Thursday, 28 August 2008

Girl monkey's birthday

Girl monkey is now 6 going on 16. She had a lovely pre-party, next week will be the big one with her favorite circus entertainer. We had cakes and more cakes, decorated by both monkeys, and a last minute pinata. Luckily we had a box and plenty of things to stuff it with so we wrapped it in a nice paper and the little ones had fun drawing and gluing the decorations on, the best part of course was when it got all smashed and the treasure came out. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

OOps and then there was Parma

I did want to mention Parma not because of these delicious hams, or the cheese but

because of the wonderful presentation of the ice creams. There was one little shop right in the historical centre where they had a fabulous range of tastes. They did not just scoop them out but with a spoon they added 'petals' in the chosen flavours to create these lovely flower shapes, they were almost  too beautiful to eat.

Back home I got my Italian cookery books out and made this delicious recipe, similar to coq au vin with rosemary picked in Gargnano, on Lake Garda. I've got enough to use for another dish. Isn't it great to ramble, especially on holiday?

Busy Betsy is back from Italia

It's been a while but we have just come back from a fabulous holiday in Italy. It was just wonderful, very relaxing, great weather, good company, fabulous food, totally away from  the last few dreary weeks here. I could write essays about the fabulous food (gnocchi in saffron sauce in a basket from melted cheese was the best!) the great sites, boat trips, etc but I will leave you with just a few impressions.....

We went to a wonderful wedding in Castellina in Chianti, Tuscany where we stayed in a lovely mansion called Casalecchi. The cake brought over from Holland is being assembled ....

In Riva did they not only have parking spaces for drivers with children but also just for women! No comment.....

Lake Garda was just beautiful

View from our hotel room in Pisa, we couldn't get any closer to the tower. I could certainly recommend Hotel Ariston.

I loved the green apple juice in Pisa, the gecko's on the wall at dinner time and the watch sellers calling out 'Playboy' to Mr Betsy just made me laugh. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Project of the day

I don't really like clutter even though I live my life in organised chaos and I certainly do not like throwing excess packaging in the bin. But as instructed by FLYlady recently I had to sort out my kitchen cabinets and I came across a few containers at the back of one of them. Rather then sending them to the tip I got myself some wallpaper, PVA glue and some ricrac and made a very useful pencil pot and two pretty containers. I covered the top with wall paper too. For the sides I cut little strips that overlap. They look very pretty on my new bookcase!

Monday, 11 August 2008

Busy Betsy's mountain of paperwork

Here I am, trying to recap the wonderful times of the third week of the holidays and all I can think about is a mountain of paperwork to sort out, boring admin, domestic issues, enough to make me want to disappear into a big hole but thank goodness the monkeys keep me on my positive toes. Mind you the week started great with a fun dinner at friends, the kids played outside till late and the grown ups opened too many bottles of wine but it is the holidays after all. The rest of the week was a bit of a blur but then this weekend the Family Friendly Film Festival started in Manchester and we have been thoroughly enjoying it so far. 

Yesterday we went to the Stockport Plaza for their Pirate day. Now I have only very recently discovered Stockport after having lived in Manchester for nearly 4 1/2 years and I absolutely love it!! Coming to the Plaza only made me love this place even more. This cinema was first opened in 1932 and has since the late 90's been restored to original glory. The staff were just fabulous. It felt like walking into a family organisation, everyone was so friendly and all dressed up. The monkeys enjoyed all the family friendly activities, all the pirates everywhere and thought the films shown (Peter Pan and the Princess Bride) wonderful. Boy monkey and I could have done without the last film though. I was particularly impressed with the live music. The organists played classic film tunes from the heart on the Comptan Organ. The Plaza is one of the very few cinemas in the UK that still retains the original organ and this one survived intact and is in full working order. It is just magnificent. It even rises out of the floor. The colours of the organ and on the ceiling changed and I couldn't stop watching. The photograph doesn't do it justice but it is the best I could do.

