Tuesday, 31 May 2011

WALES Days 2 & 3: Rain rain go away

Yesterday was a bit of a washout - it rained for most of the day. We'd arranged to meet with some local babywearers but the weather scuppered those plans. 

Thankfully, Mum's three decades of working with children was put to great use and she conjured up some rainy day activities to keep them busy. I even managed a lay-in (I've been feeling poorly) while they 'redecorated' the kitchen... 

One entire wall is covered in A3 pictures like this
... and Mum made yummy lunch (from this recipe) ...

...and then, because it was raining and it was a bank holiday and not much was open and we were pretty desperate to get out of the house and do SOMETHING, we made a trip to the one place My Boy really wanted to visit. 

It's a huge building in Caerphilly where the lad is usually completely mesmerised. It never ceases to put a smile on his face. No, I know what you're thinking, but it's not the ginormous 13th Century Medieval Castle smack-bang in the centre of town, it's .... ASDA!!! Seriously. That is where he always wants to go when he's here. He is not really used to going to supermarkets (we have our groceries delivered and visit the small shops in our village but rarely go to mega stores like this) and it's an adventure for him (me too, if I'm honest!). Could also have something to do with the things Nanna buys for him there. 

By the time we got back, ate a roast chicken dinner and bathed the kids that was pretty much it for yesterday *shrug* (although I did get some crochet done, but more on that tomorrow).

We were SO happy to wake up to sunshine this morning and when Little Miss woke from her nap, headed off to Cwmcarn Forest, planted since 1922 to reclaim waste land. 

It's hard to imagine that a century ago there were barely any trees there at all as it's so lush and green and beautiful (a testament to all that rain). 

The little ones managed a bit of walking, and a modest picnic by the lake, but I think the place would be ideally suited to older children with more stamina as it's pretty steep and hilly. So we mostly kept to the paths and watched the ducks. (My Boy took some great duck photos but the internet connection here is too shoddy to upload them  and it keeps timing out.)

We even had a little bit of blue sky.

There is a stunning 7 mile drive through the forest, but we preferred to be out of the car and into the fresh air, so we left that for another visit. I'm sure this is somewhere we will return to many times in the future. 

Tomorrow is our last full day here and we're hoping for fine weather so we can go to the Castle. Fingers and toes crossed for that.

Before I go, I'd like to share a link to the Guest Post on Soulemama's blog today - Mother Love by Meredith Winn, beautiful words and the final picture actually made me laugh out loud. Enjoy xxx
Monday, 30 May 2011

Book Sharing Monday: The Nursery Collection by Shirley Hughes

The Nursery Collection by Shirley Hughes 
This hardback edition - ISBN 0-7445-3210-8
Since my own childhood I have loved Shirley Hughes, and about 3 years ago I picked up this delightful book at Oxfam - many of our favourite books have been discovered there. It has been a firm favourite of My Boy since then. Oh, the times we have cwtched up and read it together!

There are five different stories collected in this edition which includes colours, sounds, opposites and numbers. There are also lovely scenes of nature throughout the seasons. As to be expected from Hughes, it is packed with wonderfully detailed illustrations of a little girl and her baby brother and the things they experience in everyday family life. 

It's fun to read because of the memorable rhyming couplets - the children quickly learn to join in with the last word - and perhaps also because there is scope to add a little performance when reading it aloud - who could resist

"Whisper very quietly, 
Shout OUT LOUD!"

Little Miss found the love last week - documented in Friday's {This Moment} - and I'm so happy to be enjoying it again with fresh eyes :-)

For more children's book recommendations or to make your own, click here
Sunday, 29 May 2011

WALES Day 1: There's a reason Wales is so green!

Who turned off the colour?
After a long and thankfully uneventful journey, we arrived in Caerphilly yesterday afternoon. 

As is all too frequently the case it started raining just before we approached the Severn Bridge into Wales and hasn't stopped since - a distinct difference from the blue skies we left at home. I am hoping this means we get our entire allocation of Welsh rain now, and not during our summer holiday here in July!

