Saturday, October 31, 2009

thinking about what makes a good illustrator

Originally uploaded by .marmushka.

I just this minute accidentally landed on this photo in flickr and instantly wanted to cry, leading to me feeling very impressed and a little bit envious of this person's talent! I don't know why this picture works so well. Do you? Or is it actually just indefinable magic? I have written and illustrated two books (not published!) and it used to be my great ambition to be a children's author and illustrator. I don't think I quite have what it takes, like the ability to draw characters from any other angle than straight on, for a start! Oh well, maybe some day...

After struggling with my shopify for another two days, I have reverted back to how it was before and am just reconciling myself with the tiny (honestly, TINY) two things I can't seem to change. I can live with them. I think... Today I am adding the last few products and making one or two more teeny tweaks. I will be back later today with an announcement of a concrete opening! Yay!

Made in the Shade sent an email out this morning, not telling me that I was going to be getting a stall at their weekend long festive extravaganza, but telling everybody that the event has had to be cancelled. This time the Lighthouse really is shutting down, it seems. It is such a shame :( Not that I was guaranteed to even get a stall at it, but this event was my big Christmas plan. I don't really know what to do with myself now and am wondering if it is really worth my while making all the decorations, cards and stocking fillers I had been about to embark on... Boo. But in happier news, I am doing a market next weekend which I'm hoping will be great (more details soon) and I went along to the new Made in the Shade shop yesterday and saw my Dot and Pat notecards looking spiffing on their sideboard. Hooray! Even better than that, as I walked through the door, I heard someone saying how fab they were. Good timing, or what? After that, I got to experience the great feeling of turning down the offer of a job interview by saying, "I'm sorry but I have a job now and am no longer available." What can I say? I am in demand! And after that, I went to see a great film called Tales From The Golden Age. It's made up of five short films telling urban legends about things that supposedly happened in Romania in the 1980s. They were all really good stories and some of them were just so funny. There weren't many people in the cinema but the laughter was pretty uproarious at points. Some of the stories were also a bit sad. If you notice it showing near you, you should most definitely go and see it. So you could say it was a pretty good day, all in all, even though I was a grump for most of it.

When I came home from the cinema, I saw my mum had phoned so I phoned her back. Here is the conversation.
Me: How are you?
Mum: Well, I was fine when I phoned you earlier.
Me: But not anymore?
Mum: No. Eeeeeeeeuch! Something horrible happened. Have you had your tea yet?
Me: No...?
Mum: Then I'd better not tell you. What are you going to have?
Me: Risotto.
Mum: Oh! Then I had better tell you!

It turned out my mum had been having risotto too (we quite often cook the same meals on the same days, it is a bit spooky) and had taken an unopened bag of risotto rice from her cupboard. It had been in there for a few months. She opened the bag and poured out the rice to discover it was full of weevils! Many of them were dead and many were alive and crawling about. Eugh! I checked my rice very carefully. It was a weevil free zone :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

some blue pictures and a long story

Just a few blue-ish recent favourites from my flickr for you today since I don't seem to be managing to take many photos these days. I am poo-ooped tonight after a long day's charity shopping. I didn't get much, but then we did only do that route about ten days ago! I did get a pretty, stripy top for £1.49, a bag of embroidery thread and some very pretty blue aida for £1.20 and some secret vintage goodies to send to someone who might read this for a bargainous 60p all in! So I can't really complain! Tonight I had planned to go to the super exciting designers' preview of Made in the Shade's new Maisonette but didn't quite get back from charity shop town in time. I will go tomorrow instead, like a regular old member of the public... Ha! If you're in Glasgow, you should go too. They open at 10 (I think?) and rumour has it they are giving away free cakes to celebrate it being their opening day. I got a bit of a sneak peek at the Maisonette last week because I was dropping off some of my Dot and Pat notecards for them to sell (yippee!) and it looked super lovely, even in its unfinished state. I can't wait to see it. Incidentally, the leafy crown in the top left picture reminds me of their leafy logo. Do you see what I mean?

