Friday, December 31, 2010

fare thee well 2010

Hello, hello and I hope you had a very good Christmas. We had a lovely few days visiting my parents in Elgin, where the snow is white and fluffy rather than brown and hard like Glasgow snow. Santa obviously realised I had been especially good in 2010 (maybe he reads my blog?) and brought me a stocking for the first time in years! So very exciting :) It was full of goodies for our now functioning (though not quite finished) bathroom, like these flashing ducks. Yes, that is a naked picture of me in the bath on the internet. Tee hee! I have a little story about one of my non-bath presents, but I think I will save that for another day as time is of the essence tonight. I was brought up to believe that your house had to be spotless for Hogmanay so I am running about like a madwoman, trying to tidy/clean and not getting very far. It is a hopeless task really as I would need at least a month to get my house properly tidy, though I suppose it will do no harm to try. I got somewhat distracted from the task this morning by having an EastEnders marathon as I hadn't seen any of it over the Christmas week. I think that is the first time I have ever watched 4.5 hours of Easties in a oner (Bye, Stacey! I love you!) and there's another 40 minutes to watch tonight too. I'll be bringing in 2011 with a cockney accent at this rate! I don't have any major Hogmanay plans. Graham is working until 9pm tonight and I am working at 8am tomorrow, so we have only a small window for some sensible new year's celebrations. I went out earlier and got just one or two (a-hem!) snacks and some pink fizz to wash them down. Two people, a few hours and half a supermarket snack section. I'll let you know how it goes...

I'll be back next year (i.e. later this week) to fill you all in on my "crafty" plan. Happy Hogmanay!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

blast from the blog of christmas past

It's been a day of top menshies today. Not only did my hand(made)kerchiefs get a mention on Cuteable (thanks, Lynsey!) but my face popped up on Super Cute Kawaii! (thanks, Claire!). I always knew I was cute, but it's great to have it made official ;) Of course, the post over at SCK wasn't actually about my cute face, but rather about cute holiday distractions and there was a link to my sweet wreath chew-torial from 2008. I thought it would be nice to share it again over here for those of you who didn't visit this blog way back when, in the days when I was skinny and wore the same top I had on two days ago according to the picture... We've been making these wreaths every year since 2007 (we recycle the polystyrene centre, but freshen up the sweets) and I think it is the only bona fide Christmas tradition that Graham and I have evolved together. This year our neighbours said they know it's really Christmas when the gumdrops appear on our door. If you're super organised and have time to spare on Christmas Eve (about 30 minutes if you are a fast cocktail stick jabber) maybe you would like to make one for your door. Here's my original post to show you how.

On 16 December 2008 I said...
I think the festive gumdrop wreath is becoming a Christmas tradition in our house. Fun fun fun and very sweet, in more ways than one! I came across this idea on the internet a few years ago (I think from this lady?) but I can't remember where for sure, so here's my own little how to:

1. You will need...
... a polystyrene wreath, cocktail sticks (snapped in half, hence the splinter that's been bugging me all day), ribbon of your choosing and sellotape. I just put a few strips of sellotape round the baldy wreath where the ribbon will be tied to stop it cutting into the polystyrene. This festive baby is heavy once it's finished!

Of course, you will also need gum drops:
These are not always the easiest to come by here in the U.K. (what is it with making fruit pastilles etc. fruit shaped these days?) but I will share my insider's info with you... Morrisons stock American hard gums which are perfect for the job. I used six packets but Graham and I couldn't resist nibbling a few each and I think the wreath needed them more than our expanding waistlines. I'd recommend getting seven packets, just so you don't have to try quite so hard to resist munching.

What to do:
Stick the blunt (snapped) end of the cocktail stick into the flat base of the sweet and then stick the sharp end into the polystyrene. Keep sticking sweets into the front and sides of the wreath until it is pretty much covered. I should say the gaps don't look this glaring in real life but the flash showed them up.

Eventually you will get...
... a festively sparkling sweet wreath to hang on your front door! Then you can peek out at visitors like a strange little Christmas elf, as I am demonstrating here...

