Seasons may change

I’m kinda itching to knit at the moment, but I’m at the tricky stages of Crazy Stripes with bind offs and button bands and I need to be able to sit down and concentrate on it so as not to mess it up at a vital moment. And I have to be monogamous or it’ll end up in a wip pile forever more while I get distracted by new pretties. So knitting just ain’t happening at the moment.

In the meantime, I’m in more of a reading phase. I ploughed through 4 or 5 books while we were on holiday. A couple of them, admittedly, were actually children’s novels, so a fast read, but even so it was lovely to have the chance to just chill out with my nose in a book. I’m now back onto Game of Thrones. Having stalled a bit on the previous one, I’m now on to the final volume that’s currently published. I have a feeling I’m going to be a bit frustrated at the end of this one as the next one isn’t released yet, but hubby is catching me up a bit now, so maybe we can move over to the TV show instead.

Our holiday in Germany was great. The campsite had excellent facilities, the boys swam every day in the indoor pool and we loved the local area. The landscapes were stunning and the views spectacular. We did a lot of walking and went down to the local town of Saarburg a couple of times and even found a yarn shop there!

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I had a browse but restrained myself from buying as I know I’ve got some stashbusting to do, whenever I get the chance to start a new project.

We returned home to wilting tomatoes, a moderate sized pumpkin and a lush patch of unexpected autumn crocuses.

We moved in almost a year ago now, so we’ve nearly gone full seasonal cycle in the garden and as autumn approaches I know I’m in for a month or two of hard work raking leaves and chestnuts.

The boys have started their new school and seem to be settling in well, and I now have daytimes all to myself. I’ve been doing jobs and running errands this week, but once things shake down into the new routine, I’ll get the cardigan finished and then I can make a start on some new projects. My head is swimming with ideas, so it’ll be nice to have to time to actually execute some of them. I’ve also just finished sewing nametags onto the last of the school shirts. I’m so glad I made an early start on it and did it over several sessions instead of leaving everything to the last minute like I usually do!

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In search of sheepy

This year’s Big Family Holiday took place in Scotland. For those that don’t remember, or haven’t been around that long, every couple of years we gather together with all of my mum’s side of the family, for a week’s holiday together. There’s usually around 40 of us though we were missing a few this time, so it was closer to 30, although one cousin did manage to make it all the way from Australia especially!

We had a great week together as we always do, cooking meals in teams, venturing out in smaller groups on day trips around the local area and further afield and playing games, drinking wine and sharing stories in the evenings. We even had a mad circus-themed morning with lots of great costumes and silly games.

The biting midges were awful and I shall be spotty from their nasty bites for a good week to come, I think. The midges and the ticks were a major downside, but we still managed to have fun walking the hills and building dens in the woods. The boys had a great time with their cousins and second-cousins and were sad to leave them all at the end of the week.

Being Scotland, I was hoping to find something suitably sheepy to bring home with me. Sadly, the closest I got was a long walk led by my uncle, consisting of bog-snorkelling, ditch-vaulting and electric fence hopping during which the sheep stood eyeing us all suspiciously from a safe distance. Wise sheep. Seriously. I got very muddy, and managed to electrocute myself! Despite which, it was still strangely enjoyable!

Even a day trip to the Isle of Arran was a bust on the sheepy stakes as there wasn’t time for mooching and browsing even had I spotted a promising looking shop.

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I did stumble across some gorgeous crocheted jewellery made by Red Squirrel Crafts. I especially loved her leaf designs, but, not really being one to wear much jewellery, I reluctantly refrained from purchasing anything.

I consoled myself with the prospect of visiting the Yorkshire town of Skipton on our rather indirect journey home. Skipton is the home of Lucy of Attic24. I don’t follow her blog particularly closely these days, yet it remains one of my favourite blogs. I love Lucy’s designs and am in awe of her sense for colour. Her Neat Ripple pattern was the one I chose to use for Pickle’s special baby blanket, and it’s my go-to design for baby blankets generally.

One of her most recent blog posts was about Yarn Shop Day, back at the start of May and so from that, I knew there was a great yarn shop in Skipton and I was looking forward to having a browse and had warned my husband that I may well emerge with some form of yarny purchase.

We had limited time in Skipton, so we parked up right next to the canal and wandered into town, only to find that the aforementioned yarn shop was closed. Waahhh!

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So the consolation to the consolation prize, was to find the little cafe ‘Coopers’ where Lucy has her studio upstairs. It was a good choice for lunch as the food was excellent and the staff friendly, and though I didn’t bump into Lucy herself, it was nice to see her surroundings.

I wish we could have stayed longer in Skipton – it seems like a lovely town- but alas we had to drive on, and I remained empty- handed.

Clearly, the Crazy Stripes must be finished before any further yarn purchases can be permitted.

