Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A Little Crochet...

As if there wasn't enough to do at this time of year, last week I started to crochet a lap blanket.  Not just any lap blanket... a blanket for my Mother as a Christmas gift.  I had been toying with this idea for a little while but procrastinated for some unknown reason.  My mum often uses a lap blanket for comfort and warmth so it felt like a suitable homemade something to give.  Then, suddenly the perfect pattern was created, developed and shared by the wonderful Sandra of Cherry Heart.

Her beautiful Painted Roses Blanket was absolutely what I had imagined and had not been able to find beforehand!  It was fate and thanks to the beauty of the internet I purchased the pattern and started my very own Painted Roses Blanket.

This is a soothing, rhythmic pattern which is actually a surprise to me as I thought I'd need to really concentrate to create something so pretty.  Thankfully, after the first couple flowers I had the pattern down (thanks particularly to Sandra's wonderfully helpful hints and photos provided with the pattern).

I've made 15 flowers with their leaf component so far and think that I'll add the final rounds to make the squares once I've crocheted all the flower rounds.  I plan to add some plain granny squares to the blanket to add balance (considering I'm doing a larger size) and I wanted to use yarn that I already had to minimize cost.  I also aim to back the crocheted blanket with fleece to add extra snuggle factor.

I'm really enjoying this project and seeing my little pile of crocheted 'Painted Roses' gradually grow. I aim to have it finished by Christmas day, which is a time pressure I'm not really used to - I usually like to take my time but that often means I have many projects in progress yet to be finished.  Hopefully as it's a gift I'll actually finish it in time!!

I'm finding that tackling a big crochet project at this time of year is especially enjoyable as it has meant that I've needed to slow down and carve out some creative time amid the hustle and bustle.  I will share a full ta dah in the new year (fingers crossed I finish it in time!!)  I'm sure many of you are aware of Sandra's amazing patterns - I can definitely recommend this one!

J9 x

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Simple Happy Things This Week

: :  The pure joy intrinsic in flying a kite.  Whatever the age... if the wind is blowing and you feel a little low - go fly a kite.  It is instantly uplifting.

: :  The Littlie's participated in a school fundraiser for Save the Children and as part of this wore their Christmas jumpers.  Cue very excited children and lots of giggles.

: :  A hot chocolate with happy sprinkles!!  I had an arthogram this week (a detailed MRI with dye injected directly into the hip joint).  This is always a strange feeling and to stave off a fainting fit and sickness afterwards I treated myself to sitting for an hour in the hospital cafe while I regained my composure!

: :  Some one on one girly time with Little Lady while the boys were at football.  We went 'Christmas Window Shopping' - oohing and aahing at lights and decorations.  We love the Monty Penguin advert and there was a whole interactive display dedicated to the penguins at a certain department store - which we both enjoyed!!  Little Lady has a rabbit (purchased whilst I was pregnant with her) that is as important to her as Monty is to the little boy in the advert and I was delighted one year to find a bigger version in a charity shop a couple years ago which became Bop Bop's mummy.  So lovely - have not seen another one since so it was meant to be.

Christmas is well and truly on its way and the excitement levels in this household are rising!  I've just started soaking the fruit for our Christmas cakes and the tree is decorated and awaiting wrapped presents to be placed under its branches!  Christmas carols and parties galore are taking place next week, which is sure to get us all in the Christmas spirit!  Plus we went on the Santa Train this morning (I think a post of this alone will follow as I took lots of pictures!)  It was a lovely family experience and a very special treat.

I hope there were happy things in your week and that you all have a fantastic weekend.  Happy Christmas!!
J9 x

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Sunny Sunday

The months of winter experienced so far in our part of SW England have been largely mild with dark grey skies and mist that obscures most of the sunshine from our lives.  Time indoors requires lighting throughout the day due to the low light levels and those wonderful crisp, blue-skied winter days have been numbered.  However, last Sunday was one of those days where the sun shone and the need to exploit the opportunity to go outdoors was irresistible!

