Monday, 28 May 2012

My Weekend....

......Was an extremely lazy one.


It started in the most perfect way.....

A lounge in bed whilst the sun shone and the birds chirped. A cuppa in one hand, a hook in the other and my favourite weekend morning tracks played. A bit of quiet time, then a bounce on the bed, pillow fight and snuggle time with all the Bears. P-E-R-F-E-C-T


After finally getting up, I went from the bedroom, to the garden.....and pretty much stayed there all weekend. 

After having, what seems like months, of wind and rain, to pass up the opportunity of garden lounging in fine weather would have been criminal!


I worked on a bit of this and a bit of that.....


I got to enjoy the Evening Sun blanket in the evening sun. It was delicious to wrap in it and read stories with Baby Bear. It was everything I had dreamed about when making the blanket......and more......

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....and on Sunday........I made a girl den for myself.


Having boys, I have made a lot of boy dens in my time.


On Sunday, I fancied a little girly retreat where I could read my books, and just get away from it all. Now, having a 2ft by 2ft garden, means it's pretty hard to escape.....but, the elder Bears were doing their own thing (building ant and worm farms with their friends), and Baby Bear came and went as the fancy took him. Grand Prix meant Mr H was occupied, so it was pretty much me to myself.

During the day cordial was sipped, fruit was eaten, books were read and bubbles were blown......and as the evening drew in, lanterns were switched on and wine was opened. It really was a lovely little escape. Who needs luxury holidays when a blanket and a few cheap lanterns can do it for you!!!!!

So, a lovely restful weekend was had. I have a ton of cleaning to do today though, so no rest for the wicked!

I hope you all had a good weekend. I would love to hear what you got up to. Restful of jam packed?

Thank you for all your messages on my last post. A lot of you agreed about the trainer issues! It's great to hear so many of you walk a lot. It was uplifting to hear actually. Sometimes when you think you are the only one doing it, you sort of feel like why should you bother. I know it must be doing me good, and hopefully I will start to feel it soon! Annie, you made a good point, I shall look into it! It was also nice to hear that a lot of you felt like I do about magazines. It just seems to have got to a point where the real content is only 10 pages when the whole magazine is 100. And, I think it's clear that we ALL dream of a simpler life. Blogging, for myself and i'm sure for many, has made me appreciate all the little things in life. The little things that often get so easily missed, but that can have a wonderful effect on the mind and soul. So I am thankful for blogging, and all you guys that make it just so much fun. You are all so truly awesome.

Okay, enough gushing, I have beds to strip, wash loads to put on and I REALLY need to find out where I put my hoover.........................

xxx



Friday, 25 May 2012

In Search of a Simple Life......



.......I guess that has always been my dream, but lately, it has been consuming many of my thoughts.



We are all so caught up in the fast paced, hi tech life. It's a hard thing to get off of once you are on it.

Computers wired up to the world 24/7

Phones that are 'all can do'

Televisions that have a million channels

A pressure to achieve everything, be everything, have everything, do everything



My eldest does most of his homework on his schools' interactive website. All school information is either emailed or texted these days. It's a hard thing to try and walk away from......well when you have young kids anyway.



I often dream of living somewhere fairly remote....no tv....just a simple little radio to keep me up to date with the world. A laptop to fire up every now and then should I need to do something....but one so old that it doesn't make me want to be on it.



It's still a dream....and probably only ever will be, but I have been trying this past year to strip things back a bit, and make a start on making life a little simpler.

Having always been a house mag fiend, and a person that would buy quite a few every month, I found I started to get quite unenthused with them. I noticed that as their prices went up, so did their advert quantities, and their main content became quite limp and unsatisfactory. I realised that it was becoming a complete waste of money. I disliked the fake room set ups, the pages that insisted you must have this new fangled item for your home.

I found that far from being inspirational, they started to make me 'despise' my house. They made me want something completely different, that, if I thought about it hard enough, I didn't actually want. They weren't giving me ideas to pretty up my house, it was like I was being drip fed an idea of what a good house should be, and mine was never going to match up to it. I didn't like that much. So I stopped buying them. I would rather get books that inspire me to build on what I already love rather than having something just because it's the 'in' thing. I now only get Mollie Makes, and if another one takes my fancy one month and i've felt i've deserved it, then I will get it. I bought a Country Living on Mother's Day for myself, and that was my extra luxury mag buy in a year. I figure, for the price of most monthly mags now, you could get a really nice home book from Amazon.

