Friday 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from all of us to you and yours. May you have a wonderful Christmas and feel wrapped in love and joy.
Happy Holidays!
L xx

Sunday 6 December 2015

Forty Seven, Eight & Nine/52

Where the time goes no one knows.  The last three weeks have been full of things!  A had a school trip to the Leicester Space Station one week and came home buzzing about the things she saw.  L went to a pizza restaurant one morning and got to watch and assist the chefs in action.  She loved every minute and enjoyed coming home with the pizza she made, to share with her sisters.  The following week we also had a teacher meeting for L where we heard about how enthusiastic she was about learning and how sweet and motherly she was toward any new/shy/quiet classmates.  Awwww!  We had a workshop with H and her year group too, that proved more great fun and was very informative.

A and H also went to a surprise evening out with Mum to their very first ballet - The Nutcracker!  It was a special night and A in particular was absolutely enraptured with it.  She cannot wait to go to her next ballet!  L attended her first birthday party here and had a ball.  We all also had a couple of marshmallow toasting sessions over our fireplace over the last few weeks... and there will be many more in our future ;)

L xx

Wednesday 2 December 2015

November - 10 months and counting

The month started with the second half of school term resuming.  It was a fun and busy few weeks on the school front.  H had a trip to a transport museum, A to the space station, L to a restaurant.  There were a couple of workshops, H received a certificate at assembly and we had a teacher interview for L.  Along with all the other regular school things :)

The girls have also enjoyed a few playdates with lovely friends, the kids in the street and a birthday party.  We had a lovely bonfire and fireworks night with the people in our street - much to everyone's delight and enjoyment.  We had an entertaining visit to the doctor's office where the poor nurse thought she was going to remain deaf permanently after giving L vaccinations.  The first time any of our girls had screamed like that for their vaccinations.  It was loud... but amuzing :)

L and I had our embroidery date this month - such a delight that all three my girls have enjoyed these trips and trying their hands at this craft.  There have been regular weekly walks with a friend - an opportunity for a little extra exercise and getting to explore our suburb on foot.  Lots of the usual life goings on, Hubster spent a week in Spain for work, and as the temperatures dropped we had fun roasting marshmallows.

Many Christmas gifts were finally finished and sent off to their various destinations.  And now we start thinking about our first Winter Christmas here!  Exciting!

L xx

Friday 27 November 2015

*Freebie* Christmas Gift Box Decoration Tutorial

For the last 3 or 4 years I have enjoyed making Christmas decorations to give to various friends and family. There have been baubles, mushrooms and Christmas trees... and this year... little gift boxes!

I so enjoy the process of trial and error, refinement and ultimately... Success! It's (almost!) Christmas so I thought I'd share my pattern with you here... now you can make your own wee mountain of gifts : )

Gift Box Decoration Tutorial

You will need:
3.75mm crochet hook (or similar size)
Yarn (I just used what was around... mostly 8 ply)
Contrasting or Glitter/Metallic Yarn
Large Wool Needle

You are basically creating 6 continuous box faces, of a similar size, that should meet and join together nicely.  To start, chain 6.

Starting in the second chain from the hook, single crochet (sc) 5 to the end. Chain 1 and turn.
Complete 5 more rows (5sc across each).

In the next row, only sc into the back v's of the previous row.  This will create a line, like the edge of a box!

Continue working 5 more normal sc rows.
Then, again, work another row into the back v's only.
Continue working 5 more normal sc rows thereafter.
Tie off your work.

Your first piece should look similar to this.  One continuous piece that has three sections marked by the wee lines (they can be a bit hard to spot).

If you want, you can create another piece exactly like this one and simply join the two by hand.

Leaving a long tail, attach and start working a row of sc into the side of the middle section of your first piece.  (I've tried to indicate what I mean with the 5 pins in the picture above.)

Start with the right/lined side facing away from you.  This will ensure all the lines created will be on the same side of the work.  (The star on the picture below indicates where to start the attachment.)

After the initial row, continue to work 5 more normal sc rows.
Then, again, work another row into the back v's only.
Continue working 5 more normal sc rows thereafter.
Then, again, work another row into the back v's only.
Continue working 5 more normal sc rows thereafter.
Tie off your work.  It would be prudent to leave another longish tail.

This picture shows you where all your lines should show and the star indicates where the joining starts.

Grab your large wool needle and, using the long "corner" tail you left, start joining the sides together.   Line up the edge of the short side with the first line of the long side to guide the positioning.

Continue working around the sides to create the box shape.  Before you sew up the last face, you will need to pop a wee box inside to help it keep shape.

