Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Archie's summer afternoon

Here I am today relaxing at the back of my garden.

But I do have a gate into a very large field - perhaps it's time to be brave and explore.

It's MUCH bigger than my garden.

Look, my people are playing with their new toy - a flying disc.

May I come and play too?
You are a long way away.

Now I'm here, surely you'd love to play with me instead? I'm sure I'm irresistable upside-down.

Now I have to go and hunt down a leaf, excuse me.

Person number two. Will you please throw my leaf for me? And stroke my fluffy tummy again while you're there.

Even better than a leaf - a lovely feather.

Will you throw my feather for me so I can jump and chase it?

That's quite enough running and jumping around, I'll have a rest now and chew my feather in peace. You can go back to your game now.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

A week by the sea

We've just returned from a lovely week in our favourite place - Swanage in Dorset. It's the third year we've been and we love being there, it seems a very friendly place with a sandy beach and interesting shops, but not too big and impersonal. We know where the deli is and what to buy from it and I always buy lots of second-hand novels from the Oxfam shop to keep me going for most of the year - then I take back the ones I don't want to keep the next year! This time we stayed in a flat right in the middle of the town, noisy but brilliantly convenient. This was our view from the kitchen:

but we could see the sea from every room, I was lying in bed yesterday looking at the boats bobbing up and down. The boys had fish and chips twice from the opposite shop, I watched them going in together while I was cooking something slightly more healthy for the grown-ups!

We had sun every day and walked last Sunday morning from our front door along the coastal path, the very first photo I posted is Swanage bay looking back.
And on we went to Studland Bay which is a beautiful unspoilt long stretch of beach with proper sand-dunes and lots of soft sand.

We went back a few more times in the week as the top bit is not usually very busy and is great for burying your brother in the sand and other beach-related activities:

At night we could look out and see the pretty lights in the street:

We loved watching all the people come and go and the hum of chatter and muffled jazz coming from the pub next door.

And we walked along the coastal path the other way one evening to look at the moon, and back at the bay.

It's so peaceful and restful being by the sea when it's gently lapping away at the shore, and it was a really lovely escape from the hustle and bustle of term-time life. I'm finding it very hard to be back as I'm returning to a couple of stressful situations but am so glad of the experience we did have. I've got a few more photos I'll post another time rather than do a really long post now.

Archie had a good time away at the cattery, was 'a little monkey' according to the ladies there (they love him and play with him lots), because he climbed on top of everything including doors so he could be nosy and see what everyone else was doing. He was very glad to sleep on our bed last night but decided at 4am that it was time to get up and play - we let him out of the room so he scurried downstairs to fetch his long black feather and favourite plastic strip from the top of a tortilla packet (strange kitten, but it really is his favourite thing in the world as it rustles and can be carried about easily) and brought them both all the way upstairs to share with us as he batted them and chewed them at the foot of the bed. Of course he's been asleep most of the day now.

I'm back at work tomorrow so it'll take me while to catch up with you all and find out what you've been up to!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Vintage summery china

Ages ago I showed off my e-bay Colclough china purchase in this post, and said I was collecting more - and finally I've managed to post some photos.
It was a very bright sunny day when I took these, it's grey now!
I'm really not normally a flowery person as I said before, but when I saw on my e-bay travels that the design with the gold bands and wavy edges seemed to come in several pastel colours with and without various floral designs I just had to get a mixture.

I've seen that there's a pale green with tiny forget-me-nots on as well as the pale blue one I've got, but that was in the 'sold' listings, so I'll have to keep looking.
So what I need now is a group of friends to come round for a civilised tea-party with scones and jam and sponge cake - and a bit of sunshine!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Felt pebbles without real heavy pebbles

I've been making felt-covered real pebbles for a long time, to use as paperweights, but was recently contacted by a lady interested in lightweight felt pebbles to replace some ornamental rocks belonging to a friend of hers.
She'd asked for a mixture of colours rather than just greys, with something that represented the striations in rock- so I tipped out all my colours and put some greys and purples together, and made each one wrapped with some white silk - I used the cut-off edges of silk mawata squares but I'm sure strands would have been easier and worked just as well. It took ages to build up the layers of felt for the larger ones as they shrink down so much but I always enjoy a challenge!
Here's the first set I did.

