Musings

Evocotive Smells

At the moment we are spending a lot of time in the house where OH did most of his growing up so you can imagine the memories that have been stirred. It got me thinking about the smells and perfumes that instantly remind us of things that may have been long forgotten. We all have our favourite, memory evoking fragrances I’m sure. One of mine was brought very much to the fore this week; as a child I can remember sitting in church beside my dad, and realising that I hadn’t got a handkerchief. I nudged dad and indicated that I needed to wipe my nose and he immediately gave me the large, spotlessly clean, Persil white hankie from his pocket. It smelt deliciously of his favourite pipe tobacco, the pouch for which was also in his pocket. When I was emptying a drawer at F-I-Ls this week I came upon his old pipes and a well worn, leather tobacco pouch, all with the pungent smell of the same pipe tobacco that my darling dad smoked. I was immediately transported back to church with my dad. Such happy memories!

Our dad.

Our dad.

Another of my favourite smells is Max Factor Creme Puff, a face powder that mum always used, it had a perfume like no other make-up had. I’ll let you into a little secret, the last Max Factor Creme Puff that mum had now sits in my dressing table drawer and I often open it just to smell mum’s presence.  It reminds me of mum getting dressed up for an evening out with dad, and anyone one who knew her would agree that she always went out looking good. Even in her nineties, mum never went out in clothes that weren’t colour co-ordinated, never a hair out of place, and of course the Creme Puff and her lippy!

Our mum.

Our mum.

Freshly baked bread, freshly mown grass and ground coffee are among my other favourite smells but this wasn’t always so. When I was pregnant with my first, I was working in Windsor and had to pass a coffee shop on my route from home to the hairdressing salon where I worked. I would be fine every morning until drawing level with this shop, it would immediately set me off in great waves of morning sickness. In the end I had to to take a considerably longer walk to work to avoid the smell of the coffee. I remember thinking I would never be able to face coffee again, but now it is one of my favourite smells, strange that.

Fresh coffee beans.

Fresh coffee beans.

I would love to know what smells evoke happy memories for you, please feel free to send me your thoughts.

Till next time, make some happy memories!

Jenny xxxx

 

I’m Back!

Sorry for the long gap since my last Blog, but everything is back to normal now, well almost. After the sad loss of my dad-in-law, we are now busy clearing his house which is quite a task as he had lived there for forty two years. We are coming across all sorts of things, including some lovely photographs of OH when he was a little boy, he’s dared me to show them to anyone, LOL.

We did take a week out for ourselves after Dad’s funeral, and went away for our long anticipated, previously cancelled, trip to Las Vegas. We had a very restful and relaxing time, which we both needed and enjoyed. We ate in some lovely restaurants, walked miles (not difficult in Las Vegas, you can walk a mile just from one end of a casino to the other), we shopped till we dropped, and soaked up some sunshine.

Much of our shopping was in craft,  fabric and quilting shops, I am lucky to have a very patient husband who was happy to drive me to these wonderful shops. Just within Vegas itself there were at least a dozen such shops and the range of goodies was quite remarkable.  OH also shopped for clothes and gadgets, both of which there were great choices. Suffice to say, we went out with one suitcase weighing 17 kilos and came home with two cases, each weighing 23 kilos!

Since coming home, I have had a little bit of ‘me time’ and have used this time in my craft room. Here is a bag I made using a patten and some fabric that I bought on holiday.

Lots of lovely pockets inside.

 

I think this is going to be a very useful bag over the Summer, if we get one that is! Would you believe we had snow again today, perhaps we are going to jump straight from Winter to Summer and miss out Spring altogether.

Another thing I have been trying this week is machine embroidery using Mylar. I was introduced to this by my lovely cyber friend Mabel, who showed some of this work on the Shortcuts to Sewing Forum. Mylar is a thin film that has an irredescance to it and can be used for all sorts of pretty crafts. I managed to buy some on ebay and started playing as soon as it arrived.

