Saturday, 29 March 2008

Stile Demonstration

My daughter and I took Hooli for a walk this afternoon......

And now for the weather......

Crafty me

Look what I made! It's just made out of a piece of typing paper, but I surprised myself that it actually worked. It's a design for a paper lampshade that I stumbled across on the internet and I thought I'd give it a try.

Here's the link to the website. This one is actually supposed to be a kids' project, but this adult thought it was great fun to do. I may even go one step further and get some nice paper and make the lampshade. I'm thinking it would be quite nice with cutouts if you used a dark shade of paper.
**Idea*** Need a vase? Just make one of these to fit around an old glass jar, using your favourite shade or pattern of paper.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Growing my Own

The weather today was absolutely gorgeous, and so I took advantage of the warm sunshine to go outside and start working on my vegetable patch. I had already transferred the strawberry plants from one end of the patch to the other, so I dug up any strays that I missed last time and moved them to the new strawberry area.

I decided to divide the big patch up into three smaller patches, with pathways in between, so I laid some posts down as markers and allocated these areas:

The strawberry area is 4 feet by 7 feet, with a small patch of asparagus at the top. These are all perennials, which self propagate and come back year after year, so it's just a question of keeping them tidy.

I've decided to try companion planting, so I've allocated a 4 ft by 3 ft area for brassicas (cabbage and broccoli) with celery, oregano and thyme to deter cabbage white butterflies. I will also plant salad greens in between to keep the area productive until the brassicas get going. This will be the first area I plant. The four green shoots you can see are bits of an onion that I had which was past eating, and had shooted. I broke it up into four separate bulb, but the two at the front have no roots, so I don't know how they'll do, or even whether each of them will grow into a big onion.(?)

I've allocated the area at the back for something that's known as 3 sisters: corn, beans and squash. You plant the corn indoors and when it's ready to transplant, you put it outside and plant a couple of beans at the base of each corn. Meanwhile, you start of your squash plant in pots indoors. The corn grows, and the beans grow up the corn. Then you plant the squash at the base of each of these, and that covers the ground. It sounds brilliant, in theory.

Here's a picture of the tools I used this afternoon. The hook like tool is the best weeder I've ever used. I got it at a National Trust shop, but I've just checked their website and couldn't find it. I hope they haven't stopped stocking them, because it's a really good gadget.

I'll post regular updates as the vegetable patch gets planted and grows. There are two more smaller patches (4 ft by 8 ft) that I've never planted in before. I'm planning to get them started this year.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

West End Musical

I've just realised that I haven't written anything for a few days. I must have been having fun.

I was!

Yesterday I went into London to see Spamalot with one of my daughters, my son and his girlfriend. After much humming and hawing, decided to go in by train, and chose to leave from Milton Keynes and head into Euston, since that's on the Northern Line and only 4 stations away from Leicester Square. I got a surprise when I was told that there was a special deal available and for four of us to travel together into London, we would only need to pay for two tickets and get the other two free. Brilliant! I love a bargain.

We left the house at 4.35 pm and were sitting down to Eat at Garfunkels in Charing Cross Road by 6 pm. Before we went I did some checking on the internet to see what reviews the restaurant had received, and they seemed to be half good and half bad. We definitely caught them on a good day. The service was fast and efficient, the food was really good, and overall we were comfortable. We had a table by the window, and could see the world walking by. My daughter and I shared a grill platter for two, which was huge and loaded with enough food for four people. My son and his girlfriend each ordered their choice of pizza (which were very thin and, they said, delicious) with a side order of garlic bread for my son and french fries for his girlfriend. We all got a salad from the salad bar, which was half price if you ordered it with your main course. The salad bar was so varied, it could have been a meal in itself. The only problem was that we had so much food the table wasn't big enough to hold it all, and we were busy transferring stuff from plates so that we could pile them up, and using the window ledge as a spare plate holding surface. So overall, I would give the restaurant very high marks.

However, the loo (or rest room) is another matter. In the ladies' room, the light was broken in one loo, and there was no paper in the other. However, it was reasonably clean, if a bit shabby. My son said the men's loo was no better, with an air of neglect and messiness and a broken towel roll (no hand air dryer like in the ladies' room).

Spamalot was very funny, and also very silly. We had a great time and I would recommend it to anyone, but especially to Monty Python fans. Well worth making the journey into London for. Spotted in row G seat 16 was Christopher Parker, who used to play Spencer Moon in EastEnders.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Happy Easter

No, that isn't dandruff that Hooli's sporting, it's snow!

This was the scene I woke up to this morning! Lovely. Half an hour after taking this picture it all melted, which is just as well, since I didn't want to be snowed in. My cousin and his wife were coming on one of the very few trains that was actually running from London. They arrived, we had a lovely day visiting at my mother's house. My brother came with his family, and we had our annual Easter Egg Fight (no we don't chuck raw eggs at each other, we try to smash each other's hard boiled eggs). Last year we won, this year, they did.

Today I realised that in all the years I've spent in England (off and on, a total of 19) I've woken up to find it snowed overnight on Christmas Day once, and on Easter Day twice. So at the moment, Easter is in the lead.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Not All Black and White

Do you see grey areas between the squares? Where could they be coming from?

I got a bargain, I suppose....

I had to get a few things from the nearest town, and I took my camera with me. This is the price on display in the petrol station there. I guess I got a bargain yesterday!

Painful Petrol Prices

I filled my car yesterday. The tank was almost completely empty, and I filled it to the top. It took 45.3 litres (12 US Gallons/10 UK Gallons) and at price of £1.079 per litre, it cost me £48.94 (US$97.04). That's equivalent to $8.09 per US Gallon or £4.89 per UK Gallon.

