Monday, December 31, 2007

glitter graphics

Happy New Year Glitters

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Medicinal Christmas Spirit

Every year for as long as I can remember, I've developed a horrendous cold and this year hasn't been any different. I have a permanent headache, blocked nose and chesty cough. The mucus demon has moved in and unpacked and I've been burning up with a fever too. I haven't let M put the heating on since Christmas day which is unusual for me as I normally feel the cold. I find it difficult to sleep or really to do much at all when I feel like this. So I have spent the last few days drinking alot of this! I just have this one bottle of mulled wine left (plus alot of Rose) which I plan on drinking tomorrow. Mulled wine is just not right after the festive season. My mate gave me a bottle of mulled cider too, but it is so sweet I could barely finish the cup, never mind the bottle.
I have been cracking on with the Socks of Doom. Look, I've finished one and I'm halfway through the other. Yay! My very first socks. I like the fancy ribbing detail on these; it makes them so stretchy, and I love the colours :-)

And here is my DS Lite, I've been brain training hard - I've managed to bring my brain age down from 80 (v. bad) on Christmas Day, to 45. Not bad in 5 days. M also bought me an accessories pack, with straps, cozies, a bag, spare wands; the whole lot, as well as several games. I love that he thought to get all these extras. It's true that I could have made a case, and strap, and things like that, but I like the fact that he thought enough to make sure that I didn't have to.

My training partner has given it her seal of approval by kissing the corner.

I've also been doing a spot of doodling, just coloured pencils in a sketch pad.

M and I went to Leicester yesterday for our traditional post-Christmas sales visit. Neither of us are really big shoppers, but it's nice to go to a different town for a wander. I bought a gorgeous long Nomads skirt in black velvet with black embroidery on, and M had a tregas piercing. Believe me, he tried to be cool, but I heard his little sucky intake of breath sound when the needle went through. I think it hurt *lol* He's pleased with it though.

As 2007 draws to a close, I have to say that I'm not sad to see the back of it. It's been a hard year and I look forward to a Happier New Year for myself and for all of you.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas time, mistletoe and wine...

Hands up who's eaten and drunk far too much over the last couple of days? *Waves hands in air* 'Me, me!' I feel like a little barrel now *lol* It has been good though. I spent Christmas Eve with M and my mate, we girls managed to drink a bottle of Baileys between us! Christmas Day I spent at my Mum's after visiting MIL in the morning. M visited with me, then spent the rest of the day at home watching football, drinking beer and listening to music really loudly. He's not too bothered by the family thing, and I like the whole long day with my family, cooking dinner, eating, drinking, and playing games. I normally walk halfway home at about 5 or 6, and M walks down and meets me halfway. Then M and I usually spend Boxing Day together as a mini Christmas day. My camera battery decided to run out Christmas morning, so this is practically the only picture I got, my little bruv shot through the beaded curtain as we're just about to sit down for lunch.
So anyway, I received some wonderful presents from my wonderful family as usual. M gave me a Nintendo DS Lite (the last one in town apparently) and a bundle of games and accessories, so I have become totally addicted to Brain Age the last day or two. I started off Christmas Day with a brain Age of 80! (Eeeek) I whittled 10 years off that to 70 yesterday, and also learnt and became addicted to Sudoku. My Mum and Dad gave me this gorgeous Selenite Lamp.

It's well over 12 inches tall and has a rotating base that it can sit on, which shines changing coloured lights up. It's so pretty, and a good cleansing, spiritual stone. I also received a massive pack of coloured card and foam sheets, and some Chinese Letter stamps. My brother gave me the new Pirates of the Caribbean - Worlds End DVD, which we watched last night, and a jewellers ring clamp. My sister gave me a Paua necklace, a bracelet, a hula hoop DVD which looks like fun, a new Anne McCaffrey book, and some funny cat coasters. I also woke up yesterday with a cold and sore throat *lol* as I spent the day on the sofa, eating, drinking mulled wine, playing my new DS and watching DVD's (Pirates and the Hogfather), I managed to cope. Oh yes, we did dash out and buy a new microwave. Hopefully this one will last us a little longer than a year :-) My mate and I will be going to see the Golden Compass on Friday, a girlie outing, and we have to decide what we're all doing for New Years Eve yet!

Monday, December 24, 2007

And now for something completely different....

