A Catch Up

I am sitting writing this (and hoping it will save as I have no wi-fi) in the car in the middle of a field near Sandwich in Kent. I realise this seems a little strange, but I can explain. Mini Mister fell asleep during our drive out here, and since his routine is totally out, any time he actually naps at the moment is a blessing. Hubby had to sit in the car with him yesterday, so it is my turn today. At least I have all the windows open and there is a lovely strong breeze blowing through to keep us cool. It has been rather too warm the last few days for me (and the children, to be honest, as it makes them more crotchet than usual). As for the where, well, the picture shows my current view, Richborough Fort.

Richborough Picklepiemama

Richborough through the windscreen

We last came here when Maxi was a baby (and bumped into the then Archbishop of Canterbury in the shop/exhibition), so decided a return visit was needed. It is a huge open area, with loads of Roman ruins and plenty of space for the kids to run around. Since we are staying near my Dad’s place (and my middle sister and her family are staying with Dad) we have 4 smalls between us to entertain. This should keep them occupied for a bit (well except Mini, as previously mentioned). Richborough was the site of a huge port until the area silted up. The coast is now further away and the fort has fallen into ruins. But the remains of the Saxon walls are impressive (the Saxons used the remains of the Romans fort to build their walls).

Richborough Picklepiemama

Spot the child – Maxi in front of one of the walls at Richborough (picture courtesy of Hubby)

So, a catch-up. Yet again, I have not been writing my blog as often as I should. But it is the summer holidays and we have been quite busy. I have worked my way through some of my sewing projects whilst Mini has been at Nursery and Maxi has been either at football camp, Playscheme or his grandparents’ place in Suffolk. Some housework and clearing out has taken place, but I still have loads to do. I have attempted some baking and making, but since I am following Slimming World, I haven’t tried that many cakes and biscuits. I have, however, discovered that quark is quite good for mousses, learnt how to use powdered and leaf gelatine, rediscovered how many different kinds of dishes can be made with 0% fat Greek yogurt (sweet and savoury), and eaten my bodyweight in fruit and veg! Some experiments didn’t work well and need tweaking, some we never want to eat again, but mostly they have been successes. I do get through an awful lot of fat-free yogurt though!

Summer visits with the kids have included soft play in various places, the beach in Southwold, a few castles (we are planning on another this afternoon, and yet another tomorrow), RSPB MinsmereThames Chase Forest CentreThameside Nature Park (Essex Wildlife Trust), a railway exhibition, the East Anglian Transport Museum in Carlton Colville, the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway (all the way out to the power station at Dungeness), the Sealife Adventure in Southend, and a theatre trip with Maxi only to London to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and hunting Dream Jars near the theatre. We have read a lot, done lots of crafty things, been paddling in pools and the sea, got muddy, got very tired, caught the sun, poured sand out of clothes and shoes, got through a lot of suncream, and had a lot of fun. Me and hubby even managed to get a night away to go to Birmingham so I could go to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC (so much creativity in one place was truly inspiring – and I now have even more projects lined up…).

Anyway, I think I will wrap it up there for the moment, and go back to sewing hexies. Mini is still asleep, so the above image may be my only view of Richborough today 😊

Quick Makes 3 – Fairy Wings Bag

I wasn’t sure whether to add this as a Quick Make, but in the end I reasoned that it really is quick to do when you aren’t disturbed by small children wanting to climb on you.

 

As I mentioned in my post last week, I was commissioned to make a replacement bag for a friend’s daughter’s fairy wings. The one she had was made of chiffon and had finally fallen to pieces. Could I make a replacement which would hold more than one pair of wings?

 

The original bag was a drawstring affair, so I suggested making a larger version out of cotton. The fabric combined with the use of French seams should make the bag much more robust and suited to a small girl taking her fairy wings in and out of the bag multiple times.

 

I went back to the drawstring bag tutorial I have used previously as it is straightforward and doesn’t leave raw edges. I probably didn’t need to use the tutorial as I have made quite a few of the bags, but as it is a while since I last made one, I thought I would have a quick read.

