Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Best Christmas Ever!

I love Christmas, but this year it really is turning out to be the best Christmas ever.  My little brother and his partner are expecting their first baby in January.  But this morning, this little baby decided that he or she isn't waiting and it's looking like we will have a Christmas Day baby!  I am beside myself with excitement and the thought of a new niece or nephew in the family is just amazing.  My children can't wait to meet their new little cousin.  Now isn't that just the best Christmas present ever?

I have just finished this baby blanket but am only half way through the second one.  I had just said to my husband last night that I'd better get a wriggle on and get it finished.  Little did I know that it would need to be ready even sooner. 

Sarah and Scotty - all the very best to you both.  You will be the most wonderful parents and I can't wait to meet your new little bub.  Love you loads.  xx
Well if legend is correct, a Pohutukawa tree that flowers before Christmas means we are going to have a fabulous Summer.  Well this amazing specimen just down the road from my house is in full bloom but sadly the weather outside my window is not playing along.  It is pouring and it's forecast to rain for the rest of the year.  Boohoo.

Thankfully we got a wee bit of sunshine over the weekend.  A quick weekend escape to Castlepoint was a nice start to the holiday season.  It was really windy but nice and warm if you found a sheltered spot.  Perfect weather to curl up with a good book.

The bach we rented had a fabulous flax plant outside and it was frequented by loads of birds.  My favourite of all being the Tui.  What a stunning bird - with the most beautiful call.   This one was quite the poser!
Well, the pavlova is in the oven cooling, the chocolate mousse is in the fridge (and smeared over the faces of my small folk from licking the spoon) and the presents are all wrapped.   I'm feeling calm but I'm sure there will be something I've forgotten!!  I've got one more chocolate mousse to make for our annual tradition of "Christmas Pudding Dinner" in the evening.  No veges, no ham, no turkey - just desserts!!  This year it's at my dear friend Ange's house.  I will have to remember to get a photo of the dessert table - it's the naughtiest meal I'll eat all year and I can't wait.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.  Take care and I'll see you again next year.

Leah
xx

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's so nice to be back!


I have missed my blog.  I have piles and piles of photos that I have been bursting to post but time has escaped me.  Well that is going to change.  I am going to make more of an effort - I promise.  In fact just sitting here now looking at these few photos I am using, has put a smile on my face.  They are colourful and most of all they have a memory attached to them.  So, for the time being, I am back and I'm happy!! 

And what a lovely surprise it was to log on today and see that there are so many new followers! That has made my day.  I feel very privileged that people are taking the time to stop by and read my posts.  Thank you so much.

So the last time I did a post was back in July and we'd just had a fairly big earthquake.  I had initially thought we'd escaped any damage but it turned out we did get a big of cosmetic stuff.  Nothing compare to what folk in Christchurch went through so I feel almost fraudulent mentioning it.  Then in August we had another big earthquake.  That was a scary one - it felt as if the house was picked up, twisted and plonked back down again.  A bizarre sensation.  My children were at school but they had been having so many practice drills, that they took it completely in their stride.  And even after we got home with two friends in tow, the children would calmly call out 'earthquake' with each aftershock and we'd pile under the doorways again.  Little troopers!  It was me who was the anxious one.  Earthquakes freak me out completely.  We have a bus stop near my house and I find myself freezing to the spot when I hear a rumble, only for it to be a bus's engine outside on the street.  It's the same darn noise as an earthquake about to hit.

Enough of that, onto some more cheerful things.  

A few months back I bought a gorgeous little wooden 'treasure holder' from the op shop.  It was in pretty bad condition but for $4 I promised Miss 6 that we could bring it back to life and she could have it in her bedroom with all her wee treasures on it.  A few coats of paint, some pretty scrapbooking papers and a new felt back to stop it scratching the wall and voila!  It's adorable and soon to be filled with all sorts of girly bits and bobs.
 

It's certainly an improvement from what it was anyway.
There has been a bit of crafting with the kids too.  I was trying out a new circle hole punch and decided it might be fun to try and make some papier mache bowls with them.  So out came the glue and and some gladwrap on top of bowls and away we went. The kids loved it.  They were very specific about what patterns they wanted.  We did two layers so that one would show on the inside and one on the outside.
  
We left them to dry for a few days then gently peeled them away from the bowls we used to shape them.  They turned out brilliantly.  The kids were thrilled to bits with their creations.  We have made more of them since, they are addictive little things.
 My bowl made a colourful addition to one of my craft storage units.  Love it!
  
This is the cowl I was trying to post about last time but I couldn't get the photo added.  I love this mustard colour.  It's such a great, speedy pattern and a pleasure to make. I have sold a few of them now - yippee!
  
