::Liebster Award nomination- woohoo::

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I have been lucky enough to be nominated by Amanda at Amjaylou for a Leibster award. This is a fabulous idea; you can get to know a little bit about your favourite blogs and also to find new blogs. I love it!

So here are the answers to Amanda’s questions, some random facts about me – (steady now!) and my nominations for awards of blogs I love, love, love.

1. How many WIP’s do you have at the moment?
I currently have 3 wip’s that have actually been started, but many many more in my head! Cushion love, blanket love, and bunting for my new nephews bedroom is a must before christmas!

2. What are they?
I have my kaleidoscope blanket Cal from The Natural Dye Studio ( christmas present from my lovely Hubby) which is coming along nicely, but takes lots of 3mm hook size concentration!20140510_094442

My ripple blanket for Doris Caravan in style craft DK Attic24 pack – which is a great pick up and carry on project.CAM00359

My peruvian poncho in Cascade 220 – which is a joy at 5mm size chunky, fabulous colours and grows so quickly.20140526_094026

I’m currently catching up with the May section of my kaleidoscope blanket (yes I know we’re in June, hence the reason for catching up!)

3. Regarding days out what would be your idea of heaven?

I love to visit the seaside and collect shells, stones, sea-glass and just to breath in the salty fresh air. Lying on my back on a beautifully crocheted blanket, guessing the shapes of the clouds, with the warm sun an a gentle breeze. We live 20 mins away from the West Cumbria coast so it’s great on a Sunday morning to plod along the beach, collect the Sunday papers and sometimes have a cheeky ice-cream in the local shop!20140615_113954

4. What would be your idea of hell?
End to end football, cycling, rugby- or actually Golf. I cannot stand Golf! Having to go and watch it , a whole day or more of it (the TV is bad enough) would be absolutely awful! Yuck! Argh!

5. What book are you reading at the moment?
As a year 6 teacher, I am constantly looking for great inspiring rears for my class and to motivate my reluctant boy readers to get into a good book. I have just completed Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve ( it was fabulous) and I am currently reading The Knife of never letting go by Patrick Ness and I LoVe LoVe it. My favourite personal text favourites are Tess of the D’Urbervilles and anything else by Hardy. Carlos Luis Zafon’s The shadow of the Wind is a firm favourite as is The Book Thief.

mortal knife tess shadow thief

6. What is your favourite tipple? ( can include non-alcoholic!)

A Mojito Mocktail – complete with lime juice, elderflower cordial, soda and a secret non-alcoholic ingredient from a bistro I love in my nearby town.

7. What’s been the best holiday you’ve been on so far?
A few years ago we took the boys aged 15 and 11 to Barcelona- it was amazing. I had been before 20 years ago and desperately wanted my family to see this wonderful city. It didn’t disappoint and they all loved it too. The Sagrada Familia was still unfinished and just as spectacular as I remember. Gaudi has always been a design inspiration to me and I felt quite emotional revisiting these beautiful buildings, Parc Guell and the amazing mosaics. The boys were thrilled to visit the Football stadium. Later, we travelled by hire car to a quiet fishing village up the coast and holidayed there with the french and spanish holiday makers. It was wonderful. A close second was our family holiday in Rome and Pompeii last year. As you can see- I love architecture!

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8. What is your dream destination?
I really want to visit Sydney, Australia and walk along the harbour, visit the opera house and take in the sights before travelling up to Cairns to the rest Barrier reef. We’re hoping to go next year.

9. What would you put into Room 101?
Tin openers and garlic presses. They never last very long, always break down when you need them, and become worse than useless right at the wrong moment!

10. Do you have a favourite TV chef?
I don’t have one chef that I like in particular- they all get a bit samey after a while I feel. But I do absolutely love watching MasterChef- the normal ones not the celebrities or the chefs one. Also, I’m a real Saturday Morning Kitchen fan- I rarely miss it.

11. What is your all-time favourite cake?
It has to be a good old fashioned lemon cheesecake- it just can’t be beaten. My mum makes an amazing cheesecake with preserved lemons chopped up into the creamy mixture and it has chocolate digestives for the base. It is divine!! (Note to self- get the recipe from my mum!)

