my smile inducers… may 2015

It’s smile time! I want to stop and think about the things that make me smile… smile… and maybe… hopefully… make you smile… and get you thinking about the things that bring a happy smile to your face… or heart… or both. #smilefest

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Another beanie finished and another kid obliged with photos. On a roll. Although the best photo from this lot turned out to be the one where I said ‘You can’t roll your eyes in the photo!’. You know how your kids (adult really – he’s nearly 24!) can get all eyeball rolling when you want to take 20 photos of them in your knitted goods, in the cold, outside? Geez, I can’t understand it! This beanie is a roll up or down cuff variety and is thick and cozy and warm with its beautiful New Zealand wool and a mix of a bamboo/alpaca/merino blend. Chunky and solid and quite ‘blokey’ I reckon.  
Bonus smile: He told me that ‘I turned out pretty good’ [as a parent], it came out in conversation quite innocently even though it sounds a bit weird, the kid telling the parent they turned out ok. We had a good laugh about it and I told him I think he turned out pretty good too… and I have this other beanie I need to photograph…

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This beautiful card brought a heartfelt smile to my face. The stunning image was created from a stamp that my clever daughter drew and then carved out. The movement in the petals, the design in the leaves… Oh how her creative talents blow me away!

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It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Pip Lincoln from Meet me at Mikes, and her latest book ‘Craft for the Soul’ is a smile inducer of the most sincerest kind. There’s so many great ideas in this book to bring some ‘nice times’ into your life, that you’d be hard pressed to feel anything but happy when reading it. Terrific practical ideas to encourage out the creative, spark ideas, and move in the direction you really want to go in. I found myself smirking and giggling quite a bit throughout this book, Pip’s sense of humour is pretty cute! I can see it’s going to be one of those books that I’ll come back to time and time again, and tap into its motivation and positive can do attitude. I don’t even think you need to be crafty to enjoy this book. If you’re on the hunt for a smile then I highly recommend picking yourself up a copy. You’ll be smiling before you know it and maybe even making a pom pom, or crocheting a blanket, or going for a walk everyday, or writing 3 pages every morning.

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We have an arch in the backyard and nearly everyday the same two doves come and sit on top of the arch and snuggle and cuddle and fluff up their feathers and look all cute. My little Dove Cottage has its own little resident love doves. Awww.

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Magical walks under pretty Autumn trees as the leaves gently rain down. Impossible to not smile.

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Walking on fallen crunchy Autumns leaves puts a spring in my step and makes me feel like a kid. If you always stay on the path, then veer off under the tree and take yourself on a crunchy walk and feel the corners of your mouth creep up towards your cheeks!

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The other day I was down and out with one of those dreaded winterish lurgies. My throat was the worst hit, so I took to my trusty old medicine that I purchased in Paris a couple of years ago. Because when I went to live the Paris dream holiday, my tonsils decided it was party time. I fixed them good and proper with a natural medicine bought from the ‘Herboristerie’ down the ‘rue’ (herbalist’s shop). This medicine has a distinct smell and taste (don’t all herbal remedies?) and every time I have it, I am immediately transported back to Paris, wandering the boulevards with my sister, chirping bonjour in a bad accent, and smiling at anybody who looked at me. So, being hit with a sore throat these days has a sweet memory filled smiley french side effect. Nice.

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Toast and Peach Jam made my with homegrown clingstone peaches. Exactly! This is probably just a delicious moment for most people, but for someone deprived of bready goodness for the best part of a decade, it is indescribable joy. I am making my special potato bread on a regular basis and enjoying a bready type breakfast e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y.!.!.!.! It’s such a thrill! Tho’ I might cry when I run out of my Peach Jam.

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I finished this lovely lacey Cashmere blankie. It’s so light and has the softest drape and it made me so very happy to gift it to my mum for Mother’s Day.

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So that’s my little walk down smiley lane. How about you? What’s been making you smile? What’s made your heart happy lately? Has something put the spring in your step? Share a smiley moment in the comments if you’d like… I love to hear some… smiles are contagious you know…

Sending a happy smile your way, hope you catch it!

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one + four = life (baking, knitting, gardening and belts)

The one + four = life series is a ‘lovely weekly visual treat’ created by the lovely Pip from Meet me at Mikes.

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Baking
These are my ugly but delicious Herby Bready Muffiny Thingys. Quite the mouthful I know but very tasty ones at that. Adapted from my Allergy Friendly Toasty Fruit Bread recipe they are fast becoming a fave regular breakfast for me. Only a minute in the microwave and a generous lashing of butter and I have myself a filling healthy tasty warm breakfast. That’s a winter winner in my books.

beanie love
Knitting
I started another beanie as soon as I finished the Baby it’s cold outside Beanie. I’ve since finished this one and am considering which yarn to use for the next one. I’m a bit addicted to beanie knitting I think. They’re fast and satisfying, what’s not to love?

