Sunday, 21 December 2008

Getting Christmassy... and some long overdue "thank you"s

Many weeks ago, I was lucky enough to meet some lovely bloggers in London, when they let me gatecrash their lunch in Covent Garden.

I was also lucky enough to receive all sorts of fabtastic gifties from said bloggers, which are now all helping to make things festive chez chicken.

This beautiful little quilt from Lesley has pride of place amid my living room decorations:

These gorgeous bracelets from Emma and Val are making my wrists all sparkly and party-like:

And this little gem from Lucy is wonderfully seasonal... although I can't bring myself to use it for its intended purpose... it's just too pretty!

In other Christmas news, we have adorned Spike the Vicious Houseplant with his annual garb of glittery baubles:

And this afternoon we have made one hundred Christmas biscuits (this picture is only about half of the total):

We still have to add icing, but after several hours in the kitchen already, my enthusiasm has started to wane... bulk-catering obviously isn't my calling...

However, my festive spirit is still strong as an ox, so it just remains for me to say:

Happy Christmas to anyone who has stopped by to read this - may you have a lovely time over Christmas, and wishing you all happiness for 2009.


Tuesday, 16 December 2008

You might expect...

... that after a month of blog silence, I'd return with something momentous and wonderful.

And you'd be right! I'm here to urge you to click on a link that will enable you to watch something very wonderful indeed.

Oh, and you might want to put the kettle on :o)


(Sorry this momentous breaking-of-blog-silence isn't a bit longer, or more pretty: I have urgent Christmas knitting deadlines that I must attend to...)

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Can't blog... far too busy behaving like a headless chicken...

Sorry bloggers - having tantalised you with a promise of post-shower journal pics I'm going to have to postpone that treat because I'm far too busy this evening, with two Very Important Things.

Very Important Thing number one is that I am getting in a flap because I don't know what to wear tomorrow for my graduation ceremony - any ideas on what goes well with a flat hat??

Gratuitous graduation-themed picture

Also, if I wear my pointy pointy shoes, how much d'you think they'd increase my chances of falling flat on my face as I climb onto the stage? And is it worth the risk to wear them anyway (bearing in mind that they are very very nice pointy pointy shoes)?

Gratuitous picture of pointy-pointy shoes (kindly modeled by HP8: because I couldn't bring myself to take a picture of just the shoes...)

Very Important Thing number two is a very pressing knitting-deadline-related issue. Which would be OK in itself, but every time I knit lately I keep getting the Blazing Dragons theme in my head. If you are feeling brave then you can find out why by watching the video below; but I warn you that it is very, very irritating (so if you do watch it, you will understand why I wish I could get it out of my head!!)

Right, off to go and hunt through my wardobe now for something appropriate to wear to meet a Vice Chancellor...


"... that doesn't rhyme... that's OK... we're gonna sing it anyway!..." *sobs quietly to self as song refuses to leave head*

Sunday, 9 November 2008


Hello, my friends! It's been such a while. It wasn't meant to be, but first I went away for a few days, and then I was ill, and then I had to go away again (and I was still ill), and then I came home and thought I was better but very soon had a relapse and was ill some more... and to cut a long story short, now it is now, and I have emerged from my sick bed feeling much better, thanks, if still a bit worn around the edges.

But anyway: a belated "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" to everyone who left lovely comments on my last post. In answer to various questions: I have no idea when the big day will be yet, because the NBM and I have been a little bit rubbish on the actual planning side of things... so far we've just been enjoying having sparkly sparkly rings, but we will be getting down to the nitty gritty very soon. Or as soon as I can persuade the NBM to start thinking about it. However, I love the idea of having an online celebration complete with virtual confetti, so I will do my best to sort out something of that ilk :o)

And to Charlie: type of cake is obviously a very important decision, and one which I wouldn't like to take lightly - certainly not without a great deal of meticulous research and copius sampling of all possible options ;o)

In other news, being ill has given me ample time to wreck my journal, so I have lots of updates for you. They are not all photographed yet, but I do have a couple that are ready. Firstly, I realised I forgot to show you the instructions page before:

One of the first tasks I got down to was this:

However, I decided to do each page number differently, so it actually took me a veeery long time to get around to finishing it. Which meant that I was only about halfway through page numbering when I took the plunge and did the task that scared me the most:

It was stressful. Very stressful. But I managed to see it through*:

So, tune in next time for pictures of my (very crinkly and splodgy) post-shower journal...

