Wednesday, 30 January 2013

What a difference a day makes! Feeling a bit brighter and lighter!

The weather featured in my last post and I really can "cosy on down" with the best of them but endless,endless rain does not help when things are a little grey in your life. We have been pulling the curtains.turning on the fire,crafting and eating too many rock cakes but this morning life seemed a little brighter.Everything in the house felt lighter.

Monday, 28 January 2013

It's Raining, It's Pouring .... It's been wet.wet.wet since this morning!

Living is Devonshire all my life means that I am used to not having much snow. It also means I am used to lots of rain. The prevailing winds drop lots and lots of raindrops on our little village. And today the winds have been blowing rain like stair rods all day. It is dark,dismal,windy and wet.

So, an antidote was needed. I have a kind of bargaining arrangement between cosying on down and getting some things done. So, today I have cleaned and sorted the freezer. Washed and polished all the kitchen tiles and made a few more arrangements for the funeral next week.

But I was not going to find things to do when there are lovely crafty pursuits waiting in the wings. Firstly, we must be some of the few people who have never watched Downton Abbey. So we popped on Netflix and watched episode number two. Brilliant. Then we began to dream about something sweet,home made and comforting .There is always one recipe that comes to mind.
This sweet little book has been on my shelf for as long as I can remember and the Rock Cake recipe is perfect.


I have never grown out of "licking the bowl" either! Just a few minutes later delicious cakes ready for eating by the fire.





They really did cheer us up. And so have the bunches of tulips around the house. There bright colours contrast beautifully with grey,grey,grey.



And peeping around the edge of the vase a picture of William. He brightens every day. He is walking now so we are looking forward to celebrating this milestone next week. 

Of course in the background the compilation of the BIG blanket is continuing. Another milestone. I have quietly hooked 500 little squares and they are nearly all sewn together. I am totally in awe of the big blankets which have been featured in blogland., I am totally in awe of mine! But more on the Elmer blanket soon.

I am so grateful to all my followers "old" and "new" for popping in and leaving such lovely comments.

In case it rains in your neck of the woods tomorrow here is the recipe for the Rock Cakes.

8ozs\200grams Self Raising Flour.
Pinch of salt.
4ozs\100grams Margarine or Butter.
4ozs\100grams Sugar ( I used light golden)
3ozs\75grams Dried Fruit.
1 Egg
Milk to blend.

Mix the flour and salt. Rub in Margarine\Butter and mix in Sugar and Fruit. Beat the egg with a small splash of milk and mix into mixture with a knife. It should be firm.
Place on a baking tray in rocky heaps and bake in a hot oven 200 degrees for 15-20 mins.

Cosy down whilst they are still warm with a lovely cup of tea.Then pull the curtains and hope for a dry,sunny day tomorrow. I am .



Saturday, 26 January 2013

Life is a list, and a BIG blanket!

Firstly, I would like to say a huge  "Thank You" to each and everyone of you who have left such kind and empathetic comments. They really have meant so much to me and "The Sporty One." I would also like to welcome all my new followers. I am sorry you have joined me here at Chalky's at rather a sad juncture in our lives, but thank you so much for becoming a follower.

Life seems to be one long list at the moment! We have been able to arrange a service in our Village Church.Mum loved this little Church and tucked in her purse was the collection she had saved for the next service before she had her fall.



Sadly the crematorium is really busy in our area so although our little village church could have arranged the funeral for this next week we have to wait another week for a slot at the Crematorium for our final "Goodbyes" to Mum.

Of course we have managed to catch up some much needed sleep. We have reminisced and talked about Mum. But there really is a lot to arrange. Phone calls across the country and across the world. A need to double check with everybody as this is our last chance to remember Mum, and say farewell.

The first thing I did was to find a photo of a happy time with Mum. That was easy. She loved coming to visit us in Spain. She loved the sunshine and blue skies. This picture says it all. Holding hands and looking so happy.I have put it on the kitchen table and it is helping us so much to leave those long dark days in the hospital behind us. I will get a frame for this photo very soon, but just for now it is just about perfect.


