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Where did the time go?

♥Oct. 25th, 2016 // 11:34 am
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I've been very crap at updating recently, probably a sign that I've not been doing anything very exciting!

There's been a fair bit of gardening going on, mostly weeding but also taking the finished plants out of the vegetable patch. There are still some tomatoes, peppers and aubergines in pots in the conservatory, but I don't think they'll be productive for much longer. Mike managed to mow the back lawn, for the first time since before our BBQ: it was in a bit of a state! I must get my sweetpeas started for next year, and think about the practicalities of my plan to turn the bee garden into a polytunnel for the tomatoes. The tomatoes did terribly this year, as in we've already finished the passata that I made (last year, it lasted until April!).

We've had our first, very slight, frost of the year, the elctric blanket's back on the bed, and the trees are starting to look very pretty. We've also had our first (and second, third and fourth) mice in the barn traps, which I'm treating as a good thing because we didn't get so many last autumn when the rat was in residence. Still to come: first fire of the year, which I'm looking forward to!

In the house, I continue to be impressed with Freddie's Flowers (my second batch was cabbages and white roses, but I also still have a vase with some of the first batch in!). I've been making jelly and sewing various things that are mostly going to be Christmas gifts for people who read this, so no pictures of those, or aren't yet finished (this isn't like me, but the Christmas stuff jumped the queue). Mike's been busy at work, so it's just been me and the pooch more than usual, but we did have a house full of visitors at the weekend, which included going to the beach, looking at old churches, and seeing the Oysterband in Canterbury.

We were expecting the hunt this morning, but didn't see any sign of them (we did hear the hounds, off in the distance). The boys seemed entirely unconcerned about the noise, but we were quite glad that we'd already finished riding by that time!

We're having some issues with their hay this year, annoyingly: back when we first started using this year's batch, they refused to eat three of the first six bales, but then it didn't happen again so we thought maybe it was still a bit green. Over the weekend, though, they turned their noses up at two more bales, so I gave the hay lady a call. She says the culprit is false oat grass, which she's got in the corner of one of her fields (although though the internet seems to think it is palatable), so next year we'll be sure to take our hay from the other field (which is where we've previously had it from, which is why we've not had a problem before). She did say that later in the year (when there's less grass) they might be happier with it, which I'd also vaguely though, but I doubt GB will eat it.
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♥Jan. 29th, 2016 // 06:09 pm
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For the past Quite A While, in between various other things, I've been sewing patchwork birds, from The Tartan Kiwi's patterns (in one of those fits of timing, I found them the month that the Quilt Along finished).

This afternoon, I finished the last seagull!

Now I just need to sew them into a quilt....
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Scope creep

♥Jan. 17th, 2016 // 06:43 pm
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Having remembered that it's happening in a month and a bit, I thought I should have a think about something I could make for Baby Next Door for his second birthday.

I'm generally a fan of Educational Toys, so I thought maybe I could make something that he could do a bit of basic learning from. Couldn't find any suitable-looking soft toys (although I was very amused by the fish that turns into a sushi roll), but I was quite intrigued by a couple of things that called themselves books but were actually just a single double-page spread with, eg, a counting or pattern matching game inside them. Maybe if I combined two or three of those into a book...?

Oh, vague memory of a technique for turning a single sheet of paper into a little booklet.... Oh yes, there it is! Now, if I did that then I could put something else on the other side, hmmm.... Some nice pictures online of play mats with roads on them, and little fabric 'garages' for the toy cars to be parked inside.... So if I did the cover and three pages of 'book' (say: a pair matching game; a flower with different colour petals that can be taken off and velcroed back on over the word for the colour; and a page with one pig, two cows, three sheep, four dogs, five cats... all jumbled up on it) on one side of the fabric, and then a car-driving play mat with little garages on the other, then that would be really cool!

And take about ten times longer to do than I'd been planing to spend on the project. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

Any ideas?
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Un-filled product niches

♥Dec. 19th, 2015 // 07:52 pm
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I buy my (washing up) rubber gloves in packs of six. Under my kitchen sink at present are three packets: one is unopened, one contains five lefts and four rights, the other contains six lefts (which are there after I consolidated two packs each containing three lefts). I presume the situation is the same but reversed for left-handed people, and if I have any left-handed friends who use size medium Finesse washing up gloves then please let me know.

