Summer days

This year is my first year since working in education that I actually get the school holidays- a whole 9 weeks off work! woweee!

I admit at first I was a little bit worried about how I would fill five days a week with Rose, but we seem to have effortlessly fallen into our new routine, and I am really enjoying my time off with her a lot.

This week we were hit with two scorching days which were really quite surprising, but we made the most of them by cracking out the (tiniest) paddling pool and heading to the seaside (which is handily just across the road from our house).

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Rose decided on the hottest day of the year that she would like to wear her winter hat and a pair of mismatched mittens… she also wore her apron out that day… there is no point arguing with her about these things as she is very determined and especially when decided what she wants to wear. I was a little bit worried about the woolly hat though in case she got heatstroke, but luckily she did give it up quite quickly when I pretended it didn’t bother me.

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We were really lucky to experience a funny little phenomenon at high tide, where the sea came under the stones, and filled up a perfect little paddling pool on the beach. It was so perfect, and stayed for about an hour before the tide went out again – plenty of time for good quality splashing by Rose, and perfect timing for us to go home for lunch and shelter from the hottest of the heat.

I already have that ‘I don’t want to go back to work’ feeling – but luckily we have quite a few weeks more fun ahead. Fingers crossed for more sunshine please. x

 

Wedding dressmaking 

I just wanted to share a little bit of dressmaking I did last month for my dear friends Lios and Phil’s wedding. I decided it would be nice for Rose and I to have something nice to wear to this occasion and found some really nice fabrics perfect for a summer wedding day.

As I currently have no waist, I decided to go for old faithful empire dress. I love this pattern even when not pregnant because it’s so comfortable and so perfect for any occasion that involves a meal!

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I really loved what I managed to achieve with Rose’s little dress pattern – especially how cute the easy fit design looked. So in a minor moment of madness – forgetting I am not a cute tiny toddler – I decided this time to alter my pattern slightly to give it a more easy fit feel too. I did this by sitting my pattern pieces away from the centre point of the fabric by about 15mm to make them a little wider. I then got a little nervous as realised this was overall quite a lot of extra width, and I panicked about the extra fabric and how it might fit under a cardigan, how much of a whale I might appear, etc etc, so I ended up trimming the same amount away from the outer edges. It was a bit of a wreckless risk as my fabric was quite a small piece really and there was no spares for recutting – but I very happily report that it came out so so well. I love it when that happens. I actually think I will make this alteration on all future versions of this dress – it really looks lovely.

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Rose’s dress was another version of the aforementioned easyfit empire style I made her previously. I added a little bit of lace trim to make it extra special though. And we were ready to go.

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The wedding was super fun. The evening party was on a boat which Rose loved – she really danced the night away and still talks about dancing on the boat. It was difficult for a while to explain we weren’t going on any more boats…

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Room for improvement

So I have been very very slack on my blogging activities – and any activities – recently and wanted to fill you in on some happy news that we are having a baby come and live with us! A boy baby! November is his estimated arrival time – just in time for Rose’s third birthday, but I’ve heard that boys are more likely to be late? I’ll let you know when he arrives – although do hope to be back before then. Although I really just keep forgetting what I’m meant to be doing most of the time despite my good intentions. And I fall asleep a lot too.

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In other news I am on summer holidays now, and we are doing some home improvements which is another distraction. I am preparing for a winter of hibernation (sort of – minus the sleep element). Every toddler free moment recently has been spent removing about three layers of fifty year old textured and painted wallpaper from our hallway, but we are making good progress now and we had fun with tester pots trying to decide on which shade of not-quite-white we wanted to use. Rose enjoyed this, although if she had her way we would be using ‘ra ra red’ (not tested).

It’s nice to be able to sit down in the evenings again. I might even pick up some knitting. And I have a month of Eastenders to catch up with too…

 

Picnic Cake

At the weekend we had a lovely meet up with friends. I loved this day. Our original plan was to have a picnic on the beach, but unfortunately the weather was not really right for a picnic, so we brought the party indoors and had a nice time all the same.

For the event I decided to make a savoury cake, as these are meant to be ideal picnic fare. I went through a little phase of making these before and really liked them.

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The recipe I used was a Rachel Khoo recipe. Her cooking is a bit french inspired which I like. I had previously tried this one for a prune, pistachio and cheese cake. This time I went for her more Mediterranean recipe crammed with sundried tomatoes, olives, feta cheese and hazelnuts (that bit not so Mediterranean!)

i n g r e d i e n t s :

3 medium eggs
25g caster sugar
250g plain flour
1 tsp sea salt (I regretted adding this)
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika (I used normal paprika and it was still nice) 100ml buttermilk
150ml olive oil
100g sundried tomatoes
80g black olives
60g hazelnuts
1 medium courgette
100g soft goat’s cheese

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m e t h o d :

Start by preheating your oven to 180C and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper. Beat the eggs and caster sugar together. Measure out your flour, salt (if using), baking powder and paprika in a separate bowl and then fold into the egg mixture. Measure out your buttermilk and olive oil and mix in. Roughly chop the sundried tomatoes, olives and hazelnuts and add to the batter. Coursely grate in the courgette and crumble in the goat’s cheese. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean. You want it to have a lovely golden crust. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before turning out. Et voila!

