Thursday, 31 July 2014

Fort Hamham

I present to you, my latest foray into hamster architecture:  Fort Hamham! This was made using pretty much exactly 150 popsicle sticks (sadly, I bought these new and cannot boast of having eaten all those lollies myself) and PVA glue. I've seen so many amazing lollipop houses for small animals and I had to try making my own. In hindsight, 150 sticks was nowhere near enough, this isn't particularly big and there was loads more I wanted to do with it. Next time: at least 300!

Once it was all fully dried and ready to be nibbled by little hamster teeths, we decided to give it to Sputnik. (Pintsize will be getting his own, but this one is quite spacious inside and Pintsize seems to prefer hidey holes which are a bit more compact.) We found a home for it at the bottom end of his Detolf, and he went to explore it straight away.

As you can see, the Detolf is high enough that there's still no chance of a little robo hamster adventuring over the top.

The lollipop sticks won't hold up to any major chewing, but neither of the boys are really chewers...

 ... she says, as the first thing Sputnik does is start nomming on the fence! (This photo kills me, just look at his adorable little face!) He lost interest pretty quickly when it wasn't good to eat. As long as the popsicle sticks don't splinter too badly and leave sharps edges, there's no cause for worry if they do nibble on them. Likewise, PVA is non-toxic and water soluble and shouldn't be a problem if they accidentally munch on it.

I thought the little balcony would be a good place for his milk bone dog chew (good for wearing down little hamster teefs!) The bedding they're on at the moment is Fitch bedding, which is paper based and my absolute favourite thing right now.

I can't wait to make Pintsize his own little fort, and I'll take some in progress photos this time so you can see how I've been constructing it. (I've been pinning some popsicle stick inspiration on this Pinterest board, if you want to have a peek.) Sputnik has now had his fort for almost a week, and it's gone down a treat. Hes not interested in chewing it at all now, he likes to eat his dinner on the top floor, and he sleeps inside it every day. A success, I think!


Sunday, 27 July 2014

On Ilkla Moor Baht 'At

...or rather, on Ilkley moor with a hat, because it was unreasonably good weather and I worry for my poor noggin. So I guess the song maybe doesn't apply! It's such incredibly perfect weather at the moment and I have all these good intentions involving long, energetic walks enjoying the scenery, but... wow, it's so hot. We make it about twenty metres and need to have a lie down in the shade. Maybe I'll save my good intentions for autumn!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Squidlet Amigurumi Pattern

When I first made squidlets years ago on my old blog, a few people asked me for a pattern, and um, here it is! Two years later... oops. Anyway, I had a super rough pattern saved on my laptop, which I ran through and tidied up for public consumption (my pattern notation conventions are unusual, at best) and added another squidlet to my collection in the process!

Any size yarn and hook is fine, but I generally use DK weight yarn and a 4mm hook. You'll also want some animal eyes and stuffing.

Disclaimer: I'm terrible at writing patterns, so if any of this doesn't make sense, please let me know! This is all US crochet abbreviations/stitches. (UK ones make no sense to me at all. Not intuitive!)

This whole pattern is working in the round, so you'll need a stitch marker or something similar (I just use a piece of yarn) unless you want to do a lot of very tedious counting.

Start with a magic loop (a slip knot will work fine, but magic loop is much neater and well worth learning, so get thyself to youtube, my hooky friends!) then chain 2

Row 1: 5 sc into magic loop

Row 2 : 2 sc into each sc (10 stitches in total)

Row 3: *2sc into sc, 1 x sc* repeat (15 stitches)

Row 4: *2sc into sc, 2 x sc* repeat (20 stitches)

Row 5: *2sc into sc, 3 x sc* repeat (25 stitches)

Rows 6-9 : sc (25 stitches)

Row 10: *3 x sc, sc2tog* repeat (20 stitches)

Row 11: *2 x sc, sc2tog* repeat (15 stitches)

Row 12: (This row is worked only into the back loop of the stitch) *5dc in sc, sc* repeat for 7 shells, then  sl st.

(Now is the time to pop the eyes in. I like to place them 2 or 3 rows up from the 'tentacles' and 5 or 6 stitches apart. You can also hide the loose end of yarn from where you started in the body of the squidlet by pulling it through.)

Row 13: (into the other half of the stitch on the bottom of the squidlet) *2 x sc, sc2tog* repeat

(This is a good point at which to stuff the squidlet.)

