Friday, 22 September 2017

Nature Or Nurture!

Starting with last night, I finished the baby blanket using Sirdar's Snuggly Squishy yarn.
As I mentioned yesterday, I wasn't 100% happy with the width of the blanket...I am generally fairly average with tension, but this was about 4cm less I realised after bothering to measure it!
So with the last ball, I decided to do rounds of single crochet all the way round, which did the trick of adding some extra width and I actually like the firmer edging a border gives.
The blanket is now being blocked ( aren't I good!) and will be ready to give to my friend when she calls in next week.
The weather really was beautiful today, t shirt weather!
As I went out to do some shopping, I couldn't help but marvel at my "snapdragon" flowers again...
happily growing from brick work, with no soil or regular watering!
And this begonia too....just how do they do it!
All my watering, dead heading and nurturing has nothing on nature it seems!
At Lidl today I saw these and was curious as to what they were...
...I really wasn't expecting anything quite so cute!!!!
It tasted similar to a kiwi but a bit adorable are they!!
The big event of the day was Hubby arriving home safely from his trip to the US.
He came armed with the goodies on our wish list and a few extras too.
It's good to have him back.
Teen Two was especially pleased to have his dad back, and LOVED his present of a pen with a fidget spinner on top!
Our story at Friday Club was of Zaccheus, who climbed a tree to see the Lord passing by.
We printed off these trees and got the kid to make fingerprint leaves, they really loved it.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Pom Pom Mania!

Today was my turn to run the activity table at Parent and Toddlers, and resisting the urge to use one of the super duper Baker Ross crafts that arrived yesterday, I dug out a bag of wool and my animal pom pom set which I bought in the US last year.
It was a great activity for discussing, big, biggest, small smallest with the little ones.
There was a long line of children eagerly wanting to make their own pom pom, and one thought it would actually come out as the animal we were using!
The mums and grandmas with their little charges were intrigued as to how the pom poms were going to be made and I was more than a little surprised that no one had made them as a child using the two pieces of circular cardboard method!
This useful pictorial shows you the six easy steps to make a perfect pom pom using the traditional method, but there are also pom pom makers available quite cheaply online
I can remember making them at school once ( obviously had a lovely teacher who loved her crafts!) and made them at home whenever there were any scraps of wool going spare.
Several of the mums wanted to buy the animal set themselves, reeling off the names of nieces and nephews who would really love the set so I promised to search them out the next time we are State side.
Such a shame Hubby is coming home today!
All the pom pom making, and sheer pleasure the little ones and their mums got out of making, and playing with them, reminded me of a book I bought last year.
We bought a stack for Friday Club Christmas presents and thought they were so good, bought one for ourselves...we really must get round to making some of them...its not as if we are short on scraps of wool!!
Its been a yarny sort of day, as I had a chill out this afternoon doing some more of the baby blanket using Sirdar's Snuggly Squishy.
I followed the free pattern, but wish I had cast on more stitches, its a little narrower than I would like...but there is no way I am unpicking it all now!
It will be fine for a car seat if nothing else.
Only one more sleep and Hubby will be home, armed with gifts of the various foods we miss from the good old US.
Its probably been a long week for him, oddly enough its flown by for us, but he has of course been missed, particularly by Teen Two, so it will be good to have him back home with us.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A Light Bulb Moment!

Last night Teen Two brought Benjy in for a little snuggle up....looks like Benjy really enjoyed the warmth of the woodburner, I have never seen him looking so chilled out!
With Teen One doing the dinner last night...and the clearing up, and no Hubby coming in later needing a dinner, and no packed lunch to make, it meant I had the longest evening ever!!!
So what's a girl to do??
Well knit of course!
I finished one whole ball!
This morning I met a friend for coffee.
We haven't seen each other in quite a while so it was good to catch up with what our families are up to.
Her son and Teen Two went to  primary school together, so we are always exchanging our experiences since they went to different senior schools/college.
This morning I sent Hubby a shopping list...these are the last of my supplies from our last visit to the US, so if he can bring home a few of each that would be great.
The corn muffin mix is great on top or chicken casserole of chilli, and whilst it can be made from scratch with maize flour, this is quicker and surprisingly cheaper!
At this time of year there is nothing quite like pumpkin pie either.
Teen One was given some decorate a workbook...looks like some family influences are rubbing off on the subject matter!!
The Postie brought a parcel of goodies I had ordered in the Baker Ross Sale.
For the various craft activities I run for kids, I almost always do "from scratch" projects,
sometimes its hard to think of what to do, and with a healthy fund for the clubs, I decided to buy in some pre-prepared items....oh the guilt!!
But oh the joy of seeing a whole box of goodies!!
I tried to keep the cost for each project to a minimum, 20-30p per child was the average.
It will be such bliss to just open the packets and lay the items on the table!
I will still be doing "from scratch" stuff, but for those weeks when I am pushed for time or ideas, these will be very welcome.
When opening the box, I went to the drawer to get a pair of scissors, and remembered I had this handy gadget, which was a present from my cousin, and designed by one of his pupils.
When Teen One came home from Uni a car drew alongside and a helpful man told her one of her brake lights was out.
As this would most definitely fall into a blue job category, and with Hubby away, it was a question of what do we do?
I asked our new students and one of them was certain he could do it, providing we had the tools...well I am sure Hubby would have the tools, but could I lay my hands on them was the question.
We went to Halfords to buy the bulb and I saw that for just £5 they would fit it as well!
Not only did the lovely young man fit it, he showed us how to do it for next time!
So I was able to tell the very willing student his services would not be required...and I then remembered Hubby kept his car the car of course!!
Anyway, it was well worth the spend to have it done ready for tomorrow's commute and seeing as the bulb only cost £1.50 it hardly made a dent in the budget!


