SAL “Together we are magic” # 5

Hello folks!  Time to share progress and encouragement with other SAL members on this our 3-weekly posting.  Here’s where I was last time.

And this is what things look like today.

I’ve given up trying to work in 10×10 sections, as that isn’t how I like to work. Instead, I’m just working on page 1 (of 4) of the chart, which means anywhere with a 90 x 110 stitch grid.  This method seems to be working better for me, allowing me to follow symbols around, and occasionally fill in on confetti stitching whenever I have a small length of thread on my needle that needs using up.  That first butterfly, for example, is just missing 3 stitches & backstitch.

Still a long long way to go but I’m enjoying it a lot more.

Here’s a list of fellow SAL members. Everyone is working on different projects, and it’s lovely to see the variety.

AvisClaireGunCaroleConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMegan,

DeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJLauraCathieLindaHelen

We’ll be back on 15th August.

bedtime reading

I don’t read during the daytime, but I do have a ritual every night: I make myself a mug of hot chocolate and read a few chapters in bed, before turning lights out and falling fast asleep.  Recent reads . . .

On my android tablet, and free to download into my google library, I decided to try the first three books in a series by Susan Kiernan-Lewis (a US author).  These are (what seems all the rage at the moment) a cosy murder type.  Very light reading, and the murder investigation part is all fairly predictable but I actually thought these were quite good.  Book 1 is

“Parlez-vous murder?”  (and I’m copying the author’s summary here)

My name is Jules Hooker.  I have lived through a few crappy moments in my life – and with a name like Hooker, you can just imagine – but nothing, nothing, compares to the two intensely and world-shatteringly crappy things that happened to me last June.

Three, I guess, if you count Gilbert.

After my boyfriend dumped me on the day I thought he was going to propose, I’d have to say two other really bad things happened last June.  The first would have to be the dead body I discovered in the rental house in France where I went to get over being dumped.  The second – and very possibly I should had led with this – was the dirty bomb that exploded over the Riviera throwing me and everyone else in France back to the 1950s.

So now I’m stranded here – trying to make a living by solving murders the old fashioned way – without help from DNA, databases, CSI crime labs or the police.

And I’m doing it in France. Where I do not speak the language. During the apocalyse.  Sound like fun?

Like most cosy mystery/murders, this starts with the main character moving miles away from home after a personal crisis, in the hopes of starting afresh.  I’ve read a few by different authors.  I  enjoyed this one because Jules doesn’t take herself seriously and gets herself into all sorts of scrapes, while spending too much time worrying about what to wear, or whether she has enough euros to be able to breakfast on almond croissants.  Anyway, I enjoyed it enough to go ahead and read the second.

“Crime and Croissants”.

Jules Hooker is doing her best to adjust to the new normal of a world without electricity, electronics, cars or the chance to return home.  Stranded in the charming but provincial village of Chabanel wasn’t terrible until Jules discovers Aix-en-Provence and decides that the big city lights – even when they’ve gone out in the apocalypse – are much preferable to the countryside.

Of course with a big city come big city crimes and when a fellow American is accused of murdering a popular pastry chef in Aix, Jules knows she has to help.

Unfortunately tracking a dangerous killer when you don’t know the language – or the French people themselves – soon has Jules bumbling into one dangerous situation after another.

All the wonderful pastries aside, will this be lights out for Jules too?   

And book three in the series

“Accent on murder”.

Trying to learn a foreign language can be murder – especially when your French tutor is strangled to death hours after your last lesson and your best friend is arrested for the crime.

Normally that wouldn’t be a problem for stranded super sleuth and intrepid expat Jules Hooker, except she just got her ONE chance to go back to the US and sticking around to help a pal means she’s back to being stranded in a foreign country with no lights, no language skills and no real future.

Will she give up her chance to go home? Will she continue to step on the toes of the handsome village police chief in order to help free her friend? And finally, will Jules find out who the murderer is before the killer decides to permanently eliminate one very pesky, very stubborn American sleuth?

Other recent reading.

