:: Blue skies and wild flowers::

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We’re nearly at the end of our half term holiday and what a mixed bag it’s been: whistle stop trip to Edinburgh for a GCSE art project (don’t ask!), crochet, shopping, some school work and catching up with the returned-from-University-for-the-year child! Yes all done for the year! Sitting relaxing in the garden with my Kaleidoscope CAL blanket, listening to the birds twittering in the crab-apple tree above me, the cat purring near my feet and the sun warming my face, made me smile and just pause for a minute to savour life around me.

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As it was soooo pretty, today I went for a pootle around the locality (the village) with my Hubby in the lovely, gorgeous sunshine. What a fantastic day it has been; blue skies, really clear and sometimes just a whisp of white fluffiness to change the view, an abundance of wild flowers scattering their colourfulness in the hedgerows and fields. The hummmmmmm of tractors making their first cut of the season in the grassy fields taking advantage of the sunshine.

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We could see all the way over to Dumfries; it was a little hazy and shimmery in the heat over the Solway but the outline of the hills and Criefell could be seen. Beautiful; it made me smile and wish for the summer months to speed towards us with the promise of long walks along the beach, picnics in the fields near the lake, the rainy days in with the games and the long trip to France in the car, laden with holiday hopes and dreams. Oooooh I can smell and hear the markets now, with their stalls swollen with local produce – the cheese, the hams, the tomatoes!!!

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Now back to our walk. I’ll let you look at the pictures, they tell their own sunny, hedgerow story really. But doesn’t it make your heart swell and jump with delight when you get an unexpected day like today?  I love wild flowers and they last for such a short time, it is lovely to cherish and take notice of them while you can. Long, luscious sweeps of buttercups, wild orchids, clover, wild geraniums and tonnes of tiny forget-me-nots that were just a blur when the picture was taken. I wish you could have seen them. I hope you enjoyed your day. :O)xxx

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::Simple Mixtures::

I often think about how life can, at times, be a wonderfully simple mixture of a whole bunch of happy things. A great cup of coffee, a piece of homemade cake or a snatched moment of something creative. Crochet, family, food and a feast of sensory delights is my idea of the simple life – not necessarily in that order – a happy mixture.  So today I focussed on the things around me that brought me a simple pleasure – May Mixtures.

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Whilst catching up with all my Facebook and Blog friends, I saw this cushion and was immediately reminded of Lucy’s projects over at Attic24 for Yarndale this year. She’s championing Mandalas- It’s May Mandala Mayhem! The idea is really simple but incredibly effective. I saw this photograph a while ago, and it happens to be the same one that has inspired Lucy with her Yarndale project, from Finnish artist Anu Tuominen. Simple and stunning.

ImageThen there is the amazingly glorious Babette blanket from Ellblo on Ravelry, this stash busting arrangement of granny squares is the best I’ve seen so far. I LoVe LoVe it so much. It makes my heart squeeze and swell with adoration. Simple mixtures of colour and sizes, no black or white was her only rule. It works brilliantly.

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It always fills me with delight waking on Saturday mornings after a hectic week at work, to my crochet, Saturday Kitchen and a lovely leisurely breakfast with super good coffee and maybe even toast! Toast is such a simple pleasure- buttery, crispy and warm. No time during the week, oh no, porridge it is at 6.30am to fill me up until playtime (10.30am). Oh yes, toast is a simple pleasure for a simple life especially when someone else makes it for you!

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J decided to take me and little J out for lunch. We decided to go to Priest’s MiIl at Caldbeck again as I haven’t been since I was ill at February half term. I found my first glimpse of the bluebells that begin to fill the verges and hedgerows here, they sweep beautifully , nodding their heads in the breeze.ImageImage

Aren’t they just adorable?

Lunch was a simple affair; leek and cheddar tart and a mixture of delicious homemade salads, (they do the best apple chutney) with another good coffee. In fact it has been a good coffee day!

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A pop into the Wool Clip, for more Wild Wood Wool from Cecilia and Jean’s collection of delicious yarns. I went for a mixture of darker plum, grey and navy shades this time. I have a quick and easy project in mind. Image

On the return journey home we passed some beautiful trees, I just had to take a photo of them. Simple colours in nature but stunning.

