Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Random acts of total stupidity

We all know what today is don't we? I baked the pumpkin muffins (Amy's yummy recipe).

I consulted with the boys and translated their designs into pumpkin form.

We dressed up and hit the neighbourhood for trick-or-treating. And we returned home to find this on our doorstep.

What kind of genius courier thinks leaving a glass aquarium on the front doorstep of a pumpkin lit abode at 6pm on Halloween is a sensible idea? Miraculously it seems unscathed. Thank you pumpkin gods. Our incredibly fast growing goldfish will be eternally grateful.

And thank you all for your sympathetic response to my whining last post. When we were going through Mark's assessment, some kindly professional asked me if I had any support. I don't think she knows about the force that is craft-bloggers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fed up

Hubby is in the middle of a four-business-trips-abroad-in-as-many-weeks cycle and I am feeling fed up. Tired, lacking in adult company and somehow devoid of joy.

The first needle felting first efforts were fun though. Perhaps if I created a corporate effigy to stab I'd feel better.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Hello Christmas-lovers! Just wanted to let you know about the amazing swap that's happening over at Montessori by Hand. I am a relative newcomer to Meg's blog, but I am in love with it. And she's hosting a Holiday Traditions Exchange.

holidaytraditions2007button copia /

Oh yes, decorations, traditions, music, recipes. It's all going on. Sign ups are open until November 10th. Go on, get those festive juices flowing.

I LOVE hearing about other families' Christmas traditions. But it's also a great chance for us to reflect on what makes Christmas special in our house too.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Halloween preparations in full swing here this weekend.

Cute skeleton cut outs from Sewing Stars. Oops, he seems to have lost a leg.

And white chocolate ghosts courtesy of Martha Stewart. These look really impressive, but are dead easy to make. I don't know if my white chocolate got too warm to set hard again, because the lollies are great straight from the fridge, but a bit on the bendy side at room temperature. Any chocolate melting experts out there?

Clocks went back today - our first dark evening of the year. We have a family movie night planned, so I need to go and make popcorn. They rented 'Garfield - the movie'. I do not have high hopes.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Half Term

How quickly this week has passed. A trip to the grandparents at the seaside coincided with a couple of gorgeous autumn days. I love the beach in summer as much as the next person, but there's something great about enjoying it in the low sun all wrapped up.

Granny (the expert) led the boys in a crabbing adventure -six in total! Apparently crabs love bacon - I never knew that.
We staked personal claims on our favourite beach huts.

And had earnest conversations on the true meanings of signs.

Luckily it was too chilly for the nudists, or Mark would have been asking them all about it too. Seven years of parenting and I still find myself fumbling for answers to so many of his questions. Actually, perhaps I'm getting worse.

So what have your kids stumped you with recently?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Supportive Family

Finished the hat. My first knitted garment. Woo hoo.

Blood, sweat and tears people. Really. Well not the tears part, or the blood actually. Okay, so I'm prone to exaggeration - it's a minor flaw. Bad hair is worse, far worse and I'm seriously guilty of that. I also seemed to be labouring under a number of misapprehensions with this project.

Misapprehension #1 - I could get away with knitting a swatch straight from the skein. Swiftly re-assessed thanks to Johnny and the fateful words - 'Dis just like spaghetti Mama'. After two hours of untangling, I wound the damn ball.

Misapprehension #2 - Having failed to find the specified 60cm circular needle at the biggest knitting show in the face of the earth, I figured I'd just use an 80cm one. It won't make my life much harder will it?

Misapprehension #3 - despite his total lack of excitement at my new found skill, hubby would be won over by the gorgeousness of the finished article. Hubby found modeling new hat in previously unconsidered configuration.

Do you think I could sell them on etsy? My family, not the hats.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


The agreement today - I get to finish sewing my second attempt at the Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Tote. Hubby gets to watch the Rugby in peace. Seemed fair to me.

This iteration is in the most gorgeous drapey wool - I had to interface the hell out of it to make it bag-proof. And the sew in interfacing didn't work at all - the wool pulled horribly and stretched when I tried it, so it was back to iron-on.

Having learned from the shortcomings of the last one, I put a piece of pelmet interfacing in the bag bottom and added a magnetic snap.

We'll see how it holds up on the first test-drive. I never can tell with a new bag until I've taken it out on the road.

Now I heard a muted cheer from the watchers downstairs, so I'm off to check the score.

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's a beautiful day-hay-hay

Feeling the Friday joy today. Partly about the lovely goodies which landed on my doorstep from Jen of Swallowfield. I have a quick visit to get some frames for the gorgeous prints (yes, plural) she sent me - my favourite of all is called 'I feel lucky'.

