Thursday, 30 October 2008

Busy Betsy doesn't have enough hours in the day

Not enough hours in the day has always been my complaint and I don't think it will ever change. It's not that I can never say 'no' to anything but simply that there are so many nice things to do, people to see, places to visit and I always think I can pack it all in a day. 

It's half term this week and although we hadn't planned a lot we've done a lot of fun things this week. First there was girl monkey's friend Mia's party and I am still suffering: the pink champagne was lovely. Shame they don't have purple as that is her favourite colour (wine merchants take note!) We brought along a bag with purple flowers, I hope she likes it, if not she can come and choose at the stall on Saturday.

Then there were all the pre-Halloween parties. Is Halloween itself not enough? I just hope there's not going to be any post-parties as well. We did days of spooky biscuit decorating here, there and everywhere. We carved pumpkins, had three days of practising party make up (my cream rug in the lounge is the perfect example of how not to do it!), made black cat masks in the shopping centre, witches hand puppets in the library and the monkeys managed to do several 'trial runs' of trick or treating! 

Rosana and I made lots of labels for Saturday, are there really enough?

Mind you having said that, they are selling fast already. I am getting a little stressed out though; I've put what I am going to take to this first Christmas event in the corner of the living room but there seems so much to do still. I've packed up my Phoenix products, the bags and labels that I did with Rosanna, I've got the necklaces and Christmas decorations, brooches and bags but I feel I've still got a million things to iron and sew HELLLPP!

If I am not going to find enough hours in the day tomorrow it has just got to do and then it will be onwards and upwards for next week. I've got one big goal : Mr Betsy has promised me a new car and I really want to contribute to that! 

Sleep well if you're still up....

Sunday, 26 October 2008

'Degas' Masterpieces

We had a lot of fun again with the arts and crafts club. We focussed on Degas' sculpture of Marie. The children were moved by the Laurence Anholt story and then the girls tried to create their own version of his ballerina. Although I do not wish to create any gender issues, having a four year old boy monkey myself, I did expect the boys in the group to be inspired by a Degas Horse. 

This little darling by Evie is so cute :

Whenever I walk into my living room and see all their wonderful creations I get a smile on my face. I wish I had them round all the time. 

This is the last week before the first of the Christmas fairs and I do need to focus, stock is going so fast that I haven't been able to put anything on Etsy. Oh dear....

Finally finished my novel False Impression. It was a fast pacing book and I couldn't wait to finish it but the day before last I fell asleep in the bath and when I woke up I found a soaking wet bundle floating on top of my tummy. A good blow dry yesterday did the trick and I was able to open the pages again. I don't think Mr Betsy was impressed......

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Bags and boxes

I just love parcels and boxes and look what I got now : a Mr Bunny Carrot in my organic veg box. We couldn't resist drawing a face on it before it ended up in our soup. 

And then there was this box : 

full of fab goodies to decorate our bags with, we got busy straight away.  I do hope Santa will like the bags we decorated for all the little girls around here.....

Friday, 17 October 2008

Beautiful Autumn Days

I absolutely love this time of year. The gorgeous sky, beautiful colour of the trees, the sunshine on lucky days like these and when it is cold outside the first smell of fireplaces being lit. It all makes me very happy. On top of this are the first preparations of the holiday season. I have mentioned this before and it often starts too early but now that it is getting colder it makes me very happy indeed. I have already made plans, I want to give my monkeys the best Christmas ever. I've decided to stay at home, have a big tree and join in all the family celebrations around South Manchester. I am used to being on my own for New Years Eve so I don't think there is going to be be any change there. Gosh I am getting too sentimental, it must be because I've just come from a 40th birthday party! It'll be mine next year....

I've had a lovely productive day. Planted oak trees with boy monkey and his friends in the park , finished a load of felt gingerbread men, a number of necklaces (for some reason the picture just deleted and I can't get it back) and started decorating the first of the little shopping bags for little girls.

Oh and I got very excited when the doorbell rang and I saw the postman. No, not because of the postman but I knew what he was holding! I had ordered a couple of books for presents, for the monkeys and one for me, Cath Kidston's Make and it even has a little tote bag to decorate inside. I cannot wait to start. 

Here's another lovely item I'd love to make. I will be curling up with this book and a cup of tea in bed tonight (don't tell Mr Betsy, it's not very romantic!) and get some more inspiration. 

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Beetroot dyeing results

For those of you who emailed me about the colour of the beetroot bag, here they are : 

Before : 

It is a little more cheerful now but not what I had expected!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Beetroot dyeing

This morning I woke up to an interesting surprise : letters and apples for Saint Nicholas. Girl monkey gets very excited about the holiday season and when she was little she would start asking in March for the Christmas tree. It is bad enough that all the shops are full of products for the 12 days of Christmas already but to wake up with a wish list for Saint Nicholas... well what can I say. Both monkeys love this Dutch tradition. Many will find it rather bizarre and not politically correct but I think once you know the history it is nice to keep some traditions alive. It is all too easy to go overboard.  Many do not know the history behind the helpers of Saint Nicholas (called Black Peter). They were originally moorish and are depicted with black curly hair and they have black faces because they delivered the presents down the chimney. So there we have it. Anyway leaving wish lists is far too early but at least I have had a bit of warning. Power Rangers movie, Barbie dolls, Fairy Magic books, a DS (I've already said that he won't have enough money for that!), Horrid Henry books, a hot water bottle (no it is not that cold), to name a few.

