Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Seasons Greetings

Wishing you all a Peaceful and Happy Holiday.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

All my parcels are posted

Phew !!! What a week.
I've finally got the last parcel in the post. Now to tackle the Christmas baking and finish off the presents for those closer to home.

I thought I'd share this Post Office advert circa 1951 by Lotte Reiniger, to celebrate that this year all my presents should reach their destination in time for Christmas.

Isn't it Great?

I love Lotte Reiniger's work so much that I bought M the DVD of Lotte's "Fairy Tale Films" for Christmas. Most of her short films included are based on classic fairy tales and all animated using her distinctive Paper Silhouette technique. The DVD is available here and you can find more clips of her work on Youtube.

I am amazed by her delicate attention to detail. Her work is Magical.

Prints of some of Lotte's stills can be ordered here.

You can read more about her work and life here.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

3 Wishes for Cinderella

After my last post I've been thinking about films, books and television programmes I loved as a child.
I've been lamenting the fact that some of the wonderful children's programmes made in the 1970's aren't repeated today and I suppose nostalgia has truly set in.

My mission this week has been to try and acquire copies of some of these programmes to share with my own children.

Top of my list was a Czech version of Cinderella directed by Vaclav Vorlicek. It was serialised for children's television. I think it was originally recorded for German television, so it has English subtitles. Which I had forgotten about. My children loved every minute of this film.

"Three Wishes for Cinderella" or "Three Nuts for Cinderella" was usually broadcast around this time of the year and has a very strong association with the excitement of Christmas for me.
A great film to be watched on a frosty night in front of the fire while drinking hot chocolate.

The film is so beautifully shot with amazing scenery and exquisite costumes. The story has only slight deviations from the traditional story of Cinderella but enough to add a little more magic.

This Cinderella is independent and in control of her own destiny, even if she relies on a bit of good fortune in the form of 3 magic walnuts which contain 3 wishes and some cool outfits.
The fact that Cinders rides horses and shots like a sharpshooter made it more appealing and enjoyable for the boys in our house.

I found the following trailer on Youtube.

Isn't the music great too ?
The DVD can be found here.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Oliver Postgate

Today we lost a wonderful man. Oliver Postgate died at his home aged 83.

He created some of the most imaginative children's books and television programmes ever made. You can read a tribute to him here.

Ive posted the following episode of "Bagpuss" because its my favourite.

When I think about how much I love Fairy Tales and creating things from fabric, I immediately think of this episode of Bagpuss.

I really do think that this Rag Doll house episode sparked inspiration and an interest that would last throughout my life and for that Mr. Postgate I will always be Thankful.

I've included the link below to a short documentary about this amazing Animator and his work.

The Youtube tribute put together by The Guardian can be viewed here.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Moving towards the future.

Last week was an important one for the most precious girl in my life.

Where we live in Ireland children aged between 10 and 11 sit two important exams which determine the school they will move to the following September.
M sat her second exam on Friday.

After months of hard work and concentration the pressure is now off. I'm looking forward to more time spent walking, talking and making and baking together.
It's a huge relief as fractions, times tables and long division aren't really my thing.
We just have to wait until February now for the results before we can choose her new school.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Still on the mushroom thing

Our little fungi hunting expedition has given me craving for all things mushroomy. I've been thinking of making some felted mushrooms after seeing a fabulous pattern "Myriads of Mushrooms" by Grace Schnebly posted on Kathryn Ivy blog.

The nearest craft shop to where I live has a very limited range of 100% wool yarn.
Two colours to be precise.
Lucky for me they were in hues of mushroom. I bought a ball each of Sirdar Eco Wool DK. It has a lovely homespun texture. I had to cross my fingers that it would felt well.

For the red toadstool caps I managed to find some 20g skeins of Red Anchor Tapisserie wool that had been reduced.

Due to the impulsive "have to make it Now!" aspect of my personality I bought it and hoped for the best.

The Tapisserie wool felted really quickly. I made a mental note to scoop up any reduced skeins on my next visit for felting.

Thought I'd post this pic of me tinkering with the mushrooms in the forest.

I'm still knitting and felting so there may be more mushrooms to follow.....

Seth Lakeman Rocked or should I say Folked !

A few evenings ago we had the good fortune to go and see Seth Lakeman again.

Seth sings songs with a story, which we love.

Following the folk tradition of recounting the past and using his own unique style.

Described as folk music for people who aren't ready to wear an aran jumper or stick their finger in their ear just yet.

Our video clip of the night didn't turn out so well so I've added the clip below to give you a little taste of the magic.
You can find our version here. Not so good due to the fact we were behind the sound desk and D's arm started to hurt. Anyway enjoy this clip, much better I think.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Fungi Foray

A few Sunday's ago we met in a nearby wood to search for mushrooms. The walk was led by some members of The Northern Ireland Fungus Group.

