15 August 2012

the question was asked...

It was a relatively ordinary day.... but a question was asked which needed an answer. Finally, a truthful answer was given & my precious wee family was torn apart.
As the children & I pick up the shattered remains of our dreams & hopes & try to figure out how to  navigate our way through these troubled waters, please forgive me if I don't quite manage to blog as much as I should, or if I am behind on swaps, or if I don't appear on the usual sewing groups....Its not because I have forgotten any of you...its just because, well, just because at the moment, my three children need me more... I've no idea what lies ahead, but I do know we will be OK...
Thank you

21 July 2012

A mummy of teenagers....

Being a mummy of teenagers means ....
  • When the boys come home filthy  (& deliriously happy) from a week away at SU camp my first thought is to make them something to eat.... 
Chocolate Marshmallow Delight
  • Jumping into the car & driving from one end of Ireland to the other (that's over 5 hours driving) to watch son number one in the Irish Rowing Championships
  • in the rain (of course!)
  • An endless battle (which I never win) with the laundry pile...
  • More cooking... 
    • Barbecue Pineapple Chicken with Wild Rice & Leeks
    • Squeezing in a little bit of sewing when everyone has gone out 
    Liberty Purse for my In The Frame Swap partner
    • More baking....
    Making Millionaires Shortbread

    • And, if I have any free time left.... trying to catch up on all the wonderful stitchy stuff in blogland!
    I hope you have had a great, fun-filled week. I'm so sorry I haven't been around, but I'm off now to see what you all have been getting up to...
    In the meantime, if you fancy the look of the Millionaires Shortbread, here's the recipe:

    Preheat the oven to 160' C / 325' F
    • 225g Self Raising Flour
    • 150g Butter
    • 75g Caster Sugar


    • 1 tin (397g) Condensed Milk
    • 150g Butter
    • 100g Caster Sugar
    • 15ml Golden Syrup
    • 2 drops Vanilla Essence
    • 150g Dark Chocolate

    1. Shortbread: Mix flour & sugar & rub in butter. Tip into a 30cm X 20cm swiss roll tin & press down evenly. Bake for 20-25 mins in preheated oven. Leave to cool in tin.
    2. Caramel: Melt butter, sugar & syrup in a saucepan. Add condensed milk & vanilla essence & simmer for 6 mins, stirring continuously. Pour over shortbread base & leave to cool.
    3. Topping: Melt chocolate and pour over caramel. Leave to set (if you can resist!) & cut into squares
    I hope you have a great weekend... I'll be back soon.....
    Take care

    12 July 2012

    Floral Finds

    Hello there!
    I hope you have had a great week....over here on the Causeway Coast the sun has finally come out & the flowers have been enjoying a sunny respite from the rain
    I've been trying to get a better grasp of instagram & its amazing filters, but unfortunately I think (yet again) my children are better at it than me... This is Hannah's photo from a sunset walk....
    Anyway, if you are on instagram do let me know, or if you have any tips I'd love to hear them... I'm birdsongstitches - I think...
    As you can probably tell, I've been spending a lot of time in the garden enjoying the flowers & scents (in between weeding & grass cutting) & dreaming up lots of stitchy possibilities,  so I thought I would share some flowery loveliness with you ...
    Crochet Flower Card
    Pattern available here: little birdie secrets
    Flower Hair Clips
    Tutorial available here: oh for sweetness sake 
    Aneela's Summer Flowers Embroidery
    Pattern available here: comfort stitching
    Krista's Liberty Lemonade Table Cloth
    Tutorial available here: poppyprint
    I hope this gives you a little bit of floral inspiration... if you're looking for some other interesting stitchy stuff, click here which will take you to some more pinterest finds.....
    Hope you have a lovely rest of the week & wherever you are, that the sun shines - at least a wee bit!
    Take care

    8 July 2012

    Giveaway Greetings

    Hello there & a special holiday greeting to all American readers!
    I hope you have had a wonderful week whether you were soaking up the sun...
     walking in the rain
     or building castles in the sand
    With the children out of school for the summer, I've been doing all three this week - which was lovely, but it means I am a wee bit behind on lots of other important things, like blogging & catching up on all the fun on Flickr.... 
    But back to the giveaway. Thanks again for all the lovely blogiversary wishes (especially to Judith & Amy!!) & congratulations to number 72 
    who was
    gccmom29 June 2012 23:12
    What lovely things. Congratulations on your blogiversary! Fudge is my absolute favorite candy!!

    Could you please email me your address so I can get this lot of lovelies off to you
    If you didn't win this time, don't forget I'll be having another giveaway at the end of July & it might just be your lucky month!
    While I was away, we stayed in an old converted monastery deep in the mountains of the tiny island of Majorca
    The scenery was stunningly beautiful & I tried to capture it on Instagram
    At every turn there were wee courtyards, cobbled streets, a wonderful sense of history 
    and most importantly, NO RAIN!
    I'm off now to see how Andy's getting on at the tennis, but I'll be back with a tutorial next week & some exciting news
    Hope you all have a lovely rest of your weekend & if you have any instagram tips, do please let me know
    Take care

