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Sunday Sevens 19th August – Almond milk, embroidery and black magic

Roses in rose bowl

It has been a busy week and what weather we are having! Sunny days interspersed with rain it is nice to be back to our normal temperatures and see the grass turning green again!  I’ve escaped the four walls nearly every day this week – friends have been so kind to pop by and take me out for a bit. I am walking on crutches so I am somewhat  of a liability – especially as Thursday was raining cats and dogs – but it has been great to catch up with good friends and be a lady who lunches for a while! I have also been showered with more flowers! I bought this rose bowl in a charity shop some years ago – its crystal and was a bargain for about a fiver. I have used it often as it makes displaying flowers so easy as the grid holds the heads nicely.

mini heart brooch pincushion

We had a family gathering recently I wanted to make something to give as well as the usual gift. As she is a stitcher I decided to make a little heart brooch pincushion. I am always losing pins no matter how many pincushions I have scattered around the craft room – so having a little brooch that travels with me, has been very useful. I love this little print and the flower sat so beautifully framed in the pink felt.

brooch pin cushion

Its tiny, only about 4inches by 2 and a half inches but it came out nicely. Ok, I will admit I got carried away with the embroidery bit – I was watching Bletchley and the story tension was building so I was stitching faster! I crocheted a little border round the edge which seemed to finish it off nicely. I do adore Petra Cotton Perle – it is lovely to embroider with. Thankfully the gift was appreciated – which is always a bonus!

make a wish - dandilion embroidery

It is difficult to capture this little embroidery that hangs above this little heart, it is only 2inches – it is a dandelion head worked over fine organza. When I am eating it looks as if I have captured a lovely seed head in a frame, but photographs just don’t seem to come out right.

Dandilion embroidery

Stitching on such a see through background is more difficult and messy than I hoped, and looking so closely at the embroidery – doesn’t really capture how effective it is when viewed from a distance. It took me less than an hour to do but it really does please me.

moon over soho ben aaronovitch

Moon over Soho is the second book from Ben Aaronovitch – I am delighted to see that there are a few more books already out in this Series.  I have become rather fond of DC Grant, – his sardonic humour is delightful, the police procedure and social commentary makes me giggle. Not to mention the mix of the magical in every day cynical London life.

The 1960s planning department of local council whose unofficial motto was Finishing what the Lufftwaffe started…

Some things never change, and a senior police officer doesn’t organise a costly raid and admit to failure, or violating the Magna Carta, until he has done his best to convict somebody of something.

I think this book follows on very well from the first one – and we are now introduced to our ‘modern day Moriarty’ in the form of a Black Magician who managed to escape this time, so I am keen to read the next book. I don’t think it will be long before we see this series televised – it is that good! although they might need some really good special effects to do it justice.

Oh and the little fox brooch was a tiny fabric illustration of the fox cushions I made for my daughter – I could not let it go to waste so I made it into a little brooch. It is lovely to have time to stitch.

almond milk

I made a huge mistake buying some ‘almond milk’ in the supermarket a few weeks back – It was basically water with a hint of almond – I am shocked they can get away with it – the almonds make up less than 5% of of the overall ‘almond milk’ – making it 95% water. So I decided to make some of my own and it is really easy, tastes delicious and is much cheaper.

Simply place a bowl full of almonds (I used the skin on) in water for 24 hours. The nuts plump up and actually taste nicer!

Then add a teaspoon of vanilla extract a couple of dates (to sweeten it a little) your nuts and water to a blender and blend for about a minute. Push through a fine sieve to remove the skins. (I think I might try the almonds without skins next time!)

I found my almond milk was very thick so I did a few more whizzes using the stuff left in the sieve and additional water. It still looked like milk after the third time and my home made milk was more creamy than the shop bought one. It is nice for cereals but I don’t think it would work in coffee or tea!

Sunday Sevens, your week summed up in photographs,  is the brainchild of Nat at Threads and bobbins – you can find her site here.

Have a lovely weekend.

x

 

 

 

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Sunday Sevens – post op and enchanted convalescence

Post op

I went in to have foot reconstruction surgery two weeks ago; I suffered osteonecrosis when I was a teenager and had radical surgery, over twenty years of dancing and walking around left my foot in a very sorry state – and I am so grateful to the surgeon and hospital staff for their wonderful care. It is marvellous to live in a country where you get the health care you need without having to worry about the costs involved. So I find myself having to sit down and recover – which is harder than I imagined!

yellow gerberas in blue vase

E picked me up from hospital with the most beautiful bouquet of sunny yellow blooms, Gerberas and Yellow Roses to brighten the bedroom and here they are two weeks later still looking bright and beautiful. I love the contrast of the blue vase – and our home has the most delightful French doors that give such a great soft light for photography.

