Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Once Upon The Nick Of Time.

Once upon a time there were three dollies. It took their maker a long time to get them finished, and it was a tight squeeze to make it into the stockings of three little boys and girls, but at last they were complete and the lady who made them could finally relax and bid them a fond fairwell.

There names were:

Little Red Riding Hood

Little-Red-Riding-Hood


and Hansel and Gretel

Hansel-and-Gretel


They also had a cute little friend called Daisy who was none the worse for not having a fairy tale theme (we hope!).

Daisy


Phew!

So, clearly I'm finished. Although I have to confess to not actually finishing ALL the things on my To Do List after decreeing that somethings really could wait until after Christmas. Everything that was needed for a Christmas gift is complete though, and just in the nick of time (I finished the faces on these last night, I'm pretty sure the recipients aren't likely to be lurking on here so I thought I would share). There are a couple of other handmade things but there's a chance the recipients of those could be watching so you'll have to wait until after the big day for those pics.

It's been a slow old day around here. Kendo has been deposited at the pub for his annual Christmas Eve meet up with his buddies and Grace, Egg and me are pretty much just mooching around the house (and dosing Egg with calpol because he's a bit under the weather. Hope he's better for tomorrow!). Grace is mithering to log onto the NORAD tracks Santa site to check on where the Big Guy is up to so we'll be doing that shortly. I just wanted to share my crafty goodies with you and take the time to wish all my bloggy readers

A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Lets hope 2009 isn't as gloomy as politicians are predicting! I hope you all have a wonderful festive season and that Santa brings you lots of loveliness.

TTFN

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

So Close You Can Almost Taste It.


No...not to the Big Day, although that is pretty close, what with only being two sleeps away and all.


I'm so close to finishing my Christmas crafty presents its untrue. So close and yet not close enough in my mind. I did try to get them finished last night, but as it was almost midnight and I'm in work all day today common sense prevailed and they went back into the bag incomplete. Just 3 embroidered faces and one tiny part of felt shoes to make. Tonight they will be DONE and I can start worrying about the last bits of present wrapping I need to do before tomorrow night *sigh*


As for the December journal. Well, I managed to make it up to December 5th. Not a cracking effort, and with all the best will in the world I'm not going to get any more done before now and Christmas Day, but you know what? It's okay. It's Christmas, time for forgiveness and peace to all (wo)men. So I forgive me for being crap at daily scrapping and will instead concentrate on enjoying the season.


I wish we had snow though. Snow like this. How cool is that? Okay, probably not cool when you need to shovel your car out to go anywhere, but it's pretty exciting when admired from afar ;)


Back tomorrow with photos of finished things. I promise!


TTFN

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Don’t Panic Mr Wonka!

I think its safe to say Mr Willy Wonka’s job is safe with me around!!

I was struggling to think of something to give to Gracie’s teachers for Christmas (4 of them, as one has been off sick so there’s been a substitute, but now the sick one is back and the sub is still there, plus the nursery nurse and a permanent TA).

I decided (in my infinite wisdom), that I would make some chocolate truffle and put them in some nice origami gift boxes. Sounds simple. In reality – the truffles were an unmitigated disaster! I don’t know if the chocolate I used to was too high in cocoa solids (it was like 85% or something) but they were really, really bitter. Not just chocolate bitter but with a horrid after taste. Scratch effort number one.

Now. This was last night. Today is the last day of school. Cue panic about what to give them. So I decided (in my infinite wisdom*), to whip up some fudge. Can’t go wrong with a nice bit of fudge. It was all going swimmingly, I stirred like a maniac for 20 minutes. It look lovely and smelled divine. Then I followed the final step in the instructions (leave to cool for 5 minutes and then beat with a spoon). That was the big mistake. What had been glorious smooth fudge morphed into brown clumpy breadcrumbs! What happened??? Eek! I tried reheating it a little to resurrect it, but it was too far gone at this point and quite frankly had started to resemble the plastic dog poop you get in joke shops. It was not pretty. Scratch effort number 2 *sigh*

Clearly my strength does not lie in the world of confectionary.

Cue even more panic. It’s about 9.30pm by this point and the teachers still have no presents!

I did the only thing any sensible crafty type person could. I took the safer option (safer than doing battle with boiling sugar anyway). I cracked out the sewing machine and made these:

Mini Box pouches
[please excuse all my crafty crap in the background. This has been living on the dining table for weeks while I work on my Christmas projects].

Which were then stuffed with the Christmas Quality Street and popped in to these:

Origami Gift Boxes

The mini pouches tutorial came from here, via here. The origami box tutorial is from here.

I hope they like them. They’d better, or I’ll be sending the heavies round!

The good news is I managed to tick 4 things off my To Do List last night (because the boxes and teacher’s presents were on the list and I did two doll bits). So only another 16 to go! Hurrah.

Also. I think I’ve been totally busted by the sneaky Mrs Monkee Maker! Oops. I confess okay. I did say I was only going to make these once I’d finished all my Christmas presents, but I have actually started them (in fact, I’ve finished one and started the other). In my defense, knitting is the one crafty thing I can do whilst I’m sat on the sofa while the kids are playing/watching the TV. Everything else either involves the sewing machine (which Ewan is way too interested in) or being in my craft room (which is at the back of the house and too far away to watch the kids from). So, that’s why the wrist warmers are on the needles. See, perfectly reasonable explanation for my startitis.

Hopefully tonight will be a little less panic-striken and a little more relaxing-Christmas-crafty!

