Friday, 30 March 2012

Chitting Potatoes

I have this Felicity Kendall inspired desire to pop out to my  neat and tidy vegetable garden and pull  up a few glorious organically grown items to lovingly prepare for my angelic children.  They will of course be very thankful for  my hard work, tireless effort and all offer to tend the land so we can grow yet more edible delights.

Heading firmly back to reality I know these things do not happen without  preparation.  We are still working hard on the angelic children, surely it must be easier to get the vegetable patch planted and growing?  We had a small patch last year and grew yummy runner beans which I thought were very bad at producing until I saw the  little lovelies helping themselves to them when in the garden.  I was not sure whether to be cross or really pleased! We had amazing success with Raspberry bushes,  ignored them all summer and they thanked us with an bumper crop.  The tomatoes were not as grateful and gave us a dismal response to our labour, although   the football which kept knocking the stakes down may have had something to do with that.  We planted a few potatoes last year and hope to continue in greater numbers this summer.

They have been chitting away for a few weeks now and we will be persuading the oldest teen to help dig their new resting place next week.  Such a funny word which has obviously caused a lot of amusement to our not so angelic tribe!  Any experts reading,  do they look "chitted" enough?  

Sitting next to them on the kitchen windowsill is a hanging basket planted with Strawberries, I hoped the delicious fruit would be safe from stray footballs and hungry children hanging high.  There is also another basket of herbs  growing next to it.  This is probably going to be my best hope of realising the opening the door and picking the produce dream.

In case all fails I am sure   Mr Cress Man will keep us smiling all summer.

What are you planting at the moment?

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Testing Tunes

There has been much practice and playing of scales  in the oldpolicehouse of late. The two oldest girls are just about to take their Grade 2 and 4 in piano.  They have both worked really hard and deserve to pass well.  We have all listened very well but have just about had enough! Little man is going round the house singing  his "da da da du de dum......." version and is completely accurate in tone and rhythm reminding me yet again    how much little ears pick up from the rest of us.  At least this time I am not going to be ashamed if he repeats it at school.

The grades are taken in a house a few miles up the road, this is the sweet cottage next door,

right by the post box.

With some very pretty flowers growing by the pavements, they are probably  weeds but they certainly brightened the way.

It looks picturesque but the photos hide the really busy road about a metre away!

We found our destination and   entered with a rather  grumpy small girl in tow,  the house was not really  bored toddler friendly  but such is the life of a youngest child and she usually adapts well.   However  after handing me some matches, finding several chocolate eggs to steal and depositing iced gems all over the floor  I was  slightly desperate for a distraction.  Thankfully the above photos worked  for a very short while before she announced her intention to leave, very loudly!

How did you spend this lovely sunny

(hopefully it was without a noisy attachment!)

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

fabulous felt key rings

This weeks crafty make for the school fete was felt key rings.  We met last night, sat around my kitchen table chatting, chocolate biscuit  munching and crafting away. The evening and chilled time with friends was almost as fabulous as these sweet key rings.

I made two in the time  and could have probably squeezed another one in if I hadn't had a few child and dog interruptions!  These were my makes; a cute little flower with a gingham contrast and a heart  with a pretty Cath Kidston flower on the front.

Last night we made,



and hearts.

They are very simple to make, do not cost much and are a great way of using up scraps of fabric which are far too beautiful to part with.  If you feel inspired here's how to make your own:

1. You need to cut out  two of  the shape you want in felt (easiest to cut them out at the same time), they could be a heart, flower, owl, bird etc.

2. Decorate one side (or both)  of the shape, this is the fun part as you can be as creative as you like maybe sew beads or buttons on or appliqué a scrap of fabric.  

3. Sew a piece of ribbon using small running stitches to the top, joining both pieces of the felt.

4.  Blanket stitch using embroidery thread around the shape, leaving a gap of about two centimetres.

5. Stuff the shape with toy stuffing. 

6. Finish the blanket stick and loose the thread in the middle of the key ring.

7.  Attach a key ring to the ribbon at the top.

Which one is your favourite?

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

graffiti knitting

As we were walking to school this morning my smallest boy ran back to tell me with much excitement that "there was sewing by the dentist".  I wasn't really sure what he meant but soon realised he had got sewing and knitting muddled up  when I saw  the cause of his excitement.

Apart from the time we saw an old lady drive into a walled  front garden, this probably is the most exciting things that has happened on our  daily way to and from school.  In fact it could be one of the most  happening things to happen in our little part of the world.  It  even gets better,

 as there were three!

In the back of my mind   I vaguely remembered reading something about this and  after a quick internet search,  I remembered reading this  article with the dramatic headline

The graffiti knitting epidemic

A bunch of 'graffiti knitters' are on the loose in the UK – hellbent on liberating us from the forces of drabness.....
There are a lot of older people who live in our area and it has made me smile all morning imagining some of the sweet old ladies creeping out at night with their knitting to "liberate" the area!  
I have no idea who did this or really why you would want to choose this particular place to liberate, but whoever you are, thank you for making my school run much easier this morning.

