Monday, 28 May 2012

Quilt Virgin part 1


Go on say it out loud. Dis-con-bob-u-la-ting.

I'm not so great with maths and counting and that. I find it very discombobulating. Makes my head go all fizzy and gets me all frustrated. Makes a sound like this in my ears eeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeee whenever someone talks of figures, finance, economics and basic counting. Imagine my delight then when starting my first ever quilt I realise I have to do adding and that! Oh dear me. So it was jolly good I had my delightful husband on hand to do the tricky stuff wasn't it.

I worked out the size I wanted 50 inches by 70 inches. 2.5 inches binding all round the outside, 20 inches of gingham fabric at the top and 45 inch square of patchwork squares. This is for the girl so will fit on a single bed (or folded over her cot bed now). From my research most sites said for a beginners basic quilt make the squares 5 inches with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. I don't trust myself to be precise so I decided to cut them 6 inches and have a 1/2 seam allowance so that they are 5 inches. MATHS!

I then had a good ole time looking through ebay for fat quarters of material that would go with the pink gingham I already had for the top. There's a shop called favouritefabrics which has a lovely selection. So I bought a pack and added it to another I already had and come up with this bundle of loveliness.

Except I took out the blue big flower one after I took this as it didn't go with the maths and that did it. The husband correctly told me that I would need nine squares from each fabric for the patchwork part. He is so very clever, especially at maths and knowing things and that.

So...I made a 6 inch template out of card and used my swish rotary cutter and board to cut each piece.

Nifty eh?

Then I laid them out in rows of nine in a pretty random fashion.
I numbered each row and gathered them up into a pile.

This took a looooooong time. I am told that you need to sew the pieces together with the grain of the fabric facing the correctly way... Wha'?

Wish me luck


Book review: The Distant Hours, Kate Norton

This book was passed to me by my mum. I love being passed on books. I don't hold with this new fangled e-book malarcy. The physical book is the thing. To be able to hold a book, to smell it - surely that improves the story tenfold. Mum had read this on holiday, the back of it has a slightly sun tan lotion feel to it and the spine has broke where I imagine it's been put down on a lounger (oh to be on a sun lounger). It's an ideal holiday book.

The Distant Hours follows the same lines as Kate Morton's previous novels, The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden. It's based on events from the 1940s and how they effect those of present day 1990s. As in her other novels its based on an aloof upper-class family. In the beginning this annoyed me. I felt like i had already read it as it was too familiar. But then it took so many unexpected turns I was hooked.

The characters aren't predictable, although the main present day character, I felt needed a good kick up the proverbial. I don't know whether it was intended or not but she was pretty feeble and wouldn't be someone I'd trust with the mystery she unravels.

It's hard to say much about the story as too much will be given away. Its probably better to say if you've read the other novels you will not be disappointed. Get a copy now. Preferably from me, or a friend, or even better, a library. Sit on a sun lounger. Preferably in Cyprus and enjoy.

Next read - A Street Cat Named Bob - James Bowen ... Passed to me by my fantastic neighbour

Friday, 25 May 2012

May madness

There's been a lot on the telly about hoarding lately, have you noticed? I could so easily be a hoarder. I find it hard to throw things away, particularly if they are connected to family and the children. When my beloved grandad passed away, my brother and I had a wreath made with a small bottle of whisky on it - I still have the bottle and also several bags of his drawings and dried up oil paints  This is just an example of my sentimentality. It knows no bounds. I was mildly chastised the other week for buying three stalls from Ikea. Questions posed were:

Q. Why do we need stalls?
A. When the NCT kids come over for tea we have enough seats
Q. Why three?
A. Nature is not symmetrical you shouldn't have an even number
Q. But we really don't need more seating do we?
A. No. We don't. But they were £2 each so I had to.

