Wednesday, December 24, 2014

merry christmas!

 Just a quick post to wish you all a very merry Christmas!  This is the card Dulcie and I made to send out this year - hand-printed Christmas trees (using Dulcie's hand) with washi tape trunks and sticker stars and baubles.  Dulcie enjoyed getting covered in green paint, but lost interest quickly in the stickers (so fickle!) and left me to do most of them.  This particular card was one the few that she did make all on her own so I kept it for posterity even though we failed to make enough to send to everyone on our list.  Oops.
I used my customisable stamp to create this oh-so-hilarious info on the back of the card.  HAND made!  Get it?  Honestly, my rapier wit never fails to astound me...

Well, that's my favourite part of the festive season over (I'm all about the build-up) but I'm sure I'll manage to enjoy myself tomorrow anyway ;)  Hope you all do too, whatever you have planned.


Monday, December 22, 2014

from the sublime to the ridiculous

 My advent calendar from my sister this year has been amazing, maybe the best yet.  The last few days in particular really typify all that is great about advent calendaring.  A couple of days ago I opened my package to discover this beautiful foil covered cardboard box.
 Inside were lots of gorgeous old paper lanterns... well as a few really sweet individual decorations.  This one (belonging to someone called Melvyn originally - awww!) went down very well with Peter Rabbit-loving Dulcie, so I made sure to put it high up on the tree, well out of toddlers' reach!
Today's gift was less beautiful but equally pleasing - a skipping rope with handles made from old tubes of haemorrhoid cream!  Har! You can tell from the colour of the rope that someone has actually made good use of this in the past.  I intend to do the same!

(Apologies for the blurry photos - I am snapping and blogging on the move this week.  Better blurry photos than no photos, I hope you agree.)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

festiving up

Festiving! I'm making up words! It's Chri-i-i-i-i-istmas!  Here's my finished wreath, hanging on our front door.  I love it - so bright and Christmassy.  The flowers are made from Quality Street wrappers that have been folded up origami style.  Myself and my parents inexplicably folded these a couple of Christmases ago and I knew there would be a project worth saving them for eventually.  I ended up attaching these with colourful bobble headed pins since it added to the floral effect and injected even more colour...because MORE colour was obviously what this project needed?!  So I haven't busted out my glue gun yet, but I have another wee project lined up that hot glue will be essential for, so I'll still get my glue gun fix!  I suppose it took a while to origami the sweetie wrappers, but assembling the wreath was a quick, easy and satisfying job.
 Another quick and fun Christmas project this week was the making of these gift tags using festive rubber stamps that I treated myself to from a fancy stationery shop in Geneva - angels, stars, clouds and dots.  Can you call rubber stamping making?  I think you must be able to because it still gave me that "I made this" feeling of satisfaction.  And it made gift wrapping more fun!
Since I pursue crafty projects on a whim, I almost always end up working amid this sort of mess and mayhem.  I'm hoping to have a dedicated crafting corner set up in the not-too-distant future, so hopefully scenes like this will be a thing of the past.  Or at least confined to one out-of-the-way corner!
 Our Christmas decorating this year is pretty much confined to the living room, other than the front-door wreath and a couple of items in Dulcie's room.  Our fireplace (pardon the blurry photo) is looking quite sweet with our childhood Santa and reindeer decoration, some cards and a garland I made from our vintage baubles (too delicate for our tree with a toddler and two cats around) and some paper angels.
And our tree, as ever, fills me with delight.  I love unpacking all the decorations I've accumulated over the years and adding to the collection with a few new items.  This year it was particularly sweet to rediscover all the lovely decorations I was sent in last year's handmade decoration swap.  My new decorations this year included this fabulous Mexican pig from MEXTLIMEX on Etsy, which is so bright and cheerful and festive in its own weird way!  The mat under the tree is another new addition this year, a wee £1 bargain from the charity shop that is making me so very happy.  Best £1 ever spent?!
 Within five minutes of dusting off the tree, I had been accused of control freakery, but I ask you, would a control freak allow her three-year-old to hang two decorations on the same branch?!  Apparently this is Mummy Christmas tree and Baby Christmas tree, so they have to stay together :)  Dulcie is constantly moving all the decorations around, but the random nature of the tree and its decorations means that doesn't matter a jot.  And I quite like discovering a leopard-print bauble hanging on the phone when it rings etc!  Dulcie's love for the tree is IMMENSE and very sweet.  I'm not looking forward to her reaction when we take it down...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

