Thursday, 21 August 2014

Catching Up

We have had a busy, fun week and I am grateful for these past days.

At the weekend we caught up with some longstanding friends, who we have not seen in over three years!  Guillermo and his family have travelled over from Spain and have been in the area these past few weeks:

 The man himself taking photos.



 Showing off his cowboy boots that his older daughter brought back from Oklahoma on a school exchange.  The kids pretend that they are not with him when he wears them :-)




 Pip with Carmen and Paula.



Benedict and Pip have spent some extra time at holiday club this week.  The whole experience has been such a positive boost for Benedict's confidence and he has been buzzing everyday with new information and has loved hanging out with the other kids.  Needless to say he was quite sad, coming home today as the realisation of his situation sunk in :-(  I am praying that something good will happen for him soon and I know that God has a special plan for him, so this keeps me going :-)



 Yoda Pip!



 A medium sized Japanese Knot Bag for Miss G, the head at Pip's school and the mastermind behind the three week holiday club.  She was there everyday from seven in the morning until six at night and was not paid a penny!  The other army of helpers were paid out of a special fund.  She is a keen knitter and I thought she would appreciate somewhere to keep her many projects.  Her office currently looks like a tornado has swept through, leaving a trail of chaos in its wake ~ hama beads, kids toys, spare school uniforms, books, books and more books! Knitting projects, stuffed toys, photographs, coffee mugs, musical instruments and paper strewn everywhere!!  Despite the chaos, I bet she can lay her hand to anything needed :-)



Dave and I have not lain idle, we have caught up on paperwork, the household budget ( sorely needed), the top part of the house has had a jolly good clean and I even managed some baking for the kids lunches at holiday club:



 Pizza Pinwheels ~ the savoury version of cheese and tomato.




The sweet version ~ peanut butter and chocolate spread.



Tomorrow we are off to Cumbria to visit Kathryn and Mary Grace, so no doubt there'll be plenty of pics of the little one.

Tootles, San x 




 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

One Hundred Happy Days

At the beginning of April I decided to take part in the One Hundred Happy Days Challenge.  It was a case of having to as I could feel myself sliding into black dog days of despair and I really did not want a repeat of last year.  I uploaded my images on instagram with the title #100happydays.

I snapped all sorts of images as I looked for the happy moments in each day, sometimes those glimmers were hard to find but perseverance won through and as the project progressed I could feel my mood shifting and a smile appeared on my face.  The difficulties within the family and the daily challenges did not disappear, but my attitude toward them shifted and I was able to rise above many of them by just looking through that iphone lens.

I am dedicating my happy project to the late Robin Williams, may he rest in peace.

PS If you happen to count all my pictures for the project you will see that there are 82 in total, there were some days I forgot to take a snap and there were some occasions where I was too sick!  Despite this I still feel that I completed the challenge.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Holiday Club :: The Gatehouse

Benedict and Pip are attending holiday club at Pip's school for the duration of this week and two days next week; they are out of the house from 9:00 am til 4:00 pm and the silence in the house is wonderfully deafening!!  We both love those kids but to have some quiet and a chance to work on projects or to be just still is priceless.  The kids are also having a blast, Benedict has made friends with a nice group of kids his own age and they are involved with loads of craft activities, sports activities and card games. 

On the first day Benedict was his usual around in the evening at 10:00 pm but by last night and tonight as I write he is asleep by 8:15 pm!!!  Which is usually unheard of unless he was sickening for something.  This is what Benedict has missed being out of the school system and although we know there is not much we can do about the situation for the time being, we are all enjoying this period of respite and change.

 Benedict trying to convince me he really is not tired but as you can see his attempting to keep his eyes open!  He almost fell asleep in his tea!



 Quiet Reading.




She played with babies today but yesterday she was Pirate Pip, terror of the seas!  And yes she is minus those two front teeth and lisps delightfully.  The teeth have cut through the gum so just wondering if they'll be in place by the 10th September?!

