Monday, 25 January 2010

Happy Birthday Robbie

"Ask why God made the Gem so small,
An' why so huge the granite?
Because God meant mankind should set
That higher value on it."
                                        Robert Burns

Happy Burn's Night one and all! 

My Scottish roots require me to celebrate tonight...

It's a tough job but somebody's got to do it...

 And yes haggis is on the menu, with neeps and tatties and a whisky and mushroom sauce...

Trust me despite appearances it is delicious!

Have a good one!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Doll crazy

Not even my bright and cheery dish brush could disguise the dull and drizzly weather here today.  My third day stuck at home with bone crunching arthritis.  Best thing to do though is keep moving as much as possible, soooooo....

Meet Ivana...

And Gertruda...

And also Borisova...

And, er, Julia...

And, lastly, Biata...

They are joining Roza and Sashka and I am not quite sure what to do with them all!  I have just really got a kick out of making them and seeing them all take on slightly different personalities, very addictive. 

Roza is going to Lillia as she fell in love with her.  Biata is going to make her way to a friend of mine working away from home and in need of a friend to keep her company.  As for the others?  I think one will be destined for a Toy Society drop, and of course I am sure more then a couple will be donated to Craft Hope, when donations are accepted again in two weeks time.  Every little counts after all.

I do love my new friends!  But right now the felt, the thread and the sewing machine are being packed away as in about twenty minutes we have family arriving for the weekend: four adults, one teenager, a pre-schooler and, of course, 7 new friends in our tiny two bed cottage for two nights and two days!  Eeek!

Have a good weekend all :)


Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Sunshine award

I was right in the middle of a low blog-esteem moment when I saw that I had been given a blog award by Bellaboo, who writes the wonderfully cosy bellascountry blog.  I nearly choked on my orange squash! 

Why the low blog-esteem?  Well, I haven't really "come out" about my blog with my friends and my family.  Hubby knows about it obviously, as he has to put up with the continual photographing of things.  Lillia knows because she likes to look at the pictures and help choose which to post.  But I haven't really shared it with anyone else among my nearest and dearest.

Then this evening during a text-exchange with my sister I gave her the link, then became very worried that she would think I was complete geek and that my blog was a bit pants.  Then three things happened:

1. I received some lovely comments on my last post which lifted my spirits greatly.
2. I received the Sunshine award which really lifted my confidence.
3. My sister texted back to point out that, as my sister, she already knew I was a "complete tool".

I'm currently watching the National TV Awards, so I am greatly tempted to thank my producer, the wonderful director, the catering van and the make-up girls.  So to stop myself I will shut up and get on with fulfilling the conditions of the award, which are:

* Put the logo on your blog or within your post.

* Pass the award onto 12 bloggers.

* Link the nominees within your post.

* Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

* Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

So here are my 12 - apologies if any of you have already received this award already, or if you don't like awards (who wouldn't like awards?!)


Big B

Joshy and Belle

Lottie Loves

June at Noon

Parallel Botany


Bugs and Fishes


The Old Lamp Shed

The Beauty is in the Detail

And last but not least a blog I discovered only this evening...
Sewing Obsessed

Phew!  That was a lot of links!  But worth it to share the love, I can go to bed feeling all fuzzy inside now :)

Matryoshka softies

I'm sick. Again.  I've caught some kind of bug and feel really icky.  I also have quite bad arthritis (yes I am only 32) and lately it has been properly full-on painful.  You should see me trying to stand up, it takes a good three minutes with lots of "oohing" and "aahing", clutching of  the lower back and some jaunty hobbling.  Some days I am so damn sexy, my husband must find it hard to resist me.

So here I am at home with the biscuit barrel, lots of tea and...felt.  On Monday night I just suddenly had an urge to make something simple.  I've had so many ideas whirling around my head that I just needed something I could make and complete in one evening.  Say hello to Roza...

My first attempt at a matryoshka doll!  I am very pleased with how she turned out, and especially pleased with how satisfyingly quick she was to make too, she took me about three leisurely hours.

I find felt very addictive to work with, it is so well behaved and requires very little effort.  So I started to make another...

Meet Sashka...

Sashka was particularly fun to make as I had more time to spend stitching on the flower and the other details.  It turns out felt, thread, biscuits, tea and DVDs are very therapeutic.

And so I am moving on to the next one...

Think I might grab another choccy digestive whilst I'm at it! :)

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Chocolate drizzle biscuits

I got a lovely surprise this morning.  Not just the fact that I woke at 9am naturally, with no child, no alarm, because hubby got up and dealt with Lillia and let me sleep.  But also because I got these in the post...

