Monday, 25 May 2015

Of Herons, Crochet, and Stuff.

It's taken me a really long time to unwind from 40 plus extremely busy years. That sounds like an odd statement but Empty Nesters will relate. And I don't think we ever do completely relax. Our bodies have been trained and fine-tuned by years of raising children, into something almost super-natural. For instance, we have eyes in the back of our heads, we also hear EVERYTHING...every little creak on the floor boards after a child sneaks in late, rustles in the grass that alert us to possible burglars, a Cat at the window mewing to be let in ( then out, then in, then out, then in again ). Not to mention all the things we intuit. Besides the obvious, we have feelers that stretch all the way across the world where a beloved child backpacks in foreign lands. Mostly for Mr T and I, relaxing times are rare weekends away when we manage to escape to our tiny cabin "in the country" ( it's only an hours drive from the City ). We make every effort to relax and enjoy the abundance of natural beauty. Oh, the sky at night, away from all the city lights, is magical!!  It really is! We're lucky enough to have a lovely neighbour who loves animals as much as we do. His large Bird Feeder attracts some interesting feathered friends. Like this Heron, which I happened to espy while crocheting away on our tiny porch! He was completely out of place amongst the Alpacas, one sheep and three Ducks! Luckily my trusty little point and click was handy but I had to be quick about it because he looked restless and as it turned out, didn't stay long. Have you noticed that most Animals are extremely camera shy. :-)

In the full-nest days I was busily in the flow of daily life, hands on, yet simultaneously distracted... expertly compartmentalising chores, housekeeping, work, children, daily menus, shopping, extra-murals, husband and extended family. The world at large could fall apart for all the attention I didn't pay it, at the time.When all my  little birds had flown the nest I found myself with many skills that now seem redundant. Until I looked at them with new eyes.

Excavating became the order of the day! But only after spending at least 5 years wandering about in the empty- nest wilderness. Finding my feet in unfamiliar terrain was daunting, sometimes downright frightening! I've spent an inordinate amount of time thinking. Sometimes just sitting with a pot of tea or a mug of coffee and allowing all these strange feelings to come and go as they pleased. Many times I felt completely overwhelmed by such a sense of irrevocable loss...of a time that will never be repeated because Nature has decreed it so, that I could easily have filled up another mug, with tears! When I was younger I was convinced Crochet was for little old ladies who had too much time on their hands. :D

Now I see things differently and can appreciate how so many women set aside their creative talents for new skills sets, ones that will be of benefit to their families, mostly. It's really only when our fledglings have flown that we can find some time, refocus, then invite in, encourage and allow our creative juices free reign again.

Crochet has been my most satisfying go-to so far. I just love the smell and feel of good yarn ( almost as much as the fragrance of a delicious Coffee ). I always use either Bamboo Cotton or the Elle Pure Gold DK acrylic yarn ( which is just fabulously soft and comes in dozens of spectacularly gorgeous colours! It's relatively inexpensive too. ). I'm truly blessed to live within five minutes walking distance of my local Yarn Shop. I only recently learned to Crochet and believe me when I say that I could kick myself for not learning so many years ago! I've got lots of catching up to do...and loving every minute of it! Now...where is my hook? :-) xxx

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Harvesting Urban Veggies.

I kid you not. Good old-fashioned Dirt,  is my favourite nail-polish. I do have gloves. Somewhere. And I mean to wear them ( frantically files away at craggy nail ends! ). But look at those Jalapenos!! Too pretty to eat!

I imagine applying lashings of hand lotion, encasing hands in good quality, feminine looking (yet protective) gardening gloves and then skipping off into the back garden and with gay ( yet effective ) prods and pokes digging out weeds and stubborn grass while simultaneously shooing away flies and gently picking off Cabbage Butterfly caterpillars. Cabbage Butterflies are worth all the nibbled Kale leaves though. They're a scourge to many Farmers, who apply horrible pesticides in an attempt to kill off the eggs...but these lovely Fairies are most welcome in my garden.
Photo Credit:

I'm chuffed that my rescued crates from the recycling depot have come in so handy, they really are a perfect solution to Urban Veg Gardening. The seeds are ordered here: Heirloom Seeds. They arrive by Courier and judging my yips of pleasure I'm sure he thinks he's delivering something precious! Which he is. :-)

Not that I've planted potatoes in them yet but they are deep enough for root vegetables. So far I've stuck to 'green things'...Kale, Spinach, Basil, Salad leaves and Peas! I absolutely love that I can just walk out into the back yard and pick a decent sized amount of fresh green things. They say planting your own veggies is like printing your own money and it's true!

