Thursday, 30 December 2010

Happy New Year!

Christmas has been and gone: all the fuss for one short day...

The run up was fierce busy, but when all is said and done, its the way I like it!

Cramming Carol Services into the last week,
all the chit-chat from the children at School,
and the final jolliness in town with everyone wishing everyone else a Happy Christmas.
The snow was rather an impediment this year, but things got done eventually.

The best part of Christmas Day is always the extended family Dinner in the evening, extended family and extended Dinner, and possibly distended family as well! It was rowdy and great fun- Mom cooked up a storm, as usual, and despite certain people trying to auction off the carrots, it was a real feast!

So all that's left to do is to wish yous:

All the Very Best for 2011 and here's hoping its a Good One!

Monday, 20 December 2010

And the Post gets through!!

By Friday evening our lane was impassible with snow, so everyone left their cars down at the end, just off the main road, and walked home.

Mid-morning Saturday there was quite the party going on down there as everyone got together and started to dig themselves out, with the help of a friendly tractor.

And then who should turn up but...the Post! It was as far as the van could get, so he delivered to the four houses down there, and then to all the cars' snow-clearing crews!
And look what arrived for me!

A box from I wonder whatever could be inside??

There was all of Friday's groceries still in the car, so everything was bagged and boxed, and tied onto the toboggan for the trek home.
Quite a haul for the poor huskies, and mostly uphill too...
I couldn't wait to unpack the box...and look! Even nicer than it looked in Jane's Shop!!
A real Wreath is hung on the front door with snow all around...don't you think?
So, Jane, this is a really real wreath!! Isn't it just gorgeous?
(You'd better hurry if you want one for yourself, and no, you can NOT have mine!)
I love Christmas!

Friday, 17 December 2010

School Carol Service

After WEEKS of preparation and anticipation, both in school, and in Church with the organist, finally Friday 17th dawned...

It was a county covered in snow!

But, despite abysmal road conditions, to say nothing of no school transports, the brave and hardy students of a certain enthusiastic National School turned out for their annual Carol Service! It began late, as parents struggled in and teachers dusted falling snow off their willing singers, but it HAPPENED!

And it went well!

And despite the weather I think there was a record attendance of families, as well as the next door secondary school students, which was lovely for all of us. The children sung their hearts out, and I hope the Story of Jesus' Nativity touched a few hearts and reminded folk of what this season is really about.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Unwanted Germs and an Apology

I know, I know: I never posted this week's Friday Craft.
I'm verra sorry, really, and my only excuse is that I was just too wrecked last night...pathetic, don't tell me...
The last two days I've taught all 200 plus children in the School as well as sorting logistics for the actual Service in the Church to avoid collisions as well as lengthy pauses.
And now I've a stonking cold and sore throat!
I ask you!
Wouldn't any self-respecting germ have the nous to know when he was totally unwanted and just stay clear?
But no!
In they come all jolly pleased with themselves yelling:
'Party! Irish Sucker Found! Roll Up! Roll Up!'
It would make you sick......
Ah well.
If you are interested, my Etsy packages have begun to arrive! We had no post until Friday of this week when the Postman finally got through our lane, so the HEAP that came through the letter-box was a delight in itself!
So far I stand by my opinions in Monday's post, every item is either beautiful or pretty, and at the very least, exactly as described, mostly even better. My family is going to be soo happy and I'm having a seriously difficult time keeping all these secrets!!
What to do, huh?
And on the Music front, the various classes are progressing, the Infants are managing to keep in time and get the words mostly right, so I've decided that progress on two fronts is quite satisfactory, and am giving up on the tuneful singing aspect...I'll leave the miracle working to Our Lord!
Youngest and Middlest have decided that they really need to sing 'Walking in the Air' in the Church Carol Service Sunday 19th,
and luckily the Dean has agreed that one secular piece of Music will be acceptable...
(I suspect that it might also be something to do with the fact that Aled Jones is Welsh? Like himself...)
So, despite them weaselly germs, things do be fallin' inta place, so they does!
And all the snow and ice has melted- thanks be to goodness!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Snow Days

Today is the third 'Snow Day' out of School this week. I was there briefly on Monday, and the School Yard was one huge sheet of ice. Since then it has repeatedly snowed and freezed...fruzzed...frozen so we await the thaw.

