Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The end of an era ...

Well today marks the end of my first year of retirement and, possibly, the end of this blog.

When I officially started my retirement on 1st June 2015 it was also the first day after half term so there was a feeling of being on holiday whilst everyone else returned to works.  So what was I up to?  Looking back I was painting the second coat of the conservatory ably assisted by Katie and Millie (my two friends dogs).  It was a lovely hot day and all the windows were open.  The goal for the year was to decorate the whole house, along the way, fix those niggling things that you live with.

So, perhaps, its time for some reflection.  What has happened over the past year? 

  • Well, sadly, Katie has passed away but Daisy has bounded into our lives and turned everything upside down.
  • The conservatory, bathroom, kitchen, lounge, hall and bedroom are all decorated with the final two rooms due to be completed by the end of the summer.  The joy I get from walking into my new lounge still continues - nearly a year on!
  • The mortgage has been paid off!
  • I get to sew most days - in fact some would say that I am obsessed with it!  Not me, however, although plastic boxes may just have taken over my life!
  • My blood pressure is normal every time that it is measured.
  • But more importantly it is the doors that have opened up due to the free time - running the craft group, having time for friends and developing new friendships, the freedom to visit family and friends outside of normal school holidays - even the senior screen every Tuesday.

Stepping off the work roundabout is scary - but it has worked for me and I am having a whale of a time.  Now it just feels like my normality - not an extended holiday anymore.

As for my goals - well the weight loss is only halfway there but I have nearly made the walking target.  However I will continue - as will this blog - now, I couldn't let my mother down now could I?

Monday, 30 May 2016

A diet free zone

Today was a visit to Meadowhall to meet up with Trisha and Julia.  It was our last scheduled meeting before our holiday in August so it was a chance for both a catch up and to review plans.  Coming, as we do, from different places in the uk we organised where to meet up in August on our way to the hotel - a very luxurious Starbucks café!  Of course we met at an M & S café which, naturally, called for a sticky bun or, in my case, a piece of "5 a day" carrot cake!

Jean had travelled over with me - she luuuuves Meadowhall - so whilst she was shopping I mooched around, picking up bargains as I went.  First stop was Lakeland where, following the success of the mini Victoria sandwiches last week, I picked up this loose bottomed mini loaf tin.  The reviews are not as good for the tin so I was in two minds - but it was half price so.........

Then, thinking holiday, I popped into Evans where I was given a store scratch card - which revealed a 20% off prize - that would be handy then!  Mind you I only came out with a pair of trousers and some undies - but every little helps as they say.  The final stop was Boots to pick up some make up.  Now that I am not working every day I don't tend to get through as much but thought that I ought to stock up for the holiday - somehow I ended up with all of these freebies!

As I made my way through M & S back to the car park I walked through the cushion department only to be confronted with this - two Daisy's would just be too scary!

So, now I am home safe and sound - and all spent up.  I guess that I should now turn my attention to the bag but my next task actually involves the upstairs bed.  Last night I posted a picture of it on the freely given facebook site for our area and someone is coming tomorrow afternoon to take it away.  I guess that I ought to check that the drawers are empty first - now that's not actual procrastination now is it?

Sunday, 29 May 2016

and so it continues .............

So - today was the day.  I would get up early, tackle the bag and finish it - all within a day!  Well - that was the aim.  The first obstacle came when I woke up - 8:20am.  Oh - perhaps that was down to the early start yesterday and the activity during the day.  Never mind - have breakfast and get started.

By 10 am, the bobbins had been filled, the zipper foot attached (yes the first step was the worst - put a zip in!), the pieces of fabric lined up and I was ready to go.  'shudder", shudder", "scream" - the machine shuddered to a stop flashing a fault!  Oh how I longed to do some weeding!  Never mind - that's why I have a second machine - my workshop workhouse.  Out it came and went like a dream - the zip was in!  It was all downhill now - right?  wrong - the top stitching puckered the fabric and had to be taken out.  By midday I had finished the zipped pocket and basted around it ready for insertion into the seams of the bag later.

So - cut to the chase Lynda - how far have you got?

Well - I've made all the pockets ready to sew onto the outside and the lining

and quilted the two outside pieces.

