Wednesday 30 April 2014

Uncle has a bad day

I visited uncle this morning first thing.  It was lovely walking up the rather steep hill, and it was pleasant to see uncle although he wasn't with it.  He was falling asleep before opening his eyes and telling me a mildly rude version of 'Mary had a little lamb'.  On the way back I found a new shortcut downhill and took some photos that I may well use for a prompt in a writing challenge later on, or not.  Here is a spring that comes out of the hillside half way down and in the middle of the park.

I got back to the house around 10.30 after leaving uncle to go to sleep then got a call from the residential home around 11.30.  Uncle had been booked in for a hospital appointment this afternoon, could I go with him.

Father agreed to pick bear up from school and so I dashed back up the hill.  Uncle has ongoing urine infections so they had sent him for a kidney scan and a camera in the bladder.

Big important point - uncle is okay.  It looks like the infections are irritating the bladder but there is nothing else to worry about.

Very minor points - I was sent on my own with uncle and I had absolutely no idea where he should be.  We were at St James' Hospital in Leeds which was filmed as 'Jimmy's' and is massive, it sprawls out for wing after wing and it was quite a challenge.  I wasn't sure about the medication uncle was on for the infection and, to be honest, he was getting more and more confused as the afternoon went on.  I spent a lot of time translating.  He told me he was in Liverpool, then he was in Wrexham, at one point he refused to believe he was in Leeds and then he told me he had been in St James many times.  He hadn't.  I was like a well used, well wrung out dishcloth by the time I got him safely back to the residential home and had briefed the nurse.

More good points - bear had a ball this afternoon.  Homework hadn't been sent home so he just chilled on the computer for nearly three hours while father left him to it.  I had left out snacks and a drink and bear was apparently no trouble at all.  DH was a marvel and brought home the ingredients for a nice, healthy meal and made it.  After the thunderstorm I didn't feel the need to go out and water the trees.

Now I am off to bed.

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Faintly Depressing

I am doing quite well in seeing the positive.  I have seen references to 100 Happy Days.  I would be a complete epic fail with that.  I struggle with 100 Happy Hours.  I am working on it.

Today I had a lot of good feelings from walking to see uncle through the park and then back through a new short cut.  It is definitely a shortcut for dry weather, but it was fun.  It sort of helped with the visit with uncle, which was a little hard.  Uncle does not believe he is in Leeds.  He has a photo on the wall taken of him, DH and bear and is insistent that it was taken in Wrexham.  It wasn't.  He has also been very shouty by his own admission.  Uncle never used to be shouty.  I never heard him raise his voice.  The wound where his leg was amputated is still infected and he is on his second lot of antibiotics.  However he loves bear, completely, and seeing that and that he is enjoying looking at his picture and generally getting involved in bear's life is brilliant. It is a silver lining.

Father has not heard about the chest scan.  He is a bundle of nerves.  His knee is bad so he is only trying the stairs when he absolutely has to while utterly refusing the thought of a stair lift and completely rejecting a visit to the GP.  Also Liverpool FC lost this weekend and that isn't good.  However he is finding his own silver lining and with the World Cup and Commonwealth Games coming up he has a lot to look forward to.  He is enjoying company as well, so that is good.

The writer's prompt on Light and Shade is going well, and that is very positive.

What has left me feeling faintly depressed is a flyer that came with the Tesco order.  It is advertising tutoring.  Bear is due to do his SATS soon, or rather, the second lot as he did the stuff he should be doing now in February and is now going for something that is a level up.  I think that is good and I am happy for now to leave it between bear and school.  But this leaflet was promising help with exams and SATS and the 11+  I'm quietly confident that bear will be fine, and that he will take it all as it comes with his usual nonchalant attitude.  What is depressing is the huge weight that this seems to be putting on kids.  I know that there will be parents at bear's school tutoring their kids to death, far beyond what they are naturally capable of, and they will be sitting down in the same classroom for the exam as the kids whose parents don't even read to them.  I wonder what bear will take away from all this.

I am now about to go out and pick up bear from school and it is sunny.  That is a bright side.

Monday 28 April 2014

Good Start to the Week

I've written a piece for the prompt on Light and Shade Challenge here.  I feel quite giddy about it and the exactly 500 words count towards my target of 5000.  If you are into creative writing then pop over and have a go sometime.

I'm now off to attack the ironing again.

Not Really a Bargain

I have just been handed a flyer at the school gate for Matalan.  My initial thought was, "Yes!!!" because before they had handed out flyers with percentages off and they had been brilliant.  This time the flyer was for £10 off if I spent £50.

It is a good deal, 20% off, and the prices are very reasonable to start with.  I have been very happy with Matalan quality as well and I want to keep the local store open.  I just can't think of what I need for £50.  Bear has most of the clothes he needs, the few bits of underwear wouldn't add up to much.  I certainly don't need any home furnishings, in fact I could do with less.  I'm fine for clothes and so is DH.  Father is fine for clothes but likes shopping so I may pass the voucher his way.  I suppose I could get uncle some stuff.  On the whole, it would be buying for buying's sake, and that is not a bargain.

The 48 toilet rolls have arrived and are in use.  I am quite pleased.  They are flimsy and have a tendency for the layers to separate but it scrunches up nicely and you need less sheets than you think.  I shall be keeping an eye out for blockages.  However the rolls are around half an inch narrower than the standard ones.  If you measure across the sheet they are definitely stunted.  Even so, it feels like you need less sheets.  I think I may re-order but I am considering it.

You really do need to keep your wits about you when looking for bargains.

Sunday 27 April 2014

End of Week Report

Last week I set myself some targets.  I was going to clear the dining room.  That is a fail, though it is slightly clearer.  I suspect it will be at least another few weeks at the same rate, because there is a lot of ironing to clear - which keeps being replenished - and then I need to find homes for a lot of the stuff I am clearing.  Most of that will be in a charity shop, but a home still needs to be found.  It also has to work around the demands of other things.  

I was going to use at least 100g of yarn on bear's blanket.  I achieved that, and it was helped by a really good session of knitting while watching a recording of Much Ado About Nothing.  I dropped a few stitches while laughing, but nothing irreversible.

I was going to write 5000 words.  This is worrying me.  I managed a sentence.  On that occasion it was father interrupting me, but there have been plenty of times when I've opened the documents or headed towards the computer to open the document and been ambushed by father/bear/DH/unexpected visitors.  I've been working with Thomas Marlowe on a new writer's prompt site.  The first prompt goes up tomorrow, and that should be fun.  Anyone who is interested in creative writing could take a look - Light and Shade Challenge - you have a choice of writing 500 words inspired by a prompt on Monday or 100 words on Friday, or both, or neither if they don't take your fancy.  It is not a competition and if you are unsure it will be a place to try things.  Tom and me are both keen on making it a safe place.  I think it will be a lot of fun and I've set aside time I know I won't be able to write to work on it, but I'm not sure I'll be able to write a piece for the prompts.  Mind you, I've written for other sites during bear's full description of a nerf gun so I suppose I will be able to fit that in.

Next week it will be same again.  I need to clear the dining room, use 100g of yarn on bear's blanket and write 5000 words.  I am not giving up.  I may have to do some careful planning, but that's what the challenge is about, finding ways.

Saturday 26 April 2014

Cleaning Drains

DH poured the cheapo bottle of Buck's Fizz down the drain and I think it has done the drains a world of good.  I was trying to work out a tactful way that would convey to father 'do not etch my glasses with that brass-cleaner based concoction every again' and I think I failed. Father is currently off at a table top sale in a church hall.  Please let them not be selling cheapo drink.  He will come back with some ornaments, a book or two and something more for bear.  He always does.

Bear is in a very good mood this morning as he has a new tie.  I don't like putting up too many pictures of bear on the net, so I will let you imagine a seven year old wearing bench jeans, a two tone black and grey shirt and a red tie.  This is an outfit he put together himself.  I suspect he is going to be expensive to dress later on. I will add it is only the Bench jeans that came from TK Maxx that were anything near expensive (still whimpering at £15 for a pair of jeans for a seven year old - how did he persuade me?) and the rest came from my friend ebay.  I think when he is older he will get a clothes allowance and I will leave him to it.  Pocket money and the need to save for things has certainly cut down the amount of small, plastic, breakable toys coming in.  Hopefully a clothes allowance will prevent me from the worst shocks of Superdry.

Can I just mention that a mum-of-a-friend-of-bear was having fits because the coat she sent her son to school in that cost £80 had gone missing.  Bear has not asked for something like that at least - yet!

Friday 25 April 2014

A Grey Day

It has been miserable here and damp.  The good side to that is that I don't have to go out and water the trees.  Father did a lot in the garden on Wednesday so I have to keep things watered.  The lovely, expensive sewing shears that I had been saving for years got taken out and used in the garden.  I was unimpressed but at the moment I don't need fancy shears.  I plan to use a tip that I have seen on tv and cut aluminium foil with them to sharpen them, and then hide them very carefully.

I did get a picture of a very old looking tree with very young looking blossom on.  It really cheered me up.  I love spring blossoms, they really give me a lift.