It seems that the sun crept into many bloggers lives on Sunday and I've seen a few posts admiring the winter skies over the past week which made me smile.  Somehow even though I don't physically know these people I find it heartwarming that many people look up at the same big sky and smile.  It somehow makes the world feel smaller and more intimate - to think that the same Sunday sun has given pleasure and a definite need to be outdoors across some of the blogging community.  As such, my post today is an homage to those Sunday Skies and the immense pleasure inherent within witnessing the sight of an ever changing sky.


Despite all my physical impairments we are an outdoor family.  It is a place where I feel most alive, most connected with my special people and most spiritually inspired.  The pure joy in Simple Things is inescapable and for that I am eternally grateful.  All these pictures were taken within one afternoon - the sky was like a rolling canvas.

Time seems to be flying by in the month leading up to Christmas.  Of course, it is always a busy month and I will have sporadic time online for the rest of December.  I hope you have a wonderful lead up to Christmas - I am hoping to pop back in to cyber land soon but it's always the first thing to slip so blessings to you all and thank you for commenting and popping by over the past year.  It's been a joy to get to know you all more.

Happy December - and here's hoping we have more beautiful Sunny Skies to enjoy this month.
J9 xxx

Friday, 5 December 2014

More Mevagissey

I had a wonderful response to the post I did recently regarding our family visit to this little port.  In that post I mentioned I had a little wander off to the outer harbour on my own with my faithful spaniel.  It was a slow meander to drink in the colours and smells but I was also struck by the multitude of textures - both man made and natural, which added interest and beauty to this little place.  I hadn't wanted to overload my previous post with photography (with things that perhaps only some find beautiful) but as many of you enjoyed it I thought I'd share some more?


I do so love the beautiful turquoise colours of the seaside.  Even the ropes used are turquoise tones and I love that - function and beauty together.  Just wonderful.

And of course, my faithful friend, Milo.  He is such a fabulous family dog and a great companion while I take random pictures - which you've got to love!!

Happy weekend folks.  I hope you are warm and happy wherever you are.
J9 x

Thursday, 20 November 2014

A Misty Mevagissey

During half term we visited my childhood home and of course this trip wouldn't be complete without a visit to the sea.  It renews my being and feeds my soul.  It's so strange - I literally feel a wave of calmness come over me.  The weather wasn't fantastic which meant that a beach wasn't the best idea - so we chose a local harbour - Mevagissey for our jaunt.  

In the inner harbour the boats were literally jostling for space.  They were moored up in their over wintering positions protected from the worst of the winter weather ahead.  Some of the little boats were lined up like soldiers in smart lines yet with different uniforms; their design, colour and size all varied.  We love to look out for boat names which often have meaning like 'Our Dream' or 'Sea Breeze'.  Little Lady found a boat with her christian name and was completely delighted.

The still water in the inner harbour reflected those beautiful colours even though the sun was nowhere to be seen.  It was such a grey, misty wet day yet there was so much colour and texture around to enjoy.

The outer harbour below was less packed but the mist was much more pronounced.  There were a couple of large (expensive) yachts moored up alongside the little fishing boats.  I do enjoy looking back towards land from an outer harbour wall.  The dwellings look nestled in so efficiently to the shape of the landscape.  They literally mould to the shape of the cliffs where people must have originally dug out a home straight into the side of the port.

This house in particular fills me with wonder.  I don't know much of the history of this architecture but it looks old and original!!  I love it for its quirkiness.  Many of the houses are largely covered in Cornish slate - partly because it is a local material and partly because it protects the surface from the attack of the salty elements.  The harbourside is like a jigsaw, carefully fitting its pieces into the slopes around the sea.

This cormorant was drying himself with his wings outstretched.  I'm not sure if this action actually dried him on this occasion - by this point the weather had deteriorated to 'Cornish Mizzle' - a mix of mist and drizzle which is ridiculously efficient at making anyone or anything very wet!!

Although the weather deteriorated we did enjoy our little visit to the Cornish seaside.  The little aquarium has been recently refitted and entry is by donation so that experience added to our enjoyment.  As did the delicacy of Cornish ice cream - to be relished even on a cold, autumn, misty wet day... Why not?!

Why not indeed.