Today after dropping the kids off at school, Dave worked in the workshop and I prepped tea and then had some prayer time upstairs which has been sorely lacking.  We also had lunch at The Gatehouse but they have changed hands and the food was not its usual standard.  We tried to be upbeat and talked about the fact that staff were in employment there and the importance of work in this current climate but still it was a sad moment when we remembered special occasions; we had our 21st wedding anniversary lunch there and Dave had arranged for a bouquet of flowers to be left at our table, I was pregnant with Pip at the time and Kathryn had her first evening out there with Sara after having had Mary Grace.  We won't be going back any time soon:


 Decaf Latte Time.



 Empty.



 Lovely Hubby.



 Pork and apple ciabatta.



Broccoli and Stilton Soup.





 

Monday, 11 August 2014

The Wedding Dress

When it became obvious a while back that Sara could not find a dress that she liked and that fitted the simple theme of the wedding, I stepped up to the challenge and offered to make her dress.  Time was of the essence and I did not want to trawl around fabric shops looking for a pattern or the fabric, so I perused online and sent Sara a few suggestions for pdf patterns and the one she chose was this one. 

So right before Chanda's visit Dave and I spent an entire afternoon printing, gluing and cutting the pattern:










Whilst Chanda entertained Pip I worked on the toile for the bodice using old cotton sheeting and I was glad to have done so, as Sara was in between sizes and in the end needed the smaller size!  So on Thursday evening of last week the dress was cut out and I worked all through the night (yep, I saw the sun rise!) to make the bodice and skirt pieces.  It might seem kind of crazy to work a night shift but Sara was returning to Threave today and I wanted the dress made before she left so that I could make any adjustments as necessary; after all the wedding is exactly a month away!

On Friday morning my friend from prayer group who is also an experienced seamstress came to look after Pip and she cast her expert eye over the proceedings thus far and concurred that the fitting was correct.  The rest of the weekend was spent clipping seams and underhemming thet interfacings so that they would remain in place.  Once I had pieced the whole dress together Sallie popped by yesterday for the final reveal and she declared the job, well done!  Phew!!  So here is the dress as modelled by Gertie:



 Front view with sweet heart neckline.


 Curvy Sleeves.


 Back view ~ the dress wraps at the back.


 Back cross over in detail.


  Close up shot of the butterflies.


The only outstanding job is to hem the skirt but I cannot do that until Sara has purchased some shoes!  I must admit she looks lovely in the dress and the material was just the right choice, Sara loved it as soon as she saw it online.  It is a dress that she can wear again and the natural element totally fits in with the them of the wedding ~ the wedding invites were botanical print notecards, the wedding flowers also contain herbs and other foliage and the tables will each be named after a favourite tree/plant.

I think I can now breathe a huge sigh of relief!  I am working on a waterfall cardigan for me and have bought two very reasonably priced dresses from ebay I am sure one of them is bound to be Ok... I hope!
 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Chanda's Visit

A little while ago Dorina emailed to let us know that Chanda would be in the UK for a summer school session with the Royal Ballet School and were we near London.  The big city is not on our doorstep but is still a fairly respectable train journey away and so a plan was hatched that our VIP guest would arrive on the 2nd August and leave on the 4th.

In between cutting out Sara's dress pattern I organised myself in the kitchen and cooked ahead for the weekend, our menu plan was as follows:

Saturday Lunch ~ butternut squash and nut butter soup with multigrain rolls, followed by a grain free orange and chocolate cake.  Both the soup and the cake were yummy!

Saturday Tea ~ chorizo and loaded veg pasta sauce served with tagliatelle, followed by a family favourite, bananas and custard.

Sunday Breakfast ~ overnight oatmeal cooked in the slow cooker and served with cream and sugar, followed by toast and home made red currant jam from this year's crop of redcurrants.  I double checked that Chanda did in fact actually like oatmeal as I remember reading not so long ago, that she was reluctant to finish her oatmeal breakfast :-)

Sunday Lunch ~ was courtesy of a long standing veggie restaurant in town, The Whale Tail.

Sunday Tea ~ lemon and cream chicken cooked in the slow cooker, carrot and swede mashed, roast potatoes and cauliflower and broccoli.  For dessert we had a lovely baked cheesecake topped with syrupy strawberries courtesy of the River Cottage Every Day cookbook.

Monday breakfast ~ crumpets (known as english muffins in the states) topped with cheese infused scrambled egg and roasted tomatoes.

