I’ve moved!

Hello, long time no see! That’s getting to be a bit of a habit isn’t it? Anyway, this is just a really quick pop-in to tell you I’ve started a whole new blog with my new name and lots of lovely media space! You can pop over and see me in my new home here. Please, please, please come on over and follow me, I really don’t want to lose all you lovely readers who’ve been with me in this lovely piece of cyberspace! It was quite a big step for me to start over again but also necessary and I’d been procrastinating far too long.

I’ve done a little introductory first blog post and even got techy and put links in to my Facebook and instagram accounts. Get me working out how to even do that!

I’ll soon do a crochet catch up over there too so I look forward to seeing you all there.

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Flyby January 

Well hello! Where did January go? I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s zipped by in the blink of an eye. I’ve been so busy but I’ve actually loved every minute of it. I started January with some big changes ahead of me, some of which were out of my control, like my baby starting pre-school. We’re a couple of weeks in now and it seems to be going well. The first week was surprisingly easy, then the novelty kinda wore off and the reality of going to school every day set in and he started to cry when it was time for him to go in. Which in turn made me cry, watching him through the school gates, being carried across the playground with his arms reaching out for me and calling for me. That was hard. But thankfully, he seems to have gotten over that and goes in fine. At home time, seeing his little face beaming and calling mama, while he runs over to me, well that just makes my heart burst! He’s obviously very happy when he’s there which is fantastic. My little boy is growing up!

One of the other big events for me was launching my little crafty empire, Florrie & Rene. I’ve tried to put as much time into it as possible, promoting the page, spreading the word etc. It’s going well so far, I’ve had a few orders which I’m almost done with. Here’s a couple of the finished ones..

These have been very well received by their new owners which makes the days of hooking my fingers to the bone all worth it. I’m very much looking forward to what the future holds for my one woman show.

The third big thing happening in my life this year has been my Slimming World journey. The first week had my head in a spin just trying to understand it all but now I’ve got used to it a bit it’s so much better. The first week I managed to lose 2 1/2 lbs which I was very happy with. It was just what I needed to hear to give me the motivation to keep going. By the end of the second week , I actually started to feel better in myself and could see I’d lost some weight around my tummy. That week I lost 3 1/2 lbs! The third week, I was doing everything I should have been doing but just felt really bloated and quite sluggish. I was convinced that I’d either gained weight or at best maintained. I was quite nervous to step onto the scales on Monday, but I needn’t have worried, I lost another 2lbs. Phew! And look what I picked up…


My first award! It feels good knowing my hard work and dedication is already paying off. Although I’m not yet properly organised with my meal plans, I have enjoyed trying new recipes, new foods, and knowing that I’m eating healthier. I’ve actually surprised myself at how good my willpower has been (thus far  anyway)! I’ve been able to buy chocolate and treats for the kids without being tempted to nibble. I’m going to have a go at baking some SW treats this week as I do miss getting my pinny on and there’s some yummy looking recipes in the latest SW magazine.

With all that’s happened in January, it’s left me in a very positive mood. Not that it’s like me to be down or anything, I’ve always been, ‘ever the optimist’ and a glass half full kind of girl. But I feel a sudden surge of energy and positivity and am happy to ride this wave for as long as it lasts. And spring is not too far away now and I CANNOT wait for some warmth, fresh air and the signs of new life that comes with possibly the best season of all.

Sending positive vibes out to you all…. x

So much to say, so little time 

Hello! Sorry I’ve not found time to post for a bit, it’s all been a bit of a blur recently really. So, where to start…

Well, I suppose firstly, I’ll tell you that I’ve taken the leap and joined slimming world. I’m on day 6 as I’m sat writing this and I have mixed feelings about it so far. I’m completely ready to make a change and willing to do what I have to, but it’s been a very long week. My head’s been in a spin trying to work out what I can eat and what I can’t. I’m constantly checking in my little handbook and on the app, how many syns for this. Are these a speed food? Must eat more speed. I know it’s one of those things you’ve just got to get used to but it’s taken up an awful lot of my time. And trying to think of what to cook for dinner that is to everybody’s taste, that’s always been hard but even more so now. I really hope I’ll see some results for my hard work tomorrow at my first weigh in. That’ll spur me on to keep going. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

My little baby started pre-school on Friday! Can you believe it? What an emotional day. I’d been gearing up to it for a while and was actually excited to get some time for myself. I’d planned to start exercising as that’s just impossible with a toddler in tow. I would get the housework done in half the time, be able to shop in peace and not get bribed into buying a toy. And I’d get more time to craft. But my god, did I miss him! I stayed with him for over half the session then said to him I was going and would be back soon. He just said bye-bye! Not a tear was shed, I was so proud. It’s the first time he’s been left with anybody so the boy did good.

