December 22, 2005

No sign of a White Christmas!

Today was really great - it was my last day at work before the holidays so I finished around 3pm as I had completed everything I needed to do. Tomorrow I am planning to go for a swim first thing, then have my hair trimmed (it is completely out of control, like a wild hedge, so I am really looking forward to having it restyled) - depending on how it looks I will post a photo!

Walking in a Winter Wonderland ....

I have added a beautiful snow-scene because, despite continual reports in the past few weeks on UK radio of a White Christmas in southern England, it looks unlikely to happen. Today has been mild (around 9 C) and the forecast for the rest of the week is mild, with cloud and some glimpses of sunshine. I am quite relieved as it can snow quite heavily where we live on the edge of the Chiltern Hills (nothing in comparison to, say, Canada or Scandinavia of course, but the difference is that Britain never seem to be ready for anything more than a few flakes of snow before the country grinds to a halt LOL :-) Anyway, DH and I are looking forward to our customary Christmas morning walk around our village and surrounding countryside. We head off around 10am after we have opened a few presents and are out for at least an hour. I will take a few photos to show you our village as it is quite cute and traditionally English!

On the theme of snow, if you are looking for a cute Snowman pattern, try this one - it is free on website!

to all my FRIENDS in CRAFT around the world!

December 21, 2005

The Mystery of the Magic Chocolate Tin !

Only 4 more days until Christmas and everything feels quite festive at work - i.e. no-one feels much like doing work and tins of chocolates appear almost every day from various people who prefer to give chocolates than write out loads of Christmas cards. I said to the administrator that I was convinced it was a tin with magical powers, because the same tin has continually emptied and re-filled every day this week - but she assured me it was just different people buying the same tins of Quality Street. Ahhh, I was hoping it was the Christmas Chocolate Fairy! I guess I am too accustomed to sewing all those Flower Fairies....

I am going shopping after work this evening with my friend Steph as we have been promising ourselves a mega Christmas shopping trip for several weeks. Steph wants to look for some seating for her living room (which she hopes will be in the Sales) and also some new carpets. I want to get some curtain fabric to make up curtains over the Christmas holidays. So we both have our wish-lists to try to fulfil. Shall give all the details in a future entry on the Blog, so watch this space!

I plan to take another WIP photo of my sample within the next few days. Unfortunately I had a bit of a trauma with it on Monday - I thought I was progressing well, but realised that I had rushed into sewing some of the border without having completed the double line around the edge so had to unpick about an hour's work which was very annoying. I know an hour's work does not seem so much to lose, but (a) it is a lot when I do not have much time to sew during the week :-( and (b) as you know, unpicking stitches can take as long, or sometimes longer than it does to stitch booooo hooooo!!!

However, I am back on track with it now and making good progress. I think I am going to start a new project at the weekend so that I can switch between the two - I have found it helps with my motivation if I can have a break from each project, so that when I go back to it, I look forward to working on it. The question is which project shall I choose? I have around 4 possibilities so please feel free to give me your advice as I can't make up my mind!!

1. Michael Powell - The Secret Garden. This is a lovely kit that I bought back in September and I have already sorted out the threads, so its ready to go. My concern is that it is another fairly complex project to undertake while doing my Welsh Sampler.
2. Happy New Year Cards. I have a few charts from various magazines or I could make up my own design on Jane Greenoff Cross Stitch Gold Software. If I use existing charts it will be fairly quick, but then how many will I need to make and could I still be stitching them into the summer!!!
3. Jane Greenoff Pin Cushion Heart. When San and I were at the Alexander Palace exhibition in November, Jane had a stand at the show and I bought her new book (which she signed for me!). There are some great projects, large and small, one of which is the Pin Cushion.
4. Flower Fairies Kit. Willow Fairy or Sweet Pea Fairy.

Decisions, decision !

December 19, 2005

Question of the Week

Take a minute to reflect on your blog reading habits and preferences. What do you prefer to read in stitching blogs? (Progress, tips, family life, experiences, etc.) How much do you think you are influenced by other stitching bloggers?

Although I am new to the Blogging World myself, I have enjoyed reading other people's blog entries over several years. I particularly like it when Blogs are artistically displayed as it is much easier on the eye. I really appreciate the effort that goes into upkeeping Blogs now that I have started one myself. I enjoy getting to know people through their daily entries. Each person has their own unique style - to the point where you could show me some entries from several people's blogs (that I read regularly) and I would be able to tell who wrote them, just by their turn of phrase or commentary.

