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Showing posts from November, 2012

A Felt Gingerbread House

Ta-da! Welcome to my slightly over the top, kitsch, bordering-on-tasteless felt gingerbread house.
I'm not even going to pretend I made this for, or with, the children. It was all for me. Greedy crafting. I made it over Saturday and Sunday evenings when they were tucked up in bed. I couldn't let them near the glue gun, you see. Too dangerous. Also, they might mess up my bobble trim and button arrangement. 
I'm sorry, but I love it. I really do. It makes me happy just to look at it. I don't have a very good track record with proper, edible gingerbread houses so this was much more satisfying to make. And I can get it out year after year.
I have put together a tutorial below should you fancy making your own. It's the best sort of crafting - minimum effort for maximum effect.
You will need:
One cardboard box plus some extra cardboard. The sort of box that deliveries come in works best, rather than trying to make a template. Min…

52 Weeks of Happy...7/52

Hello everyone! Happy Tuesday. It is cold and wet here and much of the UK seems to be under water. It's all rather depressing, so thank goodness for 52 Weeks of Happy to keep me smiling. Thank you for the response to my Christmas Stocking post, I so enjoyed reading about all your different traditions and rituals. I had a little flicker of excitement in my tummy yesterday when I went up into the loft to dig out the advent calendar...not long now!
Firstly, my photos - I'm sorry. It's very, very gloomy. Sunlight is scarce and proper daylight only seems to be between 9am and 3pm, and this is reflected in my pictures. So, joining in with the lovely Jen at little birdie, here are my current (and poorly photographed) happy things:

1. Angus made this tealight candle holder at nursery (they have been learning about Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights) and he gave it to me yesterday. It is perfect.
2. Reading The Cat In The Hat with Bella. Her reading is coming along so well and she i…

An Easy-Peasy Christmas Stocking

It's true, we can no longer escape the fact - Christmas is coming! 
Here is a quick and easy Christmas project for you; you don't need a sewing machine, you don't need to spend much money, and you could make this in an evening if you put your mind to it. I know it's not December yet, but I know we're all busy and we have to plan ahead with our Christmas crafting.*
Hanging a stocking on Christmas Eve, ready for Father Christmas/Santa to fill with gifts and treats, is a huge part of a child's Christmas here in the UK.  Do you hang stockings in your house? Or a pillowcase? Over the fireplace or at the foot of the bed? I always love to know what traditions other families, and indeed other countries, have for celebrating Christmas.

In our house, the stockings are hung on the fireplace throughout December, then on Christmas Eve they are taken upstairs and hung on the foot of the children's beds. We fill them with small presents, n…

Thrifty Wall Art

I know, I know, it's not original. But it's so pretty!
I've seen fabric framed in embroidery hoops like this everywhere in blogland, on Pinterest, in magazines, and it's popularity lies in it's simplicity and thriftiness. We needed some colour above the sofa in the living room. Grey walls, grey's was all getting a bit dismal in the cool November light. I bought small amounts of fabric from Liberty and John Lewis and aimed for a slightly fifties, retro feel to tie in with the room and our tastes. I don't have the deep pockets to buy metres and metres of expensive fabric, but I'm good at buying a fiver's worth and making it go a really long way.
It's not finished. I will add to it over time and let it just grow organically, like a great big happy fabric tree, but I just wanted to show you today.

You just need to carefully cut your fabric to about 1 inch or 3 cm more than your hoop size. Once it's in the frame and you've tightened it…

A Very Rainy Trip to the Farm

I'd arranged to meet up with my very good friend Debora this morning. She recently moved away to Sheffield so we chose a meeting place half way between Sheffield and Leeds, a farm we'd both been to before with a fantastic playground, cafe, lots to see and do. A place I'd been before (in the summer). Today it was bitterly cold and poured with rain all day. We were the only people in the farm. The cafe was full of older people enjoying tea and cake and sensibly staying inside.
Angus was thrilled to see Debora's youngest son Alex, his little playmate, and they ran around and chattered and screamed and jumped in puddles. They climbed a bit on the wet playground equipment and looked at all the animals and the highlight of the morning was when a tractor drove by and the driver waved at them both. 
Of course we were soaking wet and freezing, but seeing how they loved it did make it bearable. More than bearable. A really lovely day.

52 Weeks of Happy...6/52

Hello there!
I hope you are all well. Joining in with Jen over at little birdie, here are this week's happy things: 
Completing the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k race on Sunday in under an hour, and 7 minutes faster than last year. Woop! Thank you so much for all your support and good wishes for the race, they really meant a lot to me. Clean sheets. Heaven. I don't get to lie in anymore so I have to go to bed early with books and magazines and luxuriate among smooth sheets, plump pillows and soft quilts.The Christmas magazines. I love them. CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!!Season three of Danish crime drama The Killing started on BBC4 last weekend; we have just watched the second episode. It is superb.Another small happy which I'll sneak in is the text I received from John this evening, sent around 6 pm while he was on the train: "Do you fancy getting payday takeaway tonight? Beer, pizza and The Killing?" Yes. Yes I did. And that is exactly what we did.

