Saturday, 28 December 2013

Scary Reflections and Cushion Grenades

Tom is settling in so well with us.  He has been here for just under three weeks, but has made amazing progress, considering how shy and nervous he was when we brought him home.

His current favourite spots are:

Under the Christmas Tree...
Hanging around the dining table...

But his very favourite spot is...
On the sofa with his favourite human!

However, he is still exploring and finding out about his new territory.  A couple of days ago Leo, a local cat happened to wander across the new deck, as Tom was taking a stroll in the living room.  Tom spotted him and froze, then lowered himself to "sneak position" and began to stalk the cat outside the window...  Leo didn't notice him though and strolled on his way across the grass and under the hedge. 

Good thing he didn't hang around - Tom would've sorted him out for sure! Well, at any rate, there would've been a face-off either side of the glass doors!

Tom is still learning which things to be concerned about, and which to take for granted.  He now ignores the dishwasher - though at first he was pretty scared of it; but he still thinks that his reflection in the night-time glass doors must be another cat. 

Today, he was walking into the kitchen, when he spotted "the other cat" reflected in the glass panel of the back door at the end of the kitchen.  He stood totally still for a while, obviously considering whether to rush over and take on the intruder... but finally decided to retreat to the Cat Cave and have a snack. 

He still does a double-take if he sees himself reflected in the big glass doors - daytime or at night - but he's gradually getting used to it and sometimes he barely even glances at the reflection, before deciding it's safe to carry on walking across the room (though sometimes he prefers to take the alternate route, along the back of the little sofa, then in between the sofa-corners, to jump onto the larger sofa - thereby avoiding the windows!).
Some sounds no longer worry him, though they did to begin with.  I mentioned the dishwasher, but he's also learned to "tune out" stuff like chairs sliding on the floor as we sit down at the table, cupboards opening and closing, the tap being turned on and off in the kitchen, the kettle and coffee maker...  All of these seemed very threatening at first, to a small, new and nervous cat, but he is getting much braver and more used to the house-noises. 
Other noises however, he is still learning to cope with - such as the cushion that keeps falling down when someone gets off the sofa.  We sometimes put one cushion above another, to support our back and head; when we stand up, the top cushion tumbles forward with a "flump" sound, which Tom is convinced is a Super-Dangerous Grenade.  It gets him every time... he scuttles off to a safe refuge.  Though he now comes back much more quickly than at first - and he hardly ever hides behind the washing machine nowadays!

We think he's making good progress.  And he's certainly a happy cat! 

Wednesday, 25 December 2013


Merry Christmas to all Friends!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Where's Tom?

Well, Tom has had more adventures this weekend. 

This was Saturday breakfast time...
Tom spent Saturday exploring.  He came out of his "den" and explored the kitchen.  He was very relaxed and wandered about, then came to the table to see if there was any fuss going.  
He then gradually worked his way into the main room and had a good look round.  However, we had builders and visitors in the house during the day, so the hole-behind-the-washing-machine was a favourite choice for the majority of the day.
In the evening, he came in and had a really good sniff around, and persuaded us to share our tea (chicken snacks for cats...). He even discovered the ornaments on the Christmas tree and played with them.  We think he likes to play - he has a toy basket, though he hasn't discovered the toys yet.  Still, there's plenty of time...
* * *

Today, Tom shared our breakfast (or at least, he would have, if we hadn't made him get off the table!).  Then he had more fuss and disappeared behind the washing machine for a while for a rest. 
At lunch time he was out again, hanging around for fuss (he is such a fuss-cat!), then he vanished into his "cat cave". 

We were out for the afternoon, so we left some food for his lunch and shut the laundry room door, so he would be safe in his cave and not get tangled in the fairy-lights, or climb on top of the dresser... 

We got home at around 4:45 and went to check on Tom.  No sign of him, so we thought he was behind the washing machine.  Dave called for him to come out - nothing.  He also hadn't eaten his lunch, which was strange, as he has eaten his food quickly every other time. 