*Please don't look too closely at the mould growing around our bath, OK? In my defence, may I just point out that I have scrubbed it and scoured it and squirted cleaning things at it, but nothing doing. It seems to be ingrained in the sealant. If you have any suggestions for removing it, please do let me know...

Monday, 20 October 2008

Reasons to be cheerful...

... in three parts*.

Part 1...

Back by popular demand! Hurrah!

Part 2...

My new gloves:

So soft and cosy!

So pretty!

And yes, I know I shouldn't really have bought them because

a) I could have made something veeeery similar myself, and
b) they are mass-produced and from a big(ish) chain

BUT, in my defence, if I'd tried to make them myself I probably wouldn't have got round to finishing them until next spring, by which time they'd have been unecessary anyway. And, they're just sooooo soft and luvverly.... so can I be let off, please?

And finally......

Part 3...

As of last weekend, my left hand is now considerably sparklier than it used to be:

Sparkly sparkly

*Part 3 is my favourite :o)

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Wreck this journal - it begins

Remember I said that in a bid for creativity, I was going to try and be a bit more destructive, through the medium of a copy of Wreck this journal? Well, my journal finally arrived at the weekend, and I was keen to get stuck in and complete some of the tasks.

First, I followed an instruction that I found VERY difficult:

However, it was quite cathartic and I felt all liberated afterwards :o) I cracked it once....

and then twice....

and then a whole lot of other times just for good measure!

Next, I completed a slightly easier one:

And I've done a couple of others too, but I'll have to save those for next time as the NBM is getting grumpy and wants me to leave the computer alone now.

We're going away for the weekend, but I will be taking my journal with me, and I will try to do a journal-wrecking update when we get back. Bye for now....

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Wednesday giggles

OK, so I know this is too late for ITLAP Day, but...

Well, it made me laugh, anyway :o) It is from the ever-wonderful Savage Chickens site.

And, because I'm in a cartoony moody (you'll probably need to click on this one to make it big enough to read):

It is by Roz Chast, and the NBM found it here. I think that both of my Grandmas could probably relate to it on a very personal level :o)

In Mojo news: thank you all for your kind words of support at this difficult time. Sadly, it's still AWOL. I had a good look for it at the weekend, but it wasn't at bikefest in Cheddar, where our crazy friend was spending 10 hours cycling up a gert big hill and then zooming back down again, far too fast (the energentic fool), and neither was it in Morrisons at Cribbs Causeway, or in the enormously long queue at the bank (it was a *very* exciting weekend, as I'm sure you can tell). I've got a few tip-offs though, so I'm hoping to track it down soon.

Must go now, but leaving you with a thought-for-the-day, courtesy of my Dad, who saw it on a sign outside a cafe:

"The future is uncertain. Eat dessert first!"

Wise words, indeed :o)

Friday, 26 September 2008

Has anyone seen my crafty mojo??

Because I seem to have lost it somewhere :o(

I'm fairly sure I had it a while ago... I think I remember that I used to quite like knitting things (mainly little monkeys and hairy-face-furniture, if memory serves...?). And, according to my bloggy archives, it appears that I may also have tried my hand at other crafty things: I've found evidence of rudimentary jewellery-making, sock origami, bra-embroidery, and pretending to be a card maker.

But, I've searched high and low and the mojo is definitely now in hiding. Please let me know if you find it, and tell it to come home. I'll even consider re-negotiating its contract and offering it free biscuits.

In the meantime, however, I have been inspired to order a copy of this after looking at some amazing and beautiful pictures here, and when it arrives I will attempt to be creative with it (in a destructive kind of way, obviously!) I'll also have a whirl at putting together some little wooly hats and see if they might tempt my mojo back home.

And just cos it looks a bit wordy without, here is a gratuitous picture of a monkey in an octohat:

Off to go and knit something similar but a bit less tentacley...

PS. Was about to sign off when I remembered I really wanted to link to this. Please go and watch it. I'll wait.


Oooh, you're back. Did you watch the clip? I love this remix - it's so funny - even better than the original Phil Collins version :o)

OK, awkward rambling PS over now...


(***edited to add: if the video won't load, there's another version here, although it's slightly lower quality***)

Friday, 19 September 2008

Don't forget!

