Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Tag Archives: Christmas

Festive guzzlings…

Christmas has been a very ‘moveable feast’. It started with a whistlestop visit ‘oop North’-ish to visit my family which was fun. They were all terribly organised and handed over Christmas cards. I hadn’t even written mine as I had lost my address book, I might have missed some folk off my list :-(   All the internet savvy amongst my friends, who send emails, are in my address book on the computer but the others were doomed to not receive one. I wonder if they noticed? I posted them at the last minute anyway so they probably didn’t arrive in time.

Another lovely cartoon from Dave Walker at cartoonchurch.com.

We had a lovely Christmas morning (once I had prised my sons out of bed) and I was well pleased with the gifts I received, my #2 son bought me a beautiful gold pendant which is a leaf skeleton cast in gold – quite beautiful. My other son bought me a copy of Wii Fit Plus amongst other things. I suspect he is trying to tell me something. Copies of Michael MacIntyres DVD were exchanged – I reckon every household in the UK must have at least 2 copies of his DVD right now… but it is SO funny. Here’s a taster.

I spent the rest of Christmas day with some dear friends in Somerset, who always take pity on my non-vegan son and I and invite us over for Christmas dinner. My vegan son usually heads off to Bristol (clutching the nut roast I have made for him) to spend the afternoon with his vegan buddies. We turkey guzzlers had a fab time and ate far too much as usual but hey! it’s Christmas! The next morning, I went to Cardiff to visit friends there for a couple of days. We had a wonderful time – ate far too much again, and on my return to Dorset, a couple of friends and my son’s girlfriend arrived and we have been eating and drinking and eating, ever since. Roll on the New Year and the annual diet/get fit regime.

We went to see the new Sherlock Holmes film yesterday (having tried unsuccessfully to get in to see ‘Avatar 3D’) and I loved it. The recreation of Victorian London is amazing and the lovely Robert Downey Jr is a gorgeous, hunky Sherlock Holmes, I highly recommend it.

Anyway, talking of hunky men, I have another very pleasant duty to perform. My #2 son, Ben and his friend Tom, are starting their own business. It’s called Mylo Design and they are setting up a design agency which will connect aspiring young designers who would otherwise find it hard to obtain work, with businesses who need branding and visual communications projects completed to a high standard – without paying high established design agency fees. They are approaching design students and newly qualified designers to join them

‘Becoming a Mylo designer will give you the best opportunity to immerse yourself in the creative industry, improving your portfolio and skills whilst getting paid for the work you put in. On top of this, the Mylo team will do its best to guide their designers towards getting the best out of themselves, providing all the relevant resources and support needed to become a notable force within design.’

There will also be an associated social network site where the young designers can ask advice, chat to each other and take part in forums discussing design issues. They also plan to have online tutorials and resources available.

It’s a brilliant idea and I’m sure that it will be a success. So if you know any young web or graphic designers who might be interested, let them know about Mylo Design. They also have a Facebook fan page for those of you who do FB, and already have 342 fans.

So tomorrow is the last day of 2009. The end if the ‘Noughties’ and a new decade begins. Even though it doesn’t seem five minutes since the party we held to celebrate the new millennium  and such a lot has happened in the interim – when it was good it was very, very good and when it was bad, it was horrid. So I hope 2010 is a good year for you all, I’m hoping for very good things (although I just pulled a wishbone with Ben and he got the good half) but still, I remain an optimist :-)

Have a great time tomorrow and Happy New Year!

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Bah humbug! Again.

Took the pooch to the beach yesterday and arrived just as the sky turned black and it started to rain. The upside was there was  a beautiful rainbow – well two actually and I managed to get some photographs.

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I came home looking like a drowned rat with the added bonus of a sandy wet dog to deal with, so poor Milo had to have another bath and is now back to his fluffy white self. Until he goes digging in the garden again – his new favourite thing.

