Fantastic Mr Fox

It struck me yesterday that there’s quite a lot of foxy business going on in our house at the moment, but a lot less going on in the garden.

I told you a while ago about our fox pooping problem in the garden. Well that seems to have stopped, which is good for our garden but potentially not good for the fox! I googled the life span of a wild fox, and it doesn’t make for happy reading. Although in captivity foxes have a similar life span to their domestic counterparts, in the wild foxes only live for two to five years. It’s a hard life out there, they have to contend with disease, parasites and predators (which in the UK is pretty much us with our cars and chemicals).

I’ll be quite happy if I see the fox again (even if it does mean picking up fox poo) but if, as I suspect, our fox is one of these cubs that were born in our garden a couple of years ago, then he will have reached the lower end of his life expectancy. I’ll think positive: he didn’t look diseased or parasitic and I never saw him roadside, so maybe he’s just gone to poo elsewhere!

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Inside our house it’s a different story. I have a crochet drumroll moment for you coming up.

I’ve been working on a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law for a few weeks. She has a fox that visits her garden that she feeds every day so when I bought this book by Sarah Zimmerman ….

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….. and saw the fox motif, I knew I had to make it for her. This was my first experience of corner to corner (c2c) crochet, and I have to say, while I love the finished project, I didn’t love the process. In order to get the different colours in the right place you end up having lots of different little balls of yarn attached to your work which get tangled up as you crochet and turn your piece.

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I do love the effect when it’s finished though. I think it makes all the detangling and rude words worth it!

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Here’s the motif finished. I decided to make it into a cushion with a stripy back. The stripy c2c was much less faffy than the fox because the colour changes were much less frequent.

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You can see my lovely new clover hook had arrived by this point. This hook practically glides through my work with no snagged yarn and very few dropped stitches. I’ve since ordered lots more sizes so I’m never without a clover hook.

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Anyway, back to the foxes.

Time for the drumroll moment …….

Whoop! Not even into November and I have one Christmas present sorted already!

Now you may think one fox is enough for one house, but not this one. My Little Box of Crochet for September arrived on my birthday (what impeccable timing). Obviously I opened it straight away to drool over the scrummy contents, but I was very disciplined and didn’t start it until after I’d finished the cushion. Look at the box.

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Gives you a good clue to what the project might be, and I’ve also given you an extra hint with our foxy tray behind. 

Here’s the fox himself on the cover of the pattern booklet.

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As ever, the box is crammed full of everything needed to make Gareth the Sleeping Fox as well as some super cute extra gifts.

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There’s a foxy stitch marker which is needed to keep track of your rounds with this project. This was designed by Beth from Koruclay. You can find Koruclay on Facebook, Etsy and Instagram if you’d like to have a quick peek at the goodies.

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And some gorgeous little chicken buttons by incomparable buttons, who are also on Etsy.

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This beautiful, and so so useful tape measure is in perfect keeping with the theme. I told you about the tape measure before here, but here it is again in all its wonderfulness.

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Little Box of Crochet always includes a postcard. This one is designed by Jennie Maizels.

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I’d love to know what other Little Box of Crochet subscribers do with their postcards. They’re far too lovely to actually send (or is that really selfish of me?) I feel I should display them somehow because they’re sooooo pretty.

This project uses waistcoat stitch which I’ve never done before. I started it last night and, oh my goodness, I found waistcoat stitch difficult. I just couldn’t see where my hook was supposed to go, but after frogging my work a hundred times, I think I cracked it, although it doesn’t look perfect!

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I really like it, it looks like knitting. In fact, one of the tutorials I found on YouTube called it knit stitch.

I should probably explain frogging for non-crochet people. It’s a fairly new word to me, and I have to admit I thought it sounded a tiny bit rude and had to google it to reassure myself that the crochet world hadn’t lost its collective marbles, but I get it now I know what it means. I’m sure it wasn’t around before I took my kitten enforced crochet hiatus. It comes from the frog sound ribbit, ribbit. It sounds like rip it, rip it which is essentially what you do when you undo your crocheting.

Well, I think that’s all I have to say about foxes for now. I’ll be sure to show you all my finished Gareth when I get there.

