Artnextdoor's Blog

My place to be creative


Creative Week 50

As I sit here watching the birds on my feeder, I am freezing.  We have still not been able to find a plumber/heating engineer to come and replace our boiler – one has even told us it could be May before he could get here!  I would be suspicious if any of them said the could be here immediately but May!  British Gas want silly money as usual but could do it sooner – We maybe desperate but not that much money desperate – at a third more expensive than anyone else, for a boiler with lower specifications, they can think again.

It is not so much the cold but the damp that hangs around the house after the five of us have had showers, washed up and all the other things that need doing in the mornings, then it all starts again in the evenings.  I sit here all day with the windows open trying to get rid of the condensation but to no avail.  I have now resorted to shoving an electric fire in the rooms, shutting the doors and walking away, expensive and I’m still sitting here freezing but it sort of works.  I think I’d rather be cold than have the children sleep in damp beds ( although I don’t think they are damp, just very, very cold).

Note to self – when we get the new boiler DO NOT get it serviced and have an annual check in the winter nor allow British Gas to move the appointment from summer to winter.

Ok enough moaning.

This weeks quilt idea:- Radar

radar 1


This quilt I have named Radar 1, it reminds me of those old WWII radar pictures I saw in history lessons when I was a child.  This quilt measures 60″ square (my favourite size) and is made up of two blocks which are basically the same but the second has more piecing.

Here are the links for all the info that you need to make this quilt.

radar 1 fabric yardage

Radar 1 block 1 templates   Radar 1 block 2 templates

Radar 1 block 1 foundation papers  Radar 1 block 2 foundation paper

Radar II

Radar 2

This quilt is again 60″ square and only uses 1 of the blocks, although this time I have used dark to light radiating fabrics in one and light to dark in the other.

Here are the links

Radar 2 fabric yardage

Radar 2 templates

Radar 2 foundation template

That’s all for this week, hopefully by next week I will have happier news on the heating and hot water front – thank goodness the shower is electric!

Until next week, thank you for dropping by. x





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Chocolate Fudge Icing for Sarah

Just a quick post for the lady we met in Tesco’s this morning with a tub of pre-made fudge icing in her hand!

50g butter

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons cocoa

250g icing sugar

Put the butter, milk and cocoa in a pan and heat gently until melted.

Cool slightly, then stir in the icing sugar, beat until smooth (I would sift the icing sugar first to get rid of any lumps).  Spread/pour over the cake, the icing is quite runny so will run over the sides of the cake.  Cover your cake with all things chocolate – crunchie bites are really good, as are bits of flake and minstrels.  Enjoy!  I hope you and your husband have a really great Christmas.

A trick for really good butter icing beat with a mixer on full for at least 4 minutes to create fluffy icing.  If using butter you can actually see the colour change – it gets lighter the more it’s beaten.

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Creative Week 18

What a week! Our beautiful darling daughter had the private view of her university exhibition, so we had a lovely trip to Cambridge.  It was great to see her work along side her fellow students, we also got to see the work of the other departments too, some very interesting ideas were on show.


My Beautiful Girl at her exhibition.



My youngest son had his internal school exams all week, followed by a trip to Edgbaston, with his dad and big brother, to watch the first match of the ICC Champions Trophy which involved England beating Australia.  then up early to play in another cricket match in Coventry.  He has now gone off with school for a week to Wales under the guise of a geography field trip but really I think they are all just going to have fun.

With everybody being out of the house all of Saturday I managed to make a quilt and the backing before they all came in for something to eat.

Quick quilt a


Quick quilt backing b


I have written the pattern which can be found here:- Quick Off Set Block Quilt (and backing) I made this quilt primarily to practice my quilting and as per usual I have not yet layered it up ( a job for very early next week).

Last week I also made the Rail Fence Trio quilt from last week blog post.  As can be seen I made it larger as I had extra fabric and yes I have made (sort of) a cushion to go with it – neither are finished (yet).

Rail Fence Trio quilt


So what’s on the agenda for the coming week?  I intend to design a quilt using a layer cake I have called Ticklish from Me & My Sister Designs for Moda, I also want to make a blouse that has been sitting waiting for a while and I suppose I had better take advantage of the fact that little son isn’t here to do some cleaning (what!!!!) before making cakes for the cricket teas on Saturday.

Thanks for dropping by.

Until next week. x



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Witley Court Worcestershire

Sunday 21st October dawned with clinging fog but with a small promise of becoming brighter.  Regardless of the weather we had decided as our trip to Germany had been postponed due to circumstances beyond our control we would have a day out.

Witley Court and Gardens are only 45 minutes from our home so are quick and relatively easy to get to, via a number of motorways and a variety of minor roads.  I had intended we set off early but as usually it didn’t happen, I suppose I should have learnt by now, but I suppose if we had gone early the fog would have still lingered.  As it was we found numerous trees draped in clouds of cobwebs encrusted with diamond-like water droplets just waiting to sparkle when the fog lifted.

