Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hexagons of Hope . . .

. . . is a lovely idea started by a blogger in Australia who is passionate about hexagons in patchwork. Since I am quite keen on these myself, I came across this while doing some research about hexagon piecing on the Internet. For anyone interested, here is the link for this great helping hand for the sewing and craft ladies who have been victims of the Victorian bushfires in Australia. Imagine having a houseful of treasured quilts and handicraft that you have spent years sewing, collecting etc., only to have it all destroyed by fire! Heartbreaking in the extreme - we can only guess at the distress the whole event has caused. Hexagons of Hope is a way of showing these ladies that other people are thinking of them, holding out a small helping hand and doing so with love. If you are a quilter/patchworker a few of these will take very little of your time and will really help someone to carry on. Click here for more info.

PC for Cats and Dogs?

This was sent to me recently - I thought it excellent . . .

Dear Dogs and Cats: The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.
The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.
I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.
For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.
The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.
Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:
(1) They live here. You don't. (2) If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it 'fur'-niture. (3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people. (4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.
Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they (1) eat less, (2) don't ask for money all the time, (3) are easier to train, (4) normally come when called, (5) never ask to drive the car, (6) don't hang out with drug-using people; (7) don't smoke or drink, (8) don't want to wear your clothes, (9) don't have to buy the latest fashions, (10) don't need a gazillion dollars for college and (11) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children ..

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cat blanket anyone?

One of my great pleasures in life has been sewing of all sorts, but in particular, patchwork. It has been in and out of fashion with me since the seventies when I started my first patchwork quilt, a huge kingsize bedspread - talk about starting with a small project, definitely got that wrong! This 'little' starter project took me five years and could nearly have put me off patchwork for life I think! However, the mish-mash hexagon centre eventually took on a life of its own and evolved into a passable bedspread, which was finally finished during my son's baby months when I couldn't go out much. Shame eh?! We've all been there I'm sure - baby years I mean not patchworking!

I digress. From there I moved on to cross stitch, smaller projects for a start, though sometimes they seemed to take as long and once again I started with a fairly complex piece - a mother cheetah and her cubs, which hangs on the wall today. I love wildlife - especially cats (big and small) and spent many years happily sewing and creating pictures until I eventually ran out of wall space. And when I moved and had more wall space I had also bought more pictures!

So it was back to the patchwork for a while, a bedspread for a friend's marriage, one for my son, another wallhanging that was sold and went to Canada and several other small cushions and bags along the way. As well as visits to shows etc. to maintain the interest and gain inspriation from the wonderful creations of others.

Eventually 'life' took over and all things crafty paused for a while. I do think you have to be in a certain mental place to be able to create such things. Well I travelled back to that place lately and have begun once again to 'piece' as the hand sewing version of patchwork is called. Again hexagons - my favourite shape I think - but this time connected to the new addition in our lives, Sonny the cat! At least not specifically for him, but my friends' cats.

I decided last summer to make a dear friend a small patchwork blanket for one of her cats, the first of four (as she had four cats!) as an ongoing birthday come Christmas present. Seemed like a good idea at the time ! One thing led to another and now I spend a lot of time making cat blankets, or cat mats for short. If you are interested in any more photos etc. please visit

Even for those who love cats - and I know we can be an obsessive breed - this is a bit off the wall. Patchwork blankets for cats?! But then again, why not? I am sure I am not the first to make the connection. They are quick to make, easy to wash and can be placed anywhere around the house to save on the furniture. They are also so personal and unique to the cat and its 'staff' (!), that I have discovered they become quite a talking point, especially when you get into the history of the material used, if secondhand. And a lot of patchwork is made from the scrap ends of other projects or clothes. This beautiful Rag Doll puss called Oliver certainly took to his pretty quickly!
So, anybody else out there with similar stories? Til the next time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sylver Zone Vintage Prints

When I started blogging (not very regularly admittedly) I was exploring things associated with the over fifties, relationships, families, some health issues etc. A sort of logical extension of that was another form of income in case all things went pear-shaped with the jobs, recession, and anything else related to paying the bills of life!

