Blog Archive

The Turn of the Year

Hello friends!  Here we are again at the end of one year and the beginning of another, always a very poignant evening, I think.  Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I wish you the very best.  How was your Christmas? Ours was absolutely wonderful!  My daughter was home for a week and it was so lovely to have both my 'children' here.  DD quickly got to work in the kitchen, making her signature Gingerbread People!

We took our Christmas trip to Betty's, the Ilkley branch this time, and spent a while admiring their beautiful window display.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch in their tea rooms and took some treats home for Christmas.

Christmas day itself began, as it always does, with everyone piling into our room to open Christmas stockings.  Then we went downstairs to a log fire already blazing (thanks, husband!) and a fireside breakfast.  Then it was presents! So many lovely things exchanged, we were quite giddy! Lunch prep followed that, then lunch itself, a board game, and a little gin and tonic ;)

Christmas night we watched 'Call the Midwife' and I cast on a new project with one of my presents from my son, Addi circular needles.  I am making the Snow Hat from the Rowan book 'Winter Warmers' (an old book but I excitedly found a copy in a charity shop).  I am using some of the Rowan 'Lima' from my stash (why, oh why did Rowan discontinue this fabulous yarn???!)

The fabulous days of 'Betwixtmass' ran day into precious day and we pottered, ate, played games, watched films, and took walks.  

All too soon DD had to go back to London and boy, do we miss her!

Today we met my old school friend who was in this neck of the woods visiting relatives, and we took a bracing walk along the beach at Southport with our husbands and dogs!  It was fabulous walking and talking and blowing away the cobwebs.  

DH and I stopped for a pub lunch on the way home and this evening, after dinner, we played Quirkle - a great game, easy to learn, a challenge to master!  Daisy sat on my lap, taking it all in.

In less than an hour it will be 2019.  A new year of blank pages, ready to be filled with new experiences, laughter, chatter, creative projects, friendship and love.  

2018 was certainly an eventful year in this household, with retirement, a wedding, a new job and home for my daughter, and a new professional level for my son at work.  I have been blessed with so many new readers of my blog, and I thank each and every one of you for taking the time to visit, read, and comment.  You make my heart sing.  

I hope the year brings good things to you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing my creative journey with me.  It wouldn't be the same without you.

With much love, thanks, and good wishes to you all.

Donna x x 

Christmas Projects

Hello my friends!

Well, with Christmas less than a week away, I wanted to show you some of the projects I have been working on!  The greatest thing about retirement is more time to spend with DH, DD and DS and my lovely friends, and also time to PLAY at sewing, instead of just making things because I need them, such as clothes (the alternative would be rather chilly, and probably somewhat illegal...)

I showed you a few things last time, but I have now finished a set of six dinner napkins, using designs by Anita Gooddesign, which I buy from Lord's Sewing Centre.  These are all from the set 'Sunbonnet Sue's Christmas':

I am really enjoying exploring machine applique, as it is just so much fun!  Little pieces of quilting cotton combined with rayon embroidery thread make for such intricate results.

I was a little sad when I had finished the napkins, so I looked around for something else to applique and decorated a bath sheet for DD to use this Christmas (she's coming home!!  Yay!!!)

It's DD and I to a 'T' (just kidding!)  These owl designs are by Designs by Juju

Next I wanted to make a gift for my friend's dog.  Our doggies exchange little Christmas gifts, and Daisy thought Bella would like a towel with her name on, so here it is!

Again, the applique alphabet shown above is from Designs by Juju.

I've virtually finished DD's socks for Christmas, and I decided last weekend to start a pair for DH. Well, I know they won't be finished in time, but I shall wrap up the entire project for Christmas morning and then finish them over the holidays.

Since taking this photo I have reached the heel flap on sock number one.  I have to wait until DH goes out before I can work on them, and then quickly hide them when he arrives back home!

I have really enjoyed showing you my projects and I would love to hear what you have been making for Christmas.  Please do leave a comment - I will answer every one!

Donna x 

Sunday at home.

I'm sitting by the fire, on this dark Monday evening, reflecting on the lovely day I had yesterday.  It was a 'home' day, nothing remarkable happened, but it was special in its contented domesticity.  

The day started with breakfast with my husband, and then, whilst he visited his Mother, I made a pan of winter vegetable soup for lunch.

This was simply a base of onions, carrots and celery, to which I added parsnips and a swede.  I added some organic vegetable stock, garlic, and a teaspoon of ground cumin.  Seasoned with black pepper, I simmered it until the vegetables were tender and then whizzed it all with my stick blender.  I ate mine with a sprinkle of chilli flakes on top!

To go with it I made some seeded bread.  I used my favourite mix of 50% stoneground wholemeal and 50% extra strong white bread flour.  I like seeds in my bread, plus they are good in so many ways, so to 500g of flour I add half a cup of mixed seeds, including sunflower, pumpkin, poppy, linseed and sesame. I also add a large teaspoon of oat bran.  I increase the amount of yeast slightly, as all those seeds weigh it down!

Whilst I was in the kitchen I prepped all the vegetables for our evening meal, as it does make cooking later on a doddle!

In the midst of all this activity I replaced the charcoal filter in the lid of my compost bin.  These are really expensive to buy for what they are, so I purchase a sheet of the carbon filter that is sold for cooker hoods, (I think this one cost me all of £5!)  Simply use the old one as a template and cut around it with scissors.  I can get loads cut from one sheet, so it works out much, much cheaper.