I ordered some notelets from the brilliant to use as thank-you cards for Lillia's Christmas gifts.  I used some of the photos I took during the snow and I am so pleased with how they've turned out!  Thank goodness they arrived too, because now I can send out our thank-yous and stop feeling guilty that I haven't done it yet.

It has been a rainy, cold and windy Saturday.  So, as well as several very detailed games of "hedgehogs and rabbits go to the pantomime" with Lillia (her imagine works overtime with these roleplay games and the rules and stories change rapidly...can't think who she takes after!)  We also decided it was just the kind of day for baking biscuits.  So that's just what we did...

Mmmmmm!  It's that melted chocolate that sets me off drooling! 

Want one?  Well, I can't hand one to you through the computer screen but I can give you the recipe.  This is an old recipe, extracted one day from the depths of the internet, then modified over the years so it would work better for my personal tastes and methods.  I prefer to use the US method of measurement in cups, so much easier than faffing about with scales, but I have given the weights in case you prefer to work that way...

  • 3 quarters of a cup (75g) of self-raising flour
  • 1 and a half cups (75g) porridge oats
  • 1 heaped half cup (75g) of caster sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
 What to do:
  • Preheat the oven to 180c (gas mark 4).  Pop some greaseproof paper on a baking tray.
  • Sift the flour into a bowl then mix in the porridge oats,sugar and ginger (if using).
  • Melt the butter, syrup and milk in a saucepan and stir until it is all melted.  Then add it to the dry ingredients and mix it well.
  • You should get a kind of lumpy moist mixture that you can mould with your hands. Squish some of the mixture in your hands and make balls about the same size of a large walnut, flatten the balls in your hands then place on the lined tray and neaten them up a bit into round biscuit shapes.  I sometime use the base of a mug or glass to squish them a bit when they're on the tray, so they look evenly flat, but that's because I'm a control freak.
  • Bake in the preheated over for anout 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Leave to cool for about 5 minutes, then you can move them to a plate to cool completely.
  • Now the most important part - break some chocolate into a heatproof bowl.  This a difficult job that requires a lot of expertise and so is best left to children who really know what they're doing in this area.
  • Place the bowl of chocolate onto a pan of boiling water and stir until the chocolate has become a melty gloop.
  • Use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the biscuits in various shapes.
  • Lastly, lick the spoon and bowl before children, husband or any other bugger can get there before you.

Oaty biscuits with chocolate drizzle...done.

Hope you enjoy them!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Crochet and commuting

I am suffering from idea overload at the moment. This happens quite frequently and, although it’s great to have ideas, I just wish they would pop into my head at more convenient times. When I am stuck in the office for eight hours doing mind-numbingly uncreative things it is so frustrating to have a head packed with crochet projects and bag designs. I tell you the four days in the week that I have to work really get in the way of my real life – my real life being my family life, which includes of course my creative life.

I am finding it increasingly difficult to juggle the two, but juggle I must, and so the daily commute has become a time for crochet. This week I have been working on a shawl.  (Do excuse the camera phone photo!)

Do not be fooled by the empty seat opposite me, my journeys are not this luxurious usually. This picture was actually taken on Wednesday when it took me three hours to get home to Kent because of the snow (all one inch of it.)

I started this shawl to have a practice at something lacy and it is coming along nicely…

The pattern is from the Happy Hookers book, page 106 in fact, if you’re interested in having a go. It really is a very simple pattern and it works up very quickly and nicely – even with the wrong weight of yarn and a crochet hook 1mm smaller than the one recommended, but hey ho.

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with these shells…

I love the way they have lots of height and the way they look when finished. But I hate doing them! They are made using five dtr (that’s double triple) stitches. The double-triple is one tall stitch let me tell you! And I’m struggling to maintain my tension with all those loops, though that could be because I am using the wrong size hook.  I do love the colour though , it’s called “fern”, it’s a mossy green colour, very snuggly buggly.

This week, as well as crocheting on trains, I have also discovered twitter. I have studiously avoided twitter until now as it all seemed so complicated that it scared me witless. But now I am tweeting away like I’ve been doing it all my life. So if you want to keep up with my daily twitterlations then please do click on the link above, it’s just below my “about me”, do you see it? Good! If you’re not already signed up then I can recommend it, once you’re set up it’s really rather easy and it does start to make sense very quickly. Only trouble is that it’s rather addictive.  But I only have 8 followers :(  There were 9 this morning so I have actually lost one during the course of the day!  Ouch. 

Think a bath is required to get over the pain of rejection.  Yes, bath, chocolate and a dip into my Lush stash...

Right, off I go to immerse myself in bubbles, might take my glass of wine with me :)

Happy Friday one and all x

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Dear snow...

Dear snow...

