Monday, 30 July 2012

Mug Rugs, Pyjamas, Apron, Biscuits and a Book and a Booking

So I know I said I would update yesterday, but the male members of my family decided yesterday was the day to fool around with the internet connection in the house, so I was unable to!

So over the past week I've been making these things called mug rugs - about the size of a placemat and made like a miniature quilt, they're big enough to put a mug and a biscuit on at the same time, for cozy afternoons on the sofa with a good book or some knitting! I invented the design myself, which I'm rather chuffed about; and I will be making another post at some point as a sort of tutorial for making it. It may not be so great, though, since I've never actually done a tutorial before. But that will come later at some point. Anywho, would you like to see the four mug rugs I've made so far? Of course you do!

Don't you think they're pretty?! I'm kind of in love with them, even if I do say so myself!

Aand a little bit closer! They're all the same design, but I put the mug in a different place for each of them  for fun. And the backs are all rather pretty fabrics - but I don't have a picture of them right now, I'm afraid!

As I said, a tutorial on making those will come soon. Another thing I did this past week was to make myself some pyjama trousers. They're cotton and lightweight, and very comfortable:

 Isn't the fabric lovely?! And yes, those are gigantic cuffs on them! They have a sort of yoke at the top too made from the same fabric. And they're zipped, instead of gathered elastic. Now all I have to do is to make the top to go with them! I know what I'm doing, and I have two fabrics to choose between. But it's a pattern that can be worn during the day, so maybe I'll use the other fabric to make a top for during the day!

And the last thing I made this last week was my apron for college. I don't know if I mentioned at any point, I'm going to university to train to be a nanny? So we're required to bring an apron, presumably for cooking. This is mine:

 It's a sort of cotton canvas material, and my mum and I worked out the pattern between us. It's pretty basic, but has a pleated skirt. Hopefully this fabric won't show the stains too much!

And that's what I've been doing! I also baked some yummy biscuits, and read The Railway Children. I saw the wife for a few hours on Thursday. She's gone back up to Newcastle today, and her volunteering starts tomorrow. The next time I see her will be mid-August, when we're going to London to see Les Mis. Yes, we've timed it to be between the Olympics and the Paralympics. We originally did this so that accommodation would be cheaper, but then a friend with a flat in London has offered it to us as a place to stay. I haven't cancelled our bought accommodation yet, just in case he flakes out, because I don't entirely trust him. But when I originally booked it I paid the extra pound for insurance on cancelling, so I can cancel up until noon of the day of check-in and still get my money back. And then I won't see the wife again until Christmas, most likely! But there we go.

I'll try to write this tutorial tomorrow, but no promises. Until then - !

Love love xx

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Fill In the Blank Friday

Just a post for Fill in the Blank Friday!

I am short and brunette. I'm a friend, a soon-to-be student again, a daughter and granddaughter and a sister. I'm a sewer, knitter, baker, reader. I'm chatty and open-hearted.

I have always been a willing eater - never fussy. There are almost no foods I don't like.

I hope to see the Aurora Borealis for real with the wife one day.

I can be very moody at times, and want to spend a lot of time alone. I need a certain amount of time on my own!

I dream of a family of my own - husband and children to love. And I dream of carrying a baby inside me, my body sheltering that growing person.

The way to my heart is through vulnerability. By listening to me and my problems, and talking about your own whilst I listen. Sharing honest worries or insecurities and seeking solutions together brings people closer than almost anything else, I think.

I am passionate about morality and compassion. I truly think that they are absolutely necessary. It cuts me deep to hear people speak cruelly or angrily through ignorance. I feel strongly, even for people who have done something wrong. They're still people, and they are not just their crime. Same goes for every person in the world. We are so much more than we are often taken for. And we are all flawed. We all make mistakes, and do things we regret.

I will update tomorrow about what I've been up to in the past few days!

Love love xx

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Let's talk about periods

Ready for a bit of a rant? Because I want to talk about a topic which is important to me: periods.

Yep, let's all blush and put on our embarrassed pursed lip faces as we pretend nobody bleeds from their vagina. Or we could take that face off and settle down with the knowledge that about 50% of people (that being all the women) will do this at some point in their lives. In today's disposable society, we think the best things to use for absorbing our periods are disposable tampons and sanitary towels, yes? Well, I think not. I use cloth pads. Mmmnhmmn. I know the idea of this tends to gross people out. because we've been brought up to consider that unhygienic. The most hygienic thing to do would be to use bleached materials which we throw away straight away, not fabric like that which we put near our vaginas every other day of the month!

