Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Photos of sunshine

Whilst looking at the photos from Norfolk yesterday, I found a folder entitled "Summer". How perfect to remind ourselves of warmer times when it's so frigging cold outside? Perfect I reckon! It's dark when I leave the house in the morning, and it's dark when I leave work, so it's nice to remind myself that it just won't last. Fancy coming along on the late summer ride? How about starting with a glass of elderflower cordial, whilst relaxing on a deck chair in the garden, reading French magazines?

Or enjoying breakfast in the back yard... wow this seems like a million light years away!

Making the most of colourful flowers in the living room...

And late blooms outdoors too...

The last barbecue of the year with homemade burgers...

Water drops after a short shower...

Felix le chat playing in the front garden...

And that late summer sky, so full of heat and blooms and light...

I think I need to start thinking about a holiday in the sun!!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Day trip to the coast

Admitedly, I'm a little late on this one. It happened a couple of months ago, but let's face it, September wasn't a great blogging month for me! Only the thing is, I stumbled upon the photos of said day trip this morning, and I felt compelled to look at them. Who doesn't like photos of the sea, good food and happy times? Beautiful produce, blue skys and sun rays? Exactly. So there, please sit back and enjoy these photographs taken on the North Norfolk coast, when the sun was still high in the sky and temperatures were a little higher.

I North Norfolk

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Gold and silver twigs

That's effectively what I had in mind last weekend. I ended up stinking the place out, even the next door neighbour came out in the cold to find out what the hell I was doing. Oops. Backtrack a few hours, this is what I started out with:

Some twigs, some gold and silver spray paint, a vase begging to be filled with seasonal ornaments and some newspaper for protection.

Fast forward a few days (for drying, the paint does smell quite a lot), add some shiny baubles and here it is!!!

I'm quite excited at the result of this super quick project. Ok the spray paint didn't come cheap, but there's plenty left in there and now I'm left buzzing with ideas as to what to make with what's left. And it did trigger the buying of the cutest christmas baubles - aren't they adorable? I'm still wondering what to do with the rest of them, there were 100 in all sorts of colours in the packet after all!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Autumn wreath

It's not Christmas time yet, it'll still be a couple of weeks before Christmas decorations come down from the attic. Until then, I wanted something to cheer up the house. It's mighty cold out there, and the candles have made their first outing this week. What better way to make the most of the candle-lit chimney breast than by having a lovely autumn wreath placed in prime position?

The inspiration was taken from this lovely website. Practically on the same night I saw it, I went on a hunt for a polystyrene ring and some yarn. I settled on some beautiful yarn which I'd had my eye on for quite some time, although never knew what I could do with it (will tell you the name of it when I find the label!). A few days later, I started wrapping the wool. Two hours it took me. A rather long and boring job, but so satisfying to see it grow before your eyes. A good programme on George Harrison may have helped to keep my brain in focus.

I then started to think about embellishments. Something simple, not too crowded, that made good use of crafty resources already in my possession, whilst showcasing the beautiful yarn. Some felt and foam leaves were cut, wooden and mother-of-pearl buttons were used, red yarn and ribbon helped it come together. Even a lovely red crochet flower I had won from the lovely Miss Mary was attached. I think it shows it off beautifully. All different bits were attached using some thin metal wire. So from concept drawing...

To the real thing...

What do you reckon?

Fancy coming round for a cup of cocoa?

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Green shawl - the beginnings

Three times I started it. Clearly I needed to pay more attention. I was distracted. First it was late one evening, then it was early on the train into work. I don't perform well if I'm feeling tired you see...

A good few hours later and this is what I've got... I'm thinking this is going to take me an absolute age to finish, and I'm really going to have to try very very hard to have it done in time for Christmas. There's a challenge if I've ever set myself one. So no reading on the train, commuting time is strictly Knitting Time.

