Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Embroidered Hanging Pumpkins

I finished a whole lot of these pumpkins.  This batch is for the quilt show that I will be selling at at the end of September.  Any left after that will be added to my shop and I will likely end up making more since I sold lots of these last year and sold out.  This year I have made some with embroidery and some with little appliqué flowers and leaves.  When I display them at the quilt show I use a metal jug filled with tall branches that I harvest from my tree.  I hang the little pumpkins from those branches.  It adds some good height to the table in my booth and the pumpkins look great hanging there.  

Yesterday I started on some tiny Christmas stockings.  These are for my booth at the quilt show too.  Again, I made a few of these for the show last year and sold them all.  I then made lots for my shop and this blue one is the only one I had left.  They are really small, perfect for a candy cane or a rolled up dollar bill!  I'm making them in bright, mostly non-traditional colors. Last year, a customer bought a blue one and a pink one and used them to announce the sex of her baby!  Such a cute idea.  I'll be sewing these little stockings today whilst watching The Big Blue Live on PBS.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How Does Anything Grow?

Today we drove to the ranch where my daughter takes riding lessons.  It was 105F outside and incredibly windy, even more so than usual.  The hot wind was stirring up the dust and sweeping it along the valley, depositing it in a thick film over everything.  I totally get why cowboys in the old wild west movies always wore bandanas.  I could have used a bandana today.  

On the way, we did slow down and take a picture of the pumpkin field but the leaves are, unbelievably, still green and hiding the pumpkins!  How is that possible?  Look how dry the ground is.  The pumpkins are going to be really big ones.  You can't tell from these photos but they are the ones you can hardly get your arms around and pick up.  The ones you can carve into elaborate designs for Halloween.  I love pumpkins.  

Usually I park in the shade at the barn and sit in the car and sew while my daughter rides.  I don't run the engine because I don't want to spook the horses.  Even when it is hot outside, it is usually ok in the shade with all the windows open to catch the gusting afternoon breeze.  Today I tried because I have those little hanging pumpkins I'm enjoying working on but it was unbearable.  Eventually I gave up and went and hung out inside the barn and watched the lesson from there.  I think it was even hotter in there but I made myself useful getting drinks of water!

Seriously, I think this horse has a magical, invisible unicorn horn.  He is so beautiful!  

I'm still working on these.

"Red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning....." right?  Ever the optimist!  I'm so looking forward to crisp, cold Fall mornings. 


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pumpkin Season

There are pumpkins beginning to appear everywhere now.  Over the last few weeks, on our way to the stables where my daughter rides, we have been watching a field of pumpkins slowly ripen.  Last week there were lots of large, mostly orange globes peeking out from the foliage. I'm guessing this week, the leaves will have died back a bit and we'll be able to see the pumpkins in all their glory, enjoying their "TaDa!" moment.  I'll take a picture.  

I've been sewing pumpkins this week, lots of them.  Last year, I sold lots of these little hanging pumpkins both at the quilt show and in my shop.  They are a nice project to work on.  I love the cheerful, warm colors and I use lots of hand dyed felt for these with different woven patterns and textures.  I get all my hand dyed wool from this etsy shop.

As well as these embroidered pumpkins, I'm doing some with little appliqued flowers and leaves and I'm liking how they are progressing.  Such happy colors, sigh!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I'm Still Sewing

It's been a while since I've posted any sewing pictures but I've still been sewing!  I finished off the hedgehog and antique clock pincushions that I started during my England trip and I've been working on some UFO pincushions............keep reading!  

It's no secret that I enjoy science fiction and as I was thinking about objects that are round (my pincushions are round and I'm always looking for things that could make a good pincushion design) it hit me, UFOs are usually round.  It was hugely entertaining looking for UFO images on the internet and I passed a happy hour or two searching and sketching.  After photographing my UFO pincushions I absolutely could not resist playing with the photos in my favorite photo editing software Picmonkey.  These photos are my tribute to all the wonderful UFO and alien sighting photos out there.  

I'm saving these pincushions for the quilt show in September.  If I have any left after that, I will list them in my shop.  As I begin to think about the quilt show, I have been looking at the pincushions I have and what I still need to add.  

Monday, August 17, 2015


It's good to be home after being in England for about 5 weeks.  I've been home for nearly two weeks now and it has taken that long to settle back down.  I was clobbered by jet-lag and a puffy foot that wouldn't feel better and necessitated an ultra sound to make sure there was no blood clot.  There wasn't and it's better now.  

I've come home to a California that is hot, sun bleached, and dusty dry.  For the last few days we've been gently covered by a layer of smoke from the fires burning north of San Francisco.  The particles filter the sunlight and obscure the hills on each side of us.  We're told to stay inside if we are sensitive to it but it is over 100f and not pleasant to be outside anyway!  

