A slight obsession with books

Crafts, cats and books



Last weekend there was a cybercrop at Peartree Cutfiles. I’ve got a few of Marie’s cutfiles in my stash and really needed a kickstart with my scrapping as so far I’d only done two layouts this year. There were four challenges but you could enter each one as many times as you liked. Every layout had to include a Peartree Cutfiles cutfile.

The first challenge was a moodboard, which included hearts, colourful flowers and a cat. I was well away there. I have plenty of cat photos so did two for that challenge.

This one uses a Vicki Boutin background. I’ve got a whole pad of them and I really need to start using them as they’re gorgeous. I added some Cocoa Vanilla Sunkissed as I thought the colours were a really good match for the background. The photo is Rosie snoozing next to me on the bed. The bedside lamp throws a soft light onto her face when she lies there so I’ve got loads of similar photos.

The other one I did for the moodboard challenge is a simpler one, just taking the cat bit from the moodboard. I just love this cutfile. The next challenge was to use ‘pears’ of things on the layout. So, two patterned papers, two photos, two embellishments and two small things. I used Vicki Boutin’s Wildflower and Honey, which is one of my all time favourite collections and I love how this turned out. Challenge three was a shape challenge, with the shape being flowers. I had a couple of floral cutfiles so used those. The first one was so fiddly to back, even though it looks quite a simple one. I do enjoy backing cutfiles though, so not a problem. It’s quite relaxing to do. I used Pink Paislee Again and Again for that one. That’s another of my favourite collections.

Finally, I did this one. I used another Vicki Boutin background, again with Cocoa Vanilla Sunkissed. I was going to add some embellishment clusters, but after staring at it for twenty minutes, I decided it was fine as it was and called it finished.



An adventure playground for our cats

I posted pics of our garden a couple of weeks ago to show you the area that we’d cleared ready for the new enclosure to be erected. It looked very bare and muddy. Very muddy.

We’ve been so excited about the enclosure since we planned and ordered it last year. It’s taken a lot of hard work on Stephen’s part to get the garden ready for it and there’s a lot more work to do but the framework is now up. It’s been made to order by Bespoke Aviaries. They’ve made some beauties, which are all on their FaceBook page but I believe ours is one of the largest. It was hard to decide on colours but we went with a pale green that matches the house for the main colour and a zingy yellow for the contrast. I like it and when the landscaping is done I think it’s going to look amazing.

Would you like to see it?

It’s not the easiest thing to  photograph. It takes up so much of the garden that you can’t get it all in from outside the enclosure so you’ll have to get an idea of it from various photos taken inside it. It’s almost as wide as the house and is attached to it so the cats can come and go through the back door and a couple of windows if we leave them open for them.

The morning after it was installed and the paint was all dry, (some bits had to be touched up) we opened the back door to see if the cats would go out. Frodo was out before we had a chance to get out ourselves and Sammie wasn’t far behind him.

As you can see, we quickly added some cardboard to the ground to avoid having muddy cats. Knowing Frodo, he’d have been rolling in it. We’d been hoarding cardboard for a while as we thought we’d be needing it.

There are lots of shelves around the walls so the cats can run and jump all the way around the three sides without touching the ground if they want. Frodo soon discovered that and started to explore the higher levels.

He loves the ladders!

One of the roof supports is a brilliant scratching post with several ledges. Sammie took possession of that early on and absolutely loves it.

She’s quite fond of the other roof supports too and pretends to be a gymnast, swinging from the bars and balancing on them.

You might be wondering where Rosie is. Rosie was a bit scared of all that open space, especially as the first day was quite windy and she’s a very fluffy cat. Frodo seemed to be enjoying having the wind ruffling his fur but Rosie was not at all keen and didn’t want to go out. We’ve let her think about it over the past week or so and gradually she’s got closer and closer to the back door and eventually she ventured out onto the patio.

She wouldn’t go far or stay out long and if we went near the door, she’d bolt back inside. On one occasion, she was lurking in the doorway and Frodo left his perch at the top of the garden, where he’d been bird-watching, and came right up to her chirping at her. It’s as if he was reassuring her that it was ok and he’d look after her. She did come out a bit further that day and has been a bit braver each day since.