Add this burgeoning habit to the fact that our bedroom is a magnet for everyone else's crap I decided to make a stand this week and have thoroughly knackered myself out in the process. When we lived in a two bed flat pre-children we shoved junk in the second bedroom. Before the girl was born, and before we had a playroom, junk was chucked in her room and the playroom. Now its in ours. I put the girl down for her nap and put all the stuff under my bed on it as well as the stuff on all surfaces and floor...

Oh dear

Why did I start it!

I chucked everything out of the wardrobe and reorganised it. I moved wardrobe to clean and couldn't take photo of what i found on the floor and wall. I was so simply ashamed of my sluttish slovenliness. I'm surprised the husband and I hadn't developed emphysemia is all I'm saying. Seriously. ASHAMED!
I generated this amount of washing as the linen under the bed was so dusty! Its taken me two days of back to back washing to clear it!

Do you like my dressing table? It was my Grandparents'. Well, my Mum and Aunty's when they were little actually. It was white but I painted it. This is where alot of the crap accumulates and also here...
But I'm making a stand. No more will my furniture be used for broken toys and sweet wrappers. No sir. Which is why today I was pleased to see this...
Its slowly creeping back in! But actually, that's the whole point of having children isn't it. They are such a life force, a pretty unstoppable life force at that. We love them with every millimetre of our souls so I suppose its OK that the little darlings invade every millimetre of our homes too.
I give it a week.

The Boy is off sick today, there's a pestilence going round the school which all his close friends have had. We almost left the house this morning and I kept saying he wasn't well enough. He was so determined to go though and kept saying "but I want to learn". I'm so chuffed he loves school so much, it is a great little school. So I'm hoping he gets over it today so we can go on an adventure to the Essex coastline tomorrow then home in time for the most excellent Eurovision extravaganza which I wait all year for! Nil Point!

Thanks for reading xxx the design? I've had a fiddle and a tinkle (and changed the design!)

Monday, 21 May 2012

Monday musings

Ah the humble party ring. How I love thee.

There now, that's better. Its better to admit to these things isn't it. Before One gets bogged down by it all.

How are we all then? I write with the back door open and the sun just gone to bed with good hopes that tomorrow there will be SUN!!! Or definitely Wednesday. I've just got back from my slimming group I've been going for almost two years and have reached my "weight target" after losing 3.5 stone. I love meeting new people now and seeing their faces when I tell them I've lost that amount. Some, now close friends, despite passing me everyday swear blind I didn't live in my house two years ago as I look like a completely different person. I would say I am half the person I am but that would have made me 7 stone so that's just silly. Anyhoo. I like to still go along every now and then, so my love of the above party ringed biscuit, doughnut, sausage, chips etc (you get the picture, I am a glutton) don't bite me on the bum. I LOVE to listen to everyone's stories about their weight loss "journeys". Sometimes I do this in a emphatic, caring way. Other times (more frequently, now I am smug and don't have to pay anymore) I like to snigger at the menopausal women fanning themselves after a hot flush and try to make up an excuse for putting on 4lb when we all know it was because they had a kebab after a right jolly east end knees up on Saturday night. It is hard, I know how hard it is. But seriously, tonight was great. Three friends sitting together in a row eating"healthy" chocolate bars at the same time. Chewing in sequence like three slightly overweight, middle-aged synchronised swimmers concentrating very hard. I wish I could have taken a photo. These lovely ladies, (I mean that, they are lovely) sum weight loss up for me. Why have an apple when you can have a chocolate.

We have acquired some lovely, cute new croc type affaired shoes for the garden for the girl. LOOK, so CUTE! I want them. I really really do. She quite happily posed like this too...

I also made the usual weekend breakfast for the little ones of pancakes this weekend

Sometimes, I do wonder if I channel Nigella. The recipe for these are in her Express book and also here. If you are an American pancake fan, then make a jar of the mix and whip them up when your children/friends/strangers are wasting away on a Saturday morning. Nigella tells of how these make her feel like an American Supermom. She is right, but it makes me feel a little bit closer to Her Holiness Nige. Of course the recipe doesn't include making "ears", blueberry eyes or banana mouths. That would be ludicrous.