To use it for machine embroidery it is placed over a double layer of water soluable stabiliser that has been tightly hooped;

Mylar placed over stabiliser, ready to sew

This is then placed on to the embroidery unit of the machine and the outine stitched out. Before continuing the hoop is removed and the excess Mylar cut away before replacing the hoop.

Patten being stitched out.

Patten being stitched out.

The embroidery design is then stitched out completely. Once finished it is removed from the hoop and the stabiliser cut away from around the design. The piece then needs to be soaked in warm water, this needs to be changed several times until all of the stabilser has dissolved and no residue left.

Two pieces soaking to remove stabiliser.

Two pieces soaking to remove stabiliser.

The pieces are then allowed to dry flat.

Completed angel

Completed angele

I hope you’ve enjoyed a look at this embroidery technique, I’ve certainly enjoyed sharing it with you.

Till next time,

Jenny xxx

 

Thank you!

This week we had two lovely thank you cards form nieces and their offsprings. I have to say, I think it is one of the nicest things, to get a thank you, especially from the younger generation (OMG am I really getting old?!!). I’ve also had texts, phone calls and ‘facebook’ messages with Christmas thank yous, all of which have been really appreciated. People complain about the youngsters and their lack of respect but, I have to say, it has been my good fortune to find this is rarely the case. The two nieces who took time to write to me this week, are both young mums of little ones and, like a lot of their peers, both work to help with the family income. Their children will grow up knowing that to say thank you costs nothing but is always appreciated, and they will be all the nicer for it.

Well, in answer to my own question, yes, it’s official, I am getting old! Last week OH took me to Westfield for some retail therapy, we got on a very packed tube train and nice man, about 30-ish, got up and gave me his seat!!! Can you believe that………there were quite a few other women standing but he obviously thought this little old lady needed a seat.  I have never had this happen before but have always thought it nice to see, when a gentleman gives up his seat to an elderly or pregnant lady, I’ m certainly well beyond the second category but on a bright note, perhaps this is a courtesy I will get used to in future.

It was our first visit to Westfield and it is certainly a lovely shopping centre, especially if you are into designer goods. The best part of the day for me however, was not Westfield. Just around the corner we discovered Goldhawk Road and Shepherds Bush Market.  Every other shop on the road was a fabric shop, and lots more fabric stalls in the market. I was in a state of euphoria, like an excited child in a sweet store. I bought all of my fabric for my Quilt Along (see previous post) and the prices were amazing, 100% cottons at under £2 per metre. I will certainly go back again.

On the subject of fabric, I’ve been playing with the new machine this week and made this cushion;

 

Frilled cushion.

The fabric is a cotton print that I bought in John Lewis’ sale.

At Craft Club on Monday we were making squares of ‘log cabin’ patchwork and Helen and Mary showed us how to make a door stop from two of these squares. I fininshed the patchwork at home and turned it into this funky chicken doorstop. He is filled with rice to give the weight.

Funky chicken

Funky chicken

He’s quite fun isn’t he?

Thanks for reading my blog, do feel free to leave a comment, it’s always nice to hear from you.

The weather forcast isn’t very good for the next few days so keep warm and stay safe.

Jenny xxx

 

Happy New Year!

Well 2012 was a year of ups and downs. Lots of lovely celebrations, three family weddings, our sons (twice, in Cyprus and Cambridge), our niece Traceys and our nephew Mikes, we celebrated the 30th birthday of our lovely niece Tiffany, we welcomed a new baby in to the family, Kai. Two of the teenagers in the family went off to uni, Nathalie went to Portsmouth and Jack went to the Hague, both have settled well and are enjoying their courses. Tobie continues to do well in his music degree course at Cardiff.

The hi-light of the year for me was going to Colin and Allyson’s wedding in Cyprus. I had a wonderful week out there in the company of my darling niece, Boo. We had a fantastic time and I am so grateful that Boo talked me into going, Thank you Hun, you are the best!

