30.4.12

Goodbye April - a monthly roundup

Doing these monthly roundups really makes me really feel the passing of time.  I'm quite liking making little memory lists of the things that I've done and setting myself little goals for the coming month.



My April Intentions  consisted of

. Meal planning - could have done with a bit more effort on this one...

. Organise the laundry - this one got a big  tick.  It had become a bit of a dumping ground for everything and anything so I got in there and tidied like my life depended on it.  I wish now I'd taken before photos so that I could marvel in the miracle of its beauty but to be honest I'm not sure I thought I'd ever get it done!

. Revisit my original granny blanket - This one gets a tick too.  I have got a tiny bit left to finish on the white starburst themed blanket I started back in February.  I've run out of wool so as soon as I get another ball I'll be back to show the finished article

. Make some plushies - Yep I did this too.  I made some cute little bunnies for Easter which I gave away before photographing them.  I also made up a little elephant pattern and used a woollen jumper that had been washed on a hot cycle to make him.  He's rather cute.  I used to have a bit of a thing for elephants and thinking about it that is possibly why he's still hanging around the house and hasn't been gifted yet. hmmm

. Beautify and organise the garden - I hadn't been out there in a while but I got my finger out this month and got snipping and tidying and it does look a bit better for it.  I planted some bok choi and lettuce and added some manure to the raised veggie beds.  So I think I'll give myself half a tick for this one.



There's Jeremy with his pipe in the veggie patch, he says he's too old to quit
smoking now.  I have to remind him not to flick his ash on the veg!

March was a month of adjusting to the change in the weather, lighting candles in the evening, making lots of gifts for birthdays and Easter, buying the very scrummy 'Homespun Style' by Selina Lake, crocheting pretty coloured cloths for the kitchen, painting babushkas on stones with my Mom, easing off on the op shopping (but not before I found the cutest little pyrex dish with a yellow and orange daisy on the lid), using tiny vases no more than 2 inches high to hold colourful flowers, having a bit of a de-clutter, going to a 21st and a 30th birthday party and booking a trip back to the UK for a little holiday to help ease a bit of homesickness.

Just before I scoot, I thought I'd share the beautifulness that is the pyrex dish



My eyes lit up when I saw that flower lid
I'll be back tomorrow with my May Intentions.

Au revoir
Jo :)

27.4.12

Keep warm - make a hot water bottle cover

As the evenings turn a little bit chillier my thoughts have turned to ways of keeping warm and cosy.  The ripple blanket that I made ages ago didn't make it out into the landrover, instead it has found itself strewn across my legs over the last week or so and the hot water bottle has put in an appearance for the first time in months.  I forgot how hot those things get!

So I thought a cover would come in useful to protect any unsuspecting body part that may fall prey to the boiling hot rubber.  I did make a crochet one last year but it didn't keep its shape very well at all and I've put it away read 'lost it'.  So last night I got a-snipping and a-stitching and made one.  A very cheery yellow one with turquoise buttons; colour that I hope will bring a little bit of sunshine on the chilly nights ahead.  And because I am always making things and then sort of forget how I made them I took pictures and thought I'd put them into a bit of a tutorial.  Please excuse the pictures, it was dark and some of them are a bit dodgy!

To make one of these ....



  • Firstly you will need to draw around your hot water bottle and add approx an inch all around (no less but maybe a teensy bit more if you want a bit more space to manoeuvre).  Trace around this pattern only once onto your chosen fabric .  I used a piece of padded fabric that I had in my stash but a fleecy type fabric would be nice too.


  • Then for the fabric for the other side of the hottie you will need to cut your template anywhere from half way to a third of the way towards the bottom.  (This will allow for the opening for your hottie to go inside).  Add 1.5 inches to the straight edge of each section  and cut these pieces out of your fabric. 


  • So now lay your pieces in this order:
  1. whole piece right side facing you
  2. bottom piece wrong side facing you on top of the whole piece
  3. top piece wrong side facing you on top of the bottom piece
  • Pin the whole piece and the 2 half pieces together with a couple of pins just to hold them in place and now hem the bottom piece by folding the hem under by 0.5 inches and then under again by 1 inch


  • Then make the hem for the top half piece by folding the fabric to line up with where the bottom half is folded.  They need to overlap so if your fold comes to where the pointy edge of the pins are in the above photo that is where you want it to be.  (Basically it should just mean that you're turning your top half piece under by 0.5 inch and then again by 1 inch the same as you did with the bottom half piece)
It should now look like this...


