Saturday, 29 November 2014

Winter Unicorn - The Final Countdown

Tomorrow is my best mate's birthday.  Winter Unicorn was finally finish finished.  I had bought a lovely white frame from Ikea earlier in the week to frame it for her.  I totally mucked up cutting the mount and had to bin it.

What to do, what to do?

Well, upstairs I had a piece of styrofoam or something similar so decided to make a cube finish instead.  Here are a few photos of the finished item.

 This is it with the fabric I used for backing.

You can just about see the stars in this shot.  I actually stitched the moon and stars with Kreinik blending filament rather than a pale blue DMC as called for in the design.

This is the bow I managed to make at the second attempt.  I am actually really proud of it.  Not something I often say about things I have done.

Sadly, Debbie wasn't in when I went round to drop it in but she rang later to say thank you.  She was thrilled that I had remembered her birthday (don't think I have ever forgotten) and wanted to know if she was to open it now.  I made her wait until tomorrow, because I am mean like that!  I can't wait for her to ring to let me know what she thinks of it.

Edit - the pin in the middle, next to the bow was removed!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Winter Unicorn - IT'S FINISHED!!!!!

I have literally just added the last bead to Winter Unicorn.  Here it is...

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Winter Unicorn

Just a quickie of this week's progress.  I should easily finish it in time I think.  I am working across the bottom before going up the side.  I had the urge to do some of the backstitch as I went as I didn't want to leave it all until the end.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Winter Unicorn - this week's progress

This is how far I have got with my unicorn this week.  Sadly, I was out for 3 evenings so there hasn't been as much progress as I had hoped.  The bottom of the leg is pretty much the bottom of the design which will give you a rough idea of how much there is left to do.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Winter Unicorn

I finally realised that it is my friend's 50th birthday at the end of the month.  I can't believe she is going to be 50, she looks so much younger than me. 
So I quickly worked out roughly how many stitches there were left to do in Winter Unicorn and divided it by 28 which would leave me 2 days for backstitch, washing, beading and framing. It came out as just under 300 a day so may just be possible.
The top photo is where I was before I started and the bottom one is the progress after 2 days.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween!!

This year we are carving our very own pumpkins, from our allotment!!!!  Luke went to pick them up from the greenhouse this morning where they have been resting since being picked.  One was a little bit bigger than the other but they were both a perfect size for carving.

Rachael decided to carve hers on the front and the back which was a great idea as we put them in the window for the trick or treaters to see and don't get the benefit of all the hard word ourselves.  So the first one is the scary side...

...followed by the friendly side that is winking at you!

This is Luke...pretending to be happy at having to pose with a pumpkin at the age of 13.  That is his 'are you seriously making me do this mum?  What on earth...' look.  He actually did all his own carving this year with me holding the pumpkin steady and praying that I would still have 8 fingers and 2 thumbs left at the end of it!

The finished pumpkins (look who crept in Jo!)  The little pumpkins are the top of a cheap set of lights we have bought for outside this year - they had to be cheap as we are taking bets as to whether they will get stolen or not!

I found this brilliant decorating idea too, but I can't remember where it was.  Below is a photo of what we are putting down the other side of the garden path for the trick or treaters...these scary eyes.  They are SO easy to make.  It is just a couple of toilet roll middles with eyes cut out on one side and a glow stick put in the middle of it.  The kids really got into making them and there are some really good shaped eyes on some of the others.  (These ones were just a practice run to see what they were like!)



Thursday, 30 October 2014

Act of kindness

One of my blogging friends, the lovely Justine of justinescrossstitch knew that I was feeling a bit down at the moment and chose to gift me a GORGEOUS HaED chart to cheer me up and to help my stitching mojo return.

