Sunday, 29 March 2009

Gadsden purchase and other stamps

I am still wading through my parents things. My mother died over 6 years ago. She was quite a hoarder and we took about 30 carloads of things to the Oxfam shop when she moved from East Grinstead to Lymington to be near me, and another similar number to the tip. Oh, if only Freecycle had been around then, so much could have been reused, how fast things change, and there were loads of clothes which might now have been snapped up as retro. That was just 8 years ago. Then there was another major sort out when she died. I have saved some things for nostalgic reasons, well, lots really. I have saved some to go through and possibly sell. Now, I am going through things once more, and am sending things off to charity shops and Freecycle. One pile I keep coming across and putting aside to sort 'another time' is her stamp collection.
I have always cut out the stamps from letters received and sent them to Oxfam, (any guesses where I got this habit from?), who sort and make up packs and sell them, presumably sending some abroad where our boring ones become of interest! I feel quite wicked if I just put the whole envelope in the recycling with a stamp on! I also keep some envelopes from junk mail with pretty innards, to make into card, but that is another story! Who did I say was a hoarder?

card made using insides of old envelopes

I recently sent some to the Plymouth Oxfam, and received an unexpected and very grateful letter in return. They are struggling to get enough stamps for the packs they sell, and have had to use some from their store. So, please do send your old stamps to them, they will be very pleased.

My parents worked in the Oxfam shop in East Grinstead for many years.

I have now found the perfect solution to all the stamps that my mum had sorted into countries of origin but never mounted, as well as the vast collection of old stamps from this country. I have boxed them all, ready to go off to Oxfam. I shall feel virtuous, Oxfam will have a source of stamps for a while, we shall all be pleased. I have just got to go and do it...

One stamp I shall not be sending, among others I shall keep for now, is this Gadsden Purchase one. My maiden name was Gadsden.

'The Gadsden Purchase (known as Venta de La Mesilla, or "Sale of La Mesilla", in Mexico[2]) is a 29,670-square-mile (76,800 km2) region of what is today southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico that was purchased by the United States in a treaty signed by President Franklin Pierce on June 24, 1853, and then ratified by the U.S. Senate on April 25, 1854. It is named for James Gadsden, the American ambassador sent to Mexico at the time. The purchase included lands south of the Gila River and west of the Rio Grande. The Gadsden Purchase was intended to allow for the construction of a transcontinental railroad along a very southern route, and it was part of negotiations needed to finalize border issues that remained unresolved from the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War of 1846–48.
As the railroad age grew, business-oriented Southerners saw that a railroad linking the South with the Pacific Coast would expand trade opportunities. However, the topography of the southern portion of the Mexican Cession was believed to be too mountainous to allow a direct route, and projected southern routes tended to run to the north at their eastern ends, which would favor connections with northern railroads. That would ultimately favor Northern seaports. A route with a southeastern terminus, in order to avoid the mountains, might need to swing south into what was then Mexican territory. '

courtesy of Wickipedia.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

earth hour

Tonight, at 8.30pm, we are all encouraged to switch off our lights. This is a symbolic gesture of protest against what is happening to the planet, and is intended as an international wave from the earth, something like a Mexican wave in reverse I suppose, as the lights go out around the world as each country reaches 8.30 pm.

I will be supporting this, and have encouraged others to do so too, but it can only be valuable if it has a longer term impact, at a personal, national and international level.

At a personal level, I grew up with parents who were perhaps ahead of their time, but it infuriated me at the time. They switched off everything if it was not in use, they conserved everything, reused everything, rescued everything that might be of use, ate an excess of lentils. The war had an enormous impact on them which was long lasting. Thus, I have an awareness of how right it is to take care of our world, but a bit of me has also rebelled against this abstemiousness. The devilish temptation to leave lights on because I can, to eat sweet things because I can, buy something new because I can (not that I can afford to at present!), just sometimes takes over. And I am 52! I am still going through their things, six years after my mother died, and sending them off to the charity shops.

I try to do a little. I send my used stamps off dutifully to Oxfam as I always have. I rarely throw anything away that could be used again or sent somewhere that someone else could make use of it. Running a guest house, I need it to look welcoming to potential guests, so do keep the outside light on and the hall light on into the evening, but we do turn others off if we are not in the room. We reuse, recycle, reduce our purchases, I always have tended to, despite that little devil, I suppose it really is a tiny, shrinking devil who surfaces less and less!

On a national and international level, the picture seems bleak to me at present. Even there, small changes could be effected without too much trauma. Although churches and public buildings look lovely floodlit, do they need to be lit so much, for so long? The Peak Oil situation, see is alarming in the extreme. The local response, the setting up of Transition Towns, is a positive way for people to take some control over what happens, before control is taken out of our hands, as it must eventually be if no changes are made.