christmas single 2014

Have I ever mentioned how lovely a dad Graham is?  He's thoroughly under-appreciated by Dulcie who rations his kisses to one a day...if he's lucky!  But he battles on and showers her with love and affection regardless.  One of the lovely things he does is to make Dulcie a Christmas single each year, recording a song at home and then getting it pressed onto vinyl for the jukebox.  This is the third time he's done it and I think it might be my favourite so far.  (I hope the Soundcloud thingummy works so you can hear it.)  This year Dulcie is riding a Chopper to victory in the Tour de France.  In previous years she's been a wrestler and a racing driver.  Graham always likes me to participate in some way too.  Usually I come close to being edited out and end up with a couple of backing warbles here and there, but this year I've been promoted to sharing lead vocals!  Oh, yeah!  I'm really not a singer, but I like featuring for posterity's sake and I turned out sounding better than I feared I might have.  I did have to slug a couple of amarettos to get in the zone, mind you, which might explain how I ended up looking like this...
"And tonight thank God it's them instead of YOOOOOOOSE!" etc :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

hul-ha (ha-ha) hoop

Dulcie is planning to ask Santa for a hula hoop this Christmas.  I can picture her delight when she receives it and her disappointment/lack of staying power when she discovers how tricky it is to keep the hoop up.  I've been doing a bit of Santa's research for him this morning, trying to figure out what the best size and weight of hula hoop would be for a petite three-year-old.  Any suggestions/insights gratefully received, by the way! I'm still not sure I've found what I was looking for, but I did find something I wasn't looking for - the world's biggest Hula Hoop crisp (allegedly!) available to buy from eBay now!  But hurry, the listing ends at 9.30 tonight and there are, er, no bids so far.  Ha-ha!

Here's the seller's description: "From a pack of salt and vinegar hula hoops, was discovered earlier today measured around 4 1/2 cm, will be good if your into collecting unusual foods. thanks for viewing."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

a christmas giraffe

 Since my friend and I had our Christmas meet-up on Friday, we decided to open our presents there and then to up the festive atmosphere.  It was a good decision, as Dulcie's face on opening her music box was a picture I wouldn't have wanted Bernie to miss!  You'd think she'd just been given the crown jewels!  So sweet :)  This giraffe was part of my handmade gift for baby Scarlett Rose, hence the rose-covered scarlet material.  See what I did there?  Scarlett seemed about as impressed with this as a six-month-old could be.  Hooray!
 This was the item I made from The St Michael Book Of Handicrafts For All The Family that I blogged about the other day.  Here's the giraffe along with her "ancestor" in the book.  I think it's a really nice design (I love the fact it's only got three legs) and it was easy to adapt slightly.  I used ribbons for the tail and made a mane from those ribbon tags that babies always love.  Other than that (and the omission of the eye because it was looking quite busy) I pretty much stuck to the original pattern.  Oh, and I made it a bit smaller than it was supposed to be so that I could fit the pattern on A4 paper.  That made it a nice size for a baby too.
And here's a shot of the ribbon mane in all its flowing glory!

I'm classing this giraffe as an out-and-out success.  It's not perfect, of course, but handmade items aren't meant to be, are they?  And, for once, I made something from my massive collection of vintage craft books, which I'm sure was my new year's resolution for 2012 or something.  Oh well, better late than never!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

