Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Decorum.... I has it

The peelie-walliness I referred to in my last post was in relation to a lingering lurgy which has been afflicting both PP and I for the past 7 days.

Similar to norovirus in its explosive symptoms I first came down with it in the early hours of Thursday morning last week.  In the interests of decorum, I will refrain from a blow by blow account but when I mentioned it on FB, one of my friends commented:

Andy Houstoun Oh no... I'm picturing you sitting on the loo with your head in a bucket. Hope you feel better soon. Xx

25 May at 12:25

Sandra Morris Andy... that was EXACTLY the picture at 1.30am this morning. Still feeling fragile but at least I can be more than 5 feet away from the bathroom for longer than 10 minutes 

25 May at 12:51
By Saturday I was feeling better, although still under par and expected, quite reasonably I thought, that the worst was behind me *no pun intended*

However, around 2am yesterday morning I woke with a sense of urgency, which propelled me at speed into our gleaming new shower room, where I took up residence for the next few hours. Again, decorum prevents me from describing the scene.  Suffice to say it wasn't pretty.

I did try going back to bed at several points in the wee, small hours, but sleep was impossible as every 10-15 minutes I relentlessly ploughed a lonely furrow from bed to loo, mostly at a brisk trot *again, no pun intended*    At the risk of breaching my self-imposed decorum law, I have to say that not all of these dashes were timely... and as the hours of darkness gradually morphed into the faint light of dawn, a pile of bagged-up PJs formed on the shower room floor.

By 7am, I was reduced to wearing the abandoned PJ bottoms from the depths of my sleepwear drawer. The really, REALLY baggy ones, which end above my ankles, have no elastic in the waist and make me look like a clown.  Although, to be fair, sartorial elegance wasn't high on my list of priorities by that time.

PP helpfully suggested that she could attempt to fashion me a giant nappy, using some of the old towels we've retired from service since the new shower room was installed but I declined.  Loss of dignity is one thing, becoming a laughing stock is quite another.

Throughout the night, as I rocked and moaned, occasionally a small, furry head appeared round the door to assess the situation, then quickly withdrew, beating a hasty retreat to her bed.

I don't blame her.  At one point, deciding that going back to bed between 'episodes' was pointless, I rolled up a big, new, fluffy bath towel into a pillow and tried to sleep 'in situ' in the shower room, resting my head on the washbasin, sick bucket suspended between my knees in an improvised towel hammock.

It didn't work.

In the morning I called our GP's surgery.

Receptionist: *brightly* Good morning... this is ******** speaking, how may I help you?
Me: *exhausted* I'll keep this brief as I'm going to have to go at any minute, but I need some advice.

I quickly described my predicament, again forgoing many of the details for sake of the aforementioned decorum, and asked if I could speak to someone as it was going to be impossible for me to leave the house to attend the surgery.

Receptionist: *clearly grossed out by my symptoms, despite the heavy layers of decorum* We have no doctor's appointments available to yourself today.
Me: *exasperated* I don't WANT an appointment!  I want to talk to someone there... maybe one of the nurses for some advice on what I can take.
R: I, myself, am not clinically trained, so I cannot offer advice to yourself.
Me: I appreciate that.  Can I speak to someone, ANYONE, who IS clinically trained then.
R: Computer says no.  Unfortunately I have no triage calls remaining for today.  Is it urgent?
Me: *conscious of an increasing lower abdominal urgency* You could say that.  Please, I just want some advice.
R: *slowly, as though talking to a child* As I have already told yourself, I am not clinical....
Me:*interrupting, through gritted teeth* I. Need. Advice.  
R: If I may, can I suggest to yourself that you ring your pharmacist and describe your *shudder* symptoms.  If they think that you should see a GP then you may call back and I will see if there is any possibility of an emergency phone call to yourself.
Me:  That's it, is it?  Ring the pharmacy.
R: Is there anything else I can help yourself with....?
Me:*with heavy sarcasm*  Help?  Oh no... you've been INCREDIBLY helpful.
R: *chirpily* Thank you... have a nice day.

