Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Friends, music and a happy unchristmas

Reasons to be cheerful

Hello, I hope you all had a good weekend. I certainly did, so while I'm stuck in bed recovering over the next few days I thought I'd gradually write a post to tell you all about it. I had such a lovely weekend filled with, music, fun and friends.

Simple pleasures really sitting around the kitchen table with friends, we chatted, laughed, enjoyed good food, played music and sang songs and had a very belated Christmas get together, while the children played and ran around. The makings for a perfect weekend  with so many reason to be cheerful.

Reason one: Good food

 My friend who was hosting prepared some wonderful meals, over the weekend cooking for seven I suspect is not an easy tasks.  Especially as she was kind enough to prepare something different and tummy friendly for me. living with food intolerance's and allergies can be tricky when away from home, so I was very grateful, and touched by her thoughtfulness.  Over the weekend yummy home made cakes, were enjoyed with a nice cup of tea while we chatted, we had a lovely Lemon Drizzle cake, made by my friend who drove us down to Brighton. With some help from my mum I managed to make the above Choc Chip Star cakes, baking one day then decorating the next, and the good thing about them is they are completely dairy free. Please leave a comment if you want me to share the recipe in another post.

Reason two : Gifts

Not the best photo, but it will have to do. For various reasons this weekend was a very belated Christmas get together, we tried to meet up in January, but the weather had other idea's about that and a lot of snow forced us to cancel, but in a way it's nice to get belated gifts as you have time to appreciate them more away from the frenzied present opening of Christmas day. The children pulled some left over crackers and there was much excitement, and they ate a very unchristmas dinner of spaghetti bolagnese. Do you want to see the presents I got.

I was very lucky, I was given this lovely vintage style bracelet from Acccessorize, (I love Monsoon and accessorize stuff so much.) and I also got this pretty tin bird, which is hanging happily on my blossom lights. As you know from my previous posts I do love all things birdie   'here'

Reason three: A trip to the park

By the afternoon, after the excitement of presents the mini's were starting to suffer from a touch of cabin fever, so a trip to the local park was decided upon. We all bundled up as it was freezing outside, snow had been slowly falling all day on and off.  It was the second outing for my new wheelchair, I took this photo of 'The Pepper Pot' on the way to the park, which was a bit of a tricky journey.

Like many other towns and City in the UK the drop kerbs for wheelchair access never seem to match, so you cross a road at a low kerb only to get to the other side where none is to be found. I really don't understand what the town planners or whoever make these decision are thinking. You don't realise how much of a problem this is until you are stuck in  a wheelchair, even with a buggy or pram which is light enough to bump up the kerb, it's seems crazy. Rant over.

 After the mini's had blown off some steam and the grown ups needed defrosting it was time  for home. This part of Brighton is not very flat so my friends had quite a workout pushing the wheelchair back up the hill. Then it was time for another cuppa and a rest for me. I took the photo at the top of the page from the park.

Reason four: Live music

One of the reasons we planned our trip for last weekend was because my friend's band had there first gig of the year.. The wonderful 'Hatful of Rain'  what a talented bunch they are. They released there first album 'Way Up On The Hill' last year. On the Union Record Store label to great reviews. They are a Bluegrass/Old Time influenced band who play mostly there own original music which is a blend of Folk/ Roots and some traditional stuff too. Recently they have been up to London to record a session for Bob Harris on BBC Radio 2 which is due to be aired on the 23/24 March, so that's definitely worth checking out, it's on late at night so the iplayer is probably you're best bet, that's how I'm going to be listening. I guess you could say they are Americana with a distinctive British folk twist.

Any road they played up a storm on Saturday night, it's so wonderful to be able to go and listen to great live music.  It was a rare night out for me.  They were supported by 'Solid Gone' who also delighted the crowd with some great pickin. There rendition of  'East Virginia Blues' was my favourite song on there set list. Such wonderful playing.

Reason five: Crafting with the mini's


I even managed to fit in a bit of early morning crafting with my friends little girl, we went to work with some colouring pens and a star punch and made these tiny colourful stars.

Well I best be off, I'll leave you with this video of 'Hatful of Rain' album title track 'Way up on the Hill' which Bob Harris described it as 'Hauntingly Beautiful .... I Love it'

Happy listening
Clare x

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Retail Therapy crafty style

On Monday my sister took me on a wheelchair adventure, to get some new craft supplies, off we went with my new shiny wheelchair in the car. My old chair was replaced at the end of last year as it was basically falling apart with old age. So I now have a sleek shiny black wheelchair, replacing my old red one. Although I still haven't figured out why the new one has a seat belt!! We went a few miles up the road to two craft superstores which is quite a big day out for me.

