Tuesday 20 December 2011

More creating and a new member of the family

We have been creating in the Sweetpea household again over the last few days.  I find that if I keep the children busy making things there is less time for them to wrestle with each other :-)

I thought I would share some of our creations just in case some of you wanted to have a go.  Firstly we made bird feeders in the form of pine cones covered in lard and seed.  Firstly we melted some lard.

oohh that stuff smells so yucky when you melt it !  We then tied some raffia to the tops of the pine cones to form a loop so they could be hung up.

I poured the melted lard into a cup and we dipped to pine cone into it.

When the lard had built up after a few dips we rolled them in bird seed - didn't get a photo as it got a bit messy at that stage (the kids really loved that part as you can imagine :-)).

We then hung them on the trees, they look really pretty hanging up, we hope the birds love them.

I also cut some strips of brightly coloured paper so that the children could make paper-chains, they love making these.

They really enjoyed this and spent ages sticking them together - even little Sweetpea created one (although it was a slightly different design to the traditional style paper-chain bless her).

They look lovely stuck up around the house.

Another item that is now hung up over the fire place is a pom pom garland.  A friend of mine lent me her pom pom makers, wow these are fab!  They make pom pom creating so much quicker, they might not be as full as the original style pom poms but they still look great.

I love our new fluffy garland !

Just had to pop this picture in too as I love the coloured lights over our other fireplace, they let off a lovely colourful glow :-)

And now for the new member of our family, here is Spike the hedgehog.  He was found on a dog walk the other night and when we weighed him at home we realised he was too small to be out in the cold.  We are feeding him slugs and snails which he pounces on (I never knew that hedgehogs pounced!).  Eldest Sweetpea is out most mornings looking for slugs for him.  He is putting on weight and seems very content.  Unless a hedgehog does look too small to be out or is out in the day I wouldn't recommend  moving them.  We only picked up Spike as he couldn't get up a curb and looked far to small to be out and about.

Just in case I don't get to blog again I would like to wish you all a very relaxing and lovely Christmas and New Year. x

Oohh I nearly forgot to leave you with a festive photo of me ........

Little Sweetpea wouldn't wear this for the nativity party at 'Little Lambs' so of course I stood in :-)  Do my ears look big in this photo ? :-)

Luckily my mates are just as crazy, we were the only ones dressed up  (BearsFootprints is below if you read her blog - oohh she will love me for this :-)).

Thursday 15 December 2011

Creating during winter ...... Quince and Felt

I thought I would take part in Thrifty Household's and Silver Pebble's Making Winter.  I too am not really a winter lover, I hate the pewter grey skys and the cold, I hate that I can't get out into the garden to potter and earth myself and what I hate most of all are the dark mornings :-(  So here goes with a bit of creativity to see if that helps lift my spirits :-)

A month or so ago I took advantage of my neighbours Quince tree and made some Quince Jelly from the book below.  I love this book, it is full of wonderful recipes ....

Image taken from Amazon site
I started off by roughly chopping the Quince.  This fruit has the most wonderful smell, it smells like flowers until you cut it and then it smells like pineapple.  When you stew it it then changes to the scent of apples.

I then stewed them ....

I hung them to drain off over night, I was going to make a net fruit bag but got this off e-bay for cheaper than I could create one in the end :-)

You then re-boil the liquid with lots of sugar until it becomes syrupy in consistency .  I did find I had to squeeze a lemon into it to get it to change more quickly although Quince are meant to be high in pectin.

I then sterilised some old coffee jars and jarred the jelly up.


It is a really lovely taste, sweet with a summery flowery taste .... hmmm I can't really describe it.  It goes really well with strong cheese or pork.  Here it is on a plate with some of my friends piccalilli :-)

I think I will make smaller jars next year as less is more with Quince Jelly.

I have also been playing with Merino wool with the children and had fun wet felting and needle felting with them.

Here are some little felted acrons I made :-)

Here are the children's.

