White Christmas!

Okay a little early – but we had an awesome snowfall last night. Huge white flakes.

This is the view from the bus stop.  It sort of looks like rain, but you can see in the beam of light that it’s white… so pretty.

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And this is the inside of the bus – top deck. Look at the snow!
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All my parcels for the fibre club have gone out, as well as all the patterns for the sock club. Yay!

We were over at J & A’s for a pre Christmas dinner with Tristan, Paul, Irmgard & Koki. It was so nice to see little Oliver, and hang out with everyone.  I left my brain at home, along with my wallet and ran into a spot of trouble when I gassed up at the petrol station.  I totally forgot I’d left my wallet in Deuce’s walking bag (with his poop bags) until I went to pay. Ugh. So embarassing. Thankfully the chap was really nice and we went back after dinner (with DH and his wallet in tow) to pay my bill.   Sigh thank goodness for faith in our fellow human beings.

This weekend David and I caught up on some shopping, and organising. We finally settled on a layout for the living room… with our new floors! No photos as I left my camera at J & A’s.  Will post when I have my camera back.

We picked up a Wii station. Or is it just Wii? I’m so out of the loop I don’t even know what to call it. We almost didn’t – I was gutted to find that HMV raised it’s prices from 149.99 to 179.99 overnight. I’d done so much looking around – it was the best price on the high street and online! but then after finding out about the price hike, I sulked about it until we got to John Lewis… where it was on sale at 149.99. So happy!

Sunday we headed over to Henley for a Christmas BBQ. Yes you read right, a bbq.  That’s Simon with our rib of beef (wrapped in foil to cook a little longer) and sausages.  It was cold outside, but alot of fun. We had mulled wine, and sat under a heater.  A little visit to the local woods for some improvised sledding on a plastic table top and a piece of thin mdf board.  Deuce came too and had a great time running around (though he was so cold before he spent the whole time holed up in my coat).

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So back to last night – the photos above were taken when I ventured out for knit night up in St Pancras. It was cold but worth heading out.   Mulled wine, mulled cider. mmmmm!  I’m not knitting quite as much as I used to –  i’ve got a friction burn on my knuckle!  Taking a break until it heals.

Today I met up with an old colleague, and met her baby! Oh my he’s so cute. Just like a kewpie doll. Long long eyelashes, and just so engaging. Haha it’s like baby spring time – they seem to be popping up everywhere.

Meanwhile the countdown begins – tomorrow I’m off to A’s for a churro making session, and then secret santa at ours. and then christmas eve and christmas day. David always roasts a goose. soooo looking forward to it.

In the meanwhile hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!

Oh yes and totally forgot to rant.  Paypal is making me crazy. First they put a limitation on my paypal account because so many people couldn’t possibly want to pay to take knitting lessons. Oh no, it must be money laundering or drugs or god knows what.  So I send them all the required info (drivers licence, utility bill, etc etc) and after escalating the matter twice (having heard not a peep from them, having been requested to fax things to them… when no fax number is provided, having been asked to upload documents but yet their uploader only takes jpegs and gifs… having been asked for documents which don’t exist in the UK (business licence anyone? do they mean certificate of incorporation perhaps? oh the list goes on). Finally the limitation was removed, only to have a reserve replace it, a reserve of over £4,000 plus 100% of all payments going through paypal from today onwards, which they want to to keep until 30 days AFTER the event. In July. 2010.  Nice.  So no way to actually use money paid to for example, pay the deposit for the venue. To pay for event merchandise. To pay for our admin assistant. To pay expenses.  I mean seriously??  Thank god I swept most of the payments through to the business bank account so I can do those things and not worry too much about the money held hostage by Paypal.  I’ve also changed our payment gateway to only Sagepay going forwards. This way everything goes to the business bank account where it can actually, god forbid, be used to pay for insurance, for the venue, etc etc.  I need to make a few refunds but can do those by cheque instead of directly from paypal. Less convenient but doable.  Have now removed all traces of my bank account details, card details etc from paypal, cancelled any direct debits I have for them as I feel, from this experience, that they are a law unto themselves and are answerable to no one but themselves.  Very worrying when they are supposed to be equivalent to an online bank and handle a lot of funds.  Anyways, I found the email addresses of their CEO, of their compliance team, of their executive escalation contact and hope that someone sensible will be able to help me.

Oh and this article came to my attention.  Oh dear. What has the world come to?

Pugs Who Ate Owner Get New Home: Police Say Dogs’ Owner Committed Suicide

Berated….

Having been berated (gently) twice, I thought I ought to get my bum in gear and update my sad neglected blog.  On opening my editor, i found an a old post form the 22nd November. Eegads. So here it is:
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22 Nov: It’s been a busy week – the highlight was an evening with Ysolda and Sarah. Ysolda has just published her second book of patterns, Whimsical Little Knits, and she was at Stash for a book signing, with ALL the samples from her two books. Amazing.  We spent the first part of the evening with Ysolda busy signing books, then as the crowd thinned, we went to town trying on her garments.  We tried on Coraline (which though a size 34, fit everyone just fine.  And looked great on too!) and all the hats.  I have a big head. Not just ego, (it has recently dawned on me that I’m not as modest as i like to think. Must work on that!) but actually I have a big noggin. None of the hats fit me!  It was so much fun seeing what shapes suited whom. 

