Thursday, 30 April 2020

We are all in the same storm, not the same boat ....

Hi all,

In a previous post as we were all trying to process the Covid-19 storm that enveloped us, I put some of my thoughts to paper in this post.  I said we are all in the same boat, I have now come to realise that we are in the same storm, but in our own boats, trying to weather it best that we can.

We are now on day 38 of lockdown, longer for those of us who have been self isolating before that.

It is a strange storm we find ourselves in & it is an adjustment between the pressure to ‘use your time well’ or to rest & realign; to just find the way through it all with some sense of sanity.

Some are self isolating on their own, with pressing financial & family needs - with pressures to home educated & to juggle many things.

Some are living in fear of domestic violence & new reports hint at teen violence towards parents who are trying to enforce lockdown at home - very frightening & isolating.

Some are loving the isolation, others are social beings who hate being alone - all of these scenarios are valid, none are right, they are all forms of the crisis we are living through.

I love the inspirational words of Edgar A Guests ‘Don’t Quit"

I am unused to having so much free time on my hands without any form of commitment.

I have spent my entire life in education & I love the feeling of achievement it brings,  the feeling that what I am doing is worthwhile. Too many of us women would just be lost in the mundaneness of doing house work. That does not feed my soul; I like the feeling of achievement, to be appreciated for what I bring to the table & to know that I make a difference, to be appreciated.

This is the same for many working women where we have a sense of self that is built entirely on our own efforts,  without reference to our marital status or home situation. This feeds our soul - even if it is an ordinary occupation, it is something that completes us, especially once our children fly the nest & they have their own lives to live; we have to complete our world so that they are free to explore their own world.

This is how it is for me - I know that I am a really good teacher / tutor & I have made a difference in my work & it is largely appreciated.  I love how excited my students are to see me & to share their news. I love how parents make room in their homes for me to work & how they make sure I have a hot cuppa on a cold day & an iced drink in Summer.  I love how they openly include me in their lives ...

I also have many hobbies & skills that I love doing so I am using some of my time to do that.

So my boat is different to your boat,  I am a self employed, now unemployed person who does not know when they are going back to work. There is uncertainty in my storm even if it is not in the same boat as you - the storm is rocking us all.

Life is as it is, not as we wish it to be. We cannot do the things that we want to do, but we can do the things that we need to do.  How are you all coping with life under lockdown? Look after your friends, check up on each other & take care of each other - even the strong ones.

Thank you for stopping by, I look forward to your company & comments, 

Dee ~💕~

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Our Easter at home ....

Happy Easter everyone

We might be separated by distance but we are together in each others hearts & thoughts.

 A simple table for just two of us - a bit of blue & white which is a change for us - my great grandparents always look down on us at mealtimes, a connection to those who have gone before. I think I would have liked them very much ...

I decided to put up the white tree that I use for various occasions - all these decorations were in my Easter box in the garage, all used in previous years. 
 The dining room sideboard has my two  lady statue / busts & they often wear headdresses to match various decorations. I only had 1 bunny headdress - no chance to get any Easter things but you know what, it is just fine to enjoy what we have already.

Blue chargers & white plates (the blue chargers are usually used for small pancakes) and an Easter tea towel with blue patterns became a table runner. The two rabbits hopped through from the conservatory for our lunch ...
 This was the only Easter thing I bought - an Italian cake that is similar to panettone but with a lemon centre - quite tasty ...
Even though we are in lockdown, we are allowed 1 walk a day near the home. This is our local lake & it is a pretty walk with the swans & coots nesting. I also saw the two terrapins for the first time today. The banks of daffodils are quite spectacular ... life is good when you appreciate the simple things. 
Our parish church always puts up two crosses on the road running through our suburb & this year, members of the same family did it (observing social distancing rules) and it always feels like Easter when the familiar observances appear. 

However you celebrate Easter, may it be a peaceful & blessed time.

Thank you for stopping by, I look forward to your company & comments, take care

Dee ~💕~

Friday, 10 April 2020

Easter blessings in challenging times

We find ourselves in very different times this Easter & in some ways, it has made us more appreciative of the frailty of life & an awareness that the world can change dramatically & very quickly.

We are at home with our daughters several hours north & south of us so instead of doing Easter baking with the Godsons & a family lunch, it will be a quiet time with just the two of us.

