Thursday, 20 November 2008

More SWAP ideas

I'm now thinking raincoat, warm, waterproof & wind proof! The jacket I have is OK but not waterproof anymore - unless a friend in the local mountain rescue can get hold of some re waterproofing stuff for me! So a smarter coat would be a good investment, I don't see the family splurging on the fancy jacket I have my eye on so I may as well have a go at making one. The style is a problem - I can't decide. I'm thinking raglan sleeve with a cape over. Taped seams etc. I really need water repellent not showerproof. Probably underlined with flannelette or light fleece for warmth & lined with something good quality, acetate, Bemburg or whatever. Just have to fix on a style that will not be too difficult to draft & then make up. I haven't found a pattern for anything that screams make me. Or a colour I want yet.
Pants will be 2 pairs of jeans, a pair of jeans style trousers, & a smart pair. Tops, I've made a start I've got a black suede look shell I made last week to go under a suede look jacket so thats one top done, just another five to go! I have some fabulous plum satin microfibre that I fancy making an Issy Miyake jacket out of & using as a blouse. Off to press the plum microfibre now it's laundered.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Back to the SWAP

Well I think I've kind of formulated a plan. Sort of. If you see what I mean. I have a party to go to next week & the usual nothing to wear problem came up. Well I do have a couple of things but not shoes that will be comfy for a whole evening so it has to be trousers for which I do have comfy shoes, which means I need to take in the existing pair of black trousers to fit my slightly slimmer self! So black trousers & what? I have a frilly white blouse which would do but not a jacket that I could wear over it. So I've ended up with some black sueded fabric from the stash & some cheap chinese dragon red brocade fabric from Boyes & a Butterick pattern which I quite like, although next time I'll draft one in PMB 4 & add the pattern details. The lapels are in the red & I've lined the jacket with red lining fabric. It is too close fitting to put much underneath so no white frilly blouse, I'm going to draft something & use the rest of the red brocade for a close fit top. Maybe a waistcoat (vest). Then I really must get the trousers altered.
Any how the SWAP - I realised that I like a lot of the jackets I have patterns for but the swap is for 1 jacket only that goes with the rest of the garments made so this new black / red jacket is limiting as far as colours & maybe style goes so I can't use it, but it will fit with a stage 2 or 3 plan. On the other hand it is close enough fitting to maybe, be classed as a top? Then if I made an outer jacket / coat in something warm & waterproof I will have the jacket requirement sorted & then some of the jacket patterns that are calliing me may also fit as tops. Stretching it a bit? I think so! Yes pushing the boundaries here so rethinking - I do wear some shirts as layers over tees, both long & short sleeve, during the winter so if I find suitable style ideas in patterns & other pictures I could satisfy my craving for jackety tops that I can wear alone or over tees. couldn't I?
I've also dug out a glove pattern that I could use some of this black suede'y' fabric for. Well I'll need some sewing to do while I look after Mum immediately after her hip replacement. Actually I think I'll take some other projects as well, I hate to just sit & twiddle my thumbs & cope with the type of conversations Mum is prone to having with me at the moment. I need distractions. Not being horrible, just realisitic. We can't take on the problems of the world & feel guilty for not doing so. Well I can't & I wish Mum would stop feeling this way, it only gives her more anxiety attacks & I see them as self inflicted when she's this way out. I love my Mum dearly & thank God she has all her faculties but it is hard to cope with her when she's this way out. There moan over.

Monday, 3 November 2008

A thought.......

I have just been reading the latest poat on Simple,Green, Frugal Co-op blog & it makes perfect sense. To achieve more we need to plan better & follow that plan accordingly & everything slots into place.
It also reminded me that we need to remember to ensure we have time with our kids. Quality time. Now there's a couple of words for you. Quality time. What is it? In my book that means being there for the kids when they need you. Not when you can fit them in. I found my daughter needed me more as she became a teenager. On her terms but nevertheless I needed to be around when she needed me. I was lucky in a way. I had Joe when she was 10, having worked full time up to then from her being 18 months old. And yes I did miss out on so much up til then but finding myself a single parent felt I had to earn, not rely on benefits. So having Joe & discovering that there was no way we could afford childcare, the only other option was staying home. So I did. For five years before the lure of adult company & some much needed cash got the better of me. I have no regrets. I was around for all the trials & tribulations of a girl becoming a teenager. That was also the hardest time I have spent as a parent. My beautiful daughter turned into the teen from hell & pushed me to the very limits of my whole being. Many times I just wanted to run away & end it all. Have nothing more to do with her & mean it. Our marriage suffered dreadfully. But on good days I was there for her & I think she appreciated that. I returned to part time work when she was 15 & Joe 5, & it helped my sanity no end. I wasn't through the worst yet but it helped. I did throw her out once after I could no longer take the shouting, screaming, spitting etc, but I took her back before the end of the day. It was so very hard, that time. We had social workers, police, parenting classes you name it we tried it. But the only thing that worked was just being there in the finish. At least that's what I think.
Now I have a very pleasant young woman who knows what I went through & knows that I will always be there for her. And she also knows from bitter experience that the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence. And from that experience she has grown emotionally. Long may she continue to blossom.

Saturday, 1 November 2008


Or no decisions on the SWAP front. I was going to make a top to try out a pattern but having drafted the pattern the fabric I was planning wasn't a big enough piece. So I thought it would make Joe some PJ pants so I drafted another pattern. Not enough for those either so I didn't sew anything! Still no confirmed thoughts on my plan. I think I'm just going to sew whatever I feel like at the time so long as it fits the swap criteria & me of course. Actually I was planning to sew bottoms after January but I think I might need some before then if I lose more inches.
I have just made an "Abba" style jumpsuit for a client that fit perfectly first time. The "Morticia" dress I just made myself came out way too big & where it did touch it was too tight! Should've checked the old measurements & the pattern first. Yes I've lost 12lbs, can't shift any more at the moment but there's an inch missing from the hips & 1.5" missing from the waist. Woohoo.
So I missed trick or treating with Joe, he didn't want me there anyway, but I like dressiing up & going out with the kids. Instead I stayed home & greeted lots of ugly monsters & a few very pretty tiny witches.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Help or hindrance?