Before I go, I'd like to say a massive thank you to a very helpful blog friend. I was hoping she might be able to help me at a time of need late one evening because she has an iphone. And I was hoping she would be like me if I had an iphone, and that would be to keep an eye on comments coming through on my blog. I'm so grateful to have this knitting blog help at hand. Mooncalf, thank you and your wonderful iphone. How about that for a 24/7 knitting helpline :-)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Making ahead - Christmas is on its way

It is indeed the time of year to take a few minutes to relax and think. It’s time to make the Christmas cake. This year, I will be hosting my most exciting Christmas so far. It will be the first one in our new home, my first Christmas in my very own house. Plus, my mum and nan will be coming over from France, and Mr Petit Filoux’s parents will also come and join us. That means I shall be cooking for 6. That’s a lot in my book. Especially when you’re only ever used to cooking for two, maximum three, and some have different expectations or needs. So anything I can make ahead of time is a bonus, because it is my goal to keep the whole affair relaxed and enjoyable.

And to be able to do so, one has to prepare. This is like music to my ears, because I love making lists, making things ahead of time and being or-ga-ni-sed. And what actually requires to be made ahead of time? A Christmas cake. It ticks all my boxes. So as usual, I have followed my flexible recipe. I’m thinking lots of prunes, apricots and figs this year. Lots and lots. With lovely orange and lemon zest, none of that candied peel though (does anyone actually like that stuff?!).

I can’t wait to tuck into this one. Maybe with some homemade ice cream? Yeah, my head is buzzing with ideas and making ice cream means another thing which doesn’t have to be made at the last minute!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Little cinnamon kiss

A couple of weeks ago, a fellow Freecycler was giving away some flour. I'm not a right skank, it wasn't just any flour you know! It was Dove's fancy spelt flour, organic and all. I jumped at the chance because I'd always wanted to try it, but could never get myself to pay the money they ask for it in the supermarket. Not knowing where to start, I thought I'd stick to the recipes on the back of the packet. Can't go wrong, right?

Correct! These little cinnamon and honey bites (because they are indeed tiny) are very moorish. But not to the point whereby you might be tempted to down the lot in one go (no, I have no self-control, this has happened in the past), which is good in my book. The best bit is, even when they go a little stale after a few days, they are delicious dipped in a cup of coffee.

Next on the list was a fruit cake recommended by the lady who gave me the flour. She was so kind, she photocopied this recipe for me. It would have been rude not to try it. So off I went, with my imaginary apron on (I really must put those in a more accessible place so I start wearing them), and got cooking.

This cake is really lovely, but not all that either if you see what I mean? I guess it's just a little too christmassy for my liking, in the sense that it's packed full of dried chopped apricots, figs and prunes, and the zest of a lemon and orange, all of which I put in my Christmas cake. So it's not bad at all obviously, just not what I was expecting from a non-christmassy cake. The positive side of it though is that using that special flour hasn't altered the texture in any way and I would definitely use it again. Until then, I might just have to make a few more cinnamon bites.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Map of hearts

You know how sometimes you see something and your immediate reaction is, I could make that! Unfortunately, I think this is something quite common in the craft world. If I see something that I like, I'd much rather have a go at making it myself than parting with my hard earned pennies.

A while back, I saw this. It lingered in the back of my head, I thought it was quite a neat little idea, but I . So when it came to Mr Petit Filoux's birthday and I got myself  stuck with the idea that I was going to give him as many presents as the number of years he'd spent on this little planet, I needed all the help I could get, or rather ideas. I needed a lot of ideas. So this came creeping out of my brain and became reality. I picked locations close to our hearts, just his, just mine, places we'd been together, places that had a significance in our lives. And this is what I came up with. I'm really pleased with it and I can't wait for the house to be in a state where we can put pictures up.

A collection of places and hearts. Happiness.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Me and my staircase

It's practically become a love story. Me and my staircase. My staircase and me (I?). I spent an unholy amount of time bent down over those steps on both Saturday and Sunday, making sure all little corners were covered. One coat of primer, coat no.1 of paint, coat no.2 of paint, coat no.3 of paint... and I won't even go into the sanding work that was done before that... epic it was...

