Beady eyed

November 27th, 2015

Hello Dare! I’m back.

I’ve been busy, you know. Shopping. All that surfing around Amazon takes time and effort …and money. So the piggy bank is empty and looking on the lean side now. BUT, I think I’ve pretty much nailed it. I’ve got nearly everything – just food and drink.

If me and Smithy are on our own this Crimble, Christmas dinner will be one big curry (home made and fresh) with naans (garlic and coriander), rice, poppodoms, samosas and  refreshingly chilled pear cider. This knocks Christmas Pudding off the top spot for me. The traditional turkey with roast everythings, yorkshire puds, sauces, gravies, stuffings and everything else – the ‘trimmings’ isn’t my thing. The Christmas adverts showing the table heaving with oozing puddings and dripping cranberries looks like an autopsy to me. They say ‘if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen’ I can’t, so I am!

This December is full of happy clappies for us. Christmas do’s, plays at the theatre, an evening of film and fun at the local cinema (ticket money going to charity), family over for weekend visits. Gorgeous things darling! I’ve printed off my December calendar page again just to make sure I’ve got everything in an at-a-glance format.

Oh Christmas Tree

The tree goes up on the first of December. We never get a real one  as Smithy has a severe allergy to pine needles – found that one out the hard way. The tree we have is a beauty though. Six foot tall with really thick, stiff, strong ‘bottle brush’ branches. Last year Gracie climbed up the bloody thing and sat in the branches so this year it’s going in the back room and I’ll try to keep the girls out of there.

Every year I make a few crafty decorations to hang up (Vicky in Cinncinnati inspired me to make my own). She had three large trees. One was decked with Star Trek bits – with LEDs and audio – ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ and ‘It’s lfe, Jim, but not as we know it’ etc. Geekily fab-u-lous!

Her second tree was covered with shop-bought poinsiettas with big pink satin bows.

The third, and my favourite, was the tree with her hand-crafted decorations. I fell in love with it. Gingham stars, tweed hearts, little cotton stockings… So here I am, a few years on, making lots of my own. The Christmas Samsara birds are a joy to make, scented with cinnamon and stitched with all manner of twinkly, glittery threads and beads. I’ve tried to get a good close-up to show you more detail:


Talking of my December calender page, here it is. I designed it in Illustrator and printed it out as a cutting file then made a giclee print of it along with the running rabbits. I shall be making my 2016 calender in the next few weeks and hoping for some mojo to come my way and inspire some new graphics.

Here is the owl, hand-cut missing its beak.

Like the journals? The covers are leather and embossed with gold foil. They were bought like that, I don’t have the equipment or the skills. Aren’t they beautiful? I don’t do them justice and scribble and jot randomly. They should have pages of beautiful sketches and gorgeous brush script words of inspiration. But they don’t. Just my scruffy scrawlings 😉

Roughly an A4 and an A5.

Brilliant find in Lidl – boxed set of Christmas washi tape. They have a dull gold lustre which is just perfect.

And, rushing to get these done in the next few days – advent jubbies. Six more to make – a set for Smithy and another for a friend. I have the numbers cut out ready to pop on to a dimentional so that won’t take too long. Just need to make a little hole to tie some glittery twine through so they can be hung up and they’re all done. They’re filled with foiled santas, snowmen, coins, balls and crinkly cellophane/foil wrapped pralines.

So all I have to do now, is twitch the curtains and wait for the Amazon deliveries to arrive, figuratively speaking, anyway.

Well, that lunch won’t make itself and if I don’t eat soon I might die of the hunger! Bye for now x x x

Sewing Frenzy

November 15th, 2015

I have my sewing mojo back. The dark sparkles within lit up and got me going again. As you can see, another trial with bias binding. Many curse words were uttered in the making of this pouch. Unpicking and stitch-ripping – aargh! The hilarity of it all! Eventually, it came together and this lovely little pouch was finished and filled with essential bits and bobs. An Altoids tin with beads, sewing floss, a teeny-tiny needle case for embroidery and beading needles plus assorted odds and sods for emergency sewing situations.


I popped into Aimee Rose in City West for some crochet markers and spotted these glittery treasures. These are perfect for snazzing up Christmas decor bits and work wonderfully well with a cording foot. Simply slide under the grooves on the foot and set the machine to a zig-zag stitch using a neutral or close-coloured top thread and zig-zag the Goldfingering Twilley stuff onto your fabric.

