Friday, March 30, 2007

Cleaning Day

Well DH is at St. Andrews today on a golf outing with his buddies. He called last night all excited last night - his foursome won the draw and get to play on the Old Course. I however am not quite as excited...while he is out of the house I can get some serious cleaning done on my downstairs sewing room and the computer area.

You know how is is when you move into a house - there are plans in your head of where everything will go only when the movers carry the bookcase in you find it would stand right in front of the light switch so they move it 6 inches to the left and now the desk woun't fit! The next day you find out that there is some sort of wiring problem in that wall so broadband will not work so the whole office idea moves into a corner of the living room...Uhgggg.

So last night some neighbors came over and helped me move some bookcases, a sewing table, and some chairs. We packed two boxes of books and three bags of clothes into their car for the charity shop and put three bags of recycling into my car. I filled another box with fabrics I will never use to bring to the new quilters group (think stash deprived!) There is still some organizing left to do...I hate having books out of order. I want my mysteries all together. My quilt books together. My history books get the point.

The photo at the top is on the roof of the Gaudi apartment building that looks like a melting cake...not a straight line anywhere! The other photo is of the laundry and sewing room in one of the apartments decorated as it would have been when the building was put up. The contrast between the modern outside of the building and the turn of the century interiers was very unnerving.
Well, back to work...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sampler Quilt Virginia Star

For some reason my other blog is not cooperating at all...I've lost posts midway through and must have to ask for my password ever other time I log on! So I am posting some directions for the Fairford Quilters here until I get it figured out.

This is the 6-th 12-inch block in our sampler Quilt. The blocks are starting to have multiple shapes in them so it is good to begin breaking them down to the sub-components. For instance in this block we have 1 squre-in-a-square in the center which is surrounded by 4 flying geese. When you construct the block you will make the similar subcomponents at the same time then put the final block together.

Fabrics: This block uses three fabrics. The center square (roses) is 6-1/2. The b fabric has eight 3-1/2 squares. The background or light fabric is a bit more complicated: four 3-1/2 inch squares, four 3-1/2 by 6-1/2 inch rectangles, and four 3-1/2 inch squares.

Start with the center square in a square. Place the 6-1/2 inch square and one of the 3-1/2 inch background squares right sides together with the corners aligned. Draw a diagonal line like in the photo. This is your sewing line. Repeat on the opposite diagonal corner. Trim 1/4 inch then press with the seams towards the center.

Repeat with the reamaining two corners. (note: I immediately take the halfsquare triangles that are cut off the corners and sew them together. This will give you four 2-1/2 inch squares that you can use later in the scrap basket or pine tree block.)

Next construct the flying geese. You will need a 3-1/2 by 6-1/2 inch rectangle from the background fabric and two 3-1/2 squares of fabric C (here brown fabric) Place the fabrics right sides together and draw a diagonal line on the C fabric square. Sew on that line. Cut 1/4 of an inch from the seam.

Press then repeat on other corner on the same long side of the fabric. Press.

Finally, we lay out the block. In addition to the subcomponants we have already made you will need the four 3-1/2 inch squares of the background fabric. Sew the blocks together one row at a time. Remember to alternate the direction you press the seams so that they will nest together.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blocks for Luekemia

Today I am feeling the effects of all the turmoil of the past few days. Old MS syptoms are rearing their ugly head - lost partial sight while walking my dog. Let me tell you getting across a cow pasture and over a fence using a Scottish Terrier as your guide dog does not come highly reccomended! Anyway I made it home and after a short nap I am able to get around OK. Last time this happened I read a paper on the effects of adrenalin on MS patients and there is some science behind the "flight or fight" causing relapses. So now I am "fighting" the flight or fight effects by doing lots of deep breathing, some Yoga (I am so bad at this!), and eating comfort food (which if you havent tried Quilts and Pieces's Baked Oatmeal you are missing something...maybe not a cure for MS but close!)

