Wednesday 30 August 2023

Oh I did do one thing...

In the midst of all this, last weekend I did do one creative thing.

Westie design by Memories in Thread

Not my best work, but hopefully the recipient will be pleased.

Further derailment

DH popped back from his holiday late on Saturday, to see the cats (and me) and because he had something else planned on the Sunday.

He found me busily trying to write adverts for my embroidery machine and for the various framing/hooping systems I owned, which couldn't be converted to the new one.

I knew that I was obviously happy with my decision, because even writing out the she sales adverts for these framing/hooping systems (and the cost they represented) didn't give me any regrets. 

The whole process of listing took forever.   Then there were the queries to answer,  followed by transactions to deal with,  and then organising packaging and shipping.

I'd got most things wrapped by Sunday, and I'd arranged collection for all the sold bits for Tuesday.  I needed one more large box, and I didn't have anything suitable.  What I really wanted was one of those fruit and vegetable boxes, which don't have a lid but are large, have rigid sides, and a little bit round the top.   I asked on our local group if anyone had anything.  

One of my friends said that I could get them from the supermarket in the nearby town, so I was in there by 7.30 on Monday morning, and I came out with 5 of them.   One was perfect for wrapping the last item. In fact, it was so perfect, that I redid 3 of the other 4 packages in them as well.  This involved several trips into my loft to look for items suitable to used as lids and to provide rigidity.    Glenda, my little glue gun, wasn't up to the job and she had to be resuscitated several times.   I looked for DH's electric glue gun, but couldn't find it; I seriously thought about nipping out to buy one myself, but I restrained myself.

The repacking for most of the items was fine. One package, however, went into the next weight band,  so  so I had to cancel the postage and re-buy at the correct weight.   I cancelled the wrong one, and had to rebuy that too.

Everything was stacked up ready to go.  All photographed, photos and tracking numbers sent.   That was Monday, gone.

 I had another parcel which was being collected with the sold ones,  and I also had to parcel up my Roomba to return him to the manufacturer.  He was being collected on Tuesday as well.

I also had a number of deliveries expected, so I knew I wasn't going to get out and do anything sensible that day.

Tuesday was spent trying to clear up the debris from the packing,  updating my remaining adverts (and wondering about where else to post), and doing Domestics, in between receiving deliveries and handing over parcels. 

Eventually it was all done, I'd put all the deliveries away,  I'd done loads of washing,  I'd washed all the floors,  raked up the fallen apples (again), cleaned out the chickens....      DH came home, and the cats (and  I, or course) were delighted to have him back.

Today, I've been tracking the parcels. I won't relax until they've all arrived safely.   

I've had one person, so far, message me to say the parcel was delivered and the item arrived safely.   I actually bought a sewing machine from this person some time ago, so it feels like I was selling to a friend.  

She bought one of the items that I was very sad to find couldn't be adapted for my machine. So sad that I decided I'd probably buy another one, with fixings for my new machine.     It's likely that I'll have to buy from the US, and I want to wait until I know what is happening about brackets for a completely unrelated set of frames, in case I have to order those from the US as well.    She's planning to try the frame out this weekend, and I'm really interested to see how she gets on.

A second parcel has been delivered, but I haven't heard from the buyer yet.  I'll probably message them later.

I've also already spent some of the proceeds buying a (different again) preloved  frame for the new machine, and that should be here today.  In fact, it should already be here....I hope it hasn't got lost in the postal system.    

The rest of the money will go towards funding the new machine.

I need to get off my b*m and do something else, otherwise Wednesday will be a write off as well.

Sunday 27 August 2023

Further derailed (but OK)

Wednesday's Chiro appointment really really helped.  

I had a double session booked so that Tania had time to try a range of therapies to help me.  As well as the usual McTimoney stuff, she used did  some myofascial release which nearly always produces good results for me.    I do a sort of myofascial release on my shoulders at home,  and it definitely helps.  Doing it myself isn't nearly as effective as  having someone do it properly.

