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Goodbye Gallbladder

It has finally happened, the gallbladder is gone!

In fact, it has been gone for 3 weeks and I feel pretty awesome.

So… I promise that I will stop ranting about my broken gallbladder, because it’s been snipped, pulled out of a teeny hole above my belly button, dissected and incinerated.

The journey to get to this point was far longer than it should have been.

Below I’m just going to share a few things/pointers I learned along the way for anyone in a similar situation (in the UK).

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Life Sized Gallbladder Amigurumi Pattern

I was diagnosed with gallstones a year ago, and I’m still waiting on my letter from the NHS with a surgery date… It should be any day now, but I’ve been telling myself that since November, and honestly, my hopes aren’t high… in fact, I think they’re pretty much gone.

I’ve just accepted that they will get to me when they get to me, and I’ll continue to manage my symptoms the best that I can while living in fear every day that something is going to go horribly, dangerously wrong in the meantime.

Anyhoo, my oldest daughter (6) is really fascinated by human anatomy and physiology, so naturally she’s had a lot of questions about Mommy’s broken gallbladder. I’ve answered them all,  but to help her put it into three dimensional perspective I decided to make her a life sized amigurumi gallbladder.

This was a while ago now, but I thought that since gallbladder issues are soooooo very common, someone else might also enjoy the pattern!

(kawaii face optional)

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Simple Hooded Scarf Pattern

I know it’s a bit late in the season for a scarf, but I figure Autumn is closing in on the southern hemisphere, so why not get it out of my system and into the world?

This hooded scarf is another part of an ongoing endeavour of mine, using crochet to design practical and comfortable things that I’ll actually wear. Also to showcase designs that work with simple, inexpensive DK yarn as it’s the most affordable option for most of us crafty dabblers.

I truly love fancy yarn, but when a pattern only looks good because of the gorgeous yarn used, the pattern is actually quite useless to most people who aren’t going to shell out the money for that special yarn.

Anyhoo.. enough of my tangent about affordable yarn, here is the pattern to my hooded scarf! :)

 

 

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Geocaching – 4 More Handmade Swag Ideas

As the title suggests, here are 4 more simple crafty projects off the back of my previous post from last July! (5 handmade swag ideas.)

I’ve only been geocaching for just under a year now, but the exchange of “swag” is one of my favorite parts about the whole experience, and it’s often an overlooked aspect by many cachers.

Personally it really makes my day when I find something thoughtful in a cache. This is why I love leaving a little something behind that I’ve made whenever I can.

To keep myself from spiralling into a crafty tizzy there are 6 points that I use to build my ideas around when creating swag for geocaches…

Each item must be:

  1. Small– Most caches are small and there needs to be plenty of room left for others.
  2. Fast – Have to accept the very real possibility that these things might be destroyed or not appreciated as intended, so the amount of time spent on them has to be reasonable.
  3. Inexpensive – For the same reasons, I’m not pouring a ton of money into the finished items.
  4. Sturdy – A high standard of craftsmanship is important to me in everything I make.
  5. Thoughtful – Is this something that would make me feel warm and fuzzy to find?
  6. Weatherproof – Zip seal jiffy bags are essential for protecting swag in most caches, especially in Scotland where everything is usually pretty damp.

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I AM BAT

I do a lot of freehand amigurumi, and this little guy is one of my many recent creations.

BAT is the main character of the children’s book I AM BAT by Morag Hood. My youngest daughter received a copy of the book for Christmas and she loves it. In fact it’s the first book that she’s ever actually let me sit down and read to her, which made it extra special to me.

The story is so simple, but adorably illustrated and relatable to quite possibly ever toddler ever, so to be honest, we all love the book. (Highly recommend)

As a result of the impression this book made on our little family, I decided to bring Morag Hood’s lovely illustration of BAT to life with a crochet amigurumi doll for my daughter. Read more…

Low Fat Stuffed Mushrooms

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe,

I wasn’t convinced this one would work well, but the food processor is key to helping the cottage cheese lose its texture.  I’ve made them a few times now and the mushrooms are actually pretty killer, so I’ve decided to share.

Given the fact that I can eat very little fat without making myself severely uncomfortable I’ve been doing a lot of low fat recipe adaptations lately, however if you want to go full fat, replace the cottage cheese with full fat cream cheese. :)  Read more…

Curio Shawl Crochet Pattern

This pattern took me roughly 4 months to put together, test and proof-read, but today it’s finally out there!

Initially I designed the Curio Shawl as an experiment for myself, as I rarely see crochet patterns for clothing that I’d like to wear.

The design process started with some graph paper and a skull, but then I put wings on, and added a long tail which reminded me a bit of a dragonfly or a key. Next I added tendrils as I couldn’t resist. It took me about two weeks to turn the graph paper into a completed crochet shawl, and I wasn’t really sure how my graph would translate to something wearable, but once I saw it finished I was so pleased that I decided that I’d push myself through the process of writing the pattern out in detail.

