Monday, 30 January 2023

A Few Simple Sewing Projects

On Sunday last week, I decided to go up into the sewing room and start on a new sewing project. It wasn't a quilt for a change, but an apron to protect my clothing when cleaning, cooking, gardening, doing messy crafts, etc.

I'd bought this crossover apron from work in the sale the previous week and it seemed simple enough in it's construction.  It's made of a dark grey linen/cotton and I wanted to buy it mainly to use it as a pattern to make others from fabric in my stash. It cost £7, which is probably on a par with buying a pattern online.

On Sunday afternoon, I decided to give it a go and I laid it on some floral fabric from my stash and cut around it. This apron is all one piece, but I made separate straps to pin and stitch to the main body as it used up less fabric. I pinned a hem around it all and then I pinned the crossover straps onto the main body of the apron. After doing this, I could try it on and it looked okay, but it needed a pocket on the front.

I found a lovely ditsy print in my stash that went quite well with it and I made one large pocket with that and pinned that on. It looked so much better with the pocket, as it broke up the mass of fabric at the front.

I didn't have time to sew the hems and straps on that particular day, so on Tuesday when I had my next day off, I escaped up to the sewing room and completed the job.  It didn't take very long, maybe an hour in total and I was very happy with the result, especially as these can cost up to £35 online. Here's a few pictures of it on my mannekin:

It doesn't cross over quite as much on me, as I am larger than the mannekin. It hangs more like in the photo below on me:

I may make more in the same way at some point, as I'm all for using up whatever fabric I can at the moment, to reduce my stash. It might be a good idea to make one for LB to use in the studio at Uni when she's painting or doing other art work.

In addition to making the apron this week, I also made another hexi wreath for the living room door. I used some vintage Laura Ashley fabrics I'd used to make a quilt that we use in the living room. It was a really quick make which I loved and I like the finished result. It looks cute hung on the door.

It felt good to sew something different this week, as I've been focusing a lot on my current patchwork lately. I need to find more quick sewing projects to make create a bit of variety.

Sunday, 29 January 2023

This Week - W/E January 28th 2023

This week got off to a chilled start spending Sunday at home again stitching and pottering, which are my two favourite things to do. 

Monday, was a strange day. I got it into my head that I was at work at 4pm,  so I stayed local to do the weekly shop. I posted off a birthday card to my sister for later in the week and also managed to take my favourite ankle boots to the shoe repairer, who is located just across the road from our local Lidl. It's a job I'd been intending to do for months, but had not got around to, so I felt positive about that.

After doing the weekly shop, I almost forgot to log into the car parking system, as I don't usually need to do this at the Lidl I usually shop at. I'm so glad I remembered, or that would have been another parking fine.

Anyway, I had a good lunch, knowing I'd be working late and then set off for work. I needed to pick up a few extra bits of shopping before work which I did.  

When I got to work, I discovered that I should have been there at 1pm. I was mortified. I've never got mixed up about my shifts before. I'd turned up at the time I'm on duty next Monday.  Luckily, everyone was okay about it, but I did feel a bit of a cotton brain. Serves me right for not double checking.

Anyway, work was okay, save for a few issues here. It was much quieter, as the sale had ended the day before. It feels strange getting back to normal footfall levels after the craziness of the last few weeks, but I'm definitely going to appreciate the difference.

Lots of the remaining sale items had been further reduced to clear, so I did indulge in buying a few more things here and there. I only spent £9 though, so no big outlay. I won't be buying anymore.

On Tuesday, I was up and out relatively early because the dog was desperate for her walk. A 9.30am walk is usually a bit too early for me, as I like to have breakfast and at least a cup of tea before heading out on the dog walk, but today I had to take my tea with me.

It was nice out though, as there weren't many people around. I like that.

When I got back, I did a bit of stitching and then went up to the sewing room to do a bit of machine sewing on a project I'd started on Sunday. (More in another post)

On, my days off, I'm more than happy to just stay home these days, which isn't exciting, but then life isn't always exciting is it?

On Wednesday, I was working a late again starting at 5pm, so I took it easy, walked the dog, pottered, did some stitching and then got ready for work. On the way to work I picked up my newly re-heeled boots from the lovely little shoe repairer's shop. He'd given them a lovely polish and they looked like new. It only cost £12.50 too, which is much less than I used to pay elsewhere. I'll definitely take all my repairs to him from now on, as I enjoy giving my money to someone who takes pride in the work he does.