We couldn't find Tom.  He wasn't behind the washing machine. Nor in the downstairs loo (the only room he could have got into while the laundry room door was closed).  We checked all the boxes and tops of stuff - fridge, freezer, shelves etc. No Tom. 
We thought that perhaps he'd been shut Out of the laundry room instead of shut In.  So we searched the living room. Several times. And the kitchen. No Tom. 

We couldn't find Tom anywhere.  We tried the "snug" sitting room and also upstairs, in case he'd sneaked out of the main living room while the door was open (not for long).  We looked behind, under and on top of everywhere. We tried inside and under the wardrobes, under beds, behind desks, in cupboards & boxes & baskets... No Tom.
We wondered whether, in the very brief time the main living room door was open, he had slipped out and hidden in the hallway, then run outside when the front door was open for a while.  We couldn't imagine how this could have happened, as we'd been so careful.  But it seemed that Tom was not in the house.  Dave went out into the garden and searched in the dark.  No Tom. 
He then went round the back of our house, searching the other side of the garden wall and looking under bushes etc. No Tom.
We both searched the garden, the top of the shed & garage, behind the bins, under nearby cars and hedges.  No Tom.
We had tried everywhere.  He wasn't indoors, so he must be outside. But "outside" is very big, isn't it? So he could be Anywhere in the World (well, within a couple of miles of home anyway...). 
So Dave went back out and tried again.  No Tom.
While Dave was outside searching, I was sure I could hear jingling.  Tom has a bell on his collar and we'd both thought we could hear it tinkling in the garden, when we were standing near the back door. 
We decided it was probably wishful thinking.  But this time, I was sure I heard it.  I went to the laundry room, but heard it again - in the kitchen... As I walked into the kitchen, I was sure it was coming from the corner of the room near the sink, kitchen bin and back door.  I moved the bins and looked behind the trolley under the worktop, where we keep a wine rack and stuff.  No cat, but definitely jingling noises. 

Dave came in again and I signed for him to come quietly over.  He also heard the jingling... So I pulled the baseboard out from under the kitchen cupboard....
Tom, sitting comfortably under the cupboard!

The baseboard pulled out - and a bribe to get him out!
So, eventually he came out and ate his (very late) lunch.  Then he went into his cat-cave for a rest.  Where he is now lying comfortably on his mat under the radiator. 

I think we may nominate Tom for the 2013 "Pesky Cat of the Year Award"...
But you have to admit, he's very cute! 

Friday, 13 December 2013

Tom's Progress

An update on Tom, our new cat.  He came to live with us last Saturday and spent most of this week behind the washing machine in the laundry room. 

However, over the last couple of days, he has become progressively braver.  We've been able to approach him and stroke & fuss him.  He will rush out of hiding now, if we pick up his food dish and offer him something to eat. In fact, last night he miaowed loudly, because he was hungry and I'd shut the laundry room door.  When I went in to feed him, he ran out to see me. 

This evening has been lovely.  Dave decided to try and coax him out into the room, for a bit of fuss.  I put some biscuits in his dish and out he came!
Eating a little snack...

 I started stroking him and he was very keen.  Then Dave came in to stroke him too.  Tom was very enthusiastic and ended up having a long fussing session with all of us. 

Tom getting biiiig strokes and fuss!

In the end, he settled down on his bed under the radiator - he's still there now, about an hour later, very relaxed and happy.  
Resting after all that fussing.  Tom is a Happy Cat! 
I suppose he'll go back behind the washing machine at some point, but he's definitely learning to trust us - and he really wants to have love and fuss. 

Just as I was typing the lines above, Tom started to miaow.  He was hungry and asking for his supper.  When I went in to see him, he came up to me, miaowing and looking hopeful - progress indeed!  So, of course I opened a little tin of food and gave it to him - he's currently purring and eating, both at the same time.

Go Tommy!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Whole Christmas Tree!