I'm trying not to panic over the state of the Music for the Carol Service which happens Friday 17th, ready or not! But I have been promised free rein on Thursday to catch up with all the classes in the School- can you imagine what it'll be like?

Anyhow I have put the time to good use, craft-wise, and have been crocheting and knitting away. This morning I went shopping with Mom and the pavements in town and the parking lots remain just awful. It doesn't seem to have occurred to very many Businesses that clearing the paths outside their own doors would be a kindly public-spirited gesture.

However on the whole it seems that many people are looking out for their neighbours, and certainly, out by us, the farmers are all keeping the roads as passable as possible...say that ten times fast!

Still, roll on the thaw! I know that very many of you, like Ulla and Elaine and Diane deal with much worse snow and ice for the entire Winter months, but as one of you said last year, your places are better at coping...if this is going to become normal for Ireland, we are going to need to take lessons from you people!!

P.S. I've been playing with my Banners and have kind of matching ones for here and the shop! Don't you love stars?!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Christmas Shopping...on Etsy!!

Over this last weekend I've been doing my Christmas Shopping.
For us, presents are more than a token, but definitely not extravagant. The three daughters get useful items, and a certain number of requests (including, generally, six months' worth of toiletries and stationary!!).
My point is, that everyone gets something, but it is small, and staying within a budget whilst trawling the shops, or finding time to make something meaningful for everyone can be very trying.
Enter my brilliant idea for this year: Christmas Shopping on Etsy!
Firstly; I'd be supporting people like me, who are trying to make some extra pocket money to keep going through the times that are in it.
Secondly; consider the bliss of not having to battle the crowds in the shops?
Thirdly; I might possibly avoid costly mistakes if I'm not being harried and panicked, well, hopefully...
I have to say that I have just about everything bought, and now all I have to do is sit back and wait for the postman to deliver things!
There are a few items I need in town, but I know exactly what they are and where to buy them, and there are three things I need to sew, one big, one small, and one to finish off.
Howzat for stress-free present buying?
...and, what's more, it was fun, and...
...I met some lovely people, and...
...a couple of sellers gave me special deals...
...and I've got exactly what I wanted, as well as individual and special presents!
These are the Shops I used, if you are interested
(I'm not telling you what I got! Secrets must be kept!!).
I tried to shop local but many things just aren't made by Irish Sellers, so I went further afield, and then some Sellers had such gorgeous things that I just thought 'What the heck!' and went for it!!
Vickie Wade Fine Art : ab-so-lute-ly GORGEOUS posters of her Art!
Around The Island Photography : I've had my eye on Robin's photographs for a while now, and her new Photoverse venture is great!
First Fan, Cottage Jewellery : (Irish Seller) lovely costume jewellery, pretty and not clunky!
Ritz Glitz 555 : (Irish Seller) You have to see her dichroic glass, its iridescent and sooo beautiful...
Happy Cloud Supplies : I won one of her Star Necklaces back in the summer, so of course I went back for some beads and things! She has two Shops, Happy Cloud Moments has her jewellery in.
Mels Bells Cloche Hats : If you are a hat person, you've gotta check these out! I could easily buy half the shop, like maybe a hat to go with every jersey? and season...and occasion...and...
Dragonfly 1750 : (Irish Seller) These silk scarves aren't just bee-u-di-fulll, but also VERY reasonably priced! I'll be baaack...
Jewels by Jane : if you want some Wall Art you'd better move fast...I've already got the best one...hee! hee!
Eastwitching : You have to go and drool over Alison's Art! Each animal and bird has such character, and is so colourful!
Hearts and Laser Beams : I didn't really know what I was doing here, what with wanting to use my own photos, but Steph emailed me and she's made it all easy as pie! Efficient too!
Gifting Girls : Exactly what I wanted for a very reasonable price, including postage! Go Girls!
And that, mes amigas, is my shopping done!
Lots of time now for all the things I really want to do!
(Such as persuade the Junior and Senior Infants to sing in tune.....?? 9.20am Monday!)

