Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's a Hap-hap-happy Day!

Doodle-oodle-oodle-oodle-oodle-ay! The sun is shining and the weather is unseasonably warm! In fact I do think September's been better than August in the ole sunshine stakes! M has been paid and returned home wearily from the Tescos hunt the other day, proudly bearing a beautiful bouquet of flowers for me. Aw, isn't he sweet?!

The girls take every opportunity to lush out in the sunshine and this morning are enjoying a greenhouse type experience on the bed

There has been some progress with my BPT hoodie- I have actually moved onto the main body after separating the armholes out onto scrap yarn! It's a bit of a relief because I was up to about 350 stitches on the needle and it was getting to be a bit of a chore with each row. You knitted for absolutely ages and then you had done only one row! Things should move along a bit quicker now, I like to be able to see progression with a project. It's actually starting to take shape at last and I can get a good idea of what the finished garment will look like. I'd better get cracking with it if I want to wear it when the weather starts to get cold, particularly with the price of fuel going up so much. Like most people, we won't be able to afford to heat the house so much, even with M's employee discount (he works for one of the big energy companies). With all my various ailments, I do need to be warm!

Sis came over last night for dinner and a girlie craft session. We had lovely vegetarian Kiev's, salad and garlic bread, with a nectarine, fromage frais, meringue and strawberry coulis sauce layered desert. Yummy! I don't often get the opportunity to cook for someone else, so it was nice to get a little creative with food! I should have taken pictures, I carved the tomatoes and radishes into flower shapes, and the spring onions into curly stalks, it all looked very pretty! Unfortunately things got a little rushed because M wanted a lift to his mates to watch the football, and when I got back, Sis had just arrived. Last time I went over to her house, I taught her how to solder and we made agate slice pendants.

Unfortunately one of the pendants she'd soldered came off its ring, and some of them were a little rough on the edges and rubbed against her skin. We tidied them up a little, and then had a card making session. I'm a little ahead of my Christmas cards now! How organised am I? These are recycled cards, made using some of last years (I get loads of cards at Christmas - perks of working in education)

My hippy swap over on Craftster is just about finished. I think everyone's received now, so I'll be wrapping that up officially. I'm thinking of organising a Hippy New Year swap. I think there's lots of scope for warm hippy accessories, don't you?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Up in Smoke!

On my way home from College the other day I spied a huge black column of smoke in the sky, with the biggest flames you ever did see, licking around the base of a building which was totally obscured. Seriously, this was a massive fire which could be seen, not only throughout our town and county, but also as far as the surrounding counties! A carpet factory had gone up in smoke and a combination of spray adhesives and heating boilers had created an enormous explosion. The fire raged for days and required 16 fire engines to tackle the blaze. Is it very bad that my first instinct was to photograph it for my blog? Is it even worse that I did it whilst driving along the dual carriageway at approximately 60 miles per hour? Yes, I'm a little ashamed that at the first sign of something 'out of the ordinary', my neck immediately turned to rubber and I probably paid more attention to the skies and that ominous pillar of smoke lurking over the town, than I did to the traffic. Luckily for me the traffic was pretty quiet as it was mid afternoon!

I finished my diary cover by the way. I found some wonderful gold elastic that matched the gold swirls on the fabric.


It hooks round a golden button at the back and keeps the diary closed as well as holding in whatever loose papers I have tucked inside. I'm a bit of a bugger for that! All sorts of bits and pieces get shoved into the back cover.

Just look how gorgeous this fabric is! Waves of turquoise and emerald green, and look how well the button matches that theme. Yummy!

Do you remember this sari silk I had? I finally got around to doing something with it. I had considered making a pair of wrap pants, but they flap in the wind and you don't want to see my thighs! That's just not a pretty sight! So in the end, I made these flared pants. As sari silk is pretty sheer, I decided to line it with some turquoise lining fabric. They need ironing (I'm have to see if I can find the travel iron) but I'm pretty pleased with them.  

Look at the lovely sheen this silk has. They should be pretty warm too since they're lined. 

Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn Equinox

This is the time of the Autumn Equinox, day and night are equal in length today and it's a good time for focusing on balance and harmony in our lives. We transition from summer into autumn, the days will now be getting shorter and the nights longer. Mabon, the end of the second Harvest festival of the season, is a good time for reflection, to look back on the past year, what you have achieved and learnt, to give thanks and to plan for the future. What have you achieved? What can you give thanks for this year? Even the darkest of times has a spark of light if we look hard enough...





