Sunday 31 January 2010

How to make a nest

This is my tutorial on how to make a nest. With the nights being very cold at the moment, and me not having a human hot water bottle, I thought I might redesign my bedmaking to make it more snug and cosy. My electric blanket was chucked a few months ago, before the house went up in flames, and has not been replaced, so I need an alternative method to keep warm.

The flat surface of a bed does not lend itself to the contours of the human body. I know you can get such things as a memory mattress or a memory topper to put over the existing mattress, but I cannot see how these can work if you are constantly changing your position while you sleep. They would not keep up with my tossing and turning, the memory bit would have to be re programmed every week.

So I need to introduce some lumps and bumps into my bed, this is a much cheaper alternative as long as you already have the necessary components.
Step 1, put a sheet on first, you could skip this if you don't have a sheet as it is not really necessary.

Step 2, you need a fluffed up feather duvet in a cover on next, any old cover would do.

Step 3, next put on another fluffed up duvet in a nice cover because you are going to sleep on top of that.

Step 4, Next add the pillows. You can have as many as you like. I have three under my head, (I might move one of these elsewhere during the night), and I put one half way down the bed because I lie mainly on my back and the slight elevation under my knees is more comfortable for my hips and back. When I turn on my side I put this pillow between my knees, supporting the upper leg slightly, a more natural position. Single people could have an extra pillow for hugging. You can experiment till you get it right.

Step 5, cover the whole thing with a big duvet in a nice cover because this is the one you are going to sleep underneath.
Step 6, then add another duvet in any old cover.

Step 7, finish off with a throw. If you don't have pets on the bed you could possibly manage without this, but put the top duvet in a pretty cover.

To sum up, this is the basic recipe, you can adjust it to use whatever ingredients you have to hand. Feather duvets are best, it makes a cosier nest, but fibre ones will also do the job. Don't think you will have to do a lot more washing, you only need to wash the covers which are next to your body, the others can be washed maybe once a month. I have been sleeping in my nest for a few weeks now, it is so lovely I don't want to get out in the morning. Think of the electricity I am saving by not having an electric blanket. Are you going to have a go at making your own nest? Of course you will be a lot warmer if you don't take all your clothes off at night, ha ha :-)

Saturday 30 January 2010

Stanage Edge

Oh dear, I hope I'm not going to bore the pants off you with another walk, if you don't want to see it look away now, ha ha. Today was lovely and sunny so I got myself sorted, made my pack up, and set off for Hathersage in derbyshire. I have been there before but wanted to try another walk because it is so lovely there. I arrived at 11am and parked near the church. I wanted to explore Stanage Edge, a line of craggy rocks high up, with great views.

There seemed to be quite a few walkers about, that's not a good sign, I like to wander off on my own, just me and my map. Not a lot of snow left, except for up on the hills where it was frozen hard. It wasn't long before I had to stop and strip off, I always start with too many clothes on then get a sweat on when I am climbing. I had a pair of lightweight trousers on and underneath a pair of jog bottoms, and under that a pair of leggins. Well the leggins had to come off, and of course I had to take my boots off for that, so there's me hopping around in the woods hoping no one comes along. I had just finished when one man and his dog strolled by.

I came to a wood called Dennis Knoll, there is a car park there, and I looked up the track towards Stanage Edge, it was like the M1 motorway I had just driven on, there was that many people they needed traffic lights. I decided to go in the other direction and look for another path across the moors and meet the Edge a bit further up. I found the stile ok, the path wasn't very obvious so I hoped I was going in the right direction. I got to a disused quarry, it must have closed many years ago because mother nature had been reclaiming the land. The view was fantastic, very difficult to take a photo though because half of it was in the shade. It was a lovely spot to have lunch, it feels very spiritual when you are by yourself amongst the massive rocks, and the erm....sheep droppings, ha ha.

