Saturday, 31 October 2015

Who needs Houston International Quilt Festival when you can have Alvingham Village Hall?

My wall hanging
Today was our Tuesday Evening Class Quilt Festival in the afore mentioned Village Hall.  Not just our class f course - but the work of everyone who attends all the classes.  The work was  laid out in order of difficulty from the work of beginners to advanced - Wendy and I were thrilled to see our work in he more advanced section - although I would ay that there were some simply stunning quilts there.  This sampler quilt, for example, is the same as mine - but it is finished and the colours are gorgeous!  Mine is in pieces although it will be nice when its done!  (story of my life!)

The weather has been grey all day and the village was eerily quiet when we got back - so I thought that it would be safe to drive up to the beach and walk the dogs - woooah was  wrong - I have seen emptier car parks outside Tesco's!  Lets just say that I turned around - there was just nowhere to park!  The saving grace is that the schools go back on Monday so normal service can be resumed.

Home again, it was time to continue with the mystery Christmas presents - today went much more smoothly and all three are now half way done!  I was interrupted, however, by the arrival of a new toy.  Partly personal indulgence and partly research on behalf of my mother I ordered the new Kindle fire - the one selling at £50.  The advantage to me is that it is small enough to slip into a handbook and use as an e-reader - rather than my ipad.  However I am extremely impressed with the speed of the internet, the clarity of the video screen and the ease of setting up.  For anyone thinking that something this cheap just can't be good enough - I can assure you that it is.  You can even enlarge the text in the same way as you can with an ipad. 

Friday, 30 October 2015

la la la la la la la

Well - last night went as I thought - I put on 2lbs.  Truthfully I can live with that given my week of eating out - and I was named as slimmer of the month with a total weight loss of 16.5 lbs in October - so I can't complain.  However I have promised myself to be more focussed this week - it's book club tonight and I had ordered steak pie to eat.  However I have contacted them and asked if I could have no pastry and mash rather than chips- every little helps!  On a nicer note, my good friend Denise (we weigh the people in at Slimming world) bought me a gift - a lovely heart banner with little cotton reels in-between - a real "saw this and thought of you" gift - lovely!)

Today started with the making of the church Christmas cake - and filled the house with lovely Christmassy smells - just right when its raining and blowing a gale outside. 

Then I made a start on some felt decorations.  I need to have some mocked up for the craft group on Monday and I am trying Mandy Shaw's technique - double layer of felt - sew around a traced pattern, through the freezer paper, and then remove the paper.  You can then add blanket stitch around the outside as a decorative feature and stuff by making a small slit in the back which you then sew up with ladder stitch.  Guess what I will be doing whilst I watch Strictly tomorrow?

Apart from doing the washing, sorting all the washing up from the cake making and generally tidying up, the rest of the day was spent on these mysterious 3 Christmas presents that I refer to now and then.  Whilst I clearly cannot give details - Sewingbuddy is right when she talks about them being a real labour of love - the recipients should fall at my feet with abject gratitude!!!!!  (Can you tell how many times the seam ripper has been out today!  Can you also see the link between this and the blog title?  It's all self inflicted!!)  So- since I cannot show you photos I will share this little cartoon that Denise found - quite apt really!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Back on track - I think!

My definition of hell would be something akin to ASDA in Grimsby at half term.  Don't get me wrong I have nothing against ASDA or their products - just that the Grimsby store at half term is dreadful.  However, today, I could not avoid it - it was the nearest parking place to a couple of shops I needed so it also made sense to shop there.  I am going a long way around the houses to explain why I was awake so early - the only reasonable time to visit the store this week is EARLY!  The plan worked - there was hardly anyone in the store.  I then went to the fabric store around the corner to get the fabric for my November and December blocks.  My November block is supposed to celebrate watching Mack and Mabel (hence the musical notes) where December is a large bright star on a blue night sky (well in my imagination anyway!)  You can't tell that I like blue and yellow now can you!

