Sunday 30 November 2014

Fundraising for cats

Good morning, it's glorious here today. A blue sky, sunshine, makes one feel glad to be alive. Here are the pictures from yesterday at Barton Christmas market. The stalls and entertainments occupy two streets which are closed off to enable people to unload. We arrived just after 10am. They remain closed to traffic until 8pm when traders are allowed to drive on and empty their stalls. I was lucky and found a parking place close by just outside the exclusion zone, which meant that we could dismantle earlier. Trade finally dropped off at about 6.30pm. 
Our stall is the one on the right with the red table cloth. I have a couple of throws for this purpose. Janet is hiding somewhere, she is a bit camera shy. They provided us with a backdrop, so only my clips were needed to fasten it to the metal railings behind us. 
I took a little stroll before the crowds built up. Wow, what an eye catching stall, as you know I like a splash of bright colours.

Hasn't she been busy, all very tempting, but I resisted.

Ten out of ten for presentation. I asked her at the end of the day how she had done, she said, very well.

At the end of our row was the stage. There was entertainment on there for most of the day. There was a lot of singing and dancing, by all ages. It was lovely to see the kids enjoying themselves. I have to say though that at times it was a little too loud for me, made it difficult to chat to our customers. 
A few fairground rides and games were in attendance. More colour. I thought the entrance price was a bit too much at £2 a go, but I suppose they have lots of costs involved in getting the equipment there and paying the ground rent.

In the middle of the afternoon came the parade, they all came past our stall. I'm not keen on the idea of bringing real reindeer into such a noisy and busy environment. I would rather see them in there natural habitat strolling and grazing in woods and parkland. 
The Burmese dogs however looked like they were enjoying it. I have seen these before at various shows, they love to meet and greet people.

Then came a lot of children dressed up, accompanied by their parents.

Dancing troupes.

The view of the stage from our stall.

As darkness fell there was another parade, led by a very loud thunder of steel band drummers.

Aha, I snapped a pic of Janet when she wasn't looking.

At about 6pm everyone was waiting in anticipation of the big Christmas tree light switch on. It was sited just behind our stall in the grounds of the childrens day nursery. A big cheer went up.

I had an email last night from Janet with the total money taken. We did very well, slightly up on last year, so we are well pleased. Although I have to admit I didn't fancy standing around for that length of time, in the end it was worth all the work. It was great to join in with the happy Christmassy atmosphere, and we had lots of laughs.

This is why we do it, an email from Janet.

Some pics of Lucky in his new home a few days after he was adopted.  Isn’t he gorgeous and doesn’t he look happy!!  Sue contacted Lucky’s original owner to let her know he had been homed and sent her the photographs.  She was so pleased and sent Sue a ‘thank you’ card.  The lady had kept in touch with Sue since Lucky came into rescue as she was very upset that she had to give him up.
We need more happy endings like that.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a lovely Sunday.
Toodle pip.

Saturday 29 November 2014

How lucky

After a long and tiring day, it is pure heaven to come home to my little furry family. To microwave the rest of the chips which I couldn't manage earlier, it was a huge portion, to eat the second cheese and salad sandwich which I didn't fancy earlier, and to pour the last glass of wine from a bottle I opened on Wednesday. How lucky I am to have a nice home to come back to. And how blessed I am to have such a nice friend in Janet who was with me today as we worked together to fundraise for our cat rescue. I sit here tonight in my lovely home, happy with my life, and I count my blessings.

Be back tomorrow with some pictures. Toodle pip.

