Monday, 30 November 2009

Stripey bag

I said there was a bag coming along, and here it is...I discovered that these belts I bought for 30p each from the charity shop are Judo belts, there you go, I have never seen them before. Their striking colours caught my eye as I rummaged through the bric a brac box on the floor. I had to wash them first as they were a bit dusty and it took couple of days to dry them, blowing in the wind outside on the line, as they have some kind of brown hessian inside them. I started off by cutting them into 28inch lengths, this was just a guess. Then I hemmed all the ends up, at this stage I wasn't sure whether to make the stripes horizontal or vertical. Next I joined all the stripes together with a zigzag stitch on the machine, they are too thick to overlap them. This gave me a flat piece so I joined the two ends to make a circle. I hand stitched this seam because it was slightly crooked, and because of it's bulk I couldn't use the machine. I kept two pieces back for the handles. I had to sew the handles on by hand, and I used string to do it. I covered the handsewn vertical seam with one of the orange handles to disguise it.

I just need to hand sew across the bottom now, I shall do it with string to match the handles. I took the photo first as it stands up nicely on the worktop. It measures 14.5 inches across and 12 inches deep. I have about five inches of yellow left over so I might make a fastener with it and add some velcro. A very sturdy bag for work or college, you could put a few bits of shopping in it as well. Total cost 90p.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Every penny counts

The weather is rubbish again today, looks like it has been raining all night. I woke up at 5am, probably because I went to bed at 9pm. I peeked out of the curtains, dark, wet, and quiet, so I went back to bed till 7am. I thought about the traders at the car boot sale, would they even bother to go today, I am not going to find out.

Yesterday I went to town, I needed to go to the bank, get some cat food, and visit the Scrapstore, and I wanted to take a look at the new exhibition at the arts centre. I see the shopping frenzy has begun, I hate town centres on a Saturday. The council has been advertising an ice skating rink in the main square, and as I still have my boots from many moons ago (I used to work at the ice rink in Blackpool), I thought I would take a look. Of course I didn't expect real ice, but this was pathetic, what a rip off. A small platform covered in plastic blocks which didn't look remotely slippery at all. The kids were having fun walking around on their blades and no doubt were enjoying their erm...'ice skating' experience. Price per adult was £3 for 20 minutes, but I didn't see any adults daft enough to pay that.

I went to the market for my cat food, the cheapest place round here, and it's always a good idea to walk round the veg stalls in the afternoon because they are keen to get rid of their perishable stock. I have a good stash of vegetables at the moment in the freezer, amongst other things beans from the garden, and I bought a big bag of carrots last week and froze them into single portions. But I did spot a bargain I couldn't resist, ten large bananas for 50p.

I am starting up my little accounts book again which I keep in my kitchen drawer, I need to record where all my money goes. I did it for a while but then stopped because I became so disciplined with my spending, I never spend more than I earn, or in my case, receive from my pension. I find this is a good way to keep focused on money matters. Not that I am becoming a spendaholic or anything, no chance of that, it's just that I have had a lot to pay out just lately. Car mot, tax and insurance, computer went wobbly again and Mark had to come and sort it, and the utility bills will be rolling in soon now the meters have been read.

I scrutinise my bank statements constantly, and always get a balance slip when I visit the hole in the wall, and always inside the bank never outside. My last big treat was my walking boots a few weeks ago, there won't be any more big treats now untill the new year, I need to build up my money buffer in the bank. Looking at the long term my car will need replacing eventually so that will be my priority in a couple of years. I'm thinking six to seven grand for that, and it will be cash, I don't do credit.

So my little cash book now comes into play again. I won't be going short on good wholesome food, because contrary to what people think, it costs very little to eat decent fresh food. I am a living testament to that, my health is good, my weight is right, all because I take the time to prepare food from scratch. My winter veggie stews are lovely at this time of the year, and cheap to make.