Since I have no other news (and am fond of wittering away here at the moment) I will share the long story of last week's charity shopping adventure, when I saw lots of things to photograph but had left my camera at home by mistake. Grrr. OK. We have a regular route of amazing charity shops that we follow. It involves getting up early and trying to be on the bus by 10am. We travel by bus for around an hour to our first destination, which has five sizable shops in one tiny stretch, so we stay there for quite a while. We then get back on the bus and travel to our next destination, making a very necessary toilet stop at the Tramway en route. (Today we saw such a fun exhibition while we were there, combining culture with peeing!) This is our only stop until 5.30 when the charity shops close and we go for pizza and a beer and rest our weary feet and bladders until we get the bus back home again. However, the Tramway is not open to the public on Mondays and it was Monday that we decided to go charity shopping last week. We had to form a plan B to pee! The last few times we've been charity shopping, we added a stop off in a really nice little coffee shop with the best chocolate cherry brownies ever, so I suggested a visit there so that we could use their toilets. However, Graham said he would rather use the toilets in the charity shop just beside the really nice coffee shop. (Are you following this?) Now, the thing is that to use the charity shop toilets, you have to use the charity shop tearoom. Yes, the charity shop has a tearoom in it. And it's not up the stairs or through the back. It is IN the charity shop. A strange concept, I know. Usually it is frequented mainly by the older ladies who volunteer in the shop but we have had tea there once or twice before, mainly for the privilege of using the toilet. I said I would really rather sit in the nice coffee shop and eat the best ever cherry chocolate brownies and pointed out that the cups in the charity shop tearoom always smell funny, making it hard to drink your tea. Graham counter argued, saying that the nice coffee shop had too many chairs. Eh? Obviously, I had the upper hand argument wise (tea from smelly cups in a charity shop vs. delicious cherry chocolate brownies in a place with plenty of seating) but somehow we ended up in... the charity shop. I thought maybe a scone would help the tea to go down so ordered a scone and jam for me, a cake for Graham and two cups of tea while he went to the toilet. The lady behind the counter took the cakes from under their plastic domes using tongs, put them on saucers with little napkins, spooned some jam into a side dish and prepared a pot of tea. Lovely, all going well so far. I decided to be polite and wait for Graham to get back from the toilet before starting. When he returned, I was still delaying the inevitable and hadn't quite summoned the courage to smell the cup yet when Graham said, "Enjoy your ashtray of jam." What? I looked closely at the plate before me. Napkin: check. Scone: check. Jam: check. Jam dish: ashtray! Yes, the jam had been served up in an ashtray! And it was a chipped ashtray at that! I was genuinely horrified at first and whispered that there was no way I could eat the scone or drink the tea now. Graham said he wished he hadn't mentioned it. I said I was glad he had. I looked very glum and thought about the cherry chocolate brownie I could have been eating... All of a sudden we made eye contact and started laughing uncontrollably. Graham had tears streaming down his cheeks and everything. The charity shop and the tearoom were practically silent so we bit our lips, buried our faces in napkins, tried to think of sad events, but to no avail. We couldn't stop giggling and I still couldn't bring myself to touch the tea or the scone and ashtray of jam but it would have been really obvious if I had left it all uneaten so... I went to the toilet and told Graham I hoped the evidence would be gone by the time I came back. Well, the brave little soldier ate his cake, my scone and the jam (trying to leave a protective jam barrier in the bottom of the ashtray!) and forced down the whole pot of tea. What a trooper! I did my duty too, though, by going up to the counter to pay. It was so hard not to laugh. I'm sure the poor woman working there thought I was a loony. We left as quickly as we could and I popped into the nice coffee shop and bought myself a cherry chocolate brownie to take away. Poor Graham was too full up to share it with me!

Still here? I hope you enjoyed that super long story of our strange experiences in the charity shops of Glasgow. It has been entertaining me all week. I'm still giggling away as I type. Ashtray of jam... What a hoot! Right, I'm off to play Trivial Pursuit again. Wish me luck :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

isn't chaise lovely?

I haven't been around much this week, have I? And I can honestly say it is because I have been tearing my hair out over working so hard on my shopify. And I promise it is so nearly finished! Please don't be getting your hopes up too much because it is not the swankiest looking website you will ever have seen and I'm sure nobody would believe me if I told them how many hours I had spent on it. I did have a breakthrough, though, as I had been wishing I would. Actually, I had about twenty breakthroughs but each one led me to something else that I could tweak and... It hasn't all gone smoothly but I am getting there and will look upon it as a work in progress once it's open :) Watch this space...
Being a pro-crafter (or a wannabe pro-crafter) doesn't seem to leave enough time for crafting, if you ask me. I just took a little break just now to actually make something. I have been doodling this girl (or one like her) for a wee while and tonight collaged her out of some paper, fabric, buttons and ribbon. Her golden corduroy hair is extra special because it is made from an old chaise longue that belonged to my granny. My granny had a terrible (or great depending on how you look at it) habit of taking in waifs and strays and getting involved in other people's problems. She bought the chaise longue, although she did not want it, from a furniture salesman to save him from losing his job. She kept it under a dust sheet in an unused room and it always seemed like the height of luxury to my sister and I. After my granny died, the chaise longue came to live in the flat I'm now in, though it was my sister who stayed here back then. After numerous years of hard graft, the chaise longue was not quite the glamorous artefact it once was... Then when we got the cats, they instantly took it as their playground. Two kittens with sharp claws turned out to be the death of the poor chaise longue... It took a long time for me to agree to get rid of it and, when I finally did, I cut off as much of the beautiful fabric as possible before we threw it out. I'm hoping to do something nice with some of the bigger pieces one day but for now a little scrap of it has gone into making this girl's hair.