My lovely place

Recovery is so delightful – I finally had time to do a little painting – and what a beautiful spot to paint! I managed two canvasses: one was a still life of tulips I had photographed, once again the combination of cobalt and yellow the other was a fun butterfly using various shades of glitter. I managed to get most of the glitter on the canvass but was a little bit sparkly for a few days!

Sweet peas and summer hat

These delightful sweet peas were a get well soon gift and I am so humbled to receive so much kindness from friends and neighbours. Get well soon cards have overflowed from the mantle shelf to the dresser and visitors have been very frequent and welcome. It has surprised me just how hard it is to be on the receiving end of so much kindness, but it has certainly aided my recovery and made me feel appreciated.

food journal

This lovely bowl of fruit was a welcome thoughtful gift – the apricots were delicious. I am struggling with my diet at the moment – since discovering lactose is triggering my migraines I have been migraine free for a while. However, I forgot to mention it to a dear friend who invited us round for tea and cake – only to discover she had made a full afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones cream and jam! I was too embarrassed to ‘make a fuss’ I thought it would be ok, but the following day I suffered one of the worst bouts of migraine and sickness I had in years. So much so that it has made me frightened to eat a lot of things.  I now keep a food journal which has helped me track some of the foods – but I am still having digestive problems. I know that I was given strong antibiotics during my surgery so have been using probiotics.

chocolate parcel

Of course I could not live without chocolate – and the current trend for Veganism has made this a little easier as well as the food labelling laws. So my weeks of indulgence included a package from Montezuma’s – organic, dairy free chocolate. This is sublime and I find I don’t need to eat that much to satisfy the craving now and then. I’ve since discovered that there is a vegan chocolate factory not far from where I live! So it is on my ‘to visit list’ once I am mobile again.

Little embroidery

I am enjoying enchanting afternoons spent listening to radio plays while stitching – my winter embroidery is coming along – I have also found time to do some much needed hand sewing repairs to my clothes. It is such a calm, meditative practise that is fast becoming my preferred method. The sewing machine is not as accurate nor is it quite so relaxing.

IMG_3075

Mr Barnykins has been really enjoying his time with a wonderful local dog walker – I think she gets far more fuss when she arrives than I do, but then I am here all the time at the moment. I think he is trying to pretend it was someone else who is responsible for the inside snowstorm!

Happy Sunday.

 

Adventures, blogging, simple pleasures, simplicity

Pause for thought…

Notes and flowers

I’ve been blogging since 2014 and have enjoyed the process and hope to continue. I relish the opportunity it gives to be creative with photography as well as looking back on posts and remembering what I did in the last few years.

I have also appreciate connecting with other ordinary folk like me from all over the world; seeing small glimpses of their lives or sharing philosophy of life the universe and everything else in between.

It is delightful, finding posts from people writing blogs – who don’t have thousands of followers. I like that everyone can have a voice and a relatively clean space to in which to express themselves, that has just as much gravitas as big companies or media moguls. It is very tempting at the beginning when you write constantly but get little or no feedback, but I am glad I resisted the pressure to follow 10 steps to get 1000 followers or other such nonsense created by marketeers.

Unlike Facebook -here on WordPress,  I am not bombarded with advertising or false news, and most blogs don’t have flashing adverts and links – that mean I am struggling to find the content among all the other distractions and images.

My generation was the one that saw the invention of the internet and home computing and embraced it, but, like all inventions there are good and bad aspects – it is all about being mindful of what I am doing.

Imagine what you would do with an extra 2 hours a day!

I was challenged recently about my lack of creativity and voiced the same trite defence – I don’t have enough time. It sounded a poor excuse even to my own ears – and it made me decide to sit back and evaluate just how I was spending my time.

It was quite illuminating – what surprised me most is that whenever there was a quiet moment – I would reach for the computer and browse Pinterest. In fact Pinterest was my go to website whenever I had five minutes – it became my reward. But when I added it all up, it amounted to two hours of my day – simply frittered away. Not only that I found that it actually reduced my creativity because I felt pulled from one idea to the next – hopping from green living, gardening, minimalism, sewing, couture… the list goes on. It was responsible for small obsessions and spending that I might not have done. (two months of making inedible bread for example). I felt mentally exhausted by it all.

I went on an internet diet – reducing my time on line down to an hour a day! which in turn- freed up all those spare moments of time. Surprisingly once I had broken the addiction -I began to feel less scattered in my thinking. I also tried to do a little bit of mindfulness – for the odd five minutes. I noticed the feel of bubbles as I washed up, or people watching in the queue of the supermarket, or the taste of my first cup of tea in the morning.