 

I had some lovely fabric from Ikea, left over from covering my pressing board, and some Doodlebug pink stripy ribbon I bought from Prints to Polka Dots in their sale recently.

 

The only changes I made to Georgina’s version of the bag was to French seams the bottom of the bag as I didn’t have a large enough section of fabric to cut the whole bag on the fold, and I double-hemmed (2 folds rather than 1) the channel at the top.

Double-hemming fold, and sewing the drawstring channel:

 

French seams on the bottom and sides.  I also stitched a curve on the corners at the bottom (not my neatest sewing, but it did the job):

French seams Picklepiemama

French seams on the bottom and sides

 

And the finished bag, kindly photographed by the recipient’s mum 😊

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Prepping Projects

Picklepiemama Projects

I have been prepping like crazy over the last couple of weeks, and now have loads of projects ready to go. I could have done them one at a time and actually got some finished, but I decided to take the opportunity of having no little people in the house to have the iron, pressing board, and cutting mat all out. Little fingers are far too inquisitive. So the hexies have been progressing in the evenings and the project prep during the day (in breaks from housework, cooking, and volunteering at Maxi Mister’s school).

 

I have worked out an order in which to do them, but it may well change. This is because I need to press some of them as I go along, and therefore can’t work on them when the children are around. And because I get distracted far too easily!

 

Here are my prepped projects. I plan to post about each as they are done, so look out for lots of pictures.

1. Angel Wings Bag – this is a commission from a friend for her daughter. It is based on the drawstring bag from Georgina Giles, which I have used before.

2. Tablet Cover – I have based this on the gorgeous one that Caroline from SewCanShe made in January. I have had to do some jiggling around of sizing to fit my tablet, so hopefully it will work…

3. Beach/Pool Bag- I spotted this tutorial a couple of weeks ago and plan to make 2 of them, as I can forsee we will probably need both while we are away.

4. Grandmother’s Flower Garden Pincushion – I started this over the Easter holidays as I wanted a handsewing project that I could finish quickly. It has taken me a while to get my bum in gear to get wadding for it, but it is now ready to quilt and make up. I bought it from Sew & Quilt, from the very helpful Jessie

5. Bionic Gear Bag – this was introduced to me by the lovely ladies on the UK Quilters United Facebook page. Not only was I amazed at how much you can squeeze into this little bag, I was also intrigued by the challenges it presents with making it, as it is apparently rather complex. I can’t help thinking it is a bit like an Ikea flat pack. This, by the way, is from a paid for tutorial via Craftsy. I don’t normally try things that have bought patterns, but it was just too tempting.

6. Maxi Mister’s Quilt – yes, I have finally prepped his quilt. I have had the fabric for over a year, and it has been pressed for about 2 months. But I have now made a start…

7. Pattern Weights – still haven’t decided which shape I am doing these, and they are not urgent, so bottom of the list they go.

If that lot isn’t enough, I also have a couple of other commissions in the offing as well, and of course my hexie quilt. I really need to get going! 😊

 

 

‘Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud’ or ‘The 3 Foot Festival’

Actually, it wasn’t quite that bad. But we did end up covered in mud (feet and legs) and got through an awful lot of baby wipes 😊

I took Mini Mister to the 3 Foot People Festival at Hylands House in Chelmsford yesterday. I always wanted to take Maxi, but was always at work when it was on and now he is too old. So I have taken the opportunity of the hiatus in work to go with Mini. And we loved it! He tried out loads of things and spent most of the day running around a muddy, straw-covered field. Except when he was in the sandpit.  What toddler wouldn’t love that?

For those who have absolutely no clue what I am talking about, the 3 Foot People Festival is a 3-day event in Chelmsford where only little people under the age of 6 and their carers are allowed to go. There are all sorts of activities, and thousands of people go. In fact, I had to spend ages on the Internet when the tickets went on sale, refreshing the browser, just to try to get onto the ticket page. All 14000 tickets sold out within 48 hours this year, I think! Check out here or here if you want to find out more.

