Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Is About the Turnips

On Christmas Eve I found myself in the kitchen, looking out on the shadows in the garden in the Christmas darkness, listening to a radio documentary about church bells. My husband was chasing the baby - well, he's not a baby any more, a toddler, really - in an elaborate game that involved, amid much shrieking and Daddy Bear growls, a dash around the dining room table and a brief dart into the kitchen to circle my knees.
"Goodness me," I thought, turning the radio up so I could hear when the bells of Cologne cathedral were cast, "I'm listening to a programme about bells! I'm really getting old!"

I looked down at my hands, peeling the turnips, amidst the potato peelings and the discarded leaves of the Brussels sprouts and I suddenly saw my mother's hands. I realised that I was doing what I'd seen her do on Christmas Eve for nearly forty years, and my husband, pottering around the kitchen, not finding kitchenware that has been in the same cupboard it's always been, was just what my father always did - albeit, my father was usually attempting his one and only culinary foray of the year, his perfectly engineered sherry trifle, whereas my husband was just trying to find the teapot. Oh, and with a noisy child clambering between us.

And I started to cry, which is not a good idea with a sharp knife in your hand.
"Are you okay?" my husband, said startled. "What happened?"
"Nothing happened," I said.
"Are you sad?"
Incredulous: "Are you crying because you're happy?"
How do I explain it?
"I'm crying because we're all safe and well and content and at home. And I'm crying because I'm doing the same thing my mother did on Christmas Eve, peeling the turnips."
I blew my nose into a wad of kitchen roll and he patted me sympathetically. More like a you're-a-weirdo-but-I-love-you-anyway kind of pat.
"I'm really sorry," he said, "but I can't get emotional about vegetables."

See, Christmas isn't really about the toys and the glitz and the food and the Important Traditions we think we have to uphold, like family photos and turkey dinners and filled stockings on the mantelpiece. Christmas is about the turnips. Christmas is about finding yourself unthinkingly doing the thousand tiny things your mother did and your father did: leading a one-year-old to a little pile of toys and saying "Look what Santa brought you!", even though you know that child has no clue who Santa is. It's about wiping down sinks and countertops to wake up to a kitchen that will be clean for about ten minutes on Christmas Day. It's about lighting a candle in your window on Christmas Eve or lining up the Christmas cards just so. It's about being part of a bigger cycle, a small cog in a clockwork of Christmasses that stretch over decades. It's about the turnips.


And in that sense, I hope you and yours spent a peaceful day today, doing whatever it is that you always do to keep you safe and well, and make you content.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
P.S.: This morning I opened my Christmas present from my husband, a pretty silver ring with little diamonds. I spontaneously clapped my hand to my chest and drew an intake of breath.
"Oh God," he said, alarmed, "We're not going to have a repeat of The Turnip Incident, are we?"
Dear me. I have a feeling it has already become part of family legend.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

More owls!

So aside from reeling in shock at the expansion of my midriff and, consequently, our family, what I have been up to, you ask?
(there seems to be an inordinate amount of commas in that opening question but I don't think I can do without them.)

Well, for a start I succumbed to fashion and started producing little owls of my own. The reason for this was peer pressure - yes, it was. A colleague saw my owl keyring and asked if I could make some for her Christmas Bazaar in aid of our local children's hospital.
Of course, I said, in a fit of benevolent do-goodery and crafting madness. I was directed to the pattern on the BunnyMummy blog by Amjaylou (-> check out her Christmas tree decorations!) and sat down with hook in hand to try to recreate them.

But here's the thing: Anna, who made mine, has clearly got the patience of a saint and the delicate fingers of an angel. She crochets these in thread - in thread, readers! -  I could barely manage cotton without using salty language. So I had no choice but to come up with a pattern of my own, cheat wildly and use sock yarn (because ... changing the yarn ... weaving in the ends ... tortured sigh.) I tried one:

Finger provided by John, my Constant Assistant.

And they were a success! They sold out within an hour! People had actually placed pre-orders for them, in fact, there were requests for more. Owls certainly rule the roost this year.

If the light allows for photos, I'll write up the pattern in the coming days and you can try your hand at them, too.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


There are a lot of myths surrounding motherhood. Women have babies and some of them are wont to say things like, "It changed my life." Well, it changed mine, too. "It fulfilled me," or "Having a baby made me realise what my purpose was". Or "having a child finally defined me as a woman." Or some such statements that must fall somewhere along the line between 'bewildering' and 'hurtful' for anyone who has not had a child.

