Wednesday, 30 December 2009

T-Rex tooth found!

It has been another lovely and memorable Christmas again.

Girl monkey said to me a few weeks ago that she really didn't want as many presents as last year as she spent too much time unwrapping and she'd rather have fun with friends & family. Wise words from a seven year old.....

Invariably the monkeys get given a present that is meant for an older age group which not only means they can't really play with it (often involving some chemical reaction) but also that they need parental guidance. Not wanting to sound ungrateful but for those with children you will know that it is rather helpful to get something they can occupy themselves with whilst you are cooking dinner, doing admin or making that all important phone call. This year boy monkey (five and a HALF) was given a lovely kit suitable for children 8+, lovingly chosen by male friend who has two little girls. Having opened the packet and delayed the process for about 24 hours I can now see why he had such a big grin on his face when he handed over the present. It is the best "parental guidance needed" present ever! In the package was a t-rex excavation kit. Initially I was worried that it would be very messy and dusty but I really do not care about the mess anymore. Boy monkey started of with his chisel but quickly swapped it for the brush and left me to do the hard work.

In the course of the day I have unearthed some bones and brush in hand I have unleashed my inner paleontologist. This is not something the little ones can do whilst I am preparing dinner but something I keep being drawn to whilst stirring the pots. I love it!

I have been productive on another level as well though today. BB2 and myself have been working on the summer collection of beaded jewellery (soon available online at and a range of soft furnishings.

As I am writing this the time on my clock turns to 00.00 and I cannot believe that in 24 hours time a new year begins. A lot of changes have taken place in 2009 and more are to come in 2010 but going with the flow certainly eases the nerves and as BB2's mum said today : "I believe in chilling out", I think that is a good motto to have.

Wishing all my readers a happy, healthy and creative 2010! XX

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Let it snow

These last few weeks I had to plan hour by hour and with only 5 days to go until Christmas I think I might have to book in some half hour slots. I was hoping to relax now that the monkeys are off school and Busy Betsy had the last craft event of the year yesterday but I don't think it will happen. I am banking on next year's Christmas time being an easy one.

I did enjoy the snow though today. Boy monkey wasn't all that impressed with the wet flakes on his face but the ladies had a lovely time pulling the sledge around South Manchester.

When things will slow down a little I will try and be a good blogger again and catch up on all the nice things I wanted to share. I have promised some mentions here and there and will get to these soon.

Meanwhile should I not get to you in the next few days I would like to wish you all a happy holiday season!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Holidays are coming...

It is not even December yet but I can feel a festive feeling in the air. The Coca Cola advert is on the telly and friends have expressed their cheer on Facebook and Twitter. Christmas trees are being hauled into shops and the Christmas Gift Fair season has started.

Today BB2 and myself were in Fallowfield. The morning started slowly, probably due to a drizzle and cold wind but we had a lovely afternoon, selling nice jewellery and trinkets.

We will be at Ivy Manchester on 5 December, Northern Lawn Tennis Club, Didsbury 6 December, Manchester Craft Mafia at the Whitworth Art Gallery 12 December, Broadstone Mill, Stockport on 20 December. We will be at several private events in between. Our party information is available on our website

Hope to see you soon!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Yo-yo bag

There is lots to write about but due to lack of time I will have to delay posting about all the nice things I've seen and nice people I've met. There are quite a few fairs coming up and I need to make more stock, especially bags. Today was a good day to do some sewing, the weather was awful and I lost my voice. A bliss for some people and actually it really made me focus today. Anyway here is what I did tonight whilst enjoying the lovely Ant & Dec.

I got some silks and satins together .....

... made some Suffolk puffs....

... made a little drawstring jeans bag (with a big drawstring!) and decorated it with the little shiny yo-yo's.

I'll finish it tomorrow; I need to sift through mountains of paperwork now.
Sleep well for later....

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

In the pink

I am in good spirits, BB2 and myself attended the "In the Pink" event at Virgin Active in Didsbury tonight and apart from the comment : "Did Richard Branson clear out his cupboards, haha" we had fantastic feedback on the new range and were delighted that many lovely customers found Christmas presents.

We had brought with us chunky funky jewellery, beads, bags, bangles and brooches.