She's also adding Craniosacral Therapy to her armoury, and I was really keen for her to try this on me.  From my point of view (although probably not hers) it's an extension of the myofascial release.  It worked really well, especially on my neck and on my back where I have the problem.  I was surprised at the intensity of the reaction my body had.  Of course it may well be the power of suggestion,  but I don't think so (some of the parts that reacted unexpected,  and some parts didn't react at all).

It wasn't an instant fix.  I felt a little better after the treatment.  I had a disturbed night, but I woke up feeling physically much better on Thursday.

I spent the evening binge watching Discovery as I only had a few episodes left.  I nearly bought a Netflix subscription so I could watch Cobra Kai, but I resisted.   I think DH would like it,  so I'll wait.

On Thursday, I decided to "pop round" and visit someone I haven't seen for 18? years.    My friend Yvonne mentioned her when we were at lunch on Sunday, and I privately resolved then to go on Thursday(my first free day). 

I felt a bit nervous on Thursday, and wondered if I should have phoned first.  I'm glad  I didn't, as it meant I didn't feel obligated to go, and I don't like feeling obligated.    I was able to sort a few things out, get myself in the right headspace, and then I went when I was ready.

It was lovely to see Sue, and she was very happy to see me.  We chatted over a cup of tea for ab hour or so, and then I left.    I'll go again before too long (and I will phone and arrange it, because it won't feel like an obligation now),

On the way home I called it at the local Waitrose. It was not a good experience.  I was shocked, as this used to be the Waitrose to go to in our area.  It's also the one which does my home deliveries (neither if the two nearer ones does it), and I now understand why choice and availability is so rubbish.

I was getting ready for Friday, when something popped up unexpectedly on my FB MArketplace feed.  A heat press for a mug.     I haven't thought about this since we went to the Printwear and Promotion Show at the NEC before I bought my 6 needle embroidery machine.

I did a bit of research on the machine,  and realised it wasn't worth buying.  I did fall down the rabbit hole though, and I spent the whole evening investigating and pricing and thinking.    What if I didn't buy a new embroidery machine?  What if I kept my old one, and used the money I'd been saving, to buy stuff to do sublimation printing?

Friday arrived, and I got up early as I had a long drive ahead of me and an appointment at 11.00.   I was going to look at a new embroidery machine.  The appointment had been made a couple of weeks ago, and I didn't want to cancel.     

I decided I'd go,  look at the machine, and then see how I felt.

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Derail (Miss Teen and Cobra Kai)

The implementation of my Plan started really well.

Saturday was super-productive,  

Sunday went well.  Lunch out was lovely,  it was a really good roast dinner.  Many places that do roasts tend to struggle with quality, ir's difficult to keep vegetables etc in good condition.    I make a really good roast dinner (I'm an okay cook, with just a few dishes where I'd say that I'd rather eat mine than a restaurant version),  and roasts out usually leave me underwhelmed.

Sunday's was lovely:  tender and rare roast beef,  a really well made yorkshire,  delicious cauliflower cheese,  perfect potatoes,  and a great mixed vegetable dish.  Thevergetables had not been sitting under heat lamps for ages, I would guess everything was part cooked and then finished off to order.  Very worth the rather expensive price tag, and as good as I could make at home.  If they did Christmas lunch (they don't), I'd book.

We'd hiked there,  a three mile walk including a very, very, very long uphill drag.  No alcohol needed.  We did get a taxi home, because the last half milet to the pub was downhill,  and neither of us fancied walking uphill immediately after coming out of the pub garden.

I did more bits and pieces on Sunday afternoon, and resisted the urge to bingewatch the last few episodes of Star Trek: Discovery.  

Miss Teen disrupted my plans somewhat.  She asked to come on Monday and go home Tuesday, so she could do some revision.    In the end, she arrived Monday lunchtime,  and wasn't doing revision at all, she was doing homework. 

I couldn't sew in the kitchen with her studying, so I worked on the computer, doing some other bits and pieces that needed doing (mostly relating to Frdiat's planned visit to see a new embroidery machine)     I'd thought about taking her to the Pictures to see Barbie (she'd mentioned wanting to see it) in the evening, and eating out, but she'd already been.   We had pasta for dinner, and then watched stuff on her Netflix.  We saw Paddington, which a great re-watch;  some rubbishy spy thriller;  and then I picked Cobra Kai, which picks up the Karate Kid story, 34 years on.

What a fantastic show!

We'd watched all the Karate Kid films with Miss Teen over the last few years.   Cobra Kai  has the same actors, and the transition is seamless.  The story was amazing.  Really well done, and it was a great interweaving with the original films.  I loved it because it made us root for Johnny, who was the nasty teenager in the first film.  If did this, not by giving us his sad backstory (although that did come in later episodes) but by making him a very normal guy. Not good, not bad,  just a person.   The juxtaposition - and the nods -  to the original film was great, there were many laugh out loud moments for people like us who had seen the original and recognised the nods.  Each episode was only about 30 minutes and no adverts,  so we watched a few and then went to bed. I could easily have just watched the whole series, it was so compelling.

Tuesday, Miss Teen got up late.  No studying was done, we ended up having several energetic games of Swingball.  I had to take her back in the early afternoon, so we then watched a little Cobra Kai.  It got better, and better, and better. No sensationalism.   There are 5 seasons of this (with a 6th underway), and I might have to get Netflix just so I can see the rest.  Im not adding another service, so it will have to wait until we've seen all we want to see on our currently subscribed service. 

I did complete some of my intended tasks.  Well, I did a charity shop run.  I resisted buying a really cute set of cups and jugs (but I'm still thinking about them).

And, also one of my intended tasks, I finally got the sprouting underway!

 I realised that I could use my old Kefirco jars to try sprouting, there was even a video suggesting this on their website.  i put the jars through the dishwasher on Monday, and  I put the seeds in to soak on Tuesday morning. I drained them on Tuesday night, and some of the sprouts have already started this morning!   I intend to start another batch tomorrow,  just in case it turns out that I like them.    

I went to bed really early last night, about 9pm.  I woke up full of life at about 4am, and decided to stay in bed. I woke up at 7 and had to get up, and I didn't put my mask back on. I had intended to just get up, but I didn't.   And now I feel like crap.     I took a look at my O2 recorder, and I could see just by the shape of the graph exactly when it was I took my mask off.   What a stupid thing to have done, I won't make that mistake again.

So it's now half past Wednesday.  I've had 2 cups of tea, fed the cats, let the chickens out, written this blog.  I haven't even showered yet.    I've got to get moving as I have a Chiro appointment this afternoon.

It's probably just as well, as I'm tempted to go back to bed for a bit.


Saturday 19 August 2023

I will use my time well.

I've got a few days on my own, and I'm intending to use the time well.

I will resist the temptation of binge-watching something.   

I will resist the urge to have rice pudding for dinner several nights on the trot. In fact,  I will resist having it more than once.

I will make at least one item of clothing from my ever increasing "to do" list, although its likely to be Monday at the earliest.   I've been doing some clearing so I can bring the overlocker downstairs, to make this more likely to happen.    It was like one of those sliding puzzles,   a lot more had to move (in other rooms)  before I can do this.

I have already cleared the A0 table in the box room,  and I've only put a little bit of the stuff on top of the organ.  I will clear it off shortly.

In order to do that, I have already had to have a rummage under the bed in the Guest Room/Sewing Room to put some stuff away and clear a space.   I added some more bits to the charity shop pile,  which is now filling the boot of my tiny car.

I offered some bits to my friend who is a brownie pack leader,  and I've put those to one side to deliver to her.

I've identified some bits to try and sell.  My "to sell" pile is now, literally, quite large as it includes lots of Omlet Cat Tree bits.  I need to wait before selling some of it though, and I'm impatient to get sold.

I've just deleted a paragraph going into tedious detail on the whats, whys, and wherefores of waiting to sell.

I've completed the task of  going through all my embroidery hooping systems, and have identified which ones I won't be able to use on my new machine (if I get it) and so I would  be able to sell.    I spent a long time getting sticky tape residue off a couple of them (I never thought I'd sell them, so it didn't matter) so they are fit to sell.    I need to wait until I'm sure I'm buying a new machine,  before I advertise them.

