Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017–The Year in Review

Warning – Long post, photo rich

Another year has flown by, and my goodness, what a year it has been. Here is my annual review of what has happened in my life over the past twelve months.


The most significant event was the death of my mum on 9th December. She was 96 and was ready to go. Over the past few years her quality of life had deteriorated greatly and she spent the final couple of years in residential care, almost completely deaf and unable to do much. I often think that the progress of modern medicine may have succeeded in prolonging life, but if the quality of that life has deteriorated to the extent that it no longer holds any pleasure, what is the point? I am absolutely against euthanasia, but do not hold with “striving officiously to keep alive…”

Although during my adult life, my relationship with Mum was not what it might have been, I have many good memories, and am grateful for many things – during my childhood she was always there for us, with a hot meal on the table when we would arrive home hungry from school; she was always taking us out for walks, outings to the seaside with our little friends, and providing memorable birthday parties and so on. I learnt my home-making skills from her and am so grateful for the knowledge passed down through the generations from mother to daughter, so often lost these days when economic pressures make it necessary for mothers of small children to be so often out of the home in paid employment.

My hubby

All through this year my hubby has been far too busy, rushing around and hardly being at home. This has made him very tired when he has been home, dropping straight off to sleep in front of the TV etc.! I had been on at him for taking on too much, and the need to remember that he is no longer 30 years old! Then, at the end of November, he slipped and fell, and broke his leg, and he has been immobilised since then, walking with difficulty on crutches and not being allowed to put his foot on the ground. It has been touch and go whether he would need it pinned but they seem to think he’s doing OK for now, but he’s going back to the fracture clinic in four weeks’ time and they will make the final decision then. He is going to be in plaster for a long time, it seems. During this whole time he is unable to drive, and we have been very stuck, but our wonderful friends, neighbours, people from church and family have been very supportive and helpful, taking us out when necessary for hospital appointments and other engagements, doing odd bits of shopping and helping with things at home.

02 Lily Wrapped in Blanket 27-12-17

One friend said it was a good thing he was immobilised for a while because it would make him stop and rest a bit! Also, being unable to rush around all the time, he now has time to sort through all Mum’s papers and deal with things following her death.

I have found this whole period a great strain because I can deal with our normal life OK, managing what I have to do and factoring in the necessary rest times, but with my hubby so out of action, I have not only had him to look after, but have also had to do a lot of the things that he would normally be doing, and there have been times when having to keep constantly on the go, and simply having too much to do, it has all got too much for me and I’ve lost the plot and thrown a wobbly. I find that with my ME brainfog (and probably residual chemo brain – this has definitely affected my memory and concentration as well) that I tend to cave in under too much stress and don’t deal with it too well. I have also been carrying the anxiety about my present state of health, not to mention the stress associated with Mum’s death and all the extra things to do because of that, and then Christmas in the middle of it all.

I yearn for a period of peace and quiet and our lives returning to some sort of normality.

Health Issues

It has been another significant year for me, health-wise. In 2015 I was successfully treated for bowel cancer, and throughout 2016 I enjoyed better health than I had done for years, with the eradication of my ulcerative colitis after the removal of my entire colon. My ileostomy was very settled and easy to manage throughout the year, and I believed that this would be the story of the rest of my life, but in the autumn of that year I developed a parastomal hernia.

At the end of January this year, this caused an obstruction which necessitated emergency surgery and a two-and-a-half week stay in hospital, very poorly, and taking quite a long time to recover. A simple sutured repair of the hernia was performed by a general surgeon and as anticipated, this failed, and by the autumn the hernia had returned, and it is now in the same state that it was at the beginning of the year, causing me to be fearful of another blockage, and history repeating itself before my specialist colorectal surgeon can perform a proper repair and insert a reinforcing mesh.

I was due to see him before the year’s end, but this has not happened, and I now have to wait till mid-January to see him. I am hoping that now that the hernia has returned, and knowing my history, he will be prepared to have me in for elective surgery before it causes me another obstruction.

My system remains free of cancer, which is something on the plus side. I have seen the oncologist twice during the year and she is very pleased with me. I continue to suffer from peripheral neuropathy as an ongoing side effect of the six months of chemo I had in 2015, and this may or may not clear up; whatever happens, it is a small price to pay for survival!


I began the 5:2 diet in the summer of 2014. I had to take a break from the diet throughout 2015 while undergoing cancer treatment, but I resumed it in 2016, and this year I reached my target weight, having lost a total of 4 1/2 stone, and losing 10 inches around my waist! I have a tremendous sense of achievement over this as it proves that it can be done, and through diet alone as well, because with my ME I am unable to take sufficient exercise to make any difference to weight loss.