Mr Petit Filoux couldn't help you ask? Well he could and he tried. But the control freak monster peaked its dirty little head out and couldn't face the idea of anyone else touching the allmighty staircase. He just might not do it as well as me, you know? So in the end, he didn't get much of a chance to be fair. I took control, I made my bed and I lied in it. Four coats in total, left side down, up the stairs, right side down. My back was cripple by the end of it, and I swear I couldn't have faced doing a fifth coat, good job it didn't need it. But what can you do when you just can't let go? You keep your mouth shut and you get on with it.

Now all we're waiting for is for the carpet people to come back to fit the stair runner. And that will mark the end of the new flooring saga, the mayhem we've lived in for the last few weeks, the scary emptying of our bank accounts and the restoration of both my sanity and my craft life. Oh how I'm missed you!!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Mum's scarf

I did it in about two weeks I reckon. To be fair, that's all I did. Morning and evening on the train, and very occasionally in the evening. Mostly on the train though, my commute never went so fast! Ends are sewed in, and the beauty of this Baktus is that it doesn't need blocking. The last thing I want to be doing in this manky weather is spraying something with water and waiting for it to dry. Because that might just take more time than I can handle.

Since this photo was taken, I've actually wrapped it. I know, totally bonkers right?! I'm pretty sure I've never wrapped a Christmas present in November. Oh well, there's a first for everything isn't there? And it means that as soon as we get our tree next month, there'll be a little present at the bottom cheering it up.

Christmas still feels like ages ago to me, most probably because I haven't been in the shops much, and therefore haven't been brainwashed with carols and garish decorations. But who cares, I'll be focusing on that photo of stripes a little longer. Don't you love stripes?! I think I may be developing an obsession...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

87 pence

 Actually, they were 29p a bunch. How could I resist?!

ps: Thanks for your shoe storage advice, I need to give it some more thought! The door has coloured glass in the top section, so we can't use a standard over the door hanging solution, but it's given me ideas! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

A cry for (shoe-storage) help

I know you readers, you're full of imagination and come up with the most wonderful things. Now, read closely, because I'm counting on this skill of yours to help me out. Big problem in the Petit Filoux household. We don't know what to do with our shoes once we come in through the front door.

Now, I appreciate this may sound a little odd, but work with me here. When we used to live in our old flat, we had a fairly wide entrance and were able to put one of those little wooden shoe shelves in a corner. Not the most beautiful pieces of furniture, but practical. However in the house, the entrance is really small (it's a cottage after all), and in the four months we've been here, we haven't been able to come up with a viable solution. Let me explain it to you. A little sketch might help? I thought so. Here's an aerial view of the entrance:

What we've done so far is pile up the shoes behind the door (see my wonderful additions to the drawing in green), creating little towers until you actually can't get out the front door. Not good. I'm prepared to be disciplined and only have a couple of pairs each out at once (day shoes/ trainers for example), but even that, well that's 8 shoes that need to fit in somehow. I've looked all over the place (shops/ internet) for clever solutions but haven't seen anything that would suit us just yet. As you can see, there's not much space on either side of the front door either, which means once you step out of the porch, you're effectively in the living room. And once I close the curtain which separates the porch from the room, I don't want to be looking at shoes near my sofa.

That's where you come in! Would you please have a look at my sketch and try and help me? If you have any sort of suggestion, particular shops to check out, something to make even, I'm all ears! We need help!!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Furry visitor

Right, we're talking furry visitors this time. Not the slimey type. Eurgh no thanks.

No no, this time round, think a much much cuter type of neighbour, all ginger and white, with the softest fur ever. It must be a posh cat if you ask me. Those finer traits, shiny coat and delicate manners gave it away.

Looking all posh and gorgeous...

Getting a back massage by Mr PF... ha, not really. I know the photo looks rather weird (not sure what I prefer, the hands so neatly put together, clearly a lot of concentration going into this, or the look on the cat's face), but I think this was the end of a full head-to-tail petting sesh...