real-life horaces and leos

 Yesterday, my friend Bernie and I had our official Christmas get-together with Dulcie and Bernie's youngest, six-month-old Scarlett.  We spent such a lovely afternoon in Glasgow city centre, soaking up the Christmas atmosphere while doing absolutely no Christmas shopping.  We ate pizza amid the lights and baubles in Princes Square, then went to Fraser's to enjoy more twinkly Christmasness from their always excellent decorations.  We followed this up with tea and cakes (in Cup) and a trip to George Square to see all the Christmas lights.  When we arrived there, Dulcie literally uttered the words, "I can't believe my eyes!"  She is so sweet and always impressed by the loveliest things.  As well as observing ice skating and people on the big chair-o-plane thingummy, Dulcie and I actually went on the merry-go-round since she was so excited to see a real-life "Horace".  We had to pay a rip-off £5.50 for the privilege, but it was worth it really - such a special few minutes!  I told Dulcie our horse was called Horace, but according to its nameplate it was actually Dancer.  This is an OK name for a merry-go-round horse, no?  But the horse next to us was genuinely called (wait for it) Darkie.  I was trying to communicate this to Bernie, who was waiting on the sidelines with Scarlett and the pram.  She responded, "Sparky, yes, that's nice."  I was shouting, "No, Darkie!"  Oh, dear...
Bernie, a born-and-bred Glaswegian, assured me it was both necessary and traditional for Glaswegian children to have their photo taken between the paws of the George Square lions.  Dulcie took some persuading, but once I acted out the part of a very friendly and non-threatening lion statue (honestly, my dramatic skills have increased 100-fold since I became a mother) she was good to go.  Classic photo and Dulcie was chuffed to bits.

If that afternoon didn't restore my Christmas mojo, I don't know what would.  Deck the halls etc! :)

Friday, December 12, 2014

'tis the season to make woolly wreaths

I'm not the only one whose been wrapping wreaths in wool, it seems.  Look at these beauties by Debbie Hill!  They're making me rethink my design.  I was so looking forward to using the Quality Street origami, but...ooh, woolly goodness.  I love the crocheted ring and the festive holly.  I'd never thought of crocheting round a polystyrene wreath.  Genius!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

hand making

I started off today being all productive, finishing off the handmade gift I posted about yesterday and decorating our fireplace (bauble mania!) while I waited for the charity shop to come and remove our old fridge freezer.  Then I lost all energy and motivation and lay on the couch watching a film (Paul - it was pretty bad) and deleting old programmes from our YouView Box.  It was then that I stumbled across last year's Great British Sewing Bee Christmas Special and decided to watch it. (It doesn't look like they're having one this year.  Boo hiss!)  Before I knew it, I found my hands busy wrapping a polystyrene ring in wool as I watched the lovely festive sewing.  I wasn't following any sort of plan really, but am quite liking the tropical look of this wreath so far and enjoyed the relatively mindless repetitiveness of the task.  And the pretty colours :) I'm hoping for some more downtime next week so that I can get out my glue gun and attach some origamied Quality Street wrappers that I've been saving for just such an opportunity since my family folded them in a weird group effort two Chistmases ago.  I'm not sure I'll be able to make the wreath look good, but I'm looking forward to playing with my glue gun nonetheless.

I've really been liking making more stuff lately.  I know it's been made possible by my being off work, home alone without a toddler demanding my attention, but I'm hoping I can sustain it to some degree once I'm back at work.  I think I'm going to make crafting my new year's resolution, maybe another craftathon like the one I attempted in 2011, but probably on a smaller scale.  I know there are more important things I should resolve to tackle (health and home) but I'm sure I'll do those anyway, so I think I'll use my official resolution on something more fun and more likely to slip under the radar otherwise, namely making.  I don't know yet exactly what form Craftathon 2015 will take, but I'm sure I'll have it figured out by the end of the month.  I already have one new-to-me craft lined up.  It's exciting!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

making like they did in them there olden days

Today I'm (hopefully!) making something from this vintage craft book.  The pattern and instructions are pretty minimal, I'm making a few twists and I don't think I've made anything from this book before, so I hope it turns out OK.  This won't be the first xmas making I've done this week, but since so many people spy on this blog, I can't share any of the finished products yet.  Oh well, something for you all to look forward to on Boxing Day!  Ha!