In other (major) news... I got a job! I found out earlier this week that I am soon to be starting work as a full time subtitler. It's all pretty good timing, money wise, and the job sounds interesting and I will be working with Claire, my poor fairy godmother who just cannot escape me! I will miss my little unemployed lifestyle though... Still, once I'm earning I can hire a first rate web designer to sort out my shopify! Hooray!

Monday, October 26, 2009

on the versatility of a good pom pom

Imagine the scene: you return from a hard day at the office and your eye is instantly drawn towards colourful stripes of fuzzy pom pom goodness...
"What is this?
Oh! It's a parcel from my beloved, and it is so beautifully gift wrapped that I know I am loved.
I can even cuddle this parcel, thanks to the lovely fuzziness of the thoughtfully attached pom poms. I have a happy life."

Ha! I am bad at gift wrapping. Not just not very good at it but bad at it, to a surprising level of awfulness. But even I managed to make a parcel look appealing with the addition of two lovely fuzzy pom poms and a recycled playing card! I think this red, white and blue colour combo is my favourite pom pom look, a bit like an old school cycling top.

I was just taking some photos in the hope that I might add these pom poms to my shop soon, and the little photo story (that's stretching it a bit) sprang to mind so I thought I would share it. I am losing my blogging mojo again, I think, but you'll be pleased to know I am fighting it! In fact, I am losing my online mojo altogether - the internet does nothing for me this week. And I am STILL battling to get my shopify shop together. I think I am close (honest, guv'nor!) but feel truly pathetic for how long it is taking me. I need some sort of a breakthrough or... or... something (!) just to shake things up a bit. Maybe I should tidy up? Again.
I liked this shot of Lola in the mirror. Look how many cobwebs are outside my window! I have had to make a special batch of pom poms (a.k.a. the reject pom poms) for the cats to play with so that I can keep the good ones safe. As if our house wasn't covered in enough wool from the making of them, I now have to be hoovering up the aftermath of the cat attacks too. My niece, Kim, calls pom poms 'pom doms', which I find hilarious. Why is that funny? Is it because it sounds a bit like condoms, and I am immature? I don't know... I have an American friend, now living in Scotland, who finds the British pronunciation of condom hilarious. It does sound funny when she says it with a British accent. Frightfully proper, don't you know, chaps? Strangely, she physically cannot say 'twat'. It comes out as 'twot' every time! Hee hee!

I have had to ban myself from making pom poms. I'm not being anyhwhere near as productive as I would like right now and the pom poms were an artificial sort of productivity, if you know what I mean. It seems it is a week of giving things up, as I am also giving up drinking booze and eating crisps, both of which I do far too much of and now I can't fit in any of my clothes as a result :( Sharing this unusual hat trick of banned activities (alcohol, crisps and... pom poms) here will hopefully keep me on the straight and narrow. Oh, sinful pom poms! Always accompanied by the telltale whiff of the sulphur of hell fires!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

WHO's the daddy!?

Yes, EastEnders is obviously a big part of my life - I spend hours embroidering its characters and spent at least ten minutes talking about it in a job interview this week - but I always feel it would be kind of sad to mention it much here on the old blog. But, oh lord, did anyone watch it this week? After being teased all through Thursday's episode, I couldn't wait to see it on Friday to find out who the father of Heather's baby (the seriously brilliantly named George Michael Trott) was. Four minutes before the end of Friday's episode, by which time Phil, Minty and Billy were all in the vicinity of the maternity ward, I got the holler that my dinner was on the table. Nooo! I tried to play it cool and declined the offer to eat in front of the telly, but all through dinner all I could talk about was who the father could be. There was one possibility that really freaked me out. (I won't say who incase anyone is waiting for the omnibus on Sunday.) At around 11pm, I realised there was no way I could possibly wait until Sunday to find out so cranked out the BBC iPlayer and watched the last few minutes. Well, by the time the doof doofs came round, I was looking much like Heather in the photo above, crossed with an X Factor contestant, going, "ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod" in a high pitched squeal. Even Graham, not an Easties viewer, was visibly shocked! If you didn't see it, you really must watch the last hour of the omnibus tomorrow. What better use could you make of the hour you gain when the clocks go back tonight?

(edit: And in all the baby excitement I forgot to even mention the sub-story of Peggy and Pat getting blind drunk in the back of an ice cream van! It has truly been a week of classic East End telly - I love it!)

