Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Missed yesterday, as I was feeling too delicate - not hungover, but full of cold and feeling sorry for myself.

It's not a very good photo, but I like it for the look between the monsters.

Slightly blurred, poor quality portraits of my children once a week, every week, in 2014.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Grasshopper Pie

Nigella Lawson is an amazing person, if only for her recipe for Grasshopper Pie.  Not being much of a food obsessive, I hadn't really explored the darker side of American cooking, mostly sticking to burgers and chocolate chip cookies, plus, you know, the whole "not wanting to be any bigger than I already am" thing.  Any recipe that has bourbon biscuits, double cream, 150g of marshmallows and full fat milk is not going to have slimming properties, but is bound to taste absolutely amazing.  It's Simon's party tonight, and we need cake, so I thought that something green and utterly delicious would be suitable.

The recipe calls for Creme de Menthe, and as a lady of class and distinction, I found that I do not own any Creme de Menthe.  Fortunately there is an amazing treasure trove of an off-licence locally, opposite our local fabric shop, so hurrah, now my cocktail cupboard is complete.

It's a very easy recipe, with lots of stress busting smashing bourbon biscuits with rolling pins, and about a bucket and a half of green food colouring (wheeee!); but the bloody thing takes hours to set in the fridge, so be aware if you are on a deadline.

Tastes and looks amazing, but so, so rich.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Half Term Madness

This past week has been a blur of trips, swimming, dinosaurs, plants, haircuts, going to play at other people's houses, having friends round, raisins stuck up noses, mess, chaos, painting and excitement.

Half term holidays used to be so relaxing; lazing around at home while everyone else was working, but now I have school age children, it is a very hard week indeed.  I am actually looking forward to going back to work next week.

Sort of.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

WIP Wednesday

I'm having a bit of a deep red phase at the moment, wanting to use up the monstrous stash; the wool was bought for this pattern about 4 years ago, and has sat around for absolutely ages.  I used some of it to make the not Blue Bluebell Sweater, which I finished off, and made smaller a few weeks ago, and should still have enough to finish off this jumper.  I might need to send to America to get some more, as Lamb's Pride Worsted is not available in this country.  Thank goodness for the internet.

I've found the pattern really quite insanely complicated, which is probably my inexperience with cables, and a fairly steep learning curve.  I've more or less come to the end of the very difficult bit, and I'm going to split for the arms in a bit, then put it to one side for a while.  It's starting to get a bit warm for this amount of wool; it's jolly thick.

I've ordered a whole bunch of Cascade in Peacock, and I want to make two new jumpers, and then there are the thousands of WIPs still to plough through.  

Gin, anyone?

The List:

Wisteria - going well
Idlewood - next in the queue
Blue and Grey Socks - one sock done; casting on second sock before next Friday, as I want to knit it during my biannual haircut
Elephant blanket - one stripe made. Second stripe nearly finished. For Hattie's birthday
Peacock Mittens - one finished, bar the thumb (still)
Ringo and Elwood mittens - still queued

Owl Blanket - finished and done
Paper Dolls - finished and done
Peerie Flooers - finished and done
Alphabet Blanket for Noah - done
Granny's a Square Afghan - done

Hexipuff Quilt - 147/500 hexipuffs done
The Weather in the Streets - 40/400 squares done 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Something Something Tuesday

Lots happening here.  It's half term, so we've been swimming, to Kew Gardens, into central London, had haircuts, been to the library, and we're all exhausted.  Generally, the girls have been really great; even Hattie, who is being mostly quite challenging.  Running away in the Natural History Museum was a delightful moment; as was being told that actually what she liked best about today was playing at home with her toys.  Dinosaurs, apparently, are "YUK".  My angel, ladies and gentlemen.

We chose a huge selection of books at the library today.  Lucy chose Princess Poppy and the Fair Day Ball, Penny the Pony Fairy and Sky the Blue Fairy.  There are approximately 1 billion Rainbow Magic Fairy stories and THEY ARE ALL THE SAME.  Hattie chose a First Picture Book of Playground Games, which is an odd choice.  I have Bones under the Beach Hut, Happy Kids (a self help book), Instructions for a Heatwave; The Prisoner of Heaven and Various Pets Alive & Dead.  Three of these are 2 week loan books, which seems rash.

