Thursday, 31 May 2012

Packing for Portugal

We leave in the wee small hours for Cascais in Portugal tomorrow. A self contained holiday. On the beach, walking distance to everything and only minutes from the station. Lisbon is only 30 minutes away by train. It is Big J's 64th country....not so many for the rest of us.

I want time with my man, time with my girls, time for all of us and time to chill. A low key break.

Off to pack, not only clothes, but essentials like tea bags and coffee and soap powder.

Will keep you posted on what it looks like.

Have a jubiliant weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

William Morris live by

The decision was made to rid the conservatory of the ugly crochet WIP that would never (will never now) have a place in my home. A friend suggested felting it and making something useful like a bag. (Thanks K). But it had been festering there too long for me to see it with fresh eyes. So today it went, along with the remainder of the yarn to finish it, to a charity shop in town. Good call. Someone will at least want the yarn. That has to be a good thing. The lesson learnt from this is to really think about what to make and with what, and more importantly WHERE it will be used.
A William Morris moment really.

Sunday, 27 May 2012


While Big J has been away, some things around here have changed.

The biggest change being our bedroom. It changed from lilac walls, purple curtains and a formerly white carpet covered in stains, (predominantly tea/coffe, wine, foundation, eyeliner and the odd splodge of lippy - all the girls in the house get ready to face the world in this room each morning).  It was flat and lifeless like the before shot of a model's hair in a shampoo add! And if the truth be told, and truth is always best, it was a room originally decorated by Big J's former wife. It was once a lovely room, but it has seen its share of wear and tear. We moved into this house five years ago, about two months after she had passed away of a very aggressive form of cancer. It was very hard to make changes. This was Adam's home, and our return was to be part of his life. First and formost decorating was not on the agenda. It was about settling us all down together.

It has not been easy. It is still difficult at times. But the best thing is that I have gained a wonderful 'son', because I love him as my own, and Big J gained two daughters. I still dream about a day when Big J and I are able to be the couple over the parents, but not at the cost of rushing our three through their lives.

Then Big J was away for five long months. I am always upbeat about managing on my own, about coping and being independent. But I missed him. 

I changed the bedroom to this - a space for us: it is restful and fresh and new.

Glad my man is at home again.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

No secrets on Facebook

You can find out anything on Facebook, about people and what they are up to, mainly thanks to the fact that humans are generally interested in sharing info about themselves, solicited or otherwise.

Somethings are probably best not revealed on FB. New tattoos, piercings, being bad.... or relationship status changes. That one gets me. Tell the world before you tell your other half, then dump them by text!!

But some GREAT things are on FB. Little Ava Eloise for instance, crawling now, playing with her uncle (Big J) growing into a beautiful little girl.

And then there is the little comment on my Artist Sister's page,  which simply said 'Congratulations on the Sulman nomination'.

The 2012 Sulman Prize and she was a finalist!! That girl is brilliant. Janet Haslett is her name.

So happy I logged onto FB last night. Please look at her work.

Thank you.


Wednesday, 23 May 2012

All in a day

After the departure of the B Team - Han and I went and did some shopping at my all time favourite store  - yes everyone - ALDI.  I got a KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON mug (2 actually) for me to use at work and one for Big J. It might be more accurate to add SCREAMING at the bottom of mine... or DRINKING...or....GOING MAD, all would suit the job situation really well.

Then it was off to do 5 hours of moonlighting at the private hospital for my boss.....I do love a bit of extra work! (And despite what I say above, I love my day job).

Tonight was about undoing the recent chaos created around the house but before that, it seemed a good idea to hop on the bike for a quick mentally soothing, physically challenging sprint to Crawley Down and back. Good call.

The girls are both moody and cross, the place still looks like a tip. It is an odd vibe tonight. But I will crochet a row or two of Em's blanket and read a bit more of the book
White Woman on a Green Bicycle which was our last Book Club book and which, you can tell has not been finished yet.  It is great. It took about half the story to get me hooked and now it is hard to put down.

Men at work

A glorious early start to the day. Breakfast on the patio in the sun. Then it all kicked off, men in the house, banging, drilling, running in and out. At one point I was invited to inspect beneath a lifted floor board - yep - there were two pipes running under it. Was there a point to this, had the pipes been perforated? Fortunately no, and yes, I got the point.

A haitus now. The A Team has gone and we are now waiting for the B Team to arrive.

If you are reading this my love, from your hotel room in Hong Kong, you may be wondering what is going on. Hint...I am not having a spa fitted!!

Food wise, the slow cooker is doing its thing with beef and mushrooms in bulk.

