Wednesday, 28 August 2013

If Things Happen In Threes...

... Then I'm sorted now, because my three things happened by 9am this morning. So the rest of the day should be a piece of cake.

(1) I woke up with a cold making my chest feel raw and painful. While annoying, I can deal with this, because everything that was happening this summer has pretty well happened. And the school runs haven't begun. So I have a window of opportunity here to just curl up on the sofa, drink hot lemon and honey, and beat this germ into submission. If it was going to happen then it happened at the most opportune moment for me.

(2) While still in bed Helen came to inform me that it looked like a mouse was in our house last night. Oh bugger! If it touches my fabrics it will die a horrible death. Just saying. I have contacted our landlord and requested he finally fix the freaking hole in the downstairs bathroom wall that he made when doing repairs to the pipes. It's only been there for about ten months now. Enough already!

(3) I was on my computer this morning, reading blogs, and my computer died. Nooooooo! My IT man figures he probably knocked something when he cleaned it two days ago. He will have a look when he returns on the weekend.

So, just when you thought I was back I'm reliant on my iPad and photo free. On the bkright side, it gives me the rest of the week to finally start sewing again and when I can blog with photos I hope to have something to show you. This would be good. I'm ready to sew, to get my days back into routine - to blog! 

And life goes on. I'm off to find some hand sewing because today it is me, the sofa, the telly and not much else. The girls can fend for themselves. One thing for sure, they'll never starve. I've taught them well.


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Back Again

The joy of having a husband who can fix a computer is immeasurable. Due to his skills last night I now have a computer to which I can get wifi and download photos. This is a very good thing.

We arrived home from 'up north' on Sunday after a very quick and busy visit. In our usual way we tried to fit in all the things we normally do there in a shorter space of time. Number one on the list is a day on the beach. This is the thirteenth summer Helen has been going to Longsands Beach in Tynemouth and tradition can not be broken.

A beach is always entertaining. Rock pooling, riding non-existent waves, picnics, and hot chocolates to warm you up again when the North Sea has turned you blue.

Our trips 'up north' have us going into town, buying new school shoes, and uniform, and all the other necessities of life. Lunch was at Wagamama this time, where a bowl of noodle soup got the better of Helen. I had a night out with my stepsister, talking, eating Greek mezes, talking, talking some more.

Trips 'up north' we go to Tynemouth Station on the weekend for the market. The girls love the man who sells everything Dr Who related - including a hoard of DVDs. I love all the vintage things. My only purchase this time was a bag of vintage threads on wooden spools for £2.

What trips 'up north' don't usually include is a chance to take some photos of the place mats I made and gave to Mum for her birthday in April. But most of all, trips 'up north' have never involved saying good bye to the house that my mum and stepfather have lived in for thirty years.

It is the right time for them to move, but oh so very, very sad to say good bye to the house. Tears were shed. Next time we go 'up north' we will be able to do and see all the same things but we shall be staying just five minutes up the road in their new apartment. It will feel strange.


Monday, 19 August 2013

And Then There Was Another Celebration

The fun doesn't stop here. Because today we have another birthday. My baby turned eleven.

Emily asked to be woken up early as she said it would be dreadful to wake up and lie in bed all excited waiting for everyone else to wake up so she could open presents and enjoy the day. She also insisted she had the 'birthday tree'.

The birthday tree started in July with my birthday. Helen wanted to put out my gifts the night before and I sarcastically (I know - so out of character!) replied that it wasn't like Christmas, we didn't have a birthday tree. Next thing I knew, Helen had hauled out our little mini fake tree and put my presents under it. Well, the tree came out again last night. I think we may have a new family tradition.

Helen's gift to Emily was a huge hit. We shall ignore the bit where Helen said she can now call Emily a cow and have it literally be true.

Kindly ignore the mess in the background, thank you.
Our gift to Em reduced her to tears. Well, it's good to know they don't take things for granted, and just presume they are going to get what they wish for when they wish for it.

And now Emily had an iPod Touch there might be a chance I regain ownership of my iPad. Especially as I have already downloaded Minecraft onto her Touch for her. If I get time on my iPad again I might then get my window for replying to emails back. That would be the time spent vegging on the sofa in the evening. Half watching some programme and more concentrating on emails and blog reading.

But, we are going to be out of wifi vicinity for the next week, starting tomorrow. And just after I downloaded these birthday photos this morning there was an accident with my computer and I can't plug in any cables until himself fixes it on the weekend. Soooooo...   I shall be disappearing for a short while again. I promise, normal service will resume soon. School is starting in just over two weeks. We will be back into routine.

Meanwhile, I have a birthday meal to make. Far be it for mine to ask for something simple for their birthday dinner like hot dogs. No, I have a request of prawn cocktails to start, followed by Chinese spring onion pancakes, prawn gyoza (Japanese dumplings) and sushi. Instead of a birthday cake Emily would like a lemon meringue pie. Guess I'm chained to the kitchen for the afternoon then!

We have a film to watch tonight though, and happy faces on a birthday are a very good thing.


