Autumn sun

A break from rain rain rain (there is a reason these Tuscan mountains are green…), with lunch on the terrace, time playing outside for all the family, and gardening. We finally planted those bulbs, although the weather people are threatening frost for Wednesday. Today was a day off school for the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or her Immaculate Conception, or something. Whatever the reason, we were all pleased for a break from school and work routines to enjoy the gorgeous weather.

IMG_0998.JPG Our mad chickens have finished moulting, and have finally stopped looking embarrassed about loosing feathers all over the garden, and are now looking happily ruffled again, though inevitably rather muddy. The days are so short that only one brave one is still laying. Oh dear, I will actually have to buy eggs. Not the same as fresh ones. In the afternoon, with chicken coops and guinea pig cage cleaned out, I even had time to get back to my sewing. It was bliss! My good friend Ms L gave me the sweetest little sewing pouch last week when I made a mad dash back to Switzerland for a workshop. I started sewing on the way home, fired up. It probably doesn’t help my long list of unfinished projects, but it was so lovely to have such sweet fabric to play with. I have no idea what this will turn into. I’m just enjoying the process for once.


IMG_0927.JPG I’ll link this up to the Monday monday morningMorning Star Count. A great virtual group of creative people. Happy sewing! JJ

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Quilting statistics

I am about to discover an alarming mathematical fact: there is an inverse proportional relation between the time spent gazing at one’s chickens, and the amount of time actually spent achieving something. Like doing some work. Or sewing. Or anything, really.

Still, we got three eggs yesterday, and two this morning. So at least other sentient beings are getting something done.

I have also been sick, so should perhaps be kinder on myself. Streptococcus, anyone? I’m drafting a list of people to kiss before the antibiotics kick in.

Happy gazing vacantly into space! It’s good sometimes. JJ


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Doing the family mending

In a pretty unbeatable spot! Moths seem to thrive, however many pretty homemade, homegrown lavender bags we throw at them. Or nastier stuff too. The price to pay for biodiversity?


Happy mending…

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Sewing set up, brain switched on again

The children are settled into school — finally, after a most marvellous summer — and the days are starting to slowly take on a new rhythm. I am settled into my institute in Pisa, going there about once a week, by train. Language seems not to faze the children as much as expected. Clever little things. Mr A (5) announced rather perceptively that “we don’t learn much in school. It’s more somewhere to go for children when their parents have to do something”. But he is happy, learning a new language, and surrounded by kind people. Miss R (8) is coping amazingly, helped by a lovely little English-speaking friend in her class who has been a real blessing. So, on my two new Giant Swedish Store-bought tables, in my little tower, I respectively have space for writing… and sewing. After a morning of reading chapters of an excellent PhD, I finally dug out a cushion to finish.


This is a milestone for me as I hand pieced the shapes (from a Moda pack of pre-cut hexies): not English paper piecing but rather with running stitch. My first Y seams! Then, when that was done and the green border was attached by machine, I hand quilted it, under the watchful eyes of Ms E and Ms D, queens of the hand quilting, while still in Switzerland.



Meanwhile, back over the border in France, in Morzine, Patchwork in the Peaks is taking place this weekend. I wish the ladies so much fun, and I wish I were there. So perhaps I’ll sneak in some extra sewing this weekend in my very own Tuscan Peaks, as a sort of symbolic Southern outpost.

Happy days! JJ


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Feathered friends

I have set up the most marvelous sewing / writing studio in the tower of our house. It is perfect! But no sewing at all has been done yet. Life took over. Then chickens. So allow me, just this once, to talk about something other than fabric. Ok, maybe not just once…

Fluffy, Brownie and Silkie

Fluffy, Brownie and Silkie

First it was just the three little ones. Manageably small. But useless at laying eggs. But we love them all the same. They are such fun to watch.

A "Silkie" chicken, utterly daft but tough as nails, and sweet to cuddle.

A “Silkie” chicken, utterly daft but tough as nails, and sweet to cuddle.

So we added a big rough Tuscan one to produce something. Meet “Tosca”, the local laying hybrid. She looks huge next to the other girls.

Tosca, tough but soft at heart

Tosca, tough but soft at heart

Has she yet laid anything? No. “Ma fa freddo!”, said the man in the local agricultural shop. Well, perhaps to an Italian, 24C in the afternoon is indeed a little chilly. I am however wearing a teeny T-shirt. So, another freeloader, who will no doubt lay next Spring. Or not. So then we added another laying hen to keep her warm in the winter on the roost, as the little ones seem to sleep in a pile on the flood of the coop. Meet “Azzurra”, a grey chicken called ‘blue’ around here.

Azzurra, who thinks she's blue, according to her hybrid name (but looks pretty grey to me...)

Azzurra, who thinks she’s blue, according to her hybrid name (but looks pretty grey to me…)

We just spent all evening looking for her in the bushes after she decided to escape our state-of-the-art electrified fox-proof pen. Poor lass. We thankfully found her before something big and hungry did. Enough chickens? Well, that was before our lovely neighbour Ms V decided to hatch a batch of chicks and give us some. In our enthusiasm, we ended up with five “because they are so sweet and tiny and oh let’s have that one too because it’s a different colour, and that one too…” and so on. A little more than a week later, these are starting to look seriously huge. And boy do they EAT!

They might start out small...

They might start out small…

I am seriously hoping several of these turn out to be boys because if so we have agreed with Ms V that they can go and live with her mother who has a large farm. Ten chickens will not fit into my little coop. They we will wish them well and not think too hard about their life expectancy… Any time for quilting? Probably not quite yet…

Happy farming! JJ

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Oh so much to say, but very little sewing!

Life is full to the brim, but there seems to be no time to write it down. So here is one picture of the new peeps living in the sitting room…

So, instead of sewing, we just

IMG_0366.JPG enjoy the variety of life on an Italian hillside. The children start school on Monday. That should ultimately provide some spare time, even if the first few weeks might be a bit rocky.

Happy cheeping!

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On a hillside

The day begins with tea and a view, in gentle rolling colours. A thin veil of mist. Sun peaking out, glorious in the Tuscan light. Boxes are almost unpacked, house feeling like home. Only a broken computer and a fused wiring system stop me from sewing and blogging. But that will come. Meanwhile, we soak it all in.





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