Last week I finished some bunting for the jubilee, which will be put in the Boy's room when the queen has finished having a right royal knees up (two uses of that phrase in this post!).
Hatty, my sewing machine (yes Hatty, I love that name and am unlikely to have another baby so used it to name the cow of a machine which often refuses to sew, the bint) and I fell out ALOT over this bunting. I've taught myself to sew, so maybe its time to be taught how to do it properly? The bunting is double sided so where ever you are in the garden enjoying a sausage roll you can see it.

Ending on a crafty note. I am embarking on my first patchwork quilt. I have done lots of online research and have painstakingly drawn charts and done maths and think I'm ready to begin. Its for the Girl, I want one for myself but thought I ought to start off small. I have a couple more fat quarters of fabric to buy and then I'm off. Will keep you updated on this and will edit out angsty swearing. Hatty may not survive

Ta Ta and happy Tuesday


Saturday, 19 May 2012

A hop, skip and a jump

Took myself off to the big smoke today.  Having spent my working life in the West End, days out in London used to be a chore, but not being there everyday now I get really excited when I get the chance to go there. Today's jaunt was with my Mum. She has been wanting to go to the Charles Dicken's exhibition at the Museum of London for ages so I agreed to go with her as her designated carer. Anything could happen to her wandering the streets of London by herself, she must be watched at all times.

I skipped out of the house at 9am to the dulcet tones of the girl screaming her head off. Although I love my bunnies so very much this week seems to have been one of the longest of my life so it was so nice to have some time to myself - albeit as my Mum's chaperone (Mum don't protest, you know its true).

I LOVE museums. In fact I'm a bit of a bore about them. The Museum of London used to be my fave rave. I hadn't been there for about 9 years and was quite disappointed in the way it had changed. You can no longer view bits of the London Wall from the galleries and also my favourite exhibit (a head preserved in formaldehyde - the owner having suffered from herpes or some sort of clap!) was no longer on display. I also didn't like the way it was more commercial. But I guess museums have to make money if there are to stay "in business" and have to attract people. It was quite quiet though which was a bonus.

This dress is fantastic, can you imagine trying to get through a door in this! It reminded me of a documentary I'd seen about the Palace of Versailles where ladies just wee'd and poo'd where they were standing in the palace as it would have been too much fuss going to the toilet with the massive dresses they wore.  I personally believe this fashion should have a come back, merely for the fact that you can do your business wherever you please.

Another fabulous dress we saw...
Little girls' dress from 1952 to celebrate the coronation of Liz. I wanted it for the girl! Look at the detail of the print. Would do very well for a Jubilee party now

The Dicken's exhibition was good. Mum was disappointed (well I think she had only come out for food as the first thing she said when we met was "I can't wait for a cake") as she was expecting a bit of role play and people in Victorian dress. Extracts from Dicken's hand written manuscripts were on display which was fantastic to see where the famous characters came to life originally. We also watched a film based around his Night Walk writings but with views of London in the present day which was brilliant. It shows that London is exactly the same as Victorian times despite all the modern trappings we hold. There is still destitution, homelessness, drunkenness, coffee venders, market traders. In fact, there is probably more of a distinction between the have's and have not's today than then as we all sit in relative comfortable, centrally heated houses with our tellys, fridges, ovens and beds; whereas the homeless have nothing but a cardboard box and sleeping bag if they are lucky. The differences jar more now than then I think.  It has inspired me to read his Night Walk essays though.

I read Bleak House at the start of the year. I've had the book for about ten years and watched the BBC adaptation about six years ago so thought I ought to read it. Oh B'Jesus it was a tough one to get through. Once I start a book I HAVE to finish it, whether I want to or not as I feel like I've failed if I can't. Despite having some of the best passages in English literature:

London. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets, as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full grown snowflakes – gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun.