I can't really relate to any of those. I was perfectly fulfilled pre-baby, thankyouverymuch. I had lots of purpose and I didn't need a baby to become a woman. I was nearly 38 when my first was born and I'd certainly enjoyed my life up till then. I'm just not the type of woman who describes herself as A Mother, as in:
Gingerbread Lady - who are you?
Why, thank you for asking. I'm the Gingerbread Lady. I'm a Mother, a crafter, a teacher, a learner and a ... oh, goodness, I've already run out of inspirational titles.

My son was born with A Personality (jazz hands). He came into this world as his own person. He joined our family and it felt like we had suddenly got a new flatmate, a third person in our house, a little tyrant that dictated how everything should be and made his feelings known when he was displeased. He was not a passive little being upon which we could project our hopes and aspirations. John was John from the minute he was born and I am his mother. I love being his mother but have no great desire to be A Mother in general: vast swathes of motherhood are quite horrific and I really cannot recommend them. Do I exaggerate? Maybe, but when you're in it, a little exaggeration is allowed.

See, it takes a village to raise a child and, for the most part, our village has been my husband and I. We don't have family close enough to call up to come over to take the baby for an hour, and all of our friends work. It has just been us, often it has just been me. And it has been hard - relentless, in many cases. One night, crying, I handed my husband the baby that had been howling without a break for the previous three hours and said, "It's like some cruel form of punishment." I meant it: with too little sleep and too little relief, I felt like the infant was just draining me of my last dregs of energy.

But here's the very weird thing about motherhood - as opposed to Mytherhood, where everything is always sunny and women gush about how they never knew the reason for their lady bits until they popped a baba - certain amounts of it are utterly joyful and they make the rest of it bearable. Sometimes this joy is wrapped up in physical pain, like when you are woken from deep sleep by getting your eye socket battered with a plastic fish - you wake up to the sight of a smiley, gappy-toothed face shouting "Mumma! Mumma!" And there is nothing I have been prouder of in my adult life than seeing my son take his first steps. I doubt I would've been that proud if I had taken them myself. He falls asleep holding my finger but when he falls asleep, I actually hold his heart.

Despite the fact that it's been tough, tough, tough, I would do it again in an instant.

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Which is how I feel now, three months after finding out that I was unexpectedly pregnant again. My first reaction - and feel free to hate me if you're struggling with fertility issues, I'd probably hate me, too - was to cry. And cry. And cry. A full day of crying and wondering how on earth I was going to cope with two children under two. How were we going to manage financially? With our jobs? How was I going be able to care for two babies when I had often felt exhausted and drained from minding just one?

Then we did what you have to do  - what we did when John had bronchitis and we spent every night for two weeks walking him up and down the living room so he could get some sleep - we just darned well got on with it. We adjusted to it, we rearranged ourselves around it and we accepted it. And soon enough, we were cautiously happy about it.

So was I Destined To Be A Mother, as the Mytherhood would leave me to believe? I don't think so, but I was clearly destined to be the mother of my children, because they came to us when we didn't even realise we were missing them. Maybe that's my mytherhood.
Who knows?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

2013: The Year of the Owl

What's going on, people?
There are owls everywhere:

 However, real owls aren't quite as cute and cuddly. In fact, they can be downright snooty:

This, though, is my favourite owl of all. It's a gift from a talented Polish lady called Anna, and I just love it.

When a friend saw it, she excitedly said: "You could make these!"
Yes, I probably could - but they'd never be as nice as Anna's.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Magic Ball Afghan


This is a true scrapbuster. I randomly strung (does that word exist? Well, it's not being underlined by the spellchecker - which, ironically, is underlined - so I'll keep going) pieces of yarn together, knotted them with long tails, crocheted my hexagons and triangles, crocheting in the tails as I went along - and this is what I ended up with, a variation on my Stars and Flowers afghan:

 It's a dark September day, can you see? How sad! Autumn is here already ... in other words, blanket season has begun!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

"What? I have to share? Get lost!"
Yesterday, John - that's my son's name, by the way. I think I should stop calling him The Baby - and I went, as is our wont, to the playground. However, our daily trip to Baby Paradise was marred by a jarring discordance in John's universe: the baby swings were occupied! Yes, the horror: when we arrived, both swings were being merrily swung on by other children. What is a baby to do?  - other than wriggle out of his mother's arms and march over under the swings, mother in tow, angrily scuffing new shoes on the asphalt, complaining loudly and waving fat fists of fury in the air.

