Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Its Curtains for the Shed!

Having had Friday off work as well as the Monday this Bank Holiday I was able to get quite alot done. I helped DD at 2 Body Shop parties, went out with friends a couple of times and managed to get a respectable amount of housework and baking done. The job I was most happy to finish was sewing the curtains for the shed which I made from a double sheet I bought from a charity shop.  It feels much more cosy in there now.

 Inside view.

 Outside view closed.

 Outside view open.
As you can see it was a lovely sunny day yesterday and felt quite warm in the sun, but step into a shadow and the feeling was very different, as were the evenings.  Very autumnal to say the least (and only a month early!)
 As my offering for a party we went to I took Honey-Nut Muffins (what else!) and also baked a couple of Fruity Tea Loaves and a loaf of bread (which I haven't done for a while) for ourselves. 

I wanted to post before and after photos of these shabby looking items today but the 'after' will  have to wait.  My OH removed the edging and fabric from the tops and I painted them yesterday but I still have to choose new fabric for the tops and possible other finishing touches.  When finished they will go in the shed to increase the storage for me to get more of my stuff out there.  It's getting there!!  I'll move in soon!!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 23 August 2010

Lovely Books!

There's been a bit of book buying around here recently.  Mainly for presents.  I thought I may as well get them while I think about it in case I forget until it's too late to order them.

This Smallholder's Manual is for my DD's boyfriend who's birthday is in November.  He'd love to have his own place with a bit of land and is very experienced in working with animals.  I just hope this isn't too basic for him because I don't know too much about it. 
 This one is for my DS for Christmas.  He saw it while we were visiting The Lost Gardens of Heligan on holiday and showed an interest in it, so I said I'd get it for him.  While searching for this image I saw that there's also a blog associated with it (which coincidentally has The Woodland House in its reading list) so I'll tell him about that too.
 Any fan of Grand Designs on Channel 4 will have seen the episode featuring Ben Law and his woodland house.  We recently saw a follow-up episode which showed that he's now married with 2 children (and has extended the house accordingly) and they are all happily living an idyllic existence from the land. It reminded me that I was intending to get it  for my OH for Christmas.
 Finally, I have been looking out for A Thousand Splendid Suns in charity shops since I read The Kite Runner by the same author, and managed to find a copy a couple of weeks ago.  It's now on my 'to-read' pile.
No photos to show from the weekend I'm afraid and it was very similar to last week with heavy rain on the Saturday and better on Sunday.  However, the rain didn't spoil my enjoyment of a lovely, long, leisurely lunch out with a friend.  She's been busy setting up a new Life Coaching business so it was good to catch up and find out all about it.  Her flat is on the market and she's hoping to move back to our village, nearer to her parents, which will also make it easier to meet up.

Sunday included church in the morning and curtain sewing in the evening with a bit of housework in between.  I'll definitely get some pictures taken when they're done.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

A Weekend of Two Halves! and A Bit of Barter!


What can you do when it feels like autumn and pours with rain all day, but bake!
Ginger Biscuits from the recipe book that came with my cooker and yummy, light shortbread from my DS's Cook with Jamie.
Gloriously sunny and warm!  Ideal for taking a few pics out in the garden. 

(The cottage garden border has filled out nicely)

The subject of  Tales from a Stone Cottage in Country Living this month is bartering in the countryside, albeit with a comical twist. According to Aly, there are 3 stages of bartering that go something like this:
1 Bartering home grown produce;
2 Bartering items made with home grown produce i.e. jams and chutneys; and finally
3 Bartering services i.e. lawn mowing, pet watching.
This sounds about right to me although, perhaps, not in quite so structured a manner where you have to achieve one stage before you can qualify for the next!

(I love the colour of this holyhock which is growing tall and strong.  Must be well over 6ft.)

Thinking about bartering while wandering around the garden, I was at first dissapointed to think we didn't do it much. Then as more and more instances came back to me I realised we did it more than I thought.  It's just that it's such an integral part of life that we don't think of it as bartering.  And we don't ususally, as the article suggests, expect anything in return (but it's a welcome surprise).
(The one and only apple on young tree No 1)

I then thought further and it occured to me that bartering must go on in some form in every country of the world.  (Not that it's a very original thought - I just hadn't considered it before).  I expect the experience is very similar throughout the Western World but it would be interesting to know what happens in places like India, Africa and The Arctic. 

