Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Making me happy this week is ...

It's been a very busy week, but lots of things have put a huge smile on my face amongst all the boring chores.  The first thing that has really made me happy is that after only one week of having my online store up and running, I've sold three items!!  I am beyond excited and can't wait to add a few more things over the next week or so to see how they go.  So far I have sold one tea cosy and two pairs of earrings.  One of which is winging its way to Edinburgh which is fabulous.  The thought of my earrings being worn on the other side of the world is really fantastic!  As my tea cosy addiction grows, I had to make another one to add to the store.  
Bright, cheerful and deliciously stripy.  I love making these, probably because they are quick and you get instant gratification.  I do still have that feeling of 'is it perfect enough to sell' with anything I make.  But I figure if I've done the best that I can do and someone still likes it then that's good enough isn't it?  I'm sure I'm not alone in having these feelings.  Do you feel the same?  
Over the last week these two lovely books arrived in my letterbox.  They were birthday gifts that had come from overseas so took a bit longer to arrive.  I keep flicking through them both and thinking of all the things I want to make.  I'm seeing a few uninterrupted late nights ahead of me so I can get my hook out and have a go at a few patterns.
Miss 4 was invited to a birthday party at the weekend and I had to share some of the pictures with you.  It was amazing - I can't think of any other way to describe it!  This was the craft table all set up beautifully, ready for the children to get creative.  The most fantastically clever Diane was the craft tutor at the party, she had presented everything in the most stunning way, right down to the glue being in a pretty floral cupcake papers!!  I mean, just look at the beautiful bags that contained bits and pieces for the children to take home to make another project - just gorgeous.
Beautiful fabric hearts were folded and hand stitched by all the little ones, then decorated with buttons, sparkly beads and pearls.  When the children went and ate all their pink party food, Diane attached their creations to a headband ready for them to collect at the end of the party.
Here is what my wee girl made!  I think it's absolutely beautiful and she has worn it every day since, getting compliments from everyone she meets.  What a fantastic idea for a party.  It seriously took all my self control to not dive in and join them!!
It's monarch butterfly season and we came home from kindy last week with a small swan plant complete with caterpillars.  They promptly stripped the plant of all its leaves within 24 hours.  We had an emergency dash to the garden centre to ensure they didn't starve and now we have 8 caterpillars of varying sizes happily munching away in the garden.  I'm not too sure how long it will be before they go into a cocoon but we keep checking on them every morning and again in the afternoon.
A bit of caterpillar acrobatics going on!  Boy, they can eat.
My small folk love the bunting I made recently and while we were outside doing a spot of pavement art, we decided the garage could do with a bit of bunting!  I think tonight we'll have to add a chalk welcome mat to the path outside our gate - it looks so sweet.
I just had to add this before I go.  My local village chocolate shop has one a national competition for these chocolates, so it was the perfect excuse to pop in and try them.  Sea Salt Caramels - oh wow.  They are quite possibly the most delicious chocolate I've ever tried.  There were ten of these but somehow three of them disappeared on the short drive home.  Weird how that happens!  I think I may need to pop in again today.  The diet will have to start tomorrow!

Have a fabulous week!  See you again soon.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Bit of History

My mum was visiting recently and asked if I'd be interested in her bringing me this lovely wee outfit to photograph and pop on my blog.  The answer of course was yes please!  You see, my mum made this for me - and all this time I had never known.  Or more than likely I was told when I was younger but it never really sank in.  Sorry Mum!  But now that I'm totally addicted to crochet, I have realised that it was all around me as I grew up and I was pretty much destined to love it.  So yes, that's me in all my chubby cheeked cuteness wearing this beautifully made dress.  
We were hoping that Miss 4 could have worn this when she was tiny, but unfortunately she was such a reflux-y baby and constantly vomitting, I didn't want to risk it getting damaged.  I wish now that I'd at least tried it on her quickly and got a picture to compare to mine as a baby.  Darn it.  It's the sweetest pattern and considering it's 40 years old, it's aged so well.  Clever Mum!
Of course no photo session would be complete without my resident gatecrasher!  Seriously, how can Bella go from sound asleep on the bed to plonked on top of my photo subject in 5 seconds?  Funny.

