Sunday, 31 May 2020

A Few Ebay Purchases

For the duration of lockdown, with very few shops open to purchase things that I have needed, I've largely stuck to ordering things on eBay, when the need has arisen. I rarely shop on Amazon, as I feel they have such a monopoly online and as an ex-eBay seller myself, I like to support small eBay sellers as much as possible, and sometimes big ones too.

I've bought some wonderful things on the site in the past. Clothes and shoes that I love and have worn and worn, wonderful fabrics (although not recently) that you just couldn't easily get anywhere else, craft supplies that I can't be bothered to hunt around shops for, garden items, books or vinyl that I've been looking for, household and other items too numerous to mention here. More essentially, I managed to buy masks and gloves on eBay before Lockdown, which have proved crucial on recent shopping trips.

Not every single eBay experience is a good one. Sometimes I get it very wrong and don't read the listing properly, sometimes sellers get it wrong by not providing full descriptions of their listings and sometimes I just take a punt only to find it's not what I thought when it arrives, but on the whole I like using the platform and will continue to do so. Overall, I'm very grateful that sellers have continued to sell and post out items throughout the lockdown, so this post is really to say a big thank you to them.

In the last week, for example, I have bought quite a few things on eBay, ranging from cotton tape for making aprons, black fabric paint (which I had run out of and need for craft projects), some low heeled sandals for wearing this summer and wax for oiling the chair that I'm re-upholstering. Only one item cost more than £10 and most were around the £5 mark, so I'm now awaiting the arrival of these items, and it always feels like Christmas or a birthday when the packages start arriving.

I constantly have a watch list ongoing on the site and check it daily to see if there is anything that I really want to bid on or buy. Sometimes I bid up to a certain amount and if someone outbids me, so be it. Oftentimes, however, I don't bid at all, which just proves to me that I didn't really want the item in the first place. I am currently watching 60 or 70 different items on my watch list, some being different offers for the same item, as I like to shop around the site and get a good deal.

I also like to use eBay as a research tool. If there's something I am looking to buy or I am just curious about, I will often go onto the site and do a search. I love seeing what people sell on there. It's like a great online second hand (and first hand) shop. I love it and it's so convenient having things delivered to your door without having to go out looking for them.

I keep meaning to list a few things myself, in order to earn some money from them, rather than just donate them, but I rarely bother, as the effort just seems too much these days.

I know there are now many more platforms on which to buy and sell i.e. Facebook, Depop, Amazon, Etsy,etc. etc., but eBay is still my marketplace of choice for most things and the thrill of the auction is still exciting if you get what you want for the price you want to pay.

Do you ever buy on eBay? 

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Back to Work or Not

On Sunday night, I got a message from one of our volunteers informing me that the Prime Minister had announced that non-essential shops can re-open from 15th June.  In all honesty, I'd missed the announcement, so it came as quite a surprise.

I don't think our shop will open as soon as 15th June, but it does signal that things are finally going back to some sort of normality. It got me thinking about what will need to be done to get the shop prepared for allowing customers back in. There will be long lists of things to check and make safe. We will no doubt need to go in at least a week before opening, in order to help make preparations.

If I'm honest, I'm sort of looking forward to going back to work.  I've loved having this time off and I think I've used it quite productively, as well as having taken time to relax and have time out from the busyness of everyday life. I do, however, find my self wanting to get stuck in and get our shop back up and running.

Facing the prospect of possibly going back to work sometime soon, has motivated me to complete more of the projects that I had started and those that I still want to do. As a consequence, the last two days have been spent completing a few more aprons and bags using the new cotton tape I ordered from eBay, which arrived on Tuesday.

By the time I'd finished, my sewing machine had just about packed up, as the bobbin kept jamming, so I had to finish sewing on the cotton tape by hand. Hopefully, it will still be as hardwearing and secure. Luckily, these were the last things I needed to sew for a while.

I also completed half a dozen more masks, but these weren't quite as successful as the first few I made, as I made them a little big. I reduced some down in size and they'll be okay. I can wear them on my bike if I do cycle to work.

Today, I had a Zoom Q&A with work, but to be honest, I was left slightly bemused in terms of knowing what is happening, save that they hope to phase the reopening of most of the charity's shops over the next couple of months.  I guess I'll just have to wait until I hear something more specific relating to our shop. In the meantime, it gives me time to carry on with the things I still have left to do and maybe even just have a little chill time when they are done.

This afternoon, I wasn't particularly productive.  I had a couple of jobs to do in the kitchen, namely make some more dog food and more pickled red onion. I also re-potted a couple of plants, but that was the limit of my productivity today.

Tomorrow, I'm determined to crack on with sanding the chair legs from my upholstery project and hopefully get them finished and ready to wax. I must remember to order some wax on eBay to treat the wood with. That will probably be a job for next week now.

In all honesty, I feel a bit in limbo at the moment, waiting to hear what is happening with returning to work. I'm trying not to let it affect the time I have left on furlough though, as it's been a very rare opportunity to spend so much time at home, something not to be squandered.

This weekend, OH and myself are going to head out to some garden centres and try to get some bamboo plants for the end of the garden. It will make for a nice trip out, providing that social distancing doesn't make it a nightmare.

We have decided to put a hammock up in the space at the end of the garden, as LB wants one very badly and we'll do anything to get her out into the garden. To be honest, we wouldn't really use a table and chairs if we did put them there, so a hammock is probably a better option. That will be an interesting project, as OH is going to build a frame for it. I'll let you know how that one goes!






Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Upholstery Project Update

After posting last week about an upholstery project that I was embarking on after years of procrastinating, I thought I'd bring you up to date.

As mentioned in the previous post, OH dismantled the chair, which was the subject of the project, in order that I could get started on it. A couple of hours in the garden pulling out staples to remove the fabric covering and I was away.

Subsequently, on Saturday morning I decided to start sanding down the back of the chair.  It was probably the most difficult piece to start with as there are lots of small slats that make up the back, but it didn't actually take too much time and I had it back to it's original bare oak wood in a few hours. 



I much prefer the pale bare oak colour to the darker varnished look, so I decided I would try to use a clear varnish on the wood, so that you could see it in all it's beauty. I tried a small patch first in a place that wouldn't be seen, but didn't really like the results, so I'm now just thinking of buying some beeswax to protect it.

In the meantime, I set about re-covering the seat pad. I had had some upholstery fabric put aside that I'd found in a charity shop some years before and when I showed it to OH, he was happy for me to use it. It was quite a thick fabric though, thicker than the one I removed, so was a bit tricky to staple in place, but eventually, many staples later, it was done.