It's that time of year again... Dave went into the loft and got down all the boxes; this evening we put up our Christmas Tree and started decorating our home. 
A few years ago, I posted about getting ready for Christmas and how we were a bit challenged for space. 
We could only put up part of our tree - the section at the back was left off, so we could push it against the wall in the corner.  We had to weight the back with a brick! But you can't really see that...

But This Year our new extended room allows us a bit more space...
The Whole Christmas Tree!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Where Has Lizzie Been? And a post about Tom.

Well, hello to anyone who sees this post - it's certainly been a while.  The last post I published (I've started several since..) was the 1st July! So, it will serve me right, if I have no blog readers left!

Where have I been? What have I been doing? Why haven't I blogged in such a long time?

I won't answer with a full list of what's been happening - it would take all day.  Suffice it to say that it's been pretty chaotic round here! 

I've been looking after my mum - she's recovered quite well from her stroke, but can't do a lot of things for herself now, including cooking, cleaning, laundry etc.  I go over on four days in the week, to help her with jobs, make her lunch and tea and generally be around.  There are also a lot of appointments with dr, dentist, optician etc etc ets - I am the chauffeuse, so I have to take her to those - often on a Tuesday or Thursday, which should be my "Working Days".  So, that keeps me quite busy and takes a good chunk of my time.

And there's home to look after. And my bookbinding business to (try to ) keep going.  I've had a number of custom orders over the summer and autumn, which have been lovely and kept me well occupied.  I also taught a one-day bookbinding workshop in September, which was really nice.  We made felt-covered journals, with embroidered covers. 

But the thing that has taken up most of my time, since April, has been The Extension Project!  It has been quite a saga - I may go into details later, but not now. 

We have made some major changes to our house, which have just been finished.  Inside, we have remodelled the little sitting room, dining room and hallway.  Outside, we've extended behind the original dining room, making it into a large living room next to the kitchen - a lounge & dining room combined.  There are big, huge glass folding doors, which open onto the nice new deck and the garden.  It's lovely.  But it took ages and was so time-consuming and stressful.  Never Again!!

We went from this:
May 2013 - rear of house, window and patio door.
To this:

December 2013 - new rear extension with bi-fold doors & new deck.
Inside it was like this:
Spring 2013 - cramped dining room
Now we have this:
December 2013 - new Living Room (the back of the small sofa is where the patio doors used to be).

We have loads more room!  We also have the original sitting room, but it's slightly smaller, as we took out the wall between that room & the stairs, then added a partition wall a bit further over, to make a proper "hallway" beside the staircase. 
The little sitting room - "Snug" - doesn't seem much smaller actually, as the old door into the dining room is now blocked up - we have a new way in, via the new hallway.  It's going to make a great place to relax, play music - on the stereo, or our instruments - and generally be peaceful when the rest of the house is busy. 
And it will be our Spare Room, so our guests no longer have to sleep in the dining room. See the sofa bed in the photo from the spring? That is now in the Snug and that room has its own door, so guests can have privacy and peace, instead of being in a sort-of corridor to the kitchen!

Overall, it's working very well.  We "moved in" last week and we're getting used to having the space - especially after pretty much living upstairs for the past eight months!  The kitchen is still filthy - there was So Much Dust! - but a lady is coming tomorrow, to help me scrub it from top to bottom.  We still have no curtains up, but an extra-long curtain rail is in the post and due any day.  The new cast iron stove isn't functional yet, as it needs safety checks and a certificate, but we hope to be able to use it soon.  There are still jobs to do - such as a final coat of paint & varnish on the new banisters, or varnishing the new door to the living room - but on the whole, we're finished and ready to get that Christmas Tree down from the loft!

And the Other News today:
This is Tom.  He came to live with us on Saturday and we're delighted to have him. 

