Alternative Baby Blanket

imageIn my last post I showed you my Gaudi inspired project that was going to be a blanket for a friend’s new  baby girl due next month.

I liked the wavy ripple pattern & colours so much that I have decided to keep it & make it into a wrap for myself & so I needed to find another newborn gift.

It took a while but finally decided on a soft chunky blanket that will double as a play mat (I needed something  quick to make too)!

I chose Bernat Baby Blanket yarn which is super chunky, lovely & squishyly soft & lightweight. It’s machine washable & dries quickly too, so very practical.  

   
 I decided on a modern colour palette & simple stripe pattern using dc throughout. I used a size 10 crochet hook & a foundation chain of 60 stitches. The 2 main Colours were cream & sand with a pink multi yarn for the stripe. I did 3 rows each in the 2 main colours separated by 1 row of the multi yarn. I used 2 big balls of the main colours & carried on with the pattern  til they ran out & then made an edging with the pink – one row dc then another (dc,ch1) all around – gives a sort of gentle frilly edge. It’s big enough to be used as a pram blanket or a comfy floor mat.

    

I had enough leftover yarn to make a little cocoon/ bowl

  
 Hope they like it:) 

New Year New Projects

I’m home alone for a few weeks as all my boys are away – one in Australia, one touring with a band & one back at Uni so its just me & the pooch mostly. This means lots of crochet time:)

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Since visiting Barcelona in November I have had in mind to make something inspired by the amazing Casa Batllo – Gaudi’s House of Bones.

The colours & shapes used throughout this building are just beautiful, no straight lines were used in this building design -if you get a chance to visit it is worth the queing!

I particularly like the front with its wavy lines & mottled colours. It also has beautiful stained glass windows – circles of different colours – only just visible in this picture.IMG_7411

I already had some leftover yarn in my stash with similar colours but I couldn’t decide what to make or how to give the feel of Gaudi’s work.

I decided on a baby blanket using up my Drops Baby Alpaca Silk yarn leftover from my squircles blanket, using a wavy stripe pattern, I chose this Lazy Wave pattern available on the lovely blog lookatwhatimade.net. Its a very easy pattern & has a lovely rhythm to it.

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Lazy waves pattern

I think the colours work very well together & I will do some kind of border incorporating some Gaudi circles I think.

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It’s growing nicely & the more I work on it the more I think I might keep it for myself & make it into a wrap, which means I need to find some more yarn & time to make the baby blanket gift I originally intended!

 

Crochet Christmas Wreath

I can share my most recent crochet project with you at last- it was a surprise gift for my mum but she has it now so it’s not a secret anymore!

I made her a lovely Xmas wreath inspired by Lucy’s winter wreath- see here at Attic24.   

I covered a polystyrene base ( from hobby raft) with a stripy base – blues for the sky & greens & red for the garden – just a wide strip of single crochet stripes stitched together at the back.   

Then I made a few baubles & pine cones, a poinsettia flower & holly leaves, together with a few ready made pom-poms, baubles & tiny bells, all stitched into the base.  I embroidered stars onto the sky in silver thread & a red ribbon to hang it by. The little robin is a perfect addition I think. 

   
 
A lovely project if quite fiddly & time consuming but fun & very effective. My mum loves it!

Leaves & bauble patterns from Lucy at attic24. Poinsettia from  The daintydaisy blogspot & pine cones from PlanetJune

Might need to make one of these for myself…….next year:)

Crochet Christmas Wreath

I can share my most recent crichet project with you at last- it was a surprise gift for my mum but she has it now so it’s not a secret anymore!

I made her a lovely Xmas wreath inspired by Lucy’s winter wreath- see here at Attic24.   

I covered a polystyrene base ( from hobby raft) with a stripy base – blues for the sky & greens & red for the garden – just a wide strip of single crochet stripes stitched together at the back.   

Then I made a few baubles & pine cones, a poinsettia flower & holly leaves, together with a few ready made pom-poms, baubles & tiny bells, all stitched into the base.  I embroidered stars onto the sky in silver thread & a red ribbon to hang it by. The little robin is a perfect addition I think. 

   
 
A lovely project if quite fiddly & time consuming but fun & very effective. My mum loves it!

Leaves & bauble patterns from Lucy at attic24. Poinsettia from  The daintydaisy blogspot & pine cones from PlanetJune

Might need to make one of these for myself…….next year:)

Garden Revamp #4 (I really need to stop spending money now)

Sorry I haven’t updated my blog in a while, I have been busy with various projects but haven’t found the time to write, partly because our dog is no longer waking me up at silly o’clock thank goodness! Although I did fit much more into my day by getting up at 5.30am!

