Sunday, 31 July 2011

Things to do in the Summer Holidays...

 Stroke a visiting cat (this cat spends more time in our garden than it does at home!)

Swing to your heart's content.
 Admire the colour in the garden (even if they are weeds).
 Watch wildlife - a very young hedgehog going about it's business.
 Enter a magazine competition.
Go to the fair, enjoy the rides, eat candyfloss, win a prize.

Of course, all of this is so much more enjoyable when the sun shines. Hope you are enjoying the holidays too. Back soon with more posts about crochet and DIY. I'm soo predictable!! xxx

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Remember this gate?

 The extremely heavy gate that arrived a few days ago? Well, this is what it looks like now...

Oooh, look it's the right way up!
 And it opens!
Only problem is, it doesn't actually screen anything off at the moment, much to the amusement of the kids. We still need to plant a hedge to give our decking some privacy, but the hedge will need time to grow so we are hopefully going to get a bamboo slat screen fitted this weekend, weather permitting. That will give us the privacy needed until the hedge grows to the required height. The reason for all of this is because....

Remember this hedge? It's coming down! This will mean our front garden will be completely open, but we live in a quiet little close where we're not overlooked. We can always plant some more hedging if we decide it's too open and just make sure it doesn't get to this kind of magnitude in the future! We've had some lovely weather round these parts this week. Hoping it continues into next week. What have you got planned for the weekend? xx

PS. Many thanks to my lovely husband who put the gate up this week. x

Monday, 25 July 2011

Shawl - finished

Hurray - I finally got around to blocking the shawl. Here is a photo of my eldest modelling it for me. I haven't had the chance to wear it yet, but will definitely try at some point over the summer. So, a few of you were wanting to know how I was going to block this piece - well here's my secret weapon...
 Yes, foam alphabet jigsaw mats from Argos!!  Perfect as they pack away fairly compactly and you can piece them together into whichever shape you need. I got the idea from Little Tin Bird so thanks Heather for blogging about this a while ago - I have tried it out and it works!
 So I laid the mats out to the required size and then began pinning out the shawl, starting in the middle and working my way out. You can see that I have pinned the lower two rows but not the top, which still looks a bit curly around the edges - it kind of reminds me of stale sandwiches (bizarre, I know!). Please bear in mind that I did this at gone 9pm a few days ago so I was fairly tired and not extremely accurate. I'm pretty sure I could have spent a good hour making sure everything was lined up to the nearest millimetre but I'm really not that fussy.  Anyway, once it's all pinned out you need to spray it with a pump action garden spray bottle filled with cold water. Spray it until it's damp but not soaking. Then leave until completely dry - 24 hours or sooner if it's warm weather - mine was pretty much dry over night but I left it for longer just to be on the safe side. Whilst it was sat there drying, I got a little concerned about whether the fluorescent colour of the foam mat would leech into the yarn. But it didn't and I'm hoping that's because the foam mats just wouldn't do that, but it may have been because the water didn't soak straight through the yarn. Next time, I may lay a sheet over the foam mats, just in case.
 Then I got some lovely little helpers to remove the pins - they really enjoyed this for about thirty seconds and then I finished off!

And this is the finished article - it's just long enough to wrap round my shoulders and cross over at the front and it doesn't feel too delicate to wear on a regular basis. I get the feeling it might get some use in the winter too. Not bad for some yarn found at the charity shop for £4!

Another WIP finished. So many more that need some extra attention. It doesn't help when I start two new crochet projects in a fortnight! Well, there should be plenty of time during the summer hols to make some progress - I have a crochet meet with Alison from Gingercat on Friday. Our kids get on like a house on fire so hopefully they will run around having fun and burning off some energy so we can sit down with a cup of tea and crochet, preferrably outside in some sunshine or at least without rain. Before then we have John Lewis coming to fit some blinds in our lounge, a trip out with Nan and Grandpops (hi Mum!) and a fair bit of mooching around at home, enjoying some free time and relaxation. Hope you are also enjoying whatever free time you have at the moment too. Will post again soon about some updates around the house. xx

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Life got in the way

Hello, long long time since I last blogged. So much has been going on - continuing progress in the kitchen, nearing the end of term at school, little one poorly for 6 days, starting two (yes, two!) new crochet projects and trying to cram in as much stuff as possible before term ends (haircut, dentist appt etc.).

The kitchen is coming along nicely and I have earmarked tomorrow to continue painting as many cabinets as possible. We have bought the sink, tap, hob and flooring and have ordered some worktop samples.
 Most of the drawers are painted - check out the nasty brown sink! Unfortunately we can't lay the flooring directly on top of the lino so we will have to rip it up once we've cleared out the fridge and dresser. I am dreading having to rip it up as I get the feeling it's going to be pretty disgusting under there.

My husband came home from work today and immediately went outside and started digging this hole. It's for a post to support this gate.
 An extremely sturdy gate which arrived a few days ago. It is unbelievably heavy and will be fitted to the front of the house, where the side garden/decking is. We will plant a hedge to screen off the front garden along side this gate.