The washing is flapping on the line and it feels like summer, it smells like summer, it even sounds like summer. Love, love, love this weather.

More to this space.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Bed time post

I am just about to slip off to bed after my tea is finished. Looking back on the day gives a real sense of satisfaction, loads of work done around the house and some parts of it are looking great....all part of the surprise for Big J's return. But little tidying. Do you get that? Hours of things like ironing, or gardening, or cleaning bathrooms and loos, but there is still a trail of bits and pieces on every surface in the house?  That will all be taken care of in the last minute whip round.

The girls helped as did Adam - he cut the grass for the first time this season. Oh, the smell of a freshly mown lawn - it takes me back to hot classrooms when the smell was a promise of playtime outside and childhood summers in Ireland .
I did the edges for fear that plants rather than weeds would be sliced in two - happens a lot round here! and Em raked up. Han cooked some rice for dinner and tidied the kitchen, she also worked at the plant nursery this morning, so we were all busy. It was a good day.

The blanket is looking a bit better, sort of coming into its own. It feels nice and I actually fell asleep for about 10 minutes with it on my legs this afternoon, mid an old granny.

Off to get my rest and beauty sleep.

Being hard on oneself

Feeling a bit frustrated with myself over the Em blanket. It just took place, with no planning (very me)and now the stripes, if they continue as they are currently spaced, will make it too big, so I have adjusted the size of the navy between the colours for the top half of the thing, but just worry that it will look like an after thought. So I am frustrated that I did not plan it better.

My heart and soul goes into projects like this and it is hard for it not work out the way it began.

It will be going up here and on Ravelry when done and comments would be welcome, and better still some ideas for planning a blanket - please!!

Saturday, 19 May 2012


There was a fox cub in the garden this morning, all new and fluffy, and looking rather lost. I wanted the girls to see it but by the time we had all gathered to look it was gone. It was a nice start to the day.

I am feeling delicate because last night there were drinks at the local and on an empty tum too. Yes, yes, self inflicted, but it was a hoot.

Now I have to shake off that fuzzy tongue feeling and get some jobs done around here. My big man is coming home next week and I want him to get off that plane and have that 'it's great to be home feeling', which he may struggle with today with the state of things!!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Drawing the line with WIPs and UFOs

What do you all do with those WIPs that lurk in cupboards, bags and baskets that you just KNOW are destined to remain there as a WIP or more accurately an Un-Finished Object?  - The difference between WIP and UFO is that there is some hope for the WIP; UFOs in my book remain that way.

I have one, it sits there looking at me every time I pop into the conservatory. (I have more than one, but the two biggies are waiting for me to get to them and one day I will, because one day, lets face it, I might WANT to). But this is an 'early days of crochet' job - in fact there are two...

They both emerged when I was back in Australia last year and I worked my fingers to the bone churning out granny squares and hexagons and now they have completely lost their appeal. But in my defence, I had no idea about colour. Those of you who read my blog have heard this mentioned before. I was uncomfortable with choosing shades and even dragged my artist sister to the yarn shop to help. She is one of those amazingly serene individuals who will not shriek:

"You've got to be kidding me, those colours are UGLY. No woman, NO".

She has a freaky but enviable ability to let me blunder into my mistakes with a sage like patience and thankfully, does not say
"I hated that colour scheme but couldn't tell you" after I come to the realisation that they are NOT ME (or anyone else who lived through the 70's.....they really touch a nerve).

Part of me wants to donate them with the bits of yarn to finish them, to charity. But another part of me feels that that is akin to getting rid of a puppy after Christmas when it starts peeing on the carpet and chewing shoes. GUITLY. Frogging? Then donating the yarn to charity?

It is all very hard because wasting money, yarn and time is not good, but just letting  it sit there not being used is worse.

What do you do?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A crochet preview

I have been sitting up late working on this:

A blanket for Em, using up left over yarns. But of course to get the range of colours, one or two new balls did have to be purchased. But now Han wants one and it looks as though they too will get used up in turn!!
It is more than half done, but is wide and it takes a while to do a row. But I am determined to get it finished as soon as I can.

This week my little crock pot (or slow cooker) bit the dust, well it cracked from side to side actually. So this morning after doing a cashback check, I found a new one and got a fiver off it. It is much bigger, allowing for a meal plus one each time. In use as I speak.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

A day in the sun

Well not all day. A bit, but at least two piles of washing were sun dried. The veg patch (a word used loosely here, nothing uniform about it at all) was weeded. Em planted up some seeds including shiso.