I also tried to use the creative part of my brain to take over the panicy part that replays the moments my bag get stolen and tries to figure out what I could have done differently. I can feel my blood pressure rise just writing about it! Anyway, I spent a few hours drawing, a couple folding fabric, and a bit of time making two blocks for Clare at Dordogne Quilter for her Quilts for Leukuemia project (makes me feel a bit less sorry for myself doing something for someone else.) I used some simple patterns due to the limited/wobbley eyesight. They were fun to do though
Now off to bake brownies for the folks at DH's office!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Barcelona Blues

I have a love hate relationship with Barcelona. It is a beautiful city with so many textures that I am constantly in awe. The problem is while in "awe" you are always in danger of having your pocket picked or bag stolen! My sister caught a man with his hand in her pocketbook on the metro. I saw a man put his shopping bag down to light a cigarete and in that brief second another man picked it up from behind him and casually walked across the street. Finally while waiting for the bus to go to the airport my husband walked a few yards away from me and a "team" surrounded me an made off with the one bag I couldn't physically sit on! Very scary - a big scream scattered thm but my carryon bag went with them. They ran into a covered parking lot - not a place I'd chase anyone.

Up until then it had been a very good trip. The buildings are fantastic. Everything from modern through gothic and everything in-between! We didn't get in until late so after having a glass of wine with my sister and her husband at the guest house we went straight to bed. The next morning we went on a double-decker bus tour. It is a good way to get an overview of the city. We went up to Park Guell to see some of Gaudi's work. It is wild. The window in the photo is a small example of his work. The small circles are made up of tile mosaics. His work is very rooted in natural lines and uses very organic materials. I loved it my DH was very disturbed by it! I used my sketch book a lot. So many inspirational designs all around...unfortunely the book was in the bag...hope they liked it. (not!)

That night we went out to a tapa bar with my neice who is going to unversity in Barcelona. We were all very hungery and the table was covered with lots of small dishes. My favorite of all was the little warm chocolate volcano we had for dessert!

The next day we continued on the bus tour. This time we spent a bit more time appreciating other Gaudi buildings. We also went to the Picasso museum (interesting note - he was a contemporary of Gaudi and really disliked his work.)

Across the street was a Textile museum that looked very interesting but we were too hungery to stop....After the museum we had lunch near a church called Santa Maria del Mar. Food in Barcelona was very good.

There is a trio of buildings that showcase Barcelona modenista. We must have gone back to them a half a dozen times. Dh couldn't decide if he loved or hated them. The photo on the left only got the one by Gaudi. It is covered by different colored green - blue broken tiles. As the light changes the building seems to change color as well.
Well blog has decided I've posted enough photos! more later.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Anglo American Roadtrip

I haven't been posting as regularly as I should I know. Just having problems getting organized I guess. Weather has been crazy...hail, sun, snow, wind - all in the same hour! Sunday we went on a walk and got caught in a sunny hail felt like little needles attacking your cheeks.
I haven't been in my sewing room for a week. This isn't like me. Not sure why it is happening. DH goes on a business trip in a few weeks and I hope I can get my act together while he is away.
Yesterday I went on another of the Anglo American Women's club's bus trips. This time to Tyntesfield House which is in Somerset not far from Anne (Quilting Bebbs.) I didn't realize that until I got on the bus and finally read the handouts. The top photo is of the countryside around the house. The photo on the left is a profile of the chapel roof. It has some neat gargoyles on the ends.
The house is fairly new to the National Trust and there is a lot of work being done there but it is well worth a visit. The library and chapel are wonderful. Well, off to do chores.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A bookish Meme

Now this is a MEME I had fun with! I found it on Clare's blog (Dordogne Quilter.) I love to read and will read just about anything from Science Fiction to the Classics. They all have their time and place - heck sometime a cookbook is the perfect read (which is why I have an entire bookcase full of them!)

Look at the list of books below:
Bold the ones you’ve read
Italicize the ones you want to read
Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.
If you are reading this, tag, you’re it!

