Monday, 30 May 2011

Car Boots & Barneys....

Hello!! I hope you are having a nice bank holiday despite the gloomy, grey weather we're having - it's a bit of a shock after all the glorious sunshine we have had, I expect it's getting ready for the long school holidays when the weather is always rubbish!!

On Saturday Hubby (who from here forth will be referred to as "Mr Grumpy"), myself and the kids went to a local car boot sale for a mooch around. We are newbies having only ever been a couple of times but I can definitely see how one can become hooked. I managed to pick up four lovely pictures for a fiver and a deep, loose bottom cake tin for £1 and W (son#2) got a couple of DVD's and a cheeseburger!!

As we were leaving Mr Grumpy and I got into an extremely heated debate about the best way home - it was firey but fortunately short-lived although I did have to track the two routes online to find out I was indeed correct!!

When we finally got home I made a chocolate chip and raspberry cake with my new tin:

Whilst the cake was baking I arranged my new pictures (which are part of the move to make the lounge more shabby-chic) - firstly I drew around them onto paper and the arranged the paper on the wall in a pleasing fashion:

This way I knew my arrangement was spaced properly and looked good before Mr Grumpy (love it!!) banged in nails:

The embroidery in the centre with the ornate frame was done for us by my Mum and given to me on the morning of our wedding - I love it. The rest were my car boot finds - I want lots more to fill the wall.

Today's barney was due to me wanting to go and take advantage of B&Q's special offer on paint and buy some antique cream to do the lounge and Mr Grumpy refusing. I usually get my own way but I did spring the idea on him and so I'll have to leave it for a week or so to sink in!!

We did nip out and I got a new lampshade, in a bid to introduce more pink:

It was from TKMaxx supposedly reduced from £48 to £5 and looks very pretty when the light is on.

What've you been up to?

S x

Friday, 27 May 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane - Toys....

Toys I Loved As A Child

Using the Random Prompt Generator over at Daydreaming On Paper to give me the idea I would like to share with you some of my favourites from my childhood.

Fisher Price Pull Along Dog

This is one of my first loves!! He was made of wood and when you pulled him along his ears waggled. His stickers all became damaged (I recall I left him out in the rain) and so I took him to school where they helped me paint him brown and varnish him!!

Fisher Price Treehouse

OMG, I just LOVED this!! The top of the tree would shut down to hide the house and you had to press a button on top to get it to pop open. There was a slide from the kitchen to the bottom.

When our boys were tiny I tried to get one on eBay for them but they were going for almost £100.

My First Sindy - Ballerina Sindy

Just looking at this picture makes me smile, mine was the brunette and I got her for Christmas when I was five. I loved her and went on to have many Sindys. You were either a Sindy girl or a Barbie girl and it was definitely Sindy for me. My sister had Barbie.

Sindy's Horse

Due to my "Horsey Love Gene" I naturally had to have a horse to go with my Sindy - mine was bay and my sisters was grey. I also had the stables; jumps; horsebox; carriage....

My Little Ponies

In about 1984 My Little Ponies came out and I was desparate for one. I remember going to Debenhams in Nottingham and getting Minty my first My Little Pony. I had bout ten in the end including a baby and and a beauty salon for them!!

Commadore Vic 20

Haha, look at that!! That was our first home computer. We got it for Christmas when I was about 11 or so. Dad was a computer programmer and he made a program that had Santa appear and ask Sarah and Samantha (my sis and I) if we had been good girls!! It had taken him about a month to write whilst we were in bed each night.

The games came on cassettes and the graphics were extremely limited - we would play "Blitz" and a Dracula "adventure" role play game that was just words, no graphics at all!! We loved it!!

Pooh Bear

The toy I loved best was Pooh Bear - here he is on the left with me and my sister and her ted in about 1977. He wasn't a Winnie the Pooh but I called him Pooh Bear anyway. I was about 2-3 when I was given him and he wasn't new then. I adored him and he became very well loved. Over time he lost his legs; the stuffing out of half of one arm; had a hole in his chest which showed his straw filling and just one ear.

When I was 19 my Dalmatian puppy ripped him to shreds whilst I was in the bath and I still miss him :0(

Which toys did you love most?

