Thursday, 29 July 2010

Jewels in the Crown

We seem to have gone jam crazy in our little corner of blogland and to follow up last week's Strawberry Jam today we have been picking redcurrants from the garden.  My redcurrant bushes are somewhat of a family heirloom .... they were originally on my dad's allotment but when he had to give that up some 15 years ago following a stroke, we dug them up and transplanted them to the bottom of our garden.  This year has seen a bumper crop and just over 4lb was picked this morning and they have now been stewed, pulped and drained and the liquid is waiting to be turned into jelly tomorrow.  The children thoroughly enjoyed doing this and one of them even arrived this morning with a tub of blackcurrants that she had picked from her own garden last night .... we now have six jars of blackcurrant jam to add to the collection.

While the littlies were busy picking the fruit I did a little weeding in the veg patch and pulled our first onions and baby beetroot.

and one large lonesome courgette!

We have a little sea of sunflowers in the veg patch which weren't intentionally planted ..... these must have been scratched in by my dear chooks before Mr Fox arrived.

I have also had a lovely lavender bush for years but alas Mr Lala was let loose with some secateurs last year which is always a bad move.  He has a nasty habit of snipping off all the new growth and leaving the dry woody bits underneath and this proved too tempting for one naughty spaniel last year .... she chewed it to bits!

So a dilemma .... I like to make lavender bags for the Christmas markets later in the year but with no lavender to harvest what was a girls to do???  Then the brain cell leapt into action and I posted a wanted on my local Freecycle group and received a tremendous response.  This is what I have so far and there is more to come.
It smells heavenly and should keep me going for a while.  One lovely lady also let me harvest some seeds from her lupins and said I can go back again for more lavender if I need it.  This got me thinking that there are gardens out there with an abundance of fruit growing this year, most of which will be left to the birds so what better way of food thrifting ..... join your local Freecycle group and see what you can find.

On the subject of thrifting I will end with some of my car boot goodies from last weekend.

Total spend = £12.50

Sunday, 25 July 2010

I'm going to tell you a story ......

Well I have made an amazing discovery in this wonderful world that is blogland!

Some of you will recognise my avatar as a beautiful study of a baby by Lilian Rowles.  I have had some of these prints for around 20 years and fell in love with them the minute I saw them.  When I decided upon the name of Lalabibaby they seemed the obvious choice for an avatar.  The name Lalabibaby is a take on lullaby mixed with the name that the children call my midwife daughter.  Whe she was a student midwife she worked at the nursery that they went to before they started school and became my after school club.  At the nursery they had to call the staff Miss or Mrs and they found it extremely difficult to stop addressing her so formally so we said call her Miss Lala and from then on it has stuck.

Anyhow, I digress (that's what happens with a meno brain!), yesterday I received a visit from a fellow blogger who had a wonderful story to tell .... I will say no more but please do take a visit to this lovely blog where all will become clear.

Isn't blogland a wonderful place .... I feel totally enriched by meeting such lovely people and in a way it is a modern day version of our old penpal letters only this time it is instantaneous and in full technicolour.

Thank you Julie xx

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Going potty for jam & strawberry fields forever .....

Well the school summer holidays are here ..... how are you coping so far ladies ????

We took the small boy to the local PYO this week and managed to fill a punnet with the last of their strawberries ... they do have some more late ones under polytunnels but they weren't quite ready.  It was so peaceful wandering around the strawberry field in the warm sunshine with the small boy getting so excited everytime he found a juicy fruit.  We came home and after eating some we made some jam supplies for the hols ..... I don't know about you but I just love a jam butty and we usually have jam on toast once all the minded children have arrived on a morning.  They were all very impressed and took a little jar home with them.  I have some redcurrants and goosegogs to harvest in the garden so that will be a little job for them next week .... slave driver aren't I ?

Can't you just smell them .... mmmmmmmmm

Today has been just perfect ... dry and warm enough without being sticky and I've been to a new craft market in a beautiful little village in Hertfordshire, about half an hours drive away.  The atmosphere was great and I met some lovely friendly people and also sold some bits which was a bonus!  I've come away with some orders too and invites to some more markets later in the year so all in all a very successful day.