I also paid my first visit to Walsingham in May this year. It is a shrine to our Blessed Lady and a place where my dear mum went every year for as long as I can remember. I always promised myself I would go on a pilgrimage to this lovely little Norfolk village, once I retired. It was a lovely long weekend in the company of my sister and brother-in-law and several other members of their parish. I found the whole experience very peaceful, but also very uplifting. I have to say that I very much felt as though my mum was with me the whole time I was there.

On the down side, my darling OH was very poorly when his appendix burst, but has completely ‘mended’ now. My sister was also very poorly and in hospital for a spell in November, she too is now on the mend and for that we are very grateful. We tragically lost a cousin to a heart attack in the spring, He was due to celebrate his 50th birthday in May. Another cousin also passed away in the summer. RIP Fergal and John.

So now we welcome 2013, we have more celebrations planned, including my sister and brother-in-law’s diamond wedding anniversary, yes DIAMOND, that’s SIXTY YEARS!!! My other sister will be eighty this year, great cause for celebration I think you’ll agree.

We have re-booked our holiday to Las Vegas (the one that was cancelled in September) and that is fast approaching. OH has put several addresses of quilting/fabric shops into the sat nav, all within a reasonable distance of Las Vegas, I can’t wait to build up my fabric stash. An empty suitcase is a must!!

On the subject of quilting and fabric, I have signed up for a ‘Quilt along on line’. The information was posted on a sewing forum by Dina aka ‘Bossymamma’ and it is an online group led by a lovely lady, Alyssa from Pile O’ Fabric www.pileofabric.com There will be monthly instructions for two  different quilt blocks and when finished they will be pieced together to make a queen sized quilt, hopefully by Christmas 2013.  I am very excited at the prospect of making a quilt as this is something I have been intendng to do for ages, this could be the ideal way of learning how to do it properly. Thanks for the info Dina. Now is a good time to start a quilt as I was once again thoroughly spoiled this Christmas,  OH gave me an Elna Quilters 6600  sewing machine. I know what you are thinking, ‘why on earth do I need another machine?’, the truth is I don’t, but this will compliment my other machines as it does ‘different’ things. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

OK, so thats my little, personal, review of 2012 and a little taste of what I am looking forward to in 2013. I wish you and all of your families a happy and healthy new year. I hope all your dreams come true and , if you are a crafter, baker and homemaker, I hope you have a year of successful projects.

Jenny xxx

 

 

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

The postman delivered our first Christmas card this morning and it made me realise just how close Christmas is. I still have so much to do, unfinished projects in my sewing room, cards to write, presents to buy and wrap, will it all get done? Of course it will, it always does, and I will enjoy every minute of it. I am a lover of all things Christmas. I think my love of Christmas stems from a very happy childhood, where I was the ‘baby’ of the family and consequently, very spoiled. Not just at Christmas, I hasten to add. Actually I was a bit of a BRAT, there I’ve admitted it. My long suffering sisters were usually the ones at the sharp end of my tantrums when I didn’t get my own way. Fortunately for me, they are now my two closest and best loved friends. Christmas always started with Mass at the beautiful St Edwards Church in Windsor and then we would spend the rest of the holiday with Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. Lots of games and lots of laughter are the two things I remember most about those Christmases, oh, and everyone doing their party piece, especially Dad, who’s rendition of Paddy McGinty’s Goat always had everyone in stitches. I still go over to Windsor for Mass at Christmas, it’s like going home and the only way to start the celebrations.

In the sewing room this week I have made a start of a few Christmas bits and pieces, the first project I completed was an Advent calender. This was made from a pre-printed fabric panel bought from www.ladysewandsew.co.uk . It has all the pockets marked out ready to cut and these are then top stitched and sewn on the corresponding squares on the panel. the whole thing is backed with wadding and a backing fabric, then quilted. I must say it was a lovely thing to do and the pockets are going to be filled with chocolate coins and little gifts for my sister to give to her great grandson at the weekend.