Friday, 3 December 2010

Gold Stencilled Jar

Welcome to Friday's Craft, people! I hope you are ready to make a lovely mess!
This week I stencilled a jar with gold paint, using the ubiquitous ivy leaves as stencils. After I had done it I was in the Senior Infant Classroom and saw them making paper snowflake stencils, and I thought that would be a lovely idea too. A lacy, paper cut-out design!
I chose a tall jar, and pulled the leaves off some of my house plants:
To stick the leaves onto the jar, I just doubled over pieces of sellotape, but double-sided tape would be useful either:
I stuck just four leaves around the jar, but I could have used more, or stuck some high and some lower:
Then, since it was bitterly cold and snowy outside, I spread newspaper on the kitchen floor and sprayed gold paint onto the leaves. By holding the nozzle directly over each leaf, the outline remained fairly crisp, but it would be easy to splash spray under the leaves:
It took about half an hour to dry, but I was afraid of smudging it, so it may have been ready sooner. Carefully peel off the leaf, and remove the loop of sellotape...oops, not as crisp an outline as I thought!
Work your way around the jar, keeping the lovely gold leaves...then drop in a candle, light it with a taper ( I used a twig!) and there you are!
I haven't decided what to use the leaves for, but they are lovely. Probably the door wreath, in another week or so.
You could put other things in the jar-
for instance a group of long thin candles sticking out the top,
or a string of fairy lights, if your jar was large enough,
or those chocolates wrapped in shiny coloured cellophane would look pretty...

If you'd like to see our snow, I'm posting the photos I took today on The Scenic West blog.
Youngest and I and the dogs went tobogganing this afternoon after I returned from School, and had a great time!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Thankful Thursday

Hey look, you guys! I actually remembered that it's Thursday!
Whoop-di-doo! Tally ho! Tiddly-pom! and all that sort of thing!!
So here goes:
Firstly: Thankful for the beautiful sunshiny amazing weather we've had this week! Sub zero temperatures, snow and ice, but so very, very beautiful!

Secondly: Thankful that my car has, so far, decided to stay on the road, despite the temptation to slalom through ditches and across the it did last winter! Its been very well behaved!
Thirdly: (I'm not blowing my trumpet here, I'm just really grateful), I received TWO blog awards during November.

This one from Kathy at Cottage Garden Quilter:

with a lovely comment...

and this one from Hazel at Hazel Loves Design:
with another lovely comment!
As Deborah says- Kindness Matters! Its nice to receive nice comments!

Fourthly: Thankful for firewood, a warm house, and the finances to keep us warm this winter. Not everyone is as lucky, I know.

Fifthly: (is there such a word?) The car got a puncture last night, late, but it was whilst the Hub had it, not me. I'm so thankful it wasn't me trying to change the tyre in the middle of the night at -5 degrees (where's the little 0 for degrees on the keyboard, by the way?), and he was thankful too. With just one car(that goes!), rural living can be complicated enough...

Off now to visit Greg's and link my Thankful Thursday post- is Greg ever going to fall off his chair when he sees me after all this time...or what!!!!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Doll Factory and Snowy Rose!

The Doll Factory continues to stitch away, and two more commissioned dolls were finished this morning: a girl doll...
...and a boy doll, the first boy doll I've made. I was wondering how to dress him so I looked up some illustrations of Tom Sawyer for ideas! Both dolls have the children's names stitched onto their boots, as they are intended as Christening presents.
I started this doll last night, just for fun, and finished her late today, so she will go into the Shop presently. Youngest supervised the 'hair-do'!!
When I was out earlier there were some late roses bowed under the weight of snow, which looked quite incongruous! I bet they are sorry they hung around so long!
The roads are gradually clearing and the snow melting a bit each day, but the highest day time temperature is only 1 degree, and by 7pm last night it was already -3 degrees: this is almost unheard of for here. Driving is hairy!!
I forgot to finish making Middlest's curtains, so I'm working on them now, and adding a length of thermal lining I had stored in the trunk, as I reckon it might help keep the cold out. Of course she could re-hang her old curtains, even if they do clash with the fresh painted bedroom walls, but no!!
And now to School, for a few hours of Music and Carol Service chaos...I mean, practising!!
Don't forget, the December Special starts in the Shop today!!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Last Saturday...