But regardless, my heart belongs to this little cuddle monster. He runs to say hello most evenings when I get back from work and clearly enjoys our cuddling sessions as much as I do. He lets me pick him up like a baby (that he is, only a few months old still) and for that I am eternally grateful. So good-natured, so mental at the same time (I think he sees ghosts in our garden, I've never seen a cat jump out of their skin like that).

I Felix le chat

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Soft and squishy

That's how this lovely, lovely yarn from Loop feels. Like I mentionned yesterday, I totally splashed out on the most gorgeous yarn ever. To be fair though, I was quite restrained and only bought one skein. The temptation for more was great, but the bank might not have been too happy. A case of yarn vs. bills. I'm not sure finance people would understand my reasoning.

Anyhow, here it is, a sneak peak. I'm ashamed to say I haven't even started the project I bought it for. It might be time to get myself into gear though, if I don't want to feel the shame of having to give a Christmas present after Christmas.

The idea is to make a nice warm shawl for my French nan, who I don't get to see very often these days unfortunately. I made her one a couple of years ago, and apparently, she's worn that one so much, she could really do with a replacement. This one is guaranteed to be warm too, being a mix of baby alpaca, silk and cashmere (hence the great urge to bury my face in it everytime I see it). Now, let's hope my nan does indeed want a new one and my mum hasn't got the wrong end of the stick... At least it's green, so it'll go with her eyes (is that how all old people reason?!). So here we go, wish me luck, I'm thinking of trying out this pattern.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Happy (b)day

It feels like moonlights ago now that we had a real Indian summer. Not so much of a summer, more of a few days of completely bonkers weather. This pretty much coincided with my birthday about a month ago and I can tell you, I have never worn flip flops in and around my birthday. Totally unheard of. Mental.
This unseasonal weather made for some very enjoyable time in the garden, and even more enjoyable birthday celebrations. Mostly spent indoors but still, the nice weather was appreciated when walking outdoors was involved. It seems so strange thinking about it all now, as I'm feeling so cold all of the time and thinking there's either 1/ something wrong with me - is everyone else this cold all of the time?! or 2/ I should really think about getting my winter clothes out, jumpers, gloves, the whole thing - although what am I going to wear when it gets really cold? I have to pace it out... Anyway, back to the happy days in the sunshine hey? A little bit of walking was necessary to go to this wonderful place, a true alibaba's cave...

I may or may not have drooled all over the place and fingered every bit of yarn I could (before any yarn prudes have a heart attack, this was a joke, calm down, I feasted with my eyes)... And I may or may not have totally splashed out... for a good cause though, I hear my nan might be in need of a new shawl...

A quick pit stop was needed and cake was a definite requirement. A bit of culture with that too, one of my favourite (free!) museums in London...

Followed by some more culture. An absolute treat to be able to walk into a bookshop and just pick books off the shelf and decide I quite fancy the sound of this one and that one, even though I've never heard of them before.

And this stop provided some amusement to Mr Petit Filoux when he realised what the name of the shop was. Because I have a very odd way of pronouncing it. Totally wrong I'm fully aware, but more exotic sounding than the correct way. Something along the lines of PerSEphone (accent on that second syllabe), to rhyme with Stephany. Don't ask.

The birthday day finished in true style with a tasting menu at a Michelin starred Indian restaurant. Indian food is one of my favourite foods out there, and life wouldn't be worth living without curry. The food was to die for, and my tastebuds went to heaven and back. No photos of that I'm afraid because I was too excited (and shy) to get the camera out. One photo was attempted. The result? A blurred photo of myself because I practically jumped out of my skin when I realised the flash was on ;-) So all in all, it was a lovely day. I always feel uneasy whenever my birthday comes up, and tend to focus a little too much on the loved ones that are no longer with us and cannot share the day with me. Mr PF tried really hard though and I'm so grateful for all the wonderful things we did, I had a fantastic time and a head full of beautiful memories!