I was like a kid in a candy store, so many wonderful things to look at and buy, buttons, ribbons, beads and thread we found to be hopping into my basket.  I have a bit of a thing for ribbons and buttons, although I only bought items for projects I already have planned. So you'll be seeing them put to good use in the near future. Although I do have to confess to being the proud owner of  a small ribbon collection.

I probably bought a few more bits than I actually intended to, but I did have a 25% discount voucher, so I was saving money really!! and it'll all come in very useful.

Who could resist these pretty paper flowers, I had a box of them last year and made so many card, so I just had to get some more. The butterflies I'm hoping might come in handy with the Spring time wreath I'm making, I have already crocheted a butterfly and I'm hoping to make some more, so these are a back up really, just in case I run out of time.

As well as some pretty buttons I also bought some card making supplies, a couple of glitter glues and some pearlised gems in blue and cream, which I think will be easier to use than the pearl beads I had been using on my cards here 

I also treated myself to a couple of magazines as they both had articles about making flowers, which is very  handy for the spring time project. I love 'Mollie Makes' and buy one every now and then, but I've never come across this 'making' magazine before, so I think it must be quite new. I think I'll lose myself amongst the wonderful pages tomorrow afternoon, when I'm in bed recovering after my physiotherapy. 

I didn't only buy crafting supplies, I also bought these beautiful Polyanthus, to brighten up the window boxes on the Summerhouse, aren't they cheery, such vibrant colours of spring time.

I won't be posting for a few days as I'm going away to stay with friends at the weekend. So it'll be a couple of bed rest day for me before to try and summon up some energy for the weekend and then a few days in bed when I get back.  I started to put some things in a bag today, so it's done and I can just rest, for some reason Merli seems to think he coming too.

Have a happy weekend
Clare x 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Summerhouse knit pickin

Morning all, look how stunning the mini iris are today, I couldn't  resist tasking a pic to share with you all.

The summerhouse, like me, is just starting to wake for it's winter hibernation, over the last week or so I've been setting up the craft table again. As it was all packed away at Christmas when we had guests to stay. All the supplies packed  into bags and boxes just waiting to be let loose again.

I loved opening up the boxes and looking through all the supplies as I set up the table as it sparked so many ideas of thing to make. Just look how tidy it all is too,  well for now!!!

The summerhouse has many uses as you know it's where my crafting table is.  In the warmer months of the year it's a place to retreat and rest, we also use it as a guest room, in fact we have to regular guests to stay each Christmas. Sadly sometimes it's used for storage, although I do try to deter P from this. The pic is of  my cat Merli having a snooze on 'the shed's' futon, it's great having somewhere in the summerhouse to rest.

One of my favourite uses for the summerhouse is as a place for friends to gather to make music.  Then the summerhouse is filled with chatter, laughter, music and wine for thoses who are able to drink it.

Then the sounds of singing, mandolin, guitar and fiddle are heard drifting from 'the shed' as newly written songs are exchanged for review and old favourites played and sung along to (sometime even in three part harmony!) and one day soon perhaps the sound of  scruggs style banjo might be heard, if a certain member of the 'Summerhouse Jam Collective' can be persuaded to bring her's along.

This clip was recorded in the summerhouse a few years ago before my major relapse with Chloe Overton on mandolin and me on guitar, I'm not sure of the name of this tune, but think is called Liza Jane.  If that's not right and anyone knows it's name please leave a comment. I hope it plays ok, as I had a bit of a struggle to upload it.  It was recorded during one of the summerhouse get together.  If you would like to hear more of Chloe's wonderful music, she is in a great UK based Americana/Roots band called 'Hatful of Rain', you can check them out on you tube or on there facebook page or here

So since Christmas my crafting has been from the house either from the sofa or my comfy bed, knitting has been happening you already know about the leaf cushion and I've been doing some crochet too,  I'm in midst of a spring time project, it's going to be a spring time wreath of crocheted and knitted flowers with maybe some butterflies ribbons and felt too but more info on that another day. As you can see Merli likes to supervise the yarn, there are also some of the flowers I've been making for the Spring time project in this shot !

So over the weekend I started the knitting part of the project, as I realised that the spring Equinox is not far off now and I was hoping to have it completed by then or Easter at the latest, so I guess I better get a move on with both the knitting and crochet as it will take me a while pacing everything, crafting with a chronic illness can be a right pain.