I set off in the direction I thought was right, but there was no sign of a path. I decided to go back to the road because I didn't want them to have to get mountain rescue out for me if I was still up there after dark. I went back to Dennis Knoll, not quite so many people about now so I set off towards the Edge. Here are a few snaps.
Through the gate into The Warren
The wooden bridge over the stream

The disused quarry

Can you see me waving to you

Climbing up to the Edge

You can see the Edge along the skyline
The path is under the snow at this point

The view from the top

It's a popular spot for climbers

It looks like you could push this rock off the edge

This is on the top of Stanage Edge
Another view from the top, it doesn't look very steep but it is a sheer drop.

The path is very well worn, many cyclists, runners, and walkers use it. I actually prefer to get off the beaten track, but I need to improve my map reading skills for that. There are a lot more places you can walk now, and some of them are not very obvious, you need a map and a compass to explore them. The scenery on our island is wonderful, so much to see and so little time.

Friday 29 January 2010

How much ! ! !

I was up a bit earlier this morning, with a plan to go walking, but one look out of the window put me right off, dull, overcast, and damp. I thought I would give it an hour to see if it brightened up. After breakfast it was still the same, so I thought it had better be plan B then, the bus to Hull, that's Kingston upon Hull if you're posh. At least I can walk around in the warm there, even though shopping centres are not my idea of fun.

Just as I set off, the sun came out, how can you ever make plans for anything with such fickle weather like this. It was flippin freezing cold, sunny one minute and a snowy blizzard the next. I had to tie my scarf over my head, caught sight of myself in a shop window, what an awful sight, just like Olive from On the Buses, ha ha.

I was looking for charity shops but only found three, and they were way too posh for me, so no bargains there then. The only way I could warm up was to walk around big shops. I thought about going in a coffee shop for a warm drink, but I just cant bring myself to pay their extortianate prices. I had a sandwich and a banana in my bag and ate those. Then I found myself looking for bargains in Tesco's. I thought I might get myself a little treat, something nice to eat. I bought a multipack 12 bags of crisps for 48p and a bottle of peach flavour water for 34p, and sat on the chairs behind the checkouts watching the world go by while I ate six of the bags of crisps and swigged from the bottle. Very ladylike I think not.

I thought, this is daft, I have some money in my purse, I could buy myself something, but what do I need. I wandered in and out of the shops in a daze. Every time I scanned across the shelves I thought that's nice, but I don't need it. I looked in Bodyshop I used to like their stuff. Oh look, Body Butter half price, only £6.50, still too much for me. I thought I might get myself some outdoor gear for my walking so I went into Blacks, the outdoor clothing specialist shop. I checked out the jackets and trousers and nearly fainted with shock, how much! Then suddenly I remembered, my jog bottoms are looking a bit scruffy, going baggy round the knees, stains on them, and a few holes. I'll get some new jog bottoms.

I went in and out of all the shops again, looking for the best prices. Eventually I found some, I actually spent six pounds on two pairs from Primark. Wow, that wasn't too difficult was it, maybe I could buy a body warmer as well, my old one has the pocket almost ripped off. I had a quick look for one but by that time I was really cold and couldn't be bothered any more. Maybe spending six pounds was enough for one day.

Thursday 28 January 2010

You never know what you might see.

Lazy me didn't get up till 8.45 today. At last we have some sun, so as this walking bug seems to have taken hold I set off for a local walk, a bit more excercise for the legs can't do any harm. Even walking on familiar footpaths is enjoyable, you never know what you might see. I called at the shop on the way out and bought a bar of chocolate, to give me an energy boost of course.

I walked along the bottom of the wood to Flixborough, turned left along the edge of a field. I was pleased to see that the kissing gates at both ends had been replaced with brand spanking new ones. The last time I was here the stiles were crumbling.

I walked along the road and turned down Bagmoor Lane, I stopped to watch the wind turbines, one of them wasn't working. The door at the bottom was open and two men came out, they must be repairing it, I thought. One of the men went to the car, while the other one had a pee up the side of the turbine. I don't think that will make it go any better, ha ha. A bit further on I saw two deer in the woods. I must have startled them because they scurried away.