This is my first attempt selling a pattern on Ravelry ( click here to buy ) and I honestly don’t know what sort of expectations I have, however I am very much looking forward to seeing how it is received and I hope to create another few patterns this year going forward!

(More photos below)

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Playing With Arteza Real Brush Pens

I bought a set of 24 Arteza Real Brush Pens for my birthday back in November 2018.

There was a video advertisement on facebook that attracted me the pens as it was demonstrating the watercolor effects that can be achieved with them. I’ve been in love with watercolors since I was 15 years old, but using them properly requires space I do not have and peace which children do not give me…. So when I saw the pens I thought… “OOOH I could cheat!” and it turns out, I was correct.

However, to use them the way that I wanted to I needed to gather a few new materials and that is why it has taken me until this week to finally try them out.

I’m really happy with the results so far, and below I’ve shared some photos of my completed pieces,  as well as a few step by step pictures detailing my process.  Read more…

2019 Goals… Cause F*ck Resolutions

Ok, I admit that I said it a bit more eloquently in my end of year post of 2017, but yeah, in short, resolutions are ridiculous. Goals are achievable.

Speaking of my 2017 goals… where have I succeeded and where have I fallen short?

(Warning: This is going to be a long winded post) Read more…

3 Way Creative Advent Swap

2 way creative swaps are relatively straight forward and lots of fun, but 3 way swaps aren’t always the easiest things to get your head around.

First you have to come up with a swap that all 3 people are eager to get on board with and all 3 people have to trust each other to complete the swap in such a way that equal amounts of effort and planning are applied, so it’s something that is best to get into with established swap partners rather than strangers.

My friends and I have been talking about coming up with a 3 way swap for over a year. Then in September(ish) when I had all but forgotten that it was something we had thought about, Anna suggested that with Christmas coming up, we do a grown up creative Advent swap!

The way it would work is that each of us would come up with 24 small advent gifts, 12 for each of the other people and each of us would be assigned even and odd numbers for the other two.

Example: 

Participants: Sarah, Anna, Bel

Sarah sends to Anna (even numbers) and Bel (odd numbers)

Anna sends to Bel (even numbers) and Sarah (odd numbers)

Bel sends to Sarah (even numbers) and Anna (odd numbers) Read more…

Ham Sandwiches And Fear

Gallstones are no joke, but I’ve got to laugh, because if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.

I feel discomfort from my broken gallbladder every day, no matter how well I eat. It is just physically and mentally exhausting, and some days it brings me to tears.

My focus since March has been to manage my symptoms, eat enough fat to keep the stones from getting bigger but not enough fat to trigger more discomfort,  and to lose enough weight to get keyhole surgery.

The good news is that the fear of incapacitating pain has been really good at keeping me on track losing weight. I’ve now lost 70lbs in total and still have 30 to go to escape obesity and wander back into the mystical land of “overweight” which I haven’t visited since I was roughly 20 years old. Read more…

Tampon Ghosts

This afternoon I had a fantastic time making tampon ghosts with my craftiest of friends.

I am in Scotland, and they are both in England, nowhere near each other, but when I randomly sent them a photo of a tampon ghost in our group chat, we somehow all produced the materials to make them almost instantly.

The three of us take our crafting pretty seriously, and this isn’t exactly a serious craft, but it was too fun not to share.

We’re just 3 grown women (and one little girl) celebrating Halloween, and womanhood by up-cycling some old tampons that had been in our cupboards for years.

Hope the photos make you smile!

Anna Instagram

Bel Instagram 

Sarah Instagram 

Sarah/Anna Instagram

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Recipe Card Creative Mail Swap

It is no secret that I am a happymail enthusiast. I thoroughly enjoy allowing my imagination to go wild creating and exchanging thoughtful handmade paraphernalia with my closest mail art friends.  My favorite part, now that I have found people who I connect with very well is the way that we feed off of each other’s creativity.

A couple of months ago I had an idea for a swap centred around recipe cards, and my friend, who I’ve been doing mail art exchanges with for a couple of years now was excited to give it a try.

The only rule I laid out for this challenge was that we each did a set of three recipe cards 1 main course, one side dish or starter and 1 dessert.

I absolutely love what we both created (hers more than mine) and below I’ve shared a few photos of both our sets of cards as well as some background and details in the hope that more people might be inspired try this out in the future as it was a lot of fun and there are truly endless creative possibilities.  Read more…

Super Simple, Practical And Basic Crochet Fingerless Gloves Pattern

Fingerless gloves are very nice to have in the chilly weather, however I like my clothing on the practical side and couldn’t find a crochet pattern that really spoke to me. Something not pointlessly ornate, too bulky, or too lacy.

So I worked out a pattern for myself and I’m really happy with how they turned out. They are soft, and warm, and like anything handmade, extra, super, wonderfully cosy. I’ve already made about 5 pairs and suspect that I’ll be making even more with Christmas coming up fast.

Below I’ve written out the instructions for anyone else who would like to make a pair!

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Pizza Strips – Delicious Nostalgia

Pizza strips are strips of pizza dough that have been topped with a rich, flavorful tomato sauce and nothing else. They are meant to be eaten at room temperature or chilled rather than hot, and make a great low fat/low calorie, super portable meal or snack anytime.

