...seen through a slightly smudged, secondhand pair of rose-tinted glasses

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Cafes, customer care and curiously cute kitchens

Still no bloody broadband.

Three engineers out so far and each one has said it's someone else's problem. Sound familiar?

So I’m writing long lists of stuff I want to check and drinking troughs of Cafe coffee, when time allows.

Only a few weeks in, and I’ve had a change of heart on the Cafe front too. I’ve been going to the same one pretty regularly for a year; making use of the wifi when there’s no point traipsing 35 minutes home between pick ups. I have the same coffee every time, the staff are the same, and still I’m lucky if I get the faintest flicker of recognition. Not the best feeling really, being instantly forgettable! Even a smidgeon of interest would be good, and we’re talking small town here; a steady trickle of customers; they’re not exactly run off their feet.now you see, I’m writing this wondering why I've stuck with it for so long! Anyway, when one of them was monumentally unhelpful about my failure to get online, I popped across the road to another Cafe, where I instantly got connected, and the next time I was in, the girl remembered my coffee. Such a small thing, but that’s all it takes.

Back to blog business and promised pics of a few summer french finds. 
I think my favourite ever buy at a french flea market/Vide Grenier has got to be this small, vintage toy kitchen by Comme Maman. Maybe you remember it?  

So imagine my utter joy when I spied another one! Couldn’t believe it! Though had to hold my breath as I watched a woman right by it hand over some money..huge wave of relief when she picked up an old doll’s wardrobe. 
The kitchen is rather tatty and rusty with bits missing, like the other one - I think it would have had a little water container so you could fill the sink, and there'd have been lots of tiny utensils. Need to do some investigating.  Another thing to add to the flipping list...

I happily handed over 3 euros, and the kitchen was mine. My husband wasn’t with us at the time.and not being the biggest fan of the first one, his face was such a picture when he saw it. Sort of bewildered resignation. 

The kitchen has now joined the orange kitchen in our kitchen. 

This find had wider appeal - it’s vintage Tupperware and has a clever little draining handle for olives, gherkins and the like. One euro well spent I think.

Another pyrex dish, and the eldest's first apple crumble. Don't know why he's looking so glum, it was delicious! I know I've got a fair bit of pyrex, but it was only 50c.

A little wooden couple that made me think of the rather weird candlestick I got last time.

Lovely antique salt cellar - a little dear at 8 euros,  but I've been looking for one for a while.

This was only 50c - always handy to have a place to display tiny things. I thought I might jolly it up with a bit of decoupage and sell it, but if I do, I’ll probably want to keep it. This is the problem...

A lovely vintage four-in-one game in great condition.

If there is a plus side to all this internet strife it’s that I've really pushed on with my crafting.  The toy pile is growing and it all looks bright and cheery, so I’m feeling pretty happy about that. I’ll hopefully be able to show you some Jumble Betty stuff next week. Maybe even from the comfort of home, wouldn't that be great? 
And exceedingly unlikely.

Monday, 1 September 2014


basically how I feel after a good chunk of time away from blogging; loads to say, but I don’t know where to start really, or if any of it’s remotely interesting; I swear it’s been like pulling teeth getting a few sentences down. Doesn’t take long for the general daily fuzz of life to stomp out the blogging habit it would seem. And rather ironically, since I’ve been thinking about posting, our internet connection’s mysteriously vanished - no chance of it being fixed until the middle of September either. So annoying, after cutting back on my online time when the flipping thing WAS working. Still, the self-imposed laptop ban definitely helped, I got a lot more done. Not to say that juggling kids and craft didn't have its moments - often I’d get frustrated, or they would, but I got enough stuff made up for the Malvern Show to just about extinguish that small flickering flame of panic. Only four weeks to go. See, I can say that now without feeling ever so slightly sick.

I will show you what I’ve done when things settle down - I’d love some advice - but for now I just wanted to get going again and say hello. 
It’s been a good summer on the whole, and when I say that, I’m choosing to overlook the times I felt more like a ref than a mum; the bickering’s been wild - who said kids get easier as they get older? The only improvement I’ve noticed is they no longer wake up a dawn. And I’m getting some tedious teenage behaviour from the 12 year old, though he does make me laugh with his love of vintage sitcoms - this holiday he watched the Dad’s Army box set - all 39 hours of it. Totally bonkers.

Anyway, for all the squabbling, tantrums and the countless times they chose to ignore the things I asked them to do, I’ve kind of got used to the kids being around. Dreading the return of the school run; hours hanging around car parks, and hounding them to do their homework.

