Tuesday, 2 September 2014

September Monthly Mandalong

 Helloooo. Well it seems that our lovely summer holiday has finally come to an end and the kids returned to school today with rather glum faces, and in truth mine wasn't a pretty picture either. I have so enjoyed having the kids at home, it truly was a blessing and even though there were moments where I felt the need to pull my hair out (well actually I would need more than a moment to achieve this), on the whole it was peaceful and fun. Both little J & E mostly played together harmoniously and have somehow rekindled their love for each other, something that usually gets lost during term time, I mean its not really cool having your small sis as your best friend.

When the kids were very little, well up to the point when they both went to school, so really not that long ago, we always found that they would prefer to play with each other when in the company of others kids. I use to really love this about my kids, this deep routed love that they somehow have anchored for each other, possibly during some difficult years where we were cooped inside whilst I was housebound, but like they say, every cloud has a silver lining. Even this morning when we set off for school there were hugs for each other (obviously NOT in the playground, oh heaven forbid!), but it melted my heart. To be honest I didn't need anything to melt my heart this morning, I was tearful from the moment I woke and when I had big cuddles with little J, he was very perplexed as to why Mummy had all these tears streaming down her face. Oh how do you ever explain the love you feel for your child. The love of a parent is something so special, it is a gift and one that should NEVER be taken for granted. I feel sick as I sit here and type this as the house is quiet and my babies are most probably very ready to come home, but what scares me most is the pace life is moving. In a few years I won't have these long cuddles with my son where I can plant a million kisses all over his face whilst he buries his head in the fold of my neck. No, I know, they will be replaced by silent grunts even when he has the urge to hug or kiss. Thankfully we can capture these moments and seal them at the bottom of our hearts and hopefully we can hold on to them till our very last days. One thing I have learnt from the last seven years is that every new phase bring new beautiful memories, so I know they don't end here.

So, to stop the flow of tears, I am swiftly moving on to something a little more cheerful, yes my Mandala. I must confess that I am now officially in the habit of leaving this to the last minute so I will endeavour to start this a little earlier next month.  This months mandala was the Daisy Centre Mandala Square by the very talented Zelina Olivier. I again used Drops Paris, as it simply is the best yarn for mandala's in my opinion, if you take away the weaving in ends bit. 

For some reason the cotton always splits when you try and weave in the ends, which is really the only thing I dislike about Drops Paris. It is a fairly simply pattern to work from and I wanted to have something a little different from my usual colour scheme, something a little 'warmer', yes a little more autumnal. Last winter I lost my heart on mustard and even throughout the summer I just couldn't get enough of this beautiful colour, in fact so much so that I had to invest in not one, but yes two mustard bags whilst on our jolly in Italy (but more on that another day). 

I must confess that there was a bit of pulling out towards the end as I tried desperately to finish this whilst trying to focus on the amazing routines on Tumble. Honestly I just LOVE LOVE LOVE everything about this show!  Aren't those celebrities just doing the most fantastic job. So common spill the beans, does anyone else watch this and do you like it or love it? We initially recorded it for little E, who started doing gymnastics a term ago and absolutely loves it, but it seems this Mamma is enjoying a great deal more than little E. What I would do to do a little gymnastics, mind you I would seriously injure myself!!! So yes the problem with crocheting mandala's is that they do involve a bit of counting and concentrating at times, which can prove a little difficult when you can't take your eyes off the telly!

If I am honest I really thought that this Mandala would be a great deal smaller than it turned out, but actually I am delighted with the finished size as its inspired me to make something with it, but for now I will have to keep you guessing! Unfortunately I haven't blocked it yet, so none of these images do it justice as I always find blocking your work makes the world of difference. 