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of the weekend, rainy and blustery though it may be!

A splendid Saturday

I have to say, I had low expectations for today weather-wise, but although it was raining early doors and it was chillier than I would like, it actually turned out quite nice. Of course, when the content of your day is good, the weather is largely irrelevant, and today I had a good day.

We started with a joint effort in the kitchen as we cooked a (healthy, lower fat) full English breakfast to set us up for the day. I stocked up on the ingredients missing from our kitchen yesterday when I popped to M&S to get my lunch.

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Skinny bacon medallions, Branston beans (soooo much tastier than Heinz), sausages (veggie ones for me) and check out the eggs.

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Free roaming hens. Good! The yolks were much more orange than eggs from non free roaming hens and they tasted sooooo good. Plus they were reduced!

I always heat baked beans in the microwave, can’t be doing with having to wash a saucepan.

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The look on Pooh’s face is exactly what my face does when the beans won’t get out of the can into the mug!

7053917C-B116-4C84-AB7C-B25E41CC3EB4Yum!!

My best friend, Kate, arrived early afternoon to pick me up for an afternoon out to catch up after my birthday. We’ve known each other considerably longer than we haven’t known each other. We met at school as a couple of twelve year olds about a hundred years ago and we’ve been friends ever since. We both have busy lives so we don’t get to meet up as often as we’d like, but how ever long it’s been, we just slip into the old routine straight away. She’s more than a friend, she’s family.

She took me here ….

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I didn’t even know this place existed, which is a travesty and a tragedy, because it couldn’t have been more up my alley. There’s a yarn shop called the Knittting Corner where I bought this yarn which is to make a little something for my soon to be born second niece.

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As well as a delicious shop called the Cheese, Gin and Ale Barn where I bought these Alice in Wonderland style flavoured gin baubles.

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The red one is Sibling Cranberry and Clementine and the clear one’s Aber Falls Orange and Marmalade. Double yum!

And, joy of joys, there’s a garden centre!

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And even better, it had a sale table, very aptly called Casualty Bay.

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Obviously I couldn’t resist!

On the left is Erica Cindy and on the right is a Scarlet Patio rose. The Erica Cindy was 50p! Let’s hope I can nurse them both back to full health.

I really need to think about what I’m going to do with the rest of our garden! There’s plenty of room for all the plants I have in the waiting bay (and then some) but it needs some major organisation! Must get on it!

Oh yes, probably shouldn’t admit to this given my last post, but there’s a cafe! Mabel’s Tearoom! It’s such a welcoming cafe.

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Kate treated me for my birthday.

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Whoops (but yum). Healthy eating starts again tomorrow then!

What a lovely lovely day, and there’s still a bit of it left so I’m going to leave you to enjoy your evening.

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Cheers!

Green Girl Gardener has a birthday

So I’m another year older, as they say, but actually, if you think about it, I’m only a day older since age is cumulative.

This time last year we were in Orlando celebrating my 40th birthday (all week I’ve been tortured by this on timehop!) This was my view as I entered my fifth decade.

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I loved 40. The second I turned 40 I felt like a whole load lifted off me. All of a sudden I felt perfectly ok with the fact that I don’t want to party till the wee small hours. That a great night out for me involves a meal and a couple of glasses of wine with good company. That a Saturday night in with a takeaway and a box set is an acceptable luxury. I developed a confidence and a happiness that came entirely from within that allowed me to concentrate so much more on the things that matter and to disregard the trivial. I became far less concerned with the opinions of others. I guess this naturally comes with age, but with me it literally happened overnight.

….. but now on to to 41.

My birthday was yesterday, but actually my birthday treats started the day before. I took the day off work and treated myself to a full body Swedish massage to kick the day off. I get emailed offers all the time from Bannatyne Spa but normally can’t manage to get an appointment outside of work time, but this time I managed to get one on my day off. What a great way to start a Tuesday!

