Thursday, 30 September 2010

Taping Thursday? Sort of...

Thursday brings ritual humiliation - Himself is now one of the family. I'd jokingly tied his hood into a neat loop round his nose, when my mother took the packaging tape to him. He was a spectacularly good sport, giggling as he was firmly taped into his jumper...

It reminded me of the time we got my sister good - we initially zipped my brother into one of the sofa cushion cases, and my sister demanded that she be zipped into one also. And what can I say, we were more than happy to oblige. We zipper her in, tied the zip shut, and my mother and I lugged her up the stairs; bump, bump, bump. A fair heft, and we landed her with a "THUD" in the bottom of the bath. The shower made it far more fun though - she was squealing, soaking wet and slipping everywhere whilst we sat downstairs: "CLUNK! ... I'm okay...it was just the taps."

Friday I mostly spent recovering from His cold.

QOTD: "I'm off to use the little boy's room." - Him "I'd use the bathroom if I were you." - Mum "Yeah, my brother wouldn't be best pleased..." - Me

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Tuesday Travelling and Wednesday Woes...

The Tuesday Train Special was 20 lickies. Licky coats, licky books - particularly licky pale blue ones. I should explain: we were fortunate enough to be travelling with that unique type of children's TV presenter personalities to go alongside the very, very loud "20, 20 of them. 20." uttered by a person of special requirements. The constant repetition was enough to encourage the sanest of us to join in: "20 birthdays, 20 of them." for over half an hour.

The dragons were as good as gold however, sleeping through the first train journey, watching from the window on the second, and digging in their basket on the third. His Lordship was pleased when the special finally got off - we only had "two more jumps to go." This is what happens when you remove the eVe pilot from his natural environment...

That and the violent attack of germs that arrive most times His Lordship travels North. Tissue confettirising explosive sneezes, and permanent night time wheezes - neither of us slept much, so we took it easy for the first day.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Apologies for the delay in normal service.

Sorry, there's been a delay in Blogging.

Please enjoy this in the meantime whilst my artistic director gets his creative backside into gear and draws the picture I need for Tuesday's blog.


Monday, 27 September 2010

Bug Hunting!

After a leisurely dinner of Hunter's Chicken with His Lordship's family (thanks!), I trundled home whilst He stayed on to arrange some of the charities paperwork with his brother. This gave me time to pack the train-meals for Tuesday, sort the dry washing and go bug hunting for Terry. Well, he still needs to eat whilst we're away and he'll go nabbing the insects I put in, as well as the slices of plum and the waxmoth cocoons I'll hide in the corners for him to go find.

I did rather well having a poke in the brushpile by the fence, hoppers, worms and pillbugs galore (I chucked out the centipede, they're not good in tanks!) - but I really struck gold when I shifted my pots - I found a white-legged snake millipede! This pretty little devil, (approx the same size as Img: illustratedwildlife.com) will tunnel safely through the soil away from Terry's eyes and munch happily on the natural fungi in the substrates. Yay, millipede!

I didn't find one of these, but I still think it's very cute!

Three hours later and I've finally tackled the Etna of ironing I had to eradicate, and packed it straight in the case. His linen shirt is beautiful, but I HATE ironing it - instant crease magnet!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

BaconBaconBacon!

As I am officially on holiday, I thought I'd start it with something truly great for a Sunday Morning. (To offset the ironing I have to do to pack the suitcase...)

I love bacon. In fairness, nearly everyone loves bacon. No, really though, I think bacon is BRILLIANT. I like mine burnt to a desiccated, smoking crisp that shatters if you drop it. But the Americans really blow me away when it comes to eating bacon. They have EVERYTHING bacon.

They have bacon flavour Cola, bacon tattoos, bacon toys, bacon soap, bacon flavour envelopes, bacon gumballs, squeezy bacon, bacon lipbalm, Baconnaise...

This here is the ultimate breakfast-on-the-go treat. A caffeinated maple syrup and bacon lollypop. No word of a lie, they have some very strange stuff. They even have bacon flavoured formula for babies. Honestly!

