Love Beads for a wedding.

I could see how that title could be misconstrued! (No it’s not of the Thai sort.)

wpid-20150205_154706.jpg

After the weeks of hen’s do’s, planning and panic, my friend’s wedding day came and it was beautiful. As I had said in last posts I had been making Sarah Fielke’s Love Beads quilt from the book “Hand Quilted with Love”. It’s the second quilt I have made from the book and I found It was quite easy to follow. I was orginally  thinking I should have gone for something a bit more complex (like say wedding rings) but with that and a cake to make I didn’t want to over exert myself, I know what I’m like. (and after looking at the complexity of the wedding rings block I just didn’t have the time)

P1010058

 I had been buying fabric from here there and everywhere for this. I used Amy Butler for all of  the center hexagons, plain Kona’s and Dashwood’s Flurry  for the little triangles and a mixture of Bark and Branch  (Eloise Renouf Coud 9 Fabrics), Foliage Grid Botanics (Carolyn Friedlander Robert Kaufman) and Priory Square (Katy Jones Art Gallery fabric).

I forgot to buy the Priory Square fabric at the start. I only realised after I started laying it all out. So I thought I will sew it in two parts and then when that fabric arrives in the post I can just insert it in. That was a bad move. It was tricky to sew the two halves together.

wpid-img_20150104_093952.jpg           wpid-img_20150104_103018.jpg

The cutting was easy and straight forward. They looked so pretty together but once I put it all together I really wasn’t sure if I had made the right fabric choices. But as with most things I should just trust my instincts, once it was all together it looked fine.

P1010060

Also in my failing’s in all things that require thought or purchasing or measuring; I under bought the bias binding by 60cm. The day before the wedding was when I realised. My local shops didn’t have the same fabric..I had to make my own with the green Dashwood flurry (I didn’t take a photo of this, I’m a donut).

…packing it up was a challenge, We couldn’t find a big enough box on the Friday afternoon..

wpid-20150220_224036.jpg

Did someone say cake?

I’ll just share the Wedding Cake photo too, It was my first foray into fondant icing (I am normally a buttercream person) and it didn’t turn out too bad really. I was too sacred to use Royal Icing in case I stuffed it up.

P1010062

This monster was 7  layers of Vanilla sponge (using Hummingbird Cupcake recipe).  In some crazed Thursday morning inspiration I thought I’d make it orange Ombre on the inside. The problem with doing this is that it’s difficult to see the end product. It was a bit wonky too, I’m hoping only I noticed that.

P1010061

Ii turns out I was way too conservative with my colours and was so disappointed when I was sent a photo ( it wasn’t cut up and served on the night) and seen that it didn’t really work. I was really upset to be honest…(no tears though) and I did get two layers mixed up, oops…donut.

wpid-20150225_185350.jpg

 

I’ll know for next time..but it did taste bloody nice if I do say so myself, and isn’t that the point?

Now that’s done, unfinished skirts and quilts demand my attention….

I almost forgot!

As my little blog is still very small, I’m linking up with the wonderful Lilys Quilt blog. Hello if your visitng for the first time!

<div align=”center”>
<a href=”http://lilysquilts.blogspot.co.uk&#8221; title=”Small Blog Meet”><img src=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-6iMIYmlPpeU/U9tBqP6cV5I/AAAAAAAAKtU/4IIKnJE0IKo/s1600/Untitled%2BDrawing.png&#8221; alt=”Small Blog Meet” style=”border:none;” /></a></div>

(That above link is acting weird, I’ll re check it in a bit).

More “Toast” anyone?

wpid-20150213_213827.jpg

It was a cold night on the 13th of February in London my friends, and even colder inside the Forum venue in Camden, London. Colder than the Arctic circle. It was so cold that the security kept their thick outside jackets on.

We were here to see Matt Berry perform a rare music set, and not a stand up comedy set. Despite him being a comedic actor and not a stand up comedian, people still think’s this is what he would be doing on a cold night,  in a venue to tight to put the heating on. Perhaps they (the forum) thought it was bad luck being Friday the 13th.

With 4 albums under his belt, these albums are a magical mixs of folk, prog and rock, Aside from his last album “Music for Insomniacs” which was as the title suggest, is a 2 track album which begins in the sublime and transcends into the mad, I wouldn’t try to listen to it while trying to fall asleep.

I digress I am a big fan of his second album “Witchazel” I always describe it as the soundtrack that should be on the film the Wicker Man (original not remake). There are beautiful songs on this, and no denying in the past I’ve had a little Matt Berry crush.

I did have until he came on stage and opened his mouth.

One of his fellow band members is heavily pregnant. Straight off the bat he anounces “This show is for the “twins”” She may have been pregnant with twins but they were not the twins he was referring too. If once wasn’t enough he said it again.

Well that burst the little romantic image I had of him. Who still speaks like that?? I have many male friends and worked in many a bawdy work place, so I wouldn’t say I’m of a sensitive nature. Is the 90’s? It was just rude. I’m starting to think how much of Steven Toast is Matt Berry.

