Saturday, November 30, 2013

My wonderful washing machine

Tots 100 & Part Select are running a competition at the moment giving bloggers the chance to win a full house clean and £250 of John Lewis vouchers by telling them about their favourite appliance.

Whilst household appliances are not the most exciting topic of conversation, our washing machine has lead quite an interesting life. Well, for a household appliance at least...

I bought it in 2007 when I was a single girl living in military quarters in Germany. Typical to many German houses it lived in the basement. There was plumbing for a tumble drier too, but I couldn't afford one, so the washing machine had a whole floor to itself - I bet even David & Victoria Beckham's new house couldn't top that!

When we got married, we were posted to Canada and my poor washing machine had to go in to storage for two years as it wasn't the right voltage for North America.

Next, the Army moved us to Cyprus, so we filled in the paperwork and requested retrieval of the washing machine from its warehouse. Across the sea it traveled and arrived one hot August afternoon in southern Cyprus, ready for two years duty washing shorts and swimsuits!

But before we knew it we were on the move again, this time to Northern Scotland and I was pregnant. The washing machine was about to face its toughest challenge yet... no not the cold weather kit or even all the baby clothes, my husband had something far worse planned for it!

One day when our son Theo was a small baby, my husband Jim decided to wash an ancient bright orange dry clean only throw in our washing machine. If you've ever wondered what happens to a dry clean only bed throw in a washing machine, I will tell you now... it disintegrates!!!

So the poor washing machine had its guts filled with thousands of tiny pieces of fabric which clogged up all the pipes and machinery. It was not a happy washing machine and it ground to a halt mid-cycle! As you can imagine my husband was not flavour of the month (I never liked the bloomin' throw he was trying to wash anyway!)

Many cross words were exchanged while we worked out a plan. Eventually he forced open the door and soaked up the deluge of water (a drum full!) with every towel we owned, then he spent several hours cleaning out the insides of the machine before tracking down the spare part to replace the latch on it. I was actually quite impressed he managed it!

So apart from the odd orange bit of fluff working its way out of the machine every now and again, it is still going strong and I think Jim learned his lesson about reading washing labels and I learned mine about underestimating my husband's DIY skills!

This blog post is my  entry into the Tots100/PartSelect ’Love Your Appliance’ competition.

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November's Flickr eye candy

1. Wild Waves pillow, 2. Serentity, 3. d9pfull, 4. tufted, 5. East Head II, 6. Autumn Jewels, 7. Three Gates Gallery stock, 8. Light Harted (Reindeer Light Painting), Hertfordshire, 9. Twinkle block  

I'm still struggling a bit with the new Flickr, but if you can put the navigation issues and the breakdown of community aside, there's plenty of inspiring stuff still to be found. Autumnal landscapes, solid quilts with low volume sashing, light painting creations and interior loveliness. It's good to gather it together once a month and look at it with fresh eyes.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Brit Sewing Thursday Linky (28th November 2013)

This week most of my sewing has been focused on my project for the Doll Quilt Swap. I mentioned last week that I'm really pleased with the partner I have been assigned as she looks lovely in her photo and her images on Flickr and her blog show we have very similar tastes.

I really think having a partner you feel you have common ground with really makes the whole process so much more enjoyable and less stressful! I had a partner in a swap last year who right from the start I knew I would struggle making for and it really took the pleasure out of it.

Anyway, my lovely partner in this swap has expressed a liking for warm colours and this wonky freehand windmill block. So I have been experimenting this week...


The top layout definitely works better, but I'm not sure about the grey low volume fabric, it's just a bit too...  grey! What do you think? And while we are at it, I have a question about swap extras. Have you received any good ones or given any that were well received? I'm always looking for ideas

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And finally, I have had a few questions from new followers about how this weekly linky works, so I thought I'd do a recap...

 (1) Add a link to a recent blog post with sewing/quilting content below using the blue "add your link" button bottom left

 (2) We ask that you use the HTML code in the box above to add the linky badge to your post. It's not compulsory, but it helps readers to find other blogs taking part, so we all benefit.

 (3) No restrictions on linking the same post to other link parties, though those link parties may have their own restrictions of course!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

So here's a funny thing...

When I started working in radio all those eons ago, the naive and optimistic young me thought that as I worked my way up in the industry one of the many perks of the job would be free stuff, but I was wrong.  I did get a few free records (and yes they were largely actually records) and I got a random longlife ready meal sent to me when I did the night shift, but that was pretty much it.

So forgive me if I chuckle a bit at this morning's post...

