Monday, 30 April 2018

Card work

May is a busy month for birthdays, and the first 4 all take place over 3 days in the middle of the month.

I had been trying to work up enthusiasm to do some embroidery, but...well... it just isn't happening.

 I bought some 3fold aperture cards to see how they would work with embroidery,  and it occurred to me I had the ideal fabric for two of the birthday people .  So,  here are those two cards.

It took longer than anticipated to get the fabric placement just right.   I then decided to work on something special for the insides.   I had to obtain a Batfont to do the text,  and it then find just the right Batman related images.   The wording worked just as I pictured it in my head, so I'm really happy with that.

I hadn't used this size card before so it took a while of faffing around trying to get the sizing of the paper  and then the relative positioning of the artwork just right....  I had a pile of rejects!

For the second one, I searched for a simple E-type jaguar outline,  then a font that suggested speed. I made the '65' in a circle, and voilĂ   Sorry it's upside down.

I'm really pleased with them.

I've still got two more cards to do for the middle of the month, and one at the end.    I've not had any bright ideas yet.  I'm hoping inspiration strikes soon.

Thursday, 26 April 2018


For our last-but-one birthday's,  DS/DDIL bought us a Couples Blacksmithing experience, some way away at a forge in Herefordshire.    We had planned to go late summer last year, but plans for this were stymied early in the summer by a complicated broken arm which was going to take many months to heal.  As soon as I knew we weren't going to be able to use the voucher  I contacted the company and asked if they could extend it.  I explained why, I was phoning  with still 4 months before the expiry date,  I offered to send proof of incapacity... and they agreed to a limited extension,  on a weekday only.   That suited me, I wouldn't have picked a weekend date anyway.

We have commitments at home which make overnighters (for both of us at the same time) difficult,  so we wanted to be there and back in a day.    Worst case, we'd leave at silly o'clock to arrive for a morning course, and then get back mid afternoon.   I was pleased to find that they did a session starting at lunchtime which meant this was doable without an early start .   We'd only miss one of our commitments, and that was manageable.

Yesterday was the day.

A good journey there.  Sparkling sunshine when we left home,  not so much when we reached Herefordshire.  The scenery was spectacular, and the sun did come out eventually.       Oldfield Forge was easy to find, the setting is magnificent,   and we were surprised and pleased to find it was just the two of us booked in.  

I picked the easiest thing to make,  a hook,   a DH picked a useful thing to make,  a poker.  

Of course this was all right up DH's street and he took to it like a duck to water.     It was more of a challenge for me, I've never done any sort of metal working or woodworking.  The process was actually being quite straightforward, it was just all new,  and I was pleased with the way my hook turned out.

The chap teaching us was lovely, very patient, and very encouraging.  Just what I needed.  

I decided to make a second hook, to consolidate my learning.    Poker finished, DH also decided to make a hook and of course his was not only complete before mine, it was perfect.   I don't mind.  Mine is fine; not perfect but perfectly useable. And MeMade.

We stopped at The Red Lion at Peterstow on the way home.  The food was excellent, much better than we were expecting.  I nervously had the pulled pork.  I've had pulled pork in pubs before and it's been really dry.  This was lovely,  it was shoulder of pork in Five Spice,  and I couldn't have made it better myself.   They served kimchi with the meal,  and it was lovely. Better than my own attempt at kimchi some years ago,  and I think I might have another try.   I'd definitely make a detour to visit there again.

Happy day.


Monday, 23 April 2018


The unexpectedly warm weather may bring red mite, so I decded to do a preventative clean at the Allotment.   I emptied and cleaned and poultry shielded the shed and two coops.  I also dod the nestboxes in the shed.      I scrubbed and Miltoned all the poo trays,  the three metal drinkers, and the watering can.  When I got to the end, the shed was dry enough to put stuff back in,  so I stalosaned and diatomed,  then put stuff back in, and put fresh Aubiose everywhere. Then the other two coops.

One of the Girls was desperate to lay part way through this,  and she seemed very upset. I made up a neat box for her in the shed, but she wouldn't use it,  she wanted to lay where she usually lays. So I made up a nest box in the appropriate coop and then worked round her.