A full tank will take me approximately 350 miles, so my cost per mile (fuel only) is now about 14p (or about 28 US Cents). That doesn't take into account other running costs such as insurance, road tax, parking charges and maintenance.

It's scary, and it hurts. Ouch!

Yesterday I mowed the lawn

Well actually, I've just looked at the clock and realised that it's 1 a.m., so strictly speaking I mowed the lawn the day before yesterday. It was quite cold, but the sun peeked out long enough to warm the mower so that it started when I pulled the cord. It was amazingly long in spots, and when I'd finished the back lawn I felt like taking a break. But the sun had gone behind clouds and I was afraid that if I took a break and the mower got cold I wouldn't be able to start it again. So I went straight on to mowing the front lawn.

You may wonder why I'm mowing the lawn when we've had a snow forecast for Easter. The reason is that the grass was quite long, and my daughter was coming home and bringing Hooli (the Australian Shepherd) with her. I was worried that if Hooli went out into the garden and did a poop in the long grass, we'd never be able to find it. So you see there's method to my madness.

About 30 seconds after I finished it started to rain, or rather sleet!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Moving Circles

A friend sent this to me in an email. This is just a picture, and it isn't animated. Click to enlarge and see what happens.

The movement is actually an optical illusion. I think it's really cool.

Slapstick Moment

I just had a slapstick moment. I was making a mug of tea for my son. He likes his tea seriously strong, so when I think the brew might be strong enough, I add the sugar and milk and then check out the colour before removing the teabag from his mug. Just as I was doing this, the doorbell rang and I jumped out of my skin. The teabag, which was perched on a teaspoon about six inches above the full mug of tea, did a swan dive back into the mug and about a third of the contents splashed out and messed up everything within splashing distance. Kettle, counter, storage jars, my coffee mug, the cupboard beneath the counter, the floor, and of course little old me!

Monday, 17 March 2008

Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring have started to appear everywhere. But we have been warned that a big chill with possible snow is on its way for Easter.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Earth Hour 2008

Turn on your sound and click to see the WWF Earth Hour Video

On March 29, 2008, WWF is asking all of us to support Earth Hour 2008 by turning off our lights for one hour at 8 pm local time. The whole idea began in Sydney, Australia, on March 31 last year, when the entire city went dark for one hour. The idea spread, and one by one cities around the world held their own Earth Hour during the following months.

This year WWF is organising a worldwide one-day Earth Hour Event. To find out more, and to join in, go to, and maybe together we can make a difference.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Prizes in, prizes out

Today I received my OWOH prize from Pamela Rice at quilts n more.
Even the back of the postcard is fabric. I love it. I'm trying to decide whether to lean it casually on my mantlepiece, or whether to put it in a clear frame so that both sides show. Thank you so much Pamela.
Also this afternoon I drew the names for my 100th Post Giveaway and the winner is PEA. It's all packed and ready to go, so I'll mail it as soon as I have an address.
It's been a pretty horrible day weatherwise here today, with gale force winds and rain. We've had three electricity cuts, and one was for more than 3 hours. It was starting to get so cold in the house I thought I might have to build a log fire in the fireplace! It's back on again for now, so hopefully it'll manage to stay on.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Hooli at Crufts Dog Show

Hooli was manning a stand at Crufts yesterday. He was on the Discover Australian Shepherds stand. I asked my daughter to supply more information, and this is what she wrote:

Hooli took part in Discover Dogs, which is basically an exhibit within Crufts. There is a breed stand for every breed recognised by the Kennel Club. Each breed stand contains information on the breed, and breeders/owners and dogs so that the public can meet the breeds and talk to owners about what it is like to own that particular breed. It is important that the dogs are confident and friendly because they are cuddled, kissed and photographed all day.

Hooli was on the breed stand for Saturday afternoon from 1pm to 5:30pm, which is probably one of the busiest times at the show. He took it in his stride and behaved impeccably. He was friendly, outgoing and gentle with children who came and literally threw themselves at him. He performed lots of tricks, the favourite of the crowd was holding a biscuit in his teeth until I said to eat it.

Hooli was a particularly good example because he has a tail, unlike most aussies. But because of the docking ban, most puppies that will be bought in the future will have tails, so people who are considering the breed really got a chance to see what their potential future puppy might look like. The docking ban came in last year, and so more and more aussies with tails are now popping up, but they are still fairly rare in the show ring. No aussies being imported from other countries can be shown if they were docked after the docking ban came into effect in the UK, which will have implications for exhibitors coming over from the States and Europe, of which there are more and more since the Pet Passport Scheme expanded to include the US. Let me know if you need any more info! Or go to

Isn't he gorgeous!

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Funny kids, Mothering Sunday and Coffee Mugs

Last Sunday was Mothering Sunday, or Mothers day, in the UK, and my kids all came home bearing cards and gifts. Here are a couple of coffee mugs they gave me...

Hmm....I wonder if I should be reviewing my parenting skills.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

100th post giveaway

This is blog post 96, and I've decided to do a 100th post giveaway. This is what I'll be giving away:

A small bunny toy and Easter table confetti, and three fair trade items. The fair trade items are handmade paper notelets with three herb designs (2 of each), a beaten metal giraffe design keyring, and an embroidered picture frame.

Anyone can enter. Just leave a comment on this post, and then mention the giveaway and put a link on your blog. That's all. Because of the Easter theme, I'll be drawing the name of the winner on Monday afternoon, so that I can get it into the post that day. Good luck.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Snow at last!

I woke up this morning, rolled up the blind, and this is what I saw. Finally, some snow.

It didn't last though, and by 9.30 am it was all gone! But it was fun while it lasted.