Friday, 31 December 2010

Best ever work


Happy New Year to all of you


Thursday, 30 December 2010

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

2010 knits

Friday, 24 December 2010

I am a Scrooge

I hate Christmas.

When did this start? I do not know, I think it is quite a recent affection. I think I was happy with Christmas when the kids were young. I think I was happy with Christmas when I was younger. But as years pass, Christmas seems more and more stressful for me. I am not organising anything though, and I should just enjoy the festive period. But no, I can not.

Actually, Christmas makes me sad, depressed and cranky. When December starts, I get organised, make lists, plan, set up deadlines, and promise myself that I will enjoy myself, that I will not ruin it for everyone else, that I will keep an open and kind mind. All of this should be easy: I just have to find presents for everybody (not a large family), pack my bags and fly to my parents’ home. Everything should be smooth and easy.

Is it due to my expectations being too high? Is it me being unable to relax and just enjoy? Is it some old family history creeping back? I so wish that Christmas was off the calendar, I cannot wait for January 2nd when the year is new and fresh, when anything is possible, when I can promise myself to make everything nice and better… until next Christmas.

Forgive me if I do not wish you a Merry Christmas, I prefer to wish you good health, supporting family, wonderful kids, amazing partners, fulfilling projects, peace of mind, good reads, surprises, self confidence, comfort of knowing you have great friends… and chocolate.

To all my readers, thank you for stopping by, thank you for your messages

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Until next year, take care.

Caroline

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Neat knit

This is our 5th day in ‘gloomy wonderland’.  Today fog, rain, everything is grey and unwelcoming, and I still love it!

I bought some very inexpensive yarn the other day (2 Euros a ball), 100% acrylic, but so soft.  It is perfect for a baby knit.  I have 2 balls in Night blue and 2 balls in Silver grey.  I am using this pattern from Joji as an inspiration.  I am knitting a size 3-month for MP’s BB #2.  This little one will be born at the beginning of Autumn and will need something to keep him warm (any excuse to knit is good, isn’t it?)

Monday, 20 December 2010

A new banner for December

We are in Europe and were welcomed by snow and cold weather. Just what we wanted. I am wearing socks, shawl, reading by the fire, sipping herb tea to keep me warm. I love it!

Yesterday we went for a walk at sunset, and took a couple of pictures, and made up a new banner.


Now you will excuse me, but I am going yarn-shopping, I need something soft and wooly.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

UFOs Challenge 2011

Jumping onto this virtual wagon – finishing 12 UFOs in 2011.  The rules are easy, make a list of your UFOs, number them and wait for Judy (from Patchwork Times) to draw a number and this is the project that will be worked on and hopefully finished for the month (go to her blog if I am not clear).
Here is my provisional list:
  1. A’s quilt – finish borders, quilt and bind;
  2. MP & B’s wedding quilt – finish a couple of blocks, decide on borders, quilt and bind;
  3. Mystery quilt – quilt and bind;
  4. Lady of the lack – machine quilt and bind;
  5. Black, red and white kaleidoscope – quilt and bind;
  6. Cats quilt – machine quilt and bind; DONE
  7. J. Chiaverini sampler quilt – finish to hand sew a couple of block and the border, machine assemble, quilt and bind;
  8. Gold flower kaleidoscope – finish blocks (lots of them), assemble, quilt and bind;
  9. Make-up wallet – hand quilting, assemble;
  10. Cream stars quilt – finish blocks, assemble, quilt and bind
  11. Batik quilt – finish hand quilting, blind
I probably have more, and I am probably too ambitious; I also know which ones are my priorities, so I might bend the rules a bit.  2011 will have to be a ‘finish-projects’ year.
No time for pictures for the moment, I need to finish my packing, we are leaving tomorrow.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Inspired

I’ve already done a post like this before. But do not worry this is not old age getting to me, it is just that Sarah from Clover lane really inspires me (you can now go straight to her blog using the button on the side).

I have and will most certainly never meet Sarah, but very often, I feel that I would really enjoy being her friend (How many friendship offers have you received, Sarah?). And yesterday, this feeling was quite strong.

