Thursday, 29 December 2011

Lucky me!

My own Secret Santa is a star! Look at that bookmark! The whole present was lovely - the little tins, chocolate, the little silver shell, but the bookmark made specifically for me was just perfect! (Click on the pic to enlarge and you'll see what I mean)

It's been a lovely Christmas - lazy and easy-going. Presents were wonderful - knitting books, yarn, Kindle cover, Moomin postcard, chocolate liqueurs, Lush bath stuff, sword.. sword? Yes, my Beloved has been suggesting 'sword' as a present for everybody we know for the last umpteen years (he's not much help when it comes to suggesting things) and at last he's put his money where his mouth is:

Letter-opener!

I actually lol'd when I opened it. Isn't it cool? My Beloved (who knows about such things) reckons it's pretty good. Very swordy. I've been reading quite a bit of Terry Pratchett recently and reckon this is pretty much Feegle-sized. Nifty! The kids love it - every time something needs opened Miss Mouse yells 'Mama! We need your sword!'

Over the last few days I've been wondering how much sellotape can be safely consumed while tearing it off with one's teeth when wrapping presents. Just an idle thought, you understand. *cough* 'scuse me, furball..

A new culinary experience for me this Christmas were Cadbury Magical Elves, from Miss Mouse's selection box. Chocolate with popping candy (i.e. Spacedust for those who remember such things) in it! Weird, very weird. Too weird for Miss Mouse which is why I was trying it.

Aside from sellotape and Magical Elves, we've only been moderately indulgent on the culinary front - we never go over the top really. We had roast chicken on Christmas Day with things we like but not going overboard with 'all the trimmings'. Thanks to my Beloved shopping at Lidl we had Wildpreiselbeeren (lingonberry sauce) for the first time and we love it! A jar of cranberry sauce was on the table too but was largely ignored. The kids had homemade pizza, because they're not that bothered about roasts.

We haven't had any mince pies because I didn't buy any and couldn't be bothered to make any. We still have last year's Morrison's Christmas Pudding in the cupboard (use by April 2012 - maybe the whim'll take us by then). I quite like Christmas pudding but only in such minute quantities that it's not really worth bothering. It's so flamin' dense!

I started writing this post this morning but constant interruptions have derailed my train of thought. I think perhaps it's time I went to bed!


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

In which there is peace and quiet

The kids are out at soft-play with their grandma, my Beloved has a bit of a cold and has gone back to bed, one cat is asleep (looking like a tortoiseshell-and-white cushion), the other is gazing out of the window at the horizontal rain, and I'm peaceably blogging. The weather has been wet and windy and for the last few days we've been more or less stuck inside so it's nice to effectively have the house to myself for a little while. Lovely and cosy though it's been, peace and quiet has been in shortish supply, although thankfully there were no Annoying Toys That Make Noises this year - we seem to be past that stage!

So here's what I've been up to!

My elderberry/onion-skin dye from just before Christmas turned out like this:

Photo taken on Christmas Day - there's dedication to natural dyeing for you!

I'm very pleased with the colour, a very subtle reddish-brown. I don't know if the elderberry (if that's what it was - may have been blackberry come to think of it) made much difference but it was certainly worth chucking it in, rather than out if you see what I mean!

The run-up to the festive season was all about secretive knitting - first a forum Secret Santa present for my friend CJ:

They're based on the Susie's Reading Mitts pattern that I like so much, with a few tweaks. The wool is St. Magnus DK by Orkney Angora, which is like cuddling a kitten! I made the cuff with a split in it and added a wrap around tab in a contrast colour (done on smaller needles for finer stitches) with a button - non-functional, it's just sewn on because I thought a button on a cuff would never stay done up! The buttons are by Susan Sharpe of Susan Sharpe Ceramics and just couldn't be more right for this project! Aren't they gorgeous? I bought a set of three and kept the third for myself - I have a plan for another hat-with-a-button. We had a sort of unofficial aiming-for-handmade theme to our Secret Santa swap this year, so, quite apart from the fact that they're just lovely buttons, it was nice to get them from a small-scale seller rather than an anonymous haberdashery department.

CJ is very creative and artistic so it was fun trying to create something special for her - she seems to like it anyway!

