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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Busy! :-(

Really did mean to update on everything but have just been so busy! L.A. was so wonderful.

May2013

May 2014
It was HOT while we were out there... L.A. was having a heat wave! :o It was averaging over 100F. There were a couple of days where we wore sweaters; the temperature went down to 90F.. Odd because 70F at home is more than hot enough for both of us; surprising how soon you get used to the heat. And it's not sticky like it is here.

Yep! That really does say 106*F

Even if I did spend the first half hour of the flight home crying! :o I just hate leaving those two behind.
Leaving L.A. :-(
Told hubby I don't know if I can do it again - although of course I will. As soon as we save enough money to go again, I will go again. And then spend the first 30 minutes of the flight home crying again, I guess! LOL.
I've started some training this week and have realised less than a week into an 8 week course that I never want to work in an "ordinary" office! What to do?!!! Well I'll have to finish the course because it's through the JobCentre but I'm going to have to be very careful about any job I apply for - I NEED to do more than just sit in front of a computer, typing!
I've been sewing of course. Loving my new machine, but still get out the old one because I love that one too. :-) Made this top this week. Few alterations but I'm pleased with how it's turned out.

Obviously I'll take the pin out before I wear it - think I may put a couple of buttons on there - the pin was to get a sense of how it would look.
Need to go and get dressed - ready for my riveting day with "Excel" again.
Will leave you with my favourite Wedding photo. (Well, favorite this week. Will change my mind again next week! lol) This may be the one I get enlarged.


May share my holiday photos next time. Don't say you haven't been warned! :-D
Speak soon. Thanks for looking.
Jude.x

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Well I was going to give an update a couple of weeks ago, about my lovely new sewing machine (I think I'm in love) about the craft fair I'm hoping to do and about life in general. Unfortunately life got in the way and I was busy planning for a long haul trip.
Yep! I planned, and organized and bought tickets (in a two week stressful schedule), and booked hotels and here we are in Los Angeles, visiting my lovely son and his beautiful wife. The temperature yesterday was 38*C and today is expected to rise to 40*C... Air conditioned places are a must, so today it's off to the Science Centre to see Endeavor - again for me, first time for hubby and goodness knows how many times for P... I think it's his favorite place to visit in L.A. :-D

I can cope with the heat just knowing that my son is the happiest he has ever been and is married to the most delightful girl in the world.... How soppy is that? lol

Anyway. Off out now. Proper update with all sorts of news and photos when I'm back in the UK.

Speak soon. Jude.x

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Changes

Back in December, after taking a substantial pay-cut in the previous April, I had my Job Title changed. I know. It's only a name. But actually it was very important. At the same time my employer was looking for voluntary redundancies. I applied - enough was enough. I didn't expect, for one minute, that anything would come of it - while I don't think I'm irreplaceable I know that the visitor centre can't manage without the full-time post that I do. My job, as it was, no longer existed and although I enjoyed working with the people I work with - most of whom have become personal friends - I haven't really been happy there for quite a while. I couldn't really see any way out either; hubbys work was sporadic - he's an HGV driver and there are a lot of changes in haulage, the money isn't good and all three firms he's worked for in the last year have sadly gone out of business, or been swallowed up by "the big boys" (Stobarts and DHL are you proud of yourselves for undercutting the whole business?)

Fast forward to February and out of the blue I get a phone call from one of the top managers! :o Was I still interested in redundancy? Well, actually it would be early retirement because I was 4 months too old for redundancy. Hey! What's a word? Words aren't important in Job Titles, so why should I care now? Was I ever interested.....  At the time hubby had a job, his wage would keep us going and I was DESPERATE for a change. So that's where I'm at. I had almost 4 weeks Annual Leave and Lieu days to use, so I am now officially retired! LOL I await our HR departments offer - not holding my breath as they are notoriously slow - while deciding what the future is going to bring. Hubby has been laid off yet again, but I remain positive. (Which is surprising for me - we have no money, I have no job, he has no job, but life will bring whatever it brings.)

My immediate plans are to use part of the lump sum from my pension to fly out to Los Angeles to see my darling son and daughter in law and fix a couple of things around the house; work on the garden (which is a disaster zone), do some crafting/sewing, and maybe - MAYBE - look for a part time job in a couple of months. I'm also thinking about setting up a shop on Etsy. While taking deep breaths and gulping at the thought of having no income I am also excited at what the future is going to bring us.

I haven't been lazy in the meanwhile. The Visitor Centre usually closes in the winter, except for weekends; this year we have trialled Monday and Tuesday opening. Not a huge success but due to changes in our wage and job titles we (3 of us were affected) decided to work to our new job titles, and as such have been very bored; opening seemed to fill that gap partially! :-) We have, however, become painters and decorators! hahaha. We painted the visitor centre. And wow! What a difference. From Corporate Purple, plus red, to bright green. Want to see?


