The Return of the Long Lost Blogger, or Why my head has Stopped me doing Stuff

I keep saying it. I will blog more frequently. I will. Here is a fresh new start. There are going to be lots of posts that I have accrued. It will be regular. I will be a good blogger.

And then it doesn’t happen.

It isn’t just the procrastinator in me. I have struggled for months and months now (stretching into years) to actually do anything. I mean, I eat (too much), I sleep (not enough), I go to work, I look after the kids, I do the housework (sometimes…mostly), I breathe, I exist. But that is it.

I think that actually is the crux of it. I exist. Sometimes I wish I didn’t, but mostly I do. But I have found it more and more difficult to do anything else. You know. The stuff that cheers you up, that you enjoy, that relaxes you, that fulfils you, that destresses you, that you want to do!

I sit. I think. I plan. I pick up things. But I do not do. Or if I manage to start, I stop almost as soon as I have started.

And I don’t know why.

That, I think, makes more even more sad than not doing stuff. The only thing I seem able to do for any length of time is to play mindless games on my tablet. Probably because they are mindless.

Last month, I realised that I could not remember when I had last read a book (other than stories to Maxi and Mini). Now, I love books. You know I do. I have mentioned this before. I store books rather than throw them out. My Kindle is rammed with books. But I hadn’t read for pleasure, for me, for I don’t know how long. It made me want to cry (I struggle with that as well at the moment, I think due to my changed medication). So, as I had something I had to do, although I can’t remember what but possibly planning for school, I decided to put on my long-neglected audio version of Jane Eyre. I bought it last summer to accompany me whilst I sewed quilt binding, but I hadn’t finished it. It was sitting there on Audible on my tablet, gathering dust. So I put it on. I think I managed 2 chapters in the time I had. But it was lovely. I enjoyed it. And then it made me sad because I hadn’t read in so long. I still haven’t read anything, but I have slowly made my way a bit further through the audio book. I need to do it more often really.

Picklepiemama audiobook

My first audiobook. Which I still haven’t finished!

But I still struggle with doing other stuff. The quilting has been neglected. So too has any other sewing (including Maxi’s Cubs badges which had to be sewn on in a hurry the other week as he needed them on his uniform before Camp), or baking, or anything else creative that I usually love. And I did start running last year. It fell by the wayside in the Autumn, but I tried again in January with RED January for Mind. Then I got flu. I have only run once since then.

Picklepiemama running

The only time I have run since the middle of January

I managed to make some bags as presents for my sisters (and the trial version for me). Then stopped again. Then I got my bum in gear and made some headphone/earbud pockets. I must admit I have got a bit obsessed with the lovely patterns produced by Erin of Dog Under My Desk, so I have some more bits ready to start on. More earbud pockets, a bag from a challenge given to bloggers for the UKQU website (I missed the challenge deadline ages ago, but I am still going to make the bag), and a wallet. Planning a quilt for our quilt group’s 5th anniversary. And a stupidly fiddly miniature quilt, which I designed and planned, and have been regretting it ever since, but I am not going to give up now! And all the many, many blog posts which are still almost fully formed, but still in my head.

Picklepiemama 2ZH bags DUMD

2ZH Bags and matching wristlets. Mine is in the middle.

Picklepiemama manchester tart

Manchester tart. One of the few bits of baking I have done.

Picklepiemama miniature FPP

Foundation piecing on a miniature scale. This is one section of the first block. The 50p is for comparison.

But I am still finding it so hard to get going. I finally have a counselling appointment for my obsessional phobia issue and my OCD today. I have been waiting since final referral last November! My original referral was in February 2017. At least I have seen a psychiatrist twice since November. Maybe this appointment will help. Although I am so scared about it. I need to confront my obsession. I want to confront it. But I don’t. I can’t stay like this though. In limbo. Maybe I can finally get rid of the mental lethargy which plagues me.

We shall see 🙂

 

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Sneaky peak…

…at what I have been up to during my (unintentional) extended absence.
What do you think it is?


All will be revealed…

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 😊

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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! 😊

 

 

Pratchett-a-thon 2

Moving Pictures book

Current read

I thought I would take the opportunity of both Mini and Maxi being occupied with painting and drawing to update you as to how my Pratchett-a-thon is going. Especially as I think I may need a break for something else for a bit (or it could just be that I am not that enamoured with the current or previous books). I have managed to read almost every day for the last 6 weeks, which is a change for me. Granted that sometimes it has been 5 minutes before I fell asleep at night, but at least I am reading (not so easy when you have 2 small children).

I have worked my way methodically through the first lot of books, enjoying again the adventures and escapades of Rincewind,  Twoflower, The Luggage, Granny Weatherwax,  Nanny Ogg, Magrat Garlick, Mort,  Death, Teppic, and many others. What a wonderful array of names! I even dug out my copy of the Map of Discworld to check out where some of the story locations are in relation to each other.

Pratchett aficionados may notice a glaring absence of one set of characters from the above list; namely the guards of the City Nightwatch. It isn’t that I don’t love them, but I found rereading their first dedicated book, Guards! Guards!, required more effort than I expected. I am not really sure why, but am having the same issue with Moving Pictures, and I don’t recall having felt like this previously. Maybe, as I said earlier, I need a break for a few days and to read something else entirely…

Anyway, I have now read the following:

The Colour of Magic

The Light Fantastic

Equal Rites

Mort

Sourcery

Wyrd Sisters

Pyramids

Guards! Guards!

Moving Pictures (current read)

I have had to miss out Eric as I discovered, for some random reason, that I don’t have a copy. I have definitely read it before, so must have borrowed a copy. No idea why I didn’t buy it, but it is currently winging it’s way to me via Amazon Prime.

Oh, and I have finally caught up on watching the Sky adaptations of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, and watched the first half of Hogfather  (must finish that soon). I have had the DVDs for years. Oops!

I am also trying to work out how to make a cake version of The Luggage. Watch this space…😊

‘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.

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Can’t wait for next year! 😊