Friday, 27 November 2009


I've got a few craft projects on the go at the moment, some in various stages of completion and some are a figment of my imagination. I have been so engrossed with ideas swimming around in my head, that other things have taken a back seat. I actually forgot to go and help out at the Scrapstore the other day, luckily they had some other volunteers they could rely on. I must remember to take a note book with me when I go out so I can write down any dates I need to remember, then transfer it onto my calendar when I get home.
Remember the stone I made a dark blue crochet cover for, and stitched some pearl beads onto? I wondered what to do next. I covered some more stones in various colours, then I came up with the idea of making a rock pool with them. I can visualise them on a plate also covered in crochet, in greens and blues to give the appearance of water. The stones would have plant life growing on them as in a real rock pool. So far I have used cut up zips, shredded plastic rope, plastic pen tops, beads and buttons to add sea flowers and plants. I'm not telling you any more I don't want to spoil it, you will have to wait for the finished article which might take a couple of weeks or more.

I bought three quite thick, long fabric belts in green, yellow, and orange, for 30p each from the charity shop. I didn't know what they were untill someone told me they are judo belts. When I saw them I thought, aha, a bag. Watch this space.

I have made some more crochet beads and I'm in the process of stringing them together to make a necklace. I want to add something else to them to make it a bit more interesting, still thinking about that.

I have also brought down the small coffee table I made ages ago out of cat food boxes, it was tucked away in the spare room. I was getting a bit fed up with it because I couldn't get the surfaces flat and level, but then I thought, why does it have to be perfect, I could leave it all lumpy and bumpy, as long as a cup or glass can stand on it without toppling over. So now I want to finish it off with Felix cat food pouches all over it, but I am struggling to find the right substance to stick them on with. I have tried three types of glue but no joy. I don't want to spend lots of money on glue because that defeats the object of it being made out of rubbish. I have an idea to ask a man that makes vinyl covers for lorries, he uses glue that might work.

I have been struggling to get onto my two crafting tables, everytime I sit down to do some work the cats want to join in. This is Lilly and Freddie fighting for position under the warm lamp.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Price of a pint!

I've just been to the pub, something I only do about twice a year as it's not much fun sitting there by myself and twiddling my thumbs. There was a music quiz but I didn't join in, I am hopeless at quizzes. I purchased a pint of cider and a packet of crisps. Shock horror, the price of it. Cider £2.70, I got a four can pack from Tesco for £2. Packet of crisps 65p, I got a multipack (12 packets) from Tesco for 47p. No wonder everyone's recycling bins are full of empty cans and bottles. I did read the paper though, so that saved me 36p, ha ha.

Bring your duster if you visit

I've been thinking of this simple life I have, maybe it's becoming a tad too simple, maybe if you don't use your brain very much it turns into cotton wool. What is it the experts say, use it or lose it? I always seem to shut down at this time of year anyway, shorter days, thinking it would be nice to hibernate, everything takes a lot more effort in the winter. I could very easily become a slob.

Looking around me there is plenty to do, a bit of dusting, dysoning the carpets, cleaning the windows, but I can't be bothered. I'll leave it till the spring. I know someone who lives in a junk yard, it reminds me of Steptoe's house if you can remember the sit com from years ago. Steptoe was a rag and bone man who went out in his horse and cart to collect scrap. I am not exagerating here, she collects junk. Each to their own I suppose, but I couldn't live with all that clutter, an utter nightmare not being able to find anything. Her life is very complicated, she tries to juggle job, child, clubs, dog, no wonder she is always worn out. I tell her to get a skip and get rid of all her junk, she says she will, but never does, some people are like that I suppose.

So back to my house. I keep things simple by periodically sorting out, then take a bag or two to the charity shop. Once it's gone out of the house I forget all about it, forget I ever owned it, forget I ever saw it.

Sometimes things coming into the house hardly get past the front door. Like junk mail for instance. My paper recycling cupboard is just inside the kitchen, the leaflets from companies I have no interest in go straight in there. I might scan the supermarket ones to see if there is anything I need to buy, but nine times out of ten the special offers are on junk food. Any unsolicited sales letters which have my name and address on them, have my personal details ripped from the top and go in the shredder, the rest goes to recycle. Do not put any bits of paper in the recycle which have any personal details on them which might identify you. I still get paper bills so they go on the notice board in the office with the date they have to be paid, highlighted so I don't forget.

