Saturday, 20 October 2012

Memory moments - running out to gaze at the sunset.

Sometimes I don't have the words, but I want to share it with you.

Running out with the boys to the garages at the back of our house, because the sunset was just so stunning.  watching as they become silhouettes against the fiery sky.

Sighing and "Wowing" as the sky rolls out flame upon flame over our heads.

I know we don't have the best of views from anywhere in our house - and if you took a wander up the road for a few minutes - we'd have had the most stunning view of the downs, but the moment would have been gone by then.  Sometimes you just have to go with what you've got and this is our patch of paradise.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Well Worn Weekend

(I'll explain the picture later.)

Sometimes, no matter how much you'd rather it wasn't, the weekend can be the most hectic round of social events, washing, DIY, clubs and homework.

I was determined that this weekend we were going to have a chilled out family weekend.  The kind I remember growing up with as a child.  Long hours of relaxing, pottering, amusing oneself with trivial things, watching old films, eating scrumptious food and enjoying one anothers' company in a haze of blissful appreciation.
It was a good thought.

At first they run.....

Actually, the plan started on Friday with a clean of the house, receiving a food shop and a washing amnesty, plus baking a batch of apple and cranberry cake for the grown ups and a batch of brownies for the children. (Although a few did happen to fall onto our plates too.)  This way, I could avoid the chaotic madness of trying to do homework with various children, whilst putting a weeks worth of shopping away, dealing with 3 loads of washing and a mess of a house.  On my own.  While J took Ben to football for the morning.  That was last week and that was NOT good.  Not a happy house, not a happy mummy.

The plan this week was to dish out plenty of baked goodies, with plenty of cups of tea and one at a time, help the children do their project homework.  Followed by a Roast dinner on Sunday (which I never usually attempt midday!), a walk in the lovely sunshine and a "bread and butter" tea whilst watching a film together.
Now, a few things happened along the way that nudged the plan sideways (a trip to A&E with my mum, mid dinner on Saturday and then also the following morning.), but generally, we had decided to be chilled out, and that is what we managed.

....then he wants to be carried.....

I think what I realised, is that those blissful memories of my youth of endless hours of relaxation and fun at the weekends, were probably just that, for me - but facilitated by the love, care and nurture of my parents, who determined that family time was important and worked hard to make it happen.  A change of pace between working our socks off was important.  A knowledge that Home was a safe place where we could be ourselves was important.  Fun was important.  And I am so thankful that we were allowed the freedom in those hours of childhood to be children and PLAY.

...then his brother wants a carry too.....

This weekend, my friend Kelly ran her first ever half marathon, to raise money for a charity I have mentioned before - Children on the Edge.  It was a gruelling 13 miles, through sometimes rough terrain.  Thankfully the sun shone, but it was a freezing cold morning!

I'm mentioning this because it struck me that what we were so blessed to have this weekend, is not the story for so many children across the world.

In Haiti, children who have lost sometimes their whole family and home are given hope and a little snippet of childish fun through playing football at project COTE helps to fund.

In Romania they help to give children with disabilities and their families help to play together with able bodied children in bright, colourful spaces with friendly caring staff.

In East Timor, where children have been dragged though the horrors of conflict, they support a Child and Community centre which not only offers health care, nutrition, education, after-school and youth activities, plus psychological and health advice for parents, but also gives children space to be children again and play.

In Bangladesh COTE supports Learning centres for children who because of extreme poverty are working, when our children in the UK are enjoying the freedoms of childhood.. These child workers are given a meal, the opportunity to wash, attend lessons and crucially rest and play.

Where war, natural disaster, poverty and abuse rob children of the essential ingredients that make up a full childhood, COTE aims to give these things back.

It was a struggle to set aside time to relax this weekend and come together as a family.  It's a struggle to carve out a precious piece of time territory and mark it as sacred.  If it's that much of a struggle here, with these facilities, these beautiful surroundings, this plenty, this security, this love, this abundance....think of the battle COTE have.

Never take Play for granted. It's a powerful thing and it changes not only lives, but history.

Now - I promise I'll go all crafty on you again soon and bring you some pictures of pretty things, but in the meantime, cast your discerning eyes on the beautifully designed calender at the top of the post.  Created to raise money for the work Children on the Edge do across the world by Sussex based designer Sandra Isaksson, this beauty is a must have.  I already have my copy - because I am going to be Mrs Ultra Organised next year ;0) and I have a couple of Christmas presents sorted too- they are a steal at £5, every penny of which goes to bringing smiles to children.  There you go - I have solved two of your problems in one go - which calender to adorn you kitchen wall with next year and how to extend your love of children to the far reaches of the world. Perfect.  Buy yours here.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Inheritance Curry

I know, I know....two posts in one weekend, but for my sake as much as yours lovely readers, I wanted to get this down while I remembered!

