Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Easter makes and bakes

So Easter is over for another year and it threw every kind of weather it could at us: thunder, lightning, wind, rain, hail and sunshine.

For most of it, we stayed inside and did some reading and crafting, only venturing out for new supplies. The pom pom tree is a new make. I did try gluing the balls onto the polystyrene cone but they fell off and rolled in all directions. What worked in the end was threading them into different sized rounds and simply dropping them over the cone.

Chickpea and her boyfriend made biscuits. He's never made them at home so she's introducing him to the joys of baking. Last time they made a cake just so he could experience licking the spoon.

On Sunday while the thunder and lightning raged, Chickpea and I made a start on some decopatch. The dragon and unicorn are hers and the bird is mine.

Just the legs to finish now.

I also started my bird embroidery from the Feb/March issue of Stitch magazine. Tracing round the pattern, listening to my favourite Bon Jovi song, 'Dry County' on Planet Rock, whilst sipping fragrant Lullaby Dreamcatcher tea. Pure bliss.

And, of course, there was kirigami.

We didn't stay inside all weekend though. On Good Friday we ventured to Dunham Massey. It seemed like everyone else did too so our journey took three times as long as usual. However, it's a big place so there were always quiet corners to be found. More photos coming soon.

Finally, there was excitement in the garden as I spotted our first ever willow warbler! After watching it for ages, it of course flew off as soon as I went to fetch the camera so here's one from last summer.

The best thing about this Easter? That it's not really over as I still have this week and next at home. Yippee! I have a whole list of things to do and see. Don't you just love holidays? :-)

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Through the woods

Glorious sunny days two weekends running! What is the British weather coming to? It was too good to miss so we headed out for a walk through the woods. One of my favourite parts of these woods is the sunlight dancing on the brook as it babbles along.

Not much to see yet in the way of plant growth but I was thrilled to find a small patch of scarlet elf cup fungus.

There were lots of lesser celandine too. I'm so looking forward to the return of all the other woodland flowers.

The birds were in full song and fluttering about. We saw lots of nuthatch taking advantage of the seed stations and could hear their distinctive call all through our walk - if you click on the link, you can listen to an audio clip.

Also lots of great tits, coal tits, blue tits and robins. All of them are very common in this area.

Oh, and one not so common but very happy crocodile!

In other news, I thought I'd share the progress of my ripple blanket. It's one of those projects just to pick up now and again so that I always have some crochet to do, so it's slow and steady.  I've completed one row of each of my colours and have just started the repeats.


Of course, there's also the weekly kirigami update. Inevitably there was a St Patrick's themed design but my favourite was the one at top left.

Only four working days to Easter but also to having a couple of weeks leave. I can't wait! I have a feeling these four days will drag - fingers crossed they don't! x

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Spring at last?

Today it really felt like spring has finally arrived. The temperature gauge in my car this afternoon said it was a balmy 15 degrees! I know better than to trust the fickle British weather but it was nice to enjoy it while it lasts.

I sat outside to eat my breakfast. With my eyes closed, my face turned up towards the sun and the seagulls calling overhead, it could have been mid-summer by the sea*. How my spirits soared! It really is miraculous how much happier and more energised the sun makes you feel.

* we're actually about 30-40 miles from the sea as a seagull flies but they're attracted here by the local lake.

I'm hoping the energy from the sun persuades the purple-sprouting broccoli to put in an appearance. The plants were decimated by caterpillars but it turns out they're pretty resilient. I left them in the ground over the winter and they've started to grow. No sign of edible shoots yet but you never know.

The sun has definitely energised the birds as they were chirping their hearts out and getting frisky. This male sparrow seems to have claimed the nest box on my neighbour's wall and was doing his best to entice the ladies. (Sorry for the rubbish picture but it was right at the edge of my zoom)

In my garden, the magpies are gathering nesting material. They could make life easy for themselves and scoop up any number of twigs littering the ground but, no, they're trying to pull fresh ones directly off the tree.

Overhead, four Canada geese were floating down to land and the vibration of the air through their feathers made it sound like they were on a zip wire.

I was also observing birds in the latest issue of Stitch magazine. I actually bought it for another pattern but this one caught my eye too and there are more gorgeous designs inside. They're by Chloe Redfern and there are other bird patterns on her website.

This weekend we've also been enjoying films. Last night we watched Lady in the Van and really enjoyed it, though anything with Maggie Smith is a pretty sure thing. She was brilliant at playing the eccentric Miss Shepherd.

Today we went to see Allegiant, the latest in the Divergent series. It had been universally panned in the reviews (probably written by people who aren't the target audience) but we thought it was great. Not as good as the previous two films though.

I've also been cooking and made some fava to go with lamb chops. It was one of our favourite recipes during my cookery challenge and was just as tasty this time. I loved the pattern the reflection of the peas made in my metal dish.

And, of course, I've been continuing with the kirigami. I think the flowers and leaves design was my favourite. This week also saw the introduction of the weaving technique, which you can see in the bottom two designs.

I wonder what next week will bring? x

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Kirigami #6 & other tales

The start of another month and the continuing of the kirigami. I enjoyed this week's patterns partly because it was mostly scissor work. My favourite was the curly one in the middle.

More news at the end.


As well as the kirigami, I've just finished my latest jigsaw puzzle. I've had this on my wishlist for ages and finally decided to treat myself. Love all the hot air balloons.

Today was not only Mother's Day but also my brother's birthday! After visiting to give presents and good wishes, I went for a quick walk in the woods. It's hard to believe it will be a sea of green in a couple of months.

May 2015

6 March 2016

May 2015

6 March 2016
May 2015
I was excited to see the beginnings of the wild garlic though. The pesto I make with it is one of the highlights of my year :-)

Happy Mother's Day to all you mums out there. And enjoy what remains of the weekend to all. x

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Year in books: March 2016

Time for an update on my progress with reading at least one book per month during 2016 as part of The Year in Books, organised by Laura at Circle of PinesI'm really enjoying the challenge so far and it's surprising how quickly I've got back into the reading habit.

In February, I chose The trouble with goats and sheep by Joanna Cannon which had been suggested as the monthly read. Usually participants read different books but this was a one-off and there'll be a Twitter discussion on Monday 14 March, including the author. I don't do Twitter so am just posting my review here.

The book is set in the long, hot summer of 1976 in the suburban Avenue. Mrs Creasy has gone missing and the residents are buzzing with rumours and accusations. Most of the story centres around two 10 year-old girls, Grace and Tilly, who decide to investigate.

The blurb on the cover calls it 'gripping' which suggests a fast-paced thriller, but that impression couldn't be more wrong. Instead, I'd call it a gentle character piece in which revelations and secrets gradually emerge. It works best when told from the points of view of the two children as they try to understand the weird behaviour and prejudices of adults. 'How does God know which people are goats and which people are sheep?' asks Tilly. 'I think that's the trouble' said Grace, 'it's not always that easy to tell the difference'.

I really enjoyed it and found it an easy read, though I suspect many people might find it a bit slow. Maybe it's because I'm old enough to have some vague memories of that summer, particularly the water shortage which meant we had a standpipe in the street outside our house. There were also some amusing episodes like the Drainpipe Jesus. Not enough for me to rate it more than a 3 out of 5 though.

For March, I'm being more ambitious and attempting to read more than one book

The first is Island: Diary of a Year on Easdale which I picked up in a charity shop, attracted by the beautiful illustrations. As it's a diary, I'm going to read along with it through the year and have already read up to the end of February.

My second choice is Love in the Night by F.Scott Fitzgerald which was part of the giveaway I won from Kezzie. It's actually two short stories and is only 58 pages long so I'm pretty sure I'll finish this! In fact, I read one of the stories on the train on Tuesday.

My final pick for March is Delirium by Lauren Oliver which is actually one of my daughter's books. She thought it was so-so: it'll be interesting if I think the same.