Monday, May 29, 2006

Garden goodness

Hope you appreciate that I had to scale the climbing frame one handed to take this photo of my favourite garden corner right now.

I love this patch and the Alliums are perfect.

Got so enthused that I was forced to go to the garden centre and buy even more plants. Here's the chief hole digger of the house ready to get stuck in and plant them.

I felt really sad the other day when one of my blog-chums thought I only had one son. Guess my posts are a bit Mark heavy - get used to it Johnny, that's being the second child for you!

But just to even things up, here's a photo of Johnny doing what he's always doing when I'm creating...

Love you Johnny-bean.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Uh-oh they're breeding. The minimoopys.

I couldn't take any more ear-bending about not giving the original away, so I bribed Mark with his own. Allow me to introduce you to Freddo.

No interfaced ears for this one, but I did go down the polarfleece body route again. Got to use a bit of the thrifted dress too.

Now this way madness lies, but I then had to produce a third. This one's a girlie version made from my first attempt at felting - Annabelle.

I had a lovely pink merino wool wrap top, but a moth got it. Three enormous holes - bastard. I put the top in the washing machine and tumble dryer 3 times before it seemed firm enough to chop into, but I think it has worked. The wool is not as forgiving as fleece in terms of showing up lumpy stuffing though - I've produced a moopy with cellulite.

Whiney was talking about stuffing today. It really does make a big difference. I lived in Japan when we first got married and have a rapidly diminishing bag of the most wonderful silky stuffing I got there. All I can get locally in the UK is yukky clumpy stuff with crusty edges.

I'm going to become a stuffing snob as soon as I can source some better stuff. Recommendations very welcome.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Moopy Makefest

I was so excited when I read Carly's post complete with mini-moopy pattern. My next door neighbour is expecting, and the new baby struck me as the perfect reason to get busy and make one. Here he is posing in the garden.

I could easily get addicted to this pattern. It's not too tricky for my dodgy sewing skills and I get to use up loads of little scraps of fabric. His arms, legs and ears are quilting leftovers, his body is brown polarfleece (very snugglable for a little one) and his face is felt.

I used a bit of interfacing in his ears to give them a bit of body without stuffing them, but I'm not sure I'd do it again as they've gone a bit too firm. Perhaps some cuddling/chewing will soften them up.

We've had tears over him already "I want to keep him - you can make a different one for the baby". Actually, we have this every time I make a softie - Backtack bunny nearly got kidnapped on the way to Larissa. Strangely the only one Mark is keen to get rid of is big bad bunny.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Back Tack 3 - the bunny has landed

Is it just me, or are things a bit quiet in crafty blogland at the moment? Helloooooooo is anyone theeeeere.

I've been running around like a nutcase the past few days and I haven't done any crafting to speak of. I did get an e-mail from Larissa to say my Back Tack 3 parcel had arrived so I guess it's safe to post a picture of my bunny. Here she is.

I got very excited about the little pink rosebud buttons that I found in my Mum's button jar and decided to give bunny girl some bling jewellery. I made it detatchable because sometimes a girl needs to change her accessories. Also I wanted Larissa to be able to use the buttons for something else if she wanted to.

When you make a softie, do you always name them? I didn't and then had a pang of guilt that I'd sent her off nameless. It's not like I don't have girls names that I like a-plenty. If Mark had been a girl he would have been Sophie Beth and Johnny would have been Kitty. If I had been a boy I would have been called Russell (hmm ... quite glad I wasn't*).

*Apologies if that is your name!

I'm running off to a school association meeting tonight - got a Summer Fete to plan - so no crafting today either. Ho hum.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Moderation in all things?

Why would anybody eat one ice-cream when they could have two?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Spectrum quilt

I'd bet serious money that I'm not the only person who spent a large portion of primary school re-arranging pencils in her pencil case to make a pleasing rainbow effect. Colours - just made for playing.

I used to be a subscriber to a quilting supplies catalogue. This was before the days of on-line ordering and the shop would send out fabric samples every 6 months, about the size of postage stamps. To place an order, you stapled the sample to the order form and specified the amount you required.

I have a lot of these little postage stamp sized squares from back-catalogues, and the hoarder in me never allowed them to be thrown away. When I saw the 'colour' theme on Whiplash they began to call to me " Use us, use us....." So out they came and I played with them on the floor for a while before inspiration struck.

