Sunday, 24 May 2020

Crafting for Therapy

Hello! Everyone alright? It's been a long week here. Nothing major, just a weariness with the current situation, and a niggling anxiety always at the back of our minds. I may or may not return to work (I am a primary teaching assistant) full time after half term, we are not sure; John may return to work in three weeks, or six, or nine, no-one knows; Angus (Y6) might go back to school after half term...or he might not. It's not anyone's fault, not our employer's fault, it's just the huge uncertainty hanging over our whole lives at the moment. We went into this lockdown with a fair amount of motivation and I think that, on the whole, it's been a positive - if surreal - experience, but we all found ourselves listless last week, thoroughly fed up with homeschool, and unable to muster even the motivation to cook dinner. Of course I know that we are not alone, but that doesn't make the uncertainty any easier. Also, it sunk in this week that we almost certainly won't be going on holiday to France in August - I had been holding out the tiniest bit of hope that we would - or to London in June, or anywhere fun at anytime for that matter. But these are first world problems. The main thing is that we are all safe and well and that is all that matters really. 

One thing that has truly kept me mentally balanced and feeling calmer over the last week has been working on my Lockdown Sampler. I am still sewing a little motif each day, one for each letter of the alphabet, and the hour or two that I get to sit and sew is hugely good for me. I had got up to I when I last showed you my progress, and J had to be for jigsaws. I love a jigsaw - I normally associate them with those blissful days between Christmas and New Year - but it's been lovely to have time to work on a couple over the last few weeks.

K is for key workers. I nearly sewed a key, and was going to save rainbow for R, but I wanted to include something else for the letter R and so there had to be a bit of jiggling around. I think a lot of other countries also do something similar, but in the UK many people have been displaying rainbows in their windows at the front of their houses, often drawn by the children living there - to express their thanks to the key workers who have to go to work at the moment whether they want to or not. The rainbows are also a lovely thing to look out for when walking around your local area - Bella and I like to count them on our dog walks. Also, this was a complete joy to sew as I'm sure you can imagine!

L is for lockdown, and I struggled to think of the best way to represent this (padlock?) but then I remembered the social media sticker people have been using a lot on Instagram and Facebook to highlight the "stay home" message throughout lockdown. It was challenging to sew but I did really enjoy it.

M is for Making, a bit of a catch-all word for all the creative activities that have kept me sane and happy during this time, including crafting and especially crochet and sewing. A ball of yarn seemed the best way to sum this up.

N was very nearly for the NHS, but I had already doing "clapping" for C and and key workers for K, so I had to think again. I decided to do the news, something I've developed a bit of a love/hate relationship with lately. I hardly ever watch the news on TV but have Radio 4 on most of the time, and will spend a few days listening to it and taking it all in, then I reach saturation point and have to have a few days off for the sake of my peace of mind. 

O is for outside. The fact that this lockdown has happened during spring, and not in the dark depths of winter, has made it so much easier to bear, especially while the evenings are so light at the moment. Knowing that the seasons are still turning outside gives me hope.

P is for pasta, something of a staple food in this house, and apparently everywhere else too, as it was one of those foods like flour and tinned tomatoes that everyone stockpiled at the start of lockdown. A plate of spaghetti bolognese was a fun way to represent it.

Q is for quilting. I have loved working on my patchwork quilt over the last few months. The benefit of quieter days than usual is that I don't spend my evenings catching up with housework, chores and admin as I usually would, leaving a bit more time for TV watching and sewing my hexagons.

R is for reading. Again, the benefit of slower days means more time to read in bed as I do't have to be up at 6 am for work. We have all read a lot over the last few weeks and it's been a luxury I've relished. Once I'd decided to sew book spines, I straight away thought of the iconic Penguin publishers graphic design, and had a lot of fun sewing these. To give you an idea of scale, these books are 23 mm wide by 21 mm high.

And finally S is for Sourdough. It's become one of those lockdown jokes that everyone's making sourdough now, but in my defence I was making it before, although I've enjoyed improving my starter and loaves lately. I think this may look more like a beehive than a loaf of bread (I was trying to sew those little grooves that the proving banneton leaves behind) but if you squint and don't look too closely I'm sure it's ok.

All of which takes me up to today, and T. I had better get sewing.

Wishing you all a happy bank holiday weekend and week ahead. 

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Bunting and Cake

Thank you so much for your comments on my embroidery sampler, and all your brilliant suggestions on what I could sew for the letters O and U. So many good suggestions! Thank you.

There has been lots of good stuff to celebrate round here over the last couple of weeks. It's been a lovely and much needed distraction from lockdown and home school.

Last week Angus turned eleven. I was really worried that being in lockdown was going to make for the worst birthday ever but actually, I think he had a really good day.

We cancelled home school for the day which instantly made him delighted. Seriously, I think that may have been his best present.

(You may notice a theme to his gifts...)

He requested French Toast for his birthday breakfast....

and peppermint Oreo brownies for his cake, which was very easy and pleased me greatly. I used this recipe, leaving out the nuts and scattering a packet of broken up Oreo biscuits over the batter before it goes into the oven.

We had a Zoom birthday party with family near and far and all sung happy birthday to him. His best friend dropped round a present and card and they had a socially-distanced doorstep chat, as did I and his mum. He requested a takeaway pizza for a birthday tea and overall it was a really nice, chilled out day, and didn't feel in any way sad or depressing. We've talked about possibly having a party in the summer when lockdown is lifted. 

We didn't do anything big for the 75th anniversary of VE Day, but celebrated it in our own quiet fashion. Bella and Angus made bunting and we had a cream tea in the garden.

Our scones didn't rise much but they had the lightest texture, I will definitely make them again. 

 The weather was gorgeous for most of that weekend, warm enough to hang out in the garden all day and have a barbecue.

Angus was invested into the Scouts via, you guessed it, Zoom. He was really shy and proud, it was so sweet. Do excuse the haircut though please - it's a home special. He's now sporting a grade 4 all over. The lack of access to hairdressers has proven to be one of the most unexpectedly stressful aspects of lockdown.

I planted out my sweet peas - all grown from seed! At the moment they look very weak and pathetic but I'm hoping they will be ok.

The pink and white ranunculus are coming along nicely.

I also moved my tomatoes out of the cold frame and into bigger pots on the decking. I now need to research what to do with tomatoes - something about pinching the tips?

I always think the garden looks prettiest in May, largely because the two big rhododendron bushes come into flower.

The bees absolutely love them.

My pile of EPP hexies is slowly growing. I have around 500 now; these are all my colourful ones and I have a box of white, grey and cream. I think I might start sewing some together soon.

I've started treating myself to a bunch of flowers when it's my turn to do the food shopping. Usually it's a £5 bunch of tulips but yesterday they had peonies which I couldn't resist. I can't wait to watch them open up.

My sampler is bringing me so much joy every day. I love thinking about each letter and trying to pick something just right.

I'll do another post soon with lots more photos and details but I thought you might like to see where I am so far.

Have a fabulous week everyone. Stay safe.