It just needs a base fabric attaching now, but I don't actually have anything plain that is suitable, so I may have to buy something, unless I can find a plain tablecloth or something similar to do the job.

I'm pretty happy with progress so far.  I just have to do the above, sand the legs and then wax all the woodwork before OH can put it all back together. I'll do a full reveal when it's completed.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Yet More Sewing Projects

I seem to have been having a bit of a sewing fest of late. I've obviously got my sewing mojo back, that's for sure. It's a good thing, as it has resulted in my using lots of fabric from my stash, which is what it is there for after all.

Having made a couple more masks this week, for when I return to work, I decided to make some aprons for the same purpose.  I'd already bought some plastic disposable ones, but they were bought in the panic leading up to lockdown, when I thought I would be going back into work, and they aren't really a very sustainable solution, so I thought I'd have a go at making some fabric aprons that I can wash and reuse.

I had an Emma Bridgewater apron in my baking drawer, that I used as a template and cut out a couple of aprons from different fabrics I had in my stash.  I managed to complete one, using some cotton tape/ribbon I had already, to use as the neck strap and ties.For the second one, I decided to order a wider cotton tape from eBay, so I haven't yet finished that one, as I'm waiting for it to arrive. I attached pockets to the front of both aprons, to put a pen or other small items in.

I also made a co-ordinating drawstring bag for the completed apron, to take the apron home in at the end of the working day. Here's the apron I completed with matching drawstring bag (I got Bert to model it for me):



I figure I need to make at least 3 aprons and 3 bags, one for each day I work each week, but I will have to put them straight into the washing machine after my working week has ended, in order to use them the following week, so I may make more just in case.

The plastic disposable aprons, I will leave at work for other staff or volunteers to use if they so wish.

Having made some aprons, I then turned my attention to the final quilt that I needed to finish. I've posted pictures of this quilt in previous posts, in various stages of completion. I proceeded to sew the layers together on my sewing machine and then pin and hand sew the binding all around the edges. It took a couple of days to complete the latter task, but I am happy to say that I have now finished it.  Here's the finished quilt:



I was going to quilt each row of hexagons and around the flowers made of hexagons, but the tension on my sewing machine is still not resolved, so I thought better of it.  I may do it at some point in the future, should I get a new machine. I did try to quilt it by hand, but I didn't like the finished result so unpicked it again. I'm happy enough with it as it is for now though. At least it will be useable when winter rolls around again.

This particular quilt has been made for use on this (our) bed in the winter, on especially cold nights when a further layer is needed. The wadding used is a vintage pure wool Witney blanket, that I cut down to size. As a consequence, it is not a thick quilt, but should be a warm one. I should even be able to wash it in our washing machine, with a bit of luck.

Although it wasn't a priority to start another quilt, I did have one last project that I've wanted to do for ages and which I had already cut the pieces out for. It is for a dog quilt, that I intend to use to cover half the sofa, for when the dog jumps up onto it, to prevent it from getting covered in dog hair essentially.

For this quilt, I had various dog and duck fabrics that I wanted to use. It's going to be my first attempt at a block type quilt.  I've never done one before. As a consequence, I think I'm going to sew the pieces together on my sewing machine, as it should be pretty straightforward. I'll keep you posted on the progress of this one.

More projects started and completed, but still more work to do.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Lockdown - Week 9?

I'm not entirely sure what week of lockdown we are now in, I've completely lost count, but I think it is Week 9. In fact, I just checked the calendar and we have just completed Week 9. It seems like a long time, but in reality it has gone quite quickly. 

I seem to have accomplished quite a bit during the time and I am running out of projects to get stuck into, which is a very good thing. In fact, if it hadn't been for lockdown, I wonder if any of the projects I've completed would ever have got done.
 
The last week or two, I had more or less convinced myself that I would be returning to work next week, to help drum up online sales for the charity I work for, but I found out this week that our shop had not been chosen to re-open it's online shop.

To be honest I was a little disappointed, as I was looking forward to getting stuck in and starting to get the shop in some sort of order, in readiness for re-opening it to the public at some point in the future. I also believed our shop had one of the charity's most successful online shops, but obviously I was wrong on that count, unless of course there were other reasons why we weren't asked to re-open, or we were, but someone declined at this point in time. Anyway, the current situation is, that I will not be returning to work this month, so I probably have another few weeks of furlough left, in which to get super focussed and finish everything that I want to finish at home.

I am currently working on the last quilt that needs completing, I am part way through making some masks and aprons to wear when I return to work, and I have also started renovating and re-upholstering a chair. So there is plenty to keep me busy.

There are one or two other jobs I would like to complete too, which include framing a photograph of my granddad that I've had for years, but not got around to doing and likewise, framing a painting that LB painted for her GCSE Art coursework last year, that I want to hang in our kitchen. I have frames and apertures, but just need to adjust them a little to fit. I'm hoping to get them done in the time I have left.

In addition, I would ideally like us to get the living room redecorated before I return to work and even possibly start on decorating the hallway, as this is probably the most untidy part of the house and is the first part people see on entry (not that many people see it currently). OH started work on decorating the living room yesterday and he is currently at the prepping stage.  His work is picking up though, so he has less time to spend on it at the moment. We'll just have to see how it goes.

Finally, I would also like to do a thorough clean of the house before returning to work, so that I feel like I am on top of it and not vice versa. There's nothing worse than feeling your home environment is out of control, when you're also very busy at work. It will give me a head start if I can leave the house knowing that there is nothing I need to do when I get home, other than the basics of daily living.

Is there anything that you would like to complete before the lockdown ends and life gets back to some sort of normality?


Friday, 22 May 2020

An Upholstery Project

On Friday, I finally started work on an upholstery project that I've been meaning to do for a number of years. Well, I was actually nudged by OH into doing it, as he wanted to replace the chair in the kitchen, which is the subject of the project, with a chair from the living room, to make more room for him to decorate in there.

As a consequence, he set about dismantling the chair, in order that I could get started.  The problem was, I didn't get to take a photo for the before and after.  I did take some photos of the dismantled chair, to show why it needed renovating, so here are those photos:



The upholstered chair seat was obviously in need of re-covering, after 13 years of OH's bum having sat on it day in and day out in the kitchen. I was surprised really that it hadn't lasted a bit longer.  It was upholstered with John Lewis fabric 20 years ago and given to us by OH's mother when we bought our first house together. It had belonged to her mother and is a Linden Utility Chair made in the 1940's.

