January so far

You can take the Brit out of Britain but you can’t take the Britain out of the Brit and so with that thought in mind I’m going to start todays post, true Brit style with a bit about the weather. What a mixed bag of weather we have had so far this January! We have had the odd sunny spell (fairly few and far between, I must say), we’ve had rain, we’ve had hail, we’ve had snow and just this last Thursday we  had the mother of all storms, with winds over 100km, schools closed and trees falling left right and centre, it was a bit scary if I’m honest. Most of all though January has been grey, grey, grey and sooo dark. When its so dark outside its  easy to start feeling glum but I can say thankfully that this year it has not hit me in the slightest. In fact the only thing blue around here are the shades of blue in some of the fabric and yarn I’ve been using. I’m not sure quite why, maybe its the fact that I went on the sun bed, burnt my bottom slightly and had a glow for a few days…as the glow worm song goes, its hard to be glum when the sun shines out your bum!!

Image result for glow worm clip artSeriously though, I’m very thankful to be feeling good, whatever the reason.

I’m actually rather pleased with myself at how much I have managed to fit in this January and we’ve still got over a week left. The craft room sort has continued, the bed has gone and whilst we are planning on getting a bed settee to replace it, I’m actually enjoying having the space to spread out a bit at the moment…

At the side of the picture you can see a blanket laid out, this is the baby blanket I have been working on for a friends baby and as it has now been gifted, I can show you. Its actually the first time I have ever bothered to block a blanket as the squares had bunched up a bit. I was a bit nervous about blocking as I hadn’t done it before but I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

I really love this blanket, especially the way you can see the crosses in the squares when the blanket is laid out. I’m very happy to say that the recipient was very happy with it too, which is after all why I make them.

I have been having a little experiment with appliqueing and stencilling bags with the idea of selling them at a craft fairs…

I’d love to know what you think of them.

In recent months as I think I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been  yearning to work with fabric and start using the sewing machine again. I have so many ideas for things Id like to make on the sewing machine but have decided to start with bunting and bags. The bunting is all cut out and ready to go…

and here is the fabric I have lined up for the bags…

I still haven’t actually got the sewing machine out yet, for some reason I’m procrastinating. Its maybe nerves as I haven’t had the machine out for 2 years and I’m a bit worried I wont remember what to do.  I am determined to get it out this week though and to have finished the bunting and a couple of bags by the end of January.

I’ve started running again after just not feeling like it for the last couple of months and am pretty happy with my progress. I even forced myself to go out on my own on a particularly cold and slushy Friday morning on my day off. I’m going to have a look for some 10km races to enter and once I see how they go, I may think about another half marathon.

I’ve even managed to find some time to do a bit of colouring (see top picture). Normally I don’t really see the point of those adult colouring books as you spend so long colouring the picture but don’t actually do anything with it. As part of one of my secret Santa presents at work I was bough a mindfulness colouring calendar, so I thought I’d have a go and as the picture will be displayed for a whole month I thought it was worth giving it a go. I have to say I really enjoyed it, Little Miss was doing her colouring alongside me and it was a really nice way to spend an hour or so.

I hope your January is going well  and that you too are escaping the post Christmas blues. I’d love to know what craft projects you have been getting up to.

Karen x

January projects

In a bid to assign more time to crafting and at the same time set realistic goals (with all the thousands of creative ideas going around in my head that I want to do RIGHT NOW, its definitely worth a try!), I’ve decided to start making a list at the beginning of each month of the projects I would like to do and then review the list at the end of each month to see how I got on.

Here’s what I’m planning to achieve in January:

  • Finish crocheted granny squares baby blanket (I’d best get a wriggle on baby is due on Saturday…eeek!)
  • Continue and hopefully finish crocheted bright stripes full size blanket.
  • Start a crochet poncho for Little Miss
  • Make my first machine sewn fabric bunting.
  • 3x stencil/ applique bags ready for craft stall.

I think this sounds achievable, right off to get started on the bunting, I’m very excited!

What crafty projects do you have on the go? I’d love to hear about them.

 

Karen x

 

Thank you 2017, welcome 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR

I know its a couple of days late but hey ho, its the thought that counts!

