Friday 7 December 2012

Early December on the Mantlepiece

Sometimes instagram doesn't do me any favours... has everyone out there got their trees up and decorated and bought or made their kids super-duper advent calendars?

Of course, I will be doing everything last minute, I promised I wouldn't, but some-how it's the 7th December and I've done NOTHING (actually I tell a lie, see point 9. below).
We'll get there, at least we don't have major home improvements going on like last year... although I do a few things happening... (see point 1. below)

This weekend I'm going to try to convince Hugh to get our tree, and do our Christmas photo so I can start this years card design. Plus I'm planning on getting my blurb order finished to hit their 10th December delivery deadline. Ok, lets see if I can do it...

In the meantime, here is the lowdown on our mantlepiece...

1.  When Liberty had their 20% off event last week I went, and money was spent, but in the lighting department on this Lee Broom crystal bulb, and I ain't giving anyone lights for Christmas (although that does give me an idea for Hugh's present).

2. I'm making some Fairy-cake kits - like the ones I did for Coco's party bags - for the school Christmas bazaar.

3. Compeed plasters, the new shoes that I mentioned here are giving me grief.

4. Our first Christmas card (typed thought semi-gritted teeth)!

5. Another nod to Christmas, Coco's advent calendar, no crafting, no chocolate, just a trad calendar. Just the way I like it... (see here for further info on my advent calendar obsession - and also a pre-mantlepiece kitchen - or check out last years advent calendar here - it was a good one).

6. Some slime Coco made at school in science week.

7. A little monster that came flat packed in the form of a birthday card for Coco.

8. It's that time of year when the thermometer is permenantly out, no point putting it away as someone esle is bound to get ill...

9. Tickets to see the Snowman ballet - very excited about this and the only real Christmassy thing I've organised so far.

10. A beautiful card made for Coco by Hugh's sister for her birthday, featuring her very own well loved teddy I've taken some close up pictures of it which I'll have to post in the next few days.

11. Parking ticket, SO SO SO annoying as I got it for parking right outside my house! Am up for a fight on this one.

12. One of Coco's thank you cards... as mentioned yesterday.

13. Need to re-arrange delivery for this parcel... and commit to spending a whole day indoors, and doing the fastest as I possibly can school runs, during which the parcel is bound to be delivered...

**I'm getting quite into my lines and dots - don't worry, I'm sure I'll be over it soon!

Thursday 6 December 2012

Two Important Words

This is the real reason I had pictures of Coco holding letters - for her 'Thank You' cards for all her fifth birthday presents. I just abused the photos a bit yesterday!

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Before 8.30am

It started well with the normal early morning visit to my bed.
The five year old asks if she can be my daughter for a long time. Yes I say.
But even when I'm ten?
Even when I'm a mummy?
Yes, forever, you'll always be my daughter.

Then, we got up.

Coco, can you get dressed please? (find her playing with cat in pj's)
Coco, can you get dressed please? No response.

Wanders back into my room, dressed but without a skirt.
Where's your skirt? No response
Go and get your skirt, it's in your room. No response
(can you just fffing get out of my hair while I get dressed and find your ffing skirt, I know where it is as I carefully placed if on the chair in your room to avoid having to ask you to put it on 20 times)

Me: Henry come on, lets change your nappy
Henry: No zank you
Me: Common Henry on the change mat (Henry legs it in opposite direction. I run after him and carry him back).
Henry: light ON light ON
Me: No Henry, lie down
Henry: light-light-light-light (I give up and hold him up so he can pull the light on - bad move I know, but my patience...)

Go into Coco's room to find her 'reading' - still with no skirt on.
Yank skirt onto her.
Chase Henry with clothes and manage to wrestle him into them.

Breakfast goes relatively smoothly with the anticipation of being able to open a window of the advent calendar.

Then more of the same ensues as I try to get coats on, bike helmets on (no zank you, says Henry again) shoes on, gloves on and out of the door.
All before 8.30am
No wonder I feel exhausted all the time, just writing all that down has tired me out.

This post is a big NOD to Charlotte's post from yesterday.
(Charlotte, I'm afraid to say, it doesn't get much easier... not yet anyway, just different). Someone told me that you actually have to repeat things three times before kids 'hear' them. Which is fine, except that it drives you mad.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

The Five Year Old's Party Bags

I had lots of ideas for Coco's party bags this year, but as normal I left it all to the last possible minute so didn't quite have the time to execute my grand plans. Plus my planned trip to Hobbycraft had to be aborted due to Coco being off school the week before, lucky for me my local supermarket had glitter glue on offer... what more does a five year old need?