You might wonder what the items in the lower right corner (photo above) are. I can tell you that this is bunting, lovely colourful bunting. This can be used in the garden, in the kitchen, party room, bedroom, wherever you fancy really to brighten up a room. There is a reason for this explanation. In the past few weeks I had some interesting requests: little bit of string to hang up our Little Shopping Bags to be used as laces, clothes peg clips to be used as tie clips but tonight I was asked whether these colourful bits of fabric were men's thongs! Well I ask.... needless to say the girl in question was very embarrassed when she found out the triangles were something else. However, if there are any takers, i quite happily sew a few together to make for a funky Christmas surprise, I'd even sew some pompoms on.

For those of you who watch Big Brother, the lad with the little girl in the picture above is Stuart, selling raffle tickets. Doesn't mean anything to me as I do not watch the show but I assume he must be local.
We met some really lovely beautiful people tonight and hope to be in touch with them for some time to come.
I am now going to put my feet up, tomorrow is another busy day. XXX

Monday, 16 November 2009

't is the season to attend fairs

Busy Betsy & BB2 will be attending a number of fairs and events in the next few weeks and some of them have been organised in aid of charity such as the one this coming Wednesday. The event is in aid of Genesis of which I am a huge supporter. On a number of occasions I had to attend clinics myself at Wythenshawe Hospital where the Genesis team is based and thank God that they are there. Of course I'd love you all to come and say hello to me but please do come and support Genesis. Thank you!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Busy Betsy's Etsy Shop!

I almost forgot to mention but BB2 & myself have finally managed to focus on the Etsy shop : It is still very much in the making, as we are also working on the new site ( but we do have some items in the shop. Please have a look and tell us what you think!
Thank you!

Feeling all "Martha" today!

Years ago in my student house in Leiden we had an exchange student from America for a couple of months at the end of the year. She was a lovely girl with the sweetest mother who sent her parcels from the US all the time, as she really missed her favourite food from home. This way we were introduced to Marshmallow Fluff, Reece's peanutbutter cups and Oreo's. We really missed these too after she left, thankfully it wasn't long before the first American Store was opened in Amsterdam where we could not only buy these but a slice of real New York Pizza too!

However what did make an impact on me for the rest of my life was the celebrations of Halloween and Thanksgiving. We celebrated Halloween long before anyone had heard of it here and were delighted with our little pumpkin baskets full of sweets. Jennifer's mother had sent over boxes of decorations and food, including a turkey. She explained to us what we should eat on Halloween, that we should keep the pumpkin flesh to make puree to freeze for the Thanksgiving pie and told us what to do with the turkey.
We had a very memorable, scrumptious meal and every year before Halloween I will think of that wonderful time we had in this bubbly student house. I know we all complain about the commercial side of Halloween but that celebration we had just with friends, be it with some plastic goodies and tat, I will never forget. Sadly I cannot remember her surname, I would love to tell her that I have never forgotten her stay.

Today we made our own pumpkin food : pumpkin soup with melted cheese, pumpkin and apple crumble and pumpkin puree (probably going to be used in a cheesecake). Girl monkey said that the pumpkin and apple crumble (a Nigella recipe) was the best thing she'd ever eaten.
I feel I have released my inner Martha again, spending all afternoon in the kitchen. It feels like I am the happy housewife, clothing protected by a gingham apron, smiling from the pages of one of her magazines!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

A Vintage Halloween

I was here today :

and I had a lot of fun. It was a beautiful day, it felt like Summer, there was a lovely atmosphere, great vintage clothing and lovely friends popping in. My lovely Dutch friend came all the way from Chester as a surprise, so nice! The monkeys came with me and had good fun, especially since they were spoilt with sweeties, cherry lollypops, homemade biscuits and hoola-hooping sessions. Boy monkey was dressed as a skeleton for the occasion!

I never know what is going to be popular at the fairs, it seems quite random but today the bags were especially in demand. The little shopping bags attracted a lot of attention and all the ginger bread bags sold.

I had some of these clips left from the previous fair and was quite pleased that girl monkey arranged them on the basket and took a picture at the time because today I learnt about a novel way of using them and I was so surprised that I wanted to share my amazement with you. I don't like plastic but am often too lazy to use containers so I tend to use these clips to close dry food bags. Girl monkey uses them as book marks or to clip papers together and no doubt there are other uses. As I said to the gentleman who came to my stall this afternoon, they really are quite versatile. Indeed, he said, they could be used as tie clips. He then showed me how it would look and liked it so much he bought two! Now there's a new idea. Any more takers? Quick, because I haven't got many left.

