About Blackbutterfly Cards

I started making cards for pleasure in 2007, and quickly found my home was becoming swamped by cards everywhere. I decided to put some of them up for sale on a webpage in an effort to recoup some of the costs of my hobby. I called the webpage Blackbutterfly Handcrafted Cards, and it can be found at http://www.blackbutterfly2007.co.uk/

I try to take my cards to a couple of table sales or craft fairs a year, but make my cards mainly for friends and family. I would love the website sales to take off, as I nowhere near cover the costs involved in this all absorbing hobby, but for me the main thing is the pleasure I have in making my cards.
Recently I have decided to expand my blog to cover my other interests too. It's a sort of substitute for going to work and chatting to people, as due to ill health I was unable to work, and since the beginning of 2014 I am officially a pensioner.
Although I'll still show my cards, I'll also be covering my other interests and how I attempt to make ends meet day by day.

In fact anything that crosses my mind will be on here, so be prepared for waffle and a wasted five minutes as you read.
Make coffee and settle in, why don't you?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Trying very hard...

I'm trying very hard to keep in touch more often.  I thought about making it one of my New Year resolutions, but I don't want to put myself under that much pressure. I find I don't DO pressure very well. Some days are still better than others I find. 
Christmas was lovely, the best one for several years. We didn't have a lot in the way of pressies, but then we don't have a lot in the way of money! Anyway, we did have lots of company popping in and out and it was lovely to see people. Since Jo and I had managed to decorate the living room, the house felt warm and cosy and relaxing after months of boxes everywhere, Of course now we have to do the rest of the house.

 Jo was given some cash by my ex, so she is going to spend it on a new bed and mattress, and the next job is to sort out boxes in her room and then decorate it so she has a comfortable place to spend her time. She has decided to ask the sister of a friend of hers to paint a sunset mural on one wall, and she has several pictures and some other accessories she received for birthday and Christmas to change her room into the 'Gothic Sanctuary' she has always wanted.  I'll ask her if I can post pictures as we go along.

I got the three season DVD set of Mrs Browns Boys and I watched some of it last night. The best bits are the errors that are made. I sometimes think they are funnier than the scripts. It wouldn't normally be my type of humour, but somehow it just makes me laugh!

Today will see the end of the Turkey, (thank goodness). Again, it was the nicest, moistest, tastiest one for many years, and yet it was only a last minute frozen purchase from A**a. I didn't even push butter under the skin this year, I just put a lemon and a satsuma in halves inside the cavity, and layered over the whole breast and legs with smoked streaky bacon. It took forever to cook too .....I decided to cook it the day before and it was a good job I did, we would have had dinner at teatime otherwise. I expected it to be dried out, but it was gorgeous.  We also had Roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts, swede and carrots and home made stuffing. Followed, of course, by the Christmas pudding. Jo had choc mint ice cream as she has never liked Christmas pudding. We got 3 little bottles of wine from A**a. Each little bottle holds about a glass and a half of wine. They were selling 3 for £4, which was cheaper than a full bottle of wine ( £5.98) and as I like White Grenache, my father likes Merlot, and Jo likes Chardonney, that worked out better and cheaper for us, plus there was no waste, as none of us drinks really the rest of the year.

I decided I wasn't going to make New Year resolutions, There's some things I'd like to try to do, but I refuse to tie myself down, as in my state of health that would be a recipe for failure for me. So I've just decided that by next Christmas I'm going to attempt to get my weight down, clear off everything I owe on my credit cards, and also try to minimise my possessions. If I don't get there, It's not a failure because I didn't promise.
 I have far too much "stuff" and I'm tired of tidying around it.  It ranges from books, to ornaments to clothes to cooking equipment. I don't need it, I haven't got room for it, and in lots of cases it is pure sentiment that makes me hang on to it. The problem is, that Jo is a worse hoarder than I am, so lots of it will have to go out when she isn't watching.
Anyway, that's all for now. If I don't get back here before New Year, have a good time and I'll see you in 2015.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