I did get a huge waft of blossom scent on the way to picking up bear.  I wish it had made me uplifted.  Instead it reminded me of the scent of the dratted Amaretto that father pushed on my at Christmas.  He bought me a bottle of Buck's Fizz last weekend at £2.99 for a large bottle.  I am not expecting it to be the most wonderful stuff ever drunk.  I am however, going to have to drink it tonight.  Father is getting very upset that it has been sitting in the drinks cabinet for five days and I haven't necked it.  Having father live with us is very good for the soul but it is rotten for my liver.

Thursday 24 April 2014

Half way through the day.

I am in epic fail territory, I haven't done the planned challenge with the wipes and if I am downstairs I won't be able to hear the expected delivery of fruit & veg, as there is washer, dryer and dishwasher on so no ironing.  A depressing amount of notions has started appearing as a result of ebay impulse buys, but I now have fabric, interfacing, wadding, a zip, ribbons, novelty buttons and several miles of bias binding that will take me through the first few projects until I am comfortable enough with a sewing machine to alter the expensive curtains.  They may be only expensive to me, but those curtains seemed to cost a fortune and I nearly didn't get them.

There is, however, an amazing bright side.  I have been doing the writer's challenges on Trifecta and Write on Edge.  I've posted links to stuff I have written.  Sadly Trifecta has finished and Write on Edge are in the throes of a new book so there have been no recent challenges.  After a long and winding discussion, me and an old friend, Tom Marlowe, have decided to set some challenges ourselves.  We have been having a great time, and we now have a joint blog called Light and Shade Challenge here.

If you like the idea of writing a short piece of fiction, please come and have a look.  There will be a prompt come up on a regular basis and you will have a picture and some words and the challenge will be to write something inspired by those up to 500 words for the Monday Challenge and 100 words for the Friday Challenge.  You then post it on your own blog with a link.  You can do one, both, or just now and then, challenges end on the following Sunday.  If you like you can just read.  The first post goes up this Monday, on the 28th April.  Please wish us luck - and it would be great if you could find fun in taking part.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Trundling On

Today hasn't been a brilliant day if you measure against my targets.  On the other hand, it could be worse.  I've been working with Tom Marlowe to research running a Writer's Prompt site.  We both enjoyed Trifecta and Write on Edge, but Trifecta is sadly closing down and I think Write on Edge are frantically busy with a book.  Tom was in 'Precipice 13' and was awesome.  I'll let you know how it goes.  That has taken up most of the writing space I have.  I managed a bit of ironing, but also did a little running around after father, who actually admitted feeling frail.  

40 grade C denim shirts arrived today.  I hadn't realised how many variations on the theme of 'denim shirt' there were.  I've spotted leather trim, lace trim and sewn on patches and the shirts are mainly denim blue in all it's shades but also white, green and pink.  They were all a bit damp so I will bung them through the washer and see how it goes.  I want to make a quilt like the one Ruth made in Wartime Farm, where little bags of material are filled with feathers and stitched together to make a very warm quilt.  I had one a bit like that when I was tiny.  I won't be using feathers as I have no source of chickens.  Instead I will be using the insides of a very cheap duvet from Matalan or some extremely cheap pillows.  Any trimmings are going to be saved as I have always longed after a denim quilt and a denim rag rug.  It's going to be a braided rug, as I do not want to get into latch hook territory, and I think that there will be quite enough fabric.  I didn't realise just how much space forty shirts would take up - it's going to take at least five loads in my washer.  They don't seem to be small shirts.  Mind you, if any are fit and the right size I shall save some for DH for when he is decorating or in the garden.

I don't know how I will go on tomorrow but I am planning to set myself a day challenge.  When emptying the walk in cupboard of garden stuff for father I found a pack of cleaning wipes.  I am ambivalent about wipes because while they are easy, convenient and usually clean well they are not very eco friendly.  I have also found that I struggle to be organised enough to use a pack before the last one dries up.  Tomorrow I am going to see if I can find jobs for a full pack of 80 wipes.  That should be all easily reached woodwork, doors, pictures, handles, cupboard fronts and anything else I can think of.  Meanwhile I'll keep washing the shirts.  I may be some time.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Fire at Armley.

We live near to where the fire in Armley was.  The full story on the BBC is here.  We actually don't live that near but we heard the bangs in the middle of the night.  It sounded like metal shutters being hit very hard in the near distance.  The smoke was still rising twelve hours later and there was dust and ash all over.  The roads are still closed around the site and local rumour says that a gas main has fractured.  It seems odd, living so near to an incident that actually made the BBC website, and was on the main page at one point.  For me it is remarkable.  It isn't dangerous or scary or even that inconvenient, but it is something to remark on.

