Thursday 26 March 2015

This week

This week I've been mostly ....

.... loving that my Mother's Day flowers still look gorgeous

.... snuggling under blankets with various under-the-weather Little People

.... enjoying daffodils in my new-to-me 50p bargain charity shop vase

.... crocheting things with my Gillymakes win of Sugar n Cream cotton yarn

.... admiring the pieces I made on my fused glass workshop

.... flicking through my new-to-me craft books - another charity shop find, all 4 for £12 :)

.... loving the latest McDonalds Shawn the Sheep Happy Meal toys (yes I know its unhealthy)

.... ironing Hama bead creations

.... packaging up (finally) my blog giveaway prizes

.... playing with colours for a new blanket :)

What have you been doing this week ?


ps rubbish photos, sorry - all taken on my iPad, just couldn't be bothered faffing about with memory cards etc!

Tuesday 17 March 2015

St Patrick's Day

People from Ireland are the people who least celebrate St Parick's Day, at least in Northern Ireland, and at least when I lived there. I do seem to remember that we got the afternoon off school to watch some inter-school rugby final, but other than that I don't remember celebrating it in any way. Of course that may have changed now what with the internet an' all. I know that our cousins across the pond go a bit mad for St Patrick's Day, and certainly in England it's a day of (albeit minor) note. Usually I will wear a green top or scarf and perhaps have some soda bread or Guinness, but this year I didn't even do that. My (English) friend ran up to me in Sainsbury's earlier, gave me a massive hug, and shrieked "Happy St Patrick's Day !!! Bless her, it was very sweet :)

Little Miss had to "bring something from Ireland" to Brownies tonight. I said "bring me, I'm something from Ireland" but thankfully she took it as the joke it was intended and did not make me accompany her. Instead, after scouring Pinterest, I made her a little leprechaun hat fascinator-come-headband to wear. The pin sent me to a ravelry pattern here (, so big thankyou to Helen Whiteley for making it available :)

I made 90% of it waiting for Little Man to come out of the school, and the last bit while I was making dinner. A bit of a rush but here's how it turned out ....

<.... and here's the Brownie herself modelling it :)

The photos are rubbish, sorry. It was 5.50pm. I had to finish drying her hair, fish her top out from the tumble drier, get her to finish her dinner, and finish the headband thingy and get to Brownies for 6pm, so no time for decent pics. She was late, yes. Oops.

Now everyone knows that you can't just go on Pinterest, find a pattern, and leave. That would be most rude. Naturally you have to spend loads of time browsing other stuff but usually not making anything else. Today though I decided to capitalise on the St Patrick's Day spirit and make a little wreath too. I gathered some bits and pieces ....

The little inconspicuous pink and white plasticy thing on the left is a pom-pom maker. Have you ever used one ? They are great fun. Much easier than getting all cross with cardboard. Here's a quick lesson in pom-pom making.

1. Get your pom-pom maker ready - it starts off like this (this is my slightly bigger one),

Both sides have 2 foldy-out arm things.

2. Make sure the arms on one side are folded in, and that the 2 on the other side are folded out. It's the two that are folded out that we will use first.

3. Start wrapping your wool round the arches of the folded out arms. Just keep going round and round, over and over, with an even distribution, until there is only a small space left at the centre.

4. Now fold that side away, and fold out the other side. Start wrapping again.

5.  Once the second side is wrapped, fold it away too. Then use a pair of sharp scissors to cut all the way round both sides.

6. At this point you can see the beginnings of a pom-pom :)

7. Tie a length of yarn round the middle to catch all the pom-pom strands together. Make sure it's nice and tight, do it a couple of times to be sure.

8. Now for the fun part! Open out the foldy-out arm things on both sides, then separate the white flat front and back from each other (they are held together by a pin and come apart fairly easily). Ruffle it up and ta-daaaa - a lovely squishy pom-pom :)

Back to the wreath. I used some green fabric - leftover from an old book-rack thing that bit the dust - the fabric formed pockets for the books to lay in. I cut the fabric into strips, wound it around the wreath and pinned the ends in place.

The pom-poms were also pinned in place ....

.... I had some green felt that I cut into 4 little square-heart shapes ....

 .... and gathered then together into a sort of shamrock ....

... and pinned with some ribbon to the top of my wreath ....

.... and here it is, a really simple St Patrick's Day wreath ....

