Saturday, 30 January 2010

Snow/Sew Day

Snowing heavily here today so apart from walking Logan we are having a cosy time. Stuart is napping as he had a stressful time when he returned from Madrid because he had to drive home on Glatteis (sheet ice) on the Autobahn from Düsseldorf. We are going to a Burns Night Dinner tonight and he is giving the 'Speech to the Lassies', so he's having a nice snooze and we'll take a taxi tonight so that neither snow nor whisky will cause a problem getting home. I'm going to continue with the Crescent and Star quilt blocks for my youngest daughter. They look like this:

I had wanted to make her a quilt for her International School graduation as I had for our oldest daughter but she couldn't make up her mind what she wanted. This went on until Summer 2009 (after two years at university) when she made her choice. If I'm industrious, it might be ready for her university graduation - only three years late... Although I could make these blocks by machine, the pattern recommended hand-sewing and it is really nice to have something very portable. I sew these while watching tv, take them on long car journeys to Britain, etc and they are challenging and interesting to make. Soon I will have enough and then comes a white border with applique swags and circles.

Friday, 29 January 2010


Bought some really good chestnuts a few days ago at a market stall. I have a passion for chestnuts and managed to gather about five kilos from the park and the trees along the river (Rhein) in the autumn. I also collected walnuts. I would take Logan, our border terrier, out for a walk and just fill up my pockets every time. Then they became super-abundant and I took a plastic bag with me. Among other gatherers I met someone I called Walnut Man who was ignoring chestnuts and just going for walnuts - we had a short-lived 'nut' relationship whereby I would hand over any walnuts I'd got that day and he would throw up his giant heavy stick into the nearest chestnut trees and fill up my bag for me. A strange little friendship - I wonder if I will see him next autumn. I used some chestnuts to make and freeze stuffing for the Christmas turkey, puree for soup and I roasted and ate the rest, mmm! I am roasting some now before I sit and watch another episode of 'The Wire' borrowed from a friend and I shall think back to those golden autumn walks and exchanges with the Walnuss Mann.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

I love Thursdays!

Because Thursday is a non-work day. Because Thursday is our quilt group day. Because anything we eat on Thursdays is calorie-free and guilt-free. Mind you, two people are avoiding desserts at the moment but I don't feel guilty because I shall start cutting down in February (oh dear, that's next week). Well, we are going to a Burns Night dinner this Saturday and February starts the next day so that's okay. We are only six/seven people and we take turns to host the group and cook lunch. The Spiced Carrot soup was really good, it never fails. The cookies I had not made before and did not have quite enough cranberries for the recipe so I added some chopped hazelnuts to make up the amount. I've passed on the recipe to my daughters because these cookies were so buttery and melty/chewy.

I was expecting to help Gay handsew the binding to the group fundraising quilt which will be raffled. The money raised will be donated to the local church to fund the youth mission trip to Romania. Every year a group of high school students go to a country where help is needed and they work (very hard) but have a lot of fun as well. In the past they have helped to renovate buildings for orphanages, refuges, etc. They learn a lot and, as I said before, my daughters both came back exhausted but happy and wiser. Well, Gay had finished everything all by herself, sore fingers and all. Here's the finished quilt:

It is made from some African fabrics that Gay had bought some time ago. It is not the sort of quilt I would make for myself because the colours would not go with anything in our home but it has been fun to make and is going to make the winner very cosy.

I really need some help with how to get photos uploaded in the right order with paragraphs of text. Anyone out there who knows a quick way, please give me a tip or two. At the moment, I'm moving them about in a time-consuming and probably dinosaur-like way. Can someone bring me up to date?

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Post or decorate?

