Happy new year!

Happy new year one and all! (Sorry that this post is a little late…..) Wishing you all a fabulous 2012 filled with lots of love, laughter and happiness! I hope you enjoyed the celebrations and didn’t feel too worse for wear the next day…. I know we did ūüėģ

London's NYE fireworks

Ooooo, ahhhhh, pretty!

sooooo sparkly!

On new years eve, Mr Sharp and I guzzled copious amounts of champagne and had an epic NYE Risk battle. Sadly, the ruthless Mr Sharp royally whooped my sorry buttocks yet again…. Curse you Mr Sharp and your quest for world domination! *waves fist angrily in the air*

My little red fellows got severly annihalated....

I’ll get you next time Mr Sharp, you mark my words! Mu ha ha ha ha!

At midnight we stood by the river Thames and watched the fireworks erupt over the city. Twas quite magical! As a few sky lanterns took flight from a nearby balcony, Mr Sharp and I challenged each other to think of three goals we would each like to achieve in 2012. After much, ummming and ahhhhing our list was complete.

My goals for 2012:

1. Learn to crochet: In 2010 I taught myself to knit by watching instructional videos on youtube. Now, I want to tackle learning to Crochet….

My¬†much loved nanny king¬†tried to teach me to crochet when I was a little girl, but I ended up getting so frustrated that I threw the crochet hook across the room, stomped my little¬†feet, and solemnly¬†vowed to¬†never to try it again because it was simply too hard! This time, instead if foot stomping, there will probably be little swearing, but by jove I shall learn to crochet by the end of the year (I won’t promise that I will be any good at it though).

2. I want to start a vintage inspired children’s clothing range:

Now that I am in the process of training for my dream career of becoming a costumer, I want to start a little side project of making children’s clothes and starting a little online store to help fund my studies. I bought myself a pattern cutting book for children’s clothes as a little christmas present to me. All I need to do now is start drawing¬†up the designs and source¬†the fabric! Eeeep! It’s all very exciting. I also need to think of a name for this venture, I’d appreciate any suggestions!

3. I want to visit Scotland: I can’t believe that in all my 30 years, I have never been there, even though it’s practically on our doorstep!¬†I hang my head in shame….

 

Mr Sharps goals for 2012:

1.¬†Become a dive master: My beloved Mr Sharp¬†is a very accomplished SCUBA diver. He already holds numerous qualifications in the sport,¬†and last year he qualified as a rescue diver (I’m so very proud! It’s like having my very own aquatic superhero!). This year however, he wants to become a qualified¬†dive master, the highest level of certification a diver can have when training with PADI.

 

 2. Take more photographs: Mr Sharp is an excellent photographer, but we realised that last year we were very slack at remembering to take the camera out with us whilst out and about. The camera has now been removed from its bag in the wardrobe, and has been left out by the T.V. in the lounge, ready to grab at a moments notice and capture those special moments of our adventures together, like this one:

Our first photo of 2012

Our first photo of 2012, taken a few minutes after midnight on the 1st of January.

3. Take me to Scotland: After I confessed shamefully that I had never ventured north to Scotland, my adorable Mr Sharp vowed to take me there as one of his goals for 2012. I have to be the luckiest lady in the world to have landed myself such a wonderful man.

Happy new year folks! I hope each and every one of¬†you have a fabulous year. Here’s to 2012, its gunna¬†be a goodun! xxx

Some Parisian art of a different kind

Our fabulous European road trip has alas come to an end ūüė¶ And boy, what an adventure it has been! We are tired and skint, but enriched and fulfilled.

The last leg of our adventure was spent in Paris, a sublime and truly romantic city. A perfect end to an amazing holiday.

We stomped around the city on the typical tourist trail and took in all the sights; The Arc de Triomphe,¬† The Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Mus√©e du Louvre, Avenue des Champs-√Člys√©es,
and they were all spectacular.

But, I will not bore you with pictures of those sights, oh no. You’ve seen them all before, right? You already know what they look like.

No, I wanted to share something a little different from the streets of Paris. Something wonderfully quirky and strangely beautiful….

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These two skeletons were on the pavement outside L’H√ītel national des Invalides. I love how the artist has used the street drains to make the skeletons ribcage. Genius!

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And this stunning piece was at the end of a side street near Centre Pompidou.

Magnificent.

I’m afraid that the next picture gives you a bit of in insight into my puerile mind….

