Friday, 31 January 2014

Delicious Day

image of home made carrot and walnut cake
I'm taking full advantage of no school run for me today - Yey, thanks Pops! So at 9am this morning I had a happy time listening to Classic Fm in the kitchen whilst baking this, my first ever, Carrot and Walnut cake with cream cheese frosting. Another Mary Berry recipe...it was so easy to make, (don't know what it tastes like yet as I'm holding off till later this afternoon). I reduced the sugar by 100g so hopefully it'll still taste good. Made another easy bread...
image of home made bread
I'll be using some of this as garlic bread to accompany a chicken linguine bake for tonight's dinner. So looking forward to that with a glass of red! 
A much awaited parcel arrived whilst I was busy baking...the timing was perfect. My girls will be so, so pleased!
image of new school shoes
Lovely smart shiny school shoes and P.E. pumps. The shoes have a very thick sole - I was getting so fed up with the soles of their other shoes wearing thin, so fingers crossed it won't happen with these. Just hope they fit.

We are experiencing the most wet, windy and gloomy of weeks with no let up it seems for the next few days.
image of rain on window
The level of light here is so low I've had to keep the lights on for most of the day. I've had to postpone doing any photographic work on my tutorial for now as I just can't find a good naturally lit spot in the house.  Fairy lights and candles at midday...who'd have thought it! 
image of home with fairy lights and candles
I'm still in my cosy fleecy leisure pj's (and no I don't sleep in them!). Feeling a little decadent and a tad naughty at the moment, but I am trying to muster up the energy for a dog walk in THAT weather later on before my tribe arrives home. There's only so much rain a 'waterproof' jacket and troos can take before it slowly eeks into your inner layers, dagnammit (or should that be dognammit?)
I think I may go and clean the bathroom and hoover upstairs...it seems a lot more appealing right now.
Wishing (and praying for) all of you in the South a very safe weekend as I know you've had so many flood warnings. I hope it won't be as bad as they predict. I really do. 
Take care of you.
XXXX

Monday, 27 January 2014

Squelch Squerch

image of running shoes covered in mud
Mud Glorious Mud!! 
This is a picture of me at 10 o'clock this morning after my jog around the beautiful yet very wet and muddy English countryside
We've just had the most windy, rain-filled weekend so after a very cosy indoors go-slow let's stay in our pj's couple of days it was time to head on out, brave the cold, and get fit. 
Believe me -  there wasn't a single cell in my body that wanted to venture out, but I'm so glad that I did...the views are always amazing, and I can see from horizon to horizon - all 360 degrees of sky. Which I will never stop appreciating after living so long in the city.  Back then I used to run round and round the same beautiful, historic and well cared for park, but for me nothing beats being in the  wide open expanse of the great outdoors. 
We did see another couple of ladies jogging, and a man with his dog but apart from them it was just me and my dog, Luna. She really does suit her name, I suppose it should be spelt Loon-a, because she is a bit of a loon, she goes absolutely bananas across the open fields. No other dogs can catch her she's that fast. Well she is a bit of a wild mix of Collie and Saluki, and boy that girl can run! Being out here really suits her. She's choc full of character - I so love my Loopy-Lou...
image of muddy dog
Until she gets really filthy dirty, that is, Yuk! 
She's not happy here and won't look at me even though I'm calling her, because she knows what's coming next - yep a good hosing down. Moody Miss.
It was so good to get back home though. I was on a high. Running gives me such a great sense of achievement, and makes me feel so happy and chilled out  afterwards, and obviously I'm getting fitter with the added bonus of it not costing me a penny.
After showering, hoovering, general tidying and laundry duties it was midday and time for a spot of this...
image of coffee cake and crochet
...a well earned break. Ah this is more like it - a small scrumptious reward!
(The cake is home-made and is Mary Berry's Chocolate Cake, with this chocolate buttercream icing. I reduced the amount of sugar by 160g and it still tasted sweet and yummy)
See Sher I told you my running mantra is coffee, cake and crochet! It always spurs me on to keep going.
This is a sneeky peek of my latest design which I've been working on lately. I'll be writing up the pattern this week, and will hopefully be sharing it with you by the end of this week. So until then take care of you. Ttfn XX

