Taking Stock – May

Making : I’m currently doing @CraftingGeek‘s #30for30crafting again and again using it as an opportunity to work on some much neglected wips, so far I’ve just been working on some very ropey looking leg warmers, I started working on them in March, my first ever go at using dpns and ooh I am not a big fan. I am also still working on that house cross stitch from Modern Folk Embroidery, I’m quite enjoying that.

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Cooking : I am currently attempting to do The Hormone Reset Diet, as I type I’m on day 5 and I’m not sure I agree with it, some of the figures don’t seem to add up right, like needing to eat less than 49g of carbohydrate a day and yet at the same time 450g of vegetables, the book does say to subtract fibre from your carbohydrate total but still, the maths doesn’t work out. Also I think just 49g of carbohydrate a day is not going to be particularly good for you and you’re meant to eat a ridiculous amount of protein that I just can’t afford. So I’m currently following the spirit of the diet but if you see me blogging about cake in the next two weeks and a bit I’ve fallen off the band wagon majorly. I still think restricting major food groups without good medical or ethical reasoning is not a good idea but I need to do something about shifting some weight so…. So to the answer the question what am I cooking? The answer is not much, just a lot of soup basically.

Drinking : T2 have opened a store in town, they’re Australian loose leaf tea peddlers and their shop is like walking into an Aladdin’s cave of tea. Now I’m not a traditional tea drinker but I do like my herb tea and I keep meaning to get myself into green tea. I now have a jar of their mint tea and a box of their lemongrass tea, although I haven’t opened the latter yet as I’m currently finishing off my current box of Teapigs Lemongrass tea (which comes in tea bags). Teapigs Lemongrass tea is lovely but hard to get hold of, it’s also quite expensive, so I’m glad T2 have arrived. A box of loose leave lemongrass tea from T2 does cost more but I think I’ll get more cups out of it. I love lemongrass tea, it’s a bit of an acquired taste but it’s so refreshing and it’s meant to be good for you to. It can be hard to find lemongrass tea on its own with any other added flavour, so Teapigs and T2 are godsends. I’m looking forward to trying more T2 tea but I think I’ll be steering clear of some of their herb tea blends as I noticed reading the back of the packets in their store that a lot of them have added sugar, you don’t need that in herb tea.

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Reading: I’m still binging my way through Stuart MacBride’s back catalogue, although I will admit the one I’m currently on, Dark Blood, isn’t quite as good as the others. I am currently listening to the audiobook of Child 44, having meant to read it for years, sigh if I’d realised it was by the same author as The Farm, which I did not like, I may have put off reading Child 44 indefinitely, ok it is better than The Farm but still, I’m not loving it.

Wanting: time to speed up and I know I shouldn’t be wishing my life away.

Looking: I was at the ‘What is Luxury?’ exhibition at the V&A recently, some beautiful exhibits.

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Playing: I’m still die hard Plants vs Zombies through and through but I’ve recently discovered Does Not Commute, a driving game with a difference. It’s very hard / I’m crap at it (take your pick) but that makes it an ideal game for me, as I’ll pick it up, play it for one round and then, most of the time, put it down again, so it’s not a time waster but by picking it up a few times a day I manage to get further and further through each round, as I slightly improve with practice. It’s been a nice reminder for the general principle in life that practice does make ‘perfect’, as now when I play the game I’m completing bits easily that I struggled with a few days previously.

Deciding: I’m due a number of operations, likely towards the end of this year and into the next and I’ve had to make a number of decisions, some of which are a bit “argh am I doing the right thing?”. Never before in my life have I quite had to be my own advocate as I’m having to be now.

Wishing: my time away (WHICH I SHOULD NOT BE DOING) as I just want these operations over and done with.

Enjoying: Stuart MacBride books (most of the time).

Waiting: (see wanting, deciding and wishing)

Liking: a part of my job where I’m working with wonderful clients for a brilliant cause, it makes all the difference.

Wondering: what the next 5 years is going to be like, not brilliant I suspect.

Loving: seeing my son really enjoy a recent residential trip, once again he’s doing and loving stuff I never imagined he’d grow up to do when he was younger.

Pondering: where my life is leading.

Considering: not much to be honest, planning ahead is not my forte at the moment.

Buying: nothing, I’m broke.

Watching: the alternative Channel 4 election coverage was pretty good in a spoonful of sugar to help the bitter pill go down sort of way. I’m still watching and loving Critical and I’m sad that they haven’t renewed Banished. And I am of course watching Game of Thrones.

Hoping: that one of my ops is going to be sooner rather than later.