New year is a time where we like to look forward to the year ahead and what we hope it will bring, along with our goals to achieve. Whilst I do like to do this, I think its important first of all to look back at the last year and to give thanks for all the good times it brought.

 

2017 was, on the whole a good year for our family. Of course there were some difficult times, especially the loss of a dear relative just before Christmas. However, lots of good times were also had and what better way to celebrate than with pictures:

 

January brought with it a fair bit of crocheting, mostly in the form of hats:

 

February marked the first of our holidays, with a trip to Holland and the start of the granny stripe/ mojo blanket :

 

March was all about the flowers and lots of crafting with little miss:

 

 

 

 

April marked the second break of the year, a few days away in Oberhausen and not forgetting my first half marathon of the year:

 

 

May was the month in which I was introduced to a lovely little ceramic studio and  the start of my addiction to ceramic painting. There was also a visit to England, including running the Liverpool half marathon:

 

In June I ran my third half marathon of the year, took part in a charity 5km run  and had a few nice family local days out:

 

 

July was the only month in which I didn’t post anything here but it was a busy month with 2 trips back to the UK for weddings and a visit by my lovely Mum and Dad and 2 of our nephews and nieces.

What a relaxing month August was with a 2 week holiday in the caravan at the Norfolk broads:

 

 

In September I ran  the Berlin marathon for the second time, raising over £500  and also finished making the squares for the eclectic mix granny squares blanket:

 

 

 

October finally marked the completion of the eclectic mix large granny squares blanket and some heart bunting :

 

November was all about organising my craft room and completing the granny stripe/ mojo blanket:

 

 

December was a busy month. Crafting wise it was all about making Christmas cards.  It was also the month our little girl turned 4, we went on Santa’s steam train, visited Christmas markets, had snow, had a visit from dear friends, had some more snow and  topped the year off with a fabulous Christmas with family back in England:

 

 

Looking ahead to 2018

I tend not to make too many ‘resolutions’ as I think we have a tendency to start the year off setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves and setting ourselves up for failure within the first couple of weeks of the new year. With this in mind I have just set myself a few goals which I hope to achieve this year:

  • Build up my blog readership (I’m not  certain that anyone has actually been reading my blog for the last year and a half. If you read it regularly, please do let me know, so I can stop singing “All by myself…” Bridget Jones’ style as I’m typing )
  • Assign more time to crafting (my Fridays off are going to be dedicated to crafting and building up new crafty skills)
  • To make items to sell at a craft stall (I’ve been meaning to do this for years and have just never got round to it but I’m determined that this will be the year!)
  • To start machine sewing again (the poor sewing machine hasn’t seen the light of day in the last 2 years!)
  • To build on my photography skills and find my way around my new Camera (a Christmas present from my lovely other half).

As well as the above, there may be a bit of running squeezed in with possibly a few half marathons (I’ve got to keep feeding my medal addiction!) but absolutely no full marathons this year!

Have you set yourself any goals you’d be happy to share? I’d love to hear them.

Here’s to a fantastic 2018 and most of all… happy crafting.

 

Karen x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Blissful weekend!

Being a self confessed homebody I love nothing more than pottering around the house, tidying, arranging and crafting whenever possible. With a demanding job I don’t get a vast amount of time pottering at home but  when I do get the chance I make the most of it. Like many people at this time of year, when it can be dark for much of the day, I tend to go into full on hibernation mode, staying in and getting cosy as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong I do like to go out and socialise but no matter how great a time I’ve had out, the best bit for me is always getting back home into the warmth, scented wax burners on, cosy lighting on, a warm drink on hand and a craft project at the ready.

