Hi lovelies…

I thought I’d post a few photo’s so you can see the progress of my Chocolate Sundae blanket.  It sure eats a lot of wool and takes quite a lot of time to do just the one stripe [four rows] but I think it’s because it’s made to fit our Super Kingsize bed!!!!  I’ve just ordered another ball ~ 100g ~ of each main colour as I don’t think I’m going to have enough at three of each which was what I bought initially; I’m already halfway through the second ball of each colour and, as you can see from the photo’s, not even half way through.  I didn’t buy anymore raspberry [yet] for the thin [two rows of dc] stripe, but it’s only a matter of time as I’ve decided I will do the border in that wonderful raspberry colour. 

The only issue I have so far is that the blanket has become marginally wider as I’ve progressed.  Now, this could be down to my tension not being consistent as I crochet at different times of the day ~ I’m obviously getting a little slack lol :D .  Could be my mood or because I’m tired maybe?  It could also be that the foundation chain is a bit tight and less flexible so pinching the start of the blanket in.  I did use a half size bigger hook [4.5mm] to make the foundation chain so it shouldn’t be too tight but hey, who knows? 

Anyway, photo’s…..

Chocolate Sundae 09.11 (4)

Yummy chocolate stack. . .

Chocolate Sundae 09.11 (6)

Laid up my bed. . .

Chocolate Sundae 09.11 (7)

Close up. . .

Chocolate Sundae 09.11

Full width across my bed . . .

Chocolate Sundae 09.11 (10)
As you can see, the increase in width is not really noticeable, it is only tiny but I’m a perfectionistFor those who are interested in what colours and make of yarn I bought and from where, HERE is the link to the birth of the blanket sotospeak.  For the stitches used and in what order, HERE is the link to the pattern/tutorial type post.  It’s my own so no copywrite issues to worry about…..xx

Happy hooking all. . . xx

More coaster chaos. . .

I have gone a bit coaster crazy it would appear.  I’m actually considering selling some, but hey, I’m good at making plans and then life takes over, free time vanishes and reality sets in……

Anyway here are a few shots of what I’ve been up to the last couple of days.  I intend to make a coaster from each colour of cotton and then start mixing and matching some colours and making sets of four or six coasters.

Coaster Chaos Oct'14 (10)

These are a cotton mix with lovely sparkly bits. I only have these three balls so there’ll be no more when it’s gone. . .

Coaster Chaos Oct'14 (8)

These are made using Stylecraft Classique 100% cotton DK ~ bought from The Wool Warehouse. This is lovely to use and doesn’t split. . .

Coaster Chaos Oct'14 (13)

Made using Patons 100% cotton. It’s mercerised so has a slight sheen to it. Can also be bought from The Wool Warehouse.

The pattern for these coasters used to be availabe on About.com but has now vanished. The original pattern was called 1893 Circle Motiff.  Luckily it’s so popular that lots of ladies have written it up on their blogs and sites.  Here is a link to Janette’s blog, ‘The Green Dragonfly’ where you’ll find her step-by-step tutorial on how to make them.  Janette comes from beautiful New Zealand so she uses USA crochet terms, so if you’re using UK terms then remember to do a Treble Crochet [tr] where Janette has put Double Crochet [dc].  If you need help then here is a fab conversion chart that has all you need for any pattern where you need to convert the terms.  It also has all manner or terms and abbreviations explained.  For all of the yarn shown above I’ve used a 3.5mm hook [E].

Happy Hooking on this All Hallows’ Eve!!

Coasting through half-term . . .

It’s half-term here in the Smith household.  ***sounds of cheering***  Despite the weather [wet, chilly and windy today] we’re having a lovely, restful week.  I’ve been adding a bit more to my Chocolate Sundae blanket and have also started making a few cotton coasters again.  Here are a couple of photo’s of the coasters.  Not much point in taking a photo’ of the blanket as it just looks the same, but bigger.  I think once it’s nearly done it’ll be worth posting a few shots again.

Cotton coaster Oct '14 (5)

The two blue ones are made using Stylecraft Classique DK Cotton and the purple one is Patons Mercerised DK Cotton. You can tell there’s a slight difference as the purple one has a slight sheen to it and, despite them both being DK weight, the Stylecraft coasters are a tiny bit bigger. I used a 3.5 hook for both.

Cotton coaster Oct '14 (2)

I love the darker colours for a change. Feels very seasonal.

and Suri makes six. . .

Introducing Suri [Japanese for princess], our new Devon Rex kitten. She is four months old now and came to us as rather a surprise last Wednesday, it’s a long story. She is Willow’s full sister but not of the same litter, just the same parents. Suri and Willow bonded instantly and are now inseparable. She is a cream silver tabby [for those who like to know these things] but with Devons the colour is not paramount as there are so many variations. I may show her if an opportunity close to home comes up. I don’t like driving the length of the country for a cat show, my weekends are short enough as it is, but a day out showing within a couple of hours drive can be very pleasant.