Friday, October 23, 2009

peppermint pom poms

Last night and this morning, I made a whole fuzzy bundle of peppermint coloured (not flavoured) stripy pom poms. Don't you just want to snuggle with them? Or is that just me? I am loving them!
They are just so cute and seventies, and so much fun to make.
They have a handy loop so that you can hang them on your christmas tree (sorry! I know it's only October!) or anywhere else you fancy.
Or you could attach them to parcels to jazz up/seventies up/snuggle up your gift wrapping.

I think I will be selling these, certainly at markets and maybe online too, but not until it's a wee bit closer to the festive season!

I've had kind of a busy week, making lots of things, catching up with a few friends and doing a job interview. I'm still waiting to hear back from that. Thanks for all the responses to the gocco bulb appeal and to those of you who have been spreading the word. If you have emailed me already then thank you very much! I will be getting back to you very soon. I'm just trying to sort out an address for you to send the bulbs to, as the post to my home address is far from reliable. Grrr. I'll also be investigating the claim that the bulbs are highly toxic before proceeding - maybe landfill is the best place for them after all! :( Anyone know anything about their toxicity?

Right, back to the wool storm, also known as pom pom making!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Blue Peter style appeal... I need your used gocco bulbs!

UPDATE: Sad news: the gocco bulb appeal is no more. After a couple of tip offs about the bulbs toxicity, I did some research and discovered the used bulbs are apparently pretty toxic. Some people mentioned pretty scary side effects, like causing birth defects in unborn children etc. I was planning to turn these into Christmas baubles, and I really can't think of anything more horrific than a toxic bauble - contamination is not the gift you hope for when you gather round the tree! I don't know how serious the toxic risk really is but I couldn't carry on with my plan in good conscience once I knew that those sort of side effects were a possibility. Sigh... This makes me feel even worse about sending them off to landfill... But thank you very much for the great response and support - makes me want to devise another (non-toxic) appeal!

Originally uploaded by alison wonderlandQ

Are you a gocco user? Do you recognise the tragic beauty of these short lived orbs who, like the mayfly, perform their sole function on earth, only to become obsolete and die moments afterwards? Do you hoard your used bulbs, hoping that they could be destined for greater things than merely to become landfill? You do? Then this appeal is for you! I am looking for used gocco bulbs, to upcycle into objects to be treasured. I repeat: USED gocco bulbs, bulbs that have flashed their flash, bulbs that can no longer serve a useful purpose in the world of printing, bulbs that would otherwise be destined for the bin.

My plan is this: everybody who sends me some gocco bulbs will get a special gift in return. This gift will comprise of something I have printed on my own gocco (it may be a print, a card, a notebook or... something else!) as well as a selection of other little surprise items to make the parcel super fun to receive! And the more bulbs you send, the more super duper fun I will squeeze into your return package. If you take part, it means you will be helping me, helping the environment and getting a real treat for yourself in return! Everyone's a winner, right?

If you have any used gocco bulbs that you would like to donate to the cause, please email me (you can click on the little link in my profile) or leave me a comment with your email address here. I will get in touch, and give you all the necessary details.

p.s. If you have a blog/twitter/facebook/flickr/whatever, I would really appreciate it if you could help to spread the word about this bulb appeal - thanks! :)

p.p.s. Look out for a super duper Blue Peter style bulb-o-meter appearing to the right hand side over there! I shouldn't make it today as I have a job interview to prepare for and some important errands to run so... Who am I kidding? I will be working on it today for sure!

UPDATE: Sad news: the gocco bulb appeal is no more. After a couple of tip offs about the bulbs toxicity, I did some research and discovered the used bulbs are apparently pretty toxic. Some people mentioned pretty scary side effects, like causing birth defects in unborn children etc. I was planning to turn these into Christmas baubles, and I really can't think of anything more horrific than a toxic bauble - contamination is not the gift you hope for when you gather round the tree! I don't know how serious the toxic risk really is but I couldn't carry on with my plan in good conscience once I knew that those sort of side effects were a possibility. Sigh... This makes me feel even worse about sending them off to landfill... But thank you very much for the great response and support - makes me want to devise another (non-toxic) appeal!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

etsy update and online selling advice sought!

Just a flying visit to say I have finally added Ethel (and her little Willy) and Frank embroideries to my etsy shop. Hurrah!
I'm actually all of a kerfuffle about my internet life, and it's hampering my productivity. I think I need your help! Yes, yours!

I mentioned a while back that I won a shopify store in a competition on Super Cute Kawaii and I have been secretly slogging away at that for the last few weeks. (I hope it is going to be ready to open very soon - I will keep you posted!) I do think shopify will be great once I have it up and running but the thing that is really sending my head a-spinning is having bits of myself in all these different (online) places.