This was my desk at 11.30am on Sunday morning(-2.5 hrs to party kick off)
And this is what I made...

 Cupcake kit
- Patterned fairy cake holders from Sainsbury's
- A sprinkling of gold sugar decorations in some little bags that I has from ages ago
- 12 mini trees on sticks made from old Christmas cards

Make your own Christmas decorations
 - Three wooden Christmas shapes from Zara Home
 - Two glitter glue sticks

They also got a simple Alice band and a couple of gold coins for instant gratification.
I was planning on doing a little kit to make some kind of embellishment for the Alice bands, but couldn't work out how to do it simply... will have to keep that idea for next year.
We used the same stripy orange paper bags as last year to pack all the goodies in.

As the party involved decorating their own cakes we needed some cake transportation method! These cupcake holders were Hugh's idea and were made from old cereal packets and some hoarded old Liberty bags (see, when it comes to party bag emergencies it's worth keeping everything)!

Of course as normal I had lots of family back up support - Hugh's sister and sister-in-law-to-be (lets just refer to them from now on as Mel and Georgie) baked the cakes for the girls to decorate, and helped look after Coco and Henry while me and Hugh got all the bits ready. A good team effort.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

High Five

Somehow, out of what sometimes feels like nowhere, it's happened. I'm the mother of a five year old. It was Coco's birthday last week.

She got her dolls house (the requested present) and her oil pastels, and a lovely clock too; which she doesn't seem to mind that we've put up in the kitchen, even thought it was/is meant for her room.

We had a nice evening on the day, dinner out with our friends and their kids, but of course for Coco the main event was her party. Which, really wasn't a party at all, but lucky for us, she didn't seem to notice that.

She had four friends over, we did some speedy cake decorating and then we took the bus - the top deck, naturally, to our local theatre to see Chicken Licken (during which I ended up with two children on my lap as they were scared of the fox) and then we got on another bus to Coco's favouritist restaurant (it's Franco Manca, she's got pretty good taste for a five year old) where they devoured a couple of pizzas, a tonne of olives and quite a few scoops of ice cream - while Hugh and I managed to enjoy a glass of red each - seriously, we enjoyed it, pretty unheard of for a children's party.

Coco in pre-party excited state (and delighted at having nail varnish on... against my better judgement) and tackling the serious business of getting as much sugar onto her cake as possible.

Hanging out at the bus stop, and five very busy girls waiting for pizza.

Finally we headed back to ours for a bit of a boogie to Abba and the current favourite; My Old Man's a Dustman. Then we packed the children off home with their decorated cup-cakes and my pulled together at the very last minute party bags - which I'm going to post about tomorrow!

It was the least stress / most fun birthday celebration so far - although not stress free of course. That would be a birthday party in a parallel universe.

Here's a little Coco retrospective, for old times sake:

- The first time she was featured on this blog was when she was still two, enjoying some rubber stamping (still a favourite activity).
 - Her third birthday party
 - Her fourth birthday party

PS - thanks to Amy at Tots 100 for featuring me on the Fresh five list today, I'm very honoured - and have found some nice new blogs to look at too.

Thursday 22 November 2012

What toys do your kids play with?

The other night I tidied our toy cupboard (or what used to be a lovely china cupboard, but has become a toy cupboard). This took pretty much the whole evening. 
Tidying the toys seems to be constantly on my to-do list, and it's a thank-less task (but on the up side it can be strangely therapeutic). It felt pretty good.

This time of year seems a good time to do a bit of an audit and clear out of toys, with Christmas looming and both Coco's & Henry's birthday's I know there is going to be an influx of toys coming our way.

This tidy-up session also came at the end of a day where I'd been on an almost fruitless* shopping trip to get Coco her fifth birthday present. There are SO many toys available and yet scarily few that I feel would be played with regularly, plus not drive me mad.
So as I tidied I thought about what the kids actually play with, and the answer is in a way, not much.
Yes, everything sees a bit of action, but lots of things are played with beyond the boundaries of what they were designed for....

So voila, the tidy and somewhat streamlined cupboard... and here is a little run down of the toys. It might give you ideas for your own Christmas shopping.

