Saturday, 27 April 2013

Happy Days

picture of first bloom in garden

This was the first flowering bloom in my garden...taken about ten days ago. I was so pleased to see some colour after such a tediously long dull, cold winter, that I raced in to get my camera for a snapshot of this beauty. (I'm afraid I really don't know what this shrub/bush is called. They are very popular and can be seen in lots of gardens around here).

Weather-wise it's been a mixed bag today. We've had sunshine and a smattering of hailstones...and still oh so frustratingly chilly. I'm itching to get my flip-flops on! 
My day has been a mixed bag too. It started with a strenuous boot-camp workout at 8.30a.m. followed by a leisurely breakfast with the family. Then off for a dog walk, a quick shopping session at the local chandlers shop for some bits and bobs. I love these shops, they have a certain smell which transports me back to my youth. It's so much nicer shopping here than at the huge DIY stores. Then on to Taylors Farm for some yummy supplies. No sooner had we finished then it was time for Little Ladys' second swimming lesson. She smiled the whole way through...gorgeous girl. Home for tea, followed by a spot of baking. I had a quick snooze in my sun filled conservatory whilst the cake was in the oven. Bliss! I had to use up a couple of lemons so what better than a lemon drizzle cake. Now I've made quite a lot of these cakes following different recipes, but THE BEST lemon drizzle recipe can be found at Attic 24. It's simple and quick to make (I don't have a food processor...mixing this by hand is no chore). The cake is so moist and tangy, and so popular with family and's always a winner. Thanks for sharing this one, Lucy.

picture of tea time treats
I'm off on a woolly adventure tomorrow... SOOOO excited, can't wait to tell you all about it next week. Have a happy weekend folks!! X

P.s. it's called a Camelia Rose, if any of you were wondering.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Bags of Fun

image of handmade red felt bag
I received this lovely bag for my birthday from my sister-in-law. I love everything about it...the colour, size,  the materials (so soft and Eco-friendly) and the fact it's completely handmade. It really is a pretty, handy little bag to use.

Whilst on a recent visit to my local yarn shop I noticed a picture of a look-a-like bag on a leaflet advertising a felt bag workshop. An opportunity not to be missed...I booked myself in straight away!! So a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of creating one of these little beauties for myself. The workshop was run by a super-talented, friendly Yorkshire lass called Nicola. Go have a look at her website, Feltipedia, it's full of her wonderful, colourful felted creations. (Have a look at her Facebook page and you'll see me at work!).

Nicola started the session with some useful information about the materials, and the process of how the bag  was going to be put together. I was completely bamboozled by this, and couldn't work out in my head how it was all going to come together. The penny didn't drop till the last thirty slow am I? Nicola had the patience of a saint.
I wanted my bag to be a complete contrast to the red one...a fun summery one full of colour. I'd already chosen blue in my head before I'd got there but when Nic presented me with a huge choice of coloured felting wool and embellishments...well I just wanted to use them all, but in the end I stuck with my original blue colour choice. Maybe a striped bag next time?

image of blue felting wool

The embellishment was applied first. Next came the felting wool which was built up in a fine mesh layer on both sides, and there are a LOT of layers to be worked. Just to complicate things I really wanted a contrast colour for the inside of the bag, so that colour had to be built up too.

image of application of first layer of felt
image of felt layers

 image of contrast blue felt

After each side was completed a generous sprinkle of soapy water was applied and worked into the fibres till superbly squidgy. 
image of working the soap layer

Once we got started there was no stopping us. The four hours whizzed by so fast, and I was having so much fun that I forgot to eat lunch (a thing I never EVER do). It is quite a labour intensive process, but it was a labour of love from start to finish. I really didn't think I was going to finish it at one point, it didn't look at all bag-like. Then it was sleeves up and the rolling commenced. This agitates the fibres and makes them knit together. It certainly got the blood pumping and I just couldn't wait to see what it looked like. Nicola handed me a knife and informed me I had to cut out the handle...I think I held my breath the whole time. I really didn't want to mess up now that I'd worked so hard to get to this stage. Once the handle was fashioned the bag could then be turned inside out...(or right way round-see what I mean-confusing for a beginner like me!). Once teased into shape the bag was given a generous rinse in water to wash away all the soap. Et voila! a new bag was born. I was delighted with my choice of colours, and so happy I hadn't botched it up. Yey success!! On cloud 9 when I came out of there-had to stop myself from skipping all the way to the car! So here they are in all their felty glory.....Ta-Dah!!!

image of finished felt bags

Nicola made the gorgeous pink one.

The rest of the embellishing and sewing was done at home. This took a while as I couldn't decide what to decorate it with. Finally I am glad to say that I have managed to finish it, so it's time to show it of. Drum roll please for a second Ta-Dah!...

image of two felt bags

image of back of bag

image of quirky key ring character

Fun and quirky don't you think? I'm really pleased with my new creation. Yes, it really was bags of fun...thanks so much Nicola xx


Monday, 1 April 2013

Love Birds

image of two tin birds

This year is flying by so fast... I'm crossing  the weeks off on the calendar at an alarming rate, it's making me panic a little! Goals and targets that I'd set myself at the beginning of the year are scoring low on the achievement league table...leaving me feeling a little deflated and disappointed with myself. Common problem I guess for most of us. 
I knew it was time for me to change tack and re-focus. It's so easy to get caught up with the daily routine that the small things are easily overlooked and go unappreciated, so this morning I decided to re-address this issue. I became more attentive and appreciative of what was around me. Just the smallest, simplest of things gave me so much joy and happiness...brushing my daughters hair, singing with my daughters in the car, being hit with the scent of flowers entering the living room, a bright blue sky at long last, chatter and laughter around the dinner table... the list is long.  Being Mindful is such a good thing to do, and I need to practise it more often!
So what's Love Birds got to do with it? Whilst pottering around the house this morning (still being Mindful, of course) it suddenly struck me I'd accumulated some treasures of late all with the same theme...beautiful, colourful birds.

image of items with birds on

I hadn't intentionally set out to purchase these birdie beauties, but when I set eyes on them I knew I just had to have them. Most of them (except for the cup) were purchased at Cedar Farm, a vibrant mix of craft shops, and local creative artists working on-site. There is even a fantastic yarn shop here called WickerWool, owned and run by a couple of local ladies with a passion for all things hand-made. They run a Knit and Natter class on a Tuesday afternoon...I haven't been yet, but it's on my 'to do' list.

I've also got a thing for lovely decorative tins. This was also purchased at Cedar birds on this one but I still had to have it. (Don't want to start a birthday/Christmas present bird-themed craze amongst the family or the house will start to resemble an aviary!)

image of little tin

  You can see it contains my recent WIP... to be revealed very soon. Can't wait!

Hope your Easter has been a happy one.

image of easter related things