Having sent my customer some photos, she then asked for a few more larger ones as well. I'd just about reached my limit of size by wrapping wool, so off I went to the chemist for some bath sponges, which I hoped I could cut into shape as a base, then I just wrapped the tops round it.

The largest one was quite a challenge as it ended up SO large I couldn't keep hold of the layers as I wrapped,

so it ended up being pretty loose and took ages to felt as I had to make sure I didn't rush it and crease it.
But in the end I'd got a good range of sizes and off they went in the post this week. Archie helped with the packing up.

I wish I'd been able to get a photo of when he stuffed most of himself head first into the envelope. He'd been trying to run off with any available pebbles for ages so I'm very relieved they're safely in the post - I'm hoping they'll be just right for my customer's friend!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Archie happily sleeping

Archie is very, very comfortable here in his favourite place for sleeping. He has been bouncing around in the garden all morning and has snuggled up on his hammock bed on his cat tower. He's getting very long now and doesn't really fit on unless he curls up, so he's done a lot of stretching his toes out today and has paws dangling over the edge.
But surely this is the most un-dignified position to choose?

I felt unable to take a photo from directly above to preserve his modesty, but almost wondered if I should start a most-un-dignified-cat-pose competition. I expect there has already been one somewhere.
While Archie has been snoozing I have been gardening and picking blackcurrants, then I realised I'd have to defrost the freezer so I could put them in. So I'm very bored waiting for it to finish.

Thank you for all your helpful comments on my last post - I'm actually really enjoying having no sweet things as it's made me eat really healthily - lots of avocados and green veg and fish (I had smoked salmon for breakfast this morning which was a bit odd, and also a bit expensive but at least it was on special offer - Archie was very happy to sample a bit - he's just learnt that people-food is very interesting!)
I do feel better for it so far, so will carry on as long as I can. And I will pop to the doctor too to ask for a blood test just so they can check everything's working properly, it can't do any harm and I'd never thought of low thyroid function, but it does fit with some of the symptoms so would be good to rule-out. So thank you once again for all your support.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Redcurrant Jelly

Aren't these just so beautiful - the way they are so very red, and shiny, and translucent, against the green leaves? They are right at the end of the garden and I usually forget to net them so the birds often get them all. This year I draped a net over most of them and the birds enjoyed what they could reach, but I got the rest. There are still some ripening so we'll have another picking session next week.
Quality Control approved them:

then I had my fist go at redcurrant jelly. It was immensely cheering working with such a deep red liquid, here it is in the pan:

I heard you had to dissolve the sugar thoroughly before boiling so I stirred it for ages.

In the end I only had enough for one jar, but it does look very lovely when the light shines through it.

Sadly though I boiled it too long, it seems to need about a minute or even a bit less and I wasn't watching carefully enough - so it's set very, very firmly making it un-spreadable, in fact probably inedible in its current form. But I shall save it for Christmas recipes- you either need a spoonful for red cabbage or cranberry relish or both, can't remember without checking, and I'll have another go at the jelly next week!

Thank you all of you for your support after my last post, I'm feeling a little better and calmer and am also trying a healthier diet recommended by more than one person as helpful - basically it's no sugar at all, as little wheat as possible, preferably none, and lots of protein and vegetables. Strictly speaking you're supposed to leave out sugary fruit too for the first couple of weeks but I'm looking at my ripening pears knowing nobody else will eat them, so I'm going to have to give in a bit, I'll compromise by having them with some nuts to slow down the sugar release (all very scientific). I'm sure there are many eating plans that recommend this way of eating, I've certainly seen a few before - but it's putting it into practice that's the hard part. I think the main thing is the no sugar because processing it stresses your body and can worsen your mood when the levels dip again, so I'm trying to love nuts and seeds instead of cereal bars for snacks. Apart from a tiny taste of my redcurrant jelly I've left all other sugary things well alone, and I'll stick to it as long as I possibly can because eating unprocessed nuts, seeds, protein and vegetables has got to be better than eating biscuits and jam sandwiches at tea-time, which is what I was doing!
So I'm sure that will help - it also gives me something to focus on and means I'm concentrating on looking after myself, which we can tend to forget about when we're low. And if it doesn't quite help enough I won't hesitate to seek other solutions. Now I'm off to make a cup of (healthy packed-with-antioxidants green) tea and resist the tub of mini chocolate cakes my son wanted for himself yesterday!
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