Surely there's a market for, say, a packet containing two rights and a left, rather than one of each? Or is the idea of avoiding throwing away all those perfectly fine gloves just foolishness?

Ditto for gardening gloves. Sigh. Also heavy duty rubber gloves, which I use for poo picking, although they tend to get replaced when Mike starts refusing to pick them up without gloves on, so pretty soon, actually.

This afternoon, I did some sewing, for the first time in weeks (since I finished Baby Next Door's Quilt, in fact). I made most of a duck. Note to self: cut out the pieces for the next hand sewn project, ready for New Year.
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Things for today

♥Nov. 27th, 2015 // 09:00 pm
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We've has a heron hanging around a bit, lately. Our fingers are crossed that the new pond cover is working, and it does seem that way: no evidence of fish being taken, although it's hard to tell when they're being sluggish in the cold.

(The blue tit was trying for the study windows today. Persistent bugger!)

My legs are considerably less sore today, thankfully. Not sure if it's helped or not but I did do a few gentle squats as part of my morning Pilate today. At least I managed to walk the pooch!

(My only consolation is that if I was that sore then I suspect that most of the rest of the class will have been unable to walk at all. I look forward to the conversation at the start of the next class.)

Earlier, Jodie produced a couple of exceptionally disgusting farts, which isn't like her: we did check that she didn't need to Go Outside, but she seemed inclined not to. Then, just as we were finishing dinner, Mrs Next Door phoned in a panic about her laptop having given her a scary error message as she was using IE: it was just a scam you-are-infected-call-this-number pop-up, but she couldn't get it to close so she brought it around for Mike to poke. As she was leaving, she mentioned that her lab has been incredibly farty all evening. Interesting. Apparently, TWWOTV's hideous rats pugs have been ill all week and had to have visits to the vet, so I suspect there may be something going around the local dog population.

(Mrs Next Door was looking for inspiration for a new hair cut, which initially struck me as an odd choice for nasty pop-ups, but actually makes sense when you think, statistically, of the level of IT security knowledge of the people likely to be looking at celebrity hair styles.)

Speaking of Mrs Next Door, I've finished the fiddly hand-sewing bit of Baby's quilt (thankfully: my hands approve), and pinned the quilt together: should be well on course to finish it in time for Christmas!
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♥Jun. 1st, 2015 // 06:50 pm
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Mike swapped the lens on my new iPhone back for the one on my old one, and now I can take pictures again!

(Well, I could always take pictures. It's just now they show something other than a pale blur....)

We've been busy in the garden, and now the fish pond looks Much Better:

And I've been busy on the sewing machine, making more animals for the quilt:

(Spot the deliberate error on the fox. Oops.)

The vet's coming to check Baby out on Friday, hopefully it will all go well and he'll be off to his new home soon, which is good.

I'm back playing hunt-the-Pilates-class, having finally got sick enough of the current one to email my old instructor in Bexley to plead for help finding one. She sent me the number of a girl she's trained, and I had a long chat with her ("You're never going to find anyone as good, Old Instructor is just the best ever, you should have kidnapped her and brought her with you. Have you thought about doing the instructor course in London?") that ended up with her giving me the number of someone else (as she's still new and currently just teaching beginner classes), who I also spoke to and it looks as though her best solution is to try to get me onto her class at the place I used to go to in Ashford, so she's going to see if she can find me space for a try-out. They do still owe me some sessions, but in a different category of class: not sure if I'll be able to convert one to the other or not. Of course, I'm now in a bit of a quandary about whether or not to go to the current class tomorrow: it's the start of a new block of lessons, which is £88 this time around. If I don't like or can't get permanently onto the new class for a month or two, I'll want to have paid, but if I do and can then I won't. Hmm.
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♥Feb. 28th, 2015 // 07:38 pm
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We had a day of weather bemusement today: it eventually turned out that the Met Office was actually more accurate than the various rain radar services that we also use because (usually) they're more accurate. I suspect that that's because only the Met Office realised that the cloud would be at ground level.... Still, the boys got to go outside for a few hours. There was a bit of eating the grass, and then a bit of scrapping, and then it all went quiet and we relaxed. Until we realised that, somehow, Bugs had managed to get onto the other side of the fence.... (Partly our fault, as we forgot to turn the electric tape back on after we poo picked!)

