Friday, 25 February 2011

Some R & R (Relief and Rant) !

First off the source of my relief.

My darling granddaughter Flic was admitted to hospital earlier this week suffering from pneumonia. She is now back home and responding to antibiotics, so you can see where the (enormous) sense of relief comes from.
And now for the rant.

Hospital Parking Charges

Flic has not been well for the past week, but as she seemed to be getting worse, rather than better my daughter took her to the doctors on Wednesday morning and was told that the doctor suspected pneumonia and to take her directly to the hospital at Durham.

This is what my daughter obviously did and on arrival collected a ticket from the barrier and was admitted to the car park. The car park is the type where you collect a ticket on entry and then pay at a machine prior to exit which validates the ticket to allow you to get out through the exit barrier. 

Now it took time for all the appropriate tests, xrays etc. to take place and results to be checked and all the time my daughter was not only frantic with worry for her daughter, but increasingly stressed by wondering if she would have enough money on her to pay for release from the car park. She let this slip on one of the many calls I made to her to get up to date information about my Granddaughter's condition - and I was able to reassure her that if necessary I would make the 39 mile round trip to give her the money. As it was the hospital decided to keep Flic in overnight as her oxygen levels were low, so the 39 mile round trip had to be made to take supplies for them both into the hospital. As by this time however it was quite late, I was able to park in the 20 minute drop off area - drop off the things and go.

Next morning my daughter rang to say she may have to stay in for another night, so eldest daughter and myself travelled back to the hospital and this time parked up so that we could go in and look after Flic while her mam had a chance to freshen up and get something to eat. My middle daughter was once again worried about the parking charges as by now we calculated they would have run up to £8. Although I was able to reassure her that I would pay them she quite rightly pointed out what would have happened if she hadn't had family to support her. We were very relieved however when the doctor told us that Flic was responding to the antibiotics and could go home without an additional night's stay and it was with a feeling of simple relief that I gave my daughter the required £8 parking fee.

My daughter is a single parent who currently has to survive on benefits though she is currently undertaking an access course so that she can go to University and hopefully build a better life for herself and her daughter. She lives in a rural area that at the best of times is not well served by public transport, so although it's a struggle for her to maintain a car on the road, if she wants to better herself and get to college each day she needs to do just that.  Obviously though money is tight and she simply could not afford car parking charges of £4 a day on top of the additional expense in getting to the hospital in the first place and having to buy food from the branded Costa Coffee outlet within the hospital. 

My daughter is lucky she has the back up of family that are both able and willing to help her, but I worry for those who do not have this luxury. Goodness knows what additional stress this imposes on people who are already ill and stressed. . I didn't object to paying for my car parking when I went in to help (£3 for 2 hours) and I don't object to paying as an occasional visitor, but I don't think it is fair that those who are in hospital or attending for medical appointments should have to pay these charges, this seems to me a tax on the ill and the vulnerable.

Apparently in 2009 the Labour Health Secretary Andy Burnham promised to scrap the fees, for all in-patients and for outpatients who have to make regular appointments, but the coalition says there are better uses of public money than scrapping car parking charges.

Where is this "fair" society that our government keeps telling us about?

Sorry about the rant, and a big thank you to the doctors and nurses who treated our little Flic and got her back on the road to recovery.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Swap Goodies

Just thought I'd pop over and let you see the lovely goodies I received from the lovely Emma over at
Em's Shabby Shack as part of the Spread the Bloggy Love Swap.

I opened the brown paper parcel brought by Mr Postman to see a parcel wrapped in the most gorgeous wrapping paper.

And the contents did not disappoint...

The most gorgeous Home Sweet Home wooden wall plaque - this has found it's way into my new craft room and looks right at home there.

A fabulous red felted purse complete with a felted ball on the zipper tag - I have admired felted purses for some time now and am thrilled to have my very own.

A beautiful floral fabric heart - this now adorns a photograph of my beloved granddaughter, and is another addition to my new craft room.

The fold up red polka dot bag has already seen a number of outings and has a permanent place in my handbag ready to carry home all my lovely bargains.

The lovely garden picture on the diary really cheered me up and is now on my desk to remind me that summer won't be too far away, it is going to record all my upcoming blog swaps and keep me on track with them, including all the birthdays in the birthday swap.

Last but certainly not least was the luscious choccie heart lolly - this didn't survive the photo session by more than five minutes as it was eaten with a cup of tea while I drooled over admired all my lovely gifts.

A big thank you Emma. xxx

I thought you might also like to see what I sent to Emma.

I just love blog swaps - don't you?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Little Lavender Birds (Including Tutorial!)

Remember the patchwork throw project in my last post?

I've been using up some of the spare patches to make these:

Little lavender scented birds.

They aren't going to live in my twiggy heart, they just landed there to have their photograph taken!

Eldest daughter has already snaffled my favourite for her new house - the little brown one with the button on. Though being the true goth that she is she has assured me it will be out of sight in her wardrobe to keep little moths at bay!