Love and Light to you all.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hell of a week!

Well, what a busy week it's been! I'm back at school again, college started last week and my evening course is in full swing, one evening a week plus Saturdays too. I'm working 1:1 with two students with Aspergers at college, which can be a little intensive, my GSCE and portfolio students at school have just started this week, so I've been giving them all the introduction to the course and some basic art skills, and on my TESOL evening course I'm learning Gudjerati as part of the Unknown Language unit. I can now count to 15, greet someone, order fruit at the market and tell someone which part of my body hurts! Essential skills! I have a presentation to give in a few weeks about present perfect tenses and a guided observation coming up. I've also contracted the BTSV - otherwise known as the Back To School Virus! You spend all year building your immunity up to the many bugs that teenagers seem to culture like little petri dishes, you have the whole summer away from them in your own sweet little world, then it's back to school and your immune system just can't cope - wham! The worst cold/flu you can imagine. My immune system's compromised as it is, so I hate this time of year! My head's thumping, I can't breathe and I have that sore throaty, ear achey feeling that tells you that there's more to come!

School is kind of interesting at the moment, we have more Eastern Europeans this year, and less Oriental. I've had my first students from Kazakhstan this week! It's so weird, they look oriental in skin tone and eye shape, but they are taller and have almost Russian accents. The whole dynamics of the classroom have changed; before the classroom was predominantly Oriental, naturally a very quiet group of people, and now we have more Eastern European too - Polish, Russian, Latvian, and Ukrainian, to name a few - and they are so much more chatty and lively! I've had to raise my voice several times this week, which is unheard of!!

I've been doing photograms at college again. This weeks task was to bring in objects that identified you as you. Mine incorporated a leaf, a flower, a lightly woven scarf and some jewellery. I rather like this one, it has lots of texture to it.

I received my academic diary which is, as always, a boring black colour, so I decided to make a cover for it. I was going to use the cover that Lynda made me, but alas, it didn't fit the diary. I had this gorgeous gold swirled, turquoise and emerald fabric stashed, and a lovely turquoise cotton that Sunspotted sent me in one of the OWS swaps which matched perfectly so off I went.

I overlocked (serged) the edges and folded over the top and bottom. Then I created a pocket flap at either end for the diary cover to slide into and serged those.

And here we go, a much prettier diary. I want to put some elastic on it to hold it closed whilst it's travelling in my bag. I always end up with lots of pieces of paper, timetable changes, stuff like that, tucked into the back of my diary, so a piece of elastic will stop those being lost too. I want to get some gold elastic, which I thought I had in my stash, but apparently not, so I guess a trip to Hobbycraft is called for!

I also whipped up another book bag. This one just needs embellishing, I've serged the edges together to make it super strong and I'll probably applique something on it. This is intended for bigger books - I have a big one in my car at the moment that I take to the hospital with me when I go for appointments and blood tests and it's getting a little dog eared!.

I'm making slow progress with my various knitting projects, but they are progressing. Life's just a little hectic at the moment. I'm looking forward to a lie-in tomorrow. Anyway, time for bed. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!



Sunday, September 14, 2008


Namaste! Kem chho? I've been learning Gudjerati in my TESOL classes. The phrases mean 'hello! How are you?' We started the course with some simple grammar lessons (in English), some introduction to lesson planning and learning styles, and then yesterday (yes, we had a class on Tuesday, and then on a Saturday, it's hard going!) we had our first unknown language lesson. We have four lessons in another language, which is conducted totally in that language. No English what so ever. This serves to help us empathise with students learning English and to teach us of the value of the senses whilst learning another language. When you don't understand what someone is saying to you, you listen to the inflection of the word, the body language being used, gestures, pictures and all sorts of other things. The script of Gudjerati is also completely different to the Western alphabet so there's nothing you relate to for pronunciation, you end up writing words phonetically to help you remember the sounds. It's very tiring but quite good fun! We have to write a journal about our experiences as a student, and the different techniques and learning styles covered in the classes.

This week saw the posting day for the Hogwarts swap that I'd been doing over on Craftster. I received my lovely package from Feline (click here for the photos) and here's the final parts of the package I sent to her. The wand pen was finally finished and I made a gift box to present it in. I painted and old dominos box brown and handstamped it in lettering which said Ollivanders Wands, with cute little corner embellishments. Then I sealed the lot in sparkly Mod Podge.

