Friday, 12 July 2013



 Accomodation for the week


 (making these - the silver one is Glastonbury Tor with St Michael's tower on top)

 An excursion to the dance village

 Green crafts field
 A man and his camping plate horse bike

A merman

Watching Chic and meeting Nile Rodgers

Hanging out in the permaculture field (Boris the badger is a wood burning generator)
 The South East corner day and night - Bluegrass for breakfast and dubstep for late nights

Nuclear war

The Park at night

Friday, 14 June 2013

On nails

Back in the day, at least five months ago or maybe more, I was quite good at nail polish. I could whip up things like this: 
or this:

with no trouble at all. 

Nowadays, I can't seem to paint a basic bang on trend coral without smearing it all over the couch, my fingertips and the dog. Is this what happens when you move in with your boyfriend? Does Hastings have bad nail polish ch'i? I don't know. But I did want to fix it, so I paid someone else to do it for me.

A little while ago, I invested in the Veronica Mars kickstarter and promptly got addicted to kickstarter. Particularly looking up nail polish ideas. Then I found the Go Scratch It kickstarter and not only were they marketing nail wraps that actually work (I've previously tried getting them on eBay with little joy) but they had the Dainty Squid designing for them. So I jumped in, ordered two packs, and this week they arrived.

(stylishly modelled on a black jacket sleeve)

They come looking like a colourful rack of ribs, and you can fit them to your nails before taking the protective front and back off. They're a bit small for my nails widthwise, but I do have gigantor nails so I don't blame them for that. They send you 16 in a pack so you can find ones that fit, then you can use the leftovers for accent nails if you fancy it.

 (they don't really go with this frock)

I followed this how to guide that the packaging links to - Shop Koshka - she makes it look easy as a pie. They weren't that easy for me, mainly because for things like this it's really helpful to have two hands and one of them is out of action. Also I didn't realise that one side is stickier than the other, I thought they were going to be the same. Half mine are on the wrong way up - you can see in the photo below that my middle finger has a reversed pattern, the thumb is the same.

Once I got past those problems, I got a bit better at it. I was cross when I tore one trying to make it fit my nail, especially as they're quite an expensive way of doing your nails. But I figured if I can learn to do my bra strap up, or tie apron strings, behind my back I can learn this too. From an arm's distance at least, I'm pretty happy with them.

 (ladys and gentlemen, my thumb)

The thumb one was a bit too curved for the flat base of my thumb nail but rather than being a sensible person and trimming it first, I went ahead and stuck in on. Then when it looked gappy, I filled in bits with matching nail polish that I already had. Obviously this was a bit of a disaster (I've learnt from it though, I promise!) but even in this close up above, you can't *really* see too much of the foul up.

This is where the wrap doesn't cover very much of the sides of my nail. This bothered me at first but actually after a day or so wearing them, these ones are bothering me the least.

I finished off the left hand, had a minor tantrum about how awful they were then painted my nails like this on my right hand and decided I did like the Go Scratch It nails better after all. 

Overall, I think they're great. Better than any other wraps (or stamping, grrrr stamping) that I've tried and I will use them again. I wish they could send a few practice ones out so you don't feel so bad about wasting them but now I've got more of the hang of it I think I'll be ok

Visit if you fancy a crack at them. (They didn't pay me/sponsor me to write this btw, even if I do sound like a shill).

Sunday, 9 June 2013

A weekend of post and presents

The weekend of gifts, as it shall henceforth be known, started on Friday evening.

My friend Larah, is the queen of presents. She runs a second hand/vintage market stall and is always coming across things she knows people will like. She also remembers what people have said they like or collect and loves giving people gifts even if it’s not their birthday. You might think that having only been married a week and it being the first time I’d seen her since, she might be expecting somewhat of a reversal of the usual situation but no, she still had presents, some even from the honeymoon!

She knows I love souvenirs, particularly pens and pencils so whenever she and her daughter visit somewhere new they like to feed my addiction. The only problem with this idea is that when I fall in love with a particular pen I get very attached (e.g. pen shaped like a birthday candle or pen shaped like Robin Hood’s arrows) I can’t throw them out even when they run out. Therefore I’m holding Larah fully responsible when my body is found in my super hoarder house among piles and piles of novelty pens.

