Monthly Archives: September 2015


Bless This House

Bless This House. Says it all, doesn’t it? It’s my latest paper cutting and I hope to be posting one for sale this evening (I usually make limited editions of five).

It’s got squiggles, acorns,  a nice hot cup of tea, a daft rabbit running on the roof of the cottage, an apple tree with a couple of ripe wind falls and a swallow flying happily overhead.

Made me happy designing and cutting it.

It’s now backed, mounted, framed and in a new home not too far away (not mine).


Beaded and Bobbled

Heylo! I couldn’t resist making a couple of black and white Samsara birds to go with the new bedside cabinets. Here’s one. No poly stuffing just lots of dried lavender to fill out the body. The fragrance is lovely. I made use of my beading foot to stitch a line of iridescent clear beads around it and then stitched some dangly bobbles around the outside. She’s now hanging in the bedroom from some wrought iron candle holders and sets them off beautifully.

Here’s the Singer machine. The machine itself has lost a fair bit of the gilt decal but is still handsome. When not in use, the machine is stored inside the frame – it has an ingenious mechanism that allows it to rotate out of view and sit upside down out of the way and let the lid sit flat when closed.

The wood is too dark for my taste so over the next week or two, it will be dismantled and painted egg-shell white (same as for the bedside cabinets) and then re-assembled. The iron work is lovely and I’ll simply give it a rub over with some lamp blacking.

Hmmm, somebody is giving it a quick inspection. Cats are like Customs Officers. Did you pack this Singer Sewing Machine yourself? Did you leave it unattended anywhere? I assured her that it had been properly brought to the house but she had to make sure no mice or birds had been smuggled in.

Or spiders. Poor things. I found a big one all crumpled up in the sewing room this morning. Looked like the NEC (National Exhibition Centre in the UK) had been collapsed and awaiting dismantlement.

We had two huge ones roaming around the bedroom last night. We are getting quite an invasion of them lately. Especially last night when we had thunder, lightning and rain of almost biblical ferocity.

They were wandering about for a while, then I heard a distinct ‘thunk’ when one dropped to the carpet – no wonder the cats find them so easily. Then again, once they spot them (which is pretty much instantly) they focus on them like laser beams. Every single move they make is monitored and surveillance is constant. One wrong move – ‘Thunk’ did it – and the shooters pop out and pat them flat in seconds. At least it’s quick.

Inspection complete and the machine gets the Gracie permit of approval.

Chat, Other

Happy Days

The weekend is here again. Today started off in a totally smashing way with an egg on toast from happy, free-ranging, organically fed chookie birds. A friend came round yesterday with a baker’s clutch ( a new phrase I’ve just coined and  unashamedly based upon a ‘Baker’s Dozen’ for rolls of bread). In case you don’t know, a ‘Baker’s Dozen’ means thirteen bread rolls. My ‘Baker’s Clutch’ means seven eggs and not six. That was a lovely surprise AND she’d also brought some home made cheese scones which we’ll be snacking on later with some mature vintage cheese.

Anyway, the cabinets got finished and look a treat. They will be our bedside cabinets by this evening. What do you think?


I also did some cooking and had a big pressure cooker full of lentil soup, sub-titled ‘Useful Soup for Benevolent Purposes’. This turn of phrase popped up on the Great British Bake Off – the history bit. Apparently, it was one of the original Mrs Beeton recipes in her collection ‘Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management’, the rest having been appropriated from a variety of sources.

Another nice Victorian turn of phrase popped up in the Salvage Hunters with Drew Pritchard. Again, with a foody theme. While scrambling over piles of old furniture and stored boxes he was slightly concerned that an old toilet could give way under his weight and he might lose his ‘Gentlemans’ Vegetables’ – how’s that for a lovely old euphemism?

Sewing Machine Bits

And more antiquities. I was given an old Singer Sewing machine with treadle table. In full working order, as well. It had one previous owner, a seamstress all her life who used this one machine. She lived to the grand old age of 100 and was only four months or so shy of her 101st. The machine is well-used and very well looked after.

