Thursday, October 30, 2014

fabric shopping



I've just been buying some fabric for Christmas crafting.  These are destined to become a giraffe and a teeny tiny mouse dress for two of the special little people in my life.  By that I mean children, just to be clear!  I did try to get these from my local craft shop and had fun perusing all their fabric (and looking at the staff's amazing handmade Halloween costumes!) but they didn't have quite what I was looking for, so I resorted to eBay for these.  

I have so many things to make for Christmas.  I really need to get started soon, but there's plenty to be made for Halloween and Dulcie's birthday first.  Talking of which, I should go and dig out my sewing machine...

Chri-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-istmas!  Sorry, couldn't resist adding that :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

reading challenge

My sister has persuaded me to take part in the latest Semi-Charmed Book Challenge.  I wasn't sure at first because I don't like being involved in anything that prescribes/restricts my reading choices (I ain't joining no book group!) but then I started thinking about what I might choose for the categories and realised I could read pretty much anything I wanted and that taking part might encourage me to read a wider variety of books and get through some titles that have been languishing patiently on my shelves for years.  In that spirit, I decided to scour my existing book collection for possible candidates first.  I was surprised to find so many suitable books there, many of them that I'm really excited to finally get round to reading.  And I was pleased to have the excuse to treat myself to a couple of new (new-to-me) titles :)

Here's what I plan to read for each category, with links to their Godreads entries.

5 points: Freebie!
(I'm going to save this category in case I stumble across something I really can't wait to read.)

10 points: Read a book written by an author who has published at least 10 books.  

10 points: Read a book of short stories. 

10 points: Read a book with a food in the title. 

15 points: Read the first book in a series that is new to you. 

15 points: Read a book that was originally written in a language that is not your native language.  

15 points: Read a book written by a local author. 

20 points: Read a "bookish book."  

20 points: Read a book with a direction in the title.  

25 points: Read a book from a genre you don't usually read.  

25 points: Read a book with a song lyric in the title.  
FREEDOM (Jonathan Franzen - 576 pages) (i.e. Freedom by George Michael)

30 points: Read two books with a different meal in each title. 

The challenge starts on November 1st, so you've still got time to sign up if you fancy taking part yourself.  I wish I hadn't just started another book - I'm going to be playing catch-up from the get-go!

time-travelling tuesday (part 24)

27 of J [picture of a pig]
I am Laura Donald. I wrote a song.
[The first two a's in this have been made to look like pigs too.  I think the song was Chugga Chugga Choo Choo.  The first verse went like this...

I like going to the beach by train
Dad says it's better to go by plane
Chugga chugga choo choo
Chugga chugga choo choo
Chugga chugga choo choo
Choo choo!]

28th June 1988
Netball Tournoment.

29th June 1988
Today it was the day of the concert.  Garry N was coughing to death.  And in the big ones concert he had to go off in the middle of it because he started coughing again and he was crying.  Today it was the swimming gala.  Kennemont won the cup.

30th June 1988
Brownies. At brownies we were playing games.

1st July 1988
Last day of school.

2nd July 1988
Went on treasure hunt.

3rd July 1988
Prize giving at Sunday school.

Friday, October 24, 2014

reading modern classics

These are the last two books I read and they were so good!  I'd meant to read them both for years, being the kind of books you feel you probably should have read.  The Go-Between was exactly what I'd imagined it would be - dark, gripping, slow-burning and fantastic - and Cold Comfort Farm was exactly the opposite of what I'd imagined and all the better for it - an absolute romp and really smart and funny and modern.

I don't know that I've got much else to say on the subject, I just get excited when I hit upon a good reading vein.  I'm thinking Lucky Jim next?  Kingsley Amis is another void in my reading history.

So far my attempt to read more in 2014 has been going well.  I still wish I could squeeze a few more books in, but it's already my most well-read year since becoming a mother and it's only October.

And what am I doing blogging at 5am?  I spent yesterday having a horrible time in hospital (a very simple procedure made much more complicated than it should have been because of my pesky heart) and went to bed super early to recover from the ordeal (I am now recovered...physically, at least! ha!) which meant I couldn't get back to sleep after Dulcie woke me up at 3.30am.  Oh well, it was a good opportunity to finish reading Cold Comfort Farm with a cup of tea and a blanket :)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

what's in our drawers?