Whilst gazing upon the beautifully sculptured Arc de¬† Triomphe, I became very distracted by one of the figures. It wasn’t because he was naked (I’m not that puerile!), no what distracted me was the need to answer the pertinant question that my mind just couldn’t compute; why would you wear a hat and boots but no pants?? it makes no sense!

Roadtrip!!

“Where shall we go on holiday this year?” asked Mr Sharp.

“Oooo”, pondered I somewhat briefly, “I’d love to go back to Sorrento in Italy”.

“Fabulous” replied Mr Sharp, “shall we drive there?”

“Ok” Said I.

So, 6 months of planning later, we board our vessel for the trip – our beloved and trusty Ford Focus named “Mo” (what? what’s so weird about naming a car?) – waved goodbye to London town, and set off on our rather epic 3300 mile road trip.

4 days into our trip and we have driven just over 800 miles through 4 different countries (France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland) and made 8 border crossings.

So far we have climbed 698 steps up two different towers (the¬†Belfry of Brugge¬†and¬†Strasbourg Cathedral), drank beer that was 11.3% (yes, 11.3%! thats not a typo, it was actually that strong and tasted slightly like bananas), ate at a 2 star michelin restaurant, drank an ¬£100 bottle of wine which despite my scoffing and “can you actually taste the difference?” remarks, it turns out that yes, you can taste the difference, and it was truly amazing.

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We took the worlds highest vertical ascent cable car up 2800 metres in just 20 minutes to the top of¬†Aiguille du Midi, a mountain the the french Alps 3,842 m above sea level, and discovered that I have vertigo (who knew?? I certainly didn’t!!). I had to cuddle quite tightly into Mr Sharp and close my eyes while giving out little squeals of fright during the ascent in the cable car. The view from the top, however, was spectacular, totally worth me nearly pooping myself:

I can’t believe we have achieved so much in such a short space of time! I have to confess that some of the driving can be a little tedious – lot’s of boring motorways that need to be tackled to help us to cover so much ground in such a short space of time, but it is totally worth the effort. It is going to be a trip that will give us memories to last a life time, and many stories to tell. Best of all, I get to see all these wonderful sights, and have such magical experiences with my wonderful man by my side every step of the way. What an adventure. xxx

A whole lotta Rosie

“Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” ~ George Elliot

Amongst all the knitted creations here at Gizmo and Stitch Towers now lives an actual real life cat! And a very sweet cat is she. A few months ago, Mr Sharp and I adopted a dainty little elderly cat and named her Rosie (also affectionately known as “Catface”).

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We adopted her from a local cat rescue charity who had found her wandering the streets, very underweight, very confused and in a very bad way. She was lovingly nursed back to health by the devoted staff at the rescue centre and once she was feeling better they set about finding her a new home. Enter Mr Sharp and I, who once we met her, fell instantly in love with the teeny tiny but very elderly kitty, and took her home to live with us.

She wants for nothing apart from a lap to sit on and something to eat. Her hobbies include sleeping, cuddles, and purring. Oh, and walking up to us, standing by our feet, looking up at us with adorable ‘puss-in-boots-from-shrek‘ big eyes, and giving us a very loud meow for seemingly no other reason than to say hello.

Despite her elderly lady characteristics, every now and again, the kitten in her awakens and she hunts a little knitted mouse that the rescue centre gave her as a goodbye gift.

The little knitted mouse is very cute and lovingly made. I asked the lady at the rescue centre where it came from and she told me that some local little old ladies knit them up for the cats to play with, and sell a few at the local vets to help raise a bit of much-needed cash for the centre. However, the knitted mice where selling quicker than they could be knitted. The knitter in me got incredibly excited, “I could help this cause” thought I.

I contacted the lovely people over at Bustle and Sew to see if they wouldn’t mind me using their lovely knitted mouse pattern for the cause, and they agreed whole¬†heartedly.They have even given me permission to share this pattern on this here blog so that maybe I can find some fellow knitters to help raise funds for animal protection/rescue charities up and down the country. So, are you a knitter? Would you like to help me raise funds for local animal rescue centres?

Ain't they just the cutest?

My plan is to knit as many mice as possible, and sell them at local vet practices, craft fairs, to friends and family, or online at my Folksy and Misi stores. All proceeds made will be given to the rescue centre to help them to continue with their good work.

Maybe you know of a local animal centre that could benefit from a charitable donation (lets face it, they could all use a bit of help). You could whip up some cute little cat toys to sell and raise some cash for them. ¬†If you might be interested in helping to knit for charity you can contact me by leaving a comment below, or by emailing me at gizmoandstitch@live.com. Let’s use our knitting powers for good folks, lets help some charities and some furry friends.

