Wednesday 27 November 2013

Winter projects

This is the weather for home-made soup, although this turned into more of a stew by the time I added the pasta spirals, which sucked up all the soup-juice.  A real rib-sticker and just what you need to warm from the inside out.  This one was made with some beef mince, 2 onions, a tin of chopped tomatoes and some tomato puree, and a pint of beef Oxo stock, plus some of a big portion of Ratatouille I had made back in the summer, and pasta.  Scrummy.

This morning is VERY much warmer, I am glad to say.  Of course, that also means we have grey skies, but it's dry, and I can cope with that.  Frosty mornings are nice to look at, but as I get older, warm, grey and dry suit me better!

I have put today aside to write the annual Christmas letter, and get the overseas cards written ready to post tomorrow.  I managed to get some Christmas shopping done yesterday, so have broken the back of it.  It was a welcome break in the marathon car-sitting-whilst-OH-is-at-the-auction.  We had gone in first thing to view it, and he had noted a couple of things of interest.  Of course, they were a couple of hundred lots apart, which is Sod's Law.  There was no point in going home (and a waste of fuel), so we decided to wait it out.

I have to say, viewing an auction which is full of really lovely antique furniture from a Big House, always feels like a privilege.  I love to see Elizabethan four poster beds, and old oak Court Cupboards, and Tridarns, and Wainscott Chairs, and little side-tables hundreds of years old and polished like glass.  I run my hands over them, sensing their history, and what a tale some of this stuff could tell.  The love stories, the heartbreak, the son who made good, the Black Sheep who brought the estate to ruination, the births, the deaths.  At one auction I went to (more down-market than this), under the table was a box of bed-linen, and the detritis of a linen cupboard.  Whoever it had belonged to had not resolved herself to death being final, for she was very much present and absolutely FURIOUS that her stuff had ended up there.  I made a mental note NOT to bid on that box.  Some of you are probably thinking I am a fruit-loop, but there are certain things I pick up on - atmospheres, emotions particularly, associated with places and - "things" - belongings that is, and it is not just a figment of my imagination. Most of you could pick up the atmosphere in a room where there has just been a furious argument, even more so if the people who had argued were still in that room.  Well, my ability is like that, only stronger.  I call it being empathic.

Anyway, I whiled away my time in the car by sewing the Christmas wall-hanging.  Here is a reminder of it:

This is it, straight from the shop.

I did the first panel on Monday evening.  Then the other two yesterday afternoon.  Several hours of quilting there.

As you can see, I made good progress.

I am quite meticulous, quilting round bits other people
would probably leave, but I enjoy doing it, and let's
face it, I had nothing else to do.

Finally it got a bit chilly, and the light was fading, so
I had a walk around The Range to warm up before
my husband finally appeared, with the two items he
had been successful in buying.

On Monday we went down to Swansea to meet
up with our middle daughter, G, who took us out
to lunch, bless her.

I finally got her inside a fabric shop, and she chose
and bought the material for an old rocking chair my
husband had rescued from a car  boot sale for the
princely sum of £1.  I've painted the woodwork and
just had to wait for G to decide on the fabric.  A job
for a dreary January day I think.

We also bought material for cushions, and for reupholstering the drop-in seats on 6 Victorian Balloon Back dining chairs which have been languishing about the house for several years now (and bought when the market was still buoyant, so we have a goodly amount tied up in them).  Another January job.

In the meantime, I am waiting for the Patchwork shop to take possession of the white fabrics I need so that I can carry on with the quilt making.  We drove along to the Mumbles on Monday, in the hope of getting the white fabrics from the Patchwork shop there, but it was not open.  Sigh.  They will definitely NOT be finished in time, but I hope to have both tops completely pieced.  As long as life doesn't get in the way that is, which it has a habit of doing.

We did get some sea air, hhowever, and a walk along by the waterfront, which I have to say, is not very inspiring once the tide is dropping.  No sand to speak of, but lots of mud, and dirty rocks and a few sewage outlets . . .

The plumes of smoke from the steelworks at Port Talbot are across on the far side of Swansea Bay.

Finally, my daytime reading is Mary Webb's Seven for a Secret, which has been on my bookshelf for several years now, along with several other of Mary Webb's books.  My friend Ann suggested I read it, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  She had such a beautiful style of writing, wonderful expressions, and a real empathy with the backward-looking people of Shropshire in the early 1900s.  Before the days of radio, everyone was still tied to the beliefs of the generations that had gone before them.  What fascinating social history and folklore has been lost . . .


  1. Your soup looks mouth watering and your quilting is wonderful! I have always adored balloon back chairs, so I look forward to seeing your makeover.
    I can empathise with you totally about "vibes". For 15 years I worked as a hypnotherapist and always "cleared" the room of the clients negative and/or powerful emotions, as soon as they had left.

  2. Oh yes .. long cold days at the Auctions. ..
    Just love the patchwork ... I too take my needlework with me in the van ..

    Vicky x

  3. A lovely post--almost as good as I imagine a personal visit might be. Long waits such as you describe require some diversion [books or stitching] a bit of nourishment and hopefully an accessible lady's room!
    Gina made a lovely pot of chicken soup to sustain us in our on-going struggle with 'The Coughing' ailment. Sick or well, I could be endlessly happy with meals of homemade soup and some form of homemade bread!
    I must say your walk along the shore looked a bit bleak and shivery!

  4. I love home made soup-I might give that recipe a go, but use pots instead of pasta as hubby doesn't like it. Your quilt is looking fabulous and a great way to spend spare time. I would love to go to an auction, maybe near Exeter would be a good trip out. Port Talbot is no looker but the plume caught in the sunshine looks good.

  5. I absolutely love that photo with the plumes of smoke and your soup AND the patchwork. I actually have my sewing machine out today to help OB make his Aztec loincloth tonight for a project. He calls it his Aztec pants.

  6. Your home made soup looks absolutely delicious and I love your quilting.

    By coincidence I've recently bought a couple of Mary Webb books as someone recommended her writings to me. I was really sad to learn recently that Spring Cottage at Lyth Hill which she and her husband built is under threat of demolition :(

  7. So glad you are enjoying the Mary Webb novel BB. Her writing makes you feel you are THERE. Wonderful!

  8. Yes a lovely post and a ramble through your life, glad you have got your Xmas writing under way my thoughts are far away from the festival, but those hanging quilts were an inspiration. X

  9. Such wonderful quilting :D I hope you get the quilts done in time.x

  10. ps, I'm going to make that soup too as it looks so delicious :D

  11. Thank you for all your comments. Yarrow - enjoy the soup. It's' a good way of using up tired veg from the salad box in the fridge.

    RR & DW - I love her writing, and her characterization too and the preserving of the language as it was spoken pre-radio. RR - I really hope her cottage ISN''T demolished. I've just read the BBC report on it, and a pox on those people who want to put a huge house in its place. They could have bought a rubbishy house somewhere else, rather one with a literary history.

    thelma - today is C-day for getting all the cards written up and overseas ones posted.

    Em - I hope that the Aztec pants were a success . . .

    Seagull Suzie - soup making is a case of using what you have/like really, so no set recipe for this. It's just the thing or a cold winter's day, whatever's in it!

    MM - the Mumbles shore isn't the prettiest one, but around the corner the Gower proper starts, with lovely sandy beaches.

    Vicky - I usually have something to sew with me. Back in the summer I had my stitch-ripper, as I was buying up 100% cotton garments to unpick and turn into quilt material.

    Kath - interesting to read your comment about clearing the room after hypnotherapy sessions. There are some atmospheres which seem to linger in the very fabric of a building, or a former possession.