(The one and only apple on young tree No 2)

Here are my examples:
-Runner beans we gave to a passing friend who later left a jar of raspberry jam on the doorstep.
-Rhubarb, beetroot and cooking apples we give to my auntie up the road who leaves apple pies, custard slices and millionaires shortbread on our garden bench. :-)
-My OH cutting an overgrown hedge for a friend who will spray OH's tractor panels in return.
-Church members bringing produce and leaving it in the porch for the congregation to help themselves.
-The Vicar announcing in chuch that she has raspberries or blackberries ready in her garden for picking
Plus lots of general lending and borrowing of tools, baking ingredients and skills too many to mention (and many forgotton).
(The knarled old Bramley groaning with apples)

On the stiching front, I have cut out the curtains for my shed at last, from the charity shop sheet (a tongue-twister if ever I heard one) I bought especially.  Results hopefully before too long!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 13 August 2010

Random Ramblings!

The new Blogger in Draft has some useful additions (especially for someone as Blogologically challenged as me).  The more realistic looking preview is nice but what I like most are the new photo uploading method and the easily accessible Stats.  The photos are now attached in the order in which I load them and I can see a little preview to make sure they're the ones I want.  On the Stats page I saw recently that someone had searched for 'how-to-find-time-to-stitch' and ended up on my blog.  How disappointed they must have been. They won't have found much help with that here!!  In fact, I think I might do a search on that myself :-)

 Look at what I found in the kitchen at work with a note attached saying 'Free to a Good Home'!! 
 This is where I spent part of my evening yesterday (well, half an hour of it anyway).  It's what our friends jokingly refer to as our 'gym' - in the same way as they call my shed the 'studio'.  My OH bought this treadmill recently and, as we were waiting for delivery, he painted the walls and floor of our outside yard to accommodate it (there's a roof too so it's not completely open to the elements, but it's going to be a tad chilly in the winter).  I think the old lockers he brought home and painted add an authentic touch - they're not there to store our gym gear though.  Oh no.....they're for storing recycling and home made preserves but don't tell anyone, it spoils the illusion!!
I've done a little stitching (or preparation for it) in one way or another every evening this week but I've not got anything interesting enough to show for it.  I don't want to be one of those bloggers that takes a picture of every square I cut out or every row I knit until you're almost fed up with the finished item before you see it.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A Concert and A Ceilidh!

This blog should be called "My Weekend Diary" or something similar because that's what it's turning out to be mostly about.  Never mind, I'll keep plodding on with it and let it take me wherever it leads!
I had the day off work on Friday to prepare for our concert in the evening.  Rehearsals (with an accompanist none of us had met before) began at 4pm and I have to say, if anything could have gone wrong, it did!! None of us got through a song without a mistake and, in some cases, lots of  mistakes!!  This didn't do anything to help our nervousness and there was no time to try again.  The performance went much better but mostly because we kept valiantly singing through the mistakes and hoped they weren't noticed.  At the end we sang A Clare Benedition and We'll Keep a Welcome to our teacher and there was more than one tearful eye when we finished. Who knows what's going to happen now - Craig says he'll choose us a few songs to work on then come back sometime in September to coach us but even that will eventually fizzle out and we'll have to make a decision!!
Isn't this a fantasic view!!!! As soon as I uploaded it I had to make it my Desktop image.  It's such a relaxing scene to look at.  Do you see the white farmhouse just above the third post on the right?  We are on our way there to a Church Ceilidh and Hog Roast in a barn.

I was a little late and the dancing was well under way when I got there.  Before I had chance to join them we were called to the marquee for supper and unfortunately I didn't get to dance at all because I had to leave (with my Mum, Dad and Auntie) before it started again, to go to my niece's 21st birthday party.  It was a shame that they clashed on the same evening as we couldn't really do justice to either event.

The weekend also saw me getting a routine eye test and as a result I am on the slippery slope to grannydom!  Only joking!  I don't mind really, but I agreed to get glasses for driving (for safety really) as I have one short-sighted eye and one long-sighted eye.  I relied on the receptionist to choose a style for me as I haven't got a clue, and as I'll probably just keep them in the car I don't mind too much what they look like.  I've a pair at home that I bought for about £3.99, with very slight magnification, to wear when I'm sewing or knitting in poor light, but for everyday activities I'm fine without them.
I'll finish today with big thank yous for all the amazing comments you've been sending me.  I am astounded by the connections I've made here and love the fact that some of you overseas readers are learning new things from me (and me from you)!!  It makes it more 'real' to hear about these things from actual lives than to read it in books or see it on TV!!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 6 August 2010

"A Very Merry Unbirthday to Me"?

