Tuesday, August 26, 2008

London Calling

We went up to London for a few days. My Dh is starting to say "this is our last chance to..." about every hour! So we took the Bank holiday weekend as a last chance to see a couple of show at the west end (Jersey Boys and Mousetrap) and to get some good Greek and Middle Eastern Food.

Saturday was my day to go to the markets. I went over to Portebello Road early. This is an interesting antique market but don't expect any deals there! It was very crowded and I left earlier than I expected which was OK because that ment I was in time to meet my DH at Camden Market.
The last time we went to Camden was at least 8 years ago. We haven't gone back because my DH was noticeable uncomfortable with the Goth/Punk atmosphere. This time he had no problems - it has been yuppified. There are still elements of the old Camden yard but they seem a bit "Disney-d." For instance there was only one guy there with the shabby leathers, florescent pink mohawk, and torn t-shirt...he was a poser. For a 1 pound coin you take his photo...the Camden equivalent of Mickey Mouse. (He also had not tattoos and no piercings...wimp!) Not just the atmosphere has changed but the things for sale were 80% imports from the far east. Many of the stalls were just repeats of stalls on the other side of the market. The stalls inside the Canal building are much better and the food stalls in the courtyard next to the canal are wonderful. (best to go there hungry!) Interesting that sometimes the prices in the shops along the road are less then in the market...and that is with my DH negotiating.

So my advice for Camden is to go on a Saturday. Hold onto your money until you get to the stalls inside the building. There are some good crafts there but do not expect any antiques like most of the webpostings promise. Also, wonder the small food court before deciding what to have for lunch...there are lots of great choices! (My Dh had Lebanese and I had Ethiopian goat curry followed by a cappachino and French puff pastry! Calories don't count on vacation...)
That afternoon I went to the National Gallery. It was wonderful I love Van Gogh so seeing another of his sunflower paintings is always exciting. They have so much more energy when seen in real life. The paint is so thick and has so much texture. Right now I can see oranges, yellows and greens better than reds, blues and greens so the sunflowers really seemed to glow for me! We had really good Greek food at Jimmies near the theater.

Sunday we went to yet another market! This time to Spitalfields and Brick Lane. These I strongly recommend! Lots of crafts, young designers and vintage clothes. The food at the Brick Lane was again really, really good. I ended up buying a trench coat, a belt, and a pocketbook. I would have bought more if I was about 4 sizes smaller....I did love the red chairs in the photo above. I took about 8 photos and have been playing with them on Picassa.

There was an Olympic handover party we made a showing at but I cut out early to spend a few hours at the V&A. The tearoom there is one of my favorite stops in London. Each of the three rooms was decorated by a famous designer (including William Morris) and are just wonderful eye candy...the almond croissant isn't bad either. (Ok, I have given up on fitting into any of the designer clothes....)

That night we just had dinner at a little place in China town. Then I went back to the hotel too exhausted to see any more...

Today I am home resting...needless to say I overdid it the past few days. Too many "my last chance to...." finally wore me out! Lots of inspiration though. I filled dozens of pages in my dream book and took lots of photos.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Crafty stuff

I took a break this morning to do some crafts with the local kids. It will most likely be my last time since next week we will be shipping my Dh's car and packing out will start to go into overdrive!

We finished up their shopping bags, made some beaded bracelets, some bookmarks and ate Victorian Sponge Cake (almond cake with raspberry jam - may favorite!.) A good morning all around.

The bookmarks were a lot of fun to make. These are still on the kitchen table waiting for the glue to dry. The girls will pick them up tomorrow. They match the book-bags they made for going back to school...though how many books a 5 year old carries I don't know.... I do know that if your give a 5 year old girl glitter glue pens you have to be prepared to cut some of your dogs hair! (And give the poor pup a long time to recover...) I can tell when Mac is really tired - he snores!

Well, off to spend a couple hours sorting and packing...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Forgot what sun looked like...

I had so many plans to work in the house today to get ready for visitors and for the move but there is sun! Real sun with real blue skies! None of the big billowing grey clouds we have lived under for the past month or so. It feels so good. Housework will just have to wait....

Yesterday I put the border on my Orphan/scrappy quilt top. There are so many random bias seams in this I think I'd better get it quilted soon before it morphs into one of those pointy hats...For example right after I put it together I squared it off. The only thing I did after that was hang it on the clothesline for a couple of minutes to take a photo then I folded it up and placed it on a shelf. (I may have taken it out one other time to show some quilters here are the house.) Regardless, compared to the lives of my otehr quilt-tops this one has had it easy. However when I laid it out on the floor I did a quick measure and found that one corner had streatched out almost an inch...back to squaring up this monster. I hope the borders will help.

I know I cut enough of the red fabric to go around the entire quilt but one strip was missing. The gold fabric on the top of the quilt was the first piece of solid 3 inch strip I found in the box so like a game of tag - that was "it." It does serve a purpose - reminds me which side it the top!

I also did some more packing this week and actually found some things that had been missing since we moved here two years ago! How great is that! Some of these were real finds: a footpedal for one of my machines that I was sure was long gone; my Cobb Quilt that I started back in 1997 (!); a box of beads that also had a bracelet I made while on a trip to Florida. You can see in the photo above that I tried to represent Amish quilt blocks with beads. Typical of my projects - all it needs is a button or large bead on the end and it is done! When I look at this it reminds me that not all that long ago I had really good eyes!