This morning, as it was wet, I noodled around on the internet looking at sewing projects. It started with a vague thinking that I could make little lavender-filled bags to go into the Christmas hampers this year (oh, shut up), which led me to a very nice blog about sewing, which led me to going "Oooh, pretty!" at a lovely patchwork piece, a digression into how it was made and a sigh as it was hand-sewn, which I like but am not currently after (for reasons below), a read through her other posts and, eventually, a few references to a machine sewing patchwork technique. I then dived off into a bit of research into that (with a side trip to buy a pattern for some terribly cute stuffed felt elephants, which will probably be Baby Next Door's first birthday present) and, eventually, to downloading a pattern and sorting out fabric. There may also have been a bit of eBay in there as well....

(It turns out, I think, that I was conflating two or three different patchwork techniques in my head and thus discounting it as Too Bloody Faffy. I am glad to have learnt my error!)

Via a short digression into the manual, and a little playing with exciting new stitches, I have finally actually used the fab new sewing machine that Mike got me for Christmas! (Which is why I was looking for a machine sewing project: I have done a hand sewing project and a weaving one since then!)

And, even better, after I made the square I realised that all I needed to do was stick a square on the back of it and I'd have something that I can stuff with lavender and pop in the Christmas hampers!

It is a very lovely sewing machine. My only non-complaint is that the reverse button is in a different place, so I keep poking the dial above it and wondering why it's not pushing in like it should. It's terribly quiet, and terribly smooth to use compared to my (mother's) old one!
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Getting ready for winter

♥Oct. 1st, 2014 // 04:28 pm
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Today, we've been shifting things over to winter mode: the bird feeders are filled, the parasol and clothes line are put away, the conservatory's been tidied and rearranged so that it can be used if we have a sunny day. This despite the fact that it is still stupidly warm: GB's having to wear his hat in the field, and I've been walking the dog in just a thin t-shirt!

We also had a bonfire: we went out to take a few more leylandii down, but then I realised that the wind was (finally!) just right, so we also burnt the previously chopped stuff. We've already started the new pile, at least partly because when we went to throw some of the old pile onto the fire we realised that some of it was too heavy and will have to be moved into place when the ash has cooled down. The forecast looks favourable to have another fire on Saturday, so I might see if Next Door want to stick anything on while we're at it.

Mike made a video, which I apparently can't embed because DW keeps changing the code that Vine gave me into something else that doesn't work. Link.

I seem not to have posted for a few days, not sure why. I've mostly been sewing:

(Esme is sewn, but not yet on a cushion. She was much fiddlier, on account of having more curves.)

Also vague Christmas plotting (and making of cards), and a bit of a breakthrough last time I was on the Baby: he's finally figured out that the bit is for playing with, so he's starting to work through his back; very pleased with that, although I'll have to remember to keep it to short bursts until he muscles up.
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Rural Quietness!

♥Aug. 18th, 2013 // 08:05 pm
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So, we figured out the cause of Psycho GB the other night: the Woman Who Owns The Valley had moved her two mares from the nearby-but-out-of-sight field to the field immediately behind our stables, and both GB and the Gelding Over the Road were both being nutters because of this. He was a bit of an arse the following morning, but seems to be settling down now.

Drinkies with the neighbours went pretty well: they were here for a lot longer than I expected, the WWOTV is a very cheap date and the other neighbours made snarky comments about her when she wasn't in the room, which was quite amusing: it seems that they have the same 'you don't own the place, well, ok, only mostly' issues that we do, with added 'but we do rent our flat from you'.

