Thursday, 29 June 2017

Kefir revisited

Im still carrying on with the goats milk Kefir.  I think today is day 15.

I need to take a photo of my fizzog and compare the rosacea now to the rosacea before I started.
I still wince at drinking the stuff, but it no longer makes me retch,  and the thought of it doesn't make me retch.  I'm able to drink it fairly quickly, with little or no procrastinating.

If I do as directed and drink the Kefir on an empty stomach and wait a while before I eat,  then it really gets to work.    It's less obvious if I take it after I've had my breakfast (even if I wait until lunchtime and have it for lunch).

The Kefir lotion  is working wonders on my poor sore feet. 

I'm having goats milk for my lattes.

I haven't noticed a dramatic change in my bloating, so it may well be that it's not cows milk (or the A1 protein in cows milk) that it causing a problem.    I eat a lot of bread, so I guess that could be the cause.       The reality is, it's probably just "sugar belly".   When I eat refined sugar (if I have sweets, for example, or ice cream) then my belly definitely swells up.  I'm short waisted,  so there aren't many places for this to go, hence the sugar belly.

I've decided to continue with a second batch of Kefir.   Chuckling Goat recommends a 9 week course (which is 3 batches) and, so far, I'm happy to carry on with that.

Skirting around things

I made  another skirt. Just a simple maxi skirt, no shape,  yogaband for the waist.     Still had a few sewing glitches,  that was down to my lack of ability.  Skirt was still perfectly wearable.  Not sure how it'll stand up to the washing machine.

And I've nearly finished yet another maxi skirt as well.  It's the hot weather. It's so much more comfortable than trousers,  and I don't have to expose my legs.

 It's just a trapezium shape,   front and back are identical,  each cut on the fold.  Sew up one side.  Sew open a slit (to prevent me tripping over) on the other side, then sew the rest of that side up.  Attach a yoga waistband. Hem.  Finished.     When I made my first successful (wearable despite the flaws) maxi skirt last year, I  made a cardboard template of the pattern.  Now I just put the pattern on my washed, pressed and folded fabric, and cut it out.  Transfer the markings to match the sides up and to tell me where to put the top of the slit,  and away I go.

It's entirely possible I will have a whole wardrobe of these before the summer is over, although it is my intention to find a summer dress style that suits me.  I've had a relapse and have bought a big bundle of cotton fabric.   I had been resisiting buying any because I already have lots. (It's just every time I go to use some I think, "Oh but I was thinking I'd make a dress out of that").

My attempt to create an empire line blueprint is hanging, unfinished, over the back of a chair.   A floaty peasant style blouse is lying on the spare bed, waiting for me to bind the neck.    Both UFOs (UnFinished Objects) require more thinking and effort than I'm prepared to expend at the mo.

My sewing machine, coverstitch, and overlocker have all been working,  and I love each of them.

All I need now is my new (to me) embroidery machine.

More news on that, maybe, at the weekend.

Hens and sheds

Today I decided to shut Gloria out of the nest box.  She hasn't taken it well.

She's been broody since about the 18th May, 6 weeks today.  She's been a trooper,  and I wish we'd been in a position to give her some eggs to hatch.   She's not shown any sign of coming off the nest of her own volition, so I've taken some action.

The three youngsters have now ALL taken to laying in one of the stand-alone nest boxes, down on the run floor.    We're back to nest box squabbles, because they all want the same nest box.    Honestly, we have 2 cubes (althoughj 1 of them was occupied by Gloria,  but Poppy manages to lay her egg each day) which each have HUGE nestboxes; and we have two roomy standalone nest boxes.  And they all HAVE to use the same ones.

With the oppressive hot weather, earlier in the week we completely rearranged their free range area, so that they could have the back fence and the fruit cage.  The back fence has hedging all along, and this is cool and pleasant even on the fiercest of days.  

This meant that their usual area, including the pampas,  gets a bit of a rest.

It was helpful because the material for DH's workshop arrived, and that took up most of the garden.

He's been building it, single handedly,  for several days now.  It's double walled and insulated, the floor is insulated etc etc, so it's a slow process.   He used that hexagonal plastic stuff for the base, filled with pea shingle.  Superb.  He build the previous shed on that,  and it worked really well, and we could see how well it worked when we (well, he)  removed the old shed. 

