Thursday, 25 August 2011

Have yourself a very squeaky Christmas!

I am unapologetic, Christmas is on it's way and I, for one, am jumping up and down.  Skipping and a' twirling because I lurves it so.  No, I am not wishing the time away, nor have any desire for songs or decorations yet.  Simply, for me, the build up, the anticipation of Christmas is as important as the day itself.
Autumn is starting to poke it's head out and I've spotted his forehead and that it all it takes.  My body is reacting.  I am thinking about socks, warm stews and crunchy golden leaves.  I am thinking that not so far in the future winter is coming and it makes me happy.  Happy because it means jingly jangly bells and fairy lights, gingerbread and cinnamon.  Let's not be ashamed to mention Christmas like it's a swear word!  We are about to enter the 'bers' and that folks ends in "the most wonderful time of the year"!
Also Christmas needs a bit of planning.  If, like me, you enjoy a good session of list writing, Christmas calls for that in abundance.  If, like me, crafting is a fundamental part of your Christmas, then really it's best to get ahead and not risk spending any part of December in a panic sewing, knitting or making (not this year, I swear!).  I confess I am not a lover of shopping *bows on knees to the internet* and my idea of hell is a shopping centre but will do if for small necessary things.  I don't want to be doing it for main presents.  I also don't really want to do it at any other point in the year.  I sometimes buy cards and wrapping paper in the new year sales but I never look at anything else, not until the days shorten.  If I have to shop then I want endless rounds of Wizard and puddles on all the shop floors.  I want the atmosphere, though not necessarily the crowds, and I want to feel Christmassy.  
So this week I have started ordering craft supplies and yesterday I made my first present.  I was itching to make this.  Do you get that way??  You see something, are inspired by something and you are restless until you give it a go? 

Isn't she cute?  

Watching the rain.

I saw her in this book by Tone Finnanger who designs the Tilda range of fabric etc.

I do love Tilda fabric although, like most designer fabric, it's quite expensive so I tend to buy charm packs and the like so I can get a wide range of patterns without breaking the bank.  I've had this book for a while but never really felt at all inclined to make anything from it until now.  

The mice 'spoke' to me, as it were, their squeaky wee voices niggling me so off I went to my fabric stash.  It was very easy to make but still took me all day.  Forever up and down to the ironing board all all that stuff.  Pushing the fabric the right way out was a bit fiddly and I changed the face by embroidering the eyes, nose and whiskers.  I couldnae be bothered faffing about with paint and ironing on the nose. I didn't make it Christmassy either.  I went for pinks and other Tilda fabrics.  Even though it took me hours and hours I am very pleased with myself.  I don't tend to make sewn things like this and my confidence has been boosted no end with a successful time in front of my machine.
One down and many more to go!  I'm off to carry on with another...

Can you tell how driech it was when I took this?  The sun has come out to play as I type but is anyone else freezing?  Autumn is coming but it's still a shock to consider putting the heating on in August!

Take care lovely peeps!


Thursday, 18 August 2011

A richt ol' blether! you all and thank you to those of you who left a comment on my last post.  It is a common query as to posting about such sad things but life is sad at times so thank you for your kind words.

Our new - above - phone arrived today.  I knew I could have probably found a 'real' one of these but time was short and I am lazy shopper so characteristically hopped over to Amazon.  Our old one's internal battery had died again and it seemed a waste of money always replacing them (rechargeables are expensive!!).  It was under thirty squids so I'm not complaining..  I like it and yet, I will still ignore it ringing, it's quite gorgeous ringing, most of the time.  Don't want to hear voice recordings and have people 'fishing' about possible PPI's.

I am still hexed and planned a long loving post waxing lyrical about the joys of hand sewing but I thought I'd show you how I am getting on...

It really is a labour of love because it hurts, a lot!  Not my sewing hand but the other pressing two hex's together.  I'm about a third of the way there, it's only - did I say only? - for the bottom half of a king size bed and am very VERY addicted.  I can be found wandering around the house, hex's and needle in hand.  I am going to want to make another I can tell.  Also I am finding the irony in shouting at my cats to "keep off" when I have throws on our bed for them to sleep on.  It's easier to deal with hair and any mess on a throw than on a whole duvet.  Do you like it so far?

We have also been making jam, emergency jam. 

