Autumn days when the grass is jewelled…

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Is it just me who has that school song in my head at the moment? Christmas is always described as the “most magical time of the year”, but I think the real magic is how nature manages to get the leaves to turn so many beautiful colours.

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Foxy laydee

Fox Cushion

You may remember a few months ago I made a wolf cushion based on a fox I saw on the Guardian craft blog. Well I had a request for a friend of my mum’s who has a bit of a thing about foxes and my mum wanted to give her a similar cushion as a birthday present.

I didn’t have time to scout out any fabric to recycle so I ordered some dotty orange fabric from Fabric Rehab, and came up with this foxy creation.

Dilly’s Sunday Brunch

For new readers to this blog I should probably explain that this is part of a recurring post, detailing my regular family Sunday brunch and mulling over events/news/excitement from the week.

Another chaotic affair for brunch today. I offered to look after my friend’s 5 and 3 year old boys while she caught up on work. The brunch menu was a basic scrambled eggs, sausages and bacon, except he boys don’t like scrambled eggs so I made them (and Betty who jumped on the bandwagon) boiled eggs.  I don’t usually offer choices for eggs as I am not a short order cook, however guests, especially little ones, get special treatment. Sadly my usually fab egg timer has given up the ghost so they were rather well done, bu the visitors seemed happy enough.

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So, I really hate it when people say “oh I don’t read the papers/watch the news” it’s too depressing”. I instantly put a mental black mark against their name. Wilful ignorance in those who should know better is inexcusable.

There are some self help books that insist that you stop watching the news so it doesn’t drag you down on your road to positivity.

Yes, the news can be depressing, but without knowing what is going on in the world how can we try to make it better. Even when things happen in seemingly far flung places like Syria or Somalia, where most of us can’t possibly do anything that can make a difference, I feel that we owe it to the people of these countries to acknowledge the horrors of their lives.

However, this is the first week where I have really started to feel worn down by all that I read in the papers or on the web. The awful allegations against Jimmy Savile, made worse by the people excusing the behaviours with arguments like “it was different back then”. The anguish of the parents of 5 year old April Jones, who has yet to be found after nearly two weeks. And the entitled, classist nonsense coming from the Conservative conference, spelling more cuts for the poorest, and no let up in our battle with rising costs and falling wages. All these and more leave me with the feeling of helplessness and despair, and the beginnings of the attitude of sometimes it’s just best not to know these things.

So in the spirit of denial, after depressing you with that introduction, today’s brunch post is going to be a frivolous affair!

I’ll start with my new necklace. I had some belated birthday money given to me recently and decided to splash out on some handmade jewellery. ‘Splash out’ is a bit of an overstatement really as this was a bargain. It’s a wooden necklace spelling out the word “hello” on a gold plated chain. It’s by Rock Cakes at Etsy and cost just under £14. It came in a lovely little box which made it feel even more special. I shall be wearing it to Mumsnet Blogfest so even if no one remembers my name I can be “the woman with the ‘hello’ necklace”!

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We made a trip to Ikea yesterday. Since Iris is such a light sleeper and Betty has a persistent cough every winter we have had to accept that it will be a while before they can share a room. This also means accepting that we can no longer call the spare room the spare room or the office. After 2 years it has now been officially designated Iris’s room. So DH has taken down his big desk and we have moved some toys into her room, but we wanted to create a small home office space downstairs and managed to find some suitable furniture in Ikea. I might post more on that later but you know how when you go to Ikea you inevitably come out with a load of crap you don’t really need, chopping board? Check. Tea lights? Check. Weird shaped soft toy to keep the kids happy? Check. Well, one of my pointless purchases was this:

Heart shaped cactus from Ikea
I heart my cactus

Isn’t it lovely? I just thought it was something nice to brighten my day.

Finally, back to the topic of Iris’s room. In an effort to make it seem a bit more like her room rather than somewhere we squeezed her in between chucking her out of our room and offloading her onto her sister, we bought some wall stickers to brighten the place up. There are loads online but these butterfly stickers from Dotty Frog were the nicest I found. They are theoretically reusable. We’ll see how well that works out when Iris tries to peel them off. But for now she thinks they are ‘bootiful’.

Dotty Frog Butterfly wall stickers

There now, it is much easier to digest the depressing news when you have a heart cactus and a very cute two year old to look at. We should still watch the news and yell at politicians and cry at people’s pain. That is what makes us human and humane. But it’s good to balance it out with a bit of frivolity and a novelty succulent, because we are lucky we can.

Reader, I wrote to the zoo to send me The Invisible Man in the Rye

For two weeks of the year the Literati grace the streets of my local town. In their patched tweed jackets and pashminas they hob nob in the posh restaurants and hotel bars that simple local folk like me can’t afford to go in.

Except every now and then my simple posse of yarn bombers crashes one of these posh establishments to plan or finish our latest project. We have made the Montpellier Chapter our yarn bombing headquarters, partly for it’s proximity to our recent targets, and partly because during whatever generic international football that was on in the summer, the Chapter was the only bar which didn’t have a TV and hoards of disappointed fans. It certainly isn’t because they charge £3 for a pot of tea. Though the homemade shortbread biscuit does help a little.

On Tuesday night we once again decamped there with our voluminous bags of yarn. To their credit the waiters and waitresses have never commented on our escapades, though they can’t hide the bemused looks. As per usual we were massively disorganised and all still furiously finishing our yarn bomb creations.

This time there was a literary theme, all the yarn bombs represented books. We attached to them all a quote from the book and a link to our Facebook page.

