Thursday, 30 December 2010

So long, Santa

 Well, Christmas came and went in the blink of an eye, as it seems to do every year. We are in that strange time in between Xmas and New Year, where we don't feel like doing much other than snuggling up on the sofa with a cup of tea, good book or film to watch. I have been reading Eat Pray Love (have not seen the film but heard it isn't great, although the book was a good read) and Pride and Prejudice, which is especially enjoyable since I watched the BBC tv series again only recently. We have recorded a few things on Sky Plus but haven't been bothered to see too much, although we watched the new Upstairs Downstairs series which was fantastic - even the kids stopped playing and joined us on the sofa to watch it. My husband got a Kindle for Xmas so he has been reading a lot too. In fact, the only time I have been out of the house has been to do the food shopping (luckily extremely quiet at the supermarket) and to do a bit of sales shopping. 

 I got this 1950s style diary from M&S - a bargain at £2. It is packed full of useful info in the front, including detailed first aid advice, useful telephone numbers and the usual conversion charts. Very handy. I have always automatically bought a calendar for the kitchen but I thought I would try a diary this year - I am hoping it will prevent lots of paperwork from floating around the house. Doubtful!
 I also got some black suede boots which I was very pleased about as I don't often manage to find shoes/boots that fit me well. I have quite narrow feet and I hate uncomfortable shoes so shoe shopping proves quite difficult and I avoid it at all costs. Not entirely sure the kids were too pleased to be with me in the packed shoe shop.

And what I got for Xmas this year was...
... something I have wanted for a long time and which I hope will see a lot of use over the coming year. My first job will be to dig out a coat I started making a very long time ago - I am embarrassed to say how long ago it was, but I need a new winter coat so it must be finished. I have been buying old dressmaking patterns from the 1950s onwards at charity shops so I am sure I will be making a few items from these too. I am really looking forward to making my own clothes over the coming months and I hope I will get to wear them too - this is all dependent on how well they turn out though.

My other big project for 2011 is the garden, something I mentioned in my previous post. I have already got a gardening book from the library for inspiration. I need all the help I can get, but have at least decided on the style of garden that I prefer and that my non green fingers prefer - a woodland garden. It also fits in nicely with what we currently have - a bit of grass surrounded by tall trees and mixed hedgerow. I have no idea how it's going to turn out but I will have a go and learn from my mistakes. First of all, I will need to prepare a tortoise enclosure for my 3 tortoises, which will be right next to the decking so we can keep an eye on them from inside. All we need now is some dry mild weather. Not likely!

Friday, 24 December 2010


Merry Christmas

I have been unable to blog for a while, what with snow, illness (youngest daughter again) and lots of last minute stuff that needs doing, that I think I will have plenty of time to do, but ends up being a bit of a rush. However, we have had time to do lots of lovely crafty things, and my wonderful sister was here to join in. We had lots of fun making the above crackers, although I think I must have found the most heavy duty crepe paper on ebay - I don't think anyone will be able to pull these crackers. Also sticky tape did not seem to want to stick to the crepe paper and we kept forgetting to put important stuff in like the snaps or the jokes so had to undo them. Admittedly we were rather more enjoying the making than being efficient! 
 We also made a batch of homemade mince pies (yum - have been eating them for breakfast instead of cereal) and our traditional reindeer cakes - chocolate fairy cakes topped with melted chocolate, glace cherry for a nose and curly wurly antlers. Very popular with young children and they taste delicious too. We have yet to make the yule log - the shop bought chocolate swiss roll is sat waiting, but the kids don't seem too bothered about making it. Never fear, my sister has offered to make it on Christmas morning - I think she is secretly looking forward to it! Can't wait to see how it turns out.
 Here is the Xmas bunting I made with some beautiful 1950's style fabric that I got at the Knitting and Stitching Show. I bought some gingham and pine cone fabric from the local sewing shop to go with it. I'm really pleased with the end result.
Here is my little cute Christmas Tree I got from the local garden centre a couple of weeks ago. It reminds me of the old fashioned trees that Woolworths sold in the 1920s and 1930s. Some toadstools and a length of ricrac were all that were needed to make it look its best.