Anyway, we had a good day and the weather held. Fingers crossed for today and tomorrow as it is due to rain again today and the ground is already saturated. I hope everyone is prepared!

Actually, that brings me to Things I Would Do Differently Next Year:

1. Wear, or at least take, wellies. We were warned about footwear, but I decided that sandals would be cooler for me and easier to dry off. They are still drying today! I think Mini may have struggled in his this year, and at least I can brush the mud off his trainers (I hope). I think I will get some of those cropped wellies for me. Not so sticky and hot as full wellies. But at least I won’t need to scrub my feet like I did last night.

2. Take a waterproof-backed picnic blanket. Or any, but waterproof would be best given the dampness this year. It would have given us a wider range of seating choices. And I think Mini’s skin may have had a brief reaction to the straw in the bales we sat on having our ice creams. Mind you, we would need to be careful where we put it down; I had to virtually paddle across one part of the field to get to the baby change tent. Yuck!

3. Take hubby. We managed, just the 2 of us, but with a lively toddler an extra person would have come in handy. One of us could have queued for things (like the land train or the refreshments providers) while the other occupied Mini. I am so proud of him for how well he coped though, especially with the entrance and train queues. 

4. Get there early enough to scout out the site first. There was a map, but it didn’t totally match up to what was there (and the tents did not always match their little pictures), so it was a bit confusing until we had been round a couple of times. If there had been 2 of us, one could have scouted whilst the other occupied Mini with snack time.

5. As for getting there earlier, I need to go to Weigh-In on Monday evening instead of my usual Tuesday morning, so that we can get up to Chelmsford at least an hour earlier than I did. To be fair, we were warned about the queues, and they were partly so long (to get into the carpark and then to walk into the Festival area) because the organisers were trying to get loads more straw down to try to combat the sogginess of the ground. They did their best, but the usual British weather had had its say as per usual!

Other than that, I don’t think I would change anything. The food choices were excellent (if you don’t have a total fusspot like Mini), there were plenty of loos, and, importantly, there was plenty of space. It never felt crowded. Mini had a go at 2 different dance sessions, various musical and languages based toddler classes, got his finger chewed by a duck, saw a snake (but didn’t want to touch it), played in a giant sandpit, decorated a crown, had a ride on a train, had his first ’99’, with a flake (!), and fell asleep in the car on the way home.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Can’t wait for next year! 😊

Makes and Ends

Yet again I have had a huge gap in my blogging. I have done things, and I have come up with loads of ideas for posts, but just not got round to finishing them. But since it is half term, I have had a good Bank Holiday weekend at Dad’s, and I am shattered from organising the house (looonnng way to go yet), I have been baking and sewing. Because, of course, that is what you do when you are so tired, you seriously contemplate using matchsticks to keep your eyes open 😀

This evening’s offering is a Chocolate and Coffee Marble Loaf Cake, recipe courtesy of The Pink Whisk. I originally planned to make this last week, and even got as far as measuring out the butter, but never did anything else. Anyway, it was an easy, basic sponge cake recipe, with a bit of flavouring, a bit of swirling, and then a bake. It looks like the original and tastes lovely. Will definitely be making this again.

image

Chocolate and Coffee Marble Loaf Cake

I made cheese on toast for Maxi Mister earlier as well, but that doesn’t really count as baking. He is quite easy to make meals for as he eats most things, although does go through random spates of hating things (one time it was only melted cheese, then only orange cheese, then only grated cheese, then no cheese – argghhhhhhhhh!). Mini Mister is harder to cater for as he doesn’t want to eat anything he hasn’t specifically decided is OK for any particular day. And that changes hourly, let alone daily. Yes, it is his age, but who doesn’t like chips???!!! At least he tends to eat well at Nursery. We did discover yesterday that he seems to like cheese toasted inside a tortilla (had lunch at Chimichanga in Canterbury), but, of course, if I try giving it to him, he will probably reject it (“No more” is the death knell for an awful lot of meals at the moment).

