Saturday, February 27, 2010


I was tagged by Claire to do this...

1: Open your first photo folder,
2: scroll to the 10th photo,
3: Post the photo and the story behind it,
4: Tag 5 or more peeps to continue the thread

..and it seemed like a good excuse to blog easily about nothing new and something a bit random. What I really mean is it seemed like a wonderful challenge, of course!

This is the picture that my computer selected for me - Big Daddy! There's not much of a story behind it really, but this is the pre-shrunk shrinky dink Big Daddy that I made into a birthday card for Graham just over two years ago. Big Daddy had a pretty good skin tone here (given my rather limited colour palette of permanent markers) but when he was shrunk, he looked like he'd had a rather more rigorous workout... You can see the finished card here.

Just to spin the story out a bit more, I will mention the other things you can see in the background. On the left is my supercute tealight holder thingummybobber. I bought it at a Christmas market in Edinburgh many years ago. It has a tiny townscape all the way round it (a bit wonky and shrunken) and looks gorgeous when it has a candle burning inside it. Next to that, is one of my many boxes of recipe cards that I use to make these. On top of the recipe cards are some really cute French stickers that my sister sent me. The stickers are the component parts of birds and rabbits (complete with stripy legs) and you can mix and match to create your own creatures. See what I mean? The two boxes on the right of the picture were presents from my mum and from my sister. They are different sizes and colours but are the same otherwise and both have the same Japanese-style dress stuck on the lid. They both gave me one of these boxes on the same birthday. I thought it was planned, but they had no idea and hadn't even mentioned it to each other at all. This wouldn't be so strange if they were frequenting the same shops, but they don't even live in the same country as each other! Spooky, huh? Right, I think that's all the story I can get out of this picture!

I'm going to tag five people who sometimes visit this blog. Feel free to join in or not as the mood takes you: you you you you and you. How sneaky I am! To find out if you've been tagged, you'll have to click all the links and visit these five lovely blogs. Mwahaha! As my original tagger might say...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

monkey business

I haven't had many crafty doings to show you lately (though I am embroidering my little heart out behind the scenes!) but here is a sock monkey I made this week. He has survived a savage attack from Lola Tombola, criminal mastermind, but has decided it would be safer to go and live in Aberdeen with Graham's niece who has a birthday coming up this weekend. I made a sock monkey for the birthday girl's sister a couple of years ago and got a special request for one this year. I hope she likes him.
This is the fourth sock monkey I've made (I use the instructions here, with a little bit of variation depending on the finer qualities of the socks, you know!) and I always end up loving them. They are just so old school and cute. You can see a couple of my other sock monkeys here and here, but if you want to see a rather more impressive sock monkey, look at this Hi-De-Hi monkey by Siansburys. How amazing?!

In other news (I'm slipping this in at the end of the post to spare a few blushes, but my main purpose is to name and shame myself really) Graham and I bit the bullet and weighed ourselves this week. We were very good for a very long time a while back and I felt great. Then Christmas 2008 struck and I pretty much didn't stop eating for 13 months. I had already decided something had to be done (I can't keep up with washing the handful of clothes I can squeeze into) but the scales were the horrific blow I needed to kick me up the frankly gigantic behind. I have put on thirty (30, three zero, not thirteen, but thirty, yes 30) pounds. That's over two stone, people! I have decided I want to lose it and am setting my 30th birthday as my target. That's about eleven weeks away. To be honest, I am quite realistic and I don't mind if I haven't lost all thirty pounds by then, but I do at least want to be well on the way and feeling good about myself and not like an old lady who can't climb the hill to her front door without wheezing loudly enough to wake the neighbours. I am declaring this publicly here as a little motivation to myself - I will be very ashamed if I've wittered on like this and then don't make the changes I'm promising to. I won't be mentioning this again (I don't want my blog to be about weight loss when there's so much crafty greatness to be blogging about) but I have put a weight loss ticker way down at the bottom of the page, which I will update with my progress. If it doesn't move soon, feel free to give me a severe telling off :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

whodunnit? shedunnit!

