Friday, 28 January 2011

Scrap Bag Friends

I have a little boy who is very creative and who loves drawing and making. He confidently asserts that he wants to be an artist when he's older and that makes me proud (interestingly I always assumed an artist needed God given talent alone and so was something mere mortals couldn't aspire to. I'm finding it liberating that actually it's more about effort and constant practice than talent. And it's about way more than portrait painting. It makes me happy that Charlie will have more options than me)

Anyway, he's pretty good at hand sewing (running and back stitch) and loves designing things made from the bits he finds in the scrap bag.

This is his latest creation, and he's very taken with it. Charlie sat on my lap and used the sewing machine (I worked the pedal). I helped with the eyes and button nose, but otherwise the work is his own. Bless him. Not bad for a 5 year old. The new teddy is going to school today so that Charlie can talk about how he made him in Show and Tell.

I'm quite tempted to chuck out my scrap bag now and see what other characters I can create!

Wishing you a creative day too

Claire x

Scrap Bag Friends

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

50 Things

Good afternoon blogland! I'm not feeling brilliant today so haven't been crafting much. I have been sent this link, so I thought it'd make an interesting blog post for today. So <deep breath> here goes:

1. What time did you get up this morning? 5.30. I overdid it yesterday and was sore and hurty. Not the most auspicious start to the day.

2. How do you like your steak? Pretty much raw. Just bash it on the head and lead it to my plate, I say.

3. What was the last film you saw in the Cinema? Up! It was good, but I mainly slept whilst Dom wept. Whoops!

4. What is your favourite tv show? CSI, Silent Witness, Midsomer Murders, Edwardian Farm, Waking The Dead. I love grisly crime shows.

5. Where would you like to live if you could choose anywhere in the world? I don't know because I haven't travelled much. Somewhere rural and away from other people. I like my own space to the point of being antisocial in real life.

6. What did you have for breakfast? Weetabix. And a large self pitying slice of chocolate cake with cream at about 11am when I realised I was likely to feel rubbish for the day.

7. What is your favourite cuisine? I like good food from all over the world - it's so hard to make me choose, it's like being asked which is your favourite child! I'm not hugely keen on hot, spicy food. I do love traditional British food.

8. What food do you dislike? Raw tomatoes (ick) and peanuts

9. Place to eat? At home, the best restaurant in town.

10. Most annoying habit? I'm untidy. Being tidy takes great effort and I can always, always find something more enjoyable to do.

11. you are....? A dreamer

12. Favourite clothes? Jeans and tops. Comfort is key but I do like brightly coloured, quirky tops.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Rome. My husband feels a real connection with the place and I've never been.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? Always 1/2 full.

15. Where would you want to retire? Somewhere sunny, warm and laid back

16. Favourite time of day? When you first snuggle into bed and relax. Especially if you're cuddling.

17. Where were you born? Worcestershire

18. What is your favourite sport to watch? Football. I don't follow normal games, but I like the internationals and get rather too involved.

19. Bird Watcher? Yes- we have fab (and rare) birds here in East Yorkshire

20. Morning person or night person? Definitely morning.

21. Do you have any pets? Two cats, TC and Jess, 11 chickens, 1 bantam and 100,000 odd bees

22. What did you want to be when you were little? I wanted to be like my mum when I was little. From about 12 I wanted to be a journalist.

23. What is your best childhood memory? Sunday school day trips to the seaside. Very old fashioned and very exciting.

24. Cat or dog person? Cat, definitely

25. Married? Yes, for 8 years this year. Best thing I ever did.

26. Always wear your seatbelt? Yes

27. Been in a car accident? Yes, a big motorway one, just the children and I. We didn't have any serious injuries, thankfully. It was a hideous and very scary experience.

28. Any pet peeves? Royal Mail. They are completely and utterly USELESS and I wish there was a viable alternative.

29. Favourite pizza topping? Ham and pineapple. So kitsch!

30. Favourite flower? I tend to like cottage garden flowers. Daffodils are fab because I'm always wanting signs of spring at that time of year. I'm drawn toward daisies mainly.

31. Favourite ice cream? Mint choc chip, but I'm not fussy!

32. How many times did you fail your driving test? Once. I was 22, a student, and 8 weeks pregnant with Jonathan so was feeling pretty vulnerable . I was completely over emotional and underprepared. I took it way too personally.

