Stopping to smell the flowers

The weather has been picking up, which means we’ve been getting out in the garden. I haven’t done as much this year as I have in past years, but that’s OK. I’ve put an awful lot of  blood sweat and tears into our garden. We only rent the house, but I’ve always known how I wanted the garden to look, and this year it’s just about there. I have barely done anything, but I’m really pleased with it.

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Of course, in a couple of months this will all be gone and I’ll have to put some work in, but I can enjoy it whilst I can. There is one new edition on the patio. I planted into one of the apple crates that we had at our wedding and some of the veg boxes that my brother in law made for us. I think it makes a really nice feature and it looks quite unusual.

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There’s nothing like a little sunshine and a lovely garden to lift the spirits is there?!

Little Surprises

I was feeling pretty miserable during my hospital stay. I was thinking to myself that whilst I had a well stocked house for everyone, I wished I had got the washing done and the house tidied up before I had gone in. I was mostly concerned with how everyone else was, and how I’d look after the toddler when I got home. I most certainly wasn’t concerned with my own recovery.

Jamie came to visit me and told me I had a parcel at home. I was a bit excited as I had won a competition on a blog for a crochet book and four balls of wool. I couldn’t wait to get back and open it! This cheered me up enough to look through my Simply Crochet magazine to see what I could make. I was nil by mouth, so trying to find anything to think about other than food!

When I got home I was confused. The parcel was flat, so it couldn’t have been my prize. I ripped it open and discovered this

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Lots of wonderful knitting notions and needles, and a big sectioned knitting bag. I couldn’t work it out. Had I ordered something at the hospital that I had forgotten about? I looked again in the packaging and found a little slip of paper from Let’s Knit magazine. I had one something else! It was very strange, I hadn’t bought a copy of Let’s Knit for a really long time, but I had bought one on my way out of the hospital. This cheered me up so much! Here it is full of my projects, with storage at the back, and a pocket for notions at the top

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Then, a couple of days later, this turned up

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The other prize I had one! Unfortunately the day after I got this prize I went back into the hospital for my operation, but at least I had some new things to play with when I got home!

I’m back!

You may have noticed that we haven’t posted any blog posts in a while. Well, I (Danielle that is) have been in the wars a little bit. I was suffering with toothache, which led to an emergency root canal. Two days later I was sent to hospital with suspected appendicitis. I was sent home a couple of days later, after which I had the rest of my root canal treatment. As if this wasn’t enough, I was taken by to hospital two days later and had my appendix removed during a routine camera procedure. Turns out it was appendicitis. I had open surgery, so it took a little longer to recover than the normal key hole surgery. Of course, during all this, Jamie was left making sure the toddler was OK and looked after, whilst also juggling work and coming to see me. It’s been tough. I’m finally starting to feel myself again after a few weeks recovering, I’m still exhausted, but at least I can get on with normal daily tasks again!

The first time I was sent to hospital I thought I’d be sent straight home, so I only packed my crochet. I was there for three days, so I had to have basics brought to me, but at least I wasn’t bored!

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This is a cardigan I was making out of scrap 4 ply I had kicking around, which I finished when I got home

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The second time I went in I was a little more sensible about what I took with me. By that I mean that I took two projects! I tried finish my socks, but I lost one of my needles, and the nurses didn’t seem quite as concerned as I was! Whilst I didn’t get much of my socks done, I did start this shawl with some beautiful hand dyed, hand spun yarn.

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And of course, as I had access to my phone and A LOT of time on my hands, I ended up ‘treating’ myself to some new wool. Well, I think I deserved it after all that, don’t you?

My DIY skirt

I’ve been glued to the telly for weeks watching the Great British Sewing Bee. If you don’t know what this is, it is a program where amateur sewers make 3 garments every week which are judged on fit, technical skill and creativity. One is voted off every week until eventually one is crowned Britain’s best amateur sewer.  Continue reading

Using every scrap

I finally finished the big fluorescent granny square blanket I showed you a while back. I kept thinking it was done, and then I added another row, and another, and finally here it is!

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Using some of my free wool

I have had such an influx of wool recently, I really don’t know what to do with it all! However. when I got my free wool from Simply Crochet, I knew EXACTLY what I was going to do with it. I had had a jumper pattern for years that I had been itching to do, but could never afford the wool to make it. It was a fitted pattern but I like my jumpers over sized, so I made the next size up on slightly bigger needles, and the result is this

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A lovely, cuddly, oversized jumper that is very soft, and very warm. It used a few more balls than the recommended, but I don’t mind too much as this means I used more up, and it knitted up so quickly, it only took me a week. I absolutely love it, now on to the next project…..!

