Thursday, 30 June 2011

A Quilt Top!

Thursday, 30 June 2011
Well that's the top done. It's taken a bit longer than I thought as all those star points were a pain. Simple enough to sew but they meant that blocks had different size logs on the outside layer depending on their position in the quilt and I had to make sure I didn't sew the triangles the wrong way around so I actually had to concentrate. I managed really well up until the last two logs this afternoon both of which I had to unpick LOL.

Anyway I love this, it's totally me! Although I'll have to fight DH for it as he wants it too. I saw the pattern in the book (Jelly Roll Quilts, Pam and Nicky Lintott) and the versions in there are pale florals with white or cream stars but it instantly shouted at me as the right one for this jelly roll as long as I used black for the stars.

The book calls for a border around the logs and I'm not sure yet if I'll bother, I may just bind it in black. I have some jelly strips left over so I'm thinking of putting some squares together for the backing - I think I have a plan but I'll need to think about it a bit more. Plus I need more fabric for the back whatever I do and that won't be bought for a while.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Even more books

Wednesday, 29 June 2011
Just a fly by to note this weeks reads. Bedknobs and Broomsticks by Mary Norton (who knew? I read The Borrowers as a kid but never realised this was by her too. Or that it was two books).

The Prodigal Sister - Laura Elliot. Fab girly read, finished it off in 24 hrs which is something of a record for me these days!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Can you tell what it is yet?

Monday, 27 June 2011
No prizes - it's not exactly hard LOL.

Here's a taste of the blocks (there are 16 all together) with two rounds of logs.  There's one more round of logs to go but the last round have to be 'modified' a bit so that's the next step.

The colours are much bolder in real life (yes really they are!) I'll try and get the next pic in daylight hours.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

A quilt started...

Sunday, 26 June 2011
Well I've made a resolution to get one project made from each craft book I own by this time next year.  This isn't quite as ridiculous as it sounds as I only have around 20 books (yes really, that few!)  They are all either quilting or sewing project books so no cross stitch is included in this challenge. To be honest I have no idea if I'll manage it or not - the idea is that each project I do has to be completely finished - so all quilts quilted, etc and, as far as is possible, I have to make each project using my current stash.

To this end I've started my first project from my 'Jelly Roll Quilts' book.  I had a Moda Marbles citrus jelly roll that I wanted to use but was two colours short so when I met up with some friends yesterday I bought two long quarters of additional colours so I could get going.

So here are my fabrics:

And here are my cut pieces:

Now all I have to do is sew them all together!

Monday, 20 June 2011

This weekend I...

Monday, 20 June 2011
- Had new friends over for dinner
- Laughed a lot
- Agreed to be a school Governor
- Got a little further down my new career path
- Cooked two great meals
- Played Angry Birds
- Got excited about Wimbledon starting
- Stash dived and realised I have so many projects I want to start
- Behaved myself and didn't start any of them
- Got motivated to finish up some more WIPs so I can start some new projects
- Spoiled DH on behalf of the kids
- Got annoyed we're out of cash for the month
- Had fun with the kids at home
- Was impressed by Lia's reading progress
- Had lots of cuddles with Connor who was a bit off colour (but is better now)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sunday stuff

Sunday, 19 June 2011
Thanks for all your recent comments on my WIPs and finish.  I am hoping to get 4 Wishes completed this month and then go back to focussing on some other WIPs that are close to finishing and just get them done.  My plan to do some 'finish finishing' this month hasn't really happened so that may be moved to next month as well.

In answer to the comment question back on the Cottage Garden WIP, I usually stitch using q snaps.  I've never stitched in a hoop and I do have some large wooden frames but I haven't used those since Lia was born as I need my stand for them and it was just easier not to have that around with a toddler.  I stitch in hand very rarely but I am a bit unusual in that I don't like closing the q snap around stitching (I never wash my finished items) so I can often be seen stitching with a frame that only has a couple of sides of the fabric clipped down.