Decorating Dilemmas - I Need Your Opinions!!

As you may remember I have been gradually spreading the floral goodness around our little house and until now have been kind of banned from "Cath Kidstoning up" the lounge.

But, I really am not happy with the way it looks and know I can get my own way ;0)

So, I am wondering if you have any tips on how I can shabby-chic up this room:

I'd rather keep the wallpaper as it has only been up a few months and I can't face redoing it - but I hate the teal paint on the chimney breast (always have) so am thinking of going paler, sort of a dark duck egg? 

The rest of the walls are currently "Biscotti" which is (unsprisingly) biscuit coloured - I fancied off white but when I did a tester it didn't go with the flowers on the paper which are definitely cream. So, would an ivory paint be better?

Do you think I could get away with introducing a bit of pink? Curtains (which I want to change)? Cushions?

Above the large sofa I want to do the mismatched picture frame thing like this:

(from Google Images)

So what do you reckon? Any ideas on how I can make this not very vintage teal room look a bit more "me" without changing everything?

Have a lovely weekend....

S x

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Asparagus and Ham Bake....

We were a bit naughty today and had this for lunch - believe me it tastes nicer than it looks!! 

It was my Dad's recipe and I had forgotten about it until my Sis reminded me. Dad was a fantastic cook and would often experiment, the trouble being he would often forget what he did so couldn't recreate any successes!! This one was remembered though.


1.5 bunches asparagus
2tbsp flour
1.5tbsp butter
300ml milk
100g cheddar, grated
6 small slices real ham
nutmeg & salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the grill

Remove the woody ends from the asparagus by snapping and drop into some boiling water for 5-6mins.

Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce by melting the butter in a small pan, once melted add the flour and combine with a whisk. 

Remove from the heat (this bit is vital or you will get lumps) and gradually add the milk. Once all the milk is combined return to the heat and season with salt pepper and nutmeg. Watch carefully and stir every so often.

When the edges begin to bubble add 3/4 of the cheese, whisk until melted. Remove from heat.

When your asparagus is cooked, drain and arrange in a baking dish (please excuse my elderly, stained Le Creuset!!)

Pour over half the cheese sauce and then lay your ham slices on top. Cover with the remaining sauce and the rest of the cheese.

Place under a hot grill for 10mins or until brown and bubbling (mine could have done with longer but we couldn't wait!!)

Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.


S x

PS Do you like my new banner?

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Crochet WiP's....

Today I thought I would show you what I have on the go crochet-wise.

I wanted to make the lovely blanket from the Cute And Easy Crochet but I got to 50 squares (the blanket requires something like 432!!) and was bored senseless, so now they have turned into a couple of cushion covers. Need more cream to finish off:

Now this cushion was crocheted with Kool Kotton which at £1.50 for 50g is a bargain, it is 50% cotton/50% acrylic and is lovely and soft - I've made a cardi with it before. 

I also started this in it:

Which is hopefully going to be a ripple blanket following Lucy's pattern over at Attic24 - I say "hopefully" as if I get bored it might well turn into a ripple scarf!!

I'm also going use the Sublime Baby Cotton & Kapok for this that I got on Sunday half price. Interestingly, although the Sublime is a lot more expensive (£3.99 a ball normally) it feels and crochets much the same as the Kool Kotton.

I had a play and made these:

I just love sitting and doing these, it's a shame I can't make a blanket out of hearts - they are so easy and quick and after a couple you can do them without looking at the pattern - which I found at Sarahndipities (OMG, I love that name, wish I had thought of it!!)

I did a load on Saturday night in trusty Stylecraft's Special DK and made them into a garland which I strung on the inspiration board in my sewing room - must remember to take a pic.

I'm also crocheting a lace trim in pink around a pillowcase for my little nieces new bed but I forgot to take a pic of that too (scatterbrain!!)

Have a lovely day....

S x

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Yarn Bargains....

Hello my lovelies - I hope you had a nice weekend?

On Saturday we went over to Christchurch to visit my Stepmum and my little brother Jojo. Jojo is 8yrs old and so 30 year younger than me. We hadn't seen them since before Christmas as Stepmum is always booked up at weekends and works full-time and the time had just run away with us.

We had a nice afternoon with yummy food and good company.