I got this picture from the BBC website.

I'm glad I don't live any nearer.

Not a good start to the day.

I can't find bear's book bag for school anywhere.  This is a pause in the frantic search.  He will miss handing his homework in.  The dratted thing could be anywhere.

I have spent most of the morning on the phone trying to get our mortgage back on a fixed rate.  I have just been asked for a piece of paper I don't have.  This is the third attempt and the third different bit of paper I have been asked for.  I am waiting to see what happens when I ring back with this particular piece of paper.

I have dyed bear's martial arts trousers a very funny shade of grey, but fortunately I have a stock of colour run powder in.  I hope I can get it fit for tonight.  I also forgot the dinner money, but I am ahead anyway so that is safe.

It may be Tuesday but I feel like a swarm of Mondays has just ganged up on me.

Still, I have remembered to take something out for dinner tonight.  I have hung the curtain in my room that has needed doing for a few weeks.    That is an improvement on the general run of things.  It is raining so I don't have to water the trees.  And if I really crack on with the sorting out to find the book bag I will get rid of loads of stuff - I have already emptied two bin bags.  Which reminds me, I need to go and get the weeds out of the green wheelie bin as they are classed as contaminants and I don't want to get told off again.  However here is a picture to hopefully cheer you up, as it cheered me up, from a week ago.

I took it on the way to visit uncle.  I take a short cut through a park.  I saw it and thought, 'my lines have fallen in pleasant places.'

And while I was uploading the picture 48 rolls of loo paper were delivered, my brother called in and deposited vast amounts of stamps to sort through and I found the book bag.  Uncle has blood in his urine and is confused and feeling unwell.

Monday 21 April 2014

Bee-autiful sight!

There are suddenly a lot of bees in the chimney - lots and lots!  I am so pleased.  I do wonder if it is a very early swarm that was attracted to an empty or dying nest, as the last week there hasn't been a buzz.  On the other hand, it is warming up properly now and there is a lot of blossom around so I suppose the bees could just chill before but now are getting busy.

Father took us to the local Harvester restaurant.  It was lovely, I feel utterly stuffed, and bear was too full for dessert.  I think I may mark this in red in the diary - a seven year old too full for dessert!  He had stuffed himself at the free salad bar as well.

I am setting myself some weekly goals.  I am rubbish at setting realistic goals and I give up too easily, but the whole sewing thing has got me thinking.  If I want to make the most of it I need to work towards things.  By next Monday I want to have written 5k words, cleared the dining room so that I can use it as a sewing room and finished at least another 100g ball on bear's blanket.  I'm just knitting it, having given up on the Dalek theme, but I want it finished and out of the way.   It is actually quite a tough challenge as the vast quantity of ironing I need to do to get the room clear needs time and I need time to get the writing done.  Time is currently in short supply.  If it isn't bear, it is father or DH or uncle who need me to pay attention.  It's a bit of a struggle at the moment.  However if I set the mark today and see how it goes then it will be easier to set the next week's mark.

I am determined to find the fun in going for it!

Things you shouldn't say

Dear father, please do not decide you are taking us all out for a meal when I am half way through cooking dinner, including a very expensive joint of lamb.  I am very grateful that you postponed taking us out until tomorrow and I am glad that you did actually enjoy my efforts.  I will definitely be incredibly grateful tomorrow.   

Actually I was tactful and suggested that everywhere would be shut today.  I also feel grateful that the roast lamb, mash and roast, roast beetroot and cauli went down well.  DH was very happy with it and father not only cleared his plate but took some of bear's leftovers.  It still means I am shuffling around the mental meal plans, but one less dinner I have to cook is a really good thing.

I am also a little unimpressed that father has requested pickled beetroot.  Every time I have made pickles they have turned out lovely and then no-one has eaten them because no-one bothers with pickles.  After DH watched The Allotment on BBC2 he is convinced that making jam should be no trouble and I should do some at once.  I am not convinced I am safe around boiling sugar.  Besides, the only person that really eats jam is bear who remembers about jam roughly once a month and if I am going to open a jar for it just to go moldy then I may as well use the Morrisons 29p a jar strawberry rubbish.  I can't make jam for that price.  When my brother suggested yesterday that I could take a jam pan home he nearly heard some rude words.

btw in the nineteenth century they made 'strawberry' jam from rhubarb with flavouring in factories to sell in shops, and to add to the authenticity they used to stamp out the 'seeds' from wood and stir them into the 'strawberry' jam.  When the first laws about food purity and description came in and forced them to make strawberry jam from actual strawberries there was a bit of an outcry because a lot of people had actually preferred the fake stuff.  There was also a lot of huffing and puffing about the people who stamped out the 'seeds' from wood losing their jobs.  There is nothing quite so odd as people.