Work wise I should have some answers this week as I have a meeting on Tuesday to discuss my options.  I was worried last week as we were told that there would be absolutely no redundancy, if we didn't like the changes and wouldn't be flexible then we could just leave.  To be fair I was pretty sure this wasn't legal but I was waiting until I had my own meeting to hear it officially.  However we are now being told that redundancy is available although it is absolutely the last option.  That makes me feel better because I was worried that there was a chance I'd end up with no job and no pay off after 10 years.

The bare facts are that if they don't allow me to work at home two days a week or stay at my current base I cannot afford to continue to work as the childcare costs will be more than my wages.  It's totally simple and non-negotiable as far as I am concerned.  In order to pay for Lia to have after school care I have to pay less for Connor and the only way to do that is to work from home and have him with me, not at nursery.

I absolutely do not want to work 1 hour away from my children but it would only be for two years so I would do it.

I have spoken to my friend (as mentioned in my work moan post) as we had her and her partner over for dinner on Friday.  She was Headmistress at Lia's school until Christmas when she left to take charge of a brand new school (at that point it was an empty field!)  We always got on but it's only since she left that we've been able to start a proper friendship rather than a professional one.  I can't believe it's taken me this long to find out she stitches for a start LOL.

So it doesn't take a genius to work out what career I'm thinking of if I'm talking to a Headmistress right?  It looks like it might work out as I'd hoped too.  I'm going to start as a Teaching Assistant as with Connor so small I cannot train as a teacher just yet but the idea is start there, get some experience and once he's bigger and going to school himself then I can look at training to be a teacher.

I'm very excited about it all at the moment and there's a part of me wishes I didn't have to wait so long to get moving but my salary will drop by more than a third when I make this move and there's no way we could pay the required nursery fees so I just have to be patient and, in the mean time, there are some courses I can do to get prepared.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

More book finishes

Saturday, 18 June 2011
I've been on a bit of a roll reading wise and have finished the following books:

One Day by David Nicholls.  I really enjoyed this book - it tells the story of a relationship between Emma and Dexter who meet at Uni.  The book visits their lives on the same day of the year (15th July) from 1988 until close to the present and is just fab.  Even the ending was not one I saw coming.  No spoilers, just get yourself a copy and enjoy.

The Other Family - Joanna Trollope.  Another one I enjoyed (although not as much as One Day).  It starts with the death of a father who leaves behind a partner and three daughters plus a wife he never divorced despite leaving her 24 years previously and their son.  It's about the problems the two families having coming to terms with the existence of each other while dealing with their grief.  Not to taxing on the brain but a gentle read.

The Trouble with Magic - Madelyn Alt.  I'd never realised there was a chiclit/magic genre out there (although why shouldn't there be!) but I read a review of a book on another blog and checked it out on Amazon, followed the 'customers who bought this book also bought..' link and got me some.  This one I didn't enjoy too much.  It wasn't bad but I like my magic out there in the fantasy range, this one was too based in white witches, and voices of the dead for me.  It's the first in a series but I don't think I'm likely to read more.

Enchanted Inc - Shanna Swendson.  This one on the other hand I loved!  The story centres on Katie and her discovery that she is totally immune to magic (which explains why she sees fairies and gnomes and gargoyles in New York).  She gets a job at MSI Inc - a magical company that needs her skills to make sure they aren't being cheated by the spells of others.  It's very lighthearted chic lit but I enjoyed it enough to buy and read the next three books!  So Once Upon Stilettos, Damsels Under Stress and Don't Hex with Texas have also been read taking my total reads so far to 22.

My only gripe is that there is no plan for a fifth book in the series as book 4 didn't sell well enough.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Bag Finish

Friday, 17 June 2011
This is the bag I completed just before going away.  It's actually not completed as I was one covered button short but I think I'm the only one what will notice until I get round to getting another.

It's Bunny Hill Designs 'Jelly Bag' made using Moda's Spring Fever

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Cottage Garden 2 WIP

Thursday, 16 June 2011
Another WIP update - I've been stitching a lot on this one despite having a major problem with the symbols on the chart which led to some serious frogging as I didn't realise there were two different colours both using the 'L' symbol.  I was not happy!

