Made from scrap

Made from scrap
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Monday, 7 October 2013

Testing Testing...Ask Me What I am Knitting...

I know...long time no see.  I do think about Blogland but I just don't make time to write.  I am not sure if I will or if I won't but it is all ok.  I have wondered about moving Blogs...fresh starts are always, erm...refreshing?  I do miss my Blog buddies but I know you are all still out there doing your thing.

If you ask me what I am knitting, I will gently correct you and say 'actually this is crochet'.  I am currently working on a pink Granny stripe piece for this Peace scarf.

I absolutely love a peace protest, especially when it involves yarn...and so much the better if it is pink.  As the mother of two boys, I like to work in pink!  The more lurid the better.  If you click this link it will take you to the website 'Wool Against Weapons' and it will tell you all about it.  I am happy to have my crochet Mojo back.  I can't photograph my bit yet, because my camera cable has disappeared. I still need to have a quiet word with the dog and ask her what my phone charger was doing in her basket, along with a stolen 'Apple and Cinnamon' muffin.  She is a very clever dog, I never catch her in the act of being 'naughty'.
I have finished making and collecting Premature Baby clothes for now, I have not forgot I need to update you with photographs of the lovely bundle of makes that I have to donate.  We have a holiday in three weeks I will try and drop it off at the hospital then.  Hospitals are always in need of these things...I guess my timing is not crucial.
           If anyone did feel particularly motivated to crochet or knit a square or two in a lurid shade of pink, I would be more than happy to piece them together and send them off to 'Wool Against Weapons'.  You know how to get in touch with me.  It would be great to hear from you.  XXX

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Things That Go Bump In The Night...

I had a bit of an exciting visitor to the garden last night.  It was exciting for the dog who alerted me to it by non stop barking, late!  I went outside to see if it was a cat or I half expected a rat.  I hoped it was not a fox as the internal door from the chicken coop fell off in my hand on Sunday night so the girls are barricaded in at bedtime until I can repair the coop.  (I will repair it asap!  Jeesh, first the sewing machine, now I will be let loose with a hammer and nails).
      I had my camera at the ready, always a great form of protection I think when your 'guard dog' goes off in the night, yeah grab your camera and venture outside.  I have the attitude that an intruder would have to be pretty brave or daft to choose our house.   I had a bit of camera trouble in the pitch black.  I took nine shots identical to the one above because it was too dark for me to see what all the buttons were on my camera and the flash kept being silly.  The shade of black in each picture maybe slightly different.  I couldn't see what I was pointing at in the dark.  I thought that taking photographs of chickens and camera shy dogs is tricky.  Taking photographs of nocturnal, wild creatures, late at night is in another realm altogether.  I think this one may have been poorly.  I also think the three times that the flash did decide to go off was not appreciated.
It is a shame the flash reflected in the Hedgehogs eye.  It ran away and hid for a while and was very still.  It didn't curl up in a ball though.  It was a big Hedgehog.  I wonder if 'it' was a 'she' and she is in the 'family way'.  Usually Hedgehogs are pretty fast this one was slow.  I put some water down and I put a small amount of raw beef down.  It seemed interested but too frightened while I was out there.
Very cute.  I don't know if they bite?  My Mom told me when I was small that Hedgehogs have lots of fleas.  It looks like it would be like picking up a cactus.
This is my third and final hedgehoggy shot, it is very similar to my first two hedgehoggy shots but I am proud  three out of twelve photographs actually included the subject.  The Hedgehog turned around and ran to the wall by the garden shed.  It jumped off the wall with about a half meter drop.  I did not know Hedgehogs could jump,  perhaps blinded by the flash, it fell!  It made a lot of snuffly, snorty noises, maybe it bumped its nose in the fall and then I heard it scamper off and rustle in some leaves.   Lots of slugs and snails used to live by the shed and I only thought the other day that they have all gone.  I think this hedgehog may be in residence rather than just passing by.  Maybe we could have hoglets in the garden.  The dog will love that.   I love the word hoglet. 


Friday, 31 May 2013

Colourful Crochet

Things have not gone to plan this week.  We have had a wet Half Term week.   It means cabin fever creeps in and the floors get muddy.  We have been quite happily housebound.  When we have popped out we have got soaked for our efforts.  Today it is sunny with blue sky.  The chickens are on the lawn as even they have been cooped up for a few days.
         'Every cloud has a silver lining' they say.  While I was tidying, ahem, well attempting to tidy but there are too many distractions.  I found the thimble, it was in the vicinity of the sewing box.   We like thimbles back in their rightful place.
I also found a whole pack of 'Rico Creative Cotton' that had fallen behind a cupboard and been long forgotten.  So the housework got forgotten too and I played with colourful yarn instead.  It was a nice, neat new pack but I forgot to photograph it.   I still have plenty left to play with.

