Sunday, 31 December 2017

New Year Resolutions

Hi everyone -sorry for being so quiet for the last few days.  They have been spent away at Mum and Dad's having a family Christmas.  You know the sort - lots of laughter, presents and chaos.  9 adults and 5 dogs in, essentially, a three bedroom house!  My cousin and her daughter braved the cold for two nights and slept in the summer house.  They did well - but getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom was a step too far and she declared that it was the turn of the men for the last two nights!

Meanwhile I was sleeping in a  kitchen ante room - with my two dogs.  When I heard that my cousin's husband, with his hacking cough, was due to sleep outside, I relented and came home for the night - it made more senses that everyone was warm now doesn't it?

We were spoiled for presents - it seemed that we were continually opening presents every day!  However I should also add that we are fond of "new ideas" so my brother, inspired by "Dobbo's Challenge" for Scamblesby, devised another present idea for next year.  As we sat down to lunch yesterday, we were informed that we need to provide a present (made / bought) that was inspired by our napkin!!  My one was white and gold so I am getting my thinking hat on again!  At least we only have to find one this time - along with a cracker for someone (I picked Mum out of the hat) and a shoebox each next year - oh and our annual £3 challenge buy when we go out for the afternoon!!  We don't believe in making our lives difficult now do we?

Yesterday the festivities ended with a meal around at another brother's.  His whole family had laid on a feast and we had a great time playing "Linkee" in between the courses!  It was lovely to see so many there!

So, now it's back to normality - I have been shopping at Tesco's today (chicken thighs bargain - £3.50 down to 88p - three packs bought!!) and dropped some shopping off at Mum's on my way back through.  The house has been sorted from how I left it and the big decoration removal starts tomorrow.  In terms of New Year's Resolutions, I like the idea of saying what you want to achieve by the end of the year.  There again - you know mine - to "climb Mount Everest" and to lose weight (reaching a total of 10 stone would be fab!!).

Meanwhile I now need to sit down and draw up my list of presents to make and give next year - only 358 days to go!!  This afternoon has been spent starting on present 1 - whilst watching a re-run of Bedknobs and Broomsticks - I was only 11 when I saw that at the cinema!!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Boxing Day Blues? Nah - not me - I'm a proclaimer!!

How often have you heard that phrase -Boxing Day Blues?  After the hectic Christmas Day, some people can find Boxing Day a let down.  In my case, however, a quiet Christmas Day was followed by preparations for the next phase - "Christmas Day" on Thursday when a number of family members get together at Mum and Dad's.  Thankfully my back feels back to normal so I talked to the house sitter,

made some SW chocolate brownies (but forgot to line the dish with greaseproof paper so getting them out will be fun!),

made a SW Christmas cake(made with butternut squash puree!), and stripped the bed and washed it - ready to take the bedding with me tomorrow for my "airbed" experience!!

With the hoovering to do (Dad's dog, Maisie, sure leaves a lot of black hairs) and the packing to do, I was nearly ready - oh, apart from packing my food bag (porridge, bananas, creme fraiche etc) - plus the dog walking (a novelty for them after the last few days), it was then time to settle down.  I had promised myself a viewing of the latest Beauty and the Beast (Jean and I had watched it at the cinema and I enjoy a good sing along) whilst I carried on with the embroidery and finished the Christmas Day sewing project (it just needed a bit of hand stitching).  This was a very indulgent Boxing Day indeed!

I even managed to run up a small notebook cover using the same techniques as with the larger one!  If you are interested in making one - then I recommend this pattern - it really works, you don't have to do the applique if you don't want to, and it is easy to scale up and down!

And the reference to being a proclaimer - well, with 5 days to go until the end of 2017, I finally achieved my new year's resolution of walking 1000 miles!  I am well pleased!!!

Monday, 25 December 2017

A different sort of Christmas -starting a new tradition?

Let's start with last night - when I actually finished the embroidered outside of my sewing box - yay!!  Onto the two lids no then eh?

