The blog of BaggieAggie, designer of bags, gadget cases and other fabulous accessories handmade in Wales. Sprinkled with recipes, gardening chat, the odd piece of short fiction, and anything else that inspires (or annoys!) me. So pull up a comfy chair and stay a while.


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Saturday, 18 December 2010

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Owls and Phones...

Owls fabric phone case, handmade in Wales, UK. Padded and fully lined.
My Owls card wallet has been so popular, I decided to add an Owls phone holder to my Folksy shop. It sold so quickly, I've now added another. It will fit most phones, including the latest iPhone.

It's fully padded and lined, and fastens with double-stitched velcro to keep precious phones secure. All seams are hidden.

If owls aren't your thing, other phone pockets are available and, as always, custom orders most welcome. :)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

OH has his second operation...

For those who don't know, OH had an accident in June and severed a tendon in his forearm. Unfortunately, though the tendon knitted together after the initial op, it stretched, leaving him with two bent (and therefore useless) fingers. The trauma also caused some further tendon and pain issues in his wrist and the palm of his hand. Physiotherapy didn't help and was suspended. The hand surgeon he subsequently saw said the reason for the tendon stretching was due to the site of the injury - very close to the point where the tendon joins muscle. He felt that performing the same operation would almost certainly have the same result, and decided to operate on the hand and wrist instead.

That operation finally took place yesterday, and OH is yet again in a plaster cast, this time from elbow to fingertips. He's been warned that the operation site is extremely delicate and he must take extra care not to knock it, etc. This means no work of any kind for at least 6 weeks, more likely 8+. His employer to date has been less than sympathetic, and, after the first operation, forced him back to work before he was ready with the threat of the sack, much to the disgust of the Union, GP and surgeon.

So quite what will happen this time, we dread to think...

Monday, 29 November 2010

Crafting and Pricing - how do you get it right...?

Purple fabric phone case with flap and velcro fastening, handmade in Wales UK.
As promised, Phone Pockets will now begin to appear in my shops, and this fab purple one is available at Folksy now.

As so many crafters find, pricing in the hours taken to make an item is rarely a viable option. If we did, we'd never sell a thing! So I think I've priced this competitively, but I'd be interested to hear your views. :-)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Phone Pockets now available!

I was asked to make a phone case for someone, to match the Mushroom card wallet they wanted to buy. Another person saw it when I listed it on Folksy, and asked for a black and pink colour combination. These were the results.
Both customers were so pleased, I've decided to make a few in other fabric combinations, and they'll be available to view and buy soon. Custom orders most welcome in the meantime, though - contact me through my website to discuss requirements. :-)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Mushrooms and Grapes


I have so many yummy fabrics in my stash, it's sometimes difficult to decide which to use next! But colours and patterns that remind me of food have been top of the pile lately (reason unknown!) as you can see from these pics.

The card wallets hold 30 business cards or 8 credit / store cards, and the key fob fits most wrists and is perfect for keeping your keys handy when juggling doors, kids and shopping.

They'd make lovely Christmas gifts or stocking-fillers, as would most things at BaggieAggie.com so do drop in and say hello. :-)




Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Itsy, Bitsy, Teenie, Weenie, Yellow Polka-dot Bikini...

What is it about polka dots that's made them so everlastingly popular? They've been around since at least the 1950s (I vaguely remember the above song, which Google tells me was recorded by Brian Hyland in 1960). Polka dots appear to be as popular today, if not more so. Even my blog background is dotty!

As you can see from the pics on the right, I've made items recently to reflect our love affair with the perennial polka dot. I also began a thread on the Folksy forum yesterday, titled Show me your POLKA DOTS! So why not have a peek at the wonderful items the talented makers there have to offer? You won't be disappointed. :-)

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Crafters: Does Feedback Inspire You...?

Knit and felt no-sew shoulder bag pattern designed by BaggieAggie.
I've been busy making and promoting accessories for BaggieAggietoo, so my bag shop (BaggieAggie) has been rather neglected over the last few months. Not helped by the series of mega disasters OH and I have been (and still are) coping with! But a couple of weeks ago one of my felted bags sold, and I received the following feedback:

"Absolutely stunning!! I couldn't be happier with the bag I have bought. Beautifully crafted and great attention to detail. A highly recommended maker...Thank You!!"

This has spurred me to get BaggieAggie back on track, and the above Pleat bag is now available here. It's fully-lined in vintage Laura Ashley cotton to match, has a zipped internal pocket, and fastens with a magnetic snap. Other colours and designs to be added soon.

(For those of you who'd like to have a go at making Pleat yourself, the pattern download is available here. Ravelry is a US site, and most of my pattern customers are American, hence the $ prices. But Paypal automatically shows the price in your particular currency, so you see the exact cost before hitting that final button.)

Anyway, enough blogging for now - time to get making! While I'm away, why not tell me your feedback stories? I'd love to read them!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Fast Fiction Friday - "Anosmia: The Pros and Cons"

This multi award-winning short story is probably the one I enjoyed writing the most. The first Fast Fiction Friday for quite a while, I hope you enjoy reading it. (©opyright, as always, remains solely with me, the author.)

(Removed to make space. If you'd like to read it, let me know via the Comments box.)

