Wednesday, 30 November 2011

And the winner is....!

Number 10! 

Number 10 is the winning comment!

Which was: 

"Giles said...
Many years ago I studied chemistry at university, and the one and only thing I remember is that, according to thermodynamics, things are more stable when they're very random... and the proof of this is that things don't pick themselves up! So obey the science and keep your house at the most stable energy level!!

I like the sound of those fabrics... I've been searching for a nicely cooordinated set of colours to make some coasters out of!

Congratulations on the followers! :)"

It seems that the random generator liked Giles' comment about being very random ;-) so well done Giles! Your lucky winning streak continues! 

Giles blogs over at Touch and Sew if you like checking out his blog and congratulating him! 

Thanks for everyone who entered. Giveaways are fun aren't they? - must find more reasons to have them Right, I'm off to email Giles so I can get his address in order to mail off the charm pack and some of my bell stash! 


Tuesday, 29 November 2011


There has been a few items of post I've been waiting expectantly for (some fabric I had on order from the US, my pouch in the Pretty Little Pouch Swap and my prize in this draw.) Well, today two of them turned up: Firstly this fabric arrived


All these are are half yard cuts that were on sale over at Fabricpalooza on of my fav' US etsy fabric shops. always great service, fabulously wrapped fabric in tissue paper tied with a strip of fabric. I particularily wanted the Hope Valley as I was missing these colours. I had originally purchased some of the pink/grey combo of this fabric and having not been able to buy the other colours I cut into it. Then there seemed to be quite a lot of HV around after all so I decided I wanted to snap it up before it becomes inflated in price. I bought a green bundle of FQ but many of the blues/blacks prooved too elusive until I saw this sale.  I snapped up the others  to add to my stash. It's not shameless hoarding as I want to use the HV to make a colour brick quilt.

Then there was a box and inside was my pouch in the Pretty Little Pouch Swap.  I was really willing this one to be mine. Don't get me wrong there were a huge amount of pouches I would have dearly loved. But this one seemed to have my name on it. I think when the pictures first started appearing in the group I favourited 4 straight off!  I shouldn't admit this and I know you lot won't tell a soul. I have been one of the last to receive and every time I'd looked in the group I'd check that nobody had posted pictures of receiving this pouch.  You can see why!


This pouch has been made by Kelsey of Kelsey Creates. she did the most lovely embroidery of one of the Heather Ross mermaids. Despite having done a lot of embroidery I'm not sure what the stitch she's used for the mermaid tail is; it makes a fab scaley look to the tail body.  The pouch has some adorable bits of Mendocino (I've mentioned before this is my favourite fabric right?) inset in the sides and for tabs either end of the pouch. More Mendocino lines it.


Inside the pouch was this adorable little elephant made from elephant fabric. How cute is this pinnie? Although I confess I may not be able to stick pins in something so lovely! He'll just have to come and keep me company as I sew.  


There was also some lovely Mendocino scraps in the pouch too. This is everything all laid out. Pouch, scraps and the lovely elephant pinnie.


Now whilst this pouch would make a fab' travel toilet bag, I can't bear the thought that something might get spilt on this loveliness. I think it would make a great storage pouch for embroidery threads! So that's what I'll use it for; for now at least.

So I did really well in a swap again! Although when ever I receive something wonderful in swap I feel a bit down that I didn't manage to make something so wonderful for my partner. I think when I get back into swapping again I really need to lift my game.  :-s

Monday, 28 November 2011

Cheats Chocolate Gingers

Chocolate gingers
Chocolate gingers on the tray waiting to 'set'

After a chance remark one day about how we like ginger in this house, every year a family friend gives me a bag of ginger related goodies as a Christmas present. Even though the contents vary each year there is always a jar of stem ginger. It seems a particularly good Christmas gift - one I've copied for other friends. However, whilst it seems like a good foodie present for ginger lovers, invariably we end up with jars languishing in the back of the cupboard that we mean to use, but never quite manage it. Then last night as I was drifting off to sleep I hit upon an idea. I'd have a go at making my own chocolate gingers. 

