Monday, December 1, 2014

Stitching away

Remember those three projects I'm determined to finish by Christmas? Progress is being made folks.

Last years annual Christmas ornament! The stitching is now done and it just needs a wash and making up. My wall hanging is now finished and hanging on the wall, I just need a day with decent light to take some photos for you all. And this years Christmas ornament is a progressing WIP.

Yay for achievable goals! Unfortunately it's been a busy and sad few weeks for us. There have been two bereavements in the family, and some upheaval at work to keep my on my toes. I'm enjoying finding refuge in my Christmas crafting.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014



I'm lucky enough that my work's London office overlooks the Tower of London. What a lovely day to be able to visit the poppy installation. Humbling and beautiful.

We will remember them.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Late night crafting

Bad-light photos of late night crafting. One completed scrappy Christmas quilt back for my wall-hanging! Now just to baste. . and quilt. . .and make hanging corners. . .and make binding . . . and bind!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Getting things finished. . . .

It's amazing how craft goes out the window for me when life gets busy. It's always the first ball I drop, which is a shame, because it's certainly good stress relief! (something to work on). And although this year has been a genuinely GREAT one, it has been a busy and stressful one, full of uncertainty. There's been little craft.

BUT there are three projects I am determined to finish by Christmas. Achievable projects. I'm going to finish the 'Tis The Season' wall hanging I've been working on all year. I'm going to finish last years' annual Christmas ornament, which has also been in progress all year. And I'm going to start and finish this years' Christmas ornament. Three projects, three months. Here's hoping. . . 

First on the list is wall hanging. I'm getting there folks! Stitcheries are finished, blocks are sewn. Time for laying out and putting it all together.

(I love these blocks. And yes, the directional red print is not directional. Do I care? Not one bit.)


Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Cookbook Challenge: Bake

The Cookbook Challenge continues! Bake, by Allyson Gofton is my go-to baking book. It is full of basics, and kiwi classics, with contemporary spins. It's presented beautifully and contains recipes I go back to again again and again, like my favourite recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies.

For the Cookbook Challenge, I tried out the basic Flapjack recipe. Actually, I tried out the basic flapjack recipe because I felt like baking the day before grocery day and its one of those recipes that can be made just with pantry staples (though I threw in some sultanas just to spice it up a bit)

I'm declaring this one a definite success. It involved less than 10 minutes prep time, and turned out gloriously. Tasty, without having that overly greasy, buttery feel that flapjack sometimes can. And the husband ate three pieces in less than 10 minutes when it came out of the oven. I'll be doing this recipe again, and trying some of the suggested variations on it too.

For those who want to try this themselves, many of the recipes from Allyson Gofton's older cookbooks are available from her website, including this one! (though it doesn't have the variations on it included in the cookbook)

Until next time,


Monday, September 8, 2014

Currently Monday #11

The view out over Loch Ness. . . no monster to be seen though

I haven't disappeared again! I've just been enjoying some time off from life in general while my parents were in the country. For the last 10 days we've been eating to much, drinking to much and seeing as much of Scotland as possible. They've now headed off for the next stage of their trip (to the States to visit other relatives) and I'm being faced with the new reality of for the first time in my life not knowing when I'm going to see my family again. The pitfalls of being a Kiwi girl in the UK. . .

Time and Place // 9.37pm, tucked up in bed!
Eating and Drinking //
A mug of tea, just because.

Reading //
Just started Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey, by the Countess of Carnavon. Just finished The Girl that Saved the King of Sweden, by Jonas Jonasson

Watching // I'm planning on using this week (I'm home alone) to catch up on Emma Approved, which I never got back to after the last hiatus

Listening // After overhearing one of their songs in a shop last week, I've spent the last few evenings listening to Lady Antebellum. Love!

Making //
So, remember how I said that I loved doing my last project and would do the same pattern again? I'm putting my money where my mouth is, because the original GOT LOST IN THE POST. The Royal Mail has never failed me before, what a time to start!