Monday, 11 October 2010

Gorgeous New Card Wallets listed on Folksy!





Coco-Loco was a custom order for a Belgian jeweller, so the scrumptious chocolate-coloured fabric was the perfect choice...! Seriously, the quality cotton fabrics were picked to match her business cards - brown, red, and modern but elegant. I chose a delicious cherry-wine fabric for the lining, and I'm so pleased with the results I've made another for my Folksy shop.

The second new wallet is Owls. I adore the fabric, a quality Michael Miller design, and decided to line it in plain black cotton to match the owls' wings. Available here but it's so cute, I can hardly bear to part with it!

They hold 30 business cards or 8 credit/store cards, and would make lovely gifts or stocking fillers.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Fennel and Quinoa Salad with Herbs

Vegetarian food recipe: Fennel & Quinoa Salad with Herbs - Yotam Ottolenghi
Looking for a recipe yesterday to help use up our glut of herbs and chillies, I came across this vegetarian dish, devised by Yotam Ottolenghi. I replaced the limes with lemons as we always have plenty of those, and didn't add any extra salt near the end. It was absolutely delish!


4 servings:

About 70ml olive oil
3 medium fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp cider vinegar
Salt and black pepper
150g quinoa
300g broad beans (fresh or frozen)
1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
1½ tsp ground cumin
25g chopped mint
25g chopped coriander
25g chopped dill
3 limes or 2 small lemons

1. Pour 50ml oil into a large sauté pan, add the fennel and cook on low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and soft. Add the sugar, vinegar and some salt, and cook, stirring, for two minutes, then move pan from heat.
2. Add the quinoa to a pan of boiling water and simmer for 8-10 minutes. (It should still have some bite.) Drain into a fine sieve, run under cold water, shake to remove excess liquid and add to the fennel.
3. Add the broad beans to a pan of boiling water, cook for one minute, drain and refresh under cold running water. Press beans gently to remove leathery skins, then stir into the quinoa and fennel mixture, with the chilli, cumin and herbs. Season with black pepper and salt if desired.
4. Using a small, sharp knife, trim off the tops and tails of the limes or lemons. Remove the skin and white pith. Over a bowl to catch any juice, remove the segments from each lime or lemon by slicing between the membranes. Cut each segment into three and, with the juice, add to the quinoa salad.
5. Add the remaining olive oil and taste, adjusting the seasoning as necessary and possibly adding a little more olive oil if it seems a bit dry.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Well HELLO, big boy!

A strange shaped (and very rude!) carrot from my vegetable bed!

Meet Carl 'Big Boy' Carrot, fresh from my veg patch, and complete with carefully maintained punk hairdo. When not entertaining Mrs Carrot, he loves nothing better than reclining on a bed of kitchen paper in the warm autumn sun. He remains blissfully unaware that a pan of boiling water will be his ultimate doom, and that his large appendage will almost certainly drop off as he softens.

So enjoy it while you can, my orange friend. We're rooting for you.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Peeing by torchlight... and other stuff...

Well, the bathroom ceiling was repaired and plastered just over a week ago, and the cheque has arrived from the insurance company. Hooray!

The ceiling's dried out nicely, and we're looking forward to getting some lighting at last. (The novelty of peeing by torchlight has long since worn off!)

Having decided exactly where the new suite will be positioned, we've booked an electrician to install downlighters and extractor fan on Saturday. (Have also booked him to do some other overdue electrical work elsewhere in the house.)

Now need to make final decisions on loo, basin and tiles so that our builder can provide an accurate quote. (Unfortunately, OH has been tied up with other things this week and has another physio appointment tomorrow, so we've been struggling to find time.)

However, while he's been otherwise occupied, I have managed to get some sewing done - more party gift bags, and two gorgeous business card wallets. (See pics.) All now available at BaggieAggietoo.

Am hoping to get some more items made before the sewing-machine's put out of action by Saturday's electrical work!






Monday, 6 September 2010

Storm-damaged bathroom + eco-friendly party bags


This is the first chance I've had to blog for over a week, but at least we've managed to get quotes for our storm-damaged ceiling. Unfortunately, water also got behind the wall tiles, causing a bit of a dilemma, the details of which I won't bore you with as they'll only interest builders and tilers! To cut a long story short, we've decided to bring forward the bathroom replacement (originally planned for 2012). Can't say I'm sorry, as the current one, though only just over 5 years old and fitted just before we moved in, is ghastly - black wall tiles, cheap fittings (we've already had the loo repaired three times), poor workmanship, and badly planned (the door when only partly-opened bashes against the front of the basin). So, bathroom stores, here we come!

Miraculously, I did manage to get some sewing done last week - the fabric party or gift bags above. As I wanted them to be washable, reusable and durable, I decided on French (enclosed) seams and a double-hemmed opening (so no raw edges). I've set the satin ribbon in the back seam and triple-stitched for extra strength.

These bags are attractive gifts in their own right, I think - not only will children have reminders of wonderful parties long after they're over, but they'll be able to use them to keep their little treasures safe. I've found that adults too like these eco-friendly and green alternatives to plastic - I know of someone who filled one with lavender to scent the bedroom. Fab idea!

