Friday, 28 November 2014

Black 'muddy' Friday

I hope that you like my new jolly cheerful cover photo? I thought it cheered up my blog on this rather dreary 'Black Friday'.
Did you get caught up in the shopping urge or were you able to resist the strong temptation to spend for the sake of it?
I have to say that despite my desire to remain free from the pressures to shop and spend unnecessarily, the temptation was somehow still there. Every time I looked at the T.V or turned on my computer, the ads burst out of the screen at me......'If you don't spend today.....ooooohhhh your shopping will cost more....SPEND SPEND SPEND' Well, NO! I wasn't having any of it. So what!! I will not be pressured into buying for the sake of it...I shall wait and buy any Christmas gifts that aren't home made, when I am good and ready. Hhhhuuummmmppppphhh!!!

I didn't really have any plans for today other than chilling (quite literally) and snuggling at home. We've had  a busy week doing this that and the other and quite frankly sometimes one just needs to rest! I did feel a little guilty when my dear sister called late morning and I had to admit to my moment of mere existence sipping hot tea whilst rippling way, quite content, with my ripple blanket. It's coming along quite nicely although the worry of how to fold the thing now that I have committed to it being full on 'wonky', is starting to play on my mind. A lesson to be learnt from, my fellow inspired ripplers...undo at the first sign of non conformity!
It is lovely to have moments where you can just do that. So relaxing and good for the soul.

The children seem to be inside most of the time now that the weather has changed. Occasionally they'll bob out for a moment or two to whizz around the green on their bikes but mostly they are content busying themselves within the home. Quite a contrast from that of the Summer months where the door of the house is constantly open and children just seem to flow through en route from the front garden to the back. Now the door remains closed as much as possible, the poor dog has even been shut in it on several occasions as we try to keep the heat in.
Much time is spent in our house crafting. Miss P especially likes making and creating wonderful things. The Little ones aren't so keen on crafting although they do like to create in their own way. We're currently still very much in the throws of the 'den' stage, you know that terribly annoying phase of life that all children go through at some point where by they remove every cushion from every chair and sofa, along with the entire blanket stash along side the small portable furniture....anything from dining chairs, small tables, stools, even lamps! They all end up as part of the construction of what can only be described as 'a mass shamble' that generally takes over an entire room making it near on impossible to move through or around it.
Can anyone else relate to this?

Mostly they hijack the sitting room but just occasionally they relocate into the kitchen area....that causes the most havoc. Those moments when you have to bottom shuffle along the worktops to retrieve things from the opposite side of the kitchen to which you have almost become confined. Oh the joys!!! Then is the arduous task of trying to encourage the little beavers to tidy away....hmmmm, still working on perfecting that!!

We may well have stayed at home all day today had some lovely friends not suggested that we potter off for a little stroll and make the most of the tiny window of clear weather. We've recently started a Scouting Explorers group to enable our teenagers to complete their Duke of Edinburgh awards. As they need to be able to effectively read and follow a map and work out compass bearings, a stroll in the country seemed the perfect excuse to check out our own skills. Of course, on the theme of 'Black Friday' a certain member of MY family unit decided to create his own 'Black Friday'...well brown,....unfortunately for the poor dog she also got caught up in the excitement. It's really quite amazing how a huge jump in a muddy puddle causes an instant surge from the base of all the thick sludge which in turn rotates within the water and seems to quite literally erupt from the depths of its core and cover everyone within a five metre radius...funny that!!
I'm always amazed at how children seem to naturally gravitate towards anything remotely messy. I used to bubble inside with anxiety as they moved towards such delights but now, many years into my parenting journey, I have learnt to just go with the flow and let things wash over me (sometimes in a literal sense). If we go out and end up with a child soaking wet or covered from head to foot in mud or be it. Thank goodness for washing machines is all I can say :-)

Anyone else like these little babies?

