Sunday, 24 February 2013

A little competition for you

I have been selling my handmade items on Etsy now for a year (tomorrow), so to celebrate I am having a little giveaway over on my Aisling Designs blog.  Please feel free to join in, and you could be in with a chance to win this sweet little Easter decoration.

Monday, 11 February 2013

The hub of the house

 Our beloved dining table.  It must be the most used piece of furniture we have in the house.  We bought it when we got our first house in 1995.  It has been scratched by the cats, and the varnish has all but worn off it.  It is scratched by knives, forks, scissors.  Has dents all over it, and patches of paint.  Oh and recently a patch of glitter too that is now glued to the table!!    It is my workspace for my sewing, which has to make way for homework and crafting for the children. 
 It is a place for technical stuff, way beyond my comprehension.
 As well as a place for much model construction and painting

It is a place for family too come together, to eat, and catch up with each other every evning, as well as to celebrate those special occasions.
 We have been thinking of re-doing the dining room, with dreams of a big round table.  To have a devoted dining room, so we don't have to clear away the days activities each time we want to eat.  This is not as simple as it sounds, as we also have to find ways to continue all our other activities in other areas of the house. 

For all that our dining table offers us, each and every day, I thought is was worthy of a blog post!!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

This week

 This last week has been the week that Luke cooks at school.  I love those weeks, as he always makes wonderful food.  They are given a recipe, and they have to adapt it.  So this week was upside down cake.  Luke adapted his to make  chocolate and orange upside down cake, and it was amazing!! 

He has also had some success with a painting competition. Last weekend Stuart and Luke went down to Gloucester to a minicon (conference for wargaming), and Luke won the junior painting competition with his dwarf.

I have been busily creating more bunting!  Finishing off my order for 30 metres for a nursery, and making a quick string of bunting for general sale, just plain, using some complimetary fabrics.  A bit pink for my liking, but then it is not for me!! 
I have also been treading a very fine line with my health.  For a long time I have pain in my feet when I wake up, which I just put down to one of those things.  When the pain started encroaching into the day I went to the doctors, who said I had plantar fasciitis (an  inflammation of the tendon that runs under the sole of the foot) , and one of the main remedies for it is rest!!! Yeah, right!!  But I have found that if I rest as much as I can during the day it actually makes the pain  worse, as the tendon hasn't been stretched, but if I do too much the inflammation is too painful.  However, I did find going to a beer festival helped significantly as I relaxed enough to walk correctly!! But consuming alcohol on a daily basis probably isn't the best way forward!!  I am hoping if I am sensible that it will not last the year, like it reportedly can do!! 

Related to my own health, I have given notice on my allotment.  Sad, and a hard decision to make when I remember the lovely times I have had down there, and the successful crops.  But also having to realistic about what I can achieve, and how having the allotment has been at the expense of our own garden, which has the potential to be enjoyed by the whole family rather than just me enjoying the allotment.  I am looking forward to getting our garden back into a lovely state.  Before I had the allotment, I can remember a neighbour saying to me that she could imagine fairies living at the bottom of our garden, well, 5 years and 3 chickens later, you can definitely not say that about it now.  So I will get my outdoor fix right here, and I hope to sneak a few crops into the flower beds (obviously not on the same scale as the allotment!)  Looking forward now to spring, and seed sowing for our garden.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Catching up

