Friday, December 30, 2011

A haiku a day....

I'm still busy hibernating so I'll let the haikus do the talking...

It's still night time when
we awake, as I drift off,
you fly far away.

Presentation's all,
Fold up the pretty paper,
Wrap it all in ribbons.

It's Christmas once again,
A day like no other day,
Magic fills the air.

Mad starlings flock here,
as day meets it end they swoop
and circle like one.

Up above the clouds...
(Landscapes of condensation,
That make my ears pop).

Gale force winds ruffle
Feathers on the blue tit's head,
As he pecks his lunch.

Twilight cloaks the world,
A deer peers out, silent, still,
Disguised as a tree.


Friday, December 23, 2011

A haiku a day...

We're deep in mid winter now, so it's high time for hibernating. I've swapped London's busy streets for quiet hills and forests deep in the Devon countryside. Days are spent sleeping late, reading Murakami's latest offering, IQ84 (it's a real page turner!) eating a lot, and walking off the food on long walks. Some new discoveries have been made including deer in the woods and a kingfisher flying past by the river. Here are these tales and more in haiku form...

Cold air fills my lungs,
Muddy puddles soak my feet.
Winter seeps inside.

I blaze a path through

bustling crowds busy buying
Christmas bits and bobs.


A nostalgic song,
a sepia coloured sky,
visions of the past.


Two deer bound away

on the strangely green carpet,

magic mossy scene.

Cobble stones, twinkling

lights, a little town bursting

with countryside charm.

Elusive vision,
a turquoise arrow darts past,
Shy kingfisher bird.

A river so long,
flows over gnarly tree roots,
a fleeting meeting.

Season's greetings. May you have a very merry Christmas :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Badger of the week (3)

This week I bring you..... a Christmas themed badger! It's a charming children's story book called 'Grumpy Badger's Christmas' which is written by Paul Bright with illustrations by Jane Chapman.

(Front cover of the book, published by Little Tiger Press: London, 2009)

This book tells the tale of a grumpy badger who just wants to hibernate alone for Christmas, but can't get any sleep because all the other woodland creatures are busy decorating the woods and getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Needless to say, badger gets very grumpy indeed! The pictures are absolutely gorgeous - I would love some of them as artworks to hang on the wall. Here's a peek at Badger trying to get some sleep...

Illustration by Jane Chapman

I love the attention to detail throughout which is evident in this picture - badger's bushy eyebrows, the mismatched patch on his quilt that matches the inside of the book cover, his cute whiskers and furry face :)

Badger has a habit of exclaiming funny things like piffle and triple piffle! as he gets more and more annoyed...

Illustration by Jane Chapman

The words are set out thoughtfully on the pages, so that they become almost part of the scene. It's well written and funny, even to this very overgrown child (haha) and I highly recommend it whether or not you are a badger fan (and you sure will be - it's impossible not to fall in love with his grumpy ways by the last page)

You can buy the book here!
Merry Christmas Badger!

Friday, December 16, 2011

A haiku a day...

Jazz singer lady,
climbs tables, curls up small: love,
pain - she sings it all.

Amidst all the noise,
we hold hands in the darkness,
awaiting our dreams.

Dark hours of night
linger all day, fairy lights
are happy relief.

Paper everywhere,
notes typed neatly/scrawled madly,
debris of my mind.

Suddenly darkness,

clouds converge, exposed to the

elements I melt.

Black bile gurgles up
meets the dark cloud; a haze forms,
I cower inside.

Windows fog over,
condensation fills this house,
like a dark, damp cave.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

happy little moments... festive times

Happy moments were spent this weekend (in no particular order)...
  • Watching the Nutcracker and being totally enthralled by the amazing music and production. Times like that, I wish I was a ballerina...
  • Enjoying the tastiest mojitoes in all the land whilst listening to the most amazing jazz singer in a local bar (ahhhh hidden treasures)...
  • Christmas shopping at Camden market finding treats galore for lots of people. Now I get to wrap them, which is almost the best part of the whole thing...
  • Crocheting along to some of my favourite films. Secret project finished :) ...
  • Sleeping in, dreaming in technicolour...
  • Taking some moments to breathe and just be in the midst of these hectic busy days. Inspirational quotation of the moment:
"Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life."
~Omar Khayyán~

Still, no point pretending that I can't wait for it to be the holidays. Just one more week.... x

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A haiku a day...