By all means, it's your vagina, you do what you want with it. But I have plenty of reasons why I use what I use. I've been given the chance to think about what other options are out there for me, and to make an informed choice. A lot of women try not to think about their periods at all. But seriously, stop and consider for a moment: do you know why you use what you use? If you reason that you use disposable because it's better, do you know why you think it's better? Does it seem more hygienic to you? Do you actually know whether it's more hygienic or not, or have big disposable tampon/ sanitary towel brands told you it's more hygienic? What supposedly makes disposable more hygienic?The bleaching process used in making them? This makes them that shiny, unnatural shade of whiter-than-white which we associate with hygiene, cleanliness and purity. It also produces a toxic chemical called dioxin in trace amounts.

Another issue is that tampon companies are not required to tell you exactly what goes into their products; and we don't ask, do we? Another effect of our not wanting to have to think about our vaginas is that we don't think about what the products we use are made up of. We don't ask; we just assume it's all perfectly safe and nothing to worry about. I found some store own brand tampons which said, "These tampons are made from either cotton, rayon, or a mixture of cotton/rayon absorbent fibres". So either the company doesn't know either, or they don't want to tell us. which in itself is a little worrying, since usually people try to avoid telling us things like that because we wouldn't like the truth if we knew it. Another large company said nowhere either on the box, in the leaflet inside, or on its website what went into their tampons. And another large company said, "They’re made from combination of cotton and/or rayon, rayon/or polyester, and cotton/or polyester". Again, this answer, whilst specific in possible contents, is vague in actual contents. Rayon itself is not actually a harmful substance. BUT, both rayon and cotton are fibrous substances which means that tampons will almost certainly leave fibres behind in the wall of your vagina. Lovely. And that means that any dioxin is embedded in the wall of your vagina with it.

Plus, there are all these new products with things in with flashy names or which are meant to appeal to us, like certain odour-neutralising pearly type things mentioned by a few different companies - different things, same kind of advertising slogans. but nowhere do they actually say what these pearly things are which neutralise odour. Many come with a 'fresh scent'. But nowhere do they list the chemicals which go into that fragrance, such as phthalates (chemicals linked to hormone disruption which can affect development and fertility) - and why would you want a chemical fragrance to be coming out of your vagina, anyway?! They're constantly coming up with new additives to tampons and sanitary towels which sound flashy. But the names tell you nothing of what they actually are, nor are there any actual explanations of what they are or what they're made of. They're simply advertising slogans designed to appeal to the stoopid in us all. Companies aren't actually allowing you to know what's in the products you're buying at all!

The companies advertising their products to us are making us ashamed of our period. They tell us to be proud of our period, and in the same sentence reassure us that their product is so discreet nobody will know about it. They tell us that periods are a beautiful part of nature (gack!) and then describe their product as  'protection'. Since when did we need protecting against our vaginas bleeding? The advertising makes us feel ashamed about our periods, like they're something to be embarrassed about and to hide about ourselves - or to fight against. Let's be honest, they can be frustrating. They can be painful. But 50% of the world is in sympathy with our pain. And they're entirely natural and normal for 50% of the world too - at least at one stage in their lives, anyway. We shouldn't have to be ashamed of them. We should have access to information about alternatives. And we shouldn't be being taught that disposable are the only options, never mind the only 'clean' options.

There are some great alternatives offered to the standard route. Firstly, and for the most squeamish people, you can stay in your comfort zone and simply get unbleached, organic cotton sanitary pads and tampons. You may have fun trying to find them, though, considering all that non-communication the companies are doing about tampon contents. There seems to be a well-known company called Natracare who do these, though.

Then there are a few options. There's the menstrual cup, in both disposable and reusable forms. This is a medical grade silicone cup which sits in your vagina - the same way a tampon would - and catches the blood. You take it out, empty the blood, rinse it - although that's not necessary - and reinsert it. If it's disposable, you throw it away. If it's a monthly one, you reinsert it but at the end of your period for that month, you throw it away. These are completely safe, hygienic, and are cheaper than disposable products. If you buy the standard menstrual cup, it can last years and is approximated to cost the same as 3 months' supply of disposables, either tampons or pads. These do tend to have the downside of not being recyclable. But that's the same as all the disposable products out there.

