Friday, 30 January 2015

Dress A Girl Around the World

I've had the sewing machine out again today but I've not been quilting - I'm still psyching myself up for the border. Instead I've made a pillowcase dress for the charity 'Dress A Girl'. After my stitching in the ditch fiasco I needed something that seemed fairly simple to pull off to restore my confidence. 

I chose to make a dress for a 5-6 year old out of a floral pillowcase Tom gave me that I knew I'd never use. The length of dresses vary according to age but this template for the armhole covers ages 5-9.
It was all fairly easy to do. Hem the open end of the pillowcase to the correct length, cut off the top of the pillow case to make the neck and then cut out the armholes.
Turn the neck over and sew so that a piece of elastic can be passed through. Then sew the elastic in place at both ends and work the material along so that it gathers.
It took me about an hour to get to this stage as I kept measuring and re-checking what I was supposed to be doing, but a proficient seamstress could no doubt have it completely finished in half the time. I've ordered some bias binding which goes around the arm holes and is kept long to be used as ties on the shoulder. It actually looks like a sundress doesn't it?
I even added a double pocket by using the flap of the case and sewed some buttons on as a finishing touch because every little girl likes a bow or flower or pretty buttons don't they. Anyway, get me - I've nearly made a dress with a double pocket and buttons. 
I can't wait for the bias binding to arrive so that I can finish it. Mum's an excellent sewer so I've got back up if I struggle with that bit. It was really fun to do and it's nice to know that a little girl somewhere in the world will be wearing it one day.

I'm going to make one for a younger child out of the owl material - I have loads of it left over - slight miscalculation when ordering - so I may as well put it to good use. Then next on my list will be for an older girl as ones for this age group are needed most.


Thursday, 29 January 2015

It's Arrived

No, I'm not talking about the snow! My lighthouse picture arrived late yesterday afternoon and I can't tell you how thrilled I am with it. Josie had sent me a tracking number and I'd been logging on to Royal Mail for the past couple of days to see where it was. Apparently "in progress" seems to be a good enough clue because that's the only message I kept getting.

Anyway, it came just after Thomas got in from school and the little man himself was first to the parcel.  He wanted to know if it was the XBox game he'd ordered the night before. We obviously need to work on common sense and measurements!
The excitement I felt as I opened it was unbelievable. It's been a long time since I've really looked forward to receiving something so much. It was certainly well packaged. The first layer of bubble wrap I removed gave a tantalising clue as to what was to come.
And removing the second layer gave me an even better idea of what delights lay in store. I loved it already and it was still wrapped up.
And then there it was. Talacre Lighthouse. Absolutely beautiful. Josie had captured it perfectly. It was certainly above and beyond anything I'd imagined.
I wanted it on the wall right there and then so Mark obliged and got out his trusty rolling pin for a spot of picture hanging.
I've struggled to take a decent picture of it because of the light and reflections but this will give you an idea of what it looks like. Unfortunately, my photography skills really don't do it justice which is such a shame.
I keep walking over to look at the tiny stitches and different pieces of material Josie has used.
The glass effect at the top of the lighthouse is beautiful and she's even got the rainbow in that I asked for.

Talacre was the first family holiday we had after my heart attack. The walk on the beach that day was perfect and I can't describe the joy of watching Amy and Thomas clambouring over the rocks and climbing up the steps.
I know that every time I look at this I'll be transported right back to that perfect holiday and time in our lives. Thank you Josie.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Stitching in the Ditch

Well, trying to! I pinned the quilt together last night. Then I read that you can buy adhesive to hold the pieces together which would probably have been a lot easier. But I would have needed to order it on-line which would have meant waiting a few more days and I wanted to get on with it.
So I got the sewing machine out this afternoon and sat down to have a go at stitching in the ditch. Oh Boy! It was much harder than I thought. The material kept moving and 'bubbling' and I had to unpick my first two attempts. Then the quick unpick rolled onto the floor and before I could get to it Wendy stole it. She's taken it upstairs somewhere and I still can't find it.
The safety pins weren't working so I took them all out and tacked the pieces together. By now I was wishing I'd ordered the glue. 
It worked a bit better than the pins so then it was a case of getting it under the machine and starting again.
The quilt measures about 3x4 ft and I found it hard to handle so I've no idea how people cope with anything bigger. Maybe it's all down to practise and experience.

