Category Archives: What’s New @ Number 2

Cool stuff I’ve made for the house, husband and kids.

DIY Holly Wreath – Recycled Coat hanger

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holly wreathThings are getting very festive here.  Yesterday, after my 8K run (smug), I was up at the church to help decorate for Christmas. Everyone brings greenery from their gardens and dumps it in a huge pile in the church foyer.  I help every year, it’s a great opportunity to share and catch up with the people.  We had home made rock cakes, tea and a plenty of time to chat.  I made a giant wreath for the pulpit (didn’t take my camera or even phone – sorry).

There was lots of variegated holly left over so I brought some home to re-style my coat hanger autumn wreath.  I pulled all the leaves off my coat hanger and proceeded to wire my holly on.  It was a right fiddle and my hands got stabbed to bits!  It’s really a bit too early for decorating (in my book) but the opportunity arose.  That’s another job off my list then. Tonight the Christmas lights go on in the village so it’s all systems go.

DIY Candy Advent Tree

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candy tree adventMy kids love advent – Christmas is coming; and, they usually get a chocolate advent calender.   We gave up on those cheap cardboard ones years ago as the chocolate is not nice.  Some years ago, I bought a re-usable calender with little felt bags that you fill with your own sweets.  I have four kids so they normally take it in turns getting a few sweets in thier allocated bag every four days – we have a rota!

Last year I made my own.  I bought the kids three new pairs of socks each and filled each sock with a full-size chocolate bar.  We pegged the socks up on a string and wrote numbers on the wooden pegs.  This went down well as you can imagine (they are always wanting socks without holes)!  If your numbers don’t work out as well as mine, you can add days for parents/guests.

advent tree candy

This year I didn’t have an advent plan but went shopping yesterday looking for sweets to inspire me.  The cheapest way to buy a decent quantity of decent quality wrapped sweets remains a tub of Quality Street – £4 in Tesco.  Well, the other tubs of chocs were the same price but nothing says Christmas quite like Quality Street.  There were 81 sweets in the tub – nearly one sweety/child/day (I didn’t count them in the shop)! I bought a packet of mini lollies just in case (£1); so, with those I had enough sweets to give them one sweet each each day.  Won’t they be happy.

paper doily cone

DIY paper doily cone

I wanted to make little paper cones to wrap the sweets and started playing with a packet of doilies that a friend gave me as a gift on Thursday.  I found that, if you cut a doily in quarters you can make a little cone just large enough for one sweetie.  I wrote a number on each quarter, taped them closed and tied the top with a scrap of waste yearn.  After making 24 of them I started to think about where I could hang them – flash of Inspiration – the dead bay tree I normally hang my necklaces on!

My Mum’s bay tree died about five years ago after moving from the Sunny South of England to Scotland.  After it sat forlornly in the garden for several years, we sawed the roots off and screwed the trunk to a wooden base.  I used it to hang decorations on at craft fairs.  In between craft fairs, it sits on my dressing table as a jewellery tree.  We are re-constructing our room just now so the tree was once again in the back garden.

paper cone made from doily

I hung the paper cones on the tree but it was a little boring with just the white cones; so, I added the rest of the sweets as they were.  I made little “S” hooks with some very pliable craft wire I had and for the lollies and sweets with no “tails” to poke the hook through, I stuck a yarn loop on with sticky tape.  I used little squares of masking tape and a pen to add the numbers.   I could have made it all a lot more sophisticated with curling ribbon and printed numbers but hey, it’s good enough to eat.

advent chocolate orange cream

The kids were really excited when they saw it, they are very excited for tomorrow when they will get a sweet every day (unheard of treat).  They even admitted I was a clever Mum – not acknowledged often enough me thinks.   The wee man has spent much of today gazing up at it and thinks it’s very pretty indeed.  He also thinks he has the advantage in that he gets up first and will get the first choice of sweets; but, he is already sad that it will get less pretty with each day.  Maybe we can make something else to hang up later – gingerbread and/or popcorn garlands?

