Wednesday, 31 October 2012

On, Off and On Again

Now it's well off a month since I gave you an update on my intermittent fasting progress. So here goes.  I'm going to admit, to not one but two acts of amazing stupidity in the process.

I think that it was during week three when I had a blood test showing that, not only was I menopausal but that my blood sugars were higher than the diabetes threshold.  There'd been a fast day previous to the test and when evening came I'd only used 400 of my 500 daily calorie allowance.  It was then that I reckoned that the balance could be made up by that glass of chilled white left in the fridge.  This was then followed the next morning by a breakfast of doughy white bread, an unhealthy little splurge that must have been too much for my body to cope with.

So, I was commanded to undergo another blood sugar test by our practice nurse.  Rather than doing the sensible thing and eating a balanced diet for a week I thought 'Bollocks!'  5:2 intermittent fasting ceased. Call me hedonistic,  reckless or just a proper 'nana:  Instead I commenced a seven day period of gluttony and excess comprising of sweet stuff and alcohol, just  in case those pleasures were barred to me by a diabetes diagnosis.  Unfortunately all the weight I'd lost was negated by this exercise.

Test day came and went.  Then yippee! The results were normal.  So back to a fasting regime but this time I've skewed the definition of a day.   My 500 calorie allowance begins at supper time one day.  Then I resume eating normally at the same meal the next day.  This is repeated twice weekly. And there's been no more wine making up part of the calorie count, just sensible healthy food and white tea.  Again the pounds aren't dropping off but with this regime where the periods of fasting are spread over two waking days, the hunger pangs are bearable.  With a little more exercise in the mix, I hoping that this secures a healthy, happy future and repairs the damage cause by my big blip!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Thrice Fried

I worked it out that, last week, I did seven and a half hours of voluntary work for the school PTA and the Scout Group.  That's on top of working a full-time week.  Hmm!  No wonder I don't have much time left over for crafting.  The situation might need reviewing in the New Year  Once organisations have got their claws into you there's an expectation that you'll help out more and more. I heard on the  grapevine that an old friend had to rein in her volunteering through stress. Maybe what clubs and societies should be focusing on is getting others involved to share the load.  Anyway, lets get Moaning Minnie out of my system and knock this mornings rant on the head.

A particularly strenuous evening shopping for the school disco left me feeling that the floor had been wiped with my fatigued body.  I decided not to cook but instead resort to the Chinese.  Salt and pepper squid, sweet and sour chicken and oodles of chips for me and Lou.   And jolly good it was too.  Not a vegetable aside the spuds in sight but it has to be done sometimes.  Of course, with eyes bigger than bellies there was stacks of food left over.  The chicken and squid sufficed for another rushed meal of unbalanced nutritional content the next day before I helped out at cubs but there was still a shedload of cold chips left over.  Don't they look appetising?  Believe me the visual appearance was nothing compared to their taste.  Something must happen to the starch when they cool down.  They were dee-sgusting!

I decided to experiment on the bin fodder rather than chucking it away immediately.  After all, I had nothing to lose.  So, based on the principle that Heston Blumenthal cooks his fries three times I decided to give mine an extra go in the pan.  Just shallow fried and tossed in a little sunflower oil, along with some cherry tomatoes.  I also warmed through the remainder of Sunday's chicken roast.

The result was lusher than I could have believed.  Crispy, crispy chips with a light fluffy middle and super moist garlic infused chicken.  Yum!  Just the excuse I need to 'go large' on my next  takeaway visit.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Felting: The Boot Camp of All Crafts

The clocks went back yesterday in the UK and I hope you all made the most of your extra hour.  I was awoken at the unseemly hour for a Sunday of 6:20 by bells. Louis was calling from Crete where he's on holiday with his dad and was keen to tell me that he'd met a nice cat!

So, home alone and wide awake I had a few hours of chilling in lieu of a lie in until I headed off to carry out today's planned activity.  For weeks now I've been looking forward to learning how to make felt at Seale Hayne with Rosy Tydeman.

Now before I met Rosy I thought that felt was used exclusively for making finger puppets and the like.  No, tell a lie, I've come across artisan made objects fabricated from the stuff but most seemed to come out of the realms of the socks and sandals brigade.  But Rosy's whimsical work with its vibrant colour palette opened my eyes to the potential for using this medium in highly imaginative ways. Like in the creation of this clock which depicts Rosy's husband who seems to have more than just a  hint of the Malcolm McClaren about him.