So thinking about crochet and general craftiness, I thought it would be nice to have some crochet appreciation from across the decades.
My mum's mum, Nana S, made loads of giant granny square blankets which I am lucky to have three of.  Miss 4 likes this one to stay on the end of her bed.  She never got to meet either of her grandmothers so it's lovely when she calls this her Nana S's blanket, and talks about her as if they were best of friends.  Nana S also made lovely mini versions for my dolls bed which I still have too.  She also made the most gorgeous knitted teddy bears which I saved until I had children.  She also made me the most amazing reversible doll when I was younger but I don't have her anymore.  With a full circle skirt you couldn't see that there was another doll on the other side.  I can remember that one of the dolls had fabulous look earrings made of curtain hooks.  Boy my Nana was a clever lady.  I wish desperately that I could sit with both my Nanas now and have a craft session.  
Then there was my dad's mum, Nana M.  She taught me to crochet when I was about 7.  She made all her grand-daughters the most fantastic ponchos.  Mine was red with a white stripe and I absolutely adored it.  She also made a mini version for my teddy bear Marie.  Marie has worn that poncho as a skirt for the last 30 odd years.  You can see she has been very well loved and is looking more than a little worse for wear.  I can't part with her though.  My other nana, Nana S, actually sewed a red bodysuit onto Marie as I'd loved the stuffing right out of her!!

Soon after learning to crochet, I won a peggy square competition at the local wool shop, with my winning granny square!  I was beyond excited and took home a big bag of blue wool that I got to choose all by myself, and a latch hook set with a huge frog picture.  I can still remember how proud I was.

But somewhere around 10 years old I'm guessing, I didn't want to do any of that crafty stuff anymore and promptly forgot all about it until a few years ago when suddenly I had the urge to re-learn.  So off I trotted to the shops and bought a 'how-to' book and a crochet hook.  It took a few days to get back into it and the stitch names confused me terribly (I still have them all written in a notebook in step-by-step directions!).  It's all history now though - I can't imagine ever wanting to stop.
So while I was thinking about all of this childhood stuff, it reminded me of my Nana S's pikelets.  Hers were just the best.  My mum makes them now and has given me the recipe.  They are amazing and really easy to whip up.  Perfect with jam and cream.  Mmmmmm.  My memories of pikelets being made when I was small are still fresh in my mind - the smell filled the house.  I was always allowed to help with the sifting, but my main job was to be in charge of the tea towel.  That meant lying it across the cake rake, then lifting it up to receive the cooked pikelets, gently placing the tea towel back down to cover them, and waiting patiently for the next lot.  The last of the mixture was always used to make an L and an S shaped pikelet for my brother and I.
Mmmm bubbly goodness.  Lots of bubbles means they're ready to flip.  I even cooked them in Nana S's old skillet pan. 
 Here they are all tucked up under their tea towel cover.  I'm getting hungry just looking at this picture!
Blanket progress is coming along beautifully.  It's getting to the point that a photo each week is looking not a lot different from the week before so I won't bore you.  I have been making more earrings and the best news of all - I've sold my first pendant!  That totally motivated me to set up a wee online shop at Felt which is a gorgeous website for handmade products.  I've popped a button on my sidebar but you can find me here.  I will list some more crochet items soon and keep my fingers crossed that someone actually wants to buy something!! It's all good fun in the meantime.
I'm off now to finish this little project.  I bought this yesterday at Spotlight.  Then I spent about half an hour working out how to put it together as there were no instructions.
With the help of a lot of glue, it's complete and just needs to be prettied up.  Scrapbook paper here I come! It will be perfect to house all my little jewellery making bits and pieces.  I'll show you the finished look next week.

Have a fabulous week!  See you soon.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

What a fabulous weekend!