Then you've got your cloth pads. You can make your own, you can buy them - there is a wealth of great information out there. I love mine. I've been making my own for almost 2 years, and I've been using them for longer than that. They feel like normal underwear, they never leak (which the plastic disposable ones often did for me), they're pretty(!), and I just chuck them in the wash with all my other clothes. Sure, lots of people recommend soaking them, or adding extra stuff to the wash, or doing a hot wash. But I don't bother. I just put them through like everything else. They hardly add to the laundry load, so they're very cheap, and they come through it almost entirely stain-free, despite 2 years of use. I love the pretty tops they have, in gorgeous fabrics. They make me feel special! Mine are made from a pattern by Luna Wolf, which is where my first cloth pads came from. She's no longer making any more cloth pads, but she's still selling the tutorial. There are millions of places on the web for buying cloth pads, though - etsy, for a start! They aren't available in stores, unfortunately - yet.

Then you can get reusable tampons - again, you can make your own or buy them. They can be made from fabric, or knitted. Along with this is something called an interlabial pad. There's not much about them, and I don't know very much; but they're sort of a cross between a pad and a tampon, and sit between your labia, hence the name.

You can use sea sponge - used like a tampon. Again, I don't know huge amounts about these. But the information is out there. It seems that you moisten them with water, and then just use like a tampon. Some people tie floss round them to act like the cord on a tampon. They seem to be less long-term than cloth pads or tampons, but longer term than disposables - some recommend using it for a few months then throwing it away.

And finally, there is something I have heard of only very briefly: free bleeding. It's really not discussed very much at all. But some women are perfectly comfortable with, say, sleeping without anything to mop up the blood; or wearing dark underwear on a light day and just not worrying about it. And some women say, apparently, that they can hold it with their vaginal muscles and let it out into a loo. I don't really know. It's not an option I'm interested in trying right now. But it might be for you. By all means, think about it!

I don't want anyone to feel ashamed if they use disposable products for their period. As I said earlier, it's your vagina so do what you want with it. And currently, the disposable products are the most easily available. But I do want you to be informed of all the choices out there, and to research into them, and not to dismiss them because the disposables companies tell you that their products are the only hygienic ones. Many of the options out there have been in use for millenia already. They've had plenty of testing. Go, research, read. Try out different options. I have a menstrual cup which I love, but rarely use because most of the time I find it to be too difficult (being an unmarried 19 year-old). But I tried it, liked it and disliked it, and will probably return to it in the future. Give other options a go. Then decide. If you still prefer disposables, stick with them. But you've got a heck of a lot of periods ahead of you - probably - so trying something new for a month or two isn't going to hurt!

Please love your vagina - it's a part of you! I'm not saying you have to spend all your time talking or thinking about it. But don't ignore it completely.

Love love xx

Friday, 20 July 2012

A Day's Work, Canvas Crayon Crafting, A Broken Rotary Cutter and a Signature Block

So today I slept in, and then read for a while. Then I got up, ate, hoovered upstairs and down, put laundry through and made broccoli and stilton soup for supper. and I finally got round to finishing one of my canvasses:

You like? I like! I'm pretty darn happy with it! I know, these kind of things have been going round the internets for a while; mine is nothing special. But it is to me! I chose the image carefully, drew it out on paper first, then copied it onto the canvas. Then I bought absolutely loads of crayons, chose which colours I wanted, tested each crayon and sorted them by shades. The remaining crayons got turned into the toddler's birthday gift. These ones got glued onto the top of the canvas with a glue gun. Then I used the craft heating thingy to melt the crayons. Most people recommended using a hairdryer to melt the crayons, and reckoned on it taking about 15 minutes per section. But the heat thing was actually really quick; and I kept it moving steadily, rather than in sections so much. I guess it divided roughly into 5 sections? But it took almost no time at all. The crayons melted quickly, then it was just a matter of moving the heater around to mix the colours and spread them. I also followed some of the wax runs down with it too, to get rid of lumps. And I used cardboard curved round and held in place with masking tape at a sharp angle to protect the umbrella from wax:

you see? The wax just ran round it and down!

And that was basically it! Once the wax had solidified a little I removed the card from the canvas, then melted the wax just a little round the umbrella to soften any lumps.

I love the silhouetted figure. I always imagine she looks so happy, dancing in the rain with her brolly!

The other thing I did this evening was to make the signature block for Kettleboiler's quilt. But I had a mishap part-way through making it:

 It wasn't me, guv, I swear it just fell off in my hand! That snapped off piece is the toggle you press to snap the blade back in. Thankfully if you dig your nail into where it used to sit you can still pop the blade in; but it's not as easy!

