Thursday, 31 March 2016

A truly splendid day

Today started well - I woke up to see 8:30am on the alarm clock - I guess that's catch up from the night before then.  Although there had clearly been some frost overnight, the day soon developed into a lovely sunny one.  You may recall from yesterday that I needed to change the fuse on the dryer and see if that would solve my problem - well I can report that it didn't!  However I have a drying rack, now set up in the conservatory, and this nice weather soon has the washing dried.  I also have a kind friend who has offered the use of her dryer tonight!  More of that later.

So - what's a girl to do?  Well this one used the lovely weather and good feelings to catch up with her splendid sampler blocks.  I never tire of turning these pile of scraps ( literally so in this case since the strips are from a moda scrap bag) into a worthwhile product.  My blocks even turned out the requisite 6 1/2 inches for once - that's what comes from taking the barrier off the 1/4 inch foot!

This star took a long time due to its fiddly nature, whereas this pale yellow block is now waiting for the embroidery to be added.

So - all the bocks have now been caught up with (apart from one block which needs to be redone and two that need some embroidery).  Oh, wait, what's that ping?  Ah yes - today's block from Janet Clare - someone that is running a workshop that Sewingbuddy and I are go to at the end of April.  I guess I'd better get that one done as well just to be super on target!!  Fortunately it uses a similar technique to one I used in a previous workshop!

So, you ask, what were the dogs doing whilst I was chained to a sewing machine?  Well, having destroyed her bed in the lounge and her bed in the craft room, Daisy moved herself into the conservatory so that she could run in and out of the garden.  Sometimes falling asleep with big sis, sometimes decamping to her favourite spot in the garden.  I think that we can safely say that Daisy feels at home now!

Tonight I am taking my bag of drying around to Wendy's for an evening of sewing.  It's also the start of our Lynette Anderson mystery block of the month and today we begin to tackle The Log Cabin.  I suspect that I will only manage to get the pattern traced but its a start!

Oh - last night - how did the weigh in go I hear you ask?  well, after a week of cakes, sticky toffee pudding and trifle I lost 3 1/2 lbs - you've gotta love this diet!

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

I've (not) got the power!

Mum and Dad went back today - and have hopefully arrived safely.  After seeing them off, I had a day full of activity planned - cleaning, hoovering, washing and then a sew-fest catching up with those missing Splendid Sampler blocks.  Two loads of washing in everything stopped - it seemed as if I had a power cut!  After checking the lights it became clear that the sockets switch had flipped on the fuse board.  No matter what I did I just couldn't reset it.  In desperation I called an electrician - but he couldn't come until tomorrow morning - that's my freezer in jeopardy then.  I tried a different electrician who could come this afternoon - but couldn't give an exact time. 

It's amazing how much I need electricity - clearly my planned day was out (although my mother suggested that I actually washed up in the sink!!).  I couldn't even have the radio on - the house was very quiet!  Initially I busied myself with some hand sewing and then clearing up an area in the garden before moving inside to start clearing the desk.  It was here that I experienced my (wait for the pun) lightbulb moment.  I came across the instruction sheet for the fuse box which suggested that I unplugged all appliances and then started plugging them in one by one to see what the problem was.  The culprit?  The tumble dryer!  Cue cancelling the electrician - I will try a new fuse later and then buy a new dryer if needs be - phew!

Amongst all of this drama the postman knocked - there was a lovely parcel from one of my favourite fabric shops - my lovely Lynette Anderson fabrics for my block of the month project mmmm.

I must also say a big thankyou to my Dad who, before he left, has mended my step.  For more years than I can remember this step has wobbled and generally been dangerous.  Some quick setting cement later and it feels wonderfully secure - thanks Dad X

Right - now I am off to do another load of washing - wish me luck!!  I might even chance the dishwasher as well!.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

"It's my dream house - I want it NOW!"

Today started gently and I found some time to start with my next Anni Down applique block.  I like to needleturn so use template plastic to cut each piece of fabric out (with a seam allowance), secure each piece with Roxanne basting glue and then hand sew - in my case I will start (and hopefully finish) my handsewing tonight.  well a girl can dream can't she?

Yesterday Dad has suggested that we try to squeeze another house viewing in this morning (we already had one planned for this afternoon).  On paper it looked wonderful but we have thought that before and have been caught out.  This time we were hooked from the moment that we walked up the drive - it just felt like their house.  In fact Mum whispered the words at the start of this post - almost like Violet Elizabeth in "Just William"!  It ticks every criteria on the list - even has its own outdoor barbeque oven - and is in a village with all the amenities that they need.  Let's just hope that they can sell their house in time and make an acceptable offer!