Now to the 11 random facts about myself.
1.I am a trained textile designer and worked as a textile designer for The Burton Group before my children were born.
2. I play the cello and all three descant, treble and tenor recorders.
3. I love tulips- very, very, very much.
4. My favourite chocolate is Green and Blacks 75% dark- closely followed by Lindt salted caramel.
5. I run- and completed The Cumbrian Run in 2011 a long 13.1 miles in 2hrs. Very proud.
6. I have raised just under £5000 for Cancer Research in the last 4 years.
7. I have cycled the Coast to Coast cycle route- 142 miles in 3 days.
8. I have been a teacher for 10 years and a deputy Head for 2 of them.
9. I am still best friends with my child hood best friend who I met when we were 12.
10. I drive a VW Beetle.
11. The first album I bought, aged 14 was hatful of Hollow by the Smiths- I still have it as a very treasured possession.

My chosen favourite blogs.

Loopy Freak with a list
Little Room of Rachel
Fox’s Lane
Little Red Squirrel
Little woollie
Lulu loves Crochet
Haken en Meer
Eclectic Gypsyland
Little Tin Bird
Betty and Annie
Poppy and Bliss

My 11 questions for them
1. When and why did you start to craft (crochet, knit, sew, make?)
2. What are your favourite colour combinations?
3. What have been the last 3 things you have made?
4. What would be your dream holiday destination and why?
5. What is your favourite food?
6. Who do you most admire – past or present?
7. Who would be at your dream dinner party?
8. What advice would you give your 10 year old self?
9. If you could live in any country which one would it be and why?
10. what would be your favourite film?
11. What will your next project (s) be?

I hope my nominees enjoy this as much as I have! Wishing you all the very best of weekends. xx

::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

:: My Crochet Blanket love ::

Crocheted blankets

It always  fills me with enormous pride and love when I finish a crochet blanket and can see it in all of it’s glory. I’m really quite good at visualising what my blankets will look like when they are completed, but it’s not the same as when they are there in front of you with all of the intricacies, colour combinations, pulling and tugging of ends, fiddly finger work and endless counting and stitchery combinations finally worked together for the reveal and Ta-Dah. I do so love the blankets I have completed so far on my rekindled crochet journey. I love that I have been able to give pleasure to others by passing them on. I love that I have been able to fire up the crochet passion in my young niece and her desire for making crochet granny square blankets for her dolls, and the maturity of her request for a grown up girl blanket for her newly decorated bedroom.

What could be better than passing on and gifting a beautifully made, personalised handmade crochet blanket to the next generation – a keep sake she will forever know as Aunty Karen’s crochet blanket? It fills me with HuGe amounts of blanket love.

So I decided to embark on a little trip down the last 8 months of Crochet Blanket Memory Lane. Would you like to come too?

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My first blanket ever ever…not from the last 8 months but made by me when I was 11. My next door neighbour’s 17 year old daughter Susan started me off with remnants of baby wool and any other bits I could find in my Mum’s and her Mum’s stash. I remember sitting there all fingers and thumbs but then suddenly getting all the way round and adding new colours, keeping going and then the joy as it grew and grew. I have kept this blanket safe and sound; it has cuddled both of my baby boys and then stayed draped lovingly on my bedroom chair to remind me of the stages of my life.

Then last year inspired by many crochet magazines on the shelf in the supermarket, something just struck a cord with me. I went to the wool shop and I bought some yarn. 18 delicious and amazing colours of King Cole pricewise – a budget DK acrylic- but great all the same. I had a vase of my favourite flowers, tulips on the kitchen table, so decided to use them as inspiration for the colours!

sunshine granny square blanket

I found Lucy at Attic24, who inspired me to try other patterns and combinations.There was the festival granny stripe blanket. I started this blanket at the Cambridge Folk festival last summer, our last family holiday before E went off to University.

festival granny stripe blanket

I made a blanket to give to E’s girlfriend for her 18th birthday, a keepsake gift. I love to give presents and one that is homemade with love is always something special I think. She loves Cath Kidston- this was Cath Kidston-esque.

Cath Kidston-esque lap blanket

Then there was the blanket I made for Little Em who requested a big girls blanket for her birthday. I’m really pleased with the retro feel of this blanket, the oatmeal colour sets of the bright and mute colours beautifully.

Little Em crochet granny square blanket

Currently I am working on an amazing project blanket; my lovely hubby got me a club blanket member ship for my Christmas present. I saw Amanda and The Natural Dye Studio projects at Yarndale. I totally and completely fell in love with her blankets and yarns. I did prompt J into the right direction and oh boy, it is beautifully wonderful. Here is where I am up to. I will keep you up to date with my Kaleidoscope Blanket on my Ravelry, Facebook and Flickr.

kaleidoscope club blanket

So how did you enjoy my little journey? I loved looking back at the blankets so far this year – I can’t wait to show you the rest of the projects I have planned, with my double Lucy packs of yarn from Deramores waiting patiently for  blanket or two! Happy hooking people!