4 Days to go.

With only 4 days to Christmas, I wish I felt more organised. Mind you, when I think about it, I have sent off my cards and I have got my Christmas cake made,(although not yet marzipanned or iced), but that will come. 
Sausage rolls are in the freezer, as are the mince pies, and the Turkey (with a capital 'T') will be coming out to defrost, along with the ham.  My father is coming to us on Christmas day, and my son on Boxing day. My son has finally got a flat and has been lucky enough to find some employment starting after Christmas, so with luck, 2015 will be a good year for all of us.

Since my son has moved out, my daughter has been able to have her room back as she has been bunking in with me for the last 17 months. A situation neither of us was very happy about, but we have our own space again now. We are both feeling a hundred times better now, and although it's only been a month, we feel much more relaxed.

We've also rushed and got the living room decorated now the boxes and extra furniture have gone from the space. It felt a bit like living in a storage facility to be honest, and of course only having been here a fortnight ourselves before my son arrived, we hadn't done any decorating ourselves. In fact we still had unpacked boxes of books etc. Now we can get to them, we can slowly get this house right.  Who knows, I might even get the stairwell decorated, and carpet on the stairs by next Christmas! 

 I've set myself a couple of challenges for next year. 

First off, I want to try to get rid of a lot of 'stuff'........You know, the sort of things you look at and think 'it might come in handy' or ' Auntie X bought me that in 19 oh dot so I have to keep it'  I've decided, I really  DON'T........especially as Auntie X probably passed on years ago!  So I'm minimising, less
tat means less dust, and I hate dusting.

Secondly, I've grossly overspent this last year. I don't have a huge amount on my credit card, but it's virtually maxed out. So I have to stop spending, and to aid that, I'm going to stop watching Create & Craft on the TV for a while. I also have to pay off a cooker and a dining table on my catalogue. I got them a couple of weeks ago, ( I gave my son my old ones as he had nothing in the way of white goods).   Long story short...........I've got debt I need to clear swiftly. I was going to save for a polytunnel this summer, but that has to go on hold for another year, and my holiday is cancelled. I have to get my priorities straight.

Jo and I have decided we are going to see how long we can live out of the cupboards after Xmas. We'll have plenty of leftovers, and then we will work our way through the cupboards and freezers. the only shopping will be for fresh veg and milk, eggs etc I've limited my money even for these things. As pure chance would have it, my next pension day is Jan 1st, so from that date we're being very careful. I'm pretty sure we can get through to the end of February, and I'd like to see if we can extend through to the end of March. After that any extra time is a bonus, and any housekeeping saved during this time will be paid off the debts.

So, feeling much more hopeful about life all the time. Looking forward to Christmas for the first time in several years, and to cap it all I sold my first card on Etsy. I'm hoping that's a good omen too!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

It Was Lovely.............Really!

I went through my fridge the other day, just before T****'s delivered, and sorted out my veg tray. Its something I haven't done for a while, but usually results in my shouting "It's soup day!" 
 Everything that looks a bit sorry for itself, and worn out, gets boiled up for soup. Throwing away perfectly good veggies that are just a bit 'bendy' is not an option. Everything I could find went in, some potatoes that had hidden away, and gone soft and a bit green on the edges, half a swede that I saved for a casserole we never had, a leftover parsnip, quite a few carrots that looked too sad to even be dog treats ( he likes his carrots crunchy, fussy animal), some celery sticks (judiciously trimmed of some brown marks), lots of little onions, too small for cutting up and too big for pickling so had just sat waiting patiently, plus a couple that had started sprouting. No leeks left this time - but I did add approx 100g of tinned chopped tomatoes left over from another recipe. A little salt and pepper, and a couple of chicken stock cubes into the pan of cold water, and then brought to the boil and simmered for about 90 minutes. Checking the seasoning, I added another chicken stock cube, a good pinch (shake) of Cumin and a good shake of Worchestershire sauce. Then I left it to go cold. Once cold it all went through the blender until smooth, as my lot won't eat soup "with lumps".
 Three portions were eaten with some bread, and another 5 portions were frozen in takeaway plastic dishes for another time. It was delicious, although we all admitted the cumin was very warming but nice for the cold days.  I take that to mean it was just this side of too much spice, but it certainly filled us up. Unfortunately my camera was out of battery, so there are no pictures of this culinary marvel. Perhaps next time I defrost some, I'll remember to take a picture.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Determined Effort to Return to My Blog

