Poultry problems and purple patches 

Since we moved our feathered friends into their new 5 star pad a couple of months ago, and introduced 4 new girls to the coop, things have been somewhat….. unharmonious. We lost 2 of our older, smaller girls, Rolo & Beyonce, within a couple of weeks. After some close observation, we soon realised that Chickoletta was ruling the roost, but the way she was going about it was just downright nasty. The majority of our girls were getting pecked to pieces . She seems to have taken a disliking to everyone. They’ve mostly been pecked around their bottoms and are missing a lot of feathers.

We’ve used an antiseptic spray on them to soothe their sore bits but it’s bright purple! That’s meant to be less attractive to peck at, although it doesn’t seem to be working. Poor Bluebell has had it the worst. She’s lost all her beautiful tail feathers and the ones from the back of her head!

We researched online about chicken behaviour and tried all the suggestions, like making sure there’s always plenty of food and water available so there’s no fighting over it. Keeping them entertained, I went to our local community shop (a bit like a charity shop) and bought a mirror for them and even a xylophone believe it or not! Apparently, they peck at it to make music. Turns out ours are neither vain nor musical. After exhausting all our options and not having anywhere to keep her separate from the rest, we decided it was time to find Chickoletta a new home. I wondered if anyone would take her given her nature, but there’s nothing to say she’d be the same with some different friends. When she’s on her own she’s actually quite tame and happy to be handled. I put some feelers out a few days ago, and today Chickoletta has gone to live on a little farm called Forget me not Care farm. It’s a lovely little place attached to a garden centre not far from us. She’s been put in with some big girls so hopefully they’ll put her in her place. And now, fingers crossed, our remaining chicks will heal, grow some new feathers and start laying eggs again and live happily ever after.

Losing my crojo 

I think my crojo has gone on a temporary holiday. I haven’t crocheted for a good few weeks now. I’ve been full of good intentions but when it’s come to actually grabbing a hook and a ball of yarn, it’s just not happened. The last thing I made were some cotton coasters. I only just got round to taking a photo of them today, they’ve been sitting on the dresser, patiently waiting for their snap happy creator to share them with the world. That’s not like me either, I’m usually there with my iPhone at the ready, the second a project is finished.

My whole coaster journey started in the middle of April would you believe!

And it was on my mental to-do list way before that. Maybe my crojo has been absent for longer than I realised. I can’t remember how long it took me, but I produced a little collection of different styles of coaster.

Quite a happy, bright & colourful sight when I look at them here.

Once these were done, I was then meant to start making a set of each design to build up my stock of ready-to-sell items. Well instead I got stuck into many, many niggly little jobs around the house. You know the ones where for possibly years, you’ve been saying, “I must do that” every time you see it. I’ve actually done quite well and I’m feeling quite proud of my achievements. I’m not done yet but can see the light at the end of the tunnel. My mind is feeling a lot more organised, so I’m hoping if I get a few more jobs done, my crochet urges might come back with a vengeance. I think maybe there’s something psychological going on, like I shouldn’t be sitting there crocheting while there’s jobs to be done. I’ve often felt pangs of guilt when I’ve left dishes piling up on the side while I’ve been hooking away.

Anyway, in very small gaps between domestic duties , I managed to get one set done, it felt like it took me forever.

I don’t know when I’ll get cracking on more coasters yet. I’d kind of like to start work again on a blanket I started over 2 years ago. A blanket for me! I don’t actually have much in the way of crocheted items for me so it would be nice. It is a real labour of love though. I’ll be sure to show you my progress next time, that’s if my crojo ever comes back!