Before I start rambling on about my weekend and boring you with a million pictures, I just wanted to pop a pic on with my blanket progress.  I am really, really loving working on this and it is steadily growing.  All the required colour variations have been made so it's just a case of repeating them now which is great as it means the only decision I have to make is where to put each square.  No more having to think about what colour should go next in the rounds!!
I can't wait to have this on my bed for winter - it is going to make the room look so cosy and inviting - well that's the plan anyway!  I am looking forward to this evening when I can plonk myself down for the entire night with my hook in hand.  Project Runway is on tonight and I am a complete addict, as are most of my girlfriends, so it's a good excuse to sit and crochet at the same time.  Fantastic! Then tomorrow morning we all chat and compare notes about the show, convincing ourselves we could do a better job than some of the contestants! So now I'll tell you about my weekend ...
My husband was lucky enough to receive a fabulous invitation to an event at Government House on Saturday.  As he was invited by the event sponsor, it also included a tour of this stunning venue and VIP treatment for the rest of the day (woohoo!).  I live less than 5 minutes from Government House and I have never been there so I was beyond excited.  I managed to keep my cool for all of about 20 minutes then the camera came out and I took more photos that your average tourist!  I wasn't alone though - there were lots of cameras doing exactly the same.  The event was an outdoor concert performed by the Wellington Orchestra and it was held on the front lawn.  I will warn you now - there are quite a few photos!!
Government House is the official residence of the Governor-General, the representative of the Queen of New Zealand.  It was built between 1908 and 1910 but has recently been hugely refurbished and only re-opened in March 2011.
The grounds are stunning - I still can't believe how substantial this property is when all I've ever seen from the road is the gates!  Just beautiful.  Our current Governor-General His Excellency Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae was seated only a few metres from me so I was on my best behaviour.  I thought it was lovely that he told us that Boots the vice regal cat, had been tucked away safely indoors so he wouldn't get such a fright when the 16 cannons went off during the 1812 Overture.  Boots might have been less frightened, but personally I just about fell off my chair!!  Even though I knew to expect the cannons, I didn't realise that they were on the slope just up behind our seats!!!  Blimey it was loud.  I was filming it in anticipation, and looking at it now all you can see or hear is my camera shaking violently every time there was a boom and the occasional swear word - oops!
Inside it was just beautiful.  I'm so chuffed that somehow I managed to get most of these pics with no other people in them even though our group was fairly large.  This pic was in the main entry/hallway.
The very grand, long dining room.  Each chair back was hand embroidered with a different crest for different regions of New Zealand.
 I loved this red fireplace!
 Lots of historical paintings.
 Beautiful Maori carvings.
 I think this room was one of my favourites - it had a lovely feeling of calm about it.

 I can only begin to imagine the famous folk who have been in these rooms!

 The view out onto the back garden - looking out onto Wellington city.

 Now this chair would look good at the end of my dining table!
This room really made me oooh and aaah.  This is where all the action happens with big events including our honours lists, when folk are given titles etc.  Mmmm Dame Leah - for her services to crochet .... I don't think that's likely!

Imagine attending a party in this room - just gorgeous!
 Not such a great pic, but the view to the gardens were just lovely.

And this is the back lawn!  We were greeted on this balcony and thankfully we were given beautiful sunhats which came in very handy later in the day.  When we arrived it was freezing so we had dressed for the cold.  By the time the concert started 3 hours later it was absolutely roasting and even the posh fellas around me had kicked off their shoes and socks.  All I was worried about was fainting in the heat and everyone thinking that I'd had too much to drink when I hadn't had anything!!  Thankfully I kept my cool with the help of my programme being used as a fan.  Boy it was hot.

I love this shot.  I don't think we were necessarily meant to see it but I couldn't help but get a pic.  One of the panels was being worked on and underneath were lots of signatures and scribbles collected over the years.  I wonder what else is hiding behind these walls?

