Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year!

Serious winding down has been taking place over the past few days, hence the lack of blog posts. Will be back in 2012 with lots to update - wedding, Xmas, crochet... I bet you can't wait!! Back to normal service shortly. Toodle pip! xxx

Monday, 12 December 2011

Dashing through the preparations...

 Yes, I'm still alive and my finger hasn't fallen off!! Typing was extremely uncomfortable for quite a while there and there was so much else I needed to get done that I fell off the blogging radar temporarily. But I'm back, with lots to tell. I have of course been thrifting at the charity shops recently. I bought some vintage baubles on Friday, just in time for the tree going up. We don't normally put the tree up so early but we had some friends round for a pre Xmas get together on Saturday so we had to push the boat out and decorate the house to its full potential. Will try to get some decent photos (so far I have failed miserably).

I just about managed to feed our friends, even though I had no working hob. This proved fairly interesting when I went to buy the food for the evening - was I to grab lots of party food and do a buffet? No, I did a full on roast dinner, I don't do things by halves. My lovely husband set up the camping stove on top of the defunct hob so I could make the gravy and we had foil trays full of potatoes in goose fat and winter roasted vegetables ready to bung in the oven (good old Waitrose). A couple of roasted chickens and some cocktail sausages and we were ready to feed the troops. We had a great evening, lovely to catch up with old friends but we were so shattered yesterday. My youngest was on a sleepover that night too so it was a day of lounging around doing nothing yesterday, that's for sure. Still feeling exhausted today, must drink more tea.

The reason I had no hob was because we had some new worktop fitted last weekend and the new hob is yet to be connected. The ancient hob and yucky brown plastic sink have vanished - hooray! Will provide photos of kitchen progress soon. A fair few tiles fell off the wall whilst the old worktop was removed so we have a tiling session planned for the New Year. I think the kitchen project may be a slow burner as there is so much still left to do and so little time to do it all in. In the meantime, I am making the most of stroking the beautiful new worktop and admiring the clean and shiny new sink and tap. Yes, I am a sad person!

As you may have noticed, I have acquired a new cabinet, the before photo being above. It was sat outside my favourite charity shop with a very reasonable £5 price tag on it. I snapped it up and just about managed to squeeze it into the car boot. Having pondered what to do with it (other than give it a good old clean) I decided to use my paperchase wrapping paper, bought for a mere 9 pence per sheet in the sales a couple of months ago. I've literally just cut it to size and blu tacked it onto the back of the cabinet. I've got plenty more of this wrapping paper, which I have squirrelled away for another project. I think this simple 5 minute job has really given this cabinet a new lease of life.

I have also been trying to take some festive shots, but as I said earlier, I have failed miserably. Really must try harder:

In case you can't tell, it's a pot full of holly cut from the garden to decorate the table on Saturday night. I did try. Honest.

Eldest daughter and I had a competition to see who could build the best structure out of mini marshmallows and cocktail sticks (thanks to Miriam of Make it give it let it shine for the idea). Needless to say, E won with her very accurate structure below. Let's just say mine was a lot more organic and... wibbly! Great fun, will definitely be doing this again over the Xmas hols.

 And here is a photo of my cabinet in use and in Xmas mode.

So that's what I've been up to over the past few weeks, other than my car getting a flat tyre last week. I pulled over and got my mobile out, discovered that my sim card had packed up, so I had to hike along muddy grass verges all the way to school to collect the kids and then return later in the dark, wind and rain to recover the car with my OH who very kindly changed the tyre for me. Let's just say it was an interesting day and as I trudged through the muddy verges getting increasingly cold, I counted my blessings. At least it wasn't raining and we were very lucky to get a lift home from one of the Mums at school.

Before I go, I also must mention that I was the extremely lucky winner of a giveaway over at nomoredisco. The lovely Amy was so generous in offering a choice of one of 3 books, one of which was a copy of 200 crochet blocks, which I chose. I have had a good old flick through this book several times and I'm really looking forward to having a go at a few of these blocks over the Xmas holidays. Thanks again Amy, much appreciated. If you get a chance, do pop over to her blog.

So, just one more week of school (youngest is performing in a strings orchestra this afternoon, eldest has a speaking part in the Christmas play, which is being performed 3 times this week), one more week until my gorgeous sister gets married, one more week to get all last minute preps for the wedding done (eeek!) and one more week until we can all collapse on the sofa and enjoy some down time. So much to look forward to over the next few days but I think we will all be flying by the seat of our pants! Until next time... xxxx

Monday, 14 November 2011

Can't put my finger on it

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. A week last Friday I managed to rather foolishly shut the car door on the tip of my index finger. Needless to say, it was rather sore and swollen for a few days and typing has been on the extremely slow side, hence a complete lack of posts. I thought I would just give you a little taster of my Mollie Makes inspired blanket to keep you going until my finger gets well enough for full speed typing. I couldn't crochet for a couple of days either but now back on track and making great progress with joining all those squares. I have joined two rows together now and I am loving this blanket more and more each day.