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Today seems to have been a mixture of lots of simple little bits and bobs, but I think they come together well enough in their own patchwork of simple snapshots.  It always fills me with joy to be reminded of the simple things around me, pulling me out of work mode and the intensity of work life at this time of year with the year sixes and all their changes. Enjoying the simple pleasures of life, mixtures and bubbles of calm moments, help to ground me over the weekends. Recharging my batteries, connecting with the world around me and stopping me in my tracks to appreciate all that is simple and good in my life brings me calm. I cherish it all. :O)xxxxx

::Kaleidoscope blanket- progress::

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Lots of pictures for my colourful Kaleidoscope Blanket Mystery CAL from The Natural Dye Studio, I’m just completing the attaching of the motifs for February and have started to hook the ones for March. I’m a little behind, having been rippling along on my ripply blanket for a little hooky break, but I’m love, love loving the progress and therapy of this blanket. I introduced this blanket back in March after making some progress with it and finishing other WIP’s.Image

It’s beautiful hand-dyed merino wool and I’m working it on a 3.5m hook, so that my tension matches the size the triangles need to be. The beauty of this blanket is the mysterious nature of receiving a package in the post, filled with the scrummiest and loveliest yarn, winding it all up, then exploring and figuring out the colour combinations for the motifs. The Photo album on my Facebook page has the very beginnings of the blanket and shows the progress made, even with the travelling motif making in the car!ImageImage

Anyone not familiar with the Natural dye Studio, should have a peep over at their Facebook page (there are links to their website too) and revel in the colour, designs and magnificence of Amanda Perkins’ designs. I first saw her at yarn dale and I will be meeting up with Amanda at Woolfest this June. She has some fabulous ideas, including the completed and cryptically photographed finished Kaleidoscope Blanket!

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This is her recent Supernova Blanket.

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So I’ll be hooking away at my colourful Kaleidoscope Blanket for the next few weeks, winding the newly arrived package of yarn and watching the pattern unfold. We even have a Ravelry group to see each others progress- but no peeping at the next stage. Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!!

::Easter Simnel Muffins::

ImageHappy Easter everyone!!

Here is a little treat post, won’t be a long one I promise, for those of you who enjoy a Simnel cake but find the cooking of it takes an age! These Simnel Muffins are amazing and are from the BBC Good Food cookery Book. I discovered them through a Facebook friend, who posted a picture of her muffins fresh from the oven. Ooooooh I wish I was able to smell them as they promised to be AmAzInG!!I have included any dairy or gluten free adaptations.  Anyway here are the recipe and the pictures.

They really are easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!!!!!Image

Soak 9oz Mixed fruit for an hour with the juice & rind of an orange, (keep back 2tbsp juice for the icing) – or microwave for 2min if you forget!

Beat together:
6oz butter (or free from margarine)
6oz golden caster
3 eggs
1tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
10oz self raising flour (I use gluten free)
5tbsp milk ( I use rice milk)

Add in fruit.

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Half fill muffin cases then put in a flattened ball of marzipan ( I put in small chopped chunks). 6oz will do all 12 muffins
Top with remaining mixture.

25 – 30 min 160-180C

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Make a thick ish icing with 8oz icing sugar & the orange juice then top with Mini Eggs

Then you can have your very own TA-DAH!!! moment and once the icing has stuck a little bit, enjoy them. They are really delicious!Image

:: Wasdale Part One::

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Remember in my post, Weekend Relaxing, I mentioned purchases? Well the big purchase we made was a new-to-us Caravan. Meet Doris, she is my latest makeover project, (well the house is nearly finished), and as E said, “You’ve run out of places to crochet in the house so you need more space?” Maybe…. was my reply! Having camped in our super-large family tent since the boys were 5 and 8 years old, we have enjoyed many holiday trips, to the sea in Norfolk, Exeter and the Jurassic coast, and also to other parts of The Lake District. Getting a caravan seemed like the next step for us.

Our new-to-us caravan Doris. Now she is 30 years old, so classed as Retro or Classic instead of Vintage, and is in need of a makeover and a bit of a Mixture43 treatment, but she’s perfectly roadworthy and habitable. Lots and lots of beige… I’ll leave it at that!

