Girlfriends

Today is National Girlfriends Day and what a fantastic thing to celebrate. I personally think that friendship among women is something very special.

There are those friends who are only in your life for a short period. Perhaps it is during the school years or perhaps during various stages of one’s working life. They keep us going. When those friendships come to a natural conclusion that is fine. Life intervenes and to be honest I think it would be impossible to keep every friendship going.

There are the friends one meets during difficult times. They support you and then as those difficult times ease you both move on with your lives and again that is ok.

There are those friends which one meets through perhaps pastimes, hobbies, shared interest. Perhaps you only meet them during those shared interests, but they are an integral part of the enjoyment of those interests.

Perhaps you have some friends who are years or decades younger and their perspective on life adds to your knowledge as we are always learning.

I was listening to someone recently who looked on her local librarian as her friend as every two week she knows that there is going to be a new book waiting for her which will stimulate her, intrigue her or even get her riled. These books have been chosen by someone who cares and that is the definition of friendship for her.

Then again there are those friends who you may be privileged enough to have had them for twenty years or more. They have become part of the fabric of your life.  That is such a special blessing.

I have been blessed with so many gifts of friendship that I am humbled. Today I am remembering with great fondness but also with a heavy heart some friends who have died. I still go to the phone to ring them or I am just about to send them a text, or message them and even had a card made for one friend when I realise “No “they are no longer here. However, their legacy of friendship remains within my heart.

I have been privileged to have received the gift of friendship from so many.

Happy Girlfriend Day.

 

 

Friendship

Friendship is everything in life, 
Life without friendship is like life without air…
Life without friendship is like eats without food
And
Life without friendship is like body without soul…

(excerpt from Friendship by Qistina Zani)

Imperfections

 

 

The beauty of handmade lies in the imperfections”

What a great thought.. by keeping this thought in mind it immediately removes the pressure of “having to make something perfect”.

A few months ago, I purchased a bundle of fat quarters.  I wouldn’t normally but I decided that the colours would make a lovely quilt.

Before I go any further let me explain what a fat quarter is.  Fat quarters are pre-cut pieces of cotton, which are taken from a yard of fabric which has been cut in two length ways and each piece cut again width ways.  Each fat quarter measures approximately 46cm by 56cm or 18 by 22 inches.

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I decided I would make a quilt top by sewing eight fat quarters together and then I cut those fat quarters into strips.  Any blogs or books which I have read on quilting constantly talk of measuring three times and cutting once.  So, this time I followed that rule!!

The first cuts went great and I joined up those strips and everything looked pretty good.  I returned to the quilt top a few days later and cut those strips up to form narrower strips and again joined them up.

Now I haven’t a clue what I did but I ended up with a quilt top that did not have one matching square, but I did have a few marching rectangles.  How I got rectangles I have absolutely no idea.  It certainly was not what I had intended.

I was very disappointed as I thought I had been very careful with the cutting.  What I have now is a unique lob sided quilt top.  It is very quirky.  Now could I gift to any one?  I honestly don’t think so.

I don’t mind that corners don’t match.  What am I saying? There is absolutely nothing which matches never mind the corners.  So, I have decided that this will make a great reading quilt.    1531125420651

A reading quilt is one of those throws which one needs during winter, when one becomes engrossed in a book and one needs to be cosy.  If the skies are grey outside this quilt will bring a bit of colour indoors and enhance the reading experience even more.

Saying all that I must admit I love my wonky, lob sided quilt top and need to quilt and bind it in readiness for those hours of reading during the winter.So for me the quote ” the beauty of handmade lies in the imperfections” is very apt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Early Morning Dance

Standing on the back step, underneath an umbrella, mug in hand watching the rain.  It was a beautiful scene.  The wooden garden furniture had taken on a different hue.  In the rain the wooden seat seemed to glow as it was washed by the rain.

