Saturday, 29 January 2011

Alice, you are from Wonderland

Hello everyone, nice to to back writing a quick post just because I want to record some of the many, special little things that Alice makes for me. She is my Wonder(land)ful girl whom I adore and each and every day I feel so privileged and blessed to be her mother and best friend xox

This week she has been rehearsing many an hour for her annual performing arts school production at the De la Warr Pavillion in mid-February. She is in Junior musical theatre and Grade 4 ballet which she loves and is looking forward to this year's production of...

I will be chaperoning for all but 1 show which we will be watching on the Wednesday night. It's hard work chaperoning but good fun and well worth getting involved behind the scenes. Her performing arts school is amazing in that everyone who attends classes can participate in the annual productions no matter what shape, size, ability you are. The only roles you have to audition for are the acting parts. It always proves to be well worth attending and thoroughly good entertainment for gloomy mid-February.

Alice and I do many things together and I am really enjoying teaching her how to knit, she is getting better with smaller needles now and even whispered to me that she is considering joining her year 5 knitting club on Wednesdays which I am secretly hoping she will ;0) You go girl!

This week when I went to my Pilate's class I got home to find that she had been using these lovely traditionally covered crayons we put in her stocking this Christmas...

I really am sentimental about my childhood and love anything retro/vintage and even though I know that Alice has moved beyond crayons onto pastels/acrylic paints/watercolours I just HAD to buy these for her stocking as they remind me of hot, hazy childhood memories and the big joy something so simple can bring!

Where was I?.... oh yes I came home to find this really sweet drawing sitting on our bed where she knew I would find it

Thank you my sweetest heart
You know me oh so well xox

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

My KNIT factor

Firstly, thank you all so much for visiting my blog and your lovely, kind comments and word of encouragement, I am so pleased to meet you all and welcome back to this new post about my KNIT factor!

Shall we start with a happy colour first...

I love it when all those first shoots appear, such promise of new life and the uncurling of hibernated life into spring. I know it's a little early, but I pine for spring to spring into action at this time every year. Amazing how vital the seasons have become in my everyday life, growing up in Durban South Africa, the seasons didn't vary very much, it just always seemed sunny, hot and humid with huge storms brewing at the end of the day to break the humidity. The weather really matters here in the UK though. I have only really started to appreciate the seasons having lived here for the last 15 years.

Now, I thought I'd share this very simple pattern link for a pair of winter fingerless mitts which I whipped up over the last 2 evenings. I have avoided knittng thumbs as I was afraid I wasn't experienced enough with knitting to work out how to do it. I also still haven't attempted knitting in the round so I was looking for a pair of mitts that were reasonably straight forward to knit and I found some here on the 'all about you ' webpage for UK magazines. This pattern was featured in the December 2010 Prima issue.

I used some of the mustard Debbie Bliss "fez" yarn left over frm making Andy's beanie and juuuuust managed to squeeze the yarn to finish these...

It's such a great feeling when you accomplish a new skill in knitting / hooking don't you think? It's not smug or proud just seems to produce endorphines I think, real feel good factor! I have decided to call it The KNIT factor as I couldn't think of how else to describe it, maybe there is an appropriate word out there amongst you more experienced knitters, please do tell if there is. Until then it's the KNIT factor for me ;o)

So if you feel like a little KNIT factor, try knitting these little babies, they are super quick, very little skill required and give you a dose of instant gratification because you can wear them soon and keep your mitts warm too xox

Mine are by no means perfect but as a first attempt I am pleased.

I hope to show you my finished granny bubblegum blanket soon and will leave you with a couple of pretty pictures taken in one of my favourite towns to visit where you can browse through all the antique and vintage shops/markets, the lovely East Sussex town of Rye, taken this last weekend.

I love the cobbled Mermaid Street and the old buckets and baskets below

Perfect for some planting and gardening

And last but not least a photo of my dearest,lovely hyacinth, what colour will you be?

I hope to visit all your blogs soon, thanks for all the inspiration and sharing. Have a marvelous week ahead xox

Friday, 21 January 2011

Bubblegum yummy yarn

It's Friday hooorrraaaaaayyy, sorry I just had to let that out... I love Friday nights, don't you? They have a different feel as you get older, in my 20's I'd usually have had some plan to go out to dinner, a drink and maybe even a boogie with friends. 