The Twilleys gives lots of surface detail and gorgeous glitz. Even the ‘white’ one; it actually has an irridesecnt shimmer that is just glorious to a magpie like me. These cost about €4 each so not cheap but they do last a long time. If you don’t let your cats play with them.

Gracie has shown me better techniques to layout text and pictures in Illustrator, pissed on my pathetic attempts to code in Python showing me her Pythonista prowess and all-round Parcel-tonguedness simply with a couple of light paw touches on the keyboard. What a star. Lol.

I keep a good few of my sewing machine feet in a lovely little box Smithy bought me last Christmas. It’s quite beautiful. And cat-safe.



I used the cording foot to zig-zag over some gold and metallic red threads on the Christmas Samsara birds. The new Twilleys collection has inspired me to make a few more decorations but they will probably have to wait until next week as my time is a bit tied up at the moment.


I also gave this little 50c sale bag (Mr Dunnes, about 4 years ago) a bit of a flossie, french knot make over with embroidery flosses from Aimee Rose. I love the French Knot and Speckling stitches for creating random, pretty surface design and just go with the flow and enjoy being dotty.


Inadvertently took this shot (was playing with extension tubes, zoom lens and a tripod today) and got a nice shot of my old Singer. Weren’t they just the last word in Gorjuss??!

Am off to have my tea, now. Jalfrezi curry (home made) with garlic and coriander naans.  Right now, Gracie is sleeping on my feet by the radiator and I will try to gently ease my feet away without disturbing her. She looks as cute as a button.

Bye for now.

Prayers for Paris

November 15th, 2015

Christmas Sewing – Samsara Birdie

November 9th, 2015

It rained all day yesterday so got on with a bit of sewing for Christmas. You probably know that I have a real passion for making little Samsara birds. Lots of stitching with different coloured glittery threads topped with hand-stitched bugle and pearls beads. Loved every second of it. And scented with cinnamon. All good! The photo just doesn’t pick up the glints and glitter very well but IRL if looks lovely. I’m not one for brights, as such, and like things a little ‘rustic’ and prefer a subtle bling – that an oxymoron?


Salt Dough

I also made a tray of salt dough hearts last week and got them painted and finally varnished at the weekend. I have an old wooden cutlery drainer from Ikea that works perfectly as a drip stand for when I brush them with varnish. I could buy a spray can of varnish, I suppose, but my tin of yacht-varnish has lasted me a few years and there’s still plenty left. Guess not actually having a yacht to varnish has helped me a bit there.

My drying rack is like the one below but is wooden (and a bit ramshackle now). It works perfectly to paint and varnish the dough shapes. Just open out some paper clips and hook them along.


Want to make some? Here’s How.

Salt Dough Recipe – Microwave Method

Salt dough is simple, cheap and fun to play with – for you and the kids.

You need

  • 1 cup of salt
  • 2 cups of plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 cup of water

Mix and knead all the ingredients together till it’s a tacky but pliable lump – like bread dough. If it’s too dry, add a squinch of water; too wet, add more flour.

You can add food colouring if you want to jazz things up or leave them natural and paint them afterwards.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and roll out till it’s the thickness you want – not too thin and not too fat… too thin and it will become brittle and snap easily. Too fat and it might not dry out and end up crumbling.

Get a selection of cutters to make shapes from, eg,  biscuit cutters (cookie cutters).  A garlic press is great for making doughy worms; they are super  for making wooly beards, hair and and moustaches –  or lambs for nativity scenes. Just glue on with a thick flour and water paste.

If you want to make hanging decorations, poke a hole though with a knitting needle or skewer so you can thread through some twine or string later.

Cover a flat dish with parchment or greaseproof paper and place the dough shapes in the microwave. My oven is a 650W so I cook on full power for roughly 2 minutes. You’ll have to experiment a little with your oven if it’s a different rating. Just remember to stop and check every 30s or so.

They’re done when they feel pretty firm. You might find a little yield in them but that will go as they cool. If it doesn’t, you can always pop them back in the microwave. Feel them to see if they’re still squashy – if so, put them back for another 30s – 1 min but check them regularly during this extra time as they can burn. Take heed!

