Thursday, 21 May 2015

And I'm off again...

It feels like half the time I seem to be saying that I am leaving again, and it is only going to be getting worse. This winter I started working on the Pelican instead of volunteering as I have been for the past 8 years!

Yay for money coming in instead of going out when sailing, but I have found that it is a little hard to get my head around the change in responsibilities. When I started I did only did two weeks right near the end of the season and one of those was just maintenance (read painting...). I then took over as a ship keeper for two months whilst the ship was laid up alongside in Weymouth. Which involved taking all the sails off and generally keeping her ticking over.
A photo posted by Pippa K (@beadsandbarnacles) on
But when I came back this year, literally the day after coming home from IVDA Competition in Blackpool, things were a little different. I only got onboard a few days before we left for dry dock which was good fun but a little stressful as things didn't always go to plan. 
Returning from dry dock we had to get the ship ready for the season, putting all the sails back on, changing all the ships laundry (you should have seen the pillow fights that happened when 40 sets of bedding came onboard in one go!) and all the little things that had been put off till later. And when the season did get started we had a few mishaps (read, if it could go wrong it did go wrong!)

If things could go wrong they would go wrong:
clockwise from top left: A rope wrapped around our prop, Too windy to sail,
Self tangling rope, Too much muscle not enough sense...
 After two months of maintenance and sailing it was time for me to have a well earned (if short) rest. I have been home for the last 3 weeks catching up on my sleep, dancing and friends and family. Thankfully my other half comes sailing on the Pelican sometimes so this time I did get to see him during my stint but from now (this week) till September I wont get to see him much at all. :(

I am joining ship again on Sunday for two or three weeks (depending on what country I change over in) meaning that this time I have my birthday onboard. There is another special anniversary that will be celebrated this stint too; 10 years since my first ever tall ship trip! 

My first trip was from Liverpool to Dublin, ending at the Dublin River Festival this year I will be sailing on from Falmouth and yet another festival. Keep an eye out for updates on how this is all going on here and our Facebook page.


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Rag Rug Project: Completed! (plus a tutorial)

Well I previously posted about my Rag Rug Project and it's progress, well it has finally been completed!

It took quite a while firstly just because it was quite large and fiddly, but also because it was quite difficult to find periods of time to actually sit down and spend a decent bit of time working on the rug. But now it is done and I'm really happy with it!

(In fact I even contemplated the idea of starting another one for my Mum, but I think I would need to get a different type of backing for it - and she wants to see how well it reacts to being walked over/vacuumed first) 

So how did I do it?

First of all I got my backing ready, I used a burlap sack which I found on sale in a charity shop, opening it out it was a nice size for a rug. Although I would definitely advise using something which has a little bit more solid a backing... if only because it makes feeding the fabric through the backing so much easier. If I do it again I think I will buy a plastic rug backing which has squares already on it.
Here you can see the sacking with the first few edge pieces through it
There are a few different methods to 'tying' the fabric pieces through it. Firstly you can either do a woven rug where you use longer pieces and weave them all the way across the rug, or you can do hooked rug where the strips are hooked through individually, there are also other methods such as braided rugs or crochet rugs which don't involve the use of a backing material.

The rug that I decided to make was a 'hooked' rag rug, where I took strips of the fabrics and hooked them through sections of the backing. For attaching them you can either double knot the fabrics individually, or the method I used: you double the fabric strip over a hook (I used a bun pin), pass it through the backing and back to the top side and then pass the ends of the fabric through the loop which was created over the hook, then you pull it tight, and voila. It won't necessarily hold tight forever, and could probably come undone, but it seems to have worked fairly well, is quite quick to do and I think it will feel nicer underfoot than the knotted method.