Little 9 patch squares, loosely themed around a colour - so here is the pieced top. Yes, I know it's not a totally finished item, but I'm not the bionic woman you know. I quilt by hand and it'll take a while to be completed. I'm just so gratified by finding a use for those itty bitty bits that have been hanging around.

Whiplash has been a real incentive for me to try something that I wouldn't otherwise have done - thank you.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Monkey madness

When Johnny turned 2, we had a monkey party. For weeks I planned and schemed and collected monkey ideas and items. How I wish I had found these great straws then.

They crack me up. My kids will drink anything that comes via a straw and these have really gone down well with them.

We've had a good day today, but I'm suffering a bit with Ikea thumb (bet that's not in Wikipedia) brought on by assembling Mark's new wardrobe/drawers/bookcase. He's really pleased with his proper furniture and it's a long overdue purchase.

We've been shoving his increasingly gigantic clothes into a cupboard too narrow for anything but infant hangers. He should be much less rumpled now.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Woolen blanket emptyhandedness

I read Molly Chicken's post about blanket dying and I really wanted to give it a go, but the blanket gods were against me.

I spent all morning trawling round our town's 6 charity shops but there were no blankets to be had. One lady said "someone else was in here looking for one on Saturday". Has Molly inadvertently started a global blanket rush? Can you imagine, people being crushed underfoot as a throng of crafters make for the last known woolen blanket source. It's an ugly thought.

On the sunnier side of the street, look who wants to swap with me! I can't believe I will be the proud owner of one of Babybug's gorgeous bags.

I had a little bag making episode of my own for a little girl who's turning 2 next week. I was a bit too nervous to applique straight onto the bag fabric, so I made a panel and stitched it onto the bag. BIG mistake. Why oh why did I use zig zag in a contrasting thread. I really messed up the corners.

Can any real sewers enlighten me? I left the needle in and turned the fabric 90 degrees, but every one looks different, and none of them look good. How do you do it properly? I really must find a sewing class to go to.

Still, I am not going to scrap this one. I figure the recipient is only 2 and is unlikely to notice the stitching quality as she fills her bag with rocks or snails or whatever.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Daisy cloth

Take a look at this pattern - cheery or what?

Now, guess where it comes from. Go on....

Believe it or not it's a dishcloth and not from some amazing homeware emporium. No, from Sainsburys. I saw it in my sister-in-law's kitchen and was so blown away by it that she was obliged to give me one. I can't use it though - not until I buy myself a stash of them.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Not Mothers Day

What a perfect weekend - it's not often I say that, but we had such a good one. Visiting my brother and his family. My boys adore their cousins and had a great time, I did some therapeutic weeding with my sister-in-law and Andy got to see the FA Cup final - everybody happy.

I've set my nephews up with their own blog - it seemed to be a big hit. I'm really wary about the whole internet safety bit for them though so sadly you can't comment on it, but it is cute.

On Sunday we met up with old friends visiting from Kuala Lumpur. We went to a 'grown up' restaurant with the kids and they behaved impeccably. Now, this might not be a big deal for some, but for us it is a MAJOR triumph. Here they are letting off a bit of steam outside afterwards.

We also came across a park with some amazing rock formations just made for climbing over.

It wasn't Mothers Day here, but I couldn't have had a better weekend if it had been.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Almost a blog break

I think this has been my longest post-free period since I've started blogging. I blame several things:

1. Sick kids
2. Absent husband
3. Back tack (but it's stuffed and sent now..!)
4. Bloglines

I'm developing a love hate relationship with Bloglines. I've only been subscribed for about a week and I'm not convinced. Yes, it's great to know I'm not missing any gems but it has somehow taken away the thrill of the chase.
It was so exciting to click through my favourites list just to see if there was anything new, and the joy of finding something.

Also, it's so much easier to lurk via bloglines - I used to feel rude reading a blog and not leaving a comment but now I find myself doing it all the time.

But my biggest beef is that the accusing number of unread posts just seems to have become another thing on my 'to do' list. I feel unable to post my own stuff until I have caught up on my reading and with so many great blogs out there, it is taking way too much of my precious time.