Do you remember this post from back in the summer? A lovely blogger friend of mine painted a beautiful picture from a photo I took in my garden of our blueberries. She said she’d send me a copy of it, and look what came this week!


Isn’t it beautiful? And a lovely handmade card with it too. It made my day receiving this, I’ll treasure it always, thank you Hannah. I’m afraid I don’t know how to add a link to her blog but it’s called The Artisan Duck. Do go and take a look if you can, she’s one talented lady.

So, crochet time. I had a break from it for a few weeks over the Christmas period as things were just so hectic. I missed it terribly so picking my hooks up again a couple of weeks ago was bliss. I started a little baby blanket before Christmas so carried on with that.


I picked 6 yummy colours from my Stylecraft stash and made 5 solid granny squares of each. I then edged them all in my joining colour, parchment.


Then joined the rows…


I think they look rather nice like this, they’d make good scarves! Anyway, I joined these all together then finished with a simple border.


I’m very pleased with this. It’s now washed and put away, waiting for a new home when someone decides to buy it from my Facebook page. Speaking of Facebook, I decided that this year I really need to get my act in gear and make something of myself. I love making things and there’s only so much I can make for our home and for presents, so I’m going to start making to sell, properly. I’ve had a bit of a re-brand, started a brand new Facebook page and changed my Instagram name to…….. Wait for it……..

Florrie & Rene.        Ta-Dah!!! 🎈🎈🎈🎈(Hopefully the blog name will change soon too)


I’ve named it so after my two nans. I think us crafters owe a lot to our grandmothers who all used to knit, crochet, sew, amongst other things. So I’ve stocked up on yarn and started touting for business. I’ve had 3 orders in the first week so hopefully that’s a sign of things to come. As well as crocheted items I want to make a few cards and tags to sell, well any excuse to play with my new toy I got for Christmas! My hubby got me a big shot and I’m quite addicted. It was my mums birthday this week so I got to try it out.


It took me all evening to do this as I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do. I was happy with the result though and I think my mum liked it too.

Well, I’m busy, busy, busy so I think that’s where I’ll leave it for today. Thanks for reading, keep warm everyone.

Vicki xxx

Christmas in a jar

I’ve been planning this little theme all year and it’s finally time to bring the ideas flying round in my head to life. I’ve been collecting the glass vases and cloches from places like T K Maxx and Home Sense whenever I’ve seen them. Some were in the sales but each one cost around £4.00 which I didn’t think was too bad. I can also use them for other things throughout the year.


For the glass cloches I obviously needed a base so after some searching around I discovered that my cake stands were perfect for the job. I’d got some small strands of battery operated fairy lights, fake snow, bottle brush trees and then lots of adorable little Christmassy pieces to create little scenes inside each one.


For this one I raided Jude’s car stash and used some bakers twine to tie a little Christmas tree on top of the truck.

It’s surprising how fast it is to fill them up, I thought I’d run out of stuff but I actually didn’t get to use everything.


These are some of my favourites, the woodland creatures. Although it’s very hard to pick a favourite, I love them all.


A sprinkling of cinnamon scented pine cones and the fairy lights really make these, although each one takes 3 AA batteries!! 


And here they are all together. I think they look really magical. These are keepers me thinks!

Wonderful winters weekend

I’ve had a lovely weekend, full of fabulous festive things. Friday night was the Fabulous Frost Fair.


