Saturday, 22 January 2011

Heart Love

After what felt like a very long week with too much snow, not enough sleep and no time for crafting I was glad to get home yesterday.  I did manage to squeeze in a little mutual adulation time with my favourite little girl, Siiri.  We seem to have rather a special bond as I've known her since she was a bump but now she has a little brother competition for my attention is fierce when I visit.  Siiri always wins though so there's lots of story time and silly games.  I was blessed with many big hugs and kisses this time and a little memento to put on my fridge (so 'you can remember me when you go home' she said, ahh)

There are only two choices when travelling to Tampere - very early departure but reasonable arrival time or mid afternoon departure and late arrival.  On Fridays I like to get home early so it was a 4am start.  Despite much napping on the journey home I was fit for nothing so turned my attention to a little bit of simple crochet.  The heart pelmet had taken me down the heart path - and I do have a fondness for all things heart shaped

size 1.5mm hook and thin cotton - cross-eyed job! 
This taken from the Royal Sisters blogspot tutorial

This made up from the white one above - 3mm hook and some eco cotton - much easier on the eyes!
Having spent the week sitting on my bottom inside airports, planes, meeting rooms and hotels in a dark, cold and very snowy place I was in need of some fresh air.  Since the sun was shining although the lawn was covered in a very thick frost I thought a little tidy up in the garden was in order.  Last time I was out there to feed the birds it looked like this:

Will was most surprised to find me outside, noting that everything looked dead.  Peering into the pond revealed two frozen frogs, mid swim - arms and legs outstretched, poor things.  One fish was encased sideways in the ice but we did spy at least 3 fish swimming in the very bottom.  With secateurs in hand I snipped back as much of the dead, decaying foliage as was sensible to reveal lots of signs of life.  The ice plants are forming nice little heads close to the frozen earth and the bulbs are already starting to poke their little leaves above ground.  There's hope yet...  not long before it will be back looking a bit more like this:

Roll on the Spring!

Happy weekend.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Pounds lost.....

Whoop, whoop = 3!  Yes, 3 whole pounds!  Unbelievable as I have not forsaken wine and have been slowly tyidying up the left over chocolates.  I have been quite restrained though (for me) and have done 5 sessions of the Pilates DVD (10 minute solution/Lara Hudson if anyone is interested in having a laugh at what a young body is capable of doing) and one session of Davina's Body Buff DVD - the legs and core section, which left me puffing, panting and decidedly red of face.  Even the warm up session was tough!  I am sooooo out of shape.

So, with that good news I am spurred on to be even better this coming week.  I'm in Finland all week where my boss informs me it is currently -20 C and snowing again - bliss.  It will be hard to resist the gluggi in those temps but resist I shall (try).

I must confess that I have dragged myself through the week, lacking enthusiasm for much except sitting on the sofa with hook and yarn but even that has not been terribly satisfying.  I got off to a good start with lots of Ravelry Block of the Month squares (got a nice little stack now)

Feeling rather confident my thoughts turned to Rosella and her pattern for a cotton heart pelmet curtain.  Anne and I had gone to her day course over at Heidi's a while ago, having come back to crochet after many years of absence.  Well, the day was really fun but reduced Heidi to tears and the need to leave to go and get her nails done!  You see, Rosella has been a crochet genius since the age of 8 (quite a few years have passed since then) and she presented us with a size 1 hook and a graphical pattern.  No written instructions, no terminology that any of us recognised (gates and legs being the terms used for chain spaces and trebles) - it was a challenge for sure.  Most of us abandoned our pathetic little attempts and have never been back.

This is the result of 4 evenings and one afternoon's dedicated work on it - mostly spent unravelling and starting again but I think I may finally have got the hang of it now..

I might have to take something a little less taxing on the plane with me.  Perhaps a few granny squares...

And in true Blue Peter style, here's something  I prepared earlier, part of my Mum's birthday present.  I started this last year and then wasn't sure if she'd like it but picked it up again so I would have something made to give to her on her birthday (last Wednesday)

Blue trim on one side

Pink trim on the other

She liked it.  Phew!

Wishing you all a safe and happy week while I freeze my ass off in Finland!  
(ooh, now there's an opportunity to drop many, many pounds if I lose my ass!!)


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Better late than never...

I've been very tardy with my Chrimble pressie post but I was waiting for some decent light.  The sun shone at the weekend so I flew round the house gathering up my gifts for your perusal.  I must admit that sun or no sun, the photos are still a bit naff but the pressies are lovely.

