Adventures, book review, hand stitched, home sewing, sewing

How was your weekend? …. Monday 3 August.

Stitch meditation

My weekend began on Friday, listening to the marvellous Cathy Hay on Youtube they had lots of videos – CoCoVid, an on-line, interactive event put on by the members of CosTube during the weekend that would have been Costume College there was a fantastic video about having the confidence to dress differently, which you can watch until next weekend. It reminded me of how much I loved to dress up – so I donned my lovely lemon dress beautiful straw hat and went shopping in the local town. It made me feel great.

I am trying to save more this month – however I forgot the Library was opening later and so whiled away the half an hour wait in a charity shop. It is always amazing that when you aren’t looking for things you seem to find some lovely items so that by the end of my twenty minutes I had some well needed new clothes.

The reason this is in the charity shop is that the front section has distorted out of shape leaving the front gaping. So the buttons not only added another element, it fixed the gape!

I also picked up this gorgeous silk monsoon dress which is too big for me – with a few minor adjustments (a bit of hand stitching left to be done) I had managed to alter it to fit .. will show you when it is finished.

I just returned in time to catch Jenny Raymont’s on line class for machine embroidery – it would have been the festival of Quilts this weekend too, so there were quite a few on line courses to choose from. I really enjoyed doing this through zoom, it worked really well and I was still in the comfort of my own home – an introverts delight! I didn’t do the landscape but instead practised some leaves… I have another revamp in mind and wanted to get some practise in.

I have been practising making bricks… bread this one came out really well – there is an real art to getting the bread to rise properly – this is a joy that it came out bread shaped, but it is still heavier than a shop bought loaf.

I picked up these lovelies on the way home from the shops, they fell on my head! There is a plum tree overhanging a garden fence and they are all over the pathway. In no time I had a small bag full and I went home smiling, last week I purchased some exactly the same from a local farm shop.

Despite making over 50 masks, friends and family! – E did not have one and I was wearing a early prototype that didn’t quite work. It was time to make a couple of masks for us – I think the fabric is quite appropriate don’t you think?

Sunday was set aside to make a dress and having seen this book on lovely and grateful’s Blog, I chose to listen to it as I stitched away. It is thought provoking, I had never realised white privilege existed and if nothing else I shall take that away from listening to this, but it is fascinating to see life from another perspective. Listening to this book rather than reading it is like having the author in the room with you, but I found I needed time to absorb the story. I am still going through it slowly, but while it is profound and disturbing, it is hard to find a safe place to explore these discussions. . What this is is a window into the experience of Eddo Lodge and the community around her and how the system has stacked the odds against ethnic people. Yes it includes the story of the slave trade, but recent events race protests that happened in my lifetime, including the Brixton riots, the death of PC Blakelock and the appalling injustice that protected the killers of Steven Lawrence: these things happened in my lifetime and it knocks my faith in the system. It is interesting to hear about someone else’s life experience of living in England, one that varies from my own and one that I can recommend reading.

I live in an area that is 90% white, my own experience of equality and diversity is through workplace training – one course I had to attend in the early 1990s began with a statement -if we were to say anything that was deemed offensive we would be disciplined for it or maybe even lose our jobs. I wish Eddo Lodge had been there instead. There is so much to say about this book, but one of the key things is that finds me in wholehearted agreement with the author is that we are all afraid of discussing this openly, honestly and in public. While fear remains, we are never going to find a way forward.

So what can I do? I can steer a path away from the ethnic bias that is my YouTube channel list, I can move aside to explore other voices and other stories separate from my own. I can strive – not to judge others, be that the person walking towards me on the street or the mother in the supermarket with the screaming toddler.

Here is the finished dress – it is always wonderful to stitch and have something to show at the end of the day. Its the same Kate Dress pattern I have used a lot – the style suits me so well – this time I chose to make a long ankle length version in a drapey stretch cotton.

Have a good week

heart and home, weekend

Easy like Sunday Morning – Sunday Sevens ≠1

Southampton Art Gallery

I have been enjoying the Sunday Sevens of other bloggers and thought i would join in the fun. Its the idea of Natalie at Threads and Bobbins (What a fab site!). It gives such a lovely glimpse into peoples lives – I really enjoy catching up with Sunshine and Celadines, Making and Marking and Bekki at Dartmoor Yarns – its the blogging equivalent of peeking over the garden fence!

