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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

My Little Mrs Russian Doll

I'm trying to finish some of the WIPs that I have around the house before I run out of bags and baskets to store them all in!

I started off with a to do list, but it wasn't very inspiring

The best way to approach it was to just do it! I found these little knitted pieces in a basket waiting to be sewn together. I enjoy the knitting and crochet, but not so hot on the sewing bits and bobs together part.

I think I've had it since last Summer or before even. The pattern came with a magazine 'Lets Get Crafting' and the yarn and needles were supplied with it.

To be fair, once I started sewing and stuffing, it didn't really take that long to finish off. Now doesn't she look better like this rather than a pile of knitted pieces.

I think she's quite sweet with her headscarf and pinny on.

Finishing one thing off has given me the motivation to finish some more (I have a poor bunny with no face).

It's my son's 27th birthday tomorrow and we're having a little celebration tonight to spoil him with a good meal and some presents, so I don't expect to get any more crafting done today.

Take care

Monday, 23 March 2015

Fancy Eggs and New Taps!

I bought some polystyrene eggs a couple of weeks ago so I could hang them on my little tree. So over the weekend, lovely daughter and I pulled our tables out and I glued and snipped papers while Imogen spent time painting.

It was more time consuming than I realised and I think I lost an easy couple of hours just cutting little squares and gluing them while a chicken was roasting in the oven. I used a couple of lumps of Plasticine with dressmaker pins to mount my eggs while I glued them. Obviously I still managed to be covered with a second skin of glue by the time I finished!

I just need to put little cotton or ribbon loops on top of them so they can hang from the branches, but I still have quite a few eggs to play with yet and I really fancy felting a few of the tiny ones. I persuaded my beautiful model to sit with the eggs while I photographed them, though she had a slight problem balancing them, but we managed between us.

I like that the eggs are white, the decoupage papers look so much nicer stuck on a white background, it shows the colours in the papers off much nicer than when darker colours are underneath them.

It feels like it's been an expensive week and not because we spent money on anything frivolous! I noticed a puddle in the kitchen in front of the sink (by noticed, I mean stood in) when I was preparing some potatoes. I suppose it was lucky that I was there and noticed so it wasn't left over night. Apparently a pipe had rusted through with wear and tear from some badly done plumbing when we had our new kitchen fiasco a few years ago. We called a plumber with no call out fee who proceeded to charge rather a lot of money to turn a screw to isolate the water supply so we could still have water in other parts of the house. He suggested we buy some new taps and he'd fit them the following afternoon. Luckily hubby is rather handy and fitted them himself saving us from laying out more money... he just watched a You Tube video... what can't you learn from You Tube!

I did a bit of charity shopping during the week too. We were actually looking for a dressing table, but no luck this week. I know in my head what I'd like, space in the middle to put my legs and drawers on either side. I need to be able to tuck my legs in so I can lean forward towards my mirror because when I take my glasses off I need to be very close to apply my make up to my myopic eyes! It's one of those things, we may stumble across one next week, or it may take us months, but I'd rather wait until I know it's 'the one'.

I didn't leave the charity shop empty handed (that would just be rude wouldn't it?), hubby bought a couple of LPs and I found a variety of books to work my way through.

It seems like a good selection, and at 25p or 50p a book, I really don't mind if I don't like them and they'll all end up back on the charity shop's shelves again when I've read them.

The one I'm most looking forward to reading is 'The Last Concubine', it sounds really interesting. I'll let you know how it goes.

Take care

Friday, 20 March 2015

Healthy Living

We're trying to eat better and lose some weight, especially me as it will help with my health problems. The idea is to still try and eat the foods we like, but with a healthier slant on them, so I've chosen to join a slimming club - Slimming World for inspiration and support.

They've recently started selling their own range of food. One of the things I like is that they don't advertise and it's very much about making sure you feel 'full' not about counting calories.

We've just tried their range of meatballs. I was a little wary as I've tried a couple of things from another slimming range and not enjoyed it at all. I have to say though, I think the Slimming World meatballs are probably among the nicest meatballs I've ever tasted!

I browned them in a pan first of all, then added lots of chopped onions.

Then I added a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes. We always make our own sauces, I think they taste far better and work out much cheaper and better for you all round.

I also chopped up some mushrooms and added garlic, basil and pepper (I add pepper to most things now, since I found out how good it is for you) to taste.

Bit of steam on the camera lens here

Let it simmer so the sauce can thicken and all the yummy flavours can diffuse through it. Then just to be a bit decadent (and to get my day's calcium allowance) I added some slices of a low fat mozzarella cheese to the pan.

I served it on top of pasta and with a nice big salad. There wasn't anything on my plate (except for the mozzarella) that I couldn't have had more of...

Not that any of us wanted to as it was a very satisfying meal. It certainly didn't feel as though it was from a slimming plan, it felt more like comfort food.

I promise not to be a bore with my healthier eating and slimming club, but will share some of the good recipes I come across.