She had a little look at the shelves today but wasn’t too sure about them but I think once she feels more secure out there she’ll be whizzing up and down like the other two. It’s easy to forget that she’s still just a baby sometimes as she’s bigger than Sammie and catching up to Frodo. We think she may end up being bigger than him if she keeps up this growth rate.

So, there it is, the adventure playground for our cats. The plan for the landscaping inside it is some slabs round the edges, artificial grass, lots of ornamental grasses with different heights, colours and textures, plus lovely chunky pebbles around the grasses. There’ll also be a water feature for Rosie to play with if we can find what we’re looking for as we want a solar-powered one.

Then we need to tidy up the rest of the garden so it doesn’t look such an almighty mess when we’re sitting on the patio with the cats.



Happy Birthday Sammie

Sammie is two years old today and as is tradition, is being spoilt rotten.

We had a small tower in the bedroom, but it was a cheap and cheerful thing from Lidl and just wore out. The cats got a lot of use from it though so it wasn’t by any means a waste of money.

We’ve replaced it with this, and called it Sammie’s present due to the timing.

Barrel170816-08_bIt sits nicely in the cats’ corner upstairs. It’s a Diogenes scratching barrel XL and it came from Zooplus. There was a different one that looked good but the reviews were better for this one as the two lower dens are connected for more fun. It seems very sturdy and so far, Sammie seems to be enjoying it.


She’s got a bag of Dreamies that came with one of those balls that they have to play with to get the treats out. That was a present from Pets at Home. I love that they give your pets a gift for their birthdays. Sammie loves her Dreamies so she’ll really appreciate that.

She’ll get a special birthday dinner later of a Sheba dome and I gave her a tin of tuna with shrimp for her breakfast. She really enjoyed that.

She’s such a sleek, agile cat now that it’s hard to picture her as a kitten. She was so tiny and fragile compared to how she is now, although she still looks tiny compared to Frodo.

Here’s a wee gallery of some of her pics over the past two years.



What is wrong with me?

I’ve been losing things and forgetting things all over the place since we got home from Florida. I’ve no idea what’s got into me. I really need to pull myself together and get organised.

Before we went away, I put the debit card and the Costco card, plus possibly some other things, in a ‘Safe Place’. It’s so safe that I can’t find it and can’t remember where it is, or even what else was with the cards. I’m going to have another search and after that I’m going to have to phone the bank and grovel for a new card. Obviously as soon as I’ve done that, it’ll come to me where the safe place is.

The day we got back I dropped the lid to the teapot. It doesn’t keep the tea nearly as hot without it.

Yesterday my library book was due back. I suddenly realised, at 11pm, that I hadn’t taken it. I slunk into the library this morning feeling absolutely mortified. I have never late-returned a book before. I had to pay a 15p fine. So embarrassed.

I’ve no idea what I’m doing wrong but my shiny new iPod, bought on holiday, will not play on my existing dock. I bought the correct adaptor with the iPod, at an extortionate cost of $30, but it will not work. It’s not even charging on there. It’s very quiet in here without my music playing. I don’t like it.

Stephen got a tape stuck in the video player. He was trying to see if he could tune it in as it was too fuzzy to change the time on its clock display. It’s very annoying having it showing the wrong time as that’s the clock we tend to look at most. I did dinner an hour early yesterday as I forgot it was wrong.

I’m sure there’s something else that I’ve lost, but I can’t remember now. Sigh. It’s either post-holiday blues or jet lag or something like that. Whatever it is, I hope it goes away soon. I don’t like being this disorganised.


A very expensive cup of coffee

Sometimes on the way home from work, I get a coffee from Caffe Nero. A Gingerbread Latte, or sometimes a Vanilla one. Sometimes I really push the boat out, like today, and accompany it with a slice of their divine Cappuccino cake. Mmm.

A couple of weeks ago, my coffee was a bit hotter than usual so I didn’t finish drinking it before I got over to the staff car park. I popped it into the cup holder, which is between the seats, and started driving home intending to finish it when I got a chance. About halfway home I got stuck in some roadworks and knew I’d be sitting there for about five minutes, so thought it’d be a good time to finish my coffee.