Happy St Patrick's Day :)


Thursday 12 March 2015

Spring vase cosies

Today was a semi-enforced day of rest - I spent 3 hours yesterday attacking the pyracantha along the side of our house with some secateurs. It was extremely therapeutic as the sun was shining and it wasn't cold, and it was also very sociable - I chatted to a grand total of 9 neighbours, plus the postman, and a window cleaner. I love where we live, I really do :)

I found an abandoned bird's nest in the thick of things. I've taken it out so I could show the Little Peeps, and I'm going to see if school would like to have it for nature lessons or something. I hope it was okay to move it. It was sort of on its side already, and there was no evidence of eggs, or baby birds in residence, or any birds at all. I'm really hoping I haven't committed a massive ecological faux-pas. Anyway, this was the end result of my hard labour - a large pile of thorny detritus (still to be bagged up for recycling - groan) and baldy looking shrubs.

I ended up with one very shredded arm, and about a thousand splintery-thorn wounds. Some with bits left in them. I'm currently sporting plasters on 4 of my fingers. And that was with gloves on. Crap gloves, obviously. My hands, arms and shoulders were agony today, all muscle aches, scratches and the aforementioned thorny splintery bits, so I had a very decadent duvet day. I watched the last three "Call The Midwife"s (Call the Midwives ??) back-to-back and drank about 20 cups of tea. And I had a great time working on a fun little project. Despite the finger injuries.

At the start of the week I'd seen this post ( Heather of Pink Milk. Do go and pay Heather a visit, her blog is gorgeous. Heather had a picture of daffodils in groups of 4 or 5 in sweet little bottles, not dissimilar to the ones we used to get school milk in (eurgh - warm milk that had been sitting by the radiator too long anyone ??), and also not dissimilar to the ones I keep from when I splash out in the summer on Starbucks chilled coffee drinks from the supermarket (delicious but v expensive as I can drink them in one big gulp - yum). Just before reading Heather's post I'd bought some daffodils, and now I knew just what I wanted to do with them.

So today, shredded fingers and all, I decided to bling up my Starbucks bottles and steal Heather's idea (thanks Heather :). I crocheted some little teeny weeny vase cosies, more like vase bands really. I wanted to tart them up a bit and decided on some little fabric yo-yo's, and buttons, in contrasting colours.

Have you ever made a fabric yo-yo ? It's easy, and as I am a lazy-short-cutter, I'll share my super easy method with you.
(By the way making fabric yo-yos is an excellent children's first "proper" sewing project as they are really quick, easy and versatile :)

A fabric yo-yo is a little circular 3D puff of fabric. You will need:
- fabric (well, duh)
- pencil or pen or chalk
- scissors
- sewing needle
- thread
- something circular to draw round

Before we start, a few notes:
- I wanted to make yo-yo's of 4cm in diameter, but you can use the same idea for any size, just change your fabric circle size accordingly.
- use any old round thing for your template - a lid, cup, glass, bracelet, roll of tape, anything. I used the lid of the tub I keep my pins in.
- your circle template needs to be twice the diamater of the yo-yo you want to end up with.
I wanted my yo-yo's to be about 4cm in diameter so my template was about 8cm in diameter. In the picture below you can see a green yo yo that started off as a circle the same size as the yellow circle, so they really do shrink.

Let's get on with making a yo-yo shall we ....
1. Place your template on your fabric and draw it round with pencil or pen. You won't see this on the finished yo-yo edge so it doesn't matter if the pen is fadeable or not. I just used a pencil. Yes, that is a Disney Princess on my pencil. Its not mine, honest.

2. Cut out your fabric circle.

3. Turn your fabric circle wrong side up, and using your needle (obviously), join your thread to your fabric circle with a knot or a few weeny stiches over each other, either is fine, a few mm from the edge. I find weeny stitches easier than knotting a fiddly piece of thread. The old eye-sight isnt what it used to be. Or maybe my arms aren't long enough ;)

4. Sew a running stitch all around the edge of the circle, staying a few mm in from the edge. Don't worry about precision. Fancy yo-yo sew-ers will at this point turn a neat little hem and use the running stitch to secure it as they go, but as I will be putting a button in the center of my yo-yos, I don't care about the raw edge (what a rebel) so - no hemming. See, super easy.

5. When you are back round at the start of your circle DO NOT FASTEN OFF. Pull the thread so it starts to gather the circle in on itself. Sort of fiddle around easing the gathers evenly until you have pulled the circle in as tight as it will go. The bigger your running stitches were, the tighter you can get it: bigger stitches means fewer parts of the fabric pulled into the centre means less bulk of fabric in the centre means tighter bunching. Comprende?

6. Holding the gathers in place, use your needle and thread to do a few wee stitches to secure it, then attach your button, using the same thread: that's why we didn't fasten off.