I have been given several bags of clothing to pass on to the charity shops from my friend, who acquired them from someone else! So I now have a denim jacket. & a couple of tops, including a jade one. So do I rethink some of my colours for this SWAP or do I just consider these as extras? I love the colour of the jade one, & I remember seeing a cardigan the same shade in our local Asda (Walmart). Well it would fit in with the black of the SWAP would'nt it?!!!!! I was hoping to find something I cut deconstruct & create something new but just about everything was on the small side. However there were a number of boys jumpers that will do for Joe in a couple of years. A useful haul.

On a different subject - food.
I made some roasted tomato soup yesterday with the last of the tomatoes from our little greenhouse. It's all gone already. Good job there's some in the freezer for the winter. Tea last night was chicken stir fry, I found a pack of chicken on offer so that was good. Tonight was braised pork chops with apple & onion, jacket potatoes, roasted carrot & parsnip & broccoli. Oh & boiled carrots for Joe as he doesn't like them roasted & hates parsnips! I came across some forgotton dried beans in the cupboard earlier & I think a slow cooked stew of some sort is in the horizon. Not to mention the thought of buying a ham shank during the week to provide stock & meat to add to green lentils for a feel good supper with a French stick! Well it is a French recipe after all & one we all love.

First draft.

My first thoughts on my SWAP. Always with the option to change at every whim!
After a morning straining my eyes at the computer screen I'm off to walk the dogs in the cool fresh air of the countryside with a friend. time to wrap up warm it's wet & windy out there!

Friday, 17 October 2008

SWAP 2009

Bummer. I just caught some key or other on the keyboard & wiped the reams I've just typed. Note to self: Use "save" more often.

So from the top again. This years SWAP has been posted on Stitchers Guild. The catch this time? The clothes have to fit our current weight & lifestyle! Ha, I'm in the middle of a weight loss kick so I plan to concentrate on tops this side of Xmas & bottoms after. I should be around my target weight by then & I intend to stay there this time.
I took a serious look through my wardrobe. Good job I cleared some of it out last week! Anyhow, I now have some idea of what I'm going to need to replace a) what I've thrown out & b) what I'm going to slim out of.
Tops: 1 each navy, raspberry & cream long sleeve tees. And these are baggy on me now.
Jackets: I have no less than 3 although 1 is more summer than winter. And they're all black! Oh I do possess a brown tweedy one as well! Actually I just realised I have a black duster coat too!
Trousers: 1 black, 1 tiny black/cream check that I can wear now, 1 bottle green & 1 tiny brown/black check that I will shrink into. 2 pairs of denim jeans. I'm ignoring the baggy cargo pants & sweat pants.
Blouses: Lots of white & white/black variations & about 3 black. A lilac 3/4 sleeve that isn't the greatest fit but looks good on me anyway. All the blouses I tend to wear with the black & black/white check trousers. A heavier weight raspberry shirt that I tend to wear as a lightweight jacket.
Dresses: A black linen mix sleeveless sheath, a tiny brown/black check sleeveless sheath & a wool blend navy sleeveless sheath! Thes only get worn on occasions!
Skirts: 1 red trimmed with black lace at the hem & no tops to wear with it as I threw them last week! A black suit skirt from my daughter that goes with the jacket she gave me. It's a tad too small right now but will be OK soon! I don't really do skirts as I can't find any comfy shoes that suit skirts as well as my feet. If I do find any I'll be making skirts again.

So that's what I've got & this is the lifestyle:
Get up & pull on jeans & tee, fleece jacket / waterproof, cycle or walk & occasionally car to work via school drop off. Once a week smarter look to go to French class after work.
Teach one evening a week so smarter look. When not teaching, go to pub with the Anorak & meet friends, smarter casual look.
I've already decided not to make outerwear as up here requires good waterproofs & I haven't got the time to make a decent job of that type of garment.

So what do I need?
Long sleeve tees for starters. Trousers & jeans for after the weight loss stabilises, including black. Another jacket but not in black! Tweed maybe with flecks of red, purple & green?? So this leads into colours too. Obviously black plays a large 'ish' part in the existing wardrobe & as I can't afford to replace everything it will have to remain so I need to plan around the existing jackets as well. I'm ruling out a fleece jacket at the moment although another would be useful but I couldn't necessarily make it work with the smarter trousers, although I do have a Vogue pattern that would be nice. I'm in danger of digressing here & rebuilding the entire wardrobe!

The stash has some raspberry & navy cotton jersey, also a black with purple fleck wool knit. Long sleeve tees come to mind, maybe a wrap top as well. A white self striped cotton for a blouse. Some pieces of the tiny black/white check that made trousers may be enough for a jeans style jacket, but then it wouldn't go that well with the brown/black check trousers. I'm thinking maybe a black denim for jeans rather than blue as well.

First thoughts are black trousers & black jeans, then the existing blouses will work with them. Also as I'm not going to make them until January I have time to find a fabric & colour that will work with whatever the jacket ends up in. I think a jeans style jacket might be useful, or maybe the Vogue Divine Details jacket pattern I've got. Would it work in tweed? I don't know. I quite fancy a raspberry red jacket too. Decisions decisions. Actually it's really going to evolve around whatever I can get in the finish!

The navy cotton jersey in the stash isn't going to get used for this SWAP as it isn't going to fit in but I will make it up anyway before the start to refine the self drafted pattern I will use. Neither is the black knit as I don't see it going with a red jacket but it will go with a tweedy look so again I may use it! The raspberry jersey will make it into the SWAP if I have enough as I love the colour & it works with several other colours as well.

So off the top of my head.

Jacket in a raspberry or maybe a bottle green colour or grey (?) tweed with flecks of colour in it.