I thought you might like to know how I made them - so here goes:

  • Take a scrap of fabric. I think mine was approx 9" x   6"

  • Fold in half and iron.


  • Use a fine pencil to draw the outline of a bird lightly on the fabric.

  • Take a piece of wadding and cut a rectangle as tall and wide as your drawing.

  •  Make a pocket in the top of the piece of wadding and add a teaspoon of lavender.

  • Cut your fabric in two along the fold line then layer the wadding between the two pieces of fabric. 

  •  Now I sort of discovered later that this next stage is optional. When making another of these little birds I accidentally cut the ribbon off when trimming the bird, so had to re-attach it at the end. To hide the point of attachment I added a little button. Now to be honest that bird, I think turned out to be the best of the bunch. So if you want to add a little button on top of the ribbon and aren't too bothered about the ribbon being incorporated into the seam then feel free to skip this next bit. Otherwise - take a piece of ribbon and fold it in half. Position the ribbon under the top piece of fabric near the top of your bird's back and using a long quilting pin secure it in place.

  • Take the whole thing, and being careful to ensure that the lavender is in the centre of the bird's body, zig-zag stitch through all the layers following your pencil outline.

  • Now cut out the bird shape trimming as close as possible to your stitching. (Take care NOT to cut through the ribbon, but if you do see above!)

  •  To make the legs and feet you will need to thread a darning needle with a suitably coloured yarn (note I couldn't find a proper darning needle so had to make do!), and cut two 1" squares from a suitably coloured piece of felt.

  • Cut the squares of felt into equal heart shapes.

  • Using the needle pass the wool through first one heart shape, leaving a bit of a "tail", then from one side of your bird to the other and finally through the second heart shape. Remove the needle and decide how long you want the legs, under each heart shaped foot knot the wool at the desired length, then trim away the excess.

Et voila - the finished article:

If you skipped the stage of attaching the ribbon into the seam - which frankly I intend to do with any I make in the future, attach the ribbon now covering the point of attachment with a suitable button.

    Sunday, 13 February 2011

    Another "Want to Do" Project Done!

    I'd like to thank all you lovely people who left me such supportive and astute comments on my last post. They have helped me to get things into perspective and begin to see the positives in being an empty nester.

    I've also completed another of those projects on my "want to do" list.

    This is another of those things I have been meaning to do for literally years.

    I bought a homemade, patchwork single duvet cover off eBay at least five years ago.
    When I tried it on a duvet however it was too short and so I pushed it to the back of the cupboard meaning to "do" something with it to make it usable.

    There it stayed until last year, just after I started blogging, when the motivation to actually do some projects was high. I got it out and unpicked the top from the bottom, and felt so virtuous that I'd begun... I put it back in the cupboard. (Along with good intentions of course!.)

    Spurred along by completion of my Booty Bag I finally retrieved the patchwork top of the quilt cover from the back of said cupboard along with an unused fleece throw. I cut down the patchwork top to fit the fleece and used the fleece to back it et voila!!! a new patchwork throw.

    Here it is over the chair that is currently it's home.
     Looking at it now after all these years, I can see that it's not exactly the best piece of patchwork, the patches could have been more uniform in size and shape and the colours could have been arranged more aesthetically. I do hate waste though so I am pleased that it has turned out to be quite a nice usable throw.
    (Not sure why blogger has put this text in a white box, but can't seem to be able to remove it!)
    Here it is in it's current home on my bentwood rocker.
    It has found a temporary home on my bentwood rocking chair along with a lovely little cushion that I purchased the other day from Durham Indoor Market - a bargain methinks at only £4.

    Best thing of all I have also now got a large piece of vintage fabric that was the original back of the cover as well as several vintage patches of fabric that I cut off when resizing it.

    Saturday, 12 February 2011

    Letting Go

    It's official - 
    I'm now an empty nester!

    My eldest daughter has left home.

    My eldest daughter.

    My son was obviously the first  - he is 35, and left many years ago (Though when I moved from a major city to the countryside, he followed me and now lives in the same village)

    My Son

    My middle daughter left about four years ago, and my youngest daughter almost two years ago.

    My middle daughter, her daughter (my darling granddaughter) and my youngest daughter.

    My eldest daughter sort of semi moved out for a while when she was at Uni, but was always back for the holidays and at that time I still had my younger two, but now she too has moved into a home of her own.

    Now I have always said that I would know when my job as a mother had been successful - it would be when my children grew up and achieved independence.

    Well it's here - it's happened, I am now a "successful" mother, so why am I feeling so sad?

    I've tried jokingly to say I'm not losing a daughter but I'm gaining a craft room!
     It doesn't seem to be working though - on a sensible level I feel so proud that I have achieved what I set out to achieve with the birth of each of my babies:

    Independence for them -  and for me.

    I should be rejoicing. My husband is not the biological father of any of my children (though I hasten to say in the words of my children - he is more a dad than their real dad) but I have been with him since my youngest was only 18 months old. It will be the first time we will actually be able to live together as just the two of us - and it is something I look forward to -


    why am I finding it so hard?