So to the best bit, photo’s. . .

Suri 25.09 (7)

Sitting on my bed with Callie lurking in the background.

Suri 25.09 (10)

Shall I jump? [She’s totally fearless I might add and slightly bonkers]

Willow and Suri

Lying on my legs with the very pretty Willow, I was in bed at the time [poorly]. They’re wonderful company . . .

Willow and Suri#3

Willow washing a sleepy Suri ~ bless!  [That dark set of ears you can see top left belong to Ava who is sleeping in the princess bed on the blanket box on the landing.]

So, there we have it, and Suri makes six. **Runs screaming hysterically from the room!**  She is lovely, so gentle with people, loves to be with you and snuggle. Totally fearless and slightly bonkers, especially when playing with Reu and Willow. It’s strange but true that Devons like their own breed. In a house of twenty cats, if only two of them were Devons they’d pair up and become friends. I’ve no idea how they know, but they do. We have two distinct ‘gangs’ here, the moggies and the Devons. All live peaceably together but there is an obvious divide indicated by who sleeps/plays with who.

If anyone out there is thinking of buying a Devon as a single [lone] cat think very carefully if they’re to be left alone for long periods of time. Fine if you’re home all day apart from the normal trips out, but if you work then consider buying two so they have each other for company when you’re not around. Also be prepared to have them around you all of the time, they’re very devoted and people focussed. I don’t advise letting them outside [ours come into the garden with us on sunny days but they don’t leave the garden] and they won’t want to be away from you for any amount of time anyway.  Their coats are not designed for cold weather [no undercoat] and they’re so curious and people orientated that they’d easily be stolen or attacked by other animals.  They’re a cross between a dog, a lamb and a spider monkey.  Somehow I’ve ended up giving an unexpected Devon Rex 101 but hey, good to share the wisdom I suppose.  Here is a LINK to a breed profile which, if nothing else, has some lovely photo’s and a video of Devons.

Have a good week all, I’m back to work tomorrow [bugs allowing]. . .

Prayer Journal [ARC]

Hi everyone xx

I’ve just had a week off for half-term.  Yes, I know that’s early but my new job is in an academy so they get to set their own holidays/terms.  This week is chosen so that families can take advantage of cheap holiday deals out of season, and also hopefully enjoy an Indian summer [has been quite a nice week here in the UK].

During my week off I’ve been doing all the things I really love ~ journaling, hair cut, meals out with friends, loving my animals without time constraint and welcoming a new kitten into the house [that’s another post I think ;) ].  And yes, for those who are counting that makes SIX cats, we’re done at six I promise.  Also a few things that I’m not so keen on such as a dental check-up and trying desperately to overcome a terrible, persistent earache that I had for over two weeks in the end.  An uber course of antibiotics has hopefully seen the back of it, especially as I took the last one this morning.  Here’s hoping!

So, one of the lovely things I’ve done this week is make a ‘Prayer Journal’.  I got the idea from a lovely lady called Gina Garland who made THIS YOUTUBE video about how she made it, and also offers a free booklet of very detailed guidelines too.  There is an email address under the video where you can request the booklet, and Gina will send it to you by return as an attachment.  I got mine in less that 24 hours, impressive given the time difference [USA].

So here are rather a lot of photos of my ‘Prayer Journal’.  I’ve literally only just finished it today.  I used an ARC planner, A5 size in the poly cover.  Here is A LINK to one exactly the same price and size as mine, just a slightly different cover design.  I was going to buy an A5 binder as Gina suggests in the video, but Staples have no inserts, dividers or A5 sized anything to go in one, plenty of binders but pretty useless without the basic accessories.  As I already have all the ARC things from making my daily planner/diary it made sense just to buy the poly one.  Okay, I’ve waffled enough……photo’s…..

Prayer Journal September 2014

The cover of my new Prayer Journal

Prayer Journal September 2014 (2)

Title page

Prayer Journal September 2014 (3)

Next . . .

Prayer Journal September 2014 (4)

Prayer Journal September 2014 (6)

I made all the page dividers myself using THIS Autmn paper [more like card imo as 230gsm] collection from Hobbycraft. As it’s double sided I used a piece in reverse to make the subject tabs that you can just make out top right of each divider.

Prayer Journal September 2014 (7)

Each tab indicates what or who you are praying for.

Prayer Journal September 2014 (8)

The reverse side of the divider above.

