Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Pretty Me & Make Me Challenge ~ March

Hello Dear Friends, how are you this fine day?  Hunky Dory I do so hope!!  Yep, I'm faking it to make it.  You know there is scientific research which says if you think happy thoughts, your body releases happy hormones which in turn make you happy?  Useful in challenging times I think!!

And if that fails, a little retail therapy can add a bit of a boost.  As readers of this blog may know, I went cold turkey on charity shopping a year ago as 'stuff' was taking over our house and financially although the purchases may be bargains - what you don't have you don't miss.

Pretty Me

Well, we had a purpose for me to break this sanction as we needed additional storage in our hallway.  I thought I'd take a look in our local hospice-care shop and was not disappointed.  Essentially, we needed storage for shoes, coats and outdoor stuff.  So this little beauty was purchased for £60 and came home with me and it's makeover will form my March 'Pretty Me' challenge.

I imagine it was made in the 1930's and is really sturdy.  I liked the fact that it was a shorter height as it means we'll still have a display surface as you come through our front door.  Of course I find the walnut pretty but if left as it is it will darken an already light challenged area.  I will give it a good clean up and then give it a paint job.  I've got plans for organising these little shelves so that this area becomes more clutter free.  We have a coat rack for daily used coats and this was really overloaded hence the need for a better additional solution which is a lot cheaper than buying new or getting one built in.  Happy Days.

Make Me

For quite some time I have had a slight obsession (is that an oxymoron?) with hares.  I have a vision of my mind of a cushion using different creative processes.  I have a pinterest board which I've found inspiring and definitely think I will be creating a cushion using applique, embroidery and crochet combined.  I have a picture in my minds eye of how I want it to look but am not sure if I will be able to create it in reality!!!  I'll give it a good go though.

Looking forward to sharing these with you soon.  Take care of yourselves and I'm sending positive vibes to you all across Cyberland,
J9 x

Monday, 27 April 2015

Easter Holiday Memories: Part II

Hello LoVELY People,

The children have returned to school.  I shared some of my favourite memories here and thought I would share another post on the rest of the holiday period.

The second week of the holidays the Hubby had to return to work but this gave us chance to catch up with friends that go to different schools whom we only see in holiday periods.

I've mentioned before in this space that the Hubby and my birthdays are only two days apart.  Over the last couple years the children have named this day "Club Day" because it is sandwiched between our birthdays.  This essentially requires a menu of Club Sandwiches for lunch that day!  Little Man always chooses meat - this time: ham, chicken and salad whilst Little Lady chose marmite, cheese and crisps!  Hmmm.  The only rule is they get to choose their sandwich fillings and they get to have 3 slices of bread.  It's one day a year so I feel it's OK.  They're easily pleased!

On my Birthday a dear friend had organised a Harry Potter day for the children and her Littlie's.  My kiddies had been so disappointed to not dress up for World Book Day this year (the school didn't dress up for the first time since they joined).  They had chosen their outfits and were so excited and the disappointment they felt (when this didn't happen) was palpable.  Anyhow, my friend knew this and so chose the theme of our meet to please them (and therefore me).  In the days prior, I kept walking in to different rooms and finding a trail of cuttings and sticky stuff....

Little Lady had been adding to her costume with Homemade Spell Books (bottom middle) and some painted cardboard wands with added golden string embellishments:

My friend had got a cake to add to the celebration and we all had a great time - the larger children spent most of the time outside in her garden making potions and playing out various Harry Potter scenes, whilst us adults and her lush 8 month old watched from an adjoining sun room. Bliss!

My sister came and stayed locally with her family too and it was a joy to watch all the cousins playing alongside each other.

At the end of the holidays, the Littlie's treat for being such superb company and fabulous siblings was to have a turn on the new attraction on the sea front named Pirate Adventureland.  For months we had watched this pirate fort being created and wondered what was planned.  Once completed a couple of months ago it was their treat of choice when a special moment brought the occasion.  The last day of the holidays was such an occasion.

Little Lady adored it.  Little Man.... well.  The expression on his face shows his distress.

He gained confidence through the course but it is fair to say he was completely terrified at first.  But the photo below shows how elated they were to have completed it.

Plus an ice cream helped to convince him he'd had a good time ;0)

Yes, this holiday time had many special moments which I shall treasure forever.  I don't want to wish time away but I really look forward to the next school break!!!  They have returned to school, happy and refreshed.  Little Man in shorts (hurrah it's currently warm enough) and looks oh so cute in them. They have really flourished this spring.  He is such a happy, caring and funny little boy.  Little Lady has hit a milestone in maturing in that she is becoming more conscious of how her hair is looking and which clothes to put together.  Not in a superficial way...  it is just a natural progression as she starts to realise what her own style may be.  It is a wonderfully warm feeling to watch this Little Lady emerge, although I often wish I could just freeze them.  But I've said that sporadically for years, "It's just perfect now, if only I could freeze them at that stage".  If that was possible, I wouldn't know how wonderful the next stages would be and that would be something sad indeed.