On Monday I made a beef pie with the remains of the roast beef and gravy from Sunday lunch that Dad had cooked. It was nice, but both Hubby and I thought it would have been improved by the addition of an onion and some mushrooms. With Mini and Maxi being fussy about both (OK, they won’t eat them!) I didn’t even suggest adding them. I did, however, decide to cheer up the top and make it obvious what had been made for lunch:

Pie

Pie!

 

Over the weekend I have also been sewing. Since I have done so many hexies now, but haven’t started sewing them together, I decided to have a go at a mini project which I could aim to finish soon – a Flower Garden Pincushion . I got the kit from Sew & Quilt when I ordered my latest lot of hexie blanks. I also ordered some of the Tulip Hiroshima piecing needles that Jessie sells, just to see how I found them compared to my usual John James quilting needles. Jessie has also been really helpful asnwering a load of questions I had about thread, despite them being about a quilt top totally unrelated to the EPP things she sells. So far, I have basted all the tiny little hexies needed for the pincushion, and sewn the first 7 together. They are really pretty, but oh so tiny (half inch, compared to my usual 1 inch). My aim is to finish piecing and to quilt it by the weekend if I can…

Hexie flower pincushion centre

Centre flower for pincushion

I have a whole truckload of other makes and bakes to tell you about, including several presents, and at least 1 recipe for a cake. They will be in future posts (as soon as I finish them…)

And as for Ends….well, my job has finished. For a variety of reasons I left at the end of this half term. I could have finished at Easter and been paid to the end of April, but I decided the extra money was worth the extra weeks. I have had a difficult few half terms, especially the last couple, mainly resulting from huge anxiety issues which have nearly overwhelmed me. I have yet to decide whether to blog about those. It may help, it may not. Suffice to say, that I have been really lucky to have the support of our local GPs and my Health Visitor. And leaving the job means I no longer have a difficult commute which was increasingly taking me away from my children. I have regrets. There are colleagues I will miss terribly, and some of the classes I taught and lots of the kids. I loved doing the shows. Loved the space I taught in.

But it was time to end and to move on. An end after nearly 12 years, and an end to the commute. Hopefully this means more time for making as well as more time with my wonderful children and husband.

 

And the other Ends? Well, they get posts of their own 😊

DP Challenge: Optimistic

In response to the DP Challenge: Optimistic

RSPB Rainham, hubby, Maxi Mister

Hubby and Maxi Mister on the boardwalk at Rainham Marshes. The RSPB building is the odd-looking structure behind them on the left. Looks odd, but gives amazing views!

Last time we attempted to walk round the loop at RSPB Rainham Marshes on New Year’s Day, we had to give up due to the utterly appalling weather. We made an optimistic start this year as it wasn’t blowing a gale or below zero, and finally made it round. It is lovely walking here, even when the weather is a bit grey.

DP Challenge: Alphabet

In response to the DP Challenge: Alphabet

Phonics practise, DP Challenge

Phonics practise on a magnetic sketch board

 

I was a little stumped with this. I have pictures of letters hubby made for Maxi Mister from Lego. I have appliquéd letters, made sugarpaste letters, played with letter flashcards with Maxi, packed away somewhere a whole set of Duplo letters, embroidered an alphabet sampler for my cousin (many, many years ago). But apparently have no pictorial record of any that I haven’t already shared.

 

Then Maxi informed us he was bored with drawing on his magnetic sketch board. So he started writing his phonics blends from this last week. As you do. We discussed words to go with them. And then I had a lightbulb moment: Phonics go with Alphabet.  Photo sorted!

We discussed the meaning of gait as he didn’t know it was different to a gate (he does now), and I am not totally convinced that they have actually done ae (I think it is more likely to be a_e), but he insisted they have.

Words are: day, gait, who, what, toy, noise, aerial