Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Quilting for the family

Coming Home

I have been thinking about my quilts just lately and thought I would just put up a few pictures of some of them. All now given to people.

The first one is called Coming Home and is a magician standing on top of his tower in a howling gale waiting for his familiar to return home. For anyone who has ever played Dungeon and Dragons his familiar is a Pseudo Dragon. For those who haven't played it doesn't really matter. A Mage and his familiar do not take well to separation, hence the reason why he is standing at the top of his tower waiting for his tiny golden companion to return.

The Village

 The Village was done simply because we spent a glorious week in Port Meirion and I had this image in my head for months. Then my friend who owns a curtain making business gave me several bags of cabbage (Offcuts of fabrics from cushions and bedcovers) In it there were several beautiful greens and they just cried out to be used for the many trees.
When we stayed at the Village we were in the blue and yellow house on the left. It is called Chantrey and houses 8 people. We stayed with a fantastic group of friends. The advantage of staying in the village means that you can go out into the gardens after all the visitors have gone and you can play giant snakes and ladders on the lawn. Do make sure you go to the loo beforehand because you'll laugh so much you'll have to run with crossed legs to the bathroom


Claude is a Rainbow dragon. This quilt is based on a painting done by my dear friend Helen Rich. Her painting is called "The Other End of the Rainbow". I bought a print of it for Mr M as a Christmas gift and it hangs in our bedroom. I asked Helen if I could base a quilt on her picture and she generously said yes. My Youngest son now owns this quilt. You can't see in this picture but the ribs of the wings are beaded as is most of his body. From his mouth streams the rainbow. His tail is also covered in the only embroidery stitch I can do - chain stitch.
Oh, I call him Claude because at one end of the rainbow you get a pot of gold and at the other you get clawed.

The last quilt is called Orient. I based it on a card I saw in a shop. I went in and bought it because the design just screamed out quilt to me. I was so delighted with it and kept it for quite a while just so that I could roll it out onto the spare bed and look at it. The flute player is wearing beaded earrings that dangle. The centres of the flowers were done with offcuts from a very colourful waistcoat that I made for a roleplayer. When he got married I realised that I hadn't been keeping the quilt to look at I had been saving it for just such an occasion so I wrapped it up and sent it off as a wedding present.

I rarely sew now because my eyesight is getting bad, and I honestly haven't felt that burning need to make a picture of anything. I have idly thought that I should make quilts for the newer members of the family but enthusiasm seems to have departed. I am glad that I have pictures of the ones I made.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Late night thoughts before I go to bed.

I am an only child from a big family. I have said this before but it kind of explains why my cousins are all so special to me. I never felt lonely when I was small because there was always at least one cousin there for me to play with. Even the ones that were quite a bit older than me were still close enough to be like big brothers and sisters.
Having said that there is one cousin that was always special. He is a bit younger than me and really is the closest thing I have ever had to a brother. For as long as I can remember he has been in every significant event and today we are, I think, just as close. He still teases me and tries to wind me up. Mostly I catch on to what he's doing and refuse to fall for his stories. Sometimes I am a bit slow to catch on but that's what having a little brother means, yes?

Tonight we went to his house for dinner - I have told you about them lots of times, the Bluefunnels - and while the conversation eddied back and forth a small part of my brain was watching them and rejoicing in the fact that they are part of MY family. That we have a history that goes back 60+ years. That in all that time we have never fallen out, not even after spending three weeks in a tent in Scotland. I sat at the table eating and chatting and laughing and all the time my mind was saying "Gosh, I am so lucky. Other people can only be friends with you two but I am related, how special is that".

Now I can go to bed with a grin on my face because I have spent a fantastic evening with three of my favourite people - Mr M was there too - and I get to do it again really soon!

New Stove!!! so excited

Today was the day. Marked in the diary and everything. Our new stove was to be delivered and fitted. We have spent three years moaning about the "old" stove. How we missed the eye level grill from the stove before, how we didn't like the way the knobs turn on the "wrong" way and go from full on to teeny tiny flame instead of starting at teeny tiny and going up to full flame. We didn't like the colour and we didn't like the stupid glass lid that we never closed. The thing that spurred us into doing something about it was the baking trays. We have two non warping heavy duty expensive baking trays and they wouldn't fit into the "old" stove. They fitted into the stove before the "old" one so we knew we had to get a new stove.
We also spent hours looking at stoves we discussed colour and size and knobs and grills. We looked at range stoves and we examined gas and electric and then we would look at each other and leave the store to find something less stressful to do.
The oven in the "old" stove was awful the top was very hot while the bottom was nearly cold. It all bacame too much at Christmas when Mr M had to cook the dinner. He followed the instructions for the turkey - which came with its own little pop out thermostat - and when he brought it out the top was cooked to perfection but the bottom of the thighs was still raw.
We went to the electrical store and we saw our stove. All white and gleaming with an oven big enough for the baking trays and an eye level grill. We used our Christmas money. We arranged for it to be delivered and fitted and the old one carted away.
They came today.
First they had to move one of my cupboards - that's ok, nothing is fixed in my kitchen because I like to be able to move things.
They seemed a bit surprised when I showed them that the worktop wasn't screwed down or anything.

