Friday 29 January 2016


Wash is in for his Op today, having the pins (and the apparatus supporting them) removed.    He had his last meal at 9.30 last night, and this morning he just couldn't understand why we were ignoring his pleas for breakfast.

The morning seemed to drag as we waited until 2pm, the time we were told to phone.   Lots of busywork.  I decided to wrap my mother's birthday present. The box is quite large, so I decided to use florists ribbon instead of organza.   The bow looked lame, which surprised me as my bows normally look quite professional.

Youtube to the rescue.  I learned how to make pompom type bows with polyester ribbon.  I probably should have split the ribbon in half lengthwise, as the ribbon I have is much much wider than anyone on Youtube was using.  My attempt compared to the video I was following, is rubbish.  However, as polyester ribbon bows go, it's fine.

It's not really fine enough to share though,

Instead, here's a pic of the card I made for my mother.  It's a Lady's Slipper Orchid.

Monday 25 January 2016

Mild weather

We had a hedgehog in the garden this morning,  the smallest of our 3 regular vistors.    I guess the mild weather has made him/her wake up from hibernation.

I threw out a handful of sunflower hearts, which was all I had to hand. While he munched his way through those,  I managed to find the packs of hedgehog food I'd vacuum sealed for winter.  I opened one, it wasn'tquite as pleasant to touch as it had been before vacuuming.  I threw a handful of that out for Hedgy as well, and I was pleased to see him chomp his way through everything.  

I didn't have anything else more suitable to offer. Our catfood is fish, and that's a no no.  We have started one of the cats on a raw food diet,  which would probably have been perfect for Hedgy - but I've only got just enough left to last me until our next lot arrives.

He snuffled off soon after.  I've left the food by the door so we can feed him tomorrow if he comes again - although the forecast is for heavy rain so that doesn't seem very likely.

In other news, musical coops continues.  I always feel sorry for whoever is on their own.  On the plus side, it chance to have a brief cuddle with the lone hen.  I miss hen cuddles, and I hope that as the weather improves and the youngsters come into lay, they'll be a bit more willing to be tamed.

Friday 22 January 2016

Musical Coops

Yesterday, Sasha (the young and flighty Appenzeller) was on her own in the orange cube.  It was very cold so under the cover of darkness, I popped her into the purple cube with everyone else.

Tonight, Poppy (fox attack survivor, number 2 in the pecking order and desperately not wanting to go any lower) was on her own in the orange cube.  She probably would have been OK on her own, but it seemed a bit mean to leave her.  I popped her in the nestbox of the other cube.

Wonder what tomorrow's arrangement will be?

Thursday 21 January 2016

Candling success


A few years ago we started to put 8 hour tealights (available from catering wholesalers) under the metal drinkers at the allotment, to stop the water freezing overnight.  When it was freezing and snowy during the day, we'd put another candle under the drinker during the day, to prevent the water freezing.  (It had to be very cold for us to do this, as we didn't want to end up with hot water!),

It took a but of trial and error to get the set up right; sooting of candles, condensation, draughts, all had their impact on the system.  Eventually we had the drinkers raised on bricks, with bricks all round to keep out the draughts (and the hens). The tealights were put in ramekins, and the ramekin were put inside cut-down Illy coffee tins.  The coffee tins had drainage holes in the bottom, so the condensation would drain off (rather than rising and swallowing the candle),  and ventilation at the top for good air flow.

Of course 8 hours isn't really long enough in this weather, but it still helps.  Even if the water started to freeze, it was at least possible to either melt it on the camping stove, or to empty it out and refill.  Unprotected water freezes into a solid block, and the lip round the Eltex drinker makes it impossible to remove.

We've recently had the first bit of weather cold enough to necessitate candling.   DH bought some of the tealights back with the idea of melting them and making bigger - longer lasting - candles.  We didn't know what the criteria was for getting a candle to burn longer (more wax? taller? wider? different wax?  wick? )  so DH just had a go with what we had.

While he busied himself melting wax in the old asparagus steamer (which was actually on its way to the tip, so another recycling result there) , I looked on line at wicks, as I guessed we would need some.  Then I saw a bulk pack of wax and that made me think that, of course, we should buy wax to melt. 

A bit of googling, seeing posts about making emergency 50 hour candles using Kilner Jars, and I realised that we have a cupboard full of jam jars that we could use! 

A bit more googling and I ended up at Randall's Candles.  I looked at the waxes, saw that soya wax was longer lasting, and put the best wax in my basket. I found the wicks, I saw about the diameters, I put a selection in my basket.  I saw something called wax improver, that went in as well.   At checkout,   I needed urgent delivery. This sas available but needed to be phoned for.

