Wednesday, 30 September 2015

By the light of the harvest sun

Today was an early start - I woke up at 5:30am and, knowing that I had to be up and out of the house by 8am anyway, I made the ultimate sacrifice and got up.  I guess that if this was a regular occurrence then the heating would be on by now!  Having not been able to do my TAST stitching yesterday I sat and completed both stitches - Barred chain and Alternating barred chain stitch - in other words the two brown chains here that look more like thorns / barbed wire to me - I guess that's where the name comes from!

So - why 8am I hear you say?  Well it's school day - my Creative Textiles course where we are still experimenting with creating different surfaces and making marks on them.  I was really pleased with my scrunched up paper and wax effects - but the bubbles were wonderful (I guess that you had to be there).  Cue lots of mucky hands!  We also got our sketch books and our homework is to stick these different examples into the books to create some form of directory.  She has threatened that next week we will start sewing and trying to create some of these squares with fabric and sewing - oops!

Lunch was the homemade leek and potato soup with cottage cheese scones and, I must confess, a little nap.  However then it was time to go and fill the car up with petrol before walking the dogs at the beach.  I cannot believe how economical the car is - I have just put £20 of diesel in and the screen predicts that I can now do an extra 200 miles going at everyday speeds - that's 10p per mile!  Equally I cannot believe this sunshine that we are enjoying - as I drive to and from the beach the harvest is being gathered in and I am presuming that the farmers are glad of the good weather

Dinner is French Style Chicken with peas and bacon - a good, old fashioned standby which incorporates lettuce - don't knock it if you haven't tried it.  I make it Slimming World style and I must confess that I am expecting a weight loss this week - although I haven't weighed myself at home!  Apart from the wine yesterday (and then I didn't have tea because I still felt full from lunch) this week I have really tried.

Tonight?  Well it's a church meeting with the Archdeacon - our Vicar is leaving and the meeting is to discuss the vacancy and what kind of replacement we would like advertising for.  Since the existing person looks after 7 parishes for half the week and is agricultural chaplain for the other half then I guess its superwoman / man then!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Sober October - no problem!

Today started very dull - weather wise. I got up and the first job was to sew the strips together ready for tonight.  I only had to undo two of the 8 diamonds - not too bad but I was aware that I was working with a bias edge and there was a high probability of it stretching and going out of line.  I then put the diamonds together to see where I was heading - hopefully tonight I will manage to sew these diamonds together to make the star!!

The next task was to finish my homework for my Creative Textiles class tomorrow - cue more cutting and sticking (who doesn't leave their homework until the last minute?)

However the main event for today was lunch out with several friends at Di's house - a retired ex colleague.  Apart from the lovely conversation and catch up, we enjoyed a wonderful beef stew with truffle mash plus a low calorie raspberry and lemon crème brulee - oh and several bottles of alcohol - well there was five of us (Although one was driving and I was the only one drinking white wine - oops!).  It's days like this - with some warmth left in the sun so that we can eat outside - that remind me how lucky I am to have retired!

Tonight, as I have said, is our sewing class.  Perhaps I need to drink a coffee or two first!!  I was pleased to come home to these packages though - school related fabric ready for my May block!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Times - they are a-changing

Okay - so lets start with a warning - I am getting on my soapbox here and need to vent!

View from the church hall
Nicknamed "Colditz"
When I took early retirement it was from a small village secondary school - the sort that most people don't seem to believe still existed.  Staff had no concerns about giving students keys to offices / cars to go and get forgotten items - there was an absolute trust which was rarely abused.  Some of our students came from damaged backgrounds and we wanted to show them another way.  Our fences were small and our gates always open - we wanted the village to feel free to pop in and talk to us about any concerns - safe in the knowledge that something would be done about it.  You can therefore imagine the consternation when these fences were erected!