I'm attempting to read 52 books in 2014; so far I have managed 4 and a half.  Admittedly, one of these was The Goldfinch, which is seriously long and seriously dense, but it still doesn't seem that impressive.   The current book is the fabulously titled "Sara Gay - Model Girl", a book from the 60s about training as a model, and I love it.  It is silly, frothy and very much of its time; it feels like a very innocent book - a sort of Malory Towers for slightly older girls.  I'll have finished it tonight.

SPOILER: The Goldfinch was really very good indeed, even though the ending was confused; poor Theo seemed so out of it and disconnected from reality by then, no wonder it felt a bit of a blur.  I can only hope that he gets his life back on track - I know he's not real, but he's real to me, and after all we'd been through together, I only want the best for him.

A slightly longer review than I normally bother with; but no more incisive for it.

A picture from half term:

Kew Gardens, admiring the orchids.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Handmade Monday

At the tail end of last year, one of the members of the crochet groups on Facebook put up a picture of her weather blanket.  I'm not sure if I can link to it, but it's here, if you can see it.  It's very lovely, with its days of sunshine, rain, dreich and snow, so magpie that I am, I had to have one of my own.  Hurrah.  Of course, it has to be slightly different from the one in the picture, and have special days marked in, especially as we have some very special days this year, what with one thing and another.

Here are my January squares:

Blue is for rain.  Grey is for, well, grey.  Purple is for bank holidays.  Turquoise is for cold days.  Yellow is for sunny days.  I make a judgement at the end of the day based on the overall weather, so a rainy day with some sun is still a rainy day, and a grey day with some rain is still a grey day.  

I'm trying to sew them together as I go along.  I should probably block what I've already sewn together as it's a bit, well, crappy looking at the moment.  It should be 20 squares by 20 rows in the end, so 400 squares in total.  I feel a bit weird thinking of it like that, but actually I can't be any farther forward with it than I am, and keeping the record means I can go back to it as I feel like it. 

For those interested:

Red will be for birthdays - Simon, Granny, Grandpa, Tim, Lucy, Grandad, me, Jane, Hattie
Pink is for Valentine's Day
Dark blue will be for religious holidays - Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Easter (3), Christmas, Boxing Day
White for snow
Pale yellow for the Solstices
Baby Blue for my nephew's birthday

Those, plus 365 days, will make 400 days, and 400 squares. 

One way or another, it will be finished in January 2015.  And bordered.  *cries*

Sunday, 16 February 2014


Portraits of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.

We went to Wisley today, an RHS garden in Surrey, mainly to see the butterflies that are living in the glasshouse.  As butterflies go, there were not enough of them to the cubic metre, but the ones that were there were pretty and we saw some up close and personal.

It's been the first sunny day in what feels like weeks, but is actually only about 10 days.  We made the most of it, dining al fresco in coats and all that.  What is about the British?  Make hay while the sun shines and all that, and really, when the wind dropped and the sun was out, it was very pleasant outside.  Briefly.

Lucy, in a willow hut contraption in the teaching garden, a rare unposed shot.

Hattie looking for stones to feed to the fish.  There is nothing else to say about this.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Two finished objects in one day

And it's Hattie's Owl Blanket.  Finally finished after about a year.

I started it last January, then put it aside as, obviously, starting a blanket in January for a birthday in December meant that I had bags of time.  Of course, December rolled around and it wasn't finished, despite a last minute desperate push in late November.  

60 owls is a lot of owls.  

And each one is really quite fiddly.

Still, it's done now, and has a lovely bright pink border chosen by Hattie, and I've already started her 4th birthday blanket - tonnes of time...

For those interested:  the pattern is from Repeat Crafter Me, and you can find it here.  Like most of my crocheted blankets, the yarn is from all over the place, mostly using up bits and bobs.

The List:

Wisteria - yoke almost done, about to start on the body
Blue and Grey Socks - one sock done.  Still.  Knit yourself.
Elephant blanket - one stripe made. Second stripe still nearly finished. This will be Hattie's 4th birthday blanket.
Peacock Mittens - one finished, bar the thumb (still)
Idlewood - still yarn but next to start, once I've finished the thumb on those sodding mittens
Ringo and Elwood mittens - nyeh
Hexipuff Quilt - lots more to go, but I'm not really counting it

Owl Blanket - DONE

Paper Dolls - DONE
Peerie Flooers - DONE
Alphabet Blanket for Noah - DONE
Granny's a Square Afghan - DONE

Monday, 10 February 2014

Handmade Monday

I made a dress.  A real one out of fabric, using a tissue pattern, and cutting and buggering around with it in regard to length, facings, armscyes and darts.  It's got bias binding around the armholes, and six back darts, and facings around the neckline, and red topstitching and every thing. I'm very proud of it.

