god's country

god's country
near carrick-a-rede

Monday, 24 October 2011

All the small things

Several hilarious things have happened this week, also things which are NOT funny. My personal favourite so far has been getting the shopping from asda on Saturday. It was raining (more on that later) so we were rushing back to the car, me hunting for the keys and him pushing the trolly. So what happened? The dinner slid out of the bag and Al ran over it with the trolly!!!! One piece of chicken was a bit squashed but otherwise ok- but the sauce? Oh the sauce.
Barbecue sauce and cheese squished skywards, narrowly missing a cyclist and Al's shoes, and plastered itself over the wheel arch of someones BMW. Totally awesome.

Friday, 23 September 2011

WOO!

new look blog! 

nice yes? my only complaint would be the lack of a halloweeny background - must see if i can upload my own...



Wednesday, 21 September 2011

what???!?!?

Free motion is HARD you guys! My biceps are killing me!
I had some problems starting off - something like this happened to me:

Ever seen anything like that? - this isn't my work actually - I'm at my mum's because I needed a really big table for doing the quilting. The above is from the blog Comfortstitching which I found while trying to get advice on-line. As it turned out it was because the foot wasn't down - phew, panic over. I guess I've quilted maybe 1/6 of it so far (just about 5 hours of quilting to go : ) I've decided not to even attempt to do any kind of neat regular design for my free motion quilting, its almost entirely at random, lots of swirls and coils and things and then occasional flowers and hearts - hell, if i want to embroider a wee bee every now and then I'm going to go ahead and do it! It has a great feel of wimsy about it : )
I'm thinking I might embroider a large heart with the bride and groom's initials in it somewhere on it - or is this tempting fate?

It's extremely enjoyable - I think I could get used to this.. : )





4 months in the wilderness..

errr..... oops?

Its like this, when I'm not happy at work, or not working, I cant write – its like literary impotence caused by stress. On a similar note, I now have to wear a gumguard in bed to stop me from grinding my teeth. I maintain that the stress that has caused this particular development hails from the actions of my other half and not from my work troubles. Not that I have been out of work for 4 months – just 2 (??!?!??!!!) - its more that ive sort of hated the things that I have been doing. Thankfully it looks like i'm about to start something new and worthwhile – and even sort of in line with what I studied! Its related to tourism in Northern Ireland, which really needs a stick and a carrot – im totally up for it!!!! finally all those hours studying cultural heritage management will come in handy for something!


So what's new?


Oh – Quilting ROCKS! I have now made 4 and a half quilts. The 5th, which is still a work in progress, is a wedding gift for my best friend – look at me assuming she never reads my blog! Its really quite a simple pattern, but the fabric is totally gorgeous – and i'm free motion quilting it.... I dont know how to free motion quilt... so I have to learn how to do that first.

Here are my quilts:



see that dino quilt? Theres a story there, its for my cousin's little boy for christmas – he's 10. The pattern, which you can buy on etsy, is called Baby Dino. It generally has an apatosaurus style dino on the front (his big sister is getting that one for christmas in pinks etc) – but michael like that one. He wanted a flying dinosaur, so for my second ever quilt and my first appliquet project ever – I had to design an appliquet pattern. Its none too simple either! He's a Quetzalcoatlus, which is the largest kind of dinosaur – and the PDF pattern is now available from my etsy shop.

I have also made my first bag, and my first bag pattern (also available from my etsy shop : )


I have had a crafting day with my cousin and her daughter,



started a film club, lost a stone,

and learned to bellydance




All in all its been a pretty busy time. Coming up soon we have a new job, 2 weddings, free motion quilting and a partridge in a pear tree! OMG! And christmas.... only 94 days away! More on that later.


