Wednesday, 20 June 2007

I've been trying all afternoon to get a decent picture of my latest windmill. The light is dire. It's unbelievable to think tomorrow is mid-summer. With the rain lashing down and the wind howling down the chimney it's more like February. Not that I mind, really. The thought of a swelteringly hot day brings me out in a rash, although I would like to be able to hang my washing out and finally plant out my pumpkins.

But, back to windmills. I tried making several 18cm ones with card, but as soon as you bend the corners in, the inner paper buckles and creases, so I tried this 25cm one with just thick-ish paper:

Yum. Love it.

I don't know what's wrong with me, but I've been absolutely starving all day. Perhaps it's the wintery weather making me feel like stocking up and hibernating, but I don't think even bears eat as much as I have today. Possibly the entire punnet of cherries and the huge bowl of home-made popcorn were a step too far. I am so looking forward to dinner!

Oh, and a very Happy Birthday to my sister Amy Spud (23 today) who was taken to a matinee performance of The Lion King in London this afternoon, and Lovely Jon's mum Mummy Bridget (not saying) and his sister Hannah Spannah (24). Today is an expensive day.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

BleurgghhhAhhhhhhhahhhoMmmmma. That is exactly how I feel.

Productivity-wise, I've not been having too bad a day. (Yesterday was absolutely rubbish. We skived off for a bit and went to Portscatho for a play in the rockpools) I've been making paper windmills. They were one of the things I optimistically said I'd make for the etsy shop launch, but, even though I bought the paper for them weeks and weeks ago, they still remain unmade. So I've been having a bit of an experiment with putting them together and deciding which is the best glue to use. To my utter dismay, it's the dreaded lung-killing spray mount.

Here are my first attempts:

The one on the left is fixo gum, the right spray mount. I just have to let the glue dry for longer before I start bending over the corners, so I've made up a batch that are busily drying ready for assembledge tomorrow. They should be fun, I think. Something more affordable for the shop. These are 18cm across, and I'd like to make some monster ones, maybe 30cm or so, but I'll have to find some bigger card first! My windmill tutorial comes from Danielle Proud's fab book, House Proud.

I've also been beavering away with my precious buttons. Oh, how I love them! If red buttons could pay the mortgage, I'd marry them. This bracelet here is my absolute fave:

Look at all the fabulous varieties. I love the toggle and the square one just right of the top centre. It's going to be hard to let go of that one.

I read on Penny and Toby's blog about clear elastic thread, and I thought that was just such a genius idea I had to get me some. It's amazingly professional stuff, and looks so much better than the stringy old bit of white elastic I first had in mind.

I've also had a go with making a necklace with yummy white buttons, but I think the varying button sizes - which work so well on the bracelets - are just too chunky and random to wear around the neck en masse.

I think I'll un-string it and only use smaller more uniform buttons for necklaces and leave the crazy size free-for-all for the bracelets.

And on the dairy-free side of things, things are also going OK, although I could kill for a glass of the white stuff. After trying a lot of milk substitutes, I'm going for Oatly, which is oat milk. Unlike the custard powder-smelling rice milk, it only has three ingredients, and they're ones I've a) heard of and b) can pronounce. I made some fab vegan cookies with it on Sunday. Thank God we bought this book a couple of weeks ago. I heartily recommend these Oatmeal and Peanut Butter Cookies from it. Triple yum:

Port Issac, 16th June.

Friday, 15 June 2007

A nice surprise through the post. Meadowside have sent me a couple copies of my first book, Fish Don't Play Ball, that they've reproduced in boardbook form and included in a mini-anthology of three other dog-based stories in an early reader. Cool.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Keep On Truckin'

The Royal Cornwall Show, 9th June.

Oh dear. That was a bit depressing, wasn't it? Sorry to harp on a bit. Just needed to get that out. Thanks to all those who have commented or emailed. You are all lovely, lovely people.

But back to fun, flippery and frivolity. What's my guilty pleasure at the moment? That's right: buttons! Yay!

These are most of the ones I've been buying on ebay over the past week. I. Must. Stop. Now. But they are yummy, aren't they? I must take a picture of the drool-worthy collection Lovely Jon bought me back from Edinburgh last week from HK Handknit, but my little Samsung is a bit rubbish indoors. A new camera is no.1 on my birthday list this year, I think.

Speaking of HK Handknit, the lovely Jeanette there has agreed to stock my monsters for Christmas. Hurrah! This is fabulous news. And plenty of time to knit them up, too. I have a little guy who's been waiting for me to stitch his eyes down properly for a couple of weeks now, poor love. I'll get him finished and he can join the family.

Right, I'm off to play with my buttons. (That didn't sound as dirty in my head.)

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

On Monday I went for a food intolerance test in Truro. It turns out I'm sensitive to dairy products, soya, peas, lentils, chick peas, beans, chocolate, onions, brussel sprouts, tomatoes and coffee. Coffee and onions I already knew made me squiffy, legumes I was totally shocked at.

Five years ago I was diagnosed as suffering from Crohn's Disease, which is basically where your digestive system starts to attack itself and ulcerates, up to the point where, if left untreated, it can "burn" a hole right through itself. Your body just doesn't absorb enough minerals and, combined with even the simplest food making you feel sick, that means you loose a lot of weight very quickly and feel like poo 95% of the time.

