Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Here's to a New Year!

Many thanks to all of my wonderful friends and acquaintances, customers and followers for making 2008 a fabulous year.

Wishing you all the best for 2009

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

All you need is....



One holiday is over, on to the next. And I'm in such a pink mood! I have a few images ready and waiting, now just need to decide what I want to do with them.

So my question for you is: Do you do anything for Valentine's Day and if so, does it go beyond a card? Do your children get little gifts for the day or just a hug and a kiss (in addition to all the others they already get)? I'm wondering if some of my ideas will work...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Blog Award























I've been given a blog award from Simply Sticky (such a cute blog, by the way). Thank you very much!

Here are the rules for this award:

1. add the logo to your blog
2. link to the person from whom you've received the award
3. nominate seven blogs of your choice
4. leave a message on the nominees blogs

As always, it's no easy task to choose 7 blogs because there are so many wonderful blogs to choose from. But, I'm going to give it my best shot. Here goes....

I would like to pass this award on to the following 7 blogs from my list (chosen randomly from a list of so many):

1. Always Amy
2. Fred's List
3. Alice in Paris Loves Art and Tea
4. Swirly Thoughts
5. The Spotted Sparrow
6. Half an Acre
7. My Idea of Recess

Monday, December 22, 2008

Decking the Halls and Tra La La

I thought there may be time for one last post before the holidays are among us. Our own invasion starts this evening with the first arrivals as everyone decided it would be best to celebrate the holidays at our home this year. Everyone, that is, but me. I don't actually remember being consulted.

But in the spirit of things, we've been very busy getting the house ready. At the very least, it has motivated us to get a lot of work done that otherwise may have taken a few more months to get around to. Things such as finishing the painting of the sitting and dining rooms, painting the kitchen and all the windows and doors (and there are a lot and they are big!) in kitchen and dining room, making curtains for several rooms, organising the garage (okay, this may not have been necessary in the grand scheme of entertaining people, but it needed to be done).... the list continues and to be quite honest, I'm a bit tired. Ouf!

We did finally find time in all the dust and paint cloths to do some decorating and so our tree is up and lights that hubby bought last year for the tree are hanging outside on the veranda where they should be (funnily enough, he bought the wrong kind of garlands for the tree last year... not terribly surprising). Not overly decorated, but just enough for us I think. There are still a few last minutes touches I have to add, but most of the decorating is done. Or so I had thought.

Apparently though my thought process wasn't shared with my 2 year old who, I can only imagine, had decorating plans of his own. I had put him down for a nap and was quite happy that he seemed to be sleeping. Naptime isn't always successful with him and no noise coming from upstairs is generally a good sign that he's asleep.

I promise you all that I'm not a negligent parent and I do check in on and watch my children. But this one's very clever. And sneaky. And knows how to get around mummy's vigilent watch. Some how he had managed to get out of his room without making any noise and instead of coming downstairs and turning himself in as he usually would, he very slyly stayed upstairs. I remained in my ignorant mummy bliss until my middle child went upstairs and I suddenly heard cries of "Mummy! Léopold's out of bed and covered in white stuff!"

The kind of words that no mother wants to hear.

I ran upstairs and was greeted by a very flowery smelling and greasy toddler indeed covered in "white stuff." But what was it?

A quick search of the rooms revealed a slimy but empty pot of foot cream and Léopold's own addition of the holiday decorating. I have chosen to believe he was constributing to the holiday ambiance and attempting to create the snowy window look. At the very least, it helped me to smile while scrubbing through many layers of congealed moisturizer.

Joyeux Noël she said with a smile!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We're Done!

Hooray. We are officially on winter holidays around here. The girls finished up classes today and it's such a relief to finally be able to kick back a bit and relax. So tonight I will hopefully finish up a pair of curtains for the sitting room (and make it nice and cosy) and tomorrow maybe just enjoy the day. What a lovely thought!

Oh and as for the teachers... they ended up with chocolate chip cookies. I was in a baking mood and there is nothing like American chocolate chip cookies in France. Although France probably wins most of the other cakes and pastry competions, America definitely wins hands down in the cookie baking contest.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Well Needed Break

As for a lot of us, it's been a rather hectic few months. It's not quite over yet as I still have orders to post as well as some to finish (happily not for Christmas), but things are slowing down just a bit, at least in terms of work.