I started the BIG blanket when I was sitting at Mum's bedside. It was, as I said in a previous post the perfect
distraction.Soothing and comforting.
I know myself really well, but, my goodness I have learnt a lot about myself in the last week. I am really good at starting projects and I am even better at abandoning them!!
I usually get back to them at some point. But, to stop them pricking my conscience I put them in the cupboard of doom, also known as the understairs cupboard!
 I have no idea why this gorgeous chevron blanket is in there.


 But, I know exactly why my first foray at sock making is there. Blimmin' things!


I usually make little things, quick and easy little things.
Things that I can enjoy "on the go" things that take little thought as I watch the television in the evenings.
But the BIG blanket is special. I did try bringing it downstairs when I was whip stitching the squares but made a mistake and swore loudly!
I, of course can make sweet little piles of squares.



 But I want to see it growing.And, my goodness it is growing!
 But I want it for a king size bed so it has got a lot more growing to do yet!


I have sewn over 350 little squares together and it took me a while to realise that it is much easier to sew the squares together as you work if you have the blanket upside down.
This also ensures you can not ignore all the ends that need sewing in! I never do those as I am working but I have this time! What a relief that will be.
I had a complete wobble the other night. Was it going to be too heavy? Was it going to be too big? How will I ever manage all those rounds of crochet to make a border? Do I actually like it enough to finish it? Would I still think of Iris in a sad way every time I looked at it?
All those questions were enough to send me on a Google Hunt and just for a moment A Bactus scarf pattern winked at me very loudly. 
But, I don't want this blanket to go into hiding. That would make me much sadder. I want to finish it. I decided actually it reminded me of Elmer and my time with "the littlies" so I got the books out and read them to myself and I decided I WILL finish this blanket.I will look forward to reading the stories to William as he cuddles down under such a happy blanket.



 It will not be an Iris blanket but it will remind me of the love we shared. 
 I also got out some balls of wool from my stash. Iris coloured wool.




 So when I have finished the BIG blanket my next project will be a blanket for Mrs Twins and it will be called Iris and I will attach a little card and send it on its way with love from all the family.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Iris



It was time, last evening for our very own Iris to say "Goodbye" to this world.
She was so calm and at peace. 
She was surrounded by love.
 She would have told us not to grieve for too long, she has had a good life.
So now we are left without her.
A time of reflection, thankfullness and adjustment.
Of course we will look back with so many memories.
We have already laughed at some and cried at others.
She took her rightful place in the order of things.
No more pain,no more loneliness and no more struggles.
I am so glad that she had her family whom she loved like a Mother does.
She loved like a Mum,a Grandma and this last year as a Great Grandma.


Thank you all so much for all your wonderfully supportive comments about my last post.
The "Circle of Life" has completed its rotation for a while for us just now.
And my big blanket is looking sweeter already,woven with happy memories and dreams of what is to come.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Bittersweet crochet round the Circle Of Life.

Just now we are spending every minute we can at my Dear Mother In Laws bedside. The time passes, quietly at times.gentle reflective thoughts about a life of over eight decades. At other times funny things are remembered. Incidents that immediately make us laugh and we know if she was conscious she would be laughing with us. But, our tears and smiles are bedfellows right now.

We are reading,resting,watching a silent television and waiting.
My hook,as always is nearby and my BIG blanket is growing fast. All those little squares are a perfect distraction. The Masons pack of Stylecraft wools means that colour choices will be tonal and blend perfectly. No need for any angst or too much thought! Just a repetitive motion which is soothing and gentle.

My how this project has grown in these early weeks of the New Year.

Death brings such sadness which takes a little while to accept.These sad,last days take a while to fade and happier memories blossom.

I am wondering whether this blanket will always be bittersweet or become a lovely memory of a last goodbye. I will just have to wait and see as each day unfolds.piece by piece,square by square,stitch by stitch.

Monday, 14 January 2013

A little bit of prettiness! Card making for a change.