Within the school there were many wonderful staff - both teachers and support staff.  One member of the support team worked with both students and families to ensure that the children were safe and could access the education we provided - she even went to some length to get a house carpeted with second hand carpets and a new fridge and cooker - all donated from other parents - we were a huge family supporting each other.  Looking at her facebook comments, however, it would appear that this member of staff is getting increasingly depressed - clearly the new academy does not value this aspect of school life.  As a nation we have a choice - all schools can become exam factories where those who fail are discarded with no low skill jobs to prop them up - or we can pay attention to the emotional intelligence of our youngsters and produce good citizens.  Since only one route is reflected in a league table then I guess that I know which way we will go but ..........

So - that's rant number 1 over but here goes rant number 2.......

I went to the doctors about my swollen head and the only appointment I could get was with the nurse practitioner - not a problem - I have always found them as useful as the doctors.  She believed that the swelling indicated that the Temporal Arteritis was back and that I should blast it with 40 mg of steroids (currently I am on 2 mg and once you've used such a large dose you can't suddenly go back - its a gradual reduction so clearly I was concerned at this plan - but if it was TA then I could go blind so I guess you pay your money and take your choice!)  To be on the safe side she also wanted me to get a friend to drive me to A & E so that they could examine my eyesight and check what's going on behind my eye.  So, off I went (I drove myself of course!)  After a two hour wait I was seen by a doctor who declared the nurse to be wrong, its not TA, I should stay on 2mg of steroids but monitor and if the pain increases then go back to the doctors / Scunthorpe A & E where they have a neurology department - all very confusing.  He also pointed out that they didn't have the equipment to look at the eye.  But here comes the rant - the doctor was very overweight, hardly fitted in the chair and smelt of BO - not nice things to say I know but it gives you the background behind his comment about my weight (which I agreed with) and his hypothesis that I sleep too much on my left side and am putting all my weight on my temples.  Now let's just think about that one - I can only think of a bat which might sleep in that position - if only they didn't hang - how ridiculous!  Suffice it to say I am no better off that when I started but I am dammed if I am going to increase the steroids unless its absolutely necessarily!

So - grumpy old woman over - its been a stressful day!!  On a more positive note Dangermouse is back at 6pm on CBBC and Strictly Come Dancing - It Takes Two is back at 6:30pm on BBC 2 - what bliss!

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Highly creative - what a lovely day

What a lovely start to the morning I had - Mandy Shaw was on Create and Craft and I sat there catching up with my TAST stitches.  I already had the book that she was promoting - it is stunning - particularly the last wreath where everything is collected together (not a post it note this year - must resist!) and so could just enjoy the advice that she was dispensing.  In terms of the TAST project I have now caught up and am ready for the next stitch on Tuesday.  As I have said before I am endeavouring to complete a stand alone piece and trying to be creative - lets see how this turns out!!

After dressing etc, I had an hour before I had to leave for church - so I set to preparing lunch.  Hardly newsworthy you may say but this included using my soup kettle for the first time - I made the afore mentioned leek and potato soup and made some slimming world syn free scones to go with it (A packet of smash, a pot of cottage cheese with two eggs, two beaten eggs - all mixed together and shaped into scones - bake at 180 degrees until brown.  Truthfully the cottage cheese would have gone out of date by tomorrow so needed using up.  There were, however, strange noises from the kitchen - I had set the soup kettle to make a smooth soup and the book assured me that in 21 minutes that is what would be delivered - all I had to do was to chop 700g of veg, add water up to 1.6 l and some stock powder - simples!  As you can see from this photo - taken just as I lifted the lid - that's exactly what happened - I guess that's the next few days meals sorted then.  My next attempt is a chunky lamb broth using 75g of lamb mince - It's on the shopping list for next weekend.  I can also report that it cleans very easily with a quick wash - I am very impressed - oh and it tasted VVVV nice!

Today's church service was slightly different.  We always serve coffee and biscuits after the service but, today, we had a reason to stay behind - the christening of Edward Green - the baby son of our churchwarden, Michelle - a lovely lady who is devoted to the church, extremely energetic and mother of three children under 5 - where does she get that energy?  Now you can see why I had to get lunch ready early.

I was also lucky enough to receive a little present from Janet and Ian - he gardeners.  They had gone on holiday to Cornwall and brought me back my own cream tea.  They have put it in the freezer so the cream may not be so good but it was a wonderful thought!