When most people think of pizza it is nearly impossible for them to imagine it without cheese and a pile of toppings, but have faith, these things are frigging wonderful, especially when they’re made with a homemade sauce that you have 100% control over.

I don’t know how wide spread these are in the US as I never did much food shopping outside of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but they were one of my favorite things to pick up from the deli when I was a kid, and only recently did it occur to me that I could make them myself. They have been such a welcome alternative to ham sandwiches since my gallbladder issues started!

Below I’ve included the recipe for my homemade sauce and the method I use to combine it with a (lazy) store bought ready to roll pizza crust.

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Exploring The Exquisite Corpse

Over the past two years I have tried a lot of different sorts of mail art exchanges, and a few weeks ago while racking my brain for something new to try I remembered exquisite corpses.

An exquisite corpse is a drawing collaboration between two or more artists who don’t know what the other person’s contribution looks like until the full picture is revealed upon completion. I’ve wanted to try doing one with someone since I was about 18 years old but the opportunity never really came up.

As it happens I have a friend whose weird matches my weird and she can draw! Thankfully she was also up for giving it a try with me, and we’ve been sort of shamelessly addicted to creating exquisite corpses together ever since.

I started an instagram where I’ve been uploading our completed EC’s ( https://www.instagram.com/lettheweirdnessflow check it out for more examples) and I assume we’re just going to casually keep at it until we get bored or distracted!

Below I’ve included a few examples of our recent collaborations.

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Geocaching – 5 Handmade Swag Ideas

Over the last two months we have been spending a lot of time exploring our local area through geocaching.

The exchange of swag is definitely one of my favorite parts of the process, and in my limited experience I have also found that it seems to be a fairly neglected aspect by many geocachers.

In addition to topping up the kiddie swag in caches, I like to leave some handmade items as well, and that’s where my crafty skills come into play.

Besides it just being really nice to find something out of the ordinary, my hope is that as more people find these things they will maybe be inspired to think more about whatever it is they are leaving behind as well.

Below I’ve outlined the first 5 little projects that I put together recently to pop into the caches we find on our travels.

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Raising Painted Lady Caterpillars

For our third year of butterfly rearing I decided to go with our first round of mail order bugs in the form of Painted Lady caterpillars.

I purchased a caterpillar voucher for our daughter’s 6th birthday from Insect Lore. They arrived via post in sealed jar containing everything they required up to the point of pupation, which I am still left with mixed feelings about as it felt sort of cruel. However we saw the process through to the end anyway, even if I don’t feel 100% great about it.

Below I’ve detailed our experience and observations. (with lots of photos) Read more…

I Made A Kracken Shawl

Just a quick post/review on a pattern that I bought recently called the Kracken Shawl.

I started following Two Hearts Crochet a while back when a crochet friend of mine started making the c2c princess squares.

When I first saw the Kracken Shawl I was instantly inspired to make one because cephalopods are amazing, clever wee beasties. Also it reminds me of Cthulhu and Lovecraftian horror which is always a big bonus. So I purchased the pattern in April. Two weeks later, it was completed!

The instructions and graph were easy to follow. It shouldn’t have taken me two weeks, but unfortunately I had to rip out my stitches enough times to literally make a whole other shawl! (my own fault) If even one stitch is missed it throws everything off, so wanting to make it perfect, I did a lot of pulling back my work. The pattern was also a really good introduction to this sort of crochet technique using boxes to create a picture and it’s absolutely simple enough for a beginner to complete, so not intimidating at all.

I am looking forward to eventually applying the same techniques to a design of my own creation someday.

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Will Seed Bombs (Balls) Made With Air Dry Clay Germinate?

Seed bombs/balls are spheres of soil and clay with seeds inside. When dry, the sphere of clay and soil protects the seeds within. When they get wet, the seeds are stimulated to grow and they will break the sphere apart as they push out, giving the seedlings a perfect start.

They are ideal for throwing into places where people can’t really get in to plant, and can contain any sort of seeds, however wildflower seeds are the best for helping the bees and butterflies in your local area.

I received my first introduction to seed bombs via a recent random conversation with a friend, and I thought it would be an excellent idea to make some of my own with wildflower seeds to spread on our adventures walking through the countryside.

So of course, I consulted the Google with my query and found many pages with recipes for how to make seed bombs/balls, but they mostly seemed to involve clay powder, which I was having trouble sourcing. Then I remembered that I have a brick of non toxic air dry clay in my craft hoards, so I started looking for recipes using air dry clay.

I found a few which basically walked me through how they made the balls, but none of them seemed quite right to me, and it made me feel fairly sceptical when I couldn’t find one actually confirming with photos that the balls germinated. I mean… anyone can chuck a few seeds in some clay and take photos, but the important thing about a seed bomb is that it actually facilitates the growth of the seeds inside.

Below I’ve outlined what I did to create my own seed bombs (which are all sprouting nicely) using easily sourced materials in the UK.  Read more…

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