1. Dressing up animal masks - we have a big trunk of dressing up in Coco's bedroom, these are foam animal masks which have escaped and are downstairs for some reason. Dressing up is very popular with Coco and although I'm ashamed to say she mainly likes to be a princess, it keeps her occupied for ages and she is very adept at getting dressed/undressed. A undoubtedly useful life skill.

2. Playdoh cutters - another out of place toy, we love playdoh, lots of fun and even with Henry now we can be relatively hands off, as long as I don't get too anal about colour mixing - which I try my hardest not too!

3. Large wooden beads - these beads are Hugh vintage (I've written before about our great collection of hand-me-down toys kept by our parents). These beads came in their own vintage mincemeat tub storage pot, bonus! Great for little fingers to put beads onto shoe laces… but need an adult around, unless you want to be finding beads in corners for the next 20 years.

4. Coco's fourth birthday present was this toy camera… annoyingly I bought it in pink (pink and blue being the only choices). Not that impressed with it, wish I'd waited and bought a Nikon Coolpix S30 waterproof, kidproof, but also proper...

5. Musical toys, these are Hugh vintage and come out occasionally. They include symbols, so most of the time I wish they didn't come out.

6. Puzzles - these definitely get a lot of use but they are not solo toys, there is normally some adult interaction required, not always to do the puzzle, but to observe… we have a few Hugh vintage puzzles (am always amazed that his parents still had in tact puzzles after 4 kids and nearly 40 years). Last year Coco's 'main' present for Christmas was a giant farm puzzle from the charity shop, £6.99 - last of the big spenders!

7. Transport toys - we have a variety of push along cars/trucks etc, all have their moments, the louder the better generally. These definitely get a lot of use, but we easily have enough (in my opinion).

8. Vintage fisher price people - these are a mix of mine and Hugh's from when we were little. Coco loves playing with the fisher price school and the garage which are both at my parents house. These people probably escaped to ours via Coco's suitcase from when shes stayed there. I collected them altogether into my old Garfield lunch box (you can see where I get my hoarding tendencies from now).

9. A few baby toys packed away for when we have younger visitors and a more basic shape sorter that Henry already has sorted, as it were.

10. Spotty Dogs - Coco was given this (twice!) for her third birthday present and its great - although mainly needs to be played with an adult… she used to play it with her teddy, but not so much anymore. Orchard Toys make lots of other great games and we've given quite a few as birthday presents.

11. Things on sticks - two vintage toys, one from my childhood and one from Hughs. Both great for Henry right now, the wooden caterpillar is made by Brio - the national trust have one in their collection it turns out!

12. Doctors kits - We have two doctors kits which get sporadic use, bizarre considering that both kids can't get enough of the real thermometer. Infuriatingly both are pink. One is a Peppa Pig, which Coco got when she was a big Peppa fan, but seriously Mr toy manufacturer, I don't believe that Dr Barbie really has a pink stethoscope.

13. Stacking cups and stacking boxes - these get a lot of use. The plastic ones are Hugh vintage and we have some nice cardboard ones too. I often find them being used in the kitchen full of bits of puzzles or the fisher price people.

14. Shape sorting - The mini Hugh vintage shape sorter is GREAT. Henry loves it and it's portable and he knows all his shapes from playing with it. I'm still amazed that we haven't lost the bits as we often take it out to keep him occupied on train journeys... as we did with Coco too.

15. Soft toys and baby doll - Baby is a Hugh vintage 70's girl with a little knitted wardrobe made by Hugh's mum. She gets around a bit, but often she'll be put to bed somewhere random for a few weeks. Coco went through a big picnic phase where she'd make all her toys come to her picnic. It was cute, I'd sort of forgotten about it.

16. Pull alongs - Although we've had lots of pull along toys they don't acually get played with that much... but the horse is currenly having a bit of a renaisannse, but often just gets put in the toy buggy. Random.

And on the other side of the kitchen we find the, ahem, kitchen.
One of THE best purchases. Me and Coco made an excellent cardboard box kitchen back in the day, but then I fell for the charms of this ikea one...
A lot of cooking goes on here on a daily basis by both Henry and Coco and every other child that sets foot in our house. The Emma Bridgewater tea set has also got a lot of use and we've lost a few bits along the way, unfortunately they now only make this in the pink heart design. Boo to that.
We have a load of plastic fruit and veg, but when the pieces are together little people love chopping the wooden fruit and the wooden cakes too. 

