Friday, 17 April 2015

Pretty Me & Make Me ~ February Ta Dah!!!!

Firstly, thank you so much for your kind, supportive and genuinely lovely messages of support in response to a recent post regarding my ongoing challenges with my health.  I'm now 8 weeks in to a new medicine regime which takes 12 weeks to feel the full benefit so I am very hopeful for the future.  This combined with strictly following a dairy, gluten, meat and added sugar elimination diet sees my spirits raised (which always helps coping with these challenges).  After the news that my immune system was not only attacking my joints and muscles but also damaging my liver and kidneys I was willing to do anything to bring some relief!  Anyhow, the steroids, medicine and special diet have seemed to have a calming effect and I'm super happy with that.  Your lovely messages though really help during such a difficult time.
So back to the matter in hand - the Games Trunk!  It has been completed for a good few weeks but I wanted to have my mitts finished to do a full February Ta Dah post!

So without further delay let me share with you my Pretty Me Ta Dah!

This was a really easy and straight forward upcycle.  A quick clean and wipe out with bleach solution and the trunk was ready for its new coat.   I used Annie Sloan paint (which I had in the shed) to smarten the outside up and to enable it to suit our lounge decor more effectively.

I then patched the damaged section of the lid with gaffa tape and initially used an off cut of wallpaper to cover this over.  Unfortunately the wallpaper crinkled and showed too much of the damaged surface underneath and so I was forced to think of an alternative...  In my offcuts I found this toning piece of oilcloth - literally the perfect size to cover the lid.  I think it works well and I simply attached it with double sided tape.

The inside of the trunk was given a fresh coat of lining paper - some Cath Kidston blue star paper I had from a long time ago!!  This gave a really smart and practical finish to the trunk, which on reflection was a very frugal upcycle!!!

The AFTER picture was taken while the glue was still wet so the paper shrunk back even better once completely dry.  Saved from land fill and functional once more.  Happy Days.

As for my Make Me Project - these gorgeous mitts.  I absolutely loved making them - my delay in finishing them was partly due to me putting them aside in favour of making progress on my Target Squares blanket (as I was participating in Sandra's Blanket Along).  This week I decided to bite the bullet and complete the final bits of the mitt pattern.  So finally, I managed to finish the edging and sew on the buttons.

The blanket was a really pleasant distraction although I've proven that I really can only work on one crochet project at a time.  Whilst I may have great plans to work on both projects, something inherent in me is all or nothing - one or the other.  I must say finishing these mitts was a great reward though.

I absolutely love them - they are my favourite colours and due to my complete LoVE of buttons they suit me perfectly.

I continue to make progress (albeit very slow progress) on my long list of projects to make / pretty and do hope you enjoyed seeing these finished items.  I can't wait to share my next projects with you.

J9 x

P.S - I really appreciate all you lovely readers and especially love to hear from you.  Unfortunately at present, I have such limited time on line that I am failing to comment / keep up to date on many of your lovely blog posts.  I do tend to binge read weekly when I get a moment but time / laptop availability seems to be a continuing issue.  Please know that I love following your blogs and am a silent witness to many of your achievements but value you sharing them none the less.  Blessings, x 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Nearly There...

It is the hottest day in England so far this year - perfect for finishing a pair of lovely Stripey Mitts!?! I started these some time ago and had wanted to make them for ages.  I actually crocheted the stripes that were needed fairly quickly... then they were put back into my basket in favour of my Coastal Target Squares Blanket while I joined in the Crochet Along.

Time passed.  I procrastinated....  I decided yesterday that at least one of my WIPs had to be made into a finished item and so the mitts were retrieved from their basket where they had been patiently waiting.

In hindsight I delayed because I was a little intimidated by the button edging and thumb hole completion.  I needn't have worried!  Of course, the wonderful Sandra of Cherry Heart had written the tutorial so thoroughly that I felt guided through these slightly wriggly and tighter stitches.

They are nearly complete.  I am on the final step of choosing the buttons to fasten the sides together.

Ooooh decisions, decisions.  How I love buttons.  This is such a nostalgic joy for me.  I remember loving my Mother's big button tin as a child and sorting through the piles to select the perfect one.

I decided to go with odd buttons and just chose various shades of blue, grey and white initially.  Then I passed a happy half hour playing with button placement and choice.

Until the final choice gave complete satisfaction.

I'm off to sew these lovelies on.  They'll have a Ta Dah moment later this week.

I hope you are enjoying a few moments of happiness this fine day and I will be shortly wearing my Mitts even though it's nearly 20 degrees outside!!!  Take care,
J9 x

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Easter Goodiness & A Wish for You

Happy Good Friday to you!!