It included the original instruction book which was full of really useful bits of information such as how to use the feet (they’re all there including a ruffler foot). It looks like an old ration book and is dated 1928 so was manufactured between the two world wars. It would have been a wonderful handbook for the sewist, he/she not having Google and You Tube available at the click of a finger like we have. Aren’t we lucky?

Isn’t it wonderful? Lots of hints, tips and detailed instructions with diagrams. Just so well thought through and organised. Some of the language used shows its age as well – for example, one of the instructions refers to a diagram with the words ‘as shewn’.

Newey’s Sewing Aids

Then there was this charming and truly lovely little book. It is comprised of several pages: hooks and eyes, snap fasteners, needles, needle threaders, etc.

Each set has a corresponding page detailing how to sew them on.

It even includes embroidery stitches for decorative purposes.

Naturally, the needles and pins have gone rusty with time but you can see what a lovely bit of kit this would have been. And what a lovely present to give to a sewist!


Lazy Sunday Afternoon


Having a lovely loungy Sunday. It’s a jammie day – which reminds of an e-card I saw recently:

I live in my pyjamas unless I’m going somewhere or I know someone is about to come over to my house. Even then, it’s iffy. In our house we call pyjamas ‘jammies’ or, more usually, ‘Smegs’ after Lister in Red Dwarf.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Am delighted to report that progress with the bedside cabinets is finally being made! Remember the knobs I bought a month or so ago? See here:


They’re on! The cabinets just need another coat of paint each and the door of the second one needs putting back on but they’re nearly ready to live in the bedroom.

We bought the pair of cabinets at an auction. They are solid oak (I think), fairly old and beautifully ornate. Originally, they were that dark, dark brown colour that just eats light like a black hole. Far too dismal for me. Now, they’re sanded and painted with an off-white eggshell to give them some reflective properties but not shiny shiny like boots of leather.

To be honest, me and Mr Jones nearly fell out over them at the auction. I wanted them and he didn’t and this caused some squabbling and disgruntlement  but when we got them at €24, the pair, he didn’t mind so much. And, if they had turned out to be a pair of lemons they’d have still been useful down the shed.

Since then, though, he’s worked on them (with nagging  only the breeziest mention in passing) and transformed them into objects of beauty. The knobs are brand new – porcelain – but complement the cabinets a treat. I adore them. Finally, he admitted that he thinks they’re beautiful as well. So, Ode to Joy, happy clappy.

Broken Windows… TV and PC…

This month the telly went ‘fzzz’. It just died. Not that old, either, but, naturally, out of warranty! Meh. Well, had to get a new telly. It’s the law. More disruptive was my PC dying! We found out when something tripped the circuit breakers. Mr Jones did some investigation and by a process of elimination traced it to the PC power supply. Its rating was even higher than it needed to be so no idea why it shorted, or whatever.  In fairness, it was knocking on a bit. Bought it  some eight / nine years ago. The motherboard and the rest of the system are fine so we’ll replace it soonish.

However, very luckily, I had just bought a new laptop as my existing one was getting a bit wheezy. The Display Driver kept failing and recovering causing delays while on the net. It was getting very hot (despite thoroughly giving the vents a vac) and other droid-rot symptoms were becoming ever-more frequently manifest. Definitely a terminal case (Groans at geeky joke).

The new one is an Asus with a quad core processor, 8Gb RAM and a Tb of storage and I’m happy enough with it for the time being. But, it came with Windows 8 so got rid of that by installing Windows 10 – with careful and thorough setting up to disable numerous on-by-default settings configured by Microsoft. Some of them are buried and you’d probably not think to go looking unless tipped off. If you’re interested, there’s a checklist here:

But, Oh, the pain. First the many, many hours of waiting for all the patches and updates to the operating system to be gone through. Like Purgatory. Then the torture of reinstalling all the programmes; setting up e-mail,  digging out passwords, user names, etc, looking for new drivers connecting to printers, scanners and other stuff. Agony! All time consuming, deadly boring and a right pain in the arse.

