Saturday, 31 March 2018

Small Person at Easter

We were lucky to have Small Person for 3 days last week.  Her Mum messaged me today to say that SP had been very excited on the way home, telling her all the things she had done.

I hadn't thought we'd done much,  so I was scratching my head a bit to work out what had been so enjoyable (so that we could, perhaps, repeat it).  I asked DH  what his recollection was.

She'd been to the Allotment with DH, twice;  She helped DH with putting the base down on the new Garden Girls run;  we'd made cheese scones. There had been a lot of homework - maths puzzles,  comprehension,  reading,  and there had been  lots of teacher-mistakes in (I was seething!).  We'd watched some TV;  she came to Air Rifles with us; we played a couple of games of Hide and Seek.  She'd played on the xylophone I bought to put in the chicken run;  she'd tried to teach the chooks to eat seeds from the xylophone;  she'd tried to get the Girls to fly up on to her outstretched arm.  She'd read most of the first chapter of A Bear Called Paddington out loud, and I'd read th elast couple of pages to her.

We'd done some work on Space and she used my laptop to so her research She likes it because it has a touchscreen.     We tried to help her remember the planet names, as she was mispronouncing a couple: Plunto instead of Pluto,  Mercy instead of  Mercury  . To help her remember Pluto, I told her to think of Mickey Mouse's dog, and  said "Hey Pluto!" in a Mickey Mouse voice.      It sort of worked,  except everytime she said Pluto, she said it in the same voice as I had used.   She was very upset on Pluto's behalf to find that it wasn't classed as a proper planet any more.

I taught her (or attempted to teach her)  the mnemonic  My Very Excited Mother Just Served Us Noodles to help her remember the order of the planets.    To help I was trying to get her to picture her own Mum being excited andholding a big dish of noodles.  This is where it stopped working, because SP was adamant she didn't like noodles so her Mum wouldn't give her any,  and her Mum wouldn't be excited about serving noodles anyway.

She popped to the shop,  and she borrowed DH's old phone to use while hers was out of action. She was very excited that it had facial recognition (which didn't work when she tried it wearing a Minions hooded dressing gown).

She's most excited because our youngest DGD is coming next week for a couple of days.  They haven't seen each other for over 3 years.   I hope it all goes well.

Friday, 30 March 2018


The start of a difficult few days, today.

I decided distraction would be the way to go  so I started by decluttering my baking cupboard.   That may not sound like much of a challenge,  but it is - it's a floor to ceiling 500mm larder cupboard.     I've already decluttered (sold, selling, given away, charity shopped, binned) enough stuff to give me one free drawer.   The rest has been rearranged to reflect changed priorities, which mainly means most of my cake tins are now in a crate up out of the way,  the sugarcraft stuff has been thinned out and packed into one small drawer,  and I've been brutal in culling my cookie cutters.

A couple of other bits got sucked in to the decluttering process,  and a few more will undoubtably follow.

No creative work done.  I keep thinking I ought to do those two tops that are currently buried under the mountain of bakeware but I need to clear the clutter first. I know that's just an excuse.    And I keep thinking I ought to be making some bits on the embroidery machine.I was going to make a treat bag for Small Person for Easter.      I ought to try and make that bag thing I bought a sewing pattern for.

Ought, ought, ought.   We all know what that means.

It's wet and miserable here, which suits me.  I'm going to light a fire and then I'm going to crack open another cupboard.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Does this count?

Pilates yesterday was tough going.    It's our last class for 4 week. FOUR weeks!    That's not good.

I'm limping along on my creative challenge.    I managed to cut out the back and sleeves for a top (I cut the front out a week or so ago) while SMall Person and DH were at the Allotment;  I pinned the bust darts and shoulder datrts on said top as well.

We made cheats lemon curd in Thermy.   It's not as luscious as proper lemon curd... but it took 7 minutes in Thermy instead of 45 minutes of me stirring over the hob, and that was a trade off I was happy to make.  I'll definitely make it again and I'll probably double the recipe next time.     That counts towards my creative challenge, doesn't it?

 I was trying to teach Small Person how to use a potato peeler to get zest off a lemon.  She managed, but I couldn't quite teach her the knack.  I might get her to use a grater next time... but I'd really like her to learn to do it 'properly'.  I might have to buy a different sort of peeler for her to use.

Raymondo's new AeroVac bin arrived.  I fitted it and set him off to work straight away.  It's much quieter than the old bin.   It seems to work really well,  so that's good. And a relief.   After testing him, I installed a new side brush.  I can't remember when I last did that.

It's going to be a tough week this week and I'm not feeling very resiliant.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Raymondo's new lease of life

Ten years ago, give or take a couple of weeks,  we bought our first robot vacuum cleaner. He was the top spec Roomba when we bought him, and we spent ages watching him work (and trying to confuse him).    Once the novelty wore off, we set him up to go cleaning overnight, and we'd take things off the floor before we went to bed.

Raymondo has worked hard over the ten years.  He's very battle scarred, because he's taller than he realises.  Mostly, the two-tone "Uh-oh" means he's managed to get wedged under something.