I still have mountains of things to do around the house, things that have been rather ignored over the past few months. Cleaning for one. But also things like presents for the teachers (school finishes up on Thursday...somehow things always sneak up on me, despite my best intentions) and a house to ready for the family invasion. The in-laws have all decided to go north for the holidays and our house happens to be the destination of choice. So among baking cookies and cakes and sewing curtains and maybe squeezing in a little laudry and painting (of the kitchen this time), I have finally taken just a bit of time for myself to have a play with my embroidery machine.

It's been sitting here waiting patiently for me to pay some attention to it, but to no avail really. Until yesterday. Yesterday I put everything aside and decided to take some mental health time for myself to have a bit of a play. Had I put more thought into it, I could have killed 2 birds with one stone and played while making pressies for the teachers. But alas, this kind of forward thinking is somewhat of a rarity in my life at present. Maybe next time.

I did however make a few very sweet lavender sachets that I'm quite happy with. Nothing earth shattering, but I think they are lovely all the same. Maybe I'll find some time tonight between kids, homework, diner and those curtains I'm meant to be sewing, to make something for the teacher. Maybe... Any ideas?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Survived Another One!

Another children's birthday party that is.

I have to admit, a bit shamefully, that I don't love hosting birthday parties. In fact, I rather dread it. Personally, I would put them in the same category as passing a driving exam and having teeth pulled; not quite as bad as natural childbirth, but definitely worse than your common cold.

It's not the preparation for the party that I find upsetting. The preparation I can handle and, if I wanted to admit it, quite enjoy. No, it's the party itself. Once things are underway. I'm pretty certain it stems from my deep-seeded fear of having too-many-to-count children staring at me, waiting for me to come up with some fabulous idea that will entertain them. You see, I fear other's children when they are bored.

I don't have this problem with my own children. There my theory has always been that a little boredom is a good thing. Children don't tend to let themselves stay bored very long and when they've had enough, they will find something to do. Thus in my mind and in regards to my own children, boredom leads to creativity (which of course can also be a dangerous thing, please refer to June 2007's Who Dunnit story). But this only applies to my own and boring children in the name of education does not apply to others. Not that other children aren't capable of being creative. That's not it at all. It's simply the fact that when I've invited others into my home, I feel the duty to keep them entertained for the duration.

Unfortunately, I'm more of a behind the scenes kind of person. Definitely not a ringleader. That's why I have hubby. He is much better at playing games with them, leading activities and overall acting silly. And he pulled through again today, through many rounds of Jaques a dit (French Simon Says in case you're wondering), musical statues and various other party games. We didn't even have to resort to a single round of dead lions( although it's a game I would highly recommend when you need a few minutes peace from all those little people).

The games finished at goûter (snack time) which in France is most usually and precisely at 4pm when we presented the birthday girl's special cake. She insisted on NOT having chocolate as our little gourmet is "so tired of chocolate." And so I made my very first Victoria Sponge. But decorated it perhaps a slightly different manner than is traditional. Four rounds of Happy Birthday each sung in a different language - French, English, Chinese and Spanish - and our Very Special Pink Birthday Float topped it off.

And everyone went home with a smile. Whether due from having passed a fun afternoon or, as is more probable, to a huge sugar high, I can't really be sure. But it's over for another few months until the next one comes around.

Pssst - you can download a recipe card version of the Very Special Pink Birthday Float right over there on the right. I'm working on a sharper version which I hope will be up soon. Thank you for your patience!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Official "Kit"

As you may (or may not) know, I started offering some of my illustrations for embroidery patterns. Some are fun freebies and others are not. The ones that are not (or in the current case, the ONE as there is only one at the moment but will soon be more), I think they are very affordable.

Well, I've finally just finished off my first official "kit" and wanted to show it off a bit. I hope to do this for all of my downloads at some point, or at least for the great majority of them.

Currently the kit comes with a lovely cover page, an instructions page and then, of course, the image. I have a few ideas floating around in my mind about what I'd like to add, but I have to figure some more bits and bobs out first. If you print it out and have a pair of scissors handy (and really, who doesn't?), then I think it would make a lovely gift.

I'd love to know what you think and for those of you who embroider, if you could tell me what I could add to them to give them extra pizzazz, I'm all ears!