Then I carried on past the chicken farm, we have a lot of them round here, horrible places. Saw some gulls on a big pond next to the council tip, they all took to the air, I wondered if Jonathan was there. The breeze rippled the water.

I turned left up a track which was more like a stream, to Thealby, then along the road, turn right along the edge of a field, past the new cemetary, the playing field, and the allotments, and home. It was turning chilly by now, the sun had gone in, three hours was enough, I was ready for a late lunch.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

What is a Scrapstore

I have been at the Scrapstore today so I thought I would post some pictures in case some people don't know what a Scrapstore is. We collect stuff from businesses which would normally be thrown into a hole in the ground. We then distribute it to anyone who wants it for crafting purposes. Individuals can come and buy it very cheaply, and teachers collect it for use in their classes.

Today we had a delivery from Hull Scrapstore, they very kindly give us stuff that they have to spare. This is Tracy, she does all the collecting and delivering for Hull.

Lorraine helping to unload, she is our main volunteer, she comes in most days.

This is Bob, Loraines husband, he is helping Tracy.

The main part of the store, we also have a big workshop, office, storeroom, kitchen and toilets.
A display of some of the things that have been made using scrap.

Rolls of fabric donated by a company that makes window blinds.

Vinyl donated by a company that makes lorry curtain sides.

Plastic trays, tubs, and bottles, collected from food manufacturers

Rolls of sticky tape.

Cardboard spools with plastic ends, we can find a use for anything.

Assortment of wood, mostly medium to smaller pieces because we don't have the room to store anything larger.

Rolls of stickers and decorated plastic tapes, some sticky some are not.

Drums of fabric, leather, and foam offcuts.

We also have all kinds of fabrics from the biggest rolls to the smallest of pieces, we have paint, dress patterns, cardboard, zips, wool, absoulutely anything that can be used for something other than what it was intended for. I love rooting around in a Scrapstore, you never know what you will find.

Tuesday 26 January 2010

A mountain to climb

Remember I said I wanted to increase my fitness levels because I want to do more walking this year, and maybe tackle a long distance footpath. My thigh and upper leg muscles have become rather flabby, too much sitting in front of this computer I think. I am never going to climb a mountain in this state so I had better do something about it, get off my butt for a start.

I have joined a walking forum, which will hopefully spur me on to get out into the great outdoors. The members seem a great bunch of people, they post pictures and write reports of their walks, I can ask questions on any walk related topic and a lot of people come forward with the answers. They also organise meet ups to go walking in different parts of the country, that should be good fun. Although I enjoy walking by myself it would be nice to meet some friendly folk who have similar interests. I had to come up with a new name for myself to use on the forum, so now I am, 'fit old bird'.

So you can see how important it is for me to get some training under my belt, I have a name to live up to. If I join them for a 20 mile hike it would be so embarrassing if I collapsed in a heap before we got to the finish, I would never live it down. I would have to change my name to 'knackered old bird' :-(

Anyway, I have hit on the ideal solution to get fit, join a gym. Ok I know gym membership costs an arm and a leg, but I have found a very special gym. It costs nothing to join and nothing for a session, it's totally free. It is open 24/7 weekdays and weekends, so I can go anytime, and no limit on how long I stay there. Sounds too good to be true doesn't it? I also don't need to buy any special gear because my normal clothes will do. There is a downside to it, there are no showers and no coffee shop, but that doesn't matter because it is two minutes from where I live. I can literally walk out of my door, do my training and be back in the house again to drink my own coffee.

I'm starting off with two short sessions daily, I want to build up the muscles in my legs gradually without injuring myself. No point in going at it like a mad woman, then having to rest up because I have torn a ligament. I like to go last thing at night before bed time, it's nice and quiet and I have the place to myself. Eventually I shall extend the sessions to last longer as my fitness increases. At the moment I am huffing and puffing a bit, but that should get easier with time.