More colourful treats.... My wonderful friend Ange had a trip to the UK in August to visit another wonderful friend Tans (hi darling girl!).  I missed Ange like crazy and couldn't wait for her to get back and fill me in on all the details of her adventure.  I was sooooo jealous when she said she'd been to a Cath Kidston shop.  And then the gave me these!  Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!  How anyone could possibly want to actually use them as tea towels I don't know.  They are far too pretty.  I think I want to make something out of them instead.  I couldn't stand the thought of them getting damaged in the kitchen even if it is their prime function.  How spoilt am I?  Thank you Ange - I love them.
I seem to be on a roll with friends spoiling me (no complaints here that's for sure!).  Sue from Five Course Garden is a friend of mine who has recently become a crochet convert.  She is a very talented lady and not only is she super speedy with her crochet creations, she is a whizz on the sewing machine too.  She made me this amazing crochet hook holder out of vintage fabric and a fab woollen blanket.  I love it.  It's the perfect size to pop in my bag with a ball of wool when I fancy a spot of outdoor crochet!  I think Sue was planning on selling these on Felt sometime soon so keep an eye out for them.
The garden had been looking atrocious after the storms a few months ago.  We didn't manage to save this lovely hedge that had covered our side of the neighbours garage.  So instead, we coloured it with chalk and made our own floral wall.  Miss 6 did the low ones and I stretched as high as I could on a chair.  Next time I will get a ladder to do the rest!  I'm really tempted to do it in paint.  It would be far more cheerful than looking at a grey concrete wall wouldn't it?
I have planted these beauties in our front garden.  I adore dahlias - I love their symmetry.  These have made such a difference to the look of our home.  We've got a few little ceramic toadstools dotted about for the fairies in the garden now too.   It's gone from being a fairly contemporary garden to a very sweet, cottagey garden full of colour and I love it.
Such a simple pleasure, but one I'm really proud of because I have never ever planted a flower before and successfully grown it to a stage that it could be picked.  Woohoo!
Bella has loved the winter season and has spent most of her days parked in front of the fire.  In a dolls bed with a pillow for a mattress and a fluffy blanket no less.  I guess when you get to her age, you can do whatever you like.  Now that the weather is warming up she is having to find other places to sleep and cool off.  But no matter where she is, she always seems to know when I sit down with my crochet and she will be on my knee in a flash.  Beautiful girl.

Well I think that will do for now.  I've got lots of other photos I want to post but that will have to wait for another day.

It has been really lovely to sit down and write this.  I'm feeling motivated again!!

See you again soon.  Have a fabulous week.
Leah
xxxx


Monday, July 22, 2013

Holding on tight!!

Wow - I have really left it a long time between posts this time!  I have had the best of intentions but no time and in some instances, not a lot of motivation.  But today as we hunker down at home, I thought it would be a good time to do a very quick post.  This is more of a diary entry for me to look back on in the future from a time that I would rather forget!

My lovely city of Wellington has been hit with several large earthquakes since Friday with the biggest being yesterday early evening which was a 6.5 magnitude.  I had both children in the doorway with me leaning over them holding them tight.  They were absolutely beside themselves with fright. We are now all on edge and to be honest, quite terrified.  There is no predicting whether that was the worst of it or whether there will be more of that size. According to the newspaper this morning there have been more than 230 earthquakes in the Wellington region since Friday - with even more now as aftershocks keep happening.  Thankfully our home hasn't suffered any damage other than a few more cracks in the corners to add to previous earthquake movement!!  Friends in Christchurch have passed on wise information - stock up on toilet paper, make sure the car is full of petrol and keep cash at hand in case EFTPOS facilities shutdown! 

I have grown up here so seismic activity is part of life - but not like this.  And since the dreadful destruction in Christchurch - earthquakes are just that much more frightening.  I guess I was in denial that real damage would ever happen here in my lifetime.  But now it is a reality having seen Christchurch CBD pretty much wiped out in their earthquakes.

Thank you for your lovely messages of concern.  We are safe and well.  I will be happier once my husband gets home from work though!  Thankfully his company made the decision to move out of Wellington CBD because of earthquake safety and are now in a smaller dwelling just outside the city centre.  Phew.

  
Here's a quick pic I just copied off the news website.  This is a portion of Wellington Wharf that has just fallen into the sea!