After the fair the monkeys were invited to a birthday party in the "Secret Garden" as they like to call it. It is a secret garden indeed but know as Paupers Wood. A beautiful plot of land, urban woodland I should say, in West Didsbury, that is being maintained through a community project. We've been to the wood several times and it is truly magical. The party was fabulous, there was a small fire for roasting marshmallows, hot chocolate, hotdogs and the lit pumpkins at the end of the afternoon really made Halloween special.

Unfortunately when we got home I was pulled into trick or treating. The amount of sweets handed out just makes me feel unwell. Girl monkey had the great idea to hand out her sweets to anyone who came trick or treating at our door but instead of waiting for the bell to ring she left her lovely pumpkin basket with sweets at the door as she did not want to get disturbed during X Factor. It comes as no surprise living in Manchester that her basket got stolen and I had a lot of tears after the show ended. Hope to find some half price ones at the supermarket tomorrow to make her happy again!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Home alone 2

Can't believe I've just had day two of being home alone and still had not any time to myself. Mind you haven't really been home so I suppose that's were the problem lies. I did manage to spend a bit longer in my bed this morning. Got woken up at 10.30 (!) by Busy Betsy Two (BB2) who was lying on the beach. Although it was nice not to have to get up for anyone in the morning, it did feel like a waste of time somehow.

I quickly went downstairs and finished some UFO's for Saturday's Vintage & Craft Fair. Hope to see you all there!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Half term mayhem

One half of the term flown by, a few more days and then the monkeys will come home singing Christmas carols. Alongside Beatles songs though, they are practising these for a themed 80th anniversary celebration at school. Girl monkey is busy practising her jive and looking forward to her sixties outfit. Anyone got one in the wardrobe for a petite 7 year old? All I've got is in her favourite houndstooth pattern but was my grandma's so clearly a little big.

The half term started with a fun 70's party organised by one of our friends to celebrate her birthday and wedding anniversary but also to raise money for a very worthwhile cause. She is going to undertake a major challenge cycling in China. Money will be raised for the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Trust to fund medical research at the Wolfson and Weston Research Centre for Family Health in London. Very noble especially since she has just given birth to her fourth child!

Sunday we spent the afternoon/evening in Blackpool, admiring the lights. The monkeys loved it, all the glitz and colour. Girl monkey's friend observed that many girls were wearing very short skirts in the cold weather, what could we say?

Monday we were off to London, the monkeys were going to stay there for a few days. For me it was only one night and some works of art later before returning to a slightly colder Manchester. On the way there the little ones discovered Doodlebuddy on my phone and created numerous art works themselves. Some actually more challenging then the Turner Prize works I went to see at Tate Britain although I shouldn't really say that as I am keen supporter of Modern and Contemporary Art. I did feel slightly underwhelmed at the Turner Prize exhibition though. Three out of the four artists did impress me however I had expected more of it. Anyway it's too late in the day to think about this now. Tomorrow will be my second day of book keeping seminars and I need to prepare for the Vintage & Craft Fair so I better leave my screen alone now.
Sleep well peeps!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Swishing for Genesis

Last night saw the second charity event of the week, this time at the gorgeous Eleven Didsbury Park Hotel.
Organised by Innerglo, the evening was fabulous as usual. As October is breast cancer awareness month, last night was organised in aid of Genesis. There were eye catching pink cupcakes complete with pink ribbon icing (sorry photo not great, it was a little dark and my phone doesn't work well in good ambience!) and lots of pink bubbly.

After a talk about the charity and some wardrobe advise we swiftly moved onto the main part of the night : Swishing! Loved it. Walked in with a dress that once fitted like a glove, now might show a bit more here and there, and walked out with this lovely Indian beaded scarf. Now that was a great swap, all in aid of Genesis.

I never really knew about dress agencies but after tonight I think I might check them out; especially in the current economic climate and my desire to recycle. I saw some really great, never or hardly worn items for a snip. Perhaps if one day I sell the other half of my record collection for a bit more than the £10 I got today I might treat myself....