You may have noticed that I have a Facebook page. (There is a Facebook widget in my sidebar) Lately, I have been getting really hacked off at the ads running down the side of my page. They are presumably targeted at me because of answers I have given in filling in my profile. Yesterday, I was attracted by a photo of Javier Bardem (who wouldn’t be?) but over the image it said “Could I be your husband?” Well, yes please, I thought but then I went on to read further and it was an ad for an internet dating service. In fact all the ads along my Facebook page are for dating services – eHarmony, Fun at 50 Dating (OK rub it in, why don’t you), Kissing gates, (for people who live in the countryside), Toyboy Warehouse (what!!!!), Dating Direct, Telegraph Dating and so on. The other ads were for organic wrinkle reducer and from someone offering me a double eye lift. Christmas is a bad enough time of year for us singletons – so DO NOT RUB IT IN! To cheer me up, here is a gratuitous Javier Bardem photo.

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I was invited to a New Years Eve dinner party the other week. My friend said ‘Could you possibly bring someone along? Otherwise we are 13 at the table’. I presume he meant it was inauspicious to see the New Year in with 13 people. Marvellous. So now I’m not just a gooseberry, I’m an unlucky gooseberry. It strikes me that I am only number 13 if you count me last. If you count me first, then I am number 1 and someone else is number 13 and they should bring another friend. And, if I knew a single man to bring, then I wouldn’t be single!! I know my friend was only joking (probably) but it isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility that he could invite a few more people so we wouldn’t be 13…. some single men would be nice…

Anyhow, I am rising serenely above it all.

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A bit of a whinge….

I’ve been busy. Yes, me. Holiday Queen. I designed a website for a friend and she mentioned this to her friend who happened to need a website and her brother, who happened to need a website and Lo! and Behold! I have been working. All a bit of a shock to the system really especially to poor Milo who can’t understand why I won’t play with him every minute of the day.

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The other down side is that it has dramatically curtailed my blog visits – sorry! But after a day of coding html and css and wrestling with the vagaries of Internet Explorer (Please, World – buy a Mac!) I haven’t had time to visit or post here either.

I have come up against a very thorny, perennial problem working for friends – and friends of friends – how much to charge for my services. I’m obviously not a professional but I would like to think that I do a good professional job – basic with few ‘bells and whistles’ and that is what a lot of people seem to want. ( Check out Duck House) However, given the time it takes to code a website ‘properly’, if I charged a reasonable amount an hour, the costs would be huge, so I charge a fairly low fixed fee. Compared to a ‘professional’ web designer, I am cheap as chips. So my dilemma is, do I pretend to be a ‘professional’ or admit I am a beginner. I would like to make some money doing this. My #2 son who is a newly graduated graphic designer is going to send me a ‘rate card’ which he has taken to using, having suffered the problem of agreeing a fixed fee and then ending up with the job taking much longer than anticipated. It’s a minefield!

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I am rubbish at negotiating. Or standing up for myself. I have been attempting to sell my books at an art sale in the town where I live. I don’t want to undervalue them yet I don’t want to over charge for them and I would like to sell some. I put them at a lowish price (bearing in mind I’m not in the West End of London) and haven’t sold one. Do I lower my prices even more and almost give them away? They are getting lots of positive comments so I think that it’s just not the right marketplace for them but it is disheartening. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on all this. Sorry this has been such a serious post but it has been bothering me.

So to cheer things up, here is a clip from ‘Outnumbered’ which is quite my favourite thing on TV. The second series is fabulous. Last week Karen, the little girl held a funeral for a mouse caught in a trap in their kitchen. It was priceless.

Her teddy bear stood in for the Pope and she said ‘ Dust to dust. For richer for poorer. In sickness and in health. May the force be with you. Because you’re worth it. Amen and out’.

She also asked why Gordon Ramsey swore so much. ‘Shouldn’t it be people like doctors and soldiers and artists that swear? Not cooks. All they are doing is making salad.’ I love her.