On Saturday morning I got up to...
a take over bid of my kitchen by cinnamon men biscuits!
and an industrious Youngest...
Snow on the skylights...
...and an iced up lane way!
We made it to Church on Sunday, despite a further snowfall and below 0 temperatures, the main road was like an ice rink.
But when we got back a neighbouring farmer had been out spreading hot cinders on the hill, so we didn't have to abandon the car at the barn as we feared.
Middlest arrived in Church and came home for the day, which was lovely...well, until the snowball fight moved indoors...two shrieking teenagers, two large over-excited dogs, a number of flying snowballs, and a warm kitchen, sure make for a soggy combination!!
And a Happy Advent to you too!!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Festive Napkin Rings and Special Offer!

Welcome to this Friday's Crafts! I thought I'd do something quick and easy today, partly as its been a long and busy day for me! Part of this morning was spent in School teaching a class of 6/7 year olds to play hand bells to accompany their song in the Carol Service...great fun...please pass the ear plugs?

For the Napkin Rings I used 12" pipe cleaners, or chenille sticks, as they appear to be called nowadays, and some funky beads. I don't expect you'll all have the time to rush away to South Africa to get similar beads, but never mind about that!

The size of the beads will probably dictate how many you string onto one pipe cleaner, also, whether you want to conceal the pipe cleaner, or have part showing, as I did.
I bent the pipe cleaner into two loops, pushing one end into a middle bead...
...and then the other end into the same bead...but the two ends can easily go into different beads if you want a wider ring. By pushing the ends into beads, I covered the ends of the wires, which I was afraid might catch on the napkins and snag important consideration as I intend using the good damask at Christmas.
An alternative Napkin Ring decoration is to twist greenery around a pipe cleaner...
...then loop the pipe cleaner into the correct size...
tuck in the ends...
and twine some beads or sparkles around everything.
You'll notice here that I actually ended up with the Ring too small for all the extra bits I added, so be sure not to do the same. Beads actually take up more of the middle space than one thinks.
Also, greenery won't keep between now and Christmas, so that would add to the last minute jobs.

Finished Napkin Rings!
I thought that as a December Special I would offer a couple of 'freebies' to anyone buying from my Etsy Shop during December, so I've put a notice to that effect in the Shop.
But then I thought that since you, my long suffering Followers, are there for me all the year round, you should have something extra!
So for any Followers buying anything at all from my Shop between now and the New Year, as well as the other things, I'll include one of my Crochet Brooches as well.
(Please remind me that you are a Follower when buying, so you get everything!)
Howzat for bribery and corruption!!
(Would I make a good Politician???????)
'Tee Hee!' as Ladydi would say...!!!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Soggibottom Bear Looks for a New Home!

You want a CUTE bear for Christmas? Here's your chance!!

Actually, on second thoughts, please don't enter...I really want him for myself!
At what age exactly does one grow out of adoring teddy bears???


Thank you for the well wishes for the Workshop last night! Here's the report if you are interested!

It was just WILD!

The day began with teaching children all morning. One of the teachers came into my Music Class (only about 80 children present) and decided to play the X factor with the songs, reducing the whole class to pandemonium. Then she did a big long speech and tried to 'eliminate' one of the older boys, and when I pretended to interview him with a clothes peg for a 'mike' he played up and wailed and sobbed, which had the younger ones in hysterics!

The Mothers' Union in the evening was another sort of chaos, with people bringing blunt scissors and needles, and enormous pins which looked like hat pins, and trying to steal each other's craft bits, and sequins and beads flying everywhere. Then the clothes pegs I brought to hold the gluey buts together were so old that when people tried to use them the plastic exploded and flew everywhere!...But robins and hearts were sewn and embellished and stuffed and a very rowdy night was had!

Well, they invited me, instead of a more staid person to lead the craft night; they might have known things would happen- after all, they hear me at the Organ many Sundays so they know what a disaster I am!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Santa's Workshop...Sorta...

