The well overdue end of year list for 2014.

This has taken me a lot longer to put together than I had anticipated. In fact I feel like I have been in school and this was an essay I’ve been putting off for ages. Has it  helped that I had Xmas and Playmobil/Lego construction cities to take up my time too? No that is a shit excuse, I spent a lot of time looking at fabric online..(god I’m thinking about it RIGHT NOW…. help me I have a problem). So I did say in my last entry I would put this up before NYE and today is NYD at the eleventh hour no less. The irony of this is that I’ve always wanted to do this kind of list and on NYD it would be one of the subjects up for discussion in our house whilst eating curry in our pyjamas.

These are all albums I’ve given a lot of time to this year but I have kept the descriptions short. When I read other people’s lists I don’t want an essay, I want a brief description of genre and similarity. That’s enough for me to decide to go on and listen or not. I hope this approach works here for anyone reading.

Should I go backwards, who doesn’t like a countdown?

12.Royal Blood- Royal Blood

Who’s list is this not on? Bass and drums people, just bass and drums managed to provide an album like a punch to the face. It’s rock its raw it’s awesome, it’s impressive and it gives new respect to the rhythm section.

11.War On Drugs- Lost in a dream


If I had to predict what albums would have been big this year, I would not have thought this one. On the top of almost every list this 80’s Bryan Adams sounding album is amazing. I mention Bryan Adams/ Don Henley way too much. Ultimately to me it stands on a weird balance of  80’s FM radio rock that you would listen to while travelling in the car (Under Pressure), prog rock/ Pink Floyd stadium interludes (The Haunting Idle) with shoe gazer undertones. “Disappearing” makes me feel like I should be on a yacht. It has a bass line that reminds me of the opening to Lady In Red.

10.Jenny Lewis- The Voyager

On  writhing this my 4-year-old stated this is my new favourite song when “She’s not me” came on. The Voyager is a more retrospective sounding album manner. Part country rock part pop. Pretty melodies and well used harmonies are the shining prize of  Lewis latest offering. This is a good solid body of work , much different from her more sombre county styled debut solo album Rabbit Fur Coat.  Highlight tracks “Just one of the guys” “Shes not me” and the sad soft leaving song”The Voyager”.

9. Metronomy- Love Letters

What a lovely foray into quaint British retro electronic/pop music. The title track “Love letters” is one of my songs of the year (big hit in the house). “Monstrous” has an excellent use of the harpsichord, that sound is not used enough this day and age.  It’s sweet and melodic  and album you can get carried away with, all boy meets girl, boy looses girls boy sings sad lonely desperate songs..with a catchy beat. Also one of the physical hold in my hand CD’s purchased this year.

8. The Eels-  The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett


If there’s a record to make me cry this year this one is it. He is a tortured soul that Mark Everett. This is his/ their 10th incarnation and with every album I think they change  ever so slightly. “Agatha Chang” is the definite highlight , beautifully romantic track, heartbreaking.There is so much quality songwriting on this album.  Part Tom Waite’s this is an album full of lost loves and regret. Beautiful.

7. Foo Fighters- Sonic Highways

My oh my, talk about getting in there at the last-minute.

Is it cool to love the Foo Fighters? It is for me. I love everything they have done and this is not an exception. I know there will be some nay sayer out there who will say “oh they haven’t been good since insert any album before Wasting Light here” , oh relax! Each track was inspired by one of the 8 different cities in America that were of certain significance to the band. There  was also an 8 part documentary shown on the BBC earlier this year  to accompany the album (but I’ve only caught 3 episodes thanks to my dumb tv planner decided to stop working). The tracks here are big ,well crafted songs that are instantly recognizable there are no surprises. If your new to them “Something For Nothing” and “Subterranean” are the best places to start.  Grohl can still write a catchy song with a killer hook. I love it.

6. Jack White- Lazaretto

So it’s got all the making of rock n roll classic in a nutshell.

Blues rock and country ballads all mixed in to make on rip-roaring album. This is a far cry from the stripped back days of White Stripes. Loads has been written everywhere you look, so I’m not going to go on about it. If you like to feel like you’ve walked back in time into a honky-tonk bar where everyone is wearing sharp suits and carrying switch-blades and drinking dirty bourbon then you have chosen the right album.

The sleeve photo is so rock too, reminiscent of an old Johnny cash album But what truly excited me is the novelty of the Ultra vinyl edition. It has been the highest selling LP since Pearl Jam’s 1994 LP Vitology. Why? Because of the following “2 vinyl-only hidden tracks hidden beneath the center labels, 1 hidden track plays at 78 RPM, one plays at 45 RPM, making this a 3-speed record, Side A plays from the inside out, Dual-groove technology: plays an electric or acoustic intro for “Just One Drink” depending on where needle is dropped. The grooves meet for the body of the song.” It may be a novelty but it’s all a bit of magic ,the thrill of buying an album .It’s what needed to get the masses back buying physical product again isn’t it?