Here's how it was last update.  You can see that I'd followed the yellow from the church up to the top of the sky - I was obviously not paying much attention when doing it but when I went back and thought it looked odd I dug out the pic and realised the mistake. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

4 Wishes WIP Update

Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Well I had a totally fabulous weekend away with ten other stitchers.  Not that I expected anything else of course, this was our fifth annual weekend away and I'm sure we laughed even more than we have in previous years.  Last year I took a very small Connor with me and got very little done but this year I went alone and managed a pretty significant amount of stitching on 4 Wishes.  I'd almost completed winter when I posted my last update pic so I'm well on the way to a finish!

Apologies it's a bit washed out.  The weather is dull and overcast here and I just can't get a better pic.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Away for the Weekend

Thursday, 9 June 2011
I'm off first thing tomorrow for my annual stitching weekend away.  There's 11 of us going this year so a few less than previous years but still more than enough to have plenty of fun.  I'll be back Monday lunchtime so will post some pics then - I finished up a bag last night but haven't yet taken a pic.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Long Job Waffle!

Monday, 6 June 2011
Well after weeks and weeks of lovely sunshine the weather has turned a bit glum here. To be fair, we are used to weeks and weeks of rain so we shouldn't complain but we've been a bit spoiled recently.  I'm not normally particularly bothered by rain (unless it's freezing and windy as well) but where we go stay for our stitching weekend away has a lovely courtyard that we can sit out in so sunny would be good.

I'm so on the countdown to going away - I'll be leaving Friday morning early to go pick up one of the others and then we'll head off to a pub lunch and a detour to a not-so-LNS before arriving at the cottages around mid afternoon.  From then on it's total stitchy bliss until Monday morning!

Another bonus of the weekend is that it means a four day working week for me both this week and next which is great because I've gone past 'not enjoying' my job and moved fully into hating it.  I've been here almost 10 years and to begin with it was great - lots of projects to keep me busy and interested, always looking into new technology, meeting customers, solving problems for them and generally being happy.  Then I got pregnant and took 6 months maternity and the job I came back to wasn't the same at all.  I had trained up a junior member of the team to keep things ticking over but she didn't have the skill to do what I did, my work didn't buy in proper cover, and our customers went elsewhere so by the time I got back there was less work. 

I work for the NHS which is ever changing - I've sat at the same desk doing the same job for the same boss all the time I've been here but I've actually been employed by five different organisations.  Within the last five years the focus has been on amalgamating organisations so every time they merged potential customers became less to the point that around 2.5 years ago I was in line for redundancy.  I wasn't bothered, I even got a new job lined up, but then someone new was put in charge and she wanted my skills so I was back being gainfully employed.

But then I got pregnant again and this time took 9 months off.  I've returned to find that I've been moved to another team because 'it makes sense'.  Sure if you look at my job title it makes sense that I, as a Web Developer, am part of the Web Team but I work specifically with Microsoft technology and the Web Team work with Apple and open source.  So in fact, it makes no sense at all because what they do I don't have the skills for and what I used to do is now being done by someone else in my old team (yes, the junior I trained, who still comes to me when she has any problems because she's out of her depth a lot of the time).

In addition to the technology issue, my new 'team' consists of my Manager and one other and neither of them are really around so I'm now in splendid isolation, although still in the same office so at least have my old colleagues around me.  For now.  Because that's the next thing that's happening, we're going to move offices.  I currently work 30 mins from home but the new offices are 1 hour away.  I've told them I cannot work out of the new offices full time because I cannot (and will not) put Lia in after school care five days a week, we do not have the money.  What I can do is work from home two days a week and the money we save on Connor's nursery fees will pay for Lia to do after school club on the other three days.  I'm not happy with this arrangement but I could live with it in the short term.  I did request one or two days a week working out of my current office but I have no idea how flexible my employers are likely to be.

So there is, yet again, a chance of redundancy (if they don't agree to my working from home I cannot afford to work out of the new base).  I'd actually be over the moon with redundancy but I think I'm now in the position of having been here too long for them to afford to pay me off so I'm more likely to be shunted around even more than I have been.

All of which has focussed my mind on looking for alternative employment.  And not necessarily in IT.  I would say I never chose IT as a career but that's not strictly true as I did a Masters in Computing but only because I never really knew what I wanted and I had to do something to move on with my life at that point in time.  The best thing that came out of the course was meeting DH.  Oh and that I doubled my previous salary when I got my first job after graduation.