I used this situation as a teaching moment. I squatted down to his level and explained that the swings were for everyone and we had to share. That we could play on the roundabout while the other children were finishing up and then it would be our go.

Now, that's the Nice Version. The Sanitised Version. The one that could appear as a segment in Sesame Street.

This is the reality:
I pulled my son back from walking in front of the swings, hunkered down to get a grip on him and briefly explained - in a gentle and reasonable manner - to a young soul not yet capable of anything close to logic, reason or comprehension of consequences that he could not get on the swing yet. He roared in my face and shook an angry fist at the swings, and when I extricated myself from his sharp little claws, standing up slowly, he grabbed my knees and pulled sharply on my jeans, almost causing me to inadvertently moon a bunch of preschoolers on the slide. By the time I wrangled him over to the roundabout, I was dripping in sweat and my hair had escaped from its ponytail, plastered over my face and caught in the frame of my glasses. All the time I was smiling casually at the other mothers in an "oh,-I've-got-this-under-control" way.

That's parenting for ya. You could argue that he's only a little baby and doesn't understand these things yet - but when do you start? You start as you mean to go on. And it's hard, gentle readers. As the months pass, I can begin to understand how easy it is to produce an indulged and spoiled child. At this age, their little temper tantrums are actually quite funny: watching a puce-faced Rumpelstiltskin throw a hissy fit because he doesn't want to have his nappy change really would make you smile. And it's so much easier to just give in. But you can't: there are some battles you have to fight and learning to share the swings - sharing anything, really - is one of those battles.

I'm sure Big Bird and Grover would agree.

Friday, August 16, 2013

When Scraps Take Over


Sometimes, the blanket you make to use up your scraps (thrifty crafter here) takes on a life of its own, and it's no longer a little side project but starts to grow out of proportion.

So here's the blanket that created the scraps:

And here's the scrap blanket.

 And here's the scrap on the scrap blanket.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gauge Rage

Whaaaat? And now I have to block it as well?

For a start, it's a word that I always want to write guage. I don't know why, but gauge always looks wrong.

That should be a sign that gauge is not my forte. Or, to put it in a way that looks nicer to my eye: guage is not my forté.

As a crocheter, I laughed at gauge a lot. I mostly crochet household stuff, so a centimetre or inch off here or there doesn't make that much of a difference. But knitting is a whole 'nother ballgame and knitting things that are actually supposed to fit people is an entirely different kettle of fish. But I decided, in my usual gung-ho fashion, to just knit a sweater for my niece (again, this word looks better written neice) and started on one that was for a child six months older than she will be this winter (she'll be two this year).

I ended up with a jumper that would fit my ten-month-old son. And I'd make him wear it, gender stereotypes be damned, except ... well, it is a tad too girly. It's my first time doing colour-work - fair isle or intarsia, I believe it's called - and the fact that I can knit English-style and continental has been very helpful. Indeed, I thought stranded knitting would be an immense pain in the posterior, but it actual livens up a rather slow and painstaking process (as a crocheter, you get used to quicker gratification - bigger stitches, faster work.) Now I want to knit one of those Scandinavian-style sweaters with reindeer and snowflakes. I figure that if I make one for my husband, it might end up fitting my poor two-year-old niece.

Or I might just try a gauge swatch.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

In which she talks about poopoo

Baby poopoo, but still. You have been warned.

My 9-month-old son was standing over me, singing: "Lalalalalala rarararaa dadadaadadaaa!"
I was lying on my side, he was standing by my stomach, gripping my shoulder, singing with gusto. As I watched him (proudly, of course) a glob of drool formed at his lip and abseiled downwards, hitting my eyelid.
I did what any mother would do: wiped it off and applauded his rendition of the Lala song.