Hating // Having to plow through the emails that had built up in my work inbox over the last week!

Loving // Having a cat to keep me company when I'm 'home alone'

Anticipating // The dear husband returning from a business trip on Thursday. I get him home for one night before he's off again!



Monday, August 25, 2014

Currently Monday #10

Evidence that crafty-ness has been happening!

Time and Place // 5.02pm
Eating and Drinking // Tea, and Lemsip

Reading //
Just finished Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine who Launched Modern China, by Jung Chang

Watching // The Great British Bake Off! Who isn't?!

Listening // The Piano Guys, AKA one of the best cold cures known (there's something about their music I just find soothing when I'm sick)

Making // I
actually picked up the long standing quilt-in-progress this week and made a few steps forward. 

Hating // Having an awful cold when I really don't want one :-(

Loving // Having a clean and tidy house with a ball of kitten curled up on my lap

Anticipating // My mum and dad arriving this week!!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A real actual finish

For the first time in what feels like a very long time I have a proper finish to share. Recently some friends of ours announced their engagement. They're a couple that work really well together, so we're really excited for them. The perfect excuse for a stitched engagement card! (plus I love doing special occasion stitches in general!).

The design is from Joan Elliott's 'Cross Stitch Greeting Cards' book and is called 'Celtic Wedding.' I thought this was particularly appropriate as the happy couple got engaged on holiday in Scotland!

It's stitched on 28 count linen (I forget the colour, it was just a small scrap from my stash) with the recommended DMC threads and Mill Hill beads. It's such a pretty design (I'm not sure these photos do it justice) and worked up so quickly - I feel like I'll be keeping it in mind for use again!! 

It feels so nice to have actually started and finished a crafty project for the first time in months. Hopefully it will give me inspiration to pick up my other works in progress again. . .  


Monday, August 11, 2014

Currently Monday #9

Last week I went to the book launch of this lovely debut novel. Love signed copies!

And once again I'm hopefully climbing back onto the blogging bandwagon. If I'm managing one of these posts I must be clinging on!

Time and Place // 10.22pm, just about to go to bed!
Eating and Drinking // Stewed fruit for desert with a cup of tea

Reading //
Roomies, by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Watching // The husband and I finally caved and got Netflix. This evening we watched a couple of episodes of Numbers with dinner.

Listening // The soundtrack from Wicked!, which I went to see with colleagues last week. I already knew a lot of the music, but seeing the musical properly was just so incredible!

Making // I had a real life finish this week! A small piece, but it's one of my first project finishes this year. Now trying to decide which half finished project to pick up next.

Hating // The niggly pain of wisdom teeth coming through. . . And that the 'T' button has decided to randomly stop working on my keyboard.

Loving // That the weather has cooled down a little! I'm one of those weird ones that doesn't like the heat, but doesn't like cold either. Give me ambient temperatures any day!

Anticipating // A visit to my parent-in-law this weekend. So long as the travel doesn't go like last time! (the husband getting stuck in traffic with no phone signal, which meant I was stuck at an uncovered train station in the rain in a town I had never set foot in before for over an hour with no idea what was going on).


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Cookbook Challenge: The Hairy Biker's Great Curries

During my unexpected disappearance from the blogging world I did actually make some in-roads on my Cookbook Challenge and made use of a couple of cookbooks I hadn't in a while. But I didn't take pictures. So in the spirit of documenting the challenge in its entirety (and recognising that a few extra cookbook uses won't hurt me or those that eat my cooking), they won't count.

But I'm back today with one that does! I received the Hairy Biker's Great Curries from dear husband for Christmas, and spent many hours lovingly looking through it, while using it precisely zero times. It's a beautiful book to flick through. Lots of full colour/page photos of great looking curries, and the Hairy Bikers have a lovely way of describing food.