For my etsy shop, each item listed and photographed is the actual item you would get if you bought it, and I keep the contents of my etsy shop in a box. If someone buys something, I take it from my shop-in-a-box and send it off. Simple! This approach would be just about do-able for shopify, too (I would just need a slightly bigger box!) but I'm thinking of 'getting myself out there' with maybe a Folksy shop and a Dawanda shop and...? And then I'm doing more markets and I want to take e.g. my embroideries with me... I don't know that I could ever have enough embroideries at any one time to have them in every online-shop-in-a-box and... I think this could get out of control and I don't like it!

Also, in the winter months especially, it is really hard to photograph things in my flat and I'd like to have a standard photo that I re-used when I re-listed an item, rather than spending hours trying to get a new photograph for each new item. In setting up shopify, I've followed this approach a bit more for some items but it makes me kind of uneasy when the items are handmade and each one does vary slightly, which is very much the case for the embroideries in particular. If the photo is of the exact/actual item, I feel like I couldn't really get away from the shop in the box system and if I had four online shops I would have to have four of each embroidery (one in each online shop's box) plus separate embroideries to take to markets... That's a whole lot of embroideries to stockpile! Maybe that's madness or maybe that is precisely what I should be doing? I really have no idea!

Not to mention that I will now be blogging on shopify and I want to keep blogging here too and... Aaargh!

Do you have multiple shops selling unique handmade items? How do you photograph, list and manage your stock? Do you have a system? Please share your wisdom before I go crazy!
Thanks :)

Dick Bruna book covers

Originally uploaded by onno de wit

My head is a whirligig this week. I THINK I am busy but I'm not sure with what exactly... I slept in by a crazy amount today (not like me) and am all flummoxed at the loss of the morning. While I drank my morning (midday!) coffee I browsed some of my favourite blogs, including some I hadn't checked into for a while. I found this amazing selection of Dick Bruna book covers on the ever fabulous grain edit. Please click on the link for a look. They are so wonderful!

p.s. Thanks for the comments on the "If I don't see you through the week, I'll see you through a window" post! The mystery deepens, and involves Claire's grandparents, Daisie's Uncle Ken, and some new fangled modern celebrity that I'm too uncool ever to have heard of... Keep your thoughts a coming!

Friday, October 16, 2009

If I don't see you through the week, I'll see you through a window

Originally uploaded by

Google Analytics is great fun. I use it to spy on my blog for me! As well as being reassured that people are visiting at all, I love looking at the map to see where they are visiting from. (Hello to anyone reading in India, Japan, Turkey, Finland, New Zealand, Brazil, South Africa, Venezuela, Argentina, Norway, Ireland, Singapore, Sweden, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, France, Australia, USA, UK, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Spain, Netherlands... It was so nice of you to stop by this month! Hello to anyone else reading this too!)

Even better than the visitors map is the list of terms people have typed into a search engine before being directed to my blog. Here are some of this month's highlights: "central african republic pointless" (yay!), "viking animals", "Frank Butcher polo tie", "hairy single babie", "how do you spell yeeha!", "yee ha or yee haw", "how to spell yee ha" [see - it's not just me who wonders!], "simon rimmer bald", "swinger holiday", "swinger muriel", "what kind of spider has a smiley face on its back"...

But for the last year or so, by far the most popular search has been this post's title - if I don't see you through the week I'll see you through a window - which I previously used as the title for a post about the stained glass in Glasgow cathedral.

I know that a lot of people are typing this into search engines to find out where the expression comes from. They leave subtle clues, like typing in, "where does the expression if I don't see you through the week I'll see you through a window come from?"! I have done the same thing myself to no avail... Now, I don't have the answer but I thought (to try to ease the frustration/curiosity of these searchers!) I should share the little (very little) that I do know about the expression.

As far as I am aware, the term comes from Bill Fortsyth's film, Gregory's Girl. Steve, shown here in the dapper white jacket, has left school and got a job as a window cleaner. His little catchphrase as he departs is: "If I don't see you through the week, I'll see you through a window!" I don't know if this was the first use of the phrase, or if it was in common use long before this, but I thought I would set the ball rolling by sharing my little tuppence worth. It kind of makes sense it would start with a window cleaner who would literally see people through a window... Does anybody have any other ideas or insights? If so, please share your knowledge by leaving a comment!

Update: it seems fairly certain (see comments) that this saying pre-dates Gregory's Girl. We need your insight! Where does it originate from?

If you have randomly found my blog through trying to find out about this expression's origins, I hope this gives you some hope in your linguistic quest... If you make any further progress, please be sure to come back and let us know. Oh, and don't forget to look at the lovely crafty gubbins while you're here - it would be rude not to! :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

lip reading

I have been reading my lips to find out my personality, courtesy of the 1979 Diana For Girls annual, which is a bit like Bunty. I decided (and this was verified by an impartial second opinion!) that my lips most closely matched the mouth shown above. This is known (I jest you not) as the placid or perfect mouth. Well, I always knew my mouth was one of my finest features...! Hee!

