Wednesday, November 28, 2012

first aiders

Seems like this band are right up my street.  Whenever I hear a song I like on the radio and wonder who does it, I find out later that it was First Aid Kit.  This number is tickling me at the moment, though I still can't bring myself to approve of their choice of band name.  

Ugh, it's taken me so long to construct those poorly constructed sentences.  I'm not sleeping well lately (and not just because of my little limpet baby, though she doesn't help matters) and it's definitely affecting my brain.  I find myself pausing mid-sentence when I'm speaking and the simplest of words escape me on a regular basis.  Ah well, I'll let the music do the talking for tonight, man!  Far out :)

bored? pop it!

While pushing the pram through Kelvingrove Park yesterday, I spotted this chalk message scrawled across the pathway in the herbaceous border.
Following the arrow, I found this bench...
... with this bit of bubble wrapped tacked to it, along with the instruction, "Bored? Pop it!"  There were similar but slightly different messages all along the walkway (my favourite being, "Waiting?  Well, sit down and get popping!") although this was the only one with the bubble wrap still attached.

Ah, Glasgow, how I do love thee.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

happy face

Looking back through photos from recent weeks, it's hard to find a picture where Dulcie doesn't have an extra-large cheesy grin on her gorgeous wee face.  I guess that means we must be doing something right as parents.  Hurrah!  Here she is enjoying lunch in Kember and Jones (mmmmm!) with me and my mum.  She had a packed lunch of sweetcorn fritters and made friends with everyone on the surrounding tables (it's amazing how far a smile can get you in life!) while my mum and I caught up and enjoyed the delicious food.
And here she is having just eaten a pot of yoghurt with her bare hands - oh, the joy!  She does do things other than eat, but I guess meal times are one of the few times I have my hands free to take photos.
This was Dulcie's first outing in the super-cosy foot muff for her pram.  It's basically a giant, fuzzy sleeping bag and she loved it, hence this smile, which she had on her face almost constantly until she eventually dozed off for a snug afternoon snooze.
As you can see, Dulcie brings out the best in me too.  No matter how rubbish everything else is (you're probably picking up on the fact that things are pretty rubbish at the moment) I can't help but be happy around our wee smiling faced Dulcie.

Monday, November 26, 2012

how to crochet a phone cosy

Graham took Dulcie out in her pram for a couple of hours this weekend and in that time I managed to make the cover I'd been planning to for my phone.  Halfway through making this I decided that a phone sock type affair would probably be better in terms of accessibility, but then I wouldn't have been able to use my fancy button so I stuck to the plan and made one with a fastenable flap.

I just worked this pattern out as I went, but I made a note of what I was doing so I'll share the "pattern" here in case you fancy making a case for your own phone.  It was very quick and easy.  My phone is a Samsung Galaxy Ace, but I think this would fit most smartphones.  (Well, I don't know really, being a fancy-phone novice and all.)

Here's how I did it.

Using double knitting wool and a 4.5mm crochet hook:
- Chain 25 stitches and join with a slip stitch to make a ring.
- Crocheting into the foundation row, double crochet for 20 rounds.
(Crocheting in the round is not the neatest for making stripes, but the bits where you change colour will end up on the side of the phone and not be too noticeable... or you could make your case all one colour for added easiness.)
- Double crochet in the next 13 stitches.
- Chain 1 and turn, double crochet in each of 13 stitches...
- ... then repeat this for a further 10 rows.

To make the buttonhole:
- Chain 1 and turn, double crochet 5 stitches, chain 3, skip next three stitches, double crochet 5 stitches.
- [Chain 1 and turn, double crochet 13 stitches] x 2

- Weave in any ends, sew/crochet up bottom opening and attach button.
- Et voila!

If you wanted to make a simple phone sock, you would just:
- Chain 23 stitches and join with a slip stitch to make a ring.
- Crocheting into the foundation row, double crochet for approximately 25 rounds (until your phone sock is just longer than your phone).
- Weave in ends and sew up the bottom opening.