Royal Wedding Fever!

I’m not even a smidge of a¬†royalist, but I have to admit that I got quite excited about the royal wedding.

I’m a¬†teensy bit ashamed to admit that¬†I got a¬†tad over excited to see the vast amounts of¬†bunting that sprung up all over the place. Ah bunting…. such a simple and modest¬†decoration but yet somehow¬†it manages to evoke levels of great excitement in me. Bunting only ever means that a good old shindig¬†is about to¬†commence or that a party ‘woz ere’ as it were.

We celebrated the event with a right royal tea party. It was a damn fine excuse to guzzle champagne before midday (and in my case, on an empty stomach which a very typsy me doth make *hic*), gorge ourselves silly on buffet nibbles and cake, coo over the  beautiful dress of the bride, mock the stupid outfits of the guests (Eugene and Beatrice Рtut tut, what on errrrrrrfff were you thinking??!), and hang out with some of my closest and most splendid friends. Good times. 

Congratulations Will and Kate, cheers for the day off! xx 

Been naughty……

Erm, been naughty……

I took a little stroll into Greenwich to buy a thank you card, and ended up buying a painting……

 

Oooooops! How did that happen???

I couldn’t help myself! I wandered into a fabulous little shop in Greenwich market called “The Home Front” (a shop full of wonderful delights and treats owned by a very lovely and helpful lady called Elaine – well worth popping in if you are in the area). The painting (well, print really) is by London artist James Brown. It is a limited edition (number 5 of 75 prints). I googled him this evening and found that he has a wonderful blog all about printmaking and the like: ¬†generalpattern.bigcartel.com. He has an online store which could prove to be my siren song….. I would love to own this one too:

Although, this one might have to wait until I have managed to sell a kidney or something….. Mr Bank manager isn’t going to be very happy with me and my impulse buying!

A similar thing happened to me last year. I popped out for a pint of milk and bought 3 fashion illustration prints instead!! I wasn’t sure how that happened either, and I clearly haven’t learnt my lesson. The market must have some kind of voodoo over me! Damn you Greenwich Market and your seductive wares!!

Regardless of feeling quite guilty about spending money when I don’t actually have any, I love my new painting. I think its beautiful. I know exactly where it shall hang; it shall take pride of place on the wall of my sewing laboratory as that is quite literally the place where the magic happens.

My babies!

I am now the very proud mummy of three adorable babies!

Ahem…..three baby chickens that is…..

And this is them! Awwwww! They are so unbelievably cute! Well, I guess I’m biased what with being their mummy and all.

While visiting my Laura in Hereford we popped along to Newland Poultry, the most lovely poultry farm I have ever seen! I highly recommend them and I will definitely be going back there again in the future. They have a wonderful range of beautiful hybrid and pure breed chickens. The people who work there are exceptionally friendly and helpful, the chickens are very well looked after and the farm is absolutely gorgeous!

When we visited they had a selection of 8 day old chicks of various breeds. I fell in love with my three as soon as I saw them!

This little one is called Fozzy:

He’s/she’s a baby Frizzle Cochin. When its feathers grow they will be all curly!!

And this little one is called Dexter:

He/she is a Frizzle Cochin/Jersey Giant cross! Gunna be a big bugger that one! It’s feet are massive compared to the other two and it’s got a lot more meat on its bones!! Oo-er!

And this beautiful little thing is Willow:

He/she is a Buff Orpington, a breed that originates from my hometown of Orpington in Kent.

Little old Bob the Dog is very intrigued by them. He likes to bundle into my room every evening to pay them a visit and give them a good old sniff.

My wonderful Mum agreed to sacrifice part of her beloved flower beds for the chickens to live on, and my wonderful Dad helped me to assemble the new chicken coop and constructed a fabulous run for them. While my new little babies won’t be able to live out in the garden until their feathers are fully grown, I will be getting some rescued battery hens from the British Hen Welfare Trust this weekend and they will move into the new coop and run straight away. It’s all so very exciting!!

A new chapter.

I’m a teensy bit excited…

Well, maybe more than a teensy bit….

Maybe I’m a whole lot of excited…

Yes, I can hereby confirm that I am redunkulously excited (that’s a whole lot of excited I can tell you!)

I…..*wait for it*….have…..*are you on the edge of your seat?*…an….*giggle*….allotment!! Yeah baby!! That’s right, you heard me, a frickin’ allotment!! Me! Who’d of funked it aye?