This afternoon the sea mist had lifted and it turned into a beautiful day.  The gardens both needed mowing (I keep hoping that this will be the last cut) and the table centrepiece needed finishing - so after a busy afternoon it was time to curl up on the sofa - I had recorded the BBC, Colin Firth edition, of Pride and Predjudice on the Drama - cue some girly oohs and aahs!

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Patchwork and Mr Darcy - who could ask for anything more?

Product DetailsProduct DetailsLast night was book club night where we discussed both the book for August (Pride and Prejudice) and September (The tea shop on the corner by Milly Johnson).  I guess that both books might be called chick lit for their different generations but were enjoyed nevertheless - particularly September's title which reduced most people to tears.  Of course we stayed on to do the quiz in the pub and, naturally , we won - not my team of course but we all shared the prize (£20 voucher off our meals - all in all a good night!).

So - onto today.  Being the last Saturday in September it was time for our monthly patchwork class at West Ashby.  You may recall from before that every month we complete an increasingly difficult 14 inch star block - but I have chosen to have my blocks to represent each month.  Hence this month the block involved partial seams as the techniques and I included some hand sewing in the centre to remind me of my "sewing retreat" earlier in the month.  I was doing well - until it suddenly wouldn't go together - cue lots of unpicking, sewing, unpicking again, cursing etc - before starting again - at which point it worked perfectly - grrrrrrr.  We  have 4 blocks to complete (we didn't have a class in May) and now need to think about a border for each block and the colour of sashing to use - oh as well as making up our own backing from our scrap box!  Not much then.

Whilst I was there I made a start on a craft group project.  In a couple of weeks they have to make a table centrepiece (yes another post it note!) so I have started on the front - now I need to back it, add wadding, turn it through, top stitch and add a centrepiece - again not much then - oh and all by Monday!

Tonight I am planning on lighting the fire and settling down in front of Strictly and trying some more TAST stitches - although I might just flick over now and then and check on England's score in the rugby!

Friday, 25 September 2015

Would you believe it?

Well - some of you with stamina will recall the reason for the title of this blog.  I do believe that I am fulfilling the Fat Quarters aspect - in fact some people would think that I sew too much.  However I am guilty of posting less frequently about weight loss.  That's because, ahem, I seemed to have acquired a few pounds on my holiday and have been working on losing them and trying to get back on track.  Last night, at Slimming World, I can reveal that I lost 1.5 pounds - meaning that I have lost the gained weight - plus a little.  Actually I am half a pound away from my first stone.  In fact I was even awarded this certificate last night - go me!  Now don't get me wrong - I only have 35 weeks left of this retirement year and still have 86.5 pounds to lose to achieve my goal of 100 pounds - an average of 2.5 pounds a week - which is a big ask!  However today saw me clear out the fridge, meal plan and then shop for some lovely healthy dishes - I am focussed this week!

After the shopping was completed, I then popped into the hospital for my monthly blood test.  Whilst there I mentioned to the nurse that I have a swelling on the side of the head which hurts to touch - she advised me to make an appointment with the GP (I am beginning to feel like a real hypochondriac!)  When I popped to the doctors to make the appointment I was asked if it was an emergency - I said I have no idea if it is since I didn't know what it was - duh!  It would appear that the surgery is not open on a Friday afternoon and so have an appointment on Monday.  Hopefully the swelling has gone by then.  On a more positive note the mouth infection seems to have cleared up and the headaches haven't returned.  Basically - I think that I am falling apart!

Apart from sorting the car out and getting the fabric etc ready for the patchwork class tomorrow, that is basically my day - I didn't sleep well last night and so feel absolutely shattered.  If truth be told I might have napped just a bit on the sofa !  Tonight is the book club meeting at the pub (I've chosen lamb shank - don't fret I won't have a pudding) although I must confess that my heart is with tonight's first Strictly programme - guess that's why I need to record it then!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Another post-it note bites the dust!

Well - lets start with last night.  The girls came round and I lit the fire for the first time this autumn - I think that the pooches were chilled!  Jean managed to finish her bag - well just a little top stitching to go - not bad for someone awaiting a hand operation!  Its a baby bag for her granddaughter who is expecting Jean's first great-grandson.

