Thursday, 20 December 2007

Is its Christmas yet??

It’s my last afternoon at work until the New Year and im going to celebrate this fact by wasting some time on the internet.

Im starting to get that anticipatory feeling! It’s all cold and icy today and almost looked like snow this morning - look at the neighbour’s tree isn’t it prettyI’ve got the day off tomorrow to go shopping for all those last bits and for the awkward brother-in-laws who are impossible to buy for, Oh and to eat Sushi (very festive I know).

Really looking forward to a break from work I feel like I have been killing time for the last week and its definitely time for a holiday. AND - I finally managed to make something last night that wasn’t a disaster.

Wanted to bring in something to work as I have an aversion to Christmas cards. Especially work ones which involve more office politics than any other sentiment - just what I need - 20 pieces of card with people’s names written on them!

Christmas cards are a strange tradition and I do think it’s very nice when you don’t see people or want to keep in touch but bringing in a stack to work and expecting a stack to take back seems like a horrible waste of time and paper. I know im a horrible ungrateful girl but I hate all traditions that people follow without thinking about why and generally end up ruining them in the process.

So I made a batch of Nigellas Chocolate pistachio fudge and it’s gone down really well. Think I might be whipping up some more after Christmas to put in those stockings. Almost feel a bit of a cheat because its sooo easy to make.... but I won’t be telling anyone if you don't. Recipe is here if anyone wants to know and I highly recommend it as both an easy gift or just to indulge in over Christmas.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Holiday grump

Along the lines of "If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all" I have been avoiding this blog for a little while. Seems that there is some kind of conspiracy to keep me from completing the few simple Christmas crafts that I set myself. Mostly because I have been poorly for the last week, my job insists on having away days at random hotels and my boyfriend thinks that I would want to spend an evening going out to dinner with his horrible boss and family and lastly but most annoying the piles of ginger bread and coconut ice I made came out hard and unappealing.

So the only thing I have to show for myself is a gaggle of mini stockings that I was intending to make for my friends Christmassy get together in January but somehow managed to get roped into making them all for someone else’s friends Christmas party. Not sure how that happened as it was supposed to be a joint effort and I seemed to have pulled the short straw.

Anyway before they go I wanted to show off my little stockings which if I get some time I will be making another 20 of to give to all those friends I don’t buy presents for. They will eventually be filled with (edible) coconut ice and gingerbread and any other small and inexpensive Christmas goodies that I can think off. They are made from corduroy trousers that I had in the attic and ribbons and buttons from my stash so at least im doing my bit for recycling

Sorry about the state of the photos did I mention that my boyfriend was mugged two weeks ago and the nice camera was stolen - can I add that to the conspiracy theory.

So hopefully next time I blog things will be looking up and in the mean time im going to do my best to cheer up, get over this annoying cold and think about all the wonderful things I have to look forward to!!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Back to Life.

Well I managed to get through my exam!! and although im not really sure how I did, all that matters is that it’s over. I have felt like a martyr to marketing for the last few weeks which is my own fault as if I could make myself work over the whole term I wouldn’t have to spend so much time cramming before the exam.

But there we are, I don’t think I will ever learn from my own mistakes and I don’t get the result till February so I can sink back into my comfy denial until then. I hid my sewing machine away so that I wouldn’t be tempted so I haven’t made anything in ages but I still have lots of plans and as I don’t celebrate Christmas with my friends until the middle of January im not going to panic yet.

Bit in the midst of all this self sacrifice and studying I did manage to take a little holiday in Prague and go to see my most favourite comedian Bill Bailey on his Tinselworm tour so I really do have it hard :)

and a little clip from a old Bill Bailey show as all the ones from Tinselworm so far are terrible phone recordings. Enjoy.

Friday, 16 November 2007

60's, 70's, 80's

Wandered past the Children in Need sale at my work today and thought i might have a look and this is what i came accross!

A Jem Annual from 1988: Real blast from the past I used to love jem and flicking through the pictures it fightening to see her hair and clothes and think what a fashion nightmare the 1980s was - so fun and over the top.

