Tuesday, 30 December 2014

E stands for ....?

Since it snowed here on Friday night, the temperature has barely been above freezing and we've needed the central heating on quite a bit except for when we get the wood burner going in the evenings. Last night was the coldest of the winter so far and its been feeling decidedly frosty in the house all morning. The central heating didn't seem to be coping, we were still feeling chilly after it had been on for a couple of hours. 

DH set off in investigation mode and started going from room to room bleeding all the radiators as they didn't seem to be getting very hot, turning all the individual thermostats up, shaking his head and looking puzzled.  

Then we looked at the boiler settings and it's on E ... who put it on that (not me!!) So I ask DH, had he been fiddling with the boiler settings and he admitted he had "turned it up" yesterday afternoon. "So what do you think E stands for darling?" "Um .... excellent? Excessively hot ..." he flounders. It stands for ECONOMY Mr Numpty! 

I think he does have a point in thinking that E is hotter than 5 as it is inbetween 5 and Max but there's a reason we keep the manual right beside the boiler ...

Friday, 26 December 2014

Festive fun

Happy Christmas to all my blog readers!
I hope everyone is having as much festive fun as my little dog, Missy, 
here she is with one of her many Christmas presents

Monday, 15 December 2014

Spiral rainbow crochet blanket (or afghans as some people call them)

Being stuck with my leg on a cushion for the past week has meant I've had time to get started on a new project. It's going to be a rainbow blanket made up of these crocheted spiral circles each made with three different colours. The above photograph shows the colours that I've picked, I need quite a few more than the ones in the pic!

These colourful circles are going to be turned into hexagons using a couple of rows of shaping in black and then sewn altogether. Piled up like this, I thought they looked like colourful pancakes, DH thinks they look more like poppadoms, he was about to start cooking a fish curry at the time so I guess the imagery is understandable.

I've started a project for it in my Ravelry account, I'll be adding the yarn and colours I've used in there when I get a chance and I'll also write it up as a free pattern. For now, I've been sitting normally for too long and my shin is complaining so I'm going to put my leg up and get going on crocheting some more.

When I started on this, the weather was really grey and dreary and I was fed up of sitting still, the colours really helped lift my mood, I hope these pics do the same for you!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Heart versus head

Since my Consultant appointment earlier in the week, I've been measuring my calf around where the worst bit of my injury is to see if it's getting any bigger. Unfortunately it's been increasing by a couple of millimetres every day but today is the first it has stayed the same as yesterday - I'm taking that as a huge positive. We won't discuss Thursday's negativity, inability to get on with the dining room curtains or do any housework. It hurt when I walked, it hurt when I sat down normally with feet on the floor, it really hurt when I stood still for more than a minute; it seemed that I would never get to the Rival Sons concert on Saturday night. I sat with my leg painfree on a cushion admiring the day's socks, I crocheted a good deal and I sulked alot. 

On Friday, I was walking a little better, I could even stand up for long enough to make a sandwich without my shin screaming at me. Maybe just maybe ...

So last night we talked about skipping the customary pre-concert drinks, skipping the support act and just turning up at around 9pm for the main act. So what if it puts me back a bit .... it's not very rock 'n roll sitting at home with your leg on a cushion whilst one of the best newish rock acts are playing at a great venue less than an hour's drive away.  Call yourself a rock chick? I can stand at the back for an hour and a half with one of Geoff's old crutches from when he had his operation and if it gets too painful, we can admit defeat but at least we tried.

This morning, with the evidence on the tape measure that the bleeding has really stopped and my leg may finally be getting better .... do I want to put that at risk? My heart is telling me go out in a haze of rock and painkiller-induced stupour and hang the consequences - I can always grow a new leg ... oh no, that's newts isn't it ... but my head (and my everloving husband) tells me it isn't worth it, that there will be other concerts and I should look after my health first. I really hate it when my head is right. 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Socks of the day

Still laid up with my leg I'm afraid, I have had lots of messages praising my hand knitted socks and so I've taken another picture of the ones I have on today. Every nurse who has seen a pair of my knitted socks has complimented me on them, maybe I should have a "sock of the day" posting during my recuperation!

