Friday, 8 November 2013

Memories of Summer 2013

It feels absolutely freezing this morning and we had our first frost on the car windscreen today, so it seems like a good idea to look back over photos taken during the amazingly warm Summer we were lucky enough to enjoy this year. We definitely made the most of it, once we returned from our holiday. We went for a day trip out, just me and my girls, to a local farm to do some fruit picking. The strawberries were the best I have seen them and we go to this particular farm for fruit picking almost every year. They had been planted in troughs raised above the ground at hand height so no back breaking bending over to pick. Such a good idea especially as my back has seen better days!

The plum trees were heaving and we didn't even have to move off the spot before we had filled two punnets.

The cherry trees were unreal, I've never seen so many cherries in one place. There were quite a few wasps around too so we had to pick carefully.

Once we had picked enough, we shot off down the road to a lovely little stream which is perfect for picnics. We ate a few nibbly bits before eating some of the strawberries we had just picked for pudding. Yum.

Then the girls had a little paddle in the stream which was remarkably clean and very shallow, and a bit cold.

The tortoises had the most incredible time in the heat, they were noticeably happier and more active, soaking up the sunshine and charging around the tortoise enclosure searching for food. They are finding it a bit difficult being inside all the time now, although it won't be long before they go into hibernation.

Just before the girls went back to school, we took a day trip to the Big Feastival, which was organised by Jamie Oliver and Alex James. We were so lucky with the weather, the food was amazing and there was plenty to keep us all occupied. It was a fab day out and here is an aerial shot taken on my phone at the top of the Ferris Wheel, which I really shouldn't have gone on as I went a bit green and had to close my eyes and go to my special place to get through it without screaming or throwing up. The last time I went to my special place was when I gave birth to my two kids!!
So there we have it, roll on Winter. x

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


It seems like a lifetime ago that we were in Singapore but it's lovely looking back over a few of the photos, bringing back wonderful memories of a fantastic once in a lifetime holiday.
The above photo is of the 50 metre pool at the apartment block where my sister and brother in law live. We made the most of the pool due to the extreme humidity, it was very refreshing I can assure you!


My favourite building in Singapore - very art deco. There are a lot of 1920s and 1930s buildings in Singapore, nestled in amongst the more modern high rise blocks.

We stopped by this mosque to have some ice cream and a rest in the shade. A gorgeous little street, completely different to anywhere else we had seen on our travels.

We ate in Satay Street one evening - here's the remains of our meal, chicken and beef satay which was cooked in vast quantities on the street in front of you. Notice the blue fan on the table - these were well used whilst we were out there!

And we couldn't go to Singapore without the obligatory trip to Raffles. We didn't go in the long bar and none of us ordered a Singapore Sling but we drank delicious cocktails (even non alcoholic ones for the kids) and relaxed on the outside terrace.

There was a very conveniently placed cupcake shop just round the corner from the apartment so we indulged a couple of times. Tea and cake on the balcony - bliss!

The Gardens by the Bay which we visited were stunning. We are not gardeners but we still enjoyed a trip round these two huge conservatory type structures. This lions head was carved from wood. Incredible.

Waterfalls in one of the conservatories. The girls weren't so keen on looking at plants but still had a great time climbing up inside this waterfall tower.

A view of the Marina Bay Sands building through glass.

I was really hoping there would be a miniature version of this lion in the gift shop at the Gardens by the Bay but alas, it was full of garish sparkly tat!

There was a bookshop just round the corner from my sister's place which had a vintage section out the back. Look at their cool collection of vintage Pez sweet dispensers. I had to stop myself from buying any, we have enough at home already.

They also had a large collection of glassware and a box full of vintage black and white photos. I love old photos and bought a couple to display at home.

These art deco apartments surrounded the apartment block where my sister lives. Beautiful streets to meander around.

We had such a great time, I'm sure I could bore you all with dozens more photos! A real experience and memories I will treasure for years to come. x

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Crewel obsession

I bought a book over a year ago on crewel embroidery. It has sat, along with lots of embroidery wool from the charity shop, in a project bag in the wardrobe. I have always meant to have a go but never had the inclination to just go for it and deal with any disastrous results. Having only ever concentrated on tapestries in the past, I thought it was going to be tricky and too fiddly for my lack of patience. Then I saw the perfect kit was on sale and had to order it.

It came all the way from across the pond from this lovely lady. It arrived when we were on holiday so it was a much needed treat when I got home ( a 12 hour flight including travel sickness from one of my daughters kind of did me in. I could have kissed the tarmac once we'd landed!).

I am really really having fun with this crewel kit. It is so easy and quick to work up. Makes a nice change from crochet, which I've found the weather is still a bit too hot to have a crochet blanket in progress on my lap. A nice embroidery hoop and a tiny bit of woollen thread works out much better at this time of year.