Today be a very special day, folks! Yarrr :o)

Yarr, it be International Talk Like a Pirate Day! The most piratey day o' the year! Avast! Do enjoy it, mateys!

An' for those o' ye that be interested in yarrr-n (*giggle*), why not pick up yer sticks, an' go Knit like a Pirate? Hooray! Knit on, me hearties :o)

An' shiver me timbers. Or something.*

PS. If ye be wanting t'promote ITLAP day in "workplaces with no sense of pirattitude" (in the words of the official ITLAP website), there be a subtle an' brilliant poster, here. It tickled me more than a jellyfish's tenticles. Yarr.

*It be harder than it looks to talk like a pirate. I did me best.

Monday, 15 September 2008

I am very proud of my knees

Now, please don't think I have finally lost the plot. The title of this post is perfectly sane. I am proud of my knees because they did not give way under me yesterday when I made them carry me 13.1 miles round the Bristol Half Marathon.

Some of you may remember that I did this run last year, and at the time I wasn't sure if I'd ever run that far again. However, yesterday morning I found myself lining up with nearly 16,000 others on Anchor Road, contemplating the more-than-two-hours of plodding that lay ahead. And on the first warm and sunny day we've had in weeks, too; just when I'd got used to running in torrential rain!

But anyway, the long-story-short is that I finished, and that I am still on speaking terms with my knees, for which I am very thankful.

And for those of you who wish I would shut up about my knees and get back to knitting-based-pursuits, here is a picture NBM took of me in the runners' village, looking perplexed by the words spray-painted onto the ground:

(For those of you who can't read it, it says "knitting needles")
(oh, and please don't laugh at my oh-so-fetching silver skirt space blanket)

Knitting needles, eh? Hmm.... But running with your knitting needles is very dangerous, surely?? How odd. And quite apart from that clear health-and-safety issue: where, in fact, were these promised knitting needles? It was a mystery.

...... Or at least, it would have been, had I not been standing in the very same spot one week before, watching this:

Some very, very large knitting. Very large indeed.

Mystery solved :o)

Saturday, 6 September 2008

If I've done my sums right...

... then my blog is exactly one year old today. And also - quite by chance - this appears to be my 150th post.

If I'd been a bit more organised, I'd have put together a giveaway for this occasion, it being the perfect opportunity to do so. Sadly, though, I'm not. So I haven't.

Instead, you can have the promise of a belated giveaway, sometime in the not-too-distant future :o)

And for those of you who prefer instant gratification, please go here to watch a brilliant short cartoon that is suitably celebratory.

Heck, because I'm feeling generous, you can also have this very informative video showing how balloons are made... because balloons are celebratory too, right?

Wow - it's complicated, innit? I shall never look at a balloon in the same way again...

Friday, 5 September 2008

I'm still here

Sheesh, I've been such a bad blogger lately. But I am still here, honest...

I had a good time seeing my Gran in Shetland, where I spotted a goodly number of Shetland Bumblebees:

For all you Latin fans out there, this subspecies is Bombus muscorum agricolae (I think).

And when I got home, I was even more excited to find that my Bumblegarden had become populated with not one, but two happy little buzzers:


Buzz 2

And here's a group shot, to prove that the above pics are not just two different angles on the same bee:

Buzz (on the left) and Buzz 2 (on the right)

(Latin-fans: the flavour of these guys is either Bombus terrestris or Bombus lucorum... I can't tell the difference with absolute confidence... and I believe the best way to do so involves dissection... which probably isn't much fun for the bumbles...).

Sadly, they shuffled off their little bumbly mortal coils about a week ago - as bumbles tend to at this time of year - so the garden is now very empty again. *Sigh*. Roll on next Spring...

The flip side is that I might shut up about bumbles now for a while - so it's safe to some back again soon in the hope I'll have posted something a bit different :o)

Which is what I want to finish up with actually. Is anyone else disconcerted by this picture of our oven clock, spotted at midnight a few weeks ago:

What kind of a time is that?? 00:00, surely...?

Saturday, 9 August 2008


My bumble garden has had disappointing results so far: it's attracted several hoverflies, a couple of bluebottles, and heaps of wasps.... but no bumbles. Hmph.