Ooh, the box I hummed and haaed about buying from Heidi at her open house.  My sister dissuaded me - the crafty minx!

and inside the lovely box..... an even lovelier surprise.  Tea cups and plates that I am sure Anne struggled to part with given her serious addiction to china.

another gift box full of little treasures

Sumptuous slipper socks, hand made buttons, lovely silver earrings and two skeins of Debbie Bliss Andes silk... bliss indeed.  The lovely little box of silks and scissors was from my Mum.

Drool ... Jane Brocket's lovely Quilt-Making book from sis

The pictures are just fabulous and I want to make them all

Now this was just plain mean of Anne ... a book of calorie laden cup cake recipes!  

I smell sabotage!

Not only gorgeous recipes and pictures but inspirational ideas too!

Much sisterly love going on here - not only did Anne give me the tea set but she also parted with some of her vintage crochet in the form of embellishment on a beautiful hand made cushion.

Gorgeous gloves from my Mum

and the piece de resistance from my sis (given to me on Boxing Day as she was stressing about getting it finished in time for Christmas Day)

Love, love, love it!
I was very spoilt with lots more gifts including a gorgeous night shirt from the White Company from the boys - it's almost too pretty to wear in bed.  My Mum gave me some money too which I have spent on a sumptuous silk and velvet scarf - can't photograph it as it's so glossy it just looks like a shiny blob in the photos :(  and a CK bag on sale.  I'm saving these for my date with Mr Darcy once he's recovered from the work out Amanda has given him.

I'm happy to report that every single one of my Christmas Presents fit me perfectly!!

Hope you are having a good week.  It's over the hump day today - hoorah!


Monday, 10 January 2011

Last gasp....

I was clearly on Santa's naughty list this year as he didn't bring me any will power or a gorgeous hunk of a man to use for recreational exercise.  My sister and I were both despairing about the invasion of the body snatchers who seem to have no intention of returning our once sylph-like bodies to us any time soon and talking about (I'm whispering this word) diets – the pros and cons of slimming clubs, exercise classes etc. (I was also ignoring the glass of wine in my hand and the voices in my head reminding me that there was still a substantial amount of cheese left in the fridge).   Anne blames her weight problems on the menopause demons but since I am not there yet I can't blame anyone but myself!  

Last year the boys' birthday card to me said "inside me is a skinny woman trying to get out" and inside "but I can usually keep the bitch quiet with cookies"!  Now, I was most offended at such insults I have to tell you.  For one, there is definitely not a skinny woman anywhere in my genetic makeup.  The only times I've ever been skinny were when I was going through jaw surgery and divorce.  Secondly, I do not eat many cookies.  I am much more of a cake girl!  

We concluded that public humiliation might be the only motivation that would work. However, not wanting to spend precious £s per week for that privilege and add another tyranny to the list of 'things to do' each week we resolved to run our own slimming club.  We had our 'last gasp' last night at Heidi's for our belated Secret Santa evening – the rules being that our gifts had to be: something for £1, something from a charity shop and something we made.   We were all very lucky with our gifts and it was a really nice evening.

Heidi and Anne and the lovely Laura
Heidi, Anne, Laura, Linda, Rosella and Livvy (what on earth had Livvy said to cause her mother's reaction???)
Lovely Jilly and a perhaps repentant Livvy?

Anne had also kindly volunteered me to take one of my American Cheesecakes. As we all know any dessert with any combination of the words American, cheese or cake in it – let alone all three together is not going to be low calorie. So, last gasp it was! 
A few calories on a plate complete with twinkly silver stars and sparkly dust
However, I was feeling quite good as I had put on my new Pilates DVD yesterday morning (it was a little on the snug side).  There are 5 ten minute workouts which you can do individually or combine.  I started with the Abs - the teacher is AMAZING.  I didn't realise our bodies were capable of doing such things.  Well, I say 'our' but really I mean her.   She may have amazing body control but she is clearly not a very attentive teacher as she said I was doing really well whereas I mostly just wobbled and flailed around on the floor wondering if I would ever be able to raise my shoulders off the floor and walk my hands up my raised (smooth) legs to grip my ankles (and breathe at the same time)!  I have to say though that this morning I could feel aches in pains in a few extra places.  Maybe there really are muscles in my lower abdomen!!

Let them eat cake, I say.  Me?  I shall be wearing black until such time as I can look at my naked form without recoiling in horror.

Tomorrow I shall show you some of the things that Santa did bring me so I can't have been too bad in 2010 (or maybe he just didn't notice!)

