Friday, 27 November 2009

Lucky Hen

Oooh, squeal, the door bell rings and there just for me is a whopping great parcel! More excitingly, it's not my birthday, it's not Christmas, but it is my fabulous much-anticipated parcel from my penpal, Vanessa. I scribble something on the postie's electronic screen (may as well have been a cross!) and dash upstairs to my den and start brandishing the scissors!

But I come to my senses (a little bit) and pick up the camera because I just know this is going to be fab-u-lous and I want to share it with you, you, you!

Ooh, look at this pinky loveliness. This is just my envelope from Vanessa, there will be goodies within, I know, but I am going to have to keep this envelope and put it up on my pin board.

There's more inside the box, more polka-dotty enclosed beauties. Let me at it! I am actually a grown woman, it's true, just in case you've never read my blog before and think I am about 5. Honestly.

No, that's right, I am very mature and so I am going to take my own medecine, do as I always ask the Munchkin to do, and read the card first. Truth be told, I'm eeeking the whole experience out, just want my joy to last that little bit longer if possible...

Aaarrgghhh! Who is this furry beast? As soon as you sit down in the HenHouse, it's pretty much guaranteed you will soon be covered by a furry friend, very likely Jacky-Ginge. He doesn't disappoint...

He seems not to have realised that he is ruining my photo shoot. Vanessa's card features Vorey, not Jacky-Ginge!

Ok, I have read and enjoyed the card very much, feel privileged that Vanessa lets me into her life. I'm also surprised and impressed she's managed to get this parcel together as I know she is a very busy lady. I very much appreciate it.

Look at that lot, how exciting is that?!

I dive into the first package. I'm sorry but yes, it was very un-ladylike, very 5-year-old-like. Revealed in all its glory is this cute little tin house with Stanley on the side and inside, it's full of seasonal goodies. Hmm, I am going to have to hide this or I can see it disappearing to a certain very yellow bedroom on the second floor!

I do pause quite a while and read and admire each of Vanessa's labels over which she has clearly taken so long; she knows I love these.

I move onto to something to "keep me warm". As if the pale blue polka dots are not yummy enough, inside I find pinky polka dotty tissue. Scrumptious. Truly!

Inside the tissue I can see some bright colours and I kid you not, I start hyper-ventilating a bit. It can't be, can it?

Oh but it is! Jump up and down excitedly and fondle the stunning scarf, it looks beautiful as you can see and I can tell you, it feels beautiful too, so soft and tactile. Vanessa posted about her scarf, she designed this pattern herself, a while back and I admit that I sat salivating over the screen. A lot.

And here is my very own. Yipeeeee!!! Straight away, I cannot help thinking that this divine scarf is going to look simply fab with my new coat, delivered just the day before. I race off downstairs and grab the coat.

Aaaarrggghhh!!! What is it with these furry friends? Can I have nothing just for myself?

Much as Vorey might have marvellous taste, especially for something he can spot is going to be darned cosy and warm, the photo is blurred as you can see, because my hand is dashing to get him off! Scoot!

I found the whole present-cat-thingy rather amusing as Vanessa had been telling me about her dogs in her card and discussing how we are loathe to move our cosy friends once they have settled down somewhere invariably inconvenient (Hugo and I that is!)

More scarf shots? I know, I know, but please... just indulge me! As you can see, I have rather an attractive collection going on here. For some reason, all three of these jackets/coats are blue and there is a selection of pretty scarves with a bit of a pinky thing going on. The other lovely woolly scarf was a birthday present from a friend I have made through blogging. It came to me as a complete surprise and has been on its travels all over the show keeping my neck warm. Now I'm happily spoiled for choice. Lucky, lucky me.

Back upstairs I whizz, after my happy moments with coats and scarves, because I've more gifts to see to, oh yes indeedy. I am overjoyed to open and find this gorgeous plate from Vanessa. Such beautiful colours, so very me, don't you think?

As you can see, there were even more goodies! Greengate napkins, pretty and practical lotions for my hands and a very useful and lovely enamelled pot.

I start to tidy away, my blood pressure getting back to normal a bit, and I undo all the pretty baker's twine and I put all Vanessa's stunning gift tags together. I just love the colours. Whenever I attempt to paint, which is thankfully very seldom, I am frustrated because I am too impatient to mix the colours properly. But Vanessa's colours are just gorgeous. Very much Hen colours too, aren't they? Very much Hen and Vanessa colours in fact!

