Thursday, 28 April 2011

sew... a needle pulling thread

My lovely sewing efforts

Kinkibox (sewing cafe) (photo courtesy of the Kinkibox Facebook page)

Frieda Hain (Fabric Shop) (photo courtesy of the Frieda Hain website)

Today was kind of exciting. I started a beginners sewing class with some friends. Despite having a degree in what essentially boils down to 'textiles' my abilities with a sewing machine are a little limited to say the least. In fact, I got a sewing machine from my parents for Christmas and still haven't taken it out the box. Worse than that, it wasn't even last Christmas, it was maybe the one before, or even the one before that.

The course takes place in a beautiful little sewing cafe (isn't that alone just a lovely idea?) in Friedrichshain, called Kinkibox. It's really pretty. Pretty enough for me to nab one of their photos just to show you.

We started off with just some straightforward sewing and then got stuck into the overlockers and then doing some different seams. My favourite and the thing I am Most Proud Of Today is my bias binding. Seriously, I know it may seem like nothing, but to me it is a work of art.

I had to leave early to get across the city to pick up the kids, so missed the news that we will be making bags and something for the kids and maybe even a dress. Eek. I am super excited. Especially as there are some really gorgeous material shops in Berlin. Look, I even stole another photo just to show you. This is Frieda Hain. It's not too far from the sewing class. I love this shop. And it's going to become my best friend. And I even intend getting my sewing machine out of the box and having a look at it.

Just don't analyse the state of my bookshelves, ok?

It's Stevie's birthday!
You could be forgiven for thinking he'd just turned 47.

But really he's much younger than that...

I made his 'work' birthday cake. [plain sponge, white chocolate buttercream icing & strawberries, in case you're wondering if that's just a tub of Lurpak spread across there].

His only stipulation was that it shouldn't be teddy-bear shaped.

Boo. To compensate I let the kids decorate his 'personal' birthday cake. Ah...that's much better!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

My Friendly Friday Interview

Of course while I was away, exciting things were happening for me over at the lovely Frau Dietz's. I got to be the subject and interviewee this week for her 'Friendly Friday'. It was lovely to take part, and I feel very lucky to be asked!

If you want to have a read and maybe find out a little bit more about me then head over and have a peek....Click here! Now!. And if you leave some lovely comments about how utterly fascinating I am, and how you wish you could be me then I'll let you have that Lindt Chocolate Bunny we have in the larder.

You better have done it, or I won't be your friend anymore...

4 go on a German (& slightly Czech) adventure.

Cheb in the Czech Republic

A teency piece of loveliness from Regensburg

Frankfurt in Legoland Deutschland. I quite fancy going to Frankfurt now!

Orla channelling her mothers taste in sunglasses as they ride the Augsburg rhinos

Bamburg, it's all beautiful

What a lovely holiday. It was remarkably drama free - if you don't count the fact that we hadn't read the mail from the Commerzbank that told us that we would neither be able to get money out of any cash machine or use our cards for in store transactions for any of the days we were away. 4 days? That's a bit much, isn't it? Anyway, thankfully we both had our British cards with us.

But that aside, the children were rather good, not nearly as horrid as they could be when faced with endless journeys in the car, and we saw some really beautiful places.

We'd been really keen to see Regensburg as we'd heard it was lovely, and I think we'd like to go back there and spend more time. We also spent a morning in Augsburg, before heading off to Bamburg which was really, really pretty.

But best of all we went to Legoland Deutschland which the kids utterly loved. It wasn't too far from Munich where we spent a day and a half, and we all had just loads of fun. This trip has made us really keen to see more of Germany...

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Wow! You look good for your age!

Or the one where Stevie discovers the secret to feeling good about his receding, greying hairline.

Stevie has a thing about his age. Or rather not so much about his age, as he happens to feel like a 20 year old who wouldn't mind meeting the boys for a few beers and then stopping off at a few hip joints to check out the other 20 year olds. But the thing is, while he feels like he is still in the prime of his youthful 20's, about once every few months he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror, and sees how the +15 years have ravaged his hairline. It's the only time you'll see him a little sad.

A few years ago he used to not be able to see the grey bits which tended to stay hidden until it was time for a haircut. And he definetly could not see his balding patch at the back at the top, and of course being the loyal, loving girlfriend I am, I certainly never pointed it out. In fact, I was the one who coloured it in with a grey felt tip while he slept, all the little greying hairs jumping ship from his head to his pillow as I worked.

Every so often he takes out his old work pass and compares the photo with the one on his new German one. And he sighs. For hair at the front of his head that has long gone, never to return. Does he secretly think of growing a fringe, I wonder? I know he has frightening thoughts first of all about bleaching it all (why? how could that possibly help matters?) and then calms down and considers Just For Men.

But today, he feels great. He is a man with more hair than he thinks he should have. He looks superb, fantastic, handsomely hirsute. The reason being that today he lied about his age. Someone on his football team asked him how old he was, and he said a lie just came out. He told them he was 46. And they said "Wow! That's amazing!". Of course they were referring to his athletic ability on the football pitch, but he's also surmising that he looks great for 46. And so he should, seeing as he's only 35.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Falling in [camera] love all over again

Just look at that zoom! I'm in love! I've been after a zoom lens for my camera for about a year now, and at last Stevie has got bored of me going on about it and finally surrendered the cash. Happy Birthday indeed to me! I am over the moon.

When I got home with it last night, I couldn't wait to try it out. I thought about going out a little walk and seeing what it could do, but what does it say that I stayed in and tried to photograph in the neighbours windows in the furthest away apartments across the courtyard? Perhaps I should just bite the bullet and tell Stevie what I really want for Christmas are some night vision binoculars.