J9 x

Friday, 7 November 2014

Date Day: Coffee & Crutches

The Hubby and I managed to squirrel away some 'us' time after dropping the children in to school this week.  Although his achilles is improving he is still on crutches and so we look like a right pair together and it means that we needed to choose something simple for our Date Day.

Coffee with a view was the obvious choice.  At the sea front the tide was out and the little fishing boats looked like they had been lulled to sleep on their sides in the autumn sunshine.

The sand sparkled as the sun hit the surface and whilst we sat sipping our coffee in the unusually warm sun, I did feel extremely content with our simple life.  I needed that moment - to refocus ourselves on what is important; to try not to worry about what we can't change and be fully present and appreciative of this goodness.

It's been a strange time at present with my health and continuing searches for additional diagnosis.  I have decided to just go with it and not worry.  I have had these symptoms for a good while and a label will not change the reality so I'm trying to be more relaxed about the process.  

Coffee and a chat can help reestablish perspective - and great company and a good view doesn't hurt either!!  Thank you all for your kind comments and wishes for my health.  I'm alive and happy just struggling a little with pain at present but this is nothing new.  All will be well.

I do so hope all will be well with you all too,
J9 x

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Beautiful Blue

I find the beauty in nature is sometimes breathtaking; colour, texture and pattern are so inspiring.  There are moments when I can see such beauty, appreciate it and move on and there are others when I literally just want to drink it up.

My Father developed this enthusiasm in me - awe in the miracle of the world.  I feel very connected spiritually when I am emerged in the outdoors.  It makes me feel alive and part of something wonderful yet at the same time a small part of a much wider picture.

Growing up... the sea was always my go to place - whatever I was feeling the sea re-centred me.  It's power, energy and beauty I find awesome - and the colours are my favourite tones in the world - from deep blues to emerald greens to turquoise.  They do feed my soul.

The colours in this Beautiful Blue made me feel so immensely happy.

The deep jewel colours set against the back drop of autumnal browns was outstanding and perhaps even more beautiful because of this contrast.  He was tame too so fed from the children's hands, which of course they LoVED.

Enough to make my heart literally sing.  
Simple Things.

Hope you are finding colour in your part of the world,
J9 x

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Delightful Dressing Up

As a family, we don't normally embrace Halloween as an occasion beyond sculpting pumpkins and eating too many sweet things!  This year however, the children were desperate to dress up and had even practiced their costumes (and face paints) a month early to extend the fun!!  "Trick or Treating" is not encouraged in our neighbourhood so we were happy to join in a local organised party where the children paraded with pumpkin lanterns around the grounds of a hotel - largely under the dark of night - which my Littlie's found extremely exciting!

The excitement of dressing up combined with being out in the darkness with other children meant that they enjoyed the experience immensely.  It was lovely to see this innocent and harmless celebration of Halloween.  Just an excuse to dress up and eat sweets...

The hotel staff had sculpted a pumpkin each and you could vote for your favourite.  It was very inspiring actually - I need to put more effort in to mine next year!!  The top three in the collage below were our favourite pumpkin designs completed by the staff and the bottom row is our own little pumpkin display.

We sculpted these whilst down in Cornwall, where photos of our previous efforts hang on the wall prompting nostalgia in us all.  I love to listen to my children converse whilst sculpting at the dining table in my childhood home:

"Look... I did a friendly one last year" (LM)

'Oh yeah...' (LL)

"I'm gonna make him more scary this year.  But not too scary.  He can still smile and be scary... right?" (LM)''


Take care 'til next time!
J9 x

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A Busy Week!

Sometimes life feels a little like a roller coaster - not just in terms of the ups and downs but also in terms of how time passes.  Do you know that feeling?  When at times life seems to trot along at a slow speed and you don't need to rush or plan to fit things in?  And then other times it's like you're suddenly rocketing down hill and time just seems to fly by - not because you're having fun but because there just aren't enough minutes in the day for all the commitments you have?

Well, that's been my story this past week.  Lots of rushing fast hobbling around; mainly to lots of different physical assessments by different teams within the local hospital.  Lots of tests, manipulation, questions... and so far not a lot of answers.  It seems there is something awry with my central nervous system too but those questions don't give a lot of answers - just more tests.  But we will keep calm and carry on in the typically British fashion!!