Santa's Workshop is going nineteen to the dozen here after my brief stint in bed. I'm having a great time creating dolls!
Anyone not 'in the know' would think I was the next Sweeney Todd with the amount of body parts littering the work table!!!

There's a Princess doll, for a special small person:
I've been working with the new Jan Horrox book, to make her, and would REALLY recommend the book if you are into doll making! Further progress:
After Christmas I'll show you the properly finished doll, as I don't want to spoil the surprise for the recipient!

Then, for another very, very small person I returned to the usual style of Prim pattern, with an embroidered face, to make a Prairie style doll:
...forgot to swivel her around!
One is to be posted tomorrow, and the other taken to Dublin on Saturday, possibly to a Rugby International, but hopefully will be delivered first!!
Any more orders better come in fast as I've another two to do yet and posting dates are a-creeping!

And then Santa's next trick is a Craft Workshop for the Mothers' Union. Back in August, the 24th November was so far ahead I thought nothing of agreeing to do it...ha! No, actually: HA!

The last two days have been spent packaging 25 personal Craft Packs
(templates, fabric, ribbons, etc)
and four similar Supply Baskets with identical contents
(beads, sequins, buttons, lavender potpourri, toy filling, misc fabric pieces, Biros, etc).
I didn't realise how much work would be involved, but I also figure that if its worth doing at all, its worth doing well.
These are the demonstration lavender in; 'here's one I made earlier!' And long live Blue Peter!! (Is that a cultural joke?)
I hope I survive the evening, and I hope the ladies do too, of course; I've actually never done anything like this before.
This evening I have been working out the step by step progression for the evening...but if even one bottle of beads gets knocked over it will turn into a shambles....

And then, this afternoon I glanced out the window and there was a rainbow!
God's promises?
Perhaps I'll survive after all!!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Mad Hatter's Tea Party

My scheduled blog posts are so gone out the window by this time that they must be well out to sea!
Never mind.
So I thought I'd show you a few photos from Youngest's Party in October- and in case you wondered, the Hub hoovered the cobwebs away before the party, and I cleaned up after!

White Queen and one Hatter:
The trouble with the Queen of Hearts was that he couldn't bend in the was either stand, or be lowered to the floor, flat!
A moment in the Party- please do not imagine it was a silent one...
The Mad Hatter's Birthday Cake- he was pretty much the star of the show in every sense!
Another dull, quiet, evening in the Beckety family...

Friday, 19 November 2010

iPod, Phone, etc Holder

Thank you for your comments on last Friday's Craft, and here is this week's offering:

a Holder for an iPod, mobile/ cell phone, MP3 Player, digital camera, or even just a handy rubbish pouch for one's handbag!! This one actually belongs to Middlest, hence the large PINK button!

This is a suitable present particularly for teenagers, but everyone else too- just change the colour of the yarn!

I knitted it in knit 1, purl 1, rib because my stocking stitch knitted camera case (same pattern but more stitches on the needles), has not held its shape at all.
I used double knitting synthetic yarn that I had to hand, and knitted using GB size 10 needles;
in Metric = 3.25mm
in USA = size 3

The finished Holder was about 5" (11cm) by 3" (6cm), button closed, but tension will vary from person to person, and knitted lengthwise.

To Make:

Cast on 20 stitches (an even number makes it easier to keep the rib straight if you become distracted).

Every row: knit 1, purl 1, and repeat to end.

Carry on until the strip measures 11" (27cm)
ie- length of object x2, +1" (2.5cm) extra

Cast off, in rib if possible.

Now fold the strip in half, then edge one one back by 1" (2.5cm), which will give you the top overlap. Pin together (or not!) and stitch up each side.

Next I sewed on the button, below the level of the overlap.

For the button loop there are two options:
a) plait a short length of yarn, or
b) crochet a short chain of yarn

Either way, you need to measure from the overlap edge, down around the button, and back up to the edge again- that's the length of plait or chain you need....WITH a length of yarn at each end so that you can stitch this piece onto the edge of the overlap.