Still desperately clinging to memories of our lovely holiday in France - so relaxing being away from it all for a while, in a different space, even with all my making bits and bobs. I spent many happy hours knitting or sewing under a shady pine tree, watching the kids mess about in the water. Have to say that’s another thing that’s got easier - I no longer have to chase after them, like an anxious shadow.

I’ve even been a bit rubbish at taking holiday photos, not a single sunflower shot, which has got to be a first, though I did snap a sunset or two.

No such lapses on the Vide Grenier front, obviously... Managed to squeeze a few in, and can’t wait to show you what I found, just need to get the kids sorted for the new term. And find a cafe with wifi.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Show time!

It feels a bit weird knitting Christmas trees in July, but it's all part of my master-plan to be more organised for the autumn/festive fairs….well, more than last year (first go at making and selling).
The pressure's on too, seeing as I've just signed up for one in September; and not any old one either, a really big two day show. REally big...

I'm doing it with a friend though, which helps take the edge off the anxiety. Both of us are craft fair newbees, and fired up on coffee and caramel waffles we decided to just jump straight in at the deep end. Pretty much without armbands.
We egged each other on basically. Easier to be brave in company...and cheaper of course.

So, swept along on a wave of sugar/caffeine fuelled enthusiasm, I sort of over-looked the fact I've made diddly-squat to sell really since last time. There is much to do, Much to Do, and the crafting is going to have to fit round keeping the kids happy, and shouty mummy at bay..

I need to be more disciplined - not make so many different things, and set myself targets. No more owls and elephants, but rabbits a-plenty, and I've an idea for another soft critter that's a similar shape. I'm not going to buy any more fabric/wool either because I've enough to be getting on with. Enough to keep me busy for a very, very long time!

Something's got to give though if I'm going to stay sane, so blogging's taking a backseat for a while - not vanishing completely, I'll still be lurking, but I know how much more gets done when the laptop's away.
You know what I'm saying.

I'll post updates when I've more than a couple of Christmas trees to show you, and thanks so much again for stopping by - really, really thank you - it means a lot, that support and friendship rippling out through the ether.
Such a funny old game, blogging - often question why I do it, but if I take a step back, there's no denying it's made the daily drudge more interesting. There's a fair bit of stuff going on now that wouldn't be happening if it wasn't for this small space. And that's a very good thing.

Anyway, whatever you're doing, I hope you have a brilliant summer, and catch up soon :)

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Driving dramas and decoupage daisies

We took Betty the Camper out for a spin last week - Betty had other ideas…
She broke down in the middle of Hereford.
On the busiest road in the middle of Hereford.

It was a total nightmare; we were blocking a lane of traffic, getting evil looks and Betty was going Nowhere.
Thankfully a sympathetic policeman stopped and helped us push her off the road onto a side street.
She's away getting fixed at the moment, and the only good thing about that is it's freed up the garage for a few painting projects. Handy enough with all the rain at the end of last week.

The board at the back is a bath panel - we're redecorating the bathroom - a project sort of brought forward by my eldest sieve-head leaving the taps running…
I also painted the box and the mirror, ready for some napkin decoupage. I haven't done much at all since the chair - and it was just as terrifying as I remember! Though in a good way.
You really need to work quickly; any fussing about or over brushing and the napkin disintegrates. Believe it or not, the thing that made all the difference this time was a 50p pastry brush from Wilko. Worked a treat smoothing out wrinkles, and so much cheaper than decoupage brushes.

Definitely got better at it as I went along - quite a big difference between my first and last piece. Hoping it's not glaringly obvious to anyone else!

The mirror came from the local auction and cost £8; the flowery napkins were only £2 and I used ordinary PVA glue.
Because there's a need for speed with decoupage, once you get cracking it doesn't take long at all: this only took about half an hour.

I was tempted to add more flowers, but the general consensus here was less is more, and I should leave  it be. What do you think? Enough with the flowers, or room for a few extras?

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Flamingos flock to the Zoo

A blogger friend told me recently that cardboard egg boxes were being phased out in favour of plastic ones, and honestly my heart sank. Now I know it's not the most earth-shattering news in the great scheme of things, but I'm very attached to my cardboard egg boxes; they're my crafting staple; my recycling rubbish of choice. I look at them and I see…well, I see animals and flowers and all sorts really. Most of the Roll up to the Zoo gang have an egg box bit.
I just don't feel the crafty love for the flimsy plastic boxes; just don't inspire me at all, and my husband set one down in a bag with a little too much enthusiasm the other day and broke 4 eggs. Yeah I'm biased, but that's rubbish isn't it.
Thankfully it turns out the new plastic packaging isn't being used by all supermarkets, or for all types of eggs, so, panic over. For now.

