Monday, 1 December 2014

One Little Month... November

One Little Month... November
Clouds, First red cup Starbucks of the year, Friends, Snowman pen pot, Baby shower celebrations, Beach, Raspberry cocktails, The nights are getting darker, Pink sky in the morning, Cozy new coat, Coral sky, York Cathedral, Advent Candle, Sea and sky, Best name for a real ale ever, Baubles

 One Little Month is about the little (and sometimes big) things that have made me happy during the last month.

November was about really noticing the change in season, spending time with friends and family, and preparing for the coming festivities.

Some other things that made me happy were...

A gorgeous dinner and lots of drinks to celebrate a friends birthday

Masterchef Australia... I LOVE that show!!!  The challenges are awesome, the guest chefs are out of this world and the talent is huge!

Finding joy in creating just for the heck of it, (more to come on this!)

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I've been thinking a lot about goals and motivation this month, I love a good old list to tick and setting bigger goals is basically just a bigger list right?  So I've been coming up with some challenges for myself, a few of them photo based, which is such a good thing because this months post was the hardest to put together yet.  I realised sometime mid month that I hadn't been taking many photos, I have had a lot of fun, and sometimes it's good to just be in the moment and enjoy it, but I miss having those visual memories, especially after the wealth of photos I amassed in the 3 months that were #100happydays.  I will be sharing more about my goals in the coming months, but for now I'll just say that December's post shouldn't be the same problem as November's as I have a little Merry&Bright photo treasure hunt going on...

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I hope that November was good to you too,


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Bonfire Night Parkin...

Bonfire Night Parkin

As a kid I loved everything about bonfire night, I just found it all so magical....  The trip to China Town to buy the fireworks;  Collecting wood for the fire for weeks before;  Rushing home from school and waiting with giddy impatience for it to grow dark enough;  Being wrapped up warm and allowed outside at night;  Twirling sparklers around, spelling out my name in the light trail;  The moment the fire was lit and watching the flames lick higher and higher until the whole thing was ablaze;  The fire works...oh the fireworks!  The rockets zooming into the sky, roman candles sending out fountains of flames and the catherine wheel (my favourite) dancing around in a halo of sparks;  The colours, the noise, the feeling in the pit of your belly...  Loved It.

Fireworks

Not to mention the food!  Hot homely fare just right for fighting the cold night air... soup, jacket potatoes, bangers and mash and for later treacle toffee and Parkin.  Yum, just the slightest whiff of that treacly gingery goodness, brings back bonfire memories....

For the uninitiated, Parkin is a Yorkshire specialty, a moist ginger cake made with oats and treacle and a gloriously sticky top, which is eaten on bonfire night.

Bonfire Night Parkin

The recipe above is written in one of the cookbooks I inherited from my Nan, in her pretty but sometimes confusing script.  I treasure those cook books, they are full of quirks and annotations, and the turns of phrase and comments she's added delight me.  I love that she uses the word teaspoonfull, that full at the end tickles me and I've used it in my recipe below.  I've changed the recipe around a little added in more of the good stuff and don't worry as I've also added a little more explanation on the cooking process, rather than just bake in a slow oven!

Bonfire Night Parkin

2 cups of flour
2 cups of oats
1 cup of soft brown sugar
1-2 teaspoonfulls of ginger (depending on taste)
1 tablespoonfull of baking powder
1/2 teaspoonfull of salt
100g of treacle
100g of golden syrup
100g of fat ( I used a mix of butter and vegatable oil to make this recipe vegetarian, but lard is traditional)
1 cup of boiling water
1 teaspoonfull of bicarbonate of soda

9inch square tin

Put your oven on to gas mark 2 and your kettle on to boil.

Mix the fat treacle and syrup in a pan and put over a low heat to melt.

Mix the dry ingredients together, apart from the bicarbonate of soda.

Grease the tin.

When the fat has melted in to the treacle and syrup, mix the dry and wet ingredients together thoroughly.

Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the measured out boiling water (it will bubble up,  which is good because it is your rising agent) and quickly stir into the parkin, scrape in to your tin and pop in the oven for 1hour 10minutes

Check to make sure its cooked just like any other cake and when ready tip on to a plate and then on to a cooling rack.  Store in a sealed container when cool

Delicious whenever, but best left until the top has turned sticky... and enjoyed while bundled up in cozy knits around a bonfire or watching a firework display!

Bonfire Night Parkin

I hope wherever you are in the world, whether you are celebrating bonfire night or not, you experience some fireworks and magic of your own this week!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

One Little Month... October

One Little Month... October
Cross stitching a row of paper dollies, airplane tails and whispy clouds, making brownies, patchwork cushion cover, sunrise, the blue skies of Yorkshire, Lady Marmalade cocktail at The Alchemist, Holy Trinity Church, Colour Bravery, nothing beats Sunday dinner cooked by your own mum, waiting for curtain up at the ballet, Birthday cake, new yarn, sky, ploughmans at Dil and the Bear, Incredible Quilting Adventure, Morning Light, Weekend Breakfast, Sunrise, a thouroughly good read, new socks, Vegetable Sharing Plank, sunset, stitch markers, birthday card.

