Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Shock!!! Horror!!!!!


So this morning I had a shower and washed my hair.

Big deal!!

My fringe has been getting a bit long and scruffy but I can't afford a trip to the hairdressers at the moment so I grabbed my scissors, approached the bathroom mirror and began to snip.

THAT is not the problem.

While I was merrily trimming away I spotted a particularly bright highlight.

Not a problem in itself...

...'til you realise that I have about 2" of darker root regrowth, yet this 'highlight' went right down to the root.

Then I spotted more. All interspersed through my other hair.




I've officially got grey hair!!!

Maybe it's turned grey after the events of the past couple of days???

Such a shame he's gone... but he'll be back.


Monday, 27 October 2008

Shimmy Shimmy

Saturday night was the night of our amazing belly dance show -

The Secret Belly Dancers' Ball.

(I think I may have mentioned it...)

Here is a batch of photos to give you a taste of the night. It was a HUGE learning curve but went off pretty much without a hitch. ALl the ladies/girls looked stunning. I just can't wait to get a copy of the DVD to see everyone else.

(Because we were backstage we couldn't catually watch any of the performances.)

The ensemble. (I'm front right in red looking like a reject from The Mikado and BDB is next to me in purple.)

See what I mean about The Mikado? Just need some chopsticks stuck into my hair. This is me with my chums - Rose and BDB (Julia).

This is The Dance of Fours because - guess why... - we do it in groups of four. Clever eh?! I think it's proper name is Naila.

This is one of my fave's - The Duet. When we dance this it's a 'call and response' type of thing. One half of each pair performs a move then the other one repeats it. The idea is that it's a contest to see who's the best and who can show off the most. Due to lack of space on stage we couldn't all perform so, after the initial sequence, we had two pairs of feature dancers and the rest of us were the crowd cheering our favourite dancer on. It worked really well because there were so many of us there.

Here is a wannabe belly dancer practising after the show. Kiddie loves it! I rustled up this gypsy skirt for her on Friday so she could swish around too.

This stick dance we will be learning after half term. It is more a cabaret style of dance which would have been performed in clubs and restaurants where space was more restricted. Tighter, straight skirts would have been worn to prevent tangling with the cane and knocking glasses off tables!!

This is Maria - our lovely teacher! She is the brainchild behind the whole show. She stumped up the cash beforehand to hire the theatre, pay for printing, etc. She choreographed many of the dances, worked out all the stage direction, narrated between pieces AND created two solo dances for herself to perform. She also leant me her spangly red top and harem pants. Cheers love xxx.
This dance was the climax of the show, Maria using her 'wings of Isis'. Although they sound like an ancient Egyptian prop, they are actually a relatively modern tool to use in a dance. They look AMAZING!!

Ta dah!!! 'Tis me in mid-dance! Not sure which one but I look like I'm having fun!!

A bit blurry but this is the first part of The Duet. Me and BDB are in the background in red and purple respectively.

And here is a shot of us performing our gypsy dance. BIG swirly skirts are a MUST. This style of dance would have been performed in the streets by travelling gypsies so there would have been plenty of space to whirl and twirl around to great effect. Those skirts were such fun to wear. The bigger the movement you made, the more impressive it looked. The hemline was at least 8 yards. I made the pink one that Maria (on the right) is wearing and it is 10 yards. Doesn't sound much until you try to handle that amount of material. Hemming took forever!!!

So there you have it. That was my Saturday. Playing at dressing-up in loads of sequins and glitter, plastering on the make-up and then prancing about on stage. It's just like being a kid all over again! We had a whale of a time and can't wait for the next one.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Catching Up...Yet Again!!

So while I was lurgified, and just before I was struck down, this is what I was doing.

I made a tribal beely dance headdress for the show. Still needs more bits adding to it. And I may well NOT wear it but I had to have a go.

Kiddie has a party this afternoon. Her friend T loves animals, especially deer so she decided to make this card for him. She drew all the background and then collaged Bambi with a bit of towelling and twigs for antlers. Bless...

While she did that I made T a sock monkey as a prezzie cause I just didn't know what to get him. The use of proper, decent quality toy stuffing makes such a HUGE difference. All previosu mokeys have been so lumpy and bumpy but this little guy is quite smooth beneath his fluff.

