Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Beadily beautiful

The roses were a 'sorry you had to work on a Saturday whilst I got to play golf' present from Rob. Ahhh. I much prefer pink roses to red, despite having had red for my wedding bouquet. That decision was partly based on the winter theme of the wedding though, and partly because I do love red. (I may have mentioned that before)

Continuing with the pink theme I finally managed to aquire some memory wire on a shopping trip with Dad yesterday-hurrah! It really is clever stuff, and saves me having to worry about extension chains on bracelets or length of elastic bracelets. After all, wrists, like waists, differ MASSIVELY. I have very small wrists (the only part of my body that is slim..apart from my ear lobes) so it would be daft to measure all the bracelets I make based on my own.I also bought pink beads. And green ones. Hmm, and a few turquoise ones too. Here are the results...

There is a pink theme but only because I am going to send two of them to my cousins for christmas, and the others will hopefully be sold. I did get quite carried away, sat on the sofa making bracelets and watching repeats of Midsomer Murders. I really don't understand people who say they think daytime television is rubbish..Midsomer Murders is fab! (although I wouldn't want to live there, obviously) would be quite a good place to work though, I imagine there would never be a shortage in houses to sell with all of those murders going on. I digress...

See how you can wrap them around your arm? Good eh? I like the colours on this one and am quite into silver at the moment.

I really like turquoise but I think its quite a summery colour so may not be as popular as the silvery/purpley ones.

This is my favourite.

We are going to St Ives in 2 more sleeps. I can hardly wait. The washing and ironing is done. The books and knitting are packed. The wellies for surf walking are by the front door. I can almost taste the sea air ....

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Dasher Dancer Prancer Vixen Comet Cupid Donner Blitzen...

These are this years Christmas cards...coming soon to a doormat near you (if I have your address, that is!) I am yet to invest in a 'Merry Christmas' stamp and not too sure whether to bother or not. I quite like the minimalist look of these reindeer, with their shiny noses. It is quite unfortunate that I only had very shiny silver noses, not red ones. I do quite like the contrast though.

I have been wowed by the amount of bloggers 'buying handmade' for christmas. I have struggled so far in that all of the things I have bought handmade I have wanted to keep for myself. That's not really the idea, is it? But I am consoling myself by making lots of presents myself, in the way of jewellery...just have to convince the boys in my life to start wearing bracelets or get theirs ears pierced. Can't see either, somehow.

Maybe I should just stick with the cards for now!

Wishing you all a happy weekend x

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Sexy Pink

Just a quickie this evening. These are my latest creations...what do you think? I didn't really consider myself to be a 'pink person' until fairly recently. When I look around our home though there is, in all honesty, quite a lot of pink. These beads remind me of sweeties. The bracelet is winging its way to a friends daughter who has always admired the 'grown up' silver bracelets. This one is stretchy and a bit more practical for little wrists. It is purely coincidental that the earrings match, and a result of bead fiddling!

I am still psyching myself up to go live on ETSY...soon, soon, be patient!!

I think I mentioned a while ago that I am going through a green phase at the moment. (as well as pink, obviously). My lovely Dad has offered to decorate our living room whilst we are in St Ives in a couple of weeks time. Cue a mad dash to the DIY shop who were very kindly offering 30% off EVERYTHING. Try as I might I couldn't find anything else to tempt me other than paint charts unfortunately.

I was instantly attracted to the green shades on all 8 colour charts I had. The names are so inspiring..and also a little odd. What a job, thinking up names for paint colours!! Why do we never meet these people at dinner parties? (I never go to dinner parties, is that my answer? Possibly) I was particularly drawn to 'Sexy Pink'....for the bedroom, perhaps?

Our living room is quite long as it was originally two rooms and has since been knocked into one. We are lucky in that we have high ceilings, picture and dado rails and two chimney breasts. I have been brave and instead of chickening out and opting for a safe green have chosen...drum roll please...

Celtic Forest. I tried to take a photo to inspire you but alas, it looked like sludge. It isn't sludge coloured, but in fact a lovely deep (ish) khaki green with a hint of yellow. Hmm.I shall just have to take a photo when it is finished, as I suspect I really am not selling it to you. The woodwork will be white, and above the dado rail we are going for Orchid White. I can already picture how lovely it will all look, and all in time for Christmas too!

I am very excited about our holiday as I have got cravings for the sea and sand, and am keen to see our beachfront home for the week. I am also very excited about coming home. Sad.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Knit one, drop one...

