Sunday, 28 February 2016

Reluctant Gardener

It's February. I'm sitting in my cosy front room and feeling nostalgic about getting out into the garden. 

A small Robin watching us from the cherry tree while we plant peas and beans. 

I would definitely describe myself as a reluctant gardener. I am not an outdoorsy type, but after a day in the garden, doing whatever it is I've had to do, I come into the house, sunburnt and needing a pee, and I'm in the bathroom thinking to myself “Yes! I could be at one with nature, I could live in a tree and off the land” then I pass my bedroom and see my lovely possessions and my thinking instantly changes to “I WANT STUFF”. 

I used to watch Geoff Hamilton on Gardener's World when I was little, although I never planted a seed he always inspired me to *want* to garden (which is more than anyone else had ever done!), but it was on TV at night, and by the morning the want to garden had long since passed. I was devastated when he died in 1996, I was 15, and paid no interest to gardens until 2009. Keeping supermarket Basil and Oregano alive for over a year (plus the thought of scary chemical companies owning our seed supply) inspired me to actually plant something! Tomatoes, from Real Seeds in Wales. They are organic, mostly traditional breeds, nonGM/GMO, non hybrids (which means crops will grow from seeds you've saved yourself, and you won’t need to buy more, like we've been doing for thousands of years), and everything I've had from them has been wonderful.  

Eating your own grown Tomatoes (well, anything home grown) is a joyous thing. I can’t eat shop tomatoes now, it’s disgusting but all I can taste from shop tomatoes is sweat, God alone knows what’s been put into them for that to happen!
I've already tried Purple Ukraine (Not the prettiest tomato in the world, but I’d wager the tastiest!), Red Zebra, Green Zebra, Galina Yellow Cherry (which is a beautiful glassy bright yellow!), White cherry (a lovely creamy white colour) and Orange Banana.

 Purple Ukraine tomato. 

This year I'm trying another type from RealSeeds, along with some other tasty, non sweaty tasting, shop plum ones that I saved the seed from using RS’s instructions.

I've also grown my own gherkins, which 3 years ago I pickled with super cute tiny Cucamelons (the only year I've had any success (about 20) with them). 2 years ago was a bit of a disaster for my gherkins,. I planted a few types of cukes and gherkins, I got a lot of leaves and yellow flowers, but only 1 and a half grew to a size I could pick.

I've become more confident with “harvesting” the unsavoury, shrivelled up and rotten veggies, with the hopes (I can't claim it's knowledge) the plant will produce more, when I first started I would hang onto the poor shrivelled thing hoping it’ll get bigger, and probably bollocksed the plant’s chances of fruiting, I reminded myself of Peter Griffin when he kept feeding the obviously dead goldfish!

7 years ago I wouldn't go near dirt, now I'm a bit of a garden ho!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

My attempt at machine Embroidery ...

Before Christmas I wanted to do a project, that for me was REALLY SCARY. It’d be my first proper venture into 3d mixed media, that I was going to do all by my little lonesome… I was inspired by Kirsty’s Homemade Britain to do machine embroidery. It looked easy enough. (I’ve used the decorative stitches for decoration before, but not actual machine embroidery.) I needed to sew around some leaves. I was just using the normal sewing foot, and so had no control over following lines. It was a lot of very hard mental work for very poor results.
First attempt  pretty disasterous! 

Eventually I found a plastic embroidery foot. I was quite pleased with the result (though the needle did keep sewing into the foot and not the material… foot now dotted with dents), but it wasn’t working for the leaves by the edge of the material. GRRR.

So I searched the internet for videos on actually HOW to machine embroidery. My mum (and mentor for most things crafty) is a pactical sewer (Halloween costumes, bags, repairs, etc) and so neither of us had an idea how to begin.  Youtube helped me a lot.
Esp this one:

(their website, is great, too)

All the videos, even if they used different techniques, all removed the grippy foot/path/plate thing (between the machine base and needle) under the foot that you clamp down. So there they are in their videos, smuggly* pressing a button and *puuff* the grippy thing disappeared!
Neither of the house machines have the fancy pantsy button you press to make the grippy thing disappear. We hunted for the button, nare a button to be found.
On my mum’s machine it has to be UNSCREWED before it can be removed and it’s hidden under a plate that also has to be unscrewed :-S If it was just a matter of pushing it and out it slid, it would be annoying, but not a problem, but this was a major operation! Unscrewing and screwing up anything in a confined space is tricky.

4 screws removed later, I gave it a bash, bareing in mind I had no foot (having been chewed through by needle!) I had NO CONTROL WHATSOEVER. and a gutted sewing machine. >_<

So I ended up with another ruined holly leaf, and I’d marmalized my mum’s machine.