I am absolutely delighted to have been able to get rid of clothes that are now too big for me (trousers and leggings that wouldn’t stay up!) and to have an excuse to buy some new things, but above all, to be able to get into some old favourites again! For years my friends were telling me to get rid of these clothes because I should be realistic and accept that I’d never again be as thin as I once was, but I have proved them wrong. I had a lot of clothes that I really loved, and couldn’t bear to part with, and they are now wearable again. This makes me feel good, good, GOOD!!

Here’s me in my Afghan Nomad Dress (which I made years ago – definitely in the 1990s as this photo was taken when we lived in Plymouth:

Afghan Nomad Dress 4 - Spread Skirt

And again, on Christmas day this year:

05 My Christmas Outfit

Here are my “before and after” pics – the first was taken in 2013 (the year before I started the diet) and the second was taken this May. I  can’t believe I looked like that…….

Weight Loss Comparison, 2013-2017


Another significant, and sad event during this year was the death, only three weeks apart, of our beloved old kitties Beatrice and Phoebe.

Beatrice and Phoebe Cuddled Up on Bed 19-2-06

Phoebe, aged nearly 14, developed bowel cancer and had to be put down; she had also suffered from grand mal epilepsy for the last couple of years of her life, which was extremely distressing. After she died, Beatrice, nearly 17, seemed utterly lost without her, despite the fact that they were never that close. She lingered in all Phoebe’s favourite spots as if looking for her to return, and went completely off her food, until she became so weak and obviously heart-broken and grieving, and she was put down three weeks later. We knew that both of them, being in poor health, would die this year, but we never thought it would happen so close together.

Then followed six weeks with no kitties in the house. This is only the second time this has happened to us in over 30 years of marriage, and it was very hard!

We found our new babies online, and at the end of July we drove over to west Dorset to collect them. Amazingly, they were born on our wedding anniversary (24th May)! We won’t forget their birthday in a hurry.

Here they are at 5 weeks, when we were first introduced to them (we couldn’t have them till they were 9 weeks old).

15 Kittens

This is what they look like now – I can’t believe how much they have grown!

03 Together on Cat Tree 28-12-17

Lily and Ruby are now (unbelievably!) seven months old, and so much part of the family that we cannot imagine life without them. They are an utter delight, full of personality, and so pretty too! I’ve done lots of blog posts about them – far too many to provide links for, and I have also made numerous videos of them which are on my Youtube channel.


Back in March we discovered dry rot under the kitchen floor, which was a worrying thing because we knew it would be very expensive to deal with.

04 Rot in Bottom Cupboard 25-3-17

It turned out to be only in one small isolated area and although costly, a lot less so than we’d been led to believe, which was a huge relief. Work began in April.

01 Original Cupboards Closed 25-3-17

It meant that the old-fashioned cupboard in the kitchen had to come out (it was a pain to use anyway, so no great loss) and we then had to wait until July before the carpenter was free to come and make me a beautiful walk-in pantry.

During this time I used the kitchen in Mum’s flat (which occupies half the downstairs of the house) – very small and cramped, but perfectly adequate!

08 Decamping into Flat Kitchen 1 8-4-17

The new pantry completed:

16 Finished Pantry Door Closed 7-7-17

46 Pantry Complete - Gen View 24-7-17

The whole unpleasant matter of the dry rot turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the new pantry has made my life so much easier, and I continue to be thrilled to bits with it. I made some extra shelves to house all my supplies, and I made some decorative labels to go on my jars, and the whole thing looks fantastic!


Considering what else has gone on, I’m happy to say I have been able to do some baking and cooking this year. I find this very therapeutic.

03 Loaf Sliced, Detail

Baking for Cancer Cakeathon

I went on a bread baking day too (my hubby won the ticket for that).

01 Blue Basket of Bread

Finally, I cooked my first Christmas dinner for over ten years.

Christmas Dinner 2017

For our annual family get-together after Christmas, I made four puddings:

02 4 Puddings (Annotated)

Cancer Group

Our monthly cancer Cakeathon continues but we are now meeting here at my home instead of at the cancer support centre. Numbers have dropped off somewhat over the last few months because people have been busy with other things. I bake regularly for these meetings. One of our members had a coffee morning in aid of Macmillan’s this year and several of us attended that, and we baked for it too. I am perpetually grateful for all the wonderful friends I have made through getting cancer.