I have a special birthday this year. I am looking forward to it as we have decided not to have a big party but, instead have a few days away by the sea with the family and then a weekend celebration with close, and well loved friends.Making plans is really such a special part of any celebration and I wanted to make sure that these special people were free to join in with the celebrations.
So, I decided to do a little papercrafting. I have not done any for ages and I really enjoyed getting all my papers and bits and pieces out. And Tah Dah! A little selection, just perfect for " A Save The Date " reminder.I love Luggage labels and use them on my gifts and here they are decorated with a pretty square of material and a button.Just a little bit different but so quick and easy.



My dear Mother In Law has been in hospital after a fall just before Christmas. She broke her hip and needs lots of time to make a full recovery. This weekend lots of the family who live a long way away came to surprise her and hopefully lift her spirits..There is something lovely about having the house full and knowing that there is time to catch up,chat,relax and enjoy being together, I want family and friends to know we love having them so  little bits,and a chocoalte or two just add a bit of a welcoming touch.I love getting rooms ready for guests.I obviously chose the wrong job. The " littlies" soon wrecked anything arranged artistically and quite rightly re-organised everything in their particular way.
 I used to make a lot of cards but had run out of steam of late. I had even had a request from my Dear Daughter In Law for some cards.So whilst the table was covered in paraphenalia it seemed a good idea to carry on. Pretty ribbons,hearts and buttons.


Japanese papers. I love these so much! 


Stitched hearts from Vintage Wool Blankets.My favourite blanket stitch!



And some mounted photos of our travels and garden.


All popped in a little pouch and popped on the bed as a little welcome gift!


So, we were all ready. The weather was being typically Devonshire. Mizzling.Such a good word to describe it,grey,damp and dull. Just as well I picked up these little beauties yesterday. Spring must be on the way ....soon!




And another sure way of beating the January blues is to see this gorgeous smile!


The best medicine methinks!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Sweet Memories!

Memories!
Universal I guess.
In many ways the fabric of our being. Memories of experiences that have shaped and moulded us. I do, in general live for the present moment. That old saying ... "Yesterday is History.Tomorrow a mystery, but Today is a gift" rings true for me.

However, just now with my Mother In Law still in hospital it is easy to see the evidence of the years passing by so quickly. I still see her as the young Mum of my new boyfriend. That boyfriend and I have been married for forty years now so things have changed so much. We have all changed but old age brings a change that is undeniable. She is our last remaining parent and we know the journey we have ahead of us with her.

So, the grey days of January, and hospital visiting brings a certain sadness to our days just now. A poignancy for the sweet days when all we had to worry about was whether we had enough Pearl White to make our teeth white enough for kissing .. well that was me. As for the "Sporty One" I think it was probably more about a West Ham result but Hey Ho!

I still live in the same village where I was brought up. I can see my old house from my windows and the other day I wished I could just turn the clock back. I wished I could drive my Blue A40 in the drive. I wished I could open the kitchen door wearing my suede boots and mini skirt and hope there was Salmon Fishcakes and Angel Delight for tea.

Sweet memories.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

1,2,3 AND PIMP YOUR JAR.

Today it is think "outside the nine dots" approach to the three a day challenge. I am totally keeping in touch with my idea of it being stress free. So, if I open a cupboard and see a pile of things my aim is to reduce the pile by at least three. Now, we do not have a dog anymore,in fact we have not had a dog for eighteen years so my neeD to collect dog towels is a little misplaced.

Our daughter does have the delightful "Buster." He is gorgeous, Springy and often very wet.


 So, I do need a towel or maybe two. So my towel pile is not completely unnecessary. It is too high though, it is taking up too much room. So today three towels have been popped in a bag and they are off to the local Animal Rescue Centre.

Now,Pimp your jar?
Well whilst reading snippets in the Good Housekeeping Magazine. And,no, I am not a shareholder! I came across this article.


Join the Jam Jar Army

” The Jam Jar Army is a new way of giving. When I was growing up there was a poor box in our house, and we filled it with coppers. Not policemen. They wouldn’t fit. But coins. Good idea huh? Most of us don’t have a poor box anymore – but we do have a jam jar. So, why not join us –  empty your pockets and fill a jam jar with change

It’s simple.

