Category: mel

Adventures in Quilt Making

Back in August I shared the baby quilt my niece and I made for my great niece and I mentioned that it had re-inspired my love of patchwork and quilting. I dug out all of my previously started quilting projects…….

There were three of them back then. H thought this was dreadful and kept asking why I hadn’t finished them. My answer didn’t go down well as I admitted that I get bored and want to move on to other things. No point in sugar coating it. I can hold my head up high and admit, as I have many times before that my hobbies go in phases. Just because the buying, planning and cutting of fabric seems to come around more often that the sewing together of all the blocks shouldn’t stop me in my quilt adventures!

Here are two of them.

The denim and red has been in the works for longer than I dare admit. I love the idea of re-using denim from old jeans and thought the reds went really well with that faded blue. I added a neutral or two in as well.

I have a pile of jeans legs (that sounds funny!) tucked away and I’m determined to use them one day. It is a heavier material than all the other fabrics and I’m sure I shouldn’t have put lightweight and heavyweight materials together. But the beauty of not having much of a clue about quilting is that I just go with it and sometimes out works out fine. And other times I have to unpick for days…..

The orange triangles have also been around a while. I think I bought the material from Jo-Ann’s in 2015…. Here is another example as learning as I go. While I seem to have done quite a decent job of getting my pinwheel points matched up in the red and denim blocks I’ve managed to do a terrible job with those triangle points. Definitely a steep learning curve. Even my rows are wibbly wobbly!

And then we have the Christmas Tree Quilt which had been a work in progress for a few years too but finally got finished last December.

Inspired by this pin and this blog post. It is the most adorable thing I’ve ever made. I love it and from the remarks I got about it from family I better get cutting trees again and give a few away as Christmas gifts. In a few years of course…….

And as we are doing the full disclosure bit I hold my hand up and admit that while in the US last August I did drag my family to Jo-Ann and bought more fabric.

This time purple and grey to match our living room.

I decided to go more modern with this one and got the design inspiration somewhere online but cannot remember where!

As you can see from the photo at the beginning of the post this one is coming along great and I’ve finished piecing the top.

As of this point in time I have the orange and purple ready to sandwich together and baste.  The poor old red and denim is still in blocks but you never know by the end of the year they could all be finished. Stranger things have happened.

One Little Word® 2018 – Practice

This is the fifth year I am embarking on walking with a word.

Previous words were –

  • Listen
  • Align
  • Whole
  • Light

I usually start strong and enthusiastic. And this year has been no exception. My word showed up in mid November and stuck. Pretty sure it is all linked to the yoga I have been doing. Whenever anyone refers to ‘doing’ yoga they always call it a ‘practice’.

Here in the UK we have two spellings of this word.

Practice – The application or use of an idea, belief, method. “The principles and practice of teaching.”

Practise – Perform an activity repeatedly to improve. 

I hold my hand up and admit that thinking about these two made my head hurt……. I get it. Mostly. I may slip up along the year’s journey and spell it wrong, forgive me in advance!

Anyway onwards.

There are a few areas that spring to mind when thinking about my journey with this word.

You can see from the photo above that I’ve made a note of things that initially came to mind about my word. Yoga, health, kindness, photography, playing music, making art, meditation, being present, giving.

For me this word is not about practice to make perfect. It is more practice to live good. That is the essence of how the word manifested in my mind.

We are all a work in progress right? And I’d like to find a balance between the idea of working, working, working at something till you get fed up and give up (well I do) and saying okay got that wrong lets have another go. There is a difference in the mindset. I want to nudge myself towards having another go because I know I’m the sort of personality that when pushed gives up – I’m stubborn that way. HA!

So lets see if I can acknowledge this, have some understanding and kindness towards myself and hopefully it will help me grow and become more practised in these areas of my life.

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One Little Word® is a project developed by Ali Edwards. Read all about it over here.

Looking forward to…….

(The photo has nothing whatsoever to do with this post but I mean c’mon…….)

We are looking forward to the Winter Olympics. The winter games have a place in our hearts more than the summer games do. We love the curling! It all started in 2006 when the U.K ladies were defending their title. We were decorating our bedroom and set a little T.V up in there so we could watch all the matches. We also like the scary luge, skeleton and bobsleigh events and four years ago we really go into the snowboarding too!

We are going to read two books a month, at least. Gav’s joining me on this quest. The stacks of book to be read are crazy right now so we need to do something about them. Last year was possibly my slowest reading year since 2012. I need to work on this.

We are going to see The Last Jedi again tonight! We had a big family outing the week in between Christmas and New Year to see this long awaited movie and we both loved it so a return trip is in order.