33. From whom did you get your last email?
From a friend about my money tree book

34. Do anything spontaneous lately?
My crafting this week. I've been trying to just open my mind and play rather than working out what's going to sell etc etc. I'm loving it! I'm definitely going to build more play time into my schedule in future.

35. Like your job? God, I adore it. I realised today I'd still spend my days making stuff even if I didn't sell it. You can't say more than that, can you?

36. Which store would you use to max out your credit card? eBay or Amazon. I hate trudging around the shops but I love buying stuff online. My postman gets weary of my habit.

37. Broccoli? Yum, yes please. We've got it for dinner tonight with sausages and jacket potatoes

38. Favourite vacation? As a family, Coombe Mill in Cornwall in February. We stayed in a cosy lodge on a farm and got up every day to feed the animals.

As a couple, it'd have to be our honeymoon in Jamaica. I'd love to be able to spend that sort of time together with Dom. I still adore him every bit as much, and more <vomit>

39. Last person you went out to dinner with? my parents, brother, aunt and cousin. It was lovely to catch up with my brother, Mark and my Aunt and cousin. I don't see them anywhere near enough.

40. What are you listening to right now? Radio 4 and audiobooks mainly.

41. Favourite colour? Scarlet.

42. How many tattoos do you have? None

43. How many are you tagging for this quiz? Anyone that would like to take part. Please feel free to add your comments or send me your links, I love a good nosey!

44. Coffee drinker? Yes but I prefer tea most of the time.

45. Smoker? No. Had a bit of a fling with smoking before I met Dom.

46. Irritating habit? Rubbing my feet together when I'm going to sleep. I'm not aware I'm doing it but it drives Dom mad!

47. Guilty pleasure? Too many to mention. Just the way I like it ;-)

48. Frustrated...? Designer. I'll get there one day...

49. Favourite game? Monkey Island and the like

50. Coast or inland? Coast. I am drawn to water, must be the pisces in me!

Go on, have a go, we would all love to read your answers!

Claire x

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Play Time!


Hello gang, how are you doing? Well I hope? Quite a lot of my friends seem down in the dumps at the moment, I'm not sure if it's just that January feeling. I really wish I had a magic wand. Me, I'm doing quite well actually. I don't feel ill right now, just completely knackered. However, there's no shame in having a leeetle daytime rest is there? Good. I might take you up on that later ;o)

Today's opening picture is called 'anticipation'. It really made me smile. I found it on Sunday. Charlie's school have introduced a breakfast club where one can go for a half hour play before school plus juice, cereal and toast or a yoghurt. All for a bargain sum of 50p. Charlie was so very excited about having his breakfast at school and found it very difficult to wait. I was very touched to notice he'd written "tomorrow" on the school letter, unprompted, as he was counting down. And a heart. So sweet.

This week is a very special week for me, and I wish I had a bit more energy for it. My Doctor Who scarf is blocking, my orders have been made and posted and so I have that very rare combination of some time to myself and nothing to do. So I have been playing.

I have been pondering making textile pictures for some time. My notebooks are also very popular. It was natural that I would use these media to play with, I think. I've also been considering doing some craft fairs, and I suspect they're the sort of thing that would sell.

Looking for inspiration, I asked my Facebook friends for their favourite lyrics or film quotes. I got loads of brilliant ones, and have tucked away a few for future reference. Then, completely by chance, my friend Deb put this as her status update: "Wish I had a money tree so Andy could work less hours. We'd love to see more of him and his beard!"

Which inspired this:

Money tree front

It gave me a chance to play with my newly found love of machine embroidery - bliss. My favourite bit is the texture on the trunk and the apple button that's fallen off the tree. The sentiment is for my lovely husband, Dom.

The back of the notebook can't be plain. So look what fell out of the sky of inspiration:

Money tree back

I suspect we'll be seeing more of that apple motif. I'm quite taken with it.

I wanted the notebook to be practical too. So I made three flaps for holding folded paper, tickets, photos or postcards. Plus two business card holders - one for your cards and one for other people's.

Money tree inside

What do you think? Do you like it? I'm planning to spend the whole week playing - it's a really liberating experience. I'll post the fruits of my labour - good and bad - as I go through the week.

If you want to help inspire the creative tangle in my head, please drop me a note with your favourite lyric, film quote or saying. I'll happily credit you with the inspiration and add a link back to your blog, if you wish.