Bad idea.

As I picked it up, the lid popped off and the coffee sort of erupted over the top, down the side of the centre console and under the passenger seat. There wasn’t much and I grabbed a couple of tissues and mopped up what I could see straight away. Then the lights changed for the roadworks and off I drove.

A few moments later, I noticed a warning light on my dash – SRS. That’s the secondary restraint system and according to my manual, which I checked as soon as I got home, if that light is on, the airbags could go off unexpectedly.


It also states that you should drive carefully to your nearest service centre. Is it implying that I normally drive less than carefully? I think I’m slightly offended by that.

So, I’ve been driving around with that warning light on ever since as my car was booked in for its MOT today and I was pretty certain that it was just a case of ‘coffee meets sensor’. The garage just phoned and confirmed that.

Unfortunately in order to check that, they had to dismantle some of the car and now have to completely replace the sensor. It’s £275. Plus labour, obviously. That’s on top of the cost of whatever else needs fixing to get my poor old car through its MOT.


I do love my lattes but I think it might be an idea to give them a miss from now on.


Song of the Weather – January

I loved stitching this. I did most of it on Saturday afternoon and was just waiting for one ball of Perle to arrive in order to finish it. That came this morning so today I did the last bit and my first piece of Hardanger is finished. I’m really pleased with it.

01JanuaryThe instructions couldn’t have been better. They were detailed, with clear diagrams. There was a photo of the finished piece plus a colour chart. There were diagrams of the individual stitches and instructions on how to do each stitch and the order in which to work the piece.

I’ve worked some of the stitches before on the Papillon SAL, but even if I hadn’t, I’m sure I’d have had no problems stitching this. I’m really looking forward to seeing what February’s is like now.

Song of the Weather SAL at Mabel Figworthy’s Fancies


I don’t believe it was so simple

For years my laptop has been driving me insane. It has a couple of little quirks and one of them was so bad that I was on the verge of replacing the laptop even though I can't actually afford to. It was that bad. I do a lot of typing on it. Maybe not a lot compared to some people, but enough so that when the laptop keeps going into deep sleep mode every other time I touch the keyboard, it's very annoying.

It was worse if I wanted to use the number keys at the back. It really hated me to use those. Sometimes, I didn't even have to touch them. I only needed to attempt to type and it would turn off. It's taken me five attempts to type an ISBN or my email address before now. And I can type my email address really fast now. I've had to learn to in order to beat the sleepy keyboard.

Today I had to search around for car insurance quotes. This means typing in lots of information on lots of different websites. And, it means using the number keys. I was pretty sure if I tried this on my laptop, I'd be pulling my hair out within half an hour. I could have used the desktop – Old Clunky – but as his name suggests, he's old and slow and would take so long that my insurance would probably have expired before I'd found a suitable quote.

So, I did the only sensible thing. I nicked Stephen's laptop. It's not perfect. It runs Windows 7, which I don't like. This is probably because mine runs Vista, Old Clunky runs XP, and I can't be bothered to learn yet another system. So I dislike it on principle. Also, he has no mouse and I really dislike using the swishy pad thingy. It's just so inconvenient. Pah.

It does however stay on when you're typing. Or, I thought it did. An hour into the intensive searching and it started to turn itself off whenever I typed. I wasn't impressed. It was actually worse than mine.

Something needed to be done here. I consulted Google and found out that lots of other people had exactly the same problem with their Dell laptops. Ah ha! There was one thing that we all had in common. We all wore magnetic bracelets. So this meant that…

My laptop kept turning itself off when I typed, because of my magnetic bracelet.

I feel the need to say that again.

My laptop kept turning itself off when I typed, because of my magnetic bracelet.

It was that flamin' simple. Years of frustration because the lid of the laptop has a magnetic catch. When the base of the laptop senses a magnet, it thinks the lid is closed and it goes into deep sleep. The catch is just where your right wrist sits when you touch type, and if the bracelet is loose and is further down your wrist, it doesn't catch there until you reach for the numbers.

Isn't it so obvious once you know?

