Friday, 30 October 2015


H's final piece of embroidery,  a cat mask for his little sister

We both had hysterics at the pose.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Ta Daa

Clever boy. Did all the thread changes etc himself.

Clever boy!

All the grandchildren are lovely, and have skills in different areas.  I ike spending time with each and very one of them.

This post, however, is about one in particular:  My (step)daughter's middle child..

He's 9 years old, and loves to learn how things work.  He likes to say back to you what he thinks you've said to him, so he can make sure he has got it right.  He's both technically minded, and artistic.

He likes coming to stay with us, and is always full of enthusiasm for anything and everything.  He loves trying my sewing machine and embroidery machine - it appeals to both his technically minded side and is creative side.

Often children are mildly interested in something, but it's a momentary thing rather than a real thirst.  I don't mind that, I just adapt how much or how little detail I go in to.

Since he last visited, I've got a new embroidery machine.  He watched me thread it, and from then on, he was able to thread it himself.  He listened when I explained the buttons and options, and he's now operating it himself.  He picks out the threads to use, and checks with me.

We started with some simple pencil toppers...
To see whether he was really understanding what he was doing, I asked him why we had to wait until the final outline stitch before putting the back on. He looked at the partially stitched design, screwed his eyes up and thought for a moment,  and then said "because we wouldn't be able to get the pencil in".

I love that.  It makes the effort worthwhile!

And now he's making a Werewolf mask. I'd bought  the design thinking it was a quick 10 minute mask, but it's actually horrendously detailed.  He's sticking with it though, and is completely in charge of making it. It's over 60,000 stitches, and the stitch time (not counting the time it takes to do all the thread changes) is over 90 minutes.   He's about a third through at the mo.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Thief in the night

Izzy suffers from epilepsy.

She's on medication for it, and we have to try and give it to her at exactly the right time.  For a couple of years now she has been on 2 tablet, twice a day, 12 hours apart.  We usuallly do this at 10am and 10pm.  She has other tablets as well, and she always gets rewarded with some cat treats afterwards.

Recently the frequency of fits has increased, and we've now had to up her dosage. Looking at the pattern, and after discussion with the Vet,  we've had to change her to 3 times a day.  To get these evenly spaced out has been quite difficult.  We tried 8am, 4pm, 12am.    This has meant we're staying up much later than we're used to, and we're having trouble getting up in the morning. [DH is retired and I work from home]

We had a great idea. We'd take Izzy's morning tablets (and treats) upstairs when we went to bed, and then we could give them to her first thing, without having to get up, go downstairs, and fart about.  We put them in an egg cup on DH's nightstand.

The first night I drifted off to sleep and woke when I heard a little crinkle.  Immediately I knew what it was.  It was Izzy treading on the headache tablets that DH keeps on his night stand. 

Sure enough, Izzy was helping herself to the treats in the egg cup.  Not the tablets, of course, just the treats.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Once upon a time

I made some finger puppets for DGDs. I can't find a post with them in, so here they are:
Little Red Riding Hood, Grandma, and Wolf

Beauty and the Beast

Sleeping Beaity, wicked fairy, Prince

Witch,  Gretel, Hansel
 I also added some hair bits

Sunday, 18 October 2015


Found a suitably chocolatey design for my chocaholic daughter-in-law's birthday card.

I'm not sure that it's really the sort of chocolate that she loves, but it made me smile. Hopefully it'll make her smile too.
 I've embroidered directly on to felt, which doesn't pucker as much as ordinary fabric.  I also included a satin stitch frame in the design,  as this gives  a neat edge to trim back to for a tidy finish.   I used tearaway stabiliser and used double sideed tape round the edges and in an X across the middle to stick it to the card.

I printed and trimmed an A4 landscape insert (which I didn't photograph, sorry) which has stars on one side and a personal message on the other. That was lightly glued down the fold and pressed in. It gives a much better finish to the overall card.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Over it

Gloria snapped out of being broody.

After her dustbathing session with Poppy the other day, she went back on to the nestbox.  I went out with some pasta, called her (and the others), and she came running.   After the pasta, she didn't go back on the nest box.

She is now very interested in the incomers, and chases them whenever their paths cross.   She doesn't go out of her way to find them to terrorise them, although I am watching out for that.

At the moment, the littlees keep out of her way.  As soon as Gloria and Poppy vacate their run, the littlees run in. 

The two groups are sleeping separately, and I have no immediate plans to force integration.  I can see that, if I do, Fleur (cuckoo marans) will get the brunt of it.  The other two are nimble, light, and sprightly, and can fly up and out of trouble.  She can't.

I have removed the fencing that separated their two pens though.  I'd had the "gate" open for a while anyway. I left the fence up as a potential barrier for the littlees. However, I can see that they might get cornered on it, so I've moved it right out of the way.

Step by step. No rush.


It's been several weeks since I've been down to see the chooks on the allotment.  DH has been going, I've been working.

I went down today to muck out.  It was lovely to be greeted by a sea of chickeny faces waiting to be let out for a munch on the grass.  Henry looks great, but many of the girls are moulting and are in varying stages of oven-readiness.  The two oldest hens,  Siouxsie Sioux and Not Norman (Norman's sisters) are over 6 years old now and are starting to show signs of their age;  I'm wondering if they will live through the winter. 