And there's the traditional Ooops-didn't-quite-finish-in-time-for-Christmas project - this year it was fingerless mitts for my brother:

The pattern is Coler by Stephen West and the first one knitted up so quickly that I was sure I'd get them finished way before Christmas. But I didn't count on December! It's not a difficult pattern by any means but the cable section does require a degree of concentration and decent light that I just didn't get enough of in December. So I wrapped up the finished one along with that picture of the second one and I'll finish them off this week - at least with gloves/mitts/socks there is the option of at least giving the completed one!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

All wrapped up

And time to relax..



Though I doubt there's human anywhere who can relax quite as thoroughly as a cat!

Enjoy the festivities everyone!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Baa and Moo

Happiness is the smell of wet sheep.

Today was more restful - all the important stuff is done so the kids and I went to the museum and said hello to the young bull:

I've forgotten his name but he was very friendly.

And this afternoon I did a bit of dyeing with some leftover dye liquor (possibly elderberry?) I had in the freezer and a mixture of onion skins, mostly red. It's the first time I've done any dyeing in ages and the smell of wet wool was pleasantly familiar. A comforting smell, I always think. I'm leaving it to soak overnight this time - no idea what colour it'll turn out though it's a rich reddish-brown at the moment.

This evening I have been wrapping presents - imagine my eyes crossing with tiredness. I'm not done with the wrapping yet but at least I've broken the back of it and tomorrow night shouldn't be quite so chaotic. Yeah.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

1. I like making pomanders. Okay, I get masses of indentations on my fingers, but it's worth it for the smell. Mmmmmm.. I also like my new table-cloth!

2. I was in Argos at quarter to ten this evening and Sainsbury just after that, but I'm done now! Apart from things like veg which My Beloved will get tomorrow. Bliss bliss bliss.

3. There's nothing quite like the smug glow you get from going to a Zumba class on the 22nd of December!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Too busy to be cheerful

That's a glum title isn't it? It's not meant to be - it's just that I've only just realised that I missed Reasons To Be Cheerful last week - not that I wasn't necessarily cheerful, just that I was too busy to notice. It's all been a bit of a frenzy..

But.. school finished today, we're mostly organised for the festivities and my cat looks like Yoda:


It was the school nativity play this morning but, frustratingly, I did not get a single decent picture of Miss Mouse being an angel. She made a very cute angel though!

In the spirit of last-minute panic I finished the final owl-for-the-teacher last night:

Some new squares of felt arrived in the post this morning so I'll make a couple more owls I think, but without deadlines and just for the fun of it. In the meantime I'm off to watch a Next Gen episode - make it so!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Deep and crisp and even

It's the annual tradition of digging out all the cookery books and trying to remember how to do royal icing - my books vary hugely in the quantities they think are required. I think I've got it right this year - enough coverage but not too deep (getting crisp but not quite even). I've discovered that the new 'natural' food colourings are not nearly as strong as the old-style best-not-ask food colourings. I usually add a drop or two of blue colouring to the icing to stop it looking yellow. Once I accidentally added a little too much and had a turquoise cake. This year I kept having to add more and more. I'm pleased with the result though.

It looks almost identical to last year's of course as I only have the two retro style cake decorations!

Maybe I'll tie a ribbon round it too.

Further to yesterday's marzipan musings, on checking the top shelf of the cupboard today I found a spare packet of marzipan from last year - clearly this has happened before.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Tinselly


I'm cheating - it's Tuesday morning. I was too dozy to blog last night. I switched off the 'puter, then I remembered I hadn't actually written this - which had been the point of switching it on in the first place! Easily distracted, see..

It was that kind of day. At twenty to five I'd suddenly remembered that Miss Mouse was supposed to be at her dance class Christmas party at five. Cue mad panic! We made it on time though and she enjoyed herself - in the picture above are the decorations at the venue, a masonic hall of all places!