*Eat the jam (that bit is quite important).

*When the jar is empty and clean (that’s not as important but it’s probably better that way), fill it with all those coins you don’t really want cluttering your pockets and your handbag and your house.

With the support of the Northumberland Gazette we  launched the Jam Jar Army in Northumberland, where the first collection raised £12,868 for Hospice Care North Northumberland.  We are currently attempting to raise funds for the Alnwick Playhouse Youth Theatre which serves the kids across North Northumberland. So far through the Jam Jar Army, the kids in the youth theatre have raised more than £10,382 for themselves – a great achievement, and a credit to the generosity of our community.

If you live outside Northumberland and want to join the Jam Jar Army, we are happy to have you. Please fill your jar and give it to a good cause – any good cause will do –  and please let us know how much you raised and which charity you donated to. Elsewhere in the UK, the Jam Jar Army has been used to raise £800 in aid of Humber Rescue, £400 for London’s homeless and £240 for Derwentside Mind. (That is a national total of £24,690 for five good causes.)

One of the best things about what we are doing is you can fill your jam jar again. And again. All in your own time – either for the nominated charity or for a charity of your choice.

Join the Jam Jar Army and

*you give money you won’t miss

*you give at a time you can afford

*you get to feel good about yourself for pennies (it’s a well-known fact that the act of giving lights up the brain in exactly the same way as the act of receiving.)

*it’s green too.

Forget the old excuse “I gave at the office”. You can tell them “I gave at home” and mean it. And as those pennies fill that jar, know you’re making a difference.

Together we can make this a habit. A habit of giving.

Let’s get jammy.”

Judith O’Reilly

I loved this idea. When I was growing up my local Sunday School had Sunshine Smiles Book. You had to sell pictures of children from far away lands to give to Charity. I still have my little collectors badge. That will not be going anywhere in the three a day de-clutter challenge. We also had a papier mache Globe shaped Money Box which sat on the sideboard for Overseas Charities. I am not sure why we decided as a family to save for overseas charities. We lived in Devon and until they died my parents only ever went to Cornwall on holiday and never flew in an aeroplane but that was how it was.

So, I got my jam jar out of the Chutney making cupboard and put it on the side. Then I looked at it and it just looked dull. So, I got my trusty hook out and pimped my jar! Love it now. The " Sporty One " approves and clinks too!


So, as soon as it is full I will contact the Jam Jar Army barracks and take my pennies to Hannah's. Not an Overseas charity but one very close to my heart.

Do you think you could join? And if you pimp your jar I would love to see it!



Wednesday, 9 January 2013

1,2,3 AND TORQUAY POTTERY.

My Dad was an avid collector. He did not entertain the idea of decluttering. He lived in a farm in the middle of Dartmoor and filled his house and surrounding barns with stuff. He loved Auctions and Antique shops.


Here he is with one of the Dartmoor ponies he kept in his fields.One of the things he loved to collect was Torquay Pottery. He had hundreds of pieces. He was thrilled when he was made the National Co-odinator and even more thrilled when a plate was commissioned to celebrate this position. I was equally thrilled when I was given it to look after when he died.


I have a selection of his pottery which I love. It is all together and I remember my Dad every time I look at it.
But more is often less. I placed the pieces I love the most on the shelves and then wondered what to do with the three pieces I could not place. They have sat in a cardboard box for the last eight months and today they have jumped into poll position on the three a day challenge.


I have popped them on Ebay today and we shall see. I am so glad I have as they are too special to stay in a cardboard box!

How are you getting on with your three a day? Thank you so much for all your encouraging comments.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Onwards and Upwards. The new 3 a day challenge!

