Category: Animals

Finishing Projects (by )

Ok so sometimes we have problems finishing projects, sometimes we have problems starting the projects we've got the bits for/need to be done. This has been a combo of things including house moves, sickness, changes of work or work regimes and of course the dreaded ADHD.

So to combat this I used to set myself weekly and mounthly goals but it had kind of stopped working so it was time to find a new way. And that way was a Finish Projects Month - I had done these before for writing and drawings but normally they focus on one or two main projects and what we wanted was something to get our A into G on all the small almost finished stuff.

Well my aim was to end up with one finished project a day, Al's was to mainly get the niggling DIY stuff sorted.

We failed but as always with these challenges it is not really a fail. So Alaric has done much metal work and drilling. Preparing our house for structured cabling and server housing in the workshop. These count as two projects that are now much much further a head than they would have been and they need doing URGENTLY. To make our lives easier with DIY he made a contraption so that he could carry part of the compressor into the house but leave the noisy bit in the workshop. That is one FINISHED PROJECT.

So:

1) Compressor mount and pipe carrier = FINISHED

2) Server case = getting there

3) Structured cabling = getting there

Jean now has a bit of trunking for her room and is very excited about the whole process. We also had to sort out craft areas and workshop etc... to make this work well.

4) Attic organised and craft's sorted = FINISHED (though still boxes of paper work to go through)

5) Workshop = one end SORTED

Then there was some paper work/bank bits which we will count as

6)

7)

On top of that we now have a nice rodent proof feed storage box for the chickens which needs to be put in place but is in the garden. This will allow me to sort out the shed and to shore it up a bit more so we can get a bit more life out of it :/ We also dealt with the flooring in the chicken run, which is now all nice though next time I need to dig down further and put gravel in but we are getting there with it!

8) Fed Bin = GOT

9) Chicken Run Flooring = SORTED

We also uped the exercise stuff, so Alaric is doing his runs and though I am not running I will be as soon as we can get me some shoes and me and Jeany are going climbing together once a week.

10) Climbing and running = OWNED!

Writing wise I've been being a bit lame and only managed to finish one flash fiction - which I remember coming up with the concept for in 2007 in Costa's in Cheltenham during the whole flood debacle. I'd typed the intro of it onto Magenta Monster in 2010 combining it with a story starter I'd picked up off of twitter - which had sparked the idea back to life :/ It is at least now finished!

11) Story The Tragedy of Love = FINISHED!!!

Oh and this prompted a bit of a blog clean up/updating session.

12) Blog sorting = SORTED

I made the girls dig out all their library books and we took them back and did all the niggly bits of shopping for the house (ie not just food).

13) Household admin/maintain = GOOD (never ever gets completely sorted EVER)

This then leads on to crafts and the like - so basically I was like arg!!! I have a crate of half finished kids craft project and like 3 of me craft project - this needs to be sorted NOW!!!

For a start there was the sock I had attempted for Al - it has it's problems but it is a nice sock, but fits Jean, has wholes in it and more importantly there is just one of it as I started in in what 2013? And did most of it and it had just been sitting there almost finished for the whole of last year - attic became a no go zone with building works a happening. Basically I've forgotten what I did so there is little hope of knitting another. But it is finished and now a base for something else - Jeany wants to turn it into a new purse/wallet for Alaric.

14) Al's Sock = Done by awaiting full incarnation

Having taken up crotchet and attempting to desperately learn the different stitches at the beginning of the year, I had ended up with lots of half finished squares - I now have 15 finished squares (still need to thread the ends away). They will either be flannels or squares for blankets depending on how square and what size they have come up!).

15) 15 crotchet squares = almost done

I'd sorted out all the knitting and sewing into project bundles and found I had some random pieces that I had no clue about. Fortunately whilst I was finishing off something else I remembered what one of them was, found the pattern, found my place in the pattern once more and finished it off - sadly it is only one side of a duck but I will be knitting the other half shortly - I needed the white wool to finish knitting Mary's Elsa dolly. This was supposed to be her main Christmas present :/ I still need to make some shoes and she needs sewing up and stuffing but I think she is getting there!

16) Duck toy = so not done yet but progress made!

17) Elsa Dolly = all knitted but sewing up, stuffing, hair and face needed

Alaric managed to finish two creeper faces on stuff I'd knitted ages ago.