Confectioners that may happen upon this blog may be truly horrified by my method. But in case any non confectioners are interested in my method, here's what I did to make 'cheats chocolate gingers': 

Line a baking tray or other flat surface with grease proof paper. Remove the gingers from the syrup in the jar  one at a time so to avoid taking any more syrup than you have to. Using kitchen roll remove as much of the syrup from the ginger pieces as you can.  (You want them as 'dry' as possible to help the chocolate adhere to them.) Chop the ginger pieces into bite sized chunks. Some ginger can be quite hot so you don't want too large a bite sized piece.   Melt a bar of confectioners grade dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. (Using a chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids gives a much better result in cooking.)  When the chocolate is melted drop the pieces of ginger into the chocolate and coat them with chocolate. I found that a teaspoon was a good tool to help with coating. When thoroughly covered in chocolate remove each piece individually and place on the grease proof paper. I found spearing them with a cocktail stick was useful.   When the gingers are not too warm from the chocolate melting process place in the fridge to chill. Within an hour you should have some yummy chocolate gingers.  You could give these to ginger loving friends as presents or scoff yourself.  I doubt these will last long enough around here to give as presents. Although after eating all of these I doubt we'll want anything ginger for a very long time :-)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Obsessional Confessional

The living room is almost cleaned within an inch of it's life. You are probably thinking the time it's taking me I must have a living room the size of the sitting room at Downton Abbey. No dear readers, let this be a cautionary tale of what happens when you do what many of you have encouraged me to do in the give away comments here and sew rather than clean and declutter. In fact do anything  rather than clean and de clutter.

I've gone from one extreme to the other. The recycling bin is due out tonight for collection tomorrow and it's groaning under the weight of of the paper, magazines, junk mail unopened and shoved...well pretty much anywhere. I am nearly out of baby wipes, which I've been using to clean gloss paint. (I once read it somewhere that the key to clean gloss paint work without damage is baby wipes. In the cold light of typeface on this blog it's probably making me sound like mad crazy cleaning lady. It gets worse. Today after popping to the supermarket I popped over to Waterperry Gardens which had a Christmas market thing going on along side the seasonal shop, gift barn, art gallery, shop and tea shop to tempt me. But I wasn't tempted to buy anything. In fact Susan can take a crumb of comfort in the Christmas shop the felt decorations were not as nice as yours and there were none of those blooming lovely crochet stiffy snowflakes or any decoration to touch their loveliness. I wasn't in the mood for shopping or buying stuff for the sake of it. Part of me was longing to get back to my decluttering. My living room is already looking bigger and dare I say it bare. I have been ruthless and thrown away stuff (stuff in some cases someone may have wanted, but if I haven't taken it to the charity shop in the last year it's unlikely to ever happen so I confess it's gone in the bin!

I will have to start making soon because I need more cushions, more quilts. Yes, more quilts! I also need more pictures on the walls and more seating but that's another story.

While I was in the middle of cleaning and sorting yesterday the estate workers who are responsible for the land behind my house turned up to cut down the trees. Several have fallen down in the last year - fortunately for us they fell in my neighbours direction and did little damage. Had the one's left have fallen down they'd have likely taken down my fence, tv aerial or hit the house or shed.

View over my back garden fence.
This is how it looked in May of this year when they said they'd cut some of the tree's back.

This is how it looks now. 

It's weird to come up the path and see just sky over the back fence and no trees or shrubs. In the spring when there are no crops in the field they will come and get rid of this lot. 

So that's my weekend. Hope yours has been fun and you've made lots of lovely stuff that I can at least admire until I'm making again. 

Looking for my giveaway? Go here

Friday, 25 November 2011

Fa La la la la it's give away time!

Recently when I hit 100 followers I asked readers whether they'd prefer some fabric to make with or something made by me.  The feeling I got is that you're all a greedy lot equally keen on having a handmade goody as you are making something yourself. So with that in mind I hope I can do a couple of give aways to cater for both! The last few days I've got a bit preoccupied with sprucing up my cottage. It's involving a humongous spring clean, pulling out furniture, huge decluttering and lots of dusting and polishing.

I've found these poppies in the bottom of dishes and vases. I no doubt will find more. Every year I end up buying more than one poppy because I can never walk past a seller without putting some money in their tin. I lose a lot of them so they do need replacing. The one's that survive end up strewn about the place.

  Poppy collectiong

I have been cracking on with more pre-crimbo cleaning  today and there are no other progress pictures because at the moment I'm at the stage where it looks like I've been burgled by some particularly messy burglars. 

So onto the giveaway - no it's not those poppies!  