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

UFO's ready to go

No I am not involved in extra terrestrial activities (not even extra curricular for that matter) just finishing some UnFinished Objects. Earlier this year I said I wanted to use up all my fabrics before buying new ones and I am still sticking to this principle. I keep finding all kinds of lovely fabrics and ribbons in my drawers. Hoping to move house soon I am trying to get everything organised in neatly labelled boxes and if I find a work in progress I will put it aside to finish.
Today I had a very productive morning. The scarf I only started last week though but I finished some brooches, some egg cosies, mended girl monkey's NEW mittens (not worn yet, why the hole?) and finished this knitted bag that had been in the making since March....

I hope to get a lot more items done in the next few weeks so that I can start afresh in my new abodes (shop & home!).

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Beatles, bugs & butterflies

I apologise for probably the worst image of the evening available but it is purely used to illustrate the Debra Charity Ball I went to last night. Until the ball last year I had not ever heard of Debra (Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association) but this charity provides crucial funds for children suffering from EB, a dreadful genetic skin blistering condition, worsened by touch. I was so saddened by all the pain these little ones suffer and all the work that needs to be done before they can even leave the house. Please, do all click on the link above and try to leave all the chocolates alone this week and donate the money saved to Debra.

The snapshot just shows the beautiful painting that my friend Rosana donated for the auction and the lovely Emmerdale boys leaving the stage after scooping up a trophy for their skills on the playing field. The ball was held in the Palace Hotel and apart from the fire alarm going off and all of us having to leave the building the night went smoothly. Still wondering though about table 14, there were no names on the table setting list just "Celebrity table". Now I always find that a little sad and I did not recognise any of them (as expected). They may have been from some soap series but as I don't watch any, even their names on the list would not have clicked and for those who do watch I suppose they will recognise them anyway. Next time be brave and just put a name down, make up one if you have to......

Today we were off to Liverpool. When I first visited the city, about 15 years ago I was not impressed but I have been back several times since last year and am in awe every time I find myself near the docks. The buildings still standing and the new ones fit perfectly together and it really feels like a happening place, much more so than my beloved Manchester. I was even impressed with the Liverpool 1 Qpark carpark, loved the view from downstairs, seeing shoppers walking on top of the dome.

There was a surprise for us and all we knew was that it started with a "B" and that it was new. Girl monkey thought it was the Beatles museum and she wasn't far off as we went to the BugWorld Experience. Both monkeys were very impressed; we were shown a very good movie of bug life and were allowed to touch the biggest millipede I'll ever see, this one was about 6 years old and we were told they could live to about 8 and could reach a length of about 30cm.

Then there was also the biggest snail in the world. I never knew they could grow so large. This would not be possible in our garden as I am not very kind to the species. Don't get me wrong, I do pass them on to the neighbours or give them a lovely meal in the bin.

Before long we hope to move into a new home and girl monkey gets very excited about the new room decorations. The butterfly wall paper and mirrors in BugWorld are now on the list. And then we got to admire some examples of existing butterflies as well. We tried to find the ones we saw in Chester Zoo but no luck. However there were hundreds of stunning examples. BugWorld Experience is certainly worth a visit.

We ended the day in our favourite haunt Tate Liverpool where I stocked up on lovely books for presents and the Mini Masters art classes. Girl monkey impressed some visitors by pointing out works by certain artists, love her!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Not just an ordinary Tuesday

It's been busy in the Betsy household lately. So busy in fact that I do not just live from day to day but from hour to hour. I do not leave the house without my calendar and find myself checking my list in the car every time I have done something. Hence the lack of blog posts... We had a fabulous time during the Didsbury Arts Festival and I hope to put some images up of the art works produced during our workshops and of the Craft Cafe as well. Whilst knitting away to produce some items for the next fair I got a call from my lovely new business partner to go and take measurements....

... not for a new house but to go and buy some furniture for our new shop! So exciting. This is it :

Ok there's lots of things there that need clearing out and it will need a lick of paint but in just a few weeks time we will be up and running! I can hardly believe it, this is a dream come true. Things are looking up! I am now in need of sleep (the new bed isn't great, wishing for my old bedroom back) but as soon as there is any progress I will post more images and information about my new life as a shopkeeper.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

A green, clean house

This is me. I've just put my feet up and I think I deserve to as it is nearly midnight.