Despite the inherent chaos of the week, things are reasonably well under control (or so I keep telling myself while madly writing Christmas cards and to-do lists) and starting to feel a bit sparkly. I put the marzipan on the Christmas cake last night, which is always fun! Like playing with play-dough only the smell is better. I'd bought two packets of marzipan but actually as I prefer a fairly thin layer of marzipan on my cake I only used one, so I'm wondering what I can do with the other packet. I don't think a last minute stollen is feasible!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Potential disaster


On the left, vegetable oil; on the right, lime juice cordial. I like a glass of soda-water and lime now and then. I can see that at some point something is going to go wrong. Emulsively wrong.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Christmas Carol

I'm reading A Christmas Carol at the moment - I've never actually read it before, though obviously was fairly familiar with the gist of the story, and I'm encountering a problem. Quite a nice problem actually - I'm not complaining!

From the very first line I've got the Muppets elbowing in. I love The Muppet Christmas Carol. It's one of the great Muppet films (second only to the sublime Muppet Treasure Island - sorry Mr Depp but this is the definitive pirate film) and I love it to bits, so I can't read 'Marley was dead to begin with' without thinking 'the Marleys were dead to begin with'.

I'm tickled to see that the rather po-faced Wikipedia page for The Muppet Christmas Carol has this to say about the Marleys - 'One notable difference from the original story is the addition of Jacob Marley's brother, Robert, who was not present in Dickens' story, to allow the use of both Statler and Wardorf. It is suggested this name was chosen as an oblique reference to musician Bob Marley'. Just let me roll my eyes there - it's not an oblique reference, it's a joke! Muppet films are littered with jokes! It's what makes them funny!

Anyway, I'm enjoying the original. It's funnier than I expected, the only Dickens I'd read before being Great Expectations (which was okay but not really my cup of tea). I like it! Though the Muppet film follows it quite closely so I'm not really getting the feeling of reading anything new!

Enough of that - we finally got our Christmas tree up today! It was weird opening the box containing our artificial tree - I vividly remember packing it away last year.

Fortunately I'd had the foresight to re-label the colour-coded branches (different sizes for different layers) and change the 'apple-green' which was barely distinguishable from the 'yellow' branches and caused a lot of confusion last year. Boring, but I'm glad I did it - it saved a lot of time this year. And made me feel like an organised person! The boy-cat managed to knock the tree over before we even got the decorations on it but hasn't actually climbed it yet. Yet. It'll happen - he doesn't know that he's too big to climb Christmas trees.

Anyway here it is, in its fuzzy glory:

The stripey tail at the top left is the giant toy tiger that lives on top of our bookcase. It's adds a Calvin-and-Hobbesian element to our lives.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Fa-la-la-la

You'll have gathered, I suppose, from the brevity of my last post that Thursday is a busy day for me. Yesterday was even more hectic than usual because there was a school disco in the evening. The school carpark was pretty icy when we left (before the end - Miss Mouse was up past her bedtime and had hit the Wall, metaphorically speaking) but it had started raining so I thought it was getting warmer. So I was bit surprised when I opened the curtains this morning to see the White Stuff again!


That would be my Optimistic Hollyhock


As the rest of the family appear to be asleep I shall enjoy this moment of solitude and witter on for a bit. The other day I was singing while driving (my best time to sing) and found that I was singing 'O Come All Ye Faithful' and I still knew a whole chunk of it despite not having been to a carol service since leaving school. I was three verses in before I had a blank - amazing the stuff that sticks. And I got to thinking about Christmas carols - I do like a good carol. They don't mean anything to me in a religious sense, I'm an atheist, but I do like to sing and they're crackin' tunes (well, some of them are). And then there's the emotional connotations of memories of childhood, singing carols at school, the build-up to the Christmas holidays, the barely suppressed excitement and so on. They're all mixed in with that.

I'd never have said as a child that 'O Come All Ye Faithful' was a cheery song, but now it's one of my favourites, perhaps because it's combined in my mind with really glorious Renaissance art - 'sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation' and in my head it's the inside of the dome of Florence Cathedral, mixed up with the puffy-eyed, sturdy angels of the northern Renaissance and their brightly-coloured wings, with a heft dose of Giotto thrown in for good measure.

A very weird Christmas carol is We Three Kings - it seems to start out quite jaunty (perhaps with the alternative childish lyrics running through my head - '..one in a taxi, one in a car/One on a scooter pipping his hooter..'), but as it goes on it just gets more and more plodding and grim and depressing until you get to 'Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying', you can't help but feel that perhaps the myrrh wasn't the best idea, and even 'Star of wonder, star of night' can't get it going again. It's plodding out there with the Little Donkey for company, on the dusty road...