Okay, lets get the laughs out of the way; here is my 'professional portrait' taken of me at the Hafla. Yes, I had drunk rather alot by this time.
I'm pretty much up to date on the swap front. This is the hat I made for Gemcraft for the Birthday swap. It's not as big as I envisioned. I thought it would be an almost slouchy hat, but it ended up a small beret. I used 20mm needles too - go figure! It's lovely and thick though, there's about 5 strands of wool held together for that lovely textured effect.
And this is what the baskets ended up like. I filled them with goodies.
This ones for the MIL and has mugs and hot chocolate and marshmallows and all manner of goodies inside.

I made these starry earrings on a whim to include in my sisters basket.

And I made this for fun. I haven't decided the fate of this one yet.

And my progress on the Sock of Doom? Here we go, I've turned the heel and I'm on the foot bit now, the gusset is it called?

Anyway, I'm all done now and ready for the big day tomorrow. And just to throw a couple more spanners in the works, because this year hasn't been bad enough, our remortgage cash back payment hasn't cleared yet, and our microwave stopped working last night! On a better note, I got a new job, and have been able to resign from my crappy job! It's not all bad then!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Pay it forward

It's Pay It Forward time! Thanks to Javede from, I can play too. So here's how it works. I will make and send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment to this post on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I do not know what that gift will be yet, and it won't be sent this month, probably not next month, but it will be sent (within 6 months) and that's a promise! What YOU--the recipient--- have to do in return, then, is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog. I will send internationally, so all you need to do is to make sure that I can contact you for your address!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Getting there....

It's M's Birthday today, so I took him out to dinner at his favourite restaurant where he had 'Surf 'n' Turf' (steak and scampi) and I had a salad with chips on the side. Well, that's the diet out of the window.
I have been working steadily on trying to get some more of my Christmas presents done. I'm having to make them all from stash at the moment as our remortgage won't go through till Friday at the earliest (Monday at the latest) so we have no money till then.
I finally finished the Koi painting for my brother. I'm quite pleased with it. It's not the colours I would have done if I'd been able to go out and buy the ones I wanted, but it's not too bad.

I also painted this for my sister. Her living room is this colour, so it should go nicely.

And I've been making lots of crocheted gift baskets (a good stash busting exercise). Here's a mini tut for Penny and anyone else that's interested.

I used a big hook (this one's about an 8m) and 3 or 4 strands of yarn. This will make your basket stiff enough to stand up on it's own. I made a loop (with a pullable tail) and crocheted about 6 dc into it, and then pulled the tail tight so that the hole closed up.

I carried on crocheting in a spiral, increasing every stitch in the first few rounds, then gradually increasing less and less, so that the work laid flat. When it was as big as I wanted the base to be, I used a flat stitch to join the work.

I then flipped the circle over and removing the hook from the stitch, pushed the hook through from the other side and grabbed the stitch again.

I then dc crocheted round the posts of the circle, so it formed a little wall.

Once I'd been round the circle, I switched back to dc in the normal way, joining each row with a slip stitch, till it was as tall as I wanted it to be. The base should have a nice little ridge round it.

When it was tall enough, I carried on crocheting round a little, then chained about 10 stitches and then reattached them to the basket, I carried on a little further and then chained another 10 stitches and reattached them These will form the handles, so make sure that they're roughly opposite each other. All done. I used all the scraps of wool that are too little for bigger projects, and if you change the colours round regularly, the basket will have an interesting texture.

By the way, the cookies were cooked and consumed. They were good. Too good. Even M ate them and he has borderline OCD food fussiness. I'm considering buying a packet of Smarties tomorrow to make some Smarties cookies. Mmmmmm, chocolate.....I shouldn't really; no matter how much I protest that they will be for gifts, I have very little willpower when it comes to chocolate.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's beginning to feel alot like Christmas.....

I've been doing christmassy things today. This morning I lolled in bed whilst watching Hollyoaks and painting my nails. I can't even remember the last time I had the time to do that! It's a pretty pearl colour with tiny flecks of glitter in.
After that, M and I put the Christmas tree up, and topped it off with the lovely felt star that Penny made for me :-)
Here's the whole tree, with the stocking she made me under, and Pippin investigating.