Bible Study Group

This has been ongoing too – our numbers remain small but they are so faithful and I am grateful for that! We completed our course on the Tabernacle, and have done occasional sessions on the Feasts of the Lord to coincide with the calendar dates on which these fall, and we began a major course on Prophecy, interrupted by a short course on Salvation (since the subject was raised by one of our members – we are very flexible about what we do!) – to be completed in the New Year. There is a lot of work involved in preparing the sessions, including designing the PowerPoint slides (which are creative and fun to do) but I find it very fulfilling, and just lately it has been something which has encouraged and built me up in the middle of a lot of troubling events.

03 The Messianic Line from Eve to Jesus

03 Blind Chance or Design


As a result of everything that has gone on this year, I have found it very hard to find the time, energy and concentration to do much art at all, and my studio has lain neglected, a sad, dust-gathering dumping ground, for far too long. I have got new stash which has been sitting around for months not even opened. I hate the fact that it is always my creativity which suffers the most when the pressures of life encroach. When time has become available, I have found that I am too tired to do anything, which is an ongoing frustration.

However, I have managed to achieve something!

Mamhead Album completed:

01 Front Cover

This was a project I worked on for several months in 2016.

I made another little book as well, this year, called “Second Wind”:

01 Front Cover

which was my first attempt at a Coptic binding.

I had hoped to finish the other book I have been working on by the end of this year but with the pressures on me over the past few weeks, this hasn’t been possible. This is a book giving examples of all the different techniques you can use with Infusions.

WOYWW 420 21-6-17

I also made a selection of simple stamped cards to replenish my stash:

16 Six Completed Cards

I made a couple of cards for my hubby, one for his birthday and one for our anniversary, both mixed media with Infusions.

2 Cards for N - May 2017

I have done some Zentangle in the iPad Pro this year. This was my best piece.

Gold Fold

I did some other digital art using the Procreate app as well, including this picture, following along with a Youtube tutorial, and adding the silhouettes of some trees to make it my own:

Sunset with Trees

I also continued with some digital mandalas which I save as outlines, and can then colour  as I wish.

Lotus Mandala Pink

This year I acquired an excellent video editing app for the iPad Pro called Luma Fusion, and have been able to make a lot of videos (mostly of the kittens) to upload to Youtube. Very convenient, very user-friendly. One of the best things is being able to use the iPad as a video camera so no transfer of video from one device to another is necessary. All I have to do now is rig up the iPad over my work space instead of my normal video camera.

Continuing with my ongoing embroidery project to make drapes for the bed half-tester, I’ve done a few more pieces, including these:

12 Blue Piece with Red Flower Shape Close Detail

17 Primary Colours on Striped Background Detail

I’ve also done a bit of knitting, getting involved with a project at church to provide socks for the homeless.

04 Blue Socks Completed

07 First Rainbow Sock Completed

This was supposed to be completed by the end of November, but with everything else going on, I haven’t finished the rainbow pair yet. However, I have been reassured that the project is ongoing, and someone will make sure my socks, once completed, will find a recipient!

That’s pretty much the sum total of art done this year. Not a lot to show for a whole year, is it, but other things certainly have intruded in my life big time this year!

Looking back on last year’s annual review, it’s interesting, as always, to re-read my intentions for the coming year and see how well I’ve done. As usual, the answer is, not very well!! Perhaps I should cease from this unprofitable exercise because every year, I fail!

Here’s what I intended. And whether I succeeded.

  • Not making so many cards. Yes, but I didn’t do much else either!
  • Books. Yes, to a limited degree.
  • Boxes and 3-D objects. No.
  • Textiles in my mixed media work. No.
  • Felt. No.
  • Finish all those UFOs (UnFinished Objects). No, no, no. Hopeless! They remain UnFinished.

So as usual I didn’t do too well on the resolutions scale.

Oh, I can’t help myself – I’m going to list some of my intentions for the coming year, despite what I’ve just said!!

  • Finish the Infusions Mini-Album.
  • Start using my as yet unopened Distress Oxides.
  • Make more books.
  • Make more boxes.
  • Do more mixed media stuff and incorporate different materials including textiles.
  • Make some upcycled clothing from all the bits I bought in charity shops several years ago.
  • Definitely finish some of those lingering UFOs.

We shall see how well I do in the coming months!

After such a rollercoaster of a year, I am hoping for a more peaceful year ahead so that I can draw breath a bit, and get back to normal, and have more opportunity to develop my creativity. Also, now that Mum is no longer with us, maybe my hubby and I can have a bit more time together and go on more outings as the weather improves.