Jean's Chocolate Cake

All that crafting and stitching, phew, it really takes it out of me. I need cake. 
I'm a bit odd in that I don't really like chocolate cake that much. It's sad, I know. I'm coming to terms with it. Especially not the really rich, chocolatey sort. I find them bitter and dry and bit cloying. But this cake is not overly chocolatey, just chocolatey enough. 
Jean, my mother-in-law, gave me this recipe recently. I tasted her cake and pestered her shamelessly until she kindly wrote it out for me. The original recipe is pictured above; it was given to her by a colleague many years ago and I love the way it is stained with years of use. I do love it when a recipe comes with some history and a bit of a story. The use of oil rather than butter makes for a very moist cake and the separation of the eggs makes it extra light and fluffy. My icing is just a buttercream with some cocoa and nutella added but if you wanted a frosting more, well, chocolatey, you could make something really …

T-shirts and Tea Towels and Sachets, Oh My!

You were all so nice about the bags I made. Thank you.

Can I show you some of the other bits and bobs I made? I have t-shirts for girls and boys. They are bought from the supermarket or online, then perked up with some motifs. The dog and racing car designs are by Cath Kidston, all the others are mine. My absolute favourite is the Liberty print apple on the teal blue background. The photograph doesn't do the colours justice. If it doesn't sell I will give it to Bella. If it does sell, I will make her one anyway. Angus love the fire engine design and, if a three year old could be said to be dropping hints, he is definitely dropping hints ("My like this one. This one for Angus?").
I made some more tea towels, very quick and easy on simple cotton. Tea towels to be used and washed hundreds of times, to get faded and stained and become part of the kitchen.
Lavender sachets..remember the lavender the kids and I picked from the garden back in October? As planned we dried it an…

Some Bunting Bags (Mollie Make Magazine)

I promised I would show you my latest make from Mollie Makes magazine, and here it is...bunting bags. Trying as I am to make one thing from each issue (I am running about five issues behind at the moment, but anyway, moving on...) this little bunting design caught my eye. The pattern is intended for a summer skirt, something to be worn at jubilee fairs and the like, but I thought it would look sweet on a plain calico bag. I'll be honest - it was a bit of a fiddle. Projects like this remind me why I love to hand sew rather than sit hunched over a sewing machine. Tense does not begin to describe my posture while making these tiny flags. But they do look pretty and flap very nicely.
And they inspired me to make some quick and easy applique bunting bags, just perfect for an evening of light sewing in front of the television.

I am hoping to sell these at the craft fairs I mentioned. Any that don't sell will go into the  emergency present drawer. 
I also made eight little bags for smal…

52 Weeks of Happy...5/52

Hello there! Thank you so, SO much for your comments on my poppies post. I loved hearing your stories. So many of our families are touched by war and we all have our stories and heroes. And hello to my two new followers, you are very welcome!

Well, it's Tuesday, so joining in with Jen at little birdie here are the little things making me happy lately: Angus the gardener helped my Dad in the garden - don't you just love his pink wheelbarrow? He spent hours testing my Dad's patience to the absolute limit by asking "What doing? What doing? What doing now?" every thirty seconds.Pretty retro fabric.Holly berries on the tree...CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!!Happy children, wellie boots, fresh air, fallen leaves...I love autumn.We had a really lovely weekend. My parents came to stay and we did a lot of cooking and eating and, judging by the weight of the recycling bin, drank rather a lot of wine too. I managed to get some last minute crafting done ready for my first craft fair on …


I wear my poppy* for lots of reasons but mostly because it makes me think of my Grandpa**. He died almost five years ago, when Bella was one. Of course I don't need a poppy to think of him - I think of him very often. We have photographs of him around the house and he is always alive in family conversations and memories. But I deliberately buy and wear a poppy every November; it is my way of honouring him. Like many men his age he fought in World War 2. A navigator in the Royal Air Force, his plane was shot down into the sea of the French coast. He and his pilot were rescued by French fisherman then handed over to the Germans. He was then marched, with others, across Europe to Poland where he spent the remainder of the war in a prisoner of war camp. He endured things I can only begin to imagine and his war experienced shaped him in numerous ways. Some he talked about, some he didn't.
I don't talk about politics much here - it's a very personal and divisive issue. But I …

My Rainy Day Scarf

Well hello! I have a little project to show you today - a very colourful crocheted granny square scarf.
This project was born of my need (and yes it was a need!) for a really super-bright scarf to wear with my black raincoat, bought on a cold and wet day in July in the summer sales. It was supposed to be ready for autumn as it's not really a snuggly cold weather scarf, but I don't appear to crochet fast enough. I chose cotton yarn (so that you don't get that wet wool smell) and made it very long. I really like crocheting in a limited colour palate - I think it shows off the simplicity of the stitches better. This scarf is made up of black, white, grey and hot pink yarn. The pink looks salmon in some shots and orange in others (I blame that November light, not my lack of photography skills), but trust me, it is the most glorious hot, hot pink.
This is my second foray into the world of crocheted scarves, inspired by this one I mad over the summer for a friend. I changed a few …

Good, Good Things

Thank you so much for all your warm wishes and kind words after my last post. You really are such a lovely lot. Angus is quite better (bouncing off the walls, in fact) and, while not sleeping completely through the night as he usually does, is not waking hourly any more. Really, I do take for granted that my two sleep well, and when they stop I just can't cope.
Despite the illness and lack of sleep and general hectic-ness, it's been a very nice week. Some good things that stand out are...
These stunning muffatees I won in a giveaway recenty, knitted by Annie of knitsofacto. Thank you Annie - they are comfortable and warm and complimented upon daily. I modeled them and Angus modeled them, but still we could not take a photograph of them anywhere near as good as yours.    
Cheap supermarket roses in my pretty new bud vases bought in the Tate Britain gift shop are brightening up my sideboard and my mood.

More blog giveaway goodness, from Ellie of Feltabulous; a really beautiful macra…