Saturday, 24 March 2012

Crochet Jar Covers

I have fallen completely in love with glass jars. I don't really eat anything from glass jars myself, aside from  pesto (which always come in thin, little jars which just aren't as fun) so I've been eyeing up my housemate's glass jars from across the kitchen and pouncing on them the minute they hit the recycling bin.

I love making them little crochet jackets and storing things in them.

Crochet Jar Covers

I am so in love with them.

Crochet Jar Covers

I will not rest until I have stored every last thing I own in some kind of adorable receptacle!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Some Mother's Day craftiness

As promised in my last entry, here are the lavender bags I made for Mother's Day tomorrow! They have (hopefully) already arrived safely and are waiting to be opened tomorrow (but I'm not holding my breath, even with First Class post...)

Mother's Day Lavender Bags

I did intend to make more than one bird, but after the effort I put into familiarising myself with fold-back appliqué (probably not the correct terminology) and my utter dread of making another wing - I settled for two hearts instead. ;) I am still very new and inexperienced to the world of sewing, and much prefer using my (brand spanking new!) machine instead of wrestling with needles by hand. Unfortunately, it's kind of a necessary evil when you end up sewing as many small-scale things as I do.

John, my sewing machine (very, um, imaginatively named!) was a belated birthday present that I received around Christmas from mum. She also gifted me with these lovely books for Christmas:

So really, she kind of was asking for a homemade Cath Kidston-inspired present. :P The lavender bags are a pattern from Sew. Both books are full of lovely projects, and I am especially inspired by Patch, because patchwork is just delicious. There cannot be enough patchwork in my life! I will say that some of the instructions are a bit lacking, so perhaps not brilliant books for beginners. (Like me, haha!)

They are stuffed with lavender which I was delighted to source within the UK. Lavender is usually associated with warmer countries than the UK, so being able to source such lovely lavender surprised me. People do grow lavender in their gardens, but all the examples I've seen are kinda... scraggy. Well, this dried lavender was wonderful. If you're located in the UK and fancy some gorgeous dried lavender with quick postal times, I definitely recommend:

I would love to visit their farm in Somerset and have tea and homemade cakes by the lavender fields! 

Mother's Day Lavender Bags

The fabric is from Oxfam's Ethical Collection - recycled cotton patches cut form reject waste material form the textile industry. Gorgeous fabrics, and just the right size for projects this small.

Fingers crossed for a positive reaction tomorrow!

alice xox

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A little bit of amateur card-making...

It's Mother's Day in the UK next Sunday, and I thought it would be nice to shun the whole 'Hallmark culture' thing, and try my hand at making my own card. Being 22 instead of 2, it's not really just the thought that counts anymore... I don't think Mummy J would feel particularly appreciated/impressed if I send her a piece of paper with some macaroni glued on! So, I had to like, actually make it look nice and stuff...

Mother's Day Card

It's a bit plain, but I'm happy with it as a total card making/scrapbooking/any papercrafting amateur! The mini bunting actually dangles from some elastic that I threaded through some holes and knotted inside the card! Dabbed a tiny bit of PVA on the knots to hold them in place.

Next on my list, making the presents! Determined to stick to my home-made Mother's Day theme, because I think it's cute, and hopefully a bit more meaningful. Also, Mummy J's tastes in shop-bought goods are... very expensive. I am but a poor student!

Last year, I made her a kindle cover, this year I am aiming for lavender bags. Lavender is my favourite smell in the whole world~ ♥ Got a whole delicious bag sitting on my desk enticing me! Might have to whip a sneaky bag up for myself, while I'm at it...

alice xox

Monday, 5 March 2012

Some thoughts & photos on the 'Lego Friends' range

As you might know, Lego recently released a new 'Friends' range that is being toted as 'lego for girls.' It features a whole new style of minifig, and 'girly' pink and purple coloured blocks. This isn't Lego's first foray into a 'girly' range, though it is the one with the most exposure and, well, criticism. There are plenty of people rather annoyed at Lego's decision to launch a girl-centric range, for completely understandable reasons, which I won't go into.

Now, me? I'm an adult toy collector without kids. I don't tend to buy toys based on their appropriateness for children, or anything like that. I can coo over Monster High without worrying about whether they are too "made up" or skinny or inappropriately proportioned. So, I see this new Lego range, and I do a happy squeal! I worked in a toy shop last summer, and fell instantly in love with Lego after a childhood of parent-enforced Lego-deprivation, and came across Belville for the first time - which is Lego's rather lacklustre previous attempt at enticing the stereotypical girl market. It's very horse-y and the minfigs are weirdly massive - give it a google. I don't remember selling one set the entire four months I worked there! (Just in case you're interested, the best selling range was probably Ninjago, after the minifig blind packs.)