We went for a lovely walk today in our local deer park, with all the boys and their two cousins.  It was truly breathtaking and we wondered all the way round how we miss such beauty on our doorstep all the time.  We have such and enviable view of the South Downs from here and we so seldom stand and stare at it.  Today was one to seize and we grabbed enough tea supplies for everyone and headed off to the park.  The boys let off some steam (which is exactly what they needed - I can testify to after a morning cooped up in the house and LOTS of screaming!) and we adults meandered behind them, chatting through family events, children growing up, what to plant in our gardens and the change of seasons.  Bliss.  A small picnic of tea and chocolate buttons, courtesy of Nanny Jane half way round and the perfection was complete.

J picked up a few of my Dad's old curry books this morning and brought them up to bed to browse with our morning cuppa (Brought up by our eldest 2 boys....can you believe that!!!).  We spent a while browsing through the various annotations my Dad had written under each curry.

Dad was an expert curry maker.  We spent a lot of our growing up years in Yorkshire, home of some of the Best curry houses in this country and Dad fell in love with this way of cooking.  Mum and Dad shared the cooking in our home and often with Dad, it was a curry, blended from the vast array of spices and peculiar ingredients he would seek out on his regular trips "Up North" to see family.  He built special shelves in the kitchen we grew up in for his spices and each one was kept in a different odd jar or tin, some labelled, some known by heart.  I pondered on this today as J and I scrabbled around trying to find the Garam Massala in the glass jars that had all come from the same supermarket and were ALL orange lidded.  There was a method in Dad's "clutter" of shelves.  He knew precisely where everything was and which container it would be in.  We set about scribbling names onto each lid.

J has decided that he would like to cook curry.  I am not going to argue.  I have a deep love of this food and the delicacy of flavours, breadth of ingredients and care and time taken over each dish.  He browsed through the books, finding one to start with and we laughed at the little notes Dad had left - "Margaret for dinner - mistake" on..."Cooked in pakora oil - not good"  Then the same curry 4 days later "Tried again, cooked properly this time - really good".  Then days my brothers moved in and out of the family home - marked with a curry.  Birthdays, Christmases, Anniversaries, friends, J and I moving into their home with our first child because we had nowhere else to live - all marked with a slap up Indian and the exhuberant generosity that my parents could not help.

Then gently tears as together we found references to how he was feeling this day or that.  Not so good.

Why am I sharing something so intimate with you?  Because this is the "stuff of life" as Dad would have said.  The little annotations left for me in these handed down books are not only a good guide as to which curry to cook, and how to cook it....they are my inheritance.  They are the little everyday stories that were the fabric of our family life.  Markers in our collective memories that evoke such vivid pictures, smells and flavours.  So precious and irreplaceable. More so than any money or jewel.

I am so pleased that J has taken up the wooden spoon and balti dish.  I know he's going to be an excellent Curry maker - he knows what a good one tastes like after all, thanks to years round the table in my parent's home.  And we will be writing in the book tonight, alongside Dad's beautiful swirling handwriting....

P.S.  J's curry was goooooood.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Full Tummy Blogging

What I've been up to this week - a heap of bag "kits" ready to be made up.
About 4 years ago, we were in the middle of a whole lot of things going on in this house.  My lovely hubby was in his final year completing a degree in Youth work (actually it had a much more fancy title than that which more truly represents the depth of what he was studying, but I can never remember it!) as a mature student.  We had 3 children under the age of 6 and I was well on my way to number 4. (Noah was born a couple of months after J finished his course.)  We had dedicated the tiniest bedroom in the house to study and we spent many many days with J hidden away at the top of the house, head in book and me downstairs, amusing 3 boys who desperately wanted to go spend Saturday with Daddy.  Around this time, J also moved from a job he had been in for 13 years, since he left school, into a new job.  Scary stuff.  Boy were we tired!