I think it turned out quite well and was a lovely way to present the pen. I just love presentation packaging.

I made a couple of albino pygmy puffs and stuck little feet and eyes on them. I had some fluffy white wool which is why they're white!

And the Fimo pieces I'd made were stuck to the outside of this A4 journal which is covered with tissue paper and painted brown for a sort of old leathery look and sealed in good old Mod Podge. I dry brushed the edges with gold paint for a distressed look.

Some of the pages I started to fill and roughly illustrated in as if the book had originally been a students, kind of in a 'Half-Blood Prince' way. Most of the pages were left blank for Feline to use the book as a journal.

I'm planning to take a swap break for the moment, although if a good swap comes up, I might be tempted to join in, but I intend to concentrate on my coursework for a bit. I may organise a Hippy swap for around Christmas time. Any crafts I make for a while will probably be for me or for gifts. I have four knitting WIPS which I want to get finished! My BPT hoodie is something I'd like to wear as soon as it gets cold! Best laid plans though! 

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Bear Necessities

Have you noticed how much of your crafts are dictated by your needs? For example, last week I made myself a water bottle cosy because I drink a lot of water and sometimes the water filter dispensers at college are just too cold to drink water straight from. I drink from my bottle and when that empties, I fill that again from the dispenser and it'll warm up a little before I have another drink. This weeks essential crafting extravaganza? A book bag. I made it last night during our Sunday night film night (M and I snuggle up on the sofa in pj's with munchies and a blanket, watching a film together); it's something I've had in my mind for a few weeks now. I nearly always have a book in my bag, especially at the moment when I seem to be spending so much time at the surgery or the hospital, and they can get a little dog eared, so I wanted something to protect them.

I made it from scrap polar fleece, so the fabric has a little give in it and blanket stitched round the edge. I decided to make it fasten with two elastic bands which go over and around the book, so that it'll hold big or small books securely.

The bands go all the way round

The pretty patch is a peacock that I printed onto some of that printer fabric stuff, and sewed onto felt. It works really well and I'm pleased with the result. That lovely rich purple makes me happy when I look at it, and it feels so nice and soft to the touch. 

Here's where I am with my 'Baroque' by the way

The yarn is a beautiful emerald green colour with a silver thread running through it! It's easy enough so far.

Do you want to see what I've been doing today??? Photograms!! You'kno, I'd forgotten just how much fun proper photography is! I totally love the convenience of digital photography, don't get me wrong, but there's something about darkrooms, and enlargers and chemical baths that is just so much fun! I haven't had access to a darkroom since Uni and the smell of the chemicals really took me back. There's just nothing like watching your picture appear as if by magic on that square of paper you're squinting at in the dim red light of the darkroom. We made these by laying some photographic paper under the enlarger, laying an assortment of translucent and opaque items onto the paper (whatever we had about our persons) and then exposing it under the enlarger light for about 5 seconds. Then we put it in the developer, the stop bath and the fixer in that order, and washed them in water. Actually, this is a photo of a photogram because it was easier than scanning it *lol*

I start my TESOL course tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hello September

It's September. Back to school and college. Back to a regular paycheck (hurray). Back to crummy weather - haha - that one's a joke y'know, we've had crummy weather aaalll summer long (apart from 2 weeks which were glorious - yep, those weeks, you know the ones I'm talking about). We've had terrible rain all week and parts of Britain are starting to flood, dog walks are wet and short and the house smells of wet dog all the time - yuch! I haven't been back to work full time yet, school doesn't start till the 15th, and college has just been having induction week this week. I have two jobs - one as an art teacher in an Independent School where a lot of students are from overseas which I love but is only part-time. I have students from all over Europe, Russia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, Nigeria, as well as Britain. They're here to learn English and also to gain qualifications to enable them to go to University here. I love teaching art and I love the international flavour of the school, all different cultures blending together, I love to see what they bring to art from their own countries.

My other job is at the local FE college, working with students with Special Educational Needs (I've had over eight years experience working with students with brain injuries, mental health issues and special needs). This year I have a few days 1:1 with a student with Aspergers Syndrome in the art department, so I get to mix my two skills. I've done 2 days induction with him this week and he's such a sweetie! Outwardly he doesn't appear to display many of the traits associated with Aspergers - his face is animated about 50% of the time, he understands more than direct instruction and he appears to socialise well, but I can see subtle characteristics every now and again; he doesn't like crowds and when the room gets busy, he shows signs of stress - he starts frowning and he puts his glasses on repeatedly (he tells me he only needs glasses for when he concentrates) and he has problems conversing and concentrating. Overall he is very bright and if the induction days are anything to go by, he'll be a pleasure to work with.

