Friday, 23 December 2011

Photographic Fortune Cookies

Earlier this year I was at the National Photography Symposium at the Bluecoat in Liverpool as part of Look11 the photography festival and picked up a couple of fortune cookies that were pinned on washing lines around the Bluecoat courtyard. I admit this was in May but as it happened I found them this week as I was tidying up the dining room after Christmas. I suppose I could have waited another couple of months to write about these for Chinese New Year and I imagine everyone thinking 'how come you didn't notice these the last 8 months?'. I do not exactly live by the mantra "a dusted home is the sign of a wasted life" but things do get put in drawers and corners where I do not look every week.

The couple who put up these fortune cookies were Leila Romaya and Paul McCann. The project was called Hui Yi Lu (Notes from the past). "Hui Yi Lu" celebrates Liverpool's Chinese community and came together following a series of photographic workshops within this community. Twenty large scale photographs were displayed throughout the city centre but then there were these miniature images enclosed in delicious fortune cookies. I was debating whether to open them or not as it felt somehow barbaric to destroy these lovely parcels but it was the monkeys' persuasive skills that made me, not so much because they were curious about the story but they'd fancied the biscuits!

Inside them we found two miniature images one of a boy inscribed 'travelling by sea' and one of a girl inscribed 'Martha'. Boy monkey is very keen to keep his find, perhaps I should suggest to keep it in his special box and one day we might find out more about these children. I managed to get a small bite of the cookie and I must say they were the best ones I have ever tasted.

Leila and Paul also took part in Redeye's Lightbox project and for their group show "Excavating Utopia" they created the most fabulous wall paper from images they had taken of objects in interiors along "Park Road". This road is not so much fictional but a medley of many Park Roads that photographers in the group visited and is a wonderful imaginary picture of how they perceived life in Park Road.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Have a merry green Christmas 2

I am having a flashback as I am writing this. Christmas has come round a lot quicker than expected. Luckily nearly everything is wrapped up but there are still a few presents to get and a shopping list to be made.
I was hoping to make all my presents this year (the usual wishful thinking) but didn't get all that far. I did manage to decorate the house with natural and recycled materials. There are the recycled wreaths from the last few years and natural things collected by the little monkeys.

My friend Juliette Hamilton makes fabulous willow items and I bought this lovely willow heart from her at Christmas Craft Cafe. She does great workshops at Arley Hall for those wanting to try their hand at willow weaving.

I made this basket when she did a demonstration in Paupers Wood for Easter and had put eggs, chicks & feathers in it. It is now re-styled for Christmas with apples & pine cones collected by the monkeys and it looks just as pretty.

This year we have gone mad on trees in the house and they are totaling four!! This sounds more lush than it is. We've got a lovely smelling natural tree in the lounge, decorated with lovely bright baubles by the monkeys. Then there is the little fake one in the kitchen (like everywhere else in the house with red decorations) and both monkeys have got one in their rooms. Boy monkey a black tree with red and silver decorations (to fit in with the Manchester United and Flamengo team colours) and girl monkey has got a pink one with turquoise baubles. I'd never thought I'd give in to a pink plastic tree but I am trying to make her pre-Christmas time as special as I can as she will not be here with me at Christmas. Oh the joys of time sharing kids; she's not best pleased to have to go on a plane when all her friends are here. Anyway, for now she's enjoying the Christmas spirit at home.

As always at Christmas I am keen to bring to the fore the ways we can make this a greener time. There are many ways to reduce, reuse and recycle and I would love to hear from anyone how you'd make this a greener Christmas and any views on whether a real or a fake tree is better for the environment. Opinions seem to be divided but would love to hear your thoughts.