I did, however, finish my siggy block:

 Sorry, I know the picture quality isn't great. the teal fabric is really resistant to photography! But I think it'll do - I sure hope so!

That's all for today. Tomorrow I'll hopefully get some of the quilting things sent off in the post, and get some letter writing done too. I'd also like to make a start on these pyjamas I've been wanting to get on with for ages; or perhaps my apron for Norland!

Love love xx

The Wife and Moving, Uncover, Rolo filled Cookies

The wife was round yesterday. She moves back up to Newcastle and into her new house tomorrow. Aside from our trip to London in August, I'm not going to see her for probably about the next 6 months. Don't ask me how I'm feeling about this.

Anyway, she was round yesterday, and we did a little more in this booklet called Uncover. We've been working on it for a while, doing one chapter a week. It's basically a walkthrough of key parts of the gospel of Luke, with questions about how the messages in it relate to today's society and problems. We've been finding it to be a great way to open us up to talking about our problems and then praying about them. And then we made cookies!

These are cookies we'd been planning to make for a while, ever since we saw them on pinterest. But when we went to the site with the recipe, we were a bit disappointed. This is a frustration I often feel about pinterest: you see a great idea for something to bake, pin it, click on the link, and the recipe asks for a box of some kind of cake mix. I'm sorry, but cake mix is not an ingredient!! But the site was pretty good other than that for instructions, and it was a great idea, and we had the rolo's. So we dug up my classic cookie recipe and played with it a little to make the cookie mix. And came up with these:

Okay, so they don't actually look much like the pin we were trying to replicate. But they were gooey, and chewy and so, so good!!

 Some of them had the rolo's melt and you got this amazing caramel bit which was just glorious! And who cares if they're not exactly like what we pinned? These were better, because they were near enough to us that we could eat them!

Recipe, you say? But of course!

3 oz butter
3 oz granulated sugar
3 oz brown sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence
1 egg
6 oz self-raising flour (substitute on tablespoon of flour for 1 tablespoon cocoa powder)
pinch of salt
3 tubes of rolo's

Cream butter and sugars together.
Thoroughly incorporate egg and vanilla essence.
Incorporate flour, cocoa powder and salt.
take spoonfuls of mix, squash a rolo into it and shape mix round it. I found 2 teaspoons were a good way to do this!
Drop rolo filled spoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking tray, well spaced.
Bake at 180 degrees C (fan oven) or gas mark 4 for 15-18 minutes. They will sink under fingertips when you poke them. This will pass as they cool.
Let them cool for 5 minutes on the baking tray, then transfer to cooling rack. Eat one whilst they're still molten. Enjoy.

Never say I'm not good to you!

Love love xx

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Gifts for a wife who will turn twenty...

So I wrapped the wife's birthday presents yesterday. No, I'm not going to tell you what they are yet, just in case she stumbles upon this and finds out. But they're pretty awesome (I think!) However, I once knew someone who considered the wrapping of a present to be just as important as the actual gift inside. It's something I've normally been too lazy to bother with. But I've always thought about and remembered it; so this time I have tried to make a concerted effort with the wife's gifts:

What do you think? Will they do? I just want to show you a closer look at the tissue paper I used to wrap the silver one, because I think it's quite a nifty way to personalise the wrapping:

See all those crisscross lines on it? They're stitched on. Just your average sewing machine thread - well not so average, I guess. I chose some purple thread and some variegated blue and green thread to pretty up the tissue paper.

 A bit of a closer look? I didn't do anything fancy; just straight lines in random directions. It's really easy - I tested it on a scrap of tissue paper first, but I really did just stick the tissue paper under the foot and go! I was careful about pulling it out at the end, so as not to just tear the stitching out straight away! This will blunt needles easily, though, so don't use your best, expensive machine needles doing this!

And then I wrapped the object up; and instead of cello-taping the wrapping paper, I used more of the variegated thread to stitch where I would usually tape:

It just made it feel a little special! I tried to do these little sunburst type stitches at each end of the wrapping; but my knowledge of different stitches is very small! But in theory you could do almost anything, as long as you were gentle enough with the tissue paper! I guess you could use normal paper, or wrapping paper, though.

And in the top picture you'll see I stuck a few feathers to this object, too. I tried to match the thread colours in the other wrapping paper, and coordinated with the silver tissue paper by tying a silver ribbon round it. Let's hope the wife likes them come her birthday! What do you reckon? Do you think the wrapping of gifts is important?