Rob is late home tonight so I raced home and jumped in the bath. Bliss. After toast and marmite (single girls tea) and the lighting of delicious vanilla scented candles the plan was/ still is to crack on with my scarf. This is a newly taken up hobby from a LONG time ago. When I was about 12 years old I was in a knitting club at school. A tiny group of us would squirrel ourselves away every Tuesday lunchtime in the attic rooms of the school with Mrs Grinnel, the maths teacher. I could not stand the woman as a teacher (cue cold sweats before any maths lesson) but she turned almost human in the quiet secret of the knitting club and had much patience with clumsy wannabe knitters. I knitted an amazing yellow teddy which I was most proud of at the time, but think I became more interested in boys after that...
So fast forward several years. I spend a lot of time reading in amazement some fabulous blogs of proper crafty people (as opposed to pretend ones like me) who dedicate hours to knitting, sewing, cooking, making things in general. It is no secret that I am appallingly bad with a needle and thread. It would not be an exaggeration to admit that I struggle to sew on a button. (I am great with a hot iron and wonderweb though- and have been known to sellotape up stray hems before work in the morning...shhh!) So although I am extremely pleased with the cooking and jewellery making side of things I felt the need to branch out. On my day off last week I went to the local knitting establishment and begged for help from a very lovely lady who advised me on all things woolly. When I got home I realised that although I remembered how to knit in a basic roundabout fashion, I couldn't actually remember how to cast on the stitches. Hmm. The free leaflet in my shopping bag was useless. What to do?
Utube is a wonderful thing. I googled 'casting on' and found an amazing video from an american girl who explained in idiot proof language, just for me, what to do. RESULT! two minutes later I was raring to go.
I am now nearly at the end of my three balls of wool and the scarf is still very short. I decided that I knew better than the very expert knitting shop lady, and instead of casting on her suggested 20 stitches, decided to opt for a greedy 30 instead. (my neck is quite chubby). I will have to buy more wool on Sunday but until then I shall plod on until I reach the it wrong that I now have 32 stitches?Hmmm....

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Feeling Souper

I have been ill in bed for a day or so this week and generally feeling pretty rubbish. Whether it is the time of year or a low immune system or both I don't know. There are generally several things that help me feel better when i am feeling poorly though.

1) My bed. I do love sleeping anyway, but when I feel ill, being wrapped up in a nice warm squashy duvet with only my (slightly bizarre) thoughts for company helps me feel better. The sofa just doesn't compare, and I cannot be doing with dragging duvets downstairs and onto sofas. That just doesn't work for me somehow.

2) A hot bubble bath. I remember when I still lived at home (I still class Mum and Dads house as 'at home') and was ill and wanted a bath, I remember Mum always told me to make sure I didn't lock the bathroom door. I think she had visions of me passing out. Even now when I am ill and about to climb in the bath I make sure the door is ajar, remembering her words. Not that there was anyone at home to scrape me up off the bathroom floor mid-week...

3) Marmite on toast. Works every time. Although I must have been really poorly this week as I just couldn't be bothered to make it. Oh dear. Instead I survived on Innocent Smoothie and handfuls of granola breakfast cereal.

4) Magazines. These are generally in the bed with me, scattered across the floor next to the bed or stacked up in a pile. Or a combination of all three. When I am ill I just cannot be bothered with reading novels or 'proper books' as my concentration span just isn't up to it.

5) Freshly washed hair. I wonder if I am the only person on earth who feels like complete s**t and still washes her hair in the morning. Possibly. I have mad hair in the mornings and knowing it looks mad just depresses me and makes me feel even poorlier. I don't bother drying/ straightening it or any of that malarkey, but it being freshly washed helps me feel better.

6) Clean bedding. Obviously I wasn't up to washing the bedlinen as well as my hair, but maybe I had a premonition of being ill, as I washed it all the day before I was ill. Clever eh?

7) This Morning. I am not ashamed to say that a bit of light entertainment makes me chuckle ever so slightly when I am laid up in bed. Phil and Fern are just the tonic for ill beings in my opinion....but I don't intend to advertise the fact too much!

8) Soup. Unfortunately I really wasn't up to making soup but did make up for it a couple of days later and made my roasted vegetable soup extraordinaire!! Dad dug up the most enormous parsnip from the allotment that I have ever seen. Here is a picture of it next to tesco organic parsnip. Pah!! Pathetic specimen!

So for the roasted vegetable soup I chopped up the parsnip, 2 sweet potatoes, a big red chilli, 2 red onions and half a butternut squash into chunks and then throw them in some olive oil and put them on a tray in the oven for about 20-30 minutes until they started to crisp up...

Then discard the chilli and scrape the vegetables into a casserole dish, covering them with boiling water from the kettle. Bring to the boil and add a couple of large spoonfuls of red lentils. Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes and then liquidise. Yum. The soup has got a bit of a kick to it from the chilli, so if you aren't a spicy person then leave the chilli out! I also added a handful of leeks to this recipe just before I added the lentils because I had one from the allotment.

