Friday, 29 February 2008

Time on my hands...

After grousing about a lack of time in my last post, I then had oodles of it, delivered in the form of Grandmama. Yesterday morning we chatted and played bookshops with Dinosaur-boy (I love his shops, even when you give him the exact money he still insists on giving change and his reasons for recommending books are always completely dear), but after lunch Dinosaur-boy, and later Zebra-girl, got rather embroiled in building not just a Lego village, but an entire Lego planet under Grandmama's enthusiastic tutelage, leaving me to sit snipping at small bits of material and generally doing my own sort of playing. Ian brought home Pizza Express pizzas for us, so the only thing that I actually had to remember to do was warm the oven up.

I have been meaning to make Zebra-girl a doorstop for nearly a year, but I'm pleased it took me so long as it meant that I was able to make use of lots of the fabrics that I'd been given for Christmas. Namely some 1960s vintage fabric that Ian had sourced for me from Country House Antique Textiles, which was good for doors, windows, apple trees....even providing a Beetle 55 with some daisy-style wheels. Not that the car ended up looking like a Beetle, but that was what I had attempted to model it upon.

There is also a little bit of Amy Butler on there to make this cherry tree...

Some Heather Bailey Freshcut on the handle, which Zebra-girl had asked me to fashion into a stalk with leaves, with a flower blooming from it...I made and stuffed this one below...I hope it's what she had in mind.

I loved creating this as, unlike most things, there was no need for it to be tasteful, co-ordinated or even well-proportioned. Dinosaur-boy has commissioned me to make one for his room too. He has asked for blue flowers...which I thought was so lovely: he is obviously aware of the colour choices that boys and girls might be expected to make....but hasn't yet got to the bit where he also realises that most boys don't want florals in their bedrooms. What to do? I want him to have confidence in his own taste, but then he's off to school this year, and I don't want to merrily create a room full of things that may lead to him being ridiculed.

Ho hum, perhaps I'll have a think under this tree....Hope you all have lovely weekends. x

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Lack of time and award time...

There simply isn't enough time. Finally, after nearly a month of suffering from Sewer's Block, I am full of ideas: I have a burning desire to sit in front of my sewing machine for hours on end, I have beautiful fabrics stacked in a pile wanting to be given a purpose in life (thank you, Mama, they are wonderful!), but somehow my time to do these things has shrunk! Over the last couple of months I have been forcing myself to drive to try and build up my confidence...but then I realised that a small amount of confidence was gained with many sacrifices: lack of walking left me feeling rather flumpy and untoned; one of the children made a comment that suggested that they felt their skin wasn't adequate protection against the elements (an idea which appalls me); all the lovely changes in front-gardens are missed when speeding past them at 25 miles per hour (mmm, I didn't get that confident then); and in the afternoons my little Dinosaur-boy would be bad-tempered and crabby because he hadn't had a chance to race down the road pretending to be a coal-tender. And then there's our carbon footprint to think about... So we are back to pavement-pounding again, but in doing this I lose an hour from the time that I would normally have at home to do my sewing - by the time I'm home it leaves just over two hours before I need to leave to go and collect him...barely enough time to thread up one's machine, let alone enjoy procrastinating over fabric combinations, no?

Anyway, enough of my transport dilemmas. I have been very kindly nominated for two awards!

A 'You Make My Day Award' from the Lovely Louise of Lulu Lolly Legs - Louise regularly makes my day too; her blog is funny, inspiring and full of beautiful pictures and her wonderful tendency for occasional 'sticky-beaking', as she calls it, has meant that I've got to know her better...making me think that curiosity should be much encouraged.

Annie B from Over Milkwood...had awarded me the ArteyPico award for being creative and inspiring! What a huge compliment - thank you. I love reading Annie's blog, which itself is creative and inspiring...not least because it is the home of this wonderful hat that I can't get out of my head! If my hair had looked so flicky and wonderful under such a divine woolen creation, had I been able to find a way, I would have had large pictures of it projected onto London monuments...yet instead Annie chose to put the hat over a dinner plate. I love this lunacy, and yes, if you didn't see it the first time the hat still looked good even after its spell in the crockery cupboard.

So now I have some award-giving to do, which is always a delight. I am limiting myself to three nominations per category, but allowing myself long speeches to accompany the award giving.

