Month: April 2018

What I’ve been Reading – April 2018

Since around 2012 The British Library has re-published long-lost crime novels.There’s quite a collection and I’ve read two of these novels already. Murder in the Museum by John Rowland has been on my pile for a year or so now. My Mum borrowed this book a couple of months ago but couldn’t get into it. Her reason for not enjoying the book is exactly my reason for enjoying it.

She found the idea that they were ‘old’ difficult to get her head round. Perhaps it was the knowledge that they are long-lost books that put her off? I mean in all honesty if they were classics they wouldn’t be long-lost and out of print would they? But for all that I like them. This particular one transported me back in time and gave me a few hours of lovely reading. It could have been the setting of course, the British Museum, a place I adore and know well. Or it could simply have been the gentle-ish story. I liked the two police characters and would happily read another book with them in it.

This was the only book I managed this month so I failed in my two books a month quest. I must catch up and read three in May!

The 100 Day Project 2018 – Thoughts on 25 Days Down

Where did those 25 days go? I have be messing about with fabric pens, dimensional paint, scraps of material and embroidery floss and created a quarter of the squares. I’ve been sharing a photo everyday over here on Instagram along with a few words. I am smiling all over my face as I write because I absolutely adore this project.

The first 16.

Since I’m plod, plodding along I wanted to get a few of my thoughts and feelings about the project so far down ‘on paper’ because I know I’ll hit a wall at some point so let’s celebrate these first 25 days with a little honesty.

Here’s quick list of things that have come into my head so far –

  1. I don’t love every square and have made some mistakes
  2. I’m not doing it over if I don’t like it (yet anyway!)
  3. I’m a little panicky about them all looking the same
  4. I’m getting too conscious about the designs/colours matching other days nearby in the layout
  5. I dislike dimensional paint!
  6. I love applique
  7. Play is good

Here’s a bit more of a ramble about point 4.

Seeing my ‘grid’ of squares grow over on Instagram makes me want them all to be cohesive. I will hold my hand up and admit that I’ve made a pile of squares all in order of how I want to use them for the next 15 days. Is that cheating?

First of all Mel, it’s your project so you can do what you like and second of all if it is then so what! Maybe I’ll loosen up on this as time goes on or maybe I won’t and I’ll keep planning the fabric choices based on the other growing rows of squares. It’s just one of those quirks in my personality that I’m very matchy matchy.

Play is good. Below is a great example of how I played with card and supplies and made a template so I could use it as a mask.

I went for the ‘negative’ look so used the cut out hearts as the mask.

I loved making that template. But unfortunately the stamp I picked to create the design over the masked hearts didn’t allow those ‘negative’ hearts show up enough. (Plus I seem to have some old blue paint on the stamp….)

So I grabbed a Mister Huey’s spray mist and covered the square in pink ink!

This is one of the ones I don’t like. The combination of slightly patterned background fabric with the swirls and then the pink is too much. But it’s staying in the mix of squares if only to make me remember that play is good but test things out first is also a necessary part of play.

The dimensional paint issue. So on day 2 and 10 I used Tulip dimensional fabric paint. I loved day 2 but when I came to use it on day 10 my test runs with the white matt paint just looked awful. I’d committed to using paint on that day so I just did it. You can see the result in the last photo below. It’s the grey square with three white hearts and that zig zag border. It turned out ok and I like the addition of a border, something I’d yet to try. My thought about the paint overall should have been a good thing as it was pushing me to different things. But really I just didn’t want to work with the paint again.

Then I looked at the three tubes of paint and knew there was no way I wasn’t going to use them on this project again so I googled dimensional paint and came up with the technique I used here.

I drew the hearts onto a sheet of card and smushed the fabric square onto the paint. It’s so messy and imperfect but I love it. I really like the ‘negative cream heart on the inside of the paint and think I’ll try this again but paint the hearts closer so I get hardly any space between smushed hearts on the finished square. We will see.

