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The past two years have been all about adjusting to motherhood and finding my way through it via craft. The out pouring of this came in the form of my blog Aunty Mum. Now I'm finally finding my feet, the children are growing, I'm getting some independence and my interests are morphing . . . into cooking. Join me in exploring creativity in many forms, food, fabric, frowns and laughter.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ahhhhhhhh That’s More Like It

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Yesterday was the first day back after the school holidays and my Mum rang to see if I’d like to go to lunch with her and some of her friends. Hmmm, how difficult was that to answer? Not very.

We went to the restaurant at the Sebel’s hotel on Trinity Wharf.  It’s very stylish and sits right out over the Tauranga harbour. Of course, when one takes Jo (pictured left) along it’s never very stiff upper lip. Actually, it’s more quivering lip as one tries not to laugh too loud. She looks very demure here but just prior to this photograph she was writing notes to the window cleaner trying to get him to divulge his secret window cleaning recipe.

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This is a picture from the Sebel’s website. You can just imagine how difficult it would have been to turn down an invitation to dine here.

The only down side . . . I just couldn’t bring myself to take some craft along to do while we chatted. Oh well, it didn’t kill me to go without for a couple of hours.

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And today was a very special treat. I was taking Janae to kindy and didn’t really feel like going home to housework, especially as there was only one more day until the cherubs were home for Anzac Day. Hmmm, me thought, I’ll bet Kate’s at home. I wonder if she’d mind if I just called in. I mean, let’s face it. Life’s short so it was Bull by the Horns, Carpe Diem, Just Do It time. I’m not a “caller-inner” or a “drop-byer” so this was outside my comfort zone.

I need not have worried. Arms open for a big hug. A hot cuppa and on the phone to Dominique to change plans and ask Dominique if she’d go to Kate’s instead of the other way around. I cannot tell you how blissful it was to sit and knit with other sitters and knitters. It totally made my day!

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Kate had a new nephew so she’s busily knitting up a gorgeous stripped jumper for him. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product. She also has this amazing app on her Ipod that I must get the address for. It helps her work out gauges, increases and decreases etc. I NEED that I can tell you as maths is not my strong suit.

 

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Dominique is whipping up a stripy jumper too. It’s for the most beautiful rabbit I’ve ever seen. Go check out her blog (and I’ll give you a hint, the jumper isn’t for the snuffly bunny that you first see).

So, all in all, it’s been a fabulous start to the school term. The little ones are home tomorrow as our country remembers those brave men who died in the first and second world wars. I need to be a little more down to earth than that and intend to get out the hoover, start at the bottom and work my way to the top of my house before we enjoy what might be the last of the sunshine for a while. Hope your days have been as pleasing as mine!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chasing the Sunshine

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For the first few months of 2012 I have spent my afternoons chasing the shade. I love working outdoors with a cool breeze, cool drink and something lovely forming between my fingers. The children play outdoors happily while I knit or crochet, the house stays tidy indoors after a morning of tidying and pottering. Really, creation outdoors is a win-win situation in my home.

Today, however, after I’d moved the table under the shade of the giant Copper Beech my parents planted before I was born I found that chasing shade may be a thing of the past this year.

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I’d put my knitting down to go and find my slippers. The I’d put it down again to find a cardigan and finally I decided to put it down a third time and move the table and chairs. I opted for a little filtered shade beneath my tiny silk tree. One day this tree is going to be my “nature’s sun umbrella” when the tree is big enough. So I sat happily in the warmth until it was time to go for a hot swim.

And this evening we’ve been spoiled rotten. We took young Venus with us for a swim as she and Kayley had spent the day helping Janet mosaic her outdoor seat by their pool. Now, a cup of coffee or tea is mandatory when dropping by their house. But tonight the quick cup of coffee turned into an invite to join them for a fish and chip dinner, followed by some homemade ice cream (a collaborative effort between Bill and I while Janet went off for the dinner). The children watched a movie in the other room after dinner while we chatted and knitted.

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So the first sleeve is almost complete. I cannot tell you how tiresome I find stocking stitch row after row, but I got there in the end. How wonderful are those lovely straight rows of stitches looking back at you? It never ceases to amaze my Mum that for years she’s tried to get me to knit and the results have looked nothing better than some moth eaten, half finished something (you couldn’t call it a garment because it never resembled much) and all of a sudden, at the ripe old age of 40, I’ve got the hang of it and love the art dearly. I’ve also had another look through some of Janet’s knitting magazines and have the perfect solution for the collar . . . but that’s a secret until I finally get to that stage.