::Poncho Love::

I have been so inspired by the many crocheted, colourful ponchos springing up everywhere, so snuggly warm and incredibly practical. Poncho's are the perfect cover up in chilly weather when you don't need a coat, and when made with wool, can be luxurious and beautiful.I have had a poncho for years, a beautiful soft angora/alpaca plain rib fern green one I bought in Monsoon years ago, but I really fancied making a new one- knitted or crocheted, I don't mind.

It started last winter when I spotted this one from Craftyred – check out the blog  here.

Poncho 1Of course Lucy @ Attic 24 has her finger on the pulse of must have items too, so she has designed and made herself a crochet beauty, see her blog post here.

Attic24A plethora of others that were also inspiring…

knitted from here on Zuhal'in's FB page.Poncho love

Vintage at Etsy.

Vintage etsy

This one from Cherrybombvintage77 here, has an amazing diagonal pattern going on, but I'm not loving the fringing.

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Of course ponchos are not a new thing, you only have to google crochet poncho to find a HUGE amount from the 70's and more recently in the last few years. And, Peru really has the poncho look covered!! Don't you think these Peruvian Mamas look amazing?

Peru poncho

Poncho mama

There are lots around for children with a peruvian influence – here at Littlebigones on Etsy

Poncho peru

I love the diagonal, yet again, and the colour combinations- still not liking the fringing!!

Now the patterns and shapes on this one I LOVE LOVE LOVE

Poncho-high-res1You can look at the other amazing images on here, mainly from a hippy market in Ibiza, but they are peruvian alpaca, so that's all fine.

Wth so many inspirational ponchos around, what does a girl do?

Like any textile designer knows, research is the key thing…First I looked at peruvian fabrics… for traditional colour combinations

Fabric

Fabric1

Fabric2Then searched for the shape that I wanted- without fringing!!

Poncho wildeones

Essentially just a square with a hole in it to pop your head through- no fancy ties or fringing for me, maybe a bit of bobble edging…Hmmm. This one from Wildeones did the trick… check it out here, you can buy it for £399.99 if you like!!

Maybe not.

I searched for yarns with the colours that I wanted, nothing to bright just in case I decided I might wear it outside, and decided on a truly British yarn to add a twist to this traditionally alpaca garment – British Blue Faced Leicester yarn!! Genius!! You can find it here at Deramores or here at Purlcityyarns.

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I knew this would be the yarn, so soft and lovely and not at all hairy like I imagined. There is a beautiful red, not in the picture, which I think will form the basis of my design. Now all that's left is to write up the pattern and do the brain aching maths to start me off. Another project on the go very, very soon. Watch this space!!

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Colourful MixTures

::Ta-dah!! Sunny festival granny stripe crochet blanket::
:: Tulips::

::2013: Year end review: part one::

So here it is… my year end review part one and what a rollercoaster of a year it was too, both personally and professionally. It is always sentimental and lovely to look back over the year – normally looking back is a tricky place to go, as inevitably there may be regrets and wonderings about the path that was not taken.

However I can honestly say I haven't anything to regret, only lovely, happy family memories and times spent with my lovely bunch o 'boys' before our family entered a new chapter. With E leaving home for University and Little J beginning his GCSE's in September, and my work place changes, we have weathered the changes remarkably well and are very much intact. 

Here it is in pictures; some happy reminders of times spent with family and some of blossoming projects, blossoming confidence and blossoming gardens! Enjoy :O)

•∆• January •∆•

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•∆• February •∆•

February 2013

Very wet, lots of snow and then the glorious fire of the garden in full flame!

•∆• March •∆•

March 2013

Mother's day, family walks, snow and then the gloriousness of beautiful daffodils!

•∆• April •∆•

April 2013

E's 18th Birthday, walks at Glaramara and Loweswater, picnic's in the car, music exams and the beautiful practising that went with it, and the ever so sleepy awakening garden.

•∆• May

May 2013

The beginnings of a Summer Sunshine granny square Blanket and the tiny idea for a personal blog, explorations, cake and new kittens arrived in the middle of the night, behind the bath of all places!! Oh so cute.

•∆• June

June 2013

Tickets for The Cambridge Folk Festival arrive, more cake (another family birthday) crocheting projects and growing mischievious kittens.

From Little J's birthday at the start of the year (2nd of January!!) all the way to Christmas and family times together, it has been an amazing year full of delights, trials and tribulations.

So far so good… more tomorrow.

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More mix-tures!

-Garden developments, sunshine blanket and rainbow colours-
- Whilst the weather…-
Tickets for 50th Cambridge Folk Festival go on sale

::Autumn wreath – Ta-Dah!!!::

I cannot contain my EXCITEMENT, I’m so so so so so so EXCITED!! (I think I might burst).