So if you're planning a party and eco-friendly is important to you, you can find 4-packs of these in my Folksy shop. I'll be adding more designs very shortly - unless, that is, we have any more natural disasters to cope with!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Edinburgh Festival Alternative

It's been a bit of a crazy week, mostly thanks to the weather, which has put me all behind. Why, I hear you ask? Well, here in Wales we've had the worst torrential rain I've ever seen. It caused damage to our roof and consequently to the bathroom ceiling, which collapsed. Excitement we could definitely have done without. So most of our days have been spent dealing with the mess and various tradesmen tramping in and out. The roof itself was repaired very quickly and efficiently and we've found a good electrician who's disconnected the electrics and is ready to begin work once the ceiling's been replaced. (Both tradesmen recommended by a neighbour.) But finding a builder/plasterer who doesn't think he's taking part in the Edinburgh Festival (ie.quoting comedic you're-avin-a-larf prices) is proving to be troublesome, so we could be living without a bathroom ceiling for a lot longer than planned!

Even surrounded by all this mayhem, I did manage to get some sewing done - the fab and funky business card wallet and cute child's backpack pictured here.

Blogging about anything else, though (the nice exciting things that have happened to me, and yes, there've actually been some, lol!), I'm afraid will have to wait for a day or two, till I've caught up with some housework and got my breath back!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Fast Fiction Friday 9

Apologies for the delay, but here it finally is - The Wrong Room. ©opyright, as always, remains solely with me, the author.


THE WRONG ROOM

His current name is John. John Dale. An ordinary name, an invisible name, plucked from the air for that very reason. He lives inside his head and rarely speaks. He keeps himself to himself. It wasn’t always so, not before that last night in Basingstoke.
   He sits at a corner table for one, on a busy terrace overlooking a sea the same shade of blue as the Miro print on the whitewashed wall behind him. Though he belongs now on the fringes of society, he seeks the company of crowds. They shield him, like a locked door, from the horror lurking in the basement. They keep him anchored in the present. For a while, at least. Alone at night, in cheap no-questions-asked hotels, the past always wins, unless he’s drunk himself into oblivion.
   A black and white figure in a ridiculous oversized sombrero flits by his table, a tray of chinking glasses held aloft, blond sweat-dark hair fastened in a stubby ponytail. John lifts a hand to his own hair, blond too beneath the mouse-brown L’Oréal.
   Hey! Waiter! Any chance of some service here? Natives gone for a kip and left you to it, have they? Bleeding siestas. Good job you student types come here for the summer or we’d all die of thirst.
   Do they make you wear that hat for the tourists, then? Or was it your idea, to keep the sun off? Can hardly see your face. Good idea if you’ve only just arrived, mind. Sun’s bleeding strong here, even in the late afternoon. Course, I’m used to it. Almost a native now.
   Hey! I was here before them. Or was I. Maybe not. And anyway, they look like they need a drink even more than me. Frying on the beach all day, I expect. Can smell the suntan oil from here. Deep meaningful looks and holding hands under the table. Just wait till later, when the pink turns red. That’ll put an end to the shagging for a day or two.
   Speaking of which, it’s been a long time. Two years, to be exact. Can’t get it up any more, not since… Hey! Where the hell are you going now? No, no, you’re right. That old couple was already here when I sat down. Germans, aren’t they? Or maybe Dutch. Never was much good at languages. Well, what’s the point? Everyone speaks English. Except the bleeding French. They do it on purpose, you know, to piss us off. If I’d known, I’d have bought a phrase book at Dover. Needed all the help I could get, with the cops on my tail.
   Ah! You’ve noticed me at last. An apologetic glance that says ‘on my way’. And about time too.
   What the…? No, it can’t be… But it is, it is! Those amazing violet eyes, just like your ma’s! Scarred chin. Happened when you fell off your trike that time. Jesus Christ, you’ve come searching for me like I always feared you would. Close up, you’ll see through the dyed hair and brown contacts, right into my soul, what’s left of it. I have to – need to – get up and run. Run and run, across the sand and into the sea and swim to Africa. But I can’t. I’m frozen solid from the inside out.
   I love you, son. Please believe that. And I loved your ma, even after what she did. If I hadn’t got wrecked again that night, maybe we could’ve worked things out, me and her. She always said drink’d be my downfall and she was right.
   All that blood, so much blood. Everywhere, it was. Splattered up the walls, soaked right through the mattress. The Butcher of Basingstoke, they called me. Bleeding tabloids.
   I had no idea. No idea your ma was having an affair. I should have done. Even your Uncle Jack knew, and he was permanently bladdered. He told me, in the Feathers that night. Her boss, he said. Been going on for months. When I got home, there he was, her bastard loverboy, stretched out in our bed like he belonged there. At least, that’s what I thought. Bleeding drink messed up my radar good and proper. You have to believe I didn’t know. I didn’t know. Please, if you leave me be I promise I’ll never touch another drop, I promise I promise…
   I can’t stand it any longer. Do what you’ve come to do. It can’t be worse than all those terrible dreams and sleepless nights. Put me out of my misery. I’m ready, ready as I’ll ever be. Just make it quick, please make it quick…
   Wha…? I don’t believe it! You don’t look anything like my boy! Apart from the hair. Not even a hint of a scar. And I could’ve sworn, bleeding sworn…
   Is this my punishment, God? For running away? Don’t you think I hurt enough already? Don’t you? It was an accident, for Pete’s sake! I didn’t mean to kill him. It was the wrong room, the wrong bleeding room oh God...
   Don’t fuss, waiter, don’t fuss. Yes, I expect I do look like I’ve seen a ghost. For a minute there I thought…
   He lowers his wet face into shaking hands and forces down bile. Words form, fat and ungainly, on a tongue that feels and tastes like a slab of bloodless liver. “Get me a large scotch and I’ll be fine,” he croaks. “No, wait. On second thoughts, bring me the bleeding bottle.” 