Here is my lip reading:
"This mouth is calm with nearly always a hint of a smile. Shows a well-balanced girl, tactful with family and friends. Contented, she does well if circumstances call for change and adaptability.
Beauty hint: enhance the attractive lines of this mouth with pencil lipstick, or use your favourite gloss."

What kind of lips do you have and what does that say about you? Click on the pictures below to find out!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

for ruth, officially!

The only bad thing about going to Graham's gran's birthday party was that it meant I couldn't go to this little cutie pie's christening :( This is my youngest niece, Ruth, as she looked three months ago which, for her, is half a lifetime ago! I was a bit sad not to be able to go to her christening so I decided to make her a special present, and this is what I made.
By day, it's Little Red Riding Hood and her cat (yes, she has a cat, he just doesn't always get the credit he deserves!) in the forest but then, when you switch off the lights...
... the birds fly off to their nests, the fire dies down, the stars come out and Little Red Riding Hood gets under her blanket while her cat snuggles down on top of it.

The nighttime scene is made from glow in the dark embroidery thread which was so exciting to use but very hard to photograph! I first started planning this little scene when I saw Emily's fab Little Prince glow in the dark embroidery back in March. I got some glow in the dark thread straight away but spent months thinking and doodling and doing other things and forgetting all about it now and again until the design became clear in my mind. This is definitely the best way for me to come up with ideas but I do wish my brain would work through it all a bit faster. Maybe I need to sleep more? Ha!

I wonder what Ruth looks like now. I do wish my sister didn't live so far away :(

Update: I phoned my sister after posting this and demanded she email me some recent photos! So now I do know what Ruth looks like now (super cute and smiley!) and I got to catch up with my family and hear all about the christening. The embroidery, by the way, was very gratefully received and my sister is off to buy some glow in the dark thread :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

busy, busy, busy

I've been quite enjoying the wintery weather lately but will admit that our flat is freezing.
I'm stubbornly refusing to put the heating on and am opting for wearing copious layers instead. The cats are seeking out new cosy corners and Poppy, as you can see, is becoming an expert tent maker. She can make a shelter for herself out of just about anything now. What a sweetheart.

Graham had the last few days off work and we've been kept pretty busy. On Saturday night I made us a fancy dinner. We had parsnip and parmesan soup to begin with. I should confess that Graham had actually made and frozen that earlier in the week so I had nothing to do with its deliciousness!
For the main course, I made these cheese and herb fritters with sweet pepper marmalade and rocket. Yum yum yum. But so much cheese! The recipe is by Delia and you can find it here.

I love Masterchef (well, I love Greg Wallace really!) and am always intrigued by the 'risky' chocolate fondants the competitors make so I decided to try my hand at them for dessert. I looked on the internet for a recipe and ended up using Nigella's (found here, scroll right to the bottom of the page) because it was described as the best chocolate pudding and simple too! The first one I turned out of the oven collapsed a bit (just like they usually do on Masterchef so I took it as a sign that I wasn't too far wrong!) but the second one, just for having sat in the tin for an extra 30 seconds, was perfection! I gave that one to Graham, just to be polite, but mine tasted just as good. It was exciting to try making a 'classic' pudding like that and (oh!) they were so, so delicious! I will definitely be making them again.
After dinner we played Trivial Pursuit. We had played earlier in the week and I won (I also won Scrabble that night which is a RARE occurrence indeed!) so this was like a rematch. I was in the lead all the way round but kept getting pink questions in the middle (I like green and brown questions, and blue and yellow are alright but I am useless at pink and beyond useless at orange) and Graham ended up winning, with me just two spaces behind. Oh well...
On Sunday we went through to Erskine to go to this lady's 90th birthday party! This is Jenny a.k.a. Gran (to Graham) a.k.a. G.G. to her great grandchildren.
Here she is having a dance with Graham's mum. Graham's mum never stops singing and dancing. I mean literally never. It was the first time I had met some of Graham's more extended family. We had lunch in the pub and then went back to his mum and dad's house for more drinks and chat. It was a fun day.
Yesterday, Graham and I went for a wander round some of the charity shops in Partick. I got some curtains to chop up for material, a Malcolm Gladwell book and a Marguerite Patten cook book because the design in it is amazing. I will try to share photos at some point. I also bought a vintage dress, from a vintage clothes shop which sells things at about half the price of most charity shops. I'm getting a bit miffed at all the £30 plus "vintage" and "retro" price tags (with no consideration for the niceness or quality of the item) in charity shops. Graham got a jumper. The photo above is a fabulous permanent window display in a tailor's shop on Chancellor Street. I love it!
In the evening, we went to the Old Fruitmarket to see (swoon!) Richard Hawley. Look how pretty the venue was, with all its lights and old signs. We had a bit of trouble finding the entrance which was fortuitous as it meant we found Richard Hawley himself having a fag out the back! I was far too shy to talk to him so I just stared with my mouth hanging open, grabbing Graham's arm a lot. I do love Richard Hawley quite a lot :)
We went to see Richard Hawley last year (or maybe it was two years ago, since I don't seem to have mentioned it on the blog?) in the City Halls and I thought it was amazing. It was honestly like stepping back in time, to an under the sea themed dance or something, all spangly curtains and mirror balls and beautiful songs about trains and ship wrecks and romance. Sigh... This time it was a bit more low key but his voice is just so incredible (it really does make me swoon!) that he couldn't possibly disappoint. My main wish for the night was that someone would be there playing a saw... and they were! I think the saw is one of my favourite musical instruments. We were up on the balcony and it was so much fun to watch the audience, who were a real mix of people but included quite a few older folks. There was an old lady (who was 75 if she was a day) sitting right in the middle of the front row. She had pure white hair and was wearing a pair of fingerless gloves, even though it was really pretty warm. When Richard Hawley started playing Open Up The Door (from the new album) she started punching the air with glee and looking round at everybody with a huge grin on her face, then sat staring at him all lovelorn and hypnotised. It was so much fun to watch her. I also saw the lady who ran the embroidered textiles classes that I did at the art school a few years ago, proving the theory that we were guaranteed to know at least one person there. The story behind those classes, if you're interested, is here.