The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown) Not sure what all the fuss was about?
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) My favorite Austen novel
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling) The real question is how many times have I read this book!
Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving) My favorite Irving novel
Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden) So much better than the movie.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
The Stand (Stephen King) I have read lots of his other novels though...I love his colum in Entertainment Weekly and find his reccomendations on novels and movies spot-on.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) I have a list of classics that I want to read while in England
The Hobbit (Tolkien)
The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) Read for school...not high on the reccomendation list
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold) I'm taking Clare's reccomendation and will read soon!
Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte). ditto Clare's comment "Read it at school. Haven't touched it since."
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
Dune (Frank Herbert)
The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks) This is the only book of his I've read...not a big fan.
Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
1984 (Orwell) Very scarey book but I like it. Very appropriate to our time.
The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
The Red Tent (Anita Diamant) A great read
The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel) plus all the sequels...
The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) I have reccomended this book to hundreds of people
Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
The Bible - not at one sitting or even one month but I think I've gotten through it.
Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt) Does it count if you started it but didn't finish...
The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) Doesn't every American High School student read this one!
She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver) I love her writing! I went on to read all of her novels.
A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens) Again required school reading
Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
Great Expectations (Dickens)
The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough) I liked her series on Ancient Rome better
The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) Atwood is another of my favorite authors! Her short stories are incrediable Wilderness Tales...also, try Robber Bride
The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
War and Peace (Tolstoy)
Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) One of my favorite classes at univeristy was the Political Novel. I've reread more books from that class than any I've ever taken. This was one of them.
Les Miserables (Hugo)
The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
Shogun (James Clavell)
The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
The World According to Garp (John Irving) One of the few novels that I may have liked the movie more than the book!
The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck)
Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
Emma (Jane Austen)
Watership Down (Richard Adams)
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) Again from the Politial novel class...
The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
Blindness (Jose Saramago)
Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
Lord of the Flies (Golding) Not sure how I've missed this one....
The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)Doesn't everyone go through a secret agent reading phase....
The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
White Oleander (Janet Fitch) A great novel but disturbing....
A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
Ulysses (James Joyce) This is the opposite of my earlier problem...what if you finish reading the novel but are not sure what you read. Does that still count? My Mom told me not to bother reading Ulysses until I'm 50.... Can I get credit for reading Dubliners instead? (A much more enjoyable/accessible read.)

One of the things I noticed going through the list is I don't like to go back and read a book after seeing the movie but I am OK with seeing a movie after reading the book.

So what am I reading right now? I finished The Unlikely Spy (Daniel Silva) this past weekend. A good WWII secret agent novel that travels well (don't have to concentrate too much!) Also reading Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakspeare (Stephen Greenblatt) This is a reread to get ready for a visit to Stratford-on-Avon next month. This is a great book but not a traveler! Finally, I picked up The Skystone (Jack Whyte) which is part two of the Camulod Chronicles. I liked the first in the series so will most likely read all of them! I am also paging through The Sonoma Diet for obvious is spring and the diet books are blooming....
The horses in the photo are from the walk last weekend. I loved how different they all are! They were a bit of handfull though...the one with the brown blaze on his face wanted to play and the big (really big) white and brown wanted his nose rubbed and could knock you down if you weren't ready for his head-butt! They say you are not suposed to bother the farm animals when you hike through the fields...has anyone told them they aren't supposed to harrass the walkers!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Walk in the countryside

My DH and I participated in our first organized country walk Saturday. It was beautiful...lots of sheep, lambs, horses, and dogs. The photo on the left shows a field of sheep with their 1 week old lambs. Spring!!! The weather was perfect. It finally stopped raining late in the week and though there was lots of mud it was possible to find your footing. The trek started in the village of Withington and went 5 miles in a loop through the hills. I think the last time I walked that far I was in uniform with a very large rucksack on my back! This was definately nicer.
The walk started and ended at the Mill Pub. It looks exactly like what an American thinks a country pub should look like! Lots of small rooms with big fireplaces. The food was very good and the cider great. (I was famished by the time we got there!) I wanted to post more photos but Google isn't participating...I'll try again later.

Friday, March 09, 2007

More on the sampler quilt

The sun has finally come out here in the cotswolds. My cats have been sleeping on the windowsills for the past two days just soaking it all up!

I've been trying to make some headway on the sampler quilt for the group in Fairford but my other blog spot is not cooperating. I get halfway through a post and it kicks me off! Sooo frustrating. I may end up posting the directions to the blocks here. The photo on the right is the block we worked on this week.