As a token of good will the lovely people at Ecover have got a Christmas Clean Aid kit to give away for one lucky reader. So please send us your tips either on the blog or 'Like' us on the Busy Betsy Facebook group and send us your tips there. Meanwhile enjoy the following tips from the Ecover team:
  • Wear and Care this Christmas and add some eco to your festive wardrobe. Why not rock the office Christmas party eco-style this festive season? Visit for a list of eco fashion labels or check out our favourite Ada Zanditon’s Autumn Winter collection
  • Buying a real tree? Visit the Forest Stewardship Council website to make sure your precious pine has been farmed sustainably –
  • Use last year’s Christmas cards to make this year’s gift tags – cut out the pictures and thread through some cotton – hey presto, recycling at its best. Don’t forget to save this year’s cards to use in 2012!
  • e-Christmas cards – why not try Facebook, Twitter or email rather than snail mail to send your seasons greetings?
  • Recycled wrapping paper is a really easy way to score ‘green’ points at Christmas and doesn’t cost the earth. Try the selection at
  • Turn off the fairy lights at times when you are out of the house or in bed – it’s both safe and energy efficient!
  • All of Ecover’s range is now made from Plant-astic – a sustainable plastic made from sugar cane. This means that if you choose Ecover this Christmas to deal with your dirty plates, wash your best table linen, and keep your home clean, not only will your home be free from chemical nasties but also the packaging you’re choosing is better for the world around you too! And it just got easier – Ecover’s online shop means that you don’t have to worry about heavy shopping bags either –
  • Travel together – try car sharing with friends and family or taking the bus to the shops to do your Christmas shopping
  • Once you’ve filled up on turkey, yorkshire puddings and brussel sprouts, wash the dishes with Ecover Washing Up Liquid (Busy Betsy thinks this really smells the very best, honestly I have tried them all!)– you can even use your grey water to feed the Christmas tree!

Friday, 2 December 2011

And the Dish ran away with the Spoon

Wednesday was a day of strike for many people but a day of rest in our household. Forced by school closure we had to stay home for the day. There are many things I can say about the strike but I won't considering the amount of abuse Jeremy Clarkson and others have had (and I am not saying I would have said the same thing, it's just an example!). Anyway I don't think I get any pension at all, jobs in the art & craft world aren't the biggest earners, but at least we are all trying to keep the economy going by turning up for work. Also I won't start on the government but the Teletories don't seem to make it any better. Enough said!

On the positive side we had a lovely time in West Didsbury, home of a lot of independent retailers and food establishments and of course the uber-cool. The monkeys were promised a trip to town but then I realised there were marches along the bus route so I took them to "And the dish ran away with the Spoon" instead.

I am not sure but think the shop had a make over recently, perhaps it was just the Tiffany blue ribbons that caught my eye. This is a lovely little place. In their own words small but perfectly formed, with a lovely selection of cakes, great interior (straight back to Grandmother's kitchen) and lots and lots of old fashioned sweeties.

Boy monkey decided he'd wanted two of each. I'd tried to persuade him that the nice man behind the counter had enough to do but I was given an ultimatum: tears or sweets. What's a mother to do? The lovely man behind the counter, who looked like he'd walked straight out of the "Notting Hill" bookshop was most obliged and served the little man monkey accordingly. This place is well worth a trip if you find yourself stranded in West Didsbury.

And if you are in need of cakes as beautiful as these just give them a call. Details on their website :

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Sniff sniff

I was most surprised to read this morning that Sir Philip Green's group Arcadia is not doing as well as they'd hoped due to the nice autumn weather. What about due to the cuts and the economy not doing well? Mr Cameron could be one to blame? Since when has fashion been 'in season'? One cannot buy a bikini in August when all the birds are falling from the roof as a result of the heat as the winter collection is in store. And as I was desperately looking for a warm winter coat in February I just caught the end of the winter sale and clearly nothing left in my fairly standard size. So really having clothes in season not selling does not make sense to me at all, as we haven't had a history of having clothes in store at the right time.

Anyway I was sent a lovely box of Olbas products to try and there is nothing like a keen duo of monkeys raiding your wares and giving their opinion. The products could not have arrived at a better time as boy monkey has been sniffling for over a week, girl monkey has got a sore throat and I am getting one as well.

So, instantly most products were tried and tested. I was only expecting some packs of tissues (remember those with the same "crunch and release the vapour" skill as the box we tried some time ago). Well, they were there and immediately divided amongst book and sports bags as they smell so nice and according to the monkeys, are the best for a cold at school. The big box of tissues had to be rescued as they liked it so much last winter that they wanted to divide that one too. The best thing of all I thought was the Olbas Bath, a bubbly bath product with a menthol scent that really opens the airways, and is inexpensive; how good is that?

The menthol lozenges come in two flavours, honey and lemon (given the thumbs up by girl monkey) and blackcurrant and aniseed, which I love. Anything with aniseed is a good thing in my book. On a regularly basis I get sent aniseed cubes from Holland that dissolve in warm milk, hmmm best thing to send anyone to sleep.