Ever since 1991, Christmas has meant a 7 hour trip down to Devon and being greeted with twinkling lights on low beams with a fire roaring in the grate.  I come from a large family and, at times, there have been up to 25 of us all gathered together under the one roof.  In fact I cannot recall ever (apart from one year when the weather was too bad to travel on Christmas Day so I deferred it until Boxing Day) that I have woken up in my own home and had family coming over to me!  However new traditions have to start somewhere!

Today started early (not with children waking me up but the dogs) and so, with my back still "delicate" I started to get ready for the visitors.  I have to say that I have it easy  - Dad wanted Shepherds Pie (family are coming up on Wednesday so our "Christmas Day" is on Thursday) and Mum volunteered to make it.  I just had to find a pudding (Lemon Drizzle Trifle sine you ask) and supply the mince pies and sausage rolls that we traditionally have for lunch whilst we open the presents.  So, I had time to make a start on the Christmas day sewing project that I prepared a couple of days ago.  As part of the process you have to cut off some 3" squares from the corners - so I made a small bag with them - thread catcher maybe?

After the last minute request for the Lynette Anderson wall hanging, I can now revel that the original present intended for mum and Dad was a free machine appliqued lampshade with a see through lamp base from Laura Ashley - the bottom opens up and Mum can put any seasonal display that she wants to in it (she currently has a stash of conkers!).  I also made her a little hanging for the dining room,

whilst Dad had a couple of scrapbooks from the war / 1950's  - well, it will help with his research!

Me?  Well, I was spoilt rotten.  Sewingbuddy gave me a lovely handmade stitch ripper / stilletto, some needle threaders and a china heart,

Wendy put together a lovely kit for a redwork reindeer bunting set (that will keep me going for next year!), a book, a lovely embroidered panel and a bauble of treats for the dog (no surprise that it's empty now is it?).

Meanwhile Jean gave me this lovely sign and trinket box - plus some treats for the dogs, some cheeses and some chocolates - that will help the diet eh?  I should also mention that Carine gave me some hot chocolate. marshmallows and a miniature bottle of amaretto!  All Christmas Days should end with a milky drink - right?

All in all I have been very spoiled!

Mum and Dad ware planning to go  home after tea (and after Dad has stopped enjying Cinderella - I can hear him laughing out loud!) - so that they can watch "Call the midwife" and sleep in their own bed.  Meanwhile I plan to soak some fruit for a SW Christmas cake that I am going to make tomorrow - along with my chocolate brownies.  My SW plan is to ignore Christmas eve / Christmas day and Boxing day - then to get back on the horse from Wednesday -well, as best as I can!

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Committed to the cause!

With my back still playing up, I picked Jean up at 8:30 (Jean is suffering with what I suspect is the flu / heavy cold - aches all over, muzzy head etc) - now, where would we two crocks be going at 8:30am on Christmas Eve?  Why -Slimming World, of course!  We had decided some months ago that if we went to this weigh in then it might protect last week from overeating - and it did!  I lost 1 1/2 lbs so was well chuffed!  We then popped around the corner to Morrisons to brave the supermarket and get some fresh fruit and veg - they had opened the store at 9am so we were able to to shop and then join a queue to check out.  Let's just say that, by 10:14am, we were in the car driving away - job done!

Back home, and after a cuppa (plus a couple of Christmas biscuits!) it was then back to staggering around to get the house ready for Mum and Dad tomorrow.  When we were in Devon, the rule was to get everything done by lunchtime and then we went out to enjoy the festivities.  Well, I may not be going out but I can still chill in front of the tv knowing that everything has been done - why is there always one last present that needs to be wrapped?

A snooze later, and watching that well known Christmas Classic - "Guys and Dolls", I managed to get within finishing distance of my sewing box embroidery.  I have struggled with the trees so have resorted to using chain stitch!

