Blethers and blahs

Random ramblings from a chaotic life

Happy 2012

As the song goes …

A guid New Year to ane an’ a’
An’ mony may ye see,
An’ during a’ the years to come,
O happy may ye be.

I wish for you all that you would wish for yourself, not least good health, happiness and the capturing of some wonderful memories.  I am sure that the years are passing faster, though the year ahead will be with us for a day longer as it is a leap year.  I know that this notion is probably just a result of me getting older but I really wish it would all slow down, just a little.

The past few weeks in particular have absolutely flown by between Christmas Day, spent quietly at home, Boxing Day spent with my children, grandchildren and way too much discarded wrapping paper, a day or so of tidying and trying to restore order swiftly followed by the boy’s 5th birthday, and more present wrapping/unwrapping.  Then a trip to see the Singing Kettle, another run round the shops during which I lost my glasses and almost the last of my patience, a visit to my baby boy which resulted in making his bed with him – literally (once we found the screws and bolts that is),  2 trips to the local recycling centre and a final clean, dust, hoover, wash windows, change beds, tidy cupboards at home in preparation for the New Year and here we are – exhausted but happy.

Many of the old traditions associated with Hogmanay and Ne’er Day are long gone but I hold onto some of them and have instilled them in my children and starting the year the way you mean to go on is a key one and that means a clean house, food in the cupboards and money in your pocket.  Even my OH who is from South Africa now just goes along with me as he knows how important to me it is.  I haven’t stayed up for the bells for a few years now but my children do and they still have a window and an outside door slightly open at midnight to let the old year out and the new one in.  I feel as though these small things tie me to my roots.  Speaking of roots I watched the film ‘The Quiet Man’ the other day and it still reminds me of my grandparents and the way the fought and argued, almost for the sake of it, but were inseparable and devoted to each other probably as a result of all the hurdles they had had to overcome during their lives.   There is something about this time of year that invokes stronger memories than normal.

For the year ahead I am going to try and join in with Sian’s storytelling Sunday.  This week’s story has to be about Maisie and Jock, my grandparents.

unknown lady, Jock, Maisie, unknown lady

This is the only photo I have of them both together and I have very few photos of my grandfather at all.  They were so different to each other.  He was tall and thin, she was short and round, he was Catholic and she was Protestant, he was laid back and she was fiery but, to me, they fitted together so well.  Life was very hard, they were poor and well paying work wasn’t always easy to come by.  They had nine children in total though only five survived to adulthood.  What I remember most about them though is that their family was the centre of everything for them and they loved us all absolutely and without judgement, regardless of the path that life took us on.  I think it was because of their religious differences, which would have been a huge hurdle due to the times and places they lived,  that they accepted everyone for who they were.  My mother often spoke of my grandfather befriending coloured people he met and bringing them home in an area where no coloured people lived and which was a place of narrow minds and small worlds.  These two people instilled in me a lasting respect for people’s differences and uniqueness and for that I will always be grateful.

To get back to the story, well it’s not really one story but a combination of little bits of story that took place on the same day every year, January 1st.  My mother and her 4 sisters, their partners, my grandmothers brothers and sisters and their partners, all the respective children and several family friends who were honorary aunts and uncles all congregated at my grandparents house on January 1st each year.  This made for a rather large number of people squeezed into a tiny wee house but we all fitted somehow and spending hours in the large cupboard under the stairs seemed more like an adventure than a hardship.  The first guest was usually Uncle George, my grandmother’s youngest brother.  He was such a quiet, gentle man, who had never married and who had a lovely sing song voice.  This was followed by what used to seem like bus loads of people and may well have been as few of us had cars.  Dinner was in sittings and was always home made soup, followed by stew, which included stewed sausages, pie paste (a puff pastry crust) with tatties and dumplings and then home made clootie dumpling and either cream or custard.  The dumpling is a fruit pudding which was mixed and  boiled in a white cotton pillowcase and then dried off in the oven.  My granny or Mum as we called her must have been cooking for hours beforehand but she never seemed stressed or harassed  and everyone got fed, regardless of how many folk had turned up, no one was ever turned away.