I haven't rolled up to the zoo here for a while, mainly because I'm still trying to see if there's any hope of making it into a book (one of the first pieces of advice I read in a guide about getting a craft book published was to keep your idea to yourself, so I've completely blown that one haven't I…)
Not sure what to do if I'm honest - some days I feel positive, and certain it's a good idea; other days I doubt EVERYTHING.
Never used to be so scared of having a go.

Anyway, enough of that - on with the flamingos!

 I know I've said this before, but they've got to be the easiest so far.

As well as an egg box, you'll need some pink craft feathers, glue, paint, black felt tip and a pipe cleaner.

We had a bit of a pipe cleaner quandary, because (as we found out) flamingos have pink legs - but the pink pipe cleaner didn't look quite right with the pink paint we used, so we opted for orange instead.

Cut out an egg cup and push the bottom up with your thumbs to round it a bit. Paint pink + part of the egg box lid (doesn't have to be a big piece - pull off any label)

Draw your flamingo's head and neck - sort of like a big S shape, wider and straighter where it joins the body and long enough here so you can slot it into a hole make on one side of the egg cup (see pic).
Use as a template if you want to make more than one.

Fold the pipe cleaner and use a little bit of card to glue it in place underneath - leave yourself a good length of pipe cleaner.

Draw on eyes and a beak with a marker pen and glue on two feathers.

For the watery setting, get some blue paper (or paint some), draw around the lid, cut out, then press this bit of paper into the edges of the lid before cutting out the water (see first pic) - this helps get a good fit.

Do the same with a bit of yellow paper, then cut away some of the blue, in a wavy fashion. We added another shade of blue, using the waves on the first piece as a guide. And if you're using different shades, circles look good (where the flamingo is going to stand), giving a kind of ripple effect. Or you could just paint these on.

Before sticking, cut a strip of green, draw a pencil line a cm or two from the bottom and fold along it. Cut a fringe of grass up to this fold. Looks better if it's uneven and different heights. Add a few yellow rush grass tops if you want.
Press the grass around one end of the lid and snip almost up to the fold in the two corners (pic 4). It will now sit better under the water. Glue everything in place.

Poke a hole through the middle of the ripple circles, or where you want to put your flamingo (keep the hole small - made mine too big!) Bend the pipe cleaner over when you're happy with the leg length and sellotape underneath. Bend over the end of the other leg until they're both the same size, and strike a flamingo pose!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Loom band loopy

Now I realise not everyone will know the joys of loom bands…. but for those who do, this may ring true….

I'd like to meet the Loom Band guy and shake him by the hand,
then cuff him with a fishtail chain made from those stretchy bands...

Yes, I KNOW they help kids concentrate and weave stuff on a loom,
but I'm sick of finding hoards of them in every single room.

They've turned up in the cat's food dish and on the loo brush doofer,
and if my lot want any more they'll find them in the hoover.

Linking up with Prose for Thought

Monday, 16 June 2014

Mini crochet giveaway!

I got this great crochet book recently - Mini Amigurumi - and had a bit of a light bulb moment when the author, Sara Scales described herself as a miniaturist on the first page. I thought, that's me! I am that person who loves shrinking things to dolls-house-size proportions! Always have really, right back to when I was 8 or 9 and I'd make the smallest animals out of felt. Somewhere I still have a teeny green pony in a matchbox shaped bed... lord knows where the inspiration for that came from.

Miniature things have always intrigued me; I've already come clean about my Kinder egg toy collection, so, frankly, it would have been more of a surprise if I hadn't bought the book...

It's packed full of the sweetest little crocheted creatures - the patterns are straightforward and easy to follow, and most of them are pretty similar; it's their tinsy-winsyness that tested my crochet skills. I used a 2mm hook which was mini enough, but the things in the book are crocheted with a 1mm hook. Don't think I'm quite ready for that, and also didn't help myself with my choice of yarn, which frayed and separated and drove me mad! Quite a few hook-bending moments of frustration…

Anyway, on the whole I enjoyed making the little critters, but don't think I'll be adding them to my Christmas Fair stock, only because they take me ages to make...longer than their size might suggest. Isn't that often the way with small things? And if I had to sell them for just a few pounds I think I'd cry.

As I've made a few though, I thought I'd do a little giveaway - so if you'd like one (made into a keyring), leave a comment and tell me your favourite, and I'll put names in a hat - literally the old-fashioned way, because anything more advanced is stepping into unchartered techie waters - and I'll get my youngest to do the honours.
I'll let you know the winner at the end of the week.

Linking up with Handmade Monday