Well, off for a walk with Macbeth and to take advantage of the rays while we can.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Vintage Fungly and a plain Fun recipe

I've been packing up some of my vintage quilts and came across a truely vintage fungly! Perhaps we are on the verge of a fungly revival?I love the little panda bears in the yellow fabric! Some of the blocks are frugal pieced and there is one little ninepatch for a center on the far right center row. Unfortunately much of the orange fabric is too delicate to quilt. I think the blue ticking fabric is what holds it all together both design and structure-wise. It will just stay a top forever and give a smile every time I take it out of it's bag/pillowcase! The squares making up the nine-patch are 4-1/2 inch finished...you could easily make this "pattern?" with some charm packs and a couple of yards of fabric.
The little "thief" above was at the boot-sale the other weekend. He ran off with this bone from a stand selling them. The owner was very nice and went back and bought it for him. He doesn't look guilty at all!
Above is another chair recovering project I bought at auction. I love the lines of the mahogany curved arms (very Ralph Lauren-y.) Best of all it is a folding chair! Under the funky gray silk is a thick brushed fabric that is very worn in the center. Part of me wants to get going on this but the rational side says to wait until I get back to the states....we'll see. At least it already has the Brownie seal of approval.

I took a few minutes out from pre-packing and funglies to actually cook. My DH was feeling very bad for himself. Since my eyes have been acting up he has been eating a lot of spaghetti. So last night I made him some Keftaides Tou Fournou just like his former mother in law used to make! The best part - it will feed him for a week so I can go back to sewing!

Meatballs a la Smyrna (Keftaides Tou Fournou)

2 pounds ground beef
2 onions, finely chopped
2 sprigs parsley, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 egg beaten
salt and pepper

2 Tablespoons tomato paste
8 ounces water
4 ounces olive oil
4 bay leaves

(optional: 1 Tablespoon dried mint and/or 1 tsp Allspice)

In a large bowl, add ground beef, one chopped onion, parsley, garlic, and seasonings to taste. Add beaten egg and knead well.

Ina large frying pan, add 2 ounces of oil and saute second chopped onion until soft and transparent. Dilute the tomato paste in the water and add to the onion. Cook for 15 minutes.

With floured hands shape the "meatballs" into oval shaped 3 inches long by 1-1/2 wide. In a second frying pan heat the reamining oil and brown the meatballs on all sides. Place the meatballs in a baking pan. Add the bay leaves to the tomato mixture and then pour over the meatballs. Cover the pan with foil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for about 10 more minutes or until the meatballs have a brownish-red tint.

Serve over rice pilaf or with crusty bread and a Greek salad. Makes 20-24 meatballs. (Freezes well)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

New Fungly Challenge

Tonya at Lazy Gal Quilting and Bonnie at Quiltville are challenging folks to try Fungly quilts...basically using simple blocks with ugly/old fabric.

So here are my first blocks...my favorite ugly block has this animal print with the entomology fabric.
I have been doing a bit of a fabric clear-out. I found the fabric fell into several groups: novelty fabric (like the animal and entomology prints) that I bought for a specific project or on impulse; I must have had a metallic period because there is a lot of it lurking in my stash (and I haven't used it in at least 6 years!); which leads me to the last group, old fabric. If the fabric was made after 1970 and before 2000 then I had to seriously wonder why I still had it. Unless I love it then it was put aside to be used before I leave or leave in the UK. I am not packing and unpacking it yet again.

Besides using for the fungly quilt I have used a lot of it making bags. Here in the UK plastic bags have become a pariah but most of the reusable bags are a bit boring. So I found a super simple pattern on the internet on the All People Quilt site. It basically uses two half yard pieces of fabric and makes a reversible bag that can be rolled up and kept in the glove compartment.
Here is Goldie hiding in the apple tree in our front yard. Couldn't find a good spot for this photo but had to get it on the blog!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Back again...

I know it has been a while since I posted. I'd go through the long explanation of my eyes going wonky, not being able to use the computer...I don't want to be too whiney so I'll just leave it at that. I have found that I see colors better right now by taking photos , downloading to Picassa and then hitting either the color saturation option or the black and white option. I used that laying out the blocks above. There are a couple of not dark but not light blocks (they were samples made while I was teaching new quilters ) that were fighting me. Using the photos I found the "problem" blocks worked best in the corners. Who knows I may even finish this one since you don't have to see colors to hand quilt!

The photo above is from Chedworth Roman Villa in Yanworth. It is one of my favorite sites to bring visitors. On a sunny day the mosaics look amazing and it really gives you a feel for how a villa was laid out. Earlier someone posted and asked for more mosaic photos so as I find them (my photos need organizing again....) I'll post! I'm sure there is a quilting pattern in those floors....

I did make it to the Tewkesbury Medieval festival again this year. The photos are of a Morris Dancer group. I love their costumes. The one with the bright mask represents summer...of course it was rainy and cold that day!

I haven't been doing much sewing...except for bags. I found a really easy pattern on the internet for a medium size tote. You can never have too many of these...ok, maybe I do have too many now but I never seem to have them with me when I am shopping so now I have made a tote bag for my tote bags. This made it easier for me to carry the bags in the car and I am happy to announce I have even run out of store plastic bags! It may be time to retire that funny little plastic-bags-carrier-tube I made years and years ago that hangs behind the kitchen door. So is that progress - I've gone from making a storage bag for my plastic bags to a carrier bag for my carrier bags?!