Friday, 22 February 2019

Playing with my new toy

I've had a little play with the new machine. I like the way I can set the speed with the slidey thing on the front. The bobbin goes in from the top and has a little window so I can see when the cotton is about to run out. I can use the foot pedal or press a button to stop and go. I need to study the instruction book. 
The cover I made for the last one fits it. It's got a hard cover for transportation. 

What did I make to test the machine? Yes, a shopping bag, something nice and easy.

Tonight I went to the sewing shop for a two hour workshop on embroidery. I learnt three new stitches, it was fun. Off to bed now, I will take the instruction book with me, it will surely send me off to sleep.  ilona

Thursday, 21 February 2019

My early birthday present.

Mission accomplished. I've been to Lincoln and bought a sewing machine from Couling Sewing Machines, situated in the High Street, there is parking outside the door. A nice young lady served me, she was very helpful, and demonstrated my chosen model. It's a smallish shop but they have a large selection of most makes of machines in stock. They also have a Facebook page

And this is the young lady who served me today.

I got a bit lost coming out of Lincoln. I was going to go back on the same road that I came in on, because there's a Tesco and I thought I might as well get some food shopping done. Never mind, I hit the ring road at a different junction and missed Tesco, so I carried on back to Scunthorpe. I pass my usual store anyway so I might as well pop in there.

It was 4.30pm, too early for the final markdown of the yellow stickers so I didn't expect much, I had a look in the veg department to see what there was. I was amazed, there were tons of food, they must have over stocked by such a lot, and although it only had two stickers on, not three, they had knocked 90% off.
I was in heaven. Plenty for everyone. This pile cost £5.04p, and even then, I got a further reduction of 38p, because there was a, buy 3 and pay for 2, offer. 

Prepared fruit, mushrooms, salad leaves, mixed veg, vegetable bake, baby potatoes, baby sweetcorn, broccoli, diced onion, spinach, Italian pasta salad, fine green beans, salad bowl. This will keep me going, some will be frozen, some will be given away. I hit the jackpot.  ilona

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Charity shop reject.

This lovely little chest of drawers came from Aunties house. It had marks on the top where hot cups had been placed on it. It's solid wood, no chips or scratches. 
I put it in my car along with some other items, including another small chest of drawers but not as good quality. I pulled up at the front of the Sue Ryder charity shop and the man came out to help me unload. The first thing he said was, 'I don't want those drawers, they are damaged', referring to the heat rings on the top. I said, it only wants a coat of paint, but no, he wouldn't take it. He took the cheaper ones, and some other things.

I took this to my friend, she said she would have a go at restoring it. I went back the next day and bingo, it looks lovely now. She said it only took ten minutes of sanding and polishing. She is dead chuffed with it.

So there you are, a charity shop reject. They missed out on a lovely set of drawers.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019


Oh dear, there is a big space on my table where my sewing machine was. It's gone, I sold it. I've spent the afternoon showing Helen how to use it. She wants to take up sewing and my Danome is the ideal starter machine. There is a shop where I can try out lots of machines, it has been recommended to me, I shall be going there to choose one. I asked the ladies at the sewing workshop for their opinions on different makes and models, so I have a good idea of what I am looking for. I feel lost without a sewing machine, I need to get one pretty soon. ilona

Monday, 18 February 2019

Make 'em laugh.

A good time was had by all tonight, at the WI in Brigg. Quite a large group, about 50 ish, in a beautiful room. I did my stint and made them laugh. Coffee and cake after. 
Home for 10.15pm, a mug of hot choccy, cuddle with the kitties, now to bed.  ilona

Sunday, 17 February 2019

A fun sewing day.

I've had a smashing day at Jaylaurs Sewing Workshop in Brigg, my friend Lynn came with me. We did a patchwork machine embroidery art quilt. It was a lot of fun. Although mine looks fine on the pictures, close up there are dozens of mistakes. I didn't like the Singer sewing machine very much, next time I will take my own. 
Wobbly lines of stitching everywhere.

I put a lot more stitching on the flowers to cover up for the fact that I struggled to follow the pencil markings.

The squares in the background are sewn on with zigzag stitch.

I didn't have time to put the binding on mine, so I will finish that off at home.