Once in Grimsby it seemed churlish not to stop for coffee and a cake - this time in The Range.  After a lengthy look around I picked up this collapsible craft table.  My aim is to get the craft room decorated in June but clearing the room will be a nightmare - not least because I want to get rid of the large desk that the computer stands on.  I am hoping that this table will double up as a computer table for a short time and provide me with the impetus to get clearing (it all kicks off after my next set of visitors leave next Sunday!).

After lunch at M & S (I know - we slum it - but we did have over £8 in vouchers!), it was time for our second house viewing.  It was a lovely large house and would meet all of the criteria set down.  However it was in a village with no real amenities and, sadly, had quite an aroma of dogs.  Now as a dog owner, I feel sad saying this and I know that such an aroma can be got rid of, but it did tend to colour your judgement - particularly after this morning's experience!  However I can report that the house is on the possible list and will be monitored.  It now all depends on how quickly Mum and Dad's prospective buyers sell their houses and what is available at that point.

Tonight there is a conflict of TV viewing - Dad wants to watch England's match (mainly because the team includes Leicester City players!) but Mum and I don't.  Suffice it to say that I have bought him a set of headphones and will sort out ITV on his laptop!!  I just hope that he doesn't cheer / moan too loudly.  Meanwhile they have started to pack up for their journey home tomorrow - starting with their TEN plastic boxes!! Yes I know there's only nine in the picture - one has already made it into the car!

Monday, 28 March 2016

Mirror, mirror, on the wall - who's the cutest dog of all?

Today my brother, Phil, his wife, Chris, and their two dogs, Penny and Bonnie came over from Manchester for lunch, to meet Daisy and to see how their cockerpoo, Penny, got on with Daisy.  As they arrived and poured in Daisy retreated to the sofa crying loudly and barking - she was not sure at all!  In fact she went to anyone who would cuddle her.  However, slowly and gently she eventually went nose to nose with Penny. 

After which Daisy was bombing around - now it was Penny's turn to hide!

We had a great visit and a lovely lunch of ham, salmon mousse, bread rolls and salad - simple but lovely fayre!  Pudding was - wait for it - a choice of trifle and (drum roll please) sticky toffee pudding.  Most people went for a small bit of each!  The cream cheese flavoured tea cakes were not, sadly, a popular choice!

Today was also an opportunity to swap Easter gifts.  You may recall that I had some secret sewing on the go.  Yesterday and today I gave one of these wall hangings to Mum, Dad, Phil and Chris.  I have never used one of these metal hanging frames before but I am delighted with the way it sets the banner off.

Over lunch we discussed who was the cutest dog - a dangerous topic!  I chose Daisy ( sorry Millie - I love you to bits but no one would describe you as cute!), Dad chose his dog Maisie and Phil chose Penny.  With Mum abstaining, the casting vote was left to Chris - would she choose her own dog Bonnie and force a 4 way tie?  Would she give in to her husband's moral blackmail with a "If you want a lift home which dog is the cutest?" question.  No she just simply spoke the truth and went for Daisy!!

After they had left it was time for an afternoon nap - or at least that's what I thought.  Daisy had other ideas and I gave up when she picked up a plastic shovel and started to chew it - very loudly in Millie's ear!!  Ah well - guess its time to clear up, put the dishwasher on and make myself useful then!!

This evening I have set aside to continue with some appliqueing from the Anni Downs quilt.  Our next Scamblesby meeting is on Sunday and I have done nothing since our last meeting!!  Oops!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Uk weather - changeable!

Let's start with some apologies for not writing a blog yesterday.  To be honest I just ran out of time!  I spent all day at my West Ashby class completing a storage cube for my sewing desk.  I used some gorgeous Makower fabric and was really pleased with the outcome.

Home for 5pm, I just had time for a quick cuppa and to wrap some presents before setting off to The Kings Head in Tealby for my nephew's 21st Birthday meal.  On the way we experienced such a downpour that we could literally not see in font of our screen - dangerous considering that we were approaching a busy junction!  It was a lovely meal, however, shared with a party of 12 - we don't often get the opportunity to have this side of the family all together so we need to relish and enjoy!  I can also recommend the menu - mmmm.  I must also report that the apron was signed - just a few to go then.


Home late, and losing an hours sleep overnight with BST, it was up early to do some more sewing of the secret project (all will be revealed soon I promise) and tidy up the house for our visitors this afternoon. My nephew, Andrew, and his girlfriend, Renee, wanted to have a "doggy date" - bringing their  new dog over to meet Daisy, Millie and Maisie.  Renee's parents came along and, fortunately, the weather was good enough for a lovely walk on the beach followed by a cuppa and biscuits.  Mind you - Andrew tried to smuggle Daisy out under his coat!

