Friday, 30 July 2010

Crochet will live on ...

The girls dutifully turned up for their second session last night - and excitement or excitements, we sat in the Summer House!  How fab.
Both girls had managed to turn round on themselves and were doing rounds in reverse but it wasn't too noticeable so with a little bit of remedial work they were off and on their way again.

Harriet is making a blanket in one big round with some unusual colours which really work well.  How proud does she look, bless her!

Rachel is going for a checkerboard approach with lots of big grannies and is in danger of poking her eye out with the hook if she gets much closer to her work!  Not easy working in a dark colour though.

Two natural born crafters are in the making here as they already have lots of thoughts tumbling around about what they want to make next, crochet, patchwork - looks like the competition at the boot sales and charity shops is increasing :)

I'm still working on my bright stripey blanket but have used up all my colours now so will have to take a break whilst I wait for more to arrive. 

 No matter, two weeks off work now so plenty of time to let my creativity run wild. 
 Ooooh, I am so excited about being off work!  Can't remember the last time I had two consecutive weeks off.

Deb had commented on my crochet flower a while back so I will try and post some instructions that make sense (since I kind of made it up as I went along).

It may be grey and overcast but these lillies have continued to thrive, struggling their way up through the soil to give a wonderful display and scent outside my back door.  Aren't bulbs amazing?

Happy Weekend!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Summer Loving

... finally, my big garden treat has arrived!  I've been toying with the idea of a summer house ever since I had to leave my lovely old one 8 years ago and decided to take the plunge.  I was hoping it would be in situ for Michael's 21st but it wasn't to be.  It arrived on Saturday evening and I spent Sunday applying white emulsion for the beach hut look.



It's a long way from finished but I had two dear friends round for some bubbles and a christening meal which was just fabulous.   I had to make a start with the interior furnishings but am very excited at the prospect of making it a lovely cosy hideaway.  I've spent many a happy hour in Angie's summer house so it was great to return the favour for a change (and the lovely Captain Birdseye is going to put the electrics in for me in the Autumn) so we'll be all set for Winter evenings out there too.

Not much time for anything else this weekend what with cooking, gardening, painting and socialising but just time to squeeze in a few little pressies for one of my favourite blog pals which I can show you now because she was a happy recipient at the weekend.  It warms my heart  to know I've spread a little happiness.  My friend, Vive loved her book as she can never find anything with her name on.

Small pleasures....

Wishing you sunshine, happiness and a warm glow in your heart


Friday, 23 July 2010

Happy Girlies

How lovely to see a young girl's face light up at the prospect of learning an old lady craft.  At Michael's party one of his friends expressed a wish to learn to crochet so I was more than happy to host a small sisterhood mark 3 gathering - an intimate little group with just myself, my big sis, Anne, Harriet and Rachel (a beginner returner in need of a quick refresher course).

I reckon Harriet is going to be a crochet fiend once she finds her own way of handling the hook and Rachel quickly picked up where she left off so two granny blankets are now well under way.  I wonder what time the girls went to bed as they were both eager to get home and carry on!  Hope neither fell asleep and ended up with a crochet hook up the nose!

Harriet is very pleased with her little self!

Look at clever Rahel!

Anne tries to decide which colour next for her ever growing blanket

OK, yes, there were cakes and a smidgen of wine. 

Where has the week gone?  It's flown by but there's always time to squeeze in a little creativity around the mundanity of work and domestic chores, hey?

I covered this book with some lovely fresh Greengate fabric for my lovely Swedish office mate, Viveka - a belated birthday present - but need to make another little something to go with it...

I made a start on my Lucy granny stripe blanket - might have to put my sunglasses on for this project!

So much to fit into this weekend - the garden needs some attention, the house needs some attention, I have not one but two social events (!!!), a car boot sale on Sunday and I want to sew!  Will have to get my skates on and be mega organised.  Maybe just one more cup of tea first .....

Wishing you and yours a happy weekend!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

A gay day in York

As promised, Michael and I headed off to York to do a little 21st birthday present shopping.  His wallet was bulging with birthday money - but who needs that when Mummy has her handy piece of plastic.  Needing to recover from no sleep at all on the Saturday night he rose quite late but at least we missed the rain but then it felt like a sauna in York.  Almost too hot to shop...


we had a little Love Actually moment in Reiss as the very nice young man lovingly wrapped a t-shirt in tissue, drawers were opened and stickers brandished with a flourish, a bag produced with apologies for it being the old design, more stickers adorned the bag and then the receipt also got the treatment (no lavender though) - Michael and I were both thinking the same thing  "tis but the work of a moment" - oh, the joys of such little shared moments ....

all that for a sale t-shirt!

