hexagons and the sizzix big shot …

Recently I lashed out and purchased the new Sizzix Big Shot machine with the idea of using it to trim hexagon shapes from 2 1/2 inch squares of fabric. I love buying the cute little precuts called mini charm packs, which are 2 1/2 inch squares, and I thought that trimming the charm packs on the Sizzex would be easier and more accurate than cutting hexagon shapes with scissors.

I’m happy to report that I love my new toy!!!

First of all, the important stuff … If you aren’t familiar with the Sizzix, you can read up about it here, which incidentally is where I purchased my Sizzix from. It arrived very promptly, postage-free in Australia, and I appreciated the professional service I received.

The next tricky bit was to decide which die cuts to buy. I did some online research and decided on these two die cuts, 658317 Bigz Die – Hexagons, 1 inch sides and 658318 Bigz Die – Hexagons, 1 1/4 inch sides. The idea was to use the 1 inch die cut to cut out card templates, and the 1 1/4 inch die cut to trim fabric. As soon as the Sizzix Big Shot and die cuts arrived, I used the 1 1/4 inch die cut to trim 5 little packets of mini charms. As you do.

When I began to construct the hexagons, I very quickly realized that the fabric allowance was too small, and even though it was possible to sew the hexagons, the 1/4 in allowance was very scant, and I was slow and stressed as I sewed, not a good combination.

I headed back online, and purchased this die cut, the 659144 Hexagons, 1 1/2 inch sides, and this works fabulously. I’m back to being fast and unstressed, a much better place to be. So even though it was an expensive mistake, I am so very much happier with the  1 1/2 inch die cut. You can see from the two images below how some of the folded sides are very narrow.

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If you haven’t used a Sizzix before, it is very easy to do so. You have two clear plastic pads and a die cut which you can see below. The die cut is like a foam pad with cutting blades imbeded into the foam. You place the fabric over the shapes, put one plastic pad under the die cut, one on top of the die cut, and feed it through the machine by turning a handle.

For the purpose of this exercise, I cut my white fabric into strips, then trimmed them into squares. I trimmed through six squares on each hexagon on the die cut. If I was trimming mini precuts, I would simply lay the squares in piles of six on the die cut. I believe the Sizzix will cut through eight layers of fabric at one time, but I play on the safe side of the road and put through six layers at one time, and I’ve had no problems.

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I cut my fabric off the bolt into 2 1/2 inch strips, then cut them down into 2 1/2 inch squares.

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You can see the shape of the blades here … the size of the cut is 2 /12 inches top to bottom, 3 inches from side to side. This means your fabric is a little short on the sides, but it doesn’t matter in the construction of the hexagons, so I don’t mind if my cut fabric shapes are not exactly hexagons.

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Two piles of six layers of fabric, 2 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches.

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I have pulled the trimmed fabric away from the hexagon shape here … you can see that the ‘horizonal corners’ have been trimmed off, but I don’t really need them when I construct the hexagons, so the convenience of being able to trim mini charms outweighs the fact that I don’t get ‘exact’ hexagons.

Sizzix 4

Feeding/rolling the ‘sandwich’ of plastic pad/die cut/plastic pad through the machine … you can see how marked and scored my clear plastic pad is. I was worried about this when it first happened, so I checked online, and this is what happens, so don’t panic! It is from the blades imbeded in the die cut, and is to be expected.

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And here is the die cut coming out the other end. It makes a little clicking sound as you feed the ‘sandwich’ though which again is normal.

I really enjoyed using the machine … it took me just minutes to trim the fabric to make up over 100 hexagons in just a few minutes, and I can see that I will get lots of use out of it. I have also purchased 659851 Bigz L Die – 2 inch finished squares and 657520 Bigz L Die – Half-Square Triangles, 5 inch unfinished square die cuts, and I will let you know in a while how these have worked out for me.

Blog disclaimer

Just so we are all on the same page … all opinions expressed here on my blog are my personal thoughts and judgements about the products I have written about. I am not affiliated with any of the companies and products mentioned, and I post about my experiences because I am happy with the products and enjoy sharing my experiences with other readers.

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the yarn kitchen – flower coasters …

flower coasters[from the Yarn Kitchen]

I’m starting a fun new feature on my blog this week … I haven’t thought of a snappy title for these posts yet, but I’m excited to share some Etsy shops and fav products that I have discovered!

This week I’m sharing the Yarn Kitchen, and featuring these gorgeous crotched flower coasters that come in white, grey, and wait for it … sharon green!!!

Sorry about the enabling … shhh! I think these accidentally fell into my shopping cart … happy shopping!!!

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project 365, week 36 & 37 …

project 365, week 36, page 1

project 365, week 36, page 2[Credits: Hello There Template (altered), by Paislee Press. Font: Courier New.]

Journaling – in the pink | ‘helping’ me sew hexagons | london beauties, my liberty of london fabrics | another small hexie project on the go | new kitchen tap!!! | raspberry tea | happy ‘friday’ selfie … [wk 36, oct 31 - sept 6, 2014]

project 365, week 37, page 1

project 365, week 37, page 2

[Credits: Hello There Template (altered), by Paislee Press. Font: Courier New.]