I am looking forward to sharing with you my March Pretty Me ~ Make Me plans soon.  I'm off to make a cup of black decaf coffee - who knew I could adjust so easily!?!

J9 x

Friday, 24 April 2015

Five on Friday

In the last few posts I've talked about how well I've been feeling in myself on this new medicine regime and with the positive effects of the 'free from' diet.  I knew it would happen, but I had a reality check again this morning.  FACT ~ I have a sick and broken body.  When I say I'm good it's more that I am at my best 'new normal'.  After feeling so positive after the Easter break - instead of taking the opportunity to rest and replenish when the children returned to school, I tried to push through.  Unfortunately, the inevitable circle of overdoing things lead to a flare and ultimately a crash emotionally and physically.  
I must do better at listening to my body and applying pacing plans again.

This has happened before (and of course it will happen in the future!)  I just need to be mindful of the fact that I have a whole host of health issues that I need to manage each day.  Sometimes it sucks.  But of course, there are always things to find in amongst the challenges.  I choose to find happiness in those Simple Things!!

Five things that have made me happy this week:

#1  Little Lady was awarded her Rookie Lifeguard trophy after completing her bronze, silver and finally gold levels.  

This is a big achievement - CPR, swimming in clothes, swimming with a dummy, rescuing people from drowning etc.  It started as something different to do because she loved swimming and had completed all the learning stages.  She's delighted with her trophy and did show and tell at school with it this week.  I'm a very proud mummy.

#2  The blossom on my apple tree is in bud.  

For the last couple years we've had minimal crops but the blossom looks promising for this year.  In the meantime, the flowers are beautiful.  As is the gorgeous blue sky in contrast against it.  It has been a gorgeous week of blue skies here which is good for the soul.

#3  Slowly growing piles of crochet Target Squares. 

Enough said.  These squares are very soothing and I have taken them on travels recently!!  In long car journeys, at the park, waiting for the school gates to open at pick up time - you name it!  Can't wait to start joining these beauties together!

#4  Enjoying beautiful colours and flavours in a pretty bowl.  

So appreciative of reading The Immune System Recovery Plan - and feeling the benefit of my new regime.  It's by no means a cure but the Hydroxychloraquine and elimination diet have seen my symptoms reduce from 9.5/10 to 7/10.  When I've been in flare to that degree for around 6 months even this reduction is life changing.  Still a challenge but there is hope - and for that I am ridiculously grateful.

#5  Forever grateful for my Family
The understanding of my children and Husband of my physical limitations and impacts of chronic pain.

I have grieved for the life I should have led.  For a family who is physically active my physical ability could be an issue and I won't lie - for me it always will be.  But I am so grateful for my Hubby doing those things with the Kiddie's.  For cycling, running, climbing, trampolining, hiking... and so much more.  Regardless of the weather.  Striving to do what is good and not taking the easy option.  I know I do other things with them and together we provide a good balance.  But we are a tight unit - perhaps even more so due to the health challenges we've been through.  It takes strength to fight on... and together we muster just about enough.

Hope you have had some happy moments this week.  Take care until next time,

J9 x
Today I'm delighted to be joining in with Amy and her Five on Friday Linky Party

Monday, 20 April 2015

Easter Holiday Memories: Part I

Our family was all so ready for the Easter break this year.  The children were tired after a relatively long term and were fighting off viral infections.  We were ready to rest, recover and relish this time.  Really wanting to enjoy some precious moments together.

We had a 'staycation' this Easter.  We spent the weekend before the holidays with my Mum in Cornwall and so were simply planning to go with the flow and see how the days took us.  The first week the Hubby was on holiday with us and it is always great to be united as a four.

Bike rides are the thing of the moment in our home.  The Hubby took up cycling this year (after he ruptured his achilles last summer) and the Littlie's have grown in confidence to cycle on the roads.  On many of the days, if the sun was shining they'd pack up a picnic and cycle to the park.  This is a new stage for our family and one which they are embracing.  I am hoping to buy a scooter shortly to enable me to go out on these rides with them.

On one occasion, I hired one from the mobility centre and we travelled the length of the seafront. From the far side of Weston promenade, right past the pier and stopped for a treat at Dr Fox cafe.

This was my favourite day of the holidays.  A prized day to treasure - it was to celebrate our birthdays and we were all out enjoying being together.  I really felt included in their cycling fun and reaffirmed my commitment to myself that the investment in a scooter would be worth every penny.  I just can't keep up in my wheelchair!  Dear doggy Milo took full advantage of the comfy seat of the scooter whilst we stopped for our naughty treat (by the way - I stuck to my anti-inflammatory diet; this girl is on a mission).

