Sunday, 27 December 2009

I just can't stop...

...BAKING

Since my new cooker finally arrived I have been on a baking binge.I have baked every day and generally several times a day. Everyone must have baked goods...not because I am good generous sort, but because otherwise I will put on a stone in weight at a rate never known to man.

I gave up "real" baking long ago in the old cooker, it was just too discouraging. I would follow the recipe but more often than not it would not come out right, the result usually more charcol than golden brown. With the new cooker there have been no horrors AND I am trying new recipes with success first time around.If there is a baking heaven I am in it. I am thrilled with this new cooker and it has made me realise that the problem before was definately not me but my old and ancient cooker.

To make life even more rosy I have invested in a new utensil which is making pastry a breeze...a pastry cutter! For years I thought they were a gimmick...well to anyone that has not used one they most certainly are not.No more pastry under the fingernails, no more aching hands if the fat was too hard when you were trying to rub it it. What you have is a cleaner and lightning quick way of making pastry. I have started making 2 batches at a time.

I plan to start putting some of the recipes I am enjoying online. Most homely folk will have baked the same things over and over I am sure, but you never know there maybe someone out there just starting out. :o)

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Even newbies can be useful

This week we had something that I have been both dreading and looking forward to in equal measure...Quiz night at the Photographic Group. Dreading because most of the people that go are professionals or retired professionals and I was envisaging not being able to answer a single question. I was however looking forward to it in the hope we were bound to learn something...Oh for silver linings!

We split ourselves into teams of 4. By fluke, the way it happened our team was made up of the youngest members ( gee how good it feels to include myself in that description LOL ).We had the pleasure of joining up with 2 others we had not yet had the chance to mix with so it turned out to be fun from the start. Thinking of a name was easy... how could we resist "The Nippers"?

Most of the questions seemed very obscure EVEN the general knowledge ones that were supposed to act as a warm up at the start. With the threat of loosing out to a team of more senior folk we were tempted to use some pocket electronic technology but we refrained and used our brains instead.

After 2 hours of scratching of heads, working out sums and scribbling diagrams on paper the torture was over ( almost ) and it was time for scoring. Much to the delight of the room it came to a play off between The Nippers and The Oldies (a team to our left)... we both had a grand total of 31 points. Then came my biggest moment in the history of Doxie Quiz nights...Thank goodness for being a newbie and a beginner as this means some of the basic techno stuff is still lingering in my brain from the last manual I've read. The deciding question...

" What does AEB stand for?"

The most confident I had been all night I answered "Autoexposure Bracketing" and "hurrah!" Team Nippers won the night!

It was my lucky night...We not only won a team prize we could split but I also won a raffle prize. To top it off, a lovely gent K had printed off some pics from a private portrait session we'd done with him. All in all a jolly good evening. :o)

Doxie the satisfied!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Angry Doxie

I am a thoroughly fed up Doxie. I have had no cooker since Saturday morning. A new one was delivered and the old one taken away but they delivered the wrong cooker, grrrrr! All the paperwork refers to the one we choose, a black one, but they delivered a graphite one which has a different code so goodness knows how they managed that. The delivery men said they'd leave the graphite one just incase they had trouble getting hold of the other one ( I think they knew something about the company we didn't!). They suggested that we ask permission to open this one and use it if we had to wait for the black one.

This will be our 4th night without a means of cooking hot food and they will not give us permission to open it. I have had to throw food away because it had gone out of date and that really hurts.

I have stayed in for two re-deliveries and they just did not turn up even though they had CONFIRMED by text and voicemail. You wouldn't think we were in such a deep recession would you with the lack of customer care these places have.

I wait to see if they can actually get their act together and deliver it tomorrow as that is the latest delivery date. I am considering asking for my money back seeing as they have not delivered the goods I ordered, have caused me to be out of pocket and going to one of their competitors instead.

Watch this space. I am angry...infact DS said when he heard my telephone call to the so called customer services he had never in his life heard me so angry.


Doxie Grrrrrrrr !!!!!

EDITED TO SAY IT HAS FINALLY ARRIVED AFTER WE STAYED IN 6 TIMES FOR DELIVERY!!!!!!

bye bye birdie

My pet birdie passed away during last Monday night. The saddest thing is that when I put him to bed that night I said to him

"I haven't got any pictures of you, I must take some tomorrow."

Tomorrow never came for birdie but I guess if I did have pictures I would just be looking at them now making myself more sad. He had a good 15 1/2 years so I guess I mustn't really be sad. He never had a day's sickness either so that is a blessing.

Bye bye birdie aka Screecher Creature, I shall miss our little chats and your cheery songs.

Doxie x

Monday, 16 November 2009

Ground open up and swallow me PLEASE moment

I knew today was going to be bad/evenful. I was very naughty and made a cheeky remark to Mr Patience when I got in the car. Oh dear what a mistake...I was punished good and proper lol ...He took me out of my comfort zone today to the congested city...it really took all my concentration and energy away and I have learned something...do not try and engage in conversation when you are doing something else that is mentally demanding. Why you ask? Well the reason is that somehow the concentration it takes means that normal things like speaking in coherent sentences goes right out of the window. I was trying to explain that I had a conversation with my family the night before in which I pointed out that Mr Patience was very good in not letting me off of things, or getting away with stuff. Unfortunately I got it all mixed up and announced to him that it was good that he wouldn't let me "get off" in his lessons, realising what I said I tried to amend it only to say he was good at "stopping me getting off" by which time I had completely lost all sense of the English language and couldn't even hope to redeem myself by explaining what I really meant. That has to be one of my most cringe worthy moments EVER! It's only rival is the "underwear/ blackboard incident" at college... which I may share with you one day...if I am brave or stupid enough...I still cringe now even though it was over 20 years ago.

Embarrassement aside, some twit decided to walk in front of the car on the way home, I swerved to avoid him which was not good ( not that I mean I should have hit him lol ), but it was better than an emergency stop as the car behind was travelling right up our boot!

Oh what fun this driving lark is...I will certainly remember my lessons forever, sadly I think my instructor might remember me, but for all the wrong reasons!!!!

Doxie who is cringing still ( truly! )

Friday, 13 November 2009

Things NOT to do indoors

Don't play tennis...things get broken...ooops

Thankfully it was just a HIDEOUS ornament/souvenir somebody had brought me back from Paris...The crashing sound it made when it hit the ground, kind of brought us back to reality.Oh well at least my DS can't say his Mum was never any fun ( ahem!)

Doxie trying to remember she is a responsible adult!


Ooooh just realised it was Friday 13th...should have brought a lottery ticket, my Dad won £2000 on Friday 13th and that was in the days when 2 grand was a lot of money! Too late now, ho hum.

Friday, 6 November 2009

A new twist on the pennant idea

There is always somebody out there that puts an individual twist on a well run idea and this is no exception, check out this link for a beautiful take on the pennant. I love the recycling idea , the one colour theme and best of all the idea of gathering them slightly...great look!

Doxie

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

We're the new kids in the class again

I am quite blessed by the fact that Mr Doxie and I share many interests. One of these is photography...He is streets ahead of me in knowledge, understanding and technique but that is okay, at least he can explain things to me when it all goes pear shaped, and when we go out to take pics I can compare...I find I learn much just from the differences in our individual "take" on the same subject...That said, there are times when you'd never believe we were in the same location when I look at what we each chose to photograph. I have noticed he tends to go for landscapes, whereas I tend to go for individual features...He records the big picture, I record the elements within it! :o)

Life does tend to get in the way of leisure time and lately we found that we were indulging in our hobby less and less...we really needed "a kick up the butt" ( Mr Doxie's phrasing on the situation ) Well I think we have found the solution...we have done a trawl of the local clubs and found a super little band of fellow snappers. The folk are friendly, willing to share their knowledge and have a dynamic attitude in embracing modern techniques. We have been to this one 3 times and each week we find ourselves more inspired, it's just the ticket!

last night there was a lecture on colour management. This is something that I personally had not even dipped my toe into yet, however now I realise if I am to enter into competitions etc it is an absolute necessity as there are fairly strict rules about how you present your images. I probably only understood about half of what the speaker said so I think I need to do a little homework! It's like being back at school...I think this will be a challenge but as long as I have fun along the way I don't mind. :o)

The group go out on joint outings in the Summer...it'll be so nice to be in the company of people who understand WHY you just have to stop and take a picture of an interesting stone, tree, or cloud formation! At times my non-photographer friends look at me as if I am slightly deranged!...or should I say more deranged than usual, so this will be very fulfilling I am sure.