Love love xx

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Improv block, Blondies Recipe

I made a block today for a lovely lady on flickr, Marika. She asked for people to make her some improv blocks in greys and aquas with a hint of yellow and modern prints. This is something I've never done before, but I wanted to have a go, especially as she's going to turn these blocks into a quilt for a blogger she reads who's going through a hard time. The story is really touching, particularly now, watching how so many strangers over the internet have donated in some way - money, quilting, or kind comments. So here's my block for Marika to send on:

What do you think? Reckon it's okay? I hope so, but I'm not sure - I've never done anything like this before, so it might be terrible and not at all what she's looking for. I'm about to put it up on flickr and find out!

The other thing I did today was to make blondies. I just took our usual brownie recipe and used white chocolate instead of dark. Here's how they turned out:

Pretty yummy-looking, huh? It came out just how I love my brownies - gooey! I particularly like gooey, sticky brownies rather than cakey ones. You want the recipe?


4 oz butter
4 oz white chocolate
8 oz caster sugar
2 eggs
4 oz plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 200 degrees c, if fan 180 degrees c, if gas mark 4
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler.
Add the sugar and stir it through. If you want crunchy brownies, move onto the next step. If you want them smooth, stir it a little more until the sugar is more dissolved.
Take off the heat and stir the eggs through one at a time with a spoonful of the flour.
Stir the remaining flour, baking powder and salt in.
Pour into a small, deep dish and stick in the oven for 25 minutes or so.
Remove. Slice. Eat straightaway. Enjoy that chewy goodness!

Love love xx

PS. There's a huge giveaway going on at It's Sew Kiki's blog - like, majorly huge. Head over and check it out!

What I live with

 Where I found Genny earlier:

And just in case there's any chance you think that might be a supersized plastic cat basket...

 Generally I ignore Genny when she's in the bathroom, since she's almost always there. If I kicked her out every time I needed a way, I would have spent more time doing so than actually having a wee. But in this instance, I forewent my desire for a wee in order to rush out and grab the camera before she had a chance to jump out and pretend she'd never been caught imaginary-bathing. and sure enough, I maybe got in about 3m pictures before this:

I'm pretty sure that expression means I'm gonna be in for some revenge later. She's smart like that.

Love love xx

Work, Challenging friends and Visiting them, Tidying and Baking

Wow, it's managed to be a busy week somehow! I did my last week of official work, went visiting, and did a whole lot of tidying!

So I finished work this week. It was a little emotional, but fine. I'll be working a few more days throughout summer, so I'll be seeing the girls then. The parents were really sweet and gave me a thankyou card with a gift card inside for ikea to help me with things I need for moving in September. There were lots of hugs and kisses with the girls, and then the wife gave me a lift home when I came out.

She and I went to Sheffield on Friday. We chilled at her sister's and spent the night there, which was insanely funny. Her sister is married to a guy who is rather hilarious, so the evening was filled with laughter. We did have a rather serious talk in bed that night, because she doesn't want us to hold hands anymore; and she's thinking about phasing out our fb marriage. I don't agree with it, but she thinks that because she's going to be her CU hallgroup leader next year, she has to care what assumptions other people might make about her. I'm really unhappy about it, but I see her point, and I don't want to cause her more stress right now. She's busy trying to please lots of people at the moment, including the boyfriend, and she doesn't need me having a go at her for this. Who knows, maybe in time she'll change her mind. I sure hope so.

Saturday we visited our friend, EH, who is living in Sheffield. She's at the uni there, so she took us round the town a bit, and we explored a market that was on. I bought some loose passionfruit tea, and EH gave me a tea strainer. We sat outside together and chatted about life in general. The market sold some really yummy strawberries covered in white chocolate fondant, so that went down really well. Then EH showed us her house, and we chatted a bit more there with cups of tea. The wife left for a few hours to catch up with another friend she knew in Sheffield, then she came back and picked me up and we headed back to her sister's for supper. I headed back on the train after supper, and the wife stayed on to catch up with a couple more people she knew.

I've spent today tidying and sorting my room. I've moved things around, and swept and mopped and organised. And there's still more to do. Hopefully I can finish it tomorrow, and maybe tackle the en suite too. And perhaps do some baking. I have a recipe for blondies that I want to try. Today I got major sugar cravings, so I baked up some chocolate cupcakes and ate two of them straight out of the oven. they were soo good! A very simple recipe,too - your standard 4 oz of sugar, butter and plain flour (sub a tablespoon with cocoa for chocolate cupcakes), 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 2 eggs all mixed together in one go, spooned into cupcake cases and baked at 180 degrees or gas mark 4 for 20 minutes. Easy. and so much better than shop bought! You can't eat them hot from the shop, after all.