For the strips themselves:
Some of the fabric used in my rug
I started out wanting to complete the whole rug using just fabric from old t-shirts so it could actually be a rag rug. But it turns out I had definitely underestimated the amount of t-shirting material that it would take compared to the types of t-shirts that I had (polo shirts don't work quite so well), and that I had rather a yellow selection of old t-shirts to use up... so I ended up buying some t-shirting material from fabricland in a variety of colours to supplement the old t-shirts that I had to recycle.
This allowed me to have a really nice mix of colours, plus it feels soooo soft.

All cut into strips

The fabric was then cut into strips. Depending on how think the fabric was I usually cut them about 1" wide and then pulled them to get the edges to curl in slightly.

The strips were cut to approx 6" long, although this did vary a little depending on how many strips would fit into the width of the fabric.

It doesn't really matter if some strips are wider/narrower than others but try to keep them fairly similar. Also the same with the length, since it's all fairly random in the rug you won't really notice if a few a different lengths.

Now for the making of the rug! I had my rug making kit which comprised of the fabric, scissors, a large bag containing the strips, the rug in progress and the all important bun pin which I used to feed my fabric strips through.

I started by going round the edge and then filling in the centre. I think to start with this made me feel like I had done more in the early stages, but I would advise starting at one corner and making your way across. That way if you decide it's taking too much time, you can always cut off/resize the backing without too much hassle. Or if you do it like me you have to just slog it out till it is done...

Don't go all the way round the edge!
The colour make-up of my fabrics did change throughout the making of the rug and I did go and adjust a few strips towards the end to even out the colours, but actually since the colours are so 'random' anyway it doesn't really show the changes in colour distribution. This might depend on how much of a perfectionist you are though, I'm surprised with how little I needed to change it.

I did try to make sure that I didn't have the same colours next to each other, but other than that, I just picked a random colour from my bag and looped it in to the next bit of the backing. When you have lots of neighbouring pieces it does get a bit more difficult though.

Starting to get there... still a long way to go...
It definitely did take a while to complete it all, but I definitely think it is worth it. I now have the rug in my bedroom at the end of the bed and it gives a nice pop of colour and feels really good under my feet when I wake up in the morning!

Ta da! Done!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Recycling in the garden

So along with our recent start on clearing up the garden we have also decided that it is about time that we started making our own compost and recycling the food waste that we produce from the kitchen. Since we only have a small garden we weren't sure before about getting a compost bin, but our local council doesn't do food waste recycling we decided to just go for it and get a compost bin.

The local council does a partnership with evergreener to offer compost bins and other recycling items and a discounted price to normal, so we went ahead and bought ourselves some compost bins and also a narrow water butt to allow us to collect rainwater and use some of that in the garden (it seems a bit silly to just let the water go to waste)

I'm actually really looking forward to being able to compost stuff as throwing away vegetable peelings always seems to be a complete waste. Although I'm sure that when the decomposing veg starts to pile up I won't be such a fan of the smell...

But hopefully when we get a nice crop of compost and can use it plant our nicely homegrown veg (fingers crossed) it will all be worth it!

Well I have to say I'm exceptionally impressed with the speed of the delivery. I ordered them one afternoon, the next morning at 8.30 we get a knock on the door and open it to a selection of dalek looking compost bins... very prompt!

The new dalek addition to the garden 
 Hopefully the compost bins will sit nicely in the border near one of our hedges, in an area which we didn't have any other plans for. I'm planning on 'installing' it today and getting it started off with some garden waste. Might have to look at tying it down somehow though, in case it gets a bit windy.

Time to collect some rainwater!
A nice shiny waterbutt as well, hopefully this will collect a fair amount of water that comes off our roof. Although since it's not got a nice setup, we might have to try a little bit of re-jigging to connect it up. (Also a shame we didn't have it a few days ago as it was absolutely tipping it down and I'm sure we would have got a nicely filled water butt).

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Spring Gardening

Since the fence fell down in the middle of the winter we have not done much to the garden but this week we have started clearing up the garden and sorting it out for spring. Since the weather has started getting better the plants have suddenly started growing again we are hoping to take advantage of this and see if we can get some veg this summer.