I had a massive panic attack! And screwed everything back, put the machine away, and ordered an embroidery foot, a proper one, like the one on Kirsty’s Homemade Britain!, made of metal, that will fight back if the needle comes for it!

So everything was put on hold for a week while I ordered, waited for, and worked out how to attatch the embroider foot.

I got mine from these.
They sent it very quick (the rest of the time was spent overcoming anxiety about the operation that would follow)

I had another go on mum’s machine with the new embroider foot. I got some good results. But I felt so bad about taking over her machine and that I kind of ended up destroying my mum’s machine. She does SO MUCH sewing on it, that it was’t fair that I commandered it for my silly whim! When she said that she stopped using the other one because the thing making the grippy foot move had broken (this is an old machine, an original 70’s Singer inside a table, and the corkscrew part that moved the grippy foot is made of PLASTIC, which perished and broke off) I jumped at the chance of using that,  the very thing I DON’T need to work on a machine!! … 

Guilt over!.
I managed a LITTLE bit of sewing, but when I changed the thread it began to play up, bunch up the thread, and mangle the material. Now, I don’t really see the fuss about Singer machines, the ones my mum has had have always been temperamental. And I always found sewing a very STRESSFUL thing to do. It seemed if you breathed at the wrong time it would mess up. A couple of years ago mum got a Toyota Jeans machine (Out of desperation, when yet another Singer failed her and because it was in our budget)
It’s a BEAST and I have easily doubled the amount of sewing I’ve done since getting the Toyota. I want one of my own!

I had never machine embroidered before. It was enjoyable, but as it turned out it wasn’t going to be right for what I wanted anyway. (I ended up glitter glueing around them!)

*they weren’t actually smug, they were very helpful posting their machine embroidery videos, I’m just bitter and jealous that I don’t have access to such a machine.

PS. This is what I made! 

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Somewhere here is a table!

So, some day I plan to make and fill a craft blog of the things I've made. only a slight snafoo... I don't seem to finish anything, even the things that look finished need varnishing, or a lining or a handle... I think it's cos I spend such a long time PLANNING what the finished item is going to look like, and gathering the things I need, that by the time I get 70% through it, I'm bored of it!! Even my new year's resolution was merely to be able to see the finish line before starting a new thing (I've mostly failed and even taken on more things to not finish!!) 
I haven't blogged for so long BECAUSE I'm trying to finish things. but then another thing comes along! 

So my room/studio currently looks like Mr Trebus' house (google him! Mr Trebus A Life Of Grime. He's kind of my mentor :-b) and I'm PANICKING about the mess of the place (I forgot... collections for my ever expanding list of projects is spreading into other rooms now too) as well as panicking about getting not enough done. 

A small sample of what I'm "working on" 
5 bags (different styles - then more in same styles if they work out) 
ideas for my disastrously empty etsy shop
Angels (traditional, gothic, steampunk and nature inspired) from mistreated inherited fashion dolls. 
4 different complex Christmas decorations 
fixing up 2 broken Bratz dolls 
something for all the acrylic eyes that I went mad and bought in the start of the summer (20+ pairs, different sizes) 
3 note book covers (that I decided to make after seeing one thing that I realllllllly liked on one for £100) 
a Halloween book (yep, for THIS year!! I'm about 88% done on it. lol) 
and my project lovingly titled THE MISSION. 
It's not that any of it is particularly difficult or would take a long time, it's more that I just can't settle.

Perhaps this is the cause of my problem?? This tidy specimen is my crafting table. When it was clear I got a remarkably huge amount of stuff done! 

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Miro "Angel Si Ti"

I've listened to/watched this waaaaaay too much lately. so much so I can almost speak Bulgarian!

he's not at all my type, but he's really quite gorgeous too!! 

I know this isn't an exact translation of THIS video because the verse he sings in English is completely different to the verse in the same place in the translation. Maybe it is correct for the totally Bulgarian version?

Know Your Onions!!

All throughout the summer whenever I glanced out the garden, I thought my neighbour had 2 gorgeous fluffy fat birdies sitting on her fence, then I'd realise it as some kind of blown onion flower. :-(

Monday, 13 September 2010

Beach Huts.

I always had a romanticised idea about beach huts. I thought they were quite small and directly on the beach. 
THEN looking at Whitstable I spotted THESE, all piled up in rows, some sooooo far from the beach!, a beach hut metropolis! WTF?

I love the YoVille app, and wanted a beach house when they were released earlier this year, but didn't want to part with the £4 or so needed to buy the yocash to buy the house. so I converted a 5000 yocoins trailer into it. 

I was very proud of my "Beach hut", but not 100% happy, cos in my mind it didn't look ANYTHING like a beach hut. 
or did it??!?!?!! :-) 

I also have one on my myspace YV account too :-) 

Thursday, 9 September 2010

RIP Big Brother

I have been meaning to write this for a long time now, but now it comes to it, I don't know how to put what I feel into words, and I don't quite know what to say.