(Actually, DH is very clued up about the jam, but he is gently pulling my leg.  Fortunately bear hasn't got into the idea.  I don't like the idea of him stirring the jam pan!)

Sunday 20 April 2014

Happy Easter!

Christ is risen and I have broken my Lenten fast.  40 grade C denim shirts are on their way.  Sigh.  I've picked up some interfacing and bias binding for the first few projects.  I may do some browsing later on for items at 99p and not much postage that would be useful.

We went to do some clearing at uncle's house.  It was incredibly depressing.  We had to throw a lot of things out that were covered with mold and mildew or that had been attacked by mice.  There were plenty of things that had been lovely but were now so pitted by rust that they were only fit for recycling - no charity shop would even take them.

So we got rid of things like empty envelopes from 1958 and the like and filled a huge Hippo bag.  We filled one of these in three hours.

It's about the size of a mini skip.

I brought back a few bits of clothing for uncle, there wasn't much and some I rejected as it was full of mildew.  I can cope with a few spots, but these were riddled and I don't want to take anything into a home full of vulnerable people.

Bear ran around solid all afternoon playing football with DH.  He is completely exhausted this morning, and poor DH is as well - he didn't sleep last night at all.  As Liverpool FC are playing this afternoon in a vital match I expect father to be occupied this afternoon anyway.  I think it is going to be a quiet day.

Friday 18 April 2014

Good Friday

We are having fish for dinner, so that is something.  Bear had his face painted in the park this morning and went to visit uncle.  He came away with an Easter Egg presented by the staff - which he insisted on sharing with the little lad next door but two.

I am lining up things on ebay.  It probably isn't in the spirit of Lent, but I hope I have saved a little from all the impulse buys I have avoided.  I just need to avoid getting silly on Sunday.  I have a seam ripper in mind, and a bundle of cottons.  I have made a list for what I need for the start of the Half Yard Heaven book, and it includes vast quantities of bias binding and a zip.  I have no idea how to do a zip.  This could get very scary.  However I am taking this as a way to learn how to sew, which is why I am getting very inexpensive zips that will probably jam and using second hand duvets for fabric until I know what I am doing.  Then maybe I can get the Cath Kidston fabric in the pictures without worrying about making a mess.

Father and DH are happening in the garden.  I left them to it and carried on with the huge mountain of ironing that once cleared will give me the space to sort out the dining room which is where the sewing machine is going to to.  Hopefully.

I am a bit worried that I have taken on a hobby that is an excuse to mound up half finished projects and buy cheap bits on ebay.  Still, at least the curtains will be sorted.

Thursday 17 April 2014

Morning Well Spent

Bear needed new shoes for school as his had rubbed a blister into his toe.  They were getting very battered.  I suspect that it may have been a seam on the sock that caused the sore as I don't think his new shoes are much bigger.  However I gave in and dragged bear to town.

Bear did not want to go into town.  He really didn't want to go.  He wanted to stay at home and watch Donald Duck on YouTube.  It needs dynamite to get him out of the house sometimes.  However I dragged him off  and on to the bus and we got off near TK Maxx.  I thought for a moment and then we dived in because bear needs new jeans.

I am never taking bear into TK Maxx again ever.  I was looking doubtfully at the jeans.  The jeans in Matalan or M&S are around £8-10 though I think I may get some cheaper ones at Tesco or Asda.  I usually get them at a less expensive price on my friend ebay that I gave up for Lent.  I looked at some of the prices.  Who on earth pays £40 for a pair of jeans for a seven year old?  That seems an utter fortune to me.  It is only a few years ago I got an entire summer wardrobe for bear for £50.  I got cashback on that as well!  The jeans were reduced from £40 to £14.99 and bear schmoozed me into getting them.  Yes they are lovely, yes they do feel much nicer than most, yes they are a lovely weight, and they probably have resale value on ebay but £14.99!  They are Bench jeans.  I have an awful sinking feeling that bear could get into designer stuff.

On the way out I pointed at one of the sculptures and said, 'That's a nice horse.'

'That's not a horse, it's just a pile of wood.' Bear said dismissively.  I checked that he was seeing what I was seeing.  'Yeah, it looks like a horse, but it isn't one really.'  So at least he doesn't have a craving for ornaments that cost £80.

Bear does not like leaving the house.  Today there was £14.99 on jeans, £9.99 on a gun, £40 for school shoes and £4.99 for a history book (which to be fair he has been fascinated with since we got home).  Then there was the bus fares at £6.30, £1 for bananas for uncle, £3.90 spent at Subway for lunch, and another 50p for a cake when bear staggered to a near collapse luckily just outside a cake shop.  He may get to stay in more.