It was the VIP charity evening and was very glam. We were welcomed in to a goody bag and a glass of bubbles with Christmas music filling the air. After a few speeches we were free to start browsing all the wonderful stalls full of gorgeous handmade crafts and they were all local too which was brilliant. It was great to be child free so I could take my time and really look at stuff. I was very good though, I didn’t buy anything. I could’ve spent a fortune on myself but with Christmas coming I need to concentrate on gifts for others. I’ve mainly got just men to buy for now and most of the products were aimed at ladies. I felt so inspired looking at everything though, I kept thinking to myself, I could make one of those or Ooh, I’d love to try my hand at that. One day I actually might find the time to give a few new crafts a go, wouldn’t that be good?

On the Saturday evening was our village Christmas light switch on. The rain stayed away and we joined the hundreds of other villagers meandering about with a mulled wine and mince pie. I met up with a couple of my friends and we had a good catch up and a wander into one of the little boutiques that was open for the festivities. Everywhere looked so pretty all lit up, The Salvation Army band played Christmas carols, local choirs sang, it was just a lovely festive evening.


On the Sunday, we took a family trip to Thomas Land to celebrate Jude’s birthday. It was such an amazing day, I can’t praise it highly enough. Jude absolutely loved every minute as expected, even the teenagers enjoyed themselves. We’re not really a theme park family so this was perfect for us, nice gentle rides! I’d highly recommend a visit here for any Thomas fan, especially around Christmas time as they’d really gone to town with the decorations, fake snow and Christmas music playing. They had a show in the daytime and then a Christmas wishes parade at the end of the day followed by fireworks. We felt so festive. We paid a little visit to Father Christmas in the Castle of Dreams, went Ice skating and watched The Polar Express in 4D which was fab. They also have a small zoo there which was home to two adorable reindeer. They were getting plenty of rest in preparation for their forthcoming long night.

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend full of fun, friends, fizz, festive cheer and most of all family. (Sadly, my big son couldn’t be there as he’s growing up and had to work, but he was there in spirit!)

Bloggy Dilemma

I’ve known this day would come but was hoping it wouldn’t be for ages yet. I’ve used up my 3GB of media space here in my little blog which means I can’t upload any more photos!!! Arghh! This is devastating for me as a big part of my blog writing is done through my photos too. I’m in a right pickle and really don’t know what to do. I had to delete a few older pictures the other day just in order to do my poppy post. I really don’t want to delete any old posts or pictures because to me this is a lovely diary that I can look back on and see my progress and remember some great times.  It’s not just the pictures but how I felt at the time.  So my options are to pay an annual fee to upgrade my blog to get more space which will run out again at some point in the future. Not really happy to be paying out either as the blog doesn’t earn me any money. The only other option is to start up all over again with a different blog provider. I’ve had a quick look at what’s out there and it seems there are free options with unlimited storage.It would also mean leaving behind all my lovely WordPress followers that I’ve built up over the last 22 months. Starting to build up a new following all over again doesn’t appeal but what can I do? Do any of you have any suggestions or experience with other blog sites? I’d love to hear any ideas you may have.

Thanks, Vicki xxx

Snap Happy

You probably already know but I kinda love to take photos. Of all kinds of things.I get extremely carried away.  I’m the designated family photographer so if I don’t take photos then they don’t exist.  This also means I rarely appear in the family photos but that suits me most of the time. I’ve never liked having my photo taken. It would be nice to be in some, so there’s evidence I was actually there and when the kids look back on them in years to come, they can see us as a whole family.  I think photos are such a treat to look back on, they can spark memories of days out, places you’d forgotten about and can take you right back into that very moment.  I think my earliest memory was of being at a park on top of a slide and I was wearing some fabulous seventies get-up. There’s a photo somewhere of that day and I think seeing that photo from time to time probably helped to keep that memory alive.

My cousin and uncle recently dug out some old, old photos of when we were young and when my parents and grandparents were young too. It was really great to see them, I got quite emotional.

It’s so easy in this day and age to take photos at a seconds notice, not like when you had to remember to carry your camera with you, make sure it was charged, or even back when you had to have a 35mm film and only got one shot or you’d waste the film. Then you had to wait ages for bonus print to process them only to find it covered in one of those stickers. Or when your uncle  had one of those flashes that looked like a tower attached to the top of his camera? Do you remember those? All of my photos are taken with my i-phone which I think has a great little camera. One day about 18 months ago, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  I’d gone for a little walk with my eldest and youngest son down to New Brighton, about ten minutes drive from our home. As we were walking along the weather seemed to turn.  It was really quite eerie but at the same time rather wonderful to be there to witness this unusual occurrence first hand.

