Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Decorated drawers

I have a hard time throwing away my kids' art.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Well, you asked!

Okay - five of the things you wanted to know:

What was your favorite craft as a kid? (Capello, being nice and non-confrontational - her words, not mine!)
My mother was deeply into Macrame (yes, I am a child of the 70's) and I was roped in (bad pun) as a sort of human clamp. All that knot-knowledge was very handy when the scoobidou craze hit first time found. I was a mean scoobidooer. I also loved those string art pictures. And scratch-a-foil. D'you see a pattern - instant gratification with an ability to follow instructions more relevant than artistic flair. Oh yeah - that's me.

Did you go to college, and if so what was your major? (Kirsten)
University of Sheffield: Physical Geography - gravel bed rivers were my big thing. I wanted to do a PhD, but couldn't secure funding so I went off to Edinburgh to do an MSc in Environmental Technology instead. Great city. I loved University, but if I had my time again, I would do something different - forensic science maybe.

How did you meet your hubby? Was it love at first sight????? :) (JoJo)
We played for the same hockey team in Sheffield. I stalked him until he gave in. Shameless.

What do you sound like?? Where were you born? (Tiel and Emma)
Well, that's a pretty hard one to answer. More Kate Winslet than Dame Judy Dench. Not at all like the Queen. A bit squeaky when I get excited, or angry. As if my teeth are too big for my mouth - is 'toothy' a valid description of one's voice? Southern, fairly RP I think. I was born in Bermuda, but my accent would never lead you there.

If you could do something with your crafting now, what would you do? (Raspberry)
Now, there's a question. I guess I *could* do something with crafting now. But do I? With Johnny at pre-school, I am forced to consider what I do when I no longer have a small child at home full time. It's not a comfortable question, so if you don't mind, I think I'll put my head under the pillow for a while and pretend I don't have to think about it.
Instead, let me distract you from that non-answer by looking at this great plate I found today. I popped into the Charity shop to get a saucer to put under a leaky plant pot and came home with 6 of these - 35p each. I love them.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Soo tagged me with a 'five things I haven't mentioned before' meme thingy. But really, I am a pretty open person. If I haven't mentioned it, it's probably because I think you wouldn't be interested.

I've spent a fruitless 10 minutes trying to figure out an answer to this dilemma. Usually when I don't know about something, I ask you guys and somebody (or, in Johnny speak, 'some-bubba') will come up with an answer. So once again I turn to you oh wise-bloggers.
Are there things you are burning with desire to know and I have failed to share? Leave me a question in my comments and I'll answer 5 of them. Honestly.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Let it snow...

It doesn't happen too often here, but when it does, it's magical and you have to seize the moment. Which is why we were running around like idiots at 7.45 this morning. And it's a good thing we did, because by eleven o'clock all the snow had gone.

It was the first time Johnny has really seen snow - magical.

And my CD shelves are painted and up - in the end, I matched their colour to the spines of my favourite Penguin Twentieth Century Classics. My paperbacks are all arranged by colour - makes for very pleasing shelves. How do you do yours?

Monday, January 22, 2007

See one, do one, teach one

Do you want a laugh? I am teaching a class.... a crafting class. It's a 'Tuesday Ladies' meeting at the church where Johnny an I attend toddler group. One of the toddler leaders asked me to do it ages ago and I had sort of forgotten I had agreed until she cornered me last week and asked what I was demonstrating. What on earth do you demonstrate to ladies of a certain age, three quarters of whom no doubt sew an awful lot better than I do?

I happened to be wearing this brooch which Monica made for me. I boldly said - "I could do a workshop for making these", and she leapt at the chance. Only one small snag, I hadn't actually made what I was wearing. In fact, until yesterday I had never made a brooch at all. But there are lots of great tutorials out there, right? So yesterday, while hubby had taken the boys walking, I churned out a few.