We had Alice when I was 30 and things changed somewhat(!) and now that I am 40 I just love staying in, watching a movie and knitting / hooking / stitching away with the thought of a weekend of family time, reading, walking, baking and making yummy meals, browsing charity shops and having yarn yippy ay yay moments xox

So, on to this evening's post... I wanted to share my Debbie Bliss yarn I bought in my LYS January sale a couple of week's ago. I popped in hoping there would be a HUGE sale on but much to my dismay everything looked beautifully arranged on the shelves with some pricey skeins begging "pick me, pick me" and as much as I would love to purchase a lot more yarn I just cannot afford £12-14 for 50g of beautiful yarn with rivers of silk running through them! {I think the reason why this January wasn't like her normal January sales was because of the massive leak from the flat above and closure of her shop for 3 months or so where loads of stock was destroyed}.

And then the lovely owner Fran, pointed to the corner to a medium sized ceramic bucket full of mostly Debbie Bliss DK cashmerino half price per ball wool and my heart skipped a little beat as I dived forward to see what I could find. I came away with a reasonably large stash of this colour which I love and Alice called it  "bubblegum pink" yarn

Ooooohh yummy ...

Please can I indulge you with just 1 more photo please x

It feels so soft and delicious and was less than half price at £2 per ball if you bought 10 or more!! I won't say how many I bought x {my love, Andy tells me he doesn't read my blog so this is my confessional to all you lovely people out there and now I feel amazingly less guilty about being obsessed with stashing wool here there and everywhere for those 'just in case' or 'when I plan to make this' moments - please tell me I am not the only one who does this!}

So, I have been hooking more of Alice's granny blanket which I mentioned here , since the re-opening of Fran's shop Wa Waa Wools I have promised Alice that I would get round to finishing it as I ran out of yarn and wanted to stick to Debbie Bliss colours for it. It's progressing beautifully with the DK sale yarn and soon will be complete, I thought I would give you a quick glimpse into how it's coming along.

Can you see the delicious bubblegum-ness we can see? Perfect for a 10 year old to snuggle up in xox

Wishing you all a fabulous weekend xox

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Land of ginger

Oh Happy Day to everyone. If the sun is setting hope your day was a good one and if your sun is rising many blessings and good wishes to you xox

I'm just popping in quickly to share such a lovely idea with all of you who might not buy UK Country Living magazine. It was featured in the December 2010 issue (page 128).

A country Christmas gift from the kitchen and I thought wow I must make a couple of those to give to friends but alas the time slipped by and I didn't get round to making them (maybe this year). BUT... a lovely friend {thank you C} gave me this very gift and I was over the mooooooon

It's an Angel gingerbread cookie kit!

I have attempted to make gingerbread men but they didn't turn out as expected so I never bothered again but this time was different.

All the dried ingredients of:
500g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
185g soft brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ground allspice

Were layered in an air tight jar and decorated with twine/string, a Christmas cookie cutter of your choice either angels, stars, snowflakes, trees, bells etc and a wooden spoon if you wanted and a beautifully handwritten recipe for you to follow which continues as:

Melt 100g butter and 115g syrup in a pan. Add 1 large beaten egg, then stir into the dry cookie mix to form a stiff dough. divide the dough in 2 and flatten into discs. Pop in fridge for 20 minutes to chill, roll out and stamp out your cookies. (At Christmas time you can make a hole in your cookie for threading cotton through when baked and hanging on your tree)
Bake in 180 degree C (160 degree C fan oven) Gas mark 4.

 (That oven pan looks pretty grim.... it needs to be thrown out I think, I have some brand new ones waiting in the wings bought in the January sales and Alice has sprayed waaaaaayyy too much spray and cook on the pan!!)

And then when your cookies are cooled, sprinkle with some sifted icing sugar for effect.

These four snow angels were wrapped up in some baking parchment, tied with string and given to a friend down the road with some cheery red tulips for these gloomy days xox

So, my faith has been restored in the land of ginger and judging from how quickly they are being gobbled up I think my little family agrees ;0)

Hope you think this might be a fun idea for you to try...Easter might be a good time, have a lovely colourful week xox

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Saturday morning

Hello! Good to be back on my blog again, this week has been very busy with work, Alice and Mr.A and trying to be dedicated to going to a yoga and a pilates class each week. I've never done pilates before and have now succeeded in doing a couple of classes and am really enjoying it (despite the muscle aches the next day!)

I hope you have all had busy productive mid-january week :) 

In-between all of this hive of activity some fingers have been sewing, knitting and hooking away and today I have a window of opportunity to reveal the all to you so here we go.....

Remember the man beanie post here well, I can now reveal the finished beanie to all you lovelies, I got sooooo excited knitting away when I introduced the burnt orange and mustard colour stripes as it started to resemble to original one in the little photograph of Mr. A all those years ago. So may I introduce you to my man beanie extra-ordinaire!