I guess what we are learning is...Why go it alone, when there are ooddles of others out there with the same passions?...Sharing with others really does make life more interesting. :o)

Are you going it alone with your hobbies, go on try a club. From what we have experienced, most let you go a couple of times before they ask you to sign up and part with any money, so if you don't like it the only thing you have lost is a few hours of your time. :o)

Doxie

Monday, 2 November 2009

Today's driving lesson

I had my lesson a little earlier today. Even though it is November it is very hot sat in the car...I must remember NOT to apply my fake tan the day before driving because even with 3 baths I can still smell it when I sit in a confined environment such as the car, and when it is hot, well YICK!...I could go for the pale and interesting look...I can do the pale but I'm not so sure I can carry off the interesting!

We did some bay parking in a fairly busy car park...got it right second time around. We spent most of the time driving around the local area, it is incredible how you can eat up 2 hours of driving going very little distance.

I did a parallel park which I ruined as I was looking through the wrong window...I was following my routine for reversing around a corner by mistake...oops! Oh well I won't beat myself up over it.

I feel I am getting more confident on the roundabouts which pleases me as they held such terror before. I have lately tried to analyse my fears with the idea that if I can find the root cause I can "get over it". My brother had a rather horrific accident on a roundabout on his motorbike many years ago, and I think this has stuck in my mind unbeknown to me until now when I really have forced myself to think about it. I was told I need to start looking in my mirrors earlier when overtaking parked cars etc, I hope I read this to remind myself before my next lesson!

Doxie who I think is evolving :o/

Sunday, 1 November 2009

welcome

Welcome to my new followers Cantora Lauriete and RM. Lovely to have you here...I hope you enjoy what you find and stick around.

Doxie ( delighted to know that someone actually reads this lol! )

Halloween





A few weeks ago Mr Doxie got sweet talked around by the little horrors darlings who live locally to agreeing that they could come and knock on our door at Halloween. I never encourage this personally ( I look upon it as begging ) but Mr Doxie is a bit of an old softie and in this case he knew the kiddies and in their defence,they did ask so I guess we can let him off this once for saying yes... Of course this meant that we had to go out especially one night to buy in supplies of tooth rotting delicious candy to dish out to them on Halloween night.

Now somehow I had been dragged into this as I was told that apparently if you are going to do it at all, you have to do it properly!...cue lots of frantic sewing to make up suitable bags ( complete with appliqued bats on of course! )to put the candy in.

Cue the day in question...We had a very pleasant day on 31st October visiting a local abbey. I had not been out with the camera for some time, so thought wandering around the abbey grounds looking for something with the theme of Halloween would be a good way to get back into the swing of it.

It is hard to think of Halloween and not think of scary or morbid but hopefully my pictures fit the bill okay. I came across a pet cemetery...it was quite moving to think that people so many years ago were just as "animal nuts" as us today, well you'd have to be, to have little tombstones made up especially...somehow I think they wouldn't have been using a power tool to make these up...so much love/labour would have been involved, if not expense.BTW there were much older graves than this, but it was rather difficult to read the names.

...for the day of the dead I give you Grip, Mike and Barney's final resting places...I'm sure they were much loved pets for someone to have gone to all the trouble of making them a beautiful place to rest in. Unfortunately I forgot my monopod ( groan ) so the pics of the little building that was built in their honor are not as clear as I would like, other wise I would have posted them too. I have a shakey hand these days, must be all the gin!








I took this silhouette of the tree and the building with the idea of placing a rook on the end of the branch but alas it has been a busy 24 hours since and I have not had time to do this...perhaps by next halloween I will have got around to it...I have the pic of the rook in question that I took a few months ago with this kind of project in mind, but hey ho other things take priority don't they?

I also found some interesting lamps...I thought I'd try my hand at creating two looks, menancing and friendly...Below is the lamp as was pretty much, just normal digital dark room processing, no fancy stuff...It is not very atmospheric really isn't it? You will have seen my attempts at my little experiment at the top of the post...I focused ( excuse the pun ) on the top of the lamps...I am not so sure now whether the first shot really is friendly, but it sure as heck isn't as grim or menancing as the other two. I don't know if you see what I see what I see in it.

Anyway, on with the story of Halloween...We rushed back, which meant that Sharp End sacrificed his walk at the local wildlife reserve to make sure we got back in time for the little darlings that would be calling ( don't worry Sharp End had a good sniff and mung around in some woods near the Abbey earlier in the day )...and yes you guessed the delightful little cherubs didn't turn up! I am now stuck with a bag full of sugary empty calories that I would never go near in a million years...and I am talking a BIG bag...oh well, at least I had some banal televison to placate me in the form of the X Factor...that with a prawn curry and a bottle of red meant I had almost forgiven them by the time I went to bed...anyone want some candy?

Doxie

Going back to my VERY old ways.

Are you a girlie dear reader? Or should I ask are you a person who wears makeup? If so what kind of makeup wearer are you and where do you keep it all?

Are you terribly disciplined and only have one of everything, discarding items after 6 months of opening as the manufacturers would have us believe we should do... or are your cupboards bursting full of potions and powders ...are you due to creep in the back door of some dark building to attend a secret meeting where you will stand up in a room of strangers and and say "Hello my name is.....and I'm a makeup addict? I think I am the latter only I am out in the open...I am Doxie, I love makeup, always have, always will and the only way you could take it away from me would be to prise it from my cold clammy hands.

....And so we come to the question of storage. I have a million and one...no wait...make that a zillion and one makeup bags...they are all lovely quality pretty girlie style ones ( if I could get more adjectives in I would, because they really are quite quite wonderful )... mainly having arrived in my possession through the generosity of lovely MIL who often pampers me with cosmetics for Christmas and other gift giving occasions. Like all makeup addicts my collection has grown to obscene proportions AND this is after I purged a carrier bag full! It pains me to say it but I put such a lot straight in the bin...I can't think of anyone that would want opened make-up...I have a shoe box full sorted ready for something else but I will write about that in another post.

I did think a while ago I would use one bag for foundations, another for mascaras and so on....but that means that every time I go to make up I need to sort through some crazy number of bags and that just ain't practical is it girls?

Something I did hit on which seems to be working out is using my "Hello Kitty" smoothie cup for eyeliners...that seems to be practical... but as for the rest, well I am running out of room and ideas for storage... and it really doesn't look that nice to have lots of bags around no matter how pretty they are.

Well that was the mascara curdling situation yesterday and this is the brighter today. I've had this light bulb moment...or perhaps you could call it a flashback! I was thinking... when I was a teen I used to keep all my makeup in a fishing tackle box. No don't worry it was new, no essence du Mackerel lurking in any corners...I'm sure it was a purchase from Argos MANY years ago, the cantilever type...It was perfectly practical... lots of little compartments in the top trays and plenty of rummaging room in the main compartment below. When did I ever stop using it I wonder...not only is a tackle box roomy and easy to organise it is also very easy to clean, the lid means you can keep the dust out and they have a handle to cart them around...Never mind fancy purpose made makeup boxes with bling exteriors and strangely impractical interiors that stain, what ya need is a good sturdy fishing box...open it out and "voila" you have practically everything in view in one place...close it up stuff it in the bottom of the wardrobe, job done... Flat surfaces clear, time saved not searching all over for the right lipstick and the comforter on the bed stays cleaner for longer because when you empty out a makeup bag on it no matter how hard you try something always escapes be it powder or liquid.