It was such a wonderful gift, on a day that needed something happy!  Thank you so much Justine. (BTW - I had some fabric for it)

Mini Checking It Twice
image borrowed from HaED
click on the link to go and buy it!!!!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Halloween Exchange

Before I lost my mojo, I had joined in the Halloween Exchange that Kim was organising.  This is the wonderful package that I received from my exchange partner, Lynda.  She did send me 2 of the marshmallow witches but the first one must have whizzed off on her broomstick as she never made it to the photocall :)

I have never had such lovely tea towels and dish cloths as these, so they will be put to good use. The scented reeds are gorgeous too, pumpkin scented.  The lollies were tasty too!  The best bit though were the 2 lovely stitched pieces which Lynda included though.  They are beautifully stitched and so cute!  Thank you Lynda, it was a lovely package to open.

My package hasn't arrived yet, sadly.  I am ok posting a photo of what I sent though as I am about 99.9% sure that my exchange partner doesn't read my blog.  Below is a photo of what I sent and a close up of what I stitched for my partner. The design was a BlueLadie Designs freebie from the last newsletter.  

Finally, a while back Kathryn had a Tour de France giveaway on her blog which I was lucky enough to win.  She sent me LOADS of bits, it took me AGES to open it all and look through.  Thank you so much Kathryn.  There were loads of cute San Man designs with the buttons to finish them or the little tuck pillow, threads, a project bag and all wrapped in the cute little pink bag you can see.  Well I say little, it was probably A4 size so not little at all.  My absolutely favourite thing though, has to be the frog bell pull end.  It is adorable.  I have even taken a closeup of the frog as he is so cute!  However, this is the ONLY visiting frog I want!  Thank you Kathryn for such a wonderful package :)

Sunday, 26 October 2014


Thank you to the people who noticed I had fallen off of the planet and emailed me to make sure I was ok.  It was much appreciated and lovely to know that people were thinking of me. I'm not going into details as to why I haven't been around for a while.

There has been very little stitching the last couple of months.  The death of Debbie seems to have taken my mojo too.  So I will tell you about everything else that I have been up to instead.  

We decided to have a family 'Come Dine With Me' challenge.  If you haven't seen the programme, it is where total strangers visit each others houses for a meal, scoring each person for their night. Whoever has the highest score wins £1000.  Clearly, that wasn't going to be the prize here!

After drawing straws for the order and sharing of menus, we took turns over 4 Sundays to cook our creations.  

Colin was up first with Sausage and Lentil soup, Beef casserole with crispy potato topping and butter crumble cake.  He did add red cabbage to the plate with the casserole.  Everything was really tasty too.

Rachael's night was next.  She made home made mini pizzas for starters (making the pizza base herself) with cheesy garlic bread.  This was followed by chicken and ham melt, roast potatoes and peas with a cheesy sauce and finally the world's most delicious cake - EVER! It doesn't look much from here but was wonderful!  So chocolately with a wonderful caramel filling.

Third, was Luke.  I have to admit that I wasn't looking forward to his night as I hate meatballs! Anyway to start with there was garlic bread and 'piggy kebabs'.  These turned out to be pigs in blankets but he did mine really crispy so they were tasty.  Then the dreaded meatballs - which were really delicious.  He served it with onion relish and mango chutney and made his own bread too.  It was supposed to be pitta bread but he didn't roll it enough so there was still loads of air in it BUT it was wonderful!  I have told him that he can make a batch of this EVERY week. We forgot to get a photo of his dessert but that was gorgeous too.  Pots au chocolat, with plenty of chocolate. 

Lastly was my night.  What a lot of pressure!  I made an Onion Soup with cheesy croutons but people were so keen to tuck into it that we forgot photos until it was almost eaten!  This is what was left of Rachael's at the time.  Then it was skin on wedges with buttered corn (on a massive skewer!) with home made Southern Fried Chicken, topped with pulled pork (also made from scratch), home made BBQ sauce and topped with melted cheese.  It was beautiful!  The pull pork took around 5 hours in the oven on a lowish heat but was SO worth it!  For dessert I made a shortbread stack, with whipped cream, strawberries and served with home made ice cream (not in a machine) and chocolate dipping sauce.

We made videos on the i-pad like they do in the back of the taxi and held up our score cards to find the winner.

And the winner is...


It was really good fun, although hard work and expensive.  The winner gets a meal for himself and 3 family members...I wonder who he will choose...