This is what I've been tinkering with today...

This is the starting point for a couple of Christmas stockings. Lots of old lace - some crocheted, some old cotton lace, some broderie anglais - all appliqued to a background of a linen/cotton mix fabric. Will add some embroidery and vintage MOP buttons I think, then I'll show you the finished article.

This is an early attempt at a primitive doll, before I'd been to any classes, read any doll-making books, etc. I found her in my bag of lace scraps. She still has scope... The face is rubbish but I love her vintage button-covered body.

If you are in touch with me through Facebook you'll know we made a cake the other day. Yes!! Me!! Mrs Undomestic Goddess!! I made a cake from scratch using the Be-Ro Book. It was a bit thin but I think that was messing up quantities rather than not rising properly. It meant we had LOADS of luvverly buttercream. Yummy!

This is Ivy.

This is Holly.

These are Christmas tree hanging decorations.

This is the trees WIP.

See... I've been a busy girlie despite feeling like poo!! Actually I did spend 2 days in bed not feeling up to doing a damn thing but I'm on the mend. Yahoo!! Thanks for all the nice comments and messages. I love you all xxx

And, not content with one tag in a day, Daisie has sent me another.

Six random facts about me this time. Well she did actually ask me for 6 random facts about being ill so here goes...

1. When I have a cold I want to chop all my hair off!! I HATE the odd little wisps of hair that get in front of your face and tickle your nose. When it's itchy anyway that's the last thing you want. Consequently the postman has seen me twice this week with greasy hair scraped back using one of kiddie's hairbands. NOT a pretty sight.

2. I have been knocking back to 1000mg fizzy Vitamin C every morning and I'm convinced that's made me get better quicker.

3. I have one of those lovely dry flakey skin moustaches from too much nose blowing, so I will go to bed with my top lip plastered in Vaseline tonight. Gorgeous!!

4. My OH swears by that First Defence stuff but the idea of spraying something up my nose is a no-no. I would rather have a cold than a squirt Sinex up my hooter.

5. Possibly my most attractive full-of-cold look is the "shove-a-tissue-up-each-nostril-and-leave-it-there" look. This is something my sis and I both do. When your nose is just getting so raw from all the wiping and blowing that it's too sore to touch any more it's the only answer. Highly unattractive but very satisfying.

6. When I was a kiddie being ill prevented me from being on telly. I had entered a competition on Tiswas and won but I got bloody mumps so couldn't go on. It was going to be the full pull-you-up-by-the-ears-from-behind-the-desk job but instead I had to go a couple of weeks later and just be in the audience. How pants is that?!!

That's 6!!
I'll make a list of taggees later. Have got to go and cuddle a sickly kiddie. She's been to a party, troughed loads of party food plus her party bag and now feels sick and sorry for herself. She's also very tired.


Tuesday, 21 October 2008


I've been zapped by a couple of bloggy chums with this baby -

7 Random Facts About Me.

Please excuse the bunged up head which might make my answers a bit iffy but here we go...

1. I've had my 15 minutes of fame. In about 2004 our house was featured on House Invaders. Anna Ryder Richardson and the team came and revamped our kitchen, living room and bedroom. It was a real eye-opener to see behind the scenes of making this programme and all your suspicions are correct. The celeb presenter doesn't design anything!!! A chap came round a few weeks before to look at the paint, wood, fabric and stuff we had that they could use. He chatted about which rooms we wanted doing and came up with ideas and suggestions about what could be done. Before they arrived on filming day we had to clear most of the 'stuff' out of the rooms to be done. All my books, nick-nacks, kiddie's toys, etc were shoved in loads of plastic crates and dumped in kiddie's room, the dining room, anywhere the film crew weren't. At the end of the day we did The Reveal. It was genuinely a surprise as OH and I worked on a different room each and weren't allowed to peek at each other's handiwork until then. However, once we'd "ooohed" and "aahed" over the fab new clutter-free rooms and they'd finished filming, they wanted their crates back. Everything was basically tipped out of the crates all over the rest of the house and we spent the next 2 weeks finding new homes for it all.
We've moved house since then but we do have one momento left. The built kiddue a toybox out of - you guessed it - MDF and it's actually survived to this day. I've recovered the top as the zebra print they picked quickly got a bit tedious. It's now pink gingham and padded so kiddie can sit on it.