On the plus side though, I have learnt how to solve a Rubik’s cube. I can’t say it was ever a strong ambition to do so, yet it feels like a great accomplishment to have done so!

 

Brakes On!

Today is Pickle’s birthday party.

We booked a soft play party and invited his friends. From his point of view, it’s that same kind of party his brother has, so he’s happy. From my point of view, it’s easy peasy. Activity is provided, food is included. I just have to do party bags and the cake.

Now, I admit I haven’t been particularly organised about it, but a couple of last minute evening activities this week really threw my timings off. I had an insanely busy day yesterday, but managed to get the cake baked and a chocolate ganache prepared, leaving me about 4 hours to crumb-coat it, fondant cover it and decorate it today.

It took me a while to successfully cover it in fondant. In fact, I wasn’t totally happy with it, but was pressed for time so accepted that was how it was going to be. I was just moving on to the more interesting stages of decorating, when I received a phone call from school saying that Pumpkin had been sick and I needed to collect him immediately. Oh.

Brakes on.

I spent the afternoon calling and texting round all the guests to reschedule the party for two weeks time. And then I crashed out. Shattered!

Now I have a half decorated cake sitting on the side and two weeks before the party. I have googled and I am going to attempt to freeze the cake whole and hope it’s ok to be defrosted and decorated fully in two weeks time.

Just hope none of the rest of us get the bug in the meantime.

Whirlwind

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of cakes and rehearsals, car troubles, birthdays (cake), theatre (cake), new car and a party tomorrow (more cake!), with a little knitting thrown in where time has allowed.

The show was brilliant. It felt so good to be out on a big stage again, with all the trimmings in place. The set was fab – it took some adjustment from rehearsal room to stage space, but it looked fantastic and was so great to work on. Costumes, props, lights, a full band on stage, dressing room shenanigans and cast cameraderie. I made cupcakes as a good luck/thank you gift for the cast and crew which went down rather well.

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I honestly loved every second. It was like a weird blast from the past and a very enjoyable present. I’ve got a week off now before we go into pre-audition workshops for the next musical which will be presented next May.

Not that I’ve really got time off.

Pumpkin had his birthday during the half term holiday and we had a very small gathering of friends and family to celebrate. I made a quick birthday cake, which turned out very well and was rather effective, given its simplicity.

IMAG2059It was just a simple chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing. I baked a square cake which I cut in half and stacked to make the bottom part of the chest, and then a loaf cake for the lid. I sliced a little off the edges of the loaf cake to make the lid more curved, and I sliced a little off the lower back corner so that it would have a flat edge to rest on still when it propped up. I stuffed the front edge with gold and silver covered chocolate coins (thank goodness the Christmas stuff is out in the shops already!), using buttercream to stick them in place, and used various sweets to decorate it. The ‘sand’ is made from crushed shortbread biscuits and liberally sprinkled with jelly bean, smartie and chocolate coin treasure. Pumpkin and his friends loved it!

The big birthday party is happening tomorrow, and the cake is well under way. I just hope I don’t end up staying up too late tonight making it. My poor brain is feeling pretty frazzled. I’d better get on with it I suppose.

More on the cake and knitting next time.

Distractions

Knitting, and well, crafting generally has gone on the back burner recently. We were away on holiday last week during the May half term, with all of my extended family on my mum’s side. There were around thirty-five of us all together, spanning four generations, gathered for a week in West Wales. Every time I talk to anyone about it and see their reaction, I’m reminded what a rarity and privilege it is to be part of such a large family group who enjoy meeting up and spending time together. Spread as we are across all corners of England and Scotland, we don’t meet up often, and doing so is a large undertaking with plenty of challenges – not least finding somewhere that can accommodate us all in one place – but it is so much fun and very much a treasured time and experience.

Pumpkin and Pickle especially loved being away, with freedom to explore, cousins to adventure with and plenty of adults to help entertain them and keep them occupied, not to mention day trips out to castles and gardens, topped off with fish and chips and ice cream all together on the most gorgeous little tucked away beach at the end of the week. Coming home has been quite a let down to be honest!

On the upside, this week has seen the start of our small building project, so the boys have enjoyed watching proceedings from the excellent vantage point of the front room window. Pickle is on the verge of walking and has just learned how to pull himself up on to the sofa so he can make his own way onto the large windowsill to watch the builders with his brother.

Tomorrow are the auditions for the musical that I am hoping to do. I’ve had to dust off my dancing feet and rediscover my singing voice in the last couple of weeks of workshops, but it’s been good fun and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the rehearsal process.

My knitting is still sitting in exactly the same position as it was when I took a photo for my previous post, so it’s definitely feeling neglected and sorry for itself. I’ve been browsing patterns though and have found one that I think I will line up as my next project, so I ought to get cracking really. Too many things to do, and certainly not enough hours in the day.