With the help of my friends Red Mel and Kanga, here's a guide to turning the fluffiest of unspun fleece into beautiful objects by the means of the wet felting technique.

Here's Kanga demonstrating layering tiny bits of teased out fluff into the desired shape, first horizontally and then vertically.The work is carried out on a bamboo mat covered with a sheet of bubble wrap.

Here's my own piece after I'd build up two layers.  Its so adorably fluffy that it seems a crying shame that its going to be squished.

Once a third layer has been added its time to start building a design.  Here's Red Mel's retro 60's statement piece......

.... the beginnings of Kanga's impressionist flower meadow....

.....and my funky fish.

Once the design is completed the work is sprayed with what seems like half a bath tub's worth of water and then pressed through yet another layer of bubble wrap.  Then the hard work begins. The piece of wannabe fabric is rubbed with circular motions for what seems like hours and hours until the fibres meld together.  They're then rolled in the bamboo mat like a bit bag sushi, rinsed in hot and cold water.  The result was....


....and these.  You see that extra object at the bottom.  Its all my own work.  Uncharacteristically I cracked on and made two things, the front of a fishy cushion and a little seamless pouch for my pens.  Not bad going for a girl who's crafting output has been rather woeful in 2012.

Red Mel used a different technique to make beads which she's going to turn into a bag charm after adding some sparkly gems.  Are you getting the idea now of how versatile this stuff is.

All that rubbing and rolling has left me feeling that I've had a super-duper workout.  It wasn't the relaxing craft that I was expecting.  Still all the exertion was worthwhile.  We're suckers for punishment and will be back for another of Rosy's boot camp sessions in the New Year.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

'A Child Could Do That!'

Now I reckon that the phrase that makes up today's title must be one of the most common uttered in  art galleries around the world.  It's the cry of the bemused lovers of traditional landscape or portraiture when confronted with more modernist forms of expression, swiftly followed by 'How much!!!!' if there's a price tag involved.  But get this. The latest picture, now proudly gracing the walls of Lovelygrey Cottage is a sublime piece of complex abstract blah, blah, blah! I truly love it for its  brooding complexity.  What story did the artist mean these eerie figures to tell?

'Oh that', said Louis when I discovered this treasure in his school bag.  'Did you know that's charcoal.  It's a load of rubbish!'  I beg to differ and now for the price of a £3.29 frame it's got pride of place on my wall.   With Christmas coming up parents out there may like to re-evaluate their own kid's art and see which pieces might make it as worthy objets d'art for those friends and family members who're more into Mondrian and Miro than Monet!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

What's Been Tickling Me

My job in older people's mental health exposes me to far more sad situations than people in a lot of other jobs will see in a month of Sundays.  But my lovely colleagues and I keep our peckers up with lots of laughter.  A giggle is cathartic, helping us to release some of the stress and tension that inevitably builds up.  I thought that today, I'd share yesterday's 'medicine' just in case there's anyone else out there who needs a bit  of a pick me up.  '50 Shades of Grey' as a comedic resource just goes on and on!


Friday, 26 October 2012

Penny Pinching Payday

Woo woo!, it's payday!  The traditional time of the month for a massive spending spree.  So, what could  I buy with that seemingly stonking amount of money that's burning a hole in my proverbial pocket that includes a little bit left over from the October pay packet.  Well, that extraordinarily dangerous shop, Seasalt,  just up the hill from work in Totnes and friend of  baristas everywhere,  has a jumper that I love  (I'll show you it here). Now that I've discovered the rich pickings in granny blankets on Ebay, I'm tempted to go mad there too.   Or a massage perhaps?  I've been hankering after one of those for a while now.

But hang on!  Since separation my finances have got a little more complicated and much less elastic.  The move from two salaried home with no monthly mortgage interest to one wage and rented accommodation has meant changes in my spending.  I'm okay but have to be way more careful.  So, I'll content myself with topping up the gas and buying food for the meal I'm cooking for a friend tonight.   And I'll remind myself that those new acquisitions might not seem so bright and shiny at the end of next month if it becomes impossible to balance the budget.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Alphabetical Tourist: Azerbaijan

Photo: Nick Taylor
I haven't ventured out on my tour around the world for some time now.  It's been so long that a country that might have been privy to my next virtual visit has been and gone.  That veritable source of information Wiki, showed Azawad as an unrecognised sovereign state for a brief  period before it got absorbed back into Mali again.   As its disappeared into the ether from a listings point of view, I have instead moved on to Azerbaijan for a brief look around to discover what floats my boat in this former Soviet State.

