Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Here is the picture that was lacking from my last post - the paracord bracelets and keyring. They're great for involving boys in crafting (although mine still love a bit of junk modelling given the chance!).
Despite it being half term I have managed to squeeze in some craft, in an attempt to cross a few items off my to do list. I have completed a cushion to keep for myself (pictures to follow when the day brightens up enough for me to take some photos); finished birthday presents for two girlfriends; I have done some planning for a Christmas cushion that went so wrong I have scrapped my original idea and come up with a new one; located and ordered the fabric I need for 2 further Christmas gifts to make; I spent two hours discussing all manner of craft ideas with my sister that has given me lots more ideas to work on! So, as with any to do list, as 1 item gets ticked off, 2 get added on at the bottom. At least this is an enjoyable to do list to be working on!
I'm off to spend the day making all sorts of things with my mum today which I have been looking forward to for ages. Happy Halloween everyone!
Love Natalie

Friday, 26 October 2012

I'm sorry for the lack of photo introduction today - I had a lovely picture of the man-made (as in made by a man) craft that has been happening in my house this week but the man involved seems to have deleted the picture. When I can get hold of him to find out what he's done with it, I'll try and post it. To give you some idea, there's a big thing going on with parachute cord around these parts at the moment. Ever the boy scout, James insists that he must be prepared for any failings of his parachute cord and therefore needs 6-8 feet of the stuff coiled around his wrist at all times! In the form of a fetching bracelet you understand. I'm not really mocking - it actually is rather good and has set the boys into a frenzy of making their own, which is great. I have also been given a lovely keyring made of the cord as well. There are lots of videos on the net showing you how to make the bracelets and/or "Monkey Fists" which are small balls that look similar to a type of nautical rope ball that I've seen used as a doorstop somewhere. You can buy the cord cheaply enough from eBay as I understand it, if your children/nominated parachutist want to have a go - I think the boys want to make some as Christmas gifts for their friends which is nice. And a homemade keyring will always go down well as a teachers gift.
For everyones benefit (but mainly my own) I also wanted to document my To Do list for next week as I will not be working. It reads as follows (so far):
  • Finish Christmas lavender bags - I've started so many other things, I'd forgotten I'd started these
  • Make patchwork panel for a cushion for my bedroom
  • Finish birthday presents that I've made for 2 girlfriends
  • Acquire fabric for a cushion to be made as a gift
  • Make present tags
  • Get mum to show my how to sew up the panels on a knitted cushion I've made
  • Plan Christmas cushions
I think I could go on but had better stop - if I manage to do all this whilst also entertaining the boys I'll be pleased! I just need to resist sitting at the computer really - reading other  peoples fascinating blogs makes time zoom by and though they are often inspirational, they can suck you in for hours. So, I'm off for a quick flick through pinterest, then I'll crack on......
Love Natalie

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

I'm in one of those predicaments at the moment where I know what I need but I just can't find it. I'm after a piece of material in a particular colour with a certain pattern - but don't ask me what it is! A very good neighbour and friend allowed me to rummage in her bowl of scraps yesterday - this is a photo of the gorgeous fabrics I had to choose from! I selected about a dozen patches/scraps for my future use, though I can't say that any of the ones I picked is the one I'm looking for. Never mind, the hunt continues but in the meantime I spent a glorious half hour or so running these fabrics through my hands thinking of all the possibilities.
Another Christmas present was completed last night (I can't obviously discuss in too much detail in the case the recipient is reading!) before I dosed off in front of the telly. I'm looking forward to the weekend when (aside from attending the Halloween party of the year) I will definitely be making time to sit at the sewing machine. It's Wednesday already, so I think its perfectly acceptable to be talking about the weekend!
I'm blogging slightly early today, which is likely to make me slightly late for dog walking - best be off!
Love Natalie

Monday, 22 October 2012

Ta da! This is a picture of the Pithivier I made on Saturday night - I had never even heard of it until the Great British Bake Off final but it will be added to my repertoire of recipes. It was delicious! It has a little room for improvement - the filling (chicken and chorizo with onions, peppers and sliced new potatoes) was a little dry. I layered everything and I wonder if it would be better mixed. And adding some creme fraiche to make a "sauce" might be better. I will make some changes to it next time and keep you posted as its improves. Of course, if anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them so comment below if you think you know how it could be made even better. One day, when it is only me and BFF eating, I'll make a spinach and ricotta one which I already know will be really scrummy!
From a craft point of view, it has been a weekend not so much of doing as of considering. My Mum and I spent an awfully long time pouring over new magazines to get ideas and manhandling new christmas decorations, pointing out how we could make them and/or improve them. Consequently, the list of projects I want to be getting on with has just got longer (literally - my ideas book is overflowing!).
On a really positive note, during a very enjoyable shopping trip with a friend on Saturday, I  completed most of my Christmas shopping............That won't make me popular, so best sign off I think!
Love Natalie