And that's it!  Don't get me wrong its a lovely pattern to follow and I really wish that it wasn't Carine's fabric - I am falling in love with this bag - I just don't know if I will have the appetite to make another one.  I am out tomorrow and Tuesday so will have to fit the final few steps in between so that its ready to be seen and inspected on Wednesday. On a different note, I finished my hand embroidered Lynette Anderson heart yesterday and so put block 4 together.  That also means that I am now up to date ready for block 5 to pop through the door - possibly later this week.

I don't know how they will all go together eventually - but here are the first 4 blocks.  You should also remember that there are buttons to be sewn on after quilting.  The last block, for example has two worms being picked at by the hens, whereas the pig block has a pig driving the tractor - its really charming.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

A masterclass in procrastination

Yesterday I received a post office card - a letter requiring my signature needed collection.  So - this would be the third trip into Louth in as many days then!  With no desire to pay for car parking and then brave the half term crowds, I decided to get up early and pop in - the post office collections opens at 7am after all!  So, at ten to 7 (I kid you not), I arrived and was able to park directly outside - for some reason there were few people around at that time!  So - what was this important letter that required all this effort?  Well - it was the deeds to the house - ooh this is real then!

I had earmarked this weekend to make the bag for the WI display so, as soon as I got home (7:30am!!), I, err, had breakfast.  Then it was on to , err, the washing, tidying the kitchen, putting the dishwasher on, sweeping the floor, changing the bed, tidying the lounge, hoovering around - in fact anything that wasn't sewing!  After giving myself a good talking to - I settled down and , err, made the small patchwork block for my fourth Lynette Anderson mystery block of the month.  Well - you have to warm up now don't you?  I will finish the hand embroidery of the heart tonight and put the block together tomorrow.

So, finally, it was time and I changed the ironing board cover (who knew that covers are flat and not bunched up foam!) and ironed the fabric ready to cut the pieces out at least -  and then someone turned up to collect some garden furniture that I was giving away.  Now that there was some new space in the garden I, of course, had to go out, weed some more and arrange the new furniture.   That made absolute sense to me!  Hang on - weeding a patio (and trust me these were BIG weeds) leaves gaps between the flags where soil has been pulled up.  I know - there are 2 half bags of gravel somewhere - so I put that down - really liked it - but only had enough for about a third of the patio.  Okay - so I will put the two small picket fences up to define the space - ah - I need more.  Well - one gap can be filled with a tub - next to the lavender tub.  Oh - wouldn't it be nice to plant another lavender bush.  Where is this going - well I guess another trip to Louth to buy gravel, picket fence and a lavender plant!  You've got to strike whilst the iron is hot now don't you?  It's not finished, and I didn't dare show you the truly awful starting point - but here are my efforts so far.

I also picked up these three cute "hanging baskets" - only £5 each potted up and they simply hook over your fence - job done!

So - how far did I actually get with the bag?  Well the pieces are cut out!  I did think that I might go as far as putting the zip in - but only a fool would do that at the end of a busy day - and I am no fool!  I don't know why I am so hesitant about this - but I think its the fear of ruining Carine's lovely fabric with my efforts

Friday, 27 May 2016

Bunting - miles and miles of it!

This morning started gloomy and dull - so it was a quick trip into Louth again to pick up some fabric that I forgot yesterday, some hessian for the WI entry and some spray for my knee which is giving me gip.  Once home I set to sorting the side fence and gate out.  Houdini Daisy keeps crawling under the gate and I find her wondering round the front garden - with the front gate open that's not her wisest move.  I had bought a galvanised wire panel which I cut in half and attached with a staple gun - who says I can't do DIY?

Whilst outside I shifted some more weeds from the patio before heading out to a WI bunting session.  They are holding an afternoon tea to celebrate the Queen's birthday and raise funds for a local charity - and wanted simple red, white and blue bunting to put outside the venue.  Two hours later we had metres and metres of it!  The team worked well with three of us cutting, two of us sewing and one running between the two groups - all in a very warm conservatory in what has turned out to be a lovely day.