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I used my Festival Granny Stripe Blanket and my Sunshine Granny Square Blanket to cheer her up for this trip and it certainly did the trick, along with a couple of homemade crochet cushions.Image

Ooooh did you spot my new book? It has some lovely inspirational caravan makeover pictures (but more of that later).

Once we’d got her ship-shaped – well caravan-shaped I should say, we settled down for an evening view of the area. It was a lovely Gold rated David Bellamy caravan and camping site near to the west coast at Seascale, so lots of flaura and fauna to look at and of course being in an Area of Outstanding beauty you wouldn’t expect anything other than beautiful things to look at!

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Wasdale and nearby Eskdale fells and mountains were only a few miles away, so we plotted and planned our walking and ascent. We had such beautiful weather on our trip to the South Lakes Area of Wasdale. J and I visited there over twenty years ago (was it really so long ago?) and I have always thought it would be lovely to return, I hoped it would still be as beautiful as I had remembered. It is breathtakingly stunning. We looked out at the view over a homemade supper cooked on Doris’s stove top. We are going to have many adventures, it’s going to be great!

A little bit of morning snuggly ripply hooky in my Doris bed…Image

We decided that we would walk along the side of the Lake. As I was just recovering from an acute episode with my back… lets just say half an hour to get off the floor in excruciating pain and not standing up straight for what seemed like eternity (bottom out like a duck and sideways slant is never a good look), we thought that a flat-ish walk would be better. To be honest I really needed to move about too so I gritted my teeth and off we went.Image

It was such a lovely walk, peaceful, tranquil, silent even at times but for the flowing and rippling water and rustling leaves in the gentle breeze.

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The light casts such beautiful shadows on the fells and mountain, it’s quite Scandinavian to look at, well so I’ve ben told. I haven’t been there… yet!

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Skimming stones… you just have to at every opportunity, always a competition! Dad and son… who won? Not so little J of course!Image

You can see how far the water rose in the recent months with all of the wet and windy weather, in fact one of the locals told us it had been pouring down until only two days before, and he was heartily sick of rain! I’m not surprised with this much water , however it’s not called the Lake District or nothing!

Then there were the damaged trees…ImageImage

I was so proud of myself for walking along an undulating road and not a flat one as promised and my back did very well. In fact at times I forgot all about it what with the beautiful Wasdale scenery and sounds to look and listen to.

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After a little rest, some buttered hot crossed buns and a slurp of coffee, that we had in our rucsac, we set off back the other way. My back had warmed up by now and was actually beginning to sort itself out. I was feeling so much better and enjoying the chat, jokes and banter that was flowing back and forth from Little J and J. Oh my, how 15 year olds, (really my baby is 15?) can talk of such random things!

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I knew I wanted to go to the sea. I love being near the water, lakes, sea, streams, it is always so calming and reminds me of caravanning trips with my parents to Great Yarmouth, Poole in Dorset and Western Super-mare. I loved caravanning as a girl, the joy of hitching up and getting off, the waking up and remembering where you were in your cosy caravan bed. The return from school on a Friday evening and seeing the bags packed and ready for the off. My children are too old for that kind of excitement, but I have to say I was so overjoyed when little J decided to come with us, no wifi, no Xbox and all those other teenage boy toys. But he was very pleasantly surprised. He is outdoorsy too, I might add, so enjoys a good walk. And he does love water… he’s my water baby.ImageImage

Seascale is a quiet place, although being one of the starting places for the C2C cycle ride, it can get busy from Easter to October.  Last year E and J made that self same ride across the country cycling 142 miles in two days, they did Seascale to Whitby. Little J and I followed in the car with supplies, flapjacks and coffee. It was quite the adventure!

Anyhoo….  Seascale and the beach. Lots of lovely bits and bobs and ripples!!Image

Fish shaped stone, in a gorgeous shade of blue.ImageImageImage

We enjoyed an ice cream sitting on a bench looking at the sea. Then, with weary legs and a hungry tummy, we headed off back to Doris for the night.

The evening view from Doris was spectacular.