I spent the rest of the day in the kitchen - I made crumbly vanilla fudge, which will be for the Outlaws presents. I prefer my fudge crumbly rather than soft and chewy, so instead of using condensed milk in my fudge, I use evaporated milk. This makes for a lovely crumbly texture that is irresistible, and I'm desperately trying to resist it.

I also made some cookie dough. It's 'resting' in the fridge. M's already tried to steal half the raw dough. I made it using the whipping disk thingy on my mini food processor. I've never used it before, and I love it. It made mixing so easy! The chocolate chips are some crushed almond Hershey Kisses that my sister brought me back from New York. M doesn't really like them, he thinks they're a bit bitter, and I thought he would probably eat them in cookies. If I left them in the fridge, I would have ended up eating the whole packet and my hips would not have thanked me *lol* They're a basic cookie mix, butter, sugar, self-raising flour and an egg, with crushed almond kisses. I'll let you know how they turn out. If M doesn't like them, I can always give them as gifts.

Then I was on a roll. These are some peanut butter treats for the Hound of the Baskervilles. They're even easier: wholewheat flour, baking powder, peanut butter and milk. you'll be pleased to know that they receive the Hounds seal of approval. When a dog sits in front of you drooling at the mere sight of the promised treat in your hands, then you know he likes them. I let him have one to try, and the others are going in his Christmas stocking. I know that he likes peanut butter, he has a Kong, a cone shaped hollow rubber chew that you can fill with treats to keep them busy, I often scrape a little peanut butter inside and watch him craning his tongue inside to get it all out!
By the way, I've been playing with Google Reader lately. I read about it on Ysolda's blog; you paste in the url's of your favourite blogs, and then you just log in and it tells you which one's have been updated, and takes you straight to the new page. I've probably wasted/saved alot of time being able to go straight to new pages, and to find new exciting blogs :-)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house..

Not a creature was stirring, except for Samsara who's been desperately trying to get her presents done for Christmas. So much for time off before the big day to get stuff done. I've had an interview for a job, an interview for a course, private tuition to the worlds laziest student, who's parents are desperately trying to kick his arse into gear. Anyway, let me show you what I've been up to lately. There's been lots of painting, starting with this tree for Karan, heavily influenced by the one that the Felt Fairy gave me in the Stocking Swap (Thank you Penny, it has pride of place in my studio). Karan Wisted it, so I made it quite similar, I toyed with the idea of making it muted colours as Karan's house is decorated in neutrals, but then I decided that that might make it disappear, and the original was so lovely, how could I not pass the love on :-) Hope you don't mind Penny!

I've been recycling too; I keep all my old Christmas cards to make gift tags with, but there has become a mountain of cards over the years, since I started teaching, so this year I decided to use a few up by making new cards with them too.

And here are a few of the others. It's quite therapeutic making recycled cards, you almost don't have to think; it's like the bubblegum of the craft world; insubstantial, but highly enjoyable. Please don't take offense card-makers, I mean that in the nicest way. I hope all of you will save the cards you receive this year and make new Eco-friendly cards with them for next year.

I also made some bookmarks using old cards and notelet cards that people have sent over the years with swap packages. I'm a terrible hoarder and hate to throw anything pretty away. Some of you may recognise some of the bookmark inserts *lol*

As I have been doing a craft fair a week for a while now, painting has also taken up quite a bit of my time. Here's a snap shot of some of the things I've been working on. They will be arriving in my eBay shop shortly (if they don't sell this weekend). Most of my glass art is ethically sound as the glass I use is purchased from charity shops, so I'm recycling, and also supporting charity.

And sensitive as ever to the idea that this is my busiest season of the year, my brother always seems to turn up with little side projects for me. He works as a medical photographer at our local General Hospital and there are three of them in their department; he wanted a set of mugs, one for each of them, with their names on. It's hard to tell in this photo, but the mugs are pint mugs (big). He gave me a free hand, but said they shouldn't be girlie. I only had a couple of porcelain paints, so this is what I did with what I had. Shame it won't be a paid job, but if he insists, I'll charge him a bottle of wine *lol*

So, what presents have I been working on? This is for the above mentioned brother. It's a work-in-progress. He's into tropical fish, and Koi carp. When he was with The Bitch (ex GF), he had a Koi pond and a tropical tank, but when she kicked him out, she let them all die. Bitch. I hope the painting turns out okay.