Red sky at night, Shepherd's Delight, Red Sky in the morning, Shepherd's warning  - this morning's sky as I made my cuppa


Saturday, 8 January 2011

It's all Laalaa's fault

Since Mr Darcy did indeed seem to be tied up with Amanda and not likely to put in an appearance to examine my silky smooth shins I was at a bit of a loose end.  What to do.... I know, catch up in blogland.

Lynda sparked my interest in the Ravelry crochet along and now I'm hooked too!

I embarked on this month's 6" Flower Button Granny square....  hmm, mine appears to be somewhat smaller ....

Then I embarked upon the 12" Maggie square.... hmm, mine appears to be somewhat smaller....

Then I spent all evening making the 12" filler square, Enough Love to Go Around .... there was very nearly no love whatsoever after much pulling back and zooming in on the picture to try and work out what I was supposed to be doing (I'm really rubbish at following patterns) I ended up with ..... hmm, a wonky bit of lacy wool

Ahh, that's better - maybe it was worth it after all.  Blocking really does make a difference! 

Must block my squares more often instead of being in a rush to show and tell!

Must dash - got a Secret Santa present to make!


Friday, 7 January 2011

Environmental Health

Well, after the shame of the hairy-mary-scary legs I took to the bath (in candle light I hasten to add) and de-fuzzed, scrubbed, buffed and moisturised.  Phew!  Next job the feet....

While I was grilling my breakfast bacon this morning and wafting the door to get rid of the acrid blue smoke I was hit by another bout of shame.  Cleaning the oven was on my pre-Christmas list but it didn't happen so now we were at a critical point.  So, out came the oven cleaner, the rubber gloves and the brillo pads.  William asked me what was going on - were we having more visitors, was I feeling OK, what made me decide to do it?  Cheek.

I am pleased to report that should Mr Darcy decide to drop by unexpectedly for supper I am prepared!  Should he choose to glide his hand up my flannelette pyjama leg he'll find smooth, silky soft legs (still akin to a bag of porridge but definitely not hairy!)  Should he care to look he'll find my racks gleaming.  No, that's not a euphemism - my oven racks really are sparkly and shiny like new.

Is it sad that I am happy that my oven is clean?  I think we will be eating soup for a few weeks so I don't have to cook anything in it and make it dirty :)

Whenever you are ready, Mr Darcy .....

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Oh the shame!

I've been having a lot of problems with my knees - the right one in particular - and after much wincing, oohing and aahing at work today Viveka made me call Bupa.  I've had many operations on my knees over the years so needed a referral letter from my GP to be able to go and see the consultant in York.  As 'luck' would have it my doctor had a free appointment this evening so off I hobbled.

I have a great doctor, she's really caring, never rushes you and always listens.  She asked me if it was OK that she had two medical students with her.  No problem, said I.  My opening gambit was 'it's about my knee..' and that was it, her eyes lit up 'ooh good' she said, 'these two young gentlemen are doing a muscular-skeletal rotation and we haven't had any knees yet today - over to you Tom'.  So the rather handsome, clean cut awfully proper young Tom politely asked me if he could ask me some background questions....  I won't bore you with the details.... then he asked if I would mind if he examined my knee on the couch.  Not at all, said I.  Up I hopped - then horror of horrors, he asked if I could roll up my leggings just as it dawned on me that I had not shaved my legs!  Indeed, I cannot even remember the last time I did!!  The lovely Tom proceeded to prod and press my hairy, lumpy, parchment dry knees whilst I turned a brighter shade of beetroot in shame.

It didn't take long for me to realise that at the tender age of what, twenty something, Tom did not care what state my mouldy old legs were in - I was invisible and he was very pleased to be pushing and pulling my limbs around with fascination and then rather shyly and blushing a much milder shade of pink he proceeded to report his findings to my doctor.  Phew - not sure if I should be relieved or crestfallen but I tell you something, tonight I'm getting in the bath with a generous dollop of the lovely Sanctuary bath cream that my sister gave me at Christmas and I shall get the chain saw out to shed my hairy old pins of all vestiges of hair and then lather on an even more generous dollop of moisturiser.

Last time I found myself in a situation where I confided in my friend that I was in no fit state to be intimate with any man in any way, shape or form she gasped in horror and declared 'Julia, one should always be prepared!'  OK, so a young medical student is not exactly the same thing but she was right - one should always be prepared so I am adding that to my list of little 'promises' to myself for 2011.

Hope you are having a good week - I'm sure time is going much more slowly in 2011!