18) Creeper faces = half done

However I have been creating more work for him in this area - I finally sewed together and stuffed the baby creeper plushy that I knitted for Jean ages ago - it was another stuck due to roof fix project! I should have gone with instinct and used foam except I hate foam so it has wadding in.

19) Baby Creeper sans face = OWNED!!!!

I wanted to finish Mary's fairy outfit that I have crotchet in giant chunky wool but it took me all month to get to the shop to pick up the last ball I need to finish the second shoe!

20) Fairy outfit = not done but materials got

And though I started them during the month there are also crotchet Easter Eggs - six of them 2 giants and 4 little ones. Jean wants more but as that is for the weekend I think she maybe whistling!

21) Giant Crotchet Easter Eggs = DONE

22) Mini Crotchet Easter Eggs = Done

There are also the epic Easter Egg Spoons we made at the weekend and the planter/seed markers.

23) Ester Egg Garden Ornament Spoons = FINISHED

24) Painted knife seed markers = FINISHED

And one dug over bed and allotment tidying (I have many other beds to dig), I also potted up half the seeds I want to grow in pots and fixed the sumps on the wormeries which I'd needed to do for a while.

25) Wormery sorting = DONE

26) Allotment = BEGUN!!!

27) Seeds = STARTED

Within this there was stuff like plant pots that had been painted by me as a teen and never used and grass heads that had been made and never used etc... so it was a job well done I think.

We also had Mother's Day Cake making with the girls which I'm counting as a finished project 🙂

28) Mushroom butterfly cake = BAKED and EATEN

And that leads on nicely to the girls... Jean has made bead eggs, finished off lots of the exercise books she has and been colouring in the felt pictures she had. Mary has been painting plant pots and making books, bits that had been pulled down/never gone up yet in their room have been sorted and THE GREAT CLOTHS SORT and some buying of the new happened. They finished Easter mobiles and we've put up the chinese lanterns that Jean had half made before the flood and have been sitting at the bottom of a crate ever since. We also did crayon rubbings and eater cards for their egg hunt.

29) Bead Eggs = FINISHED

30) Mary's Easter book about Elsa a.k.a birthday pressy for Al = ALmost there

31) Easter Mobiles = FINISHED (except that there is a chick missing but hopefully it will turn up at some point!)

There is still plenty left for them to do as there are half coloured in Easter bags and papier mache eggs and so on and obviously some of this is new kits they got for the Easter Hols. Of course Jean did the huge candle make which over lapped the beginning of this month and was quiet frankly EPIC!!!

32) Easter kids projects = in progress

33) Candle Making = DONE, FINISHED, EPIC NOOODLES!!!!

Alaric also set up opportunistic SMTP encryption for the server cluster, and renewed our self-signed SSL certs - which is for email stuff so I am hoping my email will once again be usable which it hasn't been :/

34) Emails = sorted (hopefully)

I also finished sewing together 2 bags knitted out of fluffy and in one case sparkly wool. One of these I started BEFORE I started going out with Alaric and it was supposed to be a shoulder wrap but I couldn't knit so it was lumpy and bumpy and I ran out of wool and tried to use the same type but different colours and... it works much better as a bag and can now (finally) be sent to the person it is for!

35) Fluffy rainbow record bag = COMPLETED

36) Purple fluffy purse/bag = COMPLETED

Oh and I finished Alaric's new scarf which I did on day one and Alaric has proudly been wearing it for most of the month 🙂

37) Accidental West Ham Scarf = HAMMERED

Ok so maybe that isn't so much of a fail as I had thought! And I now know exactly how many project there are which always helps 🙂

I also drew a portrait of Sir Terry Pratchett and think I now have most of my note books sorted.

38) Drawing of Terry Pratchett = sadly done

Within March I also organised and ran workshops on: mothers day card making, kids comedy night including slapstick and improv, Easter egg hunts including life sized Alaric Bunny - for which I had to make a tail!

Plus a writing meet.

39) Giant Bunny Tail = OWNED

And I almost forgot that Jeany made soaps! And asked for and earnt herself £10 worth of more soap making supplies (the original kit being from a couple of birthdays ago).

40) Jean's Soaps = LOVELY

Eeep! There's more! At the beginning of March it was Downes Syndrome Awareness Day and Mary's pre-school had an event celebrating one of the little ones with them and requested an odd sock day. So I made a mooky - a sock monster like I used to make with nan and uncle (for those of you who met me after I was married Benny was Downes and died a couple of months after our wedding), it seemed appropriate to me, though I've had to explain to several people who were concerned that I was making an "odd monster" for the awareness day. Basically I made a cuddle toy for Mary out of odd socks.