 The most exciting feature in our new bedroom is a work-in-progress.  Graham found these drawers lying in a lane near his work and managed to persuade one of the delivery drivers to pick them up in the van then persuaded one of his customers to deliver them to our house.  He sanded them down and oiled them up and got glass cut to replace the missing fronts.  I loved the drawers but wasn't sure they'd look that great once all our pants and socks were visible inside, so Graham recycled an unused wardrobe backing and cut it up to make these little dividers to hide the drawers' contents.  What a guy, huh?!  I've been lining the drawers with lovely green wallpaper that we got in the sale section of John Lewis and covering the dividers with insanely glittery gold wrapping paper from Paperchase.  I've just got five glittery bits still to attach - slowly, slowly catchy monkey.  We've both been collecting small items to put in the drawer fronts for decoration.
 This photo is a bit rubbish, but it gives you an idea of the drawers in their entirety.  Excuse the surrounding mess too.  I'm not sure all the items in the drawer fronts so far will be staying, I've just been trying a few things out, mostly stuff that's been in the house for years just looking for the perfect home.  I think this will be my favourite piece of furniture once it's finished, it's going to be smashing and fun to look at and use.  What more could you ask for from storage for your pants and socks?!
Not wanting to be left out of the family project, Dulcie has been creating her own displays in the drawers too.  She was very proud when she presented these dirty socks and sellotape to us :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

harvest "festival"

 You might remember I blogged about our vegetable "garden" a while back.  Well, we've harvested!
 And this is our harvest.  Our ENTIRE harvest.  Behold, the most expensive four carrots (I'm not sure why one came out yellow) known to man!
 And here they are next to my freakishly small hand for scale.  Hmmm.
I think Dulcie's look here says it all!

Actually, she was pretty impressed, as was I.  We motherfreakin' grew these from seeds!  Wow!  But I suppose the garden overall couldn't be called a great success.  We hardly spent any time out there either, I guess it just didn't fit in with our busy lives really.  And (now, this is so typical of me/us) we ended up not managing to eat the carrots before they went rubbery and ended up in the bin.  Boo hiss!  Honestly, you wouldn't think it would be that hard to find time to pull up and nibble some carrots, but that is how we roll.  Still, I think Dulcie certainly got SOMETHING from the experience.  

What remains of our garden now looks a real mess.  I need to find the time to pack it all up.  I'm not sure whether we'll repeat the experiment next year or call an end to our gardening foray.  I'm loathe to admit defeat, but I'm not sure the experiences of this year have really got me in the gardening zone.  We'll see how we feel in 2015.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

time-travelling tuesday (part 23)

Stoats and shrews, it was a week of nature spotting for me.  I think this was the only time I've ever seen a stoat and it was standing up just like the one in this picture.  Shrews, however, were ten a penny, but I was still always pleased to see them and their ridiculous noses.  There were definite upsides to growing up in the country.  Dulcie's version of nature consists of pigeons, magpies, lowly grey squirrels and maybe the odd fox or rat if she's lucky.  Mind you, what Glasgow lacks in wildlife, it makes up for with cinemas, swimming pools, parks, libraries, soft play...  Plus my parents' new garden is a haven of frogs and hedgehogs.  Yeah, she'll be fine :)

20th May June 1988
Went to Finlays house.  I saw a shrew running into its hole.  I've decided to start a band.

21st May June 1988
Today it was Gartly sports.

22nd May June 1988
Played with Callum and James.

23rd June 1988
Ballet exams today.  The policeman came to stamp the bikes.

24th JUNE 1988
Today I was sick.  It is very very very very very very very very very very very hot.

25TH JUNE 1988

26th June 1988
I saw a stote.

Monday, October 20, 2014

watch with mother

I don't think Dulcie was even born by the time I started looking forward to the day when we'd be able to watch films together and, at last, those days are here!  A few weeks ago, while Graham was at work, Dulcie and I made an impromptu visit to the Saturday-morning child-friendly screening at our local cinema and saw Boxtrolls.  Dulcie and I go to the cinema quite often to see episodes of her favourite TV shows, but I wasn't sure how she'd cope with a full-length film.  Turns out it was a breeze - Dulcie was wide eyed with amazement for almost the whole time.  Being familiar with the cinema seats and screen didn't detract from the excitement for her at all and she was definitely drawn in by the sweeping cinematic scale of it.  I had to break out the snacks for the last 20 minutes or so, but her interest was definitely held throughout.  I really enjoyed Boxtrolls too - a great story and beautiful stop-motion animation with plenty of chuckles, something for everyone!
We've also been making the most of our vomiting days to watch some films at home - every cloud etc.  Gnomeo And Juliet was new to both of us and was OK, but way too much Elton John for my taste and I'm not sure Dulcie would have lasted the entire film if she hadn't been too ill to move!  101 Dalmatians was a major hit though.  I've always loved that film and I was pretty confident Dulcie would like it too since she already enjoys some of the music from it and is very interested in Cruella De Vil as a character.  She ended up loving it so much that she watched it twice in one day.  I see multiple viewings in our future and I'm perfectly happy about that :)
Not a film, but our local cinema recently showed Bagpuss at Toddler Time, to my huge excitement.  I bloomin' love Bagpuss and couldn't wait to share it with Dulcie.  I think she loved it just as much as I ever did.  She's still only seen two episodes, but has been talking about Bagpuss for weeks to anyone who cares to listen.  I think her granny is planning on getting her a Bagpuss DVD for her birthday.  Yippee!