Thoroughly relaxed, I slinked off home, ready to be picked up by my Dad to go and choose my birthday presents. Weeks ago I asked if my (now traditional) shopping spree could take place in Webbs Garden Centre this year instead of in a shopping mall. Dad was game for this as he hadn’t been to Webbs since we used to pop in there on our way to my Dad’s when I was a kid (work that one out then, hey!?)

Webbs is AMAZING! It has a Lakeland and a Hobbycraft inside it, and an incredible food hall which, if you’re lucky, gives away free samples to entice you to buy one of their wheels of cheese or pots of chutney or regional wines.

By the time we arrived, our tummies were telling us it was time for a little smackeral of something, so we bypassed all the amazing houseplants and averted our eyes from the Christmas displays and headed straight to the restaurant. Yum, jacket potatoes, not as good as Ted’s (because that’s not possible) but a pretty close runner-up.

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Tummies full, we headed outside for a trolley and the shopping commenced. I very nearly succumbed to a bear. It was a lovely bear, and very soft and cuddly, but I managed to drag myself away. Our house has its fair share of cuddly toys already so I left it for someone else to give it a home and I wheeled my trolley off to the greener part of the garden centre.

Look at all my lovely gifts.

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There’s a teddy bear! Our house may have its fair share, but what excitement to realise I can continue the bear obsession in the garden!

I’ve been wanting a Cordyline for ages so I made a beeline for those.

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This is definitely going to go in my new planter which was my present from my Dad and Carole.

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A wheelbarrow of grasses! These, along with Hebes, are my current plant loves. In there is Carex Testacea, Miscanthus Gold Breeze, Stipa Tenuissima and Juncus Spiralis. I love the way they wave at me in the breeze.

I never thought I’d have a wheelbarrow as a birthday present! This actually came from Homebase not Webbs. The ones in Webbs were proper galvanised ones and were super expensive! I needed a wheelbarrow, but Monty Don I am not, so a super expensive one was not necessary.

Juncus Spiralis, as the linguists amongst you will have worked out, is curly. Curly grass! How fun.

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I did get one indoor plant.

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The air plant in the shell on the end. This is to replace one of the succulents from my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding which didn’t make it. I couldn’t resist the little tropical fish.

I was at work on my birthday so I waited until I came home to open my cards and presents.

Look how well my friends and family know me.

F29ED728-B407-44B2-9650-66635D37E84BTwelve cards with cats on and a cat mug!

Both my brothers have got my number too.

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Pooh bear!

My friend continued the theme with this lovely Eeyore which I’ve clipped on to my handbag.

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And my husband knows how to melt my heart ….

….. with a card from my fur babies (and a Paperchase one at that!) Picasso eat your heart out!

He got me two floating charms for my Pandora locket …..

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Tiny and cute, huh? They look great in the locket (I already had Mickey).

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And he got me a Newton’s cradle that I spotted in Flying Tiger a few weeks ago.

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I got some more gardeny gifts too.

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Garden centre vouchers and a Webbs gift card and a trug that contains gardening gloves, rustic plant markers and seeds with instructions on when best to sow them. The cactus card was from a special friend. I take ages choosing cards for other people because I always want to pick just the right one that they’ll love and that is relevant to them, so I always appreciate it when I receive cards that have been chosen with thought.

My Mum sent me a handmade bag.

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I haven’t decided what to use it for yet. It’s the right size for crochet hooks but it would be good for cosmetics too. Aren’t the fabrics she used lovely?

This month’s Little Box of Crochet also arrived on my birthday and it’s Oh. So. Good! Gaspworthy! More about that later when I have time to divulge its autumnal contents. The card was from a friend at work and I couldn’t resist including it in the photo because it matches perfectly.

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So, my birthday is over for another year and I’ve been so spoilt by my nearest and dearest and, as ever, it makes me so appreciative of all the wonderful people I have in my life who always find a way to make me feel loved and special, not just on my birthday, but always. Thanks guys, you’re the best – big squeezes to all of you.

Oh, and it’s not over just yet.  I have a meal out on Saturday night with some of my favourite people in the world and another on Tuesday with some more favourites, my oldest friends (in the chronological sense, they’re not all ninety!) and I get to meet up with my best friend at some point soon which we don’t manage very often.

TTFN.