I hope you all have a very Happy Christmas and New Year. We will be at home with family visiting, spending lots of time snuggling with the little people, playing games, reading books and enjoying a cup of tea/glass of wine by the light of the fire. I will be back in the new year, fully refreshed and ready to blog about more adventures ie. tackling the garden - my main task of 2011, which will be a bit of a challenge as I cannot be described as a gardener in any way/shape/form. Wish me luck. xx

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Biscuits for Christmas - M&S can do no wrong

 I have not had much time to blog recently - illness, decorating, Xmas shopping - you get the picture. This is just a quick post though to show you what I bought today as I am so pleased I managed to get the above tin of biscuits from good old M&S, who also were very accommodating in reducing it to half price -  which was exactly what I was waiting for. I got the tin below too as it was only £4 and I thought you can never have too many pretty tins to store homemade biscuits, felt tips and lots of other clutter (we seem to generate quite a bit of clutter in our house, I don't know why).
 The picture below was in a pesky mood and refused to sit the right way up, even though I rotated it on more than one occasion. This tin is a gift. Shame.
Anyway, I will update you on further Christmasy goings on soon. We are putting the tree up tomorrow and eldest daughter and I will be decorating the wreath for the front door once I have finished this post. There is lots to cram in before my lovely sister and her lovely fiance arrive on Wednesday and prior to the kids finishing school on Friday. So much to do, so little time and all that. Take care all. Hope you are enjoying putting your deccies up. x PS. Must say how lovely my husband is - poor thing fell down the ladder whilst getting the deccies out of the loft. Bless.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


I am wondering whether this view will be all white by the end of the week. There is much talk of snowfall but I get the feeling it may just be the North of England and Scotland who will get some (or indeed already have some). Unfortunately I have been stuck at home for the past 2 days as my youngest has come down with a bad cold which has developed into a temperature and no movement from the sofa all day. She went to bed at 4.30pm after refusing dinner, and is now tucked up in our bed fast asleep. I hope she has a better nights sleep. She was supposed to be doing her Brownie Promise tonight and there is a party going on as one of the leaders is leaving, but she was too ill to care. :(

We had a lovely weekend with family and the school Xmas Fayre was very busy and made a good profit. My eldest played her guitar in the talent show and did so well - we were so proud. We were all exhausted by the time we got home. I had lots planned for this week, including the decorating but have not been able to do anything. I was hoping to get the Xmas shopping finished very shortly - not looking like it's going to happen any time soon. I have had plenty of time to snuggle on the sofa and crochet though - I have so far made an oak leaf, a giant acorn (not sure why it turned out so huge as I used the same yarn that I used for the oak leaf), mistletoe and half a bumblebee. Once they are fully constructed, I will post about them (assuming they look any good!). Right, must stop waffling and get some more crochet done.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Busy busy

 It has been a very busy week this week and there are no signs of slowing down any time soon. Monday and Tuesday found me sanding down walls and woodwork and painting all the woodwork in the hall - 9 doorways in total, however luckily I didn't have to paint the doors. Wednesday was a trip to the doctor's with my youngest, followed by lots of tidying and preparations for my Mum coming to stay the night. The reason for her visit was our much anticipated trip to London. The local school had arranged a coach trip to Harrods, which was very reasonably priced and left from a short walk away from our house. We had to be outside the school at just after 9am; it was a long day but we had the best time. Mum was her usual thrifty self and bought some stitch markers for £1.95 - that was all she purchased! I bought some wool from John Lewis (for projects from the book below), a Christmas gift and a Harrods retro bauble for my lovely friend Alison, who definitely deserves a treat at the moment. It was a fab day and I am sure we will be doing it all again this time next year.
 Anyway, this doesn't really explain the photos above. After painting the woodwork, I realised that I would not have time to start painting the walls, what with Harrods shopping and catching up with housework today (Mount Everest sized ironing pile and washing basket overflowing - to top it all, the tumble dryer decided to pack up this week) so today I ripped up the underlay and staples and cleaned the floor. It is looking very shiny and in remarkably good condition, apart from a rather large gap between blocks running almost the entire length of the hall. You can just see the last bit of carpet left under the doors to the "Tardis", our hall cupboard which seems to hold most of our belongings! I couldn't quite get this bit of carpet up so it will stay there until a certain handy person has time. Said certain handy person has also been filling in the gaps between blocks with wood filler this evening. So helpful. :)
 Anyway, onto more exciting matters - I ordered this book a couple of weeks ago and I have been so pleased with it, it is one of those books that you just want to keep flicking through. It is full to the brim with beautiful flowers and leaves to make. I have already had a go at a couple of the patterns, although it is a bit tricky following a crochet pattern for the first time. A little concentration and patience is in order, not something I usually have an abundance of unfortunately.
The flowers are truly beautiful and I can't wait to have a proper sit down and have a go at a few. I bought the wool in John Lewis to practise with. There are a few things I need to get done first though. We have relatives round for dinner tomorrow so I will be cooking for most of tomorrow. The school Xmas Fayre is on Sunday - my eldest is performing in the Talent Show (Good King Wenceslas on guitar) and I am helping on the children's craft stall. I will then be finishing the painting next week and I must get on with finishing the Xmas shopping. So much to do, so little time before Xmas. Right, I suppose I had better go cook the dinner and I believe a glass of wine may be in order... Hope you all have a fab weekend. xxx

