Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Crocheted Rudolf Match Holder

I'm constantly amazed at the things my children bring home from the handicrafts lessons at school. Part of the curriculum involves learning to knit and crochet - for the boys and the girls alike. My 9 year old son recently came home with this:
The "body" is a very long crocheted chain wound around a glass and glued in place.
A felt underside has been stuck on with the reindeer's feet an integral part!
The antlers, ears and face are cut out of felt and stuck/sewn together using blanket stitch and a bit of stuffing for the face.
There's a special strip at the back to strike the matches on...
...and my favourite bit - the glittery red nose. Mind you, I did raise an eyebrow a bit at the thought of twenty two 9 year olds bringing their Rudolfs full of matches home in their school bags....what a temptation that might have been for any potential arsonists in the class....

Tomorrow is the 12.12.12 - a very special date for us as it is our daughter's birthday and she will be.....12!!! We will be doing something special to celebrate - more about that later.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Picture this!

I work at a small English school in the Old Town of Winterthur. On the way to work I walk past a rather nice shop which sells posters, cards, picture frames and has a changing display of prints and pictures in the window. I've always thought that one day I would walk past this window and see THE picture, the one I`ve been looking for for about 2 years, to go on the red wall between our kitchen and dining area. Well, Saturday was that day. On a very rare trip to Winterthur with husband and children, we walked past the shop and I spotted it. The picture. Exactly the right size and shape, the right colours, in fact everything ticking all boxes. My husband thought it was OK too. Now, I should have rushed into the shop on the spot and bought the picture there and then, but not being an impulse buyer and having 2 children chomping at the bit to go and buy ingredients to bake biscuits (far more important than a silly old picture) I decided to think it over. On Monday morning I walked past the shop again on my way to work, but, as they don't open until 12 midday, I could only admire the picture again and the next couple of days I was too busy to go into town. Imagine my disappointment when, on my way to work on Wednesday evening, I walked past the shop after closing time to see a different picture hanging in place of "my" picture. That was it then. Sold. Too late. Should have bought it sooner. My own fault. Later that evening when my husband asked me how the evening had gone, I just told him "the picture's gone" :( Not one to give up too quickly I enquired at the shop next day and they said they could try to order the picture for me, but they couldn't promise to get it and certainly not this side of Christmas. Hmm. Back home I tried to track it down on the Internet, but it was just not available anywhere and I found out that there are only 95 of them and when they have been sold, the printing plates for this particular picture will be destroyed. Great! I even 'phoned my husband at work (very rare thing - me 'phoning I mean, not him working!) and asked him if I should order the picture, but he didn't seem particularly interested - probably interrupted him in an important strategic meeting....oooops! Anyway, I came home from tennis later that night to find the children very giggly, the husband with a Cheshire cat grin on his face and this propped up against the red wall:

Yes, you've guessed it. The reason the picture wasn't in the shop any more was that my husband had bought it and somehow managed to transport it home on the bus and hide it in the cellar. It was supposed to be my Christmas present but he thought he should put me out of my "misery" and give it to me now. Just need to hang it properly now...By the way, the picture is by Astrid Heinecke and is called "Alma".

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Jewellery gifts

It's been so long since I posted on this blog, I feel like I need to dust off the cobwebs first. That done, it feels good to write stuff again! Over the last few weeks I have been very fortunate to have been given 3 pieces of jewellery. Two of which are family heirlooms, but more of that another time. A few weeks ago I spent a very nice day with my friend Monique, one of the most creative people I know. She has even been able to make her passion and talent for creating into her job. Anyway, she very kindly gave me this heart pendant, which she made out of special ceramic jewellery clay I can't even begin to imagine how you can get the clay to form roses - but I love it and have worn it a few times already. So thanks again Monique and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Back soon!

