Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year and Atomic Clocks?

I woke this morning thinking about New Year and how it happens at different times around the globe from where you actually live. 'What?'  Let me explain ...  the fist place on earth to enter the New Year are the Christmas Islands, the last place to enter New Year is Samoa. Britain enters the New Year about 13 hours between them. Its odd don't you think that Earth celebrates a new New Year for a full 24 hours. Well its about 24 hours but not exactly 24 hours because we have been loosing time at the rate of a couple of thousandths of a second every century for quite some while now - so its not really 24 hours at all. But how do we really know what time the correct time is?  We use 'TIME' as a constant to measure so many other things and we rely on it being right... right? So how do we measure time?   Since the invention of the atomic clock in 1955 we can now rest assured that based on the properties of atoms we know  'time' is being measured correctly. I'm not sure how we did it before and when we switched from what we did then to the atomic clock how do we know that the time we switched on the the atomic clock was right in the first place?   Well I've no idea  .. all I know now is its time to celebrate New Year in Catherington in about 15 minutes ... Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

New Book released Today!

Talk about excited ... I'm "totally excited" (in my kids speak) ...... Today my book "How to make Perfect Binding in 6 Easy Steps" was released on Lulu. com. I am just sooooo excited.  I've had this book sitting in the wings for a while now but decided NOW is the time to let the world see what I can do  (i'm laughing .. a little bit...!)  No seriously I am very proud and my kids were even prouder to see their mums name listed as Author and even prouder when I made my first download sale... thank you!  OK I know its a print-on-demand self-publish site but I dont care .. I've put myself out their.   So I'm busy publicising myself today ... so I'll start right here!

"How to make Perfect Binding in 6 Easy Steps is the ideal book for the beginner or intermediate quilter who is looking for the secrets of how to apply a successful binding to their quilt. Available as a standard A4 sized easy-read spiral bound paperback or a downloadable PDF from this comprehensive techniques guide will show you how to prepare your quilt for binding, calculate binding yardage, attach the binding, produce mitred corners and make a neat and flawless join"


If you go to Lulu you can preview 6 or 7 pages before committing to buy which I think is great. I'm really very impressed with them. I suppose I should order a hard copy though to see what it looks like in the flesh.  I'm a download girl myself really though. What are you?

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Tree Santa 24

Well the 'big Santa' is sitting atop the tree today so it must be christmas! My little boy was jumping up and down with joy as he was lifted up to put him on top of the tree. He has been telling me all day that tonight Santa will be delivering him his Batman car! (Lucky for me Amazon had one in stock). It has been such a delight to see him take such an interest in our tree and I'm sure he now knows each and every Santa we have. I have decided that next year I need to buy a bigger tree though ... its either that or stop collecting the Santa tree decorations and now that have an apprentice Santa 'anorak' I don't think that will be possible!

So thats it folks! I have completed what I set out to do... my first '52 projects' inspired endeavour. I'm having a break from blogging over christmas and will start again in 2009 with a new project ... "The weekly Quilt". I have made many quilts over the years but I haven't documented them anywhere so I think this will be a good way to do just that and record my craft endeavours for prosperity (should anyone be interested!).

So happy christmas to all of you who have followed me the last 24 days. I hope you have the opportunity to rest and enjoy some family time and maybe even think of your own 'project' to blog about. If you do .. let me know so I can follow too!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Tree Santa 23

One more day to go and things are looking a little sweeter in my neck of the woods. DH brought home a box of See's Candy's - a present from Dawn - thank you! Oh they were delicious! I felt very mean not sharing them with the kids but See's are just too good for children! Candy Canes are much better for children (and cheaper!). Candy Canes can be found in the UK but unlike the US its not traditional for them to be used as a tree decoration. Apparently candy canes had been around for years but it wasn't until around 1900 that they were bent into a cane shape and decorated with red and white stripes.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Tree Santa 22

Only 2 days to go!   Yeah... and I'm feelin goood!  Just like this jolly looking Santa!  Hubby is home, the bedroom is decorated, food shopping is 90% done, wrapped some presents,  quilt top is almost finished but socks are a disaster and I think I may have to concede a defeat with the knitting!  I am doing soo badly - I cant managed 2 needles properly let alone 4 for sock knitting. I even woke up dreaming about a machine to knit socks (now come on we are all entitled to have funny dreams!) More surprising though was the knitting machine blog entry from
craftsanity I found in my in basket! How weird is that!  Here's another link  here so you can see yet more sock knitting machine action. I did scan Ebay UK quickly to see if there was one for sale but no joy - perhaps just as well! 

