Tuesday, 30 November 2010

It snowed

If you wish hard, you get what you want sometimes and when I looked out the window this morning, there was the blanket of snow I had been dreaming of. I loved seeing the children so excited and it did fill me with Christmas cheer. However I have just discovered that another wonderful person has died and I am so shocked. This wonderful lady gave everything to the young refugees from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran and Iraq. Her heart was made of gold.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

I've been singing the lines of that song for days now, looking expectantly out the window every morning for a blanket of snow or willing any snow flurries that do come our way to settle, but I'm beginning to feel a bit hard done by, a tiny bit left out. As the rest of the country appears to be in the grip of a cold snap, with record low temperatures and inches of snow, we have just had frost and a few flakes of snow.

These frost crystals are just so beautiful. I love the geometric formations, they are incredibly delicate and truly dainty, practically perfect.

I have also been crocheting some snowflakes, inspired by the lovely lady at Attic 24. They need to have the ends sewn in, be ironed and starched but they really are addictive to make. Perhaps I can make enough for my own sprinkling of snow as well as keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow morning.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Mini Quilt No. 2

After making such a lumpy bumpy quilt earlier in the week, I really felt that I could do better. I left my iron out and ironed after I had stitched each area and there was a massive improvement. I ironed, cut straight edges, matched the edges up and ironed, ironed and ironed some more and it really did work. I feel quite confident that I have mastered mitred corners now, so I'm really excited about mini quilt No. 3.

Friday, 26 November 2010

The finished tea cosie

I'm really pleased to say it was finished on time, wrapped and given to the lady in question the night before her birthday.

I was also really happy with it, there were no obvious or drastic mistakes and I have been inspired to knit more. I could have quite happily kept it for myself.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Bright lights, little city

It's officially the festive season in our land, the Christmas lights have been switched on by a man up a ladder outside the fabric and yarn shop in Canterbury. There was a crowd of about 80 people and stars from the Pantomime including John Thomson but was quite disappointed that Sid from cbeebies wasn't there, especially seeing as he is a personal friend of Charlie's after meeting him at Leanne' wedding. However it would be perfectly lovely if our next Christmas tradition started in 2010 could be going to see the lights switched on with Lisa and her gorgeous boys. The tradition would have to include choosing Christmas books in the bookshop, a visit to Hip Hop to challenge Kirsty to a babysitting job and a half, the beadpot for us mummies, the sweet shop incase the children aren't crazy enough and the chip shop because they just looked so cute sitting together in the window with their light savers, eating chips.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Mini Quilt No. 1

I'm still learning about making quilts. I've read blogs, books and watched videos on YouTube, but I really do learn by doing. I'm not one to be methodical, read and rer-ead the instructions and take a great deal of notice of what people say. I have to just try it and learn by my mistakes. This mini quilt took me a couple of days and I have learnt two very important things. I have finally learnt how to mitre corners, after several messy attempts on other projects. You need to have one long piece of fabric, measured, ironed and cut and you need to put onto a straight edge. This may not be news for those who have made quilts before but nowhere had I seen this simple and very important piece of information highlighted with enough intensity for me to take any notice. If it isn't long enough to go all the way around, ironed and all  the edges straight, it will go wrong. The second thing I learnt was, you can never iron enough. Stitch it, iron, stitch a bit, iron, stitch, iron, iron and iron again. I did not do this and the quilt is really quite lumpy. Actually it is very lumpy and not up to my perfectionist standard, but I know for next time... mini quilt no.2.

Oh and I also really do know now that you can not use material with stretch in it. The green cord fabric had stretch in it and distorted when I sewed. I have done this twice before and will not do it again (well I hope not).