Sorry, a very rambling post. I will update in some more coherent way tomorrow, I hope!

Love love xx

Monday, 9 July 2012

A Full Day's Work for a Toddler's Birthday, Quilt and Bed

Well, I did not achieve nearly as much as I had planned. Mainly because making the toddler's birthday present has taken me all day. it took me all afternoon just to peel the paper off the crayons; there was enough of it to fill my bin:

 Peeling crayons? So not fun. Plus, it's left me with sore fingertips from digging my nails underneath paper.

And that's not to mention the amount of time I spent sorting and organising the crayons according to colour and shade. The colour they look like on the outside is not the colour they colour in necessarily. Which means every colour had to be checked on paper.

Then they all had to be chopped up into tiny pieces. At first I tried using a sharpener, thinking that I would get a quicker melt that way and was therefore being smart. Turns out not, as the crayons kept gumming up my sharpener, and the shavings melted down into miniscule amounts. So I chopped the crayons after the tester one failed. The paper towel helped stop the shards of crayon from escaping.

See how awesome that looks?! I got about 13 tubs like this, all with different colours and shades in. Each got tipped into a heart-shaped silicone cupcake mold and stuck in the oven at 130 degrees c for about 20 minutes. Then they got pulled out, a skewer prodded around in each to ensure full melting and left to cool. They take about 45 minutes to an hour to cool and solidify enough to pop them out of the molds.

 And voila! Cute heart-shaped crayons, big enough for any toddler to hold, and impervious to the destruction that felt tips or narrow crayons suffer! And therefore totally worth the day's work they took, and my fingernails and so on. All effort completely worth it, as far as I'm concerned!

 The marbling is less obvious in these photos as it is in real life. I will put up a picture or two tomorrow with them all on, since a lot of them are still cooling.

Aside from that, I found the photos I'm going to use in my quilt blocks. I did not modify my top, or do any knitting, or get out for a walk. But I got the most urgent job done. the toddler can now happily turn 3 next Sunday with no worries on my part about finishing her present! And with that, I'm going to bed!

Love love xx

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Creme Caramel, Reading, Birthdays and Tank Engines, Plans for Tomorrow Include a Walk - I hope

I made crème caramel today at the grandparents. Wanna see? I made five of them, but brought three home:

 See how delightful they are?!

And up close... so pale, if a little wrinkly!

And when you break in, there's all that deliciously perfect caramel goodness. Yes, they tasted amazing! I've never made it before, but the recipe was pretty simple and worked very easily. there was some fun in pouring the caramel into the ramekins, as it cooled a lot and so started to solidify;; which meant that I ended up with some spun sugar strands as well between the scraper and ramekin! They tasted pretty awesome.

I also find time to read a lot more of Atonement. I'm actually rather enjoying it, despite the negative story plot. The writing style is simple and very human. I haven't seen the film at all yet, but maybe once I've finished the book I'll buy it from the store or something. It is pretty cheap by now, after all.

I started making the birthday present for my toddler this afternoon. I'm planning to melt down lots of crayons I have no use for into new bigger, heart-shaped, easy to hold crayons for this little girl who dries and squashes pen nibs and gets easily covered in the crayon wax from her messy, liquid-y wind-up crayons. Hopefully these new crayons which are a rather solid wax and high-quality and easier to hold will be better for her new interest in drawing. So far I've just peeled the paper off a few. So tomorrow I'll be chopping them up and then melting them in the mold. I just have to remember to make sure there's a 'Thomas the Tank Engine blue' in there for her!

Aside from that, I want to adjust a top to fit me; and sort out the last blocks for the quilt I've been making since forever! I want there to be photos on the last five blocks, so I need to decide what patterns I'm doing, and therefore where I can have photos; and then I need to choose the actual photos. It's going to be tough - there are so many I could include...! And I want to fit a walk in as well... I'm never going to manage to do everything, am I? Ah well, I can aspire to do it all! Wish me luck!

