Wednesday, 20 May 2009


OK I confess, I have an inability to concentrate at the moment, tick tick tick...I find I am just watching time passing me by a second at a time.  Some days I awake and I am in 'full on' action mode, the washing gets done, the house gets cleaned and I even manage some time sewing.  Then there are those other days I struggle to get out of bed in the morning and the day just sort of gets lost... I have noticed I am am having more of the latter than I find acceptable,  despite the present situation I find my little family in.  So I am trying to take action.  Whats a crafty girl going to do when the going gets tough??? Well get crafting of course... now inspired by some yarn and a knitting book I bought a while ago I finally got round to some chicken knitting.  I had planned to knit these a while ago and when I saw .....Periwinkle Park.....  (8th May 09) results I was inspired to pick up the pins.  Something that needed shaping, a little concentration even but, quick results...
So I sat there on Saturday night in front of the fire with a quilt over my knee and watching a tear jerker of a film with a good glass of wine for company I got clacking (or should that be clucking) away.
Ahhhhhhhh I am now on to the crochet bits, as I do not crochet very well this could be challenging...

I have been really good this year on my book buying and only actually bought a couple of books.  Recently though I have had a desire to hold some new inspirational books in my hands.  So I took a peek through blogland and noted down the books recommended and made some purchases.  As the books arrived the guilt of buying myself something kicked in.  It disturbed me a little, I looked back on last years 'May'  postings and I discovered I had bought a pile of books at just the same time.  SO I am guessing its a season thing with me, after the bleakness of winter passing and the promise of sunny days, the in between stage of rainy days and gloriously sunny days, it aspires me to get lost in the beautiful pages and the wonderful photographs of these books...
I am slowly working my way through them, devouring each book with passion, my head is spinning with ideas and my design pad is getting scribbled in daily.  My guilt in these purchases is still there, but I justify them against the price of a meal out or of a few drinks in a county pub on a Sunday afternoon, things I just do not do anymore, and I feel that taking that into account, these books are good value, and what is more they will last me for years to come.  I am especially enjoying the Homemade book, to be fair its nothing none of us will find new, but the photography is superb and I adore the feel of the matt pages, not shiny and glossy but a lovely smooth papery texture...just beautiful.  Should you buy a book for beauty alone...I should think so!!!
Its also that time of year when the food I feed my family changes.  The heavy warming stews cooked in the slow cooker and the thick creamy soups of winter are now not being made.  I sift through my cookery book shelf looking for brighter, lighter summery dishes.  So once again fresh inspiration is required... with books like these, Voluptuous delights, Family cooking and the wonderful Bill Granger's Feed me... well there will be some goodness  being put out on the dinner table this summer that's for sure.  My favourite cooks are the fabulous Jamie Oliver who's energy and zest for living really speaks to me.  The other favourite is Bill Granger, his books are always so beautifully photographed and the lifestyle he puts over is incredibly appealing to me (OK I give in I also find him very attractive)... 
The opening words from his cookery book...I really don't think we can underestimate the importance of good food in our lives.  Providing nutritious and delicious meals for loved ones-and taking time to eat together-is one of life's prime sources of satisfaction.  It is also fundamental to good health and happiness.  But, in today's world, where the pace of life seems to be ever increasing, and we are all juggling competing priorities, time for preparing and sharing meals can easily be compromised.  But it needn't be... and should not be.

Well I could not have said it better myself if I tried...The book is filled with family orientated food, with excellent (and available) ingredients, all laid out in easy to follow  chapters with stunning pictures.  Yes maybe its a lifestyle kinda thing but his books are the most inspiring for me and if you get a chance to watch his cookery programmes, pull on your shades, imagine the sand between your toes and the salty sea spray as you enjoy outdoor eating!

Music I am listening to... Nelly Furtado In Gods Hands
A beautiful person with a stunning voice, a song that rips through my heart about love lost, trust and sadness. 

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Show and tell...

The therapy that sewing and knitting offers should never be overlooked, the repetitive action of knitting allows me to clear my head and relax my body, as I watch my fingers instinctively work with rhythm and flow creating the fabric, a process that actually involves little thought (unless its a complicated piece) it feels natural and soothing like time has just slowed down.  Sewing a quilt offers me a similar meditative state...I have been working on my summer quilt, a simple jelly roll quilt, as I sewed the pieces together enjoying the colour combinations I allowed my thoughts to flow, worries and anxieties slowly through the process of sewing and concentrating on that quarter of an inch seam got replaced with happy thoughts and making plans for the coming summer months.
The top and the bottom of the quilt are now pieced together and the sandwich is all layered up and pinned together ready for the quilting and then the binding.  I went to the shop to buy the edging fabric and I had taken my quilt top with me, it was greatly admired, I blushed through my smiles, I got talking to a group of women about the Kirsty Allsops programme.  Now this serious has actually had poor reviews, bur personally I have loved it... One of the ladies I was talking to in the fabric store went and bought herself some fabric to make a quilt having being inspired by the show and being able to handle my quilt... sometimes you just have to touch something to understand its beauty and secrets. 
If you have missed the series you can catch it on the computer catch up for another 20 or so days.  Kirsties Homemade Home. 