Also excitingly, I have entered a new design @
yourstylerocks.com in the stitch stories contest. My design is inspired by Don Quixote. I have to confess that Don Quixote is not my absolute favourite book. It is ONE OF my favourite books, but not actually THE favourite. That honour is reserved for Watership Down (wonderful book, scary film) – but I wasnt up for designing an outfit inspired by bunnies – having said which, I have now had loads of great bunny inspired ideas – but YES! The Don Quixote Inspired Top! Which is AWESOME! All votes greatfully accepted!


Saturday, 23 April 2011

moved!!

sorted. it was touch and go there for a while but we're moved and settled in. Its amazing how much rubbish you gather up. actually... i think its pretty clear that i've got a problem about hording stuff - im starting to resemble one of the tip women from labyrinth.




but (following the intervention) i havent bought anything appart from food - until today. I got some fabric! I plan to make a little pirate purse and a table runner with my gorgeous dino fabric : )



we are well enough installed in fact, that we were allowed an outing today! we went to the Zoo! our zoo membership is almost up (it runs out on easter monday) - and i simply couldnt reccomend it enough. a single trip to the zoo is a quite a pricy day out - Belfast Zoo (i think) is £8.20 for an adult, only slightly less for children, but under 4's, over 60's and disabled people get in for free. it makes you feel like you HAVE to see everything, and to be honest, the way things are at the moment in our house, the entry cost of £16.20 would usually put us off - i think we've been about 16 times this year for £50. this is a GOOD deal. and you can take your time, if you want to stop and watch the otters for an hour you can (I cant, Al doesnt allow me because i start making noises at them) We LOVE the Zoo : )



Saturday, 19 March 2011

So many things!

OMG so much has happened since I last posted!

To be honest, I've hardly been near a computer in the 3 weeks since I left work at the end of February. I've started a new job - working in Stock Audit at Chain Reaction Cycles - it is a bit dusty, but I'm relieved to be employed at all! Our packing has progressed, but we still haven't viewed a single property! (2 weeks and counting till moving day). to be frank, I'm starting to get quite annoyed with the local letting agents. they don't any of them seem to do any work! having sent 10 emails and called at least 6 times, we have yet to have one response or call back (despite many promises), we don't know what date many of the properties will be available from (because the agents don't know) and we haven't been able to book a single viewing. Utter pants.

I have made progress with making a skirt - up to the point of inserting the invisible zip...
Do i need a special zip? the instructions say to roll the plastic bit away and sew as close to it as possible - well I did that, and my plastic zip bit doesn't seem to roll away, and now the zip doesn't go up, because I've sewn too close to it - something I had believed to be impossible... something is seriously wrong... but the tablecloth is going really well!
Possibly my most exciting news, is that the pattern for my contest winning skirt design 'Favourite Frills' is finally ready! I have to say that i think it's awesome!!! the girls at YourStyleRocks.com deserve all kinds of accolades (including hugs, cuddles and cake) for their amazing work in making my idea a reality. My plan was to design a skirt specifically for top-heavy women - like me. I wonder if Gok would approve?? Amazingly, my skirt has now been featured on Craft Gossip (which is like my Craft Bible) - I believe that the words "looks like it walked straight off the pages of a high-end fashion magazine" were mentioned : ) I don't think that I'm ready to try making it myself yet, at least, not until I get to grips with the damn invisible zip...


In addition to which, we have had some gorgeous trips out - we though that our Zoo membership was due to expire, but it turns out that we have another month - so hopefully we'll have time to go again before its up : )

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Creature of the Week: the Pygmi Mouse Lemur



The Latin word lemures means "ghost." Malagasian people have traditionally associated these primates with spirits because they are active at night, and perhaps because of their eerie, large-eyed stare.

There are eight species of mouse lemurs, and several have been identified only in the past few years. This is a rarity in primate research, and illustrates just how much remains to be known about these fascinating animals.

Like all lemurs, mouse lemurs inhabit the island of Madagascar off the east coast of Africa.

The pygmy mouse lemur - (Microcebus myoxinus), also known as Peters' Mouse Lemur or Dormouse Lemur - is the smallest primate in the world. Its head and body are less than two and a half inches (six centimeters) long, though its tail is a bit more than twice that length – it weighs only 43–55 g. These endangered nocturnal lemurs live in the dry forests of western Madagascar and rarely leave the forests' trees. Little is known of these rare primates.