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Tree Santa 21

Wow - only 3 more days !  Am I ready ... NO!  Currently I feel  like this Santa who  appears to be doing his best to squeeze a quart into a pint pot!  For some reason ( that I currently can't currently fathom) I decided to decorate my middle sons bedroom last week. Its almost finished but the contents of the room - mainly toys(!) seem to have migrated from their temporary housing to .. well ...everywhere really!  That together with the new quilt I started yesterday sitting on the dining room table, the laundry room that continues to look more and more like Mount Vesuvius and my bedroom that has taken on the look of the local post office with all the internet shopping deliveries I have received .. its no wonder I am beginning to feel a tad squeezed myself too!   I haven't open the boxes yet either  -- just in case prying eyes catch a glance -- so I am praying they contain what I ordered!   Oh and the heating system has thrown a wobbly and my eldest son decided to play Santa and take presents to my family before, rather than after, Christmas as planned so I had to get these all prepped and ready to go and.. and... and ........  But all will be fine tomorrow ... DH flies home for Christmas! 

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Tree Santa 20

What do you put on top of your christmas tree - a star maybe?   Some people put angels ... I of course add a Santa! However this year he wont be added to the tree top until christmas eve. Might seem odd I know but I have done it to avoid the inevitable question of "does santa come tonight? " every day for 20 days!  I have  told my five year old that when he  sees a Santa on the top of the tree he will know it is christmas eve and  when he wakes up Santa will have left presents under the tree. So far its working!   Of course, most people add a star to represent the bright star that led the way to Bethlehem or they add an angel to represent the angel that announced the holy birth. But not all of us would choose to follow this traditional route including the chap that when asked  "why do you put an angel  on top of your tree?" answered...... "because my wife wont sit still!"  

Friday, 19 December 2008

Tree Santa 19

I've looked at this Santa for quite a while, trying to decide what kind of Santa he is. I think he looks quite Bohemian .... no not gypsy-like but from Bohemia within the Czech Republic!  Santa (or St Nicholas)  is called Svaty Mikalas in the Czech Republic and visits in the evening of December 5th - the day before the feast of St Nicholas.  He comes and visits children with a devil and an angel by his side. The kids have to sing or recite a poem for him before he asks if they have been good or not. The devil is given permission to scare the children while the angel counters the threats. If they are good they are rewarded with a small gift of fruit or sweets. If they have been bad they get a potatoe or a lump of coal!  But just in case the kids don't get to see St Nicholas (and lets face it who would after reading that?)  you can hang your stocking in the window and St Nicholas will fill it with presents anyway - whew!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Tree Santa 18

How would you describe Santa?  I  bet you mention a big white beard! For me a good beard can make or break a Santa costume. It needs to be full and fluffy in my opinion and preferable white and clean!  Not like this Santa that appears to have eaten something French!  

Did you know the carol "The First Noel" was originally spelled " The First Nowell" and reflected its Anglo-saxon roots way back in 16th century England.  No doubt the word Noel (French for Christmas)  filtered into the British vocabulary after the Normans invaded!  The spelling was changed to "Noel" in 1833 when the song was published in a collection of carols.  Speaking of Normans and 1066 and all that ... Pam Holland is currently working on a quilt version of the Bayeux Tapestry?  Go here to see video

I was surprised to find that many many words - as many as 15,000 words used in the english vocabulary have been influenced by the french language. Link here to see some of them we use ... most probably without even realising we are speaking french.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Tree Santa 17

This believe it or not is a "Cheese and Wine" Santa ... yes it took me a while to cotton on too! He has a little bottle of Merlot and a selection of cheese on the platter round his tummy.  I wonder if they are 'stinky' cheeses? Apparently the worlds stinkiest cheese is called Vieux Boulogne. It comes from Boulogne Sur Mer in Northern France and is a soft cheese. It is aged for up to 9 weeks and stinks because the rind is brushed with beer which reacts with the enzymes in the cheese. I've never tried it myself and if it smells as bad as its supposed too I'm not sure I want to! Although I do like a good Silton! 

