Sunday, 28 December 2008

Too much chocolate .... and new eggs!

Well christmas is over for another year. We have had loads of family round and some lovely company. The lounge - redecorated and new suite in place just in time for christmas - has disappeared under a coating of lego and playmobil and we are all sick of chocolate (well I am, the children are planning on eating nothing else all year I think).
This is our lovely, cosy new lounge.
The new chooks have settled in well. They don't spend as much time up in the branches any more and are more often than not, in amongst the old girls when food is offered. Their sore, bald bums are looking much better. The redness and swelling has gone and they are getting new feathers through now! Two days ago I started finding unknown eggs - so they must be laying again, although at the moment I can't tell who is laying as I haven't yet caught them in the act! I think they need an extra nest box as a cuople of times I have found an egg in the run - the nest box in the cube only accomodates 4 max, it could be a bit of a squeeze when all 14 are laying in spring! I went outside today to find some wood to make one - but it was perishing so I quickly came back in again!

The good news is that we have access to the allotments from 1st January! Hooray! Nearly a year after being offered one! We have only been given a half plot (as has everyone else), but that may be enough to start with.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Happy Christmas!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone who reads this!

We've had a lovely family day - boys actually had a lie in, and we spent the rest of the day doing the presents and dinner thing. Missed church as Dan still has raging chicken pox, but at least he was feeling better today, although still spotty.

Family descending on us over the next few days, so back to bedlam! Hope you all manage to have as good a time as we have had.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

New Girls have names and sore bums!

We've managed to choose names for the new girls now - carrying on with the spicey names, this is Nutmeg. She seems like a lovely little chicken and looks as though she has just been through a moult. I don't think she is laying at the moment.

The copper black hen is Cinnamon. She seems a little nervous and has a bit of a baldy bum. The all white sweetie is Pepper - she has a very bare bum!

The Pied is Clove. She has a very bare bottom and a swollen abdomen. I've had three eggs off them today, I can only assume that it was nutmeg who has not laid, so Clove's tackle must be working OK.

As a precaution I've been out in the dark and given all their botties a good spray with ukadex - a foul smelling, tar based spray that deters pecking. Luckily for me they were all sat on the branches with their backs to me so I just squirted them while they slept! I got a good scolding for my efforts!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

What a day - paint and chickens!

I'm shattered! Today has been a bit crazy. We are waiting for a new suite to be delivered, and as usual have left redecorating the room until the last minute, so it had to be done today!

We couldn't find a day when the boys were at school to do it, so had to grit our teeth and let them help. They didn't do too badly in the end though, and I now have a gorgeous red wall. Just waiting for my nice, new conker brown leather suite to arrive and I'll be cosy as anything!

While we were getting ready to decorate, I had a call from a lady who was struggling with her chickens and could I take some off her hands. Could I! I now have 4 lovely new girls. She has only had them a few months and they are laying.

There are 2 sweeties, or amber stars. They haven't got names yet!

A copper black maran hybrid
And a pied suffolk

They have very pecked bottoms, but I'm hoping that being in a bigger crowd and plenty of distractions will cure them of their naughty knicker pecking habits!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Mad Sewing Days!

I think I'm drowning in sewing!

The quilt is taking shape. I only get chance to do any work on it on Wednesday evenings - it isn't a priority when I'm at home! The colours are looking lovely - very rich and autumnal. I just need to get my lounge redecorated so that it will match when it's finally finished ;-)
I found some lovely fleece fabric on ebay - I wonder who might appreciate a nice warm hat and scarf with Thomas on?
And I struck gold on Wednesday night at Patchwork class - someone getting rid of two large boxes of offcuts of curtain fabric. After a donation to a cancer charity, it all came home with me! The timing is perfect - my Folksy site is doing well, I've sold 4 bags this week from there. Plus I sold a couple of bags at the last two craft fairs I did. I've still got 3 days of fairs before Christmas and my stock is running dangerously low! Despite a huge bag of fabric in the dining room, there is nothing currently in there that is calling me to make something with it!
This little stash however, was just crying out to be made into bags! As soon as I got it home I spread it out on the dining room table and started to drool. Silk, satin, chenille, damask, brocade, cotton prints; and lots of lovely autumny/wintery shades - perfect!!
Some fabrics just demanded to go together and in no time I had a stack of cut material that now just needs sewing up.

