Coffee table

Well, believe it or not, I’ve managed to complete a second project this week.

I bought this table for the princely sum of eight English pounds from a local charity shop.

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I spent a few hours sanding it down, then spent this week painting the legs using a tin of Autentico chalk paint I had left over from the little desk I did up a couple of years ago.

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I also used the same wallpaper on the under side of the table as I lined the desk with.  Probably, nobody will ever know it’s there, but I like it!

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A coat of wax to seal the paint and finish the bare pine top and job done!

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Oh October!

It’s October again. October always seems to be when silly season begins and then, well, it’s non stop til Christmas really.

Rehearsals are stepping up a gear for the show I’m performing in at the end of the month. We still have our little knitting corner when we’re not required for a particular scene, and generally it’s all very enjoyable.

I’ve also just auditioned for two more shows – a musical and a play – and have ended up being cast in the role I wanted for both of them! They’re like buses. I did heaps of auditions in the summer and was only cast in one and now two come along at once! Typical! Should be lots of fun though, as long as I don’t wear myself out with all the rehearsals!

As for the knitting, it continues, just very very slowly, not helped by the fact that one of the new needle tips I bought was already catching in the grain so I had to get back to the shop to exchange it. Fortunately Knitpro have a great policy of replacing faulty needles so it didn’t cost me any more.

I took a calculated approach to the remaining grey yarn. I weighed and divided it into two balls, then I cast on and knit a cuff to a length that would match the other edges of the cardigan. I weighed the cuff and the remaining yarn to work out how much I had left for stripes. Then I ripped the cuff out again and got to work. I managed to do the two stripes at the top of the sleeve out of what was left and know I still have enough for the cuffs at the end.

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I’ve started striping in the lighter grey yarn and quite like how it’s looking so far, I’m just not sure how it will look with the whole sleeve done in a different grey. Time will tell.

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As if I needed anything else to work on, I just spotted a small but solid pine coffee table outside a charity shop which I thought I could tidy up by stripping it down and painting or waxing it. We don’t have a coffee table in our living room and I’ve wanted one for ages and at only 8 quid and with some paint leftover from the desk I did a couple of years ago, it couldn’t hurt to try and see what happens. Just gotta find the time to do it around everything else!

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The eagle-eyed amongst you will also have spotted that we’ve done absolutely nothing more with the study. Still a sidelined work in progress. As is the garden currently. It’s silly season out there too as the garden is gradually getting covered with leaves and chestnuts and I remember how much hard work it took to keep on top of it last year. Speaking of which, it’s very nearly a whole year since we moved in here and I just can’t fathom where all that time has gone!

I’m still running. After doing very little over the summer it actually felt great to get back to parkrun. My times were much slower than back in July, and then I ran a couple with the boys – both of them have now run/walked a full 5k – so I was pleasantly surprised to get a new PB last week when I ran it on my own again. Unfortunately rehearsals mean I can’t do parkrun for the next couple of weeks but I’ll keep up the weekday running and get back to it as soon as I can.

The icing on the cake of October is of course Pumpkin’s birthday. He’s very into Mario Kart at the moment, since Mr Jack busted out the old GameCube – retro gaming! – so ideas on a postcard please, for how to make a Mario Kart cake without it being insanely complicated!

I must say, I’m very much looking forward to half term. The boys are exhausted from new school adjustments but they’ll be packed off to the grandparents for half the week while I’ll be rehearsing all hours. But a change is as good as a rest, and I’ll hopefully get a few lie ins.

What do you have going on in October?

A quick project

I’m great at coming up with ideas for things I want to do around the house, not so good at deciding the details and terrible at executing the idea from page to practical completion. So this one is an exceptionally quick win for me!

When we come home from school, bags and coats get dumped on and around the stairs, shoes get kicked off wherever, or get lost in a pile in the cupboard, and books letters and homework get strewn around the house, leading to a mad panicked hunt for them when they’re needed the next day.

I decided we needed a sort of docking station for all school related stuff, to keep us more organised and hopefully therefore less stressed!

The space under the stairs has been a ridiculous dumping ground since we moved in and I’ve been trying to decide how to put it to better use, so this seemed like a good way to do it.

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The games have been moved upstairs to one of the boys rooms. The wooden cupboard keeps getting shifted around and hasn’t found a home yet. Everything else got shoved out of the way to make space.

We have repurposed the white toy unit to make a hallway bench/ bag and shoe cubby. I dug out a couple of old empty magazine holders so the boys can put any books, homework or letters in them. A set of pegs above was the only thing I bought especially, and….

20170917_183419…voilá!