Marvelling: at how brilliant the NHS is and if those toffee nosed gits hurt it even more …….

Cringing: at the election results last night.

Needing: the housework fairy, oh yes, sorry that’s me.

Questioning: some of my treatment plan but thanks to a nice GP hopefully it’s going to get changed.

Smelling: Boy Lacer’s apple tree, the blossom from it has been smelling really nice this year, it’s been a pleasure to go into that part of the garden.

Wearing: tshirts and knee length skirts, even if the weather has turned cold again and consequently meaning I’m cold again.

Following: @StuartMacBride (funnily enough), @abbeyglassenberg (as she has some fantastic creative business advice), @thecatreviewer (for cute and funny reviews of cats you meet in the street) and @Cassetteboy (because he’s a genius).

Noticing: that it’s the people who aren’t on social media (or ok, maybe they’re on Facebook) who are making the decisions on who runs this country.

Knowing: that the next 5 years aren’t going to be brilliant for this country.

Thinking: I need to get a move on and get ready to go to the dentist.

Admiring: Ed Miliband, I think he did a brilliant job in the face of rabid right wing, biased, non dom, tax avoiding owned press. I hope he picks himself up from this and continues to fight for what he believes in.

Sorting: not enough, I’ve let my paperwork pile up again.

Getting: nothing (see buying).

Bookmarking: various pages in the hormone diet book, so that I can go and double check the figures I’m not following.

Coveting: most of the contents of Cass Art.

Disliking: the new government.

Opening: soup.

Giggling: at Stuart MacBride books.

Feeling: disjointed.

Snacking: the kids YoYo rolls, which are healthy but still probably ‘way too much’ carbs (why am I on this diet?).

Helping: I’m still helping with the school leavers hoodies, it is taking a surprisingly long time.

Hearing: The Show Poniesstill.

**You can play along with Taking Stock over at Meet Me at Mikes**

#TSNEM April – gouache painting

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(excuse the badly lit photos, rush job blog post)

This month I’ve been trying to improve my not very good drawing skills by following Drawing and Illustration Basics on Creative Bug, led by Heather Ross. I’m still working my way through it but I’ve had lots of fun so far, even if my self confidence is swinging like a weather vane in a hurricane. Below are some of my ‘best’ bits. But still, practice, practice, practice.

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Doll houses at the Museum of Childhood

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Sindys – the blonde one in the middle reminds me of a Sindy my sister used to have, my Sindys used to be more dark haired and secretaryish

Me and the kids went to the V&A Museum of Childhood today, principally to do a couple of workshops but we thought we’d have a look at the dolls houses exhibition to (we also had a look around some of the other exhibits, which is where I saw the blast from my past Sindys). The workshops were very good (making a paper house and illustrating a story) and we liked the dolls houses as well, although personally I preferred the more modern ones (although the level of details in all of them was astounding). I also liked how the exhibition used the dolls houses to illustrate how the buildings we live in have changed, from large old houses, to lodging houses, to Surrey stock broker houses, to blocks of flats. There was some good dressing up opportunities to (as always).

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I think our absolute favourites though were the art pieces at the end, where they had got various artists and designers to design dolls house rooms in simple wooden boxes. Below are some of our favourites from that display.

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I always dreamed of an underwater aquarium bathroom by Katy Christianson

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Home is bear the heart is by Mister Peebles

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Library (a recent plan) by Liberty Art Fabrics Interiors

 

Capture Real Life – week 2 – guilty pleasure

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The challenge for week 2 of capture real life was guilty pleasures and I thought long and hard about this. Until recently my guilty pleasures were coke zero and chocolate but I’m not drinking / eating those anymore and anyway, even when I was I think there was more guilt involved than pleasure. So what was my guilty pleasure? And then I knew, Plants vs Zombies!

I’m not, as a rule, that into computer games, I do have a very long standing relationship with the game Civilization but I try not to play that because an hour on that can quickly turn into a day and anyway, my middle aged Mac can’t play the newest version and I’m still sulking about that. I’ve flirted with Angry Birds in the past (hasn’t everybody?) and I am partial to a bit of Peggle (although the latest version is a bit of a preemium rip off, so I don’t play that anymore) but I am totally and utterly faithful to Plants vs Zombies.

I came late to Plants vs Zombies, I remember the kids and Mr. Lacer being very into the original and I was as usual “Oh god, not another computer game” but then, in a moment of weakness / boredom a few months later, after the initial family fandom had died down, I downloaded it onto my Mac and I was hooked. When the new version came out I was as giddy as a school girl and I still am every time they release new levels for it (like right now some more new levels are due and I am beginning to check my iPad for updates at a very unhealthy frequency and I know there will be some squealing when they come).

