30/08/2012

pretty crochet Peter Pan collars


Hello gorgeous thing.

I like you.

You make me think of ivory gowned Georgian ladies wafting around Hyde Park with parasols and dainty, lacy gloves. Oh my. 

I found this pattern over at Shara Lambeth's blog, and a very nice pattern it is too huh?!? Very clean and simple and most importantly, very easy.

I had some of the lovely Rooster yarn left over from my Springtime Throw in cream (which I personally think is the best colour for a collar), so I thought what the heck, I'm gonna make me a Peter Pan collar.


source: ASOS

I've seen them everywhere recently, have you?

Are you liking the look, embracing the trend, jumping on the bandwagon??  I am.  I think they are ace little accessories and look just as lovely on grown up ladies as they do on little cute gals.

You can get pearl ones, beaded ones, pretty fabric patterned ones and of course the best type of collar of all are the crocheted ones aren't they?  Well I think so anyway...but then I would!!

I started to have a nosey around Etsy and found so many different patterns and styles of collar, my preference is for the vintage and girly look and found this pattern which is quite lovely too but a bit trickier to make.  This time I used the Rooster grape colour. Pretty huh?



I like them both but I think I prefer the simple cream one for wearability and simplicity.  The design of the purple one would suit cute little gals better perhaps, I'm going to make a smaller version, and I did put it on Tilly but she seriously was NOT impressed.  It looked brilliant though, like having a dog straight out of Blackadder II...ACE!

I'm going to carry on making lots of these lovely collars, I have found some awesome vintage patterns online that are really quite groovy and maybe I can have a play about and create something of my own....oh WOW, now that would be cool.

In case you need more convincing about dressing in the manner of a children's literary character, look at this loverly dress from Dorothy Perkins...oh yum, I like the colour!


Source: Dorothy Perkins

And this proper posh (by that I mean dead expensive) silk top from French Connection...


Source: French Connection
 And finally this monochrome dress from Topshop...what a pretty, pretty lace collar.

Source: Topshop

28/08/2012

pregnancy at 35 weeks


Belly's gonna getcha.

Yep, belly's got me good and proper, it chased me (to Benny Hill music of course!) and finally claimed it's prize!

Thing is, people keep telling me that it's small!!!  SMALL?  Are they looking at the same mid-section as me?  Gah!



dress: Gap maternity from eBay for a fiver!! belt and jacket: Topshop, clogs: Lotta from Stockholm

I seem to do these posts one week behind as I'm actually 36 weeks today, which is super scary because it means that I could go into labour at any point!! At. Any. Point.

I hope it doesn't happen this week because:

a. our baby is on the small side (not that you could tell), and needs to put on loads more weight.  This is good because I like big chunky babies with scrumptious chubby thighs, chances are I won't be saying that when I have to push said chunkster out though!

b. we have no baby stuff, it's all being delivered next week..and when I say all, I mean ALL....pram, moses basket, cot, car seat, baby bag, steriliser and a vast array of other stuff whose purpose in life is a total mystery to me.

c. the kitchen is being fitted all week so we are still living off chips, toast and cheese - my body has actually forgotten what vegetables taste like and I'm craving carrots like a ravenous bunny.  On reflection, I'm wondering if I'm missing a trick here, surely hospital food would be one step up? They provide vegetables in hospital, right?

d. I would rather have a September baby than an August baby - I don't know why, apart from the school thing, maybe it's the change of season that makes September such a good month, makes me happy!

Now then, what you're witnessing here is me effectively ensuring that baby Boo does indeed come this week!  I shall shut my trap before the people at the law firm of Sod get wind of it!

I am in love with my clogs from Lotta from Stockholm, they are nice people who sell clogs but you have to get a pair to be in the gang :o)

We have an extra scan on Friday because the baby was in the breech position at the last one.  I hope that isn't the case anymore because they offer you this turning thingy....which sounds repulsive and requires the baby to be manipulated round into the head down position via the medium of, well, pushing hard on my belly to force (FORCE!) the baby around and down.