I got nothing when I was working in mainstream media, but now when I have a small blog, I get a box of personalised crisps with my name on. A lot has changed in twenty years I think, not just the technology to produce stuff like this, but also the question of who makes us buy what we buy.

Have you watched that movie The Jonses? You really should....

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

The shifting sands of East Head

East Head is a sand dune spit at the entrance to Chichester Harbour and right at the eastern end of West Wittering beach. I first visited by boat in my twenties when we'd cadge a lift on whatever floating vessel we could come by, bringing with us ball games and disposable barbecues. I borrowed a sailing boat once, forgot to put the bungs in before we set sail and only noticed when I saw it had sunk in the shallow water where we'd moored it. We got it afloat and made it home just, bailing out all the way.

Later I cycled here, via the small ferry that crosses from Bosham to Itchenor, and had similar mishaps with a puncture and a passing stranger who stopped to help us.

These days we come by car with dogs and a small child and just as my life has changed, East Head is always evolving too, a constantly shifting spit of sand anchored to the mainland by the briefest of hinges. If you look at historical charts you can see how the whole land mass has moved around the clock face over the years, from 3 o'clock in the 1700s to 6 o'clock where it is now.

These places that we return to time and again become markers in our lives, ways to measure the changes while all around us the sands are shifting.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Brit Sewing Thursday Linky (21st November 2013)

So another week has gone by and I am deeply into university research at the moment, so very little sewing has taken place in the last seven days. Fortunately though I do have one of last year's Christmas quilts to share with you. As I mentioned before I had a couple of quilts that I made and didn't post about on the blog, so it's good to finally get round to doing so.

This is a wall quilt that I made for my niece Millie. It was a bit of a last minute make as the wall quilt I originally made her didn't quite fit the bill when I finished it a couple of weeks before Chrsitmas, so I decided to do another. I made it by creating 4 pieced strips from scraps and then sticking them together. All rather haphazard, but remarkably it turned out ok!

Millie's name which I printed from photoshop in a font called Lobster, is rendered in white felt and was attached using Heat N Bond Ultra. The only thing I'd do differently if I could was to use a different fabric for the binding. It works well apart from the bits where the turquoise pigs are visible and a bit distracting.

Here it is on the wall at the head of her bed. The original quilt which I made for her in Christmas 2010 is on the bed, with a less successful one (in my opinion!) from 2011 folded up nearest the camera. It's quite a thing I have started with this girl and quilts!

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

XFactor Pillow Swap sent & received

One of my favourite swaps on Flickr is the brilliant X Factor pillow swap organised by Tiina. Unlike other swaps you don't have to commit to taking part in a round and you don't make for a specific partner, which removes a load of the stress involved.

Instead you make a cushion/pillow to the theme of the round, send a photo in and then after secret voting (which only the Swap Mama knows the results of) you are sent a surprise pillow in the post.

The theme for round 7 was "low volume". This is the pillow I made..

x-factor pillow swap - "Grass green" 

And this is the one I received. A very witty take on the "low volume" theme by Stephanie from Spontaneous Threads...


The really funny thing is that right up until I received the email yesterday from my partner who'd just received my pillow, I hadn't clicked that I'd actually done a straight swap! So Stephanie both made the pillow for me and received the one I made too!

I'm in awe of Stephanie's wiggly quilting. It would never turn out that way if I did it!

The next round which is due on 25th January has the theme of log cabin/text, which is rather funny as Stephanie and I have already managed to cover that between us in this round!  Anyone can take part by requesting to join the group on Flickr.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

South-coast breakfasts : Billys On The Beach

After a summer spent tirelessly searching for the perfect breakfast location, I think this weekend we have come the closest yet...

Billys On The Beach is right on the seafront in Bracklesham Bay. Though the town is only 15 minutes from us, the one and only time I had been there previously was when we got lost driving to the Witterings, and in a nutshell, this is Bracklesham Bay's biggest problem. It's like going out to a nightclub with a supermodel. Though you may wear a winning smile and a stunning dress, no one even notices you are standing next to her.

But we'd read great reviews of Billys online (thank you Tripadvisor) and the website looked promising, so we bypassed the more obvious charms of West Wittering and drove the extra few minutes east to Bracklesham Bay and I'm so glad we did...

The shingle beach was deserted when we arrived just after 9am and we managed a good walk keeping the dogs entertained with the host of unusual smells and the boy and me both entertained collecting flotsam and jetsam. It's one of the best beaches I've found yet for small items of driftwood and washed up treasures.