I had some very disappointing news today and rather than preparing for the Macmillan Coffee Morning tomorrow and the Craft Cafe I really wanted to chuck it all in but then I remembered that a lot of people need help and support through Macmillan so on I went. I did get some support myself from my dear friend C who knocked on my door late tonight (in her pyjamas!) to give me a hand but rather than scrubbing we sat down with tea and cakes. It is just so fabulous to have friends like her but I won't name her, she'd be too embarrassed!

I've had a very productive day though with the green surprise parcel I received yesterday! There was plenty to get going and I am pleased to say that I did finish my challenge.

First up were the window cleaners and it was an easy choice for me to make. They both did the job but the Ecover product smells lovely and the other was just horrible. In principle Ecover products win it every time for me. For a while I was worried that they weren't produced in this country but just having read that the distance from Belgium and France where the ecological factories are, to London is about the same as the distance from sunny Manchester to London so all in all that's not bad. I have tried just about every other green window cleaners and none of them did the job. You might ask what's with the scrunched up newspaper. Well, this is recycling at it's best. Several balls of newspaper were used as support in the trug of cleaning products, which is good in itself but as newspaper produces the best streak-free windows I got them out of the trug and recycled them again!

I got to test the Ecover multi surface cleaner versus the Flash one in both the normal containers and the spray. I've never really been a fan of sprays as I feel it gets everywhere and I can't really control where the drops land but was quite using it in the bathroom. I did read it was safe to use around food as well so I needn't have worried. I do think that both products do the job equally but again I would choose Ecover any time purely for the green credentials.
I didn't think I was going to test the heavy duty products but girl monkey got quite excited. Until recently she's never seen any ads on TV but since a few weeks has been telling me I need to use Bang because it does the job! Now there's brainwashing for you. She's also picked up on the fact that some supermarkets sell most products for under £1 and she's seen a cream on telly used by a lady that is 43 (Linda Evangelista) but looks 26 due to the cream. When I jokingly said : "Oh just like me then" I got a very dismissive "NOoo"! Anyway after all my cake baking tonight (Dutch Spice Cake and Butter Cake) I did have the pleasure of spraying some Ecover Power Cleaner and it worked like a dream. Wouldn't use Bang ever again, the chemicals got me very worried! Please everyone try to save our planet and consider the health of all in the house and switch to greener products. For the cynics amongst us, really every little bit that we can do will help! I could go on about the need to think green but my brain is turning to mushy peas and I need to get some energy for tomorrow.

My house now smells lovely thanks to Ecover and the cake baking and am all ready for some fundraising. I should be going to Urbis afterwards for the Buy Art Fair but might give it a miss, there is always a 'tomorrow'.
Sleep tight everyone, I am going to try my best but think the monster next door might wake me up several times......

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

A green surprise!

Apologies as I haven't been a busy blogger lately but it seems that my life had been taken over by the monkeys' social life and girl monkey's ballet performances. Apart from that I have been sewing all hours to get my stock up for this Sunday's Didsbury Craft Cafe. I am really excited about this event and will hopefully get some pictures together to show you all after the weekend. Amongst many other things I will be taking these :

.... Busy Betsy's Busy Lizzies. With quite a few pre-orders for Christmas these little girls will keep me busy for some weeks to come.

I had a little surprise today: a lovely green surprise!

Occasionally British Mummy Bloggers get asked to do some product testing and I am really excited about this one. I do this a couple of times a year but usually am asked just to fill in a testing form and am often fairly underwhelmed with the product so I do not see the need to tell the world about it but this time it is different as I got sent a fabulous trug with Ecover products. I know that some of you will stop reading now as you totally disagree with writing about products but because it is Ecover and I am a green queen I am delighted to give them some column inches. I'd like to be as eco-friendly as I possibly can and am normally not a fan of plastics but the trug the products came in is made from those recycled bottle tops that did not end up in my recycled Christmas Wreaths and will come in handy for storing some of the monkeys treasures.

I will be doing a lot of product testing tomorrow as I am taking part in Macmillan's World's Biggest Coffee morning on Friday, hoping to raise some valuable funds for this very worthwhile cause. I would like my house to look spic and span, in all it's glory. A challenge at the best of times, but with my new goodie bag full of Ecover products I hope it is going to be a breeze!