Prayer Journal September 2014 (9)

Praying for our marriage

Prayer Journal September 2014 (10)

Praying for my children

Prayer Journal September 2014 (11)

‘Parents and Family’ ~ such pretty papers [card], friends are prayed for in the Weekly section

Prayer Journal September 2014 (12)

Reverse side of the above divider just to show you how lovely they are

Prayer Journal September 2014 (13)

Once a week prayers

Prayer Journal September 2014 (16)

I made my own little tabs/page flags for the days of the week [Mon-Fri] in the ‘Once a Week Prayers’ section using washi tape and coloured paper clips

Prayer Journal September 2014 (15)

Here are all five of them peeping out of the pages ~ I will probably decorate the blank pages themselves with washi tape, stickers etc. as I go…

Prayer Journal September 2014 (14)

…continuing on…

Prayer Journal September 2014 (19)

I decided to put a ‘Scripture Journal’ in mine

I hope you’ve enjoyed this ‘walk’ through my Prayer Journal. If anyone has any questions or if any of the links don’t work then don’t hesitate to message me. Many thanks go to the lovely Gina for sharing her idea and help booklet so freely.

Something to consider. . .

Freedom QuoteThere was a discussion on the dreaded Facebook yesterday about banning the wearing of the burka [not sure if the niqab comes under that ban as well] in the UK.  As many of you will know it has been banned in France already.  Now, I have to say at this point that I totally understand the security based reasons behind this school of thought.  However, looking at the bigger picture from a different angle, I am worried that we are picking away at our freedom of choice that we are so famous for as a nation. If we start dictating what people can wear then where will it end? 

Historically, I can remember a nurse and a British Airway’s clerk both of whom were banned from wearing a christian cross at work.  I wear my crucifix all the time, in fact I rarely take it off.  Although wearing a cross or similar is not a security issue, I can see similarities here, and feel an equal amount of injustice at both situations.  Again, removing our freedom of choice, and this is supposed to be a christian country first and foremost!!

I know that for those muslim women who choose to wear the burka for the right reasons [i.e. based in faith as an informed choice, not through fear or oppression] being told they can’t wear it in public would cause, at the very least, feelings of distress, anxiety and frustration.  They would feel they are compromising their beliefs.  Interestingly, part of the discussion produced the comment that ‘they should go to a country that shares their religious views’.  Fair point, but that could be tricky if they’re white british.  White british muslim converts are often the most devout and passionate about their faith, which has lead to some of them choosing to take the veil.  These women belong in the UK regardless of their religion, their lives and families are here.  We have a huge, and still growing, muslim convert community here in MK and I think that’s something to celebrate.

So, going back to my initial fears, how free to choose are we really?  I’m starting to wonder in this rapidly developing ‘Nanny State’.  I used to celebrate and feel lucky at being British and living here.  At times now I feel suffocated by, and disappointed at the country I live in and some of the people I have to share it with.  I am obviously aware of the terrible extremist based crimes taking place, but in my opinion they have nothing to do with real faith or religion.  God/Allah pbuh, does not sanction genocide or terrorism, so no religious label or scripture will ever make that right, no matter how hard they try to justify their crimes under that banner.

I found these quotes last night and they really made me think:~

      “Not enough people know or understand just how little freedom we have left.”  Korban Blake

      “As free as you allow others to be, such freedom you create for yourself.”  Bryant McGill

Finally, I found this in an article in The Guardian by Andrew Brown and I wonder if maybe he’s right:~

      “The burka debate is not so much about religious obligation, as about the public rejection of the surrounding society, and society’s tolerance for that.”

Chocolate Sundae quick update. . .

Here are a few photographic updates of my Chocolate Sundae blanket. I’ve not done much crochet over the summer as too busy doing ‘outside’ stuff especially with my ‘boys’ being off with me. Anyway, the sudden arrival of rather autumnal feeling evenings [chilly or what?] has inspired me to pick up my chocolately goodness and crochet my evenings away in front of the TV. It’s starting to look quite blanket-like I think and it’s certainly getting heavy already.

Chocolate Sundae Aug'14 (2)It’s lovely and warm under here.

Chocolate Sundae Aug'14 (3)

Chocolate Sundae Aug'14It’s actually starting to look like a proper blanket and it’s very heavy already.

Helpful Honey (3)Helpful Honey warming my feet.

Not So Ordinary Time. . .

Chapel at Turvey Abbey on Ordinary Time

Chapel at Turvey Abbey during Ordinary Time

Hi everyone xx.  I know it’s been a while and yes, I did ‘hide’ my blog for a few weeks while I was deciding whether to continue with it or not.  I have this inner battle every now and then, usually when I realise that I’m blogging for my readers more than I am for myself.  This leads to self-imposed pressure that I don’t enjoy.  Time to take a break when that happens.  I’ve also started a hand-written journal that I’ve kept up with faithfully for quite a while now.  It’s a lot less pressured as I’m the only audience so there’s no pressure to perform as it were.  There’s something very satisfying about putting pen to paper and just spilling your thoughts onto a crispy fresh, clean page.