The one thing that I have left in the box is the vaporiser. I shall keep that for when it is really necessary. I have a real thing about air fresheners, room sprays and vaporisers, somehow it doesn't feel quite natural to me to have these extra chemical scents in the house, not quite sure whether they are healthy especially now that so many of us have allergies. Anyhow, do believe that this menthol thing will do the trick when needed. Girl monkey has no preconceptions so no doubt she'll have it in her room.

I wish I could run a bath with the nice Olbas Bath in it but sadly my boiler is poorly too; a cold shower it is in the morning. Wish I could cheer it up with a lozenge.....

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Christmas Craft Cafe

Just a couple more days to go the the Christmas Craft Cafe at the Northern in Didsbury. There will be a few familiar faces and there will be new ones selling brilliant crafts. There will be funky knitwear, jewellery, photography, graphic design, willow items (hope there is a skull there) and lots more.

The next Craft Cafe will not be until next year. For info and applications please email

In the meantime information about exhibitors is posted on the Facebook page :

And for now I shall make some more jewellery!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Being green

Remember these? In April they were only an inch high and not long after they had grown into some respectable shoots. In August however there was no sign of any fruits andI was told I was the only Dutch person who could not grow a tomato. By September they had grown into something monstrous but not in a successful way.

And as the conservatory was starting to feel like the Day of the Triffids with six of these all around my I was on the verge of throwing them out. Watering them felt like a real waste and then all of a sudden I noticed one small tomato growing. In the meantime this one has been eaten; shared between me and the monkeys. However boy monkey told me tonight that we've got 13 tomatoes growing! Well that is not bad going for an initial layout of about a pound.

On another green note I have really enjoyed trying these Ecover products. Regular readers might know that I am a very keen supporter of green cleaning products due to my monkeys' sensitive skin but also I really like the smell; so much better than all the chemical ones.

Anyway I will not go on about how wonderfully clean my house is now and how fresh it smells but I just wanted to let you all know that Ecover is giving away two iPads every two weeks until December, when a grand prizer winner will also receive a holiday. All you have to do is photograph youself enjoying the 'Ecover effect' and register your entries on Ecover's online magazine: The competition celebrates Ecover's all new plant-based packaging and will be decided by public vote. I think I might check this out myself and see if one of the monkeys can take a decent picture of me that doesn't just show my legs and is blurred.

Oooh that looks nice !

I know that many of you are very keen on self-sufficiency, crafts and the 'make do and mend' trend. This vogue seemed to have really caught on in the last decade and hopefully will keep going strong for a long time to come. What with all the cuts and the *brilliant* politics provided by the teletories, no doubt we have no choice but to join in.

However, as with festivals, I have noticed a waning interest in craft fairs. There seem to be too many rules and regulations to keep some going and at times it feels that the interest is stabilising rather than growing. Do we think that making items and selling them for a marginal profit is not sustainable? Are the running costs and fees for market rights becoming too high? Has it taken the WI feeling out of the fun. Or have we come to a conclusion that we really are not living in the 50's any more and we also need to keep up with what modern D&T is producing? I always said I would have loved to live in the 50's, would have made my life so much easier I think with everyone knowing their place in society, families staying close and not moving too far away (let alone to another country!). Or am I living in a dream world? Whatever it is, whatever anyone feels about bygone times and the eagerness to make and mend, one thing that seems to be on the up is the vintage style packaging of goods in the supermarkets.

Cath Kidston seems to have had a big influence here and many magazines and shops do not just show and stock her items (it's becoming a bit too much almost, at some point they were exclusive, last year Tesco's had her bags!) but her flair for florals and chintzes are evident in many photo shoots and shop windows.

(I know I have used this image before but it is a lovely happy image. Just like my kitchen, full of bunting and cakes :-)!).

But when it comes to packaging in shops I noticed Marks and Spencers started with pretty cakes in lovely 50's inspired boxes. Today I saw this lovely box of chocolate eclairs at the Coop. It would have look good in any tea room so obviously I could not refuse to buy one. Mind you I did share.....

And then the other day I received this lovely parcel:

Initially I thought it looked like a lovely box of soaps and tissues but much to my surprise it was a box of feminine goodies. Lil-lets have asked for the advice of a group of young girls and have clearly gone to town with their new packaging. All wrappers can be taken off and no one can guess what's inside! Products even come in 'whisper' wrappers. The teenage market will be delighted. I know how embarrassed my little one can get at times when this topic is mentioned but with this new pretty packaging that doesn't scream about WHAT YOU HAVE GOT IN YOUR BAG, no doubt this range will catch on.