I’ve also switched off the MS automatic updates (Patches Tuesday?) and will manually give them weekly access just so I can keep an eye on what’s being updated. Read the news, folks, Microsoft are downloading Win 10 prep files  for your machines whether you want to upgrade or not. I don’t want any sneaky re-configuring of the security settings while I’m having forty winks on the sofa!

*** I cannot stop automatic updates! Windows won’t allow that – all I can do is stop automatic reboots***

Outrageously rude! (Shuffles off in angry pants).

I brightened things up by also installing Linux Mint to get  VR ware running my e-mail so it’s separate from Windows altogether. While poking about for drivers and other apps I also found Maelstrom. It’s awesome, a huge time-waster but  fun. Dam Hot, Yeehaa!

Anyway, this month has eaten money very, very rudely.  It has also been a very wet September so far. Cold and damp. I’ve had the heating on lots and today put the garden furniture away in the shed. That’s the end of summer in my book.

I took a few pictures of the garden before the flowers totally die off for the year. It’s still got lots of colour but fading.

Lots of hot pinks and orange but not the riot or carnival of colour it was even a month ago. The hydrangea at the back is one of several. The front garden has three and one of them is really big and looks tremendous, like it’s been Photoshopped, in full bloom.

The apple tree down the bottom is dropping its fruit and wasps are having a party of it down there. The apples are lovely, very sweet and crisp but having to run the gauntlet of wasp attacks is a bit of a nuisance. We’re also getting some bluebottles in the house. They drive me crazy. They’re as big as B52s and buzz like low bombers, usually, around my head. I try to hoosh them out the window but if they don’t go, or the cats don’t get them, I take the brush head off the vacuum cleaner and suck them up the nozzle. I don’t like doing it and would prefer they went free but I’m only human.

Both cats see  big house spiders as fair game as well as flies and I regularly find them knotted up like the little nests of tangled cotton like you get if the sewing machine isn’t threaded up properly. If I spot them first, I give them a quick poke to make them run away and take cover. If the girls see them first, they’re goners.

While taking a few pics I spotted Cat, a lovely boy from down the road, under the Catoniasta (how appropriate!).

Him and Gracie are beastie-bests (like besties but animal besties). They are often out together and when he shows up I know Gracie isn’t far away. Jess isn’t too impressed with him and will hiss him out if she’s got her mardy pants on.

If her mardy pants are a bit tight, she’ll bop him on the head or bottom and chase him out but no worse than that. No nasty fights with claws or teeth. Just hissy fits, thank goodness.  I like him and think he’s a lovely little fella, though, and let him come in for a sleep, a drink of water and maybe the odd tidbit or two. When Jess isn’t around….

Well, time for a nice cup of coffee and a think about what to have for tea. Have a nice day.

Chat, Crafts, Other

Home is where the art is

Hello Dare! I was very brave this morning and hung out two washloads on the line. The outdoors! But am now feeling that it might not have been the best decision…  First thing, the sun was smiling, really beaming,  but now the sky is grey. To add to the fretting, I keep ‘hearing’ the sound of rain – except that I don’t – it’s just paranoia and auditory hallucinations. A bit like the Blackpool Hallucinations, only visual.

Anyway, just so you know that I give my all to my art, I managed to sever an artery cutting my latest piece. (Hence the title, home is where the art – arterial bleeding – is).  I exaggerate. It just felt like it but the volume of blood lost was enough to make me faint even if the sight of it didn’t. I’m full of porkies today, aren’t I? I’m not squeamish, I didn’t faint and was perfectly able and up to dealing with it. My quilty pockets kitchen roll mopped it up admirably and saved the day and the carpet.

Anyway, I was cutting my latest design, ingeniously and intriguingly called ‘Home’ on account of the word ‘Home’ in the design (no shit Sherlock), and persevered (notice that word ‘sever’ in there?) even though my scalpel blade was a bit blunt. For information, you’re more likely to damage the paper cut design and / or yourself with a blunt blade than a sharp one.