Last year one of our upstairs neighbours told me our wreath had made her smile every morning, which was nice to hear. Graham has been eavesdropping this year and has already heard the wreath love spreading among neighbours and visitors. It's Christmas! Yay!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010



Life can be so entertaining when you find teenage-boy humour funny. Tee hee!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Green Lady

The Green Lady
Originally uploaded by Stan Chow

This is how green my face is today, but sadly the similarity stops there. I have food poisoning and have been up all night being sick :( I had to take the day off work, which looks v suspicious given it is a few days before Christmas. I can't wait to feel better but I am too scared to eat or drink anything for fear the throwing up starts again. I wish I had some fresh orange juice to sip, but I am too wobbly to go out and get any. Send help! (No, don't really. I am in no fit state to be seen by visitors. Ugh...)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I wonder if they get eastenders in china

Earlier this year, Made In The Shade were visited by Jas Tang who was researching an article about Made In The Shade for Chinese indie style mag, Little Thing. I met her briefly at the Springtime Jamboree where I had a stall. She was really lovely and seemed super excited about all the handmade goodies everyone had on offer and said she thought my illustration of Ethel and Willie was funny. She recently sent a copy of the magazine with her 6-page spread about Made In The Shade to the MITS girls and look what has sneaky-peeked in at the bottom of one of the pages... It's my EastEnders notecards! In a super-cool magazine! In China! Yay! You can see the other (equally lovely) pages of the article over at Made In The Shade's flickr, worth a look even just to get a smidgeon of an idea of how lovely the Made In The Shade Maisonette is. I was in there today delivering some goodies and doing some last minute Christmas shopping and just oohed and aahed at absolutely everything. It's so nice to be able to see some of my goodies in amongst such lovely stuff :)

i love lisa

Japanese Spring girl 2
Originally uploaded by 'Lil Sonny Sky

I didn't go out tonight, but I've accidentally sat up sewing until 2am, so don't say I'm not rock and roll! Though I am now looking forward to filling up my hot water bottles (yes, bottles, plural) putting on some much needed hand cream (ouch) and getting into bed with the cats... It's too dark to take a photo of what I've been sewing, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to share someone I've been admiring on etsy lately. This super gorgeous print is by Lisa Stubbs and is just one of so many lovely, lovely items. May I particularly draw your attention to this completely adorable Christmas postcard. Eep! Dear Santa, I want to be as good as Lisa at drawing and printing and sewing!

I have been brewing some top arty/crafty plans for 2011, setting some little challenges for myself, and I'm feeling pretty excited about it. I think 2011 will be a great year of craft for me. I'm hoping to be learning a whole load of new skillz as well as revisiting and honing some old (and often long-neglected) skillz. And, of course, I'll be sure to blog about the whole shebang. More details to follow, but for now, to bed.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

get your coat, love... it's cold

Graham and his friend Daniel (the Jack-Black-alike) will be playing some top tunes at Stereo tonight if you're in Glasgow and fancy a pre-Christmas boogie. I'm no dancer so I think I'll be staying at home to continue my bid to have the most anti-social Christmas ever, but you should all totally go. Do as I say and not as I do!

Nothing else to report. I just watched Kindergarten Cop (accidentally on purpose) while writing my Christmas cards. My Christmas card list gets shorter every year, but I'm sure I must have forgotten some people this year - I only had to use one book of stamps. This is what happens when you never go out. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

it's beginning to look a bit like christmas

I'm still not quite feeling the festive vibe. Even though the clues are all in place, it hasn't quite hit me that Christmas is actually coming. I keep thinking Christmas mentions on the telly are too early and that people posting parcels are too efficient for their own good. Can Christmas really be just over a week away? The evidence...
My already outrageous alcohol intake has increased and as well as the usual beer/wine/whisky, I have found myself drinking things like amaretto (mmm - goes great with a wee mince pie) and pink sparkling wine from our fancy cocktail glasses. I have also been eating more cheese than you would think would be humanly possible. Oh yeah, and the afore mentioned mince pies.
I can't remember the last time I left the house without my wellies on, as you can see in this crazy curling mirror we saw in an antique/junk shop this week. I'm clinging onto hand rails and walking at snail's pace wherever I go for fear of slipping on the ice (which will not go away) and my bum still hurts from a nasty fall last week.
The shops have festive window displays and the charity shops are suddenly full of the Christmas tat they've been hoarding since January. This window display is from a charity shop in Partick. That man will be detoxing come January if he knows what's good for him!
Mmmm! Delicious...?
Our tree and other decorations are up and the cats have got their annual tinsel fever.
Here's the worried monkey decoration I bought last year, from somebody who had a stall next to me at a market. Oo-oo! I love him and his little furrowed brow and his oversized bell.
I'm trying really hard, but it still doesn't feel like Christmas to me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