   I have wanted to explore crochet mandalas and had a go at Crochet with Raymond's free pattern for the 'African Flower Mandala'.  I think my colour choices were adventurous to say the least.
I followed this tutorial from 'Beckycafe'  the other Mandala.  Mandalas are the perfect procrastination project.  They are quick, cheerful and if you use 100% cotton they make functional pot holders.  I think there is something kaleidoscopic about them, as I was unsure what effect the next round of colour and stitches were going to have.  ( I still have all the ends to sew in but shhh don't tell anyone).  If you search Google images for crochet Mandalas there are some amazing ones out there.  You can get lost for quite a while just looking.          
          The following collage should probably carry a health warning.  Due to the shocking colours, the mismatched stripes and the not very round Mandalas, it seems to be triggering motion sickness for myself if I stare at it for too long.  I don't recommend scrolling up and down.  The 'stripes' are washcloths, you can't beat a 100% cotton, crochet wash cloth in my humble opinion.
Wet holidays are not all bad.  I really should go, too much yarn and too little time and a laundry mountain to tackle.  XXX

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Nemesis and Hunt The Thimble

  This photograph makes me laugh with it's unlikelihood.  The kitchen table.  The Iron and the Sewing Machine together in one shot, (and a Basil plant).  I got the ironing board out today and the dog ran away.  That is how accustomed she is to me ironing.  I think the ironing board is older than me though and it does open with an ominous creak and clatter.  I can count on my fingers how many times I have used the sewing machine and I have managed to break a needle already.   I have decided this machine has to be called 'Nemesis'.
         I had the brainwave that 'Napkins' for my trusty 'Picnic Basket' would be a good beginners project to teach myself how to sew.  With the help of the foolproof diagram that is actually printed and numbered in sequence on the machine, I can 'remember' how to thread her up.  Sometimes I could just lie down and quit at this stage though.  Threading a machine/needle can be as lucky as a 'hole in one' and then there are times when you really would think it would be easier to get 'a camel through the eye of the needle'.  I think I may need an eye test, threading a needle is getting increasingly challenging over the years. NB:  I have found the light!  On the sewing machine.  It makes threading the needle a lot easier! Tut!
 These fat quarter bundles found their way into my basket. I thought sewing 'napkins' would be 'a breeze'.   The penny has finally dropped about 'sewing'.  Measuring and ironing can outweigh the actual sewing part in time consumption.  Nobody told me that!  I spent hours measuring, pinning and pressing a 1/4 inch double hem on each napkin.  (I don't even know what quarter of an inch is as I am fully decimalised).  Ironing can be quite good fun when it is in preparation for sewing and the material is pretty.  Work clothes and school uniforms are almost impossible to iron.  Nemesis is allegedly capable of sixty different stitches, I am still at the stage of praying for mastery over just one of those stitches.
I would like to be able to show you six completed napkins, I really would.  This 'simple little napkin project' is dragging on a bit now.  I am not brave enough to machine sew the trim on each napkin.  It would be futile to try as I cannot even sew in a straight line.  The trim is to hide the 'bad bits' on some of the napkins on the others the 'bad bits' are already sufficiently disguised.  I decided Napkin No. 1, needed to be 'double trimmed' with ribbon and ric rac.  The ribbon has the white stitching already on it which kind of gives the illusion of some straight lines to the napkin.  Hand sewing never entered into the plan at the the start of this simple 'learn to use the sewing machine' project.  I really needed to use a thimble to help me sew through a double layer of trim and a double hem.  (Ouch, one finger is still recovering).  I found my silver thimble that was my grandmother's 21st Birthday present.  In fact it is my only thimble.  It makes sewing a lot less painful but much more awkward.  I think my grandmother was born in 1902, so it is an old and much loved thimble.  I last saw it a couple of days ago!  I found Euan wearing it. I took it off him and told him it was very old and I would not be happy if he lost it. I have not seen it since.  We are on Half Term break here for the week and today will include housework, a 'game' of 'Hunt The Thimble' and hopefully some more sewing later. . .

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Too Eggciting!

I was not really expecting an egg any time soon although Euan and I have noticed the 'girls' have suddenly grown up in the last week.  Instead of being nervous they have been coming out of the coop with a 'swag on', hens with attitude. Their combs have really grown and are bright red.  I also heard their first proper 'cluck' this week and it was rather noisy and assertive.  I went up the garden last night with a torch to say goodnight and fox proof the coop for the night.  These girls have high security living conditions!  I shone the torch into the nest box to complete the head count...yep both chickens present and correct and an egg!  It is very exciting to find the first egg, well I think so anyway.  It was a very small egg but none the less an egg.  'The Egg' is the one on the left next to a commercial egg,  Euan couldn't quite believe me this morning when I woke him up and showed it to him.  He shot out of bed, donned his dressing gown and wellies (rather a good look) and ran up the garden.  He was delighted to find two more eggs.  Chickens are the perfect pets with benefits.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

A Ramble About Bluebells And Blossom (and maybe some other stuff thrown in for good measure).

Last weekend we enjoyed a scorcher of a Bank Holiday.  Very unusual for the UK.  We are usually washed out ( a bit like this weekend).  I got up nice and early to walk the dog.  I was rewarded by seeing my first Bluebells of the year.  I do love Bluebells. I used to pick great big bunches of them when I was a little girl and give them to my Nana.  She would patiently tell me that she preferred to see wild flowers growing and not in a jar but I was a one for picking flowers.
I have no idea what this flower is but I like it, what a deep colour.  I have some Merino fibre dyed this colour somewhere.  It is left over from one of my first handspun projects.  I blended Natural Grey Gotland fleece with dyed Merino and crocheted a very warm shawl.