I tried my hand at the Chicken Balti. This is my first attempt ever at cooking curry completely from scratch. How'd it go? Fairly well! It got a big two thumbs up from the husband and a one and a half thumbs up from me (I think those of you who cook regularly will know the feeling of knowing the many things you could improve next time when you try a new recipe). I love meals that use lots of fresh vegetables without feeling like you're just 'eating soggy vegetables' and it definately succeeded on that count.

The husband was very keen to add this one to my normal rotation. I'm not so sure, because even though it was a success the prep time was far longer than I find ideal. I'll be trying it again to see if I can streamline though, and trying a few more recipes from this book for sure! 


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Visiting Chatsworth

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of history. And that I'm a big fan of costume drama. So it's no surprise that when the lovely husband made me make a bucket list of things I'd like to see when we moved to the UK that Chatsworth was pretty high up on the list. The history of this stately home goes back to 1549 and it's been used as a set for many famous costume dramas (including multiple versions of Pride and Prejudice).

My sister-in-law has been staying with us this week and Chatsworth seemed the perfect destination for a mid-week day trip (it was so lovely to have a last-minute day off work in the middle of the week too!). Here's some photos from our trip. We've been having such lovely weather in the UK lately!

Gorgeous hand-painted wallpaper

Don't you just love the sign they have to put on Mr Darcy!

Beautiful wildflowers

Who wouldn't want a bath in their cupboard?

Hope those of you in the Northern Hemisphere are all enjoying this glorious summer! 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hey, remember me!

Look, it's a post! I finally feel like I'm starting to get my everyday groove back. I finished my final assignment for my post-grad diploma about a month ago, and recently got my final grade and applied to graduate. I've done enough to graduate with an A+ average, which I am so pleased about. 

It's taken a while to settle into a not-studying routine, but I'm loving it. I've been reading more, cooking proper meals more, exercising more. . .  and slowly, slowly, my mind is starting to turn back to craft. This week I pulled out a long waiting quilt in progress and sewed a couple of lines. Some friends have just announced their engagement, so I've been looking at card designs. I've been feeling the urge to pick up the crochet hooks too. Time to get back to it!

I have been fitting some embroidery in occasionally when the headspace allows. I've finished 6 of the blocks for The Birdhouse Christmas wall hanging. They aren't perfect, but I'm improving as I go and enjoying the process. I'll show them off over the next few posts, but for now here's some cute birdies to go with the heart block from my last post.

Hope to speak to you again soon friends!


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mental Blogging

I''m here! Promise! *waves*. I know I've been totally lax on the blog lately (you can still find me on my book blog, but that's only because writing down what I thought about what I read is a six year old habit, so I may as well post it). Turns out it takes a while to get into the new-job-first-time-commuter thing. Especially when it coincides with the final part of your post-grad diploma. I feel like I'm starting to push into a routine now, but it's taken a lot longer than I expected. Which meant I either haven't have time or have been to tired to craft. And no craft = no blog posts.

The carrot cake I did manage to find time to bake for hubby's birthday!

It's weird though, because I feel like I'm still mentally blogging. The small things I have found time to do, like experimenting from my cookbooks and a couple more panels on my Christmas stitchery - I have the blog posts all written in my head!! Just need to find some time to actually write things down (and take pictures). 

Hopefully normal service will resume soon. My final post-grad assignment is due in just under two weeks. I think the clouds will lift then and I'll be able to manage the juggling balls of life a bit better!

All my love friends - I'm loving reading all your post whenever I get a free moment in the meantime.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Back to work + Stitchery

I'm going back into full time work tomorrow. The last two weeks have been a blur of study, paperwork, taking delivery of furniture while there was still someone at home during the day and work-wardrobe shopping. There hasn't been much time for craft! (or anything, I feel like I should apologise for my husband for the drastic reduction in meal quality over the past fortnight). 

