Friday, 29 June 2012

Friday loveliness

Bonjour as they say in foreign parts (ha ha foreign parts sounds like "lady garden" or "winkle").


So today has been filled with wonderful stuff.

Firstly, me and The Girl had an spontaneous coffee and cake session with our lovely friend who The Girl calls Dedy. In fact we were kind of dragged to the coffee shop and were treated by Dedy and I'm pleased we were, not just for the lovely marshmallow type lolly thing The Girl had, or the cake I had but for the great chat. Sometimes, its wonderful to chat absolute nonsense to a friend who is chatting equally nonsensical nonsense backatcha. For instance, Dedy talked about how she wanted to shout "WILLY WONKER" out in an empty sauna...I share this tourettes like need to shout loudly at inappropriate times. Anyone else share this need?

Secondly, my Mum came to see us after two weeks away in Tunisia. I think it was rather selfish of her to go away for so long. We were very excited to see her...well The Girl showed off a bit and was unreasonably shy but then didn't want Nanna to go home. I really wish I could see my Mum more than once a week.  I'm very lucky to have such a lovely mum. She does so much for me, I just wished she was round the corner so we could take advantage of her even more!

Thirdly, I've been feeling pretty damn poorly for about a year. I get really irrate and hormonal very often (what woman doesn't you male readers will shrug). I often fell exhausted, run down, brain dead (what mum with young kids doesnt you will all shout). Last October I felt really bad for a few weeks and couldn't eat fatty foods or drink a glass of wine without feeling the need to pass out. I also got weird red pinpricks all over my feet. I finally dragged my big ass to the drs after christmas and he sent me for blood tests. They came back with a borderline thyroid problem and the dr said to go for more tests in May and come back in June. So go back I did today and whoop whoop my thyroid is in perfect working order and I won't need medication for the rest of my life! The pinpricks on my feet have all but gone but I still feel pretty awful at certain times and also have uncontrollable rage Apparently and a big BOO to this, I have severe PMT. It can be cured with anti depressants as a last resort but I've been told to exercise. DOH. Do I have to?! I have a Wii fit, but find it hard to fit that in. I suppose I could go swimming but it would be about 8.30pm by the time I got there by which time I've half asleep! He also said I need to drink two mugs of milk a day, fine by me, and eat nuts. Do you think a cadbury glass and a half fruit and nut bar will count?! This news made my day. Alright now I can't blame my thyroid for turning me into a dragon but its such a relief to know its basically just good old fashioned women's rage.

I'm home alone tonight...this is the snack of choice

It was meant to be for watching a film but I seem to have eaten it already...oppsie.

This was the make of the week...

A pillowcase dress. Its the first dress I've made and its the first thing I've ever made that I've been 100% happy with. Not a great photo but she wouldnt keep still!

This was the day out last week...

The Abridge Village fair. Look at the beautiful cars
This is the one for me...Oh hold on...No this one...

Real thigh rubbing moment. I am a real VW campervan fan. In fact we are considering going on one a holiday in one of them. Its my dream to own one. Apparently the fabric on the front is called a bra!
This campervan cost about £50K!!!! To be honest it was a bit too perfect for me. Too clean and new. For me, I'd have to have it a bit battered outside and in and would def need a big of gingham and crochet chair covers!

Hope you have had equally lovely Fridays.

Donkeyshins as they say in Germany and Bottoms up

Sunday, 24 June 2012

View from under-the-wood

Our name is pretty misleading. Unfortunately we don't live under or near a wood. We live about ten minutes drive from a wood though. But it's not ours. We live very close to the town centre of an Essex market town. In the manky bit of town. I've noticed if you live near a town hall your street will be looked after. The further away you are from the town dignitaries the more unkempt your street will be. We are the wrong side of the tracks (ring road).

Not only do we get the drunk teenagers using our road as a rat run from the infamous nightlife of our town and helping themselves to our wing mirrors but we get tons of rubbish from passers by and Tesco's loading bay who took it upon themselves to build yet another store in our town in the main road behind ours. Now I like to complain to the council and companies alot. In a rather Daily Mail way too. I'm a middle class snob like that. While I'm complaining I often say "shutup you moany old crow" to myself, thats how bad I am. So after sending off my umteenth complaint about litter on our road this week I decided I would do a regular post of how our street is looking with words and pictures in full technicolour (its the future). I'm sure the council are shaking in their boots about this as I'm obviously a big player in the blogging world (6 whole views to my site this morning, beat that facebook!).