5. Beck- Morning Phase

I always forget how much I Beck. This is full of overtures. I love a string section and there is so much overlay in this. Wave is magnificent strings and atmospheric. While  “Morning” sounds quite like the start of “Golden Age” or “Guess I’m Doing fine” which is fine as he is consistent . The whole album has something of a late afternoon at the beach country feel to it…with strings.It’s also a good album to listen to while on a long walk on a sunny autumnal morning. (If this looks familiar I have edited from my old entry in the autumn)

4. Sebastien Tellier- L’Aventura

Oh I’ve talked about him before, it’s no secret that I’m a fan.

Opening with “Love”, and as with many other songs you can hear influences of Air in there. He claims that he was aiming for a Brazilian themed album to coincide with the World Cup. I don’t hear that on many tracks except for “Ambiance Rio”which could have been lifted off Brasil 66 by Sergio Mendes. Where with the single “Ricky L’adolescent” he returns to more familiar territory – sexually charged, slow and sensual ,think more “Cochon Ville”. L’Aventura on the whole sounds more like the soundtrack to a slightly sleazy / sometimes romantic film soundtrack, with a 70’s psychedelic overtone rather than a Carnival.

3. GUM- Delorian Highway

I don’t know what they have been putting in the water in Perth, Australia or maybe it’s the isolation of the place which is producing so many amazing albums of late. GUM is Jay Watson who in other guises is from Tame Impala and the other amazing side project Pond. This is like an exploration into space and time, a visit into psychedelic plains and rolling hills of dreamscapes. It’s the past  it’s the future and everything in between.

2. St. Vincent St. Vincent

When I first heard Rattlesnakes, it annoyed me, I’m not going to lie. But after weeks of airplay I started to like it, now I love it. It’s all sassy with abrupt time signatures. She has collaborated with David Byrne from Talking heads in 2012 with “Love this giant” ,the influence is apparent here. An electronic delight and slighty a skewed to what everyone else is doing at the moment. Joyous.

1. Shiny Joe Ryan – Shiny Joe Ryan & the cosmic microwave background

What has made this number 1 for me this year is more a feeling I have for this album, rather than a formulated musical explanation. It sounds like a mixture of a Sleepy Jackson album “Lovers” which is probably one of my favourite albums of all time and Split Enz. It reminds me of the Australian landscape (but recorded in Berlin) that distinct sound that I can’t pin point but you can find in sliding guitars. A mixture of psychedelic pop, country and rock the best examples from this are the title tracks “Cosmic Microwaves Backgrounds 1 & 2 ” they have an atmosphere to them like they could have been beamed from the emptiness of space.

Cosmic microwave background sounds like its cover art depiction, desolate and jangling (is that what sepia rocks sound like?). I’ve explained it, look at that image and listen to the album.

If you do like Shiny Joe / Gum then it’s worth listening to Nicholas Allbrooks new album Ganough, Wallis & Fatuna / Mink Mussel Creek – Mink Mussel Manticore.

Phew, Honorable mentions go to Ryan Adams and John Grant live at the BBC for also being amazing.


Just before the finish line!

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Phew! That was a mad dash but it’s finally finished. I wanted the Christmas quilt to have at least 2 weeks use. That’s two weeks of getting chocolate, mince pies, coffee and whatever else all over it before the first week of January. My fault I shouldn’t have picked white triangles really (but my living room is dark so I wanted to brighten it up a bit).

I’d been collecting fat quarters of Christmas fabric since July. I would have liked a better variety and some that I bought (online again) had massive prints damn it so I couldn’t use them at all.


“Ghosts of Christmas future”


This pattern come form the great blog, Mommy by day, crafter by night. I’m always on this website , there are so many things I want to make. So many things not enough time. Anyways you can find the link here.


Man if I ever needed a proper triangle to cut my fabric out this was the quilt. My local shops didn’t have the right triangle and I couldn’t be bothered ordering it online because I a) wanted to get cracking and I would have to wait a few days for it to arrive and b) lets not forget I’m a tight arse. I’m crap at maths so Mr Mastermind made me a template out of an old cardboard box.

All cheer the homemade template!

All cheer the homemade template!

This worked for a bit and then it didn’t. As I cut the fabric I managed to shave a very small bits off the sides. There are irregularities in the sizes of the triangle which you can see as they don’t line up properly all the way through. To be honest I’m not too sure how it didn’t end up worse really…silver linings.

The quilting itself was not enjoyable. as usual, I get bored easily. Who would have known straight lines would be challenging? But after fixing wonky lines it looks presentable.

For the backing, keeping in mind that I’m always trying to save cash. I used Rockette’s H&M duvet cover from her toddler bed. It wasn’t great to sew with, it was quite rigid and the needle seemed to get stuck in it (either that or my crap sewing skills).

Whatever it was I did break about 4 needles and the thread kept randomly coming out of the needle. All in all my machine wasn’t really happy with all of this. But it still looks good and it didn’t cost me anything. The duvet was too small though so I used one of the FQ’s with the large print and all my scraps to make up the gap.