Wasn’t it a fantabulous weekend thankfully the Sunshine Returned! Saturday I went on my usual 6 weekly visit to see my Son in Southampton, he manages a Hairdressing Salon and we combine his hairdressing talents and a general  catch up – usually ending with a lovely meal or we head off dancing together. Southampton is my home town and it is always interesting to see it with new eyes. I arrived in good time to be able to visit the Art Gallery – this fountain is situated right at the entrance – I remember playing in it as child!

Rhinestone Rhino

This sparkling creation was in the lobby, it was full size!

Not quite a disco ball!

getting to grips with the Aga

We have been in our new home a month, I have always wanted a home with an Aga, and this little beauty is living up to my dreams. Whenever we enter the house, it feels so warm and welcoming. There are four ovens, warming, slow cooking, baking and roasting. The top has a warming plate, a boiling plate and a simmering plate.

Sunday Baking

On Sunday morning, I thought I would  try out the baking oven – I had been told that they are great for cake making, as the ovens are a very even heat. We used a thermometer to get the balance right and the baking oven stays about 180, the simmering oven is about 140 and the roasting oven is about 210.

new scales

I found these beautiful vintage scales in a charity shop – they came complete with a full set of weights. They are perfect for me as usually cook in imperial measurements – pounds and ounces -just call me an old fashioned girl.

Victoria Sandwich

We get our eggs from a wonderful local organic farm – I love seeing all the chickens roaming freely in the fields.

The large eggs are often double yolkers – all three were so I reduced the eggs in the recipe,  they are

a wonderful deep yellow.

weekend reading

Cakes in the oven – it was time for a cuppa,

Using a whistling kettle takes me back to my childhood days, long before electric kettles were the norm.

The warming hob is the perfect place for the teapot – it stays at the perfect temperature for a good second or third cuppa.

I caught up with a little weekend reading, while the cakes baked.

Country living is one of my all time favourites – the photography is blissful I often cut up the pictures and use them for vision boards or inspiration.

Victoria Sponge

 In no time the cakes were cooked – they seemed to bake evenly with no soggy bottoms!

tea and cake

A slice or two to check the cake was ok – Mr D enjoyed his slice.

The golden caster sugar gives it a caramel colour, and the flavour is more rounded, I just use a bit of raspberry jam.

unpacking the studio

We are moving in gradually – the studio shelves have arrived so I spent some time unpacking

studio shelves

In no time at all the shelves were full! might need some overflow storage!

winter flowers

There were a few empty flower containers – so i decided to pot up some winter pansies

winter pansies

They are such pretty flowers – I think violets are my favourite they vary in colour from yellows to purples.

my crop

My gardening skills won’t be risking our veg box delivery – this is the sum total of my tomato crop!

cupcake welcome

My lovely daughter and son in law popped round for lunch – she made us some welcome home cupcakes!

a relaxing swim

I am enjoying our lovely pool – ending the working day with a swim is divine we can watch the sun setting over the trees.

time for a soak

Then it is time for a good book and a good soak, just in case I am not wet enough!

Have a lovely week.

ttfn x

Adventures, heart and home

Weekend Adventures, Markets and Theatres

Isn’t waking up on a Sunday morning blissful? A whole day stretching ahead with no demands on my time or appointments to keep. Right now I am still tucked up in bed, laptop resting on knees, dog curled at my feet, (his peaceful snoring is somehow mediative) and a cup of herbal tea within reach.


Mr D cooked all day yesterday, while the sun shone brightly, his culinary efforts for us to wander off and picnic down by the river today. While the sun has to penetrate the grey clouds, we are resolute to  but perhaps in the shelter of the car!

Last week I spent a heavenly long weekend in the Cotswolds – the weather was glorious and Broadway was teeming with tourists! Spring is not far away! It’s good to get away from the flat and work for a while; the dog enjoys the walled garden of our little cottage and his freedom to meander in and out without being escorted at all times!

We travelled further to Birmingham to visit friends on the Saturday and I had the pleasure of wandering the rag market where I bought some fantabulous lace and trimmings – the jewelled colours suggestive of Indian origins. There was a hodgepodge of jostling stalls selling fabric, jewellery, hosiery, bags, clothing and kitchenware it was a cacophony of bustle and banter.

