Saturday, 27 February 2010

Annual bonus


Half term seemed to vanish in the blink of an eye this time. There was me saying with some confidence in my last post that I'd have my February make-a-month finished by the end of the week, little knowing that the week would be gone without me once sitting down at my machine. First of all there was the delightful Winter vomiting bug that struck the boy at the beginning of the week and the girl at the very end of the week (that's some incubation period!), then there was the somewhat nicer surprise of a getaway sprung on me by my husband!

I've blogged before about my husband's invention of an annual bonus scheme to reward me for my full-time job parenting our two children. Little did I know that he had had to cancel his plans for 2009's bonus due to my being in the throes of a 16 week, 24/7 bout of morning sickness last Autumn. I was completely in the dark when I received a letter purporting to be from HM Revenue and Customs informing me of an error in taxing my income, all the more so as I've had headaches dealing with such errors in the past.

annual bonus letter

Of course, had I been in any way observant I might have spotted that the letter was signed by Ms Sandy Beach straight away, or noticed that whilst my NI number and date of birth were correct, 'Our ref' was actually the due date of our new arrival, and the codes for the tax deductions were 'mrningsck247' and 'glwngtrimstr3'. I was too busy being irate that I'd been apparently taxed a whole £4500 erroneously!! (but thanks, Mr Angharad for the wholly inaccurate but complimentary 'glwingtrimstr3' - for the record, my 3rd trimester is more grey and drawn than glowing!)


As it transpired, there was a footnote in the tiniest of small print telling me that I was being whisked away to Brighton for a night, with my mum kindly babysitting our two children (who didn't seem to bat an eyelid that we were disappearing). We stayed in this lovely hotel just inside the lanes and a stone's throw from the sea. My personal highlight was the bathroom where I luxuriated in the lovely deep claw-footed bath, having achieved full bump coverage for once (just not possible in our normal-sized bath at home where the baby sister protrudes from the water like an island!). There was also a walk-in storm headed shower which I could have spent hours in. At this stage in my pregnancy, I'm all about the relaxing rather than 5 course meals, but we did wander out into the Lanes and had a lovely meal with a bellini as an aperitif for me - quite possibly the most luscious thing I have ever tasted, all the more so for the fact that I have been off alcohol for the last 6 months!

Surprises are great, especially when such a lot of thought has been put into them (and I did marry a mathematician, so surprises were never really part of the deal).

So other than the vomiting, it was a lovely half term. This week it's been back to work finishing up some orders, and my February make-a-month is finally done. More of that in my next post as I've rambled on for long enough, but here's a sneak preview of the unfinished dress:

February make a month

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Knitting and such

I'm just limbering up for my rather late start in the WinterRavelympics - that's ravelry's knitterly version of the Winter olympics. I missed the opening ceremony cast-on due to being asleep at 2am, and have lost a few days start, so I'm going for the 'wips dancing' category and resurrecting my long-abandoned veyla fingerless mitts. Christmas gift knitting took over somewhat this year, leaving my own fingers cold, so I'll be glad to finish these at last! The pattern is gorgeous, with a lovely vintagey feel, and I'm very excited by the opportunity to use pretty buttons to finish the project too.

In other knitting-related news, I'm also working on some knitting needle rolls for the shop. These have been on the to-do list for a long while, but put on the back burner due to procrastinating about the ideal number of pockets needed (this kind of indecision so often results in me leaving projects on the back burner indefinitely!). First off the production line is this case for dpns and circular needles in fresh green and blue prints by Anna Maria Horner and Amy Butler.

Needle roll for dpns/circulars
Needle roll for dpns/circulars

Next, I'm planning on making some small project bags for sock knitting, and some larger knitting bags (which will necessitate much chin scratching on the optimum number and variety of internal compartments, no doubt). This year I intend to get on with things rather than just endlessly thinking about the possibilities, which is just as well as my sewing days will be numbered come May.

May's new arrival is going to be the eventual recipient of my make-a-month for February. Friends keep on commenting on the fact that I am still referring to the baby as 'it', in spite of the fact that our scan before Christmas confirmed that 'it' is in fact a girl. I'm wondering whether this is because I haven't yet bought anything for the baby, so I'm thinking that making a pretty baby dress will make things seem a bit more real. I've chosen a pattern from the January 2008 issue of Ottobre Design and I'll be using this Japanese linen cotton mix fabric from Joanne for the body of the dress, and a floral poplin bought around a year ago in John Lewis for the fawn applique and piping.

February make-a-month

Pattern pieces have been traced and cut out, so the most tedious part has already been done leaving me with every intention of finishing this one this week.

Sunday, 7 February 2010


... or Show and Tell

I feel an incoherent rambling kind of a post coming on. That might be due to the fact of having only had around 5 hours sleep over the past few nights (the baby has taken to kicking my internal organs with some gusto), or it might be because I'm a rambly sort of a person. Maybe a bit of both.

First of all, there are lovely things I have received in the post from kind bloggers. I never blogged the packages of seeds kindly sent to me by Ginny even though I didn't end up participating in Julia's Preserving Summer seeds and recipe swap.

seeds from sweetmyrtle

Ginny packaged the seeds beautifully with pretty hand printed labels and handmade envelopes. I do like cottage garden flowers, and these will add a lovely injection of colour into my garden.

I was also lucky enough to be the recipient of this flower corsage in a giveway from Joanna's blog. It's been pinned to my bag and looks very fetching!


My daughter was given a flower loom for Christmas and is eyeing up my yarn and button stash now that she's seen Joanna's handiwork.

Item 2 in this blogular ramble is things I have been making. I've had a few custom orders over the weeks after Christmas, which I always particularly enjoy. First there was a cake bag in a Joel
Dewberry home dec print

cake bag

Then there was was a shoulder bag in zingy Heather Bailey cottons, and a pair of soft baby shoes in a Cath Kidston cowboy print. There's always fun to be had in guilt-free fabric shopping for a customer!

shoulder bag detail

baby shoes in cath kidston mini cowboy print

Item 3 is pancakes. I bought these pretty red melamine measuring cups a while ago just because they were pleasing, and have discovered the joy of cooking with cup measures instead of weighing ingredients. My children have been reaping the rewards with stacks of pancakes for breakfast at weekends.


The recipe is so simple - one cup of self-raising flour, 1 cup of milk, 1 egg and a dessert spoon of sugar. I also had to buy a new heavy weight frying pan to cook the pancakes in as my old one had developed a concave base, which is not very satisfactory for pancake cooking. Such is its weight and balance that I've found myself with the irrepressible urge to whack my husband round the head with it in one of those Tom and Jerry moments.

Finally, I really needed to share this YouTube music video featuring a spectacularly brilliant Lego animation.
lego animation

I forget quite how I stumbled on it, but my children are currently obsessed with it and I find that they're bargaining with me to have this as their reward for good behaviour. I regard this as proof positive that they are geeks (they are hardly likely to be anything else as the offspring of me and my husband) and I am very proud. Is Lego not the best children's toy ever?

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