I'm thinking this may not be for me.  Although the alternative is to be booked in for a caesarean and I'm not that keen on that idea either!

Right I have to go and survey my manor i.e. go and see what's happening with the kitchen and pester the builders to go faster, I'm not entirely sure that this works but I am a desperate lady right now!

Don't forget to enter my anniversary giveaway, it closes on Saturday and you can win pretty stuff and everything!

ps. I wore ankle boots for the first time today in ages and I had terrible trouble getting them on and off due to size of belly, might stick to clogs for a bit longer!





23/08/2012

crocheted cotton wash cloths

New favourite thing.

The cluster stitch.

Used it to make these bad boys.

I love the crazy, yarn eating stitch and I really love the Rowan handknit cotton used to make them.




This is another little project from Nicki Trench (oh my gosh but I do love her!), I have to say though that on this occasion the pattern was a bit lacking.

Basically the original pattern is wrong, it doesn't make sense...confused me greatly and led to much head scratching and frustrated pouting (more pouting than anything to be honest)!

I resorted to raiding the Ravelry vault and found someone who also figured the pattern was wrong but this someone had the smarts to know how to fix it, et voila!!! Wash cloths that are kinda from Nicki Trench but not really cos she got her pattern wrong and so this is all down to clever lalongley on Ravelry....thank you lovely lalongley!



So these are also for the baby, yes I'm actually going to use them to clean sticky baby faces and smelly baby bums and not just sit and stare at them like I do with most of my other crochet creations.  Huzzah!




The cluster stitch is dead easy.  Here is how you do it.

Yarn over and into your stitch. Yarn over and pull through (make it quite loose otherwise you won't get your hook through at the end)!

Yarn over and into the same stitch, yarn over and pull through.

Yarn over and into the same stitch again, yarn over and pull through.

Then you yarn over and pull through all seven stitches on your hook.

Easy Peasy!!

If I can do it then so can you so give it a try and make some pretty cotton wash cloths for all your friends and family (well the grubby ones at least are sure to appreciate them)!

note: I just googled cluster stitch and it would seem that there are loads of ways to do them, so this is just the way that I did it for these wash cloths...don't want to confuse anyone.


21/08/2012

pregnancy at 34 weeks


I have taken to wearing black.

I think this is a good move and my pregnancy addled brain thinks it makes me look less like a weeble and more like a svelte Russian supermodel.  Yep.

I am feeling..., how shall I put it without using a swear word?...chuffing massive!


I have developed the waddle and it is mostly amusing, but not when I want/need to get somewhere fast such as the loo.  No, then it is most definitely NOT amusing!

This big, uncomfortable stage of pregnancy has kind of crept up on me, instead of cute little kicks and flutters coming from my bump, it now feels like the actual alien from Alien is living inside me.  Or as another of my favourite pregnancy bloggers puts it - it feels like I'm gestating a pissed off housecat rather than a chubby wittle baby!!

Stealthy leg swipes, acute headbutting and full-on bladder presses are occurring, inside me, right now. It is the strangest most wonderful feeling in the world and I feel very, very privileged to be on the receiving end.

I visited the midwife yesterday and she told me that I need to start thinking about my birth plan...yikes.  Apart from writing down "give me ALL the drugs, lots of them and NOW....BITCHES!!!" I'm not sure what else to write.


Me and my girl wearing matching pink :o) Top: Boden

I'm pleased to say that whilst massive, I still managed to get into more non-maternity clothes yesterday.  This top from Boden was ordered yonks ago but was on a delay and when it arrived last week and slipped over my belly I actually squealed like a pig!  The little things.

Also yesterday I was approached by a lovely lady called Lauren who is doing a television programme for Sky called Becoming Mum and Dad about first time parents.  She wanted to know if me and Mr P wanted to be on the telly.  How cool is that!