Wishing all my loyal followers and friends in Blogland and beyond a very happy and fruitful year ahead.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017


First of all, I am really sorry not to have replied to the lovely comments I had on my blog last time I was on here. I shall endeavour to do so in the next few days. As you can imagine, with my mum dying, and my hubby’s broken leg, and then Christmas, I have had more than enough to cope with and time has been very short. At times I have become quite overwhelmed with everything and have lost the plot on more than one occasion. When things are normal, I can just about cope with what I have to do, but add another raft of problems and things start to go a bit pear-shaped chez Shosh.

However, over the past few days things have generally been better. We have had a quiet couple of days over Christmas with no visitors, and I was able to concentrate on the dinner and just spending time with my hubby and the kitties.

We have loved having everyone dropping in to see us, but it all takes up such a lot of time and I can find my schedule slipping alarmingly, and I begin to get a panicky feeling that things are slipping beyond my control. Sometimes I’ve just had to apologise to people and take myself off and get on with things, and leave them to socialise with my hubby, which has made me feel a bit rude but it was the only way to keep going. Another problem is that most people have no idea about not letting the kittens out into the house from the flat – they stand with the door open, and before we know it, Ruby has dashed off upstairs, or worse, into the kitchen and I’m terrified of her getting outside when people are in and out! I can’t blame them, because they don’t know our arrangements and their aim is to see my hubby and they aren’t concentrating on anything else, but on occasion this has happened when I am at some crucial stage with the cooking or I’m already multi-tasking more than my poor brain can cope with!

Once we are back to normal again and people aren’t in and out all the time, we will be able to give the kitties the run of the house as we were doing before. At the moment they are generally very content in the flat with my hubby – they have loved having him there all the time, with a nice big warm lap for them to sleep on, and I have been spending as much time as possible in there too.

Here is Lily, lying as she so often does these days – shameless hussy, everything exposed!!

02 Lily On her Back on N's Lap 22-12-17

She is the most soft, floppy and laid back kitty you could imagine. She’s as bad as my hubby – all she wants to do is sleep!

Here is Ruby being queen of the castle on top of the cat tree. This one’s full of life, and wriggles and fidgets when being cuddled, but purrs her head off the whole time!

12 Ruby Queen of the Castle on Cat Tree 24-12-17

Do you remember Beatrice the Computer Queen? Well, it seems that Lily is following in her footsteps! She has been helping my hubby on his laptop.

13 Lily the Computer Queen 24-12-17

Ruby, like Phoebe, isn’t a bit interested in the computer – she is more interested in having fun and generally being a really cheerful, enthusiastic kitty with no intellectual bent whatever.

Here are the latest videos of them. Can you believe they are now seven months old?

I have been doing lots of therapeutic cooking! On Christmas Eve I cooked a new recipe after watching Mary Berry on TV and just had to try her fish pie with soufflé topping. Here is the result.

Mary Berry's Fish Pie with Souffle Topping 24-12-17

The topping is done with cubed white bread and whipped egg white with a melted butter and cheese mixture. I used a combination of cod and salmon and chucked a few prawns in for good measure, and it was the most delicious fish pie I have ever tasted! This one’s definitely a keeper, and I don’t think Mr. Tesco will be persuading me to buy his “Finest” fish pie again! Thank you Mary!

My Christmas dinner was a triumph. It was the first I had cooked since 2006. That was my swan song, and I managed to prepare everything and did my best table decorations ever, but I didn’t really enjoy eating it because I was going down with a horrible flu-like illness and by tea time on Christmas day I was feeling so rough that I went to bed and didn’t get up for a week. I never bounced back from that, and it developed into the ME which has been with me ever since.

This year I was determined to cook a proper dinner again, with all the trimmings. OK, I did buy a Lidl Christmas pudding, but everything else I cooked from scratch, just for the two of us. I thought my hubby could do with spoiling, having broken his leg and been deprived of going out and doing all the things he wanted over Christmas. Here is the table, just as we were ready to sit down and eat.

01 Table Overview

Starting top left: crispy bacon and pigs in blankets. Top right: gravy, bread sauce, carafe of the delicious red wine which was given to us by our lovely neighbour. Middle, left to right: roast turkey, carved and ready to serve; three stuffings: chestnut, mealy (a traditional Scottish recipe made from oatmeal, a firm family favourite), and date and walnut; carrots and sprouts with whole chestnuts. Front row – the best roast potatoes I’ve ever cooked, after finding a tip online to par-boil them and then freeze them, and cook them from frozen, having tossed them in semolina. Crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. I used Maris Piper potatoes, which, like King Edwards, are ideal for roasting. All laid up with my best china and silver on my favourite hand-embroidered tablecloth from my Scottish grandmother.

Here is a close-up of the decoration for the table napkins.

