Sunday, 29 June 2014

Weekend Roundup

Thought I'd do a little post to sum up my weekend, I've seen a few other blogs with similar posts on so thought I would give it a go. The post I put up yesterday was actually finished Friday evening but finished very late and I decided I wanted another proof read before I posted it on Saturday morning. This was following my first day back at work! I was on an 11am-8pm shift which most people agree is the worst shift to work but I was just so happy to get out of the house and see other people! We got home and Dave had his friend round playing computer games so I jumped into blogging and re-doing my template and before I knew it, it was technically Saturday!

My weekends are usually split into 2 types. The ones I work and the ones I get to have a life haha. When I work I don't tend to do much except come home afterwards and chill but on our weekends off (me and Dave have the same after much effort) we follow pretty much the same routine. On a Saturday morning, Dave gets up early (leaving me in bed) and goes for his horse riding lesson with his sister. I normally get up when he gets home around 10 and we spend the day doing things around the house and having a bit of a relax. What this actually means is that Dave relaxes and usually at some point naps while I have a whole list of things to do including making sure all the work clothes are washed and sorting out meals and shopping lists for the following week. Since being off sick my organisation has gone to pot and it really frustrates me. Dave was very confused the other day when I threw a stop and stomped round the house because something in the fridge that could have been frozen had gone past its "use by" date (crazy I know!). So to stop any future strops and as I am back at work I am jumping back on the food organising horse.

What I cook each week depends a lot on what shifts we're working. If I'm not getting home until 8:30 at night I don't want something that's going to take 40 minutes to prepare. The weekly planner that's in the photo I absolutely love! Its like a big notepad where each page is a week so you can plan in everything you need to do. Once I've filled it in it gets blu tacked to my kitchen door for easy viewing.

I always tend to put things like this and the calenders where Dave can see them but I really don't think he pays any attention at all.

I also did some more work on the dinosaur pattern. The pattern I made form enlarging someone else's pattern really wasn't working, it just didn't look right so I have gone back to the drawing board and started my own pattern from scratch. I'll keep you guys posted on how it turns out.

Yesterday evening was spent how we spend a lot of our Saturday nights - round my parents. We all get along really well so its not a chore to go round and see them haha. We only live about a 5 minute drive away from my parents because we live in the same town so we see quite a lot of them. We had fish and chips for tea which was really good as mum and dad have an amazing chippy near their house (its won awards and everything!). My dad spent part of his evening in the garden putting up the outdoor wall clock we got him for his birthday on Monday. He loves his garden and he loves clocks so seemed like the perfect present. 
We then fired up Netflix and watched "Jackie Brown" me and Dave watched it not too long ago but its a good film so we didn't mind it being on again. Dad and Dave tried to keep a tally on how often Samuel L Jackson said "mother f*cker" but I think they lost count because its a lot. Dave loves Samuel L Jackson and there are 2 canvases of him up in our house!

I was bored yesterday afternoon so decided to put my hair up into a beehive (as you do). When I asked Dave what I thought about it, he said he preferred it down. Dave actually likes my hair its natural colour (really dark brown), long and straight. I think its really boring! I personally liked the beehive and it may be making an appearance at work, I tend to wear my hair up because I wear a headset and have a problems with hair being pressed over my ears.

My mum gave me a lipstick while I was there saying that she liked it when she had bought it but now thought it was dark. When she first gave it to me I thought she was crazy. My mum has much darker skin than me because she is Greek (I guess this makes me 1/2 Greek but you wouldn't know by how pale I am) and my initial thought was that if it was too dark for her then there was no way it would suit me. I tried it on and it actually looks quite nice. Its No.7 Moisture Drench in Plum Beautiful. I normally stick to red and pick lipstick, so may have to branch out into more purple tones.

I also returned with this little guy, some of you might remember him from a previous blog.

I've got him back to add some custom touches including a button and the initial of the person he belongs to, just to make him extra special.

On Sundays that we don't work Dave has 2 band practises. One very early in the morning with his Dad and then one in the evening with some friends he went to school with. He again leaves before I'm properly awake and then I potter round the house doing bits and pieces, today this meant re-organising my medicine box, because I have so many tablets (I've mentioned before that I'm not very well) and if they aren't all put in properly I can't get the lid on.