Hopefully it's mostly about the joy of choosing the fabric and button combinations anyway. They won't notice my less than perfect sewing technique will they?

Will they?

And if you have a moment to spare, pop over and say 'hi' to Jen. She has a brand new blog "one more minute please" and I have a feeling it's going to be a fun one. Tell her I sent you.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Kate tagged me with this weird things meme.

RULES: People who get tagged need to write a blog post of 6 weird things about them as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says "you are tagged" in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

1. I am normal - it's everyone else that is weird really. Let's just get that straight.
2. I often wave at people I don't know - sometimes because I think I know them and I don't, but sometimes just because I find the expression on their faces (trying-to-look-friendly-when-I-can't-remember-who-you-are) really really funny. The thought that they then spend the next few hours racking their brains to remember me makes me laugh even more.
3. I can't bear people drinking from my milk - I'll happily share a sip of anything else, but if you touch my milk, I can't drink it.
4. I have to clean my ears with a cotton bud every morning - not doing so would be worse than failing to brush my teeth (which I need to do twice in the morning, once first thing and then again just before I leave the house).
5. I have saved the baby teeth Mark has lost. I don't know why or what I am going to do with them. By the time he and Johnny have lost them all maybe I'll have enough for a necklace (kidding!)
6. I own 46 pairs of knickers (not counting the pair I have on) - but I am not so weird that I knew that without going to the drawer and counting them.

Tagging the following possible weirdos - Soo, Kirsten, Joanna, Megan, Monica, and Sarah.

Thanks for all the pottery good wishes yesterday - I had a great time - made a pot (unfinished) and a handful of buttons. Marie, the potter, has a huge old dog which snores - listening to him breathe is better than meditation.

And you know that Judith Levine book we were all interested in? Beware of how you get your hands on it - look at the controversy it's stirring up. Judith herself has been compelled to comment...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Something new

Tomorrow I begin a pottery class. I'm so excited and a little bit nervous. I have thrown a pot only once before, but I loved it - the feel of the clay, soothing movements, beautiful glazes. I am hoping for great things, but steeling myself to start small and simple.

My teacher says I will have to learn hand-building techniques and 'get to know the clay' before she will let me on the wheel. It'll be good discipline for me - I have a terrible tendency to run before I can walk. It's something that frustrates me with trying to teach Mark, but the blame for his impatience can be laid firmly at my genetic door.

I've been having exploring sources of ceramic inspiration - my favourite so far: One Black Bird. My apron and old clothes are ready and I have cut off all my fingernails - yup, taking this very seriously!

D'you think I'll be coming home with one of these?

And in lieu of a pot picture to show you, here's a little glimpse of Johnny doing the baby equivalent of running before you can walk.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Standby for a food post. Dieters, look away now. Yup, my turn to nominate an ingredient in the international cooking fest this week and I've chosen cheese.

This particular handsome devil is a Colston Bassett Stilton. A gift from hubby's colleague Dave, whose family are from the same village as the cheese. We Brits can be fairly fanatical about our cheeses (More Wensleydale Gromit?) but I have the misfortune of living with three boys who can't stand it. So what's a girl to do? I need cheese-friendly dishes, which work without cheese too.

My stilton standby is Cream of Celery soup. Mine gets a handful of crumbled stilton stirred into the bowl of hot soup just before eating. His is unsullied.

Recipe? So easy it doesn't really warrant one, but take some celery sticks, clean and chop (0.5 cm thin ish). Melt a couple of ounces of butter and cook the celery for about 5 mins until soft but NOT brown. Stir in 2 tbsp or so of flour and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add about half a pint of milk and half a pint of chicken stock. I could lie and tell you I always make my stock from scratch, but in this case, a good quality stock liquid works just fine.
Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 mins until the celery is tender. Stir in your stilton (or other cheese of choice, I like something blue).

So, are you ready to join in this week? Let's all generate some cheesy dreams.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Not Buying It

Painting dilemma - I have some wooden storage units for my new craft room cum office walls. They are sitting in the garage all primed and ready for paint. If only I could decide which colour.

