Tuesday, 10 February 2015

American Adventure

In a couple of days we will be setting off on our American Adventure to Los Angeles and Las Vegas and we are all starting to get really excited about it now. The kids are practically bouncing off the walls in anticipation!

This will be our first ever visit to the USA and we are going as a pre BIG birthday treat with my Dad and his wife who have been many times before ~ this will be their twelfth time in Las Vegas! My Dad has very kindly taken some time to plan out our days to make sure that we get as much from the experience as we possibly can. It is definitely not going to be an holiday for relaxing! But there will hopefully be lots of fun to be had by all!

Our Itinerary for the days ahead looks like this ~

Day 1 ~ Travel to Manchester by train ~ staying overnight in order to catch our flights the next day.
Day 2 ~ Flights from Manchester to Philadelphia, then Philadelphia to Los Angeles.

Now, I have to be honest here and say that I am not particularly looking forward to the long flights which are 16 hours in total each way. We have only ever previously done short trips over to Europe, but everyone reassures me that the flights will seem to go by fairly quickly as there is so much going on to keep you occupied. I really do hope so!

Day 3 ~ Los Angeles ~ Heading off to Malibu Beach, Santa Monica and then onto downtown Los Angeles to see the Walk of the Stars in Hollywood Boulevard and other Hollywood sights.
Day 4 ~ Los Angeles ~ Universal Studios ~ this is the day that the kids are looking forward to the most!
Day 5 ~ Driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas ~ stopping halfway at the old Wild West town of Calico.
Day 6 ~ Las Vegas ~ Visit to the Hoover Dam.
Day 7 ~ Las Vegas ~ Visit to Red Rock Canyon.
Day 8 ~ Las Vegas ~ Spending the day sightseeing around Las Vegas.
Day 9 ~ Flights from Las Vegas to New York (JFK), then New York to Manchester.
Day 10 ~ Train from Manchester to Edinburgh, then another train home, then I imagine it will be straight to BED to sleep off the jet lag!

Over the last couple of days I have been working like an absolute mad woman washing clothes, sorting clothes and stacking clothes in readiness for packing the all the suitcases tonight and I've also managed to find the time to make myself a Stars and Stripes Bag Tag so I can hopefully recognise the aforementioned suitcase at the airport!

See you all when we get back in a couple of weeks :O)xx

Friday, 6 February 2015

Seaside Squares

Around this time last year I made these little seaside coloured Granny Squares and since then they have been sitting at the bottom of my WIP pile waiting for me to give them a bit more attention.

As soon as they surfaced again my first thought was that I wanted to make them a bit bigger so instead of three round Granny Squares I am now making five round Granny Squares and joining as I go. I am also being very good at the moment and sewing in the ends of each square as soon as they are joined.

I am using Stylecraft Special DK in Seasidey colours which are a well known colour palette ~ the ones that I am using are ~

First Row (Neutrals) ~ White ~ Cream ~ Silver ~ Camel ~ Mocha

Second Row (Greens) ~ Aspen ~ Meadow ~ Khaki

Third Row (Blues) ~ Sherbet ~ Cloud Blue ~ Aster ~ Turquoise ~ Denim

I was also going to use Teal but in the end I felt it was just a bit too bright for the look I was after. I wanted a softer more muted tone for this blanket.

I think that all the elements of the seaside such as the water, sky, sand, grass and seaweed are pretty much well captured in the colours that I have gone with.

So far I have made 24 Seaside Squares and I'm absolutely loving the way that they are turning out. I am really glad that I chose to make the squares bigger as it means the blanket will grow much more quickly. My plan at the moment is to have 14 rows of 12 squares so that's 168 squares in total ~ which should keep me busy for a while! Hopefully this blanket will take me much less that three years!!

It's been a bit of an up and down week around here this week, but I have been trying to take some time out to enjoy the little things such as these beautiful daffodils that my Mum bought for me.

And I am also loving that all the pretty spring flowers are just starting to peek their little heads out of the ground just now too.

Wishing you all a very lovely weekend :O)x

Monday, 26 January 2015

Time On My Hands

Just recently I have found myself with a lot more time on my hands as my hours of working have been reduced considerably due to Council cut backs. For some reason or another I am finding it quite difficult to spend the extra time that I have at home wisely. In theory my house should be the cleanest and tidiest it has ever been, but in reality the exact opposite is true! I am finding myself wandering aimlessly from one task to the next with no real focus on anything at all. And because of this I am getting absolutely nothing done and the precious hours that I have been given at home are being well and truly wasted!

I know that as a grown woman I should be able to use my time a bit more constructively but where to begin?

I am not sure that for me that making lists are the answer ~ but maybe breaking my day down into hour long time slots could be the way forward. I really don't want my days to be so structured that I am unable to deviate from it if needs be ~ but until I am able to get my act together and get myself into some kind of daily routine I think that this may be the only way that I will ever get anything done.

Hour One ~ Breakfast and computer time.