So it's been a busy week, I've been to college, to yoga, my belly dancing teacher is on holiday, so no classes this week, I've performed complex duct tape surgery on my Dyson (I have a love hate relationship with my Dyson, it randomly throws itself down the stairs in an effort to escape me!), I went to the pictures with my mates to see Wild Child, a complete chick flick, but we had such a laugh! I nearly didn't recognise Aidan Quinn though; he looks so old, if it wasn't for those trademark bue eyes...

Wild Child

Released: 2008

Go to IMDb page

Information ©

Wild Child

Emma Roberts, Shelby Young, Aidan Quinn, Georgia King, Ruby Thomas, Juno Temple,

It's a good thing the cinema wasn't that full though, we laughed the whole way through it, and not necessarily because the film was funny! It was good to have a silly girls night out.

I have been crafty too! Remember the jumper (I think Americans would call it a sweater?) sleeve? Well, this is what it became, crafted whilst listening to a Doctor Who audiobook!

I kept the cuff as the opening so that the bottle could slide in and out, but also be kept securely without a fastening. I can pretend to be a wino and drink from the bottle whilst it's in the cosy! I found a cute flowery button that was nearly the same shade of the cosy, and cut random circles from the scrap felt that was left to add as decoration.

I embroidered the circles on with embroidery silk, and used a blanket stitch to go around the wrist strap too. I wanted to be able to hook it around my wrist and still have a free hand for holding stuff.

And look! Aren't I a good girl? I've been doing my homework! I even *gasp* cleared a reasonable space on my desk and removed the protective craft cover to get in the mood! The only thing that was distracting me though was that I noticed that my trusty folder (which I've had since Sixth Form) has definitely seen better days. I like this folder though; it has a piece of elastic which cunningly holds it all together and shut, and because it doesn't have a ring binder, I can put handouts and things in without losing them, or having to carry a hole punch around. I may have to re-cover it and put a new piece of elastic on.

I've been doing an assignment on tenses - simple and continuous (progressive) tenses, active and passive, perfect tenses, and parts of speech. Here's an example: Which part of speech is the underlined word - Smoking is a disgusting habit. Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Anyway, have a good weekend! I'm off to teach people how to paint pottery!

Stormy Cloud

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Last day of Summer

Saturday was a splendidly sunny day here, probably the last sunny day we'll get here for another year *sigh* so M and I decided to take the Uberhound up to Bradlaugh Fields which is one of my towns best kept parks. It used to be the local golf course and then when that moved, the local residents campaigned to keep the area as a green space. It has some nice features like this human sundial at the top of the hill. To use it, you stand in the space that is marked for that month of the year and the sun will throw your shadow onto the dial which will hopefully give you the right time. It does work as well! M and I checked the time and Joe ran around us in circles, rounding us up and wondering why we were staring at the ground excitedly!

There's a stream that runs through the park into a pond alongside a barn which has been converted into a community hall. M and his mates used to call it the haunted house when he was young and dared each other to go in it. The pond always looks this cloudy colour because the area has quite clay-like soil. This park is really near to where M grew up and was still a golf course when he was young, so he points out all the areas where the different holes were and the bunkers and stuff. He always tells me stories of his childhood exploits at the golf course when we go walking up there, like when he and his friends would hide in the rough and when the golfers had taken their shots and were walking to the hole, (at some point they would disappear out of view because it's quite hilly there) the boys would run out, nick the golf balls and hide back in the bushes laughing at the golfers trying to find their errant balls! Yes, he was a handful I think!


There's a woodhenge which is getting old and a little rotten now. Some of the 'stones' have fallen over and spoil the circle effect. The photo makes the day look dark, but it was bright sunshine, the sun was in my face though and I think my camera darkened it automatically. M and I have been there to celebrate the Winter Solstice a few times. We took Joe when he was a puppy for a Solstice and he was a terror, he wanted to chase everyone else's dogs and at 5 o'clock in the morning, the last thing you need is to be frowned at for being bad parents. Yep, Joe was a handful too. 