  • Once they look like they are all lined up pin them and stitch the hems



  • If you're adding buttons it will be much easier to make the button holes at this stage.  If you're not using buttons you can add velcro or press studs later if you want to.


  • And then you're all ready for the sewing up bit.  You can add some piping in at this stage if you want to.  I won't go through the process here as I am no expert and I'm sure there are many more useful tutorials to watch to get the hang of that.  I added some yellow piping but I think some hot pink or turquoise would have been a bit more spesh.  So this is what you do next ...
     
  • Whizz around with the sewing machine using just under a half inch seam and pop the kettle on to fill the hottie... you're not far off now.



  • Snip into the corners to stop the fabric from puckering when you turn it right side out. If you want the inside to look beautiful you could zig zag stitch or overlock it if you want (I didn't)



  • Turn it right side out and sew on the buttons.  Fill your hottie and sit down for a cosy cuddle and a congratulatory glass of wine hot chocolate.



Ta-dah! 
One hot water bottle cover to help keep the winter chills at bay whilst preventing rubber burns!
I hope you're keeping warm wherever you are
Jo :)

26.4.12

Giddy-up horsey

I've been making a couple of little gifts for my friend's birthday. 
She's a horse nut.


I made the little zip purse for her as an emergency pressie when I really was doubting whether I could give her the real pressie I made her.


I decided I'd try to make her a horse head cushion.

Well!  I was a bit disappointed with the outcome, the hubby called it a one eyed horse but only after I had said I was too embarrassed to give it to her (he'd know better than that!)

So here it is... the embarrasssing one eyed horse cushion


It's okay. You can laugh!

Fortunately for me my friend has an ace sense of humour so I'm going to give it to her anyway, I think she'll appreciate the sentiment behind it.  At least the little purse turned out well.
:)


p.s.  I'll be back soon to show you the progress I've made on my granny blanket

Moving to the other side of the world isn't always plain sailing

Life gets a little bit wibbly round here from time to time when the subject of where we should live comes up.

A very poignant photo taken 12 years ago
For us it's not just the question of 'should we live in this suburb or the next' but 'should we live in this country or aother'.  When this topic rears its not so attractive head I feel a bit like I'm on the waltzers going round and round and starting to feel a bit sick and dizzy.  For there is no correct answer and there is so much emotion involved that it seems impossible to make the right choice...for it seems there is no 'right' choice.

Going back to the UK has been a talking point since my hubby got back in January.  I am not totally adverse to the idea as there are so many things I love about England (some of which are listed in the last post), but I just really like living close to my family and I mostly enjoy the life I have created here in my little south eastern corner of the world. 

I suppose it will always be a 'thing' in our lives and I guess that's what can happen when two people from the same part of the world move to another; peoples' wants and needs are different simply because they themselves are different.  In our case one of us will always be compromising on where to live.

In my own family there have been six other people who have migrated.  Of these six, only one has gone back to the UK but she will be returning soon, one more would like to go back but not enough to do it and all the others are very very settled.  So what makes one person settle and some not?  Who the heck knows? 

What I do know though is that moving to another country can be hard sometimes, it takes work and you have to make an effort to meet people and to fill the gaps left by the life you used to lead.  You have to make an effort to learn new ways of doing things, to learn the nuances that make up your new culture and you have to be willing and able to change.  And for some people no matter how much effort they make and how many people they meet, it just doesn't happen; some gaps just aren't 'fillable' and change is way harder than they would like it to be.  

I hope I don't sound ungrateful for what I have.  On the contrary I am very grateful indeed, I just wanted to share my thoughts and give a little insight into the issues that we have faced with our migration.  I have heard it said umpteen times that it takes two years to settle in a new place, but I think that is a conservative estimate to be honest.  We are five and a half years in and these issues still come up pretty regularly.  I know we're not the first people to experience this issue ... the term ping pong pom says a lot.  I tell you what ... whoever invents an anti-homesickness drug will be quids in!   