   I have used 'Wild Flowers' as inspiration for creating handspun yarns, Daffodil, Beaded Flower Meadow and a Beaded Cherry Blossom yarns. I will write a separate blog post about them.  I would like to spin a 'Bluebell yarn' one day but I have too many projects to get on with for now.
The dog loves the meadows and so do I.  We know about the wildlife down here, especially the fox!  I have seriously gone off foxes.  Lacey likes to chase the rabbits, squirrels and birds.  She never comes close to catching anything but it does not stop her from trying.
This May blossom stretched right around the meadows.  Today one week  later this blossom has all gone.
Lacey simply will not pose for a photograph, but I worked out the best way to photograph her is not to want her in the shot,  then she will pop up all over the place in front of the camera.  I wanted to photograph the Horse Chestnut trees, or Conker Twees as they are commonly referred to in our house.  I have seriously lost count of the amount of times Euan has got stuck in these very trees.  It never seems to stop him from climbing them again and I always know what is coming next.  'Never work with children or animals' they say.
My Mom used to walk to this church for Sunday School,  from about the age of four, with her older brothers and her friends.  My family have been walking around here for decades.  Times have changed, Euan will soon be nine and I would not let him go so far from home.
I really was pleased to see my first lone clump of Bluebells for the year but nothing beats a woodland carpet of Bluebells in my opinion.  They have a really lovely fragrance too.
 Wild Garlic in contrast to the Bluebells don't arf pong.  It seems to be having a great year this year and is growing in abundance.  I harvested some, finely chopped it and sprinkled it over tomatoes, aubergine and courgettes, drizzled with olive oil it was delicious roasted.  Henry made the mistake of picking it and putting it in his coat pocket once when he was little and the smell seemed to intensify, it was rather aromatic!
I usually pause on the bridge over the river and see if I can spot a Kingfisher.  I have seen one a couple of times here, but not for a long time.  I would love to see the flash of bright, electric blue again one day.  For the whole walk the birds were busy singing.
  Back home I am greeted by this llittle apple tree.  My Mom gave it to me about five years ago for my birthday.  The variety is 'Greensleeves'.
My Mom is a 'musician' although I have not heard her play for years.  When she was younger she played the piano and clarinet in an orchestra and performed in concerts.  She worked as a music teacher in a school and we would also have students come to the house.  I can remember her playing 'Greensleeves' on an old piano that used to be in our living room.  She would  hum 'Greensleeves' as a lullaby to me when I was small.  This may be too much information but she actually hummed it to me when I was in the throws of labour having Henry.  I am not sure it did much to calm me down but I can remember her trying.  It is one of my favourite pieces of music.
             I have never seen so much blossom on one little tree.  My Neighbour has two apples trees and they have hardly any blossom.  Apple trees are a bit like that, you have to make the most of the good years.
Most of the buds are now open and the petals will soon fall like confetti.  I am glad I remembered to photograph the blossom before it is gone.  I will be sorry to see it go but after a patient wait for a few months the apples will be delicious.  I am rather getting my hopes up there will be loads of them.  I have plans for those apples.  To the left of the apple tree is a plum tree.  I was really disappointed as it has only had two flowers this year.  You can't win em all.  I am going to have a very long wait for some plum jam.
           I really should give you a quick update on my other 'Bluebell and Blossom'.  I am pleased to report they have settled into the coop happily.  They are no longer terrified and they are more than happy to oblige me in some 'chicken chat'.  They seem to be growing well and I am not surprised as they are packing away enough food.  I can pick both of them up and they do not mind at all.  I have not let them 'free range' yet because I think they are still too young and flighty (yes contrary to popular belief chickens can be flighty).  I don't want to lose anymore chickens.  I think we are still a long way off any eggs as they are so young.  They were sold as at 'point of lay' but I think I was a bit naive.  These girls can't even cluck in a grown up fashion let alone lay an egg.  They do make the garden feel like a happier place though.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Care Instructions

I spotted these labels and  had the 'wantsies' very badly.  I ordered them from Leafcutter Designs and they arrived today.  I think they are very cute.  I just need to work on acquiring the woodstove.  If you follow the link you can read about some very interesting projects for environmentally friendly clothes.  Sadly the large majority of my clothes are mass produced.  If I could only wear hand made clothes I would look like a sack of rags as my sewing skills are non existent.  I made one skirt at school, many moons ago and it was not even wearable.  I used a rather nice herring bone tweed.   I miscalculated the waistband somehow and had great trouble sewing the 'darts'.  I also hit my finger a few times with the machine needle and that hurts.  My machine sewing days were over before they even began.
      I saw this photograph over at Paloma Textiles, I think I could rustle up this sassy little crochet number.  I have always had a secret yearning for a pair of Granny Square trousers.
      I also love the work of One Man Crochet, you should really check this blog out.  Matthew is obsessive about crochet, by his own confession.  He runs a social crochet group in Cardiff and used to teach crochet lessons.

