Monday, 23 February 2015

packing

Ben and I are moving on Friday - hooray!

As a result I spent most of the weekend indoors packing, which I quite enjoyed. It's nice to rediscover things you haven't seen for a while and take stock of what you've got.

Here are some things that I was pleased to see again... 


Clockwise from top left: Ben makes lovely cards // the naked bike ride 2009 // wonky pigeon // miscellaneous

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Things I like this February...


1  •  2  •  3  •  4  •  5  •  6  •  7  •  8  •  9  •  10  •  11  •  12  •  13  •  14  •  15

Some more favourite from Pinterest
Green and blue and bears and mountains.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Monday, 16 February 2015

B is for...

B for Ben

We're not hugely into Valentine's day around these parts, but it's nice to do a little something for the one you love, so this year I decided to make some personalised handkerchiefs for Ben.

handkerchiefs

I got the idea after I borrowed some his other handkerchiefs and misplaced/ruined a couple of them with leaky pens and such, and wanted to replace them with something nice.

This time I'll keep my hands off!

The monograms turned out ok I think - especially as I was free-styling a bit. I like that the hearts are quite wonky. I haven't done much hand embroidery before (can you tell?) but I'd definitely like to try out some more on projects like this.

monograms

I hope you all had a nice weekend, whether you were celebrating Valentine's day or not.

We had a pretty quiet one, and went out for a huge roast at the Basketmakers on Sunday. It was delicious!



Saturday, 14 February 2015

Paintwork by Ben


As it's Valentine's day I thought I'd share this lovely photo series taken by Ben last Sunday, on a seafront stroll we took along to Hove lagoon. In his words, "Some of the beach huts could do with a lick of paint."

I think they're great! I'm in love with all the colours and textures - especially when you see them together as a set. So pleasing.

You can find Ben on instagram as @benbenbenbenbenbenbenbenben 

watercolour

watercolour fish

Here's a shoal of watercolour fish I painted the other day.

I've decided I need to make a determined effort to make some more time for drawing and image-making, and as a start I have signed up to the 'Birds of Prey' wildlife drawing session in Brighton next month.

I'm pretty excited about meeting some falcons and hawks.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

potted plants

potting

Remember the avocado seeds we started nurturing way back in the summer?

Well, we finally got round to potting them over the weekend. We probably should have done it a lot sooner, but it's pretty amazing how big these things managed to grow with just some water and the nutrients packed into the seed.

pots

They're pretty bizarre looking really, and weirdly totally different. My one on the left grew very tall and thin - too tall to fit in the photo! - and Ben's is short and thick with little fat leaves. We were wondering if they might be two different kinds of avocado?

I hope they continue to thrive now they're in soil - fingers crossed their leaves keep growing and they start looking a bit less odd.

Here they are all planted, and ready to go back indoors...

potted

Ben's pot was too shallow to cover the seed, so it still looks pretty bonkers. Oh well, it's that kind of gardening experiment I think.

garden wall

Thursday, 29 January 2015

a growing collection

crochet squares

One of my vague new years resolutions was to resurrect (and possibly finish off) some old craft projects. I started this crochet stitch library way back in 2011, and while it hasn't been totally abandoned, I have neglected it a little over the last couple of years.

So I've decided to make a more specific resolution to try and crochet a new square each week until I have a big enough pile to bring them all together in a blanket.

It's going well so far. I've added a few more to the collection using some of the leftover colours from Ben's winter scarf.

stitch library 2015

I especially like the basketweave stitch. In fact, I might use it to make some cushions in some chunky wool over the coming months.

I think winter brings out my productivity with wool crafts.

crocheting

giveaway


I have one remaining catnip sardine from the batch I made just before Christmas, so decided to have a little giveaway over on Instagram. You can find me over there as @debbie_hill and I'll announce a winner on Monday.

Oh, and if you have any sweet pictures of your cats over on your account then please do share!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

things I like this January...


1  •  2  •  3  •  4  •  5  •  6  •  7  •  8  •  9  •  10  •  11  •  12

Some favourite picks from Pinterest. See more here.

Monday, 19 January 2015

a weekend jaunt

Rye building

We took a little trip down the coast to Rye this weekend. We only went for one night but it was just enough to blow away the January blues and have a little break.

towards Rye harbour train tracks Rye castle The house with the seat

We wandered around the village, explored the bits of the countryside that we could without getting too muddy, ate great food, played pub games, and generally just pottered about.

It was grand!

Oh, and the rain held off long enough on Saturday morning for us to climb up the church tower and take in the views. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who doesn't have a problem with heights (for those that do it might be a bit much).

Rye view Ben view from the church

I think one night holidays might be the way forward. I like the minimal planning involved, and it makes the weekend seem much longer.

Rye nature reserve

Sunday, 18 January 2015

handmade christmas: a scarf diary for Ben

scarf roll

I decided to make Ben a scarf for Christmas (another bit of secret present making). He had mentioned before that he liked the knitted diary loop scarf I made for myself a few years ago so I decided to make one for him.

scarf diary

I picked out some colours that I thought he'd like and swapped colour for every day of knitting until the scarf was complete. It added up to about a month and a half of knitting in total, with some days missed due to the lack of opportunity for covert knitting.

scarf diary

It turned out really well. I was happy with the colour choices and Ben was really pleased when he opened it on Christmas day. Perfect for keeping cosy on winter walks.

And here he is modelling it this weekend on a trip to Rye.

loop scarf

Happy face.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

handmade christmas: catnip sardines

catnip fish

As well as making presents for friends and family this Christmas I also made some presents for the furry friends in their lives.

Christmas for cats!

making the sardines

To make them I started by cutting out some felt sardine shapes from a paper template I made. I then sewed some little fabric pouches to hold some catnip that I bought online (highest potency apparently).