Sunrise/sunset moments have cropped up quite a lot in my haikus this week, which is symptomatic of the short days of winter I suppose - I'm much more likely to witness these displays and experience the strange betwixt times when it's not quite day or night when they happen later in the morning and mid-afternoon. I've spotted lots of birds this week too which is nice and I've managed to squeeze some of these little moments into my daily 17 syllable quota. Thank goodness for the birds singing and fluttering on through these cold and greyish days, bringing some beauty to the newly-barren tree branches. Not mentioned here is the flock of goldfinches that flew over me one day when I was out for a run. The sight of their little red faces and yellow bellies bobbing above me spurred me on on a very a cold day. It's worth getting outside for a sight like that :) Anyway, enough rambling, here are the haikus....

Birdsong, tired eyes,
Cold puffs of breath, glowing sky:
Morning impressions.

Duckpond kerfuffle,

Breadcrumb feast 'neath yellow skies,
as day fades to night.


My feet are heavy

When I start, a few miles on,

I'm almost flying.


flutters at my feet, what a

Charming encounter!


Grandeur, opulence,

we play at being fancy,

at the opera house.

A raging rabble,
squashed in, we zoom through London,
deep beneath the streets.

Grey winter light weighs

heavy on me, outside the

storm is raging on.


Friday, December 09, 2011

DIY: Easiest Christmas garland ever!

Here's how to add a bit of festive charm to your home with a very simple garland....

You will need:

Felt, in festive colours (I used green and red)

Ribbon, in festive colours (I used gold and green)


Paper for a template

1. Decide what festive message you want to create for your home. You can be as imaginative or as simple as you like. I went with the basic "Ho ho ho!" because it only required 2 letters! I also decided to make some pretty stars. You could use any festive shapes, such as holly leaves, Christmas trees or candy canes -use your imagination!

2. Make a template for your letters with paper. Make sure they are clear and easy to cut out.

3. Carefully cut the shapes out of your felt. It might help to draw around the templates on the felt first. This way you can arrange the template to get as many shapes out of your felt as possible. Use contrasting colours for an extra pretty garland!

4. Glue your shapes onto your length of ribbon, taking care to space them evenly and to leave space at the end to attach your ribbon to the wall. Make sure to protect your worksurface with newspaper or you might accidentally glue your garland to the floor/table (I know this from experience!). Leave to dry for a few hours or overnight. You can make short garlands to hang over doorways or in the window, or make extra long ones that go all the way across the room!

This one goes all the way across the room

This little one goes on the window with some tinsel :)

5. Hang your lovely garland! At this point I recommend putting on some Christmas songs. Mulled wine is also an excellent refreshment to sip whilst admiring your handywork :)


Thursday, December 08, 2011

Badger of the week (2)

Badger fun this week doubles up as a fun DIY for transforming an oversized t-shirt into something prettier to wear. I got this rather fetching t-shirt on ebay last year for the bargainous price of £2.99. It's top quality cotton and the design is lovingly hand-painted on and signed by the artist (someone called Danny Bradley). I love the badger (obviously), and the flower/woodland design is nice and colourful. I envisaged transforming this into a more fitted and flattering top which can be paired with skirts galore...

For this DIY you will need:
  • 1 oversized t-shirt (badger picture on the front optional)
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine/needle
Step 1. Try on the top and decide what you want to change. I simply cut of the sleeves and changed the neckline, as this rather simplistic diagram shows...
Step 2: Although the seams of cotton fabric like this usually don't need sewing to stop them fraying, it's a nice idea to seam the arm holes to give a tidier appearance (I didn't actually bother tho!).You could also shorten the t-shirt and re-seam the bottom, but seeing as I planned on wearing this tucked in to various things, I just left it long...

