Monday, December 31, 2007

A voyage of discovery

Please indulge me whilst I reflect on a momentous year.

So 2007 - what were you all about then?

This time last year my Mum had started to experience some strange symptoms.

She woke up one day just before Christmas and found she could not read. She saw the words. She knew they meant something. Her brain could not decode them.

She found she could not write.

She started to have trouble saying the right words. Sometimes this had hilarious consequences and she always maintained the ability to laugh at herself.

Within a month we received a diagnosis that Mum had an aggressive and inoperable brain tumour that even with treatment might only give her 12 months to live.

She chose not have radiotherapy as this would have severley affected her quality of life. We'll never know if the chemotherapy gave us any more time.

On 31st May 2007 my wonderful Mum lost her battle against this evil cancer. She kept active, positive and dignified right up to the point where, two days before her death, she lost consciousness. I will always be thankful that she did not have to experience a distressing loss of all her physical and mental faculties as we had been warned she might.

No words could ever truly describe this amazing woman. She was the kindest and most gentle person I have ever known. She was an extremely talented artist and craftswoman. She possessed a steely self-will and the most positive outlook. She saw any situation as a challenge and her motto was very much 'It's no good feeling sorry for yourself. You've just got to get on with it'.

Below is (a very badly photographed) one of Mum's beautiful botanical drawings. She was a founder member of the Birmingham Society of Botanical Artists and made many friends there.

I am still filled with disbelief and horror that she is no longer here. However, the 41 years that I had her as my Mother were the greatest gift that I will always cherish and appreciate.

I have had to grow up this year. At times I felt I was not ready and wanted to stamp my feet and shout.

Deciding to take voluntary redundancy at Easter was the best thing I could have done. I have had time to listen to my own feelings. I have had time to heal. I have also had time to explore.

This is what brought me to blogging. Through the wonders of technology I have connected with like-minded people who offer fantastic support to any who venture into their world.

Whilst there are certain aspects of 2007 that I would prefer to draw a thick black line under I feel there has been a lot of good in there too.

I have seen my husband in a new light and my love and respect for him has grown hugely. He has been an absolute tower of strength to me this year, never criticising when the place is a tip or when I have been angry or sad.

I have realised that we can rise above the bad times and find a new way through - often in the most unexpected ways.

I have realised that you can sink or swim - and I chose to swim even though it was often just a very poor doggy paddle!

I have found new friends and been given endless love and support by old ones.

Everything that has happened in the past year has now come together and made me feel that there is much to look forward to in 2008.

I am not going to set resolutions. I usually fail miserably....and quickly!

However, having followed this link on Julie's blog I am going to choose myself a word for 2008.

My keyword for 2008 will be 'discovery'.

Maybe I'll discover the real me again under all this padding that has accumulated round my bum and tum!
Maybe I'll discover the secret to a tidy house.
Maybe I'll discover how to be a more successful budgeter!!
It'll be fun whatever I discover :)

What will your word be?

We are having a quiet evening in with a bottle of bubbly to welcome in the sparkly New Year. Whatever you are up to I hope you have a wonderful time and a healthy, happy and crafty 2008.
Lots of love Lesley xxxxxxx

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The three 'R's

I thought I'd better introduce you to the latest addition to the Moog family. As I had promised Minx a monkee of her very own she did not let up until her turquoise buddy was stitched and stuffed!

So here is the vivid fluffsome ape known as Rocky, along with his pals Ruby and Rooney:

I cannot tell you how much I admire Monkee Maker for making so many fluffy monkees. I vow to only ever make one! Nightmare to knit. Nightmare to sew up. The sewing could not have been more ironic MM!!! In fact, there is still a hole to be fixed that is haunting me!

The mouth, for some reason, flummoxed me this time around. The result? A permanently bemused expression on poor Rocky's face:

I totally chickened out of taking photos of monkees having Christmas fun as DH's family think I'm weird as it is. They also think I'm an alcoholic 'cos I enjoy the odd glass. Oh, and S-I-L considers me strange for not hitting the Next sale at 7am on 27th December to spend money I don't actually have. Weird it is then :)

Not so weird that I can't appreciate some girlie loveliness for Christmas. These are just some of my favourite bits that I found in my bulging stockings when He'd been.