The weather stayed dry and the scenery was beautiful.

We were amazed at how many species and types of fungi we found.

Needless to say that the children made the best foragers.

They have such good eyesight and can spot even the smallest mushroom hidden amongst the leaves and moss.

The experts helped us to identify our finds.

Our favourite native mushroom was the Earth Star.

A cloud of spores is released by this mushroom when raindrops touch it, or when they are tapped lightly.

I found this clip of one releasing its spores.

Just magical.

By the end of the afternoon we had found lots of variety's of mushroom but none in sufficient quantities to cook.

However we did gather a great collection for M & O to bring to school.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Kitchen Poetry 7

M helping to make creamy vegetable soup for todays lunch.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Kitchen Poetry 6

Cookies for the weekend.

Got these ready before work this afternoon.
I hope to post some family in tomorrows Kitchen Poetry.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Kitchen Poetry 5

The view through my Kitchen door this morning.

A grey and dreary day but my little glass apple cheered me.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Kitchen Poetry 3... ( celebration breakfast )

After staying up into the wee small hours to watch an historic event on Tv.

A celebration breakfast was called for. Home made Soda Farls.
Soda bread is best cooked on a griddle and stored wrapped in a linen tea towel.

I'm so lucky to have been sent this beautiful hand stencilled linen tea towel by Maya of maya*made blog.

You can see more and purchase some of her gorgeous work here on Etsy.

This was the second batch.

The first batch ?

Well to be honest they didn't last long.

They are too delicious when eaten warm with butter.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Kitchen Poetry 2

I'm enjoying taking the photos for "Kitchen Poetry" so much. It is allowing me to see my kitchen in new ways. When I stopped to take this picture this morning I was taken by the colours. I probably wouldn't have noticed this corner much.

You can probably guess we are eating lots of plums at the moment. Don't you just love the rich colours of their skin?

I don't often buy golden delicious apples as I prefer a crisper, more tart apple but the colour of these against the purple plums is amazing. I can see those bananas may be destined for a smoothie this afternoon.

Homemade Chili Bean soup. Mum came for lunch. Just perfect for a frosty day.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Kitchen poetry 1

This is my kitchen this morning.

Well really at the moment its the only bit tidy enough to photograph. This week I'm following Toni from Simplesparrow.

She is encouraging everyone to show some "Kitchen poetry". The real life everyday stuff that happens in our kitchens. Everyone is invited to join.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Happy Celtic New Year Everyone

From Maya's hands to mine

A lovely thing happened yesterday.

A parcel arrived from across the Atlantic ocean. The contents were so delightful that I have decided to dedicate a post to each of them.

A few weeks ago I responded to a post by the wonderfully talented Maya of Maya*made.

How lucky was I to find that I was one of the winners in her giveaway.

Whats more that I could choose to have a custom made gift !

I just loved the beautiful stone dolls that Maya had painted. You can find them here and here.

This little doll made it's way to live in Ireland.

I am so grateful for this gift for so many reasons.

I love the fact that this stone is part of another continent.

I enjoy thinking of the history that surrounds stone dolls and like to think about the children who might have played with them in the past and the mothers who made them for their children.

I delight in the fact that someone so gifted took time to find, select, design and paint her for me !

I think the pattern on her dress is beautiful and I have just the place to keep her so that I can catch a glimpse of her everyday.

To me this doll is a symbol of kindness and generosity and the goodness that exists with in the blogging community.

Thank you Maya she will be loved.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Stepping stones

During the last few months we have been trying to go walking as a family. However because I work shifts its not always possible for me to go. Luckily D is always keen to lead an "expedition". This weeks involved stepping stones.

Scary and very slippery!

O has been collecting his walking equipment for some time. His compass, walking pole, rucksack together with First Aid kit and emergency chocolate!

His lately acquired Buff is definitely his favourite piece of kit.

The "Buff" was kindly given to him by a work college of mine who had heard that O enjoyed hiking.

It has been worn everyday in every combination that is shown in this clip!

Thanks Claire he really loves it.

Now I just need to workout how to get it off him for washing !

Friday, 24 October 2008

Apple inspiration

Every where I look at the moment there is an abundance of Apples. We visited a local Apple fair recently and picked up these beauties. They are Armagh Bramley's and taste delicious especially when picked fresh.

Every year when the Bramley's are in season and reasonably priced I make enough Apple chutney to keep us going through out the following year and a few extra pots for friends. The children love the spicy chutney with bread and cheese and prefer it to the shop bought pickles that can be very sharp in taste.