Tops in raspberry, poss purple flecked black knit, cream, something with bottle green in it, maybe a pattern of some sort.

Blouses, 1 in white self stripe ( a girl can never have enough white shirts -right?) & maybe another in a print with raspberry & or bottle green in it.

Trousers - black, black denim, maybe a grey pinstripe & maybe a tweed so the potential tweed jacket forms a suit? See? I'm deviating from the main part of my casual lifestyle into smarter casual!! Perhaps I should make a second pair of jeans in a slightly different style or a pair of fine needlecord. I do need clothes to cycle to work in.

There what a lot of decisions to make & thoughts to dwell on. One thing I have decided however. Two in fact. I am going to be asking for accessories, i.e. gloves, pashminas, costume jewellery in the accent colours of raspberry & bottle green as presents from my loved ones this Christmas. Secondly I am going to do a mood board first with pictures from fashion magazines as I have loads of them that I used in my first lessons as inspiration for my students. I'm hopefully going to inspire myself!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A list

Of blogs I just came across that have been interesting reads. I've put them on my blog feed.

notes from the frugal trenches
beauty that moves
Caseys Musings this last one being fashion & clothes rather than how we should be living.

Soule Mama has got some yummy recipe links if you like pumpkin.

I am inspired once more to live better than I do now. I had already decided to join my best friend on her journey to re-instigate her veg garden along with another friend. The only drawback is that I have no option but to drive there as she lives out in the country but as I try & see her once every couple of weeks or more if I can putting the gardening gear in the car is no big deal. Right now I want to plant pumpkins! Thank you Soule Mama! However while I have grown them before along with lots of other good veggies, I'm not sure all my ( & my family's) taste in veg will be the same as Sue & Lynne who pretty much only have themselves to feed. Of course Sue's hubby still has to clear the overgrown hedge first & it could take a while to motivate him! There's simply too much work in that for us three girls.
The anorak & I had to give up our allotment due to lack of time but maybe between us all we can manage this "jardin potager"

Sunday, 12 October 2008

It's Sunday and.....

.............and not a lot really.

We've had Henry for the weekend while his Mum & Dad moved house. Henry being a large, rather portly black labrador. He's gorgeous & gets on well with our two mutts, although Jess thinks he's taking over her space a little. And I forgot to take pictures. I also took Henry up meet Simba,my daughters dog. She doesn't like other dogs but for most of the time she tolerated Henry. He's just so big & laid back nothing fazes him not even a bad tempered GSD look alike! Nor did a collision with a glass patio door. He hadn't noticed it was closed & bounced off it. I was in stitches on the floor!

Talking of stitches, I think my sewing class is going well, no one has compained yet anyway! I need to get off the computer & do some sewing. I need some long sleeve Tees as I threw out the tatty old ones. I have been making some blouses but it's the weather for long sleeve tees right now. I need more bottoms too but I'm not going to make any until I have shed some more weight. 9lbs so far & I'm aiming for another 21lbs to part company with.

I'll let you into a secret. I have a plan to hit 50 in January feeling fabulous & if I can possibly manage it, looking fabulous too. So there. My biggest problem is comfort eating & it's a hard habit to break but there a are good days & bad days so on a good day I'm being very very good & on the bad - I'm finding it so very difficult. Just have to keep focussed on the end result. The anorak thinks there's another man in sight. Humph, I should be so lucky? Doesn't do any harm to keep him on his toes.
Here's Jess in her usual "feeling sorry for myself" pose. There's no hope really is there?
Another week is looming with very little in the way of housekeeping. The anorak had to take two nights off work when the handbrake on the Passat failed so it's back to seeing what we have in the freezer & making do for a week. Good job I like a challenge eh?

Friday, 10 October 2008

Like I said...............

I will find time to keep this blog updated. Actually now I'm the proud owner of a shiny new laptop I may manage to get on t'internet when I want to, not when the house computer is free!! This pretty lake we found in France! Well we were directed to it by the fishing tackle shop & spent a happy day catching. Joe 7, the anorak 3, & me? Well I caught 9 just doing my own thing! We went back two days later to find the locals trying to catch their supper & were informed that actually we couldn't fish there at all & the info we'd been given was duff! Certainly put my French skills to the test trying to explain what we had been told to a rather irritated Frenchman who directed me to the local town & tackle shop to confirm what he had said ws true. Oh well. Joe & I then spent the afternoon at the campsite pool while the anorak went to fish a lake on site.

Monday, 22 September 2008

I will find time............... I will.........

I will find time to update this blog! Not tonight, got lesson planning to do, not to mention a pile of ironing & a few buttons to sew on. I've started teaching one night a week & while the pay is good for two hours work it no where near covers the hours of preparation put in. Still, I keep telling myself the samples & stuff I'm making now will be used again next year. If there is a next year.
We had a great holiday in Brittany, I must find time to sort the photos! And next years holiday is already booked, this time based north east of Paris. I see a day trip to the fabric quarter by Montmartre in my future. The anorak doesn't of course share this vision. Tough!
Sad to say we had to have Joe's much loved cat, Tigger put to sleep the week after the holiday. He had suddenly gone downhill so it was the kindest thing to do. I held him as he passed, so peaceful & pain free. This was the first & last illness he ever had, his life had been one of simple pussycat pleasures. He will be missed.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

I wish......