So, knowing this, I stupidly, carried on. Even though looking at the design I knew that I wanted to re-do sections of it. Even though it was as much fun as chewing cotton wool (do you get that really bad mouth feeling if you imagine biting cotton wool? uurgh!).

Part of the problem for me is that I hate and fear changing my scalpel blades. They are extremely sharp and are of surgical quality. They would perform a certain Jewish ceremony in the blink of an eye and remove a couple of cataracts in the duration if you got too close trying to get a look in – nearly said ‘Butchers’.

I just don’t have an easy knack of changing them and find the whole operation (ha ha) one of such intense concentration that when I actually try to, I would put a bomb defusal expert to shame for acting like a flibbertygibbert. Well, says me, anyhoo. And I’m the one who nearly had a home like a murder investigation so I’m qualified to say. Besides, this is my blog, my play pen so my rules. (Am up me own arse today, aren’t I?).

This was the final and ‘best’ design held up against the window. In real life, the papercut comes to life and has an almost translucent quality when offered up to the light but cameras don’t see things the same way so here it is looking dark and opaque. But it has its own charm. IMHO.

This was the heap of disjectamenta. No bandages or blood spillage. No transfusion bags, even though I have donated over 25 times so should be owed at least one back by now.

I gave up on the cutting as it was so laborious. Really must ALWAYS use a sharp blade. Press, pull, press and pull again, still not cut… A right CHORE.

And also, I wasn’t happy with the design. Certain elements displeased me. You know how it is. Once your eye sees things that aren’t right, you can’t unsee them. Then it’s like the Princess and the Pea. Can’t settle until the offending element is removed. Though, in the case of the princess, the problem would have been solved with a pair of Tenna Lady incontinence pants without all the fuss of turning her mattress and remaking the bed.

New watercolour crayons

But there was another bright spot (the sunshine being the other – which, btw, seems to have re-appeared – Yay!). St Parcel of Motel had something for me to collect. Staedler crayons with ABS!!!  Yes!

ABS (wikipedia)

Anti-lock braking system (ABS) is an Aquaelle water colour crayon safety system that allows the lead in a water-colour crayon to maintain tractive contact with the paper surface according to artist inputs while braking, preventing the crayon from locking up and avoiding uncontrolled skidding and scribbling.

That’s right – my crayons are totally Top Gear. They have ABS.

More porkies. They DO have ABS. However, it actually means Anti-BREAK System  ‘for uninterrupted creativity’. Actually, that’s not always so welcome. I kind of like the odd interruption – cup of tea. Cup of coffee. Quick visit or a pop round. Bit of cake. Fig roll biscuits (proper ones – Jacobs). Good interruptions. Not annoying or bad ones. Ding Dongs at the door from stranger-dangers. I am always mindful of the good advice from Moss (IT Crowd) ‘A happy door is a closed door’:

Moss: This is London, Jen. It’s not someone with cake. Unless that cake is made of dog poo and knives.

Such wisdom in one so young.

The crayons are ‘Ergosoft’, water colour Aquaelles so will do a bit of sketching and painting when I get some free time later on. They look fab and have given me a happy head and made me a bit fizzy. I can’t concentrate for the nonsense inside myself today as a result!

Also, painted this pot for a neighbour. It’s planted up with a gorgeous Hebe which suits the pot shape and size perfectly.

As well as some water colour painting and sketching this evening, I have a queue of stuff recorded on the box. The Great British Bake Off – Superb! So sorry Ugnes had to go (it was in the papers); she was something special and so fun. And the Jo Brand Friday show about TGBBO which is always a good laugh.

Have also got a few ‘8 out of 10 Cats’, My Haunted House, Drew Pritchard and his Salvage Hunting and I must ‘fess Up, Abby Lee Dance Moms or whatever the latest offering is…. I so love that show. I’m an A. L. Junkie.

Well, confessional time is over. And, so that, today, is that.


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