All this means there has been very little time at home this past week and I've missed my pottering time.  Milo has been slow to recover from having two teeth out (bless him) and we are all very much ready for the half term break this week!!

I was productive though in the little time I had last week.  Not a slow pottering of time - more a sprint to a finish.  A close friend was looking to recover her conservatory chair cushions - the rattan kind - and was struggling.  I offered to have a go and after an offer of payment and some "Oh no, I couldn't possibly" and "But I can't let you if you don't let me pay" type of conversation, we settled happily on a trade of time.  My time in doing her cushions and her time in looking after the children for one afternoon one weekend in the not too distant future!!  Win: Win.  I do love it when a plan comes together.  It did lead me to think down the whole money verses trading skills economy.  I do so like the idea of trading something personal rather than coin based!

So I set about making these cushions.  They took a while but that was largely because I hadn't used my sewing machine for an age and so was re-familiarising myself with that too.  The cushions came on a treat - the spotty fabric is from Dunelm and coordinates with her dining table oil cloth so I think they will look lovely.  I'm going to tackle the back cushion covers which are slightly larger the week after half term!

It was good fun actually and made me wonder why I'd neglected my faithful sewing machine for so long in favour of the crochet hook.

It also made me question why I procrastinate so!  I have two chairs of my own which I have previously recovered - ooh, some 5 years ago and which now are crying out for another cover.  Do I get round to doing it?  Hmmm.

Well, yes by the end of November I will have made new chair covers for the two armchairs in question - and have completed my chair mission for my friend.

Time will not get away from me.  Oh no, I shall invent some manner of controlling it so I actually manage to create something tangible.  Hopefully when I do see what I have managed to create, the idea of me eluding time will feel more real!

I won't be around in cyber world for the rest of this week but take care and we'll catch up soon,
J9 x

Thursday, 16 October 2014

I am / I try to be / I am not

Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement and cyber hugs over the past month.  It has genuinely been helping knowing that some wonderful people in the world I've not physically met would take the time to show they care.

I don't have a lot to post about at present as the lack of camera is frustrating - soon to be resolved though.  I've seen both Jennifer from thistlebear and and Leanne from Today's Stuff do this and I enjoyed learning a little more about them individually in this way so I thought I'd join in.

I am

  • a chronic chocoholic.  It is my 'go to' for all emotional traumas or celebrations.  I can always make up a reason!  Maltesers are my favourite (although it is not the lighter way to enjoy chocolate as there are LOTS of calories in them).  Or Dairy Milk.  Yum.  I will never be a size 10 again and I'm OK with that.
  • a bit naive.  I'm in my mid thirties now and life is showing me that sadly the real world is a darker place than the little world of my childhood.  I aspire to shelter my own children from very many horrors in the world yet give them age appropriate awareness so that they are not vulnerable in later life.
  • a hoarder.  It's true I have hoarding tendencies.  I can see a future project or a use in most things and have to manage my actions to prevent stuff entering my home - it's the reason I've gone cold turkey on charity shops.  Don't get me wrong I don't live in a house stacked high with rubbish but there is what many people would call clutter!
  • concerned about Ebola.  I think this is a worldwide issue which fills me with worry.
  • cooking a roast chicken with all the trimmings for tea tonight and an apple and blackberry crumble with custard for afters.  Yummy.

I try to be
  • a patient, attentive, consistent and calm mother.  I don't want to rule as an autocrat or through fear but aim for my children to feel they can talk to me about anything.  
  • a good wife and friend.  I am blessed with having some wonderful people in my life which is something I'm eternally grateful for.  
  • a good listener.  I'm naturally an introvert and have quite a quiet personality.  I have a few close friends with great personality traits and I think if you asked them mine they would say that I'm a good listener.
  • kind to myself.  Since my accident I tend to overcompensate for many of the things that I can no longer do and when I can't achieve what I aim for it leads to feelings of guilt which can be overwhelming.  I'm learning to be kinder to myself.
  • organised.  I'm not a naturally organised person.  My lovely mother's idea of filing was to simply put things in a drawer.  Which drawer and where was never important until we needed to find something and it would lead to a frantic search and stress.  I'm trying to minimise all sources of stress I can influence and so gradually my home - room by room is being organised and everything is finding its home.  It's working!
  • creative with our weekend times.  Time together as a family is so precious and I'm conscious that we make the most of this time.  In so doing I've perhaps over planned trips or family visits and we need some creative time at home to relax together and do the much loved simple things.  I'll try harder and keep evaluating that this is right for us.