I'm making good progress on the embroidery designs task (I had to get them all in the new machine format,  and then I started my very detailed cataloguing from scratch).  I'm intending to have finished it before I go to look at the (possible) new machine.

On the Domestics front,  I've cleaned most of the windows. I can't do the outside of the upstairs ones, and I'm not going up a ladder. I'll have finished the others before teatime.    

Miss Teen has also messaged to say she'd like to come over and do some revision next week, which has thrown my plans a little.   

But it will be lovely to see her.


Thursday 17 August 2023


The Girls have been moulting for some time now.  The first one to start was little Odie,  the shyer of the two new Araucana.

Poor little thing was already being dominated by the big girls, and then her moult made it even easier for the bullies.

And now everyone is moulting,  everyone  is cranky, and there are feathers everywhere.

About a month ago, I started to leave the door dividing  door open over night.   I started by just leaving the top open, and then I started to leave the bottom half open as well.  Each night I'd go and check that Littlees weren't being prevented from going to bed.

We had some interesting shenanigans after about a week or so.  I'd find a different older girl in with the Littlees each night.  Then I'd find a couple of them.   Sometimes the visiting hen would be making it difficult for the Littlees to access their coop, so I'd hoik them out.

Big Brave Ollie

One night, I found Ollie (Olga, the friendliest of the Littlees) in with the Old Girls!  She was back with the Littlees the next night,  then in with the Old Girls again.

And then FiFi (Ophelia, a palomino Vorwerk) was in  with the old girls.  This was a definite shock.  She has vision problems, and is right at the bottom of the pecking order, so I was really taken aback to see her in the "wrong" coop.

Odie, hiding
Odie has not tried to go in with the big girls.  She's hides in the nest box of her coop every night, hunkered down so as not to draw attention to herself.  I think it's the discomfort of moulting that's doing it. She hides under a chair when the girls converge outside.  I hope she gets over her moult soon.     

Luckily, one or more of the big girls sleep in the coop as well, but on the roosting bars.     It may be that  they are keeping her company, but I doubt it.  It's more likely that the mass moult means that everyone wants a little bit of space around themselves,  and they prefer to decamp to the next door coop for comfort.

 I took some quick snaps this morning, here are some of them:

Elisabeth, Fay, Odie,Ollie, Fleur, Fifi. Others are out of shot 

Thursday 10 August 2023


DH put the prch up on Monday, and it was so worth the trip!

We ut it up against the L shaped part of Henopolis,  so we only needed to build 2 sides (one o fwhich was the double doors) and a roof.  We used a flat panel for the roof.

Now, when I'm herding that last  recalcitrant hen, I can keep the others shut inside while I do so.    It's been used for its intended purpose every evening since! 


Monday 7 August 2023

Scores on the Doors

I did a 200+ mile round trip yesterday to collect some bits and pieces.

First up was a bundle of doors for the Walk In Run.   When I got them home, it turned out to not be quite as advertised, but it was an honest mistake so no point going back to the seller.    I've got 2 sets of doors, and we've rearranged a bit so we can make a 3rd set of doors to provide a porch. 

DH has built the porch already!

I'm selling 2 of the remaining half height doors, which I was expecting to be a full height door.  Becuase of the way they are built and welded, it's not possible to turn a bottom into a useable top door.   On the l;us side, I thought I'd advertise a few more bits for sale while I was at it,

The second stop was to collect a Hooping Station and Mighty Hoop.  It was a complete extravagance, but I think it will be worthwhile.   It's going to cause some upheaval at home, because I need to set it up somewhere, and there isn't any room.     We'd had a loose agreement about what was going to be rearranged to accomodate it,  and we'll probably  try and do that this week. Maybe.   It involves a lot of lugging, and I don't know if we've got the energy to do it.

The seller was lovely, and so was the cafe I met her in (which, it turns out, she owns!). 

It was an easy drive actually, mostly motorways and A roads, and it was a little faster than I had planned.

My back was quite painful in the evening, presumably from all the driving, and it gave me some gyp overnight.

Saturday 5 August 2023


For a long time now, I've been considering changing to an embroidery machine with  even more needles.  I've been saving up for it for several years.

Part of the reason I didn't make the change was because I just didn't know what to get. 