Has anyone seen any of this graffiti knitting anywhere else?
Have you daringly done it?
Tell all....

Thursday, 22 March 2012


This was the sight as I looked down when walking home from school earlier, the  mix of colours, patterns and textures were glorious.   I realised that despite having maybe thousands of photos of my children I didn't have any of them from this view point,  which is perhaps the way I have seen them the most especially when they were small.  

She was fast asleep so I took the opportunity to find the camera and get my picture, her little hand looked so sweet with the contrasting patterns behind.  Two years and one month and still not sleeping very well at night, "Cuggle Wuby Mummy" was very cute the first time we heard it at half past five in the morning but not so much now  lovely girl!

Two years and one month

I was in our front garden with a sleeping babe safe in the buggy and camera in hand and starting thinking more about perspective, the way in which we look at things, in particular the point of view we take.  Here are a few pictures of the same thing but from a different perspective:

Perspective makes a difference.

The tree which I have been told is a cherry blossom still looks amazing, although the sky was not as brilliant at nine today.

and a different perspective

In an attempt to keep it real  I will now shatter the illusion of a perfect front garden: the hyacinths were randomly shoved in the ground last year to see what would happen, the daffodils are actually my neighbours, we have a lot of work to do to tidy the garden after a tree was taken down, of course there is are several little boy piles of sticks as well as a scooter flung somewhere.

But who wants to dwell on things like that when there is such beauty  to gaze at? It is all about choosing the right perspective  and as I have thought about it all day I have been reminded of  a verse from the bible:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
Isaiah 55 v 8

A little voice is reminding me about my perspective:  although circumstances and situations stay the same and can be out of my control to change, I need to check I am  looking at things in the  right way.   Making sure I am investing my life in important things, the things that really matter.  Remembering the whole picture and not getting caught up in a tiny part.

Gaining the right perspective changes everything.

Anything you need to change perspective on today?

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

missed matisse

Totally enhanced with flowers!

I popped into the local library today,  now known as the discovery centre which while I think is a fantastic name, I  cannot get out of the habit of calling it the library.  I was hoping for one last look around the Matisse exhibition in the gallery there, however I was too late and have missed it by a few days.  Middle boy visited it with school and took great  pleasure in telling me all the pictures he recognised from our house there.

I really love Matisse especially his later work using cut outs; his use of bright bold simple colour always makes me smile.  I so love the idea that while he was ill at the end of his life he still wanted to be creative and learnt to "paint with scissors"  using cut out paper as in the Blue Nude above.  I have used this idea in teaching art with children over the years, they are always really enthusiastic about this concept and are  amazingly creative with a pair of scissors and coloured paper.  

We have a pair of blue nudes in the hallway of our house,  it was only a few weeks after we moved here I realised they were created in the same year our house was built, 1952, it seemed fitting to hang them in the hallway. I think they are enhanced with the reflection of colourful Cath Kidston curtains  hanging at the front door, not very sure if Mr Matisse would agree!

We have a large copy of the Snail, another of his  colourful cut outs hanging in the kitchen.  In our previous house we had a teeny, tiny kitchen and it looked amazing dominating the white wall at one end , our kitchen is bigger now and the impact is not as great, I still love it though.  The children have all stood in front of it when they were learning to read and hunted for the word "the", it  seems a long time ago my gcse boy did that!  I bought it from the Tate years ago on a rare and fabulous mummy friend trip to London, such a fantastic reminder of a beautiful escape for a day.

 So as the Easter holidays are approaching I am attempting to be organised and plan some fun and inspiring Art gallery trips for the children, we may even brave it to London.  

Which artist inspires you at the moment?

Monday, 19 March 2012

Monday Happy

Monday Morning is the time in my week when I focus on the house; attempt to get on top of the weekend chaos, tackle the laundry mountain and try to organise things for the week ahead. However, when the sun is shining as wonderfully as it was this morning the house mess can wait and time outside is essential.  Even better with a camera to capture the glorious sky.

This is the beautiful tree in our front garden "all pink now " to quote middle girl, here it is with a wider frame.  I am hoping my Mum will read this and remind me what the tree is called, although pink and blossomy sounds pretty perfect at the moment!

Hanging the washing didn't feel like a chore today and it is giving me a real satisfaction to see the nappies blowing in the wind.  I  used cloth nappies for half (and a bit) of my half dozen but finally gave in to tiredness, way too much washing, working much more and the happy  discovery that Sainsburys Basic nappies are really good as well as being cheap about a year ago. I couldn't face the supermarket at the weekend so after running out of nappies I resurrected my cloth baby, hopefully it might help get ready for potty training too.  They look pretty fab dancing away this morning though.

Mothers day flowers look beautiful inside as well

and a beautiful, kind and very thoughtful gift from a friend is making me smile upstairs.

