Sunday, 28 February 2016

Feeling My Age

Another 10,000 plus steps (over 4 miles) walked today bringing this week's total steps up to over 55,000 and around 23 miles walked. I'm not doing the 1000 miles in a year challenge as such but I'd probably be on target if I was. 

Mind you, all this walking has started to affect my dodgy hip and the little bit of arthritis in my back has been making itself felt over the past couple of days. I haven't needed to go to the chiropractor since before Xmas but I think I might book a session this week and get myself manipulated and massaged back into shape. It really does make a difference and is well worth £38 every 6 weeks or so to be practically pain free and mobile. The cost of getting older, I suppose.

Poor DS1 has started a week's holiday from work with a nasty cold and upset stomach. He's been in bed most of today with an awful stomach ache that was only eased once he was sick this evening. Hopefully he'll feel better in a day or so as he has a couple of outings planned with a friend.

DS2 and his band have been in the studio this weekend recording an EP of their own compositions. DH and myself and another parent have donated some funds towards the hiring of the studio, artwork for the cd and promotion etc. They also have another gig booked towards the end of next month and there's the next leg of the Battle of the Bands competition in April. 

I made a bean and nut roast for tonight's dinner intending to do a full roast, but with DS1 ill and DS2 out for the day, I decided to save it for tomorrow and DH and I treated ourselves to a late breakfast at Wetherspoons as our main meal. Apart from that I've just eaten fruit, cereal and crispbreads this afternoon and evening. 

Tomorrow is my light eating day before Tuesday's weigh-in, so it will mostly be fruit, yoghurt, homemade veg soup and crispbreads for me. I tend to have 3 days a week eating whatever I want, 3 days being a bit more careful and then a really light day before weigh in. So far, by hook or crook, this has resulted in my weight remaining exactly the same for the past month or so, just around my goal weight. Unfortunately though I do tend to overdo the rubbish food on the days I eat what I want. I need to work on eating more healthily all the time and just having occasional treats instead of binge-eating some days and trying to compensate for it on others. 

Right, I think that's enough of me rabbiting on. Hope you've all had a good weekend. Love Helen x

Saturday, 27 February 2016

The Finished Article

It took me longer than anticipated to finish DH's cardigan, mainly because I didn't work on it for almost a week. DH was on half term last week and we spent a lot of time out of the house walking. We notched up over 66,000 steps, nearly 28 miles according to the FitBit app on my phone. But this week, with DH back at work, I've been on a mission to get it done and here is the man himself modelling it.

I used a little more than 7 balls of yarn at 99p a ball, so the cost of the yarn was about £7.50, but then I needed 6 large buttons and finding the right size and colour meant I spent another £4.50 at my local wool shop. £12 still isn't a bad price for a lovely, thick man's cardi. DH is really pleased with it, and once the weather gets a bit warmer he'll be able to wear it out instead of a jacket. 

I can't say I particularly enjoyed knitting with such thick yarn and large needles; I found it unwieldy and it made my wrists ache and so I could only knit for short periods of time, but at least it grew quickly. I finished one front and a sleeve in a single day, knitting a little on and off throughout the day. Sewing up was a bit of a challenge too with the thickness of the yarn. I'm still intending to make a couple of cardis or a cardi and jumper for myself with the two other colours of yarn I bought. With a jumper I won't even need to add the cost of buttons. 

My new washing machine has been working just fine and seems to be getting things cleaner than the old one, so it was probably not washing properly for some time before it finally gave up the ghost. I love the 28 minute everyday quick wash, and have even used the 14 minute wash one evening to refresh DS1's work clothes. I haven't needed to use the dryer functions yet. As I always do, I paid the monthly credit card bill in full today, so the machine didn't cost any extra in interest and I earned a little bit of cashback by purchasing from Curry's through Quidco.

Not much more to tell. We've been for a walk again today, another 10,000 plus steps, it's been dry but there was a bitter wind along the seafront.

Here's hoping you're having a great weekend.