Seeing that vulcanology could be one of my preferred careers in my next life,  I'm rather drawn to these mud volcanoes, many of which are situated  a brief jaunt away from the capital Baku.  Azerbaijan has about 400 of these, over half the world's total and occasionally they'll shoot flames  into the sky.  Yikes, lets hope that they behave themselve as I go off exploring ths claggy landscape and get covered in  gloopy stuff which is supposed to have medicinal properties.

Photo: Azeri
Before I head off out of the Gobustan National Park, a World Heritage Site, where many of the volcanoes are situated I can't leave without showing you this gorgeous petroglyph, apparently one of many in the area, which dating back to 10,000 BC, give or take a bit of course.  I'd like to qualify this for the pedantic among you.  The site is believed to be one of the 'cradles of civilisation' and these dinky stickmen, their animals and boats were uncovered by quarrying activity in the 1930s.

Photo: Johntex
Whilst macho activities such as football, rugby and freestyle wrestling, the country's national sport are popular, ladies shouldn't feel at all left out. The Seven Beauties contest is where, armed with crochet hooks and different coloured threads, girls compete zealously to crochet the finest stockings in the shortest possible time. Yikes it's Miss World with needles!  Just the thing when women are itching for a little excitement in our lives!

Work: Rashad Alakbarov
And finally, here's the work of the man who lured me away from my cosy home in rural Devon to resume my Internet travels again.  I stumbled upon the work of native Azerbaijani, Rashad Alakbarov.  Be amazed at how this artist use translucent found objects to create amazing projected forms and I urge you to explore further following the link.  It beats my own shadow speciality, even if it is a  rather credible Alsation dog, hands down!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Like a Sausage or a Snake

Apologies to anyone with a squeamish disposition today, especially if you're eating.  Us hardened NHS clinicians sometimes forget that other out there are more lily livered souls out there who don't view bodily functions or infected wounds as  perfectly reasonable topics for meal time discussion.

In global terms the wonderful city of Bristol is just down the road from me, a mere hundred miles away.  This fine place has given us the SS Great Britain, Banksy, Wallace, Gromit, Methodism, Billy Butlins, sherry and glass and this, probably its finest invention. The Bristol Stool Scale' is a proper clinical tool, being used on hospital wards around the world as I type this ditty. Whilst it serves to measure gut motility it's also a masterpiece of comic genius.  I'm pleased to see that others share my puerile toilet humour as when I Googled it I found it depicted on T-shirts, mugs, a tie,  a dog coat and, most pleasingly of all, a cook's apron!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Eating My Greens

Today's culinary adventure is more an idea rather than a recipe.  I've craving green stuff at the moment and there's a rather majestic pointy cabbage and half a bag of curly kale in the fridge just ready to sate my lust.  But enough of that.  It's too early in the morning for mucky talk!

Here's what I did to a bag of Brussels sprouts the other night.  Not content with their perfect mini sphere-like, foldy form that I preserve in another favourite recipe, Saucy Sprouts,  I cruelly blitzed them in the food processor.  Then all they needed was  a light fry in a bit of olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.  These are yummy enough, maybe, even to convert the most avowed greens hater.

Monday, 22 October 2012

I Can See Clearly Now

I've been looking back through my previous posts which amount to nearly nine hundred in total.  It amazes me that I haven't been 'discovered' as a columnist by one of the quality newspapers yet. Ah well, in the absence of someone arriving at my door begging me to give up occupational therapy and write for their rag, I'll just keep plodding on here at lovely grey day.

What also surprised me, along with lack of recognition for my literary genius akin to that of Shakespeare and Dickens, was that I'd only briefly mentioned my SAD lamp once.  It's one of the bevy of things that I do to keep my depression in check alongside medication and self management techniques.  These have in the past included addressing issues around self esteem using an excellent set of workbooks by Melanie Fennell.  You can tell that's worked by the fact that there's not a hint of self effacement in what I've written above!