shop keeping

I've definitely managed to find my misplaced enthusiasm for my etsy shop lately. I've been adding lots of new things (and old things) and keep popping in to have a look at it and smiling at it like a proud parent. I'm sure the flurry of pre-Christmas sales has helped my etsy mojo too. I say flurry... To most online sellers, my sales would probably be classified as a snowflake that melted before it even hit the ground, but to me it is a definite flurry. I've made more sales in the last month than I had made since opening my shop almost 18 months ago.
Today I added a couple of new items. Item number one - hankies (above) that I had only really been selling at face-to-face markets until now. These hankies are made from vintage floral fabrics that have been laundered and then hemmed with a colourful/contrasting stitch all the way round the edge. They come in a mixed pack of two hankies and are super cute, if I do say so myself. $10 including postage (if you're in the UK) and available here.
The other item I added was the good old Big Daddy lavender hangers. I used to have them in my shop a while back, but I took the listing down when I made packaging for them and somehow never got round to taking photos and updating the product description. Well, I have done it now! Phew! Available here for $7 including postage (if you're in the UK).
Is it just me, or did Etsy get much better while I was mostly ignoring it? It just seems like it is a bit more snazzy, with some handy features and a bit more... tweakable. I'm going to be changing my prices to pounds rather than dollars after Christmas, I think. I had decided that last night and thought it would definitely be for the best since I had only ever sold to people based in the UK anyway. Then what happened overnight? I made a sale to someone in America! I still think listing in pounds would be for the best though. It will also be a good opportunity to tweak prices (up and down) and put some more thought into the free UK postage and packing that I offer at the moment. I really like having the free P&P (no nasty surprises) but it really doesn't work for some items. It costs me almost the full price of a pom pom bomb kit just to post it on its own. Damn those chubby pom poms! I'm not sure whether it would be better to increase the price of those items slightly to cover the postage, or whether it would be better to start charging postage again... Hmm. All decisions that can wait for 2011 though. I just want to revel in the fun side of online selling for a while longer yet.

getting festive...ish

The anger is fading, the tree is up, the gumdrop wreath is made, and just to ensure the last of the bah humbugs are well and truly gone, here's a super-cute festive song. Are you feeling it yet?

Friday, December 10, 2010

letting it go...

I have the anger. I've had it for a while. Yesterday it got worse and today it got worse again. I am trying to let it go, but it is not working out so well. It has not been helped by coming home to find poor Graham wrestling with yet another leak despite the bathroom allegedly being finished. It has not been helped by catching a new cough/cold before the old cough/cold has even gone properly. It has not been helped by certain of our neighbours or certain of my workmates being rude/mean/annoying. It has not been helped by the news that we are no longer kitten-sitting next week :( It has, however, been helped by my mum sending a surprise no-particular-reason package containing hot chocolate and sweet napkins. Which had been opened. Grrrrraaaaarrr! Letting it go, letting it go...

Don't mind me, it's probably just me bleedin' hormones, guv'nor. I'll take a few deep breaths and focus on the fact there's a cat on my lap (who is very happy not to be kitten-sitting) and a man in my kitchen cooking me dinner. Breathe in, breathe out. Hey, this positive thinking might actually be working!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

top telly tonight

I was dreading going back to work today after three luxurious days off, but I had a great day and seemed to have luck on my side with the programmes I ended up having to work on - gruesome old westerns, kids' TV (hated by most subtitlers but loved by me) and a great documentary called At Home With The Georgians, presented by Amanda Vickery who came across as a bona fide expert and enthusiastic enthusiast! It's on BBC 2 tonight at 9.00 (or on iplayer here) and I would definitely recommend watching it. This week's episode was all about women's influences on home decor and the development of the concept of "good taste". The whole thing was super interesting, but there is a great section towards the end about craft and handmade elements of the home, a visit to the incredible looking A La Ronde (a house designed and decorated by two spinster cousins) and a piece about how poor women would use scraps of fabric to identify babies they had to give to the foundling hospital. You should watch.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm telling you, it's too cold for camping