Gosh, January is all but over, and personally it has been all about bunting!!  I made some Little Red Hen story bunting just after Christmas, posted it on Facebook, and had an order to furnish a nursery that was soon opening with around 30 metres of bunting, ranging from outdoor bunting to various story buntings with the largest consisting of 31 flags!!
Sophie is loving school, and will often sit down with pen and paper to do her "homework".  This is all self-imposed homework, where she just enjoys spelling out words and writing them down.  Here she has written "ant", "red", "cat", and "ant" (again!!)
 Then we were hit by the snow.  I had seen an idea on pinterest or Facebook, one or the other, where you freeze water with food colouring in in a balloon, and it makes a coloured ice globe.  So as the temperature plummeted, Sophie and I set to work.  First night, nothing happened, the tops froze but the earth insulated the bottoms of the balloons.  Second night, it snowed, and the balloons got lost under mounds and mounds of snow.  I tried to find them, but to now avail.  Now the snow has melted I discover they were furtther down the garden than I had remembered, and still not frozen.  I think we'll have to resort to the freezer!!
 First couple of days of snow, much playing was had, although the novelty soon wore off.
 And my old wooden sled from when I was a child, worked wonders.  Here is it carrying 4 children down the hill!
I have spent alot of time with material this month, and drawing round countless triangles.  
 Sophie, completely off her own back the other day decided she was going to make her own bunting.  She said she'd pretend the paper was fabric, and she needed a bowl and some scissors.  She proceeded to draw three circles using the bowl as a template, cut them out, and decorated them.  We just need to string them together now, and she has made her own bunting!  She's also been helping with taking the needles out when I'm sewing on the machine, and turning the fabric!  We'll make a seamstress of her yet ;)

 And here is half of the bunting, about 15metres worth. 

I've only half of one bunting to finish off now, and then there's lots more ideas in the offing!

In other news, Luke won a painting competition at a wargaming conference the other day, and came back with a prize of a whole load more models. So he was really happy. 

Alec's school was shut through a burst water main, not that he minded in the slightest!! 

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christmas 2012

Well, Christmas started prior to our trip to Finland, with us decorating our tree.  Sophie was the main helper, who kep trying to look at me taking a picture of her as well as looking at what she was putting on the tree, hence the funny stance.  She then wanted to take a photo of me too, which I'm rather pleased with.
On our return from Lapland, we had Sophie's nativity play, where she was a sheep.  She has been singing the songs for the  last couple of months, and seemed to enjoy doing the performance, even if her interest did seem to wane after a while!!

 We had done very little in our own traditions for Christmas, mainly due to my busy-ness with orders, but also with concentrating on going away mid December.  Alec mentioned how he missed the advent candle and stories, so we'll definitely do those next year, but once school broke up we were able to do a few activities.  I had spotted these Star Wars snowflakes last year, and thought it would be a good idea to do.  It was still rather fiddly for the children, although Ethan stuck with his Rebel fighter snowflake (the first on the right) and just needed a bit of help with a craft knife towards the end.  I ended up doing the other two, but have printed out more, either for later or next year!
 Ethan was getting festive with a santa hat!!
 We made a gingerbread house (eventually), and Luke had a good idea about melting boiled sweets to glaze the windows.  We managed a couple of windows like this.
 Since then the boys have been discussing how to dismantle the gingerbread house.  It has ranged from putting party poppers inside and blowing it up, to building a lego mindstorms battering ram, to playing catch with it!!
 Christmas eve saw us go to see the hobbit.  What an amazing film, and Sophie was rather taken with it too, and has been watching other LOTR films and trailers on the computer!
 Christmas Day itself saw Mum join us (having stayed overnight on Christmas Eve).  It was a very stress free day, and everyone seemed to have a lovely day.
 There was time to play with Christmas presents (an electirc guitar you can plug into the iPad, for Alec)
 Some wargamer modelling for both Stuart and Luke,
There was the statutory lego building, chocolate eating, for the children and I even managed to do some knitting for myself. 

A lovely Christmas, and looking forward to what the new year brings.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


I apologise in advance for the number of photos, and the lack of light (that's how it is 200 miles north of the arctic circle).  So last week, we all got on a flight from Manchester to Kittala, Finland.  When we landed at 2pm it was -11 degrees Centigrade and it was approaching dusk.  We waited to get our snow gear, and took in the amazing scenery of this winter wonderland.