Now we love reality telly as much as the next person, I mean I actually couldn't live without Ice Road Truckers, but being on the telly....NO WAY MAN, nuh uh, not on your nelly!!

That is definitely someone else's dream and if it is your dream and you are having a baby for the first time between August and November this year then email Lauren, she would love to hear from you.  And when you are rich and famous and living like a Kardashian, make sure you remember little old blooming me :o)

19/08/2012

springtime throw is finally finished!


I can't actually believe that this is finished.

I have made something with my own hands and it is finished and incredible!!! Wowee!

I am in shock.  I don't know what to do with myself.




This bitch of a crochet project was finished yesterday and I was going to wait to post about it until we have the nursery finished so you could see it in its rightful home but please note dear reader, the nursery is not even started yet!!.. and I'm too excited to wait.

The squares were all finished in the week and yesterday I got started on the border.  The pattern says to just do one single crochet around the edge but I thought it would look prettier with a double crochet added to the edge too, somehow it makes it look more like a baby blanket.



I think it finishes it off nicely, thank you very much ma'am!

Now I won't say it has been an easy ride.  You need to be a brave warrior to even attempt this project, this is not to say that I am either brave or a warrior, I was just incredibly a touch naive and it wasn't until I was committed that I realised the error of my ways and by then it was too flippin late!

There were times when I couldn't stand the sight of it, it would make me cross just walking in the room where it lived, we would sit and glare at each other in stony silence.

But on the plus side it's easy to make.  I have to keep reminding myself that this was the first ever crochet project I started and I did so because the squares are really quick and simple.  And it is totally worth it (TOTALLY WORTH IT), because look at it, I mean LOOK AT IT would ya..!!!!



Things you need to know if you want to make this blanket (yup because obviously I have awarded myself the title of authority figure, but then I have spent nine months of my life on it so I figured I would be allowed :o)

1. The pattern is available in Nicki Trench's beautiful book Cute and Easy Crochet. Do not underestimate this book, it is full of brilliant and very easy crochet patterns and I have made loads of other pretty things from it so you should have it in your collection.

If you don't want to buy the book, I think that this pattern was featured in an issue of Mollie Makes, I'm not sure which issue but it was somewhere nearer the start of the year so if you subscribe to MM, have a rummage through your back issues.

2. I used the Rooster Almerino DK yarn that Nicki uses in the book.  This is the most beautiful yarn ever, the colours are lovely and the wool is soft and pretty but you need to know that it is:

a. difficult to get hold of, and
b. quite expensive



Also if I knew when I started making it that this would end up being a baby blanket then I probably would have used a much softer, infinitely cheaper and more easily washable baby acrylic.

3. Try to keep your stitches fairly loose and try not to tighten the square up too much when you are sewing in your ends - I made this mistake on way too many of my squares and it made the final stages of crocheting the squares together and edging SO difficult, I had sore fingers and everything!

4. Sew in the ends as you go along otherwise it will destroy your soul.  I mean it.

So that's it.  I am done and feeling a bit smug, don't hate me for it.  I've never made anything like this before in my life and am usually a bit of a dunce when it comes to making stuff so I have good reason to be.

Let me know if you are going to attempt it, then I can give you encouragement and hardcore training advice to get you through to the end :o)

ps. please forgive the excessive use of capital letters and exclamation marks in this post, it's just that I'm so excited....weeeeeeeeeeeee!!







15/08/2012

**giveaway**giveaway**giveaway**


How exciting!!

To celebrate my first full year of bloggy loveliness, I decided that it was finally time for me to do my first ever blog giveaway.

I love (lurve) blog giveaways, maybe because I've been lucky enough to win quite a few fabbo prizes myself, so now it's definitely my turn to spread some blog (and crochet) love.

I've got two pretty things to giveaway, both made by my fair hands with the help of my trusty crochet hook and a big ole bag of yarn.  I hope you like them.