Monday, December 8, 2014

halloween 2014

Finally!  Here, for myself and for posterity, are the pictures from Halloween 2014.  This was the first year that Dulcie really got into it.  Fun times :)

You might remember that Dulcie and I were fighting over what she should wear.  I wanted to make a handmade cave girl costume, something she was quite keen on until she got pumpkins on the brain and was not to be budged.  A quick trip to Home Bargains later, the outfit was complete, or so I thought.  En route to the nursery party, Dulcie decided she'd rather be a pumpkin witch and nicked my hat (meaning I was just in everyday clothes with ridiculous stripy socks) to complete the look.
Here she is saying, "Ooooooooh!" which was almost all she said for pretty much all of October.  She spent a lot of time terrorising the cats too, chasing them while ooooohing at the top of her voice.
We spent the morning at the nursery party.  Once Dulcie got over the trauma of being taken to nursery on a non-nursery day (I had to drag her through the door kicking and screaming) she had a brilliant time.  Last year she was the first one out in every game.  This year she was a multiple winner and, in my biased opinion, busted some of the best dance moves too!  Here she is with her lovely nursery pal, Wolfie, who had come as Darth Vader.  Fortunately he'd taken his enormous mask off by this time and regained the power of sight.  I'd had to guide his hands throughout Pass The Pumpkin :)
We spent the afternoon at home making some Halloween treats.  Here's Dulcie doing her best Nosferatu impression with the Oreo spiders we made.  I got the idea from the BBC Good Food website.  You basically separate an Oreo, put some liquorice legs in the middle and stick it back together with some melted chocolate.  We also added some colourful icing eyes.  Not pictured, but we made worms in slime too, again from the BBC Good Food website.  We set sweetie worms in some lime jelly (leaving some of them dangling out the top of the cups) and crumbled chocolate biscuits on the top to create soil.  Both our snacks were a big hit at the party we went to in the evening.  The worms in slime even made my friend's 17-year-old son gag.  If that's not a Halloween success, I don't know what is!  Ha!
We spent the evening gatecrashing my friend's family Halloween.  Well, we were invited, to be honest, but we were the only non-blood relatives there so were honorary gatecrachers if you will.  We took the little ones out guising (just round a few houses) which Dulcie LOVED and spoke about for days and weeks afterwards.  Then we headed back to my friend's for pizza and homemade soup (so cosy) and, of course, dooking for apples.
Dulcie was a bit wary at first but ended up going back for a couple of shots.
With the help of a long stalk and my friend's lovely niece, she managed to bag a couple of apples :)

Aw, it was such a special day to spend with my little pumpkin. She had the outfit on from breakfast to bedtime and is still speaking about Halloween even now.  I know some people think Halloween is too much of an American import, but it's a great import if it is and I don't think we did anything that I wouldn't have done as a child in the early eighties.  Fun for everyone.  What's not to love?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

a lesson on positive thinking from a merry-go-round horse

Here's something cheerier - Horace The Horse by Burl Ives.  I loved this song when I was wee and have been singing it with Dulcie lately, ever since she called her toy horse Horace.  How much better Horace felt when he learned to view his situation from a different perspective.  There's something in that for sure...if your worst problem is that you're the last horse on the merry-go-round!

In other fun news (non-news) Dulcie made me laugh as soon as I woke up this morning.  We had a difficult day together on Friday and, as she dug her heels in and stamped her feet for the umpteenth time, I had to remind her that, although she might think she was the boss, I was the boss.  This morning, when she told me to get up and play with her, without thinking I responded, "OK, boss."  Dulcie replied, "No, Mummy.  You're the boss and I'm just the furniture."  Ha ha!  I swear I didn't mean to break her spirit completely :)

bah humbug


It's never a good sign when you find me blogging while the rest of my household is in bed.  It took two hours for Dulcie to settle down to sleep tonight.  They weren't wholly unenjoyable hours - we listened to some stories and snuggled up together and had a bit of a giggle - but I ended up falling asleep too, slept for an hour or so and then got up to brush my teeth, get changed, move to my own bed...  Two hours later, still exhausted but unable to sleep.  Grr.  Things I am blaming for this: I'm hungry (or was, I just had some toast) and I'm pissed off at the world and everyone in it.

I bloody love Christmas, especially the pre-Christmas build-up, but it seems like my heart has an uncanny knack of going wrong/stressing me out every November/December and ruining it all.  Plus it's much more horrible to be focussed on your inability to have children and your impending death (the norm for me) when everything about this season screams loudly about how different things are for other people.  And I know they're not different for everybody and that lots of people hate this time of year and always have, but for a bona fide Christmas lover like me, it's just one more good thing to be taken away and trampled on by heart failure.   And I'm pissed off about it.  So there.