I've been reading quilting blogs for the last couple of years, lurking, watching, thinking. Now I've got my own but have the impression that it's a bit empty and plain compared with most that I read. They are decorated with patterns, full of little sidebar things and have a busy, productive look about them. This one still looks a bit sparse. It took me so long to work out how to do the header photograph and how to get photos into the posts that I dread to think how long it would take me to find the fiddly things as well. How come everybody knows this stuff? Anyway, I think I'll just carry on posting and get fancy-nancy later on as I'm feeling much too tired to try tonight. Woke up today with a terrible headache and at 8.20p.m. still have it. It's been that kind of a day. Still, tomorrow the quilters are coming here and we're going to finish off the fundraising quilt for Romania (shall take a photo of it then). I'll feed them Indian spiced carrot soup (my friend Gay's recipe) and then white chocolate and cranberry cookies. Just the thought of that has cheered me up and made me feel better about being in cold and icy Bonn while Stuart goes off to Madrid tomorrow, Grrrr!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Not talking to myself

I discovered yesterday that Google had finally listed this blog - thank you, Olivia, for noticing. And also cheering were two encouraging comments from Zoe and Jennifer, both of whom were friends of mine during our time in the Netherlands. I was warned about the feeling of 'talking into empty air' when a blog first starts and now I know what they meant but I shall have to be careful not to drivel on now that I know there is someone there... Thank you!

Monday, 25 January 2010

More Insane blocks

And here are some more!

Nearly Insane Quilt progress

I am putting my Nearly Insane blocks here just now so I have a permanent photo record of them. Last year, our main computer died and we couldn't retrieve any of our photos. We have taken measures so this won't happen again but I am now wary of just uploading photos and leaving them there. So, here are the first eight blocks.

I haven't done any sewing on these blocks since September 09 and I really should get back to it - want to get back to it - but need to finish a couple of other quilts first. My German friend, Renate, who lives in South Carolina, has got to the same point I have and I think one of us needs to move on to push the other...

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Split nine-patch

I bought a couple of charm packs a while ago and then realised that there weren't many choices of what to do with them that pleased me. I decided in the end to make a split nine-patch with them and I'm very happy with it. This is the one on my quilting frame at the moment. I love hand-quilting but was having some trouble with my left elbow (I am right-handed) from gripping the fabric while sewing without a frame (that's the way I liked to sew). I realised that I had to start using a frame and decided a standing hand-quilting frame would be my Christmas present for 2009. My lovely husband, however, insisted that this was not an indulgence but a necessity since I was damaging my arm without one. So we travelled down to Aschaffenburg (near Frankfurt) where there is a large quilting shop which serves the American forces stationed nearby and I not only got the frame but bought the shop model (in perfect condition) discounted by eighty Euros. This is the first quilt that I have used it for.

Japanese log cabin

I'm very new to blogging and can't work out how to get the words to come before the photos so will have to have photos first for a while. The quilt above is a log cabin I did with Japanese taupes and it is the first quilt that I've decided to put on a wall rather than snuggle in. I loved every minute of making this one because the fabrics were so subtle and beautiful.

Back in Germany

Well, we had a really easy journey to my daughter's graduation last weekend and a wonderful time while we were there, but we had an awful journey back. We left Sheffield at 7a.m. in heavy rain and the windscreen wipers stayed on fast until we reached the Channel Tunnel in Folkestone. Just after we left Calais the heavy rain began again and stayed until one and a half hours from Bonn when it started snowing. We reached home at 10.15p.m. and excluding coffee stops and half an hour on the channel tunnel train, Stuart had done all the driving (at his insistence!). It was so stressful and tiring.

I must tell you the camera story. On the way to the restaurant for our celebration dinner, my daughter's boyfriend, Howard, mislaid his camera - we thought either in the hotel bar or in the taxi. Enquiries produced nothing and we thought his camera and all the lovely photos were gone for ever. Amazingly, the camera was found in the taxi by a very nice lady who didn't feel right just handing it over to the driver. She took it home, looked at the photos and quickly realised they were of a graduation at Sheffield but then she noticed that in one photo Howard was holding up his diploma and she zoomed in to read the name! She then contacted the university and they phoned Howard. All this restored our faith in human nature being good. But there was another twist to the tale. One of Howard's friends who also graduated that day with the same diploma is married to a doctor and when she was at work talking about her husband's graduation, a colleague said that her mother found a camera in a taxi with graduation photos on it. The doctor shrieked, 'I don't believe it - that camera belongs to my friend, Howard!' Howard was very surprised to get two phone calls about the camera, one from the university and one from the doctor friend. We have all decided that he was really meant to get those photos back...