The jeans are probably a good buy.  They have massive turn ups designed to be let down and as bear is such a slim jim despite his best efforts they will probably last for some time.  His other jeans are coming from ebay, though. Even with postage it is a lot less expensive.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

The Bees Have Gone

I'm not doing well in only blogging upbeat stuff.

I had a look yesterday and there is no sign of the bees in the chimney.  They have been there for years, and they are such a fixture now that I feel bereft.  I miss them.  Also I feel that I have lost a little distinction - I no longer have bees in my chimney.

One reason I was checking was that we have fruit trees now.  Father insisted on planting two next to the house.  This is the apple that is supposed to produce apples that are red all the way through.

If all of those blossom fruit it will be a crop (but it is likely to bear hard on the branches so they may need to be thinned if they all go to fruit).

This is the damson.

There was less blossom on this, so I predict a crop of around four damsons, all things being equal.

We brought an apple tree back from uncle's garden.  It was bought for bear, so it was important.  It is in a pot so I will be watering like crazy over the year - I daren't lose it!  It seems to have survived the journey as it has more leaves and is showing a few hints of blossom.

It is conveniently next to the kitchen window (at the bottom of the picture).

Father has a very bad tummy again and is looking frail.  Bear is pitching not to leave the house.  Someone needs to get weedkiller and mildew treatment from town, pick up bananas and deliver them to uncle and somehow get started on clearing the area where the sewing machine has to go.  I am not spending £58.65 to just have it sit in a box, but it needs a bit of space.

The sun is shining.  It's all possible.

Tuesday 15 April 2014


I've been pottering around changing passwords.  I'm quite strict about passwords, they are usually grouped into types and anything to do with money is definitely different from everything else.  However after the Heartbleed news I thought I had better do the right thing.

After a while I realised that I had far too many accounts.  I have blogs and emails and forums and I feel a bit snowed under.  I have to grit my teeth when the change is awkward as well, when I've knocked caps lock on or forgotten a security thing.  I keep remembering how embarrassed I was logging into Amazon when after a particularly trying attempt I used something very rude as my password.  That helps to keep me on the straight and narrow (and polite!).

Which reminds me, I have two Amazon accounts (write and reader) so off to do those as well.

Monday 14 April 2014

It's here!

The sewing machine has arrived.  I am looking at it as I type.

Now all I need to do is clear a space to use the thing.  If I clear the big wooden table then it will be ideal for sewing and cutting out.  To do that I need to clear my dining room.  It's going to take days.

I just deleted a huge lump of text explaining exactly why getting it all sorted is going to take ages.  I am determined to write only positive.  I have something to aim for.  I don't want to spend £58.65 plus the money for the old duvet covers and just waste it.  I am looking forward to learning something new.

On another note, the local church runs a card making group on Monday evenings.  I am a bit reluctant as I am not keen to get into another craft, but I may do it in a lukewarm fashion.  I think it is important for bear to see that mums do go out, and it is just at the end of the street and unlikely to be expensive.  I am thinking about that.  I shall hold fire on that, though, until the sewing machine is up, running and productive!

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday 13 April 2014

Still waiting

I have still not received my sewing machine, and I probably won't for a few days which gives me time to clear a space for it.  I have also bought very inexpensively a book called 'Half a Yard Heaven' which is a book of small projects.

Sweet Blondie Blue Eyes - I nearly fell off my chair when I saw how much you paid for your sewing machine!  I suspect you are right, you get what you pay for.  I am holding back on getting a more expensive machine until I know I am going to get the use out of it.

I know that already I won't be able to do one project that I have found - a bottle carrier.  The pattern tells you to quilt the fabric and my machine is only supposed to go up to 6mm thickness.  Sewing two or three thicknesses of quilted fabric isn't going to work, but that's okay. I may try making it in fleece.

Yesterday I bought two duvets from a charity shop for £8 (and a t-shirt for bear, he will look gorgeous), and I thought when the machine does come it would be great to start with those.  I shall go on ebay after Easter to say hello to my friend and get a bulk lot of bias binding which features very heavily in the patterns.

I am going to have a go at the projects in the book using the material from the duvet covers to get used to the machine.  It's a case of 'Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway'.  Then I have curtains to shorten in the two downstairs rooms and curtains to make for DH's room.  I'll have to hem them by hand as the machine would never take the three thicknesses of a double folded hem, but I would do that anyway and a bit of herringbone hem stitch doesn't take long.

