It's all been going on here, the big and the little. I blinked and both our children appear to have left primary school. Here he is, after his school "Oscars", clutching his trophy for "Biggest Daydreamer" (spot on, I thought) which consists of the school mug stuffed full of sweets. He was beaming and so proud of himself. This year has not been easy for children (or adults too, for that matter) and I have been so thankful that he was able to return to school for the last six weeks of term. It made such a difference with how ready he feels to go to secondary school in September.
We celebrated with a meal out at the kids' favourite burger place, 7Bone, which was our first meal out since February. Their safety measures and social distancing were brilliant, not that I was overly worried about that. I was more concerned about having my temperature taken upon entering and finding that it was too high and we wouldn't be allowed in, but fortunately nothing came between us and our dirty fries.
I finished school a couple of days later, on Wednesday, and it was a strange old week at work. I work in a pretty tight-knit school with a team that rub along pretty well together, but with Covid, and the lack of children, plus a few staff members leaving - it just all felt a bit sad. This was probably compounded by me handing in my notice from my role as Teaching Assistant, as I'm going back to university in September to do Teacher Training. I swing between excitement and terror, mostly terror if I'm honest, but the flowers and cupcakes did help.
Ziggy turned three. We bought him a stupidly big bone and called him Birthday Boy all day long.
He wore himself out, as you can see.
In house news, we painted out front door. I have never liked our uPVC front door which came with the house, but since there's nothing wrong with it we can't really justify replacing it....yet. I reasoned that I could not hate it more than I already did so why not paint it, just to cheer it up? I did a lot of research into painting uPVC before we committed and, after sanding the door lightly and making sure it was spotlessly clean, gave it two coats of this primer which comes in black or white. You have to leave it for five days to "cure" before adding your topcoat, or you could leave it black I suppose if you wanted.
Then we gave it two coats of paint to match the blue balcony railings above, Woad by Little Greene Paint.
I adore it, and so does John. I find people's reaction to painting this door hilarious though - people seem genuinely shocked. One set of neighbours called us "bold" while another wanted all the paint details from John as they were also wanting to paint their uPVC front door. Our window cleaner absolutely loved it. It makes me smile.
Saturday morning pancakes made a comeback after a long break. I do love the fluffy American ones but if it's just me having them I make these oat ones. They are made with 100g oats, 200g cottage cheese and 4 eggs. I blitz it all together with a stick blender and usually get nine from the batter, and eat two or three for breakfast. They are denser than the usual flour-based pancakes but I really like them.
Less healthy, but I also made fudge, from this recipe. I had 3/4 of a tin of evaporated milk to use up and just googled "recipes with evaporated milk" and fudge was the first to pop up. I think it's the best fudge I've made. After cooking, you leave it to cool for five minutes then beat it in the food mixer for five or ten minutes. This takes away the slightly glossy, chewy texture and makes it thicker and grainier, which I much prefer. I like my fudge really crumbly, maybe more like Scottish tablet.
I also made chutney with the redcurrants I picked in the garden, and I think it's the best use I've found for redcurrants yet. I followed this recipe and it is so, so good - I think it's the Chinese Five Spice that really makes it work.
I'm sure it's lovely with brie or any other soft cheese, but I found it was delicious with cream cheese on a ryvita.
I ordered myself a new bedside table locker during lockdown, but it took ages to come because of covid, so it was quite a nice surprise when I unwrapped it. I love these lockers, and they come in the most gorgeous colours; I couldn't decide between forest green, mustard yellow, grey or white, but in the end pink won.
I picked my sampler up from the framers. They made such a beautiful job of framing it, I'm so glad I paid to have it done professionally rather than trying to do it myself.
The garden is looking a bit parched and not quite so well tended as it was during April, May and June.
But I try not to be too critical, and ignore the dead plants, and focus on the nice bits. Like all these pears hanging over the fence from the garden that backs onto ours...
And there are sunflowers too, which always make me happy.