Running Stitch

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scottish ploughed fieldI realised I haven’t shared my latest hobby – running! Hence the title of this post – I’m running and getting stitch as well as my normal sewing “running stitch”.  Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.  Now, I’m currently 46 and haven’t run since school.  At school I could run because I weighed nothing and had the determination to succeed and try my best  (i.e. make it round the track in PE lessons while others just walked).  Since then, like most folk, I’ve found it unnecessary to run (except for the occasional bus and in Mum’s races at school before the health and safety brigade spoiled everything).

speedy's wood, earlston

I love hiking but it takes a whole day to get a good workout.  A couple of (running) friends suggested I try running so I can my exercise over and done with quickly (more time to knit/crochet/sew/bake/read etc.); and, since I’ve lost 20 lbs and have my high school body back I reckoned I could try it.  Well, I’m hooked now.  It hurts at times but it’s strangely satisfying – luckily I’m as determined as I ever was and I can’t stop now or I’ll undo all my hard work getting to this point.  Also because I’m unemployed right now, my running gives me a focus and gives me a great sense of achievement – and great legs.

autumn3

I followed a brilliant podcast called Couch to 5K.  It’s a 9 week training program you listen to on your ipod and it gets you off the couch and running 5K (approx 3 miles) in 9 weeks.  It actually gets you running for 30 minutes which they reckon is approx 5k in distance.  It’s available free from the NHS (National Health Service) website.  You run 3 times a week and follow the instructions/listen to the music and encouragement from Louise your personal trainer and you can’t go wrong.  The first week is just running for 60 seconds at a time and walking in between.

river leader

It builds up slowly and before you know it, you’re a runner.  I am a “Couch to 5K Graduate” now as I started nearly four months ago – but, interestingly, I found the very first day was actually the hardest, so if you try it, don’t give up.  Since I finished the podcast, I have kept running for 30 minutes, three times a week (occasionally up to 40 minutes) while listening to my own music.  I feel like an athlete.

mill meadow earlston

I feel great and the weight is staying off even though I am now consuming slice after slice of my sourdough bread.  To keep me on track, I have signed up, with my running friend, to do a 5K run in Edinburgh in January (around Arthur’s Seat) the extinct volcano in the middle of Holyrood Park.  I also have a friend in the village who has just started the couch to 5K program because she was impressed by how fab I’m looking.  I can’t recommend the podcast highly enough.

earlston

My main problem is not getting bored running the same paths as we live in a small village surrounded by hills; so, even though we have a lot of paths and it’s stunningly beautiful, it’s hard to run for 30 minutes without running out of flattish paths pretty quickly.  I took these photos on my iphone this week while I was out running to show you how Autumn is progressing here in Scotland.  We have had a few morning frosts so I’ve had to watch my step, but overall it’s been great weather – not much rain and not too cold (for here anyway)!  Today is stunning and the sky is blue (top photo).

Plays Well With Knives

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mouth

Just a quickie – proud Mama has to share 14-year old Ballet Girl’s pumpkin.  She may be a ballet girl but she’s pretty handy with a Swiss Army knife; but then she should be, she’s been “playing” with one since she was little.

This is the second pen knife success story from Ballet Girl.  The first one was when she was at Scout Camp and won extra points for her patrol by hanging up their swim suits to dry.  I asked “did you take pegs?” (I never go camping without pegs).  No, she said, “we whittled some out of sticks”.  Proud pen knife moment number one.  Hopefully she never gets her arm caught in some rocks.

Busy, Busy me – a tale of two pyjamas

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Well, I haven’t had time to miss work.  It’s been a very busy week.  My friends keep asking if I’m all packed for Australia – I leave at the crack of dawn Sunday.  Well, I am nearly, but it took me about 15 minutes.  Throwing my old summer clothes into a suitcase was easy (it’s not worth buying new summer clothes for the one or two nice days we get a year).  I did have a lot of fun shopping for, and wrapping, the Scottish gifts for my host family though.

tartan and haggis gift wrap scottish gifts

I also collected my Australian cash from the bank – it’s very pretty and has very cool plastic transparent bits on the 50s and 100s.

