Wednesday, 30 November 2011

It's St Andrew's Day...

What an excellent excuse for a musical interlude from some of my favourite Scottish bands and artists...

Happy St Andrew's Day to everyone in Scotland and everyone elsewhere with a wee bit of Scottish blood coursing through their veins!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Torn-out Tuesday

The clear-out continues, the details of which I'll spare you - suffice to say, one more bag has already left the building, heading in the direction of a charity shop; one bag is heading to school with either French resources that  I have bought on holiday and kept at home (I've now decided they'd be better kept in school as I don't want them cluttering up the place here!) or with books I no longer need, now I've decided I'm never going back to being a class teacher, which others may have a use for; and plenty has been deposited in either the recycling bin or the jaws of the shredder. And the cupboards under the stairs are immaculate!

A very pleasurable little interlude in all this tidying has provided me with yet another opportunity for an alliterative title, as I went through the magazine rack, merrily ripping out bits I want to keep before sending the magazines into the blue bin.  I have a big scrapbook where I keep inspiring pictures.  I have thought about joining 'Pinterest' but as it has 'Request an Invite' on the front page, I have so far been put off...

So as I've had no time for taking photos (and anyway, you probably don't want to see photos of the detritus, nor of my unfeasibly tidy drawers and cupboards...) I will share a few of those I tore out today.

And just in case you missed it yesterday, I'll just let you know that I am selling this angel, amongst other things on ebay, in aid of Crisis.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Thoughts turning to home...

I've dithered about whether or not to do this post, but as I mentioned it in my last post, I'm sort of duty bound to go ahead with it, so here goes...

I'm not usually one for sharing much in the way of feelings on my blog (well, apart from excitement when a parcel arrives or some particularly lovely bit of old stuff has come into my possession!) but I'm making an exception here, for a very worthwhile cause.

On Friday, when I read Sophie's post about St Cuthbert's Church and the homeless man who sleeps there, I  felt pretty choked up.  At a time of year when thoughts focus on home, family and friends, it is terrible to think of those who, for whatever reason, have no home in which to take shelter and no family or friends with whom to share and celebrate.  I needed to do something.

With the de-clutter continuing, and ebay offering free listings over the weekend, I thought that one small thing I could do would be to list some of the things we no longer need for one of the homelessness charities.  I tried to find one that focuses on homelessness in rural communities, because I'm sure that this is a problem that is rather overlooked, but so far have failed to do so, so opted for 'Crisis' who are running their well-known 'Crisis at Christmas' campaign for the 40th time this year.  If anyone knows of a rural homelessness charity, please let me know what it is!

So I am mentioning my ebay listings here in the hope that you might be hop over and take a look.  90% of what I raise will be going to Crisis.  

How nice would those look in amongst your Christmas decorations?

And then I have also added this angel...

...for anyone out there who'd like something completely individual on top of their tree this year!

(I have listed most of these for the UK only just because I am never sure about postage abroad, so I apologise to my readers overseas!  However, I will happily post the angel abroad!)

A big thank you in advance if you have a look and find something to bid on - I will be pleased with the space in my house, and Crisis will be no doubt be pleased grateful for any money they receive. 


PS I am also selling a bit of designer bling on there for someone else, just in case you're into that kind of thing!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sunday Catch-Up

My goodness it's been busy round here.

The de-cluttering bug is now rampant in the household, with the contents of drawers and cupboards being cast out of their cosy holes and all manner of items seeing the light of day again, only to find themselves consigned to bags and heading in varied directions, though mostly in the direction of charity shops.

Mr U-t-B has caught the bug too, and soon our bedroom will be unrecognisably tidy, as his 'side' of the room is now being turned out.  It will remain to be seen whether he can mange to be as drastic as I have been - Friday's sort out of my wardrobe and chest-of-drawers yielded three bags for the charity shop, one for textile recycling and two for the bin, plus a few items which I will recycle, and a few which I am listing on ebay.

Certain things just had to be kept - I can't part with my Tiny Tears (and all her clothes, so beautifully made by my Mum)...

...even if she has developed a wonky eye,  nor with my teddy complete with his pyjamas, but minus his nose...

 ...and my battered ambulance (given me by my aunt) is definitely staying.

My Mary Quant Daisy doll and all her trendy clothes will be kept...

 ...along with this tiny and beautifully sewn, jointed teddy my sister made for me when she was about eleven.