After chatting the a lady who created gorgeous felted scarves about creating a tortoise in a walnut shell (she must have thought I was a little bonkers :-)) she suggested a pin cushion would be great too - she was right, I love this little pin cushion :-)

And then of course there are my son's (right) and my tortoises made out of walnut shells :-)

There is something else I am creating but that will have to stay secret for a little while longer .... this is the scene in my sock drawer (away from prying little eyes :-)).

Saturday 10 December 2011

A big smile on my face ... :-)

This morning I woke and decided to sit with a coffee in bed and catch up on some blog reading.  I was happily reading away and then noticed a blog update with the above image in my feed.  OOOhh I recognise that, I thought.

My darling son was down stairs creating blog posts selling his fimo creations :-)  How sweet is that!  I think I might have to buy one :-)  Just had to share that moment on here as it really did make me smile :-)

Pop over and have a nose at http://spontaneous-science.blogspot.com/ x

Thursday 8 December 2011

Thanks and Happbee Birthday....

Thank you for all your lovely comments on my last blog post, it is so nice to know I am not alone in needing space sometimes.  I have started digging in the garden in preparation for a hobbit house - well I can dream can't I :-)  Oohh just think how cosy it would be ....

This week seems to have been better, I went to work on Sunday which helps I think as it gives me some space to be me.  It was rather a sad day in many ways at work with death all around me (I work in a hospital) but also nice in a way that I could help just a tiny bit by listening to peoples worries and be there to hold a hand or two (the power of holding someones hand is amazing - it always surprises me just how much comfort someone can get from that simple human gesture).

Well back to this blog post, went off an a tangent then :-)  Mr Sweetpea was a whole 40 years old the other weekend so I took Sunday off work (hence my need for space lol).  We went out to Ely to potter around as a family which was lovely.  We had wanted to go to Spain but at £2000+ for last min tickets that idea went out of the window.

I made him a belated birthday cake due to a silly cold I had.  He wanted a bee cake to go with his new hobby of beekeeping.  Can you see middle Sweetpeas Queen Bee on the right ?  It was fun to make if not a little stressful with the eldest Sweetpea deciding to throw freezing cold water over the girls in the bath whilst I ran down to pop a couple of the flowers I had cut on to the cake.  Yes I was cutting icing flowers outside the bathroom so I could keep an eye on them in the bath, I left them for about 30 seconds and it all kicked off - Mr Sweetpea was on lates at work :-(

Here are the bees, I thought you may like an update on them.  In the winter you have to give them sugar water to try and keep the hive numbers up as there is not much nectar and pollen around in the garden.

Mr Sweetpea then put a hive top feeder on so they could stay in the warm hive and feed in there.  This meant going in to the hive .......  eeekkk.  He got his kit on and got the smoker ready .....

When it was smoking enough he went to the hive .....

He then puffed the hive with smoke and stood back for a while.  He learnt a valuable lesson from last time he went in to the hive - slow and steady wins the race :-)  You have to smoke the hive and leave it for a few minutes, re smoke and do that until they all calm down.  The reason for this is that if they get smoked they assume there is a forest fire, they rush in to the hive to suck all their honey up and then they get a sugar rush which makes them dozy.  I always thought it was the smoke creating a lack of oxygen that did it but you learn something new every day !

He then went in and took the current lid off and replaced it with a feeder lid.  We knew the hive numbers had grown but look what they had created on the lid - isn't it wonderful.

So pretty to look at!  We have yet to open it up for its honey :-)  Some of the bees have already died away due to the cold weather, this is quite normal but still rather sad seeing them dead in front of the hive :-(  I hope the winter isn't too harsh for them.

Thanks for reading my ramblings, sorry they have been rather moany of late - parenthood is hard sometimes isn't it.  I know where I am with babies, I find them so easy but this hormonal time the kids are going through is a whole new ball game :-s

Take care

Monday 28 November 2011

Looking for a hideaway .....