And these are the first ones to come off the production line! At the rate of two bags a day (if I'm lucky!), it is hardly a speedy line though!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Craft Fairs & Patchwork

I've just had a lovely weekend! Did two fairs - one at Wolvey on Saturday and the other at Wansford on Sunday. Both fairly quiet affairs, but I did steady trade, selling a couple of bags and lots of the little items - scented pomanders, crocheted flowers and beanie hats.

There is a lovely atmosphere at these little fairs - plenty of chat between stall holders, I've met some lovely people! In between times, I've had peace and quiet and been able to sit and crochet with no interruptions from husband and children!

On top of the fairs, I've had some good sales via the Folksy website. The more expensive bags don't sell as well at the fairs, but I've sold at least 4 this last week, with another one commissioned. I've been making messenger bags from discarded jeans. Each one is unique. I have one myself and it is great to use - and all my own design! I'm quite pleased with myself!

The patchwork course is going well! I found some lovely autumnal fabric on ebay and have a beautiful quilt planned, full of reds, golds and russets. Watch this space!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

My Boy is a Beaver

I had a proud mother moment last night - middle son was invested as a beaver!

He stood in the centre and said his promise out loud, word perfect! He looks so tiny next to the others, in his outsized uniform.
Last week he also came home with the Best Beaver cup. I can't wait until he gets to go camping and doing all those boy scout activities! (I think I'm more excited than he is)

Finished Patchwork

Finally managed to get a picture of the finished article!

Destined to be a Christmas Table Runner. I didn't like to take pictures of the projects completed by the rest of the class - but there were some beautiful items. Mine looked quite uninspired in comparison!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Busy Half term

Well it seems that we had our half term the week before everyone else! At least we were fortunate with the weather - we had some glorious days. I managed a child free day out with step mum to Blickling Hall in Norfolk. The Norfolk Craft Guild were holding a craft fair there so we had a good browse, I managed to get some christmas presents bought, and we had lunch in the tea room. A beautiful place, well worth a visit.

The boys decided to do some DIY. They designed and built a bench to sit on. (Dad did the crucialbit with hammer and nails). Then they painted it. Took them all day and now we have a lovely and practical piece of new furniture!

The chickens are also enjoying the last bits of sunshine. Bertha took advantage of the warmth to lose her feather duvet and grow a new one. Looks a bit oven ready at the moment though!

Japanese Folded Patchwork 2

OK, I haven't quite forgotten about this! This is the next stage - each circle of fabric is wrapped around a triangle of wadding, tacked in place, and finished with decorative stitching.

The triangles are then stitched together to make your quilt, tablerunner, placemat or whatever you want. Now I have actually finished the tablerunner. But I left it at class - I forgot I needed to take a picture to put on here!! I'll take one next week, promise!

Friday, 10 October 2008

Japanese Folded Patchwork

As if I don't have enough sewing to do, I thought I'd try my hand at something different and enrol on a patchwork and quilting workshop. It's great fun, as well as educational. Our tutor, Jenny, is lovely, but I keep getting told off for talking in class!!!
Anyway, we are learning about Japanese Folded Patchwork. The end result is a complete unit of fabric and wadding, decorative on both sides. The individual units can then be stitched together to make the finished article, no extra quilting or wadding to be done. We start off by cutting circles of fabric, running a gathering stitch around them and pulling it tight around a circle of card (above).

The fabric is pressed and the card removed. This circle shows two colours of fabric pieced together and pressed.
Here is my pile of pressed circles (above) and below is the start of the end product. You will have to wait to see the rest!
It's a bit of a departure for me - all hand sewing! I thought I'd miss my machine, but it's quite therapeutic to sit with the family and watch TV in the evening and still be able to do some sewing. Trouble is, I'm like a dog with a bone - this is upposed to be a long term project, to be done in spare moments. Instead, everything will now be neglected until I finish it!