02 Table Napkin Decoration

This is the small table centre I made.

03 Table Centre Detail

These ribbon and paper decorations were made for my swan song Christmas table and I’ve used them on occasion in between. I can mix and match the different elements.

After we’d finished, we settled down to watch the Queen’s Christmas broadcast.

04 The Queen's Christmas Broadcast

I was delighted a few weeks ago to discover that because I’d lost so much weight, I was able to get into my Afghan Nomad Dress again! I made this many years ago and could never bear to part with it. The whole of the front of the bodice is covered with hand embroidery, and it has a very full skirt, and is made of several different fabrics, all in rich colours.

05 My Christmas Outfit

A bit difficult to photograph as a selfie –here’s an old photo of myself in it when I first made it.

Afghan Nomad Dress 4 - Spread Skirt

For Christmas this year, I braided my hair with ribbons and added some gold flowers. Here’s a back view.

06 My Hair, Back View

My hubby was thrilled!


In view of all our current difficulties, we decided to have Mum cremated privately before Christmas, and then to have a memorial service in mid-January. This means we’ve got more time to plan something really special, and also more people will be able to attend who might have been away at Christmas. There’s still quite a bit to sort out, and plans for the service are coming together nicely now, and once the Christmas dust has settled, I shall be able to get down to producing the order of service as I did for Dad’s funeral.

Health Update

At long last I have an appointment to see my surgeon – on 11th January. I was getting desperate, having been promised an appointment before the end of the year and hearing nothing, so I phoned his secretary, and she passed me on to the appointments department, who immediately referred me back to her! I was spitting tacks after this. Since the return of Miss Piggy, my hernia, things have got more worrying – it is now in the same state it was at the beginning of the year when it caused a blockage, resulting in emergency surgery and me being really poorly for ages, something I am more than anxious to avoid repeating at all costs. I am suffering quite a lot of skin irritation around Kermit, my stoma, and he has not been settled all year really, and things are now worse, not better, which has been very disappointing after having such a good year last year. Hopefully my surgeon will agree to go ahead and do a proper repair in the New Year.

Finally, here is what my hubby gave me for Christmas: a set of Derwent Graphik Line Painter pens. I’d seen some reviews of these on Youtube and was longing to get my hands on a set! They come in a lovely box with a slip cover.

06 Derwemt Graphik Line Painters

Hopefully in the coming year I shall get more time and energy to do a decent amount of art, after what has been a pretty disappointing year.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

WOYWW 445–Life Gets Complicated

Another week with nothing on my desk, and I have only done a few rows of knitting on the second rainbow sock.

I am posting this on WOYWW so you know what’s going on, but I doubt if I shall have time to visit many desks this week as I’m up to my eyes.

It’s been quite a week, it really has.

Last week my hubby went in to see my mum and she was in bed and hadn’t eaten for two days, and was obviously poorly, and quite confused. They’d had the doctor for her and he thought she might have a UTI. They phoned at the weekend to say she was worse, and the doctor had been again and said she had pneumonia. Her breathing was poor and she was unable to take anything. I was out to lunch on Saturday for our church’s Christmas dinner (my hubby was unable to go because of his broken leg) and a lovely couple from church drove me home afterwards via Mum’s care home, and while I visited her they sat upstairs in the lounge and had coffee.

I sat with her for about an hour and she was unable to speak to me and obviously in distress and uncomfortable. I was so glad of this time with her despite how she was, because I had a feeling it might be the last time. The last visit I had with her a couple of weeks previously had been lovely – she was pleased to see me, and I took in my iPad with photos and videos of the kittens for her to see, which she enjoyed.

We thought she might linger a little while longer, but at about 10 p.m. the care home phoned us to let us know that she had just died.

Mum Outside Front of Yarrow

We are now in the throes of the usual paperwork and huge amount of organisation needed in the aftermath of a death. With my brainfog and lack of mobility, my hubby usually sorts this sort of stuff out, as he did marvellously well with my dad’s affairs four years ago. Of course, he is now laid up and quite immobile, and unable to drive, so life is very complicated! Everybody is being so kind – family, friends, neighbours, friends from church – with lifts, collecting documents, odd bits of shopping etc. My hubby is able to wade through papers and write letters which I have been printing out for him, and sending emails etc., and deciding what has to be done and when.

After a while I find too much information overload makes my brain want to explode, so I can only take it in relatively small doses. He keeps reassuring me that we will get through this – it’s just a bit more complicated than it would have been if he hadn’t broken his leg.