A little treat for my readers ;-)

I have a charm pack of Fa la la la la by French General for Moda to give away. The palette is reds, greens, taupes and beiges. There is some lovely scripty text fabric in amongst the florals. It is one of the less obvious Christmas fabric ranges so if you made a quilt or cushion from this range it wouldn't look totally out of place if you had it out all year round.

I will also throw in a little baggy of those silver bells I showed you recently. Lots of you asked you what I was going to do with them. Well I've been working on some bunting with bells on the points. If I was super organised (rather than super dusty from housework.) I'd have finished the bunting to show you with this post.  I've been using five inch charm squares so the winner may choose to do something similar with this charm pack - or not; the choice will be the winners. I'll throw the bells in just in case.

So now for the rules and regulations.

Just leave a comment below. No hoops to jump through. I'm not advertising this give away so I can give regular readers the best chance of winning.  It is open to international readers and I'll keep the give away open until Wednesday 30 November 2011.  After which time I'll use Mr Random Number Generator to pick a winner (then spend about 3 hours trying to get a picture of the RNG result on the blog!)  Please make sure if you enter that there will be a way for me to contact you should you be the lucky winner.

If you're not sure what to leave a comment about you can give me some spring cleaning/storage house hold advice. Believe me I need all the help I can get for this little hobit hole.

Good Luck!


Thursday, 24 November 2011


Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it!  Living in the UK we don't do Thanksgiving.  I like the idea of spending some time thinking about all the things to be thankful for. Simple little things. Like a kindness when we need it. Having a roof over our head. Food in our cupboards. Stuff we take for granted a lot of the time when we get caught up with other things. Things that seem important at the time; although not so in the grand scheme of things. There are plenty of things that go on in our lives we choose not to blog about. Usually the bad stuff we don't want to put out their for everyone to read. It's nice to have a day in amidst of all of that to focus on the good stuff. To get back to being grateful for what we have and not dwell on what we don't have.

Today I've been starting with a major declutter and clear up.  I'm grateful for the little cottage I live in. I am not grateful for the state I've let it get in of late. Always so many other things to do. More fun things.  It's become a place of flux and chaos, not the cosy home I want it to be. But enough is enough. The run up to Christmas seems to be a great time to make a start. Last year for the first time I can remember we did not put up a tree or decorations. There had been illness in the family. The bad weather right before made life hard. I only managed to get into work because colleagues with 4x4's came and picked me up and took me home. There was no parties or meals out. No last minute Christmas shopping in Oxford. It felt bleak and depressing.  Then Chief got ill. Need-the-doctor-Boxing-Day badly ill. It meant he was stranded at the other end of the country from me. The weather and germs preventing us from having Christmas together. We have never had Christmas together. Something has always conspired against us.

This week I've told him I don't mind if he doesn't spend Christmas with me. I won't bore you with the details. He will try and get down for New Year. If he doesn't he's said he'll take me to Paris (or Amsterdam) for a long weekend for my Birthday Treat. (My birthday is January).  However, I'm beginning to feel like I would like to decorate this year. To try and make some effort for Christmas. My feeling of pre-Christmas-slump made me shy away from any swaps that were Christmas in theme. Having made the decision to make the home a little more festive this year it seems only right I should make it neat and tidy first. I reckon if I do a little every day I'll have the place done and literally dusted in no time.

Cottage Corner 
  There is normally a lamp to the side of the stereo, but it's not worked for ages
 so I've removed it for my brother to take a look at.

Today's decluttering and cleaning has been of this corner of my living room.  Can you spot the mug rug that Lynz made me in the goodie swap? 

I've done the adjacent mantle piece too, only I forgot to take a picture.  I did take a picture of this though.

Sleeve ironing board Sleeve ironing board

This is the second sleeve board I bid on.  The first one I won the seller withdrew and refunded the money due to a flaw.  So I bid on another one and it came in today's post. It's going to be so useful for ironing bags and I won this for the sum of 99p plus postage!

So no making today. Tomorrow I hope to return with that give away I promised you for hitting my 100 follower mark.  But keep that under your hats.  ::WINK::

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

My Goodie Bag Goodness!

I'd not long come in from taking Mum to have a nosy around a local shop that's full of some Christmas goodies (and already discovered the only things I'd got in the mail were my phone bill and some junk mail) when a parcel force van stopped outside. I was busy basting some giant hexies and sent mum to the door.  I heard the Parcel Force driver double check her name and make some comment how he'd almost delivered this to the house in the next village - until he read the label properly.