Did you watch it? Oh my! Bradleeeeeeey! I've always had a big soft spot for Bradley and his rosy cheeks, so it was tough viewing for me, as I'm sure it was for many of you. Who could not love Bradley? (And did you see him getting all emotional on the post-show interviews? So sad!) I'm also gutted about who the murderer is. Staceeeeeeey! I love Stacey. I don't want her to go to jail :(

Thanks for all your entries. I have compiled your predictions and will share them here. Don't be embarrassed, people - hindsight is a wonderful/terrible thing and you weren't to know how silly you would look in the end ;)

Here goes... Almost 20% of you thought the killer was Peggy, who came out on top with five votes. Sean Slater came second after three of you fell for the red herring gossip. (To be fair, you were close - right family, at least.) Third equal, with two votes each, were Jack, Roxy, Ryan and Becca. Ten characters got one vote each, ranging from the frankly ridiculous (Frank, baby Amy and Roly the long-dead poodle) to the highly unlikely (Jane - too sensible, Pat - not in the country, Grant - busy filming gangs, Tracey - not trusted with lines in most of the pre-recorded shows, so lord knows they would not trust her with the big reveal on the first live show!) to the plausible (Billy and Sam) to... the correct! Yes, one of you named Stacey as the killer! Congratulations to kdrobertson, who even predicted that Bradley would "take the rap" for it. Talk about taking the rap... :( Also worth mentioning is that four top suspects (Ian, Janine, Phil and Ronnie) got absolutely no votes. Interesting... Even Ronnie herself thought she did it until tonight!

Thanks to everyone who played along - you all made the build up even more fun - and congratulations again to the winner, kdrobertson. Please email me (you can click on the link in my profile) or leave another comment with some way of getting in touch with you. As soon as you prove that you are not a member of the EastEnders production team (just kidding!) and let me know which EastEnders character you would like embroidered, I will get a-stitching. Hooray!

A competition? Doof doof doof-doof-doof doof-doof-doof-doof!

Oh, the excitement! I have waited for this day for six months! Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll know I'm talking about tonight's live episode of EastEnders to celebrate their 25th anniversary. I've got over my fear that someone will fluff their lines and shatter the illusion and am now just mega excited. It's the television event of the quarter century, I'm telling you! Graham's parents are coming to visit today, but he is under strict instructions to get rid of them well before eight o'clock. Hee hee! I'm so mean...

I heard Adam Woodyat (a.k.a Ian Beale) on the radio this morning, saying that they have been rehearsing nine different endings (each one with a different killer revealed) and that the cast are only finding out today what ending they're actually going to go with! Aaaaah! Amazing! I can only think of seven obvious suspects (though I may be forgetting someone...) so there is a chance it will be someone who hasn't even crossed our minds. I kind of hope not. The only thing we really know for sure is that Pat is innocent. She was in New Zealand at the time of the murder. Or was she...? :)

I have been loving the nostalgia factor of EastEnders recently - Pat's old photos of every Albert Square wedding, Ian's family tree research and what I suppose is a time capsule (hopefully we get to see what's in it tonight) plus all the old faces appearing for Bianca's wedding - Sonia (and trumpet) to name but one! And Bianca and Ricky getting married, of course! And Stacey and Bradley, too, though why can't things just work out for them? Sigh... Sorry - got a bit side-tracked there! I hope the nostalgia continues a while longer and with news of Kat and Alfie's return later this year, the signs are looking good. Kat back in the Square? I feel a celebration embroidery coming on!

If you're watching tonight, I hope you enjoy it. Fancy putting your money where your mouth is (so to speak) without actually risking a penny?