I went to have a follow up visit to the Consultant yesterday. It was a really frosty day here in Lincolnshire and the fracture clinic was packed with people who had fallen over on icy pavements so even though I had an appointment, we were late getting in to see him

There's a lump underneath the worst bit, the Consultant says it is internal bleeding, there's no way of knowing if it has stopped apparently; it won't start to get better til it has. For the last week, it's been about the same, pain free when it's on a cushion being elevated by the coffee table but it's sore when I put weight on it. For now, the Consultant advises me to rest it up, wiggle my toes and rotate my foot to keep blood circulating and my body should re-absorb the blood. I'm hoping it will start to improve sometime soon.

So that's the bad news; the good news is that I've been doing lots of crocheting and my ripple blanket is finished. Here it is draped over a chair in the lounge. It's not really the right colours for the lounge, I would've used a more restricted colour pallet (like those I used for the rocking chair cushion covers  which you can see in the background of the photo of my feet). This one is destined to be a picnic blanket and for emergencies to snuggle under if the heating goes kaput!

We've got tickets to go see Rival Sons this coming Saturday. We've had them for months and both of us were really looking forward to going, it's very rare to get to see a big band like Rival Sons at anything other than a stadium these days so to see them in a relatively small venue would be a real treat. The Blues Pills are supporting and by all accounts, they're really good. Another plus is that we're meeting up with an old friend we haven't seen socially for some time and it would be great to catch up with him and his family. The Consultant says it's up to me if I go to it if I think I can manage all the standing. I'm thinking it's a bit doubtful but I'm not giving up It's still three more days til Saturday so ......... COME ON YOU LEG!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Laid up

So, my other half gets lucrative new six month contract starting 1 December but means less home working and more travelling to and from the office and site. What should a supportive wife do ... offers to take on more of the cooking, laundry and dog walking duties? Well sure, I can do that but then I get myself injured on Sunday, unable to walk, thinking it'll be fine in the morning but by bedtime looks so bad we spend Sunday evening in A&E getting x-rays and talking about the possibility of acute compartment sydrome along with blood clots. I had to talk myself out of being admitted by promising to go back during the night if a certain symptom arose and I had to promise to come back for a follow up appointment first thing in the morning no matter what (on day one of said new contract). I spent £34 on taxis taking me back to hospital yesterday morning.

Happily, they told me the injury is now safe from compartmenting but the more I rest it, the quicker it will heal. The photograph shows what I'm doing today ... finishing my crochet blanket whilst watching Dr Who DVDs (first series with Christopher Eccleston).

Just call me supporto-gal!

So so sorry to my wonderful husband who is looking after me by working from home today. Love you loads xx

I'm not exactly sure when I'll be able to get back into the studio to make more beads but it might not be until close to the latest posting date for the USA so if any of you want any of the existing stock from the shop before Christmas, better order now from my Etsy shop. I'm still sending out packages courtesy of my most wonderful husband. So sorry for any inconvenience.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Here ... have a kiss!

After days and days of cloudy dull and damp, drizzly rain, heavier rain and mizzle, finally we awake to a lovely clear autumn day. I had my breakfast this morning looking through the kitchen window and smiling at this lovely kiss in the sky that travellers to far away places left for me.

However, winter's breath is not far away ...

This was the first time frost has reached the roof of my beadmaking studio.

Seven degrees on my kiln as I turned it on is the coldest we've seen so far this season but the compensations are the lovely colour the beech has gone.

The willow hasn't quite finished shedding yet ... that's my excuse for not raking up the leaves and I'm sticking to it!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Little crochet project and hall update

I like to have a few projects on the go at a time when I'm in a manic knitting or crochet streak (crochet at the moment!) The blanket is still continuing to grow but I just finished this little tablecloth and doily for my partly redecorated hallway.

