Check out my Finished Items on the second page

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Car Safety & Security

As regular readers of my blog are now aware, my life and that of my family has changed somewhat radically in the past 9 months. I am now a full time carer for my Mum after her brain haemorrhage and to some extent for my Dad too who has Parkinson’s.

In a day to day sense I've sorted most things out – we have routine and our days are filled with as much exercise as we can manage without tiring and games to play so Mum can relearn some skills. And while I am at home that is all fine and dandy.

But I have found it very hard to go out and leave them alone, even for a few minutes. This situation will improve as Mum gets better, but at the moment I find it hard. Of course it’s totally impossible not to go out though. I need to get to the shops to buy food (lots and lots and lots of food as it happens as we are trying to build both Mum and Dad’s weight up) and also I need to get to the chemist to pick up meds quite often. And this is without even considering the need to just get out on my own for a half hour here and there to retain my own sanity, which I haven’t felt comfortable to do up until now.

So, I was thrilled when the lovely people at Tesco Compare car insurance asked me if I wanted to test and review a Tom Tom Hands Free car kit. I have never needed a car kit before as phone calls would never have been so important that they couldn't wait until I was parked or back home. But in the present circumstances I thought that it would go a long way to ease my mind to know that I could take a call immediately if needed.

The car kit itself is small and neat and comes with both dashboard mounting and windscreen mounting so you can choose exactly where you want it to go. As I already have a satnav (which I bought when we were making endless trips to hospitals all over Sussex earlier in the year), this was very useful as it meant I could pop it over on the dash well out of the way on the right hand side of my steering wheel, and without taking up half my windscreen (which is the only downside to all these gadgets). It comes with an external mic which is located on the front of the cradle and also an extension cable for that, so you can put it up on your sun visor if it’s easier or better. I haven’t found the need to extend the mic location at all, everyone has said the calls have been very clear, but I think the visor location would maybe be better if you travel on faster roads more. I was impressed that it came with the option straight out of the box. The cradle itself has two rubberised clips to hold the phone in place. They are strong and secure and there has been no wobbling around at all. I have an iphone 5 so I can’t comment on how other phones are held but they are full adjustable so I can’t see there would be any issues at all. The phone connects to the kit via Bluetooth, and located on the cradle are two buttons to answer and hang up calls. This is brilliant for short journeys when you can’t be bothered don’t’ want to rake around your handbag finding the phone. It works perfectly from somewhere in a handbag that’s thrown in the back foot well underneath three bags of shopping! There is a charger for your phone too so on longer journeys you could reach your destination with a fully charged phone (that in itself is quite something and extremely useful for the iPhone 5 which I don’t think has the best battery life in the world) I haven’t used it yet as I need to get an adapter from the micro USB which is supplied to the lightning dock that the iPhone uses. But again I am very impressed that charging facilities have been provided straight out the box.
The call quality seems very good. The speaker is great and I can hear clearly, and I've certainly had no complaints from callers at the other end so I assume the mic is good too. And really call quality is all that matters in a car kit.

There were only a few minor niggles and really they are hardly worth mentioning, but for the transparency of a review I will: Firstly if you put the phone in the cradle the two buttons for answering and hanging up a call are totally obscured. Now I assume that if you have put your phone in the cradle that you are expecting to use the phone buttons, but having the buttons accessible would be useful as touchscreens on modern smartphones are hard to use when you’re driving, a quick button press is easier. The only other little point is that within the packaging there are a plethora of little clips and tacks and adapters for attaching cables to this that and the other and extending the mic and the charger etc, but I didn't find enough detail in the user guide to understand quite what every little one is for. I've worked it out since, and as I say it’s hardly worth mentioning really.

It’s such a small gadget really, but it does make me feel so much easier knowing that I can answer a call while driving safely and never really be out of reach. It’s gone a long way to ease my mind when I need to pop out for a few minutes.

Model reviewed: Tom Tom Hands Free Car Kit for Smartphones

Friday, September 06, 2013

i Knit too!

I wonder if you all even remember that i knit?  I'm not sure that I do ;)  Well I thought i'd show you a few things i have made during these past months.  Some with a little story to tell and others just to pass the time.

These socks for example:
These were knit from sock yarn that  a friend sent when they first knew mum was ill and i had no yarn with me.  I made them for Mum, and they were knit during the hours/days/weeks she was in a coma and we were waiting. One of the first times she moved her hands properly was to feel this ball of yarn.  (If I remember it was merino - it'd make me move out of a coma too :D)

The next thing I made was a colour affection. made for Mum for mother's day. I bought Holst Garn Supersoft for this as I wanted to try their yarn.  I loved knitting with it (and it had that lovely sheepy smell that all knitters love) It's washed up lovely and soft (for a pure wool, it's not merino soft!!) and generally i'm really happy.  The only thing I would change is that i think the two shades of green are too similar. (in fact in the photo you can't even really tell there are two shades of green)  i'd make the shawl again.:

Then there was a Cinnamon Toast shawl made from Sparkleduck galaxy (Which does actually have a little bit of sparkle in it *squeeeee*).  Now this is my favourite make of recent months.  The ruffly edge gives it a real swish factor (you know like the good looking blond bombshell with the hair flick - well this is the equivalent in shawls!) and some weight which made it feel good to wear (and also alerts you to when it was falling off, which  I have found to be an issue with others (maybe I fidget too much?).  My row gauge seems a bit out, I did a full extra repeat on top of the full shawl depth, and still i feel it could have been deeper.  But then i'm very long from shoulders to waist so maybe it's just me.  I really love it though, one of my favourite ever knits.