However.....I did treat myself last week. I had been holding off, but vouchers of several sorts allowed me to be a little extravagant. Well for me, anyway.

I bought ............


I spied it the moment it hit the stands a while back, but resisted getting it because I didn't think I needed any more crafty distractions. My mum does embroidery and cross stitch. I dabbled in it briefly when I made a Tilda pillow a couple of years back. I did enjoy it, but then I found Crochet, and there has been little time and space for anything else since. I saw my mum a few weeks ago who had started work on a new cross stitch. A big picture that I loved. My mum totally inspired me, so I went back to the shops and picked up a copy. These pages caught my eye.....


pretty little teacups....


There are lots of Jubilee inspired makes, and although, the Jubilee bug hasn't really hit me, I do love this picture of shelf simplicity.


Bright and colourful....


Pretty floral.....


I also bought this. It has a rather extravagant price tag of £9.99. It is basically one very thick magazine. However, it's like 20 Country Living magazines rolled into one....Without ANY adverts! It's like a Country Living home book. Pretty inspirational homes, taken from many issues, real, relaxed, simple country living. Much more 'me'.


I also picked up a Homespun Style and the second Primrose Bakery Book. These have been my reading these past few weeks and I cannot get enough. I want to turn off all the gadgets and just make and bake. And when I get a few spare moments, I want to hang out pretty washing when the sun does begin to shine and go for long walks to get the fresh air deep into my lungs.


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This brings me on to my other effort to strive for more simple living......and the reason for my tiredness! Sorry to disappoint ladies, I am not up the duff! I really should proof read before I hit the publish button. It didn't occur to me that that is what you'd all think!

I also decided at Christmas that I needed to up my fitness. I needed to walk more. Not only that, but I had been having a grey cloud hanging above my head for a while and felt like I needed the fresh air to help clear it.



At the beginning of January, I started walking the boys to school every morning. We live at the top of a big, steep hill. It has always been a bit of a pain. When the elder Bears were small, trying to lug a double buggy up it was a killer. The pavements are all on a slope too, making it a virtually impossible task. Now that there was no buggy to push and Baby Bear was at an age where he could tackle the walk himself (no 'carry me i'm tired' whining), I thought it could be done. I agreed with the Bears that we would walk to school and I would collect them in the car at the end of the day. They seemed okay with that, and my plan was to get into a routine for a while and then introduce walking back too.

I have never been without a car, but I started to feel that with all the walking I was doing, I could do without mine. I was hardly using it during the week either, so I thought it would make sense. Mr H wasn't so keen on the idea. He kept telling me I would regret it, but I thought all the time it was there, I had the opportunity to be 'lazy'. Other people do it.......why can't I? So last month I stopped using my car. I walk everywhere now. And BOY have I NOT got used to it! I thought having done a lot of walking in the run up to having to do it all the time would have prepared me well! NOPE. I have been dead on my feet. A big unnatractive rain mac and wind blown hair have made up my days these past few weeks. And after 2 weeks I realised that I needed sensible footwear. I walk the Bears down the hill to school in the mornings, then when they are all dropped off, on go the headphones and I power walk back up the hill to get the heart rate really going. I walk fast generally, but I have been really pushing it back up the hill. I wont run though. We don't get on well. I soon realised my beloved boots were not up to the task, and my poor aching feet begged me for sensible footwear. Sensible comes in trainer form, and I LOATHE trainers. I really really do. Anyone who knows me well, knows just how much I LOATHE them. My sister-in-law saw me in them and almost keeled over! I have never, ever wanted to own a pair for general everyday use. If you are sporty or a 'walkie' then fine, they are justified, but for everyday use, they just make me shudder and think of shell suits. I knew I had to get a pair and searched around to find the most comfortable pair of trainers that looked the least like trainers. I ended up with some proper trainers by converse. They are comfy and my feet are happy, but I still feel all bloke-i-fied. And it doesn't matter how girly I am underneath it all, I still feel like a bloke, and I am NOT appreciating my loss of femininity! At least with the sun finally shining this week I have binned the mac, my hair looks semi decent and I have had a few flip flop moments. Far more me.