Seems that somehow we do know best when we are young. Back in with the plain and boring....it's what's inside that counts ....or it's not where you store it, it's what you do with it!

Doxie the practical ( who makes no apologies for being a total out and out girlie )

Thursday, 29 October 2009

The time has come...

For me to admit that I really do need a new cooker. At present the only part of my cooker that works properly is the hob...for a main oven I am using a mini grill oven which is far from ideal and means that I can't really bake cakes etc.

With the festive season on the horizon I realise that I can't go any longer without a proper oven and the sooner I get one the quicker I can get used to it so hopefully will be au fait with it by Christmas when I will need it for social evenings.

This of course means that I will have to make room to bring a new one through the hall...ho hum, lots of sorting on the horizon.

Doxie

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

October's posts are not what they seem

Okay I still need to learn alot about this blogging lark. I tried to import my old blog and thought that my drafted posts would stay in order and dated as they were when I first wrote them...and of course they didn't!!!! So it may seem like I have been super busy crafting in October which I have not, they are mainly from the last six months and jumbled like nothing you've seen before...that said, hopefully the sentiment and content will still come across as intended.

Ho hum, learning all the time.

Doxie

Something I made for MIL

Here are some pics of my attempt at a tutorial Pink Penquin kindly shared with us,
Thankyou Pink Penquin for putting your tutorial up. Your instructions were clear and the images very useful... an enjoyable project.

It has a nice boxy bottom, this is before I ironed it.

Waiting for the top stitching.


I think this was before I put the lining in, it is a bit floppy but I interfaced the back of both lining and outer.



The finished product with a little tissue pouch I made.


...can you believe it, I cut the patchwork out the night before and started the next day at about 7am and it took me until 3pm!!!! Okay so I did have a few frantic phone calls in between from Hagatha who was trying to get to a duckling and her wellie boots but was being kept at bay by a vicious cockerel ( don't ask )...I'm not sure why she rings me at these key moments, maybe it is so someone can tell the authorities how she met her grisly and bizarre end...or maybe it is just because it makes me laugh...okay I know you shouldn't... but it is amusing listening to someone shrieking as they scrabble up on to a trampoline for safety with an earful of barnyard noises in the background...I am quite used to the cry of "It's coming to get me!" by now.


Anyway enough of these oddities and back to crafting. I found I didn't have any batting so I opted for a lightweight interfacing...didn't fancy the idea of trying to get anything stifffer through the 2" opening you have to turn it the right way around...It seems to have worked okay.


Things I would do differently: Put co-ordinating thread in the bobin so the stitching around the top of the lining didn't jump out at you so much, maybe embroider the plain squares a little before I sewed it together. Apart from that I am very happy. It took longer than I thought, but that may be the distraction of the phone calls and a very lively Sharp End...now he is on anti-inflammatories he is like a puppy again, I have lost count of the number of times I got up to retrieve either the contents of the bin, a pin cushion or some other thing out of his mouth. Oh the trials of a crafter's life. ;o)

MIL now has her little basket,it co-ordinates perfectly with her bedroom decor...it was the minty green that did it. What pleased me is that she saw the patchwork and said...
"Nice fabric, where did you get that?"
This pleased me no end because the fact that it was stitched together in squares had not been obvious, meaning I hope, that my patchwork skills are improving. :o) I gave her the little tissue cozy that is in the picture too and I made another for my friend Line.
Doxie wondering what colour combo to do for her own bedroom :o)

A minute's silence...

Could we just take a few moments to honour my dear crafting friend who left us forever yesterday. He was a great help in many projects and no other came close. We spent many an hour in each other's company and without him my projects would not have taken on such a finished and crisp/fresh look. He could seem a bit heavy at times but I think ultimately that was where his strength was... I liked it best when he really let off steam, it was then that we did our best work together...He will be missed, and yesterday I just could not do any crafting knowing that he was not there to aid me.

Goodbye my Rowenta iron...I am sure your replacement will do it's best, but you will take some beating.

XXX

Washing Grains

Here is an amazingly quick tutorial for washing grains. Firstly I'll tell you how this came about...Years ago we used to buy Japanese washing grains from The Body Shop in a cute little cannister. They were horrendously pricey for what they were, but DH loved them so we always had some in the bathroom. It really used to bug me as the smell reminded me of something but I couldn't think what...then one day it struck me...they smell like freshly cut runner beans! I looked on the container and they did indeed contain beans...Aduki beans. This sounded very exotic and I decided it must be something very special because of the price we were paying. Anyway like it always seems to happen, they stopped selling them, I do not know why.
Fast forward a few years when I was in a health food shop and there I spied the allusive ( to me ) Aduki beans. After whizzing the creative cogs in my brain for 10 seconds, I decided to buy some. They were inexpensive, in fact, cheap as any other dried beans.
By that evening DH was scrubbing himself away in the bathroom with our version of the bean scrub. Now as I said before I do not know the reason they stop selling them, but I do know that ingesting raw beans is a big no no...maybe it was a health and safety issue ( yawn ) maybe even if you didn't get them in your mouth you could absorb the toxins through your skin, perhaps there was a danger of scratching your eyeballs, who knows? Whatever the reason please be aware that these MAY NOT BE SAFE TO USE...I have had no trouble after using them for years and will continue to, but it doesn't mean that you won't...there, that was your health and safety warning. Also I would not let small children anywhere near them in the same way that you shouldn't let them play with talcum powder etc, you don't want any inhaling or choking accidents!!!!
If you still want to know how I made them this is how...

You need 1 coffee grinder ( that you will not be using again for coffee...don't want any raw bean toxins in your morning cuppa )
A packet of Aduki beans, also called Adzuki beans
A pretty jar to keep it in


Chuck beans in grinder and grind until fairly fine, like granulated sugar is a good starter. Be careful not to breath in the dust...pour them into a pretty jar. You can see how fine/coarse I grind mine below...and that is that!



We use ours by taking a teaspoon sized amount adding a few drops of water to make a paste and then we rub it on wet skin. DH uses it on his face, but that's because he is a big roughtie toughtie man... I wouldn't dare as it is too coarse for my delicate skin LOL ...I love this stuff, and it is soooo much cheaper than the bought stuff was...I am talking several hundred percent cheaper! Until I find a reason why I shouldn't be using it, it will be a part of our bathroom "spell" cabinet ( I am in the hope that one day I will mix the right things and hey presto the elixir of youth LOL ).

BTW, we keep it in the glass jar you see in the first pic but not next to the bath...we decant a small amount into a PLASTIC LIDDED container about once a fortnight. You really need a lid or the damp will get in, and please don't have glass near your hands when you are all wet, slippery and possibly naked, lets not even go there!!!

Doxie the exfolliated

Inspiring site


I came across this great resource to use in creative stuff.

Little token gift


I often struggle to decide what is and what isn't appropriate as a token gift for someone you don't know well. DS is coming to the end of a course of night classes and I wanted to give a little something to the teacher...last year we gave a flowering plant...this year he is going to give a pocket tissue cozy. My sister gave me one of these a few years ago and I was delighted ( mine has a cross stitch top with my name and flowers embroidered on it) so I am hoping the teacher will be too even though it will not be as fancy as the one I recieved.
I am not entirely happy with the one I have made as the interfacing has creased when I turned it right way out, even ironing didn't totally remedy this ( I think I may have used too heavy a weight/thickness for the job in hand )...if I can find a suitable lining I will run another up omitting the iron-on interfacing.

If I have time I plan to make a matching fabric covered notebook for her too...this will be a first so I either have to find a blooming good tutorial or do some crazy quick pattern making in the short space of time I have.
Edited to say...I made quite a few of these and kept one for myself. :o) They really are better at keeping your tissues decent in your handbag or pocket. :o) so tried and tested 10/10

Doxie :o)

Ruffled Tote: ta-da!


