Earth Hour 2014

This Saturday is WWF’s Earth Hour. I’m a big fan of campaigns like this, which highlight energy usage and climate change in a nice simple challenge. All you need to do is turn off your lights for an hour at 8.30pm (it’s same time whichever country you’re in).

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Australia. Last year, 154 countries took part (that’s 7000+ cities!). And even cooler, the International Space Station took part too! In the UK, over 10 million people took part in 2013, which is almost 1 in 6 Brits!

Climate change remains the biggest long-term threat to our environment, and a lot of the work being done to address this is led by charities. We need to tell our Governments to act now, and simple campaigns like Earth Hour show Governments how interested we are in these problems.

And because I can’t resist the opportunity to share a photo of the McFly boys, here’s a pic from them taking part in Earth Hour 2013!

Lego Moleskine week 7 & 8

2014 Moleskine Week 7

Week 7

There was a lot of rain this week. This was also the week the cat got a poorly eye. I went to the dentist with toothache, which I’d had since Christmas. The dentist found the tiniest crack ever. It was not proportional in size to the pain it gave me!

2014 Moleskine Week 8

Week 8

I finally took the cat to the vet (I hesitated as I didn’t know if it was actually injured or she was just being a weirdo). Turns out she had an ulcer on her lower eyelid from a fight. She’s all better now :)

The cat and the compost

This post is a cat photo post, which I know we all like :)  First off though, thanks for hanging with me whilst I fixed the website.  I really need to stop tinkering, as it never ends well!  Just a quick note to say that if you have my email address saved, it has now changed and I couldn’t figure out how to forward emails from the old account.  Please message me on Twitter or fill out the contact form if you want the new address.

Anyway, cat photos! The real reason you’re here!

The cat and the compost

The cat and the compost 2

The cat and the compost 3

Admin news – I broke my website and then half-fixed it!

Hi all.

This week I have been doing some “behind the scenes” admin on my website.  Sadly, it wasn’t very ‘behind the scenes’ and I’ve lost the last week of posts.  There has been lots of muttering on Twitter!  I’m working at bringing these back, but I apologise if you get any random email updates in the meantime (this will only affect you if you subscribe by email).

The URL of this site has now changed, and is www.planetmillie.com.  If you subscribe by RSS feed, Bloglovin’ or by email, you don’t need to do anything.  If you log on the site to read, you will need to update the address you’ve got saved.

If you spot anything that’s broken, please please please let me know!

EDIT: The posts from the last week are all back online. YEY!  Sadly I can’t bring your comments back, so anything you guys have written in the last week has been eaten by the internet, I’m afraid :(

Goals for March 2014

I know, I am super late with this.  March is practically over (well, not quite).  Still, I thought it was better late than never to share my March goals!

I haven’t set a goal for my crochet blanket this month, because I’m focussing on the tops that I’m knitting for now.  I hope to do a few rows of it though so that it does get finished this year.

  • Lose 1kg
  • Walk 10km
  • Read seven books
  • No spend (starts 7th March)

My dieting goal is already going badly.  Oops.  I haven’t been able to recommit since my birthday weekend blow-out!  Mexican food, crisps, take-away… they’ve all lured me back over to the dark side of my diet!

I had to set a walking goal because I didn’t go out much in January and February (thank you, rain) and I need to get some fresh air!  It’s quite a small goal because it’s largely weather dependent, but I need to get into the habit of being outside once more.

My reading goal for this month is one more book than usual (seven instead of six books), because I didn’t reach my February goal and am now behind with my 2014 reading challenge.  Having said that, it is March 13th and I haven’t finished any books yet this month, so I may not complete this goal either!

My “no spend” challenge started on the 7th March, after I’d finished my birthday spending.  So far, this has gone well.  And, as a little bonus, I didn’t like one of the pairs of shoes I bought with my birthday money, so I’ll be getting a refund on that as soon as the website process it!

It’s sort of nice to write this post in the middle of March, as it’s made me realise I need to work harder this month otherwise I’m not going to achieve many of my goals!

February reading (2014)

As I’ve already mentioned, I only read three books this February, and so failed in my goal to read six.  I’m now behind in my reading challenge for the year, although I am going to try and catch up this month.

The Canterville Ghost – Oscar Wilde

This is an Oscar Wilde short story about an American family that move into an English manor with a resident ghost.  The ghost goes about doing his ghostly hauntings, and the American family aren’t phased at all.  Comedy ensues…  It’s a good short story.  I do like Oscar Wilde.

Now then lad – Mike Pannett

This book is a biography by a former Yorkshire and Met policeman.  You’ll know Mike Pannett from Twitter if you’ve been following the campaign to stop funding cuts to police dogs (Pannett’s old force is one of the forces axing all police dog units).  This book is definitely worth a read.  It gives you a sneak peak into the world of country policing, and it’s very funny.  Pannett is a witty writer.