I've also painted some wineglasses, and will probably pop a bottle of wine in with them. Money's a bit tight this year, so I'm really trying to craft with what I've got in my stash.

I've also been making these yarn baskets which I think may serve as gift baskets. (I'm determined not to buy gift wrap this year - such a waste of paper!) There's about three or four strands of yarn crocheted together, so the baskets are nice and sturdy. It looks a little misshapen in this photo, but it's not IRL, I promise you!

I made the stocking part of these last year, but never got around to completing them, so I finished them off this year. I have such a splendid new stocking myself, (thanks Penny!) that I couldn't let M not have one. The other one was originally going to be for me, but now it will be for the Hound of the Baskervilles, or the Girls (my cats). I have a few little trinkets to pop into M's already, but he won't think to get anything for my stocking. I was going to treat myself to a few nice things to pop in it, but with money being tight, I guess that won't happen now.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Winter Wonderland

I'm not a big fan of the cold - I have circulation problems which means that being cold is painful for me. However I think crisp frosty winter mornings are absolutely beautiful, and when the sun's shining too, it's just the best thing. Today has been one of those days. It is a glorious winter morning. The Hound of the Baskervilles and I went up to Rabbit Field, his favourite place. As long as you layer up and protect your extremities, it's lovely walking in frosty weather. Very cleansing. I plugged into my i-Pod and away we went.
I mean, how can you not find this beautiful?
I call it Rabbit field, but it's proper name is Hunsbury Hill Country Park - it's a large wild area, full of magical little twists and turns, you can walk in the open, or you can explore the various pathways. It was the site of an old iron-age fort and there are lots of little trough and hills.
And to go with all this beautiful sunny weather, here's a sunflower vase I finished last week.

Other than that I went to an interview for a course which starts next September! There are limited places, so I hope I get on. It'll be a years intensive study, but will give me a TESOL certificate, which means I'll be able to teach English to speakers of other languages anywhere in the world. I also went to an interview for a job at my local college, to supplement my school teaching. It'll mean I can hopefully leave my other (crappy) job and will make me happier in the long run.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Eye Candy

I've been playing with Flickr :-)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Walk like an Egyptian...

So I did it! Sunday was the Hafla (belly dance party), we all got to dress up, do a dance each (in our groups), shop, eat, drink and be merry. Then there was an open floor afterwards for lots of dancing. These are some of the girls from our class, along with our picnic and wine glasses *lol* Well, you need some dutch courage if you're dancing in front of a couple of hundred people! We're all well inebriated by this stage :-) My outfit consisted of a fitted top with flowing 3/4 length sleeves, which I cut off to below my boobs, and then glued jewels and stitched sequins to it. I had a flowing black skirt already, and had some red/black two-toned sari material in my stash, which was just big enough to make a panel for the front and one for the back. I threaded the panels onto some elastic and sewed red, black and silver sequins to the bottom edges. I put this on over my skirt, and I had a black and silver coin belt over the top of that. I had a dangly jewelled belly ring and lots of Indian silver jingly anklets and bracelets. It's quite nice to dress up and go really over the top sometimes *lol* We decided to have a session in February where we all met at Jo's house and brought stuff from our stash, and made outfits for the Valentine Hafla, which will be more of a belly dance and burlesque night. If anyone ever saw any of Channel 4's Faking it programme, there was a girl who faked it as a burlesque dancer and then carried on, and she'll be performing. I actually won a prize in the raffle, a voucher for a professional photo, so I had that done and will be getting that in the post at some point!
This is Lynne, our teacher and the one who organised everything. The night was to raise money for MacMillan's Cancer Relief Fund, a brilliant charity which provides nurses and support to cancer sufferers. Most of the dancers are her students, except for some of the guest performers. She's here in her American Tribal style outfit, dancing to Jimmy Hendrix:-)
A tribal drumming performance. Some of the photos get a little blurry from here - my camera doesn't take brilliant action shots, especially at a distance!

The nights only male dancer. He may have had a bit of a belly on him, but boy, he certainly was supple; at one point he bent over backwards and practically touched the floor.

One of the groups was too big for the stage and overflowed to the dance floor.

A swirling dervish!

So yeah, it was a good day. It's a shame that we've now broken up for Christmas and won't be dancing together again till the beginning of January. I still don't like performing on a stage, but the buzz afterwards is good!



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