Scary stuff…


I have no idea when we started 'celebrating' Halloween (we're all going to die – woo-hoo!!), but at some point in the last year it's become clear to me that if we do nothing – I'm a meanie. So here we have two pumpkins – carved as per each monkey's stipulations – good to go and indeed glow for tomorrow night. Costumes? Tick. Apples for bobbing? Tick. Sweets for trick or treaters? Bugger. There's still time right?
Thanks for reading.

Never cold shoulder a bad back…



Ironically enough it can lead to a frozen neck. I’m not usually one to apportion blame (much), but this week I’m in A LOT of pain and it’s all, or mainly all, Miss Marmoset’s fault. Specifically her insistence on still being carried about a lot. It’s not of course her fault that I a) give in to the moaning or b) then carry her very badly and on one hip. This has lead to what the osteo technically described as a ‘ruddy good kink’ in my upper spine and a ‘really good effort’ of a frozen and oddly angled neck. I’m walking so awkwardly at the moment I’m making my 92-year-old Nan look like a shoo-in for the finals of Strictly Come Dancing. It’s a scary insight into just how painful a bad back can be and I’m not taking it for granted anymore. The lovely Kiwi is taking the strain at the school/nursery runs and has been making lunches and cups of tea. I’m lounging on the sofa with a bajillion cushions holding my head and neck up and guiltily letting the monkeys have plenty of telly and films as I can’t do anything else.

It’s a shame though, I had this week down as being a big sewing week, I have the two quilt tops (above) all run up and ready for backing and quilting. I’m happy with both of them and really want them finished now.

Next week – maybe, when I can turn my head without crying.

Thanks for reading,

Lost: One Family-sized Mojo

Just recently a sleepy cloud has enveloped this family. It's like the scene in The Wizard of Oz where they're all trying to cross the poppy field but can't summon up the energy and can't be bothered anymore. That's exactly how we're functioning this week, we do have hearts, brains and courage (although not an abundance of the last two) but no sparkly red shoes (most regrettable). Miss Marmoset has been up several nights in a row, Barbary Boy is school-shattered and can't wait for half term, lovely Kiwi and I are just trying to keep up with them.
So all this means that I haven't been able to get much done recently, I have several projects on the go and more in my head I'd love to get started on. However sleepiness and machine sewing just don't go together for me, nobody likes to spend that much time with a seam ripper. So this week there'll be gentler things on the go instead. I'll be trying to make jelly out of these handsome quinces and meditavely stitching some more hexes in front of the telly.
Yaaaawwwnnnn, thanks for reading,

Forlorn looking garden

Despite the last few days stalwart attempt at an Indian summer my garden looks like it wants to be tucked up for winter. Rusty looking sweet peas, sad and bare tomato plants…
Those cherry tomato plants have provided a good handful of delicious bright red or yellow tomatoes every couple of days for the last six weeks or so. It may seem like a short fruiting period, but that's only because I didn't get my act together and plant them out in good time. They are definitely on their last legs and starting to show some early signs of blight, which considering it's almost mid-October isn't bad going.
The strawberries have been a bit of a disappointment. They've produced runners aplenty, but not much in the way of fruit. It may be because way back in July Barbary Boy discovered there were plenty of green berries to be had. He didn't wait for them to ripen and despite my warnings stripped the plants bare. It's a lesson learned I suppose, after two days of rather urgent trips to the facilities he's given them a wide berth ever since. However, a bit of reading around on the subject of strawberries informs me that we may not have enough bees and butterflies coming into the garden to help the strawberries pollinate. I must say this is very welcome news as far as I'm concerned as it gives me carte blanche to make the garden a lot more flowery and girly next year.
So with flowers in mind I will be raising the dahlia bulbs as soon as they finish flowering; planting a range of sweet peas now and then some more in the spring, planting a lot of allium bulbs and trying to start a small lavender collection. Veg next year will also take more consideration, I won't be bothering with pumpkins and squash again as I don't have enough space. The couple of acorn squash produced this year have had a very derisory reception from the family. Next year there'll be carrots, cauli, broccoli and sugarsnap peas instead; at least I know they'll have a good chance of being eaten. Salad days have also been mixed, I overcrowded the spinach and the rocket bolted almost as soon as seed hit soil. A beginner's mistake, I planted seeds far too densely. Next time I'll know to spread them out. If anyone would like to comment I'd love to know what you've grown that's been well-received by your families.
It's been my first year of really trying to learn how to take care of a garden. I'm tutored by my kind and very patient Dad who has always kept a beautiful garden. I don't think I valued it so much as a child, but now I have enormous respect for the amount of effort that must've gone into the garden throughout my childhood. I see the monkeys so excited at watching the plants grow and realising which ones they can eat and which ones they could but DEFINITELY SHOULDN'T WITHOUT MY PERMISSION pick and put in vases, (Barbary Boy and Miss Marmoset respectively). I am very lucky, a fairly small patch of garden, a few flowers and an old apple tree have effectively doubled the size of our home for three months this year, I'd struggle to be without a garden again.
Thanks for reading, Helenx

A fun quilt for a fun little guy

Now I thought this would happen, start at a canter and then leave it for quite a while before posting again. This is showing all the hallmarks of my teenage diaries, give it another couple of posts and I'll be giving you my list of 'Top Ten boys I'd like to snog'. In my defence, I wanted to get a few things done before posting again. So the tomato chutney got made, and as it turns out doesn't smell nearly as bad as the damson stuff did whilst simmering. I hope it turns out OK as I was a bit casual with the recipe, 'oops not enough malt vinegar/demerara I'll approximate with this' etc etc. Also Miss Marmoset has had yet another encounter with asthma, not as serious as it has been in the past, but plenty to stop us getting any sleep at night.
However the biggest project I've been trying to finish off has been Barbary Boy's very own quilt. Ever since I finished Miss Marmoset's this time last year (pictured below on our bed), I've really wanted him to have one too. Miss Marmoset's quilt was entirely hand-pieced and hand-quilted, it's the quilt which reignited a long-loved hobby. By the time I started Barbary Boy's last winter I had a sewing machine and was amazed at how quickly the top was pieced. I really wanted to hand quilt it with perle cotton as I love the look of all the quilts in Material Obsession. I thought I would have it finished by April…but this is where the weather (because I prefer to blame the elements rather than myself) got involved and complicated matters. Think back to last winter, what do you remember? Snow? More snow? Maybe some more snow followed by a last plunge of temperature before Spring put in a rather half-arsed appearance? It was during that last phase I went wadding shopping, with my judgement completely skewed by the temperature outside I came home with a lot of 50/50 cotton/alpaca wadding. Enough in fact for three layers of wadding in the quilt, which I then started hand-quilting. I'm not much on giving quilting tips, being a relative newbie, but I would urge quilters to try and avoid buying wadding on what later turns out to be the coldest day, in the coldest winter for 30 years. Trust me, you'll save yourself a lot of effort.  It's taken me six months longer than I thought it would, although I have produced three smaller quilts in that time, and I've had some really attractive calluses, but all in all I'm really pleased with how its turned out. It is heavy though, I may never have to tuck Barbary Boy in again, just heave over quilt and leave him pinned to the mattress until morning!
Thanks for reading,