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.


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!