Interestingly, I found a piece of the original fabric whilst I was removing the later fabric from the cushion seat. Here's a photograph:



It has a kind of satin type finish, so I'm assuming it was probably used as a bedroom chair, but I might be wrong.

Anyway, I sat myself out in the garden on a stool, balanced the chair seat on the rack on the back of my bike and proceeded to pull out what seemed like hundreds of staples. Once I got the back off, the inside of the seat looked like this:



I felt like I was doing my own little Escape to the Chateau DIY renovation, which was cool. To be honest it's the first time I've spent more than a few minutes in the garden since the beginning of lockdown and as the weather was a bit cooler with a nice cool breeze, it was wonderful to feel the sun on the back of my neck.

The frame of the chair is pictured in the photograph below:



As you can see from the photograph, the varnish on the back of the chair frame has completely worn away too, so the whole frame will need to be sanded back and then re-varnished. It will probably take me a while to finish as I'm not a master upholsterer, but it's fun to have a go as it's quite a simple project.

I've kept the fabric that I took off both the top and bottom of the chair seat and I will be using these as templates to cut the new fabric from. I now just need to ask OH which fabric he would like me to use for the project, from a selection in my stash.

I'll keep you posted with progress on the project.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

More Lockdown Sewing Projects

The other day, after finishing the quilt I'd currently been working on, I decided to focus my attention on making some more fabric masks for when I return to work. I'd already cut out a couple, but needed to insert the folds and sew them in place along with the elastic. This took very little time and the masks below are the result. They are slightly different sizes, but both fit pretty well.



I cut out and part sewed the fabric for another half dozen masks, but I need to iron the side edges under before putting in the folds and elastic and sewing up the sides. It won't take long once they're ironed. They are in a variety of colours and prints, as I was using up any appropriately sized scraps I had that were made from cotton fabrics.

All the masks have contrasting fabric on each side, in order to prevent me putting the dirty outer side to my face, if I take it off for any reason and then put it back on.

Trish whose blog TrishWish Living Well in Retirement, reminded me in her recent post on the subject, that I had intended to make some small drawstring bags to put the dirty masks in, for carrying home from work and throwing in the washing machine. I intend to wear more than one mask in a day, and possibly up to three. One for each journey to and from work and one to wear whilst at work. So I sewed a couple together to get me started. I'll probably do a few more in the next week or so. Here's the one's I made:


They're not co-ordinating, but I have at least used up fabrics that I might not otherwise use. I'm also intending to make a drawstring bag to carry my dance shoes around in, when I finally get back to classes. It reminds me of having a sandshoe bag at school.  Did anyone else call pumps sandshoes? It's amazing where sewing a few scrub bags can lead!!

I forgot to mention in my last post about quilting, but I found a great new quilting channel on YouTube. Karen who posts on the channel justgetitdonequilts, has created a fabulous channel with a wealth of information on quilting. I fell down a bit of a rabbit hole one day when I found her channel. Her ideas about scrap management and scrappy blocks and quilts are particularly interesting. I'd recommend taking a look.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Appreciating the Lockdown While I Can

I haven't posted for a few days, which is quite unusual for me whilst on lockdown, during which I've been posting more regularly than I have in a long time.

There's no particular reason for the break, I just haven't really had much to blog about. In addition, I'm trying to just appreciate what time is left of lockdown. I have a creeping feeling that I might be back at work in a few weeks time, trying to drum up online sales. Nothing specific has been said about our shop, but there was mention of the top 20 shops for selling online, reopening their online shops soon, and I think our shop comes into that category. I'm currently waiting to here from Head Office, but it might or might not actually happen.

In case it does, I've been trying to finish off a few last jobs. I started a new quilt the other week and have today completed hand sewing the binding onto it. It's been a gradual process over the last 3 days, whilst watching TV for the most part.

What should have been a very simple make, ended up being very annoying and tricky, mainly due to the tension on my sewing machine and having to unpick stitching that wasn't right. I'm happy to finish it as a consequence.  It isn't perfect, there's the odd small pucker here and there, but it's as perfect as it's going to be.  Here's a picture (not the best I have to admit):





I do love the fabrics in this quilt. The pale grey print  closest to the camera, is a Laura Ashley ditsy print cotton and the floral print is a very pretty waxed cotton fabric. I adore the cherubs on the centre panel and the black leaf type print is also just adorable. As a consequence, it's my current favourite, but your latest quilt usually is, isn't it?

I've also got a few other tasks that I want to try and complete in the next two weeks, including a small re-upholstery job on OH's favourite chair in the kitchen, another older quilt project to try and finish, plus the making of more masks, which is probably the most important job.  In fact, I'll probably do that one first.

The weekend was another lazy one. I just stayed home and pottered around, emptied the ironing basket, made some more red onion pickle/flapjack and put our current temporary living room together after redecoration.

We're currently watching a new series on BBC 4 called State of Happiness.  It's a Norwegian series about the discovery of oil off the coast of Norway in the 1970's.  It's pretty good and you can catch it on iPlayer I think. The last two episodes are next Saturday. On Monday night, I got to watching the film Educating Rita on TV. I'd forgotten what a good film it was. I was up until gone midnight watching it, as I enjoyed it so much.

Yesterday, it was time to go to Tesco's again to do a big shop. It was the usual case of dodging people who don't seem concerned about social distancing, so I was glad to complete the shop and get home, knowing I won't have to go again for a good few weeks.

There were a few added expenses this week, as it is OH's birthday today, so I had to throw in a few bits for him and a cake, of course. I also added a few stationery items to the trolley and bought this lovely new door mat, for when we redecorate the hall.



It was a complete impulse purchase, but I don't care. I've spent so little money on non-food items lately, that it won't break the bank. I also bought a new plastic washing up bowl, to use as a foot spa. We only had very manky bowls, that OH uses to clean his bikes, which didn't appeal to me to use, so I've bought a new one with this sole purpose in mind. I've got quite a few foot products to use up and thought I'd give myself a bit of self care whilst on lockdown.  If I can get into the habit of it, I will continue when I return to work, which is when I really need to look after my feet, after standing on them all day long.

Have you been trying to get into any new habits whilst on lockdown?





Sunday, 17 May 2020

Decorating Update

The redecoration of the dining room/second reception room has now been completed and I promised an update.


Here's the room before we started:


Very stark and white, but looks worse because all the pictures and other items have been removed.


I wanted a  cosier feel to the room, as we have our wood burner in here, that we use to heat both this room and the adjoining living room in the winter. The colour we used needed to look okay with the colour we are using in the living room too, as the doors that join the rooms are usually left open.

