Bits and Bobs…

I am feeing a bit more settled today, so part of the anxiety must have been F going back to school.  I’m not entirely sure why as despite the odd off day he quite enjoys going, I think it’s more the frantic mornings and school runs; we have really enjoyed the more relaxed start to the day over Summer.

So, I seem to be running out of everything at once at the moment.  I sent off a Linen Mouse yesterday (I love the boy version of these) and now only have one left in the grey Asha print, yet another thing to add to my ever extending list of things to do.

On packing said mouse, I had no tags ready so I spent some time in the evening getting a new batch beaded and threaded (phew, one to tick off!).

I decided to reduce my list a bit more this morning by making a start  on the new Christmas Birds.

As written in my recent Holiday post, I am very eager to get on in the mornings and I find it best to work on kitchen table projects whilst M sleeps/bike rides so I keep my impatience at bay.  The boys are generally happy to play and watch TV and I bring down some of my ‘work in progress’ boxes, these usually involve cutting or hand sewing, things that can be packed back up easily or stopped if the boys need attention (I love these stacking boxes from Ikea, I have quite a collection now as they help me keep organised).

I also don’t like to waste any leftovers, many of my designs come about from using up these pieces.  It’s a sad but true fact that I have zipbags full of snippets of felt waiting for their moment, but I enjoy working this way, I like the challenge of designing with these remnants in mind.

Above is my felt flower box, which was a way of using scraps left from the Bright/Christmas Birds and ended up as Blossom Egg Cosies (I have many other projects in mind for these beaded flowers, including the suggested Tea Cosy for next year).

M is back from his bike ride and we are off to look at bunk beds for the boys today so time to pack up the boxes and get the boys dressed and ready 🙂

Where did the time go….?

Half term has flown by, I had so many plans most of which have fallen by the wayside but I am a bit over excited by some of our developments.

We are now the proud owners of shed and a decent sized on at that.  Make no mistake, this is not some lovely insulated hideaway for crafting but a place to ‘dump’ all our garden gear and the boys toys that strewn the lawn all year round.  As I may have mentioned before we have a slight stuff verses space problem (okay, mainly MY stuff) that makes our house a little crowded at times so any extra storage is more than welcome.  I should mention it will be a nice shade of ‘lavender’ not the Tango tan it arrives with once stained up.

The shed has come just in time for the (well over due) floor leveling in the living room.  I have waited years, literally, for this and in the meantime have lived with nasty cheap plastic flooring over mouldy ancient lino tiles, for those who think I exaggerate note the photo above – nasty!  Now, after some thick tar like ‘do not use in a domestic setting’ sealing we have had the floor leveled and in a week we’ll have proper wooden flooring over proper underfloor heating, I am so excited I can hardly wait.

Apart from moving furniture about and keeping kids off drying floors I have found a little time to work through yet more open projects.

I am really keen to get everything finished as I’m already thinking about Christmas, yes, yes, I know it’s Summer right now but realistically the big ‘C’ is my busiest time of year and I need to start making stock early, I have new fabric waiting in the wings and plenty of ideas but really want to clear all open projects first.

Right, need to dash as it’s also F’s Birthday this week so I have party bags to organise and then the living room to paint before the new flooring arrives.  So many things, so little time 🙂

Bunny Love…

It’s been one of those days today, I woke, did the school runs, did my run (I’m getting a lot better and have dropped most of the intervals but would love to see a bit of weight loss, hey-ho) bathed then arrived downstairs knowing I only had 1 hour before picking Mr C up.  As always, I had soooo many jobs I wanted to do and struggled to decide which ones to attack first, I feel like I’m treading water at the moment but my pyjamas are running out of air quicker than I can blow them back up! (do they still do that in swimming exams?)

I am so far behind in my blog reading I have stopped commenting, the garden is taking up a lot of my time and I haven’t even had a chance to re-read through the comments from the Giveaway.  I realised I never thanked everyone for taking the time to drop by and say ‘hello’, it really is a pleasure to read what has been written, so…huge thank you!

Back to the subject at hand, I have been lapse in many areas and am trying to catch-up, I always feel a lot better as I tick of the mental list in my head so I have pushed myself to complete some open projects and hurrah! I have finished the latest batch of Bunny Lavender Bags.  I think they will be the last as I’m out of wool serge and much as I love them they are quite time consuming.

They are available online at The Shop and also on Folksy.

I am not only having bunny love at the moment but the Ellie fabric from Michael Miller is my new favourite so I finished the first batch of Lavender Birds in new colours starting with this

I have changed the ‘tweed’ wings to linen but otherwise they are to the old design, it’s one I really like and I have a number of these hanging around the house.

Right, I had better get back to the list and to reduce it before M’s next US trip, which is imminent ash cloud and strike permitting, or I really will need more than a pair of PJ’s to keep me afloat!