The man came yesterday to read the electric meter which is hidden behind a cupboard. I have to move it away from the wall so he can have access. Oh dear, the dust, ha ha.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Invisible Ladies

We have an exhibition on at the moment at the 20 21 Arts Centre in the town, which is quite eye catching. I always call in to view the latest exhibits, I just wish they would change them more often. The work of Susan Bowman is on show outside in the courtyard untill March next year.
She uses mainly ladies undergarments with some camisole tops, and turns them into invisible people by moulding them to the shape of the female form, and preserving them in resin. They are rock hard and able to withstand the elements for a long period of time, an idea which I find fascinating, to turn something soft to the touch into a virtual suit of armour.

They stand independently on their plinths, a group of invisible women, gathered together, waiting, chattering maybe. Who knows, they may even come alive when darkness fills the skies. Wouldn't it be just amazing if the staff turned up for work one morning and they had all changed their positions :-0
If you want to see more of her work you can look at her website.

Monday, 23 November 2009

My frugal Christmas

Now I have your undivided attention, I'm going to say this just the once.
That's got it all over and done with for this year then. I used to take part in Christmas, not any more, it's too much hassle. Hours trawling the shops for suitable gifts for friends and family. Worrying myself to death about getting something they might like, I am hopeless at Christmas shopping, oh the misery of it all! I have the answer, don't do it.

I will send a few family cards, and one to my best friend. What is the point of sending cards to people you don't have any contact with all year. I would much rather pick up the phone and have a chat, and if they don't ring me that's fine. I might give away some of my home made things, but I will definately not be battling my way round the shops filling my bag with cheap tat, or spending ridiculous amounts of money just because everyone else is and just because it's Christmas.

The same few decorations will come out of the box again, a small tree, some coloured lights, a few baubles. My food won't be much different from what I eat all the year round, I might get a small cake, and make a trifle. I'll treat the cats to a bit of chicken, and might even have a mad moment and treat myself to a small bottle of Pernod ;-o

This is my least favourite time of the year, lets just get it over and done with. Now New Year, that's another matter all together. I love New Years Day, a fresh new start, full of anticipation, looking forward, making plans, YESSSSSS, yippeee, roll on New Year.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Knit and Stitch Show

Here we are, back on track once more. I had a great day out at Harrogate yesterday, the Knit and Stitch Show was very popular judging by the crowds that came pouring in from the many coaches arriving. I got there at just gone eleven, after abandoning my car in a side street on the outskirts of town and hopping on a bus.

I declined the invitation to buy a £3 brochure after parting with my £11 entrance fee, and waded into the crowds elbowing for space to view the goodies on offer. Of course without a floor plan the only way I could make sure I saw it all was to methodically walk up and down every aisle. My reason for going there was to search for new ideas to inspire me, but after an hour or so of seeing nothing but trade stands flogging their wares, I wondered if I had wasted my time. It was ok if you wanted to buy fabric, wool, and crafting materials, or spend £250 on a machine that punches six holes in fabric over and over again.

I sat down next to a lady who was supposed to be giving knitting lessons, and tucked into my sandwiches. I think she was happy just to chat with me. Nearby was a full size boat which had been covered in knitting, including all the bits and pieces you would associate with it, all knitted.

For the life of me I cannot understand why women take so long to go to the toilet, for goodness sake, don't they faff about! There were long queues, 99% of visitors were women so it was to be expected. Eventually some bright spark came up with the good idea of sticking a sign up on the door of the Gents, immediately turning it into a Ladies, but not before I had already been in there to miss the queue, I don't faff around, in and out in a jiffy, ha ha.

In the next hall I found what I had come to see, the exhibition side of the show. This was better, a gallery of artists showing their work. I had a chat to a very talented lady, Jill Flower, she is a textile artist who stitches paper and adds beads and buttons. Her work is stunning. It is difficult to explain and you need to see it close up to appreciate the hours she puts into it. I didn't take any photographs because they wouldn't have done it justice, but I urge you to look at her web site.

Most of the exhibits had 'No Photography', notices close by, but I did ask permission to take these. Backpack, boots, flask, and sandwiches, all knitted.

A knitted dustbin with it's contents spilling out.

As you know I am more interested in making things out of rubbish, the world is awash with the stuff, there really is no need to to buy your crafting materials. There seemed to be a frenzy of activity around the trade stands so I had a quick look to see if I should treat myself to something. I have to say there was nothing that caught my eye. The only thing that did interest me was the huge wooden knitting needles, I thought I could perhaps rip up an old blanket and knit it into a rug. But then it crossed my mind that I could possibly make the knitting needles out of an old broom handle I have in the shed. So I didn't buy a thing.