So for October, I have chosen something small (yes clearly I still have this urge to make a slightly smaller Mandala, so lets hope this is!) and again I have chosen a pattern by Zelina Olivier. I promise to move on to someone else at some point, but I really enjoy Zelina's designs and patterns and the problem is there are so many of them that I want to make! What I like about this pattern is that I think this pattern might make quite a few little presents for Christmas (oops, yes there I have said it!). So for anyone interested in joining in, you can either make a mandala of your choice, or you can find the pattern for the Granny Mini Mandala here. 

That's it for today my lovelies. A big and warm welcome to all my lovely new followers, I hope you enjoy your visits here and I look forward to getting to know you a little better. For now though I have to get the sprogs from school and I am going to leave you with a lovely memory of our last morning in bed before school started (yes not the most glamorous, but who cares about that!). 

Happy September and Happy Autumn & Spring!

Warm Wishes

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Sew and Tell

So as promised a quick sew and tell, the truth is that if I had my way I would have my bottom firmly screwed down in front of the sewer for a good few hours a day, but hey somehow life gets in the way, but its not all bad.

So first up is my Margot pyjama bottoms. I was so excited when I first learned that Tilly Walnes was writing a book. I absolutely LOVED her in the first series of The Sewing Bee and was guttered when she had to leave. I just love everything about her style, so needless to say when she announced that you could pre order the book, I wasted no time. For those of you who haven't flicked through this fabulous book 'Love at First Stitch:Demystifying Dressmaking', you should seriously do yourself a favour and get your mitts on it. It has some really lovely sewing ideas with some lovely patterns. I really love the fact that the patterns are all full sized, so no enlarging or faffing required, which suits a gal like me down to the ground.

Now for quite some time I have been meaning to make some PJ's and seeing that there are quite a few easy patterns floating around on Pinterest it was only going to be a matter of time before I got around to it. The first time I flicked through this book, I immediately knew what my first project was going to be, yes you guessed it, the Margot PJ's. I bought the fabric, but as is often the case it got put to one side to make room for something else, well that was until I could wait no longer and as they say the rest, well, was history.

These are really easy PJ's that you can make in next to no time. I think all in all (ignoring hand sewing the hem) it took me a few hours, but now that I know what I am doing I suspect it will take me a little less time to make the next pair, they are just too comfy not to!

A few weeks ago, I spied a fabulous looking magazine on no other than the very lovely Daisy's Instagram feed and it was only a matter of days before I was flicking through it.  I love everything about this magazine (thank you Daisy!), it is so varied with so many different and lovely sewing ideas and projects, in fact I can feel a little subscription coming up, ssshhh don't tell hubby! This months issue comes with a pattern for a rather lovely little tunic, so I wasted no time in reaching for my shweshwe fabric, which I purchased during our recent visit to South Africa, and got started.

Again, seriously, this is an easy peasy pattern to follow and such a quick sew for a rather lovely finish. My only criticism about it is that it came out far too big for my liking so yet again I had to take it in! This seems to be an ongoing trend with my dressmaking, but I suspect sooner than later I will start understanding what my true size is. 

If it wasn't for the alterations, this would have taken no more than a few hours from start to finish. It is simple and uncomplicated and for any new sewers out there, give it a go!! I am definitely going to make another one, in fact it would seem a shame not to!

So whilst I was packing and tidying, I spotted a pattern for a sunglasses case (again part of this month's Love Sewing Magazine) and needless to say I just somehow had to make one...

Fortunately it was really quick sew that I just about managed to squeeze in and I must say I'm very impressed with yet another Sewgirl pattern. The only criticism, yes you've guessed it, its a little too big for my liking ;-), in fact its the perfect little make-up bag.

So that's it for today and for my sew and tell. We are soon jetting off on summer jolly and going back to beautiful Tuscany, so needless to say we are all feeling a little giddy with excitement, but as usual there is quite a lot to get ready and prepared, so I better get on with it! Wishing you all a beautiful couple of week and leaving you today with some beautiful lavender from the garden (Ma this one is for you!).