Ok, ok, so that might not be very exciting news to you my dear reader, but I have been bouncing around with happiness ever since I found out! Feel free to mock and point and brand me a loser.

Inspired by my friend the Urban Goblin, and after watching back to back episodes of “Beyond River Cottage”, I decided to find me a piece of land. The waiting list for the local allotments was years long, so I clicked on the River Cottage Landshare Website and was almost instantly matched with a lovely lady called Jane who lives 5 minutes up the road and was willing to give me the end of her garden to have as an allotment!

I have to confess that I am a but crap with growing things, it doesn’t always end well for the plant poor thing (I am hoping to get better though with a little practice). ¬†My real love is for ¬†keeping chickens, and lovely Jane said she was perfectly happy for chickens to move into her garden. Yaaaaaaaaay!

When I lived in South Africa I kept chickens in my garden. I loved those little chickens, they were a constant source of entertainment to me and they provided the tastiest eggs I have ever eaten. I was devastated when I left South Africa and had to say goodbye to them, and ever since I’ve been back home in Blighty I’ve been desperate to get some more, but there ¬†just isn’t room in our garden.

My chicken Margaret with her 11 chicks!

I kept a different blog when I was in South Africa and I documented some of the adventures I had with my beloved chicken friends. You can find it at bettybrash.blogspot.com if you would like to have a little peek. Be warned though, the post about Rocky the baby bantam might bring a tear to your eye, and the pictures of snakes and spiders may terrify you! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

RIP peace Rocky dude....

I have ordered a very lovely chicken coop which should arrive next week, and I’m going scouting for some chickens while up in the shire of Hereford visiting Laura this weekend. *Giggle* I can’t wait! Watch this space for my new adventures with my new little chicken friends.

(P.s. I welcome suggestions of names for my new pets)

Whose a lucky lady?

My wonderfully fabulous, gorgeously lovely friend Isi popped over the other day for tea and to pick up some creations she had ordered. And, bless her little cotton socks, she came baring gifts! “Happy Birthday!” she said as I excitedly tore open the surprisingly ¬†unexpected ¬†present, “Sorry this is late, like the latest late present ever!” read the card. I had been living in South Africa when it was my birthday in January, so I was totally surprised and very touched to be receiving a present in August! And what a gorgeous and incredibly thoughtful gift it was too!

A fantastically gorgeous Cath Kidston knitting bag!! With beautiful balls of wool inside!! It was love at first sight for me and the knitting bag, I absolutely adore it!

Hum-a-na hum-a-na!

 

Just look at those beautiful colours!! I love them!

 

Isi is so very brilliant at picking gifts for people, they are always so thoughtful and perfect for the person she is giving them to, although she will always apologise for it being wrapped craply (even though it will be beautifully wrapped), or she will think its rubbish (even though its amazing!), bless her bones! 

I am a very, very lucky lady indeed! Thank you Isi for being so very wonderful, for being such a fabulous friend, and for my delightfully divine birthday present, you are a legend! Mwah! xxxxx

Owieee!

Oh dear… I appear to have gone and broken myself…

A couple of days ago, after a fun-filled day in London town and a few cheeky drinkies, I had a rather pathetically stupid accident. My slightly drunken little feet where doing their¬†usual¬†‘left, right, left, right’ thing, when suddenly my right foot¬†decided to mix it up a bit. Instead of going forward in its usual fashion, it opted to go upside down, possibly¬†just because it desired¬†to break free of the monotony of its usual duties. It buckled under me, I went bottom over breasticles, and the ligaments in my ankle/foot/heal went snap. Owieee! It was, and still is, really very sore.¬†Rather embaressingly¬†I¬†ended up in¬†A&E. I¬†am now on crutches and out if action for a few weeks. Nooooooooo! I’m going to get cabin fever! I’m already bored¬†of¬†it¬†all and am climbing – well limping and dragging myself – up the walls!¬†

I just wanted to apologise for the lack of posts this week, I was laid up in bed feeling most sorry for myself and a bit whacked out on pain killers. I sadly cannot operate my beloved sewing machine, but I can knit (yay, a saviour!), so I will hopefully have a new creation for you all soon! I know that Tatty¬†Babbit¬†will be pleased,¬†I’m busy creating him some clothes to wear as well as making a little lady Babbit¬†to keep him company. Maybe we will soon hear the teeny tiny patter-hops of some ickle¬†baby Babbits! Watch this space!