Then it was home to the pooches and time to tidy around - including the dreaded washing of the dog beds - hair EVERYWHERE! - before starting to cut out circles of fabric.  It's the WI craft group tonight and we are covering milk bottle tops with fabric and sticking to card to make a Christmas tree - not sure how it will turn out but I will report back tomorrow.

I also loaded a photo of the spare frames that I have now that I have decorated and the pictures no longer suit the décor.  We have a wonderful facebook page here where people can give away unwanted items free for others to utilises - saves the environment by recycling and does everyone a favour.

Then it was the start of the church's Christmas cake - the 12 hour overnight soaking of the dried fruit in brandy (covered of course).   Since the cake will take around 5 hours to cook I need to soak the fruit today and cook tomorrow when I am at home all day.

Finally it's Slimming World tonight.  As you know this week has not exactly been on track but the last few weeks have thrown up some strange results so I have given up predicting.  I should maintain or perhaps put a  pound or two on - but let's just wait and see!  I am taking my tea with me in this dinky flask which you plug in and it reheats the food - I am going straight from slimming world to the craft group so won't have time for tea otherwise.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Warning - grumpy old woman ahead!

Today was a day that I had looked forward to.  Another early start saw me leaving home and driving over to Sheffield - initially to pop into Hobbycraft to buy some supplies for the next workshop and then to do some shopping in Meadowhall. I even managed to pick up a new Duvet set from M & S for £9.50!  (I had a £10 voucher and a £20 gift card from Trisha and Julia so decided to treat myself!).  Next on the agenda was coffee with the afore mentioned good friends before heading off to watch the new James Bond film - Spectre.  All well and good you may say - what's she got to complain about?  Well moan I must - about the constant eating, rustling and slurping throughout the film - we were surrounded and, quite frankly, they might just as well have added that background noise to the soundtrack.  How bad was it?  Well I have driven two hours home, fed the dogs and started tea - and I am still mad.  I am not blaming any age group - there were more mature people behind me unwrapping the noisiest wrappers during the quietest parts of the film - but I am mad that the cinema saw fit to run a pre-film announcement asking everyone to be quiet, turn off phones, not talk etc but then sells all of this junk.  I ask you - can people not sit through a film without munching their way through the equivalent of a three course meal!!!

On a lighter note - yesterday I finished a couple of my wonky house wall hanging panels.  I will add some more detail when I put these two together and then add the buttons towards the end - but it's coming on!

Don't fret - normal service will be resumed tomorrow - or when I stop smelling like a tub of nachos!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Retirement is a hectic way of life!


I woke up early this morning - 5am - with a feeling of guilt.  I hadn't taken the bin out last night and, of course, there were all those black bags from the bedroom to get rid of.  So there was nothing for it but to get up, fill the bin and put it out.  By which time, of course, I was wide awake so sat on the sofa with a cuppa doing today's stitch from TAST - a Wheatear stitch - looks like an ear of wheat but I have used it to look like long flowers - lupins?

It was also time to comb Katie through - anyone with a golden retriever will know how often they need to be groomed and she is starting to drop hair again - as you can see there was a lot of loose hair to put on the fire!

Then it was time to do some more hand sewing - so many of my presents this year require this , before getting ready to go out for lunch.  You would think that after yesterday's escapades I would take a break - no such luck.  I have a busier social life now than ever before - tomorrow I am out again meeting up with Julia and Trisha in Sheffield - its all go! Today some ex colleagues and I went out to lunch - time to spruce myself up me thinks!  We dined at The Livesey Arms, Ludborough (nr Louth).  It is a beautiful pub with some of the finest dining that I have eaten recently. My dishes may not have been Slimming World friendly - but boy were they worth it - soup for tea then!

Ken and Barbara are long standing governors who appointed me back in 1991 and have both now retired from their roles as school Governors.  It was lovely to spend time with them - and Di of course.  We all agreed that retirement is suiting us - Di says that she hasn't stopped smiling for 15 weeks!

