Hello 2015!

Ooh it’s been a busy Winter. Busy, but profitable. What has slipped has been writing (and housework…sorry Mark!). So here goes…a brief summary of 6 weeks in the life of Sue Deere, textile artist.

I have worked on a teeny weeny Artist Trading Card for the Very Berry Handmade swap:

I have had lots and lots of orders – many for pieces using the customers’ own photos, so I can’t really share them here while others were freemotion pieces and now Christmas is over, I can let you see!

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Royal Crescent, Bath

My photos as well as textile art:

I had a number of craft markets and hugely successful and enjoyable open studio with my friend and willow artist, Su Macpherson (involving plenty of mulled wine and mince pies too!) – for the Christmas Fair at Bath Library I even had a very lovely young French lady to help me run the stall.

Su and I treated ourselves to a half day fused glass course at Silversides in Larkhall:

Excitingly, Su and I have also decided to work together running craft workshops – a creative fun day out, suitable for the absolute beginner: Grownups Playgroup

Su and Sue6_instant
Sue and Su

We are now booking for:

  • 21 March 10.00 – 16.00 willow plant supports (only two places left)
  • 28 March 10.00 – 16.00 willow sculpting
  • 11 April 10.00 – 16.00 introduction to free motion embroidery

Please email grownupsplaygroup@gmail.com if you are interested in attending.

I will also be running a workshop for the Bath WI, making pincushions in teacups:

pincushion1

As well as all this crafty loveliness we have had a lovely selection of frosty mornings and Winter sunshine…stunning sunrises and delicate moonfalls.

A few brisk Winter walks to put roses in our cheeks:

lacock doors

Lots of wildlife to admire, including a kingfisher in the Botanical Gardens in Bath!

botanic 27 dec11

In contrast, the cats have been making the most of the central heating. Max has been experimenting with different resting places including Christmas presents, a hamper, boxes and a rather nice pack of truffles! Rio stuck to Mark’s dressing gown and the ironing board…

There were decorations…

…and lots of baking…

…injuries – little ones like burning my arm on the oven and bigger ones involving an ambulance ride to A&E when our neighbour tripped and cut her head badly.

burn

There were party hats, racing wind-up robins, cocktails, two Christmas dinners, accounts and my first tax return…

botanic 27 dec34

…and the new year started with a new hair cut!

me new hair

So here’s to 2015 and all the excitement ahead!

Happiness is…

Happiness is…dropped feed dogs and a darning foot….oh and a garden!

My lovely other half has an alluring way of softly asking, “can we do a card for my dad…my brother…my god-daughter…?” I do love his use of the word ‘we’. It is a team effort, I sit at the sewing machine and create and he…ummm…well he watches sport on tv. When I question this, he asks whether I would rather be the one watching sport…and, well, I don’t, so I guess he really is doing me a favour!

cards and free motion jul 14 - 01
Mark’s mum and dad’s anniversary (51 years!)
cards and free motion jul 14 - 07
Mark’s dad’s birthday – he loves the seaside (particularly Cornwall)
cards and free motion jul 14 - 12
a card to welcome Mark’s niece’s new baby
elias card
Mark’s brother’s birthday card…hope he’s not offended!

I am not really complaining; I really enjoy a bit of free motion machine thread-drawing.

My other love is outside in the garden:

The pots and hanging baskets are bright and colourful.

garden 3 August 2014 - 01

garden 3 August 2014 - 02

The cosmos I sewed is finally coming in to flower.

garden 3 August 2014 - 04

garden 3 August 2014 - 05

My old blue strawberry planter never did well with strawberry plants…or herbs…or anything, but now the sempervivum (houseleeks) have decided that it is the perfect home and are thriving!

garden 3 August 2014 - 06

garden 3 August 2014 - 07

The dwarf sunflowers have taken a long time to flower (too much shade from the trees, I suspect) but are now showing their finery.

garden 3 August 2014 - 15

garden 3 August 2014 - 16

Even the aubergines are in flower!

garden 3 August 2014 - 17

The tomatoes are huge – just need them to turn red now.