Now the children are in bed about an hour late, I’m about to check in with Agatha Christie and this week’s Miss Marple mystery and carry on finishing the sleeve. Life is just bliss sometimes isn’t it!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Decision Made

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Yesterday I was in a dilemma about what to do with the cardigan I’d started as I was itching to make something semi designed by myself. Today I decided that six rows hardly constituted “starting” so I unpicked it and started afresh. This is the beginning of the sleeve. I’m doing this pattern for the bottom of the sleeves and body. It’s not as lacy as I’d first imagined but I’m liking it.

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Having decided to start over next came the decision of which pattern to use for the ‘lace’. I have been flipping back to these pages for the past couple of days and decided on “Victory” as it seemed quite straight forward.

Straight forward it was and quite effective too. I’m sure it would look much better in a lighter yarn, but I’m sticking with the plan now.

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I’ve been taking every opportunity to sit myself down, have a knit and a scribble. Now I’ve finished the lacy part it’s time to calculate the increases and decreases that come with making a sleeve. I think my calculations are correct but only time will tell.

Typical of a wintry evening the children are all running wild waiting for dinner time. It’s funny how you don’t notice it so much in the summer when the running wild occurs outdoors. However, there’s a delicious smell of sausage casserole coming from the kitchen, one child is bathed, hair washed and in her pajamas and now they’re playing three man Duck Duck Goose which they change to silly things like “Toilet, Toilet, Flush”. So I will give them a little more attention now before the game turns into something much less family friendly.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Short lived holidays

I was just relaxing into day two of my “holiday” when the phone rang. It was camp telling me Kayley had been complaining of a sore tummy. Of course, when there’s a wiff of a funny tummy that child needs to be sent home. Well, there’s been no sign of a bug so I’m assuming the stomach ache had more to do with home sickness than real sickness. So my break was cut short. However, I didn’t waste the time.

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Here are the cupcakes I’d just finished icing when I got the call to go over and collect Kayley. You’ll see that my technique got better as I worked on them. The ones on the left are the last ones. And, surprisingly, they’re quite a hit with the children too.

I also whipped up a lemon slice as the neighbour dropped down a bag of the most enormous lemons you’ve ever seen. I love lemon slice so it’s been difficult to restrict myself of one piece at a time. This is one the children don’t like which means I need to either freeze it or eat it . . . see my struggle?

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I also popped in to Janet’s for a cup of coffee. I love visiting Janet as she has mountains of crafty yarny books . . . some dating back before I was born. I shared with her my desire to work with knitting design using cables but didn’t have a clue where to start so she pulled these two out and loaned them to me. This evening I’ve been scouring Book Depository looking for Knitters Bibles and Stitch Guide books. Strangely, until now, I’ve always turned my nose up at books like these in the library. Now that I’m feeling confident about my ability and have some ideas floating around in my head I’m seeing the need and usefulness of such books.

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And finally the last sock picture you’ll see for a while. It’s been very cold of a night here lately and I was wearing odd socks last night. I had on the match to this and the cable one I made during the week. So I knew it was time to finish of my own pair. I have a feeling I’m going to live in these this winter as they’re just so cosy. How silly that I’ve made almost six pairs of socks and only one for myself.

Now I’m having an internal debate with myself (actually it’s almost an internal, stand-up row with myself). Do I unpick the six rows I’ve done of my jumper and use that yarn to make something of my own design or do I carry on and make it half heartedly? Oh I just don’t know. Hopefully by my next post I’ll have made a decision and I can let you know.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sanity Looming

It’s been a busy school holiday and quite pleasant. We got the one illness out of the way early, we’ve had a trip to Auckland and we’ve managed to fill in each day without drama and tantrums. It’s been lovely. However, I have two whole days of no children starting from 10am this morning. I’d have to look back among months of blogging to find out the last time this occurred for longer than a couple of hours.

We dropped Kayley at her camp (and I’ve worried about her ever since). It was almost insulting at how independent and unconcerned she was about spending five whole nights away from home. She gave me a cursory hug, pushed me aside and said “Okay, see ya Friday”. But before we dropped her off we spent the morning at the Bethlehem Market.

DSCF0030.I managed to get the children a gift each for under $2 and you can’t complain about that. And for me, I got this lovely pink cake tin, come cupcake cases and a recipe book packaged up for a mere $3. Oh how I love a bargain. So check out what I’m going to make this afternoon in my peaceful and tidy home . . .