Its a fascinating look at the skills people have, that you can use or even learn to do yourself, full of inspiration.  I loved the quilting, sewing and knitting parts, I watched with my boys who commented on its what I do with some pride in their voices. I was also really interested in the Blacksmith, wow this was stunning to watch someone work in such a traditional way and produce such great results.  Now its not practical for most of us to do our homes out with handcrafted expertise, when maybe you could just nip to Ikea and pick up some cheap fabric to make curtains or a chair for your child's room, but I see no harm in doing a little of both.  To salvage, ebay, skip hunt and use crafts people to make your home, a home with history, is appealing to me, what I had not thought of was how much I love my belongings to have this history but the thought that they would also be passed on to someone else, with my little bit of history added in.
Indeed a programme that inspired me and has made me look at my home with fresh eyes.  OK I also have to admit here I am a Kirsty fan, I love her humor, her voice and as  for her dress sense, yes I like her style.  She visited the home of Kaffe Fassett  
I remember reading a book, well looking at the stunning riot of colour blooming from the pictures, when I was a teenager, I fell in love with his beautiful cabbage leaves and mosaic walls and I have followed his work ever since. On the show he said this 'Find your voice with colour, be a slob for a few years.  Once you get it right and you know what you want to say, you will then clean up your act' You will have found your voice with colour.  
I have enjoyed the series and have loved watching the derelict house become a home to be filled with life, love and the chaos of family living, whilst retaining beauty and style.  Oh and the opening shots of Kirsty  knitting and those fabulous stockings she is wearing, I have to get myself a pair of them...

On my homemade front, things are picking up around here, I have completed an order for knitted flowers, my cardigan is now back to being worked on and I am also enjoying some baking time in my kitchen.  So its the weekend and my children are at parties at the moment,
early evening the plan is to make some popcorn and settle down to watch a family movie, and tomorrow we are going to a dogs home, the kids are very excited at the possibility of having a dog.  IT is just a possibility mind!!!

Have a great weekend whatever you are doing. 

Listening to GoldFrapp in particular my favourite track live at the Eden Project.  WOW that would be one fab night out.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Let them eat cake...

We had a little celebration in the 'Suzie Sews Household' a little birthday party.  Which was just the excuse I needed to pull out my favourite table linen and use my brand new muffin tray.  (Bought from the Pampered Chief at a PTA fund raising event).
Now I am not a big fan of gadgets and despite one of my favourite places within my home being my kitchen and I love baking, I actually have very little on the gadget front.  Now do not get me wrong, I guess if I thought about it I could easily go out and buy all sorts of goodies, I particularly lust after the beautiful food mixers that are indeed a piece of art in their appearance alone, oh and Santa if your reading this I would like it in red!!!  But the thing is it costs £300.00 and I use a hand blender that I bought many years ago and cost under £20.00.  It takes up less space so means I have more space for my ever increasing obsession with plates and crockery.
No, my kitchen is no show kitchen, it is the heart of my family, its the place we start the day and its the place most of our family time takes place in.  Its busy, its messy, usually noisy and quite frankly could be a lot cleaner.  The kitchen table is the centre of the kitchen, it is always cluttered with my latest knitting or sewing project, papers to sort through, the children's homework, a glass of wine in the evening, and of course we also eat at it.  Yes the table to me is more important than the gadgets I could have. My table itself has history as does the miss matching chairs, there is love, tears, joy and sadness polished into the wood of the everyday trails and tribulations of family life.  Shiny and new it is not!
But saying all of this I was particularly excited about my NEW muffin tray, I fell for all the talk of perfectly cooked moist cakes and the perfect Yorkshire puddings.  SO I thought I would have a play and I was not disappointed.  Later that evening we sung Happy Birthday before eager hands reached out for cakes...
Yes my kitchen is a welcoming place, as long as you like the 'homely' look.  Minimalist and designer are not words used to describe any place within my home.  Sometimes I lust after a simpler less cluttered area, that was easy to clean, but then I know my lifestyle would have to be different.  Personally when my children come home from school and they walk through the door, the smell of baking greets them and they squeal 'Mmmmmmmm Mommy's been baking' and they rush to the kitchen to see what after school snack awaits them, I smile, surly this is better than having a clean, tidy and trendy home, well almost!