I've been off work for a couple of weeks already, I think, and now my doctor has signed me off until the end of the year.  My Christmas "holidays" have kind of whimpered their way into existence and I find I've been on them without even realising.  And, of course, I'm not really on holiday, I'm at home feeling too ill to do pretty much anything most of the time (a lot of this due to the medication I've had to go back on that apparently makes me better but always makes me FEEL worse) but it's still making the season feel like it's started off as a bit of a damp squib.  And, you know, I'm actually managing to enjoy some things about my time off...and feel guilty for that too, naturally.  I've been reading and sewing and mooching about on the computer and watching childhood TV favourites and films about male strippers that I'd never normally watch...  And a lot of this is quintessentially Christmas, right?  But all with the undertone of death and doom and despondency (but you can't keep an alliterative genius down) which, after the last three Chistmases (Christmasses?) is beginning to feel quintessentially Christmas too.  And I hate that.

I've got my next round of tests the week before Christmas.  Some of them have been booked for months (I knew, as soon as I saw the date, that I wouldn't manage to hold it together and remain remotely festive) and others have been tacked on recently since I've been doing stupid things like not being able to climb a flight of stairs without my heart trying to escape through my ears.  And I guess the crappy timing of the tests could mean that all hope is not lost for the yuletide.  If my results turn out to be OK, I could be buoyed up enough to get through the season with a smile on my face and a small space in my brain.  But, barring a miracle (come on, just one tiny Christmas miracle, please?!) the results will never make me happy because even a significant improvement (unlikely) would still equate to a very bad situation overall. Looks like the positive-thinking ship has well and truly sailed for 2014, I'm afraid.

I don't think I realised how one bit of bad luck could ruin so many things that have nothing to do with it.  Bring on another season of having my mortality and futureless existence rubbed in my miserable face.  Bah humbug.

P.S. I'm trying to cheer up and I plan to keep trying!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

sewing stars

I've been doing quite a bit of Christmas-themed sewing while sat at home feeling like a one-foot-in-the-grave pensioner, some of which I can give you a sneak peek at and some of which I can't (yet!) for fear of ruining Christmas surprises.  I've been making these festive personalised stars for about the last decade for all the children I know, so I'm sure I won't really be ruining any surprises by sharing these now.  I made these six on Monday and am hoping I haven't forgotten anyone's children and that that's it for this year. I'm always a bit worried when I sew furiously that my hands will have a relapse, but the psychological damage these cause me is even worse than the physical pain, so I wanted to get them all done in a oner.  Phew!

You maybe can't quite see from these pictures, but the circles in the middle are filled with the recipients' names.  As I said a couple of posts ago, I always like to have something with my name on it and I think I loved it even more as a child.  I don't think any of the uniquely named children who will be getting these would find many high street items with their names on them, so hopefully that will make these that little bit more special still.  Dulcie, too, despite her name being traditional, won't find her name on many mass-produced items, but she has quite a few personalised items already that I made or that she was given by other creative friends.  I also bought a book (that she won't be old enough to appreciate for years yet) that my sister came across with a cat called Dulcie in it.  I figured that would be quite a rare thrill for Dulcie, but now I've stumbled across a whole series of books featuring a character called Dulcie Schwartz, an academic sleuth who's helped out by the ghost of her cat?  Let's hope she continues to love cats (and books about cats) as she gets older!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

and so on - official book challenge monthly check-in

So the time has come for the first official check-in for the Semi-Charmed Winter 2014 Book Challenge.  I thought I was doing quite well, but when I looked at the check-in post this morning, I discovered that loads of people had finished already and even read extra books on top of that in November.  What?!  Where do they find the time?  Although, perhaps, like Dwayne Hoover, they had attended evening classes in speed reading.