 Even the trees at the airport looked amazing!
 After settling in, we had an early start the following day to have taster sessions with reindeer, huskies, snowmobiles, toboggans and an artic circle ceremony.
 All six of us fitted on a sled pulled by 6 huskies.  Sophie was at the front, and thought it was brilliant!
 After we had our taster session we went to the information office, and asked if there were any husky expeditions for the six of us.  We got booked on a husky ride leaving in 20 minutes.  So off we went, on a 10km husky sled ride, over frozen lakes, through nordic woodland, with only the sound of the huskies panting breaking the frozen silence.  Stuart had one sled, and I drove the other sled, although we stopped half way around and Luke drove the rest of the way. 
 We didn't see any other husky sleds, only the snowmobile of one of the owners occasionally coming into view as he kept an eye on us.  We just had to trust that the huskies knew where they were going, and sure enough they brought us back to the starting point.  Sophie loved it (her first time on a proper husky ride), and especially like the big humps we went over!!
 On our return we were led to a little cabin with a wood fire in the centre, where we could cook sausages over the flames, and drink warm juice and cinammon biscuits.  Just what we needed after the cold od out doors (although by then it was only -6 degrees)
 To finish the trip, we met an 8 week old husky pup.  He was so soft!!
 On our return to the information centre, we decided to book a snowmobile safari for that evening.  The hope was to see the aurora borealis, but it was too busy snowing!!

So after tea, we went and got kitted out with helmets and balaclavas.

 The younger three went in trailers behind the two skiddoos, whilst Luke rode pillion with Stuart.  It was amazing going over frozen lakes, frozen rivers and through forests by night.  Although it took me a good while to get to grips with driving the snowmobile at the same speed as everyone else, they had to keep stopping and waiting for me to catch up.  In my defence, it was very unnerving as the snowmobile lurched when it hit a bump or a slightly slippier patch.  But it was amazing seeing the glitter of the snow in the headlights of the snowmobile, and seeing these snowy shapes looming out of the darkness, one could quite imagine snowmonsters in the Calvin and Hobbes style patrolling the forests. 

Half way around we stopped at a tippee, and had hot chocolate and cinammon rolls.  The children were getting a little cold at that point, even though the trailers were covered and they had reindeer skins and blankets to keep themselves warm.  Despite the bumps Sophie had managed to fall asleep!  The owner of the tour was building an igloo just around the corner, which we went to look at too.  Then we made our way home to bed, thrilled and exhausted with what we had managed to fit into one single day!
 The following day we went in search of Santa.  We decorated biscuits in the bakery..
 ...learned our elfabet at elf school...
 ...took some artistic, Christmassy shots...

 ...helped make some toys...

 ...and briefly saw the man in red!
We never tired of the views of snowy forests, it really was magical.

 On our return to the hotel, we went to see if we could book some snowboarding lessons, unfortunately we missed the last slot, so we went to find a toboganning slope instead.  On the way we discovered a little craft fair, each stall holder having a little hut, with heating!  It looked very Christmassy, and I might have bought some pencil roving from a finnish sheep!
 We found the tobogganing slope, with rope pully to pull you back up the slope.  It was all free, the sledges were fantastic, and we marvelled that such a thing could exist, as you just know that if it were in England it would have been vandalised and all the sledges taken!
 There were some snowball fights, and that little hut in the background was where you could go to warm up, again with wood fire in the centre, warm juice in the blackened kettles over the fire, and clean mugs hanging on the walls.  Benches covered with reindeer skins were around the fires, and it lit solely by the fire a few fairy lights.  So lovely and peaceful, and warm!!
 We returned to the hotel for a gala feast in the evening, and a meeting with Santa where we all got presents.
 And then it was over.  The following day we had to make our way to a very icy airport, and make our way back to England.  None of us were particularly enthusiastic to return so soon!
 We followed the sunset home,
 although for much of the way there was alot of sleep to catch up on.
Moi moi Suomi.  Kiitos.