Back then, I was trying to complete my second year at uni, but I kept missing days, arriving late because I was kept up half the night with violent stomach cramps, falling asleep at my desk, and generally not doing very well. There was a point were I lived on dry Rice Krispies and bread. So, after many, many trips to hospital, the doctors finally discovered the Crohn's and I was put on steroids and other drugs to control it. Initially the steroids worked like magic - I highly recommend them to all - but, come the summer holidays, I was booked in to have the Evil part of my intestine removed.

It was amazing. Such a change. A week Inside followed by six weeks of taking it easy and no driving for a month. Plus, no alcohol, which meant a dry 21st birthday. Start of symptoms to operation took a year.

But, since then, it's all been pretty good. I'm all-clear. The only thing is, whenever there may be the slightest hint of a stomach ache or a tummy bug, I instantly go into Panic Mode and assume I'll be wheeled back Inside in no time. It's all in my head, I know, but it really raises the stress levels, which, of course, makes it all worse.

So, you can imagine what I was like when both Lovely Jon and I had a bug at the end of the Easter holidays. We were staying with our respective parents - who only live three miles apart - back in Surrey. Jon felt sick two days before coming home, and I, naturally, started to feel exceedingly dodgy the night before. The car journey home took over seven hours. SEVEN HOURS. Usually we do it in four and a half. I had to stop for the loo a lot. A lot. And I was hysterical to boot.

Since then, a good nine weeks or so ago, I have felt, well, Not Right. The thought of leaving the house made me have panic attacks. Just getting in the car made me feel sick. Going somewhere and not knowing where the toilets were was unthinkable. So, basically, since then I haven't really gone out. You can tell by looking at me. My skin is vile, I must've put on a stone at least, and having to be somewhere with more than three people terrifies me.

But the last two weeks have been much better. I've been making myself go on short trips out - places where I know there are toilets. Places that aren't too far away. Or if they are far away, we go on the train so I know I'm not too far away from a loo. If I drive, I don't panic.

My goal was to be OK for the Royal Cornwall Show this weekend, and I was fine. That's not to say I'm completely over it. I still have to remind myself where the toilets are, just in case, but only once or twice, instead of every five minutes, and Immodium has become my new best friend, but I'm getting there.

So I took the the food test to try to clear up those niggly doubts I still had. Maybe something had upset my insides at Easter, and was still causing me to have some problems weeks later. And the no.1 culprit appears to be dairy products. Easter=chocolate. And I knew I shouldn't have tested all those cream teas! Back when I was ill even the thought of milk and butter completely turned my stomach, so I should've seen it coming.

The advice has been to exclude dairy for a month, and then slowly re-introduce it to see how much my body can cope with. The thing is, soya - being a bean - comes up as being a problem food for me too, and the vast majority of vegan milk replacements are made from soya. Fun. I don't recommend trying to find a non-dairy based "butter" in Asda, by the way. I have some oat milk, which tastes slightly nutty but chalky, and some rice milk, which is better but very sweet. I had to plump for a soya-based spread in the end as there was just nothing else, but I am using it very sparingly. At the moment I'm just excluding dairy, so if I continue to have problems the legumes will have to go, too.

When I found all this out on Monday, I was quite happy about it. An explanation for my squiffiness, I thought, but going to find replacement foods has been quite traumatic. I love milk so much and replacing it with ground-up rice just isn't the same. I got quite down about it yesterday, and that seems to have continued into today. My advice booklet says this is normal. Removing something you eat or drink every day from your diet can be like a drug addict going cold turkey and can leave you with all the withdrawal symptoms.

But I'm trying to be positive about it. I will get used to it, and it is helping me. (I hope.) But I don't recommend oat milk if you don't have to. Really.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Crocs are cool. Mary-Janes are cool. I've got a crazy idea: let's put the two together.


Hello. My name is Emma and I'm a button-a-holic.

I have a serious problem. A terrible addiction that's taking over my life, and my already limited bank balance. Yes, it's buttons. And not just any buttons, it's buying ebay buttons. Damn, that place grabs hold of you and just won't let go.

My first ebay experiences were back in 2001, when I was a wee young slip of a girl and just a bit obsessed with Marylin Monroe. I had a furious bidding war with someone else over a set of MM postcards, which, thankfully, I won. This was pre-Paypal, so I had to send a cheque and everything. Of course, six years later the postcards are still in the envelope they were posted in, lurking in some dark corner of my planchest drawer. After that I swore I wouldn't be taken in again, but, dagnammit, the buttons are just so reasonably priced on there.

I do have plans for these buttons. Honest. They're going to be turned into some funky jewelry for my etsy shop. Speaking of which, I have sold one item so far to the lovely Maya, and had many, many people looking at Daphne and her friends, so I hope someone snaps them up soon. I do worry that I've over-priced, though. Particularly on the postage, which I have to admit I just guestimated.

Lovely Jon was up in Edinburgh for two days last week, and he bought me back a gorgeous selection of buttons from HK Handknit, which my lovely friend Stephanie told me all about. While he was there he showed the manageress my etsy monsters, and she said she might be interested in selling them. Hurrah! I'm just about to send her an email about them, so I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Well, it's taken a while but it's finally open for business as from today. Check out my knitted monsters, badges and what-not at my etsy shop.