Friday 28 November 2014

Katie Piper, Things Get Better. Book review

Hello, I haven't had much time for reading but I like to have a book or two close at hand so I can sit in a comfy chair and wander through someone else's life. Autobiographies are my thing. I picked up Katie Pipers book, Things Get Better, at the library van last week. Most of you will have heard of her, in 2008 she survived a rape and an acid attack that left her face and body severely disfigured. Her moving story was shown in a Channel 4 documentary, Katie, My Beautiful Face. 
She went on to make other documentaries, one of which was about the pioneering stem cell treatment which restored her sight. Katie is now a TV presenter, public speaker, and campaigner. She started the Katie Piper Foundation to give support to other people living with burns and scars.  
I was looking forward to reading this book, thinking that there might be more to her life story than what we have seen on the television. It is hard to imagine what it must be like to go through such a life changing brutal attack. Katie had everything going for her, at 24 she was working as a model and TV presenter, she was beautiful and ambitious. In an instant that was taken away from her. Her ex boyfriend, and the man he paid  to throw acid over her, are now serving prison sentences. 
The book. I was hoping that it might have been about her life before the attack, and how she has managed to rebuild it, but it turns out that it is more of a self help book for people who find themselves going through a difficult time in their life. She talks with oodles of compassion. The biographical side of it is only a small part of the book, it tells of  how she dealt with what happened. The larger part is the self help part, and outlines lots of case studies of people who are going through difficult times. 
I have to admit I didn't read every word, (a) because my life is fine, and (b) because at times I thought I was reading a manual written by a Counselor/Psychologist. I can't deny that Katie is an amazing inspirational woman, to have gone through so much and come out the other end is unbelievable. The good advice administered in the book, in my opinion, is spot on. 
And here is a video of Katie as she was going through her treatment. The pictures are quite upsetting. 
Thanks for visiting. I have a busy day tomorrow, Toodle pip.

Thursday 27 November 2014

A bit more research.

I'm shuffling backwards and forwards between the sewing machine and the computer here. Another rainy day but plenty to keep me occupied. Our cat rescue has a stall at the Barton Christmas Market on Saturday and I've got to go through my spare room and root out all the things I've been storing. Some donated, my own things, and stuff salvaged from skips, I want it gone. We will have a fully erected market stall to occupy, but exposed to the elements, so I will be taking extra sheeting and large metal clips to give us some protection from the cold. Must get that sorted out, the clips want their springs oiling as they are a bit stiff after being used in the garden all summer. The plastic sheeting is clean and folded in the outside shed. As soon as I have finished this post I must get on with it.

What did you think of the post yesterday, interesting wasn't it? Did you click on the links? I have been doing a bit more research as I find this a fascinating topic to talk about. My business head tells me I would go for this blogging for money lark, if I was twenty years younger. Done properly it could be a nice little earner. What I mean by doing it properly is stating the facts right from the start, being honest and upfront about it, and not trying to pull the wool over readers eyes by pretending to be their best friend. In a nutshell, I don't like bullshitting.

Another link for you to click on if you so wish. It's a BBC web site post in the business section.
How to make your fortune writing about stuff you love, by Lucy Hooker.

Here is a snippet from the article.

But while demand for bloggers is growing, it doesn't mean anyone can do it.
"You are going into a world where you are a public figure, where people are going to have negative comments.
And if you want to make the big time, you have to take it seriously.
"You have to run it as a business, 100%, not as a hobby," he says.
"If you approach it as a hobby and think you are going to get somewhere, that's just not the case."

There is a link in the article which takes you to a very successful blogging business. 
This blog has been 14 years in the making, so you can see that it is not going to happen overnight. It takes dedication and tenacity, to do what they have done. It's about a family of four with an adventurous spirit which takes them all over the world. Yes there are some adverts, but they are carefully chosen to match the theme of the blog. In fact I would go so far as to say the adverts enhance the look of the blog. 
The articles are well written, lighthearted and chatty, the layout is neat and tidy, and the whole page appears on the screen with no side scrolling. 
There is a link at the top of the page, 'Partnering', in here it sets out the nuts and bolts of how the site makes money for them. There is a three page media pack to download which is an introduction to Kirsty and Stuart, outlining their experience and skills.
I would say this site is a good example of how a business can be built out of a blog. Readers are in no doubt that this is a blog business. No guesswork, clear and concise, it says it like it is. With such clarity I can choose to read it or not read it. 
Anyway, must get on. thanks for dropping in, I promise to change the subject for tomorrow, so pop back again if you like. Toodle pip.  