The quilts were fabulous, I would never have the patience to take on such a huge project. One exhibit that was very powerful which sticks in my mind was part of a display of the deterioration of the human body after death. Centre piece was Jesus on the cross, resembling nothing more than a skeleton draped with fragments of cloth. On the opposite wall was twelve rough pieces of wood, about 6" x 12", set vertically. Nailed on each one was a glove which look as old as if they had been on the hand of Christ. They had been torn to shreds but were still obviously gloves, and treated with some kind of plaster and resin. A very powerful image.

The last two photo's I took are clever ideas with rubbish. Someone drank a lot of Guiness to make this wall hanging. Each aluminium can has been painstakingly cut up and stitched together onto a fabric backing. It's about the size of a single bed sheet. An idea I might try, smaller version of course.

This picture is made out of woven, knitted, and crochet, plastic carrier bags. The more I view artwork, the more I realise I have to move further outside the box. Each one of the exhibits have their written signs next to them explaining the artists thinking when they create them. More often than not the jargon means nothing to me, I am drawn to certain pieces only because I like the look of them. Getting inside someones head is one of the most complex activities ever, I wonder if I should even bother to try, or am I missing out on the true enjoyment of art. Oh, I almost forgot, I met another Ilona, she was selling beads. They are coming thick and fast now.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Just go

I'm looking forward to sleeping in my bed tonight, after spending five nights on a camp bed in my living room. I have been looking after Henry 24/7 since Sunday afternoon, and there was no way I could leave him even for a few minutes, he wanted to be by my side the whole time. He has gone home now, collected by Helen at 6pm. I was a little bit sad to see him go, but I can now relax as I have my life back.

I found the experience mentally and physically demanding. He is such a strong boy, and not yet fully trained so I was dragged round the streets everytime we went for a walk. I used the Halti collar as well as his normal one, which helped a little, but never the less I feel totally exhausted by it all. I am having problems with the muscle in my upper right arm, getting sharp pains when I reach for something. This has been building up for a long time from my lorry driving days, and now I find it painfull to use the mouse for any length of time, all part of old age I suppose.

I mentioned mentally demanding because I am unfamiliar with the concept of sharing my life with anyone, man or beast, that expects my full attention. I know I have the cats, but we rub along nicely together, I feed and cuddle them and they do their own thing.

Commitment to another human being frightens the hell out of me, it always has done, and now I know I could not take on a dog full time either. Life just seems so simple when you are on your own. I am going to the Knit and Stitch Show tomorrow at Harrogate. I dont have to ask anyone, dont have to make arrangements for dog sitters or child minders, or deal with sulky husband, just walk out of the door and go. I'll let you know what it's like.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Cats rule, ok!

I am watching Henry raiding my recycled paper box in the office, he is having great fun tearing everything to shreds. It's quite manic here at the moment, Henry gets very upset if I dont give him my undivided attention, omg, now he is eating the paper, just a minute while I remove it from his mouth. Bugsy cat is in his hideaway in the spare room, Lilly is asleep on my bed, and Freddie is glaring at Henry from the safe haven in the window sill.

Freddie gave Henry a hissy fit warning not long after he arrived, which was a good thing because Henry now knows who is top cat, and gives them all a wide berth. We all get up at 7am, and as soon as I have brushed my teeth and fed the cats, we go out for the first toilet walk, me being dragged down the road. It's only Wednesday and I am exhausted, my shoulders ache, in fact I ache all over. I am using his new halti collar on him now, he doesn't like it very much, but at least it reduces some of the pulling.

It isn't all hard work, well not quite. I keep reminding myself he is only a baby and he will be missing his mummy, he makes me laugh sometimes. We went to town yesterday, he loved sitting outside the library watching everyone walk by, a few came to stroke him. You are never alone with a dog.