However, that said, today I have something to share so was inspired to blog.  I saw this thought provoking article about Ordinary Time posted by the Nuns of Turvey Abbey on Facebook yesterday and was inspired to respond.  The article talks about OT being a period of waiting, a lull in our liturgical year and, for some, a time of restlessness between pivotal [more exciting?] points in our church calendar.  It’s a really good read, and I am always interested to see how others travel through the religious seasons. 

For those who are not certain, Ordinary Time starts after Pentecost, which was June 8th this year, and carries right through until the start of Advent.  There is also a period of OT which runs from the feast of the Epiphany in early January and ends on Ash Wednesday, being our marker for the beginning of Lent.

Personally, I love the gentle rhythm of the liturgical year. It was the one thing I missed during my denominational discernment [2006-2009], especially when venturing into the more evangelical ‘happy clappy’ churches [great singing though ;) ]. I was bereft at the lack of liturgy and ceremony. I think that’s what drew me to Catholicism in the end. I don’t ‘need’ all that ceremony and all those feast days to be catholic, but they’re a great reminder of how important my faith is because so much effort and value is placed in the Mass and all that it holds/offers.

Ordinary Time is a gift really, a time to take a breath, take stock, think about my faith without the pressure of Lent or Advent to distract me from the simplicity of my faith. Just occasionally it’s good to be your own focus and hopefully, whilst taking a good look at yourself, you might even see Jesus walking right there beside you….

photograph courtesy of Turvey Abbey

pointed-cabbageI spend a lot of my life trying to come up with new ways to cook and prepare vegetables.  We eat an awful lot of veg and very little meat.  Today I thought I’d try stir-fry cabbage with garlic and lemon.  No idea where that idea came from.

I used the following: ~

One de-stalked, very finely shredded sweetheart cabbage, ‘cos that’s what I had  growing in our garden, but your favourite cabbage will work fine I’m sure.  I don’t have a food processor so I just used a knife and cut it across the leaves to make thin shreds. 

One clove of garlic, crushed.

Good slug of extra virgin olive oil.

1 oz butter.

Juice of half a lemon or a good slug if you have the concentrated bottle variety.

Black pepper to taste.

Shake of garlic salt.

Place the oil and butter in a large wok or heavy based frying pan and heat until it starts to foam.  Add the crushed garlic but lift it straight off the heat to avoid the garlic burning [never nice] and just swirl it around for a few seconds to incorporate the flavour of the garlic into the hot oil and butter.  Place the pan back on the heat and straight in with the cabbage.  Stir immediately and keep stirring until it starts to soften.  At this point add your lemon juice, pepper and garlic salt to taste.  Serve immediately. 

I have to say this is now probably my favourite way to eat cabbage, truly delish.  I think you could also add a pinch of chilli flakes or finely sliced fresh chilli if you like a bit of heat.

It would go very nicely with fish due to the lemon.  We had it with chicken breast that I’d marinated in Thai sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, chilli flakes and black pepper.  Potato dish was crushed, roasted garlic new potatoes.  It was an absolutely lovely supper and very light and easy to eat given the heat of the day.

Apologies for no photo but it really wasn’t much to look at,  just a shredded cabbage :D .


Click on the image to view the book on Amazon.co.uk

Well, who’da thought it?  I bought the lovely book on the left there from Amazon Market Place, second-hand for a 1p plus p&p.  It’s hardback and, to all intents and purposes, was in ‘VERY GOOD’ condition.  So a real bargain for£2.81 in total.  I’ve only just discovered J. Rees Larcombe, but she’s my kind of Christian.  This is a lovely daily devotional book with thought provoking reflections.

So, today the book arrived.  I was initially quite concerned as the packaging was not up to the job, just being a grey plastic bag really, which had worn open at the corners in transit.  The corners were a little dented but hey, it cost me a penny. 

When I opened the book I was really chuffed to discover that it had been signed by the author.  Not dedicated to anyone in particular, just a general ‘With love from Jen x’ and her signature underneath.  Hmmm, this made me curious to find out, with no particular dedication, if I’d also struck on a First Edition, maybe handed out at a launch or similar.  And oh dearie me yes, after I’d done some research, I found that it is indeed a FIRST EDITION.  So, all in all rather a gem I’d say. 

It kinda makes no difference in the great scheme of things because I won’t be selling it at any great profit [if it’s even worth anymore at this point].  I shall just treasure it and relish in the fact that it’s a real find with a lovely personal touch that I wasn’t expecting. 


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