Monday, 1 September 2014

Stitchers Anon breast cancer fundraiser

Many of you will know Gaynor who blogs as Stitchers Anon, or you may know her through her designing. Gaynor had breast cancer and is coming up to 3 years of being clear of it.  She does a lot to raise money and awareness for this by donating a percentage of her profits from charts to charity, with Holmsey and Fergus charts being 50% to a teenage cancer charity.

I know that in this day and age, we are bombarded with pleas to send money to this charity or that charity, and that if we could, we would send to them all.  Gaynor is now doing something with a difference to raise funds by having a giant fundraising giveaway.  Loads of people have donated crafted prizes, and Gaynor herself has made loads too.  All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning something is to donate €1 to her Justgiving page.  €1!  That's it!  At today's exchange rate that works out as 79p or $1.31.  For UK people that is the equivalent of 1 skein of DMC from most places!  Gaynor is even paying the postage to get your prize to you but will happily accept money towards that too!  There are loads of prizes, so you have a good chance of winning. She is looking to raise €500 so if every single one of my followers donated just €1, we could nearly reach half of that for her.

So many women (and some men) are touched by breast cancer or they know someone who has (or had). The sooner there is a proper cure for this horrible disease, the better!

Link to the prizes HERE
Over to Gaynor!

Finally, after a lot of thought I've worked out what I want to do with the fund-raising items and I've found the perfect charity.  Remember, I want compassion and I want research!

My breast cancer team: surgeon, oncologist and radiotherapy guys all work within a centre of excellence in Galway University Hospital.

My surgeon, Professor Kerin and the head of oncology, Dr. Keene work closely with the USA (Washington) and the Uk to plough ahead in breast cancer research.  So imagine my surprise when searching through the charities, I found the Proff has started one of his own!  

The Prof is the director of The National Breast Cancer Research Institute. 

This is a charity based in Ireland but as I've said, these guys work with the USA and the UK as well as other European countries.  Ireland may have an image of leprochauns and diddly diddly music, but where breast cancer is concerned we are ahead of the UK and many other countries in that we receive treatments long before they are approved by the NHS and it is thanks to this guy above and Dr Keene, that Tamoxifen was approved in the Uk last year as a preventative drug. 

Thankfully in Ireland I was put on it automatically er, two and half years ago.  So for me that is important: the charity I chose has to help all women whereve they may live..and this does 

So that ticks the research button.

And I know this guy.  I know the money will go where it is needed.  Whatever time my appointments, however long the line, I always get to see him.  He pops in and talks to everyone so you can build up a relationship of trust which is so important when you have a cancer diagnosis.  He holds your hand, comes out with terrible jokes, hands you tissues, and once, post surgery and post morphine, he accepted a  marriage proposals!

The Prof (as we call him: we can be informal, he has seen bits of us that usually would only be seen after a bottle of white wine lol) is a wonderful surgeon and I know that even though he was the man who made my world come crushing down in tiny pieces: he was also the man who helped me and my family build it all back up again. This is my thank you to an amazing team whose research, compassion, dedication, and yes, passion, for finding cures means women all over the world will benefit.

 So all donations will go through a Just-Give page which is perfectly safe to use. 

For every single euro donated you will be issued a raffle ticket and I will write your name on it and put it into a container.  So if you donate one euro, you get one ticket: two euros, two tickets and at the end of October I will draw winners.  I am expecting more prizes in from other people who are making them as we speak and I have some more to add as well.  I will put piccies up in the Prize page (You can see it on the top bar).

I know times are hard but honestly, one euro will be much appreciated.

You can find my Just give page  HERE

Please, be careful to donate under my name and not under the charity directly as I won't see any record of the transaction and so won't be able to issue you draw tickets.

Please share and thank you xxx

Oh one last thing.  I won't be expecting you to pay postage but as I'm sure you will appreciate, this could end up costing me quite a lot.  If you would like to make a small donation towards postage costs if you are chosen as a winner please contact me for my paypal page.  Anything donated to the Just Give page is handled by a third party. I won't be able to get postage costs out of it xxxxx