I am also finding that I have a total lack of patience for pavement dawdlers. Why does everyone walk at a snails pace and take up the whole pavement? They also sway! Does anyone else get irritated by that? You go to move past them down one side and they sway towards it, so you go to move the other side to get past and they sway back? Geez, it does ones head in!

Also, my calves kill, I have shin splints, my back aches (from me being an idiot and thinking I could get away with carrying 18 pints of milk (yes we get through a lot of milk a week, often more than that) and a huge pack of chicken for a casserole in my rucksack back up the hill one morning! I now have to take my trusty granny trolley with me should I need to visit the store for cupboard essentials on my way home! Peachy.). I also, foolishly, decided on a whim this morning on my walk back that I needed ice today, and we had run out. So big bags of ice and fruit juice was lugged up the hill in my little ruck sack. I will pay for that later!



I was doing really well on the weight loss front having lost a stone from christmas to the middle of march. In these last few weeks I seem to have put more on than has come off. I try to tell myself that muscle is heavier than fat, however, the amount of sugar and stodge I have been craving recently (see last post) is telling me otherwise! So do I feel fitter? NO I DON'T. I hope it is having some sort of positive effect though. I'm too stubborn to tell Mr H perhaps it was one of my less thought out ideas! The walking does make me feel much sunnier inside though, even when the weather is so dull and grey. Be strong Vanessa.....be strong! Hopefully the warmth that we have been having this week will help.

So, that is why I am tired. I am walking EVERYWHERE!

My current version of the Simpler life is one I am going to have to get used to. But i'm sure I will. I just need to give it time and persevere!



I hope the weather has been kind to you wherever you are. We have welcomed sunshine and warmth this week in the UK and it has been bliss (if not going from one extreme to the other)!

Right....the heat is already getting to me.....and would you believe it.....after my last post with the wasps nest, I have realised that some honey bees have decided to make a nest, in a gap between some tiles by my back door. That means that with all the doors and windows open, I am seeing a lot of these little dudes in the house. I don't mind honey bees. in fact I like them a lot. We have a lot in our garden, and they are not naturally aggressive, unless they are defending a hive. So will just have to nip that one in the bud.....sorry little honey bees.

Have a super duper weekend all!

xxx


✴✴✴Oh, and I just wanted to say.....sorry for the annoying sign in when you leave a comment. I hate the new word verification so I took it off but was then inundated with spam and had to put it back on again. What a pain!


✴✴✴Oh and also, many asked where you could get the bits featured in the last post. The biscuits came from M&S food hall and the Bonne Maman yoghurts and Caramel spread came from Waitrose. 



Wednesday, 23 May 2012

New discoveries.......

.....of the very nice kind.....


...mini strawberry and vanilla wafers....


...caramel wafers...


...Bonne Maman Yoghurts...


...and Bonne Maman Caramel spread...


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...and now, for the not quite so nice discovery.....


Hunting in my little shed the other day, I came across this.



I had disturbed Queenie wasp and she wasn't a happy bunny ....ahem....waspie

The little beginnings of her nest were removed. Phew. I always know something is up when I see one constantly hanging around the house. We have rid ourselves of a few in recent years. They have taken a liking to our little shed. 



It gave me the ebbeee jeebies as she had laid her little babies in each cell. But it was just so fascinating to look at. So incredibly delicate. The cells were perfect hexagons. I did feel a bit bad for her, but not enough to keep it there!


The sun is shining.....hip hip hooray! 

Big smiles, happy days all....

xxx





Monday, 21 May 2012

This past week.....

Morning....



Did you have a nice weekend?.....

....a good week before that?

I have been tired. I'll explain why in a later post, but last week was a week where I was a muppet. Plain and simple. I just couldn't get my act together with anything. I forgot a lot. I wrote things down wrong...............wrong days and wrong times. It was clear from Monday morning that the week would be one that wasn't going to go particularly well. I think I needed to just get through last week and then move on! Friday morning I got things totally wrong and spent an hour repeating to myself what an idiot I was. When I picked Baby Bear up from school, the first thing he did when he came out was ask me if I had a good day, tell me that "by the way, I wasn't an idiot" and that I was "lovely". Awwwww bless him. He said he had been thinking about it all day at school, and needed to tell me that! I adore my little shadow. 

This week I plan to be better organised. I have actually written down a plan for the week. I have so much to get done, it makes my head hurt a little.

So, today will be a brief post.