All this shaking follows a month of rotten storms.  A few weeks back we had the most horrendous storm and we had quite a bit of damage to our garden with that one.  So pleased the roof stayed on!!!!  Husband had to saw himself out in the morning as a huge hedge covering our neighbours garage had collapsed over our footpath.  It was a shame to lose such a beautiful plant but there was just no saving it.  It was too heavy to get back up on the wall.  Our trellis collapsed onto our vege plot so all the winter vege got squashed.  We went for a drive around the south coast on the Sunday following the Thursday night storm and here are some of the pics from that day.  The top left and centre are off our hedge - the rest is off coastal damage.


There has been a lot of crochet going on too.  Lots and lots of hat orders with all this chilly weather!!  Here are a few of the ones I've made just recently.
I also made a beautiful mustard coloured cowl (which my camera just won't let me download!).  I adore it and because I enjoyed making it so much, I had to make a few more which I have popped into my shop.   I used this pattern and then left the ends rather than joining them up.  That way you can wear it in any way you like.  I have used some pretty vintage buttons attached to a brooch pin/clip to fasten them.  They are so lovely and snuggly to wear.  It works up really quickly and is a nice repetitive pattern.  I will definitely be making more of these.



Right - that's enough from me.  I need a calming cup of tea and a lie down after a sleepless night.  Think we might curl up on the couch for a DVD after lunch.

I hope it won't be so long between posts next time.  I have really missed visiting all my favourite blogs and am now ridiculously far behind in all your posts! 

Take care,
Leah
xxxx

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Yikes - how can it be March already?

  
I cannot believe it's March already!  Summer has officially ended although you'd never believe that judging by the beautiful days we are still having.  Long may it continue!!  So my unplanned blog break was due to being outdoors and making the most of a stunning summer.  On one hand I've missed blogging but on the other hand it's been really lovely to leave the computer tucked away out of sight.  I have however been having lots of sneaky peeks at Pinterest on my phone as I am finding it so very inspirational.  Now I just need a bit more time to actually sit down and make some of the things I've pinned!!

A word of warning - this blog post will be all over the place because my mind is so full, I am going to just go ahead and blurt it all out!  I will start with Christmas ...

Christmas Day was utterly amazing - in fact it was the hottest Christmas since 1934 - how fantastic is that.  We hosted Christmas at our house this year and if it wasn't for an oscillating fan strategically placed near my kitchen door - I think I would have passed out over the turkey.  It did make for a very long night with overly tired small folk not being able to sleep in the humidity (something we in windy Wellington are not very used to!!).  So the whole holiday break was just perfect.  Lots of beach visits, lots of playing in the paddling pool on the deck and lots of scooter and bike rides.  
There have been a few chances for crafting amongst all the hot weather.  First of all I had to have a jolly good tidy up in my crafty space as it was looking like an absolutely shambles.  I couldn't get motivated as a cluttered desk means my head feels cluttered too.   Look at the state of it in the picture below!  Yikes.  One good thing about having a tidy up is the fact that you find things you'd forgotten about.  These lovely wee pink and orangey/red squares were made so long ago and had been packed away.  It was brilliant to find them as now they are going to be stitched together and made into a little blanket.  Miss 5 has suggested it will be just the right size for her doll's bed.
There were piles of half made projects all over the place.  Not only was I making my bits and pieces - but there were a whole other lot of pieces being whipped up for our school fair, so double the mess really.  Our school fair is on this coming Sunday so it will be amazing to see all of the gorgeous craft projects us mums have made, all together in one place.  I must remember to take some piccies of it all once we set up the stall.  We have been getting together every Wednesday for months and making all sorts of goodies - cushions, gift tags, hair clips, bags, covered pegs, bunting, garlands - and so much more.  I'm really looking forward to it.
This week saw us having fun at home with fluffy pom poms.  I had made a garland with big pom poms to drape over a boring blackboard in our kitchen.  Miss 5 spotted it immediately after school and wanted to make one for her bedroom too.  I love that she is crafty - it's nice to sit and chat while we make stuff.  Here she is with her mini pom pom garland in progress. 
The mini pom poms were so darn cute I had to make one too.  It looked sweet draped around some of the kids' art from when they were smaller.
Loads and loads of tea cosies have been made in the last few months too.  Some of them have ended up at a shop in Petone!  How exciting.  The lovely owner has also taken a few of my other makes - baby hats, mini paper bunting and hair clips.  I was so proud to see the cosies in the shop window!!   I had the overwhelming urge to yell "I made these" to anyone in the near vicinity!!
There have also been quite a few fabulous op shop bargains found recently.  This stunning tablecloth was only $6 at a market in Paekakariki last weekend.  We escaped the city for a night at the beach and we timed our arrival by fluke to sneak into the local market just before it finished for the day.  I couldn't believe my luck to find this beauty.  
 