Before having a baby, I was a bit more - how shall we say it - reticent about the sharing of bodily fluids and functions. As one would be. Mother Nature, however, has a way of shutting this reticence off when it comes to your own offspring. Perhaps it's because they sprang from your loins or perhaps it's because your natural feeling of boundaries and privacy get trampled on within a fortnight of being splattered with newborn poo, wee, spit up and slobber. You realise that the term 'baby shower' no longer involves nice gifts and fun games, but a wad of wet wipes and sometimes even a bucket.

My son is learning to share, which in itself is an immensely touching and rewarding thing to witness. Sadly, at the moment, he most loves to share soggy rusks and slurped-upon apples. He proffers them magnanimously and we, gulp, lean in and nibble them with suppressed reluctance: "Mmmmmm! Delicious! Thank you very much, John! Mmmm!" If we don't take up his generous offer fast enough, he sticks the foodstuff in our eye or nose - whichever orifice is closest.

See - a year ago there is no way I would've touched anything previously licked or slobbered on (yes, I am aware that that sounds somewhat dodgy; move on, please), now - because small babies don't actually realise that their mothers are independent beings and not an extension of themselves - anything I put in my mouth is likely to be pre-tasted when a fat hand, lightning fast, reaches out and grabs it out of my grasp. And it's not only food - anything I possess is fair game. If I take my mobile phone out of my bag, he drops whatever-it-is-he's-holding and swipes it off me. My earrings are always poke-worthy and my wallet and handbag have teeth-marks. If he could sleep with a hunk of my hair in one hand and his father's beard in the other - why, that would just be baby heaven.

And that's not all. He can't quite walk yet, so I have to walk behind him, holding his hands, as he marches around the park or the botanical garden, trying to kick the flowers (he doesn't have a hand free, you see, so he wants to kick them to see them move. No, I don't allow him to. My child will not abuse The Nature) or other children's footballs. It's back-breaking work. A couple of days ago I lumbered past an elderly lady sitting on a park bench. She made sympathetic noises as I passed, bent like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. "Enjoy it!" she called out. "It won't be long before he won't want to hold your hand!"

That's true, of course. And, if we're lucky, he won't want to share pee, poo and soggy rusks with us, either.
Grubby fingers crossed.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

No Sleep Till Brooklyn. I mean, Gingerbreadtown

We - that is, my husband - decided to "sleep train" our son. Now, I apparently agreed to this but I can't remember doing so (which is what happens when you're sleep deprived), so my husband read all of the Expert Literature on getting babies to sleep and decided we would do the "gentle method" (as it's called in German.) This involves putting baby down to sleep with some nice cuddles and soothing words, then leaving the room, only to return at regular, short intervals to soothe him and reassure him you're there. It works, I was promised. Even my friend Sandra reported her sister's success - it worked for her son and sometimes he even screamed for an hour and a half.

Oh, I laughed bitterly.

My son can scream in pure rage and fury for FOUR hours. FOUR HOURS, people. If we leave him alone for more than three minutes, there's an ominous silence, followed by more Screams of Rage: that's the point when we have to go in an extricate him from the bars of the cot or from underneath the mattress where, bizarrely, he has managed to jam a hand or leg. After ten days of intense battles, we have reduced the screaming to 90 minutes on a bad night and he hasn't lost a finger on a bed spring yet, despite his best efforts.

Now, let me just remind you of the facts: we are two adults in our late thirties. My husband hit 6' (180cm) and kept going for a bit. I'm not a small girl, not by anyone's standards. Yet our nine-month-old demonstrates a strength and stamina that leaves us speechless (and sleepless). If he wants to get down off our knees, he's getting down. If he wants to climb into the washing machine, well, darnit, he's going to climb in. And if he thinks there's a chance to get out of the cot, he will do his utmost, by hook or by crook, to escape Baby Alcatraz.

Anyway ... let's move on to more exciting things. My latest pattern is being tested by two sets of nice ladies, with eagle eyes and sharpened hooks. It's called Stars & Flowers because ... well, maybe you might see why:

It's close to finished and I hope it'll be ready to download just as the weather turns cool in the northern hemisphere (i.e. by September, at the latest!)

Friday, June 21, 2013

My Parenting Fails

Yesterday, my 8-month-old bit me. This is the toothmark:

He looked up at me with his toothy smile, proud as punch - "I have teeth! Just in case you hadn't noticed!" I shrieked in surprise, then turned him away from me so I could laugh into my sleeve. Just another example of what a bad parent I am: I'm sure there's some Theory out there that would enlighten me as to how I could use this as a Teaching Moment. The friend who was with me at the time reappeared from behind the door where she'd hidden herself to laugh and said: "Bite him back!"
The next time I will.

