Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chilly Tuesday

It's been a long week so far and it's only Tuesday - aargh! I have come down with a nasty cold and am feeling a bit sorry for myself. So combined with the husband being overseas all of last week, not a lot of crochet has been done - well not as much as I'd hoped anyway. I have been making lots of wee hearts to turn into a garland for Miss 4's bedroom. They all look so darn cheerful sitting in their little tin - I don't want to take them out just yet!!

And I did manage to finish off another scarf - and just in time too! It is a gorgeous wintery Wellington day today, absolutely freezing right now, but the sky is clear and it should warm up a bit soon (hopefully!). Perfect timing to keep my sore throat wrapped up nice and toasty. I love this scarf pattern and have previously posted about a blue version. I have more to make for friends who have placed requests too now that we are starting to feel the chill of winter.

Before I got all sneezy and horrible, I did manage to get lots of baking done. Banana cake, choc chip cookies and afghans are now in the pantry. I think I may have got a bit carried away with it all so will have to send some into husband's office tomorrow. Miss 4 also helped me make some yummy shortbread. She was chief cookie cutter and was adamant she wanted to prick the holes this time. She took her fork pricking duties very seriously and made sure they were all nice and centred. It was a long, slow process but I'm all for good presentation!!! Very cute.

My lovely friend Ange gave me this fabulous kit for Christmas and I have been bursting to find enough quiet time to sit down and concentrate on making it. It's the coolest kit and even included a banana flavoured chocolate bar - how perfect!! 'Included' is definitely in the past tense - the chocolate didn't last very long at all!

I hope to have 'monkey' finished by the end of the week so I can show you soon. I have done all the body and just need to sew on the mouth and eyes. My hand sewing skills are not exactly great so I might need to undo him and try again. But then again he does look pretty darn cute so far so maybe I should just leave him be.

I really, really want to get cracking on another blanket. I have fallen in love with Pixie's hexagon blanket and am determined to find the patience to make one like it! It will take me forever but looking at hers, it will be so worth it. I think it would be impossible to have a bad sleep when you have something so beautiful covering the bed.

Have a fabulous week!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Things that make me smile

My neighbour recently gave me this gorgeous book and I am absolutely in love with it. It's the 1955 Good Housekeeping's Cookery Compendium. It has been so well looked after - it looks brand new which is incredible.

I love the outside of the book just as much as the inside and now have it on my new kitchen shelf (my handy hubby put it up last weekend).

The pictures throughout are gorgeous. You probably can't quite make it out in this picture but her apron matches her curtains!! The perfectly manicured housewife, whipping up some sweet treats for afternoon tea. Now I might always be manicured but by heck my kitchen never looks like that!

The presentation of all the cooking and baking is just wonderful. A bit more fussy than we normally see these days but I love it. I would really, really love to have some friends around for a dinner party and to cook all the courses using recipes from this wonderful book. Dressing in 1950's garb would be essential too. I had considered doing it earlier in the year for my 40th but decided I didn't want to spend my birthday in the kitchen. So I'm thinking a mid-Winter dinner would be perfect! I am going to have to hit the op shops looking for gorgeous 50's clothing. It really is a fabulous decade fashion-wise isn't it.

So this morning I channelled my inner 1950's housewife, and made a batch of gingernut biscuits. I had to adjust the recipe slightly as I only have butter and not margerine so I can't claim that they are authentic.

It is very funny to see the recipe require you to mix the dry ingredients with the 'fat'. The evil three let word you are not so likely to see actually written in a recipe these days! Hilarious.

Mine didn't spread as much as the recipe picture above, probably due to the butter thing, but they are absolutely delicious. Really light and quite dainty if that's an appropriate baking description! I'm certain my small folk will love them as an after school treat.

I have been doing lots of crochet this week but not a lot to show you as most of it is black and it didn't photograph very nicely. I have made myself a lovely winter beanie, similar to this little one, and am in the middle of finishing a matching scarf. In my mission to get more colour in my life I realised that there is still room for good old black!!

This little pink hat is for a friend of mine who has just had a lovely wee baby girl. The hat looked so very tiny, but in fact it probably won't fit her for a few more months. You really do forget just how little they are don't you.

I know I'm waffling on a bit today but I'm only doing one post a week at the moment so I have a few things to squeeze in! These are just a few of the things that are making me really happy at the moment and I thought I'd share them.

This flour container was $1 (boy I love a bargain) at my local op shop. It was lid-less and has a tiny, tiny crack in it but it looks lovely on my kitchen shelf and will make a fabulous vase.

And another lid-less treasure (again $1) that I bought a while ago, but is now sitting on the same shelf. This is really quite old I think and it is so gorgeous. I don't care if these op shop finds have a wee crack or chip here and there, they still have lots of life left in them, you just have to be creative in what you do with them!

