I've never been so glad to miss a phone call

A couple of weeks ago my lovely husband was driving to work listening to Cool FM as usual when Pete Snodden phoned some poor bloke after receiving a call from his wife complaining that he always forgets birthdays and anniversaries and what not and he proceeded to take the piss out of the poor guy live on the air.

On Tuesday my lovely husband and I celebrated our anniversary, or at least we did when he called at 10am to remind me about it.

It was our 8th anniversary and I even had to double check my marriage certificate for that because, honestly I thought it had only been 7 years. Anniversaries just aren't that big a whoop for me, I get why prisoners check off another year but quite frankly I just can't be bothered.

So ... was he phoning me to give me a hard time for forgetting? Like hell he was, he was phoning to see where I'd been when Pete phoned at 9.20am!!

Do you know those times when you have your key in the door and get it opened just in time to hear the last ring from the phone and the caller hasn't left their number and it's a bit frustrating? Well, this wasn't one of those times.

My anniversary is now safely tucked away in the widowberry for next year:)

And the husband got soup and a tin opener for his anniversary dinner.

Imagine trying to get your own wife hauled over the coals live on air!

Rose Cuff - A Photo Tutorial

I appreciate that this post will be very photo heavy so I will try my best to keep it as unwordy as possible. The photos should make everything clear, but if you get stuck feel free to either shout at me in the comments or drop me a line at seethewoods at gmail dot com.

I've been making some rose cuffs and after a few requests, I thought it would be easier to just work up a tutorial for the cuff. If you don't know what a rose cuff is, look down ...

Lovely eh?

To make this cuff you will need
  • Two pieces of cotton fabric measuring 11 x 5 inches each
  • One piece of medium weight, sew in Vilene interfacing measuring 11 x 5 inches
  • One piece of bondaweb measuring 11 x 5 inches
  • Approx 5 strips of cotton knit jersey (no lycra or elastane % please) measuring approx 12 x 1 inch
  • Small piece of wool blend felt in green
  • Yarn cut into 5 inch lengths, around 25g of DK will be enough, you'll need more or less depending on whether your yarn is finer or chunkier
  • A selection of shank buttons
  • One larger button measuring approx 1 inch wide
  • Small amount of contrasting yarn
  • Regular sewing thread
  • Silver embroidery thread

Start off by taking each of the strips of jersey and holding each end tightly, stretch them to their full length. The fabric will roll in on itself encasing the raw edges, don't worry it doesn't unravel or fray.

Sew the Vilene onto the wrong side of one piece of cotton about 1/8 inch from the edge all the way around and set it to one side.

Take the Bondaweb and iron onto the right side of the other piece of cotton and remove the backing paper. Start laying one or two strands of yarn at a time on the cotton. Do a couple of inches at a time and press to hold in place with a hot iron. If you are using an acrylic yarn, retain the backing paper from the Bondaweb and place this over the yarn before pressing to protect it.

Top stitch four straight lines across the full length of the cotton using a short stitch. This will secure all the strands of yarn in place.

Now for the roses. Take one length of jersey and starting at one end coil it around between your thumb and forefinger making sure that the rolled edges of the jersey are on the inside of the coil.

I like to start each cuff with one large central rose. You can check it against the cuff and continue coiling until you're happy with the size.

Snip off any excess jersey and set to one side for smaller buds. Decide which side of your rose will face upwards (one side always looks better than the other) and turn the end of the strip to the underside of the rose.

Fasten the end in place with a few stitches using regular sewing thread and then continue to back stitch across the width of the rose securing each ring of the coil to the one next to it and so on.

Carry on making roses of various sizes and placing them on the cuff until you're happy with the the layout.

Next take the small piece of green felt and cut out a few small leaf shapes, you can make them as big or small as you like. I think five little ones looks nice.

Transfer your rose design off the cuff and starting with the centre rose begin to stitch each rose in place using a sharp needle and the silver embroidery thread*. Draw each stitch quite tight into the jersey. It will pull in sections of the rose giving it more texture and definition making it look more like a rose. Try and catch each ring of the coil with at least 3-4 stitches not forgetting to tuck those little leaves in and secure them with a few stitches too.

Next comes the buttons. Wedge the shank of the buttons down in between the roses and secure in place with regular sewing thread.

You could leave it at that, but I like to add a few stitches in contrasting yarn (I've chosen lambs wool here) in between and around the roses.