The Making My Day Award goes to:

Alice of Raspberry goodness - her posts so often have me howling with laughter, while wanting to give her a large hug...as well as regularly leaving me drooling over her lovely linen-work...eugh, sorry Alice, you really don't want a hug from one who is slobbering, do you?!

Lisa of U-handblog loveliness - the wonderful bag-making alone would be enough to make my day, but she is also an inspiring non-shoulder-padded ethical businesswoman and her Craft Boom posts are full to bursting with the most wonderful tips to help others succeed in setting up their own small businesses...if only they can find the courage! And she's lovely, which is the most important bit.

And Jo from Today We Are....Delightful (my own variation on her blog title), because I'm always so happy to see one of her posts waiting in my bloglines. And because I feel we worry, procrastinate and delight over similar things...which is a great comfort. And she makes me laugh a lot.

On the ArteyPico front (award pictured left) - which is given for creativity and inspiration:

Jo from French Knots for the wonderfully English feel that she has to her blog, the lovely things that she makes and because so often her posts inspire me and make me think.

Lina of Linaloo because I love hearing about her days, looking at her fabrics and seeing the lovely things that she makes with them.

Bec from The Small Stuff because she makes the most fantastic clothes and bags and uses fabric combinations that I adore...and has a very eccentric method of naming her wonderful bags, that I don't understand, but that makes me laugh (the most recent was called Saucepan Man Bag).

I'd also like to award Blogger the You Make My Day award because after an entire month, spellcheck is finally working again and I can't tell you how much it had been troubling me to be posting up potentially mis-spelt thoughts!

Monday, 25 February 2008

Dinosaur fun

During half-term we went to the Natural History Museum for the day with Grandmama. The dinosaur exhibition was wonderful, despite being incredibly over-crowded. Zebra-girl was a little disappointed that it wasn't equipped with an arts & crafts table, as the exhibits had been at the London Aquarium, so I promised her that the next morning we would do our own dinosaur-themed sticking and gluing. My mother believes that the reason I have supplied my children with industrial quantities of sellotape is so that the absence of large quantities of glue from their childhoods might go unnoticed. I decided that I must make small (very small) inroads to remedy this situation and so wrapped the entire breakfast bar and surrounding area in swathes of plastic and then let them dive in to the glue pot for one day only!

I gave them each a bowl filled with little squares of fabric. Blues and browns for Dinosaur-boy and pinks and greens for Zebra-girl. It was only after I'd given them to them that I realised how very odd that felt - I'm not normally aware of purposefully steering them towards boysy or girly colours.

Dinosaur-boy wanted to make a meat-eating dinosaur, and Zebra-girl, a plant-eater. I drew dinosaur silhouettes onto some card and then cut around them about 1cm wide of the template, so that they could glue on the other side and afterwards I could then trim them so that they didn't get bits of overhanging material around the edges.

And this is what they made. They took a long time positioning the woogly eyes to give just the right expression. I'm not sure whether Dinosaur-boy's dinosaur is in love or just hungry...

And Zebra-girl enjoyed doing hers so much that she went on to make a baby dinosaur. Here they are as a family - now framed and hung in the playroom.

On Saturday Mr Teacakes carved them some dinosaur toast for breakfast.

The speed with which the children ate suggested that it tastes much better that way.

Postscript: Lisa has very sweetly linked to this post (thank you x) ~ so warm hellos and welcome to anyone new visiting from U-handblog....or indeed anyone new visiting from anywhere.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

A cold hand...

Above is the knitting that I have been doing while Zebra-girl has been making a blanket for bear. It has shocked me quite how respectable it looks (and I think it would shock certain others too). It would seem that the disasterous lesson (the disaster being on the part of the pupil, not the teacher) that my husband's mother gave me some months ago in how to purl, where I seemed only to learn how to make large knots, holes and something that resembled a bird's nest, just needed some fallow time in my brain, before it could be tried again now and executed in such a way that row upon row of the previously elusive stocking stitch grew before my very eyes.

My project is the pair of mittens above. The only hard part is the thumbhole at the back, but I have now done that, using a stitch holder, so I think it will all be fine. Using the stitch holder was of course rather lovely, as for a moment I was able to delude myself that I was a proper knitter. I decided to start at the level that felt best suited to my skills and went for a pattern in a book aimed at children. The Girl's Best Book of Knitting, Sewing & Embroidery by Virginie Desmoulins is such a lovely book, that I don't think its use should be limited exclusively to small ones.