Inside Billys was light, bright, warm, cosy and bustling. The locals clearly love this place and by 11am they were queuing up for tables. There was a log burning stove in the corner, a beautiful 1960s sea plane model hanging from the ceiling and some inspiring driftwood art on the walls. The menu delivered too! The right mix of breakfast reliables and a few unusual choices.

I had spicy avocado breakfast (with extra sausages,) Jim went for the big breakfast and Theo had eggy bread and maple syrup. For drinks, we tried coffee and hot chocolate, but the orange juice was the easy winner, freshly squeezed and absolutely delicious.

We left with our plates scraped clean, our belly's full and the pleasant glow of having been served well in a fantastic location. Next time you are anywhere along this stretch of the coast, stop by and visit, you won't be disappointed!

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

How's this for a classroom with a view?

I spent yesterday morning doing a textiles class organised by Chichester Harbour Conservancy. The classroom is right on the quay and has amazing views all round the harbour. It used to be a storage facility (what a waste!) but 15 years ago with the help of lottery money it was transformed into a learning facility for schools... and occasionally for grown-ups too.

It was high tide just after I arrived and the water was right up to the quay and the sun was reflecting off it and shimmering on the white ceiling of the classroom. A more inspiring place to work you'd be hard pushed to find!

The course was how to create a harbour scene using fabric and foundation piecing. I've paper pieced before lots of times and I foundation pieced onto temporary backing last month for Teresa's bee blocks, but I've never foundation pieced on to fabric, so it was lovely to be shown new things to do with existing skills.

And did I mention that the teaching, the view and an endless supply of tea and biscuits cost just £16?

My end result was ok, but far more importantly I'm starting to see how it would translate to a larger scale and how it could become a quilt. So that's another thing to add to the to do list! I have a fantasy of creating a really large scale wall quilt for the sitting room in the new house... A fantasy it shall probably remain, but at least I know the principles behind how to do it now.

There's a 2 hour course in February creating art from Flotsam & Jetsam in the same classroom and for £5. Better book a space quick before word gets out!

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

A tale of two chairs...

Earlier this week I opened the door to a delivery man holding an absolutely enormous box. For a moment I stared at him blankly and thought "that can't be for me, I haven't ordered anything that large" but then I realised the contents of the box were actually for me!

Inside was a beautiful Robin Day 675 chair from Case Furniture, my runner's up prize in a competition I took part in in September. Although I missed out on the top prize, it was actually the 675 chair that I had had my eye on all along and in more than one respect it was rather appropriate that it should have been this chair that I won...

Firstly my winning blog post is all about the designer Robin Day and in particular his Polo chairs which we had my childhood kitchen. It was those yellow plastic Polo chairs that inspired me to buy my own yellow plastic chair about 15 years ago, and it's sat at my desk ever since...

However, as much as I love it, as soon as I started my Graphic Design course it became painfully (literally) apparent that sitting on woven plastic for a good length of time is not comfortable. My 675 chair came to the rescue just in time and I'm absolutely delighted with it. Thank you Case Furniture!
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Friday, November 15, 2013

Golden days

Some things you can never plan to turn out as well as they do.... On Wednesday I was invited back to my old school to talk to the pupils about working in radio. My old school is 10 minutes from my sister's house. My sister's two children had an inset day on the same day. So they all got to spend the day together and Theo helped keep his cousins entertained while they were off school.

They baked, drew pictures, threw leaves, watched tractor videos, bumped down the stairs (a novelty for a boy who lives in a bungalow) and laughed. Despite the age difference, these two are Theo's greatest friends and his biggest fans.

And my time back at school? Lets just say this, I had forgotten what a hard audience teenagers can be! A sea of stoney faces devoid of questions. It's hard to know which one of us had a more exhausting day.

And thank you to my sister for taking so many wonderful photos!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Brit Sewing Thursday Linky (14th November 2013)

So, a few bits to show you this week. First of all November's FQR Bee blocks for Teresa. She asked for scrappy HST. Here they are in their scrappy glory before being paired with their white halves...

 And here they are complete...

Secondly another complete log cabin block for the dog bed. I could have sworn I only needed six at the beginning of this exercise, but now I've laid them down on the existing bed, this seems rather optimistic!

I've also had my (secret) partner for the Doll Quilt Swap on Flickr assigned today and I'm delighted to see that we have really similar tastes in designs and fabrics, so it's going to be a pleasure making for her... more on that next week.

And finally, I did promise you a look at another of last year's wall quilts, but I haven't photographed it yet, so you'll have to wait another week to see it, but what's another week between friends!

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