Minor arguments along the way "It's too small, why didn't you get a size bigger?" (Me).    And various other squabbles about what was going in there, where it was going, and why it wouldn't work.  It'll get sorted in the end.  

It looks lovely.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017


It's so hot and airless, I'm struggling to get the enthusiasm to do anything.

Three days ago, I put on a me-made maxi skirt. That's how hot it is (it takes a lot of heat for me to not wear trousers).   Actually, it was sooo comfortable, I think I might have to run up some more.

DH commented on how pretty it was, and asked if I made it myself.  Yesterday I wore it again, with a different coloured/style top.   DH asked if that was another dress I'd made.      To be fair, the skirt is multicoloured (really lovely fabric),  and the colours that "pop out" really are affected by the colour of the top I wear.

Today I wore another one, with a different colour/style top.  This top, not home made,  was a lovely colour, but was far too baggy and sack like.  It occurred to me that if I just turned up the hem (by about 8 inches) it wouldn't look so frumpy.   So, I did. 

I coverstitched it, and it looked great.  I then trimmed it (which I should, of course, have done first).   And of course I managed to cut a hole in it.   Bother.

It's at the back.  It's not particularly noticeable.  It'll last until I take it off tonight to wash it (when it will most likely fall apart).

Apart from that,  I was really pleased that my on-the-hoof adapation went well.

In other news,  I've sewn up the top from yesterday.  I need to put binding on the neck,  and then hem the sleeves and the hem.  It's too hot to even think about doing that now. 

Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Progress, of sorts

I'm pleased to be able to report sort of progress on several fronts.

Firstly, I no longer heave at the thought of drinking goats milk kefir.   I am still struggling with the taste when I'm actually drinking it.  I'm confident that this will get better as the days go by.

Secondly, I finally opened, washed, hen carefully folded and labelled  all the piles of fabric bought when I had a moment of weakness and procrastination.

And thirdly, I cleared enough space so I could cut out the front of a new blouse pattern I'd started working on some time ago (before my sewjo went on holiday).  I even tried to think about pattern placement, as the fabric has bands of colour.

It's a bit of a shame that I realised part way through cutting out, that I'd only actually adapted the neckline and shoulders.  I hadn't got round to adapting the side or the length.   It was remarkably good fortune that I realised this when I was half way through cuttind the side.    I made an emergency adaptation (which, on reflection, may tutn our to be a bit of a mistake), and carried on with the cutting.

I then realised that I hadn't done a matching back pattern,  so I worked that out the adaptations required to my Blueprint so that it matched the new front,  drafted it and... remembered to think about pattern placement. It's not exactly pattern matching, but I do need to try and get it right. ish.

This morning, I sewed carefully stay stitched the armholes and neckline (not that long ago, I'd never heard of stay stitching), as the fabric is going to be a bit of a sod to sew.    I then did my gathering stitches, marvelling that  that bit of the process is almost becoming second nature to me now.   I sewed the sholders together,  and then I needed the sleevies.

I hadn't forgotten the sleeves. I just wanted to try something a bit more flouncy than previously.  This was going to require more pattern adaptations, and I needed a fresh head to do it well. 

And progress there too. Well, possibly.  I'm going to celebrate now, even though I haven't actually cut them out yet.   If it doesn't work, well,  I won't feel like celebrating later.  And if it does, I can celebrate again.

I thought about what I might need to do to achieve this, and traced off a copy of my standard sleeve.     The cap bit has to stay the same (to fit into the armhole of the top), it's the rest of the sleevie that needs flouncing.  I could see I needed to slash and spread the pattern.  I could even see how much.     In the end, I search the SFDLearningCenter to find what I needed, and the index told me which book and what page. 

I followed the instructions, even adapting them to get the size I wanted.  I ended up with a sleeve that looks like it might work.     I just need to get round to cutting out in fabric now.

 I'm going to wait for a bit though.  Just in case it's not right.  I'm going to enjoy the "I did it!" moment for just a little bit longer, first.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Goats Milk Kefir continues

This morning, once again,  I could not bring myself to drink the Kefir first thing.

I was getting a bit annoyed with myself.  It's not horrible, it just tastes like goats cheese.  I used to like goats cheese, so I should be able to get over this.

