Thursday, 29 January 2009

declutter crazy

My total life laundry is still ongoing, no idea for how long but I need to sort this out on a regular basis in order to free up my creative mind. I have already seen the results of this so I won't stop until I am where I want to be. 
I have just thrown out a box of much treasured recipes. I don't exactly know why I treasured this box. It is a collection of at least 15 years. Some were taken from Holland, most of them collected in London and now of course they have been 'resting' in Manchester for a number of years. The box has been on many a removal van. I have often looked through the box and planned to make certain things, although why I kept Delia Smith's Guide to Poultry I don't know. It is not that I am a vegetarian but I hardly ever buy meat. 
I remember most of the magazines the recipes came from, I remember the seasons, the day I was looking at them first, etc. But now I have decided to chuck the whole lot in the waste paper bin. 
It is not that I am trying to get rid of all the memories with my fresh start but I don't think it is wise to hold onto this box that will open up memories perhaps at times when I don't want them. Call me simple but I do think that if I don't have to look at them I have locked certain things safely away in the back of my brain. 
Enough of my melancholy. The sun will shine again tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Magic hessian party bags

My business partner's little boy had a birthday party and in true fashion Rosana provided the most exciting party bags. Eco friendly hessian bags with magic goodies; she even painted the wooden magic wands herself! Such a star. 

My monkeys really love these bags but as the My little shopping bag ones are decorated I embellished theirs with their initials. Boy monkey also wants a plane added to his now though. 

I didn't find the will tonight to do this. I burnt part of the dinner due to an argument with a six year old (is there any point, she always wins anyway). She actually had the audacity to tell me I was playing up like a child and I shouldn't because I am a grown up! Help! I only said she had to go upstairs to have a bath. Well I told her a number of times and then got fed up because I felt like replaying a boring CD. Anyway.... I'll try and make a nice felt camouflage plane tomorrow. 
It is time to hit the covers with a good book. 

Monday, 26 January 2009

Flower Power

You'd be forgiven for thinking that I was on something today, I was so full of beans (or just my usual old self again as one friend put it!). 

My life laundry/decluttering is going quite well. The emptier the house the more ideas I get. I've always read that that is the way it goes and I never doubted it at all but when it actually happens it is really nice. The hallway now looks like a charity shop with lots of things in bags and boxes hoping to find a new home. I recently discovered freecycle and it is a great way of donating unwanted items.

Anyway I started today to finish a quilt that was started by the grandmother of a friend. It was made the way it is supposed to be I feel, from old clothing and scraps of material. A lovely item and I am honoured to have been asked to finish it. It smells a little musty but I am sure that it will go now that it is out of the bag (otherwise I will have to get used to it as it is quite a few hours work).

To break up the work I decorated a hessian book bag. I am considering this to add to the line of eco-friendly bags. I will show it at the next fair and test the reactions. 

In order to reduce a pile of felted jumpers next to my work table I have made some more felted flowers to decorate bags, pockets, necklaces etc. 

Not entirely sure where this sudden burst of energy comes from, there are probably a number of reasons. One of them could be that Spring is in the air. I noticed the first of these lovely flowers in the garden. Their name totally escapes me, I know they are called 'Snow Bells' in Dutch (this doesn't help does it?). They are so lovely, pure white and fragile in the midst of dead leaves and branches. 

Let's hope I will continue my week like this!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Little Holbeins

I need a little break from clearing out my bedroom. My friend Jo told me it had taken her 5 hours so I thought I had a go too. In the spirit of the "New Year, New Me" I thought it would be a good idea to clear out the house, let go of objects from the past and just hold onto the nice memories. I have been sorting out my handbags (how sad is that) but it has taken me an hour to go through all the bits. Anyway I suppose it will clear my mind. The bedroom is the warmest room in the house, it is a sunny day and I've got my favorite music on in the background.

I had the toddlers coming round again for arts and crafts club and this week they turned into little Holbeins. We took the story of The Spanish Princess and the portrait of Henry VIII as a starting point and then the little ones got going with silks, gems, lace, doilies, furs and some glue to either create their own portraits or that of their favourite animal. Their results as usual are just brilliant!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Of mice and men

Girl Monkey is doing a project at school. Together with a class from another school they are producing a book based on a Polish story entitled "The king who was eaten by mice". So as a creative mum I was pulled into school today to help create an army of little mice with little capes for the photographs in the book, so sweet. 

I can't believe it is nearly the end of January and we are still baking ginger bread houses. This was a really wonderful kit though, a present from our neighbours. All natural materials and fabulous packaging. I hate to say that the result wasn't worth a picture but the monkeys had a lot of fun decorating the house. They used the box as a base and plastered it with a lot of icing sugar, smarties and sprinkles.

My excitement for today was that I signed up for Elsie Marley's mobile swap. I can't wait to start. Mobiles are good fun to make and I already have got some idea of what I'd like to do. 

January is usually a really drab month. It is usually such an anti-climax from all the fun and when my first party of the year got cancelled early on I was a little sad but guess what the month couldn't have gone better otherwise. Since Mr Betsy got me a car it seems my life is getting better and more exciting by the day. I'll be going round reclamation yards tomorrow to see if I can get some nice pieces of furniture, then of to the hairdresser's and I am ready to party again! Until soon...

Monday, 19 January 2009

Beads and Buttons

I was finally able to sit down today and clear my table. I was almost forced to do quiet things as I was unable to talk due to my new tooth filling. The first thing I picked up from the mending pile was this cashmere top. I do like cashmere but I suppose due to the yarn, the tops are often quite dull, i.e. one colour and no decorations. 