We went for a very nice lunch and headed home happy and content with our little foray.

Whilst Michael was sleeping I managed to finish the quilt - my tennis elbows were protesting pointedly by the end of the machine quilting (and one broken needle) session later.  The wadding was very thick and the backing was a brushed cotton duvet cover I was recycling so all in all quite a weighty project what with all the denim too.

Happily, Michael was suitably pleased .... his three favourite squares being his initial

(don't look too closely at my wonky sewing - now I know why it's best to use all the same weight fabric!)

the Liberty lawn 

and the cheeky little owl - him being a wise old owl lover.

I amused myself with a little nod to Janet Bolton and little touches from the shirt cuff I used on one of the squares.

One happy Mum and son

So, what's next?  I was going to crochet some flowers for my Mum's cotton crochet bag she's made but she rather liked this one I prepared earlier in true Blue Peter fashion so she adopted it.

However, two of Michael's friends want to learn to crochet so there will be a teach in on Thursday evening.  Should be a nice girlie evening as the boys have been despatched to their Dad's today - always a sad time for me but it does mean lots of free evenings..... and I've a yen to tackle a bit of clothes making - having purchased a couple of tops from White Stuff which look like they might be within the realms of my expertise (ie not requiring much at all!)

Monday, 19 July 2010

21 today - where have all those years gone?

Well, 21 yesterday now as I was too tired to finish this post last night!  I'm talking about son number 2 - Michael 'we have names, mother!'  My sister, Anne and I were both in hospital about to give birth at the same tine - she in Scarborough, me in Winchester trying to hang on a bit longer as Michael was a bit too keen to get out into the big wide world.  We gave birth within 12 hours of each other and I have to say, both these little boys have a lovely nature so I have to think the planets were nicely aligned at the time.

Michael is on the left, Harry on the right, fresh, clean and shiny straight out of the bath in their matching jim-jams.  Those were the days when I could wear horizontal stripes!!

Michael and I are off for a gay day in York today to get him a birthday present but I wanted to make him something as a keepsake.  Ben  (my eldest) didn't want any crochet in his house, thank you very much but I think Michael will appreciate my efforts and I am sure he will put this to good use as a picnic blanket.

I couldn't get it finished in time for the big day but they are off to Scotland with their Dad tomorrow so that should give me plenty of time to get it done

I used old jeans, some old shirts - two of which Ben and Michael wore when they were very, very little boys, some liberty fabric that Michael mentioned liking and some bits of crochet and knitting - lots of different textures but a mainly blue and white theme.  I used the red to cheer it up a bit.  I was a bit worried about tackling this many different weights and textures on my machine and had a few hairy moments with the the bobbin - don't you just hate it when the machine gives that little hiccup as you start to sew which invariably means it's about to cotter up and get your knickers in a knot?  After much cursing and re-threading it was purring away quite happily - not sewing anything but purring away!  Thank goodness it has a self threading needle thingy otherwise it might have been heading out the window!

Now get thee to the kitchen to run the dishwasher for the third time and wash up all those champagne flutes!  

and I'm sorry but I didn't get chance to go shopping for Winter woollies and it's still raining (typical - just pegged out a whole lines of clothes!!)

Friday, 16 July 2010

Silly British Weather

I seem to have lost interest in cooking and even thinking about what meals to cook so William and I tend to eat whatever is quick and easy. However, last night whilst he had his nose stuck in the fridge looking for something to eat he said to me 'Mum, I think some baked potatoes and coleslaw are called for.'  I keep trying to tempt him with the new potatoes from the garden but he's not a fan. I told him that it's not the right season for jacket spuds and they are not at their best. His reply? 'Well, they're a Winter thing really, aren’t they and we are going into Winter now.' I know that we are having very silly weather for this time of year but the onset of winter in mid July? That's pushing it, even for the UK!

But, I feel I must apologise to my fellow Britons about the weather as I think it is my fault. Since we were enjoying a heat wave at the weekend I bought some new flimsy tops (no, not patchwork flimsy although Anne's suggestion of making mine into a kaftan has a certain appeal). So, now that I have some lovely light and cool tops the rain and wind has put in an appearance!  It feels like it's time to put the sweaters and sock back on. I'll go shopping for a winter coat this weekend. Maybe that will do the trick!

Wishing you sunshine and smiles


Wednesday, 14 July 2010

My Flimsy Is Finished

What's a flimsy?  New word I learned today whilst surfing on Fredashive blogspot.  It sounds so much better than saying 'my quilt is nearly finished/needs quilting'.  I've been burning the midnight oil which is rather silly as it makes for a very long and tedious day at work the following day but I just can't help myself!

So here it is.... a tad difficult to photograph as it was rather breezy so had to make it snappy - literally!