Crikey!! Is that only number 1?!

2. I am a bit of a hoarder. (Shut up mum and sis!!!) I love 'stuff'. When we moved to this house it was quite modern and minimalist. All cream and beige and tasteful. I'm gradually remedying the situation. It doesn't feel like home unless there is stuff on shelves and windowsills and in fact any flat surface. Dusting? What's that?

3. I had another brushette with fame last year. On a whim I rang the Steve Wright Show on Radio 2 and entered a quiz. It was a Bank Holiday so the show was actually hosted by Dara O'Briain. The quiz was about princes and was to win tickets to see Prince at the O2 Arena.

I WON!!!

OH and I had a fab trip down to London, a night in a hotel (which we paid for), and watched the purple dwarf from seats in a swanky celeb-style box at the O2 with a free bar and buffet.
A bit different to the last time we saw him. The whole gig was overshadowed by the fact that we hit a chunk of wood just after joining the M42 which ripped the fuel line out of OH's car. We then spent nearly 5 hours waiting for the AA to arrive!!!

4. (I know most of you know this by now but for those who don't) I do belly dancing. I love it. It's like being a little girl again and playing at dressing up. Sequins and glitter. Swishy skirts. Noisy jangly coin belts. Tinkly ankle bells. And it keeps you fit as well. We are performing in our first professional show on Saturday and I'm so excited. Just glad that my cold is going now. If you want to come it's at Tamworth Assembley Rooms. It will be a blast.

5. I am a true Brit. I love this country. I love the weather. Yes really. I love change of the seasons. OK when you get one grey day after another it does get you down a bit, but when you get a day like today... A crisp Autumn day. The sun is shining brightly but there's a little nip in the air. The nights draw in and you want to snuggle up with stodgy comfort food and warm drinks. Or when we do get snow that lovely muffling of sounds. And in Springtime when it just starts to get a little bit warm. I could never move to a hot country. Day after day after day of sunshine would drive me mad.

6. I am a terrible procrastinator. (I must remember to come back and create a link to an online dictionary. Later...)

7. I HATE the noise of eating. I can't stand it when there is no conversation at a dining table and all you can here is the noise of munching and chewing. Lips smacking... grrrrrr!!! It drives me mad!!!

OK. The deal is to tag 7 more people and to link back to the people who tagged me. Errr.. I can't remember who it was at the moment. Sorry. It's the bunged-up head that's doing it. I'll come back and edit this post when I find out (see point 6!!)


Monday, 20 October 2008


Sorry for the interruption in our transmission.

Am I the first female to contract man-flu??

I feel like pants (hence the title). It serves me right for feeling quite smug the other day. I have been surrounded by people with colds and viruses and other lurgies and I was secretly really chuffed that I had escaped all the germs.


I'll be back as soon as I feel a bit better. Right now I'm going back to bed.


Ha! Can't even be ill in peace. At 9.45 I got a call from school to come and collect kidlet. She's feeling poorly too!!!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Normal service will be resumed...


I hate computers!!!!

I hate the fact that I have become so reliant on ours.

My routine was completely loused up today.

Normally it's - take kiddie to school, come home, have coffee, read emails, read blog updates, check ebay then go and hit the sewing.

But today.....


I tried to boot up the 'pute and

nothing happened.


Throughout the day I have tried repeatedly to boot it up - nothing.

I have been sooooooooooooooooo frustrated not being able to check anything.

So I waited 'til OH came home and, on bended knee, begged him to have a look at it. And what did he do?...

He pressed the power button and the bloody thing booted up no problem!!!!

I hate computers!!!!!
but I love 'em too.


PS Yay!! Fonejacker's back!!!!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Right here, right now.

So here is what I am up to tonight. Quilt wall? What quilt wall? I am using masking tape and the laminate floor in the back room.

This is a patchwork quilt that I made when I was about 15 or 16. I cut every single hexagon and pieced every single one by hand. It took ages and at night I went to bed dreaming of hexagons.