One Little Month is about the little (and sometimes big) things that have made me happy during the last month.

October was about birthday celebrations, lots of crafting and my continued love for the constantly changing sky.

Some other things that made me happy this month were...

Looking out for the next installment of Elsie Blaha Cripe's business story every morning.

Joining the Creative Chaos Send us Christmas swap...

And signing up to retrohipmama's  handwriting course... there's still time left to join both if you want in!

The new Scrapbook Sunday feature on A Beautiful Mess, as I write I am impatiently waiting for today's post!

I hope October treated you well and that November brings you Joy...

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Incredible Quilting Adventure... An Update

Incredible Quilting Adventure
IQA Hexagons

This update is loooong over due! So... almost exactly five years ago I published my first post about patchwork and quilting... I had started an English paper pieced patchwork during that summer which I hoped to turn in to a beautiful quilt... I, rather grandly, named this project my Incredible Quilting Adventure.  Which on the surface of it (since I'm 5 years along and still haven't finished) could be seen as a poor choice, and for some time now, that is indeed how I've seen it.

But today I want to defend my younger self's choice of name to my older self...


Incredible Quilting Adventure
Rainbow Mini Hexie Baby Quilt

The quilt grew slowly at first, but pretty soon I had a nice long strip of blues, greens and pinks, and a crazy idea....  I was going to cut up white fabric and sew it back together again... just so I could lay that strip of hexagons on a bed of white and 'sprinkle' more hexagons around.  I really didn't understand what I was letting myself in for, but sometimes you just have to give it a go!

Quite often I will start a project with no clear idea of what the outcome will be, altering an aspect part way through.  With most projects the alteration can get kind of lost in the finished product, which is usually a good thing, but I love that with this quilt (and again here with this blanket)  you can really see the change and it works as part of the whole.  I love the all white parts of this quilt, and the sprinkle of coloured hexagons, they bring something that is so very different from what I expected the outcome to be, when I first chose those blue/green/pink fabrics.


Incredible Quilting Adventure
Baby Boy Quilt

In the last 5 years while the IQA has been on the go I have also made... 

A machine stitched baby boy quilt - I made a ton of mistakes had my first taste of how helpful the inhabitants of blogland can be, persevered and learnt a lot.  (Mostly that I preferred hand stitching!)...  

Two hand sewn rainbow mini hexie baby quilts - that time I knew the pitfalls of the quilting process... that wadding and backing larger than the top, and the correct machine foot are essential... 

Three and a half hand sewn, hexagon patchwork cushion covers (two as a gift, one here and the other a work in progress)  all of which just strengthened my love for EPP and it's gentle soothing rhythm....

And a hand sewn, large scale, hexagon quilt top, which is waiting for it's wadding, but has a back all ready to go!

Incredible Quilting Adventure
Large Scale Hexagon Quilt Top and Patchwork Cushion Cover

So while the IQA is not yet finished, some projects have been, and still more begun. I've tried, failed, learnt, grown and discovered.  It's been creative, crazy, cathartic, even frustrating sometimes, but always, always a whole lot of fun.

 And really what's an adventure if not a fun and crazy experience?  

After all the time and effort I've put in to hand sewing the patchwork, I want to continue the hand sewn love, and will be attempting to hand quilt it.... which is probably going to be a whole other adventure!


Incredible Quilting Adventure
The Incredible Quilting Adventure Quilt

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Enjoy any Halloween celebrations you have going on this weekend, we have Tim's parent's coming to stay, so i'm sure we will be enjoying some delicious food and getting in a beach walk or two!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Finished... #100happydays

#100happydays
Cozy evening on the sofa : : Morning Sky : : Blackfriars, home to the Knit Studio, one of my favourite places in Newcastle : : Sunrise : : Chicken & chorizo paella made by Stephen and Alba : : Ice cream and crochet : : Long cozy lunch break resting my leg and crocheting : : Sunrise over the City : : So pleased with the progress on my patchwork cushion : : The colours of Autumn for tea : : Dreaming up crafty adventures and planning blog posts : : Making brownies : : Cross stitching a row of paper dollies : : Drop of coral in the sky after a grey day : : In the patchwork zone : : Humongous bourbon biscuit : : Real paper books as a special treat : : Somerset Pomona : : Family. Food. Drink : : Early birthday cake

These are the last of my #100happydays pictures, I finished the challenge last Sunday, the last day of my 31st year... which pleased me so much... one end coinciding with another.  I had a wonderful birthday, I spent the weekend before with my family, there were 10 of us, we had some delicious food, beautiful ales & cocktails, and did a lot of catching up, laughing and chatting. On the day of my birthday, I wandered around by the coast during the day and crafted in the afternoon, before Tim came home from work to cook my traditional birthday dinner of bangers and mash.  It was a quiet day but I was pretty content with my lot.