I totally enjoyed my own bed last night. Especially during those bits of the night when I was awake! Soooo comfy and snuggly. My own pillow - heaven!
I even had a bit of energy to start to attack lovely things like washing and unpacking - but not for long ;)

The littlies and I have been getting fit playing tennis and baseball on the brilliant present bought for them by their very generous Grandma and Grandpa. I've never been into computer games, except for Lemmings and Bubbles but I may be a convert. In fact, I'm wondering how I can fit blogging, crafting and Wii'ing (!!!!) into my day and still feed the family. May have to drop the feeding bit ;)

After eventually tearing myself away from trying to beat the kids on the Wii I did something incredibly strong minded. I cleaned and oiled both my sewing machines!! According to the instructions this should be done once a month if the machine is used for a few hours each week - oops!

I'm very impressed with the result. Not only does my newer machine now do straight and even stitches but it has also lost it's loud thumping sound that I had assumed was built in to annoy husbands into building their wives a sewing room! I'll have to try a different tack then. Maybe I should be less fastidious about making sure I've picked up all the pins.....

How did you get your craft/sewing space? Did you have to offer special favours or did you do it by annoying your other half so much that he eventually felt the need to shut you away in a padded cell all your very own? Any tips would be gratefully received!

I am now going to sit down with a notebook and try to work out some ideas for the 100th giveaway. So far my mind is a blank but I'm working on it!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Can't keep away any longer!!!

Ooooooh, it's good to be home!

We've had a really lovely Christmas at the In-Laws'. We've been totally spoiled by my lovely Mother-in-law who went all out to make, what could for me have been a very sad and difficult time, a very joyous and relaxing family time.

Due to poorly children - first mine and then S-i-L's, creaky floorboards, squeaky doors and also not being in my own bed (something I struggle with) I have not had one even part way decent night's sleep for well over a week and am somewhat (major understatement!) sleep deprived. Now we are home I thought I'd delay the deliciousness of snuggling into my own comfy cosy bed by reconnecting with all of you out there in the real world!!

As F-i-L's study was out of bounds due to it's doubling as a bedroom I have not been near a single Internet since last Saturday!!! Maybe that's why I couldn't sleep - all those pent up ramblings with nowhere to go ;)

Ha - I shall be making up for it.

So watch out :)


Friday, December 21, 2007


We were somewhat rudely awakened in the wee small hours by a very hot and unhappy little man shouting 'I feel sick' and then he was! Sausage has succumbed to the lurg that has hit school in the past few weeks. Fortunately he hasn't been any more sick but has been very hot and poorly all day.

He's now full of drugs and taking it easy in an effort to be well enough to go up to Mother-in-law's tomorrow.

Due to lack of sleep and an even greater lack of willpower I have barely done anything today towards going away for nine days!! Mind you, the pressies are wrapped and the clothes are all washed. Just a matter of packing.

To make Monster feel a little better I thought a new friend might be in order. Someone has been waiting, disassembled, in my knitting bag for quite a few weeks now.

Any guesses?


Can you tell what it is yet?

Getting clearer?

It took me quite some time to get to this stage I can tell you. I suffered constant interruptions from Ruby Monkee, Stir Crazy Much Better Thank You Minx, the Idiot Moog and of course Monster who had (stupidly) been provided with a stick with which to communicate his needs by banging on the bedroom floor.

On a normal day I rarely go upstairs once I'm down. Today I went up 97 times - at least!

I looked like this first thing this morning. By lunchtime this was me! (I wish!!)

Anyhoo - Ruby soon cottoned on once we got to this critical stage:

'Ooh, ooh, a big butch Monkee boyfriend just for me!!'

It then got even trickier as with every bit of 'ironic stitching' the Monkee hugs became more frequent. She's a Monkee possessed. Couldn't keep her hands off him!

Due to being temporarily housebound we were unable to go shopping for suitable dried pulses with which to weigh down his generous Monkee butt and limbs.

Improvisation, as always, was the order of the day.