Remember the view from my kitchen window that I really wanted to change?

 

well this is the view now after 6 months of work……

  ……much better don’t you think?

We have 2 new low maintenance flower beds with similar planting, the one nearer the house has lower growing plants so that this bed no longer blocks the view of the  rest of the garden. The third bed at the back on the right will be my veg patch. There’s still lots to do but it looks so much better already!

We decided to clear the bed nearest the house of everything except the two beautiful,  Japanese Acers. We moved two huge phormiums from this bed & replanted them at the bottom & right of the garden to draw the eye to the boundary, to my amazement they seem to have coped with being moved & are both doing ok. We also lifted & salvaged all the black grass  & Verbena Bonariensis that had spread. After clearing & digging we covered both beds with strong weed suppressant fabric & pegged it down & then began the exciting job of planting. The bed furthest away was tackled first 

   

  Starting to plant up the bed furthest from the house
 Both beds have a mix of small trees, shrubs & perennials. We tried to reuse as many existing plants as possible, We moved the tall zebra grass Miscanthus sinensis Zebrinus  from the bed near the house – splitting the existing clump & planting some at the back of the new bed at the bottom of the garden, it grows tall & thick & should form a bright backdrop in one corner. We had an existing Acer Japonica in a pot (can’t remember the variety) which went in, & I bought a lovely Forest Pansy – Cercis Canadensis a small tree with beautiful heart shaped leaves that turn red, I also bought some purple Euphorbia and for winter interest, a couple of  Pittosporum Tom Thumb – they also pick up the colour of the Euphorbia. I added a clump of purple fountain grass – Pennisetum rubrum & pony tail grass- Stipa tenuissima from elsewhere in the garden. This gives lovely movement & texture to the bed. I used some of the black grass to fill in some gaps together with an existing penstemon, some dark red Sedum & the some Verbena Bonariensis. We then used slate & garden pebbles to cover the weed suppressant fabric. This bed was completed in August & has already filled out well.
The bed nearer the house is planted in a similar way to pick up some of the shapes & colours of the other bed but with smaller & more compact plants. We left the 2 existing acer trees in situ & added a gorgeous Katsura tree – the leaves smell of burnt sugar when the sun hits them. We reused some of the black grass & an existing Hebe, the same Euphorbia, Stipa & Pennisetum varieties, a different penstemon, 3 box plants which will be clipped into balls, mirrored by 3 bright green balls of the dwarf  Hebe ‘Emerald Gem’.  I have also added a lovely compact Nandina Domestica & the new  Mahonia ‘soft caress’, together with some Hellebores & Cyclamen for some winter colour. I also transplanted some perennial violas from another part of the garden to this bed which should give some lovely colour & scent in spring.

The centrepiece of this bed is a birdfeeding station so I can watch the birds from my kitchen window, it took a few days for the birds to realise it was safe to use but now we have a regular show of visitors including our resident squirrel!   


We covered the weed supppressant with large gravel in this bed as was the cheapest option but I think it really lifts everything. Obviously it’s a little bare at the moment but I can’t wait for next spring to watch things come to life.

I am so happy with the work we have done in a few months & very grateful to my friend Jackie who has helped me get my gardening mojo back.  She runs a gardening business & a lovely shop selling gardening goodies please visit her new facebook page The Garden Room

Next job is  to plan my little veg patch……

A few days in Barcelona

Last week I had a few days away in Barcelona. I’ve never been before & everyone I spoke to said “you will love it” & “watch your bag!” They were right about me loving it – my favourite city so far, but we had no problem with pickpockets & didn’t witness any crime in the 5 days we were there. The weather was perfect for sightseeing, despite the forecast – fine & dry but not too hot.

As there were six of us we decided to book an apartment, partly as it was much cheaper but also to give us more flexibility.

We booked our apartment through  Fewdays Barcelona – who were very helpful & efficient, it was a well equipped apartment in a great location near to the Arc Du Triomphe (yes they have one too!), and 10 minutes walk to either, Placa Catalunya, (shopping district, La Rambla, Casa Batllo), or to the old town, for the Picasso Museum, Gothic area etc.

  
I think you could stay in Barcelona for several weeks & still find things to see & do, we had 5 days & didn’t see everything we wanted to. We also didn’t think we would have to pre book so many of the main attractions as it was late in the season. That proved to be a problem as we wasted alot of time queueing to buy timed tickets, which we could have done in advance before settting off each day.