..........I had time to sit & sew without interruption; I could daydream without interruption about what I'd like to sew; I could wander at will on my own in my favourite places.
But life isn't like that is it?
I have managed to half complete a pair of cropped pants. The off white linen has become pants, not finished because they need lining & I haven't got around to it. I did some down & dirty sewing with a pair of PJ shorts for the holiday - I will be vaguely presentable if I'm seen outside the caravan, I already have a top that will match. I just want a cardigan type wrap to complete the idea! I have seen lots of tops that I like in Burda WoF & also some neat kids tops in Ottobre that I could grade to fit me. No idea if any will suit me but hey, you see some sights on holiday so I'll just fit right in! No, what I want to do is repeat a style I managed to carry off a few years ago when even the French mistook me for being French!! OK my accent is pretty good, the look was probably achieved more by accident than total design though.
DS received a Wii for his birthday & I have had to insist on getting out of the house to take a break from it, not just DS but DD & myself too. We took the new car out to Rusland which is my most favourite place in the entire world. We took the dogs for a walk through the woods & had a wander around the church yard where Dad's ashes were scattered in 2001 during the foot & mouth epidemic. The intention back then was to scatter them on a favourite walk of his but of course the fields were out out of bounds so the church yard it was. It is a beautiful place, so tranquil & peaceful. Today Joe & I had a look inside the church & it is as lovely inside as out. This photo was taken a couple of years ago on a bright December morning.I must try & go back on my own as there are more walks I want to do. We abandoned the planned walk as lifting two medium/large ageing dogs over stone stiles is a none starter!

Monday, 30 June 2008

This time I really have finished!

I started to cut out & then changed my mind about the planned top. Back to the wardrobe & I realised the top from V2925 I made a few months ago not only had the right neckline but it wasn't too long to go under the jacket & the navy was about the same shade as the trousers! Problem solved. The pics my friend took for me didn't quite cut it one way or another so I had to let my, 10 yr old on Thursday, son take them in DD's bedroom once we'd cleared a space against the white wall - the others are bright pink! I wish I could have found my phone as the auto focus camera on that is pretty good, instead Joe had to try & use my Nikon & lense which means some of the pics are not quite focused but they will have to do. I'm usually the photographer in the family so pics of me are few & far between.
I like the jacket with the trousers better than with the dress & as for the bag - well that's better with the pants as well!

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Last minute again

I'm back to the drawing board with the top for the capsule. How I thought the navy top I already have, matches the trousers I don't know. It is too dark. So I have a couple of hours in which to draft & make a top. Better get off the computer then hadn't I! I have got pics of everything but of course will need to start again once I've made another top.

Saturday, 28 June 2008


I finished all my June Capsule Contest yesterday. It took me a week to muster up the enthusiasm to finish the bag but it's done now & I don't like it! Well I do - but not with the capsule. My DS says he won't be seen out with me if I use it. It is far bigger than I imagined it would be so it's definitely a stop & stare bag! It might be fun to see how much attention it gets when I go out. Next I have to get photos of me wearing the creations, hope the weather's nice tomorrow & DS is in a co-operative mood!
I need to decide what to sew next. Something quick & simple again, I have skirt & blouse fabric & Burda WoF calling me, or the white Vogue pattern jacket? I also want to do the nightwear sewalong but I don't think I have any fabric, I need to decide on styles too. No PJ's, I get too hot these days, although some summer PJ's would be good for the holiday in case someone catches sight of me outside the caravan in the mornings. In fact I need some holiday clothes as well. Most of all I need some shoes & sandals but I need time on my own to go & buy some, Shoe shopping & DS don't go hand in hand.
On a completely different subject, work is a pain. I discovered a while ago that I was doing the same work as a supervisor at another hospital within the trust. I'm on a payband 2 steps lower so I complained. The outcome to date? I have to rewrite my job description & then the "new" supervisors job will be advertised. So I'll have to re apply for my job. I'm not happy. What happened to internal promotion?

Sunday, 15 June 2008


I've got somewhere with my sewing for a change. Not finished yet but on the way after a couple of false starts. The beige trousers have been relegated to a second capsule (if I get it sewn up!) & a pair of navy in a different style substituted. The jacket is done & the dress too. Just have a top to make if I ever finalise a style, & I decided to make Linda Ghee's Fish Bag as my accessory which I may get started later tonight. Or not.
I made a top from my chosen fabric but it just doesn't go with the jacket. It does go with the pants & some others I have so not a lost cause. The beige trousers also go with other tops so that's good.
I have some off white linen that is an exact match for the off white of the dress which I have been deliberating about whether to make a jacket or a pair of trousers. I think the jacket's winning. Probably Vogue 8480
So the Capsule patterns so far:
Vogue2925 for the trousers. Vogue 8472 for the dress & jacket, the dress was lengthened by about 5" & the jacket by 2". Fabulous Fish Handbag from Linda Ghee.

All garments displayed on my new friend who is currently nameless & doesn't yet have my bust - hence the dress isn't quite right on her! The back of the jacket is gathered onto the yoke , a detail that I was'nt sure about but quite like now.

I'm changing the name from Summer Holiday too as this isn't a packable wardrobe, maybe I'll call it A Summer's Eve to fit with my casual but attempting to look smarter when I go out look!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Ready to sew

Well if I can get myself away from this computer I will be! Another fabric shopping trip & I've got fabric for the JCC. Plan B, Summer Holiday is the one as I couldn't find any pink camo anywhere at a price I'm prepared to pay to make up Plan A, Hooked on Pink! Trousers already made in the beige. I've opted for the Keep It Simple Stupid approach so I have a chance of finishing in time. The accessory is currently a fly in the ointment as I really don't know what I want to make. I'm sure something will suggest itself be it bought or made before the end of the contest.

Monday, 12 May 2008

June Capsule Update

Gosh aren't I getting ahead of myself. I found & then cut out & sewed up the trousers for plan B, just in case plan A doesn't come off!
The pattern is an out of print Butterick. Typically I over estimated how loose fitting they are & ended up taking the side seams in! This is because the last time I made them I wore a size 14. Sigh. My measurements are nearer an 18 in some areas so I cut them a bit too large. Serves me right, I should have stuck to my PMB pattern.
That's the beige linen / cotton blend used. Next up is likely to be the twill trousers for fishing but I need to draft a pattern as I want zip off cargo pants. Maybe I've got something similar somewhere to base the pattern on, like a Jalie mens pants that I just need to change the shape slightly. Hmmmmm. Bed is calling I'll sleep on it.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Time Flies