The Snowman and the Mouse Embroidery Kit is available here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

And Yet Again!

I'm being a bit spoiled lately. Yesterday was a lovely card in the post.

Last night I was sent a message to let me know I had been featured on Etsy's front page, and I made a sale from it too!

And today I received another fabulous surprise. My secret santa gift arrived from our gift swap on the European Street Team. The entire swap was organised by an amazing woman, Mitsy, of Artmind. I can't believe all she put into it to make our swaps work out the best way possible. Thank you so much for all of your work.

I had no idea who my partner was going to be and so I could but imagine what would arrive in the post. Well today, the mystery is over.

Want to see what I got?

























A gorgeous bouquet of fabric flowers from LaPomme. Not only are they made of beautiful fabric, but they smell just as lovely. What a wonderful surprise! I've put them in a place of honour already!

Thank you so much Apol!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Little Bit of Sunshine

And just when I needed it too. I got this lovely card in the post today and it couldn't have come at a better time.

It's been a rough few weeks and particularly bad this past week. Children have been poorly, weather has been worse, work has been hectic. But this past week my littlest, my wee baby man, had to go to hospital as he was taken with a mysterious infection. We still don't know what it was but it was very bad. He's finally on the mend thank goodness, but it's always worrying when your little ones are so poorly indeed.

You can image how I felt when I opened this up today. Sent from the US from one of my customers and "stamper" friends, it arrived at such a perfect time and with such a lovely sentiment. Made with one of my designs at Stampingbella, Gardenia Greenthumb was the best way to brighten my day. So LeAnne, and all of you who send me happy thoughts, thank you so very much. They are always very appreciated.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Of Rice and Men

This is our rice cooker. It is broken. We've owned it for approximately 3 weeks. Maybe 4. And it's broken.

I can't honestly say though that I'm very upset about its demise. In fact, I'm rather indifferent to it, if not maybe just a wee bit glad.

You see, I don't actually know why we own a rice cooker, broken or not. Hubby came home with it one day. He set off to purchase a deep fryer because well, everyone must have a deep fryer. He had recently blown up our other deep fryer - problem with the current - and it needed replacing. Otherwise how can you have moules frites?

He came home with a new deep fryer. And a rice cooker. I questioned the rice cooker as it was a rather unexpected purchase. We had, after all, never discussed owning a rice cooker. Nor did I remember ever having discussed the necessity of owning a rice cooker. In fact, it was only once the rice cooker came home that I realised that the entire topic of rice in general was sorely missing in our conversations.

I was given a rather longish speech praising the qualities of a rice cooker.

You could set it to cook your rice at a certain time. In case, for example, I needed to have freshly cooked rice upon rising in the morning.

You could cook all kinds of rice in it, as opposed to your saucepan in which, well, you can cook all kinds of rice.

But most importantly, you could keep your rice at a constant temperature so that it doesn't get cold and doesn't get sticky. For those moments when you just have to have rice I suppose.

Mind you, we're not exactly what I would call a rice loving family. I do like it, but I wouldn't say I love it. I do now suspect though that hubby must have a secret love affair with the white (or brown, short or long) stuff. But why would we need to have the ability to have rice on hand at any time of day?

Morning tea. Would you like a bit of rice with that?

Children's snack time. How about some rice to go with your bread and nutella sandwich?

Feeling peckish? Here's some rice.

I guess I just hadn't taken the time to think about all the virtues of having a rice cooker. But now I won't have to. Because it is broken. Another in a long list of appliances hubby has managed to send to an early grave. It started with the waffle maker, spread to two deep fryers, a convection oven and a hand mixer, and has now claimed the rice cooker.

He says he's going to bring it back for an exchange. I just hope he doesn't come home with a hot dog warmer to boot.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Of Bunnies and Mice....


It's that time again. I'm hoping (fingers crossed) to be able to offer some kind of freebie on my blog every month or so. I say hoping because in all honesty, I'm not always the most organised of people. I used to be. Truly. I was very organised in a past life. However, since a certain small squadron of children has joined the team around here I've become slightly less organised. Or rather slightly more overwhelmed.

But for the moment, I'm keeping up and head is above water.

Right. I know it's only month #2 and really we couldn't call this a successful pattern.