Here, have some photos:

photo 3-1

Our new dining table is pretty huge to start off with, and has two extra leaves to make it even huger. As far as I can tell, no one makes table cloths for expanding tables: I guess you're just supposed to have three different (and all hard to get hold of) ones. So I made my own. This is it in the non-expanded position, and it's got (imo) cunning folded up bits at the ends that mean that you can make the table cloth longer but still the same length of drop around the edge when you put the leaves in. I'm very slightly unhappy that you can see the raw edges if you look closely in the open corner, but I'm generally pleased with it as first attempt. The sewing machine's been getting a lot of use this last week, and there's more still to go: the inevitable slight gap where the bottom of one of last week's sets of curtains meets the windows sill is crying out for some sort of bolster affair to block the light properly, and we have a couple of bench seats for extra seating when the table's opened right out, and I got enough table cloth fabric to make cushions for them. The foam pads are sitting accusingly in the dining room, but I used pretty much all of a 100m reel of cotton on the cloth, so that will have to wait until I next get to Dunelm Mill (depressingly, the only conveniently visitable place for this sort of thing. God lord, they sell some hideous tat).

photo 2-2

We had another explore of the local woods today. There are woods on both sides of the valley, but one side looks to have much better riding than the other. Unfortunately, getting out of the valley either involves a long flat road or a short steep one, and the latter is sufficiently steep that it's only viable to ride up it. When you do get up to the top of the hill, you can turn off onto this thoroughly strange bit of bridleway, right through the middle of a field of beans. It's a little like being in the middle of the ocean.

photo 1-2

The road does, however, have remarkably little traffic. Grass is quite common in the middle of it, but I thought I'd stop and take a picture of the brave little flowers. Then I had to restrain GB, who assumed that they were there for his own delight....

Today, I also attempted cherry cordial, with some very-nearly-on-the-turn cherries bought at the roadside. I thought I'd just halve them and leave the stones in, as I'd heard that they add a nice almondy note, but unfortunately that was the only particular taste there was, although it is a lovely colour. I think that the next try will involve mashing up the fruit more thoroughly.

This evening, the boys had carrot tops, courtesy of our first veg box delivery. Even Jonny, who his not known for his love of carrots, seemed impressed and scoffed them down along with a few extras that Mike has over-eagerly chopped for dinner before looking at the size of the roasting tray. Apparently, veg box carrots are tastier than 5kg-for-£1.50 carrots from Tesco: who'd have thought?

I believe that there are currently only two remaining pieces of flat pack furniture to be assembled!

Yesterday, I placed another Ikea order....
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♥Aug. 16th, 2013 // 08:21 pm
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So, what have we been doing?

We had our first visitors, [livejournal.com profile] coth and family, en route to a very early morning ferry to France. As part of the prep, I spent a day running up pairs of curtains so that they'd actually be able to get some sleep. (Today, I went and bought Even More fabric, to have a crack at a table cloth that will not only be big enough for our enormous table but will also extend with it. Watch this space.)

We invited the neighbours 'round for a drinkie on Saturday evening: we had been thinking about a BBQ, but the forecast is a bit poor so drinkies it is instead.

We got a delivery of Even More Flat Pack Furniture. Mike is complaining that his wrist hurts from all the screwing, which I'm sure isn't the way around that such things normally work for men. We also got most of the bedroom furniture, which meant that we could actually unpack clothes. I'm looking forward to wearing a different pair of trousers tomorrow.

We took the boys out on a longer and much less road-filled hack in the woods on the other side of the valley this morning, which was nice. I jumped on the baby at one point, because he didn't do as he was told when Mike tried to get him to canter up the hill without (but towards) GB. He did as he was told for me, and Mike even managed to hold onto GB and stop him from following us up the hill....

Which, ouch, was more than I just managed. There's a somewhat nutty gelding in the field over the road, currently being turned out at night to stop the flies from bothering him. I just went to give the boys their first haynet and rather than go 'ooh, food' when I opened his door, GB decided to barge through his stall guard (a chain across the door, basically) and me to go and run around snorting and glaring at the gelding over the road. Sigh. I went and got a headcollar on him and coaxed him back to his stable, where I hit a snag: Mike hadn't got around to putting the top bolts on the stable doors, so they only have kickplates (at the bottom of the door) on them, which is why the stall guard was up. With the stall guard ripped from the wall, and me not having four-foot-long arms, I couldn't actually shut the door. So off he went again. Sigh. This time, I tied his haynet up *before* I went and dragged him back into his stable....