So it has been a busy few days, meaning that I haven't made any progress with my shopify shop or with the job applications I'm in the middle of. I have a few more plan b jobs to apply for and a plan a interview next week. Fingers crossed :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

little red riding hood love

According to The Bag Lady, my Little Red Riding Hood brooches are "both evocative and strikingly minimalist" and "jaw-droppingly cool". They would, apparently, "subvert styles" by "adding a little fairytale mystique to an otherwise bussinesslike wardrobe".

What a great write up! I knew I googled myself for a reason... :)

p.s. This is the last weekend of The Mythical Beast Sweet Shoppe exhibition. If you are anywhere near Weston-Super-Mare you should definitely go. My hulder print is there alongside all sorts of mythical beasts and (as the name suggests!) sweets galore! For full details, click on the link.

model behaviour

This person is about as good at putting on make up as I am!
I guess his her muscles might get in the way...

As seen in a charity shop in Glasgow city centre yesterday. I bought another set of circular knitting needles. I must have just about every size covered now.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

life without pointless is so... pointless!

Alexander Armstrong and his "pointless friend" Richard on the set of BBC 2's quiz show, Pointless.
Image pilfered from BBC website but I'm sure they won't mind as I'm basically using it to advertise for them for free!

Yesterday was a sad day. The last in the series of Pointless aired. Waaah! I don't think I have ever loved a quiz show so much (at all?) before. We even got to the point of taping the show each afternoon so that we could watch it in the evening. It made it more... special, you know? Ha! I just don't know what to do with myself without it. Of course, I could spend my time writing a kick ass application to go on series two as a contestant! We know always to answer 'Central African Republic' and never to answer 'France' so I'm sure we could do pretty well. I wonder if Graham (my pointless viewing companion!) will mind me applying on our behalf...?

In other television related news, we have just finished watching the entire series of Tutti Frutti as my parents lent us their DVD recently. It was really good and much darker than I expected. Last night we watched the last two episodes back to back and were very excited to see our street in it! We completely missed a very dramatic and important dialogue by going, "Up a bit, keep going, turn right, up a bit more..." and letting out a big cheer when we saw our building. Our street looked so much cleaner and tidier in 1987!

I can remember my mum and dad watching Tutti Frutti when I was little and I had a really clear memory of a scene where Emma Thompson and Robbie Coltrane danced up and down the aisle of a plane singing Tutti Frutti while pushing their food trolleys. I waited and waited, thinking maybe it would be a weird ending to the series (like the tour bus crashed and that was them in heaven) but the scene did not happen! I wonder what I've been 'remembering' all these years. One theory is that I'm getting it confused with camp aircraft based Scottish sitcom of the eighties*, The High Life, starring Alan Cummings. Or maybe I just imagined it.

The first time I saw Pulp Fiction, I noticed a terrible flaw in the plot, where someone referred to something that hadn't happened yet. I mean, it had happened in the film but would only happen to the character in the future, if you know what I mean. I argued the point with many people but then, when I watched the film again, I realised I had fallen asleep and dreamed the whole scene!