Wednesday 26 November 2014

How to make money out of social media

There are millions of news channels out there on the www, it's difficult to choose one or two which appeal to the curious, or should I say the nosey, like me. My dad was a news junkie, the first thing he did every morning on his way to work was to pick up a copy of his favourite paper. It was pulled out of his bag at tea breaks, lunch breaks, and the last detailed inspection came in the evening after he had settled down in front of the TV with his dinner on his lap watching Cliff Michelmore on the Tonight programme. Empty dinner plate cleared away, and he finally completed the crossword which he had been pondering over all day. There wasn't a word in that paper which he hadn't read, he certainly got his money's worth out of it. I wonder which news channel he would choose now, when every scrap of news is accessible at the touch of a few buttons. He would be in junkie heaven I guess, if he were still around.

I haven't bought a newspaper in years, I don't need to, as I have all the news I want here on this screen. My taste in channels is changing, I am leaning away from the more frivolous gossipy news, to something with a bit more substance, something which is a tad more educational, something which is more relevant to my lifestyle. I don't care what the so called celebrities are up to, and I use that term loosely. All they seem to be doing is flashing their tits and bums. Why not just go the whole hog and publish every picture totally undraped, they are only chuffin bodies after all, we all have one.

Anyway, what am I reading now? I signed up to an upmarket newspaper, it has some interesting stuff in it, food for thought. I'm not sure if that was a good move as they keep sending me email updates, I shall have to go back to it and un tick the box. The layout is quite complicated anyway, like fighting my way through a forest to get to the bits I want to read. Ho hum.

I recently dropped on the BBC news channel, never really looked before as I usually only use the BBC iplayer. There seems to be a large diverse range of topics to peruse, clear and concise, on uncluttered pages, and frequently updated. Maybe I'll stick with this one for a while.

You know when you start clicking, one page leads to another, and eventually when you have thoroughly read up on a certain topic, a clearer picture emerges. Your brain is nourished and bingo, you feel your new found knowledge puts things into perspective. Hmmm, that was interesting, given me something to think about.

I found a few items that you might be interested in, especially the bloggers amongst you. To give it a short and concise title, 'How to make money out of social media'. There are very blurred boundaries between  someone being very nice, and someone wanting to make money. Maybe I should re phrase that, nice and not wanting to make money, but hard nosed driven to make money. Have a look at these and see what you think.

Bloggers meet brands at networking event.
Look like a bunch of nice ladies, don't they? Probably are very nice, but look behind the scenes. They want to sell you something, because their blogs are their business. You could join them if you have a popular blog.

Instagram star makes a living out of selling photographs.
Man turns his hobby into a profitable business. Good at photography? Sell your photo's.

Vloggers paid for promotions. 
BBC Newsround are investigating the role of vloggers in advertising. The ASA has said it needs to be made clear when vloggers are paid to promote a product. Chyaz explains how she makes money from vlogging. Vloggers start out as bloggers, can you speak to a camera? If so you could make money with product or services endorsements.

Are you getting a taste for money making. Want to know how to take the next step? Have a read of this article in The Entrerepreneur.
21 Ways to make your boring trade blog interesting. Note the word 'trade', when you start selling on your blog you become a trader, and your blog becomes a business with a taxable income.

I've put together this little collection of useful articles, should you wish to go down this route. I won't be joining you because how will anyone ever believe a word I say if I start accepting money, and free goods and services.

An internet based business might be a good move for anyone young and ambitious with a bit of drive. Even seniors with time on their hands who want to supplement their pension would find it beneficial, if not for making loads of money, but for the experience of keeping their grey matter active. I gave up work at 60, I'd rather keep my life simple by managing on what I have already got. I don't need any more.

Thank you for popping in today. It's been a pleasure writing for you. Keeps my grey matter well oiled, ha ha.
Toodle pip.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

It's not all rubbish

Hello. Question - who is a wombler and who is a dumper? Who saves things in the hope that they will come in useful for something at a later date, or who tosses things straight into the bin because they do not care where it came from or where it will end up? How do you know what is rubbish and what has value?

Some of you may have noticed a list at the bottom of my blog of free things that I have found, or been given, or I have asked for, if you have scrolled down that far. I started this list when I started the blog. but I have stopped adding to it because it was becoming a mammoth task to itemize every piece which came into my possession. I still continue to collect free stuff, either for my own use or to pass it on. I find it incredibly amazing that people regard it OK to chuck perfectly usable items in the bin, or a skip, or in the hedgerow if they can't be bothered to dispose of it through the correct channels.