Thankfully, our regular pharmacist was more helpful, initially suggesting Loperamide (generic Immodium) which I had already tried during the night, to no avail.  Then she mentioned Enterosgel, which she claimed binds to toxins and pathogens in the gut and removes them.  Having ascertained that it was available over the counter, PP set off to get some (HOW MUCH?!?) along with industrial quantities of disinfectant and Lucozade.

While PP was on her mercy mission, I Googled Enterosgel, and sure enough, it is described as "an innovative intestinal adsorbent, developed for binding toxins, allergens, pathogens and other harmful substances in the GE tract, and removing them from the body"  It is an organosilicon compound-polymethylsiloxane polyhydrate with a porous structure and gel-like consistency.


It's a bit like transparent toothpaste in a tube which is mixed with water then drunk.  It's colourless, odourless and tasteless but has an odd chalky texture.  I suppose the best I can say is that it's not actively unpleasant.

Whether it was the Enterosgel, or the fact that after 9 straight hours of 'forced evacuation' I was effectively empty, gradually over the course of the day I was able to spend more time out of the shower room than in it.  I even managed a few hours sleep in the afternoon, albeit subliminally alert to every grumble and gurgle in my beleaguered digestive system which might herald another toilet dash.

Exhausted, I mostly slept through last night, with only a few nocturnal excursions and this morning I'm wobbily vertical, feeling as though I'm waking up from a bad dream.
It's tempting to think that the lurgy is finally going, but having had two bouts in the space of one week I'm not counting any chickens just yet.

So there you have it.  And in the words of the invariably late, undoubtedly great, Australian cultural attache, Sir Les Patterson:

" Decorum?  I've got decorum coming out my arse!"

In my case, quite literally.....

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Forget Iron Iron Woman!

First off I have an admission to make.  Actually, come to think of it.... NOT an admission, as that suggests an element of guilt.

I'll rephrase.

I have a declaration to make.

I. Hate. Ironing.

There. I've said it.  

It's dull
It's boring
It's repetitive
It's ultimately pointless


I do seem to do a lot of it... for work purposes.  And as a result my workroom iron has a lot to contend with.  I last changed it in January 2010....that's over 7 years ago.  I blogged about it HERE, if you're interested in irons.  Although why you should be defies all sense and logic.

Anyway, I have spent a large chunk of this afternoon attempting to clean my workroom iron.

It was never going to end well.

As I said, my workroom iron has to cope with a lot..... glue, iron-on Vilene, Bondaweb, and a bewildering array of fabrics, from pure silks through to organdie ribbon.  Most materials I use are extremely fine and delicate, and therefore require a very low temperature.  However, occasionally I have to whack up the heat in order to smooth out a particularly obstinate piece of fabric, and it was while I was doing just that earlier, that the non-stick pad which is wrapped around my square ironing board, melted completely onto the non-stick surface of my iron.


I'm no expert on non-stick surfaces.  I don't know what they're made of or what complicated molecular polymer chains are needed to give them the requisite properties.  However, I do know that I expect them to be non-stick.  

Just to definition of 'non-stick' is something that doesn't stick to anything and nothing sticks to it.

I'm tending to give the benefit of the doubt to the iron.  Despite the fact that it was instrumental in causing the initial gooey, sticky mess which the non-stick ironing pad  transformed into, with just one light touch.  It's an iron.  It's meant to get hot.

The full force of my wrath was reserved for the ironing pad.  It surely should be capable of withstanding the heat of a hot iron.  Nowhere on the original packaging did it say "Only suitable for extremely low temperature ironing".  

It's an ironing board cover. It's meant to be ironed on!

Not only did it melt onto the soleplate of my iron, it also stuck thoroughly onto the board, necessitating me going at it with a screwdriver and Stanley knife to get the rock-hard stuff off.

After that I couldn't face tackling the iron, so left it to cool down completely before assessing the damage.  At first, some of the melted pad did peel off quite easily, but my initial delight soon turned to frustration as most of it seemed to have transmogrified into a completely new-to-science material which had apparently melded itself INTO the metal. 

I started off gently, with a non-scratch sponge scourer and a minuscule amount of non-scratch cream cleaner which made not a jot of difference.  I then graduated to a wire scourer and a more generous application of cream cleaner.  Finally I took to hacking at the hardened, blackened gunge with a selection of tools which were most definitely NOT non-scratch.... scalpel blades, pokey needle tool thing, screwdrivers, even coarse sandpaper.