Joshua’s Advent calender

I have also been making some hanging hearts, these are made from woven ribbon (there are some lovely ribbons in the shops at the moment). The hearts are made fom a six inch square of the woven ribbon and are backed with a toning fabric, before being stuffed with polyester. The edge is then trimmed with a complementary chord. The selection of ribbons I used are from my local cake decorating shop, Pipedreams in Eton Wick, www.pipedreams-sugarcraft.co.uk .

Ribbon hearts

Next Saturday I am running a workshop at Pipedreams, ‘ Four from One’ where I will be showing how to cut four small Christmas cakes from one and decorating them in four different styles, looking forward to that, sample cakes almost complete so will post some pictures on here soon. For anyone local, there are still a couple of places available on the workshop. If you are interested, ring Frank on 01753 865682.

Well, it is now 37 days to Christmas so enjoy your preparations and have fun.

Jenny xxx

 

Friends and Family, how lucky am I?

This weekend saw a gathering of  family and friends at a reception to celebrate our son’s wedding, which had taken place in Cyprus in August. There were eleven of us lucky enough to enjoy the sunshine in Chatel Keouy, and the lovely poolside ceremony, conducted by a wonderful retired vicar from Devon, so it was great that so many more were able to enjoy the celebrations in Cambridge. Family members travelled from far and wide to be with us on Saturday and Colin and his lovely bride, Allyson, appreciated this. It was a very happy occasion with lots of laughter and a few tears (mostly down to the Father of the Bride’s lovely speech). We are delighted that Allyson’s family have happily embraced Colin into their fold, they obviously love him, just as we love Allyson. A bonus was that my darling OH had recovered sufficiently to be able to join in the celebrations, although I didn’t manage to get him on the dance floor, but those of you who know him will not be surprised as he doesn’t need an appendectomy to find an excuse not to dance LOL.

During the week leading up to the celebrations there was a hot line between home and Cambridge as all the arrangements were checked and double checked to make sure nothing was forgotten. Despite this busy time, I managed, on most evenings,  to make time to visit a sewing forum that I belong to, (SHORTCUTS TO SEWING  http;//www.serifwebresources.com). It is a mine of information about all things sewing, but more than that, it is a place where like minded people can chat and friendships are made. The lovely folk on this forum have been so kind with words of comfort and support when OH was in hospital and sent good wishes when I went to Cyprus for Colin and Allyson’s wedding. We all share our various craft projects on the forum and this inspires others to have a go. There is one member in particular who is an inspiration to so many of us, as her work is beautiful but she is always quick to encourage all of us in our efforts. Her machine embroidery is delightful and it was seeing some freestanding lace that Mabel had done, that made me think I could have a go at making some little lace bowls for the wedding favours to go in.

Lace bowl with personalised packets of Love Heart sweets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had mentioned our wedding celebrations on the forum, and on Saturday morning a little package arrived from Mabel. Inside was the the most beautiful lace wedding angel, complete with ribbons and wedding charms, all sewn by this wonderful lady. I have never met Mabel face to face, but feel that through our mutual love of crafts, and the wonders of the Internet, I have a found a real friend. As I said before…….family and friends, how lucky am I?

My wedding angel, a gift from a friend.

 

 

 

 

Blue sky thinking.

This morning I woke up to a beautiful clear blue sky and my SECOND thought for the day was ‘what a wonderful day for flying’. Why my second thought you may ask……..well  my first thought had been ‘I wonder what sort of night OH has had’. This morning we should have been flying out to  Las Vegas for a long anticipated holiday but my poor OH is confined to a hospital bed having had emergency surgery for a burst appendix! Needless to say, we are both very dissapointed but, equally, very grateful that this had happened while we were still on home ground. I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to be so far from home when a loved one is taken ill. Staying in a hotel would lose all of its magic under such circumstances, no matter how luxurious. I’m sure the medical attention would be first class and we have insurance to cover the cost, but here we have a wonderful network of family and friends who are supporting us and no amount of insurance could pay for all their love and kindness!

My darling man is still very much in the early stages of recovery, very sore and still with tubes attached, for pain relief, antibiotics etc. but, as I sat by his hospital bed this evening, I was thankful that we were eight miles from home not five thousand!