So I phoned up and spoke to the most helpful chap imaginable.  I explained that I needed a rush order, and I shared that I was making candles for the first time, and what the purpose was.   The amount of help I got in that conversation was incredible.  I had been correct in opting for soya wax (longer burning) but  I didn't need the superior wax I'd put in my basket, as that was really aimed at improving the look of the candles.    He explained about wicks, and the impact of too thin or too thick a wick.  I measured the jars I'd been thinking of using, and he sorted out the right wick sizes for me.  I asked if he would write on the receipt which set of wick was for which sized jar. 

I didn't need the wax improver - that would make the wax burn faster, and was really used to improve the burn when colours and scents had been added. He also explained how long to test the candles for.

I ended up spending less than I had originally thought, and got a bit more stuff.  

It arrived the following morning,  and DH set about making a candle straightaway.  We used one of the M&S olive jars, these were not too tall and had a wide mouth.   He took it to the allotment at 4pm, and came back to report that the previous attempt (made out of the tealights) had lasted for over 12 hours.  That was pretty amazing, and we were really keen to find out how a proper version would perform.

We've just had a call from the Other Chap who reported that proper candle, made with soya wax and a proper wick,  was still burning - and it was only about 2/3rds gone.  It had been going for nearly 20 hours!

What a result!! 

There's no need for candles today,  but DH is going to make a few so we have them to hand.   He's also going to make some "emergency use" candles, candles in jars will be safer to use than tealights.

I stopped eating M&S olives some time ago, started eating Waitrose ones.   I'll have to go back to M&S ones (assuming they are still in the same jars) for a while. It's going to be tough, but a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do.

And I would definitely recommend Randall's Candles for such FAB service.

Wednesday 20 January 2016


It's bitter outside.  I've been to see if the Girls need re-arranging.

Poppy is still henpecking the Littlees.  The two tiny girls run away in panic but Fleur, the not-so-little Marans, just ducks, takes her peck, and carries on.   I think that Fleur may usurp Poppy and become number 2.

The sleeping arrangements continue to bewilder.  Rarely do we have all girls in one cube, and the nightly allocation covers every permutation possible.   Last week we had one girl on her own in one of the Cubes most nights, sometimes it was Sasha, sometimes Poppy, once it was Gloria;  which Cube the loner ended up in also changed. 

I had decided to leave well alone, assuming that it would all resolve itself in the end.    My resolution went out of the window a few nights ago, as I was concerned about any of them being in a coop alone when the weather was quite as cold as it was.

The first time, Sasha was on her own.  She's a tiny hen, and not exactly fluffy.   In the other Cube, Poppy was in the nestbox, and the rest were on the roosting bars. Under cover of darkness I picked up Sasha and deposited her in the Cube with the others.  I put her to the far right, so she was as far away as possible from Poppy and Gloria.   I then switched off my torch and stood in silence and motionless, to see what happened.   There was silence.  Then there was trilling,  Then there was much moving about.   I opened the egg port and shone the torch in to see what was going on.  All looked OK, so I went back indoors.

Yesterday, Poppy was in one of the Cubes on her own.  She's a much bigger, fluffier, hen. However, the predicted low temperature was somewhat extreme, so I transferred her to the nestbox of the other cube.  All seemed OK.

Tonight, Sasha was in one Cube, with Fay in the same Cube in the nestbox.  Fleur was in with the big girls.  I hesitated.  I decided to leave them as they were.

I know they are only chickens.  I can't help it.

I've been giving them pellet porridge in the afternoons.  This is just ordinary pellets with boiling water to make a mash. Some mixed corn is stirred in,  then it's served on dishes on the floor, sprinkled with some sunflower hearts.     DH had been beer making yesterday so we have a big bowl of  mashed barley,  and I stirred some of that in to the mix as well

I have to put out 4 well spaced bowls, because the Girls all suffer from GreenerGrass Syndrome.  If there were only 2 bowls, only the two Oldies would eat.  If there were only 3, still only the 2 oldees would eat - they would take it in turns to move the LIttlees off the 3rd bowl.  With 4 bowls, it's too many for them to control at once.

Friday 15 January 2016

Another card

Birthday card for DGD. I discovered that I could buy a pinking blade for my rotary cutter. Why have I been wasting my time with pinking shears all this time?!

Of course it's now a nuisance to have to keep switching blades on the rotary cutter, so I've ended up buying another one of those too.

Just two more January cards to go.