After over an hour I have eventually managed to chip off the worst of it, but the iron will never be the same again.


I've accepted that I may have to replace the iron, depending on how it performs with some fine silk ribbon tomorrow.  However I most definitely need to replace the ironing pad, preferably one made with a non-melting, properly non-stick, fit for purpose fabric. 

Have I mentioned that I don't like ironing.......? 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Mistress of all she surveys......

We've all felt a bit peely-wally this week after succuming to a bout of spring norovirus.  Even Small Dog has been pale and wan, eschewing several of her breakfast and dinners and taking herself off to bed early.

So a bit of impetus on the house stuff has been lost, although I have been sewing stuff other than bunting.

Inevitably though, we've all been feeling a bit meh.  So in an odd 10 minutes the other day I clicked through to do an online survey.

One Poll surveys are usually quite quick and quirky, and this one was no exception.

It was about pets, and having discovered that we have a dog the first few questions followed a well-trodden path, asking her age, what breed she is and so on, but by Q9 things took an unexpected turn

I sensed a small, furry presence beside me, and looked down to find Small Dog, looking at me appraisingly.

Me:  Ah.  You're here.
SD:*enigmatically*  Yes

SD:  (having managed to jump onto my lap, all the better to see it with)  So.... ai kude have a twittur and instergram paij too?
Me: Well... yes.  But FB is the best platform for you.

SD regards me sceptically, eyebrows raised.

SD *triumphantly* Do yue remembur the dai that mai paij gott moar lieks than Towr Hows Dols?
Me: Yes.  Yes I do.  
SD: We hadd a manijmint meeten abowt itt.  Yue wudent lett me hav a selfy stik.
Me: No.  No we wouldn't.  And let that be an end to the matter.

SD:Thai do liek to rubb it in...doant thay?
Me: It's only a survey SD.
SD: Ah yess... butt itts orl abowt the zytgiste tho.... 
Me: *non-commitally* Hmmmm....

SD: *incredulously*  Ai kannot evin bileev itt!  
Me:*defensively* Yes... well... I don't always have the time to post on your page.  
SD *accusingly*  Harrumph

SD: Ai shude thinc so too

SD: *mollified* Ah yes.... rumpstake.  Mai faivorit.  Ai must addmitt... birthdais ar kwite gude.

SD: *glances up to the right of my chair* 

SD: *incredulously*  In a HANDBAG?!
Me: *laughing* SD... you sound just like Lady Bracknell!
SD: *witheringly* Ai due KNOTT sownd liek Laidee Barknell.

Me:*warningly* This is all hypothetical SD.  
SD:*ecstatically* O. Mai. Dogg!!!!  Ai kude be yure brydsmayd AND Besst Dog.  Plus ai kude karry the rings in mai fathefull jaws.
Me: *brusquely* Not going to happen SD.  As I said.  Hypothetical.

SD: *emphatically*  Ai am glad yue sed that.  As yue kno I konsider marrij to be a patriarkl konstrukt deesined for the subjewgashun of women.
Me: Absolutely SD! 

SD:*disdainfully* Ai do, of korse, kneed a kote for bad wethur.  The tootoo was a stepp to farr thoe.....

Me:*placatingly* It was an embellishment to your WASPI costume.  You looked lovely in it on the Day of Action.  Everyone said so.  Plus you were helping to raise awareness of the foul calumny perpetrated on your mothers in respect of the appalling injustice surrounding moving the state pension goalposts for women born in the 1950s.
SD: Ah.  Well.  Yes.  In that kais.  Kno problemo.

SD: *emphatically* Well yes... off korse! 

SD: *nodding*  Kwite rite too.  I hait shoppen.  Plus thay poot barbykew twice.

SD: *sniffily*  Ai am SHURE ai hav moar than 11-15 tois.  Yue keap hyden them in my akkewtriments baskit.  Espeshallie the skweekie wuns.
Me: You would get bored with the same toys all the time.  Anyway... you mostly just run and hide them up the garden then forget about them.