It really is healthy stuff, and the recipe is well worth a try with whatever vegetables you may have.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Beads Bracelets and Cakes (or BBC as Rob suggested)

I went to the Rock and Gem show in Cheltenham this morning, as recommended by the lady who taught the jewellery workshop I went on some weeks ago. I was quite cynical about the whole thing as couldn't understand why a rock and gem show would sell beads...surely they would sell umm, rocks and the odd gem?

I was quite disappointed, there were two small rooms with stands, and lots of both rocks and gems..and a few joss sticks burning. I felt like a student again. I did find a couple of stands with some interesting beads to buy though, and because they sell in bulk my friend and I were able to split the cost and the beads which was rather clever of us.

When I got home and had thrown a load of washing in (my contribution to the daily chores) I realised we had a bizarre number of lemons in the house. Lemons are one of those things I tend to always chuck into the basket at the supermarket as they will 'come in useful'. Mostly for gin and tonics, although I prefer as an ode to Nigella I made her lemon cake.

I have even allowed Rob to have two pieces, as usually it disappears to work and is never seeen again. It did sink in the middle a bit, but she does mention that sinking is likely, so that made me feel happier. One day I shall be a domestic goddess!

And because I then realised that we also had lots of eggs that needed using up I made some fairy cakes...these will definitely be sent to work to keep up morale amongst the troops.

They are far from perfect unfortunately as the cases were a bit squashed up in the muffin tin. Oh well. I have it on good authority from the husband that they taste good. I can't see us having any need for dinner tonight, somehow.

I have had a fiddle about with the beads I bought this morning and I am trying to branch out into different types of bracelets now. A friend of mine gave me a bag of battered old necklaces to pull apart and have a play with and I noticed how lovely the settings and wirings were on some of them. So these are my latest designs, due to be modelled this week. I am quite into green and turquoise at the moment, hence the colour scheme of choice.

I haven't spent long with the red beads which were also purchased, but I have lots of ideas milling around, so for the time being....

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Love to loathe..

There are lots of things in life I feel I should like but don't. Probably the easiest (and possibly least controversial) list is certain foods. As a child I was an incredibly fussy eater and I have vivid memories of being invited to peoples houses as a family for dinner, and whilst they tucked into roast beef, I would sit there with a marmite sandwich (mmm) and a pile of carrot sticks (mmm). Whilst both of these food items are still high on my list of firm favourites, I am pleased to say that my tastes have become slightly more sophisticated as I have matured.(Note that I didn't say 'grown up' in there..) So here is my list of things I wish I liked or at least think I should like. But don't.

1) Tuna. Yes, I hate it. The smell makes me think of cat food. When I was a nanny one little girl I looked after was particularly keen on tuna lasagne. She hated me, so in an attempt to make amends I decided to spend an afternoon making her favourite tea. Picture the scene, me clad in an apron, rubber gloves and with a clothes peg on my nose. I stood over the sink with a can opener and drained the brine off. Yuck. The lasagna was a success. What I hadn't thought about was the fact that she then wanted it every week for the rest of the year I looked after her. Damn.

2) Olives. I really wish I could like them, and I have tried! I think they look so pretty, piled up in bowls at the deli, and they are obviously the trendy bar snack of choice these days. I just can't figure out why though! They are just....bleurgh....Every time one is offered to me I politely take one, roll it around in my mouth (I can cope with that part) it's the biting into it that I can't do. I am shuddering as I write this.

3) Mashed potato...please read Nancys thoughts on the subject, they are mirrored with my

4) Lager. I would love to get home from work on a hot sunny day and grab a little stubby bottle of beer from the fridge and go and sit in the garden and enjoy it. Nope, it aint happening. I hate the taste sooo much. I have tried it with lime, lemonade, etc.etc. but still can't do it. I am not a cheap date as a result, as am instead strictly a gin and tonic/ large glass of white wine kind of girl. Lager would be great for our camping trips too, as I am sure that everyone must snigger at me sat there with a bottle of sauvignon blanc, chilling in my ice box. Do I look bothered?!

5) Roast Beef. Please stop with the sharp intakes of breath. I just don't like it, ok? It reminds me of sitting at the dining table as a small child on a Sunday, chewing the same piece over and over again, willing someone in authority to tell me I could leave the table. I dislike the texture, the colour, and the taste. Is it wrong to say that I love a good ribeye steak though? Oooh, and yorkshire puddings, yum..

Please note that this list is in progress, and as I obviously have no desire to photograph platefuls of mashed potatoes, olives and tuna (shudder) I am instead going to leave you with this...