Truthfully, I really did not enjoy this part of quilting one bit. I didn't expect it to be perfect but my attempts at stitching in the ditch were terrible, so I just sewed straight lines up and down and even they leave a lot to be desired.

It wasn't so much a sense of achievement I felt today than a sense of relief when it was all over.

I'm only hoping the border will be easier. I'm torn between leaving it for a few days or meeting it head on and trying to get it finished by the end of the weekend. We'll see what happens.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Apple Cake

Wendy wasn't well last night. She was sick twice. Once on the carpet and then for some reason she walked over to my slippers and was sick in one of those. Nice. I'm sure Cesar Millan would be able to read something into that.

I read in school this morning for half an hour. The children have PE at 9.30 so I'm away quite early on Tuesdays. Just as well really as I had a load of housework to do that took up the rest of the morning. I can't decide whether I'm getting slower in my old age or whether we're getting more untidy or maybe a combination of both, but I swear I never used to spend this much time cleaning.

I made Amy's favourite pudding this afternoon. Apple upside down cake. Given half the chance she'd eat most of this by herself and still be a skinny minnie. I had 4 bruised gala apples so I just cut these up and cooked them in water for 10 mins, then put them in the bottom of the dish.
Then I mde a quick 'all in' 4oz cake mixture. I don't bother creaming and sieving these days and it always seems to turn out fine.
 Cover the apples with the mixture then into the oven for about 30-40 minutes.
 It's lovely on its own and we also have it with custard.  If Amy finds it first though we're lucky to get any.


Monday, 26 January 2015

All Aboard!

I'm typing this at the dining table and the fragrance from the hyacinths is beautiful. They've certainly come on in the couple of weeks since I bought them. One is packed full of petals while the other is looking a bit spindly but scent wise they are certainly doing their job.
Mum has gone to my sisters for a few days so I took her to the station this morning. I have to actually put her on the train because she has a phobia of getting on the wrong one ever since the time she ended up in Coventry instead of Cheltenham! That was probably about 17 years ago and somebody has had to accompany her right onto the platform ever since.

My owl material arrived this morning. The owls are a lot bigger than what I expected, they looked quite tiny on the photo, but I still love them. At some point this week I'll be taking my quilting journey to the next level and pinning the wadding and material together.
It's gone very cold here again and it's windy, but at least I've been able to dry two loads of bedding on the line.

I'm investigating Ingleton Waterfalls in Yorkshire for our 3rd night away at Easter. They look stunning and I'd love to go. There are 9 trails and I need to figure out whether there are any easy routes and if there are any hotels/B&B's nearby.


Sunday, 25 January 2015

It's good to talk

Our meal last night was lovely and the chef at Number 38 ain't half bad. Although the food was great I got the most enjoyment out of the conversation that flowed around the table and all the different subjects that got covered. As parents we try to answer as truthfully as possible any questions that arise and trust me our parenting skills were put to the test last night.

The fillet cost £16.50 and we bought 2 bottles of wine for £9.50 which meant that with the starter and dessert our 3 course meal for 4 cost just over £30, which is much cheaper than going out.

I get a lot of pleasure from setting the dining table and lighting a candle.
And I love faffing around trying to make a simple dessert look a bit fancy.
 Thomas enjoyed the home made bread, tried a bit of the soup, ate a plateful of fries and managed a couple of pieces of steak. He didn't want any profiteroles though.