There were five choices of flowers. Originally I picked the most difficult, so I went for the sunflowers instead. Lynn made a fantastic job of the daisies, this was her first time of trying this.

An enjoyable day, great company, we had a laugh, and I learnt something.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Stepping back from MSE Forum

For over ten years I have been commenting on the Money Saving Expert forum, sharing what money saving knowledge I have in the hope that it might be helpful to those who are not so savvy. It's a very big forum with lots of subjects, and very busy. A bit of everything for everyone to join in with.

I visit the forum almost every day, and it has taught me a lot about life in general, about money, housing, holidays, relationships, health, debt busting, and there are places to go for a bit of chat.

I am logged in permanently on my two computers, so I never have to remember passwords, except once a year when I get a page asking me to log in just the once. I usually manage this after searching my notebooks for the magic code. This time however, it happened a few days ago, no matter what combination I entered in the boxes, it would not let me in.

I clicked on 'Forgotten password?' to get it sent by email. It arrived, I tried that, with the three email addresses, still no joy. So now I am losing the will to live. Do I really want to spend hours reading about other people's woes, participating in idle chatter, and shaking my head in amazement when someone admits to being totally out of control with their finances.

I have tried to put people on the straight and narrow, taking control of their money instead of letting their money control them, and advising of the next steps to take. It's like pissing in the sea.

Credit is the way everyone is going, but I am of the old school, saving up until I can afford something. I am out of touch with reality, so I have been told. It's all electronic now, and I still pay cash for a lot of things.

I have come to the conclusion that I need to step away from the forum for a while. The sun is shining and I should be outside. I won't bother to reset my log in details and password until the end of the summer. They can manage without me, I have my own life to live.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

A Valentine for all my readers.

I have just finished this small picture. it's 8 inches square. Some of you might remember that I made the heart a while ago out of melted plastic. I stitched it onto a piece of orange fabric which I got at the Scrapstore. 
A friend gave me a plastic child's toy, like a construction kit. I cut the pieces into small crumbs, put them between two sheets of baking paper and ironed them till they fused together. Then cut out the heart shape.

I have some bits left over which will get used on another project.

I used matching cotton to stitch the heart onto the fabric. I pulled it tight over the canvas, bought for 50p from Poundland, pinning it down at the back, then laced it tight with some cord, tucking the corners in and securing with orange cotton.

I gave the heart two coats of clear nail varnish, and around the edge I couched on two rows of black wool to give it a more defined outline.

On the back I hid all the mess with a piece of orange felt and neatly stitched it on, then added the two rings.

I was going to use the heart as the centre piece for a bigger artwork, but decided that it would look nice by itself. It looks proper cute, I love it.

Re using plastic when it was no longer wanted.   ilona

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Estas Tonne, musical genius will blow you away

Friends visited today and I showed them the boogie woogie videos that I like on yooootoooob. Then Bob took the mouse and said take a look at this guitarist, watch how fast his fingers move.

Wow, this man is the cream of guitar playing. So much passion, he goes into a trance as the music ripples through his body and out through his fingers. Best sound is through your headphones. Watch how he becomes his guitar.

When you have listened to this, take a look at his other videos, they aren't all as fast and furious as this one. Some of them you can sit back and close your eyes, and the music will transfer you to another place. It's wonderful meditation music.

And for good measure, two for the price of one, I've just found this one.

Who needs a tele when you have entertainment like this.

Monday, 11 February 2019

It's the little things......

..........that make me happy. My friend has a long handled brush and pan, she was using it last time I was there. That's handy, I thought, no bending to clear up a few crumbs in the kitchen, I must get one of those. I looked in Poundstretcher last week, they were £2.99. Too much I thought, I'll look elsewhere, must be able to get one cheaper than that. 
What did we find in the garage when we were clearing it yesterday, a long handled brush and pan. I was chuffed to little mintballs. Just goes to show, if you wait for something, it will turn up. 
While checking a laptop case today I found a pair of headphones, brand new, not been used. Oooh, I wonder if they will work in my little netbook. The volume is terrible, I have tried all kinds of headphones, nothing has worked.

I plugged them in and went onto yoootoooob, MAGIC, they work, now the sound goes straight into my ears.