Friday, 24 September 2010

"Hey, Bob, I need something to keep the door open!"

I know our house used to be a bit of a bodgit thanks to the previous owners, and still has bits to fix, but England's Worst DIYers really take the biscuit. I mean, I thought our wallpaper (which we're not guilty for!) was bad but this chap didn't have paste, so he started by using Bluetac. When that failed and promptly dumped paper over his head, he flipped and took a staple gun to it!

Mind you, it was the floor painting that made me laugh. All three men ran out of paints, so the wallpaper bodger painted bold stripes on the floor using the wall paint and the second chap paints most of the floor except for the space where the bed will be (whic I admit is pretty economical) until he gets creative, stepping in paint to leave deliberate footsteps across the floor and gets stuck at the window. The last bloke uses "decorative splattering" in a "Pollock-style art effect" More like "Pillock Style"!

Picture unrelated, but a perfect example of pure idiocy. It makes my brain hurt even as I laugh.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Over-Ordering

This week went a bit wonky, but it always does just before I'm supposed to go on holiday! To start with, we have a lovely new boss arrived. Bless him, he seems sweet - if a little ambitious: he wanted 20 savings accounts done in a day. Flat out, with a miracle, we can manage that in a fortnight; my colleague went bright pink because she accidentally laughed at him when he said it!

Then I ordered 5 bags of 500 nightsafe seals to give to our few customers whom use the facility. Nice and simple. Instead, I received 5 BOXES... of 500 bags... of 500 seals. What the heck am I supposed to do with 1,250,000 bits of yellow plastic?! (Not actually the yellow seal used. These are erasers and can be purchased HERE.)

I mean, you'd think someone would stop and consider "Well, that seems like an awful lot for just one place." wouldn't you? But apparently they don't, as a customer of mine proved. She came to work in her bistro to discover a lorry attempting to deliver not 6 boxes of juice, but 6 PALLETS. It wouldn't have been much of a problem, however the sheer quantity of drink just would not FIT in the building!

It reminded me of the great Tesco fiasco of just over a year ago (19th August): "Tesco normally order 2 cages of creamcakes for the weekend. Due to an administrative error, FIFTY NINE arrived in our local branch. Everything half price! Cream cakes for a PENNY! We've had eclairs, cheesecakes, slices, doughnuts, custard, choux pastries... It's going to be a good defrostables month."

Waitaminute - where DID that year go?

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Chock Full of Chocolate

I confess. I had to pick up two more salted caramels from Thorntons. They're starting to nudge against the Seville and the Apricot Parfaits in my favourite chocolates lists (heads up to any siblings stuck for Christmas present ideas - a couple of those go down a treat, and His Lordship likes them too). Yes, I have more than one favourite chocolates list - some you just can't categorise in the same classifications as others!

Anyway, there were two new chocolates out! A Peach Schnapps and a Cherry Truffle. Oooh, flavours I definitely like. Having said that though, it's somewhat rare I DON'T find a chocolate I like. Meh!

The Peach Schnapps wasn't great, if I'm entirely honest. Sorry guys, but it was a bit of a letdown. The golden coconut sealed to the milk chocolate shell with white chocolate was cute I guess, but gimmicky and bitty - neither of us were keen on the combination. Personally, I think a softly bitter lemon oil in white chocolate shell would have made the ideal accompaniment to that rather tasty, sweet and gently fiery schnapps centre. It was creamy, warm and smooth in texture but the coconut was bitty and chewy in comparison and didn't make for a good mouth feel. It's not a pretty chocolate either. I wish I'd have taken a picture before we ate them - I can't find a single one ANYWHERE, or even a mention... Have a free Terrypic instead. He's all chocolate colour and sweet.