© Rosie Rose

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Apple trees in pots on patio or deck

Red Windsor apple tree in pot. In January 2009, two apple minarettes arrived, dormant and packed in straw. After taking advice on what types of apples we could successfully grow in our particular part of the UK, we'd chosen the varieties Red Windsor and Sunset (pollination groups A and B respectively, for harvests in early and mid-autumn). Equally excited and nervous, we planted them in large pots using John Innes No.3. Knowing we'd have to repot and cut back root growth every 2-3 years, and mindful of drainage and deck-cleaning issues, we set the pots on wheeled trolleys.

In the first year, we had little blossom and therefore little fruit. And what fruit did appear was destroyed by what we discovered were codling moth. Not that we should have allowed the trees to fruit at all in their first year, but we couldn't resist! We'd learned our lesson, though, and that autumn both trees were protected against these wee beasties by wrapping codling moth traps around each slender trunk. It was only in the following spring that we realised we'd forgotten to wrap the traps around the tree stakes as well. Duh!

So, convinced that codling moth would win the day again, we watched in trepidation as masses of scented apple blossom appeared and disappeared, and fruits began to swell. We fed the trees with tomato food at two-weekly intervals, just in case all was well, and prayed.

Thankfully, our prayers were answered: the Red Windsor apples in the photo are almost ready to harvest and look fine. Phew! The Sunset fruits look good too, and we'll be harvesting those in late September/early October. (Of course, now I've said that, something unforeseen is bound to happen. Watch this space...!)

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Free UK P&P till midnight, Sunday 22nd August...

... on all handcrafted accessories at BaggieAggietoo. If any (or all!) of the following resonate, then take advantage of this offer:

♥ You're looking for a unique gift priced at under £6.00.
♥ Your business cards are a dog-eared mess in the bottom of your bag.
♥ You never have a business card handy when you need one.
♥ You struggle to find your keys in bag or pocket when juggling kids, shopping and car doors.
♥ And when you do eventually lay your hands on them, you drop them - invariably in a puddle!
♥ You sometimes like to leave the house without taking a bag or jacket with you, eg. walking the dog, posting a letter, etc.

Simply purchase as normal, and the P&P charge will be refunded via Paypal. Don't see a colour or fabric combination that suits? This offer also applies to custom orders, so let me know your requirements through BaggieAggietoo before the deadline expires.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Fast Fiction Friday 8

Today's short story, Locked In, Locked Out, has won several prizes. The chief judge of one competion commented as follows: "Of 338 entries, Locked In, Locked Out jumped to the front of the queue. This story has everything; sadness, tragedy and humour, not a word wasted and it has a great ending.” I hope you enjoy it as much as he did. ©opyright, as always, remains solely with me, the author.

(Removed to free up space. If you'd like to read it, let me know and I'll pop it back up. Alternatively, take a look at some of my very short flash fiction pieces. :-)

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

My first custom order!

This gorgeous business card wallet was made as a custom order for someone who'd fallen in love with the fabric (which I'd used for a wristlet key fob listed on Folksy). It was a joy to make, and the customer was thrilled with it:

"It has arrived and it's perfect! Thank you for customising to my chosen fabric xx"

So, if you never have a business card to hand when you need one, or they're in a dog-eared muddle in the bottom of your bag, then Daisy and other designs can be viewed here. More to be added soon, but if you don't see a colour or fabric that's quite 'you' in the meantime, just ask - I'll almost certainly have something suitable in stock. And if I haven't, I'm sure I'll be able to source it!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Have Kate and Madonna really made knitting cool?

Among other things, I design no-sew knit-and-felt bag purse patterns, selling exclusively now through Ravelry and Craftsy (as downloads) and Etsy (as PDFs sent direct to a buyer's inbox). Interest has been huge, and the pattern on the left is one of my best sellers. Oddly, though, 99% of my customers are from the US. I've had the occasional Canadian and Australian buyer, but very little interest from the UK. Unexpectedly, the few UK sales I did make came mostly through eBay. (That was shortlived, though, as I logged on one day to find that eBay had removed all my pattern listings, for the reason that sending items by digital means is not allowed. When I asked why, no-one could give me a sensible answer. As sending hardcopy through the mail would have made the patterns unattractively expensive, that was the end of that!)

Anyway, I digress! The reason for this post is to try to find out why there's such an apparent lack of interest in knitting in the UK. It's a huge industry in the States, and lots of celebrities have supposedly made it 'cool'. So is it the prices of designer patterns that puts Brits off? Possibly, as I was once asked by a UK eBayer if I would consider selling one (priced at what I consider a modest £2.75) at half price. I politely explained the work and time involved, and pointed her at Etsy and Ravelry, where most pattern prices are a lot higher than mine, and she came back and bought!