TTFN

*I'm beginning to suspect my infinite wisdom isn't as infinite as it would first seem.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Only 20 Things.



There are only 20 things on my “To Make Before Christmas” list.

Just 20.

That’s not many really. Is it?

Considering there are 6 evenings and four days I’m not in work left to get things done. Not many at all. I have confidence. I have faith. I have a slightly sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It’ll all be good I’m sure.

Remind me to start my Christmas present making in June next year, won’t you?

TTFN

Monday, 15 December 2008

‘Twas The Week Before Christmas.


Oh how I hate this week before Christmas! Not that I’m not all Bah Humbuggy or anything. I am actually feeling pretty festive (more so than usual in fact) but I think this last week before just drags on forever.

Let’s look at the facts. There are still 9 days left to go. You still have to come to work (which lets face it just sucks, even if you happen to like your job like I do); you’re skint because payday hasn’t rolled round yet; there are still handmade Christmas gifts to make, and cards to write and a last couple of presents to buy (which you can’t do because you’re skint). There’s Christmas food shopping do to *shudder*, and Christmas party fancy dress costumes to organise. The kids have no concept of how long 9 days is in reality so keep asking “Is Father Christmas coming tonight?” which, after the 1000th time is wearing a bit thin. Every where you go its packed with people, it’s impossible to find a parking space anywhere within a mile of anything resembling a shopping establishment. See. Crubbish week.

There’s been much Christmas gift making action around Chez Cookie this last week (although clearly not enough or I’d be finished by now!). I’ll be posting some pics of some of those later in the week (when they’ll hopefully be finished).

Miss Grace had a very busy week at school last week. Wednesday and Thursday were the performances of their Nativity play “The Hoity-Toity Angel” which was totally fantastic. Both Nanny’s went to the Wednesday afternoon performance while Kendo and I got our turn on Thursday evening (being in school at night time is cool, apparently). I took some photos and a couple of short videos, unfortunately I can’t share them because one of the stipulations about people being able to take them was that they didn’t put them on the internet. I think I might have one or two which only have Grace on so I might post those later when I get home.

Grace also received the school award certificate from the Headmaster on Friday for being “A Megastar with her sounds” (at least that’s what it says on the certificate). She was able to identify all the phonics sounds they’ve been working on, including the blends and was the only one in her class who could. Go Grace! Even the Headmaster testing her with some sneaky tricky blends couldn’t catch her out! I’m so proud of her!

As for the other on going project. The December Daily recording has been sadly lacking I’m afraid. I know. Not in the least bit surprising. Why, oh why do I always think that I will find time to keep up with daily scrapbooking? I really never learn. I guess I’m just an eternal scrapping optimist! I can but hope that I’ll manage to catch up. Not that anything particularly scrap worth has happened in our December anyway.

In other exciting crafty project news, I discovered this this morning. A wrist warmer pattern on straight needles! Hurrah! I’ve been looking for one of those for a while so I am adding this to my project list (should be ready some time around August at this rate). I’m a little scared by the cable, it has to be said. I’ve never done that before. It kind of reminds me of being round at my Grandmonster’s house when she used to whip up cable aran cardigans in a matter of minutes (well, not minutes, but I swear you could see smoke coming off the needles ;)). I have no idea if I'll manage to make them, but thinking about them is making me smile. So that's will do for now.

TTFN

Monday, 8 December 2008

Progress.

There's been some crafty progress around here this last week (only right and fitting in light of the new space to craft in really).

I've so far managed two incarnations of my album for the December Daily Project. I completed the outside of the first one in a smallish size (around 7x7) in the nick of time (for that read I was still making it on the night of Sunday 30th November!) but I really didn't like how it turned out and couldn't get motivated to start filling it. In the end I gave up on it and started over with a new size (this one is around 6x9) and a new, more contemporary colour scheme and I'm lovin' it! (Although that hasn't stopped me already being behind even though it's only the 8th December *eyeroll*).

I managed to remember to snap pics of my first couple of entries yesterday while there was still something resembling sunlight around the place.

Here's the front cover:
December Daily Album Front Cover


and 1st December:

December Daily Album - 1st Dec


December Daily Album - 1st Dec (2)


and 2nd December:

December Daily Album - 2nd Dec


(Don't let the fact that you can see a 3 on this confuse you! Damn those acrylic pages!)

and 3rd:

December Daily Album - 3rd Dec


December Daily Album - 3rd Dec (2)


This is based on Ali Edward's December Daily project and calls for a kind of mixed media approach to putting your album together. Which is great fun. Instead of just standard size pages to work with all the way through I've got 6x9 cardstock pages, smaller patterned paper pages, scalloped acrylic pages, envelopes, blank greeting cards, library pockets, bits of transparency. It's really exciting to try and work your page around these different elements and to get your head round how it all fits together. Should you be even remotely interested, you can see all the blanks ready to be filled if you click on one of the photos above and go to my flickr page.

The album's not bound as yet. It will eventually be bound with probably 3 or 4 book rings, but I happen to know that Santa's bringing me a Croc-o-dile this year (on account of the fact that I went to buy it) so I'm leaving the binding until after Christmas day when I can happily hole punch away with my new toy :)

See. Progress!

Not only scrapping progress either. I've managed to finish the 4 knitted projects that I had to make for Christmas presents (which I can't show you just yet, because nosey people enquiring minds might be peeking. I also made a good start on the 4 Wee Wonderfuls dolls that I'm making for presents. So far I've cut, sewn and stuffed all the body part (it was like the lair of some toy town serial killer in our house on Saturday night!), one of them has it's limbs attached, the other three are armless and legless temporarily but I'll be rectifying that this week. Then I have to do battle with hair and outfits, but there's hope for finishing them yet.