Tonight I am planning to bathe Daisy ready for her visitors tomorrow then hope that there's time for some more sewing - I am so far behind on the Splendid Sampler at the moment!

Friday, 25 March 2016

Just call me the DIY queen!

As you are aware , Mum and Dad are spending a few days with me enjoying a break but house hunting at the same time.  I must admit that I tend to regress and allow Mum the enjoyment of looking after me (she will be reading this lol!).  However I really should learn!  Yesterday she kindly tidied and cleaned the kitchen, emptied the dishwasher and told me that she had unblocked the dishwasher but found these two parts floating in the water - were they important?  ???????  We let the dishwasher do a cycle and, yes, they did have a purpose - presumably helping to empty the water out!  Searching through all those old manuals that I would normally throw away but, for some reason, have kept, I was able to sort the parts out, refix them and solve the problem.

This morning was spent looking around another house (lovely and well kept but just not right) and then driving around to see the outside of three others.  One of them, on paper, is perfect but they clearly need to see inside.  Unfortunately the estate agents are closed for the bank holiday so they are hoping to make an appointment tomorrow.  However we did manage to find time to pop into a new eatery for coffee and a cake - I do suffer for my art you know!

Once home, it was time for some housework before heading out for my first WI committee meeting.  I clearly was not on the ball - suddenly I was one of two vice presidents - excuse me?  This came from left field!

Once home, and with a lovely day drawing to a close, I headed out to do some more power washing - it's become my new love!  Although you can see the difference when it's wet - I REALLY love the difference when everything has a chance to dry out!

Tonight's crafting is centred around getting ready for my West Ashby day tomorrow and, if possible, finishing the breast cancer logo on the apron.  I am really beginning to miss my sewing so will enjoy tomorrow!

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Hey Ho, Hey Ho - it's off to Springfields we go .......

Every year, at Easter, Mum and Dad like to pop down the road (about a 3 hour drive round trip!) to Springfield's, in Spalding.  It's a small open aired retail outlet centre and, for years, Dad has gone to his favourite shop to buy some trousers.  So we set off early this morning - with the express purpose of having a nice day out and replenishing the wardrobe!  After an arrival coffee and lemon tart (Dad had lemon and ginger slice just to be different) we quickly realised that the shop had closed - what a catastrophe?  What were we to do?  Well, of course, we are resourceful souls and managed to find somewhere to shop!!  Since we have now started the garden makeover, I bought a bag of bulbs to plant up and a rather nice (don't worry - Mum doesn't like it either!) Cockerel which will stand quite proudly in the garden and add some much needed colour.

The garden centre was also a lovely source of ideas with lots of sayings and trinkets - Wendy I saw this and thought of you!

Once home, and after a quick nap, it was time to look at some details of a house that we are visiting tomorrow.  Dad is intending to draw a venn diagram on  map to focus the search - one of the problems they have is not knowing the area well enough to recognise village names.  However he is leading the methodical approach to house findings.

Tonight's craft - and, yes, I am aware that this blog has been rather empty of craft content - is to continue the embroidery of my apron.  It's an ongoing task!!

By the way, I got a place on the Lynette Anderson workshop and have now booked my hotel - well, it's actually a premier inn but don't hold it against me.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The benefits of a power washer

Today was earmarked to view two properties.  The first one was a very nice three bedroom detached property in a local village.  There was a check list of requirements and it met them all - but!  Sometimes all the check lists in the world can't beat that feeling you have when you know that its right.  My parents haven't discounted it yet but neither have they met their hearts desire.

Steps - before
Steps after
With over 5 hours to spare between viewings, Mum and I set to in the garden.  Whilst Mum collected up pots with a view to potting them up, I assembled the power washer and set to - wow!  First to go were those pesky steps out of the conservatory which had been so slimy in the winter and which caused my fall.  They have come up a treat and, once dry, I will mix up some concrete and fix the wobbly step. 

Next up was the "patio" area - once cleaned I can move the garden table back outside ready for this tropical weather that we are always promised but never seem to have.  With a lot of water and gunge to clear I did an initial sweep, left it to soak away and then brushed it with a stiff brush - I will go over it again of course.

Finally I made a start on the conservatory which was fast becoming covered in a slimy green coating - woosh, one sweep and it had gone.  I forsee hours of fun!

The second property was much more expensive that the first and would not allow for many improvements to be made initially.  Sadly I think that the strong aroma of cigarette smoke did not help its cause!