Of course today was weigh in day - after my second fast day.  Sadly I only lost a pound but the average is supposed to be 1 - 2 a week and it's been 16 in three weeks so I am not too disappointed.  I have lost inches though - and went through the wardrobe to find a number of items now fit a lot better.  Today is a non fast day - just as well since it's book club tonight - so that will be steak pie again I guess!  Ah well I ought to have one night off occasionally - right?

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Darn it - I've gone and done it again!

This morning was a WI meeting discussing what we were going to enter in The Lincolnshire Show.  The category is an exhibit with a flower arrangement, craft item and food item - all within the theme of "Coast or Country" and to be set within a 2 ft square - yikes!  It was a small group of flower arrangers, crafters and cooks so my plan was to contribute but sit back and not volunteer.  So how come we are using my piece of bark for the arrangement (I'm not doing the flowers) and I'm making the craft item - a picnic bag with Carine's fabric?  How do I get myself in this mess?

After the meeting, it was a quick trip into Louth to buy some contrast fabric so that I can (hopefully) make the bag this weekend.

Then it was home for a late lunch.  Today is the last fast day of the week so it was the usual boiled egg and I am planning on having smoked haddock, cabbage, carrots and broccoli for dinner.  I don't think that I will have lost much this week but I tried on a pair of trousers a size smaller yesterday - and they fitted!

Despite being walked, Daisy is being a right madam today - has no-one told her that puppies sleep?  So I will keep this short and go and feed her - perhaps that will stop her mithering!

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

websites - grrrr!

Well the cakes went down well - and I even promised a lemon curd version next time - ooh er!  The sewing class went well and we were given our homework - next week is half term so we don't have a class.  Having made 30 squares and quilted 8, I think she's imagining that I will have made all 49 and quilted at least half of them - we are beginning to finish the quilt when we go back - help!  On the plus side, Wendy bought me a piece of beautiful fabric - I have just the project in mind and may make it over the weekend!

So - onto today - a very dull and dismal day!  Mine started with an eye test - I am now supposed to have one every year but wasn't due to have one until after the summer.  However I wanted some prescription sun glasses to read and drive with so I thought that I ought to get them checked out.  On the plus side there was no change in vision, on the negative there are 4 sets of glasses to pick up - two sets of sunglasses and 2 sets of normal glasses as spares - I have tried to colour code so that I know which ones are which but!!

After a mooch around several shops -including Dunelm where there were a number of items on sale that could be used for a certain someone's advent presents - it was time for home and a catch up on the sofa of the soaps from the last two nights.

So - why the title of the blog you ask?  Well I tried to file an online tax claim via the HMRC site - you can never get though on the phone so I didn't try - and, quite randomly, there appears an error message when you press continue.  Now I know why they allow you to save it and go back to it!  I'm just worried that they allow you a month's grace to finish it - does that indicate how long it will take you I wonder!

Right - off to empty some more of the craft room!  Keep warm everyone.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

I survived!

Well - I survived the 2 day fast!  Truthfully it was reasonably easy and that ice cream last night sure tasted good!  I don't believe that this will be a regular thing - but its good to know that I could if necessary.

Today I decided to set to and make some gluten free cakes.  I wanted to try out my new Victoria sandwich tins - mini cakes with a push up bottom - and Wendy has to have a gluten free diet so I thought that I would make them for the sewing class tonight.  The tin worked like a dream and, even though I say so myself, the final result is not too shabby!  The recipe - an all in one easy method - is here at https://www.dovesfarm.co.uk/recipes/delicious-gluten-free-victoria-sponge/#reviews

Having bought the new ipad, and told mum that she can have my old one, I popped round to a good friend today and asked her if she wanted my Kindle fire.  She already has a tablet but it really struggles with speed of connectivity etc .  She was delighted and I spent a couple of hours setting her up with emails, facebook, kindle apps and a calorie counting app (she's trying a low cal diet so this must be easier than looking everything up). There is clearly more to explain but you can get information overload!

After a late lunch and a dog walk (where Daisy missed timed her leap down the hill and skidded on her nose - she wasn't hurt but it was funny) I then set to trying to complete the homework due in tonight - some free machine quilting.  I must confess to not being a fan but am not hating it as much as I did.  It just pains me that we work for ages making a block and then cover it in dense quilting - ah well I have to learn I guess.  Last week I got an "excellent" - let's see what the reaction is tonight!

