Sunday, 27 May 2012

We {Heart} Camping

In April we bought a new tent. We got the whole kit, new tent, extension (for rainy days), sleeping bags and air beds. We have been going camping since Charlie was a baby, with a fabulous tent that my father in law bought us, but it had definitely seen better days and we love camping so much that we invested in a new one. We got a lovely new tent and then it rained and rained and rained. It was cold and the weather was really just not the right kind of weather for camping. Then it changed, the sun came out and the summer began.This weekend was the perfect for camping at Kingsdown Campsite near Deal Kent.

I have recently dipped my toes into the world of craft blog linky parties where wonderfully creative people share their ideas, makings  and fabulous stuff with other people. You are allowed to comment and ask questions and even copy. I think that they may well be quite addictive. There is also the added excitement that someone may well even visit your post and leave a comment. These are people who you have never met before, just being nice to you. It's a very caring and sharing kind of thing to do.

There have been a large number of projects that have taken my fancy and I have been trying to collect them on my blog page Just Completely Brilliant and Fabulous when I remember. This week though I loved the I {Heart} Camping T-shirt ~ a tutorial  by Heather at Twin Dragonfly Designs. What a brilliant blog!! And the t-shirts are just completely brilliant and fabulous. I  made one for Josie, she's wore it immediately, got it very muddy and it had been washed twice before we even went camping. Josie did not want Charlie to have one the same as hers so his was different once again to the original design by Heather.

Both of the children wore their t-shirts all weekend which made me so happy and the camping trip was brilliant.

This one is Josie's

And this is Charlie's 

We {heart} camping

Friday, 25 May 2012

Menu planner update

By the time it comes to tea time on most days, my brain has pretty much turned to mush. What with getting up early, work and the battle of the school run, I am not really capable of any in depth thought, even after a cup tea. That "What's for tea?" question used to give me a bit of a panic attack but then I sorted out a menu planner. I wouldn't say that I was exactly qualified to give good mummy advance but when you have an eating machine like my Charlie, being a little bit organised seriously reduces the amount of stress. If they want to know what is for tea, I look on the fridge and that is what's for tea, no discussion, no negotiation and no arguing and because my husband is such a complete star and does the shopping, everything I need to cook what the fridge tells me, is in fact in the fridge. There is a little bit more to it than that, like deciding what meals are going to go in the menu planner and writing the shopping list, but I am so grateful to have the fridge to turn to everyday after school.

I originally made the menu planner fridge magnets last September (check it out here) but the meals have a slightly wintery feel and in anticipation of the produce that I am growing at the allotment, it was time for a bit of an update.

Quick Tutorial

You will need

  • Cardboard (Cut up a box, I do like to reuse and recycle)
  • Decorative paper (I used vintage musical score)
  • Pretty Card stock
  • Little labels (I made my own using some old graph paper and my vintage typewriter. I used an ink jet printer last time and the ink smudged a bit when I painted the Modge Podge over the top)
  • Mod Podge
  • Magnetic strips (I cut an old magnetic postcard that I got from the council about composting)
  • Fancy edged scissors

Cover the cardboard in Mod Podge, stick the musical score to it and then more Mod Podge

Cut the card stock with some fancy edged scissors and stick that on top of the cards with more Mod Podge.

The weather was so glorious today that I took my vintage type writer out into the garden to type the new meals labels. It isn't necessary to really go to so much trouble but these happy memories of sunny days, pretty papers and lovely typeface all help to diffuse the stress of tea time.

More Mod Podge and more sticking

Josie was very impressed with the Eton Mess which I will be able to make with raspberries or strawberries or perhaps even red or black currants. She did not like the beans on toast idea but this is strictly for adults and made with broad beans or runner beans and  goats cheese on ciabatta garnished with freshly picked rocket. I can not wait!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Escape to the allotment

For the third night this week I have escaped to the allotment after tea and it is so lovely. There really is nowhere that I would rather be on a glorious evening in May.

On Monday this whole area was covered in weeds and waist high nettles. My lupins (now in their 2nd year and truly established) have room to breathe and flower and I have a lovely view of the river.

If the weather continues to be warm and sunny, then these lupin spikes will flower and I will just be so happy. Lupins are truly majestic and I do love them especially because I grew these ones myself from seed.

I have finally replaced the strawberry patch that Charlie destroyed the first year we had an allotment. As a toddler he picked strawberries by pulling out the whole plant, eating the ripe strawberries and then pulling the plant apart. He has learned a lot about strawberries since then and even knows which ones are strawberry plants just by the leaves. I did love him, when in the middle of winter, he wanted to go out to the garden to get strawberries for his pancakes.

I do hope these ones are ready for half term so I can take the children to pick them and eat them.

