Thursday, 31 December 2009

Chasing My Tail (if I had one)!

Well, it's been quite a day (again!). 

But first, I stumbled on this lovely Mini-Book project and a Giveaway of a duplicate mini-book.  It's on Tracie's blog and is made with the Jolly By Golly range (Cosmo Cricket's fabulous offering for this winter).  Go and take a look - but be quick if you want to enter the giveaway - it ends at midnight GMT - you have less than 3 hours!!

* * *

So, back to my day... I'm afraid I might be boring you with recent whinges about how hectic it's all been.  Especially as I know there are people who cope with so much more than I have to manage, and they don't get all muddled up and worn out like I do. But, then we are all different.  I am still feeling the effects of that fall - it's now been 14 months - and I think that, just now, I am what my mother always calls "A bit run down".  I'm so tired and don't seem to remember anything if I don't write it down immediately (well, not without a big effort anyway). 

So, Mr.G (or D or DH or Himself, or Sir), slept badly because of his bad cold.  He had one of those horrible nights when you can't breathe very well and keep tossing and turning.  Of course I felt sympathetic, but he woke me up and at 5am I had so much trouble getting back to sleep.  The result was that I've been even more dozy today than yesterday (and that is saying something!).  I need to have an early night, New Year or no New Year!

So, I did manage to get to the garage okay, to have the car serviced.  No snow - hooray!  That was okay, as  I had to sit and wait, which gave me the chance to relax a little.  However, it cost about twice what I expected (just for an annual service), and when I asked what it would cost to repair the dent in my back wing (it's a long story... I reversed into "nothing" - honestly, when I looked there was nothing there - so puzzling) - anyway, it would cost £500, so the dent will just have to stay there!

I managed to remember to go to Halfords, to swap the car cover I bought on Tuesday.  I got a size Medium, not realising that my car is much taller than average (it's a Skoda Roomster, which is like a mini-MPV), so it's not really "medium" in size.  I swapped it for a Large cover - different design, not so nice, cost £3 more... hmm.  Got it home, went to put it on the car. Big fight to get it over the top as the car is taller than me. Finally got it in place... Too short. Won't cover the back window.  So, do I keep it - it does cover the front windscreen and the sides - or return it again, and try something else?

* * *

Next hassle... D was still not very well, so the house was in the same mess as when I rushed out after breakfast.  Made him and J. their lunch and managed to find myself something too.  Decided I must organise the weekend.  We were due to go to Cheltenham on Saturday, to see my best friend and her children.  However, the kids were going to be with their dad (divorce in progress... no more needs to be said).  We arranged yesterday, that we'd go over on Sunday instead, so we would see the children on Sunday night and Monday.  Of course, I forgot to check my diary/calender.  I have stuff to do on Monday.  I can't put it off because... I have stuff to do on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday... Here we go again!

So, I had to call her and apologise - could we swap back to Saturday, please?  But she had been offered a ticket to go and see the Rugby.  As we'd changed our arrangements, she said yes, so now won't be home til late on Saturday evening. I couldn't ask her to cancel that, could I, so we changed our weekend to 23rd January instead. 

And of course, I double booked that too - because I hadn't kept the calender up to date:-

* * * 

On Friday 22nd January (this is Good News by the way, just in case you're getting bored), I am going to Knuston Hall, in Irchester (Northamptonshire), to stay the weekend and take two courses.  On Friday I will do a Bookbinding course, then on Saturday/Sunday, it's Printmaking.

I am so looking forward to this!  This was part of my recent decision in September -New Year Resolution - to Make More Of My Talents - well, it was a new academic year, you see.  My year does really start in September - always has. I decided I must find a bookbinding course and that I would try some printmaking again, after not doing any since art college a century ago. I was lucky enough to stumble on the brochure for Knuston Hall, as the receptionist at my osteopath has a daughter that works there.  I never even knew it existed and it's only up the road! 