 I will also have to keep Topsy.  When I was a child I was going to send her away, but my Mum wouldn't let me, as she said she reminded her of me, with a mischievous look in her eyes...

I really hope I didn't have quite this look - she has the faintest hint of 'horror movie child' about her!

I wonder what childhood bits and pieces you've hung on to?

I said I'd let you know about Mr U-t-B's angel making.  Well here's a first - a home movie!

Yes - he managed  (with many a tinkle, and therefore 
angel-creation) to get the bell I bought him up and working!

Here it is from the outside...

(if you look very closely)
The 'pull' is transferred by a system of pulleys (which we managed to get from Broughtons of Leicester)... our very tinkly bell!  
We will now have to employ Mr Carson to answer the door for us!

(Shock confession - I have only watched a couple of episodes of Downton Abbey, and didn't  really get what all the fuss was about.  I probably needed to pay it more attention, as I'm sure all those fans out there can't be wrong!)

Next I've got lots to list on ebay - it's a free listing weekend so worth the effort.  I read this post by 'Fading Grace' and had an idea.  It's not quite a fully formed idea yet, but back with it soon...

Friday, 25 November 2011

Making Angels

Mr U-t-B and I have both been making angels...

 I worked on the how-to provided in the magazine to make the angels a right bunch of posers, capable of Highland Flings...

 ...jaunty haloos...

...exaggerated exclamations...

...and garrulous greetings...

Faces have been developed... well as slightly different styles of dress and embellishment...

...and some blondes have flown onto the scene, to join the raven-haired and the brunettes.

(May I also add that these angels all have a lovely pair of bloomers to preserve their modesty whilst aloft...

...pipe- cleaner bottoms and unravelling wool not being very attractive!  These also allowed me to pad the bodies a bit, which I scented with Christmas Spice oil.)

'And what part did Mr U-t-B play in the making of these angels?' I hear you ask.
Well, no - he's been making angels of his own.  Here's a quotation from my favourite
 film ever, that tells you how...

"Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings."
Zuzu in 'It's a Wonderful Life

I'll give you more details of why he's been ringing bells, maybe tomorrow!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Blog-Land Bugs

When I said yesterday that I had caught a bug in Blog-Land and hinted that the bug might keep me from the computer, I inadvertently misled some of you, for which I apologise.  

You see, there is nothing wrong with the computer, nor with our connection, nor even with Blogger itself (though I know it has been behaving in a somewhat sulky and irrational way for others out there...)  

The bug I caught was the 
30-Day De-Clutter.

(Dad - if you're reading this, pick Mum up off the floor!)

I read about this on Joanna's blog, who had seen it on Lorraine's blog,
who'd read about it on Floss' blog,
who'd seen the original post by
A Thrifty Mrs. And Blog-Land is teeming with others setting about an autumnal-pre-Advent tidying even without having signed up to the De-Clutter, so I'm sure it's contagious - LovelyGrey has even been sorting her knicker drawer!

Basically, over the course of 30 days you find three things a day to get rid of.
These items can be sold, donated, given to friends or recycled, but by the end of the 30 
days they must have, like Elvis, left the building.

I began the day before yesterday with a de-clutter of the drawers of the sideboard in the dining room...

...and then the little two drawer chest that sits on the landing.

Mostly these drawers contained tablecloths, napkins, pillowcases and guest towels, so it was pretty hard to find anything to eject.  

From my Mum's selection of pretty guest towels originally.  Tiny, tiny cross-stitch!

This tablecloth always used to grace the table for birthday parties when I was a child.  Patched and stained it may be, but it evokes such happy memories, I can't part with it!

This one reminds me of when I lived in Richmond close to Kew Gardens.  We could see the Pagoda from the back bedroom and the bathroom.

After neatly re-piling all the lovely linens back in the drawers I did manage to find a pair of wooden ducks and a little coaster that I have no use for, so that was my first three items, all heading to the charity shop.

Yesterday, I completely emptied the airing cupboard and began a massive sort out of what had lain within. 

I found a seriously nasty pair of curtains with no vintage charm whatsoever to get rid of (is that one item or two?) and a navy blue box-pleated single bed valance to send to the charity shop, a pillowcase that had both lost its partner and been indelibly marked when the eldest of the brood had his wisdom teeth out (bin for that then, so doesn't count) and two duvet covers, one of which can be sent to the charity shop and the other which has already been recycled into about forty dusters, so that was the day's tally achieved.