Or so it seems. I'm not sure I've done very much but don't seem to have found enough time to blog. I have however got my sewing mojo back. At least when I get the opportunity to sew! I have committed myself to the June Capsule challenge over at Stitchers Guild
It is still at the planning stage but I should be able to manage one of my two ideas. Plan A,
Hooked on pink, is a capsule to wear on my fishing trips instead of boring old camo & just to annoy the anorak. I need to find some pink camo fabric for a waistcoat though & probably buy a baseball cap in pink camo. And I've some pattern drafting to do.
Summer Holiday is plan B, pinks & purples & beige pants.
I discovered I already have some tops that will go with either the jacket in the pink, or the trousers, in beige, although not necessarily both at once! Had I realised this I might not have bought the pink & blue batik but I do like it. The beauty of this colour choice is that I can make more capsules of clothes that will fit in with some of these colours & thus expand the options so I'll never be able say I've nothing to wear!!!! Black for example will go with the pink as a pair of trousers or capris or something, even a skirt, & black in a jacket will go with the beige pants, and both will go with the tops. Then I'll have a black base to add other colours to & expand the options. Or navy instead of black - another classic combination. You see sewing with a plan does work. SWAP. (Look at how it works when done right, scroll down the page for fantastic wardrobing skills.) Just split into smaller bite size pieces, hopefully easy enough to stick with, seeing as I didn't get going with the official SWAP.

Friday, 4 April 2008


Sadly my colleagues son didn't make it. Life's a bitch on occasions.
Her bosses sent me a bouquet of flowers for stepping in to do her job until they could get someone up to the hospital to take over. I took a management decision to do it & my manager let me!! I'm not impressed at that but not surprised either. Heck I'm on the lowest pay band & not paid to think. Note to self: Apply to be re-banded sooner rather than later because I'm worth it.
I'm debating adding machine knitting to my teaching application as well but I need to get the machines out & practise & I don't have anywhere to put them. Hmmmmmmmmm. got to do some serious re-organisation around here. soon. My daughter is moving back in as well. Oh hell.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

One of those days

Don't you just hate it when the day goes pear shaped right at the start? Actually it started around 11 PM last night. Noisy teenagers playing in the road outside. Then I slept in as I took ages to get back to sleep. I went out to the car only to discover what woke me up. Said teens had smashed the wing mirror on my car. Thanks guys. Someone did the other one on Saturday night. So now I have a matching pair or wing mirrors. Hanging on by a thread (wire). Ring the police lodge a complaint. Cover poor wing mirror with plastic bag to stop the insides getting wetter & get soaked by passing speeding car hitting big puddle. Lots of bad language on my part I'm afraid & I admit to losing my temper with the poor old anorak who was trying to help. I wish he'd just leave me alone when I ask him to!! Cycle to work, late. It rains, nay pours down, so arrive at work & put all my clothes on the radiators to dry. Good job I wear a uniform isn't it?
Then a colleague in the neighbouring department puts it all in perspective. Her son (in his 30's, a family man with 2 kids) was admitted to intensive care last night with an unknown complaint having been fit well up to this point. Then she had a call to say he was deteriorating so she went. I pray the doctors have been able to help & he makes full recovery. And my problems seem trivial in comparison.
Last but by no means least. My daughter is 20 today. Happy Birthday Dani. I love you. The teen from hell is a lovely young woman that I am so proud of. And her Grandpa would be so proud of her too. He would have been 90 today. Yes they share the same birthday. Definitely not April fools!

Sunday, 30 March 2008

More Exercise

It's catching this walking lark. Well I wasn't going to hang around a lake watching (& thereby causing problems with Joe) my dear son relearn fly fishing. He gets bored quite easily so I'm better off out of the way. I took the dogs for a walk instead. Just 3 miles or so & we all got covered in mud. Most of the walk was boggy but hey, the weather was lovely, bright sunshine was a pleasant change from the snow & rain & wind from Suffolk. In fact I got quite warm walking uphill. The dogs are now fast asleep & still have muddy paws but never mind. I'll have to wake them up later to go out again. It's a hard life being a dog. Obviously.
All this walking has to be good for me but boy is my back bad just now. I think I feel a long soak in the bath coming on before long. Nice end to a nice day.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Easter Break

Thank goodness there won't be another Easter so early in the year in my lifetime. At least not when we manage to get away for a few days. We drove to Suffolk in rain, snow, bright sunshine & more snow.
The next day we awoke to more snow. Well the others awoke to it. I saw it falling around 3 AM. In fact I was running around the site in it trying to catch a runaway dog! We hadn't mastered the heating controls in our rather damp chalet so it was way too hot for the older dog & she came to wake me with very loud, heavy panting. Clever me thought a little bit of fresh air would help. She could potter about outside the chalet while I stood in the doorway. Yeah, right. Sindy took off. Fast. I grabbed my coat & followed her, able to follow her tracks in the snow. In my dressing gown & slippers with a coat on top. The security guys thought it was hilarious when I finally caught her in front of them. No they didn't help.
We figured out the heating & the hot water & the weak shower the next day. We walked on the beach in the snow & Sindy took off again. She did every day. I think she's read that poem about wearing purple & pleasing herself. Well she is 15 now, that's 101 in human years?

We also went sea fishing, well the anorak & Joe did. I hung around & looked after the dogs & took lots of pics of the sea & waves crashing on the beach.

We went to the local wildlife park but as someone was shooting nearby we couldn't leave the dogs in the car so the anorak walked them back to the site. The younger dog, Jess, is gun shy you see. They wouldn't have been left alone for long anyway but it's not an option when she's panicked. Joe & I had fun watching the animals. Next day we went to Great Yarmouth & the anorak & son went to Sealife while I walked the dogs miles along the prom. We've had a good break with lots of exercise & by the last morning the dogs had got used to staying in the living area instead of trying to sleep with us. It's scary staying in a strange place when you're a dog. Obviously.

The pebbled beach. Just because I like pebbles.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Brrrrr it's cold.