Anyway, she brought in this large box and it was clear from the customs label my Goodie Bag Swap parcel had arrived. International mailing was last week so I'd thought it would be a good week or so more before anything turned up here.  Anyway, inside the box was this!

Look at the cute card with giraffes on it! And yes the parcel really was a humungus as it looks here!

Inside the wrapping was this!

I may have started to hyperventilate a bit now.  

This gorgeous bag was made by jmcbroom.  It's a two sided version of the wasp bag. Each side has co-ordinating but, different Echino. (I've just remembered now, that in my excitement to get a picture I forgot to take pictures of the inside!!) As well as the bag we were asked to send a sandwich sized zip lock bag full of scraps. Well you can just see my bag of scraps hiding in the corner of the picture above. I can best describe this scrap sandwich bag as the SUPERSIZED version. I tell you that bag was like the tardis. I was pulling out more and more gorgeous scraps. I mean WOW.


I may have sworn (in a good way) when I opened this lot. Jill must have really stalked me because she really put together a scrap bag that takes account of my taste - and yes you do spy a big chunk of those darling Heather Ross goldfish in their bags. Hmmm - I wonder if it's ok to take this lot to bed with me and sleep with it all for a while - you know like when you're six and you get some lovely shoes or something and you don't want to take them off for days and wear them to bed...Did I just blog that out loud?

And then. (Yes there is more!) I was just having another look inside the bag and I found these two lovelies!

A cute pocket mirror with a lovely scissor design on it and a sweet little Russian Doll Lipgloss

So there you go. Two days running I've been completely spoilt with amazing swap loveliness. There was only really one thing left to do and that was dash outside to model it. Photos had to be taken super quickly as 1) it is so cold today and in my hurry I wasn't about to put a coat on. 2) I had to get Mum to take the pictures and as an incentive I said she didn't have to come outside if she just stood at the back door and took pictures quickly  (- ie no keep asking me if the camera is switched on and how to do the zoom thing.)

So I'll leave you today with a couple of pictures of me being a model and showing off my bag. (And yes it was a breezy day!)

I'm quite petit which may not come across in pictures so isn't the sizing spot on!

Loving my new bag!

Did you spot how each side is subtly different?

Imagine how gutted I'd have been if this had have been delivered to that other house and they'd not forwarded it on!?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Brit Quilt Swap: Pillow Fight Received!

Last post I told you about the cushion cover I was sending off to my partner in Brit Quilt Swap - Pillow Fight! Today I got home to find my pillow had arrived.

Is the wrapping pretty - Could be my Birthday!


Inside that pretty wrapping was this bundle of loveliness. (See how I'm hiding the cushion cover - keeping you in suspenders just a tad longer.)  There is some Scottish Tablet, some layer cake squares, a lovely travel/mini sewing holder kit.  Which will be useful and stop me stabbing needles and pins into the arms of chairs as I hand sew. Yes, I do that and Yes, I know one day I'll probably have an accident doing it. So I really need something like this to make me stop!  There is also a funny Scottish Alphabet card. I'll be speaking the vernacular in no time ;-)  All sent to me from Jinty Maginty.

The cushion is a sort of Cathedral Windows style design. I've always loved the look of Cathedral windows but it's the sort of thing I've avoided attempting like the plague because, well I think it'll all end in tears.  It certainly will not end up as lovely as this:

See didn't I say it was lovely?


I love all the trimming, the quilting, those lovely co-ordinating covered buttons and well, everything really!!!

And just in case you are still in any doubt as to who it's from you just need to check the label inside!


Thank you so much Jinty Maginty. I love it. I hope soon to be able to take some picture of it stuffed with a pillow form and gracing a chair or my sofa, but I really need a major tidy up first. I also need to change the cover on my sofa. Last time Chief was down he managed to throw some coffee over one of the arms and on a pale sofa it's not a good look. Then I wasn't well and neither was Mum (my lovely sofa cover changing assistant!) and it's still not been done!

Once I've received in two other swaps that'll be me done and dusted with all the swaps I'm in right now.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Brit Quilt Swap: Pillow Fight

Pillow done!

It's done! My pillow for round 2 of Brit Quilt Pillow Fight. I can't tell you who my partner is or give too much away about this design, because my partner won't receive this until next week when the mailing starts.  I just hope she likes it.   

Little detail on the back...

I added a little detail to the back where the zipper cover is. I really love using Perle thread. It's easy to get carried away with using it. 