We cannot plan the funeral for any time soon – it will have to be delayed until after Christmas or even into the New Year now. We’ve already started making tentative plans, and we thought it might be nice to include “I know that my Redeemer liveth” from Handel’s Messiah, and it occurred to me that instead of having a recording, it would be much nicer if I was to sing this myself, if I am up to it! I found a Youtube video with just a piano accompaniment with no vocal part for practising, and practice is exactly what I do need to do if I’m going to make those top G-sharps!! I haven’t done very much singing recently. I have just found a useful website where I can buy digital sheet music of the piece, transposed to whatever key I want, so this may be a better option – a single tone down would probably suit me.

To add to all of this was the fact that my hubby had to go into hospital on Sunday morning very early (which made an unwelcome early start for me as he needed help sorting his stuff) for his leg to be pinned – he had an X-ray at the fracture clinic on Friday and it appears that the bones were springing apart and not mending as hoped. However, by mid-morning he was home again because his operation had been postponed in favour of more urgent cases. Usual scenario!

We had a repeat performance on Monday, and this time he was prepped and ready for surgery. However, once they got the plaster off, they found that his skin was still blistered where the plaster had chafed, right where the surgeon was going to make the incision, so all he could do was manipulate the bone back into place and strap him up again, which has certainly made him more comfortable. He was in overnight and came home mid-afternoon yesterday, with strict instructions to keep it up and rested as much as possible. He is now accepting that he has got to cancel stuff and not take on any activities. He had a nice rest in hospital, which was good, and I enjoyed a quiet day, resting and watching TV, and catching up with some emails etc.

He’s going back in again next Monday or thereabouts, and if the blistering has healed, they will proceed with the operation and pin the bone. The anticipated 4-6 weeks’ healing period in plaster will recommence from then, and several people have said that he will probably not be fully weight-bearing for some time after that, so we have no idea when he will be driving again. This is turning out to be quite the long haul, from what he originally thought was a bad sprain!

All this could not have come at a worse time, and in the middle of it, Christmas is looming, when everything slows down to a virtual standstill, with the post being delayed, etc., and also bad weather warnings too!

I am still determined to cook my famous Christmas dinner though, because even more so now, it will be a lovely treat for the two of us, and hopefully an oasis in the middle of the storm! Before my hubby returned yesterday, I spent the middle of the day in the kitchen making some stuffings, the first being mealy stuffing, a traditional family favourite from Scotland, made with medium oatmeal and onion, and for me, a turkey dinner is incomplete without it, and the second being made from dates and walnuts with a few dried cranberries chucked in.

I also discovered this week that not only can you freeze par-boiled potatoes in order to save time on the day, but if you roast them from frozen, they come out even crispier and more delicious than normal! I prepared a whole 2.5 kg bag of Maris Piper potatoes (a nice floury variety that roast well) and froze them separately, so I can take out as many as and when I want.

I had bought a cheap white loaf for crumbs for the date stuffing, and with the rest, I treated myself by making Delia Smith’s marmalade bread and butter pudding from her winter recipes book. This is one of the most delicious variations of this pudding that I have ever tasted! By the time I’d finished all this cooking, my hubby was returning, and it was mid-afternoon before I was able to sit down to enjoy it.

With so much to do, it might seem silly to take on all this extra cooking, but I found it so therapeutic and I got really stuck in and enjoyed doing it so much. I enjoy cooking in my lovely kitchen, particularly with my gorgeous new pantry making things so much easier.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017


Nothing on my desk yet again… Just when I thought I might actually get some studio time, last Tuesday afternoon my hubby slipped in the street and broke his leg. He is now in plaster from toes to knee and is not allowed to put his foot on the ground, so he’s hobbling around on crutches which is a real struggle for him. Added to this, for the first three days he was in a temporary plaster to allow the swelling to subside, and this has seriously abraded his skin, causing him a lot of pain. He’s been back to the hospital a couple of times, and at the fracture clinic they put a new, permanent plaster on, and dressed the blistered skin. On Monday they drained off quite a bit of blood from the swollen blisters and this has relieved the pain somewhat. He’s going back on Friday for his scheduled appointment, when they will re-X-ray his leg to see how the bone is knitting.

He will be in plaster from 4-6 weeks. He’s sure it will be 4 weeks, but I am a bit more realistic, given his age, and think it more likely to be 6!

This has caused a major disruption in our lives, because we are needing lifts everywhere, and during this first week I was very busy with activities and appointments out of the house, after a relatively quiet period. I was unable to attend the Ileostomy Association meeting I’d been looking forward to at the weekend, because I had no way of getting there. For other things I managed to get lifts, but this isn’t as straightforward as it might be, because I need the wheelchair, and not everybody has a large enough car to carry it. I’ve taken off the powered wheels, which are extremely heavy, and hard to take on and off, and am using the regular, lightweight ones which are easy peasy to snap on and off, making the chair easy to transport, but it makes it a lot harder work for me to propel myself. Fortunately, so far, I haven’t had far to go.