I'm looking forward to going back to work really. I'm looking forward to having some routine in our lives again after 6 months of ippity-uppity. I genuinely enjoy working and being part of a team, so am looking forward to that. And I'm looking forward to the new challenges this job will bring! 

There is a part of me that is kind of sad this chapter is over. Moving country was a big step and has bought us new challenges and new places to explore - its been refreshing for me and 6 months in I feel like it was the right move. But going back to work means the 'exciting' part of actually moving is over and I hope that going into real life won't bring me back down to the ground with a bump. 

I've been trying another new thing this week when I can grab a moment - hand stitchery. This is a pattern by The Birdhouse that will eventually be a twelve panel wall hanging. I'm enjoying the process, the portability and the rush of trying something new - I think this first block turned out fairly well. There was more fabric distortion than I was expecting (though it mostly came out with ironing) and I'm not 100% happy with the satin stitched berries (though more happy once I'd outlined them, following a tip from sublime stitching). But for a first attempt I'm really more than a little pleased. Let's hope the new job turns out the same way ;-D

So on the whole, yay for new things! Whether they be big or small.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Cookbook Challenge: Country Calendar Cookbook

Still trying to make my way through my cookbooks, one at a time! The challenge has been going really well so far I think. I haven't felt pressured, but at the same time have been looking at my cookbooks more when I feel like baking/cooking. Yay! This week it's 'The Country Calendar Cookbook,' by Alyson Gofton, which I have used precisely zero times since buying it a year ago. Which is sad, because Alyson Gofton is one of my favourite cookbook writers and it's a lovely book to flick through - filled with stories and recipes from the long running New Zealand TV show Country Calendar. For the non-Kiwi's among you, it's a half hour program that each week examines a different farm or rural person in a conversational, documentary style.  

The recipes are handily divided up by season, which was great because I was looking for a 'spring' recipe. I ended up trying out the 'Spring Chickpea Pasta Salad,' which I happened to have all the ingredients on hand for at the time and went well with a steak and green salad on a sunny evening. 

I was really pleased with how it turned out, but then again I love chickpeas, so I probably always was. Its definitely a recipe I'd use again, though unfortunately the leftovers from this one ended up languishing in the fridge because I was to sick to eat them!! Next time. . . 


Monday, April 14, 2014

Currently Monday #8

Kitten feeling very sorry for herself in her 'cone of shame'

So I fell off the blogging bandwagon for a bit there. It's been a couple of weeks of major highs and major lows for me. Last Sunday with no warning or reason I got incredibly, horribly sick. Somehow (don't ask me how because I really don't know) I managed to drag myself out of bed on Monday to go to a second job interview. Got through the interview and got home to continue being horribly sick, from which I'm only just starting to recover. Miraculously, I got a call on Wednesday to say that I got the job!! God works in strange and mysterious ways. So I'm recovering from severe dehydration caused by being horribly sick for a week, and gearing up to start a new and exciting job in two weeks time. 

Time and Place // 11.47 a.m, in bed (I am up, not being lazy, it's just cold and bed is warm and snuggly for writing essays from)

Eating and Drinking // Toast and peanut butter. Thinking I need to make some chamomile tea.

Reading // Just finished The Enormous Room, by E.E. Cummings.
About to start The Geography of You and Me, by Jennifer E. Smith

Watching // Last night I watched Frozen for the first time. Sooooooo good!!

Listening // Various versions of 'Let it Go' from Frozen, because I feel like I have to catch up on all the covers now!

Making // What with being sick my making-stuff mojo has gone completely out the window this last week. The most I managed was moving a bag of supplies for an upcoming project to the ironing board so I could iron the fabric!! (which I haven't done, I just moved the bag).

Blogging // Since I was last here I've done some one-line reviews of YA fantasy, not-talked about the most influential books in my life, reviewed New Life Stories by David Attenborough and started some spring chicks

Hating // How fast the grass grows in spring. The lawn always looks so untidy!