Step 3:
Using the left over material from the sleeves, cut three long strips of fabric and braid them together.

Step 4: Sew this carefully to the neckline for a pretty effect. You can also pinch in the sleeve parts to make a different shaped neckline like so...

Step 4:
Get dressed in your new, transformed top.
Et voila! A simple (and in my case, snuffly) new item of clothing to wear.

(Paired with my homemade golden stardust skirt)

An easy peasy, subtle but effective transformation!
Before and After

More badgers on their way soon!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

happy little moments... tinselling the flat

A couple of nights ago, we got the Christmas boxes down, ready to transform our flat into a sparkly grotto of festivities. I had fun tipping out all the tinsel into a big pile in the middle of the floor to see it sparkle....

Over the last few years we've managed to get rather a lot of this stuff. Now there's not a surface uncovered with these lovely strands of shimmery colour. Isn't tinsel brilliant? It even has it's own tinsely smell! Everything's so colourful and cosy. I love Christmas decorations!

Th next Christmas job to sort out is... the tree! And later in the week I'll share a easy peasy Christmas garland DIY.

Until then, this Christmas fairy wishes you ~*magic and sparkles galore *~


Monday, December 05, 2011

On my hook....

Here's a sneak peek at the ripply waves that are currently growing on my hook....

(based on the delightful ripple pattern by the lovely Lucy of Attic 24)

I can't say much more or the Christmas fairies might get upset with me for sharing secrets.


Friday, December 02, 2011

A haiku a day...

The last of the leaves,
falling in slow motion like
Colourful snowflakes.

Twirl me around love,
our own secret waltz, dancing,
drunk at three AM.

Awake until dawn,
asleep until dusk, today
is topsy-turvy.

Things I've thought, only
Eloquently expressed, words

to inspire my own.


Gusts of wind blow in,

Uproot, overturn, destroy,

Later, calm returns.

An imperfect world:

delays, dead ends, frustrations

make it hard to think.

My future mirrors
my past, in this strange vision,
I observe, all eyes.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Badger of the week (1)

I thought it might be fun to share, little by little, some of my favourite badger things. I'm sure nobody else is as taken with these lovely creatures as me, but no matter, perhaps I will convert you to their lovely snuffly ways. I'll pick one of my favourite badger things every week and tell you a little bit about it :) I have quite an extensive collection of badger related things, so there's plenty to share! I'll try and share some facts about the animals themselves along the way so maybe you'll learn a thing or two. If nothing else, perhaps I'll amuse someone out there with my rather eccentric obsession...

To start with, a photo. This lovely green fellow was spotted on a shop window in Brugge, Belgium last year. I love that he is clearly king of something and that not only is he having fun blowing bubbles, but he's also balancing on a particularly big bubble. I hope nobody bursts it!

More meles meles soon!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bobbly Stripy Circle Scarf (or Crochet Confessions of a Scarf-aholic)

I have lots and lots of scarves which may or may not have something to do with the years I lived in France and got somehow brain-washed into thinking that all outfits at all times of the year require at least one scarf. It's just the French way. When they're not wrapped around my neck, my scarfs get stashed in a basket on top of the cupboard and hung up in the wardrobe and flung over the backs of chairs and stuffed in bags.... I have square ones, long fat woolly ones, silky soft ones, crocheted shawl ones, scarves of every colour, size and shape and even scarves I bought specifically for the purpose of decorating my flat because they're just so pretty. There certainly isn't a scarf drought going on in these parts.

, amongst this vast collection, there was not one single circle scarf or cowl and having seen people wearing them over the last year or so, I couldn't help but notice that they seem so practical (no way they can unwind and fall off your neck) and so pretty and really quite necessary. Just call me a scarf-aholic. Anyway, rather than waste time justifying my decision, I got busy
last week with my hook and wool stash and whipped this circle scarf up (after all, it's finally started getting cold here so there's no time to waste!). Here it is laid out flat....

