009

A New Start for 2009

Well I knew I wouldn't be able to resist starting St Petersburg once I had it, but oh what have I let myself in for!!!!!!!

Here are the first few stitches which involve 5 different shades of blue. It is stitched using one thread on 36 count linen and these few stitches took me well over an hour to do and meant the dinner got (slightly) burnt!!

One thing is for sure I had no idea what I was letting myself in for when I asked for this kit, the material alone is 90 cm by 70 cm and takes up half of the space on our dining room table which is large by most peoples standards.

I'm going to have to find some way of working with this large amount of material. Any suggestions anyone? It certainly won't fit onto my roller frame!!

The one thing I'm not too happy about is the way the silks arrived. At first glance they appear to already be threaded onto the cards until you realise they are all secured at the bottom with tape and once you have cut this to get at the first thread you find out they aren't permanently attached to the cards so you need to secure them all in place before they come off. If they do come off, before you do this, your in trouble as there are no DMC numbers, just the icons used in the chart.

I'm glad I didn't plan on finishing it this year, I think that could be beyond me.