Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Double Whammy

There seems to be a shoe-buying spree amongst my friends at the moment - both Ania and Christiane have indulged, and my sister, Auntie Fashion, turned up at my house yesterday from the sale at Faith with these:

I laughed - my calling her a Bling Ho' is totally justified, and now I have photographic evidence.

Having completed my secret project and posted it to the edge of the known world, so far away that there is no recognized civilization, it was accepted with a most gratifying, rewarding reception; and now I can post pictures of it. It's made from the hand-dyed 100% merino superwash I purchased from Abstract Cat that I posted about here; I managed to trick the recipient into choosing what she wanted without realizing it was for her. I love to be sneaky, but so rarely manage it, not being able to keep secrets or surprises very well - it's the gloating that tends to give me away.

I'm very happy with it indeed - the traditional Shetland lace stitch pattern I used (Cat's Paw) was peculiarly appropriate and in the way of an in-joke and clue, since I hadn't included anything to say who it was from ....

And I completed another scarf for my Christmas stash - I knew who this would be for as soon as I saw the color; it's in Sirdar Blur, which is a bit of a mare to knit with, all those fluffy bits catch on the tips of the needles, but I'm happy with the results:

Friday, 25 June 2010

Green Day

At last, the weekend is here. The house is gleaming, I finished my secret knitting project, it is hot and sunny. What more could one want ? Even Destructo Boy has created instead of destroyed:

Meet Mr.Greenhead. Destructo Boy's class had just done this when he joined the school, so his teacher kindly gave me the bits necessary to recreate this living work of art at home. Much thought and discussion went into what shape his mouth should be, and how to stick on his eyes; there was a definite statement that Mr.Greenhead did NOT need a nose. He has been watered - sometimes thrice daily - in the urgency that he should GROW. And now he has sprouted, Destructo Boy was a little perturbed that Mr.Greenhead seems to be getting green all over, not just on top of his head. We decided it was a beard, since I hadn't actually looked at it properly. I am sticking with a beard, since I'm not sure I'm up to explaining a monobrow ...

And I cooked dinner. Yet again, proof:

And just to balance out the envy of endless hot days at the beach (Father), I need to just show you these:

2 lbs of fresh, tart, English gooseberries, picked today from a nice man's garden up the road ....

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Simple Pleasures

Gardening is such a rewarding pastime - for so little effort (if you plan it right) there is so much reward.


patio rose 'Sweet Dreams' and patio rose 'Sweet Magic'

Both are scented - no point in having roses without a fragrance; the pansies you see with 'Sweet Magic' I bought last year at B&Q in the reduced section for £1.00 for a tray of 16 plants; cut them back in autumn, and they have come back beautifully this year. I do love a bargain.

And this is why I want to come back as a cat in another life:

This is Jewel and Inky on the back wall of the garden yesterday, where they spent all afternoon. Around 9pm Inky tottered in, ate, and then went straight to sleep on the back of the sofa. Sleeping in the sun is obviously tiring work. Jewel now comes to me to be stroked and cuddled - DH even managed to stroke her once or twice; although she is still a wary creature. It has taken about 6 months for her to get to this stage, but totally worthwhile, and so satisfying.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


While watching the pre-budget news coverage on TV this morning, I became increasingly uneasy: there's no way that it isn't going to hurt everybody. No point in getting enraged at the Labor government that made this mess: what's done is done, and now the country must pay.

So I began to think about what I could do to help my family survive the cuts that are coming. My father had offered us a part of his huge garden to grow vegetables on, but his house is far enough away to make a daily trip (without the use of a car) a little on the challenging side - when one is dragging tired children along.

I spoke with DH, since his physical support of my project is vital for its success; having secured his enthusiastic response, I spoke with our landlady, who also gave carte blanche for my project.

The photo is of the back half of out patio garden as it is now, this morning. Notice the lush growth since the pelleted massacre of snails and slugs. Behind my carefully balanced troughs and pots is this:

ie. a waste of space, since we don't use the table as it's set on gravel and one tends to sink or yaw at unexpected moments. The cats using the gravel as a litter tray is also not the most inviting aspect in the world.

My bright idea is to scrape the gravel off, peel away the suppressant fabric, and dig it over in order to plant veggies. It's small enough to be manageable, yet large enough to provide enough of what we want; it's sunny most of the day, and sheltered. It will also have the added benefit of improving our diet, as we are not as a rule a veggie eating family - we prefer salads. It will provide exercise and fresh air, and interest for the children.