Journaling – pink hydrangeas | helping dad plan his next holiday | red belt in karate | who said christmas could start in september? | afternoon tea with the man | gorgeous pile of fabric | new toy … [wk 37, sept 7 - 13, 2014]

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london trip, day 7 & 8 …

For our last full day of ‘touristing’ in London, Day 7, we hired a car and drove east to Canterbury to visit the Cathedral which dominates the skyline in this part of the country. We were very brave to tackle London traffic on a holiday weekend, in retrospect. The man is a very competent driver, and in all our years, I have never seen him unnerved by traffic as he was in London.

To begin with, the GPS in our car was set to avoid the larger highways, so let’s just say that we saw a lot more on London than we were expecting, and that it took us twice as long to get to Canterbury as it should have!!!

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However, we did finally find the Cathedral, and we amused to find that part of it had been shut down for a while as it had been booked for a wedding. We were entertained by the arrival of the bride and her attendants, all dressed very beautifully in inappropriate summer bridal finery, all shivering very artistically.

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canterbury 2

We wandered around the grounds for a while, which were very ‘photograph worthy’, with ruins and gardens and other good things to record with my iPhone.

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There were no queues, so we paid for a tour, and were soon inside being led around by our Japanese guide (who had lived in London for many years) who had a lovely broken accent and a world of information to share with us. It was fascinating to wander the corridors under her guidance, as she brought the place to life. She was a volunteer, but passionately believed in what she was doing. Good times.

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The trip home was horrendous once we hit the outskirts of London again. Road works plus a lot of traffic made it difficult to get around, and at one stage our GPS was leading us further and further away from our destination! Finally we got back to the hire car place and thankfully handed the keys over!

Our last day in London was a combination of packing up, checking out, and filling the day with some last-minute shopping before heading back to the airport. In retrospect, leaving the shopping till the last day wasn’t the best plan, as we were both very tired, and just wanted to sit down somewhere quiet and rest up!

Despite our lack of enthusiasm, I was very pleased to visit Liberty of London and Anthropologie, two shops I was eager to see.

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Liberty of London was an amazing place. It came into being in 1875, and today consists of four floors in a Tudor building on Regent Street. The man came with me and was very impressed with the building.

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I had a quick look around and purchased two tiny little packets of 2 ½ inch squares (with hexagons in mind!) and that cost me about A$40. While I was waiting at the counter to be served, the woman in front of me purchased 17 cuts of fabric and paid A$8,000.00 on her credit card for her fabric! It made my $40 look a little silly!

Anthropologie, Regent Street[image from here]

I’ve visited Anthropologie  online before, and was anxious to see what it looked like ‘in real life’, as they are known for their unusual window displays … it was a fun place to visit. I bought a pair of earrings there, and probably paid three times what I would pay for the same thing back home, but the man encouraged me to buy something I wanted, so I did!

We were very glad to finally get back on the tube and find our way back to our hotel, collected our luggage, found our ride to the airport, and relaxed in the lounge while waiting for our flight. I could tell you all about the verrrrrry long flight home that seemed to last forever, but I won’t. I put the long trip down to the price you pay for visiting such a wonderful destination as London. I’m not quite ready to hop back on another 25 hour traveling jaunt overseas, but I know once the jet lag wears off, I will be looking forward to another trip back to the UK, hopefully fitting in some time in Wales, Scotland and Ireland as well. So much travelling to do, so little time and money …

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london trip, day 6 …

Day 6 we spent back in London. So much to see, so little time.

We caught the tube to Westminster Station after breakfast, and spent the day touring Westminster Abbey and Westminster Palace.

Westminster Abbey[image from here]

Photography was not permitted in most of the rooms we viewed, so I’ve ‘borrowed’ some images off the internet. First, we joined the queue (3rd and 4th in the queue!!!) to visit the Abbey. When we left the Abbey, the queue was several blocks long, if you can believe that!!!

What an amazing place! We collected audio devices and slowly made our way around the Abbey, stopping often to listen to the audio and taking in the amazing scenery. This place was absolutely packed with over 1000 years of history, the place royals come to be christened, married and buried. It really is a treasure house of paintings, stained glass, pavements, textiles and other artefacts. Oh yes, and filled with lots of tourists!!!

Westminster Abbey is also the place where some of the most significant people in the nation’s history are buried or commemorated. Taken as a whole the tombs and memorials comprise the most significant single collection of monumental sculpture anywhere in the United Kingdom. So you can see why it would be easy to spend hours, rather than just a morning, in this place.

Westminster Abbey[image from here]

Westminster Abbey[image from here]

We took a break for lunch, then lined up for the second part of our day’s adventures, a visit to Westminster Palace, where I ‘enjoyed’ my first full-body pat down courtesy of security before I was allowed in the door. We joined a tour group, and spent the next hour or so listening to commentary as we were taken around the public areas of the Palace.

Wesminster Palace

[image from here]

The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and is commonly known as the Houses of Parliament.

Westminster Palace

[image from here]

You are allowed to stand in this area and look, but certainly not allowed to sit!!! My feet were very tired by this stage …

The Palace, strangely enough, was built as a palace, and royalty lived there until the 1500’s, when it became the home of Parliament.

