Saturday 28 December 2019

Making memories at Christmas

We had two Christmases this year, a family one on the 22nd and another on Christmas Day. Our daughter, who lives in Wales, came home for the weekend before Christmas to celebrate Hubby's birthday and to have Christmas.

Hubby's birthday was a lovely day, we (Hubby, me, our sons, our daughter and her boyfriend) visited our family church to see all the trees - they were amazing.

Hubby, me, our son and daughter
In the afternoon we (not our son) went to watch Wasps v Harlequins rugby with a firework spectacular after the game. It was a little cold, bit wet but superb fun.

Hubby and I 
Hubby, me, our daughter and her boyfriend 
Sunday 22nd we had our Christmas, opening pressies, walking to the club for lunchtime drinks, Turkey dinner with all the trimmings, Cludeo crackers and party games at night. It was a super day.

It felt a little to still have Christmas Day coming,  a second time for festive fun. There was eight of us here for Christmas dinner; my mum and stepdad, Hubby's mum, his sister, her son, our son and of course us (chief cook and bottle washer).

Thank you to my stitchy friends for your beautiful gifts, it's very kind of you all.

Thank you Rob & Kathy
Thank you Niki and Sue
Thank you Deb
Thank you Barb
Thank you Julie
Thank you Julie
Thank you Brenda
Thank you Christine 

Sadly I have some news that I didn't want to share before Christmas; on 6th December I was diagnosed with  breast cancer. December was a very tough month with so many blood tests, scans and injections. I have a severe needle phobia which has made each hospital visit quite traumatic, the week before Christmas I had appointments every day. 

Yesterday I had an operation to remove 3 lymph nodes (I had to go to Coventry first for a radioactive injection, then Nuneaton hospital for the operation). The incision was below my left armpit, it's glued so no stitches to remove and isn't painful, just sore. 

The plan is to now start chemo for 8 treatments (I am struggling with the fact that the lump is still there), I have had a new short hair cut ready for when my hair starts to fall. There will be many tests and scans and needles along the way to make sure the chemo is working, after which they will remove the footprint- lumpectomy. That will all take about 6 months. I need to have a titanium clip inserted first, that's my New Year's Eve treat ! 

As always things come at once and we have Nick's mum living here alternatively with staying at his sisters. Her partner was taken ill in October and passed away (cancer) in November. She is struggling with it all, hard any age but she is 83. She cannot stay in their bungalow as it's in a small village with one shop, no bus and she no longer drives. In the future she will buy a bigger house with Nick's sister but at the moment it's hard as I cannot have her here all the time with my appointments, operations and chemo treatment. 

The memories we made over Christmas time are so special, we had some lovely times which helped me forget about hospitals and needles, if only for a few days. 

My diagnosis is why I could not post up for Jo's Advent Blog Hop, I have visited some of the blogs (I hope to visit them all) and I'm hoping to join in with Jo's Gifted Gorgeousness and Hops in 2020

Wishing you all a Happy New Year 🥂

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Christmas Tree Festival 2019

This year my tree at St Laurence's Church Christmas Tree Festival is called 'The White Tree' and has, not surprisingly, only white ornaments, lights and tinsel.

Over the past year I have been making hardanger ornaments. In total I made over 30 and my dear friend in America sent over some she made for me, thank you Dusty.

The tree is completely white but the lights are showing blue on my photos. I loved doing this tree, especially the angel. I bought one from a charity shop and recovered her with white satin and hardanger.

The White Tree

Margaret, who organises all the church events asked me about hardanger and how long each ornament had taken. I made a few at a time so it was hard to tell but I guess each took between 4 and 5 hours. I sent Margaret an email with a bit of history I found online at Nordic Needle.