 

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I love the look of the frosting on these and who doesn’t love coffee cake? I’m going to attempt to do the icing as the book tells me that it’s unbelievably easy. If I don’t share a photo of the finished articles you’ll know I botched it up . . . and be warned . . . cake icing isn’t my forte at all.

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As for yarny things? I’ve been attempting to design my own socks. I had almost a whole ball of the alpaca/possum yarn left over from Dad’s socks and have been wondering what to do with it. I figured after five pairs of socks in a row (five and a half as Rosa’s have one sock complete) i knew enough about the basic construction of a sock to have a go at my own. It’s been surprisingly straight forward. The only real difficulty was working out the heel turning. I also want to do a double rib for the cuff so the second sock may not be an exact match, but I don’t mind. I’m also obsessed with cables and am currently doing some research into designing with cables so I can play with more intricate designs than a simple twist. Thank goodness I’ve got stacks of old yarn to play around with.

Now I’d better make some beds, pack some bags and prepare for a cup of tea with Janet and Bill this morning sans children. I love them, I’ll miss them, but I’ll enjoy the space too.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Maybe I shouldn’t have got out of bed

Yesterday the lady who bought my car came to collect it and the battery was dead. Not just dead but completely had it. Poor woman had to wait while my Dad came around with jumper leads, declared the battery “not for resuscitation” and then had to get another battery from the implement shed. About 45 minutes later she was off.

I asked Kayley to go turn the oven on to cook our pizza for dinner but she announced she couldn’t get it going. I tried, there were sparks and then . . . . NOTHING! Arghhh. All I could think was “that’s two things, what will the third be?” I try so hard not to be superstitious but those things creep up on you.

Anyway, in some sort of miracle the oven is working this morning. which only makes me more nervous so I haven’t cancelled Richard to come check it out.

So this morning I was determined to find the lovely things about the day. The girls are sitting at the dining table in the sun painting me pictures.

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I have one lone chilli drying in my kitchen. I’ve been waiting months for these to turn to red and now they’re starting.

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Here’s my wee chilli patch in the garden with some more turning red. I keep thinking of all the lovely ‘warm’ dishes we’ll eat this winter.

The sun is shining, Kayley’s washing (ready for camp in a couple of days) is blowing in the breeze and once Richard is finished finding out if I need a new oven, we’ll head down the park for a couple of hours so I can carry on with this . . .

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Yes another pair of socks, the same as the last. My mum wore her new pair to our Dear Rosa’s yesterday and Rosa was so taken with them she ordered a pair of her own. Trust me, these are not a money spinning make, but I love making them so much that a couple of dollars profit to go towards the next ball of yarn is okay by me.

It’s so worth taking a look around our world and searching for the blessings because they’re almost everywhere we look and it makes the day brighter and more enjoyable.
What blessings can you find in your immediate space?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

To Auckland and the Playgrounds Inbetween

 

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Our trip to Auckland was a huge success on so many fronts. We always have a half way stop to ensure legs are stretched, bladders are emptied and energy is disposed of. Yesterday we stopped at the home of the “World Famous in New Zealand” drink Lemon and Paeroa. While Mum and I did the very vintage thing and drank tea made with hot water from a flask (circa 1970) the kids tried to reach dizzying heights on the swings.

Back on the road and great excitement brewed as we powered up the motorway.

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“Dad, Dad, watch me” are the words that are still ringing in my ears today. The children see my brother about once a year and it’s always an occasion of great delight because he never tires of pushing them on the swing or helping one child try to dislodge another from the see saw. I love seeing them with their father because it’s all about the moment and being together, which is quite refreshing.

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We had a wander around Western Springs gardens and park and came across some very hungry ducks, very large geese and enormous eels. Rogan’s attention wouldn’t be diverted from them even when a posing opportunity arose.

My only disappointment was, despite keeping a keen eye out, I didn’t see Jay from The Hook Nook. I had such hopes of seeing her crocheting on a rug somewhere and being able to say “Hi, guess who I am” but it’s a large park, so hopefully next time we’re up there we might bump into one another.

