Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Fruits of Our Labours

I should really say "The Fruits of His Labours" because it is my OH who does most of the work in the garden. Well, his work is beginning to pay off because a steady crop is being harvested now. The blueberries aren't very prolific but there's usually enough every few days to add to a desert for the 2 of us (DS doesn't tend to eat deserts).

I've started pickling the beetroot to make sure that none goes to waste. This is my first jar this year and I've also done another one that's twice the size.

The runner beans are producing quite a good crop already, even though the plants don't seem to be fully mature yet! To make the most of the single day of good weather this week, I sat on a garden bench in the sun on Saturday cutting these up for the freezer.

The carrots are also a decent size now; here are a few that were pulled on Saturday to use over the weekend. The redcurrents are from my organic box delivery.

Progress of a different kind is also being made in the garden. My OH has almost finished lining the inside of the shed with tongue and groove and has added some decking at the front to make steps. He's also taken advantage of a couple of dry spells to stain some more of the outside. The colour he started with on the back and side was too orangey so he's continuing the rest with a lighter, more honey-like colour.

You might well wonder what I've been up to while all this hard work has been going on. Well, I've been quite busy but haven't got much to show for it. Isn't it always the same with housework. Apart from doing the beans and picklng the beetroot, I made some scones and did lots of cleaning, washing and sorting; all with one eye on my sewing projects.
I managed a bit of cutting out of "Rail Fence" blocks one evening and had an hour last night to make a tiny amount of progress on my hexagons. A couple of weeks ago I tried some paper foundation piecing for one of my on-going-quilt blocks so I'll try and get around to showing that soon.
Bye for now
Teresa x

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Weekend Walking in the Woods

We looked after my daughter's dogs again last weekend while she went to T4 on the beach in Western-Super-Mare with her boyfriend & my son. They had a fantastic time and, because they set off early and got there around 6am, they had a good position in the crowd not far from the stage catwalk. I don't know how they can bear being pushed and shoved and trodden on while standing up for hours on end in the middle of a 45,000 strong crowd, but we watched some of it on TV and everyone was having a brilliant time.

In complete contrast, my OH and I took their dogs to a place where there were no other people at all! We began taking a National Trust path through some woodland.................

...........then out into a wheat field................

........where the crop looked almost ready to harvest.
We walked around the wheat field and into a field of curious cattle. At this point, we put the dogs on their leads in case they decided to chase the cattle or vice versa. During a brief rain shower we sheltered under a large spreading tree with an audience. From here we had one more field to cross and we were back where we started. It was a lovely afternoon which, despite being a bit wet and windy, was warm and fresh. We live surrounded by some beautiful countryside but, not having dogs ourselves, tend not to go out amongst it 'just because'.... , so it's good to have these opportunities to appreciate our local area.

When we got home I spotted a couple of bags of fabric that I was given by a very generous lady at work so, as I had the camera still with me, I pulled it all out to see what there was and took a picture. There was a lovely variety of upholstery and curtain fabric which I started sorting and washing straight away ready to iron and tidy up.
There was a bit of a hiccough while washing the first load when the washing maching stopped and showed an error message on the screen, but we soon realised it was because there was a problem with the water pressure and by time we phoned the council it had already been fixed.
We're now starting to reap the benefits of planting the garden earlier in the year. Yesterday, we had some beetroot, carrots and runner beans. When they get to be too many to eat, I'll pickle the beetrot and freeze the beans. The carrots will keep well in a container of peat. It also won't be long before we have some tomatoes ready to eat so I'm looking forward to those.
Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 13 July 2009

Sewing and Singing

Another busy weekend has ended with more singing and sewing. I managed to finish this drawsting bag and pouch for a friend who's birthday was this week and who I met up with for a lovely meal out and a catch-up on Saturday evening. I just wish I could remember where I got the pattern from for the bag to credit them. The instructions for the little zipped pouch came from here. I modified it only a little, in that I took smaller triangles while shapng the corners so it was not so tall.