TTFN

ETA: I forgot to mention. The festive cookie refit was inspired by this. Thanks Kirsty! I usually do full blog headers when I redesign them but I loved this "floating" header look (and will definitely be trying it again in the future).

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The Perils of Being a Biker's Wife.

Kendo is a biker. No ifs or buts about it.

I knew this from the moment we started going out (14 years ago – eek!) when we used to walk from my parents house round to his flat to pick up his motorbike (then a Kawasaki GPZ500 with a knackered monoshock) and then go out for rides to Southport and other such delightful Northern places (if my mother asks, we went bowling, okay?).

He’s always owned a motorbike in some incarnation or other in all the time we’ve been together. Well, expect for the Biker Mid-life crisis he had after Egg was born when he traded his beloved Suzuki Bandit 1200 in for a car. That was recently rectified you might recall after the untimely death of my car a few months back.

Being a biker isn’t just something he does. Its part of who he is. It’s in his soul and although I can’t always see the fascination (like when its cold and he thinks it’s a good idea for me to go out with him) I can appreciate the joy of it. Wind in the hair (well, visor anyway) blowing out all the cobwebs that stressful lives build up in our addled brains.

Then there are mornings like this morning. Mornings when I really wish he didn’t have that biker bit in his soul at all. When I’m woken at just before 7am by the sound of his voice from the living room when I know he left for work at 6.30am. When I can hear the rain outside, and hear his half of a telephone conservation to work and I know that his bike ride to work hasn’t been as uneventful as we like them to be, and I’m wondering what damage has been done to him, and to his bike. I know it’s obviously not that bad, or he’d be upstairs telling me he was a mess, or worse someone else would be knocking on the front door to tell me he was more than a mess.

Just ice, plus frozen hailstone, plus a layer of rainwater making for a very slippery road surface and a nice horizontal skid along the top of our street. He’s fine, except for some bruising to his right knee, and a few battle scars on his bike. Me? I try not to think about the what-ifs. You could drive yourself crazy doing that.

Today I’m reminded of a cyber friend of mine whose biker hubby was recently involved in a serious bike accident (I know she reads here sometimes. Hi Wendy! Hope you and John and the mini-woopsters are all okay) and I’m left with the thought “There but for the Grace of God go I”.

Today I’m thankful that my lovely husband is at home safe and well. He might sometimes be a pain in the arse, but he’s my pain the in arse and I’d like to keep him a great while longer.


TTFN

Sunday, 30 November 2008

It's Finished!!

My craft room is finally finished! It's all very exciting around here. There's light and space and storage (although not enough of that) and room to actually do stuff.

Let's have a quick reminder of what it was like:

Messy Craft room (before refit!) 4


Messy Craft room (before refit!) 3


Messy Craft room (before refit!) 1


YUK!!!

Now its a million times better, and a whole lot more pleasant to be in. Trying to get a shot of the whole room at once is impossible but here's most of it:

New-Craft-Room-1


And my lovely new tables (complete with already started WIPs - well, it wouldn't be me if there weren't a couple of those on the go, would it?) and my pink chair (I do love my pink chair!):

New-Craft-Room-2


and my shelves (which could use a little more sorting and better storage solutions, but you've got to work with what you've got, right?):

New-Craft-Room-3


So, there you go. I have actually managed to get it finished before Christmas. I'm amazed! Now I can start cracking on with that To Do List that's on the whiteboard!

Right. There is nothing in this house to make for Sunday lunch, so it's off to the supermarket for us, which is a bummer, because it's really, really frosty outside. Brrrrrrrr.

TTFN

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Everywhere I Turn.

Surely other people are starting to notice this too? Everywhere I turn there are signs that Christmas is really not as far off as you think it is. Blogs reminding me that it’s only a month until Christmas Day. Emails arriving in my inbox to tell me that Christmas Journalling Classes will begin on MONDAY (Eek!). Shops with Christmas Trees up already, and Christmas music starting to filter through into my consciousness from every quarter (Grace spent all evening yesterday singing Christmas Carols. What’s that all about?).

It has to stop. I’m just NOT READY for it to be Christmas in 4 weeks time. I’m not.

Granted I have all my bought presents bought (well, some are still enroute from their respective online orders, but I’ve done the buying bit). They’re not wrapped, but at least I have them. The handmade things are a little more of a panic. I still have 6 and a ¼ hand made gifts to make. When am I going to find the time to do that??? When?? I need to petition for at least 2 extra weeks to be added to November – both of them consisting solely of Bank Holidays.

Right. Enough hand-made Christmas panicking. There is nothing I can do about this from work, so no point worrying just yet. I’ll panic about that later.

On to craft-room updates. Contrary to Miss Lou’s clairvoyant prediction via email that I would spend all my time last night curled up on the sofa with my paint brush in hand I instead took my paint brush (well, brushes actually) and got to tackling the remainder of the painting in the conservatory (with the help of my lovely Mum – who is fab and fantastic and fortuitously lives next door ;)). And it’s DONE. Finito, finished, completed. Hurrah!! This afternoon is Ikea shopping to purchase one of these:





And then this evening I’ll be tackling 10 metres of white voile to make the window dressing (I won’t say curtains, because I’m actually sneakily appropriating the sliding tracks that the hideous pink blinds were attached too, so it’s actually a blind/curtain combo – I hope it turns out like I think it will in my head). Hopefully I can start moving back in on Thursday (and get cracking on some of that handmade giftness by the weekend!).

