Monday 9 October 2017

Winter Project Link Party

Randomly, I'm blogging. What better way to (re)start than with Jennifer from Thistlebear's Winter Blog Link Party.
So without further ado, here's what I'm currently working on.

I thought I'd try some cross stitch. It's been a very long time since I've done any sewing and I needed a fresh challenge. I'd bought a cheap book some months ago to see if I could work it out. In the end I bought a kit from theworldinstitches and got going.
Then of course it has sat in my sewing box waiting for the right moment...and I think this is it.

Of course the clocks go back soon and I'm definitely noticing a change in my eyesight (I've not succumbed to the suggested reading glasses or varifocals yet though) so let's see how it goes.

Joining in with Jennifer.

Wednesday 25 January 2017

What I should be (have been) doing but actually I'm blogging :: ten things

:: I should really be writing a fellowship application but I thought I'd rather blog. Whilst watching the TV. Or scrolling on my phone. Or putting the smallest girl back into bed. I don't seem to be able to do just one thing at a time anymore.

:: There have been some spectacular sunrises and sunsets here at the mo - also too much fog!

:: I finished my Whitlam cowl...very cosy it is too. I've bought some more wool in a different colour, It sits, wound into a ball, waiting for me.

:: I've made one toast arm warmer. I thought I'd see if I could remember how to knit in the round. Turns out I can. But I've got second arm warmer syndrome (it's related to second sock syndrome). Who knows by the next time I blog I might have finished the second one. I did have some pics but had to delete them off my phone for space (first world problems) but you can get the idea here...

:: I'm enjoying my first daffodils of the year. I love having them brightening up the kitchen.

:: Biggest girl is now following in her Father's footsteps and doing (junior) park run. She takes it very seriously. We had to go and buy some running tights for her. It's all about the PB.

:: Smallest girl is now old enough to join in too (4! Last week! How did that happen?) "I'd rather stay with you mummy than get all hot" A girl after my own heart. Everything is currently about Paw Patrol. Or Sue Hendra books. I think Supertato is my favourite.

:: We took the nursery bear home over Christmas. It was the longest three weeks of my life. I had three children to change into pyjamas every night! I was also more petrified of losing said bear than my own child!

:: I'm loving Apple Tree Yard on BBC1. The book by Louise Doughty was just superb. Women scientists aren't often depicted on TV and (thankfully)  don't seem to have the shenanigans she does!

:: I'm hoping to join in with Penny  and try some new dishes in her recipe challenge. I have shelves (shelves!!) of books so I should really put them to good use rather than thinking of them as bedtime reading.

Thursday 6 October 2016

Winter Project Link Party :: 1

Jennifer over at Thistlebear is hosting her Winter Link Party again for this coming autumn and Winter. I thought I would try join in, perhaps not with every post as the level of my progress would be painfully slow...

I'm really enjoying making this cowl (the Whitlam cowl). I received the yarn and pattern as a kit from a very good friend who is a most excellent knitter from a lovely (very) local shop Baa Ram Ewe. It took me a bit of thought at the start and continues to be more challenging than mindless stocking stitch. I've had to undo rows more than a couple of times when I've suddenly realised I've got an extra stitch!!

I think it'll be worth it though, the lace pattern might need a bit of blocking to show it off to its best.

Anyway, I'm about halfway through the recommended length of the cowl. Let's see how we go...

Friday 16 September 2016


It’s amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it. I decided I wanted to crack on with a few things that haven’t been finished. I’m quite good at finishing things eventually, particularly if I can have a hefty dose of procrastination in the middle. I don’t like not to have something hanging around really even if I do like putting it off. So in an attempt at self improvement which is not only limited to getting things done in my work life (where I’m also liberally flashing clich├ęs about – eat the frog, get stuff done and flying through my to do list), I thought that tidying up corners of my wardrobe where I stash the crafty bits and with my favourite time of the year about to begin what better time to challenge myself on finishing those unfinished things.

I’d promised the ABO a scarf last winter. Thankfully winter 15-16 was quite warm! I’d bought some aran weight Debbie Bliss wool/yarn (depending on who you speak to) in a charcoal colour not quite black but not grey and started knitting in mistake rib (sounds a good plan to me because I made mistakes in knit 2 purl 2!!) vaguely paying attention to this pattern from purl Soho.
Anyway, finally, it’s finished. It needs a bit of blocking I think but I’m quite pleased with it. Do you see the intentional design? About 1/3 way in I made a mistake and quite by chance made the same error 1/3 from the end, so it looks intentional to the design. I’m amazed by my genius/luck!