It really does look very wiggly and lumpy but I am going to be making a few mini quilt place mats as Christmas presents for my family, so hopefully I can only get better.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Emma Flower

 Everyone needs a friend called Emma and I have quite a few. The first Emma was my best friend when I was at primary school and just happened to born on the same day as me. When I was 18 my best friend was my Uncle's dog Emma, she slept on my bed, ate my shoes and knew all my secrets. The next Emma I worked with, partied with, laughed with, cried with, drank peppermint tea with, we had children and explored the Kent coast line together. I had another wonderful friend called Emma who looked after me whilst I was pregnant and doing my PGCE and now I even have an allotment friend called Emma. I've never been without an Emma and still love every single one of the above, so when I was looking for fabric to make a skirt out of and found Emma Flower, I thought I should share it with my Emmas....and buy it to make a skirt with.

Emma Flower

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Stir up Sunday

I really love traditions and spending time with my family. One of the best thing about the children getting a little bit older is that we can create our own traditions. On the first Stir up Sunday of my blog, I am going to have my first guest blogger - Josie. So in her own words, she beautifully describes what it's all about.

Stir Up Sunday (5 Sundays before Christmas)

Today I made Christmas Pudding with my dad. First we found all the ingredients and displayed them on the work surface. I took two cooking apples and started peeling them, whilst Mummy and Charlie chopped the almonds in the food mixer. Next I put nutmeg, brown sugar, raisins and a few other things in a huge mixing bowl and mixed them together. I wasn’t allowed to do more so Daddy did the rest. I just know one fact and that is they need to cook for 8 hours!

Charlie using the mixer to chop almonds

Josie's brilliant illustration of how to make Christmas Pudding

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Upcycling knitted tea cosies

There is a little of the charity shop old lady tea cosy about my latest project. The body came from a charity shop, I imagine it was made by an old lady but I am upcycling it into a fabulous knitted 'Garden Party' of a tea cosy, inspired and pretty much completely copied from the fabulous Loani Prior - Queen of the Tea Cosies from her even more fabulous book Really Wild Tea Cosies.

This tea cosy is going to be birthday present for someone who has been such a good friend. A tea cosy probably doesn't really reflect how brilliant she has been but it is being made with time, effort and love. I've made a start and am going to try really hard to get it finished, as the last two birthday presents I've made for her boys were late.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Gigantosaurus Dinosaur Birthday

This year Charlie had a dinosaur birthday. He wasn't particularly worried about what he got as long as it was related to dinosaurs. I did a bit of a dinosaur make over on his bedroom and finally finished his 'dinosaur, pirate, zoo animals, in boy colours with stripes' quilt.



I knitted him a matching dinosaur toy box.

Made him mini dinosaur display shelves

Charlie found all the dinosaurs that would fit in and sorted them into similar types.

We had a joint dinosaur party with Joe and invited  Grampy and his nursery friends, a dinosaur tea party on his birthday and plenty of dinosaur cakes. And his Daddy made a stegosaurus cake with a little help on the decorating.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Life is too short

Yesterday my dear friend Pippa died and a light went out in so many people's lives. Death is never that far away from you, be it an elderly relative, a work colleague, a good friend from the past or your child. Pippa was one of my closest friends from University, along with a couple of other girls, we were in each others projects, choreographies and performances throughout college. There are some people that you just get on with and Pip was the most beautiful, funny and endearingly genuine of people. Mostly I loved her for her observational questions of people's characteristics and mannerisms. She looked at the world, commented and asked with an innocence of actually caring about the answer. She saw the person and the purpose and that is a true quality for admiration. She was the most Welsh person, I have ever met other than my Nan's next door neighbour in Wales. She had the sunshine in her smile and a song in her voice. I remember her for her footprints, her perfectly acted role as the sleep doctor at my insomnia inspired honours project, our end of the evening "bicycles in trees" art installation, the most disgusting cocktail I've ever tasted in my life at our "we're not going to the prom" party and dressing like a princess when we did go to the Prom for my 21st birthday. Life is too short and too precious. Goodbye Phillipa Mahoney xxx

Thursday, 11 November 2010

How to make a bean bag

Charlie and I have been busy today getting ready for his party. We recycled some plastic bottles, painted them and they are going to be for a game of skittles and we have made bean bags. Bean bags are the perfect thing to make with Charlie because he gets involved in every stage.