Besides, home-grown veggies also seem to last a whole lot longer than store bought ones, which are usually refrigerated for days/weeks before they are displayed to the public as 'fresh'! And they're pesticide free too. Can't go wrong there and worth a try. I've seen amazingly successful veggie container gardens. So I know it's possible to grow (some) food. almost anywhere. Here's a very informative useful Link I follow. They have everything you'll need to know about setting up your own little fresh food store. Good luck! :-) xxx

Friday, 22 May 2015

The Great Family Heirloom. Not!

Honestly, Granny Square crochet stitch is just the easiest stitch to learn!  Heathers lovely tutorial here  And if you have an addictive personality believe me, you'll very quickly find yourself well and truly hooked!

Like me! I'm not a smoker or drinker ( although my coffee habit is legendary!) but yarn is my drug of choice. I will wander into a yarn shop ( sadly too few around here ) and become almost paralysed by the choice of colours. I want them ALL, of course, and if I ever won a lottery ( I should really enter ) the first thing I'd do, after giving most of it away to animal sanctuaries, orphanages, my children, grandchildren, the homeless guy who sleeps under the bridge, and buying a snazzy bass guitar for my open a Yarn Shop and Haberdashery. I would combine this with an all vegan coffee shop, bakery and bookshop with a section for lovely vintage clothing, art supplies and all manner of stationery! Hahahaha...oh look, my mind is wondering again. It happens when you have an empty nest! :D Anyhow...this was my very first start to finish cushion project.

Mostly I could be found sat outside in a sun patch, with our cat Augusta tucked somewhere between my legs and a basket of yarn.

If I recall correctly, I'd intended to crochet 350 little Granny Squares and then stitch them all together into a blanket that would become a much treasured, well-beloved and spoken about Family Heirloom. Instead, I made a cushion which fits perfectly on the seat of our telephone table thingy.

I chose colours randomly and the end result evidenced the successful channelling of my inner " little house on the prairie" look. Who knew! Lesson learned, don't always follow your instincts. :D xxx

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Pretty Purpely Things.

It's odd, don't you think, how some days we notice certain things, more than others. We often don't notice exactly the same things everyday. Like colours. One day it will be all Greens for me. Green will be OUTSTANDING. I will want to wear Green, paint walls Green and crochet Green things. Every shade, every subtle tone of Green will jump out at me. I'll ooo and aaaaah over blades of grass and the variations of Green therein, and every other colour will seem totally blah in comparison. Well, today it was all about the Purples.

Everywhere they popped out at me, shouting their Purples at me. Mind you, I'm not the only one who finds this colour in Nature so attractive. Bees and Butterflies, and I, vied for space...them to collect nectar and pollen, and me to snap a few shots! No easy project. Luckily I'm not allergic to Bees! Once someone told me that Bees and Butterflies adore Pink, Blue and Purple in the garden. Flies, apparently, are attracted to Reds, Yellows and Orange colours. That might be true?

Anyhow... mostly my crochet projects are inspired by nature's palette. It's almost impossible to go wrong if you follow natural combinations. I have a massive Folder filled with "colour inspiration", from Cloudscapes, to Landscapes, to Flower Fields, Tea Sets, Textiles, Stones, Shells, Glass and much more. :-)  Everything shouts out at me to be translated into something Crocheted!

I suppose Painters, Poets and Musicians feel this way too? :-) Considering I don't own a single item of clothing in Purple, and it's not my favourite colour, I found it odd that today this particular colour would appeal to me , so much!

