Friday, 3 March 2017

Five on Friday

Hello dear friends and readers,

It's that time of the week again so today I am joining in with Five on Friday (hosted by my lovely friend Amy of Love Made My Home). This week has been a fairly quiet one although I seem to have spent ridiculous amounts of time ferrying children about and driving to and from various schools. My 3 Little People all go to different schools. Mr Teenager goes to a secondary school that's 4 miles away, with his autism he wouldn't cope with the bus so I drive him there and back each day. Little Miss is at our local catchment secondary school and walks there with her friends. She loves that independence, and even if it's tipping it down with rain she'd rather walk than have a lift from me. I'm so, like, embarrassing. And Little Tomboy is still at primary school so I walk her there and back. It's a bit of a juggling act and in the afternoon I don't always have time to drop Mr Teenager and my car at home before walking up to get Little Tomboy, so sometimes I pick her up on the way home in the car, but I prefer to walk if I can. Then you add in all the clubs (football, gymnastics, drama, guides, kickboxing, Photoshop-club, badminton) and its a wonder I am ever at home. 

Anyway enough waffle ... here are 5 snippets of my week .....

1. Little Tomboy's school had some duck eggs that they nurtured, and last week they hatched - great excitement. It wasn't in her year but we popped in to the relevant classroom after school one day to see them ..... Soooo fluffy and cute .....

2. On Monday the pre-school attached to our primary school had a fundraising bingo night. Just in the school hall, bring your own snack and drinks - bottle of rosΓ© wine, don't mind if I do - do you like my heart paper-cups - so classy. It was a fun night, I won £5 (so it's not big money!) and a nice little raffle prize of some hand-cream. The raffle prizes are donated by people and are often unwanted gifts or bottles of wine, so it can be hit and miss. I have in the past won a bottle of wine which was so revolting I poured it down the sink. I know. Yes it was that bad. So nice hand-cream was a pleasant surprise :)

3. There has been a bit more in the way of sunshine and blue skies this week, and the daffodils are coming through. This is our local park which we pass on the way to school each day, and at which Little Miss hangs out with her friends. Even though she's at secondary school now you are never to old to play on a swing 😊 There's also a great little local cafe and of course all important sweet shop.

4. Little Miss goes to Guides and they've been working on their Confectionery badge. I think basically this teaches them how and where to get inordinate amounts of sugar into their diet. They need to learn how to make truffles and peppermint cremes, and at their meeting on Tuesday they made little icing cake-toppers. She made this one of a teddy sort of hanging over a moon, so sweet. Literally.

She also made cupcakes, but we aren't allowed to mention those because she stupidly left her bowl (containing her last cupcake) on the sofa in reach of Pixie. So, yes, it got eaten by the dog, cupcake case and all. Lots of tears. Mr EC (big softy) gave her a little bowl of Minstrels by way of consolation. She ate one then dropped the bowl on the floor so the dog got those too. More tears. We then sort of accidentally reminded her that she had wanted to give up chocolate for Lent, and a minstrel is ... well ... chocolate. Even more tears. Not a fun evening. Luckily the cake-topper did not meet with any calamity and is still intact.

5. We had a really lovely afternoon last Sunday out at our local National Trust Property, Basildon Park. If you follow Amy's blog Love Made My Home you will have heard about Basildon Park, as Amy works there, and I have also blogged about it before here. Mr Teenager is now of an age where he doesn't want to come along, and needs his own space and some peace from his sisters, so we leave him at home playing xbox online with his friends. This is a recent development for us: having to drag a reluctant autistic 12-13 year old everywhere is not fun let me tell you. He tries very hard but, due to the autism, anywhere new causes so much anxiety and upset, it's always a nightmare trying to get him to get ready and causes everyone to get super-stressed and grumpy before we've even left the house. So for us now to be able to leave him at home (and for him to be okay with that) is really a bit of a game-changer.

Anyway, back to Basildon Park.  So we went out with just the girls. This time we went slightly off-piste and instead of walking round the garden we followed one of the trails - the orange one - through the woodland. Ok, so not strictly off piste then, but a bit of an adventure nonetheless. We covered about 4 miles, we had one tired little doggy at the end. It was extremely muddy - we had a few slippages and near misses but nobody actually fell over.

You can just see the front of the house through this gap in the trees ....

I wish we could have taken credit for this awesome little shelter but it was not us who made it. Isn't it fab ?

The end of the walk brings you out at the side of the house ...

....and being back at the house means you are at the tea-room. They even have a special extra tea room where dogs are welcome 😊

In the above photo you can see a press/cupboard at the far end - here is a closer look. I just adore it, I'd love something like that in my kitchen however Mr EC is very much the minimalist and would definitely resist that decision. So perhaps best not to go there!