Thursday, 18 October 2012

It's been a busy week this week with barely any time for baking or stitching! I've had my own version of heaven and hell - heaven in the shape of a horse riding lesson and hell in the shape a date mix up for Scout Camp, leading to all manner of rearranged plans. The plans are now all in place so.....lets talk about the riding! I was given a very special present by a very special friend so spent Wednesday morning at a very posh dressage centre having my first riding lesson in fifteen years. My thighs are certainly paying the price for it today! It was the most fun I've had in ages, despite the fact that I'd forgotten just how exhausting it can be. I'm still smiling. It was fabulous. I'll be going on about it for weeks.....
The heaven and hell reference above gives me a nice link into offering congratulations to John Whaite who was crowned champion on the Great British Bake Off - a well deserved winner in my book. What he lacked in confidence he made up for in technique and general all round                   nice-person-ness. I'd also like to congratulate him on achieving a first in his Law Degree which is also no mean feat, I can tell you!
And finally, the picture above is of the cushion I finished on Monday using the sewing machine and those beautiful Tilda patches I received last week. I can see a couple of imperfections that need to be worked on but overall I'm really please with it. I intend to make at least one more with the same fabrics - with any luck I'll have some time this weekend to do some preparation.
Phew! That seemed to be a lot to catch up on. Due to Scout Camp this weekend (and Party Planning, but that's another story) I'll not be back till Monday. Happy weekend!
Love Natalie

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A bit of a telly blog today.......
Firstly, the final of Great British Bake Off is on this evening and we are all really excited! The children have really enjoyed watching this and we have had many discussions about the fact that they want to cook and eat lots of the dishes featured, but would need to try different foods in order to do so. I hope as they get older they appreciate trying new foods as much as I do. I have tried the "involve them in the cooking" method but it has had no effect. Mr Jones is as bad as they are so what hope is there!
My other telly recommendation is/will be the new Kirstie Allsopp programme which starts soon, featuring all things vintage. I LOVE Kirstie in all her guises and I can't deny that her crafty exploits in the last couple of years, with her Christmas programmes and then last years craft fair series, have really inspired me in recent times. I actually love her a little bit I think. Actually, I know I do! On the press release I was reading last night it didn't give a start date for the series but I have added the accompanying book to my Christmas list anyway.
I'm off to bag my place on the sofa.....
Love Natalie

Monday, 15 October 2012

So here it is - the "new" sewing machine that I've been playing with at the weekend. It has been dusted down, and out, and used to do some patchwork. Unfortunately, all has not gone entirely to plan with my new toy: firstly, it only does straight stitch, and for a project I'm working on at the moment I at least need the option of some zig-zag work; secondly,it has very poor tension on the lower thread. I have re-wound the bobbin, altered the tension screw, re-threaded the top thread, everything that you can think of. I even took it for a session at an IfyouhaveaproblemIcansolveit clinic held by my mother yesterday morning, to no avail. Such a shame - it is a lovely machine and it would have been wonderful to have resurrected it from a lonely life in the loft but it is not meant to be. Fortunately, I've been able to borrow mums machine in the short term to complete the cushion I've been making. My wish list has just got itself a new addition I think! If anyone has any recommendations in regard to new sewing machines (I'll be looking for one that doesn't break the bank) then I'd love to here them. I will post a photo of the new cushion design soon.
Love Natalie

Friday, 12 October 2012

Thank goodness it's Friday!
Birthday celebrations since last weekend seem to have made this week a long one. I received a gift myself in the form of these beautiful Christmas fabrics. Now all I have to do is decide what to make with them! I'm torn between a cushion with a Christmas theme (obviously!) or some decorations for the tree. Anyone got any ideas? I'm not a great fan of bunting if I'm honest but I was thinking maybe little stars or trees, maybe with some sequins and bells for added glitz, to hang around the house throughout December. I will let you know what I finally decide.
This weekend (after the final instalment of George's birthday) I intend to spend some time with my new sewing machine (I lead an exciting life). It's about 50 years old, so new to me but it actually belonged to my mother-in-law. My husband found the instructions on-line so they've been downloaded and I'll soon be ready to go. I'm going to start by sewing some patches together to use to decorate a cushion but the possibilities are endless. I know there are "get to know your knitting machine" courses available these days so perhaps I should sign up to one. Something to think about...
Happy weekend everyone!
Love Natalie

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Because Christmas is approaching, I am doing even more crafting than normal, making cushions, scarves, wrist warmers and present labels. But I also seem to do lots of "craft" in normal life from everyday cooking (the majority of which is from scratch) to sewing Cubs and Beavers labels onto uniforms. Lots of people think they are not really keen on homemade crafts whilst doing quite a lot everyday. According to recent research (, 7 out of 10 people don't know how to sew on a button - this seems incredible really (and makes me wonder what they teach in textiles theses days) but maybe we all need to take a bit of responsibility for this having happened, since fewer and fewer people care about passing on such basic skills. With 3 sons, I'm unlikely to be able to pass on any sewing or knitting skills (although they have all had a go at knitting at one time or another) but I'm keen to help others with daughters to teach them these skills. There are some fantastic knitting kits available at the moment which include all you need to make hats, scarves or gloves. Toft Alpaca have some lovely sets and their wool is beautifully soft. Perhaps we should all buy these kits as gifts for the girls (and boys?) this Christmas? Let me know what you think!
Love Natalie