Easy peasy, huh?  Let me know if you use my rough guide to make any phone cosies of your own.  They'd be a great idea for a handmade Christmas gift and the simple phone sock could probably be completed in about an hour, I'd think.  And that's going by my snail's pace crocheting.  Enjoy :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

upgrade of the century

Something major happened this week.  My battered and very old pay-as-you-go phone (which lost its screen when I dropped it down the stairs a couple of months ago) finally gave up the ghost and D-I-E-D died.  This forced me to bite the bullet and dive headfirst into the mysterious (to me) world of modern phones, something I hadn't so much as dipped my toe into for the best part of a decade.  Ch-ch-ch-check it out!  I got me a smartphone!  And, yes, that is the ripple blanket I have as my wallpaper.  Squee!  That alone is enough to make me a smartphone convert.

I have had a few teething problems, the main one being that I discovered I had been saving numbers to my phone rather than my SIM card for the last six years or so, so when my phone died I lost pretty much every number that I ever actually use.  Bummer.  But last night my old phone miraculously came back to "life" (i.e. switched itself on and did nothing) long enough for me to scribble down all the missing numbers.  Phew!  So now you know if you never hear from me that it's just because I'm ignoring you ;)

I'm hoping to find time to crochet a wee cover for my new phone this week and I'm thinking it could be the perfect use for this button.  Yay!

Now, if only someone would phone me...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

it's (nearly) chri-i-i-i-i-istmas!

 Last week I felt like Christmas was still ages away.  This week I feel like I've left it all too late and may have to cancel Christmas altogether.  I'll do my best to catch up and get in the Christmas spirit though.  My mum brought me a copy of the free Tesco magazine this week because of the wreath above, which she thought I might like.  It is nice, I think.  There are instructions on how to make it, but I reckon you could work it out for yourself.  (Put ribbon on bobbins, make wire circle, put bobbins on wire, attach ribbon, hang.  You knew that already, didn't you?)
In an attempt to get in the mood, I made this seasonal treasury on etsy.  All the items are related to classic festive television.  Of course, thinking of 16 classic festive films/programmes and finding items that could represent them was not as easy as I had anticipated and had me scratching my head for a long while yesterday.  I even had to include my own EastEnders cards (bad, bad me!) to fill the final space.  Talking of my EastEnders cards, I sold quite a lot of them in my etsy shop this week.  That would have been exciting enough in its own right, but it turned out that the lady who bought them works on EastEnders (jealous, me?!) and intends to give the cards to some of her colleagues, so my cards are actually going to be delivered to Albert Square!  This pretty much made my week :)

p.s. I'm already running low on individual Ethel cards (just three left!) so if you wanted an Ethel I would act fast to avoid disappointment.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Originally uploaded by painter girl

I don't think I really blog much about lurve, do I?  But today marks the ninth anniversary of my first date with Graham.  He took me to see his ex-girlfriend's band.  Smooth...  Well, it worked - nine years and one baby later we're doing pretty well.  Last year I spent our anniversary having a miserable day still in hospital, fasting (noooo!) and having an angiogram (double noooo!) where my veins spasmed and the tube got painfully stuck halfway up my arm on its way to my heart (triple noooo!).  Still, I did get to watch my coronary arteries doing their thing on a big TV screen in real time.  I suppose watching your own heart could be viewed as romantic...?  Anyway, since year eight was such a crappy day, we've decided to make year nine a good one and are leaving Dulcie at home with her grandparents tonight and heading out for a meal AND a cinema trip.  Wow.  This will be the first cinema trip sans Dulcie since she arrived.  I'm so excited that I just booked my annual haircut a couple of months early for this afternoon!