Work was pretty quiet, but I secretly enjoyed that for a change. Some of my younger colleagues find it boring, but not me, I enjoy tidying up, stocking up and not being completely mentally exhausted at the end of my shift. They have youth and more energy on their side, I'm aware of my limitations these days.

Thursday morning, I was up and cycled off to my voluntary work. I felt half asleep and probably wasn't all that productive today. It was a little monotonous, as the priority was one particular job, that we did for the whole shift. It was okay though, I'm there to do whatever needs doing.

When I got home. I hit a bit of a brick wall and after having some lunch retreated to the sofa for a nap. I stayed there for most of the rest of the day. I think the busyness of the last few months has finally caught up with me.

I received an email from the job I'd applied for the other week, to say the post had been filled. I'd figured as much as I hadn't heard a peep from them.  I wasn't too bothered. I'm still keeping an eye on jobs that come up, but I haven't applied for any since.

On Friday, I was at work for 9 am. I quite like Friday mornings at work, as it starts off quite quiet and we get a chance to stock up the shelves around the till area. Later it picks up a little and then I get to leave at 2pm and have a little of the afternoon left to enjoy at home.

This Friday, I got the opportunity to get up to scratch with some in house training, which saved me doing it in my own time.  Another thing crossed off my to do list. I also bought a new mop, as our old one had broken and I treated myself to a candle to light each day when I'm sat at the kitchen table. It smells lovely and floral and was quite reasonably priced.

I managed to upload a picture of bunny on Friday, so here he is, as he was when he stayed with us:

So cute, I hope he's happy where he is now.

On Saturday, I had to take the dog out before work as OH was out cycling in the morning. When I got back I did a few household chores and then got ready for work at 2pm. Work was very busy and there were a couple of unpleasant encounters with customers. Some shifts, I really do wonder why I bother. Saturday is the worst day of the week in my opinion. I'm starting to really dislike working on this particular day. 

Anyway, I was very happy to leave at 8pm and come home. I did some work on my finances when I got home, working out my monthly income/expenditure, net worth, etc. It's been an okay month. I think that by March, I'll be on a much better footing. It always takes me a couple of months to recover from Xmas, and this year I've had the added expense of costly dental treatment and a parking fine. I really can't wait to wave goodbye to January this year.

A mixed week. I hope you've had a good week this week.

Friday, 27 January 2023

A Few Recent Favourites

I thought I'd do a favourites blog, as I haven't done one of these for quite a while.The first item is a little banal, but it's often the little changes we make in life that make it run a bit more smoothly, which is the case in point.

I've been loving Dr Beckmann Laundry sheets for a couple of months now. I bought some back in December from Lidl for around £3.50 for 25 sheets, but I've also bought them from Home Bargains since. They seem to do a good job washing the laundry. You just put a sheet in the drum and then load your washing. 

What I like about them, is that they are not exhorbitantly expensive, nor are they heavy to carry back from the shops and they don't take up much room in the cupboard under the sink. They also seem to create less waste, although the packet doesn't appear to be recyclable, which is a pity. 

The main thing I like about them though, is that you do get 25 or possibly even more washes from them (OH uses just half a sheet if he's just washing his cycling gear). I find that I don't get the recommended number from the bottles of liquid, which is probably my own fault for adding more to the machine than I need to. These are a winner with me though. I just hope that I can continue to get hold of them.

The remaining favourites are more entertainment based. There are a few new to me YouTube channels that I am currently enjoying watching. They are mostly craft based, i.e. knitting and stitching, but I find them very therapeutic to watch. I'm not a knitter, nor a crocheter, but I find these channels so calming.

Both of the knitting YouTubers have a very calm demeanor, but they are both a little quirky and I love that about them. Their content is interesting and they are both very talented and make some lovely things. They are Ali from This Little Wonderful Life and her knitting channel called Little Drops of Wonderful and Paula from Stitched by Mrs D. 

I'm also enjoying watching Miranda and her mother Donna on Miranda Mills. This channel is a book lover's channel, which is strange, as I'm not really reading at the moment, but I do enjoy watching Miranda's videos about books, reading and lifestyle. I've even bought the book for February to join in with her Comfort Book Club. It's a book by Georgette Heyer called The Nonesuch. I've never read any of her books, so it might be interesting and will hopefully get me reading again. If you like this kind of content, I would recommend giving them a try.

