Monday, 29 June 2009

Five Unimportant Things I love

MakingGoodUse wrote a post the other day called Six Unimportant Things I Love and invited readers to take part so I thought it might be fun to give it a go, although I'm afraid I could only think of 5 things and I'm not so sure that these are unimportant enough. So, in no particular order, as they say on TV (when they have really been chosen in order to have most impact) here they are:

1. Piles of Novels. I love books and to see piles of them reminds me of how much pleasure I've had and that there is yet to come from reading them. I've read most of the ones in this photo but am reluctant to get rid of a book that I have enjoyed. I am determined though to start listing the books I'm unlikely to read again and try to sell them. My main pile of unread books is on the floor but I didn't take a picture of that because of the mess that surrounds it!

2. Piles of Craft Books. These are about half of the crafting books I own. I love looking through them when they are new and then being able to dip into them for inspiration when I want ideas. (The cathedral window cushion at the top of the photo is one I made over 20 years ago.)

3. Magazines. There seems to be a theme developing here for reading material of one form or another. I've cut down on buying magazines in the last year or two but I do subscribe to Zest and occasionally buy Country Living. Zest covers such a wide range of issues and helps to keep me ispired in my effort to keep fit and healthy. CL has such beautiful photography and styling and I've recently been enjoying the series they've had about running your own business from home.

4. My Blueberry Bushes. Sorry it's not a very good photo but I haven't mastered the art of close-ups yet. I love blueberries so to avoid having to pay the expensive shop prices and throw away all the plastic containers they come in, I bought 3 bushes for the garden. They haven't produced much fruit in the previous 2 years but have plenty of green berries at the moment that will hopefully develop into tasty purple ones soon. In previous years the birds have got to the few berries we had before we could but we've got them covered this year to prevent that happening, so fingers crossed!

5. My Favourite Photo of my Children. This picture is about 18 years old but is still one of my favourites. We used to take the children to this bluebell wood every year at the same time and take photos when they were little. I love that she has her arm around his shoulders and they both look so natural. I'm not sure if you can see it, but he has a toy car in his hand - he hardly went anywhere without at least one.

Well, I enjoyed thinking about things that I love and choosing those pictures. I'll follow with a couple more that I took while practicing close-ups.

A delicious bowl of strawberris freshly picked from the garden.

A couple of plants in the sunshine. I don't know what the top one is called but the rose is called Carefree Days.
Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 19 June 2009

Books and Bags

I've already slipped up on one of my aims for a simple life as you can see from the books below that I've recenly bought. In my defence, they were all second hand from Amazon and are mostly to help me with another of the aims (to use less chemicals/packaging). I think you can get a bigger picture by clicking on it, then you can see that one is about uses for vinegar, one about bicarb and one is Better Basics for the Home which according to Amazon "offers over 800 simple and practical alternatives to common household toxins, covering everything from skin care to gardening. And the good news is that adopting her suggestions and formulas isn't hard at all."

I'm looking forward to reading all these but I have had a scan through the 4th book here which is Vegetarian Cooking Without. I decided to become vegetarian about a year ago and also needed to find some recipes that had no sugar in the ingredients, especially cakes and desserts. I'm looking forward to trying some of the recipes.

I managed to fit in time to make the drawstring bags for my sister and niece which I gave to them this week - a little late I must admit. They were very simple and turned out quite well. Some of the fabric was new, some left over from another project and some thrifted. Inside each I put some natural, handmade soaps and a face-cloth that I knitted. My sister looked a bit bemused by the face-cloth and I had to tell her what it was for which was quite funny.

As it's Father's Day on Sunday and my dad is diabetic, I'm thinking of trying out one of the recipes in the Vegetarian Cooking Without book for him. I'll post the results soon if they're any good.

I'm afraid the thought of Christmas presents popped into my head the other day, quite unprompted. I was looking at patchwork table runners and thought they'd be a good idea for some relatives. The first step will be to look at their dining rooms/kitchens to decide on a colour scheme. I know I'll have to start soon if I want to get them done by December and doing the same for them all will hopefully get them done quicker.

I nearly forgot to mention - These photos were taken with my new camera so I hope they are a lot better than previous ones. Still got lots of practicing to do though.

Bye for now

Teresa x

Monday, 15 June 2009

Annual Music Festival

What a brilliant weekend's weather we had for our local annual Music Festival. As usual the village was buzzing with people going from one venue to the next and music could be heard wherever we went. Almost every public building in the village was occupied with a concert, gig, workshop or performance of some kind including the hotel, 2 pubs, school, castle, golf club, church and chapel. It was an impressive work of organisation and much praise should go to the organising committee and volunteers who worked hard all week to make sure all ran smoothly.

Needless to say that each year, this particular weekend is a complete write-off as regards doing anything at home is concerned. But I wouldn't miss it for the world. We have been blessed with fantastic weather every year so far and we have always had a fantastic time.

Above is the Tredegar Orpheus Male Voice Choir performing on Sunday afternoon at the castle. An ideal setting for such an occasion, completed by a picnic.

Also on Sunday we went to the see the Abba tribute band perform at the hotel. They were brilliant and everyone had great fun dancing and singing along, with many good sports dressed in 70's costume.