I know, I know, I bet you thought this blog had been permanently abandoned didn't you?  I'm sorry, but depression takes no prisoners when it comes to making everything just TOO much effort. I'm still a bit up and down, but I'll try to be a bit more consistent with my blogging from here on in. I can only apologise.......and I do,...sincerely!

Just lately I've tried to settle down to do a few more cards, I miss making them, and  I have managed a few. I was ashamed to find I still have rubber stamps that have never seen an ink pad, and I fully expected my promarkers to have dried up on me, but apparently they've quietly and uncomplainingly waited for me to show an interest again.  My website is still 'down for maintenance', and I'm not planning to attempt to update that until I am confident that I can manage to maintain my blog regularly again. I'm wary of crashing out. 
Just a couple of cards made recently

I HAVE opened an Etsy shop here, and as I make cards I will upload them one at a time.  With Christmas just around the corner now I've managed to start my front garden by digging out the silly patch of grass and planting wallflowers under planted with tulips. I'm hoping it will look very pretty next year.
Wallflowers for Spring

I have great plans for the back garden, I have a couple of raised beds set out, and I'm hoping I can put a polytunnel across the bottom of the garden and some fruit cordons down the left hand fence. I raised quite a few crops this summer and would like to continue, and then I've been offered a half plot on an allotment site, in the last 2 weeks, which I've accepted. Hopefully I can get that pretty much cleared by December.  So I have plenty of things to engage my interest and I'm feeling as though my energy levels are ok to take things on now.  
My inherited Fig Tree

View down my Lottie, but only to the wood fence!

Not so long ago, the thought of all this work alone would have defeated me, but I feel so ready to start now. I just feel I have to remember not to go too mad, and just pace myself.

Wish me luck, and I'll try and keep my camera battery charged up so there's plenty of photos to show.
Bye for now...

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

March Already?

It's been a busy month - but not necessarily doing anything I wanted.
  I got a bit more of my hallway painted, and as soon as I finish here I'll continue on with it. Unfortunately before Xmas I injured my arm. It feels as though I've torn the muscle in my upper arm, and every time I think it;'s improving. I move my arm in the wrong direction, and it tears again.  Of course its my right arm, so doing anything for any length of time is impossible, but I'll get there.  

I've ordered the weed suppressing membrane for my garden paths. I've been given 7/8 little box plants to go into my front garden, (they will form part of a boundary hedge), and my bulbs are peeping through. I'm going to have spring flowers a little later than everyone else, as I only put them in a month ago!  My Viburnham in the back garden is just about to bloom, I can't wait for the perfume to waft in through the patio doors on a spring day......

I purchased my first bag of compost for my veggie seeds, I'll probably begin to sow from about next week. I have a load of rubbish to arrange a collection for before that happens. I got a quote from the council last week, a horrendous price. They will charge £30 to remove one fridge, 1 dog cage and four 6'x2' hardboard panels. I am no longer surprised that some people 'flytip' their waste.