Hardanger Embroidery is named after a region in southwest Norway in the county of Hordaland by the Hardanger Fjord. However, it is thought to have originated from the Middle East. From there it spread to Europe with ties to the Reticella and Venetian needle laces. Reticella is a very geometric style with foundations in squares, diagonals, triangles, and arcs. Venetian lace dates from the 16th to the 19th century characterized by deep, acute-angled points stitched in separate pieces and linked together by a narrow band with buttonholing.
How did it get to Norway?
The Norwegians of this particular region were seafarers and traders, traveling to countries where they were introduced to new skills and ideas. Over time, the individual lace forms of cut and drawn work evolved into what we know today as Hardanger. Many of the locals were farmers and they grew the raw materials necessary to produce their cloth goods. Sheep provided the wool and linen was produced from flax. Both were woven into fabric. The linen was often left in a natural color. Various organic materials were used to dye the wool. One of the natural materials used was cudbear (a lichen that only grew in Norway and Sweden) which produced a very specific shade of purple. While today’s Hardanger fabric is usually a 22-count, these brave Norwegian ladies worked on 50-count linen! The Hardanger Embroidery was traditionally done white-on-white or ivory. The women used the designs for decorating linens, ecclesiastical pieces, clothing and aprons worn with the traditional folk costumes.
Last Saturday would have been my Dad's 93rd birthday so we went to church to place some roses and to my surprise Margaret has printed my email about this form of embroidery and put it in a frame next to my tree so everyone can read about it.
The lights were not on so it now looks white
I love taking part in this annual festival, the church always looks amazing with each one of the 60 real trees decorated by local businesses, charities and friends of the church all in different themes.

I already have plans for next year's tree, I'll be posting about my idea in the new year so keep reading, it may be something you'd like to join in with too.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas 

Sunday 8 December 2019

Needlecraft Haven Christmas Exchange

This time of year brings Needlecraft Haven's Christmas Exchange. Although I organise most of the exchanges this one is hosted by Christine

It was a secret exchange so we couldn't sign our cards, although by now I recognise most people's handwriting or post code and Christine certainly knew who her parcel was from as she arranged the partners hee hee. 

Opening Day was 1st December but one parcel was delayed so we have only just had the Reveal which is why I am posting a little later. 

I received a lovely parcel from Gill; beautiful holly fabric, snow balls chocolates and mince pie fudge. My ornament is beautiful, Santa checking his list (I hope I have been good). Thank you Gill for a super Christmas Exchange parcel. 

My parcel of goodies from Gill
My Santa ornament
Thank you Gill
My parcel went to Christine. The chart I stitched for our daughter (there's a photo in my last post) came as a set of three designs and I thought this one perfect for the exchange.
Season's Greetings for Christine
I made a card using a card from last year, I have quite a few and might make some more in the spring ready for next year. Anyway as well as the card I included some Christmas fabric, two skeins of thread and some Lindt mint chocolates. It was a pleasure to put together the parcel, I love doing this exchange.
My parcel to Christine
Thank you Christine for organising another super Exchange for Needlecraft Haven, Merry Christmas everyone x x

Sunday 1 December 2019

Christmas is a coming

Happy December everyone ... it time to start the festivities, although life is a little different for us just now.

Sadly my Mother-in-law's partner passed away earlier this month, they had been together over 22 years. They lived in a small remote village and for various reasons, mainly because she no longer drives, she will be moving to be nearer us and Hubby's sister, brother and our families. At the moment she is living with us and occasionally staying with Hubby's sister, a different life for us all.

John was a big part of our family and shared many happy times with us all as you can see from these photos, he'll be very sadly missed. The huge family group was my Mother-in-law's 80th birthday in 2016, we were all together even relatives who live overseas.

Today was Opening Day for Needlecraft Haven's Christmas Exchange. I have opened my parcel, it's superb .... I'll be able to share soon once my parcel has been opened by my partner. It's a secret exchange so as yet I have no idea who my parcel is from.

Last week we (Hubby, myself and Mother-in-law) spent a few days in Cardiff visiting our daughter and boyfriend. Today is his 30th birthday so we helped him start the celebrations a week early.

30 (minus 7 days) birthday cake 
Perfect apron and of course a bottle of bubbles!
This is their first Christmas in a flat of their own, no more sharing with others, so I stitched a special ornament for them. The chart was an Etsy purchase from BirdSaysTweet, it came with three other designs which are all lovely.