Mr. Lacer and Girl Lacer are not into Plants vs Zombies anymore, well ok, Girl Lacer still plays Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare quite a lot but it’s me and Boy Lacer who are the hard core fans (me more so than Boy Lacer). I can not start my morning without playing the daily Piñata party and when I’ve run out of levels to play (like I have at the moment, which is why I’m even more excited about the new Ice Age levels coming soon), I’ll often play the Endless Zones.

I am trying to cut down on the tech time in my life but Plants vs Zombies is definitely going to stay; I love that I can share the one iPad game I play with my computer mad son, I love that the developers are always keeping the game fresh with new content, I love that although it’s a preemium game they don’t make it impossible to progress without spending real money and I love how fun and colourful it is (eek I sound like I’m either middle aged or a pre-schooler with that last one). So it’s my guilty pleasure because a small part of me says I shouldn’t be so hooked but it gives me so much pleasure I don’t care and as you can see, I’ve got the tshirt to prove it!

The zombie and the peashooter were hand drawn by me using tutorials from here. I added them to my photo using Photoshop which was definitely another #TSNEM for me this month as I’ve never done anything that ‘advanced’ with photoshop before and it was a definite learning curve!

Previous weeks

Week 1 – day and night

Week 3 – nature

#TSNEM

January – acrylic painting

February – ribbing and using layer masks in Photoshop

#TSNEM January – acrylic painting

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My #TSNEM this January was acrylic painting, I’ve always wanted to encourage myself to do more (like some at all!) painting and drawing and I’ve always been a bit disheartened because I’m not very good at it but in the back of my head there’s always that voice going “Well you’re not going to get good at something unless you practice!”, so I’m practising! And I think I may have found another clue as to what my painting and drawing ‘thing’ is, I prefer and am more comfortable creating modern / non realistic art, as put it this way I can’t do realism at all anyway! And also, when I think about it, if you could give me a day where I could visit a modern art gallery or a ‘traditional’ art gallery but not both, I would go for the modern art gallery every single time, so I guess it should be a case of draw / paint what you love then.

Anyway, my first acrylic painting was very much done with lots of virtual hand holding via a tutorial on Creativebug by Lisa Congdon called Paint a Geometric Star and I found it to be very helpful and inspiring and I really enjoyed the entire process, so I definitely plan on doing more! I particularly liked how the process forces you to do it in small steps; the straight lines were created with artist tape and so you could only paint small sections at a time and as it required several layers for each section, the whole thing took me over a week I think. I’ve been doing a lot of housework recently, in particular in my bedroom / makeshift (because I don’t have anywhere else) craft space (I know the top of my chest of drawers in the photo above looks messy but honestly but that’s it in its tidy state!) and so I would get out my acrylic paints and my in progress painting, paint a section or two, go off and do some housework and then come back and paint another layer, do more housework and so and so on. So it made a fantastic mini creative break between all the drudgery.

I’m really looking forward to my #TSNEM February now!

#craft365 day 151 – 180

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Day 166 – the mood blanket continues

I always find the month after Christmas an odd one crafting wise (and in other ways to, thinking about it), I’ll have just finished a whole load of projects (or given up on them and bought a last minute present instead) and that means a new month means, potentially anyway, the chance for a whole load of new projects. But at the same time I tend to be embroidered out (if that is at all possible) and it’s a time when I look at my long term wips that are now so long term that they classify as something I started last year and I don’t want to really start anything new.

have started some new projects mind you and have already given up on one of them, they were

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Day 165 – sky 2015 needlepoint

I’ve given up on this already, I really really like the idea of recording sky colour daily, like with my sky scarf but the sky scarf wasn’t really that accurate with the choice of two colours of wool each day out of a choice between dark grey, light grey, dark blue, light blue and white. There are after all a lot more shades of blue and if you’ve chosen to combine a blue wool with a grey or white wool to represent the cloud colour that day, it’s like I said, a bit inaccurate. So, not wanting to knit another sky thing (although making a sky blanket one year might be good, as that way you get round the tangling wool issue I had with the scarf), I decided to do some needlepoint. Obviously with needlepoint you can only use one colour per day but I chose a greater range of colours and I was planning on going on actual sky colour, ignoring the cloud colour, unless the sky was completely overcast. But, whereas it was easy (if not, like I say, completely accurate) to look at the sky each day and go ‘dark grey, dark blue’ for example and then remember it to write it down later, even with my little coded card I made, which you can see in the photo above, it was hard to remember which colour was which day. I had planned to take the little card around with me but I’m not that organised and even when I did, I was normally too busy at midday (when I’ve been making a note of the sky colour) to go and get the card out of my bag and work out which colour the sky most resembled. And as I found out, even though I had chosen a greater range of colours, it still wasn’t anywhere nearly enough to be accurate. So, for those reasons and a reason I will go into below, I’ve decided to stop.