I found that I was panicking around day 15 when all I seem to have made were squares with a big heart in the middle or squares with random little hearts. I know that really that wasn’t the case because when you look at them all laid out they do vary but that’s how I felt. I tried to just ignore those feelings and make the next square.

Just pushing on is really all you can do in a project like this because if you don’t you end up not making anything and that day is suddenly gone.

Day 24 is perhaps my most fav square of all. You know how I love a spotty fabric…… And my new love of the applique technique.

Below are all 25 laid out as they will be when I put them together as a quilt. Day 1 is top left.

I think you can tell by the length of my ramblings that I’m loving this so much and that is the most important part. Bring on the next 75!


Here is my intro post to the 2018 project. And here is the post I wrote at the beginning of the 2017 project with this one summing up my thoughts at the end of those 100 days last year.

Click Tick List – Photograph 100 Gardens – The Alnwick Garden

I remember that this garden, on the outskirts of the pretty walled town of Alnwick in Northumberland, was originally famed for its water features. There are still a huge part of the garden but now the label attached should simply be a beautiful garden.

A trip here and lunch in the treehouse restaurant was a gift from my colleagues for my big birthday last year. Gav and I went in the summer of 2017 and even enjoyed a tour of the huge pump room that controls the impressive water fountain.

There were several distinct areas including a rose garden, poison garden and wonderful walled garden up on the hill. They also have a huge number of Cherry Trees and folk flock to see them blossom in the spring.

The garden up on the hill was my favourite full of interesting ideas beautiful water rills and pots overflowing with plants.

Love the teeny door within a door below.

Gav having a conversation with a frog….

We had beautiful weather and a lovely day all round and I would certainly go back again sometime.

** On a side note I forgot to include this garden on my list  so my total gardens now photographed from this book is now fifty two!

Photo a Day – Week Six

And here is another week.

There was fresh bread and hummus…… Lightly toasted the bread and added some vegetables to help the 5 a day quota and hey presto a perfect lunch.

I’m not even bothered that its blurry.

I Instagrammed this with the caption ‘Wild and tamed.’ Well it made me smile!

We had a mini heat wave so off to get ice-cream we went.

Much gardening was done.

And wildlife found.

Had my ‘big’ lens so managed to capture this fella. I adore Robins.

And that’s what we got up to last week.

Layout Share – Day Two Review

Here is another page that is going into the big 2017 Holiday album. I have made these ‘review’ type pages before and after looking at all the photos I wanted to include from our Washington leg of the trip I decided that this style was the best option. I also made a ‘day three’ page that I’ll share next week.

Day Two Review

Here’s the story –

Cosi for breakfast – caught the metro to Smithsonian – walked down the mall into natural history museum saw hope diamond – American flag, first lady clothes and china, bert and ernie and that DNA – melting ice-creams – sculpture garden – national archives. Gav – air and space, us – a walk past capitol and a tour of botanic garden. Back at hotel – a swim – that thunderstorm – chipotle – discussion of tomorrows plan – baseball and light out.

A few photos and a few key words was really all I felt this story needed. Our day is documented in a concise way, which I’ll need to work on other wise this trip will go into two albums, and all the facts in there. Sometimes less is more!

Currently – Spring 2018

Yesterday we had the hottest day of the year. When the weather turns I always feel the same. I may have felt lethargic and festered all winter but then one day when the breeze is warm and the light is right I am ready. This is one of the reasons I love living in a country with definite seasons. I’m sure I’ve said it many times before but I love the seasons.

So with my new found energy what am I up to in this year of 2018?

  • Sowing lots of flower and vegetable seeds.
  • Waiting for a trip to the World Snooker Championships next week!
  • Anticipating a visit to Harrogate flower show again.
  • Watching Baseball.
  • Hoping to cross at least four things of my list this year. What will they be??
  • Practicing yoga and One Little Word®.
  • Trying to eat more healthily.
  • Walking more. I really slipped this winter with my 10k steps to getting back on that feels good.
  • Making a list of vinyl to look out for at charity shops.
  • Planning a family trip to see the Terracotta Warriors.

That should keep me busy this summer!