When I opened my bag of treats I also found this:

I couldn’t work out what it was at first but suddenly as I clipped in the mug, I realised it is a me! I did wonder for a minute why a librarian would be wearing fishing waders but Clem pointed out that it’s actually meant to be a pleated skirt.

Saturday morning brought post – two excellent craft books. Steph sent me the Japanese woolly embroidery book, and I’ve already been through and marked potential projects (possibly just an excuse to use my post it pen). I bought Laura Howard’s super cute felt book in her sale as I’m currently working on a few different felty things and it’s wonderfully inspiring.

Saturday afternoon I met up with Katie from Hook Line and Sink Her for a second impromptu mini-date as we also bumped into each other on the train on Friday night. She brought along the prize I won in her blog competition, which I love! These gorgeous cross stitch samplers will go up in our new house when we move.

And as an extra, because she’s brilliant, she also gave me this fox cushion. Clem has named it Vera the Varmint; we are both rather enamoured.

The last part of my day involved flicking through my new copy of Homemaker magazine and enjoying the birdy themed supplement. I will be framing some of the prints for the new house but for now I settled for using the mini versions of the pics to update my fridge magnets.

Before (cigarette cards):


In place (sneak peak of what I’m having for dinner tonight):

Love you bye!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Books of 2013 part one

Book rating system:

1/5 Blunt pencil

2/5 Scratchy promo biro

3/5 Parker Pen

4/5 Comfortable roller ball

5/5 Quill and ink

Super Special this book will change your life 6/5 Four colour bic

On with some books!

The Black Dahlia

James Ellroy

This book took me ages to get into as most of the first third is about boxing and lots of character names are very similar making it confusing. However, it had a very strong and well created Noir atmosphere which was what kept me reading. 

Once it got going it was quite exciting and fast paced although there were rather a lot of characters to keep track of - none of which are predictable. Everyone in it is selfish, mean, corrupt, racist, misogynistic or a combination of them all except perhaps Kay but even she lies her way through the book. But I don't think we are *supposed* to like them.. 

The denouement is dramatic but is presented in an overly complicated way and I didn't feel much satisfaction when Bucky finally solves his mystery. Overall, I'm glad I read it but it was hard going at times - particularly the beginning.

Wool Omnibus (Wool #1-5) 

Hugh Howey 

Fantastic. Immediately bought the next one which I would have read straight away if I hadn't passed the kindle to Clem so he can read this book too. I needed him to read it quick so we can talk about it. Once he read it, he immediately read the sequel so he then had the same problem as me while waiting for me to have my turn reading it. 

I loved the set up and the progression between focal characters from one novella to the next. The idea - post apocalyptic set up - isn't the most original but it is the best telling of a potential future I have read in a long time.

Empire Of The Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the rise and fall of the Commanche tribe

S.C. Gwynne 

I found this read slightly frustrating. I started off by getting annoyed with the amount of times the word primitive is repeated. I get it! 

I felt like a lot of the thoughts in the first part of the book aren't fully dealt with before the author moves on to the next thought. It felt jumpy and I was waiting for the 'proper' book to start. As an example of unfinished thoughts- in a section on Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar it's mentioned that 'His rescue of two fellow soldiers was so breathtakingly brave that it drew a salute from enemy lines' then it goes on to something else without telling us what he did. It did however much improve the more I read. 

The subject is interesting and inspired me to go find out the answers to all the things that kept popping up unresolved. The book would have been the size of a house if he'd managed to pre empt and answer every little question. It's not really about Quanah Parker, he's hardly in it. However, he's a good peg on which to hang the history of the Comanches.

Letters of a Woman Homesteader


Elinore Pruitt Stewart 

THANK YOU @maggie_dolores for making me read this. I loved this book, Elinore has a bursting personality which comes out in her letters and her adventures are entertaining and funny. She is encouraging and pro-independence for women and all about proving that women are as capable homesteaders as men. She makes a few dated remarks about race, which could be uncomfortable but reading it now they seem absurd.

Choice excerpts:

"I stepped in and modestly kicked over a chair"
"He is a dear little thing, but he is a lusty yeller for baby's rights"
"There were no ants in the pie but that is accounted for by there being no pie"

Download it for your kindle, it's free on amazon.

The 19th Wife 

David Ebershoff 

I started reading this book because I am interested in 19th century emigrations westwards in America, particularly Mormons, (and I like murder mysteries). The historical parts have inspired me to read and research more on this area. The murder though is a device to hang the story on get all the characters in the right places to get to know the modern equivalents of Ann Eliza. This doesn't lessen the story, but don't expect the revelation of the killer to be the point of the book.