On TV, OH and I are whiling away winter evenings watching The Outlaws on BBC iPlayer. It's a kind of comedy drama series written and starred in by Stephen Merchant from The Office, and is quite entertaining. We currently need to find more TV favourites, so if you've got any recommendations, please let me know.

Thursday, 26 January 2023

January Blues

I've been struggling a little this January. It's not my favourite month. I always enjoy the build up to Xmas and life afterwards always seems a little flat once the festive season is all over, although this year I was relieved to get back to normal, as I was so busy with work and visitors, I needed some down time. 

Once life returned to normal, however, I hit a bit of a brick wall. Having the bunny for a few days did help, as it brought a bit of light, activity and excitement, but once he'd gone to be rehomed, I felt really sad. I've really missed him, but he may have got depressed if we'd kept him on his own. He probably needs bunny friends and a household without a terrier in it. I really hope he finds it.

The last couple of weeks have been a bit monotonous. Work has kept me busy, and working on my current quilt, but life does seem a little like groundhog day at the moment and the weather is a bit grim. It could be a lot worse, I do realise. We have our health and nothing really to grumble about, so we are very lucky, but despite this, I still feel a little low and I think that I may be suffering a little from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

When life is like this, it's the small things that keep you going. Booking a couple of days away gave me a boost.  I'm currently thinking that I might treat myself to a nice new candle to light every day and help cheer myself up.

I'm sure there are other strategies that I could employ to make me feel better, like creating a vision board or making plans for the coming months. I may try some of these things to lift my mood and to give me something to look forward to. Maybe setting aside more time to get creative and do some other sewing projects or getting back to gym classes will help me to feel more motivated to do other things that I need to do too.

It doesn't help that the news is constantly very grim, prices are constantly going up and the view outside the kitchen window is of a very bare, wet garden, with few signs of new life. I know it won't be long before the signs of spring arrive, but I'll just have to keep on keeping on until life and the weather improves.  In the meantime, I will continue to try to be grateful for the present and the small things that bring joy.

How have you been feeling this January?

Sunday, 22 January 2023

A Saturday Surprise and a Temporary New Addition to the Family

I'm a bit late posting this blog post, but I'll post it all the same. I had a few technical issues with my phone camera and couldn't upload any photos, which I'd like to have done, but I maybe will in a later post. Anyway, here goes.

One Saturday morning, a couple of weeks ago, whilst getting ready to go to work, I got a call from OH who was out walking the dog in one of their favourite spots. He said he'd found two abandoned domestic rabbits let loose in the wild. 

One of them was sadly dead, the other was a bit worse for wear, but he'd managed to catch it and he told me he was bringing it home. He was upset that someone would so cruelly abandon a domestic animal in the wild, to be prey for foxes, dogs, etc.

Anyway, I looked up what we could feed it and got some lettuce out of the fridge and chopped it up ready for their arrival back home. 

OH had put it in the dog cage in the boot of the car.  The dog was going mad. She probably wanted to catch it and throttle it, so we tried to keep her away from it. To be honest, she just sat all day looking at it and didn't try to get at it at all, so I'm probably not being very fair to her in saying this.

We put it in the basement, which doubles as OH's office where we could shut it in at night. It was really cute, small and brown with lop ears.

Before going to work that day, I called in at all the shops on the high street that I thought might have sold rabbit food or hay, but none had any, so I put a call out on our street chat and luckily a lady responded who had a pet rabbit and kindly gave us some food and hay.

In the meantime, I had to go to work and on the way I stopped in at a local Pets at Home to get some food, hay, a water bottle and a flea treatment, as we didn't know if it might have fleas or lice or anything.

OH sent me a few pictures of the bunny through the day. It looked happy eating the hay and the pellets we were given and was even grooming itself at one point, so it seemed to be settling in with us. 

It was very thin though and you could feel it's bones under the fur when you stroked it. It's back legs were also stripped of fur for some reason and also very thin, just bones really, poor little thing.

Anyway, it was lovely to come home to it after a very, very busy day at work. Small animals are so very calming to observe and pet. I enjoyed spending time with it.

Over the next few days, we gave it plenty of food and love and let it run around in the basement at times to stretch it's legs. It was curious and hopped into every nook and cranny. Sometimes it would come up and nibble my foot. After a couple of days, it looked a lot more relaxed and was stretched out in it's cage chilling. It was a very sweet rabbit and had a lovely nature.