I think you either love or hate this look, personally I love it and wish everybody dressed like this.  I am sure it would go down a bomb in my home town if I stepped out wearing a Crochet Ripple tunic with Granny Stripe trousers.  The odd flip flops and the yarn bombed staff do it for me too.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Bluebell and Blossom are slowly settling in. . .

Here is Blossom and Bluebell ready for day three in their new home.  Bluebell has the blue leg ring.  I can actually tell these ladies apart because they have got different markings.  They are 'Rhode Rocks' a Hybrid.  My other three 'ginger' chickens were like clones.  With the first chickens I was amazed to discover each chicken had her own personality and we really bonded as we had them since they were eggs.  They were very used to being handled as they lived in our living room for 6-8 weeks!  They were in a brood box under a heat lamp, they did not free range around the house.  I am not quite that dotty.  There was  one day when the dog opened their gate and invited them into the house last Summer.  I never fall asleep on the sofa but I did that day.  I woke up to find two chickens watching the television (they always loved the tv) and there was another happily exploring the kitchen.  The dog looked mightily pleased with herself.  I am sure they saw me as 'The Mother Hen' and I felt the weight of responsibility.  They always greeted me with abundant enthusiasm.
         I do not look at a live chicken and think 'dinner'. . .well not very often any way.  When the others sat under the sage bush, I could not help thinking about the delicious combination.  . .baaaadddd chicken mama!  I can't believe I love chickens but still eat chicken.  Euan has a policy 'we do not eat animals that we know'.   That is quite noble and good news for the dog and the budgie.  I think in an ideal world we would only eat animals we know, then we could be sure that the animals we ate had lives free from 'pain or distress'.  I am not cut out for farming at all however much I like to think I am and the whole 'to eat meat or not to eat meat debate' is a massive and often controversial topic.  Having 'pet' chickens has made me realise they are not a food product, they are happy, intelligent, sentient beings that are able to experience pain and pleasure.  My girls used to like a trip to the 'Beauty Salon' and enjoyed a 'wash and blow dry' pamper experience and would happily cluck away under the hair dryer.
         Blossom and Bluebell are very different to our previous chickens.  They don't know me at all yet and it is a bit sad that they think I am very frightening.  I had not seen them venture out at all.  Euan had a steady stream of children going up and down the garden last night to show off his new 'sisters'.  I think all of the kids on our street have had a formal introduction now.  He assured me he had seen them both out and eating and drinking.  I went up to the coop this morning to take a photograph of them huddled in the next box.  I was surprised to see them out, they were surprised to see me too but they did not run away.  I am talking to them in my 'nicest, as reassuring as I can get' voice and I am telling them nice things.  I don't think it would be a good idea for me to transcribe a 'chicken chat' for you because you never know who is reading your blog and I do not want the men in white coats to arrive to take me away.  I haven't heard a cluck yet but they are making cute little 'coo's and peeps'.  This morning they looked a little bit interested in what I had to say rather than just plain terrified and they chatted back a tiny bit, so I think we are making progress.  I know I need to handle them regularly so they are not afraid but I really don't want to traumatise the poor things.  I can't trust them to free range yet because catching a terrified chicken is no easy task.
 I am amazed my little apple tree is not so little this year and it is smothered in blossom.  Soon the garden will have oodles of fruit that the chickens can  happily  gorge themselves on.  A chicken doing standing jumps for the fattest raspberry is quite a sight.  We will be competing to harvest the blackcurrants too. It is all happening in the garden again.  I have seedlings and vegetable plants and lots of chicken wire.  It is a long weekend as Monday is a Bank Holiday. . . I do love a Bank Holiday.  
Hope you are having a good weekend.  XXX   

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Happy Days

Euan has an extra day off school today as it is the local elections and his school is a polling station.  I had a dream last night that was very realistic.  I dreamt that I found two of our old chickens alive and well.  I was so happy to see them.  When I woke up I was a bit sad.  Of course chickens do not come back after a visit from Mr Fox.  The dream planted a seed.  What do you do with a beautiful, sunny, extra day off school?  Firstly Euan wanted to visit my Aunt who has been really unwell.  Thankfully she is on the mend and it was lovely to see her.
      Then off we went in search of some new 'chickens'.   I did not promise we would get any.  Euan is a chip off the old block and loves animals.   Once we saw the chickens for sale there was no way we were coming home without any.  We managed to choose only two.  That will be quite enough for starters.  These two ladies were in a pen with about thirty mixed hybrids.  They were sat on the same rung of a ladder together and they looked like firm friends.  It was a fairly easy decision. I am sure the guy said they are 'Barred Rock' chickens but I have just googled and they do not look like the pictures that came up.  For now we have mystery chickens.  They are at point of lay, which makes them about five months old.
      Euan hugged the box all the way home and he is very glad to have 'chicken sisters' again.  He was promising them a good life and told them he would treat them like queens.  By the time we got them home he had named them, Blossom and Bluebell.  We have both had a cuddle with each of them and I have put rings on their legs to help know who is who.  They must be tired and frightened as they are very gentle.  We have made the coop lovely again and they have moved in.  They do look frightened though, so we have left them to have some peace and quiet.  When I have finished writing this post I am going to make mugs of tea and we will go and chat to them up the garden.  
I think this smile says it all.  I am delighted to be a chicken mama again too.  I will not be forgetting to lock the coop ever again!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Happy To Be In A Spin