I hope you’re ready? All will be revealed very, very, very soon. Please be patient – don’t spoil the surprise.

The journey for this wreath has been AmAzInG!!

_DSC0004It’s my very very first wreath and I’m so so so so so extraordinarily thrilled, excited and exstatic to be sharing this, I can’t begin to tell you. It is such a huge undertaking for me with all of the other commitments I have with school, family being a mum and seeing my friends I really did think I would be finding myself snowed under very quickly. BUT, what deep joy and escapism this project has turned out to be.

It all started with this photograph and colour pallette.

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I was feeling very brave when I set out on this project with so many wreaths that began to appear on Google of the stunning Fall photos from America and Canada. This one caught my eye immediately and I shared it on my Facebook on 15th September this year.

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I had also been very inspired by Lucy @Attic24 with her beautiful May flower, Easter and Christmas wreaths. I decided to make my Autumn wreath just before I went to Yarndale where I knew I would see and gather bits of inspirational ideas and maybe even some delicious yarns.

I also wanted to use the glorious countryside around my beautiful Lake District Landscape home as my inspiration, the colour combinations, textures, variety and jaw-dropping beauty of the incandescent light some days.

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Rememeber the Autumn walk blog here? Then there was the visit to Shipley, Skipton and the Dales for autun inspiration here.

Then just when I needed a little bit of something to add some personality to my wreath ideas looked what came through the letter box? Simply Crochet magazine  provided leaf patterns, and the most adorable lttle Hetty hedgehog!! (I think she looks like a Hetty!!)

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So ok, back on track. Don’t get distracted now! The yarn and the colours.

Remember how I started this project with my little collection of ideas. Well I say little, I had HUNDREDS of ideas all jostling for attention and waiting for me to get organised. 

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A lazy saturday morning breakfast before hitting the great outdoors for inspiration.

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The gathering of lovely, juicy little treasures. (With their smart little hats on ready for the drop from the tree).

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Then my new book for flowery, leafy inspiration and tuition.

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And we’re off!!!

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Then the colour organising began.

I crocheted this wreath using a pallette of rich and vibrant autumnal colours and took a little bit of artistic licence in some of the choices, as I wanted it to be a bit zingy but also true to the season. I ordered Stylecraft Special DK yarn in bright pink, teal, emperor, copper, khaki, meadow, walnut, aster, claret and graphite from The Wool Warehouse for a 4mm hook and I used a 35cm half round wreath.

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I added a little eggy yellow stash yarn and a few other olive greens and browns from my odds and ends and off we go again!!

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It really began to burst with life very, very quickly and that spurred me on to keep going. The colour changes were really quite random and I deliberatly liked that it was organic and grew with a mind of it’s own.

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With all of my other little items coming along beautifully too, it was looking sooooooooo lovely!! I just had to get a snap! The fern leaves, marigold and oak leaves are from 100 flowers to knit and crochet – here! 

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Toadstools I found a little pattern for on the good old internet, and then I made a little pumpkin inspired by this brilliant  blog

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Then the making up. It is a bit like the reverse of opening up your christmas presents as you begin to put it together. You have to be rEaLlY careful not to rush in your excitement and glee to see the end result!

Hang on a minute… I’m not showing it to you yet!! I’m relishing every moment of this reveal. 

Now for the little parts…

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They were beginning to mount up and I used lots of different shaps and colours so that I could get that autumnal range of beautiful colours. Do you like it so far? I LOve LOve LOve it and I lOve the part when it starts to take shape and you can begin to see how the picture in your head, starts to turn into something tangible and maybe even WORKS!!! Oh my goodness it was exciting.!!

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However it needed something sparkly and pretty amongst all of the brown, khaki and deep red. Ah HA!!! beautiful beaded blackberries – juicy and glisteningly delectable. I fiddled about for a bit with a kind of tiny weeny ball pattern and they came out fabulously – don’t you think?

More leaves, gerberas, marigolds, michealmas daisies (from 100 flowers to knit and crochet – see above) and some twirly bits (just chain a length and then 2trb into each one. They will curl and spiral all by themselves.)

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Are you ready? Nearly there…

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Putting it all together and it’s starting to emerge.

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Adding a few buttons from Grandma’s old button tin. (You didn’t peek to much I hope…)

Then…

Are you ready?????? You can scroll down now

TA-DAH!!!!!!!!

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So here it is, my Autumn Wreath in all it’s delicious, happy, scrumptious glory. I am bursting with pride at this project and how I persevered and finished such a mammoth task! 