I wished that Small Person was here to help,  it's much quicker and easier with 2.  It took me several hours, I'm cream crackered.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Bear necessities

The lady from Little Baby & Co liked my teddies.  She posted about them.

Kneed it

We went back to Pilates today, it's been four weeks since our last class. 

I've got problems wth my knee, so it was tough.

But good.

Thursday, 19 April 2018


Three of the Girls -  Poppy, Gloria and Fay - are cheeky enough to come in the house and to eat the cat food.  We chase them out, and they run,  but they aren't scared.  They just wait a few minutes and try again. Poppy is probably the cheekiest/worst offender.

Poppy came in this morning.  I chased her out.  Then I remembered that I had had an idea to try and resolve it,

I armed myself. With an umbrella.

The next time she came in, about half an hour later,  I went in to the kitchen umbrella first.  I was opening and closing the umbrella as fast as I could.  She shrieked, and ran out.

I'm pretty sure the call of the cat food will overcome her fear,  so I the umbrella is on the sofa, all ready to go.

We'll see.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018


We had Summer today.

Not Spring. Definitely Summer.

I did many loads of washing, and put them out on the washing line.  I love washing on a washing line.  I did 6 loads, including 2 loads of fabric.

I was going to do a bedding change for one of the chooks's coops.  I found a broken egg,  not the first, either Gloria or Poppy is laying very weak shelled eggs at the moment.  I decided a deep clean would be a good idea,  and I wondered about waiting to the weekend to see if Small Person might want to help.  

In the end, I decided I'd best just get on with it.  And then I decided as I had the pressure washer out that I might as well deep clen both coops.  And the nestboxes in the run.  And the patio.  And all the run covers.....

I also put up some green netting inside the run,  which helps keep the heat out.   I can't believe that 2 days ago it was really cold and wet,  and today it is so warm.

DH hacked back the Pampas,  digging up lots of bramble that was hiding inside.  The girls were delighted to investigate his handiwork.

I also cleared out a bit of Myshed, mainly because I was trying to find the pressure washer, and the Stalosan, and the Diatom. And clean covers.

I'm cream crackered now.  I've put my clothes, which are covered in moss and heaven knows what,  in the washing mashine.  I've had a shower, and I'm in jimjams.  It's only 5pm!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Fabric fail

I bought some inexpensive stretch fabric about 5 weeks ago.   The supplier was struggling with the hugh level of demand,  and the package eventually arrived a couple of days ago.   I told DH it was fabric,  and I left it, unopened, in the hallway.

Today I opened the parcel ao I could start washing the contents.   The first piece that came out was....well,  it was a (to me) bizarre shade of pink. It wasn't a colour I would knowingly have picked,  and it was also on its own - the rest of the fabric was in two other parcels inside the main parcel. I wondered if maybe they'd thrown in a freebie as an apoogy for the delay.

The other 4 pieces of fabric looked like stuff I'd order, and a couple of them I actually recognised as ordering.  It occurred to me that I should probably check the original order, so I did.

Turned out I'd ordered 6 pieces of fabric, not 5.

The original confirmation email had helpfully contained pictures of the fabrics.  Unfortunately, the images weren't actually sent in the email,  they were just links to an online repository.  Only 3 images still exist,  but luckily one of them was a pic of fabric I hadn't received.

How frustrating. Still, this sort of thing happens.

I've emailed the seller to ask them to send the missing fabric, or to credit my Paypal account. I've also queried the pink stuff.


I made a thank you card for my uncle.  He built me a beautiful castle.  I embroidered a castle for the thank you. Its quite large...both the castle made for me, and the embroidery.   This is my second version.  I managed to snip the border thread on my first  one.

DH is teaching himself how to cut glas and join the pieces using copper tape so it looks leaded.  He's planning to make me a terrarium big enough to cover the castle.