The Blog is what the owner wants it to be - it would appear from some that I have read that they are a way of outpouring one's thoughts, aspirations, dreams, anxieties and stresses (in that way they act as a therapy!) or maybe a living, evolving record of crafting treasures (so, a Show-Case), or even A Day in the Life (like a regular Daily Diary). All those dimensions are fascinating to me and I treat them all with the respect they deserve.

I do not like it when people leave unwanted, unsolicited comments, adverts or insults on people's blogs - it is like vandalism, like putting spray-paint graffiti onto the wall of a beautiful house or like folding over the pages of a treasured book which was lent by a friend. It is upsetting and degrading to the person who has chosen to share their Blog with the Web Community.

I think I will be considerably influenced by people's creativity as my Blog evolves .... so, tune in to see it grow and grow - and feel free to comment on what you would like to see more of (or less of!) in my Blog entries.

Monday Morning Blues!

Well, after such a lovely restful weekend, it was definitely a struggle waking up this morning :-( Oh well, only a couple more days until the shortest day of the year, then gradually we will start to see the days lengthening - I am yearning for a bit of warmth in the sun. It was so dark and cold outside when I left for work. Still, the big motivator is that I only have a few more days to go until we finish work for Christmas so I am counting down the days! I will see if I can add one of those Ticker gadgets to my Blog so I can do a count-down when something important is happening.

I think DH and I will be planning to stay overnight in a nice hotel we know for New Year's Eve. He is ringing up today to see what they are doing for the New Year celebrations - it was all very spur of the moment (i.e. last night as we were washing-up :-) , so we will see what happens. I am quite happy whatever we do really, as I am rather a home-bird at Christmas, but he likes the idea of us having a nice leisurely meal, rather than dashing around sorting things out (which normally happens over the Festive Season!) and it will be nice just to spend a bit of that Quality Time that gets talked about all over the place (but then people say "What's That??) LOL

I am planning to go to Yoga at Lunchtime today (we have a gym at work and there is a really lovely lady who is an ace Yoga teacher who comes in on Mondays and Tuesdays). Its the best medicine I know for de-stressing and feeling soooo relaxed. I had a bad back about 6 years ago and since then, as long as I do my Yoga either at work or home (which is really hard to do, because it involves me having to be motivated enough not to be distracted!!), then it has not troubled me greatly.

Well, Mondays being what they are, I don't have much else to update you on, but still, have a fab day and remember ....
Keep Crafting!

December 18, 2005

Getting into the Christmas Spirit!

Well, Christmas is getting closer so its time to start thinking about the "Festivities". Yes I know, its the 18th December so please forgive my tardiness - all due to exams on 16th, everything else did take a 'back-seat' this year - although I will say I bought most of my presents in November, knowing that the impending doom of weeks of exam preparation was upon me!

Above is a photo of my Reindeer and Snowman ... here is a story. Last week DH came back home after work with a mysterious bag. Not wanting to pry (especially as this time of year does seem to produce extra bags, sneeking around the house looking secretive and other exciting things ...) I decided not to say anything. Later in the evening, when we had some friends over for dinner, he handed me the bag and said I could open it. Apparently, DH had been walking past a craftshop and saw Reindeer in the window and thought I would go mad for it so went in and bought it. I could not believe he would buy something sooooo cute. As he looked a bit lonely, I have added Snowman who was bought 2 years ago. As it is a similar "cute" style, they sit on top of the fireplace together.

Here is this year's Christmas Teddy - DH has been buying them for me each year we have been together - so it has become a bit of a tradition. They always come with a name-tag - this year Teddy is Nicholas and he either takes over my recliner (when I am not sitting in it!) or sits on the bookcase as in the photo - last year's Teddy was more of a computer fan, and I found him sitting at my laptop (they do tend to move around the house mysteriously ... not sure how it happens ... )

Well, I had better nip off because DH is calling me for something to eat (its already lunchtime!). Before I go, you may see I have put a couple of links to friends' Blogs on my side-bar, for AngelSan and Isabelle. If you would like me to add a link to your Blog on my site, just let me know and I will happily add you. I intend to make some changes and enhancements to this blog over Christmas - its going to be like moving into a new home and making it comfy!

Take care of yourselves and keep warm (if you are in the Western Hemisphere) - if you are enjoying the heat of the summer right now, in the antipodes, I must say I feel rather envious as I sit here in a thick fleecy top and woolly socks :-) looking at the milky winter sunshine trying its hardest to be bright.

December 17, 2005

Saturday - Sunshine, Blue but oh so Freeeezing!

In the Bleak Mid-Winter, Frosty Winds May Moan .....

I am so exciting that I have had some wonderful comments from you all, my dear crafting friends! I am so pleased you have joined me at my Blog, your feedback is great - I now understand why people enjoy blogging so much :-) Its cool!