So are we simply a nation of tight-wallets who want everything at car-boot prices? Or is it something else...? Your thoughts gratefully received!

(To those interested, the actual bag above, fully lined and with magnetic snap fastening, is available here.)

Friday, 13 August 2010

Fast Fiction Friday 7

Comments or constructive crit welcomed. ©opyright, as always, remains solely with me, the author.


UNFORGIVEN

In the vomit stink from the toilet bowl she opens up the plastic bag, its contents reeking of catastrophe. Max’s phone nestles there, in fabrics washed, pressed, brushed with love before he drove into the winter bearing clown-wrapped gifts for his grandson.
   Numb fingers scroll through the phone’s address book, unsteady and unready, till she finds what she’s looking for.
   “Dad!” exclaims the remote voice. “Where on earth are you? We had to light Ben’s candles without you, or Mum would’ve been late for work. Are you still coming?”
   Head fizzes and hospital sounds recede. She leans against the toilet door, afraid she’ll faint. “Susie, it’s Helen, your dad’s…” The word ‘wife’ sticks in her throat.
   Through Susie’s screamed insults, Helen somehow manages to tell her of the accident. “I’ll ring again when the funeral’s arranged. I’m so sorry, pet.”
   “Don’t you pet me, you cow! I’ll arrange my dad’s funeral, not you, you husband-stealing bitch!”
   A handheld circular saw is set between the corpse’s thighs. With the noise of a hundred giant mosquitos it splits the spine like a tree branch, pausing only when it reaches the grey-beard chin. Then, guided by the vertical centre of the cold dead face, it continues till the spinning blade clears the hairless crown in a whirl of tiny splinters. With surgical precision, the organs are removed and bisected. Two coffins await the undertaker’s handiwork...
   Half-wishing it could be so, Helen burrows into the yawning plastic bag and hides her face in the Jazz-scented folds of Max’s car coat. She cries till there’s no mascara left.

©Rosie Rose

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Quick Macaroni Cheese With A Twist!

Serves 4 - 6

1lb / 500g penne pasta
1 large onion, chopped
1 can condensed tomato soup, large
6ozs mature Cheddar cheese

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the onion and pasta, and cook as directed on the pasta packet. Tip into a colander and drain.

Turn your grill to 'High' and warm a large ovenproof dish.

Tip the drained pasta and onion back into the pan. Stir in the condensed tomato soup and half the cheese. Mix thoroughly over a low heat to warm through, then tip the mixture into the warmed ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and grill till brown and bubbling.

Serve with a green salad or green vegetable such as broccoli.

Delicious!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

I've won a blog award!

As a blogging newbie, I was absolutely thrilled (not to mention shocked!) to find that the lovely Melissa at Hand Made Me (Lulliloo Designs) had selected me to receive the One Lovely Blog Award. Thank you so much, Mel! Do check out her gorgeous blog, everyone - it's well worth a visit. :-)

As a recipient, I'm now able to pass on this award to seven other blogs. An incredibly difficult choice as I love all those I follow, but here is my final list, in no particular order. To accept the award, these bloggers (once I've let them know they've won) must agree to pass it on to seven of their favourites.

Charlotte Hupfield Ceramics The blog of a talented ceramics designer and maker. Charlotte's fabulous work can be seen in UK galleries as well as online. Just gorgeous!

Much Ado About Paper The blog of Debbie Gill of Crafty_Mushroom, the designer and maker of fun and original greetings cards. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

Shpangle Mick's blog is always an engrossing read and filled with gorgeous photographs. He specialises in preserving your personal mementos, such as locks of hair, in beautiful handmade jewellery. He's also the founder of the recently-formed crafts directory, Crafts4Charity.

Womagwriter An absolute must for both budding and seasoned writers of commercial fiction. Bursting at the seams with the latest news, markets and guidelines, it's one of the best writing sites on the web.

Claire Ogden Designs Claire loves to hear your views on her work, and organizes occasional competitions with the most exquisite prizes - her stunning handcrafted jewellery and wedding pieces. And I mean stunning!

Angel Eden Already a multi-award winner (About.com's Mom Blogger of the Week, and Dorset Cereals' Little Blog Awards). Check it out to see why!

Six Sentences What can you say in six sentences? Submit to and/or read this highly entertaining blog, one of Writers' Digests' 101 Best Websites for Writers.

Do pay them all a visit, and enjoy them as much as I do. :-)

Friday, 6 August 2010

Fast Fiction Friday 6

This week's tale is Better Than Chocolate. An early version was published in Scribble magazine a few years ago, not long after I'd found the courage to show my own scribbles to the world for the first time. Rather longer than my usual FFFs, but a light-hearted easy read that should (hopefully!) give you a laugh on this wet and grey Friday.

Removed on Sunday to save on blog space. If anyone fancies a read, ask via the comments box and I'll put it up again. Alternatively, check out FFF 5 in the archive. :-)

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Yummy Green Bean Salad

Yummy recipe: Green bean salad with mint.

Our bean plants are producing fruit like there's no tomorrow! We've also got lots of mint, so here's a salad I'll be making tonight:

Serves 6 to 8

600g trimmed green beans (if very large, cut into manageable lengths)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

1. Steam the beans for 10 minutes, then refresh under cold running water. Shake well and pat dry. Leave to fully cool.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small pan, add garlic and fry quickly till crisp and lightly golden. Leave to cool.