Two small items that I needed, lucky me. Tomorrow I will go to town and take some things to two charity shops. The garden tools will be put out on the front with a notice, 'free to take'. My friend had a chair tonight, it matches one she already has, and she wanted a small hammer. There is a step ladder which is taller than the one I have, I'll keep that as it will make hedge cutting easier. I gave a bundle of artist brushes to a friend, she is taking up painting. I have a small easel for her and some paper which I will drop off tomorrow. I have plans for the rest of the rescued stuff.   ilona

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Trying to save the planet

I've had a very busy weekend. Auntie has sold her house and it had to be emptied, a skip was ordered and I have been there to rescue anything which can be passed on. I now have two car loads of stuff in my house which needs sorting out and taking to charity shops, and given to people who want it. There's all kinds of stuff, too much to list here. I will find a good home for everything.

On the way back today I timed it right that I got to Tesco at 3.15pm, so I was able to get some yellow stickers. Whoooopeeee, lots of sprouts.

Salad leaves.

Posh roasted potato salad.

A large loaf, I will divide it up and put it in the freezer.


Saturday, 9 February 2019

Rejected, but not down

Email in my in box this morning. Applications were invited from interested people to become a TEDx speaker. Worth a go I thought, after all I have been a speaker for many years, have no fear of standing up in front of a couple of hundred people, fine with a camera pointing at me, let's give it a whirl. So I applied.

I didn't expect to get selected, would have been a buzz if I had, but I'm not going to lose any sleep about being turned down. After all, if you don't try you never know if you can do something. Like the summer house thing, sometimes you win, but you have to be prepared to lose. I am not a competitive person, I don't dwell on winning at everything I do, it's the taking part which is important. Life is a series of experiences, I live for the moment, and move on.

My rejection email.

Thank you so much for applying to our Ideas Search 2019.  We had a wonderful response of very high quality applications and it has been a privilege to review so many great ideas.
All of the applications are considered in relation to the themes for each event, and on reflection, unfortunately we felt your proposal wasn’t the right fit on this occasion.  I genuinely hope you don’t feel discouraged by this decision, and that you will continue to explore opportunities to share your idea with the world and inspire others. 
I wish you all the best for the future, and thank you very much for taking the time to consider collaborating with us and making your application.  I hope you’ll continue to follow our newsletter and social media for updates on other opportunities to contribute to TEDxLondon, and future Ideas Searches. 
Best wishes,                                                                          
Ashleigh Brown
Speaker Scouting and Applications Manager

I have two talks to do this month to small groups, but I shall give them as much gusto as speaking to two hundred. They get my full attention, they get my passion about the subject, and they go away smiling. That's all I need. ilona xxx

Friday, 8 February 2019

One pan one meal

I try and reduce my time in the kitchen by making a meal in one pan. Chuck it all in together, no faffing with several pans on the go, indeed there are rings on my gas hob that have never been used. One small ring at the front is the one I use for everything. 
Last night I steamed some vegetables, I did extra so there were some left for today's lunch. I cut up two large mushrooms and cooked them in a drop of oil, added the left over steamed veg, a good handful of spinach, and finished off breaking an egg into it. One pan. Served with some precooked beetroot from Aldi. 
I'm trying to cut down on my cheese consumption, I'm sure it can't be good for me to always nibble some as soon as I open the fridge door. I think it's making me feel sluggish, so I am not buying any at all during February. I may carry it on after that. Up to now I am not craving for it, as I have told myself, I no longer buy cheese. Now I will explore other foodstuffs which can take it's place. I don't like veggie cheese, and that quark stuff is horrible, so it will be something different. I'll let you know how I get on with it. ilona

Thursday, 7 February 2019

All arty and crafty

Oh dear, oh dear, I seem to be missing some posts. Not my fault, I have found a Facebook group, Textile Art Collective, and have been spending time on there. With over 21,000 members world wide, it can get quite busy. Lots of pictures to peruse, lots of inspiration for possible future projects, and lots of friendly banter. It's a closed group so if anyone is interested just click the button to join. Read the rules, there are rules, and write a few words about yourself. No selling allowed.