I must admit, however, to booking a little treat today!  Wendy and I missed a Lynette Anderson workshop last year when Lynette was too poorly to come over.  However she is doing a couple of one day workshops about an hour away from my summer holiday location and the day before the holiday is due to start!  It would seem a crime not to book a place!  Sadly Wendy can't come with me but I am sure that there will be a treat to take back for her.  I just hope that the places haven't all been taken!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

"Stickytoffeepuddinggate"- part 2

So the visitors have arrived and settled in.  Daisy, as ever, is ruling the roost and causing chaos wherever she goes - Maisie just isn't that sure about her!

Today we split up.  Mum and Dad popped into Louth whilst I met up with some old friends for lunch at Dovecote Inn, Laxton.  It's a beautiful pub which serves amazing food - so good, in fact, that I think tea will be forgotten tonight!  I had stilton cheese and mushroom pate with toast and a side salad for starters and lamb rump on a bed of sweet potato mash with pea puree and roasted radicchio.  With coffee and a hand made truffle for afters - plus about two hours of catch up chat - it was a lovely day out.

Once home, it was a quick turn around to take mum and dad out to look at some houses from the outside.  As I have mentioned before, they are hoping to move up to this area and we are visiting two tomorrow for a look inside.

So, I hear you cry, what about "stickytoffeepuddinggate" part 2?  Well Dovecote Inn is the other side of Lincoln - so a call into Waitrose is simply compulsory!  Whilst there I bought a second pudding - which has been under armed guard until it has reached the safety of the fridge.  We don't want a repeat of last weeks episode now do we?  Mind you - the tub of clover spread is no more - the remains of the tub is scattered over the floor of the kitchen.  We will talk no more about it!

Monday, 21 March 2016

"Fools and their money"

You may recall that, yesterday, I had not spent up and not touched the secret stash of money that I took to  the NEC.  Well, of course, there are plenty of ways to use up these funds but .........

Let's start at the beginning!  Wendy and I are just starting out on a mystery block of the month (BOM and yes, I do know that I haven't got time for another commitment but !) - It's a Lynnette Anderson design and every month a pattern and a hand painted button arrives and we applique and embroider - all with no idea how it will turn out.  Yesterday saw us pouring over the fat quarters trying to match "2 strips of blue coordinating fabric" with the choice.  We felt okay about our choices but the fabrics were not Lynette Anderson fabrics - would we be spoiling the final quilt "for a hapoth of tar?"  I.e. before we start we needed to be sure that we were 100% keen on using our fat quarters - otherwise all the efforts in the world would not end up with a quilt that we were happy with.  Reading this you will not, therefore, be surprised that we have succumbed, contacted Patchwork Chicks (who supply the BOM) and have ordered a fabric kit.  Let's just say that there would still have been cash left in my purse - but not much!

Today's activity has been focussed on the arrival of Mum and Dad - tidying, sorting tea, etc - as well as the weekly craft club.  Whilst there I worked a little more on the mystery projects and started to quilt The Splendid Sampler blocks.

Finally I walked the dogs in the most amazingly sunny weather - it pays to tire them out BEFORE the visitors arrive!  Makes life soooo much easier in the long run!

Sunday, 20 March 2016

All the way to Birmingham- and guess what I bought?

We left early at 6:45am ( I woke up at 4:30!!!) and arrived just past 10 - all anxious to bag a bargain!

 I had a list - and a pledge - I was not buying any kits!  One by one the items were quickly ticked off the list.

Fabric for the apron lining

Three hanging kits and some bondaweb

Yellow fabric for my Tuesday evening blocks

Fabric for a block of the month mystery pattern that Wendy and I are completing

Book binding glue so that I can actually complete a kit that I bought nearly two yeas ago!

Cotton thread to explore using my sewing machine to replicate hand sewing.

All were on my list - I was doing good!

Then Wendy surprised me with a lovely gift - this cute kit for a pin cushion (I didn't buy it so I was still technically on target!)

As we wondered around ,we strayed into the cake decorating area and saw wonderful creations such as these:-

and, entering back into the hobbycrafts area, we found this sculptor with the same name as Wendy - spooky!

So - I kept to my pledge and all is well with my world.  I have come home with money in my purse and my secret cash still in its hiding place.  Okay?

Weeeeelllllllllll - there was this one stall FULL of plastic boxes!  I just had to have one with the ability to store cotton threads!!  It's the law!

Shh- Wendy bought two plastic boxes - the contagious disease is spreading!

It's been a lovely day but I am shattered!  Back to normality then!

