Saturday 30 November 2013

My month In numbers

November has brought with it the annual family debate; what is the correct temperature for the central heating to be on?  My husband insists it is somewhere between 18 and 20.  Whenever I walk past the thermostat I turn it up to somewhere around 22.  He suggests that if I feel chilly, I should put on a cardigan.  I ignore this and turn the dial a notch.  My ideal temperature in numbers - 22.
50 years of Dr Who this month.  This is the programme I used to watch whilst hiding under the table when the daleks came on.  Oh come on, I was only young, they were very scary.  Even when they showed you how to make one on Blue Peter with egg boxes and tin foil, it didn't make me feel any better.  I remember going to see the film of Dr Who with my mum and desperately wanting a reversible anorak like the one worn by one of the characters. Can't remember anything about the film, but I do remember that anorak! Bearing in mind I was scared of the daleks when they were on a small tv screen, it was a bit of a risk taking me to see them larger than life on a cinema screen. I bet mum made us sit at the end of the row in case I needed to be taken out quickly if it got too terrifying!
Now, anyone that knows me well will know I am maths-phobic. Whoever invented the Excel computer programme is my friend for life as it does all the things my poor little brain can't. So please be impressed that my next number is a percentage.  50% of our family got new jobs this month. 50% of that 50% have already started theirs up in Edinburgh and the other 50% will be starting in the new year in London. That particular one has decided her current work wardrobe is unsuitable for her new role and will need to go shopping between now and then. Handy that the new job is in Oxford Street where the worlds largest Topshop is located eh?
I only went out for 1 meal this month and entertained at home once. I went to a wine tasting and tried 6 different wines. I 'accidentally' forgot that you aren't supposed to drink all the samples but spit them out.  2 friends had birthdays so 106 candles would have been lit.
Number of scrapbook pages made - zero. I feel sure that Karen will be turning up any moment to make me sit on the naughty step or sending me for therapy.  Actually, she is a lovely lady so she's more likely to turn up at my door with a plate of lemon meringue cupcakes and a sympathetic ear to try and work out how she can help me find my mojo.  But I've not been un-creative - I made 2 floor cushions, 1 quilt block for the friendship quilt and 2 samples. One of which does not stand up to close scrutiny.  I'm trying to persuade myself that it's imperfection adds to it's charm ...
 I also made some Christmas bunting with 9 pennants for my desk at work.  Now, I'm not normally one for personalising my work space and my wall has boring worky stuff on it. I did once smuggle a Brad Pitt calendar in but was asked to take it down as it was sending out the 'wrong message' to impressionable young girls. It wasn't just me, my friend's George Clooney one had to go too, not to mention the Johnny Depp edition. There was a lot of huffing and puffing that day, I can tell you.  I really don't think that a close up of Brad in the glory days of Thelma and Louise was going to seriously impact on our Year 10's.  For a start, in their eyes he's ancient! I digress.  Whilst chatting to our librarian she showed me a red snowflake she had made at a crotchet class. I mentioned shamelessly hinted how lovely a string of them would look on the partition between me and reception.  She gave me the snowflake and I pinned it up. Every time she walks past, she says she'll be bringing in more very soon.  I told her it would co ordinate beautifully with my decorations and she's promised to make me more.  So, in a moment of guilt at the thought of someone else spending time making something for my desk, I thought I ought to do something myself.  Ta Da .... 
(bunting on show at home before I take it into work on Monday)

However, I have a sneaky feeling that having introduced a little festive decoration into my work life for the first time ever, it is only a matter if time before tinsel, flashing lights and singing reindeers appear.  
At work we spent 30 mins re-learning the proper use of semi-colons. Honestly, just because we work in a school they are so pernickety about us using proper grammar and punctuation.  I mean, everyone knows the most important way to use one is to make a winky smiley face ;-) English is a really difficult language isn't it? Full of rules, and just when you learn the rules you learn the times that you can break the rules. Anyhow, needless to say we are now throwing semi colons into everything we do; it's become a bit of a contest to see who can get the most in. We're sending quite lengthy emails, just to make our sentences longer to get an extra one in.  Which goes to prove that if you work around children long enough, you will eventually revert to being one! 
Now for the communal count ... Drum roll please ... Number of Christmas cards received - zero
Numer of items on a Christmas list -    (Now I have ' making a list, checking it twice' going round my head) 18 on my 'for other people' list and ummmm 2 on my 'for me list' I clearly need to give this a little more thought!

So that is my Month in Numbers which is linking up to Julie's blog, whose month included women with moustaches and men with sonic screwdrivers.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Let's sit and have a cup of ...