At the time I didn't know anything about quilting. I'd seen a little wicker basket of hexagons at a house where I did babysitting and thought I'd like to have a go. To finish it off mum made a duvet cover out of a double flat sheet and appliqued the patchwork by hand. I have kept it all that time. It was on my bed at home, then went on the little sofa in our bedroom when we were first married and has more recently been on kiddie's bed.
And finally the time has come to quilt it properly. I really want a snuggly patchwork quilted throw to curl up under during the yucky winter months. So the duvet cover has been dismantled, chopped in half and washed. The patchwork has been repaired and the 1" (!!!) seams on the back of each patch have been trimmed to 1/4". I have just taped each layer to the floor and am starting to pin and then tack the 'sandwich' together.
The question now is - hand or machine quilting? And what pattern? Or do I go in the ditch for speed and ease? Hmm... Think I'm going to have to get the quilting books out for inspiration.

I've also been tinkering with dolls again today (surprise! surprise!). I've painted and sculpted a batch of heads to make Christmas fairies. Tomorrow I'll have a bash at making bodies for them and take some photos to show you.

In the final throws of my mega-clear out I've been flicking through my old sample sketchbooks from machine embroidery C&G. I have a book full of 'surfaces for stitch', where we played with different materials and stitch techniques. Some of these will make fantastic dolls costume pieces. I may take a few pics of pages from this and post them too. It was really exciting to unearth them. I now have that feeling of having too many ideas and not enough hours to do them which usually means I don't achieve very much at all. I flit from one thing to the next. Shout at me to stay focussed pleeeeease. :o)

Right back to the pins.


PS Did you see the Peter Kay thing last night? How fantastic was that?!?! lol

Sunday, 12 October 2008

This is... My Current Reading Material.

errr.... see the previous couple of posts... ;o)

My current reading material is my 5 new books!!!

Oh I love books!!!!


Saturday, 11 October 2008

I love the Postman (well actually it was a lady today)

Not 1.

Not 2.

3 yes 3, three, THREE parcels were delivered to The Spare Room this morning.


The first one was from Amazon. Lookie, lookie, lookie - I now have the full set of Patti Medaris Culea doll making books (well until her new one comes out in the next few weeks - nudge, nudge Santa). And how timely is this one, as I'm struggling to dress my Airy Fairies?... I sat and looked through it while waiting for my photos to upload and there is a whole chapter on fairies! I will finish writing this before I disappear to have a play.

The second book in the parcel was one of those false economy 'order-it-to-make-the-total-value-up-to-£15-so-I-get-free-postage' books, although it was on my Wish List so it'd not like I didn't want it. It's not a very thick book - at 32 pages it's more like a pamphlet - but it has some really good ideas for decorating and embellishing fabrics. Sometimes a skinny book is better for getting inspiration as a quick flick through a larger book can end up with you being distracted, and an hour later you've still not created anything cuz you've been too busy reading.

The next wee parcel was another one to renew my lost faith in eBay. I ordered these two days ago and -


- here they are. What are they? Two pairs of artery forceps - one straight and one curved. Still no wiser? They are fantastic for turning dolls once you've stitched them. Think of those long skinny legs... You've stitched all around the seam but how do you get your hand inside to turn it through? Forceps (or haemostats as they call them in America) are the answer. What makes them so great is that they lock shut so, once they have gripped the bit of fabric, you can yank as hard as you like, they won't 'let go' (your stitches may give way or your fabric may tear, but the forceps will still be holding on). You can also use them for stuffing said doll's legs, arms or any other skinny, fiddly thing you need to fill with stuffing. These ones were just a measley £2.50 for the two pairs (plus a bit of P&P) but they are worth their weight in gold. If you have trouble finding them, they are also sold to fishermen to remove hooks from mouths (disgorging I believe is the term), so if you have a fishing tackle shop round the corner Bob's your uncle.

And last but definitely not least - a box from France.

And in it is my Camper Van Goodness from the lovely Penny. This is her first swap and I just love what she has made. This cute bag has a really French country feel and with a scrummy blue camper on the front.

Just look at it!

A fabby, shabby camper in my favourite colour. I want it!

And it's lined in cornflower-patterned fabric.

I love cornflowers.

I love fabric.

I love my bag.

And there's more...

Penny has also knitted this little gem...