Okay so I just could not contain my excitement and had to jump right in with that fancy bag. Two warnings though...do not start it at rude o'clock because you will be too tired and make silly mistakes such as pressing the handle straps the wrong way, as in width wise instead of length wise ( duh, go figure where my brain was on that one? ) or worse twisting the fabric just before you sew two ends together so you have to unpick it (and by hand because you realise that you left your quick-unpick at a neighbour's last week ...and no I couldn't pop around and get it, remember it was rude o'clock)... All that said, if I hadn't started it before bed I would not have slept a wink; having a new crafting project in waiting for me is worse than a seven year old knowing he is going to Disney Land the next day.


Anyway let me tell you something, after this project you will know your hemming foot very well. You will also have a very tired hand ( from all that hemming )...I have never tired my hands out with sewing before, that was a first LOL.


The bit that takes longest to do is the ruffles...unless you have been blessed by the sewing fairy and are fortunate enough to have a ruffler foot for your machine. ( Mr Doxie if you are reading this, that is something to put on the birthday list :o) grin )


I was a complete twit and did not check my bobin thread before sewing on the first ruffle, there I was, merrily sewing away with no thread in the bottom...it would not have been a problem if I hadn't unpinned as I went along...Thus I had to sit down and pin about 3/4s of it again. Oh well that has taught me to pay attention and not let my impulsiveness ( please translate as enthusiasm ) get me carried away...Oh and something else somehow I managed to get the handles in the wrong place...If the bag had been a square I would have had to shift them by 90 degrees if that makes sense...never mind, I am now a whizz at unpicking !


I toyed with the idea of only having 3 ruffles seeing as I went for very girly print...I wondered if it might be overkill ...ROTFL... look at the fabric, can you imagine? ...The resulting bag is something which would not look out of place at the Moulin Rouge. I'd love to have the guts to embroider a little label for it that says "You think my bag's fancy, you should see my knickers"...but somehow I think one might get some unwanted attention LOL. Anyhow the result is...I am pleased, tickled and definitely going to make at least another 3 of these for 3 very different girly friends.


The things I would do differently next time are; do french seams on the sides ( I did do them on the bottom ), pop a lining in, put a pocket in it for a mobile, and make the boxed bottom wider than the X measurement. I did not put a drawstring on this one as I will probably keep this one for myself and will just use it to tote around bottled water etc on family days out.


Anyone else brave enough to give it a go. It really is not difficult to make...you just need a little patience to get the ruffles right and don't expect to knock it up in an hour. Thanks to Weekend Designer for putting up a pattern and firing up the inspiration. :o)


Doxie

Invasion of the ladybirds

Look out! Here they come

I am sure they are plotting something
... as long as it has nothing to do with my newly planted roses I don't mind...unless it is eating aphids and then they are welcome! I think the one below is the leader.

.
I haven't put flowers and leaves on them all yet as I want to get some different coloured felt so I can make them all a little bit individual. I did one thing differently to the instructions; I did chain stitch in black thread around the bottom of the ladybird instead of just a long stitch as I couldn't get the long stitch to behave and stay where I wanted it to. For details of the instructions look at the link in my previous post.
I know which homes these are going to and I think I will be making some more...they are a fairly portable project... you could easily sit in the car and do these ( not when you are driving of course! lol ) or have a go at some in your lunch hour at work.
VerybigJen came up trumps with these. :o) Thankyou.
Doxie

Visit Pink Penguin: that girl has talent!

This looks like a pretty little thing to give as a gift...I am thinking you could fill it with goodies you made in the same fabric as the basket, how cute would that be?



Also from the same site Pink Penquin is this smashing tutorial on making a pencil/pen case. I don't think I am going to have many problems deciding on what to make for birthday and holiday gifts this year. :o)

The Old Bag Project

Historical stuff really fascinates me...and fashion is such a great window into our ancestors lives...just think in years to come people will probably think it is cute/funny/a sign of our times, whatever, that the majority of mass produced ladies' bags have a tiny pocket for a mobile phone. I am sure when I have looked inside vintage bags the majority of their inner pockets are much wider, but often the same depth...it makes me wonder what they used those pockets for...were they for hairbrushes, combs, powder compacts? Going further back, from what I have seen many designs were simple drawstring designs...I guess the ladies carried them on their wrists, they must have looked very elegant when out walking...maybe this is the thing that brought about the idea of what we tend to think are very or overly, by today's standards, feminine poses if you think about the way you would hold your arm/wrist when carrying one. :o)...I'm wondering if those bags might possibly be a more secure way of carrying stuff when you think about pickpockets...anyway I am waffling now...

Because ( oops I learnt in INFANT school you should never start a sentence with because, sorry Mrs Godfrey, blogging is not good for grammar LOL ) you can vary the style of bags so much I thought I might give myself a little project using vintage bags as a starting point for practicing new techniques. This little selection of bags is quite inspiring. I have a few pieces of crochet I have been wanting to bring into a project and I think this may be the one. :o). Crikey I hope I get to live to 210 years old or I'll never fit in all I want to do!

Doxie feeling quite inspired

For Rip Van Winkle: Bird




Just in case you have been snoozing and haven't seen this yet...is there ANYONE out there in blog world that hasn't had a go at these yet?...well just in case look at link above...You may or may not see my feeble attempt above depending on whether or not I was brave enough to share a pic with you...I once read that a secret to a good blog is to show you are human...well there is proof in my pictures, far from best attempt at embroidery...all I can say is that if you are going to embroider it, do it with a trick marker because if you are like me you will change your idea as you go along as the aesthetics ( crikey spell check said I got that word right first time around, sometimes I impress myself LOL ) of it become more apparent as you stitch...and if you are a complete twit and did not use trick marker, felt tip pen marks do not compliment the embroidery no matter how much you try and persuade yourself otherwise! LOL

I'm going to try and do a mobile as soon as I find some yummy fabric that will do them justice.

Enjoy.

Doxie ...far from perfection!

Old vintage sewing pics on the web

If they were thrilled with this machine, I'd love to show these ladies the new Bernina 830 LOL BTW if you haven't seen it yet, the launch party presentation is well worth a look if you can find it on the web...if I remember I will put up a link sometime...it is somewhat cheesy, quite long, BUT really pulls you in, I certainly wanted one after watching it but seeing as it is £5,700 at the time of writing, I won't be getting one this side of Christmas! ( or the other side lol ).
Awww ain't they sweet!
Is this one of "The Borrowers" practicing recycling? Apparantly that is a rabbit...I thought it was a Red Setter Dog.


Ahem, apparantly not all little girls are sugar and spice!

There are some lovely "vintage" sewing pics out there on the web. I can't give you permission to use these as they are not mine.They were found at the following site...
©2000 Denise Van Patten - http://collectdolls.about.com

Ruffled Tote bag

Weekend Designer has the most gorgeous bag on her site ( I am assuming the author is a she , I read the profile and it doesn't say). Check it out here . Be sure to also check the archives on that site, there is some great stuff to inspire you.I'm sure we all know a girly that would have a fit of frilly vapours if they received something like that as a gift!! That's if you could ever bring yourself to give it away. :o)Ohhhh I wish I lived right next to a fabric shop AND it was open late, I want to make one NOW!Doxie ( off to rumage through my fabric stash )

Rae's top


Okay I finally got around to taking a pic of Rae's top that I made...keep in mind this started out as a muslin, so there is probably quite a few stray threads etc ...but I liked the fabric so much I have made it part of my wardrobe...Next time I WILL take more care. The way I put it on the hanger makes it look a bit lop-sided but luckily that is not how it is when you wear it.
Doxie

Copyleft: link to what various phrases mean

I have often been rather confused as to what I can and cannot do with copyleft photos/patterns etc...More confusing is when people use the words "free" and then add copyright...but I guess that is a discussion for another day.

I just found this good description of what the various phrases actually mean. I hope it is helpful to some of you creative types out there.

Doxie. :o)

cheapo thread...don't do it!

Recently I bought a mega box of threads from everyone's favourite catalogue shop. Most of the reviews online said they were okay, a couple said that the thread broke in the machine. Well guess what...the thread breaks in the machine. I can only assume that the people who didn't make such a comment were hand sewers. To begin with I thought it was just one colour, but so far I have used about 6 different colours and they have all broken in the machine. It's definitely not the machine tension either as when I switch back to a well known make of thread it doesn't break, in fact I don't think my normal thread has ever broken on me. Ho Hum, you win some, you loose some.