This is the back of the house where we had our drinks.  I told you there'd be lots of pics didn't I!  It was such an amazing day - I want to have them here as a memory.
Then on Sunday it was my lovely mother and father-in-law's 50th wedding anniversary!  What a truly fantastic milestone.  My husband is one of five children and they all arranged the most lovely party.  I made the cake and was thrilled with how it turned out.  The only blip was that I'd ordered a tiny floral arrangement to go on the top corner of the cake but when it turned up it was huge.  It doesn't look that big in the background here but it was!  Luckily we had bought some little artificial ones as back up.  I have a serious dislike (to put it politely) of fake flowers but these ended up looking quite sweet.  And as the rest of the family pointed out, they can be kept as a memory forever.  My mum-in-law even had her wedding dress, shoes, headgear and wedding telegrams on display.  Miss 4 got to try on the wedding dress while standing on a chair.  She thought she was the bees knees.  Happy Anniversary Jo & Ian!
Right - I'm off now to do some quick baking as I have a few girlfriends popping in for morning tea.  I just love this new cookbook I got earlier in the week at a crazy bargain price - the photography is so pretty and the pages are matt so they feel quite old fashioned.  Love it!

Before I go I just want to say a huge thank you to Kristen from Cozy Things for passing on a lovely award to me!  I'm sure you've already seen her stunning blog but if you haven't you must whizz over there immediately!  Especially to see these - I have revisited this post many times and can't wait to make some too.  Talk about gorgeous.

And also a huge thank you to TwoLuLa  for passing on an award too!  It made my day ladies - thank you so very much.  

Thank you for making it to the end of this rather long post!  Have a fabulous week everyone - see you next week.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The house is quiet ....

School went back yesterday after the summer holidays.  So after 8 weeks or so of kids running around and lots of noise, the house seems very quiet today!  Amongst all the chaos of getting ready for school, I've managed a few makes this week.  I made this wee tea cosy on Sunday night and stayed up too late finishing in - but thankfully Monday was a public holiday so being a bit tired was ok!
It was inspired by a visit to my in-laws on Sunday as their garden is amazing just now and full of colour.  So a flowery tea cosy it had to be!
It's a cutie from all angles.  I even found the perfect coloured flower button to use too. 
Darling Bella decided that while it was being blocked on a folded up towel, that it would make a perfect place to snooze.  It looked so funny - as if she was minding the cosy!!  My very own crochet bodyguard.
I came across the most amazing recipe during the week that intrigued me so I had to give it a go.  It was on a very random blog hop that I stumbled across it but I can't remember where the initial link came from!  This recipe is fairly easy to make - it just required time really, not a lot of effort.  But boy oh boy it was worth it.  I couldn't wait to have a good old taste test.
So scones were made, dear friends were invited and pear butter was sampled.  The smell was amazing even before it was tasted.  I love this scone picture - it looks as if it has a wee face and is smiling!!!  Or is it just me going mad?
I also had a go at making some earrings with some new jewellery bits and pieces I bought here.  I am absolutely thrilled with these and talk about easy to make.  The hardest bit it deciding on what image you want to pop in the middle.  I have a pile of little snips from magazines that I have started to keep.  These were from a picture of some china I love.  I lost one of my favourite pairs of earrings outside the hairdressers last week, so I'm pleased to have some new favourites to replace them.
These are another pair - using a less matchy but same style image.  Love them!  I have a few to make for friends now but once they are done I'm thinking about starting a little shop on Felt which is a gorgeous website for handmade goods.  Perhaps tea cosies and jewellery?  I love making things and it would be fabulous to sell some instead of keeping everything for myself!
Yesterday was my treasure shopping morning with Miss 4 and I was lucky to come across this stunning book.  It's a children's book written about historic periods but the story is told through 4 different dolls houses.  It is beautiful!  Each dolls house is a pop-up so you can see inside.  Then it has pages and pages of lift up secret flaps or letters in envelopes to unfold.  I can't wait to sit down and read it with my children - it's truly gorgeous and only $6.  I can't believe what a bargain this was and I'll treasure it forever.
 The front doors open and you can peek in all the windows.
 Secret notes are dotted throughout.  The images are beautiful.
Lots of tactile treats to discover.

Before I go, I just wanted to say a big welcome to my new followers!  It's great to have you here and it absolutely makes my day whenever I get a new comment.  All the lovely birthday wishes I received last week were just amazing - thank you.

Also - I have received some lovely blog awards this week from Rebecca, Barbina and Shelley.  Thank you so much ladies - they absolutely made my day!!

Have a fabulous week.  See you again soon.  I'm hoping to have some really special pics to share with you next week.