Friday, 17 January 2014

Lately

image of sunny blue winter sky
A bright blue sky in mid-Winter is always very much appreciated here in the U.K. Yes...very much so!. This was taken yesterday, but it's back to the usual grey today unfortunately
My Winter garland put on it's own light show all by itself...
image of winter garland and crystal drop fairy lights producing rainbowsin the sunshine
I had a busy morning in the kitchen yesterday making bread and soup for dinner, and was so pleased with how it all turned out...
image of carrots and squash in pan for soup

image of home baked bread with poppy seeds
I made a carrot, butternut squash and coriander soup. An absolute doddle to make - I can't remember which site I got the recipe from, but they are all very similar when it comes to the list of ingredients anyway.

The bread is a basic no knead loaf - you can find out all the details and link to the recipe on this post. It's so easy to do, and the results are always brilliant. It contains no sugar or butter, and yet is packed full of flavour on it's own, but this time I added poppy seeds for extra flavour.

Did my offerings get devoured at my home do you think? - erm that would be a big fat NO! My girls loved the bread and would have devoured the lot if i hadn't taken it away. As for the soup they took one look at it grimaced at their bowls, and grouched and grumbled for the next thirty minutes. They dug their heels in and stubbornly refused to even have a little taste. Aaargh SO annoying!! So there ensued a battle of wills with threats of no pudding, and nothing else till breakfast time. Then, of course, came the usual parental tactical manoeuvre of bribery which kick started the youngest into actually picking up her spoon to dip just the edge into her soup to then give it the quickest lick you've ever seen . Her eyes lit up when she realised it was quite sweet and tasty - not at all 'vegetabley'. She ate the whole lot, but it took forever! She earned herself a piece of home-made lemon drizzle cake for pud, good girl. Not so for the eldest who never even picked her spoon up, it seems carrots are Enemy No 1 this week - she used to love carrots not so long ago. A very tedious tea-time was had by all...blah! Does this happen to you much? I'd really love to know.

I read other blogs where their family 'devour', 'relish', 'love', and 'enjoy' the meal that has been lovingly prepared for them from fresh. Not so with mine - fussy- fuss and nonsense I tell you!

Moving swiftly on as I want to share with you some of my recent projects I created over the Xmas season. I didn't make as many things as I would have liked...I'm blaming it on Breaking Bad which I mentioned in my previous post. I gave up trying to crochet and watch the programme at the same time - it was just too compelling and held my attention the whole time. So my first make was another hat (of which I have many, but it doesn't hurt to have an extra one, right?)
image of chunky crochet bobble hat
I made this in one evening. It was so easy to do, as there's a fab video tutorial that came with it. You can find the pattern here if you're interested. I've used this acrylic yarn in this project. I made a large pom-pom to sit on the top, which I also added a variegated wool to add more colour. 
(Note to self: add pom-pom makers to the shopping list! This was made using the old cardboard ring method - easy, but time consuming) 
I was going to add some flowers , but I decided against it in the end.
image of pom pom on crocheted hat
Initially I did think it was a bit too chunky, and felt a bit self-conscious when out and about in it for the first time, but now I really love it...it's colourful, warm and really comfy to wear - I can just plop it on my head and it doesn't move around.

I had started out on my creative journey with the good intention of making practical items, and kitting the whole family out in crocheted and knitted garments, but I have been so easily steered away from this practical path in favour of all things more quirky and whimsical -  things that can be whipped up in no time which are easy on the pocket as well as my schedule have so appealed to me of late.

Now my next crochet item I made was something that I thought I would NEVER do. I've seen so many of them on t'internet, but have always wondered why you would bother using up any of your lovely cotton stash on these... until now that is.
imag eof crochet dishcloth
A dishcloth - not the most exciting thing there is out there, but certainly very practical and necessary.
image of crochet dishcloth
So it all started when I'd annoyingly forgotten to buy new sponge dishcloths when out grocery shopping. The one I had was looking and smelling awful. It came to me in a flash that I'd bought some really good quality dishcloth cotton yarn at a knock down price a long time ago. So again it was time to get on-line to check out the many patterns there were floating around. This one is from Petals to Picots and is called the Crunchy Stitch Crochet Dishcloth Pattern. Again, this was made in an evening and was really simple to make - (although you do have to crochet into slip stitches which I really loathe to do!) It's a tad fiddly, and after a while it made my fingers ache, but still it was worth it in the end. Why hadn't I thought of making these a long time ago!?