Giveaway No.1
A set of pretty, little crocheted hearts

You can choose your favourite colour set from those pictured below; pastels, reds, blues or greens.

Each pack contains 24 little crocheted hearts with hanging ties so you can decorate anything hooky, twiggy, plant or tree like in your house like a crazy person (this is what I have done, Mr P is fed up of coming home from work every day to find something else decorated with crocheted hearts)!
pastel hearts
red hearts
green hearts
blue hearts

Giveaway No. 2
The cutest crocheted bow ring

You can again choose the colour of your choice from pink, blue or green.
The rings are made from adjustable pretend silver so will fit anyone (and probably make your fingers go green at the same time!)..hurrah!


All you have to do to enter is follow The Blooming Times with Google Friend Connect, you know, over there in the sidebar (--------->) and leave me a comment telling me what your favourite colour is (highly original from the house of Bloom, huh?).  Easy Peasy!
For extra entries you can do the following, just make sure you leave a separate comment for each action to be included in the draw multiple times:

The Blooming Times
  • Add my giveaway button to your blog - see it's over there in the sidebar too (---->)
  • Write a blog post about the giveaway. 
  • Like The Blooming Times on Facebook 
  • Follow The Blooming Times on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway.

I am extremely excited about my very first giveaway but I've managed to contain my excitement for long enough to remember to tell you some boring but essential things you need to know:
  1. The Blooming Times giveaway is open to readers from everywhere.  I will post to you even if you live in Outer Mongolia, and if you get wi-fi in Outer Mongolia then good for you :o)
  2. The giveaway is open until midnight on Saturday 1st September 2012.
  3. I will randomly pick two winners on Sunday 2nd September and announce them here and on Facebook and Twitter too (and then send exciting emails out to the lucky winners with the good news)!!

Good Luck!

ps. feel free to contact me with any questions about The Blooming Times giveaway, click contact at the top of the page for my details.

11/08/2012

my tips for enjoyable blogging



Now I don't claim to be a blogging expert.  Not even close. Nuh uh, no way.

But there is a certain amount of stuff that you learn through trial and error when you do something virtually every day for a whole year.  I know it's a massive cliche to say that the past twelve months have been a journey but they really have and in different ways to those that I had originally imagined (bit like life really).

It's not just the subject matter that has evolved over time but the how, where, why, what and when has changed too.  This along with developing my writing style into something that feels right aka finding my 'voice' (oh yah daarlings, I like found my voice and then everything became, like, smashing), has helped to turn The Blooming Times into something I really enjoy working on, thinking about and planning and that's the best you can hope for isn't it?


So I thought it would be nice to pass on the good stuff, share what I've learned in the hope that someone, somewhere who is just starting to blog or trying to find ways to get out of the blogging doldrums (they happen, they really do), can get some small bit of help.

I love reading tips from other bloggers and am particularly fond of these and these, in fact the whole site is quite an interesting one, so have a browse and learn some new stuff.

Right, here we go with my four tips to make and keep blogging an enjoyable experience (yep, I am like Yoda and everything now, I am):

Develop your own style

You will know instinctively what feels right and what doesn't.  Don't try to force something that isn't there or try to be something or someone that you're not.  This is something that's quite difficult when you first start blogging and have been inspired by some fabulous blogger whose style and personality you lurve.  Do not copy them, do not try to be them.  You are you and that's the great thing about you.

It's lovely to get an idea of someones personality from the way they write and the things they write about and that's why people will end up reading your blog.  Also, trying to be like someone else is quite stressful.  Try to be honest and stick with your own way of doing things.  It works, I promise.

When I started blogging I tried to stifle the urge to crack jokes all the time, especially ones at my own expense but then I realised that actually I do that all the time in real life, I always try to find the funny, so it should be reflected in my blog too...n'est-ce pas??

Find your niche (next thing I'll be asking you to develop a USP!!)