The rain drops were dancing on the glass table, making a dance as they tapped their way along to the edge.   A bucket had been placed strategically to catch the encore of the dance.

Looking up at the seomra or man shed a spider’s web glistened in the early morning light.  The gossamer web was bejewelled with drops of rain.  There was magic all around as this suburban garden was dressed by the rain.

The air smelt so differently.  It was so fresh and clear.  It was as if the rain has rejuvenated everything.  There was a richness abounding this oasis.

It reminded me of a blog post I read recently written by Honey Barapatre which talked of being rich https://inspireart.in/2018/07/15/being-rich/.

I realised that this morning I was so rich with the sights, sounds and smells brought by this shower of rain.  I have always loved the rain but perhaps because of the long hot dry summer which Ireland has been experiencing this shower of rain was even more special.

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Encouragement

A few years ago, I was introduced to machine quilting.  Let me say from the outset it wasn’t something I would have chosen for myself and I will always be indebted to my husband for purchasing the machine for me.

Quilting will always go hand in hand with the concept of encouragement. In fact, it is not the concept but the reality of encouragement.  Firstly, my husband, getting the proper advice for the sewing machine; secondly the encouragement from two friends to book quilting rather than sewing classes; and finally finding the right location for those classes.

Four, two-hour classes and I had a lap quilt, having learnt how to cut with a rotary cutter, to thread, sew, change bobbins and importantly not to be afraid to make mistakes.  Since then the most important tool I have is a Jemima.  Jemima is a ripper so as this ripper has a name it just shows how often I use it!!!

I have begun to understand how friends have been so absorbed in occupations and hobbies fabric related.  It is so tactile.  From choosing the fabric, treads batting to the actual making of the quilt top each step is tactile.

However, I have digressed here from writing about quilting and encouragement.  Every step along the way I have been encouraged. Roisin telling me get a piece of old fabric and sew.  “Put the foot to the pedal and sew”.

Then there was the utter magic of those four quilting classes with three ladies whom I am telling you have the patience of Job.  Honestly it amazes me when looking back how they survived me and kept their cool.

So, who were these angels?  They inhabit Appletree Crafts in Newtownmountkennedy in County Wicklow.  Their names? Marie, Sinead and Trina.  Now neither their halos nor wings are visible but believe me they are quilting angels who constantly encourage.  Their shop is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of fabric.  So, if you are visiting the garden of Ireland drop in, even if quilting is not your thing. Or, on the web http://www.appletreecrafts.ie

I have continued to try new adventures in this my 60th year.  I am writing this overlooking the Aughrim river on a sos beag (small break) from a Quilting Retreat.  Yes, I am attending my first Quilting Retreat.  It is an absolute blast.  A retreat led by Trina, Sinead and Marie from Appletree Crafts and attended by ladies who have offered nothing but support to each other .  The tips and generosity of spirit has been so special and uplifting.

Where Have I heard that Line?

Do you ever find that a poem, piece of writing, a song lyric will resonate with you one day and on another day will have no impact?  A word, a phrase, a memory will trigger a need to read the entire poem, read the entire passage or listen to that song.

 

“Sing and the hills will answer:

Sigh it is lost on the air;”

 

These lines have been reverberating in my mind for the last few days until last night when I decided to start a search to find the poem from which they come.  This time I didn’t want to use a google search.  I don’t know why but it seemed important to browse through poetry books and books of “sayings and quotes” to find the source.

It was an inexplicably comforting thing to do.  It didn’t feel as if I was the only one wide awake and on a search at 2.43am when I began my search.  It felt just right.  There were many stops along this search when I was reacquainted with long forgotten poems.

I found “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann again.  This was a popular prose poem when I was in secondary school in the 1970’s do you remember the opening lines? “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”

The sun had risen and with a mug of coffee sitting on the back-door step I started browsing another book of poetry.  This book was given to me to celebrate my recent 60th birthday by a friend who knows how I love to hop in and out of poetry books.  She gave me two books.  “A Poem for Every Day of the Year” edited by Allie Esiri and its sister book “A Poem for Every night of the Year”.  Anne chose well and through her I have become reacquainted with some old forgotten poetry but also, I have been introduced to new poems and poets.