Image from http://www.littlehouseinthevalley.com/recycled-residences
Thanks for all your wonderful, supportive comments on my last blog post.  It seems a lot of us Mums could do with a bolt hole away from the madness of family life :-)  I have therefore been looking for a property for us all :-)  Just think how wonderful it would be to hide away in one of these places.  Love the hobbit house (or cob house as they are known) above.

 Or how about a little Gypsy Caravan ....


A cute little garden studio, we could use a hammock as a bed :-)


A cute little pod that looks like some sort of bird creature .....

Or a converted, very pretty garden shed .....

Or maybe a Camper just like the ones shown on Suz Place's blog ....

We could all club together and buy somewhere where we could run away and just be 'me' for a while.  We could do something creative, read books, potter around the garden or even just snooze without interruption :-)  We could have a rota so that we all got away for a couple of nights every few months.  Oooohh what a dream (this dream is taking place whilst Eldest Sweetpea is asking me a mathematics equation :-S)!  One day, one day I will have a little space of my own but I probably won't NEED it then :-) 

Sorry for all the dreaming :-) The Sweetpeas were meant to go to their Nan and Grandads this weekend just gone but none of them wanted to go in the end :-(  Mr Sweetpea was 40 so we wanted some very rare time for ourselves but that all went out of the window.  They don't often sleep round their Grandparents so we were looking forward to it , hey ho.  I have also had a bad cold for the last few days (11 days and counting) which seems to be getting worse rather than better -  grrr I spent last night from 1.30 am - 3.30 am watching tv because of it, just when I don't need to lose any more sleep.  I have therefore been grateful for little things that make me happy :

My wool stash has arrived :-)  I am not sure about the turquoise just yet, some days I love it against the other colours, other days I don't.

I received a lovely soap from Handmade Haven , wow it smells nice and was so nicely packaged :-)

I have also been enjoying creating felted things for my facebook shop and for home :-)

I hope you have  a fantastic week free from germs and horrid colds. xxx

Monday 21 November 2011

Trying not to feel exasperated .....

I was recently lucky enough to win a complementary ticket to the Country Living Fair in London which was running the other weekend.  The lovely Mary Kilvert sent me the ticket - pop over to her blog and look at the lovely sheep she created ! 

I was so excited at the prospect of going plus a little nervous at the same time.  When I used to work full time I didn't think twice about getting on the train to London for conferences but since having children it isn't something I do. I worked out that Saturday was the best day to go due to train prices, school runs and work (it would cost £40+ if I didn't go during off peak times in the week :-o).  I went on Google map and walked down the road from the underground station I would stop at so I knew exactly where I was going to go.  I was going to take little Sweetpea and it would have been her first train ride. 

Wednesday the tickets arrived and I did think of going on Thursday but school runs put a stop to that idea.  As Saturday approached , my gorgeous little Sweetpea decided to go back to waking 3+ times a night for a couple of nights :-(  Saturday morning arrived and I was exhausted, having my usual dizzy spells bought on by sleep deprivation (I even become dizzy just sitting still when I have had a few really bad nights) and generally felt terrible with no energy to go to London :-(  I was gutted!

To stop me feeling annoyed by the circumstances that had arisen I decided to drive up the road to Blackthorpe Barn (near Bury St Edmunds), I am so glad I did - what a joy that place is !  It was full of local artists showing and selling their creations.  Eldest Sweetpea came along with me and we had a lovely time looking at all the gorgeous creations.  I had a lovely chat to lots of wonderful creative people and Eldest Sweetpea was given a bookmark from a lovely watercolour artist, Katie Millard, and a felt bead from a lady call Cathy who creates gorgeous things out of felt - it was so sweet of them to give him a piece of their artwork.  I even bumped into a lady who had a stall with the most gorgeous silver work (click link to see scrummy buttons wrapped in silver) who lives in our village.  I had heard her name mentioned in magazines before but had never put a name to the face so I was surprised and happy to see a familiar face there.