On the floor we have a big box of the ever-popular duplo and a big stash of brio which I personally love, I have very happy memories of building elaborate track set ups when I was little, and am enjoying doing it again now. Plus both C & H seem to quite like it at the moment. Henry very sweetly congratulates himself every time he puts two pieces together.

Finally we have two Melissa & Doug toys that didn't make it into the photo, one is the latches board - Henry is just getting into it and I like it as it's one big board, no little bits to get lost, and another is the magnetic dress up dolls which Coco has played with a lot over the last year.

And then, there's all the upstairs toys... which are mostly Coco's, including the dressing up her new dolls house the playtent and her bags and purses (my daughter is a bag lady; give her a bag and she'll ram it full of all sorts of random c**p - that is really one of her favourite activities).

So that's about it. What do you think? Any ideas; what are we missing? What do your children love to play with? Please share....

 *I did manage to buy myself some shoes on the aforementioned shopping trip, which at least made it a not totally wasted trip... Oh yeah, and for her birthday Coco got some oil pastels from us, and a super-duper ebay dolls house from my parents.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Photos vs Memories

We had a little bonfire night party.
It was chaos.
Small kids running a-mock and getting excited about fire, cooking oodles of sausages and lots of (very) spicy sweet potato chips (recipe courtesy of Dizzy Loves Icy - this was my second time making them and it won't be my last) feeling light headed from drinking mulled wine and getting confused over whose glass was whose, and of course just having a nice time with friends.

And amongst the chaos I didn't take any arty photos of the food, or of the children's faces glowing in the light of the fireworks or the cold fingers wrapped around warm glasses, or even of the spooky carved pumpkins that were grinning at us. I did pick up my camera very briefly during the fireworks (as you can tell).

Because, sometimes in recording the moment the moment is just a bit less enjoyable.
I love my camera and I dream of a life that looks like a spread in Kinfolk magazine but the reality is my life doesn't look like that (except very occasionally with a bit of help from instagram).

Maybe it's better to have no photos sometimes, to rely on my memory more, or allow my memory to add the filters?
I don't want to forget anything right now, the time flies by and Henry and Coco are both changing so fast, I want to bottle it all and I suppose I worry that all the good times that aren't recorded will get forgotten.
I don't have many clear memories of my childhood - and my parents don't have many photos either, but I'm not sure if looking back at photos of events I don't remember would create a 'false' memory anyway?

Which ever way round it is, we'll never know.
I will still strive to make you all believe that my life is full of beauty and happiness* and in that way it probably will be just a little bit more beautiful and possibly a bit happier too.
And occasionally maybe I'll just revert to words instead.

*But you'll know the reality, right?

** I hadn't meant to have a bit of a blogging break, but it happens sometimes, life takes over, there are lots of things I want to post about. Just. Need. To. Find. Time.
That old chestnut!

Wednesday 31 October 2012

A Chest of Treasure

On Sunday we finally delivered this wedding present to Hugh's brother and his wife. Only one year late... Maybe we should have just called it a first anniversary present, afterall it was mostly paper (with a bit of chocolate thrown in for good measure).

The chest was bought from a craft shop near us and then me and Coco decorated it with tissue paper, jewels and some pretty off cuts of wrapping paper that had been hoarded away exactly with a task like this in mind...

It was a very fun little project to do with Coco - although of course she was just on her best behaviour as she was angling at getting hold of some chocolate coins for herself.

Quite a nice way to give away a few quid I thought!?

Monday 29 October 2012

Adventure Aborted

On Friday night with a sunny forecast for Saturday I decided that we should do something a bit different. Inspired by Lou at Little Green Shed's woodland adventures I thought it would be good to go and have a breakfast picnic in Richmond Park - I was imagining warm croissants and a big flask of coffee in the bright autumn sunshine, kicking up leaves and possibly a bit of deer spotting (Coco always insists that the deer in Richmond Park are Reindeer and nothing I say can dissuade her).

This is how the morning played out.

7.12am In that moment when I could have turned over and gone back to sleep (or pretended to at least) I didn't, I decided yes, we would do this and I got up. I showered, dressed, found wellies and coats and put them by the door, got Coco and Henry dressed and coaxed Hugh out of bed.

Partly as we'd discovered our flask was broken and partly as we are townies we decided that we'd get coffee on route along with the croissants. Coco and Henry are cereal fans so I put some weetabix in a tupperware and grabbed some milk from the fridge for them.