Warm Wishes

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A little trip to the seaside

The day after the schools broke up for the summer holiday we set off for a few days to beautiful Anglesey. After our recent visit (which I spoke about here) we just knew that we didn't want to wait too long before we dipped our toes in the gorgeous coastline around Anglesey. By the time the last few manic weeks of school term was over we were all very ready for a few days of chillaxing by the seaside.

What is it with pitching tents that brings out the 'man' in us all. It surely is a sure way to see who wears the trousers in the house, and when it comes to pitching the tent there sure is a tussle for the braces in our household! Needless to say this can lead to all sorts of dilemmas when the real testosterone kicks in and one knows when to step back jack! So yes apart from the sweltering heat and the fact that it really annoys me that men can just take their tops off whenever they are hot (not fair right?!), not to mention water the plants when they need to spend a penny and then get to take over when pitching the tent, it all went swimmingly well and by the time we were pitched, we were very sweaty and very ready for a dip in the freezing cold Atlantic and cool this hothead of mine! Fortunately for me I grew up swimming in the Cape, so these waters are pretty warm by comparison. I think if you can swim at Bloubergstrand in the Cape, you can swim pretty much anywhere.

We enjoyed lovely cups of teas, ice creams and food from this gorgeous little cafe on Lligwy Beach. For anyone on Instagram, you may very well be familiar with Cheryl's gorgeous feed (@thehouseonahill).  It was so lovely to meet her in person and to put a face to an Instagram account that I love. Our little furry friend, Bryn, joined us for our camping jolly and I have to say the boy was so so good!! I think he has fairly earned his camping badge and deserves a gold medal for being the best behaved dog in the campsite and on the beach! This could very possibly be because he felt at home, after all he is Welsh, hence the name Bryn. We all had a good few giggles at road names called after him.

Little E and myself enjoyed some morning yoga on our first morning followed by a lovely healthy breakfast. There's always something to forget when you go camping and this time it was the kettle!!! (yes OH NO! you heard her say), especially seeing that I am a gal who likes my teas no matter where I am. Fortunately I could use our coffee pot and our friends arrived with two kettles by mistake, I mean what are the chances?!

On our first evening there we enjoyed THE most spectacular sunset and this was the view from our tent. I mean how tiny and insignificant does this big sun make you feel, but doesn't it feel good to know that we are blessed to live in a world where are free to walk outside and enjoy the benefits that this beautiful star bring.

On day two friends joined us for the rest of our stay and it was just jolly nice to be in good company with like minded friends. We enjoyed a trip to the Beautiful Cable Bay, definitely one of my favourite beaches now, where we all just spent the day swimming, playing bats, badminton, frisbee, whilst enjoying lunch and cups of tea on the beach. Lets just say we did it in style (do we need an excuse? heck no!).

We did have a plan to enjoy fish and chips on the beach one night, but sadly it started to rain and we made it to a fish and chips shop where we could sit outside and enjoy our meal and I hasten to add that not only did they allow us to drink some wine, but I also enjoyed some GLUTEN free fish, I mean really, who would have thought! I honestly can't remember the last time I ate fish and chips, but one thing is for sure it was good. 

The rest of the time we just enjoyed Lligwy Bay, our local beach,  which was literally a three minute walk from the campsite. The kids built sandcastles, played in the water, played beach bats and frisbee, whilst us oldies joined in or just relaxed.

We were very lucky with the weather as it all changed on our last night there , which honestly I think was quite fun for the kids as we enjoyed a meal cooked in the tent, games and stories, it was a whole new experience for them.

I was a little unsure about how I was going to cope with camping for four nights, but honestly I can't believe how much I did physically. It was AMAZING!!!! We were all in bed by 11 and the kids were flat out till around 7.30 - 8am every morning (the above pic was the kids flat out till after 8.30 one morning!).  Lets not talk about the noisy birds (not me for once) as its a sore point with the other half! It just felt so so good to have a little taste of life again and especially seeing that we were always big on camping, it feels so good to have done something we both enjoy with our kids at an age they will most probably remember.