I'm really hoping I will be back again later this week to update you on what's been happening round these parts.  x

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Cake and Crochet

Cake and crochet, oh and a Sunday roast at the pub. That's what summed up our weekend just gone. E offered to make a cake, which F had requested - a victoria sponge to be precise. E promptly decided that the cake needed Xmas decorations on and snow, lots of snow (in the form of sugar). The cake was yummy and lasted about 36 hours!! We then proceeded to go for a gigantic roast turkey dinner at a pub down the road. One portion would easily have fed two of us but it was delicious and we'll hopefully be going back again soon.

I also finished the crochet baby blanket that I was making for a teacher at the school.

Just big enough for going over a car seat or in a pram. I really enjoyed making this blanket - very quick and little attention required. I have been meaning to wash it this week, wrap it and send it into school to wait until the teacher visits. I found out earlier that said teacher and baby visited school today. Never mind, I am sure the blanket will find its way to her and her little bundle of joy in due course.

I have almost finished knitting my scarf - well, the knitting is done but I decided the ends needed some crochet embellishment. Will let you know how I get on with it, the ends may well stay plain and simple if the crochet fanciness doesn't work out. I have also finished crocheting all the squares for the Mollie Makes inspired blanket. The yarn arrived today for the joining of said squares so the long task will soon commence. I feel the need to finish off a few WIPS as they are definitely starting to build up.

And I couldn't go without showing you a certain little man's new favourite spot to sit. He kind of blends in doesn't he?

That's all for today, will be back again soon. x

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Halloween half term

Half term is almost over - it has flown by so far, lots of trips out to keep us all occupied. We made our annual visit to the local pumpkin barn to choose a pumpkin each for the kids. We haven't carved them yet - a job for the weekend. Whilst we were there, I decided to buy some gourds to make a display for the windowsill. The kids had fun rearranging them until they were happy with their efforts. Not all the Halloween decorations are out yet but I will get the rest out on Monday while the girls are back at school.  

We are planning a day out in London but the rain has arrived and I don't know whether we will get another dry day before the week is over. If the rain continues we will have to stay at home and make Hama bead Halloween decorations, chocolate chip cookies and the girls have decided to try their hand at some Kirstie Allsopp crafts from last night's episode. E wants to have a go at making an animal from newspaper and sellotape (hope we have plenty of tape as it looks like she may need a whole roll!) and F wants to attempt freestyle machine stitching onto card. Looking forward to it.

I have also been making something over the past few days. A teacher at the school had a baby boy last month so I thought it would be nice to make a small car seat sized blanket for him. Four WIP blankets at the moment, shocking! This is what it looked like yesterday morning.

It's a vintage stripe blanket and I got the pattern from Bella Dia's blog. Very quick and easy to do, so much so that I just have the edging to do and then it's finished. I think this blanket is ideal for a baby as there are lots of little holes like a cellular blanket. I did consider joining the ripple along hosted by Lucy at Attic 24 and Heather at Little Tin Bird but I only really had this week to make this blanket and I find a ripple takes quite a lot longer to make. Anyway, I will post photos of the completed blanket before it gets wrapped up and sent off to its new home.

No photos of Gerard today, he is fast asleep beside me looking cute. He has turned into a bit of a rascal recently - last week he brought home four mice, three in the space of two and a half hours! I was not happy that evening. We also have had some visits from a young ginger cat who seems to have taken a fancy to Gerard. He has come through the cat flap twice this week and was on the worktop. We are on ginger cat shooing duty now. Might have to buy a water pistol! Have a great weekend. x

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Clutter busting

I spent most of yesterday sorting out piles of clutter that have collected in various places throughout the lounge over the past few months. It took a while but it was worth it in the end, the lounge now looks a whole lot tidier and is a much more relaxing place to be. Whilst squirreling away bits and pieces, I recognised certain areas that tended to accumulate lots of stuff fairly quickly. I had in mind a little ceramic pot to corral crochet hooks/pens and scissors but found this little danish stainless steel dish instead. Perfect for the task and looks great too. And at £1.50 from the new charity shop in town, very affordable.  Absolutely exhausted now though so thoroughly enjoying that glass of wine. Hope you have a fab weekend. We are looking forward to the half term break. Not much planned - best way to be! xx

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

M&S does it again

I think the person in charge of novelty biscuit tins at M&S is doing a mighty fine job. First the jammy dodger tin, then the custard cream tin and now... behold the bourbon tin. I didn't manage to get the other tins, but at this time of year with Xmas looming, I am in biscuit tin buying mode. The bourbons are nearly all gone, by the way. I don't think the kids really knew what they were, but they liked them. These are definitely biscuits of the 1970s - the special ones that your Mum would buy occasionally as a treat, rather than the mundane rich tea or malted milk. Pink wafers and party rings were strictly for birthday parties only.