Westminster Palace[image from here]

Westminster Palace[image from here]

I think it is an amazing sight at night.

We finished the afternoon with a river cruise down to Greenwich, which was very relaxing. We sat in the later summer afternoon sunshine inside, as it was very warm out on the deck, and enjoyed the commentary by one of the ship’s crew.

River Thames cruise[image from here]

 I’m not sure what I was expecting at Greenich, but it was a beautiful spot to visit. We only had an hour or so before the river ferry left, so we didn’t do it justice, but it was a great way to spend what remained of the afternoon.

Greenwich

[image from here]

So why is Greenwich important? It’s where to find the Prime Meridian of the World, and apparently every place on Earth is measured from here. So now you know!!!

And that, I think, is the end of Day 6 … only two to go!

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london trip, day 5 …

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Day 5 we were on our way by 9.30 am, after a great breakfast, and our first stop was Bourton on the Water, which has been described as the Little Venice of the Cotswolds, as it straddles the river Windrush with its series of elegant low bridges beside neat tree-shaded greens and tidy stone banks.

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Standing back from the river are traditional Cotswolds buildings, many of which are now tourist shops for folk like us, day-trippers and visitors.

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We enjoyed a traditional cream tea, with scones and jam and cream, though I confess I indulged in a coffee, rather than a tea, peasant that I am.

Our second stop was at Stow, where the town square was large and impressive (sometimes over 20,000 sheep are crowded in here during a market), with many houses, shops and inns around the edge, all built in the local stone.

Stow

It was a hilly town, and we wandered up and down the streets, poking our way about the antique shops.

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We sat for a little while up on a hill in the breeze, enjoying the view. The man decided he wanted to put a dry stone wall (see above) in our front yard back in Australia … me? Not so sure!!!

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Our friendly guide told us that these kerbs were built up so that folk could step out of their carriages with ease … my friend Mr Google couldn’t confirm this, but it makes a good story!

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Oxford was stop three … what an amazing place! I have watched TV shows set in Oxford for many years and was excited to see if reality lived up to what I had seen, and indeed, it did!

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Beautiful stone buildings everywhere … and people! So very many people everywhere! We were fortunate enough to wander through two college grounds and buildings, those of Trinity College, and Balliol College.

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It was very quiet, and we were able to wander at our own pace, and I was able to photograph the flowers in the gardens, which I really enjoyed.

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At the end of two days playing tourist, we were happy to get back into the bus at the end of the day and relax on the drive back to London. When we next visit London, and yes, I hope to go back, we will be making more trips out of London … it was such fun!

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london trip, day 4 …

Day 4 & 5 were the highlights of the trip for me … we ventured out of London for two days into the Cotswolds, travelling west of London, and staying in a country hotel. We went on a Rabbies tour, which I recommend, as there were only 16 on our bus, which meant we enjoyed the undivided attention of our tour guides and got to know our fellow travellers.

Let’s look at Day 4 first …

We travelled lightly with just one small case, and took a taxi to Victoria Station, where we met up with our guides and the bus. We travelled out of London on a major road, then dived into the country and drove alone picturesque English country roads.

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Our first stop was the Avebury Stones, in the small village of Avebury. Rather than visit Stonehenge which has become very commercialized, we chose to visit the Avebury Stones, which are part of the largest stone circle in the world. Visitors are able to walk among the stones … even hug them!!!

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We also visited Avebury Church which dates round about 1000 AD.

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Our second stop was at Lacock Village where we walked through an old tithe barn and visited St Cyriacs Parish church, built around 1480 AD.

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What I particularly enjoyed about this tour was the personality of our tour guide … he kept up a steady stream of interesting commentary about the countryside we were passing through, and walked us into the small villages, showed us the sights, then let us wander at our own pace for an hour or so. That said, I think sometimes he made stuff up, just to keep us entertained!

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Our third stop was at Bath … what an amazingly beautiful place! I’ve read about Bath for many years (in historical novels) and it was quite different to what I was expecting. The Roman Baths were impressive, but what made it in Bath for me were the beautiful buildings and all the flowers and gardens, bordered by a wide river.

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Our final stop for Day 4 was at the pretty town of Cirencester, in the centre of the Cotswolds. We had chosen where we wanted to stay when we made the booking, and out of our two choices, B&B or a hotel, we had chosen a hotel, and I was so pleased with our choice. You can see from the images how lovely the Corinium Hotel was. We went for a quick walk through the town after arriving and admired the cathedral.

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Here’s a little history lesson … Cirencester was the second largest town in Britain during Roman times. It’s market square is dominated by the cathedral-like Parish Church of St. John Baptist (one of the largest in England). The large south porch with its impressive fan vaulting was built about 1490. The man (who was a stonemason in another lifetime) enjoyed checking it out. Just around the corner from our hotel we discovered Roman arches which were part of a hospital built in Roman times, I believe.

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During one of our walks we came to the gates of Cirencester Park, home to the Earls of Bathurst. Just outside the gates we found this ‘castle’ which was up for rent!!!

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The man also found a Roman ampitheatre that he ran through on his early, misty (read ‘cold’) 10 km run early on day 5. How much fun to run through an ampithetre?

We enjoyed a fabulous meal in the hotel’s restaurant … I would to visit again, which is always a great recommendation for a place, don’t you think? More tomorrow …

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london trip, day 3 …

So we are at Day 3, and wow, my feet still hurt thinking about Day 3!

We walked over 16 kms, and visited The London Tower and the British Museum, and really, we could have spent a whole week in just the museum. I can sense how my energy levels were going during the day by the number of photos I took, as for some strange reason, I only took a couple of photos at the museum. But more about that later …

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We began the day bright and early by catching the tube to Tower Hill. It was quite cool, but pleasant as we sat in the early morning sunshine and admired the poppy art piece in the grassy moat surrounding the Tower while waiting for The Tower to open. The ceramic poppies commemorate 100 years since the outbreak of WWI, and make a stunning display around the Tower.

A couple of side notes … one thing I would recommend you do when you visit London is to be at your chosen attraction early. To be at the front of the queue is a wonderful thing if you are time short and don’t want to stand for a couple of hours waiting to go in. Queues can stretch for . ever!!!

We also found getting around London by tube was very quick and convenient. We purchased Oyster cards and topped them up a couple of times during our visit. You can hand them in at the airport on the way out of the country and receive back the deposit and whatever remains on the card. Good way to travel, except in peak hour, where I received a new understanding of how sardines feel packed into a tin, if you get my drift!!!

Royal Jewels[photo from here]

So, we were at the front of the queue to enter the London Tower, and as we picked up our audio guides, we were advised to make haste to the Crown Jewels exhibition, as that was very popular, and the queues grew quickly. We walked straight into the exhibit and were able to take our time enjoying the pretties and sparklies. An hour or so later, we saw enormous lines of people waiting to go in, as we wandered around the other areas of The Tower.

This was a fabulous place to visit … there are ten top things listed on The Tower of London website that are worth a visit – the Crown Jewels, the White Tower, yeoman warders, the ravens, tower torture, the line of kings, royal beasts, the fortress, the fusilier museum, a medieval palace, the Tower Green and scaffold site, and the wall walk!!!

Phew! No wonder I was exhausted at the end of the day. A lot of the walking was up and down steps, which made it even more fun.

Here are some photos I took during our visit …

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The Wardrobe Tower … built in 1190-1210  to house clothes and jewels.

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The White Tower … the oldest part of the Tower, built to strike fear and submission into the unruly citizens of London. It is an example of Norman architecture, and houses the magnificent Royal Armouries collections, including the 300 year old exhibition Line of Kings as well as treasures of the Royal Armouries.

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This knight was very happy to go to war!!!

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This lovely dragon is made of armour and weapons. It had a red ‘jewel’ in its belly.

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Recreation of King Edward I’s bedroom. It was designed to travel, as it accompanied him to war and around the countryside.

raven [photo from here]

The ravens … Legend says that the kingdom and the Tower will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the fortress. There are seven ravens at the Tower today, six plus one spare. (Apparently some have been sacked and some occasionally go absent without leave, despite having their wings clipped.)

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Tower ruins.

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The Royal Menagerie … Founded during the reign of King John in the early 1200s, animals lived at the Tower for over 600 years. Exotic animals were given as royal gifts and animals were kept at the Royal Menagerie for the entertainment and curiosity of the court. Artist Kendra Haste has created life-size sculptures of some of the Tower’s royal beasts. Kendra works in wire mesh, which makes the sculptures appear solid and also slightly ghostly at the same time. We were told that one of the kings allowed the polar bear to swim in the River Thames while secured to the shore with a chain.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the visit, and would recommend it to London trippers!

After all this excitement, I was glad to sit down on the tube for the short ride from the Tower of London to British Museum tube stations. We had lunch in a pretty city park, perched on the stone steps of a monument, enjoying our egg and cress sandwiches, fresh fruit salad and drinks in the summer sunshine.

Our breakfasts were included in our hotel tariff, and we usually grabbed sandwiches and fresh fruit from Marks & Spencer for our lunches each day. The food was delicious and healthy, and relatively cheap, and we chose to do this, rather than eat at the attractions we were visiting. Prices for food were more expensive there, and of course, there were queues!

British Museum [photo from here]

The British Museum … what can I say? It was amazing, and we could have spent an entire week exploring its treasures. We had one afternoon, and I was already feeling worn out. We also lucked out by choosing an afternoon when there was a church denomination touring the museum. There were hundreds of people following their tour guides around, and they were not quiet!

The museum is huge, it is packed with interesting artifacts, and it is filled with many, many people! I mentioned earlier that I only took a couple of photos as I was so tired and over it by this time, in terms of recording it with my iPhone, so I’m grabbing some images from the net (with credits) to give you a taste of this amazing place.

Elgin Marbles [photo from here]

Part of the Elgin Marbles.

Nereid Monument[photo from here]

Nereid Monument.

Rosetta Stone[photo from here]

Rosetta stone.

Cat Mummy[photo from here]

Cat mummy.

palace entrance[photo from here]

Palace entrances.

Hoa Hakannai[photo from here]

Hoa Hakananai’a statue from Easter Island.