The Holly and the Ivy is a great one - bucketloads of pagan symbolism, lots of colour, mad rhymes, cheery tune. Can't go wrong with that!

The First Nowell's another good one. I've never really understood 'on a cold winter's night that was so deep' though - deep? It does hint at primary school poetry - 'Quick! We need something that rhymes with sheep! Deep! That'll do!' And that for me is part of its charm.

And of course While Shepherds Washed Their Socks.. we sang that so often at school that I struggle to remember the real words - it's such a vivid image! It's another one I imagine in a Renaissance style - shepherds on the hillside;
a wooden tub, half-barrel most likely; blazing stars in the sky; couple of rainbow-winged angels hovering with a washboard between them; and some rather elegant hand-knitted socks. And the sheep have wandered off. Sheep do that.

One we sang at school a few times was called something like 'Now Light One Thousand Christmas Lights' which as far as I can work out from five minutes googling is originally a Swedish song (the title seems to vary according to the translation). It was quite a nice tune and made a change from the very familar 'Away in a Manger' and the like, which is why it stuck in my head I suppose.

Enough wittering - wanna see a flock of owls? Well, three, in a tree:


This was taken yesterday. Today the tree is all frosty. The red and burgundy one is for one of Miss Mouse's teachers (she has two), the red and yellow one is for the Boy's teacher and the blue and brown one is for us. I'm halfway through the one for Miss Mouse's other teacher. It's all very soothing. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy handsewing, especially with felt as there's no hemming or Fear of Fraying.

Oh dear, I just yawned, hit a key at random and thought I'd lost this post. And the cat has reached his chewing the cables time of evening (it's a hint to feed him) so I'd better stop there!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Zesty

Mmmmmmmmmmm, nice citrussy smells. I've been drying orange, lemon and lime slices today. Among other things.

I've also done a lot of washing-up, finished another owl and made a hot-water bottle cover for the Boy out of his old fleece dressing-gown. The photographs I took of the hot-water bottle cover came out a bit rubbish so I'll take few more tomorrow and show them off in tomorrow's post because I am inordinately proud of how well it turned out! The Boy likes it and Miss Mouse has already complained that I didn't do one for her too, but the Boy was making do with a pillowcase for a hot-water bottle cover while Miss Mouse has a perfectly good knitted cover made by my mum years ago - probably when I was a student actually.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the dried citrus slices - I saw a picture somewhere of a kind of wreath made out of dried orange slices but I don't think I have enough. Perhaps with large beads for spacers. I have some from my old beaded car-seat cover, though I'd need to paint them. Hmm. Or maybe I could make paper beads..

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Return of the garter-stitch square

Back to the 'comfort knitting'..

Today was vile weatherwise - peaking in horribleness just at school picking-up time of course! I've probably got red marks all over my face from the hail pinging off it at warp speed (it's quite breezy again) . The children were not vastly enthusiastic about being out in it either. The curious thing is that from the house the weather seems worse than last Thursday when it was a red weather warning. Today was yellow upgrading to amber - such lovely warm sunny colours they use! How much more depressing would it be if they chose 'mottled mauve' like the colour of my hands in this weather? So yeah, it sounds a whole lot worse from the house - probably the wind is coming from a different direction, more to the south perhaps. I wonder how many roof tiles we'll have to replace - they appear to be stuck on with blutak or something similarly not-all-that-sticky.

Tonight was knitting coven night and although I fully intended to go my train was cancelled due to a train fault (whatever that is - not weather-related presumably) and the alternative was driving which I didn't fancy in this weather. So I stayed at home and went on with the project I'd intended to work on if I'd been out - nice easy garter stitch squares, perfect for when I'm tired and really need to clean my contact lenses! I really should see how many squares I've made so far but they're kinda scattered around the house.

I did a whole lot of Christmas shopping this morning so tomorrow I'm intending to be doing stuff in the house, maybe I'll even wrap some presents and write some cards. That would be very organised of me!


Ooops, just edited out a typo in my title - 'grater-stitch' indeed :-D.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Braiding from the past

Once upon a time, a long time ago, when we did Viking and Mediaeval period historical re-enactment, I learned how to do various types of braiding, mostly from a really helpful website. Time passed, I had babies and gave up re-enactment, and forgot about the useful website.