Loving // Cuddles with the cat when I'm not feeling well

Anticipating // The bed for our spare room that we just ordered arriving. It will be so nice to be able to have guests and not having to ask them to bring something to sleep on!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Chicks

My bunny finish got me in the mood for some more spring-themed stitching! I browsed through patterns saved on my computer until I stopped at three chicks, which I think from memory was originally a freebie from Coats Craft (but don't quote me on that). It's a fairly simple pattern, so I just pulled some colours from stash and got started . . . 

I'm not sure yet whether I'll do all three chicks. Maybe just one or two. In any case I hope I can get them finished and made into an ornament for our stairwell by Easter.  


Monday, March 31, 2014

Currently Monday #7

Study area in the gorgeous new Library of Birmingham, which I got to visit this week

Time and Place // 2.17pm. On my bed (what a surprise)

Eating and Drinking // Just had lunch! I'm a grazer, so to keep up my own interest in eating lunch at all I tend to have an assortment of stuff rather than just one thing. Today it was 3 cherry tomatoes, a stick of celery, some cheese, a clementine and a couple of oat cakes.

Reading // Once again you've caught me between books. I'm debating whether to start Railsea, by China Mieville or The Enormous Room, by E.E. Cummings. Anyone want to weigh in with a vote?

Watching // The final of The Musketeers was last night :-( At least it's already been commissioned for a second series!

Listening // Our cat chirping away to herself . . . we're discovering that she's quite the talker!

Making // This week I started and finished a quick stitch, which I can't show on the blog quite yet because the person it's for has been known to check the blog occassionally. I also started another spring design, which I'll hopefully have finished in time for Easter!

Blogging // Here I rounded up my haul from the NEC Hobbycraft show and made my first recipe for The Cookbook Challenge. On my book blog I made a bookish bucket list, reviewed The Crimson Ribbon and asked how you deal with long books.

Hating // When my distance university's website goes down when I'm trying to study!!

Loving // The increasingly sunny days! It's nice not to need a coat quite as often and (strange as it may seem) do jobs like washing windows in my own time rather than in any hectic break in the weather

Anticipating // Going to Miranda on tour this weekend. We booked our tickets months ago, so it's nice that it has finally rolled around.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Cookbook Challenge: Edmonds Cookery Book

Last week, as promised, I got onto using my cookbooks for the Cookbook Challenge. We had multiple guests over the weekend, so I was filling the baking tins anyway. After lots of browsing, I chose a recipe I hadn't tried before from the Edmonds Cookery Book.

The Edmonds Cookery Book is a New Zealand classic. Like most Kiwi's, I grew up watching mum use it, did some of my first cooking from it and was duly presented with my own copy when leaving for uni. It covers everything, from sauces to baking to party food to meat & fish. It's one of the few cookbooks I own that I use all the time - it's my go-to for classics like mustard sauce and banana loaf. Fool-proof, classic cooking. 

The recipe I tried was for Peanut Brownies . . .

I struggled with getting the oven temperature right, which meant some turned out a little crispy! But the recipe was extremely easy and the biscuits (even with the crispy) turned out very morish - hard to eat just one. I suspect its a recipe I'll use again, hopefully perfecting the oven temp - like so many recipes in the Edmonds it's simple to put together and yummy. All the makings of another go-to recipe. 

One down. . . on to the next cookbook on the shelf! 


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NEC Hobbycraft Haul!

On Sunday I got to spend a few hours at the NEC Birmingham Hobbycraft/Sewing for Pleasure show. I knew of it, but hadn't really been thinking of going (we already had a really busy weekend planned) until I won free tickets from a Cross Stitch Collection magazine draw on Facebook. Needless to say, I wasn't going to let free tickets go to waste!!! 