This is a tough one if you just want to write about good stuff, pretty stuff and lovely things in general, which is exactly how I started and I was all over the place writing about makeup one day and beetroot the next.

Now, don't get me wrong, I still write about random lovely stuff but I have a main focus and that is crochet and everything always seems to come back to that.  I think this is because I crochet every single day and so I always have something crochet-related to blog about.

Also I think this helps in finding great places that bloggers hang out, for instance crochet and crafty folk tend to congregate on Ravelry and most of my bloggy friends are into crochet and craft too.  It isn't essential to find a niche but it sure does help and provides a focus for blog planning etc.

Get involved

I have a small admission to make.  For the first six or seven months of blogging I didn't get involved.  There, I've said it.  Now I didn't do this deliberately, I was just blogging for personal reasons and I kinda thought that only my family and friends would be reading it so I concentrated on content and didn't really poke my head out and check out other bloggers.

Then as time went on and I started to blog more about crochet, I started to meet new people.  They kept dropping by and leaving lovely comments and then I would go and look at their blogs and leave them lovely comments and now I find myself with lots of blogging friends, lots of favourite blogs and a huge supply of inspiration.

And inspiration is what it's all about, it gives you a fresh insight into the world; what people like, what people don't like, trends, fads and brilliant new stuff.  Another good place to hang out for inspiration is Pinterest.  I haven't tired of it, still love it and still visit every day, you can always find a brill new thing on Pinterest.

Enjoy yourself

I think this is important.  Unless blogging needs to be your main source of income or you have big, big goals for your blog, just relax and enjoy the ride.  It's completely free.

One of my biggest mistakes was getting all ahead of myself last year and moving over to wordpress, getting a dedicated web address and blah, blah, blah.  It was horrendous, I don't even know why I did it, maybe I thought I would become a blogging mogul or something.  Anyway it led to disaster,  I couldn't figure out wordpress, couldn't understand the domain registration stuff (am still getting emails from them now that worry me!), and I got myself in a right old pickle.

Then one day I thought "this isn't fun anymore" and just stopped.  Moved straight back to blogger, relaxed and now I just enjoy myself.  I blog when I can but don't put too much pressure on myself to do so and instead walk the dog, eat some chips or make something pretty.  So much more fun.


So there you have it.  My Yoda inspired tips for blogging and not a hint of html, google analytics or backlink advice anywhere to be seen.  You can probably tell that I think blogging should be something to be enjoyed and not to be taken too seriously and I hope you do enjoy it (if you partake) and enjoy reading them if you don't (especially mine, you better enjoy reading mine or else!!).








10/08/2012

a year of blogging


Today marks the day. Drum roll please.....

......I have been blogging for one whole year.  Yikes!

My first ever blog post was on Wednesday 10 August 2011 and it was about how much I love wild flowers.

It's really odd to try and imagine myself from where I stood this time last year because so much has changed, not least the size of my belly state of our garden which has gone from expansive wild flower prettiness to a building site and a whole heap of mess! Hence no wild flower blog posts this year!

However, and this will surely surprise you dear reader, the reason I started blogging was not to boast about my lack of gardening prowess, instead it was to tell the story of this little hairy creature who came to live with us in May 2011.  She is the real reason I started babbling to the world, our beautiful Matilda Mahinda Moorhen aka Tilly.


Oh my goodness I still can't quite believe how scrumptious she was, so dinky and perfect and cute.

I had just taken redundancy from my very dull public sector job so we could get this cute little gal and I think it's fair to say that sometimes you have to make a big, scary life change if you want to make your dreams come true.  We had become obsessed with getting a dog to the point where we would moon over other people's when we were out and about (more than a bit embarrassing at times), and we knew that we had to do something about it and that it was never going to happen with us both working full time.

So it was decided, I was being offered redundancy anyway so it would fall to me to look after her for six months at home and then I would find another job towards the end of the year because by then she would be big enough to look after herself (at least for a few hours during the day), and old enough for a dog walker to consider taking on.