They look a lot like Pink Fir Apple potatoes....
If you haven't come across them before these little knobbly treasures are in fact Jerusalem artichokes. They are really easy to grown and produce a prolific crop. We bought these tasty specimens from the wonderful weekly farmers market in Stroud in Gloucestershire. It's a fab little event that meanders all the way up the quaint little high street. What's great about this market is firstly the vast array of superb stalls (all manned by the growers and producers themselves) and secondly the fact that there is no exclusive feel to the place. The produce is realistically priced and affordable and the sellers are enthusiastic and keen to talk to you. It gives you a real sense of connection.
Anyway back to the our house we love the little darlings. They can be chopped and popped into salads, I guess they could be fried up in a stir fry or boiled into a stew, but in our home they are most commonly destined for the pot to make soup. 'Windy bottom soup'.

I cannot imagine what the seller thought when the children shared their intentions with her, although I could see that she knew where we were coming from. They do come with a health warning as they cause flatulence of the worst kind. BE WARNED!!
On that note....have a lovely weekend :-)

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Life is for living

Today is the third anniversary of the sudden departure from earth side of my wonderful husband/best friend/father of my children and my true soul mate.  

Three years living as a family of four.

Three years as the sole provider and single responsible parent of my three children.

Three years of rebuilding our lives yet at the same time trying to live as 'normally' as possible.

Three years of waking and realising that my worst nightmares are in fact reality.

Three years of trying to piece together the pieces of the puzzle that will never be complete.

But life does move on......the pain is there but is less intense....... you never forget!

Loved ones past remain in your memories forever, they continue to influence the way you live your life, they grow in the children whom they bore. 

Love remains in every living cell of your body. Old memories give you the strength to move on and make new memories.

I do not dwell on the past but use it as a series of lessons for the future. 

Life is for living......

Live it well XXX

These arrived and surprised me today....I actually thought I had a secret admirer :-).....they were from my lovely friend Sarah who has helped me walk my path. Aren't they beautiful X

Friday, 21 November 2014

Winter warmers

What a strange week I've had. I started the week with a dreaded cold. I was long overdue my share of the horrid nose clogging virus having gone virtually the whole year without so much as a sniffle and wham did it hit me hard. I'm not good when I become ill. Mainly because I simply don't have time to be unwell. Sometimes I think nature has other ideas, perhaps it's a way of making you stop and pause for  a moments breath.
I was most annoyed this week as having not danced for seven weeks I was planning on attending my weekly fun filled dance class with Jive + for a 'dips and drops' workshop, I had my parents lined up to child sit and everything! First thing Monday I woke with a stuffed up nose which resulted in no taste or smell. I guess Monday was peak day. I had hoped that with a little of my daily activity I'd recover by the evening, but no....not to be. Jive is a partner dance so you do have to consider your fellow partners when deciding whether to go or not to go along and a red snotty nose isn't the most attractive look!
Some how making the decision not to go lifted a huge weight from my shoulders. I could stay home, light the fire and do a little more of my ripple blanket.
It's horrid being ill at the best of times but when you're a singleton it somehow seems worse. It's times like this when I really miss having someone around to care for me and well just take the reins and let me rest. I don't really get much breathing space at all especially with the children at home full time (my choice I know). Luckily Miss P stayed with a friend Monday night and the little lady had a play date and was to be dropped home so it was just the Small Boy and I to worry about. We built the fire together and sat making paper aeroplanes for good part of the afternoon. It's a joy when you just have one to give your attention to.
When all were safely in and after an hour or so of 'rippling' I turned in for an early night.......

Woke up feeling MUCH better....the morning sunshine was beaming in through the window and I was recharged with a new sense of positivity. Being single is fine when you're well :-)
Enthusiastically woke the house and rushed the Little People out for a country walk with friends.
We went along to Swinbrook near Burford for a walk through the fields to the little church at Widford. We first visited St Oswald's church last year. It's a rather enchanting little place and on this fine morning it provided an opportunity for a run/brisk walk with the sun's warmth beaming down on us. It's lovely to have time to meander at leisure and that we did. Little Jenny dog came along too and was most pleased to have been invited when so often we leave her at home. The children ran ahead with their friends stopping mid field to dam the little stream that ran through it.

Once in the church the children quickly became engaged in role play imagining the box pews were their houses, they spent over an hour creating their imaginary homes. I quickly refreshed my mind with the history of the place then trundled back outside to enjoy the late morning sun.....arrr just what I needed!