Love Helen x

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Washing Machine, Pies and Daffs

I waited in all yesterday afternoon waiting for my new washer-dryer to arrive. Delivery should have been between 1-5pm. It finally turned up at 6.30. Today I've been getting used to the controls and catching up on 10 days worth of laundry. I've done 3 dark loads that were in the downstairs basket, but still have at least 2 light loads to do, plus DS2 has a basket full in his bedroom. I also need to change all the bedding. The boys' beds haven't been changed for at least 3 weeks. I was going to wash their sheets the day the machine broke down so I must do them this week. 

I haven't tried the dryer functions yet as it's been a really cold day here (hailstones and a biting wind while we were out this morning) and I've hung the wet clothes over the radiators that were on anyway. The washing part of the machine seems to work well and the 28 minute, 30 degree everyday quick wash has been sufficient to get the clothes nice and clean. If I was in a real rush I could do a superfast 14 minute wash. 

The machine is pretty ugly, white with a large grey door as it has a bigger opening than my previous machine, but I've never bothered about looks in household appliances as long as they function well and I'm just so happy to have a working machine that seems to do a good job. All in all, so far so good.

My other recent purchase has been a pie making machine...and I didn't pay a penny for it. DH had some Amazon vouchers he hadn't spent and said I could use them to get something for the house, so I treated myself. I love cooking and I do love kitchen gadgets so I bought a Salter deep fill pie maker. 

And this is what I made for dinner today...lovely, lovely corned beef hash pies. 

The machine bakes 2 pies at a time in 12-15 minutes, so to make 4 it took about the same time as if I'd baked them in the oven. But they came out so well and are definitely some of the best pies I've ever made, plus I didn't have to heat the whole oven just ot make a few pies. I actually got 7 pies from 2 sheets of ready-rolled Aldi pastry (89p a pack) that I rolled out a little bigger (one shortcrust for the bases and 1 puff for the tops), one tin of Fray Bentos corned beef (£1.39 in FarmFoods), a pack of Aldi frozen mash (59p), a fried onion 10p), some black pepper and a teaspoon of mixed herbs. As the bottoms took more pastry than the tops the last pie was made entirely from the extra puff pastry but came out just as well as the others. We had a pie each for dinner tonight, just with mushy peas for me, with extra mash and frozen peas for the DH and the boys...and with plenty of thick gravy, of course. The 3 extra pies with do the menfolk for lunch tomorrow. I shall enjoy experimenting with my new toy since you're supposed to be able to make quiches, and even cakes and muffins in it.

Now for a confession. In order to make room for the new washing machine to be wheeled down our narrow hallway we had to move a tall thin bookcase that's tucked in a corner near the foot of the stairs. Moving the bookcase meant unloading piles of my crafting books and magazines and stacking them on the dining table. This is the result... hoard of knitting, cross stitching and cardmaking mags and books. 

At least...some of my hoard. 

I have another 2 bookcases likewise filled with magazines and books. And another 2 filled with cardmaking and papercrafting supplies. And that's not all...there's also all the plastic storage boxes and bags stuffed full of wool, fabric and other needlecraft necessities. 

Do I hear the word hoarder on anyone's lips? I really, really need to have a declutter. I have started, sorting out a couple of dozen mags and a couple of books before I refilled that bookcase. Now I just need to tackle all the others.

Finally, more flowers. This is the result of that 50p pot of mini daffs I bought a couple of weeks ago. Despite Shadow knocking them on to the floor twice, they grew to a not so mini height; they should have been about 10 inches, but they just kept getting taller and the stems must have ended up double that. 

They've died off now, but have been replaced by these daffs, a gift from my slimming club leader.

She's been sick for several weeks after badly breaking her ankle and she bought all the members a bunch of daffs as a thank you to us all for keeping the club going in her absence. 

That's all for tonight. Enjoy your evening. Love, Helen xx

Friday, 12 February 2016

Wool Bargains and Valentine's Flowers

I have absolutely no will least when it comes to special offer emails for craft supplies. 

With bulging bags and storage boxes full of wool cluttering up the sitting room and our bedroom, did I really need more wool? 