But he writes beautiful songs and he did redeem himself with a cover of Todd Rundgren  “I saw the light” he should record it, it was fantastic. The set list was exactly what I would have requested so no complaints there.

Despite the cold and the complains of his aches he and his band were in good form musically, at some stages breaking into a prog rock feast which must have been what it was like siting through Rick Wakeman concerts. For the encore  David Arnold was brought on to play a cover of the Bond theme. That was pretty , pretty good.

It was all over in 90 minutes and I was left satisfied.

The Set list for those interested

Gather Up

Medicine

Devil Inside Me

A Song for Rosie

October Sun

The Signs

Take My Hand

Solstice

So Low

Love is a Fool (Again)

Woman

The Encore

The Pheasant

James Bond Theme

(I didn’t take notes at the show, this list comes from http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/matt-berry/2015/the-forum-london-england )

If your interested in listening to his stuff I suggest giving Witchazel a whirl.

 

 

A month of musical rich spoils.

I have been busy, very busy. I know I have neglected my lovely little blog. But hopefully as of next week everything will settle down and I can write more often. For now I have written up all the new music I’ve been listening to.

Haven’t we been spoilt in January! Lots of music out.

Pond – Man It Feels Like Space Again

I know now what will be at the top of the end of 2015 list for me already. I love this. I LOVE this. Bit’s of it remind me of 90’s Australian garage bands where in other places more like the best parts of the Flaming Lips.There has been a lot of comparisons to MGMT for this, but I think they are supremely better. You can probably hear this most in the track Heroic Shaft, but it’s bigger more thought-out , beyond the beyond. The best tracks “Holding out for your love “& “Waiting for Grace”. It’s a journey through time and space. (I’m aware I’ve quoted the Mighty Boosh, but sometimes these things are apt).

I’ve gone on  and on about Pond before so I’m not going to break it down. Just listen to it.

Felicity Groom- Hungry Sky

I’ve been listening to this for at least two months now almost non stop, so much so I had to check if I had already put something up about it. To be fair this was released last year.

This is Groom’s second album and I’ve been having trouble comparing it to anything else I have heard. I’m sure there are artists out there that are in the same vein but none of them come to mind.

The single Higher,Higher, Taller, Taller has an infectious mis-step beat . I have found myself tapping it out on my thighs whilst in conversation with others (because that’s not at all  distracting) and I’ve been walking out the rhythm whilst going up and down stairs. Which probably makes me look a bit mechanical.

This is an album of changing tempos. Where Raising the Roof and Better Days has an almost ethereal feel to them, Move your Muscle has an electronic tribal beat  as it’s backbone. Where Talons could have been of an 80’s film soundtrack, Ultalum has a lullaby effect.

This is a beautiful album. It should be getting much more recognition.

Belle and Sebastian Girls in Peace Time Want To Dance

The first two tracks are classic Belle and Sebastian, there’s no surprises and like a security blanket, it could have been lifted from any of their other albums. But rom track 3 something happens. The party line is an indie disco fulled track, whenever it’s on I dance involuntarily. After that it’s back to familiar territory  phew.

But turn to Side 2 enter “Sylvia Plath” and it presents itself as a contender for the next UK entry for Eurovision (then maybe the UK would have a chance of winning…heaven forbid). It’s all catchy bridges and disco euro pop, what’s going on? This continues on “Everlasting Muse” which sounds reminiscent of a Russia drinking song. The album continues in these two polarised themes of classic such as the beautiful “Have a little faith” and the  more upbeat style of “Perfect Couples”.

It’s no surprise that the first thing that came to mind is the Eurovision connection, this was intentional as in this interview with Rolling Stone magazine Stuart Murdoch explains that ‘I want to do an album that one song feels like it could be the Cyprus entry for 1974,’

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/jan/21/belle-and-sebastian-eurovision-song-contest

It may take a couple of listen to get your head around the eclectically of this album,  it’s a welcomed change for their 9th album.

Father John  -Misty I Love You, Honeybear

On first hearing Father John Misty on the surface I gathered was a wonderfully romantic album songs from a newly wed man about love and the future, which is refreshing. But on closer listen to the lyrics although still romantic the songs have a more sinister and filthy tone to them for example “I wanna take you in the kitchen, lift up your wedding dress someone was probably murdered in”  the music is so beautiful that he puts you in a beautiful place.

One time member of the Fleet Foxes, Misty sounds more like a modern-day Graham Parson and a bit of Dennis Wilson thrown in for good measure. It has a classic sound that’s less honky-tonk and much more balladeer. Most of this album is a celebration of his recent nuptials. Or in the “Ideal Husband “is an angry admittance to all of his flaws laid out bare for his bride to be to see.

