::Food fest at our house::

I love summer food. A food fest. Salad, coleslaw, especially red cabbage coleslaw, and lots and lots of lovely juicy fruit salads. Then there are the savoury salads, oh my! Avocado, walnut and peach – yum yum. Feeling inspired to try a new salad courtesy of my blogland friend Loopy, I decided to team it with some homemade pizzas too. Here is the post that set me off on this food fest at our house extravaganza.

20140805_185434Look I made it- however I didn’t have pumpkin seeds so I used toasted walnut pieces instead and I used cider vinegar (not as sweet or sugary). It was yummy. Hmmm… but what to have with it? A good fest needs to have … more food!  So I started some gluten free bread in the bread maker – I know cheating but I was busy packing for my holiday and writing this post!

I used 450g of gluten free bread flour,  270ml of warm water, pinch of salt, 1 yeast sachet, 1 teaspoon of sugar, knob of butter and that was it.

If not using a bread maker then mix and combine, and once mixed put in a warm bowl and cover with cling film for about 1 1/2 hours. then knead it until soft and forgiving. I used it to make two bases by rolling it out. I covered two large baking trays and then left them for about 15 mins whilst I did the rest.

20140805_184047I fried off some red onion and some portobello mushrooms which were not going to last a three week holiday, no they weren’t. Added garlic to some chopped tomatoes and whizzed them up to make a tomato sauce for the base.

20140805_184100This one had the tomato base, the onion and mushroom mixture, olives, and some ricotta cheese blobs. I added the rest of the grated cheddar towards the end.20140805_191900Then I made one for the boys with plain pepperoni, ham and cheddar- they don’t do olives and ricotta!20140805_190335

It was all so very delicious and food fest like. So a blogland friends post about her well-being and recipes turned into a food fest at our house! Oh how lovely it all was, and there is even a bit left over for lunch tomorrow. Hmmm… what to have then- I’ll be checking with Loopy to see if she has anymore ideas!

 

::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?

granny square blanket mixture43

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.

Cherrybomb

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.

Debbie 1

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 •∆•

January_2013x_original copy

•∆• 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