For any of you crafters out there who make and sell bunting how about this for a fantastic way of displaying it

It was a long wooden pole with a hook in the top which was attached to the table  .... the bunting cascaded down and was secured onto the cloth which covered the table .... so simple but so effective don't you agree?

I must get my head round our activities with the children next week and finalise some menus and DD2 is nagging for me to do some wallpapering at her house tomorrow in time for baby Jack's first birthday party on Wednesday .... where did that year go???

He loves playing peekaboo round the laptop

and driving the car !

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

A new experience and more Car Boot Loot

I haven't been to the mid week car boot for ages and I'd mentioned to the small boy that I look after that we may go today.  He has been nagging me and his parents ever since and arrived yesterday with some change that he had scrounged at the weekend ..... bless him.  I couldn't disappoint him could I?  So off we went after the school run this morning with him clutching his little man purse.

As a childminder I constantly have to replace and update my equipment & toys and I just couldn't do it without good old car boot sales and charity shops.  I find that I can buy loads, use them for a while, donate them back to the charity shop or sell at a car boot and then start all over again.  Recycling at it's very best.  The small boy must think the boot sale is some magical place because whenever he spots something new to play with and asks where I got it from of course the answer is the car boot!  He wanted some lego but there was none to be had today but he did find a new Arsenal pencil set in a lovely case which included coloured pencils, notepad, sharpener and rubber and a little Arsenal football kit to hang in the car ..... impressed his dad who is an ardent Gunners fan and when we told him we had only spent £1.30 he remarked that we needed to teach the small boy's mum how to shop!

It was a lovely experience for both of us.  He learnt how to look closely for things he likes, to talk to the stall holders and ask how much money was needed, to pay himself from his own money and receive change too ... one more step on the road to independence for an almost 5 year old.  It may seem strange to some that a childminder takes children to a car boot sale but what better way to develop socialisation & numeracy skills.

Of course I didn't come away empty handed and here is my loot

A metre of retro nursery fabric and some Anchor embroidery yarns

4 metres of gorgeous nursery binding

Wedgwood 'Barlaston Rose' Dinner Service ... I haven't
 picked up such a lovely set in years

and here are some bits from the weekend

a dolly deck chair to re-cover

A sewing box which I think needs a shabby chic make-over with LA paint and some pretty floral fabric on the top

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Sunday catch-up

I was awake so early this morning .... why is it that when I can have a lie-in (8 o'clock would be a lie-in for me!) I just cannot sleep or settle???  So up at six and after a caffiene fix I decided whilst it was quiet I would update my Lalabibaby website .... it's such a long old job and if I get interrupted I get very grumpy!

I even managed to say no to DD2 who rang to ask if I would go round and help her wallpaper ..... I just need today to catch up a bit as there are only four more days of school left and after that housework will just have to go out of the window as I have a house full of small people every week except the first week of August.

Been fiddling round putting my photos in order on the new lappy and backing them up and played with the photo mosaics too

My Quilts

Upcycled Cushions

Patchwork & Crochet Cushions

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Life's Ups & Downs

Have you ever wanted to wave a magic wand to make someone's pain go away??

That's just how I felt last night when I had a visit from a young friend of DS1 whose 20 month old daughter has just had major surgery to remove a tumour from her little tummy.  Brave B has lost a kidney and a small portion of bowel and now has to undergo weeks of intensive chemotherapy but she is one amazing little girl.  As I sat with her dad last night listening to the events of the past few weeks and looking at photos of her pre and post op I was overwhelmed and found it very difficult to sleep last night.  She had 6 pints of fluid drained and a 6lb tumour was removed .... that's the average weight of a new born baby and just doesn't bear thinking about ..... the chemo will also result in her not being able to have children of her own but there she was a week after the op smiling and riding around the hospital playroom in a Little Tikes cosy coupe car.  She is a little fighter and an inspiration and her dad is hoping to start fundraising soon for Cancer Research and the marvellous ward that has looked after her at Addenbrooks and I'll report more on that at a later date.