41) Mooky for Moo the Mooky = DONEDID

Ooo also we settled in the new chickens 🙂

42) Chickens!!!! = settled and laying

So what of this coming month April?

I'm doing two writing challenges - one is Camp Nanowrimo which is linked to the novel writing madness I do in November. Script Frenzy is no more so I am doing it for Camp but always I am working on my comic books which are based in my Punk Universe. But also in general I will be catching up on all things comic related stuff including the pending blog posts and stuff about the Wiggly Pets, but obviously main focus is getting the 100 page script written.

The second is NaPoWriMo which is a Poem a Day writing challenge and will be the thrid one for this year - I tend to go with the "I am going to spend 30 hrs on poetry this month" approach which as I am running workshops at the wonderful Poetry Festival as well, should not be a hard one to complete 🙂

Better get one with some of the work I suppose!

Tangling it All: Make, Bake, Create (by )

Chillies on the window sill close up

It's March and as I am not a hardy gardener, March is the beginning of my growing year. Which means that we have been along to the allotment and I've (yes me!!!) dug a bed over and harvested a load of leeks and so on but mainly I've been potting seeds up and transferring things into bigger pots with the two girls.

Jean and Mary potting up

They both love this - but Mary most of all - I took over the dinning table for three days and she spent hours each day filling plant pots for me 🙂

Mary taking care that she gets the soil in the plant pot Really? Mummy you want me to play with the mud? Mary in dispair over gardening Mary looking into the plant pot Mary filling the pots with compost

She also loves watering them all, as does Jean so I have to be careful not to end up with little "floods". Mary also thinks that watering can is a musical instrument - she is not wrong and I am glad I don't use it for any fertalisers or anything!

(photo)

This weekend was heavy on the garden stuff - I sorted out the chicken run so that we could use the old flooring as stuff to dig into the allotment. This is quiet heavy work and I also have to sort out the wormeries and see how much compost I have ready to go in them. The answer was several bucket loads! I also had to fix two of the sumps which is a bit ick as they are by nescesity under all the liquid that settles at the bottom of the wormeries. This stuff is basically liquid plant food which is why I collect it and my tones of tomatoes last year proves that it works!

Chillies on the window sill

And though I now have new funky plant pots on the window sill in the dining area I also have various pots that have been painted either by me or the girls. This for me is an interesting cross over of the craft and the gardening. I even have two that I painted back when I was a Ranger (top section of Guiding).

Space invaders plant pot

Painted plant pot Squid Side Painted plant pot jelly fish side Painted plant pot Turtle side

That was not the only craft cross over either - I'm having a finishing projects month and though not a project that was already started - I have had this idea for ages (years) so we went ahead and did it 🙂

Knife herb markers

We made plant or seed markers out of knives by dipping them into metal paint we have left over from Alaric making his ladder. We also did some spoons to make Easter Eggs for plant pots decorations and the garden.

Knife markers in place

Alaric and Jean set up a drying rack by using an old kitchen tidy and a length of metal and clamps. Clingfilm was placed beneath to catch drips.

Alaric and Jean setting up the drying rack

He then showed Jean how to dip the spoons.

Jean being shown how to coat the spoons in metal paint

She then had a go and was very careful and patient.

Jean dipping the spoons in the metal paint

She did all the spoons and knives and Mary helped Daddy find the right size dog clips to pin them all up to the drying rack.

Jean carefully painting the spoons

The paint is supposed to be touch dry in an hour but it was on quiet thickly so we left it over night.

Painted Spoons drying

The next day we took sharpies and took to decorating the spoons as easter eggs and the knives as seed markers (ok so I did all the knives but we all did the eggs including Alaric and Mary).

Decorated spoons drying

I'm not sure how well this will work and this first lot are going out without varnish, the sharpie pics we did on the chair at the allotment have faded but that maybe due to the under laying paint flaking - we will see - it's an EXPERIMENT!!!! mwhahahahahahahaha

Jean decorating the spoons with Sharpies

Jean spent ages on decorating her ones.

Painted knife seed markers

I am very very happy with the seed markers 🙂

Close up of painted seed markers made of knives

Infact we are going to have to do a couple more batches as I have a lot more stuff planned for the growing!