Now, I know I said that we were going to add colour to this room, but you might disagree that the colour we used is actually a colour, as it was grey. It is not to everyone's tastes, but as we already had a full tin of pretty expensive Little Greene paint left over from decorating the kitchen, (which we were going to use on the cabinets before deciding to buy new cabinet doors) we decided to make use of it.

The problem was, it was a kind of battleship grey colour, which really didn't appeal. As a consequence, we decided to go darker, so OH got hold of some black powdered paint dye from a local paint shop and darkened the paint to the colour that is now on the walls.  It was also oil based paint, so was very difficult to put on and get a good finish, but after a lot of effort, OH eventually got it to work.

Steel yourselves for the results:






We really like the colour and how it looks in the room, but realise that not everyone might. OH did some adjustments to the book shelves, adding a lip to the edge of them, as they were sagging a little under the weight of  the books and vinyl we keep on them. We painted them and the cupboard doors below the same colour as the walls and we like the effect.

We both had a good sort through of all the books and LP's before putting everything back and tried to declutter as much as we could. We filled two cardboard boxes, which wasn't too shabby. The walls still look a little bare as we haven't yet put any pictures back up. I'm considering swapping out some of the artwork in the room too, just for a change.

Currently, the room is set up as our living room, so it has several things in it that wouldn't normally be in here, i.e. TV, fire screen, flowers, footstool, standard lamp, cushions, etc. These have been moved in here from the living room, whilst we decorate in there next. We will be moving these sofas out of the room, and bringing in our big blue sofa and armchair, as they are just not comfortable for sitting watching TV. We will probably be using this room in this way for a month, which is way too long to be uncomfortable for. That will be a job for later today. We've currently got the partition doors closed to keep out any dust and dirt from the decorating next door, which makes the room feel especially cosy.



As the room cost us very little to decorate, I think I might brighten up the sofas with some new cushion covers when I get back to work.  We are selling lots of designer cushion covers in our charity shop, that were donated by a famous London Interior Design company and we have been selling them for £15 each, so I may splash out on a couple to brighten up the dark sofas and inject a pop of proper colour into the room.  I just need to get back to work and find designs that I like. I think it's worth putting quality soft furnishings into the room for once. I'll let you know if I eventually get them.

Now it's onwards with the living room redecoration, which won't be changing a lot, as we'll be using very similar colours on the walls, due to the fact that we really like the d├ęcor of the room as it is. In this sense, it's more of a freshen up. I'll post again when this room is completed.


Thursday, 14 May 2020

This Week

This week has been a bit better than last. I'm in a better place and not putting too much pressure on myself to be productive.

I'm keeping to my daily floor exercise routine, plus adding more reps to it, and on Tuesday, I headed out on my old bike for the first time in I don't know how many months. OH took a look at it first, to check it was in good order, as it has been stood outside all winter. He attached a rack, that I bought ages ago, to the back, so that now I can attach my pannier bag and put shopping in it.

Our first outing was to the Olympic Park in Stratford.  It's quite an easy ride and takes about 20-30 minutes at my pace. I left OH chatting to a cycling friend he met as soon as we set off and continued on my own way until he caught me up later.

I popped into Waitrose at the Mall near the park, to get some essential items we'd run out of.  It wasn't too busy, just the usual odd moron who pays no attention to social distancing. It has at least probably saved me having to do a full on supermarket shop this week.

On the way back, we stopped off for coffee and gelato at a shop that was serving from a hatch. All the calories I burned off riding my bike, and probably more went back on, but hey ho, it was good to get out and OH had wanted to go on a bike ride with me for weeks. It felt good to get on the bike again, but my bum was seriously sore the next day, so I think that riding every other day until I get used to it, is probably best.

On Wednesday morning, I promised OH I would help with the decorating, so when he got back from walking the dog, we got stuck into painting the woodwork in the dining room. It was about time I did my fair share really and this was part of a last push to finish the room. After two hours, the first coat had been applied and there was just one more coat to do, that he did today.  

All that is now left to do, is to return all the books and vinyl to the shelves and get it set up as we want it. We're going to move the TV in there and use it as our living room for the next few weeks, until we get the living room next door decorated.  I reckon we'll be in there by the weekend, if not before. I'll post some pictures when it's finally completed.

In other news, I received the form to extend my furlough this week and sent it off, just as Riki Sunak announced he was extending the Government scheme until October.  I hope we'll be going back before then, but looking at pictures of the crush on the tubes and buses, I'm suddenly not in quite such a hurry to return. I can't actually believe how many people weren't wearing masks.  I don't know if they can't get hold of them or just don't think they're worth wearing, but surely if they prevent the spread of the virus to others, then the least everyone can do is wear one to protect people around them. After all, none of us know whether we have the virus and are asymptomatic. It makes me want to make lots of cloth masks and hand them out to people who don't wear one, but many of them would probably just be discarded.

Many of you will probably think me a little insane, but I fell down a bit of an eBay rabbit hole the other day and purchased this:



Maybe it was actually a Wombles hole that I fell into. In the absence of being able to find a DVD of the programme, I bought this CD of some of the stories.  I used to love the programme as a child. I loved how they collected and re-used rubbish. I think I might be regressing. Must be the lockdown. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Anyway, today has been a bit of an eye opener. This afternoon, I decided to make my first foray into finding a cycle route to work. I only anticipated riding half way and then returning home, doing a bit more each time.  When I actually got to the half way point, I was curious as to what the rest of the route was like, so continued on and was soon at Russell Square in Central London. From there it took another 10 minutes until I was just around the corner from the shop.

The route itself was quite quiet really, with little traffic for most of the way, surprisingly. It was pretty well sign posted too, although I did go wrong a couple of times. All in all, it took me about an hour to cycle in. My bike is very old and heavy, and if I still had the bike that got stolen last year, I probably could have shaved about 10 minutes off the time. I'm going to try to do the route at least once per week, so that I get used to it and build up the stamina for it. I figure it's like a muscle and the more you work it the better it performs. I'm hoping to eventually get the time down to 40-45 minutes which would be quicker than the bus and great exercise to boot.

By the time I got home, I was exhausted, as I didn't take any water or any money to buy a drink. When I got in, I felt like I deserved a sit down to watch Escape to the Chateau DIY. Needless to say, tonight I'm not doing much of anything and tomorrow, I'll get the newly decorated dining room sorted out.

I hope you've had a good week.




Tuesday, 12 May 2020

A Strange Weekend

It's been a funny old Bank Holiday Weekend. It started well with all of the dancing on VE75 Day, but from there it kind of went downhill and I hit a bit of a mental slump.