Once home, Small Boy and I took full advantage of the decent weather and cleared the garden of leaves, packed the garden furniture away for the Winter and built a den.......

Today my sense of taste and smell has returned to normality, what a relief! It's the Into Film festival this week and last so we dashed off to Banbury first thing to see Coroline. I was really proud of myself for arriving on time, with time to spare. I realised when we couldn't actually open the cinema door that I was in fact 24 hours late!! Time suddenly became a thing of leisure and having paid for  couple of hours of parking it was a shame not to take a stroll into town. We always feel out of place visiting towns during school hours........
This evening the need arose for some loveliness.......

Yummy vegetable stew with cheese scones, heart shaped and made with love of course :-)

The Little Lady made gingerbread people for afters, love those warm spices...

Oh and I purchased a set of battery operated fairy lights to well......

....bring a bit of enchantment to the stairwell :-)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Rippling along......

For the past few years at this time, I seem to develop an urge to create something woolly and warming. Last year my urge came towards the end of the Summer when I had that need to knit some lovely toasty wrist warmers. I read somewhere that they were to be a 'fashion essential' last Winter. It always seems strange when something I have been doing for years previously seems to hit on. Fashion!!! PPPfffttt.....
Anyway, I made myself a lovely cream pair and would you believe it, my predications for very cold Winter were totally wrong and I didn't even have the need to wear them.
This year my little woolly urge has been edging towards creating a large crocheted blanket. I have been inspired by the lovely Lucy at Attic 24. Lucy inspired me way back with her wonderful world of colour and her chirpy uplifting blog. At a time in life where everything seemed rather dull and grey, adding an element of colour to my life brought new hope and inspired happiness to bloom. It also encouraged me to get my butt into gear and learn to crochet. It's really rather simple when you get shown how (check out You Tube tutorials) and I've created many litre treasures as a result. Actually thinking back I had experimented with crochet some time back. I had a few (dare I mention??) comical disasters, including the rectangle trial piece that turned out coffin shaped and the circular place mat that would have been more suited as a 'willy tip warmer'....(well I'm being honest!!), I also attempted (rather ambitiously) a blanket back then, but gave up after  making a piece about a metre long by five centimetres wasn't wasted and became a bag handle :-)

So I've been inspired to crochet Lucy's Ripple Blanket. I popped into my beloved Mason's today and fiddled around with the different colours of yarn and after joining the queue about three times and backing out with moments of doubt, I bit the bullet and bought the fifteen balls needed to complete the project. So now I have to do it right?!! Otherwise that is another stash/hoard that I will have squirrelled....not good in relation to my intention to clear out!

So Saturday evening I looked at the fifteen balls of lovely Autumnal yarn I purchased, I even arranged them in a basket so that I could admire their beauty. Yes I know 'Bonkers!!' Well it gave me a moment or two of divine visual pleasure. A moment to dream about how amazing this new creation will be when it is finished and admired by visitors. How it will become a family heirloom that will join us on picnics and be fought over in the car......arrrrr drrrreeeeaaaaammmmm......

Sunday night, I laid out the balls and fiddled around with their order. Hmmmm there's quite a lot of pressure at this point. If you don't combine the colours in a decent and delicious order, the finished something can look awful. I made a flowery cushion a year or so ago and combined the colours in a terrible way and , well...after hours of work it remains hidden behind the sofa!
Starting these big projects is always the hardest part. The initial first rows seem to take forever they really do. So after much deliberation and hesitation over whether to actually go ahead and make a ripple blanket or another design and after many texts to a friend who I rightly guessed had also tackled the same blanket, I commenced.

I tinkered about and experimented with just a short stretch of the pattern to see whether I could actually achieve the desired design (thumbs up there :-)) ....

So all set and go.......
First night in and the first two rows and single band of colour are complete...arrrr I'm off.....just another fifty or so rows to go (at least). Might be finished by Christmas :-)

One week later........