I woke at 3am this morning, too hot and unable to go back to sleep.  At 7.30am, I'm showered and eating breakfast outside by the pool trying to decide whether to read the copy of Country Living that arrived on Saturday or  my book.  The book wins out, "Garlic And Sapphires - The Secret Life Of A (restaurant) Critic In Disguise" by Ruth Reichl , and I enjoy my greek yogurt with local berries and figs whilst reading about Reichl's experiences in New York.  Soon it will be too hot to be out here and I will head back indoors and start my Monday.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

An Unexpected Fiber Arts Wall Hanging

This week, I went with my sister and nieces to a community coffee morning event at the village hall.  It happens every week and is a fund raiser.  As we sat with our tea and scones at a round table covered in a pretty cloth, my eye was drawn to this fiber arts wall hanging.  I admit, I was surprised to find something so interesting casually displayed in this tiny rural village hall.  

I should think the piece is about 3 feet by 5 feet and it must contain just about every form of fiber art you can think of.  It is playful and vibrant and I spent ages being entertained by the creativity of each individual square.  I can imagine the love, care and smiles that went into each one!  I love the knitted title.  

The morning took another unexpected turn when someone set up a table selling homemade bread.  We bought this gorgeous loaf of pesto and stinging nettle bread.  We ate it for dinner with baked camembert and a glass of red wine.  It was delicious, with pesto swirled through the loaf and specks of green leaves.  I'm not sure if the pesto was made with stinging nettles or whether the nettles were mixed in separately, whatever, it was good.  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Curry, Sewing And A Trip Down Memory Lane

I really should be going to sleep as it is late and I have to be up at 4am tomorrow but I wanted to write first.  I am currently in the Midlands with my sister.  My husband and I lived in this area when we were first married, 27 years ago and I have to admit it was a bit of an odd feeling driving through the pretty villages and seeing signs to familiar villages and towns.  I've spent most of this weekend at a water sports lake watching my sister, her partner and one of my nephews wake board.  

I had a great time out on the boat, generally getting in everyone's way and trying not to get too wet!  I love going fast!  I refused the gentle pressure to don a wet suit and have a go.  Excuse me, I'm from California, it is not warm enough here for me to remove clothing and get wet!  It was pretty awesome watching my 15year old nephew doing tricks on his board though.  And he did them with the biggest grin you ever saw permanently fixed on his face.  

When I wasn't on the boat, I was sitting on the shore trying to keep out of the cold wind and do some sewing.  The wind made it a challenge.  I had to weigh things down to stop them blowing away.  I've been working on some Union Jack pincushions as I know I have an order for some coming up when I get home.  I also finished some Happy Hedgehog pincushion tops and am currently working on some more Clock Face pincushions.  Appropriately, when we were driving home late on Friday night after a really wonderful curry dinner in a neighboring town, we stopped the car to watch a little hedgehog scurry across the road!  

I'm holding tight to these to stop them blowing away!

Good curry is something I miss in California.  I make curry sometimes but I've never found anywhere good to eat out.  This part of the Midlands has always had a large Indian population and lots of great restaurants.  I used to teach in an inner city school in the city of Leicester and my class was made up of predominantly Hindu and Muslim students.  The mothers of these students would often bring in food for me to try and one time brought a sari in to dress me in!  Tomorrow morning it is back to my sister's house, leaving here at 4.30am....I'm going to need some tea!


Friday, July 17, 2015

Tea, Flowers And A Quick Walk At The Beach

One of the things I love about being in England is being able to get a good cup of tea pretty much anywhere you go.  At home in California, when I ask for tea with "truly, just a splash of milk", I generally end up with a disgusting cup of tea scented milk and have to ask for them to remake my drink.  There is one Starbucks I go to, where the Barista knows how I like it, but she only gets it because she has a family member who lives in England!  But here in England, no explanations are necessary.  If I ask for milk in my tea, it either comes in a cute little jug for me to add or is added by the Barista who instinctively knows the right amount - brilliant.  

Also, everywhere you go there are tea shops, cafes and coffee shops that serve good tea and coffee.  They are in galleries, museums, side streets, department stores, cathedrals and castles, on street corners and railway stations.  If you visit a historic site you can almost guarantee there will be a nice little cafe with great tea, coffee and homemade snacks - think delicious cakes and scones, soups and salads.  Why the U.S. can't get it's head round this idea and do the same is beyond me.  It seems so obvious.  

So the other day it was raining (again) and I headed out with my in-laws to the local Garden Center, not for plants, but for coffee, or tea in my case.  

Can you tell I'm drawn to bright colors?!

After enjoying a great cup of tea, we dodged the rain showers and went for a quick walk by the sea.  This is where I grew up.  I played tennis on the beach, swam and body boarded here.  I spent Charles and Diana's wedding day on this beach because I was a teen and sick of all the fuss!  The beach is perfect for kids, it's very shallow and the water is safe.  It looks lovely when the sun shines and is beautiful in winter storms when the wind and high tide drive the waves over the protective seawall. 

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for a nice cup of tea......