In the middle of all this I was listening to Woman's hour one day and heard about Jane Brocket and her wonderful blog, Yarnstorm.  For a few precious minutes each day, whenever I was allowed the time, I would sneak up to the study and sit amongst books about educational theory and Sexual Health training and gaze at the computer screen, completely absorbed in the colourful world of this creative person, who I felt was completely on the same wavelength as me.  I know this makes me sound very ignorant, but I had hardly heard of blogs and understood their potential before this point and I can say now, that finding this wonderful retreat was one of the things which got me through that challenging year.  It was also the inspiration for me to start this blog.  So, thank you Jane.

I was considering this morning how the blogasphere has exploded and how you can now find a blog about any subject you can imagine and how for us crafty types this is a massive blessing and source of inspiration.  When you are a mum at home with children, like I am currently and you feel like the walls are closing in (some days, not all), these blogs provide an open door to the world outside and the let colours flood in.

So, I thought as it's Friday and you may actually get a few moments to yourself over the next couple of days, I would share a few of my favourite retreats with you.

Anna Maria Horner is my go to blogger for an instant injection of colour and pattern.  She's an expert at combining designs to create a heady patchwork world of leopard print next to paisley, next to polka dot, next to peacock feathers.  A true artist and thinker, Anna manages to imbue her designs (she is predominantly a textile designer) with the Spirit of Creativity.  She's a constant inspiration to me, not only as a crafts person, but as a Mother.  She often brings me to tears. Have a look at her blog this weekend and you'll find writing and pictures that may make you do the same.

Lucy at Attic 24.  What can I say - if you haven't visited her yet....why not?!!!  I found her shortly after I found Jane Brocket and she is the main reason I finally learnt to crochet after all these years!  If you don't crochet - visit her blog and I challenge you to come away not wanting to learn.  Lucy is another Mum, and I love to read about her littlies - they remind me so much of my own. If you are after a dreamy escape with plenty of "oooooh!"-worthy pictures thrown in, this is the place for you.  Lucy's cheerfulness shines through and the way she picks out the beauty in every day things never fails to pick me up.

It also helps that she comes from my beloved Yorkshire and many of the pictures set me craving for a Dales fix.

This lovely lady is also responsible (in part, I am sure she would have me say) for the renewed interest in kaleidoscopic colour and even has quite a few shops offering "Lucy of Attic 24" style yarn combinations.  Yummy. Have a cup of tea and a browse.

One of Lucy's friends, Tracy has also recently started a blog and it's well worth heading over to sigh over her beautiful applique and utterly squeal-worthy hand made rabbits.  They each come with a little crochet jumper and clothes made form Liberty fabrics.  What more could you want?

While we're on the subject, Little Cotton Rabbits is beautiful.  I don't little brain only has room for crochet, so I am in total awe of the creations this lady makes.

 This is a soft, wrap you up in heavenly colours and cosy things blog.  Julie writes with honesty and gentleness about bringing up her children, one of whom is severely Autistic and being creative in the midst of this.  I admit that I sometimes pop over to her blog just to soak up the deliciousness of those little bunnies and end up reading post after post with tears rolling down my cheeks.

 It's a beautiful place to be and exemplifies the best of the blog world - knowing that someone is allowing you to glimpse their life and share their story, and feeling that you have come away richer.

If you're in love with all things Vintage, like i am - a happy place to be is Teawagon Tales.  I just adore the colours here.  There is a very soothing - everything is all right with the world feel to this blog and sometimes that's all that will do.

Pictures of restored teawagons, Dolly 1 and 2 and numerous vintage finds, plus the story of her shed - to -studio space make my heart ache.  That's a good thing.  Honestly.

Nanacompany is a fairly new find.  Amy is another hugely talented mum, whose pactchwork and quilting are a breath of fresh air.  This is all brightness, cheeriness and open skies.  None of your mustiness and faded colour here.  This blog is total sweetness.  It oozes with a generosity of spirit and delicious photos of all her latest projects (where does she find the time with 3 children?!!!).

Beautiful tutorials and lots of inspiration and a comforting appreciation of family.  Have a peek and I'm sure you'll want to grab your pincushion and scraps.

I think what makes me go back to a blog time after time is the human story.  I have realised that going through my 200 or so long roll of bookmarked pages. (oooops!) The ones that stand out to me are the ones where I feel I know or can get to know the person behind the gorgeous photos.  Don't get me wrong, I love a bit of crafty eye-candy, so there are times when I just want to see what people have made and get inspired.  I'm finding I use Pinterest more and more for this though.  Blogs to me are about finding other kindred spirits.  People you can make a connection with, even if you never meet them.  It's about feeling richer than you were, like you have had a good, tasty meal.  Not fast food.  That's good for 5 minutes, but you are hungry again half an hour later.  I hope this little lot will fill you up.