I felt the writing was stronger in the historical parts but I appreciated the change of pace in the modern parts. In some places the historical parts would go on and on and I'd wonder if we would ever get back to the modern characters who I would have liked to get to know more. 

Love you bye!

All book covers from goodreads.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Goals for 2013 update

Five twelfths of the way through the year is the usual time to check where you're up to with New Year's Rulins. Now I'm no Woody Guthrie but I had a reasonably taxing list.

Woody Guthrie's New Years Rulins_Notebook13_650

- Join in Steph's baking challenge. Clem’s mum got us some wonderful kitchen stuff for Christmas and I can’t wait to start using it.


I've managed to bake a few things. I bought the Paul Hollywood how to bake book and I started out making soda bread because there are hardly any ingredients. That turned out ok so I got some bread flour and made a basic white cob. My first attempt was a sticky gooey mess which made a soggy only just edible loaf. It made me think that there was a reason buying nice bread costs nearly £3 a loaf and I decided that £3 is a perfectly decent price to pay someone else to do all the hard work for me while I happily never did that again. Then I realised there was two thirds of a bag of bread flour left over so I tried again and didn't put such a flood of water in it. It turned out great.

- Related to this is the goal to cook more ‘proper’ meals. I don’t eat very well and I’d like to change that. This will include cooking some more of my Grandad’s meals and trying a few recipes from the Game of Thrones cookbook.

Despite the good size of the kitchen in our current flat, the surface space to prepare food on is non existent. However, with a bit of balancing the bread board on the hob we can now cook:

  • Italian Chicken
  • Burritos (thanks Katie for the chilli kidney beans tip)
  • Sweet Potato Glory (roast sweet potatoes with feta and guacamole)
  • Lazy Toads (sausages in Mrs Beeton insta-yorkies)
  • Sausage Bake

We even made a roast dinner with a joint of pork.

Have yet to make any more of Grandad's meals or Game of Thrones dinners. Any suggestions for quick delicious dinners please inform me!

- But before that comes the big move. My January goal is to move in with lovely Clement and between us make our new place soft and welcoming and comfortable. 

Success! Well half success, sort of. I moved and it is definitely soft and great but two things have held it back from being completely perfect. One is that we are in the process of buying a flat and because of that, we decided not to put pictures up/decorate here and we still have packing boxes everywhere. The other is that there is no central heating and oh my god was it cold this winter. However, it's now warming up and it's much nicer (particularly to be out on the roof in the sun), it's lovely to be with Clem and I'm really really looking forward to moving into our new place :)

- Complete the Goodreads 30 book challenge again


This one is well under way. Helped along by the fact that I now have an hour train journey to work and back every day. Plus I've been ill a couple of times which has meant lots of time in bed reading. My favourites so far this year have been Catch 22, Life After Life, and Letters of a Woman Homesteader.

- Go abroad with Clem, possibly to the Ukraine


Not yet. The Ukraine will probably have to be next summer as this year we are going to Glastonbury which will be our main holiday spend. We are hoping also to go and stay with Clem's godmother in the South of France for my birthday. She lives near Carcassonne and is always bigging up the Cathar castles - understandably, once you've seen the photo above.

- Sign up for a course – currently thinking printmaking or small metals.

The new part time/hobby courses prospectus has just come out for next academic year at the local college and I'm eyeing up Quiltmaking for Beginners and Pattern Cutting. I want to do ceramics and screen printing as well but as quilt making is already on my goals list I am going to start with that. Plus we are actively trying not to have so much clutter crap around the house and my attempts at pottery probably won't help with that.

- Make a quilt – I’d like to actually do it this year. I’ve got plenty of my dad’s and Clem’s old shirts to make it out of and I’m hoping to get a dedicated craft space set up in our new pad. 

See above! In clearing out clothes for the move, I've added a few things to my quilt pile, so will definitely have plenty of fabric. In the new flat there is a second bedroom which will for the time being will be a hobby room divided down the middle with twee washi tape. Khaki and trolls on one side, cutesy fabric and balls of wool on the other. We are nothing if not gender conformist in our hobbies. I will finally have space for my old Singer sewing machine table which currently resides with my parents, and I'm looking forward to bringing that over.