I don't know how my blocks still don't meet perfectly in every corner despite being very careful with my rotary cutter and my 1/4 inch patching foot but Anne says that's part of the charm.  I'll go with that and push Jules the perfectionist back in her box.

I am a bit stuck now as I can't decide how to back it as I think this will be an eiderdown rather than a quilt so I want it to be reversible.  Hey ho, guess I'll just have to go fabric shopping....... 

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

And the results are...

non existent in the case of the garden project and only half finished in the case of the quilt but I was busy being Mum's taxi service and then actually going out on Saturday evening!  I was so dismayed by the garden - all overblown and droopy (sounds all too familiar)  - that I spent most of Sunday outside snipping, pruning and weeding.  It was a very warm but blustery day so it helped blow the cobwebs away after a night of slight excess!

I took these little lovelies round to a dear friend to fill her new Summer house with their fabulous scent

and I picked these to cheer up my own windowsill

I did manage to complete on cushion last week - felt shamed into it as the plumber thinks I've got  a cushion fetish as he couldn't believe how many cushion pads were lying about the place!

Now then, be prepared because I have saved the best until last....  my Mum made this for me from a very old pattern.  It was Mum who taught my sister and I to crochet and knit (and my brother too!) many moons ago and she gave us a refresher tutorial last year and there's no stopping us now.  She likes to hide her light under a bushel and thinks she's not creative but blimey, this takes some patience!  Isn't it wonderful?  

I need to put some material behind it but that's no problem since she's done it all properly with a zip - no short cuts for Mum!  It looks very at home, don't you think?  She's on a roll with them and Anne will be next in line.

I might have to abandon the crochet for a while (pah!  not likely) as my youngest two sons were laughing at me - saying I should get out more and I quote:  "just look at this place, Mum.  It's turning into one big knitted/crocheted thing!"  Looking around they may have a point - I'll give you a tour later on in the week.  

But how could I be mad at these handsome chaps?

He looks comfy enough amongst the crochet, if you ask me!

Prom night for the 'baby' of the family!

Maybe I'll have a quilt to show you too if I can summon up some energy from somewhere - anyone got any spare?

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Sticky Lemon Cake

Being the biddable little blogger that I am here is the Sticky Lemon Cake recipe as requested!  You can make it in any kind of tin but I tend to use a square tin for a more even distribution of cake to sticky topping.

I just want to point out that I don't have a real hubby anymore - instead I have a work hubby - we've travelled most of the world together and have put the world to rights over many pints of wine over the past few years but it's the perfect 'marriage' - I nag him and keep him on the straight and narrow, make sure he gets on the right plane to the right country and take cakes to work and he creates the most amazing spreadsheets which make my work life so much easier and buys me drinks!  And no dirty socks or bad habits to put up with or anything!

So, to the Lemon Cake (in Imperial measurements I'm afraid) - I've been using this recipe for over 25 years!

4 oz of soft margarine or butter (1/2 cup)
6 oz of sugar (3/4 cup)
6 oz self raising flour (3/4 cup)
1 lemon, finely grated and juiced
2 large eggs
4 tbspns milk (1/4 cup)

extra cup of sugar for topping

Line a tin with baking parchment (I use a 9inch square tin but you can use a round one or a loaf tin - it doesn't really matter, you may just have to adjust the cooking time - it's not that fussy a cake and any old cooker will do, Deb!)

Cream the sugar and butter together, mix in the lemon rind and eggs.  Mix in the milk and then fold in the flour.  Spoon the mixture into the lined tin and smooth.  Bake at 180 C, 350 F (no idea about gas I'm afraid!) for approx 25 minutes.  It should be golden and starting to come away from the sides of the tin and when pressed lightly with your finger it should spring back. 

While the cake is cooking make the topping by mixing the extra 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar (depending on how much juice you've got out of the lemon) with the lemon juice in a small saucepan.  Bring to the boil, stirring all the time until the syrup starts to thicken - but not colour.  Put to the side and when you take the cake out of the oven spoon the syrup evenly over the top of the cake.  It will sink into the top of the sponge and once cool it will be moist and slightly sugary crunchy on the top.  Of course, you can make more syrup if you like your cake really sticky and adjust the sugar to juice ratio to suit your sweet or sour tooth.

Cut into squares/slices/bar/chunks - whatever takes your fancy - it won't be around for long I promise you!


The Domestic Goddess still lives ...

.... she's just been a little lazy and disinterested of late. 

I was a little late for work this morning as I had to ice the cake I promised my work hubby and boss for their resepective birthdays - which have been and gone for some time but this is the first time we have all been in the office together and not travelling the globe.

Elevenses anyone?