Sorry this is a bit rushed, but everytime he is quite for a few minutes I have to get up and see what mischief he is up to. We are off to his house in a short while to spend the afternoon there. The cats will get a break, Henry can mooch round his own garden, and I can watch the tele.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Getting ready to camp out

It's countdown to Henry time, I'm going to pick him up shortly. Just letting you know because I'm not sure if he will allow me to switch the computer on while he is here :-( If this blog goes a bit quiet blame it on Henry, he will be demanding my attention no doubt, and we will be doing lots of walks.

I am knocking together a gate so that I can have the back door open for the cats, but he can't get out. I've found a pallet that just needs a bit sawing off it and a couple of slats adding. That should do the trick. In the meantime I have brought my camp bed into the living room, in case the cats take over the bedroom, I think it's best that I sleep downstairs with Henry, it will save a lot of upset trying to keep them seperate. Wish me luck.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A trucking tale

Slap my wrist, I haven't got a post prepared today, so I thought I'd pinch a little story from my trucking tales. I started gathering bits and pieces together for a book a while ago, but I seem to have come to a halt, sometimes the words just dont flow. This tale is from my time at Leicester Heavy Haulage, hope it makes you titter.

Whenever I hear the song ‘Three Wheels on my Wagon’, I think of the time when two of my trailer wheels decided they were going no further, and took a diversion into the woods on the side of the A75, while I was en route to Stranraer. Colin and myself had picked up a couple of heavy lumps of machinery, bound for Belfast, they were loaded on low step frame trailers. We were booked onto the 5pm boat and had timed the journey to the docks just right, only a few miles to go.

I felt a little jolt but thought I had maybe run over a pothole in the road. Suddenly my CB radio bursts into life, Colin, who had been behind me all the way, was yelling at me, “There’s something funny going on with your back wheels, pull over.” Luckily there was a layby just ahead so I swiftly steered into it. We got out to check my trailer, something was missing, there was a gaping hole where there should have been two wheels. The middle axle on the nearside of the trailer had dropped down to within an inch of the road surface because it now had no wheels to support it.

We looked up and down the road, no sign of the runaways. I dropped the trailer and we carried on to the docks, we needed to tell them of our delay, and to get some help. Colin discovered that he couldn’t board the boat because his load was too high, so we were both booked onto the next one due to leave the following morning. I rang Jim, the transport manager, and we were instructed to go back to my trailer and search for the missing wheels, in the meantime he would arrange for a tyre company to come out and put them back on for us.

It was getting dark by this time and I was beginning to see the funny side of the situation, singing ‘Three Wheels on my Wagon’, while staggering about in a pitch black wood, with a small flashlight. Talk about looking for a needle in a haystack. “I’ve found one,” I shouted excitedly as I pushed it up to the road, but we didn’t find the other. The tyre man turned up and said he couldn’t put just one wheel on, there had to be two, but he did have a plan to get me going, he asked me for a chain. He jacked the axle up so that it was raised off the ground, he attached the end of the chain, with a shackle, to a hook on the edge of the trailer on the opposite side. Then he took the chain across the bed of the trailer and underneath the lame axle, bringing it back across. Then, with a tensioner he attached the other end to an anchor point on the trailer and tightened it up. He lowered the jack, and hey presto, it worked. The dangly axle was supported by the chain, and I was able to complete the journey to the docks, get on the boat to Belfast, and drive for an hour to the destination.
When we finally delivered our loads we got the crane driver to lift my trailer onto the back of Colins, he took it piggy-back and I followed him in my tractor unit back to the depot. It's a good job I had a lot of wheels, when you start off with twenty you can afford to lose a couple, ha ha.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Show support for homemade

For saying I don't do much shopping, I sure do have a lot of shopping bags now! Here is the sixth one, just finished.

Think I'll start a competition, how many shopping bags can you make from a gazebo roof. I still have some material left so look out for number seven. I am rather proud to show my bags off now when I go through the checkouts, the till ladies show great interest in them. I thought I would make this one with bold lettering, to show my support for home made. I cut the letters out of a piece of fabric used for making blinds, it doesn't fray so it is ideal for stitching straight onto something without having to hem it first. I used red embroidery thread and deliberately made the stitches large to emphasise the home made look.