Yet.

I'll get there though. I will!

So while we're enjoying this moment of being on top of things and in keeping with the season, I'm offering you The Bunny and the Mouse as an embroidery pattern. All you have to do is clicky click on the linkety link on the right of the page (under Free Downloads) and it's yours. How easy is that!

For another embroidery pattern, not a freebie this time but ever so affordable, check out Handmade Parade here. You'll find a certain snowman waiting for you there. Enjoy!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Oh What Fun!

Did you know you can purchase Chichiboulie stamps? Well yes you can! How very exciting is that!

I get to see sneak peeks at what others are doing with my little images through my Google Alerts that come through to me daily. Although I do try to check them all out, I'm pretty sure I don't get to everything or not everything is sent to my inbox.

But oh, the ones I do get to see are such fun. I'm so lucky because there is a very active group of fun, wonderful and did I mention talented ladies who are great supporters of my stamps. It's always a surprise to click on a link and see one of my images pop up, but seen through the eyes of someone else.

When I'm drawing my fairies or bittyblooms or anything else, I usually have an idea in my mind of how they should look in the end. Not always, but usually.

You can imagine what a treat it is to see how others interpret the same images. So today I thought I would share a few of these images with you. I'll be doing this in a few installements so if you have any images you'd like to share, by all means please send them to me.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Todays images have been done by Hope and Marjorie. You can see their blogs by clicking on their names.


Chichiboulie stamps are available exclusively through www.stampingbella.com.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My new toy...

A couple of weeks ago, I had a bit of a meltdown over what I thought was the death of an old friend - my sewing machine. You see, it's a lovely machine, but bought in the the US which makes it run on different current than we have here in France. To adapt, I have a transformer.

A couple of weeks ago, I turned on my machine and it lit up, went beep, and then nothing. No light. No beep. Dead. Fried from the 220v current ripping through its 110v body. I was devastated. I honestly cried for over an hour. Not only at the thought of having to purchase another machine rapidly in order to get orders done, but because it was my friend. We'd been through so much together. So many quilts and clothes patterns and cushions and curtains and... well you get the point.

After a good cry, I did finally accept its fate and set about finding a new machine to purchase, one that would surely empty out all my accounts. I found it, emptied accounts and purchased it. And purchased a new transformer as well.

As luck would have it, the transformer arrived first. Out of curiousity, I thought I would give my old friend one last try before sending it to its final resting place. One last plug in. One last switch on before... Wait! It lit up, went beep, and was ready to go. Fabulous!

And not so fabulous. My old friend was working (much to my surprise) but an expensive new friend was on its way. Dilemma.

After much deliberation and a bit of negotiation, I have managed to turn my newly ordered sewing machine into the slightly more pricey embroidery machine I have long wanted.

It arrived Monday and I have a bit to learn. But here is a sample of my first practice session. Can't wait to figure it out. Can't wait for my snowman to have eyes!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Warm and Cosy

I won! Or rather I should say, Dalla aka Evangeline won the weekly European Street Team challenge.

As such, I become the bearer of the flame for this week and must choose a new topic for the team to conquer with their craftiness.

Given the past weekend's weather and all the feelings it brought back to me, I have, after much thought and deliberation, suggested the theme of Warm and Cosy.

So get to it ladies! Show us your very best Warm and Cosy. I'll be updating this post throughout the week with entries so please come back an look often.


The Entries to this week's Challenge:


















































Purple Passion Wrap - Inger Maaike
Bella Scarflette - Bonnie Boon
Rainbow Silver Bracelet - Exotic Flavour
The Spirit of Autumn Scarf - VKnO's Shop
Warm Tuscan Summer Sun - Enchanted Pond
Warm and Cozy - Star of the East
Warm and Cosy Hat - P8 Accessories
Alina Champagne Citrine and Gold earrings - Arctida
Scandinavian Matryoshka Doll - Ravenhill
Pink Winter Bear Brooch - Dina Fragola

Monday, November 24, 2008

Announcing Charlotte!

The second ever Chichiboulie ragdoll. I'm still practicing, as you can see, to find out what works and what doesn't. As I told a friend this weekend, making a cute ragdoll is not an easy task. Making a not so cute ragdoll, well, that it turns out is ever so much easier!

