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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Sew busy

Today was a sewing day. Pumpkin went to his grandparents and Pickle was happily occupied with some new colouring pens and a few episodes of Paw Patrol. I felt the need to do something productive and spotted a T shirt of Pickles that has been put to one side for ages in need of a little mending, and so decided that this was a day for sewing.

I fixed the T shirt first, reattaching a piece of fabric across the inside of the front which covers the back of the embroidered picture to stop it tickling the tummy when worn.

Next up was a pair of Pumpkin’s school trousers that had sustained a knee injury on the playground a few weeks ago.

It was quite a big hole, so I patched it from behind with some iron-on mending fabric that I must have had for years as it was from Woolworths! It stuck pretty well, but I stitched it all the way round the edge for security too. It was a bit obvious on the outside so I folded some of the remaining loose fibres over the hole and darned them into place. Its not the best patch job, but hopefully its not too noticeable when worn at knee level and the trousers will last a bit longer at least!

Then I remembered a T shirt of mine that I never wear because the stitching had come undone and left a hole in the armpit (not a great look!) so I fixed that too.

Then, since I had all my sewing stuff out, I thought I may as well make a start on the great nametag sew-in marathon of the year. Pickle is starting reception in September so this week has seen a fortune dropped on new uniform for him. Pumpkin is also starting a new school in September, though as yet theres still a little uncertainty as to which one, so his uniform buying spree will happen closer to the start of term. Spreading out the sewing seemed like a good plan too.

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Now, lots of other mums think I’m nuts for using the sew-in type of name label. Just today I’ve seen rave reviews for both the iron-on stickers and the ink stamp type nametags and also a recommendation for the sharpie ‘write-it-on-yourself’ approach, but I dunno, I think I’ll always be a sew-in fan. Yes, its a faff and time-consuming, it makes my fingers hurt and I can’t believe how many I still have to do, but once they’re done, I know they’re not going to fade or fall off, they’ll last as long as the item of clothing does and once that item is outgrown or worn out, I can remove the label without a trace and I guess, even reuse it if I want to! They’re the same type of label that my mum used for me and my siblings when we were at school too, so it feels like a familiar and a sort of generational link. I even doubled up the initials so the same ones do for either child depending which way you fold it! Thanks mum! Its a labour of love and I’ll keep doing it for as long as my boys need nametags in their clothes!

What’s in your mending pile? Which type of nametag do you use?

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?

A tough day

I’m feeling a little discombobulated today. Pumpkin didn’t want to go to school today as all of his friends are off to visit their new junior school, finding out which class and which house they will be in when they start there in September. Pumpkin is one of only two children who won’t be going with them.

Since we moved house last October, it’s been a continuing waiting game to find out where he will be going to school in September, and, though he does have a place at a local school, we’re still waiting to find out whether he can go to the same school that his brother will be starting in September. It’s been stressful. It still is.

So I feel for Pumpkin today, but am also feeling a bit wobbly myself. I have been in need of distraction. Last night I found myself trawling Ravelry for a new project. I nearly went and raided my stash for something suitable this morning, but decided instead to utilise the drive to work on something and started casting off the neckline of Crazy Stripes. An hour later and it was done!

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I don’t think I can face an hour at the park after school listening to the other mummies chirp about what house their child is in, so maybe I’ll take the boys out for a treat somewhere. I think we’ll both have done well to get through the day.

Improvisation

Pumpkin forgot to take his football kit to school today for his after school football club. Fortunately for him, he has a kind mummy who was willing to come to school early to deliver his kit and then wait around for an hour until football finished. School is a 25 minute drive away so not worth coming home in between.