I’m very excited about the craft room, but I’m also pretty excited about something else. We have a star in our midst (other that Miss Lou’s lovely Emily who is going to be the star of the school play (Go Em!)). Do you remember Dorothy? Well she’s been showing off her Ruby Slippers over here, the little fame-monger! How cool is that though?

TTFN
P.S. Apologies to the residents over at Trash Towers. Apparently the lurgy we've had in the PTC household this week was of such a virulant strain it's managed to cross over to them by cyberspace! Hope you're all feeling better soon!

Monday, 24 November 2008

The Best Laid Plans.

You know the saying. The best laid plans and all that. Well, my best laid plans for lots of craft room rennovation this weekend were scuppered - by two poorly small people :(

Tis always the way when you have small children, the one weekend you actually ever plan to get anything done and they manage to catch the lurgy and turn into weary, poorly snot-ridden creatures. It's not much fun (for them or us).

Of course, I should have known when I got in from work to a very sickly looking Eggman on Thursday night that the weekend was going to be a write off. It only got worse on Friday though when I managed to somehow get the key to my car stuck in the petrol cap *sigh* Unfortunately its one of those where the key remains in the cap until you put it back on the car - so not only could I not get it back onto the car, but I couldn't get the key out to move the car either. Cue calling Dad to come and rescue us from the petrol station - pushing the car out of the way of the pumps....in a straight line because the steering lock was on. Then getting Dad to drive me to the other side of Wigan to Kendo's work to pick up the spare keys. Did I mention *sigh*?

Could things get worse from there - well, if you count having my hairdryer blow up mid-drying.... then that'd be a yes then. I spent Saturday with the left side of my hair dried nicely by the hair dryer and the right side left to its own devices, which basically means it was a pathetic attempt at curly. Not even dragging it back into a bobble could mask the hideousness that was my half hearted hair do. Again I say *sigh*

All was not lost though and I managed to salvage something of the weekend on Sunday when I recruited my lovely and very decorating-able Mum into helping me with the conservatory painting. So we now have over half the brick work painted and the first coat on the windows and door. Hopefully I will find the energy this week (assuming I ever recover from the fact that I've had about 6 hours sleep in three nights from being up with the kids) to get the walls finished and another coat on the woodwork so I can get moved in and get cracking on the unpacking.

Oh - and I've managed to complete 1 and 3/4 of my handmade Christmas presents - which I as much as I would love to, I can't share with you for another 5 weeks. Sorry. Pesky relatives reading the blog.

Sorry there's not WIP pictures of the craft room. I'm too lazy to get off my tush and take some I'm afraid. You'll have to use your imagination.

TTFN

Thursday, 20 November 2008

I Might Be Willing To Concede…

…..that it could be entirely possible, depending on your point of view, that I may have in my possession, what could perhaps be perceived as (based on how one were to interpret the situation), an over abundance, which would be of course an entirely relative term, that is to say rather a large amount, in light of the quantity I actually could ever actually use, of crafting supplies. Do you think?

……..Nah!


A little bit of craft room progress was made last night. I’ve managed to pack up all bar one shelf (which is the one which holds my albums which in the current arrangement is actually underneath the table) and a couple of items off the top of the bookcase. Tonight’s mission is to pack up those final bits and start on some furniture removal and dismantling. When I got home from work last night my lovely Mum had bought me a present. A 10L can of Pure Brilliant White smooth masonry paint. I love my Mum, she knows me so well ;)

Friday (my day off! Hurrah!) should hopefully see some wire-brush-meets-brickwork action followed by some painting. I think there might be hope for this project yet!

In other, totally unrelated to my craft room news (I can hear you all saying “phew” from here you know :P). Do you remember this project from last year:

Gracie's Sheep costume-Harvest Festival 2007


This was Gracie’s sheep costume for the playschool Harvest Festival. Right now at school they’re practicing for the Nativity play (being a Catholic school we get an actually Nativity and aren’t forced to abandon it for reasons of political correctness gone bonkers). They’re doing a version called “The Hoighty-Toighty Angels” and Gracie has been practicing singing all her songs for the last few weeks (quite well actually). Can you guess which role she’s been given in the play? You’ve guessed it. A sheep. Again. I fear my daughter might have been typecast as a farmyard animal (although she does make a really cute sheep : )). I’m actually really looking forward to seeing the play, from the bits I’ve heard Grace singing and what she’s been telling me it sounds really good. No doubt we’ll all be banned from the use of cameras and video recorders, but how else would the school get away with charging us for buying copies of the DVD?? :P

TTFN

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Sidetracked.

I think it’s entirely possible that I’ve become completely sidetracked (surely not, you say?).

What am I sidetracked by?

Mostly this:

Messy Craft room (before refit!) 4


And this:


Messy Craft room (before refit!) 1


And this:

Messy Craft room (before refit!) 3


And oh yes….this:

Messy Craft room (before refit!) 2


This would be the state of my craft room (well, actually this was the state of my craft room on Monday morning, now it’s a whole lot emptier after shifting out two bin bags full of rubbish and stacking most of my stash on the dining room table). I put my hands up. I know it’s a crap hole. I’m mortified to my very core about the state of this room and apologise to all you crafters who don’t have the luxury of a craft space for my blatant abuse of this one. I promise not to do this anymore.

What started out as me having new tables in my craft room has somehow morphed into a bit of a craft room refit (not that I’m complaining!). Having decided that in order to get the new tables in there I need to have a “bit of a clearout" it became clear that if I was just to put up the new tables and shove everything back into the room with the promise that I would one day decorate in there it would never happen and I would be permanently doomed to a life crafting amidst dark brick work and even darker window frames (not to mention hideously skanky vertical blinds!).

There’s been much discussion going on between my hubby and I over the best course of action on how to tackle the brick work. We debated between painting it or plaster boarding it, and then painting it…...or maybe we really should plasterboard it. Finally the nightmare of the logistics of getting the plasterboard in 8x6 ft sheets from B&Q was deemed worse than the hatred Kendo has of drilling into masonry and we decided that painting it will have to do. So that’s the plan for this weekend. White brickwork walls (in a bit of a New York loft stylie), aqua coloured wood work* and I’m leaning towards the purchase of a pink swivel chair.

It does seem that there’s something of a gender difference when it comes to work room design I’ve noticed this week. Kendo’s been talking of wall to wall shelving and it being *shudder* PRACTICAL. I’m thinking one or two nice shelves which match the desk and I could maybe add a dowel and some cup hooks so I can have my ribbon stash hanging up there. I want pretty and light and airy and full of creative inspiration. I want this, or this or this (okay, never gonna happen in my tiny conservatory, but you know what I mean). Clearly Kendo wants “Man Space”. He envisages this, or this, or this.

To that I say…… THAT’S WHAT THE SHED IS FOR!!!

So, the plan for the weekend is to crack on with some painting and hope that what I envision in my head as my little white and aqua crafty haven will eventually materialise out of the madness – hopefully some time this side of Christmas!!

I promised photos of the craft room monstrosity, so there you go. With some light at the end of the tunnel at least.

I also promised photos of the Wreck This Journal Paper Plane activity from Mum’s birthday meal.

This is the page from the journal:

WTJ Paper plane page


And Jaqs and Stu trying to decipher how to make a paper aeroplane following the lines on the page:

How many people does it take to make a paper plane??


Eventually I decided to take matters into my own hands. In true WTJ style I rebelled against the lines and just folded that plane any damn way I chose:

Me making the WTJ Paper Aeroplane


(Clearly the Eggman wanted in on the WTJ action).

Here’s the finished article:

Ta Da!


And the one photo out of about 15 where I actually managed to capture the thing mid-flight……almost!

Plane in flight (almost)


My parents were somewhat bemused by the WTJ antics, but hey-ho. We had fun.

TTFN

*I know aqua might be a strange choice of colour but we already have a full, unopened can of aqua paint from when we painted the bathroom and hell, waste not want not I say. I did wonder if it was a bit odd to paint your craft room the same colour as your bathroom but then I figured they’re the two rooms in the house that I make crap in, so it seems right that there be some continuity of colour scheme ;)

**Apologies to Miss Lou as she’s probably reading this, but has already heard all this via email this week. Some of it is even worded the same I suspect. What can I say? I can never be bothered to rethink how to write things. Soz Lou.

Monday, 17 November 2008

I Survived The Week!

Well, it’s Monday again and I managed to survive my week back in the land of SAHMness. My Mum was away for the week as part of her 65th Birthday present (HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM!!) so I had to take some holiday time from work to stay home with the kids. Now I remember one of the reasons I come to work 3.5 days a week! Man it’s hard work being a SAHM. Seriously, I do less work at my actual work than I ever do when I’m home and at least at work I can drink a cup of tea in peace, hell, sometimes people even make my tea for me.

That said, the kids were nowhere near as troublesome as I expected them to be (why is it they are usually little angels for everyone else and holy terrors the second a parent is in sniffing distance??). Grace was at school all day so it was nice to get some quality time with just me and the Eggman (which doesn’t often happen). He’s such a charming little guy that son of mine. He could melt your heart with one flash of those big blue eyes. I could just eat him right up. But I won’t, because whilst he’s very cute, his feet whiff!).

On Saturday we endured enjoyed a family meal out for Mum’s birthday. Despite waiting 30 minutes for our main courses to be served we still had a good time. We even managed to fit in a little Journal Wrecking action at the table. My big sister is playing along with this. Badly I might add. She brought her journal up with her for the weekend and I have to say it was disturbingly pristine considering she’s had it for weeks. I did the only thing I could do. I asked if I could take a look then lobbed it the full length of my parents hall way. Then I bashed it on the wall a couple of times for good measure. It looks better already.

My aBIL (that would be almost brother in law) took to making some paper aeroplanes so remembering that my journal was in my bag we decided we would tackle the “make a paper aeroplane page”. I did take some pictures, but haven’t uploaded them yet so I’ll post them later.

Talking of photos not yet uploaded. I took some “before” photos of my craft room this morning as my Mum has kindly let me have my Christmas present from her early, which is two shiny new IKEA tables for in my craft room. Unfortunately that means that I can no longer put off tackling the mounds of crap that have accumulated in there (resulting in me not actually being able to do any crafting – because I can’t actually get to anything). There is an upside though. Whenever I do a clear out (which I do every so often) I always find things in my stash that I’d forgotten I had. Which is cool. It’s like shopping without the expense or indeed having to leave the house. So, I shall be brave and post my VERY messy "before" pictures when I’ve finally got it in some sort of order enough to take some hopefully very tidy “after” pictures. I think I need to start with a WIP box, but as Miss Lou kindly pointed out – there’s a chance the conservatory isn’t big enough to house a box large enough for my WIPs. Anyone would think I has startitis issues or something. What was that? The year of finishing things? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

TTFN

Friday, 14 November 2008

Monday, 10 November 2008

Easy Peasy Banoffee Pie

I've had a serious hankering for homemade Banoffee Pie all day - so I couldn't resist getting the ingredients together when I was in the supermarket and making one for tonight's dessert.