Well, there will be an update tomorrow, wish me luck!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Cupcake party

Today was the day that girl monkey had been looking forward to for a while. It was the day of her CUPCAKE PARTY! Because her birthday falls around the August bankholiday weekend it is a difficult time to organise a birthday party. This year however she had friends round on the day and a party for her school friends.
I absolutely love parties at home. My all time favourite was boy monkey's pirate party last year but the one today is now sharing the top position.

It was very easy to come up with a plan; we were going to have 12 girls all aged between 7 - 8 and they are all easy to please. These little things love everything that glitters and sparkles and know their top 40's better than I do! Girl monkey loves baking and make-up and High School Musical and Hannah Montana and.... just about anything really. So we came up with cake decorating and some girlie activities. Over the past few weeks I found some sweet decorations and some lovely plates, cups, napkins, etc with cupcakes on them.

The trickiest thing was to come up with a good cake. As it was going to be a cupcake party I was hoping to make a giant cupcake. There used to be several fabulous tins on the market, two halves (length ways) put together but I couldn't find these. I did find another one but thought it a bit pricey especially as it might only be used for one party. And then one day on the way to boy monkey's sports coaching I stumbled upon Spreadborough's in Cheadle, which happened to be the place where my friend Jo had bought some super glitter for a cake she made some time ago. This place is a real treasure trove! It looks like a florist but has an extensive cake and craft department as well.

The result is this : a moist Nigella chocolate cake with glittery purple butter icing, edible sparkly flakes, flowers and butterflies. The fairy was the only non-edible decoration. Girl monkey loved it!

Upon arrival all the girls got a glass of "champagne" (sparkling grape juice) with a fancy cocktail stick with a strawberry; they thought it so grown up! They even behaved like grown ups, all standing around, chatting about this and that and enjoying the music.

Then we got some unusual beads and waxed string out in shades of blue/green/red and made necklaces and bracelets and the girls sat down in turn to have their nails and hair done. We got some very funky colours, sparkly ones (of course) and even French Manicure. There was glitter and braids for their hair. Oh, how they enjoyed that!

When they were all "ready" they played musical statues whilst proper food was being prepared (I made sure they all good some carrot sticks and cucumber on their plates just in case!). And instead of the usual party pudding of jelly and ice cream, I made a cupcake "bar". I made 48 plain, chocolate and lemon cupcakes this morning (the house still smells lovely) and purple butter, strawberry and lemon icing and there were loads of decorations. I couldn't guarantee they were without e-numbers (and it probably wouldn't have been that much fun!) We had all sorts of sparkles, diamonds, rainbow drops, love hearts, smarties, blueberries; just about any colour of the rainbow was available. They all had a lot of fun and so did I.

The 2 hours flew by and they weren't keen to go; there is always the anticipation of the party favours. I have never really been a fan of party bags. Not because they can get quite competitive (and I am sure I am to blame in this department... ) but because they are usually full of rubbish. Loads of sweets and cheap plastic toys and I am not in favour of either of them. I am also not keen on the plastic bags they come in although I have found many uses for them (sandwich bags, disposable bags). I do realise though that a kids party of humous and carrot sticks and tulip bulbs isn't the way to go either so I try to opt for something in the middle. For today's party favour I chose a cupcake cookbook, a cupcake lipgloss and a flump (they seem to go in the party bags every year as the only sweet). As the book was too big for a bag I wrapped the whole lot nicely in some colourful gift wrap and it just looked lovely.

It seemed that everyone really enjoyed the party. I better put my thinking cap on for next year's as I am sure that will be discussed sooner or later.

Friday, 4 September 2009

New family members

You win some, you lose some and today we are getting two new family members : Bubbles and Dream.
Girl monkey got a small fish tank for her birthday and as it had to be up and running for a week before the fish were allowed we are (finally!) going to get them today. In anticipation she has decorated the tank with some nice pink ribbon and a sweet note saying "Welcome Home fishes". Bubbles is going to be a silver goldfish (yep that does sound funny but is true) chosen by boy monkey and Dream is a yellow one. I thought they'd go for the lovely orange ones with the nice fins.....

Meanwhile before they arrive I will make some more of these brooches to take to Craft Cafe.