After lunch I headed up to my sewing room, (it's almost finished!) and did a bit of Christmas sewing.  My daughter is very fond of dragons (don't ask...) and so I machine appliqued some tea towels for her new home...

The dragon was a pattern from Designs by Juju.  She has some lovely patterns, instantly downloadable, plus very good sale prices!

I also made another tea napkin (I'm building up a set), from another of her sets.

Whilst I was in my sewing room heaven, I trimmed the threads on another towel I had made for our downstairs loo.  This was a pattern by Anita Gooddesign, which are available in the UK from several places, including Lord's Sewing, a fantastic, family owned business, from where I buy my sewing machines, stabilisers, threads, as well as the Anita Gooddesign patterns.  

This was to go with one I made a few weeks ago...

Whilst I was immersed in embroidery threads and stabiliser, DH was in the living room, putting up the Christmas Tree.  He is so much better at this than I am so I leave him to it!

We had our dinner by our lovely Christmas Tree, with logs crackling merrily on the fire.  Perfect.

After dinner I finished a thread crochet bookmark I was making for my friend.  

It was such a perfect winter Sunday, and I enjoyed every minute, and felt quite productive too!

Donna x 

Cockington Village, Devon

We've had such a busy couple of weeks since I got back from London.  Not only had we decided previously to do a complete makeover on the kitchen, (more about that another time!), DH also started my Christmas present, which was a total overhaul of my sewing room!  This resulted in us emptying it completely (Oh My Goodness) painting walls, moving furniture, painting existing cabinetry and building more cabinets.  It's almost done, but I want to wait until it's finished before showing you. Suffice to say I am absolutely delighted with the result!  What a fabulous Christmas present.

We have now escaped the house and come down to Devon for some peace, relaxation, and no painting.  We are staying in a little village called Cockington, which is just outside of Torquay.  We spent the weekend visiting our favourite National Trust houses (I'll write a post about that in a bit) but today we left the car at home and explored Cockington Village.  What a delightful place it is, with traditional thatched cottages, tea rooms, and lots of walking opportunities for Daisy Dog.

We strolled up to Cockington Court, relishing the beautiful grounds on the way

In its heyday of being a private home, Cockington Court was visited regularly by a young lady, who would go on to find worldwide fame as Agatha Christie.  Nowadays the Court itself is managed by the Torbay Development Agency, as a craft and visitor centre, home to many artisans working at different traditional crafts including glass works, blacksmith, chocolate making etc.  

There is also the Parish Church within the grounds, which is serenely beautiful, with so much history to drink in, as well as a place for some quiet reflection.

Afterwards we had a delicious homemade lunch in the tea rooms at Cockington Court, which were created from the former library and drawing room.  

Daisy had been so good and well behaved and so we took her for a muddy walk through the water meadows.  She loved it!  She met lots of new friends along  the way and got wonderfully dirty!  It doesn't look too muddy here, but trust me, there was more around the corner!

We ended up at the seafront but the tide was in so Daisy wasn't able to go on the beach for a run.  It was lovely to look out though at Torquay this way...

...and Brixham to the right...

We came back to our cosy cottage, washed Daisy clean and then settled down for a cup of hot chocolate and some sock knitting, nestling in for a peaceful evening.  Total bliss.

Donna x 

A Weekend With My Daughter

Last Friday afternoon I took the little train from our village station, trundling merrily along the tracks, changing trains and eventually reaching Manchester, from where there is a fast service directly into London Euston.

My daughter and her partner live in Canary Wharf, and from Euston it is a short ride on the Central Line, then the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), which I can remember being built!  It was so lovely to see DD and her Lovely Partner (LP) and we had lots of hugs and excited chatter.

On Saturday we had a leisurely breakfast and then headed out to do some shopping.  LP made us a delicious late lunch and by the time we had finished eating it was already getting quite gloomy so we decided to stay home and watch a film.  

Ah, Bliss.  This is the stuff of memories.

On Sunday LP made a stack of Japanese Hot Cakes for our breakfast, which are a bit like extra thick and fluffy American Pancakes.  I was just about to take a photo when the whole heap collapsed, so I captured an action shot!

We then went to the Wallace Collection, one of my favourite London Museums.  We had a good wander around...

...and then a restorative pot of tea.

I love London, my home town, and find something interesting on virtually every street.  Here, just around the corner from the Wallace Collection, I stopped to admire the red brick of these buildings and the graceful chimney stacks.

We then went for an extended late lunch.  Full to the brim, we wandered along Regent Street and Piccadilly, admiring the Christmas lights.

My daughter is a member of the Oxford and Cambridge Club in St. James, so we called in for a warm by the fire and some mocktails!

It was then time to head back to Canary Wharf, which is so beautiful at night.

DD and LP had work on Monday so I took myself for a very happy wander around Peter Jones in Sloane Square and the shops on the King's Road, Chelsea.  I decided to stop by Westminster to see if anything was happening (it's a very intense time politically in the UK!) but there wasn't that much to see, other than a few journalists preparing to do interviews outside the Houses of Parliament.  

I was pleased to visit Emmeline Pankhurst's memorial, as I had read the plans to move it away from the Houses of Parliament had been abandoned, due to widespread anger.  It was good to see her in her rightful place.

All too soon it was time to catch my train back home.  I sat on the train, reading the newspaper, doing some knitting, thinking what a wonderful weekend it had been.

Donna x