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!

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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!

 

Roundup time

All has been a little quiet here for a while, so I thought it was time to do another quick roundup of what I’ve been up to.

Our back garden has just been completely re-landscaped. We got rid of some rather overgrown conifer trees and cleared the whole space, levelled the ground and returfed everything. It’s much lighter and brighter and so much better. It’s much more practical and appealing for the boys to play out there now. I know, because I’m desperately trying to keep them off the grass until the turf has rooted in! And it’s much lower maintenance which is great for a non green-fingered bod like me, although I’ll still have space to plant a few bulbs and things.

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Lots of space for Pumpkin and Pickle to play

I am between theatre activities at the moment. My current group has just auditioned for its next musical production. I went along to one of the dance workshops, which was hard work but good fun, but ultimately decided not to audition for the show. This is partly so that I am a bit more free over the summer, to go visit my folks for a week or so perhaps, or to go away for a few days as a family, without worrying about missing rehearsals. However, I am getting a little antsy about not having a show lined up, so I’ve just joined a different theatre group, who mostly specialise in plays rather than musicals, so I’ll see what comes up with them.

Knitting has got me all frustrated at the moment. I went back to the bane of my life cardigan, and have started knitting the button-hole band, but I just can’t get the edge to look right. The button side I slipped the first stitch of each row and it kept the edge tidy, but doing the same on the hole side doesn’t seem to have the same effect – I keep ending up with a little bump around each edge, rather than a nice neat series of V’s. I guess a picture is probably more useful here.

Nice neat slipped stitch edging

Nice neat slipped stitch edging

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Horrible little bumps around each edge. Where did it all go wrong?

I’ve tried slipping knitwise and slipping purlwise and neither seems to make any difference to the edge. The two bands feel completely different too; the neat one feels soft and lovely, whereas the bumpy one feels much more hard and stiff. Somebody please tell me what I’m doing wrong, and how I should be doing it! If I can fix this problem, I might actually be able to get it finished and have a FO for my next post!

So, as a distraction from the frustrations of annoying knitting (and because I really am not going to knit anything else until this flaming annoying cardigan is done, I’ve resorted to gaming instead. It’s been years since I really played anything on the Wii, but I’ve had a sudden craving for a bit of Zelda, so I’m working on Skyward Sword. I’m not enjoying the graphics as much as I liked Twilight Princess, and the fighting feels a lot more tactical than any other Zelda’s I’ve played before – I’m more of a whack-it-and-hope-it-dies type player, but I’m not far in, so we’ll see how it develops.

Oh, and has anyone seen the new Clangers on CBeebies? Pumpkin and Pickle are quite taken with it. Pumpkin actually turned to me the other day and said ‘Mummy, for your next knitting, can you knit me a Clanger?’ !! I love his confidence! A quick search on Ravelry revealed several patterns, including an official one on the CBeebies website, so if you’re in the UK you can download it here: CBeebies Clanger Knitting Pattern. I’ve downloaded a copy and will add it to my list of things to make.

Onwards

So, I have taken up the knitting again and it’s going well so far. I’m working my way up the shaping of the armholes and it’s working up faster than I expected. There is another slightly daunting hurdle coming up, but another Youtube video will set me on my way.

I’ve been reading through the archives of a knitting blog and have seen some beautiful patterns. I also think I’d like to try out continental knitting. I’m working English style at the moment, and it seems like there’s quite a lot of movement in it which could be streamlined so I can work a bit faster.

I’ve spent most of the bank holiday weekend out in the garden which is in need of a lot of work at the moment. I’m not a gardener by any means and we’ve rather let things run wild since we moved in here a few years ago, so we’re just trying to get things under control and then we’ll work on making it more suitable for the boys to play in. We cleaned out and moved the sandpit at least, which Pumpkin was delighted by, and even Pickle enjoyed a brief sit in it. They’ll both enjoy it so much this summer, I’m sure.