There are quite a few other biscuit tins at M&S that I would love to buy but I seem to have rather a large selection at home and sadly no more will fit into my kitchen cupboards. Maybe I should just buy some and use them for storage elsewhere in the house. And enjoy eating the biscuits! xx

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Knitting and Stitching Show

It's that time of year again - the weather is feeling more and more autumnal, although we are still experiencing a fair amount of sunshine. This means that the kids start talking about Halloween - a lot, and I start talking about the Knitting and Stitching show. I went last Friday with Alison. We had a fab day, so much to look at and very pleasing that most of the stalls were in the same places. This meant that we could fairly easily find the things we were looking for at the right prices, ie. inexpensive ergonomic crochet hooks (also described as aerodynamic crochet hooks at Knitting club last!) and bargain yarns. As you can see above, I managed to get two more crochet hooks and some gorgeous multicoloured yarn at £2 per ball (I got three balls BTW). I also got some more yarn (to be mailed as they didn't have enough of the colour I needed at the show) and some really unusual buttons, which I will probably use to decorate bags.

 The choice of fabrics was amazing, I think there were a lot more there this year than last year. I restricted myself to two fat quarters, mainly because I have far too much fabric in my stash already. I really had to buy these two though. The one on the left reminds me of a 1940s summer dress fabric and the one on the right is from the Little Apples range by Aneela Hoey for Moda. With my three little tortoises, I couldn't really walk past a little tortoises fabric now, could I? Having said this, I really don't know what I am going to make with these, but they are beautiful and I am sure I will figure something out soon.

But I really couldn't wait to get going with the wool. I decided that it was high time I learnt how to cable knit, as I have been wondering how it is done for about 25 years. I was convinced I wouldn't be able to do it but someone reliably informed me that it was easy so I searched around online and found some very straight forward instructions and an Irish Hiking Scarf pattern which was recommended for beginners at cable stitch. And this is how far I have got. I have to say, it is so simple to do and the yarn is a dream to work with, lovely and soft. I would not normally choose these colours but I bought a coat towards the end of last winter which I thought these tones would go well with. I got the coat at the charity shop, quite a bargain considering it was originally from Jigsaw. I sent it straight to the dry cleaners so after spending £20 for the coat and £9 for dry cleaning, I deemed myself extremely lucky. The coat looks grey in this photo but it is actually a mixture of black and purple.

And this is what the scarf looks like with it. I can't wait to get it finished and start wearing it, although I'll be a bit sorry to finish it as I am really enjoying making it. I have an order for a scarf from my husband too so I must keep a look out for another pattern and some more yarn.

Finally, I couldn't leave you today without a couple of photos of Gerard.

I think it's safe to say he has settled in now! xx

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Tres magnifique

A little something popped through the letterbox last week. A small impulse buy - I saw it and had to have it. That doesn't often happen with me when it comes to online shopping, I am usually very careful in considering what to buy, but this was something I absolutely wanted AND needed. Once ordered, the something arrived very quickly, literally only a couple of days and it was so beautifully packaged.

Yes, this little something appeared on the dottie angel blog a few days ago and I absolutely love all things dottie angel.

How cute is that tray? Both those monkeys were bought from thrift shops in the US. Why can't our charity shops sell cute Danish monkeys? And I needed a new tray as a certain incident happened with my Ikea bird tray a couple of weeks ago (not naming any names). Now I have a perfectly dottie tray to take my tea on outside. It would appear great minds think alike as Caroline from gran plumley also ordered the tray and the book. The book is top of my Christmas list. Uh oh, I mentioned that word.  

On the crochet front, I have almost finished making all the squares for the Mollie Makes blanket. I laid them all out on the floor this afternoon and discovered there are a few more silver/parchment ones to make. I have enough squares to make a decent sized lap blanket so I'm happy with the size. So glad I only have a few more to make though as it feels like I have been making them for an eternity. Will update with photos soon. xx

Friday, 30 September 2011

Life begins...