Fortunately for me, this gave me a whole hour of knitting time. Or so I thought, until I read the first line of the next section of my pattern which told me to slip around a third of my stitches onto waste yarn, and I had neither spare yarn, nor scissors, nor yarn needle with me. I attempted to improvise. Spare yarn was to be found in one of my existent sets of held stitches for the sleeves. I used a key to cut the length of yarn I needed, but was stumped as to how to get the stitches onto the yarn. I was just considering using a spare needle tip ( the split one I replaced recently) to somehow thread the stitches, when I went to put away the stitch marker that was no longer required and there, joy of joys, in my stitch marker box, was a yarn needle!

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The stitches were swiftly and safely dispatched onto scrap yarn and I made the most of the remainder of my knitting time!

Is there a good way to slip stitches to scrap yarn without a yarn needle? What would you have done?

All change!

We’ve been in the new house for around a month now, and loving it! Boxes are mostly unpacked, homes still need to be found for various things, but we have so much more space, it’s wonderful!

Pumpkin had his birthday party last week. He’s very into Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the moment; he got a Chitty book as a gift from his godmother, and we’d arranged to take him to see the touring stage production too, but having googled for inspiration, I thought a Chitty cake was a step too far, so I left her in the theatre and had a rethink. Fortunately, he’s also very into Minecraft, so I went very meta and made him a Minecraft Cake cake.

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Simple, but effective. Appreciated and totally yummy!

The area we’ve moved to has a lot more trees around us, so the autumn colours have been spectacular, but it also creates a lot more work for us as we have to keep raking the leaves up regularly. It’s a new challenge, but it’s nice to be out in the garden, appreciating the fresh air and extra space.

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These leaves have got me thinking about the grad yarn I bought at Unravel this year, but I’ve got far too many projects under way already that I need to finish.

The needle tips I was using for my Stripes Gone Crazy were pilfered back to their former project  – a pair of fingerless gloves for the hubby. His hands suffer in the cold, so he’s in desperate need of them, since he lost his last pair on a train at the end of last winter. Unfortunately, my hands also suffer in the cold, so knitting hasn’t always been possible, despite having it tucked in my handbag ready for any opportunity! Still, slow progress is better than no progress, right!?

A blogging bat-hat-strophe!

I suddenly seem to be back on a yarny kick at the moment.

Pumpkin was invited to the super-hero themed birthday party of a girl in his class. I was reliably informed that her favourite colours were also pink and purple, so I hit upon the idea of making a hat in pink and purple, with the logo of a famous superhero, which I imagine is not the kind of combination that is readily available on the highstreet!

I found a charted pattern for the logo on Ravelry, and set to work. I’ve never done colour work before, so that was an interesting new challenge. My tension was a bit shoddy, as I struggled to catch the floats in evenly, and so the final logo was a little puckered in places, but overall not a bad attempt.

Unfortunately, despite thinking constantly all the way through the knitting process that I needed to get a good photo of it for blogging, I totally failed to snap any shots of it whatsoever, so you’ll just have to imagine how great it looked!

Pumpkin was also an utter disaster on the feedback front. He couldn’t give me any indication as to the little girls reaction when he finally gave it to her in class (only a couple of weeks after the party by which I’d intended to have it completed!) . Luckily I stood next to her mum in the pick up queue yesterday afternoon, and she told me it had gone down very well. How nice and reassuring it is to know that your handknits are appreciated!

World Book Day also inspired me to craft. Being the super organised mother that I am, I asked the boys what they’d like to dress up as for World Book Day, oh, about 4pm the day before, so we ended up with rather low-key costuming. Pumpkin went as Mog from the books by Judith Kerr, simply wearing a white T shirt, and a grey zipped jumper and grey trousers. He reluctantly submitted to having whiskers drawn on with eyeliner, but refused point-blank to wear the cat-ears-on-a-headband that his daddy had lovingly made for him. “I’m NOT wearing a headband, mummy!”