And finally, that time of year which I prefer to ignore is looming fast. It’s a minefield and now the boys are grown up and I’m single, I dread it. I don’t want the boys to feel they have to come home but of course, I hope they do! The first time they both had other plans, I went to stay with friends in Vancouver. I had a great time but it was so weird not being with my boys. Last year they both came home and as I had just broken up with my partner and was not in the best of moods, my ex joined us – which was weird but OK. At least he was a welcome distraction! This year, one son has said he is home, the other is negotiating where to spend Christmas, with his girlfriend and I am waiting to hear his plans. Thankfully, a dear friend has invited us to spend Christmas day with them. #2 son is thrilled as she does cook THE BEST Christmas dinner. Yes, even better than mine….

I’m determined to be organized this year. I’ve already ordered my Christmas tree from Crocus, I am going to buy my cards soon so I don’t end up with the horrible leftovers and if I write and post them early, I won’t be stuck in the horrendous queue in the Post Office for hours on end on the last day of posting and maybe the cards I send overseas might actually arrive before Christmas this year.

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Festive greetings!

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Because I know he won’t read my blog before Christmas Day, here is a sneak preview of the photograph album I made today as a gift for our Christmas visitor. It has really turned out well and I am using my favourite combinations of papers, combined with a beautiful aqua coloured bookcloth, so if you are thinking you have seen these papers before – well, you have!

I saw this cartoon earlier and it made me laugh so here it is for you to enjoy.

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Talking of supermarkets (notice the smooth segue) I have just returned from doing the big Christmas food shop. I was there just before 9am – and all the trolleys had gone and the queues for the checkouts stretched down the length of each aisle. Everyone was surprisingly stoic about it and we were all chatting away very nicely, unfortunately we ended up queuing along the chocolate/sweets/cake aisle so it was very tempting and we probably ended up with a few too many chocolate treats – particularly as one of our quartet is diabetic and one is vegan, so only Number 2 son and I can eat them…… :-)

We are having goose this year for the first time – we usually have turkey so that should be interesting. The biggest challenge has been cramming the food in the fridge – and I have a big fridge! My tree is up finally – of course one of the two sets of lights didn’t work and I couldn’t find the spare bulbs so I had to go and buy new ones and I bought the wrong ones, so I bought more and changed them and they still don’t work, so I am about to go through them checking every each individual bulb. Every year….same thing.

Happy Christmas!

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Christmas wishes…

My lovely blogging friend, Kiwipulse, sent me this video in her comment yesterday. I enjoyed it so much I thought it deserved a wider circulation, so I am posting it here. Kiwipulse’s blog is always full of amazing things, it must take so much work to find all the weird and wonderful things she writes about. In fact, she wrote my first ever review and featured a lot of my books when I was first starting out (you can read that here).

As for the video, well this is just what it is like at my house when I am making a book……..not! I love the way she just gets on with it and produces what looks like it is going to be a gorgeous book – what a shame we don’t get to see the finished book properly, that spine looks interesting.

Both my boys are home now and we are expecting a guest for a few days over Christmas, so I have had to switch into mummy-mode. Today, we are decorating our tree (yes, I know I’m late but I haven’t been in the mood ….) and I’m not sure I will be able to make many books for a while. I shall still write here when I can and I’m sure I won’t be able to resist getting back to the books but it will be sporadic at best! I am going to make an new photograph album for our guest as part of his Christmas present, mainly as we couldn’t think what else to buy him (we all know men are notoriously difficult to buy gifts for) so I shall try to post that when it is finished.
Here is a little Christmas greeting to you all from me. Have a very jolly Christmas and the very, very best of New Years.

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I must also draw your attention to this wonderful article By Mark Bittman in the New York Times, ‘101 Simple Appetizers in 20 minutes or less‘.

Yummy, quick, delicious, easy…. the man is a genius.