Row 14: *sc, sc2tog* repeat

Row 15: *sc2tog* repeat

Row 16: close the small hole that remains with a sl st through the opposite side of the opening, finish off, and weave in the loose end.

Ta-da! Your squidlet is ready to adventure! Please do make as many as you want and take them adventuring (squidlets love to adventure) but please don't sell your squidlets, pass them off as your own, etc etc. :)

By varying the yarn weight you can also make a GIANT SQUIDLET, which is extra cuddly. This one below was made using Rowan Big Wool.

Go forth with your squidlet friends!


Monday, 21 July 2014


Today, I acquired some marimo! Marimo are magical little balls of algae that form on the bottom of lakes in Scotland, Iceland, Japan & Estonia. 'Marimo' is their Japanese name, over here I've mostly seen them called 'moss balls', but marimo is a much cuter word, and also, they're not actually moss. (I have a strange attachment to algae, because that used to be what autocorrect changed my name to. One of my friends just gave up and started calling me algae. I'll answer to it in a pinch.)

Marimo are super easy to take care of! They prefer to live somewhere relatively cool and dark, so after taking their photos in the good light by the window, I have found them a nice little spot in one of my expedit cubby holes.

They are quite happy in tap water (most tap water shouldn't have so much chlorine in it that they will mind) and need it changed once a week or so. Every so often, it's good to give them a clean and reshape by gently squeezing and rolling them. (Normally, they'd keep their shape rolling about on the bottom of lakes.) I did this when I brought them home, and wow they are so squishy and soft! I think I have a problem with anything that vaguely resembles a tribble, and these little fluffballs are baby water tribbles for sure!

The glass bowl was from Asda for £4, the glass pebbles were also from Asda at £1 a bag (I used 3), the fake purple plant was £2.50 from Pets at Home, and the marimo (also Pets at Home) were £3.99 each. So, the whole thing was under £20, which I think is pretty great, and it looks super cute!


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Throwback Thursday: Alice the Baby Lifestyle Blogger?!

I was going through some of my old stuff in a never ending quest for organisation, and I found this little gem. My first attempts at lifestyle blogging?!

Here you can see some formative food and toy blogging (I still own the tinkletots today!) RE: the 'strange sausage', I was on holiday in Scotland near Oban, and I've never had a lorne sausage before. I was confused.

Here you can see my first loot post. Mostly toys, which is still pretty standard. (The Sylvanians are all still around, too!)

In the above, I think I got sunburned that day, hence my seeming aggression towards the one cloud in the sky. As far as I was concerned, it obviously wasn't doing its job correctly.

I've also included one of the photos I took around this time, of some of my Sylvanians. That's even a genuine light leak on the right, no photoshop needed. Incredible. I was ahead of my time.

I showed Gavin this little notebook and he thought it was hilarious, and told me I haven't changed a bit. (It's sort of true.)


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Le Tour de Yorkshire

Le Tour de France did a few stages in Yorkshire the weekend before last, which was very exciting! Charlotte Pamplemousse dressed up specially for the occasion in her very best cycling helmet. On the Saturday, we got up bright and early (ew) to see the Grand Depart go down Scott Hall road after setting off from the centre of Leeds (we decided not to venture into town, it was super busy) and on the Sunday, we popped through to Mytholmroyd to catch it again! I didn't really get any good photos of the peloton, wouldn't you know they cycle really fast. So I plonked all the photos I took into some fun little gifs below.

It was such a great atmosphere and an amazing turn-out, and Yorkshire looked super duper gorgeous on the telly. Everywhere I passed through the few months leading up to the Tour was decorated so beautifully! Special shout out to Harrogate who knitted over 22,000 little woolly jumpers that I absolutely loved. Good job, people of Yorkshire! (Apart from that one guy next to me when the caravan came past and was willing to rugby tackle me for a free packet of Haribo. You, sir, need to get a grip.)


Saturday, 12 July 2014

Iwako Hamster Erasers

It's been three whole months since the hammies came to live with us (which also means they are coming out of the hamster teenage years, my babies are growing up! *tear*) so here are three baby hamster erasers I bought this week to celebrate tiny rodents taking over my life! These cuties are Iwako erasers, and will definitely never be used to rub anything out. I couldn't possibly bring myself to actually use them. (Does anyone?!)

I bought these from Blott, which also does eraser reward cards, which is just incredibly dangerous - how dare you, Blott, honestly. I've thus far managed to avoid adding adorable erasers to the long list of things I want to own in large numbers, but they're really twisting my arm.