I think Lego friends, by comparison to Belville, is awesome - and I say this as a toy collector with a penchant for pretty colours and cute little plastic faces, not as someone considering the social implications and whatnot. I just like cute/awesome things! So, I bought a set. ;)

65/366 Olivia

This is Olivia, and she's kind of the 'token science geek' of the Lego friends set of characters. She called to my inner Firefly fan, and for some reason reminded me so much of Kaylee, I just had to have her! :)

Olivia's Inventor's Workshop

I bought Olivia's Inventor's Workshop set (3933) which is the least 'girly' set currently available, and it's definitely my favourite. It comes with plenty of tools and scientific-looking bits and pieces, including a blackboard with some very mathsy scribbles.

Olivia's Inventor's Workshop

There are lots of exciting bottles of chemicals and a wonderful little microscope.

Olivia's Inventor's Workshop

The colours are mostly 'girly', but the lego blocks are the typical size and would be compatible with all the usual Lego pieces from other ranges. I'm rather fond of the nice turquoise coloured blocks, myself.

Olivia's Inventor's Workshop

The little set of drawers for the tools is just too cute for words.

Olivia's Inventor's Workshop

The robot (which comes with a remote control for Oliva to hold) is also adorable, and reminds me of Short Circuit/Wall-E. Love it!

Now, onto the actual Friends minifig itself. I personally really like the new style - even though I do love the traditional minifig look, both as an adult and a kid, I always preferred toys which were more 'human shaped', and the Friends minifigs lean more towards a Playmobil kind of look - which, FYI, I love! I do suspect that Lego is trying to elbow in on the Playmobil market with this range. I think I'm right in saying that Playmobil is their main competitor right now...

Lego Friends Minifig Comparison

As you can see above, with Olivia in-between two typical female minifigs, the Lego Friends are slightly taller. They have big, clumpy feet (which I've noticed a lot of people complain about - but I LOVE them, I am a fan of big, over-sized feet on toys. I think it's really cute.) which still slot into regular lego bricks just the same, despite their different look.  Their eyes are bigger, and they have adorable little button noses I can't help but love. Their faces are shaped a bit more like faces, and they have a tapered chin, though still no ears. The hands are the same - they can still grip and interact with all regular Lego sized things the same as normal minifigs.

Also, unlike the regular minifigs, who have their boobs drawn on (which is a look that always kind of bugged me, iconic as it is) they have some subtle boob-ish-ly shaped chests.

Lego Friends Minifig Comparison

Due to their different shape, their arms/legs/heads can't mix and match with the regular minifigs. However, their hair is swappable, much to my delight! I've since swapped Olivia's hair for a ponytail to add to the Kaylee look.

Overall, I can't help but like them. :) It's a shame that there's still such a divide between girl's and boy's toys - I was weirdly pleased to find these in the 'boys' section of Hamley's rather than across in the 'girls' section with Barbies and LalaLoopsy, etc. Sure, they're pink and purple - but I can't say I mind if they get more girls playing with construction toys, because at the end of the day, this is still Lego, and there are still instructions to follow and pieces to put together! Maybe a lot of kids, like I did, will prefer the more human-shaped minifigs.

I don't want to get all up on my ol' soapbox or anything, but it frustrates me a bit that there are so many people being vocal about girls being allowed boy's toys, and not the other way around, which I think has actually become the bigger issue. A girl playing with Ninjago, or action figures, isn't seen as that weird at all. A little boy playing with Disney Princesses... now that's a bigger deal in most people's eyes. When I have wee 'uns of my own, I am going to bombard both genders with the hugest range of 'girl' and 'boy' toys imaginable. (And not just because it'll give me an excuse to buy even MORE toys, heheh. Although I am cool with that.) I don't want an end to 'girly' toys or 'boy' toys! I don't want everything to be aggressively 'gender neutral' and for certain types of toys to disappear as a result, I just everything to be acceptable for every child.

I don't think the Lego Friends range is necessarily a step in the right direction... but they're cute, and I like them, and let's leave it at that. ;)

alice xox

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Week of the Takochu

One's paypal balance is a terribly dangerous thing. It's not in your bank account yet, and so it's not quite real money, and so spending it isn't really spending... right?

I broke down and had a bit of a paypal accident on Kawaii Shop Japan, and last Monday, I got a very exciting package...


Takochu! ♥ I should've broken down and bought some of these ages ago. They are just too cute! I ordered four of the ice-cream lookalikes - two yellows, a strawberry (my favourite!) and what appears to be a mint chocolate chip. Om nom nom.


They are far, far smaller than I expected - about half the size of Doppelgangers, and very light and hard. Stacking them is much harder (but just as cute) and is quite a balancing act. They stack very nicely, though, and I wish I had more than 4 just to see how high I could get them! The difficulty in taking photos outside is how light they are. The slightest gust of wind, and they go flying, which is really quite adorable in itself.


The above photo is an example of some master Takochu stacking. ;) I took it by St Andrews cathedral, my absolute favourite part of town, and they are precariously balanced on top of a grave stone so I could shoot them with the cathedral ruins in the background. This must have been my tenth attempt at stacking them, at least. There was a lot of squealing and dashing around before they blew away entirely, and so the tourists were all watching me curiously, haha!

Anyway, my conclusion: I need more.

alice xox

ps. new layout! like? :)