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Gardening
I’m so thrilled with my celery babies… having only recently learned about the whole grow-a-new-veg-from-the-old-veg thing. Do you do that? Do you know about it? Chopping the bottom off your celery and planting it? “They” say to put it in water for a week or so first, to get the roots started, but the lazy option of planting said celery bottom direct into the soil works too. Yay for shortcuts and cheap veg I say.

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Belts
Thing number 196 about being married to a leather man: You will stumble across long strands of leather, stretching from one room to another, tied to chairs, doors, cupboards etc, tempting a midnight trip should you forget they are there.
Some of these belts are in Charlie’s Shop already but most of them are still to be photographed and listed. It’s on the list. But recently we spent a bit of time creating a new item for the shop where you can design your own plaited belt. You simply pick your plait type, leather colour and buckle type, and Charlie plaits it up. It’s been something we’ve talked about doing for ages so to finally tick that one off the list is super satisfying.

I also came across a very interesting little read on the internet this week that I wanted to share. Five things I’ve learned about the creative process by Ben Lee is inspiring and encouraging. An interesting article that helped me look at the creative process a little differently, I thought you might like it too. Let me know what you think?

May you tick something off your list and enjoy hot buttery bready breakfasts.

baby it’s cold outside

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Baby it’s cold outside Beanie.
Yarn 1 (Dark Grey) = 50% Baby Alpaca, 30% Merino Wool, 20% Bamboo.
Yarn 2 (Light Grey) = 50% Alpaca, 35% Merino Wool, 15% Silk.

Just popping in quickly to say hi…. ‘Hi!’ …. and to let you know I finished knitting my beanie. And shock of all shocks, I’ve actually popped it in my shop! I think it’s the first thing I’ve listed in my shop for months. It’s reinvigorated my determination to concentrate more on making items for the shop. I hope you’ll be seeing a refreshed shop within the next few months… or as fast my hands can knit, crochet, snap, type, repeat… etc etc etc…

Meraki

Is that not the sweetest way to describe the process of making something with love… of doing what you love… of following your creative drive to make… of quite literally putting your heart and soul into what you make…. I stumbled across this new-to-me word on instagram via Desert Wanderer. I just love it and am so pleased to have found the perfect little word to describe how a bit of my heart ends up in everything I make.

Speaking of sweet finds, I’ve got two more I wanted to share with you today… just because.

  • The Moral Bucket List isn’t a 5 second read, but it’s well worth the few minutes it’ll take you to read it if you are looking for some inspiration.
  • And this one… because love is beautiful and love that stands the test of time is pretty special.

What are you reading lately, care to share a link?

Wishing you warm Meraki beanies for when it’s cold outside baby!

Thanks to Skye for the Moral Bucket List link, and a special thanks to my beautiful daughter for the beanie modelling xx

craft, music and chocolate

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I’m a bit like this tram at the moment… lots of stops and starts, mostly on the move but kinda going around in circles… it’s been busy lately but there’s been quiet moments too… I’ve been doing a bit of nothing and a heap of everything… Let me see if I can catch you up on some of my favourite things shall I?

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I’m crocheting this blankie.
It’s slow going as I’m changing yarn colour every row… look at all those ends!!! I’m trying to figure out a way to incorporate them into the design and I’ve got an idea, I’ll let you know if it works. I’m loving the colours together and the pattern is a cinch to remember.

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I’m knitting this beanie.
It is going to be quite luxurious. A squishy and soft beanie using two different yarn blends. The darker grey is a mix of alpaca, wool and bamboo. The lighter grey is alpaca, wool and silk. Deliciously chunky and quite the delight to knit as I’m not using a pattern, just winging it.

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I’m baking treats.
I made a batch of my Allergy Friendly Toasty Fruit Bread the other day, only I made a variation of the recipe. Ha – what a shock hey? I am a huge fan of ginger so instead of dried fruit I added crystalized ginger. And I was extra generous with the ginger spice too so it turned out a little like a gingerbread bread… kinda… if you use your bread-deprived imagination. Oh and I tried a garlic and herb version too and it turned out a treat. I popped the savoury mix into a muffin tin so I now have little thyme and garlic bread-like muffin things. I zap them for a mini in the microwave and slather too much butter on. Not too shabby at all.


