Thursday, 30 April 2009

April Roundup

Thursday, 30 April 2009
Due to me being laid low with a throat and ear infection for the last five days plus losing a lot of stitching time due to two long weekends away I've not done very well at all in my rotation this month. I failed to touch three of my pieces at all!

Stitching Goals

1. Work on Sleigh Ride - nope
2. Work on Heaven's Above - nope
3. Complete Monthly Baubles - March - nope
4. Work on Boo Club - caught up from last month and completed the next two
5. Complete two Snapperbet Letters - yes, only two this month though as the frogs visited
6. Work on Cirque des Cercles - yes but not as much as I'd have liked

Stitching New Starts:

Stitching Finishes:

Books Read
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Sewing Goals
1. Work on Lia's Quilt - yes, all blocks cut and working on the hearts
2. Start my Baby Jane quilt blocks - nope
3. Make some bags for gifts - yep six bags made, five gifted
4. Finish Lia's curtains - nope

New Stash Arrivals
SamSarah - Alphabet Baubles E and F
Picture This Plus - FOTM
Baby Jane 1st BOM
Lizzie*Kate - Second half of Boo Club
Just Nan Grow Tin
Sampler Cove - Rhapsody in Red Ribbon Sampler
Bygone Stitches - Quaker Virtues
Gay Ann Rogers - A Case for Colour
Shepherd's Bush - Spooky Spots

So lots and lots of stash arrivals but A Case for Colour was my Mother's Day gift and most of the rest were Autoship commitments (this is the most expensive month for those as Boo Club is now done). Rhapsody in Red, Spooky Spots and Quaker Virtues were birthday gifts so they don't count. Honest

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Working Hours

Thursday, 23 April 2009
So after discussion with DH and a check of our budget I put in a formal request to my Boss yesterday to drop my hours down to 22.5 hours a week which is three full days but spread them over five days so I will be working 9.30am - 2.30pm Monday to Friday.

This means I can do the school run at both ends of the day with no worrying about fitting in any working from home hours.

I'm really excited - I can't imagine not working but this is what I really want to be able to do, be a Mum first and fit my work around that. I'm lucky that I work in the NHS and flexible working is pretty much normal (and having a female boss who has worked around her children helps too).

DH is also happy because even though we talked about him moving jobs to be closer to home he really wants to stay where he is for now as he's enjoying it and they are starting to give him more responsibilities so he can see there is a chance for him to move up within the company at some point.

I'll be starting on 7th September which will be Lia's first day at school. I'm happy as well because it means I don't have to find a childminder and get Lia used to being around them at the same time as getting her used to being at school.

I'm looking forward to having more time with Lia too and it'll be bliss not to have to think of 'fast' dinner options because we get in at 5.20pm and we need to be eating in under 30 minutes. Our menu options can expand to include more than pasta LOL.

Roll on September!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Pretty Fabrics

Wednesday, 22 April 2009
So here are my first 10 Baby Jane fabrics (you can click the pics for larger ones)

The colours are so me that I could have picked them myself! Each block is made with one of the coloured fabrics and a white fabric so whilst we all have the same fabrics (I checked with a friend who is also doing the BOM) the quilts will be all different because we can choose which fabric we use for which block - ie there are three orange blocks in this first batch and it's up to me which orange fabric I use for which block.

I'm now just waiting for the CD to arrive which I need before I can start. I ordered it last week so I'm hoping it will be here for the weekend.

In the meantime (in between painting and clearing up the house) I can get on with Lia's quilt. Here's a shot of the fabrics and in the foreground are the first two blocks. I need to applique the hearts on still. Basically every block will have one or more hearts appliqued on and the idea is to use the speciality stitches on the sewing machine as well as ribbon, ric rac, etc to decorate each heart. There's an awful lot of hearts so it won't be quick but I'm hoping to have the top done by her birthday on 1st June.

The blocks are all different sizes - ranging from 15" square to 5" square so it will be a very 'busy' quilt when it's done.

I should also confess that I've booked on some more quilting courses but they are at the end of the year. I booked two whilst I was at the class on Saturday and I'm about to book a third as they called and left a message that another class I really wanted to do has now been scheduled for a Saturday.

So I'll have a course a month September, October and November which is great. One is not strictly quilting, it's using fabric and embellishments and playing around ending up with a needlebook or a sewing pouch, the second is a scrap exchange quilt so everyone on the class swaps two fat quarters and uses those and other scraps to build a quilt top and the last one is called 'Seminole' which is a Native American inspired design.