I think the next new member of the family is going to be a cat. We are not worried about the fish as the tank has got a lid. In my younger years it was just a glass bowl and every other week or so I noticed changes on the fish : different spots, slightly different colours and it wasn't until years later that my mum confessed that our lovely cat fished out the goldfish on a regular basis and she had to run into town before I got back from school to get me new ones. That's not going to happen in my household!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The joys of Manchester

The monkeys went back to school today. I was a little sad, facing a day without all the banter and laughter but I had planned a morning of hard work so that I could quickly set aside my tears. However that was not to be. Since Mr B moved to London he's parked his car on the road here and on the way back from school I noticed something different on it : some undoubtedly hooded asbo's had pulled off the grill and on closer inspection I realised they'd smashed a window (an attempt to force it open with a sharp instrument had clearly failed) and had climbed inside to open up the boot. To their annoyance they'd only found an old bottle of coke and two broken straws from the little ones.
Instead of being sad and trying to make up some new items I now had to call police, insurance, body shops etc. Oh the joys of living in Manchester. I am seriously considering a move down South. London seems to be a safer place to be and at least there's a nice flat available. There's nothing about the house here to keep me and with no prospect of getting something else I might as well....

I managed to cheer myself up with this lovely bookmark though. I am going to curl up with "The Visible World" and carefully place the cute toadstool between it's pages.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

"W"hat's it gonna be?

Some time ago I read about the "Knit a Poem" project on the website of Manchester Libraries. I was intrigued; I had read several articles about music and knitting collaborations over the years and am aware of all the groups meeting up everywhere but wasn't quite sure what this was about.
It turned out to be a project organised by the Poetry Society to create the world's first giant knitted poem to celebrate the centenary and obviously I wanted to sign up for this.
I got assigned the letter "W" of the yet secret poem. The words are going to be stitched up over the next few weeks and the poem will slowly be revealed.

The idea was to knit up your odds and ends but the sample had to be knitted using 100% DK wool only. I've got all sorts of lovely fun fair colours in my stash but all acrylics (used for toys and decorations, not for clothing I hasten to say!). However no lovely bright woollies. Now some time ago my friend Jo brought me a bag of brown, beige and bottle green yarn from her grandma's old shop and wondered if I could do anything with it. Never one to say no to craft materials I tried to come up with a project. I could see myself using the green ones for some Christmas decorations but so far they'd stayed in the bag. Luckily as they were the required 100% DK wool I could used them for the "W". The nice coincidence is that grandma's grandson Adam was poet in residence at the Wordsworth Trust last year. The colours may not have been the juiciest ones for the project but the yarn has got an interesting story to it.

I am looking forward to the find out the whole poem and to see the final result.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

"Oh sweet butterfly, just fly away from me"

We're having a quiet bank holiday weekend, partly due to family members who can't plan in advance, partly due to the fact that Betsy herself needs a bit of a break. However we did spend a lovely day with friends in Chester Zoo. It wasn't our first visit but many areas had changed since we were here 4 years ago. This time round we did see all the attractions, most animals are just amazing and stunning but we were particular delighted with the new butterfly journey. Such wonderful colours and patterns on their wings.

I can't remember the name of these with the transparent wings but in flight they were even more stunning.

I tried to capture a number of quite big purple ones chasing each other but they were not in the mood to sit still. Their colour seemed almost unnatural, but was just so beautiful, I'd just go back to the zoo to see them. I will now chase my monkeys here at home and hope for a quiet night.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

The future is orange (3)

Orange seems to have been a dominating colour in my life recently (as has purple!). I suppose radical changes in life bring about radical changes in many areas and I suppose Orange is there to brighten up my life... Anyway that was not what this blog was going to be about. I really wanted to pay attention to "smart consumption" or "intelligent shopping".

Last night I stumbled upon an interesting article in a fashion magazine about the new way of acquiring fashion. Today's fashion lovers seem to be more eco friendly, concerned with the welfare of staff in factories and are moving towards greener shopping. Garments of higher quality that last longer seem to be in favour of the £2 jumpers from the high street stores it was believed. I am not entirely sure this is the case, the cheap stores in town are like a souk at the quietest of times. However I do believe there has been a change in how wardrobes are being put together. Charity shops seem to be full of fashionistas of all ages and swap parties are becoming very popular. Sewing classes and books teaching us how to embellish clothing are advertised everywhere and for those who know me or follow my blog I absolutely love this!