Love love xx

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Evening with friends, Grandparents and Creme Caramel, QATWII, Supper and Knitting

So something really weird happened to me yesterday. I went round to the wife's to spend the evening with her, the boyfriend and a bunch of our friends - you know, chinese takeout, DVD, much laughter etc. And we ordered our chinese, drove up the road to collect it, paid for it and headed back. As everything got handed out, the wife's bf realised he should have ordered some sweet-and-sour sauce to go with his meal. So the wife and I headed back to the chinese to get some. She waited with the car whilst I went in and asked for a small tub of the sauce, which cost £2.00. The guy on the counter headed into the back and got a tub of it, and brought it out and handed over, just saying, 'Thanks.' I said, 'Are you giving it to me free?!' And he said, 'Can I have your number?' ... This is not something which usually happens to me - and certainly not something I'm prepared for!! I simply panicked and said something along the lines of, 'Sorry, my phone's at home and I don't know my number.' I didn't want to give it to him, but I didn't want to hurt him either, brave guy. The wife was concerned at the look on my face when I returned to the car, but simply laughed in my face when I told her. Then she of course told everyone when we got home, who laughed, and the wbf celebrated getting his sauce for free. I'm still not sure how to respond to this.

Anywho, I ended up only getting home at half 2 this morning, and getting to bed at 3, and then waking up before my alarm at 7:15, which means I only got 4 hours sleep. But despite that, I have visited my grandparents - who seem very well - and arranged to spend my Sunday morning  with them, learning to make crème caramel; and I have sewn the next block for the QATWII. This one is for a lovely lady who sent her starter block along with a craft magazine as a gift! She asked for gridlike blocks. So I came up with a design, and tried to connect the two a little by using similar colours. Wanna see? Of course you do!

 This is what I made. It's not perfect - things didn't line up exactly - but I tried oh-so hard, and I think it's okay.

And here is my square next to the starter block. What do you think? Okay together? I hope she likes it!

So all in all, not an unproductive day for someone functioning on 4 hours' sleep! And now I'm going to enjoy an extra simple supper of crumpets and... poached eggs, maybe? I think perhaps so! And then I'm going to do some more knitting on this baby blanket for this friend of mine.

Love love xx

Thursday, 5 July 2012

One Week Left At Work, Knitting And Goodnight

I have one week of work left. Plus a couple of extra days in the summer, but effectively one week left. The girls have grown and changed so much! B has lost her first tooth, attended her first after-school club and learnt to cooperate with her sister (sometimes!) BB has been toilet-trained, grown more active at playgroups, and started socialising with other children her age in an amazingly grown-up way. B reads independently and silently; and she reads more challenging books to me. BB listens to longer stories, sometimes learning them so she can look through them alone; and she asks interesting and appropriate questions about the story. Both of them have started to understand the concept of jokes, and to try it out - often being funny simply in the ridiculous nature of their attempts ('Why did the horse cross the road? Umm... Neigh!'). It astounds me to think of what they were like last September when I met them, compared with how they were today. Sure, there have been ups AND downs - the squabbling, lazy pants-wetting and lack of road safety all spring to mind. But overall, I have found so much incredible joy in this job, and I will be sorry to say goodbye to them. I remember hearing each of the girls tell me they loved me for the first time, and it melts my heart. Such amazing little people, I can only pray that they grow up to be even more wonderful than they are today!

All that smushiness aside, I am exhausted! I've now been up for about 18 hours, and I am definitely ready for bed! I've spent my evening knitting more on the baby blanket I'm working on for BM. Pictures tomorrow. Hopefully I'll do some sewing tomorrow, too - either my quilt block for the person before me in the QATWII bee, or some pyjamas, or both. We'll see.And tomorrow night I'm off to the wife's to spend an evening with her, her boyfriend and some of our friends. But for now - goodnight!

Love love xx

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

QATWII starter block, toddler

I finished my starter block for the QATWII! Wheee! And I'm rather happy with it - it's worked out better than I'd expected. Wanna see? Oh, go on then!

 See?! And I don't know if you can tell, but there's a faint pink blush to the centre of each flower...? I did that! I'm really pleased with how the fabric paints worked out, because it's nice and subtle, but just adds enough to really look more like a scarlet pimpernel!
And a little closer, you'll see the stitched flower name. Maybe the pink flower middles are a little more obvious here? And if you look really carefully and closely, particularly at the lower flower, you might be able to see that in the very centre it's just faintly yellow... again, I'm really glad at how that's worked. It's not overly bright and poster paint-ish, but it adds a little more realness to the scarlet pimpernels (I hope)!

That's the only reason I have for posting, really. I've been at work all day which has been nice and lovely and fun but nothing to write home about. The toddler - who is turning 3 in about a fortnight!! - has developed an adorable habit of pointing out babies when we're out and about and saying, 'there's a baby. It's soo cute!' Obviously anyone who happens to hear this just oohs and aahs and ends up in a melted puddle on the floor, because it's just so darn adorable! I wish I could get across the tone of voice she uses to properly emphasise this. Just accept me telling you it's heart-melting!

