Thursday, 31 March 2022

A New Week and Another Twist

After my last post, which ended in a very negative way, I just wanted to apologise to anyone who may have been offended. I really didn't need to be quite so literal in my description of what happened on Saturday night and it wasn't fair to inflict that on my readers. I think I was still in shock.  So I apologise for that and there will be no graphic language in this post.

This week has been another challenging one. After a couple of days off on Sunday and Monday, I returned to work on Tuesday. Before I'd even put my bike away, one of the volunteers who had helped to run the shop the day before, called to say that she had tested positive for Covid and I was informed that the intern who had been left to run the shop on Monday and who was present in the shop, was also feeling unwell.

As a consequence, the first hour or so was spent calling and emailing around the 7 or 8 volunteers who had been working the day before, to warn them that they may need to take a test in the next day or so, as they had had contact with someone who had had a positive test. I eventually managed to contact each one of them, so hopefully they will have received the messages/emails. I wasn't sure how many of them would return to the shop later in the week.

My focus was then on getting hold of some lateral flow tests, so that our intern, who was visiting the UK from abroad, could take a test. A volunteer who lives locally, kindly volunteered to go home and bring some back to the shop, so that he could test himself. Fortunately, his test was negative, but as he was feeling unwell and to minimise risk to others, I sent him home to rest. 

Sadly, the drama didn't end there, as when another volunteer came in in the afternoon, they tested positive too and had to go home, which left just myself and one other volunteer for the rest of the afternoon. As a consequence, I had to work on the till, which was okay, as I quite enjoy it and never get the chance normally. We limped through the rest of the day, but I wasn't sure if we'd remain open or what was going to happen for the rest of the week.

On Wednesday, I tested negative again and headed into work for 10am. One volunteer and the intern didn't turn up, so it was just me and one other volunteer until some new volunteers arrived at 12noon. I had to get them trained up on the till in one hour and then they spent the afternoon getting used to it, as there were no other volunteers to do it, as two more volunteers had called to say they wouldn't be coming in. They did well though.

On Thursday, my day at the shop started out a bit manic, as I had two collections arranged, one of which I had no knowledge of and had to scramble around collating the items they were coming to collect. Eventually, though the collections were done and things calmed down a little and I was able to do some work in the stockroom. I decided to price some bags, as the pile was getting very high and a few people had come into the shop asking for specific types of bags.

Later, I managed to get out to the bank. I was quite glad of the long queue, as I could just chill whilst I waited in line. I did some clothes and homewares pricing when I got back and then did the last 20 minutes on the till, so it was a varied day. I had to ride home whilst it was snowing lightly. It was so cold. It felt so good to get home and relax, knowing that I'm done for the week and hopefully next week too.

When I got home, I decided to look for some accommodation for us all to get away for a few days. I'm desperate for a break. We managed to book a lovely little cottage on the East Coast of Yorkshire, near Spurn Point, for a short stay. I can't wait to go and we'll be able to visit family too, which is a bonus. A super positive end to the week.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

A Slightly More Interesting Weekend

After returning to work for two days on Thursday and Friday last week, I was free on Saturday to attend a local Zero Waste event, to which I took a couple of bags of unwanted stuff. I was glad to take them and free up a bit of space in the sewing room. I'm always putting aside things I no longer want or need and they build up over time.

The event was at a new venue in the playground of a primary school. Luckily, there was a car park I could drive into, which is very unusual for these events, and which made it much easier to drop off and allowed me the opportunity to have a look around for once and see if there was anything I wanted to take home with me.

It was a lovely sunny morning, perfect for this kind of event. I didn't take much home, just a hand brush to go with the dustpan in the kitchen. The other thing I brought home with me was this book which I have started reading and am enjoying:

The remainder of Saturday I spent working on my Diamond Fields patchwork project. I am limited as to how big I can make this quilt, as I have a limited amount of the grey background fabric. To date, it's looking like it will be a lapsized quilt/wall hanging. I've also decided to start making super small hexies again, from fabric in my scrap basket. I'm not sure what I'm going to make from them yet, but it's fun making them and using up otherwise unusable bits of fabric. Waste not, want not, etc.

On Sunday, I had to get up at 5.30am to take OH to the airport to catch a flight to Spain. He's gone away for a few days with some cycling buddies, so I am on double dog walking duties and all other dog care in his absence.

As I had to get up so early, I decided to make it worth my while by checking out if there were any car boot sales in the vicinity of the airport and as luck would have it, a rather large one was restarting that morning, so I decided to take the dog with me and it doubled as her walk for the morning.