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Who's Been A Naughty Girl Then?

The mornings are definitely getting chillier....but still lovely and sunny.
Teen Two brought Benji in for a little snuggle as he thought he was a little cold...he certainly seemed to enjoy being snug inside the cosy dressing gown!
With yet another day ahead of me, with no commitments, I was determined to get on with some chores I would generally rather ignore!
I started with the oven, although of course that chore has been made easier with the bag and liquid method.
It always looks so much better afterwards (too ashamed to take a "before" picture!)
The washing machine hasn't stopped all day.
I was making the most of the lovely weather and washed the summer duvets...but it must have been too much for the newly replaced line....I heard a noise on the conservatory roof and came out to discover the duvets on the floor and the line broken...well actually I think its just the knot come undone...and Hubby did say it was tough trying to keep the knot from slipping undone, but he had hoped he had cracked it...

...with Hubby away and the duvets still wet I had to be inventive...
...and tie it to the only available thing I could reach....the shed door handle!
With a few dull chores out of the way, I spent some time making the house look more seasonal...
...and reminding myself of visits to the US with this leaf sweetie dish.
The afternoon turned rather overcast and chilly so the first fire of the season was lit.
I am hoping to avoid putting the heating on, since the wood is free!
Having worked my fingers to the bone all morning...I then was very very naughty!!!
A friend recently became a Grandma for the second time, and as I had knitted something for baby number one, I thought I ought to do the same for baby number two!
My local wool shop does a "wool of the week" offer and yesterday I noticed it was
Sirdar  Snuggly Squishy, with a free pattern. was too good an offer to I zipped down after lunch and bought the three balls needed to make a blanket...
...then I was even naughtier and abandoned the rest of the planned chores and started the blanket!
Knitting with 5.5mm as opposed to 2.75 is a real pleasure!
Although bizzarely the thicker needles means I knit slower, the chunky yarn knits up quicker, so in a short space of time I had produced a few inches!
With Teen One offering to make tonight's dinner it looks like a few more inches will be coming off those needles tonight!

Monday, 18 September 2017

The Day Bargain Buying Finally Paid Off!

The above shopping bag is ALL I brought home from the supermarket today!!
I cannot believe it...and I could probably have got away without buying the cereal and milk too but didn't want to have to go out later in the week so stocked up today.
Is it really the result of Hubby not being with us for a week?
Surely not!!
It surely must be the week I have been waiting for for several years!
Every time I stock up on bargains and have a rather heavy bill at the end of it, I tell myself, in the long run its saving us money and will ultimately be buying less...and It think today is that day!!
This bag cost the princely sum of £6.20!
Never has my Monday shopping ever been that low!
I did pop in to Asda afterwards and spent £16, but they were Christmas presents so that doesn't count, and I did also pop into Lidl to stock up on pet food so that doesn't count either.
The Teens always help me take in the shopping from the should have seen their faces when I plonked this bag at the front door and said "that's it!"