Sending you lots of creative vibes

Claire x


Saturday, 22 January 2011

More Experimenting

More Experimenting



Saturdays are a lazy affair at The Cottage, especially in winter. Jonny always goes to football training, so often Dom goes with him taking a flask of coffee and reads in the car.

Today, Jonny was at a friend's house for a sleepover. Instead Dom, Charlie and I rolled out of bed late and trundled down to our local garden centre, Sandhills, for a mug of tea and a bacon sandwich. Yum.

Sandhills is one of those places that sums up our weekends. It's a pretty relaxed, run down even, sort of place but the food is good. I like to spend an hour wondering amongst the flowers whilst Charlie plays in the play area. They have pet sheep and chickens, giant rabbits and a pet shop next door with parrots and tortoises. You don't need to dress up, or wear make up, and everyone is polite but distant enough for early morning anonymity. Just the place for a young family to enjoy mooching.

This afternoon I will finish the tassles on my Doctor Who scarf and block it - the taa-daa picture will come soon. I had an order last night for eight metres of pirate bunting, so I have a date this afternoon with a mug of tea, my sewing machine and radio 4.

Dom will clean out and feed the chickens, check the bees are OK and get on with some DIY jobs around the house.

Saturdays here are a quiet, home based affair. I'm glad we don't go shopping or other traditional Saturday pursuits; there's something very lovely in marking time in this slow, domestic, cosy way of ours. Soon it will be time for working in the garden; I'm enjoying the chance to laze around whilst it lasts.

Claire x

PS Lucy at Attic 24 has a fab recipe on her blog for cheesy nibbles. I may have a go at baking these this afternoon.



Thursday, 20 January 2011

Is it wrong for boys to have handbags?

Is it wrong for boys to have handbags?

My lovely little boy has very much been his own character since he was born. He's uncompromising. He's also fun, creative, kind, loving and well mannered (most of the time, but we're working on it).

Right now Charlie is rather obsessed by handbags. He has one of his own that he likes to take out of the house with him - a boxy, velvet evening bag with a beaded clasp. It's mainly a mode of transport for Pippy, his favourite bunny. However, you can often find tissues and sweeties in there too given half a chance. However the handbag obsession doesn't end there - he draws and designs them, cuts pieces of bag out of the scraps in my scrapbag, and has a good go at sewing them up too (he has a good go at running stitch. We're not quite there yet, but he's only five)

Anyway, do you think it's wrong for a boy to have a handbag in public? Part of me thinks if it makes him happy then booyasucks to everyone else. However, I have this nagging doubt at the back of my mind that it's something I should discourage...


Is it wrong for boys to have handbags?

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Blue Sky Thinking

Blue Sky Thinking

It's been the most gloriously sunny, ice cold day here in East Yorkshire. The sun has been low and dazzling and the shadows long. What a welcome relief to see you again, sunshine! And how thrilled am I at the prospect of starting to see more of you?!

These quiet, still days of January are a blessing. I am trying to exercise my creative brain and think of new spring and summer ideas - it's quite a challenge! At first it feels like dragging a sledge across grass, but once it builds up momentum, oh boy, it's hard to stop! It's hard to capture spring and summer properly when it's so dark and chilly without resorting to cliche. This year I'll take more photos!

This morning I spent a blissful couple of hours clipping magazines and seed catalogues for inspiration whilst listening to Woman's Hour on Radio 4 and thinking it must surely be more contemporary now than it was in my mother's day! My sketch book has been glued and annotated to within an inch of it's life and the blurry fug of ideas are becoming more refined each day. I really, truly want to make things completely original and unique, which is a fine line. I'm inspired by others; I don't clip individual artists or crafters because I'm scared of over borrowing their ideas. Who knows where the things I see end up in my head and where they come out.

My crafting hours are currently taken by a custom order for a scarf like Tom Baker wore on Doctor Who. My goodness it's taking some work! However it's all a simple garter stitch which let's me flow with it's rhythm without having to concentrate too hard. The colours are masculinely autumnal - not my first choice I thought, at first. But do you know, the more I have worked them, the more they seem so right together. Reds and golds, purples, khaki and stone - it has a mood of it's own and it works well with the golden, bright sunshine of a winters afternoon.