Our daughter is also crafty, she has been making things for their flat for Christmas and also for his big birthday. She surprised us with a beautiful Christmas wreath - I'm not sure it will be put away after the festivities.

And so the Christmas preparation begins ... enjoy it all, it is a special time to show love and care to all.

Tuesday 19 November 2019

A quick update

I'm disappointed to have missed Gifted Gorgeousness this month, first one I have not done this year but life is just too confusing just now.

Jo, I'm sure everyone had lovely gifts to share, I'll pop by and read up when I can.

I only have my Temperature Quilt to show,  it's definitely getting colder.

Temperature Quilt - day
Temperature Quilt - night

As I mentioned life for us has changed however DH and I managed a few days to ourselves, one of which was in London to meet the Chief Winemaker at Cellier des Dauphins. You can read about our superb evening in my latest blog post on my wine, food and travel blog.

Sadly Nick's Mum's partner passed away last week. They had been together 22 years sharing a lovely life in their village bungalow. It's a very sad time for us all. 

Thursday 7 November 2019

Needlecraft Haven Halloween Exchange

Needlecraft Haven is such a lovely forum, we are small in number with some days only one or two posts but we have been friends online for many years. 

I had great fun hosting this year's Halloween Exchange. Everyone who signed up had to stitch an ornament for their partner and include a trick and a treat in their exchange parcel.

I received a super ornament from Justine, I love owls and this 'Hoot' is beautiful.

My beautiful ornament from Justine
My trick from Justine was a large bag of 'Sweet Heat' Skittles. Each of the five flavours had a kick of spice haha, I'm not a chilli liker so I gave the bag to our son as he was meeting his friends for their final Dungeon and Dragon game. This was a campaign they had been playing for over a year. The report back was all the sweets were nice but some were very hot, they had great fun trying them.

My trick from Justine
My treat was a real treat, Justine sent me a beautiful grey scarf with small metallic owls all over it. It's perfect with my new winter coat. There was also some lovely owl fabric which has happily been added to my stash.

Thank you Justine for my super Halloween Exchange parcel.

My super Halloween Exchange from Justine 
My partner was Astrid who live in the US, because we were going away I had to send my parcel early so Astrid had temptation for quite a while. I stitched this pumpkin design from Just Cross Stitch Halloween magazine and finished it with orange zigzag and backing of orange fabric with black witches on.

The pumpkin ornament I made for Astrid
Zigzag edging
I forgot to take a photo of the gifts before I had wrapped them; in the treat parcel I put some 'fizzy fang' sweets and mini Smarties characters.

I had great fun with the trick .... or tricks. In the UK we don't have Halloween cards so I sent Astrid a Christmas card which she thought was the only trick.....

..... I'm more devious than that. I bought a re-useable shopping bag with a  Trick or Treat design. No trick there I hear you think, and Astrid did not find it without a clue ..... I had stitched it closed !!

My third trick was a wound skein of 666 floss, the trick being as Astrid unwound it I had cut it into lengths hee hee

The Halloween Parcel I sent to Astrid
I had great fun putting this parcel together, it's always fun to do this Exchange.


I may not be blogging for a while, or I may be blogging and reading lots. Life has thrown us into a bit of a dark time. My husband's mum's partner (they are not married but have been together 22 years) was taken into a Hospice yesterday after being in hospital for three weeks, as he has terminal cancer. Just six weeks ago he was a fully fit 86 year old. As they live in a remote bungalow and my MIL does not drive she is living with us for a while, she is 83.

Life is quite tough, the hospital he was in is a 30 mile round trip, so many many long journeys. He moved to the Hospice yesterday which is still a long journey away. I'm struggling with the current situation as it brings back sad memories of nursing my Dad who passed away seven and a half years ago and the hospice is where my first step-dad passed away when I was just 17. My MIL has had her whole life upturned as she will need to move home as their home is not suitable for her on her own. 

So I may disappear or I maybe here to keep busy, who knows what the future holds! 

Thursday 31 October 2019

Trick or Treat Blog Hop

👻 Happy Halloween 👻

Our children are grown up so there is no-one spooky dressing up, instead I have dressed up the lounge with Halloween stitching I have received in the past; ceramic pumpkins, flowers and a cushion our daughter stitched in 2006 when she was twelve. I love having all the spooky things around and will be making 'ghoul'-lash for dinner tonight.