Here's a picture of the car boot in a large field:

I was there very early (7am) and as a consequence I had to pay more to get in at that time. I found out when I left, that it only cost £1 after 9am, so in future, if I decide to go again, it will be after this time. There were, however, long queues of people waiting to get in as I left at 9.30am. 

The boot sale itself was pretty big, with lots of stalls, some selling new stuff, some second hand. I enjoyed a good walk around, but I didn't have a whole lot of money with me, and to be honest I didn't see a whole lot of stuff that I needed. I did buy the following though:

This small lacqured box with a bird motif for 50p. (I have a very small collection of boxes with birds painted on them.)

A large unopened bottle of Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum for LB, a gift for next Christmas, it's her favourite tipple. This was £10 and was an unwanted gift. It would probably cost twice this amount if I bought it at the supermarket.

I managed to find three wine glasses for £1, which we urgently needed. I did buy some new ones at Christmas, but they are too tall to go in the top tray of the dishwasher and too fragile to go in the bottom tray, so I will donate them.  These are a much better size and are a bit more sturdy.

I also bought a box of Rescue Remedy lozenges which are supposed to be good for clarity and composure. They are orange and elderflower flavoured with added vitamins and taste nice enough. They are out of date, but I didn't pay much for them and I don't worry too much about such things.

Another thing I bought was this collander for 50p. It said on the back that it could only be handwashed, but I've put it in the dishwasher regardless and it seems to have come out okay. I think the copper colour on the bottom probably wears off in the dishwasher, but I'm not too concerned about this.

Finally, I bought some fruit from a stall selling it by the bowl. I bought tangerines, bananas, plums, flat peaches, grapes, avocados and melons, all for £7. I think I would have paid a lot more for these at the supermarket. The quality was pretty good too.

I was pretty restrained on this occasion, but I would probably go back, even though it is a 30+ minute drive from London, as there are very few car boot sales in and around where I live and it makes for a good morning out on a Sunday.

Having said this, I did get lost on the way back, due mainly to some road closures and I ended up almost in Ealing, West London, which was very annoying. I found myself going the wrong way on the a circular road around London and didn't realise until I'd got this far west. I did get home eventually, but what a waste of petrol and time. Not cool.

I spent the afternoon continuing with my patchwork and I have to admit that I did go back to bed for a couple of hours after such an early start. All in all, it was a slightly more interesting weekend.

Thursday, 17 March 2022

A New Week

This week, I'm feeling much better, having largely recovered from the worst cold that I've had in years. I'm still quite congested nasally, but other than that I'm feeling more or less back to normal. It does feel like I've lost a week somehow though.

This week I have had four days off in a row, as I changed from working on Tuesday, to working on Friday. This was actually quite useful, as it gave me the opportunity to do some work around the house, which desperately needed doing.

Monday, was the usual gym class and weekly shop kind of day, so nothing else got done, but Tuesday was a bit more productive.

I started the day, having booked a slot at the local refuse tip, to take lots of junk there. Between OH and I, we managed to fully fill the car with rubbish to take, which has created a little more room here and there. I also have another pile of stuff to take to a Zero Waste Hub this weekend, which will free up a bit more space too, so it's a kind of clear out week that we're having here this week.

The only exception to this, is that with everything that is going on in the world, I made the decision in the last week, to put together a home emergency kit of sorts, that might be useful in the event of power outages, etc. I've purchased a few things such as battery operated lanterns, candles, tealights, matches, batteries, etc., that we can reach for should there be any difficulty with power supply of any sort. There's a few other things I need to get before I feel I've completed the kit, but I know that I'll feel a lot more secure knowing that I won't need to rush around trying to buy these things, once they've already disappeared from the shelves of the shops. They may, hopefully, of course, never be needed, but I do like to be prepared and nothing is perishable in any case.

On Tuesday afternoon, I decided to tackle the cleaning of the front bedroom. It was still covered in a layer of dust after having the front sash windows replaced. Now OH has finished what he needs to do in there for the moment, I could go ahead and clean up a bit. This in turn, also freed up more space in the sewing room, where I had stored many of the bits and pieces from the book shelves for the duration.

It took a good three hours, just to clean the bookshelves and one side of the room, afterwhich I felt quite tired and called it a day. Later, in the evening, I also tackled the mountainous pile of ironing that has accumulated lately.

On Wednesday afternoon, I continued with the cleaning of the bedroom and managed to clean almost all of it, save for the bookshelves in the opposite alcove, which I'll have to tackle another day. There was so much dust on top of and even inside the wardrobe. It feels good to finally get it cleaned up.

It felt like I had a productive few days off anyway, although there is still a lot more cleaning to do in the house at the moment. I've found it hard to knuckle down and do it in recent weeks with one thing or another.