Speaking of which, the boys are home and I have a cup of tea waiting and a new copy of Country Living to peruse. Next time I get gloomy about winter I'll look back on this post and remember it's not all so bad, whilst keeping my eyes peeled for daffodil shoots and tree buds and the birds singing in the trees...


Blue Sky Thinking

Blue Sky Thinking

Monday, 10 January 2011

'Just Do It' week


I am not the world's most organised person. I mostly like to sit around and make things and do stuff that I enjoy. I don't think so much about the stuff I don't. My home is prone to untidiness, much to the irritation of my slightly OCD husband. I am also rubbish at getting jobs done, and very talented at procrastinating. If it were an Olympic sport, I would represent England.

The only way I can cope with it all, to be honest, is to make like Nike and have a JFDI week from time to time. I used to call them OOTS weeks (out of the sh**); slightly more descriptive, but the idea is the same.

This week I WILL get those irritating jobs done that I like to put off. I WILL return the broken Soda Stream that led to a disappointing Christmas day. I willl freeze the casserole and roast the pork. Most important of all, I guess, I have some personal things that are long overdue - I'm having a smear, I've got my hair cut and coloured (BIG sigh of relief), I'm going to the dentist and so on. None of these are much fun, and some of them are expensive. However, I'm thinking of JFDI weeks a bit like my annual MOT. I should probably get my eyes tested too.

I've made a cup of tea and I have some crocheting to do, so I'm going to have a leetle break for now, but I am going to JFDI, just mark my words. And if you see me anywhere on line, please give me a big kick up the backside. I thank you.

Claire x

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Missing my little boy

Back to school


I have longed for the day when the boys went back to school. Jonny is not much bother these days - he likes to hang out in his bedroom with his mates and chat on Facebook when he's alone. Charlie, however has driven me mad! He's been so well behaved over Christmas, but wants my attention constantly and follows me around with his DS playing that irritating tinny noise. I can't tell you how much I've craved for my own space and some peace and quiet.

The last couple of days have seen a resurgence of Diva-ness. He's prone to diva strops anyway, but I knew when he started designing his own handbags that things weren't looking good. I'm being perfectly serious about the handbags too - we even sewed one up, after he cut out the pieces without help from me, from bits of scrap fleece he found in my rag bag. It was pretty good too! Although possibly not a great indicator of future neediness. Bugger.

This morning we were strops-a-go-go. He'd had fun yesterday with Jonny and was up in the night looking forward to them playing again today. By 7am he was stropping because he wanted to play Mario online and we couldn't get connected. Then he was crying because he was worried he'd be badly behaved at school and grounded from doing the things he likes doing. Then I told him off because he shouted at me that he "didn't care" whilst crossing his arms and flouncing like Louie Spence.And so it went on.

Eventually it all ended with a ginormous meltdown, and a good half hour of sobbing and cuddles, and me with a very wet T shirt. Bless him. He's happy at school, but he finds change difficult. I think post Christmas is quite hard for small children too - after the mad excitement of December, and the complete indulgence of Christmas we somehow expect them to know that it won't last forever and they're to go back to the way they were in October. It's tough.

I eventually persuaded him to go to school with a scrap of fake fur in his pocket that he could feel whenever he wanted a hug. I even rubbed it around my neck so that it smelled of my perfume. He seemed extremely happy and went to school without too much problem after that, except for the odd wobbly deep breath and red eyes.

It's madness that I'm sitting here feeling bereft without him, isn't it? Why is motherhood so emotionally demanding? His teacher was kind and understanding and made light of the situation (Charlie showed her his fur piece and she made it into a beard, which he thought was hilarious) and he was happy when I left. But somehow I'm worried that the teacher was not sympathetic enough and that she thinks I overindulge Charlie or, worst still, that I am barking mad. Maybe I am.

I took the photo above when he wouldn't stop crying to show him how sad his face was and how sad that was making me. It bloody well worked too - he stopped! Astounded. I made him smile, despite his best resolution not to, by saying "bum." It's nice to see that some of the simple rules of boyhood don't change. Now it's time for me to pack my ovaries away, pull myself together and get on with the day without missing him too much. Little sod.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Jumping Back In

Day 1 : Frog or Finish* Organise, Create

Day 1 : Frog or Finish


Well hello, Blogland. It's been a while, hasn't it?! I've missed you.