Friday, 18 November 2011

Friday Night

It's Friday night and instead of out painting the town red, you know what I'm doing?  Playing with these (which I bought on my way home from work today):

Jingle Bells

and getting all excited at being the winning bidder on eBay of a sleeve ironing board. Yes, people my life is that exciting. But goodness if you made as many bags as me wouldn't you really really want a sleeve ironing board too?!

Tomorrow I'll be cracking on with finishing my cushion for Brit Quilt Swap: Pillow Fight. I've discovered tonight that sewing and my bad neck are not playing well together. I hope it doesn't all go horribly wrong.  Wish me luck and have a good weekend.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Nosy Parker in the Neighbourhood!

I'm linking up with Kat's blog for this post: 

Diary of a Flutter.Kat

1) Tell us about your home:
Where do you live; (town, state, country that is - obviously not your street address!!) 
 what is it like e.g. do you live by the beach or a lake or in the desert etc..., is it famous for anything in particular (e.g. industry), and maybe what is the climate like etc...

I Live in a small Oxfordshire village east of the city of Oxford in England.  There is something that makes my village unique and not many people know about. However, if I told you this and you did a quick google you'd know exactly where I live. What I can say is there is no pub or shop in my village. There is a school, university campus and sports centre there, although controversially they've been named for a neighbouring village. Nearby Oxford is known as the city of dreaming spires and is most famous for it's University.  The University of Oxford is made up of a group of colleges and facilities. If you come to Oxford to see the University - you'll really be seeing lots of buildings, parks and museums. 

University of Oxford buildings like this are very typical of Oxford


The High, Oxford (Locals tend to drop the 'street' 'road' bits from street names.)

The climate is pretty typical of this part of the world. So unpredictable. Last winter the nearest weather station recorded over night temperatures of -18.  This is not typical of SE England. You just never know what you're going to get. I'd say that the notion it is always raining in the UK is a bit of a myth. 

2) What are the houses like in your area. Apartment style, Joined, Semi-detached, Detached etc...

I live in a semi detached stone cottage, which was probably built in the late 18th Century.  Whilst their are some very pretty villages in the surrounding area, full of the sorts of cottages you get on chocolate boxes, the village I live in only has a handful of cottages. It does have a lot of houses you'd associate with more suburban areas.  It's actually a bit of a mismatch of styles and designs. 

Jan 2010
My home in the snow - a 3 bed semi detached cottage.

3) What are some of your favourite places to visit or favourite things to do in about your town/city.

Oxfordshire is quite a small county and with only going a relatively short distance there are so many places to explore. One of my favourite places to go is anywhere along the banks of the river Thames. When the Thames runs through Oxford it's known as the Isis this is where I took part of my online name from.  I love the countryside and architecture around Oxfordshire. It differs greatly from the southern parts to the north. I am always a bit amazed by this given that it's not that far between the two. There are lots of things to see and do in Oxfordshire.

Salters Steamers Folly Island
The Isis or Thames from Folly Bridge in Oxford

Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace - is a World Heritage Site in Woodstock, Oxfordshire

University of Oxford Museum of Natural History. Great Building and free entry too!

Summer planting

Waterperry Gardens - this is close to me and I go here quite often.

Even in the centre of Oxford there are green spaces to explore like Christchurch Meadow, University Parks or the University of Oxford botanic gardens.


Me on a bridge in University Parks

Border in University of Oxford Botanic Gardens. 

4) How do most people travel around your town/city? E.g. subway, bus, bike, what are the most popular styles of car.

In the city of Oxford it's quite common (although I think far too dangerous) to cycle. Living in a rural area I have to go about a mile to get a bus into Oxford in one direction and small market town in the other. The buses tend to go every half hour in the day and are the most economical way to travel. However, after about 5pm the buses get infrequent so not so good for a night out in the city.  I don't like to drive into Oxford because I'm a bit wussy about driving and Oxford is a very busy city. There is also limited parking and what there is, is ridiculously expensive.  Living in a rural area like I do you really need to drive or do your shopping online. It's a couple of miles to my nearest supermarket.

5) Is there a type of food that would be quintessential to where you live? E.g. a famous local produce etc...

I can't really think of any food that's particular to this part of the world. The north Oxfordshire town of Banbury has lent its name to Banbury Cakes and there are various cheeses etc with Oxford in the title. Frank Coopers Marmalade was made at the Jam factory in Oxfordshire and that's world famous. Curiously enough there are several breweries and vineyards in Oxfordshire.

