Monday, 31 August 2015

Introducing Addy.

I intended introducing my dolls gradually, but somehow never got around to it! So I will start with my latest adoption: Addy.
She is one of the historical American girl dolls.

"Addy Walker, representing the tail end of the Civil War era and early Reconstruction Era." 

I have 2 of the books in her series which a friend sent me. The first when they run away and the third Christmas one. I hope to find the others sometime at an affordable price. I love reading the books which go with the dolls. A little bit of "History" 

I just had to make her a little brooch remembering her cowry shell from her Grandmother. Mine is just a tiny land snail shell. The snail has long moved home!

These are the clothes she arrived in, not her meet outfit. 

I made her the blue outfit in the first photo but although I have written down the pattern it still isn't available for now as it hasn't been testknit yet. There always seems to be less interest in the historical outfits anyway.                                                                                                                                             
  Isn't she lovely?                                              

Friday, 28 August 2015

Early Morning Musings.

Village morning

Dark side of theMoon.

Frustration, feeling inadequate, failure. Early morning, too early to go out yet, tired of tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep. Dark nights, dark thoughts.

Yesterday was hot. Too hot to get anything done. Another day wasted.

Dogs barking in the distance. I wonder what they are barking at. Maybe a wild pig, there are several around. Something to be careful about if I go out early. My dog is peacefully sleeping here. He only barks if there is someone around that shouldn't be there.

The owl is hooting, calling softly to her mate. Comforting usual sound to me. There is a big owl which sits on our roof most nights. I have never really seen it, just the shadow as it passes, but my inlaws can see it from across the road. They do the sign of the cross if they see one! My Sil said it is ok for me, they bring good luck where they perch but are unlucky to see! Strange superstitions. I love owls.

No crickets tonight. Maybe cooler weather today.

Total silence. So rare that it is so quiet here. The only sound I hear are my fingers moving over the computer keys. 4.30am. In half an hour there will be people moving around already. The church clock gives a lone strike. Two minutes different from the time on my computer.

A cock crows! Hey it is still night here! Early bird. Won't be dawn for a while yet! According to the official tables the sun should rise at 6.19am and set at 19.30, giving us a day of 13.11 hours! 

A car starts up in the distance. I get the lead and take the dog out. Better to get moving while the air is cool.

Day has come. 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Cleaning time with timer!

Another post for today. I am taking a break while the floor dries. This morning I set my timer and swept and washed the dining room floor and corridor. I have ceramic tiles on this floor of the house.

Ceramic tiles

My not-so-DH decided to lie on the divan and kept moving and getting in my way although I had told him to stay in one place till I had finished and it dried. Fortunately my BIL called to tell me to ask him to go and see to the cows as BIL is at Naples so he has now gone out! What a loving wife I am! Lol!

Reminds me when I tried to follow the FlyLady method a few years ago. I got so tired of her comments that we are cleaning for us and that family will then follow along. To have a smile all the time! Sure! My "sweet honey" definitely didn't help. He postively hindered at times! I would nearly kill myself trying to keep the stupid sink clean and shining. Go to bed leaving the kitchen clean and get up in the morning to find it a shambles again! Other than gradually getting to grips with the house! Then those lace-up shoes! Not when it is 40°c outside! 

Her darling dears are maybe BO...born organized but mine sure aren't. It was a continuous fight. The only BO around here would be body-odour and that I don't want!
I don't live in the 50's when Momma would have the meal on the table for her Master coming home from work and a pretty apron tied around her waist. I would rather use it to hang myself...or him! That would be better! I do love aprons by the way. I wonder where all of mine have gone!

 What I did find a wonderful help were the forums. There I found out that others were just as untidy as I am and many were far worse! I had been looking at my house trying to match the crazy standards they have around here and I just can't adapt to that. It isn't life to me. I do miss the forums still and the wonderful people I met on there. Some I am still in touch with through FaceBook fortunately. I wonder how they are all doing.

I did receive her emails for a while but got tired of all the publicity to sell things. I am trying to declutter not add calendars and other cleaning stuff. I do have her book still. 

The timer idea I did find useful. I set it for an hour and get things done, then take a brief break. Now I am applying what I learnt to try and pull my house back into shape again, but doing it my way this time around. We all have different lives and ways of doing things.