Another gripe is that this stuff sheds like a Labrador in the Sahara. I cleaned my machine about a fortnight ago and there is already fluff build up. So if you are toying with the idea of a lovely bumper box of threads which work out way less than half the normal price you'd pay and you are addicted to your machine, DON'T DO IT, you'll regret it !

Doxie the disappointed

fabric book cover links

I really want to make some of these.





Cover for a novel type of book here

At last a project for the men in your life

Go to THIS LINK and then get your yarn out to make all those special men in your life the ultimate holiday gift. :o)

I'd love to see the recipient's face when they opened their present!

Doxie ( grin )

Forgotten things in the loft




I was having a tidy in the loft the other day (translate as trying to make more room for my crafting stash and must have more fabric addiction) and I came across a couple of items I had forgotten about. The first is an old UFO ( groan!). It started life as a patchwork bag...I was never really interested in it as a bag though as the challenge was just to see if I could decipher how to make a bag in this design... once I had achieved my goal I lost interest and was on to the next thing...I am rather proud of my pink bullion roses but goodness knows what possesed me to put those hideous blue ones at the bottom for, they are just not working. I can clearly see that my patchworking skills have improved since I did this too, which is encouraging.

Mmm I think I may have uploaded this as too poor a quality to appreciate the bullions...note to self to take a close up of yellow panel at higher quality.


cheery isn't it?
The Sylvester cat was from a home-ed project...the brief was to find a picture of a famous person, copy it and then use it to make a Andy Warhol style painting. I can't remember exactly which site we got the picture from, but I do remember it was a kiddie's site with "tutorials" on how to draw well known cartoon characters. :o) Okay so ours was not a famous person but it was close enough eh?
I did come across another pic that I painted of a couple of my pets, I will keep that under wraps for now as I may make it into an embroidery design at a later date and I don't want to spoil the surprise LOL. Gee dunno when I'll have the time though.
Doxie, who achieved little in the loft that day because she was so distracted by all the interesting ( to her ) finds!

Anti-Jeremy Top for Hagatha

My dear friend Hagatha had an operation a few weeks ago and really needs to wear floaty tops for now and probably a few months more. I bought her a top a few weeks ago but MIL insisted that it was very me...which was weird as I never wear mauve. Anyway I gave in and tried the top on and I am glad and sad to say that it has become one of my favourites...well you guessed...when I saw Hagatha she shrieked

"I love that top, where d'ya get it? "

All us Doxies just fell about laughing at this and I of course, instantly felt guilty and had to fess up! Mind you, she bought me a beautiful zip up jacket at Christmas which never made it under my Christmas Tree, but looks great on her! ;o)

Anyway the anti-Jeremy bit is to hide Jeremy ...which is the name her daughter gave to her condition ( yes nous sommes slightly unhinged here but it was nicer than having to use the medical term ).

Since making one of Rae's tops the other day for myself I could see it would be a perfect disguise for Jeremy so it looks like that is going to be quite high on my list of to-dos. I am not sure how well it will work out taking measurements over the phone though...Our families are on a day out together over the weekend so maybe I should take my tape measure and just ignore the strange looks I get in public as I take her bust and hip measurements LOL.

Doxie.


Edited to say...Oh dear I never made it...but she did recover really quickly so there wasn't such a great need in the end. :o)

Oh the waiting...

I have 4 craft books on order...the wait is just unbearable. Oh well I guess I could spend the in between time doing the 10 zillion other things I have on my crafting to-do list.

I have to make a bedside mat and another doggy duvet, so I guess that is an okay diversion for now...Suppose I had better go and make up some binding which for me is like eating the sweetcorn first at dinner time...get the worst bit out of the way first. Yuk!

Doxie :o)

I can't believe I did this!

For a while now DH has been pointing out that my hair is so long now it tends to get where it shouldn't ( read as in my dinner ) and I really should think about tying it back at strategic moments. I think his biggest fear is that I may feature in a Roald Dahl type book for those of you who have read "The Twits" and can remember Mr Twit's beard...lets face it, if you have read the book you will NEVER forget the contents of Mr Twit's beard! Anyway, tonight I found out another time you should tie back hair...when one is so engrossed in crafting one can loose all sense of self and spatial awareness...this includes where your hair is when you are cutting fabric...yes I did it :o(

luckily it was not as bad as it could have been but nevertheless I did it...I am taking my new lop sided hair do as a big warning...from now on ALWAYS tie your hair back when crafting!

I wonder if anyone else has been so daft?

Doxie making a new fashion statement ( ahem ) :o/

Guide to smocking on Tipnut

If smocking is on your to-do list check out Tipnut's guide, it looks very clear. :o)

Doxie

Some girliness for you

This is before it was sewn up so excuse the threads and pin!

How could any girlie not want to stitch up this gorgeous corset pattern from Rectangel? I made a little sachet with mine and filled it with lavender. HOWEVER I was so filled with euphoria and excitement at the result, that when I cut around the edge to shape it and trim the excess felt away, I ...for some reason... failed to see the very obvious ribbon I had carefully stitched on to hang it by and just cut it clean off ! I did remedy it, but what a twit LOL. I think these would be such a hit for pressies.
Be sure to check out the pics in Rectangel's vintage embroidery pattern stream they are lovely.
She's gotta be a very talented person by the look of the pics on flickr.
Doxie


YAY I did one of Rae's tops!

Okay so I did it a bit late for the Spring Top Sewalong but I did do it!

Some jungle fabric had been taunting me from the stash pile for about a year. It was one of DS's old kiddie duvet covers. It may not be the everyday look for a woman of my age but what the heck I like it! ...and I couldn't waste it on something like a laundry bag that wouldn't get to travel and see the outside world! LOL

I think it will be perfect for a day out at the zoo. I mucked up a bit on the inside of the straps...only because I had a total lapse of concentration during 2 key points... which I shall blame on dear Sharp End taking my concentration away and it being about midnight ...but thankfully it doesn't show or really matter. I just know to take extra care next time and pack in before I get tired...and yes there will be lots of next times because it is such a super adaptable pattern. Thankyou to lovely Rae for providing the pattern, she writes the instructions so well...which you can find here on our much loved SewMamaSew.

and for anyone who has not stumbled across Rae's blog yet, her clever workwomanship can be found here

Doxie who is wearing her new jungle top now!

Cleaning and oiling the machine.

I did my main machine today. How often do you all clean and oil your sewing machines? The instruction manual says do it frequently...what is frequently?... once a month, every 10 times, every 50 times you use it? I'd be interested to know what others think.

Cheers,

Doxie

One lady's junk is another lady's treasure!

One of my friends has been having a major clearout ( she is having her entire house decorated in the space of about a week! ). She knocked my door the other day with a bag full of embroidery and sewing patterns, she was almost apologetic... she said she didn't want to clutter up my house but couldn't bring herself to throw them away without offering them to me first! To say I was thrilled is an understatement...it was like having a birthday! The only problem is I want to do almost every project there is in that bag...My to-do list has just got longer! Thank you N my lovely friend, you have made me very happy! :o)

Doxie

The feminine arts

I am a great fan of the feminine arts. My passions are embroidery and sewing. I also dabble in knitting and crochet.





I have been pondering lately why I like the vintage style so much. I am not a dedicated follower of fashion so it is not just that it has come to the fore lately. I think the reason is that first time around it was a real big part of being a homemaker. Here are my ponderings on the appeal of it for me, nostalgia wise...