 My slimming world journey 

For most of my life, I have been extremely lucky to have had no issues with my weight. I was always able to eat whatever I liked without having to worry. I probably took it for granted. The last couple of years though, as I’ve hit the wrong side of 40, I’ve noticed the pounds slowly piling on. It probably didn’t help that I’d also become quite comfortable with myself, very happily married and settled. They say people put on weight when they’re happy or comfortable. But then that can lead to unhappiness and feeling uncomfortable! We can’t win! For some time I’d been feeling unhappy with my weight but didn’t have the willpower on my own to do anything about it. I needed that kick up the bum that you just can’t get from going it alone at home. It got to the point where I realised I had to do something. There’s nothing like the short, sharp shock of catching yourself half dressed in the changing room mirror in TK Maxx to make you google your nearest Slimming World group. On the 9th January 2017, I did it. I needed help and sought it in the form of my local Slimming World group. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’d heard so many positive stories from friends about their weight losses, and online too. In fact, I hadn’t heard anything bad about Slimming World at all, and that’s because it works.  If you’re serious about changing your lifestyle for good, for a healthier, happier one, then I’d highly recommend it. I remember after that very first meeting, getting given your book and various leaflets, and having sat and listened to everything, my head was in a complete spin.  It was so much to take in.  It didn’t help that when I got home, my hubby was constantly saying, but how? How can it work? I don’t understand how you can lose weight while still eating all the things you can eat. It was driving me crazy, but you have to not think about how it works because you’ll never get your head around it.  You have to just trust it and go with it.  If you follow it, and are honest with yourself and your food diary, it will work.  It may take a little while, but slowly and surely is certainly a better way to lose weight and keep it off for good. You have to remember it’s not a diet, but a change of lifestyle.  You have to make it work for you and you have to be flexible.  Life happens sometimes like birthdays, celebrations, meals out & holidays.  No-one is expecting you never to enjoy yourself again, it’s all about the choices you make. And preparation, that is KEY. For instance, if you’re going out for the day and will be out over lunchtime, either take a packed lunch with you, or plan ahead and look at the menu for where you’ll be going.  There’s often things on the menu that are completely syn-free, or low-syn at least.  You can also ask for your salad to come with a dressing on the side so you can control what goes on.  Choose a jacket potato or new potatoes over chips.  Have chicken breast or steak which are quite common on lots of menus.  Some places might also be able to cook your food more healthily if you ask.  I’m pretty sure whipping out a can of frylight from your bag is taking it a bit far though! But frylight is your new best friend.  I found that lots of the meals I made before can simply be made SW friendly by swapping the olive oil for frylight. I was only thinking a few weeks ago, that when you join up to slimming world, they should issue you a little welcome pack containing a can of frylight, a Hi-Fi bar, a pencil for drawing a line under it (i.e. when you’ve had a bit of a bad week!) and a description of what quark is! I’m pretty sure most people have no idea until they join slimming world. I might suggest that little pack idea to Paula, our lovely consultant.

Anyway, I hadn’t set myself a time scale for achieving my target, but a couple of weeks ago, I did it! Actually, a couple of weeks earlier I’d hit my original target, but decided that a few more lbs off would be my ideal weight. So anyway, I did it, I hit my final target!

I was over the moon! Throughout it all though, I had this really strong determination that I would succeed, that I was strong and could do this. It came from somewhere deep inside because I never used to have this kind of willpower. And no matter what, I would keep going until I won. It’s a great feeling. It was definitely worth the hardship and the hard work. And it has been hard at times. On the food side of things especially. We’ve seemed to have had quite a lot of meals out and celebrations that you just can’t not be a part of. It’s part of life. I always used to look forward to meals out and parties, but since being a member of Slimming World, it’s been something you dread, which is a shame. But that’s also where your flexibility comes into play. If you save some syns for that special occasion you can still enjoy it, without ruining all your hard work. Some weeks were harder than others but I just had to tell myself that whatever the scales said, I could just draw a line under it (that’s when that pencil would come in handy!) and get back on track. 

Now, to exercise. Body magic, as they call it in slimming world. It’s not a necessity, but it sure does help. And I’d become so unfit. I never realised. My starting slimming world actually coincided with Jude starting preschool, so I’d already incorporated a regular walk to and from school twice a day into my routine without even trying. I also try to walk the dog every day although it’s not always possible. Around February time, I took the big brave step of joining the gym. Nothing fancy, just the council one. My aim was to get there about twice a week, I’m averaging around once a week at the moment but I’m trying to fit a workout at home in too. That can only happen on a Tuesday when I have the house completely to myself for a couple of hours. I just couldn’t do it in front of anyone else, I’d be too embarrassed. Now I’ve gotten into the swing of things, I’m really loving it. It makes me feel so much more energised and I feel bad on the days I don’t get to do anything. I feel like it’s really making a difference to my health which can only be a positive thing.