My New York embroideries are complete but not yet hung. here they are nestling nicely between some Nigella and Nigel. These were kits I bought on holiday and I’m looking around for fabrics to co-ordinate in hoops in the living room. They’re fairly simple designs and quite easy for me do.  I’ll let you see them in situ when they’re up (this could be some time!!)

Now I’ve got 2 knitting projects in my plans to finish. I was making some knitted dolls for the girls. These first featured on my blog here and here. I’ve only managed the body, head and legs for one so my aim is to get that finished, stuffed and sewn (perhaps not including clothes) for the end of September and to make a good start on the next one. It’s pretty quick if I get my act together!!

The other task will take longer but hopefully by the end of October I’ll have my Whitlam cowl complete. So I can enjoy my scarf for the cooler months (and not be waiting until winter 17-18 for it!) I’m still having to unpick a row every now and then as I lose count of where I am in the pattern when I start talking or get distracted by something including (but not limited to) a child needing a wee/ a goal on the football/ reaching for a biscuit. This is closely followed by me sighing, muttering ‘now where was I?’ and then unpicking the row!!

Finally my plan in this procrastination free zone is take down my sewing machine from the top of LittleR’s wardrobe (which I've just done whilst the children play in the garden) and  make sure it’s ship shape (and Bristol fashion) for some future projects (first up anew cupboard curtain for LittleR's room - she's chosen owls). I’ve bought some new needles and just need to give it a once over before I cut into any fabric.

Let’s see how long this Autumnal get up and go lasts!!

Monday 5 September 2016

Ten things :: the summer edition

I love this time of year. I’ve written about it before (and still not made a start of the shawl in this post – I’m feeling brave maybe I’ll make a start). I always think of that line from You’ve Got Mail where Tom Hanks’ character (Joe) says “Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils”. That is exactly how I feel about this time of year. Although the last time I was in New York in the Autumn was 20 years ago!! I'm still excited for the start of a new term. The new academic year is nearly upon me...I've spent all summer prepping my new modules and getting ready for the next intake of students...
So this might be a good time to round up on summer happenings. I returned to work today. BigR goes back to school tomorrow (a cunningly placed INSET day today catching people off guard) and so it continues. It’s also her birthday on Thursday, which to me signifies the true end of the summer.

:: We made our annual (can you say annual on the second year?) trip to the pick your own farm for strawberries. It was much easier this year as LittleR is older and can follow instructions (apart from don't eat too many). I didn’t overdo it either (well not too much) and we got 6 jars of jam plus plenty for desserts and general snacking.

:: The garden has flourished…perhaps with a few more weeds than last summer (but I’ll take that over having time off with a poorly child) but all in all there’s been colour since the springtime. The cosmos grew and grew but no flowers apart from one. Well, I shouldn't have been so impatient...they're full of flowers now!!

:: Although our fruit crops were meagre this year. We did enjoy a few home grown strawberries, raspberries and (just ripening now) blueberries. We only managed 2 plums – biggest child was put off by finding a worm inside and that was that!

:: The roses were beautiful too and still flowering on their 2nd or 3rd flush. All the deadheading was worth it.

:: In the kitchen I made pesto which was stirred into pasta and put in a crust on top of cod, bread and various cakes. The biggest girl has requested a chocolate cake for later this week.

:: We had some fabulous days out. Yorkshire Wildlife Park and Castle Howard (where Brideshead Revisited was filmed) and of course our regular pre-paid with membership haunts Fountains Abbey and Harlow Carr.

:: I took the girls to McDonald’s one lunchtime and they thought all their birthdays and Christmases had come at once. Ketchup, balloons, plastic toy, ice cream. Their joy was unreserved!! Who knew McFlurries were so tasty though?

:: BigR has learnt to knit. She needs help on occasion wrapping the yarn round but overall does a good job. I'm there to pick up lost stitches and undo any mistakes (for example the row she forgot to slip the stitch off and ended up with 40 stitches not 20). She’s made a blanket for Barbie’s little sister, Chelsea (no I didn’t know she had a sister until it arrived as a present for her birthday last year but she does) as her patience in getting rows done didn’t last to make one for Barbie! Of course, her side of the story is that Barbie already has a blanket for her bed (this is true, my children have too many toys!!)