My god it is such a beautifully amazing album. Even with the lyrics of Chateau Lobby #4 ,it is still a love song and something I would still play on my wedding day because it is so goddamn sweet at the heart of it.(just make sure Great Grandma isn’t paying close attention)

Natalie Prass- Natalie Prass

This album sounds like something I have heard before somewhere, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Something that’s a little Karen Carpenter, a little Emmylou Harris and something that you think is from a Disney soundtrack but you couldn’t find out online which one.

In saying that this is not an album of re-hash, this is an album for 2015 with a classic feel. Of a time when songs were well constructed, strings were used everywhere and the drum machine hadn’t been invented yet. It is such a pleasant listen, when was the last time you could have said that about an album?

She has toured with Matthew E White and you can tell how much of his influence is here. Not to give away any credit that Prass deserves,this is a beautiful album with lush strings and horn sections and a small delicate voice to accompany all the big sounds.

When I first heard ‘Is it you’ I could have sworn heard it in a million Disney princess soundtracks, I even looked online to see who the writer been credited to, I was so sure it was from Sleeping Beauty or something. But no, it is all Prass and it’s wonderful. The 4-year-old loves it, and requests it constantly. People don’t really write songs like this anymore unless it’s for a musical which is a shame.

Finally, The Rediscovery….

Janet Jackson – Control

566b7a191df840ea55a2c9cf3bcd49676d9a8bd5

Not just Control, all of her albums, I’ve had a bit of a renasience , I can’t remember the last time I listened to her intentionally, but I’m guessing 1990.

“This is a story about control, my control”

It must be difficult being a Jackson  especially as when this was released in 1986 her brother had released one of the biggest selling albums of all time with Thriller. Control is a great album from a strong-willed woman with an attitude and a funky sound to match.

There are so many hits off this Nasty, Control,What Have You Done For Me Lately,Let’s wait awhile,  When I think of You and Pleasure Principal. Hell I’ve just reeled off most of the album.

It’s a breakthrough album, and in 41 minutes it roars here I am don’t think of messing with me.

“It’s all about control and I have lots of it”

Phew, there’s a months worth! I haven’t even had a chance to write about going to see Matt Berry! Next entry.

Little by Little

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus the last two weeks, I’ve been doing a world of bit’s but not a load to write about. Most of my time has been filled up with trying to arrange a Hen’s do (past post) and trialing the wedding cake I’m baking for the event. It is taking up so much more time than I thought it would. Just trying to sort out the pop playlist is making me feel quite ill and cringe worthy…yes yes I’m a bit of a music snob and the list is reminding me of when I used to work in a shopping centre record store in the 90’s and had to listen to this kind of stuff ad infinitum. (just remember it’s not for me!).

So in light of all that, I’ll give you a round-up of the bits I’ve been doing.

The hen’s glitter top…

wpid-20150205_154535.jpg

I saw this tutorial on A Beautiful Mess website http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2014/03/sequin-phrase-sweatshirt-diy.html    and said well instead of buying one of these tops for the Hen this will be easy to make. “WRONG!”

I sprayed temporary glue on it (5×5) and then just laid the sequins  inside the template (wish I had taken  a picture of that). Once I removed the template it looked great. Now I needed to sew every 4th sequin. Cracker what a nightmare, I am so bad at hand stitching this was hell. Sequins weren’t holding, I had wished I used the glue gun or just bought a small bottle of glue (like the instructions say, tight arse strikes again).

In the end I had to undo the whole surname as the stitching looked crap and start with the only template I had left which was smaller.

You know when you have an idea in your head that is so stupid and crazy that it may just work. I am so lazy and hate hand stitching and it will take me hours ,what about using the sewing machine?

wpid-20150206_121514.jpg

Long and short of it was that it kinda worked but it was fiddly, sequins were flying off everywhere it took about two bloody hours, and for some weird reason the back-stitch didn’t want to work so I still had a bit of hand stitching to do. There are extra holes and I probably should have used a yellow thread instead of orange, but it was raining outside and I was carrying massive parcel of wadding so I couldn’t be bothered going to the shops.

Important lesson don’t sew the sleeve to the middle of the top…

wpid-20150205_113222.jpg

It’s only for the evening it will be fine. I’m sure I’ll be picking up sequins for most of the night.

The Quilt

I have been working on Sarah Fielke’s Love Beads quilt as the wedding gift, which has been surprisingly easier to put together than I thought. Thinking I’d be clever while I was waiting for some fabric to arrive ,I would sew this in two halves…Im suffering for that now. Me and my bright ideas.

wpid-20150205_154706.jpg wpid-20150205_154627.jpg

More on that once it’s completed and given away.

The Fabric

I pre-ordered some Cotton and steel in December and it finally made its way to me…how exciting!

wpid-img_20150128_123000.jpg

There’s a lot of music to write about so I’ll do a separate post for that shortly. For now I’ll leave you with these wise words. If you put deep heat on your neck and then touch your face it will give you an almighty burn and make your face bright red. This is not helpful when you’re at work in public view.

 

 

 

What I did on my holiday, the sequel.

Greetings.

