Friday, 31 March 2017

A new jacket, and a confirmation

Hello. A small lamp came home with me a few months back, found at a car boot sale for 20p. There was a box of oddments on the floor so I had a rummage through it. It now has a new look, it was cream coloured pottery, and now has a multicoloured woolly jacket. I started at the bottom with a crotchet circle, then kept going round and round, increasing the chains around the widest part, and decreasing as it got narrower towards the top. The electric flex has an on/off switch half way along it so I had to put the jacket on and work round the flex. Without a switch, I could have just taken the plug off and pushed it through before it got too narrow. 
Now it has a pretty base. I have a shade but it is very old and doesn't go with it. I can either strip the fabric off and recover it, or look for another one in a charity shop.

A letter arrived today, confirming that I don't need a TV licence. They contact me every two years and each time I say, still the same, with the addition that I do not watch BBC iplayer. Anyone who is giving up watching TV and tells the licensing people for the first time, will get more letters asking if they are watching. They don't give in easily and will pester for several months. I don't get any bother now.

Hey, it's the weekend and the sun is out. Time to get off the computer and go out. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

PS. Note to the Walking Group. Don't forget to come back tomorrow with your mileage. Thank you.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Girly catchup

Hello. I've had a lovely afternoon with my friend Helen, and Henry choc lab. We had a girly catchup, took the dog a walk, and put the world to rights, as they say, over a mug of coffee. Basically we had a natter about what we have been up to since the last time we met, in January. 
She is having a de clutter, going from room to room and getting rid of things she doesn't want. None of it will be dumped in a skip or go to landfill, she is as passionate as I am about reusing, and recycling. 
I came home with four cushions which I will give to the church, some bed linen which I can use in projects, a small bread basket which can be sold on the cat stall, and a pile of magazines which I will read, then pass on to another friend to read, then they can go on the cat stall. So, nothing wasted. I included the clock in the picture, the one I rescued from someone at the tip, it keeps perfect time. 
I did a telephone interview this morning, a young lady is writing an article about the summer house for a  magazine called Modern Gardens. It is for the June edition which comes out sometime in May.

I hope you are all keeping up with your walking. I have had a few days off, but that's ok because I am ahead with the miles. Tomorrow is the last day of the month, so one last push to boost your three month total. On Saturday's post, the 1st of April, I expect to see some good numbers. Don't let me down.

Thanks for popping in, that's all for now. We'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

A game I want to win

Hello. The talk last night was a bit strange, it was in a pub, and the group were due to eat after I had finished. They were short on numbers, only five turned up, others had sent their apologies that they couldn't attend for different reasons. Not to worry, I just got on with it. A small audience is a lot more difficult than a large one, especially as they were in such close proximity to me. Give me a hundred or so any day. It ended up like a chat, I had examples of my arts and crafts to show, and some of my newspaper cuttings. They seemed to like it. The food arrived before I had finished, so they started scoffing while I was winding it up. I didn't want any food, I had eaten before I left home. 
The end of the night was very enjoyable however. After I left I decided to go home via the big Asda store. I don't usually shop there, because it's at the other end of town. It was gone 9pm when I arrived and not many shoppers about. I soon had to change my basket for a trolley when I saw the mound of food that was being reduced to literally pennies. I well and truly struck gold. Everything on this photo was 2p per item. It reminded me of the time I went there with the Rip off Britain crew, we found a lot then, this time I get to keep everything. 
A brief rundown. Three large bags of potatoes, asparagus, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, baby salad leaves, grated carrot, rice noodles, watercress, snacking fruit, parsnips, turnips, casserole veg, diced carrots and swedes, butternut squash, courgettes, 6 bread rolls. My neighbour next door, and the one across the road, each had a bag of spuds this morning, and I shared a bag with my friend up the road.

There were a few other items which cost a bit more. Total shop was 94p. Didn't I do well!