So what's on my found list? Two small conifer plants found in a rubbish bin - with a bit of TLC they are thriving. Three plastic crates found in the Takeaway bin - they are in my shed with small items stored in them. An orange plastic pumpkin bucket - given to a small child for building sandcastles on the beach. Yellow plastic ball - given to a dog to play with. Three pallets, I asked for them, they would have been chucked. And so it goes on. There is loads of free stuff out there, you just have to keep your ears and eyes open.

You all know my stance on skip diving, if I see something I want I will ask for it. I have no shame in getting in there and rescuing useful items, I don't care if anyone looks at me in disgust. I am trying to do my bit for the planet, my conscience is clear. If I can find something free then I don't have to buy it, and if I don't want it I will endeavour to give it away. And while I am on the subject of buying, I wouldn't care if most of the shops on the High Street were charity shops. All I need are the discount stores where I can get cheaper human food, household cleaners and toiletries, and pet food. All the clothes shops, shoe shops, jewelers, fancy goods and frivolous non essential items and such like, I wouldn't miss them one iota if they disappeared. No Siree. I won't be going to the new out of town Marks and Sparks which has just opened opposite Tesco, they haven't got anything I need. I know that without even looking. The new Debenhams next door won't see me crossing their threshold either.

You might have seen pictures in the media of people in third world countries sorting through mountains of rubbish, separating plastics and metals etc, that is how they make their living. I can see that in the future this kind of recycling will be taking place here, where every single piece of rubbish will be sorted, graded and used as raw materials to make something new. Bring it on I say, we cannot carry on taking from this earth, there will come a point where we have stripped the land bare of all it has to offer, only then will people wake up to re using and re cycling on a massive scale. They will have to because there will be nothing new left to buy.

Have a look at this article which appeared in The Big Issue, about turning rubbish into art at the Science Museum. Then read more about the exhibition on the Science Museum web site, and watch the video. It looked very interesting, sadly it has finished now.

So, I offer you this challenge. Ok, so you can afford to buy new, but if you have a hankering to go to the shops for something other than food or personal essentials, think before you make that trip. Put it off for 24 hours and think about a plan B. Can you get it second hand? Will you find it at a car boot sale or a charity shop. Have a look on the free web sites, Freecycle and Freegle, is someone giving one away? Look in the small ads in the shop windows or local newspapers. Any jumble sales in your area? Mention it to your friends, have they got one they want to pass on?

When you are getting your presents together for Christmas look for toys in charity shops and car boot sales. Think small gifts, set a limit, can you make something? When you are getting your garden ready for veg growing don't go to the garden centre and splash out on tools, wood for the raised beds, etc, you can buy spades, forks, rakes, at a car boot sale, and get wood out of skips and back doors of DIY stores. Always ask before taking. When you want to do a bit of sewing, don't go to a shop and buy fabric, cotton etc, go to a charity shop and look along the garment rails for the colours you need. Re cycle unwanted clothes, make them into something new. Look in your own wardrobe, is there anything in there that you don't wear any more. Get a buzz out of your efforts, be proud that you made something with your own hands, whether it be a complicated piece of embroidery, or running up a shopping bag on a machine.

Here is something I knocked up before breakfast this morning, using materials that people have given me. Six small pieces of pink felt, 3.5 cm square. Decorate each one with gold and purple sequins.

Sew them all together with a running stitch, making a box with a lid. I used one strand of purple embroidery silk for the sequins and two strands to sew it together. You can use any colours you like.

Before you sew the last seam stuff it with scraps of any soft fabric you have, and attach a matching ribbon in the last corner with a few stitches. There you have a dinky Christmas tree decoration. I am going to make some more with different colours, I tried this one to see if it would work, and it does. You could make them bigger if you have a big tree, or smaller for a table decoration. You could make pyramids. You could sew beads, ribbon, or lace on them, any embelishment you like.

Have fun. I have things to do before sewing class tonight. Catch up with you tomorrow. Toodle pip.