Once the food was over and the kitchen ‘red up’ (tidied) for the next meal the singing began.  All the adults had their own song and although it would have been nice to sing along sometimes the call was always ‘one singer, one song’ which meant that only one person sang at any one time.  For the life of me I cannot remember what song either of them sung but I do remember others.  Cousins Walter and Robert always sang ‘You take the High Road’, my Aunt Gina sang ‘Cigarettes and Whisky and Wild, Wild Women’,  Uncle George sang ‘The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen’  and someone, I think it was my Aunt Jean sang ‘I’m Nobody’s Child’ though that could be wrong as she also sang ‘Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I think I’ll go and eat worms!’  Fun times and happy memories.  There was always copious amounts of alcohol consumed, huge amounts of food but never a cross word was heard.  We always went home to our own houses though it was usually very late at night and I don’t remember there ever being any problems about whose turn it was to wash up or being given a row for making too much noise playing.  I like the think that it’s because that’s how it was and not just me remembering things in a rosy way.

If you have made it this far, thank you and I hope that this hasn’t put you off popping back again sometime.  I wish you and our family a happy Ne’erday and a wonderful year ahead.


WOWW 132 – decisions, decisions

I am totally rubbish at making decisions especially at this time of year but one decision I have made is that I am not making cards this year.  After my recent disasters and given my almost total lack of self confidence re making cards I have abandoned the idea.

card blanks and Christmas stamps waiting to become cards

Let’s face it a week’s work for 1 hand made card is hardly a reasonable time and motion study.  The sheer frustration and terror of sitting down, thinking of what to put on the front of a card and then actually making it into something that I wouldn’t be ashamed to put my name to is just not worth the stress.  Especially not when every day is fraught with decision making and stress at the moment.

I haven’t actually taken a pic of my abandoned work desk today – mainly because I only really decided to abandon it at 4am this morning when the gentle gale that was blowing past my window prevented me from getting back to sleep.

My current work in progress is actually this …

… which is going to be the cover for one of the sad looking cushions that adorn our sofa.  They are all mismatched in colour, shape and size but as they are in good condition and useful they have escaped our many clear outs.  I was inspired to smarten them up by the satisfaction I got making this …

a close up

… which will shortly be wrapped ready to keep my youngest some warm and snug throughout the winter months ahead.  The funny thing is that during a recent visit to my daughter’s house I spotted a blanket my mother had made for her when she was much younger and which was still in very good condition despite being about 20yrs old and made form the cheapest acrylic yarn there was.

The year ahead is one where I actually use my stash of yarn, fabric, paper etc as the budget is getting much smaller though the stash pile isn’t so unless it is absolutely essential for me to buy I will be using up and making do.

For now the decisions are – when to write the cards I need to send and, yes I do know it will need to be soon, and when to begin wrapping the mountain of things I have stashed away as gifts.  I think it will be baby steps with the decision making so I will start with the cards that need posted and begin tonight, I think.


DD or JYC?

Two years ago I did a December Daily along with Ali Edwards and good proportion of the crafting world.  I absolutely loved every minute of it but I found that sometimes getting my photos printed was a hassle I didn’t need at a very busy time of the year.  With this in mind last year I decided to do a digi version.  Well, it took twice as long to sort the pages beforehand and I couldn’t make them work in the brief time I had each day so i gave up about half way through, which was very disappointing.  This year December was on me before I knew it so I didn’t even get started but I am regretting it when I see so many gorgeous pages from people doing either Ali’s December Daily or Shimmelle‘s Journal Your Christmas.  Maybe when the holidays finally come I will sit down and do a retrospective something, even if it’s only putting the basics of a book together for next year.  After all how else am I going to use up all the gorgeous Christmas stash I can’t seem to resist, yet seldom use?

For now it’s on with some semblance of Christmas card making spurred on by the helpful suggestions and comments from others.  Maybe there will even be one or two to share soon, which should brighten up everyone else’s day, even if it’s only because they are less then fantastic. 🙂


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WOWW 131 – needles and pins

My workdesk has been in a different place for the past week  the remains of the backwards Christmas cards are still on my main desk.  The reason is simple – one special little girl’s 7th birthday and a grandmother who likes to indulge and as usual, totally overestimate my capabilities.

Many months ago I promised my granddaughter a doll for her birthday.  Not just any doll but a doll that looked like her.  I had seen the American Girl dolls and was totally taken by them helped by the fact that most of the gorgeous sewing patterns for dolls clothes were for 18″ dolls which I could only find one of in the UK and I didn’t like it.  Since then of course Argos now do a lovely 18″ doll at a really good price, just my luck.  To get back to the original story I duly bought an AG doll (the shipping and tax were horrendous!) and although it was expensive I don’t regret it.  This was swiftly followed by loads of knitting and crochet and the cutting out of sewing patterns and fabric.