Not quite Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal material, but pretty none the less and no longer entirely covered in weeds.

Junkie handmade projects

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Riding bikes

I love my bike. I use it almost everyday. It's not fancy although it has had a make over (check it out here). I did think that the make over was complete but I have recently added a crocheted seat cover and embellished the bike lock with crochet stitches.

The bike seat cover

The bike lock

I have been riding around with a little one on the back for 8 years so I was really very sad recently when I finally admitted that Charlie is now too big to ride in the seat on the back as it is way to dangerous. 

 I started teaching Charlie to ride a couple of weeks ago but then it rained a lot and last weekend was devoted to Josie's birthday and roller skating so on the second day of actually trying to teach him, he has pretty much got it. I do have to push him to get him started but I am looking forward to riding bikes in the summer holidays.

Friday, 18 May 2012

The start of the champagne season

April and May have been rather wet, resulting in an explosion of growth at the allotment. I have two rhubarb plants, one is only a year old but the other I inherited with the plot and it produces the most enormous stems. Rhubarb likes rain and stinging nettles seem to grow really well around the rhubarb so with the huge amount of growth over the past few weeks, the nettles have kept the sunlight off the stems. This means that not only to I have giant rhubarb but the stems are a beautiful dark pink colour.

Last year the rhubarb champagne I made was not as explosive or as nice as the year before. I couldn't work out why until I checked my blog post from last year for the recipe and it was not the one from my recipe book. So I thought I should share the more explosive recipe because it is delicious and has been known to make holes in people's ceilings.

I am very proud to say that out of the 5 ingredients needed to make rhubarb champagne, 80% were sourced from the UK. Up until last night, I didn't even realise that sugar beet was grown in England. Apparently Silver Spoon only use sugar from British Farmers which I think is brilliant. It was only the lemon that didn't come from this country but Spain isn't too far away so I guess the food miles are still less than they could be.

The recipe

3 1/2 cups of rhubarb (which is about 1lb)
3 1/2 cups of sugar (which is about 1lb bag)
11 tablespoons of cider vinegar 
1 Lemon 
20 cups of cold water

Chop up the rhubarb and the lemon, place in a large saucepan and add the sugar, vinegar and stir. Leave for no more than 48 hours, then stained and bottle. It should be ready in about 3 weeks. I recommend that you vent the gas daily, to prevent explosions!

This year however I was missing the small boy who usually does the stirring. It is the first time I have really missed him since he started school. Of course I miss both my children when they are at school but a Friday is the only day I don't work, I relish the idea of having some time to myself to get on with jobs without little helping hands. Today though I did truly miss my little helper and my lack of pre-school children at home. I was able to borrow the beautiful Matryoshka dolls measuring cups that Josie got for her birthday though and return them to her room without her knowing!

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Here comes the sun

Seriously by the middle of May, I really think there should be a little more sunshine and warm weather. I know... how very British of me to be talking about the weather but I do like to spend time in the garden and there is a whole host of summery dresses that I would like to be wearing. Ever since our Yellow Day last summer, I have been rather enamored with yellow, probably because it is such a sunny colour. I've recently made a couple of yellow hair clips in preparation for the summer.

This one is a made from an old t-shirt and some left over yellow ric rac.

And this is one is crocheted lemon yellow roses

I've added these to my Etsy shop and whilst I was there I thought I might as well make a treasury of all the lovely yellow things on Etsy that I love but can't afford.

 Check it out here

The 36th AVENUE

Sunday, 13 May 2012


I recently discovered a blog, with brilliant titles for each of the posts, either witty or a play on words and I was really quite envious. Inspired, I thought that Rollerama was an accurate title for a blog about Josie's birthday weekend. The suffix -arama, originates from Greek and has something to do with a display or exhibit and there has definitely been a huge display of roller skating since Josie got some roller skates for her birthday.

Yesterday was her roller disco at Herne Bay Arena. I was slightly disappointed that the roller rink is no longer at the end of the pier but now located at the local high school. However once I was whizzing around, I could have just as easily been at my first roller disco in Australia 1980.

This is Josie outside the arena, trying to create our own special Xanadu moment. Actually Charlie paid Josie a genuine compliment which I have to record for posterity as I doubt that in the future he will always be quite so lovely (I've heard the things they say to each other at other times). He told her that when she got back from getting her ears pierced yesterday she looked like Olivia Newton John on the front of the DVD box for the movie Xanadu. Josie was very pleased because she thinks Olivia Newton John is very pretty and she loves that she now has pierced ears

Then today we headed off to Folkestone for some skating along the promenade (I forgot to mention I also got some skates for myself) I have wanted some white roller skates since I watched Xanadu at a drive in movie in Australia in 1980. Josie was actually really pleased that I had skates and could skate with her and teach her tricks, which was a huge relief as I could have just as easily been a total embarrassment and ordered never ever to skate again.