Over the last year of scary heart nastiness, Graham has really proved his salt and cut the mustard (can't think of any more condiment-related compliments) and continues to be my very handsome rock and entertainer in times of woe.  He twiddles his thumbs in hospital canteens while I lie in MRI scanners (that's our less romantic plan for tomorrow unfortunately) and even asks my consultant all the questions I'm too scared to.  I'm very lucky to have him.  I will do my best to be the model girlfriend on our date tonight.

And I think that is about as soppy as I can (un)comfortably get in a blog post.

Monday, November 19, 2012

style icon

Sophie's mum from The Tiger Who Came To Tea is my new style icon.  She's so chic and lovely.  I think she's an achievable style icon for the likes of me too, compared to some potential style icons anyway.  I loved The Tiger Who Came To Tea as a child.  I was excited by the fact that the tiger managed to drink all the water from the taps and at the idea of going out to a cafe AFTER DARK.  Wow.  Dulcie sometimes enjoys The Tiger Who Came To Tea and sometimes loses interest part of the way through.  I think it will grow on her as she gets older, though, and her attention span increases.  Maybe one day she'll revisit the book as an adult and say, "Hey, Sophie's mum looks just like my mum!"  In my dreams...  Goodness, I want that outfit.  One good thing about returning to work will be getting to wear dresses again.  I miss my dresses (all the clothes I wear day to day at the moment are so shabby) but they're no good for getting your boobs out.  To breastfeed, I mean.  There'll be no breastfeeding in the office (listen carefully and you'll hear Glasgow's subtitlers breathe a sigh of relief) so it'll be dresses all the way.

Dulcie's favourite book at the moment (apart from The Very Hungry Caterpillar, naturally) is Not Now Bernard, another title I remember fondly from my own childhood.  She absolutely loves the bit where the monster bites Bernard's dad on the leg.  Hilarious.  We renewed her library copy today and the young man behind the desk held the book aloft and exclaimed, "Absolute classic!"  Seems like everyone loves Not Now Bernard.  Quite right too.  Another picture book Dulcie and I have been enjoying recently is The Haunted House.  I blogged about it years back and am enjoying having a good excuse (Dulcie's education!) to take it off the shelf more often nowadays.

Right, off to dig out my ribbed tights and a nice cardi :)

bag a car lot style bargain (not cut and shut, I promise!)

I think I'm getting back into the swing of things, shop-wise, and may even have gone overboard with my listings.  Still, it's nice to see my virtual shelves groaning at the seams.  One of the things I just listed  there was a set of all four Easties Christmas cards for a bargainous six bucks!  There's all sorts of other stuff too, including some fun stocking fillers - make your own zip brooch kits, paint chip emergency sewing kits, pom pom bomb ra-ra-fiti kits...

Right, that's enough of the hard sell and, besides, I'm totally neglecting my baby to write this.  My mum's arriving tomorrow to help out for a few days and it's good to feel like I'm already on a bit of an achievement roll.  Who knows what I'll manage to tick off the list while she's here?!  Woo hoo!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

save me from the poorhouse!

 I should have spent the morning tidying in preparation for the arrival of the in-laws, but instead I have been reopening my etsy shop!  Wow!  It has been a long time coming, but my bank balance (ouchy) gave me the final little nudge I needed this week.  In my shop you'll find lots of familiar items and also, more excitingly, these EastEnders Christmas cards.
 I actually made them for last Christmas, but they arrived back from the printers a few days after Dulcie's early arrival, so (other than a few that Claire took to markets for me and a handful that I sold in Made In The Shade's Maisonette) they have been under wraps all year.
 They are available in four varieties - Dot, Ethel (and Willy), Pat and Frank - each for £2 a pop.
I can't believe Pat died in the time it took me to list them.  Sigh...