This weekend has just been a blissful mixture of all the things I love best. On Saturday morning little Miss announced she wanted a pyjama day and as I was going out that evening anyway I was happy to oblige. Now sometimes, with a little one in the house, pj days can leave me desperate to get out of the house by lunch time after helping to complete umpty thousand jigsaws, watching cbeebies until my eyeballs want to bleed and being made to crawl around on the floor miaowing pretending to be a cat! Yesterday was, however, refreshingly different! Except for a brief foray into the outside world to do a spot of food shopping we spent the entire day inside. We had a lovely time doing a little bit of baking, watching a minimal amount of tv, doing a couple of puzzles, painting toenails, a little bit of crafting  and some colouring in. Bliss. In the afternoon she took herself off to play in her room, demanding I stayed in the craft room for a while (who was I to argue!). Then she decided she wanted to get in the bath to play with her toy boats and insisted that  put my feet in too so she could wash them! Later in the afternoon a good friend came round with her children and in the evening I went out to a very enjoyable early Christmas function with good friends and work colleagues.

Today has been just as relaxing. Rich took little miss out for breakfast so that I could lie in (which of course, being sods law, I couldn’t) but I managed over an hour of uninterrupted relaxing (slobbing) on the settee with a hot drink, fairy lights on, indulging in a bit of blog reading catch up time. Utter bliss! The rest of the day was spent chilling out in much the same way as yesterday along  with a visit to a friends house this afternoon, where little miss and her friend played beautifully whilst us grown ups got to put the world to rights. This evening Little Miss even decided she needed to go to bed early (absolutely unheard of!) as she was so tired and so here I am catching up on my blog. What a wonderful relaxing weekend.

The only thing needed now to complete the weekend is a little bit of crafty time, so that’s exactly what I’m heading off to do . I hope your weekends were just as enjoyable. Have a great week.

Karen x

 

 

 

Karen  x

More techy problems and lots to think about

On Monday, 3 weeks since my previous post I decided I was going to catch up with my blogging. Imagine my horror when all I saw was error 404, my blog had gone! I’m not massively good with complicated techy things such as websites and didn’t really have a clue what to do. I spent 2 days procrastinating, considering whether it was a sign I shouldn’t be blogging any more. Then on Wednesday I bit the bullet and rang Bluehost and left it in the hands of a techy whizz. They confirmed it wasn’t anything I’d done and promised to sort it out. Lo and behold, less than 24 hours later all was fixed and so here I am. I’ve now decided to take it as a sign (I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason) that I am strong enough to sort out issues when they arise and that there’s nothing that cant be tackled if you seek the help of the right people.

Anyhoo, onto the post I intended to write on Monday…

When I was a little girl, I remember my Grandma saying ‘penny for your thoughts’ whenever any of us were daydreaming. Well, let me tell you, if I was given a penny for each of my thoughts I’d be a rich woman in a short space of time! I think about many different things and sometimes my thoughts just tumble around and around in my head like clothes in a tumble dryer. Crafting ideas and wanting to fit in so many things are the reasons behind a lot of my thoughts but to be honest, I probably spend more time mulling over things than I actually spend doing them. New ideas for crafting are always popping into my head and have lately come even more to the forefront. As a teacher, working 4 days a week and a young daughter, life is pretty hectic and I’m often too tired to spend the evenings doing the crafty things I had planned, resulting in me getting a wee bit (read a lot) grumpy about it! Whilst I do love teaching the younger children, the spark has gone out of it for me a little in recent years with the constant assessing and target setting that happens in education these days. Now, as it happens, my job is due to finish in about a year and a half when our school will close due to the military drawdown in Germany and myself and as a family we  would really like to stay living here in Germany. I could look at transferring into the German education system but the more I think about it the more I feel a pull towards my crafts and it just feels like a sign that I’m ready for a change.

About a year  ago I saw Dennis Quaid being interviewed on This Morning and he was talking about the advice he gave to his kids as they were growing up.I wrote it straight down and stuck it in my diary:

 

Recently it popped to the forefront of my head and I thought ‘yes, this is what I need to do!’

I have so many ideas about what possible direction this could take and when I spoke to my sister about having too many ideas and not being able to decide which ones to pursue, she suggested writing them all down, no matter how silly they may seem. So, last weekend I decided to start a folder/ scrapbook where I can pour out all my thoughts, in the hope that 1) it will free my brain up a little and 2) that within the next 18 months it will help me to build up a clear idea of the way forward. At the moment the folder is a just a plain dull grey but it will undoubtedly be jazzed up soon with the help of a little washi tape 🙂

Whilst losing my job is a scary prospect it feels like the perfect time for something new and I’m actually quite excited about where it could lead so watch this space…

Karen x

ps I’ll be back tomorrow with a less wordy post and  pictures of some finally finished wips! eek, exciting! For now, here’s a little sneak preview…

 

Berlin!