I kept these photo's back from the Cromford walkabout, saving them until I had a gap. I love the way the green mossy type stuff is appearing from underneath the rotting brown leaves, and climbing up the trees and twigs. Isn't it beautiful.

We went to the Scrapstore yesterday, me and two friends. As well as delivering the scrap I had for them, we found a few things to buy. Afterwards we went to the Tileworks Artisan Village on the south side of the Humber Bridge. There is a lady there called Material Gail who has a sewing shop and does workshops. She makes beautiful stuff.

Lunch time now, I need to get off this computer.  ilona

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

What!!! Only 50p.

I was out early today, needed to get to the dentist at 8.30am, an emergency appointment, I broke a back tooth on Saturday. The car was frosted up, I'm not used to this, scraping ice off the windows lark. I usually wait until the sun comes round and it melts naturally. Traffic was busy, got caught up with those going to work, just made it in time. 
The lovely Jim was ready for action, a repair should do it, but if that doesn't hold a crown might be needed later on. I shall do all I can to be gentle with this new filling, hopefully it will last a few years. Cost, £21. 
While I was there I went to the sewing shop and booked myself on three workshops. Patchwork similar to what I did before only a different design. Free motion machine embroidery, I missed the last one, and creative hand embroidery. Looking forward to those. 
While I was out and about I thought I would look for some bargains. Found these crackers in the bargain box at the Cash and Carry, 20p each.
Two cartons of Almond milk from Poundstretcher, 25p each.

Reduced salad in Morrisons. I thought surely the yellow sticker is a mistake, only 5p. It definitely  was only 5p, so a good bargain. I looked at lots of items while I was in the store, to compare prices, and found that the things I normally buy are a bit more expensive there. I don't go very often because it's the other side of town, even if it was nearer I doubt I would do much shopping there.

This has got to be the best money saver. Browsing Poundstretcher I came across this organic coconut sugar, it looks identical to what I bought the other day at Aldi, different label. There was no price ticket on the shelf so I asked an assistant. She came back and said 50p. I was amazed, what, only 50p! Yep, it went through the till at 50p. I bought six, maybe I should have got more. There is another store in the town so maybe I will see if they have it in.

On the way home I picked up some scrap vinyl and some wood from the two places I visit on the industrial estate. I'll deliver this to the Scrapstore tomorrow.   ilona

Monday, 4 February 2019

Wise words from Rafi and Klee

I've had this post in my draft folder for a month, it's about time I published it. I follow Rafi on yooootoooob, because he is entertaining and talks a lot of sense about all kinds of subjects, not just about art.

This is his New Year message for all his followers. He says, use your power for good. Don't do the things that you don't want to do. He only takes the commissions that he wants to do, and turns down the jobs that he doesn't want to do.

His messages can apply to lots of different scenarios, you don't need to be an artist to get what he is saying. Think about how last year went for you, and how can you make 2019 better.

Klee keeps chipping in from the corner of the studio, she is making jewelry, I can't always hear what she is saying, but they are a fun couple and work well together. Have a listen, you may be inspired by his down to earth common sense words.


Sunday, 3 February 2019

The secret of budgeting.

I have a mug of coffee every morning, sometimes I have a second mug around about lunchtime. I have got my sugar down from two spoons to one, but I just cannot get it any lower. Coffee is too bitter for me without any sugar. 
I read a book recently which said there are lots of different kinds of sugar, more natural ones which are better than the refined white sugar which is said to be deadly. I spotted this in Aldi and thought I would give it a try. It's made from the nectar of the coconut flower, it's unrefined and dehydrated. Ingredients ; organic coconut sugar. A 100% natural alternative to sugar. Worth a try I thought, but it's not cheap, £1.69 for 50 x 5g teaspoon servings. 
I put some in my coffee and it tastes just fine, I couldn't tell the difference. 

This is how you save £150.50, by not buying a TV licence. They send me a letter every two years asking me to confirm if my circumstances are still the same, or if there are any changes which mean I need to get a licence. I tell them I still don't watch live TV, still don't watch BBC iplayer, on any device. Don't watch programmes at all on a TV set, because I don't have one.