Show and tell next, I have been busy...

Friday, 8 May 2009

Dying for some fun....

Dye...I love it, the thought that you have some control on the colour of your fabric is a fact I find quite exciting.  Colour is something that plays a big part in my life. I remember things in colour.  For some its sounds, smell or even texture, for me it is colour.   From the sepia tinted photograph post cards of my grandparents time to the bright gordy colours of children's toys, colour is usually the first thing I remember when recalling a memory.So I guess its no wounder that I like colour, it touches every part of my life.  I believe colour has the ability to have control over your mood and actions.  Its a powerful medium for sure.  Now of course black and white are colours and I am not afraid to use them.  I remember quite clearly, many years ago when I was a working girl in the city, being called into see my boss, my work had slid a little and I was not bringing in the top results, the comment that stuck with me however was the fact that my boss had noticed my change in dress style, I was wearing black, I looked smart, super tailored suites, matching dress, trousers, pencil skirts all finished off with a jacket... but all black.
I went home and realised that this simple observation was about to change my life.  I had always wanted the big job in the city, were my pay cheque covered easily my cost of living and living I was doing.  I believed I was successful, that I could hold my head high and say... look what I did with my life.  So why was I wearing black, I looked like everyone else in the city, my individuality had gone, I was no longer Suzie.  I followed the crowd and I believed I was happy as surly this is what people imagine you do to be successful.  Only I was not happy, in fact I was sad and despite the amount of people around me and all the nights out I had I was lonely.

It was a huge step, but I gave up my job and expensive lifestyle, I moved back into a more rural area and I took a considerably lower paid job in a creative field.  It was not long until the tailored  business suits were no longer being worn, replaced with the colourful and sometimes slightly eccentric clothing that I am now known for.  I made some lasting friendships and I lived in a tiny little flat overlooking the local park.  
Yes colour has influenced ever part of my life.  So the delight to have control over colour is indeed something that holds my attention.  A day spent playing with fabric dye, a whole day, with no other duties but to play was indeed a good day.  I loved all the pots of powder dye, the fun of mixing up the solutions and preparing the fabric in many different ways to  see the different effects that could be achieved.  Cotton, linen, silk, various trimming and even paper were used.  Dipping, sprinkling, painting, knotting and lots of mess, I was happy.
I now have an whole pile of my very own fabric, waiting to be ironed and used in projects, some pretty, exciting and useable pieces others drab and dull, but I learnt a lot about the process, I had fun and I still have my projects to make.  Indeed if your dying for some fun, its surly the way to go.

I wish you a good weekend and I hope you find some time to be creative.  I am working on my summer quilt and spending the Sunday with family.  Take care...

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A place of peace...

When life gets the 'Suzie Sews family' down we head off to the beach.  This weekends was the first time this year it felt like summer.  There is something about days like these, there is a smell, a sensation an excitement that words just can not describe.  So after a morning of an alfresco breakfast under a tree (our family tree called Leafco, yes we really do name our tress), we packed up the car with windbreak, buckets and spades, yummy food and the essential flask of Hot Chocolate.We set up camp on our favourite beach, the children made sand castles, because your never to cool or too old to make sand castles.  A rather nice person helped me with my windbreak, juggling two children and all the beach stuff I am unable to carry a mallet for the windbreak so I rather clumsily dig holes and post in my windbreak, this exhibition of silliness usually takes a good 15 minutes and takes all three of us to complete. Apparently it was causing a family some delight and eventually my 'Knight in shining armour' came over, mallet in hand, and within moments I had the best windbreak up on the beach, come gales this thing was not going to blow over, 'I thank you kind Sir, who ever you are...'

So whilst the children played I pulled out my sock knitting, yes its beach season and the socks will once again be knitted, each one will have a memory knitted in to it of warm days, ice cream smeared faces and sandy toes.  So when I pull on my socks in the winter the memories of better and brighter days will always be with me.

Just a short post today, mostly to thank you for the lovely thoughtful comments  about my present situation.  I thank you for your words and support, each comment is held in my heart. Its not easy to show your failings in life, yes my blog is a happy place but it is also a real place for me so it was important for me to share it with you.  Thank you...

PS Very excited to be finally working on my summer quilt, its good to sit in my sewing room and watch it come together under my hands.