We contacted the RSPCA, who couldn't really do anything for us, but they did give us a reference number to use to take it to the vet for a check up. We couldn't find a vet locally who dealt with small animals, so, on the following Tuesday, OH rang a rabbit rehoming service and we arranged to take it to them.

It was a very sad day. If I'm honest, I would have very much liked to keep it, but it wasn't really very practical with the dog, as we couldn't give it the life we would like to and it wouldn't have any bunny friends with us. I understand rabbits like to live at least in twos. 

The lady who took him (she told us it was a boy and approximately a year old), was very experienced with rabbits and had a couple of rabbits already. She said she should be able to rehome him quite easily, which was good.  I truly hope she finds him a loving new home and that he's already making new bunny friends. 

I didn't think I'd get so attached to the little guy after just a few days, but I really miss him. I console myself by thinking that we were blessed to have him with us even for just a few days. Life seems a bit quiet now he's gone, but I guess we'll get used to it.

This Week - W/E 21st January 2023

This week got off to a good start on Sunday. I had a nice walk with the dog (save for ending up on my knees in mud!).

When I got back, we were going out to meet LB for lunch on the Southbank in London, as it had been her birthday during the previous week and we wanted to celebrate it together. I wrapped up a few small gifts I'd bought for her and we headed off to meet her at the National Theatre. OH drove in and parked in the NT car park and we all arrived at the same time.  We headed to a nearby Italian restaurant and had a lovely meal and a catch up.

We then took a walk along the Southbank and visited the second hand book stalls outside the British Film Institute and then Foyles book store next to the Royal Festival Hall. It was lovely to browse some lovely books, even though I'm not really reading much these days.  

OH treated me to a second hand book from one of the stalls. It was a favourite haunt of ours when we both moved to London 25+ years ago. It's good to see it is still up and running. I got a pretty hardback edition of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, my favourite Bronte book.

I also applied for a new job on Sunday. It is another job in Home Interiors, as I do quite like this area of retail, but I'm hoping it might suit me better, as it is slightly less hours per week. I probably won't even get an interview, but it was good to update my CV with my recent experience and flex my job hunting muscles again. I'll keep you posted.

Later, when I got home, I worked on some patchwork and caught up watching a bit of YouTube. My favourite Sunday activities. A busy day, but a pleasurable one, which was much appreciated after a busy week.

Monday was pretty unremarkable. I was at work for 1pm, but went early and did most of the weekly shop before work. Work was busy, but not crazy. This week is the last week of the sale, so it may slow down next week.

When I got home from work, I spent a couple of hours going through all my receipts for December and January and getting my finances in order. I'd not really kept up to date with it through December, as things got so busy.  It felt good to get it all sorted and it cleared the kitchen table.

On Tuesday, I got up and went out with the dog. It was really cold here, -1 degree centigrade, so I wrapped up well. I was due at the dentist in the afternoon, for what I hoped was my last appointment for a while, to see how the new crown had settled in.

The appointment went okay and I don't need to go again for 6 months which is a relief. Before going home, I decided to have a look around a few charity shops nearby. I bought a couple of things in the first shop - a brand new pair of jeans for £10 and a new Laura Ashley photo frame for £5. The other shops didn't have anything that really tempted me to spend any money, which is good. 

Sadly, just going into charity shops to shop these days, brings back uncomfortable memories of my previous job.  I think I can happily say I've now moved on. My current job isn't perfect, but it's okay for now. It's completely different and possibly transitional, but who knows. I don't look too far ahead these days, as I've learned that things don't always go the way you planned them.

When I got home, I was happy to spend the rest of the afternoon working on LB's quilt. It is truly my happy place at the moment and it doesn't involve spending any money either. I also rang and ordered a repeat prescription of my medications from the pharmacy as I'm running low. If I manage to achieve one or two things from my to do list each day off, I'm happy.

Later on Tuesday, we booked a couple of days away to visit family in Yorkshire next month. I got a day's leave confirmed at work, so we're heading up for two days. I've found it hard to book leave in this job as there's so many people wanting to take time off after Christmas and I couldn't actually get a week off until March. Anyway, a few days away will be nice and we're staying in a luxury apartment, which will be a treat. I can now actually look forward to it knowing that it's booked. 