However, and this is no fault on the part of Ms Desmoulins, but it was a very foolish project for me to pick, for my patience with knitting is short and so I should never have settled upon something which requires two parts to be completed in order to be useful. I know that once I have completed one mitten, my enthusiasm for creating the second will have deserted me completely.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Teaching Zebra-girl to knit

One of my aims for half-term was to teach Zebra-girl to knit. I was slightly apprehensive about this project as I am not a good knitter - my tension is always wrong, and I always leave projects half-finished...but I did really enjoy it as a child, I just seem to have lost that skill along the way somewhere. When I was small all of the mummies would come into the tiny village school that I attended and we'd sit around in little knitting circles and create small coloured squares that were eventually sewn together into large blankets for the PDSA to keep donkeys warm (it used to be the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals...but I see that it has now morphed into 'Pets in Need of Vets'). This really caught my imagination and as the grown-ups chattered I would excitedly think about the soft grey poorly donkey that might be warmed by my holey square. Once the donkey-project ended (well, maybe it carried on, but we moved to Australia at that point) I don't remember knitting again until I was about 10 years old, when I suddenly became quite prolific in the manufacture of knitted glove puppets and I remember being particularly delighted by the creation of a grey elephant with a tubular trunk shooting out of his face.

So, with all this in mind, I thought it was essential that my little Zebra be taught (I told my mother that it had the potentially added bonus of her being able to make me all the clothes that I want, but lack the ability to knit once she is older...she said that sounded like I had 'sweat shop' intentions for her. Oh dear, how easily one's ideas can be misconstrued....).

Zebra-girl is very gratifying to make things with as she is always so enthusiastic and her excitement had her leaping round the house when she saw the wool that I'd chosen for her. We decided to make a blanket for her bear. Never having taught someone to knit before, I don't know whether she was slow or quick to pick it up, but I felt surprised and delighted that by the sixth row she was able to hold it all by herself and knit away, slowly but steadily. So...I thought just in case anyone else is thinking of teaching their small ones, I might make a list of things that we found helpful (not least finding the most wonderfully knowledgeable lady in my local yarn shop).

  • When I was initially trying to teach the steps that form each stitch we found the best way of sitting was in a little boat so that I was directly behind her and able to hold her hands to guide her through the actions.
  • I gradually reduced the amount of steering that my hands were doing on hers, until eventually they were just there to give her confidence, by the sixth row she didn't need them there at all....and we could return to sitting normally.
  • For various reasons I think a thick yarn is good to start with: the bulk of it helps the child see progress being made more quickly, it's less fiddly and the inevitable holey bits can be fluffed over slightly more.
  • But even though I chose a thick yarn I tried also to pick one where the strands didn't divide up too easily (not entirely successful).
  • I chose a wool that has a graduated colour...this really made a difference to persevering - Ours blended gradually from pink, to red, to orange and Zebra was so desperate to get to the orange bit that this became almost as exciting as the prospect of the actual item being completed.
  • I bought children's knitting needles - they are a little shorter, and have a nice character on the top.

But what have I unleashed? Some sort of knitting addict. My little one can barely stop to eat she loves knitting so much. We have been teasing her that by the end of the week she may have created a giant knitted tea cosy to go over the top of our entire house. She giggles at this and carries on clickety-clicking.

This morning we sat in bed knitting next to one another (which seems wonderfully companiable and grown-up) and she suddenly exclaimed 'it's so funny, I actually look like a real old person knitting when you look down at my hands. I'm just like an old lady!' - she was so delighted by this that one can only assume that she has no issues with the aging process.

Below is a picture of her progress so far - you'll see she has gained a few stitches along the way...but the blanket could probably have done with being a little wider, so we'll look on that as a bonus. She went to bed an hour later than usual tonight and 'just one more row' has quickly become a familiar phrase.

It would appear that in the last fortnight my crafting posts have been mainly child-centred...I've been feeling oddly unenthusiastic about any of my own projects. I have stacks (literally) of wonderful fabrics waiting to be turned into lovely things...but nothing seems to be getting made. But I do have a determination not to rename my blog 'crafting with mother'....so I must sew my way out of this rut!