* * *

So, a nice digression, but back to the double-booking... I have had to text her an apology and suggest February instead.  Still waiting for the reply.  She is very forgiving, so I'm sure it will be fine, but I feel such a twit! I daresay she'll be too kind to tell me that I am, but she would agree with me lol!

I have now got my diary up to date, also my calender to match.  I think I have everything on it, except the start date for J's Saturday morning club, as he gave the brochure to his friend.  I will cope...

All these small things just wear me out. I had all kinds of other little things to sort out today as well and did manage to do them, including a walk with J. to the Post Office, to post a Very Important Parcel!  So that was another positive thing about the day - I sent off my Submission to S.I. magazine. 

* * *

New Project

And this evening I have started my new Scrapping Project.  You may have read one of my comments about our new bedroom extension, which we had built earlier in the year. It's been the reason for me getting my own work space, in J's old bedroom. 

I have printed off a series of photos that I took, between March 17th, when the builder arrived and July 13th, when we were finally "moved in" and spent our first night in our lovely new room.  I plan to make an album with them.  Here are just a few -

Day One - March 17th - Single Storey Kitchen

May 11th - New Bedroom and Bathroom windows go in

What it used to be like

July 2009 - Now it's 2-storeys high

July 13th 2009 - Our Brand New Bedroom

... and our lovely new Shower Room

I think the album will be house-shaped and have been making plans in my head about how to do it.  I now think it will be a double-bound album. 
On the Left will be a full-width set of divider-pages, of stiff card, with the Months written on them.  Then between these, on the left, I will have journalling pages, to correspond with the photograph layout pages on the right. 
These Right side pages will be bound seperately, on the right side, so the whole thing opens in two directions. 
I hope that makes sense... Anyway, I'm a bit excited about it.  I plan to make the book the same shape as our house, with the Main part of the house on the Left (as it is in real life) and the Extension on the Right. 
I think the main cover will have a large photo of the whole house, taken from the front. 

It's going to be fun!  I plan to make the pages first, then do the binding after (I may know someone with one of those binding machines - at our Scrap Club - in which case I will ask to borrow it.  Otherwise, I'll use book rings, or hand stitching, or old-fashioned three-part bindings... we shall see.)

* * *

So, maybe today wasn't so bad. It's just frustrating to be so tired and keep making mistakes, getting muddled and forgetting stuff.

* * *

New Year's Resolutions (the other new year this time!): 

Take Fish-oil supplements, to improve my memory!
Start my Pilates Exercise Plan, to strengthen my back. 
Start some Yoga as well, to relax. 
Start saying "No"! when I need to.

Which, I suppose, all come under the title "Look After Myself".

So that's two resolutions on the go now - September's was "Make More of My Talents and Sieze Opportunities".  January's is "Look After Myself".

I can do that.... I think!

* * *

So, in advance of the Twelve O'Clock Midnight Chimes...

I wish you all a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Goodnight All!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Yay! and Yippee!


A couple of weeks ago, Shimelle put out a Page Call for a Project she was working on.  I responded and then submitted several of my layouts, that I thought might fit in the categories she was trying to fill.

Today I had a request  to send one of my layouts in to Scrapbook Inspirations, for publication in a new Book, to be released in March 2010!! They want my layout! I can't post a picture of it here though - not until after May 1st!!  I'm sure I can tell you it was a special layout I did for J's birthday this year and that I'm so pleased they like it!


Today's been a bit odd.. D. has a bad cold, with sore head, so he stayed in bed most of the day.  I had jobs to get on with, so it wasn't a problem for me, though I felt sorry that he is not well.  He's no trouble when he's ill, as he prefers to be left alone most of the time, to get better in his own time.  He doesn't do that "I've got flu" thing, nor drape himself alll over the furniture declaring that he's about to die. He just quietly gets on with getting better, takes his medicine and occasionally asks for a cup of tea.  I've learned to let him alone, as it seems to upset him if I fuss.  So I just did my cleaning (wow, exciting!) and tried to write my submission notes for Shimelle. 