Okay, that's all, I promise!

Love love xx

Monday, 2 July 2012

Pictures, Bread, Quilt Block, Socks, Nut Butter, Knitting

I didn't realise later would mean the next day. Sorry. Here are pictures, as promised!

Beautiful bread:

 Sorry - I realise now it doesn't look as beautiful as it did before I grated chocolate all over it then tore great hunks of it off to gobble down in satisfaction. But I didn't take any photos before I did that stuff, so you'll have to use your imagination. It looked a little reminiscent of this
 I made a loaf of it the other week with the wife, but we followed the instructions exactly and it turned out like lead. This time I just added an entire sachet of yeast, and I chucked all the ingredients into the breadmaker and got it to do the dough bit. Then I rolled it out and up and so on.

Then my block for the Quilt Around The World II:

It isn't finished yet. I still need to edge all of the appliqué and do some fabric painting fun on it. But they're supposed to be scarlet pimpernel. and yes, I know they aren't scarlet. Neither are the actual flowers, apparently! But they are native to Britain, which is what I wanted.

 This is the first sketch I made, when I was getting a feel for the scarlet pimpernel. I'm not very good at drawing, so sorry about that. But I used this to then trace onto greaseproof and position everything; then onto bondaweb.

and there's a flower up close. I'm going to put a sort of fabric paint wash fade thingy into the centres of the flowers in pink to mimic the actual flower. Then, once I've done that and appliquéd it all, I can send it onto the next person who is, incidentally, my mum. This is why I feel less bad about not getting on with it. I should be doing it right now, but I know my mum knows what I want, so I've been lazy. But I need to finish it and get it up on flickr for the other members to find out what I want - which is a neutral background (any greys, black, white or cream) with a flower that is native to their own country. I don't' care about flower type or colour, or how they put it on the background - appliqué, paper piecing, whatever. Just a native flower on a neutral background, with the flower name and a signature block to go along with it. Now all I need to do is finish it, and work out how to use flickr! Should be easy, right?!

and some beautiful socks:

When I visited my sister ages and ages ago, she set me up with some needles and self-striping yarn and instructions for making socks. I finally finished them! They're blue and stripy and cosy and comfy and warm and I love them oh so very much!

 Especially, can I just say, I love the triangle detail that comes with the joining of the heel flap to the rest of the sock! Not too bad for a first pair of socks, eh?

And one last thing:

 Some mixed nut butter. This is roast almond, pecan and walnut butter. I didn't just make that piffling little amount - I made about a jarful. But I promptly used most of it in some no-bake energy bites rather like these. I really like them, as shown by this being the second time I've made them! They taste really good, and I can pretend they're healthy!

I'm going to vanish now and either sew a little on my block or knit some on a baby blanket I'm making for my pregnant friend. Pictures of that will come at some point, but not right now!

Love love xx

Sunday, 1 July 2012


It chucked it down yesterday. It absolutely rained as hard as it could. I was in the kitchen, baking bread in my pyjamas. I looked out, then looked back at my bread dough. Then I looked out at the insane weather outside again, and made an insane decision. I pulled my wellies onto my bare feet, tucked my pyjamas into them, and headed out. straight into the rain. I ran around the side of the house, and into the back garden, among the overgrown lawn. I jumped, I danced a little, I saw that the peas were ready for picking and so I picked peas. I admired the poppy which was starting to burst a white one open. And I laughed. I laughed! Out there, my hands filled with mange tout pods, my curls all soaking and limp, my pyjamas drenched and my feet scrunched inside my wellies, I laughed. It was insane and ridiculous and stupid, but I laughed anyway because in that impulsive moment I felt deliriously happy. I was reminded that though we take things for granted, like the weather, we can find happy in the most dull and boring of happenings - like rain in England. I was reminded that the rain makes my flowers grow, that it makes a delicious sound as it hits the ground, that it is wet! And I was reminded that we can stay inside and grumble about the weather if we want to - and nine times out of ten that is exactly what I will do - but that it's far more fun to go out in it and laugh in the face of it.

I made beautiful bread. I have a finished pair of socks to show you. I have a partially finished quilt block to show you. Pictures will be up later. But for now I'm going to go and cook, or sew, or paint, or something. And I'm going to smile a little whilst I do it.

Love love xx
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