There are lots of films I'm still looking forward to sharing (or should I say films I'm glad to have an excuse to watch again and again?!) but most of them will have to wait until she's a wee bit older, I think.  I'm talking Labyrinth, people!  Oh, yeah!  Hopefully there will be lots of films on in the run-up to Christmas that Dulcie would enjoy that we can record and watch at our leisure.  Children's Christmas films - I can hardly wait!

Have you got any recommendations of films a toddler and her mum might enjoy?  Preferably ones without pretty girls who want to marry into money.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

what a mug

I Don't Like Morning People Hand Painted Funny Quote Art White Mug 12 oz Dishwasher Safe
This mug (by Farizula on Etsy) sums up my feelings about life at the moment.  You could substitute pretty much any word for "mornings" or "people".  It's official, I DON'T LIKE ANYTHING!  Grrr.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

halloween's coming

Eastern Small Fry Bat . Print

Halloween is coming and I thought Dulcie and I were agreed on what her outfit should be.  For ages we've been talking about her dressing up as a cave girl, not exactly traditional Halloween fare, but on the scary spectrum, which is more than close enough these days.  She's got two events on the day - a party at nursery (which I'll be going along to) and small-scale guising with a few of her little friends in the evening.  I thought one outfit would suffice for both and I was excited about making a simple but fun cave-girl outfit for her and maybe even a matching one for me.  Matching outfits, people!  But now that the pumpkins are in the shops, Dulcie claims she reeeeeally wants to dress up as a pumpkin (I blame Charlie and Lola) and I know you can get cheap pumpkin outfits (for less than the cost of cave-girl materials) in Home Bargains and the like.  What a dilemma.  Do I satisfy my urges for a home-made lifestyle and spend more time and money on the cave-girl costumes or sell out and make Dulcie's day with a shop-bought pumpkin?  I wasn't going to go mad on the outfits if I was making them, I'm talking arm and head holes cut in a pillowcase really and fake fur cuffs for ankles and wrists, so it's not like it would be fulfilling my life's crafty ambitions or anything.  I guess I just like the idea of being the kind of mum who made Halloween costumes (that's the sort of childhood memory I'd like Dulcie to have) and there are only so many years that Dulcie will be dressing up at all.  But is it fair to force these idea(l)s on Dulcie when she'd be as happy to go with the flow and fit in with her peers?  I need to decide now so I can order a cheap leopard-print duvet set online if I am caving it!

Apologies for missing Time Travelling Tuesday yesterday.  Dulcie and I have both been struck down by yet another vomiting bug lately (each one worse than the last) and foolishly went to my parents' house as planned, thinking we were over it, then got stranded there for days, too puky to travel home until last night.  I'm still at home in bed/on the couch but have packed Dulcie off to nursery, like the big meanie I am, despite her pale face and protestations.  I keep hoping that this will be (must be!) the last stomach bug of the winter, then realise that winter hasn't even begun yet.  We are officially sick of sick!

UPDATE:  Four days later, the decision has been made.  Dulcie will be dressing up as a shop-bought pumpkin.  What can I say?  It's what the girl wants.  She couldn't even be swayed by the offer of a home-made Frankenstein costume, which I think would have been amazing.  Embrace the mass-produced pumpkin, Mum...  Hopefully I'll be allowed to make Halloween costumes in future years.  I'm going to start making Christmas stuff this week, just so that I don't feel like such a flake.  Dulcie WILL be exposed to my handmade dreams one way or another!