Ah well, despite my poor ranking in terms of points, the reading challenge continues to be successful for me in my eyes.  This morning, after a quick trip to the doctor's, I got my free coffee from Waitrose and finished Breakfast Of Champions while sitting on a bench in the glasshouse in the Botanic Gardens.  (Ah, the middle-class lifestyle...!)  I had never heard of this book until I googled books with Breakfast in their title in order to satisfy the meal category of the challenge.  Kurt Vonnegut was a gaping hole in my reading history, so I decided to give this a go and - wham, bam, thank you, ma'am - it's my first five-star rating on Goodreads so far this year!*  I loved it!  For a book with so many drawings of assholes (and I mean biological assholes, not metaphorical assholes) and so much detail about the size of everyone's penis, it was pretty deep :)

Now, I have to add a disclaimer here.  I'm not recommending Breakfast Of Champions to anyone.  Other people must like it because it averages 4.08 on Goodreads, but I can't think of anyone I know who would definitely like it and I'm sure it would really bug a lot of people.  I just wanted to say that I loved it.  You should make up your own mind about whether you would.  It's pretty postmodern, self-referencing, satirical.  If that's not your thing, it's probably not for you.  I know these things bore and irritate some readers.

Here follows, for anyone who's interested, my current points total in the book challenge.

20 points: Read a book with a direction in the title.  
3 stars overall, but the East stories were amazing!

15 points: Read a book written by a local author. 
3 stars - a bit dated and kitchen-sinky but an enjoyable read

25 points: Read a book from a genre you don't usually read.  
4 stars - I struggled to get into it, but once I did it was amazing!

30 points: Read two books with a different meal in each title. 
5 stars!  Whoop!
3 stars - an enjoyable and easy read, but a bit Columbo-esque for someone who's not that into crime fiction and definitely does not have the same comic charm as Alexander McCall Smith as the cover claims!

Previous points: 0
Points total: 90 (much more impressive than I'd been expecting!)

P.S. I've noticed the page numbers of my editions are not always tallying with those given here (hence The Cat Who Could Read Backwards fiasco!) but they have all been over 200 pages in my editions too.  I checked! :)

* Super-observant Goodreads stalkers (i.e. nobody) may have seen The Children Of Dynmouth flip between four and five stars a few times.  I'm so indecisive when it comes to rigid categorisation like this.  I wish Goodreads operated on a ten-star system.  I try not to worry about it, but it irks me that there's such a wide range, in my mind, within each star rating.  Three stars always seems mean, but I so rarely give out five stars...  Honestly, these things always pain me.  I know they shouldn't.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

foxy lady

It wasn't only the fancy independent retailers I was excited to visit when we were in Geneva recently, I also couldn't wait to visit C&A!  I was hoping for some nice baby gifts for friends and had no luck in that department, but did find this amazing fox scarf for Dulcie, who had been asking for a scarf for some time.  We had to buy the orange cardigan in order to get the scarf, but that turned out to be equally lovely, I think.  They looked extra lovely combined with the dress I made for Dulcie way back when.  It's getting pretty short these days, but still going strong!
 I could tell Dulcie really liked this outfit because, for once, she was happy to pose for some photos, despite her bleary eyes (and mine) from a sleepless night the night before.
She got so many admiring glances, smiles and compliments while we were out and about.
Plus the whole combo was perfect for dancing in :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

birthday/holiday 2014

Like last year, we spent the week of Dulcie's birthday visiting my sister and her family in France.  We didn't plan this year's trip to coincide with the birthday, but Graham and I had both booked annual leave to go to my cousin's wedding and then found out we wouldn't be getting invited, so we booked the flights to France... and then did get invited to the wedding but obviously couldn't go.  Aaargh!  Well, I think everyone was happy in the end.  Our flight left from Edinburgh at a very early hour.  We got the first direct bus from Glasgow, which meant getting up at 3am!  Here are Dulcie and I looking bleary eyed in Buchanan Street bus station in the wee small hours.  Dulcie coped pretty well with her mid-night waking and travelled all the way to France in her pyjamas.  I wish we could all get away with that!

She did conk out on the couch as soon as we arrived, but really, who could blame her?

As is traditional, we spent a fair amount of time in the charity shops, although this year we had to do it in instalments to fit in with the myriad of school pick-ups and drop-offs.  This picture of Dulcie trying on some of the second-hand wares has got to be one of my favourite pictures of her of all time.  We didn't buy much this year at all.  Dulcie got a musical crocodile toy for a franc and I bought a wooden penguin to hang on our Christmas tree and I think that was it.  I did see a vase I loved, but couldn't picture it making it home in our hand luggage so I left it behind.