Here’s a few facts for you. It was all little by little.

It took 18 weeks to achieve my target weight.

My biggest loss was 3.5 lbs in one week.

I gained 1 lb on one week.

I maintained my weight on 3 separate weeks.

My total loss was 1 stone 8 lbs.

I dropped a dress size although it wasn’t my intention.

Since hitting target, obviously the aim is to maintain your weight. It’s recommended that you add an extra ‘B’ option to your daily intake. I’ve been doing this mostly, but have also been allowing myself a few extra syns here and there. Largely of a congratulatory kind. Well I deserve a treat for doing so well don’t I? This is a slippery slope and before I find myself slipping down without any control, I need to stop and get back on track. And I do feel like I’m getting back in the zone now, I’m hoping it was just a temporary glitch, an adjustment if you like to my new lifestyle.

One bonus to dropping a dress size is needing new clothes. I used to have some size 10 clothes hanging around at the bottom of my wardrobe hoping that one day I might get back into them. Last year I finally faced facts and got rid of them! Typical! Saying that though, they’d probably be a bit dated now anyway. It’s been a real treat to go clothes shopping, looking for size 10’s that actually fit me. The saying “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels ” is very true.

Some of the small changes that I made that I think will stick with me forever is changing from semi-skimmed milk to skimmed. 6 months ago I’d never dream of saying that. To me, skimmed milk was virtually water with a splash of milk in, yuk. But now I find my tea tastes awful if it’s got semi-skimmed milk in. And although I still crave a nice, thick slice of white toasted bread, smothered in real butter, I think it’s wholemeal all the way now. Knowing what the difference it makes to my weight has really opened my eyes. Eggs are something I’ve never eaten so much of in my life! But I love them and they’re so versatile. Our girls can’t lay enough for us so we have to buy loads too. But salads are what have really helped me, loads and loads of speed and really tasty too.

I do miss baking, you know, things like fairy cakes, cookies, all the things that are soo bad for you. But I’m always on the hunt for slimming world friendly recipes. I’ve made the weetabix cake a couple of times now, it tastes quite a lot like bread pudding. And I’m close to getting a near perfect brownie recipe. These aren’t completely healthy, but are low in fat and syns. Nice for when the sweet tooth is craving something scrummy.

Although I’ve reached my target, my journey is far from over. I need to ensure I don’t stray away from my new lifestyle. I don’t want to undo any of my hard work. It’s all about planning and preparation. And when things like holidays come up, I fully intend to eat and drink what I fancy. But I know I can prepare in advance for this and also know what I need to do to pull it back if needs be.

It’s taken me quite a while to write this, I suppose it’s a lot to fit into one post. I probably should have done it gradually, as I was going. But hindsight is a wonderful thing. I also regret not taking any before and after pictures or measurements. Part of me feels like I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved, but another part of me almost feels a bit of a fraud. After all I didn’t have that much to lose. So many people join slimming world with a far more arduous task ahead of them, and I applaud each and every one of them. Because recognising you need to take action is half the battle. You have to want it, if your hearts not in it, you won’t succeed. But for me, it’s one of the best things I ever did, and I’ve no doubts at all that this is me now, no going back. 

After hitting ‘publish ‘ I realised I forgot to add this photo……..

I lost just a bit more fat than this….. gross! X

A bank holiday craftathon 

Last bank holiday Monday ( you know, the one almost 2 weeks ago now!) was a miserable one for sure, well we are in Britain after all. My hubby had to work as usual and my poor little boy woke with a high temperature, so a day indoors it was. I had some cards to make and had been waiting for an opportunity to get all my stuff out and make a big mess in the dining room. The first thing I needed to make was a wedding card and gift. I’d had in mind how I wanted the card, not too slushy, not too fussy, and not too serious. I think I managed to achieve that.