That wasn't so easy.  After a good bit of work, writing the 150-word Notes and the Supply List, I tried to send my e-mail... my e-mail session timed me out and I lost it all! It had taken me about an hour to sort out the supply list, write and edit the Notes etc.  Hisssss! I wasn't concentrating because the boys had been playing a lan-game of some battle on their pc's (did I mention that before? D wasn't too unwell to play games anyway) and J. was yelling and jumping up & down in the office next door to my workroom.  Despite being asked to be quite (lots of times) and even apologising, this racket went on for so long I gave up and went downstairs to concoct something evil and strong for D's tea, to scare away the cold germs. 

We had curry for tea (that's the last of the turkey - yes!!).  I hope it does the trick!  J is now in bed, sleeping peacefully - peace for me too!

I re-did my submission in no-time flat and have been having fun reading all the blog updates.

Not such a bad day really. 

Now I'm hoping it won't snow tonight. I had to cancel last week's car service, due to snow and ice. I re-booked it for tomorrow morning. I need to get the car done tomorrow as I have to drive to Cheltenham on Sunday, to visit my very best girlfriend from school.  The car feels a bit iffy - I think the tracking is messed up. It has to get to the garage in the morning. No snow! (please?).

So, here's my layout, all packaged and waiting to be addressed and posted in the morning. 

Good night All!

Monday, 28 December 2009

Monkey Madness!

Good Evening, all Friends!

Well, Abi of Creating Paper Dreams asked how I made a Sock Monkey, as she has a bit of a fondness for Monkeys (a Monkey Mania perhaps).  She received a Knit-A-Monkey kit for Christmas, but, as if that's not enough, she fancies making a sock version too! 

So, this post is specially for Abi, but anyone else is welcome!

These are our Sock Monkeys

One is made from a pair of ordinary, Adult-sized Socks.  His name is "Mon" (as in Mon-key - very original!).
The other was created from a pair of over-the-knee-stockings, hence the looong body and legs! He is called "Bro", because he's brother to Mon.
These pets live on J's bed. I have to say goodnight to them every night. J. has lent them to me for one day only, so please consider yourselves honoured!

As you can see, Sock animals can be friendly and fun pets. I've made several in the last few months, a number of which have ended up in my shop.  They sell amazingly well.  My very favourite was the Punk Zebra (see earlier posts!), which I made in October, while on holiday. 

So, for those who can see the appeal, here is a little tutorial about Sock Monkeys.


Please excuse the hand-drawn diagrams. I hope they are clear. I didn't have time today, to make and photograph a monkey step-by-step:

You will need:

1 Pair of Socks.  For the tutorial, I am showing normal Adult-sized short socks, which would produce a pet like our friend Mon (above).

Polyester Toy Stuffing - available from sewing and craft shops, Dunelm Mills and some toy shops. Use this if you can, as it's specially made to be safe for toys.

A Sharp pair of Fabric Scissors

A Needle and Sewing Thread in a matching colour and also contrasting thread or pins, for tacking/basting.

A Marking Pen or chalk pencil.

Embroidery Thread/Floss and/or Buttons for decoration.


Turn Sock 1 inside out.
Cut through the centre of the sock, from the ankle, to just above the heel, to make the Legs. 
Stitch each Foot and Leg, as shown (red dots).
Leave a space in the middle, to allow you to turn the sock right-way out.


Stuff the main part of the sock, as far as the heel, to form the Head and Body.  The sock heel will be the monkey's bottom.
Use a nicely formed sausage of stuffing, if possible, that fills the body nicely and is smooth and firm.  The stuffing will settle as the monkey is handled - you don't want him to go all squashy!


Stuff the Legs with smaller pieces of filling, using a rounded stick, or spoon handle to push it in well. Make sure it's smooth and firm.
Stitch the gap to close - use a slip-stitch for invisibility.

4)  Roll the body and legs between the palms of your hands, to make the stuffing smooth and even.


Cut the Toe end from Sock 2.
Stuff with a smooth ball of filling and stitch closed, to make the monkey's Face.
Use a gathering stitch to pull it closed at the back.