I am not
  • on top of the laundry.  Rainfall has been so heavy and so consistent this past week the laundry basket is full.  I'm waiting for dry weather to help dry it before it becomes a mountain.  We don't have a tumble dryer but I'm even beginning to consider putting the heating on to dry some on the radiators.  I'm trying not to as I can manage without the heating on at the moment and quite frankly the cost of energy is an issue!
  • currently 'on plan'.  I've been a member of Slimming World since February and have very slowly lost 10lbs.  It's taking forever because I can't exercise much at present due to my health and when I feel in pain my resolve weakens!   I think I may have eaten that weight in ginger nut biscuits over the last few days!!!
  • naturally tidy.  Chaos makes me stressed though - even when it's not on view but I'm trying hard to work on this trait.  I'm teaching myself but it's a process!
  • a girly girl.  I was a National Park & Wildlife Trust Ranger post graduation and pre kids and have always lived in trousers etc with minimal makeup.  I had a part time job once in Monsoon and had to wear colourful dresses and was so uncomfortable!!  Over the last few years I've started wearing dresses during the summer as I've overcome my self consciousness and even wear a little foundation and mascara!!  But that's about it - ooh, I love a good pedicure though.
  • enjoying being alone at home without my little dog Milo.  He's currently at the vets having his teeth cleaned!!  It feels very quiet here without my little shadow.  
This was quite fun to write so thank you for the inspiration.  Take care until next time,
J9 x

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

To Bee or not To Bee?

Way back in July, we experienced an exciting phenomenon of a swarm of bees actually 'swarming'.  The scale of this was such that we actually heard the bees swarming before we could see them.

We later learnt that this was a Prime swarm meaning that there was a good number of bees (upwards of 30000) present around the Queen bee.

I've seen three previous sets of bees swarming but none on this scale.  The Hubby was a bit freaked out - it being his first swarming event to witness.  It really is an impressive sight.  I was too busy watching to run and grab my camera so I missed catching the cloud of bees to illustrate but they did physically dominate the space at the front of two large detached houses, the whole main road and front gardens to the opposite houses.  An awesome sight to behold.

As we watched, the bees gradually settled on a tree opposite our house.  I know from previous experiences that once they've settled they aren't dangerous being heavy with honey and it was at this point I could get up close and photograph them in their banana shape around the Queen and a chosen branch of the tree.
I called up the local Bee Association and they sent a Bee Keeper out to me.  This was initially complicated by the American Brood Disease restriction being placed on the movement of swarms within 5km distances but the Bee Keeper had a contact that would mean they could relocate the swarm into a newly managed hive locally - fantastic!!
The process of getting the swarm into a collection chamber wasn't too technical - the keeper simply knocked the heavy swarm from the branch into the box hoping that he'd knocked the Queen into the box.  He then left the box at the foot of the tree for the remaining bees to move into - following the pheromone of the Queen.  Then it was a bit of a sit and wait - watching to see whether more bees moved into the box and whether indeed he'd been successful in collecting the Queen or not.
Once it was established we'd collected the Queen they returned at around 8 pm when the bees were less lively to move them to their new hive.  Essentially the slides were stretched with fresh bees wax and were literally dripping with bees - they were so large in number.
This whole event literally felt like a sign to me.  Not one week before I'd been sat with the Hubby talking about a Bucket List of experiences that we'd each like to achieve while we are still able.  His contained things like: parachute jump, run New York marathon, exotic travel etc.  Mine included: starting to sell handmade products at craft fairs, going to Yarndale and bee keeping.  Yes - I have a huge desire (and have done since childhood) to manage my own Hive.  Due to this swarm I made the connections to start my journey along this path. Indeed, if I had had the right equipment I could have started with this very swarm back in July!  