It was a really enjoyable and new experience for me. I'd been to a similar themed show in NZ once, the biggest in Australasia - the NEC show would have been over 10 times the size!! It was great fun to be surrounded by so many like-minded people and take in all the shops etc. I didn't find the Hobbycraft portion of the show that good, it was predominantly paper-crafting, but it was definitely worth attending for the Sewing for Pleasure side. There were lots of lovely fabric stalls, embroidery stalls and free workshops. I had prepared a list of things I was on the look out for and stuck to it (for the most part), but bought home a little haul of new stash. 

  1.  A fat quarter of fabric for an Easter project I have planned
  2. Some bicycle ribbon trim which I just couldn't resist
  3. A skein of DMC metallics for another upcoming project
  4. The 'Tis the Season' stitchery project book, from The Birdhouse. I'd been promised this as a birthday present, but hadn't gotten around to ordering it online, so saved myself some postage!
  5. Some perle thread for getting started on the stitcheries
  6. Two small Lizzie Kate patterns, Snowman '10 (which I've been wanting to stitch for literally years) and one of the 6 fat men series, which I'm collecting slowly so I can do all 6 together. Like the ribbon, these weren't on the list, but they were such a good price that I couldn't leave them there. 
I also did one small workshop and tried Decoupage for the first time. I would have loved to have done more of the workshops, as there were some lovely ones there, but we'd had a really hectic weekend and I just didn't have the energy. Next time I'll hopefully be better prepared and know what to expect!
I covered this little star. It will make quite a sweet Christmas ornament once I've put some string on it! I certainly wasn't the best on the table and I don't think I'll be taking Decoupage up often, but it was great fun to have a go!

The show was a lovely new experience, I'll be looking forward to the next one.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Currently Monday #6

I'm enjoying being a new cat-mum!

Time and Place // 1.28 pm, on the couch for once!!

Eating and Drinking // Crackers + Pepperoni + much much tea

Reading // I'm between books! (not counting audio). Just finished Siege and Storm, by Leigh Bardugo. Haven't decided what to pick up next - I had an ultra good library trip on Saturday, so much to choose from.

Watching // Trying to catch up on everything we've missed from the past week, which has been extremely busy

Listening // Audiobook! A new one this week, David Attenborough's New Life Stories. Whoever decided that letting David Attenborough talk for five minutes at a time about whatever he felt like was a good idea was a genius.

Making // I filled the tins this week with chocolate peanut biscuits and ginger tart. A little bit of stitching going on, and lots of project planning for the next month or two.

Blogging // Here I blogged about the spring/Easter ornament I made up this week. On my book blog I reviewed the wonderful The End of Your Life Book Club (one of my top reads of the year thus far) and did a Thoughts on the Classics post for Jane Eyre. I gave the book blog layout a redesign this week and am enjoying its fresh look!

Hating // When I accidentally go waaaayyy over an essay wordcount and struggle to bring it down!

Loving // Having a new member of the family! We got to bring Tilly home from the RSPCA this weekend. She's a 20 month old black short haired and apart from the usual settling in problems has been a delight. There was never a period of my childhood where we didn't have a cat, so its nice to have the first one of my adult life.

Anticipating // A job interview this week for a good position, and a (hopefully) quiet weekend!


Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Stitching

A week or two ago I had one of those weeks where I just needed something simple to do, calm the mind! Stitching is very therapeutic, but my brain didn't feel like it could cope with colour changes, half stitching or anything more complex than a few crosses really! So I went in search of a simple, one colour pattern I could spend an hour or two on. I chose a cute Easter bunny pattern from Alexandrina at Matrioshka Biscornu and spent a couple of hours happily stitching away on a scrap of some misc. fabric (don't ask me what count because I have no idea. I found it wrapped up inside some heat-proof interfacing while we were moving).

This week I finished it into a cute hanging ornament to celebrate Spring.

I think it turned out beautifully and was a joy to stitch and make up. It was just what my tired brain needed in fact! It's nice to have a spring decoration in the house too. . . . it has even inspired me to go on a hunt for some more simple spring themed patterns, so maybe watch this space.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Currently Monday #5

Spring daffodils brightening up our landing

Time and Place // 2.41pm, same place as always!