In the last blog I wrote what the Aussie contingency were gifted. Now here we are with the UK recipients…

The crochet needle case...

IMG_0827

This was by far and away the nicest tutorial I had seen for a needle case.

The tutorial was from one of my favorite blogs very berry handmade you can find the link here

http://veryberryhandmade.co.uk/2013/02/05/mini-art-wrap-tutorial/

It was more simple to make than I though as I had set aside a lot more time.The thicker upholstery fabric worked well but I did iron in some stabilizer anyway. Being thrifty I Frankensteined together a whole heap of Interfacing for the wadding but it made it pretty bulky. This is what happens when you get a bit lazy and don’t follow tutorial advice.

If I were to make this again I would make the pockets fit the needles more snugly and make them an exact measure. As soon as you turn it 90 degrees the needles start to fall out.

IMG_0828

But the thing I loved most, so much so I almost kept it…

IMG_0823

I had spent a lot of time looking around pintrest for table runner inspiration and not really finding “the one” . From some random recess of my brain I thought about turning Anna- Maria Horner’s feathers quilt  into a table runner instead and only doing a few blocks! Genius!

I have wanted to make this for a lonnng time, in it’s quilt form. The tutorial can be  found on Anna Maria Horner’s website.

http://www.annamariahorner.com/Feather.Bed.Quilt.pdf

While trying to find the right fabric for the project (I love doing that!) I tried to look for as many leaf themed fabric I could find in my stash (I know it’s supposed to be feathers) which surprisingly was quite a few.

This was a brilliant stash buster project, the only fabric I needed to buy was the white backing. (Even the wadding on the inside was excess from another quilt).

IMG_20141219_140020

The construction is quite straight forward, it’s just sewing lines of random size fabric together and then cutting on an angle. As usual I messed up on the seams in parts, but they were easily repaired. It turned out better than I thought it would, even if the feathers were uneven at the ends. I like to think of it as charming.

IMG_0825

IMG_0826

I would like to make a bigger version on this whenever it is I have the time.

Happy Australia Day to everyone for this coming Sunday! I’m praying my oven is fixed by then to make some Lamington’s and crossing my fingers for no rain at my outdoor winter BBQ.

Hens night to end all hens nights (no not really)

I have for the first time been bestowed with the honor (or horror if you like) of being asked to be a maid of honor. As well as other such duties this also includes arranging a Hens night. Generally as a rule in my 20’s I avoided all such things like you would a contagious disease. But as I have gotten older I have had to go to such events and I have also arranged one or two of them. Even when I wasn’t in the bridal party for either of them, they were more work do’s.( The make your own pizza at pizza express was great fun I highly recommend that if your stuck for an idea.)

What I’m finding difficult this time around is that the beautiful bride is the absolute opposite to me, she’s a girly girl. She loves Bridget Jones diary chick flick stuff, girls slumber parties,having face masks and so on. This is fine and all good, someone has to like all of this stuff, just not me.  But this is what has been asked of me , to arrange a chick flick slumber party without the sleepover. It shouldn’t be too hard really this kind of stuff writes itself so to speak doesn’t it?

wpid-20150116_110906_richtonehdr.jpg

The food side of the plan is a breeze for me as one of my life’s great pleasures, it’s all pizza and brownies and cute little biscuits ,I am in my element there. But party games and participation..oh now I need help. The poor bride has seen my face and said please don’t stress I will sort out games (which according to every website going is a big NO, it supposed all be a surprise).

The problem is I like to arrange fun parties, great decorations, great food and music. I normally try to go to town within the restrictions of my budget. But I’m out of my comfort zone of knowledge and I worry about everyone being entertained, the last thing I want to hear is someone go “well that was boring”. I have this whole dread that it’s going to be like parties I arranged for people as a teen. I need to provided for the masses not the quirksters.

But Instead of researching ideas on pintrest in the end I spent most of the evening on viber with my sister discussing if I had to have one (Hens, I never have had one for the record) what would I do. The original idea started off as Drinks (copious amounts with cocktails) baked good (or any sort savory and sweet) and then a screening of either Coming to America, Police Academy 4, Spaceballs or Xanadu. What would be even better was to rent out the local small cinema and do a triple feature for example Breakfast Club/ Napoleon Dynamite/ 16 Candles for example. You get the picture.

But then I thought what could be fun (and boring for most other people aside from my sister,I and probably my male friends) would be the same formula as above but change the films to 6 hours of bad music videos. This is how my sister and I spent our youth from 15 – 25 watching late night tv sometimes till 5am if it was a particularly good night watching Rage in Australia and drinking and eating (well drinking when we were over 18 of course). The sad part was that we turned into a pseudo Beavis and Butthead when we watched these.

With that in mind, what would make it better would be to make it of night (and I cringe to use this term) Glamping in my small backyard. It would be great to have a massive projector and speakers and some sort of outdoor screening set up with tents that you could roll into afterwards. (Now I’m getting ideas, stop me now…I’m not even getting married anytime soon).