Now blogging wasn't exactly on the cards but I got into the habit of reading blogs and once hooked on reading them (as any fellow blog owner knows), you start itching to do one yourself.  So I made the (rather rash) decision and just started, probably should have thought it a bit more to begin with but I just went ahead and did it and in the early days I was a bit random (still am) and wrote lots of posts about Tilly and other stuff like makeup, gardening and food.

Then life went a little bit crazy and blogging took a back seat.

Mr P was faced with redundancy too (both of us in the same year, how mean!), but he (unlike me) was offered a job in San Francisco as an alternative - not too shabby for Mr P huh?  So off we went to check out the Bay area of San Francisco and for quite a while it looked like that was what we would be doing, moving to America. Gulp.


But lady luck was on our side because after a week in San Francisco we realised that we didn't really want to move there after all (mainly because of Tilly) and amid all the panicky realisation of this Mr P was offered a different job in London instead, confirmed as we landed at Heathrow after a super-long and super-uncomfortable flight home. Phew does not even cover the relief, the shoulder lifting, stress relieving joy of knowing that we could stay in our lovely home (strange how much we all of a sudden loved our shabby, little Victorian house)!!

Then, and this was the big one people, I discovered crochet.  I had bought a crochet book as a Christmas present for someone else and when it arrived I started flicking through it, got sucked right in and needless to say that person didn't get a whiff of a crochet book for Christmas :o)

I am in love with it and love finally having a creative outlet after trying and being crap at a random assortment of activities such as painting, knitting, parkour, playing the oboe and gardening.


my first ever crochet creation

The New Year started with me job hunting again only to find out (at the same time as receiving my first job offer) that we were pregnant.  PREGNANT! What a shocker! And what a pity about working again..ahem!!

After a bumpy few months, and all quiet on the blog front, I embraced my blooming blog with a fresh, new perspective.  I've got more focus now and am fully engaged with the lovely blogging community which is massive.  I've enjoyed making new friends who blog and learning from others about what works and what doesn't - this has been completely invaluable over the last few months.

I've narrowed my focus to concentrate mainly on crochet but I'm still obsessed with doing my nails so can't help but write about that and anyway there is so much pretty and interesting stuff in the world that it's quite hard not to get distracted every now and then.

So a year of blogging.  A year where I've gone from complete idiot novice to an experienced old hand.  What a year it's been and so many changes in our lives too.  We've raised a gorgeous puppy, faced down double redundancy, got pregnant, started a huge kitchen extension project and had the best secret wedding ever.


I have loved this past year even though it's been a rollercoaster, thank you all so much for reading and I can't wait to see what joys and experiences the next year brings.

08/08/2012

sulking

I admit it.  I'm sulking.

And I've been sulking for a while now. I can't seem to shake it.

I'm trying not to give myself too much of a hard time about being in a moody because our current set of circumstances are entirely unique and never, never, never in a million years would we have ever expected to be sitting here in this situation.

I'm seven and a half months pregnant.  We haven't had a kitchen for almost three weeks.  We, or more importantly Tilly, has no access to our garden.  The house is full of builders and covered in mud and dust and Mr P has only gone all jet-set and is working in New York this week.  I am on my own.

Big fat bummer, huge massive sulk.

I know I'm an adult and I should know better but it's all just got to me this week and I can't help it.

I also know I have no right to sulk, I'm a very lucky lady and I have so much wonderful, wonderful stuff in my life but sometimes, just sometimes, the pull to give in to behaving like a child ("its not fair"!!!) feels too strong to resist.

I know I'll feel better tomorrow.  I'm sure I will.

I apologise for breaking the "positive blogging" rules but I have to say it's been hugely cathartic to write this post and I do feel slightly better for it, plus I'm having chips for my dinner and that's got to be the best cure for a sulk, ever.