 As mentioned (quietly slipped into a sentence) at the end of my last post, I recently turned 40. Some people find this launch into their forties quite difficult to cope with. Me - well I am the youngest of most of my friends so everyone else has already been there, done that. Also, to me, age is just a number - I have never had any issue with telling people how old I am, luckily. But birthdays are a problem for me in other ways as I just don't enjoy being centre of attention. I love going out for a meal with my husband and girls, but that's all I want to do for a birthday. So we went for a delicious meal at my favourite local pub (reportedly the oldest pub in England) and came home, full, tired and happy.

My gorgeous girls made me cards (I love a homemade card - it did make me giggle when I saw the OMG sign!) and I had a nice relaxing day. Perfect. The wonderful Alison from Gingercat  took me out for afternoon tea (with champagne no less) on the Friday before my birthday. The weather was glorious so we sat outside on the terrace, drinking champagne and tea and wolfing down sandwiches, cakes and scones. It was tops! Then I went out for lunch with my Mum and Dad at another lovely local pub, which was fab. I do like a nice meal out, can you tell?

As for presents, this was the star attraction - I have wanted an Eames rocker for years and I managed to get this original beauty for a very reasonable price.

Unfortunately, I am the only member of my family who likes it. My husband calls these chairs yoghurt pots on skis and the girls wrinkled their noses when they saw it (they dislike anything second hand - I'm trying to change their ways, honest). However, recently I have seen them sat in the chair, rocking whilst watching tv. I think they may be coming round, slowly.

So that was my birthday. It felt quite Autumnal on the day but the weather in the UK is like the height of Summer at the moment. I checked the forecast this morning and it's due to stay all over the weekend until Tuesday. We will be out in the garden enjoying it while we still can. Hope you all have a fab weekend too. x

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Mollie Makes blanket

 Remember this blanket from issue three of Mollie Makes? Remember how I was inspired to have a go at making my own? Remember that I'd made a few blocks in my chosen colours and laid them out on the not suitable for close ups lounge rug? (Really must get it cleaned.) As below -
Remember how I wasn't happy with the distribution of colour compared to the inspirational blanket. There was just too much colour and I wanted to tone it down with a few more blocks of the paler colours, namely parchment and silver (Stylecraft Special DK). Well, I made a few more blocks in just these colours, ordered more yarn to make sure I had enough, and yesterday I decided it was time to lay it all out and see how it was looking - and also to see how big this blanket was getting.

It's starting to look like a nice lap blanket size. I was thinking it would probably live on my small grey sofa, which is a very small 2 seater. It would be ideal if it were wide enough to span the back of the sofa. I think I just need to make a few more blocks to make it big enough, bearing in mind that it will grow a bit once it is joined together by double (UK) crochet. My only problem now though is that I think I have overdone it with the paler colours. Looking back at the magazine photo, there seem to be more pops of colour than the above photo. I am therefore going to make a few more of each colour, a few more silver and no more parchment. Then I hope I will have enough to start joining. I am quite excited and nervous about the joining bit - excited as it will be one step closer to finishing this blanket, which I know I will love, but nervous as I am not good with keeping blocks in the right order and joining long rows of them will cause me major headaches.

But before all this happens, I really need to finish a blanket I started a while ago - the one with the Patons Eco chunky wool that I got for Mothers Day. It's half finished and very quick to make up but as it has grown, it has just been too warm to crochet with it draped over my lap. I need to finish it as a certain little mister has taken to sitting on the back of the sofa, which is already covered in claw marks from our old cat. We need to protect the sofa from further damage. BTW, no more clawing from Gerard (yes, an r has disappeared from his name all of a sudden, at the request of my husband - he wanted no relevance to the footballer!) since we let him out, but that's another story entirely. The name Houdini has been mentioned more than once.

I'm sorry to say that I haven't even got any photos of this blanket yet. Really must drag it out, take some photos and start work on it again.

So it would seem I am fairly behind with posts - more updates on Gerard, my birthday (a 40th no less), crochet and a little something that popped through the post today. Oooh, the excitement. xx

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Butter wouldn't melt

 Could he look any cuter? He really is settling in nicely and gets on well with all of us. He even loves visitors. No accidents, only one breakage of an ornament (he is spending a considerable amount of time on windowsills, longing to go outside and there were a few too many ornaments on E's sill. Oops). But because he is longing to go outside so much - especially at night - this is happening...
 ... and this. Gerrard has scratched the pine dresser in four different spots. Just as well it is easy to sand down and wax.
 We stuck some tin foil on the corner of the dresser after he attacked it the first time, but obviously he has just scratched another area instead, and I couldn't see us draping foil over the whole cupboard. Also there was a risk of him just moving onto destroying the kitchen cabinets which I have recently painted.
 Of course, we bought a scratching box (he didn't know what it was) and also a scratching post (still pristine, fresh from the packaging it came in) so we are just biding our time until he is allowed out and hoping he will claw the trees from then on.
He really is a sweetie. We're all so glad we got him. And he still loves his blanket, which makes me happy. BTW, the reason his bed is inside an upturned toy basket is because he was used to sleeping in a covered cat bed at the pet rescue centre and spent the first couple of nights with us sleeping on top of the kitchen wall cabinets, where he was close to the ceiling. He feels a lot happier and safer in his bed at night now. Not long til we open the cat flap...