As I had a bit more time, I decided to do the cutting out for my next sewing project. The sewing machine I have borrowed has been sat doing nothing for far too long. I really want to make clothes but I'm not feeling brave enough yet so have decided to make a mole teddy. I bought a Minicraft kit ages ago and hand sewed the original teddy. Before I did it I made a template of the pieces so I could make another one. I'm using an old pair of trousers just to get some practise in with the machine. 

Sunday Afternoons of weekends off are spent at the in-laws house in Sandbach, a small village about 6 miles away where Dave grew up and where we met. I refer to them as my in-laws even though me and Dave aren't married because they mean a lot to me and if I refer to them as "Dave's parents" it feels like I'm trying to emphasise the point that they are his a not mine.

We have Sunday tea with them and then I stay while Dave goes off to his other band practise in Sandbach. I'm lucky that I get on really well with my mother and sister in law so just sit and chat with them for a few hours before Dave comes back and we go home. Sometimes I help Leanne out with her homework, she's 14 and I have technically done it all before but sometimes I have to really sit and think about it! On days when she has done her homework we crochet, its nice to have someone else that I see who can do it too, although she's far to judgemental of her own work (I feel I may be being a bit hypocritical here!).

This afternoon I got to play with this lovely little kitten. She's getting so big and mischievous! 

Now I'm home and to round off my weekend a lovely soak in the bath with my favourite bubblebath

Have a lovely week xx

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Special gift for a special friend.

So I can finally reveal what I have been working on for my World Cup Craft project and why it was so fitting. My very good friend Bekki spent a few months of last year travelling round Asia and Australasia, so as her (very late) birthday present I embroidered a cushion with all the countries she went to.

Here it is!

She travelled to Thailand, China, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji so I did them all in their own colours and then just did all the other countries and borders in silver. I then finished it all off with the teal lettering at the bottom.

I started by actually finding a map I could use that was small enough to fit on the cushion but large enough to make it possible to sew. I finally found one and then had to sit looking at another map and make sure I marked off the right countries. I myself am pretty untraveled myself so wanted to double check. In the photo it looks very crinkled from lots of use.

Then I had to transfer the pattern onto the cushion cover. I already had some tailors transfer paper and decided to use the white one because I didn't want to end up marking the cushion, however I made the mistake of not testing it in a corner to check that it would show up. This meant that I traced the whole thing and then realised that it hadn't worked. I then went through the other colours and found that the red one showed up and so traced it with that.

It came out quite faint and its pretty difficult to see in this photo, but it gave me an outline which I then drew over with my purple fabric pen, I did remember to test this on a little bit of fabric on the inside of the cushion to check it faded. Turns out the ink fades very quickly on this type of material, the reason the map is so creased is because I had to keep looking at it for reference and re-drawing parts of the map.

I began my stitching with Australia, I'm not sure why, perhaps because its not got any other countries touching it and therefore in my mind that made it easier.

My first attempt was using a simple back stitch but I soon realised that this lacked the finesse that I wanted the cushion to have

I then moved on to the chain stitch, which really isn't more difficult but I thought looked a lot nicer.

I finished Australia on the night that England were beaten by Uruguay,

 Or so I thought, it turns out that Tasmania is also part of Australia so I had to do that little island in Orange too.

The next day I got lots of sewing done because the electrician came round and turned all my electric off, so he could fix some of the plug sockets in the house. I imagine he thought I was quite odd, sat across the room from him with my headphones in, sewing away. I next attempted China, it was the other big country and I'd already decided to do all the coloured countries first because I didn't want to accidentally sew part of one of them with the silver thread.

China was followed by Thailand

Then New Zealand

And last but not least - tiny little Fiji

I then had to fill in the rest of the map. The reason I chose a silver thread was because I wanted something that would compliment the colour of the cushion but also not stand out too much. I wanted the main focus to be drawn to the countries she had visited.

This was what it looked like when all the countries were done!

The next stage was to add the lettering to the bottom of the cushion. I decided to put "Travelling 2013" just in case she goes travelling again in the future...and I decide to make her another cushion haha.

I picked a font ages ago and began to doubt my decision when I was trying to transfer it onto the cushion cover.