Mouse lemurs are forest dwellers that live in female-dominated groups of up to 15 animals. They spend most of their time in trees, and can move nimbly from branch to branch and tree to tree. Mouse lemurs sleep aloft during the day and forage at night for insects, fruit, flowers, and other plants. Its tendency to sleep in the open, increases the risk of predation; although this danger is somewhat mitigated by sleeping alone.

These adaptable primates store fat in their tails and hind legs, burning it when forage is lean. They may store up to 35 percent of their body weight. Female lesser mouse lemurs enter a dormant state during Madagascar's dry season, from April or May to September or October. Females are inactive during this time and may not leave their tree holes. During the same season, however, males are more active. They may be establishing breeding hierarchies for the coming mating season.

Mouse lemurs are protected from hunting, but they are still captured for the exotic pet trade. They are most threatened by loss of the limited woodland habitat of their Madagascar home.

(from National Geographic and Wikipedia)

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Peppermint Snap

I was inspired to make Peppermint Snap this weekend – probably because James Martin brought it up on Saturday Kitchen. I almost always manage to miss SK for some reason or other – being asleep (yes, I know it starts at 10am!), having to get up early to taxi Al to some competition or other, visiting – and it also seems to be one of the most interrupted programs on TV – you would think that people didn’t care about it – like it wasn’t the long running show with nearly 3 million viewers that it is. I often find it replaced, or bumped to a slot where I can’t watch it by, let’s face it, normally sports. TSK!!!

Anyway, I always make Peppermint Snap at Christmas, mostly because its relatively cheap and can be made easily and in bulk – for a quick and easy version see James Martin – this is a good one for making with kids – but if you have a little time on your hands try mine : )

Also worth a look is this great recipe from Barefoot and Baking – which is exceedingly Christmassy and a dead ringer for my mum’s Peppermint Bark.

You will need:

2 bars Dark chocolate (70% coco solids minimum recommended)

1 bar white chocolate (that’s about 3 milky bars)

Peppermint essence

Sugar (couple of tablespoons, it goes a long way) – not icing sugar! Castor sugar or cane sugar is probably best.

Baking tin (or a funny shaped muffin tin – I used a heart shaped muff

in tin)

Optional:

Green food colouring

Mint imperials (I buy cheeper store’s own brand ones because they tend to be a bit smaller)

Edible glitter (a nice contrasting colour? Pink or red)

Cake decorating bits (like those little silver balls? Or the tiny spiky icing balls?)

Makes – well it depends on the person really, we are talking about 3 bars of chocolate, but then it is very moreish…

Directions:

Put your sugar in a bowl and add a few drops of peppermint essence to taste, and then 1 or 2 drops of the food colouring if you are using it. At this point I also add the mint imperials – I leave some whole and smash a couple up in a bag and put them in too. Mix around until everything is minty and green – it will be fairly obvious at this point if you haven’t added enough colouring or essence, but remember you can’t take it out again once it’s in!

Next melt both your chocolates in separate bowls. You can use either the traditional Bain

Marie or the more new-fangled ‘put the bowl in the microwave’ method – but REMEMBER the bowl gets HOT either way!!

Time for the fun bit! Gather all your bits together – some recipes call for lining the baking tin – and this is a MUST unless you are using silicone. Basically it will just never come out otherwise!!

I usually start with the dark chocolate, I have a notion that it sets harder – but it’s probably all in my head!