I was too ill at the weekend to go with her to a jumble sale but she kindly shared her findings with me, what a delightful thing to do and it fair cheered me up when I was feeling rough.  It will be a treasured gift because of the love and thought that went into it.......and Mr oldpolicehouse won't be able to complain that yet another flowery thing has entered the house!

Finally happiness complete Ruby is wearing the patch  and  enjoying a precious sisterly moment with a poorly middle girl.

What's your sky like where you are today?  I hope it is as glorious and happy making as mine is!

Friday, 16 March 2012

A little bit of Cath happiness!

Following a monthly visit to the  local hospital this morning to monitor Ruby's eye,  I was feeling a little blue.  She has something called  strabismic amblyopia and needs to  wear a patch over her good eye to force the poor eye to work, if this does not happen then the lazy eye will stop working, resulting in blindness.  There is a short window of opportunity for the brain to read the signals from the eye correctly and learn to see in the correct way, after the age of around seven it is not able to be corrected. She will have a small operation at some point to improve the look of the eye but the most important focus at present is her vision and  this is only corrected through patching.

My little two year old is not really liking patching at the moment (because she can't see very well which is the whole point of it), it is really hard work to make her wear the patch, although she is much better at wearing the patch if she is with a friend or child minder. We have now been referred to a larger hospital for brain signal testing to see how bad her vision   is.  I was  feeling a bit sad, frustrated, feeling as if it was my fault,  and I was trying to fight these negative feelings and not let them overwhelm me.

Viking day was earlier this week!

So it was even  more wonderful to answer the door to the postman who gave me a parcel containing all the gorgeous Cath Kidston items  shown in the photo.  What an absolute blessing and such perfect timing!   I am a complete Cath fan, in particular the bold large floral prints  which I seem to be filling the house with more and more, the man of the house hasn't raised any objections  yet!  Mel offered a very generous giveaway and to my utter excitement I won.

So this was the yummy contents of the parcel: an new book to gaze at and be inspired by, a new tape measure  which is perfect   as my boys keep taking mine and putting it in a "safe" place, and a surprise gift.  Excitedly I unwrapped it, very carefully as I always find another use for the paper and ribbons, and found this little pincushion.
 He has made himself very at home on the top of my sewing machine, the cover is made out of my absolute favourite Cath fabric, it was on little extra left over after making the front door curtain.   If you look carefully at the picture in Mel's blog you can see she also loves it.

So Mel I thank you so much for your generosity and perfect timing which really lifted me out of my sadness.  The world needs more  flowery happiness!

Have a fantastic weekend everyone, it's Friday - yay!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

A few of my favourite things...

Using these very clear instructions from Anne I had some fun creating a collage using some photos of lovely things.  I was going to use it as a new blog header but it looked a little bit too busy.  I have a question for any bloggers reading,

how do you make the header photo thinner?

I just cannot seem to be able to change the size of it  and the result is a too huge photo.   I am sure there is a simple solution but any tips would be most welcome.  Thank you anyone who is able to help!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Tea towel bag for bags

For some reason I volunteered to organise a craft stall at my children's primary school summer fete this year, we are making lots of things to sell to raise money for the school. Thankfully I am sharing this with a lovely friend and meeting with her and talking and doing craft has been lots of fun, encouraging others to join us has been much harder!  Last night there were three of us making this weeks item, a carrier bag holder.

The craft sessions are designed to be simple and accessible  and hopefully only needing enthusiasm rather than lots of skill.  These  bag for bags  are very simple to make:

You will need 

* A tea towel (the ones above are from the pound shop and work out at 50p each)

* Some ribbon (some of the ribbon above was wrapped around Primark  children pyjamas)

* Some elastic

* scraps of material (interfacing would be useful if it is thin material)

This is what to to

1.  Fold over and pin the top part of the tea towel, a fold of about 6 cm makes it easy to thread the hanging ribbon through later on.  If you pin the pins in a vertical way then you can sew over them with no problems

2. Fold & pin the bottom of the tea towel about 3 cm

3. Sew making sure you leave enough gap to thread elastic (at the bottom) and ribbon (top) through later on.  

4. Iron interfacing (if your fabric is lightweight) onto some contrasting fabric and cut out a heart.  

5. Carefully sew onto the right side of your tea towel, either use a machine or by hand

6.  Pin and sew the carrier bag holder together, sew with the right side facing inwards

7. Thread the ribbon through the top, if you pin a safety pin to it, threading through is much easier.  

8. Knot it and push the knot through so it is hidden.  Sew the seam up by hand, you need  to sew one side and then the other, this allows room for the ribbon to be pulled up.

7. Thread the elastic through the bottom, pull it in, knot it tightly, hide the knot and then sew up by hand.  Make sure you leave enough space to pull the bags through but not allow them to fall out.

Hang it up and admire your work!

I would love to hear any ideas anyone has for simple but effective things to sell at a school fete.  

Have you made anything that sells well?