I hadn't seen that section of floor for at least four years so I was surprised at how little dirt had managed to get under there.

While the one nice man was moving the connection the other one put my stove together. Can you see? an eye level grill. I had to sit in the corner and keep out of the way, oh, look you can see the worktop leaning against the cupboards.

They were really nice and cheerful and soon my new stove was in its proper place and they had put the cupboards back and the worktop on them and levelled everything - that's a first. A stove that is level, such luxury.
I was able to toast a hot cross bun, just to test it you understand, because I won't be cooking dinner on it tonight. Oh no, I have arranged for us to go out tonight for dinner with the Bluefunnels. I did just slide the baking tray into the oven to make sure and they fit just fine!
I will test the temperature range in the oven on Sunday. In the mean time I will continue to stand in my kitchen and admire my new stove.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Simply a moment - January 2014

It is 9.20pm on Wednesday night. I am snuggled under the bettermaker quilt, feet up on the footstool Watching Hidden Histories on BBC4 and waiting for ten o' clock when Mr M will be coming home from work.
The programme is really interesting about the oldest family butcher's business in England and the man is finding out lots about his ancestors

And then it went dark and silent.

A power cut.

My mobile phone whistles to tell me I have received a text message and then it does it again. Two messages. I peer at the first one. From my son in law telling me that the power might go off because he reported to the Electricity people that there was steam and an acrid smell coming out of one of their manhole covers in our street.

OH, so it's his fault.

I look at the other message. It's from my daughter. She asks if my power has gone off and am I OK or should she send her husband.

I reassure them both and then send a text to Mr M telling him that I am in darkness, well I have three torches and several candles, but I am ALRIGHT.

I potter about lighting the candles and switching on the little string of LED lights that haven't been put away after Christmas. Mr M arrives just after ten and he can reach the camping bag in the pantry, the one that holds the kettle that will go on the gas stove. Now everything is right with the world. We can have a cuppa and we could make food if we wanted it. I decide that as eleven pm approaches that I am for my bed so I take my little torch and off I go.

It was not until I came to write about my moment that I realised that I wasn't in the least bit upset by being in the dark on my own and didn't even get the hint of a panic attack. Things are certainly looking up!

This is written as part of a lovely idea by Alexa at Trimming the Sails why not go over there and take a look at the other moments, now that you've read mine :)

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Sunday reflections

I have decided that I miss the storytelling Sundays where I could mostly dredge up family tales and write them down for my children to read and learn about life before them. I was thinking about this last night and into my head popped the Christmas party we had at Llandowlais Farm.
It was the normal thing for family gatherings to be at our house because it was large enough to hold a lot of people. I have described before here how my dad and grandfather renovated the farmhouse and the party was the first Christmas where we could use the downstairs rooms. This means it was 1961. I was still in school - well I was still going and getting my mark in the register. I left at Easter 1962 so I can be sure that this party was Christmas 1961. By Christmas I mean Christmas Day. Our party was always Christmas Day. My Dad and Uncle Peter who lived with us, and Uncle Ron cos he had a car, would go out across the area and collect everyone who was coming to the party. My Dad had an old post office van with bench seats down the sides si he could get loads of people in. For some reason we decided to have a fancy dress party.

As the vehicles returned people trooped in through the kitchen door to be greeted by shrieks of laughter as they were recognised - or not - by other guests.
Some of the first to arrive were Pat and George Murray with their son Michael. This was one of the phases where I wasn't in love with Michael. There were times when I was but these never coincided with when he fancied me so we have had a friendship that has lasted 60 years - can't be bad.

Where was I? oh yes. Pat is a bathing belle, Michael is a lavatory attendant from paradise and George, well George was a tramp. He didn't come in with the rest of the group. He waited outside for someone to sit on the window seat in the kitchen. It was Aunty Kath. He tapped on the glass, she turned around and he pressed his face against the window.
I swear that her scream was heard five miles away in Newport.

My Dad decided that he could only come to the party as a pirate. Why? Well he lost his right leg at the end of WW2 when he was blown up by a mine. He had a tin leg. he had one with a foot on it for a day but it slowed him down so he took the foot off and for the rest of his life - he died age 89 - he sped about on his peg-leg, as he called it. So here he is with a curtain ring on a thread for an earring and a red scarf tied around his head.