Cut the Top off Sock 2,  just above the Heel.
Cut into 2 Arms and stitch Hands and arms, as shown.
Turn right-way out and fill with small pieces of stuffing, pushing them in well.
Roll between your palms, to smooth and firm the arms. Add more filling if necessary.


Cut two curved pieces on a fold, as shown. 
Stitch to make the Ears.
Turn right-side out and add stuffing to give shape.
The ears don't need to be too firm.
If you want, you can stitch the middles, or round the rims, to make the ears more shaped and realistic. (This is why each sock pet is so individual!)


Assemble the Monkey.

Attach the Face/Nose with neat, small stitching all round, so it sits nicely.
Attach the ears with slip-stitching. Make sure they are level.

Decide where the shoulders should be and attach each arm, again making sure they are level.
Pay attention to placing of seams - both arm seams should be on the inside.
If necessary, work the stuffing around a little, to give the arms a more natural shape. You may want them to curve a little, to make the monkey look more huggable.

Check that the monkey can sit up on his bottom.  If not, work the stuffing a little until he can.  If necessary, undo the stitching and add or remove a little stuffing, to make the monkey sit up correctly - he won't sit if he's too fat!  Some people give their monkey a little round tummy - others like him to be lean & mean! But he does need a rounded bottom.

Finally, stitch his face with embroidery thread/floss.

Use Chain Stitch, Back Stitch, or Stem Stitch, to give him a smiley, curved mouth (ignore the evil leer on my diagram, it didn't quite turn out as I'd hoped!)

Use French or Bullion Knots, or else buttons, to give him monkey-style eyes (Mon and Bro' have Bullion-knot eyes).  You could also use circles of felt, with buttons or more felt on top, or special glass toy-eyes from the craft shop (which you may need to attach at Step 2, before you add stuffing to his body).  You could even give your monkey eyebrows and/or lashes.  This helps to add character and can also make it clearer if you are making a girl-monkey (think mascara).

Make a collar, bow, tie or scarf for your monkey.  You can use a circle cut from left-over sock, a ribbon, or else crochet or knit him something special.  Mon has a sock-circle collar.  Bro' thinks these are un-cool and won't wear his! 

You could even make clothes for your new friend - a waistcoat always looks very smart and can be made easily from 1 large and 2 small rectangles, stitched at the sides and shoulders, with arm-holes.  But you can be as simple, or as fancy as you wish - it's your monkey!

Give him a good hug, to try him out.  Remember to take his photo and post it on your blog (or a link on mine) for me to see!

If you can bear to part with him, give him to your favourite Monkey-Fan!

A Larger Monkey

Bro' is a large Monkey.  He was made from very long socks. 

The blue bit behind his arms is where the Heel was stitched together, to make a longer body.  His head is still made from the toe-part of the sock and his legs are cut in the leg-part of the socks, with the cuffs as feet, making them very long indeed. 

Bro' therefore doesn't have a bottom, like Mon. He just has one long body and sits at the tops of his legs. 
His arms were cut from Sock 2, as was his face, just as in the instructions above.  The only real difference is the sewing up of the heel on Sock 1 (and the need for a very long stick to push in the stuffing!).

On holiday in the Summer, we stayed in a Youth Hostel.  The assistant warden saw Mon and brought her Sock Monkey to meet him.  He was HUGE! She had made him from a pair of long woollen Ski Socks.  He was a very beautiful monkey, as the socks were grey wool, with a Fair-Isle/ Norwegian type of design, giving him a ready-made sweater.  His head wore a red cap, from the red toes (and guess where else was also red!). He had red hands and feet too.  She had made him a red scarf and he was lovely.  We were inspired to create Bro' from this pair of long socks that we found in a shop one day.