I've also added a wee sale section to my shop.  I'm trying to clear out so I can downsize and turn my craft room into a craft corner, so I thought now might be a good time of year to offer some canny shoppers a wee bargain or two.  So far I've listed some mini TV embroideries (remember them?) and some large EastEnders embroideries.  I'll also be adding the last few small EastEnders embroideries when I get another five minutes and maybe some other bits and pieces, though I'm making no promises about that.  I probably won't find the time to touch the shop again until June or so.  I'll be so busy packing up everyone's purchases, you see!  Ha!  Goodness, I'm so out of the loop.  In every regard.  Go and visit my shop and if you can't bring yourself to buy anything, at least favourite something for me.  I think I need a crafty confidence boost.  I feel like a fraud posting about my wares after all this time.  But I think my new Christmas cards rock, actually.  There, I said it, so you don't have to :)

Edit: Look!  Now you can get the Christmas cards at Miso Funky too!  Yay!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

saturday night dinner

 Tonight I got all fancy in the kitchen, making Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's beetroot tart tatin for the grown-ups and a simple mini beetroot tart for Dulcie.  Her individual tart turned out so cute that I had to photograph it.  I'm taking this baby on Masterchef!  Incidentally, I've gone off Gregg Wallace these days, I'm sure you'll all be relieved to hear.
 Hmm, food photography has never been my strong point.
Here it is alongside the grown-up version.  The reason I made Dulcie her own individual tart was so that I could leave out the salt and sugar that I added to ours, but in the end she pretty much demolished the shop-bought puff pastry (and all its salt) and left all the healthy beetroot.
I try to trust Dulcie to self-regulate a bit when it comes to what she eats and leaves in each meal.  A few days ago she couldn't get enough beetroot.  Tonight she ate pastry and potatoes, something she nearly always ignores, so I figure she needed carbs.  Well, that's the hope.  She did also have peas and a clementine so was not entirely fruit and veg free.
Anyway, you can see Dulcie enjoyed her food, but the main point of this post was supposed to be to inform you how much Graham and I enjoyed ours!  We planned to eat half the tart tonight and have the leftovers with salad for lunch tomorrow, but we couldn't resist scoffing the lot.  The tart does take quite a long time to make, but most of that time it's just sitting in the oven, so in terms of workload it is really very simple (if you're like me and cheat on the puff pastry).  I've cooked this for my family before and they all loved it too.  And if you're very lucky, it will make you pee pink!  Exciting!

In other tasty food news... last night I made us roast parsnips with parmesan and today used the leftovers (I made loads for this purpose) to make Covent Garden's parsnip and parmesan soup.  Holy frick, it was good.  If you do fancy making this soup, I wouldn't cook your parsnips quite so much as the lady who posted the recipe did.  If you make them too brown, the soup tastes a bit bitter and burnty as we have learned from previous experience.  Of course, since I am a domestic goddess these days (ha!) my soup was perfect today and not burnty at all.  Go me!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

first anniversary

One year ago today, Dulcie and I met for the very first time.  Her birthday (Saturday) seems like such a long time ago already.  I can't believe they made me wait that long to see her!  No wonder I was such a wreck.  I remember the ambulance ride to her hospital seemed to take for ever.
Dulcie was off the ventilator by then but was still getting a bit of help breathing through this little mask. We still have the wee nose piece and it is so tiny!
And just look at her now.  She is such a wee smasher.  Do you know she has started to applaud good answers on Pointless?  That's my girl!

I hope you'll all forgive my nostalgia.  I never got to blog about Dulcie's arrival at the time (not until well after the fact) so I figure it's OK to revisit it now.  I'll try to think of something more topical to say soon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