3. Whisk together remaining oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and stir in the mint. Pour the mixture over the beans and mix well.

4. Tip into a serving bowl and scatter over the garlic in its oil. Chill if desired.

Steps 1 and 2 can be done the day before if wanted – put the beans and garlic (in its oil) in separate bowls, cover with cling film and store in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Four great reasons to own a wrist key fob!

Cat - Cat Looking Down Drain, My Keys Are Lost, Who Has A Magnet Pictures, Images and Photos

1. No more dropping your keys in puddles or down a drain! (Image by Fredcat.)

2. No more fumbling in bag or pockets when juggling shopping, kids and car doors. Wear the fob on your wrist and keep it there in use - no need to remove it to open your door.


3. Perfect for those times when you don't want or need to take a bag or jacket out with you - walking the dog, nipping out to post a letter, etc., etc. Simply wear your keys on your wrist.

4. No more difficulty finding your keys in the dark depths of that over-stuffed bag. With a gorgeous fob attached, they'll be easily found!

Pink floral wrist key fob or keyring, perfect teacher gift.

For details of Pink Flower and other beautiful handcrafted wrist fobs, visit BaggieAggie.com.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Fast Fiction Friday 5

©opyright, as ever, belongs solely to me, the author. Comments most welcome.


NOBODY DIED, DID THEY?

When I showed you the inventory, missing treasures highlighted, I first supposed you’d borrowed them, had forgotten to return them to the shelves. But your darting kohl-rimmed eyes told a different tale.
   Blind rage replaced numbing shock and I thrashed you with my latest copy of Book Collector – packed as ever with valuations and Wanted ads – till it fell in tatters from my aching hands. You cowered in a corner, cloaked in your oh so silky copper hair; hair you’d wrapped around my waking cock only that morning, like a Waterhouse siren in a pornographic shampoo ad.
   By the time I’d finished vomiting, you’d fled. I heard your car accelerate away, the silver sporty job you’d begged for, couldn’t live without. That Frostrup growl had me reaching for the bank cards every time.
   As you sit here now – taped to a dining-chair, napkin stuffed in your lipsticked mouth – it seems incredible that when the phone rang I prayed it was you. Oh yes, part of me longed to plunge these shiny blades into your throat – see how they glitter in the candlelight? – yet another, bigger, part wanted you back.
   But it wasn’t you; it was your mother: “All this fuss over a few old books," she said. "For heaven’s sake, nobody died, did they?” When she paused to suck on her cigarette, I heard you snigger in the background.
   After a long, punch-drunk moment I feigned acquiescence, remorse. And you thought I’d welcomed you home with open arms. Hah!
   Now, now, stop panicking; I’m cutting tape not flesh. Now I’ve got what I need to keep me warm at night, you can piss off. And stop that crying. You’re no Sinead O’Connor, but it doesn’t look half bad.

© Rosie Rose

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Baked Beetroot with Creme Fraiche and Dill

Recipe: Baked Beetroot with Creme Fraiche and Dill

Demolished last night with cold leftover chicken and salad leaves. Salad, beetroot and dill were fresh from the garden. Yum!

Serves 4

4 medium raw beetroot
Roughly chopped dill sprigs to garnish

FOR THE SAUCE
2 tsp coriander seeds, cracked
150ml creme fraiche
2 tsp creamed horseradish
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 200C / 400F / Gas 6. Wrap each beetroot in foil and bake for 1 - 1.5 hours until they feel tender when squeezed.

2. Meanwhile make the sauce: reserve one teaspoon coriander seeds, then mix together all the remaining ingredients.

3. Remove beetroot from oven, and split each one down the centre (quarter them if they're big enough). Top with the sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining coriander seeds and dill sprigs.

Just fab! And the beetroot leaves and stems are in a food bag in the fridge, waiting to be used as a vegetable side-dish tonight.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Handcrafted business card wallets



I listed the above, my first 2-pocket business card wallet, on Folksy this afternoon. It's so pretty, I can hardly bear to part with it!

The main fabric is Makower's Stash (called that for obvious reasons!) and I've lined the wallet in a white-and-navy cotton twill. I've fully interfaced for structure and durabilty, and there's a ribbon loop and button fastening. Would be perfect, I think, for fabric sellers and crafters alike, or anyone who likes pretty things.

You can find more details in my Folksy shop, BaggieAggietoo.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Quick Spelt + Rye Bread

Spelt flour is an ancient wheat. As it’s easier to digest, it can be eaten by most people who, like me, have an intolerance to modern wheat. Spelt contains gluten, so not suitable for coeliacs, but ideal for bread-making. However, the gluten is more fragile than that found in modern wheat, so it won’t stand up to lengthy kneading and baking. This loaf recipe is the final result after much experimentation, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.


QUICK SPELT & RYE BREAD

(Makes one MEDIUM loaf on a FAST-BAKE programme in your bread machine.)

