Thursday, 31 December 2009


This passing on from one year to the next is HUGELY important to us, to me as it's part of one of my dad's sayings: een goed begin is het halve werk. This means make a good start at something and all will finish well as half of your work is already done.
And growing up in the Netherlands we celebrated the New Year's Eve in style with many friends and special food and fireworks.
Tonight I will try to recreate some of these foods and I will share this with you next week!
Meanwhile we also do ''goal setting'' and resolutions of a kind although we call them ''plans'' and we all do a visual poster of the things we dream of or wish to do or achieve in 2010. We have reviewed our 2009 posters- the kids and I : and overall we did pretty well! Some things exceeded expectations and some didn't quite come off but despite several unexpected set backs we had a really gooooood year.

Too many words already, let's see:

I have made a cover for my 2010 diary- a simple one from the market with a boooring navy cover....I will share the pattern with you TOMORROW as my first 2010 contribution. It stretches very snugly over a standard A5 size diary or notebook.....

And back...

And the insides....

And all manky looking when one half had been stretched but not the other....Inside. And outside.
I have never had the patience before to change colour on EVERY row- think of all the ends to sew in uuugh!-but I am love luv loooving the look of this! The 2 very different sides of double crochet really show up and make for such interesting colourplay!

Made just after Christmas and here you can still SEE all those ends....
6 Colours of DK yarn and a 4mm hook, en enterprising spirit a darning needle and patience is all that are needed! Of course you can use more colours and it'll be an ideal STASHBUSTER project!!!
Now I'm afraid it's going to get a bit boring, so feel free to leave me : please have a FABULOUS evening/night and wishing ALL THE VERY BEST for a

A LOOK BACK AT 2009 FOR OUR FAMILY and my bits of it...
I got back into SEWING and am loving this! Really exciting and VERY SATISFYING.
Huge THANKS to my mum for helping me to buy this replacement sewing machine! I am feeling very blessed to get back to sewing, machine embroidery and all sorts of textile arts.
In the November I started the STITCHED TEXTILES course and I am still a bit fearful and stressed about it but also VERY excited and will learn( NB NOTE I did NOT write ''try'') to do all the experimenting and playing that is an essential part of it.

In January Miss E and myslef started to learn to play the piano and many happy hours have now been spent in lessons and practice and my hero husband found us a piano to learn on!
I know it looks rather worn and I WAS going to make a colourful crochet cover for it, but actually I rather like it now. It has history...
CROCHET continued to play a big part of daily life, possibly bigger than before and I have learned many new techniques and stitches from books, magazines and the internet.
A Thank you to RAVELRY, CROCHETVILLE , all at any video crochet site and of course last but not least ATTIC 24 which is a blog I discovered through Simply Knitting magazine in late February 2009. Many projects were actually completed ( as well as quite a few WIPS) and tis is the largest of them: pure wool ripple blanket started in March and completed in September.
In winter it graces the sofa to be cuddled by the children but here it's on the beloved swing !
Apart from the sewing machine and the piano, this was possibly one of the BEST buys of 2009. VERY PEACEFUL. Many enjoyable hours were spent crocheting,reading,cuddling or sleeping.
From bad things GOOD things have been born: JJ's crash helped him decide to start up his own business and the ''almost passed'' 11 plus was Appealed in the January and I WON the case!!!
From redundancy in July : my freedom from tediousness and an extremely ''petty'' office environment was secured and I have loved being a full time mum for the last 6 months or so.
Daily walks at Cuttlebrook and elsewhere in the Chilterns have brought much wonder and joy.In fact I have toyed with the idea of a daily photographic portrait of Cuttlebrook through the year....
Amazing how much it changes day to day. Ther has been a FABULOUS holiday in Yorkshire.

Walking the Leyburn Shawl.

Giggly ''BOND'' girls. Even JJ relaxed and chilled out totally!
Miss E was confirmed in the June.
And started at grammar school in September: huge changes in routine for us all and with it she started a growth spurt that will make her much taller than me very soon and we are wondering whether she''ll be as tall or taller than her dad?
BUT of all the things that happened in 2009: ONE EVENT WAS THE BEST MOST AMAAAAAZING EVER!!!( Apart from having my own babies of course!!!)

Pippa had her litter of 3 puppies on 28 February and we spent 6-9 happy weeks with them and then the remaining months with a 2 dog/ 1 dog 1 puppy family extension!!!
These are a quick snapshot: there's much more in the March and April Archives!
Pippa on 27 February: such a very very BIG tummy....
Pippa turned out to be a PERFECT mum, feeding them, washing them and generally caring so beautifully even though she'd suffered a Caesarian and a very difficult whelping night.

WOW what a year that was!

To contribute and help more and find new ways in which to do it.
Daily: dogwalks(2), piano playing, TR excercises,JM affirmations,draw for 15 mintes,try to fit in some crochet,cuddles/hugs with both girls and JJ!
Give thanks and remember / count all blessings
Try out even more new recipes than in 2009.
Perform to pass or merit standard in the Windsor course
Learn to DRAW
Get a crochet book published
Start giving crochet lessons/classes
Explore other training/teaching opportunities: will probably need training to do this.
Teach/supervise BOTH children to sew and /or crochet
Find enjoyable gainful employment to help pay the bills or start a franchise or own business to do the same.
Be happy on a daily basis and ensure that the girls,JJ, the dogs and friends and family are happy too.
And as TR would say: LIVE WITH PASSION!!!!

xxx and God Bless SMK

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas present preview: TA DAH!!!!

