Saturday, June 30, 2012


A very special boy had a very special birthday recently. I don't why but five seems a very significant birthday. I have watched as many of my nieces and nephews have very consciously and excitedly reached this milestone and Big Pickle was certainly no different. For the first time he needed a count down, wanted to discuss party possibilities, guest lists, invitations.... 
We kept things fairly small but honoured as many of his wishes as possible.

Allow this mama a chance to look back on five wonderful years with a very unique and amazing boy.

We knew before you arrived you would bring us a whole new world of fun, wonder and joy.

So very small and already you made us feel so blessed and so very lucky.....


Your first year you were by turns angelic.......



When you were two you always found the extra fun in every task...........


You became a big brother that year too.......... 

Outside at every opportunity and always finding madcap fun.........

Water has always been your friend.............

At four you walked so proudly.............

And now at five we can't believe how far we've all journeyed together, how many wondrous things you've taught us  and look forward to so much more to come.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Pen and ink magnificence and procastination piles...

Another recovery day spent mostly inside was a nice opportunity for some creativity for all of us.
For me there was some work on the felt deers. This is my first set and I am completely besotted by them and also can't wait to make the next set and iron out a few imperfections in joins and other technique. Kinder have requested as many woodland animals as possible which could equal my first good sale so I am hoping to use the holiday time to get some things together.

Big Pickle's love of drawing that began so suddenly and amazingly a few months ago has continued. Though I once aspired to leading him through a more Waldorf/Steiner style introduction to art with an emphasis on watercolours, beeswax crayons and other quality materials I have had to let go and be guided by where he finds inspiration. Lately its all about ink, often black pens but on this day he found a blue roller ball pen and this amazing scene emerged. Note the parrot on the shoulder, the peg leg, his earrings, the 'mermaid' on the prow of the boat........ 

Another hat finished and in high rotation on the heads of both boys.
We had so much time inside this week due to colds and perpetual runny noses. Plenty of chances to snatch some sewing time you would think but somehow I just keep drifting back to knitting......knitting more hats...I may well have a problem.

In the foreground is a hat for my father-in-law that is in process and behind you see the towering, teetering piles of fabric waiting to become pants for the boys, pyjama pants for Mr Pickle and winter tops for me. Perhaps the weekend will see that pile diminish....................

Pop over to Natural Suburbia to see some other Creative Fridays....

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sniffle, snuffle, cough, cough, cough.....

I do love winter but boy has she swept in with a vengeance round here lately. Generally we are blessed with reasonable fortitude when it comes to colds but the last two weeks we have been working through a batch of nasty coughs, colds and the like.
Some medical assistance was called upon but here at home we have been trying to bolster the fight with some good food and some soothing drinks.
First I tried a Rooibos tea concoction that Linda recommended and found it quite helpful.
I happened upon another recipe when watching a cooking segment on the television and this has become my soothing salvation in the last few days.

A bubbling pot of chicken and vegetable soup was the perfect accompaniment to this mixture:

400ml water
4 cloves
2 star anise
2 cinnamon quills
1 split red chilli
3 cm of ginger, sliced in 3-4 pieces

Put all into saucepan large enough to comfortably hold 1 litre. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Add 150 gms (approx 2 heaped dessertspoons) of honey and 500mls freshly squeezed orange juice.
Simmer for further 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly then pour into tall glass with cut up orange in it.

The spices are just right and the strong hit of ginger is nice with the background zing of the chilli which apparently speeds up the metabolism to aid the body in fighting off the bugs.

Add some candlelight and the healing begins!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hats, hats, hats and rediscovering reading

I love hats on childrens heads. Putting a hat on one of my boys heads feels like giving them a hug that keeps on going. If they are happily hatted I feel like they are safe, nurtured, loved.
Sadly, we have lost a few favourite hats of late, one that I can thankfully remember here (oh how I laboured and learnt whilst knitting that hat!) and one of my own that was knitted by a family friend and can't really be replaced either.
The upside of the losses was the impetus and excuse to knit more and oh how I have!

This orange number was inspired by a lovely hat on a little friends head. Like that hat, this one has a fabulously wide/long band which seems to enable the hat to sit in endless different ways and will undoubtedly fit and work for many years to come.

My intention was that both boys could wear this hat but Big Pickle is claiming it for his own at the moment and says it is 'the best hat ever', perfect for all kinds of pursuits including elephant riding.

Mr Pickle got inspired by all the hat love and decided he wouldn't mind a beanie either so I decided to take heed of the encouraging words of a dear and clever knitting friend who suggested I should try doing hats in the round. With the help of a pattern from this wonderful book, I have discovered, devoured and become passionate about this technique, it makes hat knitting seem so quick and when you finish you are basically done.
I was nervous about doing the decreasing on double pointed needles but found it was really quite straight forward and the effect!! I could gaze on those converging ribs endlessly.
Now I can watch Mr Pickle head off to work each morning with his head snugly hugged in his beanie and comically and endearingly topped with his precious Audio Technica headphones!
I found a lovely wool for this hat too, it was just at Spotlight to my surprise but is a natural undyed alpaca range from Cleckheaton called Perfect Day.  It's a really lovely wool to knit with and is beautifully soft and non-itchy to wear. I managed to pick up a couple of extra balls of this same colour but wish now I had grabbed some of the other colours as it seems to have disappeared from my store.

Whilst browsing the Spotlight catalogue (yes, I do that and my excuse is that its the only catalogue I get thanks to a No Junk Mail sign left behind by a previous occupant) I spotted another promising Cleckheaton yarn range. It's called California and they are 8ply multi coloured wools in several different colourways. The tag identifies it as 100% wool from Turkey and whilst I do like the colours and the effect you get when knitted up it is a very loosely spun wool that has a quite fluffy almost coarse texture that I'm not sure I love. One of the two other colourways I chose is quite similar to the lost hat and may combine well with the precious remnants of that original skein.

The book in this picture is one I have recently finished and greatly enjoyed. The author Chris Bohjalian has written several novels of which Midwives is probably the best known. 
I have confessed previously that I have many books in my home. Years of being a bookseller and working in publishing meant I had the perfect situation to gather together a rather large private library. Shamefully, in recent years particularly since the arrival of the Pickles I haven't been finding as much time in my life for what was once a favourite past-time - reading.
So a resolution was made and I have committed to exploring and enjoying my own library, much of which I have not yet read - shameful perhaps but also very exciting.
To help me stick to this goal and to make me feel nicely accountable I'm hoping to put reviews of each book as I read it on here so I'll only briefly describe this one now:

Compelling generational tale of the Seton family and their summer in the family's country home in New England. This summer vacation is a long standing tradition and brings Nan Seton and her two children together with their partners and children. Usually a lovely oasis of time and a sharing of time between people with very different views and beliefs but a mutual history that holds them together. When a loaded hunting rifle falls into the wrong hands, a horrific accident leaves lives shattered and familial ties severely damaged - can unconditional love conquer all?

Joining in with Ginny for the Yarn Along.