The current financial crisis may be good for the planet. We are all more careful with what we do, what we buy, I suspect the amount of rubbish going to landfill is decreasing. I am a huge supporter of Freecycle, and am one of the 'owners' (daft term, I do not own it!) of the Wadebridge site.

One thing I do not like is the tendency to out 'green' each other. I am sure I am guilty of it, but I do try not to fall into this trap. We all do what we can, well, most of us do, but there is always someone who will criticise our efforts and have to do it better. There are so many contradictions, so much to learn that seems full of jargon, it can be almost impossible to know what to do for the best. I guess though, that this has been the case throughout history and it is only hindsight that will tell us what we should have done.

Friday, 27 March 2009


I have removed the piece of felt that was shown in my title. I have never been happy with how it was displayed and need to have a tweak with other ideas, but I do find this the most challenging part of blogging!
My first ever tea bag folded card. This is not something I would have ever tried, but we had a go in our group and it is great fun, calling for a high degree of accuracy. The term apparently derives from folding the decorative bags tea bags came in in some parts of Europe in the past, presumably when tea was a valuable commodity.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

three beautiful things

I have not done this for a while, which usually indicates I am surrounded by beautiful things and have no need of reminding myself!

Tiny jonquils, found in the hedge where they were not visible, so had to pick them! They delighted me on the shelf by my computer for a few days. Rather fuzzy photo.

Bonsai pepper tree. We have made a couple of attempts to keep bonsai trees, but they both died, very soon after buying them, so we blame the shop/growers! Not deterred, Simon was given this for his birthday. So far, it is thriving, and looks great against the white wall. it has even needed a little pruning!

'This bath is now over'. Barney having his bath before he went on his holidays with Philippa.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Less Ness

This is what I am aiming for, at any rate. I have started Weight Watchers. It has been looming for some time, but I have been putting off the moment. I am doing it on-line, Simon has joined up too, we both have health related matters which would be best tackled smaller! So far, I have lost 4 pounds and am managing OK, but feel very hungry tonight. I like the structure of the 'Tracker' to keep my food intake under control. We have quality chocolate each day, and this I am enjoying far more than when I was scoffing a bar of chocolate a day, it is now a real treat, to be looked forward to. I promise not to go on about it too much here!

No, of course this isn't me! Thank you Internet for lending this image, hope it is OK to do so.

Friday, 13 March 2009


This dresser is now in use in our kitchen and I love it. It was originally given to my parents many years ago, and I hated it! It seemed old fashioned, tatty and daft! I have recently given it a bit of a makeover, although I rushed it, as is my wont, but that does not show in the picture!
By the time we moved to Michael House, I had decided I liked it and wanted to restore it, and so it sat in our shed for five years!

I did strip the drawers properly.

It is of oak construction, many might see my painting over the wood as wickedness.

But, it is now bright, light and very, very useful. It is full of quirkiness. The little spice section has a soft area to the top of it, acting as a lid to the three glass jars. The little glass drawers are precious and i doubt could be replaced. I cracked one cleaning them in overly hot water. The glass jars at the top also have a soft section above them, with a wooden system which lowers and again acts as a lid across all the jars.

There is a glass area inside one of the top doors for reminders of what to order, such as mace and wheatmeal

The other door has reminders of how to do household stuff, such as dealing with chimney fires and how long to cook things. Larks only take 10 - 12 minutes, and brussels sprouts 15- 20 minutes. There is evidence of poor painting around the edges of this area, but most of that was already done badly before I started. I know, I know, I should have cleaned it off.

I love it, it is so ergonomically designed. I do not know when it was made, or anything about it's history, and would love to know more. Surely people have not been eating larks for a very long time? My guess of it's manufacture was around the 20's. But, were people needing to know how long to cook larks that recently? Could it be a copy of a French dresser?

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Bad blogger

Berri tucked up with his pig in a rather dirty doggie duvet

Recently I seem to have been using Facebook at the expense of my blog! Sometimes I am more drawn to one, sometimes the other. I have got some blog posts in my head, but that is where they will have to stay for a couple of days at least, as I have guests arriving today and a house that is far from ready to receive them.

Our craft group is going along really well, it is great fun. We focus for a couple of weeks on one topic and then move to another. It does work best when at least one of us is a bit ahead and can introduce the rest of us to a subject. I have done this with felt making and will carry that forward as well as leading a session on card making. One week we had a go at mosaics, this was less successful, as it looks easy and we were all a bit over ambitious. We did not really have the most suitable materials, just multi-purpose grout from a DIY store and loads of old bits of crockery etc!

We are learning about each other too. The group laugh at me for the amount of materials, books, and general stuff I have for some of our subjects. We did patchwork last week, and I found some templates and books (and a few little half made hexagons of Laura Ashley fabric!) from way over 30 years ago. Well, I was able to get on and have a go and share my materials. I was very modest in my efforts, only aiming to make a piece to use on a card. I will add it here once completed. We do have a great laugh.