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Using the wonders of modern technology, I uploaded them straight onto Facebook.  Within an hour or so, my little photos had been shared around the internet, onto a couple of weather pages and a I had local businesses wanting to use them.  Then I was contacted by the Liverpool Echo who wanted to feature my picture in the paper! It was all very exciting.  It made the front page as well as inside.


More recently, I often edit my photos a bit, just to try and make them the best that they can be. I don’t mean photoshop or anything but I use Instagram.  It wasn’t even until recently that I actually started to use Instagram as a social media platform, it was purely a photo editing app to me! I always try to put maximum effort into making something as good as I can get it.

I often think it’d be amazing to be able to blink and capture the image that you see before you.  So many times the photo never quite does the subject justice. I’ve been told and I like to think that I have an eye for a good photograph (although I hate to blow my own trumpet). I’ve learnt that to take a good photo there are lots of elements to consider like light, angles, background and positioning amongst many, many more. Obviously I’m not a professional but I would like to do a course one day and learn properly.  Although that’d mean I’d have to buy a decent camera with scary settings and stuff cos I don’t expect they’d let me in with my little i-phone! Though saying that, you can get lenses especially for camera phones now that allow you to try different effects.

  


This blog post has actually been sitting in the drafts folder for about a year, yes a year! It didn’t have any written content, just a title and some photos. It’s taken until this week when a friend asked me to take some photos of her knitted and crocheted toys and accessories for her, that made me think I really must get around to finishing it.  I thoroughly enjoyed conducting a little photo shoot in my dining room and I was pretty pleased with the results too.

 

 

 

 

National trust series – Speke Hall

As National Trust members, we often go for days out to visit some of the beautiful houses and gardens that are being looked after by them. I thought I’d do a little blog series on the ones we visit. It’ll be just as and when we go.

I’ll start with our closest one which is just 30 minutes drive away, Speke Hall.  We came here in the summer holidays on a lovely warm day. The building itself is a Tudor timber framed house. It’s lovely but when you’ve seen inside once, there’s really not much to look at again. 

The thing I love the most about the national trust places are the grounds and the gardens.

They have a kitchen garden there and it just so happened that they were celebrating what would have been Beatrix Potters 150th birthday. They’d yarn bombed the kitchen garden with the most adorable little fruit, veg and creatures. I just had to share it with you.

And there’s Mr. McGregor himself, keeping a watchful eye over his veg patch. They had a lady dressed up in Victorian clothing telling children the much loved stories from Miss Potter and her little friends. Jude’s too much of a wriggler to sit still for more than 5 seconds unfortunately.

The grounds are quite extensive, I’m pretty sure we’ve never managed to see everything. They go all the way down to the River Mersey and if you’re a keen plane spotter, it’s right next door to Liverpool John Lennon airport. There’s a pretty woodland which I’ve written about before at bluebell time. They have a nice play area for the kids and also a maze, although I’ve not managed to venture in there just yet. The bonus is its just 30 minutes drive for us so we can go back anytime we feel like it.

Happy campers – part one

For this years camping holiday, we decided to try somewhere new that none of us had tried before. We usually go to Wales which is lovely, but for a change, we chose Scotland. It was a little bit further afield but it was a whole new adventure for us. After losing our lovely dog Amber just the week before, we couldn’t bear to put Pepper into kennels as planned. She’s really missing her sister and would’ve been so sad and lonely on her own. The campsite is dog friendly so we squished her in the footwell of the car along with our ever growing collection of camping gear.


We don’t travel light when it comes to camping. We like to have quite a few little   gadgets to make life that bit easier. Things like electric hook-up, a fridge, kettle, toaster and fan heater. Not quite glamping but not too far off!

The weather was awful when we set off. I was driving along the motorway gripping onto the steering wheel so hard my knuckles were white. We stopped half way to change drivers and the weather was still grey but improving. By the time we reached the campsite it was all blue skies and sunshine. Perfect conditions for pitching a tent.