The weather has gone mad! Today we've had sunshine, biting gale force winds, snow, hail, sleet & pouring rain. And then it dried up again.
A lovely surprise arrived in the post - I've wona book in a competition - Kaffe Fassett quilts in the sun. Something to drool over & plan & scheme & wish for time to create. I wanted to take something away with me to work on but haven't the time to prepare. Usually I have a small tapestry or embroidery or something to do. I'm just taking books to read instead & maybe some suduko or crosswords. I'm not good at either but hey the brain needs a workout sometimes. Maybe I'll try my son's DS Brain training!
meanwhile I have no idea how we'll fit everything in the car devoid of bootspace because the dogs will be in there.
Tea tonight was good. Jamie Olivers roast lamb with smashed veg! How come Joe doesn't like mashed potato, especially if it is remotely lumpy, but will eat slightly squashed potato, carrot & swede & love it. Likewise gravy. He never has gravy, says he doesn't like it. But make proper gravy from the roast lamb & stir in mint sauce & call it a sauce & one wolf & it's gone.
Being resourceful, tomorrows tea will be the remains of the lamb, in the gravy - I mean sauce - topped with the smashed veg & put in the oven to reheat & brown & call it a pie! Served with broccoli probably.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Brief Update

We went for a short walk last Sunday on The Helme. Just took the younger dog as Sindy wasn't well. It was fresh but enjoyable. The anorak came too, he finished work early Saturday night when the car broke down. Again. Work has been annoyingly frantic, typical when I'm on my own with no help. And I'll have to go in tomorrow for an hour.
Poor Sindy dog hasn't been at all well & I took her to the vet yesterday. She's recovering fortunately but we thought we were going to lose her. It was quite sad.
The anorak had a phone call earlier tonight, Watchdog want to interview him about the problem with his car. Which incidently still hasn't got the manufacturers part fitted. Lousy parts service IMHO!!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Boots, boots and jackets.

I went mad on Thursday on my one days leave. I should have gone to Birmingham to the Sewing for Pleasure show but couldn't get a cheap rail ticket so decided to spend my hard earned money locally instead. I have a decent pair of walking boots now & a good waterproof jacket. Both essentials up here & pretty useful in Suffolk too I imagine if the wind blows infrom the sea. However the anorak says I'm not to go fishing in the jacket it will frighten the fish! It's pink you see. Not bright pink but still pink! And in the sale as were the boots.
Today I went back into town with Joe & bought him some bigger boots & a coat ready for the hols & his school field trip in May. The Mountain Warehouse are having a relocation sale so I made the most of it!!! I was even organised enough beforehand to get a beef casserole in the oven which we had with fried polenta (that's a first - never tried it before). The left over stew wasn't enough for another serving so I added some more liquid & blitzed it with the blender to serve up as gravy next time we have beef of some description. Here's a blog of a lady who's taste & style I love. I just wish I had the time and space to create such lovely clothes.
Friday I spent the morning at a "masterclass" for teachers of sewing related crafts. It was very useful. Not sure how I managed to get invited as I haven't even heard if I passed my teaching certificate yet but I'm not complaining. I even got a claim form for expenses! Anyway I fired off a few emails last night to see if I can get in with the local adult education centres.
Sunday will be quiet. I hope. Maybe the Joe & I will go walking in our new boots with the dogs. Joe likes woods so I'll get the maps out & see where we can go.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

A fun week?

It's turning into an eventful week. I just got back from 2 hours in A & E with Joe. Sudden sharp pains that reduced him to tears is not normal for my lovely little boy. The anorak panics over the slightest hiccup so I calmly got Joe in the car & went to the hospital where of course the pain disappeared rapidly & the mouth started. On & on he talks & talks & talks some more. By now I'm glad my hair is loose & the place busy or the staff would recognise me as the one who supplies their uniforms & they would think I'm the over anxious mother. All the usual checks done & then the wait for the doctor. In comes the senior nursing officer who promptly recognises me! We're referred to the out of hours GP who is based there as the A & E doc is busy & we'd have at least a 2 hour wait. We're seen quite quickly & a urine sample is requested. Joe is examined & no pain anywhere but there is apparently a trace of blood in his urine so now we have to convince our GP's receptionist that he has to be seen within 48 hours or else. That's a job for the morning then. Immediately before the school run.
I cooked tea tonight, having been unusually indecisive for an hour or so, I opted for quiche as we've so many eggs. Broccoli & bacon to be precise. Served with baby corn & curly fries. I have a big bowl of grated root veg that I use for my lunch & the anorak & I had a helping of that as well. He of course smothered his in salad cream. I didn't, I don't much like it. Mayonnaise I do like but decided to keep the last little bit of home made mayo for my lunch tomorrow - it's got garlic & chilli & lemon juice in with lots of black pepper. Yummy.
I embroidered the back of a fleece jumper for the anorak last night.

"Carp fishing.
It's not a passion.
It's an obsession."

Says it all really. I did take a photo but the light wasn't good so I deleted it. Instead there's a pic of Joe when we went sea fishing last month. The light was brilliant.

Sunday, 9 March 2008


News. Good. Or bad? Good as in I'm not pregnant & there's no sign of any abnormalities so Mr Anorak has started to breathe normally again & we can manage financially I hope. Bad as in I think I secretly wanted to be pregnant - even at my age. I don't think I could have terminated the pregnancy unless an aminio had shown problems. I had always wanted more than two children but a broken marriage & then a second husband who'd suffered the fall out from a cot death & was a gibbering wreck for most of the first year of Joe's life, five years into our marriage - this was why I'd opted for sterilisation to start with. Trust me to fall pregnant immediately before hand!! Ah well back to normality. The anorak has tea under control - smoked haddock.