Indeed, yesterday I decided to prepare our bags for the holidays. Just to put things straight, we live in Singapore, will spend Christmas with my family in France (13 hour-flight; a big Thank You to NSAH2, who booked the tickets when he realised that I had not the guts to tell my parents we might not come!), then we will fly all the way across the world to Melbourne (13 + 8 hours) to Lady Gaia’s christening (the thing is that A. is the godmother, Lady Gaia’s mum being A.’s godmother and my goddaughter – it runs in the family and this is a very big event for all of us). We will go from Summer to Winter and back to Summer, add the Christmas and christening presents and you get a packing nightmare.

My strategy was to start with the ‘Winter packing’. I dug into the storage boxes trying to locate hats, gloves, scarves, jumpers… realising at the same time that most of the children’s clothes were too small. Followed a big sorting of the winter clothes, I then had to reorganise the storage boxes which lead to more sorting, more organising. 5 hours later, my bedroom looked a mess,but in another couple of hours later my bedroom was neat, my closets organised with a smell of orange blossom (nothing fancy here, just some rice in a jar and 20-ish drops of essential oil; shake it with the lid on! Reopen and enjoy).

Just before going to bed, I read Sarah’s post, we were so in synch! Or are we all in synch at the moment. Do we all go through our closets, sorting, cleaning, organising? Is this syndrome related to the fact that Christmas is approaching fast, very fast?

On this note, I registered to the Fly Lady newsletter: more tips, more routines… I can see New Year’s resolutions coming. Here is one of mine : de-clutter room by room. Again I am inspired by Sarah and her 40 bags challenge from last year.

Oh, you want some pictures! I am not going to humiliate myself showing you my messy bedroom. But here is a picture of what I have been doing.

First they look like this

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Then, there’s an army of them:

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Saturday, 11 December 2010

Project BIG LOVE

I have been falling behind…  I was supposed to finish A’s jumper early in October for our trip to China (Did I mention the ‘traumatic’ experience of getting – or NOT our visas!  It is tempting to rumble about the French-Chinese relationships… but it is useless, and hopefully we will have other opportunities to go to China).

Coming back to this knit, it took me longer than expected, but it is now finished, and it looks gorgeous on A. (or is it A. looking gorgeous in it?).

Shabby Princess ~ Happy Go Lucky

Now back to my needles, I have more projects to finish for Christmas.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

RECEIVED

I have received it!  Look how lovely this is.  My candle mat is there, not too Christmassy which means that I will have the pleasure to use it all year long.  For the coming festive season, it will be with this little angel.

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Look closely, don’t you like the fabrics, the colours, the harmony of the patterns.

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A BIG thank you Raylee, I LOVE it. By the way go and see Raylee’s blog (don’t we all love visitors?)

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

PG Tips vs PG tea pillow

PG what? OK, if you are from the UK,you KNOW PG Tips: it’s is a cheap brand of basic English tea (sorry, I am French and I only drink coffee or posh teas).  Every British household had, has or will have PG Tips in their cupboard.  From a PG Tips’ tea bag, you will obtain a brown-ish substance, add milk and it will turn beige-ish with little spots, a bit darker.  Your taste buds will have trouble to detect any flavour, but you are supposed to drink it hot, so it does not matter much you have already burned your taste buds. Again, this is from somebody that has infused in coffee all her life… You should go to their website just to see their mascot, the Monkey. 

Now what about the PG tea pillow?  First, let me digress a bit. P. also known as NSAH2 travels a lot (hence his nick-name – Never Stay at Home Husband) for his work, visiting hotels, having meetings and conferences around Asia and the rest of the world.  After each trip, he brings back some ‘goodies’: rubber ducks, samples of the latest Spa products, pictures of him and his team, ‘ugly’ candles, Indian tea… Did I say that he works in the hotel business? After each trip, I try to discourage him; we have to save the planet from all the rubbish each of us are producing, and he is not helping by bringing back everything he is given… Digression finished.