 

After this brainstorm we spent the next few hours frantically searching You Tube sending each other bad videos from the 90’s most of these being Australian. Of the one’s we found most amusing is the one I’m going to share mainly because of the ridiculous dancing that is involved.

Whats with the cage, the random jumping ? Someone needs to tell the drummer his missing a drum kit.

I think it’s sad and funny in a way that I’ve not come very far in all of these years and think that this would be a fitting way to spend my last night living with my maiden name. In fact why does this need to even be a hen’s do thing? I could just do this anyway, I don’t need a conventional excuse.

:: Outdoor cinema ::  (image found on http://www.kikareichert.com.br)

 

And I’m sure the “Keep calm and wear big pants” Hens do will go fine. I like a challenge and I’ve got a few ideas.

What I did on my holidays.

Hello and welcome 2015. May you be better than 2014.

Now that regular blogging can resume and I can update you with the gifts I had made over Christmas, I’ll start with the first couple of things I made for the Australians.

Do you need a table runner? Your getting one anyway…

20141120_122951

The idea came from the a tutorial on the eternal maker blog.

http://eternalmaker.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/book-stack-table-runner-wallhanging.html?spref=pi

I like the way the colours popped out of the darker background I would have normally used something even more brighter maybe even neon or geometric on a navy blue, but I had to calm it down for Mum. Saying that mum lives on the Queensland coast, it’s probably not suited as well anyway, I probably should have done this in a yellow or something tropical. (Grey is more a Melbourne colour). In the end I made it up as I went along.

I have a lot of this grey cotton , If I had to make it again I would use linen next time instead. (I’m going to try to not think about this too much or it will annoy me so much so I would probably remake it.)

I loved the colours and design the eternal maker used to quilt it but I just couldn’t get it right and I’m lacking the confidence to use bold colours on a muted background.(I really need to do a free motion course) so good old dependable lines returned!

This was an easy gift to start with and the gifts did go up in complexity as I went on. I didn’t want to get too cocky to begin with as I had time restraints, need to be organised this year. (Sorry Mum…I’ll make you something nice for your birthday)

 

So onto the clamshells 

I did ramp it up with clam shells. I love clam shells and I have wanted to make something with them for ages, but was intimidated by the process. I’m not going to lie it was fiddly.

20141120_123042

What I like about this is that I could use all of my favorite fabrics from my stash. Its only very small so it was like a little showcase for them.

I used the grey again, and again I would have rather a white or a different shade of grey background. This was more messy than anything else. I used starch spray on all of the clams, I used A LOT of it but it did work. I had trouble also folding the fabric over the template and it bunching occasionally creating little fold in the front. That was annoying.

I was happy with it for a first attempt even if some of the rows did turn out a bit crooked, but I did learn from it. I’ve set my sight on doing a larger version one day but I don’t know about committing to a whole quilt as trying to sew each clam shell on in the right place was really quite difficult. I even sprayed glue on to keep them in place but they just flipped off.Next time I’ll by a glue pen instead of using my spray, my sewing machine is still covered in it

20141120_123048    20141120_123100

 

This tutorial came out of love quilting and patchwork magazine issue 14.

http://www.lovepatchworkandquilting.com/magazine/issue-14-sale-now

This year I wouldn’t mind trying a cathedral window block but they do scare the be jesus out of me. That of course will be after I finish the 2 other unfinished quilts and that bloody skirt mock-up (I know it’s not even a real one!!) and use the little bits of Liberty fabric I’ve been collecting over the year to make some sort of quilt.

Sorry the photos on this weeks entry are not great. They are on the opposite side of the world now so I can’t retake them. Bummer…

And what’s playing?

After the epic best of year business of last week’s blog I’m exhausted. So all I am going to say is that Belle and Sebastian have a new album “Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance” coming out and I’m flipping excited about that. The title track has already become my song of the year and they’re albums have never disappointed. Hopefully will get to catch them at a festival this year (finally maybe ..unlike Ride…I’m still bitter)

 

 

The well overdue end of year list for 2014.

This has taken me a lot longer to put together than I had anticipated. In fact I feel like I have been in school and this was an essay I’ve been putting off for ages. Has it  helped that I had Xmas and Playmobil/Lego construction cities to take up my time too? No that is a shit excuse, I spent a lot of time looking at fabric online..(god I’m thinking about it RIGHT NOW…. help me I have a problem). So I did say in my last entry I would put this up before NYE and today is NYD at the eleventh hour no less. The irony of this is that I’ve always wanted to do this kind of list and on NYD it would be one of the subjects up for discussion in our house whilst eating curry in our pyjamas.

These are all albums I’ve given a lot of time to this year but I have kept the descriptions short. When I read other people’s lists I don’t want an essay, I want a brief description of genre and similarity. That’s enough for me to decide to go on and listen or not. I hope this approach works here for anyone reading.

Should I go backwards, who doesn’t like a countdown?

