Saturday 31 March 2012

A thing of beauty?

 Our garden, over the years has descended into a garden of functionality and utility, rather than a thing of beauty.  Admittedly it has never been stunning.  It was full of hawthorn and bramble bushes when we moved in, but we did quite a bit when Luke was little.  But with four children, and three chickens the last few years have seen it become neglected. 
 The playhouse needs attention and a lick of paint, the trampoline, whilst loved by the children, definitely dominates the garden.
 The chickens wrecked the lawn...
 ...but, we have turned a corner.  The lawn is ree-seeded, and beginning to show signs of growing.
 There are little snippets of beauty in both the front and the back garden, which I hang on to, and hope that these little pockets of beauty will soon be more widespread.

 I have many ideas for how to create a garden I want to sit in again.  There will be challenges, especially with it being north facing, and having four children and a zonking big trampoline.  But if I can create a little haven I will be happy.
Plans include, repairing the playhouse, and making a stone path outside the door to the play house.  The mound of grass in front of the playhouse to become a mini wildflower meadow.  A grassed lawn, and possibly some decking close to the house as grass grows so poorly there.  Pots full of flowers, perhaps some bunting in the trees.

Whilst the children are off for Easter, I know that dragging them down the allotment will be impossible, so I will let the crops do their own thing for two weeks, whilst  I turn my attentions to our own garden.  Fingers crossed eh?

Friday 30 March 2012

No more excuses

Stuart's birthday present.  A rowing machine.  We figured that the cost for us both to join the gym would be paid off relatively quickly if we just got this, and the results should be the same.  Plus it fits in alot better around all the other committments we have.  So, after piling on the weight these last 6 months or so, I now have no excuse.  I have a form of exercise readily available day and night, it is Spring which means there is alot of work to be done down the allotment, plus I have been found to have quite an underactive thyroid, so I am hoping the medication will start to take effect soon, and my body starts working the way it should.  I am really quite excited at the prospect of having more energy, and not being so heavy, so when I am complaining of aching I will have to remind myself of that!

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Good things come in three's.

It just so happens that there are three projects and three books this week for Ginny's yarn along.  So let me introduce you...

This rippling star is going to (hopefully) turn into this, a jacket.  I had seen the pattern ages ago on ravelry and then asked for the cotton for Christmas from my Mum.  It has been picked up and put down as things with shorter deadlines have come and gone, as is the way with doing something for yourself, it never seems to be high on the priority list.  But this week has seen me pick it back up, and I want to get it finished in time for a wedding in September.   Without a deadline, despite it being a gorgeous pattern, I don't think it will ever get finished, as is the way with how I work!

Another two projects I have been working on.  A present for Ethan for his birthday next week.  It WILL be a minecraft creeper, like this.  But for now it looks more like a mallet!  I have used three strands of different coloured green DK yarn to try and get a pixel effect, like in the game.  It seems to be working out ok.  And the little pokeball keyring is a little something I put together from this pattern, as a gift for Luke to give at a party he is going to at the weekend. 

 As for reading, I am still picking up Car Sick, and Knitting Yarns and Spinning Tales.  But my book of choice has to be Radical Homemakers.  I had seen Jacqui reading it a while ago, and checked out the library, but to no avail.  But then was able to pick up a second hand copy the other day online, and I am loving it. 

Monday 26 March 2012


 A while ago a friend requested me make some bunting for her Mum.  I had a go, made it, and then realised I'd made it way too big, as she wanted to hang it from her mantel piece.  So this is mark II.  And I am really rather pleased with it.  I think it actually looks really rather at home here, so may well be tempted to make some more for us.  Well, when I get a moment ot two!!
 It even gives me an excuse to use my new labels.  Makes me feel all official now!

Wednesday 21 March 2012


Life has been busy.  Pretty much each of these photos was going to be a blog post!  But there before I know it we have been moving on to the next thing.  So we have had time for achieving, with Alec and Ethan both getting their first gradings at Karate.

I've had time for friendships, with a lift to guild with Lucy, and creating a woven basket from garden trimmings.  I must say I have a new found respect for baskets, and will never look at garden prunings in quite the same way either!