Did I mention that 2009 is a very DIY Christmas? Did I? And I remember mentioning that 10 years ago I made stockings, an advent calendar and lots of sewn stuffed X-mas tree decs all from Rose and Hubble printed design kits from the sewing shop that we still had at that time in Thame... Long gone now alas.
Now you see my youngest is only 9 and she has ''made do'' with ''my'' stocking for all these years where I had quickly sewn a personal- daughter-name label over the holly leaf which stated ''mum'' on it.... This year we agreed it was time she had her very OWN stocking.
So luckily I had bought the fabric ( for some spares)- like you do- all those years ago and it has been in our beloved: ''treasure trove'' attic for the past 10 years. It was supposed to be a teddy on one side and patch work on the other but miss chose patchwork on both sides so I have been quilting almost all day yesterday and little miss helped sew the lining and sew it together:
SEE ABOVE! Her very own named stocking at last.
Then all that quilting got me thinking.... And I had some wadding spare: as I'd bought this especially to make the stocking. ( the mice had eaten the wadding in the attic)
And and and..... BANG! I had an idea and then got sooo gripped by this that I spent all last night : evening and into 3am- ness and most of today making THIS!!!
I AM SOOO EXCITED: I'm really happy and pleased how it's turned out!
My very own Liberty print crochet hook roll.

Ta daaaaaah!!! It's to be wrapped and put under the tree and I'm very grateful for the help the girls and JJ gave me with cooking dinner and shopping and walking the dogs so to release time for me to sew!
I quilted the Liberty print Tana lawn in this lovely classic Art Nouveau print and then made the separate red polka dot lining with all the hook pockets.

I made it full width of the 90 cm wide fabric and it has 28 hook pockets and a small pocket for scissors with a gingham ribbon to tie the scissors on with and room for a tape measure and gauge ruler.
And 2 D-ring tabs to keep my stitch markers safe and handy with the hooks.

It turns out I have more than 28 hooks- once we started looking for them- in jam jars or under sofa some sizes snuggle together. A long flap at the top stops them falling out.

I may add a few red felt squares to keep wool needles handy for finishing and sewing in ends , but I have only just thought of that so it will be a later addition.

It looks terrific from the side also! A Crochety Christmas Rose!
I am so excited about this present and I had the fabrics sitting in my ancient stash!
It's like someone has bought me a ''Cath Kidston'' inspired crochet hook roll!!!!
I love luv loooove almost ALL CK bags you see and had been having a really bad case of the saddle bag ''wanties''.......
Now what about my very boooring 2010 diary? Shall I crochet a cover or sew a quilted one and if the latter shall I do patchwork or use fabric ''as is''?
Decisions decisions!
Tony Robbins would be proud of me for I've been excercising my'' decision making muscles''...
''Tune'' in later to see the outcome!
Have a GREAT Christmas!!!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Cranberry and Port Christmassy Parcels!

These are an excellent alternative to the traditional mince pie and very easy to make!
You will need 1-2 pots of Waitrose's CRANBERRY AND PORT mincemeat, a pack of Filo pastry and 6 oz of melted unsalted butter. A pastry brush and a pile of dampened teatowels....
For the parcels you cut 4 squares of about 11-15 cm , this ccomes out of just one sheet of filo normally so keep the rest under a damp teatowel or the pastry dries out.
Working on another damp teatowel on your worksurface: butter each square in turn and lay them on top of each other as in the photo above, turning a quarter each time.
Put 1-2 teaspoons of mincemeat in the centre and gather up the corners to make a parcel, twist and secure with a piece of string.
Bake in a preheated or fan oven at 200 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
Ta dah!!! Delicious cold dusted with icing sugar or hot and served with brandy cream or vanilla ice cream!!! My kids help make them and also help eat them up double time!
Remove the string after baking but before serving.

Also these triangles are rather dinky and again very popular! Easier to eat as finger food than the parcels....
Start with one sheet of filo on a damp teatowel, cut in half and keep one half covered with another damp teatowel, paint melted butter onto the exposed strip: lengthwise and only on HALF of it.
Like so, see? Sorry it's a bit sideways...

Now fold over the non buttered side onto the buttered half and paint butter on it again, all over the strip this time. Put a dollop: ummm 1- 2 teaspoons of mince meat 1 inch from the top onto the strip.
Now comes the tricky bit: fold the top right hand corner down to meet the left vertical edge, thus making a diagonal fold across the top sloping down left to right....
Make sure the left edge is well sealed.

Now continue folding: staright down with a horizontal fold is next.
Your top edge is now straight and there's a diaginal fold sloping up from left to right at the lower edge.
Now fold across this diagonal so your top left corner meets bottom right.
Now you fold across a straight horizontal again. Keep going in this fashion.
If it's too hard to follow: try it with a long thin strip of paper.

It's a bit like origami, isn't it?
The next fold after the above is over the horizontal fold at the bottom...
There she goes... Keep going untill you have used up the strip. Paint on butter and sprinkle with castor sugar. Place on baking sheet under a damp teatowel until ready to bake.
12-15 minutes in a preheated 200 degree oven.
Ta dah!!! Mmmm mine have ooozed a lot, may have put too much mincemeat on... However not to worry: if you use non stick bakeware the oozed sauce peels off when cooled and is a yummy sticky, fruity type toffee......!!! For once the kids do not mind the clearing up.....
A pot made about 11 of my triangles and I had pastry left over so you could try 1 teaspoon of mincemeat to make more triangles!!!