I managed to take some really quite good photos, some of which are above taken with my small compact Nikon digital camera as big son was using my Fuji and little son my Panasonic Lumix.  Husband was using his new Olympus, which is able to take panoramic and 3D shots without the help of Photoshop to create the magic.

The photo with the spiders shows the fog just starting to lift. 

We had a great day out which was enhanced by enjoying a light lunch at the tea room just outside the gardens.  It was so nice we didn’t need our Sunday dinner when we got home.

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Broken Bread Machine–Enter Hand Made Bread

I know it’s not a life changing event but here is my first batch of bread from scratch by hand for a very long time.

handmade bread

We got home from America only to find the bread machine, which I used to make my dough, had decided it had had enough – after all it worked very day at least once in its long life.  So now I have decided to make my bread completely by hand; it takes a bit longer but I do get a work out with the kneading and I can control the rising, allowing the yeast to ferment slowly therefore preventing the bread bloat which can happen with shop bought and machine made bread.

And best of all it tastes great – Yum.

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Batik Quilt finished and Kaffe Fassett top done

I can’t quite believe how productive I have been since my return from America.  I have started and finished 3 quilts, finished another quilt top that will be layered up early next week and quilted, bound and label attached before the end of next week; I have also knitted two jackets and a scarf, designed, cut out ready to sew at least 12 creature bag tags – only another 18 to go to complete the set.


Kaffe Fasset top 1Kaffe Fasset top close up

The above quilt top has only been on the go for 12 months since last years festival of quilts.

I have had fabric printed ready to make into scarves, that’s another job for next week as this weekend is DD 21st birthday, so party time!  The garden is tidy and cleaned up the lawn needs mowing and the edges clipped but that will get done this evening.  Sunday garden party here we come.  Tomorrow I will be making a tiered death by chocolate cake covered in chocolate fudge sauce, chocolate and then just to add something more sweets – smarties, minstrels, chocolate buttons, jelly beans, marshmallows, glitter anything I can find oh and of course 21 candles!

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Great American Adventure Part 5– House Envy!

Saturday 12th May saw us take a trip into Provo (I think) to Costco for supplies for the family barbeque next day – America’s Mother’s Day.  We went via a pizza restaurant, the pizza is prepared in front of you and left to cook whilst you pay, fetch your drink and get a seat, once cooked it is delivered piping hot to the table and it was of a normal (British) size too, so I managed to eat it all! Yummy!

pizza 1pizza 2

pizza 3

The trip to Costco was fun too.  In the queue to pay, a poor, unsuspecting man was standing quietly waiting his turn to pay, when he gets accosted by this round, over friendly Brit, who wants to know if he really intends to give his mother a bag of bread rolls as a gift on Mother’s day.  The poor man didn’t stand a chance!  We had 2 big trolley (cart) loads in front of us and another man, who sensibly had a big bunch of yellow roses in his hand and it turns out my aunt knew; so this poor man was getting it in the neck – nicely- from me about not buying his mum or wife a bouquet when the second man joins in too, to the extent of offering to buy me a bouquet too!  By the time we get to the check out the first man decides he had better go and get a bouquet too and comes back with the very one I would have chosen for myself!  Hurray it worked – we both agreed we could dine out on this story for sometime to come.

After witnessing what must have been a very embarrassing exchange for my Aunt and Uncle we got the shopping into the car to return to Mapleton; we went via some properties that my Uncle had worked on, the campus of Brigham Young University and a park up the side of a mountain with camping facilities, a water park which was closed as the season wasn’t yet open and finally a trip round the posh end of Mapleton – this is where the house envy starts and some of them were in a state of demolition and/or refurbishment or neglect – I could have quite easily taken them on but then what would I have done with all the room and just think of all that extra cleaning.  Cleaning I still don’t understand the concept of that yet!

Have a look at some of my house envy moments.

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The Garden is just about to burst!

Whilst I’ve been away the much needed rain has delivered its benefit to my garden.  The plants all look healthy, except the slugs have been busy on my Canterbury bells (Campanula).  the oriental poppies are slow to flower this year but there is plenty of promise from the self seeded nasturtiums and of course the strawberries – yum!

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Great American Adventure Part 4

Sadly, I have returned home now, leaving my amazing American family 7000 miles away – I’m coming back in August be warned!

The following photo’s where taken on the return from my cousin Kate’s home in Blanding in the south east of Utah.  Again the rock formations are astounding and the resident of Wilson’s Arch did enjoy the Doritos we fed to him.  Oh don’t miss the horses face that appears  naturally in a tree formation on the side of the hill.