“The house we grew up in” by Lisa Jewell.  This is the first novel I’ve read by Ms Jewell and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Sometimes hard to believe that one family could be so dysfunctional, but if you go along with it, then it was quite a page-turner.

Here’s the blurb from the back cover.

Imagine a picture-book cottage in a village. A family in a sun-drenched kitchen filled with love and laughter.

Picture an Easter weekend when tragedy strikes – so unexpected, so devastating that no one can talk about it.

The years pass; the children become adults. Gradually they lose touch as the secret between them tears them apart.

And then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in – and to what really happened that Easter weekend all those years ago. 

I enjoyed it enough to already have a second novel by Lisa Jewell in my “to read” pile.

And last book, for today.  A second UK author: Jem Lester and “Shtum”.

I happened to buy the French translation, but the title is the same.  This is Mr Lester’s first novel.  Novel largely inspired by personal experience I would assume, since one of the central characters is Jonah an autistic child, and Mr Lester has an autistic son.  “Shtum” (from Yiddish meaning “mute, dumb, voiceless”)  is about the relationship between three generations of the same family: Jonah, Ben (his father) and Georg (his grandfather).  It’s about the every day battle of parents trying to care for an autistic child.  About trying to do what’s right for Jonah.  It’s about a failed marriage, about silence and secrets.  It’s about three generations of the same family: Jonah who can’t communicate.  His father and grandfather who refuse to communicate.  This isn’t a book that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside but I very glad I read it.

ScrapHappy # July

Time to link up with everyone in the ScrapHappy group

Kate Gun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
KerryClaireJeanJon, HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2,
Bear, Carol, Preeti, Edith

and big warm welcome to Debbierose who joins us this time.

and to show what scraps I’ve been playing with.  Actually more of the same . . . as I finished off 6 placemats I’ve been working on, made using up lots of cheerful 2.5″ squares.

Last time I had 6 “tops”

Since then, I zigzagged bands of scrap wadding together to make pieces large enough for the mats,

and delved into my stash of fabrics to be reused/recycled (using 2 old tablecloths for backing fabric and binding).

a bit of this and that

A bit of this & that today . . . I’ve been quite busy crafting for my dolls. Some sewing, knitting & crocheting going on for dolls in various shapes and sizes (over on Claire’s Collections – link in the blog roll).  My friend, Avis, has to put up with me sending her loads of photos by email, showing her what I get up to, hearing my success stories and also my fails.  She very recently sent me a surprise package

containing 8 FQs and 6 mini curly wurly bars lol.  The curly wurlies were because (living in France) that’s not something I can find in the shops and the other week our local ACTION store were supposed to be getting some in.  I went along twice in the hopes of nabbing some curly wurly bars, a souvenir from my childhood, but both times, there were none in stock.  Avis therefore surprised me by posting some out and I’ve been rationing myself to make them last as long as possible.  The fabrics are to give me incentive when making doll clothes, and for trying out new patterns.

I’ve also been making lots of progress with diamond painting.  You may remember, I’m working on quite a large project of a feather.  Last progress I showed, way back in May, looked like this

That was with 22cm completed.  Since then, working little and often, I have now covered more than 57cm of the canvas.

Lots of pretty pinks and purples as I work my way down the feather.

Not that much farther to go.  I wonder if I’ll be having a feather happy dance before the month is over?

 

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SAL “Together we are magic” #4

Oh dear!  I’ve really slowed down with cross stitching lately.  So many other crafting projects calling to me, that I can’t get up the motivation in the evening.  Three weeks ago, I’d already begun to fall behind my self-imposed target

and I’ve fallen behind some more.

Oh well, it’s still progress, even if nowhere near as much as I had hoped.  There’s a second butterfly taking shape, but no real hint of a unicorn yet.

and still lots of fabric to cover.

I wonder if other SAL members were more industrious?  Here is the full list of links if you want to hop along and visit.

AvisClaireGunCaroleConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMegan,

DeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJLauraCathieLindaHelen

And we’ll be back on 25th July with a fresh update!

best layer of the month #June

Gosh, June has flown by!  Time to do the egg count in the coop.  For this month, hens laid a total of 75 eggs.  Ruby came in third place with 23, Mauricette in second place with 25 and it was Florence, June’s best layer with 27 !  Here she is, strutting her stuff, and looking very pleased with herself!

washed away

We had a terrific storm with torrential rain the other day . . . resulting in severe damage to the banks of the little stream only a stone’s throw from the house.  Before: photo taken looking downstream.

On the right you can see a white barrier, which is wrought iron sheets, and ran all along the bankside for several metres, keeping the embackment in place. Just to the left of that you can also see the first of 5 stone steps, that led down to the stream.  On the morning after,  looking upstream, things looked like this

Only three stone steps remaining (number 3 looks decidedly wobbly) and the banks completely caved in.

We, and other residents in our little close, have contacted the local council who are going to send someone round very soon to check out damage and decide how (and when) to go about repairing damage.  In the meantime, we’re hoping we don’t get any more heavy rain which will only make things worse.

Apart from that . . . I’ve been keeping busy indoors, crafting for dolls which entails some sewing, crocheting and even some shoe-making.  Am currently playing around with a very small 23cm doll I received for Christmas 2019, and discovering how fiddly it is making things for such a small doll.

Here’s a photo of one of my recent makes:  a little pair of shoes, only 4cm long, for tiny feet.  If you want to see more, just hop over to my other blog: Claire’s Collections.

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zodiac quilt – drum roll

Drums rolling here . . . and lots of photos to share my happy dance with a combi cross stitch/patchwork project.  Begun way back in Sept 2015.  It all started with a cross stitch kit by Vervaco.

This kit came with charts to stitch all twelve zodiac signs, but only enough aida & thread to stitch one.  I knew that when I bought it, and had already planned on swapping the 14 count aida for 20 count aida, choosing my own colours (similar but not exact references) and stitching all 12 designs.

That took me until June 2016.

Then, stitched squares were put in a drawer, with plans of assembling into a patchwork . . . and the years passed.  Until I finally got my act together this year, and made a start . . . and now I have a finish – yay!

Finished quilt measures approx 130cm x 173cm (51″ x 68″) so it’s really only a lap quilt.  I used the QAYG method because quilting is not one of my strengths.  Anyway, enough talk, I’ll leave you with some photos.

And ending with a couple of close ups on cross stitched centres. Had to include one of Gemini (Daddy Viking only just had a birthday!).

 

zodiac QAYG part 1

It’s been too hot here to do much crafting but I have finally started work on finishing my zodiac blocks, in very short sessions.

I did actually get blocks all quilted back in April but then they were left in a pile as I couldn’t decide what fabric to use for my QAYG strips.  After 2 months of walking past the pile of blocks and fabric, I decided I just had to stop second guessing myself, and to get on with it!  I’ve kept things very plain, which is quite unusual for me!  I didn’t want the front to be too busy, because I spent an awful lot of hours cross stitching those zodiac designs, on 20 count aida, so I’d like them to really stand out.

I’ve used a milky chocolate brown on the front . . . it’s what I used for backing fabric, and I’m even using it for my 1″ strips on the back too!

So, when I say plain – it really is going to be plain on the back!  Anyway . . . with 12 blocks to this quilt, I assembled first into pairs.  And then I assembled pairs into panels of 6.

All I need is a couple more sewing sessions to join both panels, and then to add binding.  Stay tuned!

 

ScrapHappy # June

Hello everyone! it’s the monthly link up with

Kate Gun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
KerryClaireJeanJon, HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Noreen,
Bear, Carol, Preeti and Edith

to talk about things scrappy!  I’ve been carrying on assembling 2.5″ squares.  I do love cutting small squares when tidying up my scraps, and at the moment, I’m assembling into placemat tops.  Haven’t used a table cloth in decades, but the husband and I like to have our dinner plates on a mat – it just makes the table look more “set”.

The current series now looks like this.

Six tops, all 9 x 6 squares, which will give a finished size of 18″ x 12″.  Quite a few fabrics make an appearance several times, but no two tops are the same.  They’re all completely random which I think makes for bright & cheerful.  Now to sandwich, quilt & bind!