:: I was given a beautiful kit to knit a cowl by my very talented knitter friend. It’s coming along although I have had to unpick rows where I’ve missed part of the pattern whilst talking!

:: I’ve managed to complete two embroideries as well…the ones I bought in New York picturing NY scenes. The plan is to intersperse them with hoops of fabric along the wall behind our sofa. Now I’ve just got to hang them. I can't believe I don't have 'finished' photo....

Saturday 9 July 2016

A brief interlude

I didn't plan not to blog. A combination of being busy (work, home and children) laptop issues and then getting out of the habit put paid to posting. I've seen lots of posts recently where others aren't sure where their blogs are going. This isn't the case for me. I've no great plans for my blog. I know my blog is primarily for me and for making connections with others who like similar stuff to me. And so on we go...

:: I've been loving the garden. It perhaps is not getting as much attention as last year (when LittleR was so poorly and I was barely working during the day) but it's still very enjoyable. I love the alliums...the last of which I had in my kitchen after a football 'accident'.

:: Somewhere along the line, I can't pinpoint exactly, LittleR doesn't need 100% of my attention all the time. It's a subtle thing, I can deadhead some roses whilst she powers up and down on her scooter. I can complete a row or two of a scarf whilst she creates a playmobil meets Peppa Pig playworld!  I'm still yet to make a trip to the loo without either of the girls wondering where I am...

:: We decorated the dining room. Grey and yellow. It's a very sunny room now. I liked it before, I like it even more now!

::We took a last minute trip over half term. The ABO got holiday released (this is unusual for his job over any holiday period!!) and we went to New York. I can confirm most people asked if we took the children and then thought we were mad when we did. Actually, it was an amazing place to go with kids. Easy food. Easy getting about (If you count carrying a 3 year old around easy! I guess being carried is preferable to other people's bums). No language issues (particularly if we had any health issues -thankfully we didn't). There's just so much to do. We barely scratched the surface in 6 days.

:: What do you do where every corner you turn is part of a TV or film set? Well you get over excited seeing the Copacobana (the hottest spot north of Havana) and move directly to MOMA to look at your favourite painting. Yes I loved seeing Starry Night and the beautiful Monet paintings but this one does it for me every time. (Paul Klee - Cat and Bird)

:: I had a brief visit to Purl. I'd perused the website in advance knowing that my browsing time would be short. It was fab just to see all of the things. I bought 3 embroidery kits...2 with scenes of NYC and one sampler.

:: It must be good as I've already completed one.

:: Work continues in an up and down fashion. As with everything recently, who knows where higher education is going after the leave vote. I'm plodding along with my work. Looking forward for the end of the school term. BigR is ready too. She's already planning her birthday party (it's the first week of the new term so she needs the invites at the ready!). Already I'm making new plans for the start of the next academic year. Excited (yes already) for the start of a new term and a new module I'm teaching.

:: I've celebrated another birthday. I was completely spoiled. My new jug takes pride of place in the new dining room.

:: There's been much baking. Scones, cakes, cinnamon buns and for my birthday the ABO made a Junior's inspired baked cheesecake. It was delicious!

Thursday 28 April 2016

Small, nice things

:: Our school holidays finished and we're back into the usual routines. It was a holiday of great action and inactivity in just the right amounts. Now I know we're back as I've already tackled the first week of uniform ironing. We're in gingham territory now.

:: This week we took a trip to YSP where we saw the KAWS sculptures. It was a beautiful day. I found them intriguing.  LittleR loved to imitate their poses!

:: My camellia is in flower again. Just beautiful.

:: Carrot cake muffins complete with icing. No nuts (but the biggest girl still doesn't like these!). No sultanas/currants/raisins (my nemesis). Yum.

:: New book, new obsession.

:: Our living room has been decorated. We've moved some of the toys out and rearranged them in other areas of the house, We chose a warm pewter grey for the wall colour. It's such a huge change from before. The room seems so much bigger, this is likely to be the lack of toys! I'm in love with the curtains. We're now looking out for some large prints to go on the wall above the's not 'finished'  but I'm good at works in progress.

:: In tidying up for the living room to be decorated I went through a large number of photos. I had to do a double take on one. It turns out my youngest girl is the image of my brother at the same age. They pose for a picture in the same way. At that moment I really wished she could have met him. It was lovely and very surprising all at once.

:: Can you believe it snowed yesterday and we're due a light dusting overnight. Goodness me Spring it's nearly May!! Plus travel chaos tomorrow.

:: Still at least the tulips are coming.