Will's hoping there will be some left for him when I go home tonight but I doubt there will be so I left him some of the sticky lemon cake to munch on instead

I think I may be coming out of the doldrums - it's amazing how the whisper of a few kind words from friends far flung can stir the wind beneath my sails. 

Thank you all xxx

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Domestic bliss? my @*$!

No, I must confess that although I am no domestic goddess these days I do get a sense of pleasure when the house is restored to order - and smells of polish (and no, I didn't take the short cut and just give it a quick squirt around the place, I did actually apply it to the furniture!)

Having put the house to rights and the weather not being that fabulous today I took Deb's advice and indulged in a little solitude with my sewing machine and a jelly roll of the most lovely fabric that has been calling to me from the stash basket for some time now.  No hand patching this time - I'd like to see some results before next year!  I've made quite a few nine patch blocks - I'll be champing at the bit all week to get some plain fabric to make the block borders but maybe the Universe is trying very, very hard to counsel me in the art of patience!

Not my strong point.  

These were the left overs and I had a lovely time trying to assemble them into pleasing combinations with Michael McIntyre in the background (not in person of course!).... simple pleasures, hey?

I've got a few things to look forward to this week (other than the arrival of a new weekend) - Michael, my number 2 son is coming home - hoorah - and my newest garden purchase should arrive - I've been making the preparations for a couple of weekends - thought I would have been of super model proportions by now after all the effort but sadly not!

I didn't tale a photo of phase 1 but it involved moving the contents of an enormous compost bin and half a ton of stone chippings
 (now sitting on the drive, much to the annoyance of my neighbours, I am sure)

Results by next weekend, fingers crossed!

Have a great week all xxx

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Blousy beautiful plentifulness...

I've been feeling a little bit down in the dumps lately - not sure if it's just the pressure of work or the sometimes overwhelming feelings of loneliness but I don't like it one little bit.  I've been a singleton for quite a few years now and mostly I think I am quite happy - no one to answer to, no one to interrupt my manic doings, whether they be garden, house or craft-esque doings but every now and then I realise that I am really quite lonely and have been slipping into invisible can't be bothered-ness.

I've been letting myself go somewhat and even the garden was getting a bit out of control.  When my eldest came home a few weeks ago he said 'the garden's looking good, Mum but there's rather a lot going on'.  A sharp intake of breath and eyebrows raised in shock and horror at this criticism was followed by a more critical and slightly removed eye.

As I sat in the garden with my wool, scissors and hook stashed in this lovely little pansy bag I bought at the car boot sale last weekend for a mere £1, finishing off my patchwork blanket I took stock.....

This baby has been occupying my restless hands most evenings lately - it's 100% acrylic, which I never usually work with but this Cygnet Silcaress is really lovely to work with and holds it's shape quite nicely.  I just did a random pattern of treble crochets using Tif's method of joining as you go which was really great - hardly any ends to sew in at the end.

I finished top and bottom with a row of double crochet - one in each colour used.  I'm quite pleased with the result and it's so cheerful it just has to raise my spirits!

Ben was right - I had crammed so much into the borders that much of it was getting lost in the over abundance of cottage-gardenness!

So, in an effort to redress the balance and try and drag myself out of the doldrums I took action.  I had a bath, I scrubbed, I buffed, I polished, I cleansed and moisturised, died my hair (it's turned out way, way darker than intended or as displayed on the box but Will said he likes it and coming from him, that's pretty huge praise!) and I did my nails.  Did I feel better?  After three attempts to get my nail polish on properly I decided that maybe the natural look would be enough for now.  No, no miracle cure post bath so....

Next, the garden.... much snipping, uprooting and re-arranging later plus a few buckets of sweat and dirt and I am happier with it now.  I had to marvel at the sheer over-the-top-ness of the poppies that have taken up residence in my veg patch - just look at these:

and a busy little bee at work

and these brighten up my morning tea and toast without fail - eye popping or what?

And some of the more dainty sisters of the garden ... white mallow and my favourite - astrantia...  so delicate and lovely....

Doldrums or not, I cannot help but marvel at the wonderfulness of nature.

Back to the plentifulness of yesterday....  I bought these books in Whitby but having taken a few moments to browse through them from the comfort of my Adirondak chair I find I'm not overly impressed but they have given me a few ideas...

in particular the cardy make-over idea

and the Irish Floral quilt

I'm drawn to the calmness of this quilt called Ethel - reminds me of Delft pottery but I don't know if I have the patience to have a go at this...

My Lucy's collection has finally arrived so I have more supplies to go at but I keep promising myself I'll do some sewing - the problem is I just can't take the sewing machine into the garden - crochet is just so much more portable.

Well, let's see what tomorrow brings - hopefully sunshine outside and in.