Monday, 13 June 2016

Summer - where?

Afternoon all!

As I write this it's a grey and dismal day here - we're in June for ****s sake! Where is that summer weather we were promised? I was watching a tv program this morning, where they were interviewing an amateur weather forecaster. He was saying that the weather at Christmas determines the weather for the following summer. Therefore this year we would have about 2 or 3 weeks of summer weather in July/August! The rest would be wet and dismal. Just as well I've got plenty of stitching to keep me going then I suppose. Still he did forecast that Christmas this year should be frosty, but not deep snow, which should then herald a summer 2017 that we could be happy with. Long while to wait though!

Hopefully on Wednesday, we should be getting out garden patio sorted. Not sure if I elaborated before but we bought some artificial grass earlier this year, which we were going to lay on top of our existing patio outside the back door. Anyway - long story short - the original gardener we hired to do the job eventually didn't want to do it, and we had to find another. This time, the job is on to be done this week. My peony has just begun to come into flower and provides a bright splash of colour in the drabness.

Meanwhile, in the few summery days we have had, I have been out weeding our front garden, I'm leaving it almost bare this year, in an attempt to try and find/kill all the weeds which have been springing up there. One side seems to be a dandelion heaven and the other is a bindweed hotspot! I know that weeds are only flowers in the wrong place, but I really don't want them, so each time one springs up I try to dig it out and hopefully by next year I might have less to contend with.

DH is busy watching these Euro 2016 matches. I don't think he's missed one live yet! Still he did tape the second half of one match last night so that I could watch the season finale episode of Hawaii 5-0! And I do have my stitching to keep me company while he sits in front of the tv.

Better do a stitchy report now I suppose. While we were on our cruise, I managed to catch up with the Brooke's Books Advent Animals. (Although Brooke has just released number 24 in the series which I do have to stitch).

I decided that I'm stitching the name above each animal as I think they are a part of their charm. I've stitched them on long strips of Aida, and the first 2 strips (1-8 and 9-16) have already been part finished ready for assembly. I am going to make them into small pockets on a backcloth, which will hang from a kind of dowel rod. I've got Grumpy Kitty (again Brooke's pattern) to head up the hanging, so my plan is kind of coming together in my mind. 

I also managed to do a quick finish of a cover kit from a magazine (I think it was Cross Stitch Collection or possibly Cross Stitcher). This one will be a small hanging for the Christmas tree this year. 

Finally on to my Fairy Grandmother. I can finally say that I have restitched all that I had done before I had to frog everything, and have started to make more progress on it. This was how it looked a week or so ago - 
 This was not quite duplicating all I had done before. 

This was the start of some progress last week.
And this is where I've got to earlier today! 
I've decided to do her face 1 over 1 (it's 32 count), so I did the same for her hands as a test. I discovered that I can see the threads clearer if I peer over the top of my glasses! So I think that once we have had the garden settled, I must get round to making an opticians' appointment! I'm really not sure about the size of the beads against the rest, but it was what the pattern required, so I soldiered on with them. Also I couldn't make out the gold area just above the stripes on the bodice. It wasn't clear from the pattern. So after asking on Facebook and not getting a definitive answer from anyone who had already stitched this, I contacted Told In A Garden by email, explaining my plight. I had a reply from them in under 2 hours! They explained exactly what I should be stitching, and I was so happy with their prompt reply. It's always worth going back to the pattern maker if you have a query I've found.

Last of all I've acquired 2 new patterns (via from swapping a couple of my completed patterns. 
Hawaii Life!

 Christmas Friends.
This will go with the other Vickery Collection pattern I got a couple of years ago - 

I also managed to reframe a picture which I gave to my daughter some years ago. When we visited them last time, she have me a collection of broken frame pieces - it had dropped from it's hook and smashed. So I managed to reglue it back together, washed and restretched the picture and gave it back to her when we visited them last week. 
 Meet Valentino Rossi (Lyndisfarne Needlework kit) - freshly washed and reframed.

Well it's half time in the latest match, so I can get an answer if I ask DH what he wants for dinner! So I'd better go and turn on the oven!

Until next time - take care - and if you see the sun please remind it to come and shine over my way please?


Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Catching up with life!

Hi again everyone.

We returned safely from our cruise at the beginning of the month, but I came home with an added extra - a terrible cough which took weeks to shift! Still I feel better now, so thought I'd better get back to posting - this one will be about our holiday so I'll be posting lots of photos.