They've even done away with the obvious blue cords (that seem to stick out of bikinis at times when you are trying to be cool) and replaced those with a pretty "Candystripe" red & white garden twine like cord. And the best bit of all: lovely ribbons. Can I suggest other manufacturers have a look at this and get inspired?

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Three down, three to go

And with that I mean the weeks of the summer holidays. I cannot believe that we are halfway there. There are always lots of mums moaning at the start of the holidays saying that six weeks is too long: they all find it a drag and kids get bored. I absolutely love it! So does girl monkey although boy monkey loves school so much that he misses it. The solution is a bit of home schooling to give him structure in the day and we are all happy.

So far it's been a "staycation" but with an international feel. The six weeks started of so nice with plenty of sunshine, the Manchester Mela, a visit to Roman Chester and lunches at Cafe Rouge. We've packed in plenty of picnics in the park and especially the dinner time ones had a calming effect on all of us. The days when the sun wasn't out we had plenty to do inside; the monkeys love making up things so we had a home cinema and French cafe to name a few. The hospital one was a good one although I was really not well and in bed but it gave the kids an excuse to do something different. We always like home cinema: curtains drawn, drinks in bottles and a big bag of home made popcorn all go down well. To fill the time the monkeys made tickets for the film, arranged the seats in the lounge and put stickers on, created a counter to sell sweets and crisps and it all made for a fun time. A lot cheaper than going to the cinema and a good way for them to practice a bit of maths and earn a few pennies as I wasn't allowed in without buying a ticket and sweets!

I have always liked the idea of home schooling as I do not always agree with the standard state school education but at the same time I wouldn't like to take the little ones away from their social life at school which I believe gives them a good grounding for secondary school. However the summer holidays are always a good opportunity to do more at home and the monkeys came up with a brilliant idea: "French Cafe". We had a cook, a waiter and a very smart guest. We prepared a french style lunch with pate, cheeses, baguette, salad, jus d'orange and salade de fruits. It was a great way to learn about home economics, table settings, geography, to practice french words and maths.

In the holidays I don't really have the time to do any crafts but I started on a quilt for girl monkey.

Both monkeys are a bit too young to get involved although they helped me choose the fabrics. The theme really is Dutch fabrics and turquoise. I've sewn the squares on and am now hand quilting with apple green, I think it is going to be very nice.

I am writing this as I am still in bed (oh the joys of summer holidays!) before going to Oulton Park race course to see Mr G. do a crash course in skidding. If any of you are looking for something different to do in the South Manchester/Cheshire area, there is a lovely place called Coffee au Clay where we went yesterday. This is a lovely light and bright cafe with good coffees and cakes and nice pottery items to paint. The monkeys had a ball choosing items and colours and it is so well organised and presented that it made for a very relaxing experience (most mums do not associate paint with relaxation) and I even thought I should have brought a book.

Apart from pottery painting they also do letter decorating with fancy papers that you are able to take on the same day so I have a feeling that that is what we will be doing next week. For now enjoy the summer holidays!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Home sweet home

I have just come back from a fantastic and relaxing weekend sans-enfants to find some lovely goodies on my doorstep. The Avon lady has left me a bag of lovely toiletries and then there is the latest Mollie Makes with a lovely flower felt kit to make, very Busy Betsy! I can't wait to sit down and start browsing. Recently I raved about Making magazine which seems to have become less to my taste with every issue so am pleased to see the latest addition of craft magazines.

And lastly there is the delivery of Thirst Pockets Multi Cloths to try out. I am slightly intrigued by this new product. The press release read that they are "the innovative new household helper with a split personality". I wondered whether that would make me very confused, there is enough drama in my house at times! It then followed with "Is it's [sic] a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a brand new product from Thirst Pockets - the Thirst Pockets Multi Cloth. It's no surprise that this innovative little household helper is having an identity crisis - because it looks like a kitchen towl and performs like a cloth. "

Now that explains. I think I will put them to use tonight as I have come back to a house full of icing sugar and dough as girl monkey made a cake for her dad on Father's Day. On that note Happy Father's Day to all the daddies in the world.

With love X.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Forgive me I am not a photographer

I have just come back from a fabulous weekend in Liverpool where Redeye organised the National Photography Symposium (NPS3) at the Bluecoat coinciding with the launch of Look11 the first Liverpool photography festival. It was an absolutely amazing weekend with very inspiring speakers and photographers and an astounding amount of great photography shows all around the city.
It has been so overwhelming that today I am just trying to catch up with some news, digest some of the information and look through some of the great publications I brought back. My feet are aching and I have a need for a foot rub (anyone willing?).