He's had a couple of  (3 maybe?) new batteries in that time,  and when we bought the second replacemwent battery we bought some additional bits (newly designed brushes) which effectively upgraded him to  higher spec model.

I've also replaced the front wheel, because it got damaged with years of pulling it out of its socket with a skewer.

He isn't, and hasn't ever been,  our only vacuum cleaner. For the past few years we've kept him upstairs where he does an outstanding job of picking up all the cat hair. 

Recently, and quite suddenly,  his battery became useless.   I had always tried to make sure the battery discharged fully each time I put him to work, so the NiCad didn't "learn".  Bit I may  have messed up, or maybe it was just worn out.    We tried a few things to rejuvenate the battery, but no luck.

He's also lost a bit of his bin,  so I needed to replace part of that.    We discussed what to do.  DH suggested getting a newer model... I knew how much they cost and said I wasn't sure I wanted to spend that much.    DH didn't know the latest price,  looked online, and then agreed with me. 

We decided to buy Raymondo a Lithium battery.  It arrived a few days  ago and today I put him to work for the first time.    He did upstairs and downstairs, and still had a bit of puff left.  Now that I can see it was definitely a battery issue, I've ordered him a new, upgraded,  bin and spare filters.   An upgrade all over again.

He's not quite like Trigger's broom... but he's still mainly the original Raymondo. 

Monday, 19 March 2018

Head Butter

Small Person visited.  I picked her up from her Drama class on Saturday afternoon, and she stayed until lunchtime on Sunday.  A rare treat as she's usually picked up at 9am to go riding.

This Saturday I needed to make butter, so she helped.  I explained the butter making process and it all went swimmingly.  I showed her how to pot up the salted butter,  and she did that while I got on with the rest of the process.  I now have two bowls for Bernie (the Bosch Mixer),  and so the process was remarkably smooth.

I churned 4 litres of cream, then washed the butter in the churn.  I divided the butter into two, one in each of Bernie's bowls.  First bowl was salted and put on to mix.   When it was mixed,  Small Person started potting, and I put the second salted bowl on to mix.   Meanwhile, I got on and churned the second lot of 4 litres.  

We watched Paddington 2 in the evening, and all went to bed at about 10pm.

Small Person was very tired, she slept until about 9.30 Sunday morning.    After she's made pancakes (using buttermilk), she got dressed and helped me put some covers on the sides of the Cubes to try and protect the chooks from the vicious wind.   She also made snow angels, so she got soaked and had to get changed before going out again.

I'm looking forward to the Easter holidays

Saturday, 17 March 2018

So close

I made a top!

I haven't made one for ages - my time has been spent on leggings for Small Person and then leggings for me - and I was struggling to remember the construction steps.     It came together very quickly though, and I even managed to hem it.

A minor disaster struck when I was putting the sleeves in.  I managed to have an overlocker steering malfunction.   I cursed a bit.      The top is still sort of wearable, but it wasn't suitable for it's intended purpose.  It's still sitting on the kitchen table waiting for me to cut out and apply the neck binding, and I really ought to do it otherwise it'll just become another UFO (unfinished object). 

So what was the intended purpose? I was making it to wear to the Sewing show at the NEC.   I

I wasn't going as a visitor, I was going to be helping out on one of the stands!    I decided I couldn't risk wearing it because I was afraid people would look at my top, and judge the product I was representing by my shoddy workmanship. So I wore shop bought clothes.

I had a really enjoyable day.      I found it tough at first, because I don't like encouraging people to spend their money (even though I thoroughly endorse the product I was representing).  Luckily the lady I was representing was not interested in making people buy her product at the show,  she was happy for them to find out about it and go away and maybe buy it later.    

I settled into it when I talked with people about what the system was and why it might help them.  I usually started the same way Do you make your own clothes?  Do you use a commercial pattern?  How did you find the fit?  And then we could talk about the system and whether it might help them.  There were some people where the system wouldn't help them and I was honest with them about that.
I guess it helped that I am a customer of the system, not an employee.

If I hadn't already had other commitments, I would have gone back to do a second day.

I'm looking forward to finding out how the remaining 3 days went

Sunday, 11 March 2018


When I bought my latest lovely sewing machine,  I sold my previous one along with the myriad of feet I had accumulated.  I was sorry to see them go, most of them were unused, just waiting for me to find a project to use them.

I resolved that I would not buy lots of additional feet for my new machine.  I would only buy feet that I was (reasonably) sure I would use.  (Unless I saw one at a bargain price, of course) .

I kept to that.  I did buy some additional feet, but the feet I bought have been in frequent use. Mostly.

When making my duvet cover recently,  I needed a "stitch in the ditch" foot.  I could swear I had one.  I looked through the myriad of feet that came with the machine,  and the feet I had bought. Couldn't find it.  Then I loaded my spreadsheet and realised that I'd had such a foot with a previous machine,  I hadn't bought one for this machine.