You can choose which side of the yo-yo to attach the button to. If you choose the side where you can see the gathered hole (the left-hand yo-yo above), you will see all the bunching and gathering, and its quite a nice effect. If you prefer the smoother look of the other side, just attach the button to that side. Simples! Ok, but STILL DONT FASTEN OFF!

7. Now you have a button attached to your yo-yo, you can attach your yo-yo to whatever it's going to decorate. In our case, vase sleeves. You can use yo-yos for loads of things - clothing, bags, cushions, wall art, endless yo-yo fun :)
You didn't fasten off (I hope not, I told you not to ....) so you can use the same thread to now attach the button decorated yo-yo to the crocheted sleeve (or whatever).

And that's all there is to it - mini ta-daaa - some spring vase cosies, cheery or what :)

I rather suspect that I have turned the making of the most simplest thing in the world into a set of instructions with more words in that most people say in a week, but hey that's why you love me, right ?


Monday 9 March 2015


I am not a winter person. Every year I tell myself it will be different, I will enjoy the fresh bracing air, and the coming home to a warm house, and getting all crafty and cosy while its grey and cold outside. But every year I go all listless and gloomy and fed up and lose motivation for pretty much everything. However. The mornings are lighter and its around now that I feel like I am waking up, just like spring.
The weather this last week has been a lovely surprise. Feeling the sun's glorious rays always helps to lift the spirits.

Spring is arriving and there is new growth everywhere.

The first few days of my mood lifting is also a lovely surprise. I waken up and something imperceptible has changed. I can't even remember what my train of thought was, but on Monday I was pondering getting more organised and generally feeling a bit more in control off general day to day stuff when I vaguely remembered Lucy's Attic24 post ( I think I'd read it previously but not really absorbed it, you know ? Anyway the gist of Lucy's post is about using a new-fangled (ish) personal managementy type thing called Bullet Journalling ( to record calendar dates, to-do items, ideas, anything really. I won't waffle on about it here but suffice it to say it's a method that really appeals to me. Probably because it meant justifying the purchase of a nice new notebook.

When I was little I LOVED notepads. I was never happier than when I had a new notepad and new pens. The start of each school year, with all the new stationery it entailed, was pure joy. A new notepad and/or pens still has the same effect to this day, so off I trotted to find a suitable notepad for my new journalled bulleted organised life. I bagged an absolute Bargain with the notepad above. I spotted it in our local newsagents. It was marked at £7 (about $11US). £7!! For an A5 (half US letter sized) notepad! Scandalous. Argh. I tried the supermarket too. Nope, they were all just wrong. Back to the newsagents. Ummed and aahed and argued with myself, put the notebook down, picked it up, put it down, argh, it's way too expensive, oh but it's so nice, I shouldn't really, oh what the hell let's just do it. So I took it up to the till, the lady rang it up - £2. Really ? Are you sure ?? Yes! £2!!! How brilliant! I am sooooo glad I decided to get it after all the dithering. Gotta love a bargain :)

Back at home I set to the actual Getting Organised part. I spent most of the day at my desk with pens and paper and scissors and glue. I nicked Lucy's calendar sheet, I, printed it out and stuck it in. Like Lucy had done, I made up and printed out a page for just March, and stuck that in too.

I also nicked Lucy's idea of alittle mantra-y motto-y thing in the front page, so I did a quicky doodley drawing and stuck that in too. I'll never be the world's greatest artist but it makes me smile :)

Yes I know I copied all of Lucy's ideas (thanks Lucy!) but I find that I often spend so long dithering about what to do that I don't do anything, so when someone else has presented you with an excellent solution, why think of something else just for the sake of it. I'm sure Lucy won't mind :)

I did that mad thing that we list makers do. I wrote out a whole heap of tasks that I'd already got done this week, just so I could cross them off. Very pointless but also very very satisfying "look at how organised my journal has got me already :)".

There have been a couple of other lovely surprises this week too. A win at a school fundraiser raffle. You can still see my lucky raffle ticket attached. A trio of cute boxes filled with fruity smellies for a bit of pampering, lovely :)

Crocheting with normal yarn over t-shirt yarn is proving fun and surprisingly easier than expected :)

And a final surprise, I was lucky enough to win Gilly's, from gillymakes ( giveaway recently, and my lovely parcel arrived last weekend. Look how beautiful it looks, a pretty card tucked into some funky bakers' twine.

... and inside, a pack of scrumptious patriotic yarn, and a really sweet little National Trust book by Nicki Trench .....

Thankyou so much Gilly, its a fabulous prize :) I look forward to making something out of the book with my new yarn :) No, idea what yet, it will be a surprise :)