Not only did last week zoom past in a blur, I can not believe it was two years ago since we had our Alpaca Adventure.  My concept of time is all over the place.  Does it happen like this for anyone else or is it just me?  It has been far too long since I have had some quality time with my spinning wheel, literally months.  Yesterday I had a rare couple of hours to myself and I ignored the housework piling up around me (crafters are good at turning a blind eye to the trivial stuff in favour of expressing our creative genius)!  I do not think it is a good idea to store my spinning wheel next to Bob the Budgie for long periods of time, I had to blow lots of little blue feathers away.
When we win the Lottery Euan and I would like to become farmers...we would specialise in Free Range Poultry (eggs only of course).  We would also like alpaca, pygmy goats and pigs.  Any other cute critters would be a bonus.   There is just one problem with this plan, I never buy Lottery tickets! 
  I bought a gorgeous black alpaca fleece from the farm on the day of our visit and it has sat patiently waiting for my time and attention.  I already had a white fleece.  Then somebody gave me several sacks of alpaca fleece in beautiful shades of copper and brown.  The shed is bulging at the seams with fleece as I also have several sheep varieties!  It's ok, it really is, I do not have a stash hoarding problem!  Do I?  Short of finding Rumpelstiltskin it aint gonna spin itself.  I do not believe in saving the best until last.  Life is too short.  So yesterday I chose to start spinning with the best fleece I have.  The fleece belonged to a handsome male alpaca called Ace.  Ace is sadly no more and I see it as a fine tribute to him if I can turn his fleece into something beautiful.  I have a preference for using locally sourced fleece where possible.
 This is 'raw' fleece, unwashed.  You can see it has a good crimp.  We spinners admire such things as 'crimp'. I really am no expert but I know this fleece is a beauty and I have spun some beasts!  My very first fleece was a Hebridean that looked like it came of a sasquatch and I knitted Bullet Proof Socks.  You can wash and card your alpaca fleece if you prefer but I am spinning it in the raw, unwashed state.  Individual spinners each have their own preference, there is no right or wrong way to do it it my humble opinion.  Alpaca fleece has no lanolin like wool, it has no grease and no smell, alpaca are much cleaner than sheep.  Alpaca do not get mucky but they do like a dust bath and there is a very small amount of grass seeds and vegetable matter in the fleece but I just take it out as I spin.  It feels very natural and organic to spin this way.
 Slowly but surely this bobbin will fill up.  Then I will fill another bobbin and ply the two together.  I have Navaho plied alpaca before for peg loom weaving and I had a very chunky yarn.  Some of you may remember my 'Trouble with Tribbles'.   Navajo plying creates a 3 ply yarn.  I am aiming for something finer and will two ply this.  This is a long slow process and this fleece will keep me busy for months.  I have delusions of grandeur that I will be wearing a beautiful, hand knit or crochet, alpaca cardigan.  I may be waiting a few years.  It is a good job I am in no rush.
          Alpaca fleece has some amazing qualities over wool I blogged about it Here last year and there is a photograph too of my fleece mountain!   Come the 'Alpacalips' this fleece mountain of mine will be a real asset.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Who stole my week?

I can not believe how the weeks and months are rolling on by!  It is ok though because I am just hanging on for the ride and life is good.  My crafting Mojo is yet to return.  It has not left me altogether, my head is full of 'crafty' stuff.  Not a day goes by without daydreams that contain brightly coloured yarn!  I may have to timetable crafty stuff into my day because it really does make me feel happy to make and do.  I have a crochet project to finish, a knitting project to finish, mountains of fleece to spin and in my decluttering exploits I unearthed some really cute vintage fabric I have had for 20+ years.  It was vintage when I got now it must be approaching antique!   Life is about doing more of what makes you happy and less of the stuff that makes you unhappy, right?  I will have to stop thinking and start doing. I am going to get stuck in to spinning some gorgeous black Alpaca fleece.  I have been been feeling the love for my spinning wheels again and they look lonely and neglected.
      I also need to find more time to read especially as my Blog Buddy  Joan has sent me 'The Secret Scripture'.  Joan volunteers as a 'book giver' for World Book Night.  Isn't that a great idea?  You go along and pick up your books and then it is your job to 'gift' them out to people.  I have told you before about The Fifty Book Challenge.   I think I have read a grand total of three so far!  I have already asked if I can cheat and include 'Mr Men' books and Ladybird books.  I can manage books with more pictures than writing at the moment.  The rate I am reading I will be 50 before I complete the 50 book challenge.   Joan has sent a copy of this book to those of use taking part in the challenge and we are going to do a 'read along'. Timed perfectly for the Bank Holiday Weekend.  I have visions of me getting so far behind in this read along!  Reading the blurb it sounds like this book will be 'my cup of tea' (especially if the sun is shining and I can get some peace in the garden);

"Nearing her one-hundredth birthday, Roseanne McNulty faces an uncertain future, as the Roscommon Regional Mental hospital where she's spent the best part of her adult life prepares for closure. Over the weeks leading up to this upheaval, she talks often with her psychiatrist Dr Grene, and their relationship intensifies and complicates. Told through their respective journals, the story that emerges is at once shocking and deeply beautiful. Refracted through the haze of memory and retelling, Roseanne's story becomes an alternative, secret history of Ireland's changing character and the story of a life blighted by terrible mistreatment and ignorance, and yet marked still by love and passion and hope."