My mum/"Nanna"'s house was wrecked within an hour (possibly an all-time record!) and when there were no more toys and books to pull out and re-discover, they made more mess preparing dinner:
Making French bread pizza with Nanna while Oscar tries to ignore them!
After a good sleep, we all had a great day today despite the weather, including an afternoon with MY Nanna and Grampy. 

I count each visit to my remaining set of (octogenarian) grandparents as a blessing - they are great fun and very amusing to chat to. (Funny Story of the Day: Nanna swallowed her tooth while she was eating some nuts!) And after we'd chatted, the old photo albums came out which was a real treat. 

Never looked good in yellow!
Having spent almost every weekend with them for my first decade or so, their albums are a pretty good document of my early life. I sometimes wonder whether I look back with the rose-tinting of fast-approaching-middle-age and that maybe I imagine things differently to how they really were. If that's the case, the photos have also been doctored as they depicted the loving times I remember, as well as all manner of dubious 70s clothing choices!

The funny thing about getting older is you don't realise that it's happening to you. I don't really feel any different to how I felt as a child. Yet looking back on these pictures, they don't seem like they are pictures of me at all - I still look similar and I do remember many of them being taken, but they could be of someone else entirely - that little girl isn't me, surely? How can it be? I wonder how it will feel to see my kids growing up, becoming adults, having their own lives possibly far away from me. I really can't imagine it at all. And whilst I talk to my grandparents by phone each week, I make the 4 hour journey to see them quite infrequently these days so in my mind they are still quite young and full of life - not the old people they have actually become.  Time is a very funny thing.

Anyway, here are a few of my favourite pictures from today 

THEN - 1970s grandparents just as I remember them - check out the sideburns!...
...and NOW - recorded  in wood by my father last year - uncanny likenesses
Even in the 70s the sky was grey here - but check out that backdrop! 
with Grampy - my favourite person for a long time (shhhhh, don't tell Nanna)
a rare pic with my father who was in the Royal Navy - this looks SO much like my children! 
But the prize for the best (or worst, whichever way you look at it) surely has to go to ........ *drumroll*

Wrapped in swathes of fabric to create an outfit with class and style 

I've clearly always has such a tremendous sense of style!!!!!! And don't the gloves finish it off just perfectly!?! (You'll understand now why I love babywearing with woven wraps so much.)

I have managed a grand total of zero on the productivity scale today but we did make a trip to Ikea to get some Bekvam spice racks  to do this when I get home...

Source: lafactoriaplastica.com via Sarah on Pinterest
... and some other fabric supplies and "bits and pieces" too,  but more on those in another post as I think it's time for a glass of wine with my mum. 

Aaahhhh - life is good for me today - I hope it is for you too xxxx 

Ta-dah! Dem bones, dem bones, dem FINISHED bones!!!!!

It is with great joy that I announce the Boneyard Shawl is FINALLY completed!!!!!!! It really hasn't taken that long when I consider how little time I've spent actually working on it, but it feels like it's been in progress forever - since May 8th to be exact. 

It does need some light blocking to neaten the edges, but no time for that today as I am busy packing for a Half Term trip to Wales with the children tomorrow morning - so I'll just show you as it is - in its natural glory...

Loving those colours...
...and the slubby irregular texture

The reverse side reminds me of Savoy Cabbage - thankfully I love Savoy Cabbage!


I think it has the potential to grow quite a lot more but I like the rough, natural look of it at the moment and based on the same yarn which I used for my Spring Shawl, I know I'd lose that with too much blocking. (Plus there's always the worry that this yarn will just rip apart if stretched too hard - in some places it seems it hasn't been spun at all and is quite fragile.)

So here are the particulars:

Yarn: Noro Kureyon Sock - colourway S150
Cost: Yarn x 2 @ £5.50 per 100g = £11.00
There are some further notes on my Ravelry project page.