After that I will be starting my first real project - winciette pyjamas/nightie.  I haven't been able to get them for me and I really feel the cold at night.  I shall look for Kwik Fit Patterns (thank you rabbitquilter) and keep my fingers crossed.  It will probably be winter again by the time I get to those, as I am not planning on hurrying.

Friday 11 April 2014

I've ordered it

I seem to have lost rabbitquitter's comment, but both she and sweet blondie blue eyes recommend David Drummond on 0131 3131002 and I wish I had seen that first as I really respect both of their opinions.

As it was I have ordered a Brother LS14

I took the picture from Amazon but I actually ordered it from Hobbycraft with a 15% discount off my first order, so it cost £58.65 with free delivery.  It seems like a lot of money to me.  So I will do the curtains when that arrives, then it will be time to get it to earn its keep.

I had a brief look through patterns on ebay (I would normally only buy a pattern in a fabric shop) and I managed to depress myself thoroughly.  I never wear skirts.  I am not sure how a poncho would be viewed n the school yard at pick up and drop off time.  I am really not sure about the tops as I have a ahem fuller figure and I would need to do a lot of fiddling with darts.  I prefer jeans and I am not sure how well I would do at trousers.  As for fancy frocks, I never go anywhere and I am quite happy with that.

I am sure I will work something out.  DH is very happy for me to have a go at things, so it should be good.  My first project may well be a tablecloth which in the past I have sewn the hem by hand but it is bound to be easier with a machine. After that I may look for courses.  It would be very healthy for me to get out.

I think I shall look at this as a good opportunity.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Sewing Machine

Lesley - we so need a sewingmachineaphobe support group (SSG)  I have seen a sewing machine.  It is apparently okay, has okayish reviews on Amazon, is comparatively inexpensive.  I got rid of three just recently, but they were not fit for spares.  This one looks sort of safe.  If anyone has any suggestions please comment as I am completely in the wilderness with this.

The picture is from Amazon which is standing in as my friend.

I have been doing the thinking.  I want a new machine that can manage curtains.  It has to be new because that way I am reassured that the bits and manual match.  I don't know enough to make a guess about stuff.  If I had more confidence and knowledge then perhaps I could risk used.  I also need to have something that can cope with curtains as that is my most likely target.

I shall make myself some brushed cotton pyjamas and some brushed cotton nighties because I can never find them in my size and I feel the cold.  I shall make a patchwork quilt, not the standard American style quilt but the one that they had on Wartime Farm where they fill little bags with stuffing and then sew them together.  I remember seeing a picture of a quilt made entirely from ties from a charity shop, and I quite like that idea.  The ebay shop that sold me the bulk lot of sweaters also sells bulk lots of used denim and I quite like the idea of a denim quilt as well.

I shall be brave!

(I'll let you know when I've had the courage to order one)

Sewing Bee

I was watching the final of the Great British Sewing Bee last night.  I was entranced.  Interestingly so was DH.  He loves watching experts using arcane techniques.  To us, the techniques seemed pretty arcane.  

One thing that struck me was how expensive it could be.  Just to equip the shelves with fabric must have cost thousands, even at trade rates.  I don't want to put anything about the final in case anyone reading hasn't seen it but wants to, but in earlier episodes there were dresses and outfits using things like silk that would have cost a fortune just for a metre.  I've haunted a few fabric stalls and shops for stuff for soft furnishings and I don't think much that they used was less than £10 a metre.  

I watched the stuff with awe, but while I am tempted by the pretty colours, I know my limitations.  First of all, I am scared of sewing machines.  I never in the few terms I had sewing lessons managed to thread the thing right, then it would shoot away from me.  There was also the stand up screaming match between my mother and the sewing teacher about the correct way to interpret a pattern, it didn't really help.

Then neither bear, DH or father would ever wear anything I made.  When you can get some reasonable t-shirts for bear for less than I would pay for the cloth it seems silly to try and sew for him.  As for me, I have an interesting figure which would need all sorts of alterations to patterns and I can still pick up clothes cheaper.  I love knitting myself sweaters, but I can't usually find the ones I like for a reasonable price anyway, so it is not so bad.  

I still fancy having a go though.  
Janet - I never thought of doing that!  And it is a great way of storing half used tins as well.  I never remember to save the tops.It sounds like a great opportunity for me to do my stripey jellies.  I haven't done those for a long time.  Thank you!

Morgan - It was a huge stock of AF loo rolls that have now run down.  I've noted some on Amazon - pack of 48 for £11.33 + £2.83 but they don't get good reviews for quality.  Then again (talk about weighing things up!) I daren't get the thicker stuff as there is a funny bend in the toilet waste pipe and I am not in a hurry to get it blocked.  Some of the reviews made me wonder what people expect from loo roll.  Personally I have a seven year old son and I am not using anything except thin for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Not Stopping the Shopping

I'm down to my last 36 rolls of toilet paper.  I am irrationally twitchy.

