Tuesday 23 August 2011

Alfie's back

  My coffee just did that! how cute...

I can't believe we're into the penultimate week of the school holidays- what about all my plans!?
This last week Alfie was away in Cambridge with his friend Toby's Grandparents. We have all missed him terribly (even his brothers readily admitted it by the end of the week) and it felt like he'd been away for months. He returned today - having had the best time. Granny Pam and Gramps have treated them most generously and for that we say a big heartfelt thank you...

So, while he was away we decided to decorate his bedroom. Until fairly recently we have been a foster family - and as a result the boys have never had their own rooms. When our last fostered child moved on at the end of last year we decided it was time for a break and handed in our notice, at which point there became a spare room. 
Unfortunately for Alfie, Granny's cellar conversion started the following month so his designated room became a storage cupboard, housing the contents of the cellar until we got round to the big sort - which we have done this week. (if truth be told we merely shifted it into the dining room but never mind...)

So, and this is the point where I really hope all you Mums of girls thank your lucky stars - most recently Alfie mooted 'black with neon' as a colour scheme for his future room. I tried, and tried some more, but just couldn't embrace it (black sheets for a pre-teen boy? ever a good idea?) 

He also mentioned vintage Marvel comic book - now that I could work with. So here's the before...

white room, 
ripe for 

...and the after
I painted the vintage Captain America on rough planks of wood with emulsion tester pots. It's heavily sanded and inked to look aged.
The colour palette is white and slate grey with accents of navy and deep red with brushed aluminium
(you can take the girl out of retail...)
The bottle top paper is Tim Holtz and the poster is from Ebay
The headboard is also made using old planks from the original bunk bed. I've mod podged on some vintage comic and added some lettering and Alfie type 'art'!
I rarely get round to making blocks for our house - but was quite inspired to make these. All Tim Holtz paper
I had to dig deep - but overall we're pleased with the result - and most importantly, Alfie LOVED it!

Other than that we've seen very little of any of the boys as they've been busy socialising, camping, playing...I can definitely feel a sea change towards independence (and I'm not sure I'm liking it!)

We did have a welcome visit from the youngest members of our wider family, Sonny, Luca and Mabel. Here are my favourite shots of them playing with bubbles

and our own littlest boy concentrating hard
...and the photograph I'm most proud of - little Mabel caught in the evening light
Now, before I go I'm long overdue introducing the newest member of the family - our new duck Myrtle!

Unlike the pesky chickens the ducks seem to accept new girls with dignity and grace - although to be fair Myrtle did grow up with our original girls (and boy) on the farm
I know Cleggy is secretly hoping Bertie will mate with all three girls next spring so we can have more ducklings - and he looks the type!
Myrtle is an East Indian duck - her colours are so beautiful in the sunlight. Here she is with Bertie, Polly and Dolly
 and Pearl - who thinks she's a duck
Finally - I know there's a lot of love for Bertha the fox scaring mannequin - but, quite rightly, many requests for her to acquire some clothes!
So Cleggy, Geordie and Kenzie went visiting the local charity shop with a challenge - to dress Bertha for less than £5
 They did well, don't you think?
fee x

Tuesday 16 August 2011

To and from Australia...

2 blocks...one each... but only work together!
This weekend has been full of 'goodbyes' and 'hellos'...and I'm definitely preferring the latter!
On Saturday we went to visit our Surrey family. 

Beautiful Hannah has made the decision we all knew was coming (we just don't like it!) - and is moving to Australia with her fiance Wade. They will be living near Rockhampton, Queensland (see, I was listening Wade!). 

Fortunately we all lo♥e Wade, and hear he has a mighty fine family over there who will take good care of her - just wish it was a little closer!

I was given the honour of being Hannah's Godmother when I was but a girl...and have to admit I didn't take my responsibilities seriously (was all I could do to look after myself!)

I've tried to make up for this over recent years and will continue to do so. 

And little sister Chloe - I know you got your own godparents - but if you fancy an honorary one I'll be happy to oblige! I don't think you can have too many...

The boys loved seeing their slightly older (therefore considerably cooler) 2nd cousin Cameron - who is doing super well and modeling for just about everyone (most recently Boden - which means I'll have to keep looking at the catalogue!)

He taught them some model looks...

...think it might take some practice boys!

We had a lovely few hours and look forward to seeing your blog Hannah! 

On Sunday we had a visit from our old next door neighbours, their delightful children and, all the way from Australia, the lovely Di and John. They live in Victor Harbor (Harbor - see I was listening John!), in South Australia.
Hoovering up some lovely mini beasts including a giant slug - even more vile under a magnifying glass.
Now, I reckon I'm the only girl in blogland to even mention severed fingers - never mind mention them twice!
(see here for previous post) but they were out again this weekend. Cleggy managed to completely convince little Jude that if he pulled hard enough his finger came off....and, being 3, he fell for it hook line and sinker. I wasn't quick enough to capture his face the first time - but luckily he fell for it a fair few times! Too funny...
All in all a lovely weekend with people we love....doesn't get any better than that!
fee x

Friday 12 August 2011

Coco checks out...

You're not going to believe  this...but Coco got got. She had just moved back in with Ned after her pecking order injury, and had been let out to enjoy the morning sunshine. The enclosure was completely covered in net and wire - and we have NO idea how that pesky fox got in, in broad daylight, with kids in and out the garden, but he did. 

We followed the trail of feathers up the garden and through to next door - then under the fence and off he went. I wouldn't mind but she wouldn't even warrant a small snack, never mind a meal.

So, in the last few weeks it's Mr Fox 2, Ladies 0, along with the 2 ducks who took off through the hole and the demise of BJ the hamster. The circle of life has been well and truly done this summer - so much so that the boys are becoming slightly blase about it all!

