Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Button Swap and Blog Hop

I think most crafty (and many non-crafty) types have early memories of rummaging through Grandma's button tin - all Grandmas seem to have them - a random mix of coat buttons, shirt buttons, the fabric covered ones that came off the sofa, the odd ones left over from the sets she has bought for various knitted cardies over the years. Grandmas knew all about the value of a good button mix - even if it was just a fab way of keeping grandchildren amused for a bit while they made tea...

Click Here
Anyway I have carried my button love through into adulthood and now have a respectable collection of my own, boosted by the recent hand-crafting trend of button mixes.  Button mixes are great, usually themed, though not always, and an excellent way to build up your stash so you always have the right button to finish off that little project.

So when I spotted this great idea from NoodleBubble I just had to jump in...

The idea is you swap a 50 button mix with another button lover (as selected from those who sign up on NoodleBubble's lovely blog) - this swap is open internationally so you could get your button mix from anywhere in the world!!! How cool is that?

This is also a blog hop - add your linky to the list on NoodleBubble's blog and check out all the others there too - who knows you might discover something lovely you would never have found otherwise. Double bonus!

I've signed up. If you love buttons why not sign up too? You have until March 14th to join in and swap list will be published on March 21st.

ps: please read the rules on NoodleBubble's blog carefully. This only works if everyone does it properly ;-)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A hint of Spring...

Hard to believe that only two weeks ago I was posting pictures of our ice-encrusted Winter Wonderland. The weather has taken a (brief?) turn for the better this week, reminding us that the dark time is nearly over and very soon Spring will be here...


Mini Daffodils - I love these so much more than their  full-size cousins


Ron enjoys the sunshine

Getting stuck in...

Ladybird takes a pollen bath!

The garden is just revving up and getting going now. Before long we will actually have sunshine in the back again and then I will really feel like Winter is finally over!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A New Year Promise

Now I know, what with it being two thirds of the way through February already, it's a little late to be blogging about New Years resolutions and all, but as I have only had my laptop back three weeks I think I have a pretty good excuse...

Most of the first half of January was spent catching up with my paperwork. Unlike the Other Half's business paperwork which I deal with every week, mine tends to get put to one side to sort out 'later'. Well the pressing matter of tax return deadlines reared its ugly head so I couldn't ignore it any longer.  As I sorted through I was pleasantly surprised at the volume of sales I had achieved through Folksy, Facebook and Twitter plus sales from bricks-and-mortar shops and craft fairs. Not to mention the special commissions from friends and friends-of-friends. But (there is always a but) despite having brought in a modest income from my work I had also spent a great deal of money on materials.
Yes, I made a profit (woohoo) but only a small one and the more I thought about it - about the stress of fulfilling orders whilst keeping a toddler occupied; of keeping up with the forums and promotion on social networks; of the OH dropping barbed comments about the amount of time I was spending with my head in my laptop; the late nights editing photographs, listing and tweaking the website/online shops; and most importantly, the frustration I felt because the Little Man just wouldn't let me finish one (more) little thing.  And, you know, actually, I wondered if it was worth it. Really.

Something else has also been playing on my mind recently too. The Little Man - he's not so little anymore. On a daily basis he proudly tells me he is getting bigger like daddy, "I am nearly four now!". In seven months time he will be starting school. Part of me is really looking forward to this. He's a smart kid, he is inquisitive and genuinely wants to know about everything. I know he will love school, but (there it is again) part of me is aghast. Where has the time gone? How can we possibly be thinking about school already? Why am I spending all my time fretting and stressing and worrying about my fledgling business when I should be making the most of every moment I have with him before SCHOOL takes over...

So I have made a promise to myself.

This time I have with the Little Man is precious. It is important. Once gone, I will never be able to get it back. So for the next seven months the business will be sitting on the back burner, gently simmering, while I get on with the important task of properly enjoying the spring and summer with my special little pre-schooler...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

#Mumentum - A Week Off

I spent most of last week at my mums which meant portion control pretty much went out of the window.
My parents like to eat - although, to their credit, they do eat a lot less than they used to! They like BIG meals, usually meat based and in much larger quantities than we are used to.
As a grazer who prefers to eat little and often, I find the traditional eating three meals a day thing quite difficult. I find I simply can't manage the plate load put in front of me, and certainly don't have any room for pudding afterwards but a couple of hours later I am ready to eat again (while they are dozing). I also realised that I drink a LOT more than they do. And I am not talking about alcohol here. At home I virtually chain drink tea and coffee, although I am trying to alternate with water now. Whilst there I find myself flicking the kettle on and ending up making tea/coffee for the multitudes... (I should explain both my brother and sister still live at home. There is some rule that states whenever one wants a cuppa one MUST make a cuppa for everyone else in the house too. Which is probably why they don't drink nearly as much as I do...)