We started by clearing out all the old fence panels that were still in the garden, so that we didn't have to mess up the back of Nikki's car making multiple trips to the dump we bought a Hippo Bag to use in place of a skip. This is the second time we have used one of these as before when we cleared up the back of the garden we didn't have a car and so taking things to the skip was not even an option. 

After removing the build up we mowed the lawn, I always forget how much of a difference this makes to our garden as the back lawn is at about eye level when you are sitting in the kitchen! 

After that we turned our attention to the beds, removing the weeds from the herb bed and trying to stake the rosemary upright a bit more... Nikki concentrated on removing weeds and rocks and trees from the main bed we want to use for planting and I re-potted a lot of last years plants.

Nikki's "look what I just removed" victory photo..
This whole bed needs over turning and even more stones removing!
Last year we grew quite a lot of herbs and this year the ones that survived winter in pots needed separating out, especially the mint which i now have 10 pots of!

lots of mint!
During a 'quick' trip to B and Q we found a number of reduced plants which we decided to rescue and few non reduced ones. We now have a number of plant pots full of veg plants.

Part of our Small plant haul!

A Pepper plant from IKEA sharing a pot with an Aubergine, some Broad Beans and a Beefsteak Tomato
The smaller veg pot containing a Beefsteak and a Plum Tomato, Apache Chilli, some Basil plants and hopefully some Marigold flowers (from seed)
We also ventured into new territory this year and bought some onion seedlings which came as a 6 pack, 2 of each of 3 varieties Spring Onion, White Onion and Red Onion. We separated out the seedlings to plant the traditional onions separately and the spring onions in small groups. These produced many more seedlings than we thought it would and we have one end of a grow bag, a large pot and a window box full of onions!

Onions... Lots of Onions, and a Courgette...
We have also strayed into potato territory purchasing a bag of seed potatoes. We have currently potted up 3 large pots with 4 in each pot and still have half a bag of seed potatoes left!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Recent bakes/craftiness

Well the last week has been a little bit crazy leading up to our annual end of year dinner dance which I was organising this year. I was making presents for my committee and some macarons for the raffle prizes which was fun and they looked really cool but they took quite a long time to do...

A recent cake I made for the end of our year as committee. It was a triple layer cake with vanilla, toffee and chocolate layers, with layers of vanilla frosting and chocolate frosting separating the layers, all topped with toffee marshmallow fondant and chunks of toffee to finish. 
It was very tasty and got finished up pretty quickly...

Macarons! Mini macarons this time. I am really impressed with the macaron trays that I bought, they make piping out the macarons so much easier, and I find they don't tend to spread too crazily, so you end up with much more uniform macarons in the end.
Although I still need to perfect my recipes when I add flavourings, but that just means I'll have to make some more macarons, I don't think people will complain too much. 

Cupcakes! These are cupcakes that I made for my committee, chocolate cupcakes with nice pretty frosting and sugar decorations, and to finish it all off I topped each cake with a mini macaron (which were coloured blue to match)

Macarons! Normal sized ones as well. Unfortunately my chocolate ones were a little bit ruined by too much cocoa powder falling in the mix, so instead I had to use macarons which were from my test batches, so they weren't quite so pretty, but still really tasty. They were all packaged up nicely in cellophane and it looked really professional. =)
And this is what my cupcakes looked like when they were finished, I put them in nice cupcake boxes and finished them off with varying shades of blue ribbon in curls. (and a far prettier photo from Pippa than the ones that I took)

Place cards that I made for the dinner dance, each person's card had their food choices printed on the back to help the catering staff and help when people inevitably forgot what food they had chosen. Actually quite straightforward in the end and my first foray into the world of mailmerge. 

I also made a carrot and sweet potato cake for my grandmothers 90th birthday. It was an attempt at a slightly different low sugar cake and I think it turned out wonderfully. It was really tasty and I think I'll have to make it again. 