After that I embroidered on some markings and sewed on some felt eyes to give them a bit of character.

fish construction

Finally I sewed around the edges, put the catnip pouches in the middle of each fish (for maximum protection from sharp claws and teeth) and added toy stuffing around the edge.

And voilĂ ! A shoal of sardines.

sardines

And just look at these little fellas enjoying themselves...

the cats

Clockwise from top left: Tiffin, Eddie, Louis, Pixel, Harry & Holly. 

Sweet ones! They were a total hit I think. So much so that a few of them are fish no more.

I'm taking this as a good sign of appreciation.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Christmas card factory

christmas penguins

It's the last day of Christmas, and before we have to hide all evidence of Christmas for another year I thought I'd share the cards that we made this year.

Penguins!

Bang on trend I do believe. Plus, they're Ben's favourite.

We forgot what penguins looked like at first...

christmas card production

...but I think it worked out ok in the end.

Now don't forget to take all the tinsel down.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

handmade christmas: knitting needle cases

knitting needle rolls

I was quite organised this year and decided to make a few Christmas presents for friends and family. I'm going to share them here over the next week or so, now that I don't have to keep them hush hush anymore.

It's been a while since I attempted any sewing projects as I often end up slightly disappointed with the results (big ambitions plus a lack of patience is my downfall) however I really wanted to make some knitting needle/crochet hook cases for both my mum and Ben's mum so I gave it another whirl.

I'd made something similar for Yumi once before too so I didn't think it was an overly ambitious project. And they turned out pretty nicely indeed!

fabrics and buttons

I bought some lovely patterned fat quarters (I could get addicted to browsing in fabric shops) and used some vintage buttons that I had knocking around and managed to make these two needle rolls over the course of a quiet weekend.

knitting needle cases

My mum didn't realise hers was handmade when she opened it on Christmas day so I think that's a sign of sewing improvement!

Maybe I'll try and get on my sewing machine a bit more this year.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

hello 2015

Happy new year! I hope you all had a lovely cosy Christmas break.

I had a really lovely festive time, although I have been a bit under the weather for most of it which has left me feeling a bit sorry for myself.

2014 was a grand year though! I had lots of fun, went lots of places and put some wheels in motion for the year ahead.

church

Ben and I picked up this decoration at Art Junky in Brighton just before Christmas.

It reminded me of the church we saw in Reykjavik when we visited early last January. One of my favourite ever holidays.

church in Reykjavik

I haven't really had the brain power to think of any clear resolutions or plans for the year ahead yet but I want to set myself a few goals so I'll give it some thought and maybe start the new year a week or so late. That's ok right?

I do have one plan though: Move house!

The best plan (with the best man).

christmas decoration

Thursday, 11 December 2014

a festive wreath collection

festive wreaths

I made some wreaths for Christmas this year.

It was a nice project for the winter evenings and I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. In fact, I wish I'd made more! I'm going to give a couple away as gifts, but one is a keeper I think.

To make them I used some polystyrene rings as a firm base and then decorated them with wool and felt. I wanted to experiment a bit so they are all a bit different...


Crochet lace ring

crochet wreath

This one is based on the simple statement wreath found on Lisa's blog, Good knits. It was so easy to make and I love the fact that you crochet straight onto the ring.

I can definitely see myself making more of these, in any number of colours. Who says you can't hang a wreath all year round.


Pompom party

pompom wreath

I started this one by wrapping wool around the based until it was completely covered, then I glued on loads and loads of mini pompoms - I think they look like snowballs!

Thanks to Ben for helping out in my pompom factory - it was quite satisfying to spend an evening creating a big pile of woolen puffs. This is a pretty busy wreath but I think it's nice and cheerful.


Holly leaves

holly wreath

This one I also started by crocheting around the ring. Then I made some holly leaves and pompom berries to add as decoration. Nice and festive.


I really like how they look when they're together. All ready for Christmas.

christmas wreaths

Monday, 10 November 2014

sloe sundays

sloe sundays

At the end of September we spent an afternoon up on the downs foraging for berries. We came back with a small tub full of blackberries for a Sunday evening apple crumble and an even bigger haul of sloes which I put in the freezer and forgot about for a while.

sloe picking

A few weeks later Ben and I made a batch of sloe gin (more about that another time) which used up about two thirds of the berries we had. I thought it would be a waste to throw the rest away so I put them back in the freezer with the vague idea that I'd make another batch of gin when I'd picked up another bottle.

However, this weekend I went around to Hannah's house for a delicious lunch party and was inspired by the sloe syrup that she had made and served with ice cream for pudding. It was delicious! As was her elderflower gin which I was very lucky to sample.

I decided to follow Hannah's lead and make some syrup to use up the rest of the sloes. It's super easy to make and I've written out the recipe below in case any of you want to try.


sloe syrup Ingredients

Equal parts sloes, sugar and water.
I used:

600g sloe berries
600g granulated sugar
600ml water
+
Juice of half a lemon
sloe syrup ingredients
Instructions

Put the sugar, sloes and water into a large saucepan and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring often.
The mixture will turn a lovely deep purple colour.

I added the lemon juice to the mixture halfway through simmering.

Next strain the mixture through a colander to remove the bulk of the sloe berries, then strain through fine muslin to remove any smaller bits. I ended up with about 600ml of syrup after straining.

Pour the mixture into sterilised bottles or containers, and seal. Once opened keep the syrup in the fridge.

I decided to freeze half of my mixture to keep for later.

sloe syrup making

Uses

The syrup is delicious as an accompaniment for ice cream. I suspect it would also make a nice pancake topping and could be used to make some great gin cocktails too.

Apparently it is also rich in vitamin C and has been recommended to treat colds.

Medicinal and tasty too. Enjoy!