I had to raid Minx's bead bucket for dried pea sized beads.

Once 'full of beans' it was onwards and upwards with the ape assembly.

The first person to get a proper hug once our new friend was built was of course the poorly boy himself:

Swiftly followed by this little madam!!

We deliberated over names. Apparently it had to start with an 'R' because of Ruby. Why of course!
Robbie - nah, reminder of irritating kid in Monster's Year 1 class.
Rudy - nah, too much like Ruby. We'd only get confused.
Rodney - are you kidding!
Then Minx saved the day. Everyone agreed.
Disclaimer: In the unlikely event that members of a certain Mr Rooney's family happen to read this blog the Monkee's name was thought up by a very cute 6 year old girl and seconded by a very cute and poorly 8 year old boy. So sue me!!
Something then transpired at Moog Towers. It seems Monkee Mania has well and truly broken out. Minx of course now wants her very own Monkee made of knit. We looked through my three bags and one large box of wool. Nah, nothing appealed.
So of course, the very second Mr Moog walked in we were through the door and down to the wool shop faster than you can say 'Four balls of your finest acrylic Monkee yarn please Mrs Wool Lady'.

Minx fancies fluffy turquoise. I have a feeling it may end up looking like this!!
I have decided that of course we need another and have gone for the jazzy rainbow effect!
Thanks to MM and her t'riffic downsizing calculation tips I will be making Minx a Ruby sized primate :) Edited to say: Who am I kidding?!!! I spent all of three minutes with the calculator, got very confused, got very cross with it and have now told Minx she'll have an enormous fluffsome Rooney-sized Monkee whether she likes it or not - so there! If ever you decide to publish a pattern MM I'll be beating my way to the front of the queue!!!

We also purchased some supplies for Monster's crochet blanket.
Ooh, ooh before I forget - I TOTALLY FINISHED MINX'S BLANKET LAST NIGHT ends all sewn in and wrapped ready for Christmas!!!

Minx insisted we bake some of these:
She also made me a flower out of a large chocolate coin wrapper to 'Cheer me up' - ie' to stop me being such a grumpy old bat!!!

Nice manicure I have there!
So folks, I shall take my leave. We are off to the in-laws' tomorrow and will be away for 9 days. I don't know what the broadband situation is there so may not be able to blog. Then again I dare say one or two of you may not either!!!
I would just like to say:
and thank you all so much for making me so welcome in Blogland.
Wishing you all the happiest of times and I look forward to being back and playing again very soon.
Lesley xxxxxxxxxx
p.s. as this is post number 96 get ready for a bit of a giveaway when I return :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Spoilt rotten!!

Something really rather lovely was sitting in our letter box today!

I've been expecting this as Lucy had told me it was on it's way. Exercising enormous self control I waited until I'd got the camera ready before tearing it open.

Oooooh, what's all this?

Why, it's a whole big beautiful heap of lovely loveliness - look:

I have seriously coveted Lucy's beautiful handmade wallets for some time and am so excited that I have got one!!! I love this fabric. My tatty old wallet is ditched and this baby is now in my bag and ready to shop :)

This beautiful Belle and Boo picture that I had admired when Locket ordered one. This is going to be framed for me:)

Beautiful Christmas decorations:

A bag of patchwork fabrics - can't wait to get stuck into these!

A gorgeous mixed fibre and beaded brooch in stunning colours:

One of these for Moogs family from the Lockets:

This was my favourite Monkee card when Monkee Maker first posted them on her blog.
Just look at this absolutely adorable bag for Minxie:

It has the most beautiful stitchery on the front although I don't seem to have photographed it too well - doh!
I have to say a huge THANK YOU to Lucy. You have totally spoiled me and I am very very excited about all of those lovely goodies. I don't want to do any housework now (no surprises there then!) - I'd rather sit and gaze at my pressies :)
The postman also bought a card from my very funny and lovely friend Maggie. I thought you all might appreciate it too!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lurking around whilst pretending to nurse the Minx

See, I can't do sitting still relaxing.

It's not because I'm some superslim whirlwind of an efficient woman.