Bright? BRIGHT! Yep. This is what it was like:





I think it probably took about 6 days, over 2 weeks (the 3 days we were closed each week), but it does look better. No doubt there will be some comment about taking work from the decorators employed by the council, but we were beyond caring. lol :-) My parting shot was to order a table same style as the one in the photo above, but with a shorter "leg", to encourage people to sit and have their drinks - and hopefully spend some more money. I'm proud to say that the visitor centre will have broken all previous records in my final year there - beating both annual takings and visitor count figures since it opened in 1998.

Oh! And that wasn't it.... We then proceeded to decorate, using shapes cut on my Cricut. One of my colleagues had great fun cutting and sticking all day. So here's another photo. I'll get in sometime soon and take a photo of the final effort -we're getting very positive comments about how nice it looks now. :-D



And finally in the visitor centre we have the wall hanging made by an artist who attended the Festival back in September. She had visitors drawing what the canal meant to them, and then produced this amazing piece:


It's a beautiful piece of art with all sorts of medium involved - sewing, felting, quilting. Very touchy-feely! :-) And people either love it or hate it... Personally I can't see how anyone can't like it, but there we go - the world would be a very boring place if we all liked the same things, wouldn't it?

What else have I been doing? Sewing, knitting, felting and learning how to turn a crochet at the end of a row neatly! Lots of reading. Delighted that The Great British Sewing Bee has returned.

I finally finished a dress I started last year; just so it was finished really. I don't like it much, which is a shame because I liked the fabric. I've just finished a sleeveless top and a pinafore dress.  Here's the dress on Bessie (as in Bunter... because I got got biiiiiig and she is now stuffed out...) The dress looks much better in real life! And excuse the mess in the background. It's what remains of DS2's stuff that I don't know what to do with!! (A BIG desk mostly.)




You can see the other dress (blue) and sleeveless top (white) hung up in the background.

Our little craft group at work are about to start work on making bunting for the Trans Pennine Trail office. The Tour de France will pass along part of it apparently and they've put out a call for bunting. I contacted the office and basically providing the bunting follows their template in shape and size, they would be delighted to receive bunting made from any medium, so as we have a knitter, crocheter, felter and sewist in our midst..... :-)
Here's the link http://www.transpenninetrail.org.uk/events/ if you are interested in doing some bunting too.

Last but by no means least. I have been asked to make 220 chair covers!!! My lovely nieces are arranging a Charity Dinner Dance in September. It's in memory of several family member that we have lost, both recently and a long time ago. Proceeds will go to three charities close to our hearts; the most important to me is in memory of my sister (the youngest nieces Mum and step mum to the other two) who died almost 30 years ago. We have the BRCA2 gene in our family and my niece, H, was just 7 when she lost her Mum. My sister was 32.
My own Mum died at 41, when I was 8. My cousin has just been told that her cancer has returned, after almost 20 years in remission. The older niece, S, lost her 5 year old daughter to a very rare form of Kidney cancer, and the other niece, D, lost her partner last year to a brain tumour. Hubby has also been in remission for 7 years now from his prostate cancer.

There was never any doubt that I would do all I could to help. But 220 chair covers!! They were quoted £2.50 per chair cover by the venue, the cheapest they could find on the web was £1.85, all of which would be a one off.  So..... the youngest niece suggested asking me! hahaha! It's the sort of thing she does. :-D Good job I love her.
We have worked out that I can probably make them and it would cost just over £2 a chair, but then they'll have them for future events.... we did get carried away, and by the end of the afternoon S and I were setting up a wedding organising business in the office at D's business. LOL :-D
Anyway this is what we came up with:




A bit rough and ready, but you get the idea? What do you think? The best part is that I will only have to hem, or maybe even just overlock the voile. I can get one of the girls doing that. It's going to be the main cover that takes the time and I can't see many short cuts on that. Any suggestions welcome.
Of course I should be able to cut several out at once because they are just two straight pieces, but I think the sewing machine will be on overtime for the next few months. We're going to use sheeting because not only will it work out cheaper, the piece from floor front right over to floor back can be done in one piece/length. And then side to side is half another length.

Phew..... Well, I don't post often, but when I do I don't half talk drivel! LOL Need to go and do things now. I'll try not to leave it so long next time, but thanks for sticking with me! :-D

Speak soon.
Jude. xx

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Arts Festival (and weekend away at last)

What a busy few weeks we've had.
The Arts Celebration took up a lot of time, both work and personal. It was a great success considering the time we had to put it together. The most popular workshop was, without a doubt, the wet felting being taught by Susan, who is one of the "Gang of Four" crafters who meet once a month at work. Every one of her workshop slots was full, and people were disappointed.. :-(

Here are some photographs:


Racing up the Climbing Wall; Jay was delighted to have beaten Jane! lol

Perspex Mobiles Workshop

Another popular workshop

Watching Archive Canal and Chesterfield films, on the John Varley boat

Trying out canoeing

Our Consultation on what visitors would like to see on our events area. Answers ranged from building a new visitor centre, a BMX track to leaving it as it is and holding these sort of events more often. (The last idea being our choice if we're honest, and luckily the most popular idea.)