I just wanted to pop in and say hello.....and thank you. Hello to any regular readers and hello to any new readers who have stumbled upon my little patch of bloggy space. I am pants with catching up with everyone at the moment....so many apologies. I don't know where this year has gone so far. It's whizzing by at an alarming rate and I don't seem to be achieving half as much as I had planned too. Again, better organisation is needed me thinks. And Thank you, for sticking with me, and reading me, when I am being so very scatty. I appreciate so much that many of you manage to take precious time out of your day to leave a message. I read every one. I wish  I had the time at the moment to respond to everyone. I am trying so hard to keep up, but, I just keep failing. So A BIG heartfelt sorry.



I have been popping my head in on Instagram. Anyone on there will know that it is the satisfying solution when there is no time for blogging. So the pics here on this post, are just some of the goings on these past couple of weeks, in my little world, that have been posted on instagram. Apologies to any who have seen these before.

I do hope that you all have a gorgeous week, and I also hope to be able to find a few minutes to be able to swing by and say hello!

Cheerio for now.....

xxx

Thursday, 17 May 2012

A short and simple Ta Dah!


Yes, I do believe I am getting a little addiction for these. 

I have a few....

......I certainly don't need any more.....


......but I picked up some lovely mohair yarn. A complete an utter bargain. Too good to be true. So this shawl was borne.



Quick and easy to make in a few evenings....



and all for £2!

A nice little bargain if you ask me!

Have the most beautiful of weekends.....

xxx

Edited to add: I forgot to put a link to the pattern on this post. I have posted it on my Ravelry projects list but if you are not on Ravelry and would like the pattern, just click here. Click on where it says the pattern is available for free and it will take you to the site where you can download the PDF. The pattern is in Japanese, but it has a good pictoral diagram that is fairly easy to understand! Hope you find this helpful!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Circus Patchwork Blanket Ta-dah.......

So.......

.....the reason for my absence......



.....was that, in amongst all the daily chores that seem to ALWAYS be getting GREATER and GREATER.....

.....I have been trying to finish my little blanket for Baby Bear.



It's funny.....I started this last year. I put it down and had no inclination to start it up again. I have a little notebook that I write down the important information on the projects that I am doing. I found, because of this project, and others, that I would start something on a complete whim and then put it down for a long time. When I went to pick it up again, I would forget which size hook I was using, what the pattern was (if i'd just made it up from my head), and what specific yarn colours and brand I was using. I think this is what kept me away from it for so long. I did remember the hook size, but i'd totally forgotten how i'd put it together and was just so lazy to have to deconstruct one to find out all over again. (Seriously, I should have spent a few minutes looking up hexagon patterns on the net as it would have been far quicker and easier! Sometimes I just seem to go the REALLY LONG way round to achieving something!)




Going away and discovering my 'inspiration' for it again, thrust it back into the limelight. As I worked on it, I started to get really obsessed with getting it finished as quickly as possible. Baby Bear decided he REALLY liked it and wanted it on his bed ASAP, so I needed to put everything else aside and just concentrate on it. By the time it came to putting the border on, I was like a woman posessed. I had so many ideas I wanted to try.

So.....here it is.....the finished article.......


The Circus Patchwork Crochet Blanket






I LOVE it. I TRULY love it. And Baby Bear gave it the thumbs up too! Phew! It has been well used.......and abused! The pictures I took were hurridly taken whilst there was a brief rain respite, and the sun sheepishly poked his head out of the grey clouds. But it was really windy and it was very hard to keep the thing from blowing everywhere. I also had to prise it from Baby Bear to get some shots. So please forgive the ruffled-ness of it. It did lie flat and look decent when I had finished it. But, so what. It was made to be used and abused by a five year old!



Okay.......so.......I know that some of you have wanted the pattern and/or a tutorial. Well, I have said on many occasion, that i'm pretty pants at that sort of thing. I make it WAY too complicated and get myself in a muddle. You know, this was a pretty standard hexagon, and I was sure that I could find something that had already been done online to point you in the direction of.



So......after a search.....what did I come to? Well, the very lovely Lucy of Attic24!  I'm laughing! I should have visited Lucy right from the very beginning! Her hexagon is very similar to the one I used. The difference being these little ones:



I used a 3mm hook to make my hexagons very tight. I wanted a tighter, thicker look to a block this time round. I have found that vintage crochet blankets seem, more often than not, to be quite compact and crocheted on smaller hooks. This is what I was aiming for.