The scrap exchange class is based on a quilt that was the cover design for Popular Patchwork Magazine February of this year - designed by the class tutor Mandy Monroe. I believe the Seminole quilt will be included in the magazine later this year too.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Stash, stash, wonderful stash!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009
My Baby Jane BOM arrived today and the fabrics are GORGEOUS! I've opened it here at work so have no way of taking a picture of the fabrics but I will as the colours are amazing. It's definitely going to be a bright one!

I also ordered a mini rotary cuttery which arrived today too so now I can get on with finishing up Lia's quilt top as my large cutter wasn't really working with the template I'm using. I will also take a picture of the fabrics I'm using for that quilt as they're nice and bright and summery too.

Our house is still in a state of chaos as the painting of Lia's room is still not finished. DH has been working hard though and the gloss painting is done so tonight we'll work together to get the first coat of paint on the walls and then hopefully the second coat will go on tomorrow so we're just left with the skirting to paint and then fix on the wall.

We've got plenty of time though, the next carpet isn't being fitted until next Friday.

In other news the house sale is still dragging on, the contract exchange didn't happen Friday, was rescheduled for yesterday and didn't happen then either. Both parties are now at the end of their patience - the buyers are set to be moving in on Friday and the issue is down to their solicitor but they can't get in to see him until tomorrow so we can only hope that they give him a swift kick and get it sorted.

It's true what they say about buying and selling a house as being one of the most stressful things ever, this sale will probably see us all off!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Belated Happy Easter

Wednesday, 15 April 2009
So was it a good one for you all?

We had a great time. Well, when I say we, what I mean is Lia and I as we spent it with friends. DH on the other hand spent most of it working on the redecorating of Lia's bedroom which turned into a much bigger job than expected due to large chunks of plaster falling off the wall when the skirting boards were removed!

The idea was that DH and a friend got started on the Thursday morning and by the time we all arrived home at Sunday lunchtime it would be done. We arrived home to find that no painting had started and the skirting still hadn't been cut! So poor DH is now working whenever he can to try and get it finished and Lia is sleeping in the spare room with her furniture scattered all round the house. We're all away this weekend so nothing much will get done and we need it to be finished by the end of next week as friends are coming to stay.

The other thing that happened this weekend is that my garden got cleared completely. To say I'm over the moon is an understatement - I can't believe how fantastic it is which is great because it looks a million times better even though there's so much more still to be done. The best thing is that DH and I can do the rest, it's manageable now.

The third piece of good news is that my Mum's house sale is going to complete on Friday. It's been a long and awful process where the buyers have been a total nightmare (put it this way the stress of the whole thing must have been a contributing factor to the heart attack that killed my stepdad). My Bro and I own 1/3 of the house since my stepfathers death so we have been able to deal with the sale for my Mum (when I say we, that's a lie, my Bro has done it all, I've just backed him up). Neither of us are happy that we're actually selling to these people after what they put my parents through (which is a whole other post) but if we don't my Mum will have some kind of breakdown I'm sure.

So the good news part is the bit where 1/6th of the sale price (less a bridging loan repayment) is mine. This means we can pay off our credit card and overdraft and do some more work around the house which in turn means we can afford me to cut my working hours a bit more than planned in September when Lia starts school. Obviously my work still have to agree the changes but it's good to know we can afford for me to be home more - I'm hoping that I can cut down to the equivalent of three days a week spread over five days so work 9.30am - 2.30pm.

As for the work on the house we had the nice double glazing man around last night to confirm we're going to have a new front door, back door and french doors, the gardener is coming back to rebuild our patio, we're replacing our awful old, tatty oven and fridge and we're going to get the bathroom done. Just a few little bits and pieces...

The good news is that most of it can be done asap - the provisional date for the new doors is 5th May, the gardener is looking for cash to set up his own business so he's happy to come as soon as possible and DH is going to do the work we need done in the kitchen to fit a new fridge (it'll be one of the US Style double ones so we need to remove some of the kitchen units). That only leaves the bathroom but I have three different people I can get to quote for it and hopefully that can be scheduled in quickly too.

It'll be fantastic to have it all done so we can really relax and enjoy the house and garden for the summer without breaking our backs trying to do things ourselves or working out how to get the money we need to pay other people.

The only sad part for me is that I'd much rather still have my Stepdad around but I know he'd approve of the changes, especially the garden as he did enjoy gardening (and sitting in gardens watching others work LOL). I told my Mum we'd get a memorial bench with a plaque...

I'm off to IKEA alone tomorrow as DH is going to stay home to do more painting - I'm dropping Lia off at nursery on the way - so I shall be able to buy whatever I fancy :) . We're then off to spend the weekend with my family as I have a quilting course on Saturday and it's my birthday on Sunday. The whole family is going out for lunch on Sunday to celebrate the house sale so that'll be a lovely way to spend my birthday, it's rare that we all get together now as there's a lot of us now us kids are all married and have kids of our own.

