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