Happy Crafting
Clare x

Friday, 15 February 2013

Indian glass bracelet

The other day a friend and I went on a bit of an adventure to a Jewellery making workshop. Neither of us had really made much jewellery before, but we thought we'd give it a try, as it was only for 2 hour in our local town, with a bit of planning and resting up in advance and afterwards it seemed like it would be quite manageable.

Before this class the above bracelet was the only piece of jewellery I'd ever made, which was beads simply threaded onto nylon with a clasp attached.  I made this for my sister for her birthday last year.

Before going to the workshop  I really didn't realise that we would be making anything as technical as the bracelets we made. To be honest with you I really didn't think that beading was going to be my thing as my manual dexterity is really not great. I thought I was going to be spending a morning dropping things and knocking over pots of beads.  So I was actually pleasantly surprised when I  managed to leave with a piece of completed jewellery.

First we had to make seventeen charms by putting sead beads and then the beautiful Indian glass beads onto head pins. I should point out at this stage I spent quite a lot of time chasing my seed beads around my piece of felt in fact you can see a few stray ones in the above shot. We then had to twist the tops of the pins with pillars to make a loop and then snip off the excess wire to form a tiny hook.  I choose these lovely emerald green beads and I have to confess my inner magpie found it all very pleasing, so many shiny, pretty things everywhere.

When I had my charms all lined up in a order that pleased me it was time to start attaching the hooks I'd made onto the chain.  This I discovered was not a easy task, especially with hands that are stiff and don't bend properly. To be honest I was struggling, really achy and exhausted.  I could really have done with stopping when the charms we complete and coming back on another day to attach them to the chain. But hay ho there's never a energy fairy around when you need one.

So after much huffing, puffing  a bit of swearing under my breath, lots of dropping of things and charms I thought we attached falling off again.  I ended up with something that almost resembled a bracelet.

By this point my hands and the rest of me was losing the will to live, so the lady running the class kindly took pity on me and helped me attach the jump rings to each end of the chain and put the clasp on so all I had to do was tighten up the link with the pillars ready for my bracelet's Ta-dah moment.

My friend took the photo below, of me wearing my bracelet when we all put them on at the end of the class, so please ignore my horrible hand in the shot, as by then the joints in my hands were rather swollen up, very sore and burning. 

All in all I think it was worth it though, even if I had to spend the next couple of days bed resting.  As I had a great morning chatting and making, I actually left the house and at the end of it all I had a lovely bracelet to take home.  So I've discover jewellery making is fun but does not come easily to me, with my lack of patient, poor co-ordination and dodgy hands. I salute all you jewellery makers out there. 

Maybe I'll have another try, one day at home when I can do a bit at a time and pace myself a bit better.

Happy beading 

Clare x

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

February's Pick and Mix

Today's post is going to be a bit different. It going to be about various bits and bobs of everyday life.  So why not join me for some Summerhouse pick and mix.

The view from the window

At the start of the year, I decided to take a photo each month of the view from the window. This is not the view from the Summerhouse, which looks onto the garden but my favourite view from the house.  I got the inspiration for this project from a facebook group I'm a member of.  The above shot was taken in January after the first snowfall of the year, it was also in January that I saw the windmill working for the first time, I glanced out the window and could not believe that the sails were going round. I've lived here many years and have never seen it working before.  What a cheery sight it was on a winters morning.

This is the view in February, which is still a snowy scene, this was taken a few weeks after the first shot after our second lot of the snow this year.  A couple of years ago I undertook a 365 day photo project, along with some fellow sufferers. I found that project very tricky at times, coming up with new things to photograph each day, as I am mostly housebound the garden was my saviour with it's ever changing colours and hues. So I figure just 12 photo's taken from the same window will be much more achievable.

 I couldn't resist sharing this picture as part of the pick and mix, aren't they stunning, I love the vibrant pink colour so much.  They were a cheer up treat after several trips to the dentist.  It makes me so happy just to look at them.

I love living by the sea so much. Although I rarely get down to the beach, I still find it reassuring knowing it's there.  One of the good things about medical appointments is that the surgery is next to the beach.  So the other day afterwards I sat on the seafront front for a bit.

With the way my health has been in relapse over the last couple of years,  of late I've mostly only left the house to go to medical appointments and a local support group.  So it was lovely just to sit in the winter sunshine for while as I waited for my lift home to arrive.  Simple pleasures, are appreciated much more after spending a lot of time stuck in bed.

In crafting news I've been making these little felt birdies, for yet another ongoing craft project, more on that another time.

