Sunday, 9 August 2020

A Burst of Summer Creativity

Bella, Angus and I still write a list of things we want to do over the summer holidays. Mine will often include jobs around the house and craft projects I want to complete. Angus's is often a wish including visits to all local fast food outlets, a day trip to London, picnic on the beach...eating features heavily. This summer, Bella's included tie dyeing some clothes. She has been watching lots of TikTok videos of rainbow tie dye but I didn't realise it had to be rainbow so just bought a sachet of Dylon hand dye in Vintage Blue.
We had a lot of fun wrapping and rolling our clothes into different patterns. We did a couple of spirals and a couple with evenly spaced elastic bands to create wobbly stripes.

Bella was over the moon with her hoodie (a hand me down from me, I bought it about ten years ago and never wear it) and t-shirt. We also dyed Angus's NASA t-shirt and he really likes how it came out. We are going to do some rainbow tie dye later in the holidays with the cousins - we can spread the cost of the rainbow dye set between us all - I might have to find a couple more plain white t-shirts though. 

I took part in a little tie dyeing too, using an old white t-shirt of John's which had shrunk. I cut off the arms and collar and sewed blanket stitch around the raw edges. I am planning on adding some crochet edging to the blanket stitch. I have no idea what I'm doing here but I haven't lost anything if it all goes wrong.

I had a sudden burst of enthusiasm and organisation recently and got my crochet projects sorted. I printed out the patterns I'd bought and downloaded, searched my stash for or ordered the right yarn, and then put it all in little project bags so they're ready to go for when I have a moment. My first one is a small commission, a baby blanket like this one I made

I ordered more cotton yarn to make another t-shirt, although this time I will alter the sizing slightly to take into account my height.
I had this rust sock-weight yarn leftover from jumper so I bought a couple more balls in off white to make these socks.
And finally, I bought some tubular yarn to crochet this bag.
These projects will probably take me right up to Christmas and beyond, which is fine (finally I am learning that there is no rush!) but there is something pleasing about seeing them all ready to go.

I also bought a little more wool DK yarn and a round cushion pad and have vague ideas about crocheting a cushion cover because I've been re-arranging furniture and have decided that a new cushion is essential. 

In our hallway, the bench always used to sit by the front door, and the console table has always been closer to the stairs, under the mirror, as below.
I swapped them over, so the bench now lives under the mirror, and love it so much more. I'm sure you'll agree that the bench is just crying out for a small, round, colourful, crocheted cushion...
The hall table is now where the bench was, and I treated myself to a new poster to hang above the table. (The Statue of Liberty tea towel from New York which used to hang there is now hung in the bathroom where it looks fab - I am not ready for it to be used for actual drying up.)
This is the poster. They make the most beautiful individual pressed seaweed prints, too, but I couldn't decide on one and preferred to overall look of the poster. The wooden poster hanger is from Amazon - it's this one.

I am still steadily working on my patchwork quilt. I have now sewn 140 hexagons together (I'm using 3 inch ones) and am starting to get a feel for how it will look. I am loving this project so much, sewing those little fabric shapes together is very soothing and I love the way the pattern slowly builds. 

I feel like the seasons are turning right now. I can see such a shift from high to late summer, in the garden, the hedgerows, the fields. The colour is beginning to fade in the leaves and there are blackberries everywhere.

It's beautiful though. This is one of my favourite times of year, the slow movement of late summer into early autumn. I am determined to make the most of these next weeks before school starts back in September.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Holiday at Home

Hello! Thank you for all your comments on my last cooking post. It fascinates me so much, how different countries cook so differently in style or method, honestly I love it. I don't think at all that one way is better than another though, I think they all have their place and it would be so boring if we all ate the same food all the time. I definitely want to have another go at meatloaf, in a tin perhaps this time, and I quite regularly dream about the chocolate roll with hot fudge sauce - I can see that becoming a family favourite. 