So called because at a recent sleepover at their grandparent's house we got a phone call from Youngest Biscuit saying "We picked too many strawberries by accident, do you want some?"  "eh....okay".  In fact they went for 4lbs and ended up with twelve.  We gratefully received four of them and got to work. Youngest Biscuit devours jam and was thrilled to make some. Can I mention again the joy of a huge wooden spoon in a huge, in this case 'jeely', pan.  Oh and it tastes wonderful.  Today it will be lavishly spread on a Victoria Sponge.  I need cake.  Part celebration/relief and part comfort food.  My period finally arrived today, a week late, and although I doubted a vasectomy reversal I wasn't finding Mr Biscuits round tummy jokes funny.  The VS will taste all the sweeter today.

I'm in a right blethering mood today, shame I've no friends to chat with!!  Also world war three is happening again next door.  They're loopy mental, always arguing, but luckily one or the other storms out so there's usually a ceasefire. Tis all quiet at the mo.  Cannae be doing with all that negative energy when I'm in a mischievious mood.

I shall leave you with my take on a harassed Woody running from the paps. 

I cannot resist taking photo of Youngest Biscuit looking cross in his Woody outfit, it makes me laugh so so much.  He, on the other hand, does not like it!!  Not one bit.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

...unexpected grief.

All at once you are looking for your favourite recipe for cream of mushroom soup in a book that you cannot remember not being there and then, suddenly the wave of grief hits. 
This books once belonged to your Dad, it's 80's images conjuring up memories of old houses and innocent days.
My stomach suddenly turned, my eyes suddenly filled and all I wanted was to close the pages and turn off the pain.  Run away and forget.
Grief never fully leaves you.  You smile through your days and suddenly sadness comes and it hurts.
September hurts.
September 18th kills me. 
Fourteen years ago I watched my Dad die of a heart attack.  Literally in front of me, noisy ambulances, defibrillators and speeding hospital beds in the A&E with doctors sitting on my Dad trying to bring his body back to life.  It didn't work.  Being sent to the room I knew was the 'death' room and it was the room where they came and declared the obvious.
I try not to dwell, try not to feel the awful heart wrenching pain of him dying, of never knowing my boys and then in my kitchen it hits me so hard I could fall over and roll into a ball and weep.  Never wanting to feel anything but this pain that brings him back to me.

Life goes on.  You bake bread to go with the soup that made you think of him and try not to think too much.

My Dad...................

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

It's probably pathetic but.....

on a rainy day, when requested to play this with my Biscuits...

 winning tastes very sweet indeed.   Wiped the floor with them I did!!  I even impressed them which is a huge deal in itself.  *dances around*  I get my thrills where I can!!

Less than a week now till school goes back, necessary purchases made (well except for gym rubbers for Eldest Biscuit who has gone up a size and a half in the last six weeks!), questions of how on earth they will be able to be up at seven am, etc. Equally looking forward to and dreading the quiet.  
Tis the same every year.


Monday, 1 August 2011

The 52 Marvellous Makes Madness Challenge - Weeks 45 - 51!

Tis done and dusted.  Finis, the end.  A whole year of weekly makes....almost.
 I must warn you this is a long one.  There was one very good reason why each of my school report card said 'talks too much'.  I do.
You will have noticed there is no week 52, I've saved it for it's own post.

Week 45
lemon poppy seed cake

It's one of our favourites and I have made it more times than I can remember.  A variation of (rather mediocre in my view) madeira cake to be found in Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess.  I made the madeira cake once and since that particular disappointment, have made the lemon version ever since.  It's very good, very satisfying even in teeny pieces.
In fear of repeating myself; I would choose a lemon cake over all others.

Week 46
  teapot needle book

I made this because I wanted a small needle book to hold my teeny quilt needles (for the hexagon quilt I am making).  I looked all over Folksy and Etsy and to be honest (and hopefully not sounding too big headed) I came to the conclusion it would be better to make one myself for two main reasons.  Firstly, a lot were simply too big for my needs, beautiful, well made books but too big.  I needed something small, only to hold a half dozen needles or so.  Secondly, so many square and rectangle books are skew-wiffy and it winds me up.  If something is going to be skew-wiffy it should be by my hand and not as a thing I have paid good money for.    I suppose what I am saying is that sometimes hand made can mean it's not very good.  Of course there are amazing, truly amazing makes out there but there is also a big ol' pile of crap.  Badly sewn, messy stuff that I for one would be unhappy with if I had made and certainly would not have the nerve to ask money for.  
I could, though, have one of this lady's in every colourway and design.  The simple, easy way of turning the pages is a wonderful design.  When looking for a new needle book very few came close to Fishy's designs but again they were too big, having too many pages of felt for my requirements.  
Alix too, from Used-to-bees, makes an amazing Little Red Riding Hood book that is simply gorgeous and I am still sorely tempted by.
Maybe I am being harsh and I really do appreciate maker's effort but I am being real too.  There is plenty of naff stuff being sold out there along side the really truly good stuff.