12.Royal Blood- Royal Blood

Who’s list is this not on? Bass and drums people, just bass and drums managed to provide an album like a punch to the face. It’s rock its raw it’s awesome, it’s impressive and it gives new respect to the rhythm section.

11.War On Drugs- Lost in a dream

41f440f9

If I had to predict what albums would have been big this year, I would not have thought this one. On the top of almost every list this 80’s Bryan Adams sounding album is amazing. I mention Bryan Adams/ Don Henley way too much. Ultimately to me it stands on a weird balance of  80’s FM radio rock that you would listen to while travelling in the car (Under Pressure), prog rock/ Pink Floyd stadium interludes (The Haunting Idle) with shoe gazer undertones. “Disappearing” makes me feel like I should be on a yacht. It has a bass line that reminds me of the opening to Lady In Red.

10.Jenny Lewis- The Voyager

On  writhing this my 4-year-old stated this is my new favourite song when “She’s not me” came on. The Voyager is a more retrospective sounding album manner. Part country rock part pop. Pretty melodies and well used harmonies are the shining prize of  Lewis latest offering. This is a good solid body of work , much different from her more sombre county styled debut solo album Rabbit Fur Coat.  Highlight tracks “Just one of the guys” “Shes not me” and the sad soft leaving song”The Voyager”.

9. Metronomy- Love Letters

What a lovely foray into quaint British retro electronic/pop music. The title track “Love letters” is one of my songs of the year (big hit in the house). “Monstrous” has an excellent use of the harpsichord, that sound is not used enough this day and age.  It’s sweet and melodic  and album you can get carried away with, all boy meets girl, boy looses girls boy sings sad lonely desperate songs..with a catchy beat. Also one of the physical hold in my hand CD’s purchased this year.

8. The Eels-  The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett

THE CAUTIONARY TALES OF MARK OLIVER EVERETT

If there’s a record to make me cry this year this one is it. He is a tortured soul that Mark Everett. This is his/ their 10th incarnation and with every album I think they change  ever so slightly. “Agatha Chang” is the definite highlight , beautifully romantic track, heartbreaking.There is so much quality songwriting on this album.  Part Tom Waite’s this is an album full of lost loves and regret. Beautiful.

7. Foo Fighters- Sonic Highways

My oh my, talk about getting in there at the last-minute.

Is it cool to love the Foo Fighters? It is for me. I love everything they have done and this is not an exception. I know there will be some nay sayer out there who will say “oh they haven’t been good since insert any album before Wasting Light here” , oh relax! Each track was inspired by one of the 8 different cities in America that were of certain significance to the band. There  was also an 8 part documentary shown on the BBC earlier this year  to accompany the album (but I’ve only caught 3 episodes thanks to my dumb tv planner decided to stop working). The tracks here are big ,well crafted songs that are instantly recognizable there are no surprises. If your new to them “Something For Nothing” and “Subterranean” are the best places to start.  Grohl can still write a catchy song with a killer hook. I love it.

6. Jack White- Lazaretto

So it’s got all the making of rock n roll classic in a nutshell.

Blues rock and country ballads all mixed in to make on rip-roaring album. This is a far cry from the stripped back days of White Stripes. Loads has been written everywhere you look, so I’m not going to go on about it. If you like to feel like you’ve walked back in time into a honky-tonk bar where everyone is wearing sharp suits and carrying switch-blades and drinking dirty bourbon then you have chosen the right album.

The sleeve photo is so rock too, reminiscent of an old Johnny cash album But what truly excited me is the novelty of the Ultra vinyl edition. It has been the highest selling LP since Pearl Jam’s 1994 LP Vitology. Why? Because of the following “2 vinyl-only hidden tracks hidden beneath the center labels, 1 hidden track plays at 78 RPM, one plays at 45 RPM, making this a 3-speed record, Side A plays from the inside out, Dual-groove technology: plays an electric or acoustic intro for “Just One Drink” depending on where needle is dropped. The grooves meet for the body of the song.” It may be a novelty but it’s all a bit of magic ,the thrill of buying an album .It’s what needed to get the masses back buying physical product again isn’t it?

5. Beck- Morning Phase

I always forget how much I Beck. This is full of overtures. I love a string section and there is so much overlay in this. Wave is magnificent strings and atmospheric. While  “Morning” sounds quite like the start of “Golden Age” or “Guess I’m Doing fine” which is fine as he is consistent . The whole album has something of a late afternoon at the beach country feel to it…with strings.It’s also a good album to listen to while on a long walk on a sunny autumnal morning. (If this looks familiar I have edited from my old entry in the autumn)

4. Sebastien Tellier- L’Aventura

Oh I’ve talked about him before, it’s no secret that I’m a fan.

Opening with “Love”, and as with many other songs you can hear influences of Air in there. He claims that he was aiming for a Brazilian themed album to coincide with the World Cup. I don’t hear that on many tracks except for “Ambiance Rio”which could have been lifted off Brasil 66 by Sergio Mendes. Where with the single “Ricky L’adolescent” he returns to more familiar territory – sexually charged, slow and sensual ,think more “Cochon Ville”. L’Aventura on the whole sounds more like the soundtrack to a slightly sleazy / sometimes romantic film soundtrack, with a 70’s psychedelic overtone rather than a Carnival.