This morning I gave myself a choice. Either drink the Kefir first thing, or try goats milk in my morning latte.       I tried goats milk in my latte.    I made one for myself first, before making one for DH.  It was OK.  I don't think I would have guessed it was goats milk.     I made one for DH - he didn't notice.

Later, we were having a second coffee and he saw me filling up the milk thing with goats milk.
 "I don't want goats milk in my coffee"  
"Because I don't"
"You had goats milk earlier"
"Did I?"

So we had goats milk in the coffee.   That's one step forward.

It got to 4pm and I still hadn't had my Kefir.  At 4pm, I MADE myself pour a glass, and I tried to gul some of it down.  Same problem as before.    I mixed some vanilla extract in, and that didn't really help any more than the banana had done previously.

I'm hoping I can overcome this because, of course, it's only going to get stronger (="worse") as the days tick by.    

I know when I've tried to make myself get over distaste of foods before, it's sometimes taken 5 or 6 attempts to eat something before my tastebuds have acclimatised.     There have been foods (liver, roasted beetroot) where I've never got over my repulsion.

I hope this isn't one of those.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Goats Milk Kefir

The mere smell of goats cheese makes me retch.

A long time ago, I really liked the stuff.  Then I had a very severe case of food poisoning (several days in bed with joints so painful I thought I must surely be dying), and goats cheese was the culprit.  Since then.... well... I can't stand the stuff.

 I love milk.    Milk, however, doesn't always agree with me, and makes me bloated.   A2 milk works reasonably well, but I can only get that when I go to certain supermarkets, or when Ocado delivers.      Raw milk is also great,  but that involves a trip to far distant farmers markets (I tried having it delivered. It might be OK in the winter, but not in the spring/summer/autumn!).

I drink a lot of home fermented kefir, made using cows milk, and this also helps my bloating problem.   I don't like my Kefir fizzy, though, nor strong tasting, so I keep it in the fride to slow it down.    I also am a bit erratic in drinking it.

I have water kefir, which I quite like, but that hasn't really helped with the bloating problem.

I'd been looking at Chuckling Goat's creams. Not eating creams,  creams for the skin.   I bought some, and I've been using it on my face to see if it helps with my Rosacea. A bit.  But it hasn't cured it.    Extending my use of it, however,  did improve the skin on my legs,  and stopped a neck-rash outbreak in its tracks.  Because of that,  I looked more closely at their goats milk kefir, and the claims they made for it.

In the end, I took the plunge and ordered a 3 week course (I'll need 9 weeks to clear my rosacea).   In anticipation, I also bought some fresh goats milk from the supermarket.  It sat for 2 days in the fridge, before I could make myself open it and taste it.     I remembered trying goats milk when I was a kid (pun intended),  and it was vile.

Well, I opened it, and poured some in a glass.  It was very, very white.  Like emulsion paint.  It didn't smell, whch was a good thing.    It tasted...OK.     I think I could drink it.  I need to try it in our morning latte and see what happens.   The carton I bought will probably go off before I make myself do that.    I've seen that my milkman also delivers fresh goats milk, so I'm going to add that to my order.

The Kefir arrived.   It didn't stink as I expected (again remembering the goats milk as a child).    I pored some out.  170ml is quite a lot actually.    I started to drink it.  It reminded me of... of.... cheesey feet.   And then I realised what it really tasted like:  fizzy, runny, goats cheese.

I gagged.   I continued.  Everntually, it was all gone.  The book suggested blending with a banana (and adding stevia if needed).  I didn't reallhy want to do this, I wanted to see if I could acclimate myself.

Day 2,  it wasn't so bad to drink.  I downed half the glass in one go.  It wasn't great, but it was OK. 
During Day 2, it started to work.

Firstly, I had lots of digestive noises.  And then lots of wind.  And then, well, it was obviously clearing out my stomach contents.  In the evening, I felt a little nauseous.   I knew from the book that this was normal, it was just the kefir doing it's spring cleaning of my gut.

This morning, I just could not bring myself to drink it.  I think it as because I'd felt a little sick last night, that I was rassociating the taste of goats cheese with being so very ill.   It got to 2pm today, and I still hadn't drunk my dose.   