But he did keep us entertained while we ate ours by telling us that when he grows up he's going to be a policeman, work for the RSPCA or be a computer hacker. He also covered camping, terrorism, sex and told us a few jokes. 

It all made for a far more interesting meal than if Mark and myself had gone out on our own and as the saying goes "it's good to talk".


Saturday, 24 January 2015

Bread Making

Tonight we are having minestrone soup, fillet steak and profiteroles. I haven't made the soup but I've made the bread to go with it.

Amy loves homemade bread and asked me to  make some in the week but I didn't have any flour. I've just used the recipe which is on the side of the flour packet.
 It's so simple to make I don't know why I don't do it more often.
 The kneading part was the hardest and I had to keep stopping for a rest.
 I decided to make a cob which is simply a case of shaping it into a round.
 Then leaving it on the tray to rise for 45 minutes.
No need for re-kneading. It went straight into the oven for 15 minutes on 230C, then 15 minutes on 200C and this was the result.
And 15 minutes later the first slice was cut for Amy to have with butter and strawberry jam. I'll have to wait for it to cool as warm bread gives me indigestion.
I'm looking forward to dunking it in the soup later on tonight.


Friday, 23 January 2015

I feel like the hungry caterpillar

In an attempt to try once again to lose some weight I have had a biscuit free week and chosen fruit instead. Today I've had strawberries, 2 pears and a tangerine and I'm beginning to feel like the hungry caterpillar. If I haven't lost any weight tomorrow after my sterling efforts I will be hitting the chocolate digestives again. 

I had a message from Josie Russell today. My lighthouse commission is finished. She sent me a sneak preview to make sure I was happy with it. I can't wait for it to arrive and I promise I will unveil it to you all as soon as I get it. If you haven't seen her work, type in  'Josie Russell Facebook' and have a look. I could have collected it directly from her which I would have loved to do so that I could meet her and thank her personally, but unfortunately, we live too far away.

Amy was one of 20 students chosen to attend a talk by somebody from Cambridge University today and Thomas won a Headteacher award for good work so there was a lot of one-upmanship at the dining table tonight which was quite amusing.


Thursday, 22 January 2015

Big Cookie Day

Every morning Thomas asks me what day it is. When I say Thursday his face lights up and he says "Yeah, big cookie day".
I put a primrose and a bunch of tulips in the shopping trolley today. I'd really like the primrose to go on the coffee table to add a bit of colour to the room but Wendy hasn't been overly blessed in the brain department and will quite happily munch her way through any plant or flower she can get to. So it's gone on the kitchen windowsill. I'm going to have a look in the shed later and see if I can find a plant pot.

I could only see one set of bagpipes in Lidl this morning so some poor neighbours in the Middleton area must be suffering at the moment.

Tom treated us to a carvery lunch and very nice it was too. He mentioned he'd like a holiday but didn't want to go on his own so I said we'd take him away for a few days if he liked. He did like, very much, and within an hour of getting home we'd booked a lovely hotel on the front at Lytham St Annes for a few days.

I love Lytham. We used to go for weekends before the kids were born and we've taken them with us a fair few times since. It's only an hour away and is very quaint with its promenade, gardens, bandstand and outdoor paddling pool. The beach is lovely and it has a nice shopping area, plus it's very quiet and family orientated (in an understated way). 

We're not going until the weather gets warmer but it's on the calendar and I'm really looking forward to it already.


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Back to winter

Just to keep me on my toes it snowed this morning so I had to revert back to winter mode. Then it rained and the snow disappeared leaving us with wet and grey, so I now want spring again. Mum would call me fickle and she'd be right.
I bought a pair of Pyjama bottoms in the sale at BHS. They were reduced from £16 to £8 and are a lovely fleecy cotton. I never buy a PJ set because my top is bigger than my bottom so I just match the bottoms up with a t-shirt. I also bought some reduced Christmas chocolates and 3 pairs of tights for Amy.