I took some photo's of my gym when I was there this morning, I bet some of you might have a gym like this.
This is the entrance, it's called Stather Hill. Turn right at the pub, past the church and follow the footpath on the right hand side.
When you go round the bend you can see the length of the hill into the distance. Walk very briskly down to the bottom.

When you reach the cottages you are at the bottom where it starts to level out. No point in going any further because the real training starts now as you turn round and head back up. Keep up the same pace on the uphill stretch

Almost back up at the top. This is where I start puffing a bit, but it's head down and march on. There is a bench on the left to sit on if you come over all faint, but so far this has not happened to me. The street lights are a bit sparse at this point, just be carefull that I don't slip off the edge of the pavement, a twisted ankle would put me out of action for a waile.

It's a great gym, isn't it? Six months of this and I will be running up those mountains. What do they call it, Bagging Munro's!

Monday 25 January 2010

Let's go flying again

I feel I ought to explore Jonathan Livingston Seagull further, as it is a story which makes you look inside yourself, and compare Jonathans ideas with your own. Looking back through my life there are many instances when I have felt empowered to follow my own instincts, and make my own decisions on which path to follow. One thought that keeps coming into my head again and again is that I don't feel the need to do what everybody else is doing. I don't have to go with the flow, and it's ok to be different.

Here is a quote from the book to illustrate :-

'For the next few days, Jonathan tried to behave like the other gulls, he really tried, screeching and fighting with the flock around the piers and fishing boats, diving on scraps of fish and bread. But he couldn't make it work, it's all so pointless he thought.'

Jonathan went off to do his own thing, he practiced his flying untill he became an expert. But this brought him big problems with the elders of the flock, they didn't understand. He tried to tell them why he wanted to fly high but they didn't want to listen, and so he was cast out.

Here is another quote :-

'Jonathan spent the rest of his days alone, but he flew way out beyond the cliffs. His one sorrow was that the other gulls refused to believe the glory of flight that awaited them, they refused to open their eyes and see. Jonathan discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gulls life is so short, and with these gone from his thoughts, he lived a long fine life indeed.'

I can understand Jonathans thinking, you must live your life for yourself, even though it means others may shut you out. You are the only person you have to live with, if you are at peace with yourself then you have a good life. Try reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull, if you haven't already, there may be some answers in there for you.

Thank you Frugal Queen for adding your comment yesterday, I understand what you are saying.

Sunday 24 January 2010

Flying with Jonathan

There was a lot of seagulls swooping and circling the back garden today, no doubt tempted by the meat and two veg scattered on next doors lawn. My neighbours are avid bird feeders, the leftovers from most of their meals play a big part in feeding the bird population round here. I don't know where these seagulls came from as we are not close to the sea. I can only think they must have been hovering somewhere near the Humber Bridge when their radar system picked up the distinct aroma of roast potatoes.

Every time I see seagulls I always look for one that is flying higher than the rest of them, because this one is special, he is called Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Someone gave me a book about him over thirty years ago, it was written by Richard Bach and was first published in 1970. It is the story of Jonathan who is bored with doing seagully things like following the boats and picking fish out of the sea. He is frustrated with the meaningless materialism and conformity and limitation of the seagull life. He has ambitions, wants to do better things, like flying higher than any other seagull.

He practices every day and stops following the boats, he is missing his meals because he is so driven by his quest for excellence. He becomes skinny through lack of food and his elders are worried for his health, but Jonathan doesn't give in untill he fulfills his goal. His flock turn their backs on him, casting him out of their society.

He finds another flock who are all high flyers, and they take him to a higher plane. Eventually Jonathan becomes a master of his craft and passes on his knowledge to younger gulls.

We are all free to soar in our own directions in life.
This is a quote from the book. 'Dont believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you'll see the way to fly.'