So, my new healthier sugar might cost more money than the conventional white stuff, but by not buying a TV licence, I can buy 89 bags of coconut sugar for the same price. A good deal I think. Swings and roundabouts, balance one off against the other. That is the secret of budgeting.  ilona

Saturday, 2 February 2019

The king of the castle

Today, Oscar is the star of the show. Here is a little video I made of him yesterday. He certainly knows where his home is now. Comfy bed, regular servings of food, choice of menu, doors opening and closing for him so he can come and go as he pleases. He is in pussycat heaven.

Thanks to all those who checked in yesterday with their mileage. If you haven't yet done so, you can go back to that page at any time. Next check in date 1st of March.   ilona

Friday, 1 February 2019

Walking Group check in. How did you do in January.

Well that month soon went didn't it. Only another eleven more to go of the Walk 1000 Miles in One Year Challenge. So how did it go for you? With extremes of weather happening all over the world, and this being an International Walking Group, there will be some people who are going to be struggling to get out. Parts of the UK have snow, but we are ok at the moment here in the east of the country. We may get some eventually.

Lets have a look at who is taking part in the challenge this year.

Samantha - Sheffield.....Kath K.....Ruth K.....Mrs Off-Grid Feral.....Hazel c UK.....Cherie K.....Slave to a sighthound.....Fiona.....Linda - London.....Anne.....Beachcomber.....Hazel Dxb.....Judith - Switzerland.....Ray Nicholson.....Jeanneke.....Wendy Elisa.....Simone.....Julia.....James Jepson.....Odette.....Hilogene Oltman.....Vickiey.....Alison Central Scotland.....Sue P.....Kay Schmitz.....Hilde.....Jeanette.....Sandi.....Jenette.....Linda Martin.....Jayne.....Kate on the Coast.....Mary Rothfus.....Christina B.....Pam Davis.....Jenny P.....Mut657.....Jacquie.....Nicki.....Jennifer Christie.....Joy - Central Vic Australia.....Connie S.....AT.....Heather.....Alicesav.....Alison - Victoria BC Canada.....Rentintin.....Melanie.....Jo.....Welsh Walker.....Susie W.....Renee.....Bunty Moore.....Patricia in Canada.....Gillian.....Eilidh.....Jana.....Gillie.....Lisa NSW.....Deepti - Auckland.....Sonja North Carolina.....Shelly Williams.....Apartment Cat Katie

What are the rules? There are no hard and fast rules. You are responsible for measuring you own mileage and you can do that whichever is the best way for you. There are electronic gadgets, fitbits, pedometers, GPS on your phone. I measure mine by using a web site I have a 2 and a 3 mile route around my village which I walk most days. When I go further afield I take an OS map and mark where I have walked as I am doing it, then check the distance when I get home. If you use this site, you want to toggle the map sizes so the OS map is larger on the right hand side of the screen.

It's up to you whether you record every step you take, or if you only record the distance when you go out for a walk. For instance, I don't record my shopping trips, but when I put boots or trainers on and go for a walk, I count that in. You can do what suits you best. It isn't a competition, isn't a race, you are doing this for the benefit of your good health. The idea is that you do some exercise.

You might not make the 1000 miles, perhaps set your own target a bit lower. I'm impressed by those readers who have been doing this for a while, some are doing more than me. Well done, keep it up. This isn't a short term fix for a few months, something to try then stop when you get fed up. That will not bring you many benefits, and when you stop you will undo all the good work that you have put into it. It's a lifestyle choice, a commitment to do the absolute best that you can for yourself.

63 names on the list, myself makes 64, a fantastic number. So I'll start the ball rolling and declare that I am on 84 miles. Don't forget that February is a shorter month so a bit more effort is needed to stay on target. Good luck everyone and thank you for taking part.  ilona

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Saved from the slaughterhouse.

When I am out walking I love to talk to the farm animals that I come across, love to see them in their fields and enclosures, and try not to think of them being herded into trucks and taken to the slaughterhouse. I know that's the nature of farming, they are reared for meat, but it makes me very sad that they have short lives.

I saw this article. A Devon Farmer was supposed to take 20 of his lambs to the slaughterhouse, he has been doing it for years, but this time was different, he was so upset that he couldn't do it. Instead he drove them 200 miles to an animal sanctuary where they will live out the rest of their lives. It has cost him £9,000 in lost revenue, he has become vegetarian, and is changing his farm over to growing plant based food. Read the story here on the Vegan Food and Living web site.