Fuzzy Felt - looked it up and it was made in 1966 which probably accounts for the Gay costumes.

Not really sure what to do with either of these finds- I could make them into cards... but I would rather put them on something less disposable - maybe notebooks or something (Any ideas??)

And lastly a 1970s toy making book which has some really cute patterns in for me to have a go at.


Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Tutu to you

Been trying to think of something to make for a very pink little girl (another niece I seem to have quite a few) - when I say pink her bedroom has recently been redecorated with pink walls, carpet, curtains, bed covers and all other accessories - It looks like a fairy exploded!

So before she gets all grown up and changes her tastes to black with pictures of grungy boys I thought a tutu might be appropriate.

I got the idea from someone on flicker (if anyone is interested in making one) and as it was really easy im sure to make ill be knotting up a few more. Only problem is the netting I used is quite scratchy so I might put a bit of lining at least around the top but it’s only to play about in so not to worried. So ill be on the hunt this week for some pink tights and pink sparkly shoes to finish off the outfit.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Lagging behind

Well last night I finally got something done towards my Christmas presents.

Im feeling a bit stressed at the moment as im busy at work and I im also attending a professional qualification one night a week that I need to be studying for regularly and I just cant seem to muster the energy. I have an exam at the beginning of December that ends the first term and all I seem to know is how much I don’t know! The main problem is that I want to fill my spare time with things that I actually enjoy doing like sewing but I have committed to this horrid course and generally im feeling hard done by.

So last night instead of studying I spent my guilty time running up a little apron and dolls picnic blanket for my little niece. I found this little tea set in a local shop which I thought was really cute - I love anything that comes in some kind of basket. Since it was already lined with red gingham I thought that a little apron in the same fabric would be useful for a little person serving tea.

I found a couple of patterns online but neither were exactly what I wanted so I took bits from each (mostly just the measurements) and the rest I made up... but im seem to have created something that looks reasonably apronish! Its red fabric on the back as im not confidant enough to try bias binding yet. Cant really see it very well from the pictures but im lacking in a little person to try it on and the cats wouldnt sit still.

Anyway as im dreading this exam I probably won’t get much sewing done the rest of this month so is it possible to push Christmas back a bit.

Did have a fab charity shop find on my lunch break yesterday when I stumbled upon loads of vintage sheets - so that will keep me happy for a bit and add to my growing stock pile!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Findings and Finishings

After my recent discoveries and the fact that I am drawn most days on a hunt round the local charity shops - I was starting to think that I would have to move cities to find shops that I haven’t turned upside down a few times to find material or some recyclable crafty things. But I should never underestimate the fact that people are getting rid of wonderful junk everyday and sometimes my obsession pays off.

Sooo yesterday a found a whole box of funky vintage buttons!

I don’t think I have been this excited about buying something for a long while. I know im sad but my mum used to have a huge jar of buttons that I could spend hours playing with. So much fun to sort through them for ages putting them into categories, colours and favourites. So now I have the start of my own collection.

Now I have to find something to do with them (so possibly everything I make from now on will feature a few buttons) but think I may just end up hording them and admiring them in secret.

And finally: I have finished my baby bonnets and partnered up with matching bunnies they are ready to go in the Christmas box.

Really pleased with how they turned out and hoping they go down well - they are the kind of babies who want for nothing which is obviously good but know you’re in trouble when a child turns one and you can’t think of anything it doesn’t already have. Well at least these are certainly unique!

Friday, 26 October 2007

This weeks junk

Isnt it beautiful - found this little set in a charity shop and had to have it. Been hording lots of funky vintage stuff recently but i really have no where to put it and as this is a coffee pot and i dont like coffee it wont even be used :( The set is from the midwinter range and the pattern is called roselle and is from the 60s. It turns out its quite common and you can get a whole range of kitchen stuff in the pattern so might have to stop myself buying more of it on ebay.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007


After seeing the bonnet pattern for sale on Angry Chickens blog I realised what was missing from my life. I buy a hat most winters that i end up hateing or losing so this year im going bonnity.