I had wondered if a post just about thoughts would get any response. Thank you so much for leaving your encouraging comments about my last post. I have been thinking about de cluttering some more. For me I have decided to take the gentle route. I am not going to think of it as a big project. I am not going to stress about it. I am going to gently go about my lovely daily life and put 3 things in a Charity bag. I am not going to get in emotional wrangles. If I pick it up and it hurts at all it can go straight back... Maybe until another day. If it just looks at me, off it goes to pastures new! I really don't need 10 hairbrushes!
Thank you for popping in and I hope you join me. 21 articles a week will soon add up.

So, my 3 articles today were 3 boxes of Passata. They were received very happily at my local Food Bank.

No harm in thinking outside the nine dots with this de cluttering malarky!

One other thing I am going to tag on to my posts is a review of 2 books. It follows the same theme really. I have finished 2 over the festive period. 1 will be going to Charity and 1 to a friend. We love the same books so I know she will want to read the one which is good enough to keep.
Well,not literally but you know what I mean!

I loved "The Island" by Victoria Hislop.So I was looking forward to reading "The Thread" but no,not for me. I actually found it quite boring. So that is the one for the Charity Bag.

Whereas, "A Street Cat Named Bob" by James Bowen I found delightful. A story full of hope, told in such a simple way. All about new beginnings. Loved it! So, that is the one on it's way to my friend.

We are funny because we save books for each other. We have been friends for 40 years and I always try and read the books really carefully so that she has the enjoyment of a book in a nearly new condition. I love a brand new,uncreased book. Just like clean sheets.

That brings me to another challenge. What do I do with the Kindle I was given as a present? I have tried to make friends with it. But,no.not for me? eBay I guess. We shall see.



Monday, 7 January 2013

I've Been Reading and It Has Made Me think!

I had a magazine subscription from a friend for Christmas. I have had Good Food before but this year it is for" Good Housekeeping ". I have been lying in bed reading various articles,snippets of information,and new ideas.
The medical bits I skim. I never watch hospital dramas either!

For quite a few years I have been on a serious decluttering journey. I have found it rewarding and energising. I rarely miss things that have had the " heave ho". The Charity Shops benefit and at least I know where everything is. I love opening cupboard doors and everything is in place and not falling out as soon as it sees the light of day.

I read an article by Mary Lambert a Decluttering Expert. I would love her job. But I am still amazed at her article. She claims that she has pared her possessions down to 100 items. She has made necessary exceptions like furniture,big electrical items,china and cooking equipment. Also she grouped some items of clothing, like underwear, together as one item.

I began to look around my house, not counting as I looked, but definitely thinking. I decided to try and get rid of 3 things a day. Quite easy, not too drastic and easy to pop in a bag for Hannah's. Today, however, I looked at a large box of CD'S. There were definitely more than 100 in that box alone and we do not even have a CD player anymore. But, even though I roped in the "Sporty One" it was so hard. We remembered where we had bought a particular one. We remembered which car we had driven in the 80's listening to Dire Straits.Which holiday we had been on when listening to Madonna. You get my drift. However,undeterred I took 2 bags full to the Charity Shop and did not even look back as I left. Rod Stewart is exempt and always will be!

So, I will keep going but I think life would be a little bleak with just 100 items. Anyway, I must have over 100 balls of wool alone and I would not be the Quirky "Me" that my friend loves enough to present with a magazine subscription if I did.

What do you think?

Sunday, 6 January 2013

ANNOUNCING THE WINNER!!!!!!

Firstly, a big Thank You to all my lovely followers who joined in with my Giveaway to celebrate150 friends who have chosen to be a part of " Chalky 's World "

Secondly, Thank You to my new followers who I hope will pop back often.

I am at the moment reverting to old fashioned ways...... My blog will be featuring this very soon.
So,feeling in the Old Fashioned groove I dropped the names of the lovely people who had left a comment about their new projects in a bowl.lifted high I asked " The Sporty One " to dip his hand in.
And the winner is ......... The lovely Vixen!

Congratulations Vixen. I have loved choosing,making and packing this little Giveaway. So, as soon as I have your address it will be winging it's way to you.

Thank you again everyone. Onwards and upwards with a New Year of blogging and again thank you for all your support and encouragement.