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Peppermint hearts recipe

I had quite a few requests for a recipe for the Peppermint Hearts that we made in my last post, and I'm only too pleased to write it up, and that has the added bonus of plumping up my rather scrawny Tutorials department (although maybe a recipe is not strictly the same as a tutorial...). The recipe is actually one from my head, honed and perfected down the years from the first time my ten year old self was allowed free-reign in the kitchen.

Ingredients:

1 Egg White
Icing Sugar (unlimited amounts!)
Lemon Juice
Natural Peppermint Essence
Pink or Green Food Colouring

Water

1.In a bowl mix an unspecified amount of icing sugar (a medium-sized mound is the best way I can describe it) with the egg white and a generous capful of peppermint essence (I think you may need less if your peppermint essence is of the more synthetic variety) and the food colouring (I tend to be quite restrained here as I love my peppermint creams to look as melt-in-the-mouth as they taste). At this point we carry out essential testing and check that they really do taste pepperminty enough - we like ours strong!

2. Once these are mixed, put your spoon to one side and let the eager little hands begin the work of bringing the ingredients together to form a large ball. If there isn't enough liquid in the mix at this point I add lemon juice (make sure it hasn't got 'bits' in and substitute with water if it's getting too lemony!) until the consistency is just right (you want the ball to be stuck together smoothly and quite dry).

3. Sprinkle icing sugar over your work surface to stop it sticking, put your ball on the worksurface and then sprinkle a little icing sugar over that too, and then let the rolling begin. We make our creams about 1cm thick.

4. Use your choice of cutter to make shapes. You may need to keep re-balling and then re-rolling to get the most out of your mixture. Take plenty of time over this section - if there are children involved it should fulfil all your children's play-doh needs until the next baking session (allowing those nasty tubs of carpet-ruiners to stay at the back of the cupboard).

5. As the creams are made I put them onto baking parchment (to stop them sticking) until they're properly hardened.

Once they are properly hardened start arranging prettily on a plate, using the 'one for me, one for the plate' method of distribution.

And here is what you have:

Thank you for all your lovely comment on my A Change of Heart post. Hope you are enjoying the weekend. x

Thursday, 14 February 2008

A change of heart

Don't you love that occasionally reading about the lives and families of other bloggers can sometimes bring about a small change within your own? I've found reading Mary-Beth's Salt & Chocolate blog to be like gentle exposure-therapy over the last week in shifting my negative feelings about Valentines Day. I'd always disliked the day - in the past for me it has held connotations of 'Clinton Cards romance' and a sensation of being part of a herd that unsettled my idea of spontaneous feeling. But somehow I feel a bit differently now. Reading about Mary-Beth's valentine's family traditions: the melted crayon heart wedges for the little ones, the valentine treasure hunts and the special foods she had created, made me realise that, consciously or unconsciously, she was creating the most wonderful memories for her children and also cementing their sense of what it meant to be a member of their family. Her children will no doubt remember these wonderful Valentines celebrations for years to come, while in contrast, I realised that although my children will no doubt remember us as a family for lots of other (hopefully lovely!) things, they won't look back with fondness on how Mummy and Daddy didn't celebrate valentines day because they were rather excellent at sticking to their stance about defecting from any supposed commerciality....and looking at what a wonderful week Mary-Beth and her family and so many other bloggers were having (and how very uncommercial), that suddenly felt like a real waste of an occasion, because for me one of the largest parts of being a parent is the desire to create memories for my children.

Zebra-girl had her first ever day off school today - she was a little shivery this morning and her teacher said that she looked like she could do with a day at home. Once home she warmed up quickly and was coaxed back to her normal self watching a video and then later snuggled up on the sofa together with Dinosaur-boy as I read them Roald Dahl's Esio Trot. Over lunch I asked her whether they would be doing anything for Valentine's Day at school. She looked at me blankly and asked: What's Valentine's Day? (perhaps her teacher felt the same as I had previously done). I'll skip the intermediary bit, but during the course of my explanation and our subsequent conversation it was decided that we would prepare a secret-surprise Valentine's Day party for Daddy.