And for desert, here are all of the little bits that make up the whole.

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The beautful blackberries and  shades of bright pink help to lift the autumnal colours. I love it here on the Hall wall…

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The beautiful and adorable Hetty hedgehog having a little SNUFFLE at the extra blackberries at the bottom of the wreath. I love love love her so much!

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The finished wreath on the kitchen table – to give you another background colour.  Yes I was standing on the chair!! 

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Here it is sitting in the hall, you can see the lovely stripy sides!

I am so incredibly happy happy, happy at this lovely wreath and soooooo proud that I made it. I feel like I really achieved what I set out to make and it surpassed all of my expectations. 

Thank you all for following it’s progress on my blog. Now to recover from the mammoth photo taking and trying to write sensibly instead of babbling with happiness. 

Thank you Karen. :O)xx

Other marvellous mixtures @Mix-Ture43

:: Ta-Dah!! Sunshine Granny Square Blanket::
::Ta-Dah!! Meet little Owl::
::Ta-Dah!!!!! Flower Burst cushion ::
::Autumn walk inspiration::

::Happy, Homemade, Homegrown, Happy::

•Happy number 1•

Happy… I found an amazing picture on Ravelry on Delquilters profile, of a lampshade that she has crocheted, with an amazing selection of yarn colours,and I knew I just HAVE to make one too.

Standard_lamp_001_mediumIt gives off such a beautiful light when lit and looks absolutley stunningly, beautifully, gorgeous!!

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Isn't it fantastic!! Oh yes I hear you cry – amazingly so. :o)x

So off to the charity shop I went and I got a retro lampshade, crying out to me, yes talking to me… and so I made it HAPPY and me HAPPY and I bought it and he's ready for his new crochet covering!! (Well once I've taken off his old clothes!)


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•Homemade•

Homemade coleslaw for tea – mmm, mmm, mmm! I lurve coleslaw! Shredded white cabbage, grated carrot, spring onion, mayonnaise, (not too much!), chopped apple and pumpkin seeds! Delicious and so simple to make. I remember as a girl having lovely homemade bread, my mum used to make a batch every week, fresh yorkshire ham off the bone (from the local deli) and homemade coleslaw for a cheeky Saturday lunch whilst my Dad and brother went to watch the local football team. The smell of homemade bread, crisp fresh coleslaw and a glass of homemade lemonade, couldn't be beaten and has transported me back to being about 8 years old. Ooooh, I know what I'm going to make tomorrow, YES you guessed, gluten-free bread! Hmmmm, wonder if it will be quite the same?

Now to get the other bits ready for dinner and dig up HoMeGrOwN.


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•Homegrown•

Homegrown new potatoes, you just cannot beat them!! Now I know not every potato wants to spend it's short but worthy life in an Ikea bag, but they make for great potato grow bags!! They sit really well on my paved garden area and homegrown is always better. Great recycling don't you think? Look!


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So fingers crossed there will be a reasonably good crop, having had all that sunshine but not much rain (especially whilst we were away on holiday). So here we go…


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Quite a lot of the happy  little lovelies for one small potato grow bag, some big, some tiny, but all delicious I'm sure.


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And my little potato family…


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and they are ready, all buttered up to go with the parma ham, mozzarella, melon, coleslaw and salad. Yum, yum.


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•Happy number 2•

Happy… I went to Impact Furniture Services, a great place that take away your unwanted but usable furniture and sell it or give it to people who need it, and I got myself a retro chair for my studio that I can upcycle.


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Once it has been sanded, it will get the same treatment as my first deco patching endeavour and be decopatched. Then it will get a new seat and it will look adorable! Have some lovely new Cath Kidston gingham check and some Cath Kidston Rosali fabric to use. Will keep you up to date!

So now that I've got my classroom looking lovely ready for Septembers new year 6's, I can spend a couple of days and a bank holiday weekend getting my studio sorted. It has been painted, furniture has been bought, roman blind kit has been purchased, fabric for said roman blind has been purchased and sorting and organising has been completed. Phew!!

On tomorrows list is:

1. make homemade bread and other lovely gluten-free baking.

2. go to deli for yorkshire ham on the bone!

3. have bread, ham and coleslaw sandwich for lunch – yum, yum!

4. begin to make blind for studio.

What a busy day, when combined with the usual household chores and jobs I need to do. I'll be settling down to some more of festival granny stripe blanket  I think, as it's probably feeling a little neglected!

Sorry it's a bit longer than I'd thought, but got a bit carried away with the bread nostalgia!! Bye for now. :)

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