I think my eraser downfall is going to be with the tiny food, which makes amazing doll photo props. (Or the slightly more human-sized biscuits which it will be a genuine struggle not to try to eat.) There are also, apparently, even more colours of hamster! I must have them all.


Monday, 7 July 2014

Easy Bunting for Lazy People

I made some super Lazy Bunting this week, and thought I'd share. This isn't quite a tutorial - a true tutorial would not be in the spirit of Lazy Bunting - it's more of a vague summary of the things I did that you could also do too, if you wanted. So, are you feeling kinda lazy but want to make something fun and summery? I give you: Lazy Bunting!

I've had these polka dot fat quarters hanging around for so long, it was about time they started a new life as exciting (lazy) bunting. I used five different colours, you can use however many you can be bothered to acquire. I'm sure Lazy Bunting would look great with less colours. Or more. Lazy Bunting has no rules! The less effort you put into sourcing this fabric, the more Lazy Bunting points you get. 

You will also need bias tape and some pinking shears. Cut out a bunch of triangles in your colours using the pinking shears. I used a cardboard template for the bunting - I was so lazy I actually got Gavin to make this for me, as I couldn't be bothered to even do the necessary triangle maths. I would recommend delegating this task in the true spirit of Lazy Bunting.

Then, you will need to iron all the bunting triangles flat. I stacked them up for maximum laziness. You'll also need to iron the bias tape in half, which is more fiddly and if you're feeling as lazy as I was, you'll need to complain loudly a lot about how much effort it is. Then, space your triangles out along the length of the bias tape, tucking and pinning them inside at regular intervals. I only used one pin per triangle, which was actually too lazy. I would recommend two because either end of the triangles kept popping out. Ease up on the laziness a little to ensure you can be even lazier in the later stages.

The next step is to get your sewing machine (hand sewing is possible but definitely not in the spirit of Lazy Bunting) and just sew along the bias tape. Easy peasy. I didn't even bother using matching thread. I just used whatever was in there last. Maximum laziness!

Now you are ready to display your Lazy Bunting! I (very lazily) tacked it to the wall above the hamster tank, because it looked all bare and lonely. I've become determined to make the flat as colourful and bright as possible to counteract the walls. They're a sort of off-white-not-cream-not-yellow-just-dirty-looking shade and there are so many stains on them, urgh. A pox on landlords with no taste in paint colours!

(Not sure the hammies appreciate the bunting, but their interior decorating leave a lot to be desired.)


Thursday, 3 July 2014

Throwback Thursday: The Very First Misadventure

I'm a sucker for nostalgia, and especially photographic nostalgia, so I thought it would be fun to start a blog series where I post stuff a few times a month from the (admittedly not terribly distant) past that I either forgot to blog about, or blogged about years ago (on other blogs) and want to revisit. I just bought a new computer (very beautiful shiny new ooooooh) and I'm in the middle of the painstaking process of transferring all my photos across and organising them properly. It's making me all kind of nostalgic and so pleased that I take so many photos. Note to self: you will never look back and think there were too many. Go snap happy!

This Throwback Thursday is Alice & Gavin's very first Together Misadventure, back in April 2009. Yes, baby teenage Alice & Gavin. Terrifying. We went on a day trip to Edinburgh Zoo organised by our then student halls, and I remember thinking it was super awesome. We were especially taken with Rainbow Landings, which is now closed, sadly! I think it was too expensive for them to run. It was basically a big tent full of free ranging lorikeets, where you could buy little pots of nectar to feed them. They were so friendly! And colourful! Ahhh such pretty birdies!

There's baby teenage Alice & Gavin being utterly charmed by these beautiful birdies! Baby teenage Alice looking like she rolled out of bed and can't dress herself. Baby teenage Gavin looking... much the same, actually.

The penguin parade was quite simply the most magnificent thing I have ever seen. They were loving it. They were definitely strutting, there's no other word for it. It was the best thing.

This also marks poor, unsuspecting Gavin's first foray into being my doll holder. Poor child. Little did he know... Elliot was very much my Blythe of the moment in 2009. She's currently... in pieces, actually, which I should fix! 

Below are some truly awful selfies that should really be destroyed, but I had a nice day and I want to remember it, so I'll put them in. Just very, very small. (We take a much better double selfie these days, I think. These were our formative attempts.)