It started off like this, with a lot of cheesecloth and a pair of scissors.

This turned into a toile.

The toile didn't fit at all across the back.  It fitted at the bust, at the waist, on the sides, but it didn't even meet up across the back. Even given that it would have a zip, it was utterly hopeless.  So I winged it by retracing the pattern onto newspaper, only a bit bigger, and putting in the darts and everything as I went along.  

I actually made the bulk of the dress a few weeks ago, but didn't finish it, as I didn't really understand how to do the facings and the rest of it, so put it in the cupboard until yesterday.  I then spent absolutely ages putting the facings in, ripping them out, putting them in and then screaming.  A bit of Courtney Love later, and I had a brainwave, and just put bias binding around the armholes.  It shows a bit, but I think it looks good.  

The zip didn't meet properly at the top, but I DON'T CARE, so I put a button and some bias binding at the gap at the top, and ta dah, now it fits just fine.  The button is mostly decorative, but I'll put a loop in at some point.  I have to take it off to do that, and I don't want to.

You can see that it needs a bit of surgery around the armhole to stop gaping.  But, you know, see above.  That is caused by the whole "winging it with the back of the pattern" but never mind, it fits just fine, and I love, love, love it.

The best thing for body image wibbles is making your own clothes.  This dress will fit ME, there is no question of me slimming down for it.  Clothes.  Know your place.

I've been doing a "Sew-a-long" with Rosie Wednesday, details here.  It's been a steep but utterly brilliant learning curve, and I've already cut out and made the front of a second dress.  Hurrah for Simplicity 3833, and all who sail in her.

Simplicity 3833 Sew Along

Sunday, 9 February 2014


Party girls having a super time.  Although Lucy saw me snapping the picture and in the next one, pulled a tragic face and looked as if she was having the worst possible time ever.

Harley and Freyja's dinosaurs and fairies party.  Lucy is a stegosaurus; I think you can see the spines on her back, and Hattie is a Dorothy fairy.  I have no idea.

I'm very pleased with this stegosaurus costume, I ran it up in front of the TV on Friday, and she's barely taken it off since.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

4/52 and 5/52

I missed these two days.  I took a couple of pictures, but the strain of getting them off the iphone and onto the computer just seemed overwhelming.

Week 4:

Whenever I take Lucy to ballet, I think of this picture, and others like it.

That is what a superlative education in the arts will do for you.  Hem. It's not the best career path for her, but she enjoys ballet at the moment.  It's also not the greatest photo either.

Hattie in full on contemplative mode.  Or watching Peppa sodding Pig, in recompense for having to have her hair brushed and put into pigtails, you decide.

Week 5:

I took Laura to the pub with Lucy and Hattie.  We had a lovely evening.

Hattie is so photogenic.  And the photo is actually quite well staged.  For a change.  Wow.  Anyone would think I did more than point and click.

Portraits of the children once a week, every week, in 2014.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

WIP Wednesday

Yesterday, I spent about twenty five minutes sorting the fabric stash, while the girls were in the bath.  Don't all ring Social Services at once, the fabric stash is housed next door to the bathroom, and both girls know not to go under water unless I am there.  Anyway, I have discovered that I have A LOT of fabric, especially fleece, in various pale pink, blue and white shades.  I also have a "quilt" that I started making for Lucy about 2 years ago, and then put away as it was too annoying for words, hand sewing all those raindrops.

Rainbows.  The idea came from Chloe Owens, via Mollie Makes.  Her mini quilt is lovely, and I made one a bit like it for Hattie.  

I suspect I wanted something a bit more bold for Lucy.

Something that a "big girl" would want on her bed.

Something that desperately needs an iron.  

I have now appliqued the raindrops and the cloud, and now I need to put a fleece back on it and bias bind the edges.  Do I have enough fleece backing for this project?  Do I heck.  

My credit card is on fire.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Radio silence

Oh blimey, what a long period of silence.  I found the last few days of January utterly depressing and uninspiring, and the beginning of February isn't much better.  I couldn't think of 13 ways of saying "I'm tired/overworked/fed up/bored by the rain", so I stopped talking for a bit.

I've got some photos for my project that I will slot in at some point, and I've made some baby grows and a dress and a bunch of crocheted owls, but apart from that, everything is just the same as it was.


I might go for a WIP Wednesday tomorrow, who knows?