 Who would buy 21 raspberries for £2? Bonkers.

 Who would buy 37 blackberries for £2? Crazy.

I will have them for 2p thank you very much. The banana is from my yellow sticker shop a week ago at Tesco. They might have black skins but they are fine on the inside.

The prepared veg needs cooking, so here are the main ingredients for a pan of stew. Three bags, at a cost of 6p
Here's whats in it.

And ten minutes later on the hob, no prepping, I have four portions of stew for the freezer. My ready meals. The second pan is cooling down now, another four portions. By the way, if you freeze them in margarine tubs like this, they are difficult to get out. Never microwave in the tub, I use a pyrex dish to heat them up. To loosen them, because they are like a solid brick, waft a hairdryer over the bottom and sides for a minute, then they will come out.

My lunch today was mushrooms, (needed to use them up), grated carrot, and rice noodles, on a bed of watercress. Very nice.

Someone asked me in an email, a week or so ago, (I am a bit slow at replying to emails), what would I do if I couldn't buy yellow stickers. Well, my attitude to shopping would still be the same.

Know the prices of the items I buy on a regular basis.
When anything goes up and it becomes too expensive, look for a similar product which is just as good and cheaper.
Be flexible with my eating and spending. I don't have to eat the same things week in week out.
I am prepared to eat the same meals three days running, if I find food that is very cheap and must be eaten before it goes off.
If there are any not to be missed offers I will stock up.
I will shop in lots of different places, often looking for reductions in the most unlikely of places. Poundland sometimes sell six eggs for 50p. The discount stores have chiller cabinets and sometimes reduce items.
I check shelf labels. I shop with price in mind. I don't make a list, I buy what's cheap.
I don't meal plan, because to work out what you are going to eat in advance means that you need to make sure you have the ingredients for a particular dish. I open the fridge door and eat what will go off the soonest. I make up meals, I don't have a recipe book.
I treat shopping as a challenge, to get the very best for my money at the cheapest price. It's a game I want to win. I make an effort to pop in shops on the way back, or when I am passing.
If there were no yellow stickers I would survive.

When you think about it, supermarkets will never get their stock orders exactly right. There will always be items that are overstocked and some that will run out. It's best to sell off the overstock cheaply rather than bin it. There are attempts to give any spare food to charities, which is a great idea. This in theory would work best with tins and packets, it would be very difficult to give away food that has to be eaten on that same day or the day after. It would need to be collected by the charity pretty quickly, or delivered by the supermarket. The logistics would need to be worked out. A lot of people wouldn't touch food that has gone past the date, so the difficulty there would be who would want it. I can't see the yellow stickers ending just yet.

That's all for now. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

A new picture using recycled materials

Hello and Good Morning. Another of my art projects finished. The picture is 11.5 inches by 9 inches. The colours in this first picture are close to the real colours. I took the photo before I put the glass in, to cut out any reflections. I have some old frames which I rescued from being dumped in a skip. A lick of paint works wonders to spruce them up. 
In the closeups the background is not as yellow as it should be.

And this is how it started. A piece of fabric with a simple design. I started by covering the whole thing with a yellow wash, which allowed the outline to show through. Then it was just a matter of carefully filling in the colours with a fine brush. The little pots of emulsion tester paints are great for painting pictures. I'm very pleased at how it's turned out. 
What's the plans for today? More crafting, sewing, crochet. Wash hair. Walk three miles. Get things ready for a talk I am doing tonight. Good plan eh!

Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon
Toodle pip

Monday, 27 March 2017

Do No Harm by Henry Marsh. Book review

Hello. I seem to have had a run of interesting books from the mobile library just lately. Non fiction is the smallest section there and I go through it over and over again, in case there are any little gems I might have overlooked before. I don't have any particular subject in mind when I browse, because even the most unlikely topic can be brought to life by the writing skills of the author. 
I wasn't sure I wanted to read about brain surgery but I took a chance, and I'm glad I did. Reading the blurb inside the cover told me that it wasn't going to be all sweet and sugary with happy endings, indeed it wasn't. Henry Marsh writes a gripping, brutally honest account of his thirty odd years in neurosurgery, making agonising decisions, often in the face of great urgency and uncertainty. 
Henry Marsh achieved great things, his operations have saved many lives. He has also had some harrowing disasters, which have haunted him for many years.

How the NHS works, the frustrations of staff and bed shortages, and the human dramas which unfold within the hospital, are all covered. Henry donates some of his time to hospitals in the Ukraine, he frequently travels there to train and assist Igor, a willing pupil who is dedicated to his work. These trips gave him an insight into the drab and poorly equipped hospitals Igor was up against.

Henry is indeed a true hero, a compassionate man who is dedicated to his craft. There are twentyfive chapters which can be read singly, but once into it you won't want to put it down. Be prepared for some triumphs, but also some sadness. There are no photographs so nothing to be squeamish about. A lot of it is case studies where the identities of the patients have been changed.

There are a few videos on yooootoooob, I've picked this one out, it's eleven minutes long, A Day in the Life of NHS neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. It gives a taster of the man himself, it may or may not give you an appetite for the book.

Weather not so good today, Crafty Club was good this morning, now I'm going to get on with some painting, crochet, and stitching. I have some projects which I want to finish.

Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Sunday, 26 March 2017

The best free show on earth

And a very good morning to you my lovely readers. I'm full of the joys of summer. Were you up early enough to see the beautiful sunrise this morning? Isn't it just the best free show on earth? I went to bed early and got up early. Made a coffee, and watched it rise behind the trees at the bottom of my garden. Not my trees, the silver birches are in the garden behind mine. A panoramic view from my upstairs window. 

Stunning, love the whispy reds. It's looking like another blue sky day today. Yesterday I started my walks again, the leg is better, then another afternoon in the summer house. Could be the same pattern for today. Best make the most of the nice weather.

I hope you have a lovely Sunday, with your mum, your kids and grandkids if you have any. My mum would have been 99, sadly she died 35 years ago. Love you mum.

Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Friday, 24 March 2017

Going to meet Jordon

Hello. It's been a glorious day here, I've been working in the studio, aka my award winning summer house/beach hut/posh shed. I fancied doing some painting, this is the start of another picture. Another cheat picture, take a piece of fabric and paint over it. It wouldn't be that difficult to draw a design like this, but I'm lazy. 

The leg is on the mend, feels a lot better today. Going to have a couple more days of rest, then I'll be ready to start walking again. I am well ahead with the miles anyway so I'm not too worried about getting behind.

Has anyone heard about the Coupon Kid? Jordan Cox was in the press a while back for getting a load of shopping dead cheap by using lots of coupons. He also found some great deals on travel. He tweeted the other day that he is booked to do a talk at a WI meeting near Lincoln on the 20th of  April, and it's not too far away for me to travel, so I will be going along.

Here is Jordan's Facebook page. Have a look at some of his videos, he has a great speaking voice and is very confident for a 20 year old. This lad will go far, he is ideally suited for TV and radio work.

Is anyone else within travelling distance of Reepham near Lincoln? Come along if you can.

It's the weekend. I hope you have a good one. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Savvy supermarket shopping

Hello. My leg is still giving me a bit of bother, I tried to do my three miles but gave up. The muscle is still painful. Janet has given me some cream to put on it, I'll give it a try. I have had soap in my bed for a while now, read about it somewhere. It was doing the trick, no cramps for a couple of months. I am drinking a lot more, see if that makes any difference.

Here is my latest video, finished uploading at 10pm last night. Hope you like it.

I had a look in the garage to find something to plant up the flowers. I got three trays for 20p each, 18 plants. Luckily I picked up a bag of compost last week at Aldi for £1.50.

The black metal boxes I found when someone was clearing out their garage. They have drain holes in the bottom. Not sure what they were originally used for, but they were just right for this. I put a couple of inches of stones and wood in the bottom to assist drainage then the compost on the top. The plants looked a bit wilty, but soon perked up when I watered them. Keeping my fingers crossed for a good show of purple and white flowers.

Lunch today was steamed veg. The broccoli needs eating, carrots from last week, the last of the beetroot. A dash of mayo with this.

Couldn't be bothered to cook tonight, a chuck it on the plate meal. Bean salad, mini cucumber, avocado pear, mushrooms, cheese and onion quiche, and broad bean houmous. I'm stuffed now.

Thanks very much for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Out of respect......

..........for those people who lost their lives, for the families of the dead, for those who were horrifically mowed down in London yesterday and now face life threatening and life changing injuries, my heart goes out to you. The sun shines in North Lincolnshire this morning, but there is a black cloud hanging over the whole of humanity. Very sad day indeed.

Back later. xxx

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Crafty ladies visit Hull Scrapstore

Hello. Four of us went to Hull Scrapstore today. The other three ladies hadn't been before so were curious to see what it is like. Scrapstore is a charity and relies on donations from businesses. Tracey is the van driver there and she goes round and collects anything that can be used for crafting purposes. There is lots of fabric, cardboard, paper, haberdashery, paint, plastics, wood, anything that businesses have no further use for and need to dispose of it. Here is the Facebook page for the Hull store. Other towns have them, gooooglie to check if there is one near you.
Shopping at a Scrapstore is not like shopping in an ordinary shop. You never know what you will find there. They rely on people visiting and buying materials for their craft work. Teachers pick up supplies for their classes. It's best to go with an open mind, draw inspiration from what you see. If you go looking for something specific you might not find it. Best to take a good selection and think up ideas for what you can use it for. If I find I have fabric which I haven't used and no longer need, I will take it with me and donate it back to them. Our shopping is loaded in the car, mine is the biggest bag, and the tins of paint are mine. 
A good selection of colours. Some great fabric to make sturdy shopping bags. I donated some of my bags back to them today, they can sell them in the shop.

I did a yellow sticker shop last night, and found some bargains. I also gave two shopping bags away to two very surprised people. It makes me chuckle. I have made a video showing what I bought, but I've got to load it on yooootoooob, which will take a while. Be patient, I'll post it here tomorrow. 
It's been raining a lot here today. I won't be going out walking in it. I've also got a sore left leg, it's quite painful, so I'll rest it awhile. I had a massive cramp early Monday morning in bed, jeez, didn't half make me leap about. The calf muscle twisted badly, I massaged it, but it's still not quite right.

It's time for dinner, so I'll say toodle pip until tomorrow.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

It's all relevant

Hello. I often think that there are connections between saving money, losing weight, stopping smoking, and not over indulging on alcohol, chocolate, and chips. It seems to me that as soon as you tell everyone that you are on a diet, the first thing you think of is, what can I eat. If you mention that you are on the wagon and someone asks you to go for a drink, you then have to give yourself a stern talking to. Similarly, when you start to limit your spending the first thing you think of is what can I buy that's cheap. The old habits that you want to move away from seem to always loom in the background to give you a little dig now and again, making the job a lot harder to turn over a new leaf and change your lifestyle. It is so easy to give up and go with the flow.

A new year is always a bad time to take stock and declare you are going to make changes, we all do it, make promises to ourselves, but the odds of achieving your goals and sticking to your new regime is unlikely to be at the forefront of your mind past the first three months. That's unless you've got me to nag you into keep on walking, ha ha.

For some people the idea of not spending any money is completely alien to them. The habit of popping into a shop and coming out with a lot more than what they went in for is accepted as normal. Anyone who tries to lose weight quickly by starving themselves will eventually cave in and binge on junk food. Comfort spending is similar to comfort eating. If you deprive yourself completely you will get to the point where life seems intolerable. Cutting back to the extent that is making you miserable will weaken your defenses.