However, luckily I saw lots and lots and lots of bumbles in Cornwall, when we went there last week for a little holiday (look away now if you don't like pictures of fuzzy insects...)

We saw this one:

and this one:

and this one:

and then this one, busily cleaning her tongue:

... but I have to say, this last one came as a wee bit of a shock:

Anyway, that's all my bumbling about for the time being; I'm now going away again for a week or so to visit my Grandma, so I'm afraid my blog will be a little quiet (again) for a while. But I'll be here when I get back.

Cheerio for now :o)

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


I was reading Lauren's post today, and it reminded me of the following video (for reasons that will become clear if you read Lauren's post and watch the clip):

I *heart* Bill Bailey :o) I saw him live once and I laughed so much during his show that I was in actual physical pain by the end of the evening (but it was *so* worth it). I particularly liked this bit:

Anyway, that's probably enough Bill for one post.

In other news, I have developed a minor new obsession - for bumblebees. Its all about the bumbling here at the moment. So much so that I seem to have neglected my blogging duties again - too busy staring out of the window hoping that a bumble might bumble past, or even stray into my new bumblebee garden. Technically speaking, said garden is just a large pot of lavender and a small variegated thyme in a windowbox, but such is the limitation of a second-floor flat. I have had a couple of visitors, but they've bumbled off again too quickly for me to take their photos to share with you. But I'll be trying to snap the next ones that come along.

Must go. I keep thinking I hear buzzing when I stray too far from the window. Bumble bumble bumble......

Monday, 14 July 2008

A packaging gimmick that might just catch on...

(With many thanks to my Dad for providing the above bar - which is now, sadly, long since consumed and gone...)

Click on the picture for a bigger version and read the small print. It'll make you smile :o)

Monday, 7 July 2008

SunWalk report

Sorry I didn't get this post put up last night - I caught the sun on the walk (despite covering myself in suncream before going out - obviously wasn't a high enough factor!) and spent yesterday afternoon/evening feeling a bit worn out and headachey. But I'm not complaining, because I'm just glad that there was enough sun for me to end up with shoulders like this....

.... given that the day started off like this:

Amazingly, by the time the walk itself started, the blue skies had broken through:

Over the following four hours, while we were walking, the weather continued to be highly changeable, but our spirits remained high through it all. We smiled through the sun.....

..... and through the rain....

..... and I smiled a lot at my walking buddy, particularly when she was gesturing with her banana:

It was hard not to smile on such a brilliant day, surrounded by wonderful, cheerful people doing something so fantastic.

Amazingly, walking along wearing your bra feels oddly normal when you're part of a long crocodile of other folk doing just the same. I was still a little nervous, but it felt quite liberating, too :o)

I want to leave you with the quotation that was on the back of my medal, which made me think of all you lovely bloggers when I read it:

"Happiness is like jam. You can't spread even a little without getting some on yourself."
- Anonymous

Keep spreading that jam, bloggers :o)

Saturday, 5 July 2008

You guys are the best

Wow! I've been touched and overwhelmed by all the fabulous support that blogland has provided for my SunWalk tomorrow - many, many "thank you!"s to you all :o)

If you took part in working mom knits' giveaway, do go and see if you are one of her winners. Congratuations to those who have won, and big thanks to WMK for being so kind as to host the giveaway - you're a star, WMK!

Your bra decorating suggestions were all brilliant - it's a shame that I couldn't incorporate them all in my final design. In the end, I think Michaela's and mrspao's suggestions came closest to what I was already working towards.

So, without further ado, I present to you my "over shoulder boulder holder" work of art:

English Country Bra-den

I'm sorry to be so brief, but I need to go and sleep now as it's an early start in the morning. I will try to post an update tomorrow to show you how things went.

Once again, thank you all so much - and I'll be thinking of your supportive comments on my way around the course tomorrow!


Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Bra update

Thanks ever so much for all your excellent suggestions on the bra decorating front. Thank you slightly less for the knitted-beard-as-disguise idea. While I appreciate that you were intending to protect my modesty, I can't help thinking that donning instant whiskers (patent pending) may just have the effect of drawing MORE attention to myself. And even worse, I suspect things might get a bit warm and uncomfortable inside the beard after 13 miles.

Anyway, cracking swiftly on... and before I get onto the bra update I'd planned, I must share with you the very exciting news that has just dropped into my inbox: Working Mom Knits is holding a giveaway - in association with my bra-walk! Hurrah!! Do pop over and have a peek... it's over here. Thanks for thinking of me, WMK!