The weather wasn't brilliant either so, apart from a Friday morning bimble around town (which included a very lovely crafty purchase) there was not much exercise to be had, but I did manage to get to bed at a reasonable time and the Little Man was good and didn't wake up too early so I got a decent amount of sleep!

I am also proud to say I was able to turn down a (repeatedly) offered doughnut - I honestly don't think my mum believed me the first time!

Last night I did my first Wii workout for a week using the 'Combine Routines' function for 30 mins of varied exercise followed by a 20 min jog. After a week of nothing I noticed a definite drop in performance but it felt good to be back on it again.

And as for the scales - my new BFF - they neither frowned nor smiled. No change.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Generic mp3 Shuffle Game - Round 2

You know,  I love my music but I don't get to listen to it nearly as much as I used to or want to (strangely the LM would rather listen to The Bopps than Bjork but I'm sure he'll grow out of it ;-) )

My lovely OH bought me a new phone a couple of Christmasses ago that had a built in MP3 and since the LM has been going to nursery, and I have had the long walk to pick him up, I have finally had the chance to indulge in all my old favourites (and a few new ones).

I spotted this game on Seasider in the City blog today, inspired by a similar game on the Chris Moyles Show. Apparently I missed round one, but nevermind. The idea is you set your MP3 on shuffle and share the first 5 tunes that come up - whatever they may be. Could be interesting (or a bit embarrassing or just down right hilarious)...

So lets Shuffle....

1 System of a Down - Forest

2  Duran Duran - Reach up for the Sunrise

3 All About Eve - Scarlet

4 Nirvana - The Man Who Sold The World

5 Green Day - Hitchin' a Ride

So there you go. Never let it be said that my tastes are not varied...

Visit Seasider in the City to see what others are listening to or to add your link if you want to join in!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Calling all yarn lovers!

Today I visited a beautiful wool shop in Abergavenny, The Wool Croft. Stuffed full of beautiful yarns including Rowan, Noro and Debbie Bliss plus Organic Welsh wool and some unusual skeins of beaded or hand painted yarns.
I was in a mood to treat myself and left with some new bamboo needles, some cute heart shaped wooden buttons and this...

Isn't it gorgeous?  It's a hand dyed, silk/merino wool mix yarn by Louisa Harding. It is smooth and soft with a fabulous sheen. Hand painted by artisans in Chile - every hank is unique.

This one is a blend of blues ranging from pale aqua to dark navy called 'Coastal' and I absolutely fell in love with it and just had to bring it home!

Only problem is I have no idea what I will make with it!

So I am looking for some suggestions.

Knit or crochet - I don't mind.

 The yarn weight is somewhere between DK and aran weight with a recommended needle size 4mm or hook size 5.5mm - 6.5mm. The hank is 110yds in length so there is only enough for a small project.

Please help! I would hate for this sublime yarn to end up in my stash box, taken out occasionally to be stroked and 'oooooed' over...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love is in the air....

There is a lot of love about this week... Hearts in all shapes and sizes are popping up everywhere I look on the internet. Did someone mention Valentine's Day?

You know, my Other Half is not the most romantic type - he has only ever bought me flowers once. To be fair it was a single red rose and he had to tuck it inside his bike jacket to deliver it. All those thorns with only a tshirt to protect him... no wonder he never got me any more!!!  This year he has a meeting with the Coleford Carnival of Transport Commitee (of which he is a member) tonight so no surprise dinner for 2 for me then... *sigh*

So it seems, if I want some of that lovin' feeling I will just have to find it for myself...

 Happy Valentines Day my lovers!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

#Mumentum - Weighty Matters...

 The scales are not my friend...

Or you could say they are my very best friend as they are honest and they tell it like it is without sugar-coating the truth. Unlike a good friend, however, they don't offer hugs and a cuppa to ease the pain of bad news (and they are a bit of loss on the gossipping front to, if I'm honest...).

