Sunday, 29 December 2013

The end of an era

I unfortunately missed wishing you all a Merry Christmas so I will be early with my good will message for the New Year instead. Happy New Year to you all and I hope 2014 is a prosperous one for everyone.

As you already know I have been working my 2 month notice and finally finished on Christmas
Eve.  It was a very emotional time for me and much sadder than I could have imagined. We did however manage to have quite a lot of fun too.
Me with Lucy

Me with Lucy and Pam

Me with Lucy, Pam and Dolph

Me with Lucy, Pam and Tanya

Me with Lee and Jon

Me with Andy aka James Blunt

Me with Alan who was complaining that he didn't like having his photo taken

Me with Gill - Step away from the Pringles
 Well now it is time to get on with the rest of my life.  The shop is still a long way from being open and we have agreed that we start the hard work again tomorrow.  We have had quite a long break so we need to get cracking again.  There is loads to do including a trip to every Argos in the district to buy a certain type of shelving I need.  Such fun!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Shop Floor

It seems such a long time since I chatted with you all.  As you know my time is currently being taken up with the new shop which I can tell you is coming along nicely thank you.
We uncovered a full quarry tile floor recently and tried desperately to clean it.  It was unfortunately damaged beyond recovery due to careless previous owners.
It was absolutely tragic but in the time we have to get up and running we just couldn't do it.
So here is the beautiful alternative.  I love it and it makes the place look wonderful.  I am so proud and excited I could burst. The finishing touches are being done today together with the middle room and toilet.
The walls will get a makeover tomorrow.
I have now dropped another day at work on the lead up to finishing completely so hopefully this might free up more time to blog.

Friday, 15 November 2013

My New Shop

I am now able to reveal the reason that I have been so elusive lately.  As I explained I have been trying to get my website off the ground and this has proved to be much more time consuming than I thought it would be.  I still have lots of photos to do but the bare bones are in place bar a few minor tweaks.
However at about the same time I received a phone call from a lovely gentleman who I know from working in insurance who owns several properties in Worksop.  He explained that he had a tenant who wanted to move out and he thought that the shop would be ideal for me.  I had mentioned that I was looking for a place back in March but he didn't have anything for me at that time.
Anyway I went and had a look and hey presto I now have the keys to my own place.
This is how it looks at the moment so it needs a bit of a make over but I am so excited.  I can't wait to get started. 
I handed my notice in at work on Monday last and am waiting for a leaving date.  So far I only have the official one which is the 10th January 2014.  I have a 2 month notice period which is proving to be a problem as I need to open the shop as soon as possible.  Anyway that is just a small obstacle and it will be overcome.
Everyone keeps saying how brave I am but it feels so right and I think that if I don't take the plunge now I will regret it for the rest of my life.
We are going today to take more photos together with measurements and we can then brainstorm a few ideas.  I don't think it has properly sunk in yet.  I'm being very calm and I am just trying to soak it all in.  I don't want to get all flustered and stressed, I just want to enjoy every minute of it.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Driven to distraction

Oh boy, who would have thought that getting a brand new website up and running would have been so much hard work?
I've taken pictures of ribbons.
Patterns, all 195 of them.

and buttons and I'm ready to drop.

Poor Neil who is making the website is equally over whelmed.  He's just about finished with the actual design so it's just the photos now but I think it is proving quite a task.
I have to do the labelling of the photographs later so that he knows what on earth they all mean.
When I was doing the buttons I got a bit distracted and started getting a bit arty.
I had to keep putting the camera down and this is what I saw through the view finder.  Quite nice I thought.
Then I started getting carried away.
Oh well, enough messing around.  Back to the grind stone.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Quilted Phone Cover

I made this when I replaced my old phone.  I was nervous about the new one getting damaged and thought that this little cover was just the ticket.
  • Cut two pieces of material about 3 cm wider and longer than the size of your phone.  Mine is the Samsung S3 so I cut my pieces 10.5 cm x 16.6 cm.  The actual phone measures 7.5 cm by 14 cm.
  • For the lining cut one piece of fabric the same width but about 1 cm shorter than the patterned fabric to take into account the fact that there is no middle seam. NB If you use a fabric which is the same in both directions you can just cut one piece for the case and an identical size piece for the lining.
  • 1 strip 4 cm by 13.5 cm for the tab.
  • 1 piece of wadding the same size as the lining fabric.
Sew together the two pieces of outside fabric ensuring that when they are joined and folded both pieces face the same way i.e. the houses are the right way up and not upside down.