Well I have run my own personal gauntlet and come out the other side. I have followed my first pattern and although it was very simple and obviously no where near the massive tracing paper monstrosities that I know are out there I have turned out something that looks like a bonnet!

I did have a trial run to try and figure out the instructions which I completely didn’t understand and halfway through ended up with something sewn inside out and upside down but in the process something clicked. Plus my trial run was an excuse to dress up the kitten and has now taken pride of place improving matt’s strange model of a skull that he insists on having in the office.

I had to literally fight with the sewing machine last night to get it finished. It spent the night before being incredibly well behaved until I stupidly remarked how well it was working and that we seemed to have an understanding now. The machine then decided to break thread, needles, and make large knots of thread on the underside of the fabric. I still don’t know what’s wrong with it but I was determined to get this finished last night so I just went through every setting until it decided to behave and sewed very quickly. There are still hundreds of mistakes and wobbles but im hoping no one will look that close and as it’s for me its the triumph that counts.

So here’s the finished result - Its green cord on the outside and white fleece material on the inside to keep my ears warm. I haven't worn it outside yet as its still a little warm and I don’t want to be the only person in a hat but as soon as people start getting their woollens on im there.

My next project, which is what this is about in the first place, is two more bonnets for Matt's sisters twin girls. Looking forward to choosing some cute fabric and ribbons and having another wrestle with the machine.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Wait a Minute Mr. Postman

It has arrived! Really pleased! Thank you Val. May you have another hundred great blogs. Love the pin cushion and lavender chocolate is gorgeous - have to admit i was unsure about that one but it's really nice.

I did make a pin cushion for myself a while ago that i was quite pleased with but as soon as i used it i realised that it is to thin and generally a bit rubbish so all the pins stick through to the other side and end up hurting me (I have a lot to learn). So this one will be well loved as its beautiful and already involves less pain.

I was also inspired to order last-minute patchwork gifts online yesterday so that i can have a go myself and it arrived first thing this morning - which was a little unnerving. Hadn't even received the email to say it had been shipped before i had it in my hands - certainly not complaining but was starting to get used to really slow mail so speedy couriers are a nice surprise.

I love the book its really beautiful but feel a bit daunted by all the things i dont know about - keep having to run to Google for answers to things like what is a rotary cutter?, or basting or batting??? - dont you love the internet full of answers for the clueless.
Oh well guess its all part of the fun -it seems im entering into the secret world of sewing!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Into the darkness

This is a picture of the meal and resturant i went to last weekend.

- actually its also a picture of the five friends who went with me seventy other diners a few waiters and any number of other things

No need to adjust your screens as i couldnt see anything either.

Ive just got back from a long weekend in Berlin for a friends hen night and one highlight has to be experiancing the Dark Resturant - Nocti Vagus (Literally translated night vagabond)

Its a little hard to explain dining in the dark but it was a huge rollercoaster on emotions and sensations. When i was told it would be dark, even by the waiter who prepared us, I still assumed my eyes would adjust a little but this was complete immersive darkness and for the full time I was eating i couldnt see anything at all.

We were led to our table and brought food by a blind waiter named benjamen and anything we needed from that point on we had to yell for him to help as leaving the table would have meant getting very lost and probably hurt. We could pick our food from three seperate set menus at the begginning of the night or opt for the SURPRISE which i couldnt resist. Turns out later my main meal was Crocodile, rabbit and Kudu (which i wouldnt have guessed probably even if i had seen it)

Eating in the dark was quite a learning experiance - we all seemed to start the night struggling with cutlery and dropping things and gradually decided that feeling things with our hands was much easier. As you cant see your food or anybody around you it allows you to let go of some inhibitions and really touch and taste your food.

The food was really amazing and we spent the meal mostly telling the others about what was on our plates. It took a while to feel settled but once you did i started to enjoy the sound of everyones voices and start to try to place yourself in the room. You could hear the waiters walking around us because they made clicking noises or snapped their fingers which was to warn the others where they were.