After last week's post full of positivity my confidence is back on the floor. You see, despite spending best part of an hour every day jogging, hula-hoop-ing, boxing, yoga and pretending to be a Jedi knight with my light sabre on the swordplay section of WiiResort; despite clocking up a couple of hours and 15km on the exercise bike whilst watching Eastenders; despite sweating like a pig in my Zaggora Hotpants; despite there being barely a cake, biscuit or packet of crisps in the house because money is tight again; despite all of this the scales show no change...

It's frustrating to say the least.

Friends have tried to reassure me that aren't showing weight loss because I am building up muscle mass thanks to all the exercise and although I am losing fat, muscle weighs more. Etc. Etc.
Problem is my scales are clever. They show me how much of my body is fat (a scary 38% at the moment!!) and how much that fat weighs (you really don't want to know).
The numbers are exactly the same as they were at the beginning of January...

I am clearly not doing everything I could/should so this week I am going to really concentrate on what I am eating, portion control, getting plenty of water and  ABSOLUTELY NO SNACKING.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Snow lovely...

The past four winters we have been blessed (cursed) with LOTS of snow. It disrupted everything from food deliveries to public transport and emergency service response. We have had to abandon vehicles and walk home through the drifts when freak snowstorms have made it too dangerous to drive. Local supermarkets ran out of staples as everyone panic bought essentials in fear of the worst. Our business suffered badly as, for two winters running, the snowy conditions dragged on for weeks and nobody was coming into the shop. Assuming the OH could even get to the shop to open up.
So this winter's distinct lack of the white stuff has been a welcome relief. Yes we've had snow but it hasn't been enough to stop most day to day activities (at least in this neck of the woods) and it hasn't hung around for long enough to be a pain.

Yesterday it was doing it's damnedest to prove that, actually it can be rather beautiful...

When we woke up to this sight - a bright, slightly waning moon suspended in a pinky blue sky just before the sun rose - I knew we were in for a lovely day...

Snow covered black branches against a pale blue winter sky

In places where the sun doesn't reach the snow still lay thickly

A Hazy Shade of Winter

Temperatures have plummeted over night this past week or so, creating  a 'snow-thaw-freeze' cycle that has made for some gorgeous icicle formations...

Every twig has it's own little ice jacket...

Even the individual blades of grass have been treated to crystal coating!

Natures own tinsel and fairy lights - this tree actually glistened. Unfortunately I could not quite capture the sparkle of sunlight on the ice... Believe me, I tried.

The late afternoon sun on the rapidly melting ice was dazzling.

It's all gone now. With every day we are heading closer to Spring so I don't know if we'll get any more this Winter... If it means we can head out in the sunshine and witness this beauty again then I won't mind too much.  

But if it stops everyone from getting to where they need to go and means the corner shop runs out of coffee I might stamp my feet a bit...

#SilentSunday 12/02/12

for more fab pictures search #SilentSunday on twitter.com

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Retro toy fun - Old Skool Lego

Yesterday we* were given an amazing gift from the Other Half's brother - a box of Lego. More accurately, a vintage (mid 70's?) set of Lego in it's original box!  

*I say we - technically it was for the Little Man, but, you know, he has to be supervised and besides he has the attention span of a fly...
This is Lego as I remember it before it got all technical and based around the latest blockbuster movie...

Check out that collar and the hair!

Now if your family was anything like mine there was always plenty of Lego to play with but, despite our best intentions, it rarely stayed in it's original box for long. This set however even has the instructions!

 Well, naturally I couldn't wait to get stuck in. It didn't take long to build the hospital - cleverly hinged on one side to allow easy play. Honestly it was like being 7 all over again. Right down to nearly throwing a wobbly when I couldn't get one bit to stay together properly...

But after about half an hour of reacquainting myself with teeny Lego (the LM is still at the Duplo stage of Lego building) I had my state of the art (c. 1970) hospital complete with bed, trolley, sink and tiled cabinet (I made that one up myself - you see it all comes flooding back!).

Doctor 'How are you feeling?' Patient 'A bit stiff, doctor...'

See this is 'old skool' Lego - in the days before Lego mini-figures existed. These guys don't bend in the middle...

Now I have made the hospital I can't wait to have a go at some of the other ideas on the box...

Relaxing in our stylish living room...

Who needs MFI? 