Although the title refers to Archimedes, I feel like Einstein, someone who apparently couldn't tie his own shoes until an advanced age ....

Saturday, 19 June 2010


I don't want to bore you with details of the mad week of school appeal hearings, hospital appointments and dragging Ingrid the Volvo to the garage; instead let me tell you of the postal bonanza that arrived this week.

In this photo you can just make out the pails of base oils for making soap, delivered by courier. In front of them are two knitting books, Knitted Lace of Estonia and Victorian Lace Today, paid for with Amazon vouchers from doing online surveys about energy drinks, facial moisturizers and other necessities of modern life. Both books are full of the most delicious lace knitting patterns; the Estonian lace looks quite advanced, but I feel I might be able to manage the simpler patterns in the Victorian Lace book without having to expand my already extensive range of swear words.

This means that my next yarn purchase will be some form of laceweight yarn - quite likely from the efficient and friendly Laura at Abstract Cat (leapylees on Ravelry). Her yarns come in some fabulous colors, weights and fibres; the ball you can see in the photo is 100% merino superwash in the colorway 'Red Wine and Chocolate'; it is very, very soft and non-scritchy. How could you resist a yarn with that name ? And her customer service is fast and friendly.

By Fedex, their Belo had sent the WorldCupMad children some things to make them scream, holler, leap and jump with surprise and happiness:

They are now the proud owners of Honduras shirts, hats, scarves and bags. Now all they think they need is a vuvuzela. And no, that is in NO WAY a request ! As the noise is the most irritating I've heard in years.

I also managed to complete the Hammer Hoodie: a fast, easy knit from Bernat, and therefore a pattern I'll use again, once I've worked out how to make the garter stitch border not flip over the stockinette body ...

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


I guess since this is the second time someone has nominated my blog for this award, it can no longer be just be a one-off freakish aberration the day Alison was off her meds. Unless, of course, Mimi has also not been wearing the tin foil hat as carefully instructed (with diagrams and everything).

I am, of course, both touched and honored that my two favorite nutters managed to escape the asylum for long enough to hotfoot it to the nearest internet cafe just to nominate this blog.

I think I am supposed to list 10 odd things you might not know about me - where to start on a list that might be infinite ?

1. songs I want played at my cremation:
2. I once sat next to Herb Reed of The Platters during a plane flight; his diamond and gold Rolex was amazing. Ostentatious, but amazing.
3. My favorite place in the world is here. I will live there if I win the lottery.
4. I rarely watch a movie with a 'message', and never one with a bad or unhappy ending.
5. This is my idea of the perfect male body. Although he needs to be taller.
6. I am English by birth, Czech/Trinidadian and English by parentage.
7. I am fascinated (and knowledgeable) about plant poisons.
8. I believe washing powder/liquid adverts.
9. I always cry at the end of this. Watch it from 6:58 mins.
10. I will own another Alsatian before I die.

And now to pass forward the accolade, 10 Beautiful Blogs:
1. Hestia's Larder
2. Stick Horse Cowgirls
3. Magic Hands
4. Unbought Delicacies
5. Tarot Eon
6. Patti Flynn
7. Needles of Iron
8. Cherry Makes
9. Fridica
10. You Just Gotta Keep Knittin'

Enjoy !

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Unequivocal Perspecuity

I had a call from Kathy Kenna this week asking me if I'd had any further thoughts on becoming a local councillor, as the selection meetings are coming up next month. Well, actually, no I hadn't, since I wasn't convinced that it wasn't some prank cooked up by someone for who knows what reason.

I promised her I'd look through the information she'd given me and get back to her by the end of the week. I read through the booklets and leaflets, which did tell me quite a lot that I didn't know.

My main concern was the time commitment involved: apparently the average is 16 hours a week, but it also depends on how involved you get. I have a record for throwing myself into things, so 16 hours is looking like a serious underestimation. Although the elections are not until next year, with Destructo Boy not yet in full-time school and DH away all week, this is likely to prove an issue, as I would have to pound the streets and bash on many, many doors during my campaign to be elected.

I spoke with DH about it all, who tried to be helpful by saying he'd be supportive; good friends have also told me I'd be perfect for it. So I thought I'd pull a few cards for insight. I asked, 'What do I need to know about becoming a councillor at this time ?', with card 1 being what is likely to happen if I do it, card 2 what if I don't, and a 3rd card just for information.