ten, eleven, twelve

So, as I said, Saturday was Dulcie's first birthday.  One year earlier, she was on a ventilator, the tiniest thing I had ever seen, or not seen at that point.  I was busy having morphine-induced dreams in intensive care while she was being transferred by ambulance to neonatal intensive care.  When I came round, I was left looking at a photo on our camera of a random baby with a pink hat pulled over most of her face until the webcam with her hospital was set up and I could watch her pixelated and tube-covered self that way.  I still hate to think about that time (the anniversary of it all has been tricky) but just look at our shining girl now!  Hasn't she done a great job of growing up?!  I bought her party frock on my birthday back in May, putting it away for a later date, and fortunately remembered about it the day before her birthday.  It fit her perfectly, like it was made to be her first-birthday outfit, and she was very cute and happy in it all day.
We had a bit of a balloon overdose as I had taken some with me and my mum had provided some too.  Dulcie's cousins decided we should just blow them all up anyway, which turned out to be a very good idea as they provided lots of entertainment all day.  Dulcie and Elsie both kept grabbing balloons and sucking the knot frantically.  My theory is that they thought they were surrounded by giant, colourful boobs.  Maybe they were hoping for some exotically flavoured milk?  Amazingly, neither of them suffered a balloon bursting in their faces.  Phew.
I think I have already mentioned Dulcie's love for The Very Hungry Caterpillar?  I also liked the idea of her having a cupcake all to herself, so the two ideas kind of came together and produced this very homemade monstrosity.  Carrot cupcakes (this recipe with added sultanas - v yummy!) made up the body, liquorice for legs and antennae, Delia's all-in-one sponge for the head.  My mum and sister had offered to make the cake, but I wanted to do it myself, although by the time I got off the train from Glasgow it was really the last thing I felt like doing.  I'm glad I did though (the first baking I had done in ages) and I actually love how unprofessional he turned out.
My sister found an old, worn-out copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the local dump and cut it up to make these decorations for my mum's sideboard.  Dulcie was delighted with them, although apparently my nephew Angus was in tears during the cutting up of the book.  Aw!
Dulcie's cousins also made these caterpillar-themed snacks for the birthday spread.
Green apples, Babybel and a little bit of liquorice.  My sister got the idea from here.
Here's Dulcie blowing out her candle (with a bit of assistance).
When she reached out to grab a cake, she looked round, waiting for someone to tell her she wasn't allowed... then swiftly helped herself to two!
Here she is enjoying her first taste of sugar.
And just to prove it wasn't all about the sweet stuff, here's a picture of her happy little pakora face.
As well as my side of the family, Dulcie's Auntie Dee Dee (Graham's sister, Laura) came to represent the paternal side.  Reprezent, Auntie Dee Dee!  Dulcie was loving all the attention and all the people to play with.
Presents were a big hit too, although Dulcie's cousins (who were helping her open parcels) were probably even more excited than she was.  I finished her pointy kitty just in time for the big day.
Dulcie absolutely loved every single one of her presents and I was pleased the pointy kitty managed to hold her own amidst all the bright colours and loud noises.  Since coming home, the pointy kitty has been kind of neglected in favour of her Fisher Price farm and talking dog, but I'm confident she'll love this cat in the long term.
Dulcie developed this new brand of cheesy grin over the course of the day.  I honestly don't think she stopped smiling from the moment she got up until she finally (finally!) fell asleep.  Oh, it was such a lovely day.  I kind of thought first birthday parties were for the guests more than the birthday baby, but Dulcie definitely knew something special was happening and she just loved every minute of it.

And I managed not to burst into tears once... or not when anyone was looking, at least.  Go me!

Monday, November 12, 2012

busy, busy

It's been a busy (and emotional) week round these parts with lots going on, good and bad.  The main event has been this little ukulele player turning one year old this weekend.  Wowsers!  We travelled up north to my parents' for the big event.  I have lots of photos to share, but they'll need to wait until another day.  Man oh man, babies can be so demanding...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

dad days

 Weekends are dad days for Dulcie.
 Dads provide things that mums don't, namely anything that might cause serious damage to self/property like flinging flashing toys round your head until a bit flies off.  Ah well, Dulcie enjoyed it.
In our household musical education is also a paternal responsibility.  Graham wants Dulcie to be a drummer when she grows up, but it couldn't do any harm for her to play the bass too.  I'm not sure whether Dulcie is naturally drawn to musical instruments or whether Graham's encouraging is taking effect already, but she really does seem to love anything she can use to make a noise.