Then one day recently I needed a bit of braid for an owl hanging-loop and couldn't remember how to do the one I wanted. So I went looking and found a more modern incarnation of Phiala's String Page, and the bit I remembered best, the braiding instructions!

The braid I wanted was finger-loop braiding which I got quite quick at back then. Not quite the case now. It took a while to get back into shuffling the loops down my fingers and I felt as if I had about 20 fingers, but it's amazing how things do come back to you. Muscle memory I suppose. The one in the picture is a bit uneven but that comes with practice as I recall. Actually it should have been done with five loops but I measured the wool wrongly so I just did four loops. You can do more loops though - quite a few more with additional hands!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

a mixture

I spent the morning at the Museum of Rural Life's Christmas event with the kids and my mother-in-law. The Christmas event is always one of my favourites but unfortunately as the kids had swimming classes to get to after lunch we didn't have as much time as usual so didn't get up to the farm. They usually have pomander-making going on in the farmhouse and the fire lit - it's the only time of the year that it's lit and that makes it all the more special! Must make time next year.

We did get to the craft fair, which was varied as usual. My mother-in-law bought me some more of the pear and ginger jam I like so much and we got some bags of tablet. I've been meaning to try making tablet myself, never having done it before, but just haven't got round to it. I don't like sweeties, but I do like tablet, even though it's really really really sweet. You just can't have very much of it at once!

I also got a snowball candle for my friend, the kids made Christmas cards in the craft room, and Miss Mouse and I made made 'mulled wine teabags' at one of the museum's craft-demonstration-type stalls. I don't really like mulled wine (or actually wine at all), but having chosen the proprtions of the spices myself and limited the cinnamon, I'll have to give it another go.

Tired now - hot water bottle, book (currently The Graveyard Book) and bed beckon.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

lighting up

Thaw again, but the outside Christmas lights go up so we're getting more festive. Our lights are only boring white and are a bit restrained compared with some in our street - the kids would love it if they were a bit more colourful. But they're quite pretty.

This morning I went into Glasgow to get a couple of things and while I was on the train I thought about things I was going to blog about. And now I can't remember what they were. I should write these things down. There was definitely something about wool...

Friday, 9 December 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

What I was going to say for my first Reason was that, looking on the bright side, at least Hurricane Bawbag got rid of the last of the snow. And then this happened:


This week has been All About The Weather. But it is December after all.

So reasons reasons reasons..

1) Pottering around and crafting - sewing owls, doing a bit of knitting and making stuff with paper. This has been taking my mind off the stress of shopping centres in December. There's nothing quite like a panic attack in Primark is there?

2) The positive side of shopping centres in December is meeting up with my friend L for coffee and chocolate and orange tart (*drool*) and a mooch around the shops.

3) Sleep. I love sleep. I don't get nearly enough of it. I love my bed. I love cold nights with snow falling outside, a book and a hot-water-bottle. I love falling asleep with a cat curled up next to my feet. The cats used to be barred from our room - we even put a lock on the door because they could shove it open, but now that they've stopped pouncing on feet at random times in the night and just curl up purring we've decided to let them in if they want. They seem happier.
I came home from the dreaded shopping centre today with much-needed new pyjamas and some brushed cotton trousers which are described as 'loungewear'. So pyjama bottoms for people who don't usually wear pjs. They're a sort of pastel tartan and not deeply flattering for those of us blessed with curves, but so warm and comfortable. Yay for winter!


Thursday, 8 December 2011

owl

It was an unexpected day with the kids as the schools were all closed due to high winds/scarey weather forecasts. So, going a bit stir crazy again....

On the other hand, I finally had the chance to finish the owl, make a Bambi casserole and start another owl (very nearly finished it too - much quicker this time round).

Folowing on, from a conversation with my brother yesterday - how do you spell the thing owls are supposed to say but actually don't? Tu-whit tu-whoo? The more you think about the more your mind goes blank (cue spooky music). Or perhaps that's just me and my brother.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

*shiver*

Ever notice how much colder it can feel once a thaw starts? Wind-chill I suppose.