I still wouldn't use my precious coloured cotton stash to make these, but I will be making a lot more of these in varying patterns. Another good thing about them is that they are machine washable, and will last a lot longer, and are more cost effective than the supermarket ones. 

I would really like to complete some larger scale crochet projects this year. I have my own design in my head for a blanket which I'm really excited about. Plus some other smaller projects too. I can't wait to get started. Here's a sneeky peek of what I've been creating lately...
image of crochet cotton yarn with peek at current projectNo it's not a lace collar or some sort of 'doily' edging. There are lots of this 'kind' of project around but just not using this type of pattern which I have in mind. It's driving me a little nuts because I can see it in my minds eye but it's so hard translating it into a pattern that works and looks the way that I want it to. I'm enjoying the challenge!

So until next time, take care of you. Enjoy your weekend. XX






Friday, 10 January 2014

A Bright New Year

image of crocheted star
It  does feel good to be back to the hustle and bustle of my normal everyday routine. I've been hibernating lately, so I'm crawling out of my cosy corner to say hello to you all and how I thoroughly enjoyed taking a peek at your wonderfully festive decorated homes, and hand made goodies. We had a really fun Xmas spent with the family followed by lots of lazy go-slow kind of days...total bliss!

I did manage to crochet a few things during this time, but not as much as I would have liked because we've just recently finished watching the full five seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix (glad we did it this way as there are no commercial breaks and weeks of waiting for the next episode). I'd never even heard of it before Xmas, but it's THE best TV series I've seen in a long time (knocks the frilly pants off productions like Downton Abbey - sorry to those fans, but I think this is a far superior production). The production, direction, script writing and the acting is AMAZING!! It's no wonder it has a five star rating and has many awards and nominations. As you can tell I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't recommend it enough.

I took my decorations down on the very last day of Christmas...wasn't so eager to see them go this year. However there is a touch of festive sparkle leftover...
image of fairy lights and colourful crocheted stars for a Winter Garland
As I just don't have the time to make Winter bunting from scratch, this was such an ideal way of creating a quick and easy sparkly colourful Winter garland. The mixture of colour teamed with the fairy lights add a brightness and warmth to my kitchen on these dull, dreary mid-winter days and long chilly nights, (also it was a very lazy time-saving way of not having to crochet a chain garland for the stars to hang from!). The fluffy sequinned yarn was added to give a snowy border and extra sparkle to the motif.  
image of fairy lights with colourful crocheted stars for a winter  garland
Each star was simply tied on to every alternate crystal drop fairy light (these are the lights from the girls' pink Xmas tree) so that each motif would be lit from behind. I love these motifs and they're from this very nice book on the far left...
Image of three crafting books from the library
This wonderful threesome are from my local library, and I'll be hanging on to them for some time yet! They are jam packed full of fun and lovely things to create. Don't you just love libraries!! 

image of natural Winter wreath
I haven't had the time to create a Winter wreath from scratch, besides I really want to move onto new projects, so I made do with this lovely wreath which I received last year from our close friends. Its from The White Company, and is beautifully made with dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and large pieces of pot pourri of some sort - it smells wonderful. I did think of adding something crocheted to it, but in the end I settled on these...
image of natural wreath with fairy lights
YEY - more fairy lights! This looks so nice, just wished I'd done this a year ago. All the lights are switched on once I get in from the school run (around 3.45). They make the house look so cosy and inviting. I think these lights will be staying around for the best part of the year, I love them too much to think of packing them away at all.

I'm off to catch up with you good crafting people to see what you've been up to lately.  I'll be back again soon to share a few more holiday season makes with you. Until then, take care of you XX