In particular Casa Batllo or House of Bones, the Gaudi designed home for the Batllo family, this is a must see & we had to queue for over an hour to buy a ticket for the queue to get in!! It was worth it though:)  

Casa Batllo (house of Bones)

 

The rooftop & chimneys of Casa Batllo

We also did not pre book tickets for Park Guell, the Gaudi Park, which is quite a way out of the city centre, none of the guide books we had, or the website suggested this. We had timed tickets for the Sagrada Familia (the Gaudi Cathedral) for 5pm on one of the days so thought we would go to Parc Guell on the same day – they are quite near each other. We arrived at around 1.30pm thinking we had plenty of time to visit, sadly the next available time for entry was 5pm, so we could only visit the free areas of the park not the main attraction. 

  

Gaudi’s Apartment at Parc Guell

If we had booked online in the morning we may have been able to do both, however the free areas are beautiful & have great views of the city & Gaudi’s apartment is in this area and we were able to see this (for an entry fee).

The Sagrada Familia is another ‘must see’ it is a truly incredible feat of engineering, architecture & design, still unfinished but getting close! The interior is awe inspiring & Gaudi’s passion for nature & how that influenced his design is evident everywhere.  

The Sagrada Familia – Gaudis Unfinished Cathedral

We also spent a day exploring Mont Juic, we toured the castle, enjoyed the views, saw the fountains & visited the Poble Espanyol living museum, this is a collection of regional buildings transplanted to create a village representing all the regions of spain. There are regional crafts such as glass blowing & leather working, an art gallery with some works by Picassso and bars & restaurants, the museum stays open til midnight & is well worth a visit. 

  
The view of The port from Mont Juic Castle

 Poble Espanyol

We also managed to fit in a city bus tour, a visit to the Picasso Museum, the Gothic Cathedral, the Archaeological Museum, several nice meals in beautiful squares, a bit of back street wandering, a flea market, the very special food market- La Boqueria and a football match!

  
    
   

I have to say that we totally ran out of time & have a long list of things to do another time – can’t wait to go back!

Autumn Means Chutneys & Pickles

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 I love homemade chutneys & pickles, & have just made a couple of different ones.

I used up the last of the courgettes in a picallili style  mustard relish, & as we all love spicy food I made a tomato, red pepper & chilli chutney. These are both quite easy – if a little messy & it is much easier if you have a food processor for all the grating. The quantities are approximate as I just used what I had leftover to use up.

Sterilise jars & lids by washing in dishwasher – or v hot water – then place on a tray in a warm oven for 10 minutes. Fill while both jars & chutney are still warm, put lids on, & as the chutney cools it forms a vacuum which creates an airtight seal.

Courgette Relish

I used 2 Large courgettes & summer squash (patty pan) – about 1.5 kg before preparation.

One onion & one pepper (I used red for a bit of colour).

500ml white wine or cider vinegar

200g sugar

1 .5 teaspoon dry mustard powder

1 teaspoon crushed mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)

Method

Deseed the squash & grate or thinly slice (no need to peel)- mix together with the onion & pepper, sugar, vinegar & spices in a large saucepan.

Bring to the boil & cook until veg is just cooked but still a little crunchy.

Mix a tablespoon of cornflour with a little cold water into a paste & stir into the pan & cook for a minute or two more to thicken the sauce.

Spoon into clean sterilised jars while still warm, put lids on & store in a cool place for a couple of months before eating.

Red Pepper & Chilli Chutney.

This is a bit of a cheat – using a large jar of roasted red peppers.

1 lge jar of roast red peppers.

1 onion

1 eating apple

A courgette or marrow

Some fresh tomatoes – I used whatever I had leftover  but you could use tinned tomatoes if necessary.

(You need about a kilo & a half of veg to 500mls vinegar so add whatever you like to make up the weight)

500 mls white vinegar (I used cider)

125g sugar

Either fresh or dried chilli to taste – I used 3 jalapeño red chillis, seeds & all, but a teaspoon of dried would be ok.

Chop up all the veg fairly small & add to a pan with all other ingredients , bring to the boil & simmer until thickened & reduced, this can take a while so keep stirring occasionally to stop the chutney burning or catching on the bottom of the pan. You could use a slow cooker without the lid for this bit. 

When nice & thick (remember it will thicken more on cooling) spoon into sterilised jars & store for 2-3 months.

Both of these are delicious with cold meats & cheese & make perfect homemade Xmas gifts.