This week the road has looked pretty appalling. Everyday I scream at the Boy and Girl to stop at the corner in case they fall on this

This was worse at the beginning of the week and was spread out a lot more - its basically a whole case of beer bottles someone has dropped coming back from the shops. The picture doesn't show it clearly but there are bottoms of the bottles sitting up waiting for someone to fall on. On Friday the Husband talked me out of going up the street with my broom to sweep it up.

Then there's this outside of Tesco's loading bay.

This level of litter is actually less than usual, but it had been windy so its probably blown into our gardens. But look at the big hole in the water manhole type thing. Its an Injury Lawyers For You waiting to happen isn't it. The pavement is in really bad nick since Tesco was built earlier this year and the pavement outside our houses is raised and cracked.

I've not had a chance to take a photo but opposite our house is a council owned building and even the outside of that is a disgrace. They keep the gardens nice so at least we can look at that but there is a jungle of weeds growing up the wall and in the cracks in the kerbs. It is a leafy borough, maybe that's why.

There are more pros living where we do than cons, I'll grant you that. The houses are lovely, the neighbours on the tiny terrace are all lovely families, we are a stones throw from school, the shops and station and are really close to big green spaces.  But walking down our street sometimes is like some medieval version of Richard Hammond's Wipeout. Instead of the mudpool you have to walk over glass in your flip flops carrying a small child. Instead of those balls to jump on you have to jump over big holes in the pavement. Instead of that pendulum pedestal thing you have to get disentangled from the jungle of weeds.

Here ends the view from under-the-wood for this week. Lets hope they like the sarcastic, patronising online form I filled out. Whats your street like? Bet its nicer than mine.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Quilt virgin part 2

Right then, so on the first post about my cherry popping quilt experience I left off saying I had to do something with the grain of the fabric...well I couldn't be bothered to work out quite what that involved weft and weave and something so I figured as its my first go I would be let off by the rather scary quilting people that live in the world wide web.

I made a 5" square template and taking a row at a time placed the card in the middle of each square and drew round it (much like a 4 year old would i.e messily and not straight thus rendering the template pointless) with dressmakers' chalk.

Then I pinned the squares together as a row and sewed them together - making sure there was 1/4"  seam.

Do this for all 9 rows until you are very bored. Then sew each row together using the bottom and top chalk line as the guide. I didn't take a photo of this bit as I was obviously in the zone and in my true slap dash style the first few rows don't quite match up so take a minute to make sure all the seams are in a line while you pin them.

I then added a top panel of gingham fabric at the top of the squares

I kind of lost momentum at this point as I knew I needed a length of fabric for the back and make a tricky binding round the sides and order the wadding that goes inside. I tried to find a brightly coloured sheet cheap but they were all too much. I have an old flannel sheet that was my mum's and its probably older than me so I was going to use that until I found the Ikea gingham duvet cover. I ordered the wadding from ebay - polyester as the bamboo type that the posh quilters recommend was too pricey. I decided to not bother with the binding as I thought I would just make the back panel larger and fold it over to frame the top panel. So cut the wadding larger (about 2" if you like) and the back panel larger still (enough to have a little seam to tuck under) than the top panel.

Fold the back panel over, fold over a hem and pin through the layers (I found it helpful to safety pin the layers together first to stop it moving about too much). Sew round the hems. If I make another, I would also sew round the top of the binding/frame just to make it even stronger.

Now comes the fun bit - the actual quilting. I decided to do crosses diagonally on each square. I started off going right across but when I turned it over it had all rucked up so I had to mind numbingly unpick the length of stitching and do each individual square until I got bored and went diagonally across again!

and here it is...

I am pleased with it as I really did my best to do everything straight and neat so it would last but I'm worried once its washed a few times it may start coming apart. Therefore I will not wash it!

It cost under £20 to make. These cost about £60 made by a profession/from a shop so its worth a try. I am collecting fabric for one for my bed but The Boy has requested one so I'll carry on small.

If you have any quilting tips please share!

Happy Friday


Thursday, 21 June 2012



I've been on the go since my last post and haven't had time to round up my mega exciting goings on. I know you have been waiting with baited breath. I better make it a goodun then.