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Tree Santa 16

This arm-waving crazy-looking santa is dedicated to my husband and his team of merry men and women who are sane enough to retain a sense of humour in their oh-so crazy world of Corporate madness! Long may the crazy dance continue!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Lacking the X-Factor

For the last few weeks I have been a bit of a 'saddo' as I have tuned in to watch The X-Factor. It has been the highlight of my Saturday evening for some weeks now and I waited patiently this last weekend as the 3 finalists warbled and squawked their way through the night. It was a good show if just a little protracted though. So to avoid complete 'jellification' whilst watching it I decided to make a quilt top  -- as you do!  As luck would have it I just happened to have received a 5" charm pack as a introductory thank you gift from Fons and Porter. A nice gesture but one that cost me £12.95 in customs duty. I'm not sure that 23  5" squares of fabric (and a spool of thread) would have cost me that much in a shop, so I was slightly annoyed with their 'free gift'. Anyway not to go on about it I put them to good use along with another set of 1/8th pieces I found that seemed to blend in well. From cutting the pieces to stay-stitching the edge of the top took me just over 90 mins - good going and hastened on by the frequent 2 minute ad breaks.  Its a cute little sofa throw that I'm sure one of the kids will enjoy using as a cape but its certainly no masterpiece and I'm sure Simon Cowell would agree with me when I say it lacks the X-factor.  But these quick little X-factor quilts are good for us quilters. When we make them we create, reduce our stash and make way for us to buy some X-tra fabric!  

Tree Santa 15

I think 'beaders' must be the most patient crafters on the planet! I have tried but rapidly gave up after about the 10th time of upturning the dish the beads sat on! Do you know how frustrating it is to chase beads around a floor? Even more frustrating and painful is having a bear foot find a lone bead ... something  akin to treading on a piece of lego or knex!  No I'm afraid beading is not for me but I applaud those that do. 

I love this little Moon Sequined Santa and I have chosen him today to remind me of the largest moon I have seen for many years. The moon was at its fullest on Friday but with low cloud and rain over the weekend I didn't spot it until tonight and yes it is slightly bigger and brighter than I have seen for a while.  Apparently it is 30,000km closer to Earth at the moment as its reaches the nearest point of its 15 year elliptical orbit so is no wonder its looks bigger I suppose, although we are cautioned by astronomers to be be aware of something called "moon illusion" . Well my moon Santa is no illusion although is somewhat magical!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Girly Bitz Bags by Big Tee

Girly Bitz Bags by Big Tee, originally uploaded by teepeequilts.

My daughter has a lovely set of friends and each year for the past 3 years now I have given them a christmas decoration to hang on their tree as a reminder of our family in years to come. This year I found these gorgeous nesting Russian dolls from Accessorize. Russian dolls are big news at the moment and I was pleased when I found a wrapping paper I could customise for cards! Instead of gift wrap  I made eco-friendly  Girly Bitz Bags! These are passport sized fabric pouches that are handy to store all those girly things we carry in our handbags that we dont always want anyone else to see !

Tree Santa 14

How about a cheer-leading Santa?  This one looks as though he has just been told the workshop is ahead of schedule!  Wish I was!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Tree Santa 13

Heres a Santa for everyone enjoying office parties at the moment !  I hope this one sobbers up before Christmas Eve!

I took my 5 year old to see Santa today and he loved it. This is the first year that he has shown any obvious signs of being excited with 'Christmas'.  Its was so lovely to see. Santa gave him a magnetic chess set that he was thrilled with  ... mind you the chocolate cakes that came after came in a very very close second!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Tree Santa 12 plus!

I popped out for a loaf of bread today but came back with these ... sorry dh but I just couldn't help myself!  

Its official ... I'm a Quilt Judge!

Whew! After 2 years of study, grunts, groans and hard work its official ....I am now qualified as A Quilters Guild of the British Isles Quilt Judge !  Its a been a long time coming and in all honesty there were times when I didn't think I could carry on but I am so pleased I did. It was good learning experience and one that has helped me develope as a textile artist as well as a quilter. I am now ready to move on and open another chapter in my life book -  I hope its a good read!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Tree Santa 11

Wey-hey .... " I'm walking in the air ..."   
I think "The Snowman" must rank amongst my best Christmas movies  .... whats your favorite?