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

I made these gorgeous wrist warmers last week in my attempt to get ready for the cold weather. They are made with a beautiful chunky wool that I bought at the Great British Craft Fair in the summer. Luckily, I have enough to make a few more pairs as I think I will be asked to make quite a few more and I'd like some for myself! They are unspeakably easy to make if you have nothing but the most basic knitting skills. Comment below if you would like the pattern and I'll put it on the blog tomorrow. I'd love to see photos of other people's versions! Happy knitting.
Love Natalie

Monday, 8 October 2012

Don't turn away - this is still a craft blog! This picture is of a CAKE! An edible football. It is George's birthday this week and as usual, Auntie Sarah has excelled herself and created a football cake. Cake decorating is a craft skill that eludes me - I won't pretend it's something I practise often, it all seems too fiddly to me. But I need not worry as my sister-in-law has never disappointed in her creations, despite being asked to make all sorts of cakes from Teepee's to Tardis's. A red velvet cake accompanied the football but was eaten before I had time to take a photo!
I have managed to squeeze in some crafting this weekend, mostly preparation for pieces to work on in front of the telly during the week. I will reveal all as items are completed.
Love Natalie

Friday, 5 October 2012

Meet Mickleham Bear. He was made by my husbands late grandmother when she was in a nursing home back in the early eighties. After a couple of decades in the loft, he was discovered by my youngest son nearly a year ago and has been much adored (again) since. However, he was in quite a sorry state when we found him so some homemade repairs were called for. Initially, I just knitted him the jumper and scarf to hold all of his body parts together, but late night cuddles have taken their toll and I was awoken by a distressed 7 year old at the weekend holding all of Mickleham's internal organs in his hand! I have now replaced his main body piece with new felt and squeezed the stuffing back in so all is well. It's lovely that such an old toy is still bringing so much pleasure (although I can't help but think of Trigger from Only Fools and Horse's who had the same broom for his entire road sweeping career - he only replaced the handle and the head a few dozen times.....). I was asked by a friend to repair her sons Golly Teddy this week because he quite literally needed a facelift, so that's 2 boys who are sleeping soundly in their beds again. It's wonderful to be able to fix and repair rather than dispose and replace things - that can't be a bad lesson to teach the children.
That's getting a bit deep for me, I best be off!
Love Natalie

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Look at all this beautiful material I received yesterday as my free gift for subscribing to Simply Homemade magazine (published by Practical Publishing). It's a "Christmas Kit" by Tilda - Surf Green buttons and ribbons, an array of gorgeous patches and a copy of Tilda's Winter Ideas. There are some fantastic templates at the back of this book that could be used for lots of other times of year too! I can't wait to get started on some ideas I have brewing with such beautiful materials.
For the record, I have been "blogging" in between walking the dog and doing the school run, so at about 2.45pm each day, despite the time suggested on the blogsite! I will have to work out how to reset something.
Love Natalie

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Like every good Mum with a few dodgy bananas to hand, I made this lovely Banana and Chocolate Chip cake last night. I was determined to get it right this time - I made one last week that didn't go down very well. But lasts nights efforts were a great success. The recipe is all thanks to , a fantastic site that deserves lots of credit for some of the cooking that I have done of late. Comment below if you would like the recipe. As soon as I make them again, I will also feature their Cake in a Cup recipe which was delicious.
As a total aside, could I just draw your attention to squirrels? Not only are they EVERYWHERE at the moment but I think they may be trying to tell us something. My children are going hunting for conkers after school because the squirrels in our garden have pinched the lot! Are we in for a really bad winter? Is squirrel Armageddon looming? Something's not right, that's for sure. And they are tormenting the dogs to boot!
Time for coffee and banana cake - whilst watching the pesky squirrels through the window.....
love Natalie

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Is it too early for Snowman decorations?

I was really motivated to start this blog when I listed all the items I want/need to make for
Christmas - things to give as gifts, for others to give as gifts and maybe even something for myself! I am in the process of finishing off some Christmas lavender bags, I have 1 cushion order and a few people usually get wrist warmers from me. And then there are all the lovely scarf yarns available at the moment - I already have a beautiful purple Scarf on a Ball waiting to be knitted and lots of white "Pom-Pom" wool similar to the large bobble scarves I've made over the last couple of years (I think the proper name is Can-Can wool). If you have basic knitting skills then you can certainly knit one of these for yourself or as a gift - email me if you would like some tips on which yarns to get.
I will post pictures of everything I'm making - if you would like tips on how to make your own or would like me to make anything for you (either something shown on this site or on another) then get in touch.

All this talk of Christmas! I'm off for a coffee and a mince pie.

Love Natalie

Monday, 1 October 2012

Welcome to Love Natalie...! I've been inspired to start this blog because I have rediscovered a love of homecraft that I'd like to share with others - most homecrafts involving basic skills that everyone has! In the way that friends and family have given me fabulous ideas to work on, I'd like to share these ideas with you.
I hope to keep you up-to-date with my own projects and keep you posted on what other bloggers and crafters are up to as well.
Let me know what you think - I can't wait to hear from you!
Love Natalie...