Belfast Zoo – Summer Day Trips Away

The Summer holidays are already here in Northern Ireland, and now the fun begins at trying to keep everyone entertained for two months.

We have been having brilliant weather the past 4 weeks or so, and it really does fell like Summer like this year. So much so that we have already had a day away and our first choice was Belfast Zoo.

As Bethany has grown up we haven’t been to the zoo as much as we used to, when she was little. But she was up for going as well so off we headed bright and early on Saturday morning. The zoo opens at 10:00 am and we arrived around 10:15 am. It was the perfect time, there were a few families already there but it was not crowed which suits us fine.

The layout of the zoo hasn’t changed in years so we were quite familiar with which animals were where. We headed out and below are some of the animals we seen.

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As you can see it was a gorgeous day. Most of the animals were out enjoying the sun when we visited. We arrived just in time at the Chimpanzee house to see them being brought in to get fed. The eldest chimpanzee is the granny of the clan at 46 years old.

One of the highlights of the trip for Bethany was getting to see the Sloth up and close and personnel. When we visited the tropical house before the Sloth could always be found hanging up high on the branches, but this time it was at head height along the walkway. We were able to get some amazingly close up pictures with it, which was special.

So that was our day at the zoo. Where are your visiting this summer? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time.

Heather xx

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A Little Cooking for the Weekend – My Favourite Cookery Books

Did I ever mention that I love baking? Not just baking, but cooking to. I love it, from start to finish. The looking through the cookbooks, picking out a recipe, checking for ingredients, then making and cooking it, and finally the best part, eating it.

Well last weekend I spend a good bit of time baking. I decided to try something that I only try when I’m feeling particularly brave. I baked bread. The recipe I picked was Nigel Slaters Wheaten Soda Bread. Now I have to admit, I am a bit a of Nigel fan girl! And have made quite a few of his recipes with brilliant results, so I had high hopes for this. I found this recipe online in his Guardian column, you can get it by clicking here. The ingredients are simple and easily found (which is always a win), and it took next to no time to put together.

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If I do say so myself it turned out beautifully. It was very hard to leave to cool, the smell was glorious. When it was eventually cool enough to cut, we tucked into it with gusto. Slices of it slathered in butter, AMAZING. I would definitely encourage you to give it a try, and if I can make it, you surely can to.

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Later on I made some brownie. These are my Mary Berry staple, I can now make these with my eyes almost closed. We love these on a Saturday night heated up, with some ice cream over the top. Uuuummmmm.

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After all that food I thought that I would give you a little peek at my cookery book collection. I make no apologies for the amount of books I have, I just love cook books. I can sit a read a cook book like I would sit and read a Val McDermid. I always like to read how the recipes come to be and the inspiration that the cook/chef had when coming up with them.

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As I have said before Nigel Slater is my number one, but in a very close second is Nigella Lawson. I adore the way she writes and the photography in her books is brilliant.

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At Christmas the one and only book I reach for is Nigella’s. It has got me through quite a few Christmas to be honest.

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So let me know, who is your favorite chef/cook and what is your go to cook book?

Until next time

Heather xx

What Have We Let Ourselves in For – Gardening Conundrum

I hope you’re keeping well and have had a lovely week since I’ve been last here.

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It has been another beautiful week here, although there was a few thunder storms over Friday and Saturday past. Thankfully it was later on in the afternoon so all weeding and grass cutting had been finished.

Anyway, this weeks blog post, if you hadn’t already guessed, is more gardening fun.

Since we moved into this house about 18 months ago, there has been one thing that we have wanted to get sorted. However, as the house didn’t belong to use then we just had to live with it (or should I say them). And live with them we have. ‘Them’ by the way are the 30 foot fir trees in the back garden, of which there are at least 12 of!

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Over the 18 months we have looked at them and tried to plan what to do. Do we cut a wallop off the top of them, do we cut them down completely, or do we just leave them and hope the garden fairies sort them out?? We really just don’t known what to with them, as we’ve never come up against anything like this before (is it obvious?). Although there is a pro for keeping them the size they are and getting them pruned and shaped, it is the amount of privacy they provide as the garden of another house runs right down to our boundary. But on the other hand, 30 foot (9 m)!

Well, the decision was taken by us this week after measuring the base of the trees and seeing how much garden they actually took up. The neighbours fence is right behind the trees, so we measure from them out to the branches at the front of the trees. The space taken up by the base of the trees ranges from 7.5′ (2.3 m) to 10.1′ (3.1 m). WOW. That is almost the size of another half of our garden again. So the decision was made there and then that they have to come down.

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This photo was taken from the top of our steps at the back door.

And coming down they are. The husband was out wielding pruners and removed some hydrangea’s that were at the base of the trees. Then on Monday night out he went again. About an hour and a half later I was called out and this is the sight that greeted me.