Come in, come in.  Let me take your coat, gloves, hat, scarf ... Let's have a nice hot drink to warm you up.  I've got the gluwein mugs out that we got in Cologne a few years ago when we went to visit the Christmas markets, what shall we have in them? Traditional mulled wine or a cup of tea or coffee - you choose!

I'll be asking you if you've started your Christmas shopping yet, and telling you how I have begun to gather a few bits together.  I printed off address labels for my cards last night and plan to write a few each evening rather than trying to write 40 in one sitting!  That makes it more of a chore than a pleasure.  It may also mean that my handwriting is not illegible by the time I get to the XYZ in the address book!
If you noticed the 'Congratulations' card on the side, I'd tell you how my daughter has just got herself a new job.  Starting in the new year; she's very excited.  She's not the only one changing jobs though,  my son has just started a new job up in Edinburgh.  Seems that it is the norm to not stay in the same job for years on end nowadays.
I'm sure we will start to chat about a theme that has been cropping up a lot in blog posts over the last week or so.  The ups and downs of blogging and crafting.  The feeling of obligation taking over from keeping up with everyone else.  I love reading blogs and I love seeing what people are doing/making/seeing.  Sometimes I check blogs quietly on my phone in my lunch hour - make a mental note to leave a comment when I get home and have more time, and then that thought disappears like a plume of smoke.   So please don't think badly of me if you don't see a comment.  If you're in my favourites then I've definitely visited!  As for what we are all crafting, I guess it's like all things, times change, fashions change, something new comes along.  I remember chatting to my friend in Florida about scrapbooking when I was a newly converted scrapbooker. 'That used to be popular round here' she said,' but not so much now.'  At the time I was amazed, how could something so popular fade away?  But now, for me, I see it.  I still love seeing what other people have done but for me, with half an hour to spare I'm more likely to set the sewing machine up than pull out a box of papers. I knew that Project Life would never be for me because after the initial super keen, filling each pocket of the page weeks, there would be a time when I was scratching around trying to desperately find something to put in for that week.  Trouble is that my life has weeks where we don't really go anywhere amazing or do anything terrific or indeed take many photos and whilst some people are brilliant at making a page out of the ordinary, I know that I am not and that would stall me completely. 
I just know that I love the blogging community, I love my blog friends and would hate it if those people whose lives have crossed mine via blogs just stopped blogging.  So don't stop - OK?!  We all seem to have found each other via Shimelle classes - maybe we all need to find something new to kickstart us into a renewed va-va-voom for blogging! 
So much to discuss but I know that Abi is waiting for you - after all it is she who introduced this meme so I feel guilty about keeping you so long.  Come back soon - no doubt there'll be Christmas Cake to finish up!

Sunday 24 November 2013

5 things to think about at midnight

Once again, I'm borrowing one of Sian's ideas from Blog cos you want to club.
Midnight.  It's a multi faceted time isn't it? It can be a glance at your watch while you are at a friend's house which makes you suddenly say: "oh my goodness, look at the time!" Because you've eaten dinner and opened another bottle of wine and are enjoying good conversation in good company and the time has just flown.
Or to can be a quick look at the clock on the bedside table in the dark of the night. With the thought "oh, look at the time, and I'm still awake" and a million things going round in your brain.
So here we go, 5 things to think about at midnight.
1. It's the first seconds of the new year. Big Ben is chiming, streamers are in the air, people are linking arms to sing Auld Lang Syne, you turn to the person next to you and wish them "happy New Year!" In amongst that moment, I think we are all thinking "what will this new year bring?". There have been midnights like that where I have thought "thank goodness that year is over; that was a tough year. Let's hope this one is better." But thankfully those are outnumbered by those where I have silently given thanks for a year of love and health and friendship, and here's to more of the same.
2. It's the first few seconds of Christmas Day, and I have been known to lie in bed trying to recalculate exactly what time I need to get up in order to start cooking the turkey.  What time to par boil the potatoes and when to put the pudding on to steam.  Also hoping that the oven will be large enough for it to fit in bearing in mind we have 14 people for lunch.
3. Midnight - when your 17 year old child has just passed their driving test and gone out to friends in the car on their own for the first time.  They promised to be home by 12 and although you went to bed at the normal time there is no way you can sleep before you know they are back safely.  Thoughts of 'where are they?' And 'I'd love to ring them to see where they are but can't as they are driving' going round and round in your head.  Then the flash of headlights through the blinds as a car pulls onto the drive.  A slam of a car door, keys in the front door and a sigh of relief.  They've made it home safely.
4. Midnight - the day you are going on holiday. The flight is at 6:00 am, you need to check in at 4:00 am. Taxi is booked for 3:30 am. You've both set your alarm clocks and both set the alarms on your phones. Yet you are still lying there worrying about oversleeping and missing the flight.  No wonder I always sleep so well the first night of my holiday; I've barely slept a wink the night before!
5. Midnight - You went to bed at 10.30; you read for a while and turned out the light. You fell into a deep sleep. You wake up and it's still dark. Convinced it must be about 6am you look at the clock. Midnight? It can't just be midnight, surely you've slept for hours? But now you're wide awake. And mentally thinking about shopping lists and things that need to be done next day at work. Or re-running a conversation you've had that's left you concerned, worried or confused.  Thinking about a tough decision you have to make; what are the consequences of various different scenarios?  Realising that you have to put these thoughts on the back burner as there is nothing you can do in the early hours of the morning and things will look different in the morning.  Listening to someone snoring none too quietly next to you and envying them their sleepiness.  Gently nudging them (and sometimes not too gently ...) to change position and stop the snoring so that both of you can get some well earned rest.
What things cross your mind at midnight?  Do you have any handy hints on how best to turn off those thoughts so that sleep can take over? 