Tuesday, 4 January 2011


Definitely best not to make any.  The minute I started thinking about losing weight I headed for the ice cream!  Haven't touched the stuff for months but the thought of deprivation sent my appetite into over-drive.  What's all that about?   But thank you, girls, for the words of encouragement.  I have done the Special K diet and it worked but I am trying to avoid any thought of diet (see where it can lead me) and am talking myself into a change little by little.

On a brighter note - and indeed, I think the best option for reducing my calorie intake - I did get Ben's blanket finished.  Too late to give to him but I'll find a way to get it to him before next Christmas!   This one was also a mixture of knitting and crochet in chunky and super chunky wool blends - a bit hard on the hands and hungry in terms of the amount of yarn needed but nice and manly I think, don't you?  He works for London Welsh Rugby Club so these colours are perfect.  Let's hope he thinks so too and is converted (even if it's secretly) to the heaven that is hand made.

Just the one photo as Michael also agreed with me that my camera is a 'piece of poo' so I am awaiting his recommendations for a new one.  If I stop eating and drinking, buying wool and fabric I should be able to afford one soon :)

I'm waiting for some decent light before taking pics of some of my lovely pressies so will leave you with these - presents I made for two dear friends, Angie, who admired the cushion I made for my sister last year and her man, Ian, who used to captain a tall ship for a living.

The throw was a wedding present for Michael's friend who got married on the 27th 

and very stylish she looked too

as did her bridesmaids, our very own young 'sisters', Rachel and Harriet

~ ahhhh ~


Monday, 3 January 2011

2011 ...

Whoosh, in the blink of an eye another year over.  Sorry I'm a little late in wishing you all a very Happy New Year but in deference to my advancing years I have not made any resolutions but have made a couple of small promises to myself.  One of them is to take life at a slower pace so instead of tackling the ironing pile I am spending the last day of my holiday in my pjs doing things as and when the mood takes me.

Christmas was quiet since my 'boys' were at their dad's but very nice all the same.  My Christmas was made by my youngest nephew on Christmas Eve returning from the pub and trying to conduct a coherent conversation in a language that only Harry can understand - he's a wonderfully entertaining drunk - a happy chap in sobriety but hysterical in his cups.  We spent a lazy day eating and drinking and watching crappy tv - much like most of the nation I suspect.  I had some lovely presents but more on that in another post.

The week between then and now has been a bit of a revolving door of returning sons and their loved ones - the house shrinking with each new arrival but that's what I had been waiting for - my sons all home together - a rarity these days and a house full of young and exuberant company.  I spent New Year's Eve with my middle son and his friends which was very entertaining but once they had headed into town to see the New Year in round the roundabout (a local tradition) I watched a little bit of Hootananny and then headed for bed, missing all the post night out entertainment but grateful of the sleep.

The house is quiet again, Michael the only visitor left to go back (tomorrow, sniff, sniff) but I must say I am glad to be getting 'back to normal' and even feel I am ready to go back to work even though I haven't done as much creative stuff as I'd hoped this holiday.

The tree in all it's glory on Christmas Day is now bare below and will not be with us many more days.  More's the pity - I do hate to lose the prettiness of the lights but can't risk any bad luck so it will have to come down on Twelfth night :(

The fridge has gone from bulging to bare, my figure quite the opposite.  Another small promise I made to myself for this coming year was to try not to buy any more clothes - barring underwear and socks.  I have three chests of drawers and a wardrobe full of clothes, more than half of which I don't wear as they either don't fit or don't go with anything that does fit (not to mention the boxes of clothes under the bed and in Will's wardrobe) so in order to keep that promise I will inevitably have to reduce my size.  Quite how I am going to achieve that I haven't yet decided but more movement will have to play its part, along with less wine and cake :( I don't know where I'll find the will to go on but it must be done!  Oh, I know, I'll spend less money on food and more on wool.  Yes, that should work.

Before I go and make another cup of tea I want to show you the blanket I made for Michael.  It was a mix of different knitting and crochet stitches and shapes and sizes and I am thrilled that he liked it as much as he did. I may have to make one for myself!

 He has been snuggled up under it for most of the Christmas so I am very happy.

I didn't manage to finish Ben's blanket before he and Liz headed back but it's nearly there so I'll have to send it to him - would love to see the look on his face as he doesn't really 'get' the whole crochet/knitting thing but I bet I can win him round.

Wishing you all a peaceful, happy and relaxed 2011.  It may threaten to be trying but I am depending on the escapism of wool and fabric to ease whatever pain comes my way - I hope it will do the same for you.