Here's Joe exploring the river bed. He's a bit better behaved now, though he still would like to chase other dogs given the opportunity; he also likes to be chased, but there aren't many dogs who want to take on such a large Shepherd! His favourite hobby is rolling small dogs. He has it down to a fine art, he sticks his nose under their belly and then flips them. Small Dog then squeals in panic and runs in the opposite direction with Big Dog (Joe) hot on his heels. Small Dog's Mummy/Daddy scowls at Big Dog's Mummy who makes futile attempts to recall Big Dog who is having the time of his life. Big Dog eventually returns looking pleased with himself. Big Dogs Mummy slinks off with her hand firmly clamped round Big Dog's collar threatening Big Dog with hours of Solitary Confinement for Showing Her Up. He doesn't do this every time, though, just at random, unpredictable times. I content myself with knowing that at least he will never return home to tell me that he's got his girlfriend pregnant.  


It's nice to sit on one of the benches and enjoy the sunshine. The sun was nice and it was peaceful, all you could hear was the birds singing. Ah, bliss!  Hot



I loved the colour of these rosehips. Don't they shout of autumn! I love the reds and oranges. Knowing England, the autumn and winter will probably be sunnier than the summer! Not warm though. It's never ever warm here. Humid, yes. Warm, no. My purple tootsies are testament to that!

Since Saturday the weather has been rubbish! We woke up on Sunday to thick thick fog, and yesterday we had a thunder and lightening storm, and enough rain to make Noah start panic buying at B&Q! I went to my yoga class last night and during the meditation period at the end, I could hear the rain drumming on the roof so hard it made it difficult to get to that happy place where I like to go when I meditate, where the sun shines and the sand is warm, and the waves are gently crashing on the beach. Since I was flooded ten years ago, I find it hard to be relaxed and meditationally blissed out in heavy rainfall *lol* Still, if we do have a massive flood, I have a pile of good books to read and I had an email this morning to tell me that I've won a book which hasn't been published yet! Well, it's being published shortly and they want me to review it! Hurray! A sneak preview!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Some recon projects

I whipped out my sewing machine the other day to do a few reconstruction jobs I've had in the sewing pile for a while. The first was a skirt which I loved colour wise, but it was a weird length, kind of mid calf on me, which just isn't very flattering; I like em either ankle length, or just above knee length. So I chopped off a lot of it until it came to just above my knees. I can either wear it with some black tights and long boots, or a pair of jeans, and I'll be able to wear it with my new red necklace!




Then I had a cheap pink crew neck tee shirt which was oh so boring and not my favourite neckline. I hate crew necks, so I decided to chop this about a little. I sewed a v-neck of ribbon, intending to cut the neckline away, but then I was struck by inspiration and tried something else instead.



I left the bias edging in place and cut a v shape out below it. It looks kind of cool on, but I think I need to add something else to it, it still looks a bit plain!



I eventually varnished the red Fimo beads and made a bracelet up for my partner in the HP swap. I don't always varnish Fimo, but I like how much better these beads looked after varnishing.

I started my homework, an grammar assignment based on identifying particular words in a sentence, is it a noun, an adjective, an indefinite article, etc, etc. Harder that it seems. I learnt English language and grammar at school, very young, and we did all that stuff then, but that was, um, many years ago, and once you learn to speak and write your own language perfectly, you tend to forget all the rules and regs that go with it. I'm taking a TESOL course which will qualify me to teach English to students where English is not their first language. I think we actually do several classes in a language that none of us speak so that we as teachers can understand how it feels to be taught in a language that we don't understand. I've heard rumours that the tutor might teach in Japanese. That'll be interesting. I think Americans have much more do do with Japan than we do here in the UK. I often see American craft sites and blogs taking inspiration from Japanese culture. With my art students I'm exposed to Chinese, African, Russian and European cultures far more. One of last years Units for my A-level students was the Art of Tibet, and another had an African Art and Craft theme. They get to pick from a choice of five or six. I was curious to see how some of my Chinese students approached the Tibet unit, most of them are Buddhist and were able to either visit Tibet during their Christmas break or to draw on memories of the place. Most of them have no idea of the Chinese/Tibet controversy as the Chinese Government controls what the people are told about. I remember discussing iconic imagery with a Chinese student and referring to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and the photo of the Unknown Rebel by Jeff Widener and he had no idea of what I was talking about.

Anyway, I'm off to bed shortly, I've been inducting art students at college all day, very boring and very tiring. The first full days work I've done for a few months and it's only been just under a month since my stroke. Wow, that makes me sound like an old woman! I say the words 'my stroke' and it doesn't sound like I'm talking about me. Ah well, it's good to be actually earning money again!



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