Thursday, August 31, 2006

Logs and lollipops

Hubby was off work today, so we got busy with a little WIP - his log store. It has been a long-term plan of mine to get his firewood out of my garage so I can get my car into it in the winter and not have to do that tedious defrosting and scraping each morning.

Of course, the boys had to help, which means it took far longer than it should, but here it is at last, built by him, painted by me. Now the kids can have a ball with their wheelbarrow, filling it up.
I also took advantage of the drill being out to fix up a display stand for my Craft Fair ghosty lollipops. I'm worried that they have tipped over the edge from ghost to choirboy, but I'm hoping that surrounded by other Halloween paraphernalia, folks will get the reference.

Blog Day 2006

It's Blog Day 2006, which I knew nothing about until this morning, when I saw it on Cream Puffs in Venice.

The basic idea is to introduce 5 new-to-you blogs, so here are mine. Some have been around longer than others and I have avoided listing any blogs I've mentioned recently (
Nuttnbunny, Sara with an h, Mostly Books) and anything which already has zillions of subscribers. Have a peek, you might find something new.

  • Dolliedaydream - Caroline quilts, cooks, knits, sews, etches, and writes about all of them so beautifully.
  • My Little Space - Soo's blog is only a couple of months old, but I like it's 'clean' style very much.
  • Pea - Penny has a blog so visually pleasing it makes me want to weep, but she's been quiet for ages. C'mon Pea, get back to posting!
  • Quilt while you're ahead - Monica has such enthusiasm for life and it just bursts out of her blog.
  • And for something completely different, try Wednesday Advice Smackdown. I think most people, on some level, love giving advice. Amalah does it in a way which is howlingly funny at times.

I love stumbling across a great new blog, don't you?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Still breathing

Silicone rocks! Yes, the ice tray made it through the crayon melting escapade with flying colours. Thank you so much for all the funny comments about yesterday's post. And just to prove it really did work - photographic evidence...

Using a microwave instead seemed a popular suggestion, but frankly those things scare me. We do own one, but I use mainly for heating the kids' cherry stone pillows. I would rather run the gauntlet of melting/spontaneous combustion - at least I can see it coming! I am a Luddite, I know.

Caroline reminded me today that I need to sew some name tapes on school clothes. Oh, and buy some tracksuit bottoms. Did this boy grow over the summer or what?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ice cubes in the oven

So I thought I might have another go at crayon melting with some cute moulds I found at Ikea. Only problem is, they are ice trays. They are, however, dishwasher safe, so they must be able to take a little heat ... right?

If I do not re-appear any time soon, you will know they produced hideous toxic gas which overcame me and my sleeping children.

Summer's ending

We're eking out the last few days of summer here. I love September, which always seems to be tied to new beginnings, but somehow the passing of this summer feels very poignant. Johnny starts pre-school 3 mornings a week next Wednesday.

Part of me is thrilled at the prospect of a little time to myself and part is sad about the passing of this stage in life. We're done producing little people, so no more long days at home filled with the hundred and one pieces of busyness that make up a day with an infant. How fast they grow.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Halloween goodies

The charity craft fair that I'm doing in October is increasingly on my mind and I've been trying to get down to producing some stock for my stall. I flip between worrying about not having enough wares to sell and thinking that no-one will buy any of my stuff - neither prospect is particularly appealing.

But at least I can control the 'stock' question, so today I thought I'd hit the Halloween market. It is slowly but steadily catching on as a celebration in the UK and in the village where we live you can bet on a steady parade of small trick-or-treaters. The merchandising seems to be lagging behind though, so hopefully some of my bits will fill a niche.

Today was batty peg kits that people can buy to do as a kid friendly craft project at home.

And a little trick-or-treating bag with obligatory ghost.

Mark really likes this and I have promised he can have it if nobody buys it. This may have been a tactical error, as I can just picture him standing behind the table giving death stares to any prospective purchasers. In general though he's very keen on the whole craft fair idea and keeps producing drawings which he tells me I can sell - it's nice to have the support of your family!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Technology ahoy

I've upgraded to beta-blogger (why does that sound like a medicine) and so you nice folks with regular blogger accounts may not be able to comment as normal using your usual blogger identity. I think you need to put your comment in as 'other' rather than 'anonymous' (because then I don't know who you are) or 'blogger identity' (because unless you are a fellow beta-blogger you won't get recognised).

If you want people to be able to find their way to your from your 'other' identity comment you'll have to put in your web page (blog url) too. This also lets me reply to your lovely comments, either by commenting on your blog, or via e-mail if you have it on display on your blog.

I'm hugely paranoid that my little blog is going to get all screwed up and as my knowledge of html is basic to say the least, that I will never be able to get it back to rights again. Will anyone bother commenting in this awkward transition? Go on, please leave me a little something just so I can check it works. I'll beg if you want .....