In my 'former' life I used to work with adults with 'Learning disabilities and Challenging behaviour'.  They had spent their adult life in institutions.  Many large 'hospitals' were closed and the clients were moved into 'care in the community homes'.  Much smaller and more homely homes.  This was a really positive and progressive change.  Some of the 'carers'/nurses moved with the clients and would talk about how things worked in the larger institutions.  The move to smaller 'homes' greatly improved the quality of life for many individuals.  In the larger 'hospitals' patients slept on wards, often clothes, linen etc were communal.  ( I would not like 'communal clothes' I like me own thanks).  In smaller homes each client had their own room and their own possessions.  Each client had an individual care plan that catered to their individual needs and preferences.  Staff saw dramatic changes in the clients as previously medication was used over zealously as a regular/daily form of low maintenance 'behaviour management'.   It kept individuals passively subdued.  I worked with some clients that were in their sixties or seventies.  I was told a story about one of the ladies that I could not verify...but she was supposedly institutionalised for getting pregnant out of wedlock she spent the rest of her life 'in the system'.
         There was a move away from the terms nurse and carer, the term enabler came into use.  That subtle shift in language created a subtle shift in thinking.  To enable somebody to achieve things that they could not achieve on their own is so much more empowering than simply 'taking care of them' and doing everything for them.  (I had no idea I was going to waffle this much again)!
          I think I will enjoy this book, it is already making me appreciate the progress society has made within the field of social care.  I know there is always more progress to be made.  It makes me think of this quote by Gandhi;

"A nations greatness is judged by how it treats it's weakest members".  


Saturday, 20 April 2013


Today I have had a busy one.  I have decided to write it like this. . . 

It must have been the warmest day of the year so far
Blue sky and sunshine
Day 2 of Juice Fast
Youngest has a day with his Dad
I give the oldest a lift to work
Drop 3 black bags to the charity shop
(Come on...where does all this crappitty crap keep coming from)?!
Found three fantastic juice books, one fabulous crochet doily,
One quirky colourful, ethnic embroidery 
and a new version of Checkers. . . with a twist.
Great work from 'The Angels of Thrift'.
Went to the farm shop and Display garden/garden shop
Bought tomato plants and a pot of peppermint
some nasturtiums 
went into large farmshop
Not a great idea on a 'Juice Fast'
Behaved like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory
Olives, crackers, fruit, vegetables, cheese, salad, yogurt, dates
I had forgotten how good the farm shop is
Came home unpacked all of the goodies
Put wellies on and made the dogs day by telling her it was 'Walkies'!
Went for a long walk in the sunshine with dog.
Spring has sprung.
Listened to birdies, admired the new shoots and soaked up the sunshine.
Tried to train the dog to 'stay'...hilarious!  
Came home, ate cake...yeah on a juice fast...I forgot to tell you about the Farm Shop cake
soooo good after a long dog walk.  Gooey Chocolate Tiffin!
Repent...get the lawnmower out
Mow the long grass
Notice more new shoots
notice Celandines in a clump on the lawn
Cheery blooms of sunshinieness
Admire newly mowed lawn
Youngest returns
Visit my parents
Leave youngest with Grandad, Me and Mom visit my Aunt in hospital
(My Aunt is not well at all at the moment but she is on the mend)
Come home then go and fetch the oldest from work
come home again. . . envy the dog snoring soundly, sprawled on the sofa!
Play checkers. Lose!  To an 8yr old and yes I was trying my hardest!
Feed the Bob the Budgie some nice new seed and change his water giving him Malvern Spring Water!
No wonder he chirps so much!
He also had some 'Lambs Lettuce' from the farm shop...he really liked that!
Watered the plants in the greenhouse with my 8yr old Garden Manager.
Watered the seeds we have sowed in the garden.
Come in find matchsticks to prop eyes open.

I do like a busy day like this.  I am sure I would have time to fit 'chicken buddies' in there somewhere. . . 
Hope you are having a good weekend. :) xxx

Thursday, 18 April 2013

This gave me a chuckle so I had to share...

This feels like a quick, cheating sort of post.  Sometimes I discover things and I just have to share.  This gave me a good chuckle this morning.  I hope it makes you chuckle too.