So, short term fixes don't work, there will be relapses. Living a frugal and simple life needs a change of mindset. Living within your means doesn't need to be painful. Small changes are best at the start, making notes of how much things cost, keeping check of your spending by keeping a diary. Little tweaks here and there, a little trimming, build yourself up towards budgeting every penny that comes into the house and every penny that goes out.

There will be mistakes made, ooops, spent too much, learn from it, be more vigilant next time. Budgeting does not mean you have to deprive yourself, it means you need to work out what your priorities are. Cut costs on what isn't important to you, so you have money for what is important. If you are a couple sit down together, get out the bills, the bank statements, work out where you want to spend your money. It will be an uphill struggle if you are battling against a partner who is not singing from the same songsheet.

Rules about what you spend your money on. There are no rules, you make up your own. Just because the folks down the street change their car every year, doesn't mean you have to. Don't be a sheep. I don't care what other people do, jealousy is a destructive emotion.

I love the fact that having less gives me more freedom. I started seriously on my frugal journey just over ten years ago. My finances were pretty low, but I didn't care. The challenge was to survive no matter what. I cut the spending to an acceptable level, my treats were super cheap, and therefore I valued them more. Now ten years later I am in a good place. I am looking forward to the next ten years.

I'll be off to Tesco in an hour to see what I can get in the way of cheap food. Haven't been for a while, need to restock the fridge.

Good luck on your journey to a frugal and simple life. If you want it, take some time to work out how to get there. It's all down to you.

Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Monday, 20 March 2017

Making six mini quilts

Hello. It was a good turnout at Crafty Club this morning, another new member started, she had an enormous ball of knitting wool. If any more join us we will have to get another table out. 
It was raining first thing, but cleared up after lunch. The cats decided to venture outside. They don't wander very far, mostly stay within the garden. The daffs are near the back door so I pointed the camera through the window for this one. Heidi is a sweetie. 
When my friend moved house a few weeks ago she gave me some wadding, so today I cut it up into squares.

And now it is six mini quilts. These are ideal for cat beds, small dog beds, or for putting them on a chair to protect it if you have a pet who insists on lying on the furniture. Fully washable in the machine. These will be sold on our cat rescue stall at our Village Summer Fair in June.

I am let off Bailey dog walking this week, someone else is doing it. His owner will soon be able to do it herself, she is feeling a lot better now. A trip to the Scrapstore in Hull is fixed up for Wednesday, two ladies from the club want to go, so I'll take my car over the bridge.

I'm off to bed with a book. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Start with an idea.......

Hello. I've copied and pasted a comment from the previous post, thank you for your questions. 

Wow! I love your woodland pictures. I used to do old style embroidery years ago, tablecloths, tray cloth etc, but there's no need for those today. Would love to know how you're creating the woodland scenes. Are they for framed pics or being used for something else. How did you learn this? Would love to have a go and would appreciate your help. Thank you. Love your blog.

The woodland picture is a little bit different to what I normally make. I decided to use up some scraps, and chose fabric which had a browny-green colour. It is one picture, not several. I first chose the frame, and I'm making the picture to fit it. Thicker fabric works best for this, it doesn't matter that it frays, it will add to the texture. 