Everything is in one place and ready to go in the morning.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, the piles of bags and shoes are still there, just out of shot under the bottom of the stairs. My house is far from perfect, it’s a work in progress, but I’m happy to have achieved something this weekend and look forward to seeing how it works for us over the coming weeks. I’ll try to do an update later on.

What setups and tricks do you have to keep you organised?

Summer

Having struggled to fill it in previous years, this summer seems to have ended up packed full of activities and away time.

Shopping with friends for cardigan buttons and other goodies.

A little DIY in the kitchen and the saucepan lids have a new home.

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A return to the family ranch is always good for the soul.

The tomatoes are coming along well and we have a pumpkin that has continued growing beyond golf ball size.

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There’s also been lots of reading (Swallows and Amazons with Pumpkin is wonderful!), lots of sewing and still a few name labels to go! Lots of fun at the park and meeting friends, cinema, theatre, TV, Scrabble, all sorts! The summer isn’t over yet and there’s plenty more fun to be had.

Hope you’re enjoying yours!

Fruition

Today, I am breathing a deep sigh of relief. To cut a long story short, after 4 different applications involving 6 different schools and 2 different local councils, 9 months of waiting and commuting, and 2 years of it occupying an insanely large amount of head space, we finally heard the very welcome and long awaited news that Pumpkin has a place at the same school as Pickle for September.

I can’t tell you how relieved and happy I am and how much lighter I feel. Physically lighter, like a huge weight has lifted. I can finally stop wondering and worrying and waiting! Two years of thinking and questioning, planning and hoping and just waiting and waiting has finally come to fruition.

Its funny how things happen all at the same time though isn’t it?

After four unsuccessful auditions, my fifth one finally resulted in a casting! I didn’t get either of the roles I went for, but I’m very happy to be a member of the ensemble for this one. It’s with a company I’ve not worked with before, so a foot in the door is a great start.

And as these things seem to go in threes, I’m also happy to report that my tomatoes have finally made their own move towards fruition and have at long last started to ripen!

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And breathe

I’m so glad its finally the holidays, I feel like I might have a chance to catch my breath.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of busy. My head has been full to bursting of all the dates and information I needed to remember. This time of year is always kinda crazy with school stuff, but with two children starting new schools in september, this year has been mad. All the usual school events, sports days, school trips, fundraising activities, as well as leavers assemblies and parties and transition days for visiting new schools and the associated paperwork and thought processes involved in making sure nothing gets missed. I’m sure some things have been missed.

But we’ve finally made it to the end of term. We’ve said our goodbyes to school, teachers and friends, and cut the last tie to our old town. When we moved house last year, this was the worst case scenario – having to commute back to our old town for Pumpkin’s school until the very end of the academic year – but I think its actually been a good thing for Pumpkin in the end as he gets to leave at the same time as everyone else and participate in all the leavers activities. Personally though, I’m so happy to be done with the commuting and we’ll save a fortune in petrol costs! I can’t wait to be able to walk to school again in September!

Crafting, as usual, has taken a back seat. I have been working on the first button band, but I’m not happy with how it sits at the neckline and hemline edges. I’m currently debating whether it will block out or whether I need to frog and start again. Sigh. I think it may just need one extra stitch adding in at each end to push the ends of the row out to level with the bind off edge of the neck and hem. I dont have much experience of finishing projects like this, so any suggestions?

The veggies in the garden are coming along well, though something has started munching the mini courgettes.

Ive also had another audition and am waiting to hear what comes of that. Im expecting it to be fifth time unlucky, but ya never know!

Running is also continuing to happen. Today is the first time in several weeks that I’ve not been to the local parkrun. In seven runs I’ve got my time down from over 40mins to just over 33mins. I was really surprised by achieving that personal best last week! I’m still aiming for a sub30 by Christmas, just gotta keep the motivation going.

What’s life like for you right now?

Veggies

It was far too hot to be out in the garden last week. Well, too hot to work anyway. So its only today that I’ve managed to actually get my veggies planted out.

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I planted two courgettes (near right and far left) two peppers (opposite corners) and the one in the middle is a pumpkin. The RHS website suggested sinking flower pots in next to the plants so you can water into them rather than over the plant itself to help the water get right down to the roots.

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My hanging basket tomato plant is doing well too. Can you spot the little pea-sized green tomato in there?

In other news, my running is going fairly well of late. I try to do two training runs each week of around 3.4k each, and I’ve continued going to my local parkrun on a Saturday morning as well. I’ve managed to cut 5 minutes off my time since that first week of mostly running with a bit of walking. I’ve set myself a goal, with some encouragement from my brother who is and has always been an excellent runner, of running a sub-30min 5k by Christmas. Something tells me that cutting off the next 5 minutes from my PB will be considerably more difficult!