Step 1. Choose your fabric

Charlie is turning into quite a fabric addict, just like me. He wanted the above fabric in both blue and white.

Step 2. Measure it to get the highest number of bags from the piece of fabric, today we made them 15cm x 15cm which is quite a good size for bean bags.

Step 3. Sew two 15cm x 15cm squares right side together, leaving a small gap so that you can turn the bag in the right way and fill it. Charlie turns the wheel on my old sewing machine, lifts and lowers the foot when we get to corners and I guide the fabric. He also choose orange thread.

 Step 4. Fill the bag and then sew up the hole. I think this is Charlie's favourite bit. We use pretty much anything in the bean bag but today we used pearl barley which is really cheap and the perfect size grain.

We've made enough bean bags for each of Charlie's friends to take home in their party bags and he also wants to have bean bag races at his party. They are brilliant for small children to play catch with because they are easier and softer to catch than balls. Josie had the very clever idea of using the bean bags to throw at the skittles we made.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

How about orange?

If someone asked me that question, I would answer "yes". There's nothing dreary or grey or November about orange, other than leaves which are quite November. I like orange, it is cheery and completely unapologetic. Charlie and Josie's favourite colour is orange, neither of them will eat cheese, unless it is orange so there is quite an orange element to Charlie's birthday bedroom make over. I love the simplicity of being almost four years old. If it's orange, Charlie will like it and if it's related to dinosaurs he'll like it.

I've dyed Charlie's cotton cellular baby blankets orange, used a cut up orange sheet to make a ball of yarn  to knit him a toy basket and I'm going to spend the next few days working on his bedroom.

There's also a rather good blog called How about orange. It's not just about orange but about all sorts of wonderfully crafty things.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Black Magic

Sometimes before your very eyes, things change and you don't even notice. For example: Black Magic. I always preferred dark chocolate and so did my Mum. My Dad always used to buy Black Magic for my Mum and Grandma and I used to love choosing. It's quite funny how different boxes of chocolates remind me of different people. New Berry Fruits remind me of my Auntie Joyce, Quality Streets of my Grandad and Matchmakers of the one afternoon per week we used to spend at my Grandma's.

I recently came across an original 1930s Black Magic chocolate tin and it is so very stylish with its Art Deco design, delectable sounding chocolates and inspirational magical romance. My favourite was always the liquid cherry, so much so that I decided there is nothing better for chasing away the dark clouds on a dreary wet Monday, than Black Magic.

These days though, there are not the 12 different chocolates from the original 1930s collection. There are only six and sadly no liquid cherry. I was disappointed but it seems that after staying unchanged for years, Black Magic became far more sophisticated in the 1990s and changed to reflect the fashion for continental chocolates. However they have recently changed back to their classic favourites by popular demand of the fans and all without me even realising. I am glad that they did return to the classics but just wish there were a few more of my favourites. Perhaps it has something to do with Nestle taking over what was the quintessential English company Rowntree. Nestle is just a little too global for my liking, I think I would much rather the chocolates were still produced by Rowntree in York and sold in stylish tins.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Shining lights of spectacular colours

The dark days of November are weighing heavy on my spirit. The cold, bleak weather is drawing closer and I very much feel like I would like to stay inside and not go anywhere at all. I think that hibernation would suit me at the moment, sometimes life can be too harsh but I know that there are beautiful things all around me, I just have to try harder to see them. Through the low grey drizzle at the allotment, I saw shining lights of spectacular colours and remembered just why chrysanthemums they are the darlings of November.

This is my first year of growing chrysanthemums in my new cutting bed and they are stunning.

The red ones have the most buds on with the most flowers to look forward to.