Apparently I did. I received an email from Kemps online wool shop offering Sirdar Denim Ultra Chunky wool for 99p a ball. This is a good quality yarn with cotton content and I couldn't believe the price. Since 6-7 balls would knit a cardigan for me and 8-9 would make one for DH I decided to go ahead and order some. Since there was free delivery for orders over £25 I ended up buying 9 balls each of 3 colours, 27 balls in all, plenty enough to make a couple of cardigans for me and one for DH, with enough remaining for a couple of hats/hoods. 

I bought these 3 patterns for £9.75 from Ebay, so have spent approx £37 but will easily get 3 adult cardigans and a couple of hats for the cost.

I have already started knitting the man's cardigan for DH in this colour and being Ultra Chunky it uses thick needles.

I've never knitted with yarn this thick before or with such big needles and have found it a bit hard to get used to. I generally knit quite quickly, but have to take it a bit slower with this and I can only knit a few rows at a time before my wrists start to ache, but to compensate the work does grow very quickly.

I'd knitted this far in about an hour yesterday and by tonight I'm well past the armhole shaping and will have the back done, and hopefully one of the fronts started, tomorrow. The back is in reverse stocking stitch, the sleeves in regular stocking stitch and the front in reverse SS with a cable panel.

Now, you'd think I had plenty to knit with 3 patterns and so much wool, but of course I had to go in to the Hospice charity shop this morning and what did they have on the crafting shelf but 6 balls of pale pink Sirdar Snowflake Chunky for £5. I know I have patterns for this in some of my Love Knitting For Baby magazines, so it made it's way into my shopping bag, and has been added to my stash for the time being.

 And talking of knitting for is my latest finished project.

It was made with 3 for 2 baby wool from Poundland, costing £2 for the wool and £1.55 for a set of 5 buttons from my local wool shop. As I don't have any babies to give it to, and it's a preemie 16 in chest size, I will probably donate it to charity. I love knitting baby clothes; they are so cute and quick to finish.

Of course, I still haven't finished the blanket I posted a while back. I have probably knitted enough length of border to go all around it, but I just haven't felt like pinning and sewing it all in place.

In other news, DS2 got the job with English Heritage at Dover Castle and starts with a training period in March. It has some grand title, but basically he'll be looking after visitors. It's a 20 hour contract on basic wage, but there will probably be lots of overtime during the summer  months. Although it's a permanent contract, after the 6 month probationary period it becomes one of those zero hours contracts, so there are no guarenteed hours during the winter months. However, it's the first paying job he's had since graduating last summer so hopefully it will lead to better things in the future.

I have a new washer-dryer arriving tomorrow. My old washing machine has been acting up for some time, but hanging on in there. It finally gave up the ghost at the end of last week and despite DH tinkering with it and getting it going for a little while its packed up again. I've had it for at least 5 years and its done good service with 6-7 people to wash for at one time, and probably at least 2 loads of laundry a day. It was a replacement for a previous one on a maintenance contract so I haven't actually purchased a new one for about 8 years. I decided to buy a washer-dryer this time as I so often need to turn on the heating and hang clothes over the radiators to dry during the winter that it seemed just as economical to run a dryer for a short while than to heat the whole house just to dry the laundry. The one I've decided on has an 8kg load, a 28 minute fast wash, a superfast 14 minute wash and a 1400 spin speed. I'm hoping that it will spin things dry enough that I won't need to use the dryer all that often and I will, of course, as usual, be drying everything without additional heat (and electricity) as much as I possibly can. It's sad of me, but I'm dying to have a play with it, and I might also be excited about it arriving because the laundry has been piling up during the week despite me doing bits and pieces in the sink.

Finally, I get to the Valentine's flowers. DH conspired with DS2 to buy these for me. 

DH ordered them from the floristry department at Canterbury College and asked DS to go and collect them this afternoon as DH was working and they don't deliver and aren't open over the weekend. I love them, and really like that they aren't the usual red roses. Nice to know he can still be romantic after 37 years together (32 of them married).

Sorry for such a long post; I had a lot of catching up to do. Have a good evening everyone. Love, Helen xx