Spring is finally on its way. The Forsythia, which normally blooms in February, is finally in blossom.; the grass has been cut;  DH is cutting back the pampas grass (which will be a bit of a shock for the chooks); we've emptied the stored wood out of the greenhouse; and  I accidentally Spring cleaned a set of kitchen drawers.  I was looking for something, which caused me to empty it out, which resulted in me sorting it out as I put stuff back, which then impacted on the contents of two other drawers.

Not sure I can stand the excitement.


The inquest started yesterday, having been adjourned last time immediately after opening (and that one having been moved from an even earlier date). 

Just before it started we were informad that one of the key witnesses was ill and after a brief consultation it was decided to go ahead with Day 1, but to adjourn the second day.   

My cousin's children had travelled several hundred miles, again, to get there.  Others had booked holiday from work,  arranged childcare, done preparation, whatever.   Adjourning was the right thing to do.

It was an intense day, with a lot of written evidence and some live witnesses.   Going over it all yet again was hard on all the family. It was hard on the witnesses too.

Oh well.

The delay couldn't be helped.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Bearing up

My latest "make" is for a charity called "Little Baby & Co".  This charity provides special items for "Angel Babies",  babies which are miscarried before 18 weeks.

There was an appeal last year on one of the embroidery groups I belong to  to make angel wraps for them  The angel wrap is a cleverly designed piece of clothing which wraps round the miscarried tiny  baby, which would otherwise not be dressed at all (it's not possible to put even dolls clothes on them.  It's shaped a bit like angel wings.

Meryl from MerylMakes digitised the pattern so it would work on an embroidery machine, and she did two options.  It's a really small item of clothing.  I tried 3 times (using 2 different options), and I just couldn't make it work, my workmanship wasn't good enough.  I gave up in the end.

A few days ago, there was a request to see if anyone could make some tiny tiny bears, smaller than a 1p piece.    Meryl again stepped in and digitised a tiny bear,  and I had a go.   My first attempt was awful.   

I then decided to try and do a whole load in one go,   hooping the front of the bear and some wadding, and stitching the face and outline.  Then I put some felt underneath, and stitched the outline again.

I then spent a few hours cutting them out,  and  cutting & trimming them more carefully.   I wasn't able to trim them quite to the shape of a bear, but they looked as good as others had posted on the facebook page.    

There was a lot of trimming, which was frustrating.   I love the multi needle capability of my machine,  but I miss the cleverness of my top of the range, single needle, Janome.     I think that's why I haven't bonded so well with the multi needle.

I didn't think to take a pic of any of the cut bears before I packaged them up to send.
Add caption

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Finish line

I completed 3 UFOs (unfinished objects) today.

First was the top that I made to wear to the show at Birmingham,  but stopped working on because I stuffed up the shoulders.   I cut and attached a band for the neckline today, then overlocked (serged) it, and then folded it over and stitched in the ditch all the way around.  I had planned to coverstitch it instead of the overlocking/folding/topstitching, but my coverstitch machine was in a mess.  I don't quite know what happened to it.... I'm wondering if the small girls accidentally did something? 

I fixed the coverstitch,  rethreaded it, and did the waistband on the posh fabric leggings for DGD.  I also attempted to fix the ankle hems,  but that didn't go so well.  I was tempted to cut them off and redo them, but I suspect they may be too short then.   As the test pair had been left behind, I also did some finishing to the ankle hems of those  and I'm not sure I improved them.

I think they're all done now.  I just need to package them up and send them.  And think about what to say to DD about the less than great ankles.

I've got another top cut out waiting to be sewn  but I've had enough sewing for the mo.     I've got a couple of "really ought to do" embroidery projects, so I'm going to try and do those next.

Saturday, 7 April 2018


We've had some sunshine for the last couple of days, making the days (although not the evenings) warm and pleasant.

Yesterday DH cut the grass and gathered some bits of carp ready to go to the Tip.  My brother and I visited a nearby large town, in search of somewhere to have a proper up of tea.   Coffee shops just can't make decent tea,   there are several of us having business in this large town in a couple of weeks,  and we really wanted to find somewhere that we could get a proper one.

We planned to visit a few cafes and restaurants and try the teas.  They needed to be within a few minutes of the train station and the TownHall, so we had a defined area to look in.  We both like tea, but we knew it wou;d be difficult to sensibly sample more than, say, four cups, so I'd compiled a shortlist of likely venues. 