We used to make this all the time when I was at University, it was pretty much a staple, go-to pudding and is still one of my all time faves.

We used to make the caramel by boiling the arse off a can of condensed milk for a couple of hours so I was all set to do that. Imagine my joy when I spotted this on the supermarket shelf:

Caramel


You can buy the caramel ready made!!! Hurrah! That's like 3 hours off the prep time. Cool.

Just to save even more time I also bought a packet of ready to roll shortcrust pastry. So this is just the most super lazy pudding ever!

Here's what you do:

Ingredients:

Packet of ready to use shortcrust pastry
3 ripe bananas
300ml carton of whipping cream
1 tblsp of Icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
1 can of Carnation caramel
1 Cadbury's Flake

1) Roll out the pastry and use it to line a pie dish. Prick the base with a fork and blind bake the pastry according to the instructions (mine took about 15 minutes with the beans in and then another 15 without the beans until it was golden. Leave the pastry to cool.

Pastry-Case


2) While the pastry is cooking:

Slice the bananas and set aside. I used 3 (they were just getting a little too ripe for eating so perfect for this, I think that's what prompted the banoffee craving).

Put 300ml of whipping cream in a bowl and whip until it forms stiff peaks. I added a tablespoon of icing sugar to help stiffen the cream a little (and add a little sweetness)

3) When the pastry is cooled, spoon out the caramel onto the base and spread so the bottom is evenly covered (I used about half the can).

4) Pile on the sliced bananas. I like loads in my pie (it is banoffee after all) so pack 'em in there good and proper. Save 5 or 6 nice slices for the top.

Pack-in-the-Bananas


5) Add the cream on top of the bananas and spread out with a spatula until the top is completely covered.

6) Smash up the flake (whilst still in the wrapper!) with a wooden spoon, put the banana slices you saved on top of the cream and sprinkle over the smashed flake pieces.


Banoffee-Pie


Serve tiny pieces to the rest of the family so you can sit and enjoy the rest to yourself later!!

Mmmmmmmmm. I love banoffee pie.

Should you be interested the original Banoffee Pie recipe comes from here. Where you can find instuctions on how to make the caramel from condensed milk if you can't find the premade stuff. This recipe uses coffee in the cream but I was never too keen on that. Plus caffeine + small people = not good.

Apologies for the photos. There is no light in my kitchen at 6pm on a November evening.

TTFN

Life's Little Certainties.

On Saturday morning I was certain of the following things:

1) Cage The Elephant ROCK in concert.

2) Being 40 years old does not mean your mosh pit days are over.

3) Aging goths never get any easier to deal with when they've had a few beers.

4) Being the designated driver sucks at the time.

5) Getting to have a lie in with no hangover makes being the designated driver not so bad after all.

6) Sometimes strangers do things that restore your faith in humanity (like returning lost mobile phones that certain 40 year olds have misplaced in the mosh pit).

All in all pretty productive learning for a Friday night.

TTFN

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

In My Defense

Okay, in my defense on the audio-blogging/phone voice thing. I was actually ON the phone when I recorded it. I used the snazzy system over at Gabcast where you call into their recording system to make your audio files. So, definitely excused for the phone voice, because I was really on the phone ;)



On a completely unrelated note (about as far removed as you get can from my innane waffling) a big CONGRATULATIONS to President Barack Obama.

Here's hoping he can do the job of change people are counting on him for and doesn't turn out to be just another politician like any other. An historic day indeed.

TTFN

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Monday, 3 November 2008

Flip Flops and Gerberas

We recently watched this movie:



Which I totally loved every minute of. Smart, funny, quirky. Everything about this movie was cool. The very best part of the whole film though was the Soundtrack. Wow. What an amazing collection of music. I only own a couple of Movie soundtracks, they have to particularly grab me for me to consider buying them. I am still mourning the loss of this one (which I think we left in the last house we lived in in Stoke :( ).

I went on Amazon in search of the Juno soundtrack and stumbled over this review, which totally clinched it for me.

This film, and the soundtrack, are both going to develop a huge, so-cutting-edge-it-bleeds cult following, and I absolutely understand why. Many of the songs on this album are very reminiscent of nursery rhymes - happy and innocent music that makes you smile. Kimya Dawson features heavily... which adds an undercurrent of cynicism to the whole thing, but it's not necessary to get embroiled in all of that. She's an inordinately talented singer/songwriter, and her disdain for this genre of music has resulted in her unintentionally creating something wonderful. Take a pinch of grass-roots folk, add a dash of nursery rhyme simplicity, and this is what you get.

It’s music for girls in vintage summer dresses and plastic sunglasses and flip-flops who stand with their toes pointing inwards and hold a pink gerbera daisy in their left hand.

Tracks that stand out are I'm Sticking With You by Velvet Underground, and Anyone Else But You by The Moldy Peaches, which is Kimya Dawson's band. A lovely added bonus is Ellen Page and Michael Cera's (the two teenage stars of the film) rendition of the latter. It's a lo-fi triumph; adorable and shy and bound to make you grin from ear to ear. I'm Sticking With You is just a beautifully understated track. It continues the nursery rhyme theme with its lilting melody and lovely lyrics: "I'm sticking with you; cos I'm made out of glue/ Anything that you might do, I'm gonna do, too." It's delightful.