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I shouldn’t have been surprised really because when he takes a notion there is no holding him back (I wish he was the same with the iron though!). To be honest I did stand back and think, ‘what have we let ourselves in for, these things are massive?’. Well we’ll soon find out.

So there you have it, the start of the taking down of the trees. This could be a slow process, but we are determine to have the garden that we have always wanted. Somewhere to relax, to sit out on a nice day with a drink and to have some lovely flowers and shrubs planted as well.

Oh and I almost forgot, we have fruit. There are now 2 strawberries ripe for the picking in our planter. Not enough for strawberry jam but it’s a start.

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Until next time

Heather xx

June – Green Fingers

Oh my goodness, how can it be June already. I didn’t realise that I’d been away from the blogisphere for so long. How are you, I hope you’ve been keeping good?

I’ve been doing well and keeping busy with loads of stuff, however crochet hasn’t been one of them. It has sort of fell by the wayside recently as I just seem to be crocheting for the sake of it. Which, to be honest, isn’t giving me any sort of joy at all. Therefore I decided that I’m going to take a little break and if the notion takes me then I’ll pick up my hook again. But until then I still have plenty to do to keep me busy.

As the weather has been beautiful here, me and the husband have been spending more time outside trying to get the garden into some shape. We have recently bought this house, although we had been renting it for 18 months before hand. And as with renting you feel like you can’t do to much in case you upset the landlord. Well we are now the landlords of our abode so we decided to rip everything out of the garden which would fit in our brown bin and start afresh!

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Now this is no slight undertaking as neither one of us is overly green fingered. Although, I do have to admit that the husband is good at growing sunflowers and potatoes in buckets (don’t ask!). So we have made a start on the front garden. We have planted potatoes, carrots, peas and beetroots in what was a very overgrown flower bed to try and break the ground up a bit, as the soil was very compacted with plastic sheeting and about 2 ton of stone on top. We also have planted some strawberries as well, and I have been warned to leave them until they are ready to be picked, and not to eat them one at a time.

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It’s not a very flowery garden this year but I have to admit that I do love the spring daisies and buttercups that are popping up all over the lawn and we have a few other pots of plants which have been with us for years. Also there is a beautiful purple flowering tree in the corner which thankfully won’t fit in the bin so has had a reprieve for another year.

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I haven’t been doing much inside at the moment as I am trying to get as much vitamin D as is possible. I’m still working on the cross stitch though, which I’ll update you on next week and I’m also doing a fair bit of baking and cooking as well (trying some healthier options). So if you’re interested let me know and I share a few of the recipes that I make with you.

Until next time

Heather xx

 

TA-DAH! Ruffle Sleeve Crocheted Cardigan

TA-DAH!! I didn’t think it would be possible but I have the Ruffle Sleeve Crochet Cardigan by Sewrella finished within a week and a half of starting it. And boy am I pleased. I have had it hanging up on my mannequin and each time I go by it I can’t help but touch it and look at it, and say to myself, ‘you made that, all by yourself!’. Look, even if you had have said to me a couple of months ago that I would be crocheting a cardigan I would have though you had took a turn, or that I had, and hadn’t heard you right.

Anyways let me take you on the journey of me making this beautiful cardigan (if I do say so myself).

As I showed you in a previous post, I choose to use the Schachenmayr Soft & Easy Originals yarn in colour Leinen. And as I have said before, it is so soft for an acrylic yarn, you could even use this for children’s clothing or blankets and it wouldn’t be scratchy. I started the cardigan on Saturday the 14th April, and was amazed at how quickly it worked up. You make the back panel first, and then the two front panels.

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By mid week I had all three panels finished and ready to be sewn together. So Saturday 21st April I started to stitch the panels together. Now I never think that anything I stitch together looks great, but Sewrella uses a blanket stitch to hold the panels together and I found it pretty straight forward to do, and the seam didn’t come out too bulky. When the panels were stitched together I then started crocheting the hem all the way around the cardigan. This is to take the rough look of the edges and pretty it up some what.

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On the Sunday I decided that I’d start the sleeves. I was nervous doing these as I wasn’t sure how the ruffle would work, but again it was straight forward and this time I used the Youtube video to follow what to do, as I like something visual to work off. So after watching the video I settled down with Country File on and had a pretty productive night as you can see below.

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Now one sleeve was done, just the other one to finish. So the project was packed into my work bag come Monday and little bits done here and there on breaks and I had the second sleeve all finished up by Tuesday 24th. A week and a half and it was finished!!

I have surprised myself this time and even the husband has put an order in for a jumper next Winter, so it must look OK. I have tried it on several times and although it is not overly heavy it is still lovely and warm, so will be great for Spring, Summer and Autumn.

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I hope that this inspires you to try something new, as sometimes things are not as hard as they may seem. Let me know what you think of the cardigan now that it’s all done.

Until next time.

Heather xx

Crocheting Clothing – What Have I Started??