For their gift, I knew I wanted to make something rather than buy it. I couldn’t think of anything I could crochet that would be appropriate so ended up trawling through Pinterest for inspiration. I decided upon a personalised box frame. It was tricky as I don’t know what their decor is like, or their style, so I kept it very simple and neutral. Kind of less is more.

I do hope they like it. I really enjoyed making these personalised pieces, I’d like to make more in the future.

The second card I wanted to make was a thankyou card for the very talented Eleonora from Coastal Crochet. I was lucky enough to be picked out of the hat in her giveaway. I won her beautiful Coastal wall hanging, you can read my post about it here. I really wanted to make a Coastal themed card as it seemed very appropriate but I couldn’t for the life of me think of a design. So, as her work inspires me so much, with the wonderful colours she uses, I decided a simple rainbow coloured card would be ideal.

What do you think? I really like it. It was simple (yet surprisingly time consuming!) but effective. I still felt I needed to send something Coastal related, so on Wednesday morning, with the weather looking spectacular, Jude & I headed to the seaside with pepper the dog. The sole purpose was to collect a few shells from our little stretch of coastline to send with the card.

But we got so much more from our little visit. It was absolutely beautiful and although Jude had been under the weather all week, the fresh air was very much needed after being cooped up indoors for days.

We had great fun, along with Pepper the dog, crunching over these shells. The beach is such a peaceful place to visit. I really must do it more often, whatever the weather. I say that every time I come but I really must make the effort, I’m sure I won’t regret it.

Happy hooky hydrangeas

After I finally took down my Easter decorations, my jug of branches looked very forlorn and bare. I decided it needed some yarny love. After seeing Lucy’s pattern (find it here) on Attic 24 for her hydrangea flowers, I thought they’d be perfect. I adore hydrangeas and often have jars and vases of dried ones around the house. These crochet ones are very delicate and pretty, exactly what I wanted to go with the theme in my dining room.

I selected some beautiful pastel colours from my stash.

The flowers are really quick and easy to make which has been great for me to just do a couple here and there as my hooky time is always so limited. With this gorgeous weather we’ve been having, where better to do some creating than in the garden?

I made 2 of each colour to see how they looked. I think that’s just enough. I’m loving the new stylecraft shades, I chose the mushroom and vintage peach for this project but am itching to use the buttermilk too.

Don’t they look pretty? I couldn’t wait to get them hung on their little branches.

There, what do you think? They cheer that corner up loads don’t they? I think that’s got to be one of the quickest little projects I’ve done in a long time. I feel like I’ve achieved just a little bit of crafty goodness which makes me very happy indeed .

The tale of two bread bins 

I love old retro and vintage kitchenalia. It stirs up so many memories from my childhood, mainly from being at my grandparents houses, and helping out in the kitchen with baking and washing up. I always remember the enamel bread bin my dads parents had. There was always a lovely unsliced loaf of soft, white bread on the go. I also remember watching one of my all-time favourite tv programmes, The Good Life ( which I’m currently re-watching for the 200th time!) 

They too had one of those bread bins, (look in the background of the picture above) I guess they were very popular back in the day. Well, about 7 years ago, my hubby and I visited the beautiful town of Shrewsbury. It’s very picturesque, has some amazing little shops and is just a perfect place to spend a day mooching with your nearest and dearest. It was special too as we were newlyweds and had a rare day to ourselves while the kids were in school. We found this little underground antiques shop and spent ages wandering around looking at all kinds of unusual things. We came across, you guessed it, a vintage enamel bread bin! I fell in love with it instantly, and with my hubby being the generous chap he is, it was whisked to the till and purchased for the full asking price of £18. They certainly made things to last back then, its one of those things that I hope to pass on to the kids one day, that’s if they share my taste in quality vintage items. Doubtful. 