It's -9 degrees here in Glasgow today. Allegedly. I can't quite believe it, but there are signs that it may be true. One - my toes felt like they might snap off when I moved them even though I was wearing two pairs of socks and wellies. Two - we had ice on the inside of our windows this morning. Three - the pom poms have frozen solid and have actual icicles hanging off them. They look so funny, but I didn't have my camera with me. If the icicles are still there tomorrow, I'll try to nip out and snap a shot of them.
All this evidence leads me to suggest that this is not a good time of year to be going camping, even if the tents are cheap.
Yes, it's an oldie, but a goodie. "Now is the winter of our discount tents."
These are my latest Gocco attempt and I am very pleased with them. I have had them planned for the last couple of winters, so am very relieved I managed to actually make them this year. I love it when a plan comes together! They are in my shop (along with lots of new Sandboys goodies - single notecards, lovely prints and notebooks) now.
If you normally receive a Christmas card from me, please wipe these images from your mind now. And remember, everybody, a "Now is the winter..." notecard is for life winter and not just for Christmas!

bunny hops

Knitting and pom-pom-ing together in one project. This is a Christmas present for my youngest niece Ruth, but I think I am safe enough to post it as she doesn't know how to read or how to use the internet yet.
Ta-da! Bunny ears! I think she is going to look so cute in this, certainly much cuter than this scary-faced jar that I created to model. I was worried that this hat would end up too small for her, but if anything I think it could be too big. It fits on my very large head (just) and Ruth is not even two yet. Better too big than too small though.
And here is the pom pom tail in all its glory on the back of the hat. This hat was really easy to make. It probably took me the best part of two days, but I am slower knitter than most and I'm still a relative newbie on the old circular and double pointed needles. I've been really enjoying knitting with four needles (so much easier than it looks) so I think I might look out for some patterns and make something for myself, maybe a pair of mittens.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I'm not on the pan

Originally uploaded by Miss Retro Modern

This week has revolved around toilets, mainly around the fact that we haven't had one. Our bathroom got ripped out on Monday and we were supposed to have a new bathroom finished completely by Friday. It still isn't finished (thanks to snow and flooding and various minor nightmares...) but we are definitely on the home straight now. There has been a man hard at work putting up tiles all day and we are both loving the tiles we I chose, definitely worth the searching for. It's great to see proper progress at last, but the tiling man has been in the bathroom all day and I'm too embarrassed to ask to use the non-facilities. The situation is getting a touch desperate... as am I! I've been knitting and Gocco-ing (the right way round this time) all day to distract myself, but the hat I was knitting is finished and I am waiting for the ink to dry before printing the second screen of my cards. Oooh, I really need to do the toilet! The other day I actually went to John Lewis to use their facilities, dancing about on the underground all the way. I did buy some wool while I was there (hence the hat) so they didn't suspect a thing. I've been getting forced to do overtime this week, which has actually been quite handy because as well as plumbed in toilets that flush (oh, the luxury!) my office building has a shower in it for some reason. The more days I work, the more often I am able to wash and the less likely I am to explode from holding things in. This plan of blogging to distract myself from needing the toilet has not gone so well really as all I have blogged about is how much I need the toilet. Sorry about that. I'm off work again tomorrow, so will try to find a moment's daylight to photograph some of the crafting I have been doing. I promise not to rant about my bodily functions again, though I might have to share the moment our toilet gets plumbed in.

p.s. I have been making oodles of pom poms during my lunch breaks this week. I think I have converted a few of my workmates into pom pom fanatics in the process and I have found the ultimate pom pom wool from my random wool stash. It makes the cutest, fluffiest pom poms ever! Super-fluff pom poms will definitely be guest starring in ra-ra-fiti kits from now on :)