  • Things were not mass produced so if you wanted it, you made it
  • Because so much was handmade it was treasured and looked after. It makes one think of days when values were so different to today.
  • Most girls were taught the feminine arts routinely...so I think of it as being a truly feminine way of expressing yourself
  • Money was scarce so embroiderers/needleworkers made the most of what they had. It was green /resourceful and to me that says a fun challenge.
  • There was no room for extravagence during or after the war so if you wanted bling you had to add it yourself.
  • It was a way of adding cheer to the home. especially with all the little embroidered slogans they used so much
  • It was a very benign way to spend your free time. I have never heard of hoop rage! I am convinced hand sewing slows the heart rate.
  • It teaches patience. You can't rush an embroidery!
  • Being a traditionalist, it was when women were women, not trying to be men...they were homemakers.
  • Alot of the themes were gentle, I personally would rather be surrounded by the calming influence of roses, birds and the such, than some of the more modern looks.


No doubt I will add to this

Doxie feeling girlie and nostalgic



No photos lately

I have just realised how most of my blog seems to be concentrating on my new love...driving...therefore I haven't been posting photos or many links lately...must remedy that, not sure what to put up though. Hopefully in 2010 there will be at least one new pic...me standing in front of the learner car ripping up my L plates...or at least pretending to!

Doxie short on photographic inspiration and obsessing about other things!

Stuck for Memes?

Hooked on Memes? Need some inspiration...I found this site today

The Daily Meme

Doxie X

Friday, 23 October 2009

Woohoo Christmas Club begins.

Next week sees the start of my Coffee and Craft Club Meetings. The idea is a group of us meet once a week in the Doxie house to work on a common project. In theory we will get more done than we would as individuals as we can share the work load... especially when it comes to more tiresome things such as making bias binding ( yawn )... AND we have to keep up with the programme because of the others. The plan is to thrash out ideas for 5 projects to complete this half term ( Okay, okay so the educator in me still thinks of time in terms of... well... terms! I don't think I'll ever shake that lol ) and at the end of it we all go home with one of each. :o) Simple!

At present I don't know if it will continue after Christmas as I have other committments but I did think it would be good incentive to keep the house together on the run up to the festive season AND I can use up alot of "schtuff" by recycling into the multiple projects...see the method in my madness?

It should be a laugh and will guarantee that we get together on a regular basis ( guilt free as we will be working and not just nattering lol ) something we have let slip alot lately. :o)

I'd really like to start with a Christmas pennant as that will allow plenty of time to complete embroidery or applique in our own spare time ( see ever the optimist...I am assuming we will have spare time!!! )

Doxie the optimist :o)

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Testing

Testing testing one two three...

Well done to DB

Well done DB for passing your driving test, clever lad!!! You can now drive Mum to my house in the evenings when she fancies a wine or two!!!! Come on, why do you think parents pay for all those lessons?

Seriously though, good on ya!

Doxie XXX

I've started

...my Christmas shopping. Hagatha kindly picked me up yesterday and we joined JB and LB ( not related ) for lunch. After a good ol' natter and general catch up we left them and had a nice wander around the shops. I stumbled across a great pressie for DH so I snapped that up as there weren't many left.Hagatha was drooling over something earlier in the day so when we said our " Goodbyes" I whizzed back to the shop and luckily the "one off" thingy was still there! I just have to hope that she doesn't check in here for a bit, but if she does there were a few things she drooled over so she won't know exactly what I got and will hopefully have forgotten by Christmas.

Somehow my handmade Christmas has gone out of the door LOL!

Doxie :o)

Sunday, 11 October 2009

A first for me...

This afternoon I took the family on their first "long drive" with me behind the wheel. It wasn't the nicest weather for such an outing but it was still a fun trip out. :o)

I felt such a thrill that I couldn't help myself doing a little victory song and dance in the car park at the other end. One young couple gave me a funny look LOL, but I think they realised what was going on after a while because of the "L plates". Still, I don't really worry about that kind of thing these days...at least it gave them a laugh ;o)

I managed to do a few little things that my instructor had been pushing me to do when I have been out with him... so I am hoping that he will see the difference in my confidence during my next lesson. I put my foot down on the NSL roads and resisted the temptation to slow right down at every corner LOL. One thing I did unplanned was a very sudden block change when I realised that the turning I needed was right there and not 50 yards ahead! OK I know that it is not good to do a panic mano but at least I didn't stall after the block change which I did do once in a very inappropriate place!

We stopped enroute at a nice little nursery where they have a pet's corner...I was so tempted by the little baby ratties. I am thinking life is going to be very dicey for a new reason when I have passed my test...if I go out unaccompanied there will be nobody standing there next to me saying " No, we don't really NEED another colony of pet rats!" or whatever cutsies cross my path ;o). Note to self...NEVER EVER drive along to the pet shelter.

The other day when a friend came around she offered to be my accompanying driver if I wanted to go out with her and the lads and practice when Mr Doxie is not around or is busy. What a sweet friend, I think I will take her up on that. Who'd have thought that learning to drive could be such a positive experience and one which didn't involve just the family but friends as well. I am blessed. :o)

Doxie feeling quietly satisfied. :o)

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

New Mano...Bay parking

I had a phone call an hour and a quarter before my last driving lesson...my spirits fell when I heard my instructor's voice, not because he isn't lovely but because I was sure he was phoning to cancel...Thankfully this was not the case...but he asked if I had remembered that he had brought that day's lesson forward by an hour, YIKES!!! No I had not remembered...that meant I had 15 mins to get myself presentable. From planning on spending the next hour doing hypnosis followed by gentle reading so I could start my lesson in a chilled and calm manner, I had to change to full on panic nutter mode! Impressively I was ready in time...He teased me about only just getting up which was SO not the case... I had already done my housework and an hour's step aerobic workout...I was just not ready for my lesson when he telephoned. I had the pleasure of pointing out that HE was the one sat there with toothpaste on his face!!!!!

Mmmm, I'm not sure what to think of this reversing into a bay lark...I totally get why it is wrong to go in nose first, but boy oh boy is this going to take some practice. Doing it with spaces in the bays next to me was okay but I so didn't like doing it with a car next to me. When asked "What must you change when there are cars parked on both sides of your chosen bay?" I was told that the answer

"My pants!"

was not the answer he was looking for... oh well it might not have been correct but at least I made him laugh!

For anyone who hasn't learned this mano yet, the answer is "nothing".

I really wanted to abandon it when he made me reverse in with a car on my left but he kept bringing up the word "trust", so even though I was freaking out at how close we were to the other vehicle I went ahead and lo and behold, it all worked like magic...I just wish you could buy pocket sized Mr Patiences so you could keep them in the glove box for future times of emergency and tight squeezes!

I tried private practice with the Doxie-mobile the same night but somehow it didn't go quite so well...I kept ending up about a third of a bay to one side....still at least I was straight which is half the battle I guess. I don't know if I am turning too late or too early, ho hum I guess that is what practice is for...it probably didn't help that it was at night in a pitch black car park in the countryside and I couldn't see the bay markings that well anyway, so maybe I am being a bit hard on myself.

I had someone walk backwards into the road in front of me in this latest lesson...now that is an odd one to anticipate LOL. It was a workman...I can only assume he had ear plugs in or something...blooming daft thing to do without looking! Anyway you will be pleased to hear that he is still upright and the only thing that happened was... I stopped, Mr Patience blew the horn and said what a twit he was, or words to that effect!

Until next time,
Doxie :o)

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Nice lazy weekend

It has been a most pleasant weekend...spent mainly entertaining friends, shopping and walking. If you dear reader are one of the dear friends of whose company we had the pleasure...thank you for the good conversation and laughs and I hope you have got over the wolf mask incident LOL

Also this weekend was the first time I washed the Doxie-mobile. :o)

I have had another driving lesson since my last post...nothing extreme to report...just that I am loving it as ever. We concentrated on manoeurves and I think I am beginning to get this parallel parking lark. :o) I have also been out on the Doxie-mobile driving around the local area...I negotiated some new roads in the dark and sussed out dipping my lights etc. I had a bit of a treat one night as a family of deer stood in the road ahead of me. I just stopped and let them go in their own time...they didn't seem scared which in itself is scarey...I hope they are not too "used" to traffic.

Life is good and I feel quietly content.

Hope you are fine wherever you are.

Doxie :o)

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Dawn of a new Era...

Well it is for me!