See, I feel a little remiss about my son's non-appearance on this blog, because everyone else who blogs with children spends a lot more time talking about them than I do. They frequently share their birth stories and outline the various Theories they ascribe to. So I think it's time for me to do the same.

My birth story
"Do you have a birth plan?" asked the midwife.
"Yes," I said. " 'Get him out!'"
"Okay," she said.
Eighteen hours later, I got him out. It was a bit weird: more people saw my nethers in that one day than had in my entire life hithertofore. The pain was unpleasant but it was finite, so I dealt with it.
That was it, really. No biggie, thank goodness. Hope the next one - if there's ever a next one - will be as straightforward.

My Parenting Skillz

So we took the baby home and put him in the nursing bed. The first night he mewled in the darkness and waved his little fists about and he looked so lost that I pulled him into bed with us. I figured that people had been doing it for millenia, so it couldn't be too bad. I made him his own space, with his own little blanket, and he slept there till he was happy to sleep in his cot by himself, five months later.

Having been given a bombastic set of chesticles, I decided to make them pay their way. I breastfed the baby whenever he felt hungry because I thought the poor little bugger was too young to fake hunger. At five months, he started grabbing our food and regularly enjoyed a stolen croissant for breakfast, so we gave him some solids. Which he pegged into himself at lightning speed. One day, at six months, he unlatched himself from my bosom, fake-gagged, and refused to ever breastfeed again. I closed the doors of the dairy, happily consigned my ugly maternity bras to the back of the closet and returned to underwear that held all my bits in place.

From the beginning onwards, he wanted to be in the middle of everything, and this desire was somewhat handicapped by my not having more than two hands. So I bought an excellent baby carrier from a German company called Storchenwiege and plopped him in there. I could go around doing stuff and he could be on board interfering in the stuff I was doing.

All good so far, right? Not a single parenting book or forum did I read. I just did what had to be done when it had to be done and if it didn't work, we tried something else. However, I've been reliably informed that I wasn't just being sensible or pragmatic, I was actually practising Co-Sleeping, Breastfeeding On Demand, Baby-Led Weaning, Baby Carrying and maybe even Attachment Parenting! Yay, me!

 And, even more exciting: were I looking for confirmation about the above, reams of paper have been sacrificed in the writing of tomes on each of them. Entire forums (fora?) are dedicated to mothers talking to each other about all the Capitalised Things they are doing to benefit their offspring. From remarks made by other mothers on the subject of the above, I am led to believe that you are entitled to be a little bit smug about how well you are parenting if there's an academic paper online somewhere to back up your decisions.
Who needs expensive toys when you can sit your child
in a laundry basket in front of the washing machine?
Best of all, one should read it and quote it to other mothers ("You stopped breastfeeding when the baby was six months old? Umm, well, I breastfed till Ivor was nearly 25 months. After all, the World Health Organisation's paper on breastfeeding recommends you do it till the baby is at least two. Would you like me to send you the link to the paper?")

But here's the thing, readers - and brace yourselves for some salty language:
I am frikken knackered.
Like, exhausted.
I have very little time for myself and the time I do have, I don't want to spend it online with a bunch of wimmin going on about how well they're parenting their children, when they probably actually should be offline doing it in real life instead. I don't have time to read books about how to develop my child's creative urges or how women in Borneo have been carrying their babies in shawls for 60,000 years and no Bornean child ends up in teenage therapy. I'm happy if some of the food that enters his facial airspace actually goes into his mouth. I'm ecstatic about a poop. As long as he's laughing, and I'm laughing, and we both get a few hours' sleep every night - well, I'm delighted.

My Parenting Goal is to raise a decent human being. And not mess him up too much. And still be talking to him when he's 30. That's about it. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to achieve that yet - or, if indeed, I will at all - but I hope I can manage it with a bit of common sense and good humour. If I ever have free time in the next eighteen years - which looks unlikely - I'll borrow a few books or go online and be informed about what I'm doing wrong.

