Tuesday, 27 September 2011


...conkers repel spiders. They don't like the taste apparently. I HATE spiders. Especially since the time a particularly large one ran under our armchair, with hubby in fast pursuit, where he discovered the brand new oven gloves that I'd melted by leaving them on the still-warm hob (brand new because I'd bought them to replace the old oven gloves I'd melted the previous week), and which I'd quickly hidden to avoid him tutting and rolling his eyes at my carelessness. (This is the man who drove our car into a car park barrier just months after we bought it, may I add!)

Anyway. So spiders hate conkers. So guess what I was collecting this weekend...?

Madam was only too pleased to assist, and we collected a good amount to take home and plant in strategic areas - namely, behind the fridge and the TV, and in the corner by the desk. I'm sure I can spare a few for Madam to play with though. 

It was nice wandering through the trees. I especially love the ones with the red leaves.

Madam also gathered some acorns and when we saw some squirrels darting among the trees in the park, she tossed some over to them, and was delighted when they picked them up and started nibbling on them. I was able to get quite close for a picture. It's amazing how many squirrels you can see if you look for them; they seem to blend really well into the background if you are just walking past and not really paying attention. 

I also completed a quick crochet project this weekend. Although I am in the middle of several large projects, I felt the need for some instant gratification, so I decided to make a hot water bottle cover. I've needed one for ages, since the cover that originally came with the bottle was a hideous Winnie the Pooh bear pouch thing. I thought the simplest thing to make would be a granny square cover. I estimated that 20 small two round squares for each side would suffice:

I just used oddments of yarn I had left over, mainly Stylecraft. 

When I had woven in all the ends, I crocheted them together with dark purple yarn:

 It's not particularly clear from the photo but I added a bobble-shell edging to finish it off. I decided not to make it removable, because I couldn't be bothered faffing with buttons and really, how dirty can a hot water bottle cover get? 

Yay! I love it. And no more burns from now on! I have a larger hot water bottle too, with a cover I knitted when I first learnt, and which I don't really like anymore. I'm thinking of some crocheting something similar, in slightly different colours though, and maybe some flowers attached? 

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

All better...

After a bit of this....

...some of these...

and lots of this...

... my cold seems to have subsided. Yay!

Today is my and hubby's 6th anniversary since we got together. We don't really do anything special for it as now we have a wedding anniversary to celebrate (although we are going to see Stephen Merchant live in a few weeks), but I saw this card in a shop and thought I would get it for him, just to remind him that he's supposed to be buying me a beach hut just like it one day (hey, I can dream!) I love everything about this photo - the bunting, the cushions, the lovely spotty bag, the gorgeous bluey-green painted walls, the embroidered quilt, the little doll on the window ledge. What I wouldn't give for a little hidey-hole by the sea!

Friday, 16 September 2011

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away...

...how come I have a stinking cold when we have about a trillion apples on our tree?

We were thrilled when we first moved into our house and realised we had an apple tree. Our previous home was a first floor apartment with no outside space, so to have a little garden was a real treat. I began making apple crumbles and apple sponges. It felt great to make something with homegrown produce, like my mum used to.

However, this year I have been unable to keep up with the supply of apples! I have parcelled up a load for my mum and baked quite a few, and also set some aside in storage in a dark box. Madam has been taking one for her break time snack at school. And still I am raking up apples that have fallen and been got at by wasps, maggots and birds. I wish I had a giant ladder to reach the apples on the uppermost branches that have had the most sun, they are so red and as big as those you can buy in the supermarket. It's quite a comforting noise to lie in bed at night and hear snap, rustle, thud, as an apple decides to fall from the tree. Unfortunately, they tend to hit the paved footpath that leads to our door and split.

As well as an apple tree, we also have raspberry bushes, but we are actually fairly clueless garden-wise, and haven't been caring for them as well as we should (embarrassing, as the woman who rented the house before us was a member of the local horticultural society and was famed for her prize-winning raspberries). This year we are going to make a special effort in sorting out the weeds and everything so that next year's crop is good.