I hope you've enjoyed learning a bit more about me and where I live. If you have any questions about the area or if something isn't clear please ask!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Wooo Hooo! 100 Followers

I've hit 100 followers today! I'd been stuck at 97 for a little while, but thanks to a shout out from Helen I've got the extra three needed to hit my centenary! So thanks to all my followers new and old. Of course this means I'll be doing a little Thank You give away soon. I've not planned anything. My bad. I guess I thought I'd stick at 97 for a few months and so had more time ;-)  Of course it means I can do a little reader poll and ask what you'd prefer give away wise. Would you rather a small hand made item or something like fabric that you can make something from? Don't be shy with your answers. There is no wrong answer. :-)

And because I don't like blogging without a picture here is the latest fabric loveliness I've had in my mail.

I'm thinking the Etchings Fabric will work a treat in my Large Hexies.

Now me and my bad/neck shoulder are going to get more comfortable. Or at the very least try to stop looking like a close relation to Quasimodo.  

Thanks again for all your lovely support :-)  xox

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Buttercup Bag

It's been a day of quiet reflection, a little housework and some more making for Christmas. This afternoon I decided to make The Buttercup Bag by Made By Rae.  It was the first time I'd tackled this bag, although I've had the free pattern for some time now. I thought it would make a great Christmas gift. The first one I made was this one.

365-316 13 November 2011
I used up the left over Heirloom from the last 241 tote I made.

It's a great pattern that sews together really quickly and would be a great beginner project; not least because you only need a fat quarter for the exterior and less for the lining. However, this is a free pattern and the instructions maybe aren't so clear about every last detail, so if you are a beginner you really need to read them through several times before you start. If you've made a bag or three before it's super simple and quick. I omitted the button detailing on the exterior because I've not got that many fancy buttons and I didn't want the bag to suddenly look a bit 'hand knitted' because I'd skimped on the finishing details.

I got on so well with bag number one I decided to make a second with some more left over Heirloom fabric from the last 241 tote I made. I didn't have enough to do the strap, so I decided I'd use some of the Klona fabric I've used for both bag's linings, for the strap. So it didn't look too random I used the same fabric for the top part of the bag exterior.


I think it adds a nice contrast. Two more presents on the list sorted and as these come together so quickly they might be good options for another couple of people. 

I hope you've all had a good weekend.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Plan of Action

It was only when I reflected on my Winter Stitching list that I realised two things. 1) I omitted to figure in my pay it forward parcels. (Fear not I have not forgotten all about my commitments.)  2) I seem to be planning on making more gifts than I actually have people to give to. I suppose if I was the super organised type I could make everything and that would have birthday's sorted for the next year too. I am not the super organised type though and so I've decided that it would be far better to make just what I need and leave other making plans until a more appropriate time.

With that in mind I've written a proper list with some ideas for which presents should be made for each person and today I've spent some time making some infinity or circle scarves. Voile one side, Flannel the other. A continuous loop that you can wrap around your neck several times depending on how you want to wear it.


They just need the ends sewn together and they're good to go. The one on the top is for me. I feel in the interests of quality control it's only fair that I keep the first one ;-) The others are ear marked for various friends and family. I have enough voile and flannel to make a few more. My only snag is the voile doesn't compliment the flannel I have so I need to source either different flannel or voile to add to the pile. 

It feels good to be getting sorted though. 

Thursday, 10 November 2011


Tomorrow is Armistice Day or Remembrance Day.  In 1918,  On the 11th Day, of the 11th Month, at the 11th hour World War One finally came to an end.  A year later King George V declared this would be the day when we would, as a nation, honour our fallen and the wearing of poppies and observing 2 minutes silence at 11am is something we have done ever since. Not just to remember the fallen of the First World War, but every conflict since.

For many, this is the only time of the year they give much thought to the armed forces and the sacrifices individuals have made in order to keep this country safe and free. For others they carry the sadness of loved ones lost in their hearts every day. For those people this time of year can be especially hard.

Whatever day of the week Armistice Day falls on there are parades and services of remembrance on the following Sunday, in towns and villages up and down the country. Wreaths are laid at war memorials and service personnel and civilians come together in the act of remembrance.