For a LINED baking sheet, spoon the chocolate over the bottom and spread it out with the back of a spoon. Then drizzle over the white – lines and splodges are best! If you feel it isn’t messy enough trail through it in diagonal lines or a spiral with a cocktail stick to make it pretty! You could even do this for a Halloween party and do it in a spider web pattern! Then sprinkle on all your bits – I probably do go overboard with this – mine usually ends up looking like Christmas EXPLODED on it : )

If you are using some sort of silicone moulds you don’t ne

ed to line it! But you are working with basically the same process. Alternate spoonfuls of chocolate of different colours into the moulds then cover with SUGAR etc – these are some that I made recently – I only used the sugar and mint imperials this time because I was in a bit of a rush – but they are still really pretty!!

Pop your tin into the fridge for a few hours to set – if you are using moulds you can just pop them out again once they’re hard – if you have used a baking sheet you will need to take the whole block of chocolate out and SMASH IT!!!! Seriously, you will want bite sized pieces – not bars of chocolate. I find that once chocolate has been melted that it always melts again much easier – so I keep these in the fridge, definitely no storing them under the tree on the heated floor!

Monday, 21 February 2011

i know valentine's day is over...

I guess this would have been great for Valentine's day - but equally so for any birthday/ thank you/ sorry I.../ sorry I didn't... card : ) I can see a few friends for this guy in the future!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

TIME TO GO!!!!

Look – lucy’s all ready to go and everything.

Perhaps I could rent Lucy out at £10 an hour – and people with no cat of their own could borrow her for a cuddle…

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Bunny Birthday!

It’s my cousin’s little girl’s birthday! She’ll be 13 – isn’t this exciting!!!!!

I got her some makeup, because she’s all grown up now – likely everyone else will have done the same! I’m not sure that she’s a makeup girl actually; maybe I should have gone all out with the nail polish – shades of black mainly? We shall see!

In addition she’s getting a big book on Manga illustration (how to) and a sewing book with some fabrics to get her started. I hope she likes them!

In honour of the Year of the Rabbit, for Cathryn’s birthday I have chosen a digi stamp with a bunny! It’s a Greeting Farm one that I particularly like – but getting the different heads on the pet is a bit difficult because you can’t see through the stamp : ( - I think she was an Anya set but you don’t seem to be able to get it any more! Awwww!

Since I took the picture I’ve added bubbles to the fish, but otherwise it was finished. I know it’s slightly mad in a Coraline / Science of Sleep / Dr. Who ‘fish warning’ kind of way – but that’s what makes me think she’ll like it…

Also – check out next week’s contest entries on Spoonflower for the Year of the Rabbit Fabric Contest – and don’t forget to vote for your favorites!!!


Monday, 14 February 2011

Trees, trees, trees

It struck me today how much news coverage our forests have had already this year! The world over people are banding together in support of our woodlands – the Philippines have gone as far as to declare 2011 their National Year of the Forest.

Closer to home there has been a national outcry at the proposed sale of up to half of the forestry commission owned forests in Britain, with over 500,000 people signing the petition against it. The National Trust are encouraging the public to plant Mistletoe in their gardens to fight against its decline and help support the 41 species of birds that rely on it. Farmers in Scotland are being encouraged to grow trees on their farms to help maintain animal health, protect crops, conserve wildlife habitats and offset carbon emissions.

Is 2011 the year of the tree or what??


Thursday, 10 February 2011

Freya's Orchard

Another Valentine's stamp for you today - I think I'm getting closer to what I want for Al!



And as a little added extra, Mamma G from forty weeks has posted this gorgeous tutorial for making an envelope from a heart shaped piece of paper!

enjoy!!

Creature of the week

The Alaotran Reed Lemur.

The Malagasian Reed Lemur [Hapalemur alaotrensis] is endemic to the area surrounding Lac Alaotran in the Toamasina Province of Northern Madagasgar. Known locally as the ‘Bandro’, this tiny lemur is under threat from loss of habitat, pet trading … and from being eaten. It is now critically endangered.

The Gerald Durrell Wildlife Trust has a Lac Alaotra Bamboo Lemur conservation program which you can read about here, or look at more pics and info on the ARKive here.

Or you can watch the new BBC documentary on Madagasgar presented by David Attenborough here.

AWWWWWWW