Almost a year ago I had a fit of madness and decided to apply for a place in the Berlin Marathon 2017. Having run  the marathon once before in 2015 and telling myself never again, I quite surprised myself with my application. In November, when the ballots were drawn, I found myself with a place and thought ‘What the heck, I’ve got a year to prepare.’ In the spring and summer I ran a few half marathons, didn’t particularly enjoy them and took longer and longer to complete each race. Throughout the training I’ve struggled both mentally and physically and so as the marathon approached I really wasn’t looking forward to it. In the few days before the event I was aching all over, had an almost permanent headache and wondered if I was even fit to take part. However, there was no way I was letting down all the people who sponsored and supported me, in particular my mum and dad, who came over from England for the occasion. I just kept telling myself I was in it to complete it and sod the time, no-one was going to think any less of me for taking a bit longer than last time. I spent the couple of days before the race dosed up on ibuprofen and repeating the mantras ‘I can do it’ and ‘Thank you’ over and over in my head.

As race day dawned I was so nervous and found myself wondering why the hell I’d put myself through this again, as its such a blooming long way to run, what was I thinking?! However, once there, the atmosphere completely took me over.

 

This photo was taken waiting to start by me on my tiptoes. It really doesn’t convey the massive amounts of runners stretching in front and behind us as far as they eye could see!

How amazing to be a part of something so huge. Even though it was a grey and fairly dismal day, there wasn’t a single part of the race that wasn’t lined with supporters, cheering, clapping and playing music and it really spurred me on. I decided to just set off at a nice steady, comfortable pace and see what happened. As I was so busy taking in the atmosphere and the sights, the kilometres actually seemed to whizz by and at around 14km I spotted Rich, little miss and my Mum and Dad, which gave me a massive boost. At the  20km mark I allowed myself a short walk and took the first of my power gels. I checked out my time so far and was astounded to find that I was actually doing really well and was on track to at least match and hopefully beat my previous time. This knowledge spurred me on no end and I can honestly say that I didn’t begin to struggle until around 36 km with only 6 to go. One of the hardest things at that stage when you’re on countdown to the finish line is that if you track your progress by gps the gps and the official mileage never exactly match. My watch was bleeping telling me I had reached 36km but it wasn’t until another 700m down the road that I passed the official sign for 36km and I have to say that really messed with my mind. I kept at it though, managed to spot my family again at around 40km (I even managed to run over and give little miss a kiss as I passed)and that really gave me the push I needed to get to the finish.

This was at the 40km mark, can you see the desperation in my eyes? Haha!

After all the worry and the self doubt, I am absolutely ecstatic to have beaten my previous time by almost 5 minutes, coming in at 04:19:54 which was beyond my wildest dreams.

Rich has been looking at all the statistics and has informed me that I came in at 4701 out of 11032 women, how amazing is that?! I am so so chuffed, particularly as a day later I’m not in nearly as much pain as last time, with just a few sore toes, one blister and a bit of aching. I would even go so far as to say that I may, possibly, be considering not totally ruling out ever  running another one. Watch this space…

 

Karen x

summer holidays

How did the summer holidays fly past so quickly yet again? It only seems like yesterday that we broke up for the summer, 6 lovely long weeks stretched out ahead of us. Although it has flown, it has been a great summer. After my family left we had a week to prepare and pack the caravan and then it was off to Norfolk for 2 weeks. We were so so lucky with the weather and I actually came back from England with a tan…yes, I know, a tan in England! One of my sisters and her family stayed at the same site for the first week and my brother and sister in law stayed in their caravan on the pitch next to ours for the full 2 weeks.

Just look at that beautiful blue sky!

We also had a couple of friends stay for the middle weekend so it was a great mixture of relaxation and family time. The site didn’t have masses of facilities but there was a swimming pool and that kept little Miss happy. When we are away in the caravan we don’t tend to have lots of days out but spend a lot of time just enjoying being outdoors and making the most of being together. We did get a a few days out though, one being a day on the beach at Great Yarmouth. The day that we chose to go was lovely and warm and we even braved dipping our toes in the sea. There were a fair few people fully immersed and swimming in the sea but it was a bit too cold for me. It was so delightful watching little miss letting the waves splash over her toes (very cautiously at first, I might add). It was the first time she had been to a proper beach rather than a man made beach around a lake. We live quite a long way from the beach in Germany and although whenever we visit family in the England we are actually right at the seaside, it’s always been too cold to go. Plus, at Southport beach it takes about a half hours walk along the sand to even reach the sea! We’ll definitely have to make more of an effort to visit the beach next time we’re back though as she loved it so much. We did however, do the obligatory visit to the amusements whilst we were at the seaside. Far from being amused though, little Miss was not impressed when she put all of her ‘pennies’ into the machine and didn’t get anything out in return!

 

During our caravan holiday we also paid a visit to a farm at Wroxham barns. What a fabulous little place, Little miss loved being able to hold a chick and a Guinea pig. She was a bit nervous when they wriggled but did a great job, keeping still and calm, the chick was on the verge of falling asleep on her lap. She also helped to bottle feed the calves.

I think the highlight for us all (the adults at least) was taking a boat out on the Norfolk broads for the day. What an experience, pootling along the waterways, taking it in turns to drive the boat and enjoying the scenery. I have to admit, I wasn’t particularly good at driving it and much preferred leaving it to the boys. I actually took my crochet with me and managed to hook a few squares whilst Little Miss was being entertained by her Auntie Di. Rich was in his element and spent most of the time that he wasn’t driving, up on the outside of the boat. It’s definitely something we’d all love to do again.

Isn’t that view just beautiful!

It seems almost unbelievable that we’ve been back from the holiday for  2 weeks now…yes I know I’m a bit late posting about it. Since coming back from Norfolk we’ve continued to have beautiful weather and have been making the most of it, spending as much time outside as we can. We’ve been sitting outside a lot in the evenings (whereas normally we’d be inside with the tv on) and I’m determined to make the most of the good weather while it lasts.

It may be back to school for me tomorrow but it’s been a good break and I’m feeling refreshed. Long may that feeling last, I’m intend to do my best to hold on to it for as long as possible!

Karen X

A family visit

At the start of the summer holidays we had a visit from my Mum, Dad, niece and nephew. It actually seems like a really long time ago now but I didn’t want to let it pass undocumented. They arrived on a Saturday lunch time to glorious weather so we made the most of it by spending the afternoon in the garden. The following day we got up early and went out to our local bakery/cafe for a German breakfast consisting of bread rolls, croissants, cheese, salami and ham. Yum yum. Rich, Little Miss and I go fairly often and it is always a highlight of my Mum and Dads visits here. Sunday was all about the food as later that day we went to the Libori. The Libori is a yearly festival with fairground rides, stalls to buy all sorts of bits and bobs that you never knew you needed until you saw them and lots of food and drink stalls. As with most German festivals it’s really just another reason for lots of people to get together and have a good old drink if I’m honest, not that that is a bad thing! Little Miss went on the carousel and then I took my parents and niece and nephew on to the big wheel while  Rich looked after her as she point blank refused to join us despite lots of persuasive tactics. The big wheel isn’t really a ride as such, it’s a little bit like a teeny tiny version of the London eye, it moves around very slowly and gives you a great view over Paderborn. When we got to the top my Mum, who usually doesn’t scare easily, got rather clammy hands and clung on for dear life. She was rather glad to get off it and let her shaking legs recover! After that we had the obligatory German bratwurst and pommes followed by yummy garlic mushrooms. I was a bit rubbish and took very few pictures but if you want to read more about the Libori festival and see some pictures click here.

Unfortunately Monday and Tuesday were very wet miserable days and so we did a bit of shopping and pottering around.