In the meantime, I'll muddle on. And if the little stinker bites me again, so help me, I'll bite him back.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

This Is Not Funny

I'm writing this in a puddle of perspiration. My elbows are sticking to my tablecloth, making a nasty sucking noisy when I lift them up. Two weeks ago, I was wearing my winter coat; Germany was under floods of water - we had the wettest May on record. Now we have this: 37°C (99°F) at 5 p.m.

No, no, no. Gingerbread Ladies are not made for this kind of weather.

Proof: I kid you not!

Faced with being hot and sticky at home or hot and sticky in the park, the Gingerbread Cookie and I chose the park. I even kicked off my well-worn Birkenstocks (how German I have become!) and exposed my troll-feet to the elements. My son turned his face away to hide his horror:

The yellow building in the background - in case you don't have one at home - is an Orangerie. This is where one puts one's citrus trees during the winter season, dears. The prince that built the park had this built because, well, God forbid you would not have your freshly-pressed orange juice for breakfast. (Nowadays it's used by the university's music department and for formal functions.)

We are awaiting - not so much eagerly as with some trepidation - a huge thunderstorm this evening. I hope it cools a little because I have some crocheting I want to finish and share with you all. Sticky fingers crossed!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Dirty Floor and the Creative Urge

Up till yesterday morning, my kitchen floor was filthy. Really, really dirty. When my sister and her family left, they also left behind a floor that suffered for a week beneath ten pairs of mucky feet, fresh in the door from rainy playgrounds and damp sandboxes. And I meant to clean it, honest I did. It's just so ... tiresome. I hate housework, I really do. The advent of mobile devices has assuaged my hatred somewhat, as I now can watch documentaries about the Vikings on my iPad while scrubbing the bathtub, but given the choice, I'd rather not scrub anything, ever.

While here, Emily and I talked about her now-hibernating project to co-write (with other people, not me) about being a creative mother (or maybe that should be: Creative Mother). We came to the conclusion that it's very hard to teach someone how to be creative - and probably the last thing you ought to write a book about. If you're creative, you spend every single spare minute doing things and making things and thinking about ways to do and make things. You don't need to make the conscious decision to do this, you do it because not doing it is like not scratching an itch, not removing an eyelash from your eyeball or a stone from your shoe. You do it because you have to. If you're like me, your Amazon shopping basket is possibly full of soap-making supplies, your living room is full of bags of yarn, you have pens and notebooks stashed everywhere and a crochet hook in your nightstand. You also have a dirty kitchen floor, an over-flowing hamper of unwashed laundry (and, on that subject, you probably can't remember where you put your iron, it's been so long since you used it.) You occasionally shovel a spoon of apple purée in your infant son's ear, because you're daydreaming about your next project and don't notice him bend down to fetch a fallen toy.

See? Not the kind of thing you write about, not something whose virtues you extol in connection with mothering, as much of my creative urge results in neglected household duties and an apple-eared child.

But what's creativity anyway? One of my friends is adamantly uncreative in the traditional sense. She can't draw for toffee, she says. She mangled a scarf in knitting class forty years ago and has not picked up a needle since. But she's tidy, oh my goodness, she's tidy. She cleans and tidies for fun. Her house is beautiful, her cupboards are a joy. She puts things in order - by shape, size, colour, age. She expresses herself through order and organisation and I am every bit as much in awe and envy of her skills as she is of mine. I could no sooner teach her to be spontaneously creative than she could teach me to spontaneously clean. While my kitchen floor would make her itch, I can blithely ignore it till I have done more important (to me) things, like sew together a stack of motifs, testing my latest pattern:

When the last treads were woven in, photos taken and uploaded, then I got out the mop and did the kitchen floor. I now have a clean kitchen and a new blanket - happiness all round!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Tea, Cake and Rain

Never apologise!
That's the advice given on one of those "How to blog" blogs. But I feel I should apologise. My blogposts have been irregular, to say the least, this year. That being said, I'd just like to thank anyone who takes the time to comment, I really appreciate and enjoy reading them. One of the things I love to do in my (now rare and precious) free time is to look at your blogs, going back through your posts and photos - it really is a treat.