I was just lamenting the lack of crewel kits available in the UK - either on ebay or in charity shops when I popped out and what did I find?

You couldn't get more Granny Chic if you tried and all for £1. Included is the printed fabric, needle and embroidery thread. It looks like it hasn't ever been removed from its packaging. Can't wait to get started on it, although I must finish the current one first. Must also start looking for an appropriately sized picture frame in the charity shops too.

Here is my Crewel work project bag, stuffed with hoops and wool, all bought at bargain prices. This kind of stuff always seems to be ultra cheap in the charity shops, you just have to rummage around to find it though. Right, must get on. I have been doing much needed housework this morning and now it's time to sit back with a cup of tea and relax. Holiday photos next post. x

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Apple for the teacher

Well, it's that time of year again - what to buy for the teacher? I decided I would make some apple coasters using some leftover cotton yarn. They turned out really well after blocking and sewn on pips! It was an extremely quick and easy pattern too, only just under ten minutes to crochet each apple (minus the leaf). I've already had a request for some apple bunting. I found the pattern here. It's free and so quick and easy to follow. I went in search of a mug to go with the coasters and found this fab green one which kind of looks like a big juicy green apple. I bunged a couple of walnut whips in for good measure. As you do. I really hope the teacher likes her gift, F so enjoyed having her as her teacher.
One of F's other teachers is due to give birth to her second child in August so I have plans to make something. I made her first child this blanket. I don't know what she is having this time so I will have to wait and see and then quickly crochet something ready for September so I can pass it on. I have a pattern in mind if she has a girl but F thinks she is having a boy. Who knows?!
Lots of things have been happening recently - we decorated our bedroom and got new carpet (yes, the ugly purple shagpile has gone, you cannot understand how ecstatic I am about that), I have made a couple of dresses and crocheted quite a few little bits and pieces. We are going on holiday soon, a trip to Singapore to see my sister and brother in law. Yes, they moved from Hong Kong to Singapore, how convenient for us! So so so looking forward to seeing them and it will be great to have a holiday so soon after school breaks up - we usually have our holiday at the end of the Summer holidays. We are definitely ready for it.
I think we are going to be quite spontaneous these Summer holidays, we will just see what we fancy doing as each day comes. There is only a 2 year age gap between my two but they increasingly seem to want to do different things. Will have to see where our imaginations take us. I would like to go on some picnics by the river (weather permitting) and strawberry picking has also been mentioned but I think we are a bit late for that this year. We would have gone over the past few days but the weather was just too hot. Cinema is always a winner especially when it's raining, we've also got our swimming pool up which has been in constant use over the past three weeks. Not sure how much use we will get out of it for the rest of the Summer but we'll see. xxx

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


The big button is up there on the right. You know the drill. BTW, I didn't know Google Reader existed until all this talk about it closing down started. I'll crawl back under my technology free rock now! x

Friday, 14 June 2013

Mmm cake

Celebrating F's 10th birthday this weekend. Lots of cake has been made, hoping we get lots of visitors this weekend to eat it all up before I do! Hope you all have a lovely weekend whatever you're doing. x

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Great British Sewing Bee day trip out

Back at the end of April, E and I visited a very special shop opening. Lauren from the Great British Sewing Bee was opening her very own (along with her husband Ayaz) haberdashery shop. It's about an hour and a half's drive from my house but it was well worth the journey. We turned up about an hour after the official opening time but we still had to queue for ten minutes outside. The shop was heaving, so many people, it was amazing to see. And of course it was so lovely to meet some of the contestants from the show - Lauren, Ann and Tilly were there, as you can see in the above photo, and I had a little chat with Stuart who was an absolute delight. There are lots of photos on Tilly and Lauren's blog, some of which appear to have me in the background! Don't quite know how that happened, I wasn't posing honest!!
Of course we had to spend some pennies having travelled so far to visit and I'm always keen to support independent businesses. E and I decided to buy some fabric to make a bag each to take with us on holiday. I think I will make a tote bag as per the tutorial on Lauren's blog. The fabric I chose is the brown floral one, E surprised me by choosing a pale pink floral after hating pink for the past 5 years. We also got some pom pom makers (great fun), a cute apple tape measure for E, a seam ripper for me (this unfortunately gets a fair amount of use when I'm sewing) and some fabric squares. I also bought a Colette Hazel dress pattern. Everyone on t'internet seems to be raving about Colette patterns so I thought I would give one a go. 

We had such a fab day, including a delicious lunch at a local Italian restaurant. Unfortunately we didn't have time to visit any of the numerous charity shops we passed on the way home. There seemed to be one every other shop at one point. I was desperately trying to stop myself from shouting "Stop the Car!" at my husband.