Sorry, I can't help feeling like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland when I see the result... it certainly felt extra-ordinaire when I gazed at what my hands had made. I don't mean to be all proud and fluff out my chest I just am amazed at how beautiful yarn, beautiful colours, a pair of needles and some hands can make such a scrummy warm beanie! and I know I can indulge with all you yarn lovers out there who feel the same with a FO.

Mr. A is equally chuffed and loves it so. I managed to persuade him to wear it for a photo... note the serious face, I think he thought this was like a "mug shot" for some awful conviction (hee hee)

and 1 more

Want to see another FO ? It's all happening here in chez L is for Love. Here's my knitted and lined bag all beautiful and finished ready for popping into my goodie bag where I stash pressies away as the year goes by and dip into when special birthdays and "just because" days appear.

So here it is

Did you see a crochet hook on the right side of the photo? It's there to point our the quirky bit about the "one strap" bag that I created.

A little open space left when I was stitching it up ... was for this reason....

The doubled up one strap on the left hand side feeds through the space on the right, is then pulled through and voila a gathered, closed up handbag! No buttons or fasteners needed! Hooray I am rather pleased with this little project.

Well, that's me for the moment, I hope you are all keeping well and enjoying the seasons wherever you may be. Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog, I just love reading your comments and of course visiting your blogs too x

Have a fab weekend and I shall leave you with a photo of our pancake making breakfast this morning. I was teaching Alice how to spread the mixture around the pan and this is what happened which made us both smile xox

A photo for the blog was called for ! See you all soon xox

Monday, 10 January 2011

Meep, minnie mouse and musings

Hello, welcome,thank you so much to all of you who visit and have a little time to send me comments and and views and advice. It's so good to meet like-minded people throughout the world and share our thoughts, ideas and life's trials and tribulations via our on-line journals.

Mr. A was most impressed when I wax lyricalled about how Alice would one day have this blog as a reference when she is older and to hopefully be entertained and amused by what her needle/hooky crazy mama got up to and the little musings I share about her and our family life. I replied ' See I'm not just wanting to hog the laptop! '. I'm not sure what happens in your home but there is sometimes a "virtual queue" here in our house with windows of opportunity to access the net when it's your turn to use the computer, it's a tough policy of you "use it or lose it"! I'm sure it won't belong for us to be exceedingly decadent and introduce laptop #2 in the next few years especially when Alice is a teenager and in high school.

Now, back to the title of this post, firstly MEEP the name that Alice called SHEEP when she was about 2 years old if I remember correctly (It's so easy when you only have 1 child to forget when their language developed in the early years, hard to think that she couldn't talk at all in the beginning of her life, when she can be a real chatterbox at times). 

Well, we went into the glorious sunnyshine yesterday into the countryside for a long walk and country pub lunch and came across these lovely MEEP...

I felt big love for these MEEP as I now, oh so very much want to say a big thank you to all those woolly MEEP out there who provide the likes of me with woolly skeins and balls to knit and hook with.

So, this evening I am paying homage to these very character-full MEEP we saw yesterday. They were rather amusing and made us smile when they ran up to us, left enough distance to be wary of us and then turn around when they realised we were not the farmer with food xox 

One more photo 'cause I love them so

How was your Sunday? I hope it was a lovely relaxing one and for those of us who had the deepest joy of the H.E.A.T. of sunshine on our skins I really hope you embraced it as we tried to.

Saturday brought, loads of housework, sorting out for charity shops after Christmas, out with the old in with the new and a new freezer for us which is lovely but I really didn't get a kick out of defrosting the old one!

Alice had a movie party to go to and we did some pretty wrapping for her friend Millie, she could not resist choosing the jars of candy wrapping paper from a local shop for wrapping Millie's pressies up in...

It was a dressing up as a movie character party and so Alice went as a very sweet Minnie Mouse, she wanted to go as Alice in Wonderland but the birthday girl had bagged that one already and we only had a Minnie mouse outfit left in her dressing up box, which she has outgrown really, so I guess this might be the last time she dips into her dressing up box from her last 10 years. Sad really, we have had many a happy moment with playing dress up over the years.

Meanwhile, I spent the afternoon reading the 2nd book in the Millenium series (I can't put these books down!)

Enjoying my first bought tulips of the year

Sometimes, I just want to climb into these beauties x

And a little more knitting on my man beanie (I'm half way through the pattern and am loving knitting it, each stitch made with love for my love) and sewing the inside lining of my knitted bag. This was a brand new experience for me, one I truly was not looking forward to but knew it HAD to be done to re-enforce the bag for carrying my bits and bobs. I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed the process, found it quite relaxing and a real sense of achievement when finishing it, I promise to reveal the finished bag soon.