Monday, 8 November 2010

Stars and Stripes

 Ok, only one stripe. Just thought I'd update you on some of my crochet projects, some finished and some just started. I began making the above blanket last weekend. I wanted to have a go at rippling but I had 2 large (400g each!) balls of cream aran wool which needed using up - yes you guessed it, another charity shop bargain. I thought an all-one-colour ripple blanket might work, but once I'd started I realised that it may need a little help, hence the blue stripe. I will do another blue stripe at the other end of the blanket and, depending on how I feel once it is finished, I may embellish it further. I am sort of liking this blanket but I'm not loving it as the wool is not particularly soft. Hopefully it will soften up in the wash. But I am really enjoying rippling and once I'd learned the basics (not helped by reading the instructions after a couple of glasses of wine!) it is really easy to do and very relaxing whilst watching rubbish on the TV. Such an exciting life I lead.
 This weekend I decided I would crochet some stars to make a Xmas garland (sorry, I said that word again) I used the star pattern on The Royal Sisters blog but I didn't do the last round as I didn't want the stars to be too big. I am really pleased with the colour combination - I used some wool left over from the rainbow stripe blanket.
 I just need to make a chain to hold the stars together and sew some decorations on. This will brighten up our non-fireplace this Xmas!
I finished these garlands a couple of weeks ago. Not a great photo but you may just be able to see a crocheted popcorn garland, which will adorn the Xmas tree, along with two lengths of crocheted ric-rac. Looks like there might be a theme developing this year, but hey I only learned to crochet earlier this year so everyone needs to indulge me. :)

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

A fireplace to call home

 Here is the inspiration photo for our new fireplace. I found it on Google but I cannot find the original source of this image, so apologies.
 This is our fireplace at the moment. We have an immediate problem, being that the fire is so high compared to the floor. I think we are going to have to get some very chunky pieces of granite/marble to fit here, unless anyone has a better idea? Would really appreciate any advice anyone could offer. We are also struggling to find some tiles in the right colour. Should have chosen the tiles first before choosing the paint colour. I really love the colour of the tiles in the inspiration shot, but the nearest colours we can find are either dirty dish water or too mustard. The search goes on, but again if anyone can offer shopping advice, please please do so. Once we have found the tiles and fitted the hearth stones, my lovely husband is going to build the wooden surround which can then be painted white. Looking forward to sitting in front of the fire on a winter's day once it is done.
Here is a reminder of what we started with. So glad that disappeared in the skip!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Almost finished

 It's a fairly sunny day so I thought I would take some shots of the lounge. Still a few things to get done.

