Monday, 30 December 2013

Move Over Mary ...

Long before the marquees were erected, Paul and Mary were dusted off and 'soggy bottom' became a household term our family have gamely been competing with others in an annual tradition known as the 'cake off'. Around about October each year cookbooks are consulted and ingredients are mingled in an effort to produce a prize winning Christmas cake. Lots of winks, nods and nose tapping ensue and nobody is willing to share their personal recipe until the day. This year it was our turn to host and as well as the traditional Christmas cake the children had their own category - the Yule log.  After much food, fun and frivolity the cakes are dissected and  each take their turn to taste and anonymously vote for their favourite. 

The voting log
Straightforward yes? Aha but there would be no fun in that! Often this is the most corrupt part of the process whereby outrageous voting can occur on all sides. But this year - WE WON! So obviously no cheating occurred at all as I am quite willing to accept the mantle of best Christmas cake maker EVER (well at least in our house...for this year...!) 

The 'log off' was of a particularly high standard so we added artistic merit on top of flavour as a bonus section.


Other years have seen the addition of 'chutney off's', 'jam off's and 'wine off's' - and there is always the excited prediction of what we could do next year but will probably never get around to.  

 There were carols and games.

All in all the best time is had  - lots of friends, too much food and a significant amount of festive (ahem) spirit. Our very own family tradition - and without a soggy bottom in sight!

Hope you are all managing to enjoy what is important to you this year.



Monday, 23 December 2013

A Christmas Conundrum

As we rush headlong in to the festivities I would like to wish all of you a wonderful Christmas and leave you with this visual pun merrily assembled by Mr K. It took me three days, lots of bribery and a mini tantrum to solve so the best of luck.

Merry Christmas!



P.S. Thank you for all your best wishes for the fair - it was a quiet one but really enjoyable and nearly all of the bunnies found a new home!

Drumroll........ T'was the Night (knight) Before (in front of) Christmas ( a christmassy scene according to Mr K!) ... well done to Melody and any of you who managed to get anywhere near!


Thursday, 12 December 2013

Two by Two


The ornaments went in two by two


The Jingle Owls

and aprons too


The Christmas trees

The needlebooks

The Bunnies 

(with their funny looks)

And they all went travelling

Off to the Christmas fair!!!


Saturday, 7 December 2013

A Double Whammy Sandwich

It's December! How the hey did that happen?

The Frog Prince by Walter Crane

The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur - blink and it's gone. The craft fair is still pending (next Saturday to be precise - thank you so much for all the positive feedback!) so sleep has been punctuated with images from Pinterest and ideas way above my station. Jessie Dog has been to and fro from the vets with - shall we say - old lady issues. And somewhere in the middle of all this the word Christmas has been bandied about like a bee in a biscuit tin (I'm not sure where this simile has come from - I have never actually put a bee in a biscuit tin and would not recommend others to do so. Apologies to bee lovers everywhere).

Back to the sandwich. This one is made from a wonderful artisan loaf - perhaps sprinkled with seeds and with the texture of a soft cloud. The first slice came through the post last week. Marianne at Ladybird Diaries had organised a Christmas decoration swap and I had been paired up with  Amy at Love Made My Home. It's so rare these days to have lovely things through the post that I sat and stared at the package for a good ten minutes before opening. Inside was a gorgeous card and four neatly wrapped little bundles.

The first one really made me giggle - the most festive little robin popped out.

Next a beautifully stitched heart with my initial on the front - what a lovely thoughtful idea.

The other packages contained two crocheted trees with the most gorgeous buttons stitched on

Have you got a favourite button? I think mine is the blue one with the cream dashes around the edge.

Wonderful lovely things. Thank you so much Amy.

 To see the other part of this double you'll have to pop over to Amy's here as I was not at all organised enough to take some snaps myself!

Now to our filling. The best bit of a sandwich? The part you really look forward to as you bite through the outer layers. That is until you realise that something isn't quite right. Doubts start to set in and you question if you had checked the sell by date on the dressing, spotted the mould on the cheese or used the dogs fork to mash up the tuna. Something is wrong, there is definitely something off, off (don't worry I'm getting there) - Ofsted!! For those of you who are blissfully unaware an Ofsted inspection consists of several inspectors wandering around your establishment questioning your every move and observing your teaching, attitude and overall awareness of every bit of school data. The result is no sleep, forced grins and shameless bribery for the children to be at their best! Mr K's college got 'the call' a couple of weeks ago and so followed seven days of the above. Last weekend we were able to breathe a sigh of relief, raise a glass (or two) and say 'at least that's over with'. Little did we know. The relief lasted about forty eight hours then on Monday lunchtime staff at my school were all summoned to the staff room to be told that (you saw this coming didn't you?) - we too had had 'the call'. And so it began again. We've been double Ofstededed. All over with now though. 