On Sunday Hubby was was out all day racing his radio-controlled car and so I had a lazy day involving several episodes of Desperate Housewives (I am catching up with seasons 1-4 which I missed) and a trip to Hobbycraft.

Hobbycraft had some lovely Sublime Baby Kapock half price at £1.99 per ball and a 1.5m remnant of Tanya Whelan fabric:

Better pic of the fabric:

These seemed to slip into the basket as well:

Who could resist at £1.00 for two bags?

All gobbled up now though!!....

S x

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Today, Meet Daisy & Milo....

Today I thought I would introduce Daisy & Milo to you. They are our Jack Russell Terriers. 

We are recent converts to JRT's. For many years I didn't really like them and indeed since owning them have realised that they are Marmite dogs - people ask what breed you have and when you say "JRT" they either screw their faces up as though there is a bad smell or go "Ooooooh" and go on to tell you about a particular JRT that they love.

The boys & I had been trying to persuade Hubby to let us have a dog for years and when we moved the horses to the stables we are at now there were three JRT's, one of which was a pup and very cute plus the stables was sooooo dog friendly (they are allowed to pootle around as they please) that finally Hubby agreed but he only wanted something small.

So, one evening we told the boys (who were then 8yrs & 6yrs) that we were going out and we took them to look at a litter of puppies. The boys chose Milo who was the smallest and the only tan dog in the litter:

He is really tiny, perhaps the smallest JRT I have ever seen and has the shortest legs. He is a really, really good boy with his only fault being he escapes out of the garden so has to go out on a tether!!

He is a sensitive little chap, always has to check with me first if Hubby tells him to do something to see if he really has to and is ruled with a rod of iron by Daisy:

We got Daisy a year after Milo. I was very naughty and got her without telling Hubby as I knew he would say no!! He was very cross. For a couple of hours!!

She is little too, only a bit bigger than Milo. She was meant to be smooth coated too but not long after we got her she started becoming fuzzy and was soon a broken-coated JRT.

She is VERY BOSSY. She henpecks Milo terribly (he doesn't seem to mind luckily). If the horses start scuffling (sometimes they will argue over food) she has to become involved, running round them barking - oblivious to the fact the horses could swat her off like an annoying fly.

She is devoted to us, but hates other people and dogs. She is good with our cats and used to adore Gizmo, the Tonk we lost in a road accident and they would play endlessly.

Their Favourite Place In The Whole World is the stables. They don't have leads as they are just allowed straight out of the car to roam around when we get there so they get excited when they see put on socks because I only wear socks with my yard boots!!

They such a part of the family I couldn't imagine not having them, even though they do yap quite a bit (particularly Daisy!!) and make a dreadful mess sometimes....

Tell me about your pets?!!

S x

Friday, 20 May 2011

Come With Me To The Stables....

You may remember that I have four horses? Well, today I thought I would take you with me to the stables....

I gathered these there, I'll show you:

The barn doesn't look like much, but it is in the middle of the countryside and backs onto woods:

Inside that barn to the right side are stables, I have three of them. To the left is the area where the farmers cows come in during the winter.

This is the entrance to my field:

That's Daisy one of our JRT's sniffing around....

If you come in with me you can meet the gang.

This is TC (The Colonel) - he is a 17.1HH Suffolk Punch X and is a huge boy. He is 21 this year and I've had him nearly six years: 

Next is Crofter. He is a 14.3HH Connemara X and is 30 years old. He taught me to drive and still loves to go out in his gig. As you can see he is still very woolly with his winter coat. As he is an old man he doesn't tend to shed it as quickly as a younger horse would:

Here we have King. He is a 15.1HH Gypsy Cob. He rides and drives and is 20 this year (all my ponies are oldies - I love them!!):

Finally, we have Jasmin. She is a 38" Shetland and came to me to retire from being a broodmare. She is 22:

This is a view of my whole field:

As you can see I don't have much grass, one of the reasons is because it has been so dry this spring that it has not come in like it should. It was same last year and means I am still feeding hay. I am hoping we have a more normal summer as last year we saw hay prices almost double.