7.45am We are all in the car - miracles do happen.

7.48am We (ok, I) pull up at Gails bakery, Hugh convinces them to open early for him and goes in and gets the breakfast.

7.58am Back at the car... and it won't start! We are not in a parking place, I get a royal telling off from my husband for having the fans/lights/radio on and for turning the engine off. No battery power left.

The next 15 minutes is spent with Hugh pushing the car and me steering it (badly - I really let the side down for a bit there) in reverse to a proper parking place.

So no Richmond park picnic for us. Instead we went back to Gails, gave the kids their tupperware cereal and then had a full English breakfast each (every cloud...) then I took the kiddos to our everyday playground while Hugh went back and jump started the car.
We were all back home again by 9.30am.

Oh well, there's always next time... 

Warming up with a cups of milk.

Gails bakery, looking all autumnal.

Yum, hot breakfast.
And below some quite stomach turning Halloween treats not quite so yummy looking at 8.30 in the morning.

PS Coco, in her sartorial wisdom, insisted that she go bare legged for the morning. No to tights, no to leggings. I felt cold just looking at her. I was secretly hoping she'd regret her decision and then I was going to get her to write a note to herself to tell her to listen to her mother next time she was warned that she'd get cold... but she tells me she didn't get cold. So maybe she was right after all?

Friday 19 October 2012

The Birthday Mantlepiece

I always thought getting older was something that other people did. Turns out I was wrong. But as my Mum once said to me, if I think I'm old then think about how it feels to have a daughter of my age...

For more of our kitchen mantelpiece in all it's various cluttered incarnations you can now click on the label link on the left.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Coco & Teddy

This morning Coco came in to our bedroom and 6.45 with her normal question of "is it morning?" meaning is it time to get up (we really must get her her own clock).

I said it wasn't - getting up is to be avoided at all costs until 7.20am - that, in my book, is an acceptable time to get out of bed. So Coco climbed into bed with us. She cuddled up, shocking my legs with her chilly little feet and then had the cheek to complain about my breath being hot.

Then she whispered:
"I'm going to stay six forever (she is four). I don't want to be a grown up because then I won't be able to have my teddy and I love my teddy, I will always want her."

Then she got out of our bed again and went to get her teddy.

I wouldn't particularly have thought to write this as a down except that I just read the latest post by Emily over at The Beetle Shack, and I thought recording this moment will probably bring a smile to my face in years to come. So I did.

This is Coco and Teddy back in the day. Coco was three weeks old here and teddy was fluffy.

Monday 8 October 2012

Last of this years Flowers

About ten years ago I had an operation and an old friend came to see me when I'd just come out of hospital and bought me a bunch of flowers her Dad had picked for me from his garden. I really remember that small posy - it felt so nice and so personal. I quite often think of it when I cut flowers from our garden... now I have grand aspirations of giving people beautiful bunches of flowers and saying "oh, those - I just put them together from the garden"!

These are the last of the flowers from our garden, cut a few weeks ago now (in fact they can be seen in a rather more sorry state on the mantelpiece in this post).
All these glass jars were found around the house/garden during our renovations - the jam jar was in the loft and the rest in the garden.

I do want to do a full post about our garden - from overgrown, knotweed invested junk yard to ... um, garden, but it means trawling back through the last three years of photos though, so it might take a bit of time... but it would be good to get it all down while it's still fresh(ish) in my mind.

Monday 1 October 2012

Cute Boy, Cute Top

Henry is 20 months and 2 weeks.
And, in my humble opinion he is uber-cute.

Of course I should be keeping a more regular update of what he is like* but the time flies and I never quite get around to it and then the moment is passed. So instead I'll just give you a snapshot of today - one rainy morning at the beginning of October 2012.

We biked to school to drop off Coco and Henry reached out longingly when we past the playground, too wet I told him, "bit wet" he says back. When we got home he wanted to ring the "bell" this has become a bit of a routine... then he quickly got distracted with Coco's scooter which is just outside the front door, so I let him have a little 'scoooooot" up and down the road in the drizzel. He got frustrated when I wouldn't let him go all the way to the end of the road. I told him he could do the bell again, so he eventually turned back willingly.

Back at home he insisted on helping to carry the scooter in while I got the bike inside. He asked me to take off his bike helmet by saying "click click" - then he tried to take mine off for me.