Homemade Coffee syrup

I don’t like shopping at Sainsburys, some of their prices are ridiculous, but it happens to be the closest supermarket to my house, and if I need to pick up a couple of bits and don’t want to walk into town, I grit my teeth and go. I’ve been going more often recently, as they are the only shop that sells the Japanese ingredients I have been using.

On one of my recent trips, I noticed a few bits on the reduced section. They are usually very stingy with their reduced food, and they never reduce fresh food, which is suspicious. I did see that they had some baking goods, in particular cinnamon sugar, reduced from £2.99 to 39p.

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Ordinarily I’d whinge and moan about how I could make cinnamon sugar myself at home, but this time I bought it. I had something in mind. I had recently won a competition on Twitter and been sent a lot of coffee samples. Now, I like coffee, but I have a really sweet tooth, so when I saw this, I decided to make coffee syrup from it.

It was so quick and easy, I just added the sugar to the pan, and then used the pot to measure out the same amount of water, then I heated it on the hob until the sugar had dissolved. I then used this cut glass jug I got from a charity shop to store it in.

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Now I have delicious coffee shop grade drinks at an absolute fraction of the price. The syrup should last for quite a while, and it cost the same price as a shot of syrup at the coffee shop!

Further adventures in jumper upcycling

Well, what did I do with the rest of the jumper? It was really super simple, as the shape of the remaining bit meant there was something very obvious I could use it for.

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Using some upholstery fabric I had kicking around and some spare bamboo handles I made a

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A new knitting bag, which means I have more space to store my knitting projects. Huzzah!

DIY Toddler Leggings

My favourite cheap jumper shrunk in the wash one too many times. I love the colours and the mock fair isle pattern, so it seemed such a waste to throw it away. I had a search through all of my magazines and books and I couldn’t find a tutorial that would use it. We went out shopping and I saw some lovely little Fair Isle leggings for the toddler. Then it hit me, I would make some from my jumper. I had seen adults do it with extra large jumpers, so I would do a mini version.

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I took my jumper and cut off the sleeves. Then I used some leggings she already has as a template to see how far down to cut the gusset.

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I sewed the gusset together and almost had a pair of trousers, just needed a way of keeping them up.

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I sewed the original collar to the top of the trousers so I had a little more material to work with. I took a piece of elastic and measured it around the toddler’s waste. Then I folded over the top of the trousers, creating a channel that’s wide enough to fit the elastic through. I pinned and stitched it, leaving a 2 inch gap. I then fed the elastic through using a safety pin and stitched it together. Then I stitched the opening closed. Ta dah! Free trousers!!!

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She doesn’t sit still for long, so this was the best picture I could get, straight from the machine! But what happened to the rest of the jumper…..?

Extreme Food Planning

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Even though we are usually very careful with our money, we had a bit of a bad time with bills last month.We had an extra water bill, nearly £400 is gas and electric, car tax and I also started an online teaching assistant course. Nearly £800 all in all, is a pretty sizeable amount to pay in one month, whatever your income. As we only have one income it made things a little tight for us!

The only thing we really spend money on is our food, and it occurred to me I had been a little frivolous with our housekeeping money recently. I did the same shop every week whether we needed it or not. It’s not a massive shop, or an expensive shop, but we could do without it. I started worrying that we had no money to live on and we wouldn’t be able to buy food. I took my notebook and decided to do a full inventory of what we had, the fridge, both freezers, cupboards, pantry (read shelf) and dry food rack.

Well, we have a LOT of food. I mean A LOT!!! I seem to be a bit of food hoarder. We have soooo many packets of dried food, stock, sauce packets, loads of tins, freezers full of food. Suffice to say, once I realised I could have sushi once a week for the next 6 weeks without going to the shop, I started feeling a little less sorry for myself! We can comfortably eat for a while without doing a real shop or starving.

The whole thing made me think, we don’t waste any of this food as it can all be stored, but it’s so easy to bulk buy and shop out of habit, I can see how easy it is for people to buy so much food that they end up wasting it. I don’t want to become one of those families that throws away food because they just can’t eat it all! So, we decided to make a meal list of everything we can cook with the ingredients we have, and we have set ourselves a budget of £15 a week for bits like milk, bread, eggs, and fruit and veg. It helps that the toddler is now fully toilet trained as we are saving money on her nappies. We also gave up alcohol for lent, so this is saving us a bit too. Hopefully this will save us the money we need to get on track, and free up a bit of space in our kitchen!