So - onto today - and I started my TAST project - starting with a fly stitch and a button hole stitch.  I had forgotten how much I love the peace and serenity of embroidery.  I have no idea what it will be in the end - which is doing my head in- I am trying to be creative and free of constraints!  I liked, however the idea of lengthening and shortening the buttonhole stitch - rather than the traditional version

Next up was a quick trip to the farm shop - I say shop but its more of an outside garage on a farm - but the vegetables are fantastic and cheap - one advantage of living in Lincolnshire.  Normally I would buy a bag of potatoes and a bag of carrots - but they had no carrots!!!  Their carrots had been poor this year and they are investigating buying them in to sell - :(  However you may recall that I bought a soup maker so bought some potatoes and leeks - guess which flavour then?

After a dog walk in this Indian Summer that we seem to be enjoying (yes Katie took herself home again - I even had a concerned driver stopping me and asking if I had lost a golden retriever - I think her days of walking around the field off the lead may be over),  I set to in the kitchen.  I have a stainless steel hood over the cooker which was a little splattered with paint from the decorator so needed cleaning up.  I also bought some stainless steel wipes to try and buff up the hood.  Previously I had been using Johnson Baby Oil - which brings the hood up a treat (get me - "domestic tips r me"!).  Judging by the state of wipes though - there was an awful lot of kitchen grease!

After a late lunch (plus a nap and a catch up of Coronation Street shown yesterday) it was time to focus on making the fridge towels that I mentioned yesterday - yep another post-it note task!  Fortunately the tutorial was easy to follow and I had some fabric in which I thought was suitable - Moda 1950's retro style.  Although they are called fridge towels I have tied mine to the cupboard beneath the sink so that I always have a towel to hand to dry my hands on.


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

New ventures - part 2

Wow - where do I start?  I woke up early today and saw that there's a new post from Patchwork Allsorts re TAST - try a new stitch Tuesday - once a week a new embroidery stitch is learnt and practised - what on is completely up to you.  Looking at the suggested facebook page the pictures are inspirational and, ahem, I have asked to join in.  I will need to play catch up for a while but it will be a change to do some embroidery each week. (Yes I know - it wasn't on a post it note - blame that on Christine!)

Why was I up early - well, today I went back to school.  I have enrolled on a creative textiles course - initially for one term but it looks as if it will turn into a year's worth.  The tutor started with trying to get us to make marks on different surfaces - cue cutting, sticking and gluing in - along with homework!  The idea is to cut these scrappy squares out and stick into a sketchbook to use as an aide memoire - ah well - I tried!

When I got home the nice postman had been and delivered this lovely Gail Pan kit.  As you may recall Wendy and I did not go to the first workshop - and wished that we had done.  Karen from Patchwork Chicks kindly put two packs together for us and they arrived today - post it-noteworthy me thinks.

Then it was a phone call that I did not want to make - cancelling my Sky subscription.  Although they tried really hard to keep me - knocking £20 a month off in the end - it felt as if pulling teeth out by myself would have been easier.  However I stuck to my guns and lose Sky in 31 days - I guess that I'd better get the planner programmes watched then!

After a quick tidy around, dog walk and tea it will be time for the girls to come round for their sewing session.  I am really hoping that Jean will be able to finish her baby bag - she just needs some help with the handles - pictures will follow tomorrow!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The kitchen starts (or finishes ) here!

So - thanks to Wendy and Nigel - I have booked next year's holiday for Julia, Trisha and I.  We are trying a Warner Holiday and have booked Littlecote House - near Bath and Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed (guess where we will be visiting then?).  As well as being an historic location, the Country House has its own leisure centre and provides daily and evening activities as part of the package.  The price also includes breakfast and evening meal - sounds almost like a cruise on land!  To get the best price I had to go for one person having a double whilst two share a twin room - we will sort out who has what nearer the time - ironically it was the same price for each person!  Something to look forward to over the winter months and not far from where my parents currently live - now I wonder where the dogs would like to go on holiday - ahem.