I've never really had any idea of a career - I know what subjects I enjoyed at school (Georgraphy and Chemistry) but I got pulled away from those for various reasons that made sense at the time (but not so much looking back now) and since then I've kind of drifted.  Of course I now have to work around the kids and their needs as, first and foremost, I am a Mum and that's the only job that matters to me.  What I don't want is to not work (I've said it before, I'm not designed to be a stay at home Mum) but I do want to be around for a good part of their day.

So I have to decide whether to stick at this job for the next ten years and see Connor through Primary school education (as long as this job is available of course) or to make a move soon.  Obviously redundancy will make the decision for me but I have pretty much come to the conclusion that, redundancy or not, I will look to make a career change over the next two or three years.  That timescale is kind of set because I have to be earning a certain amount to cover Connor's humungous nursery fees until he's 3 at which point we get some Government funding that assists with them.  Sticking where I am till he goes to Secondary school will mean that I will be looking for a career change at the age of 50.  Yes 50.  I think I'm pushing it now so I know that in 10 years time a career change will more than likely be impossible.

I need to do a bit more research into my options - I do have a plan but I need to have a good long talk with a particular friend to see if it's actually something I can do - but I think that if I have a goal and a firm-ish kind of escape plan it'll be easier for me to drag myself to my desk every day... 

Friday, 3 June 2011

And the Winner is...

Friday, 3 June 2011

Can you send me your address please, my email is joy dot anderson at gmail dot com.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

May roundup

Thursday, 2 June 2011
A day late but with good reason...
1. Blog more - Another month with the equivalent of a post every other day
2. No stash purchases - Yep
3. Reduce my stitching WIP list - I made good progress on Cottage Garden 2 but no finishes in May
4. No new stitching starts in the first half of the year - check
5. Find the quilting bug again and reduce my quilting WIPs - not much sewing done in May unfortunately
6. Read at least 50 books - 4 read
7. Reduce the clutter in the house - again not much done this month
8. Lose weight - due to medication I am unable to lose weight fast but I have totally changed my eating habits, stopped snacking and given up fizzy drinks and have lost 2lb in the first 12 days of the new regime
9. Stick to the household budget and find ways to reduce expenditure - budget was blown in April so May had to be austere
10. Work on the garden - again not much

So not a bad month as goals were met but not much was actually achieved.  I think we basically spent May recovering from April LOL.

June should be more productive - next weekend is my annual weekend away with stitchy friends so that's two full days of uninterrupted stitchy time for a start. Well, when I say uninterrupted, I should perhaps point out that sometimes on these weekends (this is our 5th) I laugh so hard I can barely hold the needle let alone get it through the fabric...

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Happy 6th Birthday Lia!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Yes No 1 Dort is 6 today - where did those years go?

We've had a lovely day - the four of us went to London and did some shopping - her grandparents gave her money so we let her spend it on her choices (with a bit of guidance of course LOL) and she bought herself some new Crocs (pink!) and a Rapunzel doll, a charm bracelet and a couple of toys (Zoobles and Littlest Petshop).

We all had lunch together and then DH brought Connor home while I took Lia to her surprise present from us - The Wizard of Oz!  Lia loved it and I thought it was pretty good - definitely not the best I've seen (you want an Oz story, go see Wicked!) but the staging was absolutely amazing.  My biggest issue was that Michael Crawford is seriously under-used but the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion were great and the Wicked Witch of the West was amazing.

After that I took her to Hamleys (7 floors of toys) where we spent two hours looking at toys, having our faces painted and our nails done.  Total girlie bliss.  Then it was a Macdonalds tea and a quick hop on the tube to see Big Ben (her wish) and then a walk along the Thames to Waterloo station and the train home.  We left home at 9am this morning and the two of us got back at 10pm tonight!!!!

We've just chivvied her off to bed and I won't be long as I'm at work tomorrow.  Given our late return we haven't done the draw for the giveaway but I will do it tomorrow I promise.  Here's a few pics from the day

Birthday girl this morning:

At the tube station (yes Connor is walking now):

My boys!

How big is Big Ben really?

Face painting


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