The "logical" upgrade is the bigger Brother machine,  but I didn't really want that.  I don't know really know why.   I kept looking at a couple of alternates, but I wasn't sure, and kept coming back to the perceived reliability of Brother, and that Brother really is the most common multi needle for home embroiderers.

I'd been looking at machines made by a Japanese brand called Happy, on and off.   At one point,  possibly before I bought my 6 needle Brother, I thought I'd go for their 7  needle machine.  I chickened out, and bought Brother. Don't get me wrong, My machine is fine,  it's a good machine, easy to use.  A few things I'm frustrated with,  but it's the nature of the beast.    

There is only one supplier of Happy machines in the UK, and they are based in Manchester.  I thought I'd go and visit them to look at their machines " in the flesh", so I could make a proper decision.

And then it was Lockdown.

And then I didn't do much embroidery,  I concentrated on sewing clothes etc.   My Brother machine was rarely used.     I kept saving in my "multi needle" account, squirrelling away the proceeds from Ebay and Facebook sales,  putting in my birthday money,  putting in my share of the "for hobbies" money.

Then a few weeks ago, after I'd done a couple oof bits of embroidery,  I  decided I'd look again at getting a bigger machine.  If not now, when?

I looked at the Brother 10 needle, and just couldn't make myself spend the money, not even on a used one.

And then I saw a post offering a newish Happy machine for sale.    I read up on Happy, and looked at what the newer machine offered.    I liked what I read,  and I thought about buying it.  I dithered a little (would I really use it?), and then I decided I'd buy it.   In my searches loking for sold items (on various platforms and groups), it seemed very rare, unless it came from a hard commercial environment.   

I messaged the seller.

And I was too late.

It did galvanise me somewhat.   I spent quite some time searching and researching,  considering and discounting older machines,  and then I made my decision.  It would be a Happy,  it would be that model, and it would be soon.

Spurred on by my decisiveness, I started to work on my embroidery files, so that everything would be ready when I (eventually) got my new machine.   I've been through this before, and I knew how much work was involved and how long it takes.     What does that mean?

Slip over this if you don't have a head for detail. 

Well, different manufacturers use different file types for their machines.   I originally used a Janome single needle machine, and the files were all .jef.    When I moved to Brother,  I had to obtain .pes versions of my many thousands of embroidery design.  These usually arrive in zip files and need to be extracted and filed (and then catalogued).  Happy machines use another format, .dst,  so I need to go through the process again.

When I say thousands of files,  I mean thousands of files.    Of course some designs have just 1 file,  or a couple of  files if there are different sizes.     At the other end of the scale, there are the many alphabets and fonts that I own.   Let's say I have an alphabet with 26 letters, upper case, 26 letters lower case, 10 digits and, say  8  punctuation shapes.  That alphabet may come in 5 sizes.   So, that makes  350 individual files just for 1 alphabet.

Many of the lovely designers send zip files which contain all formats in them. This means that, for many of my designs, I already had the files available, I just needed to extract them and file them sensibly ready for cataloguing.      I'm very organised and methodical when it comes to data, so I started working through each designer that did this.

Another set of designers don't supply every format, but its possible to log in to my account and extract a previously purchased design in a new format.   Not difficult at all, just a little time consuming.

Then there's the set of designers where I had to email the designer to ask them to make the DST format available for me.   All but one responded very quickly.  i was then able to log into my accounts and download the zip files I needed.

That left the ones where the designers only created a couple of formats (not including .dst),  or where the designer no longer exists,  or where the designer said I'd have to rebuy the designs if I wanted them in another format.   All of those, well, i'll keep the old format in my catalogue, and convert them myself as and when I want to use them.

Going through all of this made me realise what amazing designs I have bought over the years (and what rubbish).   I started to keep a list of "must stitch", but the list was too long.  I decided I'd sort that out when it came to re-cataloguing everything.

At the end of this tranche, which took many hours of work,  I was ready to review my catalogue.   I use the excellent SandScomputing's Sewcat software for this.  It lets me build a virtual catalogue, which works like the index of a recipe book. .   The actual files are only stored once, in one place,   but they appear in many places in my virtual catalogue.     