You find that that darkness hightens your other senses and you take time to feel and taste your food in new ways. My friends around me were disembodied voices but I was acutely aware of who they were and to pass anything across the table we needed to grasp hands and be much more tactile.

So this is us all dressed up on the train there which was probably not nessacary considering no one could see us and we were likely to get covered in food (im the one in black in the middle - for anyone but renee) Berlin was amazing and we did loads of other things over the weekend but "going into the darkness" as our waiter refered to the resturant will be one meal i wont forget.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

First attempts

This year I am determined to be organised about Christmas. I started buying presents when I saw things on sale or something perfect months ago and im actually feeling quite pleased with myself. I have a huge sack filled with mostly toys so at some point I get Santa status. There must be something good in there considering the interest from the cats.

See the problem is that last year I had three Christmases rushing from my boyfriend’s family to mine and then back home for our January friends Christmas. I enjoyed all of them but what with buying presents for everyone, and the extortionate price of travel I ended up back into my overdraft which I have diligently cleared since I finished my degree.

I love matt’s family but his sister now has six children with four of them being two sets of twins all under three, who also have birthdays in January. So without seeming like a miser it can get very expensive.

I actually found it really hard buying things early as switching my brain on to think about Christmas seemed really wrong before it even got cold. I hate seeing Christmas stuff in shops to early so I had to really force myself. Anyway im on track for an easy Christmas so far.

So my other goal is to try and make things for my friends this year. For the last few years we have had all our close friends round in January for a big Christmassy meal and exchange gifts and drink lots of mulled wine. Because everyone scatters across the country to families for the Christmas holidays I think it’s important we try to get together rather than handing over the odd gift in passing or at the pub. So now I need to start getting sorted about what I want to make to give to people and who will appreciate what.

My fall back for the more difficult people is any kind of food so jams and sweets, cookies are high on the list. So last night I had a trial run at making some lemon curd - because it will only keep for 6 weeks I can’t make loads now but I wanted to see if it was possible. It was quite straightforward and easier than jam but I did manage to grate my knuckle and scald my hand quite badly on the hot jam jars. Always hurt myself when im cooking I wonder if that’s a sign. It turned out really nice but a little bit to sweet so ill feel much more confidant about the next batch.

So happy well organised, stress free Christmas to you all - know thats a bit of a joke but heres hoping.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Secret finds

We have the greatest charity shop near me - approriately named (well at least by the people i know) the "secret charity shop" because the secret has been handed down by generations of my friends and you would have to be taken there to know where it is.

Anyway i have found many wonderful things at the secret charity shop which now adorn my little flat. Its run by an indian charity so its full of piles of saris and scarfs and giant pictures of the sikh gurus. You need plenty of time and a good head for rummaging but i always come away with some thing cool so i thought i would share with you a few bits from last weekend.

Found these funky vintage bowls that i think i will use for keeping sewing stuff in as im already overflowing with bowls. Behind the bowls is loads of green fabric with little flowers and strawberries on that was brand new so need to think of something to do with it - maybe a green rattling bunny since im on a roll.
Also got some wine glasses that match the set I keep breaking and some large spools of thread in different colours so all in all very pleased with myself.

And to make my week even better i wandered into town on my lunch break and there was a farmers market/craft fair going on. Very surprised to find out this was a regular occurance and no one had told me - (obviously a secret craft fair that goes on every month with out my knowledge) but got over the shock and bought a jute shopping bag to celebrate.

And last but not least i have discovered the joy of ginger curd which is soooo yum. Bought some for a friend as a thankyou for babysitting the cats and almost didnt give it to him - so very pleased to find some on the market.

And it seems that 8 out of 10 cats prefer ginger curd... but dont worry he wont get any as its all mine!

Monday, 8 October 2007

Jive Bunnies

Finally finished my rattling jive bunnies!

Although I did the main body on the sewing machine which is a wonderful invention and can turn out a bunny shape in two minutes I also decided to learn how to blanket stitch and that took me forever. Oh well at least I can say they are hand finished.