Making my whole family happy this week was the appearance of a single lonely little feijoa on one of our trees! We planted these trees over 3 years ago and every year the small folk get so excited that we might have their favourite feijoas growing in the garden. Year after year there has been nothing but last week suddenly this gorgeous little one appeared. It will be eaten for breakfast tomorrow - about half a teaspoon per child - but they will be in heaven because we grew it!!

This is just a silly pic but it has made me smile. I love, love, love red shoes and have wanted some like this for ages. When I spotted them last week (and on sale too) I grabbed them. Happy, happy feet.

Now I have to apologise for being a bit slack. I want to give a big thank you to Jane from Hook and Yarn for giving me two lovely blog awards - Versatile Blogger and Liebster Blog - you made my day. If you haven't visited her gorgeous blog yet, then make a cuppa and sit down to have a good look around. It is full of fabulous colourful crochet and always a pleasure to visit!

Have a fabulous week!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Miss 3 turns 4!!

It has been a big week! My little Miss 3 is now Miss 4 and all week my time has been spent making bits and pieces for her birthday party. It has been so much fun releasing my inner child and making the girliest castle cake for my little poppet. She is going through a very pink stage and wanted a pink castle. I am absolutely thrilled with the result. It's only my second attempt at working with fondant and I really love it! I know where my abilities end so I had fabulous local store make the three little fairies for me - so I cheated a wee bit. They alone would have taken me about 3 months to make!! The detail in them is fantastic.

Miss 4 says she is the one in the middle! How gorgeous are they?

Sparkly shoes, pink wings and a beautiful fairy princess dress from Mummy and Daddy - I think we chose a winning gift this year. She is totally in love with her new outfit and couldn't wait for her lovely wee friends to arrive for the party.

We emptied the sunroom of toys and put up shiny streamers and flowers. Matching balloons finished the room off. Such a girly party room.

More streamers in the entrance way to the room made for a bit of a wow moment with the little ones.

I made cupcakes galore for kids and grown ups alike.

And gingerbread fairies for her friends to take home with them.

Mr 6 played the host very well too and loved handing out all the gingerbread fairies when the party ended.

I also made some very easy dancing ribbons. Lengths of ribbon tied around a hair tie makes for great wristbands when you are fairy dancing!!!

Phew - it's all been a bit tiring but oh so worth it for the looks on the faces of all the small folk.
I'm going to sit down with a nice cuppa and some freshly baked chewy chocolate chip cookies and get my poor neglected crochet hook out!
Have a fabulous week all!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day & My New Cowl

I have been trying to finish this cowl all week but have only just managed to grab a few minutes to complete it. I absolutely love the finished item and can't wait to wear it! It's made of gorgeous pure New Zealand wool and is the loveliest mocha colour. I initially had visions of it being much wider so it could drape down one shoulder but remembered I had only bought 2 balls of wool so didn't have enough this time. And I'd bought the wool at the other end of the country when I was in Auckland so I couldn't just pop out and get some more - aaargh. I'm sure you can relate to that frustration! Anyway - a slightly less-wide version it is and it still looks fab. I have also made an extra band to draw one side together. It gives the cowl some variety, you can wear it plain and bunched around your neck, pulled up over your head to keep your ears warm or with the band wrapped around for a different look altogether.
And it's a great way to show off your favourite brooch/pin collection. This is one of the button brooches I made recently - it goes with the cowl perfectly. I haven't pulled the band too tight in this pic but it looks just a fab pulled in quite firmly. So here it is in separate bits. It was a nice easy project and I'm definitely going to make another one.

Using my favourite 4mm hook and double knit wool, I started with 52 chains which includes 2 turning chains, then DC each row (now 50 ch) working under the stitch. Keep working in DC rows until your cowl is approximately 60cm long. I then crocheted the seam together from the wrong side to give a smooth finish.

The additional band/cuff was made with 12 chains which includes 2 turning chains, then DC each row (now 10 ch) until you reach the desired length to fit around your cowl, taking into account a generous overlap so you can fasten it. Mine is approximately 30 cm with a good overlap so I can play with it and have a bit of variety in the way it fastens.
It's Mother's Day here today and my small people have made me feel like the best mum on earth. They were very eager to wake up this morning and bring me their special cards. Mr 6 is a bit of a charmer!Miss 3 (who will be Miss 4 next weekend!) drew a very fetching picture of me. That's me at the front with the big smile and long hair of course. The small one in the corner with the spiky hair is apparently Daddy. Handsome huh!!