Out came the flour, butter and eggs and the fun began. Zebra girl insisted that she wanted the icing for the cakes to be red...under the guidance of her rather infectious enthusiasm, I poured more and more food-colouring in, until I lost my nerve, worried about her needing another day off school just to come down off the ceiling...so the result is a pinky-orangey-eugh-sort-of-coloured icing. Once iced they looked so awful that I gave the children permission to go wild with the decorations as I thought there was no way we could attempt to bring these ugly cakes back from the brink. So how wonderful to see the designs that they came up with: still lurid, but oddly vibrant and pleasing to look at.

While the cakes had been slowly rising (oh dear, still adjusting to the new oven in terms of baking timings) we made Peppermint Creams - this is my favourite thing to make with them - it feels like they've had the fun of play-doh and baking in one hit (particularly wonderful as the thought of play-doh makes me feel like hyperventilating as I know that no matter how much matting one puts down, it still manages to cling to the carpet in tiny little pellets that resist being sucked up into the Hoover).

After we'd washed up we started making some decorations to hang.

Then something to stop Daddy in his tracks as he came through the dining room door (with a message from Zebra-girl written on each heart).

And then a happy hour was passed using a small heart stamper to create a trail for him to follow from the front door.

The children requested to wear party clothes for the occasion of the actual party, and once suitably attired, we laid the table for dinner, lit candles and then turned off all the lights and hid in the dark listening for the key on the lock. Their eyes glistened with excitement and my lovely husband made no mention of the weird u-turn I had made on celebrating Valentine's Day, and got straight on with admiring every aspect of the party that they had prepared for him. But now they're in bed.... and I am writing my blog and Ian has gone out to the garage to his little sound-proof box to record some guitar...because there's only so much conversion one can do in a day...

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

A gift and a meme

Last week my father gave me this book, which he had no doubt found on one of his scavenging missions in a charity shop. I don't already have any kind of compendium of crafting techniques and it's delightfully old-fashioned and no-nonsense in it's coverage of these things. Inside the back cover the previous owner had made a little envelope to keep embroidery patterns in.

Between the pages I came across a leaf and a sweet wrapper amongst other things. Normally finding things in books that haven't belonged to my family or a friend would make me feel a little squeamish...but somehow because it was a craft book, and had obviously been so well-used, it made me feel quite delighted by these discoveries, wondering what special significance the leaf had held and how the contents of the sweet wrapper might have been enjoyed while chewing over the finer points of gesso-work (I did say this book covers everything!).









So, onto the Meme - thank you so much to both Ginny and Ali for very kindly nominating me for this. The rules are as follows:

Archive Meme Instructions: Go back through your archives and post the links to your five favorite blog posts that you’ve written. … but there is a catch:

Link 1 must be about family.Link 2 must be about friends.Link 3 must be about yourself, who you are… what you’re all about.Link 4 must be about something you love.Link 5 can be anything you choose.

I think this is a great way to circulate some of the great older posts everyone had written, return to a few great places in our memories and also learn a little something about ourselves and each other that we may not know. Post your five links and then tag five other people. At least TWO of the people you tag must be *newer acquaintances so that you get to know each other better….and don’t forget to read the archive posts and leave comments!

So here they are:

Family: My sister Laura - Writing this blog has made me realise that, despite not living close to one another, my sister is very much woven into my days. I often have to edit from posts many of her lovelinesses and the thoughtful and funny things that she does, for fear of my blog becoming a weird homage to her and needing to be renamed Laura Teacakes. But in this post there's the unabridged telling of how special she is to me and how lucky I feel to have her as my big sister.

As rules are meant to be broken I've included Endearingly Wonky too, because I can't look at the pictures in this post without feeling a real pang - I love the effort that my small ones put into making these things knowing how much it would please the recipients and the day holds happy memories for me.

Friends: A visit to Donna's beautiful house - I realise that I haven't written many posts about friends, and that's partly because not all of them know that I have a blog and also because it feels like it may be an invasion of their privacy to write about them. But if you haven't seen it before, then do go and have a look around my friend's house, as it is utterly lovely and very colourful.

Myself: Happy and sad - this post is very recent, but I wanted to include it, because it was a challenge for me to write it when it revealed so much of what was in my head. It has become a post that I am fond of because so many fellow bloggers wrote and shared a little more about their selves too.

Love: Lazy Anniversary reflects my feelings about Ian, while the contents of this post (which involve a sample of Mr Teacake craft!) make me love him all the more for merrily setting about making himself look so ridiculous to please our Zebra-girl.