And pippa made some lovely dimanted pegs to hold our table numbers, can't have a dancing event without a little bit of glitz and sparkle.


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Photo organising

I tend to find that a lot of the time I either forget to take photos, or I take photos and they end up hidden somewhere, either on my phone or deep in a folder forgotten on my computer.

But I have decided that it would be quite nice to actually look at my photos more often. There are such a lot of memories that come back to you when you see photos and I definitely don't look at them enough.

Last year when I was back at my parents I spent a weekend scanning in old photo albums as I was planning on making an album with a selection of the best photos. However my Dad decided to helpfully delete the whole album from dropbox... Luckily for him technology has decided that it would backup the photos (through a whole roundabout process) and somehow they ended up on my google drive! I was very relieved...I didn't particularly relish the idea of spending another weekend scanning photos. Plus there are some wonderfully cringey photos on there...and a reminder that I was a lot cuter when I was younger. 

(although I have unfortunately discovered that the backed-up quality isn't particularly high, but potentially I can select a number of photos that I like to re-scan)

I even still have that bedding around somewhere...

So I am going to attempt to create a number of collages of photos from various things; dancing, trips abroad, uni, school, craft projects etc. 

I have used a few photo sites previously but I'm hoping that fotor, which I came across last week will be straight forward and fairly quick to use. It's pretty easy to spend numerous hours trying to edit a couple of photos, and since I have thousands of photos which I could be sorting through, I don't have that sort of time to give to it...

I also want to look at getting some of my own photos printed so that I can hang them around my house. Some of my photos, and a number of Pippa's travelling photos are excellent, probably some of them are actually far better than the prints that you can buy from a lot of shops. Plus the photos will mean far more to us because they will be somewhere that we have actually been. 


Friday, 24 April 2015

Time flies...when you're organising things

Wow. It really has been quite a long time since I have posted on the blog...

This last year has been a little crazy and hectic at times. I am coming to the end of my year as the President of our Ballroom and Latin society, and I will definitely miss it! But I won't necessarily miss *all* of the organisation that has gone along with it.

Since November we have hosted our own competition in Southampton, and then attended  6 competitions across the country; in Bath, Norwich, Bristol, Farnborough, a weekend in Blackpool, back to Bristol again. 

I personally chaired the organisation of the competition in Farnborough where we had over 500 competitors come together for a jam packed day of competing. But it was a thorough success! =)

All of the shiny trophies at Farnborough

Around the same time we were involved in our annual dance show, PureDance. This year we had 3 slots and I decided it would be a fantastic idea to choreograph all of the routines myself... so we had about 3 months of rehearsals 3 times a week. I think I was just constantly either dancing, choreographing or organising dancing!

But all the effort and more than a dose of stress definitely all paid off and we had 3 fabulous looking routines, and we got the chance to showcase our ballroom properly for the first time in PureDance!
PureDance 2015

Some other exciting things that have happened this year include me getting a Ballroom dress!! =) I am still planning on making my own one, but I decided that I wouldn't have enough time to make one before the dance season started. It is so shiny and I love the shaping of it. 
The skirt on it is unfortunately a little too long, I think it has stretched the bodice under all of the weight (I think I measured 15m+ of hem at the bottom), so when I get the time I will be taking that up a bit. Not sure that my sewing machine will appreciate that...

I also have made myself another latin dress, which I will post all about soon hopefully. 

On a non-dancing note (mostly only now that the dancing has quietened down) I am starting to focus back on the house and having a real purge of stuff in the house; clothes, books, old notes, cooking equipment, I'm planning on going through all of it and making sure it's all much better organized and that in general I just have less stuff. 

I completed painting the lounge (a while back now really...) but I think it looks soooo much nicer now, definitely more inviting. 

Hopefully I will get back into the swing of blogging again more regularly now. 


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