Friday, 14 February 2014

A Few Days Later

Hello Friends and Curious Anonymous Readers,

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope you're all doing well out there and are avoiding both the flu and the absolutely dreadful weather mercilessly battering and flooding the UK and this part of Europe to a lesser extent.

I'm happy to report that my irritations have been greatly reduced and my crankiness is abating.

I've now got my new plant lights which were delivered yesterday and it's all good.  I'm grateful that my memory is in pretty good working order enough to remember about US/EU lamps and these ones from the USA are working perfectly.  I love Amazon.com, so efficient and so fast.  I was expecting a wait of a couple of weeks but 5 days later and it's all sorted out.  I can proceed with my seed sowing pretty much on schedule now. grin

As I mentioned in my previous posts I found a new source for ordering my yarn on-line, Hobbydoos.nl.

The yarn is Catania by Schachenmayr.  It's 100% cotton and a soft pleasure to work with.heart

I'm liking the colour combination of purples and greens of various shades.  I have something in the planning stages to be made  in these colours but wanted to play around with them a bit so I made this with Valentine's Day in mind.





I occasionally use other people's patterns and saw this on Ravelry. I couldn't quite figure this one out by sight so I had no other choice than to use the pattern.  This is what it looked like when I first finished it.


 The instructions call for making two of each piece and then joining them together in order to get a piece with some body and weight.  I didn't really want to commit that much time to it since I've got a couple of other projects on the go.  So I did this:

First I steam blocked and then applied the Paverpol

As you can see my ironing board often doubles as a work surface. A dedicated craft room is still a fantasy but I make do with my dining table and ironing board.

 When I first applied the Paverpol to the back of the piece it looked like this:

But after two hours of drying it turns clear and looks like this.



Different to the pattern I added a silver bead in the middle just to add a bit of sparkly-ness to it and a tassel to the bottom.  It's now hanging on my front door. It's got enough "holey-ness" to it that it might end up on a window in the future.

A note about Paverpol: It's great stuff and made right here in Holland. I bought this large size which could last me a lifetime but decanted some to a smaller jar to work from.   I've used it before to stiffen crocheted pieces and it also waterproofs them very well if applied to both sides of the piece. I've got a flower garland on my balcony that was treated with the Paverpol and has lasted through 2 winters. (It's only threat is a parakeet who often mistakes the yellow flower for lunch.)  For general stiffening often just putting it on the back side of the piece as I did on this one is sufficient. It cleans up with water too and my only complaint is the smell which isn't pleasant.  But it's a lot better than the smell from my glue gun.

Because I'm trying different yarns out and also because the brands I often use keep discontinuing colours I started making these swatch charts a few months ago. Under each swatch (is that the correct word when using yarn instead of fabric?)  I wrote the colour name or number.  It comes in handy especially if I'm trying to find a replacement colour in a different brand. So far I've made them for Phildar Cotton 3, Schachenmayr SMC Catania, Drops Paris,which are available from Hobbydoos and Rico Creative Cotton Aran which I need to find a new source for.  These charts are really coming in very handy.

I also ordered this book from Amazon UK.  I had one book but it was for North American birds that I've had for about 40 years.  (Some of those birds may be extinct or close to it by now. frown) I kept meaning to get a new one the whole time I lived in Ireland but never got around to it. This one is for Britain and Europe in case you can't see it very well in the photo.
 

It's right beside my favourite chair and now I can identify the occasional rare birds that visit my feeder.

Here's a little titchy bird that's not so rare but hard to capture on my crappy point and shoot camera.  I'm also shooting from my favourite chair and through the window which isn't very clean due to the recent awful weather. I'm also using the telephoto feature, such as it is. Whenever I get up to get a closer shot of them they fly away. Sometimes there a half dozen or more of them here at a time.



To keep me from getting completely giddy about the turn about from my previous few days' funk I'm still having trouble with the comments gadget and my fonts seem to change from post to post.  I'm working on it and have been reading up on all sorts of blog creation sites for information.  I like learning new things and seeing the results of it but this is proving to be a source of ongoing frustration.  Life is never perfect is it?!