Finish in ends and you are done!

For added gift ideas, you could include an iTunes voucher, or add a couple of charms or tassels- they seem to like them!
(...or even a packet of tissues, or would that be too insulting?...

I hope this is useful to some of you- I've got to knit a few more for presents myself!

And as to the lack of posts this week? I've been ill in bed since last Sunday, just a bug, but such a pain. Can you imaging what my music Classes will sound like after a whole week without singing? Level of laundry? state of kitchen? etc etc...Grrrrr!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Tealight Holders

(Really sorry for the late posting-we've just come through a 20 hour power cut, which started in the middle of writing this last night, worst for a long time. 5.30 pm now and I'm trying to retrieve what I had done and finish the post ! So sorry.)

Welcome to my first Friday of Helpful Christmas Crafts!

NB. I find that a cuppa tea, some chocolate and music are excellent aids to the creative process, though not strictly necessary, perhaps!

I hope directions and photos are clear- I've reduced the size of the published photos in the hopes that it will load faster for yez, but you can click on them to enlarge if you need to, of course! (well, I hope you can...)

Firstly: here are the supplies I used to make the tea lights, the greenery is strands of ivy I pulled out of the hedge just before I begun, so the first thing to do is pick out the dead leaves and grass which came in with it!

(The object with all the Crafts is to use whatever you have to hand, which is why I don't want to give precise ingredients!)
Oh, the hockey whistle and the Boules jack are accidental, I found them when looking for the wire- I need the whistle for Choir, 120 or so children make a lot of noise!

Take a strand of ivy, measure around the jam jar you are using, to get the size right, and carefully weave the end into a loose circle.
Take care to ease the leaves through the circle as you go or you'll end up with a bald decoration!! Also be careful to bend the strand and not fold it; it won't sit so well if the strand is broken.
Once you have the size sorted, and the first weaving in, just keep going, weaving the strand around itself. When you reach the end take up a new strand, tuck the end in between where two strands meet, and keep weaving. This is where you have to mind the leaves, I had more than this when I began!
As you can see, it doesn't look much like anything here, and there are bits sticking out all over the place- this is just fine!

For the next part I used a bit of old crochet wool, but ribbon or even brown twine will work just as well: the intention is to anchor it together so it can be moved without falling apart.
Knot the end of the ribbon on somewhere and wind it around the stems, taking care not to flatten the leaves.
Tie off the end of the ribbon onto the beginning and trim it neatly. Still looks a right pickle, doesn't it? Fear not!
Now turn the jam jar the right way up, ease the ivy wreath over the top, and slide it down the jar. You might need to tease some leaves to the outside if they are smooshed against the glass.
Drop in a tea light, and hey presto! your basic decoration is done!
Extra embellishments in a minute, so set it aside for now.
This a wire and bead string to wrap around a glass or jar:
(If you have no beads, use rolled up tin foil balls from your chocolate wrapper!!)
The length of wire should be several times the circumference of the jar, since with twisting the beads in place you'll shorten it considerably.

Thread the first bead onto the wire, and either tie a knot, or twist the wires together like a freezer bag closure.
Continue to add beads- I left about 1 1/2" or 2" between them, but it shouldn't be exact, its 'craft', not engineering!!
Keep adding beads until you run out of either beads, or wire!!
Coil the wire around the base of the glass or jar. I dropped the leftovers in beside the tea light just for fun.If you preferred you could coil the beaded wire around the ivy tea light, instead of having a second light.
Back to the ivy light for some embellishing:
themed buttons, tucked between the strands, or ordinary buttons...I couldn't find any red, but they would be nice,
or a length of sequins,

or glue sequins onto some of the stems,

or spray the whole thing silver or gold...Middlest has run off with my metallic spray, for which she will be sorry when I catch up with her...
and a last quick trick!

You could always just fill the odd jar with a bit of moss, some shiny beads, and a sequin or two. Set beside, or amongst candles, these will sparkle and look really elegant!
(It'll also look like you spent artistic hours at it, whereas it takes seconds- I'm all for maximum impression with minimum effort!!)

Ta! Dah! Hope this is useful! Have fun!


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