I last posted half way through the jubilee weekend. We had such a lovely time not only spending time with lovely family and friends but also watching the queen do her thing! As you already know I'm a fervent royalist - mostly because of what they do for the country terms of generating money through tourism, promoting us through foreign visits etc...they are probably the best PR we have. No other country has the heritage we have and no other country can celebrate our heritage like we did that weekend. Its not about supporting an out dated class system and celebrating the privileged. Its about celebrating a woman who has given up her life for the service of her country. Whether you are a dinner lady for 60 years or the queen it can't go unnoted. One things for sure, we and our children will never experience a diamond jubilee in our lifetimes again.

We spent the next weekend in Butlins. its the third time we've been and have a brilliant time every time. I often wonder what it'd be like to be a red coat; constantly smiling, being nice to brats and singing and dancing with the full fervour of an American stage school of cheese and jazz hands graduate. We had to drive through the flooded roads of Sussex to get home. The boy was really frightened - so was I but I kept up a happy sing songy voice for at least seven miles and got through it. I heard at Slimming World this week that someone tried to get there the day we left and got stuck five minutes from Butlins in a flooded car for four hours and then had to go home so I'm pleased we got to have our precious family time and that we got home in one piece!

So on coming back I thought I'd better crack on with my first quilt which I will post about in the final tutorial for but here's a glimpse...
I had been wondering what material to use for the back and used my fantastic bargain hunting hoarding skills wandering round Ikea. I have a family rewards card so was able to get a few things cheap before the big sale which started this week. Ok so I didn't need to buy most of it but I took advantage of it. I bought a hot pink double gingham double duvet (with 4 pillowcases no doubt!) for £8. Lets be fair, you can't buy the fabric for that. So I've used that for the back and....

Dear me. Hatty earned her keep this week I can tell thee. The Girl's blind (originally made by my mum when The Boy was in the little room, then I sewed it on to an Ikea roman blind when it fell apart) fell down at the beginning of the week and it looked really dirty. I knew I had a bit of blackout curtain lining in the rag bag so I took the old one apart and reconditioned it and am pretty proud of myself to be honest. I made pains to make it straight and really took my time measuring it and lining up the fabric but alas and alack I just am too slap dash in nature and a wonky seam will out every time! But, it does keep the light out and does go up and down. For how long, is another matter, but it will do the job for now! I'm waiting for some ribbon I ordered to come as I'm making this pillowcase dress for The Girl next.

The sun was out in full force on Saturday and was lovely so after having mummy and The Boy time swimming in the morning (I LOVED having an hour with him on his own. He's growing up so so too too fast and I often feel like he doesn't get anytime with me because The Girl is attached to my hip all the time) we took ourselves off to Walton and Frinton-on-Sea. Well, we didn't account for 100mph winds!
We took it in turns to be human wind breakers for the children! Look at the deserted beach, that was the bonus.
I love it that this is an hour away from us. We are very lucky to live so close to a lovely stretch of coast and we're going to try and explore more of the Essex coastline this year and we always go to Walton, mainly for the pier after a day on the beach.

I love the faded glamour of seaside towns. You can see real architectural gems that hark back to Victorian and even Georgian times and also the garish 1950s kiss me quick style and that's probably my favourite.

If you know of any seaside gems on the Essex or Kent coast, please leave a comment and share it!

Taraa for now. More regular posts from now!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Book Review: Never kiss a man in a canoe

My beloved best friend bought me this hilarious book for my birthday. It was so enjoyable, you end up whizzing through it.

The book is a collection of answers from agony aunts from various publications from about the 1850s to late 1960s. We only get to see the questions/problems in a few of them - I don't know whether this is because they didn't publish them then, just alluded to them, or the author thought it better not to include them. However, this actually makes it better as some of the answers are so intriguing its very amusing to wonder what the problem was in the first place. The problems range from finding a spouse, keeping yourself decent, which entertainment was the right sort for a lady, career advice and health advice.

As you can imagine, most of the answers are funny to us as they are just plain ridiculous. Take for instance the popular question of making oneself taller - most answers instructs the reader to make a potion of various nasty sounding chemicals and drink it several times a day. Another lists laying deadly still at night and keeping the legs straight at all times!

Its insightful to see how women worried about finding a husband - some are quite racey; stepping out with several boys a week and then wondering why not one wanted to go steady with her, smoking and drinking not attracting men; women newly married bored of their husbands. Other women worried that their fiance would find out about their false teeth and hair.

This makes a brilliant stocking filler type present and is a good one to dip in and out of.