Perhaps I should look up what Purple represents...the colours might be trying to tell me something? If I find out what it is, I'll let you know. :D

I hope today a colour sends a special message to you too. :-)  xxxxx

Tuesday, 19 May 2015


For anyone who can't bear the idea of waking up earlier than the Sun, then please just give this post a miss! I understand. :-)  Three of my children were born late-risers and I often lamented what they were missing. Of course, they thought I was bonkers and there would be a lot of  rolling eyes while I got carried away describing the particular pinks and apricots of a Sunrise sky!

I'm guessing not too many people relate to the absolute bliss of an early morning rise? It seems almost as if the hustle, bustle and burdens of the previous day have been swept away. There is promise in the air, a new day, a fresh start. It feels magical. In those early hours before the Sun has fully risen, there is a stillness, an absence of man-made noises. Just the energetic tweets and twitters of "the early bird (s)", the comforting sound of the kettle about to boil, the clink of a spoon against a steaming mug of coffee. Then open the doors to let our dogs out, and a slow walk about the garden to see what bloomed overnight ( or survived a storm ). Usually I'll log into my computer and take a quick gander to see who's online on social media, or sometimes I'll take a quick peek into crochet Blogland. I don't spend too much time there because I have a habit of getting side-tracked and end up reading the latest news headlines and stories, which is guaranteed to ruin the moment. This morning, after the lovely soaking rains overnight ( very much needed and fairly late for the Cape of Storms ) I opened our back door to a splendid (I use that word deliberately) sky, which appeared truly renaissance!

I wouldn't have been at all surprised to see a host of winged creatures flitting about in the celestial glow! It was awesome...and I experienced no small measure of bliss. We live on a beautiful planet. That's all. :-) xxxxxxxx

Banana, Kale and Sunflower Seed Loaf.

Sometimes my meanderings lead me to the kitchen. Not to make the prerequisite breakfast or dinner but rather something a little more enticing. For me 'something naughty' is anything with sugar! This recipe uses 3/4 cup of brown sugar because, of course, the bananas are sweet too!

Nevertheless I still feel guilty ( I need therapy ) so I start scouting around the kitchen cupboards to see what I can find that will add to the nutritional density of  'the treat'. Which makes me wonder if it's still a treat then? Anyhow, no point in going all analysing Virgo on, onto the recipe ( which I usually make up as I go along ). I'm always as surprised as anyone else when my experiments turn out as palatable as they do! If anything it smells absolutely scrumptious while it's in the oven. Our neighbour poked his head over the wall to ask what was baking! Hahahaha...he's usually quite a grumpy sod.

Banana, Kale and Sunflower Seed Loaf

Pre-heat oven: 360f / 180c
Line a regular loaf tin with baking paper ( not necessary, but makes it dead easy to get the loaf out.)

Wet Ingredients
3-4 ripe bananas ( they don't have to be super ripe but the riper ones are sweeter )
1 cup rice milk ( or any milk of your choice )
3/4 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus the zest of one lemon.
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup packed Kale or Spinach ( if you don't have Kale )

Add all the ingredients to your food processor and blend well...

Dry Ingredients
2 and 1/4 cups white bread flour ( I use Eureka Mills stone ground flour )
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Using a whisk gently blend all your Dry Ingredients together

Now combine the ingredients and stir well...until you don't see floury patches. I like to stir, in loopy motions, imagining I'm incorporating air into my mix! :-)

Pour into your loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife or skewer comes out dry.
Remove from oven and allow to stand in loaf tin until it's somewhat cooler then gently transfer to a cooling rack. Serve with anything sweet, or savoury...or just on its own with coffee ( like I did ).This is a great way to get in some extra nutrients, don't you think? :D

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Beanie Bliss...

So this time last year I decided I'd crochet a beanie. It wasn't the first one I'd crocheted because the very first 'thing' I ever learned to crochet...was a beanie!Way back in 2012 ( followed by two little sling bags ). Hahaha...I just kept going around, and around and around, and it sort of became a beanie without me even trying. Because it was started and finished in May of 2012,  I added an embroidered Poppy. first ever beanie. I can tell you I was as thrilled as anything. I'd been wanting to learn to crochet for absolutely ages, and finally I did...and I'm kicking myself for not trying so many years ago. It always looked terribly complicated. Anyhow, fast forward two years, to this time last year, and I was bristling with inspiration. Honestly, the Cape of Storms is breathtakingly beautiful in the Autumn and Winter...the sky, those colours, the ocean. I could wax lyrical forever!