We had a few other outings while we were there too.  We all went to the theatre to see a stage version of Plop The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark (a favourite book of ours when we were wee) which was really good and enjoyed by all of us, though Dulcie did say, "When is the film starting?" as soon as the play was over.  Philistine!  Graham and I also had a wee wander around Geneva one day while Dulcie stayed at home with her auntie.  We had a nice lunch, wandered around some swanky shops in the old town, visited a book market etc.

The best part of the holiday for Dulcie, though, was hanging out with her four French cousins and playing with all their toys!  She and Elsie (her closest cousin age-wise) got on really well this time.  You might remember last year's visit coincided with Dulcie's very brief hair-pulling obsession, which poor Elsie got the brunt of.  There was none of that this year, thank goodness.  Here they were busy playing with play dough when I asked them to look up so I could take their picture.  Never work with child models! :)

We spent lots of time at the nearby playpark too and Dulcie really enjoyed being an honorary big kid for a while.  Here she is larking around with Kim and Angus, her two elder French cousins.  

And with Ruth during a rare break from riding her imaginary horse!  Dulcie had so much fun with all her cousins that I hardly saw her really and got a nice break and plenty of time to read and sleep.  Lovely.

Of course, the main event of the trip was Dulcie's birthday.  Here is the cake I made her, Billy Goats Gruff themed, of course!  I realise it doesn't exactly look professional and that Mary Berry wouldn't approve of my shop-bought goats and Dairy Milk bridge, but I ended up being rather proud of it and was chuffed beyond words when Dulcie declared it was the best thing about her whole birthday.  Aw!

Others were less complimentary.  An electrician who was doing some work in my sister's house asked if the icing was meant to be that colour and my nephew told me it was nice but that he wouldn't pay money for it in a shop.  Ha!
Once Dulcie had blown out the candle, her cousins used the cake to reenact the story...

...and once we'd all had a slice, the goats went mad and trampled the cake and had much icing licked from their hooves!

The very green fondant-icing troll was chewed up and spat out with great gusto.

We managed to keep the presents quite low key this year (not wanting to undo all the recent clearing out) but Dulcie really loved everything she received, maybe because there wasn't too much of it.

And, like last year, my sister prepared an amazing birthday feast.  Here's the whole party (minus me) enjoying it :)

All in all, a lovely holiday and a great birthday.  Can you believe Dulcie is three already?!  What a gal.

people who send mail for no good reason

That title sounds like a gripe, doesn't it?  No!  There are very few things in life that I love more than receiving surprise packages in the post and I've had a couple of beauties lately.  My work friend Emma kept forgetting to bring this book to work to give to me, so decided to post it instead.  I was very glad she did!  It's always exciting to find something with your name on it and this cover is so sweetly vintage.  I love it.  If I was a little braver I might turn this into a key holder, but I will probably add it to my lovely old book selection instead.
 Last week I received possibly the most exciting surprise package of all time.  My sister sent me something I'd been searching for for years - Jim Henson's The StoryTeller on a DVD that actually plays on my DVD player!  I really did squeal when I tore open the jiffy bag and saw this inside.  The timing was very good too since I've been off work feeling sorry for myself.  This has been great to keep me on the couch when I've been tempted to hoover or something crazy like that!  Ha!  I've watched five episodes so far and, despite looking understandably dated in picture quality/special effects, they are just as fantastic as I remembered.  Even my two favourite episodes (Hans My Hedgehog and The Soldier And Death) did not disappoint.  Hard to believe, but I think The Soldier And Death was EVEN BETTER than I had remembered and I had remembered it as the best thing I'd ever seen on TV.  Watching these, I can see why I grew up to love Hammer House Of Horror et al.
And not so unexpected or without reason but equally great, the traditional box of advent parcels, from my sister again.  I opened the first one this morning.  Ooh, I love this time of year.  My favourite thing about Christmas is the build-up and the advent calendar is a big part of that.  Kerry always does such a good presentation job, much better than I do in my advent calendar to her.  This year I recycled the sweet paper bags that my gifts from her came in last year.  Shoddy!  (But environmentally sound.)

Mail!  Yay!  I even get a bit excited when Amazon parcels and the like that I've ordered myself arrive.  I was sorely tempted to do another handmade Christmas decoration swap this year, but couldn't handle the feeling of harassing busy people again, so I resisted.  Maybe next year?