It would seem that beds in care homes are just like buses - they all arrive at once. We had a phone call yesterday letting us know there was a bed in one of the homes Mark had been to see a couple of weeks ago. Just to make sure Tom was certain about where he wanted Joan to go we took him to have a look round but he decided to go with the initial one.

Tonight Thomas has to write three subordinating sentences and three relative clause sentences. I recall him doing this at the beginning of term and having to look it up on the internet so I could help him. Thankfully he knew what to do this time because to be quite honest I'd forgotten and I didn't have a clue and neither did Amy. It turns out when she was at primary they were called connective sentences. 
They've also changed the way they do times tables so for example if they were saying their 6 times tables, instead of saying 1x6=6, 2x6=12, 3x6=18, they say 6x1=6, 6x2=12, 6x3=18. I know this shouldn't make any difference but I'm really struggling to invert my brain. I just wish the basics of education would stay the same.


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Moving On

Moving on from winter to spring..... The first little flower has bloomed on my hyacinth. It doesn't look as though we'll be getting any more snow at Number 38, so after seeing this I've moved on from winter and I'm in 'can't wait for spring' mode.
Moving on from crochet to quilting..... I've ordered some material for the back of my quilt. I know I should really wait until I see something in a charity shop but I just want to finish it. Its an owl print and after putting all that effort into the stars I might as well have something I like as the backing.
Moving on to the next quilt ..... The cutting mat has been out today and I've been cutting 6" squares for my next quilt. I'm going to make a zig-zag one and the colour theme will be blue.
Moving on for Joan..... We went to look at a home last week which seemed very nice. It's the fourth one Mark has seen and he thought it was the best one, although the others were fine as well. The Manager went to assess Joan today and seems happy to take her. They have 2 beds available so we just need to cross a few t's and dot a few i's and hopefully in the next few weeks she'll be settled in her new home. 

Moving on from a potential overdose .....When I handed Tom his oramorph last week I told him he could have either a small spoonful (2.5ml) or a big spoonful (5ml) every 4 hours. When I saw him the next day I asked how he was getting on with the medicine. Fine, he replied, I had 2 big spoons just before I went to bed and I slept really well. I bet he did! I'm not sure which part of my instructions he didn't understand but he's lived to tell the tale. 


Monday, 19 January 2015

Crochet Picture

Crocheting flowers is addictive and I've had to stop because although I love making them I've no idea what to do with them. I decided with these few that I would make a picture. 
Every flower needs a stem and after a little bit of thought I tried crocheting 2 greens together at the same time in chain stitch. 

I think they turned out OK. I bought a load of wool 2 years ago to crochet a blanket with as part of my HA recuperation, so I've just used what's in the box. It's nothing special but was fine for what I needed. 

At first I tried one stem per flower, but it looked a bit, well stemmy. 
Then I tried adding buttons to the centre of each flower but couldn't decide whether they looked better with or without.
While I was pondering I went back to a youtube tutorial I'd found called happyberry to see how to make leaves. Her teaching technique seems to have just clicked with me, probably because she goes quite slowly and I can crochet along with her.

By making the flowers and leaves I've now learnt what a slip stitch, half double, double and treble crochet stitch is. I've also learnt how to increase and decrease. I wouldn't be able to read a pattern though. I'm much better at watching somebody do things.

Then Mum came down for her usual cup of coffee and game of chess with Thomas. I showed her what I'd made and quite naturally she arranged the flowers, stems and leaves like this. Perfect.
I'd made a 'vase' and put the flowers in it to see what they looked like. Not sure. 
Finally, I decided. Flowers bunched together. Less stems. No buttons and no vase - mainly because of the size of the picture frame I had.

I steamed all the pieces and just used a glue stick to hold them in place.
And here's the finished product.  I've had this frame for years. It seems to be a week of dragging things from the back of wardrobes and cupboards, dusting them off and putting them to use again. 
I've hung it in the porch where the birdhouse is. 
Another enjoyable few days faffing around in between the normal household duties.