The size of this one is 13" x 11" x 7". I like the handy size box shape as I am very particular how I pack my shopping. Having bags of different sizes means you don't damage anything because they don't fall over in the car, if you pack properly they stay upright. Smaller heavier items can go in the smaller bags, and things like boxes of cereals can go in the bigger bags. The handles are strong and firmly attached and can easily cope with the weight. Much better than those floppy flimsy plastic bags that spew their contents all over the place. Best of all of course, it cost less than 1p to make.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

More tyres and cheap food

Three snippets for today's post. Remember the 32 tyres I found dumped in a ditch? Well there are eleven more now, totalling 43. I rang the council again, third phone call, and the environmental health chappie said a contractor has been to inspect the site and has tendered a price to remove and dispose of them. They will do the job next week. I thought that was a bit strange and asked why one of their own vehicles could not be sent to pick them up. He said they would still have to pay for disposal at an authorised site, so it was cheaper if they paid an outside company to do it. I wonder how many other jobs they contract out?

A leaflet came through the door the other day advertising a new Cash and Carry which has recently opened. It's on the way to town so I stopped to have a look at what they are selling. It's a small warehouse full of food stuffs, pet food, household and toiletries. Some of the prices were really cheap, the catch is that a lot of the stock is out of date, or least popular flavours and varieties which haven't sold in the bigger shops. I filled my basket for £9.50 with packets and tins. Putting dates on food is the best thing they ever did, but the other week I read in the press that they were considering stopping the practice because people are throwing too much food away. I hope they dont because I dont mind eating out of date food, especially if I can get it cheaper.

In all my sixty years I have only ever spoken to one other Ilona on the phone, and met another in person. It was lovely to find people with the same name as me, and ask about their experiences of living with an unusual handle. I seem to have had more difficulties than they have with explaining the pronounciation of it. Their English version is much simpler than the German version my mother taught me. It is natural for me to say it with a German accent, but then no one can understand it.

This week I have spoken to another Ilona. I found her on the internet and she lives in Glasgow, but guess what, we also have the same surname, how cool is that! It was exciting, I rang the number and asked to speak to myself, ha ha. The woman replied, 'speaking,' and repeated her name. I said 'hello, I am also Ilona.' It was lovely chatting to her. I think that makes us rather exclusive, we could possibly be the only two in the whole wide world. Amazing!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Miss Simple

Many of the people I meet on a daily basis are a little perplexed when I chat about my lifestyle, they just can't fathom out where I am coming from. Some may even think I'm from another planet. My straight forward black and white ideas, and my simplistic solutions to everyday complications seem to baffle them. I am an ideal candidate to embrace a simple lifestyle.

For a long time now I have understood the concept of choice. Each one of us has the mechanics, the information, and the capacity to learn, to enable us to make informed choices on how to live our lives, yet many follow blindly the path taken by millions and ignore the junctions which veer off in another direction.

I am not a fan of making decisions, so I take the simplistic way out by eliminating everything that is not important to me. For example, my house could do with some new decoration, but I wouldn't know which wall paper to pick, so I simply live with what I have, it's not important. I simplify my food shopping by not going down half the aisles of the supermarket. I eat what is good for me, no need to go down cakes and biscuits.

I stay with the same insurance broker for my car insurance, because I know they will find me the best deal. I have tried looking myself but no one else came up with anything better. I don't flit around the utilities trying to get gas and electric a bit cheaper, because they are all as bad as each other. The simple solution for me is black and white, use less and you pay less.

I dumped the TV because I could see no usefull purpose for it except to take up too much of my valuable time. I will not be dictated to by a box, simple choice. I don't have to buy a TV programme magazine, don't have to scour through it to find something that is slightly interesting to watch, and don't have to organise the rest of my time around it. Simple.

I have no fear of receiving bills I cannot pay, because I simply don't buy what I cannot afford. The word 'overdraft', is alien to me, I have never asked for one so I would not know how to get one. Overdraft puts the fear of God in me, it is spending someone else's money, so why would I want to do that? I would have to pay it back. Black and white answer, earn more or spend less.