I come from a family of hand-me-downers. And I don't just mean from brother to sister etc. I mean grandma's, aunts, nieces, cousins, mothers, daughters, everyone is at it and has been for the past 60 years or so. I do not know how this started. Economic crisis may have had a hand in this every now and then but most of all my family does not seem to like waste. Why throw out something good if someone else can still use it? I am a true "Make do and Mend" girl and although the mend doesn't apply to all the women in my family they certainly know how to find me with great quality items. I have some lovely (proper) vintage tops from my grandmother that go back about 50 or 60 years (via my youngest aunt, a real fashion doll) and have worn many items that have come from any of my relatives over the years. One of my cousins used to buy the most over-the-top dresses in her younger years and I have made some great skirts out of these. If you do not have this culture in your family head down to your nearest charity shop. It is often hit and miss but there are some great items and fabrics around. These places have become so popular, helped by the likes of Kate Moss e.a. who pick up the most gorgeous items.

Back to the orange : when I went to see one of my aunties in Holland recently she had nicely put together a bag with fabulous tops for me, some my size, some quite oversized but still looking fabulous with my skinny jeans. I know that I will dye some tops, refurbish some others and this orange one that was rather dull (but lovely and soft), I brightened up today with a lovely "God save the Queen" iron-on transfer (these can be found aplenty on Ebay).

After I finished the t-shirt I went for a quick hunt around my local Oxfam where I bought a brand new version of My Life in Orange by Tim Guest. It is a biography about growing up in a Bhagwan commune. I remember the Bhagwan followers walking around Amsterdam in their orange, pink, purple and red-ish clothes and they used to scare me so much. My mother who is scared of just about everything (I should write a book about her!) had put the fright into me at some point by saying that they would try to kidnap people so that they would get more followers in the commune and as a young teenager this had some kind of effect on me. In fact about 20 years later I still jumped into shops if I heard or saw any Hara Krishna's in Covent Garden! Anyway I had read an interview with Tim Guest when the book came out and it was on my list to read so here was another lucky orange find.

God save the Queen, Orange save my day!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Stepping up a gear

Sadly the summer holidays are already coming to an end. Six weeks gone in no time! That means that Craft Cafe is only a month away.... meaning I need to produce a bit more to fill the stall. I am slowly stepping up a gear and have been making some lovely dollies and cushions. A little snapshot of what my work table looked like earlier.

I have also been baking a bit. It is girl monkey's birthday tomorrow and she had a little tea party for some friends earlier today. Next week will be THE cupcake party (lots of baking then!). I'm praying for some nice weather tomorrow as she'd love to go to a maize maze.

I better get on with hanging up the decorations whilst enjoying V Festival on the telly. Wish I'd been there....

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Back home from home

The monkeys and I are back after a week of fun, sunshine and blissful lounging in the Netherlands. The trip seemed a little hectic with a day in London before and after the journey and all the driving to Dover and from Calais to the Netherlands but it was all worth it.

In the Netherlands we stayed in a teeny weeny village called Driewegen. Although my parents lived a seven minute drive away I had only been there once for a flower arranging course with my sister. In fact the house we were staying in was that very same place I had been to and what a delight to come back. The owners of the house have gone on a very impressive pilgrimage to Rome and hope to get there after three months walking! Hats off to them!

We were very lucky that they needed guests to look after the chickens and the cats and I thought it would be a great way of familiarising my monkeys with pets and country life. Boy monkey usually walks on the other side of the road when he sees a cat you see.

Upon arrival (through the back garden and door, the usual thing to do back home) we were welcomed by a lovely vase of flowers outside and some pears from the garden on one of the numerous tables outdoors.

Indoors we were greeted by the cats and to my surprise boy monkey kind of fell in love with one of the three, a tabby cat called Guus. Upstairs was a lovely welcome note on the door and inside it read :

(Good night for whoever sleeps here). Girl monkey really liked this pink room and wanted to make it her own but at nighttime she decided she'd rather share a bed with her little brother in the new and dark environment. Boy it did get dark there at night!

We were so lucky with the weather, if we weren't at the seaside making sandcastles we were exploring the expansive garden with it's many lovely seating areas, fruit trees and chickens (we didn't find any eggs even though we tried).

I came across many beautiful plants that I had never seen before and tried Japanese wineberries in our trifle. The plums weren't all that ripe but we picked a few and it was just lovely to eat something grown in your own garden (well theirs...). If I had someone to help me I would love to have an allotment. Maybe I should put an ad in the papers... could do with someone around the house and garden.