Anyway back to the lamp.  I haven't a clue whether it does anything to keep me perky and able to jest in a  big headed kind of way.  NICE, the National Institute of Excellence, say in their guidance on depression, that they aren't sure if it makes a difference either. What  I do know is that it is a bloody good source of  10,000 lux source of  light that keeps me happy by allowing me to read and sew with ease, in spite of failing eyesight.  Goodness knows how I used to manage to digest loads of Enid Blyton books under the bed covers armed just with a keyring torch.  I'm showing this model and is the exact same as the one I've got and is reasonably priced.  It might be of benefit to all those crafters out there for whom close work is a no-no as the nights set in.  Keeping busy doing  those things that you really enjoy, will definitely be a tonic for those winter blues!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Odds, Sods and Gummi Bears

Photo:  Thoms Baugis
Every so often it seems like a good idea to give an update on previous posts.  It may be that things I'm doing have progressed, I've found out something new about the subject matter or, I forget to say something that I meant to write in the first place.  So today's offering is a place where I'm going to do a bit of that, starting with.....

  • Last month I shared some shots where peeps, with rather more time on their hands than I've got, had played with their food. Alix from Used to Bees posted in a similar vein.  What she found was grrrreat as recommended by Tony the Tiger.  Anyway, here's my latest find, the gummy bear batallion!  432 brave little soldiers who took two and a half hours to line up.  There were casualities though.  Thirty two of their compatriots were eaten in the process.
  • When I wrote about the hidden costs of child rearing, I forgot to mention the inordinate amounts of toilet paper they use, way more than Meanqueen's 'two for a wee and three for a poo' rule would allow.
  • Unlike Scarlet and Eeek, who are going to shiver on for a little longer, I am a wimp and have succumbed to a bit of heating round here.  However, I've turned the thermostat down a degree on last year and ditched the automatic timer, only turning the heating on when I need it at home. (Oh, and by the way, if you read this Scarlet, can you send the link to your private blog again because it didn't work).
  • Two that I forgot to add to my charity shop bargains post.  Against popular advice you CAN have too many little black dresses, or in my case stripey tops. Also look for what you're short of in your wardrobe.  I could do with a few more long lightweight jumpers but am all maxxed out on long and short skirts.
  • I thought that someone had mentioned evening primrose oil in relation to relieve of menopause symptoms but when I've searched back I can't find their comment.  Anyway, I've tried it with good effect.  Tiredness is much less of a problem, unless I have a late night out of course! Thanks for the tip whoever if was!

Right, that's cleared my mind of some debris that's been floating about up there.  More updates soon, including an intermittent fasting update which deserves a post of its own.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Everyone Farts at Yoga

Here is quite a nice man doing yoga.  None of the blokes in my class looked like him.  There was a sweet deaf eighty something old boy and the occasional itinerant ageing hippy.  Perhaps that why I'm not going at the moment.

 Nah! I'm not really that much of a letch.  It's a question of priorities.  The real reason is that, I currently value nights in  being a sloth at Lovelygrey Cottage rather too much.

Anyway.....this pose is called pavana mukta asana, the wind relieving pose, and I'm posting this link with the instructions on how to do it because it really works.  Poor little Scary Secretary looked like she was four months pregnant yesterday.  Which isn't possible.  Like me she's a single mum who hasn't had a sniff of baby making action  in yonks.  And she's not the Virgin Mary so immaculate conception did not account for her condition either.  The culprit was thought to be the wheaty coating on peanut M&Ms.  She was in a lot of pain so, I came up with the idea of easing it with a bit of yoga, based on the fact that about 90% of people who stop going to classes, do so after an episode of debilitatingly embarrassing flatulence.

I persuaded her to carry out the moves.  Et voila!  Flat tummy miraculously restored and no more stomach ache.  Even more amazing was that there was no noxious gaseous emissions.  The wind must have just dispersed.  So if you're ever in the same predicament, give it a go before reaching for the Wind-ezes.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Lovelygrey's Friday Challenge

Much of our time we wander around blinkered.  Not literally I hasten to add. Driving, cooking and cutting toenails would be rather more hazardous activities with obscured sight.  No, what I mean is that we scurry around in a dazing without  noticing all the intricate detail in the environments that we live and work in.