I have a new One Little Word®. PRACTICE. More to come on this.

I am taking part in the 30 day yoga challenge over here. I have been doing a little yoga since May last year. I don’t feel like I have improved physically but I know my mind loves this practice and I like the way she teaches so thought it would be good to give a challenge a go.

We are going to start learning a new song in our mini band soon. H, Gav and I have been learning ‘No Surprises’ by Radiohead for a few months. We haven’t perfected it but it is time to try something new.

We are looking through all the seed catalogues and getting excited for another growing season. I need to have a search through all my flower photos to see what was a success last year. So adore growing things!

Just a few things to think about as we get into this year of 2018!

Let’s Start the Year Right! With Snow

Technically this delightful day was last year but I’m using poetic licence here.

If you’ve been here a while you’ll know I adore snow. We don’t get much in Leeds s when it comes it is a treat.

This flurry arrived four days after Christmas Day which was bad timing on the weather front but I loved it all the same and the beauty was that I had no idea snow was forecast so when I peeked out of the curtains it was a total surprise!

I donned the wellies and Buddy and I set off for the best morning walk and when we’d been home a while and I had ventured out into the garden for some photos and to clear a spot for the bird feeding area it started to snow again and carried on for a couple of hours.

The flakes at one point were giant. It was a perfect hour or so as I watched it get a little deeper.

I went back out after it stopped and built a teeny snowman.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything to make his face.

My niece let me know that they were going to the park sledging so I tagged along to try to get a few photos.

Snow is very tricky to photograph especially if the day is overcast and misty! It throws the exposure out because it tricks the sensors into thinking the image is going to be overexposed. I thought I’d got my setting right but when I looked at them back home I needed to up the exposure quite a bit more.

They had fun though while I tried to get a shot. My sister and brother-in-law in the picture above. Then H joined in and they raced….

You can see that we don’t need much of a snowfall to get us out sledging round these parts!

And for the final run down the hill they persuaded me to have a go……

She was very happy about that…… me clearly not so much!

All in all though a fun few hours surrounded by that fabulous snow and a bit more practice with the big camera in those conditions. If only it snowed a bit more I might perfect it!

The quest for 10k a day

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It’s all the iphones fault.

During the earlier part of the year for one of the monthly One Little Word® prompts I had written in my note book that doing more exercise was important but I knew I’d never do it.

Enter the iphone which counts your steps and gives you details of the activity you’ve undertaken each day. It was one Wednesday when my niece was round for tea that we all got our phones out and compared steps. Hers was way up at about 8k, Gavs was about 5k and I was only at about 4k.

You know how the strangest things stick in your brain and trickle down into your thoughts without you noticing? Well that is exactly what happened to me over the course of the next week.

I started to check how many steps a certain morning route with Bud gave me. Then how many steps I got on an average work day from arrival to departure. I started wearing the trousers that had pockets in them so I could carry my phone around at work. The following week I lengthened the morning walk till I was getting 4.5k steps in before 9am.

In short I was on it. I wanted to get to those elusive 10 thousand steps every day. After about fifteen days it became just something I was doing. Yes somedays you find me (and Gav, as he’s doing it too) roaming the house or garden to get those last few steps but so far I have done it every day since 9 July. Two whole months!

I am incredibly proud and happy with this achievement. I think I am getting very, very, very slowly fitter and while I haven’t lost any weight because of the walking I think it has stopped me putting any on. Win, win!

There are two takeaways from this. One – never underestimate yourself. Throughout my adult life I have tried various forms of exercise and not stuck with any. I’m just lazy – HA! But this goal of 10k steps just worked and I am as surprised as everyone who knows me that I am keeping it up. But is goes to show that we shouldn’t write ourselves off. And two – documenting was the key. Having a written record of the steps turned this goal into something to work towards, it was achievable because you knew exactly where you were with it. That’s the thing that makes it work, for me anyway.

Off we go then 10k here I come.

One Little Word® 2016 – Whole – an update

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It had been months, 7 months in fact, since I posted about this project.

Overall this year has been more ‘succesful’ than previous years both in terms of taking part with the monthly prompts for the class and feeling like I have stepped a tiny fraction closer to what my ‘whole’ means.

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At the start of the year there was a lot of thinking about what the word means to us. I’ve just re-read my post from January and still believe that the word you select doesn’t matter 100%. What matters is your willingness to keep the word with you throughout the year, to walk with it as Ali says, to invite it into your life and develop a relationship with it.

I have done that more this year than before. And that is great.

Here is April’s prompt.