PS: As per normal, I will still be found on Instagram during the coming week even if I can't post here. Hope you are enjoying the summer too!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Marking the Occasion

Today my mother-in-law turns 90. I am telling you this because I want it on record that she is a remarkable woman.

She is funny, stubborn, sharp as a tack, kind, and some days has more energy than I do. She still drives a car - very competently too. She lives on her own, gardens, and gets on with things. I admire her a great deal.

The oldest of six children, she grew up on a substantial farm in Denmark. In the second world war she was a member of the Danish Resistance. She hid weapons in her flat in Copenhagen, and she transported them onwards when required. Let's just say she had several very close calls and we are lucky she is still around today.

In her 30s she moved to the UK to marry a British man she had met through her brother. She has been here ever since. My mother-in-law lives close to where we do and this means that the girls are growing up seeing her regularly. And in the process have developed great relationships with her. I love the fact that they will grow up to have strong memories of her.

I am lucky to have such a good mother-in-law. I am proud to know her.

And today I would like to wish her a very happy birthday indeed.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy... but not sewing.

Apologies to those who have wondered if I am okay because I have been so quiet. All is well here, just very busy. There is family over from Sweden and Denmark, and friends from elsewhere in the UK. Today two dozen of us were out for a meal. I don't know about you but eating a big meal in the middle of the day makes me soooooo sleepy. The idea of trying to sew right now scares me. I would be bound to include several of my fingers in a quilt.

On the bright side, I'm having a lovely time. And someone took a good photo of me. It doesn't happen often so I glory in the occasion when it does occur.

The girls are having fun too. They entertained themselves after the meal by having 'sword fights' with rather long stems of grass. I might have got involved in this game too.

But was spared the indignity of anyone capturing me capering about on camera.


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Where Was I?

Trying to get my head around what needs doing sewing wise here. Had a look at my WIPs and the one I decided to pick up today was this one.

I still had the final borders to put on. So I did that. Now I am contemplating how to piece something into the backing fabric so that it is wide enough. I hate piecing backing fabrics but it is a necessary evil. And I do love this quilt top just as much as ever so a little bit of pain in the backing will lead me that much closer to my completed HR Fan Club quilt (aka Mine, All Mine!). This can only be a good thing.


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Holiday Post - Part Two - Holland

As I sit on the computer and try to sort the holiday photos into some sort of order (I used two cameras), I am at a loss to figure out what we did on the Tuesday. Having already posted about arriving to Rotterdam it comes to mind that we actually went for the long walk and the pancake house meal on the Tuesday. So we'll just skip to Wednesday. Lucky you!

Wednesday we headed out en masse to Gouda. It was only a 30 minute train ride from Rotterdam and a nice day trip. The upside to travelling with a child in Holland is no matter where we went I only had to pay 3euro return fare for Emily. The downside? Helen, at the grand age of 12, was considered adult fare. WTF?! Enough said.

Gouda had a pretty town centre, with the city hall in the main square surrounded by antique and bric-a-brac stalls. Heaven. I even spotted the obligatory old sewing machine for sale. And, no, I didn't buy it.

Of course Gouda is famous for cheese, and there was an abundance of that in numerous locations. Yes, I did buy cheese.

The next day was another family excursion as we all went and did a river cruise in Rotterdam. Rotterdam suffered a huge amount of damage in the second world war and consequently has a very modern city centre. It reminded me very much of North American city centres in many ways. Seeing it from the river gives you a good sense of the skyline, and of the humongous nature of the container shipping industry there.

Afterwards, my brothers and I went and strolled around to further explore with Helen accompanying us. We loved coming across one of those fountains that squirts up water randomly that you can walk through. Stuart tried to get caught to no avail, but Helen wasn't so lucky. Especially with her Uncle Andrew holding her in there while she laughed, and got wet.

That night we all ate out and, as I do on occasion, I let the girls taste the wine. I don't think they are finding anything to like about it yet.

Friday was the day for Amsterdam. Stuart and I took the kids and gave them a crash course in tacky souvenir shops - which hadn't really been our intention. Unfortunately the same shops that sold the t-shirts and things they were interested in also sold less than desirable items for the discerning child. The kids were not impressed, so we paid for them to go into the Amsterdam Dungeon while Stuart and I walked around some more. That cheered them up to no end.

Despite a less than stellar start, we all enjoyed Amsterdam. There are plenty of beautiful places to see even if you are with heathen children who are not interested in seeing any museums, and we had a most stellar Chinese takeaway lunch. As you know, good food always makes me happy.

Suddenly we only had one full day left. During the week we had an extra person around much of the time, which was my nephew's Dutch friend, Lucas. Lucas's family live not too far from Rotterdam and on Saturday we went out to see them. Before going to their home they took us to see Kinderdijk, which has a large number of traditional, still working windmills.

At the family home we had a wonderful traditional Dutch meal in an old farmhouse perched on a dike down by a small canal. Lucas's brothers have an out building where they are encouraged to practice their love of graffiti without getting in trouble. Imagine the girls' delight when they realised that they could have a go too!