I'm not actually sure if it was tGOtR that was setting him off or something else: the Baby is very worked up as well, and when I was bringing GB back up to the stable he kept stopping to stare up the hill, in the opposite direction to tGOtR's field. It's possible that they were all smelling something worrying in the trees, I suppose. Either way, my leg hurts from being barged, thankyouverymuch.
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Bits and bobs

♥Apr. 9th, 2013 // 03:58 pm
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The thought occurred that a) my sewing machine's not been serviced in at least a decade and b) I will shortly not live a short drive from a sewing machine repair shop. So I thought I'd get it de-fluffed and oiled before we move. Just called the shop, mostly to check that I could park, and he said that it would be from £50 for one of that age (I don't know exactly how old it is, having stolen it from my mother, but it's a New Home, and New Home rebranded at Janome a decade ago). I foolishly then thought "I wonder if it's worth spending the money?" and have now been drooling over the features of modern sewing machines. There's one that's got a built-in mini-overlocker, and it's only £200!!! I always wanted an overlocker, they're fabulous...

At least, I hope to only live a short drive from said shop for a little longer. The people we want to buy from did have a second viewing at the weekend, so fingers are firmly crossed. Today was frantic tidying for a viewing of our own, after I got back from the yard. The people we've had seem to be fairly equally split between those who do and do not want to knock down the wall between the kitchen and the living room; I can see both sides, but I do like being able to shut the door.

While I was at the yard, I took GB out for a plod in the woods. As I left, the girl who runs the yard was just finishing up a lesson in the school. Only slightly more than half way around the woods, she overtook me, which was a touch embarrassing. On the other hand, after she walked alongside me down the hill she said "Is it ok if I go off?" and headed on at full-tilt. For about twenty yards, at which point her horse saw an unfamiliar log and went nuts: GB gave her horse a slightly bemused look and then kept plodding, at which point it realised it wasn't actually a tiger and followed him.

We remain, however, a one-horse household. We thought we'd found a good one last week, but the vet comprehensively failed him yesterday ("There's no point charging you for a five-stage vetting.... It's £150 for a two-stage, but I barely got to stage two so call it £100"). Have now started phoning people like GB's chiropractor, and stopping to chat with people I know to say hello to on the lane, to see if they know of anything.

(There's a slight deadline on this, as a) I don't want GB to be on his own at the new house and b) I want Mike to have lots of lessons with our current instructor as he's getting used to the new horse.)

Next weekend, we're going to have a few days away from home, and maybe we'll try and find some horses to look at as well.

Last weekend, we went to see This House, where we sat in the Opposition and got swooshed around the stage a lot. It was very good, although I fear I may have missed some of the references. I did, however, know who Finchley was when she got mentioned, so she'd already been on my mind.

Eastercon seemed to go well, and we seem to have escaped the various con cruds, which was a relief. We were probably protected by the power of Mike's dongle. The auction went suspiciously well: would anyone like to own up to stuffing the Smash Tin with £20s, or will I have to live with having more money than my records suggest I should?

I'm off to the GP tomorrow, to follow up on my blood pressure. I've bought a little machine since then, and have been taking it every week or so, so I have a nice little graph showing that it's consistently on the boundary between "normal" and "go to the doctor if you feel faint", so hopefully that will put this silliness to bed. Of course, then there's the other row to have, but one thing at a time. And at least I don't have to carefully not get annoyed now. Am torn between demanding a cholesterol test to prove my point and not wanting to risk it in case it's fractionally high and they spend the rest of my life trying to put me on bloody statins.

Work continues, much to the surprise of Some People. Boss needs to make up her mind what she wants to do when I move, though, and continues to put it off as she is Too Busy And Doesn't Want To Think About It. I keep meaning to nag her, but she's frightfully stressed.

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