Today, however, I'm heading back to work. I hope you've had a productive week.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

A Catch Up

It's been over a week since I've posted, mainly because I was getting back into a routine after returning to work. My first week back was okay, save for the commute by bike, which was made a bit more precarious by the Tube strikes, which created  a lot more traffic on the roads making some drivers more aggressive and agitated. Sadly, a woman was killed, quite close to where I work in Central London, after being knocked off her bike. It saddens and scares me to hear such tragic news.

Another reason for not posting has been the tragic war in Ukraine, which has constantly been on my mind for the past two weeks. I know it's probably not the done thing to mention such a heinous thing here in blogland, but I can't continue to post and just ignore what is going on in the world. It colours everything. I sent off some things via a local church last week and I am hoping they will be useful. I know someone who has a relative in the East of the Ukraine and is unable to get out, and my thoughts are constantly with them.

Anyway, at work, I felt I had made progress on my first week back, but on Sunday night I started with the symptoms of a cold. I had a really prickly throat for a day or so, followed by streaming nose, congestion, cough, etc. I had to stay at home on Tuesday, as I wasn't well enough to go back to work. I don't know if it was because I haven't had a cold for a couple of years or what, but this cold was a pretty horrible one. The most I could do at home was to just quietly sit sewing my new patchwork quilt. The only plus of being unwell, was that I made some progress on this and have now started to sew the diamonds together, so it is starting to take shape.  

Here's a picture:

Anyway, by Thursday I was feeling a lot better and after taking a PCR test, which was negative, I headed back into work. I decided to get the bus, as I still wasn't feeling 100% and didn't feel strong enough to ride the bike.  Work was okay, still not many clothing donations. It seems to be becoming a permanent feature of our shop post-lockdown, sadly. We are still getting plenty of other donations such as books, homewares, shoes, etc., but just struggling in terms of clothing. Could it be a sign that people are buying less and donating less? I doubt it, more likely people are still working from home and not dropping donations to us. Anyway, we do what we can with what we get. I was able to spend time pricing a few different things today, which is always enjoyable. It makes my work more varied when I'm not pricing clothing all the time, although I do enjoy it.

On Friday, I was feeling a lot better. I did a small top-up shop at ASDA. I found this week that I had more money in my bank account than I thought, as I'd taken some outgoings off the balance twice.  That was a bonus and I felt much less financially challenged as a consequence.

I ordered a few things off eBay this week. Just small, practical things that I need for the house, garden or my sewing projects. They didn't cost much, but I'll have a few parcels coming my way in the next few weeks, which is always a little exciting. I don't really feel the need to spend a lot of money at the moment. I think two weeks of having very little discretionary spending money, has helped to break the habit of buying things just because I want to. It has made me very focussed on what I need and what I don't. I don't really want for anything and with prices rising all around us, this is probably a good place to be at the moment. I have plenty of jobs to do around the house to keep me busy and out of the shops in my spare time.

In other news, the dog has recovered well from an operation she had a couple of weeks ago. She needed some teeth removing, which were causing her a lot of pain and some fatty lumps removing, and she seems to be back to her normal self, which is nice to see. OH even managed to remove a couple of non-dissolvable stitches that had been put in one of her wounds yesterday.

LB is back working front of house at a local theatre and seems to be enjoying it. It is good to see her getting out and about again, as she hasn't had any money to do anything for a month or two now. She has applied for her student finance for University and I now have to complete the parent financial assessment part of the application, but need to get information from work, as I don't receive paper payslips, everything is digital.

OH is going away for a few days this month on a cycling holiday to Spain with some friends. I'm sure he will have a great time. In the meantime, I need to check my passport and see if I have enough time left on it for our family holiday later this year. We're also going to Spain, but via a ferry and taking the dog with us in our cabin. It's the first time we've attempted this, so it will be interesting to see how it works out. We still need to get her a health certificate to travel though and find some pet friendly accommodation.

For entertainment, we are currently part way through the current series of Succession which is good. OH subscribed to NOW TV, so that we could watch it and we are intending to also watch the series called Mayor of Easttown with Kate Winslet, before cancelling the subscription. We've also really enjoyed watching all three series of Ricky Gervais' After Life on Netflix, which has had us in fits of hysterics at times, something that doesn't happen often. Laughing is so therapeutic.

I hope that you are finding things to lighten your mood in these dark times that we are living in.

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Making a Loose Armchair Cover

About a year ago, I embarked on a brand new project to make a removable armchair cover for an armchair that we bought a number of years ago, when OH's dad came to visit one Christmas. It was bought inexpensively last minute, and he didn't actually find it comfortable to sit in, but we did and have enjoyed it ever since.  