I am using an old cushion cover for the backing, it's a loose weave hessian type fabric. I cut the pieces into oblongs and squares, and assembled them on the fabric like a jigsaw, mixing them up. I did try using iron on webbing to stick them down but it didn't work very well, so I loosely stitched them into place. 
I decided on a tree and cut long pieces of dark brown fabric which looks like bark, and arranged them into a trunk and branches, using the machine to sew them on. Next cut some fluff from a piece of green fur fabric, and stitched this over the branches with a running stitch. 
Now I am adding lots of stitching to build up layers, to cover the joins, and to add texture and mix up the colours. 
The stitches are mainly simple running stitches, added randomly all over it. Most of it is single strand embroidery thread, with some wool, and thicker thread. I am trying to picture in my mind what the floor of a wood might look like. 
When starting to put together a design you could look for a picture in a magazine, and make a simple outline drawing on a piece of A4 paper, then find the fabric which might suit the picture you have in mind. If the picture is structured, cut templates for the pieces first, from paper, and use these to cut out the fabric. 
I have always known how to do a few basic embroidery stitches learnt at school, after that it was a case of reading books and practicing. You can go back to your old style stitches and apply them to any piece of work you like. Nobody taught me how to do textile art, I get an idea and experiment with materials. 
Here is a video on basic stitches to get you started. 
Ideas for patchwork stitching.

There are lots of tutorials on yooootooob for every kind of textile art. I would advise anyone who is wanting to have a go to watch as much as you can. I can't tell you here what to do, I can only encourage you to do some research, have a go, use your imagination, and practice practice, practice. 
Thanks for popping in. We'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Eric Clapton The Autobiography. Book review

Hello. This book has been a bit of an eye opener. I think we have all heard of the Drugs, Sex, and Rock and Roll thing which was rife in the music world of the early sixties. I was a very naive teenager then and all I did was scream at the bands when they came on the telly, not really understanding what went on behind the scenes. There was the odd news item about pop stars getting busted for drugs, but I was never sure what drugs did to people apart from making them appear to be drunk. 
Eric Clapton goes into great detail about his drug and alcohol addiction in this book. He even says himself it's amazing that he is still alive. There were long periods of time where became a recluse, not leaving his house and living on junk food, chocolate, drugs and alcohol. When he reached rock bottom he went into rehab. 
Such a shame that his whole life has been blighted with pushing the self destruct button. He is one of the best guitarists in the world, yet his personal life has been a shambles. He treated women abominably, which I was very saddened to read about.

There is a lot about the early days from when he started to take an interest in music, where he drew his influences from, lots about the bands he set up, the disagreements about the type of music they would play, and how he was drawn to go in a different direction which caused him to split and start again with another band.

This book would be an excellent read for anyone who is battling against a drug or alcohol addiction, he tells it how it was when he was at rock bottom. It's also a good read for anyone who was a teenager in the sixties, there are a lot of references to his friendships with other pop bands on the scene, the Stones and Beatles, and everyone else who was around at that time. It's common knowledge that he was in love with Patti Boyd, wife of George Harrison. I can remember seeing all this on the telly and thinking what an exciting life these pop stars lead. This book lifts the lid on the dark side of it all. Eric goes through a roller coaster of different emotions. Now at the age of 72 it appears he has finally got it together and has a family.

Thanks for popping in, enjoy your Sunday. We'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip.

Friday, 17 March 2017

All stitched up

Hello. It's been a bit colder today. After the morning Bailey dog walk I decided to stay indoors and get on with some more stitching. Here are some closeups of the Woodland picture so far. Adding a few french knot flowers, still more to do.  It's been a lovely relaxing afternoon.  

While I've been doing this I've been watching/listening to yoootooob videos, mainly Cream, documentaries about the band members as well as the music. I'm reading Eric Clapton's autobiography at the moment and it's given me an appetite to find out more about his work. 

Haven't been shopping this week, can't be bothered, don't need anything. My dinner tonight was this packet of pasta, about 43p I think, from Aldi. I added some frozen peas and a chunk of frozen spinach. It was really nice. I don't normally buy packet pasta like this, but I thought it would save time if the sauce was already in it. Easy to make in one pan. I think it's supposed to be two portions if you serve it with something else, but I scoffed the lot. 
It's the weekend. I have got nothing special planned, depends on the weather. More sewing if it's cold and windy. I want to get the picture finished.

Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip.

Just noticed. This post is number 3000