I was really inspired by the different stripes, stitches and colour explosion going on in
this beautiful blanket but wanted to translate it to my favourite part of the spectrum (you might have noticed that most of my favourite crocheted things are are mixture of these colours. These are the colours that make me happy, all warm and firey and so much like the falling autumn leaves that I love)..

image from here

I started with a chain of 120 stitches which I joined into a circle. This seemed like a decent length when I looped it around my neck. Then picking my colours pretty much at random as I went along, I got to hooking up the stripes, making my circle grow into a tube shape as I went. I used a mixture of single crochet, double crochet, half-double crochet and granny stripe stitches (which is why I made my original chain a multiple of 3) for variety and I also included some sweet little bobbles like the ones in the blanket that inspired it. Here are some close-ups of those lovely colourful stripes...
And here's what it looks like wrapped around my neck (funny how the light has altered the colours of the wool somewhat in the photos, it looks really different above and below! I would say the first photo right at the top and the pictures below are a better indication of the real life colours)....

Ahhh it's so snug and cosy. My neck will be very happy indeed this winter.

In other wool related news, I took a trip to the haberdashery last week. Here's my bounty, all lined up, a mixture of Robin double knit and Patons Fab double knit....

You may have noticed that it's the other side of the colour spectrum completely...
image from here
...but that's because this time this wool isn't for me. It's for some Christmas presents which means I'd better say no more. Lets just say that things are about to get real ripply around here :)

What have you been hooking up lately? Any other scarf addicts out there?

Friday, November 25, 2011

A haiku a day...

Un peu de variété cette semaine - I had a go at writing some of my haikus in French during my trip as I was somewhat immersed in a French-speaking bubble and was inspired to give it a go. French words certainly present a different syllabic challenge to English and it was fun to write something short and yet restrictive in a foreign language. So I'm sorry if you don't speak French - perhaps they'll seem more poetic that way anyhow, haha! Anyway, enjoy...

Les rues de Paris,

sont longues mais jolies, en me

perdant, je me trouve.

Matin à Paris,

Seule dans un café charmant,
j'attends tant de choses.

A thousand fireflies
dance, glimmers of magic light

up our happy night.


Miles of misty fields,

between here and home, betwixt
two worlds am i now.

Through thick morning fog,
I spy a buzzard and crow,
deep in discussion.

Gloomy November

weather-wise, but in spirit

I'm sunny as June.

Night arrives early,
Pressed up against my window,
Its cold eyes peer in.


Language: alchemy,
verbs and nouns join together,
to create whole worlds.

p.s. I just realised that this post marks 4 months of writing a haiku everyday! I'm so pleased I've kept it up and now have a little insight into a moment of every day since mid-July :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On wandering in Paris...

"Not all those who wander are lost"
~J.R.R. Tolkien~

"I am the wanderer's wandering daughter"
~Kimya Dawson~

"J'ai souvent remarqué que c'est en déambulant que je trouve les idées les plus lumineuses. Dans le mouvement... Tandis que quand je m'acharne et que je reste à ma table, rien ne vient. Il faut que je marche à grandes enjambées, sans rien voir, tout à mes pensées..."
(I've often remarked that it's when I'm wandering around that I have the most enlightening ideas. In movement... When I'm desparately trying and I'm stuck at the table, nothing comes. I have to go out for a really good walk, without looking around, immersed in my thoughts...)

~Linda L

Ahh to wander a while around Paris, just for a day or so. It was wonderful. I covered quite a lot of miles, without any particular route in mind and without any sense of hurry. All alone with my thoughts, sometimes I was intent on taking in everything around me, delighting in the way the Eiffel tower occassionally popped up unexpectedly from behind buildings and the way the last of the leaves were falling from trees on the banks of the Seine. At other times, I was just day-dreaming away, happy as can be, totally lost in the imaginary world inside my head. It was a very inspiring few days, and as they say in French, ça m'a fait du bien..
Here are some of the sights I saw over the few days I was there...