On Thursday I had my six-monthly oncology appointment at the hospital, for which I got a lift. No problems there – I knew from my CT scan in September that all was well, and my recent bloods confirmed this. We spent most of the time discussing the hernia problem that I have, and I said I was concerned that I still had not had an appointment to see the surgeon. She said she would chase this up herself, which was a relief – I thought she might make better progress on that front than I could! Still nothing, though, and it’s been another week. I’d been told I would be seen before the end of the year, but this is looking less and less likely. The hernia is larger than it was and is causing me more discomfort, and I am scared of another blockage, and ending up in hospital having emergency surgery again. What I want is a proper, scheduled operation performed by my own specialist colorectal surgeon, and I think that the way things now are, that he is more likely to agree to do this, but I’ve got to see him first!

Fortunately we got the kittens’ spaying out of the way before my hubby broke his leg. We had such a lot of trouble with both of them pulling their stitches out, necessitating numerous return visits to the vet, and this would have been a nightmare had my hubby not been able to drive. For their final appointment, I got a lift and took them down, and they had their little body suits removed, and their wounds had both healed up beautifully, and the fur is starting to grow back again. Lily has now finished her antibiotics and no longer has diarrhoea, and she seems in much better spirits; the two of them have had endless chasing games and wrestling matches, and my hubby has been sitting with them in the flat and enjoying their antics, and when they have worn themselves out, they have loved cuddling up on his lap for warmth.

They are now six months old, and have had a growth spurt! They do look a lot bigger since their body suits were removed, because the fur has fluffed up again. The vet weighed them and they are both over 2 kg each. Although Lily looks bigger than Ruby, Ruby surprisingly weighs more – she must be more dense! Lily is incredibly soft and fluffy with the most amazing fur I’ve ever felt on a cat, and she’s so relaxed and floppy when you cuddle her – I can’t get enough of it (and neither can she, it seems!). Ruby is a great wriggler and very active, and it doesn’t take her long to start fidgeting when you’re holding her, but she purrs and purrs throughout, and she will lie in my arms with her paws in the air, just gazing up at me!

Yesterday we decided that they probably needed to be eating more, so from today, I have been giving Lily a whole pouch of kitten food at each meal instead of 2/3, and she’s been wolfing it down like there’s no tomorrow, and ending up with a round little belly like a football! Since the early days, Ruby won’t touch wet food and will only eat biscuits, and I’ve increased her quantities too. She drinks a nice lot of water, which is a good thing, since she’s not getting any in her food. They definitely have their own preferences and likes and dislikes, and it’s fascinating watching these emerge as they grow. They’ve really been enjoying my hubby’ immobile company and when I’m not there, they spend most of the time cuddled up on his lap, but they always get off when I come in, and come to greet me and demand cuddles. Highly responsive, loving and affectionate kitties!

I am having a job trying to get my hubby to rest, though, and let his leg heal up properly. He has loads of things he’s arranged to do, and thinks the world will collapse if he cancels anything! Just watching him trying to walk makes me feel tired! He can hardly get in and out of the front door, and the whole effort of walking, even from his chair to the loo, is taking a lot of energy and is obviously tiring him.

When he was out a couple of days ago I had a bit of “me” time and had a friend from our cancer group around and we had a lovely chat over coffee, which was great. It made me feel more human again! She’s such good news and it was a real tonic to see her. Today I have been out for lunch with the two friends I met in hospital when we were all in together two years ago, and have remained friends ever since, and get together when we can. This also really helped keep me going!

I’ve also started doing some Christmas cooking which is very therapeutic – over 2 dozen mince pies yesterday. It is tiring though! Over the next few days I’m hoping to get the stuffings made, and some other advance preparations that can go in the freezer. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve cooked a Christmas dinner and for the first time I feel well enough to tackle it, and I shall really enjoy it, even though it’s just for us two! It’s so lovely being able to spread the load and freeze things in advance, and I shan’t be making a pudding or a cake – Lidl does such good ones, and very reasonably priced, too. I love the aftermath, because you get all that fabulous cold meat that you can do so much with, and above all, the carcass from which you can make gallons of delicious soup! I’ve bought a medium-sized turkey and this will keep us fed for ages into the New Year. There’s absolutely nothing like home cooking!

