My place to share lots of photographs of my random crafty, makery, bakery and cookery projects, as well as random thoughts that might strike me and are too long for Twitter...

Sunday, 30 December 2012

20 Day Princess Challenge

I found this on petite tiaras tumblr and, whilst I will forget if I try and do it over 20 days, I figure I will remember if I give it 20 minutes. :)
20 Day Princess Challenge:

day 1: the princess you adore most
I have to be honest, I have many favourite princesses. I love ALL the princesses. I think Ariel, Pocahontas, and Rapunzel are my main three favourites. At least for today. And Tiana, I like Tiana too.

day 2: the princess you like least
Well in July 2013 (when she is apparently due to become an Official Princess, that crown will go to Merida. I just don't like her. Of the current ten, Mulan is definitely my least favourite.

day 3: the princess you relate to most
Really? That's tricky. I've never been locked in a tower or lived underwater. I HAVE had a horse and carriage (but it wasn't a pumpkin), and I did once wake up and say "Kisses always wake up the princess" when my Dad kissed me goodbye before work, so I guess Cinderella and Aurora. And I love books, so Belle too.

day 4: the side kick you wish you had
Pascal. Or Rajah. Or Flounder.

day 5: the best friend you wish you could hang out with
As in, best friend of a princess? Probably Rajah, or Meeko. If they have to be human . . . I can't think of many princesses with human best friends. If they have to be human, then Charlotte La Bouff.

day 6: the prince you wish loved you
Eric. To me, as a little girl, he had his own castle, ship, and dog, and what more can you ask for in a prince? To me as an adult that still sounds pretty damn good. Plus he is very handsome. Eric every time.

day 7: the parents you wish raised you
Now, this is tricky. 1) because I would never want any parents other than my own, I can't imagine even thinking about it, and 2) it says "parents". Think about it. Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, Jasmine, Pocahontas,  no mother, Tiana has no father, Aurora, Fa Mulan and Rapunzel have both parents, and only Mulan actually knows that before adulthood. So, I wouldn't actually want ANY Disney princess' parents, thanks.
day 8: the castle you wish you lived in
Cindrella castle. Or, obviously, Prince Eric's.

day 9: the town you wish you lived in
Hmmm...Maybe Belle's little provincial town. Or Corona.

day 10: the dress you wish you owned
Cinderella's ballgown. Or Belle's.
day 11: the voice you wish you had
I don't know, I kind of like my own voice. Not Snow White, I think her voice would probably get a little annoying after a while. Cinderella maybe? Or Pocahontas, I like her voice too. But do we mean speaking voice, or singing voice, because (ruining the magic) we all know sometimes they are totally different . . .

day 12: two princesses you think are best friends
Aurora and Snow White. Both love cute little cottages in the woods, and have a host of woodland friends. They were probably introduced by a passing deer, or something.

day 13: two princesses you think detest each other
I don't imagine two specific princesses getting on, I see it more as the old school vs the new school of Princesses, the originals (Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Belle, Ariel), and the newcomers (Pocahontas, Jasmine, Tiana, Mulan, Rapunzel). The classier, more chic princesses, vs the more girl power/tomboy princesses.

day 14: two side kicks who could make a great duo
Meeko and Mushu, maybe? They both seem cheeky.

day 15: two princes who would be best buds
Well Eric and Flynn Ryder are practically twins, so I guess maybe they would be buddies? Prince Adam, Prince Stefan, Prince Phillip and Prince Charming probably go golfing together.

day 16: the scene that always makes you cry
"Evangeline" from "Princess and the Frog" (and when Ray joins Evangeline), and the lanterns scene in "Rapunzel".

day 17: the scene that always makes you cheer
Erm, Gaston being thrown from the tower...I can't really think of any others!

day 18: the scene that always makes you cringe
None really that I can think of.

day 19: the story you wish was your life
None really! The Little Mermaid, maybe, for the ending? I don't know.
day 20: the movie you love the most
The Little Mermaid.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Project: Tree Decoration Gift Tags

Now you know I love my pottery painting, and my favourite place to go is Fired Arts on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield.