Old meets new - this church caught me by surprise, peeking out at the end of a narrow street...

Winding streets full of pretty buildings and shops... ahh the cobblestones...

Autumn in full swing down by the Seine...

A pretty Parisian square, with buildings lined up in reds and creams overlooking the square where I imagine more than a few games of boules get played on sunnier days...

So many restaurants and cafes spill onto the pavements, even as the temparature drops at this time of year. It's the perfect city for al fresco dining, and I thought this little place looked especially picturesque...

On one of the many bridges, I stopped to take in the view back over the river and admire the giant Notre Dame cathedral and pretty autumnal trees...

There are so many beautiful flower beds in the Jardin du Luxembourg. They look as cosy as giant cushions, all nestled together under this lovely tree. On a warmer day, I would have loved to have a picnic here :) ....

Stopping to put my feet up and admire the little balconies on the building opposite my hotel room...

Out on another ramble a little later, I noticed this rather nice 'renamed' street - the street of sharing. And also a street where little red elephants can happily stroll along...

I stumbled across this art gallery, set up in a building that was formerly occupied by squatters. It was as colourful inside as the door suggests, with paintings and collages decorating the staircases, walls and floors of each floor. A fun unexpected insight into some very contemporary artists studios....

And some more traditional art is held here in the Louvre. I just admired from the outside this time (it's so big), and wandered under this mini arc-de triomphe before heading for a café for some much needed refreshement....

Later, the sun started setting as a storm drew in, hence the dark brooding clouds over this lovely view of the Eiffel Tower. I made it into a restaurant for a tasty omelette and frites just in time to escape the plump heavy raindrops...

Sunset a few days later in the Jardin du Luxembourg. It was the brightest autumn day, not a cloud in the sky. That's the tour de Montparnasse in the background

View of the Seine at nighttime...

My wanders ended here, at the bottom of the Champs-Elysée, with a nice cup of vin chaud from the marché de Noel which had just opened...

Paris, je taime.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

happy little moments... a Parisian haberdashery

I had a rather happy moment indeed when I emerged from a randomly chosen metro stop in Paris upon my arrival last week to start a-wandering to my hotel and immediately stumbled across the most marvellous haberdashery. Tucked into a narrow old building near a big building site, it was a little cavern of colour and delights full of rows of shelves which housed jars of fabric flowers...

A whole room full of buttons and beans, all sorted into colour and shape and lined up like sweets in an old-fashioned shop...

And an entire wall of beautiful ribbons of all colours, sizes, intricacies and delicteness...

In the back of the shop, a lady was spinning wool on an old fashioned machine, and there were various nooks and crannies full of bundles of fabric, loops of luxurious wools and yarns and pretty little craft kits. I could've spent hours browsing, admiring and picking out treats, but I was rather conscious of the gigantic backpack I was carrying and its potential to knock over all the pretty fragile things and alas, I had many miles to wander to my hotel, so I left empty-handed. But not without a smile on my face :)

I looked up the name of the shop online when I got back - it's called La droguerie and it's right by the metro stop Les Halles - well worth a visit if you're in Paris and looking to stock up on buttons/ribbons/beads/smiles... In fact, there are similar shops in lots of French cities (with different names I believe - the one in Lyon where I used to live is called La marchande des couleurs and I still have pretty things that I made with some of the treats I got there)

*sigh* even the sign is pretty as can be!
image via Craftzine

Later, in another quartier entirely (right near the Louvre) I sat in a pretty café, admiring this metro station entrance. It hardly looked real. It was as if some mischevious fairy had paid a visit to the lovely haberdashery, strung some beads and christmas baubles together in the shape of a miniature door, and then sprinkled them with fairy dust so that they grew to human size. Clearly, it's *actually* a magical entrance to some other place - probably a French fairy land or some extravagent pixie palace - and not a metro stop at all....

pretty pretty!

Here's to happy moments in haberdasheries all over the world!