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  http://bugsandfishes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/how-to-felt-butterfly-brooches.html


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?


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