I wish I could take some pictures, but my battery charger for my phone seems to have gone 'walkabout' so I'm pictureless at the moment.  I've been doing a bit more cross stitch and now I can see the end is in sight I want to crack on and finish the picture. All I have to do then is get it framed. I have a mirror and a couple of pictures up in the hall at last, so it's starting to feel like home. I also have my large mirror hung in the living room. I've had to resort to picture wire for that though, Try as I might I couldn't get the drill to go deep enough to take the hooks where they needed to go. I just hope it holds!  I'm seriously thinking of using something like No Nails on the frame to make sure it's safe. I'll see how it goes once the living room is papered and painted. I've found some nice paper I want on one wall, this is it, and I love it. It feels so fresh and clean and calm..........

Anyway, enough for now. I have the house to myself and I want to make the most of it. My daughter stayed at a friends last night, and my son has an interview in London, I love the peace and space when they are both out, and it doesn't happen often. Until next time...

Sunday, February 02, 2014

End of January and into February

There's not a lot to report on the crafting  front. It's a couple of weeks since I picked up my cross stitch, I haven't crocheted(?) anything since before Christmas, and it doesn't look as though  this month is going to be any better. However, I am 4 weeks closer to retirement - Yippeee!

The front hall hasn't got any further along either unfortunately. My time has been taken up with Occupational Therapy assessments, My fathers house move ( chasing solicitors and estate agents) and finally getting to the point of booking quotes from removal firms and house clearance people. Although still no firm date has been arranged, we are hoping for the 21st February as a final date. 

I am trying to get my father to let us do all the worrying, but it's hard. He's had several heart attacks, the last one in October, and this latest one has really left him much weaker and frailer. He is 87 and still wildly  independent, although this time he's finding that the things he can't do are many more than he thought.  Put together with his diabetes, and his kidney problems, he really has to let us manage the move, but every time I leave him alone he tries to do things and exhausts himself.

He has several hospital appointments, in February and I have  some in house training and committees  to sit on as a resident voice with my housing association. I think I'd better just put everything on hold with my house for February, and then continue with some garden work at the beginning of March.

Once my father has safely moved, I think I'll have to set aside a couple of days/mornings a week to go over and do some light housework for him, also put stuff through the laundry too. He's talking about having meals on wheels as well, that would be nice, but I don't want him to go to the other extreme and just sit and watch television, that wouldn't do him any good either.

In fact this may be one of my last "lazy days" for this month. I'll have to pace myself and make sure I don't trigger my M.E. or we will be in the cart! 

My son is still sofa surfing with us, I am beginning to wonder if he is ever going to get his own place.  I'd like push him harder to chase social housing, but as he suffers with depression, his temper is a little unstable, and I don't want to trigger a breach that may not heal. He is so insular and non communicative, it's hard to know exactly what he has done about finding his own place.....

Anyway, the sun has come out today, and every time it does I feel so much more cheerful about life, I really don't like the winter weather, and the rain we've had this year seems to have been non stop. I told my daughter that I'm positive that someone somewhere, MUST be building another Ark. She just told me I was silly, as God promised he'd never send another flood!  A bit embarrassing really, as I'm C of E and she's a Wiccan! :-)
As a gardener I'm not convinced however, the lawn has actually had puddles of standing water on it now for a couple of months, it never actually stops raining long enough for it to drain away. I think putting raised beds in may be a good idea for more reasons than saving my back and knees!

Tallking of which, next week we are having a stair rail fitted on the wall side of the stairs, a grab rail for the toilet and getting rid of that grotesque frame! Thank goodness!
However, the O.T.  also gave me a plastic fitment for the top of the toilet. It's off already!  The lid doesn't shut with it on, I've seen them in other peoples homes and they look disgusting when they start to discolour, plus I (and the other members of the family) find it impossible to use comfortably when your feet are either on tip toe, or in my daughters case, don't touch the floor at all. They look revolting, they are embarrassingly discoloured after a time, and leave you with no sense of self respect when you have visitors......eurggh!  Until I REALLY can't manage, I'll go without thanks!  Why can't we be more like Holland?  When my friends over there found the toilet too low, they didn't get supplied with a plastic potty..........they fitted a whole new ( higher) toilet. Hygenic and reasonably pleasant to look at!
I've also been supplied with a bath board over the bath for using the shower.......(I mentioned I have slipped a couple of times when climbing in and out of the bath).  Thanks, but no thanks!  I want to actually be under the water when I shower, not wait for the water to reach me as it cools down, so I'll use it to get in and out, but stand for my shower thanks.  The problem is really, that the force of the water is so low, the water trickles out anyway......A rail to grab as I climb in and out would actually have been more useful I feel, but never mind. They did something for me and I'm not complaining really............at least.............only about the plastic potty toilet extension!!

