Giant Christmas Doughnut!

I have said it. The ‘C’ word. I am sure for the crafty community the ‘C’ word has been a big part of their endeavours for some time now.

I have made a couple of things for my granddaughters and one project (which is enormous) has been benched until next year. My Christmas 2021 crafting seemed finished. Happily I had something waiting in the wings.

Last year I spent much of the run up to Christmas making the Clothkits quilted jackets for Peanut and Munchkin. I had no time to use the bundle of pre-printed fabrics that had been given to me by friend JG.

This year because of the aforementioned ‘benching’ I found myself with a window to complete a Yuletide project that got left behind last year.

Amongst the festive pre-printed fabrics donated by JG was one that looked like it had the makings of a large door garland. It was already cut out and ready to go.

All that was left to do was:

Sew.

If you are ever confronted by such a design remember do not sew up any part of the middle circle – I mean what idiot would do that … – as you won’t be able to turn it out to the right side.

Press.

Those tailors’ hams certainly proved invaluable for this one.

Turn out.

I added a ribbon tab as I was planning to hang it on my front door.

Stuff it and stitch up the middle hole.

At that point I discovered – having already used copious amounts of stuffing – when hung up the would-be garland pulled on the panel at the top! It looked rather saggy (know how it feels). Not wanting to use even more stuffing it was time for a re-think.

Despite the fact that the Giant Christmas Doughnut reminds me of the type of cushion you might want to sit on after a painful piles operation it appears to be destined to be an addition to my sofa during the festive period. That seems a bit of a waste. Have you dear readers any better ideas?

Looking at it now I am wondering if I took out one panel it could become one of those horseshoe cushions you wear around your neck on long journeys. Now there’s a thought. What a way to travel to Yorkshire this Christmas! Whether my son and daughter share the same view when they ferry me too and fro – there being very little public transport – is another thing …

For their sakes I hope you come up with something better!

Mx

Leaving is never easy to do

While it is exciting to start a new job it is equally hard to leave an old one. On Wednesday I did my last shift at Sainsbury’s (a large supermarket chain here in the UK) and I confess I left with a heavy heart.

When I returned from a sabbatical of several months for family and travel back in 2018 I needed to find a job. Having commuted to my previous employment top of my new job wish list was ‘MUST BE LOCAL’! I wanted to be able to get to work under my own steam either by bike or foot.

This was not as easy as it might appear. I live in a fairly rural area and it has not always provided much choice of work – Covid has changed this a wee bit – but after a slight panic about actually getting a job along came Sainsbury’s.

Sainsbury’s has an egalitarian recruitment process – they have staff aged from 16 years to septuagenarians – which definitely helped me (no Spring chicken) as did the fact that a whole new store was being built in Kendal and every post needed filling.

It was a revelation to me. I had never worked in a supermarket before and it was fun to discover all the work that goes on in one. For my first job I was part of the price control team. Ever wonder who prints off and goes round the store changing the price tickets on the shelves? It was interesting and I always knew where the bargains were but often I worked on my own.

As I watched the team of early morning online shoppers whizzing about I hankered to join them. The joy of a supermarket is that, if staffing allows, your requests for sideways moves are usually granted. I became an online shopper.

To answer a couple of frequently asked questions. We do not do one person’s shop at a time we do parts of up to 8 customers shopping on each run we do, then the lovely folk in the back bring them together as they load up the vans. We are given suggested substitutions on our handsets and do not do them on a whim. Sometimes what a customer wants is just not there and we always try and provide something.

We have had an action packed 18 months in supermarkets and I think the online departments saw the greatest part of that. Online deliveries were a relatively small part of the overall sales in our store in 2019. Then along came a global pandemic and a Prime Minister telling us all to stay indoors and get our shopping online! EEEK.

Obviously we couldn’t stay indoors so armed with my ‘Essential Worker’ letter I cycled in for my shifts. We started work earlier (3am!!!) and every half hour brought a change as Online was ramped up to deal with the HUGE increase in demand. New staff were recruited, new vans brought in and new practices were instituted. I have read that online food deliveries went up by 100%, I can well believe it. My legs and shoulders definitely can.

It was a tough time and some customers were not kind (although many more were) but I think we really bonded and pushed together. We had some marvellous new staff, students who couldn’t go to Uni and sadly for them some that had lost jobs or businesses. Managers were busy spinning plates and I think did well to keep calm and share a smile and the occasional tub of sweeties.

Now however it is time for me to say goodbye to this:

And hello to this (and similar!):

Mmm strange how I have gone for the same colour palette.

My lovely online colleagues sent me off with all best wishes, super cards and thoughtful gifts (including a voucher for my favourite Kendal eatery, Waterside).

I love that they got me bulbs instead of a bunch of flowers as they knew everything needed to be packed in my panniers. They also suggested that when the blooms come out in Spring it will remind me of them. Hey folks don’t you worry you will never be far from my thoughts as I will be back in many a Saturday for my ‘two panniers’ shopping!

I think I found the perfect card to thank them with:

Bye all at Sainsbury’s Kendal. You are a wonderful bunch of hard grafting people. I have loved working with you and look forward to catching up with you all soon.

Mx

PS There were more of these vegan chocolate bars. I have scoffed all but one of them ‘cos they are delicious!