I was glad to have finished it. Great Expectations on the other hand - give me that any day.

We saw two weddings at St Paul's Cathedral
I papped her. Lots of people were looking through the railings to see the bride but no one said "wow" at her dress when she got out of the car! I must admit, if I were to get married in St Paul's I think I would have an outrageous dress on and not a run of the mill one she had on! The other wedding, Mum said quite loudly "I don't think much of her dress". I think she should have just gone up to the bride and told her. How much money does One have to have to get married in St Paul's?!

So after all this culture our mind turned to food. Mum had seen a cake shop online near St Paul's so we found that but to be honest, it didn't look that promising. It was very modern. I want afternoon tea in either a) the Ritz or b) a place like your Nan's front room so we grabbed a sandwich from EAT over the Millennium Bridge, past The Globe and had a stroll. Then, Oh My we realised we were walking towards Borough Market and we chastised ourselves for having a sandwich! When I've been before there has never been any need to buy anything as you can just go round trying the samples of everything but there wasn't much being offered for free today. Very sad. But we couldn't resist the jumbo sausage "lollies" a great butchers had on offer.

We opted for the chorizo one and shared it, although to be honest I think I could have had another four. It was sausage heaven! I did get a bit heart burny afterwards. That will learn me. I thought I had better get some cakes to take home so bought a big chocolate brownie and a Lamington which looked a bit like an old lady's choice of cake (bedecked with coconut). Oh and whilst we were at the stall we decided we ought to try the glorious custard tarts as they may well have been disgusting and we owed it to society to test them.

We wandered in Southwark Cathedral which sits uncomfortably next to the market and were happy to hear the choir practising but didn't stay long in case we got converted.

Tired, full up and needing a sit down I hopped back on the tube and train home. Had a lovely welcome, even though the husband had broken a tooth and we had a thrown together tea in the garden and christened our new picnic bench. We followed it with the above cakes and cheese and grapes (I'm soooo continental).

What a lovely, lovely day spent with my lovely mum in MY London.

"It is not a pleasant place, it is not agreeable or cheerful or easy or exempt from reproach. It is only MAGNIFICENT" Henry James 1869 on London.

Thanks for reading xxxx

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

In which I try to shake off S.A.D

This was the view from our kitchen window this morning

I haven't moaned about the last two months of non stop rain as I didn't think it would do much good plus its so typically British to complain about it. But this week I've finally had enough. I need to shake off the Seasonal Adjustment Disorder (S.A.D) - although I'm confused over what season I'm supposed to be adjusting myself to. So, because spring hasn't sprung, I refuse to do any spring cleaning and instead spent this morning with my delicious girl in the kitchen.

The girl decided to make Daddy some dinner for "leyta"

It mostly consisted of freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice (by those lovely tiny paws) and a slice of bread. She used the phrase she likes to use alot at the moment "Daddy like it".
She then went to her kitchen and put it in the oven where it is still waiting for "leyta". Daddy certainly will "like it" or else as she spent alot of time mushing it all up and putting it in the old marge tub.

Meanwhile, I made this
St Clements shortbread

100g butter
75g caster sugar (plus more for sprinkles)
125g plain flour
zest of a lemon and an orange

Cream the butter and sugar together, mix in the flour and zest and push into a loose bottom 15-20cm greased round tin. Bake for 20 mins in 180c oven Let it cool in tin and then EAT IT.

Haven't eaten it yet, waiting for the boy to come home from school so we can try it. How very good of me.

We are off to Toys R Us after school to spend the boys birthday vouchers. Much looking forward to this as we can spend atleast an hour in there relatively for free!