I’m listening to a lot of Shakey Graves.
I love the way this guy makes music. Both hands, both feet, his voice and his heart. I was lucky enough to see Shakey Graves supporting Shovels & Rope recently and it was the best gig. You know when you see someone doing something and you think to yourself, yep they are doing exactly what they are meant to be doing in life. I really do love my music and discovering new music to enjoy is one life’s sweetest pleasures.

I also ate way too much chocolate over Easter but hey, the Bunny made me do it! I love the guilt free chocolate breakfast that comes with Easter. My break was full of good quality chocolate (because I’m a chocolate snob as well as a coffee snob) including a new to me variety of Lindt balls – Caramel with Sea Salt… umm… yummmm… and too much of my fave Willie’s Cacao milk chocolate with sea salt, deadly discovery that one. And to balance out the indulgence of a chocolate filled Easter, I planted some silver beet, chives, cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy and celery in the veggie garden. Am sure the digging in the garden worked off at least one chocolate ball!?

So how about you, what have you been up to? More importantly, what’s your favourite Chocolate?

Wishing you chocolate filled breakfasts, and music that makes your heart sing.

postcards from the country… peace

After not one, but two cups of the local freshly roasted and ground coffee, with blends named Zen and Smooth Criminal, I knew the day was going to be a goodie. 

The craft came out and stayed out… all day. Charlie stretching, bevelling and plaiting his leather whist I crocheted. The magpies warbled and sung, the ducks quacked and laughed, doing a damn fine laughing Donald Duck impersonation. The currawongs played their familiar tune and the kookaburras let us know the rain was coming… though I could already smell it in the air.
I felt myself unwind like my ball of yarn with every new row I crocheted. And I could hear it in Charlie’s voice, as he too relaxed into the quiet crafty day we had been dreaming of for ages.
Breezy winds rustled the trees and we watched as the early autumn leaves gracefully tumbled through the air, rolling and flipping along the ground until all was still… until the next breeze.
As the sun went down the local owl settled into his rhythmic whooo whooo whoo… and the calm quiet of the country settled into our beings.
Ah yes, that was the feeling I had been missing so much lately… peace. Welcome back my friend, I have missed you so.
Wishing you restful days full of peace.

make a pantone butterfly garland

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Pantone Butterfly Garland
100% Cotton, Crochet.

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I’ve made lots of butterflies lately, including a custom order colourful butterfly garland for someone special. I had a lovely time playing around with colour combinations, and as I did, fell in love with the idea of creating these Pantone swatch inspired ones. Because who doesn’t love drooling over beautiful Pantone colours?

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I have made them before here, but the pattern I used seems to have disappeared from the internet. Luckily I had a couple of screen shots on my phone from when I first made them.  I thought I’d pop the pattern up here in case you want to make some too? They are pretty easy and would be suitable for beginners.

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Crochet Butterfly Pattern
(This is not my pattern, I originally found it on Mariesmaking.com)
I am using US Crochet terminology.

  • Round 1:
    Start with a chain 4 and make a slip stitch join to form a circle OR do a magic loop.  Chain 3, then make 2 double crochets. *Chain 1, make 3 double crochets*. Repeat from * to * until you have 8 lots of 3 double crochet clusters including your first one. Join with a slip stitch into the top of your first chain 3.
  • Round 2:
    Chain 3 and in the next chain 1 space do the following, * 3 double crochet, chain 1, 3 double crochet*. Repeat from * to * in each of the chain 1 spaces until you reach the start of the round where you did your first chain 3. In this space you need to make 3 double crochet, chain 1, 2 double crochet then slip stitch into the top of the chain 3. Fasten off yarn now if you want to change colours. You should have 16 lots of 3 double crochet clusters.
  • Round 3:
    Add your new colour into any chain 1 space, chain 3. Slip stitch in between the next two double crochet clusters. *Into the next chain 1 space, make 9 double crochets. Then slip stitch in between the next two double crochet clusters.* Repeat from * to * until you come to the first chain 3 you started the round with. Make 8 double crochets here, then slip stitch into the top of the chain 3. You should have 8 lots of 9 double crochet clusters.
  • Fold your butterfly in half. Make a chain of about 24-29 stitches and tie this around the middle of your butterfly with a knot at the top. The endy bit become the butterfly feelers. Darn in all your ends and Voilà, you’ve made yourself a butterfly!

The original pattern said to stitch the butterfly together then stitch in a chain bit at the top for the feelers. But I found it impossible to get a neat consistent stitch line up the butterfly, which made the body look all lopsided. I found my little chain method much neater, but feel free to do the stitchy bit it you like.

 

So are you going to make one? Do pop back and tell me if you do won’t you?

Wishing you happy making, and pretty flutterby days full of all your favourite Pantone colours!