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Everyone seemed to really enjoy this cake, although for me it was too salty. I don’t normally add the salt in recipes, but for some reason decided I would this time, and I really wished I hadn’t. A lesson learnt! And the afternoon was full of all sorts of tasty treats and super company. I am hoping next time also we’ll have sunshine and then what a perfect time it will be!

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Jumping for joy beans

I am very pleased at the moment, after having been a little bit unobservant of my little kitchen windowsill garden, (although you can’t really see out the window anymore so really it is quite hard to miss) I have noticed that it’s making some grand progress. We’ve got a bean! A really big bean! (yes, just one of them) And tomatoes too! Such a happy feeling to see. I can’t wait for those to grow a little bit and maybe turn red.

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The basil is a big success too – I recommend this a lot – such a lovely flavour in our pasta sauces – especially this time of year. On the road to self sufficiency?

Hooray for indoor gardens. x

Little Red Cardigan

I am feeling very happy at the end of this long weekend as have finally finished this work in progress knitting project – my first cardigan in a really really long time! Little red gem. I got the wool for Christmas when Rose was six weeks old, and now she’s two and a half! But I had a good incentive and am really pleased with the end result!

fluffy red yoke cardigan - adriafil soffiofluffy red yoke cardigan

I used my trusty yoke cardigan pattern as tried and tested previously here, and here, and here. Debbie has also made one! I love this one so much, it’s just such a great pattern, a good fit for me, and economical with wool and not very much sewing up at the end. Lots of good features.

For this one I used Adriafil Soffio Plus yarn, a nice fluffy one, colour shade 055 – red, nice and bright. I got the buttons as a gift and think they are a perfect finishing touch. This time I decided to elongate the body of my cardigan a bit by adding a few rows between increase rows. It worked out nicely. The original pattern can be found in this book if you like the look of it. There are lots of projects in there inspired by different decades, but I admit this is the only pattern I’ve tried. But a lot of good use it’s got!

And I think my next big knit is actually going to be the same cardigan again. I got some more of the rowan colourspun wool I used to make this version and I think I am just going to remake it exactly the same! It is my absolute best cardigan- I could wear it everyday (instead I just wear it most days!) I think I will really enjoy making it, the wool is so luxurious and I love the colours, and hopefully can finish before the end of the year to complete my new year’s resolution (and bolster my winter wardrobe)

Apart from knitting we have really been enjoying the better weather recently. Rose just loves to be by the sea and throwing stones and paddling. And I am enjoying this interest of hers too. I hope the sun is shining for you too.

Hearts and heatwave

I have enjoyed this weekend so so much! It has been filled with dressmaking and sunshine – what a treat for me.

I have had on my to do list for a long time to make a little dress pattern for Rose and then make her some dresses. She only likes to wear dresses now, and gets through at least one a day, and is quite picky, so I was starting to feel the pressure. The last (and first) dress I made her was when she was about 9 months old, but it didn’t go over her head so I think this experience had put me off a bit making her anything again, but it felt like it might be a good time to put the past behind me. I got her to pick out some fabric she liked when were last shopping, and despite her normally going for anything flowery or pink, she chose a blue fabric with white hearts which I thought was a good choice and was a bit of extra motivation for me.

a little bit of pattern cutting

Rich was out yesterday evening and so to give me a bit of time he took her out in the day and I really got a lot done. I found pattern cutting for children was a very much simpler and quicker process than for women’s wear. The shapes are simpler, and the pieces are smaller. I managed to not only draw the pieces but also cut them out in quite a short space of time! Triumph! (To make my pattern I referred to this book by Winifred Aldrich which sets out step by step how to draw a block and then adapt this into a pattern. I did do some evening classes on pattern cutting which helped me get my head around the process, which I think is actually the biggest challenge of all! But it’s easy when you know how – grand skills.)

a little bit of pinninga little bit of cutting out

As I was on a roll, I decided why not make a start on the sewing too, and managed to put this little gem together in about half an hour… The bodice part is fully lined so that really just involved sewing around the edge and turning inside out, which I think was actually a much better plan than dealing with facings, even though lining it sounds like more work. The skirt is just a very simple shaped and slightly gathered piece and sewed on very easily too. It took me much longer to finish off all the finishing off bits (and made a bit of a mess with my poppers and buttons really) but I am really encouraged now that making dresses for Rose isn’t such a big chore.

