Friday, December 24, 2010

The day I ruined the Christmas cake

Today marked the day that I officially ruined the Christmas cake.
On this day, I have to admit that I am a disgrace to my profession as a designer.
Perhaps the Christmas cake was doomed from the start, because it did get a little too 'dark' on the outside during cooking. Some careful trimming of the cake was conducted (it was necessary actually) before the marzipan was applied. Marzipan must surely be hiding a multitude of burnt cakes up and down the land this Christmas.
I was quite happy with the cake at marzipan stage. I was even quite happy with it when the icing was applied. The downfall and ruin of the cake came in the decoration. Once I started I couldn't stop you see. I had cake glitter and sprinkles at my disposal. The result is this shameful specimen:

I'm really not sure anyone would want to eat it - the green glitter really does look like mould.
Delia advised of simple white icing and spring of holly leaves with berries. Wouldn't that have looked nice. Maybe I'll just hand everyone a pair of dark glasses with their slice of cake.

Cake aside, I'm sure we'll have a very Merry Christmas, and to anyone ready this tale of Christmas cake woe, I wish you a very Merry Christmas too.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A snowy adventure

For the last few weeks I've been hearing news reports about the heavy snow in the UK. In Berkshire we had seen only a sprinkling of snow, like the kind of icing sugar sprinkling that you put on your mince pies - i.e. nothing worthy of a mention.
It was Mr Monda's birthday on Friday, so we headed up to Stratford upon Avon to the Royal Shakespeare Company to see Matlida - the musical apadptation of the Roald Dahl book. The musical score was written by Tim Minchin so we had high hopes.
 It wasn't snowing when we left home - I checked the weather reports and we looked like we'd be good to drive to Stratford. We'd been travelling for about 2 minutes when out of nowhere, thick heavy snow started coming down. I've never seen anything like it, within about 60 seconds everything was white and we couldn't see the road in front of us, it was surreal. It lasted about 10 mins, and then stopped so we pressed on with the drive.

We had dinner at the new rooftop restaurant at the RSC - excellent food and good value for money too. Then we walked over the the courtyard theatre to see Matlida, which was just brilliant. I have no doubt it will be going to the London Theatres after it's initial run in Stratford.

We were staying in a little B&B just outside Stratford, and the plan was to spend Saturday pottering about the shops and having a bit of lunch before slowly making our way home.

The only bit of Saturday that managed to happen was the 'slowly making out way home' part. I'd been checking the weather reports constantly to ensure we didn't get stranded. We were prepared for it if we did though, we'd packed some food, sleeping bags, snow boots and a snow shovel just in case.
The reports were for heavy snow from lunchtime, so we decided we ought to make an early start and get home before the snow came. We managed to get as far as the M40 motorway before the snow started coming down, at about 9.45am. The roads were still passable though, so we pressed on, but the further south we came the heavier the snow got.
It wasn't ideal or even sensible to be in the car on snowy roads with heavy snow coming down, but really thought we'd be ok.
We managed to get about half way home before we came to a complete standstill. There had been an accident up ahead, we were on an incline, lorries had jack-knifed blocking the carriageway and cars were desperately trying to find some grip - many of them slipping and sliding backwards.
The scene was quite bizarre - a snow covered motorway, where people were jumping out of their cars to help push other drivers to get them started.
We spent just over 6.5 hours in the car, doing a journey that should have taken 1.5 hrs. It was stop start all the way, driving in second gear at about 20mph and trying to stay in the furrows of the car in front of us.

I managed to get a couple of pics on my phone. This is the M40 Motorway - 3 lanes had become one barely visible lane:

This is on one of the local roads in Berkshire. It looks like it could be Canada or somewhere in Scandinavia:

 Things I have learnt from my little snow adventure:
  • Weather predictions are just that - predictions. 
  • Driving in snow isn't fun. I won't be doing it again unless I absolutely have to. 
  • Snow hitting the windscreen at -3 degrees freezes and forms ice blocks on the windscreen wipers - rendering them almost useless.
  • All the cars that were stranded or needed pushing were BMW's. I've since found out that they are real wheel drive. Perhaps they should have tried driving backwards :o)
  • It might be worth investing in some snow socks for the car
  • To keep a snow shovel in the car, along with a coat, hat, gloves, blanket, torch, sleeping bag, food and something you can have a wee in if needed. There were plenty of men lining the sides of the snowy motorway having a wee, but I guess like me, the ladies were just crossing their legs!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

this is just the best thing ever

I love catching up on blog reading, it really opens my eyes to all the happy and wonderful things out there, like this:

Hurrah for Gemma Correll!

Monday, December 13, 2010

the usual suspects

or perhaps the unusual suspects!
This little bunch of bow tie kitties can now be found in my etsy shop

1. Henry, 2. Alexander, 3. Martha, 4. bow tie kitty, 5. Christophe and Lisa, 6. Jeremy, 7. Christophe, 8. Randolf, 9. Lisa

I'll have some more new items going into the shop throughout this week also - busy busy busy!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nathan and Anna

Nathan and Anna are looking for new homes:

They're waiting ever so patiently in my etsy shop to be adopted by kind cat lovers.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Handmade Christmas

I've been having a little look into the handmade Christmas flickr group and have picked out a few of my favourites to share:

I'd really like to see some more photos in the group, so please do upload pics of your creative Christmas makes

Is it just me or has Christmas just snuck up on us very quickly this year? As a kid, Christmas always seemed to take such a long time to arrive, from the time school finished until the big day seemed like such a long time. As a grown up I'm wondering how I can possibly cram in everything that needs to happen in before the big day arrives.
Most of the Christmas shopping is done, so this weekend begins the mammoth wrapping effort. We were actually due to have the in-laws visiting this weekend for the pre Christmas pressie swap, but as the snow and ice situation up north is still pretty bad they're quite rightly staying put.
I will need to look for a courier to deliver the presents for us. Any recommendations?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Stockings up!

I was supposed to be decorating the Christmas tree tonight but I decided to get some of my new Christmas stockings into my shop instead.

I have to say, I'm a little bit in love with the ones with the robins on - and I expect that they'll find a home here if they don't sell before the big day comes.

If however you do want to swipe a lovely handmade felted wool Christmas stocking for you or yours, then you can find them in my etsy shop here
This week is all about filling up the shop so I'll be adding new items every day this week.

Friday, December 03, 2010

baaa studs

I'm feeling quite pants today. I think I'm getting a cold - my nose is certainly quite drippy.
To cheer me up I looked for this YouTube video which I saw on rude tube a couple of days ago. I just love it.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

where I work

Life and work got in the way, you know how it is. I just realised that I never posted pictures of my new office/studio. This is where I spend my days:

It's still not perfect - there are things to hang on walls and some more storage options needed when I can brave a trip to ikea, but it's now a workable room and a guest room - the red sofa is a sofa bed.
It is important for me to have a space where I feel like I am going to work, even just into another room in the house. It also means that this room is now used every day. Previously it was just the spare/junk room, and was used only rarely.
I really like working right in front of the window. I get to see the world going, the seasons changing (those trees outside the window have no leaves on them at all now) by and the natural light is great, even in the winter months.

I'm still busying myself with lots of making. This week I've been working on small things -  phone/ipod cosies and some chunky bead bracelets: