Friday, 31 January 2014

The bead story

For those of you who wanted to know, this is the story of the little crystal bead.

Once upon a time there were two bored beaders who were a little mischievous. One was called Tan and the other called Sooz.

Even though these two friends lived 450 miles apart, they found they had a similar sense of humour, which was a bit worrying for everyone else.

One day they hatched a plan, a plan they could barely talk about because they found it so hilariously funny.  

That plan was to swallow a bead and give updates on it's journey through a beader's body.

The idea was put out on a beading forum where the updates would be discussed with other members.  Step-by-step.

It was a decent sized bead  (as you can see in the photo) so it wouldn't get lost, hopefully.

Tan and Sooz planned to PRETEND to swallow the bead, only none of the fellow beaders following the story were to get to know that until much much later, some don't even know to this day.

Tan 'swallowed' hers and gave an account on how difficult it was to get down.  

Sooz went one step further and spent AGES sculpting an ice cube so that from a distance it looked like the bead.  On video she dropped the bead (ice cube) into her mouth and took big glugs of (hot) water to help it down (melt)  GONE!

Fast forward two days - Sooz bead is out, cleaned, polished, looking as good as new, and none the worse for it's journey around a plump birds intestines.

Tan's bead was still to make an appearance.

Fast forward a week and Tan is getting tummy ache, cramps, feeling sick.  

(Please remember that behind the scenes of the forum they were sniggering like naughty schoolgirls, patting themselves on the back at how well their little trick was working.)

Then the emails started, people were REALLY concerned about this stuck bead, friends were begging Tan to go and get an X-ray, of course she was making excuses as the bead wasn't really there in the first place, but the concern was growing.

Tan and Sooz let the ruse rumble on for a couple of more days, then the bead made an appearance.  Phew!  Tan described her crystal studded poop in great detail for the forum to share and all the beading friends were relieved that it was finally out.

The end.

And there you have it, if you followed that story all those years back then we humbly apologise for tricking you, we felt the time had come to confess and own up that we really are a pair of naughty scoundrels who thought it was funny to wind everyone up.  

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Parsnip & Ginger soup with toasted chilli seeds

I love parsnips, and I love soup - so what is better than parsnip soup?  Well I will tell you, parsnip soup with a bit of warming ginger, that's what!

When I spotted the parsnips were on offer for just 60p a bag, I grabbed them quick smart :)

So, to make this soup.....
You will need:
  • 4 or so parsnips
  • A stick of celery
  • Veggie stock
  • Ginger 
  • Paprika
  • Olive Oil
  • Seeds
  • Chilli flakes

(I got this huge bag of ginger for just 50p in a supermarket in Marrakesh - I bought loads  :)  )

What you do:
  • Heat up a little oil and chop up the celery into small bits.  Fry in the oil along with 2 teaspoons of ginger and a teaspoon of paprika.
  • Add a pint and a half of veggie stock along with the chopped parsnips and simmer for 20 mins or until parsnips are soft.
  • Blitz. 
How easy was that?

All this can be done in a pan, but I use my gorgeously wonderful soup maker from Cuisinart.  Pricey, but worth it in my opinion.  It is at the top of my favourite kitchen gadget list.

For the toasted seed topping, take some seeds, I used this Three Seed mix from Morrisons, but any seeds will do.

  • Heat up a little olive oil and drop in a good sprinkle of dried chilli flakes.
  • Pop in a handful of seeds and toast until a lovely dark brown colour.

  • Serve on top of the soup.


ps: The Amazon links I've scattered throughout the page are affiliated  if you click and buy I might get a few pennies.  

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Day six in the big wooden shed

Six working days that is, as it is actually two whole weeks tomorrow since I started the big tidy.

We are definitely seeing the big shiny light at the end of the tunnel now.  In one way, the next session will be the hardest as it will be sorting through bits that we have just moved about for the last fortnight.

I took a few snaps, but just had to show you this....

"Something is stuck in the hoover pipe"

"What on earth could it be?"

"Oh, it's a little glass elephant!"

I treated Mother Vera to a nice warming bowl of parsnip and ginger soup, with toasted seeds.  (recipe to follow)

Then straight back to it.  LOOK,  DESK!

All that is left to do now is to clear and sort the stuff on the table.  Then, I am ready to rock.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The "It's so fluffy" scarf

I have had a huge cone of this yarn for years now, I could never bear to throw it out but never got around to doing anything with it.   Then, just a couple of days ago I had the urge to use it - for no particular reason, I just did.

Grabbing a 2.5mm crochet hook I sat and pondered.  The hook was the right size for the yarn, but I needed a pattern.

Four times I started and pulled it out, I didn't have anything particular in my head at all, but whatever was coming off my hook just wasn't floating my boat.

Until I just started doing some granny clusters  (Trebles in groups of threes).

I got bored with that and threw in another stitch just to break it up a bit.

I always find that having breaks in a pattern seems to make it proceed quicker too - all in the mind of course, but do you find that?

So this is the finished scarf.  Simple, soft, pastel pink and FLUFFY !

It is going to be one of my first kits I think  ;)

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Crochet at The Eden Workshop

Today was my first class held at The Eden Workshop, nr Penrith in Cumbria.

The work space is on a farm in the beautiful Eden Valley, the views are breathtaking, even in the good old Cumbrian drizzly weather.

Jane  (who you see in the photo with the tray of cups) is the owner and marvellous host.

There was six lovely ladies that attended today's class for beginners crochet, and they all did brilliantly well.  Taking away Granny Squares to continue at home. 

Lunch was included - all home-made and deliciously good.   Leek & Potato soup with Cider Bread  (yeah, cider).

Followed by roast vegetable tart, new potatoes and salad.

Then Tarte Tatin, which I gobbled so quickly because it was quite simply the best pudding I have EVER eaten, that I missed taking a photo  :)  (I think cider might have been in ingredient in this too)

Actually, it was hard work going back to crocheting after all that - a quick jog around the wind swept, grass soaked fields would have been beneficial to wake up all back up!  (Like, coz THAT'S gonna happen!!)

Happy, smiley ladies all showing off their crochet.

Due to demand I will be taking another beginners crochet class on the 9th March, followed by crochet flowers on the 23rd.  You can find the details on The Eden Workshop website.

What a great day.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Decopatch Table Lamp

Finally finished one of my WIP's  (Work in progress)  A Decopatched table lamp.

I got some thick, textured Mulberry style hand-made paper, ripped it up into little one inch squares and PVA'd them onto a lampbase I found in a charity shop for just 50p  I gave it a good few coats of PVA to varnish.

It didn't come with a shade, so I bought one for 10p at another charity shop and gave that the hand-made paper treatment too, only with opposite colours this time.  You can't see it very well, but the white paper on the shade also has blobs of silver glitter on it too.

Looks better when turned off I think  :)

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Crocheted Heart Bunting - DMC Urban Glam City Review

Another ball of yarn from the lovely people at DMC for me to review.

This time is it Urban Glam City, which is a Super Chunky weight yarn in a 50% Merino 50% Hypo-Allergenic Poly-acrylic Microfibre  (blimey, that's a mouthful isn't it?)

It is available in 6 pretty soft colours in a 50g ball.

It is a lovely soft yarn, easy to work with and evenly spun.

So, what to make. One ball of super chunky goes nowhere really, so I thought I would just play with it and see what happened.

I found this lovely pattern for crochet hearts and got to work using a 6mm hook.

The ball made a total of 6 hearts.  Very rustic and chunky, I'm quite pleased with them.

Now to do something with those hearts - bunting I think.  I grabbed some ribbon and thread and some vintage covered buttons that I had in my stash - no idea where they originally came from, but they were perfect for this project.

First of all I blocked them - gave them a quick wash and smoothed them all out to dry nice and flat.  MY GOODNESS, this wool STINKS when it is wet.  A real poopy sheep smell.

I stitched the buttons into the centre of the hearts, then it was time for the ribbon.  Well, that's a story in itself - I just could NOT get them to sit right.  First I tried looping the ribbon through the centre dip in the top of the heart, but they twisted about when I tried to hang them up.  In the end I settled for threading it through the edges and down through the back of the button to secure.