So ive been trying to find something simple and safe to make for my boyfriends twin baby nieces and when I was in an incredibly posh toy shop a while ago I came across some similar fabric toys. They were really simple animal shapes with a small rattle inside being sold for extortionate amounts and I immediately decided to steal the idea.

My main problem was what to use for the rattles inside as I kind of assumed I might be able to buy a small rattle for use in crafts but so far I haven’t found anything online. So I went round every charity shop in town shaking toys to see if they rattled and came across a number of old soft toys that were perfect. They had small plastic rattles inside that were presealed and I even sewed them into a separate lining just to be sure. I did feel a bit strange going though boxes of soft toys and shaking them all but I was determined to find something.

I did actually toy with lots of scary ideas before this - like welding plastic milk bottle tops together or wrapping match boxes in duct tape but as I am aware that I don’t want to do damage to the children that I give them to... the recycling option seems by far the safest. So here they are. I’m most pleased with the red one as I think the shape came out best but all in all they are washable, safe and rattle so hopefully they will be loved (or at least chewed on).

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Am I woman enough?

I read an article after reading Yarnstorms blog yesterday as i do most days because she is an amazing woman and i find her blog inspiring and generally a good laugh.

The article is here and written with some lovely Bile by a woman at the telegraph -- so see what you think!

I was upset by the whole tone and the attack it makes on a really amazing person and also on how that relates to me and the things that i really enjoy doing in my spare time. I consider myself fairly intellegent and i work hard for a living but why are the things i like to do as a hobby considered somehow (in this articles opinion) degrading to me as a woman.

I feel in life that it is the effort people put into things that is the most special part - if someone makes me a gift or even a meal something they have created with their time and effort i know that i am truely loved. Not to say i dont like being bought things - as i do! I havnt commented myself but the hundreds of women who have commented on the article and on the blog of the woman who wrote it certainly share my feelings.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Happy birthday to me!

I am twenty seven on Friday! I have now stumbled into my late twenties and other than getting older im looking forward to a good and rather busy year. I decided to take control of my birthday this year as I wanted to do something that I would really enjoy without the stress of inviting every acquaintance to my house or pub and being disappointed when they either don’t show up or they do and I have to clean up after them. That makes me sound really old I know but then that’s the point!

So this year me and my lovely man are taking a little trip to Stratford, spending a night in a nice hotel and going to see Twelfth night. When I was a student I used to go regularly and get the cheap standing tickets but now that I am grown I will be sitting in the middle of the stalls! Yea im really excited.

Then to make it a perfect weekend on Saturday my favourite girlys are coming round for a sleepover complete with Pizza, Ice cream and copious amounts of wine. So heres to a great birthday weekend!

Oh and just to add to my excitement I bought myself a really great bracelet made from old typewriter keys I found on Etsy. Really loved it and as it is my birthday I didn’t even need to think up another excuse for treating myself.

Hope she doesn’t mind me stealing the picture but if you wanted to know the original is here

Saturday, 22 September 2007


Feeling really proud of myself this morning as instead of cleaning my house and doing all the things that need doing i made my first ever batch of jam. Well what are saturdays for! A lady at work gave me a bag of Damsons from her tree and it was enough for three small jars of Damson Jam. It wasnt as difficult as i expected but i did manage to get jam all over the kitchen so there is certainly room for improvement. Now feel ready to take on any challenge - which looks like its going to be the piles of washing upstairs :(

Friday, 21 September 2007

Harvest Festival

Well its feeling like autumn and after a miserable summer it’s almost a relief. I love this time of year. It’s cool enough to feel cosy indoors and indulge in the fire, blankets and wine but it’s not the misery of winter when you can’t walk around my freezing house without three layers of clothing, thick socks and slippers.

I did manage to fill up the hot water bottle not seal it properly and soak the end of the bed so im obviously a little out of practice.