We left Heathrow Airport early afternoon and landed in Los Angeles in time for dinner! We managed a quick meal and then almost straight away hit the bed, as we were tired out! We'd been up from about 6am to get the taxi to the airport, and with an 11 hour flight it felt like we'd been awake for ever. Luckily we were in a hotel we'd stayed in before, so we knew that the food was good, and we didn't have to go out hunting for a restaurant!

The next morning we were being collected just after 1pm and taken to our ship - the Ruby Princess, so we had plenty of time to sit outside and relax for an hour or so! As soon as we could see the bridge at San Pedro we began to feel like it was going to be a good trip!

 Outside the Marriott Airport hotel - watching planes landing on the other side of the road! 
 Ruby Princess parks next to the bridge, so you know you've arrived when you spot the bridge from the coach!

 Inside the Atrium on Ruby Princess

Top deck - before the hoards take over the pool!

The first four days on board are sea days. Normally it takes me a couple of days to get my sea legs - but this time I was fine from the very first day. We spent time lounging around, catching a few rays (and putting a few stitches into my Brookes' Advent Animals which I had brought along for the ride! 

The first stop this time was Lahaina (on Maui). This involves getting onto a tender boat to go ashore. Greeting us as we stepped off the jetty was a small group of older people (residents) who were dancing hula and playing ukuleles. 

Then - just a few paces away - is the old Banyan tree. This year there was a craft market around the tree with lots of local craft for sale. There were loads of photographers who had printed photos onto aluminium - a process I had never seen before. 

After a walk along the main street, we stopped for a drink at a sea front bar, where we could watch the waves! We also spent a few minutes watching all the mini crabs who were sunning themselves on the rocks below us! Who said that holidays had to be active!!
That's our ship in the distance! 

Back on board, there was a sailaway deck party and several cocktails to try before dinner! The next morning we docked in Hilo (Big Island of Hawaii). This time we opted for a hop on hop off bus. Hilo is only a small town, and the bus takes you out to the Rainbow Falls on one side of the town and then ends up at the black sand beach on the opposite side before taking you back to the ship. Here's a few shots of Hilo.
Rainbow Falls

King Kamehameha statue in Hilo

Japanese Gardens

Green Turtles (Honu) relaxing on the beach! This was the first time we had spotted turtles on our trips to Hawaii, so it was a very special day. 

Back on board again, but not before I found a Ben Franklins store and spent a few pounds topping up some craft supplies! The next day we were due to go ashore in Honolulu (Oahu). It was to be a full day (8am - 10.30pm!) We had booked tickets again for the hop on hop off bus, which would allow us to see as much as possible in the time we had available. 
On the road up to Diamond Head

On the way down from Diamond Head Crater, you drive past the Film Studios where Hawaii 5-0 is filmed. I wasn't able to get a photo of it, but that big monster truck that Steve McGarrett drives was parked outside! Shame they weren't filming though as the series was wrapped a few weeks before! So of course the next photo has to be where the Five-0 offices are based (in the show that is!)

We actually took two routes on the tour bus - the trip up to Diamond Head and back and the Historic route which took us around Honolulu itself. When we got back to the Ala Moana shopping centre, we hopped off and did a bit of shopping. Back on the bus we made a quick stop at Waikiki Beach (you just have to dip your feet in the ocean there!) before heading back to the ship for dinner. Some people had booked to go to a luau, but it had been included in a full day tour to the Polynesian Centre which would have meant we couldn't go round the town itself, so we decided not to do it on this trip. (maybe we'll have to go back again to do that!)
Waikiki Beach

Back on board and the next stop was Nawiliwili (Kaui). Hopping onto the free bus (see there's a common theme here?) we hopped off at the local beach and shops. Wandering round and sitting on the beach for a while to enjoy the day has to be one of the best things on holiday. Especially when people at home are freezing cold! 
 Early in the morning

Later in the day!

Before we went back on board, we took a side trip to Walmart where I bought some cotton fabric much cheaper than it would be at home. I picked up three nice lengths which will make some summer dresses and a charm square pack (for quilting) of fabrics which look like Hawaiian shirt material! Might make that into a nice quilted table runner or some table mats for outside on the patio table. Once everyone was back on board, we headed back across the Pacific - five days at sea this time!