Last year, my uncle was having a sort through some of my nan and grandads things, as he moved into their house after they both sadly passed on. He came across their bread bin and immediately thought of me! His words were, you’ve got a knack of turning trash into treasure, but this is no trash. To me, this is already treasure, brimming full of wonderful memories. Because of the distance between me and the rest of my family, it’s taken almost a year for me to get this. My mum brought it up with her on her last visit. Here it is, reunited with one of its family members….

It’s virtually identical! My nan and grandads one is on the right. The font is slightly different, well what’s left of it, but that just adds to the charm. It put mine to shame so I had to give it a bit of a spring clean. I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to use it for yet or where it’s going to live. It’s currently in my dining room being used to store a load of pine cones I foraged the other week from the park ready for doing Christmassy things with. But it could possibly be a yarn store or something equally crafty. Who said bread bins have to store baked goods?

I got post!

Last week I entered a giveaway competition to win a crochet wall hanging that was designed and made by the very talented Eleonora from Coastal Crochet. I thought no more about it afterwards, as most people do, thinking they have no chance of actually winning. Low and behold, last Friday, I discovered my name had been picked out of the hat!! I never win anything, I was gobsmacked. I remember when I first saw her Instagram post of this wall hanging that she’d designed for the Hobbycraft blog. I remember thinking how beautiful it was and how I’d love to be able to make it.

Here it is! The photo really doesn’t do it justice, the light was rubbish here today. It arrived this morning with a lovely postcard and message too. Eleonora had warned me it was well packaged, it took about 20 minutes to get into it but it was so well worth it. It’s absolutely beautifully made and the attention to detail is amazing. The driftwood is lovely and is just perfect for this. I really love it to bits, as does Jude. He was ever so excited when I was unwrapping it.

I’ve popped it on the wall here just to take a photo as it was the only place with 2 hooks side by side but there really is only one place that it belongs…..

Inside Jude’s beach hut in the garden. It’s just perfect! Please do pop over to Eleonoras blog here to read her post all about it and while you’re there you can take a look at all her other amazing work. I aspire to be able to crochet as beautifully as her one day. Xxx

At last, a Ta-Dah post!

I’ve been working on this blanket for about 2 months. 2 months!! That’s really too long but available time to happily hook away just wasn’t happening. I had a rough idea of how I wanted it to turn out but it sort of just happened as it went along really. I started off by doing 4 random granny squares and joining them.

Then continued round and around in all the colours until it grew before my very eyes.

After a few rows around of the same colour order, I decided it needed a large chunk of the cream followed by the lovely colours once again, but broken up by the cream in between. I do love the colours on offer from the Stylecraft range which is basically all I use now. We’re very spoilt for choice and the quality is always spot on, especially for blankets that will get lots and lots of use.

I eventually came to the end, put it down for a while ( a couple of weeks) and contemplated what kind of border it should have. It’s quite an important decision you know! Sitting by an open fire is THE perfect place for contemplating.

It definitely helped me come to the right decision anyway. I knew that after an initial row of colour for the base round (I picked the blue, purely as it was what I had the most left of), I wanted the border to be all cream. It seemed to take absolutely ages to get the first few rows done. It was quite a nerve wrecking time waiting to see if it looked ok. Then I ran out of yarn so had to get more to finish it.  The border certainly is a yarn guzzler. I made an executive decision to add a couple of extra rows of the border to make a little bit more of an impact, and I had plenty of yarn with which to do so now too! It wasn’t until I was right near the very end that I was convinced it was the right edge for the blanket.

It’s rather like a fancy frame for a beautiful picture. I love the way it has a gentle ruffle, kind of like a delicate lace. Very pretty and feminine.

As I finished it in the garden, I decided to give it its photo shoot out there too. Well why not? It was a beautiful day and purely by coincidence, it coordinated perfectly with our deckchairs! Here is my Spring Granny Blanket…… Ta-Dah!!