Again taking some of the contrasting yarn, make a loop for fastening the cuff by casting 25 sts onto 4mm needles and without knitting any rows, cast the stitches off again. Secure both ends together and trim away the excess yarn.

If knitting isn't your thing you could braid 3 lengths of yarn together or just use a length of cord or ribbon making sure that the loop is large enough to pass your large button through.

Now to pin everything in place. Start by placing the loop with the knotted end sticking out at one end of the right side of the cuff and pin in place. With right sides together continue pinning all the way around. The roses in the centre of the cuff will make it balloon out slightly in the middle but just make sure the edges are matched and pinned and it will all come good.

Sew around the cuff 1/2 inch from the edge, not forgetting to leave a 2 inch gap for turning on the short edge opposite the end with the yarn loop. Stitch back and forth over the yarn loop 2-3 times to secure and back stitch at either side of the turning gap. It can be a bit of a wiggle to turn these and you don't want to start pulling stitches out.

Clip the corners of the cuff, but leave the excess in place around the edges.

Turn the cuff through so that right sides are facing out and press on the reverse with a hot iron. Pin the edges in at the turning gap, pin in place and press again with the iron.

Back to the sewing machine and top stitch along the short edge only to close the turning gap. You can hand sew this closed if you prefer.

Finally wrap the cuff around your wrist and place the large button for fastening. Sew this securely in place on the cuff and you're all done.

Of course if all that is just too much hassle you could treat yourself to a ready made cuff from my shop or, if you can make your way back here again on Friday, I'll be holding a giveaway for this lovely yellow one.

*I like to use silver because the jersey has a bit of sheen to it and even when I use thread which matches perfectly it sticks out like a sore thumb because it reflects the light differently. I figure if the stitches are going to be visible, they might just as well be pretty.

Hey look it's a sunflower!!!

I know, I know a sunflower is not exactly out of the ordinary, but we've been trying to grow one for three years now....

alright I tell a lie. We tried growing one for two years, realised it was a royal pain in the backside and gave it up as a bad job.

The first year we filled four huge planters and put six seeds in each figuring that we could thin all but the strongest seedling from each pot and we'd be on our merry way to a garden full of sunflowers. Ah no ... the seeds were obviously duff and not one even bothered to give the whole growing malarkey a go.

The second year we figured that maybe the seeds didn't like big pots to begin with, so we planted them in little starter pots and waited patiently, finally four seeds started to grow and we forced ourselves to be patient a little longer (they don't exactly rush themselves do they?) until the seedlings were fairly sturdy before transferring them to larger pots. Only one survived a full week and the cat promptly made in the pot and used the poor seedling to bury it's business.

So we gave up, figuring that sunflowers clearly just didn't have the moxy required to survive our garden, never mind the freaky one eyed cat with a meow that sounds like a strangled car horn.

Plus Chloe was really starting to hate us because we made the mistake of not only telling her about sunflowers, but also being dumb enough to show her the picture on the front of the packet.

You can imagine our joy when in the last week of school she arrived home with a seedling (which honestly looked a little hungover) in a yogurt pot of all things and proudly announced that she'd grown a sunflower. I didn't have the heart to tell her that we'd no bother growing the things last year, just getting them into a bigger pot was the problem.

We popped it on the window ledge in the kitchen and waited until it was ready to get up and walk out of the yogurt pot all by itself before we gently moved it to a larger pot, sat back and waited for it to pop it's clogs.

But it didn't. It grew. And I googled to see how big they get, 3ft -15ft! 3 foot sunflower it is then, it can't get much bigger than that in my garden.

Well 3ft came and went and still no sign of a flower, 4 and 5 ft came and went and still no sign of a flower.

Chloe's lost all interest by this stage and has done a crafty bunk down to the back of the garden and is eating the peas without so much as picking them off the plant, let alone shelling the things.

6, 7 and 8ft came and went and still no flower. By now my mum has commented that it looks rather triffid like and asks if I've pissed off Chloe's teacher by any chance! Um ...

Finally at 8 ft 7 in the beginnings of a flower appear. I desperately try and hold my tongue because I know if I tell Chloe that it will have a flower soon a storm will blow it over or something and she'll hate me again. A storm does blow it over, twice!

But there it is with a beautiful big flower on top and I run to tell Chloe to come look at her sunflower.

"What sunflower", she asks!

She's getting daffs next year!

An unscheduled blog break

I've either just had one or I'm coming close to the end of one, I haven't quite decided yet.