If you look carefully you can see the VW logo in the centre. How clever is she?!

It all came wrapped up in the prettiest flowery tissue paper, so even the packaging material was lovely.

Thanks so much Penny. It was great to be paired up with you.

Right. I'm off to make more coffee and to read my bookie-wooks.



Friday, 10 October 2008

Camper Van Swap

Camper Van Swap
Originally uploaded by ethel and edna
hahaha Here we go again. It's ths 'bus syndrome' - nothing for ages then a load all one after the other.
Forgot that Penny has now received her swap stuff so I can show off my Camper Van Swap project.
I'm (not so) secretly chuffed with this. Not bad for a first attempt.
Penny (my swap partner) lives in rural France and has loads of photos of her gorgeous garden and the countryside near where she lives. I really wanted to incorporate these flower meadows with a red and white, like she and her husband used to own.
The camper is appliqued using bondaweb and free maching to make it look 'sketchy'. The backing fabric is an old linen dress of kiddie's which was already printed with the flowers, some of which are embroidered. The whole thing is stretched over a shop-bought canvas. There are more photos on Flickr is you want a closer look.
peep peep!

Bad eBay, Good eBay, Airy Fairy and Goodness

I know. I know. It's been ages (apart from yesterday). I've been a bit pre-occupied with a mega workroom sort out (which I won't bore you with - same old, same old...) and trying (but failing) to get 3 dolls made. But more of them in a bit.

First off I'd just like to say a HUGE thank you for all your lovely comments yesterday. It's nice to know you care :o). Sorry to Nick Nack for making you cry. I'll warn you next time.

So, eBay. Last week I had a reminder of what a gamble it can be to buy stuff off the dreaded site. I paid for a pair of boots. A bargain selling price but the postage (as ever) bumped the cost up a bit. They were described as being in very good, used condition. This is what they looked like when they arrived...

Both back seams were split. Now I agree they were used but the very good condition bit was a blatant lie. I emailed the seller pronto and told her I wasn't happy and wanted a refund, please. I said if she'd refund the total amount I'd pay to return them to her. Her response was that she'd refund the selling price only if I posted the boots back to her. Now am I missing something here? Is it me that's stupid? I would be paying to have the boots posted to me and to post them back again. I would end up with nothing and have paid £5.50 for the priviledge. OK. £5.50 is a massive amount but it's the principle of the thing. Why should I be out of pocket when she has sold me these manky boots?
Well I replied that I'd rather keep them, take it on the chin and give her negative feedback. I've her nothing else from her. It does make me mad though. I'd never do that to someone. If I ever accidentally sent out something that wasn't up to scratch I'd refund the price and tell them to keep it or refund the whole shebang if they wanted to return it. No quibble. Grrrr.


By contrast today, one of those lovely brown UPS vans pulled up outside. The chappie leapt out of the cab with a big brown box which contained not one, not two but three luvverly new books. This is the first. The one I should have bought at the K&S Show but didn't. This cost me £3.22. No I haven't missed off a 1 - that's three pounds!!!

This was the second book. A fantastic source of inspiration and she's a fab lady too. This one was expensive - £8.22.

Number three bookie is one of those that you need to complete your craft book collection. I've wanted it for a long time but never had the urge to splurge 'til now. Well I say splurge - £4.48.
So for £16 something I got three fabulous books in pristine condition (not second hand). OK the postage was a bit steep at nearly £9 but it came by carrier 'cause books are heavy. But it came the next day. Perfection. It's like Christmas and I've got 2 more on their way from Amazon. Talk about splurge...

So the dolls that have been giving me grief... These are them. The Airy Fairies. My plan was to have them finished for yesterday well actually my plan was to make 9 of them!! Three were going on etsy, three on Folksy and three of eBay. The idea was to sell them and donate a precentage of the profits from each to the three charities that helped look after my dad - The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Cancer Research UK and St Giles Hospice.


I didn't manage to get one of them completed, let alone 9!! Faces went wrong, hair caused problems, headdresses couldn't be resolved, clothing was a nightmare.
So instead I'm going to take a bit more time over them and then sell them in the run-up to Christmas. They will be very twinkly and sparkly Christmas Fairies.
Just keep watching.