To celebrate my favourite show's quarter century and the fact that February is apparently embroidery month (yeah, who knew?!) I am having a little competition. Leave a comment here before 8 o'clock tonight saying who you think the killer is. If you're a super sleuth and get it right, you could win a large EastEnders embroidery handmade by me. You'll be able to choose from Pat, Dot, Ethel and Willy or Frank, or maybe even a new embroidered character of your own choosing. I can't promise that - some characters I've tried to do just haven't worked out - but we can certainly discuss and I'll do my best! Whatever character you choose, you may have to wait a few weeks to receive your prize (I can't keep up with the sewing demands as it is these days!) but rest assured that your embroidery will be with you just as soon as I can manage to make it. Only one entry (and one killer named) per person, please, so be decisive and don't hedge your bets. If more than one person gets it right, then all the correct answers will be put in a hat and one winner will be drawn at random. If nobody gets it right, then more time to watch EastEnders (and less time sewing) for me! :) Come on, people, you've got nine hours to make that all important decision...

Doof doof doof-doof-doof doof-doof-doof-doof!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

omnichord is the future

This is the mysterious charity shop item, revealed at last. It's... an omnichord! That's me rocking out with it, although it is not exactly a rocking instrument. I plan to use it (once I manage to prise it away from Graham) to become the next Au Revoir Simone. If you click on that link you can see them using an omnichord, which means you won't need to read the rest of this long and befuddled-hangover-head blog post!

For those of you who have no idea what an omnichord is (I didn't know what it was when we found it, which seems strange now since our lives have pretty much revolved around it for the last month) it is an electronic instrument that anybody is supposed to be able to play, regardless of their musical ability. The buttons on the left make various rhythms and there are volume knobs etc. Sorry, I'm not doing a very good job of explaining - my head is very fuggy today. The rows of buttons in the middle play chords when you press them. The top row has major chords, the middle row has minor chords and the bottom row has sevenths. See the bit to the right there that looks like a circuit board? You strum that (with your finger or the giant rubber plectrum provided) and it plays beautiful twinkly notes that belong to the chord you have selected. It's so much fun! This one still had its instruction manual with a whole load of songs in it including Rhinestone Cowboy, which I intend to learn to play! Much to Graham's horror...

I can't believe it took so long to buy this. The day Graham spotted it (over 4 weeks ago!) it had just arrived and the lady in the charity shop said she had no idea what price to sell it at. She took our number and said she would keep it for us and let us know once it had a price. Afterwards, Graham said he'd probably pay £20 for something like that, but when we started looking them up on the internet, we realised they were selling for A LOT more than that. The more we looked at them, though, the more we really wanted it. We presumed the charity shop would be looking at the same internet sites as us. Graham started saying he would probably pay £50 for something like that. After a few days the shop still hadn't been in touch, so Graham phoned them. They said they still hadn't valued it and that they would phone once they had. Graham started saying he would probably pay £70 for something like that. We waited and waited and waited, but still the shop hadn't phoned. Graham phoned them again and they said it was currently with a musician being valued and he should phone back on Wednesday. When he phoned back that Wednesday, he was told to phone back on Saturday. When he phoned back on Saturday, he was told to phone back in a week. When he phoned back in a week... You get the idea! Graham started saying he would probably pay £100 for something like that. By this point, though, we were kind of resigned to the fact that we weren't going to get it. Since they were taking so long to set a price, we expected the price would be really high. Just what sort of research were they doing? I think we were also beginning to question our sanity - it was becoming a bit of an obsession and I was quite scared by how much we were willing to pay for something that we hadn't even known existed a month before that...