Girls’ guide to hunting and fishing – Melissa Bank

This book was recommended in another book I read, although I don’t remember which one.  I also saw someone on Twitter recommend it.  I didn’t enjoy it that much.  For a start, it was only half way through that I realised it was fiction, not a biography!  I just thought it was a bit mundane, but mundane in a boring way, not in an interesting way!  Each chapter is a different snapshot of a different point in the lead character’s life.

Did you read any good books in February?

Second handmade top – blue and purple

On Saturday, I had a go at my second handmade top (you can read about my first try here).  This one is sleeveless, although the shoulders are quite wide.  I made this one without a pattern, again.  I’m not trying to be clever (!), I just don’t have a big fabric shop nearby so I can’t easily buy a pattern, plus I am rubbish at following instructions so I know if I did buy one I’d struggle.

I hadn’t done my hair when I photographed the top, so you have a headless photo.  Also, I don’t think I’m really that white!

Second handmade top 1

I had to use two different fabrics for this top, because as with my first one I don’t have any big enough pieces of fabric to make a top in one fabric.  I need to buy some more fabric, but I’m on a spending fast (and I have lots of small bits of fabric that need using up!).  However, I measured really well, and the joins match up fairly well.  The chalk pencils I got for my birthday might have helped with this!

Second handmade top 2

It was fairly easy to make, and it only took a couple of hours to do.

Firstly, I measured my bust, hips and shoulders.  I’m a size 12 (UK), and my top measures 42 inches at the top, 44 inches where the blue and purple fabrics join and 46 inches at the bottom.

I folded my fabrics in half to make a centre line (almost visible in the final top above), and cut my trapezoid shapes (the purple front and backs are 21 inches at the top and 22 inches at the bottom, and the blue front and backs are 22 inches at the top and 23 inches at the bottom.  Hence, the trapezoid shapes are barely noticeable as there’s only an inch difference between top and bottom).

I decided what kind of neckline I wanted and then drew and cut it on to the front of the purple piece.  Then I shaped the back neckline and did the same.

Next I pinned and sewed the shoulders together.  Then you can check that your head fits through the hole you’ve measured!

Second handmade top 3

Then I sewed the front blue to the front purple, and the back blue to the back purple.  This is easy to do if everything is measured correctly, as you can line up your centre creases.

Then I pinned the sides and sewed them together, leaving arm holes (I left 10 inches for arms).  (In the photo below the top is right side round, but you want it inside out to sew the sides so your stitching is on the inside and not visible.)

Second handmade top 4

I left my top and bottom edges raw with the intention of binding them, which is a bugger (don’t do this for your first top unless you have experience binding, perhaps with quilting projects).  I couldn’t decide on a ribbon to hem with, so ended up making my own bias binding.  This is very easy to do, and I’ve done it for all my quilting projects, so it wasn’t new to me (there are instructions on the web if you need help).  The bias binding I made for this top is a lot narrower than I”m used to using for quilts, so it was quite fiddly to iron and to pin to the top.

Second handmade top 5

You should stitch your binding with an invisible thread, but I didn’t have any matching colours so I used white!  It meant my final stitching is visible (and it’s not perfect).

To do the sleeves, I just folded them inside twice and hemmed with a straight stitch.

Second handmade top 6

And we’re done!

I honestly can’t believe it took me six years to finally commit to a garment sewing project, as I’ve really enjoyed both the projects I’ve done so far, and they’re wearable.  The neckline on this top is puckering a little, so were I a contestant on the Sewing Bee I’d get marked down, but I’m pleased with this effort given my lack of knowledge and experience!

First allotment session of 2014

The weather yesterday (Sunday) was absolutely lovely.  It was t-shirt weather, and it was time to visit the allotment and clear the weeds from winter.

Sadly, the weeds have absolutely loved the mild winter we’ve had, and they have spread EVERYWHERE.  We may be fighting a losing battle with the allotment this year.  We’d already decided we were going to pull back a bit this year.  We share it with some friends, but our garden was neglected last year and we want to focus on that instead.  So I may get fewer allotment visits this year.

Allotment March 2014 1

These daisies are a new addition to the weed problem at the allotment, but they’re so pretty that I will leave them!  Here is a bunch peaking through the crazy paving path.

Allotment March 2014 2

We never cleared up before winter, so there are lots of dead plants everywhere from last summer.  This is what a sunflower head looks like after a winter!

Allotment March 2014 3

Lots of insects are now waking up.  This little ladybird had to be moved as that’s a weed he’s walking on!

Allotment March 2014 4

I also found this little chap when I was clearing weeds.  I think it’s a baby toad.  He was tiny!

Allotment March 2014 5

I love nettles when they’re in flower.  This clump are an early source of food for insects, so we won’t clear them for a while (there are plenty of other weeds to clear!).

Allotment March 2014 6

The rosemary bush is also in bloom.  The delicate lilac flowers are very pretty.

I don’t have any photos of the allotment itself, as it’s a right mess!

Snowdrops

It was my birthday at the weekend, and my sister came home to celebrate.  We went for a very cold walk to look at some snowdrops.  We didn’t stay long in the woods as it was freezing and muddy, but I took two photos to make it worthwhile.

Snowdrops March 2014
Snowdrops 2 March 2014