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Today has been spent in a much more subdued manner. We were given three sets of stilts the other day. It’s a bit like the Three Bears, there’s a little set, a middle sized set and a large set. Here’s Kayley about to master the large set. It’s amazing how quickly she’s got the hang of it because the other evening she was putting on quite a tanty when she couldn’t walk with the little ones. Just after taking this picture she was dancing little jigs on them, turning in circles and attempting to jump. Don’t be surprised if I post a picture of one girl in a large cast before too long. Hopefully she stays safe until camp on Sunday.

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And while I oooohed and aahhhed and confirmed that Kayley is indeed the cleverest girl in the world I finished off these. They’re not identical and I don’t care. I cannot even express how in love with sock knitting I am. I’m ready to start another pair as soon as I get a moment tomorrow. I’m so addicted to socks that I haven’t even looked at the cardigan I started a few weeks ago (which I have to unpick and start again due to the fact that I don’t have a two metre wide backside and the back of the cardigan is huge). I’m beginning to worry that while all our feet will be warm this winter, our top halves will be naked. Brrrr. I think I’d better find some creative balance between now and when school goes back.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cheating

 

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I was feeling very ill myself yesterday so most of the afternoon was spent quietly knitting at my parents while the children played in the garden and Mum did the attention and discipline thing. I finally gave in to a mighty headache and took some paracetamol about four and immediately started feeling better. So much better that I finished the first of the latest pair of socks.

I’m so in love with this yarn that I can’t stop knitting. I’m done with the top of the second sock and I decided to cheat a bit. You see, this pattern calls for some two inches of reverse stocking stitch, which means purl every round for ages. I noticed that the first sock had some alarming laddering where the needles changed. So on this sock I decided to go backwards and keep knitting. This has avoided the laddering but I do have a little hole where I turned the other way. I’ll have to figure out how to avoid this for next time.

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Easter Sunday was, as every year, a hit with chocolate bunnies being devoured quite early. I think Rogan’s still suffering a little as he has about quarter of his bunny left. Janae’s was all gone by 10am, and now the one her Nana gave her is eaten too. Ah well, once it’s all gone there can be no more nagging for chocolate.

And tomorrow we’re off to Auckland for the day. The children haven’t seen their dad since last summer so we’ll catch up with him as well as my grandmother. I think we’re off for a bit of a picnic at Western Springs where there’s plenty of room to run about, birds to feed and lots of trees to sit under, chat and knit. I’m quite looking forward to it. I just wish there was going to be time to visit my favourite yarn shop in Devonport, but I doubt that’ll happen this time. Perhaps when the lovely Carolyn and I are up there for the Mainly Music conference next month.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Terrible Mother

My poor little boy woke me at about five this morning sobbing his little heart out because he had been sick in his bed. We did all the usual things and got him back to bed but by 10am he announced he was feeling much better. He had no temperature, had colour back in his face and was being cheeky to his sister so I decided we could take a trip into the craft supplies fair in Bethlehem.

Well, it was so stuffy due to the huge amount of people and we’d only done half the room when he tugged on my sleeve. “Mum,” he said little eyes wide with terror. “I’m about to be sick again.” Quick! we rushed through the throngs and out to the carpark where unceremoniously relieved himself of his water intake. Boy-oh-boy did I feel like a terrible mother.

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I did, however, manage to make one purchase. Check out this gorgeous mohair yarn. I’ve never knitted with mohair before but I just couldn’t go past this at two dollars a ball. I’m thinking now that I should have bought all six of them.

I also had the opportunity to spot my friend Sue. Sue and I met in Hawaii some 20 years ago and our paths keep crossing over the years. Thankfully the lovely Carolyn promised to speak to her on my behalf so she didn’t think I’d left without saying hello. (I must confess that we ditched the lovely Carolyn at the fair to be collected by her husband because we just had to get home.

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And last night I finished Dad’s socks. I’m so looking forward to giving them to him tomorrow. They’re going to be his Easter Egg gift as we don’t do the whole chocolate thing for the adults.

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And because most of today has been home bound I’ve made a start on Mum’s next pair. I had thought I’d make a lacy pair, but this yarn just didn’t lend itself to such a pattern so I’m going with a low roll sock which will be much more versatile when it comes to when you can wear them. I’ve completed more than this but I snapped this just before we went off to music practice this afternoon. The children will be in bed early tonight so I’ve got the evening ahead to keep stitching. Can’t wait.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Turn up for the Books

Easter in the Bay of Plenty is notorious for being foul weather, cold and generally miserable. This Good Friday, however, is totally amazing. Its been so lovely that I’ve even managed to make it to the outdoor table for the first time in weeks.