In round 4 - instead of doing 3 chains and then single crocheting in every cluster space, I alternated with 3 chains and then 5 chains. The 5 chains became the corners of the hexagon in round 5.

In round 5 - I did 4 UK TR per cluster and not 3 as Lucy did. This just made it more compact.

So, that was my version, but I would highly recommend Lucy's pattern, as it is wonderfully written and so easy to follow.

Now, I also had the idea that I wanted to have all the sides to be squared off. I wanted a border, and for what I had in mind, the sides HAD to be straight. This meant I had to learn how to make a half hexagon for two sides and a sort of hexagon 'tip' for the other two sides.



Wow, my brain had to work hard! The half hexagon was okay. It was just a case of cutting the pattern in half, allowing for uk trebles to join your blocks to each other. After working a few, I sort of got what I was doing, but I think some varied ever so slightly!!!!!! The hexagon tips needed slightly more brain thought. I just looked at the hexagon tips to work out what stitches I needed, then worked it up. It was trial and error really, and as I working on a small hook with a lot of stitches crammed in together, it took a bit of time to be happy with the result.



A part of me REALLY wanted to go to town with the border. The patchwork colours were bright and eclectic. A bit mad really, and I thought about making a border equally as mad. But, common sense prevailed and I settled for a fairly colourful one, but one that didn't distract from the bright hexagons.

I loved this blanket for the fact that there was a lot of colour, yet there were minimal ends to sew in. I am used to having hundreds of the little blighters to sew in, but this was super quick for me. The only one thing that seemed to bother me a little bit, was that, because the the hexagons were full and half when doing the first row of my border, it made the stitches 'craggy' and not fluid. In my perfectionists eye, it bothered me, in my it's handmade and original eye, it was ok. So it's not a big issue, but that was my only gripe!



I used scraps of yarn to make this. That's why it is so eclectic! All dk and acrylic mixes in many brands.

So..... I managed to pull a patchwork blanket out of the bag.....and more importantly, Baby Bear has a huge love and affection for it. So job done! It looks lovely on his bed and I now have an idea burning to revamp something to sort of match with it, in an un-matchy kind of way! More on that when I get round to it!



It's not a blanket that is everyone's cup of tea. Mr H finds it a hard one to love! Good job it's not on our bed then! he he!



Right....I think I have waffled on for quite a bit.

I was working two other projects alongside this one, one of which is finished too. So when the weather gets a little better, I shall do a ta-dah for that also. I have a bit to go to get the third one done, but my enthusiasm has rocketed now this and the other one have been completed. Wow, maybe three ta-dahs in as many weeks!



Have a beautiful day all



xxx

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Grey Days..........



I am not loving these grey days. I don't mind the rain. I don't mind a shower, or even a complete downpour. I don't mind getting wet. I can even cope with cold.......but grey? That dull, lifeless, grey that seems to be encasing most of the UK at the moment is wearing thin. April....sunshine and showers. A lot of showers and not a lot of sunshine. Now come on. Life is so much more bearable when there is a little peeky bit of sun.  


So, to combat the grey, I have been hard at it in the house trying to cram a whole heap of stuff in. Once again I have been away from Blogland for far too long and seem to be terribly behind in keeping up with all of its comings and goings. This whole trying to balance things out with regards to real life and blog life is quite tricky. In retreating from Blogland a bit to try and get everything I need done in my day to day life, it seems it's harder to begin to find the time again to slot it in.


I finally finished my Circus Patchwork Blanket for Baby Bear, but the weather has been so awful, that taking any decent pics has been a no no. As soon as the sun shines I will take some and reveal the finished article. I have to say I adore it......and Baby Bear gave it the big thumbs up too. It has been well used already, and the warmth it has brought has been welcomed on chilly nights. I also finished a couple of other little projects too. Just things done on a whim, but they have proved handy also. When I get round to it, I will take some pics of those. Life just seems to be one big roller coaster at the moment. I cannot believe we are in May already. Where has the time gone? I need more hours, as i'm sure we all do!


So, today, just a brief hello. The day is grey and dull. All I want to be doing is having a crafty play about, but alas, house tidying calls after a lazy bank holiday weekend, and a washing pile that would scare the hardest of beings! Ah well.


Tootle pip my friends. 

I do hope that some sunshine comes your way in your day and it's a beautiful one.

xxx