As I was looking for blocks that would use the techniques we've already done I did find one that I hadn't done before and really like. I think it was called Comforts of Home. (Or something like that.) It isn't pressed in the photo so looks a bit more wonky than it is. Even my DH liked it which shocked me!
As usual I am having problems focusing on what to work on. I have at least four projects going and the kitchen is now covered in fabric!
I bought a chair at a government surplus sale the other day. It is pink...really pink. It wouldn't bother me since it is very comfortable and I got it to hand quilt in, but as expected DH really, really...did I say really...hates it! So other projects have been pushed aside as I quickly try to make a slipcover to hide the offending pink. Good think I hauled all this fabric over here! My slipcover my not be perfect but it will not be pink! Maybe that was why the chair was only $15?!
I also started a class on Tuesday on Medieval Pilgrimages. It is hosted by a local historical society. I'm having to brush up on my English history so as not to be the dimwitted American in the room! It is supposed to be fun and here I am cramming like I'm at university again! I hate to admit it but beyond a few basics at school and from watching Cadfael...OK more from Cadfael than knowledge of that time period is pretty limited. So I guess if there was ever a time and place to work on it this it! I did find some nice images to use in my journal page for this month...don't think this is what the instructor expects me to get out of the lectures though!!!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

What if I was a European....

I got caught up taking a half a dozen of these "What if..." surveys. I found out I am not scarey, I am more dog than cat, and that my year is 1961. No big surprises there however the next one did take me back a step....

Your Inner European is French!
Smart and sophisticated.
You have the best of everything - at least, *you* think so.

Couldn't beleive it...French! My Mom would get a real laugh out of that one! She wanted me to keep at my French after taking it for 3 years in grammer school. Now I wish I had taken her advice by instead I switched to Spanish - a much "cooler" language in the states. I was sure I would be British or German! Not that I have anything against the French....I plan on visiting there soon and do love french food, wine, and mmmmm-bread. Since I do a great deal of my life planning around my stomach I guess this does make sense!

Well it is raining again. It is getting really hard to walk the dog because of all the mud. If he doesn't get out though we'll both go crazy! Short post to clean house :(

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A day at the Auction

I went to my first antique auction here in the UK yesterday. It was a lot of fun. The weak dollar made me a little timid and though I bid often I only unded up with one lot - 10 pieces of Winchcombe pottery. I was happy. The phto on the left has a few of the pieces - there are a few more mugs, a pitcher and a bowl. There were some chairs that I really wanted but they went for double what I had planned to spend. I was happy when I overheard one of the old dealers near me say the winning bidder was "%$##! mad" to bid that high for them. He saw me smile and told me those types of chairs come up fairly often. (I think he was being nice because I gave him a box with some packing materials...)

Now you folks who live or have lived in the country will find the following paragraph a bit odd but remember I'm a city/suburban woman. I had no idea pigs were so big. Across the street from the auction house is a organic farm and they have a field with pigs and piglets in it. As I was walking from the farm stand to my car I was startled by somthing the size of my DH's was a pig...a big pig. No, a big, big, huge, slightly scarey pig! Pre-historic may be a good adjective. Forge the MS - I was in my car in seconds! So much for my image of cute little piglets!
Traffic is a bit crazy today. An actress, Liz Hurley, is getting married in the town/village a couple of miles from here. There were helicopters overhead as I walked the dog. They have even blocked off most of the parking around the town. What a pain! Of course today would be sunny (ok, at least only partly cloudy) and a perfect day to finish a walk around the town there that we were rained out of a couple of weeks ago....maybe i will get some more sewing done instead.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Blenheim Palace

I took some time out this week to be a tourist. I visited Blenheim Palace with a British American Group. The palace was built inthe early 1700's and is a World Heritage Site. It is the home of the 11th Duke of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Both the castle and the gardens are beautiful. Unfortunately it was raining (you see how grey the photos turned out!) so I only got to see a fraction of the gardens...I plan to go back in the summer.

There was an exhibit of Winston Churchill's letters that was very interesting. There were also several of his paintings. I had no idea he was such an artist. I really liked them.

The inside of the palace is impressive. There are several large tapestries that are gorgeous. Just above the front door is a large heraldry flag that gave me some ideas for an ATC. I have to say my favorite room was the library...two story tall walls of books! There was also a large organ at the end of the long room.
Needless to say I was wiped out by the time I got home so got little quilting done and DH had to settle for some Indian takeout for dinner. (Which we hardly ever do anymore but we were also celebrating a 50 point drop in his cholesterol level..that is my story and I'm sticking to it!)