Random: Lots of storage pockets. This was my second ever post - it was strange for me revisiting it, as what I've written seems oddly lacking in personality, and perhaps that reflects how apprehensive I was about blogging for the first couple of weeks. It has all the self-consciousness of the diaries that I'd start every January during my school years, only to give up within the first week because there's very little point in going on with something that bears no relevance to yourself, let alone your imagined reader. But somehow people's comments gradually turn a blog into more of an ongoing conversation...which for me made it easier to write normally - and - not - like - a - robot - - -. I've chosen this particular post because the thing I was blogging about is actually one of the things that I've most loved making. Its intended purpose didn't require it to be tasteful or sensible, and I had so much fun.

As Ali and Ginny both said, this meme is incredibly time-consuming (I've kept leaving it and coming back to it, because I could only handle so much of reading my own archives at one time...and my archives are relatively small...), but if they'd like to play along then I'd like to nominate: Louise, Emily, Becca and Melly because I so enjoy reading the beautiful blogs that they write, as well as Mary-Beth's, with the added reason that she is currently having her one year bloggoversary and I suppose that means that she may be already looking backwards as well as forwards and so I'd love to hear which posts on her blog are special to her.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Bear gets half-dressed

A couple of posts ago I wrote about Zebra-girl making a purse with me, and about Dinosaur-boy's subsequent upset when I told him that he was still a little too small for using the sewing machine (he's 3). Eventually he resolved the disappointment for himself by requesting that I make his bear a pair of pajamas in a fabric picked out by him. No hours of pondering for Dinosaur, he went straight for this fabric with a boat print. Even though Dinosaur-boy seemed happy with this arrangement though, I felt slightly guilty inside. I felt like I'd stamped on his enthusiasm for doing something. So one morning after we'd dropped Zebra-girl at school I asked him if he would like to help me make the pajamas after all. He found the marking out bit a little dull (and I found it quite pressured as I was so worried I'd lose his interest), but he loitered fairly happily as he was so excited about the prospect of using the machine. We rested the pedal on the little stool that he usually stands on to reach the taps at the bathroom sink. I so wish I could have taken a photograph of his small foot on the pedal...but I was having to work so quickly, and full of such anxiety that he might sew his little fingers together, that there was no time for shenanigans with the camera! So I steered the fabric through the machine and he tried out various speeds of machining and was actually fairly good at stopping almost exactly where I asked him to, and by the third seam he was watching for the lines on the fabric and knowing where he was meant to be stopping. He loved using the reverse stitch and, like Zebra-girl, seemed to get untold amounts of enjoyment from the act of returning the pins to the pin cushion. I ended up finishing the waistband on my own, because very suddenly he jumped off the chair and said that he was going off to play with his trains. Mmm.

One of the loveliest things about Dinosaurs-boy's bear is that he is very loose-limbed and can be carried around easily dangling by an arm or a leg. He joins us for most meals and is even dragged down the ladder of the bed in a sleepy hand as Dinosaur-boy makes half-awake night-time trips to the toilet. So I should have known that in reality pajamas may alter the 'feel' of his bear for him. When the trousers were finished we put them on him and Dinosaur-boy gave his bear a big squeeze and almost instantly looked appalled by the less malleable form that he held in his arms. No! Get them off! Bear doesn't like Pajamas! he wailed anxiously. A naked bear and his owner went back to playing with the train set as I went off to tidy up the mess created by the sewing session. As I was gathering all the bits of thread from the floor they appeared in the room: And don't make bear a pajama top, because he doesn't want one of those either, he said. It has pained me to leave a project half-finished, but making the top would be a rather pointless exercise, so I have decided to leave it there. The Pajamas now live in Dinosaur's bed because apparently 'bear' likes using them as a hanky to wipe his nose with during the night! Eugh!

Bear was happy to model the PJs during nursery hours...his owner was less than happy on his return to find that his mummy had forgotten to remove the offending items from the bear's body after she'd finished her photo shoot though!

Postscripts

Thank you so much to everyone who has wished me better! I am feeling rather guilty now at the amount of (lovely!) well-wishing I have received...almost as though I have created some equivalent of a 'man-cold' for myself!