In January I bought some wrapping paper (for this year, because I'm cheap like that ;) that was covered in unusual tree decorations. So of course I knew exactly what I wanted my gift tags to be!


The ribbons go through the holes, and when the bows are undone there is enough ribbon to tie in a loop to hang on the tree. They are just attached to the presents with balls of sticky tape.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Worst. Christmas. Ever.

Lately it has become somewhat of an unfortunate tradition for me to work my ass off right up until Christmas Eve in full health, only to succomb to a cough, cold or full-blown flu during Christmas Day, thus having to leave the family celebration early. Last year I did pretty well and made it through Christmas Day, only to get a cold on Boxing Day.

My annual mantra to sick people of "STAY AWAY FROM ME!!" is not purely me being selfish. My Mum has Lupus (which basically means a buggered immune system, which basically means stay the hell away from sick people. For a more accurate description, see here), so if I'm ill, I can't do the big family Christmas. Christmas to me IS the big family Christmas, with everyone all together. So far, we've managed to wing it over the years, no-one else has gotten ill, and I've minimised the time I've spent in bed (and always, dammit, been fit and well for work on Dec. 27th).

This year, however, I would have given anything for a nice simple cough or cold. Turns out I had food poisoning (we presume, given that it seems to be mainly gone 24hrs later, and Norovirus is supposed to last for 48hrs-ish). HOWEVER when food poisoning could be mistaken for Norovirus (which is doing the rounds again here), that means quarantine, which means no family Christmas for me. Which means spending Christmas Day on our sofa in a blanket/in the bathroom, crying and feeling like crap. I officially ruined Christmas. Well, not me precisely, I can't help being ill...But Christmas was ruined none the less.

Anyone who says Christmas isn't 110% about family is WRONG. Having spent my first Christmas in 28 years without my family, I can tell you that now for a fact. I spent Christmas Day asleep on the sofa without my family. Bad times. John didn't get his Chirstmas dinner (or pigs in blankets), I didn't get anything but stomach cramps, a headache, and dehydrated, given that my stomach had developed a distint aversion to everything, even plain water. We still had presents, but that doesn't matter without family.

So that was my family Christmas ruined. Today, I am (right now, in fact) missing his family's Christmas dinner, because the thought of major food this morning turned my stomach (does anyone else get that food-phobia after a bout of throwing up? I always have).

I feel bad saying "Worst Christmas Ever" given that my Grandma died on Dec. 23rd when I was a teenager...But at least that Christmas we were still together, as a family, even if we were sad and didn't "celebrate" Christmas, we still got to spend the day together. That's all that matters about Christmas.

I just want to see my family! :'( Sad, sad times.

It makes me sad that 30 people viewed my blog yesterday too...Where were those people's families? Why did they have time to spend online on Christmas day? Maybe they were just non-Christmas-celebrating faiths. I hope so.

Hope everyone else had an AWESOME Christmas, doing whatever makes your Christmases awesome! :)

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Like If You Hate Fake "Like This" Pages...

OK, that title is just me being facetious. But seriously, I cannot be the only one who is sick of their Facebook feed being filled with "1 Like = 1 RIP", "Like if you think this sick kid deserves a BMX", "Like = You Care, Keep Scrolling = You're a total b@st@rd", "Ignore this if you hate puppies", "This kid asked Santa for his Dad to come home from Iraq, like if you want to see them reunited", "Like if you hate cancer", etc, etc, etc.

I'm going to just come right out and say it. If you are on my friends list, I am automatically going to assume that you hate cancer. In fact, if you are human, I'm going to assume that you hate cancer. That's not fair, actually, I'm going to assume that even the dogs and cat on my FB friends list would hate cancer if they had any concept of what it is. You don't need to like a photograph. I'm going to assume that you are basically a moral, upstanding human being (despite some trying desperately to convince me otherwise). I presume you want the kid to get his Dad home from Iraq, that you love puppies (or at least don't hate them), think all the sick kids should have bicycles, wish everyone who deserves it to rest in peace, and respect war veterans and old people in general.