I didn't have to look past card 1 before I had made my decision:

I'll be dropping Kathy an email later saying I'm definitely interested, but not for now/next year.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Piling Up

It's been a week where things keep coming in, to be added to the calendar: 4 birthday parties, a dance exam (jive), a school trip to a farm, 'Green' Day at one school, film club (Fern Gully), LEA appeal details - and a wedding: DH's youngest sister, in July. Although it's disappointingly not formal, so theoretically no excuse to get out of jeans and trainers. I have categorically told DH that there is no way on earth that I would go to any kind of marriage celebration wearing the slob clothes I wear all week; I'd rather stay home - except I can't tell him that bit or he'd jump on the excuse. He's not a social animal at all, and had been mollified by the whole informality and laid-backness of the event.

I've been requested to knit two specific items: Destructo Boy, who is mad for the World Cup, wants an England sweater; and DH has asked me to make a baby sweater for his colleague's baby in West Ham colors, the colleague being a Hammer. Pity the poor child. So today I picked up the yarn, in burgundy and light blue, to be told that under no circumstances is it burgundy, it is claret.

DH's Father's Day presents have arrived - nothing exciting, aftershave, a mini-vacuum cleaner, and a filter coffee machine. My friend Mandi, who actually drinks coffee where I don't, advised me on the choice of coffee, so he has some Sumatran High Roast and some Italian High Roast coffee to look forward to. It smells like burnt toast.

Some far more attractive smells arrived in the post today, from Jo at Sensory Perfection, ready for my next soapmaking session: Oriental Rose, a much truer rose scent than the English Rose fragrance I had from The Soap Kitchen, where I get most of my base oils from; YlangYlang Patchouli, which I find quite overpoweringly oriental; Cedarwood Patchouli, which I've used before and has been popular; 'Autumn Leaves' which has a fresh, woody scent; 'Forest Fern' which Destructo Boy says smells like squashed leaves - so, a fresh green smell, then; Lemongrass Verbena, which as you'd expect, has a light, fresh but zingy lemon scent; and a sample size of Vetiver, which I think is a heavy masculine sort of woody but musky scent. The Bay Rum fragrance oil that I ordered some while ago, thinking DH would like the traditional scent - I was wrong, by the way - sits on the shelf next to the sweet yet strong Honeysuckle that I've shied away from using because it may be a bit too much of a 'little old lady' type smell, plus florals are more likely to seize the mix. Plenty to be going on with, for sure.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Three Ps

It's a horrible wet chilly grey rainy day, so to remind myself that really it is summer, in spite of all appearance to the contrary, here are two flower photos from my father's garden:



And the third 'P' is Proof - that I do cook occasionally:


Yes, Dad, that is your cast iron frying pan - thanks.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Half-Term Report

Well, the week of half-term whizzed by - Mini-Diva was ill the first weekend, having caught Destructo Boy's bug, but she bounced back after only 2 days to be her usual stroppy self.

We had some fabulously hot and sunny weather - I even discarded my cardigan for an hour or two. The garden is beginning to look lush, although DH is wondering why there is so much green and no flowers yet: gardening is for the patient. There have been a few playdates, and we even squeezed in mowing my father's extensive jungle, that had been a lawn ...

On top of this catalogue of successes, I have also managed to connect Mini-Diva's PS2 to the main TV, and am old enough now to resist the temptation of 'just one more level' that used to keep me up into the wee hours.

Today is a teacher training day, so one final day of the kids being at home - a playdate is scheduled, and all I have left to do is hoover and make sure the kids inflict nothing worse than a flesh wound on each other ....

Last week I completed 3 baby cardigans for DH's colleague's wife: the Stylecraft Wondersoft Baby DK in a lilac print lived up to its name, marvellously soft and easy to knit with. The Cygnet DK in Buttercream that I used for the Star Motif cardigan, not quite so much, but I expect a wash will affect that.

Chevron stripe hoodie

lace-edged cardigan

Star Motif cardigan

I am quite proud of the Chevron-striped baby hoodie, as it was my first foray into any kind of colorwork; I still hate the pattern, though, in spite of modifying it this way - it just seems to take forever. These having been completed, I really must resist the siren call of easy Xmas scarves, and take up again the Willow Leaf Stole ....

The TABI beginners' tarot course is complete, with eight successful students; and in the next week or so I must get round to organizing the next one - there seem to be oodles of people about clamoring for it to begin. I also have a tarot deck to review for the TABI Ezine - an erotic 'adult' deck, so that should be interesting ...