I have been pondering on my plans for the next year and I don't think I have ever been this excited, not even as a teenager lol. I'm so glad I did the Mummy bit when I was still young which means that now before I hit any significant birthdays I can map out my future path with pretty much no outer pressures other than what Mr Doxie and I want out of life.



After taking on more responsibility than most parents do for our child's education we have gone from really full on during every waking hour (if we weren't "doing" we were making plans for the "doing"... evenings were for assessing what had been done, bed time reading was lesson planning...the mind was constantly occupied with the one theme) to now being completely free with how we spend our days with no outer pressure. What was it Tony Blair said..." Education, education, education ?" Until you have home educated you don't know Jack about education!



Even though home ed is something I would do all over again with no question, my only regret being that he ever went to school and I wish we'd done it from day one...It is nice now to hand over the reigns to somebody else and be me again.

For fun I was writing a list of what makes me smile at this new stage and what makes me feel so good.



1) Now I can dress how I please...no dressing down anymore or dressing conservatively because I am around little children, no extra warm clothes because I have an hour's walk in the rain...I can wear heels again! ( EDITED to say, not for long as since I have started learning to drive I am back in flats! )



2) I don't feel obliged to record how we spent the day.



3) I can do absolutely nothing all day if I wish...okay I won't get any work done, but as I am my own boss it is MY choice. :o)



4)I can learn things for ME



5) I can stay up late for fun



6) I have time to read for pleasure.



7) I will not be too knackered in the evenings to see friends

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Doxiemobile I love you!

I LOVE, love, love my Doxiemobile! I've been out in it locally with the L plates and it is all I hoped it would be and more. Sharp End fits in the boot and is quite happy. You'd think he'd been in it a thousand times already. Even though he doesn't have the space he is used to in Mr Doxie's car he doesn't seem to mind at all. His dog guard arrived today so he can go out with us which ever car we use...and there will be room for new puppy too!

She is a delight to sit in,very comfy and still smells new, although I am sure Sharp End will soon take care of that!...She came with very low mileage which I know is genuine as I know her history. :o) With room for friends,dogs,shopping and smart enough for work what more could I want? The future is bright! I am going to have so much fun whizzing about here and there.


Doxie...nearly mobile :o)

Goodbye drug of choice

Before my driving lesson I usually pump myself full of caffeine to ensure alertness ... If I am honest, the reason is that one of my oldest and dearest friends was killed in a minibus accident ( not in this country ) and it was alleged the driver fell asleep so thus he was a totally innocent victim of somebody else's tiredness...well this week with Mr Doxie working from home my routine was a bit different and I realised about 10 mins before Mr Patience was due to pick me up that I had not had my usual double if not triple cappuccino...there was no time to throw it down my neck at the last minute so I just had to go out without a boost of my drug of choice.

What a difference...I pulled away quicker at junctions, I did my manoeuvres with no internal agitation or self criticism and was generally waaay calmer throughout the lesson. The only slightly wobbly bit was practising the "hanging off the top of the cliff" bit aka proper clutch control on a hill. Even that went a hundred times better than last week. Today I froze ( and my eyes leaked )at the thought of the first attempt but with a bit of gentle talking around I did as I was told, when I was told, and it went fine from then on...it was probably helped by the fact that Mr Patience was determined not to let me off the hook but he did this by reading the mood and with exactly the right attitude...even if things do go a bit wonky he always makes sure I learn from the situation so everything good or bad is fruitful in some way.

We ended the lesson with driving down the road by the river (where I envisaged stopping at the pub and having a sit in the sunshine, oooh tempting!)...and then back via the local roundabout of doom ( it is ginormous ), but in reality it wasn't really as bad as people make it out to be...I can't believe I just wrote that LOL...maybe I just approached it from the easiest side today!

All in all it was one of the least eventful and calm lessons I've had and was told a definite " No more caffeine for you in future Missy!" If next week is just the same I will have to admit that coffee is not the friend I thought it was. Hey ho, you live and learn.

Doxie :o)

Friday, 4 September 2009

Not that sure what all the fuss is about...

Well I have now finished the Agatha Christie too. I didn't enjoy it as much as the Wodehouse. I sussed out "whodunnit" pretty early on so I just kept reading in the hope I was wrong and was going to be shocked and surprised...which I wasn't. Never mind, maybe it was a one off. I will try another one sometime but if the character building is as drawn out and tedious as in Sparkling Cyanide I won't be filling my bookshelf with any more ACs.

On my bedside table I now have "Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick. It is hard not trying to imagine the film as you are reading it, but I expect I will get over that as I get deeper into it.

It is years since I have read novels for pleasure. My bookshelves have been full of nothing but educational stuff really ever since I became a Mother and definitely a home educator. It is thoroughly pleasant going to bed reading for no reason at all, rather than reading as a precursor to lesson planning.

Doxie who will have gone through every book in the local library in a year if she carries on at this rate! ;o)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

I survived my cliff top adventure!

I hung on to the branch with all my might.Hanging over the top of a very steep cliff was petrifying...I mean that as it sounds...I was petrified...it was as if I had been turned to stone. I couldn't move a muscle. Hearing but blocking out the instructions to let go and heave myself over the top.

"Trust me." he kept saying. I knew he could be trusted but fear had such a grip over me I just ceased to function. "Breathe." he said...This command actually got through to my frozen brain. I started to try and calm myself with deep breathing...it began to work...and I started to see reason and come back to reality.

"Have you seen the angle you're at?" he asked with amusement. All I knew is that my entire body had become one tense muscle, leaning forward as far as it would go for fear of tipping the balance. " Look at how tight your grip is!" he observed.

"Of course it's tight!" I told him "I'm teetering on the top of a cliff, that is my branch I'm holding!"

" You're going to put a dent in my steering wheel if you hold it any tighter."

Okay now I slightly relaxed...only slightly though.

In the end he talked me out of my frozen posture and I managed to heave the both of us over that cliff as you will no doubt realise seeing as this is in the past tense, and if I had still been there in that rigid state I would have never been able to let go to do a spot of touch typing to update my blog!

Well that is how my driving lesson ended yesterday. If I wrote it like a drama, that's because it felt like a drama! The cliff was a junction at the top of a very steep and long hill ( can you have a long hill I wonder? ). For some reason the small amount of sanity I posess went completely out of the window. I say for some reason, well perhaps the reason was there was a rather nice car parked behind me and even though my dodgy clutch control probably only caused me to roll back inches I had vivid visions of rolling back and smashing into said parked car.

In spite of this ridiculous hiccup at the last post I think I had improved over all. We went out to the "big city", and I coped with several lanes of traffic on busy roundabouts...I also drove through what looked like a decidedly dodgy area and had a run down on what had been going on there the week before, which had the desired effect of me keeping my speed up so we could make good our escape before any of it happened to us ( well that was what was going through my mind...I don't DO cities! ). On the way back I asked if I could have a medal, he declined my request but upped my score on roundabouts. I now have 3/5 on roundabouts.

Oh I forgot to say that I cut my eyeball ... so I embarked on my lesson in a less than calm state, taking my bag with me this time just in case it worsened and I had to drive to the doc's surgery half way through my lesson ( who knows? Eyes are weird things ). Mr patience personified has told me before that your state of mind will affect your driving so I choose to believe that little mishap earlier that morning may indeed have had a knock on effect when I got behind the wheel...who knows?

What I do know is that Mr Patience never lets me off the hook for anything. He informed me that next lesson will have lots of hills, though he did say maybe slightly gentler ones to get my confidence up...I think the hills are okay, it's just gravity that scares me!

Doxie, onward and upwards! :o)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Small rant

The education law as it stands at the time of writing clearly states that a child's education is the responsibility of the parents.

Most of us are ( in my mind ) duped into think school is compulsory which it is not, education is compulsory, which you will see if you read the Education Act.