Monday 24 November 2014

Mondays mutterings

Hello, my second visit of the day, did you like the doggy story, I've a pile of wet tissues here. 
On my way  to the chat and craft this morning I passed numerous plastic boxes full of  tins and glass awaiting the recycling collections, all left on the kerbside. I'm such a nosey sod I peer in to see what people have been eating and drinking. There was one box full of coca cola cans, full to overflowing . Either 25 people have two cans each, or one person has a serious addiction. Many of the sturdy plastic boxes look in a disgusting state, with sticky gunge splattered all over them because people can't be bothered to swill their empty containers out before they toss them in. Yuk, revolting. I pride myself in my clean box as I put it out on the front. Jars and tins are washed and separated to make the job easier for the operatives who travel in the back of the truck and have to sort them into the correct bins while the vehicle is moving. They must stink to high heaven when they get home from a shift, splashed by the gubbins which inevitably finds it's way onto their clothes. Well done to our bin men, they do a grand job.
Passing through the churchyard on my way to the village hall I came across an enormous dog turd next to the footpath. Yes even in our lovely village we have morons who think it's ok to watch their dog crap where ever it wants to, then walk away and leave it. I wanted to draw attention to this pile of poo so I picked up a few sticks that had blown down off the trees, and stuck them in the ground in a circle around it. I don't suppose it will make a blind bit of difference to the person who left it there, if they happen to be passing that point and see it, but it makes me feel better. I think I'm going to make some little flags and mark out all the piles of poop I see, and hope that those responsible will think again. Probably wont, I don't think there is much chance of that happening, unless pigs learn how to fly. 
After the crafty club I walked round to the mobile library which is parked next to the medical centre. Stan the man was on today. With all the council cut backs we are down to one van and one man, which is usually Stan unless he has a day off or is on holiday. At least they haven't cut down on our visits, we still get the van twice a day every Monday. 
Stan is a friendly sort, in fact he is a very nice man and if he wasn't already snapped up I might be interested. We always have a natter and a laugh. He talks to me while I am choosing my books. The non fiction section is not very big so I go along the rows reading titles out to him, and he tells me if it is new or not. There are always lots of cookery books, so we had a discussion about food. He said he doesn't eat out very much because of the small portions you get, he likes his plate full. I tend to agree with that. We have a very posh award winning restaurant not too far away and the portion sizes are minuscule. You've probably seen something similar, stack up a few bits of food in the centre like a balancing game, and leave a trail of drizzled red blood sauce swirling around the rest of the plate. I reckon that if the food is of the high calorie stodgy fattening type then that's all you should be eating anyway, but if it is the go straight through you in half an hour  vegetarian type, than you can eat as much of that as you like. Pile it high, that's what I say. Stan seems to be eating the right food anyway, he looks quite fit. 
Right, onto the pics. Four more small bowls I've made, for the crafty stall at our Christmas Fair. They are  covered in shimmery organza.  
 If anyone is making these, it is easier to get neat corners if you use felt for the backing.

This is a bigger one. The backing is a piece of red cotton sheet which needs a double hem.  
Going round and round in ever decreasing squares sometimes make the fabric pucker a little, it's important to try and keep it flat while sewing.

Hey, look at me, I've got an early Christmas prezzie. New fingerless gloves hand knitted by lovely reader Shabana. Thank you so much, they are perfect. I am mighty chuffed.
That's enough of my ramblings for one day. I am seeing some comments from new readers, or maybe you have been reading for a while but haven't commented very often. I try and remember names. Thank you to those who told me the name of the exotic fruit, I knew you would know the answer. Tonights dinner was the rest (5) of those chick pea patties, with steamed potatoes, brussels sprouts, and parsnips.
Toodle pip

Tissues required

Hiya peeps.
Get out the tissues, if this doesn't make you weep (in a good way), then you have a heart of stone.

 Soppy dog story.

Give your dog an extra cuddle from me. I'll be back later. xxxxx

Sunday 23 November 2014

Fruit and nut case

Good evening. Another wet day, but not to worry, plenty to do indoors. I must say, it's a pleasure spending time in my living room now with it's much improved layout. I can shuffle backwards and forwards from sewing machine to computer on my wheelie chair. It's got a feeling of much more space, I am not cramped up on one table. More sewing today, no pics of that because there is nothing finished yet. 
Let's talk about healthy food. I bought a lot of fruit on yellow stickers and the easiest and quickest way to eat it is to make smoothies. Yesterday was banana, melon, and grapes, with added yogurt, also yellow sticker at 39p.
Today was mango, apple, and nectarine, plus added yogurt again. There was also a little pot of red berry juice in the pack. 
It was gorgeous. Now what do you do when it sticks to the blender? Lick it off of course.