I came home with two lino-print cards created by the artist Penny Bhadresa, she had some lovely prints on show and Eldest Sweetpea really wanted one for his room (one day we will save up for the real thing for him :-)).  I also got two other lovely postcards created by Abigail Mill, she created the most exquisite creations out of fabric, silk, lace - the original images look 3D and her use of colours is gorgeous.  3 little ceramic spotty egg cups also launched themselves into my bag, one for each Sweetpea - they are so sweet. 

I must still admit to feeling a little annoyed at having missed the Country Living Fair and a little trapped with the life of being a Mum 24/7 but that trip made me feel a whole lot better!  Having been ill for a few days has again made me feel that way, I went to work on Sunday just to have a break from the 'madhouse' when really I should have been in bed getting better (but then the Sweetpeas would have joined me in bed and probably had a pillow fight over my head!). 

Don't get me wrong, I do love them all dearly but sometimes a little space is nice, oohh how I would love my own little flat somewhere, where I could escape for a few days rest every now and again......... dream on Zoe :-)  Mind you then I would probably miss them all too much :-)

Moan over :-)  x

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Easy Skirt Tutorial

Thanks for all your helpful comments on my last post re the crochet urge, I am now picking colours and will blog as soon as some wool arrives :-)

Now this blog post comes after chatting to a friend some time ago about a skirt I made little Sweetpea.  I promised to do her a photo tutorial of it but as always it has taken me some time to get around to doing this.  I made this skirt back in August - how does time fly that fast! 

I saw this lovely skirt design on Patch Fabrics site and just had to buy the fabric to make Sweetpea one - she is still in love with ladybirds so she loves this skirt.

So here we go.  You will need some fabric of your choice, 1 1/2 meters of ribbon and 1 1/2 meters of ric-rac.

First measure the length you would like the skirt to be and add 2 " to that for the seams.  Lay out your fabric - you will be using the whole width of the fabric selvedge to selvedge (this is the part of the fabric where the manufacturer prints the fabric info on).  Measure the length you want the skirt to be and cut along there.

Now get some lovely ribbon and pin it along the bottom edge of the fabric on the reverse side.

Now sew along the top of this ribbon all the way along to fix it to the skirt.

Now you need to fold the ribbon back over so it faces the right side of the fabric - didn't take a photo sorry :-(  Your sewing will be along the bottom edge of the ribbon now.  Sew along the new top of the ribbon, this will lock in the edge of the fabric and stop any fraying.

Now sew the ric-rac into place, I popped it a couple of inches about the ribbon but you can pick where you want it.  It may be an idea to pop it in place with a few dots of fabric glue to make it easier to sew.

Now fold the fabric in half so that the right sides are facing in (e.g. your pretty pattern is not showing on the outside anymore) and pin along the selvedge.  Your ribbon should be along the bottom on the inside.  Sew along the pinned area with roughly a 1/2 inch seam - make sure you sew so that no selvedge is showing.

Now make sure your seem is open to make for a neater finish (it isn't the end of the world if you forget though :-)).  Now for the waist.  Keeping the skirt facing wrong side out fold over the top edge 1/2 inch.

Fold it over again 7/8 inch (or just over 1/2 inch in English :-))  This will seal in the edge again to stop fraying and make a nice hidden area for your elastic.  I iron my seams into place to make it easier to sew.

Now sew along the bottom edge of this seam but leave an area where you will be threading your elastic through.

This is where you will thread the elastic through.  Now measure your child's waist and take off a couple of cm's for the elastic measurement - I always test the length whilst it is on her too (be careful to avoid bungee episodes though :-)).  Now pop a safety pin on the end of your elastic and feed it through the the hole and around the seam.  I pin the other end to the skirt too so I don't end up taking the elastic all the way through and out again :-)

Now whilst doing all this remember to keep an eye on the future owner of this gorgeous skirt, if not you may find this sort of thing happens .....

Yogurt everywhere, apparently she became suddenly hungry and helped herself !

When you have threaded the elastic through sew it together and then sew the hole shut - yey one new skirt!