Liking a picture will not cure cancer. It will not make the girl get naked, or the little boy fall down the well, or the snake eat the giraffe, or the hysterical/scary/amazing thing happen. What it will do is raise the likes on the photograph/page, which will probably then be sold on by the unscrupulous person/group who set it up to trick people into clicking on heart-rending/intriguing/gross links to make them more money.

Basically, the more people who like/share a picture (or profile) on Facebook, the more exposure the page/profile the picture belongs to gets, and the more valuable that page/profile becomes. The login for the page/profile is then sold to a company for a massive profit (bearing in mind all Facebook pages are free to create, pretty much a 100% profit), the company change the details of the profile or page to their own, and suddenly the business has a page with 50,000 likes . . . Instant popularity!

A page's "Edge Rank" is the score it is given which controls how the page interacts with other pages/profiles. The higher your ER the more your page is shown on newsfeeds, etc. Facebook decides which ERs are relevant to each person (hence the reason some days your feed is just chock-full of rubbish).

So be careful what you click on. If necessary, Google the name of that sick little kid or brave soldier. If it's a real story, chances are it has a real page that won't be raising money for con-artists.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Dolphins . . . Smarter Than Toddlers . . .

. . . And clearly smarter than some parents.

Now, take Seaworld out of the equation for a minute. Whatever your opinion of captive animals and Seaworld in particular, like it or not they exist, and they have animals.

They also have many MANY warning signs. Don't go too near the animals. Don't wear dangly/sharp jewellery, try and pet the animals, or hold up/wave around the feed containers at the edge/over the edge of the animal pens. They have keepers/handlers/staff reminding people of these rules.

So if I were the parent of Jillian Thomas, the little girl who was bitten by a dolphin at Seaworld Orlando, the first thing I would do, before going to the media complaining that my kid got bitten by a dolphin at Seaworld, would be to take a look at the video of the incident that I am using to prove that my kid got bitten. Because the video (below) clearly shows that the parent in question is busy with the video camera, and their daughter waves the white feeding tray in front of the dolphin. Remember those rules again? DON'T HOLD UP/WAVE AROUND THE FEED CONTAINERS. There is a wall. You can see it in the video. The wall slopes away from the pool. So, from a dophin's-eye view, you can't see the tray if it is where it should be, on the wall.
 "I am such an overprotective parent that if I knew my child might get bitten, I would not have even let my daughter do this."
 - Amy Thomas, Jillian's Mother.
Seriously? Are you genuinely serious with that statement?! You give your kid a tray of a non-domesticated animal's favourite food, stand them in front of aforementioned non-domesticated animal, walk away from your child to get a good view with your video camera, and it never crossed your mind that something might go wrong and the child might get bitten?!
"It was strange how they downplayed the whole thing. At the time, we thought we were at fault but these are children. We just want other parents to know the dangers."
 - Jamie Thomas, Jillian's Father. 
First off, go back to "the time". You were right. You ARE at fault. The keepers are responsible for the safety and well-being of the dolphins. Your wild animals are your own responsibility. Let's consider The Dangers of Seaworld.

Parents, The Dangers of Seaworld are:

 1) Not obeying the rules.
 2) Not realising that, however well behaved your kids are at home, when they are confronted with an amazingly exciting experience, they might well forget the rules they have read/been told, and need reminding.
 3) You are a parent first, and a cameraman/woman second. Adjust your behaviour accordingly.
 4) You cannot trust ANY animal (nope, not even Fluffy or Fido) 100% not to bite your child. Sad but true.

Apparently the family won't be taking legal action, but they would like Seaworld to either raise the age limit for dolphin feeding or remind parents that dolphins do bite.

I'm sorry, why should other kids suffer because you didn't keep a close enough eye on your own?! When we were there, tiny kids were being held up to see over the wall to feed the dolphins. They were fine. No-one got bitten. Parents were supervising. As for reminding people that dolphins can bite . . . Do you also want a sign saying the water in the tank is wet? That you should continue breathing in and out whilst feeding the dolphins? Because if we state all the obvious points that can be connected to dolphin feeding, the sign will be bigger than the freaking park.

Maybe we should add an IQ test that you have to pass before you are allowed near the dolphins, and if the dolphins have a higher score than you, you're not allowed a tray of fish?!