I still have to rub down and undercoat the doors and there's some filling to be done around one of the light switches, two light individual switches have been converted to a single with two switches so I'm having to build that up in layers. I'll do a photograph of the other end of the hallway when that's finished!

At the moment, finishing the hallway decoration is having to wait because we have ordered a carpet for the dining room. It's being fitted on Friday so we're all hands to the deck to get everything as finished as we can before then!

To do list:

  • Rub down the door
  • Undercoat door
  • Gloss architrave and door
  • Tiling to fireplace
  • Put up curtain pelmet
  • Make curtains
  • Shelf over fireplace
  • Wiring up new sockets
  • Fix telephone socket to wall
  • Buy new light fitting and get it fixed
  • Touch up ceiling where masking tape to get a nice clean line has pulled some paint off
  • Fix pre-made bookcases into alcoves (not arrived yet but ordered)
  • Clear all the furniture out before fitter arrives

Some of these like making curtains and the shelf over the fireplace and probably some of the others are definitely not going to get done by Friday but those can be done after the carpet ... I'd better get on with the rest of the jobs I'm down for!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Dusty Springfield has made me breathless

I'm a music lover, I really like music, my favourite kinds are rock and blues but I listen to other kinds as well (not rap, NEVER rap). I listen to Planet Rock quite a bit when I'm beadmaking and have it on when I'm in the kitchen cooking. On Thursday nights at 7pm, they have a brilliant show called Blues Power hosted by the urbane, stylish and most wonderful Bernard Doherty. It's only an hour and we listen in every week. He's always asking for suggestions from listeneners and so Geoff and I sent some in. We were thrilled last night when he played some Shuggi Otis as we asked for and mentioned our names!

Well obviously, after such a momentous occasion, we had to celebrate and both of us drank rather too much red wine. Later, I put the TV on because there was a programme I wanted to see (which I cannot recall now) and soon afterwards fell asleep. I awoke to see Dusty Springfield on, she has such a wonderful voice, I was transfixed and had to watch the rest of the programme. I remember really liking Son of a Preacher Man and was hoping she would sing it but perhaps it was on earlier (before I woke up!)

First thing this morning, I downloaded it onto my MP3 player along wth 5 other of her songs. Whilst I was working in my studio, I played them 4 times straight one after the other other singing along at the top of my voice. There's not much of a musical interlude in any of the songs and they're all quite short but she sings practically all of the time. I suddenly felt dizzy and I realised this was because I wasn't breathing properly.

"Dusty Springfield has made me breathless" is a phrase I never thought I would mutter to my husband when he asked me why I was so pale. A cup of tea made me feel better but perhaps I'd better stick to listening to rock and blues from now on!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

There's a dog under there somewhere

I'm crocheting a blanket using Lucy from Attic24's Ripple Blanket Pattern,

It's nowhere near finished yet as it's going to be quite big. Missy has decided it's already just the right size for her!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Small cheerful chair throw

Here I am showing off my latest very cheerful chair throw - three lovely colours of Adriafil Regina yarn (100% merino wool) in Deep Yellow (046), Dark Orange (035) and Lilac (033). The photo below shows it just after blocking with the pins removed which highlights the border.

To make it I combined the Sunflower Square (motif #34 on page 87) from Betty Barnden's book 75 Crocheted Floral Blocks and Edie Eckman's Border #24 on page 70 of Around the Corner Crochet Borders. The individual motifs were hand sewn together using back loops only, I really don't like sewing that much but it wasn't too bad, put a film on the DVD player and just get on with it! Absolutely typically, I have since discovered a crochet method of joinig that I probably would've used instead. I don't think it would've been any quicker but next time I have to join motifs like this I think I will try Dedri's zipper method as there's not a sewing needle in sight!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Crochet Lace Curtain

I am very pleased with the way this lace curtain has turned out which I made for the ensuite bathroom. It's my own pattern and made in linen purchased from LinenSpirit on Etsy

Here's a close-up of the lace. It's my own design but very easy once you get going on it. I'm going to write up the pattern and put it up as a free download on my Ravelry projects list when I get round to it.