Not too sure what I will make with these but I may use one or two when making the bags. I really wanted to buy the GBSB book but they had run out at the shop so I ordered a couple of copies from Amazon - one for me and one for my Mum. Lots of patterns in there that I would like to make but I decided on the dress that Stuart made in the first episode. If you watched the show, you may remember it was made in the green and navy Chinese lantern fabric above but I dug out some fabric I bought from the charity shop a few weeks ago. Three metres of grey floral fabric for £3.75, not bad at all and it meant I wouldn't feel too bad if I messed up.

I only took one photo whilst making this. Here is the lined bodice on Deirdre my dressmaker's dummy.

And here is a photo of the nearly finished dress. I tried to fit a lapped side zip and managed to break the sewing machine needle when I hit one of the zip teeth, consequently breaking the zip as well. I have unpicked and bought a replacement zip and put off fitting it for the last two weeks. In the meantime I have made three other dresses, one is just a wearable muslin though.  After the zip disaster I picked up a dress pattern which doesn't need a zip or buttonholes. It's a New Look Easy 2 hour pattern hence the reason I have made 3 in the past couple of weeks! I really must face my zip phobia though.
I've cut out the pattern pieces for the Hazel dress and will make a muslin of the bodice to check for fit before cutting into the actual fabric. So many plans, so little time. Don't worry, I have still found time in the evenings to crochet in front of the telly. Have got some photos of stuff I have made over the past couple of months.
It was a fantastic day trip out and I'd definitely go again. Lauren's shop also has an online shop so do check it out and see what gorgeous fabrics etc. she has available.
Finally, just a little reminder about the Bloggy Blanket that I added some crochet squares to. I still have it carefully packed away under my coffee table. If you would like to add some squares to this blanket, please either contact me or leave a comment here so we can get the blanket moving and growing again. It's all for a very good cause. Thanks.   

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Time outside (finally)

Since the weather has turned Spring like, we have been spending some much needed time in the garden. I've done a fair bit of weeding and the garden is starting to look a bit tidier. We had our first BBQ of the year earlier in the week and the tortoises are in heaven now that they have finally been allowed to venture outdoors.

No idea what this post will look like as this is my first blog post using my phone. If it all goes to plan, I will hopefully be able to blog a bit more frequently. :)

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Purple Shawl

So, I promised I would tell you what I have made with this wool that was kindly given to my by this lovely lady. I decided I may just have enough to make a shawl and found this beautiful snug looking shawl in a magazine that I bought a couple of months ago.

I made a start and boy, is this wool amazing to work with. So soft, doesn't split, works up really quickly. I really really enjoyed making this. Anyway, you may be interested in the magazine that I got the pattern from. It's from the makers of Inside Crochet which I have never bought before. Now don't be put off by the awful neon chain link scarf on the front cover, there are multiple crochet treasures awaiting inside this publication. It was a little pricy at £9.99 but it is chocca full of patterns and I have already made/am making 4 things from this mag and have plans to make many more - no really, I have already bought yarn specifically for one of the projects!

This is really rather strange for me as I'm usually quite particular about what I want to make and search the internet for patterns. I don't think I have ever bought a crochet magazine before as the patterns never seem to appeal. Also, if the publishers of Simply Crochet are reading this (almost definitely not!) you're going to have to up your game quite a lot more before I fork out any money for your magazine, the patterns are just not my thing at all. Considering they are the same publishers as Mollie Makes (which I really like) I was quite disappointed that the Simply Crochet mag does not match Mollie Makes' high standards. Just my opinion, for what it's worth.

I finished the shawl very quickly, missing off the frilly edging and just doing a border of the same stitch as the main pattern. I steam blocked the shawl with the iron and left it to dry, then popped out to the charity shop to look for a toggle button. As luck would have it, there was one lone toggle in the button bowl and as is usually the case, the charity shop worker had no clue about its price so gave it to me for free. Hoorah. I hasten to add, I did buy some other stuff at said charity shop so they didn't miss out.

It's really difficult trying to take a photo of yourself whilst modelling a shawl. Sorry about the awful photos. E got a camera for her birthday last week so hopefully she will be willing to take better photos for me. :)

I really loved making this shawl and it goes perfectly with my winter coat. I can see myself wearing it instead of a cardie in the Spring/Autumn too.

Last week I had a huge sort through of my yarn stash. Now all wool is in one bag and all cotton is in another. I know exactly what I've got so I can choose my next projects accordingly. (Trying to sound very organised there, which is wildly inaccurate!) I am currently trying to finish off a few UFOs as well as they seem to be piling up in bags throughout the house. Unfortunately (well, very fortunately to be honest!) I went to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show last week with Alison and we had a ball and I added significantly to my wool stash. Will let you know about it soon. x

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Charity Blanket

I am ashamed to say that I received this parcel quite a while ago and still haven't blogged about it. Today is the day!