Of course crochet is my go used to be acrylic paint and board, or watercolours and paper ( and sometimes is still )...but somehow crochet just does it for me. The colours make my heart leap about and my stomach do flip-flops of delight. I can't explain it. And weaving those coloured strands into a three dimensional 'something' like Magic at my fingertips. Not to mention the happy chemicals surging through my entire being! Natural highs! xxxxxx See, I said I get carried away! I started off crocheting what I call my 'ugly' beanie...a functional, loosely crocheted, one -colour -ear -warmer- hair-tamer.Which is now 'lost' ( tee, hee ) then moved on to another uni-colour, Aran, followed in rapid succession ( because by now I was riding that blissful crochet wave) by a slew of nature inspired creations...nothing could stop me...ocean, sky and sand, pebbles and flowers...the colours!!

 Of course they disappeared as fast as I showed them off ( daughters, grandsons, friends baby, son ). I have a crochetpatternreading block, so they literally flew straight from my minds eye and onto the hook. I just love them and luckily kept a photographic record or I'd never remember what I'd done. These river pebbles hit my crochet spot. Usually these neutral, pastel colours are my favourites anyway. :-)

This image of the rusty vintage automobile, with all those lovely colours and pale blues had all my cells skipping about with joy! I absolutely had to translate these colours into something tangible, and a blanket would just take tooooo long. So another Beanie flew off the hook! My grandson quickly claimed this one. He's not too old to think it's "not a cool colour". :-)

We hardly ever see Cosmos flowers down at the Cape of Storms, but growing up in the highlands these pretty blooms with their happy faces, put on a spectacular autumn display along the side of roads, and open fields. Of course a Beanie had to be made... :-)

And I think we can agree this one should be called 'Sky, Sea and Sand" ? :-) I just LOVE those colours!!

I would think it's almost impossible to run out of inspiration when it's all around us, all the time...if only we can step off our busy treadmill and take time to notice the incredible beauty of this planet we call Home. I hope you  stop to smell, and crochet, the Roses? Have a wonderfully colour-filled week! xxxxxxxxxxxx

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Splashes of Bliss perhaps a silly and obvious title for this, my very first post on my very new blog. Nevertheless, it's better to dive in than not even bother twiddling ones toes in the waters of Blogland. :-) I was wondering ( meandering thoughts ) about where one starts and stops a blog, and feedback on this puzzle would be most welcome. But onto the pretty things this week...when the Golden Shower vine burst into bloom, literally overnight.

Well, there were one or two pre-blossoms which didn't get me all blissfully worked up seeing as our tiny garden looks South, straight into every gale, every bluster, every gust swishing up from the south pole! I have a beautiful shrub that remains shredded from the last Black South-Easter! So my expectations were low.

Anyhow back to my bliss ( see, it's not easy to find ), and the glorious rain of Golden Showers! I've added a link here with more info.More about Golden Shower creeper here... I have a totally rubbish camera and tried, in vain I think, to snap the Bees, the hundreds of Bees gorging themselves on pollen and nectar contained in these luscious trumpetty blooms. I forgot that Bees have a sting-attraction to Black, and of course my hair is dark! But this was all forgotten as I nosed right into the vine, amongst the buzzing horde, who thankfully took me for the clot I was and just ignored me. :-) Oh gosh, I was in 7th heaven, blissfully taking in the deep, rich, vibrant orange of the flowers, the dark, olivey- green leaves and elegant, delicate, yet tenacious, snaky tendrils... all set against a gloomy grey-blue background skyscape.

 This vine, which was planted many moons ago by my late mom-in-law, as been given a new lease on life since I took to watering it, everyday, come rain or shine. There's been nothing extra added, no special plant foods, mulching or composting and I'm awed (and not a little humbled) by it's generous, appreciative display. As I poked my head among the blooms I whispered, thank, thank, thank you. Absolute bliss! xxxxxxxxxx.