I remember reading 'In Your Own Words' a few years ago, which are short tales of no more than 600 words by readers of the Telegraph. One of my favourites was of a couple who lived near a bridge over a huge drop favoured by people committing suicide. After getting over the initial horror of what was occurring in the vicinity of their home they ended up with a pair of binoculars each. Sounds a bit gruesome, but I can remember thinking I would probably do exactly the same.

Anyway, digression aside, I went off to Mitte today to do a little belated birthday shopping for my neice, Lola. Of course I took my camera and lovely new lens and took lots of photos of the Fernsehturm (which I love) and the Brandenburg Gate, and various beautiful buildings along Unter den Linden. They look almost black & white, but this morning the weather was just utterly grim and grey. Anyway, I was thoroughly excited by my new lens and just how 'zoomy' it is! I really must try harder though to learn how to use my camera properly, and why is it, now I have the lens I've been after for a whole year, that I now find myself suddenly having fresh desires for a lovely little macro lens?

(P.S. Please don't use my photos without asking)

Monday, 11 April 2011

It was my birthday & I'll nearly cry if I want to.

And at last we're back. We had a lovely time thank you, all 10 days of it, in lovely Scotland, and it was just utterly marvellous. Ryanair really helped me out with my 'how-will-I-manage-2-toddlers-3-items-of-hand-luggage-a-pushchair-a-buggy-board-and-a-big-bag-on-wheels' dilemma at the other end by losing the big bag on wheels.

It turned out they despite it being correctly labelled, they just couldn't be bothered putting it on the flight, and claimed they would put it on the next flight and courier it to the door. I now suspect that Ryanair may be making further savings for the customer by employing little snails for these tasks. "Take this bag to Ayr and I'll give you a leaf!". Our clothes and toiletries and pretty much everything else arrived on the Wednesday, a week after we arrived minus a day. By that point I had re-bought make-up, clothes and pyjamas for me and both the kids, a make-up bag, um...a Cath Kidston messenger bag and floral oven glove, a big box of Lego, assorted princess items from the Disney Store, 4 interiors magazines, an Orla Kiely reusable bag from Tesco, 8 DVD's, 2 easter eggs, 2 boxes of chicken stock cubes, 2 packets of biscuits, quite a few big bags of chocolate buttons, 2 sets of childrens cutlery, 2 pairs of sandals, and if the shop hadn't closed down, a new lens for my camera.

Then my mother-in-law arrived on the Friday and took the big bag away again back to her house in preparation for our return journey. I was so sad to see it disappear, in my spiral of grief I rushed out and bought a tub of chicken gravy granules with 20% extra free.

And some sticker books.

And the DVD of Atonement for only £4, because I never seem to have the time to read the book.

In actual fact we had a nice week. We continued to celebrate Orla's birthday, with more parties, presents, cake, and general excitement, and that was great fun. Hamish picked up some new phrases: "Shut it" which I'm hoping will fade into obscurity before too long, and "You're hurting me!!" for those moments when people dare to hold his hand to cross the road/stop him from killing himself or others. He also decided to choose this week to become super-clingy and when ever I wasn't within eyesight would use his brand new 'It-Sounds-Like-You're-Being-Murdered' (tm) scream. I know she would never admit it, but I am sure that even my mum was starting to come round to the idea that Hamish in nursery for a few hours a day is no bad thing.

Even his other Granny who basically never has a bad word to say of any of her grandchildren found herself struggling. Maybe it was when he battered her 8 times over with a roll of wrapping paper in the shoe shop, but I've never heard her describe any of the others as "hard work". He also found a nice new independent streak (clearly only clingy when it suited him) and learned all by himself how to climb the loft ladder, the ladder leaning against the garage, and insert an upturned broom into the centre hole of the garden table.

My dad thought he wouldn't be able to get it back out, and went forward to help him. He got a brrom handle across the face for his troubles. It was just that sort of week really. I dreaded the return journey. Believe me, flying from Berlin to Edinburgh on my own with the two of them was no picnic, but even I knew that it could be worse. And that worse came just in time for the return journey. Lack of sleep and the excitement of cousins do not make for an easy to handle Hamish.

My parents-in-law took us to Glasgow airport and stayed with us all the way to the departure area. By this point Hamish had already run away from Papa Frank twice. I'd (possibly stupidly) checked in the buggy and buggy board, so it was just me, all the hand luggage, and the kids. Everything went reasonably ok until the very last moment. We had sttod in the really long queue at the gate for ages, inwardly begging Easyjet to hurry up and make the announcement for "all passengers travelling with young children to come forward". When it finally came, up we went and I was starting to feel relief at the thought of just getting the kids on to the plane and into seats that I could strap them down in.

Unfortunately though, what with all my hand luggage and a firm grip on a squirming, screaming, Hamish, I couldn't get my passports and boarding passes out without easing my grip on the child of evil. The Easyjet woman didn't seem particularly interested in helping me out either, so I had to let go to give her the boarding passes, and vwoom!

He was off. And I mean off. I had started to open the back pages of the passports before I realised he really had made a run for it, but as my neck whipped round I saw he'd already managed to get a fair distance away and I dropped everything, told Orla to STAY! and ran like the clappers after him as he headed back into the airport with me screaming after him. I wrestled him back to the desk in that way, you know, where you are trying to carry them but they do that thing where they make their body limp and you can't carry them properly, and so I ended up looking like the frantic evil mother dragging her child along the filthy carpet by a single limb. I was so close to tears my voice was breaking as I asked the woman to just help me out and take the boarding passes.

I won't go into the actual journey. It was a joy. Let's just leave it at that.

Did I mention it was also my birthday. Yup. Viel Gluck zum Geburtstag to me.
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