I have been really slow in replying to emails over the last couple of days - sorry! Normal correspondence will be resumed just as soon as I've stopped dabbing at my nose with Bear's PJs (that was a joke by the way). x

Monday, 11 February 2008

Postal loveliness...

Today I was the recipient of a most exciting parcel sent from America. I've been trying to think back and, despite generally feeling like quite a lucky person, I believe I can say with almost complete certainty that I have never previously won anything in my entire life (unless I'm forgetting something...and this may well be the point where my family, who are all blessed with better memory function than me, will ring to remind me of small victories that could be tenuously construed as having 'won' something)! So what a lovely surprise to find a note from Kelli on my Flickr account last month telling me that I had won a prize for the apron that I'd submitted to the Amy Butler In Stitches Sew-Along Flickr group. There was much double-taking, disbelief, frantic intakes of breath and then some shouts to Ian who was downstairs (and then a similar reaction from him too as he can't remember me ever winning anything either).

So what was in the parcel? The fabricy goodness pictured above. My picture doesn't show the variety of prints (there are actually six or seven pieces in there), but it does show my two favourites - the top one I recognised as being an Ikea fabric, which is such a treat, as our nearest Ikea involves a trip on a motorway...so it might as well be as far away as Scotland I'm so unlikely to ever get there. My other favourite was the third one down - which is heavyweight and slightly retro looking - gorgeous! And I love the ribbon too! You can see my 'prize-winning' apron here when I blogged it back in December. I made it as a gift for my grandmother (who squirted tomatoes down it on first wearing....but she told me delightedly that it 'washes well' and that all trace of the incident is now gone!).

NB: As I post this I realise that I am shocked that I have won something...but you may just be shocked that I have written a post that doesn't take ten hours and whole packet of Hob Nobs to wade through. It is because I 'av the cold of Claude and so am off to snuggle under a large blanket and read the weekend newspapers.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Sunday climbing

The weather has been so amazing this weekend that today we wanted to take the children somewhere special. Dress for climbing, I told Zebra-girl, who doesn't really do trousers, and so instead put on her shortest dress in a nod to practicality. I remember the day that this dress arrived in the post (wrapped in lovely Mr Boden spotted paper)...she had tried it on in the living room and twirled around in it laughing at the feeling of it skimming her ankles....I hadn't really noticed her growing, and I felt sad when I realised that today was probably the last time that she would wear this lovely dress. I wonder if I will ever feel ready to cut it up and repurpose it? At the moment I still feel like I want to preserve and keep everything they've ever worn just as it is...

We took them somewhere with bridges to cross, caves to hide in, and darkened passageways that weave between towering rocks. Zebra-girl is just like Ian...everything she sees she wants to climb, with an absolute fearlessness that I can't comprehend. Dinosaur-boy is just like me...we enjoy the views and have to battle hard to not let the squelching mud and imagined trolls beneath the bridges ruin our fun.

At the end of one of the passage ways we reached a clearing and saw this little wooden ride-on toy...we watched a small toddler pottering around alone at the bottom of a large rock chattering to himself as his father scaled a vertical rock face high above him, using only chalk on his hands to gain a grip.

The rocks were covered with scratched engravings and we wondered at whether Toby still 'hearted' Sarah as he had done in 1983. This one below seemed a little more professional than some of the others.

And I took a photo of this one below (mistakenly) for Lindsay: Olivia & Daddy 07. Although of course I'm not suggesting that Lindsay's family would take part in this kind of rock defacement! (I say mistakenly because i've now remembered that actually Lindsay's little girl is in fact called Olive - what a beautiful name - but i've left it in, as I think that if you have to vandalise rocks, then doing it with your father is rather sweet-spirited...and also because it is nice that fellow bloggers come to mind when out and about...even if I am a dotty thing who misremembers the vital details- sorry Lindsay! x)

We couldn't leave without Ian having five minutes to himself doing his best impression of a mountain goat.

We stood at the end of the passageway and Dinosaur-boy looked high above where his daddy climbed and said to me: Do you think that boulder will fall on Daddy's head?

Ian looked up and obviously hadn't previously noticed what was wedged in between the two rocks above him. It had probably been there for hundreds of years...but that doesn't make it look any less precarious (you can see it at the top of the picture below).

Climbing Note: Sometimes it is harder to get down than it was to get up.

I hope that you all had lovely weekends too, and most especially Mrs Birthday Girl, Ginny. x