I feel that all the hard work I have put in this year is paying off. I swam in the sea, I even played beach bats and most of all I walked, yes I didn't use my wheels once, so it was such a massive breakthrough for me. I will add that I am feeling it this week, but then I can't expect it all to be good without any payback, that's just not the way Fibromyalgia or ME works, but I know that with rest and care it will get better. It is definitely a little trickier now that the kids are home, and despite the fact that we have a super busy week planned, I will do what I know works best, good food, yoga and a little down time.  I am still incredibly strict with my routine and diet and I am feeling all the much better for it. There is one word the keeps coming back to me over and over, if you are DISCIPLINED, you can achieve so much in life!

Leaving you with this sweet little sign, that pretty much sums up how I feel!

Wishing you all a wonderful week.
Warm Wishes

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Monthly Mandalong

Helloooo. Well its a good thing I've got this monthly mandalong thingy going on as otherwise I would never get to blogland. Honestly I don't know where the time goes or what I do with it (well I do to some extend), but I never seem to have time to sit down to read blogs or even write to you all. I must confess I do miss reading all your news and staying tuned with all your crafty developments (sorry for being so slack!).  For now though the school holidays are in full swing and it seems I have survived the first week, phew! Only another four and a half to go :-)) she says. We quickly forget just how full on it is having the kids home 24 hours a day! To be honest I am quite enjoying it and we have been super busy, so there's been no time to sit and just be (which I miss!). So without wasting anymore time let me share my recent mandala with you.

As mentioned last month, I agreed to make another Starflower Mandala for Lucy (Attic24) for the Yarndale Festival. At first the idea seemed pretty straightforward especially considering that I had already made one, I mean how hard can it be?! Well my dearies it seems that this girl here grumbled and groused and pulled out row after row, possibly because I was trying to do this on route to Anglesey and back whilst being the co-driver. Is it just me or is being the co-driver harder work than being the driver, especially with non stop demands from the kids at the back? Anyone else have this problem?

So yes for me this gorgeous pattern by the very talented Zelina Olivier does require some attention and its not the kind of project you can work on whilst doing other things (well that was my experience anyway). Once I found a few minutes here and there to do a little uninterrupted crocheting, it was plain sailing. Clearly bad planning on my part, I should have finished it before the schools broke up, lesson learnt (or has it now?!). 

I really loved doing this project in Drops Paris and much prefer the final finish to the Stylecraft Special that I crocheted last month.  I also really love the colours that I used for this starflower. I wanted to have something summery, yes a bit like Ice Cream and I am very happy with the way it turned out. In fact as I was photographing this I found that it perfectly matched our deck chair, so need I say more!

In fact there is a little part of me that doesn't really want to part with this mandala and I have to confess (even if it is through gritted teeth) that I might just have to make another starflower mandala.

So the next Mandala pattern yet again comes from the very talented Zelina Olivier and honestly I am feeling a little exited to start making this pretty daisy in a square mandala. Personally I am already envisaging ticking a few crimbo pressies off the list (ssshhh don't tell anyone!). So for any of you interested in joining in you can find this pattern on the lovely Zelina's blog and you can add the link to next month's link up. 

Photo from Zelina Olivier's blog: Zooty Owl's Crafty Blog

For those of you who have made a mandala this month, you can add it to the link below. Thank you to everyone who has participated to the Monthly Mandalong thus far, it has been fun seeing all your beautiful creations. Honestly I am really enjoying doing this, it is a good way to ensure that I do something different every month and if I am honest also good to be crocheting as I seem to be a little obsessed with sewing right now. Speaking of which, I will pop back before we jet off to show and tell a few sewing makes. For now though, its time to alter a tunic and to prepare the roast dinner for tonight. I hope you all have enjoyed a glorious weekend. Thank you for stopping by!