I don't think it helped that I spent virtually the whole of Saturday down a Pinterest rabbit hole, re-arranging all of my Pin boards and deleting pins I no longer wanted to keep. My computer was so slow during the process too, so it was very frustrating. Anyway, it's now complete and I'm being careful to pin things to the right boards, so that it doesn't get into such a mess again.

Looking through Pinterest one day last week, I came across a recipe for pickled red onion which looked interesting. As a consequence, I bought some red onions from Lidl last week and on Sunday I decided to follow the recipe.  I only used one onion to begin with, in case I didn't like the end result, and one onion just about filled one of my preserve jars, which was perfect. Basically, you slice the onion really thinly, pop it in the preserving jar with white vinegar, sugar, salt and water and then leave overnight.  Here's the jar I made:




I then proceeded to pickle the last of the beetroot from the allotment. I only had enough for half a jar, but it will get eaten in my daily salads. I use a similar process to the onions, but just use half malt vinegar and half hot water to pickle them as they are very sweet already.

On Monday, I tried some of the red onion pickle on my salad and it was very nice. It will be nice in a cheese sandwich too I imagine.

 

Yesterday, I made the blackcurrant jam I'd been meaning to make for ages. The 600g of blackcurrants that were left in our freezer from last year, made two and a half jars of jam, which should keep us going until lockdown phases out I think. 



I didn't do any exercise, bar the dancing over the weekend and I think this made me feel very lethargic and feeling a bit low I tended to overeat all weekend. The dog wasn't well too on Sunday, so I didn't even get a decent walk with her. By the time it got to Monday and I got on the scales, I was disgusted, but not surprised that weight was creeping on, so I vowed to get more energetic this week to keep my spirits up.  Even just going back to doing my morning floor exercises made me feel a lot better and then getting out for a proper walk with the dog helped too.

From this week onwards, I'm going to get out on my bike at least every couple of days. Now we are allowed to  exercise more than once a day, I won't feel guilty about doing it. I am going to try to work out a cycle route to work in Central London, for when we go back. I'm going to work my way up to it slowly, doing a bit more each time, until I find out how long it will take me. It might not be an option, when I actually do it, but I've got plenty of time to find that out and it will be good to get out and about again. I feel like I'm stagnating at the moment and living in a tiny bubble.

Another current plan is to watch two episodes of Escape to the Chateau DIY each day. I've now created a series link and there are 4 series to watch, each of 20+ episodes, so that will keep me entertained for the remainder of lockdown.  Not having to tune in at a specific time of the day is useful too and frees me up to go out cycling in the afternoons.

I do find that I enjoy the weekdays of lockdown much more than weekends. I find it easier to keep to a routine and be more productive, whereas on weekends I tend to waste time and laze around doing very little. I guess it shouldn't be all work and no play, but sometimes I find weekends a bit disspiriting.

I had one more small job to do in the kitchen last night,, namely make some lemon curd/jam tarts, to use up some lemon curd that had been in the fridge a while and some pastry that was going out of date. These will definitely be all gone in a few days. Nothing sweet lasts long in our house.

One last thing, I am currently trying to regrow the lettuces I buy from a local greengrocer.  They are lovely red lettuces and I've seen on Pinterest that leaves will re-grow if the stalks are left in waterformed.  Here's the ones I've currently got on the windowsill:



I know make sure that I don't remove the very small leaves growing in the centre, to let the plant regrow from them. I'll let you know if I'm successful in this regard.


 

 



 

 


Monday, 11 May 2020

Allotment and Garden Update

It's been a week or so since I last did an allotment or garden update, so I thought I'd post another one.

The garden at home is really growing fast. I'm so happy with the foxgloves I transplanted.  They are flowering now and look lovely.  They are in fact a mixture of purple and white ones. I'm so pleased that I didn't just discard them. I hope they will self seed in this corner of the garden and recreate the same effect year after year.



The lovely fern I bought at Chelsea Flower Show a couple of years ago, is looking great too.  This is a far cry from how it looked a few weeks ago.  I thought it was dying, but once I cut back the old leaves, lots of new bracts grew through and it now looks great again.




The allotment is coming along nicely, we've currently got potatoes, shallots, climbing French beans, broad beans, bush beans, asparagus, peas, white and purple kohl rabi, kale, plus raspberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, rhubarb and a red grapevine growing. Here's a few pictures I took the other day:







I have to admit that I can't take any credit for the way the allotment looks at the moment, because it is all OH's hard work this year. He's dug it over, dug in compost from the park, sown the seeds, nurtured them and planted them out.  In fact it's almost a coup. I will obviously partake of harvesting when the time comes around and watering, but for the most part he's very happy to make it his domain for the moment, especially during lockdown, whilst I work on things at home.

We've still got cucumber, tomato and courgette plants to go in and are rapidly running out of space for everything, but it's still a little early at the moment to plant them out. Maybe in a couple of weeks time.

He's done a very good job this year and we should have lots of crops to harvest later in the year. In the meantime, I'm focussing on using up any frozen crops from last year. We've eaten all last year's frozen tomatoes, pickled beetroot, blackcurrant jam and frozen sweetcorn during lockdown and I just need to make some jam from what remains of last year's blackcurrant crop, which is currently in the freezer, to make room for some of this year's harvest. It's feels good to use everything up and not let anything go to waste.

I bought a mandarin plant the other day when I did a shop at Lidl. I was so excited to see plants for sale outside that I just had to buy something.  As I didn't need any grasses or geraniums, it had to be a citrus plant. I'm excited to grow one for the very first time.

Still dreaming of a visit to a garden centre. Maybe one day very soon now that they are allowed to re-open.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Weekly Round Up

It's been a funny old week. After being super busy the week before, this week things slowed down again and I found myself looking for things to do at some points.

I mainly focussed on finishing the reorganisation of the sewing room this week, but with that now complete, I found I had time to do a bit more quilting. (More in another post).

The decorating is coming along slowly. OH has to work on his business some days, so has limited time to spend on it, but he is getting there.  The colour is now on the wall and some of the shelves, or one coat at least. There's still other woodwork to paint, but OH has already bought the colour for the living room wall and will be progressing to decorate in there immediately after this room is finished, which is great news.

LB had to go to the doctors for some blood tests last week and got the results this week.  I was surprised to hear that she has hypothyroidism, like myself. I didn't even know that children/young people could get it. She's been put on a low dose of thyroxine.

My volunteer friend from work is feeling much better this week and is hoping to go out again from next week if he remains symptom free. I'm very happy that he has come through the virus safely.