It's uncanny, really. Vanessa and I seem to have rather similar tastes and certainly, the exchanges which have taken place between Vanessa and I have been the most fantastic type of swap because I can unreservedly say, every parcel is a delight to open because I am really rather sure I am going to love what's inside. She has taste, that lady! She also has a very good heart, doesn't she? To go to all this effort just for me? I can certainly say, this is the best type of penpal ever (along with my dear sister and let's face it, we've had the benefit of donkey's years to get to know each other) and I'm so glad Vanessa and I have started this. It's lovely to have a moment like this, a moment just for you because you don't get that a lot when you get older, do you? When you have children, partners, animals, responsibilities, that always seem so much more important than yourself. So, thank you, Vanessa, my friend, for doing this. Just for me. You are a star.

Happy weekend.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

On the Go

Well, I still haven't planted up those primulas. Beautiful though, aren't they?
I have a particular thing for the ones with the coloured inner rings on their petals. I'm sure there's a proper word for it.
Today has actually turned out to be rather pleasant and would provide perfectly acceptable conditions for a primula planting session. It would also be lovely to sit and put my feet up...
But no, no, I am far too busy! I picked up some fabric from the collection office (and grudgingly handed over £12.01 in charges to get my parcel released). The fabric came from Sew Mama Sew!, ordered some time ago now. They are a lovely, sweet collection, very reminiscent of 1930's prints I think. Perfectly "homespun" in their charm.

So last week I got the scissors out and made merry with a few of my vintage embroidered cloths, combined them with the pretty new-to-me fabrics, some Cath K ribbon, a spot more embroidery, buttons and elastic, and a few more covered notebooks came into being.

It's quite difficult to find vintage embroidery on coloured backgrounds so I was pleased to give a home to this green one but as it was a little piece, I decided it might be better incorporated into something new. Et voila!
I found some attractive (and useful!) slimline diaires and decided to give them a revamp too. They are charity diaries for Cancer Research.
Finally, I snipped up a large damaged tablecloth, finally cut into my pretty Cath K polka dot ribbon and made some A6 notebook covers, always a handy size.
If you fancy treating yourself or have the perfect recipient in mind, you can have a look at them here.
That's not all, though. Today after school, is the Munchkin's school's Christmas fair and so I have been very busy in the kitchen. I have a few goodies piled up to go in the hall but that was definitely a bad idea as I feel like pinching a gingerbread each time I go past! I just couldn't stretch to the lurid icing this year.
For now though, I think I've been quite productive and I need to refuel before I am faced with all those hordes of hungry school children who inevitably head straight for the cake stall once the bell goes. I do think it would be wise to check my lemon drizzle cake, though, as I've never made it before.
Quality control, you know!

(My apologies that this post looks a bit strange but I wrote it in my emporium by mistake and when I imported it into my blog proper, it looked rather bizarre!)

Monday, 23 November 2009

Cosy Crochet

Here we are, another week, another load of rain! Here's hoping you all enjoyed a good weekend and I know we mustn't complain about the rain which is nothing here as compared with poor Cumbria. This weekend was quite a relaxed affair which was rather nice and well overdue, I can't remember the last weekend we were at home we've been away so much. With all the nasty weather, there was no chance of planting my primulas which I optimistically purchased last week. It was just perfect for snuggling up indoors in front of the fire after a large roast dinner and getting on with a bit of hooking, though. Yippeeeee!

Having spent many an hour adoring Rosehip's blog (again!) last week, I was prompted to buy (another) crochet book which Beata had bought and from which she seemed to be crafting some rather delightful things. I particularly was loving her crochet-edged pillowcases and lusted after my own. I also had another project for which I was shortly going to be in need of a pretty edging. Convinced? Me too. So, off to Amazon Hen virtually went, and a few days later, there it was...

Oh my, let me tell you my friends, I am mightily pleased with this book. Leaving aside the fact that it is incredible eye candy, there are many gorgeous projects which I really can see myself doing and there is a brilliant introductory section at the beginning which taught me a lot, even beyond the basics.

The projects are split into three sections: Fashion, Accessories and Home. At the back there is a fourth section containing an excellent stitch directory which has many edging patterns (some vintage-inspired), a lot of motifs (grannies, hexagons, triangles) and also stitch patterns, some quite unusual. Shall we have a look? The weather, as I've bemoaned, is dodgy today so the photos less than perfect, I'm afraid.

