Thursday, June 29, 2006

Flutter by

Frustration - trying to get a decent photo of a mobile outside on a windy day. I made this butterfly one for the babe-in-waiting next door. Making it was much easier than photographing it I can tell you - hopefully the blurriness signifies motion and not just photographic ineptitude!

The 'memory' of the wire also caused me a few headaches. Any hints on how to get wire to straighten evenly? I wound it round a broom handle, my watering can and a flowerpot to try and even the curves out, but it's far from perfect.

In fact, the whole thing looks very home made, which is either a good thing, or a bad thing, and I'm not sure which. Fun to make anyway.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Getting stuff done

My work in progress has progressed this week - managed to get the pieces of blanket dyed.

The whole thing was really interesting. I used Dylon multipurpose, Madonna Blue and Jungle Green. The blue was a much less strong pigment than the green, but dyed more evenly. I mixed the two dye baths together for the final bit of blanket, but the green was so fierce that adding the blue to it didn't seem to make much difference.

I plan to use some of this for another pair of booties and maybe a softie or two.

The breadmaker is being put through its paces. I've done a sunflower seed loaf and a standard white so far. Oh, and this one, we call it alien life form bread.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Baby toes

Little feet will soon be pattering in the house next door and in my madness, I decided to throw my neighbour a baby shower. Don't take that wrong, she's lovely, our kids are similar ages, we have coffee frequently, she buys me bread and milk for when I return from a trip, she's the neighbour from heaven. But baby shower? These are not common in the UK. In fact, I have never been to a baby shower, so what possessed me?

A diaper cake. Yes, never before has the humble nappy set off such a chain of events. I was browsing the minimoopys on flickr when I came across this. I had to make one. That lead to invitations.

So then I needed a gift. Perfect excuse to try out the bitty bootie pattern. These little green numbers were my trial run. I'm not 100% happy with them, but they were fine for a first go and I've learned a lot from my mistakes with these. I still can't master blanket stitch though.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Yummy, yummy in my tummy

I found a fun swap via Larissa (my Back Tack 3 swap partner) today. It's a kids cooking swap and I think my boys are going to have fun helping to put this one together. By weird interconnected karma, one of the things I put in Larissa's swap package was a babyfood recipe for her little one. Ideas for the swap are recipes, kids cookbooks, kiddie sized utensils, aprons.... the possibilities are huge.

Swap-bot swap: Cooking with Kids
I swap with Swap-bot!

Mark loves helping in the kitchen and is getting to an age where 'help' really does mean assist rather than 'distract the main cook and make a huge mess'. Here he is concentrating very hard on chopping apricots for our favourite flapjack recipe. That's one that is certain to make it into our swap package.

There's a bit of a foodie theme to today as yesterday I found I was expecting a houseguest from Australia. Yes, Millie is on her way from the Sweet Little Treat girls to sample some British goodies. Thanks guys!

And I'm hoping to have some new yummies in my repertoire because my breadmaker arrived this morning. It was a little me treat after finding out that hubby's job is safe (he's been on a redundancy danger list for the past few weeks). So anyone with cool breadmaker recipes or hints, I'm all ears.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Work in progress Friday

When I say Molly Chicken's post about blanket dyeing I really wanted a go. Mainly because of the difficulty in finding wool felt in the UK. But I was thwarted in my plans by the inability to get my hands on a blanket at the charity shop.

But I have a secret weapon, my mother works in a charity shop and has friends with amazing lofts full of stuff waiting to be re-homed, so it was only a matter of time before she came up with the goods. And here they are (in a dodgy photo - sorry), complete with giant pan, just waiting to be turned into luscious felt. That's my work in progress for this Friday.

Actually, my blog and crafty endeavors have turned into a bit of a family affair. My father returned from his snooker club with a huge piece of green baize for me too. I predict much green crafting in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Move over Bank of England

Recently I got carried away late at night and purchased a mailorder kit from Angry Chicken. When it came a few weeks back I was intrigued by the reference to spending the funny money that one could collect with each mailorder purchase. I'm a bit of a sucker for collecting tokens. They used to print them on Huggies nappies (little hippos) and I cut them all out and saved them, but I never did find out what they were for.