So, I hope you've enjoyed my little Tutorial, complete with sketches.  Maybe you will make your own Monkey.  The techniques used for the monkey can be adapted to create other creatures too.  A Teddy Bear is super-easy to adapt from these instructions. Make his limbs a bit shorter and fatter, give him a round tummy and round ears, then stitch a classic upside-down-"Y" for his mouth and a nice triangle nose - voila! One Teddy.  I also used a similar design to make a leopard (see my Sock Pet posts from October/ November, or the Sold section of my Etsy shop!).  I gave the leopard thinner arms, so I could also make him a nice long tail.  You could make a cat, a bear, even a rabbit if you think it through (short arms and legs, long ears...).

Happy Sock-Pet Making!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas News and A Restful Day at Home

Hello All Friends!

Well, I do hope everyone had a peaceful, enjoyable and fun Christmas.  It was mad and noisy here, but we all had fun.

Santa Came and left Presents...

Presents from Mum and Dad...

My Baby Great-Niece...

My Nephew... 
My Niece and her Grandma...

Me and D. smiling...

Four Generations together...
The Christmas Cake....

My Niece C. and her BF...
My Nieces and Nephew....

A Baby Angel

That all just about sums up our Christmas.  A few photos not there that should be, but I'm not the best at keeping my camera handy and others didn't manage to get those shots either... ah, well.

Today we are at home, just us three, having a quiet day.  At least, mine is pretty quiet - I'm upstairs in my room, with my PC and my crafting stuff. 

This is what the Boys are doing...

The Battle was planned weeks ago. They both have their whole armies out and J. has promised to beat his dad. 
I've left them to it, but Sherlock is desperate to join in and keeps getting thrown out, for sitting in the middle of the action!
I'm going to console myself with a little quiet scrapping, as I haven't had time for it for weeks.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Good Morning Blog World! Merry Christmas to you all, and to your families and loved ones!

We're busy here. Santa came and brought presents for J.  We opened our gifts from each other. Now D. is getting the Christmas food sorted out and I'm supposed to be getting dressed (hee hee).  The Crowd will arrive at around 12pm, so I suppose I should get on with it. There's Work to be Done - even on Christmas Morning!

Love to all!


Thursday, 24 December 2009


I wanted to add a nice Christmassy feel to my blog, by having a carol playing for my visitors.

But I can't find a gadget that will let me do this.

Can anyone explain how it is done, please?

It's Official!

Santa is in Australia! It's official, because I saw it just now on NORAD's Santa Tracker!

Right at this moment, he's in Alice Springs.  He's already been to Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.. he's on the way to Darwin in 2 minutes time.

It's Official - Santa's on his way! 

Ho, ho, ho... Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


Today was all about the Party! Each year, for about the last 5 or 6 years, J has had a few friends round in the run-up to Christmas, to enjoy themselves playing games and eating nice things.  We make it into a small party, with decorations, crackers and party table-ware, party gift-bags etc.  It's fun and we all enjoy it. 

D. had to work today, so there was just me & J.  However, in the past year/18 months, J has grown up soo much.  He was quite helpful today, doing jobs for me, so the place was (relatively) clean & tidy, the table was set and the food mostly ready by 3pm, when everyone was due.  This year there were only 3 friends here, as the other two he invited were visiting relatives, but they are his best friends and they all get on very well together.

Here are the four of them, posing for me at tea-time.

They had a great time, playing Twister before tea.

B. was the "Caller" at this point.

J. resting (excuse the pinkiness, it's the best I could do).

All in all, I think we had a good time.  They had pizza and nice bread rolls, with cold meat, cheese, salad etc, then a selection of nice little cakes & biscuits, with a great little chocolate fondue that we bought the other day, specially for the party. It was fun - I made the fondue with a mix of dark & milk chocolate, plus a little cream, then stood it on a big plate, with an assortment of dippy items - grapes, strawberries, tangerine segments, bits of mango, "zoo" biscuits and some great little almond shortbread curls that one of the mums made for us.  It was definitely a success - and strawberries dipped in chocolate are my new favourite!

Once they had eaten all they could, we had a "relaxing" game of pass-the-parcel - except that nothing is relaxing with a group of 11 & 12-year-olds!  Lots of daft fun, forfeits and jokes. 

