Friday, 29 January 2016

Stress & sadness on the patch but a jolly good Christmas was had :o)

It's been a good 7 months since I last blogged, but life here has been somewhat difficult at times.

Three weeks after my last blog in June, my Mum died & although we lived 300 miles apart, that didn't lessen the shock or the sadness.  She'd been ill for quite a while & had gone into hospital the week before, but we all expected her to go home again - she always had in past. This time, though, she went & died instead. 
And that's not what you expect your Mum to do, is it ? 

Every Sunday afternoon since I got married, we'd chat on the phone & for a few months, Sunday's were hard to get through. My Dad always used to answer the phone & we'd have a few words before he passed the phone over to my Mum. Fairly typical of kids, no matter how old they are  - they always chat to Mum & poor ol' Dad gets everything second hand :o)  But now Dad & I chat instead. It's different, but it's comforting in a way :o)  I've also learned how to Skype, which he's been doing for quite a while, so that's something we do now, as well.

Shaun was also in & out of hospital  from January to November for various things and there's now the possibility of a big operation sometime this year, unless those in the know can come up with something else. 

With everything that had happened, Christmas wasn't something I was looking forward to. I've always loved Christmas & especially the excitement in the run up to it - buying & making cards & presents, wrapping them, putting up the tree & the decorations, but I just couldn't get into the spirit of it this time, even with two excited little grandsons.  I just seemed stressed to the point of exploding & pebble dashing everything around me :o) I didn't even watch *It's a Wonderful Life*, something I've done in December for as long as I can remember.

I knew it was going to be difficult, but my daughter & her partner asked us round for Christmas dinner & they made it so lovely & special. It was the first Christmas Day I'd not cooked dinner since I was 20, so it really was a treat. We had a wonderful day & I just cried like a baby at the presents they gave me. They were such thoughtful presents & so *me* :o)

From the boys I had a key ring of 3 washer type rings, one large brass coloured one & 2 smaller silver ones. Engraved /punched on the larger one it said 
*This Grandma belongs to* and the smaller ones had the boys' names on. It's just so lovely but I can't put it on my keys in case it gets scratched, so at the moment, it's still in it's box on my bedside table. 

The present from my daughter & her partner, though,  just blew me right out of my elf slippers :o) 

Yes, these very ones !!

Back in the summer, we'd gone into Halfords to get the boys a pair of cycling gloves each. They'd seen the cut down ones Shaun has for wearing on his whizzy whizzy & they both decided they wanted to be like Grandad :o) 

Anyhooooo. I left Shaun to make his way upstairs in the lift & I walked up the stairs. As soon as I got on the top step, there, right in front of me was THE most beautiful bike :o) It was very *Call the Midwife* in style - peppermint green in colour, cream tyres, a wicker basket on the front, leather seat, leather hand grips & a rack on the back to carry things on. I  walked past it to get the cycling gloves, but I kept going back to look at it. As soon as Shaun came out of the lift I told him I'd got the gloves but *come & look at this bike - isn't it gorgeous ???*

Later in the day, I told my daughter we'd got the gloves for the boys & I mentioned that I'd seen a lovely bike. We had a bit of a back & forwards about what it looked like & that was it. I thought no more about it until, on Christmas Day, I was presented with it !!  It was such a surprise. I had no idea she'd even taken that much notice of the conversation !!

This pic doesn't do it justice though - it was taken quickly in my daughter's kitchen, surrounded by the Christmas goodies on the work top :o)

Now, the biggest fear I had was - I've not been on a bike for at least 10 years & although they say it comes back, I'm 10 plus years older. I might be well upholstered, but I'm pretty sure if I fall off, it's still going to hurt !! :o) I also worried about what the neighbours would think when they saw me - a fat lump wobbling down the road on a green bike !! :o)  However, with the wind & the rain, plus the few days of bitter cold we've had since Christmas, I've only managed to get out on it once & I have to say, it DOES come back to you :o) After the initial wobble of getting started, once I was along the prom, I was OK :o) I bombed along like I last rode yesterday & I bet my Mum was somewhere, cheering me on as I whizzed about :o)

I rode around for about 40 minutes but had to have a couple of rest stops because my thighs complained. A LOT. As did my BTM after a while, but the strangest feeling of all was in my knees. They felt as if I'd put them on backwards. That happens a lot, to be fair, but this time, it actually felt like my leg bones had disappeared & all I had left was a pair of jelly filled legs with knees facing the wrong way !! Most peculiar. 