'Fireflies and Tuna Cans' Blog - Flat Stanley Visits Aunt Amy

Stan and the canon!  Stan and the goat, I can imagine Auntie Amy getting a panic on at this point!!  Stan in the window seat looking as proud as punch and then Stan in his artists costume.   I want 'Flat Stanley' to come and visit our house.  Stan is definitely the man.  I like the concept of travelling Teddies too and garden gnomes that travel the globe.  You can read Here: About Garden Gnome Liberationists .
    Thank you.  That is all!  :)
Lucy XXX

Monday, 15 April 2013

Hello Strangers

It has been a long time since I have blogged.  Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana or something like that anyway.  I don't really have much to say at the moment but I could just waffle on for a while and see where it gets us.
       The sky is blue, the sun is trying to put in an appearance and I can hear the blackbird "Making a noise that is too big for itself".  That quote is from an Audio book Euan has enjoyed this week. 'Stig Of The Dump' by Clive King.  It was one of my favourites when I was about Euan's age.  Stig Of the Dump was ahead of his time and a master in recycling and upcycling, in spite of the fact he is a caveman lost in time.  I told you I would waffle. . .but there really is a blackbird singing his heart out.  This morning I saw a sparrow looking very pleased with himself.  He had a beak full of . . .chicken feathers.  There will be some cosy nests around these parts!
       On the matter of chickens. . .I have been very very tempted to get more.  'No' it is not practical but 'oh' they are funny.  On the school run today Euan asked me 'When can we get more feathers'?  he made a Freudian slip there. He meant 'chickens'.  Of course we would not get so attached to our next 'flock' of 'egg producers' we are now hardened to the world of 'Poultry Farming'.  We know animal = food.  We would not endear to their over enthusiasm and little bright beady eyes, we would not become mutual friends, we would not talk to them in silly voices like they are babies and hold clucky conversations, we certainly would not give them pretty names, we would not get to know each of them for their own personality quirks, we would not refer to them as if they were family...our sisters, our babies. . ., we would not sit hugging a chicken in the garden or let them climb on our shoulder and they certainly won't get first pick of the fruits and vegetables in the garden.  It would be straight down the line Chickens = eggs.  Anyway for now 'No more chickens'!  Twould be madness.
         I have undertaken another 'new' fad during the last two weeks.  I have a 'Juicing Machine' and I know how to use it!  Every day for a fortnight I have been glugging my way through 'raw juice'.  I have read all about the benefits of consuming raw vegetable and fruit juice and for now I am hooked and feeling some benefits.  My 'breakfast' will typically consist of 4 sticks of celery, three handfuls of spinach, 1/4 of a cucumber, a carrot, 2 Apples and a slice of lemon.  That lemon is a god send.  I have just had a Pear and Parsnip Juice.  It sounds wrong but tastes right.  The kids will drink the 'fruity' juices and I will try and sneak a vegetable in there but they are not sold on juice just yet.  I have had some disasters and learned early on that Broccoli juice is gross!  Generally the greener the juice the healthier it is for you, of course though such is life, the greener the juice the nastier it is to consume!  'Crapple Juice' is tasty, Carrot, apple and lemon.  Cantaloupe and Carrot is also delicious.  This link will explain five health benefits of Cantaloupe.  You can google this information for all sorts of herbs and fruit and vegetables.  Celery is very healthy and neat celery juice is not bad.
         I feel like I have waffled quite enough now.  I could waffle a bit more though.  I think if you have read this far you have done very well and I should give you a break.
         I hope life is treating you well.  XXX  Lucy     

Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Perfect Little 'Pick Me Up'

I have found it easier the last few months to just focus on my own 'Little World'.  It has been a challenge to look on the bright side.  I am lucky to have friends and family who listen and put up with me.  Today I had the pleasure of meeting this little man for the first time.  The perfect 'Pick me up'.  He is just two days old and is my friend Sarah's first child.  Sarah and I have been friends now for over 16 yrs.  We met each other at work, when we both worked with adults with Learning Disabilities and Challenging Behaviour and we have been buddies ever since.  Sarah is a great friend to my boys too and I know she will be an absolutely fantastic Mom.  I have called Sarah in 'emergencies' and she has always been there for me.  This little boy has been long awaited.  Haydn.  I think he is adorable.  My friend Sue came with me to the hospital, sue and I have been friends for 30+ years.  Sue, Sarah and I have got together the last couple of Friday nights and put the world to rights and laughed a lot.  We tried not to make Sarah laugh too much though as neither Sue nor I have natural midwifery skills.  We have watched the bump grow and sympathised with the swollen ankles and the almost constant need for antacid.  It has been an exciting build up waiting for this little fella.  Isn't life amazing? beginnings and we never know what is around the corner.  Seeing this precious little boy has made me so happy and a tad bit weepy!  Ah come on this is me we are talking about!   I wish this little fella a happy, healthy life and I look forward to all the snuggles in the future.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

RIP My Little Flock...

This post is too sad.  This morning I woke up to an empty coop and a lot of feathers.  Not a single 'girl' is left.  We are very sad and have cried a lot.  I feel like I have completed a chicken keepers rite of passage.  I have suffered a loss to a predator.  We are in shock.  Not good.   I had to confess to Euan I did not lock up the coop last night.  I thought they would be fine, they have been fine before.  I did not think foxes could get in our garden since the fences were repaired, but there is a gap and one of the neighbours fences is down that I did not know about.  My poor girls and poor Euan.  The garden seems awful without our bundles of fun.  Euan has not been backward in coming forward and telling me exactly what he thinks of me and my chicken keeping skills.  He was very angry and upset with me, but he has cooled off now.  This Winter the weather and the chickens have trashed the garden, I mean mud bath.  A house move is not out of the question and I had been vaguely thinking there would/could come a time when rehousing the chickens would be necessary.  I have never 'given up' a pet, I am always a 'hang on to them at all cost' kind of person.  I love 'rescue' pets not abandoning pets.  I have been spared any more worry about chickens.  Of course we want more, Euan has already picked names for three white ones...but I know it is no longer practical for us at the moment.  Another 'Era' is over.  What a happy little episode it was too.  Those girls were really loved and made us very happy.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Chickens In The Snow!