australian dollars

50 australian dollars

100 australian dollars

Normally I am packing for 6 people for a multi-week, multi location, camping trip in the UK which takes a ridiculous amount of planning, packing and preparation.  We have had a lot of great family camping adventures so a “sunny” holiday by myself is an unprecedented treat.   However, this very week, our 20-year old VW camper van, decided she was getting too old for all that lark and and had a cardiac arrest.   I cried real tears – words cannot express how much we love that van – the kids just stared in disbelief – can’t daddy fix it?  he’s an ace mechanic but not, as yet, a miracle worker.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, as this post is supposed to be about my new pyjamas, we had to get a cheap 6-seater vehicle quick.  In a flurry of excitement, we went to a car auction in Edinburgh and bought the ugliest car in the universe – a FIAT multipla – don’t judge or laugh – I have four kids, a tight budget and we need lots of cash to pay for engine rebuilds and new rust-free van doors etc.  So we’re gonna try and rebuild her – and meanwhile we are thankful we have a vehicle we can fit in (it’s very nice on the inside!).

Ok, back to the pyjamas.

A month ago, I made some lovely pyjamas for my trip from some vintage Tana lawn fabric a friend of mine inherited and then gave to me.  I used some upcycled shirt fabric for the elastic-filled waistband and a little ric rac for a hangy hook.  They are gorgeous and so silky but unfortunately a tad tight – I fit into them but it was not a pretty sight.vintage tana lawn detail

This was an incentive for me to lose a few pounds and it seems to be working.  However, at this morning’s try-on, I decided they were still a bit tight to be comfy so I whipped up another pair with a little more “ease.”  I used a lovely cotton Ikea duvet cover that I bought in a charity shop for 99p when we were in Edinburgh buying the car!  A scrap of another vintage sheet formed the drawstring channel and they are finished off with a tartan shoelace for a drawstring.

blue check pyjamas with tartan shoelace drawstring

I found the box of brand new tartan shoelaces in a skip in Kelso some years back!  It’s amazing what people throw out and what you can find when you keep your eyes open. Oh, that reminds me, when we were in Edinburgh charity shopping, we saw some charity shop workers throw a record turntable into a recycling bin, after they had finished their cigarettes and gone back into the shop, we salvaged it.  We haven’t had time to try it yet but Mr. Mechanic can fix most things and Mohawk girl has been wanting a turntable.

Here are both pairs hanging out for my photo shoot.  It is such a cold, miserable, grey, damp day here today – will spring ever come?  Well, it will be autumn down under for me in a few days!  My hostess is so worried it won’t be gorgeous weather for me when I get there but hey, it’ll be nicer than here.  The two pairs don’t look great together but then I won’t be wearing them at the same time.  I’m in desperate need of new T-shirts so I’ll keep my eyes open for T-shirts to match when I’m in Australian charity shops – they probably have a better selection of T-shirts.  So, pretty chuffed with my PJ trews, and at a total cost of 99p.

hand made cotton pyjamas

Finally, I washed a small piece of seersucker from my Mum’s fabric stash; and, If I have enough time this evening and if there’s enough fabric, I’m gonna whip up a pair of shorts – in case the weather is gorgeous.  Seersucker is my all-time favourite fabric, my Mum used to make me seersucker duvet covers when I was little and I’m sure she was thinking of me when she bought this little piece to add to her stash.

blue floral seersucker fabric

Mother’s Day Yarn Bomb

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hand carved headstone daisy primula cowslip

Today was the big day to yarn bomb my Mother’s recently installed headstone with the daisy chain I have been crocheting.  It has 43 daisies, one for each Mother’s day my twin and I were luckily enough to have with her.  It is all part of my positive grief therapy program!  The headstone is hand carved red sandstone to match the church and is beautiful see previous blog entry. I’m not going to show all of it to protect our privacy but here’s some photos taken this morning in the biting wind and hail.   Needless to say, I’m very pleased with it; and, do you think anyone will know it was me?  And, to my far away twin – “Wish you were here M.J.”

Hand Knit Punk Socks with Matching Hair

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ed socks with purple and green death hawk

Daughter #1- aka – “the girl with blue hair” – has dyed her death hawk (like a Mohawk but not as skinny) to match the lovely wool socks I knit her for Christmas – my kids wear odd socks deliberately so I made her this special pair. Too bad the socks are mostly hidden under the Dr Marten boots – She takes after her mother!