The Cherry Truffle on the other hand... This feels weighty, it looks like an old school chocolate, classy and heavy and dark, having reused the Cherry Kirsch shell from the Christmas boxes. It smells dark too, potent and deep cocoa richness. The shell is black and powdery tasting high quality chocolate, fine and bittersweet with a pervading, dense flavour. It tempers the truffle and calms the exciting cherry flavour of the sauce inside which, quite frankly, was a genius move. Thick and sweet, this powerful liquid sauce makes the whole chocolate bind in flavour, the gritty truffle providing a sensational, contradictory mouth feel and lightens the tone of that potentially overpowering shell. Bravo boys, that's a truly smooth move. "It was a good chocolate." (Img: Chocablog.com)

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Sunny Saturday

Today has been one of those glorious days. Up early for an appointment, driving in the crisp, cool September morning air on silent roads into town. A brisk jog from the parking behind work to the doctors (apparently my lack of sense of smell and it's mutation isn't anything to worry about - it just happens) and from there, a leisurely wander into town as the sun warms the pavements.

By this time, town is packed. I mean, literally jamsammiched. Primark here is shocking to even the most hardened jumble sale veteran - but it's such good value, you can't really mind. One lady was laughing, because normally she doesn't stop to pick stuff up off the floor like the staff are supposed to, but by pure chance, she found the exact top in her size that she'd been looking for, for the past fifteen minutes. It's great, so long as you can find something that hasn't already been stood on.

I picked up a brown rollneck (too tight - I grabbed a 14 by mistake, oops!), two pairs of brown trousers that I paid for instead of waiting an hour at the changing rooms to try on (too short, as usual, and will be traded up a size onMonday) a pack of funktastic bright socks, some new bobbles and two funky new shirts for His Lordship. I also picked Him up some Flying Saucers and Pistachios from Julian Greaves, and a couple of boxes of bargain Thorntons to put aside for Christmas (as well as two of their newest Limited Edition chocolates - review tomorrow). By this time it was SCORCHING hot, so I trundled home on my laden bike just in time for a nice cool drink, lunch, the weather to turn cloudy and to upgrade my laptop sidebar. I got a cute flower clock this time! Bargain!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Super Service!

This morning, I was awoken by Himself unexpectedly trundling downstairs - our new fridge freezer arrived at 20 past 7! I'll give them credit though, that's some speedy delivery... As the delivery men unpacked our lovely new freezer, the driver noticed a mark on the side... and found a big one slap bang in the middle of the fridge door. Awww. He called it in for us, and after a little natter to ascertain what's happened, they gave us a good discount, which was jolly nice of them! A spot of TCut, a clean cloth and a bit of elbow grease later and you can barely tell.

Thanks again ApplianceDeals.co.uk!

When I got home this afternoon, I discovered Kyle's LED strip had fallen down, and she'd taken matters into her own hands! With her help and some extra stickies, we got it back up again.


Monday, 13 September 2010

Weird Week

It's started out all kinds of odd!

We found a couple of rather bizarre sweeties in a packet of Love Hearts. It turns out these are two of a collection of specially printed sweets from a nationwide competition to have a personal message stamped and put into general production. The winner chose: "Happy Harry, Think Pink, Joyful Jo, Granny P, Juicy Jessie, Heart Baby, Me Julie, Best Mum, I luv Alan, Kin of U Home and Mermaid Eloise" - Granny P being in memoriam for the winner's children, having just lost their beloved grandmother. Awww - that's really sweet.

Hah - I don't normally have such a good email day as this either... I have a voucher for two meals for £11, an email from someone wanting to discuss a job, one with a software problem (easy and fixed), one confirming my parcel pickup from the company I'm looking to work with and I got a response about gecko morphs - turns out that Terry's a harlequin flame morph. Lovely!

The Story of Chip in a Bottle: It starts with my bizarre younger brother, a KFC French Fry and a sense of curiosity beyond the norm, about a year ago. "It's like a normal chip but the water's a bit cloudy. it's disintegrated slightly - sort of fluffy round the edges." My mum says "I prefer opening the freezer and finding Lego frozen in bowls of water to bottles of yeck in his room." When questioned on this rather odd comment, my brother responded: "I was bored, so I was roleplaying digging in the ice and finding Lego." I can only guess it was a bit Indiana Jones...

