Saturday, 22 January 2011

CoD: Black Ops Playercards

You know what I love about men? They respond so fabulously to "I bet you can't..."

Like... "I bet you can't make an Animal playercard for CoD: Black Ops."

And what did the DH come up with?

Show off.

"Well... I bet you can't make an Oscar the Grouch playercard for CoD: Black Ops."


So I thought I'd change tactics.

"I bet you can't make a Tardis."

"Too easy," the DH said.

Obviously the colours are a bit off because I only had Ninja Camera (my point and shoot) handy but you get the idea. Pretty cool, right? I'm not going to tell you HOW he did it - that's not fair - but he might tell you if you ask him nicely. ;)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

DIY Dryer Balls - With Tut!

Have you seen dryer balls? They're an alternative to the normal dryer sheets we've all been using. There are lots of reasons to use them:

  • They're not full of the nasty chemicals dryer sheets are.
  • They're more economical since you can use them over and over again.
  • They dry your clothes faster so your electricity bill is cheaper.
  • They make your clothes super soft.
  • Did I mention you can use them over and over? That means you're not throwing away a dryer sheet every time you do laundry which means you're not cluttering up the Earth with your waste!

This was my first attempt at making my own dryer balls:

Not very pretty, huh? I learned something very important about making dryer balls: Pick 100% wool yarn. (Or any other yarn that will felt well. The yarn I used was only 30% wool and... Well, yeah. You can see what the problem is. Plus, they don't work quite as well.

If the yarn says "machine washable," give it a miss. (Well, maybe buy it but use it for something else...)

You're also going to need some nylons or a pair of socks. I only had knee highs and they worked just fine.

So, after you've bought your 100% wool yarn and you've dug out an old pair of nylons, you can get started making your own dryer balls.

Step One: Start your balls
Okay... If you don't know how to make a ball out of yarn, you don't deserve to touch it. Tell your yarn-loving, knitter friend that you'd like some dryer balls and she'll make them for you. Promise.

The skeins I bought for this project were quite small - incidently they were only 70% wool but I could tell by the look of them that they would felt pretty well - so I started the balls with some scraps of other yarn, just to make them a bit bigger.

If you want your balls to be nice and lovely smelling (No pun intended - Oh, who am I kidding? EVERY pun intended.) start with a sachet of lavender or other pretty smelling dried flower in the middle. Obviously the smell will eventually fade eventually but that's just an excuse to make more, right?

Step Two: Finish off your balls
If you've got a tapestry needle, like I did, use that to run the tail of the yarn through the ball to keep it from unravelling in the wash. If you don't have a tapestry needle, just use a very small crochet hook. If you don't have either of those, put the yarn down and step away.

Step Three: Stuff your hose
Once you've finished your balls, you need to put them in your nylons/socks. Tie a knot in the open end. Obviously, you can fit quite a few balls in a normal pair of hose so make as many as you please and tie them all up together.

You don't have to go nuts with the balls, of course. (Sorry... I just can't help myself.) You really only need two balls, which you'll use together for each load. I made three because I liked the yarn and couldn't decide which to buy.

(You'll have to ignore my nasty, stained, scarred worktop. It's embaressing, I know.)

Step Four: Whack 'em in the wash
Just toss the balls in the wash and wait. If you simply can't wait and you want to get them done quicker, put them in a hot water wash.

You may have to do this bit two or three times to get the right felted look. If the balls shrink too much, you can just add more yarn to make it bigger again. Try to start out with balls about 8-10 inches, that should be plenty big enough.

Step Five: Pull out your balls
Your balls should be done and ready to use!

Use two balls each time you dry a load of laundry and, in between loads, put them in a windowsill to keep them dried out.

Three balls cost me £12. I probably wouldn't have spent that much if I'd been making them for me but then, I would have only made two so that would have been £8. I suppose you could just go and buy a set from JML or something for a tenner but where's the fun in that? Also, a lot of the dryer balls on the market are made from PVC which, if you didn't know, can be extremely harmful to both you and the environment.

Green Package Filler

I am totally loving this idea that I "got" (Yes, shamelessly stole.) from a friend. Each year, he sends me a box of cookies for the holidays (one of the reasons I love him) and what does he use to cushion the goodies inside?


I cannot tell you how much I love popcorn. I lived off the stuff when I worked for a cinema (for two years) and could still eat it for every meal, every day. Popcorn is the junk food of the gods.

AND it's green package filler!

Popcorn absorbs a whole lot of the impact of packages being tossed around (Yeah, I know you, Royal Mail... I know you don't give a damn about me and my cookies.) and when you're done with it, you can feed it to the birds! Or, just thrown away if you're a bird hater - it'll break down quickly enough.

(I know what you're wondering... Did she try the popcorn to see if it was edible? Yes, yes she did... Though she wouldn't recommend you try it. Bleh.)