Someone asked about the exotic fruit. £1 per pack of three, yellow sticker price, 10p. Here it is, the first one is cut open. It's the size of a satsuma with a smooth orange skin.

No idea how to eat it, so I scooped it out with a teaspoon. No pips in it. Tasted very sweet and not particularly fruity. There is nothing to say on the packet what it is.

I ran out of my favourite peanut butter a few weeks ago and can't bring myself to pay the silly prices for an upgrade. My idea is to make some in the food processor. Here we go, one bag of KP nuts, 360 grm, bought from the cash and carry for £1. Nothing else added.
After a couple of minutes it looks the right texture.

I transferred it into a margarine tub and put it in the fridge. Taste wise it would have been a whole lot better if I had washed the salt off first. Oooops, I forgot. Never mind, it will get eaten, and now I know it works I will be making more, with plain unsalted peanuts, or washed salted ones.

Tonights dinner was experimental. As I had messed up the mixer I thought I might as well use it again. A few peanuts are fine in this made up recipe. A can of chick peas, drained and rinsed. One medium size onion, a few radishes and a few button mushrooms, the last limp spring onions, and some chopped walnuts. I added pepper, garlic powder, and turmeric. Chop and mix it up, leaving it a bit coarse. Then add two eggs to bind it. It seemed a bit too wet so I added two spoons of porridge oats. 
Make some scone size patties with it and grill on a low gas for 20 minutes turning them over once.

I had seven for dinner with wholegrain mustard, iceberg lettuce and lentil sprout mix. It was smashing, very filling, and best of all, I know exactly what went in them. Enough mix left for tomorrow. I have noticed that vegetarian food in the freezer and chiller cabinet has gone up in price, so I will be buying less of it and making my own more often.

That's all for tonight folks. Thank you for popping in.
Toodle pip

Saturday 22 November 2014

Re organizing my space

Hello. It's been a damp and dreary day here in North Lincolnshire, best place is indoors. I woke up with a few ideas of what to do today, could do some sewing, could do some cooking, or I could move my big computer down into the living room. Now it is running perfectly it's a shame to leave it upstairs while squinting downstairs at the little netbook. 
So what's to be done. I have a large front to back living room with a table at each end. This corner next to the table at the front is wasted space at the moment. An ancient treadle sewing machine which I never use, (ought to really), and a writing bureau which has some crafting stuff stored in it which I don't use very often. On the top of the sewing machine are storage boxes full of more crafting stuff which I often dive into, so I want to keep them close at hand. The space could be better utilized. 
I do my sewing here at this table, so the machine can stay here.

That's better. The telephone socket comes into the house here, so that's handy for the router. Those wires dangling down are for the tv aerial and the satellite dish, neither of which I use, so I'm thinking about chopping them off.

This office desk will fit in the space perfectly, all I have to do is get it downstairs. It weighs a ton, I bought it second hand years ago from an office furniture warehouse for £30. A bargain and it's ever so sturdy.

I think I'm going to need these.
That's the wood removed, next dismantle the frame.

Bit by bit it all gets moved downstairs, and cleaned. Now how does it fit together. I should have marked what goes where.

 YAY, dunnit. Everything plugged in and switched on, and it works.

Now I've got to get the writing bureau upstairs. The treadle sewing machine is too heavy to move very far so that will have to stay in here, I'll find a space for that. There is room under the desk for the plastic storage boxes, and then I've got to move the second desk in the office to underneath the window so the cats can jump up into the window sill. I think I'll get my dinner before I carry on.

I must say it's nice getting back on this big computer again, the screen feels gigantic after that little one. I much prefer a real full size keyboard as well. Yes I think this arrangement will suite me better. I used to spend a lot of time in the small office, now I prefer to be all on one level. Shall I move my bed downstairs next, ha ha. The next move might be to a bungalow.

Enjoy your Sunday. Toodle pip