Mr D revelled in the food market, while I took in the sights of a busy ethnic emporium: huge calf feet, chickens that still resembled the original creature heads and and feet intact, ( I admit to a certain horrific fascination!) as well as authentic Chinese food, packchoi, noodles and odd looking crackers.  I loved the bustle and hustle of the shouts from the traders as they offered their wares. How much richer is this experience than our supermarket isles.  The fish counter was a sight to behold! Glassy eyes and open mouthed fish, their scales sparkling among the beds of ice, prepared and ready for cooking.  Mr D bought two  Tuna fish steaks, served to him quickly and efficiently – delicious the next day still tasting of the sea!

We satisfied the hunger all the food has created,  in a nearby noodle bar.  I felt as if we had travelled to a distant country; this was not familiar Chinese take away food or the elegance of a Chinese Restaurant, rather the flavour of street food,  steamy bowls of soup, floating wonton noodles and scalding green tea in plastic beakers. The place was packed – with lots of Chinese – enhancing the sense of authenticity, while the tiny waitresses weaved efficiently between the tables, balancing huge steaming bowls of food in deep reds, pale yellows and fluffy white. I ate a whole dish of pack choi – glazed in salty oyster sauce, it feels like soul food, and sublimely delicious.

Boy in the Striped Pyjamas 1

I have been to the theatre three times in 10 days! My dear friend N and I went to see the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas at Chichester Festival Theatre. The Book was so cleverly written – a perspective of the holocaust from a naive ten year old boy, has enabled school children everywhere to understand a little of this dark period in history. It is called a fable – a tale to include a warning – an apt description.

I was intrigued to see how the play would retain the strength of the boy’s narrative on the stage;  it was very well done.  The bleakness of the location was creatively accomplished – the clack of  typewritten script introducing various elements of the story together with black and white projections of trains, and ghettos.

The genius of Boyne’s writing remained in the stage play, the boy referred to an important man called ‘The Fury’ and the bleak home was in a place called ‘Out with’  The book itself never confirms what it is all about, rather allows the reader to make their own conclusions.

Boy in the Striped Pyjamas 2

The two young actors were outstanding, the main character in particular was on stage throughout the whole play, (to maintain the story form his perspective) – he never faltered. The  brilliantly played adults slow unravelling at being in such a difficult position was at the periphery of the story, as it would be in the eyes of child.

A sad, multi layered  bleak tale – one that did leave me a little tearful.  A fable indeed,   the hope that we will tear down the walls we build – to protect us from … the muslims, immigrants, you name it. (its all too easy.) The stark warning at the end of the fable “surely this would never happen again’ tolls a loud in my ears. When I taught this book in schools we only had to look at a few newspaper headlines to see how fences and walls are well and truly tall and rigid today.

A night of Dirty Dancing

I went to see A Night of Dirty Dancing at the Regent Theatre Thursday last, which was an entirely different matter! The young performers put so much energy into the story of Baby and Johnny’s romance. Comic performances and tremendous singing combined to have us laughing and tapping our feet in no time. There was quite a lot of ‘suggestive’ dancing, bare chest and six pack exposure that had my heart racing a little – until horror of horrors I realised they were the same age as my son! (at that point I did feel approximately 100 years old!)  Thankfully the upbeat music, and the dancing soon had me tapping my feet again and we both left the Theatre with beaming smiles!

As we chatted amiably about this and that in the carpark, we watched the actors loading up their van and heading off to the next town. I have to admire these young performers, it must be an arduous and lonely life.

Jeeves and wooster

Mr D and I enjoyed an evening with Bertie Wooster as he told the tale – The Code of the Woosters.

Jeeves is giving us his version of events at Totleigh Towers, when he was despatched to steal a cow-shaped silver jug. The problem is that Bertie has only two actors at his disposal. This leads to a sustained send-up of theatrical conventions with joke props, a bicycle used to propel the revolving stage and lightning costume-changes. The fun reaches its high point when Matthew Macfadyen, who starts as the imperturbable Jeeves, is asked simultaneously to impersonate an overbearing old buffer, Sir Watkyn Bassett, and the unequivocally feminine Stiffy Byng. With equal resourcefulness, Mark Hadfield is required to switch from the imposing Aunt Dahlia to the incipient dictator, Roderick Spode, who comes equipped with a Hitlerian moustache and an extendable fascist mac. (see full review here)

It was hilarious, the comic capers as the two butlers try their best to play a host of characters while at the same time producing great stage setting had me giggling at the off.