With the house tidy, the lights on and no need for the fire (it's too warm to have both the fire and the central heating on) it's time to wish everyone a happy Christmas - I hope that it brings you all that you need xx

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Making progress - to "delicate"

 Well, first a back update.  As the blog title suggests I would now describe it as "delicate" I can move around without being in a lot of pain - I am just slower and feel more awkward than normal!  Snail pace then eh?

Today I was up early (ish) to go and fetch the Christmas meat hamper and take it to Mum's.  She was really pleased by the quality of the meat - but a little bit confused when we found two gammon joints but no turkey!  Cue a trip back to swap them around.  Mind you -we did enjoy the complimentary mince pies so will forgive them!

Back home (and it was nearly noon by now) and it was the usual - dishwasher emptying and filling, hoovering around, cleaning out the fireplace etc etc - all at a gingerly pace of course.

Next up was the preparation of my "Christmas Day Sewing Project" - I know, I know - but every year I like to have something to do when the folks have their nap!  This time I am going to make another one of THOSE bags - but a larger version and with Christmas related fabric.

I am also getting towards the end of my sewing box embroidery so took the enforced rest period to trace the inner and outer lid embroidery pattern - just in case I find some time to tackle it of course!

By now the afternoon was drawing in, and I had caught up with The Archers, so it was time for evening tv.  Tonight I am planning on watching the stage version of "Elf" ( I have never seen the film but like to watch the recording of a live staged event at some point over Christmas) followed by a new series that I started to watch last week - "Feud" on BBC 2.  I also have the last 15 minutes or so of the documentary on "Saturday Night Fever" that was on last night and worth a catch up if you didn't see it.  It was peppered with facts such as they filmed all of the iconic dance routines to demo tapes from the Bee Gees.  When the real versions arrived (and filming had finished by now) they realised hat the rhythms were slightly different and therefore the dancing looked out of sync.  Cue months of research before they found the technology to correct it!  Fascinating!

BTW - the current mileage is 990. 395 - not far now!

Friday, 22 December 2017

Ooh, Ah, Ouch!

Yesterday I commented to mum that I ached all over -the kind of ache that you would get if you had exercised hard.  This morning I woke up with a bad back - ouch! Normally I would put a heat pad on it but only have the sort in that you stick onto clothing - not onto your skin - so it's not as effective.  So today has been less mobile than ever!

First up was some bed changing and washing - all achieved with the help of my trusty walking stick of course!

Then it was onto the book cover that I started last Sunday - well, it would have been completed a lot quicker if I didn't have to keep getting up and ironing / cutting etc! I will slip stitch the opening tonight.  As I said before, I have sewn together the selvages from a range of projects this year - I like the idea of reminiscing - as well as making fabric from scraps that you would usually throw away!

Instead there was an impromptu lunchtime meeting with Sewingbuddy to give her the fabric and have a cuppa.

With time out for the usual tidy round (well, this cartoon was more like it), I then had an appointment with the doctor to find out the results of the blood test last week(everything fine), before coming home, sorting out dinner and settling down to"Nativity 2" on BBC 2 (well, it does have David Tennant in after all!)

All in all, not the most productive day but needs must!  I am going to collect the Christmas meat hamper tomorrow morning - let's hope that the back has settled down by then.  I managed to get some heat pads when I was out so will have them - at least.

On a different note - according to the tv schedule tonight, it's 40 years since "Saturday Night Fever" was released.  I remember going to see the film at the cinema  - aware that I was 17 1/2 and it was an 18 film!  Every time the usherette came with her torch (yes I am that old) I was convinced that she was going to shine it in my face and order me out!!  How times have changed!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Alexa - what are you up to now?