On to another little lady now who had a lovely birthday yesterday with lots of pressies, visitors and a tea party at nanny's house

This is the card I got for her at the Berkhamsted craft fair last month .... the lady who makes them was sitting knitting these tiny little people and they are so cute ... she doesn't have a website but I do have her e-mail address if anyone is interested.
The noise in the house was too much for  Binks who retired to the garden for some recreation and a nap!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Getting ready for a special day

Tomorrow is doubly special because it is Princess Ellie Rose's 6th birthday (how did that happen???) ... one minute I was just a mum and now I am a nan to three soon to be four!  and also number one son comes home for a couple of weeks.

I finished Ellie's birthday quilt just in time this morning and almost forgot that I had bought her a lovely book at the St Albans craft fair a couple of weeks ago.  If you get a chance pop along to this website .... the author was at St Albans himself and has signed it especially for Ellie.  He writes and illustrates them and they are beautiful.

Here is the finished quilt ... I had originally intended to do a girly pink one but once I had seen the Snow White panel I decided to surround it in rainbow colours and it is backed in red cotton.

I also came across a website via another blog (sorry I have forgotten which one) where photo mosaics can be made and here is my first attempt ... taken in the garden before the rainstorms this week.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Phew what a scorcher

I thought I may have spontaneously combusted in the night (hot flushes + high humidity aghhhh!) but managed to sleep and arose this morning to a grey sky and light wind.  I took the opportunity to walk the dogs at 7 am while it was cool and it actually started to drizzle as we left the fields but an hour later the skies had cleared and the sun came out.

The girls and I decided to drive over to Hitchin to have a look at the car boots and also a Vintage Fashion & Accessory Fair that was being held in the Old Town Hall.   The hall was filling up with visitors when we arrived at 10.30 and there were rails of vintage clothes everywhere and lovely 60s music playing to add to the atmosphere.  I just hope that our Craft Fair next weekend attracts as many visitors.

The car boot today was very disappointing ... don't you just hate it when you see the same sellers with the same old tut week after week but yesterday was a little more successful. 
a pair of very colourful curtains made with Harlequin fabric
some more embroidered linens to add to my collection

A blue & white transferware soup dish to add to my collection ... this one dates to around 1860 and is by the Glasgow pottery of J M P Bell .... the scene is of Crystal Palace in London and it has some other buildings in cartouches around the rim which I am going to try and identify.

a pretty little sugar shaker with hand painted flowers which is a souvenir piece from St Anton in Austria

A Victorian cookery & housekeeping book dating to circa 1870 ... I just love looking through these old books for recipes and remedies and the terminology is just hilarious.

Total spend this weekend was £11.00

I am always on the lookout for ways of displaying my bits & bobs at craft fairs and thought I would take a chance on a pine effect shelf unit that I spotted on Ebay .. it was only a few miles away and I was lucky to get it for the grand total of £1.20.  So this afternoon I have been playing around with my cushions and I'm very pleased with the result

No more bootying for a few weeks now because I have three craft markets and two special birthdays coming up ...... this little man has his first birthday on the 28th ... he's walking now so he keeps us on our toes .... and his sister is six on Friday

and that's my baby on the left !

Hope you have all had a lovely weekend ... only two more weeks to the summer holidays x

Thursday, 8 July 2010

What's black and white and red all over ????

My latest mini string block quilt of course

I've been playing around with some fabrics and thought that the black framed the coloured prints perfectly and this one isn't as random as my others.  I have backed it in the pretty vintage style rose print that appear in the strings.  This is the last one before the craft fair in Hitchin on the 17th July and I have just one more to finish for a special little lady who is 6 next week ..... my grand-daughter Ellie.  Here is the work in progress ....

I saw this panel in the Crafty Quilter's shop at the Olde Watermill in Barton a few weeks back ... it is absolutely beautiful and I fell in love with it straight away

With the help of Joanna I chose these co-ordinating prints and it now looks like this

I just have to edge it in the yellow and back it in a plain red cotton.  I do hope my little princess likes it.