But now, I'm sure you're all desperate to know how the bra's coming along, yes? Well, the answer would be slooooowly, so I don't yet have any finished-article pics. What I do have is a series of snaps documenting phase one of the work-in-progress, which I shall be subtitling:

"VC's rather unsuccessful foray into fabric-dying"

Before we kick off, I'll give you a hint about the moral of the story: it involves remembering to read all the instructions before you begin. And then following them.

My 'before' shot shows that things started off very well. I consulted the guidelines and got out everything I would need:

I'd splashed out on a new pair of marigolds, I'd bulked up my fabric weight by adding a pillowcase and some knickers to my bra, I'd laughed heartily at the man in baby-blue shorts pictured on the box of dye - I was ready.

Next up, I have a 'during' shot:

Here you can see my old yellow pillowcase starting to go green as the blue dye begins to take. You probably can't see the bra. That is because I had hidden it under the pillowcase so that I couldn't see it and get stressed out about how IT WASN'T CHANGING COLOUR!!

At this point, I was repeating a mantra along the lines of: "OK... so... don't panic... just keep 'agitating the fabric and forcing the dye through it', like it says in the instructions... it'll be fine... *panicky breathing*... why is it STILL NOT BLUE??"

And, well, it turns out that I should have read the fabric type on the bra label before I bought the dye, and taken into consideration that the polyester/nylon/elastene blend might not take the colour all that well. I did know that some fibres wouldn't really dye properly, but I seem to have adopted an attitude of blind optimism about the whole thing, and assumed that this bra would 'blue up' just fine, whatever dye I used.

In the end, it did work a little bit, albeit to varying degrees in different areas. So, here's my 'after' shot: one ever-so-slightly-blue-except-where-it's-still-white bra...

Soon after this shot was taken, I started sewing some bits on - but the fruits of my labours will have to wait until next time, I think. You'll like it, though. Really. The actual sewing may not be very good, but I feel that I had a very strong design vision. I drew sketches and everything. Oh yes - I've learned from my mistakes. No more winging it for this chicken: only proper planning and meticulous research from now on... or something like that, anyway ;o)

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Getting it all out in the open

A little while ago, in a fit of energetic enthusiasm, I signed up for the Bristol SunWalk. If you haven't heard of this, you may be aware of its big sister, the MoonWalk, which is a walking marathon that is held overnight. The SunWalk - as the name suggests - is a daytime version, and it also covers shorter distances: there's a 5k and a 10k, as well as a half marathon (or 13.1 miles), which is what I'll be doing.

I signed up for this event because the cause is important to me - the event is run by Walk the Walk, which is a grant-making charity that benefits a range of breast cancer causes (if you're interested, you can read more about their work here). Several years ago, a good friend of mine lost her fight against this disease, and recently I have known too many people who have been hit with it - although the good news is that more and more folk seem to be coming out the other side.

The trademark of Walk the Walk events is that participants are encouraged to walk wearing highly-decorated bras. It's just over a week until the SunWalk, and my walking pack arrived a few days ago, containing my bra to decorate. So, the main crafty activity that has been going on chez chicken has involved planning for bra-adornments, so that I can turn this...

... into something a bit more like some of the designs on display here. I have quite a few ideas knocking around in my head, but if anyone has any good decoration-suggestions, I'd love to hear them! The colour scheme for the event is not what you'd call subtle, as you can see from the hat I have to wear:

I'm tempted to make my bra a bit more subdued, but maybe I'll throw caution to the winds and attempt to co-ordinate!

And speaking of throwing caution to the winds, I'm starting to get very nervous about the whole prospect of walking through the centre of Bristol on a Sunday afternoon with my undergarments on show. It's far scarier than the actual walking-13-and-a-bit-miles thing (although that is making me pretty antsy, too...)

Anyway, I've rambled on quite a bit now, but one last thing: just in case anyone would like to sponsor me, I've added a widgety link in my sidebar to the online fundraising page I've created. Do feel free to pop over and have a look. Also, if you happen to have any particularly rich and philanthropic friends, do please point them in my direction :o)

Anyway, I'm going to shut up now and go and rootle through my crafty supplies: I've got me a bra to decorate....