Close up 2 of painted knife seed markers

I coloured the inside of my Easter Egg spoon with a chick - Mary decided she had to do one too and demanded the colours "ellow, norange and black" and then with a stroke of genius announced that the back of her chick needed to be fluffy yellow as it was already crick crack hatched!

Easter Chick spoon garden ornaments

Well I was impressed - I was equally impressed by Jean's sheep and tree 🙂

Insides of the spoons

I love these Easter Egg Spoons 🙂

Easter Egg Spoon garden ornaments

I don't think you can tell which one of us did which egg to be honest 🙂

Close up of Easter Spoons

The only issue is that you can't let them touch each other or various plastics as they stick.

Close up 2 of Easter Spoons

Mary is most pleased with her flower pot 🙂

Easter Spoon pot decorations

And it is great fun to mix the crafts in with the gardening, things like bird scariers and wind chimes are fun to make and practical too. But this weekend kind of had the cake and the icing and the eating 🙂 For a start CHICKENS that lay stoopid numbers of eggs which always equals cake but second...

Dairy, Gluten, Soy, meat free curry made with home grown veg

I grubbed up some potatoes that I've been growing in the big bags we used to move with three years ago. This is the third year of potatoes in the garden. They are lovely new tatties so small and firm and Alaric being the whizz that was whipped them up into a gorgous curry that was dairy, gluten and soya free and found naan breads I could eat too! There were even star anises in the top 🙂

Purple Chillie

And this? This is my purple chilli 🙂

Purple Chillie close up

I basically grew the chilli plants from seed all the way through the winter and autumn and I had chillies in Feb! And as promised by the packet they are all different colours 🙂

I am so excited about this, I have never managed them from seed before!

Basically this weekend we managed to do gardening, craft and cooking and the boundaries between them were blurred and in truth there was DIY too which crossed over very nicely too 🙂

p.s. we also took Jean to two different sporting clubs and a sleep over.

Of Chickens and Candles and Holes (by )

This weekend has been absurdly busy, for a start I have finally been putting the attic back together after the whole roof fixing of last year! Then there were chickens! It was time to fetch our new rescue chooks - these ones are slightly less rescued than the previous lot as they came from a free range farm and so are a lot perkier than the first lot were initially. They also look better with already red combs and wattles.

Rescue chickens galore!

It was getting dark by the time we got back with them so photos are not brilliant I'm afraid. Felix who is one of the original four, is not impressed as she is in the rabbit run whilst they settle in.

Chickens exploring their new home

She was always quiet pecky so we shall have to see how introductions go!

We had planned on getting four hens but when we got there they had spares, so we ended up with 6. Their names are:

1) Squwashy - apparently this is something minecraft related that Jeany has picked.

2) Rose - named by Mary, she didn't give a reason

3) Chris - a chicken scheme programmer as picked by Alaric

4) Pete - another chicken scheme programmer

5) Tardis - this is my chicken 🙂

6) Firefly - this is my dad's chicken and apparently the most intellegent of all the dinosaurs.

They laid an egg on the way home and have since laid 3 more - we had fried eggs for dinner. The run looks so much better with chickens in it 🙂

1st egg from new batch of hens laid on the journey home!

The weekend also saw Alaric drilling holes in the walls.

Whole in the wall

Apparently I didn't want this part of the house! No he isn't just randomly destroying the house - he is network cabling so that we can have proper internet in all the rooms in the house etc...

Preparing for newtwork cabling!

Also the compressor was the best buy EVER! It now unsurprisingly has a hole saw attachment.

Alaric and the Nuematic hole saw

Last but certainly not least - Jeany has been wanting to do some more of her candle making for ages, in sorting the attic I discovered just how many candle ends we had accumulated - to be fair friends do post her candle ends to melt down.

Jean and Alaric making candles

This is her main craft activity that she does with Alaric, and it is also her little business which she started years ago now 🙂

Candles in the moulds

Infact the square moulds that came with the starter kit that... erm... started it all broke, so this is the last batch of square candles until she sells some candles and buys a square mould with the money.

It was a pretty epic weekend to be honest.

Cat Love :) (by )

Bead Heart

It was Valentines Day and the table was set for a lovely meal, the hoomins had all been working really hard on it, both the bigs and the small bigs or as Lithium liked to think of them... THE KITTENS.

The Kittens were fearsome lovely things and were fine as long as you made sure you only go strokes and NOT hugs. Kisses weren't too bad but there were a bit snotty and drooly in general so Lith felt they were best avoided.