Hopefully Charlotte's not too disasterous. My second daughter is quite pleased with her. Although admittedly she was a bit concerned about her green and white arms and legs because, as she put it, she'd never seen green and white arms and legs on anyone before. I explained to her that she's wearing tights and very long gloves. That seemed to do the trick. Good thing it's getting to be winter, I think. Not sure what Charlotte's going to do in the summertime.

And the name Charlotte? Well Augustine chose that as well. She has a slight tendancy to name everything after her older sister, Anne-Charlotte, who she affectionately calls just Charlotte. It began with the goldfish she named after her and the trend seems to have continued. Sisterly love? I hope so!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Smells like snow

Just having a bit of nostalgia and perhaps a bit of homesickness. They could go hand in hand really.

It's a very crisp autumn day with snow in the air. You can smell the snow. When I say that to people here they most often think I'm a bit odd.



But you can smell snow. We don't get much snow here. Not like where I grew up.

I sometimes say it even when it's not snowing.

"It smells like snow."

Then they really think I'm odd.


Add to the smell of a wood fire.

Crisp air. Snow. Wood fire.

Bliss.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vikings Recycling?

I know, probably not what you would first put together, Vikings and recycling, but it's this week's challenge for the European Street Team on Etsy.

I don't often get to participate as I'm more often running around trying to put out proverbial fires and don't get time to be as creative as I would like. But this week's theme, as soon as I saw it, cried out to me. I knew immediately what I wanted to do for it.

So here is Dalla... My very first ragdoll creation and a Viking to boot! Dalla is made from wool fabric, acrylic felt, an upcycled jumper from my daughters' baby years, ribbon and an upcycled shower curtain.

She's a very stylish Viking don't you think?

The best part of this project wasn't making Dalla. It was my 2 year old's reaction when he saw her. He immediately pointed to her and said "ou ou" which is what he calls his doudou (or soft toy he carries around with him). Even he knew what to do with it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We Have a Winner... And a Surprise!

The Winner: Let's start by getting business out of the way. The GNO Auction for Feeding America was a huge success so thank you to all who participated. Due to a slight glitch on the bidding on my blog (okay, not really a glitch, I was in bed... time difference and all), I seem to have 2 winners!

And who are they? They are known on my comments section as Des and Croberts. Now Des, I have you're email and I'll be sending you a note soon. But Croberts dear, I have nothing to contact you! Please do send me an email so we can chat: gretchen@chichiboulie.com.

Many thanks again to everyone who helped to raise money for this worthy cause. And now....

The Surprise:
Remember a few weeks ago I mentioned something about embroidery and patterns and images? You do don't you. Well, a lovely woman, Miss Paula she shall be called (and she can be seen here) volunteered to stitch up a sample for me so that I could share my first free download with you.

So with no further ado, I present to you Miss Polly Packages. Isn't she divine! Thank you so much, Paula, for all of your help and support.

Now, if any of you are interested in a 4x6 inch PDF version of Polly Packages for yourself, all you have to do it leave me a note in the comments section with your email. That's it! It's that easy.



I do ask that you use the download for your own personal use only. The pattern or any projects produced from it may not be used for any commercial purposes. Chichiboulie (that's me!) retains all copyrights to the image.

Thank you for listening to my legalese. And now... off with you!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Photo Shoot

I let my daughters use my camera today to take a few snapshots. Of course, this was mostly under my watchful eye as I'm very attached to my camera and it's a necessary part of my work. They took a few shots of their baby brother, of this and of that.

And then I noticed that their "imitate mummy" instinct kicked in again. They have watched me more than once as I set up items to be photographed. I'm far from an expert, but I'm learning and trying to incorporate more into my "sets" to create a scene or mood.

I was in the kitchen and could hear lots of animated whispers and running about. One ran upstairs. The other ran upstairs. One came down. The other came down. More whispers and a bit of bickering. They were obviously setting something very exciting up.

And they've obviously been watching me from the start with my very basic shots. But have evolved far quicker than I have. In fact, in about 10 minutes.

And here are the results of their first ever photoshoot....

The empty shot: not much scenery, very far away. Needs some work.


Getting Better: a little more interest to this one, model has been moved and image zoomed in.



Ah ha - The Final: added interest through props and posing.


Cleary two Pulitzer prize winners in the making!