The orange are the most flamboyant and blousy. They are such fabulous flowers, I can't help be cheered by the vibrant warmth. I 'm now looking forward to getting more and more colours and varieties.

For Jack x

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Kicking Leaves

I like to watch the weather. I am a gardener at heart so I like to know what's going to be going on for my plants. This autumn, the weather, has apparently been perfect for leaves, although I haven't ever known an autumn that isn't good when it comes to leaves. This year though, the trees have been holding on to their leaves until today which was definitely a kicking leaves day. As ever my own interests were reflected in Charlie's conversation topics and he did comment constantly about how windy it was and how the leaves were coming. We have a favourite game. It's quite simple. You stand under the trees, wait for the wind to blow the leaves off and try to catch one. The idea of the game is simple, however it isn't easy to actually catch a leaf, but I did today and I wore my turquoise wellies, perhaps they're magic.

After we'd been kicking leaves we played in the garden and did a few autumnal jobs. Charlie planted some bulbs in a pot and collected the runner bean seeds and borlotti beans for next year. I especially liked the way that he lined them up on a brick. 

A truly beautiful golden day. Autumn leaves with their spectacular colours are enough to lift anyone's spirits especially when bathed in warm sunshine such as today.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Are stars already sand on Blackpool Beach?

A year ago today, we sadly saw that Baby Jack's heartbeat was gone and discovered that we had lost our third baby at 6 months. I was then and still am now totally devasted, but I am finding my way through the dark days and teaching myself to look at all the wonderful things around me. Most of all I am cherishing what I do have: days filled with the love, laughter, tears and happiness that I share with my beautiful children and incredible children.

I think the recipe for happiness has something to do with loving what you have, living for the moment and doing whatever it is you need to keep the clouds from covering your sun. Today I wore my turquoise wellies to Sainsbury's just because they are shiny and I collected some smooth stones from the beach at Whitstable.

The other day when I was reading Charlie's bedtime story, he noticed I was wearing the memory bracelet I made for Jack and asked if we could look for our star angel. I always point out the brightest star in the sky as Jack and it reminded me of a question from my school days;

Are stars already sand on Blackpool Beach?

I believe it has something to do with the big bang theory and that we may all be made from stardust because carbon matter is produced by supernova explosion. I vaguely remember learning how some light from stars can take so long to travel to earth that the star may have already died, exploded before it reaches here and it's stardust could therefore actually be in essence on this planet. I think that then combined with the theory that there are more stars in the Universe than there are grains of sand on a beach or all the beaches (I can't quite remember which), my dear friend Viki and I were intrigued by whether stars we see in the sky could have exploded generations before we see their light and that their stardust, elements or matter had already formed sand on Blackpool Beach. I suppose the comparison could also be made with stones on shingle beaches. I quite like thinking of today's collection of smooth stones being stardust, it makes them seem even more special.

Another thing that made me smile was that despite the frost, there were still enough nastursiums to make a bouquet from the garden for Jack. If the me from today could go back in time and meet the me from one year ago, the advice I would give is to allow time, it is the only healer sometimes. I hope that the me from next year will have even greater wisdom and that the sadness and pain will fade. My life changed forever a year ago and I know that I will have to fight the depression that has caused but I have alot and for that I am truly grateful.

Monday, 1 November 2010


I love books so what could be more exciting than a package from Amazon. I would never particularly want a large house but it would be rather special to have a library in the old fashion sense of the word, with a Victorian fireplace, comfortable armchair, writing desk and floor to ceiling window looking out over the sea. I could quite happily live in Bleak House in Broadstairs, in fact a previous home of Charles Dickens would be the perfect place for my personal library.

Today the book I received in my Amazon package was Make you own toys by Sue Haven. It's quite delightful and Charlie has already chosen a sausage dog toy that he would like, but I really have to finish some of the projects I already have on the go before I start a new one. I shall just put a book mark in and then place it on the shelf in my imaginary library in Bleak House.