Take for example, this tree on the wall of the former police station in the square at Tavistock.  I must have passed by dozens of times before I registered this intricate and interesting piece of ceramic work, made by Rosie Fierek.  As the little 'notice board' on the right of the installation says, the trunk shows the history of the town and the fruit depict scenes from life there today as described by schoolchildren.  And there we go again.  I'd clocked that what, at first sight, looked liked textured bark was in fact pictorial but missed the significance of the fruit.

So my challenge today is for everyone who reads this to go out with seeing eyes and find something in the space that they inhabit that has gone unnoticed before.  For some, stonking tings will miraculously appear before them, like this bloody great tree, that you wouldn't have expected me to miss in a month of Sundays.  For others it will be about discovering  the fantastic in the ordinary.   So, following the advice of Auntie Mabel,  who'll be familiar to British parents with school aged chidren:  'Look up, look down, look all around'.

Is it true that there are particularly rich pickings in my part of Devon, a renowned beauty spot steeped in history? Or are there wonders to be discovered everywhere wherever you may be.  Perky optimist that I am, I suspect the latter!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Even Better than a Birkin Bag

Late posting today with good reason.  My laptop is nearly ever so completely f****d.  Excuse the swearing but it really justified here. Hey! with a bit of analytical thinking I may have just stumbled upon the reason.  Hence I able to blog again, albeit a bit slowly   Now it's just about sorting the beast out in my guise as clever little girlie engineer.

Back at 6am this morning I intended to show you my latest impulse purchase.  Not bags or shoes like other normal females of the species but a glorious squash box from Riverford Farm.  I've got a thing about fruit and veg and have been known to be strangely drawn to obsessively purchase aesthetically pleasing knobbly  lemons before.  So  yer 'tiz  as they say in these parts.  These glorious fruit  made my heart sing much more than any designer leather article could.  Now it's just a question of using these beauties in a bevy of autumnal culinary guises!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

On the Back of An Envelope

Here's something interesting that I've 'Stumbled Upon'.  I'd hoped to embed a video in this post but it just won't let me.  Shucks!  You'll just have to follow this link instead to see it.  It's from Daily Finance, an American site and shows a savings experiment where a living room is kitted out as cheaply as possible from three different stores. Funnily enough, none of them are on Newton Abbot high street.  There is an Asda though, part of the Walmart family which was one of the brands under consideration.  As you can see from this still the total spend for furnishing and other bits and bobs here was $342.55.  I've just googled the exchange rate and that's equivalent to £212.39.  So can Asda come up with similar goods for the same price?

Well nearly but no.  I reckon that if you bought the cheapest items available the total spend from Asda Direct would be £239.50.  That's for  a sofa, coffee table, two lamps, five picture frames, an end table, a light fixture, TV stand, candles, a magazine rack and shelving.  Quite a lot of stuff for the money I think you'll agree.  But can Lovelygrey do better by finding equivalent quality secondhand goods on Ebay?  Lets see what I've found by  trawling the completed items section and confining myself to things I can pick up locally to save on postage costs.

Relyon Sofa Bed £80 vs. Asda Turin Sofa £145.

Light Oak Effect Coffee Table £8.50 vs. Asda Value Range Coffee Table £18.

Two Whacky Airplane Lamps £6 vs. Two Asda Funky Pink Table Lamps £6.

Three Plastic and Two Wooden Picture Frames (pictured) £3  vs. Asda  White Angled or Smart Price Clip Frames £5.

I've put the boat out here!

1970s Table £14.95 vs. Asda Smart Price Side Table £12.

Retro Glass Shade 99p  vs. Asda Square or Chimney Shade £5.

I could have opted for a cheaper one adorned with footballs for £3 but didn't think it would do anything for the ambience of a living room!

Glass TV Stand £1.04 vs.  Asda Smart Price £19

A Selection of Candles 99p  vs. Asda £3.50 for two.

Teak Magazine Rack £2 vs. Asda Rush Magazine Rack £7

Wooden Shelves £8.17 vs. Asda Smart Price Bookcase £19.

The total cost of my virtual foray: £125.64.  That's enough over to source a few lovely rugs, throws and cushions to make that super cheap living room a bit more cosy!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Hidden Costs of Kids

According to the Guardian it costs a whopping £218,000 to raise a child in the UK these days.  To my surprise, that doesn't factor in an Etonian education and skiing holidays at Klosters, although it does assume that you'll finance the cost of university accommodation and tuition fees.  So much for offspring standing on their own two feet in adulthood!