I read this book many times when I was in my twenties, and each time I found something I hadn't seen before. It reminds me that I can be whatever I want to be. I lent my copy of the book to someone and never got it back. Seeing the seagulls today has reminded me to get another one.

Saturday 23 January 2010

It's a dogs life

I've got my sleepover guest here again. Henry arrived just after 1pm, Helen his chauffeur dropped him off with his overnight bag. I laid his bed out in the living room and put his towel in the front porch, we use this for wiping him down after his walks, he usually comes back wet and mucky on his undercarriage.

The plastic box containing his food was placed on the kitchen worktop and the can of chunks in jelly went in the fridge. I am glad that Helen remembered to pack his favourite blue rubber ball, we spend ages playing with that. He is very good at catching it, and sits at the top of the stairs while I throw it from the bottom. Then he pushes it with his nose so it hops all the way back down to me, and the game starts again.

After the goodbyes were said Henry looked at me. I know what he is thinking, when are we going to go out. He knows the signal, I take my jacket from the coat hook near the door, and his tail starts wagging frantically. He waits patiently as I check that I have everything I need, poopascoop, plastic poo bags, biscuits, keys, phone, camera, tissues for my wet nose.

We had a long walk, two hours, and he was in and out of the muddy dykes as usual. It is not easy to get a good photo of him because he wont stand still, but I managed to get this one.
We have just had our dinner, and are off out again for a walk round the block. There will be another short walk just before bed time. Tomorrow more walking and playing, it must be great to be a dog. Woof woof from Henry.

Friday 22 January 2010

Would you like to meet my fella.

I'd like to introduce you to my fella, aha, you didn't think I had one did you? Well I was keeping him a secret, in case anyone else made a play for him, I am the jealous type you know. He has been my fella for a couple of years now, we don't actually 'walk out' together, he is a little shy you see.

We met in the High Street, I remember it well. I was busy rummaging in my bag for my purse, which inevitably is always at the bottom. I always panic when I cant find it straight away, oh my God, I'll have to cancel the cards. Saved once again, my fingers found the small purse, I really must get a bigger one then I wouldn't have these panic moments.

I walked towards the automatic doors of the shopping centre, and the most handsomest hunk caught my eye. My heart missed a beat and I blushed, was he looking at me? He was lurking in Burtons Menswear window, a shop I never usually give a second glance to. I looked away and took a few steps, I turned and looked back over my shoulder, he was still looking. I hurried on towards Woolworths and thought no more about it.

The following week I was in the town again, and wondered if the hunk would be there. I turned the corner, this time my eyes were searching the shop window. Yes, my heart was by now missing several beats when I saw that he was looking right at me. I walked on a few steps and as I walked I noticed that his eyes were following me. I hadn't the nerve to enter the shop, and went on my way.

This happened for three or four weeks, he was watching me every time I passed. Then I could stand it no longer, I had to go in the shop. There were several sales assistants tidying the clothes rails, I approached the cash desk and felt a little bit silly. A nice young lady asked if she could help. It's now or never I thought, here goes. 'You know that huge poster you have in the window of a rather dishy man wearing a green sweatshirt, I would like to take him home with me. Can I have him when you have finished with him?'

She smiled and said, 'yes, he is rather nice isn't he. You can have him in a couple of weeks when we change the window display, I will save him for you'. So here is my fella, he is in my hallway and smiles at me every time I walk by. Isn't he gorgeous?
Now now, hands off, I found him first :-)

Thursday 21 January 2010

A bit of a runaround

I was dithering a bit this morning, couldn't decide how to spend my day. Part of me wanted to take off into the hills somewhere for a hike, I'm getting withdrawal symptoms because I haven't been anywhere interesting lately, but I also wanted to buy a couple of Ordnance Survey maps. Now I can't justify getting into my car to go to town, just to go into one shop. I suppose I could have gone free on the bus, but that seemed a waste of time, just for two maps. By the time I had finished dithering there wasn't a bus at the right time anyway.