Take them out and leave them to cool, then paint them with acrylic, poster or other paint. Add some glitter if you like. When the paint is dry, spray with a coat of varnish or brush on a coat of varnish to seal and make them water / damp proof.


Looking nice on the bedside cabinet that got a terrific makeover recently.

Bye all – speak laters!

Happy Findings

November 4th, 2015

Was trawling around the charity shops looking for something lovely and found lovely – a London Pottery kitchen set. There’s not a mark or a chip out of them. At first glance I thought  they were Polish  (like this little teapot) but they have the London Pottery logo on their bottoms:

I already have a London Pottery teapot (see here) and it looks as lovely as it did the first day I got it, several years ago. That teapot was bought new from a ‘proper shop’ and cost a few bob but this set cost very little and helped out a charity at the same time so all good.

I also like when the addition of a little something inspires me to make something to go with it so I’m thinking a new tea cosy, except the teapot is red… and is my favourite so it’s not going to get knocked off top spot for my white or chocolate-coloured teapots. Harrumph. I shall think on.


A recent pop to Dublin was, as ever, glorious. I love Dublin. The Liffey was sparkling in the sunshine and the crakey laughing of the seagulls always makes me smile. I went in early to avoid the crowds and have a proper mooch around the shops. There was nothing specific I was after, just hoping to find ‘nice things’. My favourite haunts weren’t inspiring but Hickeys saved the day with some fabulous fabric called ‘Merry Go Round’. There wasn’t much left on the bolt so I took what was there, about a metre and a half, then spotted some bias binding that was the perfect complement to it. A match made in heaven. Or Navan.

Bias Binding

Bias binding challenges me. Some people just stitch it on – oh yes, they make it look that simple. Many a YouTube tutorial consigns me to the ‘remedial’ sewing class. I have sat with my machine, a tablet with Chromecast  running to one side and the video running on a tele on a cupboard on the other. My head swivelled from the vid to the tablet to the telly like a haunted tennis ball. My world was nothing more than a chest of drawers with a telly on top.

But rounded corners, squared corners… I still end up with less than perfect results…. unless I pin, tack then stitch!

So, small projects to let me practise my bias binding techniques, if I can call them ‘techniques’ and raise my grading from ‘ills’ to ‘skills’ is something I like to do.

Riding high on the recent tablet case success, bound with satin bias binding (though pinned, hand tacked and then machine stitched), I made another from the super new material:

See the bias binding? Isn’t it fab?! I picked out some of the flowers with machine stitched metallic threads (Gütermann and Madeira) and stitched on a few pearl beads (that I then ran out of so couldn’t embellish as much as I’d wanted – pah).

The fabric is just juicy though – yes?

Like the button? Bought a few packets of wooden buttons from Aimee Rose (I think that’s the name) in the City West shops. The lining fabric was in my stash and has been in my basket for years. There’s also a layer of batting in between the main and lining fabrics.

The design and colours just splash gloriously like water colour paints.

I’m taking the case to show the ladies at the local Stitch and Knit group. They mostly knit and think hand sewing is the work of the devil but then I think that about knitting – so Balls!

Crochet Bootees

Crochet, though, is something else. I studiously watched, rewound, stopped, played and documented a crochet tutorial on YouTube. She&Ru Christening bootees, parts 1 and 2. (part 1) (part 2)

For some reason, I cannot shape the back nicely! I can do the toe and the DC clusters around the trim beautifully. I have made many things watching along with She&Ru – leaves, snowflakes, flowers, curled hearts, lattice hearts… no trouble (I document all of them as well). But these bootees are sending me bats. Am very confubbled. .

I have no nefarious agenda for the pattern – I just want to make them. If you have mastered these little bobby dazzlers and have the pattern down pat would you share – privately? PM me please – thanks in advance. I am willing to share my notes…

I also love these little bootees but the commentary is in Russian (Bootees) and the online translation is painful but funny!


So, there we have it. My next project is to write a story about Uisneach, its lore and mythology and perhaps illustrate or at least decorate with typography and layout. Hope the revived Festival of the Fires carries on next May as I will definitely go. (The colours in the fabric made me think of Uisneach, btw).

Anyway, think happy thoughts and bless those around you that might trouble your brow. Mark Twain puts it so much better:

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

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