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garden 3 August 2014 - 19

Our cats have the cleanest paws on the street!

garden 3 August 2014 - 22

Oh and the cylcamen are flowering (which makes it feel rather Autumnal)

garden 3 August 2014 - 23

Our wild area is coming along nicely – lots of flowers for the bees and butterflies. We still have a lot of turf to dig up to sew our wildflower meadow, but we’ll get there eventually.

garden 3 August 2014 - 24

Max the cat has the softest, fluffiest tummy in the known universe!

garden 3 August 2014 - 25

The apples are nearing ripeness…

garden 3 August 2014 - 26

garden 3 August 2014 - 27

…and finally, the new solar fairy lights work a treat!

garden 3 August 2014 - 29

10 (random) things I love…

One of my favourite blogs is Knitsofacto, and Annie has been sharing 10 (rather wonderful) random things. In addition, with my Bath WI hat on (a virtual hat…although I rather like the idea of us all wearing hats!), I have been researching local artists and crafty people to run workshops for us. It has been, and continues to be,¬† lovely and fascinating seeing what people make and how they market themselves and I love reading their blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. It gives me a warm squishy feeling that the world is full of such nice people. One of the creative types I have signed up for a Bath WI workshop is Sami of ‘Made by Sami‘ and I have been enjoying her blog posts about 10 things she loves…do have a look at her Little Red Button blog.

These two ladies have inspired me to think about 10 things I love (in a random sort of a way):

1. Mark. He is mischievous and troublesome but he has sparkly blue eyes, a kind heart and an indefatigable sense of humour – and he puts up with me even when I am, as he describes it, grumpilicious.

IMG_1101

(oh and his work colleagues are going to love this photo!)

2. Cats. Our two cats in particular. They are brothers from the same litter, but Max is long-haired and of a generous stature, while his brother Rio is short-haired and of a more athletic build. They are affectionate and loving…and only dribble a little bit.

cats 6 sept 2013 - 14

3. Sewing. Everything to do with it – fabric, haberdashery, designing, making…even unpicking, as long as it is not too often.

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4. Baking.

hippo baking - 1

 

5. Stately homes and gardens

barrington and lytes cary august 2013 - 141

6. The City of Bath

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7. The seaside.

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8. Friends and family

chelsea physic garden - 80

9. Bees

bee1 fullsize

10.  Afternoon tea (and teapots)
lacock aug 2013 - 57
 

I would love to know what your favourite things are!!

 

 

 

 

a week off…well sort of

I have done a little work this week, but I cannot share that just yet. Pretty much Mark and I have had a week off. We did some work in the garden (which is looking lovely, if I do say so myself)…

garden 21 april 2014 - 60

garden 21 april 2014 - 46

more garden photos

It was my birthday this week and although a hip and knee arthritis exercise and pain management class might not be everyone’s favourite way to spend their birthday, it was pretty good…and dinner at The Circus restaurant in the evening was totally awsome!

We also had day trips:

Bradford-on-Avon

bradford on avon 19 April 2014 - 79

more Bradford-on-Avon photos

 

Westonbirt Arboretum

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westonbirt 24 april 2014 - 69

westonbirt 24 april 2014 - 19

more Westonbirt photos

 

Bristol Zoo

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bristol zoo - 028

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more Bristol Zoo photos

 

Tomorrow normal programming resumes…getting ready for my stall at the Larkhall Festival on Saturday.

 

 

holibobs and cotton tails

holibobs

I have not been sewing. Mark had a week off – although he had to go in on Friday so swapped days and is off today instead (I did try to wait for him to wake up so we could have hot cross buns and coffee together, but it is past 10.00 and I have been up since 06.00 and there is still snoring upstairs and I neeeeeeeded a hot cross bun). We have had lots of exciting trips out…to the dentist (perfect teeth and gums, although I am not one to brag!) and hip and knee pathway physio assessment – really hoping that the 6 week course on exercise and pain management will at least postpone any surgery. We have done some fun things too though! We had been waiting for our council tax bill to renew our discovery cards (the only bill with both our names on it) and made the most of some time off to pop in to the Roman Baths to renew our cards. Of course we then had to make the most of them and go and be tourists somewhere.

the Fashion Museum in Bath

One of the many lovely things about living in Bath is that a week off can be a proper holiday (or holibob, as my friend Hannah would say) without going away at all. There is an exhibition of Georgian fashions at the Fashion Museum and Mark was more keen to see that than the Kaffe Fassett exhibition at the American Museum. It is a lovely fashion exhibition and the museum encourages one of my favourite pastimes…dressing up! I was a little too full of breakfast (the Roscoff Deli in Northumberland Place does awesome breakfasts!) to risk bursting one of the corsets, but the bonnets seemed a safe choice. I rather like bonnets, whether the simple Amish ones at the American Museum or the more decorative ones at the Fashion Museum. What do you think?

dun-bonnet Sue
sun-bonnet Sue

Mark almost fitted in to a dress coat and top hat..