As I suspected the Little Man got bored about ten minutes into construction and decided that bowling on the Wii was much more fun. I think I may have to pass the task of creative Lego play over to Daddy. I'm sure he could make something far more interesting to a four year old boy than the various retro interiors I want to recreate :-)

Thank you to Uncle M for this little surprise. I promise I will pass it on to the Little Man as soon as he is old enough to appreciate it.
In the meantime I have a restaurant to construct....


Apparently all Lego sets can be dated by their set number. This one was released in 1978. Thanks to @frizzychick for filling me in on that one :-)

Monday, February 06, 2012

#Mumentum New Year, New Me (blah blah blah)

It's been a while since I last did a Mum-en-tum post and, well, nothing much has changed.
December brought the usual round of over-indulgence - I blame the fact that mince pies and brandy cream are only available for 2 months of the year. I have to get my fix before they disappear from the shelves until next November...
But, that said I entered 2012 10lbs lighter than I was at the beginning of 2011 so there must be some progress being made!
Now back in the old days (read early 20's) shifting a stone after the party season was not a major problem. A few weeks of soup, salad and chocolate hobnob abstinence was usually all that was required to shift the winter weight. But it is true what they say about it getting harder as you get older.
Last week I celebrated my 38th birthday (with Chinese food and chocolate cupcakes) That's officially 'late-30's'. Nearly 40 even. If I stand any chance of getting rid of those excess pounds stones for good, this is the year I have to make it happen or else a  life of floaty tunics and elastic waistbands looms...

No dieting here though.
I detest that word... instead I am looking a bit more carefully at what I eat and, most importantly, my portion sizes. I have been researching some low fat, healthy recipes and trying to create meals that I can enjoy with the LM. I am looking for recipes that are intended to serve only one or two (not as easy as you might think) so that over-eating is not an option. If  I find some good ones I will share if you like :-)

The gym or exercise classes are still a non-starter for me. Even if we could spare the cash I can't get to any of the darn things! The exercise bike, however,  is finally being used as it was intended - ie: it's not draped with coats, bags, ironing etc and my lovely OH picked up a second hand Wii complete with Wii Fit for me for Christmas which we have all had lots of fun with through the dreary month of January. I am just starting to get into a routine of sorts and it is actually very good fun and the daily body tests are pretty motivational! I will let you know how I get on with that and how much of a difference it makes...

In the meantime I wish all you lovely Mumentum ladies a (slightly belated) Happy New Year. Lets make 2012 the year we all achieve what we want! xx

Don't forget to visit Liska's blog NewMumOnline and check out all the other Mumentum posts this week...  (for some reason my lovely new blog template won't let me add the the linky tool to this post)

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Knit along with Deramores and Rowan

Have I mentioned before how much I love Mollie Makes magazine? Well they have a fab blog too and the other day they pulled my attention to a great idea from the award winning website deramores.com. They have joined forces with Rowan Yarns and, utilising the modern wonder that it social networking, have organised a 'Knit along' by giving away a free knitting pattern for a cosy snood (just perfect for the cold snap we are weathering at the moment!) and encouraging their facebook 'likers' and Twitter followers to join in and post about their progress!

Well, as part of my New Year's Promise (as opposed to 'Resolution', but more about that another time) to myself I felt I just had to take part...

I confess I cheated slightly and used yarn from my stash - a double knit baby yarn (Sirdar Snuggly) that I bought ages ago with the intention of making my baby something cosy- rather than purchase the Rowan Alpaca Cotton yarn the pattern specifies*. Obviously it's finer than the aran weight yarn but I figure it will be all the lighter and 'lacier' for it.

Wanna see the project so far?

I love the simplicity of the pattern and the short rows mean it is easy to pick up and put down without risking losing your way or dropping stitches. I'm not the worlds fastest knitter - my mum could probably whip this up over a couple of evenings - but it's growing quick enough for me not to lose interest and pack it away with all the other 'unfinished' projects...

If you want to have a go too, head over to Deramores for the free pattern. They also have 10% off the gorgeous Rowan Alpaca Cotton yarn until 9th Feb as a further incentive if you want to do it properly.

You can post your work in progress pictures on the Deramores facebook page or tweet them using the tag #KAL and mentioning @Deramores and @RowanYarns so they can see what you've created too!

If you blog your knit along project then be sure to let me know and leave a link with your comment.

Good luck! x

*If money was no object I would have gone for the gorgeous muted Lichen (green) or Raindrop (grey-blue). Or maybe made one in each colour...
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