Then I thought about it, it's too late to go walking now, but if I drove to town I could call in a couple of factories and pick up some stuff for the Scrapstore. I could take that huge money plant with me that I have been promising to give to one of the volunteers. I could take the red velvet beads with me to show Lorraine. I could pay my visa card bill at the bank. I could get some dog biscuits from the market, £1 for a big bag. I could look for some black paint to finish the coffee table. I could go to the college and book myself on a couple of courses that start in March. I could pick up some cat litter from Morrisons, and I could get the maps. Sorted.

Everything went almost according to plan, except I couldn't find any paint cheap enough, so the search continues for that one. The price of cat litter has shot up, I wonder if it is because everyone was buying it to scatter on their icy paths, so I only got two bags instead of the six I normally get. I will have to look elsewher for a better price. And I didn't have time to go to college, so I will ring and book the places.

It was lucky I was in the car, because I spotted a big metal display basket at the back door of Wicks, on the grass verge where they put stuff they don't want and people can help themselves. It was a bit bent, but I thought, no matter, Bob can straighten it at the Scrapstore, it will come in handy. There was also a very nice clean pallet and a large piece of wooden chipboard, so they found their way into the back of my car as well. By the time I got to the Scrapstore, I had quite a haul for them, fabrics and vinyls and cardboard tubes, they were well pleased. And I was pleased because I had done something useful.

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Poor Tyrone

I am feeling a bit sorry for Tyrone at the moment, poor lad, his wife Molly has just packed her bags and left him. It sure breaks your heart to see him broken into pieces, tears rolling down his face, in total shock wondering where it all went wrong. How could she do that to him, such a nice hardworking lad, and after that lovely Christmas present he bought her as well. I do hope he finds someone else, someone a bit more appreciative.

Isn't life a bitch sometimes? I've had my fair share of broken hearts, been stood up on dates, and been dumped a few times. They just walk away, I mooch around and cry into my pillow. It sort of knocks you back a bit, your self esteem takes a battering and you lock yourself into your room wondering if life will ever be the same without a good looking boyfriend to show off to your mates. What a bummer it is when you get dumped.

But I have also been the one doing the dumping. You think you have found the right one, it's all sweetness and light, he picks you up to take you out, parties, dancing, holding hands, and walking along the beach under the moon light. Then all of a sudden you come to your senses, panic starts to creep in and you scarper before you get sucked in too far. I always feel it's best to be honest with people, if the earth doesn't move for you, you have to tell them, it's only fair.

That's the voice of experience talking now, well from what I can remember about it. All I have are the photographs to remind me. A little smile creeps over my face as I study the black and white images of my youth. I wonder what happened to him, now what was his name?

Age and experience is a wonderful thing, it means you don't have to bother with all that emotional stuff any more because you have got it all out of your system. Hopefully you have learnt something along the way. Your heart gets broken, it mends, you move on.

I don't know what's going to happen to poor Tyrone, he is still a young lad, perhaps his heart will be broken again sometime. You can bet your bottom dollar that Molly's affair will come to light and all hell will be let loose in the Webster household. I still say Coronation Street is the best soap ever. :-)

Tuesday 19 January 2010

My lucky day

A year has passed since I was on the tv programme, Hunt for Britains Tightest Person. Some of you may remember me chasing the bargains in Tesco, hassling the ladies with the ticket machines as they reduced the prices of the stock that was about to go out of date. You can still watch the programme on the Channel 4 website, just type in, The Hunt For Britains Tightest Person, into the search and it will take you there.