Because the way home is 99% uphill, I walked the bike back & to be honest, it was probably the best thing to do because somehow, my knees managed to turn themselves back the right way round & my bones miraculously grew again :o) I'm sure if I'd have found a bench & sat down, I'd still be there today !! :o)

So, now I know I CAN still ride a bike, albeit somewhat in a wobbly way, but the neighbour thing I've yet to encounter :o)  Still, if it makes them laugh or smile, it can only be a good thing, right ? :o)

A word of warning though - if you see a large lady on a peppermint green bike heading towards you, MOVE !! Just in case !! :o)

Oh, the pic I've used at the top of my blog is a Day Lily, one of my favourite flowers. It's there to remind us that there IS summer after winter & happiness after sadness :o)

Friday, 5 June 2015

Keeping Busy

It's been a very productive couple of months here, so much so, I wonder if there's anywhere I can order extra hours to add to the days :o)

We had the garden path widened at the end of April, so now Shaun can get up to the top of the garden for the first time since 2010. That's the good news. The bad is that he was then able to see for himself how neglected & overgrown I've allowed it to become since his paralysis & amputation. However, slowly but surely, we've rectified it & now we've almost got it looking lovely again.
That will be the next blog, though.

This one is more of a crafty nature :o)

Since April 2014, along with my friend

 Liz at Granny Creations

I have been making ducks, on & off,  for the

Little Yellow Duck Project

The aim of the project is to make people more aware of the need for blood, tissue, organ & bone marrow donation. The little ducks are knitted, crocheted, sewn or made in some other way & are then placed for people to find them. We tie a label on them, which has their name & the website address. All we ask is for them to be registered on the website, because that way, we know they've been found & that people have taken the time & trouble to see what the project is all about. No money or personal details are asked for, all we really need is the ducks name & where & when it was found. Any extra details, such as the finders name & any message they'd like to add is entirely up to them. Unfortunately, only about a quarter are actually registered, so please, if anyone reading this happens to find a little yellow duck with a label tied to it, saying it was made with love & that you can take it home, please do so. And when you get home, please crank up the ol' laptop or PC & register the duck :o)

These are some of the ducks I've made. I've left them in hospitals, parks, a church & even a castle :o)

Alfie & Dottie.

Ruby & May.



I'm not a crocheter, but I've had a go & made loads of little duck bookmarks. This pic shows at the back: Euphemia, Wilf, Dottie & Alfie and in front, 3 of the bookmarks - Malcolm, Ophelia & Peggy :o)

The ducks may not be perfect, some have wonky eyes & twisted beaks, the sewing up may be a bit untidy, but each duck has been made with love, by someone somewhere across the world, who only wants two things - firstly, to make people aware of the need for donations & secondly, to brighten your day, put a smile on your face & hope that you will, at least, have a look to see what these little ducks are all about.

So, what else have I been up to ?

Cards :o) Thse first two are from May's swap parcels.

It's grandson 1b's 5th birthday soon & as well as trains, he loves dinosaurs. What little boy doesn't ? :o)
This card was made from Liz's parcel & the technique was heat embossing. All I did here was colour in a dinosaur digital stamp in Paint Shop Pro & then I used holographic embossing power on the toes, tail & back.

This was for Shaun's birthday & came from Terri's parcel. The technique was die cutting, so all I did was die cut the image & the sentiment. Simple :o)

April was our Christmas card making month :o)

From Terri's parcel. I used a recycled card that she'd included, matt & layered it on red & gold cardstock, added the ribbon & finished it off with a greeting.

This card, with the robins looking rather like serial killers, is from Liz's parcel :o) Again, plain & simple - die cut the stamped image, coloured with Pro Markers, added glitter glue & stuck it on a die cut circle. The background paper was included in the parcel, so I just stuck both bits on a card, die cut the greeting & added the image.

Two Christmas cards for 2015 down, goodness knows how many more to go :o) But it's a start, right ? :o)

We've been forecast thundery showers today, but as we need to get on on the garden, I'm hoping the forecasters are wrong.

Oh pooh. It's raining . . .Sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Never mind, the garden DOES need the rain & if I want to show you a lovely garden, I need the plants to grow.

Watch this space :o)

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Quiet on the blog . . .

but not on the patch :o)

I know I'm like a broken record - & showing my age by saying that - but where has the first third of the year gone ?  

We've been busy here at home, trying to get the garden ready for summer & my sister in law has been painting & decorating indoors for us. 

Over the past month, Shaun has been hacking away at the ivy on the side of the garage & made a trellis for a variegated Jasmine & for the honeysuckle that we found hidden in the ivy. It's just a large root & one single branch with a few leaves on it at the moment, but hopefully, it'll thrive now it's not being strangled :o)

This past week, we've had the garden path widened so Shaun can get up to the top of the garden in his wheelchair & we've also had the slabs that I'd just chucked down, laid properly. But, that will be another blog.