The other day, NSAH2 came back from China. We got the usual team picture; I am not going to show this here for respect to my few readers.

The expected Teddy Bear (on this one’s business card, it says '”my interests include getting warm and cuddly with wives, girlfriends and children…” !…)

And a monstrous tea bag, wrapped in bright Chinese fabric. Best of all, it has been monogrammed to my hubby’s initials: PG.  Actually it is not a tea bag, but a ‘Lucky golden pillow’ which according to the prospectus will ‘eliminate fatigue, increase work efficiency, decrease stress, reduce high blood pressure, improve vision and can prevent brain cancer’.  How come we did not get one earlier?

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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Mindless post - The before/after game

 

BEFORE

before

AFTER

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Can you spot the differences?

The After picture is how I like my perfumes to be displayed; the Before is how I find them each time, after my helper cleaned the bathroom.

The question is: should I mention it? or should I be grateful to have a helper that does most of the tasks I do not like and let me spend more time on the things I like?

Decision made: I will be GRATEFUL!… and rearrange my perfumes Smile

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Teddy Bears’ party

‘For next week, sew the head and stuff it’.  That’s how we finished last Friday’s workshop.

IMG_0072[1]A couple of months ago, I had seen this Teddy Bear in a Decoration shop (Lim’s for those of you who live in S’pore).  I loved the fact that it was done with Batik.  If you remember what I sewed last year (this dress, and this one, this skirt and those two dresses, and here another skirt…), you know that I love Batik.  Conclusion, I had to have one of those Batik Teddy Bears, but was not ready to buy it.  Where is the fun in buying something you would enjoy making?

I booked myself for a Teddy Bears’ workshop at Brigitte.  My first workshop for a long, very long time. I do not go to many workshop as I think that I am able enough to follow a pattern, but on the other hand, it is so nice to share experiences with others, and all the chatting!

Teddy Bears first batch

Last Friday was the first part of the workshop, only 2 participants.That was great.  Back home, I finished my ‘first head’, stuffed it, sewed the arms and belly, stuffed them too… and now what? Wait until next Friday?  No, I cut, sewed and stuffed another 3 bears on Sunday, and another 4 on Monday. I am not compulsive, I am just enjoying myself.

Teddy Bears ecossais

To be continued…

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Books, books, I love books

I knit.
I sew.
I embroider.
I cook.
I blog.
and
I read. Yes I do and not only Tintin au Congo (sorry, private joke with my kids and NSAH2).
Here is what I am reading at the moment:
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A great read so far. I started slowly and now I can’t wait to go to bed and read (Yes, Dear Cousin, you are not the only one who cannot go to sleep without having read a few lines).
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This one is in preparation of the little visitor who comes to see us in a bit more than a week. We would not want to feed Lady Gaia with processed food, would we?
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If you are a Quilting blog addict, you might know Elizabeth Hartman. She is behind Oh Fransson. I started following her blog in 2008. It is so nice to witness her style getting stronger, her technique taking a modern twist, and the colours she uses are so invigorating.
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Finally, this one is on my bedside table. Do not be mistaken, it is not to cure night insomnia. I am really reading it.
660 muscles more or less in our body, how lucky we are! Soon I will know all the muscles involved in my arms’ circumduction (love this word, it means that you are doing circles with your arms).
By my bed, I have a large basket of books I am planning to read next: Wolf Hall from Hilary Mantel, Mercy – Toni Morisson (isn’t she a beautiful lady?), Le projet Lazarus – Aleksandar Hemon, Martha Inc., The Laguna – Barbara Kingsolver and I have much more on my ‘ToRead list”. I do not understand how people can get bored, honestly there is so much to read.
PS. Have you notice how I managed to post without any crafting progress? I’ve been revising recently (hence the anatomy book). I am working on Xmas projects and I am going to a ‘Teddy Bear workshop’ tomorrow.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

C.U. Later

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Halloween or Toussaints? The first one being fun for kids, and scary. The second one, boring and scary too (in my childhood, on Nov. 1st, we would go from cemetery to cemetery, with my grandmother, paying respect to people we did not know and having tea with [scary] old ladies).