Summerhouse songs

This weeks album of the week, is Kate Rusby 'Underneath the stars'. I hit shuffle on the ipod and it picked this wonderful album.  I know this album so well it's like a old friend.  Some say that Kate Rusby is the queen of British folk music and I wouldn't disagree, so it's kinda appropriate that it's the sheds first album pick, as it was the first Kate Rusby album I bought.

I was lucky enough to see Kate Rusby live a couple of years ago.  It was truly amazing, her voice is beautiful on the albums but live it was something else, completely spellbinding and her accompanying musician were awe inspiringly good.  During the show, there pickin on 'the muppets' theme tune was just great, but back to the album.  My favourite tracks are 'Falling', 'Polly', 'Cruel' and of course the title track 'Underneath the stars'.  I have to two of Kate's songbooks and enjoy playing her songs very much.

Well that's all for today, just before I go I forget to mention that the ipod sock is another one of my makes. It's knitted in Moss stitch with a flower stitched on. So for now I'll leave you with one of Kate Rusby's songs

 I hope you enjoy it.

Clare x

Saturday, 9 February 2013

On the needles : Purple leaf cushion.

This lovely purple leaf cushion is on my needles at the moment. The pattern is from the 26th December's issue of the 'Women's Weekly' UK.  Yes you heard me right, I'm in my 30's and I'm a closet Women's Weekly reader!!! Every Wednesday I sneak a peak at my Mum's copy, much the same as she used to sneak a peak at her mother copy and  I've discovered to my delight there are some great crafts and yarny makes lurking inside the pages.

So I saw the leafy cushion and loved it instantly, the colours and the leaves are just my cup of tea. Doesn't it look lovely nestled amongst the other cushions in the magazine. Just waiting to be knitted.  So I speedily sourced and ordered my yarn online and waited with anticipation for it's arrival. Parcels arriving by post are just the best!



So down to the knitty gritty 

I'm using Hayfield Bonus Aran -Purple Heather. The colour is divine it's a 400 gram ball and it's the biggest ball of yarn I've ever seen. It's so large, it didn't even fit it in my normal knitting bag, so as you can see I've had to put it in a very colourful beach bag, where it's looking very much at home.

For the leaves, I'm going to be using Sirdar Country Style DK in Feather Grey 400, Pansy 471 and Damson 604, I already adore the Damson colour and can't wait to get knitting with it.

I'm relatively new to knitting so I'm not sure how I'm going to get on when it comes to making the leaves.  I guess I'll worry about it when I get there, which will be a while as I not the fastest of knitters.  If it all goes horribly wrong and I can't figure it out, I can always just crochet some leaves.

That's all a way off yet though as first I have 114 rows of stocking stitch to complete, I'm currently on row 33, it's not the best shot of my owlie row counter, but if you look really closely ! the eyes do say 33, honest.

Sadly my crafting time is quite limited due to my ill health so I can only manage about 10 minutes of knitting a day, at my current pacing level.  I find it quite painful and tiring and after a bit I can really feel it in my neck, arms and shoulders, although I've found it helps with the pain and joint stiffness in my hands, so hay ho I guess it's swings and roundabouts.

So you'll have to bare with me for a bit, as I think it'll be a while before we get to the Ta-dah ! moment and my leaf cushion is complete.  I apologise for the above photo, it should be the other way round but for some reason blogger kept on putting it in portrait mode, who know why as it was shot in landscape, and nothing I do seems to want to change blogger's mind, but I guess that's life !

In other news just before I go I thought I'd show you that since my 'spring time' post of the other day, the first indoor mini iris has flowered.

Happy knitting

Clare x

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Signs of Spring in the garden.

Just a quick post today as I'm very tired and should be having a pacing rest, but I was so happy to see the first signs of  Spring in the garden, that I thought I would share them with you.

Everything in the garden seems a bit behind this year, which is probably due to the awful wet weather we've had over the last few months.

So when I spotted these mini Iris flowering on the way to the Summerhouse it cheered my heart and gave me hope that Spring time is just around the corner.  The Summerhouse however is not looking so heart cheering at the moment,  in fact it's looking a bit sorry for itself and is in need of a good sort out.   All the crafting supplies and other breakables are still packed away from when we had guests to stay over Christmas, more on that another time, just don't think about the mess Clare. Back to the lovely purple mini Iris. Now that's much better, well they are one of my favourites.

They are doing so well flowering in the garden, as even the bulbs I planted in the warmth of  house after Christmas are no where near flowering yet.

That's all for today folks, hopefully next time I'll being posting about my latest knitting project, I just need to take some photo's when I'm feeling well enough.

Clare x