A delightfully content and snoozy Montgomery. Please come home soon, we miss you xxxx

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Another day of RED

I have been lucky enough to have a day off work today (legit, honest, I am yet to use up my 'skive' day)
I have been busy trying to sort out out third bedroom into an oasis of calm, instead of clutter. I have so far managed to fill two bags of rubbish, two of clothing and another two of general charity shop 'stuff'. The room is gradually becoming clearer, and I can even see the floor! The stuff I cannot bare to be parted from is all of my old college files and projects. Even though I am sure I will never use it again there is a huge box full of assignments that I sweated and cried over for two long years, and they have been safely tucked away until I am feeling a little bit braver. (or we move to a bigger house...)

One thing I did find which raised a big smile was a collection of childrens books that I 'acquired' from my study years, and being red, this one in particular stuck out like a sore thumb...

I learnt to read with these books, and they are from a series called 'One, two, three and away!' This one is about Roger Red Hat. I also have Billy Blue Hat, Johnny Yellow Hat and Mr Brown. I loved these books as a kid, and used them to teach my kindergarten class several years ago as well. Happy Days.

Given the amount of red stuff in my house I think I may have taken it all a little bit too much to heart...talking of which...

Whilst tidying up and straightening the very small number of rooms in our house I came across an obscene amount of hearts. They tend to hang on door handles, from hooks, anywhere really. I think I was going for a country cottage look. Maybe one is a selection...

If I learnt to sew I could make them and save a small fortune perhaps.

The other red thing I had to photgraph today is the seed head from my Magnolia tree in the garden. Dad rescued this tree about 4 years ago from a garden centre where it was on its last legs (roots?) and it has flourished in the garden. We have had more and more flowers each year, but this is the first year that these pods have arrived. They started off bright green and fluffy, and have gradually changed into this....

I'm not quite sure whether to leave them, or wait for them to dry and try and replant them, maybe if anyone has any suggestions they could let me know.

I came across a book on floristry this afternoon whilst tidying up one of the book shelves. I did a course in floristry a couple of years ago but haven't done much since. I had an inspiring flick through the book and whizzed out to tesco to buy the cheapest flowers I could find. I am really not a fan of chrysanths, but they do last a long time so I fiddled around for a while and came up with this. God they do smell awful!!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Feeling Fruity

Today started off with me lying snuggled up under a very toasty duvet and seriously considering skiving off work. This is unlike me (the skiving, not contemplating it, I do that most mornings) and as the clock ticked and the snooze alarm kept giving me another 9 minutes, and I bargained with myself over the merits of staying at home (TV, reading, sofa, toast, warm baths,surfing the internet, etc.)V going to work (quiet at the moment, grumpy clients, even grumpier solicitors). Due to the burden of guilt I knew I would feel if I didn't turn up I eventually succumbed to the shower. For one reason and another I have had a rubbish week and sometimes you just need a duvet day. I have held that day back in readiness!(possibly next friday...)
However! I dragged myself into work and am glad I did. To start with I made lovely strong cups of tea and then we had our usual morning meeting. A girl from an office upstairs came down with slices of very yummy Guinness cake slathered in very thick chocolate. Because I was still feeling grumpy at this stage I politely declined. By the time she had got to the top of the stairs the voices in my head had started...

"Are you insane? She offered you chocolate covered CAKE woman! Get her back and say yes please!!"
So I did. Oh yummy, it was so very good, far better than my attempt at the same recipe last year, fortunately.
I did have grumpy clients and solicitors but all that was made slightly better by the delivery of a bottle of home brewed damson wine from one of my clients. ( a non-grumpy one, obviously)

It tastes like ribena and is very very gluggable. In fact I have a glass next to me as I type. Well it is friday!

So by now I have had chocolate guinness cake and home brewed damson wine. I do think homegrown/made/brewed things are so much lovelier than anything you can buy. There is a real sense of effort that goes into these things which makes them so very satisfying, in my opinion.

The afternoon did drag by quite slowly, and being friday I was very pleased to leave work to go home. When I got home I had a Nancy shaped parcel on the mat. This was very exciting, as she sends GREAT parcels, always accompanied by a lovely postcard. The postcards take pride of place stuck around mirrors and pictures throughout the house. This parcel was the best yet...look!!

Isn't it fab?! I have sewing envy of Nancy, as she has a sewing machine and is very clever indeed. As someone who struggles to sew buttons on, I am in awe of this lady!! I am yet to decide where to put my strawberry, but am thinking possibly in the kitchen with my red things..but this....

(albeit it a bit blurry-sorry) is going to hang on my cupboard door in the bedroom. I haven't decided what to put in it yet, but no doubt I shall think of something. Thankyou somuch Nancy, you are a star! (check out her blog, it is the first one listed on the left.....)

After all of this excitement I had a long soak in the bath before dinner. And just to continue with the fruity theme of the day I indulged in Philosophys Raspberry Sorbet bubble bath. Bliss. I am so glad I didn't skive off...perfect end to what started off being rubbish but has ended up very nicely indeed.