PS. Sorry you had to see close up photos of our kitchen floor - hopefully it will be gone within the next couple of months.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Back to crochet

 Finally, another crochet post! This is the mini project I was talking about. I have used pretty much the same yarn as the Mollie Makes blanket I am making, give or take the odd colour. I needed to make something quick and easy so chose to do a large granny square. I say large, but this is just a mini blanket really, only about 65cm square.

Here it is completed - not very large at all and extremely speedy to make. I started it on Sunday and finished it on Tuesday. I needed to make it in a hurry as we had a special visitor coming on Wednesday this week. A VIP - very important PET...

 Yes, this little chap came home with us on Wednesday from the local pet rescue. We visited on Sunday and looked at two cats in particular, but saw so many beautiful moggies. It would have been so difficult to choose, had we not looked on the website at all the cat profiles before we went. We chose to see only black cats as they are not so popular at the moment (didn't know that certain cat colours were out of fashion - shocking). The two we chose to see had both been at the cattery for the longest period of time out of all of the cats there. They were both so adorable, it was very difficult to choose, but we decided on this little chap as he was affectionate, a little bit shy but also a little bit playful. The day I picked him up I found out that the other cat had already been rehomed - the next people to look at cats after us decided he was perfect for them. This made me feel very happy as I was quite glum about leaving him behind.
 As you can see, he is loving his new blanket. There were crochet blankets for every cat at the rescue centre so I donated three crochet blankets that I bought from the charity shop a couple of years ago. I seem to be making so many that I don't think I will need those ones any more. After making this blanket and covering it with my scent in the process, I gave it to the kids to rub all over them. I think that may be helping him to settle in and get to trust us.
He has been getting very tired whilst posing for the camera! He really is a little sweetheart and has been following me around like a puppy. Unfortunately he has to stay inside for the next 3 weeks, which is a problem for him as he is desperate to get out and explore the garden. It's also a problem for us as we have had fantastic sunshine over the last couple of days and we have been sweltering in the lounge, unable to open any windows or doors.

And guess what his name is? Gerrard. Yep, I wouldn't have chosen that either! After spending ages trying to think of a different name, the kids decided that they would much rather keep his name just as it is. Cats usually end up being called several different nicknames rather than their real names after a while so we are pretty much ok with that. I think. I'm sure you will be seeing more of him on here soon. If he ever stays still long enough to have his photo taken. x

Monday, 12 September 2011

Operation Lawn

 I've been meaning to post since the kids went back to school last week, but I've been catching up with various bits and pieces that needed doing (mainly housework related, nothing exciting) so it's only been now that a chance has arisen to get on here. Anyway, here is a photo of the old veg patch as it looked at the end of July, above.
 This is what it looked like after my nephew came round and did some serious weeding (fuelled by bacon + fried egg and cheese + pickle sandwiches, french bread pizza, plus gallons of tea. Apparently I overfed him.) He cleared the weeds a lot quicker than I would have managed, especially with two kids distracting me!
 Once the weeds were cleared, he levelled the soil as much as possible - the front and side of the patch are lower than the back. All ready for the turf...
 It was my job to load the turf into the wheelbarrow and wheel it round to the back. I didn't realise how heavy turf is and had to keep having frequent tea breaks to give my poor back a rest!
 My husband laid the turf, whilst I danced around on the scaffold plank. I was told this was to help the turf, but I did often wonder whether it was just to make me look silly.
And this is what it looks like now. We have never used our sprinkler so much, in fact I'd forgotten we even had one. The kids can't wait to run around on the new lawn and it definitely makes the garden look much tidier. Still lots more to do in the garden but so so pleased we don't have to worry about weeds on this bit any more. The front garden is also looking fantastic. I forgot to get some photos - we've planted some sedums in the front border and reseeded the lawn.

Hopefully the next post will not be garden related. I've started another project (another!) and it's nearly finished - it needs to be ready by Wednesday. Will let you know soon. x