The small folk have gone on an outing with Dad for the afternoon so I have had a lovely time in the kitchen making some treats for when they get home. For dessert tonight I have made this delicious Lemon Posset. I only tried this very recently at a wedding and I absolutely love it. Thank you to my dear friend Ange for letting me raid her lemon tree! These have to be the juiciest lemons I've ever cut into. Delicious.Next up is a tweaked version of a New Zealand classic - ANZAC biscuits. I have been making these for years and years the classic way, without the chocolate, and they are delicious. The chocolate was a recent addition one day when Miss 3 and Mr 6 couldn't agree on what sort of biscuits they wanted me to make, ANZACs or chocolate chip cookies, so in a fit of frustration I united the recipes and by crikey they are gorgeous! If you'd like to try this recipe - here it is:

100g butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup coconut
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon hot water

Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a saucepan. In another bowl mix together the sugar, flour, coconut and rolled oats (and chocolate if desired). Add the butter and golden syrup mixture to the dry ingredients and mix together. Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water then add to the mixture. Stir well. Roll into small balls and flatten with the palm of your hand and place on a greased or lined oven tray. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes or until golden. YUM!
I have been meaning to show you these little cuties for ages so while I remember, here they are. Another way to use up your lovely old buttons. Mix and match your buttons into little stacks, glue them on top of each other and then glue a magnet to the back. Voila - easy peasy magnets.

These usually live on my fridge but as it is currently covered in kindy artwork, it was a bit messy to photograph. I tried to take a lovely photo of them lazing on a pretty plate but the magnets kept chasing each other and sticking together - hilarious. So that's why they are on my jug - not at all where they normally live!

Have a fabulous week!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hearts and other Bits and Pieces

This really melted my heart(!) last week. It's one of those proud mum moments - but I hopefully won't bore you. We were at a cafe last weekend when Mr 6 asked if he could have the camera to take a photo 'of that heart up there'. We were all looking around trying to see what he could see. It turned out the heart was a blob of moss on the plastic awning outside the cafe! It didn't appear as a heart from any other perspective except his chair. He knows how much I love hearts (remember the heart shaped cornflake he gave me?) so he was determined to get a pic of it. I think he did a fab job! It has all these lovely textures and shades of grey all around it so it looks really cool. I surprised him by printing the photo and framing it so he could see it as soon as he walked in the front door. He loves it and so does his mum!

My cushion is now all joined and ready to be backed. The raised seams look great and feel really nice too. I think I should probably have a go at blocking it as I have never blocked a project before but have read a bit about it lately. Probably not too vital on a cushion as it will be pulled into shape once the insert is inside but I'd like to try it out on a smallish project just in case I make a mess of it!
The chair with my cushion on it is my latest bargain purchase. It was $20 on Trade Me and I've been looking for one of these old lovelies for ages. Just what I needed to finish off my mix and match dining chairs - yay! I'm really looking forward to taking to it with some steel wool and furniture oil to breathe new life into it. It is solid and sturdy but in need of some TLC. I have popped another pic a bit further down of a gorgeous tray I bought recently and did the same restoration on. It's such a lovely, simple process which can make the cheapest op shop treasures come to life.Isn't this so pretty? I absolutely adore the colours on this piece of china. I wish I had some fabric like this - I can think of a million things I'd make with it.This gorgeous old cake plate is one of my favourite, favourite things. It's really quite old so I am terrified I'll break it every time I use it! But it was just screaming out to be used ...Yummy chocolate chip biscuits made for afternoon tea and for a lunchbox treat tomorrow when the small folk start the new term after a two week break. Two weeks of rotten, wet weather so we were stuck inside most of the time and wouldn't you know it, today the sun comes out just in time for school tomorrow. Aargh.
Here's that tray I was talking about earlier. $5 at the local Salvation Army store - talk about a bargain! It was in a terrible state but I could see that it had potential. This pic was taken after I had given it a huge clean as it had clearly spent it's previous life living next to an oven as it had oil splats all over it. An hour of steel wool, furniture oil and elbow grease and here she is ...How cool is that? I'm thinking it's the perfect tray for bringing me breakfast in bed for Mother's Day next Sunday! I might have to drop a few large hints I think. Although yesterday when Miss 3 was being chef in her toy kitchen, she asked me if I'd like an onion smoothie - mmm lovely! So hopefully she won't be in charge of the Mother's Day menu!! One last pic I wanted to show you. This is a wee ceramic brooch I bought at the Craft 2.0 event last weekend. I love it so much. It features the Maori koru just like in my Dad's 70th birthday tattoo (it still cracks me up that he did that).

Have a fabulous week all! I am just about to pick up my hooks and start a new project. A fabulous cowl I have designed so fingers crossed it works. If it does I will definitely share it with you!

PS: I am having a nightmare with line spacing on my posts. It all looks fine until I publish it. Any ideas/help gratefully received!! It's driving me crazy. I like my spacing to be nice and even and when it decides to do it's own thing I go mad.