Chief and I will be apart this Remembrance Sunday as he will be taking part in a parade in the North East of England. In preparation he's been getting his uniform ready. Polishing his boots, the peak of his cap, medals etc.  Earlier today we'd been discussing by phone how exactly you get a shine on leather like a soldier does on his boots. So a while ago Chief took a picture on his phone and sent it over. Even though it amazes me (these are NOT patent leather) he's still expressed concern he's not done it well enough!

Ready for the weekend
Excuse the blur I think he took this snap on his phone.

Someone commented on Facebook a few days ago they didn't think that celebrities should be wearing poppies with bling as wearing a Poppy is a mark of respect. I personally don't agree with that view point. As long as money is given to the Royal British Legion or other Forces Charities and awareness continues to be spread as to the plight of our armed forces and veterans, then it has to be a good thing. Sadly for every soldier currently killed in Afghanistan there are many more we don't hear about that are injured, often seriously. These men and women and their families are in need of the help and support that forces charities provide. This support can't be provided without financial support, some of which is generated by the sales of poppies and other Remembrance merchandise.

So when you remember the fallen this year, please spare some time to consider the living and what you might be able to do help. 

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A Random Hairy Vessel


It feels like forever since I've blogged, not just a few days. Going back to work on Monday has seen me pretty zapped of energy and for once I've had nothing to say. 

Then yesterday evening I had an almost obsessive urge to make a felt container. Random? Even more so, when you consider I've only tried wet felting once before, using some scraps of wool roving and it hadn't been an entirely successful venture. I googled to look for a tutorial, but they all seemed to concentrate on flat resist work not shaping round another vessel or item. I was sure I could do it my way. So I cleared space in the kitchen (not before making a right old mess looking for my wool roving), grabbed some bubble wrap, soap and warm water and off I went. Some of the latter layers didn't adhere as well as the first ones. Not sure why. (Did I mention the bit where I didn't really know what I was doing!?) It was scary rinsing the soap suds out as I was convinced it would all disintegrate.  But it seems to have held up. So now it's been drying in the bathroom ever since, over the beaker I used so it will keep it's shape. I'm thinking it will end up more like a bag rather than a rigid vessel. I may do some needle felting or embroidery to add to it. 

I will tinker with the 'recipe' and have a go at making more. Why? Oh, just because I can. I can be random like that sometimes.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Kindness at my gate

It is fair to say I've had better weeks. Apart from being ill there has been a few other things going on that have been conspiring against my happiness quotient this week. Sometimes it's just not appropriate to blog about these things. Sometimes you just have to get on with things in your own quiet way and hope you can find joy in the little things around you. Something can happen to lift your spirits and make you smile. This week I had an unexpected kindness, literally at my gate.

Yesterday, I'd not long got up when I looked out of my living room window to see something gold by my gate, or to be more precise hanging off of my gate. I put on my coat and went to see what it was. It turned out to be a gold gift bag and as it looked like it could rain at any time I brought it inside. My first thought was that someone had dropped off a present for someone and left it at the wrong gate. When I looked inside I found this:

A pretty wrapped parcel and an envelope bearing my name.

I thought as the envelope bore my name I was pretty safe in opening it. :-) In side I found two postcards, some cute post-its and some edge stitched grosgrain ribbon.  Inside the pretty parcel was an adorable elephant called Nora. 


The goodies came from my friend Tanya. We were at school together and lost touch until Facebook.  Recently Tanya started her own crafty blog Second Chance Tan which I sent you along to at the end of this post.  These were a Get-Well-Soon and Thank-you-for-introducing-me-to-this-online-crafty-community from Tanya.  What a lovely surprise eh?

Even more spooky is I have a small collection of elephants. I'd also been looking for some grosgrain ribbon with stitched edges, (I'm not exactly sure why but sometimes I just decide I really need something.), when I looked at Seamstar they'd got none. Then I've been doing a lot of reading this week and a few books have had pretty post it's on them with my name, as other bookcrossers have set them aside to give me at meet ups. A post it label helps people remember which books are for which bookcrosser so they don't end up on the free-for-all tables.  I was just thinking how I could do with some pretty little post its for this purpose and should look out for some...So three things that were perfect for me, that you'd have to be psychic to know about. Either that or fate was sending some extra goodness my way at the time I needed it most. So a big thanks again Tanya. :-)

And if I haven't embarrassed Tanya enough for her kindness in this post :-) here's a picture of us together in a Primary School Production of The Wizard of Oz.
The Wizard of Oz - 1985
Tanya as Cowardly Lion and me as Dorothy

Friday, 4 November 2011

Favourite Things Friday: Future Primitive Soaps

I discovered Future Primitive soaps (A British artisan soap and bath product maker) last Autumn and did a fair bit of shopping there for Christmas last year and it seems an ideal candidate for the second of my Favourite Things Friday posts to clue you in on potential Christmas goodies or treats for yourself.