Anyone Else But You is much the same in terms of the atmosphere it creates - retro, lazy Summer afternoons holding hands with someone you adore.

The whole album is gentle, with the only "edge" coming from Mot the Hoople's (soft glam rock) All the Young Dudes and Sonic Youth's (almost ambient) Superstar. Both of which are still Summer dreams, but both tracks deviate from the nursery rhyme vibe, and they actually break the album up nicely. The album isn't at all saccharine - as you can tell, how do I love this soundtrack: let me count the ways - but between Kimya Dawson and Belle and Sebastian, having something with a little more kick is like having extra chocolate sprinkles on a really yummy cake.

All in all, I recommend it absolutely. You needn't even watch the film in order to fall in love a little. But flip-flops and gerbera daisies are a necessity.

I was totally sold on the album when I read this. And the reason? Well. I confess that I’m harbouring a secret part of me that still wants to be that girl with the flips flops. The consummate “Indie Chick”. Despite being a total (and I mean total) nerd at school, I was never quite the “cool nerd”. You know the ones I mean, the ones that are quirky and kitschy enough that their nerdy status is somehow cancelled out. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but I suspect that was the problem. Maybe I tried a little too hard and kind of missed the point somewhere along the way? I think you have to inherently be that type of person, or it just doesn’t fit.

Thinking about it, I supposed I’m actually more like that now than I ever was. What with the crafting and the weird tastes in music and movies, but it just doesn’t work when you go to work in an office everyday and have to be a respectable mother of two the rest of the time. I think I’ll have to accept that my flip flop and gerbera moment has passed and give it up as a lost cause. I suppose I could always try the vintage floral dress for next summer?? Maybe?? Or maybe not.

Here’s the soundtrack listing. I thoroughly recommend this, and the movie. Time out of your life well spent I’d say.

1. All I want Is You – Barry Louis Polisar
2. My Rollercoaster - Kimya Dawson
3. A Well Respected Man – The Kinks
4. Dearest – Buddy Holly
5. Up The Spout – Mateo Messina
6. Tire Swing – Kimya Dawson
7. Piazza, New York Catcher – Belle & Sebastian
8. Loose Lips – Kimya Dawson
9. Superstar – Sonic Youth
10. Sleep (Instrumental) – Kimya Dawson
11. Expectations – Belle & Sebastian
12. All The Young Dudes – Mott The Hoople
13. So Nice So Smart – Kimya Dawson
14. Sea Of Love – Cat Power
15. Tree Hugger – Kimya Dawson and Antsy Pants
16. I’m Sticking With You – Velvet Underground
17. Anyone Else But You – The Moldy Peaches
18. Vampire – Antsy Pants
19. Anyone Else But You – Michael Cera and Ellen Page

TTFN

Friday, 31 October 2008

Happy Halloween!!!

What a busy day it's been today. Kendo's been home with the kids while I hopped (actually, I crawled, slowly in the car) over the Pennines to visit this lovely lady, Miss Louise, who is still incarcerated in the Infirmary. She's pretty damn bored (as you can imagine) so I thought a couple of hours catch up on the goings on in blog land and the real world (plus the donuts I took with me) might cheer her up a bit. Hopefully she'll be home for the day tomorrow and reading this so if she is *HI LOU* - and I'm gutted I forgot to take a picture!!

Once I'd crawled my way back across the mountains it was down to some serious Halloween business. Pumpkin carving, costumes and a little Trick or Treating was the order of the evening. Here's Miss Grace and Egg with their pumpkins.

Happy-Halloween


I don't have one in their costumes because I stupidly forgot to take the camera but my MIL took some so I'll post them when I've got her to send them across.

Halloweening aside, pumpkins and sweeties was not the most exciting thing to happen today. The most exciting thing (except for my visit to Miss Lou of course :P) was THIS:

Parcel


Which arrived in the post for me today. As soon as I saw who it was from I knew what it was and I couldn't open the package quick enough. I wasn't expecting to find all this extra goodness in there as well though. This was what was inside:

Bag


A super cute drawstring bag - I love this fabric!

Mag


This magazine with all sorts of gorgeous needleworky stuff in. Yum.

Goodies


This cute little soap bar, and all these fabby fabrics, surrounding a mysterious item encased in bubble wrap.

Any ideas what it might be???????

Its THIS:

MMF


Be. Still. My. Heart.

OMG. My very own stash of Marshmallow Fluff!! Now I can make some of these. I could not have been more excited.

In case you couldn't tell from the box who it came from it winged its way to me all the way from the wonderfully lovely and fabulous WMK. Who I think I love most in the world right now! After I'd bemoaned the fact that we just can't get this stuff here she emailed me with a note that simply said "Address for Fluff?" and here it is.

I can't wait to get into some Whoopie Pie making action over the weekend. Results to follow with pics I'm sure.

THANK YOU WMK!!!!!!

TTFN

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

We’re Not In Kansas Anymore.

Not that I ever was. In Kansas that is. You’ll see where this is going in a minute.

Yesterday I promised pics of my doll made with the Wee Wonderfuls Kit, Chloe and Louise pattern. For once, I’m actually going to deliver on one of my promised to post pics of a finished product. Wonders will never cease!