To make the box:  Draw a shape (as shown below) on a piece of card.  The sides of each face measures 2cm.
Cut your shape out and stick the sides together to form a box with cellotape.

Once you've popped your little box inside the cover, continue stitching up the edges to join all sides.

Now, if you like, you can just tie some string around it, decorate, add a loop for hanging... whatever takes your fancy.

Or alternatively...
Measure out some contrasting/metallic yarn.  For this stitch I "measured" a piece by wrapping it around the box three or four times and left a long long tail.  See the picture below.

Then proceed to make a chain stitch all the way around, then cross and go all the way the other way around.  I know, I have a way with words but... basically we are simulating ribbon around the four sides ;p

When you get back to the beginning, tie it off but leave the long tail and create a loop for hanging.  Make sure to fasten off and "hide" your ends when you are done.

Hopefully that mostly made sense.  If something isn't clear or you get stuck - please just sing out and I will try my best to help!

Thursday 19 November 2015

Bread Recipe - the UK edition

3 years ago I shared with you our bread recipe. To this day we still bake it almost daily. However, after landing in the UK we went through a period of trial and error as the yeast and flour was different. And so, I give you our UK version if anyone from around these parts is keen to give it a go!

In a bowl thoroughly mix together (just with a wooden spoon):
1.5 cups of water
2 tsps of Easy Bake Bread Yeast
3 cups of strong bread flour
1.5 tsps of salt

No kneading!  Cover with clearwrap and let it rise.   We usually mix the dough first thing in the morning and bake at night, or the night before bed to bake first thing in the morning.  You can easily let it rise for 12 - 18 hours if you wish.  Or if it's a hot day/warm room/you're in a hurry... it can be ready in as little as 2-3 hours or so.

Set the oven to 220'C.  Place an enamel covered cast iron pot (or anything with a lid that can take the heat) in the oven, to pre-heat at the same time as the oven is, until the oven is up to temperature.

Now turn the risen dough out onto a heavily floured surface.  This dough is super sticky so it pays to flour your hands too.  Shape it into a ball/oblong/whatever shape you like(!) and then pop it into the hot pot.  Be careful of that hot pot!

Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on.  After this time remove the lid and bake for a further 5 minutes or so without it, if it needs further browning.

It should come out smelling and looking delicious!  Place the bread on a wire rack to cool.

Points of note: 
- If you are using the same easy bake yeast as pictured below, I would not recommend adding it to the water first as it tends to clump up.  We stir all the dry ingredients together and then add the water before mixing the whole lot up.  Works a treat.
- We usually mix up the types of bread flour we use and use different combinations.  This is a very versatile recipe and you can add nuts, grains, make it a savoury loaf with bacon and cheese or sweet with cinnamon and chocolate!  Just experiment with what works.  We don't really measure any additions and haven't had a dodgy loaf yet!
-  Also, if you need a smaller loaf just reduce the ingredients by a third or half and bake for the same amount of time.  Everything still works just as well.  We have even used this mixture to make buns by splitting the dough and rolling flat round balls before baking them in the pot.
- Lastly.  Not all bread flour is equal.  Here we buy the Sainsbury's bread flour as we have found it delivers the best results and is no more expensive than other homebrands.

If you have any questions just send me a note. I'll try my best to answer/help! Enjoy :)
L xx

Sunday 15 November 2015

Forty Six/52

It's cooled down significantly this week but the leaves continue to be fun. Our brisk walks to and from school are still a great time for some interesting conversations. Hearing about the details from your days at school is such fun. You've made me laugh so much this week... I just wish I can remember even half of the things you three have come out with!

Friday 13 November 2015

We are diamonds taking shape

Haven't done one of these for a long time. Am absolutely loving this new track.
Happy weekend! xx

Sunday 8 November 2015

Forty Five/52

Bonfire week. Our street had a get together on Friday night and let off lots of fireworks. How you enjoyed it being dark enough to experience this! The delight of sparklers :) H went on a school trip to a transport museum at the beginning of the week and buzzed about it every day since. And on Saturday L and mum went to the open stitching day. You were absolutely determined to do back-stitching like your sisters even though many of the other ladies thought you would be better off with something simpler :) But you know your mind and you did beautiful back-stitching.

L xx

Monday 2 November 2015

9 Months in October

October was a beautiful autumnal month. Golden leaves everywhere. The sun started getting lower and daylight savings ended. Those beautiful sunbeams cast such a glow upon it all. It brought about more apple baking. And lots of baking in general. The oven seemed to be on more than it was off!

At school we had our first parent interviews, a reading workshop with L's year and made a hilarious times tables rap video with A as a homework assignment. Then mid-term break came along in the last week of October and we enjoyed slower mornings and a bit of a rest.