Pickle wanted to go as The Little Red Train, from the book sby Benedict Blathwayt, but since I didn’t fancy being up til the small hours engineering a train costume from a cardboard box, nor did I relish the thought of sending the child to nursery in such a costume, I persuaded him to go as Duffy Driver from the books instead. He was amenable, so a white shirt, blue trousers and (mostly) blue zipped top formed the basis of the costume. We dispensed with the necessity for a hat, since Duffy rarely seems to wear his, and the only thing that was required to complete the outift was a red tie. Short on time and short on materials, I settled on crochet as the quickest means of producing a tie. And sure enough, by the end of the day I had this:

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I’m not sure how fashionable a crochet tie might be, but a 2 year old fortunately doesn’t seem to mind, and he looked very smart!

Meet Toothless

Work on the Clanger has stalled, and it’s currently looking like a rather strange pink penguin.

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Instead, I have been working on the annual cake-creation for the Pumpkin’s birthday. He’s been very into ‘Dragons: Riders of Berk’ on CBBC recently, which is part of the same franchise as the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ films, so he decided a couple of months ago that he wanted his party to be themed along those lines, including and especially, his cake.

I thought I could get away with the easy option of just stacking a couple of cakes to make the Island of Berk, and buying a couple of figurines or toys of Hiccup and Toothless to stick on the top, which he could then keep to play with afterward, but I scoured the shops for something suitable and couldn’t find what I wanted. So that left me with the not-so-easy option of attempting to make an actual Toothless Cake! For those of you not familiar with him, this is Toothless:

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A quick scan of google images and Pinterest showed me many rather impressive creations, and some less successful ones! Fortunately, some kind person has made an excellent Youtube tutorial, demonstrating exactly how to go about making Toothless in cake form.

I started with two large chocolate mud cakes (recipe here) and glued them together with chocolate ganache (recipe here). I’ve never carved a cake before, but once I got started, and with the tutorial for reference, it was actually alot easier than I expected it to be, and really quite satisfying seeing the dragon shape emerge.

IMG_3731 IMG_3733 IMG_3737Once the basic shape was there he was covered in ganache and left to chill out in the fridge overnight.

Covering him in fondant was more of a challenge. I started out trying to cover him using as few pieces of fondant as possible, but it was really hard to roll out a 2D shape that was the right size and shape to cover a 3D cake. I tried to cover the whole tail in one piece a couple of times, but ended up doing it in 2 pieces. Once I realised that actually it was possible to blend the two pieces so you couldn’t even see where the join was, the whole thing became much easier  and far less daunting to do. I think I used 3 pieces to cover the body in the end, and did most of the legs separately. The head was all done in one go though, including his ears and horns at the back of his head. Once the black icing was on, he only needed a few small extra details – eyes, claws, spines, tail fins and wings, and he was all done!

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I would have liked him to have a bit more texture to his skin, but there was no easy way to do it, so he stayed smooth-skinned. I also made some cupcakes with printed toppers of other characters from the show, which complemented the cake nicely.

IMAG2857 IMAG2860I received some lovely compliments from the grown-ups at the party, including a near-commission. The cupcakes went down well with kids and adults alike, and the kids mostly knew who the cake was meant to be! But the best moment was seeing the look on Pumpkin’s face when I held his hand and brought him to see the cake laid out on the table. He happily went round telling everyone that ‘Mummy said she couldn’t make a cake like that, but she did it!’  If that’s not the best kind of encouragement for trying something new and challenging, I don’t know what is!?

Clangers

Pickle and I went on an adventure at the weekend, taking the train up to stay with my parents for a couple of days. Whilst we were there, I wandered up to the local yarn shop, in search of ‘Clanger Pink’.  The shop assistant was most helpful, and even produced a full book of patterns which I used for colour matching. The best match was a ball of Stylecraft in Pale Rose so, mindful of having to lug a suitcase and a two year old home on the train, I purchased that and nothing else. How very restrained!

I have the pattern already from the CBeebies website and printed it off yesterday, so that I have no more reason to procrastinate over starting it. Aside from, you know, life stuff, which feels a bit crazy at the moment.

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