I gave in, and blended it with a banana.  As I was blending it, I realised that it probably wasn't a great idea (in my case) to do this. I had a strong suspicion that the drink was bow going to just taste like fizzy banana-ey goats cheese.    And it did.  It was also very very sweet.   Still, I managed to swallow it.

The book advises what foods should be avoided during the "detox" phase.   Hmm.   I think I'm probably going to ignore most of that.   (Avoid cow dairy products, bread, rice, pasta, sugar).  

I need to take some photos of my rosacea so I can check progress.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Out of control

I've been realy really good at not buying fabric for weeks now.   I don't have space to store any more,  and I decided I'd wait until I'd made a few more items and cleared some space before I indulged.

Each time I'm tempted,  I bookmark the piece, and then I just leave it alone.   I think about what I'd actually make with it.   I think about my "to make" list and see if the fabric that tempts me would help.

Yesterday, I cracked.

It started because a bag I made for horse-mad Small Person has, apparently, come apart.  She phoned me from a lake somewhere where she was fishing with her dad (my cousin) to let me know.  I don't have any more horsey fabric, so I was looking for something suitable.     I bought some.  And I bought a small piece of sheep fabric from the same seller.

It turned out to be a gateway purchase.

Around the same time, one of my favourite sellers of inexpensive fabric (Tilly Bee) posted some tee shirting fabric in a neutral colour at a bargain price. I bought 4 metres, thinking I could use it to make a top for me,  try a top for Small Person which I could embroider with a fab horse design,  and make a tee shirt for DH.  (I'm not planning on us all wearing the items at the same time).

I haven't bought fabric from Tilly Bee for a while, but I have been bookmarking quite a few.    I was already going to be paying for postage, so I thought I might as well get a (limited) amount of a few other ones I'd had my eye on.

In the scheme of things (the number of  fabrics I had bookmarked),  I didn't buy much.   But I did buy quite a bit.  I can see it's going to end up in yet another box in my "sewing room".

On the plus side, I managed to regain control of myself before I purchased from another seller.   They were selling some lovely lovely black and white cotton fabric that I would love to make into tops.    But I have a lot of cotton fabric that I wanted to make into tops, and I haven't.  Yet.

Perhaps this will spur me on?


Saturday, 10 June 2017

A blast from the past (April 2004 to be exact)

I do a major backup of my PC to an exernal hard drive every few of months, with a backup to a NAS drive more frequently. (NAS is our home network storage).      Every year or so, I have a mammoth clear out to remove redundant pictures, files, etc.

Today I was doing a bit of a clear out which strayed in to me having a quick peek at what was on the NAS drive.  I found some long-deleted web pages, where I'd been sharing some of the emails I'd sent.

This one was about our ancient cat, Maddie. Att eh time of wrtiting the original, Maddie was an only-cat.  She was old, a bit arthritic.  and thoroughly spoilt.  She would jump up on your lap before your bottom hit the seat.  She used to come away on holiday with us.

This particular letter was written to my husband, who was away on business,  and describes a very surreal night.

19th April 2004
Hi Geoff

I thought you might like to hear about some of the adventures your cat and I had last night.
She came up to bed with me, slept on your side.  In the middle of the night I woke up because she had moved and was standing ON MY HEAD.  Although I was groggy with sleep, I moved my head to push her off, and then she started kneading my hair. This was really painful, and a bit scary as I wondered where it was leading (did I feel like a litter tray?) , and I moved my head so she was only kneading the hair on the pillow. Finally she sat part on and part off my head, but I was too tired to care.
Sometime later...maybe minutes, maybe hours,  I woke up because she stood up and turned round, and then started again. Same rigamarole as before.
Later still, she jumped off the bed.
Even later, I heard her jump on to the windowsill. As I lay there, half asleep,  thinking "Maddie is on the windowsill", I suddenly realised "It's not Maddie!. She can't get up there!" .  I then remembered that I had locked the catflap so that  cats can get in but not out. I forced myself to wake up, turned on the light and stared at the black cat on the windowsill. It was a black cat - so it must be Maddie.
I started to doze again when I heard her jump down from the windowsill and,a few minutes, later jump up again. Then I heard her bell.  Then I realised that Maddie doesn't have a bell.  I turned on the light, looked at Maddie on the windowsill, saw that she had a belled collar, and leapt out of need to put on my dressing gown.  "Maddie" jumped off the windowsill and walked under the bed.
Then Maddie walked in the bedroom.  Hissed and spat at "Maddie" under the bed.  In a bit of a daze, I picked up the real Maddie and put her on the bed... I couldn't face a catfight.  Then I got down, pulled the boxes out from under the bed and got hold of the other "Maddie" by the collar and scruff, and dragged her out.   It was a young "Maddie". Black, same face, different body.  The collar told me that her name (his name?) was Salem, and lived at 20 Straight Road.  Holding Salem by the scruff I carried him/her downstairs.
I wasn't really sure what to do.  S/he looked very perturbed, and I couldn't face doing anything horrible.  So with Salem/"Maddie" in one hand I found the front door keys, unlocked and opened the door, and then chucked the cat out.  S/he just sat in the driveway looking sheepish. (If a cat can look sheepish)
As I shut the front door, I heard the catflap rattle.  I went into the kitchen, turned on the light, opened the door... nothing. Then I heard this terrible caterwauling in the utility room.  I walked in, and there, crouched on op of your jacket, was another black cat!  Maddie must have been having some sort of black cat convention or something!. 