Bear has demolished a whole punnet of grapes, a satsuma and a pear as well as making a determined effort to eat his own body weight in sugar.  I am so glad that he's eating he is getting any food into him that he's getting away with murder.  Well, he's getting away with chews, lollipops and cake bars.  Mind you, he insisted on having mashed swede and carrot tonight.  It's his new favourite dish and he prefers it to chips.  So tomorrow I will be getting a delivery that includes swedes, carrots, pears, grapes and nutella.

I hadn't bought any nutella for ages then I stumbled across this recipe here and needed some nutella.  I haven't made the nutella mug cakes yet, but it's only a matter of time and keeping bear occupied with something.  However the nutella jar/glasses have a lovely new shape.  I am wondering how bad I would be to get lots of jars of nutella that doesn't go off that quickly, and that wouldn't have much chance to anyway, just so I could get a large quantity of lovely new glasses.  All our smaller tumblers are old nutella jars.  They are brilliant - they are a nice size, do not break easily and look stylish.  The new ones look even more stylish.

I got the image from the official nutella site.  They didn't have any recipes.  Perhaps it is just as well.

Regardless, I am off to research toilet paper.

Sunday 6 April 2014

A Quiet Sunday

Thank you for hugs.  DH is now suffering from the D&V.

My ironing board cover has lots of tiny pin prick holes all over it and looks like it has woodworm.  I have absolutely no idea where that came from but I am going to have to allocate the evenings next week to getting back on top of the ironing.  At the moment I can't actually reach the tumble drier for heaps of ironing.

I have found a linky for home made tumble drier sheets.  This is untested.  I use white vinegar for fabric conditioner and it does us fine but I have to tumble dry DH's gym kit due to time constraints and the clothes were feeling quite scratchy so I bought some comparatively inexpensive tumble drier sheets.  Then I found that you can cut up a household sponge or use a J-cloth or face flannel and leave them to soak in fabric conditioner and when you actually tumble dry something you just squeeze the sponge/cloth and bung it in with the clothes.  When you pull the clothes out you put the sponge/cloth back in the tub of fabric conditioner.  Some recipes suggest diluting the fabric conditioner, but I am not sure about that.  I will only be using it for DH's gym kit as everything else is either line dried, dried on the clothes airer, dried on the heated airer or tumble dried without the benefit of scented chemicals and they are fine.  It will be a while before the small pack of drier sheets run out, so I thought I would share now.

Saturday 5 April 2014

Not finding a bright side.

Father has just had a fall.  He went out to get the paper to pick his winners for the Grand National (just because he goes to a Methodist Church which forbids alcohol and gambling doesn't mean he won't drink and gamble) and as he crossed the road a motorbike came out of nowhere (and this road is notorious for it).  Father stepped back and fell over the curb.  He says he is fine.  I am worried sick.

Bear is visiting B&Q with DH to buy his own screwdriver as he still wants to unscrew things.  I am nervously looking at our furniture and I think we'll be safe.

I didn't want to blog until I could put something positive down.  Finding it tough.  Bear has been off school for a full week with D&V.  After the tonsilitis school are going to be writing letters about attendance.  I am more stressed by trying to get the street clear enough so that when Asda delivery three litre bottles of whisky and nothing else (the driver gave me a Look) then they can at least reach the house.  Nice Mrs Next Door has been having words with her husband who is lovely and I think the count of cars being mended is down to nearly single figures.  It was so tough when DH wanted to give me a lift to uncle last weekend when he was so poorly and we couldn't get out as cars had filled the street so much, including one that was just left in the middle of the road.  It took twenty minutes to get out.

Bear challenged me to several rounds of Snap! and I was happy to be a bit slower than expected.  I then found out from DH that he had been teaching bear how to palm cards.  He has also taught him out to play brag.  I may be getting other letters from school.

Posting may be a bit hit and miss.  I am determined to be positively posting.  I apologise for gaps because I am always grateful and thankful that people read my witterings and that so many kind, supportive and lovely people comment.  However a fortnight of bear on holiday will surely provide something positive to post.

Friday 4 April 2014

We have spent £180 on whisky in the last two days.  It is a good deal.  It had better last until June.

Sometimes I want to hide under a table and whimper at how much this sort of rubbish costs us.

Tuesday 1 April 2014


I'm going to have to pause blogging for a few weeks.  Normal service will be resumed shortly.  Hopefully popping in to see your blogs in the meantime.