On the crafting front there just hasn't been a lot of time for much so far this month but I've managed some stitching and have done most of the cutting for Lia's birthday quilt. All projects will get visited this month but I don't think there'll be a huge amount of progress on some of them.

As for stash, I got a lovely parcel in the post yesterday with two SamSarah Baubles charts, fabric and buttons, Bygone Stitches Quaker Virtues, Sampler Cove Rhapsody in Red Ribbon Sampler and a birthday gift for a friend. My Boo Club charts are on the way as is the first installment of my Baby Jane BOM.

I also went a little bit mad and bought Genny Morrow's Nova which I have coveted for a long time now but always thought a little expensive and bought a few flosses to kit up a Laura J Perin canvas work (which I won't be starting this year because of my rotation but I think stash spending will seriously be curtailed if my job hours decrease).

Added to that my Mother's Day gift finally arrived - A Case for Colour by Gay Ann Rogers - so I now have to think about kitting that up with a colour scheme of my choice. I have to say all the colours on the site are a little tame for me - I'd like to go with yellow/orange/red (no surprise there!) so I think I'll have to wait till I'm in an LNS in a couple of months.

So all in all April is turning out to be a great month for us (touch wood). If I could only stop Lia crying every morning she's dropped off at the nursery I'd be totally happy. She's fine once she's there but every morning she seems to have the separation anxiety she never experienced as a baby. I seems to be constantly bribing and threatening to get her there and it's not a great way to start ones day...

Monday, 6 April 2009

My little grown up!

Monday, 6 April 2009
So here she is, getting all grown up. She'll be four in less than two months now - how time flies!

As well as school in September (which I am ridiculously excited about - I loved school and I hope she does too) she'll be starting ballet classes at the end of this month and Greek school will start properly in September too.

At the moment I'm thinking about whether or not to put her name down for Brownies. I never did Brownies or Guides so I have no experience of it other than I really wanted to be one and I'm worried that I'm only wanting Lia to do it because I never got the chance.

What I don't want to do is become a pushy parent and overload her with activities plus it's not exactly cheap to do all these things. The only thing I do know is that she loves to dance so starting her on that now will be something she loves. The school has a ballet class for under fives but after that there is tap, ballroom, street, modern/disco and jazz so there'll be plenty for her to choose from if she wants to keep on with it.

We went to see friends this weekend who have a daughter of Lia's age and the two girls were playing in a playhouse in the garden with a tea set. We stayed late so it was past Lia's bedtime when we got home but she wouldn't settle. DH went up to see her and she told him she wanted me so I went up and she was trying not to cry so I asked her what was wrong and this was the conversation:

Lia: I broke a cup
Me: What cup sweetie?
Lia: The cup from the tea set
Me: At Sofia's house?
Lia: Yes
Me: Did you tell anyone
Lia: Yes, Sofia
Me: Okay
Lia: But I hid it behind the playhouse
Me: Well that's okay, you're not in trouble

Within about a minute she'd gone to sleep. I only hope that she never has anything bigger she needs to confess or that if she does I can make her feel better so easily!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

March Rotation Photos

Saturday, 4 April 2009
Scream House

Coeur de Brodeuse



C is for Cupcake

Lizzie*Kate Boo Club






Grandma's Thread Minder



Thursday, 2 April 2009


Thursday, 2 April 2009
So we've spent the last two weekends trying to clear the garden a bit more. As an update, here's the back garden as it was when we moved in:

And here's some of the stages it's gone through since then:

So here's what it looks like now. We've spent lots of time trying to get the fence out and all the ivy that was growing next to the patio and clearing it all the way down to the back fence.

We've cleared a lot of the awful bit at the end but we're still left with this:

The pond:

One of the awful stumps

The general awfulness!

And those are the reasons why we're going to have to get professional help! There's just no way that DH and I can clear that lot in any kind of reasonable time. For a start we're busy ever single weekend in April and at least two in May but more importantly we don't know where to start. We spent a lot of time out there last weekend and it's hard to see what we achieved which is soul destroying when we're faced with so much more still to do. I know it's just a matter of plugging away but if we don't get someone in we will lose another summer of being able to enjoy being outside.

All I want is everything that is there now stripped out, a basic fence down the side (just to keep Lia in and to define the boundary) and a rectangle of lawn that Lia can play on. All the planting, veggies, wildlife garden, new patio etc can wait till next year. Lia's desperate to be outside and I hate that I have to watch her every minute and constantly tell her to be careful or no she can't have toys out because it's not safe for her to play.