 The blinds are up - very pleased with them. Still no blinds on the front window though.
 The DVD racks are also up - very understated and neat and tidy. Although there is a large box of DVDs behind the sofa!
 The fireplace needs some work and there is some wood block flooring missing. We are searching for the flooring on Ebay and I will post about our plans for the fireplace soon.
 This is the view from the dining area.
Hope it's sunny where you are. x

Monday, 25 October 2010

A very successful weekend

 Well, my sister has been and gone in a bit of a whirlwind. It was a fantastic weekend but it ended far too quickly. She arrived on Friday morning wearing sandals, as she had just flown in from a business trip in Mumbai. Her big winter coat was only just managing to keep her warm - she has not felt these chilly temperatures for quite some time. We went straight over to our Mum's house for cups of tea and a catch up before we decided to make the most of the rest of the day and go view one of the potential wedding venues. We didn't bother viewing any more as she completely fell in love with this place (as I did when I viewed it with my future brother in law a few weeks ago). The photo above was taken whilst the venue was being used for filming - some kind of 1950s drama.
 This is the fireplace in the main hall. The building is full to the brim with oak panelling - so much character therefore not much decorating is required. It looks like it will be a winter wedding so I think a Christmas tree will be nestling in next to this fireplace. I'm really pleased that they have now found the venue - lots more to organise though, which may prove to be fairly tricky when you live on the other side of the world. On Saturday, I packed my youngest daughter off for a day with my Dad, who is just recovering from a knee replacement operation. He really enjoyed her company and they spent most of the day snuggling on the sofa whilst reading books/watching DVDs whilst my eldest daughter, my sister and Mum and I went shopping. My husband spent the day in bed, still trying to recover from his flu last weekend. We had a good look round the shops, in between stopping for coffee and lunch, and discovered a few new charity shops that have recently opened up. Here's what I found.
 It's a skirt suit, still with tags attached, that looks like it was made in the late 70's or early 80's. It is a beautiful wool mix fabric with a bit of stretch to it so very comfortable. I will wear the jacket with jeans rather than with the matching skirt.
 The skirt is a good 2 inches below the knee, which is unusual for me to find as I am tall and struggle to find skirts that are the right length. A fine knit jumper and knee high boots will go perfectly with this.
I also bought this ring from House of Fraser in the sale. Beautiful.

Saturday night was spent watching X Factor, which is becoming more and more disappointing as the weeks go by. We returned to my Mum and Dad's house on Sunday for a roast beef and yorkshire pudding lunch, finished off by a homemade trifle. Heaven. My sister left for the airport late in the afternoon, but we will see her again at Christmas, so not too long to wait.

We have half term this week and my husband has the week off work too. We have been fitting the new blinds today, although we are not completely finished as we discovered we had picked up a couple of wrong pieces - trip to Ikea tomorrow to rectify the mistake. We also went to the local pumpkin barn this afternoon to choose one each for the kids and one to make some soup/pumpkin pie. I get the feeling we will be doing a fair amount of baking this week, along with DIY and mooching around the house. I think an afternoon nap may be in order! Hope you have a good week too. x

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Trip to Ikea

 OK, It's not beginning to look a lot like Christmas but unfortunately I am forcing you to look at the above photo because I found these candlesticks in Ikea and thought they would look fab on the table at Christmas. Very festive, even though I am trying not to think of that time of year as it always sends me into a panic pre-November. I love Xmas but I don't love the shopping/preparing/build up to it. I will not mention Xmas again until December, I promise.
 The real reason we went to Ikea was to buy some blinds for the folding doors. We still don't have any blinds or curtains up in the lounge. Just as well we are not overlooked. The blinds are still in their packaging as my husband is still not feeling 100% so they will be put up once he feels better. I have also ordered a light fitting for the lounge, which is being delivered this week, so that will be another job for him to do. Poor love.
And yet another job is fitting these very minimal (and very cheap at £3.99 each) DVD storage racks. We needed something to fit to the wall as we had no more floor space by the tv and I love the fact that these are so simple (and soooo cheap - gotta love a bargain!).

My sister is coming over this weekend. She lives abroad so I don't get to see her that often. I am so excited I can't wait!! We are going to look at wedding venues as she is getting married next year. I just know we are going to have the best time. Hope everyone else has some fun plans for the weekend, even if it is just to veg out with a takeaway and bottle of wine. Wow, can't believe I am already talking about the weekend - it's only Tuesday. And it's half term next week - double excitement! x

Saturday, 16 October 2010


 Here are some of the things I bought from the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace last week. I found some bargain merino wool for £2 per 50g ball, and some green mohair at £2 per 25g ball. I think I will be making scarves ready for the cold weather, which really is upon us now. I'd better get a move on! I also bought a bag of leather scraps as I have been meaning to have a go at sewing with leather for a while now. Not entirely sure what I will make - maybe some jewellery or to decorate a cushion? The cute balloon buttons will be used to decorate a bag, and the ergonomic crochet hook was purchased out of curiosity. I am please to confirm that it is ultra comfortable to use and I definitely need to buy more in different sizes.