I think it was the phrase 'funny money' that really tickled me. So, it's Summer Fete time at Marks school, and the PTA have planned a list of stalls and activities as long as your arm, but there's the question of prizes. And it came to me, like a Bloglines entry, 'Funny Money'! So last night I designed, cut, pasted and laminated a whole wad and hopefully some happy kiddies will get to spend it at the fete. Thanks for the idea Amy.

Finished the advent calendar

Five and a half years after I got the stuff to make it, it's done. The advent calendar. It needs some quilting to stabilize the layers a bit, but in general I'm happy with how it turned out. It's not clear from the photo, but each little square is a pocket to put your gift into.

Unfortunately it is now firmly linked to feelings of guilt in my head so I can't possible keep it. Think I'll try to sell it at the craft fair in October. How do you craft sale veterans decide how to price your pieces?

I was supposed to be stockpiling crafty goodness to sell, but I've realized that with 2 kids home all over the summer and no help with childcare, I am highly unlikely to get anything much done. Also, I found out today that Johnny has not got a preschool place in September, so my 2 mornings off a week will also not be happening. Feeling a bit bogged down by it to be truthful. I like my kids so much more when I have a little bit of breathing space away from them and that's just not happening at the moment.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Father's day belated tribute

Why oh why didn't I discover this before Father's Day?

I defy you to watch it and not cry laughing.

Strawberries juicy

Oh no, I've accidentally left too long between posts and now have loads of stuff to catch up on, which probably doesn't make for the best reading. I flakily failed to complete colour week, but I did enjoy what I did. I managed to freak out a lot of people with that photo of the power station didn't I? No, it's not nuclear, and yes, we really do live that close to it!

This weekend went in a flash - we went strawberry picking for the first time this year.

The strawberries were put to good use by making a trifle (hubby's favourite, in honour of Fathers Day) and smoothie ice pops in the amazing moulds that Maxine sent to us.

This blogging community is so amazing - I had admired the moulds over at Noodles and Doodles, and out of the blue Maxine offered to send me some. Thank you Maxine for the bunnypops and the other goodies (fabric, a windmill, amazing card and choccy) you tucked in there too. I'm doing my best with your overdue thank you parcel.

I don't know if it sounds harsh, but in real life the acts of random kindness I witness seem far outnumbered by the stupid, thoughtless and just plain mean things people do to each other. Two things that regularly restore my faith in human goodness - watching my children and this community.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thursday - Blue

There are so many beautiful blue eyes on show all over blogland today. But we're a 100% brown eyed bunch, so this is our version.

Mark did have his first at-school swimming lesson today which he loved. I was somewhat nervous as he is a cold water wuss and it's an outdoor pool - in the UK?! I have to fill the paddling pool from the hot tap or they won't go in it. But he had a ball.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wednesday: Grey

We live right under this power station.

When we moved here there was a big old willow which screened the view of it from our house. Sadly the tree died last winter and was removed. I've come to find the power station weirdly beautiful. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Smiles all round

The wonderful Tasha from Babybug wanted a swap a while back and I was one of the lucky candidates. Her package arrived this morning packed full of goodies from Honolulu. Sea-themed goodie bags for the boys, sea urchin skeletons, macadamia nut chocolate, tea towels, and of course, the much coveted bag, which is even better in the flesh than in pictures.

I may just have to plan my entire wardrobe so I can carry it every day.

Thank you Tasha - for your generosity and for the big smiles you put on all our faces today.

Brown Tuesday

Forgive me if you've seen these before, but brown? It's got to be chocolate really hasn't it?

Monday, June 12, 2006

White Monday

My current favourite white item:

Hayfever, I curse you.

Part of Colour Week.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The object bites back

Now I had every intention of finishing the mystery item over the weekend, but it was sunny, we had visitors (loads of them), had to take Mark shoe shopping blah blah blah. I was down to the wire, Sunday night - had to get it done. D'you know what I did - sewed it together with the wadding on the outside. Aaaargh. So I had a wonderful evening of unpicking in bad light and nothing to show for it.

But well done Joanna, it was/is an advent calendar (yup - with pockets) and sadly still a work in progress. Do you think it's trying to tell me something?

So here's a random photo of Johnny with a goat - I have nothing better to show okay - give me a break!