Last night I tried a new command for Alexa - Alexa play radio 2 on my echo dot.  I was downstairs at this moment and the upstairs echo started playing music.  Buoyed by this success, this morning I told my echo dot to play radio 2 on my echo - believing that the machine downstairs would start playing - but nothing happened.  Ah well I thought!  Meanwhile, in another part of Lincolnshire Mum and Dad woke up at 7am to music playing.  Dad went to investigate and the echo downstairs had burst into life playing radio 2 - that would be my fault then - oops!  On the plus side it meant that they could get up early and do the M & S shop that Dad has wanted to do for a few days.  Surprisingly enough they were the third set of people in the shopping centre this morning! (Mum was relieved to find out that it was my fault by the way - she thought that the machine was faulty!)

Having established that my day started early, I took the opportunity to pop into Tesco's (it was surprisingly okay customer wise) before heading for the hairdressers and my 6 weekly colour and chop.  Looking a tad more respectable, I headed home via Mum and Dad's for a cuppa.  However, by now, my joints were aching and so rushing around the house was out of the question.  Instead, I put the first episode of the current season's Grand Tour on the computer and started to sort out the craft room desk - which spends its' life cluttered but was, at least, a job that I could do sitting down with a hot water bottle on my back!

The postman arrived - bearing gifts. Well, one particular one - the fabric that Sewingbuddy made me order a few days ago - its rather nice!  Sewingbuddy did a good job finding some coordinating fabric!

I also sorted out my "tin of quality street" - a bucket filled with pieces of hifi bars wrapped in silver / coloured foil - as well as a bucket of flavoured coffee / options / hifi bars.  I am hoping that this keeps temptation in check for a while over the festive period.

The last "sit down" task of the day was to get my January layout of my "bullet journal" sorted - don't ask - heck out on google!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Another day, another bag

Last night I had an unexpected treat -I sat and embroidered through The Royal Variety Performance.   Sometimes it has not been worth watching but I really enjoyed last night's efforts and would praise Prince William for entering into the spirit - "Such Fun"!  Of course it also helped having Michael Ball on the cast list and them singing "Bring me sunshine" - I am easily pleased.

 Today was the second "Belchford Wednesday" of the month and so Sewingbuddy and I were aiming to make the same bag that we did last week - but with handles and a tonal bottom fabric  We had found a video on you tube and tried to follow the instructions.  Sewingbuddy had even made us a template each to help our efforts.  I will confess to becoming a little obsessed with this bag and keep seeing different variations that I want to try - taller, zipped pockets, internal dividers, mesh pockets - you name it!!  Thank goodness that Facebook has a "save post" function!

By the time I got home, it was getting dark so it was a quick walk followed by heating up the shepherds pie made with leftovers from last night's tea and settling down with the embroidery.  I am currently working on the large embroidered panel that goes all the way around my sewingbox - my deadline is the fourth Wednesday in January but, when I tell you that the house and smoke took all last night, that deadline is going to come around far too fast!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Sorting out THE shed!

Today was allocated to be spent with Mum and Dad.  You may recall that she has a new shed for her kitchen over-spill storage -well, today, was the start of moving into the shed.   As I rescued boxes from the garage, Mum sorted through them and then I took them outside and put them into the shed - we made a good team.  Meanwhile Dad was working on the lodge - he currently has electrics now working in the lodge which will allow heating to be installed.

Dad has then measured the floor in order to pick up and fit a carpet before adding some rugs for extra warmth.  Mum has some brand new chenille curtains to put up - once Dad has fitted the poles.  This lodge is really going to be the height of luxury! It brings a new meaning to "glamping"!

Of course, I had an ulterior reason for going - I was able to take my presents and arrange them under the tree - the shoe boxes sure makes it easier to arrange!

Back home, and with the sun beginning to set, I walked the dogs and then set to sorting out my fabric etc for my sewing day at Belchford tomorrow.  Sewingbuddy and I are aiming to take the pattern that we sewed last week and "bling" it up in some way.  It's a really useful pattern with many possibilities for changes.  I was also able to put some sewing things away (get me!) and start to think about how to arrange the lounge for Christmas.