What Joe wore last week. Thursday was world book day & dress up as a character from a favourite book. Hmm. Joe doesn't really like fiction but adores Jamie Oliver on the TV & likes me to try his recipes so he went as Jamie!! Charity shop shirt re cut to his size & jeans & T shirt. Easy. Friday was dress as a WW2 evacuee. Charity shop again for a jumper. I cut it apart at the seams & drew a smaller shape onto the pieces, zig zag stitched all around before cutting & then zig zagged the shoulder seams & ran them through the overlocker (at work so no luxury of one pass of 4 threads! I put one sleeve on by the same process & then unravelled enough yarn from a discarded piece to knit the neck rib - I kept the jumper bottom ribs as part of the new pattern so didn't need to knit them again. Took Joe to swimming lesson & furiously knit the neck. Back at home I stitched up the other side & voila a jumper only fit for an evacuee to be worn the next day.

What I cooked last week. The usual stuff such as pork chops braised in stock (or cider) with onions & apples. Left over sauce & bits in tray whizzed in the blender & frozen for use as gravy later. Very nice it is too. The anorak did most of the cooking - he's getting adventurous - coq au vin was on the menu.

What I cooked this week so far. Cup cakes - twice - they were eaten up rather quickly & I also have lots of eggs in the fridge! Pork chops - again - but this time roasted with potatoes, carrots & parsnip all in one tray. Lovely but a bit dry - I forgot to get the gravy out of the freezer! Actually this recipe should have had pears or apples roasted with the rest but I didn't have any. Blackberries in a sauce with this would have been nice too. Ooh I'm getting quite adventurous with my ideas.

What I'm knitting. Knitting the ribbing on the evacuee jumper made me decide to start something from the yarn stash I accumulated when I did lots of machine knitting in the dim & distant past. I still have my machines, & more acquired since, but nowhere to set them up for longer than a couple of hours so they no longer get used. Anyway I got a book out of the library & am knitting a hat. Not sure how it will turn out as I haven't hand knitted anything for simply years & years.

Is it really so long since I last posted ?

Obviously this blogging lark takes some committment, I seem to have struggled to find the time! Never mind I'm here now! With news that is taking some time to get to grips with. But first the last few weeks have been crazy, no sooner had we booked the holiday than the car the anorak just bought for work broke down. Not major, easily fixable but had to be fixed under manufacturers warranty. After three weeks, no sign of the part, none available in the country apparently. What? Yes really, not one part. Anywhere. Now after three weeks of no income from the main earner in the family things were getting tight, really tight. Mortgage company contacted along with all the other people who demand a slice of the monthly income to see if we could reduce payments. That upset me more than anything else. Fortunately most were understanding & best of all the independant garage the anorak bought the car from retrieved the car from the main dealer & fitted a part that they "adapted" from another brand of car so that the anorak could start work again until the replacement branded part arrived. We're still waiting for its arrival. Lousy service from the parts division of **UK.

On the bright side the anorak has had a good couple of weeks & the bank balance is recovering & he has booked us a week in Suffolk soon. Not that he realised just how far away that is but hey we've never been to that part of England before so it will be a nice change. A six hour drive though & we're also taking the dogs so it will be an even longer drive. Whose car we go in remains a moot point. Will his be sorted properly by then? Currently the fitting of the temporary part means no working fuel guage amongst other things.

Now the news I can't quite come to terms with is that at the ripe old age of 49 & menopausal is that there is a chance I could be pregnant. I go for a scan tomorrow. The anorak is in shock & I just don't know what I think! Ho hum. I had been sterilised & had a D & C just over 10 years ago & then four weeks later I found I was 6 weeks pregnant with Joe. The realisation while with the gynae doc on Friday was that the sterilisation had never been checked after the op with the shock of discovering I was pregnant so the symptoms that I now have may not be down to being peri-menopausal.
The holiday to France goes ahead come what may - we've waited too long for this holiday.

Oh yes, there has been the chance of developing a clothing line for a local boutique & working for myself in the the last few weeks as well as an invitation to a "masterclass" for teachers of sewing. Do bear in mind that I haven't yet been told if I passed my teaching course!!

Sunday, 20 January 2008


It's that time of year when it does nothing but rain here in the north west of England. Time when you dream of somewhere warmer. Well warmer than it is now at any rate - we've had cool damp holidays abroad as well! I have pointedly refused to even contemplate booking a holiday until we have cleared debts & saved money for the last two years, so we didn't go away at all last year & only had a week in October in Cornwall the year before. Well this year we're going back to France, staying where we've been before, I do hope it is still as we remember it. Not our ideal holiday destination I may add, at least not mine or the anoraks, but it has something to occupy all of us for all the holiday so on that basis it's worth going. ie if the kids are happy then we're all happy! Fishing for all of us, horseriding for me & loads of stuff for kids.
Now all I have to do is book kennels for the dogs & save for that expense. They go to a wonderful place that they love so it's worth the extra.

Saturday, 19 January 2008


Tigger cat!

Why is driving so tiring? I drove to Manchester today & spent the day on foot at the museum of science & industry. It was well worth it but I am so tired now I'm back, I'm having an early night!

Friday, 18 January 2008

Organised for once

I prepared tea before I went to work. Not something I manage to be awake enough for most mornings but this morning I prepared the stewing steak & veg & put in the slow oven to be ready in time for tea. In fact when I came in from work at 2.30pm I put the potatoes in the microwave for 7 minutes & then put them in the oven to crisp up. We had lovely tender steak with carrots & chopped up broccoli stalks (how's that for being clever using up veg?) & onion in gravy with jacket potatoes. Tomorrow I may just get a takeaway as we're going to Manchester & the realtree anorak will have to fend for himself at teatime. I'll be tired as I rarely drive longer than an hour anywhere & will otherwise be on my feet all day. Look out Museum of Science & Industry!

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Unexpected hiccup!