I used to try to convince myself that that whole of my life since Peter, my cat, got run over (around 1987 again?) was a dream but I'm pretty sure my mind is not capable of having created the last twenty two years or so of my life, and that Peter really is dead :( I surely couldn't have dreamed up something as wonderful as Pointless, could I?

*I've since been told that The High Life was on in the nineties (surely not!?) which would cast some doubt on the notion that I'd merged it together with Tutti Frutti in my memory. I'm rooting for the whole life being a dream theory instead now! :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

little red in da hood!

Apparently the story of Little Red Riding Hood is thousands of years old, not mere hundreds as was previously imagined. I think the story certainly must have something about it to keep us all so interested for so long...*
I know that many months now have passed since I made the tiny Little Red Riding Hoods from shrinky plastic. It is also many months since I attempted to paper cut the backgrounds for the Little Red Riding Hoods. And it's also many months since I was inspired to improve said paper cut backgrounds! But here, at last, are some of the finished brooches!
I actually really like it when projects take a long time to come together. They are always much more in keeping with how you wanted them to be. These brooches are quite tricky to photograph but (sigh...) I lurve them. Hope you do too :)

I have just listed one in my etsy shop, for anyone who may be interested. Yippee!

I spent most of yesterday and today making another Little Red Riding Hood inspired project. It was another one that had taken a long time to come together but I can't post any photos yet as it is a present for a (very) special (very) little someone. I'll share it next week. I really like it so far! Exciting!

Oh, by the way, the market I did on Saturday was good. It wasn't especially well publicised so wasn't that busy but I more than covered my bus fare and met some really nice people who were running the other stalls. I also sold a Dot Cotton pendant to a lady who had met Dot and Nick Cotton earlier this year! Oh, so jealous! Oh yeah, and we got coffee for free! Woo hoo!

*I think it's the scariness of Little Red Riding Hood that keeps us all interested. I once wrote a dissertation about why scary stories rock. Actually it was about how moving away from scary stories to pretty pink and sparkly stories would do the children's publishing industry no good. But, pretty much, it was about how scary stories rock!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Last minute market! Tomorrow!

I'm going to be doing a market again tomorrow (Saturday). Just a little one this time, in Beanscene on Skirving Street (Shawlands) from 11-3. I only found out about it this afternoon. I don't know what it will be like but I thought I may as well give it a go anyway. If you're in the area you should stop by and say hello or eat a muffin! I think it is going to be a regular (monthly?) event so hopefully it will be good. The space was free so I'm only gambling my bus fare to find out :)

I am shrinky dinking like mad this evening (see random picture above) as I sold out of most of my new Eastenders pendants at Made in the Shade and had yet to replenish. I will share a better picture of them (in their super duper packaging, which I'm very proud of!) when I have some light to photograph by!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

what a haul!

Beep beep! It sure is busy there in Picadilly Circus!
Graham and I went for a day's charity shopping yesterday, and what a charity shopping day it was! As well as the beautiful plate above, I got this mug:
Oh, it makes me laugh! And for 20p, who could leave it behind?
The man at the till was most amused that I wanted to buy this book when I wasn't 'foreign' (he asked!) but who could resist with these beautiful illustrations?
Every chapter has a theme (tea in a restaurant, in the living room, at Susan's office etc.) and each one has an amazing line drawing to go with it. These are two of my favourites.
Here's what is probably my favourite page, with my favourite part enlarged. I'm thinking this could make a sweet embroidery pattern, maybe? Her billowy skirt is adorable.
The poems and rhymes in old language text books must have been totally baffling to students. I like this one, though.
I found this great book at the start of the day. As soon as I saw the diagram of the escalator on the cover, I knew I would have to buy it. This book tells you how literally everything works. Well, not mp3 players and the like... Or even microwaves...
Want to know how a typewriter works? It's there!
These men inside the submarine reminded me of a Spike Milligan poem that always makes me laugh:

A baby sardine saw her first submarine.
She was scared and watched through a peephole.
"Oh come, come, come," said the sardine's mum,
"It's only a tin full of people."

Here's how a record player works, as well as how to dance while listening to it!

You may think this is impressive enough but there is more, including three circular knitting needles, lots of vintage buttons (some to keep and some to sell) and a fab tartan dress! I actually saw the dress in a charity shop a couple of months ago but it was too small for me. I was still pining for it so it was really exciting to find another one in my size!

Graham didn't do too badly for once, either, and even found a single by his old band! Ha ha! I always wonder when I will find something I've made in a charity shop but he went and beat me to it...

What a great day... To top it all off, when I got in, I found out that my Eastenders embroideries had been featured on Feeling Stitchy AND Mr X Stitch! Woo hoo!