With this finished, it's time to get onto some more crochet - I am itching to start a granny blanket and the yarn and hooks are awaiting! Now, how to keep find the motivation to pack bags, tidy the house and get organised for our trip...?

To see more Finished Objects, please visit Tami's Amis and click on the links :)
Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Strange skies & a Dragon!

On the way to school this morning we were marvelling at the amazing sky - 
there wasn't a single cloud to be seen - anywhere!

Little Miss was very perplexed by the moon which could be seen very clearly (although it was a bit camera shy) - she asked if she was having milk and going to bed when we got home :-) 

Then, on the way to collect My Boy this afternoon the clouds looked amazing, as if they'd just been exhaled. Beautiful! 

And we were introduced to the new family member - My Boy's new pet dragon ....

Our internet provider is being changed over tomorrow so if there is silence, please don't worry
I'm sure it'll be that and not a dragon on the rampage! 

WIP Wednesday (25/5/11): Around and around we go!

An unexciting update from me this week as it's been more of the same  - more crochet practice and more loooooong row knitting to get the Boneyard Shawl finished before the end of the week, so I have very little to show you today.

From WIP to FO in
a split second decision
I posted a few days ago that I'd started a circular cushion cover but I wasn't very pleased with the joins at the start/end of the rounds. Thanks to the lovely Gingerbread Girl for pointing me in the direction of this tute,  my joins have improved so I decided to leave the circle as it was and use it as a tablemat *grin*. This way the imperfections are hidden by my lamp and I could start the cushion cover again. I haven't had much time since I made that decision so I've only done a few rounds so far...

Version 1 (now the tablemat) is on the left in these comparisons. Oh and I haven't sewn up the latest round on version 2 yet ...

Still not perfect, although this cotton is pretty unforgiving, but from a distance it's going to look much better. You may notice the centre circle is also much more satisfactory :)

So that's about it so far... but look what arrived this morning!!!!

Yes! I finally have a Stylecraft DK pack to start an Attic 24 blanket!!!!! (This is WHY I wanted to learn crochet, afterall.)

At this point I must mention the wonderful service I had from Masons yesterday. I ordered one of these packs from a different company with Christmas money (yes, THAT long ago) and having chased them in February, March and this month it has still not arrived - despite their promises that it was already posted a week ago. Yesterday I called Masons at 15:50 and checked their stock, they took my order straight to the post office and it arrived this morning *thumbsup* So if you're in the UK and looking for this pack, they'd certainly get my vote. 

In the middle of the 17 balls of smooshy scrumptiousness, you may have noticed a load of notions including some great non-snag plain stitch markers so I can finally get on with the Summer Mystery Shawl KAL that I cast on a couple of weeks ago and then realised I didn't have a spare 15 small stitch markers (whoops!) 

And that's it! I should be back on Friday with my Boneyard Shawl FO (finally!!!!!) and in the meantime, I'm heading off to Tami's Amis to see what everyone else is making. 

Monday, 23 May 2011

How the wind blows

(c) Little Miss 
The roses in our garden are taking a real battering today and the lawn looks like it's been confettied *sigh* Little Miss has been desperate to play outside, but each time we venture out the wind is so strong she wants to come back in again... and so it goes on. She has busied herself instead with a dressing up box full of beads and play silks and, as I later discovered from my iPhone, tried her hand at photography. That and 'helping' me put away the huge grocery delivery. By helping, of course I mean emptying things all over the kitchen floor and then putting them away in the wrong cupboards. Luckily I found everything (including the garlic & herb cream cheese in the pantry cupboard) quite quickly.