One of our volunteers also does Pole Lathing at Woodland Festivals and Shows. We have two of his walking sticks at home. 

Here the visitors were colouring and cutting a paper version of Chesterfield. We ended up with 4 Crooked Spire Churches but it was great to see it building up over the weekend.

Jewellery makers inside the marquee

Just one of several groups who performed. Such a shame there weren't more people because they were really good. 

The Canal Poet Laureate, Jo Bell. She was brilliant.... Not usually into poetry, but I really enjoyed listening to Jo, on both days! :-) The Art you can see in the background was done by children in 2 or 3 schools in the area. This was all around the marquee and coordinated by Junction Arts who helped us organise the event. The children used templates for the shapes and then used sticky coloured paper on white paper carrier bags. As you can see, the result is absolutey gorgeous; so effective! :-)
The Chesterfield Canal Trust Promotion trailer - the James Brindley - also joined us on Sunday to promote the canal and talk to visitors about the possible impact of HS2!


And the Felting Workshops:

Susan showing how to work the wool.
Just a few of the completed works. 
One of Susans previous works of Art.... isn't this gorgeous? She made this while on holiday in Scotland, of the view from the cottage they were staying in... from stuff she collected while they were there......



And the "Gang of Four" made a Fairy Dell in the weeks leading up to the Art Celebration..........

What are these doing here? Lets follow the trail.....

Look! There's some more......

And more.......


.... and a little mouse.......

And there's the Fairy in her Dell........ :-)


The following weekend I thought I deserved to go away for a few days, so got out the Sites Big Book and found a little site only 15 miles from home, and booked a couple of nights for us. Adventure before we'd even pulled the caravan off the storage site.... As I tried to pull away I asked hubby if he'd released the brake because it was pulling.... He had. The motor mover had locked on!!! (Yeah! I know, but we're getting too old now to be pulling caravans around; and why do it when there's a solution? LOL :-D ) Anyway... it took us hubby over 2 hours to release it. It now needs fixing properly, but I think it may still be under guarantee if only he can find the paperwork... lol
We arrived. It was a perfect weekend. Really quiet site, in the middle of nowhere, perfect weather. Half way between Mansfield and Newark, we went into Newark on the Saturday morning to get something for tea and decided to get lunch and sit in the park by the Castle.

We sat on a seat to the right of this photo and ate lunch.

Newark Castle. Next time we go (and we will use the site again) I'm going to get him on that boat, and take a trip on the river.......... mwhahahaha (Hubby gets really motion sick on water of any description... which makes me laugh as he is "Santa" on the Canal Trust Santa trips..... :-) )

"This caravanning lark is such hard work.........."

Those kids aren't gonna come and get you, cos I'll scare them off first, Dad.


"Why you make me wear this, Dad?"

Poor Alphie... still not sure if he likes that T-Shirt or not... R reckons he's cold, I reckon he has a fur coat already.... :-D



And then finally..... R was repairing his motorbike and Alphie wanted to make sure he was doing it properly.... LOL



Well that's it for now. Have been doing various bits of crafting, but no photo's yet..... Been making Felted Christmas baubles, which are going to be one of the Raffle Prizes for the Boat Raffle over Christmas. Now we start the Christmas rush at work. The Canal TRust are "launching" their Santa trips today, at work, so I'm off down there to help out my colleague who is on her own today (another of the "Gang of Four") and is going to be besieged by local politicians with their children - free Santa Trip anyone? :p

Back soon I hope. Have a good weekend. 
Jude.xx

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Using my room!

Yep! I am using my room.... I'm sorting out a kettle and tea and coffee too... That sounds serious, doesn't it? lol
So what am I up to in there? Can't remember if I told you but we have a little craft group at work.. just 4 of us, we meet once a month, with no set purpose yet except to do something for the upcoming Arts Celebration at work. My contribution towards that is this little lady.......

One naked fairy..... hahaha


One partly dressed fairy.....



And a messy haired fairy - still without wings at this point because I don't want anyone, other than my fellow work crafters, to see her until completed. The others in the group are making mushrooms/toadstools and they will will form a fairy ring for a "hidden" display over the weekend.

