Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Settling down for the Easter break...

Aargh! The end of term crept up on me suddenly! My quiet time has now ended for a fortnight. I am thankful for a teenage sleepover tonight. It means we only have the all singing, all humming, noisy boy here tonight. One at a time works well. As you can imagine, the constant humming and random sound effects do sometimes wind big sisters up. Mind you, with loud music in one bedroom and sound effects in the other I am sometimes quite grateful I am deaf.

I've done as much spring cleaning as possible given that the kitchen knock through has begun and the master craftsman, ie. M, has strangely decided to finish the bathroom that he started five years ago! We've had a functioning bathroom all this time, it just lacked a few finishing touches; tile trim, pipe boxing in, blinds and a little shelf I've had kicking around for five years! Men are definitely from Mars.

Meanwhile, I've had a pleasant hour tackling all the skeins of cotton I had lying about in my cottons basket. These pesky things have to be wound into balls before you can use them or a big tangled mess is guaranteed! I just love the muted colours of these organic cottons, they look like they are straight out of the countryside.

The wool winder is great fun so I got a little carried away and rewound all the oddments of cotton too. They were already in neatish hand wound balls but now they are even neater! Such simple pleasures.

I made the little mouse in a very short amount of time during my afternoon ritual; watching a rubbish movie. In this household I am now known as the Queen of Cheese. These movies involve such themes as overcoming paraplegia, finding your birth mother, solving ridiculous inter-family murders. Actually, one of my all time favourite films was on the other day and J actually came out of his bedroom to watch it with me; Bugsy Malone. He first saw it when he was four and very much into wearing a hat all day long. We had to seek out a suitable hat and purchase the DVD of the film and I think he must have watched it a hundred times!

The mouse pattern is from Inside Crochet, issue 35.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


There was a bit of a commotion this morning when Ted woke up. It seemed to be coming from the tall boy's bedroom. A cheeky little character with a red and white striped jumper was swinging from the light shade in search of bananas.

As soon as he caught sight of Ted peeping round the door he swung over and landed right by his feet. This daring stunt startled Ted somewhat but not forgetting his impeccable manners introduced himself as 'Ted'.

Monkey knew he was a monkey but he didn't want a dull name like Ted so the two of them put their thinking caps on and decided Monkey should be called 'Marvin'. The two of them have been inseparable ever since. Ted has shown Marvin where the bananas are kept and Marvin has introduced Ted to the biscuit barrel. Ted had never known such pleasure as Oreo's until he met Marvin.

If you listen very carefully you can just hear the two of them chattering away on the sofa. I wonder what they are planning?

Monday, 25 March 2013


Poor Ted. He's keeping well away from this furry four legged 'friend'! Along with talk of shrinking if he gets wet in the snow, Ted is beginning to think that the world is a very dangerous place.

I think Ted could do with a friend. Perhaps a cheeky chap. Someone to bring Ted out of his shell.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

The cat and I...

We've had an up and down relationship, the cat and I. Never under estimate the powers of persuasion of a seven year old is the lesson I take from the whole cat story. Ella was heartbroken one day when we took in a stray for a week or so and then of course, it disappeared back home as strays are wont to do. It hadn't been too much bother and it was heartwarming to see how gentle the children had been with him (Jake would have been four at the time).

So it came to be that we 'rescued' Mollie, the left overs of a divorce. Things went downhill fast in those early days and frequent calls were made to my Dad (who lived close by at the time) to come and remove a dead bird or mouse. Thankfully, now with food she likes (boy is she fussy!) and plenty of fields to go mousing in she seems to only bring the odd mouse indoors. This morning was one of those lucky occasions.

Some spring cleaning went on yesterday, despite the absence of Spring as we know it. All pale cream cushion covers from our basket furniture were washed and dried. I usually cover these with an assortment of tartan blankets to prevent cat hairs and cat claws ruining them. This weekend I decided that they looked nice and fresh and spring like, and tidier without the blankets. The cat usually pounces on the fresh covers within minutes of them being put back on but she is otherwise sidetracked this time... by the pile of tartan blankets! Talk about princess and the pea!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Ted ventures out...

Phew, Ted has had a giddy morning. When he opened the curtains this morning he couldn't believe his eyes. Everything was white. He thought it was quite beautiful until he felt how cold it was, and wet, and windy too.

Not owning a good pair of waterproof boots was a small problem he managed to overcome by borrowing a small boat from a tall boy. The tall boy told him to be very careful with the little red boat because it came all the way from France. Ted was very careful indeed. In fact he only sailed a foot from the patio doors because it looked quite choppy out in the big wide world.

After his brave and daring maiden voyage Ted retired to the safety of the door mat and watched the daft wet dog play in the snow. He seemed to be throwing it in the air and catching it in his mouth. Ted didn't know what to make of that.