So much for thinking I would post most days. My daughter rang Monday to say she couldn't move her leg. At all. She doesn't live far from us so I picked her up & took her to emergency. I work at the hospital & so does she so I could say I took her to work! They x-rayed & found a fracture, put her in a splint & booked her in the fracture clinic for Wednesday & sent her home. I took her to fracture clinic & thanks to my other half ended up having to pick youngest up from school at the precise moment DD had to see the consultant. Typical. The outcome - probable hairline fracture but worse - further ligament damage. This has been a problem since a skiing accident five years ago when the original injury wasn't correctly diagnosed. Result - another keyhole camera job but later they may rebuild her knee which we wanted doing 12 months ago but they didn't want to know. She's happy signed off work for two weeks as she hates it anyway but her contract ends in March & she has to find another job before then. There's an interview in Manchester on Saturday & she's determined to go. Great! This also means son & I get to spend part of the day exploring how the buses operate into the city centre to visit the Science & Industry museum. Son can't wait, he's been before & loved it.
As for me well I have to see the doc next week as a rather yukky looking warty type growth has suddenly appeared & it's not comfortable.
On the bright side I received my copy of Workbox magazine & found inspiration for a scarf that belonged to my Dad. Not sure exactly what I will do but the ideas are coming. Must find the other scarf I held onto, maybe I could incorporate that as well.
I finished my assignment Monday night & realised that actually I had another two to do! So Tuesday I finished those. Last night, Wednesday, I went to class & handed the lot in. next week is the final lesson so I just need to make sure my file is in order & I've finished. But what am I studying? PTTLS! "Preparing to teach in the lifelong learning sector" A City & Guilds qualification. In other words working in Adult Education. Not only do all teachers now have to have a teaching qualification so do those who teach in a voluntary setting. And now the government also want a register of all qualified teachers, free registration before the 31st March 2008 but will we have our results back by then? No one knows. I decided to get the qualification so I had another string to my bow if my job disappears under a local NHS trust shakeup. It proably will I fear, not many hospitals have a sewing room any more. Of course whether I can look for a teaching post is up in the air as much depends on the hours the other half works as well. Still it's an option.
Must stop referring to my beloved as the other half, I think I'll use the phrase "realtree anorak" instead. That's another story!
The dogs! Sindy coming up 15 years old at the top & Jess the nearly 10 year old here. Sindy became "my" dog when we got Jess & she attached herself to the realtree anorak. Hopelessly devoted to him she is.

Sunday, 13 January 2008


Look - three have already gone from the tray!! Not sure who ate them!

I did wonder today if I should rename this blog to include the word frugal. I had £40 to do the weeks basic shopping. The couple in front of me with a toddler & a 6 month old spent £108. OK there were a number of organic purchases but there was also plenty of biscuits, cakes & jars of baby food. If it were me I'd be making the baby food from the organic produce - yes I used to buy jars of food for emergencies or days when I could be bothered but not in the quantity I saw today. Another retired couple had a trolley full of ready prepared meals & tins of meat, pop etc. Maybe they felt it was time to take it easy & not spend time doing the prep. Maybe I'm just jealous? No! I want to feed my family as well as I can but not at any price nor with a lot of junk. Which isn't to say I don't buy junk or ready prepared meals occasionally - everything in moderation I say. My purchases included meat & veg, washing powder, milk & yoghurt. I already have some basics in the house so it isn't the entire amount of food for the week, although my housekeeping varies between £30 & £50 at any given week depending on how much hubby earns a week so we have to shop carefully. But do we all use up the leftovers?
I started out with the intention of echoing the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle motto. I took my own carrier bags in a cloth bag I made specifically to hang on the trolley see Lakeland Limited's website for their eco bag. Lunch was homemade veg soup using the stock I made yesterday from the carcass of the chicken from the day before. Bread was a homemade roll topped with cheese. Tea was quiche with bacon & cheese, served with fresh green beans & mashed potatoes left over from yesterday but put in little pyramids, topped with cheese, on a baking tray in the top of the oven while the quiche cooked below. I used the left over pastry to make jam tarts as well.
So I reduced the waste from leftover food, was sensible using the oven for more than one thing & didn't take any new plastic bags from the shop by recycling the ones I got last time! I managed to fill us all up except for my son who is a lean mean eating machine at the tender age of nine. Well he's always been like this. I filled some more of the gap with cherry pie that Mum gave me a while ago that had sat in the freezer until today. Haven't we overdone the pastry today?!! Now I notice he's snacking on the home made choc chip cookies that I made today. I didn't mention that his late breakfast was homemade drop scones (Scotch pancakes) - a veritable bottomless pit! He'd be eating a banana as well but as per usual they were all green inthe shop today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow I'll get chance to read & drool a little more over Kaffe Fassett. Joe badly needs some more trousers I'll have to have a look through some back issues of Ottobre to see which I (he) likes best, being a stick insect bought trousers don't necessarily fit, even with adjustable elastic in the back waist. Custom made look better!

Saturday, 12 January 2008

The first of many?

I've thought about doing a blog about bits of my life for a while now but as I have a deadline looming for an assignment I'm procrastinating & thought it was as good a time as any to start this blog! I already have a blog written in French though I haven't updated it for ever. Must get around to that soon too.
A bit about me. A wife, a mother, a daughter, a part-time worker, dog walker & so on. I sew for a living, for a hobby & as a distraction from reality!! I also own several knitting machines which I'd like more time to re-acquaint myself with. I like cooking sometimes, baking cookies often, eating chocolate always. I speak reasonably fluent French, love holidays in France & dream of moving there. I love my two dogs, go horseriding when I can afford to & dream of owning a touring caravan & driving a suitable car to tow it with!!
I live in a horrible 1970's plastic fronted terraced box which I hate but hey it's a roof over our heads so mustn't grumble. We recycle as much as we can. In fact our nine year old son & I have just started cutting up the last two years Christmas cards & folding card bought cheaply from the local paper mill ready for next year. I was inspired by Suse at peasoup.
she's waaaay ahead of me! Check the other blogs I happen upon from time to time, you'll find them all vaguely craft related.
Currently I'm planning to sew up a SWAP - Sewing With A Plan as per the Timmel Fabrics competition but I'm not entering, just sewing alongside. I have a "wardrobe" pattern & a few other ideas & even some fabric to get started but I will finish my assignment first. I also use pattern drafting software which I love - see Wild Ginger for more info.