It's been a strange year 2010, pretty difficult but also pretty positive. I started off suicidally depressed and ended up, well, almost normal. I've made a lot of things along the way, and I've learned a lot about myself. I spent quite a lot of it in therapy, I got used to the discipline of using my Lady Shed / studio every day. From nowhere I've built up a lovely little business almost without knowing how it happened; I've just been doing what I love and what feels right. I've swapped the diagnosis of depression for that of ME / CFS (and I actually think they both were accurate) and I'm learning how to manage the CFS and am having more and more good days. I would say that I'm almost back to normal, health wise, except for the medication and crutches. However, I suspect I have invoked the Law of Sod as today I feel crappy. You've gotta laugh.

I feel the need to explain my absence from the blog in recent weeks. When I first crashed and burned I needed to understand what was happening to me - and the best way I could do this was by blogging. I didn't want to talk to others, you know - the real life people, and so it was great to analyse my feelings on here. Gradually more and more folks started to follow the blog and I got performance anxiety - I needed the blogland version of Viagra. When you hear that others are struggling too it feels wrong to just talk about the positives, and a bit... erm... depressing to carry on just about the negatives. So I wasn't quite sure what to write about.

Also - and I'm not sure if this is common with those recovering from depression - I suddenly felt the need to be very private. Much more private than I have ever been before. Like a fresh, naked plant shoots from the earth I wanted to protect myself and I wanted to be alone. This has been tricky for my extended family because I've not wanted to be with them either. Just me, my husband and my boys. And my fabulous online friends who have only ever accepted me for being me and have never questioned my absences or the times when I went over the top.

Anyway, right now 2011 feels a bit scary. I'm guessing it's the first time that I have properly planned forwards. Christmas was lovely in bits, and tense at times. I'm looking forward to time alone to look at my goals.

I'm not setting new year's resolutions because I am still doing the 101 in 1001 project. I'll review that here soon. However, I have chosen three themes to work on every day - I want to be:

Creative, Organised and Kind <3

Each day I will endeavour to do one of the three and take a photo.

Creativity is important to me because I feel the urge, deep down in my soul, to make things. I also hope to do a textiles degree in 2012 (I need to save up first!) This year will be about experimentation and preparation for the bigger goal of my degree. Also, the creativity works it's magic and makes me feel happier, more relaxed and healthier. Therefore, it's currently a priority in my life.

being Organised is key to me achieving my goals. I'm not the most organised woman in the world. Hell, I'm actually spectacularly DISORGANISED.  I find personal organisation really challenging. However, in order to reach my goals I know I have to get my head around it. This includes practical things - like organising my deadlines, my studio space and paying off our credit card so that I have more choices.

Kindness is very important to me too. I'd like to think I do a reasonable job at being kind to my family and friends, but I want to increase what I do. Also, hand on heart, I'm not always very kind to myself. So this resolution involves eating more healthily, exercising, getting my hair cut and looking after myself. It also involves giving of my time and resources to charity (note - not just giving money, but my time to being a governor at our local school, as well as donating things I've made and items to charity shops). Lastly, I want to be involved with random acts of kindness. Blessed is the hand that giveth.

So, this leaves 2011 with the fantastically abbreviated COK Project!

* Day 1, as you can see from the picture at the start, was a Frog or Finish day. Frogging is a knitting term - when you rip it, rip it, rip it back. I have lots of projects that remain unfinished (I like to do several things at once) so this is their ultimate fate. Either I finish them, or they get turned back to yarn and the needles freed. I finished this crocheted cushion - RIP the summer shrug. C'est La Vie.


Day 2 : Working on Charlie's Quilt, Create

Day 2 : Working on Charlie's Quilt

Its been a year in the making so far, and it needs to double in size - and that's just the top. I will finish it in time for the arrival of his new bed sometime this year. This is an ongoing project.


Day 3 : Making Recycled Christmas Tags, Create, Kind (recycling)


Day 3 : Making Recycled Christmas Tags

Charlie and I cut up the old Christmas cards before recycling the backs, and made gift tags for Christmas 2011. I was rather proud of how they turned out, and remembered doing exactly the same thing with my Mum in the 1970s. Funny how these simple, cylical things can feel so good.


Day 4 : Tidy The Corner, Organise


Day 4 : Tidy the Corner

You would not believe what a mess this corner of my studio had become with the rush of Christmas orders. This is where I store my yarn, buttons, ribbon and findings.  Thankfully it's now restored to quiet calm where my creative juices can take hold.