It's because I am my Mother's daughter and my Aunties' niece!!

As a family failing I suppose it could be worse.

There are times, however, when I miss 'the moment' and instead of snuggling up on the sofa with Minx/Sausage/Moog I'm finding reasons to be 'Full of Busy' as Patti so beautifully puts it.

Maybe I need to learn to chill..... and while I'm doing it I could do a bit of sewing/knitting/crochet/reading!!

Minx and I were very touched by all your good wishes yesterday.

I rarely take the children to the doctor's with coughs and colds because:
- I'll get told 'it's a cough/cold'
- I'm Mrs Tooscaredtowastebusypeople'stime
- I'm a neglectful parent

Ears are different. Minx had a series of ear infections as a baby and I don't like to risk it with ears.

So we went to the doctor's last night and Minxie is actually properly poorly. She has an ear infection in her right ear and is now on gorgeous radioactiveyellow antibiotic medicine. No drinking wine for her then!

She spent today at home and has missed out on the last day of term and parties and fun.

We did pop into school this morning with the teacher's present however - a Dammit Doll and the embroidered coaster. Her teacher rushed up from the classroom to thank us and was really excited to have a Dammit Doll of her very own as she was coveting the one we gave to Minx's Year 1 teacher. She was so excited about the doll that she hadn't noticed the coaster - much to Minx's disgust.

Her teacher also gave us Minx's Christmas cards from her classmates. This is our favourite:

Is it me or is puss not entirely happy with the whole 'Cat as Rudolph' thing?

We had to pop to the shops again. Here is today's 'baked' offering:

Apart from fixing some ripped seams on school trousers and crocheting another four stripes on Monster's blanket it has been a day devoid of craft.

I did squeeze in a bit of lurking ;)

How about these labels for this year's Christmas gifts? Too late for ours as we, in true superhuman fashion, wrapped everything last night! I've saved a copy for next year - if I remember in 12 months time!!

Mrs Locket has posted a whole lot of dolly goodness for us to drool over!

Then there's Julie who's been playing with her embellisher and making me very envious as all I want to do is play too!

I'm also going to have to go back to Gina's for another good look!

As I'm becoming a bit heavy on the exclamation marks I feel it may be time for me to MOVE AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER and maybe drink a little of this:

Cheers you lovely bloggers xxxxx

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

All done and ready to wrap!

I totally missed out on playing dinner ladies today :(

This little pink person woke up very tearfully at 10 o'clock last night with a very poorly ear.

Despite the fact that she has had to miss out on being Gate Buddy (where the older children get to help the littlies into school), plus both Christmas dinner and school disco she preferred to stay home with snarly growly mummy!

Whilst I sewed she watched Daily Mail freebie kids' DVD's (given to them by Grandad)- only the best ;) She also played a game of 'how loud can I turn the volume up to drown out the sound of the sewing machine' - our poor neighbour will definately have needed her ear defenders today!!!

I absolutely had to get out to the post office and the bank so we wrapped up warm. A need to buy medicines to drug her up with also led us into our local Sainsbury's home store. The medicine ended up costing over £30 due to having my shopaholic daughter with me!

She came home with Calpol, Ibuprofen, Ultrabalm tissues, 2 pairs of jeans (£6 a pair sweatshop ones), 2 pairs of gloves (£1 a pair even sweatier sweatshop ones) and a pair of fluffy pink slippers. In addition her brother now has a new school coat - £6!!!! and two pairs of gloves and will no doubt bend my ear about not having slippers too - they didn't have his size, alright!

Just to make sure she realised that being at home rather than school is not a soft option I dragged her into the Co-op on the way home for some essentials.

She had a good idea:

So maybe home is a soft option after all :)

I had to get my sewing finished today and have managed to do just that. Three aprons. All finished and ready to be parcelled up for Christmas.

Now maybe I can get some more of this psychedelic wonder done:

It's not quite 2ft long and needs to be about 6ft. By my reckoning that will be about 9 stripes a day between now and Christmas Eve and then there are the ends to sew in on this one and on the pink ripple. I may not quite get there!!!