125g rye flour

375g stoneground spelt (or a mix of white spelt and stoneground spelt, or all white – I generally use half of each)

320ml warm water

1.5 tablespoons olive oil

1.5 level teaspoons salt

1.5 level teaspoons fast-action dried yeast

Mix the spelt and rye flours together in a large bowl.
Add the water to your bread-machine’s pan, then add the salt and olive oil.
Spoon in the mixed flours.
Make a well in the centre of the flours and sprinkle in the yeast.
Put the pan in your bread-machine and set to medium / fast-bake programme. If using white spelt in your flour mix, set crust setting to ‘Dark’.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Bumblebees Have Smelly Feet (and other facts)

Apart from having smelly feet, bees are imperative for man's survival on Earth.Yes, it’s true - they produce oily secretions to inform other bees which flowers have already been visited. Amazing creatures, but not just because of their smelly feet!

Albert Einstein apparently said that humanity would die out in four years without them. A terrifying thought, isn’t it? But he was almost certainly right. Bees, the most important pollinating insects, are crucial to the entire ecosystem. Agriculture – and therefore our food supply – depends on them, so no wonder their recent dramatic decline has become a cause for global concern.

So what’s responsible? Habitat loss, pesticides and disease. Also, our recent poor summers have accelerated this manmade decline. In 2008 alone a third of all bee colonies in the UK were wiped out. One third.

It’s pretty clear, then, that bee consciousness is vital. We all need to put out the welcome mat.

The simplest way to do this is to plant bee-friendly plants and flowers to encourage bees into our gardens and neighbourhoods. If you don’t have a garden, a windowbox or a hanging basket by the front door will do nicely. It’s amazing how much you can squash into them!

We should also reduce the use of pesticides in our gardens, by companion planting, using other green methods and products, and encouraging beneficial insects and other creatures. (If on the odd occasion pesticides are unavoidable, it’s best to apply them in late evening, when bees are less active.)

Installing bee houses (bamboo for solitary bees, or boxes for social bees) is also helpful – google to see where to buy or how to make your own.

Those of us with adequate space can set up a hive or two to help the honeybee. You don’t need to live in the country to do this – all you need is the right conditions. And think of all that free honey – one hive can produce up to fifty jars in a season! And if you don’t have space, why not adopt a hive?

I hope I’ve convinced you that all of us can do something positive to halt the bees’ decline, and also have fun in the process. After all, what could be nicer than relaxing in the garden amid the soporific buzzing of bees – all busy wiping their smelly feet on your welcome mat.

© Rosie Rose

(The Bees wrist key fob in the above photo is available here.)

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Dear Dogs and Cats...


A friend emailed this to me. Still laughing!

PET RULES
To be posted VERY LOW on the refrigerator door - nose height.

Dear Dogs and Cats,

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years -- canine or feline attendance is not required.

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough!

To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our front door:

To All Non-Pet Owners Who Visit & Like to Complain About Our Pets:

1. They live here. You don't.
2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. (That's why they call it "fur"niture.)
3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
4. To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly.

Remember: In many ways, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:
1. Eat less
2. Don't ask for money all the time
3 Are easier to train
4. Normally come when called
5. Never ask to drive the car
6. Don't hang out with drug-using friends
7. Don't smoke or drink
8. Don't have to buy the latest fashions
9. Don't want to wear your clothes
10. Don't need a "gazillion" dollars for college.

And finally,
11. If they get pregnant, you can sell their children.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

My wrist key fobs featured


My Citrus wrist key fob is featured today on Do You Etsy. The zingy citrus colours still make my mouth water! And my Daisy fob was featured last Folksy Friday on The Little Bead Box blog. I adore this Kaffe Fasset fabric with its jewel-like colours. Must see if I can get some more!

The idea for these was born when I found myself juggling kids and shopping, and struggling to find my keys in my bag or pockets. After dropping said keys (invariably in a puddle...!) for the umpteenth time, I decided it was time for action. So I designed and made myself one, using gorgeous fabrics. When complete strangers began asking where they could get one too, I realised I wasn't the only one with this problem, and BaggieAggietoo, my second Folksy shop, was born.

As can be seen, these are not made with webbing and hardware clamps, and therefore dashed off in a few minutes, production-line style. My washable and durable fobs are made with multiple layers of designer fabrics, often vintage, and two layers of interfacing. Some will also feature unusual braids and other trimmings. Matching or contrasting covered buttons feature, and the quality nickel-plated steel hardware has been sourced for its discreet simplicity. Time and care is lavished on each and every one. I also offer a custom service for anyone who requires an alternative colour or fabric combination, at no extra cost.

The shop is very new, and other accessories will be added gradually. Do stop by if you have spare moment as I'd love to know what you think. :-)

Monday, 12 July 2010

Water Is Fattening

WATER IS FATTENING

Mum says water is fattening –
she heard it on daytime TV.
I’m sure she must have misunderstood
so I tell her I disagree.
But she gives a loud disdainful sniff
and says she knows she’s right –
eight glasses of water a day
are making her hips look a fright.

I mention her love of Dundee cake
and her passion for full-fat cheese,
then remind her how much she adores clotted cream
but she protests, “Now, darling, please.
They’re little treats I have now and then
and I’m sure they can’t possibly matter.
It’s water I ought to cut down on now
because that’s what’s making me fatter.”

