Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hello Ohio

I’m in preparation for my week long textile art and quilting course with Nancy Crow in Ohio, which starts on Monday. I decided to buy my fabric on line from America so that it could be sent directly to Ohio, and save me carting it all the way across the Atlantic. I was also worried that the measly 22Kg weight limit on my flight might not be enough to accommodate both my clothes and over100m of fabric, and I didn’t fancy spending the whole week washing out my pants.

Nick is concerned I may be indoctrinated into some weird religious cult, but I think I will be far too busy sewing to worry about sinning. I’m back a week on Sunday, so I’ll give you a full update of my activities then, quilting or otherwise.

We have also been decorating. What with the Paint runner success we have been storming round the house. The lounge ceiling is painted ready for the arrival of the new sofas, and my craft room is ready for the new carpet. The spare bedroom is still under preparation. It’s taking a while as there is only so much polyfillering I can bear in an evening.

I bought a few ‘house’ magazines and was pleased to see that the whole wallpaper fashion is still in full swing. I absolutely love the handpainted chinoiserie look. Unfortunately all the gorgeous wallpapers I like are about £££££ a roll and I am too tight to pay that, especially when I can sniff DIY crafting potential!

So, in true Rachy fashion I set about learning a new craft. First I stripped off the old woodchip wall paper. Then I made up a translucent paint mix using 50% Farrow and Ball emulsion (powder blue) and 50% wallpaper paste. (I got this idea from a library book.) Using a 4 inch brush I roughly painted the wall with random brush strokes. The second coat evened it out quite a lot, but gave the wall a nice depth of colour, instead of a flat tone. It doesn’t look ‘colour washed’ like the fashion in the 90’s, it just looks like a lovely old wall.

Next I searched the internet for a wallpaper pattern I liked, and saved the image to my computer. Using a cunning mix of photoshop and my great artistic skill I plagiarised a pattern I really liked. (Note: Wallpaper websites are quite cunning – they don’t show the entire pattern, so attempting to copy the design involves improvising areas to the sides, top and bottom of the image they let you see. When doing this it’s quite tricky to figure out how the pattern repeats itself. With naturalistic chinoiserie type designs I just filled in with some extra leaves and flowers and it looks fine!) I printed out the design at work using our A2 printer.

Then I bought some stencil film and a heat pen from a stencil website, transferred the design on to the film, and cut it out using the heat pen.

I wanted to avoid the very obviously stencilled look, so used a very soft translucent white over the blue base wall. I stuck the stencil on the wall using repositionable spray mount and got going. Last year I bought Nick a laser spirit level that projects straight lines onto walls, and using that made it much easier to get the repeats perfectly horizontal and vertical.

The effect is soft and pretty and I’m really chuffed. I tried to take a photo for you but the camera battery was dead. I’ll take one when the whole room is finished.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Response to Jane's post

I read a very interesting post on Jane’s blog today, and thought I would investigate her theory further. You need to read her 'Scientific breakthrough' post first before launching into mine.

I was going to leave the following as a comment on Jane's blog, but it was getting a bit long so thought I’d write it here:

As a complete and utter advocate and exponent of the Entertainment and Economy scale (TM) I am really into this latest development. Further to this, might I throw a few more ideas into the mix.

Your formula relies rather heavily on the mass of accumulated mud during said period of exercise. This concerns me on a number of levels. There are just too many unpredictable situations which might unfairly prejudice the outcome. Weather related or geographical differences - heavy clay soil, versus running on leaves in a wood, or a route that takes you along a beach or over grassy meadows, or heathered peat moors. The quantity of mud is not therefore an accurate measure of the energy expended over a particular terrain. More thought needs to be put into this part of the equation.

As far as the fear factor goes, could heart rate be considered as a general measure of exercise rate combined with the fear of running around lost in a wood in the pitch black?

Your running computer measures all sorts of stats - does it do calories burned? If so, perhaps a simpler equation might be:

calories burned (assuming your computer factors in heart rate) x geographical adjustment coefficient x injury adjustment = calories that maybe consumed in Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

A laminated table of the injury and geographical adjustments maybe worn around your neck or kept in your sports bag to allow easy and quick calculations after your exercise has finished. Here are my initial thoughts – these figures are preliminary and should be scrutinised by experts to ensure I have made the correct analysis.

Injury adjustments

injury that prohibits exercise 0
Cramp 0.7
Blisters ) 1.4
Nettle stings 0.1
Gorse related injuries 1.5

You requested that, if an injury such as a twisted ankle occurred, all Krispy Kreme doughnut benefits should be wiped out. The 0 value of this adjustment ensures this.