I won a competition/draw on Daisie's blog last week. Yay!! And the sneaky woman sent my parcel of prizes much sooner than she'd told me she would. Look at all this fab stuff...

I can't photograph it all as this post is picture-heavy as it is but isn't she clever and kind and lovely?
Small bits of Chrstmasness are creeping in as well. I love this little jar of Christmas Cheer. :o)
Thanks so much. It really cheered me up xx

On Wednesday I went with mum and her chum to Hooty's - No, not the chain of topless bars - a warehouse type place of in Willenhall. Here's a photo of just a bit of my haul of goodies. The little boxes of glittery stuff and beads and sequins. A colour themed pack of six boxes (3 sequins and 3 beads) was 99p!!! 15 metres of strung sequins for 99p!! Packs of ribbon roses 59p!! I filled a trolley. It was great.

OK. So we're up to date again now. I'll try to be a bit more regular with my posts. Perhaps I should rename my blog? Not "Stuff and Nonsense from the Spare Room" but "Erratic Utterances from the Spare Room" or "Regular as the Buses"??

Right must fetch the kiddie back from dancing.



Thursday, 9 October 2008

How I Wish You Were Here...

Today I make no apologies for the fact that my post is going to be self-indulgent and not very cheerful. (I just apologise to mum, my brother and sister if they read it and it upsets them xxx).

Two years ago today my dad lost his battle with lung cancer and I miss him more now than ever.
Whilst I don't want to 'celebrate' this date in anyway, I did want to remember him and show everyone else a small glimpse of who he was.

First and foremost a snappy dresser, he always said that he set trends he didn't follow them. This is something that most people who have seen my wardrobe would agree is something that I've inherited. Fashion sense?? Huh?

This is one of my first Christmases (early 70s). I look about 3 or 4. Smashing roll neck jumper!

This is a much more recent photo, as you can see from the date stamp. His hair is a bit fuzzy as it grew back after chemo looking like the fluff on a baby bird's head. (He's playing with his new digi camera - hence the bizarre expression).

This was one of his favourite places and luckily we managed to get him here for one final holiday. Holywell Bay. I took this driving down the hill into the village and didn't notice the little wisp of cloud until we got home and put the picture on the computer. Do you think it looks like a face in profile?

His other major passion was music and this is definitely something that has passed on to me (and my brother and sister). At home there always used to be music playing - be it radio or an LP from his massive vinyl collection. The playlist that's running at the moment is some classic "Geoffie-Music", as my friend Alyson used to describe it. Unfortunately there were some tracks I couldn't find - 'Embrace Me You Child' by Carly Simon (better NOT play that one today) and 'Sweet Painted Lady' by Elton John are just a couple and 'Ventura Highway' by America. See if you can track them down as they are worth a listen. His tastes were very eclectic. Some are going to make people jump, wince, laugh, cry but still no apologies.

I miss you and pray you are now where you believed you'd be.


Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Body Parts

I walked into kiddie's room this morning to open the curtains and tidy up a bit, and was greeted by this

and this

OK. So just what are Barbie and Ken up to?

Are they playing at highwaymen?

Has there been a chemical terrorist attack on Barbieville?


Maybe the last picture will help you, especially if you have been watching the current major storyline in Holby City...

Yes Barbie and Ken are surgeons and are currently in the middle of separating a pair of conjoined (Siamese) twins!

Do you think I should have made her go to bed a bit earlier??

I mentioned that I've been struggling with doll's boobies - well here they are.

Hmm... still not entirely sure but maybe when she has all her other bits and bobs attached and she's dressed she'll look a bit better.

And this is my next project but I've had to interrupt this to finish the camper van swap. Yay!! Inspiration struck last night...

... or rather this morning at about 4.20 when I got woken up by rain lashing the bedroom window and a small girl nuzzling into me. (OH is away at the moment and I've managed to have the bed to myself since Saturday night. Until last night that is.) Yup! Nearly finished my camper van jobbie and I quite like it myself actually. I always do this with swaps - make things that I'd like to keep for myself. Anyhoo, I'll post pictures (or at least glimpses) once my camera battery is charged.

Oh! The 'eggs'? They're heads for some very special dolls that I'm going to make. Watch this space...