I have to go and prepare the veg for lunch now, so I'll catch up when I can, but it may be patchy this month. Bye now.......

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A quick visit

It's been a funny old day, I was sitting quietly this morning, reading my emails when all of a sudden everything shut down on me. The fire shut off, and the computer went black. "Darn it," I thought, "how the heck did I run out of Electricity  THAT quickly, and what the heck can I do, my purse is bare?"  Well, to start with, I thought I'd stick the key in the meter to gain my emergency £5, whilst I raided my piggy bank, but as I did so I found out the reason for my excessive electricity usage........... I hadn't topped up the meter on pay day, there was still £30 on the key! I called myself several silly names, but it was quite a relief!

I've spent some of my fun money today on 3  of the Lilli of the valley rubber stamps that I've had my eye on for a while, I'll post pictures when they arrive. They had a short sale on and I couldn't resist....I've been so good about not buying new craft stuff for a while now. But I do think I'll have to go through my stash and put some stuff on E-bay. There are things I've bought, that I've used once and then never touched again, it's time to sort out!One bit of good news today I've had an enquiry about my breadmaker that I have for sale on Preloved......fingers crossed please.

I've spent time this evening back on the internet researching a fire and surround for next winter. I've set my heart on a Dimplex optimyst electric stove, and I rather fancy a mantel above it. Unfortunately I don't actually have a fireplace........so I think I'm going to have make a false one and set the stove on a slate hearth.   I really hate a room without character, and a fire will add just the look I want.  I've been working out income and expenditure and savings and thinking I could perhaps get one installed by the end of October........fingers crossed. As they say, watch this space.
  I've begun to get some of my targets for January done, but it's a slow old job, I'd better get a move on, or some of the targets will be moved into February.  My spare days are beginning to fill up for this month. I have the OT assessor coming next Monday to see what adaptations I may need here. My daughter is out on Tuesday's and Thursdays for the next few weeks, so I won't have her help. I had a letter from my doctors telling me I have to arrange my 6 monthly blood tests again.   Gosh, My life is all go! 
But priority is that I must get this desk sorted as I have to make birthday card to be posted off to Holland for the end of this month. Why am I so disorganised?.........there is laundry to be done and ironing to be finished,  ..... never mind, I'll get there in the end!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Preparing to Retire

This morning I have spent time on the phone with the Pension credit people, because, at last, I have had notification of my pension.
 They have told me how much I will receive as well as the first two payment dates and pension credit have confirmed that I will get a little extra from them too.
 I'm so excited, I've been waiting for retirement day for so long and now it's within reach!  I feel that I'm finally free, silly I know, but I'll be officially finished with working and can do what I want!  As I've been on benefits, due to ill health, for about 7 years now, it shouldn't make much difference to my day to day life, but I think the relief I feel is because I will no longer have to feel guilty because I can't work. Also I'm going to be better off financially, I can perhaps pay my bills without going without other things ( like new underwear..........T.M.I..... I know!). 
Not that I'm going to go on a crazy spending spree,( the 'being careful' gene is well embedded now) I'd like a little cash behind me in the bank for rainy days. 
 Still, right now, I feel like dashing out into the garden and dancing in the rain!  This would be a perfect day if it wasn't for the dentists trip and a filling booked for this afternoon. Phooey!