Note that I haven’t yet mentioned the sewing of fabric.  In my typical fashion i left that till the last minute so I have spent almost every waking minute for the past week sewing elastic into knickers and trousers or making clothes or sewing on press studs or velcro and I am almost finished.  This is a good thing because her birthday is today!  I need to rush home form work later today, hastily wrap up boxes and then see if all my efforts have been worth it.  No, I take that back, I know all my efforts have been worth it as I have enjoyed almost every minute and I have no doubts that I will continue to enjoy making clothes for the doll for many years to come.  I did worry when I found myself awake in the wee hours of Sunday morning stressing about whether I had made pyjamas for the doll 🙂  This is a particular worry as the said little girl has a few dolls but one very special one called Baby Carrot, from whom she has been inseparable for 4 years now and who is a part of the family.  My granddaughter insists that my daughter is her granny, much to my daughter’s displeasure.  In fact BC has been the feature of several scrapbook pages including this one I made for a challenge at a recent crop.

The challenge called for lace which i didn’t have in the right colours so I crocheted some which meant the page was a bit rushed to get it finished in the time allotted.  I added some beads into the lace as I went and I like how it turned out so I will probably do something similar again at some point.  For now, I am away to sew buttons to a dolls jacket though i promise to share some photos of the finished items over the next few days.

If you want to see many more inspirational blogs, pop over to Julia’s blog.


WOWW 130 – samtsirhC (that’s Christmas backwards)

First of all yes, I do know it’s Thursday but as Wednesday somehow got lost in the post, here I am.

Well, so much for Christmas cards.  I am not a natural cardmaker.  In the many years I have been a scrapbooker I think I have made no more than a dozen cards.  They scare me – little bits of blank card waiting to be filled with nary a photo in sight, the very stuff to bring me out in cold sweats and palpitations.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE handmade cards as long as I don’t have to make them.

This year I vowed it would be different as I had found these very cute stamps, thought they are not to everyone’s taste I know, and I thought I would make some cards for my nearest and dearest.  Given that I have almost no experience of colouring images and making cards I did everything completely backwards.  I printed my images (too close together), I duly coloured them (don’t look for any wonderful shading as there isn’t any) and then set about cutting them using my punches and nesties only to find – they didn’t fit!  While I was sitting pondering this dilemma and trying to work out what sizes of punch/nesties I would need it occurred to me that, as they were digital images I could resize the images to fit, space them out more on each sheet and there might be half a chance of me making a card – singular.  I have decided that bay steps are the answer and once I have solved the problem of how to make one card I can then, if successful, go on to make another card and so on.  It may be that this year is only different due to the stress I put myself through and the handmade cards may well be ready for Christmas 2012 but I am not yet ready to throw in the towel on this one.

For anyone keen to see the finished advent tree from last week’s WOWW see the post before this one.  For now I am off over here to see the wonders of other people’s craft spaces.


Almost ready

Well my crop was a success, though the journey was a bit scary due to the very strong winds and the fact that is was dark and the rain was sheeting down.  Not something I would like to repeat in a hurry.  I managed to get 2 pages completed and another started which I finished yesterday.  I even got my tote mostly unpacked and the bits that I hadn’t bothered putting away for ages put away.  Go me!

The advent tree is now finished and I do love it, I have even started to think about doing one for myself for next year, just as a decoration.

and a wee close up to show the effect of all the glitter.  I doubt I have ever used as much glitter on anything before, not even Christmas at school 🙂

Here is one of the pages I made at Saturday’s crop – I had used an argyle mask to mist the background and then, to my friend Heather’s total horror I simply swiped a red inkpad across the page.  I am not usually so reckless but having had to reprint the photos as I mucked them up once before I had a bit of a devil may care attitude and luckily it worked.  It could so easily have been disastrous.

For now I have some gorgeous hug snug seam binding calling me and waiting to be made into wonderful things, maybe even some Christmas cards that I haven’t managed to think about yet.  I will not let my indecisiveness overtake my mojo again so I am away to make some decisions and write them down so I don’t forget.


The bug has bitten

First of all thank you to all the lovely people who were kind enough to visit recently, and a special thank you to those who took the time to leave me a comment, it was lovely.  If I haven’t been to visit you yet, I will be stopping by over the weekend.

I think the scrapping bug has finally resurfaced and I feel as though I might have been bitten again, which I am delighted about.  The tree is almost complete and looking good.  I think it has been worth the fiddling once I got over the huge hurdle of making the intial decisions.

Tomorrow is a crop day so hopefully on Sunday I will be able to take photos of some pages and share them, well if I ever manage to get my stuff packed into bags I might.