Anyway, a year later I am still hassling the ladies in Tesco. I have just got back from doing my shopping and have made some amazing savings. I had to invest two hours of my time though, from 6.30 to 8.30pm, but it was worth it. I've got some really tasty treats, and bought stuff that I would never pay full price for. I got a total of 24 items at a reduced price, this is where my adding and subtracting comes in handy, ha ha. If I had paid full price they would have been £31.06, and I paid just £8.96, saving £22.10. My total shop came to £34.27, this will last me two weeks. Some of it will go in the freezer, I also got some tinned food, and dried split peas and lentils to bulk out my stews. I got a bag of frozen tuna steaks for £3.69, there are five steaks in a bag, that will make me five meals, with some veg.

Here are a few of my best buys...
Bread - was £1 now 20p
Mini donuts - was £1.18 now 24p
Prawn cocktail - was £1.78 now 44p
Baby spinach - was £1.50 now 38p
Grapes - was £1.99 now 50p
Sprouts - was £1 now 25p
2 Plaice fillets - was £2.00 now 50p
Quiche - was £2.19 now 55p
Jam donuts - was 65p now 13p
Finest cookies - was £1.39 now 28p
Garlic bread - was £1.32 now 26p
Veg curry with rice - was £2.69 now 67p
Houmous was - £1.14 now 57p
6 Hotcross buns - was £1 now 25p

It certainly pays to shop in the evening. And as if that wasn't enough I found three coins on the ground in different places while I was out dog walking today, totalling £1.10. There's more, I also found a dozen pearl beads lying on a grass verge, someone's bracelet I think. I must add my finds to the list at the bottom. It's been my lucky day.

Monday 18 January 2010

Quids in

Well, I've done it and I feel pretty chuffed. My tax return was successfully submitted and was received by HM Revenue and Customs at 11.37 GMT on 18th January 2010. With all the bits of paper spread out on my desk, I managed to tick all the right boxes. All I've got to do now is wait for the overpayment to appear in my bank account, yipeeeee. I thought I would be due a rebate after the piddling amount of money I earnt during that year. It was only my scrimping and saving, begging and making do, that got me through it. A good lesson was learnt, from now on life is going to be just fine.

My first copy of Saga magazine came in the post this morning, a Christmas gift from Uncle Stan. Thank you Uncle Stan. Clint Eastwood is on the front cover, blimey he looks quite old. At last a magazine that doesn't have a lot of airbrushed bimbo's in it to make me feel like a frump, ha ha. Flicking through the pages there seems to be a wide variety of articles and interesting stuff to entertain and enlighten me. The letters page pays £50 for the top letter, might have a go at that, now what's topical at the moment, hmmmm ;o)

Sunday 17 January 2010

I saw a waterfall today

A bit of good news to report, remember Bigpuss, the beautiful ginger cat that was straying in the village, well we have found his owner. His name is Mr Beasley, he was kept inside for a week when his owner moved house, but he went walkabout and ended back at his previous home. Sue has looked after him since before Christmas, but now he is back in his new house, and hopefully he will stay there this time.

It was great to get out for a walk today, I put a sandwich and a drink in my backpack and off I went. I stayed local and was out for nearly five hours across fields and farm tracks. I like the solitude of walking alone, it gives me time to think, to mull over things that have happened, to look for reasons and solutions. Sometimes people can be so unfair, they make judgments without knowing the full facts, and they say hurtfull things. I mentioned a few days ago that I needed to declutter my mind, well I have done it now. I know the truth and that's all that counts. I have deleted these people, they no longer have a place in my life. Sorry if this sounds a bit cryptic, but in a nutshell, if someone treats you unfairly it's best to walk away. So now I feel a lot better.
I saw a waterfall today.

Make a necklace for less than 1p

This is my first attempt at making a necklace using the glass beads I bought for £1 from a charity shop. I have seen this idea at a craft fair, they had beads tied within a fabric tube, and a knot between each bead. I made a tube from some red velvet I had left over from a previous project. I guessed that 30inches would be about the right length, best to make it longer than you think, you can always shorten it later.