I volunteered to join in with making a blanket for charity - see Mum's Simply Living Blog - the details of joining in with the Bloggy Blanket are here. I waited with anticipation for the blanket to arrive, mulling over in my head which yarn to use and which blocks I would add (with the help of my 200 Crochet Blocks book). A parcel arrived and I carefully opened it to find a card and two packages beautifully wrapped in tissue paper. The contents of one package were the two skeins of wool above. Oh my goodness, this is the most gorgeous, delicious wool. The colour is difficult to describe, sort of purple with a pearlescent thread running through it, intermingled with the odd splodge (for want of a better word!) of teal, mint green and strawberry red. It's a Colinette Art yarn, colour Mint Chocolate 151 and it is just amazing. This yarn was very generously slipped into the package by the very lovely and extremely kind Thrifty Mummy Hen - thank you so much, I love it and you are too kind.

 Now, I have had this wool sat in my little wool basket next to the sofa for a few weeks now, every so often getting it out of its tissue paper for a little stroke and ponder over what I could make with it. Well, I have almost finished , just a bit of blocking and the addition of a button possibly and all will be done. I will take photos and blog asap, promise.

Anyway, the other package of course contained the bloggy blanket.

So many different squares have been completed so far, some I recognised as I was flicking through the 200 blocks book. As you can see, once I'd added the 5 squares I completed, the blanket is no longer square, in fact it looks rather abstract. But it is growing and it needs to get a bit bigger, sort of lap sized. This is where we need your help - could you volunteer to add a few more squares?

If so, please take a look at Mum's Simply Living Blog Bloggy Blanket Chain  and follow the instructions. Seeing as I received such a beautiful gift with the blanket, I am planning on sneaking in a little gift to the next person to receive the blanket. Probably something handmade. What do you say?

Monday, 4 February 2013

Still here

Apologies for my absence. It's been a busy few weeks here, we have had our bathroom and cloakroom ripped out and refitted. Still ongoing, one more day later on this week should mean everything is fitted and then we just need to get around to painting walls and ceilings. It didn't help that we got a whole load of snow during the process, I thought we may not be able to fit much more in the skip as it kept filling up with the white stuff! You can still see just a little bit of turquoise bath in there - lovely. I've got so much to blog about, just need to get photos sorted. xx

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Jewel Blanket and Never Ending Blanket

All the ends have been sewn in and a border of three rows of plain treble clusters has been completed. I thought the colours could do all the talking so the border is nothing fancy. Perfect for little people to fling over themselves and poke their toes through the holes (why do they all do that?!) without me getting annoyed. This blanket was finished back in December and has seen quite a bit of use since then. Still love the jewel like colours against the black outline.

As soon as I'd finished I decided I would do a bit of stash busting. I have an increasing supply of left over yarn from previous projects, and also odd balls of pure wool/part wool yarn from charity shops or donated to me by my Mum. I have been wanting to make a giant granny square blanket for a while and rather than buy yet more wool to make one, the oddments piling up in my wardrobe were going to get used.

This is the very beginning of the blanket. I love looking back at photos like this - the very start of something that I have made, before I even knew what it was going to look like. This was definitely not a project that had been planned in any great detail. I had wool and lots of it and I was going to turn it into a blanket in any which way I could. I started off with the smallest oddments, those teeny tiny lengths of wool that most other people would chuck out but I squirrel them away, knowing they will get used eventually.

Some of the wools I have used are the leftovers from my very first crochet blanket. It was such a lovely blanket to make, reminiscing about previous things I have made. The blanket grew and grew until I ran out of wool (apart from some more of that mid blue wool but I want to add a few more stripes of different colours before I do another few rows of blue.) and this is where the Never Ending name comes from. I am going to keep adding to this blanket every time I find some more wool or have leftovers from another project. The blanket will keep on growing until it is enormous.

I suppose it's about 1m square at the moment and it's getting some use already. All ends have been sewn in, pretty much as I went along - very unlike me! I'm loving this blanket already, even if it is a bit scratchy. Probably needs a wash to soften it up. Can you see what my favourite colours are? Blues, greys, greens, with the odd splash of mustard or coral. It fits into our lounge perfectly.

And the best thing of all? Both of these blankets were made out of my wool stash (just had to buy a couple of balls of black for the jewel blanket) so I have been very thrifty over the past few months.

Do you think I will ever stop making blankets? I think not. Although I have made a few things recently that are not blanket related. Will blog about them soon. x