Uncle Fred and Aunty Phyllis always joined in with the fun. We used to joke about Aunty Phyl because she always had an opinion and she always knew she was right. She would tell you something and then say "Isn't that right, Fred?" He would nod and continue his own conversation without missing a beat. The main thing about Aunty Phyl was that if you needed anything she would move heaven and earth to help you. She was wonderful.
 Uncle Fred arrived as a Russian spy With Aunty Phyl as a Beatnik. Just behind them you can see Cousin Andy. I have no idea what he came as because he avoided the camera.
How did we know Uncle Fred was a Russian spy? Well he told us he still had the snow on his boots.

Aunty Mary told us previously that Uncle Hilmer would be coming as Fred Flintstone. We asked if she would be coming as Wilma and she looked horrified. Oh no, she was coming as a hippy which was much more dignified. My mother decided that she would come as Wilma and found some brown fabric in the sewing cupboard and made this enticing little number.
It really cracks me up when I look at this picture because Fred Flintstone is wearing his vest! He also has his two year old son, Paul, waiting to be picked up. Paul came as himself.

There was lots of music and dancing. There was usually a time when Aunty Muriel would sit at the piano and vamp her way through the favourite songs and there were always games.

The honeymoon game was the favourite. Only to be played by adults no married couples to be together and no cheating - as the rules were Dress in opposite sex clothes run to kitchen and back holding hands, don't forget suitcase. It was easy not to cheat.
It did mean that there had to be a time when music played but nobody moved because they were hurting too much from laughing. Then it was back to dancing and singing again.

Uncle Ron and Aunty Kath came as Indians - this was 1961 so forget the PC stuff. Kath made the costumes and did the war paint. I can also see Cousin Jacky in that picture. She said she came as a hippy but really she came as Cousin Jacky, she just added a long rope of pearls to her big jumper. The pale pink lipstick was the absolute height of fashion and that was something that Jacky knew all about. She had started work at C&A in the ladies fashion department so she was able to get her clothes at a discount.
I was the despair of her life because I wore jeans and T-shirts. I had horses so fashion was not something I cared about. My clothes had to fit and not wear out.

I love that in this picture Uncle Ron is holding the bread knife. They look so young.

Aunty Val was involved with the youth football teams where she lived. She trained one of the teams. For some reason her brothers and sisters thought this was hilarious and it was never spoken about without them laughing. Now I think about it they never spoke about each other without some teasing and laughing

 Aunty Val is here with Uncle Peter. They were not a couple. Aunty Val was married to Uncle Tom. He was never one to put himself forward. Let's face it he would have needed to be really loud and boisterous to be noticed in this lot.
Uncle Peter was my mother's brother. He came to live with us after he came out of the army and he worked with my father as a partner in the business until my Dad retired and then Peter continued to run the business for another 20 years. Now it is still being run by Peter's Son Alan

It wasn't just family that came to our parties. Friends came too. Uncle Alfie Taylor, his wife Aunty Dulcie and their Children Graham Linda and Linden were always included in every family occasion. Uncle Alfie was a childhood friend of my father and they had been through a lot together. Uncle Alf died a long time ago and Aunty Dulcie passed in the last year. I have very fond memories of them and this picture brings back their sense of fun and the great sense of joy at being alive that always came along with them.

So there it is. A Christmas Party that was recorded in pictures more than 50 years ago in a house that no longer exists.

Thank goodness for memories.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Twas the Week before Christmas

Not a creature was stirring, well that was because I was sitting in the Doctor's surgery with a medical student doing my consultation and waiting for the Dr to come in and "oversee".

I had developed cellulitis in the eczema on my leg, again. As this had put me in hospital for five days in November I was keen to avoid a second go. I thought I would get me to the Dr straight away and be able to stay at home for Christmas.

It was close.

The Dr gave me two lots of antibiotics and pain killers so that on Christmas day when My leg suddenly swelled up again it was "just" a trip to the out of hours (OOH Doc) Doctor on Christmas Day. He gave me a third antibiotic and more painkillers and I was able to return to my settee of pain.

Mr M coped with looking after me and the chickens and he cooked meals and looked after visitors and hugged grandchildren and did all the things I usually do - and seemed to do them more easily too.

I am glad to report that the Dr thinks we have beaten it for now, although I have a backup course of antibiotics in the cupboard just in case. They are good until 2016 so I reckon they are the insurance policy like the two paracetamols in the pocket for a headache - I will explain if you don't understand that.

So Happy new year to everyone, so glad to be able to relax and enjoy the undiluted company of my husband for a few more days before he goes back to work. I might even go outside!! Or not.