After a fuel 'top up' we rode on past to Anchor Head where the children climbed and played happily on the rocks.  This is always a quieter area of the seafront.  Many of the tourists don't walk on this far and as an added bonus, this little cove was completely sheltered from the wind.  They climbed and created games of castles and forts, dividing up the rock faces as their own territory to be conquered.

Other than cycling and climbing there were many active moments throughout their days.  Water play, trampolining, gardening... such busy people.  Even more positively, I am feeling the positive health effects of my new meds and the elimination diet and so had more energy to be around rather than watching from my bed.  Being able to be fully present and engaged had such a good effect on my well-being I think this new energy and my mood combined gave me a real boost.

The Easter Bunny was generous this year too.  He had managed to hide the eggs well above ground level on Easter Sunday and the hunt was a high energy search for their rewards - in onesies.  Wonderful innocence.  Little Lady is 9 while Little Man is 7.  The Easter Bunny is very much alive and part of our tradition.

The Easter holidays each year have been my favourite since becoming a parent.  Spring brings so much more potential I think.  The weather improves and whilst temperatures aren't high it's warm enough to encourage lots of outdoor play which makes for very happy family times.  I will post the second part of my Easter Memory Journalling later this week to avoid either post becoming a novel!

Thank you all for your wonderfully kind comments about my Pretty Me ~ Make Me post.  Bloggers are such a lovely community and I really appreciate all of your encouraging comments & for taking the time to read my little bit of cybler space.  'Til next time,
J9 x

Friday, 17 April 2015

Pretty Me & Make Me ~ February Ta Dah!!!!

Firstly, thank you so much for your kind, supportive and genuinely lovely messages of support in response to a recent post regarding my ongoing challenges with my health.  I'm now 8 weeks in to a new medicine regime which takes 12 weeks to feel the full benefit so I am very hopeful for the future.  This combined with strictly following a dairy, gluten, meat and added sugar elimination diet sees my spirits raised (which always helps coping with these challenges).  After the news that my immune system was not only attacking my joints and muscles but also damaging my liver and kidneys I was willing to do anything to bring some relief!  Anyhow, the steroids, medicine and special diet have seemed to have a calming effect and I'm super happy with that.  Your lovely messages though really help during such a difficult time.
So back to the matter in hand - the Games Trunk!  It has been completed for a good few weeks but I wanted to have my mitts finished to do a full February Ta Dah post!

So without further delay let me share with you my Pretty Me Ta Dah!

This was a really easy and straight forward upcycle.  A quick clean and wipe out with bleach solution and the trunk was ready for its new coat.   I used Annie Sloan paint (which I had in the shed) to smarten the outside up and to enable it to suit our lounge decor more effectively.

I then patched the damaged section of the lid with gaffa tape and initially used an off cut of wallpaper to cover this over.  Unfortunately the wallpaper crinkled and showed too much of the damaged surface underneath and so I was forced to think of an alternative...  In my offcuts I found this toning piece of oilcloth - literally the perfect size to cover the lid.  I think it works well and I simply attached it with double sided tape.

The inside of the trunk was given a fresh coat of lining paper - some Cath Kidston blue star paper I had from a long time ago!!  This gave a really smart and practical finish to the trunk, which on reflection was a very frugal upcycle!!!

The AFTER picture was taken while the glue was still wet so the paper shrunk back even better once completely dry.  Saved from land fill and functional once more.  Happy Days.

As for my Make Me Project - these gorgeous mitts.  I absolutely loved making them - my delay in finishing them was partly due to me putting them aside in favour of making progress on my Target Squares blanket (as I was participating in Sandra's Blanket Along).  This week I decided to bite the bullet and complete the final bits of the mitt pattern.  So finally, I managed to finish the edging and sew on the buttons.

The blanket was a really pleasant distraction although I've proven that I really can only work on one crochet project at a time.  Whilst I may have great plans to work on both projects, something inherent in me is all or nothing - one or the other.  I must say finishing these mitts was a great reward though.

I absolutely love them - they are my favourite colours and due to my complete LoVE of buttons they suit me perfectly.

I continue to make progress (albeit very slow progress) on my long list of projects to make / pretty and do hope you enjoyed seeing these finished items.  I can't wait to share my next projects with you.

J9 x

P.S - I really appreciate all you lovely readers and especially love to hear from you.  Unfortunately at present, I have such limited time on line that I am failing to comment / keep up to date on many of your lovely blog posts.  I do tend to binge read weekly when I get a moment but time / laptop availability seems to be a continuing issue.  Please know that I love following your blogs and am a silent witness to many of your achievements but value you sharing them none the less.  Blessings, x 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Nearly There...