As I mentioned, I am currently fighting off a horrid cold, my first of the year, so that's pretty good going I guess. Maybe I will make an apple sponge later if I feel up to it. I have had a couple of hours to huddle on the sofa with the laptop whilst Madam is at school for the morning, but I must pick her up in 15 minutes. Think I'll finish my Cadbury's hot chocolate first though.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Well, it certainly looks as though the summer is over, judging from the weather this last week or two - the air is definitely autumnal now. The leaves on the trees are already turning brown, I noticed, and the nights are pulling in.

Our little Madam started school last week, something she was very excited about. The past few weeks have been a flurry of preparations for this event - buying sets of skirts, shirts, shoes, plimsolls, trousers, pinafores, socks, jumpers, cardigans....the list is endless, not to mention the sewing in of the ubiquitous name labels. It made me feel rather nostalgic for my own childhood, actually, sewing those in. I think my mum even has some of my name tags in her sewing box still!

Although Madam starting school has been a big step, and one which I have been mildly dreading, I can't pretend that having a few hours to myself in the week isn't something I haven't been looking forward to. I only work part-time, which leaves me plenty of time to browse the internet and crochet keep on top of the housework.
Luckily, just in case I run out of housework to do (no danger of that!), I have several new projects which are sure to keep me busy.

I have waited very patiently to order the yarn for these projects. Firstly, I made sure that I had ticked off most of the things on my crafty To-Do list, which had been languishing half-finished in my craft box. Secondly, I wanted to wait until the expense of July and August were over (two weddings and no less than five family/close friend birthdays to buy for!). Finally, I was able to place my order with Mason's, which arrived in less than 48 hours.

What did I order? Stylecraft Special DK, 19 balls of it, for three different projects all destined to be Christmas presents.

From top, L-R: Mocha, Walnut, Meadow, Spring Green, Clematis, Fondant, Raspberry.
 Project 1

This yarn is for a blanket for an old housemate of mine from university. We hardly ever see each other now, due to distance, so it's really hard to buy presents for her as I don't know what stuff she already has, etc. I normally go with an amusing novelty gift, but I do like to give useful things too, so I thought I'd make her a blanket for Christmas, as I know she always used to like her fleece lap blanket at uni. In fact we had matching ones. Originally, I thought I would make her a Wavy Blanket, which looked great when I'd completed a few rows, but I quickly realised that it would be quite a yarn-hungry project and I wouldn't have enough yarn to complete it, and I didn't really want to have to order more. Plus, I found that the (US) treble stitches quite hard on the hands. Anyway, here's a pic of where I got to:

I made the decision to make a Summer Garden Granny Square instead, which was an exciting thought as I now had seven colours to mix and match, as opposed to five when I made the Seafoam Granny Square. I thought I wouldn't follow a plan with regards to colour placement; just try to make sure the colours were evenly spaced and not clumped together. Here's where I've got to so far:

Forty-five squares of loveliness! Unfortunately, I have neglected to sew in any ends, so I am in for a treat when this is finished! 

Project 2

I am making a ripple blanket for my 10 year old sister, who detests anything pink and girly. So I picked seven shades of blue. (Sherbert, Cloud Blue, Aster, Denim, Bluebell, Royal, and Midnight). Annoyingly, I had to rip back what I've just posted a picture of, as somehow I had neglected to put in two DC into the top of the chain-3 at the end of a row, and everything got all out of sync. When I started again, I decided to go with a graduated colour scheme, rather than random. I think it looks good, although it will be hard to tell until I've done a few colour repeats. 

Project 3

This little lot is to become a Doctor Who Scarf for my stepdad, who is a keen sci-fi fan. The website I've linked to gives lots of great pictures of the different scarves used in the series (I naively thought that they used the same scarf the whole way through!), so I tried to match up similar colours on Mason's website. Up there I've got Khaki, Teal (Masons made a bit of a boo boo and sent me Teal instead of Turquoise for the ripple, so I've pinched the Denim that was meant to be for this for the ripple blanket, and used the Teal for the scarf. Actually I think it goes rather well, so no matter!), Camel, Copper and Mocha - plus a barely touched ball of Plum that I have left over. I don't think I will make the scarf quite so long as the scarf from season 15, (as 16ft would be rather impractical, I feel!), but long and wide enough to be a cosy winter scarf anyway.

I seem to have typed rather a lot tonight, so perhaps I will leave it there for now!  :-)