Friday, August 25, 2006

Home again, home again, jiggety jig

Marks out of 10 for our holiday cottage: 10
Loads of washing done since we got back: 6
Postcards purchased but unsent: 3
Photos taken on holiday: 0

Yes, I took the camera and left the memory card in the card reader at home. Oops. I do wonder if this was subconscious sabotage on my part. I love looking back on photos that capture a certain time and place, but being the photographer bothers me. It is as if the camera forms a barrier between me and the activity in hand - I never feel as though I am truly participating when I am behind the lens. So I am sort of proud of our lack of pictures because we had a great time and really relaxed and enjoyed being in the moment.

But I do have a picture of our souvenir rocks. What? You don't bring rocks back as souvenirs? Weird.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Silent for a week

We're having a little holiday in Cornwall this week. I've taken the laptop, but in the interests of family harmony, I think I'm going to have my first official blog break. Well, that and the fact that we are in the middle of nowhere and the connection is slooow.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Feeling impulsive today, I registered for a teeny tiny swap on behalf of my teeny tinies, one of whom cries if I send away a softie he likes and moans when parcels arrive addressed to me. You have time to join in if you're quick. It seemed like a nice thing for us to put together to mark the fast approaching end-of-summer.

For me, one of the nicest elements of swaps is getting to know a new blogger. With the Vintage Button Swap, my partner Sarah was blog-less. I couldn't believe that situation would last long and it hasn't. Her new blog is up and running - she's fretting about finding her voice, but skip across to check out
Sara with an h, because she sounds just fine to me.

And just about managing to squeeze in a bit of merchandise crafting for the Craft Fair before we head off on our holidays. A pinecone and nut wreath. Very weird trying to get the Christmas vibe in August and not the best picture in artificial light.

Actually, taking pictures in natural light is one of my biggest problems. Johnny has stopped his daytime nap, so I only really have time for crafty pursuits when he's in bed and with the days getting shorter, there's a distinct lack of natural light for photos. I thought I had solved the problem when I came across a tutorial for building your own light box. All I needed was a cardboard box. I stopped at Tesco to pick one up but there were none to be found. They are running a promotion, giving you 'green points' for not using their plastic bags and every box in the place had been swiped by points crazed OAPs. I kid you not, I was beaten to the last one in the shop by a bloke with a walking stick. Guess my David Bailey aspirations will have to go on hold for a while.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dining room flash

Angela has asked for a flash of the dining room this week, so here's mine. We only really use it when there are more than just the four of us. Usually when it's just family, we tend to eat in the kitchen. I find that so much easier with the kids who always want a bit more of something or another drink or have a spill so I am up and down like a yo-yo.

It does make it a bit more special for everyone when we do eat in the dining room though. Mark in particular loves the whole candles, good glasses (not plastic) and table laying ritual.

Do you want to know a guilty secret now? I LOATHE eating with my children. I force myself to do it because I know it's good for them to see adults modelling table manners, eating different foods and making conversation. But really, in practice, what they see is me jumping up and down from the table, stretching over everyone to cut up their food and fielding bizarre questions like 'Mummy, how do the chickens make drumsticks? Is it like laying an egg?'.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Autumn approaching...

I think summer has gone - we were so cold on Sunday that we lit a fire and it was the perfect excuse to have a look at the book swap package that Sal sent me. She picked a really great selection and it's perfectly timed as we go on holiday on Thursday and I may well get the chance to catch up on some reading. Thanks Sal, and I promise to get a move on with your package.

It rained too for the first time in ages and so we have water in our waterbutt again. Rain plus access to extra water in the garden can only mean one thing for the boys - MUD. Yes, they've been having a lot of squelchy fun and I have had a lot of extra washing.

And the obvious evidence that autumn is just around the corner has meant that I can no longer kid myself about my first Craft Fair being ages away. October is creeping up fast and I have no stock. But I do now have a half completed banner for my stall. Hooray for progress!

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Somewhat late in the week, here are my chestnut contributions for a year of color.

So sorry things have been quiet round here - life has been dominated by other stuff.
Do any of you know Philadelphia well?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

New names

It's so exciting when I discover a new-to-me blog that I can add to my obscene bloglines list, but even better is finding a totally new blogger. Especially one who makes lovely things like Nutnbunny. We met through the kids cooking swap a while back when Tasha didn't have a blog, but she does now. She was asking for some advice as to how to get 'in the loop' so I thought I'd direct a few friendly natives her way.

Converting non-blogging swap partners is becoming a bit of a crusade. So Sarah (vintage button swap partner), c'mon in, the water's lovely. I cannot believe this girl is procrastinating about starting hers. She writes beautifully, judging from the e-mails we've exchanged and her taste and skill .... well just look at just some of the contents of my swap package from her. Thank you so much.

I think she's suffering from blog-title stage fright. Know the feeling well - I approached mine in true Management Consultant style, with a flipchart and brainstorming session with Andy and little Mark (who provided some very insightful truths, in the way only children can).