Snettisham Hoard[photo from here]

Iron Age precious metal – Snettisham Hoard.

This is a very poor attempt to show you a little of the British Museum … but hopefully it will give you a taste of what it offers. I really enjoyed spending the afternoon there, and hope to go back again some time.

And then it was time to battle our way home on the tube in peak hour … and thus endeth Day 3!!!

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london trip, day 2 …

So here we are at the beginning of Day 2 … what do you think would be the quickest/best way to get an overview of the highlights of London? Why, catch a double-decker red London bus, and see the sights! (Ok, so our bus was blue, but it was a double-decker!)

London bus[photo from here]

Just outside our hotel we found several tour operators offering to help us out … we chose Golden Tours, and it wasn’t long before we were sitting in the very front seat on top of the blue bus.

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We had a great time during the next couple of hours, getting an idea of the general layout of the city centre. From the bus we saw Marble Arch, Albert Hall, Harrods Buckingham Palace Westminster Abbey and Palace, Big Ben in Elizabeth tower, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, London Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe, and 221A Baker Street, where Sherlock Holmes ‘lived’.

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When we got to St Paul’s Cathedral, we hopped off the bus and spent a couple of hours walking around the cathedral and its grounds. It is difficult to put into words just how awesome the cathedrals in England are, and in particular St Paul’s, which is the second largest cathedral in England.

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During our visit, we climbed over 500 steps up to the Golden Gallery where we enjoyed great views of the city. It was very breezy at the very top.

Modern Expat Family[photo from here]

Halfway up our climb, we stopped off at the Whispering Gallery, where you can clearly hear someone whispering 100 feet away … amazing acoustics.

We visited the Crypt where of the nation’s heroes including the Cathedral’s architect Sir Christopher Wren (who built more than 50 churches) as well as the magnificent tombs of Admiral Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington are located.

It was almost eerie, as every now and then I would look down to see the name of someone important carved in the stone under my feet. We took advantage of the audio guides that are included in the admittance price, which look like overlarge mobile phones, which you hang around your neck. You can either use earphones with them, or hold them to your ear to hear the commentary. (Numbers on the wall or exhibit are keyed into the audio guide, and you hear commentary relevant to the area you are standing in.)

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The present church dates back to the late 17th century, built after the Great Fire of London, and was designed in a Baroque style. That’s not my fav architecture style, but it must be admitted that it certainly is impressive!

Sherlock Holmes Museum[Sherlock Holmes Museum]

After our visit to St Paul’s, we hopped back on a blue bus and headed to 221a Baker Street. I am a Sherlock Holmes fan and would have liked to have visited the museum, but the queue to go in the door was very, very long, so I contented myself with a photo of the plaque above the door.

We had an adventure getting back to our hotel, as it started to rain just as we discovered that the bus would take too long to get back to our hotel and we decided to walk. It was quite a heavy shower, and of course, we didn’t have an umbrella with us, so we huddled under some very large trees and waited until it was over. I then popped an umbrella in my backpack, so naturally we didn’t need an umbrella again.

We ate out in an Italian restaurant which we found in a local side street, nothing much to write home about, unfortunately … and there endth Day 2!

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simply retro challenge, quilt 7 …

Well, look at that … it’s September! And it’s time to choose our next quilt in of our very informal Simply Retro challenge, where we choose a quilt at the beginning of the month and use it as inspiration to create our own quilts.

We are using the very gorgeous book, ‘Simply Retro’, by Camille Roskelley, to inspire us. If you ‘do’ Instagram, you can find images of our quilts using this hashtag, #simplyretrochallenge.

So for month 7, Angie of GnomeAngel fame has chosen Dwell as our ‘inspiration quilt’. You can find Angie’s blog here, and her Instagram feed here, and her Facebook page here …

Here’s a looksee at the quilt …

Dwell, by Camille Roskelley

[photo from Camille's blog]

It’s such a lovely quilt!

So ready, set, go … the ‘rules’ are very basic, and you are welcome to join in any time … here are the challenge ‘guidelines’ (and I use that term very loosely!!!) I’d love to know if you’re playing along, and who knows? You may get to choose the next month’s quilt.

  1. We take turns in choosing the quilt pattern we are using, in order of joining the challenge.
  2. One quilt per month? For the month of September, we will make ‘Dwell’.
  3. Feel free to interpret the pattern in any way you wish. You can upscale or downscale as desired. Play with the pattern in any way you wish … it is a starting off point, not an end destination. Fabric selection is also up to the individual quilter.
  4. Don’t stress!!! This is a fun project, and there are no quilting police around!!!
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a blog hop with a difference …

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I was tagged last week by my friend Cassie to take part in a blog hop, who was tagged by Tammy from Girls Wear Blue Too. I thought it would be a great chance for some of my newer visitor to get to know me a little and share some things about my creative style.

What am I working on right now?

At the moment, in terms of being a creative person, I’m a quilter! This is my second run at quilting, as I took a break in the middle of my first quilting phase to take up digital scrapbooking, but something called me back to quilts, and I have been steadily quilting for the last three years.

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My major quilting project at the moment is a large hexagon green and white quilt that I am calling ‘Lemons & Limes’. This is my second hexagon quilt of this size, and I loved making my first one so much that I lined up and started a second one straight away!