It's the Easter weekend and a big birthday weekend for us.  The past week of the Easter school holidays has passed way too quickly and in an effort to stop and savour some of those precious moments I thought I would share some of our Easter decorations / preparations with you.

#1  The Oh-So-Necessary creation of Chocolate Nests!

These are so quick and easy to make - and a favourite Easter treat in many houses across the world I'm sure.  Little Lady had a corn flake and chocolate mix while Little Man had mashed up shredded wheat, chopped hazelnuts and chocolate chips in his mix.

The only tricky bit with these is always to get the chocolate spread across the entire bowl contents before the chocolate sets.  Hmmmm.

Also, Little Lady completed her nests first and initially had 3 mini eggs nestled in each chocolate case.  I had only purchased a single bag (just why are mini eggs so expensive- or is that just my opinion?)  With a little discussion and strong encouragement we managed to achieve a single egg in each nest so that no little chocolate nest was eggless.  Despite the rationing, they still tasted great, were plenty in terms of sugary naughtiness and one bag made it's way across 24 nests (result).

A rare photo of me - and yes, the kiddos are still in their PJ's!!!  It's a hard life eh?

#2  The Easter Tree

Apologies for the quality of photo - the light when I took this was appalling but you get the idea!

#3  Spring Flowers

I managed to get this set of grape hyacinths for 50p and the hyacinths in the above photo in their basket for £3 at our local garden centre.  They were reduced as they were considered to have 'gone over' even though they were just in bud.  It was my gain anyway.  I have been lucky enough to have hyacinths in my house since early March - always three bulbs at a time purchased ready planted and always reduced!  The combined scent and flowers have provided many moments of happiness for me.

#4  Homemade Easter Cakes

This sponge cake was a combined creative effort between myself and Little Lady.  One night while the boys were at football practice, she and I sat and did a tad of sugar crafting.   We chuckled while we mixed up the fondant icing colours and talked about our overall plan for the cake.  I had previously pinned a cake with a bunny going into the side (like a burrow) on my Easter pinterest board and thought it would be quite easy to recreate (obviously in a more amateur fashion!).  Little Lady moulded the chick on top and I put the Bunny bottom together!

We also made the shards of grass, flowers and the chick cupcake toppers (in the photo above this one) on the same evening.  It was really enjoyable to spend this bit of time chatting and making with each other.

I made the sponge and assembled the bits together this afternoon - the icing had dried out so it was more solid to work with and the cake would still be fresh when cut tomorrow.  When Little Man saw it he announced "Wow, that cake will taste GREEN!"  Not quite sure if that's a good thing?

It is the Hubby's birthday tomorrow (Easter Sunday) so it's a cake to celebrate both occasions.  My birthday is Tuesday so it's a happy week for us!!  I remember my 18th birthday was on Easter Sunday many moons ago!

#5  Easter Kiddie Crafting

The past week of holidays has been quite wet and cold.  We've managed to enjoy a fair amount of outdoor time (the kind of grab your coat spontaneously and go time).  However, we have also balanced this with some rather enjoyable crafting time.  It was lovely to collate a few of the little Easter themed makes of the past week.  There have also been Harry Potter themed makes - lots of them.  I'll share that another time.

Thank you as always for your lovely comments on my Target Squares Blanket.  I haven't done any crochet this week and hope to put that right soon!!!

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter.  I hope you find blessings across the weekend and that the Easter Bunny delivers some choccy goodness to your door.

J9 x

Monday, 30 March 2015

Weekender Blanket Along with Cherry Heart

Happy weekend folks,

Hope you are all fine and dandy this Sunday.  It is a wet and windy afternoon in my part of the world - a day for hunkering down - perfect for cosy crafting.  I thought that I would share progress on my Target Square blanket which I've been crocheting this month.  I thought it would be fun to join in the 'Weekender Blanket along' that Sandra was hosting on her lovely blog and had great plans for progress over the month.

I've enjoyed the simple rhythm of making these squares - they don't require a great deal of thought or concentration and you can feel quite productive working away in a quiet fashion.  I've now crocheted 78 squares (although no ends are sewn in).  The colours are reminiscent of the sea and contain some of my favourite hues and of course many of you will recognise them from Lucy's lovely Coastal blanket pack.  

While I was playing around with placing the squares I decided to omit a couple of the colours - just for my personal taste.  I'm really happy with how these colours work together and hope to complete the blanket by the end of April.

I had made a start on this blanket before Sandra announced the "Blanket Along" but had only completed 21 squares and so have made progress in those interim weeks - which was all that was required to join in!!!  I had set myself the target of 8 squares each week of March.

Excellent.  I've managed to achieve one of my many goals on the crafting front this month!