Saturday, October 11, 2014


 I haven't blogged much about Dulcie lately.  For a while she was impossible to photograph (constantly hiding or moving so fast she was just a blur) but she's suddenly lost her aversion to the camera again.  Here are a few cute pictures from recent weeks.  Indulge me, please, even though I haven't got much of interest to say - I don't want to forget this time and she's growing up so fast, as this top picture shows!
This week brought the first day cold enough for winter clothes.  Dulcie chose this hat herself recently in a second-hand clothes shop when my friend Bernie was disappointed to discover it was too small for her own head.  I think it's actually an adult hat that has shrunk in the wash.  The legwarmers were made by my sister for Dulcie's birthday last year.  I'm so glad they still fit!  Ooh, snuggly winter goodness!  We'd just been to see a couple of episodes of Bagpuss at toddler cinema when I took this (Dulcie's first Bagpuss experience!) so it was a pretty cosy day all in all :)
Here she is sampling some cupcakes and giving herself a hot-chocolate monobrow.  We went on an impromptu visit to Cup on Byres Road, just the two of us, and got their trio of mini cupcakes to share.  So good!  Dulcie's enjoyment and her chocolate-covered face (which got MUCH worse than this) were much appreciated by the other customers.  She's like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the moment.  When she's on good form, she can charm the pants off anybody, she's so chatty and cheery and hilarious.  But when she's on bad form (i.e. when she's with me, or so it seems!) she is a whingy, whining nightmare, constantly pretending to cry and claiming all sorts of aches and pains.  "My legs are tired!  Nobody loves me!  My tummy hurts!  A snack would make me feel better..."  She's also quite naughty, definitely testing boundaries.  One of her favourite expressions of late, when we tell her not to do something, is to say, "But big girls like to!"  Cheeky madam.
 But yes, so funny too.  She and my dad have taken to wearing hankies on their heads for some reason.
This starry bodywarmer was a hand-me-down from my workmate Emma and Dulcie suddenly loves it and wants to wear it ALL THE TIME.  I got her another bodywarmer in a charity shop, which has also proved to be a big hit.  In the house, she sometimes wears nothing but a bodywarmer.  Well, what more could a girl need?  (Er, pants maybe?)  The crown in this picture was one she'd made at nursery that day and she was so proud of it.  30 minutes later, she tore it into little pieces.  Her destructive streak is something I don't understand at all.  I HATE breaking things.  She seems to love it.  I'm trying to teach her to take better care of things, but at the same time, if she wants to pull her crown to bits...

I might be back with this same post in short video format soon.  We've managed to capture a few songs and daft conversations lately that I'd love to share.  Two-going-on-three is such a great age :)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

ich bin ein berliner!

So, it's over a month since we went to Berlin and it seems like a dim and distant memory now, but a bloody brilliant memory too!  Oh, we had such a good time and seemed to pack loads into our three or four days there.  We saw most of the major sights...
...and plenty of minor sights too.  Everywhere you looked there was something of interest.
I didn't miss Dulcie nearly as much as I thought I would and was very quick to slip back into my pre-mum state.  We did so much that we wouldn't have been able to do had she been there and she had a great time staying with my mum and dad.  That said, her face when she picked us up at the airport was probably one of the highlights of my life and we thought/spoke about her pretty much constantly.  We even saw her face popping up in the strangest of places.  Is that a grotesque hat-wearing zombie I see lurking in the background of that random poster...or is it our beautiful daughter?!  Ha!  (If you know the unedited Dulcie, the resemblance is pretty uncanny...)

Here follows a random selection of photos of the things we did and saw, grouped roughly into themes as you will see.
This photo was taken at a street festival organised by locals in Prenzlauerberg.  We stumbled across it quite by accident.  Can you see what it says on the sign at the front of that large queue of children?  We discovered Berliners had a healthy appreciation of fruity language... evidenced by the photo of the Bum Bum ice lolly (really, how could I resist?) in front of an interestingly phrased cigarette advert.
Continuing the food and drink theme, we drank beer by the bucketload, never hanging around too long in the one place.  This was the Prater beer garden, where I had delicious corn on the cob and potato salad too.  Mmm!  I decided to go all foolhardy with my fluid restrictions and drank pretty much what I wanted.  It took a few days and a lot of water tablets to deflate my bloated legs and midriff afterwards, but I think it was worth it :)
Here's a beer to accompany a currywurst.  Well, we had to at least sample it.  We ate a fair amount of "traditional" German fare for a party that was 50% vegetarian.  This was a veggie wurst incidentally.  I liked it!  Pretty easy to recreate at home too - take a sausage, pour on some ketchup, sprinkle on some curry powder.  Is that really all there is to it?
This was the "vegetable and egg plate" I had (the only non-meat option) in the garden of Sophien 11, a pub/restaurant we stumbled across quite by accident on our first night.  I was scared by the place and the meaty menu at first, but it turned out to be a lovely evening and the food was wholesome and delicious.
We did eat non-traditional fare too.  How can a pizza bigger than your body fit in your body?  Yes, my friends, I scoffed the lot.
We did a lot of meandering and wandering and stumbled across lots of interesting shops, like this vintage shop in Prenzlauerberg (again!) with so many beautiful kitchen goods in the back room that they were able to arrange it by colour!
On our last day we went to the big flea market at Mauerpark.  It was huge!  We discovered Berlin is THE place to go if you're looking for vintage lamps/lampshades (which we were).  I loved this glass beauty but we couldn't fit it in our luggage.  We did buy a beautiful '70s plastic shade, but Easyjet made us put our hand luggage in the hold at the last minute and it came out cracked :(  We're hoping we might be able to repair it though.  I also bought a ceramic clock and a cute Christmassy plate from 1959.  I'll try to post photos soon.
The flea market was properly jam-packed with stuff, hundreds of stalls, with many of them going multiple layers deep.  We had a right good rummage and resisted this devilish item without too much effort...
We managed two cinema trips while we were there (parenthood has robbed us our ability to drink all night after drinking all day) including this outdoor screening, which was rather off the beaten track.  Hooray for me and my pre-trip semi-planning that everyone told me was unnecessary!
Wandering home from the outdoor cinema, we stumbled across the Ramones museum where it turned out an American all-girl punk ("punk") band were playing.  We were persuaded to stay for the show, which was as good a way as any to see the exhibition, which was really home-made, extensive and fun.  The band were, er, not our cup of tea, but I'm old and sad enough now to enjoy seeing young folks living their dream!

As well as the Ramones museum, we also visited a few more mainstream museums. The DDR museum was interesting (lots of items of design interest) but crazy busy.  The Jewish museum was amazing in parts and terrible in others, I thought.  The architecture alone was worth going for (I'm not sure a building has ever affected me so much/so physically before) and the downstairs exhibits about German Jews in wartime was really good.  My advice would be not to spend too long in the permanent exhibits upstairs, though.  Not that there wasn't anything of interest, but I heard them the first time they told me that Jews were accused of poisoning wells!  Very repetitive.
The best museum we went to was Graham's choice - the Museum for Film and Television.  The whole place used mirrors really effectively but this first room (pictured above) was such a surprising and great way to start the visit - completely other-worldly and disorientating.
There's loads of interesting stuff in the museum, as well as snazzy displays, and I was surprised how much I already knew about German film.  We both agreed we would have liked to see more emphasis on modern films (Marlene Dietrich had rooms and rooms devoted to her while all cinema from 1960ish onwards was squeezed into one tiny space really) but definitely worth visiting nonetheless.
If our sample of four is anything to go by, I would definitely say those Germans know how to design a museum space!

So, all in all, AWESOME!  I loved Berlin even more than I remembered, I really enjoyed hanging out with Graham, didn't miss Dulcie half as much as I'd feared, easily managed to get by on my non-existent German...  We've made a pact to do something similar again in the not too distant future, though Berlin will be a hard act to follow for any other city.  Mind you, there's plenty more in Berlin that we didn't manage to see this time around.  Perhaps it will become our new Scarborough!

I should add, in case this post has given anyone itchy feet, that the place we stayed (Singer 109) was fantastic too - basic rooms, but clean and comfortable and quiet, with a little bar for a bedtime tipple and AMAZING buffet breakfasts for next to no money.

Go to Berlin!  I'll meet you there :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

time-travelling tuesday (part 22)

13th June 1988

14th June 1988

15th June 1988
Lyndsey and I came first in a pet show.

16th June 1988 school trip, Brownies
Today it was the school trip.  We went to Newbra beach.  Sadly it was raining.  Boo Hsssssss.  Boo Hsssssssss.  Emma and I won a packet of ROLOS.  [Talk about a winning streak, eh?  Third prize in one week!] Sadly it was one packet to share.  We won it when we played BINGO.

17th June 1988
It was Miss Michy's last day.  Boo hoo.

18th June 1988
Today it was the Sunday school picnic.  Happily it was sunny.  Dad had his sale today.  He got us a skateboard.  [It was massive and blue with a decomposing corpse on the bottom - I never managed to skate other than sitting down to do it.]  I got my late birthday present today.  It is a T-shirt.

19th May June 1988
It was raining today.  I went to church straight after that I went to tap and ballet practice.  Sophie, Sean, Scot and Angela came to see us.  Sophie can crawl now.

Friday, October 3, 2014

it's another plate, mate

I definitely need to find a place to hang my growing plate collection as it has grown a little more just lately.  I got this plate in a charity shop this week.  It was actually Graham who spotted it, credit where credit's due and all that.  There's something so sweet about the design, certainly worth the 79p price tag.  When I was paying for it, another lady in the queue told me that it was good luck to have ducks around the home - good feng shui, she claimed.  I'll go with that!