I go to her fridge for milk (full fat)
as Mum brews up the tea,
and there upon the second shelf down
I see Stilton, Cheddar and Brie.
Not tiny portions for one, of course –
they would feed her street for weeks.
And when I spot the fresh-cream eclairs
a blush spreads over her cheeks.
“I normally only buy one box
but three-for-the-price-of-two
was Tesco’s generous offer today
so what else could I do...?”

“But the ‘Use by’ date is today, Mum –
are the neighbours invited to tea?”
“Good God, no! Eclairs are my favourites –
I’m saving them all for me.
Don’t worry, I’ve worked out a clever plan
so I can eat them all at once:
If I give up water completely today,
I know I won’t put on an ounce.”

© Rosie Rose

Sunday, 11 July 2010

For Sale: One Silver Cat



 FOR SALE: ONE SILVER CAT

For Sale: One silver cat
adorable and not too fat
but she scratches the hell out of sofas
I’ll make no bones about that.

She’s lost a few of her lives
because she brings me out in hives
when she claws holes in the carpets
and eats all my chives.
The basils have all turned black
(she pees on them behind my back)
and last night she poo’d in the parsley pot –
I hope it’s survived the attack.

I can’t visit the bathroom at night
without switching on all the lights
in case she’s sicked up a fur-ball.
(I’ve stepped in a few, all right!)

But this morning was the last straw
when I woke up at half-past four
to find a dead rat on my pillow.
I just can’t take anymore!

If you can put up with all that,
you can have my silver cat
but I may come round to reclaim her

because I’ll miss her – despite all that. :-)

© Rosie Rose

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Swiss Chard Recipe

A delicious Swiss chard recipe.
Like so many veg growers, OH and I have an enormous glut of Swiss chard (and other beets), thanks to the cold spring we experienced this year, conditions they apparently love. So here's a recipe I'll be trying out today:





Ingredients

2 large bunches Swiss chard
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 strips thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Directions

Slice the stems into 1-inch pieces and reserve. Stack the chard leaves into a pile. Roll together into a bundle and slice into 1/2-inch ribbons.

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and saute until browned, rendering the fat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add chard stems, cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then season with salt and pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.

Begin to add the chard ribbons in batches. Once the chard wilts down, add the next batch and the balsamic vinegar. Stir occasionally until completely tender, about 5 minutes.

Serves 3 to 4.

(I'll be serving this for dinner with braised lamb's liver and red peppers. Yum!)

Monday, 5 July 2010

Keywords - learning curve or glitch...?

I googled 'handmade shoulder bags' this morning, and was happy to see, on Page 2, a Folksy link containing eleven pages of said items. However, I was not so happy to find that my shoulder bags weren't on any of these eleven Folksy pages - despite the fact that all three words were in my keyword lists.

So I did some investigation and experimentation and eventually found where the problem lay - I'd separated each keyword with a comma as instructed while listing, ie. handmade,shoulder,bag. Big mistake, as it seems that certain words, like 'handmade', can stand alone, but 'bag' and 'shoulder' can't - the two words must be separated by a space, ie. turned into a keyphrase. Now I've done that, my shoulder bags appear on those eleven Folksy pages. (Oh, and I've added the single word 'bag' as well as 'shoulder bag' - just to make sure I've covered all angles!)

This seems utterly bizarre to me. Is it a Folksy glitch, or just another example of my ongoing struggle with all things webby...?!?

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Pinch Punch

Is it really July 1st...? I'm always amazed at how quickly time flies, yet when I was a child, Monday to Friday seemed forever.

And Christmas, well, it seemed a century away; if only that was so now! In approximately three months, the shops will be putting up decorations and setting up seasonal displays. Is it only me who thinks Christmas should begin arriving no earlier than December 1st...?

And not only is it July 1st, it's also Thursday so almost a week has gone by without a single piece of fabric or length of thread having passed through my hands. Not through choice, of course, as recent posts show. Ah well. Maybe, just maybe, Figure8 bag will see some action later today!

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

You'd never know we were in a recession...

I rang a domestic cleaning company an hour and a half ago. The receptionist was strangely unable to tell me exactly what services they offer, and said someone would ring me back shortly. I've just phoned again as I don't regard an hour and a half as 'shortly', and asked when I could expect a call as I have things to do. Was amazed to hear that the receptionist had 'no idea' as they were 'very busy'. So courting possible new clients isn't top of the busy list then, for a company called Time For You...

OH home from hospital.

And it's all very difficult as he can do so little - he can't even open his meds packaging! So much to do as a result of his accident, I don't know where to start. I've bathed him and towelled him down, helped him dress and fed him breakfast, fed the birds and cat, watered where necessary in the garden and greenhouse, so I guess it's time to sort me out now!

Hopefully will get some time to maybe finish the Figure8 purse, but who knows...

Monday, 28 June 2010

My first blog and first post!

Not too sure what I'm doing yet, and OH is currently undergoing surgery, so brain cells aren't on full power this morning.

Another fabulously sunny day, though, and my newest bag design is coming along nicely. I think I'll call it Figure8, for reasons that will become obvious once I post a pic!

Rain forecast further west later. Hope it doesn't reach us - I have an arduous bus-and-shank's-pony trip to the hospital this afternoon, to visit OH. Really worried about him, but should hopefully get an update when I phone the ward at lunchtime.

Time to make some phone calls and tweet !