There are some gorgeous blanket creations being shared at the blanket along on Cherry Hearts Ravelry group so if you haven't looked yet I'm sure you'll see some inspirational crochet when you have a spare moment.  There is also a voting system as Sandra is so kindly giving a prize to one lucky winner!  I feel lucky to have been involved, even in a small way with such an inspirational, creative community.  A big thank you to Sandra for providing the motivation!

I will need to order another pack of coastal colours to complete my blanket - it's going to be a big one and can't wait to share more progress with you over the coming weeks.

J9 x

Monday, 23 March 2015

Tough Times & a Promise

I am increasingly aware that across the world many people are faced with challenges which may seem insurmountable.  Many people struggle daily behind closed doors with issues far worse than mine and I wish everyone the strength and fortitude to manage and overcome such trials.  In writing this post I am in no way seeking sympathy but purely documenting elements of my Every Day.

It is true however, that the month of March has been an immense struggle for me both physically and emotionally.  Scheduled hospital visits, weekly blood tests, a visit to A & E combined with brain fog, uncontrollable pain and real incapacity have left me exhausted and ready for a week of rest.  I am recovered enough to enjoy such a week.  A week to hide away from pretending to the outside world that I am OK.  Where I can curl up and allow myself to rest completely.  Sometimes I know I need to force myself to go out and push through.  On occasions I know that it is my own four walls called HoME that will help my mind and soul most of all.

Next week the school breaks up for the Easter holidays and so I have given myself permission to have a completely indulgently restful week starting today.

I don't plan to go anywhere - except seeing a friend on Wednesday for a birthday lunch.  I have the normal school drops and pick ups to do, plus after school clubs but I have nothing beyond that.  I need a week where I can retreat to the sanctuary of my home during those 6 hours of school each day.  In order to rest and recuperate without self inflicted feelings of guilt I am declaring it as a "Plan".

In the spirit of maximising this rest I thought that I would fully commit to my week of leisure through a series of promises.  Accordingly, this week I promise to...

::  indulge in some leisurely crochet... ...ideally in PJ's

::  practice meditation techniques to help with my fatigue and calm my mind...

::  enjoy spring flowers in my home...

::  enjoy quiet times with my family...

::  to refocus on gratitude for the Simple Things that bring happiness to my life.

I hope you all have a positive week and that you are able to embrace the things that will bring balance and health to you in the week ahead.

J9 x

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A Big Adventure

Little Lady returned home to me today after her first independent intrepid adventure.  She had been on school camp - leaving on Monday morning and returning home at 3pm today.  We had no contact other than a general text from school each day to confirm all was well.

It was the first time she has stayed away from me overnight excepting when I've been in hospital so it was a big step for us all.  An opportunity to grow and learn.

Of course she absolutely bloomed.  We prepared, packed, planned... all to ease this transition.

Little Man has really missed his sis.  They have a very lovely relationship of which I am really proud.  It is helped by the fact that she is not a girly girl.  By far she prefers to run, climb trees and be outdoors and so they have played together from the start with only 21 months between them.

She is home now and tucked up in bed.  Happy and exhausted.  Feeling all grown up yet grateful to be home.  I feel enormously happy to have my family back together under the same roof again.  I shall kiss her forehead before I sleep and revel in the fact that she is safely back with us.

For her a big step forward in emotional growth; embraced wholeheartedly and stored as a treasured memory of her childhood.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Pretty Me & Make Me Challenge ~ February

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have committed to stop my procrastination and commit to a 'Pretty Me' project and a 'Make Me' challenge each month.

I am still working on my Pretty Me project for January (doh) and my first Make Me project had overrun slightly so I need to select a relatively quick project from my long list to complete within the rest of the month and thereby catch up.  Sooo...

Pretty Me ~ February

I had a quick win recently - a neighbour was skipping this trunk.

As you can see it's a little battered - the lid is split and the clasps are rusting but there is still function in this trunk. I asked the neighbour if I could rescue it and he looked at me as if I was mad!!  I could see some use in it so thanked him profusely and the trunk came home with me.

I have a purpose for this in mind - to house board games in our lounge so they are easily accessible by all but not stacked on tables in full view all the time.  I think a bit of paint and wall paper will soon pretty this old trunk up!

Make Me ~ February

I purchased Lucy's Coastal Colours pack from the Wool Warehouse online.  These colours are all my favourite tones - I do really like the look of them all together and they are so reminiscent of the sea.  My hands are a real problem at present and I have been long wanting to make some of Sandra's gorgeous mitts.  They should be a quickish and purposeful make.

Obviously it's now early March so I hope to finish this quickly for a crafty win and to get me back on track for some of my larger projects! In the short term though these should be two very enjoyable and rewarding projects. I look forward to the creative process and sharing the results with you soon.

J9 x

If you would like to look at my previous Ta Dah posts on the Make Me and Pretty Me challenges just click on the link below: