Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A sprig im by steb.

I hab a cold.  Uuuugh.  My nose is stuffed, my throat is ticklish, and I feel like my brain is stuffed with cotton wool. 

It started with a migraine on Saturday evening, which was so severe I thought I was going to lose my lunch.  I decided that, seeing as I was still feeling poorly on Sunday morning, I would have to miss out on my trip to Wonderwool Wales - it would have been a 2 hour drive each way across some pretty empty countryside, and with Little B (as I'm still feeding her) it would have been too much of a risk.  !Sigh!  I have being sensible sometimes.  Hubby has been kind to me for the last couple of mornings, taking Madam to school so I could have a little extra rest, and I'm glad that Little B doesn't seem to be feeling poorly too.

So, whilst feeling pretty yuk, I've been trying to get the house back in order following our holiday.  I'm on top of the laundry (sort-of), and the dishes are getting cleaned, but there are still things in bags that I ought to have put away.  The home-made dolls house that Madam and I started is gradually burying itself under a pile of cardboard boxes, and there is an Easter egg backlog which I'm doing my darnedest to get through.  Drat that chocolate.  It'd be cruel to force Madam to deal with it all herself.

The saga of the home improvements is still rumbling on - after they tried to convince me I didn't want a studio (because they didn't want to convert my garage) and that I ought to just have some new windows and a conservatory instead, I finally gave company #1 the boot.  Company #2's representative has been poorly, but has promised a detailed quote by the end of this week.  Company #3 never got back to me so I assume they don't want the job either.  One of my neighbours runs a construction company, and they recently did some work on their own roof, so I've asked them to come and fix ours - the concrete under the edge tiles of my roof has been degrading and dropping out, so that just needs doing - and they have a contact who is going to come and look at my garage for me, so I might just manage to get two quotes to choose from.  At some point.  Eventually.  I had thought that this recession we're supposed to be having would have made people keener to find work!

The sun is shining though, and the bluebells are arriving in the forest around our village.  Little B is sitting up and playing happily . . . I really ought to go get that laundry out of the washing machine . . .

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

There and back again . . . and there too and back again, again!

Aaaah holidays!  Y'know, you get time off and relax with friends and family . . . or at least you do once you've gotten yourself there . . .

I've been away twice over the Easter break, first to Northern Ireland to visit my family, and then to Cornwall to catch up with some good friends.  It's been lovely, but GOSH, why is everything so far away and different-directiony?

Ahead of the Easter break, Hubby's employer changed (different company took over the contract, same work ends up being done by the same people), so to be sure of getting the holiday days we wanted he booked off the whole 2 week period when Madam would be off school.  We had planned that once we'd managed to get the travel details together, he'd trim his days off accordingly, but we booked the Wednesday overnight crossing on the Birkenhead - Belfast ferry, returning on the daytime Wednesday crossing the next week . . . and then we arranged to visit Cornwall from the Thursday after that till Easter Monday, so it ended up that actually the whole two weeks was a reasonable amount of time to take.

The first day of travelling was a nightmare.  I'm guessing that whoever is in charge of motorway maintenance has been given a time limit to use up their budget or something, but we were totally unprepared for the number of different sets of roadworks between Gloucestershire and Liverpool.  The journey ought to have taken us 3 hours - check-in for the boat closed at 9.30pm so we left the house at 4pm.  We did have a brief stop for dinner, but we just barely made it.  The ferry company phoned us at 9 o'clock to check we were still coming!  Luckily we were on the last (and mercifully clear and roadwork-free) section of motorway, so we could reassure them that we'd be there soon.  We got there at 9.35, and once we got our tickets we were waved straight to the end of the queue of cars which was already moving towards to boat.

I do love that you get your room keys at the docks now - we walked straight from car deck 6 into the deck 6 family cabin, and straight into bed.  If Madam hadn't continued to bounce off the walls for the next couple of hours it'd have been ideal!  But we managed, finally, to sleep.

From Belfast docks to my Parents' house is no distance, and the week there was lovely.  Madam played well and often with her cousins, Little B was tolerant of being passed around various relatives and friends, Hubby and I managed a rare night out (Granny was very brave, babysitting all four of her grandkids at once), and photos were taken of the whole family by the guy who did our wedding photos.  I'm looking forwards to getting copies of those!

The daytime journey back to Birkenhead was pretty calm weather-wise.  Hubby is not a good sailor, so he had a brief wander around the boat to begin with, then he claimed one of the beds and did his best to not feel ill.  His strategy was not a brilliant success, poor thing, and we were glad once again to have a cabin with it's own bathroom.  In the meantime, Madam, Little B and I went a-wandering and managed to get ourselves a meal.  Did you know that, if you offer a 6-month-old a cooked baby carrot, she won't chew gently on the end?  Nuh-huh.  She'll suck that whole doozer in, in one go.  Don't worry though - after a LONG 3 seconds of choking-face, she'll probably cough the whole thing out again, leaving you feeling like a bad parent on the verge of a heart attack whilst she gurgles away as if nothing went wrong.

Driving home through the roadworks, in the opposite direction in the dark, was no problem at all.  We slept, we laundered, we re-packed, and by 5pm on Thursday we were on our way again, this time to visit some good friends who (very conveniently for us) live near Fowey.

Our second holiday was much more laid-back than the Northern Ireland trip.  We had a couple of lie-ins, bought Little B a second sleeping bag (guess what we forgot to re-pack), and were treated to some marvellous home cooking.  Unfortunately, during a trip to Cornish Market World (seriously, it has to be seen to be believed) on Saturday, Madam started to feel ill.  She had a headache and a temperature, and what turned out to be some sort of upset-tummy bug . . . which, we're now suspecting might have also been the cause of Hubby's being ill on the boat (he usually feels seasick, but isn't often actually throw-uppy) . . . so after a less restful night, on Sunday morning we decided to cut our trip short and head home that evening.  This turned out to be a Very Good Plan, as the roads were extremely quiet, and our journey home was quick and uneventful.

Of course once we were home, the central heating refused to switch on.  !sigh!  Our regular repair guy was due to service the boiler next week anyway, but he managed to get to us early on Tuesday morning.  Apparently it's not going to be an easy fix, and he's got to order some parts, but hey!  At least the drone of the fan heater sends Little B to sleep!

We were supposed to be watching our friends' copy of The Desolation of Smaug after dinner on Sunday . . . looks like I might just have to buy the blu-ray for myself now.  Shame, that.  (snigger)

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The snip.

I love cutting my own hair.  LOVE IT!!  It gives me an immense feeling of satisfaction, that I can take a pair of scissors and just sort that bloomin' problem out without having to fuss with appointments and salons, for NO MONEY AT ALL!

Every part of the process is fun - I stand at the mirror in the bathroom, feeling like the girly heroine in a film who has suddenly realised that her worth is no longer tied to her looks.  You know the bit, when she gets angry, or she's had a tragedy, or maybe she's being hunted and she needs to change her looks, and so she takes things into her own hands and hacks off her locks.  Granted, it's more often a knife or some huge dressmaking scissors, rather than the hairdressing scissors which came with the clippers I bought to cut my Hubby's hair . . . there is such a thing as taking things too far!  So I start at the front, pulling my wet hair down to straighten out the curls, and I take maybe 3 inches off all over.  It needs to be a little shorter at the front to allow the curls to bounce up by my face, and longer in the back. 

My hair is fine and naturally frizzy (I use a dry oil from The Body Shop to get the curls to hold together) so cutting it blunt rather than layered suits best, and if it's loose the curls hide any small mistakes.  I usually wear it pulled back in a pony tail at the moment to keep it out of Little B's way, so of course then it doesn't matter at all if I've messed it up . . . but the thing is, mostly I don't.  I pull it a couple of different directions once the bulk has been trimmed to make sure there aren't any long stragglers, and I check that I haven't made one side of my head longer than the other, but it's really not that tricky!

Today I was distracted by an unscheduled nappy change, and Madam, who stood in the bathroom doorway repeating variations on the same question for the duration . . . so I inadvertently cut a little more off than usual.  So now I'm sporting a nice brushing-the-shoulder-length hairdo.  Just like "Baby" from Dirty Dancing, except maybe a little grayer.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

To add a little sparkle!

I finished crocheting my lovely sparkly shawl a week or so ago, but it's taken me this long to manage to get it blocked and photographed - stretching it out with a bazillion pins long enough for it to dry is tricky with two wee ones in the house!

So here it is finished:

It needed blocking - which is washing, and then pinning out the item whilst wet in order to even out any tension in the fabric, and in this case to accentuate the points of each hexagon and to open out the lacyness of the pattern.  So I washed it with gentle shampoo, put a little conditioner in the rinsing water (fabric or hair, it doesn't matter!) and rolled it in a towel to get most of the moisture out - it only needs to be slightly damp.  Here it is pinned out to block, note the dodgy rearrangement of the foam jigsaw - I could really do with a larger one:

I lied, not a bazillion pins, but 124 I think.  It was every pin I had, plus a couple of sewing needles too.  Some day soon I'm going to try to get some blocking wires - I've heard that you can use "welding rods", but I've neither seen nor heard of these for sale . . . but then I've never asked either!  I intend to investigate!  It needed to sit there until it was dry.

And in action - traditional:

and bandito style:


I love the circular pattern formed by the holes around each motif - the blocking really improved that, and made the whole thing relax and drape so much better.  I LOVE blocking!  Well, to be fair I love the effects of blocking - actually finding the time and space to pin the whole thing out can be a bit of a bugger - but it's so worth it!

So to recap from my previous post - this is motif 38 from Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs by Edie Eckman, made from two balls of  rico creative reflection yarn in pastel using a 5mm crochet hook.  I started with the center, back of the neck hexagon (the dark purple one), then made the five in an arc around that one, then eleven in a larger arc around that, and then thirteen around the outside edge.  They were joined as I went, by slip-stitching into the corresponding chain spaces and picot stitches on the neighbouring hexagons.

I'm so pleased with my new shawl!  I don't often make something so frivolous for myself, but the colours and the sparkle are just the ticket to lift my mood through the last of the chilly weather.