Eating and Drinking // Leftover potato bake. I forgot to have breakfast. And lunch (I was working on an essay), so this is breaklunchafternoontea

Reading // Just started The Crimson Ribbon, by Katherine Clements.

Watching // Nothing? All our favourite evening shows seem to be coming to the end of their seasons.

Listening // Audiobook! Which I forgot to mention above. Really enjoying The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe

Making // With husband away for the weekend I did a heap of sewing and finished one set of blocks (out of two) for my current quilt-in-progress

Blogging // Here I showed off my new cross stitch start, and introduced a new personal challenge. Over on my book blog I talked about the joy of having bookcases in the house again, reviewed Terms & Conditions and Robin: Lady of Legend

Hating // The person who stole our organics bin. Why??? What do you need a green wheelie bin half full of grass clippings for????

Loving // Husband being back from France. And the wine, cheese and sausage he bought back with him :-) Not to mention the extra kitchen equipment (he went to France to pick up some things we had left with friends there two years ago)

Anticipating //The Sewing for Pleasure/Hobbycraft show this weekend at the NEC Birmingham! I entered a Cross Stitch Collection Magazine draw for tickets weeks ago, but didn't realise I'd won until they showed up in the post.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A rather late new start

I made a new cross stitch start this week, yay! I've been waiting to start this one for about a month, but wanted to finish Tuscany first.

What is it? It's the husband and I's third annual Christmas ornament (I would link to the previous ones but I can't find them on the blog. How about I show them to you when I finish this one). I'm only starting it three months after Christmas!!! I had the best of intentions, but with our across the world move I only got as far as picking the pattern before Christmas and didn't even order the kit until mid-January. Better late than never I suppose??

I try to pick an ornament to represent our lives at that time, so this one is vaguely travel related (very vaguely) and features a sentiment that we had to keep close in mind at the time!

I'm not going to reveal what the pattern is just yet, but I'll give you a clue. It's a Dimensions kit and is already driving me up the wall, as it features cross stitch in 1, 2 or 3 strands, half cross stitch in 1, 2 or 3 strands, a TON of backstitch and lots of stitches using strands from multiple colours. I think it's one of the hardest to read patterns I've ever come across.

The other half is away for the weekend, so I'm planning lots of stitching to keep myself occupied!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Intoducing the Cookbook Challenge

As it turns out, a fairly large part of my crafty life is baking. And cooking in general to be honest is starting to creep up there too. And I love books. Which means. .  . I love cookbooks. I love owning them, paging through them, covering them with post-it notes.

I'm just guilty of one little thing . . . not actually using them. I have a massive stack of gorgeous cookbooks and my go-to for new recipe ideas is still the internet. There's a couple I use regularly, but even then it's only particular recipes and great chunks of the book go completely unloved.

So I'm challenging myself to expand my kitchen horizons and give my cookbooks some more love. Of course, I need some way to keep myself on track, so I'll be sharing my attempts and thoughts here on the blog.

 The Rules (self imposed)

1. I have to try out at least one recipe from every cookbook I own and document it here on the blog. If it's a cookbook I already use regularly, I have to try a recipe I haven't used before. 
2. There's no official time limit and I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't manage it, but I'm going to be aiming for one recipe a week. 
3. Any new cookbooks that come into the house while the challenge is ongoing must be added to the official list. 
4. I can put off using cookbooks I don't have the equipment for ie: since moving to the UK we haven't bought a microwave or a slow cooker yet. 