But the best bit of the De-Clutter so far has been the re-organisation that it encouraged.  Normally the airing cupboard is jammed full of stuff, but it's devilishly hard to find what you require.  

So today I set about making 'bedding bundles'.  Each bundle comprises bottom sheet, top sheet or duvet cover and pillowcases (2 for single bundles, 4 for double).  Some of the 'sets' are mismatches as (being a bit of a bed linen magpie) I do have lots of embroidered pillowcases and sheets that don't 'go' with anything else, but look nice combined with other bits.

Then I used gift-wrapping ribbon to ensure my bundles stay together and are easily identified.

One bit of ribbon for single bundles, two bits of ribbon for double, three for King-size, and two of different colours for twin.  

I'll put a drawing pin in the back of the door for the ribbon of sets that are in use, otherwise the system will fail within a matter of months!

The pretty blue flowers are on a beautiful vide-grenier find from last year, an enormous heavy linen sheet.

My airing cupboard now looks like one belonging to a bit of a control freak, but I am deeply satisfied!

Today the onslaught continued with the nightmare cupboards in the corners of the kitchen and utility room, which contained mostly baking tins, bowls and cooking paraphernalia.

Hmm!  I think there are more tins than I am ever likely to need here...

Ditching tins that have lost their loose-bottoms got rid of some bulk into the recycling bin, then a weeding of duplicates, near duplicates and never used items (charity shop bound), plus a Juicing machine, mandolin and pasty maker that I'll try to pass on to other people meant that one cupboard is now empty, and everything for baking is now in one place.  I definitely exceeded the tally today, but I'm not hanging onto things for the sake of keeping in line with 3-a-day!

Heading for new homes...

This is tidy - honest!

Anyway, I'll try to spare you from too many posts about the 
de-cluttering process,  even though I am sure to continue to be very enthusiastic about it!  Who knows I might even have a neat knicker drawer soon...

Birthday Bash and Family News

On Sunday, family and friends gathered for a spot of tea to celebrate Miss U-t-B's 15th 

How the years have flown...




I had a jolly nice time planning and baking, mixing and spreading, boiling and brewing for the guests.

I love an excuse to get out a bit of old china, some pretty linen and a bit of EPNS!

Mr U-t-B does not appreciate my 'Grey Dawn' china, though he can just about cope with the more decorative set beneath...

The biggest disappointment in the baking were the tiny meringues (though actually almost everything I made went wrong in some way or another...) They were meant to be candy-striped, having carefully painted stripes of red food colour inside the piping bag.  I think maybe you need to use gel colour instead for this to work properly, though the meringues did have a pinkish hue, which was quite pretty if not the effect intended.

These sandwiches (whilst looking a little lacking in the colour department thanks to the fact that I merrily chopped every last stalk of parsley, before remembering that a little garnish would be useful) were the savoury hit of the day. 

(Parsley butter between two slices of bread, then chopped chicken breast, mayonnaise and lemon juice mixed and spread on top, capped with a third slice of bread - decrusted and cut into fingers.  Guaranteed to please!)

There were, of course, Iced Gems and Party Rings.  
I believe it is the law that these should be served at any birthday party.

This dumpy little teapot caused a major drama after everyone had left, in that its lid had mysteriously disappeared.  

I spent a ridiculous amount of time searching for it, including three searches through the (fortunately small) contents of the bin, hunts in the fridge and freezer and frantic forays into every kitchen cupboard.  I gave up in the end (it doesn't pour very well anyway, I consoled myself), then it turned up the next day, hiding neatly underneath a stainless steel spoon rest on the draining board!

Did you spot my lovely sandwich wraps?  

I've had them for years but finally remembered to put them into use.  Miss U-t-B had requested cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon and cream cheese always go down well, and I put the egg and roasted red pepper into the 'Cheese' wrap.  I was ironing them after a wash today and found that the Salmon one, in spite of looking pristinely clean, oozed a strong aroma of tinned salmon!

A lovely time was had by all (I think).  
But our family celebrations have been a bit more 
all-encompassing in the last seven days.  First, Mr U-t-B's son announced his engagement to the lovely Mags and then grandchild number two put in an appearance in the form of a scan picture, courtesy of the eldest of the three girls!  
Looks like 2012 will be a busy year!