I am meticulous about this.  Whenever I buy a design, I file it properly and I make myself catalogue it properly.  I never put designs in my file structure, unless I catalogue it.    Of course I'm tempted not to, but I know how quickly things spiral out of control.    And I'm fortunate that I am very data minded.

 Using the recipe analogy, let's say I had a recipe for "Spaghetti Bolognese".  I only want to store the recipe in one place  but I want to have that recipe pop up  from all the things I'm likely to search by.  So, in my virtual catalogue, I might list it under a whole load of different things.  For example,  I might want be searching for "pasta dishes",  or "Italian".  I might be looking for recipes by ingredients, so it would be referenced under "Tomato bases",  or "mince", or "pork", or "beef", or "garlic", or "mushrooms".    Maybe there are other characteristics I'm searching for,  "good with Bulgar wheat",  "not spicy",  "good in an emergency",  "stretchable",  "keep warm",  "freezes well",   "slow cook",  and "fast cook",  "good with baked potatoes".   Or other weird things "favourite", "Miss T favourite" , "Not for xx".    I only have one physical copy of the recipe,  but it might appear in dozens of places in my "virtual catalogue".

The virtual catalogue isn't about finding a design when you already know the exact on you want,  it's about looking for possible designs, and the criteria can be anything and everything.     Sometimes it's about making sure that designs don't get lost in a forest of designs.      The more effort I put into my catalogue,  the easier it will be to find designs when I want to make something.

I did a reasonable job of my catalogue when I switched format last time.  This time, I thought about all the learning I'd had since then,  and all the things I'd noticed when I'd been busy unzipping files.   The key, for me, is to not rush it, and to start with the designers I know that I want to use again and again.  Get those properly (exhaustively) catalogued, and then work through the rest.

Alongside this, I searched everywhere I could think of, at least once a day, for newly listed machines.    I contacted MidWest to ask some questions and  I discovered that MidWest have a southern showroom!  I think it's one where you go by appointment, rather than a" turn up on spec" place,  but it means that I can see the machine reasonably easily. If I'd known this 3 and a half years ago, I'd have already got my new machine.

The searches resulted in some other embroidery related stuff popping up, and I've bought some other bits and pieces which I wasn't expecting. 

Today, I've started to populate my new catalogue.    I've realised quite how serious I am about this,  because my catalogue is DST files only,  unless I don't have a DST version of a design.  I did think about just ignoring the non-DST files, but I have quite a lot of them, representing quite an outlay, and some of the files are really lovely.  

I could, of course, catalogue all versions of each file - but that slows the search functionality down.

I'm going to try not to rush through this.  I want to get it finished, but I want to do it right. RiIght for me, anyway. 




Tuesday 1 August 2023

Gnashing of teeth

I'm off to the dentist today, to have a mould taken.  

The dentist has been warning me about clenching my teeth, and I've worked hard to stop myself doing it when I am irritated (or when I am trying to bite my tongue).     She says I'm probably clenching my teeth at night,  and I suspect she's right.

Because of ther CPAP, I'm trying to be even more careful about my teeth.  I had a routine dental appointment last week, and I mentioned that I'd started on CPAP in April and I was getting some sensitivity.    She commented on the night time clenching,  and suggested that I get a guard made to prevent me clenching at night.

I agreed,  and when I got to the car I cried a bit.  It wasn't the guard per se, it was just yet another thing that I am going to have to wear at night.  I've felt a bit down about it ever siince.

I need to make myself stop feeling so fed up about it.

    The guard will help me!

    It will protect my teeth from damage. 

    At least it's not bruxism on top of clenching. 

    It will make things better.  I will feel better for using it.

    It may stop me clenching,  and, who knows?! - if I stop clenching,  I may get reduced pain elsewhere.

    It may make it more comfortable to wear one or other or both CPAP masks.

    It's only a guard!     It's not like it's chemotherapy, or lots of drugs with side effects.

     It's designed to help me, not make me feel bad.

Mm.  It's a start. I'm sure I will be able to turn this around by the time it arrives.

In the meantime, here is a picture of Shelby, being accidentally cute