As it was raining properly by this point we ended up just hanging out at home, we did lots of shape sorting, he can say most shape words, but mostly in a parrot fashion after I tell him what they are, the same with colours. He loves the nesting barrels, unscrewing them especially, when he can't twist them shut he asks me to "peas help". He played with the duplo cars, linking them together and pulling them along, we built a tower out of the stacking boxes and he did his best dirty laugh as he knocked them down again - after pointing out a few of the animals drawn on the outside.

He spent a long time 'cooking' up various little bits of plastic - that was before he helped with some real cooking - our resident health and saftey expert likes to point out everything hot and hangs around my ankles while I'm cooking a lot. I let him pour some milk into the sauce I was making and help (in the loosest sense of the word) grate some cheese - he mainly ate it. Then he played with a load of dried "'asta" on the floor - which I quickly regretted as the thing he seemed to enjoy most was spreading them all over and laughing...

He disappeared off to my 'work room' and I caught him sitting at my desk (like a mini bond villian in my swivil chair) with my pens, some pink on his face as normal - this boy loves to suck a pen, and he carried around Coco's bag and shouted 'CO CO' (he can produce serious volume when he wants to). Then he reset the washing machine dial, even as I stood there telling him not to. He cannot resist a switch, or knob or button.

After eating about half the lunch I gave him (and a lot of complaining about it being too hot, and saying "uh-oh poo" in the middle of it) I gave up and let him have a banana, which he scoffed so fast it looked like he inhaled it. By the end of lunch he was rubbing his eyes, so we went upstairs where I put him in his sleeping bag ("pop, pop, zzzzzip" - he says) and we read a couple of books over and over "again". He has only just started sitting still and looking at books in the last few weeks but is fast developing a few favourites. Current obsession is 'Where's Spot', he knows most of the animals, although insists the lion is a frog every now and then. He likes to tell me when it's "the end", and although he didn't do it today he has started to say "night night" as he knows what is coming next. Into his cot he goes with his "gwent" - an old grobag that he cuddles, we have no idea why he calls it gwent.
I shut the door and he mumbles away - if he gets too noisy or stands up I talk to him through the monitor (his very own big brother) and tell him to ssshhhhh or lie down, which he often does. He didn't do it today but he quite often points to the monitor trys to say it and then says "Daddy" instead.

Then it's an hour or so of peace for me. Phew.
So that's it - our morning - not the most thrilling; but precious, as this little boy is changing so fast, it's rare that we just happily hang out together and it was nice.

Oh, and the top, it's from Tootsa MacGinty Coco chose it when we did her school uniform shopping trip (which we actually ended up doing a few days after she started, typically)! I think it's the cutest top that I've ever bought. I found £1 in the mouth/pocket the other day too... although, I'm guessing that might have come from my purse.
*I love reading the updates that other bloggers write about their kids. Abigail writes about her little boy Theo who is about the same age and Sarah's little boy Stanley is quite similar too sometimes I feel I could just copy and paste their updates!

Friday 28 September 2012

Frame-Cluster Friday!

I'm putting this post up as part of my 'I must post some stuff about things I made' series (all part of going back to the roots of why I started this blog two years ago).

I think I've started this post a few times, as the frame-cluster photo wall in question has been up for a while... but in truth, I'm not that happy with it, I'm not sure it's very me or that it works that well... so comments and suggestions of how to improve or change it are very welcome.

Hugh and I had a lot of pictures and frames when we moved into this house but we've been pretty hesitant about putting any up. So last year I went around and gathered together all the light wood frames I could and decided we'd just whack them all up on the wall together and then decide what was going to go in the frames later...

So last April... yep that's April 2011, this happened...

A rough arrangement on the kitchen floor...

Tested out on the wall in newspaper - and then replaced with the frames.
And then... we stopped. So for about 8 months we had lots of sideways pictures on our wall. I can't quite believe it, but we are slow movers in this house.

We had various thoughts about what to put in the frames... but after 8 months of doing nothing I suddenly just got very fed up with our inability to make a descision and did something else which is quite typical of us, I opted for another interim solution. I bought some grey paper and then collected together various photos we had around and used washi tape and photo corners to make some montages. A few of the frames already had photos and mounts in - so I just left them.
I also framed our Christmas cards from 2011 and 2012 - which my Dad was very quick to tell me was a bit strange...

