Saturday, 17 January 2015

Decorations for Half-Tester, New RUBs and a Health Update

I haven’t been blogging much lately because we’ve had major problems at home with Mum and I’ve had a bit of a reaction and felt very poorly, and the stress has made my creative mojo take a walk! However, I’m feeling a bit better now, and now I’ve started the embroidery on my bed decoration pieces, this is something I can do while in the sitting room, and I am making slow but steady progress, and really enjoying it.


I have completed the embroidery on a few more pieces – one or two I had worked on before, but felt they needed a bit more, and some starting from scratch on the machine applique. Here are the four latest pieces:

07 Four Pieces with Completed Embroidery

and here are the detail shots of each one.

08 Detail 1

I added a lot of French knots on this one! Love the bobbly texture.

09 Detail 2

10 Detail 3

11 Detail 4

It’s very disappointing how photos never show up sparkly stuff – the metallic threads look quite lost in these photos, looking more like raffia! The top one has red and gold lurex thread, the second two gold, and the bottom one has copper. The little shi-sha mirrors don’t show up that well, either, but they really twinkle in the light.

If you look closely at them, you can see that the shi-sha stitch encases the edge of the little mirror, like the setting of a cabachon jewel. The stitch is a variation of chain stitch with two parts to it – you stitch alternately around the four-sided scaffold you work initially to hold the mirror in place, and into the background fabric. I love doing this stitch. You can use it to attach other things too, and I’ve done experimental pieces in the past, attaching shells and flat pebbles. I’ll have to dig out the piece sometime and photograph it, because I don’t seem to have any photos. I did a talk on shi-sha at the embroidery group I used to belong to in Plymouth and this was one of my demo pieces. I also made this purple bodice with a mount-board frame as an example:

Dress Bodice

Dress Bodice Detail

Here is a little box I made, using the technique. To open the box, you squeeze the ends together. There is a shi-sha mirror on each of the three sides.

Embroidered Pinch Box 1

Looking back at this work, it makes me think I really should be getting back into embroidery again – I love it!!

Hopefully I’ll have some more photos of the bed decorations to show you soon. I’ve got a lot of work to do before I can start making them up, and then I shall make tassels to go on the end of each one – something I am really looking forward to doing, and I am already collecting images on Pinterest for my inspiration.

ARTHaven Organisation – RUBs

I have started adding to my existing collection of Really Useful Boxes (RUBs) again. Eventually nearly everything in my ARTHaven will be stored in these, and I am also collecting them for the shelves under the counter in my en-suite bathroom. I am delighted that after doing a lot of research and endless measuring and comparing, I have discovered that there are boxes that fit exactly in the various spaces I have! The effect is so much tidier than my endless scruffy cardboard boxes; they also keep the stuff better, and you can see through the box to see what’s in it. They have a nice uniformity of appearance whatever their size, and are starting to make my ARTHaven look really good! As the pennies allow, I shall add more in time.

On the RUB website, the prices are quite reasonable, but you have to pay postage if your order is less than £500 (and I certainly can’t afford to pay £500 all at once for boxes!). I have discovered a lot on Ebay, and you can sometimes buy multiple packs (2, 3, 5, 10 etc.) of a particular size, and many of them have free postage. Even when the price per individual box is a bit more than on the RUB website, in the long run it saves money because the postage on the RUB website bumps the price of each box up quite a lot, and also, you don’t have to buy a whole lot at once, and there are some good deals to be found.

In this photo of the floor units under the window, you can see I’ve supplemented my 9-litre collection, and also got some of the 9-litre XL boxes, which have tall lids. These are very good for storing bottles and jars, and anything that sticks up above the top edge of the box. The capacity of the box itself is the same as the regular box. The shelves in the floor units are just right for both these sizes. On the left, this large pull-out unit on casters had been a complete mess since we moved, full of a mixture of Dad’s old workshop tools, some of my tools, brackets and fixings, and my decorating stuff. This has now gone into the RUBs and once I manage to spend some time organising the contents properly, I should be able to lay my hands on what I want with ease.

01 9L and 9L XL Under Window

I love how the blue handles clip in place, locking the lids.

Moving over to the storage area on the other side of the room, I have the free-standing cabinet that the previous owner of the house left in my bathroom. I am delighted that each of the open shelves in the centre exactly accommodates one 19-litre RUB. I had a couple of these, and have now completed the set.

02 Completing Set of 19L in Bathroom Storage Unit

Unfortunately, because the doors occupy some space, I cannot get them in the cupboards, but that doesn’t matter because when closed, the contents don’t show anyway. The cupboards are full of fabrics, picture frames and Ikea mirrors for altering, amongst other things.

On the wall opposite the window is the large wall unit, and in this picture you can see the progress I am making. On the left, the shelves are filled with plastic containers that I got years ago from our local supermarket – they had contained things like coleslaw for the deli counter, and I asked them to save them for me, and some of them had margarine in them – I used to buy large quantities for baking, and saved all the boxes which have been incredibly useful over the years – in their first incarnation they were kitchen storage boxes, and like many of my kitchen things, eventually found their home in my ARTHaven! These containers will remain, and not be replaced by RUBs. They contain haberdashery. The centre shelves now house two 9-litre RUBs end-to-end, and one of several of the long 22-litre boxes I have, which are useful for storing rolls of paper. Not all the RUBs stack with each other, but I have found that I can stack two 9-litre boxes end to end on top of a 22-litre box. The contents won’t necessarily stay as they are – the whole thing is still in a state of flux.