So, my pledge to myself is that I will allow myself the time, give myself the confidence to attend Bee Association meetings and start an apprenticeship so that I will bring about managing my own hive within the next two-three years.  

There.  A definite pledge to myself.  I don't often prioritise myself - we don't as mums do we?  But in this case myself with my Little Man (who is an avid bee lover) will be proactive in making this actually happen.  What a sight to witness so closely though.  The inspiring magic of nature.
Ooooo the excitement!  Hope you have some excitement - in whatever form - however diverse - wherever you are in the world!

J9 x

Wednesday, 8 October 2014


The summer holidays have passed in a happy blur of giggles and bouncing, Lego construction and picnicking, beaching and crafty creativity.  It has been a good holiday time for us - despite some challenges on the mobility front!

We cancelled our planned family trips to London and Cornwall and decided to take multiple day trips.  Much of the time it was the Littlie's and I - the Hubby's ruptured achilles required elevation above his heart for the majority of the day due to excessive swelling, but we jumbled along through our days in a largely content manner.

The first few days of the holiday were perhaps the most challenging - primarily managing multiple hospital appointments and understanding Hubby's new injury was difficult - plus the children took a couple of days to adjust to being together again 24 / 7!!  This happily settled down after the first 2 or 3 days and the children spent the remainder of the holidays being each others play pal.  This is always one of my favourite things to observe - they are usually each others best advocate and supporter and it does fill me with pride to hear the conversations they have and the games they create.

My camera malfunctioned during the holidays (much to my horror).  I only have a point and shoot camera but in my experience they just don't seem to last much beyond the warranty period.  I'm on my third model now and have loved my current one with it's WiFi connectivity (especially useful to transfer pictures for this blog) but am now researching new options.  I don't have a smart phone so that instant camera facility isn't available to me elsewhere!!!  Enough about this but I write this partly to justify the 'quality' of images!!  Memories captured none the less.  I also found myself being much more in the moment this holiday period; either part of the play with the children and trying to record the scenes to my physical memory rather than watching through a lens - which can sometimes be tempting.  I kept a handwritten journal throughout the holidays and whilst we stayed at home we did get out to a whole range of parks across the county (always with a picnic) and the weather was stunning for much of it!

We also had lots of water play.  Either in the paddling pool, Marine Lake, the sea or Water Parks.

The children had chore charts for the first time too - with daily jobs to complete in return for a little pocket money or a specific treat day (like Puxton Park).  This helped us balance the extra mess that happens in a family home and reduced the need for nagging!!

My Mum - 'Granny', came and stayed on a couple of occasions for a few days at a time which was a great help.  It meant adult company on days out for me and a doting player of board games for the kids.  I loved spending these relaxed times with her and the children - especially Little Lady are so appreciative of her time it is an equally rewarding relationship.

In short, August 2014 was a wonderful month.  It was challenging in many ways - yet these times do help you to appreciate the good - and gladly there were plenty of good moments.  We could have easily done with another couple of weeks of restorative rest and child filled fun this summer.  The children were still able to fill their days and not once complain of boredom.  Other than the first couple days of readjusting there were no kiddie cross words and the sunny days of summer were just that.  For once our English summer was full of sunshine; our days in Somerset were long and warm full of outdoor opportunity...and our little family was happy and content.

The achilles heel is now into its 7th week of healing so lets hope that September is Super too!

This post has been drafted awaiting photos for over a month and he is now about 12 weeks into recovery - hence the down turn of my own health during September is not reflected in this previously drafted post.  I liked the post as it read when I came back to it today as I was clearly still on the high of good times with the kids... reading it helped me to reconnect with those times and so with only this adjustment and the addition of photos it has stayed the same and I've hit publish.  What a difference a month can make!  Problems with my own camera has meant that sorting the photos for this post has been tricky - hence it now being October before my record of the summer is complete!!  Better late than never!

J9 x