Anyway I was thinking this weekend about the interesting pagan turned Christian ritual of harvest festival. It’s the time of year when people bring food to church to celebrate the bounty of the land and the successful harvest. Living in the middle of a city I feel like I sometimes forget what green spaces look like and being thankful for a good harvest seems strange when most of the produce we consume is shipped in from the rest of the world.

I had a small attempt this year at gardening and growing some vegetables. I have never grown anything in my life other than possibly some cress in primary school so I found the whole experience very educational. I can go to gardens and enjoy the beauty of the flowers but the excitement and appreciation I felt at every new bud in my own garden was quite overwhelming.

So last night as I gathered in my little harvest of Runner beans, Tomatoes, Spinach and some chives I was thankful for the enjoyment that my garden has given me this year. I have made many mistakes and have some very different plans for next year but being able to eat something that I have planted, cared for, watched and admired made me feel truly blessed.

Thursday, 13 September 2007


Well i had intended to post about some of my new finds and finished projects and i diligently took pictures last night to bring into my work computer. But unfortunately i couldnt find the card reader and therefore the pictures are locked inside a small chip with no way of releasing
them :( But as i was so excited im determined to write something.

So on my last trip to the secret charity shop to get some cord fabric to make some floor cushions I found the most amazing Rainbow Brite quilt cover. Felt like six years old in the charity shop thinking i have to have this -- even if i never use it and cant think of anything to make from it. Its Rainbow Brite!!

Thinking i might make tote bags or something but really have no idea at the moment i just like to look at it. Also got some aweful seventys curtains and some cool blue glasses (which i proceeded to break as soon as i got in the house) Anyway just wanted to share my joy!

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Work in progress

Well ive been trying to think of something to do with a whole pile of old girls comics i saved from the local charity shop - Im still open to suggestions!!

They range from the seventys onwards and have descriptive names like Sally, Penelope and Trudy. So last night i spent some time sticking them to cards and making envelopes to match.
Feel slightly evil cutting up books especially vintage ones but these were mostly taken from the one that had been lovingly scribbled on by its previous owner so that made me feel better.
Think im going to try photocopying pages to make the envelopes now as the paper is a little worn and yellowed plus it means an everlastling source that way.
The cards are only small (not sure you can tell from the picture) but im quite pleased with the result. Thinking i could replicate this with book marks or ever journal covers - what do you think?

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Other bits and bobs

Just to catch up with all the rubbish i have made this month.

Here are a bean frog and soft turtle to add to the zoo of creatures now inhabiting my flat. Think im going to move on to something more practical next like cushions or finish up the apron i started.
You might notice a similar theme going on with the flowery fabric but thats all ive got to work with at the moment. Im really enjoying the sewing and hopefully my friends wont mind getting strange looking animals for birthdays and christmas!

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Pink Minky

This is what i did while my boyfriend went to the Nine inch nails concert. Rock on! Actually i dont think i moved from the sofa the whole time he was gone. Seems to be less of a hobby and more of an obsession at the moment but i cant bear to leave things unfinished. Anyway i did leave this spotty monky without his ears for an evening so i must have a little self discipline.

So this is my first attempt at a sock monkey and as they are all over the internet i thought i would join the fun. Quite pleased with the result but discovered that i am really crap at embroidery so his mouth came out a little freaky - obviously something to work on. I bought a set of three little girls socks so he has two friends to follow but as that will be God knows when i thought i would post this one now.

Saturday, 25 August 2007


Wanted to show you what ive been working on last week. I adapted the pattern from one i found online as i didnt really know where to start with making soft toys but its very different from the origional cat pattern so im claiming it as my own now. The fabric is sheets found in a charity shop and i will keep my eyes peeled for more as its a cheap source of vintage fabric.
Im happest with the blue and purple ones and feel like i got the size and expressions best on them. Anyway just wanted to post them for comments or suggestions. They do look a little startled but im hoping it works - what you think?

Oh and these two think that sewing is great fun - im constantly having to retrieve my bits of felt or thread from the mouth of a kitten. Good thing they are cute.