Bertie tells his tale, while the story comes to a halt now and then as the limits of the casting gives a moments hesitation and the resulting overcoming of these obstacles are achieved rapidly – I think my favourite was a scene where one actor plays two roles having an argument. It is achieved by him wearing a dress on his right and a suit on his left!

If any of these come on tour near you, they are well worth seeing.

Is that a shaft of sunlight peeping through the bedroom curtains?

Happy Sunday

…. ttfn x

Adventures, daffodils, heart and home, love, pleasure, romance, valentine, weekend

Valentines Weekend in pictures

Bacon Sandwich and breakfast readingThere is something decadent about lazy Saturday mornings, crisp bacon between soft brown bread and a little bit of reading inspiration.Mr D bought this magazine because it had an article about lingerie – he knows I have been researching this subject for a while. I am so blessed to have a man in my life who pays attention to my creativity and encourages me. He bought me a pile of little reading books for Valentines day, short stories that he will read me when we are tucked up in bed!

As well as some beautiful daffodils. I think these flowers should be identified with Valentines day, roses are simply twigs at this time of the year, but the daffodils push through the cold, they are like vases of sunshine – so good at lifting my spirits on a dull February day.

Cross-stitch love 2

I have been playing around with cross stitch, creating these two pieces to be turned into bolsters on our bed, except I realised the material is up in the Cotswolds. I thought it might be a nice gift. I also created a play list on youtube of songs that are special to us – we listened to it cuddled up on the sofa. .. nice.

Portrait picture design

I had this idea for creating personalised portraits about a year ago, its only just come to fruition.

I have a couple of workshops coming up, so needed to concentrate on getting them completed this weekend

Arranging fabric portrait

I love this ‘red bird fabric’ from Eternal Maker – I bought it from memory about the right shade of red to match the frame, thank fully the red was just right.

Fabric portraits

In no time they were done! we can gaze into each other’s eyes, or turn them around if we argue!

Afternoon tea was ready and waiting.

Home made afternoon tea

Smokies, muffins, chocolate cake and raspberry and white chocolate brownies

The chocolate cake was sublime, I am usually the baker but I think Mr D has stolen my crown!

After a walk along the seashore in the glorious sunshine

Heart chocolate souffle

Dinner was sublime, crab pasta followed by heart shaped chocolate raspberry soufflé

Mr D is a delightful cook and a fantabulous man! Breakfast Bagel

Smoked Salmon Bagels with cream cheese for Sunday Brunch

Picking out embroidery colours

More embroidery

Reading papers, relaxing and dog walking.




autumn, heart and home

Weekend doodles, felting and domestic Superwoman!

Getting ready for workshops
Getting ready for workshops

I am doing some needle felting workshops this coming weekend, so I spent some time making sure that the templates and patterns were ready. I am doing a Movember moustache pin workshop at Eternal Maker and it has been great fun making lots of different types of moustaches!

Full moon needle felted picture
Full moon needle felted picture

Needle felting is one of the most relaxing ways to create textile art, there is no sewing you simply push one fibre onto another with a barbed needle. I decided that I wanted to show just how flexible this medium is, so simply played with the fibres until I made this picture. Its like painting with fibre, and so joyous!

I have been doing a little ‘life laundry’ this weekend, it must be in preparation for winter. I spent a happy day clearing out the larder, fridge and freezer. Making lists of what I have and making it easier to find things! It is surprisingly satisfying – giving rise to a domestic superwoman!

Use a plant spray bottle they are far more effective
Use a plant spray bottle they are far more effective

I felt in need of some pretty flowers to compensate for the darkening nights, I bought some lovely cyclamen and house plants, a very pretty african violet and some poor little things being given away because they needed some loving!

While I was there I bought myself a couple of plant sprayers. (you know my love of vinegar) a plant spray bottle is far more effective way to use vinegar effectively. However they were a little boring so I spent a rather blissful half hour creating my own little label using sharpies! I do love the idea that it is a little bottle of magic! Once started though I had to stop myself from brightening up everything I can get my hands on!