This post has some previous Easter blogs from my home

However, we are all healthy, self isolating & keeping busy & positive & for us, that is enough this Easter.   Easter marks the end of Lent & when we gathered with the Godsons & cousin at Shrove Tuesday for a meal & to make pancakes together, we were not to imagine that Covid-19 was stalking us so closely.

So this Easter, give thanks in a quiet moment at home or in nature - thanks for blessings received & those we still hope for.

Our sideboard has had favourite Easter things out on it for a while, but it will not be the family & friends gathering;

However, the favourite things are still out for us to enjoy, the lovely running hares by John Atkinson of Bell Pottery in Oxfordshire are setting the colour theme with their gorgeous earthy tones.

The two little little bunnies were bought in Graaff Reinet in the Cape, South Africa. I carried them back in my hand luggage - they are so sweet.

These are from Dunelm Mill shops, bought locally. They are the perfect size for a piece of cake

The girls bought me this from the talented Marguerite Beneke    , a contemporary kiln fired glass artist in Aberdeen in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. I have several pieces of her stunning work.

The large, heavy metallic bunny sculpture was a birthday gift & it gives nod to my love of my house bunnies who shared our space.

My collection of crosses from Ethiopia that I personally selected & bought are a strong reminder of my faith - private & interesting ...

Have a blessed Easter, sincere wishes from our home to yours,

Thank you for stopping by, I look forward to your company & comments, take care

Dee ~💕~

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Polenta / Mamaliga bread

I sincerely hope everyone is coping with self isolation  / lockdown in their own particular way. There is no right way but we are all in the same boat, facing similar challenges but in our own unique circumstances.

My good friend Liane shared this recipe as we both love Polenta, a sort of corn meal.

Ingredients for 1 small loaf

75g or 2/3 cup of self-raising flour
7.5ml or 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
75g or 3/4 cup of cornmeal / polenta
2.5ml or 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
150 ml or 2/3 cup milk
25g or 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
1/2 tsp mustard powder (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Place the self raising flour, salt, baking powder & cornmeal in a large mixing bowl. Mix then make a well in the centre.

Add the egg, milk & cheddar cheese & mix it to a batter. Cook soon after making so the raising agent is still effective as the cornmeal is heavier.

Pour the mixture in to a greased 15cm round or a small loaf tin. Bake at 200C for 20-25 min until well risen, golden & firm to the touch.

Cool briefly, cut in to thick slices and serve it warm with butter

It was utterly delicious, I put a bit more cheese in but the result was so tasty, definitely something to make again. The next day, I had some for lunch with homemade mackerel pate as we had a peppered mackerel fillet leftover from supper.

Flake the cooked mackerel to small pieces, add enough cream cheese to taste (I used about 100g), a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice & salt & pepper to taste - that is all to turn it in to a delicious pate that I used on the polenta bread.

Thank you for stopping by, I look forward to your company & comments, tell me if you make it too, 

Dee ~💕~

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Sewing some book sleeves

Hi all,

I am still in sewing mode while self isolating. Youngest daughter Stacy often carries reference books around with her in her bag & finds they get dog eared & so she asked me to make her some book sleeves.

She sourced this gorgeous fabric & I matched up some contrasting lining fabric - I absolutely love the colours & the marbling effect of the colours. I choose these lining fabrics that complement it.

I will run through the method I used to make it & I hope I will inspire some others to make them too.

I used:
- Cotton fabric & lining fabric
- sewing machine
- scissors
- batting for padding
- iron
- pins
- tape measure or book for sizing

I measured a common sized book that many of us would carry around. I added about 2 cm all round for the hems. Mine was about 20cm by 24 cm high - adjust for your own book.

Cut 2x each of the outer fabric, lining fabric & batting (6 pieces)

 Place the batting first, then the other fabric on top, right side up, then the lining fabric, wrong side up

Batting, outer fabric (right side up), lining fabric (wrong side up)

Ready for sewing the top of the bag - pin so it stays together

Pin the top edges through all 3 pieces ready for sewing. Sew the three layers together then open up.

Do the same with both lots of 3.  Open them up & iron the seam flat & towards the lining side.

Place the two sets on top of each other, matching the same fabrics, right side together.

NOTE the two yellow pins on the bottom of the pinned fabric - this will be left open to turn the finished bag through.

 Sew from the one yellow pin all the way around to the other, leaving the gap between the two pins.

Snip off the extra fabric on the corners then put your hand in the gap & pull it through the right way,  gently push out the corners to neaten them.