There were loads of them, and today DH and I finally made it into town to get proper daylight photos (most of my yarn bombing photos are taken in the dark!). Here are a selection for you:

Catcher in the rye yarn bomb
Catcher in the Rye by Stitch This (http://stitch-this.net/) – she mounted hers on felt to look like the Penguin Classic books and they looked awesome!
Dear Zoo yarn bomb
I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet…
Literary yarn bom
A Christmas Carol, The Invisible Man and 1984 (with a little room 101 door!)
Ballet Shoes Yarn Bomb
My favourite of the yarn bombs, I’ll let you guess the book
The Happiness Project yarn bomb
The Happiness Project – maybe not a literary classic but a book I’d definitely recommend
Harry Potter Yarn Bomb
Georgia did all the Hogwarts house scarves and put each one on a bike rack – so cute!
Pippi Longstocking yarn bomb
“But Nightshirts aren’t dangerous,” Pippi assured her. “They don’t bite anybody except in self defense.”

There were more including a cross for the Bible, a very random triffid, a Secret Garden and a wedding ring for Jane Eyre (Reader, I married him.)

I hope everyone at the festival enjoys our little creations, soggy as they are likely to be by now. Even if you can’t get along to the Literature Festival, remember this:

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”
Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid

A woman’s right to choose

I am riled beyond belief at the comments from this government’s newly appointed Health Secretary. Jeremy Hunt, who’s name will always be rhyming slang for what I really think of him, released a statement saying he backs the reduction in legal abortion limits to 12 weeks. This is hot on the heels of Nadine Dorries’s quest to reduce the limit to 20 weeks. One can’t help but think Hunt’s interjection is a ploy to make Dorries seem reasonable. Well, Joseph Mengale might make Dorries seem reasonable, but other than that I am hard pressed to view either proposition as tenable.

Women will never have true equality while privileged males (and idiotic females) have control over our bodies and what we do with them. And if you are wondering why this might affect you as you are a sensible woman with complete control over her contraception, are any methods 100% effective? What if you discover at 20 weeks into a planned pregnancy your foetus has a life limiting disability, or may not survive the pregnancy anyway. Wouldn’t you want choices? Even if you would never choose a termination don’t you want other women, especially those who may be in abusive relationships or poverty, to have choices over what happens to their body. Yes inside a pregnant women is a human life, but that life is contingent on the women as a life source, and unless you consider a woman to be simply an incubator, that woman has to have some control over her body, especially when there may be so many other parts of her life she has no control over.

The reality is that 9/10 abortions are performed before 13 weeks, so the question is, who exactly is Hunt targeting? Women do not go into late abortion lightly. Often they are fleeing abusive relationships. And many abortions beyond 12 weeks are because of the long wait and hoops women have to jump through to get a termination.

Lowering the legal limits for abortion will not reduce the number of abortions. It will reduce the number of legal and safe abortions. Someone desperate enough to terminate a baby in the middle of pregnancy is likely to go to any lengths to do so. Reducing the legal limit for abortion will not result in more happy smiley chubby babies; it will increase the number of desperately unhappy women and children brought into this world in devastating circumstances. With a government reducing welfare and community support for families and people with disabilities this can only be a path to unhappiness for many.

I’m not an expert on this, but the Royal College for Obstetricians and Gynaecologists are so check out their website for more information.

I’m going to Mumsnet Blogfest

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I’ve waxed lyrical on here several times about Mumsnet. My love for Mumsnet knows no bounds, and in fact it is really down to Mumsnet that I am even blogging. Just over a year ago they started up their blog network. It was then that I realised that everyone was in fact blogging, and I should really jump on the band wagon. Until then I thought blogging was just narcissistic and attention seeking. Then I realised that I am in fact an attention-seeking narcissist an I might as well embrace it.

Well, in about a month, MN is holding BlogFest, their very own blog conference, with all kinds of great speakers, including Caitlin Moran, Fi Glover and Zoe Williams. There will be various discussions and clinics related to blogging, and lots of drinking networking opportunities.

You don’t have to be a MN blogger to go, you don’t even have to be a blogger! Tickets are £75, and you get to spend all day in the heady heights of the swanky Millbank Tower.

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I for one can’t wait. Usually I’d be pretty nervous, but actually I have a group of people I have grown to know through my social networking and we are all keen to meet each other. The biggest dilemma will be what to wear. I also am lucky that my real life friend Stitch This will also be going, and is hosting a live blogalong, so even if you can’t make it you can follow the goings on and gossip.

Other visitors to BlogFest are posting detailed get-to-know posts in advance, with pictures and everything. Well, I am rather camera shy so instead I will give you my nearest likeness:

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Those of you who know me will agree the likeness is in my dreams uncanny.

If you are reading this in anticipation of meeting me, but haven’t read my blog (er, why the hell not?) then I suppose you could sum my blog up as a little bit crafty, strongly feminist, occasionally ranty, self-improving, psychological, with a little bit of parenting and humour thrown in. And if you can’t recognise me by the above photo, then I’ll probably be the one with the crochet. No, not Stitch This, the other one with the crochet.

In real life, without my keyboard to slow me down and the ability to edit before I speak, you should know I talk a lot. A lot a lot. But don’t let me fool you, mostly it’s a sign of nerves rather than confidence, and a tendency to think out loud, as is common to extroverts. It’s worse when I drink which is why I will at least wait until midday try and abstain.

Suffice to say I am super excited, and can’t wait to meet people such as:
Madam Guillotine
Lynn from Salt and Caramel
and http://lulastic.wordpress.com/ (and loads more but can’t remember who is and isn’t going!)
And of course the lovely peeps at Mumsnet Towers

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(No, not him, God, I hope he won’t be there!).