Failed to come up with anything much. Then 'domesticali' came to me on a long car journey as a tongue in cheek homage to Nigella Lawson, self styled domestic goddess. I love that she has made it hip to be a housewife - hate that word, much prefer domestic goddess. So, care to share how your blog came to be named?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Indie book goodness

I went into a new local bookshop today to pick up a little something to include in a parcel for a blog friend. Coincidentally, the owner happened to mention that the bookshop had a blog and so when I got home I had a little look. Only it turned into a long look. I can't be the only person who has had idle fantasies about opening their own bookshop, but these guys are actually in the middle of doing it. The shop has only been open a month and they are blogging the experience. Its fascinating stuff - go and take a look.

The shop itself, Mostly Books is charming, a lovely selection of stock and a little courtyard out the back where you can have coffee. Now I realize in the States, this is no big thing, but book buying in the UK has only relatively recently become such a civilized affair. I remember visiting an indie bookshop in San Francisco about 12 years ago and being totally blown away by the experience. Home baked banana bread, coffee, reading group meetings and wonderful personal reviews by the staff on many of the books.

I love a bargain as much as the next person and it is hard to resist the lure of Amazon et al, but when visiting a bookshop becomes a life enriching experience, surely it's worth a few extra quid on the price of a book. Typing in an ISBN just can't compete with a real chat about what you're looking at with another book enthusiast. I'm resolving to go back soon and buy more - there was a Nigella Lawson biography which caught my eye...

Eggie peggies

It's early morning and everyone else is sleeping. I love this time of day when it's all quiet and still. Soon the boys will be up and clamouring for eggs. It's a weekend breakfast tradition at our house - pancakes on one day, eggs on the other.

Down the road from us is Brook Farm where I try to buy all our eggs. You can see the chickens running about outside behind the barn and they sound so happy. Knowing our food is local and grown or raised with care is more important to me than buying something labelled organic at the supermarket. And these taste so much better too. Now the ony question is scrambled or boiled?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Flashing our living rooms

Angela and Beki have been flashing their living rooms and wanted others to join in, so here's mine. Until one drunken night at Eastertime this was our dining room. We had a furniture re-arrangement session at about 11pm under the guidance of my brother (who has always regretted not being an architect).

We seldom used the dining room, except as a place to fold laundry as we tend to eat in the kitchen when it's just us chickens. Now we have a long thin dining room with a TV watching area at one end and this room, which is our adult sitting room - no TV no toys (well, only temporary toy visits).

It's got lots of windows and plenty of light, but I have always felt that it lacks the personal touch. It feels very masculine too - I think maybe that's the leather furniture. I never really liked leather, but with two dribbly children I am a total convert. Our fabric sofas have been trashed, with the removable covers having been been washed so often that the piping is frayed. The leather looks like the day it was bought.

I love the colours of the curtains in here, but I don't like them with the wall colour. It is a lemony cream and I would far prefer a 'bone' type shade. Repainting this comes next on the DIY list I think.

We need to do something else with the lighting - a standard lamp I think, but I have been looking for 3 years for one that hubby and I both like with no success.

The bookshelf is actually the top of a dresser (the bottom is in the dining doom), but does the job of holding a selection of my cookbooks. I am ashamed of the display on top of it - it reflects laziness rather than taste and I resolve to change it sooner rather than later. The smaller cabinet often has fresh flowers on it, but I haven't any at the moment.

The pictures on the wall are 2 antique maps that my brother and sister-in-law gave us as a wedding present. I love them, but they date from when this was our dining room and I am not sure they are right in the living room. We don't have any other options at the moment though (I find buying art totally daunting).

So there's the truth of my living room - I would really love to hear your ideas on it - sort of like an interior design for free service.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Blue is the colour

Paula over at Momma Pajama has talked me into taking part in Happythings' Year of Color as exercise for the new camera. I looked for sky blue today. There was the sky (blue for sure), the swing (blue, but too bright) and the sprinkles on our cupcakes. Eureka!

The cupcakes got my very first 'cloud frosting' treatment today. Its basically a meringue mixture but you make it with hot sugar syrup instead of granulated sugar. Nice, but I don't think my egg whites were as stiff to begin with as they should have been because the frosting came out a bit too runny. Either that or I did not have the sugar syrup boiling for long enough to reach the correct temp. I must buy a sugar thermometer one of these days. Any advice from cloud frosting experts welcome - especially you Megan because we have the same cupcake cookbook I think.

Still, the consumer panel (Mark, Johnny and Hubby) weren't complaining, even if the sugar rush did leave at least one of them very bouncy.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sixty second craft adventures

How quick could these be - some glass nugget thumb tacks for my pinboard. Not wildly inspired, but dreamt up, executed photographed and blogged in a single nap time. Got to seize your chances while you can!

Yes, photographed with the new baby. Depth of field - love it (nearly as much as my hot glue gun).

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

You really deserve it honey!

Look what hubby bought.

Usually I am Miss Conservative when it comes to spending money (particularly on 'boys toys' as they are termed in our house). But when Andy started talking about upgrading his SLR to a digital version my ears pricked up. Well, you did get a bonus .... you really do deserve to spoil yourself a bit ... (buy it, buy it now, I don't care if we can't pay the mortgage).

And so, it came - the D50. But I am in awe of it. I must study the manual. I am expecting truly great things...