Fun looking back. I had got my house almost totally under control again and then life got in the way and it became a shambles. If I don't clean no one else does it and I wasn't there to do it! I had other more important things to cope with and I managed but it took a great toll on me.  

I found an old photo. My friend's DD scanned it for me. This was many years ago. There are very few photos of me. To think I thought I was fat then! I am the one in the white jacket. It was at my God-daughter's baptism. 


Well the timer has rung so back to my cleaning! 

Five o'clock in the Morning...

Morning Musings

This morning I went out with the dog early, just after 5am, hoping to take a couple of photos before the sun was awake! Dawn is starting to get later now, sign of the passing season. A solitary owl was hooting calling to its companion. One of the big owls that often sit on our roof.
"Five o'clock in the morning just as the day begins..."
The song was running through my mind.  My favourite time of the day. So peaceful and quiet.

fox hiding

As I went down the road I spied a fox here but unfortunately I wasn't quick enough and my camera isn't good enough to take a photo. It didn't want to pose for me!

Dark night

                                                             Peaceful darkness......

Fichi d'india

Now the sun is waking! These are olive trees and "Ficchi d'india" Indian figs at the sides of my photo. I was quite pleased with how pretty they look! 


A bat was fluttering around me but didn't show up here as I snapped a photo. It was too dark and although I could see it the photos all came out totally black! I wish I had a better camera!

5 am in the morning

It was almost totally dark here. This photo I took minutes before the sun started to show. It was a dark night like my mood! Many people would think I am crazy going for a walk so early, but I had the dog with me who is an excellent guard dog!
I feel better after the walk. The light arrives after total darkness and so things change in our lives.
It gave me the energy to start a new day and get moving!

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Friday, 21 August 2015

9 ways to save money on grocery bills.

grocery savings

Well in my last post I mentioned that there have been a lot of bills recently and that I need to cut expenses. I decided to to do some online research. Something I have been doing frequently recently looking for thrifty ideas and lifestyles. 
So Pinterest here I came. So many different things pinned with 5,10, 15 or whatever ideas to save money. Well let me tell you folks I just hate clicking on those to find it takes me to the blog and then that the article is only a list of links to posts by other people on their blogs! Originality Guys! 

I know it is only right to give credit where credit is due, but please I want to know what the author thinks of these ideas. What works for them. What they don't agree with! 

Often the various links given have all more or less the same sort of advice. Inevitable as there are only so many ways we can reduce things such as grocery bills. 

What is very obvious to me is what I have already started doing and that is planning ahead and not doing impulse buying. In my case I have been guilty of being maybe busy knitting and just not planning ahead so at the last moment I don't even know what I shall cook!
 I also buy ingredients with the best intentions and then never get around to making the meal. Then it gets to the expiry date and that is sheer waste! Organization that is the key! So here I will make a list of my own with what I need to do to economise based on my experience in the past few months.

1: Organization!
Do a meal plan. Not a rigid day by day thing but an idea of meals for the month, or at least a week. Maybe I will make pizza on Wednesday instead of Saturday or do a roast on Tuesday! You get what I mean. The important thing is to have the ingredients available.

2: Make a shopping list! 
Work out the ingredients I need beforehand! I always seem to forget something!  My DH calls me a "chittara scordata" (Scordare is a way of saying forget and a guitar that is scordata needs tuning for those who are curious!) His way of saying I am always forgetting things! (As if he remembers them!)
Stick to the shopping list without impulse purchases.

3: Cook meals from scratch. This one I am doing fairly well on. I rarely used package foods anyway. 

4: Avoid using canned foods. I must take the time to cook beans, chickpeas, lentils myself instead of just opening a can. Again that goes with planning ahead but I can also freeze them ready cooked if I have freezer space.

5: Take the meat out of the freezer and cook the stuff!
We actually have our own beef and although it is tough it has a great flavour. I always forget to remove it in time and that means I have to substitute something else, often canned meat! One of the best things I have bought is a thing to grind raw meat. The cuts that were too tough cook beautifully as polpette or hamburgers! 