The zigzag binding was not as complicated as it first looks, it was pretty easy for me and I winged it and got it done in no time really (considering I was coming down with some vile head cold) just remember to make a small fold in every corner. I love the effect.

It’s a fun easy make if you’re not trying to rush it. If I ever made another one I would start it in September..


I have no time to make the cushions I wanted. I’ll make them in the summer.


Short and sweet today, still working on my best of albums of 2014 it will appear before NYE, it’s on my list of things to do alongside all of the baking and buying a tablecloth.

Jazzing things up in the cold and damp.

Winter has finally settled on Canterbury. It’s cold and miserable and being of antipodean origin natives are always quick to remind me “it’s only going to get worse”. I know this, I’ve been here for over a decade but my body on the other hand is always surprised that it’s damp and cold when it should be hot and goes on protest/hibernation. So I’ve been in  lazy winter mode which always happens in the first few weeks of the season.

Because of this and putting up the Christmas tree (and subsequently having to go through the ‘junk under the stairs’ cupboard to get to said tree, we have unwittingly had to spend an infinite time having  a clean out) I have not done anything crafty other than piece together the Christmas quilt (still not ready) , and make paper chains. But the tree looks good at least.


Yes I am an upside down tree.

But I did dig out some of last years crafty works so I thought I would share that instead.


I got the idea for the wreath from an odd book called “Everything Oz” by Hannah Read-Baldrey and Christine Leech.

It’s full of baking and craft ideas based on the Wizard of Oz, excellent if you’re having a theme party. It does have some beautiful things in it, one of them being wool wrapped wreaths. (They also have another book called Everything Alice based on Alice in Wonderland which is perfect as a certain 4-year-old has already requested this theme for her next birthday party.)

So I had some cheap wool left from when I was attempting to knit and I bought a polystyrene wreath from Hobbycraft (other retailers exist) .

I pinned the start of the wool to the back of the ring and twisted it around. To change the colour I tied the two colours of wool together and made sure the knot was on the back. Too easy.

The felt flowers didn’t turn out how I would have liked but it is just a petal template, some felt and a glue gun and then pinned in. A glue gun will not attach them properly (maybe It’s because I have a cheap glue gun), hence the pins masquerading as buds which cover all the mess I made when trying to glue each petal together. The leaves didn’t turn out as envisaged either, I think it made someone in my house even laugh and ask what happened to them (rude!) by that stage I had enough of the glue gun. If I made it again I would attempt to make them curved.


The bells were from Hobbycraft  and the bird was out of an old packet of Paperchase tree decorations. It was a fun make, I could make loads of them!

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The other thing I dug out was the jazzing up of Rockette’s Christmas stocking, which she insisted could be improved with some pink and purple butterflies, of course!

Again this was some butterfly templates, some felt, a glue gun and some little pink pearly balls which held the bottom and the top layers together.


It was approved, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Bugs and fishes it a great blog for all sorts of amazing felt ideas and tutorials which is where I found the template


Hark! Do you hear what I hear?

There have been a few interesting new releases in the last few weeks such as Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders, John Grant at the BBC, Foo Fighters, the Temples re-issue and so forth. I left it a few weeks in-between music blogs so there is almost too many to write about.

Some of them may make it into the best of albums list of 2014 I’m currently compiling in my head which will see the light of day in the next few weeks. So more about them later.

What has made me quite happy this week is the new She & Him album Classics.

Made up of M.Ward and Zooey Deschanel, this is the duo’s 5th album. They have a sound which is a mixture of naive retro sounding sunshine and pop’s take on blues. Having already recorded a wonderful Christmas album in 2011 it’s no surprise that they have delivered an album of cover’s. I’m wanting to buy this on vinyl for the artwork alone, it’s a great design.

I love Zooey Deschanels voice, (this is why I also love the Elf soundtrack so much) so I’m never really disappointed in anything she chooses to sing.  Saying that there is always a risk of trying to tackle any kind of classic song. The songs from this album come from the likes of  Billie Holiday to Dusty Springfield to Chet Baker and Johnny Mathis.

The Vera Lynn war classic “We’ll meet again” which I think is the highlight of the album sounds a lot less like the haunting tales war and the optimism of hope and more like a drunken night in a pub round a piano, I like it in the same way I would like an old sea shanty.

 Their version of Herb Alpert’s”This Girl’s (Guy’s) in Love With You” is beautiful. It had a job going up against such a standard (and the original is probably in my top 50 greatest songs of all time) , but for today I think they have covered it well without deviating too much from the original tempo. There are no strings and the sound is not so rich or dynamic so it doesn’t have the same impact of Alpert’s version, but it has a precious sound to it . It feels as if Deschanel is holding back on her vocals and she’s singing like she almost too scared to tell the recipient of her song how she feels, which gives it a certain charm and sweetness.

On the other hand “She” sounds opposite where the added layers and texture make it sound richer it is a wonderful yet possibly more understated version or the original.

All in all its a Sunday morning record a jazzy easy listen . Play it alongside Woody Allen soundtracks and Belle and Sebastien records.

Want something more festive?