Monday, 23 May 2016

It's been one of those crazy days!

I thought that retiring would mean a change of pace - taking it easy etc!  No such luck!  Today started with the craft group - moved to the morning because of a clash of arrangements.  No matter what I tried, I just could not quilt the current project and resorted to free motion quilting after using the seam ripper around 5 times - grrr!

A quick pop home and lunch (more of that later) and it was off out again for a WI committee meeting.  As we walked in it was clear that the hostess had gone to some trouble with scones and jam plus biscuits etc.  Sadly Monday is a fast day so I resisted.  In fact this is the second day of a back to back fast - 2 days without a break.  I had "picked" too much on Friday and Saturday and the morning weigh ins were starting to go up - so I wanted to nip it in the bud.  A day full of meetings seemed as good as any.  I am going to the theatre tonight but have built in enough calories for a small tub of ice cream.  Hardly nutritious I know but it's the law isn't it - having an ice cream at the interval - and it isn't a magnum!

Craftwise - I just wanted to show you a picture of my scrappy heart from yesterday.

I also have made a start on my next Lynette Anderson block - I wonder if I can complete this before the next one arrives at the beginning of June!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

A scrappy heart

I really hope that everyone has enjoyed the lovely weather that has hovered over the east coast today.  After church I ventured out into the wilderness (oops I meant garden) and mowed the lawn.  Then, feeling energetic, I set to weeding part of the patio.  I said part - truthfully this is a big job and the garden bin can't hold it all!

Of course Daisy had to help as well - I am seriously thinking of making a sign for this part of the garden and calling it Daisy's Den!

When I put everything away - Daisy decided to venture into the shed and couldn't get out.  I perhaps should say wouldn't - Millie even went in to her and tried to get Daisy to follow her out - but she's a diva!

Then I set to finishing the block from yesterday - it still needs some embroidery to finish it off - and then attempt today's block - a scrappy heart.  It was paper piecing again and I thought it was going well - until I put it all together!  Let's just say that I think I will try and live with it!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

A day of frustrations - but I loved it!

Just a short blog today - I have been out all day and am about to turn around again and go out to serve ice creams etc at the theatre.

Today was my monthly sewing class at West Ashby.  I wanted to continue with the block quilt started last year and spent the morning bordering the blocks and cutting sashing to go around them - only to find out that the blocks were all different sizes and needed to be trimmed down - oops!

This afternoon  I spent two hours on the current Splendid Sampler block - which mean working with such small pieces as this - the ruler is just over an inch wide to give you an idea of scale!

After said two hours I managed to complete half of the block.  It has to be said the more difficult half though!  I am not happy with the loss of points but will cover with ribbon and buttons!

Anyway it's off to the theatre now for my volunteer duties -- I am really hoping to get home in time to see Richard III tonight on BBC 2!

Friday, 20 May 2016

It's all a mystery to me!

Let's start, as ever, with last night.  About half an hour before I was due to go out I had an email from Premier Inn announcing their £35 room summer sale.  Of course a lot of rooms aren't necessarily £35 but they do lower the price to fill the rooms - you just cant get your money back if you want to cancel.  Long story short, I have switched my summer holiday bookings and have saved £40 - so that's £40 more to spend at the Quilt Show then!

Last night a minor miracle took place - I went out for the meal, stuck to my strategy and didn't even have a pud.  Not only that I cut some pastry off the steak pie and asked for no potatoes - every little helps!

Block 1
Block 2
Block 3
Block 4
Today has been another faffy day _ daisy went to the vets for her kennel cough injection, I finished some sewing, did some shopping, ordered the new flooring for the craft room, found a brilliant fathers day present etc.  However I do want to show you the progress that I have made on a block of the month.  These patterns, from Lynette Anderson via Patchwork Chicks, come once a month - along with a button which will be added later.  Wendy and I are both doing the quilt hanging but we started a month behind everyone else.  Block 5 should drop through the letter box at the beginning of June and I dream of being up to date!  Well today I finished block 3 so maybe, just maybe. I stand a chance!  As before, I love the needleturn applique and embroidery but really struggle with the tiny pieces so I am going to try and overcome that with block 4!  I should also add that its a mystery wall hanging - all we know is that it's farm related and that there will be 10 patterns / buttons.  That makes fabric choice difficult - particularly when you are following the picture but haven't been sent the identical fabric.  Ah well - its not too shabby when you start to see the pieces together.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

My "the mortgage is finished" present arrives .......