Here is 'The Lovely Lavender' wading her way through the snow.  The Chickens do not think much of this weather, now neither do I.  I have to keep making sure their water has not frozen over and 'cooping' them up to stop them from freezing.  Their little feet go all pink and they sit in the snow all puffed up together.  Silly Billies!  I find them something nice to eat and preferably warm to lure them to their coop and shut them in.  They have a little grumble as I stop them from escaping and shut the door.
Chickens do not like the snow, but mine have not read that page.  They are quite happy to come out and sit in it.  Freedom obviously means more to them than getting cold.  They are fiercely protecting their food and scraps from the garden birds, chasing off magpies, pigeons and blackbirds.  This morning they ate left over 'Sticky Toffee Pudding' complete with Caramel Sauce.  My sons are very strange and are both not big on sweets.  I am but I thought it would be better to feed it to the chooks.  I have a figure to maintain don't ya know.
These photographs were taken a couple of days ago.  Last night it snowed again all night and for most of the morning.  My car is stuck on the drive as the roads are not clear, the footpaths are worse.  It is making the school run a nuisance.  Euan's school has a flexible start and finish time in place for this week and Lacey is getting walked during the school runs, which she thinks is great although she does not much like being tied up to the fence and barks like a guard dog until I am back!  I wish I had a dog that would sit quietly.  She will do though she is a good girl.  Lacey is the only one for whom the novelty of the snow has not worn off.  She loves it and gets very silly outside jumping and playing.
       Hey guess what?  I had my first 'Tea Swap Parcel' arrive today.  It really cheered me up.  How exciting is that?   It will give me something to 'Blog' about tomorrow when I share it with you.  It had Tea and more... I have crochet lovliness to share.  Thank you all so much for your lovely, honest, funny, supportive comments regarding my last couple of posts.  I can't pretend anything is Hunky Dory.  However I will get there and adjust.  I still have not managed any crafting, I really must shift my butt into gear as crafting always makes me feel better.  I am just having trouble sitting in one place and concentrating for too long.  I am like a wanderer!  If I started to run I may end up like Forrest Gump and never stop!
Lova All Yall!  XXX

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

According To Matt

I know many of you already visit and follow this Blog:

According To Matt

Just in case you don't follow the link and take a look.  Prepare to be amazed!  I really want Matt to compile the best 'Coffee Table Book' in the world.  Amazing talent in terms of colour design, crochet and blogging.  Take some time to browse through some of the older posts too.  It will be time well spent!  

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Grand Tea Swap - Update

(Image is from Graphics Fairy a great Blog for beautiful Vintage Graphics)

Sign ups for 'The Grand Tea Swap' are going rather well there are enough participants to make it fun.  The more the merrier though of course.  If you would like to join in please get in touch and leave me a comment.  I think it is going to be quite a 'Cyber Tea Party'.  I can see the scones and jam, cup cakes, and cake now.  

Friday, 4 January 2013

How about a 'Grand Tea Swap' ?

Happy New Year!  I am a bit late but the year is still 'new'.  I have been basking in the afterglow of all the festive hoohaa.  I am rather glad the Glinsel and titter has been packed away for another year.  It is lovely but there is a certain ahhhhh to be had when it is packed away again.  I have been very quiet 'for me' on the blogging front and I must get back into the swing of it!  I am sitting like a startled rabbit in the headlights at the prospect of returning to work next week.  Work. . . it rather spoils my fun!   So the challenge is to make work fun!
            Now I have just read a blog Happy Angel it is singing the virtues of a simple cup of tea.  Oooooh yes for I am a 'tea belly'.  I love me a nice cuppa char!   My Dad used to make me a cup of tea in my bottle and I can actually remember that far back, swigging my tea out of a bottle.  Regardless of 'Health Visitors' advice both of my boys loved tea in their bottles too and they still drink a lot of tea.  Happy Angel's blog post and my love of tea got me thinking. . . oh good grief we know what happens when I get thinking. . . but I wondered if anyone would be up for a 'Grand Tea Swap'?  I am not really sure how this will work but I am thinking that if you let me know if you are interested leave me a comment and a way to contact you via email.  I will collate a list of addresses and and pass on a list of addresses to each person taking part.   Everyone taking part will have everyone else's address.  Then we could randomly start swapping a couple of Teabags of the fanciest kind.   There are no time limits for sending out tea, so we could be swapping and receiving surprise teas for quite a while.  I don't think you can have too much tea.  What do you think?  Is any body in?  I am off to make meself a cuppa right now.

Rules For The Grand Tea Swap
1) Must like tea.
2) Leave a comment and a way for me to contact you via e-mail by the 11.1.13
3) When you receive the list of fellow Tea Swappers just send what you can to whoever you choose when you can.
4) Remember to blog about 'The Grand Tea Swap' and any tea you receive.