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 Day 180

I have started (despite not finishing my 2014 version yet and being nowhere near finishing it – but I will) a 2015 mood blanket. I’m making it out of EPP hexagons this time and it is a darn sight quicker than knitting!

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Day 170

As I mentioned in my sky scarf post, one of the reasons why I did the sky scarf and mood blanket last year was to encourage me to become a more regular and (slightly more) confident knitter and it’s worked! I’m currently working on an adapted snood pattern from Wool & The Gang, which I absolutely love.

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Day 168

I’ve also been doing a bit more patchwork inspired by Lu Summers brilliant Quilt Improv* book which had me raring to do some patchwork pretty much as soon as I downloaded it. I think (realistically) it’ll be a while before I’ve finished making what I plan to do with these squares though.

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Day 178

I have also been doing some acrylic painting as part of my #TSNEM.

So, basically no embroidery in sight at the moment, but I remember very well that this happened last January to and then after a while my fingers began itching for my embroidery needles again and it all exploded in an explosion of embroidery (I could have thought of a better metaphor there). But there has been one other ‘crafty’ thing I’ve been doing in the past 30 days and it’s something that has made me realise that I can not have too many wips on the go at any one time, I’ve been reorganising my craft space. It’s still very much a work in progress but I’ve recently replaced the desk I was *ahem* supposed to be working on, with a new book case, as with the desk taking up space in my room I didn’t have enough storage space, so I used the desk as storage, hence no working space anyway. Replacing it with another bookcase (I already had three floor to ceiling bookcases in my bedroom, which are mainly filled with books), means that my stuff is stored vertically instead of horizontally and I’ve got more floor space which makes the space slightly more pleasant for what it’s really meant to be for, i.e. a bedroom, not a craft room. Rearranging my space is still ongoing, I need to continue having a massive clear out, I’ve been using the principles describing in this blog post from Wendi Gratz and it has been really really helping, I chucked out three bin bags worth of stuff yesterday and I think that’s probably only around 50% of the stuff that needs to go, probably even less. But going back to why decluttering has made me realise I can’t have too many wips on the go at any one time, it’s that when I’m not working on a wip I usually store it in bags, I find Cass Art bags great for storing larger projects, I have either handmade pouches or A5 pouches from Smiggle (the Smiggle pouches are fantastic as they have large zipped compartments which are good for separating out floss and they’re just about big enough for a small hoop) for embroidery and see through flat plastic wallets for cross stitch (I use tins as well sometimes for cross stitch to) and anyway, when I look at my new bookcase, I’ve come to realise that there are way too many Cass Art bags, pouches, folders and tins, all with wips, stuffed on it. So despite starting some new stuff this year, I really, really can’t start too much more, as I’ve literally got nowhere to put it and what I have got going is taking up too much space as it is. So I have to cut down both on my clutter and what I’m creating at any one time, so that means, in part, finishing some stuff!

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Day 179 – a small section of my new shelves

*affiliate link

October on Instagram

It’s been a busy month on Instagram for me, some of the photos have already appeared here or elsewhere but here are some that haven’t.

1st October

map cushion map cushion text16th October

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19th October

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I went for yet another one of my walks in Richmond Park, this time I thought I wouldn’t take my camera, instead use my phone if I saw anything, of course I pretty much instantly regretted it but I did get some good (I think) snaps, including these furry cows. Call me too much of a city dweller but I never knew that there were breeds of cow that were that furry or in fact that there were cows in Richmond Park. I don’t know if the cows are always there (they were in a bit I don’t normally walk in) or whether they are there over-wintering or something, they may possibly be the same cows I sometimes see by the river whilst I’m on the bus to Richmond (too far away to tell if they’re furry or not).

22nd October

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26th October

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And it was delicious.

27th October

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We went to Kew to do the deadly plants trail (now over sadly) which was great fun.

30th October

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But we got there eventually, if anything because we chose a spot where the view was partially obscured by some trees, but we still got to see the poppies pouring out of the window again, which is my favourite bit.

After that we walked into Shoreditch.

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To go and see The Art of the Brick exhibition, which was great fun and the kids (particularly Boy Lacer I think) really liked.

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