Loving the post today…

It’s an odd day, this morning whilst dropping F off I found myself talking to another Mother whilst standing in a blizzard of snow, by the time I got home it had stopped and now the sun is shinning and there is no evidence of this mornings ‘cold snap’.  Mr C is off Pre-School again as he is on the end of bug number two, I noted this morning that in this whole term of C starting Pre-School, something regular readers will know I have waited for, for 5 YEARS!!!! I have in fact had only 2 mornings child free as on the others one of the boys has been off sick.  It means my plans to get a bit fitter and thinner by rowing and running have not exactly worked out, never mind though, my time will come.

I am waiting on supplies needed to finish off projects, is it just me, of is there nearly always something missing?  In this case it was a long hole punch for mounting the spring birds on their cards, I have a number of hole punches, none of which were right so had to buy yet another.  I found one perfect for the job made by the Woodware Craft Collection (manufactured in my home town of Skipton no less) only to then have to order removable stickers for holding the hanging threads into place.

I was, therefore, waiting patiently this morning for the postman to come with my stickers, which didn’t arrive.  Instead I was much cheered to find parcels containing beads, Country Living and – hurrah! – my very first delivery from Graze.com.  I get a bit over excited about food that doesn’t come from my fridge, it’s not that I don’t have and can make good food but I get very bored at times.  M finds it weird that I get so over excited about ‘eating out’ at the weekends, even if it’s just a Pret sandwich, but the thrill of eating something I fancy, on a whim that someone else has made is pretty high for me.  Soooo, the idea of a little box of nibbles arriving in the post is fabulous, even though I could buy the same for less money (£2.99/box), it’s the fact that someone else has selected and delivered it that works.

It hasn’t lasted long, I’ve eaten the nuts whilst writing this post and C has helped out with the ‘Dairy Free Chocolate Buttons’ and the ‘Dried Strawberries’, still there are some nice Olives for a snack tonight.

I am working on a few new designs, I’ve been stitching felt blossom, something I started back in Autumn but have not yet evolved from paper to finished product.  There is still a lot of tweaking to be done, but it’s getting there!

Right, off to plant February seeds as the sun is out even if it is a tad nippy.

And the winner is…

Drum roll please…..

Shelley, as you left the 3rd comment, Yeah! There will be a little mouse with matching bird on it’s way to you (I will email you for your details).

Thanks everyone who left a comment, I found out about loads of new blogs to add to my reader list and it’s nice to see some new people found their way here to read my random mutterings.

Must also apologise for some really dodgy photos recently (the above being and example).  I envy other peoples blogs that contain such lovely images, I have good intentions but find the light and more often than not the kids sabotage my attempts!  As an example I spent a lot of yesterday morning trying to get a good shot of the new spring felt birds as the light outside was perfect for good colour without much shadow, but with the boys using the tripod as a robot and the light changing quicker than I could rush back out to take the shot it didn’t work out.  Oh well, the best laid plans and all that…

Right, sorry for the quick post but we have plans, I am making the most of our Saturday with only a few bad coughs and an ear infection between us, believe me that’s the best it’s been for a while!

I just put this photo in as I am loving the new Moo.

Nice and tidy….not!

Before I get into this blog post, huge thanks everyone who has left a comment on the Blog Birthday Giveaway, it’s really lovely (gush, gush) to hear from you all, still plenty of time to enter and win a cute Linen Mouse if you haven’t left a comment already.

Thanks, also, for your get well wishes for the boys, there are both back on tip top form and it’s great to have everyone healthy for a change (cross finger & toes do a hop, turn around etc).  The relay of sickness in this house has meant both plenty of time to sew (as I’ve been stuck in the kichen/living room attending to the every whim of the boys) and yet no time at all, if that makes sense.  I have found myself standing around, rapping my fingernails but cannot leave the area to come upstairs and use the machine or my studio as quite a lot of cuddling and general Mumminess has been required.  So I have spent this time prepping projects and hand sewing, I could have cleaned the kitchen, of course, but I would much rather sew!

I took a quick photo this morning before starting a general ‘tidy up’ to show you how messy things were getting

it’s like a Jenga tower of work, I tried to remove some paper from the bottom of the ‘pile’ and everything started to topple, still it’s all back upstairs in the studio now and I have made a little order of the mayhem.

I’ve mainly been sewing beady little eyes onto the remainder of the spring birds, they just need to be mounted on cards and photographed ready for the shop (I am waiting for a new long armed hole punch to arrive).  These have proved so much fun to make I have plenty more planned

I really enjoy picking the ribbon colours for the tails, I think the number of small jobs involved making up the birds is part of the attraction, I can spread the work over a number of days and it’s easy to pick up if I only have half an hour or so.