The singing this weekend took the form of a church service Sunday morning and another performance of The Witness at a church about 25 miles away. A few more dates are still to go but we've got a break now until September. Also taking a break for the summer are choir practice, singing lessons and ladies group so hopefully that will leave more time for sewing!

The meal I had out with my friend on Saturday was the second time in a week that I'd had a meal at the same place (my OH suggested we go there after our run/jog on Thursday and I'd already booked a table for Saturday). Our son came jogging with us and then to the meal along with our daughter and her OH, so it turned into a nice family occasion. I have a work meal out on Wednesday at a Thai restaurant and the last ladies group meeting before the break on Thursday which will be a BBQ. It sometimes happens like that and several functions crop up all at the same time!

I mentioned to my daugher a while ago that I forgot to photograph the bag I made for her to show here so she kindly took a photo and emailed it to me. The pattern is the same one I used for my own bag in a previous post but with less taken on the corners so it is not so boxy. She chose a couple of the fabrics and then I added to them with co-ordinating colours from my stash and patched it all together. It's basically a split 9 patch with extras added around the edge to make the full size.

When I made my list of aims for simple living, I also started a list of things I wanted to do. Not fancy or impossible-to-achieve things - just things I'd like to do one day, with a bit of thought and planning in some cases. I then immediately forgot about it until I checked the list so I think I'd better record it here too - to give me a bit of motivation.
- Visit Scotland
- Take a holiday in a Yurt
- Reduce the amount of hours I’m out at work.
- Sell my craft work
- Finish my quilts
- Run 5k in under 30 mins & 10k in under an hour
I was hoping to finish the Race for Life in under 30 mins this year but health issues slowed me down a bit so I was pleased with 34 mins. I've entered a 10k run for Sept so we must step up the training now.
In an update on "The Shed" - OH has begun painting the outside with a wood stain and cladding the inside with tongue and groove. More progress soon, hopefully with pictures!
Bye for now
Teresa x

Thursday, 9 July 2009

The Shed Has Arrived!!

I was excited on the way home from work yesterday because I knew that our new shed/summerhouse would have been delivered and I wasn't disappointed. It's a good size but not too overpowering which I was a bit concerned about. This is the view of it from our front door and below that the view from in the garden.

I'm looking forward to collecting all my sewing equipment and clutter from all the places it's currently piling up around the house and having it in one place. Before that though it needs to be stained on the outside to protect from the weather. Inside, we plan to clad the walls for insulation, line the ceiling between the beams and add a floor covering. I'll then make curtains and get some shelves put up. I'm considering 2-tier curtains as it might be useful to have them so that the top can be opened independently of the bottom.

Watch this space! But progress may be slow..............

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 6 July 2009

A Simple Living/Aim Update and a Bit of Thrifting

On Saturday I went to my monthly quilting club day where we were given the kind opportunity to benefit from the sad death of one of the former members by buying fabric from her stash that had been donated to the club. I didn't know the lady but I'm grateful to the family for thinking of us. I was lucky enough to acquire the pile above for £1.

This pile was vey kindly given to me by my daughter's boyfriend's mother after she heard that I was trying to quilt without buying new fabric and I'm very grateful to her too. I was also fortunate to find a very large piece of plain cream fabric (not pictured) in a charity shop for £3 that will be useful for backing/sashing etc. The browns and beiges will be added to the pile for my quilt-as you-go quilt and the rest will go to good use.

I've had a few lucky finds in charity shops over the last couple of weeks. This lovely skirt with appliqued flowers cost me £4. One of the leaves needs a bit of mending but apart from that it's perfect. I don't know where it was from originally because the label was cut out but could have been M&S.

This colourful dress which is from BHS was also £4 and will be ideal for taking on holiday. The shoes that can just be seen were £4.25 and are from Next. They'll also get plenty of use on holiday and through the summer.