Look11 is on for another 6 weeks and I urge you to look at the website to see what is on. Below I have only listed the very few shows that I managed to see. This is not a deliberate exclusion of others, purely time constraints. To list all that is on would be madness and besides it is great to discover yourself what is on where. Anyway one of the few shows that I did see was Excavating Utopia: Park Road at St George's Hall. This was put together by one of the Redeye Lightbox groups. I loved the set-up, the fabulous wall paper by Leila Romaya and Paul McCann and the well designed catalogue.

On Friday night the Bluecoat organised a hog roast to entertain the visitors of Look11 launch and Lightnight. I tweeted this and in about 5 minutes I had every hog roast restaurant in the UK following me on Twitter. No doubt they'll unfollow me soon when they realise I am not in the catering business!

There is a very good exhibition at the Bluecoat Confined that had chillingly good images. Well done to Sara-Jayne Parsons for putting this together. The show is on until 10 July.

Also at the Bluecoat was an installation by Sharon Mutch (see below) who is not only one of the Excavating Utopia photographers but also photographer in residence at the Bluecoat.

As I spent most of my time directing people to various lectures and shows I didn't really get the chance to listen to many of the presentations but I did hear the lovely David Moore who spoke about his work in the Confined show at the Bluecoat as well as some of his other work. Totally fascinating. A list of his books is available here.

I also had the pleasure to listen to the delightful John Stoddart. Not only does he take brilliant shots of A list celebrities, he is also utterly charming and very funny. His road to stardom did not come easy and it was refreshing to hear about his early career.

As I met and heard so many wonderful photographers I am kind of embarrassed to put up these snapshots from my phone. Forgive me I am not a photographer, but I would like to shout about those who are and I hope that many of you will get to Liverpool to see the wonderful shows that are up as part of Look11.

I am now going to have a quiet moment with some of my new books Is Britain Great? 2 by Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale from The Caravan Gallery and Still Life Killing Time by Edmund Clark.

For reviews from NPS3 please see the following so far:

and follow the hashtag NPS on Twitter #NPS3

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Something old....

Something old....

... and a few more old things, then add something blue and then there is something new:

I am quite pleased with this result. I don't think I was ever going to wear these white shoes again and thanks to the wonderful world that is Ebay I found a rainbow of colours in sprays.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Palm Easter Tree

Have we all enjoyed a great Easter weekend? It's been absolutely glorious in the North of England. Apparently it's been warmer here than in Spain and France, unbelievable.

I am not sure if it is a sign of the times or whether it is just me but I am very keen to keep to traditions. I had planned traditional fayre for the whole Easter weekend, starting with Green Thursday (called White Thursday in Holland and Belgium) and for the first time we made a 'palmpaasboom', a palm Easter tree. When I mentioned this to friends here I got blanks so it may well be a Dutch tradition. This 'tree' in the shape of a cross was decorated with ribbons and flowers and carried around on Palm Sunday. I have never actually seen this carried in a parade at school or elsewhere but this is what happened up to the sixties apparently. The monkeys love learning about what they call the 'olden days' and they like that we do things on certain days so I thought this would be a great thing to pick up for years to come.

On a trip to Delamere forest we found a couple of sticks that we turned into a cross and decorated with yellow ribbons and Easter decorations. The monkeys then had a great time threading biscuits and sweets for a couple of garlands that they were allowed to eat today on Easter Monday.

I searched online to find tips to turn bread dough into a cockerel or an Easter chick to put on the top and found that it was remarkably easy:

Make sausage shapes of about 15 cm, then make a few cuts in one end for the tail and a few at the other for the comb, pulling one bit out to make a beak and sticking a raisin in for an eye. I wasn't all that sure when I put them in the oven but .....

the result wasn't bad:

And this is what our tree looked like in the end:

Proportionally the chick is a little small but I'll divide the dough differently next year and make a bigger one. In the meantime the cross is going to be used for a sword by boy monkey. I am glad the monkeys get into the spirit of reusing and recycling too!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

I could have been a farmer's wife

Yes I could have been a farmer's wife, should have been perhaps but never would have been as a farmer never crossed my path. Having grown up in the Dutch country side, a mile from the seaside but having been addicted to the London high life I have a strange mixture of sentimental feelings for both places. I do think the seaside wins... the smell of the North Sea and that of the flowers and animals is really quite appealing. I have no green fingers yet but would love to grow my own veg. I have a real make do and mend attitude and never waste anything and often dream of living on a farm. On top of that girl monkey would love to move to a farm near grandma in Holland; that would make all her dreams come true (well apart from that being an actress or a chef). Farm life is getting a little closer though in Didsbury with plans of getting a few chickens and growing rhubarb in the back garden.