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Nearly Insane Nr.1

Just a few words because we are meant to be travelling to England tomorrow and I need to pack. Our 23 year old (eldest) daughter has her second university graduation ceremony on Friday. However, it is snowing in England and snowing here and our journey is in doubt - we'll decide early tomorrow morning if we can travel or not (we need to drive from Germany across Holland, Belgium and France to the Channel Tunnel and that's just one part of the journey). So, I'll just try my first photo upload on this blog and see if it works... Yes, it did, although it was meant to come after the words! Off to pack.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Lazy Sunday

What Lazy Sunday means is that I still haven't uploaded any photos. And I wanted this to be a quilting blog. I'll get there eventually but having a blog is still so new that I have no routine for posting. I felt guilty yesterday because I was cooking for friends coming to dinner and felt the blog lowering over me as though I had let it down. I have now had a talk with myself and decided it will be a journal, not a diary, so I can post or not post and feel fine about both.

The dinner went well. I cooked: cheese pastry tartlets filled with balsamic caramelised onions and topped with grilled goat's cheese (these were good but the caramelisation took ages and I had hoped they would taste sensational - they were just nice), then salmon with a honey and coriander glaze and jasmine rice with ginger - this was light and healthy after all the meat-eating we've done over Christmas and New Year. The glaze did slightly burn, though, and the syrup that had to be made from the marinade was too strong and sickly sweet so we used very little of it. The ginger rice was good and I would do that again. We finished with an easy dessert - Mars Bar mousses. I had seen several recipes for this and they were all very different so I picked the one with no cream. I sometimes find chocolate mousse too dark and intense and these made a sweeter, fudgier version. Two of our friends, Austrian and German, are moving to the beautiful island of Sylt (North Germany) to take up a new job and this was a little celebration/goodbye dinner. The six of us had a lovely evening and spent a nice long time over cheese, fruit, eiswein and port.

So now you know why today was Lazy Sunday. Work tomorrow morning if it doesn't snow heavily tonight. Photos soon.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

No quilt photos yet...

I wanted to begin with photos of the quilts I have made so far, but that plan went astray when the snow began to cause us problems. We have spent the last two days waiting for our 20 year old (youngest) daughter to get a flight back to England for university. It has been very stressful and I have greatly admired her resilience in the face of such difficulties. Considering that she waited 24 hours to get a flight home before Christmas, she really didn't deserve another two days of cancelled and postponed flights.
So now it is just husband Stuart and me on our own again, I can get on with the hand-quilting I have promised to do on a quilt our group is making. This quilt is to be raffled to raise money for the local American church's youth mission trip to Romania this Easter. Although I do not go often to church, both my daughters were in the youth group when they lived in Bonn and both went on a couple of mission trips. They believe they gained a lot from the experiences they had and I feel they grew in confidence and strength because of the hardships they endured and those they witnessed around them. So we are making a very bright quilt with African fabrics and are sharing sections of the quilting. I will post a photo tomorrow.
While I'm quilting, I shall be thinking of what to cook for friends who are coming to dinner on Saturday and hoping everyone is keeping snug in this very cold weather.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

First Blog

It has taken me so long to decide to have a blog that now it is set up I have got Blogfright and can't think of anything either clever, witty or meaningful to say! There is a strong feeling that I have to make an impact somehow in order to break the ice. I am resisting this and think the ice is sufficiently cracked just from these few sentences for me to escape and walk our border terrier. We'll meet again tomorrow...