Today is a bright and sunny Saturday in Southern England but bbrrrrrr, it is so cold outside (see our garden photo for proof :-) I put some seedbread out on our bird table to keep our feathered friends alive, and it has already gone, so they were hungry! I feel quite liberated with a weekend ahead, and no worries about having to study - in fact, I would say it feels rather strange, as if I ought to be working, but I am getting o
ver that worry very quickly :-) It is just so nice to spend some time doing tidying up around the house and then, what I have been eagerly awaiting ... Stitching!

I was very interested to read your postings on yesterday's entry and meet up with old friends and new! Yes, Isabel, I remember how you love lavender - those oils are wonderfully calming I agree - my DH normally buys me something Lavender-themed for Christmas ... so what will it be this year, I wonder ..... For those who like traditional samplers, you might like to see my latest WIP, which is a Welsh historic sampler by a wonderful designer called Brenda Keyes. She has to be one of my top favourites for Samplers. I love the fact that her designs are based on authentic historic patterns dating back to the 18th and 19th Centuries - the one you see here today was originally created by a young girl called Mary Elizabeth Nicholson in 1892 - Brenda suggests personalising it, hence I have put my name where her's was. Mary will have stitched it on canvas with wool as apparently the wool colours were far more vibrant than cottons or silks in those times.

As you can see, I am currently working on the border, which is 3371 DMC (very dark brown). I think the border will take some time to complete because a double width of 3371 traces round the edge of the work, with small blocks of deep orange 301 and pink beige 407 in between the tracing. I think I may take some breaks and do some of the alphabet which will be above my name (otherwise I may get a bit bored of single lines!).

I also wanted to show you a very contrasting style - its just a little card I made for Chloe who is shortly going to be enjoying her very first Christmas with her Mum and Dad, so I wanted to commemorate the special occasion with a card which was a Lucie Heaton special - all her designs are totally adorable and I really was undecided whether to do the Angel, the Snowman or the baby crib - but decided on the Snowman because I loved his cute rosey cheeks and carrot nose! Unfortunately there was a printing error and the symbols were transposed on the chart between the light blue and the mid-blue which Lucie uses to indicate the shadow effect on "Snowie's" head and body etc, which I only realised half way through. I half panic-ed then did a bit of improvising on some of the colour mixing - I hope it does not show ....

I have a special e-mail account now so that you are welcome to contact me outside the Blog if you wish - the address is

December 16, 2005


Well, today its Friday and although I normally get excited at the prospect of a Weekend ahead, this week is particularly special. I am currently studying for a postgraduate (MSc) in Information Management at Brunel University, West London and today was exam day (4 hours in total)... so you can imagine the stress in our house this week. My DH has been really great, giving me lots of encouragement, but I still get the jitters before the day. Anyway it all worked out OK, the exams went without a hitch and I think I managed to write enough down! All the time I have been dreaming of having lots of time over Christmas to do crafts and relax with DH who has been used to me spending hours typing away on the computer, writing up assignments and so forth since Sept - so now its time to relax!!

Anyway this is just a short message because we are going out for a meal tonight to celebrate my freedom so will sign off now.

PS Do you like my Lavender Sampler shown above? I really love the flower, the smell the colour and everything to do with Lavender!

December 15, 2005

My First Blog Entry

Hi there fellow Bloggers, Crafters, Cross-stitchers and Web-surfers!

As the title indicates, this is my first blog entry, so I hope you will bear with me as I join the world of online chat! Just so you know who you are 'talking' to, I have published a photo on the left, which is me holding the Winnie the Pooh sampler I made for Chloe who is now 4 months old. The photo on the right will give you a hint as to my favourite x-stitch designer - yes, its Michael Powell - I love the way his designs have been converted from paintings into stitch-ables - I often feel as if I am actually painting when I am stitching, especially as I add the finishing touches ... the dreaded backstitch that many stitchers do not like - I think I am in the minority of those who actually enjoy back-stitching :-).

I hope you will mark my Blog as a Favourite and come back to visit me on a regular basis, as it will be great to have some interaction with you all. Many people will already recognise my "nom de plume" Ali B as I regularly write comments on my dear friend AngelSan's website. I have been meaning to set up a Blog for ages (probably years!!) and now have decided as we are nearing the end of one year and starting a new one, I would pre-empt New Year's Resolution time by setting myself up and getting started - often the hardest part in any project.

Well that is all for now. Watch out for more info about me and the things I love. I won't write it all in one day, I would sooner let you get to know me gradually (well I am a bit shy but I think I will lose that as time goes by!). Enjoy your weekend and see you again soon!