I've done the Behind the Scenes Dolphin Experience at Seaworld. There were a few VERY small children in our group, with parents, and they were impeccably behaved, despite being very excited. They participated safely in every aspect of the experience, even the bits when the dolphins hop (do dolphins hop?! Anyway) up onto the wall of the enclosure for petting and photographs. No-one got bitten.

I'm not perfect, I've been to parks, escaped my parents, and broken the rules before. I remember visiting an animal park with my family and getting bitten by a wallaby. There were safety signs, but the wallaby looked cute and fuzzy so I took my chance and petted it, and it nipped my hand. But because that was many years ago, when people were responsible for their own actions instead of blaming anyone and everyone else, my parents didn't go to the press and demand the park change the rules. They made sure I was OK, then they told me off for being stupid enough to pet a wallaby, then they apologised to the keepers because I broke the rules, and then we went about our day.

Jillian . . . I hope your bites heal quickly (think of the kick-ass story you have to go with your scars! Coolest. Story. In. Your. Class. EVER.) and that dolphins are still your favourite animals, because they are AWESOME. Next time, get your parents to cough up for the Behind The Scenes experience instead. All the fish is in a bucket held by a keeper, so it's super-safe, you are actually allowed to pet the dolphins, and the keepers teach you dolphin sign language too.

Mr Thomas' video is below . . .

Project: Mulled Wine

Now, I'll be honest. I'm not a big drinker of anything alcoholic, let alone mulled wine. Given my natural propensity to spill things, I don't drink red wine EVER. But, I got a two-can-dine meal deal from M&S, so I took the bottle of wine and bought a little packet of their mulling pot pourri (I don't care, that's what it looks like).

I didn't take a photo of the sachet, basically it does look exactly like Pot Pourri (you can see the contents of it in the pan in one of the photographs). I read a number of methods online . . . and then basically made my own up! It didn't quite work, but what the hell.

This was the wine I went for:

I started off with 100g of sugar, and the sachet contents in the pan. I added just enough water so that everything was just wet, and heated it on the stove until the sugar melted into the water and went syrupy. I carried on stirring for a few more minutes, and then poured in the wine. The instructions I had said to heat for 20mins. Well, after 20mins it still tasted WAY too alcoholy (I don't like wine, and having tried it before I mulled it, it still tasted way too much like that!) so all in all it cooked for about 45mins. During that time I eyeballed a bit more sugar in, so there was probably about 150g in altogether.

Surprisingly, once it had cooled and I put it back into the bottle (storage issues!), it was far too strong and syrupy to drink, almost like drinking Ribena without water. However, this gave me a genius idea, and without further ado I bring you . . .

The Mulled Wine Spritzer!

Trust me, it is delicious, (probably) alcohol-free and fantabulously Christmassy.

I will be freezing the rest of the mulled wine in ice cube trays so that I can thaw a few cubes whenever I fancy a spritzer, and just add lemonade!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Project: Advent Calendar

I decided this year to make my husband another special advent calendar. Partially because I couldn't find half of the DVDs that I put in last year's (did I make a post about that? I can't remember. If not, I will do), but also because he had another week of night shifts last week (I swear that happened last year too), so I had a whole week of evenings to work on it.

This is 2012's effort:

The adorable "stockings" are socks were from Primark's Christmas baby range, in 3-packs:

I marked the ribbon (just cheapy stuff from Hobbycraft) every 3.5" with a Sharpie, and then hand-sewed on the socks.

And then into each sock, I popped a MAGICAL ELF!!!

It had to be done, they are one of The Five Signs of Christmas. ;)

Of course, he had to ruin my surprise (Christmas donuts for breakfast in bed, followed by the big Advent Calendar Reveal) by staying up later than he said he would and throwing my plans out for the day, so that was ruined . . . Grrrrrrr!!

Happy Christmas Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-...

. . .Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve!

Everyone knows that advent calendars with chocolate are the best, but I hope you enjoy

this advent calendar

which I actually made for work, but which is (hopefully!) a nice Christmas treat for everyone!

Pass it on, share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter or wherever (mail them a letter, I dare you!), no-one profits from it or anything like that (least of all me... *sigh* ), spread the Christmas cheer!