I build simplicity into every aspect of my life, I don't have to think about it, it comes naturally. Ask me a question and I will give you a simple answer. I am quite simply, very simple.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Stripey bag

I have just finished another bag for the Scrapstore, again it's another upholstery sample. I like the colours of this one, but it is getting more difficult to choose my favourite. I am reluctant to let them go, but eventually I may give some away as gifts. This one will be an example of what can be made out of scrap, and will be on display at the Scrapstore. I used a pillow case for the lining and the little fastening loop. The buttony thing is made out of the plastic case of a felt tip pen, cut it to the right length, then make two holes through the centre to sew it on. The back is plain aquamarine blue. It would benefit from an embellishment on the front, if I was keeping it for myself I would add a colourful motif in one corner. It's still very nice without.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Pushed out of bed

Well, Henry has been and gone, the last twentyfour hours have been a bit of a trial for the cats, but we managed. I thought it best to keep them upstairs while Henry had the run of the groundfloor, although he could see them if they ventured onto the top stair. He wagged his tail with glee and barked a few times, when Lilly peeped between the railings on the landing. It's a good job I put a barrier at the bottom of the stairs or he would have been up there like a shot to play with his new friend.

The fireworks last night were a bit of a pain, the cats hide because they are frightened, so I put the radio on loud, and the lights on. I took Henry for a walk at 4pm, and again at 9pm, when hopefully most of them had finished.

Henry is used to sleeping in the bedroom, I hadn't the heart to turf the cats out of there, so I decided to sleep on the settee, because I knew Henry would not settle on his own. All started ok, then Henry became restless, he kept changing his mind and alternating between the floor and the chair. The next thing, he launched himself onto me, we lay together for five minutes squashed onto the two seater settee. I finally gave up as my back was beginning to ache, and I made my bed on the floor, at last Henry is happy and I got to sleep.

Up at seven, out for a walk at quarter past, no time for a drink, Henry is whimpering. We had a long walk, and I had my breakfast when we got back. I was hoping to do a bit of sewing but Henry had other ideas, he loves his blue rubber ball and keeps bringing it back to throw again. There was no settling him, so we went another walk at 11am. My left shoulder feels like my arm has been pulled out of it's socket, hanging onto a big strong dog certainly tires you out. We went down a farm track where I could let him lose, and thankfully there were no other dog walkers about. He just loves water, and of course he managed to find a ditch with a foot of lovely muddy water in the bottom. He thought a good rub down with a towel when we got back was such good fun. At last he flaked out on the floor, and I managed to get back to my sewing.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Going to collect Henry

Just a quickie, I'm off to collect Henry for his weekend away, hope he's packed his overnight bag, ha ha. I've tidied the house, and picked everything up off the floor that he might consider to be a tasty morsel ! The cats food dishes are upstairs in the bedroom, this is the routine we have when we have a house guest. They will have a surprise as Henry comes bounding in, and I don't expect to see much of them over the next 24 hours, poor little loves. I feel a bit mean doing this to them, but if Henry can gain a little bit of knowledge about cats, he will turn into a more sociable dog. If it goes wrong I can always take him back to his house and stay there with him. Wish me luck.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Born again puss

I've got a new pussy cat, well an old one that I have revamped, a born again kitty. This is my idea for recycling ornaments that are past their best. This cat wasn't particularly old but it had a strange face with puffy cheeks, and some of the paint had come off. The shape was ideal, gently rounded, no bits sticking out.

Remember the beads and stone that I covered in crochet, why not try it with something bigger. It helps if the ornament is not too complicated though, it would be almost impossible to do a horse unless it's legs were tucked underneath it. This is puss approaching the halfway stage.
I started at the bottom, crochet a circle then add a few more stitches for the feet. Then go round and round, increasing and decreasing to fit the contours, no pattern just follow the curves. I drew a picture of it before I started, marking where the stitching should go. I thought a red cat would be nice. Four buttons for the eyes, and black wool for the markings. And hey diddly, introducing Oscar, isn't he cute? He is almost 10 inches tall, the photo doesn't do him justice as the flash has whiped out the detail in the stitches. He looks lovely in the flesh.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Teaching Henry

The car is back in it's usual place, on the drive, I've got lovely shiny new brakes, and it doesn't feel lumpy any more when I am using them.

I went for a dog walk with my friend Helen today, so she could teach me the commands she uses for Henry while she is training him. This is me and Henry

I have got him for the weekend while they go away. Henry is 10 months old and a big boy, he is so strong. I looked after him in June and it was a nightmare, he ate everything he could find. I am hoping he is going to behave himself in my house, I don't know what the cats will think, they will probably do a runner. If things don't work out I can always take him back to his house and stay there. This is going to be a trial, because I am looking after him again in a couple of weeks time, and it will be for six days. I think it would be good to take him out to places he hasn't been to before, treat it like a holiday for both of us.