Thursday, 7 June 2012


A couple of weeks ago (ok, more like 3 now..) we had a short break for Ascension Day. For an explanation of what Ascension day is, see Jennifer's blog. Anyway, we spontaneously decided to go to Legoland in Germany, about a 2 hour drive away and meet up there with a family we knew from our time in Basel. Our friends had decided to camp at the Legoland Holiday Village, but, as we don't own a tent, that wasn't an option for us (my excuse anyway ;)). As we had left it pretty late to book, all (proper!) accomodation in the Holiday Village was full and as an alternative the Legoland website suggested a package for 342 Euros, staying at a hotel "in the area" and including 2 days' entrance to the park. Thinking this was kind of pricey, but maybe that's just what it cost, I looked a bit closer at the package. The hotel was over 40km from Legoland in a city and had mixed reviews from previous guests. Also we were not sure we really wanted 2 days at Legoland, as we didn't know if there would be enough to do there. So in the end I googled "hotels near Legoland" and made a reservation by 'phone for a 4-bedded room at this hotel in a small village 20km away for 119 Euros including breakfast. Well, what can I say? We had a fabulous time.

Entrance to Legoland cost us 76 Euros (2 x adults), as I had some vouchers from yoghurt pots (yes, really!) which got the children in free - a saving of 68 Euros. We found our friends and found there was loads to do - from rollercoasters and water rides to minature cities, airports and harbours all made from Lego to a huge Lego shop. Our children are aged 8 and 11 and enjoyed it so much that we decided to go back the next day. Fortunately, our eagle-eyed friends had spotted a poster that said if you bought your tickets for the next day before leaving today, they would only cost 10 Euros per person. So that's what we did.

This is what our DIY package cost:
Legoland entrance 1st day = 76 Euros
Legoland entrance 2nd day =40 Euros
Hotel with breakfast =         119 Euros
Total================235 Euros compared with 342 Euros via the Legoland website

Ok, so you have to take into consideration the saving we made with the yoghurt pot vouchers, but it just goes to show that it's worth taking a closer look at these packages and the alternatives available.

Anyway, it's a great place and we hope to go back there in the not-too-distant future....

Friday, 13 April 2012

Bag lady

My friend Cathy is a bag lady. I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course. It's just that she has an eye for them, whereas I am useless with bags. Cathy has many bags and they are fun and bright, whereas I go for the safe (and dull) practical black kind. I also only have one bag at a time and I use it until it falls to pieces and I have to buy another, er black, bag. My current bag began disintegrating about 6 months ago and I have been putting off buying another as I am such a bag wimp. A couple of weeks ago I spent a morning in Winterthur and trailed round several shops, to no avail - too bright, too boring, too expensive, not big enough, too big etc etc. Imagine my surprise, delight, relief when I came home to find Cathy's birthday present waiting for me - yes, you've guessed it,
It's from Carpisa and it's perfect! New bag, new bag charm.....
I'd love to be able to say I made this myself but....I went to the bead shop to choose some beads, but found this all ready made instead.... Have a great weekend!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Night Out

Fancy a night out but have no time/energy/babysitter at the moment? Then hop over to Jennifer's blog and read about her night out. I felt as if I'd been there after I'd read it.
Have a good weekend!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Kim's scarf

Motivated by my post on the Knitted Ruffle Scarf, my good friend Kim from Basel battled against the odds, or rather several wool shops who were out of stock of this particular yarn, couldn't even get it from their suppliers and had a waiting list for it as long as your knitting needles. Not a woman to be deterred, Kim was given a tip by a local market trader, procured the yarn and whipped this up more or less in the course of an evening:
Kim's scarf
I think it's fabulous and the colours are lovely. Well done Kim!
Have a great weekend!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Recycled tin can