No wonder I'm getting bugger all else done.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Home carved stamp

Ever since I saw the tutorial over at The Monkey Basket I've been wanting to carve my own rubber stamp. I've also been thinking of a logo type motif that I could use on my stuff for the craft fair. Today inspiration struck and I decided to have a go at a clothespeg.

Now here in England we are somewhat behind the times on the craft materials front. None of the craft or art shops near me sell any products specifically for stamp carving. But I improvised by stealing a large eraser out of my sons pencil box. I had a lino cutting tool, so with an episode of Lunar Jim on TV to keep the little ones out of the way, I set to work.

I did a bit of lino printing at junior school and I loved it. Today gave me a real flashback to that. And here's my stamp on it's inaugural outing. I've done a bit more trimming and I have to say I'm pretty pleased with the effect.

Now I know it isn't that refined and the image is ever so slightly stumpy because the large eraser wasn't really large enough but I had so much fun. I'll certainly do some more. Just need some funky images.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Saturday - envelopes and the garden

Wet and miserable here today after 3 days of beautiful sunshine (when I was feeling too grim to enjoy it). Pah.

I did manage a quick trip to the car boot sale this morning before the drizzle started. This old cutlery holder caught my eye. I think it'll make a really cute display shelf for my smaller bits at the craft fair. Sorry about the terrible photo - I did say the weather was horrid and there isn't much light.

I finished up my gift tag swap packages too. Can't show you the contents because it'll spoil the surprise, but here's a look at the packaging.
It's a folded paper envelope inspired by
this book.

I cannibalized my 2002 Country Living Diary for the papers. They print the photos back to back with no captions - very handy for re-use purposes (I was an environmental consultant in a past life so I'm always interested in ways of recycling items). I used to love these diaries and had them every year for 4 years running. Plenty of potential envelopes there then.

The rain is depressing, but good for the garden. We have a hosepipe ban in place at the moment and I've been siphoning the bathwater from the kids' bath out of the window and into watering cans. The problem is the flow rate is pretty fast which means I have to do speed watering in order to get the empty watering can back before the one I'm filling overflows. Also it's a two person job - me on watering and sprinting duty and Andy upstairs trying to stop the children falling out of the window or picking the hose out of the bathtub. The plants don't seem to mind the strawberry scented shampoo or the bubble bath. I was wondering if they actually quite like being watered with warm water because stuff is thriving.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Flashback Friday

This picture hangs in my parents' hallway.

It's my Mum and I, drawn when I was about 4 at Disneyland. The story goes that I refused to sit still, so my mother had to sit with me and the artist unexpectedly drew her too because our profiles were so similar. It's true and as I get older I see myself looking more like her.

I've always thought that my boys look just like their Dad. One day we were on the bus and an elderly lady commented how much my eldest son looked like me. I responded with my usual "people only say that until they meet his father" comment. But she told me that was only people who hadn't viewed our profiles.

Is it possible to have a genetically dominant profile?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Yuk - a bug

I've got a bug - stuffy head, streaming nose, aching joints, scratchy throat. Yes, ticking all those boxes. Plus hubby is away on a business trip. Plus small son has the same bug and is clingy. I just want to stay in bed with the covers over my head.

The only craft activity I've achieved is to cut up the
jumble sale dress - thanks for the advice guys. I'll be back and feeling less sorry for myself soon.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Weird dress, great print

I was let loose without the children the other day on a mission to get my hair cut. The less said about that the better. It's okay now, but when I left the hairdressers I looked as if someone had taped a joke wig to my head. I think it's a curly hair thing. The hairdresser got trigger happy with the curling serum and then diffused it to within an inch of its life. Thankfully, I do not have a picture and have not re-created the effect at home.

At great risk of bad-hair-detection by running into someone I know, I stopped for a quick rummage at a jumble sale in the town square. It was worth the risk as I found this handmade dress. Now, it wouldn't be flattering on me as it is, but I just love the print.

Those amoeba like green flowers are great. Now here's a question - when you find a garment with great fabric, do you chop it up right after you wash it, or do you keep it whole until you want to use it? I'm a bit distracted by the form of the dress and was thinking of chopping it all up now.

Oh, and while you've just had a glimpse of it, isn't our garden looking green? Must put together a post on it soon.