I know, I never thought that I would say that I’m giving crocheted clothing a try either, but hey, nothing ventured nothing gained. To be honest I totally fell in love with the ruffle sleeve crochet cardigan by Sewrella and decided that I just had to make it.

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Photo Credit to Sewrella

This is really unlike me, because the minute I think about making anything clothing related I think off hundreds of excused not to make it and that usually puts the end to any plans of becoming Vivienne Westwood out the window! But when I seen this cardigan I knew that I just had to make.

I checked out the pattern (you can get the free version by clicking here) and it looked pretty straight forward just treble and double crochet (I think I can handle that). So then it was a hunt to find the yarn. Now in England you do get Lion Brand yarn but if it is anything other than Thick N Quick or their everyday stuff, it’s like hens teeth to find. So eBay got a quick search and I did find the Jeans Yarn that Sewrella uses but not in a colour that I wanted. Next stop was Yarnsub. Now I don’t know if you have ever used this website before but it is brilliant. It gives you all different yarns that you can substitute the original yarn with and marks it out of 100% as to how close it is. I ended up choosing Schachenmayr Original Soft & Easy which was matched at 95%. I had never heard of this brand before but after checking out the Loveknitting website they had some in stock in the colour I wanted, so I though, why not, for £20 I can have all the yarn I need to make myself a cardigan that I actually like and will hopefully wear for years to come.

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When the yarn arrived I was so pleased. For it to be a 100% acrylic yarn I couldn’t get over how soft it was. As quick as I could I did up a swatch and found that I needed to use a 5.5mm hook to get the sizing right.

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I have been working on it a little bit each day and have the back almost done. Did I say how soft this yarn is, and the drape is beautiful. It really is yarn love I think!! I’ll keep you updated on how it’s coming along. At the rate that I’m working on it I should have it finished next week (here’s hoping).

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In other news, I have the Contour Shawl finished. It just needs a few ends sewn in and then blocked and that will be that. The colours of this shawl are stunning and no matter how I take a picture they just do it no justice whatsoever.

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So over the coming weekend I hope to get it blocked and a few photographs taken to show you the completely finished product next week.

I think that’s you up-to-date on my goings on for this week.

Until next time

Heather xx

A Change of Pace for Easter

It wouldn’t have been a bank holiday weekend if there hadn’t been a bit of rain about. Well, when I say a bit of rain, it rained for 4 days solid here! So with nothing else much to do, crafting was definitely on the cards.

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Just before Easter I decided to treat myself to a little cross stitch kit from Fandom Cross Stitchery. Cross stitch was my first love. It was an introduction from my Aunt that started me cross stitching at about the age of 17 or so (a late bloomer I know). We would go to craft fairs together and oohhhh and aaahhh over the multitudes of cross stitch patterns there were. Animals, samplers, unicorns, Native American, food, you name it and there was sure to be a kit there with whatever you thought up of, on it.

Like most I started with a few little samplers and worked my way up until my last cross stitch was this Geisha Girl. Now this project has been on the go for the best part of 15 years, and if I would pull my finger out I could probably finish her in a month or two at most. But I have back stitching to do and like sewing in the ends in crochet this is a job that I really don’t look forward too. You might say, ‘sure leave the stitching, she looks perfectly fine without it’, but believe me when you see the stitching all done it make a world of difference. It makes everything that little more crisper.

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But also as you can see from the picture when I open her out from having her stored away, I have noticed that there is an orange mark on the fabric. I think this might be rust from one of needles I had stored with it and I’m not sure how to remove it without ruining the whole cross stitch. If you have any suggestions please feel free to share because I am a bit nervous taking this on (I really don’t want 15 years of on/off work ruined in the blink of an eye!!).

We very recently bought the house that we were renting and there have been lots of decorating ideas flying about. I have had an idea for the kitchen, and as we have quite a big blank wall at one end, I was thinking if I could make a few little quirky cross stitch patterns I could hang them up randomly like pictures and make a nice feature wall of them. I suggested this to my husband and he really don’t get my creative ideas, lets just put it like that. Anyway let me show you the kit that I bought this time.

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So this was my first cross stitch purchase off Etsy. It really is brilliant. It comes with full instructions and if you are new to cross stitch everything is there to get you started. What I loved with this kit, is that the threads are all sorted for you already. I know there are only 4 colours to sort, but even that few minutes I think, is time that could be spent getting starting on the pattern.

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And Easter wouldn’t be Easter without the flu entering the household, so I haven’t been able to get as much done as I would have liked. I’m working away on it at the moment and hope to have it finished in the next week or two at most. Just cross your fingers for me that 15 years later it’s still not on going!! No, I want my kitchen wall to look all stunning with my little cross stitches on it, so I need to get going and get this done. I’ll keep you posted on how I’m getting on and show you the finished product.

Until next time

Heather xx