Monday, 29 September 2008

Look what I won!

I'm not one to enter competitions, do tombolas and raffles or anything of that nature (I think that normally I'm just too tight to part with the dosh, or just to lazy to make the effort with no guarentee of success!), but when Izabela asked for comments on crochet I just couldn't resist. I also enjoy crochet, but Izabela's crochet really is beautiful! Anyway, she had a competition to win one of her pretty crocheted butterflies - and I won! (won is used loosely here - my name was picked from a randomly generated list, but hey, who's complaining!). And this is my butterfly - isn't it lovely! It's on a keyring so is now decorating my house keys. Thank you Izabela!
See Izabela's blog here: or click the link on the left ...knit and crochet ...

Sunday, 28 September 2008

It's Conker Time!

What a gorgeous day its been! We drove out to Rockingham Castle to have a look at the Craft and Food Show. After we'd paid the extortionate amount of £10 to get in, we had very little left to spend in the craft tents - obviously someone is making a profit, but I don't think it was the crafters!

So having spent all our money on 6 minutes on the bouncy castle and a drink each, we went for a walk round the grounds. Here we found the real treasure - a grove of horse chestnuts dripping with fruit! Best entertainment ever for two little boys!

Very handy that there was a table and straw bales under the tree. The drinks cans were not ours by the way - I think the tables and straw bales were left over from a party that the stall holders had had the night before!

Several hundredweight of conkers later: they've all been rolled down the stairs and scattered around the kitchen floor to foil Dad's attempts at cooking tea!

Now we just have to decide what to do with them all. Ideas on a postcard please

Saturday, 27 September 2008

More sewing!

After building up all my bag stock for the Preston Craft Fair, and only selling a fraction of it, I've been getting itchy fingers! Pointless making anymore bags just for the sake it - better to wait for inspiration to strike.

I've had some lovely chicken fabrics sat around for a while, so put them to good use as Kenwood Chef mixer covers.

Then I managed to make another Jean Genie bag out of some old levis - the denim is lovely and soft. But I wasn't happy with the top stitching, so I kept it for myself - all in the interests of product testing you understand! I'm glad I did because I've realised the handles are far too long! So now it has a knot in it as a temporary measure while I decide how to make adjustable handles!

I've also started a patchwork class in the evenings - run by a lovely lady called Jenny and based at East Carlton Park, near Corby. Jenny not only teaches patchwork, but is a font of knowledge on all things fabric related. She's taught me so many little tips and wrinkles - even how to find out whether a fabric is man made or natural by setting fire to it! (I had great fun experimenting, I can tell you!). So far we have done some hand pieced hexagonal patches and have now started on some Japanese folded patchwork. I'll post pictures at a later date!

As if that wasn't enough, a friend sent me a pattern that she couldn't get to grips with, on the proviso that I made the first lot for her! It was for chicken pot holders. So I had to invest in some decent wadding, and voila! More chickens! Must admit I am really pleased with them, despite them needing a little more hand sewing to really finish them nicely.
These will be winging their way to my friend, and I've put a pic of them on my shop website - I may do them to order only, unless I am desperate for something to sew again!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

My Baby is Seventeen!

Well today has been oldest son's 17th birthday. His birthday present was driving lessons (his licence only arrived yesterday, so they had to be arranged rather hastily!) and a meal out at a local Cantonese restaurant. We took his two little brothers as well - I am determined that they will learn how to behave in public! Actually they weren't too bad, despite eating enough prawn crackers for 6 adults and tipping a glass of water over the table, we left the restaurant relatively unscathed and still on speaking terms with the managers. Although I am not in a hurry to repeat the experience.

Anyway - Happy Birthday to Number 1 Son, Love you Loads! xxx

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Definition of Tired ...

Have you heard the saying "he/she could sleep on a clothesline"? I have, but never actually met anyone who could do it. But youngest son is in practice.