A week has passed and I've been rippling away happily with my blanket. The thing I like about a project like this is that it actually becomes a part of your life during the period that you are working on it. At the moment it fits nicely in my bag but I'm imagining that it won't be long before it's going to require a large bag all of its little own. One thing that is becoming very apparent is that I must have made a mistake on the first couple of rows....that is a serious bummer because it's not going to be anywhere near perfect as a result and not as pleasing to the eye. I did contemplate undoing it all as any good knitter or crocheter would do and starting all over again but by the time the mistake was noted I had been rippling away for hours and is too short! This one will be a ripple blanket with a wonk! It will have character and be totally unique. Besides, no one will notice once they are snuggled up with it on the sofa :-)

I apologise in advance if you do not share my enthusiasm for this project but I'm afraid I shall be keeping you posted on my progress regardless :-)   

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Autumn snuggling

Well folks, it looks like Summer has finally come to an end and Autumn has been thrust upon us. It's freezing in my little cottage. I have even resorted to turning the heating on! Having lived in cold little holes for so many years now, you learn to tune into the seasons and the properties themselves. Each of the eight houses I have called home since leaving 'the home' have had their own little quirks. You learn how to maximise the heat and beat the draughts at the right time. Not too much heat too early for fear of freezing when it really gets cold. So thermostat set at 17 degrees and clothing layers on. I've lit the fire a few times to take the chill off. You can't beat a roaring fire on a cold dark evening, we live by the hearth in the Winter :-) Actually when my babies were little we literally did that. Much of the day would centre around 'life by the hearth'. Of course now that the small people are no longer so still or small and have developed worlds of their owns, they tend to wander off and potter about in other areas. There's still a draw though on chilly dark evenings when that fire is blazing. Blankets and snugly clothes come to view and the board games come out on the fireside rug. Mmmmmmmmmm :-)....fireside cosiness. We've even roasted a few chestnuts on our shovel already, how good to they taste!

So far November seems to have been a time of clearing out. I wouldn't normally think of Autumn as a time for squirrelling but this year although I have squirrelled a fair few walnuts for the coming year, I am intent on banishing the old and unused and clearing my space.
Since my crazy shoe buying stunt at the beginning of the year my home has seemed really rather cluttered. Initially all 900 pairs started off in one room but since then many have sold but many still remain and they seem to have spread themselves into all the little nooks and crannies of the house in a desperate ploy to make better use of the space. I have been sorting out my little dining room which has become known as 'the shoe room/common dumping ground' for the past ten months. Now that sewing seems to have evolved into my source of income I figured it would be a sensible idea to base all of my sewing related things into one area and perhaps use it as a workroom too. Of course good intentions are all good and well but putting plans into action is another matter. Let's say it's 'a work in progress!' Watch this space.....

I've also been clearing the field at the back of our house with the intention of creating some sort of 'paradise garden'....well perhaps just a usable space!!
We have a good sized piece of land behind the four cottages in our row that would have been the communal vegetable garden once upon a time. It's been practically abandoned in recent years apart from some mowed paths being created by my lovely neighbours. Not surprising really due to the busy lifestyles that folk have created and the readily available produce available to buy from the supermarket these days. I adopted a couple of tiny patches this year and created a mini vegetable patch, not a 'patch' on those from my previous life but enough to give us a sense of care and nurture and a couple of mouthfuls of veg too :-) year......wait for new year.........Of course I say that, but it's tough to be motivated when you're going it alone. Ease does tend to take precedence unfortunately.
Enough of sounding neighbour and I made a start last week and removed a good twenty sucker trees to clear some space and allow existing trees some space to bloom. It's amazing what you can achieve in an afternoons work when you put your mine to it. The space looks totally different. The following day another kind friend offered her help and between us we removed all the small branches from the suckers and cleared the mess and are now left with a number of very usable stakes. They will come in useful when I get around to creating a hazel screen to hide my unsightly oil tank. I do love hard work :-)

It occurred to me last Saturday night that fireworks have a 'clearing out' effect too. They whizz off into space, explode with a bang and leave a silence in the air...well momentarily anyway.

I wonder if anyone else is sensing the need to clear out?

Ed note: Sorry for the recent lack of photos, can't seem to sync my camera and upload....grrr any help appreciated :-)