Jo :)
 

23.4.12

A list of things I love about England


Happy St George's Day

St George's Day
Image from Wikipedia

I thought I'd write a little list of the things that I love about England to acknowledge the day

  • Country pubs ... I just loved going out for a drive to beautiful countryside pubs in the British Summertime
  • The sound of seagulls ... they always remind me of holidays and their sound make my heart soar
  • Woods ... a green canopy over head with a cool freshness underneath
  • Driving to Devon for the day for a pastie and scones and cream, then home again all in the one day
  • The history fascinates me more and more the older I get
  • Beautiful old churches and cathedrals
  • Distances being so reasonable to allow for regular weekends away somewhere new
  • The Tewkesbury Medieval Festival
  • Bonfire night ... that was always one of the highlights of the year for me
  • The Cornish coast ...its tradition and folklore
  • Regional accents
  • Popping to 'the local' after work for a pint and a carvery
I think that'll do for now. 
I might make bangers and mash for tea to mark the occasion
What will you be doing for the day?

Jo :)


17.4.12

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

Look what came home with me yesterday after a quick visit to Spotlight to buy a zip....







The first two were off the roll and the bottom two were sold as fat quarters. 

I think the last one is probably my fave; I can remember when my Mom would go shopping on a Friday evening, upon her return I'd often get one of those books and spend hours meticulously popping the shapes out, folding them and arranging the outfits.

And just because I am a fence sitter, the second one down is probably my next fave, I love the bear with his paws in the air and the long nosed fox.  So cute

Jo :)

14.4.12

I want this house!

I want this house.

I'd like to just move in today please!


http://www.zilverblauw.nl/

I notice that there is no wood in sight; not one piece of wooden brown-ness.  Not one bit!  I am trying to move away from my default setting of brown and beige.  This old duo 'B and B' keep me trapped in their clutches because they know of my fear of making the wrong decision when it comes to branching out onto the colour wheel.  B&B beware, for I am summoning my colourful courage!

Jo :)



10.4.12

Doing one thing at a time

I've been so into crafty multi-tasking that I have overdone it a bit I think.


I knew there was a bit of something going on when I went to my Brown Owls group and just couldn't get into it.  I looked around and saw people who had committed to one project for several months, others who had spent several weeks on a larger project and some who did smaller projects and got them finished in the time between our fortnightly meetings.  They all had one thing in common... they had finished items to show for their efforts. And me?  Well I have taken something new with me to practically every single session and none of them are finished, NONE! Shame on me!



So when I got home I figured that I needed a strategy and decided that what I needed to do was to have only two projects on the go at one time;

a PRIMARY project and a SECONDARY project,

the first of which gets my full attention and the latter of which gets what's left over or is an option for when my interest fails in the first.  
 

 
I did this last week in an attempt to finish my original starburst granny that I started back in February.  I originally flew into the project crochet-hook-a-flying and ran out of steam when other more tempting things came onto the radar, fickle hey? 

48 squares finished and sewn together back in Feb
I did some secondary cuddly toy making for Easter but my main focus this week has been on getting those squares happening and getting to the finishing line. 

90 squares completed and sewn together
I think my strategy worked in getting me focused and getting on with only one project. The blanket has doubled in size.


90 sewn together with 18 more ready to go

I'm not too sure that I'm going to make it too much bigger than it is.  I've tried to find out how big cot blankets are and they seem to vary a lot.  This one is currently 99 x 72 cm without the border.  Each square measures a wee bit under 3.5 inches (approx 8.5cm)

I am so looking forward to that sense of accomplishment and achievement of having something complete.  I just have to make sure I don't skimp on the size because of my impatience; a bit like when a a kid says they're full up so that they can get onto their pudding! :)

What about you?  how do you manage your crafty schedule?  And any suggestions on how big a cot blanket needs to be?
(please say 99 x 72 cm!)

Jo :)

5.4.12

The newest Granny on the block

After all the writing in the last post I thought a pretty picture to rest my eyes upon was the order of the day



'Dalia' square from the pattern in 'Crochet' March / April 2012.

I am loving the sea green and orange colour combo

Enough said, I'm off, the sun is shining and it's going to be in the high 20's today!


UPDATE:  I just found this site that has pattern that I think is more or less the same as the Dalhia pattern above
 http://365grannies.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/popcorn-puff-square.html

Jo :) 

You are my sunshine - Sunshine blog Award

I have had this post started and waiting in the wings for over a week since I ended up unexpectedly holding the baby reins for slightly longer than I anticipated.  So this morning I thought 'Jo, pull yer finger out gal and get it posted' so here I am, posting....


I mentioned a while ago that I had received a lovely Sunshine Award from Rachel at My Rainbow Vintage Home which made me smile.  For me as a fabric lover, Rachel's blog makes me feel a bit like a kid looking at a sweetie shop with the look of the 'wanties' in her eye. 