 These Liberty fabrics were £1 each but they are tiny - just long strips which are supposed to be used to make fabric necklaces with beads threaded on, but I think I will use them to edge some tote bags I am planning to make.
 I got these giant 25mm knitting needles from the charity shop a while ago. I knew they would come in handy.  I have had a quick go at knitting with them - they are quite a challenge as I kept dropping one because they're quite heavy, even though they are hollow. Just as well I am only making a scarf. Do you recognise that cushion?
Yes, after finishing the crochet ages ago, I finally got round to making it into a cushion cover. I need to make some more cushions to go with it on that sofa. It is looking rather lonely at present.

We are having a lazy day today as my husband is feeling very poorly - he is bunged up with a cold and is currently having an afternoon nap. The kids have been crafting, playing cards and are currently watching Shrek. The tortoises have also been let out today for a little wander around the lounge - they quite enjoyed climbing in and around the Littlest Pet Shop toys. We will be having a quiet night in watching X Factor and having an early night. Tomorrow we are off into town as my youngest has a party to go to so my eldest and I will be having a girly shopping trip. Oh to be 9 years old again... Hope you all have lovely weekends. x

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Rainbow Blanket

 You may remember seeing a bit of this blanket in my holiday photos - well it is finally finished! I am really pleased with the end result. The wool is so soft and snuggly (as my youngest will testify - she was sat on my lap this weekend with the blanket wrapped around her whilst I was still crocheting it) and the colours are so bright. It is perfect in her bedroom.
 I get the feeling this blanket won't stay neat and tidy on that bed for long.
 Here is a close up of those vibrant colours. I tried to match the colours to the rest of the colours in her room but a few more snuck in for good measure.
The size of the blanket is not quite a square - wide enough to go over her duvet but not long enough to cover the whole bed. It is just the right size to wrap herself in when she is watching tv or reading a book. Perfect. I have plenty of wool left over so I am about to start on a blanket as a Xmas present (hope that gets finished in time) and I am sure I will have some more wool left over to make something else aswell. I also bought some wool, and lots of other bits and pieces, at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace on Friday. This means there are loads of projects on the go at the moment. I will post about them soon.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

We're getting there

 It's a beautifully bright and sunny day here so I thought I would get the camera out and take a few shots of where we are at this given moment. The decorating has been completed (it only took us all of last week - so glad it's finished as I was exhausted on Friday evening) and we are now at the finishing touches stage. This could turn into a long process, going from past experiences. The above shot is of our decking, with the tired looking patio furniture in place. Another job to add to the long list - sand and oil the table. Apparently the weather is going to be good this weekend so I think a BBQ may be in order.

 These are my tortoises - you may have spotted them in the previous picture. Yes they really are that tiny!

This is a photo of the lounge when I had just completed the painting. I was just having a mini break before tackling the underlay. Boy, did that kick up some dust.

 The floor is in okay condition - it just needed a sweep and clean with parquet floor cleaner. Then we had to clean it again as we could see the imprint of the underlay left behind. It was kind of a tacky residue which was left and not lifted by the first clean. This meant lots of elbow grease with a damp microfibre cloth. The residue disappeared but there is still a slight pattern which you can see from certain angles. There are also a few scratches here and there but we have kids and we are not going to get precious about the state of the floor for the time being.
   We still have some gaps in the floor, as you can see in the above photo, where the wall was knocked out to create the opening. We need to buy some more but that can wait, as we want to get the blinds bought and fitted first. Trying to find a blind for the front window is becoming a serious problem - the window is just over 3.5m wide. Not many places sell blinds that wide and the ones that do charge way too much for our miniscule budget. Luckily we have the giant hedge at the front of our house so we have enough privacy for the time being. Right, must go but I will post again soon.