03 Progress on Large Wall Unit

I am so looking forward to replacing the untidy cardboard boxes! I shall be getting some 25-litre boxes to go on top of this wall unit, and on top of my mixed media wall unit over the other side of the room as well. The shelves on the right of the large wall unit will continue to be used for drawing stuff (my Zentangle stuff is there) and I shall keep the pretty box on the top shelf, which houses my metallic embroidery threads and embroidery sequins and beads. It all just needs tidying up and organising a bit better.

The bottom shelf in the middle at the moment holds all my soap making stuff. The brown plastic box on the left has essential oils and other liquids for soap, beauty and cleaning products I am going to make. The rest of the soap stuff will go in RUBs once I get them.

Once I get the large black shelf unit in the storage area better organised, I will show you photos of that. I am very thrilled that this unit, which is all that remains of a much larger unit which came out of a shop that was closing down, is exactly the right size for some under-bed storage boxes I had (not RUBs), and also accommodate the 22-litre RUBs end-wise, and the 9-litre and 19-litre boxes.

Health Update (Not TMI, I hope!! No need for the more squeamish among you to read on…)

I am now in the throes of preparation for my regular two-yearly colonoscopy which is taking place on Monday morning. On Wednesday I stopped taking my colitis medication and also my iron, and yesterday was the first day of the special low-fibre diet you have to go on. Today is the second day. During these two days I am not allowed any fruit or vegetables, and can’t have my lovely breakfast porridge (oatmeal) and have to have cornflakes instead – I always say there’s more nourishment in the packet than in the actual cornflakes! They are soooo boring… I can have white bread (I am eating French bread which I love) and butter and other dairy stuff (milk, yoghurt, rice pudding etc.). I can have potatoes with no skins, and white rice but no whole grains or nuts. I can have protein such as chicken and fish, and I can drink apple juice, tea, coffee and plenty of water.

On the final day (tomorrow) I cannot eat any solid food except jelly, for 24 hours before the procedure, but if I have my breakfast at a reasonable time that will be OK. For the rest of the day it will just be clear soup, apple juice, water, tea or coffee without milk (which I don’t like so will avoid, apart from green tea with honey). I am allowed jelly, and jelly babies for energy! I am encouraged to drink plenty of fluids right up to the time of the examination.

Tomorrow the worst part will be taking the powerful laxatives to purge my system. I have to take a bottle of senna, and then twice during the day, a sachet of Picolax dissolved in water. The effect of this is severe and acute diarrhoea, so I intend camping out in the bedroom so I can make frequent quick dashes into my en-suite bathroom! Previous experience has shown that my rear end gets very sore, and they recommend the application of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) to soothe the skin, and I am also prepared with two packs of unperfumed moist toilet tissue. The whole business is most unpleasant, and to make it easier, I am planning on surrounding myself with my laptop, a collection of DVDs that I’ve been saving for the purpose, my embroidery, books and my iPod!! Also containers of jelly, jelly babies, a Thermos of my best Jewish chicken soup (of which I could drink gallons, no problem!) made in advance, and jugs of water and apple juice!! With the kitties for warmth and company, I should be fine.

On Monday morning my hubby will drop me off at the hospital, and they will give me a sedative before inserting the camera into my bowel. They usually need to pump you up with CO2 (they used to use air, but with the muscle relaxant drug they give you, this caused an unacceptable amount or discomfort from wind retention afterwards – the CO2 is absorbed painlessly into the body). Because people who suffer from ulcerative colitis are at higher risk than the normal population of developing bowel cancer, they will look for pre-cancerous polyps and remove any they find, and will probably take a biopsy as well. The procedure really isn’t too bad, and afterwards, because of the sedative, one remembers very little about it. There is a recovery period, and then they will give me some food. Last time I asked for brown bread egg sandwiches and a cup of tea (I had two large cups) and it tasted like a king’s banquet – even the disgusting hospital tea!! Once I am home, I can start eating normally again, and go back on my medication.

I’ll let you know how I get on…


  1. Hope all goes well for you in hospital. Sounds very unpleasant. And the other stress must be awful for both of you. Hang in there!

  2. Yes..thinking of you as you go through this most unpleasant testing. Tough times.
    Your embroidery is GORGEOUS!! You're a clever woman!
    Love that storage! I love great storage too!!
    Judy xx

  3. Hope everything went well, Shoshi! Keeping my fingers crossed for you! Lovely embroidery - I'm glad your creative mojo is back and will keep you company during your recovery. Keep those kitties close for comfort as well! I agree with you about RUBs! They are the best storage boxes on the market. I have quite a few myself and I don't buy anything else now. It sounds like they sell from their website at wholesale prices, that's why there's a £500 minimum order requirement. Keep strong!

  4. Oh wow, all those tests--what I said on the woyww post??? I won't forget!!!!

    Shoshi, your embroidery is AMAZING, absolutely gorgeous! (I love making French Knots, probably because it's the only stitch I feel proficient at, but like you say, they make such nice texture!)



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