My Boy went on a school outing to a meadow to look for Mini Beasts (when were 'creepy crawlies' rebranded? I obviously missed that one!) By all accounts he managed to find an ant. Honestly.....? AN ANT!?! We have about a billion of them in our garden who are trying to invade our home on an hourly basis (a battle I WILL NOT let them win) so this was probably far more disappointing than he let on - and I'm sure I noted a hint of longing in his voice when he mentioned a worm that his friend found. Regardless, he had a good day and I think the real highlight for him was a picnic (packed lunch) back at the school afterwards. He usually has a cooked meal at lunch time so I think this made up for the lack of beastly adventure. Oh, and he happily took an apple in a crocheted jacket too - bless him. I wonder how many more years I have of him finding everything I made to be "beautiful", "wonderful" or at the least "very nice, Mum"?

And back at home, I managed the Monday Mountain [of laundry] - why does my daily laundry routine suddenly stop at the weekend? I know it doesn't make sense, and regret it every Monday, but I still do it every week. So when the third load was washed, dried and folded and Little Miss had her nap I did this...

Room for improvement at the start/end of the rounds
It's intended to become a cushion cover to live on my Cwtch sofa and is based on this tutorial. It's really just a bit of a practice while I (continue to) wait for my big pack of colourful yarn - it's not perfect at the joins yet but I'm finding I'm no longer gripping the hook hard enough to bruise my index finger (which I was last week) and am actually getting into a rhythm with it. I can also tell by looking when I need to do the 'increase' stitch which is another huge improvement on last week and requires much less concentration/counting.  Each time I look at it and have a grrr thought about the imperfections, I remind myself that I have been crocheting for 6 days and it's fine - this makes me much happier and has (so far) prevented me from undoing the lot :) 

For this project I'm still using the Wendy Sublime Cotton DK and I'm not finding it very satisfying to crochet as the strands split apart very easily and I either have to go very slowly or redo stitches. I really don't want to spend a lot on nicer yarn at the moment - I'll wait until my technique is better and for now will just enjoy the learning process. 

This evening I shall be cracking on with my Boneyard Shawl. I've decided that I will be finished on Friday no matter what - the finished size will be whatever size it is at the end of the week - otherwise it's something that will just go on forever! This picture was taken a few days ago although progress is now very slow and I've probably only managed a few more rows since then. 

And finally, I really wanted to join in with Booksharing Monday as we're a house of book-lovers (even D has converted thanks to the Kindle App on his iPad) and when I recently posted our Five Favourite Family Books I went with the books that are enjoyed by EVERYONE. Today I'm going to post one that  My Boy and I really love - 

Paperback - ISBN 1407108824 

Stick Man lives in the family tree with his stick family and one day while he's out for a walk, he's picked up by a dog for a game of catch. And so begins a long journey far from his home (where his stick lady love & kids are missing him), and through the changing seasons as he's used as all sorts of things by all sorts of people and creatures... but just longs to return home. 

This is such a touching story - the illustrations are funny, the rhyming is superb, and there is so much pathos (I actually feel quite choked when I read it!) Will he get back to his family tree in time for Christmas?? This is a fabulous book at any time of year, but the seasonal ending would make it a superb Christmas gift for a child of any age - even one as old as me :)

You can see other recommendations, and add your own by clicking here
And if you're looking for something else to read, I'm taking part in the BritMums May BlogHop - click the link to find a list of other posts
Sunday, 22 May 2011


While D took the children to his sister's, I had the absolute pleasure of attending a friend's Blessingway today. I'll be honest, I hadn't been to one before and really didn't know what to expect. The invitation said... 
A blessingway is not a baby shower, but a rather more spiritual celebration of pregnancy, birth and motherhood. Blessingway has its roots in Navajo tradition, and we have borrowed and adapted this ancient custom. Today the blessingway is a small gathering of the close women family and friends of a pregnant woman, to inspire, nurture and celebrate her during the last weeks of pregnancy. 

Please bring ~  
  • a bead or two for a birthing necklace, 
  • a blessing in the form of a poem, song or simply a sentence,
  • an object, picture or symbol for my birthing altar
  • some food to share

...and this gave me some inkling as to the nature of the proceedings but I really didn't expect it would be quite so moving.