A good reason to dig into my bead and button chest. I am quite pleased with the result :

Sunday, 18 January 2009

The stars are coming out tonight....

Oh dear Carole's curtains haven't moved in the last week. I do have a good excuse, one of my 'oldest' friends from Holland came over for and we explored some fun parts of town. 
Needless to say I haven't produced anything at all, I do need to get my act together, the fairs are creeping up slowly.....

Girl monkey has written a poem for me :

Cold Stars

Cold Stars
Magic Stars
Bright Stars
Colourful Stars
Wishing Stars
Shooting Stars
Glittery Stars
Yellow Stars
Nighttime Stars 
Cold Stars

I suppose it was to cheer me up but the cold stars bit gives the poem an eery feeling and she is only six! No idea where her inspiration came from, I can only guess.....

Monday, 12 January 2009

Willie Wonka at Mary Poppins'

I've taken the monkeys and a friend to Mary Poppins at the Palace Theatre here in Manchester. This was a fabulous show, a more elaborate story than the movie and so well done! I enjoyed it a lot more than the Wizard of Oz which was pretty good in itself. The dancing in Mary Poppins was fabulous and Mary Poppins' exit better than Michael Jackson's rocket trick. 

Girl Monkey's friend enjoyed her first theatre visit and told her dad all about the treats she'd had : lemonade, candy floss, crisps and godstoppers [sic]! Don't you love those little people? The gobstoppers we found last week, during our quest for Wonka bars. Girl monkey had spotted them in a shop and was thrilled to bits to find all these treats from Charlie's Chocolate Factory! 

I am up to my ears in curtain fabric again more about this soon....

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Blogger Photo Disaster

There really are two reasons for not having blogged about anything in my life these last few days. One of them is the new addition to my life : my new car. I do love Mr Betsy (did so anyway) as he has made me mobile again. Super mobile I should say! The other reason is the fact that I have a lot of trouble uploading images. Hope this will be solved soon as I know I won't get near a computer a lot in the next week as I have a friend to stay. I'll try to be back soon!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Dutch Delights

In the holidays I received several parcels from friends and family in Holland. All with lovely gifts, most had some food items (Nibbit crisps still not available in the UK, as is drop, the best liquorice in the world) and just about all of that has gone. My sister in law sent me something that will keep me going for a little longer. She sent me these wonderful quilting fabrics with traditional images. Not sure what I will do with them yet though. I might have to trawl the blogs of fellow Dutch crafters for some inspiration. 

I had some friends round for lunch today and they were raving about the soup I made. It was a vegetable soup which I always make on the same principle, based on a recipe I found in a Dutch cookery book from the 50's. They liked it so much that I thought I write it down for them. 

Vegetable soup

Dice and fry one onion.
Add chopped vegetables to choice. Today I chopped up 1 big leek, 2 big carrots, 1 broccoli and 1 parsnip. Fry for a couple of minutes. 
Add water to the level of the vegetables so that they are just covered. 
Add some vegetable bouillon powder (according to packet, I tend to measure my water with a jug so that I know how much I've added to the veg). 
Add 1 bay leaf with 2 cloves stuck in (to get them out easily)
Bring to the boil and leave to boil for about 15 minutes. Take out bay leaf with cloves.
Liquidise with hand blender or liquidiser. 

Isn't this just easy? 

Monday, 5 January 2009

New Year, New Me, New Car

Happy New Year to all of you. I hope you had a joyful holiday. We certainly did. I felt genuinely happy to stay here with the monkeys and we had a very relaxing time. So now it is time to get back to routine. The 7.15 AM start this morning was not exactly great but when we opened the curtains and saw a thin white carpet outside, nothing could ruin our day! There wasn't enough to try the new sledge but who knows, we had the best weather for years in Manchester over Christmas so might expect a little more soon. 

I don't do New Year's resolutions (or disillusions as girl monkey said last year). Never seen the point because I would probably feel guilty if I couldn't keep them and that would drain my energy. However I am always keen to start a new year afresh, full of good intentions and plans. I looked back at my two plans last year. One read that I wanted to make more things and sell more at craft fairs and I achieved that. The other one was a long term one (i.e. 5 years or more) and it was to either live or spend more time near the beach. I am not too bothered about that one any more, I am very happy where I am thank you. 

What are my plans for this year? Well certainly be more consistent in my production. I might still try to be strict and put a few hours aside each and every day but this first day back I didn't manage. I do have a good reason though: Mr Betsy got me a new car (well it'll be here later this week) and I've made some arrangements for that, boy monkey needed a new passport and I was looking at this :

Help! The photo is bad in every single way. It is blurred and not the best view from my bed. My bedroom is lovely and sunny when the sun shines and a beautiful place to read a book and contemplate. During the holidays though it has been used as a dumping ground, hiding place, laundrette etc. THIS IS IN DIRE NEED OF IMPROVEMENT! I will work on this room very soon and hopefully upholster the little reading bench again. The monkeys managed to spill a few things here and there and it's not exactly looking clean. 

Another area that needed the FLYlady treatment was the kitchen and I had to spend some time there first today.  There was a lovely smell of cleaning materials and coffee as I walked in after school and girl monkey then twisted my arm and said "Mummy we need to do some crafts today" so we made this sweet fairy princess. We've put her in the tree tonight. It's the last day though, tomorrow is the 6th and it will be the day to take down all the Christmas decorations. I have already planned to make quite a few of these for the tree next year. 
It will be empty in the lounge tomorrow but I want to avoid the anti-climax feeling by filling the place with bulbs in bloom and some Spring colours over the next few days. That should give a spring to my step (no pun intended!)