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Always read the small print

It was all going according to plan.  Having been engrossed in the new Patchwork & Quilting magazine I was particularly interested in making the Block of the Month.  The idea would be that after a year I would have 12 issues of the magazine, a whole quilt's worth of blocks and learnt 12 new techniques.  Issue one went reasonably well
I liked the effect it made and learnt how to make "Flying Geese". By the eight one they were almost neat and they did all more or less fit together well.
Filled with confidence and enthusiasm, on Sunday I turned my attention to issue two. A paper pieced Origami style tile.  Sounded interesting and I'd never tried that technique before.  It was only the second issue, it surely would be getting more difficult in small increments each month, saving real challenges for the end of the project.   Issue two would only be slightly more difficult than issue one wouldn't it?  Right? Wrong.  Oh my goodness, it involved printing off patterns, holding the fabric on the reverse of the paper and sewing through the top, switching front to back.  Things did not go well.  My vision of a single bed quilt became scaled down to a cushion cover using only issue one's block.  You made this block in quarters and after two, I needed a break. A few days worth of break. I refused to let it beat me and I planned to spend my day off today trying to figure it out again.  Last night I took the magazine up it bed to read some of the articles I hadn't got round to reading before diving into the sewing part at the end.  And what did I see at the bottom of a page in small font?

More advanced quilters.  Advanced? Six months ago I wasn't even a beginner! No wonder I was finding it hard. But after my cooking club lesson this morning which included a glass of prosecco and grand marnier cocktail, and a half glass each of red and white wine to wash down the food I was ready to take on the world, starting one patchwork block at a time.  I got out my fabric and patterns, I re-read the instructions, focused my eyes on stitching straight along the lines and guess what? Ta da!!!!
Turns out all you need to become an advanced patchwork quilter is alcohol.  Secret's out.  What are you waiting for?  Cheers!  Bring on issue three

Sunday 17 November 2013

Simply a Moment in November

The dining room,quite frankly, looks a mess.  The table is strewn with bits of fabric, discarded patterns and colours in an untidy heap at one end.  A selection of squares and rectangles cut and waiting in piles at the other. A box of threads, an elderly pin cushion and a collection of scissors and rotary cutters surround my trusty Riccar sewing machine.  The ironing board is set up in the lounge; funny how I don't mind using it for sewing projects when I dislike using it for the weekly pile of clothes that need attention! 
The double doors to the longe are open and from my vantage point at the dining room table I can see the rugby on the tv.  Words of encouragement and 'advice' are being shouted from the husband resident sports advisor sitting in the armchair.  We are losing.  The All Blacks seem to have had more chances/luck.  Oblivious to the sporting action, the sleepy dog is dozing in her spot on the sofa.  
A new project is on the go.  A newly published quilting magazine has a section at the end which gives a Block of the Month.  If I buy it and follow it for a year I will end up with twelve 12" squares to put into a sampler quilt.  I have both of the magazines and no blocks made.  Today I intend to put that right and with no other plans for the afternoon, have sorted through fabric and made a start.  This will be a perfect project to compliment the Friendship Quilt organised by Fiona.  I have new fabrics for those squares, so plenty of off cuts for the magazine project.  
The magazine block is more intricate than I thought, it requires a lot of concentration.  But oh, there is 'Simply a Moment' of satisfaction when it all comes together.

Simply a Moment is a meme organised by Alexa - pop over there and see what others are up to this month. 