3. GUM- Delorian Highway

I don’t know what they have been putting in the water in Perth, Australia or maybe it’s the isolation of the place which is producing so many amazing albums of late. GUM is Jay Watson who in other guises is from Tame Impala and the other amazing side project Pond. This is like an exploration into space and time, a visit into psychedelic plains and rolling hills of dreamscapes. It’s the past  it’s the future and everything in between.

2. St. Vincent St. Vincent

When I first heard Rattlesnakes, it annoyed me, I’m not going to lie. But after weeks of airplay I started to like it, now I love it. It’s all sassy with abrupt time signatures. She has collaborated with David Byrne from Talking heads in 2012 with “Love this giant” ,the influence is apparent here. An electronic delight and slighty a skewed to what everyone else is doing at the moment. Joyous.

1. Shiny Joe Ryan – Shiny Joe Ryan & the cosmic microwave background

What has made this number 1 for me this year is more a feeling I have for this album, rather than a formulated musical explanation. It sounds like a mixture of a Sleepy Jackson album “Lovers” which is probably one of my favourite albums of all time and Split Enz. It reminds me of the Australian landscape (but recorded in Berlin) that distinct sound that I can’t pin point but you can find in sliding guitars. A mixture of psychedelic pop, country and rock the best examples from this are the title tracks “Cosmic Microwaves Backgrounds 1 & 2 ” they have an atmosphere to them like they could have been beamed from the emptiness of space.

Cosmic microwave background sounds like its cover art depiction, desolate and jangling (is that what sepia rocks sound like?). I’ve explained it, look at that image and listen to the album.

If you do like Shiny Joe / Gum then it’s worth listening to Nicholas Allbrooks new album Ganough, Wallis & Fatuna / Mink Mussel Creek – Mink Mussel Manticore.

Phew, Honorable mentions go to Ryan Adams and John Grant live at the BBC for also being amazing.

Just before the finish line!

wpid-2014-12-14-13.35.19.jpg.jpeg        wpid-2014-12-14-13.36.17.jpg.jpeg

Phew! That was a mad dash but it’s finally finished. I wanted the Christmas quilt to have at least 2 weeks use. That’s two weeks of getting chocolate, mince pies, coffee and whatever else all over it before the first week of January. My fault I shouldn’t have picked white triangles really (but my living room is dark so I wanted to brighten it up a bit).

I’d been collecting fat quarters of Christmas fabric since July. I would have liked a better variety and some that I bought (online again) had massive prints damn it so I couldn’t use them at all.

wpid-20141217_132225.jpg

“Ghosts of Christmas future”

 

This pattern come form the great blog, Mommy by day, crafter by night. I’m always on this website , there are so many things I want to make. So many things not enough time. Anyways you can find the link here. http://www.mommybydaycrafterbynight.com/2012/12/isosceles-triangle-quilt-along-making.html

wpid-2014-12-14-13.37.02.jpg.jpeg

Man if I ever needed a proper triangle to cut my fabric out this was the quilt. My local shops didn’t have the right triangle and I couldn’t be bothered ordering it online because I a) wanted to get cracking and I would have to wait a few days for it to arrive and b) lets not forget I’m a tight arse. I’m crap at maths so Mr Mastermind made me a template out of an old cardboard box.

All cheer the homemade template!

All cheer the homemade template!

This worked for a bit and then it didn’t. As I cut the fabric I managed to shave a very small bits off the sides. There are irregularities in the sizes of the triangle which you can see as they don’t line up properly all the way through. To be honest I’m not too sure how it didn’t end up worse really…silver linings.

The quilting itself was not enjoyable. as usual, I get bored easily. Who would have known straight lines would be challenging? But after fixing wonky lines it looks presentable.

For the backing, keeping in mind that I’m always trying to save cash. I used Rockette’s H&M duvet cover from her toddler bed. It wasn’t great to sew with, it was quite rigid and the needle seemed to get stuck in it (either that or my crap sewing skills).

Whatever it was I did break about 4 needles and the thread kept randomly coming out of the needle. All in all my machine wasn’t really happy with all of this. But it still looks good and it didn’t cost me anything. The duvet was too small though so I used one of the FQ’s with the large print and all my scraps to make up the gap.

wpid-20141214_124317.jpg

The zigzag binding was not as complicated as it first looks, it was pretty easy for me and I winged it and got it done in no time really (considering I was coming down with some vile head cold) just remember to make a small fold in every corner. I love the effect.

It’s a fun easy make if you’re not trying to rush it. If I ever made another one I would start it in September..

wpid-20141214_125224.jpg

I have no time to make the cushions I wanted. I’ll make them in the summer.