Now I really should go and snuggle up with my earachey daughter. Oh good, she's watching a non-Disney version of Little Mermaid - marvellous!

Monday, December 17, 2007

As long as you don't tell me it's Christmas Eve in a week's time I'll be fine!

I hope you all had a great weekend and that the Christmas preparations aren't driving you totally mad! We seem to have spent our whole weekend ferrying the children to their football and dancing activities. Minx was in a Christmas dance show yesterday and was a real star strutting her funky stuff to the Spice Girls.

They finish school on Wednesday and I can't wait as they are getting impossible to motivate in the morning. The shouting must have been bad this morning as I saw my neighbour wearing ear defenders! (That was a joke by the way;)) (the ear defenders bit) (not the shouting).

Ho hum.

I've been asked by Clothears for a run down on making the fabric scarf so here goes.

Cut two pieces of fabric approximately 146cm by 27cm - this includes 1cm seam allowances. Pin together with right sides facing. Starting on one of the short sides stitch all the way around, leaving a gap of approx. 10cm to turn through. After turning through and pressing, topstitch all the way around.

To work out where to put the button and buttonhole drape the scarf around your neck (if you start to turn blue it's too tight!!). Mark positions of button and buttonhole with pins or fabric marker.

Work a large buttonhole on one end of the scarf and stitch a button to the other end.

Tra la - done. As they used to say on the Generation Game - 'that's all there is to it!'

That was the simplest way. I made my scarf by using contrasting fabrics on the top piece. You could play for ever with patchwork/applique - ooh my, I have a head full of ideas now!! Can you imagine patchworked velvets or appliqued wools?

My lovely friend Kayla came round for a cuppa this morning and look at the fab goodies she bought with her. I haven't tried them yet but I may have to draw straws to help decide which one to have first as they both look yummy. I love the name she's given herself - Mamma K!!

Crafty wise I whipped up this little appliqued and fabric painted fairy for a cushion (don't look too closely at her dodgily painted arms and legs!)

and I finally managed to finish this little lot. These pillows are presents for my two beasties, my nephews and niece. They've been made for ages but I had to sew buttons on and make cushion pads for them today. I may have to buy a good yardage of wrapping paper!

I have also framed Minx's first embroidery and will wrap it for Christmas.

I've checked my list and the only sewing I have to do now is three children's aprons. If I feel the urge I may make some cuddly toys or then again I may try to get my poor neglected house back into some semblance of order!!

I'll post a photo of Monster's 'it'll never get finished in time for Christmas' crocheted blanket tomorrow. I may have to do a few more rows tonight when he's asleep. It's not even half done, it's eating wool and I can't find the same colours at the wool shop - aagh! It may have to be half stripy and half plain and I'll have to pretend that's how it was meant to be ;)

As 'the guvna' I've been invited into Minx's school to help serve and then eat a Christmas dinner tomorrow. Minx has just been dosed up with drugs as she is full of cold and has had a hot flush. She can't miss tomorrow - Christmas dinner and the school disco - highlights of her school year!! I also can't miss the opportunity to don a sparkly Santa hat and serve food to 256 hungry noisy monkeys ;)

Friday, December 14, 2007

A bit more tickage and an achey back

It was that Lucy Locket woman who got me started on this idea of publishing my to do lists on the blog - so if you're getting bored with my lists you know who to blame!

I have to agree with Lucy though that it is great discipline and I am getting more done as a result. However, the housework has taken a back seat. Well, not so much a back seat as a very dodgily attached trailer that is about to become uncoupled and career off down a ravine into a big messy heap of laundry, papers, shoes and dust!!!!!!