Beautiful flowers with a bucket of sweets
ready for any spooky visitors
My ceramic pumpkin Houses which I'll be lighting later
Our Halloween mantle
Philippa's cushion
The lovely Jo at Serendipitous Stitching has organised another super blog hop- Halloween Trick or Treat Blog Hop 2019 

To follow the hop simply visit each blog in turn to find the letters displayed and see everyone's Halloween stitched picture. The letters will reveal a Mystery Phrase which you need to leave in a comment on Jo's post.

Here's my letter for you

The next blog you need to hop to is

This is my stitching picture for you, it's the ornament I stitched for Christine for last year's Needlecraft Haven Halloween Exchange. It's opening day today for this year's exchange, I'll be opening my parcel soon and will blog about the gifts tomorrow.

Enjoy your spooky fun - Happy Halloween 🦇

Friday 18 October 2019

Gifted Gorgeousness - October

A very quick check in from France to say just before we left my order from arrived in the post.

How is it connected to GG, well my friend Deb in the US gifted me a certificate which I used to buy a new needle minder and a chart I'd been looking at for a while, thank you Deb.
My new needle minder 
Great design
In my September Gifted Gorgeousness post I offered the seasonal hearts chart by The Needle and I that I had previously won on Rosie's blog.

The winner is ........ Jocodine

Please email me so I can post it to you - congratulations.

Gifted Gorgeousness is a great idea hosted each month by the lovely Jo at Serendipitous Stitching,  if you visit her blog you'll find the links to everyone's Gifted Gorgeousness posts.

Monday 30 September 2019

September update - giveaway winner announced

I cannot believe it's the end of September and we are just three months away from 2020!

I was very slow this month stitching my Temperature Quilts as we were away but I have now completed them both to 28th. The hot weather in France is very clear on my day quilt and a warm evening on my night quilt.
Temperature Quilt - day
Temperature Quilt - night 
I have been doing some more hardanger for my church tree but not ornaments. I've found an old chart in my stash for making a hardanger angel so I decided to make one for the top of my tree.

The chart is not the easiest to follow. It's a good job hardanger is something I know how to do as I don't think it would suit a beginner. It's looking ok so far and hopefully will turn out ok.

My angel 
In my September Gifted Gorgeousness post I offered the seasonal hearts chart by The Needle and I that I had previously won on Rosie's blog.

The winner is ........ Jocodine

Please email me so I can post it to you - congratulations.

Next month is Halloween so my focus for a while is doing my exchange stitching for Needlecraft Haven's Halloween Exchange - always an exciting exchange, this time we have to also include a trick and a treat !

Sunday 15 September 2019

Gifted Gorgeousness - September

It's that time of month when we share gifts we have sent or received. It's hosted each month by the lovely Jo at Serendipitous Stitching.

At the moment I am in France enjoying a birthday (it was 10th) trip. We spent my birthday in Sancerre which is my favourite wine region. You can read about it in my latest blog post on Aimetu's- wine, food and travel.

I was stunned by the beautiful Sancerre bottle my friend Sarah decorated for me, it really is a work of art.

As we were going way I opened my gifts on Sunday - thank you Julie for the lavender cream, mats and zipper pouch, all so very useful. Thank you Christine for my Michael Powell book, there are some great designs in it. 

My gifts from Julie
My book from Christine
A while back I won one of Rosey's giveaways - Seasonal Hearts. I have finally stitched them, I did change the summer design as the original was very American.
Stitched on 11count plastic canvas using half stitches.
I'm offering the chart as a giveaway to anyone else who would like to stitch these hearts - I'm happy to post anywhere. I'm sorry I do not have a photo of the chart but it is on my GG February post.  Please let me know in the comments if you would like to be entered into this giveaway.

Finally here are two coasters I stitched for our friend's daughter and husband who have just moved into their first bought home. 

Thank you for calling by, I hope you've had a good GG September- au revoir from France!