The trouble was, it wasn't very attractive, it was a bit dirty and worse for wear and it didn't really fit in with our decor. I'd tried stretch covers, but they didn't fit well and were a synthetic type of fabric that I didn't really like.  

As a consequence, we considered getting rid of it when we bought a new armchair and footstool for the living room, but in the end we decided to keep it, as it is a very comfortable chair to sit in and we could imagine it as a lovely reading chair. I then decided that I would try to piece together a removable cover for it.  

Here's the chair in question:

To make the cover, I basically draped the chair with fabric and cut the fabric around it's different features, i.e. the wings, the back, the arms and the seat. It took quite a while to do and was quite tricky, but once the pieces were pinned together it began to take shape.

Here's a photo at the end of the pinning stage:

The fabric I used was from a large pair of dark grey linen IKEA curtains, which I think I might have bought at a charity shop, but I can't actually remember. I managed to incorporate the curtain tape around the bottom of the chair to create a finished edge, which saved a bit of sewing and (to be honest) because I was too lazy to unpick it all.

Once pinned together, I proceeded to tack and then machine sew the pieces together on my machine and then try it back on the chair. It's not a perfectly tight fit, but then loose covers shouldn't be, but I'm happy enough with it, especially considering it's my very first attempt at making these.

Having machine stitched it together, it was left in situ on the chair for probably six months or more, until this last week when I took it off and continued work on it. I finished tacking and then machine stitching the velcro into place at the front and back, so that it could easily be put on and pulled off the chair when it needs a wash and this concluded the main body of the project.

All I then needed to do was to make a cover for the seat cushion. Looking at the original, it had a zip along the back edge, so I tried to make the cushion cover in the same way. I needed to use the second of the two IKEA curtains for this purpose, but I didn't use a whole lot of it thankfully, as I want to use the remainder for a new patchwork project.

I didn't expect the cushion cover to take too long to make, but sometimes it's the things that seem most straightforward that take longer. Eventually, after much pinning/tacking/untacking/pinning/tacking and then finally machine stitching, I managed to get it done. Fortunately, I had a long grey zip in my stash that I could use as the fastening. I didn't pipe the edges, like the original, and it's not perfect, but it looked okay regardless. It was just great to finally finish this project after such a long time.  

Here's a picture of the finished result:



There are strips of velcro down the entire back of the cover at each side which make it very easy to take off and put on again, and also shorter strips of velcro on the bottom part at the front.

I'm super happy with it. It means we could save the chair from landfill and still enjoy using it and it probably saved us hundreds of pounds, which is how much it would have cost to get a cover made by someone else, as they can be very expensive.  It was a different sewing challenge for me, but one that brought a lot of satisfaction. It challenged me, but I met the challenge head on and succeeded and that's a great feeling.

I'm now looking forward to actually enjoying the pleasure of just sitting in it again and simply reading a good book. Bliss.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

A Weekend of Getting Things Done

This weekend, which also constituted the last few days of my week off, has been all about getting things ticked off my long outstanding to do list. Some of the items have been on there for over a year, and it was high time that they were completed.  

The first project I decided to tackle, was to adjust one of the aprons that I made for use at work and change it into a slightly different style. This meant cutting the original apron in half, gathering the skirt section and adding a waistband and fabric ties to the waistband and the neck. I got one apron completely converted and ready to use this weekend and also started work on a second, which I'll try to finish on one of my days off next week. Here's a picture of the one I finished:

(Please excuse it's crumpled appearance, I haven't ironed it)

I then decided to try to finish a removable armchair cover, that I'd started making over a year ago. Most of the cover itself was already completed, save for sewing on some velcro, but I also needed to make a cushion cover for the seat cushion.  As this was a big project, I have made a separate post about the completion of it.

In between working on the chair cover, I created some pieces for my new paper pieced quilt project. Here are some of the diamonds I've completed so far:

This project is definitely going to be a major stash buster, which is great. It feels good to use some of this fabric. Some, I've already used for projects, and others I've never quite found the right project for. It is also going to be a long term project. I've already cut out over 600 paper pieces ready to use and I may need to cut the same again, once I've used these. It's very hard to say at this stage.  I relish a challenge though.

As it took most of the weekend to finish the chair cover, I was finally able to cross it of my 'to do list' on Monday evening, when I finally machine sewed the cushion cover together.  Once again, it wasn't perfect, but I was very happy to finally finish it, as it has definitely been a challenge.

I now feel that I can go back to wor,  knowing that I have made some definite progress on my week off. My 'to do list' is several items lighter (although there are always more things to add to it) and I can finally use the chair again and also enjoy my new quilt. I'm hoping it will spur me on to complete a few more of the other items that are still outstanding over the next few weeks, when I get some free time.