The solution is to go into the control panel and alter the settings so that it does nothing when the lid is closed. It appears to be fixed now as I've typed all of this and it's been fine. Years of frustration over a bracelet.

All I need to do now then, is find out why this laptop sometimes decides it can't 'see' the router. If the problem is as glaringly obvious and simple as the other one, I should be laughing, eh?


No more runtime error

So, apparently I had a corrupted MediaDatabase.db3 file. Of course I did. No idea what one of those is, but thanks to Google (and several interesting Forum conversations that led me to the correct solution on the Adobe website), I’m up and running again.

Which means that now I have a much better photo of my little row of books.

I do love Elements 🙂


I waved at the Olympic torch this morning

It’s not every day you can say that really, but when it’s practically going past the end of your road it seems rude not to.

Considering it was at 7am on a Sunday morning there was a surprisingly large turn out too. Apparently I wasn’t the only person who thought that way. I’d been watching the live feed since it left the city centre at 6am so I knew when to leave the house. Crafty, eh? There had been people all along the route but I still didn’t expect to see so many people when I got around the corner. This is the view looking down the route while I was waiting.

I waved at the Olympic torch this morning
There were hoards more people lining both sides of the road behind me. Didn’t we have a gloriously sunny morning for it? After the soggy start to the day they’ve had on some occasions I thought we were quite lucky. It was still a bit chilly though.

The first signs of the relay arrived shortly after I did in the form of this.

I waved at the Olympic torch this morning
I didn’t expect there to be so much to the parade. There were many more vehicles than I’d realised. I was handed a flag by someone on a Cola bus, waved at by someone on another bus and wished a good morning by a policeman on another. It was a rather jolly atmosphere. One of the buses had a message on the front informing us that the Olympic torch was just 6 minutes away. Exciting, no? I didn’t get a photo of the 6 minutes bus, but the Cola bus was too interesting not to.

I waved at the Olympic torch this morning
And after all, they did give me a flag…

You could hear the torch coming from quite a distance with all the cheering and horn tooting. Once it arrived though it was gone in a flash. Our runner was number 18 and he was quite speedy. As there were so many people I couldn’t get a front on picture so I had to rely on trying to get a snap as he sped past. It’s not brilliant but at least I got his head in, and the all important torch. (although one of his feet is partly missing)

I waved at the Olympic torch this morning
I’m not sure I like the way the chap in grey is looking at me. I wasn’t doing anything. Honest. I was standing on the kerb, just like I was told. Gulp.

Oh, and the torch is lit although the bright sunshine (not a phrase we’ve heard much this year) has made it look as if it isn’t.

I made a hasty exit once I’d got this photo to avoid being trampled by the crowd, half of whom were also exiting. The other half were running alongside the torch and I was quite keen to avoid them.

So, twenty minutes standing on the side of the road to see a chap in white flash by with a torch held high. Was it worth it? Oh yes. It’s one of those once in a lifetime things, isn’t it. And what was rather fun, was that once I got back to the house, I was able to rewind the live feed and watch myself taking that photo of the runner.

How cool is that!?


New toys

The spreadsheet and word processor in Works are pants. Seriously pants. And all that came with my laptop was Works. On the desktop PC I have Office 2003. Yes it's old. It runs XP but it works, although very, very slowly. Which is why I usually prefer to play work on my laptop. But Works is pants. You see my dilemma?

I love organising stuff in Excel. I have all my To Be Read books in it. All the 1001 books are listed in it with lots of bells and whistles so I can arrange them how I want, and mark off which ones I have on Mt. TBR, which ones I'm in a bookring for and which ones I've read. It keeps track of how many of each there are, by number and percentage. I had great fun working out how to do all that too.

Works doesn't do any of that. You can't even use pretty colours. It's pants.

A couple of days ago I cracked. I couldn't cope any more. I'd been looking at Excel for a while but it's so expensive and I really couldn't justify it. Then I spotted that if I bought Office suite 2010, it was actually cheaper and I'd get Word and a couple of other programs too.

I've just installed it.

It looks very different to Office 2003. I think I'm going to have a lot of fun figuring out what all those tabs and whotnots do.

I'm in software heaven.