Thanks Pug

Monday, 11 June 2012

Book Review: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Another lent book but this time as part of the world book night event. I was told to read it quickly and pass it on as you need to input the book's PIN into the website to you can track it, hopefully, across the world. So far the book has been to three people, including me, and has only travelled about three miles. I think I will send it to my BEST friend in Southampton as that's a bit further afield!

This book was so easy to read I managed to finish it in three days. It has no chapters, it just flows from one character to another and the past to the present. The present day main character, Iris is told by a mental hospital that their charge, Esme Lennox, is her elderly great aunt and that as next of kin she must decide what to do with her as the hospital is closing. Iris has a messy life so isn't in a great position to deal with this bolt from the blue - she asks her senile grandmother (Esme's sister) about Esme but gets no information. Iris decides to help Esme and takes her in and as she does the reader hears Esme's story about her childhood and how she was dragged to the hospital by her father.

The story was riveting as it highlighted the way in which mental illness was treated after the first world war - a time when doctors were becoming more understanding in the light of shell shock etc It also portrays the general treatment of women as second class citizens who, if they didn't tow the line were seen as hysterical and too different for decent society. It is indicated that Esme suffers from bi-polar disease and is schizophrenic and is locked away for 60 years as her family become increasingly despairing over her refusal to be a normal young lady. It is shocking to think that most of Esme's behaviour is something us modern day females take for granted - she wants to be free, not marry, stay in education, play unladylike music on the piano, not do as her parents tell her, walk barefoot and laugh at things that are funny instead of keeping quiet...I wonder how many people were hospitalised, drugged up and given electric shock treatment because they didn't fit in. I'm glad I live in these times, I love to walk barefooted, I always laugh at inappropriate moments, if I could play the piano then I would probably play Metallica on it and ok so I'm married, but on my terms, not my parents or society's. The ending of the book is abrupt and you kind of get whats coming a few pages ahead. You want to know what happens next to Esme and Iris but I guess that's the beauty of a good book to make you decide what happens once you've put it down. Yeah for Maggie O'Farrell!

Book Review: A Street Cat Named Bob

My lovely neighbour lent this book to me.  It's not one I'd normally pick up to buy (I was lent Marley and Me which I liked but I got a bit sick of the schmaltz) but I'm glad I read this one. I am reluctant to say "I love cats" in case you think I'm a mad cat lady but I kind of do. My own cat, Rosie, is one of the friendliest cats you will ever meet. In fact she's more like a dog than a cat - I shall give her her very own post soon. So I had a bit of an affinity with James Bowen, Bob's "owner".

James, formally homeless and a recovering drug addict found the injured Bob in his stairwell, he nursed him back to health and they have been inseparable ever since. James was a busker and Bob tripled his day's takings as people were so taken with him. James then went on to sell the Big Issue magazine which is where his literary agent first spotted them.

The adventures James recounts are really heart warming. It's as though the pair were meant to be together - despite James trying to set Bob back into the wilds of Tottenham, he kept coming back and even followed him across the mega busy Tottenham High Road and hopped on a bus to Covent Garden. Bob even managed to get back to James through London when they became separated. James decided to come off of methadone for Bob's sake and the chapters which describe this are some of the best in the book. Not only do you get an insight into what its like to get clean from drugs, but also the love the cat and James have for each other. It is clear that without Bob, James would probably not have got free from drugs and would possibly be using again.

The book shows how wonderful it is to have the unconditional love from a pet, be it a cat or a dog. We are all in the habit of humanising animals (there's a word for it, but I cant remember it!) and James sort of does this in the book by imagining what Bob is thinking in our terms. But to be fair, I often do this for Rosie (my neighbour even has a voice for her cat - she's promised she'll work on one for Rosie too so I can't wait to hear it!). The only down side of the book was the way James comes across with a huge chip on his shoulders. To be fair, he does admit this himself, but it starts to grate on you when you realise that most of the time he thinks people are out to get him...but I guess living on the streets, having to defend yourself and living hand to mouth will do that to you.

Bob is now a media sensation and can be found all over You Tube. Take a look at their interview on bbc in March and they can be found at The Angel station in London selling the Big Issue, but only I imagine until Hollywood come calling. Long may they be together.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Roll out the barrel week (Birthday and Jubilee days 1 and 2)

Eeeeee Johnny, as Johhny Briggs' mum used to say, this week has been a difficult one! I have a borderline thyroid problem which at certain times of the month (ahem) turns me into more of a nutcase than I usually am. I'm even more bad tempered, moany and shouty at the children and tend to feel pretty damn exhausted by about 8am most days. This week has been one of those weeks. Which was great as it was my birthday on Thursday. Thursday was the climax of my troubles for the week. I did get woken up by a beautiful rendition of happy birthday and a cake and some fabbo presents from the husband thusly:
To Kill a Mokingbird: Harper Lee
I capture the castle: Dodie Smith
Jamaica Inn: Daphne de Maurier
World without end: Ken Follet
All sewn up: Chloe Owens
Made by me voucher (I'm opting for the crochet granny square course!!)
and this...
nice eh. Tea tastes really nice in it too.

Despite these goodies, I did feel very down and one of my wonderful friends spotted this at a children's birthday party so she drove all the way across the borough and dropped my presents off and it warmed my cockles. It was a wonderful wire hen to store my eggs in (not my eggs obviously, that would be gross. Plus they aren't solid so I imagine the wire structure would not hold them). I do have some of the most wonderful friends you know. As I also discovered when I heard my name being called over the garden fence and my neighbour gave me their presents and bucked my spirits up even more with a lovely neighbourly chat. I was a bit shy opening it in front of her but I soon ran back out in excitement...

I'd seen the blog for this book and heard about the project so was bowled over that she had got me this as it shows what lovely friends I have that they buy the perfect presents. The projects in this book are so beautiful, I can't wait to start making from it and plan to make my bestie neighbour lots of things from it so she is soon fed up! I love my neighbours.

I also got a rather spiffing sewing box from one of my bestie bestie friends and had a lovely tea and cake sesh the day before with her gorgeous cup and saucer collection...

I drool over the art deco blue set. Literally, so one day she will find a puddle in the cup and just give it to me out of disgust. She asked me to give her a pseudonym (i think she is on the run) so I shall call her Sue, she'll like that...won't you Sue?!

I'm a very lucky girl who, no matter how poorly I feel, I have the most wonderful friends in the world. That old saying - you can judge a man by his friends...well if I was a man I would be thought of very highly, but alas I'm just a weak and feeble woman with a hormone imbalance. continue the barrel rolling, on Friday mum, the girl and the boy took part in the school's jubilee fayre after school. It was very good. I wore a union jack plastic bowler hat - what more can you want? Well you could want one of these beauties...

The boy had to dress up so went as one of the Queen's guards but as I thought he may get hot, I quickly ran this up before school.
Its little wonder I feel tired all the time!

The husband and I went out for dinner at Zizzi's and went to see Johnny Depp's new film Dark Shadows. I'm a HUGE Tim Burton/Depp fan so this was right up my street. Weird in a Burton way and excellently played by Johnny. He really is a genius. Someone told me recently that he reeks of coffee and fags, this would not bother me, it only adds to his allure. It was lovely being out with the husband. I can't remember the last time we had a "date". I do like him quite a bit really.

On Saturday, the barrel had another roll out. We won tickets for Sainsbury's family jubilee festival at Hyde Park It looked like we weren't going to go as the boy was mega playing up and when we left the house the girl fell over straight away and cut open her knee yet again and blood went EVERYWHERE!! She was so exhausted by it that she had to have an hours nap and we were all pretty tired and grumpy but decided to go for it and aren't I glad we did. We got there about 3.30 and after catching a glimpse of cavalry horses doing horsey things we tucked into our picnic which included...

for the purposes of...
Mary Berry's scones pretty damn perfect if I do say so myself and very fitting for a patriotic afternoon.

We then watched the day's grand finale - the Disney spectacular which was well...spectacular. Very jazz handy Broadway types sang the big numbers from the most popular films and then the cast of the Lion King musical performed for about 15 minutes which was pretty amazing. It was such a joy to watch the girl and boy dance and sway to the music.I was a bit disappointed the event didn't finish with God Save the Queen, but I did feel a little teary. I always get like that at public events. Especially if clapping along to music is involved. We only bought two coffees so had a great free day out. If you get the chance to win tickets for next years event (they usually do a family festival in Clapham Common) go for it.

I'm pretty tired now in that had a lovely day out kind of way and there are still three more jubbly jubilee days left WHOOP WHOOP! I'm off to NOT eat more scones before bed.

Night night and will bore you with more of my weekend antics later