4 weeks

It's been 4 weeks since Wash had his Op, 5 weeks since he was run over.

He's recovering really well.  Each time he has his dressing changed, his foot looks good (as good as a shaved leg and foot can look).   He's bright, purry, eating well.  He's put on lots of weight. 

He's good at taking his tablets, and he doesn't complain about the twice daily insulin injections.

He's still on cage-rest. We let him  spend most of his time outside the cage - he sleeps on the rug, or in a bed under one of the chairs.  
He is obviously feeling better as he's started trying to get on the sofa or on the cat tree.He's also very velvet pawed.  He can tiptoe past me and I don't even realise he's done it.

This is of course completely unacceptable,  and the irony is that he's having to be confined to his cage more now than he was when he first came home from the vet.

We're starting to try him on a specialised cat raw food diet now.  Today was the frist time, and I introduced a tiny amount of raw beef to his cooked chicken.  He wolfed it all down. (Can cats wolf?  Shouldn't they tiger  down, or panther down, or something?).   He wolfed down seconds.  Later, he wolfed down thirds. 

Despite the success, I'll continue with only a small proportion of raw for a day or two, and then increase it. 

Izzy is also meant to be starting on raw today.  She's refused to eat anything so far... but she also refused to eat anything without the raw food mixed in, too.

Another victory

I've completely finished the landing. I will get the house back under control.

I can imagine that you're wondering how on earth it can be an achievement to tidy a landing.  How hard can it be?

Our actual landing is a typical small area at the top of the stair, but I also have a small "lobby" (which used to be the tiny bathroom and toilet) which now leads to our bedroom.  When I talk about the "landing" I include this, as it's all the same floor area.

I'd had a growing pile of unsorted stuff sitting on the landing for...months.  It was partly obscured by a bigger pile of stuff waiting to go into the loft.  Even when the sstuff finally went up into the loft last week, the remaining pile wasn't really too noticeable as (a) it had been there so long, it was like part of the furniture and (b) there was also huge piles of sewing related stuff on top of the cabinets that I used to store my fabric.

There wasn't any room in the cabinets.  They are lovely - oak, tambour fronted, office filing cabinets. I didn't really want to spend money on another cabinet, as I wasn't sure that would give me enough storage anyway.  In the end, I had decided I would replace them with cheaper, more versatile, Ikea storage.   I was procrastinating because the cabinets weren't cheap, we had very little proper furniture left and it seemed a shame to get rid of those to replace them with something purely functional.  Besides, I'd need to sell them, and I had to work up the energy to think about putting them on Ebay.

In our recent Ikea trip I had bought the cabinets to replace them, and all the storage stuff to go in them.  These were stored, flat packed, under our bed (in the space I made by doing my mega clearouts in the last couple of weeks).

DH kept on aout putting these new units up, and I kept resisting.  It would mean moving the old cabinets and dumping them in the guest bedroom, which of course I had only just got sorted out and couldn't face messing up again (I know, how lucky am I to have this sort of problem)..

In the end I decided I'd bite the bullet and the get whole area done.

We did it over the last couple of days.

The landing is completely clear,  the lobby looks lovely, perfect for purpose.  The lighness of the units reflects the light, whereas the old oak cabinets used to absorb it.

Thank goodness for Ikea.

The fabric area

Saturday 9 January 2016

Bigger victories

It must be the time of year.   Two of my online friends (well, ladies whose blogs I follow and occasionally comment on) also seem to be struggling.  They have more tangible worries than I do, so today I made an extra effort to pull myself out of this funk.

I spent some time cuddling my chooks.   OK. I spent some time stroking the one chook who is currently accepting cuddles, and chatting to the other 4 who aren't.    It was wet and cold outside, so good for clearing my head a bit.   I then dosed myself up and went upstairs to tackle the box room, which is currently living up (down) to its name. 

It didn't used to be quite so bad.   Then all the Christmas decoration boxes went in there,  then the stuff from the guest bedroom.... then there was all the stuff to go to the animal rescue jumble sale... and then there was no room to get in to get to anything.  

I have a confession. 

At one point I remember standing in the doorway and, in desperation,  lobbing stuff in.  There wasn't anyway to get in and place the stuff. I had neither the time nor the inclination to sort the room out, and I needed to put the stuff somewhere.

I kept the door open so I could see the shameful mess every time I went upstairs.