Next up was a trip to the legendary Wollmeise.  Absolutely amazing to meet Claudia in the flesh and to see her amazing walls of colour (photos from Arianna Halshaw!).

 Wollmeise Heaven

  Wollmeise Heaven
Wollmeise Heaven
*****
And now it’s the 15 December and Christmas is sneaking up on me.  In my defense it’s been a hectic few weeks, but still, not a good excuse to leave my poor mom searching for scraps of information about me in friend’s blogs! (Hi mom! happy now? heehee)

Cookie & I launched Knit Nation (phew!) at the beginning of December. Yaaay!  It was not without some sacrifice to the God of Sleep –  Cookie pulled an all nighter just before flying to Thailand, and I did the 5 am shift to do a few final checks before pressing the big green button for a 6 am launch.  Nerve wracking but so exciting to see it all work and nothing really fall apart! 

Had a lovely afternoon with Barbara catching up and drinking mulled wine. I enjoy it so much and everytime a girls’ afternoon is over I am always excited for our next catch up.  By the way, B just had her review of Ginger Strand’s Inventing Niagara published in Places Journal — a web-based journal of contemporary architecture and urbanism, in partnership with the Design Observer Group.  Great article – pop over and have a read.  It occured to me in a Marvel comic sort of way that the radiation in the Niagara region could be the reason for B and her St Catharine’s troop of friend’s genius.  Paul always says it must have been something in the water… maybe it was!

Meanwhile for us we’ve finally had our floors done – it’s been a year in the waiting since last Christmas our floors were damaged by some flooding from next door.

It went from this (all the wood is in thos white boxes under the window)
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To this where all the old wood floor was ripped up and placed neatly in piles

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In the space of a day.  Then they started to lay the floor – a wood called panga panga. I didn’t choose it just for the name, though was tempted as it makes me smile just to say it. Panga panga. Panga. Panga!

Anyways, it’s a tough old wood, which is great as we’re pretty hard on our floors (when I say we, i guess I mean I since I move stuff around so much).

They started laying the floors last week – two days  for the hall way and another few days for the living room.

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They put on the final coat of oil today and its been drying up. The colours really pop up after the oiling – much warmer, richer and deeper.  Very cool. Will take a photo in the morning before the guys put the furniture back in place! Very very pleased – and despite the fact that having the sofa in the kitchen along with alot of other random pieces of furniture meant we had to get takeaway for dinner the last couple nights, I really miss our sofa and being able to just chill in the living room so am totally looking forwrad to getting use of our space again. Yay!

here’s a gratuitous shot of the deuce being a sleepy piggy.  He’s more cat than dog, and sort of frog shaped. All belly with skinny little legs and huge round eyes. But we love him for it all the more.
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It hasn”t been all toil and work for me thank goodness.  One of the reasons I shut Socktopus was to regain my life balance.  And, for the same reason earlier in November why I had to withdraw from the Socktopus-Stash collaboration.  Sadly it became apparent that I could not give Stash the hours it deserved, on top of dividing my dwindling basket of hours to sock club, Knit Nation, hubby, puggy and friends.  

So first on my visit list was my dear friend Jenny and her cutie pie son.  A lovely afternoon at Ottolenghi (of course) ensued.  He was so charming and sweet all afternoon.  And he let me eat all the cake too. what a gentleman!
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I also went on a chocolate making course with Geri this past Saturday. Pretty cool – we learned about the cocao bean…
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cocao nibs…
 
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tempering…
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mixing…

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…and conching. The photos are of the same chocolate, with the chocolate on the right having had more conching (remember that scene in charlie and the chocolate factory about the chocolate waterfall – integrating air into the chocolate? That’s conching, and the oxygen it introduces to chocolate helps to give it a smoother rounder flavour) giving a smoother, shinier chocolate, left the original with less conching, a bit gritty and not at all shiny.
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We made a heck of a lot of chocolate, using Callebaut chocolate (lovely high cocoa content – Bernard was starting with some seriously great assets when he moved to Calgary!).  Anyways thanks Geri for a fab Saturday.  

I also got in a last shipment of yarn – including fabulous Crown Mountain Farms Sock Hop yarn – hand spun yarn that flies off the shelves whenever Klaus puts any up on his site.

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From left to right
Stand By Me, Hey Jude, In the Air Tonight

sh1
L-R
Born to be Wild, Layla.

£18 a 3oz skein (200yds)
If you’re interested, email me at Alice AT socktopus DOT co DOT uk

This week is a big week for me – the last club parcel for the sock club went out on Monday and the last fibre parcel will also be going out on Friday.  Which means, next week – PURE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY!  YAY!  I might actually get to send out the Christmas cards I made with Marja a few weeks back.  Monday a day out with the girls at Wahaca and a spot of mall rat thrown in (of course!).  There were a few fruit flies hanging about where we were and we spent the time trying to kill the fruit flies by clapping like maniacs at random intervals.  We must have looked rather insane to the diners below.

Tomorrow lunch in the country, dinner with old friends up in Golders Green, Thursday parcelling & knit night at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, and the whole weekend to hang out with D & D.  Bliss!