I do now have a large bag full of the off cuttings of felt that I can’t manage to throw away.  I feel sure they will come in handy for something, the yellow have already been used for birdy beaks and I have a new project in mind for small circles cut from some of the larger trimmings.

Right, I need to get back to work, my sister has just invited herself over to stay as she has no hot water or heating at the moment (she lives 5 mins away and generally prefers to ‘drop in’ around the time she knows we are eating!) so I have bedding to change and plenty more tidying to do.  I did want to mention I have had problems leaving comments on Blogspot blogs, it’s all sorted now but please don’t think I am being rude by not saying, “hello”.

Happy New Decade!!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year.  We had a relaxing time, the boys were suitably over excited and the house became a mass of paper, toys, too much food and over active children, so just perfect.  I insisted on some of my childhood traditions, such as Christmas pyjamas for the boys, they chose bat ones with eyes that glow in the dark.  I let the adults-get-dressed-and-have-a-glass-of-champagne before opening their presents tradition slide as it was just us, in fact in German style M and I opened some of ours on Christmas Eve.

Among MANY other things, Santa brought the boys Playmobil, something I have been resisting due to all the small parts.  I have already hoovered up most of the tiny plastic gold coins from the Pirate Ship by accident so I’m not sure how long the little bits will last and I don’t remember a marathon Krypton Factor style assembly that took me the best part of the morning when I was a kid!  Still, the boys were happy.

I did very well and my not-so-subtle hint for a Jemima Lumley necklace weren’t in vain, I was also the lucky recipient of some nice new photography gear including a 7 in 1 WexPro Reflector.  I wouldn’t think to buy this for myself but M is mildly obsessed with photography equipment and I can already see how useful it’s going to be for photographing shop stock (although there is the comedy routine of watching me try to get it back into it’s packaging in-between use).

Even though I packed the sewing machine up,  I couldn’t resist a little ordering of new materials

including beads and felt for spring birds (which will be similar to the Christmas ones), plus some new postcards and Moo Mini’s which I’ll photograph on arrival.

Over Christmas we wall mounted our old flat TV in the studio/spare room above the rowing machine.  I refuse to allow a TV near any of the main bedrooms, but struggle to make myself row as I get bored, frankly, so I hope the TV might help.  It also swings around facing the spare bed which the boys like to play on, an old Victorian Brass one which used to belong to my Mother and it makes a perfect boat/spaceship, which is exactly what we used it for when we were children.  The bonus is it has allowed me to work in the studio on occasion with relative peace, especially when M and the boys lounged on bed watching Christmas TV or reading whilst I pottered at my bench.

As a result the table surface is now covered in half finished birds (I am waiting on new labels ordered from Tanners to arrive before I can make up the tails).  I used the excuse that empty stackable glass Gu pudding pots make great bead containers as a reason to eat a few extra over the Festive season – tee, hee.

We had a quiet New Year, just nice food and good wine.  I’m not one for thinking too much about the year change to be honest, I don’t make lists (perhaps I should, I like reading everyone elses?) but I am quite excited about C starting Pre-school this year as it will be my first regular time alone for nearly 5 years.  Amongst other things I hope to have more time for The Linen Cat although I’m aware a few hours twice a week will disappear in a flash.

I also wanted to take the opportunity, whilst it’s on my mind to thank everyone who reads this blog and those who take the time to say ‘hello’ and leave such positive comments.  I’ve been blogging for nearly a year and really do enjoy it.  Also, in case it’s not clear, I read everyone that reads me (that I know of at least!) but through Google Reader so I am a bit useless at leaving comments, sorry.  And just for the record, I’m sure you all know this,  I only tend to write about and photograph the ‘fun’ bits, there are whole areas of our house that look like a tip and I frequently get many things wrong.  This is not intended to be misleading or anything, I just write about what I feel like at the time, which tends to be the nice bits of my life.

Right enough waffle, M is doing DIY so my job this afternoon is to keep the boys from nailing themselves to the wall or cutting their arms off, best go as I have heard, “No, Charlie, don’t touch” a few times in the last few minutes – oops!

Christmas Decorations…

Just in case you’ve been asleep and hadn’t noticed that Christmas is practically here, I though I’d share some photos of our Christmas house, past and present to get you in the Festive mood.  As I trawled through photos, I couldn’t help but notice 1. what a really bad camera we used to have hence the grainy photos and 2. how my taste hasn’t changed much over the years and I tend to stick with the same formulas.

The only photos of our last cottage is this one of the stairs (is it worrying that I photograph my Christmas decorations??!….probably!).

We were in the ‘new’ house for Christmas for the first time last year, despite owning it for 3 years.  In between there was a Christmas in Yorkshire and an extended stay at my sisters up the road whilst our house was stripped back to just the walls which went from from 6 weeks to 6 months….whilst very pregnant and with a then 18 month old Felix…less said about that the better I think.