I got some news from work this week. They are extending our furlough for another month to the end of June when the Government scheme ends. I can't say I'm 100% happy to be off for another 7 weeks, but if it is necessary, then there's not a lot I can do about it. I'll just have to find more projects to keep me occupied. I also checked what I was paid this month, whilst on furlough, and it doesn't seem any less than what I usually get.  Not sure if it is a mistake or not, so I don't want to spend it all just in case. I'm definitely not complaining about this though.

Friday was a good distraction, with lots of events going on online around the VE Day 75 celebrations.  It was good to do something completely different. It helped to reduce the feeling of Groundhog Day that I get sometimes.  I'm not bored at all,  I just feel a bit frustrated, but don't we all. We are the lucky ones. I worry for those on the frontline, who are bearing the brunt and how they might be feeling or start to feel as things calm down. It must have been hell for them to see the suffering they have seen and live with the fear of becoming ill themselves.

I watched the Queen's VE Day speech today, it was very moving, as was her account of heading out to celebrate with the crowds back in 1945. Her message was so appropriate and much needed. I loved the fact that she described the streets of the UK, not as empty, but full of love and care for one another.  That was inspired.

OH has seen lots of people flouting the guidelines this weekend, which isn't good, especially as our area has one of the worst death rates in the country. I constantly get upset by people walking, cycling or jogging too close to me when I'm out with the dog or at the supermarket.  Some people really don't seem to care. It will be interesting to see what the Prime Minister says tomorrow about easing lockdown.  I think some people think that restrictions have been lifted already.

There's another collection for the local Food Bank going on down our street this week, so I've put together another box of items. Some from my stash of things that we don't use very often, so probably won't eat or use and some I bought in specially, knowing what was on the list of things they wanted.

Since yesterday, I've been treating myself by eating my breakfast from some vintage china that's been sat in the cupboard for years unused. I was inspired by the VE day celebrations, but have decided that why not use them everyday.  Besides, tea cups are smaller than mugs and I never drink a whole mug of tea, so it makes absolute sense for me to use them. This set below is a 1960's/70's set from East Germany or GDR, it's not 1940's, but it is very pretty. On this occasion I'm eating potato cakes.
I've also been using a set that belonged to my mum, that has also been gathering dust in a cupboard. Even doing such small things gives me a daily lift.



I hope wherever you are and whatever you're doing you're having a lovely Bank Holiday Weekend.








Friday, 8 May 2020

An Amazing Life Story

I just had to make a small additional post today, to link you to an amazing blog post I just read about life in occupied Holland during World War II. Please read this article on the Spitalfields Life blog, it really helps us to remember the suffering of others, for the freedoms that we have today, despite them being curtailed at the moment.

VE Day 75 Dance Fun

Bank Holiday Friday was a great day.  A great celebration of the anniversary of the end of the World War II in Europe. I was looking forward to it, because I decided that I was going to enjoy myself and get into the VE Day spirit. 

Firstly, I promised myself I would make an effort and get dressed up 40's style for the occasion. In addition, I promised myself that I would get involved in as many Lindy dance events online, as I could, as there was a lot going on.

As a consequence of the above, instead of getting up late, I was up and out with the dog early, so that I could come back and get a shower and LB could put my hair in a wet set to facilitate a 40's updo. After she did this, I got started with the VE day dance events, as the first one was taking place at 12 noon. This one involved the National Heritage Museum and the teaching was done by my usual dance company, so I was very keen to join in with this one. It involved learning a short solo routine which was great fun. I loved it.

After I'd done this, I got dressed and did my makeup.  It felt strange putting a full face of make up on after wearing less for the last couple of months.  My eye liner had even dried up a little with not being used. Once dressed, I really felt the part and returned to my computer for another run through of the routine I'd learned. Then there was another solo routine to learn, with another online event, which was also good and taught me a bit of the Shim Sham, a well know dance in Lindy circles.

After this routine there was a bit of a break in the proceedings, so I took my rollers out and did my hair. The wet set didn't go exactly to plan, but the finished result was better than I expected.  I took a couple of selfies and sent them to my friend, as I'd promised her I would do this. Here's a cropped copy of me (complete with pinny) and Bert, my dance partner, as I'm shy of having my photo posted on the internet.



I also took the time to explore some YouTube videos made by the National Army Museum about Make Do And Mend and Digging for Victory during World War II. These were fun.  By the time I'd done this it was time for the next dance lesson.  This was the Lambeth Walk and the Jitterbug, taught by Anna and Simon of Swingdance UK as part of the National Army Museum Virtual VE DAY 75 Festival.

Whilst watching and dancing to this, I was WhatsApping my friend and trying to watch another live video on my phone, teaching the Shim Sham, so things got a bit hectic. The dancing day was finally rounded off with a performance of the first solo routine by more dance teachers accompanied by a live dance band playing.  It was great to see some familiar faces on the live broadcast.

I had a wonderful day, so much dancing, so many informative and funny videos to watch and the fun of getting dressed up for a change, even though I had nowhere to go.  A lot of effort was put into the events and they were great. I'm so grateful to the organisers.  It was just the tonic I needed at the moment. If you didn't catch any of them, check out the National Heritage Museum Facebook page, the National Army Museum website and the SwingdanceMK Facebook page to watch the videos and learn the dance routines.


Thursday, 7 May 2020

Sewing Room Reorganisation Update

As promised, this post is an update on my progress reorganising my sewing room. Having finally painted the storage drawers and put them to use and having received the underbed storage bags for my vintage bed linen this week, I was finally able to complete the last few organising tasks and I've now just about got as far as I can with the room for the moment.

I've explored and unearthed every item in every nook and cranny of the room and wittled them down to the absolute minimum I can bear to keep for the moment.  I may get brave and reduce stuff further at some future point, but I'm more or less happy with the state of affairs for now, as it is a vast improvement on before and much more streamlined.

What still isn't streamlined is the surface of the bed, so I haven't posted a picture of this part of the room.  Until we eat the food, use the cleaning and toiletry products and I can take the donations to the charity shop and Give and Take, it will remain cluttered, but as you can see, the rest of the room is looking much better.

Here's the before video again:




And here's and after video: (in which you'll also be introduced to my new VE Day dance partner Bert!)





I have to admit that I can't wait to clear the bed completely and have a totally clutter free room, but some things I have to be a little more patient and wait for. I'll post a picture at some point in the future when it is back to being a normal uncluttered spare bedroom/sewing room

I can tell that the whole nation has been carrying out similar jobs, just by the amount of storage solutions that appear to have sold on eBay in recent weeks. I have to say that I find the prospect of being inundated with stuff at work quite a scary one, once this is all over. I think the influx will be unprecedented, but I'm not complaining, so long as people come in to buy it, as it will boost the coffers of the charity, which is much needed at the moment.