Open the door to the world and let the colour in.


P.S.  I LOVE it when you comment and let me know what you think - I'd love it if you share your favourite blogs with me too.  If you have trouble doing that - I know a few of you did last time, when it gets to the choosing a profile bit, scroll down to Anonymous and if you want to leave your name, put it into the comment.  Hope that helps. xx

Saturday, 22 September 2012

A Little Colour for the Soul

 Brrrrrr, it's a bit chilly tonight, but we are resisting putting the heating on just yet and I am dreaming that the defunct old 60's fire in our front room is actually a roaring log fire like Lucy's over at Attic 24!  Still - I have some colour to match hers tonight at least!

The top set is my favourite!  These are the mix of fabrics I have ready for the "Retro Funky" range of bags.

There's still a little colour in the garden too - especially as I treated myself to some of my favourites to warm up the border. 

This is the colourful display that has replaced the doll's house that was on this cabinet, which has now gone to a new home and to someone who will hopefully have a little more time to brighten it's walls than I did!  I love these old Ladybird books - especially for their cheery colours.

The massive reorganisation of the studio is almost at an end, just the cottons and ribbons to go, but they are in way too scary a state to go near at the moment.  Every now and then when my box of threads gets just too messed up, I have to take a pair of scissors in there and detach a "scribble" of coloured cords.  I usually think it looks quite beautiful to my eye - like a picture of our home - colourful chaos. (Order held together with threads of chaos i think I once called it!)  It did occur to me the other day that it was probably quite wasteful though, so the next job on the list is to make myself one of these!

We had a little wander down to the Pre-school Nature Garden opening today - which was lovely.  A perfect Autumnal day for a garden opening, the leaves just starting to turn, and a slight crispness in the air, but warm sunshine if you found a spot with a cup of tea in hand.  The littlies loved it too.  How blessed they are.

We also had a wander round the town as there was a Food festival on in the market square today.  A few loaves of bread were purchased and I came away a happy girl, with a bag full of goodies from this shop stall.  I walk past her window every day on the way to playschool and have often wondered about the sign in the window, offering repairs and alterations.  So lovely to meet Kerry today and see all her beautiful creations. The orange braid was today's find!

I've been so enjoying the little ones these last few days.  The arrival of a new niece in the family has been urging me to soak up the boys and their newness to the world as much as I can, while they are still new.  And even the eldest, who is a mighty 10 is relatively new, and knows so little still.  That's beautiful and I am thankful that they have been trusted to me and J.  I have this week enjoyed a walk ALL the way home from school hand in hand with said boy.  A rare and precious thing and one which I soaked up with all my being.  I have also enjoyed "love cuddles" with Noah - who announces regularly now in the middle of random activities, "Mum, I love ya".  Even Reu is wide eyed in wonder at the world and so eager to show me everything he is discovering.  I am trying to live in his wonder whenever I remember, as if it were the first time I too had seen a bird or butterfly.  I love his squeals of excitement!  Ben has been poorly this week, so I've had the opportunity to do some proper Mummery - cosying him up on the sofa with a cup of tea and books.  And the one I haven't mentioned yet, well, reading is the thing at the moment - what a precious gift I have remembered, it is to be able to read.  A friend introduced me to this wonderful website too.

As for me, I continue to gather up all my remaining energies to create.  In the light of all I've just said, I am constantly aware of the "one chance" nature of children and so, things at Redeem inch forward often a lot slower than I would love, but I have learnt to say to myself, that's OK, plenty of time....and I daydream instead of all the lovely things I'll one day have the time to make.....

For now, I wanted to share a little treasure I have been "doing up" - just for me.  It's not often I use valuable time to make something for myself these days, but it felt good to finally paint up this old sewing box that I had found months ago in a charity shop and had been taking up at least a third of the floor space in my studio ever since!  The intention was to have it beside the sofa in the living room, so that in the evenings, when I withdraw from the studio to be nearer the children, I can stash away all my bits and pieces, for and evening of cosy making.  What do you think?  It's a glimpse of the colourful room I have planned.  One day the living room will look like this....or this.....and I'll finally use these to cover the sofas!

See if you can spot a common thread....


I'm off to pour myself a glass of cider now - a memory of our holiday in Suffolk.  The perfect way to finish off the evening.