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.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Romany hideaway

At the end of September we were 12 years married !
The question was where to celebrate.

We thought this was the perfect place.

The Romany vardo was in the most perfect and tranquil location. Hidden away in the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons, Wales.

A few days away from everything. Time to recharge and spend some time alone. The weather stayed fair, if a little overcast, but no rain.

The Vardo was so cozy and comfortable and the pretty fairy lights that greeted us on our arrival made it all feel magical.

I loved the painted decoration that covered both the inside and outside. The tiny stove was beautiful. And as for that gorgeous rose chintz fabric !

It was as if the Vardo had been built specially for me. Totally delightful. I honestly don't think I have ever stayed anywhere prettier.

We spent the weekend relaxing and watching the squirrels in the trees by day and the bats swooping around us by night.

The sky was so clear at night that due to the lack of city light pollution we could see the whole display of stars. It's amazing when you take the time to watch the night sky just how many shooting stars you can see in one night.

The little time away from the demands of working and running a family gave me time to work on a project I have been planning for a while now. I have had the idea of making a throw and in the process using up some of my stash of Rowan hand knit cotton. I must admit that I love this yarn, the texture, workability along with fabulous colours make it my favourite.

I'm hoping to post in more detail about this project soon as it is rapidly growing and I'm pleased with the colours. I might need a little help deciding on the boarders and I'm hoping for some suggestions.