Chanda's train was later that morning so I packed a lunch for her to have on the train.  She also had two travelling companions as Tom and Sara were travelling to Cambridge for an interview for Tom with the National Trust in Royston.

Weatherwise the weekend was a washout (!) with heavy downpours but our spirits were not dampened and everyone had a happy time together:

The soup was declared a success as was the cake and after we had finished eating we opened our presents from Dorina, Greg and co, which were much appreciated

















 Chocolate Bar Tea!


Saturday activities included Pip and Chanda playing with the dolls house, marble run and Jenga bricks and dancing like flower fairies.  After tea whilst Pip was having her bath and settling for bed, Chanda, Dave, Sara and Benedict played the Lego Hobbit game.


 "Steady now...



"... uh-oh!"



Best foot forward.


On Sunday after breakfast they watched the Morecambe and Wise film the Intelligence Men.  It has some swan lake references in the film which Chanda thought was hilarious, so we sent her home with a copy to share with her family.  I have linked to Eric Morecambe before on the blog, so they are in for quite a few laughs!!  By mid morning they were ready for their sojourn to the Maritime Museum and lunch in town, unfortunately getting soaked within minutes of leaving the museum.







 Dress up fun.

Sunday afternoon was devoted to playing Monopoly Junior and friendship bracelet making, watching the Wallace and Gromit film "The Wrong Trousers" and when the weather broke a play in the garden for a short while after tea.









  Later that evening I finally had  chance to sit down and have a chat with Chanda, I knitted and she worked on her friendship band.  It was lovely to learn more about her neighbourhood and her family.


 


Despite leaving just after eleven on Monday morning, we still managed to pack in quite a fun morning of garden play and indoor play, but all too soon it was time to load up the car and head to the station :-(  




Our final treat was a coffee take out from Costa which we almost managed to finish just before the train pulled in to the station.  Sadly it was standing room only as the service was busier than usual due to the close of the Commonwealth Games the night before.  I was glad Chanda had Sara and Tom travelling with her, somehow when you are with others it makes awkward and challenging situations more bareable. 

Waiting.



A few tears were shed by this little one ~ best buddies don't you think?!

Dear Chanda, thank you for visiting and being a kind friend to both Benedict and Pip.  Thanks also to Dorina and Greg for trusting us with your precious daughter, she really is a super star! xoxo

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Castle Douglas :: School's Out

We are now home but I thought that I would share some pictures from our time with Sara and Tom after we left Northumberland on Saturday.

 Kitchen Duty.



 Sharing a funny moment!



 Gorgeous vegetable tagine.



 View from the kitchen window.



 Our Saturday morning treat! inhouse Castle Douglas


 Lots of choice.





 Blood tests all the time.








 Yummy!






 Raspberry creams at the back, caramel bottom left and dark whiskey bottom right.




 Inside the hub ~ the lady in the shop very kindly showed us around this small but important space.




 Chocolate moulds.




 Coffee Grinder.






Pip finished school last Thursday and it was a day full of mixed emotions.  There was the  realisation that she had actually made it through the school year and we had achieved not only managing the school run but supporting her in her learning journey and sadness at waving goodbye to a fab reception teacher, Mrs Katrina Gale.  After having worked at the school for six years she is now moving on to a deputy head post at a village school north from where we live.

  In fact she was Benedict's teacher when he started school all those years ago and that too reminded us that Benedict's contemporaries were also moving on to secondary education.  Benedict would also have been making that journey, he would have shared in Pip's first year and then moved on, but it was not meant to be.  Sometimes life instances are not of our choosing and we can often wonder why things have happened and what will be, but I am slowly learning over time that things do work out and that God's plan is infinitely better than mine :-)

I will leave you with a smiley Pip enjoying a school's out fruit smoothie and some music that was blaring in her classroom when I went to collect her on that last day.  They were watching this you tube video on the interactive white board and Pip and I have declared this to be our summer anthem:


She was super happy to be starting a school holiday and she deserved it, her end of year report was very good, clever girlie!
She also has two wobbly top front teeth, I wonder if they will be missing by September 10th?!  If so she will have to smile with her mouth closed or my sister-in-law who is the wedding photgrapher will have to air brush some in!!



 
 So Happy!