The lace curtain is held up by using a tension rod which I purchased from an an Amazon shop called speedy. They're really easy to fit, just push and pull them to the length you require. They're only really suitable for very lightweight net curtains (or handmade lace!) This photo also shows a close-up of the heading which I also designed myself.

I really like the shadows that are cast onto the curtain when the weather is sunny outside. It's another one of those small things that can make you happy.

Here's an overall shot without the chair in the way which also shows the little fishes that I have swiming by on the wall, more little things that make me happy!

I've been doing more crochet recently than knitting which is unusual for me. I've just purchased some more yarn and am currently working on some cushions for my lounge.

I have a really colourful small blanket which I finished recently to be used as a chair throw, I've still got to block that so pictures will follow when it's done.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Sometimes the littlest things make you happy

I noticed how nice the blue flowers of borage looked against the colour of the new flight of garden steps that Geoff is building and it made me smile (and want to take a picture!)

Here's a close up showing the true prettiness of these flowers ... the bees really love them and they look so pretty on a plate of salad or floating in a glass of Pimms. So glad summertime has returned a little to England. Lets hope we squeeze a bit more warm weather out this season!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

House update and first outdoor tomatoes!

These are the first outdoor tomatoes I have grown in the garden of our not-so-new house. I can't believe it's been over eighteen months since we moved in. I don't have a greenhouse yet, that has been one of the projects keeping us very busy over the summer. Got several things half way through. The greenhouse base is built, got to put up the fence, make a low retaining wall at the back and actually buy and put up a greenhouse.

The hallway has had a new entrance door and screen. Inside, the hallway has been drylined and matchboarded to cure some rising damp.  Here is the wonderful Martin laying the new oak flooring.  Since this photograph, it's been half decorated with a little joinery for Martin to finish off when we get round to getting all the materials for it.

Geoff's study, soon to be the dining room has been completely dry lined (including the ceiling!) and replastered. I've done two coats of plain white emulsion on the walls (to seal them) and 3 on the ceiling. So the ceiling is finished but got to choose a colour scheme for the walls and the room in general now. Jobs to do: refit radiator, fix skirting board and windowboard, fireplace surround to be fitted. Here is the "before" shot.

The main bathroom has had a load of boxing in done but one of the pipes has developed a slow leak and is seeping out underneath so some of the boxing in has to be removed for the plumbing to be fixed before I can decorate in there.

Kitchen is virutally done though, still a few soft furnishing touches and a doubled glazed window pane which has gone all cloudy to be replaced but the curtains were finished a couple of months ago

New garden steps are half built, slowly but surely, step by step our stairway to heaven is taking shape ....

However, here's one thing that we have finished today, two chicken and tomato sandwiches (complete with the obligatory salad cream!)

I've been using Facebook far too much, I do hope my blog will forgive me for neglecting it to a shameful degree. It's not you, it's me. I promise I will treat you better in the future my lovely, beautiful blog, do you still love me?!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

RIP Spike - with us every summer until 2014

I'm very sad to write that Spike, our tortoise who has been with us every summer for over 30 years died a few days before Easter. He'd come out of hibernation as usual at the Spring equinox in March. It takes a couple of days to get his appetite back, we put him outdoors on warm days and always bring him in at night until there's no danger of frost. During bad weather and potentially frosty nights he lived in a big box with a heat and daylight lamp.

On the Wednesday, he was off his food but it's not unusual in the first few weeks for his appetite to be sporadic so I wasn't too concerned but when we got up on the Thursday he was gone.

When we first got him, the vet estimated his age at around 40 so he was over 70 when we lost him. I can only imagine it was old age, I'm not sure exactly how long tortoises live in captivity. You don't get much back from a tortoise in the way of love, cuddles and companionship and so I've found it surprising how much I am missing him.