Sparkly hearts

Sparkly hearts and beads and glitter had taken over the house the last few days and now there was a wonderful food smell wafting from the kitchen. Lithium's tummy rubbled - she was a very hungry cat.

She looked up at the table, it was all set out with place mats and candles and what not. It looked so lovely and the hoomins always brought the food to the table so it made sense that the place to be was on the table. The only problem was... Lithium was not allowed on the table. She walked around the table three times trying to decide what to do and then checking that the hoomins were all busy she hoped up onto a chair and then onto the table.

Waiting for my date

And... promptly settled down!

When the hoomins came in they stopped and stared at Lithium, normally they shouted and told her to get off the table but this time they oohed and ahhed and the biggest of the Little Bigs stroked her and scritched behind her ears.

Rrrrromantic

Lithium made sure she was right in the corner of the table - cats like corners, it was because it was very mathematical and cats like maths. She sat at a special angle cutting the corner into two triangles - it was lovely.

But she didn't remain that way for long, with everyone moving about the candle flame started to flutter, looking exactly like a small thing to be caught and if not eaten then chewed alot!

I am going to kill the shiny

Ears pricked to attention she prepared to leap and take down her foe!

But the light went off and a small big distracted her and explained that the candle was hot - she would have burnt her paw! Horrified Lithium reached out her paw to the Hoomins for inspection - just incase she had accidently burnt it anyway.

Hooomin!

The Littlest Little Big assured her it was ok, she even kissed her! Now Lithium was drooly and had to groom her fur clean by licking and licking, everyone knew that cat drool was hygienic unlike hoomin drool.

Then she settled down and with a bit of petting began to purr loudly.

Rom Cat

But after a while Lithium got bored, there was still lots of lovely cooking smells but where was the food?

Well I AM waiting Hoomin

She began to mew pathetically but all that happened was the Little Bigs stroked her which was all very nice but not what she had in mind! FOOOOOOD!!! Hoomins could be so silly sometimes!

Complaining meoawly she got them to put the light on again - it had nothing to do with the lost spoon and bad eyesight of one of the Bigs.

Very catmospheric now put a light on

It had been very Catmospheric with the lights out, Lithium had to agree and so they put the light out once more and they sat in the flickering candle lights.

Content as a purry thing

Finally the food showed up, Lithium's nose twitched and she sniffed at it but there was no meat 🙁

Poor Lithium had forgotten that the Biggest Big, the one that went all the way up to the sky, he only ate grass like things. Hoomins were so strange. Feeling disappointed she meaowed and licked his hand.

Long hearts

But the the Medium Big or was she the Smallest of Big Bigs? Got up from the table and went and got a special tasty from the fridge which she put on Lithiums fish shaped plate. Lithium jumped off the table and rubbed herself all round Mummy's Puss-Big Hoomins feet and then chowed down on the lovely yummy that had been put out for her.

It was a lovely Valentines Day for everyone.

(This story is part of The Wiggly Pet Collection)

Cheese and Soap and Skillz (by )

At the beginning of the year when we were setting down our New Year Resolutions, me and Alaric realised that we were still stuck with exactly the same stitches for kniting and crochet that we started with three years ago. All our projects have been variants on a theme.

We also wanted to move forward with the home stedding stuff, having added chickens and allotment since moving house. So here is my first cheese - it is a soft spreadable thing but I am very proud of it - I might also have accidently made a butter but that's cool too and is being used 🙂

Our first yogurt cheese formed into a pyramid

The other skill we've been meaning to try has been soap making and we thought this would tie in really well with the yarn craft side of things. So the easiest way of learning the stitches is to knit or crochet squares but I have to be making something or else it wont happen - I've never been good at practice - learning yes but practice no!

Anyway we are basically knitting and crocheting flannels or face/wash cloths to go with the soaps. Here is my first crochet attempt - I think it is double with single as the edging - it is lumpy and bumpy and miss shappen but I am so happy - of course it took me like a month to create.

double crochet flannel

This is the current one - a single crochet - lets hope I can remember how to carry on with it now Mum's gone home - I really struggled with the double when she wasn't about.

The beginnings of a single crochet flannel

I have also added on four different rag rug making techniques to the skillz I haz, recently, plus improvisational comedy and sketch writing so I am feeling quiet chuffed. I am also nerviously awaiting proof copies of a book which is more painful than I would have thought!

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