First though I just want to sing the praises of this pattern a little. I’ve never sewn a doll in my life and the pattern was a God send. It’s easy to download and print (sometime when you buy downloadable patterns it’s a nightmare actually getting to the product you’ve purchased), the pattern pieces are already at full size (no photocopier action necessary) and include the seam allowances. Apart from a few tricky little curves to get round it’s really easy to make up and I think it looks great. The instructions for the hair (the most daunting bit of any doll I would have thought) were really clear to follow and had me going “Ah…. Obviously that’s how you’d do it – why didn’t I think of that!”. I love the fact that the pattern comes with instructions for three hair dos and three outfits too so you can mix and match, or customise like I did. Should you ever fancy a bit of doll making – this is the pattern for you!

Right. Now I’ve finished blowing Hilary Lang’s trumpet for her I’ll get down to the business at hand. Meet Dorothy. Gracie’s new best friend.

Dorothy (standing)


Grace is a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz. She loves the movie and we went to see a local performance of it at the theatre a few months back (at some point I will take her to see Wicked, when it eventually comes to a theatre near here). I downloaded the pattern on Friday and was deliberating over which doll to make, then on Friday night when I was drifting off to sleep the idea to make a Dorothy doll popped into my head and just wouldn’t go away, no matter how I tried (don’t you just hate….or maybe love it when that happens?). Despite feeling a bit under the weather on Saturday (who isn’t this time of year) I dragged Gracie to the haberdashery and the fabric shop after dance class for some red glitter fabric, some peachy sheeting and some other bits and bobs and started sewing Saturday night once the kids were in bed.

The doll and the shirt and undershirt are directly from the pattern. The gingham number was one of those “make it up as you go along” sewing projects, which I only had to unpick one (woo hoo!). I gave her a nice centre part and bunches a la Ms Garland and I’m particularly fond of her little Ruby Slippers which were made using the pattern and some interesting amalgamations of black felt, sparkly fabric and Bondaweb. Repeat after me “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

There's no place like home



We did have a bit of a shoe emergency this morning when I decided after the 40th time of her losing a shoe that I really should attach them to her feet! A couple of tacking stitches each side sorted that out though and she was good to go.

Grace has gone off to the ILs this morning happily toting Dorothy under her arm. She loves her to pieces already. I’m sure she won’t look quite as respectable when she gets back from being dragged round a play group and the Safari Park today, but what good is a doll if you can’t play with her?

I fear these could be addictive though, I’m already hatching plans for the next ones.

On a completely different topic. There seems to be a lot of bloggers waxing philosophical this week. I wonder if it’s the rapidly approaching festive season that has everyone in such a pensive mood. This one (follow the link where it says Read This Story) made me tear up just a little. This one really struck home to me about being thankful for everything that I have. This one made me think about my scrapbooking a lot, and about the reasons I do it, and all the reasons I should stop beating myself up over trying to get it “right”.

So, that’s it I think. Two posts in two days. A miracle for me. I’ve got a couple more WTJ pages to share but I haven’t taken pictures of them yet so I’ll save them for a later date. Maybe tomorrow, I might consider myself on a roll then.

TTFN

Monday, 27 October 2008

What's A Girl To Do?

Really, what's a girl to do when her hubby abandons her to run off and do this for the weekend*?

Well. If you're me, then you'd be downloading this fantastic pattern from Hilary Lang at the very cute and fabulous Wee Wonderfuls and setting about making your very own cloth doll (actually, Gracie's very own cloth doll, but you know what I mean). Kendo's been away all weekend camping (nutter!) so it's just been me and the kids at home. I've managed not to resort to the gaffer tape (although it came close a few times) and we've made it through the weekend relatively unscathed (unless you count the bump on Egg's noggin from falling over, the bump on my car's back bumper where I accidently reversed into someone when I was pulling off our drive and the hole in my thumb nail where I poked a sewing needle through it). See, relatively unscathed.

I'm almost done with my Wee Wonderfuls doll. She needs one more shoe making, and a face. I'm nervous about the face. I don't want to mess it up and have it look all creepy. At the moment (with no face) Kendo says it reminds him of that freaky episode of Tales of The Unexpected with the faceless nun in the rocking chair (anyone remember that?). Scared the bejesus out of me when I was a kid. I'll post some doll pics tomorrow if I can get her finished tonight. I'm really pleased with how she's turned out.

Following on from this post. There has been a little bit of journal wrecking action going on. Mostly of the doodling variety (I find its easy to do what while I'm watching TV, or like today when there's only me in the office at work ;) ).

Here's a couple of my pages. Nothing spectacular, just a little more trashed than it started out:


The outside


The outside, looking a little more trashed now.


Title Page


The title page, a doodley work in progress.


Instructions page


The instructions. Pretty colours! Colouring is good for the soul.


Circles


Filling the page with circles. Another WIP.


Tear Strips


Tear Strips in a bag.


Glue or Staple


Glue or staple these pages. The bag is stapled to the back page and the title of the tear strips page is glued to the glue and staple one. If that makes any sense.


Envelope Doodle


Doodling like its the back of an envelope. No probs with this one, I do this all the time anyway.


Fruit stickers


Clearly I'm not getting my 5-a-day if this is the most fruit stickers I can come up with in 2 weeks. One of them isn't even mine!!


Doodle over this writing


Doodle over this page of text. And yes, I read it before I started, even when it told me to stop. Are you even surprised by that?

There's a lot of stressful stuff going on here at the moment (which I can't really share on here) so I'm actually finding the WTJ project really therapeutic. Hopefully I can get to some of the more random destructive ones at some point.

TTFN

*In case you can't be bothered to, or can't see the video on this link, what he's been doing for the weekend is LARPing (aka Live Action Roleplay). Basically an excuse for grown adults to dress up in costumes and run round a field thwacking each other with rubber weapons. Think D&D, only the geeks have been let out of their room to play!