Home meant dog walking followed by further work on the wonky houses - I wanted to finish the free machine embroidery, at least,  whilst I have got my "eye in".  However I also had to spend some time filling the green rubbish bin - I may not see enough daylight tomorrow to do the job before Thursday morning!

As to the workshops at Bee Crafty?  Well Sewingbuddy and I decided to give "Machine embroidered and quilted Zen tangling" a go - I am trying to develop my skills of using the free machine embroidery foot to draw on fabric and this should build on yesterday's Wonky House workshop.  It's by the same tutor - Kathleen Laurel Sage - so I know how good she is.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Hands up - who remembers "fuzzy felt"?

As you may be aware, today was a return visit to Bee Crafty and an all day workshop.  As you may recall this entails a 200 mile round trip so the workshop has to be worth it - boy was it!  The basic principle was to create a wonky house wall hanging - similar to this picture.  It entailed a morning of cutting out - by scissors - no measuring or right angles - these are wonky houses after all - and building our houses.  We had ironed bondaweb on first and peeled the backing off so it was glue on felt - which were then ironed down when we were happy with the picture.  As you can see from some of the photos below some people were inspired to create a different picture - some included pumpkins, churches and cats - anything went!

Very "Hatched and Patched " colours
Look at the embroidery detail on the tree

The church even had lead windows

In the afternoon we focussed on free machine embroidery to add details to our houses - before adding some hand embroidery.  Clearly this is a project which will take more time - the next step is to cut the blocks accurately and bind them together before attaching to the backing.  However ideas were flowing around the room and I can already see a winter scene - that's the problem with a long drive - your imagination goes into overdrive!

My efforts - so far!

Would I go again - absolutely - the hosts were very hospital - coffee and tea on tap with biscuits in the afternoon and the tutor was fantastic.  Sensibly I ought to wait until the spring - arriving back in the dark is not pleasant - but not bad enough to put me off if I really wanted to do a workshop!  So this evening I will peruse their offerings - don't be surprised if I have booked another one by tomorrow!

Of course there were also examples of work around the room to inspire you!

By the way - remember my frenetic activity yesterday - well this was the resulting step count - happy with that!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The power of sleep

I have been on fire today!  Armed with ten hours sleep, I was full of energy - cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom, dyeing some felt, doing some hand sewing whilst watching Create and Craft at 8am and then sewing together 81 1 1/2 inch squares - ready to sew into 3 x 3 blocks and finally make a square block for this month's quilt swap - all before 10 am!  I am so impressed with myself - its amazing the energy you get when you have a decent sleep.  Katie, on the other hand, just cuddled up with her soft toy and ignored everyone!  The small squares came from a container that I top up with scrap squares - you would think that it should be empty by now - no chance - its a bottomless pit!

Today is our vicar's last service at our church - she leaves after next Sunday.  Not knowing what to get her - she is moving house so possibly wouldn't appreciate more clutter - I went for the more personal approach - a chocolate emergency stash.  She adores Maltesers so I made her up an emergency Maltesers hamper!  It was also our Lily service where we remember friends and relations who have passed on and dedicate a Lily in their memory.  As their names are read out it is a truly moving experience.

Well the sun was shining when I got home so after a lunch of crumpets and cheese (my brother says its family tradition when the clocks go back - and that excuse is good enough for me) I sat sewing the small squares together to make a block.  There was no point walking the dogs until after three - the car park would have been just too full with seal watchers - so I took advantage of Elaine Paige's Radio 2 show - 2 hours of music from stage and screen - mmmmmmmmm.

Next job was to tidy around the rest of the house and get myself prepared for tomorrow - I am going back to Bee Crafty for a workshop - it will be an all day affair and Jean has kindly offered to pop round and look after the pooches.  The workshop uses hand dyed felt to make a wonky house wall hanging - I am looking forward to trying something different.