I also bought this gorgeous old chair on Trade Me for $10.  It was in a dire state and needed missing chunks to be filled, rough bits sanded and knocks and dings dealt to.  I then mixed up a few different test pots and happily sat outside in the sun painting it.  What I should have done was take my sunglasses off to check the colour - it turned out a lot more pink than initially planned but I love it now.  I really love the shape of these chairs and will keep my eye out to try and find a few more to pop around the dining table when we have extras for dinner.
I should have popped this picture up a bit higher in the post when I was talking about Christmas.  Not only did we have stunning weather on the actual day but the first of my Christmas lilies actually chose Christmas Day to flower!  How utterly perfect.
It has been a busy season in the garden - and it's not a past time I love but I really enjoy the results.  My husband fought a very hard battle to remove a huge hedge of agapanthus - a nightmare of a job.  But it was well worth it as we now have a brand new vege plot which is currently full of lettuce, spinach, rocket and sweetcorn.  These wee beauties above are feijoas and they should be ready in April/May.  We have only ever had one single fruit in three years but this year we have quite a few of these little stunners growing happily on the tree.  Fingers crossed they don't get blown off in a howling southerly!!
I have turned into a crazy woman and am on a murderous rampage.  Our poor broccoli and cabbage plants have been all but destroyed by horrid caterpillars.  I now spend each day searching every leaf for the little rotters then squashing them while swearing under my breath.  I have got the children involved now and they always have a quick look for any critters while they are outside playing.  I'm not usually a violent person but these caterpillars have made me furious.  I have no hesitation in squishing them and I have also been seen to be chasing the white butterflies around the garden with my jandal in hand ready to swat them!

Our strawberry patch has been taken over by giant stick creatures which freak me out completely so I've been too scared to stick my hand in and pick any fruit.  My neighbour has had to come and remove the creatures for me.  And I have to get the children to pick the strawberries.  What a big chicken I am.
Another project I am bursting to try sometime soon is this.  While I was shopping for other people for Christmas I spotted this pretty button covering set and had to get one for myself too.  The fabric is so pretty!  I have a cardi in mind that is going to get a button makeover soon.
 There has been lots of baking ...
 I tried out my homemade cookie stamp and a lovely heart stamp - the kids loved it!
And Miss 5 was given this cake pop set for Christmas and once I had made the cake bits for her - she made these herself.  Delicious!
But by far this has been the most successful baking experience recently.  I spotted this no-knead bread recipe on good old Pinterest.  It is the most simple bread recipe I have ever made and the result is amazing.  A gorgeous chewy crusty - hot from the oven with a naughty amount of butter - yum.  My tummy is rumbling just at the thought of it.  Here is the link if you want to try it - all you need is time not effort!  You won't regret it, I promise.
Crikey I really am jumping all over the place as I remember things we have been up to.  I promised Miss 5 that I would show some pics of her making a very special cushion.  We bought some cheap remnant fabrics and she chose the stripe for a cushion.  She wanted to sew a bird on to it so that is just what she did, very patiently.
I love it!  She is so proud of herself and her beautiful cushion now lives on her bed.  
We took the kids to an open day at our local port as Mr 8 is absolutely obsessed with ships of all kinds.  He was blown away to get a chance to sit in the police boat.  I was so proud to hear him asking the policemen such sensible questions and I was also chuffed that he totally understood the map on the screen in front of him.   He is still in love with all things Titanic related and finished building a model with his dad over the last few weeks.  We now have to buy a shelf to put up in his room so this precious model can stay safely above the carnage of a boys bedroom!!
It's that time of year again for the most stunning dahlias to bloom in my in-laws' garden.  I take photos of this particular one every year - it is just perfect in every way. 

Phew - well that's all from me.  I won't be leaving it so long again as it is really hard to remember what I've been up to.  Clearly my memory is suffering now that I've turned a year older!!

Have a fabulous week - see you again soon.

Leah
xxxx



Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Everyone!

 
Where the heck did November go?  I can't believe how fast the weeks have been passing.  I never intended almost two months to go by without doing a post.  That also means nearly two months of not popping in to visit other blogs so I have a lot of catching up to do!!  And a big hello to lots of new followers - it has surprised me to see how many new folk have discovered my little blog. 