Saturday, 19 March 2016

A "getting ready" day

With visitors arriving on Monday, and a day out at the NEC tomorrow at the "Sewing for pleasure" event, today was a day to get ready.  First up was a weekly shop - this time including items such as a thick sliced loaf and marmalade for breakfast (visitors) etc - plus a detour to Home Bargains for some puppy training pads.  Luckily Daisy seems to have got through her desire to wee anywhere and will now ask to go out / use the training pads.  They can seem expensive - but if it protects the carpets then it's worth it.  I also managed to buy something for my pack up tomorrow - suddenly you feel like you're going on a school trip again!

Once home, and shopping put away, I made a start on tidying the conservatory.  During the winter period this room tends to become a dumping ground.  The outside table and chairs should be moved out soon - after I have used the power washer to clean the area of course.  I also needed to clear the Horn sewing Cabinet.  I have sold it to a friend and she may come round tomorrow to collect it.

Talking about tomorrow, this afternoon the dog sitter came around to collect a key and check some things out.  I am so grateful that I have good friends who can help me out in this way and allow me the day out knowing that the dogs are well looked after and cared for.

I also did some more work on the mystery projects.  Tonight I am serving Ice Creams etc at the local theatre and some hand sewing is a useful project to take when there's some down time. 

So, an early-ish night, a packed bag and a pack up - all is well with my world and ready for adventure tomorrow.  The visitors on Monday? - well - its ready-ish!

By the way - remember block 10 from the Splendid Sampler?  I decided to use a fancy stitch on the machine, didn't like it, took a seam ripper to it and pulled a thread.  I guess that I will just start again!

I should also say that it's National Quilting Day today - how ironic that I haven't done any quilting - I guess that I have the rest of the year to make up for my folly!

Friday, 18 March 2016

A return to a normal life

One of the perils of writing a daily blog is that some days are just not fun filled, packed with excitement.  Today is one of those days which was just normal.  With a number of guests coming over the next fortnight I tidied the lounge (of Daisy's scraps), the bedroom (of Daisy's scraps) - do you see a pattern emerging yet?  I even cleaned the shower glass - go me! After finishing this entry I will work myself up to taking the hoover upstairs to get the guest bedroom sorted and then we will be ready.

Crafting wise I finished block 10 of The Splendid Sampler but need to press it before deciding whether that unmatched point will annoy me enough to undo it or just cover it up with an embroidery stitch from the sewing machine - possibly the latter since I don't always use this lovely machine to its full extent.  I also did some more hand embroidery on my two mystery projects.

I don't know about you but we have only had tantalising glimpses of the sun today so I wasn't surprised when our walk at the beach turned very windy and cold - as I write the rain clouds are gathering!  Just as well I am planning a night in in front of the fire and sports relief - I have already donated to the charity so can sit back and enjoy. I am particularly intrigued by Michael Crawford's return as "Some mothers do 'ave em" - I understand that he did his own stunts again - at over 70!

One point of 'normality" though - I signed a petition that's being presented to the government about all schools becoming academies.  Nothing unusual I guess but that was something I always shied away from when working so its a nice feeling to find your voice again!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Congratulations baby brother!

Last night I heard the most wonderful news - baby brother Mike (48) proposed to his girlfriend Sue -and the daft lady accepted!  They had been to watch a Leicester City match and he proposed on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral - how romantic!  I haven't met Sue yet - but they are planning a short visit in a couple of weeks time and I look forward to getting to know her.

Today has been a gloriously sunny day (well after the dullness had worn off).  The conservatory doors have been open and Daisy has been bombing in and out of the house - often accompanied by some "treasure" that she's found.  With the sewing cabinet now being in the conservatory, I could take advantage of the sunny weather and enjoy the sunshine as well - both dogs seemed to enjoy lazing around in it!


Today's first job was to complete block 9 of The Splendid Sampler - I just finished it when block 10 was released!

Then it was round to the church to take some heaters that had been delivered elsewhere and onto the local butchers.  These are the butchers that I have mentioned before - beautiful meat and just down the road from me.  After a suggestion from a customer, he announced on facebook that he had a new slimming world friendly sausage (I lost a pound last night by the way) so I just had to get myself some - mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Next on the list of jobs was to book the kennels for a couple of occasions this year, complete some ironing, trace some embroidery patterns and do some more hand sewing before taking the dogs up to the beach.  The embroidery patterns were for the apron that I mentioned yesterday - it fits by the way (well with a nip and tuck you understand!).  This particular one is to raise awareness for breast cancer and I loved the design.

Tonight is my fourth night out on the trot - a meal out with the WI at a local Italian that I have never been to - it will be interesting!