Except for the first year or two of married life, Spike has been on guard in every garden of every house we have lived in every summer and his welfare was woven into my daily routine to such an extent that I permanently feel I've forgotten to do something. In the morning if he was indoors overnight, I would turn on his lamp to warm him up a little before he went out with some cucumber. After making every set of beads, I pick choicest dandilions and buttercups and other such tasty morsels for him to eat. He will graze from the lawn itself when he was hungry but as he got older, his mobility slowed a little. Of course when he was indoors, he couldn't graze and so was dependent on me delivering his meals.

Before it got dark, we would have to search for Spike to bring him in ... in all of our gardens he had three or four places he would dig in for the night but of course, we couldn't leave him out if the weather was going to be cold or wet so we had to bring him in. I can remember him surprising us a few times by him finding somewhere new and we would have to play hide and seek. Dinner was delayed several times for this reason every summer!

Over the years I have bought and constructed what I have thought to be the perfect places for him to overnight but he never used any of them for more than a night or two! He preferred to dig his own holes hidden and sheltered by foliage and use those so in the end we left him to it barring bad weather.

As you know, we've moved around quite a bit in the last few years. In the last couple of gardens, we have not had any plantains or hawkbit for him to eat and variety is obviously important in any diet so I used to pick them when out walking Missy and store them in the fridge like a prepacked salad. I cannot count the number of times I've had funny looks from passersby as I bent down to pick weeds and put them in my pocket! Even though he's been gone a couple of weeks now, I think of him every time I see a nice patch of plantains - I'm so much in the habit now of looking for them, I don't think that's going to go away any time soon.

He only had one summer here but he had a favourite sunbathing spot and that's where we buried him.

The tribute over his grave is made up of the first mowing of the lawn after he died, the idea being that the clippings are the last bits of greenery that he crawled over and then topped up with an abundance of dandilion flowers, he always absolutely loved dandilion flowers, they were the bestest of best things for Spike. 

Goodbye old friend, we miss you. Rest in peace xxxxxx

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Happy Back To Normal Day and a 20% off sale

Here I am after the Christmas and New Year break. I'm always happy to get back to my normal routine because I like making beads so much! I enjoy a little break but it goes on for so long ... sitting around all day doing crafty things and reading in a nice warm lounge next to the log burner which has been installed in the newly remodelled fireplace.

All warm and cosy but it's definitely made me soft ...

I went back out into the studio today for the first time in several days, I wrapped up warm as usual but I felt so cold, I only managed to stay out for 3 hours! I came back into the warm and decided to organise a 20% off sale in my SoozBeads Etsy shop. Between now and 8th January, if you buy 2 or more sets of beads, you can claim 20% off everything you purchase by using the checkout coupon code NEWYEAR20.

I've been so quiet the second half of last year on the blogging front. Some of it was family illness that took up a lot of my time flying up and down the A1 two or three times a week. My bead business suffered as a result. Poor DH had another spell of unemployment for a few months too but there were some good things as well. One of which was the new fireplace and woodburner as photographed above.

Another was the bathroom ensuite also finally got finished:

In September, it was my dad's 90th birthday. All kinds of things arranged around that, we had parties galore and even a film premiere. My youngest sister and her long term partner and film maker, Martin made a documentary "Finding the Pathfinders" about my dad's time in the Lancaster Pathfinder squadron.

The story centres around his search for the other members of his crew. We had a premiere at the Kinema in the Woods and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight did a fly past in the City of Lincoln Lancaster which was an amazing experience. When they know a veteran is in the audience, they really put on a good show; an amazing experience! 

Here's the trailer for the film: 

Our house is situated in the old part of the village in the centre and we're on the main drag through so many people pass by our house on their way to the Post Office, Co-Op, the school or GP surgery. These chrysanthemums were abandoned by the previous owner. When we moved in during February, they were dead sticks and had no protection over quite a hard winter. I cut them back and did what I could to coax them back into life. People in the village followed their progress with great interest, every time I went out with the watering can, someone stopped to talk to me about them! My reward came in October. :-)