This blog is Ivy-gate & the freeing of the garage wall :o)

This is what the ivy looked like & has done ever since we moved here in 2001.
It wasn't much of a problem really, as long as we kept it cut across the top to stop it creeping in where the roof meets the walls. How it managed when there's no gap is a mystery, but that's ivy for you :o)
However, I decided I wanted it gone. Don't know why, I just had a funny 5 minutes & that was that. My mind was made up :o)

Shaun decided it was something he could do from his wheelchair, so he set to. It would have only taken him a day or so in his pre-wheelchair days, but it took about a week to get the ivy off & another 4 days to get the root out.
Right at the back, attached to the wall, was this bird house. We'd never seen it before, so it must have been there a good 15-20 years or so.

Also in among the ivy was this old bird's nest. It was pretty much dust & only held together by luck. I thought there was a nest in there a couple of years ago because I'd seen birds flying in with worms, but although I'd had a poke about, hadn't found it.

One half of the ivy off the side wall. Shaun's made another bird house to replace the one we found, but whether the birds will use it or if it'll just be decoration, only time will tell..

I'm hoping like mad that now the ivy has gone, the snails will not be as plentiful this year !! :o)

As you can see, there were hundreds of them, all hidden in the leaves & clinging to the wall. The birds had a good feast with the ones I flung on the garage roof ! :o)

Nearly all gone. Just a few bits left & the huge root. After it was all off, I wire brushed the walls & Shaun scraped as far as he could reach & we prepared it for painting.

Just the root to go & it put up a fight !!

It grew under & on top of the cement footings.

Grandson 1a helped to cut it out . . .

& Grandson 1b helped fill in the hole it left :o)

 Ivy all gone, flower bed prepared. All it needed now was to be painted.

 Grandson 1a & . . .

Grandson 1b were on hand as willing helpers . . . 

& this is the end result. I painted the far left side as Shaun's wheelchair couldn't get down there & I also did all the high bits, green & cream :o)

All it needs now is the trellis on the walls, the flower bed needs to be planted up & I'm going to put pea shingle on it to help keep weeds down.

A good few weeks work & even though it's caused Shaun some health problems along the way, he feels a real sense of achievement.

Our garden has always been bright & sunny, but I think this year it'll be even more so.

IF we get a summer, that is :o)

Saturday, 17 January 2015

2015 already ???

Where on earth did 2014 go ?
One day it was July, the next day it was January !!

 When I was a kid, I used to say *I wish I was 10, I wish I was 13* etc. & my Mum always used to reply - *Don't wish your life away, it goes quicker than you think* Of course, I'd snort & not believe her - after all, the summer holidays lasted FOREVER & the sun shone every single day :o)

Now, I know better . . . :o)

Christmas here on my patch was a very busy family time,  but I didn't get to see my Mum & Dad because they were too poorly to visit. It's 300 miles each way for them to drive & to be honest, I think it's too far for them to come. Unfortunately, we're unable to go to them because of Shaun's continuing health problems, so my Uncle played postman for this Christmas. It's not ideal, but we have the year to sort something out. Unless of course one day it's July & the next it's January again :o)

Every year in January, I decide what I'd like to accomplish in the coming year, but it never works the way I hope, so this year, my expectations are nil :o) There are things that have to be done - we need to decorate, for example, but I hate decorating with a passion. Shaun always used to do it - I'd only be allowed to paint the middle of things because I don't have a steady hand - but unfortunately, there's only so much you can do in a wheelchair & decorating a house is not one of them :o) Luckily, we have his sister who likes decorating & said she'd do it as a Christmas present to us :o) We've just got to get the paint now :o)

Having the patio laid last summer was the best thing we did in the garden. However, I now need to tackle the rest of it.

I have 40 or 50 pots that all need sorting out & replanting, I have grass that needs cutting, bushes that need trimming, paths that need sweeping & no doubt, the weeds will soon be more like triffids. I have a horrible feeling that once again I'll be having another fight with the snails. I don't know why they like my garden so much, but in Spring & Summer, I collect over a 100 of the  *"!$%#!! every single day.

The front garden is mostly paving slabs but the weeds find their way through the tiniest crack, so that needs doing soon, as well. I'm hoping the heavy frost we have this morning might help kill them off, but I live in dreams :o)

I have made one garden decision though - this year, I won't be growing any veg. I might change my mind as it gets warmer but at the moment, I know I just won't have the time. The past few years have shown that & so I've decided to concentrate on my plants & flowers this year. Hopefully, I'll have a garden as colourful as it used to be, when Shaun was at work & time was pretty much my own. All I need to do is replant the pots with stuff :o) I have seed & bulbs, so in a few weeks time, when it's brighter, warmer & not so wet, I'll dig out the wellies, hat & garden jacket & get going.