The main car park was closed to casual parking for the next two months.  That in itself was good to learn now rather than on the day.  Against my brother's better judgement, we parked in another central car park.   My brother said he'd parked here befoire, and it always stank.

He was right.  It was the most expensive car park in the town,  and the stairs reeked.  We'd had to park on the 11th floor.  We took the lift (which I never normally do) because I couldn't face that stench for the length of time it would take me to walk down the stairs.  The lifts smelt of  cleaning fluid, so were marginally better.     Another good learning.  Even though this would be the most convenient car park,  we couldn't suggest that anyone park here.

Out in the fresh air, we started on our shortlist.  One failed immediately because it turned out it doesn't open until 9.30,  and we need to meet at about 8.   We added the opening time to the criteria.

The second one,  which was an ex-Wimpy bar,  looked promising... the sort of place where you would expect a good honest cup of tea... but the tea arrived in a bag in a cup. It was definitely better than Cafe Nero,  but it was still not good.        We sipped our teas and discussed the demise of tea.

We realised that maybe we needed "tea in a pot",  and that might be a better way to approach the task. Doing this would mean that we didn't need to restrict our list. We could walk in to any venue and ask if they served tea in pots,   if they did we'd try it,  if they didn't, we'd leave.    

 If they didn't open before 9, we didn't bother to ask anything.  If they opened for breakfast, we went in, asked if they served tea in pots, and took it from there.

M&S used pots, and open at 8.  We didn't bother trying the tea,  we knew we at least had a fallback.    We then tried the  main streets, the connecting streets, the little alleys....  it was, from a teapot point of view,  disheartening. It took forever.

Some of the places were very interesting and looked like they'd be good to visit for a meal, but not suitable for our purpose.    After quite a long time, I peered down a dingy street whose name suggested it should have shops down it (but I couldn't see any). 

We decided to walk down it because the street sort of led to the stinking car park.  Half way down, we found a little tiny cafe.  We stood outside.  I didn't want to go in... if we chose this place,  those people driving would park in that god awful car park, and what on earth would they think?  They were coming from various parts of the country,   I didn't want their dimpression of this big town to be that it was a complete sh*thole.

My brother said "I think I can see teapots".  So we went in.

It was lovely.  The food looked fabulous,  the place was clean and welcoming, the service was great.  The tea was in pots (and not typical catering pots),  they open at 8.  It was one teapot per person, and each pot held 3 cups of tea.

We had our winner.

I hope all is OK when we need it in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Holiday over

Small Person was here on Tuesday Wednesday and Today.

She has been super excited for the last couple of weeks because we've arranged for my youngest DGD to come and stay, and they haven't seen each other for three years.   DD and I exchanged messages a few days ago, and DGD was in a similar state of excitement.

So, Tuesday,  Small Person was delivered to my door ny her Mum.  We jumped in my car and drove for 2 and a half hours to collect DGD.     They spent about 15 mins in DGD's bedroom, while I had a cup of tea and chatted to my DGSs.

.I've lost track of everything we did,  but I remember that making slime was part of it.   They went to the shop to get some of the ingredients,  and they went back to the shop later to get some more.  One of the shopkeepers phoned me to check it was OK to sell them a particular item (shaving foam) because he was a little suspicious about their motives for buying it.   In the hardware shop, the shopkeeper guessed that they were making slime when they asked him for Laundry Starch.  They went back later for yet more PVA, and he remembered them.

I also made leggings for DGD - a test pair, and then a pair in expensive fabric.  She was not particularly impressed, which was a bit of a disappointment. I'm pleased that I've done them, but Ill focus my making energy elsewhere next.

They played lots of games, went to the Park,  played with loom bands,  chatted.   It was mostly OK.  They are very different personalities, in almost every way you can think of.   It's an interesting dynamic,  challenging (draining)  at times.

We met up with DD at lunchtime to hand DGD back,  and it seems likely that Small Person will go to stay with them in the Summer Holidays if mutually convenient dates can be found.  They'll l

Small Person was tired and quiet on the way home.    We got home and had about half an hour before her mum came to take her riding.

And that's the end of the Easter Holidays.

It's all been a bit of an abrupt end,  and I'll miss her.  It's a long time to the next holidays. 

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Delia Chocolate Beer cake fail-ish

So I followed Delia's online recipe  for  Chocolate Beer Cake.  All went well, until I followed her instructions for the icing.

It said:To make the icing: melt the broken chocolate with the stout in a bowl set over a pan containing 5cm of barely simmering water, without the bowl touching the water. When it’s melted (5–10 minutes) take it off the heat. Beat in the butter and leave it to cool a little before beating in the icing sugar with an electric hand whisk.
I read it twice, because putting anything containing water in with chocolate is a bad idea. It causes seizing.   It was definitely correct though so I did it.

Beatng in the butter was OK.  As soon as I added the icing sugar,  it seized up into a horrible, grainy, mess.  I'd used spreadable butter (as stated in the ingredients list). Maybe that was the problem?

I tried again, with ordinary butter, which I'd let soften.  I waited longer before adding the icing sugar.  Same result.   I put it on Bernie the Bosch and beat the c*ap out of it to see if that helped.    It was smoother, but still seized up.  

I used some to sandwich the two halves of the cake together.  There was no way on earth this was going to work as an icing.  I looked at the picture of her glossy chocolate icing.  I looked at my... my...  attempt.

I googled delia chocolate beer cake icing and found someone else had had the same problem.

I felt better knowing I was not alone.

I had no more 70% chocolate in the house.   I did have some 51% cocoa nibs, maybe I could use those?

"Can't you use Nutella?"  DH asked.   We have a ginormous jar as it's a staple of Small Person's pancake breakfasts.   "tToo sweet!" I replied, shuddering.

And then I remembered.   Tucked at the back of the cupboard.....  a jar of posh dark chocolate hazelnut spread.  Not Nutella.

I've used that now.  I hope it saves the cake.


We don't 'do' Easter, it's usually just a normal Sunday.   We used to do something when the children were, well, children.

This year Small Person's mum and dad have asked us over for dinner.   I wasn't sure what to say.   It was very kind of them to ask,  and we like seeing them.... but...  well..  we don't do Easter,  we don't really want  to do Easter...  

DH and I chatted about it, and in the end we decided it would be much harder to try and explain things without it sounding like a weak excuse,  than it would be to accept the invitation.   It's also a very sad anniversary today and tomorrow,  and that is more important than the whole Easter business.  So, we're going.

Of course this raised the spectre of  the whole Easter Egg/Chocolate stuff. I'd already explained to SP (before we were invited for dinner) that we wouldn't be getting her anything, and I asked SP's Mum not to get us anything. She said it was too late.

I know I'm ungrateful,  but I don't want or need Easter pressies. I'd rather they spent the moneh on buying stuff for themselves, or for Small Person, or whatever.      I also don't want to get a present and have nothing to give in return.      I know one doesn't  'give to get',  but it's just so uncomfortable. I know Mrs SP means it all very kindly, and I don't want to hurt her feelings.  

I just prefer to do little things throughout the year when I think of them,  not on days that someone else has designated as needing to be marked.

Anyway. Earlier in the week I  went to the supermarket,  stood in front of the grotesque displays of Easter Eggs and chocolates,  and tried to decide what to do.  I couldn't bring myself to buy any.    It's all so overpriced and overhyped.  It has nothing to do with Jesus Christ's deatha and resurrection, it's all just marketing.

I thought about just buying a selection of sweets  but, for some bizarre reason,  that seemed worse than not buying anything at all - like it was an afterthought.  How ironic that something I've been fretting about for days should seem like an afterthought. 

I decided I'd make a chocolate cake instead.

I'm trying Delia's chocolate for Adults, which is made with Guinness.

The cakes are cooling, and I've still got to make the icing and ice them.    The kitchen looks like an explosion in a chocolate factory.  I've gone into another room to escape the mess and to pull myself together before I try and tackle it.

I hope this bloody cake tastes OK.