It started on the floor:

Then he tried upside down:

Not quite a clothesline, but getting there:

LOL I've never known a child like him for just falling asleep wherever he is!
In the meantime, middle son has started the after school clubs this year. Church Adventurers on a Monday night, then we had a call on Tuesday - did he want a place in the Beaver Troop! First meeting was last night and he had a lovely time!
And oldest son has started college. Well supposedly. He started on the 8th September but has done 2 days so far! The college studios have not been sound proofed properly yet, so they cannot start work. I hope they get on with it soon - he needs to get out from under my feet!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Great Day at Preston

Well I had a lovely day at Preston yesterday. Despite the miserable weather, there was a great atmosphere in the hall and I met some lovely fellow crafters. I was happy with my sales considering the poor turnout, and I got lots of ideas for improvements to my stall. Roll on the next craft fair - Rugby on 11th October. Watch this space!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Getting Nervous ....

Well it will be the craft fair at Preston Presents this Sunday, and I am now officially getting nervous! I've done a couple of village stalls, very low key, more jumble sale type things, but this is in a different league!
I've been working hard trying to get a professional looking stall and have settled on this - dark chocolate velvet on the table with fuchsia pink on a small stand. My wonderful Dad knew that I was looking for a hat stand and found me the perfect one - in a skip of all places! I found a prettyfruit stand in Homebase to display my little chickens and gift bags. Finished off with a small bowl of pot pourri and some pink Ikea candles to add interest. Had a trial run today - glad I did as I've managed to tweak a few things. I'm quite pleased with it!
I'm just panicking about stock levels now - I know I have enough bags, I don't expect to sell that many! But I wanted some little, less expensive items to encourage people to browse. With christmas coming up (I know, I know! It's still only August!) I decided on some of the little chickens stuffed with fresh lavender from the garden (they smell divine!) and some little gift bags made from satiny fabric with ribbon and bead drawstring ties. I've also discovered that people like to see you 'crafting' rather than reading a book, so I've dug out the crochet hooks and some pretty tapestry yarn and have crocheted some little flowers. I'll put them on the stall for 50p, purely so I can be making them on the day. Trouble is I don't know if they will sell or not - if they do, I need back up stock to refill the stand! Aaah - need to get sewing!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Christmas Chickens

I've just finished making some little chickens for a customer. It's the first time I've made them in a christmassy fabric - I'm really pleased with them!

Might have to make some more for my craft stall.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Northampton Balloon Festival

What a fabulous day we had yesterday - I was too exhausted to write about it last night!

We went to the Northampton Balloon Festival. Brilliant value for money - £4 per adult, children free! So me and 3 children got in for £4.Even with the £5 car parking fee it was a bargain! Loads of stalls, entertainment in the central arena, a circus tent and a stage with live music. And the wonderful people in the John 3:16 tent serving free refreshments - a lifesaver when I ran out of cash!

But the highlight had to be watching those awesome balloons go up!

Even the boys were stunned into silence as we watched them slowly filling with hot air from the burners, then suddenly leaping into the air as they were freed from the ropes. Then as fast as they rose, more were inflated on the ground to take their places.


Friday, 8 August 2008

Northpole Nonsense

Well it's 6.30am, Saturday morning, and I'm sitting with my early morning cuppa contemplating the past week.

It's been hectic, I'm shattered but the children have had a fantastic time! What was it? North Pole Nonsense - our church's annual Holiday Club. From 10 - 12 every morning, hordes of village children have descended on the church for 2 hours of games, songs, crafts and general fun led by the wonderful Paul Wilmott. Paul is a brilliant Holiday Club leader - the only human I know who can keep (and hold) the attention of 80 primary school children single handed! The highlight had to be Custard the shark threatening to eat the children for lunch! Anyway, this was the result on my youngest son. It's not quite sleeping on a clothesline, but you get the picture!
The other highlight (apart from Custard), was the fact that the helpers all pulled together and made this a success. It's been a brilliant atmosphere all week, with many new friendships forged. Topped off by us all going out for lunch after the final session on Friday. Ultimately it has been a testament to the power of God in all our lives. A great week!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Flippin' Chickens!!