 I stuck with the original back stitching to go around the lettering and then filled it in using satin stitching. This was the only point of my sewing where I started doubting myself and wondering whether it looked good enough. I think there is always a part of a project where I get very critical of myself. Maybe I should have more confidence in what I do because everyone has told me how good it looks.

 And when the lettering was done it was finished. It's the first time in a while that I've done some embroidery and even longer since I've done such a big piece. I really enjoyed it, as much as I love crochet and all the amazing things it makes, hand sewing will always be my first love.

When it actually got round to giving this to Bekki I did start to feel a little nervous in case she didn't like it. It's not like you can pop a receipt in the bag so they can return it. However when I went into her room I saw this on my desk and I realised how silly I had been

This was what I made Bekki for her birthday last year. I spent hours devising a pattern for an amigurumi fox as it's her favourite animal and its right there on her desk. That's when I realised that she would have loved it even if it does have problems because I made it for her, and that the important bit. The fact that I put so much care into it because I was making it for her.It makes is special.

Now that the sewing is done I am going back to one of my many crochet patterns on my to do list. Trying to work out the kinks in my dinosaur pattern. As the picture below's going well!

I hate using yarn after its been undone!

My crocheting may slow down again because....I've gone back to work. Despite feeling no better at all and still having no diagnosis. I'm pushing myself to go back because I feel like staying at home by myself is really bringing me down. I get so bored! Fingers crossed for a speedy diagnosis and an even quicker cure!

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend x

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Pretending I'm still a student

Today I had made a student dinner for me and Dave. Pasta for tea which when we were at Uni was fondly named pasta with sh*tloads of cheese. This is because I didn't get anything out the freezer and I was being lazy. To be honest I did cook this morning (eggy bread and bacon) so I didn't feel too bad about not making a proper meal. It did however lead to a phone call with Mum where she very crossly said that I should have told her that I had no food in, I then had to admit to my laziness. To follow our student dinner Dave wanted dessert which lead to the chocolate microwave mug cakes! They weren't the best cakes I've ever made but they definitely did the job.

All the ingredients mixed together in a mug and then a couple of minutes later

Ta Da!
It had deflated a little in between taking it out the microwave and taking the photo haha. If anyone is going to make one (and there are loads of recipes on the web including posh grown up ones) I recommend using the biggest mug you have as they expand quite a bit.

As my World Cup Craft project is a secret I can't post details on it but I can say that I am about 1/4 of the way there so on track to finish it. What I have decided to do instead is to talk about my new embroidery loop that I have been using.

 The one on the left is my old one and probably the one that most sporadic embroiderers will use, it has a screw which I have managed to cut out of the photo (oops!)  Whereas my new one on the right has an internal metal ring that you pull together to move in and out of the pink cover.

I have to admit that when I bought this I didn't need it as I didn't have any impending embroidery projects but I was yarn shopping (a fairly regular past time) and this caught my eye. Admittedly it was probably because it was pink. Its nice having a hoop where the 2 pieces themselves don't become looser as you sew, you still get the slack from the material being pulled but you don't have the issue of needing to retighten the screw as you do with the other one. The only problem I do have with it, and its something that could probably be avoided if I thought about it when I was putting the hoop on. When the hoop is on the material you can only see the pink coating from the front and the metal loop/handles are on the back

My problem is that I get thread caught round the handles. If you notice straight away then its not too bad, however if you don't and carry on stitching you end up with this pointless extra loop of thread that you then have to tie off. Its not the biggest problem in the world but its pretty frustrating. 

The other "exciting" part of my boring Sunday was that my regular shaped candle that I burnt in a star shaped pot

Is now a star shaped candle

I'm very easily amused haha. And on that note I shall round off my fairly boring blog post from my uneventful Sunday.

I hope your weekends were lovely x

Thursday, 19 June 2014

World Cup Crafting

So my lovely twitter and blog friend Jenny () has set herself a challenge to finish her crafty project of knitting a cardigan by the end of the world cup, and has invited others to join in. I figured that this would be a perfect opportunity to challenge myself to finish my embroidery project. Its to be given as a gift and should have been finished quite a while ago. 

As I've mentioned before I can't post details on what the project actually is as the person receiving it has been known to peruse my blog and I don't want to ruin the surprise. I will be posting bits that slyly skim over what the overall result will be and am taking photos as I go along to post in a lovely blog post when it's finished.

I finally got my bum in gear with starting everything today, and surprisingly its all because boyfriend decided to upset me. One comment about how much dirty washing there is in the laundry basket and I found myself sat and the downstairs table with my project purposely avoiding any form of housework! Regretting it now because it still needs to be done before I can go bed.

The gift I am making is an embroidered cushion and the design I have chosen is something that has to be copied as exactly as I can rather than it being something I can draw freehand. Straight away this makes it a bit more difficult. The first thing I did was mark out where to lay the pattern on the cushion, so I could make sure that every time I was using it, it was being put in the same place. 

I used tailors transfer pattern to get the pattern onto the material. First time I used a white piece and then realised that it wasn't showing up on the cushion. I then took a red piece which worked but it was still a bit faint so I went over the whole pattern with my fabric pen. The only problem I can foresee is that the material of the cushion seems to not hold the ink for very long so I may have to redraw parts the pattern as I'm going along.

I started with a back stitch but decided I didn't like it:

So I changed to a split stitch and think it looks much better:

The pattern is quite large but certain parts have been picked out to be in the colours I picked in my last blog and the rest of the pattern will be in silver. This will all make so much more sense when I can tell you all what it is! 

I managed to get a good part of one of the focal (coloured) parts done during the England/Uruguay match this evening but it did mean that I didn't pay too much attention to the football haha. I have an electrician coming in the morning and my plan is just to sit and sew with a cup of tea while he works as to not get in his way!

I guess I should get on and clean my kitchen :(
If anyone fancies joining me and Jenny we are using the hashtag #worldcupcraft on twitter or give her a comment on her blog or twitter (@riley_jl ). We'd love to see what other people are up to!

Have a lovely day x

P.S. I made a Victoria Sponge yesterday :)

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Maybe we're a special group of people?

Yesterday I was horrendously ill. I had a temperature but refused to come out from under my blanket and did absolutely nothing all day which includes no crocheting! Feeling much better today though (Yay!) and now back to just plodding on with all my usual symptoms haha. 

The only thing I did manage to do yesterday was to watch the finale of Game of Thrones. As someone who has not read the books I find it very frustrating that I have questions that will have to go a year before being answered. AND before anyone tells me to go read the books, I would like to point out that I own them all but due to a problem that has developed with my eyes/brain I find it difficult to read for long periods of time which makes me very sad. I used to be the kind of person that had to have a book prised from her hands :(

Today I've been getting things in place for my embroidery project. It is a very late gift for one of my friends. I can't post too much about it on here as I want it to be a surprise but am looking forward to sharing the finished result. First thing I needed to to was to check that my embroidery pen won't spoil the fabric (it doesn't) and pick my thread colours. I wanted them to clash to some degree with the background so they can stand out but at the same time I wanted them all to compliment each other. I think they look OK.

My next step is to draw out the design on the fabric. Its pretty complicated and I'm unsure whether to draw out the whole thing or just parts of it as I go along, the problem is, everything is in relation to each other so I need to make sure I keep that the same if I don't draw it all at once. There is also the chance that my lines could fade depending on how long it takes me to complete.

I do love embroidery - its the first crafty thing I ever did. When I was younger my Yaya (Greek nan) was a seamstress and I would go stay with her and sit on the floor by her sewing machine, sewing onto scraps of fabric while she worked. I think most of my love of crafting comes from her. None of my other family are really into it and my mum struggles sewing on buttons haha. 

I find it quite sad that I know my mum can do the basics of crochet and I could easily teach my sister to do it but they say they don't have the patience. Now I understand that when a pattern isn't turning out right things can get stressful but on the whole I find crocheting very relaxing and something I can do whilst the TV is on and still understand what's going on. 

Maybe we're a special group of people?

Hope everyone has a good week x

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Happy Fathers Day!