I have tried many times over the years to write how much I LOVE BIG BROTHER, and have never been able to finish it. one of the many things I wrote was "Reality TV is junk food for the brain. Yea, there is that adaptation from a classic novel on the other channel, which is the mental culinary equivalent of a 5 course meal, but you want some junk. Big Brother however is the best and most interesting of the "reality" tvs. It is the tv equivalent of hugely expensive, high quality "hand cooked from the finest potatoes with the best flavouring ingredients" crisps that come in a thick packet which gives an aurally pleasing rattle, whereas the rest are nearer those 10p corn and bits of husk "cheeze" flavour puff things. which are so full of artificial colours you probably come out in a rash after eating them..." and that was about as far as I got. I exhausted myself thinking of the junk food analogy!

I have watched Big Brother since series 2. I'll always regret not watching series 1 and CBB1. I judged it as shallow without even watching it, and I am ashamed to say that now. When I started college and people said they watched BB1 I actually thought "Oh, how common". I judged the show in the same way cynical media sorts judge it now. Every year when, a few weeks before the start, the eye flashes up during the adverts, and I start to get excited about its return, those 3 words come back to haunt me! Every year I used to tell myself "I'm not going to bother watching (as much) this year", and every year I get completely hooked. BB7 I decided not to kid myself that I wasn't going to watch, and save time by getting completely addicted straight away!

I LOVE BIG BROTHER. More than I ever thought possible to love any tv show! but, disappointingly, not for the "shallow fame hungry people" side of it. I've realised I nerdily watch it for the analysing and psychology angle, then for the gossipy bitchy side! Yes I'm a nerd! I'll happily admit that! I learned so much from the 2 psychology series (“Big Brother's Big Brain” and “Big Brother On The Couch”) that ran with it a few series back. I didn't realise I liked psychology before then!

People are SO RUDE about the programme. They claim it's not real and just cast with people who want to be famous for the sake of being famous, and the people watching it are idiots who are entertained by ANYTHING. That isn't true. (and if it was, what is the harm with that???) They are the same people who BELIEVE soaps reflect real life!! Soaps aren't real, but if you're mean about them, folks act like you've killed a puppy in front of them! Soaps are merely a group of people saying someone else's words, feeling someone else's feelings, and reacting how someone else has told them how to react. There is nothing real about that whatsoever! Yes, the BB set-up is fake, and sometimes house mates are told what to do, say, dress, etc. in tasks, but in quiet moments, Big Brother is beautiful. Different people from different cultures, classes, and walks of life, living and communicating, in a way that, well isn't found in "real life", but letting their REAL thoughts and feelings show. These precious moments tell us no one is better than anyone else, the well educated are no smarter than the poorly educated, they just know different things.
Because to a certain degree, they HAVE to get along, people who would normally hate each other, find a common ground. I love how there is a whole world of relationships in the house, and the most unlikely friendships and love pairings are created. I love how you go from loving some people at the start to intensely disliking them by the time they leave, and vice versa. You see beautiful sides of people you would normally dislike or judge, you see ugly sides of the types of people you would normally ally yourself with.
You see regional and cultural differences and similarities and realise they don't matter! the PERSON inside is the most important factor. I have learnt a lot about people that in real life I would avoid like the fcking plague, that underneath their horrible public persona they're actually really nice people... or at least bearable! I have learned to love some very strange, or just plain weird people who turn out to be lovely.
Because you're "stuck with them for 3 months", you force yourself to get to know them. And that can only ever be a good thing!

Who would ever have thought a quiet, pretty glamour model, who loads of people called "Plastic" and "Fake" would be so sweet and have such acid wit?? or a gobby wind-up merchant could have such a gentle and kind side?? or a whiny tantrum throwing "brat" could be so charming and loving?? or that "The beautiful people", the gorgeous gorgeous ("fake") people with amazing figures have worse emotional issues than us ordinaries?? (and THAT'S why they spend so much time making themselves look perfect). If we hadn't been "forced" to spend our summer with them, NO ONE would have thought it!!
When filled with people like this, Big Brother is an asset, yes an ASSET, to society. For those viewers who take it on board and grow and become a better, more understanding, compassionate person from it, it's the greatest programme ever!

I have never watched Big Brother for the "hot guys", although I could see some of them were nice to look at Stuart BB9 was the FIRST (straight) house mate I thought was good looking! He's a nice guy, but I decided he's only eye candy. I have fancied only ONE hm... and Big Brother saved him until last!

It's compulsively watchable, like eaves dropping bus stop conversations.

For me Summer is Big Bro, and Big Bro is Summer!
So long old friend, gonna miss you!