As Wednesday turned out to be another grey day threatening rain, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to pay a visit to my favourite ceramic studio. Unfortunately lots of other people had the same idea and because it was so busy (alongside the fact that I took a restless 3 1/2 year old who can’t sit still for more than 10 minutes, along with me) it wasn’t quite the usual relaxing experience. Nevertheless, everybody enjoyed themselves and came away happy with what they had decorated and with eager anticipation of the finished glazed product. My nephew painted a ‘crazy eyed hungover squirrel!’, my niece sponged a lovely pot with stars for her Mum, my Mum used the bubble blowing technique and some peel off hearts and stars to decorate a pot for her craft room and my Dad was rather pleased with his mug which he painted over peel off stars.

 

 

Now, I had envisaged helping little miss to decorate a plate or a bowl which she could use for her breakfast on a daily basis but as soon as she saw the aeroplane money box she was adamant that she was making a pink aeroplane and there was absolutely no dissuading her!

 

Little Miss’ reaction to her aeroplanewas absolutely lovely. She was so excited when we went to pick it up and she saw that it was so shiny.

When we got it home and she was given  some ‘pennies’ to put in it, her excitement was just priceless. It now has pride of place in our kitchen for all to see! I didn’t make anything this time as I needed to be free to help everyone else at it was their first time, plus I had to keep little Miss on task and stop her from bouncing around the walls and causing havoc! I have since been back and will post pictures just as soon as I pick up the finished article after glazing, eek I’m sooo excited!

Thankfully by the Thursday of my parents visit the weather had improved enough for a walk into Bad Lippspringe and a visit to our local ice cream parlour for waffles and ice cream, yum yum!

On Friday Mum persuaded us to go back into town to revisit the parts of the Libori that we didn’t get to see on our first visit. I was a little bit grumpy about going back as I didn’t relish the idea of walking around the stalls again (over the years I have been to the Libori numerous times so it’s not really that exciting for me any more) but I’m glad we did as I found  a lovely present for a good friend of mine with a special birthday coming up later this year.

All in all it was a lovely visit and as usual went by far too quickly. It was my niece and nephews first visit to Germany and they went home full of news about what a great time they’d had and are eager to come back again. We’d love to have them to visit again but next time I may have to hide the monopoly or set a time limit on the game as I will never get back the 3 evenings I spent being slowly and painfully bankrupted by my nephew!!

Karen x

 

Feeling lucky

When I’m out running I often think how lucky I am to live where I do, within 5 minutes I can be in the countryside surrounded by greenery and visually pleasing landscapes. Within just a 10 minute walk there is a field of flowers  where you can go along, cut your own flowers and put the money in an ‘honesty’ box.

I’ve often run past it but had never actually been before so, on Sunday,  we decided to take a stroll and pick some flowers.

What a beautiful place, there is something really peaceful about being surrounded by flowers, especially sunflowers, they are so bright and cheery, how can that shot of yellow sunshine not brighten up your day?

Little Miss loved choosing her two (which Daddy dutifully cut for her) and took the responsibility of carrying them carefully home very seriously.

Once home she also helped to fill a jug, cut the stems to size and arrange them. They now have pride of place in my hall and make me smile each time I go past.

Maybe next week we’ll go back and pick some Gladioli.

What makes you feel lucky to live where you do?

Karen X

Something to show

I am one of those people who likes to have something to show for their time, perhaps that’s why I like crafting so much. I’m always looking at where my time has gone and asking myself what I’ve achieved so it has irked me somewhat recently that I just don’t seem to have much to show for my efforts. I’m fairly near completion of 2 crochet blankets but they seem to be growing so so slowly and I have a number of other projects that I just haven’t got round to finishing (or in some cases starting) just yet.

Yesterday however, this little beauty turned up in the post and reminded me that although I don’t have a lot of crafty makes to show recently, I have actually been doing something constructive with my time.

Over the last 10 and a bit months I have been taking part in a ‘virtual challenge’ where I had to cover the 1084 miles between lands end and John o’groats by running/ walking/cycling. It worked out at 3 miles a day over a year and despite being behind earlier in the year I managed to finish ahead of time. I’m also in training for the Berlin marathon on 24th September (4 and a bit weeks to go…eek!), raising money for Macmillan.

I’m not sure quite why I keep putting myself through these challenges but it may have something to do with the shiny medals, I think I may be getting a little bit addicted to them!

Karen x