I did a quick search and saw one on Ebay at a really good price.  It was too late for my duvet cover, but it would be rude not to buy it.    I bid and, as usual, I had a look at the sellers other items, just in case.  She was selling quite a few feet and other sewing bits.   I decided to break my rule and bid on several of the feet which I didn't have.  I resisted bidding on some of her other items,  and I didn't bid on all the feet. 

I won some, and I didn't win others.    I messaged her to ask about combined postage,  and found that she was a really lovely older lady.     I realised from her messages that she was me in the future.  Lots of feet, unused and still in their packaging.  She was obviously downsizing  and getting rid of the paraphernalia from a once loved hobby.

It choked me up a bit.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Ta Daaa!

Finished, at last!

I wish I'd thought to take a picture when it was pristine: newly finished, newly ironed, and newly on the bed. 

I've ended up with puckering and not straight stitching, but I'm not too bothered.  I spent so long measuring, marking, sewing in lines before I started cutting; I finished my raw edges before I started working,   I measured and basted everything before sewing,  then I sewed.  I've sewn hidden seams, folded hems, I've done all sorts.  At some point I stopped taking out the basting stitches, partly because I'd reached the "I don't really care anymore" stage,  and once because I realised I hadn't done a proper stitch afterwards. Oops.

To make sure that it all stays in place, I was going to coverstitch it.  This worked really well for one of the four sides.  Then it just wasn't working.  My little Bernina Coverstitch machine has a tiny space to the right of the needles,  and I was trying to feed a superking sized duvet cover through that space.  It just wasn't working. 

So,  I decided to top stitch all the way round using a decorative stitch.  My thinking was that my decorative stitch would also stitch down the folded seam underneath,  if I did it a particular way I'd also topstitch the very edge of the panel down,  and a decorative stitch  would cover my decidedly wonky seam (and basting) stitching.  I chose to do it in a colour which wouldn't show up too much.  
I chose a cat shaped stitch.

I then spent forever holding a superking quilt over my shoulder and across my arm while trying to keep the seam straight.  It takes a surprisingly long time for the machine to sew a cat shape (complete with whiskers).  I thought it was never going to end.    When my arm and leg started to ache, I tried disassociating myself from the task.  That was OK, but did cause a wonky stitch line.

When it was all done,  I whipped up a couple of extra large pillow cases.  We have lovely wool pillows, but they are a bit too big to fit comfortably inside normal sized cases.  I'm really pleased with them.  I was cream crackered when I started them,  but I really wanted to get the bed made.  The picture doesn't so them justice.

I know that not doing this project  (and knowing I should  do it) has been a contributory factor to the loss of my Sewjo.  I'm hoping that having completed it, it may come back.

We'll see.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Working on it.

I was going to send my mum some flowers for Mothers Day,  I just had no enthusiasm for embroidery. Then I saw a really simple design on   Meryl is a friend of mine in real life,  I love her embroidery designs.     I decided to do itSo, I did.

I still had the clamp frame attached to Bertha.  I faffed about choosing colours,  rethreading the machine,  changing the colour selections, blah blah blah and cutting the upholstery fabric I was going to stitch on.      I centred the design, did several tracings  (getting the machine to pretend to stitch the design so I can check it isn't going to hit the frame),  and then I decided to add a border.   I faffed around doing that, and then I was ready.

I decided to get the border stitched first, as this would help keep. the fabric and stabiliser taut.  It's lucky I did.  It's also lucky I didn't walk away  There was an almighty crunch, as the needle hit the frame.  When I added the border, I hadn't repositioned the design.   The frame was scratched, the needle snapped,  the fabric chewed... but all survived.

New needle.  Rethread.  Recut fabric.  Try again. 

The fabric was fraying like mad, so I ended up using the sewing machine to stitch an additional hidden border.   I just did a straigh stitch, which wasn't enough - that will only stop the fraying once the ffraying has reached the stitch.  next time I'll probably do an overedge stitch.

 I hope Mum likes it as much as I do.

I've also been making progress on my duvet cover. More about that another time.  Maybe.

Oh, and I handmade enriched bread for hot dog rolls lasrt night.   They were good, but no better than breadmaker made. 

Thursday, 1 March 2018


Lamb butchery at Shirley's on Monday.

She's right, it's very very different to pig butchery.     With a pigm, the carcass is halved and you work on a half carcass.    WIth a lamb, the carcass isn't halved,  and you don't halve it to butcher it.   That means you butcher the whole carcass as you go.

Our lamby requiremens are quite simple, so I don't know how much butchery there will be for us to do next time.  From Shirley's point of view, it's actually easier for her to cut it for us than it is for her to cut it into pieces for us to butcher further.  Unless we wanted a rack of lamb -  which we don't. 

Made some amazing-smelling lamb stock from the bones yesterday.  We've got lamb chops today,  and Im making with boulangere potatoes.  It was going to be dauphinoise,  but we don't have any cream.


My fab new slippers arrived in the post today.

I was hesitant about buying them because often these sort of slippers are too tight for my poor feet.

They seem OK.    They are so lovely that I'd probably wear them regardless.