Photo a Day – Week Five

Here we go again.

And here we go with trying to eat healthily.

Can’t resist a flower covered in raindrops….

More Daffodils, this time on our walk in the garden of a local Church.

SO now we see why I was trying to be healthy earlier in the week. Out for tea with Gav and H and Buddy came too. He may have found a chip on the floor! This pub does the most fattening unhealthy but delicious vegetarian ‘fish’ and chips ever! Deep fried Halloumi cheese!

His lifes work.

Getting the over-wintered Dahlia tubers into pots.

Master of all he surveys.

And that was that!

Layout Share – The Breakfast Spot

Back with more tales from last summer.

The Breakfast Spot

Here is the story –

Amazingly we had not pinned down the place we were going to eat breakfast but luckily Bev and David went on a very early morning wander and found Cosi just round the corner. Quiet and lots and lots to choose from as there always is on a USA menu. It was so good we went back the next two mornings as well. Breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal, bagels, pancakes, ice tea and coffee we tried the lot.

Here is an example of one of those layouts I mentioned before where I have photos I want to put in an album but don’t want to make a double page spread. I used a 6 pocket page to include a few more photos from our breakfast cafe. I know it takes up the same space as a double page spread but I prefer this method of adding more photos. Somewhere in my head I have negative memories of making two page layouts! It is a big canvas and takes more time to get right. I used to do it occasionally way back when it was more popular to do them and I don’t dislike the handful I have in my albums but these days it is very rare indeed that I choose that option.

The story is all about our three mornings eating breakfast at Cosi. Apart from the food and the location, right around the corner from the hotel, I think we loved it because it was so quiet. We assumed it was like this because it was the weekend and our hotel was a business-y part of Arlington. Whatever the reason we liked that it we had the place almost to ourselves.

Lovely story and happy I have it documented.

Photo a Day – Week Four

Here we go with a few more photos.

Trying to eat my ‘5 a day‘ I know you would think that as a vegetarian it would be easy but some days it simply is not because we make the bad choices. So trying to rectify that.

The perennials are coming to life. This is Centaurea montana.

Playing the hat game………

First day with the patio doors open has to be documented! Plus that pooch.

A very quick getaway with some family to the seaside.

Scarborough beach and that girl.

Gav walking Buddy and my nephews pooch.

And there we go.

Bloom 2018 – The Hellebores

I love a first. I also love when it’s time to start sharing flower arrangements here again.

We seem to have had a harder winter than usual but you know me I’m not going to complain about the snow….. okay maybe a little bit but that’s only because we are not geared up for snow in the UK so everything grinds to a halt. But I digress. The first in question is the subject matter of this arrangement.

Helleborus. We have four clumps of these beauties and plans for a couple more plants to go in the ground soon. They are a big favourite of mine but cutting them hasn’t been an option because we didn’t have large enough plants. However, when I headed out on Easter Sunday morning looking for a few flowers to bring indoors these were the only thing flowering. So I cut two stems from one plant and two from another. I could only bring myself to cut those four stems!

I arranged them with some viburnum flowers, catkins and some pretty glaucous evergreen foliage. I loved how it turned out but about half an hour after this photo was taken the purple flowers had completely drooped. Oh yes, I should have mentioned that I seared the stems in just boiled water for about 20 seconds before putting them in the arrangement so I didn’t understand why they had flopped.

Here they are, cut down a little.

The internet to the rescue!  I found this article really helpful and discovered that the trick is to wait to pick until there are no stamens left and the flowers have started to produce seed. So next year when I pick some more I’ll remember that tip.

I seared the stem ends of these again just to see what would happen…

A couple of the flowers perked up but sadly not all. It is pretty incredible what plunging the stems of some blooms into boiling water will do!

A day or so later I snapped this photo of the flowers that were still left in the vase.

And sure enough you can see that all the hellebores have the seeds already forming in the centres of the flowers. Even the one at the top that has a few stamens left still has seed pods too.

Looking forward to sharing more floral stories this year as well as pretty arrangements!