Anyway, we've almost certainly got somebody to do the work - I have no idea how some tradesmen get on with things as they're so unreliable - my nieces boyfriend who has done this kind of work in the past. It means dipping into our savings (again) but it'll be worth it to see this mess gone and not be depressed every time I look outside. I was even looking at the pics at the beginning of this post and thinking that it looked better in the first one than it does now.

Nevermind that we couldn't actually get into the last 1/4 of it due to the brambles or the ants nests in the lawn etc, at least it was green and flourishing!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Primary School League Tables

Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Okay, I get that I'm not supposed to undertstand these and that they're basically there so the Government can employ people to spew out meaningless data that attempts to make people think they're acually doing something but, and this is a big but, what the hell does the following explanation of the numbers actually mean?

Quoted from the BBC website:

Guide to the primary school tables

The tables show the published results achieved by schools in the Key Stage 2 national curriculum tests in England in May 2008.

Those are the tests pupils are required to sit in the final year of primary school, at the age of 10 or 11.

The tables use the results published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

They include "contextual value added" scores - produced by the department to show how much a school has improved its pupils' achievements since they took their first set of assessments in 2005.

The figures relate to all local authority-maintained primary and middle schools with pupils eligible for assessment at the time of the tests in English, maths and science in May.

They do not include special schools, pupil referral units, hospital schools or independent schools.

What is in the rankings

The schools are listed within each local authority (LA) in three ways: Alphabetically, ranked on the "contextual value added" score, and ranked on the combined or "aggregate" score achieved in the three tests - the maximum possible being 300.

In the rankings, where more than one school has the same score, they are further ranked on the average points scored by pupils (see below for more on how this is calculated).

In the alphabetical LA lists, after the school's name, the first column of figures shows its value added score, then the aggregate score, then the average number of points achieved by pupils.

The results relate to the percentage of the pupils eligible to take the tests who achieved Level 4 or above - the standard expected for their age.

In the contextual value added ranking (CVA), the bold column shows schools' scores.

A CVA score is worked out for each pupil by comparing their Key Stage 2 performance with the middle performance of other pupils with similar prior attainment at Key Stage 1.

The arithmetic mean of these individual scores gives a score for the whole school. This is converted to a number based around 100.

Note: the resulting rankings need treating with care. Official statisticians say the significance that can be attached to different scores depends on various factors, including the numbers of children involved.

For various reasons complete "before and after" scores are not available for all pupils. Where the data are missing for 50% or more of those eligible to take the tests, the value added score is not published.

In the Aggregate (AGG) ranking, the bold column shows the aggregate score on which it is based.

This is a number out of 300 but is not simply the sum of the percentages of pupils achieving the expected level in each subject.

It is derived from the number of pupils achieving at least the expected level, divided by the number eligible to take the test, for each subject, added together and multiplied by 100.

The letters SS signify a small school - with fewer than 11 pupils eligible to take the tests. They are included in the alphabetical lists for completeness but no results are published for them.


Anyone care to try and explain that lot?

April Goals

Stitching Goals
1. Work on Sleigh Ride
2. Work on Heaven's Above
3. Complete Monthly Baubles - March
4. Work on Boo Club - catch up from last month and hopefully complete Pumpkin / Fright (if they arrive in time!)
5. Complete two Snapperbet Letters
6. Work on Cirque des Cercles

Sewing Goals
1. Work on Lia's Quilt
2. Start my Baby Jane quilt blocks which should arrive mid month
3. Make some bags for gifts
4. Finish Lia's curtains

Current Stitching WIP List
1. Lizzie*Kate - Boo! Flip Its
2. Bent Creek - Snapperbets

3. Dimensions - Sleigh Ride
4. Bothy Threads - Row of Christmas Fairies
5. Margaret Sherry - Santa's Journey Afghan
6. Stitchy Kitty - Snowman Trio

7. Shepherd's Bush - Happy Haunting
8. Glendon Place - Murky Manor
9. Just Nan - Scream House
10. Tournicoton - Coeur de Brodeuse
11. The Cat's Whiskers - Birds of a Feather Dilly Bag

12. Just Nan - Four Wishes
13. Michael Powell - Cottage Garden 2
14. Bent Creek - Snapperville Series
15. Ink Circles - Cirque de Cercles
16. Michael Powell - Handmade Houses 4

17. Stoney Creek - Noah's Sub
18. DMC - Wild Ones Alphabet
19. Teresa Wentzler - Tradewinds
20. Dracolair - Dawn Awakening

21. Midsummer Night Designs - Heaven's Above
22. Shepherd's Bush - Be Attitudes Afghan
23. Dragon Dreams - Dragon Virtues Afghan
24. Bothy Threads - Cut Thru Fairy Hill

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