Geographical Adjustments (mean average terrain to be assumed)

Muddy track 1.9
Leafy glen 1.2
soft sandy beach 2
Sprung running track 1
Thick tufty grass 1.3

an example might be:

150 calories burnt during run x 1.9 because it was in a muddy woodland setting x 1.5 for gorse related injuries = 427 calories worth of doughnut or roast potato equivalent.

What do you think?

Urinal treats

How very witty. Should you have £528 spare, you too could own one of these urinals and giggle yourself silly every time you have a wee.

Or what about getting one of these Illuminated urinals? Are they for weeing in the dark?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

20000 hits

I've reach a milestone of 20,000 hits!

I have been writing my blog pretty much continuously for just over two years, and have amassed 473 posts. That's one post for every 1 and a half days. Not bad going. Looking back through the archive I can probably group my posts into the following categories:

Chickens and cat
Craft and quilts
Moaning and bitching
Being amazed at the stupidity of people
Interesting phenomenons

I briefly tried to branch out into the world of architecture and construction but was quickly shot down, accused of being geeky, and ordered to get back to quilts and moaning. I think I obliged pretty pronto. I know my readership you see ;-) Plus I quite enjoy a good moan.

Here's to another 20,000 hits x

Paint Runner

As a general rule we are not usually swayed by persuasive advertising. (Unlike Phil, who will try anything he sees on the telly) However, Nick spotted the ‘Paint Runner’ advertised in the paper, and after having a giggle at the inflated promises (A REVOLUTION in paint technology) we decided to buy one.

We waited ages for it to arrive, and then even longer while we filled all the holes in the crappy plaster, but finally had the chance to test it out last night in my soon-to-be-finished craft room.

I must say, despite our scepticism, it actually is brilliant. We fell into our normal decorating roles (me doing the edges, Nick following on with the roller) and we had the whole room painted in 40 mins. This includes the time taken to thin the paint, charge up the roller, and clean up the mess Nick made when he turned over the gadget without putting the lid back on and half the paint slopped on the carpet.

Paint Runner - down sides:
It seems to use up more paint that a normal roller which is a bummer when the Farrow and Ball paint I love so much cost £24 a tin. Also it’s quite heavy when it is full because it holds over a litre of paint. However this is not a problem when you have a strong husband. We haven’t tried to clean it yet but I can tell it’s going to be a lengthy process. To avoid the cleaning issue we have decided to use the paint runner exclusively for one colour, and wrap it up in cling film then in a plastic bag in between uses.

Paint Runner - Plus sides:
It really is super fast, and much more convenient than bending down the whole time to recharge a roller.

Tips for use: The instructions say to thin down the paint. If you use Farrow and Ball paint (well worth the money in my opinion) you don’t need to thin it because it’s naturally thinner than Dulux. I can imagine that with Dulux you would need to water it down a bit to get it to come through the sponges.

(As an aside, NEVER try to save money by buying cheap ‘value’ paint. You will end up needing to do coat after coat to get it to look even. We tried B&Q value white paint a few years ago. It took 4 coats and still looked patchy. Dulux is ok, but the extra tenner spent on Farrow and Ball paint is well worth it – only ever two coats needed, the best range of colours, and a wonderful chalky matt finish.)

£29.99 well spent, if for nothing more than the hilarity of pretending to do the voice over for the advert that promises ‘no dipping no dripping, no bending, no mess – it’s a REVOLUTION in paint technology!’

PS Chris and Liv, after hearing about your protracted decorating timetable I would recommend you purchase a paint runner and crack on!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Another small consumer victory

Menu in Burger King reads:

Small Fries: £1.25
Regular Fries: £1.45
Large Fries: £1.65
Extra large Fries: £1.85

Me: (in burger king at waverly station) Can I have small fries please.
Burger King employee: Yep! (Goes to get fries. I hand him £1.25) You're 20p short, it’s £1.45.
Me: No, sorry, I wanted small fries at £1.25
BK: Small fries are for children. I’ve given you Regular fries, which are small fries for Adults.
Me: thanks, but I’d rather have small fries.
BK: But you can’t. They are for children only.
Me: Why? It doesn’t say that on the menu.
BK: No, but that is the rule.
Me: But what difference does it make? I want small fries, as offered on the menu.
BK: But I’ve rung Regular fries into the till now.
Me: But I didn’t request Regular fries. I’ve given you £1.25. I would like small fries please. (look at him straight in the eyes.)
BK: (huffs, tries to stare me out – gives up) Oh all right then.