I'm glad Dulcie enjoys time with her dad at the weekend because pretty soon I'll be back at work and it'll be just the two of them for two long days at a time (and a few evenings).  I'm sure Dulcie will be OK... but will her dad?!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

on a sunday afternoon

 It's Dulcie's first birthday on Saturday (unbelievable) and I really want to give her a handmade gift.  With Dulcie's particular brand of 24/7 clinginess that she's been rocking over the last month or two, it's been pretty much impossible to find the time to make a start on anything for her, but today, in a last-ditch attempt, Graham took her out for a walk so that I could get peace to try to make her present.  This was the scene  this afternoon as I brought the sewing machine into the kitchen and stitched away while listening to Jarvis Cocker.
I had made a good start on Dulcie's gift by the time she got back, but then it all went wrong and the seams started to split as I was stuffing it.  I did a swift repair job, but am most unhappy about the situation as I want her present to be special and maybe not perfect but certainly not botched.  Hopefully I find the time to finish it this week at least.

I'm not sure if maybe all mums feel a bit sad when their babies turn one, but given what happened when she was born, I am finding it hard to separate Dulcie's birthday from the anniversary of when my life turned into a big pile of shit.  I think I'd feel a lot better about it all if I had managed not to mess up her present :(

Saturday, November 3, 2012

halloween 2012... in pictures!

 I know some readers were disappointed that my six-year-old self didn't have the foresight to document my sister's Halloween party in 1986 by taking photos, so I thought I should share these pictures of Halloween 2012 so that we can all look back on them in 26 years.
Dulcie and I were in Elgin for the week visiting my parents and my sister and her family who are visiting from France for a couple of weeks.  Elsie and Dulcie wore their matching Halloween tops for most of the day, looking very cute and a bit spooky, doing things in unison more often than seemed likely.  That's my eldest niece Kim holding up Elsie and my sister restraining Dulcie, who was just desperate to walk to me (behind the camera).
 We went to the park in my mum and dad's street and discovered that this suitably spooky new cobweb-esque swing had been installed.  From left to right here we have Kim, Angus and Ruth, making up 75% of Dulcie's French cousins all in one photo.
Ruth wasn't up for letting me push her high, but Kim and Angus hung on for dear life and pretended to be Fred and Daphne from Scooby Doo, bless them.
In the evening Dulcie and Elsie changed out of their matching "I love my mummy" tops and into... matching witch outfits!  We were having a Halloween party complete with spooky snacks and games.  Fortunately my mum (with a bit of help from the local charity shop) had provided costumes for everyone under the age of eight.
 The obligatory dooking for apples.
 Eating sugar-covered doughnuts from string.  Elsie, who's only been on solids for about ten weeks, managed to position herself perfectly to catch a huge piece of falling doughnut and had crammed it in her mouth and swallowed it down before anyone could stop her.  We can only imagine what that sugar rush must have been like.
This game involved hunting for spiders and witches' body parts in a pan of cold spaghetti.  There were plastic spiders and fingers, lychees for eyeballs and raw bacon (yes, raw bacon, the sort of thing only a grandparent could think of!) cut into the shape of tongues.  The severed hand at the bottom of the picture there was an added bonus and was made from a latex glove filled with jelly.
My dad disappeared at one point and rang the doorbell wearing this monstrous fancy dress outfit.  I could barely even look at him (talk about heebie jeebies!) so of course the children were all terrified and much screaming and sobbing ensued.
Possibly the creepiest part of the outfit were the feet with gloves instead of socks providing red, gnarly toes at hideously protruding angles.

Ah, my father...  No wonder I grew up with issues.

And so concludes my pictorial report of Halloween 2012.  I will look forward to reading this from the future.