Back to today and, frustratingly, I woke up with a massive headache which just wouldn't shift until I had taken two doses of paracetamol.  I am just hoping that this isn't because I reduced the dosage of my prescribed medication  on Saturday - I can't bear the thought of upping them again and therefore prolonging the time spent on them. It also didn't help that workmen have been drilling nearby - it seemed to go on for ever - but probably didn't of course!  However, and with stiff upper lip, the headache didn't get me down.  As I said before, this week my aim is to finish the kitchen and today's task was to sort the blind out.  If you have read this blog before you will recall a catalogue of errors which has, until today, left me with a blind that only works if I stand on a stool and roll it up every morning - I had lost the old "chain".  In the middle of the night, however, I had a flash of brilliance - rather than throwing the old one away I had put it in the washing basket - I know - my mind isn't normal!!  Problem sorted - blind now working.

One of the most commented upon items in recent blogs has been my wardrobe full of post-it notes with people regularly asking me if something is on a post it note.  Well I can report that two post-it notes for September have now been completed and today I finished a third - a Gail Pan Candle Mat from one of her simply Christmas books.  The fourth post it note will be some fridge towels - in green to match the blind.  I'm using this tutorial.

After some lunch, a catch up with the recording of Downton Abbey from Sunday and a dog walk in the lovely autumnal sunshine, it was time to set to and finish scrubbing the Kitchen floor - not the most glamorous of tasks!.  You may recall that the tiles are pitted and hold the dirt - scrubbing the conservatory floor was time well spent and so I wanted to give the kitchen the same treatment.  I also like getting down on ground level and spotting those things that you often miss - look at the bottom of this radiator and the grime that's there - its because there used to be a dog cage in front of the radiator and therefore often got missed - yuk!  anyway - its grime free now - as are the kickboards at the bottom of the units.

Tuesday evening is my Patchwork class where we are attempting the Lone Star quilt - let's just say that I have done my homework but I fear there is worse to come!  I suspect that there are some difficult angles and joints to contend with.

Monday, 21 September 2015

"I'm bored now!"

So - a return to normal in an abnormal world!

For someone who thought that she would need routine but has been revelling in an unstructured world, Monday is rapidly turning into a house cleaning day followed by the new craft group that I have been asked to organise.  As you may recall we met for the first time last week and started on a three week hand stitching project - it was fantastic to see how everyone has done over the week and if anyone has completed any of the 12 pieces.  Although we will continue to meet every week, the meeting at the end of November will focus on putting the banner together - so they have some time!

I was uber impressed that Michelle had made herself a small bag to put her sewing in - particularly when I found out that she's using a £14.99 really basic machine - go her!!

However the schedule that I have drawn up says that in four weeks time they will be making a table centre piece - I guess that I ought to start thinking about making one then as an example and to help explain what materials they need!  My fault I know but .........  Good job its a post it note job then!

The title - well its something that Tanya would often say when she wanted something to stop and move on - it just seemed right to say it today!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

RIP Tanya

Thank you for your words of support yesterday.  Wendy and I had gone to visit our good friend Tanya in hospital - you may recall that she was diagnosed with stage 4 Cancer earlier in the year and we had declared then that we were her A team and she could lean on us - we even joked that my retirement couldn't have come at a better time as I would help her when she needed it.  Wendy had been to see her recently and had been shocked to see how poorly she looked but when we arrived at the hospital we had no idea that she would pass away minutes before our visit.

Having spoken to her partner Alan, it is clear that Tanya was in a lot of pain and became very distressed - he was having lunch with us when she passed away and the nurses were convinced that she had waited until he left to spare him - just like Tanya!  We also feel strongly that we were meant to be there yesterday to support Alan - we had promised to be there until the end after all!

Tanya was a bright, bubbly person with strong opinions.  Cancer is a dreadful disease which has taken her far too soon.  However she truly looked at peace and, I am sure, is now in a much better place.

I wasn't ready to write this yesterday - if only for the fact that her adult children were still driving up from Kent and did not know - whilst, I am sure, they do not read this blog I did not want to take that chance.