It’s only a small moral victory, but it felt GOOD.

Reflected glory.

Set your videos! The first of Nick’s TV programmes about the abolition of slavery will be broadcast tonight at 2.00am on BBC 2.

It’s the first programme to be broadcast that will have his name at the bottom of the credits, which is weird because he made it absolutely yonks ago. He is semi proud and semi embarrassed because he told me it’s a bit boring, but even so, I think he’s done brilliantly. He had never done any telly work prior to producing this, so it was a steep learning curve. Since then he’s had another promotion and now runs the entire learning department, so he can’t have done that badly!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

thigh produced sound effects

I have new corduroy trousers. When I walk my thighs make a noise like windscreen wipers.

Family Weekend

Our annual family reunion was last weekend, in Oxford. As always it was great to catch up with all the relatives. We had a nice trip to Blenheim Palace, followed by some retail therapy while the boys watched the rugby in the pub.

Sods law determined that the most interesting conversations happened when I had gone to bed early feeling under the weather, so I have only heard about them second hand from Nick. Something about deviant sexual practices and poo. Not sure I should write any more on that subject. Cousin Jenny may divulge more in the comments section, but I will remain silent on the matter.

The hotel had a rather odd manager who gave me, Grace and Ian a stern ticking off at breakfast. He came to clear away our plates and Ian, pointing at the wine list, asked jokily whether many people ordered wine for breakfast. ‘No.’ he replied curtly, ‘But then again, most people don’t sit for breakfast a table set for dinner.’ ‘But I sat over there!’ protested Ian. ‘yes, well,’ said the man, his voice rich with scorn. ‘You sat at a dirty place setting.’ and flounced off back to the kitchen with his nose in the air.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Formal Apology

I hereby formally apologise for the misrepresentation of my husband in Monday's 'Special Talents' Post.

Nick would like it to be made clear that he did not give up dismantling the wardrobe ‘in disgust’ after hours toiling unsuccessfully. In fact he had spent the majority of the day doing other household tasks of which I was unaware, and left the wardrobe unfinished because he had had a very hard day doing other things, such as putting up the washing line.

He does conceded that he found it slightly tricky and that I was much better at demolition work than he was, but was concerned that readers may be led to believe that he was lacking in DIY skills, when in fact he is highly adept.

On this basis I withdraw my previous comments, and apologise unreservedly. I do not wish to lose the help of my number-one labourer.

Rock on!

Last night Nick dragged me along to see Rush, a rock band of his youth, at the SECC in Glasgow. I will admit, I wasn’t really in the mood, but once we got there the spectacle was so fascinating that I actually enjoyed it, despite the prog-rock nature of the music, and the smell of BO.

Here is what I observed:

57 – Average age of the Band members
44 – Average age of the audience members
20% - Women in the audience (no queues for the loos!)
14 – Number of women I saw wearing snake skin stilettos, fishnet tights and leather mini skirts
80% - Unacceptably unattractive people.
9.5 – length in minutes of the drum solo
4 – times I gagged after being pressed into the armpit of an aging rocker.
2 – times the lead singer attempted to jump in the air with his knees together and one foot going forward and one foot going back, but realised too late he was too old to try that.
3 – Number of times Nick and I looked at each other, smirked, and remarked ‘Spinal tap’.
10 – times I nodded off listening to Nick reminisce about being 15 and loving Rush.

Recently some of you requested that I return to my staple post subjects: chickens, sewing and moaning, so marvel at my skillful and seamless link between the two most unlikely of subjects, Rock concerts and quilting:

Rock on!

The image and link for the website was sent to me by Tony. It cheered me up immeasurably.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Post for Architects only

Do any of you Architects out there have the Cavity Tray Ltd booklet knocking about your desk, like I do? It’s A6 size, and Orange and has every kind of cavity tray, flashing, DPC, perp-end vent and solum vent product imaginable.

Is it just me or does flicking through the book bring you out in cold sweats of worry? I was happily looking for the Type X remedial cavity tray for gable abutments when my eye was caught by numerous other products I never knew existed, but now know are indispensable! Oh no! I didn’t specify a Type Q arresting barrier!

And before, when I just specified ‘perp-end vents’, I am now faced with the choice of a see through beak weep, an adjustable telescopic weep, or a euroweep-vent, as well as the basic type W cavity perp weep ventilator.