It is the hottest day in England so far this year - perfect for finishing a pair of lovely Stripey Mitts!?! I started these some time ago and had wanted to make them for ages.  I actually crocheted the stripes that were needed fairly quickly... then they were put back into my basket in favour of my Coastal Target Squares Blanket while I joined in the Crochet Along.

Time passed.  I procrastinated....  I decided yesterday that at least one of my WIPs had to be made into a finished item and so the mitts were retrieved from their basket where they had been patiently waiting.

In hindsight I delayed because I was a little intimidated by the button edging and thumb hole completion.  I needn't have worried!  Of course, the wonderful Sandra of Cherry Heart had written the tutorial so thoroughly that I felt guided through these slightly wriggly and tighter stitches.

They are nearly complete.  I am on the final step of choosing the buttons to fasten the sides together.

Ooooh decisions, decisions.  How I love buttons.  This is such a nostalgic joy for me.  I remember loving my Mother's big button tin as a child and sorting through the piles to select the perfect one.

I decided to go with odd buttons and just chose various shades of blue, grey and white initially.  Then I passed a happy half hour playing with button placement and choice.

Until the final choice gave complete satisfaction.

I'm off to sew these lovelies on.  They'll have a Ta Dah moment later this week.

I hope you are enjoying a few moments of happiness this fine day and I will be shortly wearing my Mitts even though it's nearly 20 degrees outside!!!  Take care,
J9 x

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Easter Goodiness & A Wish for You

Happy Good Friday to you!!

It's the Easter weekend and a big birthday weekend for us.  The past week of the Easter school holidays has passed way too quickly and in an effort to stop and savour some of those precious moments I thought I would share some of our Easter decorations / preparations with you.

#1  The Oh-So-Necessary creation of Chocolate Nests!

These are so quick and easy to make - and a favourite Easter treat in many houses across the world I'm sure.  Little Lady had a corn flake and chocolate mix while Little Man had mashed up shredded wheat, chopped hazelnuts and chocolate chips in his mix.

The only tricky bit with these is always to get the chocolate spread across the entire bowl contents before the chocolate sets.  Hmmmm.

Also, Little Lady completed her nests first and initially had 3 mini eggs nestled in each chocolate case.  I had only purchased a single bag (just why are mini eggs so expensive- or is that just my opinion?)  With a little discussion and strong encouragement we managed to achieve a single egg in each nest so that no little chocolate nest was eggless.  Despite the rationing, they still tasted great, were plenty in terms of sugary naughtiness and one bag made it's way across 24 nests (result).

A rare photo of me - and yes, the kiddos are still in their PJ's!!!  It's a hard life eh?

#2  The Easter Tree

Apologies for the quality of photo - the light when I took this was appalling but you get the idea!

#3  Spring Flowers

I managed to get this set of grape hyacinths for 50p and the hyacinths in the above photo in their basket for £3 at our local garden centre.  They were reduced as they were considered to have 'gone over' even though they were just in bud.  It was my gain anyway.  I have been lucky enough to have hyacinths in my house since early March - always three bulbs at a time purchased ready planted and always reduced!  The combined scent and flowers have provided many moments of happiness for me.

#4  Homemade Easter Cakes

This sponge cake was a combined creative effort between myself and Little Lady.  One night while the boys were at football practice, she and I sat and did a tad of sugar crafting.   We chuckled while we mixed up the fondant icing colours and talked about our overall plan for the cake.  I had previously pinned a cake with a bunny going into the side (like a burrow) on my Easter pinterest board and thought it would be quite easy to recreate (obviously in a more amateur fashion!).  Little Lady moulded the chick on top and I put the Bunny bottom together!

We also made the shards of grass, flowers and the chick cupcake toppers (in the photo above this one) on the same evening.  It was really enjoyable to spend this bit of time chatting and making with each other.

I made the sponge and assembled the bits together this afternoon - the icing had dried out so it was more solid to work with and the cake would still be fresh when cut tomorrow.  When Little Man saw it he announced "Wow, that cake will taste GREEN!"  Not quite sure if that's a good thing?

It is the Hubby's birthday tomorrow (Easter Sunday) so it's a cake to celebrate both occasions.  My birthday is Tuesday so it's a happy week for us!!  I remember my 18th birthday was on Easter Sunday many moons ago!

#5  Easter Kiddie Crafting

The past week of holidays has been quite wet and cold.  We've managed to enjoy a fair amount of outdoor time (the kind of grab your coat spontaneously and go time).  However, we have also balanced this with some rather enjoyable crafting time.  It was lovely to collate a few of the little Easter themed makes of the past week.  There have also been Harry Potter themed makes - lots of them.  I'll share that another time.

Thank you as always for your lovely comments on my Target Squares Blanket.  I haven't done any crochet this week and hope to put that right soon!!!

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter.  I hope you find blessings across the weekend and that the Easter Bunny delivers some choccy goodness to your door.

J9 x