Meanwhile, you ask, how did the shawl go?  Is it finished?  Well, apart from sewing the ends in, it is - and I am quite pleased with it!  My next knitting project is a waistcoat - but I am not ready to start that yet - I need to concentrate on the embroidery for my sewing class.

Monday, 18 December 2017

24 miles to go ..........

After a fantastic night's sleep (well, those sleepless nights have to catch up with you sometime now don't they?) one of my first tasks was to update my miles tracker for last week - you may recall that it was my new Year's resolution to walk 1000 miles this year.  Well, drum roll please, my current total is 976.42 miles - with 14 days of December to go - it's looking hopeful!!  So, I hear you cry, what's your challenge for next year?  Well, my aim is to climb Mount Everest by the end of June!  Oh, okay, maybe not the actual mountain you understand - but the equivalent number of flights of stairs.  It's quite an ambitious challenge, and may take me longer than 6 months, but you have to climb 3871 flights of stairs in that time (or an average of just over 22  every day - oops , now THAT is a challenge!)  It is also a challenge that I couldn't have thought of doing before I started to lose weight - so, anyone going to join me?  If you want to then let me know and I will send you a spreadsheet that I have set up.  Our first milestone is the top of the millenium dome (a mere 21 flights), closely followed by the top of the Sydney Opera House (28 flights!)  That's New Years Day and January 2nd sorted then!  You can find out more information here.

Today, being a Monday, should have had its own usual rhythm.  First up was supposed to be Textile Group - our last meeting before Christmas and we were depleted - Carine and Linda had gone with the Primary School to the Pantomime.  That just left Ev, Jean and I to chew the fat and try to finish our current projects - but Jean's car had broken down so she couldn't make it.  In the end we cancelled and I took the opportunity to sort the house out - before sewing at home.  I am making a couple of notebook covers for me (not often I say that now is it?) and am using the selvages from the fabric (the bits that you normally cut off) to create my outer fabric.  In order to complete the project I need some interfacing so popped into Boyes on the way to Slimming World.

With some spare time on my hands, I also set to cutting out the fabric I need for Wednesday (Belchford) and watching the video again about how to fit handles on my bag to "bling" it up!

Slimming World was our Christmas Party - full of tasty food and party games!!  In terms of weight loss, I , didn't - I put on a pound (must have been that scone / cake / sausage roll / carvery over the weekend!) -  but I am happy with that -I have lost 4 pounds during December so far - you can't often say that now can you?

Back home and it's the usual tidying up and sorting out the mess that Daisy and Millie create.  I am hoping to finish knitting the shawl tonight that I started at the sewing retreat in November.  The pattern says to finish on Row 7 (out of 12) and then cast off - it will be touch and go - judging the wool that I have let!

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Christmas Party time

Today  was our Scamblesby Christmas Party - a day of sewing, plus a Christmas Lunch at a local carvery where we swapped our Secret Santa gifts.  Every year we swap a wrapped fat quarter - we can all find a use for a fat quarter after all!

Every year (just to be a meanie) I issue a "Dobbo's Challenge".  This year they were challenged to make anything they wanted - deadline of April - using their wrapping paper as an inspiration  that got the old brain cells going!  The photo shows my paper which was wrapped up with string - so I need to start thinking!

Sadly Jean and I had to leave after lunch -as I said yesterday, our Carol Service started at 4pm so I wanted to get back.  The Carol Service is by candlelight and has a lovely relaxed feeling amongst the hustle bustle of Christmas preparations.

Once home, and with ta cooking, it was time to turn my mind to tomorrow's slimming World taster event - I decided to make some smoked salmon mousse and wanted to leave it chilling overnight.

That just left the fire to light before I plan to settle down, catch up with "The Feud" that I recorded last night and watch the final of The Apprentice.  Talking about finals - well done to my brother,Phil, who chose Joe in the final show as his winner - Joe deserved it last night - but, there again, Alexandra was fab as well!  Once we've had both the Strictly final and The Apprentice final, you just know that Christmas is around the corner!

Saturday, 16 December 2017

On my knees!