For now I will leave you a photo of a recent visitor to our garden, thanks to the unseasonally warm weather we are having, though I have no doubt it will be cold and horrible when I am about to leave the house tomorrow, that’s just my luck.

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WOWW 129

Well, it’s been a good few weeks since I have shared my workdesk, mainly because its been a hive of inactivity recently.  In fact for the past 2 weeks I have struggled with the project that is currently on my desk, a Tando advent tree.  It will be a gift for 2 of my grandchildren mainly so my daughter can control the amount of sweets my grandson eats.

Gluing it together was the first challenge.  It is a bit fiddly and I am very impatient, so it was never going to be easy.  I tried wet glue but didn’t have enough hands and/or patience to hold it till it dried so I quickly resorted to double sided sticky tape.  The tape didn’t hold it though and the next day it had pulled apart, with very few exceptions.  My friend Heather came to the rescue by suggesting using paper clips to hold it till the glue dried.  In my defence I was suffering from a bad bout of flu, which is why I never thought of that myself 🙂

Next came the job of painting it.  I had only read half the instructions for some reason so had the frame of the tree made and glued together before painting (I still blame the flu!) but I didn’t have the right shade of green.  I have to confess it took me 2 weeks to decide that I was going to paint it green instead of white (see previous post re indecisions).  I duly mixed what I though was a lot of paint only to run out 2/3 of the way through the painting job.  Grrr!  The next batch was, yes you’ve guessed it, a different colour and as the bits are directly next to each other it was very obvious.  This did lead to a happy solution though.  I am going to give the outside of the tree a final coat of green glitter glue so it will be all sparkly and semi sealed.  Yay, a good idea at last!

All I need now is another hour to finish the glitter painting and then start the next bit.  In case you are wondering why the bottom part of the larger drawers are not painted that’s because they are going to be white and then glittered like sparkly snow.  I am actually starting to enjoy this project now that all the decisions have been made.  Maybe my way out of the crafting wilderness is clear, for the first time in months.


Indecision, indecision

I have slowly, over many months, come to the conclusion that I have too much stuff.  Apart from going to crops I have barely crafted for months and my tote sits almost unpacked in between and I have finally figured out why. There are simply too many decisions to make and by the time I have worked out which photos, paper, style of page and embellishments I am going to use the hours I have available have disappeared and I am worse off than I was before because now my desk is covered in stuff.  By the time I next have the time to craft I have totally gone off the idea of using what I had previously pulled out and so another few hours go by and still nothing gets done.

A few months ago Angela asked me to be on her design team and while I was flattered, I was also terrified that I would let her down and this is what has happened.  I have 4 of her very lush embellishment kits sitting on my desk and although I have made something with every one, they are still waiting to be photographed and uploaded.

At this time of year I, like many other crafters, am busy making things for others as gifts.  At the moment it is crochet and a few weeks ago it was knitting.  I even crocheted on a page at a recent crop.  I have way too much yarn and if I never put my needles down I wouldn’t have to buy yarn for a very long time, though everything would be striped as most of it is no more than 200g of the same weight and colour.  So why have I recently been browsing yarn stores looking to spend lots of money on yarn for a blanket to keep me snug while I watch tv?  It beggars belief, really it does.  I think I have a serious problem with buying too much stuff and never actually getting around to using it.

Enough is enough though, I really need to get back to doing the things I enjoy and not allow myself to buy anything else till I have made a HUGE dent in what I have.  The yarn will go down as I am aiming to crochet stripey blankets for most of the family, not for any special reason apart from a sign that I care for them and to reduce my yarn stash.  I am almost finished a blanket for my youngest son, who will be getting it as part of his Christmas.

I fell in love with ripple blankets while reading this blog which led me to buying this book.  I am using yarn I had apart from the black, which I needed to balance it out and which will come in handy for hats etc over the winter.  For now I am planning on finding my desk underneath all that has been dumped on it over the past few weeks so that I may just get some pages photographed and maybe even a decision made about what to make next.

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Experimenting is fun


I have been having loads of fun trying out different apps on my phone, especially camera ones. I am hoping to manage to upload photos from here as well, fingers crossed.

This is a pic of my grandaughter’s hat which is meant to be a slouchy hat.  Having picked the pattern herself,probably because of the flower, she then decided to wait till she was bigger to wear it as she thought it was too big for her!  Once we explained that it was meant to be like that it was worn happily.  The trouble is her brother now wants me to make him him a policeman’s hat!  I think I have managed to convince him that a pirate hat would be better though and he is now happy.  The only trouble is I forgot to take a photo of it before I gave it to him so I will need to rectify that later this week.

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