The biggest changes were in the Dinner Chick pen.   As I feared, we have only 1 girl, and so we have to take action sooner rather than later.   The cuckoo marans boy is stunning;  the Araucana is covered in lemon feathers;  the Wyandotte boy has blossomed into a really handsome chap;  and the remaining 4 boys look like small Henrys.

They are 21 weeks old now, and I think we'll have to do a cull before we get any problems. 

I really dislike this part.

There are too many to cull in one go, so we have to make some decisions.  It's probably best to leave the dominant male until the end - otherwise we'll create a vacancy and it'll cause the remaining boys to fight.  The araucana isn't going to get to a sensible table size anyway, so he might as well be part of the first group.  We have only 1 girl, so it's probably best that she goes.  And I guess 2 of Henry's sons. That';; be 4 gone and 4 remaining. 

Just need to organise it now. 

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Sew slow

I'm working at the moment and it doesn't leave much time for anything else.

I did eventually complete a banner for a Texan friend's new baby.

I'm waaay behind on my making.
Gloria took time off from her broodiness to have a dustbath. Poppy was ecstatic.   They aren't bosom buddies, but Poppy has definitely been lonely while Gloria has been occupied.  I'd often dfind Poppy sitting next to Gloria's nest box.    My heart  smiled when I saw them having a joint dust bath today.

I couldn't get to the camera in time to capture the moment...but I did snap them together.
After this, Gloria charged at the Littlees for a while.   She ignores them completely when she is on the nest and they are right in front of her, so it was a bit of a shock for them all.

I was really hoping that Gloria would snap out the broodiness, but she settled back on the nest again.

Untl I went outside with some pasta.

She was off that nest and down the garden, like a hen being chased.

I had to separate Poppy and Gloria from the Littlees while the pasta was around.  There are NO manners where pasta is concerned.

Fleur, the Marans, timidly ate some from my hand, running away with a strand in her beak each time.   Sasha, the Appenzeller,  and Fay, the Fayoumi, would not come and take any from me, although they did attempt to mug Fleur each time.

When it was over, Gloria went back to the nest.

But Poppy crouched for me!  Maybe she's thinking about coming back into lay.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Should I be embarrassed?

We have a couple of bird feeders outside our kitchen, and we get lots of birds visiting.   Lately, we've had quite a few birds (or the same bird over and over) taking off from one of the feeders and flying into the kitchen french window.

In the last couple of days. we've also had a bird fly into the house by mistake, when the french window has been open.   The first time the birdie flew into the living room, landed on the living room window ledge, and I opened the window and it flew out.  Today, the bird landed on top of the kitchen cupboards. Then it flew across the kitchen, and landed on top of the cupboards on the other side.

Wash, our ginger cat,  sat in the middle of the floor to watch the show.

I decided to go and do something else, in the hope that the bird would fly out of the kitchen. I came back some minutes later, and the bird flew across the kitchen, covered in....fluff.  The cupboards on that side of the kitchen reach almost to the ceiling.  Not enough of a gap to get my arm in to clean,  but a big enough gap (obviously) for all sorts of old spider webs, dust and fluff to settle.  Until a little birdy comes along and fluffs it all up.

The poor bird had trouble flying, it was so weighted down by the fluff it had picked up.  I considered trying to help, but every time I went towards it, it flew away.

I opened both french windows, put a coat on (it's bloody bold with the doors open) and left the room.

Later, I couldn't hear any more fluttering and I assumed that the bird had found it's way out.

I was wrong.

It flew in front of me in the living room, and landed on the curtain rail.  Then the curtain rail at the opposite end of the room.  Then it hit the window.  Then it started to try and get out of the window, but just keep hitting it.

By this time, I'd reached the window, and managed to get the key and unlocked it. I then had to scoosh the poor little thing out, trying not to give it a heart attack.  It fell out of the window, just as Wash jumped up on the window sill to "help".

It's been sitting in the shrub for some time now.  I'm assuming it's a bit disorientated, but I guess it's best left to sort things out itself. It seems to have managed to remove the great clog of detritus, so I guess that's something.
I guess I should be embarrassed at the obvious state of the top of my cupboards.

Friday, 2 October 2015


I was spreading my time between making finger puppets for DTGDs (twins) and measuring out and mixing ingredients for several Christmas puddings.  I kept hearing a sound which, at first, I thought was a baby crying,  and then I realised it was a cat growling.  I ran outside.

Washburn was having a face-off with the most enormous cat I've ever seen.

DH was already in the garden, and had accidentally interrupted the stand-off, which had started on the shed roof.   I left the house and walked round to the park,  following the sound.  And then I found them,

Two cats,  sitting, facing each other,  gato a gato.

Wash v Enormous B&W cat
It went on for a looong time.  Eventually, the enormous cat turned away a little.  Then, imperceptibly,  a bit more.  Eventually, he was sideways on.   

The creeping movement continued.  After some time, he had his back to Wash.  Then he started to walk away.  Not running,  he walked in very, very, slow motion.

 He climbed up on to a hump of earth, and sat, facing Wash.

Wash started to move.  He turned around, and had the same, slow motion walking, as he moved away.  He stopped and marked the territory, then continued, and then climbed on a pile of sandbags. He was higher than the other cat.

I suspect it was a respectful draw, with Wash having a slight edge as he hgad been the last cat standing.

Both cats turned and looked at me.

I crept away.

Much later, I went to check for dead bodies.  There were none.

Wash was asleep on the chair in the summerhouse.  He purred when I stroked him.  I realised that, in his mind, he is the Giant.