That's all for now.







 PS: Two more posts and I will surpass my total posts for 2013.  I hope to keep the momentum going.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Frustrations, Annoyances and Irritations

Hello Friends and Curious Anonymous Readers

And now for the occasional rant (or four):

So here I was all ready to start off my seeds (see previous post) and prepare for spring/summer.  I always put the seedlings and plants under small grow lights (60w) since it can be several days before the sun shines around here during this very stormy season.  I already have one clip on lamp that I use for flowering plants on a small table in a corner in the living room that I have brought for the winter along with some bulbs that I force to bring some colour to this place and brighten it up.  I think the bulbs have the same spectrum as those very expensive SAD lights.  The OH and I have noticed that we feel more cheerful when the light is on.  But on Wednesday night I noticed that the (plastic) lamp shade had a crack in it.  ( I used to have a metal one like the on in the photo, too but can't find it.)  I took it down to inspect further and the whole shade just crumbled making a mess on the floor. frown  If the whole shade had come apart in situ it would have broken the fairly costly bulb (€ 9 each) which are also becoming hard to find due to the push towards more energy efficient bulbs or perhaps worse, a fire. ( It seems that CFL will be the bulb of choice for plant lights in the future but I don't they will work as well.  No proof of that though, just my natural scepticism and ïf it ain't broke don't fix it mentality. )  Anyway, no more grow lamp for the living room. grumpy  I had another lamp in the "small room with no name" that I use for the seedlings.  I have a small metal roll cart that serves the purpose of a plant stand very well and can move it around if I have to.  Since I haven't actually planted the seeds yet I thought I'd move that lamp into the living room.  I've had a look in a couple of lighting shops around here (they're aren't that many) and couldn't find anything that suited my purpose. This is what I wanted:

 Looking on-line is difficult because I still have trouble with the Dutch language if I want to get anything from here with a nice trim Euro plug rather than the large, fused ones that the UK has. (And then having to use an adapter plug with it which adds more bulk and takes up more room on the power strips.   I checked out Amazon.co.uk and Ebay.co.uk but no dice.  A couple of the ones I thought would suit from the UK weren't delivering outside of the UK.  It's been a bit dreary in here the past few days without the light even with other lamps turned on there's still a darkness in one corner, which surprisingly is next to the windows.   I've spent more time than I dare to admit to to track down the lamps I need.  I finally remembered something from my move to Ireland.  I brought all my lamps with me so those lamps probably came from the US and had a UK plug fitted somewhere along the way.  You can use lamps made for 110-120v if you use a 240v bulb, no rewiring required.  How could I have forgotten that?   (Well, it was 24 years ago and I've moved to another country since then in my defence.)  So yesterday I checked out Amazon.com and found several people selling just the lamp I need and willing to ship to The Netherlands. I ordered 2 of them for the great sum of $25 including postage and also some US to EU adapter plugs. Problem somewhat sorted but now I have the anxiety of waiting to see if it'll do and also the fact that my growing plans have to be put back a couple of weeks. For the moment I have a spare clip on reading lamp with a spotlight bulb in it.  It doesn't have the daylight spectrum but does give some light and warmth to the plants.


Speaking of ordering online I have another annoyance to mention.  Why don't more sites have the facility to save the cart?  I'm a slow shopper.  I like to take my time with an order over a period of a couple of days.  It takes me almost a week to complete my AH on-line grocery shopping but thank goodness I can save my cart there.  I was trying to place an order with Lakeland.co.uk which has some great things for the kitchen and home.  I had my order almost ready and thought I'd sleep on it before placing it.  When I went back to it the next day (I kept the tab open in my browser and just hibernated the laptop) my cart was empty. grumpy  I have in the past taken a screen capture of a shopping cart just in case but this time I forgot.  This also happened with a site that I buy my other craft supplies from last week. Luckily I did take a screen capture so I was able to re-do my cart from there.