So 100 happy days?  I really enjoyed taking part in this challenge, learning to look for and find things to be happy about every day.  Looking back over the pictures now, I have so many good memories of the last 3 months that to be honest I probably would have mostly forgotten about, had I not sought them out and snapped a picture.  Some days were hard, especially towards the end, with the fading light and a touch of nearly-there-weariness, but over all, i'm so proud that I stuck with this challenge and saw it all the way to the end.


Monday, 6 October 2014

One Little Month... September

One Little Month... September
Ripples, airplane trails, Blackpool Illuminations, fluffy clouds, tapas, necklace, Horlicks and Malteaser ice cream, sunrise, squash, bench, tasty coffee, evening cloudporn, between the cracks, morning cloudporn, my new favourite colour combination, ghost sign, Daniel Buren, little cloud, chocolate mouse cake, little posy, Newcastle Keep, sunset in Blackpool, sunrise in Newcastle, Cutting and Sticking, street art.

One Little Month is about the little (and sometimes big) things that have made me happy during the last month.

September was about so much sky gazing, being a tourist both at home and away and all about taking steps toward our future.

Some other things that made me happy were...

This post by Caylee Grey about letting go of guilt when it comes to blogging

The orange super moon, I don't have a picture, but I do have a beautiful memory!

This post by Elsie Blaha Cripe about goal setting... I have some ideas brewing!

Waking myself up on these darker mornings with some awesome music in the shower

Our super tidy house... I'm more creative when I start with a tidy space... although it might not stay that way!

I hope your September was full of wonderful little moments...


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Colour Bravery...

I love Autumn, it's my favourite season, the crisp bright days, layering up in boots and snuggly knitwear, the new season of awesome TV, my birthday (yay), and.... the opportunity to cozy up with a big pile of yarn and create...

Colour Bravery - Lola Blanket

Gah, look at those colours!  I'm half way through this blanket and I'm loving it more and more every day and I want to talk about why...

A couple of years ago I would never have considered making something this colourful, it would have made me so uncomfortable and out of control, and to be honest still does a teeny tiny bit, but I'm being BRAVE with colour, I'm embracing the philosophy of one of the most colourful people I know Laura, one of my best friends in the whole world...

"All colours go with all other colours."

That statement confused and scared the heck out of me when I first heard it.... my brain was screaming "No, no, no!!  No they don't... ugh, no!!!"  But over the years, slowly but surely, Laura has encouraged and sometimes pushed me to use more colour, and now, looking at this blanket i'm so glad she did...

I'm using Attic24's neat ripple pattern which is so super easy and hooks up beautifully, the yarn is King Cole Merino blend DK and I'm using a 6.5mm hook which is giving a nice dense fabric with a lovely drape.  It's so super cozy to snuggle up under as I crochet away, and I just find myself mesmerized by the colours.

Colour Bravery - Lola Blanket

I have 25 balls in 21 different colours, yep, TWENTY ONE different colours, this really amazes me.  What amazes me even more, is the order in which i'm using them... They are not of a small pared down colour palate, or all different shades of the same colour.  They are not next to complimentary colours from the colour wheel, or even in rainbow order, or one of the other ways i've dealt with colour before...  They are simply grabbed from one of two piles and added in... almost randomly.... RANDOMLY!  No planning, just grabbing....eeek, even just writing this is kind of exciting and scary!  The only order I imposed was to split the colours in to roughly cool and warm colours and take from alternate piles, but even that has gone out of the window at some points!

All the way through this project I have been excited and surprised by certain neighboring colour combinations, that yes, colours I would never have put together before, do actually look beautiful together... The lilac and bottle green, the bright pink and pale sage green, the pale blue and bright coral.  But something I never expected was to love love love the overall look of this blanket, but the bigger it gets, the more colours that are included  the more I do fall in love!  It's just soooo cheerful and bright and super, super COLOURFUL!  I've finally found my colour bravery!

Colour Bravery - Lola Blanket

I've decided that his blanket shall be called the Lola Blanket, in honour of the person that pushed me out of my colour comfort zone...Miss Laura May, or Lola... the queen of colour!

Are you brave with colour?  Do you have bright yellow walls or a cherry red coat?  Do you agree that all colours go together or do you have a more reserved take on colour?

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In house related news, we've chosen our estate agent and today we had the pictures taken for the internet listings.  Our house has never been so tidy!  To be honest it looks a little bare and empty in places, totally not us... there are usually piles of crafts and books laying around, utensils on the counter tops and blankets strew across the sofa, it usually looks, you know, like people live here, but if it helps sell houses then we'll hide away our things... wish us luck!

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Wishing you a week full of Autumnal colour!