This morning I decided to have round one of clearing it out.   Baby steps.  No point in having a goal of "empty box room".     I wasn't sure how far I would get before my energy level was too depleted.  My goal was to clear the space around Orla so I could play her,  and my rules were that everything I picked up had to be  put into its proper home,  or else allocated to a pile.  Pile A, on the landing, was for stuff for the jumble sale;  Pile B, also on the landing,  was paper and card for recycling box;  Pile C, also on the landing, was rubbish (and initially had a rubbish bin);  Pile D, was an area in the room for some boxes for stuff which I couldn't deal with at the moment.    Pile D was a cop-out really, but it enabled me to manage my energy levels,  and I achieved much more than I expected. 

It still looks like a box room, but it is tidy. er.  

Friday 8 January 2016

Small victories

Two more birthday cards done.

Living room now clear of carp. Most of it dealt withm but one - small - box was dumped upstairs to be sorted 'later'.

Managing patheticness

What is the noun for pathetic?   I suppose technically it's "pathos", but that isn't the type of pathetic I mean. I'm talking about being pathetic. Anyway,  I'm digressing again.

I'm invoking emergency measures to manage my patheticness.

I've forced myself to do a couple of items off my to do list, items which deep down I didn't really want to do and which I was avoiding and prevaricating about.     I am usually the Queen of getting on with the things that I don't wish to do;  my belief, that it's better to have a few minutes of pain/discomfort/whatever doing a horrible job immediately than having the thought of the horrible job hanging over you, is very strong (despite what impression I may have given on my blog).    It's a symptom of my patheticness that I just haven't been able to make myself do them.

And they were only unavoidable phonecalls.  Actually, I made one phone call and sent a text for the other one, which hasn't saved me any time or grief as I now have to wait for an answer and I'll probably have to phone in the end anyway. And I can't phone now because I've texted and it will be rude to phone.  See the tangled mess I've made, for no good reason?

The "emergency measures" involve breaking some of the (not actually very big) goals into baby steps, and then ticking off the baby steps as I do them.     Doing this I've managed to clear the last of the debris from our bedroom, without just dumping it somewhere else.      The baby steps were really tiny.  "Empty the small brown box onto the bed deal with the contents";  "Take the box of games and put it under the bed in the guest room"; "Empty rubbish bin";  that type of thing.   

I'm hoping the decluttering of a couple of rooms will help release my my mind a bit. 

I'm not sure I believe in feng shui but... well...  for the last week or so we've had to shut the hall door to make sure that Wash doesn't try and get upstairs (he's not allowed to climb or jump up or jump down off anything).    It's really having an effect on the feel of the house. The airflow isn't right.   Maybe there is something about energy being trapped/blocked?  

Or maybe I'm just full of cold, and tired, and in need of a nap or two.

Thursday 7 January 2016

Being a bit pathetic

The repair man came today to fill and fix DH's car. Did I mention that I managed to scrape the door and the rear panel on the driveway gate posts the other day?  

The rest of today was a bit of a struggle, for no reason other than I am being a bit pathetic.  This cold has washed me out, and I'm struggling to get up enthusiasm for anything much.

Eventually I managed to sort out the new living room storage unit, which involved rationalising and organising a whole load of stuff.  Did I mention we went to Ikea yesterday?  Both of us. Together! And we didn't row!!  Mind you, we didn't go round the store, we went straight to the warehouse bit.   We now have various storage units and  bits for various rooms, and that's what we've been mostly sorting out today.

I also spent quite some time at the Vet, with Wash.  His foot is looking quite healthy underneath the bandages, and I managed to get a quick photo of his unbandaged wolverine structure.

Washy was having his stitches out, which was mostly OK but a bit tricky in places.    I think it took a bit out of him as he's spent the whole day sleeping on the rug.

I did manage to use my embroidery machine, stitching out a rather tricky card for my uncle's birthday. It needs to be posted tomorrow, and I wasn't sure I'd get it done.  It was something like 26000 stitches, 24 colour changes and 20 different colours (it took me at least half an hour just to identify the threads), so it was a bit of a challenge.  
It took the entire day to complete, mainly because I was busy doing  101 other things at the same time.

I also managed to sell the old cabinet, so that's something else out of the way.

January is a busy month for birthdays, I've got another 3 cards to make in the next 10 days. I'd like to try and get them done by Sunday, then I might stop feeling like I'm running to catch up.

Tuesday 5 January 2016


All good intentions for today. I was going to clear the kitchen surface and get my machine set up again.  It started well enough, and then I derailed myself.

I got as far as putting on the vinyl table covering, bringing down the machine stand, the machine, the embroidery arm, and the cutting mats.  I farted around getting the positioning right.  I then decided to see if I'd had a response from Janome UK about a software problem I'd been having.  No response, so I emailed them again. 

While sitting at the 'puter, I wondered what a particular Ikea unit might look in place of my printer cupboard.  DH had used a couple of units in his study, and it had been quite effective. We had such a unit upstairs, in the guest bedroom, and I decided it would be a good idea to bring it downstairs, and see how it looked. If I don't like it, it could go back upstairs;  if I did like it, I could add getting a replacement unit to my "Next Ikea Trip" list.

Moving the existing cabinet was easy. Moving the cabling required a fair bt of time and a lot of patience.   Dust bunnies abounded, and I had to do quite a cleaning job (serves me right for being so lax normally).   Eventually, everything was unplugged, detangled, and separated.   DH and I carried the unit downstairs and put it in to position.

It looked good, better than I expected.   So, next I had to empty the old unit of the myriad of specialist printing stuff.   I don't have the right sort of storage for the new unit, so I added to the shopping list.  DH and I discussed how to handle extension leads, power supplies, etc.  I idled away some time looking at the Ikea catalogue, adding to my list.

In between times, I had correspondence with Janome, and tried various updates.  It wasn't looking good, and I could feel my enthusiasm for making anything waning. In preparation for this being really serious, I had to try and find where I might have stored the redundant old dongle.  It wasn't where it should have been. It wasn't where it might have been. It wasn't even where it shouldn't have been.   I found it in the end. In the box with the new software. Not a stupid place, exactly, but definitely one of those 'last places' I'd look. (What a stupid expression. Everything is always in the last place you look, even if it's the first place too!)

Eventually the TARDIS of a cabinet was empty, and I had piles of stuff everywhere.   I took a deep breath, and shoved it all in the new cabinet, to be sorted later.  I will review stuff and rationalise before final storage, especially as I've already got a charity shop run planned.

The floor was a mess, so I washed that.  

And I spent some time cuddling Wash, who has perked up significantly since he moved on to two doses of insulin a day and rather enjoyed inspecting everything.

At the eleventh hour, the lovely chap at Janome had a breakthrough and we got my software working again. I'm so relieved, not just because of the lack of hassle, but I could feel me getting less and less enthusiastic about the whole embroidery thing, and I was in the 'shutter' zone where I could see me taking everything back upstairs and leaving it there...and that would have been a shame as I've got quite a few birthdays in January that I had planned to embroider for.

I don't think I'll get any embroidery done tomorrow,  it's going to be quite a busy day anyway.

Monday 4 January 2016

Still going

Another day, another dressing change for Wash.  The Vet was very busy, so the Nurse had to use a small side room to do the change, and we stayed.   I was interested - and a bit queasy at the same time - to see Wash's unbandaged leg.

The Vet popped in to take a look, and seemed pleased at the progress. 

The urine sample still showed glucose, so we now need to move to twice daily injections.   Of course the timing can't line up with Izzy's 3-times-a-day phenobarbitone tablets, so it's a bit limiting. Still, we'd rather have the cats than the freedom.

The last of the Christmas stuff came down today. I dismantled the wreath, and took down the ribbons that held the cards.  All the boxes are now in the loft,  only 50 weeks til they come down again.

Another mini round of decluttering, as I'm sorting through the stuff that came out of the guest bedroom so my DB could sleep in there. 

Friday 1 January 2016

Curates Egg

We were relieved to find, at our subsequent appointment,that Wash hadn't damaged his leg when he did a runner the other day.  The leg/foot is healing well.

The not so great news was that he *still* has glucose in his urine. The two Vets each proposed a slightly different approach regarding whether to start with insulin, and both rationales were sound. In the end, we looked the potential consequences of making the "wrong" decision, and we started with the insulin injections.  The Vet told us what he would normally prescribe, and that we were giving about a quarter of that a day, so there shouldn't be any problems.  The next dressing change and test was 2 days later, and we checked we understood what adverse reaction looked like, and what action to take if this happened.

The first day was awful.  Wash was very lethargic, and even more sleepy than usual. His sleep was very deep, to the point where I was standing over him, I moved down until I was about to touch him, and he didn't stir at all.  We were ready to get another urine sample and get it tested the next morning,  we were sure his glucose levels must have gone too far the wrong way.    He did brughten up and get lively for a bit very late that evening, so we went ahead with the second inhection.    

Check up and dressing change today, and we were confident that there would be no glucose.  We were wrong.  So, the insulin was probably the right thing to do.

The couleur de jour is red. Not sure if this is coded,  or whether they just happened to get a red bandage out of the box. If I'd known red was available, I might have requesed it over Christmas
More weight gain today, so that's good news too.

Definitely a curates egg of a day.