We are  already talking about when we can re-schedule our holiday, so  we can start looking forward to it over again. When we eventually get there we will appreciate it so much more, after a week that has been a roller coaster ride of so many emotions. As my son said tonight, ‘the sky will be just as blue when you do go mum’ and I’m  sure he’s right!!!

Jenny xx

Cox Green Craft and Horticulture Show

Today I ventured into the world of competitions, with some very surprising results.

Our local community centre hold an annual craft and horticulture show and I have always been along to gaze in wonder at the exhibits, promising myself that when I retired, I would, in the spirit of community, enter some items myself.

I picked up the schedule back in July and started planning my competition entries. Should I go for a fruit cake, or maybe a Victoria sandwich cake. And the handicraft section………knitting, crochet, embroidery, lace…….. some serious decisions needed to be made. I changed my mind so many times but the entry form had to be in by September 4th. and it was with much relief that I handed mine in to the centre office, now I couldn’t be indecisive any more.

This morning dawned, bright and sunny, entries had to be in place for judging by 10.15.am. so off I went with my selection of craft and food in the boot of my trusty Micra. At this point I should perhaps divulge the choices I had agonised over and decided upon. Two exhibits in the art section, a portrait in any medium and a little watercolour in the ‘newcomers’ section. The portrait was a pencil drawing of my darling dad and the watercolour was of a water mill. Next were three photos, going into the photographic sections; 1.a  moving subject, 2. a seasonal theme and 3. a building. My moving subject was a bee hovering on a chive flower, the seasonal one was of sweetpeas in the rain (very typical of this summer) and the building was of the Freedom tower rising out of the 9/11 ashes in New York. Next on to handicraft; a bag made in any medium and a knitted item were the two catagories I chose in this section. My bag was a traditional Japanise knot bag which I had machine embroidered, and the knitted item was a little shrug that I had made ready for my forthcoming holiday. Finally the domestic section, three entries in this one, a plate of six cupcakes, a machine made loaf and a pot of lemon curd. My cupcakes were flavoured with some of the lemon curd that I had made for my second entry in this catagory, and I decorated them with lemon buttercream and little sugar butterflies. The loaf was a five seeded white loaf, a favourite of my other half. There were already a lot of entries in place when I carefully set my bits and pieces out and some of the work, particularly in the handicraft section, was really stunning.

All safely delivered, back home to to some housework and wait for the show to open at 2.30pm.

At just after 2.30 I made my way back to the centre, a little nervous, how would I feel if I hadn’t recieved any nice judges comments? Surely at least one of my entries would have got a third, or even a highly commended? But what if……..? Oh well I would put it down to experience and try again next year.

The first area I went to was the photographic section, lots of entries and sure enough, none of my photos were placed, I have to admit, the winning entries were exceptional. On to the art section, wow, my portait had come second with a lovely comment from the judge who felt I had ‘captured the expression of my subject with sensitivity’. At this point I would have gone away a very happy bunny. However the best was yet to come, my little water colour also came second, my bread got a third, my knitted shrug was highly commended, the lemon curd got a first and the cupcakes also got a first. The icing on the cake (literally), my lemon cupcakes won the silver Millenium Cup for the best exhibit in the domestic section! I get to keep this for a year so must  get some silver polish next time I am shopping.

MY WINNING CUPCAKES

All in all a very exciting day and I think my OH is just a little bit proud of me!

Jenny xx

 

Hello world!

This is my first post, so let me start by saying welcome to  Cobbie’s little corner of the world!

I have long intended joining the world of bloggers but didn’t really know where (or how) to start. A chance comment during a conversation with my nephew, last week, led to this blog being set up for me through his Bendy Bamboo site, thank you Matt .

I hope some of my musings will be of interest to like minded people, those of you who enjoy cake decorating, sewing, knitting, crochet and various other crafts, as well as an life in general. I look forward to sharing these things with you and hope you will feel free to comment on my blogs.

Jenny xx