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Something that came directly from working on that months prompt is a habit of drinking water every morning before I take Buddy out for a walk. I’ve also continued to enjoy a herb tea instead of coffee at least once a day at work. And amazingly I have been walking 10 thousand steps a day (more on that milestone to come.)

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One of my favourite monthly prompts was May when I felt like I really grasped the idea of my word on a less literal level.

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The idea was to use photography as a ‘lens’ to see your word in your life at that point in time.

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Oh and that picture of me with my eyes closed has to be one of my most favourite selfies! Just something about it.

July saw us creating manifesto/encouragement cards.

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I struggled a little that month and felt like I was repeating myself but I still enjoyed the creative side and getting something in my album.

And that is where I am up to. Looking forward to finishing August and getting into September.

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One Little Word® is an idea developed by Ali Edwards read about it over here.

And read other posts about my words here.

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The post box quest continues….

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I am very excited to share these photos. Bring on the geek fest, oh yeah!

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If you recall from my previous ramblings about these gems of the UK postal service, most post boxes that you find on the streets today have a Royal cypher on the door of the box.

So far I have found five out of the six cyphers in existence. The one I had yet to spot was the rare ER VIII that was for Edward. They are rare because he abdicated before his coronation but around 160+ had been put in place up and down the country before the abdication. I’d done quite a bit of searching off and on over the last four years but had never found reference to any of these boxes nearby. Until I stumbled upon blog post over here and read with excitement (yes, geek indeed) that there was not one but two of these boxes right here in Leeds!

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And this one is actually on the route we take to visit Gav’s parents. Right under my nose.

Very happy to add this photo to my collection.

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In the frame – a journey in self portraiture

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During a recent class with Ali about photography called Lens of Joy she introduced us to Vivienne McMaster who has taken the idea of a selfie and run a million miles with it. I was intrigued and interested in the idea of a selfie from a different perspective. Vivienne’s idea is to ‘cultivate self-love through self portraiture.’

Throughout my photo snapping years I have been known to take a self-portrait or two. I began taking photos of my feet years ago when I saw everyone else was doing it. Taking photos of my feet is one of my favourite types of photo of myself. Here is the week I took some feet shots during photo a day last year.

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I love getting the self timer photos with Gav on our U.S. hols and of course I did that fashion show…… So I’m not averse to being in front of the camera.

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From the point of view of the Lens of Joy class, Ali was guiding us towards the realisation that being in the photos means we are in our story, visible, tangible. And I am 100% in agreement with that.

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There is something about the images that Vivienne takes, they are different from what I have taken in the past and called a selfie. She isn’t just in the frame, she’s owning the frame. She isn’t apologising for being there, like I think I often look like, but is saying this is my life, I’m here, I’m in it, I am being seen, I am visible, I love me.

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Another thing I find so interesting is that she is re-defining what most think of as a selfie. Photos of hands, blurred half body shots, creative reflections all count as far as she’s concerned.

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As you can see I have being consciously taking different selfie’s recently. Experimenting and flexing my selfie muscles a little.

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I can’t lie and say that I love every selfie. But in the spirit of being my own beloved I am learning to look at the photos differently and I don’t cringe as much as I used to. By examining photos of myself I feel like I am seeing myself differently and I am improving my photo self timer skills, learning what makes a better shot and actually enjoying this photo project.

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The most important thing is that I am in my own story front and centre. So join me and Vivienne because we all deserve to be in the spotlight of our own adventure.

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Sketch and draw, paint and colour it in

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Earlier in the year I was inspired by an artist and her Instagram account. Lisa Congdon. She has a sketchbook on the go constantly and shares lots of great art both on insta and her blog. Remember last year I tried to do something arty every week and failed miserably? Well I put that behind me and was so driven on by the creativity of this woman I bought myself a new little watercolour book and a couple of fine tipped black pens.

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I was very conscientious throughout April and picked the book up at least twice a week. I’ve tried to be neat and careful which is a challenge. The doodle above is of my own design but the one below is from this pin.

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I love the idea of hand lettering.

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And was really pleased with my first alphabet, taken from this pin. The watercolour paper is quite bobbly so often I ended up with a wavy line.

Couldn’t resist doing a total copy of one of Lisa’s drawings.

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This is such a departure from what I’d usually doodle and I think I’d like to keep going so that I can develop my own style but with a greater degree of thought and care. And practice. If there is one thing that sings out from her work it is the daily routine of practice, of doing it and keeping doing it over and over. This is also something that does not come naturally but I can try.

What I need to do is to put down the laptop and pick up the sketchbook.

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Oh yes I did…..

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A new iphone……

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As in, my first iphone…..

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After all I have said about iphones….. 00ps.

Still you gotta laugh right. Happy Monday!

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