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 😊

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! 😊

 

 

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.

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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

#BEDN – Not what it was supposed to be…

There’s no love more intense than the love we have for our kids — and where there is intense love, there is also intense fear lurking beneath the surface. I’m making motherhood sound so appealing, aren’t I?

But, in fact, there is nothing that can bring you closer to fearlessness about everything else in the world than being a parent — because everyday fears — like not being approved of — pale by comparison to the fears you have about your children.

Arianna Huffington in The Washington Post

A quote which sums up the last day or so for me. This is a short post, and one which doesn’t match the BEDN topic for today, but we are all very tired and need some sleep.

Mini Mister is home. He has a viral chest infection and has spent the last 24 hours being given steroids and a nebuliser or inhaler frequently. His temperature is more under control, his breathing is better and he is coughing much less. We have to do 3-hourly sessions with the inhaler, which is a nightmare as he is terrified of the spacer mask on his face. 10 puffs each time. But it is working.

We are so lucky to have been able to get him treated quickly and well. We are thankful for the receptionist at the GP surgery who gave me an appointment even though I phoned at the wrong time, the GP who decided it wasn’t worth the risk waiting until Monday to see if he would improve, the overstretched paediatric A&E who eventually saw him and moved him through to the Assessment Unit, the nurses who did his obs and cared for him all night and day, the consultants and doctors who checked him over and didn’t rush to get him out because they needed the beds (the childrens’ wards were full), the fact that we have free health care which despite all its issues and detractors, still looks after and cares and mends us and our children.

Thank you to all of them for caring! 😊

#BEDN – Friday Night

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Perhaps the worst decorated cake ever, but it is the flavour that Maxi Mister requested. I will make him the decorations he wanted when Mini Mister is better.

This isn’t the Friday night I expected to have. It is Maxi Mister’s birthday and I was expecting to be sat reminiscing with hubby, celebrating the wonderful little boy we have been blessed with.

We aren’t doing that. We are not even in the same town/village, let alone the same building or room. I am sat on the sofa alone. Maxi Mister is fast asleep upstairs. Hubby is with Mini Mister at the ‘local’ paediatric A&E. They have been there for 3 hours nearly. I wish I knew what was happening.

Mini seemed to have come down with a cold, coupled with teething, and has had a temperature on and off since Tuesday. He coughs a lot, and has a sore throat – at least, I am assuming so because he cries when he is trying to eat or even have his milk. He has been wheezy too, but we weren’t sure if it was from his chest or nose.

Thankfully I managed to get him a late appointment with the GP this evening. He gave Mini a nebulizer, but there was little improvement, so he said we should take him to A&E to get checked out. He thinks it is a viral chest infection, but he is too wheezy. As it is the weekend, he didn’t want it left, as small children can go downhill very quickly. Mini is obviously not the only child being sent in because of the weekend, as A&E is heaving.

So on Friday Night, here I sit, waiting for the time Maxi was born, waiting to celebrate, waiting to talk to hubby, waiting to find out what is wrong with Mini, waiting for him to come home.