He walked quite well today, not pulling too much, and he enjoyed romping across the fields. I shall probably be frazzled by Sunday night.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Saving up for my MOT

Today is a day of mourning, my car didn't get a clean bill of health at the MOT station :-( Oh dear, I have a sick car that needs some mechanical intervention. I hate taking it for test, it's too nerve wracking, will it wont it. I had a tyre changed on the back before I took it in, as it was on the borderline, then dropped the car off and went walkabout. Much too stressful to sit around waiting for it.

I took some books back to the library, and took the bag I made to the Scrapstore. They were very pleased with it, and I came away with another sample in several shades of blue, to make another one.

My poor little baby is spending a lonely night locked inside the Central Tyres garage, awaiting some new front discs and pads, which will be fitted tomorrow morning, then I will get the pass certificate. The lads at the garage look after me, I have been going there for years, they very kindly gave me a lift home.

On a lighter note, I did find a one pound coin plus a 5p and a 2p coin lying on the ground in the car park at Wickes, not that it will make much of a dent in the £294 I have got to pay out for my MOT. Then there's the tax and insurance coming up soon. Never mind, I have been saving up for it.

Monday, 2 November 2009

My pearly whites

I saved the planet today, I went to the dentist on the bus, four buses in fact, two there and two back. My dentist is not the nearest one to me, but I stay with them because they are very nice, I see a lovely young lady called Emma. It felt strange at first, having a lady dentist prod around in my mouth.

A few years ago I had to have a big tooth extracted, I thought, she'll never do it, she is not big enough, she hasn't got the strength. I had visions of her standing on top of me, using all her body weight to pull with both hands. I gripped the arms of the chair and pushed myself downwards so that my head wouldn't lift up as she pulled, I braced myself for the struggle. A couple of seconds later, as quick as a blink, she had my molar between the pliers in her hand. It came out as clean as a whistle, amazing.

What has happened to the free reading matter in the waiting room these days, something to browse while you wait your turn. They used to have The Times, a newspaper that I quite like but stopped buying years ago. On the low tables there were notices saying because of the spread of germs, and the swine flu epidemic, they no longer have papers and magazines. They might as well take the tables away then. I sat and twiddled my thumbs. Does this mean that all the public libraries are going to close, due to the risk of catching some dreaded lurgi?

Anyway, I came away with a smile on my face today, a clean bill of health and an appointment for nine months time. So it's onward and upward with the brushing and flossing, and no more eating nuts and chewing toffees. All food has to be sucked to death from now on, don't want to pull any fillings out. I would like to make it to the finishing post with at least some of my own gnashers still attached to my head.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Scrapstore bag

Not a day for going out today, blowing a gale, but no worries plenty to do indoors. I went to the Scrapstore yesterday and they have been given a lot of fabric samples from a furniture company, lovely patterns and colours. They're not the usual single piece of fabric, but have been made up into flat cushions with a piece of wadding between non matching front and back. They are about a foot square, and no one has come up with a good idea for them yet.

It was obvious to me......bags of course. One of the seams is machine stitched on the outside, so I unpicked it. Then I cut a two inch strip off the top, I separated the two pieces and cut the two inch wadding strip lengthways in half again. Now I have two handles, roll them into two sausages with the wadding in the centre and sew them down the length.
Next find a piece of pink fabric to match, for the lining, sew the sides together. The wadding in the bag has been removed, it can be used for something else. Then get a small piece of pink, make a small narrow sausage, in a similar way to the handles but a lot smaller. And finally you need a button, sew it into place putting a small piece of folded fabric on the inside to reinforce it.

Pin everything into place, the lining inside, sandwiching the handles and the button tie, between the outer and inner. Sew one neat seam around the top, I used the machine but you could hand sew it. Finished in a couple of hours, and almost free.

I'm going to take this to the Scrapstore next week so they can put it on display, in the hope that other people will be inspired to make one. If no one wants to have a go, I have got another 75 to make, ha ha.