Warm Wishes

Thursday, 17 July 2014

and so she sews...

I don't know about you, but for me I always have this list of things I would like to achieve before the school holidays kick in. I know as soon as the first day of the school holidays start I can wave my little crafty project goodbye. So amongst many other things, this dress was on this so called list. I will add here that since the beginning of the year, when life changed directions, my so called to-do-lists were chucked out the back door and I must confess that even though there are days I feel very tempted to put a pencil to paper to make a list or two (as really I am a gal who likes a good list), I no longer allow myself the pleasure. So when I refer to this before-the-holiday-start-list, it really is very much a mental list, but hopefully it comes without the pressure (or so she says!!)

So coming back to this dress. Now a few years ago I was in our local fent shop when I spotted this rather gorgeous, what I would class as retro looking, fabric and I knew that despite the fact that it was rather pricey, I just had to buy it there and then. Now years later I found the pattern and it seems the rest is history. Honestly from start to finish it didn't take too long, we are not talking hours here, in fact much more like days, but it was still good going for me that is. I seem to be getting a little better at understanding patterns and how to use them and this one threw a few tricky curve balls my way just to make sure I was concentrating, but I got there in the end (oh Google what would I do without thee!).

Now as I was nearing the end, having just done all my interfacings, I was trying to trim away some of the excess bulk around the neck and arm areas in order to get a clean and crisp press finish. Well it was all going swimmingly, until my Fiskars Micro Tip scissors couldn't get through the bulk of the layers of fabric and I reached for sewing scissors, when yes, brace yourselves, I cut through my dress, yes interfacing, dress and all. Now all you Instagram folk shared my panic and pain and offered much support and fortunately after a knock on the door, a cuppa, and a moment to breath, I returned on a mission to put it right and fortunately I managed to do just that, phew! (yes a big phew!).

One thing I am still struggling with is to ensure the dress fits me perfectly. Both the dresses that I have made fit, but not like a glove and that is the whole point of making your own clothes right. So this is something that I need to figure out. I am forever having to take darts in to get it a little snugger and after wearing this dress for the first time today I will be making a few alterations to it over the next couple of days. So if anyone has any good advice on good books or youtube links, please share as I would be very interested to hear your input.

As for the rest of my mental list (no pressure is the mantra!) there are quite a few things I would like to achieve by next Tuesday, but honestly when I look at the calendar, I can only but sigh and breathe as it is looking rather unlikely.

This week Tuesday we celebrated 15 years of being together and it has been the best 15 years of my life. Who would have thought that 15 years ago when we sat in some dingy pub in London just off Fleet street and my man plucked up the courage to ask me to court with him (yes he comes with good manners!), that we would be the best team ever. We work so well together, we gel in oh so many ways and I love my man more than words can say and there is not a day that I don't feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Tuesdays are busy days in our household and by the time we get back from gymnastic, kids are fractious and hungry, this week to add insult to injury little J joined hubby for an orienteering fell race and by the time they both walked through the door tired and muddy it was  LATE.

A table was set in the garden for the two of us, nothing fancy but all the same it was special. The kids enjoyed a late telly session whilst us grown ups longingly looked into each others eyes declaring our undying love to each other (well actually it was more along the lines of 'oh my what the hell happened in parliament today?', need I say more!). One thing is for sure, Romance is NOT dead in our house. It was such a lovely evening and I look forward to sharing another 45 years with my man. He is my best friend, lover and the most amazing Dad to our two kids, what more could I ask for in one lifetime! I am truly blessed.

(and yes of course there had to be a little dessert, Paleo all the same. Basically its one avocado, cacao powder, a little honey, one can coconut milk, and some dates. A bit of an improvisation and it possibly needs a little tweaking but one day when I get around to setting up my new blog it will be on there! All in all not too shabby at all).

That's it for today, I will be back soon with another project that I worked on this week, for now though I am wishing you all a very lovely week.

Warm Wishes