The updated lists that you are all desperate to see:

Stitch Dachsund applique
Stitch initials on aprons
Transfer children's drawings onto coaster fabric
embroider coasters

cut out fairy cushion - finished Mon 17th
paint fairy on cushion front - finished Mon 17th

Sewing up:
12 tablemats
8 tablemats

3 aprons
1 shopping bag
2 dammit dolls
1 cushion
1 scarf
4 coasters

fairy cushion - finished Mon 17th

embroider dammit doll faces
fix dammit doll poems on to dolls
fix button on scarf

sew buttons onto 4 reading pillows - finished Mon 17th
Make cushion pads for 4 reading pillows and fairy pillow - finished Mon 17th
Monster's crochet blanket
Sew ends in on Minx's crochet blanket

Mother-in-law's 12 tablemats finished:

Sister-in-law's 8 tablemats finished:

Applique letters stitched onto apron pockets:

Mother-in-law's fabric scarf finished:

I've now decided to put the sewing machine away for the evening as I'm likely to make mistakes if I sew any more today.Also my back is telling me I've been sitting on an uncomfortable dining chair for far too long!

I got this beautiful handmade card from the lovely Julie today who has ordered a dammit doll and some corsages from me. She also sent some gorgeous pieces of lace that are going to be carefully stashed and thought about ready to be made into something special for me - after Christmas! Thank you Julie - it made my day :) This card is one I shall keep and most probably

put into a frame for future Christmasses.

Once those dreadfully naughty children were home from school the Monster decided to cover the lounge carpet with K'Nex and built this menora to add to our Christmas decorations. He's also made me a bunch of K'Nex snowflakes that we are going to make into a garland to hang the Christmas cards on.

I now have to take my leave as Minx has just informed me she would like to make six saddles for various sized ponies. Having said 'No, in a minute' for the past few days I feel I should oblige!
Looks like the sewing machine is coming out again! Is it bedtime yet??
Edited to say:
Half an hour later her wish was my command!!!

Now don't get the wrong idea and start thinking I'm some sort of Supermommy - it's just that I have my moments ........with huge gaps in between ;)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tick, tick, tick

Minx's nativity was lovely this morning and she made a very good and very smiley Mary. For some reason she was made to wear a green hairband round her head (?) and ended up with a Bjorn Borg hairdo!

The nativity is held in the church opposite the school and it is always a lovely event. To me, it really signifies the start of the Christmas festivities. I am so pleased that the school still do a nativity and have not got caught up in this politically correct nonsense that prevents so many UK schools from celebrating this Christian festival.

What is perhaps the best thing of all is seeing the faces of the parents and grandparents as they leave the church. Everyone shares in the joy of seeing those earnest, innocent little people acting out the Christmas story unencumbered by silly 'grown-up' opinions or prejudices. Beautiful.

Once I was back it was straight into the sewing. It has made such a difference having everything cut out and ready to go. As a result I've managed to tick a few more jobs off the lists.
I've also had to add a couple of things on!

Stitch Dachsund applique
Stitch initials on aprons
Transfer children's drawings onto coaster fabric
embroider coasters

cut out fairy cushion
paint fairy on cushion front

Sewing up:
12 tablemats - fronts done, need to stitch fronts to backs & topstitch
8 tablemats
3 aprons
1 shopping bag
2 dammit dolls
1 cushion
1 scarf
4 coasters
fairy cushion

embroider dammit doll faces
fix dammit doll poems on to dolls

fix button on scarf
sew buttons onto 4 reading pillows
Make cushion pads for 4 reading pillows and fairy pillow
Monster's crochet blanket
Sew ends in on Minx's crochet blanket

Coasters finished:

Shopping bag for Mother-in-Law finished:

Cushion cover for little nephew's present finished:

Front panels of twelve tablemats for Mother-in-Law finished:

2 Dammit Dolls for teachers' presents finished:

As Moogsdad is out, with his Five-a-side footie mates, for a Christmas curry tonight, I'll be able to do a bit more sewing without worrying about the noise of the sewing machine disturbing his televisual relaxation. Once the little darlings are in bed I'll get on with finishing the table mats.

It's amazing how one good day of sewing can make everything seem, somehow, more achievable. At this rate I may even get time next week to really go for it with the crochet on Monster's blanket :)

I've hardly looked at the computer today or lurked around in blogland. If I'm awake early tomorrow I'll have to catch up - I still need my fix after all ;)

DH must have realised how addicted I am. He told me he needs to find out if his Dad has managed to get his broadband connection sorted out yet because if he has I'll still be able to blog while we are staying with the in-laws over Christmas!!!! Love that man :)