We are two weeks into the school holidays here, and have had a really rather lovely time of it. I was so unsure what this summer would look like, with the social distancing and new rules and regulations, but we've still managed to do nice things, we just haven't gone very far. Luckily the weather has mostly been amazing with hardly any rain at all, and a few really warm, beach days too.

We've had a few walks along our favourite bit of local coast, around Langstone in Chichester harbour. It's so pretty here, I like to come whenever we can. It has a couple of pubs with excellent beer gardens - these places were catering for outside dining long before covid came along - so it's a nice place to go with friends on a warm day. Some of our oldest and best friends from Yorkshire were able to come down and stay with us last weekend and it was just wonderful to see them again.

We wandered around Southsea one wet Monday morning. Between the random shop opening hours and Covid 19, not a lot was open but it was still nice to be somewhere different and have lunch in a little cafe.

After not being able to eat out for so long, we have been making up for it. It's been so nice to go out for breakfast in Chichester and then wander around Waterstones afterwards. Or go over to a nearby shopping centre to get some summer things for the kids then eat in Wagamama afterwards. (Bella always campaigns heavily to eat in Wagamama, it's her favourite place. She always orders ramen, says it's her number one favourite dinner ever, then tells us it's not the same as the ramen she had in New York last summer....)

We all bought a few new books. I bought Everything I Know About Love and The Salt Path as they are book club choices, and I thought I may as well buy them now. By the way, I am currently re-reading Behind The Scenes At The Museum for my August book club and I am absolutely loving it. It's so much better than I remembered. The Shirley Jackson book, Life Among the Savages, was an impulse buy, one of the delights of being able to browse in a bookshop rather than buy online. Likewise Little Library Year, which I spotted in the cookery section. It's a beautiful book; a year of seasonal recipes all inspired by the author's love of literature and food. One of my favourite parts of any book is when they talk about what they're cooking or eating, so this is right up my street.

The start of our school holidays always involves a fair amount of cleaning. I spent a full day deep cleaning the kitchen and roped in a couple of little helpers.

Then, for just a few hours, you have that glow that comes from a scrubbed oven. fingerprint-free cupboard fronts and a freshly cleaned out fridge. It's the best.

A fair bit of nesting and rearranging also occurs at this time, as I move things around and generally faff with pictures and ornaments. It makes me happy.

You may notice a new addition to the family gallery wall above; my lockdown sampler is back from the framers. 

I'm so glad I paid to have it framed professionally - they did a much better job than I ever could have.

My sister Anna and I had lunch out recently at a local tea rooms (I told you we're making up for lost time!) and I had fresh crab sandwiches which were amazing. Then we stopped off at a nearby farm shop where as usual I got carried away and bought fruit, vegetables, plants, cakes and about a kilogram of yogurt coated raisins, something I love. But best of all were the cherries and nectarines. 

We had a really wonderful day at the beach last Friday. The weather was scorching and I went with my other sister, Katy, (Anna was on holiday or we would have dragged her along too) and her children. We went down early with a picnic lunch and it was scorching hot, really nice.

The sea was cold and clear and beautiful and the children had to be dragged out of the water.

I bought myself a new swim suit recently, from Batoko, a company who make all their swim suits from recycled plastic. I think it's the best swim suit I've ever had, it's so comfortable and is cut really well. The older I get, the less I care about how I look in a swim suit. No-one cares - surely there's nicer stuff at the beach to look at than other people, like...the sea? - and I feel it's really important to show Bella and Angus that I am happy and confident in my slightly wobbly 42 year old body, because for the most part I am. 

The garden isn't looking it's best, I won't lie. A combination of lack of rain and the fact that it's August means that it's all looking a bit parched and dusty out there. When John cut the grass the other day it seemed like it was more dust than grass cuttings.

There are little pockets of loveliness here and there though, like my roses and sweet peas, which have finally woken up and started to grow and bloom.

I'm on daily tomato watch and there are loads of them. I am very excited for possibly not one but two salads! There may even be enough for a jar of chutney.