 I grabbed this cat by the collar and scruff. No nametag, but a very soft purple collar.  It was very frightened,  and so I couldn't do anything apart from the same as before.  I marched to the front door, opened it, and ejected the cat.
I went back to bed, it was 5.11 am.  Maddie lay down beside me. Every few minutes we heard something and we both sat up.   In the end, I decided I didn't care right now if more cats were in, they could wait til morning.


My lovely step daughter graduated recentlyfrom the OU.

The weather was kind to us.  Ely Cahedral was a marvellous setting. 

So very proud of her.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Small person returns

Small Person had half term, and we volunteered to have her for 3 days.  We were delighted that she also wanted to stay over, so this included an overnight as well.

She rolled up her small sleeves, and jumped in to our day to day routine.  Cleaning out the chooks.   Egg collecting. Filling the feeders.  Filling the wild bird feeders.    Catching chooks for health checks.    Putting out higher fencing to try and prevent the Poppy and Fay getting out.     Returing Poppy and Fay each time they escaped.  Everything in her stride.

I've lost track of what else we did.  The weather was good, so the water pistols came out.    We also did a potters wheel taster session at the wonderful Hands On Art place.    Oh, and I made her a pair of leggings. They were made from unsuitable fabric, so they probably won't last more than a couple of washes - but it enabled me to create a pattern,  and I can make some more another time.

We found that one of the old bikes we keep was a good size for her,  so I took her for a bike ride: quiet roads only, and I made her ride on the pavement for part of it.   She doesn't yet have the road sense to be on the road all the time.

Oh, and I know we spent some time trying to work out (hypothetical) relationships with DH's children and grandchildren.   She was delighted to learn that she is "(step) second cousin" to my step daughter (DSD),   and even more delighted to learn that she was "(step) second cousin once removed" to my DSD's daughter.  They hardly ever see each other, but are firm friends when they do

It turned out that her school has a two week half term,  and we were asked if we could "do" Monday and Tuesday this week as well.     We jumped at the chance.   The weather was rubbish, but there was still lots to do.   She loved going to see the allotment chooks, despite the rain.    This time she helped us empty DH's shed, and I showed her how to use a labelling machine. Then I found lots of things for her to label.

She's always full of energy, enthusiasm and fun.  She isn't a fussy eater,  and she asks  questions ALL THE TIME.   She asks me questions about anything and everything, and it's an interesting window on what goes on inside her head.   

Second week also included homework,  so we made a string telephone.  This also required her not only to go to the shop (which she loves), but to go to a different shop and have to ask for something!  

I also took the opportunity to send her off with a shopping list when we were in another village,  and that was really good for her too.

She did manage to lock herself in the Girls' run,  which was quite funny. It was perhaps a little unfortunate that I only found out she was locked in the run because her Mum came to collect her,  and I had to go and look for her.  Oops!

Luckily for us, her mum has a sense of humour.   Unfortunately, she did it just before her mum turned up to collect her,  and I hadn't realised that she was stuck in there.

We've volunteered to look after her for some days in the summer hols.