It's been an enjoyable task overall and has kept me sane for the last couple of weeks of lockdown and given me a sense of purpose.  At least I will go back to work knowing that I have done at least one useful thing during my time off. I now have to find a new task to amuse myself for the next few weeks.  I wonder what it will be this time.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Another Sewing Room Upcycle

I have mentioned in a few posts, that I was going to paint a couple of sets of drawers that LB discarded after her bedroom clear out and utilise them in my newly organised sewing room. I've already posted the results of the first upcycle, but the second one that I needed to do was a bit more time consuming.

The set of drawers in question were these:



OH has owned these drawers for many years and then passed them onto LB, to house her pens and pencils.  As she now no longer wanted them, it was my turn to use them and although they are very beautiful as they are, with cute Bakelite knobs, I decided to paint them inside and out, as there were lots of ink stains and writing inside the drawers and marks to the outside and top.

It was a bit of a longwinded faff to be honest, as I needed to prime all of the surfaces before painting them and with all the little sections within the drawers, this took an age. If it hadn't been for lockdown, I probably wouldn't have bothered at all, but having plenty of time to fill I proceeded.

Here's a picture I took part way through the priming process:



Eventually, I was able to get the coloured paint on.  I had two tester pots left over from previous paint searches, one of which I used for the outer sides of the drawers, and was the same colour I'd used on the drawer fronts of the other set of drawers. This colour was called Crochet, which seemed very fitting for a craft room. The second colour I used only on the insides of 3 drawers after I'd run out of the first colour.  This yellowish colour was called Tapestry Thread. Who knew?

Here's a picture of the finished drawers:



Anyway, there was just enough paint to give two coats to the outside of the drawers and just one coat to the insides, so to make them look a little better inside I decided  to use some pretty printed papers to line the different compartments. It took a while to cut them out and stick them in, but I think the results were worth it and were a much prettier solution.



During the painting process, the little Bakelite knobs did get a bit messed up with paint, but as the paint was water based, it soon came off with a bit of a rub with a rag and some surgical spirit.

Once painted, I returned my sewing items (both new and old, as I have a small collection of vintage sewing notions) to the drawers.  Here are a few pictures of what I've put inside:




And finally my vintage sewing tool collection which are mostly needle and pin cases.





The drawers have enabled me to beautifully segment and organise my items, making them easy to find when I need them. I'm pretty happy with the results. It was worth the 10 or more hours of effort and hopefully they will stay in use for many more years to come.



Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Pottering

Yesterday morning, I had a lovely leisurely dog walk, during which I made this little video to show you the view from a path that we took. I looked around me and I was completely surrounded on all sides by cow parsley and birdsong. It was surreal, but very beautiful.



I usually WhatsApp people I know whilst I'm out walking and on this occasion I messaged a volunteer from work who is currently self quarantining at home after catching the virus. He's been quite unwell, so I've been checking up on him almost daily for the past few days, to make sure he is okay. He was feeling a little better today, which I was pleased about.

When I got home I had a lovely lazy day pottering around doing itsy bitsy jobs that I've been putting off for ages. These things were mainly located in the sewing room and included such activities as getting my glue gun out and mending as many things as I could find that needed mending, i.e. glueing the braid back on a couple of self-upholstered blanket boxes, mending a sewing box, re-attaching an owl's eye (don't ask), etc. I hammered a few nails in the wall to hang a few more embroidery frames alongside some others, put some batteries in some string lights that LB threw out and draped them over the mantelpiece and then tried to sort out and re-organise the mound of stuff on the bed.

The under bed storage bags that I'd ordered on eBay had arrived when I got back from the dog walk, so I sorted through my vintage linens and re-packed them into the bags before returning them to their home under the bed. I did take a few items out and put them into my quilting drawer to be used as fabric, mainly because they were either ripped or stained. One item I put in the bag to donate to the Give and Take, as it was a bit bobbly and not even worth using as quilting fabric. Someone else may be happy to use it for something. The new storage bags I'd bought were disappointing, as they weren't very good quality.  They'll do for now though, as I don't go into them often.

I also took some time to wrap the presents I'd bought for OH's birthday later this month and made some gift labels using some ink stamps and plain brown card tags. I still need to get him a main present - he needs a new drill - and some chocolate, but otherwise I've got everything.

Later, (despite saying that I wasn't going to start any new projects until I've finished the one outstanding quilt that is left to complete) I cut out the pieces to make another single quilt, which I'm going to wad using one of the single duvets currently clogging up the sewing room bed. I took a while to decide on the colour scheme and what fabrics to use.  It was super easy  to access them all now I've reorganised all my fabrics, but choosing ones that I felt went together well and would look nice when used in the living room wasn't so easy.

Eventually, the decisions were made and all the strips that I needed to complete the quilt top were cut and they now just need sewing together. It's going to be another simple strip quilt, no small fiddly patchwork pieces, so it shouldn't take much time at all. I am using some of my favourite fabrics, that I've wanted to use for a long time, so I will enjoy the process. I've decided that I need to just use the fabrics I like and not hoard them. It's such a waste for them to sit in drawers unused.  I'll create another post when I've sewn them all together and progressed with the project a bit more.

The one thing I didn't do today, was to continue painting the mini storage drawers for the sewing room.  After spending most of yesterday working on them, I just couldn't face working on them again today.  Maybe I'll do them tomorrow or later in the week. Once they're done, I'll be posting again about the progress in this room.

Tonight, whilst making supper, I made some mince pies in order to use up half a jar of mincemeat in the fridge and some puff pastry that was going out of date. They weren't the most beautiful specimens, but they'll be nice to have with a cup of tea and at least used up some things that would otherwise probably get thrown out.

It's been a bitty day, but sometimes it pays to just get all those little things out of the way all at once and free yourself up to do something more interesting.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Grateful for the Weekend

It's been a hectic week, so for once I was looking forward to the weekend this week.  I've been working on the scrub bags every day and trying to find a time to do them that least disturbs our neighbours with small children who nap, as I took my sewing machine down to the kitchen to work on them this week.

I've also been busy trying to sort out more of the sewing room this week too. I managed to paint one of the sets of wooden drawers.  I was going to buy some paint from B&Q on Thursday, but when we drove past, the queue was so long, I just couldn't face it.  OH had to collect some items he'd ordered from Wickes online, so we just went on to do that instead.