Understandably I have been on a bit of a downer lately and didn't real feel like stuffing my blog with depressing posts and bringing everyone else down as well, but my hopes are up again.

We're back to the waiting game for a while yet, it seems my dad's cancer was caused by a defective gene. I don't really understand all the ins and outs to be honest, I don't know if it was a cancerous gene or whether it was just a bit wonky and the perfect place for cancer to get a foothold, but whatever it is it has meant that all his sisters have had to be tested and we're waiting now for the results.

On a high note Chloe is absolutely loving school and I'm amazed at how far her reading has come along. You might remember this was a big issue last year, but her teacher this year seems to be really getting some good out of her so we're going to keep working on that and hopefully build up her confidence in reading. She still prefers maths and it's the one homework each week that she really seems to look forward to.

I know there's a whole debate on homework and whether 4 and 5 year olds should get any, but Chloe really enjoys it so it just isn't an issue for us. Don't get me wrong sometimes I kind of wish she didn't get as much homework (two writing, one drawing, one maths, two reading books and some memory cards over four nights) but that's down to my being a lazy cow time management skills rather than Chloe being unable to cope.

As an extra bonus the novelty of the packed lunch has already worn off so she'll be having school dinners instead:) It works out perfectly because we're supposed to be in for a cold snap this week and I don't particularly fancy her sitting eating cold sandwiches and yogurt and then going out for a play in sub zero temps afterwards. And yes, Chloe's school is big and I mean BIG on outdoor play, it's even incorporated into the normal classes so freezing temperatures, rain, sleet, snow or hail the kids are bundled up and go out to play. Luckily we're not short of a scarf or two around here.

I'm sat here having one of those odd mornings where I really don't know what to do with myself. Mum and dad are off on holiday in a few days so they wanted to keep Chloe for the entire weekend, seriously I haven't seen her since Friday afternoon and she won't be home until this evening. It's weird because I really did think that I had mountains of stuff to, but it seems all these things only take so long to do because I've a five year old helping me. While she's been off enjoying her social life I've managed to get everything done.

I think I may nip into the kitchen and make some doughnuts for Robert, the poor bloke spent all day yesterday installing some whole house ventilation system that I was told would be much quieter and efficient than the stack of individual vents dotted around the house. I must admit he was right. The old vent in our en suite was all mouth and no trousers, I swear it would sit up there on the wall making a racket and still the steam would hang around in the room for ages, but when I hopped in the shower last night I actually didn't think the new one was working because there was no noise but when I peeked round the curtain the room was completely clear, even the mirror didn't steam up!

He's done good, but he is knackered and possibly ready to admit that he's getting a bit to old to spend 6 hours drilling in a roof space.

Now if you'll excuse me I have sugary treats to make and enough Mark Williams Industrial Revelations and Alton Brown sky plussed to at least see me through the morning:)

Flying Visit

Sorry, I'm just crashing through quickly because I've a stack to do and it'll be tomorrow before I have any real details, but my dad was at hospital this morning to get the results of his biopsy.

He had the operation last Tuesday to remove the tumour, it didn't go exactly according to plan in that it should have taken 90 minutes, but ended up taking closer to 4 hours to complete the surgery and he's been in an awful amount of pain since then, but anyway ..... he went to the hospital this morning and his doctor told him that they had tested 24 nodes and he's in the clear, the tumour wasn't aggressive and he won't have to go through chemotherapy.

It's the best news we could possibly have hoped for and his doctor even said that it will be ok for him to travel too. My mum and dad had booked a holiday earlier this year and planned to fly out on 22 September and now they'll still be able to go, of course he'll need to take it easy but if anything his doctor thinks it will do him good.

He'll still need to have the usual checkup every two years, but for now everything is on the up:)

Folksy Friday - Kick the leaves

In a garden behind my home there is a huge tree.

I've never really bothered to find out what kind of tree it is, but I like it. It's an absolute monster of a tree and it gives my garden some dappled shade in the Summer.

It's also a very easy going tree. If it were a person it would grow old gracefully, embracing the grey hairs and the little lines that are proof that fun was had.

It gives up the ghost of Summer very easily, turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red and casting it's leaves lazily in even a slight breeze.

Autumn comes very early in my back garden and Chloe and I can sweep up all the golden leaves only to kick them all over the garden again and we can do this in the blazing afternoon sunshine.

I'm lucky to live in a place where there is still room for trees and gardens to catch the falling leaves. Do you kick the leaves?