Saturday, 19 September 2015


When I saw this picture I just had to include it in today's blog.  One thing that retirement has taught me is to make time for your real friends and be there when they need you - I am certainly blessed with friends that support me!
Last night I spent a lovely evening with my oldest friends - Julia and Trisha.  we met at teacher training college in 1978, holiday together and see each other every 6 weeks or so - even though I live 80 miles away from them.  As you may recall the intention was to go and watch a film - but one look at Trisha and we decided to opt for Pizza Express and a good natter instead.  Trisha wasn't feeling well and had to be up early this morning to go to the airport to pick her daughter up - so could do with an early night.  But work has been extremely stressful recently and I hope that it helped to share the problems - we certainly tried to support her.  One of her concerns is that she is expected to use a seed find of £203 to run a mini business with her class of 9 year olds and turn a profit - all by the end of next month.  Given the amount of work that she has to do for her job we were trying to suggest products to sell which would require minimum supervision - so far we have come up with planted bulbs, sets of colouring books and pencils and cookies in a jar - any other ideas to share?  She does read the blog and would be grateful!
Today has been a difficult day and one that I am not ready to talk about just yet - but, yet again, has been an example of fantastic friendship and the support that friends can offer - even down to the Roast Dinner that Wendy and Nigel have just invited me to!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Ta dah!

Image result for legendWarning - this will be a short blog.  As I said yesterday I am off to meet up with good friends, have dinner and watch a film.  We haven't chosen which one yet but I fancy seeing Legend.  I am a bit worried that the content might be too violent for me but I really like Tom Hardy's work and am intrigued as to how he can play both Kray twins.  Will let you know more tomorrow!

So - the bag is finished!! I know that this has been a very self indulgent week but I have now finished this Gail Pan "Hazel" bag that I started last Sunday.  I was motoring towards completion this morning when I reached the penultimate stage - top stitching.  I lined everything up, used my 1/4 inch foot to ensure that I sewed straight and went for it.  Half an hour later I was still unpicking - I had not changed the colour of thread in the machine and a dull red on cream was just jarring.  As my brother is fond of saying (nearly EVERY time I see him!!) "If a job's worth doing then its worth doing right".  However I am really pleased with the outcome - and trust me - I don't often say that about my work - we stitchers are too fond of pointing out our mistakes to others before they might spot them!

The candle mat is still coming on well - on track to be completed tomorrow and ready for Stitching Buddy to inspect on Sunday.  Once that's finished I do think that Its time to pay some attention to the house improvements - next week I am going to focus on finishing the kitchen - you have been warned!  Mind you - there's always ways to include craft into room décor - have a look at this bath mat!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Onwards and upwards ..

So - last night I started my Gail Pan candle mat - what a delight to sew and so much easier using a hoop as she recommended.  With any luck the hand sewing for this can be finished and the mat made up by the weekend.

This morning started with a visit to the doctors - I know that we used to joke that old people lived at the doctors but I am beginning to feel as if a visit is part of my social life!  Nothing serious, I hope, but I have been having a foul taste in my mouth for a couple of months and it is getting worse.  Apparently its a possible side effect to all the medication that I have to take and they think that I have a mouth infection - cue medication to swirl around in your mouth before swallowing - just to add to all the other pills!  Anyway it was a good opportunity to fill the car up - I am off over to Sheffield tomorrow for a flying visit and would have to drive on fumes otherwise.

Of course all of this meant that I didn't get home much before lunch so took the opportunity to get the house straight and hovered before settling down to an afternoon's worth of sewing.  I really wanted to show you the completed outside of the bag at least!  (Ssh - don't tell anyone - it could be / just might be finished tomorrow - oops I said that out loud!)

Finally - after looking through the book that came yesterday I fell in love with this Christmas quilt (Mum - it matches your Christmas trees!  Just saying x).  What with the Snow Happy Hearts quilt, the Gail Pan quilt and this one life is sure going to be busy next year!

By the way - it did rain yesterday after all - a light shower just when I took the green bin out at 10pm.  Today?  Glorious sunshine again.  Lovely!