For dessert yesterday  I made a bannoffi pie, so easy to make (just don't forget you have that can of condensed milk on the boil and keep topped up with water!) and so popular...even Grandma had two portions and she NEVER has seconds!
This is all that is left from a plate full!
Our Malaysian student doctor left me some beverages to try out, this chrysanthemum being one of them....the first time I have ever heard of it let alone taste it!
It was very pleasant, sweeter than I am used to as I don't take sugar in my beverages, but definitely very pleasant.
Hubby had sent  text saying he was up and ready for breakfast, so if we were around did we want to Skype...well of course we did!
What a marvellous invention, to be able to see and talk to a loved one so many miles away and for free!
He had a good night and has managed some shopping already, stocking up on treats for the Teens...Captain Crunch cereal for Teen Two and S'mores Pop Tarts for Teen One.
I have asked for a tin or two of Libby's pumpkin pie filling....having tried to make it with real pumpkin one year...I will go for a tin every time!
The Teens were up late, no surprise after the late nights they had when they were away.
Before a late lunch, Teen Two went to the gym and Teen One and I retraced her steps from her epic wrong way last week.
I drove and she held her satnav so she could see were she went wrong.
It became clear she had been watching the road, (thankfully!) keeping up with the traffic, and glancing at the Satnav, to see where she should be going...but not always listening to the satnav!
I have to say, I can see why the authorities want to bring satnav use into the driving test, it really is a skill to be in a new area, drive, listen, keep safe, follow the rules of the road you are on etc....I can't say I have mastered using one yet!
Anyway, it was a profitable half hour or so.
This afternoon has been spent catching up on washing etc, getting out my Autumn bits and bobs...time to say goodbye to the summer for sure I reckon!
The Teens have been forwarded details about another YP weekend in November down in Taunton... and both are up for it...happy days!!

Sunday, 17 September 2017

A Safe Arrival And Safe Return

This morning was an early start for Hubby as he did the last minute bits of packing before his taxi arrived to take him to Heathrow.
I heard about an hour ago that he landed safely in Detroit, so that was over twelve hours after he left home!
My morning was initially quiet, but not for long!
There was the usual food prep for lunch, as I knew at the very least I had Grandma and two students coming for the day.
At church we had three visiting ladies, who had come to surprise Our Dear Friend who is so faithful with helping out at Parent and Toddlers.
I did invite them back for lunch as well, but they had already made arrangements.
After lunch it was the usual game of Scrabble, with lots of child birth stories from Grandma and I!
The student doctor was very interested in our experiences, and although we kept saying "but you don't want to hear about that" he actually did and kept asking us questions!
It made the afternoon go very quickly and I hadn't managed to decorate the cake for the young dentist's birthday.
So that task was given to the student doctor, whilst I rustled up some tea.
After our evening service we all returned home, where we were pleased to see the Teens and young dentist had arrived safely from their weekend away.
We had a surprise birthday supper for the young dentist and the gluten/dairy free cake turned out surprisingly well....I was expecting it to be dry, but I think the lemon and lime syrup was a good addition.
So, my Home Alone moment was very brief and my day filled up so much I didn't have time to think how strange it was not to have my family around me.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

A Day Out For Darby And Joan!

This morning was spent rather leisurely, a cuppa in bed as usual and some discussion about what to do with our day as Darby and Joan.
We decided to go to Winchester, its a short drive and is very picturesque, it also has a pretty High Street and there were one or two things we wanted.
Firstly, Hubby wanted to visit the Great Hall, where legend has it this is King Arthur's Round Table... buy some coasters as gifts for his US colleagues.
He has one himself, from a previous visit, and when he learnt one of the meetings he is to attend next week is titled "The Round Table" he thought this unusual gift from the UK would add a nice touch.
On the Park and Ride bus he jokingly said "I wonder if they will give me a discount for buying 12?"
When we went to pay the cashier ( American!) said "oh, you get a discount for every six you buy!"
We meandered through the market, which had all manner of interesting things, including a sign saying "15 shopping weekends to Christmas!"
Tomorrow is the birthday of the young man who has taken the Teens away for the weekend, knowing he is a keen walker, we decided to buy him a book on local walks.
For wrapping paper I am still using an old map book, when appropriate, and was pleased to find a page that had Oxford on it, which is where they are all spending the weekend.
We are all Ikea lovers in our family, but this card really made me smile!
On our way home we stopped off at a Two For One restaurant...expect its only two for one on weekdays!
Oh well, we enjoyed our fish and chips/curry and it means I get the night off cooking.
Back home I made my first gluten free cake...which came out looking like a cake anyway!
Knowing gluten free can often be dry, I opted to make a lemon and lime drizzle syrup (should have sifted that icing sugar!)
 I then couldn't decide how to decorate it with the Jelly Belly's I had bought (they are his favourite I believe)
Lactose free cream cheese ( he is lactose intolerant as well!) and icing sugar made a nice thick frosting, which tomorrow I will scatter the jelly beans on...I was worried if I did it today the colouring might bleed.
Hubby is busy putting some finishing touches to his project for work, and will soon be packing.
We have given him a wish list of things we would like, should he manage to hit a supermarket.
The Teens are having a whale of a time, getting to bed after midnight last night, following a late night bonfire.
Teen Two was one of the few people to make it to breakfast on time Teen One told me!
He sent a text mid morning saying he was having a fantastic time and felt like he had been there before, which is great.
This afternoon he was booked in for Archery, Teen One didn't get there in time to put her name down so opted for crate stacking ...couldn't quite see her abseiling or doing the Leap of Faith!