I was back at work today and need to catch up on some sleep and housework (and sewing) but would do exactly the same next year!!

My new camera arrived today so hopefully the quality of my pictures will improve. It's a Fuji FinePix F60 fd. I read some good reviews for it and took the plunge and ordered it even though I don't know much about cameras. It came within 1 working day from which was quite impressive.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Photo Header

I decided, on impulse, to try to add a photo to head my blog and it was much easier than I expected. My first try filled the whole screen so I started again, ticked the correct boxes and here it is! Nothing to do with stitching I know but a nice scene never-the-less. I'll change it when I have a new camera and a better quality photo to post but, for now, it's nice just to have a bit of colour. Here's a random photo from our holiday in March just to add a bit of je ne sais quoi to this post. This is the path back to our chalet from the town centre. I think our chalet was the one directly above the end of the path with the lighter brown balconies. Just look at that blue, blue sky and the icing sugar snow - beautiful!!

(I don't know why the writing at the top is underlined. I moved it from under the photo and that's what happened.)

Bye for now
Teresa x

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Can You Spot the Well? and Simple Living

Taking advantage of a brief burst of sunshine amidst an otherwise wet and dismal weekend, I took a picture of the Well opposite our house. It looks so quaint at this time of year with all the greenery surrounding it and the hostas filling out on the bank. Can you see the Well? It's in the dark hole to the right of the stone wall at the back of the gravel path. It doesn't look like how you would imagine a well to be. It's not very deep but always has clear, fresh water in it up to the same level and it was in use by the houses in our street in living memory. Our neighbour still uses it to water the garden. Turn completely around in the opposite direction and there's the front of my house with my tomato plants (in the pots either side of the bench surrounded by Busy Lizzies) and my lettuce leaves beginning to shoot (the taller pot in the shadow). This is part of my effort to live more simply/healthily and spend less money.

On the subject of Simple Living, I've made a list of aims that come to mind and once again will list them here as a reminder. Some of them are very simple actions but things I aim to do none the less:

- Start a spending record book in June 09 to get a picture of where our money is going.
- Grow lettuce, tomatoes, something else (maybe radish) in pots (husband plants the garden) Water and feed regularly.
- Cut down grocery/household spending (Spending on this was slowly creeping up and it wasn’t just the increase in prices. I wasn’t putting enough thought into what I was buying. I’ve already cut down by about 20% a week and hope to reduce further.)
- Pick Blueberries before they fall off or birds get them (maybe cover until ready – this should be the first year we get more than half a dozen berries)
- Don’t waste produce from garden (preserve in some way or give away surplus)
- Simple pleasures (free activities, pastimes)
- Visit library (buy fewer books/magazines)
- Read books that I already have.
- Make money from crafting (including saving by making homemade presents)
- Continue adding to £2 saver jar
- Start selling clutter/unwanted items/books on ebay/Amazon/Green Metropolis
- Downshifting in general (get into a new mindset of not needing to buy things, although I’ve never been one to want the latest gadgets or designer clothes etc)
- Try to keep up with doing more of my own ironing (I pay a friend to do it quite often as it’s the one job I never seem to have time to do)
- Cut down on the amount I eat!! Sometimes I eat when I’m not hungry and just because I like food and like eating. I don’t need to lose weight but this is still a wasteful, unnecessary habit.

I'm sure there must be more to add if I keep thinking but if I waited until I've thought of everything I'd never finish the list. I wish I knew how to add a separate page to my blog to list these and update them more easily. If anyone reads this and knows how to do that, I'd be grateful for the information.

A start has been made on some of the list as you saw from the photo. The tomatoes and lettuce are well on the way, the blueberry bushes and strawberry plants have been covered to protect from birds and I've started a spending diary. The spending diary's been a bit of an eye opener. It's surprising how much it adds up although there are a couple of out of the ordinary largish spends that are unlikely to be repeated after this month, so maybe this wasn't a good time to start this.

Anyway, I'm pleased to be on the way with these aims although I won't be able to devote as much time to it as I'd like until my work situation changes.

Wishing you a good week
Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 5 June 2009

Another Cushion and a "Sack Boy"

Since I haven't made enough progress on my quilts to be worth showing, here are a couple of views of a cushion I made for my 2nd sister last year. It's made from 4" patches I bought from ebay and the border/binding are also thrifted supplies. The back is envelope style with a 3 button fastening. (Note to self - must remember to take photos of back views too!)

I managed to finish the Sack Boy in time for my nephew's birthday and he was very pleased with it. I was relieved that he and his friends recognised it straight away and thought it was 'cool', because, although I had a pattern to follow, I'd never seen this character before.

Getting it to stand up was a bit tricky with him being so top heavy.

My plan now is to make drawstring toilet bags for a couple more birthdays coming up. Looking at the next few days though, I can't see when I'm going to have the time and the first one needs to be ready for the 10th.
My monthly quilting club day is tomorrow followed by a church BBQ. Hopefully, we will also fit in a run in the morning. We went for a run yesterday evening which is the first time we've managed to fit 2 into a week. We must make more effort to keep it up because I'm doing the Race for Life at the end of the month and want to try and beat my best time which is 32 mins.
Bye for now
Teresa x