SD: *accusingly*  Whie did yue knott tik orl of them?
Me: SMALL DOG!!!  You hate water, I hate bungalows, you DO have a personal heater as nobody can get near the woodburner when you lie in front of it AND you had a dog flap and refused point blank to use it.  End. Of.
SD: *moodily* Suppoas so.......

SD: *scornfully*  THATT is a stewpid kweshtun!  
Me: We are in complete agreement on that, SD.
SD: Ai am mutsch moar lieklie to byte yue if ai DOANT hav enuff attenshun.
Me: *lovingly*  SD.... that will NEVER happen.


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Sneak preview.....

I'm sure some of you are thinking....

"Well, Sandra... it's all very well and good all this DIY and house stuff, but when are you actually going to do some REAL work?!?!?!"

Good question.
Very perceptive.
Gets right to the nub of the matter.

And my response would be ...

"WTF?  I only have one pair of hands and can only be in one place at any given time.  
Bunting don't make themselves you know!

However, in my defence, although I haven't been able to spend an entire day in the workroom since the whole shower room/bedrooms mallarkey makeover began, I have been sneaking in there for the odd hour or so in an attempt to hang on to what remains of my sanity.

I've been working on my swansong workshop pack.  Yes, you heard it here first folks.  I'm using the next 11 months to completely re-organise and gradually wind down Tower House Dolls. Thereafter it will cease to exist.

I will continue my creative life in some other form but next year THD will be 30 years old.


And next year I will be 60 years old.


And yes, there is a pleasing synchronicity to having lived half my life doing something I love so much.  But I feel it is time to move on.

So, over the coming year there will be a variety of swansong projects, all leading towards a grand finale, around the time of my birthday.

Anyways, this last ever workshop pack will be a doozer.  It will be ready for release this autumn and will be limited to just TEN packs.   I posted in February last year about my plans and my Rule of Ten for kits and I've stuck to it since.

So, just ten it shall be.

I can't reveal the whole thing, as it is still a work in progress, but here is a sneaky, sneak preview.....

L'atelier de la Poupée Vignette
Some time ago now, I commissioned this 1/12th vignette kit from Nick Day of Treacle Lane
(he also supplied kits for my Parisian Kiosk workshop at CMW last October, and the      
wonderful Travelling Toy Theatre Cart kits which I've used for Little Red Riding Hood)

It's been a l-o-n-g while in the planning, as I want it to be very special, but over time I've been 
gradually working on all the many, many elements which will will be included with it.

The laser cut wooden vignette can be decorated as you wish (lots of options will be available) 
and will be filled to overflowing with all manner of miniature delights to create a miniature 
dollmaker's workroom, including all furnishings and accessories... and dolls.  Lots of different 
tiny dolls.

I'm really quite excited about it, and will reveal more information as it develops so watch this

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Good for what ails me......

We all know the feeling.

Despite our best efforts, things keep getting out of hand.  Small, insignificant problems multiply and coalesce to form a seemingly insurmountable cat's cradle of 'buggrits'.  

Well, today that's me that is.

Can't progress with the nursing chair project until the upholstery tacks arrive.
Haven't got the energy to start painting the bedroom.
Feeling a bit meh and demotivated.

So, today I'm taking a sabbatical and shall be doing what restores my happy.



I'm going to make BUNTING!

I don't know why I didn't think of it before.  I've been scouring the internet trying to find a suitable wall frieze for Gigglefidget's room makeover.  I even resorted to messaging an Ebay seller in the US who has a roll of vintage wallpaper border for sale to see if they could see their way to sending it by ordinary airmail delivery, instead of having it hand delivered by a fairy riding a relay team of golden unicorns.  Or at least that's the mode of delivery which the completely extortionate cost of shipping suggested.  

They didn't respond.


BUNTING!  Yayyyy!!!

I have several large pieces of the wonderful fabric leftover from altering the curtains, which feature perfect, bunting-sized character illustrations.

I've blogged about my bunting obsession before (most notably HERE!)  I'm not talking about slipshod slapdash bunting, cut out of fabric using pinking shears.

Or even, perish the thought, cut from printed card and stapled onto a length of ribbon.

No by no nonny no!