There were quite a few playdates and fun with the children of the neighbourhood too. And we had our first visitors come to stay! A real treat for us and a lovely opportunity to see our new city, not as tourists, but as hosts!

At the start of the month H and I set off to the open stitching session in town. Loved seeing my girl hone her skills. Christmas makes finally gained a bit of momentum too, in between pattern testing and custom order making.

Life continued to be full and busy but good. We are soooo looking forward to our first winter Christmas!
L xx

Sunday 1 November 2015

Forty Four/52

A great mid-term break. A playdate, reading, chilling, the odd movie, baking. And a lot of playing! We had great fun also working on a rap video for a homework project for A - we laughed and laughed and laughed. A backyard filled with gorgeous autumn leaves and light - made for some wonderful play and lots of laughter.

I often feel a bit gushie when it comes to you three - but my goodness... I look at those faces and I watch you going about your day-to-day's... pieces of my heart walking around outside my body, and it is full and bursting with love and joy.
L xx

Sunday 18 October 2015

Forty Three/52

Playing with the kids in our street. So happily - so many smiles, so much laughter. It was the last week of school before mid-term break and we are looking forward to down-time. H's year had a small production of school to demonstrate some of the things they learned at topic during the term. H spoke loud and clearly when it came to her part... Another proud motherly moment :) Other mothers even came to me to comment about the top-notch projection ;) SA played NZ in the world cup Semi's - we had a divided and passionate household. H siding with Mum, L and A siding with Dad... but at the end we could all pat each other on the back. Love seeing how enthusiastic you all are and hope we continue to have such great sporting spirit.
L xx

Forty One & Two/52

Two more weeks that absolutely flew by. There were various workshops at school with both A and H and then there were also parent meetings. Our A is a "diamond" and if only there were more H's in class! Proud and delighted mummy :) It is such a joy to hear how well you both are doing and how happy you are at school. This school year is off to a great start and you are both fully engaged, involved and thriving.

We also had some familial visitors stay for a couple of nights... we had such a lovely time and you girls especially loved having them here. Lots of reading, chatting, "look at me!" There was choir, football, homework, a lot of rugby watching(!) and life in general - life and it's knack for absolutely zooming by.

L xx

Sunday 4 October 2015


A: Apple collecting/picking from a neighbour down the street. Such fun :) During the week we finally had some friends around after school for a baking/play session. All 7 of you had such a great time - tearing around the place, climbing trees, baking, decorating, eating and playing games. It is really so lovely to see some of the gorgeous friends you've made and being able to have these occasions.

H: You and I went to the monthly embroidery get together over the weekend. You loved stitching and I was hugely impressed with how beautiful your work was. We had a lovely sushi lunch in which you devoured your food - much to my amuzement :) A special one-on-one time for us.

L: We made some hand puppets together one morning at school this week - you are so very clear on what you do/dont want and like and very good at giving "direction". You are loving school - everyday you come home full of beans and joy and stories and stickers. Tired but happy :)

L xx

Friday 2 October 2015

September = 8 Months

Although there were no big events or trips or anything like that this month, it went by in such a blur. It was mostly dominated by the start of the new school year for the girls. A and H started during the second week and were off to a rip-roaring start. They are fully engaged and loving it. Both are going to a performance/drama/singing club and H is back into her football coaching.

Of course the most significant (mostly for me probably!) is our little L also starting school in September. She has been ready for months... if not a couple of years(!), and has thrown herself into it whole-heartedly after counting down all those sleeps. 8 months earlier than it would have been in NZ... adjustment and change is our friend :) On our last day together we went off to a theme-park with a few new school friends.  And then there was a school trip at the end of the first week where we had fun building a den in the forest and seeing animals.

Work for D is still challenging and full-on but that is his wheelhouse :) Our weekends were mostly home-based as we recover from our different states of tiredness. Though we went to visit a wee farm one Sunday afternoon, A and I had a day out and were joined by a friend at an open embroidery stitching session at the city library.   Of course the Rugby World Cup started so naturally a few games were watched to varying degrees of enthusiasm ;p

There were a couple of impromptu playdates and the beginnings of new friendships too.  We have been going apple crazy as a neighbour generously gifted us bags of apples every couple of weeks.  Muffins, tarts, biscuits, cakes, pies, crumbles, baked deserts.... filling our tummies and those of our neighbours and friends too :)  Sharing is caring!

Not terribly much happened on the crafting front...tested a wee pattern, made a tiny amount on Christmas gifts and a very small birthday gift.  It never fails to amaze me how full life is and how quickly the days go... hard to keep track sometimes but we are happy and cant complain :)

Onwards to October!
L xx