I also made a second one in ice yarns merino viscose. This was a quick make for a weekend jazz festival. I knitted it on 5mm needles and i do actually have some yarn left so may at some point undo the ruffle and add an extra body repeat:

Finally I have a commission knit on the needles now. I needed to wait until life was more settled and I could concentrate a little, and also until the evening temperatures had eased off a little...... I've only done the back and one front so far but i do love knitting an aran. No photos yet - next on the agenda!

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Mum n Dad's house has many doors (it's a laugh when we get new carers, we leave them to see where they go, but no one ever gets the right door first time!) it was a cottage and was extended to the side so somehow it ended up with four doors, then mum n dad added a conservatory so now there are 5.  It's all good tho', doors provide mobility exercises - steps, narrow spaces, thresh-holds, so we find ourselves using as many of them as we can to ring the changes and keep Mum challenged! It's all good fun.

This is my favourite one tho'  ;)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Whilst some form of normality continued

Whilst having one of our now normal strange conversations with Mum a few months ago, She expressed a desire to have veg still grown at home so that when she was hopefully back for the summer there would be the usual produce available for instant gratification when you fancy homegrown veg.  Always one to try to oblige and being a dutiful daughter I took MrNoo to the local garden club centre and we bought just a few of the more obvious veg. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, runnerbeans, and courgettes.  Nothing too much, just a few little bits to entice Mum into the garden on her visits home. (It's a big garden, it constitutes an entire physio session just walking around it - this is a good thing!)

Also when offered an opportunity to work in a greenhouse like this:
with windows that open with an old turn screw like this:

Who could honestly refuse? (Not me!)  Plus let's face it .......... sometimes, just sometimes, it's really good to have a good, honest, valid excuse to go out into the garden alone for a little while ;)

And look, we have been rewarded ;)

The first cucumber - Mum will be pleased!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Life got in the way

You know how you leave a blog post thinking the time isn't right, and the longer you leave it the worse it gets? Well that's about how it's been here.

Suffice to say that our family's world was shattered 3 days before Christmas when my beautiful Mum suffered a massive brain bleed. The short story is that she is now in a rehabilitation centre, coming to the end of her stay there before coming home. The long story is that it has been (almost exactly) 6 months of emotional roller-coaster, deep despair swiftly followed by hope and expectation (repeat thrice daily) and endless hospital meals,  absolute exhaustion in the way that you can't even feel yourself any more, and the best kind of joy for the first hand squeeze, the first smile, the first words, the first (and every subsequent) hug.  The mourning, to some degree, of a life that will never be the same again (for any of us) snatched away in a moment without any warning, but the corresponding elation that Mum is still here, and while her cognitive state is somewhat impaired, she knows who she is, and who her family are and how many yards of fabric you need to buy to make a pair of lounge trousers (!) so although the rest needs attention, she's got the important stuff nailed.

So, that's been it for the past 6 months.  Within the next month she will be home and we will begin our next journey, honing the thinking skills, keeping her motivated to try new things and not get lazy or complacent. To restore her love for crafting in a way that she can achieve it. It'll be a challenge but one that must be met to ensure that her life is what I know she would want it to be, independent and full.

Needless to say crafting has pretty much been off the agenda. I have knit some bits and pieces, while waiting aside hospital beds for something (anything) to happen. And as part of Mum's progressive discharge she was home last weekend and we made the aforementioned pair of lounge pants. Mum watched me as I cut a pattern and affirmed my choices of which seams to sew in what order. (I think secretly she just didn't want to leave me alone with her fancy pants sewing machine! and quite rightly so)

My baby, The Crafters' Barn is still growing from strength to strength. Kris has been amazing and has taken on the contact side of the site and dealt with the (very few) issues that have been experienced. And I have place a few magazine adverts and tried to keep the social media side engaged, with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and a couple of Email Newsletters for sellers. We were a year old this week - that feels kinda strange but very exciting.  I have big plans for the site, but need more time and planning for them than I am able to give at the moment.

So hopefully now I've broken the ice i will be writing here again a lot more often. I have missed blogging.... but then i've missed quite a lot of things these past few months.  Onward and upward as they say.

T'il soon ♥

Thursday, February 07, 2013

It’s the time of year when it all goes pear shaped.

So, I got in my car last week, Spot-dog all tucked up in the boot. Wellies, gloves and a hat in there with her……. Turned the key, ……………and nothing. …………Nada……….. Zip.

Is it just me that always seems to have my car go wrong at this expensive time of year? A few years ago it was the exhaust that dropped off (literally) on 23rd Dec. This year apparently my battery had sparked its last spark. Spot wasn’t hugely impressed when I dragged her back out the car but luckily there is a nice river to walk along not far from me so we went there instead, and it wasn’t flooded (see some things go right!) So I’m now the proud owner of a brand new battery and a few quid lighter. I’m beginning to think I should add my car to my Christmas list as it always seems to demand some present or another sometime around the dearest winter months ;)

It’s times like this when I’m grateful that should anything hugely untoward have happened that we have car insurance. I know it doesn’t cover for breakdowns (although of course some do include cover of some sort) But at least, as I seem to be one of those people that has an issue with my car when pennies are at their leanest, should I have had an accident or anything it would be covered. It is a weight off your mind really even though sometimes those premiums do feel like torture at the time, and given the way some people seem to drive through the festive season ….. ‘nuff said!

Anyway my little motor is now fighting fit and raring to go again. And Spot is slowly forgiving me for getting her hopes up for a long walk and then dragging her alongside a freezing cold river. I wouldn’t even let her chase the ducks!