Well, that's the plan, anyway :o)
Watch this space, you never know, a miracle might just happen !! :o)

Friday, 28 November 2014

The Four Elements

November brings our 2014 challenges to a close & the theme for this was my choice. Much to the disgust & distress of everyone. Me included :o)  I don't know what I was thinking when I chose it, but I was obviously having a funny five minutes or had finally lost the plot :o) Probably a bit of both, if truth be known :o)

Anyway, I managed to get one card per element from each parcel, so 8 cards in total.

First up, Terri.


The only thing I actually used from Terri's parcel was the holly patterned paper behind 
the snowy scene tag. To give it some oomph, I used Stickles glitter glue for the snow.


You need plenty of wind to get a bi-plane in the air :o) The image was mine, but the gold mirror card & blue paper came from the parcel. I used a cloud embossing folder to echo the clouds on the image, added the card candi & greeting.


Well, Fire BOY, but artistic licence & all that :o) Again, the image & greeting were mine, but the card & nirror card cane from the parcel. I added glossy accents to the hose & helmet to make it shiny :o)


This is my favourite - I love the Forever Friends teddies & this one, walking in the rain with his little brolly, was perfect for the water card. Everything but the image, greeting & card candi was from the parcel.

Now on to Liz's.


I loved the green background paper so decided that would be the main colour for this card. I like brown with green, so used the brown from the parcel as background for the image & greeting. I coloured the image - a digital stamp of mine - with pro-markers, die cut the circles & added the greeting.


In my head, this was a beautiful card. In real life, it's not what I wanted AT ALL. 
I loved the terracotta & gold coloured papers & thought the strippety stripy ribbon would go well with them. I still do, but unfortunately, the image isn't right :o(


Well, a candle left unattended in a glass lantern, COULD  grow to become fire !! :o)
I love this image, but again, it's not as nice as it could be. I used it for a couple of cards last year & it was much nicer. The yellow & green paper was in the parcel & I thought it went quite well with the tartan-ish paper I had. I think it's quite a masculine card :o)


The blue & white wavy paper just screamed SEA at me, & living at the seaside, I just had to have a boat on the water for this card :o)  Yet again, the image, card candi & greeting were mine :o)

As usual, all very plain & simple cards - I can't do fancy, gorgeous or intricate, it just isn't in me, but
as the challenges for 2015 are all techniques, who knows what I'll come up with :o)
For now, though, I think we're all pretty much "carded" out for this year :o) 

Monday brings December & with it, our favourite parcels - ADVENT :o)

We give each other 24 little parcels, each containing a crafty item - it might be a small stamp, a few buttons,  ribbons, cardi candy or stamped images, and it should come from our stash :o) We are, however, allowed to buy something for parcel no. 25 - Christmas Day :o)

Roll on Monday, I can't wait to see what's in my parcels :o)

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Remembrance 2014

I have very strong views about Remembrance Day & Remembrance Sunday . I don't think wearing poppies glorifies war, as some people seem to think & I don't think two minutes silence on each day is too much to ask.

Maybe I feel this way because I *do* my family tree & we have lost family members in both world wars & in recent conflicts.

Or maybe I feel this way because it's right to be thankful for the freedom we have today,  that we probably wouldn't have, had it not been for those who died defending us.

Whatever the reason, we shouldn't forget, not now & not in the future. Our children & grandchildren, their children & grandchildren, should always be aware of what went on before and be proud of the part their ancestors played in history.

Lest We Forget.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Dotty for Spotty

Well, I've actually managed to get this months cards made & blogged with a couple of hours to spare !! :o)

I only managed to make 2 cards from each parcel, not because there wasn't enough stuff to use, but simply because time wasn't on my side.

Anyhoo, here are the cards from Terri's parcel:

The only thing I added to this card from my stash was the silver card candi. A lovely little tag & two different spotty papers, made a nice plain & simple.birthday card.

Yet again, I used one of my favourite stamps for this card. The card candi ,stamped image & greeting, along with the black & white card & ribbon just cried out to be used as a Thinking of You or Sympathy card.

Now on to Liz's two.

The brown card, image & spotty card was included in the parcel. Using promarkers, I coloured the little bird. I then stamped the greeting, added red strips & the brown card candi.

As this spotty paper was quite busy-but-plain, I decided to keep it simple by using a lovely lily stamp that I'd forgotten I had :o) I just coloured it with promarkers, die cut the circles with card & paper Liz had included, stamped the greeting & coloured & edged it with a promarker & ink pad & that was it.

November's challenge is my choice & for some strange reason, I chose the Four Elements. Don't ask me what I was thinking when I chose it, I was probably having a funny five minutes :o)

Watch this space !! :o)