I’ve had such fantastic feedback on Instagram and Facebook for this blanket, it’s given me a much needed boost. As much as I love it, its now available for sale on my Facebook page so if you’re interested, just let me know! I’m itching to start a new one already but first things first, I must do coasters. Coasters are calling…. x

Bathroom renovation 

As some of you know, we’ve been having work done in our house. The main part was the bathroom. We’d done bits and pieces to it in the five years we’ve been here in our forever home, but it needed a complete overhaul. We had serious condensation issues which led to bubbling paint and horrid mould. 

So about a month ago, work finally began. The night before our old suite got ripped out, I took a last soak in the tub. We had no tiles anywhere, a hole in the wall and dust absolutely everywhere.

I lit a candle and read a magazine, ignoring my surroundings. Luckily we have a downstairs loo and basin so we weren’t completely cut off, but it still seemed like an eternity before the room felt clean and usable again. 

We’d bought the new suite back in the January sales, so that had been stored in our dining room. We’d picked out our tiles , but very last minute, they’d become unavailable and thank goodness they did. It meant we got to discover a lovely new tile shop with the most amazing tiles. They were a bit more expensive than the other ones but worth every penny. I think our tiler was cursing us for a good while as they are HUGE and very very thick and heavy. I can only just pick one tile up at a time. 

We used the same tiles on the floor too. One thing I never appreciated before was how high our ceilings are. It becomes very clear when you’re balanced on the top of a tall stepladder on your tiptoes and arms stretched out as far as possible, only to find you still can’t quite reach the very edge of the ceiling.

This shower is amazing, I could stand under it for hours.

We got a nice big mirror too with lights in. And with our new spotlights replacing our single dodgy light, it’s so bright in here.

We got waterfall taps which give a really luxurious feel.

Did you spot the chair in the first photo? It’s my beautiful boot fair find from many years ago. I’ve recovered it, for the third time in as many years, hopefully the kids won’t be leaving their wet towels on it like usual. I love the fabric. I’d originally planned to make a blind for the bathroom in it but we went with a wooden slatted type in the end, the same as the rest of the house.

And to finish off, we needed some kind of storage unit to hide away all the bottles and towels. I searched high and low for one. I had in my head what I was looking for but really struggled to find it. Eventually I found one, at a reasonable price too, and actually managed to build it all by myself. I was rather proud of myself.

It’s ideal as the bottles are all hidden behind the door and the top section is open for displaying fluffy towels and fancy lotions and potions. It does feel very spa like now, a perfect place for some relaxing reading and pampering. I’ve still got a handful of my handmade Bath melts from my Pamper Pantry days. I’m very tempted to start making them again, just for myself to use and maybe give a few as gifts. Maybe I will, who knows…. I’m off for a bath.


Hello there, how’s everyone doing? Things are starting to look a little clearer here, I have a few blog posts in the making, but in the meantime I thought I’d share a couple of posts from this time last year.  The first one is all about the blossom trees that are just about passing their peak here at the moment. You can read it here.  I feel a bit lazy but there’s no point in repeating myself is there? The next one is all about the bluebells. Isn’t it just uplifting, walking through a bluebell wood when they’re in full bloom? Just reading doesn’t compare to breathing in that delicate aroma, but seeing is believing and you can read that one here.  I haven’t had much time to get and about in the fresh air recently so it’s nice to be able to look back in the archives and revisit the beauty and nature I was amongst not so long ago. That’s not too much of a cop out is it??

I made these crochet flowers yesterday. They’re for a very special young lady called Jenny. She’s the daughter of Amanda who owns the Little Box of Crochet, monthly subscription box. It’s not my story to tell, and I don’t know enough information to give accurate details, but all I know is that Jenny has been battling cancer for 5 long years, and her fight is coming to an end. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to hear this news, she’s just 19. It’s one of her wishes to have her coffin covered in beautiful crocheted flowers, so the word was spread through social media, and the hookers set to work. In just a few days they’ve had such a huge response that they’ve now said they have more than enough. Isn’t that fantastic, how the crochet community pulls together? A shame that it’s in such sad circumstances but I think everyone feels privileged to have been allowed to contribute just a tiny bit to such a brave and inspirational young woman. #aflowerforjenny