Anyway, on Friday afternoon the phone rang and it was the very apologetic charity shop to say they had finally priced the omnichord. They said they had been planning to charge more for it, but they felt really bad that Graham had been kept waiting so long and had been having to chase them up so... they said he could have it for £20 - exactly the price he had been willing to pay the day he first saw it! It was obviously meant to be his (mine! mine!) and it has turned into one of those nicely rounded charity shop stories. Graham has locked himself away all day, adding omnichord to his songs. Apparently it was just what they needed :)

second hand valentine

This really is a second hand Valentine's greeting. I'm using the card I just made for Graham (made from a polka dot card and a love is... paper coaster, which were both found in charity shops) to wish you a happy Valentine's day too. I hope your day is as romantic or unromantic as your heart desires. Our Valentine's day is probably not going to be very romantic as we drank too much love juice (alcohol, people, alcohol!) last night and are feeling a little bit bleary eyed today. I'm actually on call today but am praying (touch wood, fingers crossed, eyes squeezed tightly shut) that the phone doesn't ring. I don't think my subtitles would be up to much today! I was on call yesterday, but didn't have to go in. I managed to spend the day charity shopping with Graham who also had an unexpected day off. I didn't find much really but it still has to go down as one of the most successful charity shopping days in history, particularly for Graham. Remember the mystery charity shop item I half mentioned A MONTH AGO? Well, after the longest charity shop saga in history, we finally have it! I will come back and tell you all about it once I have taken a photo. In fact, I'll go and do that now!

Update (one hour later): Graham came back from his cycle with his big sweaty sausage-fingered hands. He found an envelope addressed to him. He used his sweaty sausage fingers to rip open the envelope in his usual hamfisted manly manner... and totally destroyed the card in the process! He never even got to see it! Valentine's day is cancelled ;)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

great things of exciting wonderment

I really need to blog about my holiday before I forget I even went. This is a semi-holiday post, though, believe it or not. I think I mentioned that we ended up going to charity shop Mecca and this is just one of the many wonderful things I found there - the most beautiful book (never mind most beautiful origami book) I think I have ever seen and it cost me just £1.99! Can you believe it? Bargain is not the word.
Each page has instructions to make something and a piece of real live origami glued into a beautiful background illustration. Observe the swan!
Observe the pinwheel! This page also has a pinwheel made by the book's previous owner stored safely between the pages. Can you see the little windmill in the background? Aw!
Observe the canary!
Observe the crane! And do try not to die of joy looking at the beautiful printed background - I know I nearly did. Swoon!

I've posted lots more photos up on my flickr, which is worth visiting for the illustrated end papers alone. You will not believe your eyes. Plus there's even an origami lobster! An origami lobster, I tells ya! Books just don't get any better...

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted the plural "things" in the title and, yes, there is more exciting news yet to come. Remember I mentioned my forthcoming telly fame? (Fame is probably a bit of a strong word for it... Hee hee!) Well, the cameras were rolling yesterday and (if editing fate is kind to me) you might just spot some of my EastEnders embroideries in the new series of Mary Queen Of Shops! I'm so excited - eeeeep! Thanks to a friend of Claire (of Miso Funky fame) who was doing some work experience down in London town, Claire's cross-stitching and my embroidery found their way into an interiors type shop that Mary Portas has been revamping. You can see the lovely looking shop (and our work if you click on the gallery link) here. I think the new series is on next month. I will be watching with baited breath!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I made a foxy discovery!

Foxy doodle do! I have been productive today but, oh, where did the time go? I have added the new notecards to my etsy shop and taken better pictures of them for both shops. I also packaged up all the cards I have left so they are ready to go if I get a mad rush of orders - ever the optimist! I had printed out lots of images for the EastEnders lavender bags but not done anything with them, so I heat transferred each and every one of them (a job I do not like doing as it pongs a lot and I sometimes burn myself) so they are ready to be made into more lavender bags at the drop of a hat. I spoke to my sister and nieces and nephew and found out a nice thing that happened to them this week but I will share that little story if/when I am emailed a picture. Kerry says I can move to France and be their au pair if I lose my job. We still have to iron out the finer details though as, thus far, Bruno (her cat) has not agreed to Poppy and Lola coming with me... I forgot to ask about Graham :) I also did the dishes and took down the smelly shower curtain, decided it was definitely beyond washing, binned it and hung up a new one. I did wash lots of clothes though and hung them all up to dry. I also made a start on our shopping list for later - ugh! I did not do any embroidery yet.
The discovery I made was that you can draw on the heat transfer paper with ordinary old pens and it goes onto fabric just as well as when you've printed something from the computer. This little foxy doodle (inspired by a beautiful stuffed fox by Wooden Tree that I saw in the Maisonette yesterday) was my trial run. I'm now full of excitement at the prospects and am off to rescue all the scraps of heat transfer paper from the bin to do more. Something will come of this discovery, I'm sure. I just don't know what yet... I think I get too excited by coming up with new ideas but I just can't help myself. It's so much more fun to experiment than to slavishly reproduce things that might actually sell. It may not be the best way to build a money-making craft empire but I'm not sure that's really the reason I do craft anyway, so roll on the pointless-for-now heat transferring of doodles! Yay!