Finally - and before settling down to a nice chicken casserole plus veg for tea - I sorted out some Christmas presents.  I think that I am meeting myself coming backwards and so have made a list and am ticking it off.  I know that it seems far away but its two months today and I am starting to panic!  This year we have set a challenge for each other (well for those who will be there at Christmas) - the present should cost no more than £5,have a blue connection and include a challenge.  I suspect that most of us have adapted this but today I was putting together the challenge aspect - no peeking now!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Journal quilting

A couple of months ago I read an article about someone who had created a journal quilt - one piece if A4 quilting per week.  This appealed to me although it would be a lot of work and you would need to devote a lot of time to it.  However my star quilt that we are doing a block a month has become, for me, a journal quilt.  Every month has a memory attached and the fabrics selected with that in mind - apart from the early months of the year which I will need to revisit and personalise.  Today I was working on one to commemorate our visit to Leicester and King Richard III's tomb.   In this picture you can just about make out my efforts - its the red and white block at the top.  Tomorrow, when I have appliqued Richard's white rose in the centre I will let you see it in its full glory.


Sadly I cannot make next month's (Church Christmas Fayre) but have brought the instructions home - I am going to see Mack and Mabel with Michael Ball in November so am tempted to pursue that idea for a design.  However the one for December speaks to me of a star in Bethlehem so I need to start looking for golden star like fabrics in a midnight blue sky full of stars (can you see why a quilter never has the right fabric?)

When I got home from today's sewing it was straight out with the dogs - the evenings are closing in quickly now aren't they and, from tomorrow, things will only get worse.  At this time of year I also have to contend with the tourist traffic coming to look at the seals - sometimes its so bad that you cannot get out of my road but it is an honour to see the seals giving birth.  Mind you it makes walking the dogs at the beach more difficult!

By the way - I slept wonderfully on the new mattress last night - just in case you were wondering.  Don't forget to put your clocks back tonight - an extra hour in bed - mmmmmmm

Friday, 23 October 2015

In the words of Victor Meldrew - "I don't believe it!"

I went to slimming world last night and stepped on the scales.  In the days gone past I would weigh myself every morning so would know what to expect but have gotten myself out of the habit - however we all have an idea of how things will go - right?   In terms of "naughties" I had that nice Costa lunch last Friday, two sausage rolls and a slice of Ev's cake on Sunday, that steak pie lunch on Tuesday and a sausage roll for lunch on Wednesday - so I was fully expecting to put weight on - stay the same at best.  You could have knocked me down with a feather - the scales said 7 pounds down!! Half a stone in a week with what I have eaten - how is that possible?  Don't get me wrong - I will accept that -it makes 32 pounds in total and I am on track to reach midway by Christmas - BUT?????  Consequently I won slimmer of the week and then won the raffle - I left feeling pretty darn good!

Today, you may recall, the new mattress arrived.  I had to stay in between 8am and 6pm (although, as usual, it arrived around 2pm) so it was a good opportunity to get the bedroom finished and, of course, move the bed.  You may wish to look away at the horrors that were revealed but this is what I found!  There was also another cake pan - I am really not sure how they have ended up there but, like the others, they are now washed and put away properly.  The amount of dust and dog hairs was shocking but more so when you see what the handheld dyson picked up AFTER I had hoovered completely.  The shoes have now found a new home at the bottom of the wardrobe and my plan is to keep the space under the bed completely empty.

So - what about the rest of the day you ask.  Well, apart from pushing the hoover around the house, the first priority was to cut out and prepare the pieces for tomorrow's West Ashby Patchwork class - two different blocks so there's a large number of pieces to organise.  Next on the agenda was to complete four tree decorations - the hand sewing takes the time yet these four have been sitting on the side waiting for completion all week.  Then I thought that I ought to complete one of my homework squares.  The pencil marks that I made were differing sized circles so I did different numbers of threads sewn in French knots but used some negative spaces for the larger circles.  Finally I cut out the different rows of my advent project - this Gail Pan wall hanging for my hall.  You may recall that my plan is complete a row a day - starting with the stitchery to give me more time - during December as a countdown to Christmas. It seemed like a good idea at the time but I can't wait to get started now!