I spent a fruitless hour on Sunday in Homebase trying to pick one out and instead found myself back home with a fistful of paint chips, no further forward.

Then I find myself wondering how much it really matters - can't I just use some leftover paint from the garage and save myself all this angst. Because I'm sure that would be the option Judith Levine would choose.

Her book Not Buying It is out in paperback in a week or two. I'm waiting impatiently to read it since I read this review from The Independent:
"Many of us are unhappy, not because we don't have enough, but because we have too much. The usual answer to this problem? Just consume more stuff. We have a vast market in storage (things in which we put other things in order to make it seem as if we have no things)"

Oh yes, this struck a chord. The book is a memoir detailing the author's experiment in not buying anything but the essentials for a year. I need to read it.

When I told my hubby I planned to buy it, he laughed at the irony of that statement. So I did try to reserve it at the library, but there is a long waiting list (guess I'm not the first to have that idea) so in my impatience I've ordered it. Hey, at least I did it from my local independent bookshop...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Banish the blues bag

Months after finding a great wool fabric, I have finally got round to my take on the oh-so-popular Tiny Happy Bag.

It is lined in a linen/viscose mix of a turquoise almost guaranteed to banish the winter blues. Just what I need on this dismal, dreary weekend.

When I finally got down to it, the bag came together pretty fast. I used a magnetic snap closure instead of a button which was a shame in a way as I had a couple of great button options, but speed of closure won over style this time. The interfacing I added gives the wool a really nice weight and the only thing that irritates me is the fact that despite careful pattern cutting, I totally failed to match up the checks on the centre seam. How do you top sewers out there manage it? I need to know, because the bag is a great size and shape and when Spring finally arrives, I may need to make another.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Licking my lips

I've got resolutions to keep on track this week and something Tiel suggested is going to make it a whole lot easier. An international ingredient-fest. Every week or so, Tiel and I will take it in turns to dream up a foodstuff to use and share an idea for a dish using it. Care to join us? It's the closest thing to sitting down and eating together we're likely to get in blogland. So pull up your chair and unfold your napkin.

Tiel's pick this week is grain mustard.

I'm a lover of mustard - my fridge currently contains English (bright yellow, smooth and hot), French (brown, smooth and mild) and wholegrain. The last is probably used more often than the others, and one of my favourite recipes is this little gem from Nigel Slater's book 'The 30 minute cook' - Lamb Chops with onions, mustard and chickpea puree.

To save you squinting at the photo of my spattered cookbook, I even found you an on-line link for the recipe and I urge you to try it because the chickpea puree alone is worth it (as my pencilled note points out!). Do you write in your cookbooks? Mine are filled with jottings to remind myself of tweaks to the recipe or records of when I first tried it.

Nigel Slater is a national treasure as far as I am concerned. My kind of cook - not too anal about precise recipes and loads of ideas for adapting and enhancing the basics. You know you are on to a good cookbook when you salivate while reading. What I hadn't realized is that he's obviously becoming popular in the States - I spied 'The Kitchen Diaries' in a photo on 3191. If you want some breakfast inspiration, that's the place to head. Perhaps a sausage sarnie with mustard for a lazy Saturday breakfast.....

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Herbivore and carnivores

We're enjoying the last couple of days school holiday over here, assisted by a newsletter I subscribe to - Kids Craft Weekly. Each week, via e-mail, you get a themed set of activity suggestions. This week was dinosaurs - very popular round here. So behold, the paper-plate-a-saurus. I'm told he's vegetarian, so we're quite safe.

Dinner tonight was a decidedly un-vegetarian affair. Steak sandwiches with aubergine and cumin relish, watercress and portabello mushrooms. Yummmm - perfect for a quick supper before Hubby heads off to play badminton.

See, I am trying hard with those resolutions.