As part of the sunshine award, I have five questions to answer and then have to pass the Sunshine Award on to five other people who bring some sunshine into my day. So here goes. 

The answers to my five...
  • Colour: I have a definite thing for orange
  • Animal: Dogs for sure.  I do have a weakness for the squashed up faced ones; bulldogs, boxers, Boston terriers... you know the type (I heard it's because they most closely resemble monkeys / humans)
  • Non-Alcoholic drink:  I am a wild wild bore and love cold water.  (although the best water is the stuff that can be turned into wine!)  I'd love to be all refined and tea or coffee but just don't like them
  • Facebook or Twitter: It'd have to be facebook, I am a bit of a technophobe and tend to stick with what I know plus it's easier to share stuff with friends back in the UK who are also technologically challenged like me and only have facebook account
  • Getting or giving presents: A bit of both is nice; I really love making something for someone and wrapping it up nicely.  As for buying gifts, I can be a bit of an anxious pressie buyer; trying to find the exact right thing especially if I've left it until the last minute is a bit stressful - in that case I'd much rather be getting a pressie.
  • Flower: hmmmm... big bright happy gerberas and Stargazer lilies (not together)
  • Pattern: stripes, polka dots and anything retro and orange makes my pupils dilate
  • Passion: Yes please! Oh...how old am I?  Sorry, yes my passions are family and relationships, creating, fabric, plants, sunshine, op shopping and gloriously good food. I'm sure there are more but I was actually just gonna put yes please as my answer so these were the first things off the top of my head.
  • Number: 5. I did one of those 'work out your lucky number from your birth date' when I was a kid and have never actually questioned it until right now. hmmm! 
So now in reverse alphabetical order it's over to the five lovely peeps that bring some bloggy sunshine to my day. 


 * Zoe Jade from Ladybird Likes.  I really enjoy reading your super lovely blog and you make great lists.
 * Mel from Day to Day.  You always bring a little sunshine to my day with your creative colourful blog and I do so love your caravan.
 * Jo from Brown Paper and String.  We are kind of living life in reverse which I like PLUS the lovely photos of your two sweet little fellows and your days always bring a smile to my dial.
 * Hannah from Seeds and Stitches.  Yours was one of the very first blogs I followed and I always look forward to your posts, PLUS you've just had a baby; how much more sunny does it get?
 * Claire from Heart Handmade UK.  You take such a tremendous amount of time researching all the inspirational posts you share and you're just so very organised.

So in the spirit of saying it like it is... ladies I really like you lot a lot and thank you for sharing your world and bringing sunshine to my corner of the world through your blogs.

Jo :)

1.4.12

March Roundup

Back in March I thought about all the things I wanted to do and decided it might be a good idea to set myself a month intention list to keep the ideas in my mind and to choose only five or so things to focus on. 

My March Intentions consisted of...

. making a blogable photo collage. I spent waaay too many hours on this but finally did manage to make a photo collage using GIMP.  I didn't practise it anywhere near enough though and will need to do a bit of a brain refresher when I come to use it again!

This one was made using shapecollage (as you can see from
the writing it placed across the pic!

This one was made using photovisi
(easy the first time but not so much after that)

 
And this was the one I made using GIMP

 . start making a patchwork quilt.  I have indeed started making a patchwork quilt but then got a wee bit sidetracked with a Granny a Day. I so need to focus on one thing at a time, but when it comes to craft I just can't help it
 
A quarter of the way there

. find someone who can assist me to knit a pair of socks.  She is found!  I have enlisted a fellow Brown Owl to help me with this (when I can squeeze it into my crazy crafting schedule)

. ride my new bikeNot quite as much as I'd have liked to.


Ginger up in Melbourne

. blog more regularly.  Well I definitely did blog more regularly than in previous months so I think that one gets a tick.

All in all March was a full month which saw me getting into far too many craft ventures, developing a fancy for hexie patchwork, looking after my niece, making her a sleeping bag and some other little bits, getting into the Granny A Day project, finding some vintage fabrics, celebrating our wedding anniversary with a yummy home cooked Greek meal, getting out in the garden, getting a lovely cumquat tree from freecycle and getting a sunshine award (Which I still need to blog about... Wow what a busy month and I still didn't have enough time to get everything done that I wanted; a few more hours in the day required!

Now it is April and we are into the second month of Autumn, this month will be mostly based on getting my house ship shape in time for the winter hibernation, plus of course a bit of crafting! :)

Happy Sunday
Jo

April Intentions

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