Friday 15 November 2013

Useful things

Sometimes I get a spooky feeling that someone is reading my mind.  Knowing what I'm thinking even though I've only just thought of it.  How I'm sitting on the sofa realising it's been a week since I last blogged but what have I got to share with my blog friends. Then I notice that Sian  has updated her blog and lo and behold - what to blog about when you've got nothing to blog about! That's more than a coincidence surely?
So now I'm sitting here mulling over what I can share under the heading of

5 Things it is useful to know.

Because we all know useful things, but there must be something obscure that could be shared

For instance.  you've got biro on a white apple laptop or washable wallpaper, or even a handbag.  How would you get it out? Nail varnish remover? No, it'll likely melt the plastic or take the colour out the wallpaper.  Washing liquid? No, won't touch it.  The answer my dear blog friends is a squirt of hairspray.  Unlikely I know but trust me, it works.  I have personal experience on all three counts.  Son's laptop, lounge wallpaper and daughter's Mulberry handbag.  All rescued.

It's also useful to know how to get the bathroom door unlocked from the outside if a) you have accidentally somehow locked it as you closed it whilst you were running a bath and went downstairs to answer a phone call and closed the door to stop the bath loving dog from going in or b) Grandma can't remember how the handle works.  Oh yes, a thin screwdriver (like the ones you get in Christmas crackers) poked into the hole in the handle works a treat. But only if you have the same design of handle that we do obviously!

In our house, it's useful to know that when the dog jumps on your lap, turns to face you, keeps standing on your knees, looking you in the eyes with an unblinking stare, she needs to go out into the garden for an (ahem) comfort break.  This is a very useful thing to know.

It's very useful to know that if you break an egg into a bowl and a bit of shell breaks off and floats around, if you lower a larger bit of shell in there, it will attract the small piece so you can get it out easily instead of chasing it around with a spoon.

It's also useful to know curry stains will come out of a pale shirt if you soak the affected part for a little while in a solution of a little bit of bleach in some hot water.  Neat bleach is a no-no even on white fabric it goes yellow but if you are careful, and keep an eye on things there will be no evidence of your husband's messy eating. 

So that's it.  One blog post written and now the whole of blog land knows that we are a family of messy eaters, careless cooks, who have leaky pens, a desperate dog who also loves a bubble bath and lock their elderly relatives in the bathroom.

Friday 8 November 2013

This week

This week:
  • I've got both patchwork floor cushions up to the hand finishing stage.
  • I discovered that just because a rotary cutter blade isn't sharp enough to cut fabric neatly doesn't mean it doesn't have the capacity to slice a chunk out of your thumb.
  • The dog has been a bit confused by the sounds of fireworks going on around the area.  I don't know how to break the news to her that a full on firework display and bonfire party is planned for tonight over at the cricket field practically next to our house.
  • I put a large amount of scrapbooking paper and card into a storage box and moved it into the utility room.  My husband expressed how happy he was that there was now a large tidy space in the spare bedroom until ...
  • I replaced the space made by the paper tidying with fabric and quilt wadding.
  • Whilst entering data for applicants to our school, I realised that some people don't appreciate that naming your child after your favourite Disney fairy isn't necessarily going to be a good idea by the time she is a teenager.  Especially if she does not turn out to be a delicate, pink loving, ballet dancing girl.
  • I was horrified to learn that the lady who takes the Fitsteps class was ill and her friend - a crazy Zumba fanatic - was taking the class. 
  • I was equally ecstatic when her audio equipment broke after the first routine and we all had to go home early (lucky escape, or what?!)
  • My friend's book was published - and on sale in bookshops worldwide.  So very excited for her - it really is proof that dreams do come true.
  • I bought some Christmas cards.  That's pretty early for me but why put it off when I knew I was going to be buying them anyway?
  • I finished off the quilt square to send to Alexa as part of the Friendship Quilt
It's been a busy old week, and I'm pleased I've finished work, it's now Friday afternoon and the weekend officially starts now!  Have a good weekend everyone!

Sunday 3 November 2013

Storytelling Sunday - November

In the middle of October I shared the story of how I became pen pals with my friend Cindy and this month my precious is a gift she sent me back in the 70s.  I was a keen sewer back then and Cindy sent me this pincushion.

She had picked it up at a craft fair and thought it was fun. I thought it was fun too and I've kept using it all these years. Her hair's a little greyer and thinner nowadays and she's a little faded and worn which just goes to prove that over time pincushions become much like their owners. (Or should that be 'owners become much like their pincushions')

Here she is, modelling the front of the patchwork floor cushion I'm making for my niece's son for Christmas.  I couldn't have done it without her! 

This post is written as part of Sian's Storytelling Sunday. We've only got a couple more chances to share our Precious items, so quickly - pop along to High in The Sky here to see what everyone is sharing this month.