6: Avoid buying soft drinks.
I have stopped drinking any kind of alcoholic drinks and don't buy them, but lemon or peach tea, lemonade etc can be costly and are also bad for us. Drinking water is better. I should also start making tea in the summer again and letting it cool instead of buying all those bottles. Less plastic to recycle that way as well!

7: Check expiry dates and use things up! Mozzarella cheese that is you I am looking at! I always forget. I should freeze it before it expires. Organization!

8: Cut down on buying ice cream! 
Really one of the biggest things this month! It has been so hot and ice cream seemed the only thing nice to eat. I actually have 2 ice cream makers! Get them out girl and make some. I would even know what goes into it! Lol! Also make some lemon granita. We have our own lemons and I never make the stuff!

9: Use up leftovers.
Waste not want not. That is what I was taught as a child and I really need to remember again. Left over food can be served up as ingredients in other dishes.
Too much gets just thrown out otherwise.

Well that is it for now. I will stop at 9 because it is a number I like!  When the weather gets cooler I will start baking bread again and maybe some cakes. I will continue trying to find other ways to save on food bills while still producing good food to eat. Actually the meals will probably be far better than usual!
Recipe books here I come! 

What other suggestions do you have? 

When your output exceeds income...

When your output exceeds your income , then your upkeep will be your downfall.

This is sound advice and is also almost a copy of something Charles Dickens wrote in David Copperfield :

'My other piece of advice, Copperfield,' said Mr. Micawber, 'you know. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and - and in short you are for ever floored. As I am!'

Micawber is known for asserting his faith that "something will turn up". His name has become synonymous with someone who lives in hopeful expectation. This has formed the basis for the Micawber Principle, based upon his observation.

A Micawber is defined as "one who is poor but lives in optimistic expectation of better fortune"
Although Mr Micawber's story is not the way I want to end up! Better to be more practical!

Being thrifty

You may be wondering where all this rambling is leading to. In recent months it seems that our financial output exceeds the income every single time! Bills bills and more bills! 
Every month there is something extra to pay. This time there were my DD's school books. Nearly 500 euro! I did, albeit reluctantly, take her old ones to see if I could sell them. Only 3 were still in use and I received the great sum of 20 euro for new condition books! Most of those she needs this year are new adoptions so weren't available secondhand either. 

I really need to sit down and take a good hard look at our expenditure. 
I started this month by writing down every single thing we have bought. I need to know where the money is going and where I can cut spending.

I have also written down all the meals from this month and am trying to work out a meal plan for September. I hope to be able to make a grocery list with just the essentials. I will try to cut food waste to a minimum. This is something I had already been trying to do. 

By trying to walk a greener path I have already made several changes to my lifestyle. Now I need to take this further in order to decrease spending. Water bills are always high here so "turn off that tap" is a must do. Electricity costs so washer loads must be run when there is a full load. Too often I do a half load because I hate having dirty washing lying around. I line dry my clothes and have stopped ironing un-necessary things. Saves money and time!
In the summer I almost never use the oven as it is so hot. When the weather cools I will go back to baking bread again.
The phone and internet is one fixed monthly amount so no problems with that for now. I use a prepaid card for rare international calls to family. With national ones I could talk all day if I liked!

So hard to find other ways to cut spending. I rarely buy clothes unless really necessary. We don't go out for meals. We don't smoke or drink.
 From this month's spending the only thing I can see we could have cut down on was buying icecream!

I will be scouring the web looking for ideas. I need to tip those scales back the other way.

In what ways do you save money? Any thrifty suggestions?

Sunday, 16 August 2015

I Will Survive Depression!

Defeat depression

I was playing one of those silly Facebook games today:
 “Which legendary song best describes your life?” 
 I got:  “I Will Survive.”  That is so suitable. Survival.

A few years ago I was feeling really low.  Yes, I know I didn't have all the problems many folks have, that there are so many people in far worse situations. 

That knowledge still didn't help the fact that I was seriously depressed, suffering from anxiety attacks and feeling down. I jumped every time the phone rang. Life just seemed to be throwing one thing after another at me. I was almost to the point of giving up. It was that bad. I was just tired, tired, tired. Tired of having to cope with things. Tired of just sitting crying. I am still not really totally over this. Tears spring to my eyes as I am writing and remember. Oblivion often seems so attractive.