I popped them across the radiator to dry, Dotty Dog kept waking up and sniffing the air - must have been wondering why she could smell wet sheep.

At this point I uploaded the photos to my blog and counted.... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... hang on a minute.  I thought there was 6?  There are certainly 6 in the top photos.  Looks like I have lost a heart somewhere along the line.  This calls for a quick craft room clear up to try and find it.

Found it :)

I am going to gift these to my sister as she has a lot of red in her living room and I think she might like it.

A few questions to myself then.
Did you like it?  A lovely super thick chunky wool, nice and soft and very rustic/natural looking.

Would you buy it?  Hmmmmmm possibly, not sure if I could cope with the smell of wet sheep though if I got caught in the rain anytime.

Any bad points? Wet sheep smell, and 50g balls just do not go anywhere.  This would be much better in a 100g ball in my opinion, otherwise you would be joining it way too often for a large project.  There was hardly any left at all after making just 6 hearts.

Disclaimer:  I was sent this yarn (and others) by DMC to review, the points I make are wholly my own and I am not required or asked to give a good review, just an honest one.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Day five in the big wooden shed

Five and a half days really as on Tuesday it took me over two hours to sort out magazines and put them into issue order, but that is all I did, so I can't really brag and say I did a days work.

I also had to flick through each one as I wanted to keep the issues that I have projects published in - still not sure I have them all, but I have a good pile  :)

If you want to see some of my projects which have been in magazines, I have a Facebook album HERE which you can peep into  :)

And these are all the ones I have sorted to sell off  :)  Back issues anyone?  I have 'Bead', 'Beads & Beyond' and a few 'Making Jewellery'.

Also, tucked in amongst the magazines I found this earring book by Bead & Button.  28 pairs of earrings to make - but it's in Spanish!   However, I am sure someone can work them out from the photos so I am going to pop it in the Birthday Blog Box.

So, today, Mother Vera came round to help again.  Another good few hours of hanging stuff on the walls and getting rid of boxes.

You may be wondering where all these boxes have come from, but we had a biggish shop and then my daughter, Shona, ran her own market stall for a while with the stock on a sale or return deal - when it came back to me it just got piled into boxes and forgotten about.

Now that's what I call progress!  Hoovered too.

I've got one corner to do now, unfortunately it contains my desk which is overflowing with stuff, so it might take a while.   Not sure when I am going to get back in now as my son, Iain, is moving house this weekend so tomorrow and Friday I am on 'packing & moving the small stuff' duty.   Then Sunday I am off to Eden Workshop in Plumpton to do a Crochet Course.

No rest for the wicked, as they say  :)

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Birthday Blog Box - content update

At the beginning of December I did an update of what is in The Birthday Blog Box, this is your final update as in less than a months time the box will be offered up as a prize draw!  Whoop  :)

So let's have a look at what is what is in the box right now.......

crocheted facecloth in 100% cotton.  So luxurious to use, but natural too  :)

Three pairs of beaded earrings - fun, fashion jewellery on plated wires.

A cutesy memory wire coil bangle, easy to wear and just the thing to brighten up any outfit.

A chunky cosy earwarmer head thing  (daughter not included) in muted shades of green.

A folksy style felt hanging heart decoration.  Suitable for all year round. not just for Christmas  :)

A bar of handmade soap.

A cutesy crocheted Owl as mentioned on THIS blog post.

A Bead & Wire bracelet kit.

A hand-made fused glass pendant, made by me :)

9 tubs of different colour glass beads in various sizes.

A set of tutorials for beginners Beadweaving.  Colour, step-by-step print outs so you can learn all these stitches and clasps too!

Oooo, it's like the Generation Game isn't it?  Perhaps I should get you all to recite what is in it to win in  ;)

There are still a few days left for things to be popped into the box, so, watch this space.... as they say  :)

On the 19th February I will open a draw and whatever is in the box will go to one lucky (randomly chosen) winner  :)