Hope everyone has had a great week.
Til next time,

Friday, 24 February 2017

Five on Friday

Hello dear friends and readers,

It's nearly the end of February, can you believe it. We had half-term here just over a week ago, and I went to NIreland for the week. I'll share more on that another time, but for today I am joining in with Five on Friday (hosted by my lovely friend Amy of Love Made My Home). I am sharing five things on my hook.....

1. A toy puppy for Little Tomboy .... his face is a bit wonky but that's just giving him more character I think ....

2. A unicorn head. It is going to be a unicorn, I promise, I know it looks like a weirdo frog ghost at the moment....

3. My autumn blanket. Still got around 15 squares to go so it might just get done for next autumn lol

4. This sort of inverse pineapple scarf ...... a from magazine pattern that caught my eye .....

5. And the start of my Scheepjes Hygge Cal .... (yes, another Cal)

Just a really quick one from me today folks, hope you all have a great weekend :)

Til next time,
Jill xxxxx

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Hearts and flowers

Hello dear friends and readers :)
Just a quick post from me today, I took a small diversion from my various works-in-progress to make a little gift for a friend. It's her birthday and I know she has just redecorated her dining-room with a purple theme, so I wanted to give her something purpley for her birthday, and I wanted part of it to be handmade.

She is a huuuuge candle fan. Every time I go round to her house it smells divine, and she always says it's because she burns candles. Personally I do not trust myself with candles, having twice had near misses where I one time badly burned a wall when a candle fell against it, and another time the mat that a little candle-in-a-tin went on fire as the tin got too hot. Yikes. No nice smell is worth a house fire. Thankfully my friend is clearly much more candle-safe than me. I'd have loved to actually make her a candle, but just haven't had enough time - I got a load of candle-making bits for my birthday last year but haven't used them yet, I need to practice before I start making gifts for people. Maybe next year ....

I decided to stick to something a bit safer, and crocheted her a hanging heart. I'd seen this post of Lucy from Attic24's, which in turn references this post by BeaG on Flickr. You make two hearts then double-crochet them together and then stuff. Pretty straightforward. I also added a really simple little flower with a wooden button.

Such a simple little pattern that produces a really sweet little hanging heart. Hopefully my friend will love it, and maybe even in part because its hand-made.

I also decided to make her a card, I'm not very good at thinking of card designs, so I occasionally buy card-making magazines for inspiration. I found an old magazine with a kit comprising patterned card and some fun little sentiment greeting thingies, and sort of used one of their designs with a few small changes.

I used a white card blank from my card stash, bits and pieces from the magazine kit, and some sparkly gems for a bit of bling.

I'm giving her her present tomorrow morning so I hope she loves it :) I'll report back soon to let you know.

Til next time - be safe with those candles people!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Five on Friday

Hello dear friends and readers, gosh is it really the end of another week ? It must be time for another Five on Friday, hosted again by Amy over at Love Made My Home. This week I have a bit of a random selection, just stuff from my week (and a bit from the week before), nothing earth-shattering, but I hope you enjoy my photos and blurb anyway ....

1. Can you believe it's February already ? I normally hate January, definitely have that post-Christmas Blues type thing, but this year hasn't been as bad. I've no idea why, but I'm glad it's February, and I'm glad to be waking up feeling good. Having daffodils around always helps too, they just seem so fresh and new and bright, and full of hope and promise.

2. The weekend before last I entered an OCR - Obstacle Course Race - called Muscle Acre. And yes it definitely lived up to its name. Basically an OCR is a run but with lots of obstacles and lots and lots of mud and water. Here's an un-muddy photo of me before the race ...

It was the first OCR I'd done, and wowsers it was SUCH good fun! Completely exhausting, but tremendous fun. On the day of the race it was 0 degC, and the first obstacle was to climb in and out of a skip filled with cold water. So pretty much within the first 5 minutes we were soaking wet. The good thing about that is it makes you keep going as you'd get far too cold far too quick if you didn't. A bit further on we had to wade through muddy water that was waist deep with massive slabs of ice floating about on it. Can you see my lips turning blue - hypothermia is a risk - but I was sure just to keep moving.

(Don't worry about it saying Clare Sheppard below that photo, thats my friend who facebook'ed it!)
One comedy moment was when we had to crawl under a skip, I crawled in one end fine, but when I tried to crawl out the other end I couldn't make it through due to my boobs being too big LOL I had to reverse and go out the way I came in. There were lots of crawling type obstacles, a lot where you had to commando crawl, hence the boobs got very muddy ....

There were also a lot of climbing obstacles but with lots of mud around it was really hard to grip with my hands so I did a lot of hauling myself up and letting myself down by throwing my whole arm over the top. I didn't realise until after I'd had a shower just how many bruises I had ....

And then of course there's the medal and beanie that all finishers get. I've got a few running medals but have to say I really felt I'd earned this one!