 

Short and sweet today, still working on my best of albums of 2014 it will appear before NYE, it’s on my list of things to do alongside all of the baking and buying a tablecloth.

Jazzing things up in the cold and damp.

Winter has finally settled on Canterbury. It’s cold and miserable and being of antipodean origin natives are always quick to remind me “it’s only going to get worse”. I know this, I’ve been here for over a decade but my body on the other hand is always surprised that it’s damp and cold when it should be hot and goes on protest/hibernation. So I’ve been in  lazy winter mode which always happens in the first few weeks of the season.

Because of this and putting up the Christmas tree (and subsequently having to go through the ‘junk under the stairs’ cupboard to get to said tree, we have unwittingly had to spend an infinite time having  a clean out) I have not done anything crafty other than piece together the Christmas quilt (still not ready) , and make paper chains. But the tree looks good at least.

wpid-20141203_124016.jpg

Yes I am an upside down tree.

But I did dig out some of last years crafty works so I thought I would share that instead.

wpid-20141206_082455.jpg

I got the idea for the wreath from an odd book called “Everything Oz” by Hannah Read-Baldrey and Christine Leech.

http://everythingozbook.blogspot.co.uk/

It’s full of baking and craft ideas based on the Wizard of Oz, excellent if you’re having a theme party. It does have some beautiful things in it, one of them being wool wrapped wreaths. (They also have another book called Everything Alice based on Alice in Wonderland which is perfect as a certain 4-year-old has already requested this theme for her next birthday party.)

So I had some cheap wool left from when I was attempting to knit and I bought a polystyrene wreath from Hobbycraft (other retailers exist) .

I pinned the start of the wool to the back of the ring and twisted it around. To change the colour I tied the two colours of wool together and made sure the knot was on the back. Too easy.

The felt flowers didn’t turn out how I would have liked but it is just a petal template, some felt and a glue gun and then pinned in. A glue gun will not attach them properly (maybe It’s because I have a cheap glue gun), hence the pins masquerading as buds which cover all the mess I made when trying to glue each petal together. The leaves didn’t turn out as envisaged either, I think it made someone in my house even laugh and ask what happened to them (rude!) by that stage I had enough of the glue gun. If I made it again I would attempt to make them curved.

 

The bells were from Hobbycraft  and the bird was out of an old packet of Paperchase tree decorations. It was a fun make, I could make loads of them!

wpid-20141206_082534.jpg wpid-20141206_082603.jpg

 

The other thing I dug out was the jazzing up of Rockette’s Christmas stocking, which she insisted could be improved with some pink and purple butterflies, of course!

Again this was some butterfly templates, some felt, a glue gun and some little pink pearly balls which held the bottom and the top layers together.

 

It was approved, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Bugs and fishes it a great blog for all sorts of amazing felt ideas and tutorials which is where I found the template  http://bugsandfishes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/how-to-felt-butterfly-brooches.html

 

Hark! Do you hear what I hear?

There have been a few interesting new releases in the last few weeks such as Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders, John Grant at the BBC, Foo Fighters, the Temples re-issue and so forth. I left it a few weeks in-between music blogs so there is almost too many to write about.

Some of them may make it into the best of albums list of 2014 I’m currently compiling in my head which will see the light of day in the next few weeks. So more about them later.

What has made me quite happy this week is the new She & Him album Classics.

Made up of M.Ward and Zooey Deschanel, this is the duo’s 5th album. They have a sound which is a mixture of naive retro sounding sunshine and pop’s take on blues. Having already recorded a wonderful Christmas album in 2011 it’s no surprise that they have delivered an album of cover’s. I’m wanting to buy this on vinyl for the artwork alone, it’s a great design.

I love Zooey Deschanels voice, (this is why I also love the Elf soundtrack so much) so I’m never really disappointed in anything she chooses to sing.  Saying that there is always a risk of trying to tackle any kind of classic song. The songs from this album come from the likes of  Billie Holiday to Dusty Springfield to Chet Baker and Johnny Mathis.

The Vera Lynn war classic “We’ll meet again” which I think is the highlight of the album sounds a lot less like the haunting tales war and the optimism of hope and more like a drunken night in a pub round a piano, I like it in the same way I would like an old sea shanty.

 Their version of Herb Alpert’s”This Girl’s (Guy’s) in Love With You” is beautiful. It had a job going up against such a standard (and the original is probably in my top 50 greatest songs of all time) , but for today I think they have covered it well without deviating too much from the original tempo. There are no strings and the sound is not so rich or dynamic so it doesn’t have the same impact of Alpert’s version, but it has a precious sound to it . It feels as if Deschanel is holding back on her vocals and she’s singing like she almost too scared to tell the recipient of her song how she feels, which gives it a certain charm and sweetness.

On the other hand “She” sounds opposite where the added layers and texture make it sound richer it is a wonderful yet possibly more understated version or the original.

All in all its a Sunday morning record a jazzy easy listen . Play it alongside Woody Allen soundtracks and Belle and Sebastien records.

Want something more festive?