It was a lovely location, we pitched right at the far end of the field so we didn’t have people walking past us constantly. The site was surprisingly quiet, I kept wondering what the catch was. We discovered what it was on the first night. The main road runs alongside the field and at nighttime, just as soon as your head hits your inflatable pillow, about a thousand lorries it seemed, come thundering past heading for the docks. We’d seen comments about road noise on the reviews before we booked, but had kind of hoped they were exaggerating. Sadly they weren’t. It was quite loud but you kind of got used to it. That was really the only negative though. It was a very carefree site, you pitched up where you liked and were just left to get on with your holiday with no interference. 

The first evening, we treated ourselves to fish & chips from an award winning chippy in nearby Castle Douglas. It was really yummy and the sweet girl who served us insisted on buying Pepper a sausage out of her own money. She’d been off her food for a bit but she managed to woof it down with no trouble. The next morning, we awoke to rain and grey skies which had been forecast for the majority of our stay. I’d packed for the chilly weather too. We spent the day in the tent mostly being lazy campers. Which gave me the perfect excuse to crack out my camping crochet. I’d dithered over what to bring with me. I didn’t want to bring too many balls of yarn so that ruled out my blooming flower cushion. I’m loving the colours in it so much though that I decided to make a second cushion to go with it. I picked just 6 of the colours to bring. 


These looked better than I’d imagined, and quick to do too. A perfect holiday project.

The following morning, we awoke to glorious sunshine. This was our view from the tent…


I couldn’t resist pulling my wellies on with my pyjamas and going for a little wander.


There was an abundance of blackberry bushes around so I decided to pick my own breakfast.

 
Lovely! We went for a little explore around the site later on. It’s a very well kept site. Just a five minute walk from our field you’ll find the entertainment areas. There’s a bar, bistro, swimming pool, gym and of course arcades. They were a hit with the big kids. Well actually Jude loved it there too, he discovered the 2p machines and demanded a constant supply of ‘pennies’. While they were all in the arcades, I sneaked off to take a few photos of the beautiful coastline that we were lucky enough to call home for a few days.



The sunsets here were pretty amazing too.

There’s something about being close to natural beauty that leaves you feeling very calm and content with the world. Sights like this were not made by any man, they’ve always been there and always will. Nothing can ever spoil it. It’s very good for the soul to take a few moments every now and again to appreciate these little things in life.

Another thing I appreciate in life is being cooked for. Camping cooking usually falls to the hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed having a break from having to prepare the meals. He’s also an excellent cook so win win! My job was to lay the table and in true Vicki style, I gathered some pretty flowers from the hedgerows to dress it.

I think I’ll leave it there for part one.  Back in a couple of days with the second half. Xxx


Southport flower show

This post is a little bit late as I’ve been really busy these last couple of weeks but better late than never hey?

We were very lucky indeed to be invited to this years Southport flower show as VIP guests. My husband works in the Garden Centre industry and was kindly invited by a supplier called Lavania. It just so happened that their garden entry won the best in show. It was very well deserved, it was certainly my favourite.


We got to step inside the roped barrier and have a private tour. 


The attention to detail was incredible, everywhere you looked they’d created something unique and unusual. They’d made the very most of every little nook and cranny. Very clever design.


Here are a couple of the other gardens that caught my eye..


Aren’t they beautiful? I just love the bloomers hanging on the line in this one!

I’d come dressed for the occasion.


I love my Joules wellies, and they were quite appropriate really. The weather had been awful that morning and we feared we’d end up in a mud bath, but we actually brought the sunshine along with us. It wouldn’t have been much fun getting soaked.


These were just a few of the things that whispered ‘photograph me’ as we walked around. I have been very restrained believe it or not as I’m increasingly aware that my little allowance of cyberspace is getting filled up so I need to try and be good.

There was lots to do for all ages. We got to see Mr. Bloom from CBeebies with his veggies, there was live music and talks from tv garden experts. After we’d explored all around, we were treated to afternoon tea in the VIP tent. We felt very special indeed.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable afternoon. Lots of inspiration to do a few new things in our garden next year.

Back soon with a little write up on our holiday xx