In the end, it was a good thing, as I decided to shop the paint in our cupboard at home when we got back and found a couple of sample pots that did the job well enough.  I had to paint the front of the drawers a different colour to the box, as I didn't quite have enough of the first paint, but they look okay.  Here they are in situ, filled with ink pads and stamps.  I made some labels using said ink stamps, which look cute and uber organised.


I have another set of drawers to paint, but they will take longer, as they have lots of very shallow drawers that all need painting. The insides of the drawers need painting too, as they are all ink stained from pens that were kept in them at one time. I'll make a separate post about painting them. I did temporarily organise lots of my sewing notions into them, just to see if everything fitted and it did, leaving two whole drawers for coloured pencils, pens, etc. I don't actually own many pens or pencils, so I doubt I will ever fill these.




In addition to doing the above this week, I also managed to tack the wadding and backing onto the final unfinished quilt project, which didn't actually take that long.  It is now starting to take shape but quilting it is a different matter, as I don't think my machine will make a good enough job of it. I'm having serious problems with the tension,that I can't seem to resolve and would ideally like a new machine, so it might have to wait until I've bought or received one for my birthday before I attempt it. It's not a very thick quilt as you can see, but the wadding is a vintage Witney pure wool blanket, so it should be nice and warm but without the bulk.

On Friday, I finished my week by having a good clean of the upstairs. The sewing room, our bedroom and the bathroom, plus I vacuumed the stairs and landings.  It's been getting gradually messier over the last couple of weeks and it was starting to get me down.  I might try to clean up a bit downstairs over the weekend or next week, as that is a mess now due to the dust from OH sanding whilst working on the dining room.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day in bed.  I just felt like a duvet day. I woke at 5am and couldn't get back to sleep, so got up and went downstairs for a few hours during which time I ordered some underbed storage for the sewing room on eBay, before returning to bed.  I have a collection of vintage bed linen that I keep there and need something to house it in as the current storage bag has ripped.

Besides, I've been getting up early and getting on with things all week and needed a lie in. I didn't have to walk the dog on this morning either, so it was the best chance I had all week.  I've also started reading a new book and it's really good. It's called Walking Home by Simon Armitage, who is the current Poet Laureate, and who walked the Pennine Way back in 2010 giving poetry readings along the route in return for bed and breakfast and donations from attendees.  It's very amusing and I was happy to stay in bed reading it. OH read it about 5 or 6 years ago and recommended I read it. It has sat on the book shelf ever since and I'm glad that I finally picked it out to read.

Later in the day I did get up, did some washing, packed away some winter coats, walked the dog and then started to paint the final set of drawers.  It's a tricky job.  They all need priming first and then painting, so it will probably take a few days to complete. This has been my main job today too. Here's a picture of current progress:



I hope you're having a nice weekend. I think its a Bank Holiday this weekend, but nothing seems to have been mentioned about it in the press, so I almost forgot. Everyday is like a Bank Holiday Monday these days I guess.





Friday, 1 May 2020

Enjoying a New Lockdown Occupation

This last week I've been enjoying a new temporary volunteer position, as a sewing machinist. By way of explanation, a neighbour put out a request on our WhatsApp group late last week, for fabric to make drawstring scrub bags for hospitals. As a consequence, I offered my services to make some bags, (which help to prevent cross contamination in transit), which were gratefully received.

I was told that the bags were approximately pillow sized and drawstring, so on Saturday morning I got out our wallpaper pasting board and set it up on our bed as a cutting board. 


I proceeded to pull out suitable fabrics from the fabric I was going to donate anyway (after decluttering the sewing room) and some from my massive stash and then I cut them to size. I ended up with a pile of about 35 bags cut out. I proceeded to sew as many as I could at my newly decluttered work station in the sewing room. You can see the pile of cut out bags to the left of the sewing station.



I finished about 21 that day, and then stopped, as I was conscious of the noise from my sewing machine disturbing my neighbours on a weekend, at least one of whom is an NHS employee and probably enjoys peace and quiet on their days off.



I already had some cord for the drawstrings which I had picked up from a charity shop way back, and rarely have occasion to use and serendipitously, once I'd cut it to size, I had the exact amount for the bags I'd cut out.

Probably the most difficult part of making the bags, was creating the loop through which to feed the cord, but I got it down to a fine art after a couple of attempts, in order that they looked neat and well finished and this made threading the cord through with a circular knitting needle very easy.  I threaded the 20 or so I'd made whilst watching TV that night.

On Sunday, I did the remaining dozen or so and cut out more, as I've got plenty of fabric to use up,  I was running out of cord though, so I had to get a bit creative with what I used.  I raided my ribbon jar for ribbon and lace, which I used on a few of the bags and I found some shoe laces and other alternatives from around the house. I may actually try to make some drawstrings using fabric if I can't find anything else to use.

Yesterday I completed all the bags I'm going to do and I'd made about 70.  I'm hoping they'll be okay, as I did have a bit of trouble with the tension on my machine. It feels good to do something potentially useful and utilise my ridiculously large stash at the same time.  This alone has used almost 35 metres of fabric or thereabouts. What better way to use it and there's still so much more in my stash for me to use for projects, it's crazy. 

I've deliberately tried to use some colourful and uplifting fabrics in the mix.  Here's a picture of some of the finished ones. I ironed them all this afternoon and boxed them up ready to take to my neighbour.




After giving up on the bags for the day last Saturday, I proceeded to try to make some fabric face masks for when I return to work and need to use public transport.  These were a lot trickier and take up to an hour to get right because of all the folds you need to make in them. I've tried to devise a more efficient way to make them than the original one I made a few weeks ago, from which I realised that only thin elastic, less than 4mm wide stops your ears sticking out. I've just ordered some more on eBay. Here's a picture of one I made:





It has different fabric front and back so you don't put a dirty mask back on the wrong way. I need to make quite a few more in the next couple of weeks, which I should have time to do now I've finished the voluntary project.

It was interesting to see that eBay are now selling hundreds of handmade fabric masks.  When I was looking on the site before the lockdown, there was very little choice, but now the market is flooded with them, which is a good thing, as many people will be making them to earn money to help them get through the financial devastation of the lockdown and many people will be looking to buy them for going back to work.

As a consequence of the above, this week has been quite a busy one, plus the fact that OH has started to decorate this week, but I'm really enjoying myself. I have rediscovered my sewing mojo and it feels great to know that lots of fabric is finding a good use and not sitting in drawers unused. It's funny isn't it how as soon as you start to declutter an area, you find a reason to use the items it holds. I love the serendipity of that.