He has had a bit of a sad life, but we hope to improve things for him.   His original family moved house, but left Tom behind them. He was a stray for two years, before he developed a problem with his eye and a lady that was feeding him took him to a vet for treatment.  It turned out to be a thorn in his eye (!), which is now okay.  He was then put into a foster home, in a cat pen - you can see it in the photo - where he stayed for a whole year.  It appears that many people don't want a black cat - they prefer prettier colours; also people are wary of taking on a long-haired cat, that needs grooming regularly.  And also the financial situation means that less people are adopting cats anyway.  But we don't mind that he is black, or fluffy - he appealed to us immediately and we brought him home this weekend. 

Tom has spent his first weekend in the laundry room.  We made him a "den" under a long piece of worktop that has no cupboards beneath.  He has food, then a nice safe cat-carrier for a bed /hidey hole, plus a corner for his litter tray.   He spent the first two days hiding behind the washing machine, but has been eating and coming out when it's quiet, to explore a little. 
When I came home from my mum's after lunch today, I found Tom sitting on the window sill in the downstairs loo - which has a door from the laundry room.  I was even able to walk in there and talk to him, stroke him and brush him a bit.  So progress is being made!

I've sent off for one of the pheromone diffusers you can buy, which gives out a very subtle "happy cat" smell.  It's supposed to be good for calming anxious, nervous cats, so we hope it will help to give Tom a bit more confidence. Perhaps we can entice him out into the main room quite soon. 

Anyway, I will keep you posted - I'm back now, so Watch This Space!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Guitar Festival

The local Music Service for Schools organised a Guitar Festival last week and invited their young guitarists to join in.

We had an ensemble of mostly middle-school children (age 8/9-13), with a few of the older people from upper schools.  They had learned "parts" for various popular song tunes, including "Yellow" and a "mash-up" of "Batman/Superman" theme tunes.  They also played "Chasing Cars" and one of the teachers' daughters sang the lyrics (very nicely). 

There were also some rock bands, both middle and upper school bands, who were pretty alright.  The seniors from a local upper school had won a prize for their performance, at a "Battle of the Bands" competition.  They made a pretty good stab at "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" (The Darkness) - which is a really tricky piece. Their (female) vocalist did it really well.

Some children performed a solo or duet, including James.  Of course, I recorded it on my camera... He chose a piece that he learned last year and played well, with only a couple of small hiccups, due to being a bit "rusty".  I don't suppose the audience really noticed any mistakes and we were proud of him; his music teacher told him he'd done well too.

(Apologies for the noise and crackle on the video - my camera isn't brilliant and I wasn't sitting close enough to cut out background noise...You may need to raise the volume setting on your computer, so you can hear the music... )

Proud of You!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Little White Birdie

Regular readers of my blog will know that we love watching the birds that visit our garden.  We put out food for them, especially in the cold weather and the nesting season.

Early this morning, Mr LizzieMade put out some mealworms (dried… I can’t quite cope with wiggly live ones!).  A group of birds came down to feed, bringing their fledged chicks with them.  Dave noticed a nice little grey-white collared dove baby – he’d never seen a baby collared dove before, so he stopped at the kitchen window for a closer look.

Only, it wasn’t a baby collared dove at all….

A little grey-white baby Starling!

An albino…maybe, we’re not sure – it doesn’t look quite white and I think it may still have dark eyes – so it’s just a pigment abnormality, rather than albinism.  Still, it’s very rare and a bit exciting. 

Not a great photo, but here’s one of the adult birds, feeding white-baby with mealworms and seeds.

We’re not sure what his chances are, of surviving very long.  He’s obviously at a disadvantage, as he doesn’t have the camouflage that his friends and family have.  On the other hand, he seems to be fit and healthy and starlings look after each other.  Maybe he stands a good chance of a long life – and perhaps we’ll see him in the garden regularly. 

They flew away just after I took these photos, so I was grateful to Dave, for waking me early, so I could see them.  I had to share with you all – such a rare event is really too good not to share!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Builders’ Banter


You’ve probably read in one of my recent posts, that we are making some alterations to our house.  We’re building an extension to the rear and making some changes to the inside layout, to add a “real” hallway beside the stairs, with access doors to both main rooms, rather than having to walk through the sitting room to reach the dining room, then through the dining room to get to the kitchen!