The last stop was Ensenada (Mexico). I know they have to make a stop somewhere outside of the USA in order to be able to sell duty free on board (and also something to do with it being a non US registered ship) but there was little to do here. As this was our fourth cruise on this route, we had already done the trips organised by the ship, and the town itself doesn't have much to recommend it, so after a quick walk around the town, we spent most of the rest of the afternoon taking photos around the almost empty ship, and packing! 

An early morning arrival back in LA, and we were off on our last trip. We had booked to go to Long Beach, especially as our flight home wasn't until 9pm, and we were one of the first groups off the ship. We wandered round the Queen Mary, had lunch and were collected again. It did mean that we were at the airport by 1.30pm though (we had hoped to be longer in Long Beach), so we had to sit at the airport for quite a few hours! And if anyone has travelled through Virgin Atlantic at LA you will know that there isn't much to do there! Lucky I had my stitching in my carry on bag eh?

So after that whirlwind tour of our cruise, I suppose I had better let you all get on with life! Hope you enjoyed the photos. Next time I'll fill you in on my stitching progress

Until then, take care everyone

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Off again soon!

Right - for those of you wondering where we are off to this time I'll keep you waiting no more.

This weekend we are flying with Virgin America to Los Angeles, and then onto Ruby Princess for yet another Hawaiian cruise!
Hopefully we will get some wonderful weather and warmth. I am so fed up with being cold!

So I will not be updating this blog until after we get back, when I'll try to post a few photos of our trip. We keep thinking that this might be our last long haul flight - it's 11 hours in a plane from Heathrow. We have upgraded our seats to Premium Economy - more leg room and wider seats to mention just two advantages!

So I have spent the last couple of days inundated with washing and ironing. The two cases we are taking are almost packed, but I will have to repack, as I need to split his and hers clothes between the two cases - just in case! I will never forget the sinking feeling when our cases were left behind at Sydney Airport when we flew on to Auckland to catch a cruise liner there. Luckily our bags turned up before we were due to board the ship, but that sinking feeling that we might be in the clothes we stood up in for days was frightening. Now if the clothes are mixed in each case and one disappears en route, at least we would both have changes of clothes for a few days!

What I do have to do is sort out my stitching bag to take with me. I've made a new lined project bag (following the video by The Twisted Stitcher for guidance). I've decided that I am going to take a couple of mini kits which came as free gifts on magazines for the flights, but I'm going to pack Brooke's Advent Animal freebies so that I can catch up. I have finished up to number 18, so I have the rest printed off and the colours sorted for them. I'm also packing one of Brooke's angels - or maybe one of her little witches - just in case I get everything else finished!

By the way I'm slowly getting my disastrous Fairy Grandmother frogged, and I have marked on the fabric exactly where I should start next time! But I am delaying starting it again until after we come home.

So I'm off into the wide blue yonder shortly, and I'll catch up with you all soon.
Take care until then

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Changed my mind!

Well today I was going to tell you about our next holiday - but instead I'm after some uplifting thoughts!

Yesterday I got out my Fairy grandmother to put a few more stitches in. Here is where I was.
Now if you compare it to the photo I posted last time, you will see where I am on the pattern - 
I had just reached the point of her sleeve up to her neckline. So I decided to move my frame to give myself a bit more space. 


I checked and double checked - NOOOOOOO! When I actually looked at the positioning, I worked out what I had done. The bottom line I had stitched was the centre line. But I had stitched it on the line 3/4 of the way up! I tried to grid and count to see if it would fit on the fabric I had left. But even that wouldn't work. When I had gridded the extra I would need, I was right on the selvedge edge of the fabric. Could I chop off a few lines of the pattern - just not sew them? No - even that did not work as the fairy wings go virtually to the top of the page.

So I had to bite the bullet and admit defeat. I started to unpick it last night and carried on today. It is so disheartening. I have actually put it back on the frame - I have turned the fabric round, so what was the top of the fabric is now on the bottom. It means that tomorrow I can start again and unpick a bit at a time. 

On Friday we had dinner with some friends who have just come back from an 8 week holiday in Australia. They showed us some of their photos, and more than ever now I am desperate for some sunshine which might warm these old bones of mine. Now I promise more of that next time!

Sunday dinner calls - roast chicken today!
Until next time
take care

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Updating again!

Right - dismal Sunday here. DH left me to sleep in this morning, so I actually got up this afternoon! I keep telling myself that I must have needed the extra sleeping time as my nights have been a bit disturbed lately. That's my excuse anyway!