Aaaah, I give up! I thought my veg patch was now chicken proof, but it appears that one little madam sees it as a personal challenge to attack my veg patch at every opportunity. Yesterday I noticed that she had been in again and this time scratched up all my patches of new seedlings - beetroot, chard, rocket, mizuna and lettuce!!!! Thankfully, everything that was growing well has not been touched. It is Bella that is the culprit, she isn't even laying any eggs at the moment. Luckily for her she is the prettiest chicken - but looks will only get her so far. If I catch her in there again I will not be held responsible for my actions! :-( :-(

Thursday, 31 July 2008

New Chicken!

I was given a McCall's pattern the other day - various soft toys, book covers, bags and things. As soon as I spotted this chicken cushion I had to try it as soon as possible! It's quite large - 13" nose to tail and the body is soft and squashy. The wings and tail are also quilted, although that doesn't show well in the picture. It was a bit fiddly, with the head, wings and tail having to be handstitched to the body (I always end up with several pin stabs when hand sewing). I also messed up the comb a bit, but managed to get it looking OK.
I don't think I could make them to sell, too fiddly and faffy. But it was nice to make something different!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Preston Presents

I will presenting my wares at the Preston Presents Craft Fair on 31st August. Preston is just south of Oakham. This will be my first 'proper' craft fair and I am simultaneously excited and terrified! Click on the link to Preston Presents on the left to see more about it and see what other craft stalls will be there. And if you are in the area - come and say hello!

Ebay Bargains and Caterpillar Wars

I've just realised how long it is since my last post!
Just goes to show what a boring old life I lead!! LOL
Anyway, this is my latest ebay bargain, £72 for a set of garden furniture in need of some TLC. Well it is surprising what a bit of TLC can do for wood! After plenty of elbow grease, some wire wool and a couple of litres of teak oil, this is the result. Looks even better when the green parasol goes up and the green cushions are on the chairs! It was well and truly christened on Monday when I had some friends over and we all sat round the table eating pizza, drinking coffee and having a good old chinwag in the sun!

Although there has been some activity down at the allotment site (grass is cut, an area of hardstanding has been created and there is a proper gateway), we can still not get on as the parish council and the allotment association are in negotiation as to who will pay for the shed *rolls eyes*

So I've dug up all the potatoes and used the space to plant out my cauliflower seedlings. I was hoping to get them onto the allotment, but I don't think that will happen this side of christmas. So we are into round one of caterpillar wars. After eating half a caterpillar in last years broccoli, I'm determined they won't get to these brassicas!!

Monday, 5 May 2008

The Saga of Dora the Dove

Poor Dora (or it could be Dougie but it looks too pretty) flew into our bathroom window yesterday evening and fell onto the back door step. To add insult to injury she was then set upon by 10 angry chickens determined to finish her off!

Alan caught Dora whilst I shut the velociraptors back in their run and we inspected the damage. Poor thing had a nasty looking wound over her breastbone - either from the impact or chicken damage, I'm not sure which. Plus she had lost all but one of her tail feathers. We both agreed that it would be best to put her out of her misery, but gutless cowards that we are, neither of us had the heart to wring her neck. So I made her a nest in a laundry basket, added some mealworms and a bowl of water with poultry tonic and shut her in the shed for the night.

This morning I opened the door expecting to find a dead dove, but no - she seemed to have rallied a bit! Her wound looked a bit dryer and she was standing and looking quite bright eyed. And she had eaten some mealworms! Thinking that she may be getting stressed shut in the shed, I took her to the birdtable at the bottom of the garden and put her there under the cover of the trees. She seems to have gained strength throughout the day and by evening she was motoring round the garden, pecking at bugs and drinking. I went out as it was getting dark and she was hiding under the shrubbery. I caused her a bit more stress as I had to catch her with a fishing net (big improvement over this morning when she just sat and let me pick her up) and I parked her on a branch in the conifer tree at the bottom of the garden (don't want next door's cat to finish her off!). I've just been out with a torch and she has managed to climb a bit higher and is now roosting.
What a little fighter she is! I really hope she makes it!