First, I want to say what a fantastic show we saw on Monday.  Les Miserables is an amazing feat for all the performers and backstage crew.  Everything about it was stunning from the singing and acting to the many, many scene changes (so smoothly done) to the costumes and music. We thoroughly enjoyed it and would happily watch it over again (if it didn't cost so much!) as many people do.
Now, to the subject for today. As I sat at my desk in work the other day, my boss came in carrying a big white box containing an enormous white chocolate cheesecake and a bithday card.  Now, before anyone starts sending me birthday wishes - IT WAS NOT MY BIRTHDAY!

 Let me explain. If people know about a birthday in our office they will, at least, buy a card and all sign it.
There was a birthday in the office recently (and a Cheesecake Fornight where we had a cheesecake everyday for two weeks - but that's another story).  Anyway, the recent birthday got people wondering when mine was and they realised they's missed it (it was in March!) and decided to make up for it!!!
A few things then fell into place. Like a colleague asking me, at the time of the other birthday, when mine was (and me smugly answering that they'd missed it) and another time asking me which was my favourite of all the cheesecakes we'd had during our recent cheesecake fortnight (don't ask!). I actually said the damson and white choc was my favourite but the lady who makes the cheesecakes had no damsons left and used raspberries instead.  She even sent in one of the damsons from her tree to prove they were not ready yet this year.   I put an earring next to it to show how tiny it was. 

 Here's my slice.  I expect you're wondering how I managed to hold off from eating it to take a pic.  Well, it wasn't easy, but I managed it!

"You don't have to be mad to work here but it helps.!!"

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 2 August 2010

Stitching and Singing!

There's been a serious lack of any news on stitching and singing around here lately so here are a few little snippets of what's been going on. 

Cutting out squares from the fabrics left over from my quilt-as-you -go quilt. I'm going to team these with a lighter plain fabric in triangles, see how many I end up with, then decide what to do with them (What? - it's how I work!)
 Preparing another block for quilting. It's all tacked down and marked up!
 Finishing the binding on my mini-quilt made from left overs (what else!).  Just need to put a couple of hanging loops on the back.
 I don't know what to do with it now!!  It doesn't really suit any room in our house.  Maybe I'll start a stock of things to sell and this can be the first item. 

I also had a yearning for yarn yesterday and got out the kniting needles and crochet hooks.  If my plans work out I'll report on that sometime too.

Last week at work we held our annual cricket match and BBQ.  You  can tell how seriously they take it (or not) by the state of the kit they're wearting.  It was more fun this year because we made up two teams internally instead of playing an external company who would take it very seriously, turn up in complete 'whites', thrash us, fill up on the free BBQ and then leave!
As OH and I had no fixed commitments on Saturday I suggested we went to the cinema (I got to choose).  We saw Toy Story 3 and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I found it so funny and clever, and there was so much going on, I'm sure we must have missed something.  In fact, I learned this morning via Facebook that we missed a rude hidden message!  I wasn't tempted to click on the link to find out what it was but may have to wheedle it out of my nephew sometime!
I'm so looking forward to tonight.  We're going to the theatre in Bristol to see Les Miserables!  It's first on my list for a must-see show.  I know the story and love listening to the fabulous music on CD but have never seen the show.  There's a local chap who runs coach trips to the theatre for charity so, as soon as we heard it was on, my sister contacted him to see if he had a coach going and a crowd of about 12 of us are goin.
Oh........and I nearly forgot. How could I!!!  The latest singing news is that our teacher is finally leaving us to become a minister!  I've mixed feelings about this.  In the beginning I felt some benefit from the lessons but more recently have come to think I've gone as far as I can with him, but we've been with him for 5 years so it will be a sad occasion.  That is, the concert on Friday will be a sad occasion. 

Oh no, another concert and I feel less prepared than ever!!  I'm going to be singing Evergreen by Barbra Streisand, An Old Fashioned Wedding from Annie Get Your Gun with Brinley and Lakme's Flower Duet with my sister as well as a couple of group pieces.  The trouble is (and I may have mentioned this before) that our teacher cannot play the keyboard.  He just about manages a plonk, plonk with one finger, to pick out the tune.  So when we get to the pre-concert rehearsal (also on Friday) we will never have sung any of the pieces with an accompaniment!!!!!!  I can't emphasise enough how vital that is for confidence in knowing when to come in and what note to start on.  He says he'll conduct (and he does) but quite honestly, that's not enough!
( I hope the utube links work.  I don't know what the last one is like but whatever it is we'll be dropping the pitch a smidgen!)

No sure whether I'll try to find another teacher sometime but for a little while I'll enjoy having Wednesday evenings free. :-)

Bye for now
Teresa x