Note the Jan Constantine union jack cushion gracing our chair.  The bits and bobs on a stretched wire on the window (I use the kind people hang net curtains from, stretched into hooks either side so it can easily be removed and stored for next year) has been a standard Christmas decoration for me for a few years, the boys like choosing which ‘things’ from the Christmas box get to hang there.   The cross stitch cards above come out every year as my Gran made them, she stitched nearly 90 every year for all her friends and family, starting in January with the next batch, I kid you not.

This year the kitchen has it’s usual white, bright look

(I emptied and cleaned all the jars as they were getting a bit dusty), even the cake had a bit of a silver and white thing going on due to a lack of coloured icing

and I sprayed the seed heads from Allium Purple Sensation that I have been storing in the greenhouse silver

you just throw them at the tree, after removing the stalks and get wonderful silver pompoms that stick all on their own.  The bright touch in the kitchen (there is always a bright touch against the whiteness) comes from the famous Mouse Advent Calender.

The tree looks remarkably like last years, being in the same place but this time with the addition of the new Fairy and a mixture of the Red Robins and Gold and Purple birds.

They work really well, I think and go very nicely with the wonderful red pompom’s that I bought some years ago from Pedlars, one of my best Christmas buys.

You may also notice some biscuits on the tree, I make these with the boys (to a Nigella recipe) and it’s always funny to see that there are little bites out of many of them after a few days!  I don’t even attempt chocolate decorations as they wouldn’t last a second.  The floor still hasn’t been laid so it’s our third year of cheap lino and no skirting…this is a half done house but we are getting there.  The picture behind is a signed Jamie Hewlett Gorillaz print, bought for me by husband as he knows I’m a Jamie Hewlett fan.  As you can see I have very eclectic taste, old watercolours and etchings sit happily along side modern work in our house, as does antique furniture next to modern design.

The last shot is of Doris/Glenda/Tammy sitting atop the tree, at the end of the day my Gran’s original paper version really is getting very fragile so from now on this is our new tree topper.

For anyone who hasn’t decorated yet (yeah, right!) I hope that gets you in the mood.

Christmas is coming…

Not sure I’ve mentioned it, but my husband is German, a Berliner in fact and one of the bonuses are the lovely packages we get sent at Christmas.  We received this fabulous box the other day

stuffed full of German Christmas food, which was superb timing as I usually order some from the German Deli (I pretend it’s to make M feel at home over Christmas but as he’s a ba-humbug and hates anything festive, it’s really for me).  In fact a few years ago I didn’t need to as Sainsburys sold ‘Dominosteine’ which are M’s favourites, they are like a small square jaffa cake with an added layer of marzipan.

This is only half the haul, I am slightly embarrassed to note how many we have already eaten – oops! – oh well, it is the Festive Season after all…

We have also unpacked the ‘famous’ (well, in our house) Mouse Advent Calender which my Mother-in-law puts together each year for the boys.  It’s genius, made out of a 24 perfect mini hand knitted socks, each with a number that hangs on the appropriate pegs.

Once opened they contain a sweet for each of the boys (and sometimes us) and every now and again a laminated mouse picture, which means we have to grab the ‘mouse bag’ and look for the corresponding presents.

The mouse bag has a beautiful embroidered panel stitched to it and pictures of said mouse.  There is always a corresponding card, with a message for the boys (from Mr Mouse) and explanations of the different wrappings (sometimes, we also get presents).  The big finale arrives in German style on Christmas Eve with the main presents.  I am always amazed at the amount of hard work involved, it must take ages to set up and the boys love it, we are very lucky.

The painters left yesterday, hurrah!  Nice to have the house back, still quite a bit of painting to do and flooring to lay but it means I can clean and tidy, ready for putting up the Christmas decorations this weekend.  To get me in the mood I started on the kitchen with these cute glass birds from Ikea.

Although I am quite traditional with my colours in the main rooms, I quite like black and silver in the kitchen and it was a good excuse to hang one of my Blackbirds from the cupboard doors.

And the winner is…

Anne of Andamento.  Congrats Anne, there will be a Plum Fairy and some Christmas Birds winging their way to you Monday.

Thank you everyone who left a comment, I enjoyed doing a giveaway and think this will become a regular item on my blog.  As you can see we did this the old fashioned way with the help of my glamorous assistant, Felix and my old bowler hat.  Sorry for the awful photos but this was, as you can appreciate, a ‘live’ situation and as you may be able to see in the background we are in the middle of the pre Christmas toy culling session which is a little stressful as it largely involves me putting things in a box and the boys taking them out again.  Has to be done though, so best get back on with it.

Thanks again for your lovely comments!