3. Back to more sedentary pastimes - after reading this post of Amy's I decided to give sock-knitting a bash. Like Amy I'm following the sock-a-long by Christine who is also known as WinwickMum, but so far I've only got as far as doing a tension square. It's the first time I've ever knitted with 4-ply and I am loving it, I love how soft and light the resulting fabric is, and I can't wait to get going on an actual sock. 

And of course I had to jump the gun and buy some more sock yarn - which came with a free pattern sheet too. Can you see the sparkly bits in the pink one - glittery socks! How fabulous!

4. Another thing I want to share with you is some of Little Man's drawings. He's actually 13 now so not so little, so I think I need to start calling him Mr13 (nicking Meredith of Mereknits idea). Anyway despite not choosing Art as an option for GCSE, Mr13 is pretty artistic. We think he gets this from my Dad who was a pretty great artist (he was an architect), I'll share some of his pictures some time too. Anyway here are Mr13's drawings, they are in the Manga style which is a form of Japanese animation. Aren't they gorgeous ? I just adore the eyes.

5. I got a Fitbit for Christmas and am trying to hit 10,000 steps each day. And what better way than to go out on a dog-walk in the rain with Pixie and Little Tomboy. That's them this afternoon, a lovely end to the week.

They are best friends these two, always playing, running, and snuggling on the sofa. Sooo sweet.

That's it from me for today, hope you all have a lovely weekend,

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Tea cosy hat

Hello dear readers and friends :)
I promised you a post of a finish before the end of January - so here it is :) Are you impressed ?

It was bitterly cold here for the last couple of weeks - it's warmed up a bit now, but last week .... ooo it was so so cold .... brrrrrr ..... I needed a hat and of course that is reason enough to crochet one.

The pattern I used is the Firebrand Slouch hat from my favourite crochet book "Crochet One-skein Wonders" by Judith Durant. I made mine a bit shorter so it wasn't slouchy ....

.... and I wear it with the brim turned up as I think it suits me better.

I seem to have one of those faces that doesn't really suit hats - too roundy? too chubby? hair too short ? glasses ? I don't know. I just know I'm not massively comfortable in a hat, but I think this one is OK. Don't be fooled by the half decent photos, I was very careful not to show off the double-chins.

If I make another - which I may very well do, in a different colour - I'll make the brim deeper so that there's more to turn up. I suspect it looks rather like a tea cosy, hence the post title.

The yarn is King Cole Big Value Chunky, I originally bought it to make a mermaid blanket, but really didn't like how it was working up. For a hat, however, it's perfect - really cosy and warm, and worked up easily in one evening.

Speaking of yarn, I had some "help" with that. Hmmmmm. Naughty doggy ....

.... but how could I be cross ..... soooo cute ....

Anyway, back to the tea-cosy, er I mean hat. Here's the top view (and yes those are maltesers - my favourite) .....

.... And a sort of side view in all its tea-cosy gloriousness :)

I used most of a 100g ball of wool, and have another ball left, so I think I'll make some wristies to match :) Almost a pity that the weather's warmed up !

Til next time,

Friday, 27 January 2017

Five on Friday

Hello dear friends and readers 😊

I'm joining in with Five on Friday, hosted by my very lovely (I know this as I have had real actual coffee with her a few times) friend Amy from Love Made My Home.

I think this falls within the rules but it feels slightly cheaty as it's not really five things, more really just five photos of the same thing. But it is a Very Exciting Thing (well to me, anyway). As I don't have enough yarn in my life (ahem) or enough projects in the go (ahem again) I've decided, slightly belatedly, to join in the Moorland Blanket CAL with Lucy of Attic24 - hurray!