I'm beginning to struggle with this Advent Blogging lark - too tired tonight I suppose. I helped the kids write their Christmas cards for school tonight - 49 cards between the two of them and Miss Mouse insisted on writing all of hers herself. I would have at least done the envelopes for her if she'd wanted. But she didn't. At the beginning of it she didn't know how to write 'from' - she's fairly confident about it now!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

A Christmas musing


I've been thinking today (inspired partly by Mooncalf Makes' blog post on a similar topic) about the pressure we put ourselves under in the run-up to Christmas. It does seem a bit bizarre. A few years ago I bought a magazine with the usual 'how to survive christmas - eight million simple tips for your best Christmas ever!!!!' article. It included instructions on how to decorate the back of your dining-chairs with a 'simple but chic' (no doubt) arrangement of something like white ribbons and mistletoe. I was impressed that in half a page they'd managed to create a wholly new way to make people feel inadequate at Christmas.

I don't do chic at Christmas - or at any other time really. Christmas is chaotic and colourful and I do not decorate my chairs, at Christmas or ever. I can just imagine the reactions of the kids and the cats! There are times when I would love simple classy white lights and decorations of course - serene and tranquil. But even pre-kids that never happened...

Monday, 5 December 2011

somebody designs boot tread patterns


That was today's odd thought. Somebody has to sit down and design the tread of boots and shoes. And tyres I suppose, though I imagine that has slightly less to do with interesting patterns and bit more to do with function.

Imagine them meeting the Queen - 'And what do you do?' 'I design boot tread patterns Ma'am' 'That must be very interesting' (actually this may be King Thistle).

Someone designs the patterns on upholstery for trains and buses (coaches) too. And curtains-round-beds in hospitals (this was a thing that struck me when I was drugged up to the eyeballs* and floating round the ceiling after giving birth to Miss Mouse). Well, whoever they are, I praise them, bringing abstract patterns and odd colour combinations to the world.

Right, so, today. Yeah, more of the white stuff.

the 'school run'

The cats didn't know whether to go in or out, so settled for both, at frequent intervals of course. I did this and that (mostly opening and shutting doors for the cats, come to think of it), and had a go at sewing. Just hand-sewing - I still haven't figured out the accursed sewing machine yet. Wanna see? I had a ridiculous amount of fun playing with the the possibilities for the eyes:

'paranoid'


'exasperated'

But I'll just do eyes-forward for this one I think. I'm looking forward to the embroidery bit. I don't think it'll turn out as good as the ones in the book or the ones Andamento made but so far it's easier than I expected. Quite absorbing. I do need good light though. Ooh, just realised it's Monday (d'oh, need more sleep) so this is a Making Monday post!

* only co-codamol actually but it made me reeeeally spaaaced ooout.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

the white stuff

Dyer's chamomile in the snow

If there's something I really like, it's watching snow fall. It's fascinating - the layers of depth you see, some falling faster than others, some at different angles, odd little flurries swirling up and down again. Today we had snow showers, enough for a scattering of white, just a thin layer, but enough to change the quality of the light. And then there was the weird flat sky you get just before a snow shower - not obvious cloud, just grey blankness. It intrigues me. It's woolly hat and scarf weather! Hurray! (A Pollyanna moment :-D)

There has been much secret knitting today - the kids have their swimming classes on a Sunday afternoon so I usually take some knitting to be getting on with while they're splashing around. The cafe by the pool has good lighting so today I was taking advantage of that to do some fiddly sewing-up.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Therapeutic


Now I'm not a papercrafts person really, but I do enjoy a bit of cutting-out and the like at Christmas. The kids and I had a whale of a time making paper chains last year, and they've already started looking through our various kids-art-and-craft books for ideas for this year. But for me it's all about little birdies this year! The original design (from Christmas Crafting in No Time by Claire Youngs - a grown-up art-and-craft book) has quilled wings but one of the lovely things about that book is that it prompts so many ideas. Andamento has already adapted the quilled-wing birdies design to give them concertina-folded wings. I'm going to try that and the original quilled wings too, but for the moment painting patterns on with white paint has been my little pleasure. A lot of the ideas for the patterns came from other projects in the book actually. Happiness is a fine paintbrush and some white paint!