F (my youngest) caught a sickness bug last weekend and she spent all weekend in bed, trying to sleep off the worst of the symptoms. She lost a fair amount of weight and was too weak to walk for 3 days, but by Wednesday she was craving burgers and bacon sandwiches (obviously a lack of protein!) and she went back to school on Friday. She's still very tired, but that is also down to end of term so we are all looking forward to lots of lie ins and lazing around doing not very much next week. Although, I have been asked to make cookies next week and get the paints out for an artwork session. A visit to the local farm may also be on the cards, if we can drag ourselves away from the comfy sofa!!
Here is my almost finished shawl, pre blocking. I have blocked it this evening and am hoping to blog about it soon, depending on the outcome! xx

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Kitchen progress

I have painted about a third of the kitchen but life got in the way so I haven't touched it for over a week. Here is a before photo - definitely stuck in the 1980s! Look at the tiles, they look like they should be in a 1980s bathroom.
And this is what it looks like now. I think it needs another layer of wax, mainly because I have missed a few nooks and crannies when dolloping it on with an old rag. I think I will try using a brush next time. We found out recently that the person we have asked to come and fit the work top and sink has some spare time over the next couple of weeks. Eek! I haven't even chosen the work top yet and we had to quickly order the sink and tap yesterday. Still haven't found a hob yet. Lots to do. My husband fitted a new extractor fan at the weekend as our old one was broken so that's at least one job crossed off the list. I can't wait until it's all done.

We had a very busy weekend. My youngest played her violin in the strings orchestra at the local Music Centre's garden party. She did really well and seemed to enjoy it lots. Then we popped along to the school's summer fayre. I spent an hour applying fake tattoos and painting the nails of 4-9 year olds. Lots of fun but exhausting. Sunday was spent reading (all day - it was a very gripping storyline) and relaxing. I've also managed to squeeze in a bit of crochet too. My shawl is coming along nicely, only maybe 2 more hours of work on it and it will be ready for blocking.

Anyway, that's enough for now. I must go tackle the kids' rooms. I can't see the floor again. Wish me luck! xx

Friday, 1 July 2011

Been gone too long

 Well, apologies for the short break away from blogging - a combination of bad weather = no photos, busy with starting yet more projects (when will I ever learn?) and having a hectic week this week. I have taken a few photos over the past couple of weeks so I will wade in and try to update you with what's been going on.

Last week had the most bizarre weather - on some days the weather changed about ten times, from bright sunshine to heavy downpours. I was getting pretty fed up with it as I have been meaning (but not really wanting) to get back out in the garden to finish off the weeding of the old veg patch. Regrettably, the border with the gooseberry bushes has sort of grown over again, mainly with mint. Nothing wrong with mint, but it's not where I wanted the mint to grow. I am hoping the agreeable weather will continue into next week so I can get out there again and finish off the weeding.

I managed to dodge some rain showers to get to my favourite charity shop, which is a 15-20 minute drive away. I was glad I went as I managed to get a few treasures - a Japanese style top which I am wearing tomorrow (if it fits!), a White Stuff stripy tank top for Winter, a darning mushroom (how very utilitarian of me), an early 1980s crochet book and a beautiful tin...

 ... full of vintage buttons. How wonderful a discovery this tin was. Covered in metallic fish, beaten up with dents and chipped paint but perfect in my eyes. It says on the base that it originally held tea but it is just the right size for a button collection. And here they all are -
 I feel it may be some years before I use all of these but there are some beauties in there that I am looking forward to using in future projects. I was very happy with my little haul of goodies, even if I did get a bit wet running back to the car.

As I was getting so hacked off with the weather and the housework was just not calling to me, I decided it was time to dig out the paint I bought to spruce up the kitchen. Remember I bought some paint a couple of months ago on a shopping trip to a local village with my friend Alison from Gingercat ? Well, the paint was stored away with a view to getting it done in the near future. As is always the case, life got in the way (or is that reading blogs got in the way?) and said paint got forgotton about, until the rainy weather appeared and being stuck in the house with not much interesting to do turned into a major decorating surge. Paint was dug out and surfaces cleaned. Remember, this is special paint that needs no prep work, other than a clean surface to paint on. Here is a sneak peek.

Not a great photo. Once the paint has dried (30 mins tops) you rub or brush on some wax and buff - 2-3 layers needed for kitchen units. I carried on going and have painted about a third of the kitchen units. It's quick and easy to do and it is a massive improvement on the 1980s country kitchen look. In fact, it is so good that we decided to carry out a few more updates in the kitchen. We are replacing the brown sink ( woohoo!) and the hob (the flame sometimes goes out so it's not exactly safe) and the worktop and the floor and we are painting the tiles, walls and ceiling. We are trying to buy everything on a tight budget as we hope to get the kitchen completely redone in about 5 years time. Will update you with our progress as and when it happens.

Tomorrow we have a jam packed day - swimming lesson for youngest, Music Centre Strings orchestra performance for youngest, School Summer Fun Day and eldest has a sleepover to go to. I think eldest will be going to sleep a lot later than me on Saturday night! Hope you have a fab weekend. xx