Though I'm not going to have such a strange week as one unsuspecting thief. An entire collection of 2400 Ecstasy pills in all colours and shapes was stolen in Holland. The hobbyist decided the report the theft despite the illegal nature of the collection because he was worried about the possible consequences if anybody were to swallow one of the 40 poisoned pills among his collection from the last 20 years. The officials don't know which of the red and white ones are toxic...

'I've tried it before but didn't like it,' he was quoted saying. 'My passion for collecting comes from the varied collection of colors, shapes and logos that are printed on the pills.' Prosecutors and drug enforcement officials are still weighing whether to charge him with a crime. 'Given that the pills have disappeared, for the moment there's no evidence to support a possession charge.'

Shroom hadn't realised the UK were about as involved in 'Nam as a marshmallow is made of concrete. "But you do realize that marshmallows are made of concrete mix, they just add a bit of milk to soften it up..."

Try the blog in a seriously surreal way, at RotateMe.org!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Mask - Final Scene

I finally finished my mask today, after literally days of work, liberal coatings of glue (on both me AND the mask) and over FOUR THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED gems used. And doesn't it just look fabulous! All sparkly and glittery and sleek! Massive thanks goes out to the Crafty Dragons, my supplier, who threw in another two free packs of sticky gems - the extras were just enough to see me through, you were right, I would have run out!

My more-sensible-than-I mother suggests using sequins and just highlight with gems next time. Milley (also wiser than I) suggested directly gluing the feather stems in place between the mache layers next time, though my solution seems to have worked very well. Turns out PVA is also very handy for repairing snapped stems.

I think I've sorted the dress to go with it too - I can get it tailored in China for just £53; a black satin corset top with a black mesh layered skirt and a wide green diagonal silk sash, finished with diamantes and rhinestones. They'll go really well together too, as only the sash is sparkled up and so allowing the mask to really stand out.

I'm not getting it this month (as I've just had a new radiator fitted and paid for our brand new fridge freezer) but I've sketched it all up ready.

Talking of gems, I finally cracked it! The puzzle, not the crystals. My American friend sent us a package of all kinds of nice things, including Moqui stones, lollipops, acrylic brushes, and these. They sound like glass and feel like calcite. I'm pretty sure it's a form of beryl, known as Goshenite. The striated, rough crystal "coat" matches, the fact that it's a brittle silicate explains the glassy "ting", it's spar-shaped, fairly common in North America, which is where these were hounded.

Silly Tsam got in on the sparkly goodness too - the daft sod happily sat there and let me paint a pretty glittery stripe down his nose; he promptly went cross-eyed trying to look at it. Kyle thinks he looks very handsome!

Mind you, sparkly pretty things aren't always nice, as Mum discovered - I bought her a big glittery pink Diamond paperweight last year... and she dropped it on her foot. "I had a pretty diamond shaped bruise where the point got me!" Ouch! Are you sure you want another one to go with it?

Next thing to work on prettying up - my Neopets profile, in purple. See the work in progress/finished HERE. Let me know if it doesn't work and what's wrong with it, then I can set to fixing it.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Fabulous Fridge-Freezer!

My latest big house purchase is from www.appliancedeals.co.uk. You'll probably remember we bought a terrific tumble drier and a wonderful washing machine from them a few months back - we've now added a fabulous fridge freezer in matching Beko Silver to our brand new kitchen.

Once again I'm very pleased to say I'm delighted with the service - especially the free delivery, and that they're recycling our old one for just a tenner - can't complain with that! Oh, and the price: £282 for 160 litres done 50:50, A rated efficiency with a frost free system, an intelligent auto-defrosting facility and one year's free warranty.

I did get a bit cheeky and asked very nicely if they'd let me get away with a discount, but fair enough, the prices are very low already - but it was worth a try and the nice chappy (Jamie - thanks!) found it funny and entirely reasonable - don't ask, don't get!