For the Treat or Trick’s party at our condo, J. helped me to prepare sweet bags: more hygienic (it might feel good to be scared, but germs from the neighbourhood travelling on little hands, dipping in my bowl of sweets is not for me!).

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Do you like my banner? Not too scary. A. said ‘creepy’, it reminds her of the movie Coraline.

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J. has always been my little witch with her eyes of different colour. A good witch though! But, when you are 10, being a witch is no longer fun. This year, she was a Disco Diva (Disco maybe, Diva for sure).

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Tonight all the decorations are going down until next year, and shall we start thinking about Xmas?

By the way, if you are wondering what is in our plates this week, here it is: pasta with melted butter.

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Monday, 1 November 2010

Candle mat swap

Today is the day I need to send my finished mat.  My birdies are going to… sorry I cannot tell you yet!  What I can tell is that they are going to the States, North Carolina to be a bit more specific.  I hope my partner likes it.  First swap and I am nervous: will it be at the required level of quality?  Will my partner like the colour, the arrangement?…

candle mat

In the other hand, I am very exited to receive mine.  I’ve been checking the Flickr pool recently, there are so many lovely realisations.  I wonder whether my other partner has post a picture of my mat.

I still have 3 other mats to finish, I hope to send some to my friends in the UK soon.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Our last dinner with Donna Hay…

… at least for this week!

beef salad

That was the last day of the Donna Hay series. Beef, it is not something we eat often here. But yesterday I bought some serious Australian sirloin beef. I did not have to add any fat to cook it; it was so nicely marbled, and ended up so tasty. Tomatoes and cucumbers for the salad, sesame oil with garlic and chilli for the dressing – that turned out to be an excellent AND so healthy dinner.

Next week’s menus might feel quite dull after what we had.

To my Dear Readers, I promise as from tomorrow I will blog again about craft!

Chicken Yakitori

I would have loved to prepare some seafood or fish for Friday night, but J. does not really like fish or seafood. I therefore went for something that would please everybody. I also needed something that would be super fast to prepare; you have to understand that I had been to a hand-on chocolate workshop all afternoon.

The good thing with this recipe is that the preparation is so fast (also I bought my chicken thighs already filleted). You start with the sauce, and while you prepare the salad, the chicken is marinating in the sauce.

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15 minutes later, tada!… our dinner is ready.

The verdict: Should I really mention it?…

Friday, 29 October 2010

Donna Hay, 3rd take

Wednesday was our night out; P. took us to Marina Bay (if you ever come to S’pore, you cannot miss it: it is a hotel in the shape of a boat. It’s huge and it’s the tallest building in the City. From the top, you have a great 360-view). To come back to my story, no cooking for me yesterday.

Making a decision for tonight’s meal was not easy. As I read the recipes aloud to A., she chose the salmon with pea and feta couscous, but I was more tempted by the ‘crispy-skin salmon with chilli salt’. So I had to compromise: ‘crispy-skin salmon with chilli salt’ with Adamame beans and couscous and peas salad.

Here is our dinner in pictures:

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The verdict:

  • Another success. The salmon was sweet and hot all at once, and the couscous has always been one of the kids favourite.
  • The salmon was a tad too cooked.

Personal message to Donna Hay: “My family and I love you.”

I am not sure what it will be tomorrow. I will need something very light as I am going to a ‘chocolate workshop’, making truffles!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Day 2 with Donna Hay

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Yesterday, I’ve tried the ‘sticky pork fillet with shiitake mushrooms’ (minus the star anise which P. does not like). The preparation was fast and easy (especially when you have a rice-cooker, and somebody that prepares the rice for you!). No fancy ingredients, and being in S’pore the mushrooms are easy to find. Wrapped everything, put it in the oven, just enough time to set the table, and it was ready. I served it with stir fried asparagus and mushrooms to which I added a bit of oyster sauce.