fashion museum - 01
a dapper gentleman

the Assembly Rooms

Fashion Museum is situated with the beautiful Assembly Rooms, and we felt the need to remind ourselves of them. It is one of those places where I am so aware of ghosts from the past who walked there before me. I am a big fan of Jane Austen and my favourite book is Persuasion and I cannot help but daydream about Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth as I wander from room to room. There are very fine chandeliers, although of course not electric in Jane Austen’s day.

fashion museum - 15

fashion museum - 12

gardening

We also managed to fix our new raised beds in place and have top soil delivered to fill them. My dodgy old knees limit what I can do, but Mark’s mum and dad came to help and I found I was ok to shovel top soil in to wheelbarrows…so I did pull my weight! Mark displayed a very fine ‘builder’s bum’…one might even say it was cracking…but I will be made to sleep in the shed if I so much as think about sharing a photo, so I will leave that charming image only in your mind dear reader.

raised beds raising - 01
Mark and his mum digging
raised beds raising - 11
ta da! raised beds!

I suspect the cats think we have built extra large litter trays, but never mind.

 

pom pom Easter bunnies

So…no sewing, but I have been making pom poms! We popped in to Wool in Bath and the lovely ladies there advised me on good value wool for pom pom making, and I tried out my Clover pom pom makers. Now there is nothing wrong with the old way of using two circles of card, but these do make it quicker and easier.

pom pom bunny - 01
pom pom makers

With a little felt and some beads, I soon had a number of Easter bunnies. I am not going to sell them (always wary of the fine line between ornament and toy and the need for CE marking), but thought they would make sweet (calorie-free) Easter gifts. I will pop a simple tutorial in my newsletter, which is going out this week – you can sign up on my Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/DeereyMe/app_100265896690345

little white cotton tail
little white cotton tail
pom pom Easter bunny - Mark chose the wool and it's perfect!
pom pom Easter bunny – Mark chose the wool and it’s perfect!
pom pom bunny - 14
Easter bunnies – tutorial in my newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day afternoon tea

After some great sales of Mother’s Day cards It was time to make time for my own mother (and Mark’s) – afternoon tea in the garden, homemade sweets, flowers and, of course, a free-motion applique card. Sweet treats can be a bit of a challenge when dealing with both our mothers as mine is not supposed to have too much sweet stuff and Mark’s mum lives for creamy sugary treats (but rations them, obviously).

I wanted to give the mums some homemade sweets and Pinterest came up trumps. First off, I found some truffle type goodies that are made from dates, ground almonds, cocoa and honey (no butter, no cream and only the icing sugar they are tossed in to stop them being sticky). The recipe came from SkinnyTaste.com, is ever so easy and far healthier than traditional truffles.

Mother's Day sweets
Mother’s Day sweets
date and almond 'truffles'
date and almond ‘truffles’

These little lovelies are quite heavy on the sugar, but are small enough to easily ration. They are peppermint creams, but the originals are called Barrington mints and the author suggests making them for weddings (no doubt that is why they are made pink – although I was a little heavy handed with the food colouring!). The recipe is here: Sweet & Saucy.

mother's day feast 2014 - 16
pink peppermint creams
mother's day feast 2014 - 17
Barrington Mints from Sweet & Saucy

I had intended to make a show-stopper uber-pretty cake, but it seemed more fair to make one better for my mum. This is an Antony Worrall Thompson recipe from his Diabetes cookery book, made from allbran with apricots – and I added seeds and sultanas too.

mother's day feast 2014 - 05
All-bran apricot loaf

When we go out to dinner with Mark’s parents, his mum can never resist pavlova, so I thought meringues with a fruity, bluberry and vanilla cream might go down well…I think I was right!

mother's day feast 2014 - 08
making meringues
mother's day feast 2014 - 03
blueberry and vanilla meringues

Add some egg and cress and ham and tomato sandwiches and a few lemon squares on a tiered cake stand and a large jug of chilled homemade lavender lemonade and you have a quite satisfactory afternoon tea.

mother's day feast 2014 - 02
afternoon tea

Mark and I don’t have kids, so mother’s day is something I do for other people, but Mark – being very sweet and silly – turned up Friday night with a big bouquet of flowers and two blu-rays, allegedly from the two cats!

flowers 31:3:14 - 2
flowers for the cat’s ‘mother’

I had another gift on Saturday – our neighbour was clearing out her fabric stash and gave me bundles of real gems!

addition to the fabric stash
addition to the fabric stash