This week, we have been chasing 2 garden firms over quotes for getting our artificial grass laid. They vary from £320 to over £600 - and both are quoting for exactly the same materials etc! The one with the lowest quote, currently has no van (it blew up a couple of weeks ago!), so depending on when he gets that back, we might get the job done during the week after Easter! We wait - and hope!

Stitching has been a little slow over the last few days. I've been busy sewing a few things for our upcoming holiday - more on that in another post - I guess those cushions etc gave me the sewing bug back! I was trying to make a waistcoat yesterday and hit a brick wall when I tried to remember how to turn it right side out! Then I realised that I have stitched the shoulder seams up when I should have left them open! So as it was dinner time, I put it to one side. I'll have to unpick those tomorrow then I can finish it! So far I've completed a dress (which has sat around for about 2 years), and a new tunic top.

My cross stitch has moved on two fronts. I completed this card which I'm going to give to a dear friend when we next meet up for afternoon tea.
This was a free gift from a magazine.

Then I picked up my Fairy Grandmother again. I was gifted the pattern by a lady in New Zealand who already had it in her stash, when she inherited a friend's stitchy stash. She kindly sent it to me along with a few skeins which would be used in it.

As you can see I've still got a long way to go, but I'm just loving the colours in it.And for a Lavender & Lace pattern there are only a few beads and metallics, so that's an added advantage!

Better go - I can smell the roast beef cooking and it's making me hungry! As I got up late we're eating our main meal tonight!

Take care

Monday, 14 March 2016

A quick catch-up

Morning everyone! The sun has finally found its way through the clouds here and although at present my garden looks a mess, it is heart-warming to look out and see blue skies.

Our latest plan for the garden involves a large roll of astroturf! Not a football pitch sized piece, but too big for DH and I to manage between us. So this morning we had a visit from a gardener, who is going to give us a quote to lay it for us. We had a beautiful awning put up a few weeks ago, and with the astroturf laid across what was our patio, it should make the garden really good in time for summer. I'll save the pics until it's all complete rather than the mess it looks now!
This is what it looked like one night recently!

On the stitching front I am pleased to have 3 pieces which have finally not only been completed - but made into finished articles! The two sugar skulls have been made into cushions for my daughter and her husband. She really wanted a sugar skull, and I stitched this on last year's holiday to Egypt, but I never made it up. As her husband is a fan of the Star Wars movies, I made up the second one and decided to create two large cushions for them.
Shown on my bed!

I also completed the Ursula Michael Let's Unicorn. This is for my granddaughter who is MAD for My Little Pony. I made up the tote bag using a new fabric tote which I had never used as the lining.

Hopefully she can either use it to take her outfit to dance classes or maybe to Rainbows, which she started recently. Even if she only uses it to keep her collection of ponies in, it will be great! As we are driving over to see them today, I shall take them as alternative Easter presents - of the non-chocolate variety!

Better go now - things to do before we get the car out for our trip to our daughter. 

Take care

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Do I continue...or not?

I have finally decided that I should return to this blog. So much happened over the last year, and none of it was committed to my blog. Holidays, stitching, family, health. All passed by without comment from me! Or at least no WRITTEN comment!

The time has come to decide if I continue with this outpouring of my thoughts. It's not as if my life has been filled to the brim with exciting happenings. Mike and I tend to lead a quiet life!

This year we have decided that we are going on another Hawaiian Cruise with Princess Cruises. It may well be our last long-haul trip as I am now suffering with sciatica, and the thought of a long 11 hours strapped to an airplane seat does not fill me with joy like it used to! So after this trip we will probably keep more to Europe (although that has it's disadvantages to these days!)

Following our holiday decision, we decided to spend some more money on our garden, so this year that's where I'll be spending more time. If you want to keep up with me, I'll try to show progress pictures of the changes we intend to make.

My cross stitch is still making progress. I started the Lavender & Lace Fairy Grandmother, and also an Ursula Michael - Let's Unicorn. (current photos below)


I also completed another sugar skull which I aim to complete as a cushion. My daughter and her husband will get sugar skull cushions for Easter this year, and I hope to get the unicorn one completed as a cushion for Jessica. 

We went to see our daughter and Jess over half-term in February. Jess is doing really well now at school. She has also joined Rainbows (junior Brownies) and a Dance class, which all seem to be helping with her speech as well as her co-ordination. 

Still - I am so cold here now that I'm going to abandon this - sitting still at the laptop is not really conducive to keeping the temperature up! Gotta go and find another sweater!