    Did any of you other lovely ladies out there also feel this sense of loss when the last of their young fled the nest?

    All tips will be gratefully received.

    Friday, 11 February 2011

    You don't get more frugal than free!

    My youngest daughter's boyfriend kindly donated a wild rabbit to us.
    (I admit I squeamishly refused acceptance until he had beheaded and undressed it!)

    Yesterday it was popped in the slow cooker with some apple juice, water, carrot, onion, garlic, a bay leaf and a bunch of thyme and left to cook slowly and gently all day.

    It was left to go cold, then the stock was strained and saved and all the meat stripped from the bones and refrigerated.

    Today  the cooked rabbit meat was cut into chunks and placed in a dish with three quartered hard boiled eggs. I made a mustard sauce using 50% stock and 50% milk which was poured over the meat and eggs and then this was topped with a rough puff pastry and baked.

    Served with roasties, carrots and broccoli - Yum!

    Thursday, 10 February 2011

    Use it up!

    It's a while since I did a menu planning post, and I have to admit I have become a little less diligent about actually making a plan every week and sticking to it. 


    I haven't fallen by the wayside in my attempts to remain frugal, oh no, I've been using up what we already have rather than heading off to the supermarket and invariably purchasing much more than we actually need.

    On Monday I used up the mountain of parsnips that seem to have accumulated and we had Curried Parsnip and Apple Soup garnished with Parsnip Crisps, followed by Stromboli. (A sort of rolled up pizza).

    I remembered to take pictures of Tuesday evenings menu:

     Sausages (from the freezer) roasted with onions and fresh sage.

    Served with:

    Grilled polenta with cheese triangles. 

    The picture was taken before the triangles were separated and grilled. I used a packet of ready made polenta that has been in the fridge for what seems like an age - it was actually out of date, but I don't pay much attention to dates, so I opened it, smelled it -it smelled OK - tasted a wee bit - it tasted OK so I used it! It was warmed in the microwave and mixed with some grated cheese and mixed herbs then smoothed out in a dish to set before being cut into triangles and grilled.

    We also had:

    Braised brown lentils to use up half an open packet.

    best of all ...

    ...was the caramel shortbread made to use up the out of date tin of condensed milk lurking at the back of the cupboard. (In my opinion tinned food shouldn't have use by dates on.)

    Wednesday I forgot the pics but we used up a plate mince pie that I made and froze a few weeks ago with home made chips and mushy peas.

    Not sure about tonight yet - just Dave and me for tea as Ellie is going to curry night at Weatherspoons with her boyfriend.I'm thinking Home Made Chinese Prawn Curry with Fried Rice (got some frozen from the last time I made fried rice) and Prawn Crackers.


    Tuesday, 8 February 2011

    Booty Bag

    I have a ridiculously long "want to do" list and if I am honest I very rarely actually "do" any of it.
    Instead as I read my way through blog land I collect more and more ideas to add to the list and dream of the day when I'll have a) the time and b) the energy to make at least a small dent in my list.

    Till then I'll need to take pleasure in finding new things to add to my list and tackling one or two when I get the chance motivation.

    Last week I did get the motivation (well OK a little bit!) and made one of the items I've been wanting to make for quite some time.

    Lurking at the bottom of my wardrobe for the past couple of years now has been a pair of brand new jeans that I bought, as what at the time, seemed to be a bargain for only £2.50. The thing is a bargain is only a bargain clothes wise if you wear it, and frankly I didn't like the fit on these jeans but just couldn't be bothered to return them plus return postage would have cost more than the jeans.  So basically a waste of £2.50 and not a bargain at all.

    Then I remembered seeing a shoulder bag made out of a pair of jeans back in the 1970's. (Oh dear showing my age now!) and so this idea was added to my "want to do" list. 

    And there it has stayed for many months (if not in truth a couple of years!) till last week.

    Big drum roll please...

    ...Ta Da!!!!!

    The belt is a silk scarf that I have had for absolutely ages.

    The badges were from a couple of packs of stick on badges that I got in Hobbycraft's sale.

    I hadn't realised till I googled to get some ideas for cutting and techniques that this type of bag is quite popular on American sites and goes by the term "booty bag".

    I'm really pleased with the way this turned out and dear daughter number two has already got her eye on this one, so I may just have to have a sort through the rest of my jeans and earmark another pair to "upcycle".

    Friday, 4 February 2011

    Flea Market Finds

    A visit to the flea market at Tynemouth Station last weekend 
    provided some very nice vintage crockery items.

    This really delicate Aynsley china trio. I have bought this to give to my mam as part of her Mother's Day gift.

    A pretty J & G Meakin bread plate.

    Another bread plate, this one is marked "Ivory England".

    Four Myott Son & Co bowls in the England's Countryside Pattern.

    Best of all the most expensive item was the trio at the princely sum of £3!!
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