On Wednesday, I was due at work for 4pm. As this coincides with many people leaving work heading out of London, there's often a lot of traffic, so I went early and decided to do some shopping as I needed a few things from Home Bargains. As always with that store, you go in wanting a handful of items and come out with two bags full and £30 less in your bank account. It just can't be helped.

Work went well and passed quite quickly. It seems to be calming down a little. I get paid this week, which is good. It really suits me to get paid every 4 weeks instead of every month, as 5 week months are long.

Thursday, I was up (reluctantly) and off to volunteer again. I'm always fine once I get going, it's just getting out of bed and the house I find difficult. It was super cold on the bike, my ears in particular were very cold. I needed a head band or something to keep them warm under my cycle helmet. The shift went okay. There were a few new people that I'd not met before, which always keeps things interesting. 

On the way home, I picked up my prescription from the pharmacy and then I spent the afternoon stitching. I made us a vegetarian morrocan style sausage and chickpea casserole for supper, which was very tasty. I'm still trying to use up things in the freezer. It's slow progress, but I'm getting there. There's still a lot of home grown vegetables to use up, so I need to try to make a few more stews while the weather is cold.

LB contacted us tonight to say that she is doing costume design at Uni at the moment and is really enjoying it. I arranged to send her a box of sewing notions to help her along. I'm pleased for her that she is getting excited about sewing and garment construction. I get so much satisfaction from it, maybe she will.

On Friday, I was due at work at 11.30am, which was later than usual, so I had plenty of time to get ready. I posted off the box of sewing items to LB before heading off work.

Work was steady, but towards the end of the day it got very busy. I found it difficult to get away and the last customer I served was complicated, so I ended up staying half an hour longer to resolve their issues, which was frustrating.

On Saturday, it was busier still for most of the day and I ended up staying two hours to help tidy up the shop. I didn't mind this so much as I should be paid for it.  It was good to get home on Saturday night and just chill with OH at the end of the working week.

Monday, 16 January 2023

Stash Busting

This year, I very much feel in the mood to do a lot of stash busting with regard to my fabric collection. I have a whole room dedicated more or less to fabrics, linens and other sewing items and the time has come to really take stock and clear out what I no longer want to keep.

I did some clearing last year and managed to sell a few fabrics online, but this year I really need to knuckle down and sell, donate or use a lot more. I have boxes and drawers full and I'm never going to use it all in my lifetime.

I used some in the lead up to Xmas, making some table runners, a tree skirt and a wreath from Xmas fabric  and I also made a few gifts and things for me to use, using bits of other fabrics, but I've honestly hardly made a dent in it, so it's time for some serious stash busting.

The need for this, was brought home to me when we had visitors at New Year, as my fabric collection has really taken over the sewing room and is making it feel cluttered. We don't have guests too often, but when we do, it would be good to be able to thin the room out a little for them.

One project, that I'm currently working on is another English paper piecing quilt for LB, which is mainly using blue fabrics. I've changed my mind recently, about the fabrics I'm going to use for this and I'm sticking to blues and white/cream prints for the project, as when I add other colours in, it just looks too busy. I've got plenty of fabrics that meet this criteria and many should just about be used up on this project.

In my spare time, I currently like nothing more than scrolling through Pinterest to find other quilting projects that I can try next, even though this current one will take months to finish. The quilt patterns have to be simple, no curves or sharp points, as I find these too tricky, and I prefer projects using just one template, if I'm honest. I found a new one the other night that might be my next project.  We'll see.

In addition, I think I'll try to make some fabrics into tea towels to use in the kitchen. I'm always in need of new ones, as they get dirty and scruffy so quickly. I'll probably stick to dark colours for these though. I'll do the same to make some more table runners/tablecloths for the living room and kitchen, as I like to change these up from time to time.

I'd also like to make a paper pieced ironing board cover at some point and maybe some bowl covers for use in the fridge, instead of using foil. There's so many projects out there that I'd like to try, I just need the time and the motivation really.  For now though, I'll continue to plod on with my latest paper pieced quilt project. I've now found out that the style of this quilt is similar to a Courthouse Steps or Hampton Court quilt pattern, which is interesting.

I will keep you posted on progress, but I can't upload photos from my new phone at the moment, so until I've resolved this I'm afraid I can't post any pictures.

Have you got any craft goals for 2023?