The week started with some inspiration at a book launch at the Albert Tennis Club organised by Action for Sustainable Living. The book entitled "Didsbury Dinners" promised to give tips on sustainable living and some good recipes. It ain't a Nigella or Jamie but we should all support our local community and the effort that has been made and make this a sell-out publication.

The lovely volunteers made the event a memorable one and we got some lovely goodies. I particularly love the shopping bag: Love Food hate waste, the strap line was made for me! We got to taste some vegan snacks (the pastry was a little wasted on me) and I was nearly persuaded to join the WI. Who knows when I've got more time on my hands and an actual house fairy who could deal with cooking and monkeys I might even give this a go.

For the moment I am feeling quite green and sustainable by growing my own tomatoes. I am very proud of these so far.

Having just recovered from neck pain I decided to do some work in the garden and do my back in. I'd spent a day pulling weeds, planning the kitchen garden and making space for the chicken coop and then I decided to put this little baby together:

It promises to be a tropical Easter weekend with chocolate eggs melting everywhere so had to buy this beauty to BBQ some goodies.

Girl monkey cheered me up by planting some Phlox and to relax from all the hard work I bundled some lovely purple and white flowers (weeds I believe!) for the kitchen.....

.... and added some lovely smelling white lilacs to a bouquet in the lounge.

All I need now is a cup of tea and a foot rub. Shame I've got to do that myself......

Monday, 11 April 2011

Hello Summer!

Surely this was the hottest weekend I have ever experienced in Manchester. Looks like it is fast becoming the Nice of the North (well not quite but you know what I mean).

After finishing the last Busy Betsy order of the week it was time to put up my feet and enjoy some sunshine. I wish I could write lots about what I had done but there isn't much to report apart from enjoying the sun and relaxing. The weekend felt like a proper holiday and for the first time in months I feel totally recharged.

The weekend was a real community affair, hanging out with friends and neighbours, going from place to place. By Saturday night the monkeys and their friends were in holiday mood too so they set up camp in the back garden, complete with chairs, duvets and sticks to build a pretend fire, whilst the grown ups were preparing a fabulous barbecue.

This seemed the perfect moment to open a bottle of Shloer as the new flavour had arrived on Saturday morning. As I have said before I really do like the drink but was quite blown away by the new taste : Summer Fruit Punch, which apparently is a limited edition drink. Not sure if this is a marketing trick but I will stock up for the Summer. It is like Pimms but without the alcohol. I loved the taste of cucumber and even the colour resembles Pimms. The monkeys call Shloer kids champagne and were thrilled to see the new flavour but girl monkey and her friend weren't impressed. I think the taste was perhaps a little too grown up for them. No problem: more for me!

To break up the celebrations a bit we went for a walk around Delamere Forest yesterday and guess who we saw on Hunger Hill:

Smiles all around for the monkeys! Well it is still Lent for me but I will be tucking in soon....

To finish a fabulous weekend I dropped off my car for an MOT this morning and got the pleasure of driving around in the latest racing car:

Well racing is a slight exaggeration: I don't think I've ever driven this careful. Felt a bit like a granny behind the wheel and sure enough I did get the occasional stare from particularly the male drivers, needless to say I did not go cruising. A visit to Tesco and straight back home!
Just four more days and it is the Easter holidays, the start of a few fabulous weeks!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Hello April

It's been a good start of the week. Well apart from the fact that my phone went from full battery to empty overnight and failed to wake me up this morning. However I got myself and two monkeys washed, dressed & fed within 20 minutes so got to school on time.

I then made a sturdy cover for a MacBook Air. It looks a little like a summery purse, which serves the purpose just fine in my opinion. I am not sure if it will catch on to a wider public as it has already been deemed too girlie by some in my immediate circle. Anyway if anyone is interested in something that does not look like a laptop bag please email us at

Preparations are in full swing for the hands-on Craft Cafe at the Didsbury Arts Festival and the Christmas Craft Cafe later on in the year. We are looking for artists so if you are interested please send us some images of your work to

A couple of times a year I sort out my kitchen cupboards and today I realised I have a decent amount of semolina and almond flakes that are approaching use by dates in the next month or two. I know it is still Lent but on the other hand I do not like food waste so baked an almond and semolina pie.