 Time for celebrating, Stuart's birthday.
 Time for remembering, Mother's day was a much about remembering as celebrating.  Remembering Stuart's Mum, in this first mothers day without her.  This "Cherry Delight" pudding was last made at least 24 years ago by my Nan.  The taste is never forgotten, and I think it is now a firm favourite with a new generation.
 Time for creating.  Stuart's birthday cake, a hobbit hole no less!
 And a little more creating, an angry bomb bird, to go with the angry birds I made Stuart for his birthday last year.

This time of year always has me feeling torn between inside and outside.  And there seems to be even more keeping me busy this year, so snippets of our life may be posted intermittantly, but be rest assured, we are certainly making the most of our time!

Thursday 15 March 2012

And we're off!

 The season has started!  I had been a little reluctant to go down the allotment, as I was a little scared as to what I would find after a couple of months of neglect.  I kept making excuses, but yesterday I decided Sophie and I would go and have a look.  I thought with Sophie with me it would be a brief visit, but she really enjoyed herself, and we had a good couple of hours down there.  We managed to clear enough space to get the red onion sets in the ground.  Sophie enjoyed poking the onions into the holes she had made, but wasn't so keen on planting in straight lines, more like clumps!  So we won't win any competitions for neat, tidy rows, but at least she knows which way is up on an onion set!
 We harvested the parsnips, which really hadn't amounted to much.  Usually they do really well, but not this time.
 There's some purple sprouting on its way.  Just go to harvest it at the right time this year, not get greedy and wait for it to get that little bit bigger, and end up being inedible because it has gone woody.
 And peas beginning to shoot in the mini greenhouse.  I like to get some on the way at home, then plant them out when I sow more seeds at the allotment, that way I prolong the harvest a little more.
The plan is to use one of Sophie's pre-school sessions each week to be down the allotment come rain or shine.  I can't wait for the weather to be right AND me have the time to get down there.  So no more fair weather gardening for me, I'm going to have to harden myself up and get grafting!!

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Little Red Riding Hood

 All the knitting is done now of the Little Red Riding Hood Story bag, so I thought I would update you all in the yarn along, that Ginny holds every Wednesday over at Small Things.  There were a few false starts, and I ended up using a different pattern for the wolf in the end, as I wasn't happy with my first attempt.  I have tried to match the clothes and hair colour to the characters in the book I have picked to tell this story.  Except for the wolf, as he changes his clothes in the story, and I couldn't hope to try to do removeable clothes!!
 Mother, Little Red, and Grandma.  In the book Grandma has glasses, but I couldn't work out how to do those! Not sure whether to put a mouth on Little Red either, as she expresses many different emotions during the course of the story.
 Apologies for the sideways pictures.  Silly camera!!

There wasn't a woodcutter in this version, which meant a little less knitting for me!

Just got the bag to do now, and they'll be off to their new home in Ireland.    As for reading, still working through "Car Sick" with a little Thicht Naht Hahn's "A Path to Emancipation" thrown in for good measure!

Saturday 10 March 2012

What are the chances of that?

A few months ago, a blogging friend Becks over at KnitSewHooked did a little post about some blogs she was liking.  One of those was mine (I felt very honoured) and another one was Lucy 'in the sky'.  I went over and checked out her blog and immediately thought that there were alot of similarities in the things that we liked.  Spinning, crochet, gardening, keeping chickens, we had boys of a similar-ish age, etc  the list seemed endless, and it soon became one of my favourite blogs.

So imagine my excitement when I realised she was relatively local.  Then imagine my surprise when I realised she was most likely in the same town.  I eventually plucked up the courage to contact her, and we actually live about 3 miles away from each other!!  What are the chances of that, that somebody who lives over a hundred miles away ends up introducing (unbeknownst to her) two bloggers from thee same town?

Lucy and I met up this last Thursday.  1 1/2 hours just isn't long enough when you are both enthusiastic about the same things!  Mind you, conversation was rather disjointed when Sophie decided she was needing me to play witches with the big cardboard box house!

Lucy came bearing gifts...
...some seeds for Sophie and I and a short story book all about knitting and other woolly things!  We have already had imaginary seeds sown all around the cardboard house, and wonderful sunflower garden spring up in the lounge!  Oh, how I wish my imagination was as great as Sophie's!  And the book is perfect.  I can read a whole story in the short time between getting into bed and falling asleep!

Thank you Lucy for a wonderful afternoon, and look forward to our adventures together.

Thursday 8 March 2012


A few weeks ago a small newspaper article caught my eye.  A drumming group were coming to play at a local Social Club just a couple of districts away.  I looked up on the website given and was astounded with what I saw.  This was amazing, and we could see it in such a small venue.  We booked tickets, and last night was the night.

Absolutely amazing!  Luke said that it was one of the best evenings of his life.  Such talent, such power, such beauty, and some humour thrown in too.  We chatted with a couple of them in the interval, and they are lovely people as well.  We are going to try and catch them again when they play Solihull in May.  And Luke and Ethan want to go do the weekend course they run up in Scotland!!

They are touring lots of small venues this spring, and if you fancy a cheap night out (£25 for 5 of us) which will blow your mind, then please check these guys out. You won't regret it. 

*photo taken of the flyer as flash photography was not allowed.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Woolly Wednesday - The Ring(s)

 The first Wednesday of the month, so that must mean it is Woolly Wednesday over at Spinspiration.  So what has February seen me doing on the woolly front?  I have been taking advantage of the warmer weather and getting some of the Portland fleece washed.  A first for me, washing a fleece, and not as bad as I thought it was going to be!  I am hoping that some of the bits come out when it is carded, at least that is how it worked with the alpaca. 

For this wool I have already washed, I have great plans!  I need some green wool for the rings that we are producing at the guild.  So in the spirit of learning new skills, I thought I would have a go at dyeing the wool I have.  So I pop along to the Guild and ask what would be the best way to get a green colour, and I get pointed in the direction of Teresinha who is a fountain of knowledge, and just happens to sell natural dyes.  She was wearing a green jumper she had dyed using weld and woad, which was the perfect colour that I was after. Next day saw me on her website ordering the necessary ingredients. 
 I haven't taken the next step yet, a bit nervous to be honest.  I am assuming that I dye it one colour, and then remordant it, as the weld and woad follow a different dyeing process, and then over dye it with the other colour.  I am also assuming dye weld first to get the yellow, and then overdye with the woad.  If anyone has any ideas on this I would be very, very grateful!!  Oh, and another question regarding dyeing.  Is it better to card the fleece first, or even spin it first?  Or do I just dye it as is?

As far as the rings are going I have done something on each of them.  The background for the seascape, for my 2-d one...
 ... and a robins nest and eggs for my 3-d attempt. 

I am looking forward to getting a bit more time to work on them, as I hope they will turn out as good as they are in my head!!

Looking forward to seeing other things people have been getting up to with wool this month.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

An auction

 I have a friend in Ireland, called Rosemary, who I think is a saint in disguise!  She has a heart of gold, and is always looking out for those less fortunate than herself.  She works half the year selling tickets on the car ferry going over to Valentia Island, and she heard of a man from Valentia Island who is needing an operation to treat his liver and bowel cancer.  He needs to raise 80,000 Euros to cover all the costs involved, and there is a big fundraising effort to raise these funds for him. 

Rosemary asked me if I could make something for an online auction on facebook.  So, with my Aisling Designs hat on I offered to make some bunting.  If anyone is interested in it, it can be found at here.  And if you do not have a facebook account, but are still interested then you can let me know, and I can put a bid in for you.
Please check out the auction if you get a chance.  It is the online auction for the Paul Curran Trust.

Monday 5 March 2012

16 years

On Friday, Stuart and I celebrated 16 years of marriage.  Lots of looking back to the fond memories we have about the wedding day, the honeymoon in Bali, life together as a married couple, and events in general over the last 16 years.  My Mum very kindly offered to have all four children at her house overnight.  It was Sophie's first night away from me, and she coped very well (both Mum and Sophie!!)  In fact, the children didn't want to come home, so stayed for lunch at Mum's too!

About 5 years ago, Stuart and some work colleagues went to a restaurant that is about a 45 minute drive away from home, and he was very impressed with it, and said at the time that we should go there.  So what better time to be introduced to this restaurant than for our wedding anniversary.  I must say it was worth the wait.  The food was divine, even if I was fit to burst by the end of it!  Having so much uninterupted time together was really special, and we have vowed to make the effort to go out together more often.  We often go out seperately because that is what is easier with the children, but we really must make more time for each other too, and I certainly don't want to have to wait another 5 years for an opportunity to spend uninterrupted time with my wonderful husband!