The lining is quite bright and cheerful looking and some might say clashes with the yarn colours but it just felt right when I chose it from my stash and that's all I can say. I have never been one for mixing and matching too perfectly, I quite like unusual colour combinations and it will just give the bag a little more character I think.

Ok lovely people, I must get me-a-cookin-my-veggie cannelloni for my hungry family. Hope to visit you all soon, have a superb week ahead xox

Thursday, 6 January 2011

I don't have the blues I've got the greys!

Hello everyone, I've been meaning to do a new post for a couple of days now but this dreary, dull, grey weather is relentless and I am in some serious need of bright warm sunshine.

Before Alice was born I had the luxury of an annual trip back to my homeland of South Africa where I could get away from the grey January UK days but alas it's been a good 4 years since I flew back (Alice was 5 1/2 since we last went back) and I am dreaming of the bank balance this time next year taking us on a trip southwards....

South Africa is truly a beautiful country which I miss dearly at times

A few years ago we didn't see the sun for at least 3 weeks and I ended up making a papier mache sunshine which Alice and I painted with the brightest yellow we could find. Not sure what happened to it but it was good colour therapy at the time ;0)

Anyway, lets not dwell on the negative, I think I've just been feeling super frustrated with not having any light to take photo's for my blog and then I remembered that I had photographed this a couple of weeks ago when we had a momentary beam of light. It's a photo of the yarn Mr.A and I bought on a very rare (for him that is!! hee hee) trip to my LYS to choose colours for his man beanie I plan to knit and so here they are... 

And there he is when I first met him in 1996, he had shoulder length hair, usually tied back and on winter days his head was warmed with the beanie he is wearing. Oh yes a man and his beanie what more can I say? The very sad thing is that he LOVED this beanie sooooo much and then one day it was LOST and has been mourned for the past 10 years or so :0(
So, me with my new found knitting prowess decided it was time for me to take on the task of the return of the man beanie for Mr. A and knit away with the intention of semi-replicating the one he lost all those years ago with this yarn

I think the colours are very close to the original one and the yarn is Debbie Bliss and another merino variety for the grey (sorry can't find the label to tell you which one it is). It feels very soft and cosy and I have cast on the 150 stitches and started with the ribbing. The truth of the matter is that I am a wee bit nervous as I fear that the longing for the original man beanie might cast a shadow over this one.... I have been reassured by my beloved this will not be the case! I will share it with all of you lovelies out there in the land of blog and see what you think.

Do you like the Carrol Boyes lead free pewter frame I have hugged him in?

Carrol Boyes is an amazing South African Artist who sells all her incredible pewter and stainless steel hand-made products throughout the world. I have a few of her prized pieces I have collected over the years and just love them. See more of her beauties on the link to her web page.

So, as soon as we have some sunny shine here I hope to photograph my finished knitted bag and some other bits and bobs. Until then I wish you all beams of happy light xox

Monday, 3 January 2011

It's a new year and oh yes someone important's birthday

Hello everyone, thank you all so much for popping in, wishing us well over Christmas and happiness and memorable times for 2011. I don't know about you, but for the first time in a while we seem to have had a "seamless" and smooth festive season, other than the odd cough/cold, we had no upsets, family squabbles and drama. It has been a good time of reflection, prayer, family here in the UK and abroad, some present opening, a few January sales bargains and just chilling ;0) around the house.

I even managed to stay up till mid-night on New Year's Eve and had a little Babycham glass of this bubbly

It's most unusual for me to stay up till mid-night, I usually make a point of avoiding the clock striking 12, not sure why, I think it might be linked to my mum not particularly liking new years eve.

And then when we woke up we remembered that a certain Mr. A had turned 40 on 1/1/11 and so some baking needed to be done

Little Miss. Alice chose her all time favourite malteser chocolate cake made with lashings of butter, horlicks and eggs from Nigella Lawsons book Feast...

{If you have a beady eye you may have been able to spot all the page crinkling, spoiling and use of this page which has been used on many a happy birthday cake making}

So we did some-a-mixing

 and eventually iced and decorated a malteser... oops who ate all the maltesers last night? Oh dear it has to be minstrels decorated cake instead

Not quite as perfect as Nigella's cake but it was altogether a happy birthday and a happy new year to Mr.A and all who embraced the very rich and dense chocolate cake xox

Meanwhile, despite the grey, dullness outside and lack of beautiful sunshine this was being considered

My little knitted handbag creation...

Something I've been creating over the festive season which now needs a pretty lining before completely revealing to all of you lovelies.

So here's wishing you all a slightly belated but beautiful, sparkly, creative and memorable 2011. Look forward to all your lovely creations and inspiration over this coming year xox