This quilt has taken me almost nine months of hand-sewing to date, and will probably be another month in the making before the quilt top is completed. There will be over 2,000 hexagons in this quilt, and you can see that most of it is done, I just have to join those very long seams together, and then it’s off to my long arm quilter, as I am not tackling a quilt this size on a domestic machine!!!

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Minor projects? I’m currently working through the 11 quilts in Camille Roskelley’s book, ‘Simply Retro. We have a small informal challenge group that is working on one quilt per month, and we are starting our 7th quilt this month, September. I’m also making some mini quilts, and other little projects that catch my eye, on the side! You can see what we have been doing via Instagram, using the tag #simplyretrochallenge

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How long does it take to create a project?

Small projects take me just a couple of days to complete, but my hexagon projects take months to make, as hours of hand-sewing are involved.

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What are my fave things I love to create with at the moment?

I love clear, bright colours, modern prints, and use lots of white fabric/white space in my projects. I buy my white quilters’ homespun by the bolt!

I spend a lot of time drooling over the fabric collections curated by Westwood Acres Fabrics, and would be happy to purchase most of their lovely collections. (I’m sure they would love me to do that too!!!)

I adore my quilters’ edition Bernina machine, and really enjoy creating quilts and other small projects with it. It sews like a dream, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. My previous machine was an Elna that I sewed on for over thirty years before it literally fell to pieces.

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How does my creative process work?

It’s all about the colour/pattern of the fabrics for me!

I see pretty fabric (usually online or in a magazine) and then I have to use that fabric (or collection of fabrics). Then it’s a matter of finding a pattern that I feel works with the fabrics, and then I am off and running. Usually, I cut, sew and complete within a week, as long as it’s not a hand-sewing project. I don’t like things hanging around.

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Most often, I use a collection put out by a designer, as I like things to work together, and trust the designer’s eye and taste. I’m not into pulling bits and pieces from more than one collection and trying to make the fabrics work, unless I am making a scrap quilt and then it’s all bets off.

How do I become inspired and stay inspired?

I subscribe to a couple of digital quilting magazines, shop in online stores, and of course, there’s Pinterest and Instagram! I also follow quilting blogs, and adore seeing designers’ new collections.

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What is my signature style?

I’m guessing my style would be a combination of modern/simple/organized/bright, fresh and pretty. Hmmm … is this a style?

Finally, I’m passing the baton over to any crafter out in cyberspace who would like to share some of their creative process. Don’t forget to leave me a comment, so that I can come find you …

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simply retro challenge, quilt 6 – update 1 and finish …

IMG_1644This month I chose to make a mini quilt rather than a full-sized quilt. I think I am quite liking mini quilts, as I have made a few lately.

Month six (August) in our #simplyretrochallenge was Fresh, from Simply Retro with Camille Roskelley. If you chose to make the full-sized quilt, you would have ended up with a beauty 96 x 96 inches in size!

Because August was a very busy month for me and included an overseas trip towards the end of it, I chose to make one 24 inch block as a mini quilt, and I am really pleased with the end result! I was a little worried that I mightn’t get quilt 6 finished!

I got back from my trip on early on Tuesday morning, and the plan was to stay awake until Tuesday night, in an effort to ward off jet lag! I found myself getting very weary towards the end of the day, so I sat down and cut out the mini quilt, sewed it and quilted it up on Wednesday morning.

My plan worked a treat … I think the intellectual exercise of working out and making up my little quilt really helped me stay awake and kept the dreaded jet lag at bay!

So quilt 6 done and dusted, and we are more than halfway through our challenge!!!

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project 365, week 33-35 …

project 365, week 33, page 1

project 365, week 33, page 2[Credits: Hello There Template (altered), by Paislee Press. Font: Courier New.]

Journaling – flying high, to london | new toy | quick-unpick, a (quilting) girl’s best friend | mornin’ | binding time | breakfast at the shingle inn | breakfast in dubai … [wk 33, aug 10 - 16, 2014]

project 365, week 34, page 1

project 365, week 34, page 2[Credits: Hello There Template (altered), by Paislee Press. Font: Courier New.]

Journaling – bourton on the water | roman baths at bath | avebury stones | yellow corner | more gorgeous yellow flowers | oxford | top of st paul’s cathedral … [wk 34, aug 17 - 23, 2014]

project 365, week 35, page 1

project 365, week 35, page 2[Credits: Hello There Template (altered), by Paislee Press. Font: Courier New.]

Journaling – fav thing about london, the flowers | the weeping angel who followed us to london | best ever fabric shop | canterbury cathedral | prefect setting for yellow roses | english cottage gardens everywhere | the requisite tourist shot … [wk 35, aug 24 - 30, 2014]

Posted in london, Project 365, scrapbooking, sharing layouts | 1 Comment

london trip, day 1 …

IMG_0707E_695You may have wondered why things have been a little quiet around my little blog home lately … I’ve just got back from a 10 day trip to London, and I thought I might spend the next few days sharing my visit with you. If you are wondering, it takes roughly 25 hours of travelling from my front door to Heathrow airport!