I'm not sure what I'll do with the birds - maybe string them on a ribbon so they can be strung up like the paper chains. Or I could just dot them round the place, perching on picture frames and so on. I'd love to hang them on the Christmas tree but they'd get chewed to bits by our Christmas-tree-climbing cat. He's really far too big to climb Christmas trees but he had a good go at it last year and I don't expect him to have outgrown the notion this year.

It seems weird not talking about knitting more, but it's still all secret stuff! Do any other Ravelers mentally sing 'Ravelreeee, Ravelry' like 'Valerie (the Steve Winwood song from the early Iron Age, i.e. when I were lass)? Just me? Ah well..

Friday, 2 December 2011

Jinxed

Noooo, I shouldn't have mentioned the cavity-wall insulation! Bad idea! Things did not work out. That, coupled with my Beloved falling off his motorbike (due to invisible ice) and me falling on my backside trying to see if he was okay (also invisible ice, and he was fine), meant that it wasn't a great morning. So I cut out lots of little red birds to calm myself down. Cutting-out's very soothing.

I'm trying Advent Blogging - a post a day 'til Christmas. Some of them will no doubt be very short, some of them might only be a picture, but ah, it'll be a bit of a laugh. After all, there are such gems as the school nativity coming up...

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful-ish

Yay! It's the 1st of December! (Yes, you knew that).


And it's week 7 of Planet Penny's Reasons To Be Cheerful! I don't think I've done seven weeks of it yet though - have I? I think I missed the first week.

The wind has dropped a bit and it's not actually raining - at the moment anyway. It was sleeting as I dropped the kids off at school (bitterly regretted forgetting my woolly hat). And I've just gone round the house and changed my many calenders over to their new pictures! I love turning to a new calendar page. So that's my first reason to be cheerful. Do you like our Santa Claus in that picture? Miss Mouse made it yesterday - the schools were closed due to the strike, and we were stuck inside due to colds and grim weather, so apart from bickering, telly and the Wii there was a little making going on. I like his curly beard!

Reason number two is a much delayed ta-daa! Finally, finally, the item fondly known as Bogroll Barbie (though she's not a Barbie, she's a cheap pound-shop 'fashion doll' equivalent) is FINISHED! Hurrah, huzzah, rejoicing in the streets!

I painted the base yesterday, and there she is in all her glory, on her little pedestal! Loo-roll dolls are just the most bonkers creation aren't they? I sometimes wonder who first thought 'You know, that toilet roll really needs a crinoline!'

I like this picture a lot - it's pleasingly strange..

Reason three - well, I don't want to jinx it, but we should, fingers crossed, touch wood, being cautiously optimistic here, be getting our cavity wall insulation done tomorrow. I'm being very cautious about this because we've had people out three times to do this, but this time.. well, let's hope. In any case, we're reasonably well-prepared for winter:

This time last year we were up to our oxters in snow - well, slight exaggeration but looking back at my 365 blog, this is how things were on the 1st of December 2010. Chilly. I'm working on my mum's premise which is that if we're well-prepared for winter it won't be such a bad one!

You know what? We forgot the advent calenders this morning! Something to look forward to once the kids are home from school :-D.

Monday, 28 November 2011

a little Making Monday

Can you tell what is yet?


This is something I've been meaning to get back to for a while. Can you guess? Well, actually it's a base/stand for a loo-roll doll:

As you can see from this In Progress picture her legs are too long, so I've made the base with a hole in it to sort out the disparity in height. So far so good, but I started this project two years ago for my friend's daughter! The dress itself was a doddle (and really really good fun!) to make but the base has been a bit of a nightmare. I tried various things but ended up using layers of cardboard stuck together, which was okay, but putting papier-mâché on it to smoothe out the surface has not come naturally!

So anyway, today I finally went into a paper-and-glue frenzy and got it done. It's still drying but with any luck I'll be able to paint it tomorrow (pink naturally) and be finally done! Yay! Fortunately my friend's daughter still thinks such things are cool...

It's so great to able to write about something I'm making, however pathetic it is!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

More Reasons To Be Cheerful

Reasons To Be Cheerful are all I ever post at the moment - though that's not a bad thing of course!

I'm doing a lot of bloggy catching-up this morning, which is lovely. I seem to have missed a lot though! It's been a hectic week - my Beloved had a stinking cold and was off work for a couple of days, then he passed it on to me (so generous!) and the kids have had a busy week. But despite the snifflings and snufflings, I have Reasons!