The recipe I use is one that was given to me by an old friend that I shared a house with when a student in Staffordshire. It's the recipe his Mum used and tastes delicious. It has the advantage of using dried spices so it is easy to make.

Apple Chutney Recipe

3 lbs cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped

3 lbs onions, chopped

1 lb sultanas

2 lemons, zest and juice

1 1/2 lbs demerara sugar

1 pint malt vinegar

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp garlic granules

- place all ingredients into a preserving pan and bring to the boil.

- reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally until thickened and no liquid remains.

- decant into warm sterile jars and seal.

- leave for 4 weeks for full flavour to mature.
This chutney will store for a year. Once open I tend to store the chutney in the fridge.

Apples have also been on my mind when crafting this week.

I found this pattern for an Apple Cozy by Casey at I think I'm gonna purl. You can find it here.
It's quick and easy to knit, although a little fiddly at the start with four needles to manage. I'm planning to knit a few more and vary the colours. I opted for a small wooden bead instead of the knitted bobble in the pattern. I've also seen other versions that have used buttons.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The Laziest Girl in Town

The past few weeks I've been procrastinating. In fact I think I'm turning it into an Art.

My to do list is growing by the hour and my enthusiasm for completing stuff is dwindling. I've been finding too many excuses to tackle the mountain of ironing which has grown in my kitchen . So that now the pile has reached such a dangerous level I'm worried that if it topples over it may injure a child.

So in true fashion, a few Sunday's ago when I really should have been sorting my house to make it pass Health and Safety standards, I was easily convinced by the girls to go see Mary Coughlan.

By coincidence her opening song was "The laziest girl in town" !

I've been trying to find Mary's version on line to share, but it's not there, I've looked. So I've linked is to Nina Simone's great version.

Mary Coughlan has been described in the Guardian as

"a red-haired warrior Queen with a voice like bleeding cherries".

It would be difficult to find a more accurate or fitting description. Mary sings it how it is, with no affectation or frills. Her new album "The House of Ill Repute" has just been released and is available here.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Gift for a Hen

My little cousin is getting married.
So last weekend we took her out to celebrate.
Everyone brought a small gift for the Hen.

This is what I brought.

The needle book is made from a scrap of Cath Kidston fabric and lined with red polka dots.

The basket contained pins, tailors chalk, thread and needles and a wooden darning mushroom.

The pin cushion is made of paper pieced hand sewn hexagons and topped with a vintage button.

The fabric on the bottom of the pin cushion matches the needle book.

I hope she will find it useful in her new home.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Blossom throw

I've been steadily working on the project that I started while staying in Wales and I think I have done enough to post a few pics of how its progressing.

Is that a stray marble and a dirty floor !

It's amazing the grime that shows up in a photo. Perhaps I should adopt photography as way to highlight the areas of my home that need some attention, I wonder if it would make me tidy?

Back to the blossoms. I had the idea of making a throw that would look like a carpet of flowers.

Here's a close up of the some of the squares,

The pattern is from this book -

Its by Jean Lienhausen and available here.

If you have a few minutes check out the funky crochet sweaters designed by Jean Lienhausen featured in this interview with her.

You can see the flower pattern I'm using on the bottom right corner of the book cover. I'm really pleased with this aspect of the throw. However after searching I am finding it difficult to turn up a suitable pattern for the "in between" squares. I have something in mind but can't find a pattern that is along the same lines. Unfortunately my crochet skills aren't developed enough to be able to make my own pattern just yet.

I suppose I'm searching for a granny square with leaves or a leaf on it. Any of the squares I have looked at so far have been to lacy and as the blossom squares are heavy it doesn't make a good match.

I would love to hear any suggestions, or of any books that might be of help.

Although I like the effect of the colour around the edge of the square. For example :-

I decided against edging every square with colour. Deciding instead to go with green "leaf"squares in between the flowers. Hopefully making it look less blocky when put together.

I've also been playing around with ideas for the edging, more on that later.........

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Enchantment in the evening

For a few nights a year a local park is turned into a theatre of enchantment. Children and adults walk with fairies and magical creatures in the Celtic Twilight.

The trees and plants a lit with beautiful colours and the fairies play music in the Palm houses .....

and dance for our entertainment.

This year the children dressed up and we took some friends to talk to the smoke breathing Dragon, the Wish Fairy and an enormous and very cheeky Troll.

Our Enchanted evening walk through the trees was lit in spectacular colours.

We brought candle lanterns to light the way and ate warm honeyed cashews.

You had to be quick and alert to catch a glimpse of some of the Fairie Folk.

The tree pixies were our favourites.
Such amazing puppets which were so expressive and beautifully made.

The tree lady towered over us at nearly ten foot tall but was so elegant and graceful.
We definately plan be visiting the Fairies again next year to celebrate Autumn.