I have spent many years exploring different ways (usually through the Internet), usually unsuccessfully it has to be said, and mainly because of a lack of focus and perhaps a lack of interest in the subject I was pursuing. However, last year I developed an interest in Antique and Vintage Prints. I love books of all kinds, fiction, non-fiction, coffee table books, recipe books, travel books, craft books - so it was a small leap to then start looking at vintage books with a view to reselling the beautiful prints and illustrations that could be found in them.

To that end the Sylver Zone Vintage Prints was born. Through eBay mostly, with small success so far, but building. And I am confident enough now to start to market the whole process more, which in turn should help build the sales. If you're reading this and are interested in such things click on the title for more information and some downloadable brochures. Let me know what you think!

New Grandchild

Another new addition to the household was my partner's granddaughter, who arrived on 26th January after keeping us all waiting for over two weeks (typical female!). This delightful baby will no doubt keep us all on our toes for some years to come, and I am (apparently) an official Step Nanny, or whatever she decides to call me when the time comes! The advantage for grandchildren of split families is they invariably end up with more sets of grandparents than the traditional two! More spoiling. I'm sure plenty of you can relate to that.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Household addition

Last year on Remembrance Day, we lost our dear old dog to a chronic condition called CDRM. I have shared my life with several pets - cats and dogs - and have never had to watch such a heart rending deterioration in my life. This beautiful German Shepherd with the most generous nature (unless you were a stranger in the house!!) gradually lost the use of his back legs and rear end, with its inevitable tragic end.

Our house has been decidedly empty ever since, not least because he was a large dog (!) in a big house. But now we have a new addition.

So, meet Sonny - a delightful black and white, two-year old tom cat. A stray brought in to the local Animal Rescue centre and just what I was looking for. Over the last couple of weeks he has gradually gotten used to us and the house and now trots around with us, exploring as he goes. He has yet to tackle the outside - we live on a very busy road - and will not do so until the summer I think. But he seems to be settling in pretty well considering he was a stray and, I suspect, did not live in a house. Although he seems pretty Ok with people.
He has some funny little habits, like laying against furniture - like a dog would, or in doorways to watch you. A great time waster, as are most animals! But already much loved and a welcome addition to our household.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Recessionary tactics

Recession seems to be the buzz word of the last few months. If you turn on the news all you hear is how the latest bank has taken a dive or a major retail outlet has closed its doors - Woolworths for heavens sake! An institution.
A recent article about the 1930s Great Depressions sparked some interest in that the author covered a more realistic outlook. Tim Price writes for the Price Report at Fleet Street Publications and was summarising a book called America’s Great Depression by Murray Rothbard.
'Rothbard, who died in January 1995, was something of a Renaissance man: scholar, economist, historian and philosopher. He was also a leading member of the ‘Austrian’ school of economics – which amongst other things maintains a healthy cynicism about the value of mathematical modelling in markets, and prefers ‘sound money’ to more speculative and ultimately dangerous credit creation. It is the perfect read for our time - not least in its suspicion of the role of banks. (You can read more about Rothbard and the Austrian school via the excellent Mises website here:'
I mention it because in his summary he states that Rothbard considered the Government's intervention in our current crisis a major obstacle to our eventual recovery, an opinion I entirely agree with. The tinkering that is going on at the moment does nothing more than lull everyone into believing that things will soon return to normal. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If we are to sort this mess out, we all need to start being more realistic, accept that everything must be deflated in value and find its natural level, before we can move forward again.
I heard on the news last night that some retailers didn't even pass on the VAT reduction to the consumers - something I would have thought was illegal - which simply means that the recession will continue for longer. Short-term tactics such as these will not improve the situation and will only make the population angry at being used yet again to shore up ailing businesses. This coupled with Gordon Brown's generous use of tax payer's money to shore up the ailing banks - isn't it our money in the first place? - makes you feel that as usual the general populous are at the bottom of the list for recovery.
As I watch my pension slowly dwindle and hope that the state pension will still be around by the time I retire, I once again feel that at the end of the day the only person you can rely on is yourself in such times and continue my search for the additional income streams to help prop up finances.
So far my vintage prints on eBay (search on eBay name 'sylverzone' if you are interested) are proving to be a slow but possible route and a website may be the next step.
Till the next time . . .