The bunting of which I speak is carefully measured, lovingly cut, beautifully lined, meticulously turned and pressed, perfectly aligned then finally painstakingly stitched into cotton twill tape.  The entire process makes my heart sing.

So.... today I shall mostly be making bunting.

Monday, 22 May 2017


Actually.... in all honesty, buggrit doesn't even come close.  Neither does 'tired'.
It's now exactly two weeks since work started on our shower room and the house descended into complete chaos.  

There's good news and bad news.

The good news is that the dust has settled.
The bad news is that it's over every horizontal surface in the house.

As of Thursday last week, work on the shower room was finally finished, following the installation of a second shower unit after the first one didn't work.  It's really lovely.... all new and shiny and joy to behold.

However, the mess and upset throughout the rest of house has intensified tenfold, as we're going to tackle three of the bedrooms. 

I decided to start with the smallest one first, which will be our little granddaughter's room when she comes to stay.  It's very small, tiny really, but I've spent most of the past 6 days failing to get it finished.  

I'll gloss over the half a day I struggled to get my overlocking machine to play ball in order to cut down a spare single duvet and alter a duvet cover to make a cot-sized duvet and pillowcase set.  

Similarly, I'll sidestep the issues around re-upholstering the little nursing chair, which seemed like a good idea at the time.  I've stopped swearing at it for the time being but only while I wait for a pack of upholstery tacks to arrive through the post.

Altering a pair of curtains to fit took the best part of a whole day as I had to deconstruct then re-construct them, hand sew then carefully press and hang them, although they do now look absolutely lovely.

Making my own chalk paint seemed like a good idea at the time too, but I wish I'd stuck to Annie Sloan's as the organgey pine dressing table and EIGHT drawers *sigh* took four coats of paint instead of just two, so that was another two whole days.

It just seems that EVERY task I tackle, no matter how small, ends up taking loads more time than I anticipate, or something goes badly wrong, which further saps my flagging energy and enthusiasm.

Anyways.... I'll probably manage to get the chair finished on Thursday when the tacks arrive. Plus tomorrow I'll make some cushions.... love a bit of cushion making.  

However as next weekend is a Bank Holiday I'm intending Doing. Absolutely. Nothing.

No painting
No sewing
No upholstering
No cleaning

No matter the weather it will be a supremely LAZY weekend.  I can hardly wait.....

In the meantime I'm going to revisit my To Do list....

Monday, 15 May 2017

Tether. End of.....

Day 8 in the Robsack Avenue house and things are going from bad to worse. 

This may be primarily because we're flagging physically, mentally and emotionally, after over a week of moving stuff from A to B, then to D, then back to B, then to C......  yes it really has been that tortuous.

The good news is that the big futon/bunk high sleeper bed sold on Saturday when a very nice chap came along, saw it, bought it, dismantled it, loaded it onto the roof of his car and took it away.   Which then left space to move my lovely desk from the smallest spare bedroom, into the second smallest spare bedroom, freeing up the smallest spare bedroom to be transformed into a lovely room for our little granddaughter, aka Gigglefidget.

An 'orange' pine dressing table from the second smallest spare room has been moved into the smallest spare room, in preparation for a chalk paint makeover, along with a lovely little antique nursing chair, the ornate back of which I've repaired, and removed the tattered upholstery.  It too will be upcycled and I have some lovely fabric with which to re-upholster the seat.

So far, so exhausting.

The plumbers left on Friday afternoon, having installed the shower and toilet, leaving just the extractor fan, wash basin and illuminated mirror to finish off today.  Along with any snagging we discovered over the weekend.

We then had to paint one and a half walls, which PP carried out over Saturday and Sunday, as well as attempting to cover up the water stains on the sitting room ceiling.

We had been so looking forward to trying out the shower on Saturday morning, in our gleaming shower room, all shiny and new.


For some reason the water pressure was so low that only a trickle emerged from the shiny new shower head, so showering was next to impossible.  Similarly, on close inspection there were several other things which weren't quite right (16 to be exact!)  including a squeaky loo seat, some gaps in the grouting, and a patch of clear silicone mastic on the bedroom carpet, in plain view right inside the door, despite their use of dust sheets.