Friday, June 09, 2006

New dangerous sport

Is it possible to jump on two bandwagons at once or does that sound like the recipe for a nasty accident?

In honour of Fiona's work in progress and Vicki's finish what you have initiatives, here's a little picture of what I'm in the middle of trying to finish.

I began it when Mark was a baby and he'll be 6 in a few months, so it's been hanging around for quite a bit. It's my effort at a teaser shot so you can guess what it is... if you're really bored ... like me..... Perhaps I should just go and finish it ... naaah.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

In need of a boost?

I was up early yesterday morning, feeling sorry for myself (because my hayfever is appalling and I'm getting next to no sleep) when I found this over at Megan's blog. She always makes me feel better. Have a look.

And other cheer inducing goodness - is anyone else into magazines? Run on over to Cotton Strudel's place and sign up for the international magazine swap. I think anyone (particularly those from outside the USA) will be greeted with fanfares and open arms. Since I discovered blogland my magazine consumption has gone right down and I feel sorry for my local newsagent - his profit margins must have dipped big time.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bills - zero, parcels - one, contents - perfection!

Today was a GOOD mail day - the much awaited back tack parcel arrived from Melissa!

And here she is, a shy little thing (I stalked Melissa's blog, looked at the Portland back tack party pictures in detail but she never showed even the merest hint of herself). She's soft white babycord, with a stylish reversible dress and matching messenger bag. And she brought a couple of aprons too - a workwear one and a lacy Sunday number.

The parcel was themed 'the best of Portland' and had some other goodies that you might recognise. Robot stencils from Laurie at Liquid Paper, a flower pin from Posie Gets Cozy, a postcard from Amy at Angry Chicken. And also freezer paper - yippee and chocolate bars.

How lucky am I? Thank you so much Melissa for a wonderful first swap experience. What an enchanting assortment of loveliness - even your shredded paper was pretty! We're settling new bunny into her home and Johnny is making sure she doesn't go short of hugs. Sending a few of them your way too.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Summer in a glass

Karen posted about some great looking ice-cream the other day and really got my summer food juices flowing. Here's my contribution - lemon balm lemonade.

Lemon balm grows like a weed in the garden here. At least this way I use the handfuls of it I pull up to keep it under control. I put the leaves in boiling water to infuse for about 2 mins, make a sugar syrup (boil sugar with a little water to dissolve it) and juice some lemons. Mix together and chill. Mmmm.

Best of all I can feel virtuous drinking it knowing it's full of vitamin C with no nasty additives. Don't you love it when healthy is just so good.

Oh and by the way all you crocs fans - I wore mine in public today and got a compliment! So sucks to you windowcleaner and thank you bloggy friends - your sage advice was right again.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Colour your own world

Flickr is where I usually end up when I have some computer time and bloglines hasn't got anything new for me. Today I was there when I came across this great new toy.

create your own visited countries map
Does exactly what it says on the tin.

Although I have to say, it is a bit of a blunt instrument. I scored the whole of Russia with one brief Moscow stopover on the way to Japan. Other places, like Tonga, I actually lived for a few years, but the dot on the map is so tiny that if your monitor is dusty you'll miss it.

Anyhow, I'm linking to it mainly for the benefit of my Dad, who's the reason I've lived in so many different places. He's going to love playing with this one!

One shoe, two shoes, red shoes, blue shoes

Yesterday we were outside in the garden when the windowcleaner came. The first thing out of his mouth was *What* are those? He was pointing at my feet...

They're crocs okay. I realise I may be a bit ahead of myself here in Blighty, but believe me, if you put them on you'll be buying a pair too.

The thing is, can I wear them out in the real world? I've put the bins out in them, done some gardening in the front and answered the door. But the school run? Or do I just have the cheekiest windowcleaner in the world?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A sprinkling of stardust

I've been reading Stardust Shoes for a while now and I love Joanna's style. A few weeks back she made some really sweet 'handknit by ..." labels and in her generous way offered personalised versions to the first 3 commenters on the blog post.

Now, I don't knit, but I commented just to say how much I liked them and guess what? She offered to make me a "Handmade by..." version instead. How sweet was that?

This morning they arrived in the post - come and see ....

Aren't they beautiful? I love that spool of thread illustration. So thank you Joanna - now I have to make something special enough to warrant such handsome tags.