So, the Builders are here.  They’ve been on-site most days for the past two weeks or so and they have set up a little space in the garage, where there’s a work-bench.  Of course, there is also a radio; no builder can work without the radio on all day (Jeff – the boss – says it’s a security measure, as it makes would-be nosey-parkers believe someone is there, even if everyone is round the back digging holes). 

The radio is set to a local “hits” channel, which plays mainly 1980’s and 1990’s music, with the odd gem from the ‘70’s etc.  Builders seem to like that kind of music best.  I suppose most of it is cheerful, with a good beat and a tune (some “music” isn’t really so musical is it…). 
I could produce a CD of “Builders’ Greatest Hits”, as they sing (or howl) along to their favourites – which they then repeat at intervals throughout the day, making up their own version when they forget the words or tune… 

Classics such as “Layla”, “Tainted Love”, “I Knew You Were Waiting…”, “Baby, Where Did Our Love Go?” etc, etc all become part of the day’s sound-track.  They make silly faces, as they croon a love song to one another.  Their sentences are punctuated by snatches of song. 

It’s quite fun really. They also have a kind-of scripted banter, which they carry on at intervals, in between the chat and even some serious conversation about wives and girlfriends, their children, family and friends, what they watched on tv, the state of the economy… They can be quite serious and thoughtful, these builder-chaps; they may have a mainly manual kind of job, but that doesn’t stop them using their brains too.

They also have some standing jokes, which get trotted out daily:

* * *

“Curly, could you knock those nails in please?”
“What, Jeff, these ones?”
“Yeah, them.”
“Okay…” – bang, bang…
…“Oh, no, Curly, not them ones!”…

* * * 

“Jeff, did you want me to dig out the footings for that wall?”
“Yes please – where the red paint-marks are.”
“Okay then…”
…. “Oh, no, Curly, not that one!”…

* * *

All day… The same joke… “Nah, not that one!”

So I asked if they don’t get bored of that joke.  Apparently they don’t – it seems to be part of the routine; perhaps it’s the oil that keeps them all running smoothly. 

* * *

My favourite though, has to be a conversation I overheard on Monday, while I was working up in the studio.   It gets warm in there, as the room faces south, so I have to open the window.  The builders were working in the hallway, with the front door open, just below where I was:

* * *

Neighbour’s voice – couldn’t hear what he said…

Jeff’s voice, “Nah? Really?  No…..!”

Then Jeff shouted, “Curly! Curly!”

“Yes, Jeff!”

“You know that woman we saw walking by this morning?”

“What, that really good-looking one?”


“She was alright… bit of a smasher…” (can’t remember exact words, but that was the general idea… quite polite, but obviously they had noticed!).

Jeff said, “Yeah, that one…. Well… Apparently…. She was a ‘He’!”

…. long pause….

Curly’s voice, rather shocked & squeaky… “NO! Never!  Really?”

Neighbour’s voice “Yes, really & truly.”

Curly, “No! But… No!”

Laughter, more banter… interspersed with Jeff and Curly saying “Can’t believe it” etc…

Curly – “But Jeff, you was going to ask for her phone number!”

* * *

Really, you just couldn’t make these things up…

And I get this free floor-show every day.  It’s almost worth the dust and hassle, just to have a good laugh.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

It was Summer - All Weekend

Well, after the "Two Year Winter" and the long, long, oh so long stretch of freezing, icy, chill weather... it's been so nice to have some sunshine!  Of course, what's happening just now, is that we get a day of sun, then several of rain and wind - so sunshine is seriously a bonus these days.

But yesterday and today it has been Summer. For certain.

There are flowers in the borders - even bluebells.
Clematis Montana climbing up the Willow tree,
Apple Blossoms!
The Willow tree is in leaf (at last!).
Mr. Blackbird is busy collecting food for ever-hungry chicks.
I even found an Orange Tip Butterfly on the flowers.
Miffy & Petra have been enjoying the fresh air.
However, the reason I know it is Really Summer, is this:
Dave & James have put the trampoline together!
Summer is here - at least, until tomorrow...