I'm was having trouble fathoming out just how Louis would manage to leech just over £10,000 per annum out of the household budget even though he's been raised to expect much more than the one holiday a year budgeted for in the article. And then it came to me.  Ch-ching!, a lightbulb moment.  Those clever researchers have taken account of all  the fuel wasted when kids leave every light on and  door open.  And they've  also included the extra costs of cleaning up spillages and the replacement costs of breakages associated with all those 'Oops Mum, it was just an accident' moments!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Frying Tonight!

Hand torn wheaten tortillas chips lightly fried in rapeseed oil and finished with a scattering of sea salt.  Doesn't that just sound like something that would come from Waitrose or Marks and Sparks with a price tag way out of kilter with the weight of the contents of the packet?  Well, it's just something that I knocked up last night with half a packet of tortillas from Asda that had gone a bit stiff.  I reckon the total cost for two plastic containers full worked out at just over fifty pence.  Unsurprisingly only one lunchbox worth made it beyond the cooking process.  They were just so irresistible that they got nibbled whilst going along!

To recreate this yourself, coat a frying pan with oil and once it's hot, tear in pieces of tortilla.  They only take a minute or so to cook each side.  You'll get a feel for how long after you've burnt a batch!  Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with seasalt.  Ideal with dips, or as I found out, just munched on their own warm from the pan.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Call Yourself An Art Buff

This painting, 'Abstraktes Bild', sold  at auction for twenty one million smackaroonie a couple of days ago.  That's  a record for a work by an artist who has not yet left this mortal coil to reside in a box six foot under.   The BBC said that  Gerhard Richter was viewed by some as the greatest living painter .  Now there was me believing that accolade went to Rolf Harris!

So there!  I've been shown up to be a complete philistine rather than the arty-farty aesthete that I'd like to portray myself as.  In my defence, I have to say that now I'm aware of this bloke's work ,  I've been left speechless by the beauty of this extraordinarily expensive canvas. I'd love it regardless of whether it had a  huge price tag or not.   Mr Richter's website which comprehensively catalogues his work in a variety of media will be a source of splendiferous eye candy and inspiration for months to come.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Blankie Bargain

There's enough unfinished projects around Lovelygrey Cottage without having anymore that wrack me with guilt.  So the hankering to learn to crochet that has been bubbling us inside me is being steadfastly ignored.  The lust for a granny blanket has therefore had to be assuaged, not by months of cursing over dropped stitches and tangled wool, but by forking out just under fifty quid, on a suitable  Ebay purchase.  An heirloom textile piece indeed.   I have to confess that the postage cost just tipped it over the half ton as it's a weighty item.  But goodness knows how much you'd pay for a handcrafted eighty four inch beauty in a chi-chi designer boutique!  Or indeed for the wool if you made your own.

This beautiful creation with its jewel-like colours is now brightening up my lounge draped over the back of the sofa,  ready to be removed when needed to counter the increasingly pervasive nip in the air.    There's plenty room for both me and Louis under it.  Its large size means that we're not fighting for snuggle space.  If I continue to resist turning on that heating for a little bit longer, and drop my thermostat an extra degree or two when I do, perhaps my savings could go  towards another one to grace the chaise-longue.  Maybe I'll go for the more common design with pieced together from coloured squares.  But with so many reasonably priced examples on the auction site to choose from  I can't predict what might take my fancy.

Friday, 12 October 2012


Stumbling again to see where this website's glorious flight of fancy around the Internet would take me, I came across demilked, a brilliant online magazine that I'm sure will provide inspirational pleasure way into the future.  Straight Line Designs is a Vancouver based design company that caught my eye with their innovative funky furniture, a piece of which would definitely grace my home if I had the space and money.  This  'Bad Table' is made from maple, aluminium and yes, it is an Ikea carpet that's being peed upon!  It's unlikely that you'll ever find anything quite as naughty in the world's favourite flatpack store but if they do, today post title suggests a suitable Scandanavian name!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Hair Down on a School Day

'I have a dream'.  So said Martin Luther King, Abba and er, Lovelygrey!  Mine is not so pie in the sky either.  It's not as if I'm after marrying George Clooney, becoming a pop star or owning a da Vinci painting.  No, its eminently achievable so yesterday, after work I started taking practical steps to bring my own little castle in the air firmly down to ground level.  I'm keeping it secret from you lot though at the current time but will reveal all when my scheming has firmed up further.