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The day ended with a Very satisfying ‘CLUNK’ as I laid down and snuggled in my Doris bed. The relief in my back was fantastic and having not slept so well for a week or more, I slept like a baby. Wasdale and Doris the Caravan had lived up to every dream and expectation I had and more.  Great times ahead.

:: First Quarter ::

It doesn’t seem two minutes ago that I was putting together my end of year review photos, of colourful makes, practical projects and little bits of my creative life. Here I am with the First Quarter of the year flashing by in images!! What a treat it is again, even though it wasn’t that long ago, to refresh, recap and revisit these happy snaps.

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What an amazingly colourful and creative first quarter it has been; there have been trials and tribulations, illness, difficult weather and changes to our working lives. But as a family, and with the support of good friends and trusted colleagues, we have weathered it all and are happy, safe and positive about what the next quarter will bring.

Many new projects on their way, new yarn purchased and also my kaleidoscope blanket to continue- it’s a lovely surprise every month! And I can’t wait to start my poncho with my beautiful Cascade peruvian yarn too. Busy busy!!

Happy hooking people!!

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::Outside again::

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It always amazes me how quickly you begin to feel better when you’ve been ill, if you can venture outside again. Half term took a turn for the worse when my asthma decided it didn’t like the bronchial virus that struck mid-week, so staying warm and cosy became a priority. Not being able to breathe is a very scary feeling, typically like ‘the elephant on the chest’ that people often refer to when having an asthma attack. But this asthma attack didn’t work like that: it crept up on me over time making me feel tired, cold and breathless. I wondered when I would be able to go outside again.

So this week I took advantage of being at home, snuggly warm (and somewhat tired) to complete projects, watch T.V movies that had been stored on the hard drive since Christmas, enjoy tasty foods (my tastebuds were seriously struggling, everything tasted so bland) and generally fully recharge my batteries. I really did enjoy the full Lord of the Rings trilogy, all nearly 10 hours of it… but my goodness I just wish they’d got there sooner! In the end my week turned out very productive, and I did get lots of rest. More than once I discovered myself asleep on the sofa, snuggled under my blanket realising that poor Frodo had suddenly taken a turn for the worse too without me noticing!

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::Monday: I completed little Em crochet granny square blanket.

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::Tuesday: I wound all of my beautiful yarn for my next crochet projects.

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::Wednesday: I designed and transferred my blog to a brand spanking new home (here!) including a montage of all my bits and bobs and crochet, knitted and patchwork makes.

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::Thursday: I made yummy food. Gluten and dairy free brownies the recipe is on this post Good-for-my-tummy-brownies.

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::Friday: Hooray! I ventured outside again and filled my lungs with Cumbrian, oh-so-fresh-and tinglingly-cool air and paddled in the mud. It was glorious and so exhilarating to finally be outside again and to feel the air and the sun on my face, my cheeks glowed and it did make my nose run rather a lot (tissues were definitely needed). But my lungs did thank me for the pleasure of new air with a sound sleep and virtually no coughing! No, not much at all!

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::Saturday: I went outside again to the market in the wonderful town of Keswick and in my basket I bought…

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…some lovely fresh beetroot, a beautiful watermelon, a deliciously scented bunch of parsley and some vintage-styly cup cake cases. Aren’t they adorable? I also visited the Cafe26 and had… lemon drizzle cake with blueberries and a lovely Americano Coffee! (Can you see my beautiful crocheted neck warmer cowl- I’m wearing it right now as I write, it really does keep me so snug – I got that finished too but that’s for another post).

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It just shows how sometimes your body will let you know when it really has had enough and it needs you to Stop, take a moment and sit back and recover. I’m getting better at reading the signs that my body has had enough, this time however I didn’t take heed, I thought I could win through and keep going, half term was looming, it would be fine. Clearly not.

So it is with renewed lungs, recharged batteries and faith in my resolve that I return, excitedly and very welcomed, back to my class and job as Deputy head in school. It is a very demanding job, in reality it isn’t 9-3.30 as anyone who knows or lives with a teacher will know. I will try my best to ‘take it steady’ next week, as the asthma nurse has recommended. But I am feeling better and longing to be going outside again.

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