Therefore I find it really odd that lots of home-edders are causing such a stink lately about not being given free this and that, including exam centres and access to labs and such. The word people are forgetting here is choice. You make a choice. Okay it is the biggest pain in the butt if you choose to send your child to school and the school does not deliver or provide what you see as a safe and appropriate environment for your child BUT...if ultimately if you take your child out of school, or home educate them in the first place, you are doing no differently than those who choose to follow the independent school route...they have to pay and pay they do...mostly it seems they get what they pay for, but my gripe is why do home educators suddenly think they have all these rights to free funding and equal rights to accessing those facilities that school children have access to...they are not in the school system, the school system provides them yes, but you have chosen not to be in it. I am not talking about things out of the system such as access to commercial things like Leisure Centres and private educational facilities such as Science theatres...then I feel it is a bit unfair if a certain section of society is being denied something that others do just because they are coming at it from a slightly different angle but their aim and use of the facility is the same ...but in that case the gripe should be with the provider and has nothing to do with the school system.

Come on you whingers in the home-ed community...why should you get everything for free...if you get it for free then let everyone get it for free including the independent schools' lot as well. That is in my opinion a crazy notion...deciding to home-ed is not a decision any parent should take lightly and with it goes the responsibility of YOU providing that education.

Stop whinging it is hard to find exam centres...did you ever think it would be EASY? The system is geared up for school children...you are not in the system.

Stop whinging that correspondence courses cost so much...Hello, are we even on the same planet?...why should someone write courses free just for you?

Stop whinging that it takes up all your time...erm yes...home-ed is a lifestyle it is a 24/7 thing.

Stop whinging that your kids are driving you up the wall...erm if they were in school they would be driving the teacher up the wall...if you don't like spending time with your kids why did you have them and why did you even contemplate home education...or maybe it is a discipline thing...I am not even going to go there!

Education is not a game...mostly education doesn't just happen...some does through the spirit of adventure but the things such as the 3Rs are not going to drop out of the proverbial sky into your child's lap. You have to put effort in.

I could say we have survived the home-ed years but that would make it sound like it was a chore, nothing done with love is a chore...yes it was hard at times...there were times when I was throwing up with stress for days on end...did I whinge? No! Did I crumble when those outside sought to interfere? Internally yes... but I kept a hard exterior and fought for what I knew was right...and might I add won! I went into this lark a mouse and came out a Lion. I did not just educate my child, this family was strong in the beginning but is even stronger now. We have all learned a lot, academically obviously but also about what is really important in life, who we are and what we need.

I make it sound as if the home-ed years are over but as DS pointed out to me when I mistakenly said we had come to the end of a journey that no we have not come to the end. After all these years this is now a way of life...and a way that DS said he will always live. He always wants to be learning new things, meeting new people and improving himself. He is a confident intelligent young man whom I am proud to call my son and these last few years are ones that I will treasure forever. Fellow Home-edders when you are whinging and moaning just remember that so many parents rarely get to know their kids like we do...the kids don't truly know their parents. I remember the old school days when ds was so exhausted he would come home flop on the sofa and veg, it was hard to get any idea of what he done that day out of him...there are situations like that all over the country every day sad as it is that is a lot of folks way of life...be thankful that it is YOU that your kids spend the majority of their waking hours with each day, instead of some teacher than you may have met once or twice if you are lucky...you get the quality time, you have the time and opportunity to become a real family whilst others are moaning that they never get any decent time with their kids.

Phew, that feels better...and yes after 8/9 years of doing this lark I think I am entitled to an opinion on this!

Doxie, getting down from her soap box.

Monday, 31 August 2009

I am a new fan...

of PG Wodehouse...well that is not exactly true, I have always enjoyed the televised series of "Jeeves and Wooster" and I've appreciated the few plays I have seen but I had never read one of his books until now. Over the last week I have been going to bed with "Leave it to Psmith" which is part of the Blandings series and can't wait to get my hands on another one. It is not often I read fiction these days and I certainly don't usually finish a book in less than a week of bedtimes so I guess I am hooked. the man is a genius...there was not one page that failed to hold my interest...he was obviously a great people/relationship watcher and translates his observations to the page with perfection. His use of language is a delight and oddly does not seem old fashioned...you just feel you are taking a glimpse into another world.

The same day I bought Wodehouse I got an Agatha Christie too, I have only read one AC and that was years ago so I am going to discipline myself to read that before I rush into my next visit to Blandings castle.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

My first real driving manoeuvre

Today My instructor had me doing 3 point turns, although apparently that isn't the correct name for that manoeuvre???? The roads were quieter being a bank holiday weekend and everything went really well ( in my eyes ). The garden walls locally are still intact and so are my nerves. My instructor did a lot of humming of Beatles tunes today...I am assuming that means he is fairly relaxed with my driving at the mo... or is trying to make me think he is, so I relax lol, he's very good at the psychology of teaching...or maybe he just had the Beatles in his head! I over complicate things usually.

We also did a little mystery tour of some new roads which ended up in a drive by of where a "famous" person used to live...okay big deal you think...well it was to me seeing as our Dobermanns were related, and I got to see where that doggy lived...never mind the famous person... I wanted to imagine that dog staring through the gates. :o)

My instructor makes the lessons very enjoyable which I am so thankful for...after waiting so long to learn I really wanted this to be a fun experience and I am not disappointed one bit... he usually has me giggling, even if it is just to myself.

I LOVE driving. It gives me a real high. Thankfully I don't have to wait long until my next lesson.

Doxie

Thursday, 27 August 2009

An exciting day

He did it! Woohoo! DS got his GCSE English, passed this year's French and his latest IT exam...my phone has been going all morning with home-ed friends's passing on their news...it is turning out to be a very exciting day...so far nobody has failed and they are all top grades in their levels. It is on days like this that I am reassured that we did what was best for our son, I am so glad I took him out of school... So to all the people that doubted us out there, a big fat raspberry to you!!!

Doxie the delighted

Odd things make me giggle but...

I never thought learning to reverse would! I just can't explain it, maybe it was just sheer delight that I could actually do something I thought would be difficult... Goodness knows...but every time I went to do the manoeuvre I just dissolved into fits of giggles and had to keep stopping to compose myself. My instructor has agreed to up my lessons to twice a week so hopefully that means he doesn't think I am certifiable...although he did mention needing to get inside my brain!

So far so good anyway and I can't wait until my next lesson.

Doxie :o)

Friday, 21 August 2009

modifying skirts

I thought I was done with the sewing lark for a while but when I was going through my wardrobe to get rid of even more clothes I found 3 skirts which I won't be wearing as they are, but I just love the colours and prints...So.. hey ho, it seems I am doomed to sew.

One is a skirt I made a year or so ago that started life as a pair of jeans but it was really an experiment and is a little too Boho for my liking so I will probably shorten it and make it into a fiesta style skirt.

The other two are skirts I bought for my holiday but wouldn't wear here so they have served their purpose and need attacking and made into something more suitable for our up and coming Autumn. They are identical in colour but different weight fabrics so I am not sure how exactly I will morph them into one but I enjoy a challenge.

Will take photos of the before and after. :o)

Doxie

I was so brave!

The man with the patience of a saint aka my driving instructor pushed me a little harder this week and we went for a jolly little ride by the sea and beyond. The only downside was that I was concentrating so hard on not killing us or anyone else that I couldn't look and take in the delightful scene on the water he was relaying to me as we drove along. It was sooo hot and I went prepared with 2 bottles of frozen spring water.

He informed me that I didn't do too badly and I got the feeling I coped better than he thought I would. I made a conscious effort to drive at the speed limit seeing as I was out in the big wide world. I do have a habit of slowing down at EVERY perceived danger but I guess I will grow out of that as I feel more in control.

I had to negotiate lots of new roundabouts, roadworks and crossings but it didn't really worry me too much. I just need to remember not to rush and choose a gap suitable for ME and not try to do things at the same speed as all those well seasoned drivers.

I am getting the doxie-mobile very soon so I have asked for an extra lesson each week when he gets another block free.

I have far to go yet but I can't believe that I have come this far in this short time, I thought it would be an age until I was driving the kind of places he took me...or should I say I took us the other day.

Doxie, loving all my life is throwing at me! :o)