He's back again today, huffing slightly at the length of the snagging list.  Although when we demonstrated the trickle from the shower he readily agreed it was pathetic and after lengthy investigations he's decided to replace the shower valve completely.

Other excitement today arrived in the form of next door's extremely lively beagle puppy who managed to somehow get into our 'dogproof' garden, presumably by scaling the fence. When we spotted him he was frantically running round and round the garden, jumping off walls and over shrubs and plants, trying to get home.  I tried to catch him but he was having none of it, so we had to call in his owner to retrieve him.  He's a big, strong dog for an 8 month old puppy, and I've seen her running along behind him while 'walking him' down the road. Small Dog, who regularly 'talks' to him through the hedge quickly made herself scarce when she realised he was bounding around the garden, and when he was led through the house she bravely remained in her basket in the office as he bounced off the walls on his way out.

In other news, I've cleared off the dining room table to make room for my sewing machine as over the next few days I'll be altering an amazing pair of curtains for Gigglefidget's room, as well as making a duvet cover, cushion covers and cot bumper.


Just over 2 weeks left in this month and we'd recklessly assumed that most of the refurb/makeover works would be done and dusted by the end of May.  However I don't think that will happen.   Almost all of my 'get up and go' has got up and left so I'll have to carefully ration my remaining, rapidly diminishing energy reserves in order to avoid an MS flare up, which could take months to recover from.

So at the moment I'm just gritting my teeth and repeating the following mantra:

It will all be lovely when it's finished.  
It WILL all be lovely when it's finished. 
It will ALL be lovely when it's finished.
It will all be LOVELY when it's finished.
It will all be lovely WHEN it's finished.
It will all be lovely when it's FINISHED!!!!!

Now where did I put that corkscrew.........

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Can't see the wood for the trees......

Day 3 in the Robsack Avenue house.

Small Dog, Sandra and PP are holed up in the office, while work continues on the shower room.  

Small Dog is unused to the house resounding to the noise of heavy duty power tools, hammers and burly men barreling up and down the stairs.  Not to mention their dubious tasted in music.  

PP was fortunate to be out of the house all day yesterday, while the tilers were doing their stuff.  Between the teeth-jangling noise of electric tile cutting machines, and the 'nails down a blackboard' screeching of the manual one, plus the incessant thumping of some form of mashed up heavy metal/house/garage/shed music blaring from a tiny, tinny little radio, SD and I were reduced to cowering downstairs trying to block out the din.  SD was somewhat more successful than me, burying herself under her duvet and blankie in the office, while I took refuge in the workroom, with Radio 4 for company.

There was no respite in the garden either, as our neighbours are having their patio done and the builders next door were using a power jack hammer and slab thunker plus a vibrating plate type thingy which sent pulses of energy thrumming through the house.

So all in all, not a relaxing day.

That said, I did manage to complete the following trio....

1/12th Red Riding Hood, 1/24th Red Riding Hood and Pullalong Toy Wolf

The wolf got a bit antsy when he discovered that he was going to have a bell around his neck. But that was as nothing compared to his face when he saw what he would be wearing.

Wolf: *incredulously* Whoa!!! What. Is. THAT?
Me: *soothingly* It's a lovely silk cloak.  Now you won't be cold in the woods.
Wolf: *scathingly* I have a thick fur coat.  I NEVER get cold in the woods.  Plus it's bright red!  I'll never live it down.  How can I hold up my proud and noble head in wolf society if I go out wearing that?
Me: It's just a bit of fun.  You know.... dressing up.  Like a game.
Wolf: The only type of game I like has feathers or fur.  Do I look like a cross dresser to you?
Me: Well.... that's not the point is it.  Just work with me on this.  It'll all be fine, I promise.
Wolf: *mutter, mumble*  Someone will pay for this, so help me Wolf.

Eventually he agreed to play along, although he categorically refused to allow me to tuck in his ears, arguing, quite reasonably I thought, that if he had to do the "What big ears you have" thing it wouldn't work if his ears were tucked under his hood.
By the end of his makeover he was twirling and pirouetting, admiring himself in the mirror, and totally rocking his new look.

He even agreed to a photoshoot with the little girl in Red Riding Hood fancy dress costume, and her tiny wee toy doll.  🙂