I suspect the only Architect reading this will be Jane, and she probably has 10 technicians working for her who take on the responsibility of fretting about perp end vents. My technician (note the singular) is too busy to help me at the moment, and my new year out student only started on Monday and is just starting to learn how to draw straight lines in CAD. The mine field of beak weeps might just scare her off for good.

For the education of Non Architects:

A type X Cavitray:
Every stepped and staggered gable abutment must be so constructed to prevent rainwater and dampness from penetrating below the abutting roof line. This is because the external skin changes status below the roof line and becomes an internal skin. Accordingly, any preformed system must meet three basic requirements:
1 It must prevent dampness from penetrating below the critical stepped roof line.
2 It must externally weatherproofs and flash the physical roof/masonry intersection.
3 The arrangement must always protect the inside skin also from becoming damp.

A Beak Weep provides an alternative way of releasing penetrating water from lintels and cavity trays installed within a cavity wall. The beak weep matches the height of a standard perp joint, but has a reduced front section shaped to be almost indistinguishable from the mortar joint.

Special talents

Mums always tell their children that everyone in the world has one exceptional talent that makes them special and unique in the world. This is a well meaning attempt at bolstering a child’s confidence and belief that they can make something of themselves in the world.

My best special talent is Tongue Gymnastics. This includes poking my tongue up my nostrils, wrapping it around in weird shapes, and folding it in half. My other special talent is having an extremely loud and carrying belly laugh. This can be heard rebounding around which ever building I am in.

I struggle to imagine how either of these gifts would ever help me ‘get on’ in the world. However I need despair no longer! I have discovered a new talent that could be of great use, had I more dubious moral values. It would seem I am a dab hand with a crow bar.

Last night Nick struggled to dismantle some built-in wardrobes for ages, and abandoned the attempt in disgust. I pitched up, wielding my crow bar with a scary amount of skill, and had the job done in a flash. When we started on the second set of wardrobes I taught Nick all my innate and inborn skills. He soon started enquiring where I had learnt my crow bar techniques, and how come I knew so much about leverage?

Perhaps this is evidence of a past life? So much for hoping I used to be an aristocratic lady poet swooning on a chaise longe in my Morning room with blue silk curtains. It seems that I used to be burglar. I bet I was a cockney with a big red lumpy nose living in a lodging house in a sooty back street. I bet I was known throughout the criminal underworld as the bloke who can get you in anywhere, using only a slim crow bar that I conceal in my trousers, undetectable to any passing policemen.

Does anyone wish to confess their special talent?

PS I knew a boy at school who could breathe throuh his ears.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Scottish Quilt Championship shock!

I went along to the Scottish Quilt Championships yesterday to see how my entries had fared in the competition. It was the first time I have entered anything like this before, and this is what I found pinned to my quilt:

I was so delighted and felt really proud of myself. I found out that the 'judges choice' certificate means that, while it was not awarded best in the show, it was that judge's personal favourite. The comment at the bottom says 'A most intriguing piece of work. Well designed'

I am more than happy with this verdict because I'm not interested in being judged on how neatly I can bind the edges, or how regular and straight my stitches are. I make the quilts as art, so it's actually very difficult, if not impossible, to judge them against the more traditional quilts in the competition.

It was quite funny listening to people standing looking at my quilt trying to figure out what it is, and when one person can see the face and the other just can't. 'Look, there's the nose, and that's the mouth' 'where? I can't see it!' 'There look'.

It's easy to see the image when the quilt is shown small, like on the screen here, but in real life you do have to stand quite far back to be able to see the image.

I told you, fuckwittage follows me everywhere...

Nick and I walk into Greggs bakery on Saturday:

Nick: (gesturing to the hot pie counter) What pies have you got?
Bakery girl: (looks blankly) eh?
Nick: (pointing at the large selection of hot pastry goods lined up on the counter) These pies here - what's in them?
Girl: We haven't got any pies.
Nick: What are these?
Girl: They are pasties.
Nick: Right. ok. What pasties have you got?
Girl: ermmm... (looks for help)
Another girl in blue hair net: (points vaguely at pasties) err...chicken...some kind of beans.....
Nick: ....I'll just have 2 sausage rolls please. Sorry if I caused any confusion.


Me: So whats the latest with the badger situation?
Boss: I'm glad you asked me that. We are going to build a man made badger sett here, and surround our site with one-way badger fencing.
Me: One-way badger fencing? Does that really exist?
Boss: Of course!

Long pause...

Ian: Did you know, Badgers like to slide down hills.
Me: What! For fun?
Ian: No, as a means of getting to the bottom.

All of us: (dissolve into helpless mirth)
Free Web Counters