I am very lucky to have a wonderful Dad in my life. We don't always see eye to eye but I know he will always be there for me, including earlier on this week when he came round to try and fix my electric at the house. Not everyone realises but my dad is not my biological father. Despite this he has now been there for more than half my life and earned the title of "Dad" a long time ago. So much so that me and my sister have had our surnames legally changed to be the same as his. Since we became a proper family unit he has never once treated me or my sister like we weren't his own children. He never refused to pay or buy us anything. In fact he spoilt us rotten. Biological parents don't always stick around like they should, but I'm lucky enough that my dad had a big enough heart for us too.

I decided to just do some doodle embroidery in my notebook. Partly to jazz up my notebook but also because I'm embarking on an embroidery project this week.I can't say too much on here because I don't want to spoil the surprise for the person its for.

My other project this week is getting on with Dave's secret surprise. I have moved from a Charmander to a Charizard (I think its the more evolved version but it just looks more like a dragon). He has also now decided that he wants an elephant.

I finished this glittery pink elephant for my mum's friend Emily. When I showed her a picture she got very excited and said that it was it was the most beautiful elephant she had ever seen. When Dave was looking at the elephant before it got delivered he put Steve (Turquoise Octopus mentioned in one of my previous blogs) on his back and decided that this elephant was the perfect size for Steve to "ride into battle". Now the elephants I have been making have all differed slightly in size due to different wools being used. Luckily for Dave I have this same wool in some different colours. This means also added to my to do list is a glittery grey elephant for Dave along with my friends house warming dinosaurs. Sounds like I have a busy week ahead! 

Apart from finishing this elephant and my sewing I haven't done much crafty stuff this weekend. However I have been doing some baking. On Friday I made this chocolate fudge cake with ripples and rolos.

and then on Saturday I made these chocolate, caramel and peanut butter cupcakes, which I actually didn't have a chance to taste but were told they were very nice

Hope everyone has had a good weekend x

Friday, 13 June 2014

Elephants Everywhere!!!

So Blog every day in May was a complete bust. I'm so disappointed but to be fair to myself I have been so ill. I am still so ill. Part of the reason my blogging tailed off was because my crocheting tailed off. I've been in so much pain that all I have wanted to do is lie on the sofa under a blanket feeling sorry for myself.

I have decided however that if I carry on like that I may end up going down an awful downward spiral that I might not be able to get back out of. So trying to be more positive, getting back on track with my crocheting.

I have done bits of crocheting. Everyone seems to want one of the elephants I've been making.

This guy was requested by my Dad. I gave him tusks to make him a bit more manly and he now spends his days travelling round in my dads work van.

Then my sister asked for one. My sister has more things I have crocheted then anyone else. Every time I saw her after I agreed to make it she was asking where he was. I think he was worth the wait. I think she called him "Murray" because he is mint green.

I then decided to make a big elephant for my good friend who is having a baby in October. Rather than trying to enlarge the pattern - which is something that I have considered but don't have energy for at the minute -I bought some really thick wool. I wasn't overly keen on it because I have this need for everything to be perfect and the wool didn't form into lovely squares of colour (not that I really expected it to haha) but everyone else seemed to love it. Even my Dave said that if my friend didn't like it he would claim it. Unfortunately for him she loved it.

I guess he is kind of cute.

My current elephant is a glittery pink number for a work friend of my mums. I showed my mum 2 different pink yarns to choose from an she couldn't decide so I have to make 2 and let her friend choose. Its lucky I enjoy making them!

I have also mocked up a larger pattern for the dinosaur that I mentioned in a previous post so they are on my list of things to make. I will post the pattern after I've made them and amended and problems with the pattern. Also I did attempt to start Dave's secret surprise Charmander but I struggled getting along with the pattern. There were no numbers to indicate the number of stitched per row and the rows didn't always finish where they have started. I have found a pattern for a Charizard that I think I'll attempt and that he will probably prefer anyways.

To something non crochet related. My lovely Victorian cottage is having electrical problems. Turns out the problems we had with condensation back in November have caused mould to grow inside the plug sockets. We had no idea until the electric started tripping. It kind of grosses me out knowing it was there the whole time and we had no idea! Its being left to dry out at the minute and then we're having new sockets fitted next week. So lucky to have a brilliant landlord who gets things done so quickly.

So onto plans for the rest of the day: finishing the glittery elephant and then some baking. I want to attempt chocolate, caramel, peanut butter cupcakes. If they go well I'll post a photo :)

Hope you all have a wonderful day xx