I had to pull myself out of it. I needed to grasp a safety line and hold on. I didn't start taking medicine, instead I turned to my knitting. I knit my way out of depression one stitch at a time.

The sheer automatic act of knitting is smoothing. The mental process of calculating stitches and patterns is stimulating. It keeps the brain occupied and is calming. I later found there are many research projects on how knitting therapy is successful!

I did test knits for other designers on Ravelry. I found controlling for errors fascinating but then I started designing my own things. I started knitting things for my dolls. They never protest and always wear what I make them with a smiling face! Lol! Nothing worse than knitting something that isn't appreciated!

Making my own knitted items comes easily to me but I found writing them down was far more complicated! I had to learn a whole lot of new things. Stimulating for the brain.

Although I would never be like one of the Stepford housewives, I knew I wasn't really useless and inadequate. I wasn't just a bad housewife and mother unable to keep things under control. I was not and didn't want to become a robot.

Even though people around me would never appreciate what I knit there were many others who did! The best part was when I received positive online feedback. So nice to feel I was capable of creating something others admired and wanted to copy!

Life is just too short to waste time trying to conform to doing what others think you should. Although I do try to keep the house clean and tidy, I will never be able to match up to the ridiculous standards some set. Cleaning all the windows and polishing doorknobs everyday is just not life in my opinion! (I had a neighbour who literally did that!)

I can't be a slave waiting on others. I have one life and need to do the things I want to while I can. The years go by so quickly.

So if you are feeling down and lonely, try picking up some yarn and start knitting. It might work for you as well!

Have you ever dealt with depression and anxiety attacks? How did you cope?
Has anyone else used knitting to overcome depression?

I would love to hear from you. 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Pattern designing book review.

   As I dedicate more time to my pattern designing, I am also trying to improve my pattern writing skills and the quality of my patterns. I decided to do a Google search and was surprised to find so little useful information online about how to actually write a knitting pattern .
   Then I found  Kate Atherley's book "Pattern Writing for Knit Designers." (everything you didn't know you needed to know).

pattern writing for knit designers

   Important! Please note that I am not affiliated with her in any way and do not receive any payment at all for this review!

   This book is available in both paper and ebook form. I decided to opt for the "real" thing as I love having actual books to browse through, even though the post to here cost me quite a lot. Surprise surprise! I received an e-mail with a link to download the ebook as well! What a lovely thing, I was able to read the book and click on links there while waiting for the package to arrive!

   I found the book is a down to earth guide written with a sense of humour making it pleasing to read. The author guides you through the practical steps of writing a pattern, adding all those little things which are so easy to forget.

   She takes you through pattern structure and instructions, charts, grading, formatting and layout. She includes a wealth of information I have not seen elsewhere. She has an excellent knowledge of the subject and puts it into an interesting easy to read format. She then even discusses selling patterns online.

   A sample basic pattern template is very useful, as is the abbreviations list given in the appendix. Many aditional links are given in the resources which took me to further sources of information available online.

   One minor thing I really liked were the suggestions for presentation and photographs; how often I have seen lovely designs with the mediocre photos spoiling the effect. So much work put into a design and then it is put there with an illustration which doesn't do it credit. Something to work on!

     This is a book I am glad to have and refer to. To me it has fulfilled a real need for designers.

Just a note to add that Kate tells me that she’s currently working on a new, updated edition, to be published early 2016. It will be through a larger publisher, so the book should be easier to find. Visit for updates.

     Another two books about pattern design I have found interesting and useful are "The Knitting Architect"and "The Advanced Knitting Architect" by Sion Elalouf. Out of print, I had been looking for these on ebay at prices I could afford, when, to my joy,  found that they were available for free download online.

    These give great instructions on how to chart various styles of knitwear doing the maths of the shaping. Very interesting technical books in my opinion. I enjoy calculating gauge and stitches when planning a garment.  Garment structure is described in detail. Many things I have learnt through trial and error are clearly illustrated with schematics
.Schematics is one aspect of my pattern writing I am still working on. There I need computer skills not knitting skills!

   Just my findings about useful pattern design books. Have you any suggestions of books you have found helpful? I would love to hear what you think of this subject.