Honestly I've been longing to make this blanket since Lucy first introduced it on her blog back in November or so. Now, bear with me while I seem to go off on a tangent - until my late 20's (I stopped around the time I met my husband) I holidayed in the Highlands of Scotland with my family (as in my parents and my brother). My parents were very big on golf (Mum still is) so my brother and I sort of grew up on golf courses, and the place we went to - Dornoch - has a championship golf course, and also the most amazing beach. A really stunning natural beach, there were no places to rent deckchairs, no lifeguards, no public toilets, just beautiful, rugged, unspoilt beach, edged by the sand dunes with the golf course just the other side. At the time I was very jealous of all my friends jetting off to Majorca or Spain, and coming back with amazing suntans, whereas I came back with sand in my shoes, a bit of sunburn if I was lucky, and a stick of rock. Looking back though I think our holidays in Dornoch were pretty idyllic - from when I was aged 4 we went to the same hotel at the same time each year, along with several other families from Scotland, England, and even the U.S. Going to Dornoch was the only way we knew each other and we met up for the exact same two weeks every year. There were at least 20 of us kids, and the adults all played golf - some of the kids did too. The adults would take it in turns to take a day off from the golf to look after the kids, we played in the gardens (swing ball, cricket, hide and seek) or if it was raining we'd get taken to the swimming pool in the next town. There would be at least 8 children crammed in each car, there were no car seat regulations in those days. We'd play in the hotel lounge if it was wet (card games, jigsaws, colouring, messing about with walkie talkies and whoopee cushions LOL), and get coke and crisps from the bar, and if it was dry (note - not necessarily warm) we'd go to the beach for some fun but chilly swimming, kite-flying, making sand castles, exploring rock pools. When we were teenagers we had barbeques on the beach, the girls discussed boys, the boys probably discussed girls, some of us dated each other and there were even 2 weddings eventually. The town of Dornoch is very small so we could walk from the hotel to the golf club or the beach, and we had endless freedom, just appearing back at the hotel (or the golf club) at mealtimes. Really wonderful times. At the end of the two weeks I would cry the whole way home as I knew I wouldn't see everyone again for a whole year. The whole thing was just magical, it was pure luck that we found the hotel, and that everyone else went there at the same time, as young kids we all felt like brothers and sisters. I really wish my children could have had the same experiences, but as I said it was like a little bit of magic, and you couldn't replicate it if you tried.

Aaaaanyway, back to the CAL. The reason I mentioned holidaying in Scotland is because so many of my memories feature us on the beach, and in my mind's eye I can see the golden sand, the blue skies, the yellowy-green of the sand dunes, and the purple heather edging the lush green of the golf course.
The moorland palette really is the same as the Highlands palette, so for me the blanket will really be a Highlands blanket, and it will always remind me of Dornoch.

So, back to the moorland pack. Lucy was introducing it and tempting us with lots of photos before Christmas, so it would have been a perfect Christmas present for the hubby to get me. This wasn't going to happen though as I had already asked for some other wool (more on that another time). Plus I knew hubby would then want to bring it in the car to NIreland for me to open on Christmas Day, and the car would be already very, very full with 5 suitcases (3 contained just presents!), 2 adults, 3 not very little Little People, various backpacks, one dog, and one dog's crate. And no, we don't have a roof-box or a trailer, just a Mum (me) who is exceedingly good at packing a car boot (I get that from my Dad who showed a similar skill set every year when packing for Dornoch). Plus if I got it for Christmas I 'd have to wait til the official start date of Jan 6th before getting going on it - how frustrating would that be! And finally then there's the fact, pure and simple: I. Don't. Need. Any. More. Wool.

I very strictly told myself I didn't need it, had enough wool, and enough WIPs, and to just forget about it.

Except I couldn't.

Kept thinking of those gorgeous colours all together .... and of course kept seeing updates on Lucy's blog ..... and there was the draw of a new project .... in the end, how could I resist?

I went ahead and ordered the pack quite late one evening this week, and without my glasses on. I often feel if I order stuff with no specs on then it isn't really real and doesn't really count as a purchase. Bonkers, I know. Then I realised it was due to arrive on Saturday when hubby would be here. Aaargh! There's no way I could justify yet another wool purchase to him. But it was done, nothing I could do about it ..... However the doorbell rang at lunchtime today and there was my lovely postman holding a big squashy bag with a Wool Warehouse sticker - hurray hurRAY HURRAY!!! So not only did it arrive early, but hubby won't even have to know about it (one ball of wool is the same as the next to him, and he STILL calls my crochet my knitting - bless him).

This pack really is gorgeous, and there is something so delicious about an array of perfectly formed balls of wool, isn't there ? I just want to lie down on a bed made of balls of wool. A wool ball pi, no there's a thought :)

So Lucy lists all the colours in the moorland pack here, the yarn is all Stylecraft Special DK, and the pack includes some colours I haven't used before, so that is my excuse for ordering Yet More Wool :)

I'm storing it in my slightly too small but highly appropriate wavy bag. This was a present from my Mum years ago and also has beachy memories - when my Little People were a lot littler this bag was always our NIrish beach bag - usually to be found stuffed with towels, sun hats, sun cream (optimistic), hoodies, jackets (the beach in NIreland is not known for its heat...), biscuits, water bottles, bits of shell and stone, and bucket loads of sand (why is there always So Much Sand). The handle came off the bag a couple of years ago rendering it useless for the beach (sob) but it is perfect for storing a crochet project.

I'm going to be a Very Good Hooker and, as Lucy suggests, make a tension square with some random bits of Stylecraft Special DK from my stash. I don't want to make a tension square that is just useless, so I'm going to make it big enough to be a cushion cover for Little Miss, for her bedroom, using the colours below. In fact I think Lucy has made a cushion cover with this pattern, that's probably where I got the idea.

And of course I'll be updating you as I make progress on this CAL. Can't wait to get started and lose myself in that glorious Highland palette 😊

Til next time,