Shake shake shake shake (Oh the suns trying to come out)


Friday, 11 May 2012

Multi tasking a-go-go

 So we are going away for the weekend for the first time in an age for a family wedding tomorrow. I forgot how difficult it was packing for us all and thinking about wee wee accidents (that's just the husband), rain, snow, heatwave, food spillage etc. We are going to Thomas Land on Sunday!!! Every time the boy has whined "can we go there?" for the last two years we have replied with the fobbing off phrase every parent uses, "one day". Well, that day has come! Obviously the Midlands doesn't have food or drink so I'm having to pack plenty of provisions. Do you think this is maybe too much?
I've cooked two dinners too today one for today and one for our return on Sunday evening as I'm a stickler for the children to have a "proper dinner" everyday. I really do make life hard for myself.

But its not all been work work work today. I went into town as it was such a lovely day and was welcomed by this in the market
Sigh. At least it wasn't the obligatory Essex St. George flag and it does cover the scaffolding up that has been there for four years since the building company went bust. I do love the Queen ALOT and am really looking forward to the Jubilee. Not looking forward to the Olympics more on this another time.

Whilst out I was bowled over by the opening of a new shop called Tiger. I'd only read about it and couldn't believe such a thing could be real until I heard Sirens (ladies not the usual background noise of East London) silently beckoning me in and I walked over its welcoming threshold and said "Thank you Lord". If you like Ikea - Scandi design, Paperchase, Selfridges etc you will LOVE this shop.  Its like all those brands but if they were a £shop. Oh my, I wet myself in there. I bought a couple of cool retro toys, a lovely pie dish and some stickers for the girl's bed. I stopped myself from buying Russian dolls, heart shaped ramekins and a set of fake moustaches, but there's always next week.


My shepherd's pie in my new dish £4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Go there. Spend a pound, or a penny like I did whoopsie.

In other news this week...Two years ago, husband and I bought a men's accessory business on the cheap from a family member. We managed to sell a fair bit through the website but sales were slow. I had an idea to change the ties into scarf/necklaces for women so experimented...

Apologies for my face in this photo. It was after Question Time and I was about to go to bed! I thought it was rather nice. HOWEVER. There seemed to be a consensus from the three people I'm the most closest to that it was a pile of plop. My Mum, husband and best friend (none of them hold those positions as of today) all agreed that it was not my best idea.  I like it - what do you think? Do you like my bunting? That, admittedly is better. Philistines. Anyone want to buy some ties?


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

30 going on 5

5 is a diffiult age for a Mum, let alone a boy.  The boy is 5 years and 3 days old today and as each day comes I find it more and more confusing.  He is such a sensitive soul and still has many traits of a much younger child, yet in the background sinister "boy" traits are starting to appear. I know I must reconcile myself to the next few years of Ben 10 and the like, but I'm finding it diffiult and would like him to carry on waching Cbeebies and move on to BBC4 when he is 12.

Take today for example, the boy and girl were playing in the garden. Both have an extreme terror of insects and minibeastie type things (no idea where this comes from as I'm not an arm flaying-about-type of gal when it comes to wasps). The boy wheeled his tractor toy past a snail minding its own business. This snail proved to be particulary irksome for the boy, so whilst screaming in fright he stamped on it... several times. I don't know why I found this so upsetting. Maybe it was the act of, lets face it, mindless violence, or that there was a tiny baby snail just next to it. Either way I felt extreme dissapointment that my boy who has always helped people - bending down to smaller children's levels and patronising them, never hurt our cat, gets upset over unkind acts by others - is turning into an actual  boy child. Albeit one thats just as confused as his mum about it.  I probably confused matters even more by making him look at the snails guts and then saying he had orphaned the baby snail. This appealed to his previous better judgment and upset him. He then went inside and put Ben 10 on which I can not make head nor tail of. Later, I'm sure we shall watch Night Garden with the girl and he will pretend to not like it but will watch it earnestly.

He's still my two year old in my head you see. But I am making provisions for him getting to be a "big boy". For instance, yesterday with an hour to spare (yeah right, it wasn't spare but I stole it from the day) I made him this...