In any case, what have we been up to over here? Well, my sister, her husband and their five - count them: five - children came to visit. When they left Ireland, the weather was miserable there and wonderful here; as soon as they arrived here, their meteorological fortunes were reversed. Germany saw the wettest May on record, while the sun split the heavens in Ireland. Over here, in Bavaria, dams burst and rivers flooded:

So we had no choice but to hunker down and get cosy.
 We did daily trips to the playground, where we I mean, the children built sandcastles and ate ice-cream. Often in the rain - but we're Irish, so most things we do outdoors are in the rain anyway. We are fearless! (Or foolhardy - take your pick.)

My sister Emily and I went shopping, finding a shop that we both put on our "Things to Buy When We Win The Lottery" list - no, not a cup or two or twenty. The ENTIRE shop. All of it.

Inspired by these visions of fine dining and (more to the point) commissioned by a local yarn shop ("Y'know those donuts you made? Can you make some more?") I started making crocheted baked goods. And just in case you feel like a virtual snack, here's the pattern for the cupcakes and here's the pattern for the donuts!

This is my Fancy China. It normally resides in a cupboard, while I use bucket-like mugs from the
99c shop, which sadly don't photograph quite as well. While here, Emily and I discussed our nefarious Blogging Lies,
wherein we take nice photos that belie the fact that we are both extraordinarily untidy people,
coming to the conclusion that no one wants to see the mountain of clutter that constitutes
our real lives. Instead, we will show you our pretty porcelain and relatively uncluttered
work surfaces and we shall all pretend that this is our general reality, as opposed to our
(Op)Posed Reality. Please play along.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

TUTORIAL: Klimtchen Baby Blankets

I love making crazy patchwork blankets. Which is a good thing, because every time somebody gets pregnant - and I seem to know a lot of remarkably fecund people - they want one of these. You know, "the blankets that look like modern art. Like a Klimt painting!" So I call these blankets Klimtchen (little Klimts in German). If you'd like to make one, I recommend checking out the tutorial for the adult-sized blanket first (blog link here and a link directly to the PDF download here) because it contains a lot of advice about the general process of planning these blankets.

The link to the tutorial PDF is here.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Mambag

Once upon a time, I used to have loads of handbags. As in, a heap of them. A veritable plethora. Big ones, small ones, gorgeously impractical ones. I didn't want to end up like one of those women that carted around a massive handbag full of rubbish (like my mother, if truth be told.) And why would I? Because all I needed to carry around in my bag was a notepad and pen, mobile phone and wallet - easily transferable between multiple bags.

Then I became a mother and my bag collection got whittled down to one - the bag that's big enough to fill with a bunch of random items but small enough to stuff into a stroller or sling around a neck while wrestling with a baby intent on escape. As to the contents of my handbag? Well, this happened:

Tipped out on to the coffee table, the contents of my handbag look like this:

There are many surprises, even for me - a lonely shoe. A sock. A rattle. Sophie, the hipster giraffe (it was a present, honest. I wasn't aware of how chic my child was, till someone informed me of the coolness of the toy then rammed into the chubby jaws of my drooling infant. Well, hello hipster me!). Wipes, nappies, coupons, a note from my Auntie Attracta with precise instructions about the type of yarn I have to buy for her. A lip gloss. Receipts.
And tissues.
Oh, my goodness, the tissues. There are tissues stuffed in my pockets, up my sleeve, down my bra - and not in the saucy way, but in the you-stay-down-there-till-I-need-to-spit-on-you-and-wipe-a-sticky-face way. When I undress at night, there's a snowfall of balled-up paper handkerchiefs. And the startling thing is, my mother is the exact same. Just like Hänsel and Gretel left a trail of breadcrumbs, she leaves a trail of ... tissues.

Which is why yesterday's Mothers' Day realisation was much less a realisation and more of a mental smack in the head, affixing a truism to my forehead that I know, but would rather forget: the older we get, the more inclined we are to become like our mothers. Because I now no longer have a handbag, I have - shudder! - a mambag.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Aaaaannnnd ... she's back!


I've had a tough month. We went home to Ireland again and once again came back with a bronchial infection (baby) and the 'flu (me). It has taken us a good month to get over it. Today Baby Gingerbread and I went out for a walk and had a look at the botanical garden:

Then we dropped by to our favourite bakery for some goodies:

Then we went home to share our loot with Papa.

And despite everything - maybe because of everything - I've been crocheting. Quite frankly, it's what has kept me sane.

Nearly finished! Then I just need to write up the pattern, have it tested, review and adjust it --- and publish it! Easy-peasy!