After the serious work of realising dreams  I decided that a little bit of R & R was in order. A mini pub crawl and then back to a friend's house for a nightcap and Whoa! it was midnight.    No regrets though.   I had lots of fun and laughs and have decided that my own self-made rule about going to bed early on a 'school' night occasionally needs to be well and truly broken!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Avoiding the Bargain That Isn't

It's all too easy to run amok in places where prices seem, oh so cheap.  Charity shops are my own particular place of temptation where, in the past,   I've come away with armfuls of 'new to me' dubious clobber, priced at a song.   Here's a treat for you today as I'm going to launch into my very own poetic creation..

That lime green sack for 25p
Does not a bargain be!
However cheap that it might seem
It's still a mon-stro-sity!

If that wouldn't make Byron green with envy then I am a big fat purple chicken.

But enough of this frivolity on a weekday!  The point that I'm trying to make it that something isn't cheap even if it's been bought with the change that's been cluttering up the bottom of your purse. In fact it's a bad buy if you never ever end up wearing it.   So, learning from the mistakes I've made in the past, here's the Lovelygrey guide to charity shopping for clothes that will be worn so much that they'll represent real bargains.
  • Yes, the changing room may be less glamorous than in 'normal' stores.  Still, muster up the courage to risk showing you bum to the unsuspecting hords in the shop, fight that undersized curtain (yes, I'm talking about you Scope in Totnes!) and try things on!   The majority of misguided buys are made when skipping this simple step.
  • Buy stuff that fits now.  Don't optimistically pounce upon something three sizes too small.  Saving the shopping trip until after you've lost weight means that your wardrobe isn't cluttered up with beautiful things  that only serve to depress you because they don't fit  
  • And talking of the wardrobe...consider what's in there already.  If your 'absolute steal' goes with nothing else that you own, then its likely to be a no-no.
  • That slinky one-shouldered cocktail dress may look fabulous and the dinky little price tag may make it seem all the more attractive.  But if you're a jeans and T-shirt kind of girl, think very carefully before going out of your usual styling comfort zone...unless of course, there's an imminent occasion where you'll be sipping gin slings.
  • Be realistic about how much of a makeover you're going to do on garments that aren't quite right.  Will you change those buttons, put darts in a bodice or alter a seam?  If it's not going to happen leave those worthy project for someone else.
  • If something feels scratchy,  shiny or unpleasant pass it by. It isn't going to grow on you at home.
  • Likewise, stains, bobbles, tears and funny ingrained smells won't induce warm fuzzy feelings as you're choosing what to wear.
  • Get real about what you'll pay for something that you really do take a shine to.  Charity shops are there to make money for the cause that they serve, and quite rightly, have been raising their prices in recent years as their popularity as retail venues have increased.  But some kind of weird switch in my head operates as I enter and I think that an almost new quality skirt is expensive when, in reality, it's half the price of something in Primark.
Hopefully, this 'anti-frittering' guide will be useful to someone, somewhere out there.  Feel free to add your own handy hints in the comments.  

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Does This Writing Spook You?

There's often an aural soundtrack on my drives to Tavistock where I head to 'heal the sick',  on the way dodging beasts who seem oblivious to the damage that a car can do to them. And I took as much pleasure from the discussion about the dying art of handwriting on today's  'Start the Week' With Andrew Marr' on Radio 4 as I did from the ethereal misty moorland landscape outside.  

Penning pieces in the literal sense was, for me, a frustrating and largely fruitless experience.  Until the birth of word processing I found it almost impossible to commit  ideas to paper, unlike some of the contributors who saw scribing as an essential part of the creative process.  In my own mind there seems to be a muddle of ideas that could only be unravelled  once ongoing editing and  prodigious use of the  'cut and paste' function were allowed by technology.  Each to their own, I say.    What works for one doesn't make it a good fit for someone else  Perhaps that why I was sometimes annoyed by the overzealous use of the word 'should'.   But then I was also fascinated by the ideas expressed about what someone's script can tell about them as a person, even perhaps down to whether they are ill or not.  The range of emotions that the programme elicited was one of the reasons that I found it challenging and enjoyable.