The building you can see is the field shelter for the horses. My ponies all live out. I believe that is best for horses as they are flight/prairie animals and thus not meant to be shut up in a box. I do have stables in case I need them but they are rarely used. The horses come and go into their shelter as they please (it has an open front) and love it, they are often found all huddled up in it.

Here King and TC enjoy their "dessert" - they have a bucket of food each day and then love to munch on their hay. As TC and King are both pretty dominant horses this always is accompanied by face pulling - here I managed to get a pic of them eating in harmony:

While the ponies were eating I went to gather some wildflowers for home. We have wild roses:

Buttercups & Cow Parsley (which the horses LOVE!!):

Elderflowers (I keep meaning to make some cordial with these):

And Clover:

Aren't they lovely? I gathered a large bunch and managed to fill two jam jars when I got home:

How pretty are they? And free too!!

While I was gathering the flowers I saw some birds of prey swooping on the thermals high above:

Not the best of pics as this is zoomed in and cropped as they were very high. There were three of them, kites perhaps?

So, that is the stables. I go up every day to see to my horses and even if it sometimes feels like a bit of a tie, my spirits are always lifted when I get there.

Thanks for joining me....

S x

Thursday, 19 May 2011

My Trollbeads....

Today I thought I would show you my Trollbeads:

I started collecting them in 2005 and now I have two full bracelets:

You start with am empty silver bracelet and choose glass and silver beads to gradually fill it up. They do some beauties in gold too but they are very expensive!!

Each bead has a meaning to me, either because of where it was bought or who bought it for me:

My Mum bought me this lovely crystal Trollbead....

These two glass beads were made for me by Mango Beads to represent my two boys:

This dragon is one of my favourites and was bought in Windsor when we were away for my birthday:

Another favourite is "Snails In Love". You can also see a silver "Mum" bead my boys bought me (though in reality they still call me "Mummy" which I am delighted about!!):

The tortoise and horse are Pandora beads and were bought on holiday in Spain:

I'm not really big on jewellery and all the pieces I wear daily are special (such as my wedding & engagement rings and my late Dad's wedding ring) but I do love my Trollbeads, although I have slowed down with collecting them now my bracelets are full!!

I've noticed lately they are becoming more popular and lots of companies are bringing out their own versions - maybe I am pretty ahead of the crowd fashion-wise after all?!!

Take care....

S x

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Soup and Swaps!!

Hello there, I hope you all had a lovely weekend?

Today I would like to share one of my favourite soup recipes with you - it's for Red Lentil, Chilli & Chickpea and you can find the recipe here at the BBC Good Food website (apologies for photo quality today, camera is flat so am having to use my iPhone):

Awww, my poor roses are looking a little sorry for themselves aren't they?

Don't worry if you dislike chickpeas - this batch is missing them as we were out but it's still lovely - the chickpeas are added after whizzing so are left whole, which means if one of you loves them (me) and one of you is not so keen (Hubby) you can fish them out!!

The postman brought me a lovely treat today:

This is a swap I did with my friend Ashley over at Jellybean's Odds and Ends and I can't tell you how chuffed I am!! The gorgeous little knitted pillows smell divinely of lavender; the Rice DK pins are fab. Underneath are some sweet little zipped purses, one of which is made out of babushka fabric which I love (I am 1/4 Polish and loved playing with babushka's when I was little). Also in there is some gorgeous, gorgeous fabric!!

Hubby and I have already polished off the pistachio chocolate!! Thanks so much Ashley!!

This afternoon we are having a chap come out to quote us for having a woodburning stove - when I was a child we had one and I loved it and so I have wanted one for a while.

Something like this perhaps?:

Or what about this for a shabby chic stove?:

We originally wanted it in the conservatory but after doing a bit of research think the installation would be a lot more complicated and costly than having one in the corner of the living room. 

So, I sat here and scratched my head until I worked out how we could fit one in there. We can't have it on the fake chimney breast we have as that was built to accommodate Hubby's huge TV (the TV is kind of boxed into a fake "chimney breast" which only sticks out about 6" into the room) but I think if we move one of the sofas around we could fit a stove into the corner. 

In some respects it would be better in the living room as one of the best things about a real fire is sitting in front of it in the dark and we don't tend to use the conservatory at night.

Just hoping it'll be feasible/not too expensive now. Fingers-crossed!!

S x