Arriving on Tuesday, I look forwards to updating you all on my new fridge freezer.

Monday, 6 September 2010

The Mask - Act 3

The basic building and structure took about three day's of on and off work - but this is where it got really obsessive, repetitive, brain-melting and precise. The decoration topcoat begins.

Cjelefuret - owner of eBay's Crafty Little Dragon Company supplied me with hundreds of black, bright green and deep green 3mm stickybacked rhinestones. Three days more, after literally hours of work, it's really starting to look THE JAZZ now.

There's something deeply therapeutic about sitting there with tweezers, chronic cramp building up in your forefinger, carefully going "dib dib dib dib... pause... dibdibdib, dib dib" with stickback stones. The glue is a little jelly like, so you have to gently wriggle them into place with each "dib", but it still doesn't stop the little sods falling off though! However, they make make such a satisfying noise coming off the little plastic sheets: "pock pock pock"

Hours and hours slip by, just quietly sat going: "Pock and dib, pock and dib, pock and dib." And occasionally swearing when a bunch slide off before you've had chance to put the PVA coat over the top.


Over THREE THOUSAND hand-placed gems and still many more to go.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

The Mask - Act 2 Scene 2

Once the third layer of mache set along with the gloss layer of glue, I took it outside to give it a coat of metallic silver spray. You won't see much of the surface after it's completed, but still, I'm after a professional look and finish. I wasn't satisfied with the first layer as the print on the newspaper strips was still showing, so I gave it another spray down and that did the trick. It's now a lovely glittery brushed steel effect all over.

Milley15 the Milliner was able to provide me with these lovely feathers; Lincoln green speartips and iridescent green-black feathers. This bit was much more fiddly - getting the damned feathers lined up and shaped. In the end I used masking tape to hold them, as it's flexible enough to fix firmly to the back of the inner horns and to go 0-0-0-0 with two layers of tape around each feather stem to stop them coming loose and falling out. This created a satisfying frill around the edge, and helped stabilise the horns themselves.

I was a little concerned that the tape alone wouldn't hold it so, stripping some wire from the edges of my leftover aluminium sheets from TheMeshCompany (there was a 3 for 2 offer, but they completely puzzled themselves and sent me 4 for 2, which was nice!) and bound it tightly at the tip of the horn. From there, I wound it down to better hold the tape in place and to secure the feathers individually. It's made it much stronger, but more difficult for the next stage.

Friday, 3 September 2010

The Mask - Act I Scene I (to V)

I apologise it's been quiet for a few days - I've been a little bit busy!

I've been planning a masquerade mask for a couple of weeks now, sketching designs and basic 3D paperwork cutouts. Having ordered some lightweight, malleable and surprisingly sturdy aluminium fine gauge mesh, I started to construct the 3D design properly. In all, it took about two hours to accurately shape the contours and design - the mesh is extremely good for structural bases, however I found it had a tendency to fray badly on pointed sections. I attempted to cure this with a thick cotton trim (<-- see picture round eye) but it didn't work out as it too tangled easily and simply took far too long to do, even with a makeshift mattress needle. (Leftover wire is very useful!)

The papier mache solved this in the long run, having a reinforced folded trim round the edge was enough to hold it in place. For durability, and to retain that touch of flexibility I needed, I used a higher quantity of industrial PVA glue - and it worked a treat, complementing the natural malleability of the aluminium without allowing it to sag too much.

I used the traditional layering technique, rather than the mulched paste so beloved of today's crafter, because it gives a smoother and more even finish - you can also delicately add layers to give better depth and definition. I also needed to overexaggerate the features, as I've got quite a spectacular finish in mind.

Coming up shortly: The next layer - painting and decorating work begins.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Faerie Care II

Hurrah! My new article has been snapped up and released in the Neopian Times! Advanced Faerie Care (Faerie Care Continued...) is now available to a current circulation of nearly 200 million readers.

That's my third piece written and third accepted - so what's my next article to be about? All suggestions, jokes and ideas welcomed.