And this leads me to another annoyance or is it a frustration:  one of my favourite online yarn shops seems to have stopped trading.  The now defunct site sold all of the brands that I use so I could do a one stop order with them.  I've found another site and have placed an order and have promptly received it but they don't have one brand that I use so I'll have to find a site that does. Cue more time spent on online shopping.......

And on to my next complaint and irritation.  I have an allergy to wool so can't use that for crochet. I can't wear it either.  I can't even stay in a yarn store for more than a few minutes before I start itching, quickly followed by runny eyes, a hot feeling all over and sweating in extreme cases.  Hence my fondness for ordering yarn online.  I like cottons but they can be quite expensive and some lines have very limited colour ranges.  I've tried acrylic but the stuff I've tried so far is very scratchy and splits and is rough on the hands and it leaves loads of lint all over the place.  It takes all the joy out of crocheting.  I've got a whole bag of the stuff.

 I used some to make these pillow covers a couple of years ago


 I tried  making an afghan with it but ending up throwing it out halfway through because I just didn't like the look and feel of it.  I'm willing to give acrylic one more go because I did use some years ago that was just fine but that was a long time ago and in the US and I can't remember what the brand was (if they still exist) although the blanket I made from it is around here somewhere, probably in the storage room (box) downstairs.  Does anyone know of a soft, non splitting acrylic yarn that they can recommend that ships to The Netherlands?

And last but not least my final frustration/ annoyance/ irritation is that I still can't get the comments box on here to work. grumpy

As you can see dear readers, I've had a few grumps and bumps to deal with this week and it's trying my usual "try to  look on the bright-side" attitude.  It's nothing life-threatening or life-changing but annoying and time consuming all the same. I've spent way too much time on-line this past week that I would rather have spent on the couple of projects I'm working on. I'm having trouble getting around at the moment (and the weather's not helping) so the scope of my world is a bit narrower at the moment so I guess this all gets exaggerated in my mind. The birds haven't been around much these past few days to distract me either since it's been so windy and stormy.  (Where do they hang out?)

I hope that you've all had a less frustrating, annoying and irritating week than I have.



Monday, 10 February 2014

Re-Deccorating

Yes, I've made a few changes here.  I've been fooling around with stuff  (gadgets, widgets, whatever) and noticed that the comments link wasn't showing.  It seems that my template was mostly the problem. I've changed it and now the link is showing but the box doesn't always show.  I'm determined to figure it out but I fear it's going to need some HTML editing and I'm all at sea there. confused

So if you've checked this blog out today you may have got a different look at various times of the day.  I hope I didn't confuse you.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Little Treats


Something to Grow
It's that time of the year when I start planning what I'm going to have out on the balcony in the summer. I start mostly everything off in the house in late February-early March for growing outdoors from mid-April on.  I store all the seeds in the refrigerator since I only use a few at a time due to the small space I have for growing and they keep for years.  This is some of what I'm going to try this year. The tomatoes (not shown) are going to be started earlier since they were late in flowering last year when I started them off in early March and were still growing fruit when the cold weather finally finished the plants off. It was still a bumper crop so I wonder how many I'll have this year?

  

Something to Make 
Hooray for online shopping!
The possibilities are endless and my creative wheels are spinning.
 

It's all been moved to it's new place and has joined the rest of the group.heart

Basket of Colourful Happiness, Fun, Ideas and Imagination

 Something to eat
A very decadent and calorific Brunch for one. The amaretto was a sudden idea and a nice touch.


Tinned fruit is better than no fruit at all when it's hard to get out and shop .  I have a little stash of it that comes in handy at times like this.  This time it was pears.
 
Actually I made 4 slices and had some Marks & Spencers pork sausages to go with them with maple syrup over everything. I ate it all up.  Scrumptious!     
Smiley

It's nice to give yourself little treats now and then.  What little treats have you given yourself lately?