Over the month of June I've been quite good in keeping my spending record up to date. I'm afraid it was a month with some unusual one-offs which made it much higher than it would normally be (that's what I'm hoping anyway). It was difficult to tell with it being my first go.

General summary of monthly efforts at simple living

- Grocery shopping. Generally 20% down on previous costs on average over the month
- Eating out. Ate out 3 times this month which is a bit more than average
- Lunches bought instead of making own - 1 (pretty good effort)
- Magazines bought. 1 (on top of 1 subscription)
- Home grown produce. Froze quite a lot of strawberries (may make jam with them). Used salad leaves a few times (unfortunately going to seed now - could have made better use of them)
- Baking/food from scratch. Potato salad, coleslaw and scones to take to daughters for BBQ.
- Throwing away less. Stopped using kitchen roll and started making recycled cloths to use instead.

Non-spending earnings
I've been trying to find ways of earning a little extra without spending much. This month I joined 'yougov' which is a site which collects statistics for various markets. You register your details and they send you surveys to complete now and then which you could earn money from. At the moment I've only accrued £1 for joining and entered one competition.

- Credit card cashback. £3.95 (I never pay any interest, only pay off balance each month)
- Competiion win. £50 voucher for clothes.

This has been a useful exercise for me and hopefully will get more helpful as I continue. I can then compare months and eventually years.

We're getting a shed/summer house for the garden this week and hopfully it'll be where all my sewing paraphenalia will go. It will be lovely to have it in one place and de-clutter the house a bit. More news and photos on that to come.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

A Time for Stitching?

I sometimes think my blog name should have a question mark after it, if not 2 or 3!! I love doing stitching of all kinds; knitting,crochet, machine and hand sewing, but only ever seem to find the odd half an hour or hour to do it and that's usually later in the evening when the light's not so good and I have to borrow my OH's glasses to thread the needles! But, saying all that, I don't always regret the things that take me away from stitching. Last weekend was a typical example. It was very busy but diverse and I enjoyed every minute of it. To top it all the weather was lovely.

On Saturday afternoon I went with my daughter and OH to Dumelm Mill for a mooch around. I bought a couple of bits and pieces incuding a pinking shears with the remainder of my birthday money from March (not an earthshattering event I know, but I very rarely go out just to browse for the sake of it).

The picture above is a singing group I belong to who performed the musical "The Witness" on Saturday evening. (I am in the middle with the black T-shirt). There IS an audience there despite the misleading photo. My dad took it and he's sitting in front of everyone. We've performed this once before and have dates for several more performances in churches around our area.

I also take singing lessons with a different group of people and we have a concert oranised for this Friday. I'm apprehensive about it because the arrangements aren't going very smoothly and I don't feel I know my songs well enough. We have one more lesson to practice tonight so we'll see how it goes.

I was hoping Sunday would be a little cooler because I'd entered the Race for Life in a nearby town. But no such luck, so the 2000 or so runners/walkers on the day competed in hot and humid conditions. Not that there was much competing going on; it was all for fun and charity. I managed to finish in 34 minutes which I was quite pleased about considering the conditions. My dad and my OH came with me for support and when the race was over we settled down for a very welcome picnic in the park where it was held before moving on to a Country Fair at Garn Lakes, where my daughter was helping to promote a local Community Farm with her boyfriend, who works there.
It was a lovely setting for an afternoon out. Luckily they had plenty of cover and shade for the animals they took with them. These were mainly rabbits and guinea pigs that the children could hold and learn about.
So all in all it was a memorable weekend and I was not sorry to have had no stitching time. If I had to spend a whole weekend doing chores and housework, then I would be sorry, very sorry!!!
Time to knucle down to a bit now though - and I have a block to quilt by hand for Saturday and want to make a present for a friend who's birthday is soon.
Bye for now
Teresa x

PS I don't know why my landscape photos are so dark. I thought I'd lightened them before I saved them and the weather was anything but dark.