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I left the little dress out over night and Rose was so excited to find it in the morning! She really loves it and she really looks great in it. I did use measurements for a slightly easy-fit shape (to really be sure it would go over her head!) and I really love the way it looks on her. It is always a little bit of a gamble with a new pattern but I think this one I got it in one!

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And today was perfect summer dress weather (and first bare leg day of the year). We spent all day at the beach. The sea was freezing, but Rose was undeterred! And when we got home I started some more cutting out for some special dresses we need for a special event next month.. I hope I can keep up this sewing momentum a little while longer.

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And hope you had a lovely sunny weekend too.

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Woolapple woodland wandering

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Today’s adventure was a trip to Stanmer Park to see the bluebell woods. Unfortunately we didn’t find the bluebells – I think they were up a bit of a steep path, but I’m not really at all sure where they were, so there might be a part 2 to this adventure where we go back after having done a bit of research- but we really had a very lovely time even without bluebells. Rose enjoyed walking through the trees and finding bugs and sticks (although she was very sad that we didn’t see any squirrels)

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After our walk in the wood we stopped for a scone at the cafe in the house, then walked back through the park, with a long pitstop while Rose played under a tree. It was all a little bit too lovely. After all the walking we thought we would be in trouble with a very tired toddler on the train home, but even this journey was tranquil. What a wonderful day! And tomorrow is a bank holiday. Hooray hooray! I am happy today.

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I have been a bit quiet here on my blog but I am just working my hardest to finish a big knit at the moment! And doing a little bit of dressmaking for Rose and me as we are in great need of dresses. It’s hard to keep up with everything at the moment. But see you soon. Yes.

And happy weekend!

 

Making doughnuts to cheer us up

It has been a bit of a stressful time for us around here this last week, and over the weekend I had the biggest urge to make some doughnuts! A real treat.

I thought they were going to be difficult and was really worried about the deep frying part because I’ve never done that before – but actually they were quite straightforward and the frying didn’t feel as dangerous as I had feared!

mmm the doughnuts

i n g r e d i e n t s :

  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 150ml warm milk
  • 225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ¼ tsp salt (optional)
  • 50g melted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 300ml vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • Jam

m e t h o d :

Start by measuring out 2tbsp of your warm milk and add your yeast and half a tsp of sugar. Leave for the yeast to foam up and go frothy- about 15 minutes is right.

Add the salt and a tablespoon of sugar to your flour. Make a well in the flour and add the frothy yeast, the rest of the milk, the melted butter and the egg. Mix together and knead to form a soft dough. Place in your bowl, cover and leave to rise for about 45 minutes.

Knead your dough once again and then divide up into 12 little dough balls. Leave to rise again for about half an hour (or until they have doubled in size)

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Heat your oil in a pan with deep sides until it reaches 190C, or if (like me) you don’t have a suitable thermometer, until a little piece of bread sizzles and toasts in about 30 seconds. (CAUTION: be really careful with the hot oil – don’t leave it unattended)

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Place your dough balls one at a time into the hot oil, in batches of two or three, and fry for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown, then turn them over. Take them out and place on kitchen towel to help soak up the oil.

While they are still warm, roll your doughnuts in the rest of the sugar. I used a piping bag full of jam to fill my doughnuts too, but you could always use a knife to make a slit and fill with a spoon.

DSC0rolling the doughnuts in sugarpiping the jam into the doughnuts

They were so delicious – and really tasted like doughnuts – the dough was so rich and tasty. Straight after frying I thought they looked a bit over baked on the outside, but they softened up and soaked up the sugar – they were so nice – we ate them all!

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Parklife, country life

Today we enjoyed a little bus ride and went along to the big parks project park in Peacehaven.

We really like this one – it’s such a wonder. We haven’t really had a proper explore because Rose is a bit little for a lot of the park, but the toddler area has some lovely things -little climbing rocks, lovely natural wicker tunnels, and a pretty treehouse. One thing we found very amusing was a little trail of bricks in the grass that led us round and round in circles.

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In the big park there is a wonderful looking acorn tree house, and some most amazing looking swings. Everything is lovely and wooden and it’s a nice place to be.

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Last week was really quiet at work as it was still the Easter holidays, so I found myself binging on radio 4 to keep me company and am now a bit hooked. I had seen in the news there was a bit of a gripping storyline happening in The Archers and as I do love a soap opera, I started as far back as iplayer would allow me and am completely sucked in now. I have been getting the podcast to listen to while I’m cooking. A nice daily dose of country life (and DRAMA!!!!). I subscribed to Women’s Hour while I was there too which has been nice with my knitting at bedtime (grandma!) I am really enjoying the radio at the moment, especially because it has had a wonderful effect of making me switch off my screens, and I feel I am much less interested in them at other times too – I think a habit is broken – I am very happy with this effect. I tried to get Rose involved with the Sarah and Duck podcast but she was just a little bit confused at the moment.

I hope you have had a good week too.