It is Mr Bunny McTooth. He has a pocket for when the day comes that the first tooth must be offered up to the Gods for our sins. The boy absolutely loved it, especially his wonky eyes and head. I especially like the way he appears to be sauntering on my favourite plate with some peaches. In any case, is this the right message to be giving a boy who partly wants to be doing karate kicks in the playground and partly wants to be playing ponies with the girls? Is this a mother's desperate attempts to keep her boy being "her" boy for as long as possible. Or am I just being too analytical about it all and just realise he is going to grow with it. I just hope he stays the same sweet soul that he is now and that I don't witness him kicking the proverbial out of snails!

To make your very own Mr Bunny McTooth..
  • Draw a bunny shape on A4 paper. Pin it to an old pair of winceyette pj's and cut out leaving a 5mm border round the edges.
  • Get a contrasting piece of material and pin your paper and wincey to it and cut round it. Pin the material together so the wrong sides are facing outwards and pin the template to one side.
  • Use your sewing machine or hand stitch round the bunny starting from the bottom of his head round past the ears stop after the second leg and stuff with toy stuffing or pillow stuffing then hand stitch the remaining gap with little stitches.
  • If you are clever you would have put the eyes, nose and little bit of white fabric for teeth on before all this sewing, but if like me you like a challenge do it once its stuffed.
  • Add a ribbon to make him appear debonair if you like.
  • Cut out a square for his pocket and stitch round without any gaps so the sacrificial tooth does not wander off as they are wont to do.
  • Add a monogram initial of the child on McTooth's chest, he doesn't belong to any old Tom, Dick or Harry you know.
Ta Ta

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Hello world (or. in reality, my actual friends and not the imagined hordes that will naturally flood to read my blog) its me! This being my first post on my blog I'm a little unsure what to write about so I guess I ought to tell you a bit about myself. If you already know me you might learn something new and if you are one of the imagined horde, take this as a confused and baffling insight into a slighly unhinged mind and then quickly click on to something else.

My name is Sian (I have a circumflex/ upside downy v/ hat over the a in my name but can't do it on this platform) I live somewhere in East London/Essex which has its good and bad points. I'm almost 31. I have two absolutely delicious children, a boy 5 and a girl 2. They are the be all and end all but I'm not gushy about them in public. I'm very happily married and am lucky enough to have the disgusting job title of "stay at home mum"...more on this later. I also have the best cat in the world Rosie...more on her later too!

To keep "sane" I have been trying out various crafts to see if one sticks - none have yet. I fear I shall be jack of all of them and master of none. I'm too slap dash you see. However, I really love a bit of wonky embroidery, bunting, cushion and applique. You lucky people will (yes I will make you come back with the lure of my wit and charm) watch me making hilarious attempts to learn new skills such as crochet, and quilting and if it turns out ok (don't look too closely at any of it) then I may well tell you how I did it.

I LOVE reading and like to think of myself as an intellectual...I've trying to go through those sorts of novels lists say are the must reads. Last year I battled my way through many of them, realising of course that I was not the intellectual I thought I was. But I will try and amaze and dazzle you with talk of a novel I have finished, I may wear a cravat while I type too. I'm a history buff too, and get quite excited about castles and museums so watch out for more edge-of-your seat action on that front. Woooaahh! I can tell I've got your attention now!!!

I will also talk endlessly about food. This is something you will have to accept. I have an addiction to it.

Mainly this blog is a altruistic gift to the world. Of course it is. But aside from that, its mainly an attempt for me to find out who I am after 5 years of being the new me, Mummy. Its a good way for me to journal my life and I suppose give it a bit of organisation as I never remember things anymore. I've been reading a hell of a lot of blogs of late and actually just like the ones that show glimses into people's mundane lives - what they are having for tea, a photo of their sideboard, something they've made. So thats what this is I suppose. You're welcome to it, for what its worth.

This is not a picture of my sideboard - but this is a taste of whats to come. This is bascially a self portrait.

Ta Ta for now