Ted felt that was quite enough of an adventure for one day and settled down on the sofa with his blanket. A little snooze he thinks, and a marmite sandwich for elevenses.

Friday, 22 March 2013


Ted can hardly contain his excitement. He has heard that snow might be on the way. He's not really sure what or who snow is but he can tell from the children that it is something to be excited about. He knows he has to wear his new warm scarf when he meets 'snow' for the first time so he is ready and patiently waiting.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


Ted is an unassuming little fellow. He was quite content with his cane furniture suite and a view of the television. Imagine his delight on receiving a versatile rug/blanket to match his sweater! Daytime TV is now even more cosy with a wool rug beneath his feet and afternoon naps with his feet up on the foot stool cosier still.

Ted is still pondering life outside in the big wide world whilst secretly storing useful items in his little messenger bag for when he feels brave enough to venture out there. So far he has a map of the village, a compass and a marmite sandwich.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Meet Ted!

My, how time flies when the men in your life are at home all day! I've had J moaning and groaning on the sofa under a duvet for two days and M building stud walls and making lots of mess.

J has had a terrible cold/flu type thing. He valiantly carried on last week not wanting to miss any sporting stuff and then promptly collapsed on Sunday. Such a shame his blanket wasn't finished!

J is back at school today and M is away working too. Such glorious peace. Just me, the dog and the cat. I think I will be continuing yesterday's pattern of sitting down and crocheting away, since I pulled a muscle in my lower back and it blinking hurts. Ouch! Note to self, do not move heavy sideboards on your own.

I started the second half of J's blanket but also felt the need to break from monotonous crochet and rustle up a new Ted! All teddies in our house seem to end up being called Ted, with the exception of Mr Chubbs of course. I'm quite pleased with Ted and find him a lot less creepy than the cats. His head seemed ridiculously large until the other body parts were added and then he seemed ok. The pattern is free from Jenny and Teddy. I will try and add a link via my blog list since it is a faff to open up my old netbook and create a link that way. (Blogger on iPad is limited).

Yes, Ted has met with royal approval. The teenager spoke and was nice about him. Shock horror!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

A wet weekend...

Bit of a washout weekend here in Lincolnshire. Rain, rain and more rain; heavy rain, drizzling rain, torrential rain, cold rain, icy rain. Perfect dog walking rain. (Thank you Harvey!)

I've been patiently waiting for good light to take some snaps with my iPod but alas no joy! Hence the murky offering.

The cat with no name who turned out distinctly male now has a female companion. Same brand of wool, same weight, same hook but she has turned out a little smaller. Strange. I may replace her whiskers with white ones at some stage but for now I am all crochet kittened out!

I have in mind a few tweaks and ideas for the basic cat. I've already altered the arms by a few stitches here and there to make them hang slightly better. They were a bit chunky at the top before. Not that you can tell with the chunky sweaters on. I think the ears need some work too, they look like they've been in a cat fight or two. That's the nice thing about crochet for me; I find it much easier to alter patterns than I ever did with knitting.

Meanwhile the real cat, Mollie, is not reclining on the back of a sofa for a change. No, she prefers sunshine for that. She is warm and cosy behind a sofa, in her cardboard box.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

A crochet cat...

I can't quite decide if the final result is cute or evil looking! Maybe the eyes would look better in blue. I might make this cat a friend in a softer colour and see if it turns out less creepy looking. Maybe it's just me, and cats. I'm definitely on more familiar territory with dogs.

It's difficult to see his smiley face in black cotton against the charcoal wool. He could also do with a nice little crochet jumper or a scarf or something. He definitely won't be getting a round the world set of outfits as per the pattern suggestions. The pattern is from Crochet Today and the cat featured is called Coco. Coco has been to London, Russia, Holland, Japan, Venice and Spain. The London outfit made me laugh. It kind of looks like 1960s Twiggy style.

Talking of Twiggy... My Coco is definitely not stick like. In fact he is positively chubby compared to the pictures provided. I'm not sure how this has come about. I used the correct weight of wool and hook. Oh well. I am clearly not the only one to have produced a cat that looks different from the magazine photo; google 'coco the crochet cat' and you will see what I mean.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Nurses and Nuns...

I'm a real sucker for a period drama these days. I just love seeing the costumes, the furniture, the textiles, come alive in a way a museum could never achieve.

It doesn't have to be that far back either. TV drama's set in the 60s have huge appeal because you can still pick up china and textiles from that decade.

'Call the Midwife' is a little further back and totally enchanting for its knitwear, crochet blankets, textiles and fashions.

So, while M was blubbing over the predicament of Chummy and her baby I was marvelling over the making and giving of the crochet blanket by the nurses and nuns. It may have had a liberal dose of beige and colours probably weren't so vivid in those days but it was surely a thing of beauty? Well I thought so. She was literally wrapped up in the love of those women and it worked, she survived and so did the baby. Enough to make any man cry!