Here is a more 'in situ' shot - (where I've cropped out all the mess in the rest of the room).
This is how the wall has looked since my 'interim fix' earlier this year.
I don't know if I should go all out and make it all family snap shots, or find 'proper' prints. I'm not sure if I should take a few of the frames down, maybe it's just too many? What's most annoying is I don't think this is going to be making it onto Frame Cluster Friday - which, of course, is my new goal in life!

Thursday 27 September 2012

She Rides Above It

I've written about my good friend Emily and her lovely son George who sadly died at just 14 months old here before...

Well spare a thought for Emily over the next couple of days as she is cycling from London to Bristol to raise money for George's Foundation - a charity that her and George's dad Mark set up.
She will be cycling 60 miles a day, along with another two friends of mine, in this horrid September weather, carrying all their supplies with them on the bikes. If you can then please go and sponsor them here - or another way to help is to just spread the word about George's Foundation

This is what Emily wrote about doing the ride - I hope she won't mind me sharing it here with you:
"In the months after George died Mark and I did a lot of cycling, it was pretty much one of the only things that was OK for us at that time. We bought a tandem (called "Wiggo"!) on ebay and went around on it a lot. I lost count of the number of people who shouted out "she's not pedalling!" but I honestly was. The biggest ride we did was from home in London to Bristol; it was the first time I had ever done any long distance riding at all. We did it over five days, camping and carrying all the associated stuff with us. It was a big thing for us at the time and this is part of why I wanted to do this specific route again. It really means a lot to me to be doing it, all under my own steam this time but remembering that journey with Mark for everything that it helped us with at the hardest time of our lives."

Every time I think of the summer of 2008 when I used to hold Coco so tight, knowing that Emily couldn't hold George the tears just well up and sting. And each milestone that we reach with Coco - like her starting school, however hard it is for me to watch her grow, I know that it's so much harder for Emily and Mark that they can't see George growing.


The image is of a print called 'She Rides Above It' by Chase and Wonder which arrived today and is sitting on the kitchen mantelpiece while I decide where to put it (older readers may recognise it from my post about the Renegrade craft fair about a year ago).

Monday 24 September 2012

A Fantasy Shopping List

I went to Tent London, part of the London Design Festival last week and saw a few things that I wouldn't mind having in my house...
First up, I quite fancy this 'Modern London' print by Kristjana S Williams

Then I'll take two of these tall boys on the right, one for me and one for Hugh, by Invisible City - I think I'd customise the colours of the drawers though, but obviously if you're spending £7,000 on a cupboard you can do that kind of thing.

I'm sure I could provide a good home for a few of these mirrors by Alp too...

I love the idea of this dressing table by House of Eden for displaying all the jewellery that I never wear (and the bits I do too I guess).

Finally, I've seen these lights by Roussel before, and I still like them, so a couple of these in our sitting room please.

So that's my shopping list for if I ever win the lottery; although there is an old Chinese proverb I believe, something about having to play the lottery to win the lottery? I'm not sure I believe it though.

Sunday 23 September 2012

Making Ink

Yesterday we went to The Whitechapel Gallery to their 'family day' for a workshop making vegetable inks.

I've been looking forward to being able to do these kinds of things with Coco - and it was a great workshop for her, very well run by Hannah and Ken from Hato Press.
As it happened because the workshop still had space Henry and Hugh joined in too - so the ages ranged from Henry at 20 months to a girl of about 15 and it was a lovely gentle couple of hours, we even got lunch made from the bits of veg we didn't use to make the ink.

Getting serious about preparing the red cabbage...

This girl got the beetroot prep job.

Ink cooking...

And meanwhile the leftovers were getting cooked up into a seriously good soup... (recipe available in this Studio Cookbook that Ken compiled.

Check out that beetroot ink...
A straw with the end cut off at an angle makes a surprisingly effective fountain pen - who knew!?

Getting ready to have our lunch...

To anyone interested it is surprisingly easy to make vegetable inks with seriously good colour. We used:
White onions - skins only
Red onions - skins only
Beetroot - peeled
Red cabbage

For the beetroot and cabbage you add just enough water to nearly cover the veg and boil for 40 minutes - then drain and mix in some salt, about one teaspoon for half a cup of ink, the salt helps bring the colour out. You can also add malt vinegar if you want to preserve your ink.

For the onion skins you need to add more water, but apparently these don't need so long to cook - 20 minutes will do, add salt and vinegar as above.

All this was totally free, so good. We'll be back!