Attach the wadding to the back of the joined fabric.  Using tailors chalk or an erasable marker pen, draw on a grid of diagonal lines at 2.5 cm intervals.

Hand quilt along the lines using quilting thread and needle and working in running stitch.  Alternatively machine stitch along the lines.
Fold the tab strip in half width ways, right sides facing and sew the side seams together.
Turn out. Place the tab on the quilted case rectangle so that the open end is centred on one short edge of the case with raw edges matching.  Tack the tab in place.
Fold the quilted case rectangle in half width ways, right sides together and close the side seams.  Repeat with the unquilted case piece (lining) leaving a gap of about 5 cm in one seam for turning out.

Put the case inside the lining, right sides together, so that the top (open) edges match and sew around the top edge.
Turn out through the opening in the lining and sew up the opening with small hand stitches.  Press the case carefully.
To complete
Attach the top of the press-stud to the tab and determine the position of the other piece of the press-stud on the outer case.
Placing your phone in the case to check the fit first.

I added a pretty crocheted flower to mine but a simple button would do fine.

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial.  I would love to see your pictures should you decide to have a go yourselves.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Birthday Celebrations

It was my Mums birthday this week and as it was her 90th my youngest brother and his wife organised a long weekend away at Thorsby Hall, near Retford.
We arrived last Friday and stayed until Monday.  We had a lovely time and Mum thoroughly enjoyed herself.
The food was excellent and the staff were great.
On the last night they all came out with a birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday.
Me & Mum with my two brothers

The entertainment was brilliant, even Elvis Presley made an appearance.
There were lots of things to do during the day.  We decided to go on the Bird Walk. We were surprised to find that everyone on the walk was given a bird to hold.  I chose the smallest, a little owl whilst hubby got the biggest and heaviest.  We loved every minute of it.
The Great Hall

Friday, 11 October 2013

My New Website

It's all go around here at the moment.
I decided about a month ago that the next step in my business plan would be to have my own website selling wool and haberdashery.  I have been trading on the stall for just over two and a half years but it's time to move things along a little.
After thinking about it I then took the plunge and hired a website designer to do all the IT work for me.  Blogging I can do, website designing I leave to the experts.
I did however buy my domain names and sort out the web host and little bits and bobs like that and I have had a lot of input in to how I want the site to look.  My son has drawn the banner and a little wool basket too, so it's been a joint effort so far.
I am now in the process of making lists, taking photographs, making more lists, taking more photographs etc etc.  It is absolutely mind blowing how much work is involved and then once I have done my stuff the designer takes over and hopefully in about a month I will have my own on line store.
It is very exciting and I will obviously keep you all posted as to developments but for the time being if I seem a bit elusive don't worry I will be back.

Friday, 27 September 2013

The Incredible Spice Men

Did anyone catch The Incredible Spice Men series recently shown on the BBC?  It was brilliant and very funny.
I know, you wouldn't normally expect a cookery programme to make you giggle but it did.  These two guys have such great personalities, they were a pleasure to watch.
As a get well present my hubby bought me the cookery book and ever since I have been cooking some amazing meals.
I made the honey-roasted chicken with outstanding roasties and both were delicious.
As you can see it looked just like the picture in the book.
Since then I have made the hot and sticky prawns, the exceptional gammon with cider and cinnamon, Ferdinando's roasted potatoes and bread and butter pudding with orange and cardamom.
This is definitely a cookery book to get hold of if you want to spice up your life.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Spiced Parsnip and Coconut Tea Bread

This has to be one of the nicest cakes I have ever tasted, hence why there is only half a cake left to photograph.

150ml sunflower oil
100g soft light brown sugar
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
75g golden syrup
175g wholemeal self-raising flour
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground nutmeg
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g grated parsnip
75g sultanas
25g desiccated coconut
1tbsp poppy seeds

For the topping
2tsp lime marmalade
200g low-fat soft cheese
30g sifted icing sugar
toasted desiccated coconut

1) Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C/325 degrees F/Gas 3.  Lightly oil and base line a 1-litre loaf tin.  In a large bowl or electric mixer, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs and golden syrup until combined.  Mix in the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, bicarbonate of soda, grated parsnip, sultanas, coconut and poppy seeds and pour into the prepared tin.
2) Bake in the oven for 1 hour 50 minutes (check to make sure the cake doesn't burn, if it browns too quickly cover with a piece of baking parchment) until risen and firm, but springy when lightly pressed.  Insert a skewer through the centre if you are not sure.  If it comes out clean, the loaf is ready.  Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
3) While the cake is cooling, make the topping.  Warm the marmalade in a microwave or small saucepan until melted.  Beat it into the soft cheese with the icing sugar.  Place in the fridge to firm up, and when cold, spread over the cooled cake.  For a final touch, scatter some toasted coconut over the top.