It has been an utterly crazy few weeks in the lead up to Christmas.  There have been ballet recitals, end of year school celebrations, summer sports, a few health issues and some very weird weather to keep me on my toes.  It's meant to be summer but I am currently sitting here, very early in the morning, and all I can see out of my window is fog.  The airport is closed making Christmas travel plans a nightmare for many.  Thankfully we are staying home this year and I'm really looking forward to some time to slow down and just potter about for a while.  Not to mention the chance to eat far too many festive treats and start the diet in the new year!!  My small folk love these chocolate biscuit Christmas puds so they requested we make them again this year.  Not to mention the piles of white chocolate rocky road and bottles of caramel sauce I made for gifts this year.  Delicious!
There has been a wee bit of time for some crochet.  I'm still trying to use up my Stylecraft yarn but it just keeps on going!  I started this blanket ages ago and wasn't sure that I loved it enough to carry on.  But my gorgeous sis-in-law Sarah visited yesterday and she spotted it in my basket.  So I'm going to get it finished and give it to her.
There is something nice about a simple granny square isn't there?  I think I was worried it was a bit too simple though - that's why I hadn't fallen in love with it.
 But the more I look at it now, the more it is growing on me.  Maybe I'll make another one for me later.


And there have been many, many more tea cosies made.  Quite a few sales and commissions in the lead up to Christmas which is fantastic!
I was a bit naughty this year and went a little but nutso with online shopping.  I had wanted this book for a while and it didn't seem to make it to the bookshops here so I ordered it from good old Book Depository along with a few other treats for gifts.  I love, love, love that website!!!  And I really love seeing a little (or large) brown parcel in my letterbox!!!
The very first pages the book opened to was this - I thought it was just gorgeous.  I have only managed a quick flick through the book - so can't wait for a sunny day so I can sit outside and read it properly.
Miss 5 has become a real little crafter.  She got this sweet little sewing kit for her birthday and it goes everywhere with her just now.  She was unwell recently so I cut out some shapes for her to sew.  She made this sweet little bear and today she is sewing more stockings to hang on the tree.  I am so proud of Mr 8 too, for a boy whose favourite part of school has always been lunchtime(!) - he came second in a poetry competition this week.  I didn't even know he had entered - so it was a huge surprise.  My little boy is really growing up to be a gorgeous fella.  
Even though the weather has been completely screwy, boiling hot one day and pouring with rain the next, we have managed to grow some yummy veges.  Broad beans are one of my faves and thankfully Miss 5 is keen to pod them with me and then peel them once boiled.  It certainly speeds up the process! 
And for the very first time, after trying for 4 seasons, we managed to grow a broccoli!!!  I actually squealed out loud when I spotted it!!  It wasn't huge but was enough to feed us for one meal.  It tasted beautiful as it was only a few minutes from garden to plate.
And another gardening success - well kind of - was this cabbage.  Again, we've been trying for years with no success and then one day it was just there, like magic.  It was tiny - but perfectly formed under those outside leaves!  My theory is that neglect was the perfect answer.  We'd had such terrible weather that the vege patch had been left unweeded for several weeks.  A theory I will try again because I hate weeding!!!
Our cabbage was tiny but check out this freakishly large strawberry.  I had to put my crochet hook in front of it show the scale of this monster.  So if you're going to be good and limit yourself to only one choc dipped strawberry then this is most definitely the one you'd want to choose!
And speaking of large - look at this gingerbread house.  Apparently it has set the record for being the largest ever made.  It is at Te Papa museum and the kids loved it.  The smell was just beautiful.
 Phew - that's a lot of butter!!
Another wee treat I bought for the family this week was these bright and gorgeous pudding bowls.  I had to go back and get another set so we have enough when friends visit.  A bargain at $5 and oh so bright and lovely.  I might just have to fill them with sweets and treats tomorrow and dot them about the house.



Before the fog set in, we went on a family walk around our suburb.  I wish I had taken more pics now as these Pohutukawa trees are blooming everywhere just now.  They are called a New Zealand Christmas Tree and the story goes that if they flower before Christmas then we are going to have a long hot summer.  Well where I live, there are beautiful red flowers on all the trees so bring on the good weather.
Miss 5 collected flowers on the way.

Telecom sets up this amazingly huge tree each year.  The children go into the old red phone boxes and call Santa.  Then their wish travels up the tree and lights up as it goes.  We took the children yesterday and it was just gorgeous listening to them leaving their little message for Santa. 
I love this pic - it is taken standing inside the tree looking up.  Just a shame it isn't dark until quite late here, so my small folk haven't had a chance to see it completely lit up in all its glory.  We might have to let them stay up late and go for a drive tonight for a Christmas Eve treat.

Well that's all from me!  Have a truly wonderful Christmas wherever you may be.  Thank you so much for popping by and I hope to see you again in the New Year.  I hope you all get thoroughly spoilt this festive season.  Merry Christmas!!!

Take care,
Leah
xxxx