Today we went to the next event of the festival which took place at Urbis. Plenty of craft activities and swinging in the Baby Loves Disco tent. What a great concept. I think this was more for the parents, well at least I really enjoyed myself swinging my hips to old and new classics. 
It was great to revisit Urbis as well. The Manga exhibition couldn't get me too excited but I loved the Urban Gardening exhibition. Apart from this rather dull shot I wasn't able to take any more decent pictures as boy monkey kept disappearing in the shed and girl monkey wanted to discover all the other urban gardens on her own, panic for Busy Betsy! We couldn't visit the Matthew Williams show as they were filming but hopefully we will make another trip soon. 

I know this week will be another low one on the craft front not least because we need to prepare for our holiday, YIPPEEEEE so I am pleased that this week I have at least started this :

And finished this :

I do hope my neighbours do not want it back!

My utility room is now the proud place of my new bookcase that will be filled soon with all my craft books and baskets for my arts and crafts classes that I will start in September. I really am very happy with this find

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Day 13 A craft day

Smoothie of the day :
Today's breakfast treat was made with 
- a handful of strawberries
- 2 large ripe pears
- a large glass of fresh cloudy apple juice

Girl monkey wanted a craft day today. As I needed some time to sort out the house before Mr Betsy got back we decided to make some mosaics. The monkeys laid down on a piece of pattern paper and amongst lots of giggles I traced them. They then sat down with a pile of magazines, various coloured and patterned tissue paper, fabric, stickers and glue and cut and tore out bits to stick onto their profiles. Boy monkey's is predominantly blue although he chose a lovely pink gift wrap for his legs. I never said to him that blue was for boys and pink for girls but somehow this was programmed into his mind before birth. From the moment he could talk he said that he loved blue, so let him have his favourite colour. 

These photographs aren't great but it gives some idea of what when on this morning .

They chose particular colours to stick on and the cutting and tearing kept them occupied for quite some time that we haven't finished them yet. For the moment we hung them on the wall in the kitchen. I think these mosaic figures would look great plastered all over the walls in the hall way. 

I finished the Unicorn bag I started last night. I certainly bent the rules sewing this one! My sewing machine broke down so I am hand stitching everything. It gives me great pleasure but a mitered corner doesn't look as neat so I decided to leave the end of the bias binding hanging on the corners and I tied them together. It looks really cute and saved me a lot of hassle!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Day 12 Charlie & Lola

Another museum and another trip on the bus! Today we went to the Manchester Art Gallery to visit the Charlie and Lola exhibition. This is not the official name, I believe it was called Green drops and Moonsquirters and it was about all of Lauren Child's work not just Charlie and Lola but it was FANTASTIC! It was very busy when we got there, all these efficient parents trying to be on time to do all the activities but it got better later on. There was a lot to do, we did badge making and book making. Girl monkey started her 'First book of shapes' and boy monkey just glued, cut and used anything that he liked, especially all things blue.

The first thing we did though was enter Charlie and Lola's kitchen. A studio covered in paper and decorated with fridges, pots, pans, stove, etc all drawn by visitors to the exhibition and we were asked to add some more fruit and veg and we were given some paper clothes to decorate and hang on the washing line. It was wonderful to be in a room where you could draw on all the surfaces. I felt like I was Alice in Wonderland!

Further in the exhibition were rooms set up with a play kitchen, magnetic Charlie and Lola clothes, dressing up clothes and scenes and drawings from other Lauren Child books (Princess and the Pea below). We had a great time and might go back on a day when there are no craft activities as it was just a little too crowded.

When we got home I had a wonderful surprise, my artist friend dropped off this fabulous work of art that I had wanted on my walls for 4 1/2 years! It is the work by girl monkey done at 15 months of age, inspired by Sam Francis, finally framed. I just love it! I hope it is going to be a nice surprise for Mr Betsy when he comes home tomorrow.

Last but not least I started a little project for tonight. I refurbished another Unicorn bag. This one was worn all along the gusset (fabulous word). It is nearly finished so I will quickly get these last stitches done before I fall asleep.