Midnight marauder
Midnight Marauder Soap yes, you see brown sugar and foot prints in this Harry Potter inspired soap

It may come as shock to creator of Future Primitive Soaps, Tiggy Fiander that I don't normally like hard soap.  In fact my dislike of hard soap is such that I can only remember three soaps in my history that I actually have liked: Apple Soap by the Body Shop a cult soap round my way as a teen, Hibiscus Soap Boots own brand which I bought to take on my first foreign holiday only to discover I loved it and it reminded me of the scent of Holiday. I'm still upset that I left the soap on the basin in the villa, as when I returned to the UK I discovered you couldn't get this soap any more for love nor money.  The third soap is 'Honey I shrunk the kids' by Lush. A friend put together a fab honey themed pressie for me some years back and this was one of the goodies. It was so lovely I got a bit OCD about it going back to wash my hands again and again to smell that gorgeous honey scent.

So you maybe wondering if I don't 'do' hard soap why I'm listing a soap maker in my Favourite Things Friday feature? Well,  there I was sat the other Autumn on Etsy (yes, if it wasn't for that site I'd be a lot better off - although not so fragrant smelling.) looking for artisan scents/toiletries. I wanted something that was hand made where the maker new and considered what they were putting into the goods. I confess this is not something I'm that bothered about normally. I just wanted to use some products that were a little less well known and a lot special.  Products using yummy essential oils rather than artificial chemical scents.  I stumbled across Future Primitive and ordered a couple of perfume samples. One was Rook and Raven. Now if I'd paid someone a fortune to distill the magical scent of Christmas and turn it into a signature scent just for me this is what it would smell like. I was so blown away by this complex and layered scent I immediately ordered a full size bottle and it is my scent of choice through out winter.  It also prompted me to leave this feed back on Etsy:

I bought a sample of this oil recently and have to go back for the full sized bottle. I just love this scent. It really gets my imagination going. Whenever I wear it I am transported to a magical rambling old house in the middle of Christmas. I can smell the yummy cake batter they're whipping up in the big old kitchen; the aroma of mulled wine ready to serve to guests on the hall table; the scent of snow on velvet cloaks of travellers; the oranges being placed - complete with green leaves in the bottom of the children's stockings and the faded scents of the ladies perfumes on the ball gowns hung in the old oak armoires. This scent changes throughout the day and lasts on my skin longer than most perfumes, yet at the same time it's pleasantly subtle and not a bit cloying. Thank you!

Rook and Raven goodies
A selection of Rook and Raven goodies past and present. The latest I've to try is the body whip. I use the empty bath grains packet to scent my build in wardrobes. 

I bought some soap for a friend Christmas stocking too. But before long I was back for more soaps for presents and myself. Yes, hard soap for me! I loved watching Tiggy's You Tube videos of the soap making process and the designs of the soap make them that little bit special and ideal for stocking fillers or an alternative choice for hostess presents. Future Primitive certainly care about the blends they create and the ingredients they make their products from.

Future Primitive has seasonal releases of products so there is always something new to try in the shop and her new packaging looks modern and fresh.  When I first started buying from Future Primitive I was disappointed there was no body cream, so was over the moon when I saw this has been added to the range. It's gorgeous and thick and rubs in to leave super soft, subtly scented skin.

Future Primitive goodies
Strawberry patch body whip from the summer release along with some scent samples and the latest soap sample for me to try lemonade lounger. 

I'm loving the sound of the Yule release with lots of Dickensian inspired goodies meaning their are scents to appeal to everyone including males.  I'm pretty keen to try Chocolatier.

You can find the Future Primitive Website here they're also on Etsy here.  Goodies sometimes sell out pretty darn quickly so you may want to run, not walk over to the shop.  You can also find Future Primitive on Facebook here or sign up for the newsletter on their website to get further information on new products releases and discounts too!

Right, that's me done - I'm off for a bath maybe using this new glacial bubble bar

P1110092  and I maybe some time...
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