I googlied the name of the charity, Goodheart Animal Sanctuary, and found their web site. They also have a Facebook page. They offer care for life to rescued farm animals. And they also have a Twitter page. 

A short video on their new barn and woodland to house the pigs.

I have added them to the list of charities I support, and sent a donation. It can be done online, but I donate with a cheque in the post. If you don't eat animals, or even if you do, you might like to send something to help. Thank you.  ilona

Monday, 28 January 2019

Soap gets in your eyes.

Now here's a thing, Meanqueen doesn't use the toiletries in the hotel, and doesn't take them home either. Why? I've paid for them. 
If I use them, I wouldn't use the whole bar of soap, or the whole bottle of shampoo or shower gel, so what would happen to what's left? Would the cleaners be able to keep, them as a bonus? Would they get thrown away? Would the plastic bottles be recycled or would they get binned? Or maybe it is expected that the guest gets to keep them and take them home whether used or not? Are the staff expecting to find them all missing when they go in to clean the room?  Do they mind if their toiletries disappear altogether into someone suitcase?  Is that normal practice?

Seems such a waste to only part use them, so I prefer to take my own from home. I am not so skint that I have to resort to clearing the bathroom of any unused toiletries. I might have done once when I was very skint, but then I couldn't afford to stay in the room anyway. Now that I can afford the treat now and again of a nice hotel, I see no reason to help myself to some shower gel and soap. I do not need it.   ilona

Sunday, 27 January 2019

A walk around Carsington Water

On the third day I checked out of the hotel after breakfast. I wasn't very impressed with the two vegetarian dinners I had, but the breakfasts were great, lots of choice. After studying the map I decided that I didn't want to walk from the hotel and cover ground I had already walked, so I drove a few miles to Carsington Water. It's a big reservoir with a paths for walkers and cyclists all the way around it. I hadn't worked out the distance before hand, but after when I checked it, I found that it was eight miles long. Perfect to finish off with before heading for home.
I parked in Carsington Village, not wanting to pay the parking charge at the two official car parks. The village is part of the circuit anyway so it was a good place to start. I wonder how many more of these signs we are going to see popping up in different places. It seems drones are not wanted in a lot of places now. 
Several large wildlife sculptures were positioned in a grassy area. I suppose the concrete base is to deter thieves, though I think it would be a nice idea if they painted them green.

You can't walk right next to the water as it's fenced off to protect the conservation areas and wildlife. Dogs are not allowed to go in the water.

This very large shed has grass growing on the roof. It's a superduper bird hide and class room,  teachers can take their kids in there and learn all about the different visiting birds.  Link to the RSPB web site if you fancy doing some bird watching.

Ducks hoovering up the crumbs underneath the feeders.

A slip way with a few boats moored up.

This is the sailing club site. A link to the Carsington site if you wish to partake of some sporting activities.

Things to look at as you walk along.

The modern day version of a stone circle, set on a mound, there is a path up to the top.

The view from the top.

In some places the walking and cycling tracks split, then they come together again. I was on the walking track when I came across what looked like an old derelict building, which was probably in use some years ago as part of the workings of the reservoir.

There are no windows, just a door, and inside it is kitted out with rough cut timber furniture. Talk about re cycling and re using, this is the ultimate in self sufficiency. So clever to make use of this space. I feel I want to decorate it with little nicknacks. I bet the kids love it when they come across this hidden cottage.

On the home straight now, one last selfie. The weather has been a bit overcast with a little wind, but it stayed dry. I have walked on long straight stretches parallel to a road, with great views over the fields. Through the twists and turns of the woods, all very well signposted. Mostly flat with some slight inclines.  There is a big visitors centre with all facilities, cafe, shops, toilets, and restaurant.More info on the Severn Trent web site.
Eight miles walked today, with a total of 21 miles over the three days. It's been lovely scenery, good for the body and soul. It's thanks to my friend Janet who looks after my cats and house for me, she is one of the best. The kids were pleased to see me when I got back. Where shall I go next, back to studying maps.   ilona