Then we played "What Am I?", which involves someone sitting on the bean bag, with a hat on.  A piece of paper is stuck to the hat, which has the name of an object, person or animal. The person who's "it" has to ask questions, to try and work out who or what they are.  I made up a batch of paper labels this morning, with stuff like "squirrel", "aeroplane", "smelly sock", "toilet", "Sherlock the cat", "a dog's collar", etc etc.  Some were mundane and others were silly. This game is very popular with J and his friends. They beg to play it now!

Then they tried Charades, but they were tired and excited, so it didn't go so well. The Wii was the next thing they chose, which was much more successful.  B. and E. went home at 6:30, but G's mum sent a message to say she'd be over a bit late. She knows I don't mind, so J. and G. carried on playing various Wii games, while D arrived and had a coffee with me.  It was just after 8pm when they went home. J was pretty much ready to crawl into his bed by then (I wasn't far off it myself)!

It was a good day and I have had fun. They're a great bunch of children and it's so nice that they're still friends. J. has a group of friends, who are pretty evenly split between boys and girls. I'm happy for it to stay that way (though I daresay there will be times when they are less close, as they grow and realise they are boys or girls!). 

I was amazed today, to see how tall they have all become over the last year. They have all grown a good foot in height! They were so long and leggy, playing Twister!  They're all going to be taller than me very soon (in fact, G and E may be already).

It's time I found Sherlock and persuaded him that it's bed time... I need my pillow!

G'night all!  Christmas Eve tomorrow (or now if you're Amy and co!).

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


Well, today we did get one of our parcel deliveries - the party presents arrived in a nice big box (much bigger than needed, but that was fun)!  Also a small present arrived for J. and two t-shirts that I forgot I had ordered for my niece's husband and my other niece's b.f.  Now we only need J's "Dad present" and all is set!

Walked to post office in the village just before lunch.  The day was much milder than yesterday and the snow showed signs of melting.  We wore walking boots anyway, as it was very slippy underfoot. I didn't want another fall-induced injury thanks! Posted our Important Letters and bought some mistletoe for over the fireplace.

On our return I started to make some sandwiches for lunch, but was very distracted by this:

This is Mrs Yaffle, who dropped into our garden for a snack!

She is a Green Woodpecker - the largest of the British Woodpeckers.  She must have been very hungry, as she dug a hole in the lawn - probably after insects or perhaps ants. 

The photos are not very good, as my camera is only a snapshot type.  I was so lucky to get any pictures at all really. I spent 20 minutes standing at my open bedroom window, with the camera poised, taking as many shots as I could. I had to be patient, as she flew off and came back several times, when the garden birds decided they had seen me moving. 

Green Woodpeckers are not that unusual in countryside gardens, but they are a bit rare in gardens that are in a more built-up area, like ours.  She must have flown over from one of the small copses or woods round the edge of the village. She certainly was lovely and I felt very privileged to see her! 

This is a pair of Goldfinches, who dropped in to eat seeds off the garden shrubs.  My patient waiting today certainly paid off. I saw about 12 different types of birds in the garden during that 20 minutes. They were all getting on with eating as much as possible. It was a lovely thing to see them all.

We do get a few unusual birds in the garden from time to time.  There have been a few Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, plenty of fnches etc, also a Treecreeper, going round our willow tree, looking for insects.  At our last house we had (as occasional visitors) Kestrels, Skylarks, Willow Tits, Grey Wagtails (which are, in fact, largely yellow!), Swallows, Swifts and House Martins, Fieldfares, Waxwings and also something we think was a Harrier of some kind, or perhaps a Red Kite.  Our garden backed onto open fields, which led down to the river, so we had a lovely view and very interesting birdlife. Where we are now is more urban, even though it's a village, so the birds are mainly "garden birds", but now and then we get the odd bonus visitor (like the heron who ate all our goldfish!).

While we had our lunch, I put the first part of "The Box of Delights" in the video player.  It is really starting to feel like Christmas Time!


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