However the big news is that I chose today to switch from Sky to Freesat.  You may recall that it had taken ages to get them to release me and I am on a month's notice which finishes in the next few days.  Although the free sat box promised that I would be set up in a jiffy I figured that if I tried to install it today then I have got time to get any missing cables etc - there are always problems aren't there?  Well it appears not!  From opening the box to throwing the empty container away - having checked that everything was working - and including setting some series link recordings - 20 minutes!  Like the title says - I don't believe it!  The Now TV box came with free movies for a month so I got that up and running as well.  The next step is to get used to this change in viewing but I can certainly get used to not paying £50 every month for Sky!

You see - enforced house arrest waiting for a delivery can achieve many things!  Hey - I even had time to book seats for Trisha, Julia and I to watch Spectre next week!  The dogs were walked, the fire lit, pea and ham soup was made for lunch and now I am going to settle down to "practise" watching tv whilst doing some hand sewing.  Life sure is good!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

I'm normal - it's official!

Let's start with last night - the live screening of Henry V by the Royal Shakespeare Company was simply wonderful!  Wendy voiced the opinion that it was better than last week's production of Hamlet - whilst I don't agree Henry V was certainly extremely entertaining and never has three hours gone so quickly - well done to all the cast and crew.  If you get a chance to watch an encore (the play finishes this weekend) then please do so!

So - onto today.  I had a scheduled check up with my consultant - we meet every three months to discuss my Temporal Arteritis and the treatment and clearly needed to talk about my recent spate of headaches (which, of course, have now completely disappeared!)  Before the appointment the nurse took my blood pressure which was 135 over 75 - 75!! I have never been that normal before and got a "Your blood pressure is good - retirement is clearly suiting you" comment - hence the title of the blog - I have a normal blood pressure!!!!!  Mind you the reading was taken before I hit Tesco's and got a wonky wheel on the trolley - it might have been a tad higher if it was taken after!!  Having not done a "big shop" for a couple of weeks the trolley was also fuller than normal - plus the ingredients for a church Christmas cake.  I normally use Delia Smith's recipe for a rich fruit cake - it hasn't let me down yet.  I did, however, have my usual hospital treat of a coffee and a spiced bun from the M & S café - sorry, just couldn't help myself!

Home, followed by unloading the car and putting everything away - then up to the beach with the dogs - and I was shattered so I , ahem, might just have dozed off on the settee for a few minutes or so.  However when I came to it was time to experiment.  I had bought a single sheet of paper-backed fabric and wanted to print out a couple of images for two patchwork blocks that I am completing at the weekend.  I had looked far and wide for white roses - my October block, I decided, was going to reflect our visit to Richard III - and so found an image that I could print off.  I am also going to complete a missing May block and make it school based to commemorate my retirement - so I needed the school badge to go in the centre.  I had never used this product before but it really was as simple as loading a piece of paper into the printer, leaving the ink to dry thoroughly, running it under water and then patting dry and leaving on a towel.  I am very impressed!  It's not cheap but having a sheet or two does add a different dimension to your work and I can see a photo memory quilt would find it very useful.

After cutting out the rest of the pieces for the blocks it will then be time to go to slimming world and facing the music.  After the losses of the last 4 weeks I have no idea how tonight will go - you saw the steak pie after all!  I will report back tomorrow!

Bedroom watch day 5 - there is now an additional black bin bag and all three sections of the wardrobe have had their bottom sections cleared.  Tomorrow the mattress arrives so I am planning on spending the day finishing the project - including the all important bed moving.  You have 24 hours to gird your loins for the under the bed photo!  Mind you I am heartened by the comments that suggest I am not alone.  before anyone judges me - go and look under your bed!

By the way - I didn't mark the special moment yesterday.  This simple blog - subtitled the ramblings of a boring life has just passed the 8000 views mark (currently it's 8068) and the page views have come from around the world.  I can understand if you don't want to comment but thank you for blowing me away with your support   xx

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