I've cut myself a decent slice and I'll make myself a cup of tea, put my feet up with the new copy of Making Magazine and get some great inspiration for Spring. I love the cover, the content is most likely going to be very good, It simply is the best craft magazine around.

Monday, 14 February 2011

I *heart* Valentine's Day

Life is too short and I believe we should enjoy every day as much as we can. Therefore we should celebrate as much as we can so if there is a celebration to be had, join in! There will be some grumpy boots out there complaining about Christmas becoming too commercial, the Americans introducing Halloween and Valentine's day but there is nothing to stop the shops from doing this really and if you can't beat them join them! The monkeys and I truly enjoyed this morning, they'd been looking forward to it all week (well since the Chinese New Year's celebrations waned off).

The monkeys woke up to a little surprise: a chocolate heart shaped treat with a card from the lovely June Lily studio. These were free to download and ever so cute.

I got up earlier this morning to make them eggs on toast (both in heart shapes!). This sounds like I never make them anything in the morning, which is not true of course but I wasn't sure how much time heart shapes would take with a half sleepy head!

Girl monkey composed me a poem at the table:

Dear Valentine
Dear Valentine
I love you said mum, I do
It's Valentine's day
Hearts all around
Love is in our hearts


And then we got a fantabulous delivery:

And look what was in the handbag:

A very pretty and delicious selection of cupcakes from Airy Fairy Cupcakes. Can't wait to tuck in!

After our lovely breakfast I went to have a neck and shoulder massage. I think I pulled a muscle whilst having my hair washed at the salon the other day. I have been suffering from a stiff and painful neck since and it is spreading throughout my back. I've been taking Arnica and Ibuprofen. Any other tips gratefully received!

Shortly I will be off to pick up a delivery of Shloer. Nothing better to celebrate Valentine's day with a few bottles of tasty bubbles. As it's for the monkeys and it is only Monday after all a few Shloer cocktails are the perfect treat. The monkeys call it kids champagne and even demand to have it in champagne glasses. We'll pretend we're drinking Kir Royal later.
I've been asked if I can prepare food in a heart shaped dish tonight (should have chosen that one instead of the turquoise dish); let's see if I can snap one up in the sales next week and I shall be prepared for next year!

Happy Valentine's everyone!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Turquoise Delight

I had some rather exciting post today. Usually it is just bills or unwanted marketing (even though I've signed up to eliminate this). But today I got four exciting letters and a lovely parcel courtesy of CSN Furniture Stores: a fabulous Le Creuset turquoise baking dish. I've always wanted a Le Creuset product. I think the colours are fab and apparently they are of great quality too. I've had numerous baking dishes over the years and they all seem to crack within a year of purchase so hopefully this one will last longer.

On top of that it is in my favourite colour: turquoise. I will have some friends over for dinner tonight so I might be adventurous and make something in it. And can I just say compliments to DHL this was only in transit for a day. After all the hassle I've had with Royal Mail (see previous post) in the past few months this was rather refreshing!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Kung Hei Fat Choi

Today was the day that the monkeys have been looking forward to for weeks: the day of the Chinese New Year Parade in Manchester's China Town. It's been a yearly highlight since we moved here nearly seven years ago. Over the years we had a lot of screaming with fear from either of them and there was a little anticipation again from boy monkey today but there was no need to worry as we only saw the end of the parade. No dragon in sight just some fireworks.

We went to the usual supermarket to stock up on our favourite Chinese biscuits, sweets and crackers and of course some delicious Jasmine tea.
Along the way we acquired some paper dragons and a free bottle of Amoy soy sauce that were handed out. How nice is that! I passed on the scientology newspaper; I think I can deal with my own stress. Instead got a fortune cookie, which told me that I will soon discover my hidden talent. I shall let you all know when I find out. It's not going to be singing that's for sure.

We are currently waiting for a food delivery from the best Chinese take away The Laughing Buddha in Didsbury. With that we will have started the Year of the Rabbit nicely. I love traditions and I love celebrations. Life is too short and I think the more fun things we can do the better. Next on the calendar will be Valentine's day.