I hope you all feel as good as me today!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Rain, rain and more rain...

Guess what?...........It's raining! 
 I spent time yesterday, (time I should have spent doing other things) trying to price up some raised beds for the veggie garden........and the result was, it's too expensive! Unfortunately I can't bend or kneel very well, so to grow my own vegetables I need them. This means MORE economy than ever is required.  I also priced up some seed potatoes, patio planters and some strawberry runners. I have a few weeks left before I have to order those, so I'll have to see how I go with selling my breadmaker. With luck I can make enough to cover the costs. I have loads of seeds left from last year and (keeping my fingers crossed), a good proportion should germinate this year. I also have managed to aquire some free seeds from various sources. My daughter has been asked to KEEP her yoghurt pots for planting on tomatoes, so no costs there, and I'll make newspaper pots to sow in. Everything is under control, I just need the rain to stop so I can start laying out the pathways. My garden is like a quagmire at present, a sea of mud with puddles of water laying on top. Obviously the drainage is pretty awful, so raised beds should help that too. I have a very bad picture of the weather outside, taken through the window. Please excuse the reflection and also the view of the mop hanging from the clothes line, it's supposed to be drying..........fat chance! I wonder if it'll  EVER stop raining?......I just wish I had a water butt......oh! and some guttering on the shed.

I'd like to save for a small greenhouse for 2015, but for this year I think I'll try to get a pop up one from Garden Skills. It should be enough to grow some tomatoes and cucumbers for the coming season. I saw it here and I'm fairly impressed with the size of it for the price. I only have a small garden and I want to get as much produce as I can out of it.

I'm still struggling with the diet, I've been overeating so long the portions sizes seem tiny. I'm following Rosemary Conley, having had several of her books on hand from when I last had to lose weight in about 2005. I know from experience that her diets have sufficient food in them to stop me actually being hungry, but the first couple of weeks are really hard. Also I'm not yet in the right mindset. I need to really want this weight loss, but I'm still at the point of knowing I should lose weight, without the enthusiasm to go all out at it. As soon as the right connections jump in within the little grey cells, I'll be all systems go.
 I think I would find it easier if ALL the family were all behind it too. My daughter is reasonably determined, bless her. However, my son has agreed to join in, but is constantly asking for extra portions, refusing semi skimmed milk or low fat mayonnaise in his sandwiches as they 'taste horrible' etc,etc. I find that a bit demoralising, and it certainly undermines my effort so far. 

I have a dining table full of books at present. They were in a box under the desk waiting for bookshelves to go up, but unfortunately yesterday morning I was mopping the kitchen floor, and I'd just worked my way back to the door. I put the bucket of water in the hallway, rinsed the mop, squeezed it out on the bucket, when the whole lot tipped over and the water went everywhere: back into the kitchen, down the hall and into the living room, and all under the stairs.......
The box of books was soaked, and I had to unpack them quickly. Luckily the books weren't wet, but they would have been if I'd left it much longer before rescuing them. What a mess.............I managed to grab a towel from the kitchen and throw it down in front of the stream of water flowing inexorably towards my coffee table and under it.....next stop... the rug.

No progress thus far towards my January goals. I must watch how time rushes around. 

Sorry the post isn't  more interesting, but I'm determined to keep at it, but if I wait for interesting things to happen, It'll be weeks before I'm here.

Thanks for reading, and see you soon...

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Wednesday weigh in

Just a quick post to say that although we've had Christmas and New Year.......I've lost 1½lbs which means I am now  16 St exactly. I'm not quite sure how I managed it, (and I bet it's a fluke), but today I start really watching my portion sizes. I also have to up my exercise level, so lets hope it works.
This is my start picture...
..I want to lose 12 lbs by March, and 37lbs by the end of June. That will be half the total I want to lose, in half the year. I wonder if I can do it???