It is a nettle like leaf, often seen with sushi and has the loveliest taste even in salads. We are hoping the seeds are still viable as the packet was quite old.
Some housey things were done and more can be revealed about that later.....
On the crochet front - something very cool is taking shape. Don't want to post it now, but it won't be too long.

Han has been having a chill day as the prom and after party have worn her out. She looked fantastic, and I think it is ok to post a shot of her here. Normally any association with Mum's blog is shunned!

In the morning I am going to pick up some bags of compost from the nursery where she works and get some of our spuds in - finally.
In the front bed there are now some dahlias.  A new thing for me. One is called Diamond Jubilee apt for this year.
The irises are in bloom and are stunning. Sadly a family of little snails decimated the first and only bud to grow on a black iris that was planted THREE years ago. Maybe next year, but to compensate, again three years in the waiting are the first buds on a peony bush.
Got to tidy away my garden tools - and then it is time for dinner and some crochet.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

My frugal finds today

I have always been a fan of op shops (charity shops in Strine...) and today I got 3 pairs of tights for a £1.00 and a new T-shirt for £3.50 which was for sale in the shop three doors up for a lot more. Nice.

I get lots of comments about my clothes at work, (nice ones - don't think anyone is pointing and laughing!!).  I like dresses and many of mine are op shop finds. I love a thrifty bargain and get very excited about finding yarn. The trick as with any purchase is to buy only if it will be used or is needed.....such a hard trick at times.

As a rule of thumb, if I can get something at a reduced price, I will. I will even ask sometimes, very nicely, if the price on offer is the best price. My girls hate it, but hey, we all reap the benefits, even the vendor as they KNOW they will get a sale. It always amazes me how people will pay the asking price for so many things. Yes, there are manufacturing, shipping, advertising, storing, labour costs and all that involved, but even so. A friend of mine makes glasses frames in Japan. They cost less than a pound a piece. Stick a brand label on them there you go, sky high profit margins.

But there are days when I want a new dress or shoes and I want to feel as if I have shopped. When that happens, it feels like a real treat.

It is all about balance. My scales tip in favour of the bargain though!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Yes my dear, you shall go to the ball

While trying on a strapless bra with the in a shop the other night, the zip on Han's dress caught, not in anything visible, probably just a cheap fastener. Result, I had to break her out of the dress. Literally. There were tears and thank goodness for the very young bra fitting lady who told her own tale of her dress tearing minutes before her prom. She reminded Han that there was a whole week to fix it and it was better off happening now than on the night etc....
Well, that week has now only days left and we have a new zip but mama has not started her task....due to nerves. I am a bit out of practice putting in zips. And this is a frilly prom dress that MATTERS!!
But Lucy at Attic24 mentioned zips and sticky tape and that seems like a perfect solution. So that the frills do not get sewn in all directions, they can be taped down before the zip goes in - phew.

After this, I plan to start unpicking so that my lovely big girl can go to her ball.

It has been an odd week. I have been very productive on the crochet front. In less than a week I made this:

for Han at her request. A chocolate Swiss roll pillow!

An old WIP was frogged to start this:

The work was never going to be finished, but a friend told me how much she loved the colours and so it will end up a cushion cover for her. Not blocked yet, still a bit twirly....

Now I am impatient to start the blanket for Big J and me to snuggle under, but before that, before I buy more yarn, I am using up as many bits as I can and doing a granny stripe blanket. This is for Pem and I am getting her to have as much input about the colours as possible.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

New Blog to follow

It is always nice to find a new blog to follow. I have been looking for inspiration for colour to decorate our bedroom and want to make a suitable blanket for our bed. For a long time I have been a big fan of Lucy at Attic24, MemeRose, Dragonfly, to name just three of the amazing blogs I follow. I also love reading about life on an organic farm in Australia, of prints and lino cuts, of food and frugal living and the work and creations of every one of the talented women and men whose blogs are in the side bar here.

Then I found Mouse Notebook and fell in love with the colours of her gorgeous blankets and it just set off the most incredible urge to get on with getting the bedroom decorated.

The rainbow colours of many of the blogs I follow give me immense joy, but they are not right for me and my home. I have always loved the sea and sand and stones, from the stormy, inky Atlantic near my granny's house in Ireland to the iridescent blue of the Barrier Reef and tropical waters that I have been lucky enough to swim in. Then when I saw the seascape shades in this lovely blog it all fell into place. I already had a colour in mind for the walls, but have since found a carpet and the ball is rolling. This is also a fabulous chance to buy some new yarn - bowahahaha!!!

Tonight our crafty session is off because this old dear has over done it with the bike and spin and crept home last night worn out to the bones. Still a few days off before the next session on Saturday should see me fighting fit again.