Fairly straightforward I think. So without further ado, here's my master list of cookbooks. I'll be adding this list to it's own tab on my header and hopefully linking up my progress as we go. Cookbooks that I use regularly already and have to try something new from are marked with a *

The Classic 1000 Cake and Bake recipes, by Wendy Hobson
1 Mix, 50 Cakes
1 Mix, 50 Cookies
Three & Four Ingredient Cookbook, by Jenny White & Joanna Farrow
Joan Bishop's New Zealand Crockpot & Slow Cooker Cookbook*
Slow Cooking, by Katie Bishop
Macaron, by Alison Thompson
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hetzberg
Microwave Bottling, by Isabel Webb
Bake, by Allyson Gofton*
A Year's Worth: Recipes from the Dunsandel Store, by Sam Mannering
Country Calendar Cookbook, by Allyson Gofton
Good Food Made Simple, by Allyson Gofton
The Hairy Biker's Great Curries, by Si King & Dave Myers
Complete Comfort Food, by Bridget Jones
Edmonds Cookery Book* (not pictured)

Wish me luck! Are you like me and an avid cookbook collector and not user? Or do yours get lots of use? 


Monday, March 10, 2014

Currently Monday #4

Who doesn't love a pristine hard copy?

Time and Place // 3.39pm. Sitting on my bed, as always! (I should say that I'm not lazy and stay in bed all day, my laptop just lives beside the bed - so blogging = bed)

Eating and Drinking // A digestive biscuit and a cup of tea. Afternoon tea time!

Reading // I just finished Cress, the newly released third book in the BRILLIANT Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. Seriously, if you haven't heard of these you should look them up. A retelling of classic fairytales set far in the future - the first in the series is Cinder, which retells Cinderella. Just started Terms & Conditions, by Robert Glancy (courtesy of Bloomsbury/Goodreads First Reads).

Watching // Hubby and I started watching The Musketeers when it started, as we both have a liking of the source material. I'm finding it's getting better and better as the series goes on. Have any of my fellow UK bloggers been watching it?

Listening // I've just discovered KatyB, who I'd literally never heard of before I moved to the UK. Funny how some music travels more than others!

Making // It was a slow week for me, for a variety of reasons. Hardly any making at all! I finished a quick stitch which I'll show you soon.

Blogging // Not much on either blogs this week! I showed off a quick needlebook finish.

Hating // Contractors across the street who think it's a great idea to use a tile cutter at 7.30 in the morning.

Loving // Domestic bliss. Hubby and I are feeling more settled in our home now and it's surprisingly nice to spend a sunny Sunday doing things like mowing the lawns and vacuuming out the car.

Anticipating // Grocery shopping this evening. I'm one of those weird people that genuinely enjoys grocery shopping.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A needlebook and the feeling of improvement

Last week was my sister-in-law's birthday, so we headed down to Wales to celebrate with her. She'd already had a joint birthday/christmas present from us, but I thought I'd make her something small as an extra surprise.

I have a folder of completed cross stitch that just hasn't found the right home yet, so I raided that and my fabric stash to put together a needle book.

What struck me while I was making it was just how much me sewing has improved since I made my own needle book, way back in 2011. I love my needle book, but it's lumpy and uneven looking, I had to follow a tutorial very closely and wasn't at all confident with the steps.

Although my sewing is by no means perfect, I can see and feel the improvement from two years ago. My knowledge of item construction is good enough now that I didn't follow any tutorial. My machine sewing is more even and my hand sewing is almost invisible (I asked husband to try and find the turning hole and he couldn't). I feel confident with the processes and with my own ability. My reaction to a mistake is slowly becoming 'I can fix this,' rather than '$**#@% stupid sewing machine, now what do I do!'

I know I still have much to learn (I've been watching the latest series of The Great British Sewing Bee and have been wowed by the creativity and brilliant sewing, while simultaneously being confused as to how one can be such an accomplished sewist and not know what piping is). . . . . but it's nice to have the added confidence from small accomplishments. And it's quite fun looking at the early days of this blog and seeing how far I've come (my photography also seems to have improved, which I'm grateful for).

Have any of you had a moment when you suddenly realise how much you've improved?