Let's start with the weigh in this morning.  When I did slimming world I could lose a lot the first week - mainly water of course - the second week would struggle to lose any and then it would settle down into a regular loss.  Unbelievably, this week I lost 4 pounds which makes 16 in total from the 5:2 diet over two weeks, over three stone since I retired and, four and a half stone weight loss overall.  Not too shabby then!  I just wish that I started 5:2 earlier - but never mind.  I have taken measurements and have lost a total of 4 1/2 inches overall.  I will take that, thank you.

So - onto today.  Sewingbuddy suggested that I celebrate the mortgage issue today.  However I am going out for a meal tonight with the WI so, as a strategy, I have looked online at the menu, chosen my dishes and then entered them into My Fitness Pal.  It won't be accurate because the figures are generic but it's better than just ignoring it.  Now I know that I should be picking healthy salads but ............. they have steak pie on the menu and I always order that!  This is a long way round to saying that my celebrating consisted of a mini battenberg - cut into slices to make it go further.  Mind you - it was nice!

Today was mainly sorting and tidying.  I had finished my sewing machine block last night so put the blocks together to see how they are going.  There will be a plain dull red in-between each block to draw it all together and it should be big enough to go over the bed upstairs once the room is decorated.  This is only a quarter of the blocks!  Mind you today's is ultra difficult so that might come to my sewing class on Saturday so that she can give me a hand!

When I was out with Wendy in Nottingham I picked up some Esiyo sachets.  I used to use these but had lapsed so decided it was time to get the yoghurt maker out again.  Consequently there's some lovely smelling Apricot yoghurt "cooking" as we speak.  Hopefully it will be set by the time I get in tonight so that I can put it in the fridge and chill it for breakfast tomorrow.

So - onto my present which arrived this afternoon.  Sewingbuddy hoped that it would be a scan and cut but I'm afraid there's only one woman in my life to please - my mother!  I treated myself to a new ipad and she will have my old one.  When I told her last night she was highly delighted.  She has my original one but there's an issue with the battery so its time that she got an upgrade -even if she has to wait until I see her next.  So that was my afternoon sorted then.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

I've only gone and done it!!

Today was supposed to be a quiet day  - I planned to do a fast day which means that I need to keep myself busy.  So I had a list of sewing tasks to complete with the ultimate aim of catching up with The Splendid Sampler blocks - it's stressing me out too much being behind!  So, before settling down, I sat down at the computer and just did an online check of my bank account (ever since I was hacked last year I check every few days).  Hang on a minute - there's more money in there!  It would appear that the small pension I talked about weeks ago has now been paid in.  Wow!  Well the target was to pay off the mortgage so, after a quick call to the bank for a settlement figure, I paid with my debit card and am now mortgage free!  I have to say that I am in shock!  What does one do in this situation - crack open the bubbly?  Well I'm on a fast so that will be spring water then.

Should I go out and have lunch out?  No - I'm on a fast!  As the morning crept on I really felt like I wanted to mark this moment in some way but couldn't think how - until it came to me - or rather it will arrive tomorrow.  Not saying what yet but at least one person I know will be pleased.

Anyway - back to more mundane matters.  I started with this block - paper piecing!! - which I have been toying with for days.  Let's just say that the seam ripper was used a lot today.

Then I made this block - a lot LOT easier!!

And prepared this block ready for some hand sewing tonight.  By my reckoning I am now only two blocks behind (let's forget that they will publish a new one tomorrow!)

The dogs don't like this wet, dry, wet weather and have rather mooched around all day - eventually both taking themselves off to bed!  We did try to dodge the rain when we went out for a walk - but no such luck!

Anyway we are nearing the end of this momentous day - mortgage free eh? who would have thought? - and I am pleased to say that the fast is holding.  There was a huge temptation to celebrate with food but I am chuffed that I didn't.  Since I am trying to weigh in after the second fast day I will weigh in tomorrow morning and report back.  Please don't expect a repeat of last week though!!