I don't know about anyone else, but at the moment this is where I seem to lose an awful lot of my time every day so my time spent on the computer definitely needs to be given a very strict time limit!

Hour Two ~ Laundry, hoovering, tidy upstairs rooms.

Hour Three ~ Exercise.

My poor old body is definitely in need of a bit more exercise. I am about to have a BIG birthday sometime very soon and really do need to motivate myself to get out of the house and move my body a bit more. The fresh air will also do me the world of good too!  I am totally spoilt with my surroundings so there is absolutely no shortage of beautiful places to walk. Obviously this will very much depend on what the weather is doing.

Hour Four ~ Clean kitchen and bathroom.

Hour Five ~ Lunch and some Hooky Time.

Now, I know that you may find this hard to believe ~ but I am even struggling to focus on any of my woolly activities just now. I am hoping that a little bit of allocated time may make it easier for me to focus a bit more and actually get something made.

Hour Six ~ More laundry, ironing and tidying downstairs rooms.

This should take me nicely up to the time when the children get home from school and then it's all hands on deck preparing snacks and dealing with homework related things. Once school is out there is absolutely no time to think about anything else ~ I just have to go with the flow and get on with what needs to be done!

You'll see that I've not actually put any times alongside the hours ~ that way I can mix and match and switch
things around a bit if I want to.

I am really hoping that something like this will work for me and that I will find myself back on track sometime very soon! :O)x

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Wintry Mandala

Towards the end of last week I was hit by a sudden urge to crochet myself a Mandala.

Now I know that these were very popular last year, but for one reason or another I never actually got around to making one for myself. And up until recently I have to say that I've never quite seen the appeal ~ apart from being very lovely to look at they don't really seem to serve much of a purpose!

I had a quick Mandala search on Ravelry and found this pretty pattern and got myself started. I just used yarn that I had in my stash which was good old Stylecraft Special DK ~ however, I think that cotton yarn is probably the best way to go.

As it has been so cold outside recently I decided to use some cool Wintry inspired colours ~ white :: silver :: denim :: sherbet and turquoise were the ones that jumped out at me and seemed the most Wintry. We have been fairly fortunate in this little Coastal corner and have managed to avoid the snow so far but it has still been bitterly cold outside.

I must say that I am quite pleased at the way it has turned out too! I opted to use a standing stitch rather than a chain 3 at the beginning of each new round which I think made a difference and looks much neater than a chain 3. And although I'm still not sure what to do with these pretty little crochet circles I can definitely see me making a few more in the months to come as they really are quite addictive little things to make! At the moment I am thinking that I may try to make one for each month of the year with maybe a seasonal theme running through each one. I quite like that idea ~ but we'll see how it goes!

Hoping that you all have a very lovely weekend ~  :O)xx

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Little Boy Blue Granny Stripe Blanket ~ Ta Dah!

At last ~ I have finally finished my Little Boy Blue Granny Stripe Blanket. This blanket was started away back in October 2011 ~ just a bit more than three years ago! How slack is that!! My poor small boy has been waiting VERY patiently for his blanket to be made. But now he is a very happy boy and can snuggle up in his own crochet blanket the way that it was intended.

This Boy Granny Stripe was made using Stylecraft Special Double Knitting in various shades of blue ~ which were Aster ~ Cloud Blue ~ Denim ~ Royal ~ Sherbet ~ Turquoise. I was also going to use Midnight but once I got started it seemed just a little too dark to sit comfortably with the other blues so I took it out of the mix.

I also decided not to go with working random stripes. I arranged the colours in the order that I thought they looked the nicest and then just repeated the sequence all the way up the whole of the blanket. All very technical!

This was the first few rows after the foundation chain ~ on hindsight I definitely should have gone up a hook size as the beginning of the blanket still seems a bit on the tight side.  You live and you learn!

I not quite sure why this blanket has taken me so long to make or why I seemed to lose motivation along the way ~ however, it's all done now! And it's not put me off blanket making either as I am already making plans to start another one! My daughter wants her own snuggly crochet blanket now too.

This was just over the half way point ~ eleven repeats of colour ~ six different coloured blue stripes in each repeat ~ sixty six granny stripes.

Now for the tricky bit! How difficult is it to try and photograph a large blanket? Nobody told me that I would have to climb on top of furniture and balance precariously with a camera in my hand just to fit the whole blanket into the picture.

However ~ Ta Dah!!

Here it is ~ The Little Boy Blue Granny Stripe Blanket in all it's glory ~ All 122 gorgeous blue stripes of it!

Because the blanket is so big I decided to go with a very simple edge to finish it off. Three rows of treble clusters around the edge of the blanket in Denim, Cloud Blue and Turquoise followed by a simple scalloped shell type border ~ as requested by my boy himself.

Finally ~ some Blankety Facts ::

Yarn ~ Stylecraft Special Double Knitting worked on a 4mm hook.

Measurements  ~ 128cms by 168cms.

Stripes ~ 122 stripes of blue loveliness.

Amount of yarn used ~ nearly 20 x 100gm balls.