Last night saw 1 am come and go -again -but then I woke up at 9am - go figure!!  I think that part of the problem was that I fell asleep on the sofa early evening -for over an hour - note to self, don't do that tonight!  Anyway it's the Strictly final so I can't fall asleep in that now can i?

I had a nice text from Wendy last night, with an impromptu plan to meet up for coffee and a cake (yes I had a cake after all - it's about time and who could resist a cheddar and stilton homemade scone?) so that we can exchange presents.  So, this morning has been getting on with tasks such as more present wrapping and preparing for a day at Scamblesby tomorrow - I say day but, in reality, its a morning, followed by lunch.  I am leaving early to come home for the church Carol Service at 4pm tomorrow.

I also decided to clean out (completely) the handheld dyson - to my shame it hadn't been taken apart since June, when Mum did it!!  I think that it needed it - don't you?

Once back from a very leisurely, two coffee, chat and catch up with Wendy it was back to present wrapping, fire lighting and generally getting ready for an evening of Strictly - now, who does everyone want to win then?  My vote goes to Joe at the moment but let's see how the show dances go!

Friday, 15 December 2017

It wasn't my fault mum - honest!!

After a fair night's sleep (that's newsworthy in itself - I haven't been sleeping well recently), I woke up to a Facebook message from Sewingbuddy inviting me to check out some fabric on fabric guild.  One phone call later and an order was placed!!  Like I haven't got enough fabric as it is!!  Ah well - it's obviously not the right fabric!

This morning started with a quick visit to the doctors for a blood test to check out my kidney function (I only have one so they like to check up every year) and a flu jab.  I have an appointment with the doctor next Friday to check out the results.  On the way home, I popped into the village vegetable shop where I noticed that they have just stared serving produce from a Louth bakery - Lakings.  Cue an order for our Christmas day sausage rolls!

Back home and I had scheduled today for Christmas present sorting and wrapping.  In reality that meant that I tidied the house up and hoovered around, clear the fire place out and, after lunch, lit a new fire, pop "White Christmas" on the TV and start wrapping - it's a tradition I just have to do every year!!  This year the family theme is "Shoe boxes" but, ever one to mix things up, I wrapped three of the gifts in the shoe box, then the shoe box itself and then added some decor.  Let's just say that, after a two hour film, I have managed two of the boxes and three smaller gifts (one of which should have been in the box but "fell out" and wasn't found until the box was wrapped).  Ah well, that's an excuse for another afternoon film tomorrow then!  I also sorted out my cracker (family members will understand that reference) so things are ready to be transported up to Mum and Dad's.

In between there was obviously dogs to be walked, local Christmas cards to be delivered, a craft room table to rediscover etc but it really feels good to have made a start on the wrapping marathon.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Going out for the day - Christmas style!

Today I got to take Mum and Dad out for the day.  They fancied a day in Lincoln which entailed lots of traffic, a very expensive car park and a lovely cuppa in their cafe (Mum and Dad had cake whilst I had two tiny shortbread trees! )  With a wander around the shop, and the food hall, under our belts, we took the shopping back to the car -would you believe that nearly two hours had passed in a flash?

Next stop was Waitrose -Mum had some money off vouchers so it seemed rude not to.  I was particularly taken with their melting sprout dessert but the use by date wouldn't allow us to treat everyone for Christmas -ah well, money saved then!

We did, however, indulge in a waitrose lunch (bacon roll for me and a very naughty quarter of Mum's apricot tart for afters!)

On the way home we stopped off at Trotters Trading -where Mum was walking around with a big grin on her face.  We had actually stopped off to look at carpets for the lodge - they are going back once they have measured up but Mum was really impressed with the place (Phil - you would love it!)

Home, and tired, I have put the shopping away, put the shepherds pie in to heat up and fed the dogs.  I have a two hour turn around period before going out again to the WI craft evening.  It's been a busy day, but a good one - roll on Christmas!