(Incidentally, once upon a time M wouldn't even have watched such a programme let alone get emotionally attached to the characters. I've well and truly converted him!)

I can't find a photo of the touching a scene anywhere which is a shame. It made me want to abandon all WIPs and start a traditional granny square blanket.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Happy Mother's Day...

I'm really not comfortable receiving gifts. I much prefer small thoughtful bits and bobs than grand gestures. This year I made sure that M and the children did not fall out over gift shopping (like they did over Christmas shopping). I gave them a maximum limit and told M to leave the children entirely to their own devices. They are certainly old enough now, at twelve and fifteen. E could certainly hone her patience skills but I admit it isn't easy shopping with J.

They did well and I am chuffed to bits with my new books and gorgeous bracelet.

I'm having a restful day. The laundry is staying put in the basket. The weekly shopping has been done by M whilst I soaked in a hot bath (well you've gotta milk it once a year eh?!).

A few crochet bits and bobs are by my side. I've been doing a few rows here and there but nothing worth a photo update as yet. I've been slightly distracted from the blanket project and started a cat! Yes a cat. Very random I know. At the moment the head is peeking out of a basket of body parts, complete with proper cats eyes and he is looking extremely sinister. If he remains evil looking I will have to think again and maybe change him into a dog (not with magic but with new ears and eyes!).

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Sunday stroll...

M and I had a rare weekend without the children. Well, 24 hours anyway. So peaceful! We took Harvey to Hartsholme. It's beautiful there, with several large lakes and lots of tributaries and boggy bits. Naturally Harvey couldn't wait to get wet but thankfully he's just too excited to be swimming and exploring and leaves the ducks and swans alone. He doesn't stop to say hello to other dogs either which is no bad thing as there were quite a few there. I'd love to know what Harvey thinks of small chihuahua's with pink fleece coats on, we passed three of these on our walk.

At one stage he was so wet and muddy that someone asked to take his photograph. He happily obliged (OK with a stick in my hand and the 'wait' command!).

On the home straight to the car park Harvey suddenly realised it was car journey time and he stopped his happy trot and started slinking along commando style. Pathetic!

Feline goings on...

Yesterday our charming feline resident left a beheaded gift on our sunlounge rug. Some poor vole family is now without a parent. To be fair she was noticeably on the prowl for the last few days, crouching near the cluster of tiny holes in the river bank.

We were out at the time and came home to find J shielding his eyes away from the offending item whilst trying to watch cricket on TV. As soon as we were through the door he shouted, 'Dad, Dad, I need you, Mollie's done something terrible!' Aw, he always was very concerned about animal welfare and still gets upset if you kill a spider!

In the unlikely event of any small furry creature deciding to bravely walk in through the open cat flap M has installed a new one with a door. Early trial runs with the cat did not go well; she tapped on our front door to be let in but she later got the hang of it when there was fishy food on offer. Not stupid.

This morning she seems to be having a day off after her hunting conquest. The back of the sofa, a patch of sun, dreams of... beheading more voles. Dogs are less gruesome.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Yarn bombing...

I saw some real life yarn bombing in Market Rasen this week! I got carried away blogging about my thrifty finds and forgot to mention it.

I felt a bit daft taking photo's and had to wait for a group of young adults to move on before I could get a snap or two, but the pic below shows the most interesting and colourful of them all. The rest were mainly strips wound round poles, railings and benches.

I'm not sure it really added anything to this little market town, which is architecturally interesting anyway (if you know where to look). Harmless fun I guess.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Gluten and dairy free shortbread...

Success! It's been a while since I added a new recipe to my box of foolproof allergy friendly recipes. I did not have high hopes for this one, given that gluten free flour often tastes quite gritty no matter what you put with it.

This is an adaptation of a simple shortbread recipe:

175g gluten free plain flour (I used Doves)
100g dairy free butter
50g caster sugar
Half a teaspoon of gluten free baking powder
Optional: a dash of vanilla essence

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl (add the vanilla essence if required). Mix the baking powder with the flour then add slowly to the butter/sugar to form a dough.

Mine took about twenty minutes to turn golden brown in a fan oven on 170 degrees, but this will vary according to oven and thickness of shortbread.

Cut into pieces whilst warm then leave to cool.

I sprayed my clay mould with light olive oil and it turned out of the mould a lot easier than I was expecting! I broke a few biscuits which obviously then had to be eaten straightaway.

Note: the recipe only makes a fist sized lump of dough. If you have a decent size mould or tin it would probably be best to double the quantities.

Next time I make it I plan to add zest of orange or lemon and cut down the sugar a little. I try to eat as little sugar as possible and as a result these seemed quite sweet to me.