We left my home town about 10 pm on a Saturday night, flew for 7 hours to Dubai, waited a couple of hours, then caught the next plane to Heathrow which was a 14 hour flight. That brought us in to London on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm. Factor in a couple of hours each end at airports, and you have over a day of travelling.

Without a doubt, the most unpleasant part of our holiday was the long hours of sitting on a plane. Crossing time zones is a strange thing that really does my head in, if I think about it too hard.

The man and I went on our own, children being left behind to continue their respective educations … we were determined just to be tourists for the time we were away, and we did just that! Lots of walking and looking and eating and enjoying time away from work and other responsibilities!

Now, that long plane trip!!! The theory was that we would sleep on the way over … the plan worked out for him, but me? Well, I don’t sleep so well away from my own bed, so I spent the first 16 hours of the flight watching Season 4 of The Walking Dead! There was a girl sitting on the other side of the man also watching a scary movie, and both of us jumped every now and then, which amused the man!

After Season 4 finished, I enjoyed catching up on some other movies I hadn’t seen before. It’s a ploy by airlines to help keep us entertained, I think … that, and stuffing us full of food every couple of hours. Somehow I managed to have three breakfasts on the way over … one at the end of the first leg of the trip, one in Dubai, and one as we started the second leg. It really was a good thing that we did so much walking!

Dubai was interesting … it was very clear and hot at 5 am, somewhere around 35’C (95’F). We weren’t able to leave the terminal, but we did visit the Business Lounge (courtesy of the man doing so many business trips overseas) and enjoy breakfast, which for me was waffles and berries, of course!

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When we checked in for the second leg of the trip over, we were delighted to find that we had been upgraded to Business Class on the plane. I’m not sure I will ever fly Business Class again (it is so very expensive), so I enjoyed it immensely, and even managed to sleep for part of this flight.

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So let’s call this Day 1

We stayed in a hotel in Kensington, opposite Hyde Park. The room was very small, but very comfortable, and the service by the hotel staff was fabulous. I would recommend the hotel to other London visitors. Breakfast was included in our tariff, and even though I am not normally a ‘breakfast’ person, I did eat well each morning, and fueled up for the day … coffee, scrambled eggs on toast, a croissant, cranberry juice. It was a lovely little ritual each morning before heading off to see the sights.

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We had been told that the best way to handle jet lag was to get out in the sunshine as soon as possible (daylight is a powerful stimulant for regulating the biological clock), so after we had settled in, we headed off to explore Hyde Park. I love Georgette Heyer’s historical romance novels, and her heroines are always riding their horses through Hyde Park, so it was so much fun to wander through the park.

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Hyde Park was bought by Henry VIII in 1536, and he hunted for deer in the 350 acres of the park. Today, no wildlife roams the park, apart from the squirrels and wild tourists!!! It is a lovely combination of cleared and not-so-cleared areas, and it is always teeming with walkers and joggers, riders on horses and dogs on leads. You can even swim in certain areas, though I wouldn’t advise it, as the lakes are covered with ducks and seagulls.

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You can read more about the history of Hyde Park here

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Towards one end of the park is a royal residence called Kensington Palace. It has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century, and is the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. Mind you, I didn’t see any of the royal family during our visit!

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Obviously part of the palace is private, and part is open to the public; we bought tickets and toured the state rooms. You could choose four different routes throughout the palace that offered exhibits incorporating cutting-edge digital presentations, interactive experiences, and even audio sequences that brought to life the gatherings of gowns, antique furniture, and other memorabilia of notable residents of the palace including William and Mary in the Queen’s State Apartments, the court of George I and II in the King’s State Apartments and the life of Queen Victoria in the rooms most associated with her. The fourth exhibit displayed selections of Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe in the 1950s, Princess Margaret from the 1960 and 70s and Diana, Princess of Wales in the 1980s during their fashion heyday. [Wikipedia]

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It was a great start to our holiday … we wandered at our own pace and really relished this quick dip into English history.

Highlights of day 1 … I loved Hyde Park’s huge trees, green lawns and lovely sunshine. I really enjoyed the way Kensington Palace was divided into ‘historical eras’, where you could start with the ‘oldest rooms’ and work your way through English history up to the present. Strangely enough, another highlight of the day was slipping into a very comfortable bed at the end of 25 very long hours!!!

We seemed to drive through most of London on our way to our hotel and we really enjoyed looking at all the different architecture along the way, and what was striking to me was the abundance of flowers everywhere, in large hanging pots, in window boxes, in gardens. I would have been happy to take photos all day of the floral English summer that was all around me.

Posted in holidays, london | 1 Comment

tutorial – big stitch coaster, by sew mama sew …

Sew Mama Sew

You can never have too many coasters, right?

Here’s a tutorial with photos to make some lovely little quilted coasters with bias tape around the edges … love these, and what a perfect way to use up fabric scraps!!! You can find the tutorial at Sew Mama Sew

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guest post, by cassie …

I’m fortunate enough to have two guest posters this week … My second guest is Cassie, who I have known as long as Carol, but I have actually met!!! We met for a day last year, and I had a wonderful day catching up, meeting her family, and exploring her lovely home …

Hi everyone! If we haven’t met before, I’m Cassandra Madge, and I blog at www.CassandraMadge.com. I have been crafting, photographing and sewing for more years than I can remember, and have known Sharon for many of those years! I’m so excited to be guest posting here today and to be able to share with you the reveal of my “finished” Simply Retro Challenge March quilt.