The strip of fabric needs to be slightly wider than the bead to allow for the seam. Sew it together right sides in, very close to the edge so it doesn't look bulky. Then the tricky bit, turn the sausage inside out. I attached a piece of thin string to one end with a needle, then threaded the tube onto a crochet hook from the other end, hooked onto the string, and pulled it through. You have to be careful that you don't pull too hard and break some of the machine stitches. Ease it gently inch by inch.

Next I inserted a bead and pushed it to the middle. I found that I couldn't knot the fabric as it was too bulky, so I decided to use some fine wire that I had taken out of a video player. I think you might find some of this if you take any old electronic gadget apart.
I cut 6 inch long pieces and wrapped them very tightly in between the beads. A pair of small pliers helps to pull the wire tight and twist the ends together. Keep adding to the first bead either side of it until you have the desired length. I couldn't find a fastener so I have left two ends of four inches to tie the necklace at the back, sew up the ends.

My necklace has 30 beads, and the gold coloured wire in between gives it a look of classy handmade. It wouldn't look out of place on a table at a craft fair with a £10 tag on it. Total cost, less than 1p. I'll make another one with some different fabric.

Saturday 16 January 2010

Making a coffee table

This is a post for Butterfly, or anybody else, about what you can do with cat food boxes. I made this coffee table some time ago and have been thinking of ways to finish it off.

I have used fourteen boxes, a simple test design to see if it will work. The two sides are four boxes on each side, the top is six boxes. Make the sides first. You need to get inside, pierce small holes on the outside about one inch from the edge where two boxes meet. You also need to pierce another hole through the two boxes on the inside so you can thread a piece of string right the way through, and tie the ends in a tight knot on the outside. Trim off excess string and close the box lids. Practice with two boxes first.

When you have made the sides, make the top in the same way with six boxes. Then tie the three sections together. It's like a bridge but the middle two boxes will not fall in if you tie the string tightly. You can see on the first picture that I covered the joins with parcel tape to strengthen it. I had to remove this later because the papier mache would not stick to it.

I then covered the whole thing, except the bottom, with papier mache. I started with walpaper paste and newspaper, but it wasn't sticking very well. Also the wet was distorting the flat sides of the boxes, they were bowing inwards. I tried tearing up some large sheets of white paper and stuck these on, it worked a lot better than the newspaper. Any recycled A4 sheets would do, it's a better quality paper than newsprint. Then I had to build up the dips with extra paper to try and level the surface. I used some old CV's next because they were printed on strong paper.

Now the whole thing is covered in washable wallpaper. I put a coat of varnish on the top which has stuck alright, but it is difficult to get the edges straight and tidy. It is very sturdy.

I think there is no limit as to what furniture you could make with them if you have the space to work. Think of them like lego bricks, in fact you could use lego to play around with different designs, then copy it with the boxes. If you make anything big though you would have to think about it being very inflammable, it would be very dangerous if it was placed in a position where it might catch fire.

Friday 15 January 2010

Better than landfill - make a bag

What can you do with sixteen dry cat food bags, seems such a shame to throw them away. I have been saving them because I like the bold colours. Light bulb moment.....MAKE A BAG

First I did the back and front. Sew four bags together with a flat overlap seam, zigzag stitch on the machine. Zigzag two bags together for the side, make two. Then join the four pieces together with running stitch seams on the outside, so you have a bag with no bottom. Next join two bags with zigzag seam for the bottom, trim to size and pin into place. Sew together. Fold top edge over one and a bit inches and pin. Make two handles out of two bags, you have to open bags out lengthways and cut two strips, fold lengthways, sides to middle, and stitch. Do two rows of running stitch around the top edge half an inch apart and attach handles while you are doing this.

Overall dimensions are 14.5 inches tall, 15 inches wide, 7 inches deep, it will fold flatish when empty. It seems quite strong because it is double thickness, although I would use it for lighter items such as toilet rolls and cereal boxes, rather than heavy vegetables. That way it would last a lot longer. I will try it out on my next shopping trip.