It's very appropriate, since my lucky number is indeed 13 and I came to own it via good fortune in a generous giveaway. If you need a little luck of your own, pop over to etsy.

The colours are reminding me of a little project of my own I've been getting underway this morning.

Inside these babies is a cat toy. Yup - one of those jingle bell inside a plastic mesh ball thingummies. Which should mean I have just made a jingling Christmas decoration. We're still at prototype phase, but I did pick up a good few handfuls of the cat toys at the scrapstore when I last visited. There may be more to come. I love the idea of re-purposed ornaments on our tree this year.

Although perhaps not next week, because it is half term. Which is great in that the level of badgering required to get everyone out of the house on time goes down, but there isn't exactly much free time to spare either. Although perhaps papier mache might just be a great project for the boys. If I can handle the mess.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The sountrack of my life

Someone has been eavesdropping at our house.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Knit and Stitch Show

Finally, a few moments for some Alexandra Palace show-and-tell. Thanks for the Johnny well-wishes. It took 4 doctors, 2 nurses and 2 x-rays to confirm his arm isn't broken. And he's using it again. Phew. Just don't ask how many hours I've spent in medical establishments this week...

At least I had my mind pictures from Sunday to sustain me (if no real ones - photography was seriously frowned upon at many many exhibits, so I abandoned my camera and tried to commit everything to memory instead).
My favourite new find of the show was Caren Garfen.
Her work was full of domestic motifs (toilets, irons, hoovers), silk screened onto cotton and hand embroidered with the finest of fine threads. It was the quiet, self deprecating wit that caught my eye, and the sense of a shared joke. Pinny-humour if you like. But such exquisite workmanship.

I think well known to others, but not to me was Julie Arkell. I'm filled with enthusiasm for papier mache - must get to ripping strips soon.

Her work is described in her book as 'very English'. I'm not too sure exactly what the commentator meant by that, but I love the colour pallete (bright, but slightly muted), the use of found objects and the whimsical with an edge, which prevents the pieces slipping over into cute.

Not that cute isn't good - Rebecca Shreeve's
Quirkles were unashamedly cute, brought off with panache and the most gorgeous soft fabrics.

More grown up appeal from Clyde Olliver, who stitches on slate. Fabulous.

And the shopping, oh yeah, because there was plenty of that going on. And some pretty scary shoppers to contend with - there's nothing like a stash-builder with their quarry in sight for getting the elbows out! Some temptations, I could resist - a pumpkin teacosy kit, sadly beyond my skills and a great selection of Mini Boden fabrics, which would have sat and sat before I decided what to do with them.

But there was still a lot of shopping going on. I found some gorgeous linen thread and linen pieces by fog linen work sold through Selvedge objects.

Sashiko thread, from Euro Japan Links. I love the matte finish of this for embroidery.

Some yarn for a simple little hat project I want to try.

And a whole load of needle felting supplies. It's something I've been wanting to have a go at for ages, so when I saw a starter kit being demonstrated, I just had to have one. Believe me, I was all about lack of spending restraint that day! It's a good thing the cashpoint was out of action, or the damage to my bank account may have been severe.

And it wouldn't have been anywhere near as much fun without the redoubtable company of Caroline. In fact the only downer of the day was the absence of Monica who was stuck at home with her little barfers, chained to the washing machine. Why is it that time spent with blog-chums passes in the wink of an eye? It was only the tiredness of my feet which convinced me we had spent the entire day having fun. But we really did.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Almost show time

And to think I nearly didn't make it to Alexandra Palace yesterday for the best exhibition I have seen in ages. Because at 5.30pm on Saturday, I was sat in A&E with a rather forlorn little Johnny. I thought he had broken his arm.

He was playing happily by himself and no one knows quite what happened. Johnny says he leaned on his hand and stretched too far and Andy found him whimpering and clutching his wrist. He wouldn't let us anywhere near it and was as white as a sheet and sweaty. Shock. So off we went for some x-rays, which didn't really show anything conclusive. So home we came again and have been dosing him up with alternative hits of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen ever since. He has still not used his arm though, so I think I am heading back there now to check it is really okay, because I'm not convinced.

And this is a bummer because I'm desperate to tell you all about the Knit and Stitch show. But I must sort out little one first.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Dishcloth induced debate

The siren call of a new challenge is something I find irresistible, so I was delighted when recently Louise sent me yarn, needles and a selection of patterns for knitted dishcloths. I'm a very beginner in the knitting game, but there's nothing I like better than a challenge. So I was happily partaking of this little crafting treat when the following conversation happened:

Hubby: Why are you doing that?

Me: It's that dishcloth kit I showed you.

Hubby: No, I mean knitting.
Me: Eh?

Hubby: Well, it's just not sexy is it.