Oh! And our big event: This........ It's been manic trying to get everything arranged...  We have no idea how many people will turn up because we've never run anything like this before. We only had funding confirmed 3 weeks ago. We are local authority so anything we want to order has to go through an ordering system that seems to have been designed to make things deliberately difficult; luckily we have a partner organisation who don't have the same problems and they've been able to book the "artists" through their system! :-)






If you are a crafter and would like a table, there are still some available to book. You can contact my boss for more details.... leave a comment if you want her contact details, but hurry.... ;-)

My constant companion in my room is this little guy......


I like to think he enjoys my company - in reality he brings his ball up because he likes it to be thrown out of the door and down the stairs, so he can run down them, get the ball and bring it back again!!! Hahahaha Crazy dog! (Annoying too sometimes when I'm trying to concentrate on something...) Wouldn't swap him for anything though.

Last week the wonderful Canal Trust boat crew offered our team a trip on their boat one evening, as a Thank You from them to us for the organisation we do for the trips; although I think we should be thanking them too....

It was a great evening. They provided food and drink (Yep! I admit to having a couple of glasses of wine on the way out - luckily had sobered up with food and then the trip back! And they were very small glasses - I just don't normally drink so was a bit 'giddy', but made everyone laugh! :-D ) Anyway, I took these photos on the way back. I've been on the boat many times, but never in the evening, and to see the canal in the evening was an event I'm glad I didn't miss... it was mystical!





Isn't that pretty? Absolutely perfect evening. Thank guys and gals... 

Well that's it for now. A friend is having a table at a craft fayre in her village next month, and asked if I'd make some cards to help her fill the table, so that's what I'm doing this weekend. My biggest problem will be pricing them up? Any ideas??? :-)

Thanks for reading. Speak soon.
jude.x


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Busy, busy, busy

And not just crafts.....
I've been attempting to make my room "my room"... see, it was still P's room. Everytime I went in there I felt like I was intruding; like I shouldn't be there. Kept expecting P to be there and it wasn't good. So what to do? And on very limited funds...
I had a tin of white paint, so that was the obvious answer - paint the walls white. Then I had a brainwave - add some red acrylic paint and paint one wall pink!!! :o Pink? Yep! Always wanted to do a pink room but Z. was never a pink girl (until she got her own place I might add!!! LOL) I had fancied pink polka dot wallpaper, but the one I really wanted was £25 a roll, and I'd have needed 2 rolls, so that was quickly forgotten. :-(
Then off to the fabric shop where I found some sheer.......... Pink Polka dot fabric!! :-) Yay! I had a plan!
What do you think?



Sorry about the quality of the photos - they're off my phone because my camera has suddenly decided that it no longer wants to work; but you get the idea? The unit there is the 4x2 Ikea Expedit, and the drawers are "new" (to me) and help tidy it up a bit. The wall behind it is the pink one... I really didn't need it because the fabric just makes the whole room look pink.
This is the other side of the window - although it, too, has a curtain now but I don't have a photo of it yet.


You can see the difference in the room shading! This side looks as pink as the other now. That's the 4x4 Expedit by the way. It's not a huge room - it's the second bedroom of the house - and there is a lot packed into it, and still a way to go before I have everything tidy, and in a proper home. But it's mine! :-) Although it will have to be a guest room too; I'm thinking a sofa bed is the way to go for that; and it needs a blind of some sort, at the window, yet. 
I am now worrying that I was using lack of space as my excuse not to craft, but now I have a space, that I just won't want to craft..... :-(  Does that make sense? :-) I do wander up there.... I'm in the process of making a dressing gown - using my current, much loved, 11 year old, falling apart one, as a pattern; so maybe I'll be OK.

I have finished a sock!!! Yay!!!!! This is for a gift. Never made socks before and it's been a nightmare, but now I "get it" and have finished it... yeah! Just one, and the recipient will need two, so better get knitting... Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I did it... and here's the proof! lol



And now? Well, the other sock obviously. But we have just heard, at work, that we've been successful for an Arts Grant bid, so in 3 weeks time we are holding an Arts Festival... yep!! My line manager has got 4 weeks to arrange something she has never done before and has had no idea about.... she's learning fast! :-) 
Myself and 3 colleagues have just started up a little crafting evening once a month and are learning felting at the moment, so thought it would be good to make something to display at the festival, so we are doing a "Fairy ring". There will be needle felted toadstools, and a fairy.... Guess who got tasked with the fairy? :-D Yep!!! So now I have less than 3 weeks to attempt something I have never done before... think I'm going to be busy? Trying to decide whether to make do with the "roving" I already have, or make an excuse to go to the shop that sells felting "stuff". It's only open today (that I can go anyway) so it's today or not at all... I could make do, but it would be a run out.... ;-)
Anyway. Regardless of what I decide, I need to get moving. It's turned 10am and I really can't have a pyjama day today. No really, I can't - I promised myself one tomorrow!!!! LOL
Thanks for reading. Speak soon.
Jude.x

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