music to your ears

Here's a song for you to enjoy. It's a household favourite here. One night we'd had a few too many drinks and phoned our cats from a phonebox and sang this to them on the answering machine. Just a little glimpse into my rock and roll lifestyle there! I'm aiming to be super productive today (feeling like this weekend is just not long enough and knowing that we have to do a big supermarket shop when Graham gets in from work) but it's 10.45am and I'm lolling about in my dressing gown still. Tut tut. I will try to blog again later and report some progress. In the meantime, enjoy Fred Vom Jupiter!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

a cockney knees up!

Look who it is! Dot and Ethel! And Willy too!
Look who it is! Pat and Frank!

I am very excited to reveal my new notecard sets. Yippee! After many hours of messing about on the computer by me and two attempts at getting it right by the printer, they are finally just how I wanted them to be. Just look at the colour of Frank's face - working in the car lot is a stressful business, as you can see! And I should point out that no ocelots were harmed in the creation of Ethel's hat.

The notecards are available in my shop now. You can get a pack of two Dots and two Ethels for £6 or you can get a pack of two Pats and two Franks for £6. Not good enough? Then opt for the car lot special offer and get one set of each (that's two Dots, two Ethels, two Pats and two Franks) for the bargainous knock-down price
of £10 for the lot!

And for those of you who are too young to remember Ethel or Frank, the "classic combo" of Dot ad Pat is still available :)

I will be adding these to my etsy shop soon for those of you who prefer to work in dollars. Talking of my shops and EastEnders... Have you noticed something is missing? Yes, my embroideries have vanished suddenly. I have not a single one left! All the embroideries I had have gone to visit the Made in the Shade Maisonette in the hope that someone will see them there and love them enough to take them home. But if you're not in Glasgow and you are desperate for some embroidery, then fear not because I will be sewing up a storm very soon. I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'm here, life's queer, get used to it!

I'm alive! I'm having a crazy old week of highs and lows, lows and highs. I may be out of a job soon (don't ask!) but may also be a world famous embroiderer on the telly (ask!). Thank goodness for some good news to balance out the bad. Our boiler had not been working since we got back from our holiday (it has been so cold in our flat, causing me to have hot water bottles actually strapped to my body at all times!) but it got fixed today. Bad for a while, now good. We now have heat (good) and it wasn't as expensive as we had feared (good) but we also have a very loud noise that never used to happen (bad). So, you see, Yin and Yang is maintained...

Our holiday was brilliant. I broke the curse of not being able to plan birthday outings and we had a super time. I have uploaded some of the photos to my flickr (yes, there are more to come!) but I will be back with a dedicated holiday blog post soon, so will tell all then. I accidentally took Graham on holiday to the charity shop Mecca for his birthday (brilliant!) so I have some great charity shop finds to share too. In the meantime, here is a picture of the birthday card I made for Graham. He's a big Gregory's Girl fan and, if you can't quite make it out, this is the "Off you go, you small boys," scene. We're going to the special 30th anniversary screening of Gregory's Girl later this month. We were quick off the mark and got tickets straight away (good) then work said I couldn't have the day off (bad) then it turned out I wasn't on the rota to work that day anyway (good). Life, eh?

Right, off to watch Mad Men (good, good, good).