PPS My card was produced by these folks:

They have some great humorous Bayeux Tapestry style cards. Mx

The joy of stationery

One of the many pleasurable things about a new job is the need for suitable stationery: a notebook for your ‘how to’ lists perhaps or in my case a new desk diary.

It is quite a few years since I have needed a desk diary for work. I know we have Outlook and online diaries nowadays. They are incredibly useful but nothing quite beats a paper diary: a book that gives you a tactile awareness of the flow of the year.

I love A4 one-page-a-day diaries. But its October and I didn’t want to waste paper! I went academic year. While there are a couple of unused months in my new academic diary I am sure those pages will soon be used for notes.

To make my new diary perfect a couple of additions were needed.

I am sure my bookbinding friends are cringing at my clunky addition of two slim ribbons running from the spine. Sorry JG and B. However I love having markers for today’s date and the next key date.

Well folks those glorious blank pages beckon. Diary entry coming up.

Mx

The gifts that keep giving

Just a quick post today. A follow up to ‘Gifted’. Thanks again to my iron casserole and Anna Jones recipe book – ‘One pot, pan, planet’ – here’s what I rustled up for lunch.

Doesn’t filo pastry make cooking look posh?! This ‘Pea, mint and preserved lemon filo tart’ looked pretty good on the inside too.

I’ll let you into a little secret. My kitchen cupboards do not usually store a jar of preserved lemons so I used fresh lemon rind with a quick squeeze of lemon instead. It still tasted delicious. A green-ish salad – I added a few of a neighbour’s homegrown tomatoes – was the perfect accompaniment. All in all a pleasure to cook and a pleasure to eat.

The left overs will be perfect for quick meals on work days.

Mx

Crossing the road

Good news! My lovely MP Tim Farron sent me a copy of the reply he received to his request from our local bus company. Yes there is indeed a request stop on my outward journey (not shown on the website so no wonder the driver didn’t know) and the drivers have been reminded of this. Yahoo!!! I and others can use the bus to get to lovely little Plumgarths on Crook Road from Kendal. No scary, wibbly wobbly walk needed.

Unfortunately there is no corresponding stop for Plumgarths travelling from Windermere towards Kendal. So there will still be a wibbly wobbly walk home. BUT hero that he is Mr Farron has not finished. He is pushing for the infrastructure (I suspect a crossing) to make a safe stop on the opposite side of the road for the return journey. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime I think I may have to dust off these beauties…

No 1 Daughter sent me a congratulations card for the new job. She couldn‘t have chosen a more apt card.

‚Autumn Hedgehog‘ by Linda Richardson (printed by Orwell Press)

The card is both a hint as to my new employer and also a bit of telepathy on No1 Daughter‘s part. I have – unbeknownst to her – registered for a Cumbria Wildlife Trust online event entitled „Why did the hedgehog cross the road?“. I have previously enjoyed a Cumbria Wildlife event on bees and pollinators in Cumbria. It was fab. I am really looking forward to seeing what Mrs Tiggywinkle is getting up to.

Moke x

P.S. for the one reader expecting a cyclist’s rant, apologies for it‘s non-appearance. The rant was long, oh so long, and dull, watching paint dry would be far more exciting. I decided it would have been completely self indulgent to inflict it on the lovely readers of this here blog … but the next time a motorist beeeeps at me for no good reason …. Grrrrr. ….. Mx

Gifted

I have been a lucky person of late. I have been gifted things that have improved my life no end.

During the Covid lockdowns we gained some new neighbours. And great neighbours they proved to be. Ja and So jumped straight into the neighbourhood efforts to keep everyone – especially the more vulnerable residents – in touch by writing and editing ‘The Surreal Times‘ a superb community newsletter crammed with useful contacts, information, good health ideas, book reviews … the list goes on. But sadly for us Ja and So have moved on. You two are already missed! Sob.

Because they moved themselves they found not everything would fit in their car and that they needed to leave a few bits and bobs behind. I gladly gave them a home. This was not a hardship. These bits and bobs were all useful to me and included a beautiful Le Creuset shallow iron casserole. I know. Amazing. Right?

For years I have wanted a hob to oven pan and now thanks to my erstwhile neighbours I have got one. Thank you Ja and So. The casserole has already been put to good use because I have also recently received just the right cookbook.

“One Pot, Pan, Planet“ by Anna Jones was also a gift. A birthday present from my friends AC-K and JC-K. I told you I was lucky!

“One Pot, Pan, Planet“ is actually much more than a cookbook. True it comes with a mouth-watering collection of recipes. The dish in the picture is ‘Broad bean and green herb shakshuka’. It was delicious. The book also brings the reader environmental information – how to eat healthily and sustainably – and gives many ways to help us stop wasting food. It is fascinating and packed full of useful and planet/money-saving tips. I can’t recommend it enough.

They say good things come in threes and sure enough along came gift number three. Good friend JG makes superb small bag sized notebooks from old cartons and postcards.

I love them and use them for shopping and ‘don’t forget to do’ lists. These small hand-stitched notebooks fit perfectly in my teeny tiny handbag along with a pencil. By doing so they bring an element of order to my little old life. But woe is me, I had run out of pages, all the above were full. I sent a plea to JG. And like a book-binding caped crusader (no cape actually worn) she came to the rescue with a new batch.

Phew! The relief. Scribbling can recommence. Toodle-oo for now I feel a shopping list coming on …

Mx