Cost ~ 20 x £1.69 = £33.80

Weight ~ just under 2Kgs ~ very cosy and very snuggly indeed!!

I am happy to report that the blanket has been in almost constant use since it has been finished and that my boy has really been enjoying wrapping himself up in his own cosy and snuggly blanket on these recent very chilly wintery mornings :O)xx

Friday, 9 January 2015

Looking Forward ~ 2015

The year ahead looks like it is going to be a bit of a BIG year for us here in the Button Tree household ~ Firstly, three out of the four of us have fairly significant birthdays happening throughout the year ::

Next month I will be having a very BIG birthday which ends in a Zero!
In May my "small" boy will become a Teenager and turn Thirteen ::
In September my "little" girl will turn Sweet Sixteen::

Also in February we will be taking our first ever trip to the United States of America. My Dad has very kindly offered to take the four of us on a wonderful American Adventure to celebrate my BIG birthday. We will be going to Los Angeles for the first few days and then we will be taking a drive up to Las Vegas for the rest of the holiday. We only have five weeks to wait until we head off on our trip and to say that we are all very excited about it is a bit of an understatement!

I haven't really made any other plans for the rest of the year yet ~ other than all the usual plans that tend to be made at the beginning of each New Year. (And then never happen!). A couple of other bloggers posted this list of Things To Do in 2015 and it all does seem like pretty good advice to me ::

2015 To Do List

Eat Less,
Move More,
Buy Less,
Make more,
Stress Less, 
Laugh More, 
Feel Blessed,
Love More, 
Find a quiet spot every day
and breathe :O)x

The one thing that I definitely want to get around to doing this year is to be making more. I haven't really been spending a great deal of time on very many woolly activities for a while now ~ but this year I should hopefully have a bit more time on my hands to surround myself in huge piles of squishy yarn again. I have lots of crochet plans and yarny projects swirling around in my head and it's now up to me to make them happen!

I am absolutely bursting full of excitement and anticipation for the year ahead and am looking forward to seeing what 2015 holds for me and my little family :O)xx

Monday, 5 January 2015

2014 ~ Looking Back

It's that wonderful time of the blogging year that allows you to go through your archives and have a look back at all the lovely everyday things that might be otherwise might be forgotten if they hadn't been blogged about. Here is my yearly roundup for 2014.

January 2014 ~ I started the year by trying to get out and about a bit more in the fresh air and took some very nice, but bracing walks along one of our beautiful beaches.

January 2014 ~ Taking inspiration from my walks along our beautiful local coastline, I had a play about with some neutral, blue and green yarn and made some seaside coloured Granny Squares. These squares are destined to eventually become a seasidey blanket.

February 2014 ~ My birthday month :: My daughter made me a wonderful birthday cake ~ a lemon Victoria sponge with a lemony mousse filling and decorated with my favourite green and yellow jelly sweeties.

March 2014 ~ I enjoyed some more lovely springtime walks along the beach. Our town has two beaches and this one is the West Bay looking towards the harbour. 

April 2014 ~ we spent a week in Disneyland in Paris to celebrate my small boys birthday and had an absolutely fantastic time doing all the wonderful Disney rides and attractions.

May 2014 ~ whilst we were so close to the centre of Paris we spent one of the days seeing all the sights. We tried to cram in as many as we could and saw the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the beautiful Louvre Pyramid, Notre Dame Cathedral and The Sacre Coeur to name but a few!  I absolutely love Paris ~ it's one of my very favourite cities ~ there is so much to see and definitely not enough time to see it all.

June 2014 ~ I added some more stripes to my Little Boy Blue Granny Stripe Blanket :: I am happy to report that I am now working on the edge of this blanket and will be doing a "Ta Dah" post later in the month. It's taken me a while but I'm nearly there!

July 2014 ~ We spent a very lovely week in the summer in the Weardale countryside visiting relatives who live in this beautiful old cottage which is right on the banks of the river Wear.

August 2014 ~ Every Wednesday in the Summertime my boy plays his bagpipes with the local pipe band for all the tourists visiting our seaside town. I never ever get tired of listening to the sound of the pipes and feel so proud of him when I watch him play.

September 2014 ~ September is a month of celebration in the Button Tree household as we got married on my daughter's first birthday ~ so her birthday is our anniversary too! I always get a beautiful bunch of pink lillies from my hubby to celebrate the special day. The smell of them always takes me straight back to the maternity ward. 

October 2014 ~ We made some very simple Halloween decorations from black card ~ this little mouse was one of my favourites.

November 2015 ~ More walking around our beautiful town ~ this time through the park on a very dreich wintery day.

December 2014 ~ my very first attempt at writing a crochet pattern. I made these pretty Flowery Coasters for my hyacinths to make their life on the window sill a little bit more comfortable. The pattern can be found on my blog and on Ravelry.

I hope that you enjoyed this little look back over my year ~ I will be back later on in the week with a little look forward.

Wishing you all a very Happy and Healthy 2015 ~ hope it's a good year for you all :O)x