I think I used a Tilda fabric. I tend to buy charm packs of expensive designer fabric.  Perfect for wee things without hurting my purse too much, along with my much loved acrylic [Fishy] felt.  I used a cookie cutter as a template and I am pleased with how it turned out.  By using  bondaweb to attach the fabric to the felt on each cover, it's very sturdy which means I can stick my needle into it when I need to put it down to turn my top layer pieces around or when newly threaded.  Quilting needles are teeny so very easy to lose track of.
It's cute too and makes me think of tea rooms and, of course, cake.

Week 47

I made these for about three weeks actually.  Nearly two thousand of the buggers and will probably have to make more white ones.  I am usually always in the process of a 'big' make meaning one that takes a long time.  Something to be picked up and put down whenever the moods suits. In a put down time I make other, smaller things.  This week all I did was wrap two inch square pieces of fabric around a one and a half inch paper hexagons, over and over again.  I loved it though, the obsessive numpty that I am.  

Expect much more on the hex's.  I have, as it were, been hexed!  Big time!

Week 48
 mint, milk chocolate truffles
(just remembered in time to take a shot)

OMG!!!  Right two things.  They are not cheap to make for their yield and two, I warn you, they are irresistible.  If you hanker after mint Aeros, whether in bar form or divine 'bubbles', these are for you.  From a recipe in Good Food (please feel free to request the recipe although it's probably on the web site) I first made at Christmas (I think from the December issue) for my parent-in-law's hamper.  These ones were for after dinner when friends were over.  They are so good.  They look a right mess I admit.  My take on truffle making is taking a teaspoon full and squishing a bit then rolling in whichever casing you care for.  Any kind of insistence on ball forming leaves too much of the ganache (God I love that word, so dirty, love it and it reminds me of Rab C Nesbitt) on your hands.  I will happily lick from my own fingers but even I draw the line at [excessive] palm licking.

Week 49
 chocolate chip and fudge cookies

I like to keep my men folk happy making batches of biscuits.  I don't know why I feel the need to do this, they already have me as a slave for their every whim.  From, I think, Nigella's Kitchen book.  I followed the recipe knowing full well they would be masseeve, next time I will make more, smaller ones.  Oh I did add fudge pieces I had in my baking drawer well, just because I had them.  Good, good cookies.  Easy to make too, not too fiddly and I got to use my beloved Kitchenaid so happy days.

Week 50
 iphone sock

This week was supposed to be the four felt flower brooches (based on  the mollie makes issue 2 flower) I made for the end of the school year gifts, for one teacher and the three ladies I help out at the school nursery.  I did a different colour for each and put them on labels etc, they looked gorgeous and then forgot to take a photo.  Dagnammit!  Just like the planned week 51 of cupcakes my biscuits helped with for them all.  Pants and poo!!!
So......this week I also quickly knitted up a felt lined sock for my iphone and because it's still here I can photograph it for this.
I like it, it's stripey which is always good.  Not as neat as I would have liked as I haven't picked up my needles in a while.  I used Debbie Bliss 4 ply yarn with ' punk pink' (not that you can see that from the photo) felt inside for extra protection.

Week 51
 granny squares

This week was, as I said, supposed to be cupcakes amazingly decorated by my Biscuits for their teachers.  Someone batter me with a baguette for my failings at remembering to photograph them.  What is it about gifts that I forget to take an image?  Maybe because they are not for me, or us but for others.  Who knows?

This week I also was [still] beavering away at the [endless] crochet blanket, trying to get it completed for our camping trip.  I stopped at 150 squares because I was sick to death of them, they were a good 5 inch/13cm each which is quite big, not easily seen from the photo.  So not quite the double I was planning but a largish single is fine enough because it meant I could stop making the effing thing.  The sewing together was much quicker I am glad to say.  I admit the only reason I got so fed up with the thing was because in order to finish it I had to keep at it even when I had had enough.  I couldn't put it down even though I desperately wanted to.  Also I was hugely resentful at not being able to carry on piecing my hex's together.
I was going to do the post I had planned on this blanket today but Eldest Biscuit is using it on the sofa as he has a bug.  Sick twice etc etc.  My poor wee man.  That post will have to keep for another time.

This post is I need to apologise?  I do, don't I?

Just week 52 to go.......very soon.  Picture me on my boat, Brinkley at my side, saying it needs tweaking.



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