According to this article by, even large companies are starting to use popcorn as packing material. Bye, bye squeaky, clingy polystyrene peanuts... Your day is done.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


The MIL has been moved to another hospital but NOT to St. Anne's where they told us she'd be going. First, they told us that she was number 2 on the waiting list for a bed (waiting for a bed in a hospice? morbid.) and THEN they told us they couldn't move her because she has e. coli. ("But not the bad kind." Der?) THEN they just upped and moved her to another hospital because, apparently, it's closer to where she should be.

Anyone else get the feeling hospitals lie?

Oh, and her wheel chair arrived. And we SO have NO place to put it. The DH joked about racing down Trinity Hill on it and I thought... Hey... That could be fun! Lol. Obviously we WON'T because we're very mature and responsible. O:)

Sweep (the dog) had to have surgery this week. He had a lump on his leg that he'd started to chew on. (Gross...) They did tests and couldn't be 100% certain that it wasn't cancer so we sent him in to have it removed. That was on Monday.

Monday night, he pretty much just laid around and whimpered. Yesterday, he was a bit better but still couldn't climb on the sofa. Today, he seems more like himself. He can climb on the sofa and is bouncing up and down. We had the lump sent away to be biopsied just in case.

Interesting fact... That was the first time in 11 years that Sweep has been to the vet! That dog is healthier than I am! Lol.

And my last bit of news is that I've booked some time off work. A bit early in the year, perhaps but there's a LOT around the house that needs to be done because 1. the MIL is a horrible housekeeper and some things have been neglected for YEARS and 2. I have to make the house ready for a hospital bed, etc. to be moved in.

It creeps me out to know that one day, sooner rather than later, the MIL is going to die in this house. *shudder* Did you know that someone has ALREADY died here? Yep. (Well, probably more than one someone since the house is 180 + years old.) One of our neighbour's fathers lived in this house before the MIL moved in and he died in the kitchen.

I HAVE seen a ghost before, but not here. I'm fairly certain that there are no unqiet spirits wandering around the house but I always think about him late at night when I've been watching horror movies. And when the MIL dies, I'll always feel like she's watching me, disapproving of every change I make to HER house.

Is it weird to think like that?

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Bad news.

We had a rough night here at the Vanian household. Mr. Vanian got some very bad news - his mother's cancer is terminal. They've given her a year, tops. They don't even know if they'll try to treat it because it could make her feel worse or even kill her faster.

She wants to come home as soon as she can but it looks like she's going to be moving to St. Anne's Hospice for awhile. Because she's paralyzed from the waist down, they have to teach her how to do a whole bunch of stuff before they'll let her out of their sight. I think maybe the doctors aren't too happy about sending her home without someone trained to look after her.

Mr. Vanian took the news very badly which is understandable since he's always been very close to his mother. With so many bad things happening recently, I think he's lost sight of the light at the end of the tunnel.

I think maybe I'm the opposite. I think so much bad stuff has happened in the last year + a bit that I can't even be surprised any more. For me, it just means that there will even more things I have to do - like my workload isn't heavy enough. I know that's a very selfish way of looking at it but I just keep thinking of who is going to be taking care of everything and I know it will come down to me. I'm exhausted already, just thinking about it.

I can't think of anything I can do for my husband, anyway. He's not a "hold me, I need a hug" kind of person. (Although I could certainly do with a hug right now.) He doesn't like talking about his feelings. So what the hell am I suppose to do to cheer him up?

Monday, 10 January 2011

First Crafty Post of 2011

Okay, so I've been waiting to post this until my partner recieves (it's for the OWS er... 65, I think) but you know how I am with patience.... (As in I have none.) So I'm gonna post it anyway and hope she doesn't look before it arrives. Lol.

I "made" a tea towel with a crochet top to hang on her stove and two crochet loops (for the same thing.)

The tea towel by itself:

I didn't use a pattern for this one. Just decided to wing it and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

The pattern I based the crochet towel rings on is by Kiel Lemon on ravelry. I changed a few things to suit me - most noticeably, the elastic band I put in the centre to help it keep its shape.

(My partner's colour scheme for her kitchen is orange - That's why the fabulous orangeness. I like her taste. Lol.)

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Book Swapping

I've been checking out a few book swapping websites lately and finally decided to give one of them a go. I signed up with ReadItSwapIt because it's UK based.

ReadItSwapIt isn't the prettiest site to look at but it works simply enough. Once you've signed up, you can start listing books that you want to trade. Finding a book is easy: just search using title & author or ISBN. You can use the same search function to add books to your wishlist and when someone adds a book that you want, you recieve an email so you can contact that user to arrange a swap.

When someone asks to swap a book, (you get an email to tell you) you get a list of that person's available books. If you like the looks of any of them, just select "Swap with this book" and a swap is created.

There are no strict rules about postage, as far as I can see, but the site does reccomend that you ship within two days. I sent both my books first class which cost £2.24 each. My partners send second class so maybe I'll try that next time and see if I can save even more money.

Oh, yeah... Did I forget to mention the money?

I swapped for My Love Lies Bleeding and Tall, Dark & Hungry. If I bought both of them on amazon, it would have cost £9.03. I spent £4.48 on shipping which means I saved £4.55 - enough to buy a new book! :)