Monday, 16 September 2013

New Crafting

The road to recovery can be slow and as a result of sitting around feeling sorry for myself I decided to check out a new craft and complete another that I have been playing around with since returning from my jolly holiday.
Free form knitting and crochet intrigues me simply because being one of those people who likes to abide by the rules of a pattern, this type of craft is totally alien to me and quite frankly I find it a bit messy and unpredictable.
Anyhow I decided that as I am sitting in bed a lot at the moment this mindless type of activity might be right up my street.
This was my first attempt.  I started by following a few basic instructions I found here and this gave me the confidence and structure I needed to get started. 

Second attempt

I'm not sure if this is the creative path you are supposed to follow every time e.g. think of something, think of a number etc or if you just sit with your yarn and needles and just let the juices flow.  I am a bit of a book junkie and might send for a manual to help me get my head around it all.  There are some lovely images on Google if you type in free form knitting and crochet and these show you what you can make with the finished piece.  Some projects are like works of art.  Sadly mine are works in progress and will remain so for a long time I suspect.
The other thing I have been doing is making a holiday picture.
Whilst away I decided that it would be nice to take a picture, buy a frame and collect some shells all from the same place and then put everything together as an armarge (not the correct spelling but spell checker is being particularly unhelpful today) to the lovely day spent by the sea.

So I took a lot of beachy photos of Wells, collected lots of different sized cockle shells and a few other interesting ones and bought an unloved photo frame from a charity shop in the same town.
I painted the frame with 'sand' coloured acrylic paint and stuck the shells on the frame with my glue gun.  Unfortunately the picture I so lovingly chose (see above) kept sticking to the inside of the glass which made it look like it had greasy marks on it so I had to chose a picture taken in Blakeney. 
I actually preferred the boat picture as it happens but now the completed project is an armarge to the holiday rather than the day.
I am happy with the result though and it sits proudly at the top of the stairs on a little seaside themed window sill.

The window will soon be subject to a makeover of its own as I am currently designing something to hang there as a little crochet curtain.
Is there no end to this crafting addiction?

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Back to Normal - almost!

Here I am at long last.  I had my operation yesterday which went well.  There was an awful lot of waiting around but that couldn't be helped.
I went straight to bed last night after eating a lovely meal prepared by Joe my son.  He is a really good cook and I was hungry enough to eat a scabby donkey.  Not that that was what I got!
Sleep was a problem as I kept getting twinges but I still feel refreshed.  I recomend being rendered unconscious to everyone.  You definitely get a better quality of sleep.  Fortunately the anaesthetic didn't bother me at all and I felt really well afterwards.
Today is a take it easy day with a short walk just to make sure my legs don't seize up or get these nasty DVT's the nurses have warned me against.
The Norfolk photo's follow just so this post isn't all about me, although I could talk about me all day you know.
Little nature reserve at Blakeney

Holkham Beach

Holkham again
More to follow.
Thank you for dropping in. It is great to see how many visitors stop by. 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Reasons for my absence

Firstly my apologies for not being in touch.  Life has certainly got in the way lately and unfortunately I may be away again in the next couple of weeks as I have to go in to hospital to have a Fibroid removed.  I was told that I would have to have a Hysterectomy but that is hopefully not going to happen.  Anyway the op is a week tomorrow.
Secondly I have recently bought a Fitbit One which is basically a pedometer but way more expensive and clever.  I watched the Horizon programme about three weeks ago which talked about how phone aps are the future in terms of health and as part of the theme all the people involved were given these Fitbits to try out.  I have a more advanced version but my hubby has the tiny Fitbit featured and both are amazing and so cute.
This one not only counts steps it also calculates calories burned, stairs climbed and distance covered.  At night I strap it to my wrist and it tells me how long it took me to fall a sleep, how many hours I slept, how many times I awoke and how efficiently I have slept. I can then connect it to my computer wirelessly and monitor my food intake.  It even tells me how many calories I need to eat and burn in order to lose weight at a pace I choose.  I can't praise this product enough, it is really cool.
And finally I have just got back from an amazing holiday in Walsingham, Norfolk.  This will be our third year but we still had a great time.  I will post many more photos but here are a couple to whet your appetite.
Sand dunes at Wells on Sea

Back to work tomorrow so I will be back in to a routine and should hopefully blog more frequently.
Bye for now and have a great day.