Reason 1 - Miss Mouse had her very first dance exams this week. Due to a mix-up in the paperwork she actually did four when she was supposed to do three - she ended up doing Disco as well as Tap, Majorettes and Cheerleading - but did very well! Shh, I'm not telling her yet, so it's a surprise when she goes to her class this week, but she's passed them all. Actually I get the impression that with the little ones you'd probably have to have two left feet and hit the examiner over the head with a baton to fail, but nevertheless I'm very proud of her. Not least because it's so very far outwith my experience! Anyway, here she is as she was about to go in to the cheerleading exam:
A blur of pompoms

2) The Boy's tooth fell out! It hung in there until Tuesday lunchtime though, persistent thing that it was. It got to the rather gross state of being able to spin back to front and he was getting thoroughly fed-up with it but persistence on his part paid off. And very fortunately their school photos weren't taken until Wednesday morning. No picture of the momentous dental occasion as at the moment I only have one very blurry gap-toothed picture taken under electric light - it's so murky when they head off to school and much the same when they come home that photography in decent light is impossible during the week. And they're off at their Grandma's so I can't take one now - shame as it's a bright morning. We've had a wet week and three days of strong winds so the sunshine today is wonderful. The cats are outside making up for lost time! They were most offended by the weather and there was a bit of regression to climbing the curtains.

3) Tomato - there is an actual tomato on the Boy's tomato plant:

I think I may have mentioned it a few weeks ago, when it was still green, but look at it now! I never did get round to repotting the plant, but it doesn't seem to mind too much.


Secret knitting is progressing nicely, Christmas shopping is progressing (but I wouldn't say nicely), and I'm going to 'feed' the Christmas cake. I might even do some mordanting this morning..

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Reason 1. Wheeeeeeee - it's my trashy-telly-time-of-the-year! It's I'm A Celebrity..Get Me Out Of Here time! There's no defending it - I just love it. I love the the way Dec says 'may cost considerably more', I love z-list celebs I haven't heard of eating bugs, I love the inventive ridiculousness of the trials and celebrity chests. Add Stuart Hall wetting himself laughing and it'd be It's A Knockout all over again. I love to wonder whether I could do better than the celebs at the trials - in the case of Sinitta's one yesterday, almost certainly!

Reason 2. That incredible feeling of freedom you get when you get called for jury service but they don't need you after all! I thought I'd be spending much of this week at the High Court in Glasgow, but instead I've been doing things like Christmas shopping and going out for lunch with a friend.

Reason 3. The Boy has the wibbliest wobbliest wobbly front tooth ever. It should fall out tonight or tomorrow. The school photos are being done at the start of the week - will my boy have the most engaging gappy-toothed smile for his school photo? Will he? Will he?

Has anybody else got the same problem as me with blogging in November and December? Which is that I'm making things which I desperately want to witter on about, but they're Christmas presents so I can't blog about them in case the recipients reads my blog. Oh the frustration! I'll have to have a ta-daa binge on Boxing Day!

And just to finish, a picture which makes me smile and which I should have had for my last Reasons To Be Cheerful post:

Tap-shoes and scabby knee!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

They're very small and domestic reasons to be cheerful this week!

1. My Peerie Flooers hat is progressing nicely. I've done virtually no knitting for the last week or so for one reason or another, so it's nice to get back to it.


2. Miss Mouse is enjoying her dance classes and it makes both laugh and smile to see her practising in the middle of the living-room. I never thought I'd have a child who does tap, majorettes and cheerleading! I was going to take a picture of her brand-new tap shoes to illustrate my point (she's so excited about them, she took them to school to show her teacher!) but it's too dark now.

3. Weird low winter light makes me smile. I took this picture yesterday when there was no direct sunlight in the garden but indirect sunlight (bouncing off the house) was lighting up what's left of the nasturtiums.

Looking at other blogs today and seeing various beautiful poppy pictures for Armistice Day, it occurred to me that I was sure I'd planted poppy seeds this year, but none came up. Odd. I'd thought they were supposed to be fairly straight-forward to grow. Maybe next year!

Align Left
Poppies at Kittochside, June 2011.