The preparation naturally brought to mind my own children's births - not something I like to think about too much as neither was a positive experience for anyone involved and both babies ended up in SCBU/NICU, but it felt that being a part of a more positive and celebratory ritual would redress some of that and it certainly seemed that way during the ceremony when I felt quite deeply moved by the words of the celebrant Keeley, and of the other women.

I wanted my beady gifts to be handmade, although I haven't ever made anything like this before so I opted for some very simple beads made from Fimo

(As is often the case with my crafting, it was a bit of a 'learn as I go' attempt and only AFTER I made them I found this great tutorial which would have been so much nicer, but it's given me inspiration for future projects!)

And for the poem I chose these words...

Birth Blessing by Natalie Evans
Close your eyes and breathe deep
Breathe in peace, breathe out pain
Imagine your feet
Toes curling into dirt
Think of yourself as rooted
Think of your place in the earth
How did you come to be here?
Through generations of women named
A maternal lineage
That brought you to this place
Think of their birth stories
What you know, what you believe to be true
Realize that their births carry deep wisdom
Some may carry the memory of joy and transcendence
Each birth is a powerful experience
Each birth traces down to you.
Just as you pass this knowledge on to your baby
Understand that your birth is your own
It will be different from all others
Like the swirls in your thumb
Your birth will have a unique pattern
Unfolding with each contraction
Rising and falling like a newborn’s chest
This birth belongs to you
This birth is an opening
This birth is the end and a beginning
May this blessing of birth come to you without fear
May this blessing of birth come to you with great understanding
My this blessing of birth make your heart soar
May this blessing of birth bring shouts of delight to your lips
Blessings to you and your birth.

Our friend's bump was painted with henna while she received a foot massage with essential oils, we each gave our wishes and blessings to her for her impending birth and the next phase in her mothering journey and there was a wrist binding ritual that symbolises the way we are all connected as women. We will each continue to wear the red thread on our wrists until the baby is born, and each have a candle to light whilst our friend is in labour. At the end we chatted over the food we had all brought.  It was very beautiful and touching to be a part of the ceremony, and also to be part of a circle of women sharing themselves in support of another - something that is probably still an integral part of many (tribal) societies but generally, and sadly, missing from ours. 

And now I'm home to a quiet contemplative evening of knitting in my Cwtch - the perfect end to a truly lovely day. 

I hope your Sunday has also been full of love and happiness xxxx

FO Friday: Success!!! (On a very small scale)

Just a few little Finished Objects this week but I can't tell you how chuffed I am because... THEY ARE ALL CROCHET!!!!!

Firstly this Crochet Apple Jacket made from the pattern in Mollie Makes first issue. 

Of course, once I started I wanted to make another.

Here's a "Manly" adjustable one too, for D's work bag - he usually complains I don't make anything for him (and has openly mocked the Apple Jacket) so let's see if he uses it *doubtful look* 

Two buttons to fit snugly over large or small fruit 

And my final one, is based on this pattern from Attic 24 - the blog that got me so excited about crochet in the first place. (I made a few little additions to fit the top of jar, detailed here.) I really wanted to make another quick crochet pattern yesterday so I scraped the jam remnants from a jar that was in the fridge and used the only suitable yarn I had (leftovers from other projects - can you spot which ones??). I'll be honest, it's a bit too 60s for my taste in these colours, but I'm sure I can find a home for it somewhere. 

I'll definitely be saving my jars to make more of these (I am already fancying the Nutella jar as a pencil holder). I know it's only a small simple start, but the fact that I've actually made some things from crochet patterns gives me confidence that I WILL be able to make some of the lovely items I have been lusting over on the crochet blogs for so long!!! Next step, the Summer Garden Granny Square

My other knitting projects are still on-going and I'm hoping to have finished my shawl for next Friday *crosses fingers*.  In the meantime, you can see lots of other people's Finished Objects by clicking the links at Tami's Amis 

Hope you have a splendiferously wonderful weekend! 
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