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Tree Santa 10

I like this Santa slightly wide-eyed expression,almost like he is thinking .. " What! How many days left?" Either that or he's had too much coffee!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Tree Santa 9

Ok I am officially worried that christmas is approaching too fast!  I thought we had oodles of time to get things ready - now its already Dec 9 and the kids finish school next week! The house is a tip , I have things I want to do - like finishing the bag I started crocheting today and I had better fill the fridge or I will have a riot on my hands!  The thought of supermarket shopping isn't pleasant .... why oh why do people feel it is necessary to buy half the shop because its Christmas? The shops only close for one day so what on earth they will do with their bulk buy of sugar, or cheese biscuits, or cranberry cheese is anyones guess.  We shall of course have a turkey and all the trimmings and IF I am lucky my tribe will leave enough so we can eat leftovers after Christmas Day and leave the shops well alone for at least a couple of days ... maybe I should think about stocking up on toilet rolls just in case though!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Tree Santa 8

Todays Santa is a lovely woodland rendition which I am dedicating to my friend Maddy !

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Tree Santa 7

Todays tree santa is a special one. He was given to me by my friend Andrea, who I met while we lived in San Jose. She gifted 'snorkling santa' to me the christmas before we left. I haven't seen her for over 8 years now but I think of her every time I put this one on the tree.  Tis a slightly unorthodox view of the 'man' but then I guess we all need a break sometime!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Tree Santa 6

Look at this pair of cuties!  

This is the last of my new purchases for 2008 - although there is still time to find more I suppose!  (... a sneaky laugh to myself here as I think of my hubby who tolerates my passion for fu-fu - as he calls it - so well !!)

I managed to do some sewing yesterday which I was sooo happy about. My legs are getting less painful now and the swelling and bruising is going. I still look like I've been peppered with a shot gun though  ... so attractive  ... and I never thought I would ever ever ever say this but I actually looked forward to putting on the surgical stockings. They really help relieve the pain which makes it possible for me to sew!   Hidden under jeans - who knows anyway !
So what did I sew?  A  couple of things .. a modern rendition of two turtle doves for my 12" square December Journal project. I just need to quilt this now.  I put bindings on some pre-quilted squares I found hanging around in my studio from years ago .. one will become a bag the rest place-mats I think. The bindings were already part sewn so I just had to finish the join. I have obviously changed my method for binding since I did these all those years ago. I wouldn't do them quite the same today but I decided to leave what I had done rather than unpick. They look ok anyway.  I also prepared some hexagons for hand quilting, got christmas presents for one of the kids and went to the christmas market in Petersfield last night. So how industrious was that? I will no doubt pay the price today - but hey its Saturday - I don't have to do anything today!

Friday, 5 December 2008

Tree Santa 5

Here he is ... a kingly Santa

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Christmas Project Number 1 - Santas 1 to 4

Ok - so having recently listened to a podcast on Craftsanity about "52 Projects" I have decided to do a few of my own.  Well its not like I dont have loads already but the idea of having a project that I do .. and complete ... over a period of time for no other reason than  .. I want to do it ... seems good to me. So since its christmas I thought I would do a Christmas related project. ... well 2 actually, My first one is to photograph and load a picture of decorations on my christmas tree. I have several trees actually and several collections of decorations but my favorite is a green fir - plastic because I dont real - covered in beautiful decorations ... so long as they are Santas!  I've been collecting for quite some years now but I add a few each year as and when I see what I like. These next 4 are (for dates Dec 1st through 4th) are all new this year and I brought them at a small shop in Los Gatos CA  during a visit I made there on Halloween. The shop btw is gorgeous and I could have spent much much dollars there (and way more than I did .. which was enough!)  Here are Santa 1 through 4 for 2008. I'll post one Santa a day until Christmas !

Monday, 1 December 2008

Surgical Stockings and Spewing Sprogs!

Oh my - what a week. I'd like to say not a lot happened but quite the opposite!  After a year of waiting I finally got my dratted leg vein sorted and OMG ... I wish I hadn't - well thats what I thought on Wednesday and Thursday - by today 5 days later the pain has subsided and the mammoth bruise and multiple holes are disappearing. They may even have gone more quickly if 4 kids and mum hadn't gone down over the weekend with a bad case of spew and poo! Fighting for buckets and loos we were! DH (who escaped said virus)  even resorted to a trip to the hardware shop to stock up on buckets incase we all go down together again. Horrendous is the only word I can think of and me still in surgical stockings to boot! Pain killers didn't stay down so wowee it was a humdinga of a weekend. The good news is we are recovering and tomorrow is Christmas shopping day at school for the little one. A list of gift recipients has been duly drawn up and not to disapoint his mum and dad and in the same vein as all his siblings the gift-buyers name is also on the list! I suppose at 5 years old its difficult to understand the concept that sometimes presents are for others!  I just wish he hadn't brought home the one unsuspecting present he didn't pay for earlier in the week! Dont you love school!