Pulling it through the gap left at the bottom. Press the seams then stitch the gap closed, either by hand or just a straight machine stitch. This will not be seen as it will be inside the book sleeve, at the bottom.

Push your lining in to your book sleeve. I like a row of top stitching to neaten the edge & keep it all in place so stitch all the way around the top, neaten the threads.

Complete - a padded book sleeve.

The process as a quick review ...

The process for quick reference

Two book bags with different lining fabric - one turquoise, one blue

A blue lining fabric ....

I still have some more of this lovely fabric & contrasting lining choices so I will be making Stacy some additional sizes & hopefully will be able to post them to her once our self isolation ends.

I hope this has inspired you to make one too for all those books you carry around. I am going to make a customised one with a pocket for a pen & bits to carry my travel diaries in on my trips .... I will keep you updated when I do.

Thank you for stopping by, I look forward to your company & comments, tell me if you make them, 

Dee ~💕~

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Sewing a fabric face mask

Hi everyone,

In these crazy Covid-19 lockdown times, I think we have to focus on what we can do to control our own behaviour. We are entering the third week of self isolation / lockdown at home.

I am loving being able to just mooch around catching up on various things. My sewing machine has taken up residence on the conservatory table because there is no chance of visitors & it is handy for the projects I have not completed.

However, I am aware of the conflicting advice re the wearing of fabric masks but I thought I would feel a lot happier if I had 2 at home for hubby & I incase we have to go out & wanted to feel we were doing everything to protect ourselves.

I read the NBC News advice on which fabrics work better than others  so I feel that I am doing it well.

The best masks were constructed of two layers of heavyweight "quilters cotton" with a thread count of at least 180, and had thicker and tighter weave.

If the fabric allows for a substantial amount of light to shine through, it's probably going to allow tiny viral particles through, as well.  Wash masks regularly, with regular detergent and in regular washing machine cycles.

The advice on a Vogue article on wearing of masks looks at the pros & cons of wearing masks. 

In essence, masks are created primarily to protect not the wearer, but those around them, absorbing the micro droplets expelled when coughing, sneezing, or even speaking. “There is some extra protection for the wearer, but it is imperfect. It’s good to think about wearing a mask as protecting your community and asking your community to do the same for you,” added Howard.

There are also some concerns that masks could create a false sense of security, whereby wearers scale back on important preventative measures such as hand-washing and distancing, though there don’t seem to be specific studies on this. 

I found this easy version with a good video to make it very user friendly - it is important to select the fabric carefully  following the advice above. I fortunately have a good stash of fabrics. I made a paper template the right size - 9x6 inches, then cut 3 pieces of fabric for each - a front, middle, back & two pieces of elastic about 8 inches in length.  I like paper templates as they make it much easier to cut out fabrics.

I decided on pink (for me) and a paisley (for hubby) with the sort of woven quilted fabric for the middle & a woven cotton for the back ...

Line the fabrics up per the video - the middle fabric, then the front fabric right way up on top of that, then the last fabric wrong side up on top. Pin the elastic between the outside fabric & the front fabric.

As you can see, I pinned the elastics wrong - the loop has to be to the inside, luckily I noticed as I am really short of elastic - take note of that when you pin yours, because once it is sewn & turned right side out, it will be to the outside ....

Start sewing at the one side just at the bottom elastic, reversing over the elastic to strengthen it, then sew all the way around, returning to the same side & finishing at the elastic (reversing again) as the opening will allow for it to be turned right way out.

I snipped the corners to get rid of the bulk before turning the mask through ...

Mine are a little bulky with the woven inner fabric but this is how they look with the opening still visible between the two elastics on the right.

Fold it over twice to make two pleats across the mask, pin it in place & then sew through the pleats & close the opening.

My pink one being completed.

The pleats hold it in place then open up across the face so it covers the nose & mouth

This is how it looks when the pleats open up to give the size needed to protect the nose & mouth

I am rather pleased with my efforts - there were a few snags - pinning the elastics wrong, the middle fabric being a bit bulky which made sewing the pleats tricky. However, I am pleased with the efforts & the video is useful to refer to while sewing

Since doing this earlier in the week, I have noted that the US Government are encouraging people to wear masks in public & several Medical practises in the UK have asked the public to make masks such as these to donate to hospitals etc so I feel that I made the right decision to plan ahead for us.

Stay safe everyone, your health & that of the vulnerable is in your hands so make good decisions & stay home.

Thank you for stopping by, I look forward to your company & comments, tell me if you make them, 

Dee ~💕~