What do you do with a bored daughter, off school with a bit of a cold? Yep, make something. One (washed and dried!) tin can, some denim and some wool and voilà (don't know why I thought I needed a French word there...):
recycled tin can crafts
I'd had this idea in my mind for a while as a solution to this:
This is much more pleasing:
It was really quick and easy and best of all used things we already had. First of all I measured the circumference of the tin, allowing for a bit of an overlap and also the height of the tin from just under the top "lip" to just above the bottom "lip". I transferred these measurements onto the back of my denim and cut out with pinking shears, allowing 1cm extra on one of the short sides
Then turned back that extra 1cm, top stitched it and added the button using a bit of the wool.
I stuck the denim to the tin using everyday white glue, then to finish I glued and wound the wool round the top and bottom of the tin, so hiding the edges of the denim.
recycled tin can
After recycling my tin, I found loads of inspiration and instructions (duhh-why do I do things the wrong way round?) about recycling tin cans. You can find some ideas here. Have a great weekend!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Knitted Ruffle Scarf

When my 11-year old daughter told me they were knitting scarves at school, I expected her to bring home the standard long oblong of knitting, odd stich dropped etc. I didn't expect her to bring home this:

knitted ruffle scarf

Isn't it fabulous? And I was lucky enough to receive this as my Christmas present this year. You knit with a "ribbon" or "mesh" yarn, only 8-10 stiches, big needles, garter stitch all the way. There's a simple tutorial for this kind of yarn here:

Although I am not a knitter, I decided I would like to try my hand at this as it seemed fairly easy and so we made a couple more scarves for Christmas presents - they are really quick to make, literally a few nights whilst watching TV (photos are a bit naf, sorry, but you get the idea!!)


This yarn had integrated pompoms (!) and was called "Rocio" from Katia.

There's a tutorial for this yarn here:

And this black, grey and white one was made using a yarn called "Rete" from Lana Grossa.

There are lots of different ribbon or mesh yarns around, but you'll find instructions on the yarn label or, of course, from your local wool shop! Get those needles out!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Christmas Cards

I love Christmas cards - getting them, displaying them and then RECYCLING them - more of that in a mo'. There was a time when I used to make most of my Christmas cards - unfortunately a lack of motivation and inspiration has prevailed of late. Until....two of my Swiss neighbours sent beautiful hand-made cards and I was encouraged to reciprocate. I didn't have any special supplies, but this is what I came up with:
And now to the recycling bit - I always think Christmas cards are too nice just to throw away, so I make labels out of them. Very quick and very easy. Start by cutting out the main pictures from the front of the cards like this:
Then grab a few supplies like this:
Add scissors and some glue and in about 60 seconds you can come up with this:
Alternatively grab a pair of fancy scissors and cut round the main picture like this (10 seconds!):
Back soon!

Monday, 9 January 2012

A Truly Inspirational Christmas Wreath

Happy New Year! 2011 whizzed by for me with more or less no blogging. Shame on me, but in my defense, teaching and translations plus all the usual family stuff meant that I did nothing on the creative front, so nothing to show on the blog. By the end of November I still had an Easter wreath on the front door, for goodness sake, much to the amusement of various visitors who pointed it out as if I didn't know. Grrr! Yes, I felt I'd totally lost it on the creative front, no inspiration, no motivation and certainly no confidence to make anything. In an attempt to at least put the door thing right I decided to buy a Christmas door wreath this year (shock, horror). I went to Meier's Bluemehüsli, just down the road in Wiesendangen - from the outside it looks like a farm shop, but is full of floral and non-floral decorations for the home and garden. The weird thing is, there is no staff, other than those who are arranging new stock. So you can wander round at leisure and, when you have chosen your item, you put your money in a very sophisticated machine, which also gives change and a receipt if needed. Don't things get stolen, I hear you ask? Maybe, but this is Switzerland, after all....Anyway, this is what I found.
The star background is made of bits of old "repurposed" wood probably glued together and then sprayed with white glittery paint. I just love the colours and all the details and the best bit is - I can use it again next year. I did manage to end 2011 with a couple of creations - more about those later this week. It's good to be back!


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