It was in one of these books that I found it.  I found from where those few lines came from.  I had found“Solitude” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

 

Solitude

Laugh and the world laughs with you:

Weep, and you weep alone;

For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,

But has trouble enough of its own.

Sing, and the hills will answer;

Sigh, it is lost on the air;

The echoes bound to a joyful sound,

But shrink from voicing care.

A Forgotten Memory

 

I have been experimenting with dairy free cake recipes.  Some have been successful and some not so.

My biggest problem is that I do not take note of ingredients I use, telling myself I will remember the next time.  Yes, you may laugh.  As I have a head like a sieve it is most unlikely I would remember a recipe accurately.

During the night when sleep once more eluded me I decided to read through some old recipes which I have collected over the years.  Some go back to the 1970’s some even further back.

Would you believe there in front of me, decorated with many spillages was a recipe for Sultana Loaf which uses neither dairy nor eggs.

It was given to me by my boss in my first “office ” job. She had had major surgery. Subsequently she had to adhere to a very strict non dairy diet. This was in 1975 when the alternatives to dairy was very limited. I remember her saying that her sister would send her the oil as she could not purchase it in Ireland.

I had totally forgotten about that job and the people who worked there.

 

Sultana Loaf

225g/8oz Self Raising Flour

75g/3oz Castor Sugar

125ml/4fluid ounces Coconut Milk

4 tablespoons of Orange Juice

100g/4oz Sultanas

50g/2oz desiccated Coconut

150ml/5fluid ounces Olive Oil or whatever oil you prefer to use

 

Set oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4

Grease and line a 900g/2lb Loaf Tin

 

Mix sugar and flour together in a mixing bowl.

Beat in milk, followed by orange juice until combined.

Beat in oil.

Fold in sultanas and coconut.  Mixture should fall off a wooden spoon easily however if the mixture is too moist add in more coconut.

Pour into loaf tin.

Bake for 45 minutes in oven until loaf is golden in colour.

Leave to cool in tin then turn out onto cooling rack. 

Enjoy warm or cold

 

Enjoy warm or cold.

Keeping Warm

 

Tea is a universal beverage which warms the body, heart and mind.  It is strange how in the winter a cup of tea can warm a person and during a hot day it seems to cool a person.

 

Then there are the different methods of making tea.  The strength of the tea is very personal.  The variety of tea perhaps depends on the time of day.  Now one can have an infusions of fruit teas. In Ireland, some people have their preferred brand of tea.

Tea is such a personal taste. In the morning my preferred tea is an Irish Breakfast Tea. It has a strong definite taste and I have a preferred brand – “Lyons Breakfast Tea”. Much of the tea would be grown in plantations in Kenya and Indonesia for this particular brand.

There are many ways, to make tea but it all starts with boiling hot water.  It is so essential that the water is boiled and the tea infused immediately to allow the flavour to develop.

But how to keep the tea warm for that second or third cup?  At home I have a tea cosy which surrounds the teapot leaving the handle and spout free for pouring.  It was one of my earliest quilting projects long before tea became part of my every day.

My sister prefers a tea cosy which covers the entire pot and is lifted off to pour the tea.   A friend prefers a knitted tea cosy as she firmly believes that it is the only way of keeping the tea at the correct temperature.

Now my friend Christl, who lives in Wurzburg,  Franconia in Germany uses a totally different method.  Once the tea has been made in the tea kettle, it is placed on a trivet containing a tea light.  This keeps the tea at the perfect temperature.  It is an amazing utensil and so very practical.

It is called “Stovchen” in German.

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Perhaps this will be my new method for keeping tea at just the correct temperature? Thank you Christl.