Take care

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Crochet Ripple Blanket

I started my crochet ripple blanket over a year ago when hubby bought me some gorgeous, soft, beautiful Stylecraft yarn as a birthday present.

Lots of beautiful colours and so easy to work with. I'd seen a few ripple blankets on my travels across the blogosphere and really fancied having a go myself. I taught myself to crochet by making Granny Squares, went on to make a Granny Stripe blanket, so it seemed a natural progression to try the ripple pattern.

I found it lovely and easy, a therapeutic rythym of 4 trebles, 2 together twice, 4 trebles, 2 in the same stitch twice. I found my fingers could continue with the rythym while I watched TV or chatted. The hardest part was trying to keep my colour choice random! I found it went too much against the grain and I had to follow an order and choose each colour, making sure they all were used.

As the Summer and then the build up to Christmas came, my poor ripple blanket became consigned to it's bag under a pile of other quicker projects, many of which were gifts.

Then, like a new found pleasure, I opened the bag and fell back in love with it again. I've spent the last few evenings adding more rows and finishing off with a border just to give it a tidier look. I'm so pleased with how it's turned out.

It's lovely and big and beautifully bright and cheerful as well as soft and cosy. Large enough to lay over our bed, but also just right for snuggling under on a chilly evening on the sofa.

Now that it's finished, I want to make another one! I still have plenty of yarn left from it, so I think I'm going to make some ripply cushion covers for the sofa. We use a lot of throws and blankets, but I love how neatly the crocheted ones fold up.

Anything that doesn't take up too much space has to be a good thing.

So... if you crochet and haven't yet tried a ripple pattern yet, let me heartily recommend it. If you don't crochet, let me still recommend it, it's a simple, repetitive pattern so quite good to start with.

Take care

Monday, 16 March 2015

One Spoilt Mummy

I'm not complaining, nothing makes me happier than when the 4 of us are together, my wonderful husband, very grown up son and sweet little daughter, I feel like the luckiest person in the world, it gives me such a flood of warm contentment that I once didn't know was possible.

I was a single parent with my beautiful boy for a long time before I met Andrew. Adam was, and still is a joy and my anchor to the world. I'm so proud of the man he has grown into and look at him with wonder, I can't believe he is my very own son, that tiny baby who made my life mean something.

Then, not only did I find my soulmate, but we had our beautiful girl, our Imogen. I love to squeeze her and tell her how she's my dream come true. I would have loved to have had more children, but for various reasons it wasn't to be and I think it's more that fair to say my cup overruns...

Adam works long hours and isn't usually home before 7 in an evening and then has his girlfriend and his own commitments. He does come and see us every week though and spends as much time with his little sister as he can, and she in turn absolutely adores him.

Days like yesterday are so precious, we all went out together to Sigglesthorne (great name) to the garden centre and had a lovely lunch together to celebrate Mother's Day. I was spoilt with bunches of flowers

And how cute and thoughtful are these ear rings...

They also each bought me a very cute fairy house. I'm very excited about these and will do a post when they're set up ready for the fairies to move in.

I hope all you mums out there had a lovely day too.

Take care

Friday, 13 March 2015

Crochet Hooks and Daffodils

Doesn't time fly, Easter and school holidays are just around the corner already! Spring is definitely in the air and the vases of Daffodils around the house are a reminder that warmer weather is on it's way.

We seem to have quite busy recently and I haven't spent much time crafting as other things have taken over. Imogen has just had her trip down to Wembley to sing with the Voice in a Million choir. It meant picking her up at 3.30 in the morning, so we had a very tired day the next day (I fell asleep in front of the TV the following evening).

We've also been having some work done in the garden. The patio needed resin between the cracks to stop those pesky weeds from coming through and we had a planter built from some old railway sleepers. I'm hoping to get an opportunity to spend some time in the garden over the weekend

have a bit of a tidy up and sort out last years tubs ready for this year and hopefully take a few photos. The weather has been very changeable so that will probably be the deciding factor in whether or not the pictures get taken!

Found my self a little bargain the other day that other crochet peeps may like to know about. I popped into The Range and found this set of 4 crochet hooks

It doesn't say on the pack, but the sizes are 1, 1 1/2, 2 and 3 and it only costs £1.

While I was there I picked up some polystyrene eggs to decoupage so I can hang them on my little tree, I thought I may felt the tiny ones.

I'm hoping to decorate my tree for each season... I have such a long to do list!

Happy Mother's Day on Sunday to all the mums out there.