I had a productive day, finished more Christmas decorations, tried to get my Etsy shop up and running (few more days to go I think), cooked a couple of meals a few days ahead and made an effort to dye a linen shopping bag. I cooked a big bunch of beetroot today and absolutely love the colour of the water always. So as I was given some very practical but rather dull cream shopping bags at an event in town I thought why not try my hand at dyeing with organic matter. Oh what a flop. Mr Betsy looked curious as I popped the bag into the pan, asking if I had done this before and whether I knew the colour would wash out (answers no and yes). And I should have read up about this. After boiling the bag for about 40 minutes there was still no change in the colour whatsoever. Usually the cooking water is a beautiful deep red, this time it was more brownish red. So a bit disappointed with no result I took the bag out and left it to drip in the shower, the colour of the basin turning into a rather unsavoury tone. As there was absolutely no change in colour I didn't make an effort to hang the bag properly. Fast forward 4 hours later, I took the bag out of the shower as the monkeys wanted to get in and guess what : a brownish pink tone has appeared on the bag and because I left it slightly crumpled up it now has a tie dye effect, unwanted but still surprising. Does anyone have any experience with beetroot dyeing?

I am going to curl up in bed with the novel that I am reading (False Impression) , a cup of nettle and peppermint tea and I think I might sneak in a piece of apple and plum pie that I took out of the freezer tonight. I made such a big pie last week so I cut it up in nice chunks to enjoy whenever.... hmmmm. 

Sunday, 12 October 2008

My lucky day

Such a glorious day it was today! We spent most of the day in the park, our garden and the neighbour's garden, sipping tea, having a chat, just lovely. The monkeys hung up the newly painted bird house in the garden and stuffed it with seeds and bread. 
I always said that I never won anything because I was so lucky in love. Well today I have won something and let's not ponder about what I said earlier! It was a lovely cookery set, a stylish apron, glove, towel and wooden chopping board. 

The day ended with a lovely party, Sundays can't get any better than this (well apart from sharing it with Mr Betsy). I know I need to concentrate on my bags this week so it was great to relax today.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Family Fun Day

FLYlady always send me a reminder that Saturday is family fun day. Now for  a while that hasn't really applied to my family due to Mr Betsy's commitments elsewhere but I have decided to make a stand against that and make sure that the monkeys deserve a family fun day and we certainly did today. 

After the usual ballet lessons and toast in the local cafe we made a collection box for the school's box tops for books.

We then took the bus (sitting upstairs of course) to the city centre and went to our all time favourite Urbis for the Buy Art Fair. The gallerists were so good with the monkeys, giving them postcards, pointing out animals in works, making them find details and handing out the occasional sweet. It was just so lovely, I love the attitude of the down to earth Northerners. A fair to visit again (and possibly acquire a work!). 
One of my favourite artists was Amy Russell. A fabulous work entitled I was never glamorous was so cool, sadly it had a red dot on it. Another one called The fifteen year hangover showing a couple in a bed was also very clever. As is this one :

After we got back from the art fair with lots of inspiration, we used the left over paints and materials from yesterday's art class and the monkeys created some gorgeous works. 

I particularly like girl monkey's natural collage with felt, so Joseph Beuys! 

And after all this creativity, girl monkey even managed to paint her little bird house that she chose as a treat today. (Guess what boy monkey chose : a bag of halloween lollipops, oh dear...). 

Friday, 10 October 2008

Karel Appel inspiration

Where did this week go? I cannot believe that time can fly so fast!! Well a few things happened, Mr Betsy and I got ourselves a new car (well third hand but still great) and needed to sort out a lot of paperwork, I've started a new bag project with my friend RosanaI've been busy planning Christmas events, fairs, decorations etc. And a few things didn't happen but I won't bore you with that....

Today we had a lot of fun in our house with the arts and crafts club for toddlers. We made family portraits inspired by Karel Appel's picture of children. All the little ones had collected natural materials; anything from leaves, twigs and berries to corks (lots! the mums had been very active there) and lollipop sticks. I love working with natural materials and they are so easy to paint. 

There were some really lovely family pictures, some of just a dad or a cat, but all so well done. I would love to display them all on my walls. 

At the end we enjoyed a nice drink with a slice of banana bread. This was the easiest recipe ever from Nibblous. I added some cinnamon, everyone loved it, even girl monkey who is not keen on bananas anymore.  

Friday, 3 October 2008

Christmas preparation

All of a sudden Christmas isn't so long off at all. Summer has only just been (well not really as we didn't have one) and we have already started to count down the weeks to the holiday season. The monkeys will be learning their songs at school soon and I have started to prepare for the the Christmas fairs in the next few months. There were cards galore as my Phoenix order arrived. My floor looked like this :

My table like this :

So I needed to do a bit of clearing up before I could finally start making things again. It is not always easy to get organised when all your lovely friends pop in for a chat and a nice cup of coffee. As a special treat today I made a delicious apple - plum crumble pie (I hope Mr Betsy is impressed, don't they say that the love of a man goes through his tummy?) Anyway by the end of the afternoon my table looked like this :

Meanwhile I have cut quite a few bits of fabric but as I am in the middle of making butternut squash soup I'd better go to the stove. I really am trying to impress Mr Betsy! If only I had the energy to make some crusty granary rolls to go with it but alas I am not perfect.......