Meanwhile, I've broken my vow to never moan about the weather and moaned about the weather. It feels like winter here and the boys are driving me stir crazy! Bring back long hot summer days and tea in the garden. 

On an upside, Granny is back from her travels (sounds like we defo need to visit Prague) and we've had some lovely visits from much younger members of the family, including lovely little Luca, who was fascinated by my camera and kept attempting to climb my bosom on order to reach it 
(no mean feat)
Mabel in the background, eating a dinosaur (whole!)

We also took a trip up to the North East, where Cleggy's family are from. Grandma and Grandad took us to the Life Centre in Newcastle, where the current exhibition was all about Wallace and Gromit. It was indeed a grand day out (see what I did there?) and lovely to spend some time with them.

There was loads of hands on stuff to do  - our favourite being a challenge to build a marble run using the tray of equipment provided. Naturally my competitive streak kicked in (I fought it) and it became a mission. I embarrassed myself by asking the man in charge if mine was the best of the day, forgetting it was about the kids! (he said it was...obviously humouring me!)
In the evening we took Cleggy's Grandma (Great Granny Long) out for tea - she too was on great form! (and looking good for 91!)
And finally to this weeks makes - a large commission of Chipper Nelly boxes (much bigger than I normally do) for friend of a friend Nikki;

This one is huge and for her new goddaughter....
Nikki asked for two smaller boxes inside for Emilia's first tooth and for some magic sparkle dust (wishing I had a fairy godmother!)
I was really stuck on this Christening box until I had the idea to see if the Church in question had any defining features I could use to decorate the top. I was delighted to find that it was quite unusual and distinctive so made it out of paper. Good old google images!
...and among other things, a pencil box for a budding artist - how thoughtful. Would rather like it myself!
Off to Surrey tomorrow to wave goodbye to my beautiful Goddaughter Hannah and her fiance (also handsome!) Wade who are off to Australia to get married and start a new adventure together.
Happy weekend
fee x

Saturday 6 August 2011

Coco settles in (or does she?)

smaller love sign for Charlotte
Summer holiday 
week 1 round up....

So, Cleggy comes home with a little chocolate brown Orpington - who is named Coco after the duckling who left home a few weeks ago. She is about 17 weeks old and, man, she is cute. She's also tame and really friendly - GB and Cleggy love her!

....not so the other ladies! Poor Coco, all innocence, sweetness and light, seeks out the ones who look like her and hops over to introduce herself...

The ladies (and honorary lady Gladys - who now clearly has ideas above her station) literally stand and stare - all beady eyed! You would think Gladys would be pleased - after all, with Muriel gone she is current bottom of the pecking order...

At first they just look - but before long the games begin and they give her a really hard time. So like high school! Coco resorts to standing on the highest rock she can find...
Since the whole pecking order thing is completely normal we let them get on with it for a couple of days  - although they don't let her in the coop at night (she roosted in a bush)  and on day three took it one step too far and pecked her head so badly we had no option but to remove her and let her recuperate with Ned for the time being. 

When Cleggy took the boys to get ANOTHER duck (long story) Anthea the kindly duck lady suggested taking Coco with them and lo and behold stitched up her head in the comfort of her kitchen.

She then spent a couple of days living in our kitchen...
where she chose the highest point she could reach (the bin) and happily purred and cheeped at us until she went back to Neds.

She is clearly too young and naive to live with our mean girls so we'll keep her separate until she toughens up a bit...will keep you posted!

Photos of new duck next post!

Meanwhile, on the crochet front  I've become obsessed with finishing my first blanket and find myself saying 'just one more row' on a regular basis. (Bee - I LOVE a competition more than most - but it's practically done, I can't lie) Just some small stitching on of flowers then I'm all over the ta daaaa.

On the boy behaviour front, after a hard line approach to the general moaning and groaning of boys, the bad cop/bad cop response has worked and harmony has been restored. Obviously relative harmony, but a much nicer place to be.

We were delighted to be invited to the evening reception of G Kisby's sister Vicki's wedding to Dave. They both looked beautiful and, (almost) as importantly, very happy! 

The boys scrubbed up well (no mean feat), here we are at the beginning of the evening...

and here they are, less scrubbed later on(watching a magician)!

Nelly and Gaz looked beautiful too - here's me fav picture of them looking glam

Granny has taken herself off to Prague for a week (so proud of you Mum - hope you are having a fab time)

...and our neighbours have popped up to The Lakes for a few days. Now, there are many things a neighbour could ask of you on leaving; could you water the plants? could you feed the cat? put some lights on?
But the words 'could you pick some sweet peas and help yourself to the ripe beans' is surely music to ones ears!

 Cath and Ian have the most delightful cottage garden, and the scent of sweet peas fills the air. We have a loose reciprocal arrangement whereby we provide a clutch of eggs and Ian shares his crop of vegetables. So far this summer we've enjoyed new potatoes (butter and salt, heaven) lots of beetroot (roasted with garlic) and green beans (gorgeous in a salad) 

I took the opportunity to take some photos...
and our kitchen smells divine

We've also used our lavender to make sugar this year (basically chuck some flowers into a jar of sugar and leave to infuse) and yesterday made some delicious lavender shortbread (recipe here) which went down very well with a cup of tea!

And last but not least - Nelly and G Kisby brought Mabel over to use Granny's garden suite for a night away we're calling a city break (mind over matter!)

She's such a delight and the boys all enjoy making her laugh - none more than Kenzie (currently known as Hugh, since he loves his dressing gown as much as Heffner!)
 Oh yes we do!
fee x