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Life has got so busy around here that time spent crafting in my secret shady spot has been few and far between. So this morning I managed to get all the chores done early, the kids were happy catching up on their favourite shows at the computer and I snuck out here for some quiet time. As you can see, I’m charging through Dad’s socks now that I have the second ball of wool.

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I’m always amazed at how much tighter the second sock knits up compared to the first. I think this has something to do with the fact that I’m more confident with the pattern the second time around. And check out the needles. I’m a stickler for steel needles and hooks. I hate how the plastic knitting needles bend in my hands and I find plastic crochet hooks tend to feel sticky through the stitches. So when the lady at the yarn shop suggested these bamboo ones I wasn’t optimistic. However, they are, by far the best thing I’ve spent money on in years. My next pair of socks require four needles rather than three so I may have to whip into the shop tomorrow and grab another set so that Mum’s socks can be started as soon as these are finished. If you haven’t used bamboo I highly recommend you give them a go. You’ll never choose anything else.

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And speaking of Mum’s socks. I took her to the shop yesterday so she could choose her own yarn this time. The ladies there are very passionate about their knitting. So much so they have knitted one sock in each of their sock yarns so that you can easily see what you’re buying. I would never have picked this yarn by looking at the ball. Trust me, it’s going to look fabulous knitted up. I just want Dad’s socks done so I can start on this yummy stuff.

Here’s wishing you a fabulous and safe Easter. If you’re driving, please take care and make sure you over indulge on chocolate (although perhaps not while you’re driving). If you can’t eat too much chocky goodness at Easter when can you?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ahhh that’s better

 

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It’s not often that I order books online. In fact, it’s not often I buy books because our main library has so many good ones there really isn’t any need. However, when I re-issue a book I know it’s one I’ll use a lot. So, my first book depository purchase is this book. I have already made two pairs of the same pattern and am currently making my Dad’s pair from here and I think there will be only one or two patterns I won’t make.

And it was this book that also encouraged me to make another unusual purchase.

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Remember I told you about a absolutely fabulous yarn purchase? This wee ball is it. You see, I usually purchase a cheap alternative for my creations to be sure that my weekly budget isn’t taken up with crafting. But this week I knew that I’d made enough socks with cheap acrylic to be sure I loved making socks. It was time to try my hand a ‘real’ sock yarn. I hate to admit it, this yarn cost me 16.50 for 50g and I will need two balls for Dad’s socks. Wow, over 30 for one pair of socks. But trust me, if you felt these on your feet you too would feel it was worth it. And it’s pure NZ yarn too so that’s got to be good.

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This is the first of the socks. They look a little out of proportion because Dad didn’t want long socks . . . just above the ankle was the request. He tried it on for size and then wandered around the house with one sock on for a while because he just didn’t want to take it off.

The second is started and I’m swinging along with it now. The second is always so much easier than the first because you’re familiar with the pattern.

True to my ‘over achieving’ nature I’m planning the next pair. I think it will be the socks on the front cover, however, there’s a gorgeous lacy, self striping pair that I’d love to make for Mum. Gotta make a decision soon.

Easter hols are just around the corner and I have three kids who are all ready for a break (if I’m reading rows and tantrums correctly). It’s just a shame their mum’s (me) not quite ready yet.

Bah to technology

I am so upset that the little port for plugging my camera into the computer is broken as I have a couple of really lovely things to share with you. But, fear not, as my Dad is popping around later so I can borrow his camera and try to sort it all out.

I'll give you some hints though: it has something to do with the finest, softest, warmest, most glorious sock yarn you can imgaine. I'm making socks for my Dad and I took the pattern book with me to the yarn shop (no not Spotlight this time, but a real yarn shop). Well, blow me down but they had the exact yarn required for the job. It's a mix of merino, alpaca, possum and nylon. I'm almost sad to make these for Dad as I want them for me. But, as usual, I'll be strong and will pass them along. I'll hopefully share some photographs with you tomorrow.

The plunket blanket is progressing nicely, if a bit slowly. And the birthday hat for Janae's little friend was a huge hit with her mother and the other mothers, but wasn't so much a hit with the birthday girl. I don't think chocolate brown is her all time favourite colour. It's the perfect colour for her glorious strawberry blonde hair and peaches and cream complextion so let's hope it gets a good wearing this winter.

So keep your fingers crossed that I can overcome my techological difficulties and can share the latest in makings very soon.