Skating along by the sea today is one of my most favourite things that I have done with Josie. We both love skating. For our final skating outing, we went around the coach park and Sainsbury's car park as both are quite on Christmas Day and Sundays and we have always taken advantage of that.

Seriously happy days

Friday, 11 May 2012

Birthday tea with flowers

There is a difference between Josie's birthday tea and those that are made for Mark, Charlie and I; the garden is filled with flowers that can be cut and placed with pride on the table. The weather is not always glorious, but there is a lushness and a freshness about May that is just not there in November, December or February.

I sincerely believe that if you wish to be happy, fill your house with freshly cut flowers. It works, well it does if you like flowers and of course it is relative. If you are feeling sad already it will cheer you up but if you are happy, it will intensify the feeling.

Flowers for Josie's room

For the window on the stairs

And for the tea table

Josie asked for cheese and biscuits and Charlie wanted salt and vinegar crisps and yes, those are party rings.

I do love aquilegia in May

Happy Birthday Josie

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Nine little wishes

Tomorrow is Josie's 9th birthday and as every parent knows, the passing of each of our children's years brings about total disbelief in how fast time is going. No parent can believe that the child is one already, five and starting school, nine and becoming even more beautiful.... Despite stepping of the career ladder of working towards deadlines, avoiding the rush hour crush on the tube and moving to the semi-country like Canterbury shortly after Josie's 1st birthday, time has continued to fly by in a whirl. Since Josie entered my world, I have never once been bored, she is, as is every child, a constant stream of delights.

This year I had got well organised for her birthday until I was struck down by a sickness bug (kindly donated by Charlie) on Tuesday. So her presents have no fancy ribbons this year, just paper flowers.

And  I would also like to grant her nine little wishes

No. 1 She remains happy forever
No. 2 Her empathy and kindness towards others never goes unnoticed
No. 3 Her enthusiasm for everything shines through
No. 4 She learns to live with the things that make her sad and accepts them

No. 5 She continues to believe that time and love have more worth than any amount of money
No. 6 Her creativity and amazing imagination bring her joy

No. 7 She is always able to see how wonderful she truly is
No. 8 She remains as unique and special as she has been since the moment she was born
No. 9 All her dreams come true

The paper flowers actually don't look too bad, considering they have taken me all morning as I kept needing to lie down. I hope I feel well enough for her roller disco party on Saturday!!

Dedicated to my darling Josie Victoria born 11th May 2003

Monday, 7 May 2012

New Camera

I do actually do quite a lot of reading and research about blogging. Photography and the camera
 seems to be at the top of the tips list and really important to most of those other bloggers I admire. I did not have a fancy camera but as the time has gone on, I have been thinking and considering how lovely it would be to take those fabulous photos I love to look at.

Any one who knows my Charlie will appreciate that he is a whirling dervish of Charliness, destroying everything in his path or eating it or embellishing it or just simple putting his special touch on things. When I gave him my camera yesterday and foolishly said "Don't break it", I really should have saved my breath. Apparently it fell off the table whilst he was trying to take a picture of himself.

So it was a bit of an accident that I got a new camera, more out of necessity than desire but that doesn't mean to say I didn't want one or love my new camera. And I do love it and can't wait to get to grips with it. I choose a Canon PowerShot SX230 HS for its optical zoom and because it was just within my budget. I read reviews and just set my heart on it.

Bedside table snapshot

Fabric close up

Wine in a dark room with one of the colour detect features

Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Button Competition Prize

Yesterday the children were off school because it was a staff development day. It was raining and I had had a busy week so we decided on a home day but by mid morning, they were craving my time and entertainment. Children are never interested in how many jobs you need to do: they care very little about the piles of laundry, the washing up or the untidy house so we decided to have a button competition. This cleverly allowed me to complete another unfinished project; Josie's noticeboard which is the final part of her bedroom makeover that I did for her last birthday.

And just like that an hour of our lives flew by as we all worked on our separate button project right next to each other in the front room. Each of us, admiring the exquisite vintage buttons, sharing nicely and commenting positively on each others work. Initially there was a lot of talk and speculation about what the prize for the competition but as we worked and talked, we collectively agreed that this was the prize; spending time with each other and being able to play with such lovely buttons. It does make me incredibly happy that Josie and Charlie share my love for vintage buttons and that so much fun can be had from such a simple activity.

Charlie's project was in two parts. He found all the green buttons and made a long line and secondly collected up all of what he considered to be the best buttons. I had to agree with his choice, they were all my favourites.

Josie made an incredible portrait of me in vintage buttons. It was so amazing, I almost cried. She is such a lovely little girl and it was really very touching.