Monday, 20 May 2013

Swap Treasure

Recently there was a lovely idea posted at Sian's blog.  She suggested we should hold a bloggers' Swap of Very Small Things

We e-mailed our details to Sian and she made up a Swap List.  The idea was that you would send a Swap package to the person below you on the list.  So I was sending my package of Very Small Things to Jean (whose parcel was posted today!); and I have received a package from the lovely Jane
What? Oh, yes, the parcel... what Very Small Things did it contain?
Well, this was inside the very nicely decorated bubble envelope... See the friendly message?

And the litle package was so pretty... and exciting...
...and when I opened it, all this gorgeousness spilled out!  Look at the fab little bits & pieces - buttons, sparkly things, butterflies & flowers, tiny folders and die-cuts, little pieces of paper, tags, twine, ribbon, even a cute crochet flower. 
I feel lucky and very spoiled.  Thank you so much Jane, I'm delighted! 
Jane has also blogged about her package today - she received some lovely little things too and seems to be equally happy. 
What a great idea this was - thanks to Sian for organising this!  

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Just a Little Bit Famous...

I got a Blog Feature!  I am very lucky to have a feature post on the Supporting Artists blog. 

Happy Lizzie :-)
I'm a member of the Supporting Artists Team on Etsy.  It's an invitation-only team and they choose a limited number of sellers, from shops selling a wide variety of things.  I was flattered to be invited to join and also very pleased to be asked to submit an article about my shop & workspace for the blog. 
In fact, I had forgotten all about it.  The post had to be submitted a couple of months ago, along with some photos, but I have been so busy since, that it had completely slipped my mind.  So it was a lovely surprise to see the link to my post, on the Supporting Artists Facebook page this morning! 
I am very lucky.  It's a great team, who are very active - I haven't been particularly active myself recently, but now I really want to put a bit more work in on the team's behalf - after all, it's the least I can do really!
If you want to see a photo of my messy studio and read all kinds of waffle about Lizzie Made, then why not go and see?  And while you are there, you might like to look around - it's a really good blog, with lots of very interesting posts, on a variety of topics.  There's also a directory of sellers, listed by the type of items they make/sell - and some of the other sellers' stuff is wonderful.  Well worth a visit! 

Sunday, 12 May 2013

A Nice Cup of Tea...

I like it when I have some time on a Sunday evening, to just sit in my studio and play with paper.  It's nice to just make anything I want - and this evening, I did just that!

I found some fun fabric in the local sewing and patchwork supplies shop.  They stock a wide range of fabrics, mostly cottons (but also linens, silks and other stuff) mainly for quilting/patchwork.  I often go there and buy fabric and other stitching supplies; of course, the occasional impulse buy occurs.  This particular fabric is a cotton, printed with a design of vintage tea cups & saucers.  I just thought it would make a great book, so I bought a fat quarter and popped it on top of my fabrics box.  This evening, while digging around for ideas for a little project, the fabric fell down and I scooped it up.  Just what I wanted!

This is what I made (photos are not great, as they had to be taken with artificial lighting):

A Cup of Tea notebook!

These are the front and back covers - each is different.  Don't you love this fabric?
It has a silk-wrapped edge and I have attached the covers and pages with a hybrid of a Coptic stitched binding and a traditional longstitch. I used ivory linen thread and I think it looks very effective against the soft green silk.
The covers are lined with strawberry red art paper, to match the red in the cover fabric.  The mossy green of the silk is the same as the green teacup on the covers too.

It has forty pages of my favourite cream coloured text paper.  I had cut and folded these pages last week, so I needed a project for them.  

Overall, I think it worked out very nicely. 
When the sun is out tomorrow (ever hopeful!), I will take some better photos and put this in my shop, for sale.  It was made as just a bit of fun, but I hope my evening's work will make someone smile. I hope someone else likes it as much as I do!


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