Clearly the whole 'pinny porn' debate has passed over his head. You can hear the start of it on this podcast.

Don't worry, I shall punish him for heretical thoughts, by making him apply said dishcloth to the dishes for the foreseeable future. Actually, on second thoughts, it may be too good to waste on him.

He's worried about hate-mail, but it looks like he's not the only doubting Thomas. And I'm getting my own back on Sunday when I am escaping for the whole day for some knitting and stitching goodness at Alexandra Palace. And guess who's looking after the boys! Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Posh jellies

When I am my foulest, most screamy self, I forget just how easy it is to please my boys. Behold the favourite dessert of the moment:

Mandarin orange segments straight from the tin, suspended in lurid tangerine jelly.

"Oh Mummy - posh jellies!"

Sometimes, I am just so classy.

Oh and you know Martha's top idea for leaves dipped in wax - if you were thinking of trying it, you may want to reconsider. After a week and a half, ours have turned black and started to go stinky. Not really the aspect of autumn I was hoping to capture.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Soothing food

Don't you just love it when friends choose you the absolute perfect treat. My chum had a grown up weekend in London and returned with Laduree macaroons for little me. I've lusted after them from afar, but never tasted one. Until now.

I am totally hooked. They were (note the past tense there) sublime.

So today makes up for a horrible day yesterday, when a man driving a great big Range Rover crashed into the side of my car and then zoomed away without stopping. I kid you not. Tosser. I keep thinking of my £125 excess bill - that would have bought me a whole lot of macaroons wouldn't it? Although I can't be too rude about him, because Johnny will shop me.

Hubby: 'What happened at pre-school today Johnny?'
Johnny (3): ' A bloo-dee man crashed into Mama's car'

Monday, October 08, 2007

Autumn bounty

We've got a little Autumn windowsill thing going on here this week. Conkers and leaves.

Michelle sent me a copy of Martha Stewart Holiday 'Halloween' and I've been wanting to try so many of the projects. I can't find her instructions for wax dipped leaves on-line to link to, but basically its melt wax in a double boiler, dip leaves, hang to dry.

They look pretty, but perhaps I should have cleaned my windows before I took the photo! The wax preserves the pretty colours of the leaves and stops them going dry and crinkly.

It's my 300th post today - that's a whole lot of nattering. Thanks for being with me through it all.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

And... exhale

Coming back down to earth after a busy build up to Saturday's craft fair. It was a pretty low key event, but I like to do it because it's local. Even if sales aren't huge.

It went okay, although I did have some funny comments. One woman looked at my grocery bags and said to me - 'No, I don't like those at all'. Oooookay, I can take criticism. And a lovely man, who looked very intently at everything and then said 'You certainly have some very unusual items'. Thanks, I think.

But it was Johnny who made me laugh. He walked into the hall and up to my table, then said very seriously 'Mama, those tings are just like yours'. Sweet boy.

I am all excited now though to get on with things I have been putting off until after the fair. I don't think I am really cut out for making things to sell. Somehow, they don't seem to contain the soul that an item does when you're making it with someone in mind.

So here's to 'items with soul' and a large glass of wine and veg on the sofa sort of evening. Sundays - you've got to love them.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

How to make a ghostie lolly

When you see how simple these are to make, you'll laugh at me for doing a tutorial on them. But you did ask! Now get the kids busy before Halloween. You'll need a round lollipop, a couple of tissues, some wool (or thread or string), scissors and a marker pen.

First lay out the tissues, overlapping as shown. Plonk your lolly down in the centre.

Gather the tissues round the lolly stick and tie at the base with the wool.

Trim the ends nice and short so they disappear.

Draw on a ghostly face with your marker. In our household, we lack artistic talent, so we go for the Munch-esque silent scream.

Now you're all set to frighten/delight your trick or treaters.

Ooh, that was my first tutorial I think! Do I get a badge?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hurried heaps

Rush rush rushing this week, trying to get ready for Saturday's Craft Fair.

Piles everywhere. Amy is showing little pieces of her home this month. So I thought I might join in.

Ghostie lollies - always my Autumn Fair runaway bestseller. And I can make them while I watch Jamie and Nigella on telly.

I'll feel less rushed next week. Hopefully.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Running repairs

Moo cards are so very handy. Mine saved me from having to scribble out my details when I ran into a woman's car in Waitrose this morning. Yipes. She was loading her shopping into the boot when I did it, but mercifully she was extraordinarily nice about it. Perhaps it helped that I was grovellingly apologetic. But I like to think the pretty Moo card softened the blow a little.

Hell, if I had had a roll of this cute tape handy, I could have offered instant repairs. So if you're planning on doing any dodgy driving, perhaps you should pop over to
paper and string and pick up a roll or two for the glove compartment. Stay safe.