As I was hurtling down the hill into Widecombe after naturally avoiding two nonchalent, curly haired bullock milling around in the middle of the road, talk turned to Hitler's writing.  The view that it was 'revolting' seemed so generally held that I was intrigued.   It spurred me on to see what emotions it evoked within me.  Would  I be similarly repelled?  Well,  having now gained sight of it I can't honestly can't say that I was.  But I'm posting a sample here so that readers can gauge the personal effect that it has on them.

Monday, 8 October 2012

In No Particular Order:One Hundred Things I Did This Weekend

Took in a Panoramic View lPicked up PinslCommented on the Blog of OtherslBought New Cheapo Wine Glasses to Replace Those That Had Met Their Maker lCut HairlPolitely Turned Down a Man Who Wanted to Wash My CarlTried to Make an Arrow out of FlintlDrank TealResearched Ruching and French SeamslBreakfasted on Mushrooms on ToastlWatched a Sparrowhawk Find its PreylScoured the Charity ShopslDreamed of a House by the SealForwarded a Facebook CauselGoogled Evening Primrose Oil and CitalopramlRead Weekend SupplementslAdmired the Art of Laurie SteenlShared Bottled BeerlTook a Wrong TurnlMade BreadcrumbslBought Fun Snaps for Louis' Christmas StockinglTried to Make a Spark with FlintlUnpicked a SeamlPrised the Kids Away from the TellylPlayed on a See SawlWondered if I Could Take Cuttings from BamboolCharged my ToothbrushlLet the Kids Borrow a Big Hammer to Play WithlIroninglChecked my StatslUsed up LeftoverslFound Out About the Existence of Yet Another 'Global Mega-Star' That Had Passed Me BylFried FritterslParked BadlylFroze Cheap MeatlUntangled an Unholy Mess Under the Footplate of the Sewing MachinelBought a PumpkinlLost a Pair of Reading GlasseslTook PhotographslTrimmed the Grass a Little BitlCraved Green VegetableslReplaced a Mingin' Basket in the Bathroom with Something Much More DurablelSent Louis to his Dad's House When I was About to Lose ItlVisited an Ice Cream ParlourlUsed Something Other than Running Stitch on My Sewing MachinelRefused to Buy Sweets for the Kids and Threw Louis into a Sulk as a ResultlBroke a SpatulalHad a Mini Lie-InlMoved the Home of the Biscuit TinlWatched 'Miranda'lChanged a Sewing Machine FootlDecluttered My HandbaglFound an Earring in my PrinterlPicked up Other People's LitterlProcrastinated About.....I'll Tell You Another Day!lFed Louis and a FriendlGot a Tax RefundlRead in Bed with a CuppalThrew away Dead PenslPlucked a Hair from my Chinny Chin ChinlCleaned Pink and Black Mould off Bathroom TileslSewed a Straight SeamlListened to 'Our Correspondent' on Radio 4lDefrosted SquidlDegunked the Dishwasher TraplListened a Bit More to Radio 4lMade Dressmaking Pattern Out of NewspaperlSnoozed in the ConservatorylTold Abi Off For Snitching on LouislPicked up PinslStumbled a LittlelHad a Meaningful ChatlOrganised my Winter WardrobelFound Out Louis' HeightlBloggedlGot the Washing DrylChecked My Rating on TechnoratilGot Angry About People Abusing ChildrenlAte Crab SandwicheslWatched a Sewing Machine Needle Fall Out Mid-SeamlAccidentally Upturned a Box of JewellerylHad Mushrooms on Toast for BreakfastlShowered Quickly to Save WaterlWalked in the WoodslTidied my Desk DrawerlCongratulated Myself on Getting Away with One Washload This WeeklPhoned a FriendlLocated a Lost SocklCuddled my SonlChatted to the Guys in Go Ape At Haldon ForestlThrew Away the Unsuccessful Homemade Ice Cream That Would Never Be EatenlFound a Home for a Packet of Ground CuminlPlaced a Bid for a Crochet BlanketlHoped, Against the Odds, That the Missing Little Girl in Wales Would be Found Safe and WelllBoxed up Leftovers for LunchlReplaced a Lost WogglelPlayed Around with a Sound Generating Programl Cut out MateriallEmptied the Dishwasherl
......And Wondered How Bored I'd Be If I Didn't Work!!!!!!!