In "Fashion", I am loving the harlequin edge to this dress and have a dress I could definitely use for this. That said, I can see this pattern working in many other scenarios too.

This edging shall be adorning my blue spotty mac as soon as I get round to it...

Revamp your shoes? With crochet? Who would have thought it?

As well as perfectly clear and concise instructions, there are excellent diagrams. I do love a good diagram.

In "Accessories", I've singled out this bird brooch, isn't it sweet and I think this would be a perfect adornment in many projects. Must give that a go (my mental list of projects is getting longer by the minute)!

Moving into "Home", I do love these trivets. I have seen images in mags with lots of them hung on a wall, purely as decoration and they look fab. Would I be putting my scorching hot pans on these though. Errrm, I don't think so!

I am rather taken with this crocheted bowl too. I have a little pencil pot along these lines which I bought from a local shop and I've been wondering how they did it. I shall wonder no longer (another one for the endless list).

Finally, this is a rather yummy shot, isn't it?

I put the book into use straight away. While we were away in Yorkshire I started on a round crochet cushion having seen some gorgeous ones in Anne's fabby shop. This is a project which had long lingered on my to-do list but I was galvanised into action! I started following a pattern in an old vintage copy of Bazaar (a personal favourite of mine). A slight hiccup ensued when I ran out of yarn part way through the first side. You see, I only ever really buy single balls of yarn because I just make little itsy bitsy things and I know that I can always get the Rowan yarn for my (never-ending) granny blanket. But oh no, a trip to the shops informed me that the yarn had been discontinued, shock horror. But oh, for the joys of the internet. I mean really, how did I cope without this marvel? Off I went and tracked down some more, half price too!

So, the first and second halves of the cushion completed, I yesterday crocheted them together, made a cushion for the inside (used pink fabric as I think having a white cushion inside dilutes the colourful yarn somewhat) and then came the important decision. The "adornment decision".

We three here in the HenHouse had a little discussion about whether to crochet the shell edging in my new green yarn or a rather yummy turquoise. 2-1: the green won. I used the pattern for shell edging as per the mackintosh in "Crochet Adorned". I decided I wanted a little posy of flowers in the centre. All these are made from the patterns for the flowers you see on the front of the book, adorning the cardi (one with a little alteration). They look a bit naff in this close-up photo, bear with me please!

Now I must apologise that I can't take a full-on shot of the cushion, my latest pride and joy, there is a reason for this. A reason which, I'm afraid was really rather expected, as Mr HH pointed out, because there is a certain furry creature round here who is rather partial to a spot of warm, woolly, oh-so-cosy and cuddly crochet. You likely spotted him hogging the banner at the top of the page!

Really, given he is cosying up with my new (most beloved and long awaited) cushion, you'd be forgiven for thinking that he might look a bit more gracious, as opposed to his , "I was asleep, your annoying camera flash has woken me up" face. The "Please go away, I am not going to look directly at the lens however long you wait" kind of look?

Secretly, Mr HH was right (drat!) I was rather thrilled by the little scene I found when I stepped into the bedroom mid-morning! I do love Charlie-Boy, cannot say "no" to him, he is the most marvellous cat, such a character. Such great taste in home furnishings, too, don't you think?!

Did you spot my lovely flowers, over there on my little bedside table? I just adore anemones, all those vibrant, clashing colours and at two bunches for £1, out in the rain, late on Saturday afternoon, how could I say no?

I've been indulging in some great bedtime reading recently. Mr HH bought me The Flower Shop for my birthday and I have already started snipping my flower stems on an angle and adding a touch of bleach to the water in the vase.

The Kaffe Fassett book, Quilt Romance, is his latest one and has scrummy photos. The location for the photos is Portmeirion in North Wales, Clough Williams-Ellis's Italianate village, (and the setting for the 1960's show "The Prisoner") which I have long loved as my parents used to take me there when I was younger and indeed, I fulfilled a little dream when Mr HH, the Munchkin and I rented a cottage there a few years ago. It really is a stunning place so this book is brilliant because it affords me a wonderful ogle at beautiful quilts in a beautiful setting. What more can I ask for?

Jane Brocket's book is an old favourite and probably most regularly to be found beside my bed. It's a bit like a blog in a book.

Aren't they stunning, and so cheerful, my bargain basement anemones?

By the way, I've been a busy little bee and have done a fair bit of updating over in my blogshop. You might fancy a look if you are making inroads into your Christmas shopping or fancy treating yourself.