    1 July 2012

    A Momentous June

    Hello there
    I hope your week has been going well..... Thanks so much to all of you who sent me such lovely blogiversary wishes - I really enjoyed hearing from each one, so many thanks again... If you haven't already entered for the June giveaway, please do by clicking here ....
    As I sit here in front of the fire (YES, THE FIRE IS LIT....its the end of June & its so cold we have a lovely fire crackling in the hearth....) But anyway, I was thinking how momentous this June has been for our country with the Queen's Jubilee. But for me, it was also a momentous month for family & friendships.... 
    Here are some of the highlights:
    The FAT QUARTERLY RETREAT in London was wonderful - a fantastic weekend to meet & laugh with bloggy friends ...& maybe get a wee bit of stitching done too!
    I managed (just at the very last minute) get this backpack finished with some wonderful Summersville fabrics
    The Olympic Torch arrived in town & my two lovely boys (& the rowing coach) were there to help receive it!!
    My wonderful daughter finished her school years....
    It seems that only a wee while ago she had her first day in a tiny school house in Scotland
    How the years have flown by!!
    Fathers Day included some more stitching
    McGinty became a model (at the request of a local photographer I might add!!)
    And in between all this & the exam (GCSE & A level) trials & tribulations & trying to avoid the rain, I made this sunshine tote for someone in our do. Good Stitches Circle
    So a few stitchy things done & some still to do... Here's (some of) my plans for July
    You might notice a lot of hand sewing over the next couple of weeks!! I'm wondering what you all will be up to.... Well, no matter what your plans are for July I wish you all a great month, filled with lots of stitchy creativity & birdsong!
    Take care

    27 June 2012

    Happy Blogiversary To Me!

    Hello there!
    I hope your week is going well... I'm just posting quickly to-day because there are great celebrations afoot
    To-day I'm celebrating (courtesy of my son's marshmallow/dairy milk/smore concoction) a one-year milestone... it was one year ago that I started out on my blog journey. I'm amazed, overwhelmed and so thrilled to have spent the last year with you all... especially those of you who have taken the time & effort to leave me comments, each one of which I have treasured (& I confess to have read over & over again!)
    To help me celebrate, I would love to share some of my favourite things from the length & breadth of UK with you
    First up is some gorgeous Liberty fabric.... I'll say no more :)
    Next is some lovely fine tweed from Wales - perfect for a wee pouch if you're that way inclined
    Here are some pretty buttons & beads made here in the Emerald Isle (some by me!!) - well, everyone needs to accessorize, don't they??
    This Scottish hand-dyed wool & felt is so beautiful.... I can imagine lots of wonderful things to do with it!
    Some delicious Orkney fudge from the Scottish Island to keep your sugar levels up while you're stitching (this is something I used to love as a wee girl... a long time ago!)
    And last, but certainly not least, a charm pack of Lucies wonderful Summerville fabrics
    I'd love to give this lot to you, if you are a follower... you certainly deserve it!
    So to enter (only if you are a follower please) just leave me a wee comment.. anything you fancy will be grand! I'll close the giveaway on Tuesday 3rd July & announce the winner on Wednesday 4th.... good luck!
    Thank you again to each one of you for your inspiration/encouragement/quirkiness & kindness.... I really appreciate it all!

    25 June 2012

    Pillow Talk with Svetlana

    Hello there!
    I hope you had a lovely weekend & managed to get a wee bit of stitching done. I'm back from wild, windswept & beautiful Orkney & have lots so show you later on this week (including a special celebration post tomorrow!). But for to-day I'm so thrilled to introduce you to Svetlana.... she is one of the first bloggers I officially "followed" last year when I started blogging & she makes the most amazing cushions....
     and loads more!! Over to you Svetlana...

    Hello, I'm Svetlana from s.o.t.a.k handmade. I was so excited when Karen asked me to write a guest post for her blog. I decided to do "a sort of” pillow tutorial. I'd like to show you how a simple quilt block, or two, could be turned into a beautiful pillow cover.
    This is the pillow I made using 2 cupcake blocks by Malka Dubrawsky. I found this mini quilt in Pretty in Patchwork Doll Quilts book and I totally fell in love with the whole design and pretty colors.
    And while I adore this block, I just don't have patience or time to work on the whole quilt right now. So I decided to make just two of these yummy blocks and turn them into a pillow.
    Once my blocks were done, I cut out sashing to join and frame the blocks. This part can be customized to any dimensions you need. It all depends on the size of the blocks and the pillow form you have. My blocks measured 11.5" x 12.5" each. 
    I needed to bring the size of the whole pillow top to  15.5" x 29.5" - the size of the pillow form I wanted to use - so I decided to add one more, contrasting border. I love how this print fabric frames all my cupcakes so nicely.
    I like to iron fusible fleece to the wrong side of the pillow top which means no basting and being ready for quilting in no time at all. It works wonderfully every time. 
    I decided to hand quilt the pillow top, outlining all my cupcakes using 3 strand whitish embroidery thread. I really, really love the extra special touch that hand quilting adds to this pillow.
    Once the pillow top was quilted, it was time to make a backing. I usually don't quilt my pillow backs (no rules here, just my preference). I used two coordinating Denyse Schmidt fabrics and joined them with the zipper.
    I placed the pillow top and back on top of each other, wrong sides together, pinned them in place, and basted all the way around. Then all that was left to do was attach the binding - the same way as I would have for the quilt.
    So, there you have it. A pretty pillow using just 2 quilt blocks. How fun is that?
    I hope you give it a try and turn some fun quilt blocks into lovely pillow covers.

    Happy blogiversary, Karen! You rock, my friend!

    Thanks so much Svetlana! If you get a moment, do drop by her blog - her stuff is fantastic & amazingly she has only been stitching for about 18months!!!

    Lots of fab things to post tomorrow, so hopefully I'll see you then. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your day wherever you are & whatever you do :)