The verdict:

  • 110% success: everybody loved it, the parcel paper was almost eaten too, no grain of rice was left behind, and V. almost ate all his mushrooms.

We’ve got a keeper.

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PS1: I know my place mats look a bit dated, but I cannot give them away; my aunty offered them to me when I first started working

PS2: New year’s resolution, MUST take photography lessons.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Cooking my week with donna hay magazine

You’ve probably seen or read or heard about ‘Julie and Julia’.  I have seen the movie which I very much enjoyed, and partially read the book which I did not enjoy as much.

Although I like the idea of experiencing with each recipe, I am not that ambitious, and I have a family to feed, and no life crisis to cure (done that already).  So I am not going to cook every single recipe from Julia Child.  At the moment, I am more interested in Donna Hay and her magazine.  And I love the October issue : ‘Sweet as spring’.

I’ve decided that this week I will make my way through ‘donna hay magazine’.  Again, I am not that ambitious, and will restrict myself to the evening meals, 5 to be precise (NSAH2 might take me out at the end of the week, and Sunday, I will improvise with what’s left in the fridge – I should really change my grocery shopping day).

So, first dinner, ‘herb crumbed snapper’ (p70 if you have the magazine).  I bought some red snappers and had them filleted.  I served the fillets with cabbage and carrots stir-fried (the kids do not like rocket).  I replaced the parsley with Chinese parsley.

The verdict:

  • on the children’s side: they did not like it, too spicy!
  • on the adults’ side: we loved it.  Although I might put fewer herbs next time, we enjoyed the combination of flavours.

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Friday, 22 October 2010

1, 2, 3 and 4 (almost) done

Yes, I’ve done 4 Candle mats so far.  The pattern is easy, fast and I find that doing 2 at a time allows me to use a wider variety of fabrics while minimising my ‘leftovers’.   I need to add embellishment, choose the backing (one piece, or pieced?), then quilt them (machine or hand?).

Here are the lovelies:

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If you want to see more Candle mats from the swat, go and visit the flickr group.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

On the impact of S’pore’s weather on my children (!)

Yesterday, I took the kids shopping.  We are going to China (to be precise, we HOPE – but this is another story) next week-end.  On Friday, I’ve asked V. to try on his trousers, long-sleeved shirts, jumpers… and guess what, everything he tried on is going to the Salvation Army; nothing fitted, not even his underwear (I should probably say no more – I am not supposed to embarrass anybody on my blog).

So first stop, Gap.  For those of you who do not know me, I would say I am quite a nice person, polite, smiling, but I DO NOT like it when the sales assistant ‘jumps’ on me the minute I start looking at a display, and it is what happened at Gap.  The story goes like that:

Me, to the Sales Assistant, while looking at jeans in the adult section: “Please, could you help me with the size for my son?

Sales Assistant: “How old is your son?”

Me: “13”

Sales Assistant: “So you should go to the kids department.”

Me: “My son is as tall as you, do you dress in the kids department?'”

Then the kids started ‘Mum!’-me with embarrassed laughs.  I have a friend who says “Do not mess with the old women”, she is right, DON’T, we might bite.

Anyway, after the shock of having to re-dress V. from head to toes (Yes, socks too), I bought J. her first pair of shoes in the adult section.  OK, Asian ladies tend to have smaller feet, but it is a size 36!  So in the end, after a couple of hours of rambling, we came back with shoes for J. and A. (not on the list), skinny jeans and T-shirt for A. (not on the list either), and for V. jeans, shirt, sweatshirt, boxers, socks and bag-pack (his actual one look ridiculously small on his back! and the girls at school have mentioned it).

I cannot believe how much those 3 have grown in the past months.  When we moved in Singapore, a year ago, I started measuring the children and recording their progress on the utility room wall.  See what the hot weather does to their bodies:

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This one was a little girl when we arrived, she is now wearing adult shoes.

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This one was a nice teen, she is now thinking about University (and she is still a nice young lady).

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What can I say on this one? Soon I will be the smallest one in the household. And it is not only height, but muscles, voice, facial hair…