It’s also audition time again this week. Last night we learnt the audition songs and the audition dance. Now I have to go away and learn and practise everything before Thursday. There are two girls going for each of the two female roles available, so the odds are reasonable but I’m going to have to put some work in beforehand. So if you see me round here again before then, tell me to get on with it!

 

Edges

This week I have been out in the garden lots.

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Our lawn has a brick edging all the way round, but the gradual creep of grass and moss from one side, and dirt, bark, twigs and leaves from the other has obscured it over time. So off I went to the garden centre and acquired myself an edging iron and set to work. There’s a long way to go, but it looks better already, non?

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We also have four veg boxes which I’ve wanted to do something with since we moved in. A couple of months ago I got as far as digging over a couple of them and covering them with a net to keep the cats off, but they’d gotten considerably weedy again since then.

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I acquired a couple of veg plants at the garden centre – courgette, pepper, pumpkin – to complement the courgette I already had languishing on the kitchen windowsill, so I’ve dug over the veg box again and prepared it for the plants to go in.

Today, with the weather being so hot, I’ve combined a little more work with sitting in the shade doing some knitting. It’s been a while.

I finished the bind off along the bottom hem while we were on holiday though I’m not entirely happy with it. I kept getting lost in the sequence of steps, but ploughed on anyway. The result is something that I’m pretty sure is secure, but certainly isn’t pretty. I realised about halfway across just how bad it was looking but unfortunately, as it was a sewn bind off, I couldn’t see an easy way of unpicking what I’d already done. At that point though, I took a few minutes to really think through the process and learn how to read where I was in the sequence of steps and after that it got a lot better.

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Here it is, looking really bobbly and messy on the left and getting neater towards the right. It’s in the middle of the bottom hem so hopefully it won’t be tooooooo noticeable when I’m wearing it. At least now I understand what I’m doing, all the other edges should be a lot neater. Neckline next!

Garden explosion

By the time we came back from holiday, our garden had exploded with flowers and new growth! The rambling rose over the fence was laden with blooms, and the roses and huge peonies were filling the front flower bed. One of my first jobs was to mow the jungle to reclaim the lawn.

I found tiny strawberries alongside the shed and gathered a full handful, and more again since. They’re delicious and the boys are enjoying picking them too.

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I’m not particularly green-fingered and though I try to approach gardening in a considered way, I usually end up employing the ‘hack-it-and-hope’ method, often after things have gotten a bit out of control!

I spent a while untangling long branches of climbing rose, and jasmine and clematis and weaving them back into the trellis at the back of the garden. Unfortunately during the process, I managed to cut off the one beautiful clematis flower! Hopefully some more will grow in its place.

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One of the biggest ongoing jobs in this garden, is dealing with the effects of having a huge sweet chestnut tree growing in the corner. We spent a large part of the autumn raking up leaves and picking up the chestnuts and their spiky cases. The spring seems to consist largely of hunting down all the seedlings that have sprung up from the fallen chestnuts we missed, or the squirrels have hidden, and digging them out before they get too big. We have to watch out for holly and sycamore too, as well as the brambles that suddenly seem to have started sprouting all over. Pumpkin helped a little – he was especially proud of the ‘two-man-job’ saplings that had huge roots on them that required a good joint effort. I also had a little feathered helper who seemed very curious and friendly and hung around for quite some time.

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Garden pompoms

Isn’t it nice to have some sunshine again! I’m enjoying my garden at the moment, especially these pompom pops of purple chives which are right outside my kitchen doors. I do love alliums, and it’s still exciting seeing what my new garden has to offer me as the seasons progress.

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Knitting has been sorely lacking here of late. I am gearing up to do a tubular bind off of the bottom ribbing of my crazy stripes, but haven’t managed to summon the courage or find the time to dedicate to it properly yet. Soon, I hope.

Theatrics continue. I have auditioned for a play and got a recall, but am still waiting to hear whether I’ve been cast. This week also sees the start of workshops for the next full-scale musical production my local society are doing. It will be good to get stuck into something again soon.

I’m also trying to get back into running again. I did quite well at the start of the year, running fairly regularly and getting up to 3k routes, with the aim of taking part in a parkrun 5k event. I stalled at 3k though and life and (not wanting to cripple myself before) shows got in the way, as they do. So, after several months of not running at all, I did the sensible thing and just decided to go for it and do the parkrun anyway! Crippling yourself *after* a show is fine, right!? I didn’t manage to run the full 5k. There was rather more walking than I’d have liked, but hey, I made it to the finishing line in a reasonable time, and I can only get better, right!? Maybe having a time to beat will encourage me to put some work in!