No time this week to make much progress on the second pair of socks I am knitting for the homeless but I’ve been assured the project is going on after November, and anyway, there is someone in our church liaising with the groups helping the homeless, so there’s nothing to stop me continuing after the official programme ends. Here’s a picture of the socks so far – I’ve completed the first one and made a start on the second. They will look less lumpy after they have been blocked.

06 Rainbow Socks WIP

07 First Rainbow Sock Completed

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

WOYWW 422–Infusions, Gesso and Socks

Well, here’s some amazing news from Shoshi – managed to spend some time in the studio this week and actually start creating again!! It felt good, good, good.

My desk on Tuesday evening:

WOYWW 442 Main Work Zone 22-11-17

Over on the other side of the room it’s pretty chaotic as well, because I’ve got a lot of knitting stuff out – no point putting it away while I’m still looking for colours for my socks!

WOYWW 442 Other Side of Room

I needed to make a card quickly for someone but as it turned out, I knew I wouldn’t get it finished in time, so I found one I’d made some time ago and gave her that one instead, but continued with what I’d started. Unfortunately the Infusions Mini-Album is still on the back burner but I have been working with Infusions again.

04 4 Small Infusions and Gesso Backgrounds Complete

Remember this technique using gesso from my mini-album?

82 Brayered Gesso

I really loved the effect you can get by applying gesso to the surface, sprinkling on Infusions and then brayering over it. It gives a gorgeous subtle streaked effect.

In the four samples above, I did the first one (top left) in the standard way, and the rest were the result of mopping up the mess on the craft sheet, and adding more gesso and infusions. The Infusions subtly colour the gesso the more they are mixed.

I made a selection of die-cut circles from these samples. I’ve started making some card bases with gesso and inked backgrounds to put these on, and they will then be embellished in various ways. This is a stash-busting exercise as much as anything – covering up some over-bright card I couldn’t see myself using, and turning it into something useful!

07 Three Completed Backgrounds with Die Cut Circles

The outer two pieces in the above photo were done with gesso and some stamping with Distress Inks, and the centre one just with Distress Inks and Infusions. You can see full details of these here.


The project from our church to provide socks for the homeless is ongoing. I’ve finished the blue pair and am very pleased with the result. They are great fun to do.

04 Blue Socks Completed

I’ve now started on a really bright pair, using rainbow colours with black. Why knit boring colours when you can go a bit wild and make something that not only keeps people’s feet warm but can help brighten their lives a bit too, with a bit of fun and colour?

05 Starting Rainbow Socks

I am hoping to complete at least one more pair after this, and hopefully if the appeal goes on, I can continue – but even if it doesn’t, there’s an initiative from the local churches to help the homeless in lots of different ways, so there will be an open channel to continue to use.


The kittens are still in their little suits.

11 Two Kitties in Body Suits 16-11-17

We are taking them back to the vet’s this week so that Lily’s stitches can be removed, and they can both have a good check-up to make sure they have done OK since their operations. Lily has been on antibiotics since her operation because they found an ulcer in her mouth, and this needs to be checked too. The poor little thing has had diarrhoea since being on the antibiotics and I think we are all keen for her to finish them asap so she can get back to normal! She’s been a bit subdued, which isn’t surprising. Ruby has been her usual bumptious self – that kitty is so full of enthusiasm for life and has the exuberant character of Tigger in the Winnie the Pooh stories! It’s very flattering how much she loves me and how she gazes up at me when I’m giving her a cuddle, and she instantly turns on her little purr engine! After years of two kitties who hardly gave me the time of day if my hubby was around, this is such a joy!

I shall miss it when her little suit comes off. She looks so like a little baby in a babygro! That is one dinky kitty.

Lily is definitely more bonded to my hubby than she is to me. I am so glad about that, and the fact that we now have “one each” as it were!

Health Update

Still no appointment from the hospital for me to see my surgeon. The hernia is causing me intermittent problems (slight pain and discomfort, and Kermit, my stoma, is definitely not as settled or easy to manage as he was last year) and it’s now visible. I am most anxious to avoid a repeat of what happened at the beginning of the year – it was exactly in this state when I had the blockage that put me in hospital for 2 1/2 weeks… I really hope my surgeon can be persuaded to get this sorted once and for all.

I had a blood test at the surgery on Monday in advance of my oncology appointment next week. This will be the final 6-monthly check-up, as it is now two years since I got my all-clear; thereafter they will see me once a year for three years, and then, all being well, I will be discharged. I’m not a bit concerned about next week’s appointment as I am convinced the cancer was all dealt with at the time, with surgery and chemo, and also, my latest CT scan in September to check on the hernia also revealed no evidence of cancer.

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