After the rotten filling it was time for some respite. Surely the top layer would cheer us up. Maybe this one would have some sliced olives and a dash of oil?

Thursday night saw our yarn group's Christmas meal and, with that, a Secret Santa. The theme this year was hot water bottle cosies. I'd decided to try the join as you go method with crochet squares - which I couldn't recommend highly enough - and a plain envelope back.

In return I received the most snuggly cosy knitted in Bergere wool 

Thank you Janine!

Yes that double lived up to expectations.

So there we have it. Highs and lows. But more importantly two highs and only one low. A high, low, high if you like. Can you tell my brain has been on overload? Now I'd better light the festive candle and start thinking about that bee.


Saturday, 23 November 2013

Do You Mind if I Crow?

You know that things aren't going well when some of your dearest friends and colleagues enthusiastically request the details of your first ever craft fair and you give them rather vague answers.Some conversations have even gone like this

'Oooh you're doing a craft fair - that sounds exciting. Can I come?'
'Please don't.'

Not that I haven't enjoyed dabbling with felt,ric rac and bells but the thought that someone else might actually want to buy the end result is rather daunting. What if nobody likes it? What if everybody sells out and I am the only one left standing with a table full of deformed bunnies? What if everybody starts pointing and laughing and I look down and realise I am naked?

So many doubts. But this week something happened. I don't know how or why but suddenly something has clicked and I'm actually looking at my work (ooh - get 'er) and feeling a little bit pleased.

Please may I crow?

There are some lubbly jubbly nubbly crocheted dishcloths with coal tar soap

Some fabric notebook covers

A Jingle Owl

(A little bit cheerier than his bunny friend)

And the thing I am most excited about - a reversible shopping bag


I followed a wonderful tutorial by Handmade Jane which you can find here.

At last I've made some things that I might actually buy myself!

I must say I am thoroughly enjoying tapping into these different ideas at the moment - even though my  immaculately organised home (excuse my nose growing a little) is perhaps looking a little neglected and my family don't recognise the barely seen figure that sometimes makes an appearance covered in thread and bias binding. There are so many ideas out there that it's difficult not to be inspired - go and check out the lovely zipper flowers here made by Jo at Three Stories High.

So - crowing done and out of my system now - thank you for allowing such self indulgence! My doubts are also alleviating a little - next time I worry about people pointing and laughing I will at the very least be in my pyjamas.

Have a glorious week!


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Hold the phone...

... I've finished a thing! 
Or two things to be more precise.

I used this

and this

(obviously lured in by this)

 and ended up with these!

(modelled by our very own Little Sis after several bribes and a promise not to get her face in the shot!)

The wool was lovely and soft to work with and the pattern was indeed as easy as an easy pie who lives in easy land.

Lovely warm arms now.
What to do about the fingers ....?



P.S. Hello to my new followers - I hope you enjoy it here!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Not all the best things come in small packages

Take elves. 

Pinterest is bursting with them and with my impending craft fair they seemed to provide the perfect opportunity for a middle aged woman to be let loose with some felt and a dolly peg. What could go wrong?

I was particularly taken by this lovely image here.

Oh joy. I sat at my little table and excitedly sorted out some colours.

Little grey trousers - check.

 A mulberry cape - check (yes it is a bit big but have you ever tried to cut a neckline for an elf?)
How about some green accessories? Mittens - check.

Oh yes it could have carried on in such a wonderfully whimsical way but sadly it was not to be. The first sign of the tinsel tide turning came with the hat. A nice pointy elf shaped hat. Let's try putting some ric rac on for a hangy thing.

Now let's try gluing it together.

Those of you who have ever been enthralled by the power of a hot glue gun will know that when it blobs on the end of your fingers there is little you can do but hop out of your chair and try and rub it off with your other fingers (all whilst merrily singing Jingle Bells in a rather cracked fashion). This then gives the hat freedom to purchase itself on either extremity whilst the hangy thing falls to the floor. Strangely I did not manage to record this episode for posterity.

At last a hat was put together that actually sat on top of the peg. It was way too big and slipped over his eyes but with some glue and a prayer it stuck - and it's staying stuck.

Now for the face.
Oh how I fretted.
Remember this?

Festive the Unfortunate

This little elf had to be right.
I practised on paper.

I practised on other pegs.

I used pencil, biro, fineliners.

I thought I'd cracked it - took a deep breath and, dot, line - dot, dot, line - dot, dot, line ...


If there was to be a festive version of the Joker this would be it.
Rather menacing I think.
If the hat hadn't been stuck on so blooming firmly I would have swapped it around and tried again on the other side - but it is most definitely stuck for good ...

So there he hangs - slightly too smiley - a cautionary tale to those who are too cavalier about their elves.

And as for the hare - he's in hiding!

Oh dear.



P.S. For those of you who might be taking part in Ladybird Diaries Christmas decoration swap don't worry - I won't be making an elf!