The pattern we used is Sweet Life by Camille Roskelley, using 9 fat quarters of Full Moon Lagoon from Mo Bedell, as well as pink, orange and white co-ordinating fabrics.

I pieced the back using some of the leftover pattern fabrics as well as some bonus half-square triangle pinwheels from making the quilt top.

Backing chevron/stripe fabric, and binding orange star fabrics are from 1001 Peeps by Lizzie House.

I completed this quilt with my very first attempt at custom freemotion quilting circular arcs around each patterned motif, with pebbling and stippling to fill in. Each motif has either a feather ring, or a chrysanthemum type floral pattern stitched inside.

Sadly, a migraine has beaten me to get the binding finished, so I will have to distract you with cute puppy pictures instead –introducing Coco and Willow, our two Maltese/Shihtzu dogs.

For more of my quilts and crafting adventures, I’d love you to come along and visit me on my blog!

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Posted in fun stuff, Guest posts, quilting | 3 Comments

guest post, by carol …

Guess what, folks? We have a guest poster here today, my good (internet) buddy, Carol!!! I’ve known Carol for possible ten years now, via the internet, as she tells you below, and we are definitely meeting up at a marathon race very soon. [We are cheering, not running!!!]

Hi I’m Carol and I’ve known Sharon for quite some time now.  Although having said “known” her, we’ve never actually met (something that is soon to be rectified though!!)  Social media is a wonderful thing to find people, some of whom become lovely friends.  I first found Sharon via her blog when she was designing digital scrapbooking product and would offer a freebie Friday.  Then she opened a store and I became a guest on her team, and heck, just never left throughout that journey!  And all the while have marvelled at her blog and all the photography and scrapping and quilting goodness.

So in thinking about what to write for this guest post, my thoughts were drawn to our various crafts, they come and go as our lives and moods take us, and it’s fun to rediscover crafts we once held so dear.  Much like Sharon and getting back to all her beautiful quilting, I too have rediscovered a craft, crocheting, something I learnt at my Great Aunt’s knee when I was about 12 years old.

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Combine crochet and my love of social media and it’s a match made in heaven.

Together with some digital scrapbooking friends, Doris and Steph, who were keen on crocheting, we decided to do a “crochet-a-long” (quite international at that, being that it was an Australian, a Canadian and American).  We chose a pattern called the Ripple Blanket and via Instagram it was a wonderful way to keep in touch with each other’s progress, from selecting the yarn colours, to the blanket in various stages and places throughout the endless rows of crochet.  We marvelled that how each of us produced quite a different blanket depending on our colour and yarn choices and our tension.  It was loads of fun.  We made sure we tagged our photographs with #crochetalong so we had an easy way to see each other’s work.

We have since finished that ripple blanket and our little crocheting group has grown to five and we’ve moved on to a chevron blanket, to which it looks like we have this tag all to ourselves #chevroncrochetalong.

Social media and craft – a fun way to hook up (no pun intended) with other people that in times gone by we may have sat together and done our craft over cups of tea and chatter.  Well we’re still doing that, just worlds away.

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And here’s some pics of the various stages of play of the blanket and how rewarding seeing your grandson all nestled in the blanket you so lovingly made for him.  It’s like being wrapped in a hug.

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10-reward seeing it used

Posted in fun stuff, Guest posts | Tagged | 2 Comments

have you voted?

Sew-vivor3 COMPETITIONThere’s a little something going on at the Family Ever After blog, a Sew-vivor competition! Now, the thought of a competition brings me out in hives, so there’s no chance that I’m involved, but I do love seeing what some of my sewing/quilting friends are getting up to!!!

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I wandered over today and found that Challenge 1 projects have been finished and you are able to choose your favourites and vote!!! Now, voting, I can do that!!!

I’m not going to tell you who I voted for, but there are some lovely pieces of work on the website, and I do recommended you have a look see and vote. I won’t post any photos of the projects because that might give you a little clue as to who I voted for … such fun!

So … you’re still here? Go vote …

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the white stuff – living room …

Imogen Naylor

[Imogen Naylor]

A beautiful white living space this morning …

Things to love … all the textures that work together so effortlessly, a white floor softened with the natural rug, the contrast of smooth and rough (that texture thing again!), the white timber shutters that filter the light, and the ‘nature’ touches throughout the room.

Although I don’t see this as a cat/dog friendly room, it certainly is a lovely space to visit …

Posted in house design, house stuff, the white stuff | Leave a comment

project 365, week 32 …

project 365, week 32, page 1

project 365, week 32, page 2[Credits: Hello There Template (altered), by Paislee Press. Font: Courier New.]

Journaling – finished, a mini ipad cover | good morning from charli | new work tote | breakfast with the man | loving black and white binding | at the movies, guardians of the galaxy | park run at minnippi … [wk 31, aug 3 - 9, 2014]

Posted in family life, Project 365, sharing layouts | Leave a comment