You are very very pretty but it would be really good of you if you could give the weather forecasters a bit more of a heads up next time, ok? I mean, it was a beautiful surprise this morning to step out into another inch or snow of powdery white, but I was a bit unprepared.

We were already running late so I had no time to go and swap my toasty ugg boots (not real ones of course, just the cheap fakes) for my (cold but groovy) wellies.

By the time I had tackled the transport system, trudged through your snowy deposits on London Bridge, nearly toppled on the ice by the Monument and narrowly missed being hit by an evil taxi at Fenchurch Street, my fluffy warm boots had turned to soggy wet sponges, soaking up every droplet they touched. Then after half an hour of trudging slowly through the streets to the office my arthritic joints seized up.

I arrived at the office soaked through from head to toes. I was so upset I cried as my fingers thawed on the wonderfully hot heater next to my desk. I then thought it would be an excellent idea to dry my boots on said heater, but burnt my fingers on the metal buckles when I lifted them off. Ouch.

I’m not blaming you snow, not at all. But if you could save yourself for the weekends that would be great. Alternatively if you are going to make an appearance, snow, then please make it a proper effort so I at least get totally snowed in and don’t have to attempt to go to work at all, that would be lovely.

Yours sincerely,


Sunday, 10 January 2010

Strawberries and cream ripple scarf - done!

The snow keeps falling here in Kent and the temperature is mainly below zero.  It's all very exciting, it's great to have some proper weather.  And who can complain about the cold when one is smothered in softly pinkily creamy ripples of warm cuddly wool?

Especially when that wool is itself smothered in softly pinkily creamy flowers...

Yup!  The strawberries and cream ripple scarf is finally finished!  Woop woop!  I started it on my train journey home from work on Christmas eve so it has taken me 18 days.  But that's 18 days of leisurely and intermittent crocheting, rather than a full-on crochet blitz, so really quite quick!

I am soooo very pleased with it.  Despite a scary wool shortage towards the end, the scarf turned out the length I wanted...

My hubby took this photo today when the temperature was about minus 2, he was freezing, but with my ripple snuggly scarf on I could have grabbed a glass of wine and a sun lounger and stayed out there all day!

My back-to-front flower is proudly featured...

And having had so much fun with flowers recently I managed to create my own pattern...

I quite like my little flower and intend to try it out with a variety of colours to see what it looks like.

For now I am off to snuggle up in my scarf and drink that glass of wine, though perhaps indoors rather than out ;)

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Since we've no place to go,let it snow let it snow...

The snow continues to fall, the temperature is minus 3 as I type, icicles have appeared for the first time since I was about 5 years old.  But today is Saturday and there's nowhere we need to go so we stayed indoors, we played, we did some DIY, we watched DVDs, we ate snacks...

No snow pictures today, time to warm things up a bit! 

I have to admit I am rather pleased with myself, it's only day 9 of the new year and I have completed two creative projects already.  Are you ready for the first completed project of 2010?!

Warning: the following pictures contains scenes of a toilety nature...

As mentioned previously I have been working on a toilet roll cover for my sister's birthday using a pattern from the book she bought me for Christmas. 

Well this is my daisy version of the Coming Up Roses pattern.  Ready?

An improvement to any throne room I am sure you will agree! I am now working on rosy coloured flowers for the rosy version.

More on toilet roll covers later in the week, because lets face it you can never have too many pictures of crochet toilet roll covers.  You want one more?  Oh go on then...


My second completed project of 2010 is my strawberries and cream ripple scarf, but I shall leave you salivating for more and will return tomorrow with pictures of that!  In the meantime I will leave you to admire my toilet...enjoy!


Thursday, 7 January 2010

Ripples and snow

We had loads more snow yesterday evening, then it stopped and the temperature dropped to -6 and the roads froze to ice rinks, while the train services continued to crumble.  It causes a lot of trouble this snow, but it is soooo pretty...

Lots of opportunity for lovely close up frosty pictures in the garden...

My heart mosaic is faring well in the snow...

Though our shed butterflies are looking a little cold...

More snow means more working from home, snug and warm and happy as pie...

And being at home meant I was here when the organic veggies were delivered from the local farm, so they didn't freeze on the doorstep.  Don't these look yummy...

The delivery guy said there were supposed to be leeks but they have frozen into the ground so we have a winter squash instead.  Should make a nice risotto later, mmm.

The ripple scarf is coming along nicely...

Though I am approaching a serious wool shortage and they no longer do the creamy one in the same weight...

Eek!  Will there be enough?  Will my ripple scarf reach the I want it to?  The suspense! 

Hope your snow days have been as cosy as mine have.  I am almost hoping for a big blizzard so I can have a third day tucked away from the world tomorrow :)