It was a marvellous trip, but we had to come home Sunday as himself was due back into work for the start of the week. The weather was wonderful. Spending time with all my family together was a pleasure. It was a relaxing holiday despite the sightseeing, and reminded us that we have so many places to explore within easy reach.

I took some embroidery with me but never took it out of its pouch. I hung out with my family. I read books. I did sod all. I also didn't read a blog the whole time I was away. I didn't write or reply to emails. I went online briefly each day to pop a couple of photos on Instagram and that was it. I am almost 400 blogposts in arrears, but that doesn't matter. Today I did laundry, and then some more laundry. I will slowly get back up so speed. Then I will go away again.


Monday, 12 August 2013

Holiday Post - Part One - Belgium

Right, if you aren't into seeing holiday photos that's okay. Click off this post now. There's no sewing sneakily posted at the end to entice you to look at everything else. Just a brief synopsis of our little getaway.

Before we left you may have got the impression that I was a little excited to be having a holiday. That impression would be correct. As much as I love taking the girls for our annual summer jaunt to my mum's, actually going somewhere different and seeing new stuff thrilled the hell out of me. As an easily excited person, even getting on the Eurotunnel train thrilled me to no end.

Once on the other side we wasted no time heading for a campground I had booked us into near Ghent in Belgium. The drive was just over an hour and a half which reminded us how easily accessible so many things are just the other side of the channel.

I had  booked us into a 'hiking cabin' which is a basic accommodation with even more basic cooking facilities, and no bathroom facilities at all, but beds that proved very comfortable which made it so much better than being in a tent in  my eyes.

We were in a gorgeous and peaceful location, with just a short walk down through the campground taking us to a beautiful lake. The campground also had a massive bbq you could use if you so wished. It was conveniently located right by our shed hiking cabin too.

Sunday started with a pedal boat ride on the lake. The best bit of which was someone deliberately steering his boat into the lake fountain so he stayed dry but Emily most definitely did not. I did not possess the skills to adequately steer a pedal boat to even attempt doing this to Helen. We then took a jaunt over the border into Holland where himself has a cousin, met our first 'real' windmill and then went into Ghent with the cousin and his wife to explore.

Ghent is a beautiful city and well worth a stop if you are ever in the area. The centre is full of traditional buildings, lovely narrow streets to wander through, a river lined with restaurants and cafes, and right in the middle of all that an excellent castle. All the more excellent as children enter for free. Free! As someone who lives just up the road from Warwick Castle where it would cost £107 for a family of four to go if we didn't book in advance the 28euro charge for Ghent Castle was a welcome surprise.

The views of the city centre from the rampart walls were excellent. The room showing instruments of torture used in medieval times fascinatingly gruesome.

We finished the day down by the lake as it turned out that we booked in the same weekend as the annual summer festival which culminated in a fantastic fireworks show that night. We watched those while we ate Belgium waffles, apple fritters and Helen had candy floss. Thank you Zele, Belgium!

Monday we had a very relaxed start before we headed off to Rotterdam to meet my Canadian brother, his kids, my mum and step dad, my Aberdeen brother and his wife, and my dad and his partner. We stayed right in the city, each of us having a flat in the same building. The flats were in a converted school house with massively high ceilings inside which allowed for a loft bedroom in each one. We also had the use of the owners garden as he was away, which was a nice perk.

Across the street was a great playground and a basketball court which was visible from our windows so we could see the cousins at play. We then all went for a long walk through the very big nearby park until we eventually found the Dutch pancake house for a late lunch. If you wonder what the final photo is, it's Helen entertaining herself by trying to catch one of the numerous wasps who seemed to like pancakes too.

But that's enough for this post. If you want to know what we did for the rest of our holiday then please come back for the next post.


Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Escape Route

I've left this island, for a little while at least. 

(All photos shameless nicked from Google images.)
 I've not been outside of the UK for about seven years. Am I excited? Hell yes!

We will be taking our car and meeting family on the other side.

Neither our car, nor our kids, are this shiny. But that doesn't matter. See you upon our return.


Friday, 2 August 2013

I Humbly Apologise

I am so sorry. I have let every quilter down. I did something that I swore never to do. That goes against the grain totally, for just about all of us.


I...      I...     I hemmed a pair of trousers.

Does it make it any better that I used a rotary cutter to trim them to length and sewed them with my 1/4" foot?

I promise to never do it again.


Thursday, 1 August 2013

My Blog is Useful

Yes, my blog is useful, at least to me. I know this because today I wanted to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies and couldn't find the recipe. I was getting my knickers in a twist about it until I remembered that I had posted the recipe on this here blog. So I came online, pulled up my own recipe and made my cookies.

I'm happy now. They are all packed away in a tin and ready to be put in the car and taken with us Saturday morning. That is if I can keep thieving paws off them until then.

Meanwhile I am doing the mundane. Copious amounts of laundry, dental appointments, groceries, sorting out who can feed the gerbils while we are away, blah, blah, blah. Sorry for being so boring these days. Promise that I will be back to sewing and insanity soon enough.