Take care

Friday, 6 March 2015

Childhood TV

When I were a nipper...
I know we all layer on those rose tinted specs when we look backwards. We never had the choices back in my childhood that kids have now and our parents didn't have the choices we had. Life is constantly changing, evolving. It's getting easier, but paradoxically harder.
There's nothing profound about this nostalgic list though. Just TV programmes that bring back happy memories from childhood. Most of these shows would appear so dated now, but were highlights of our TV viewing back then. These are the first 10 that jump into my mind.
One of my favourites has to be Bagpuss, that soft furry cat puss with his familiar stripes.
I loved the idea of the toys waking up, the mice running around fixing the treasures that shop owner Emily would bring to them Madeleine the doll and her stories and wise old professor Yaffle. Always opening with with sepia pictures of Emily and her shop.
Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss
Old fat furry cat-puss
Wake up and look at this thing that I bring
Wake up, be bright
Be golden and light
Bagpuss, Oh hear what I sing
The Smallfilms (the company that made Bagpuss) only made 13 episodes shown from 1974 on BBC1, yet it's become one of the nation's all time favourites.
Another favourite has to be Champion the Wonder Horse. School holidays, downstairs in front of the black and white TV in my quilted dressing gown while parents had a lie in.
Watching Ricky, Champion and Rebel (Ricky's dog) as Ricky or his uncle Sandy would routinely get into a 'fix' and Champion would have to come to their aid.
Like a streak of lightnin' flashin' 'cross the sky Like the swiftest arrow whizzin' from a bow Like a mighty cannonball he seems to fly You'll hear about him everywhere you go The time will come when everyone will know The name of Champion the Wonder Horse Champion the Wonder Horse 
Little House on the Prairie was a firm favourite of most girls at the time, and most of us wanted to be Laura, bit of a rebel who always comes good.
It's the earlier episodes I remember better, before Mary lost her sight when there were just the 3 girls. I used to wish Pa could be my Pa too!
One of my favourites from my earlier years has to be Play Away with very fond memories of Brian Cant and Toni Arthur.
I was even lucky enough to go and see a live performance and watch my hero Brian in manic, but joyful action. Play Away was related to Play School, but seemed to have more going on and didn't have such a pre school feel to it.
Certain programmes bring back specific memories. Val Doonican sitting in his rocking chair with a chunky jumper, singing to us on a Saturday evening.
Christmas specials too, these were favourites at Nan and Grandad's house, reminding Nan of the home country with Val's soft lilting accent.
Good for a giggle and still brings a smile to my face at the memory, Basil Brush.
It was the famous 'Boom! Boom!' at the end of the joke, I loved it. Not the same when he was brought back, our old Basil is a cult icon now.
Wonder Woman, she'd take off her glasses, shake out her scraped back pony tail to reveal her luscious locks, put out her arms and spin around. That's all it took for Diana Prince to transform into her alter ego Wonder woman.
I have heard some birdies tweet that there's a Wonder Woman film in the making. I wonder how she'll come across to 21st century youth...
The secret magical life of Mr Benn. All he had to do was visit the costume shop where the shop keeper would magically appear, try on a costume and go through the door to a whole new world.
Limitless costumes leading to a myriad of worlds for an ordinary person, what more could an ordinary '70's child wish for.
The Incredible Hulk with Bill Bixby nearer the end of the 1970s. The haunting music played at the end of the programme as David Banner had to leave yet again, find a new place to settle down where no one would know about his alter ego.
I loved the way David Banner would arrive and make things right, but then have to leave to escape anyone finding and exposing The Hulk within him.
Every episode started with:
Dr. David Banner: physician; scientist. Searching for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have. Then an accidental overdose of gamma radiation alters his body chemistry. And now when David Banner grows angry or outraged, a startling metamorphosis occurs. 
Space 1999, the future. Yes, I did wonder if it was possible for us to be living on the moon by 1999, especially as a child, it was so far in the future.
Set on Moonbase Alpha, a scientific research station set on the moon. The moon is thrown through time and space with the research station's inhabitants who then meet new species and experience things we could only imagine!
It was hard to narrow it down to just 10, so I may have to make another list another time.
What are your favourites, what sticks out in your memories or conversely pulls you back to your childhood? Are there programmes we should have kept, or ones that should never have been made in the first place!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

World Book Day

Officially it's tomorrow, but Imogen's school had their appreciation of it today as the school will be full of pupils sitting mock exams tomorrow.

Imogen loves reading, especially loves burying herself in a saga and fell in love with The Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent and The 100. Here she is dressed as Octavia from The 100.

I'm more than happy to feed this addiction, I'd hoped she'd love reading as much as I do. Both my children have been read to throughout their childhoods and both had story time as part of a bedtime ritual.

When they became older they were (and Imogen still is) encouraged to go to bed to read for a while before lights out, and sometimes we read a book as a family, though Imogen isn't as keen on that now (she used to love it) and prefers reading to herself, even if it's while she's walking around.

The library has always played an important role and both have been brought up to treat books with respect and have lived in houses with plenty of books.

Yet my son doesn't really have much interest. He will occasionally pick up a book, but probably no more than once or twice a year, even while his girlfriend is reading voraciously besides him. I don't give up, I still keep my eye out for books he may enjoy and recommend them to him to read when he has a holiday from work.

I can't imagine a life without the written word, books are magical and can transport you anywhere with a mere turn of a page, be your best friend and take you on your greatest adventure.

I celebrate World Book Day tomorrow.

Take care