Honeycomb-2

When I think back to my days of being a teenager my head was always full of noticing small details to re-create in my writing – I would people watch for hours making up stories. But that was all before the internet.

Up to now, minimalism has been an interest among many, that I follow on Pinterest, but not something I have been actively engaged in. Although my minimalism board is full of beautiful homes – organised and free of clutter – I seem to be stuck in my ‘research’ phase. I had not considered, up to now, how vital it was to my wellbeing to create ‘headspace’

You would think it would be relatively easy to create this but simple is not that simple.

 

tips for stretch fabrics

Ask yourself, (as I did) when did you last see an ordinary person’s slightly blurry, photograph of their craft on Pinterest? Where are all the individuals like me that create not so pristine if slightly wonky – creations? I also notice that Pinterest seems to have much more advertising which is now not just stationary but moving and flashing. It’s distracting and designed to be. All our time on line is designed to get us to Buy buy buy… there is no way round it. Even facebook now, shows products you might be interested in… that I am beginning to have trouble tuning out.

It is so much harder to move away from the crowd, only because it is now so insidious in our society. Selling and advertising used to be limited to newspapers and magazines, but now its bus stops, petrol stations – shop windows and especially TV. It used to be that you could switch off the sound of the advertising – but now we have product placement in nearly every film or television series.

thumb_IMG_1719_1024

So the only option is to set my own boundaries and most surprisingly of all, keep protecting my ‘white space’.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still a use for Pinterest, facebook and other sites in my life – I just need to place my own boundaries about how I use them so that I am Master of my own fate.

So thank you, WordPress, for this gloriously pristine space, long may it continue.

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Vintage simplicity 5244- Cushion pattern

What a find! this lovely pattern was in a small box in a charity shop in Chichester priced at 4 shillings it pre-dates decimalisation but I think it must be more like a fifties pattern. It was thrilling when I visited the gorgeous thru the looking glass and discovered a modern day version for sale! 
I love the look of the bolster cushion it is just a case of finding time!  As I write the three metre by 90 cm drop lined curtains that are hanging across the door of my studio are looking at me reproachfully waiting to be finished! 
Still no more news on my poorly sewing machine, it needs a new board to run the computer element – but I have my daughter’s machine. It is the second time the motherboard has been replaced, it seems the more complicated things are the more they seem to need repairing. The board will hopefully arrive next week and I will be re-united with my dear friend. In the meantime I am learning how to knit cables – will show you when I am done!
ttfn 

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Small Pleasures

This is the view of my kitchen window sill, I thought I would post it here, because it was while I was doing the washing up last night that the title of this post occurred to me. 

I have been on quite a journey two years ago I was living in a large detached house with a garden and a large art studio, but when I left I spent a year living with other people. It isn’t until you have to cook in someone else’s kitchen that you begin to really appreciate your own. 

I know the view from my window isn’t rolling hills, and my kitchen is a quarter of the size I used to have, but, as I washed the dishes by hand I realised I had learned a good lesson, happiness is found in small pleasures.

I remember a time when I would stack dishes in the dishwasher it would be a chore, but now, I wash my dishes by hand as I don’t have room for a dishwasher, and it has surprised me just what a simple pleasure it is. I am connected to my beautiful things, it is only as I am putting loving care into cleaning my favourite pan, that I remember what a pleasure it is to use it. My plates are very pretty and as I wash them and wipe them clean, I am given a moment of the joy of owning such a charming pattern. I am connected with small things that make me happy. 

We are bombarded with images of large houses and big gardens, but I am happier now in my small flat than I ever was living in that large house. I don’t spend my weekends worrying about the garden, weeding and watering. Yes, I do miss sitting out in the fresh air, but if I really want to do that I can sit in the communal gardens and enjoy them while the gardener cuts the grass. It takes me no more than an hour to clean my flat, but in a large house, it never seemed to get tidy. 

That isn’t to say I don’t miss some things, like having a fresh egg from my own chickens, or having room for a big party, but on the whole, I feel happier and more content that I have in years. 


The larger bottle is de-ionised water that I have collected from my tumble dryer, and the other little bottle is vinegar, the best cleaner by far. Washing up uses less water than a dishwasher, and now because I don’t have a big house to keep clean, I often use my airing cupboard to dry most of my clothes, again, as I hang them to dry, I can appreciate them, rather than throwing them in the dryer. I love pretty bottles, it makes cleaning a pleasure, and it is magical to clean my possessions as I spent a year without them. I do enjoy having appliances that make life easier, but I think we also lose that connection with our possessions. 

More is not always better, some times it is about finding the simple pleasures.