23 July 2014

Daybook of the Colourful Ordinary

Outside my window the willow tree is in full summer leaf and the apple tree is heavy with fruit. I can see the bright blue of the sky from here, latticed with the rippling irregular sunkissed greens and fine kinked grey-browns of the highest branches.

I am thinking about how to stretch our money far enough to go to London again soon... about amphibians and whether there are newts in any of the ponds we like to visit (because Rowan wants to see one)... of colour combinations and yarn designs (as always)... and also whether Talia is asleep enough for me to slip away and start cooking tea. My head is full of competing thoughts!

I am thankful for rose petals, my garden growing beautifully, coloured silks strewn on the floor, time for writing and contemplating, encouragement to be the best parent I can be, fresh bread, and music.

In the kitchen the huge yarn-soaking tubs are taking up every working surface right now, and a LOT of gorgeous yarn is hanging in the sink draining a little before I squeeze out any remaining damp and hang it outside. Yarn Club underway! The oven is preheating for a roast dinner. And rosemary soda bread is all ready to be baked.

I am wearing a plain blue tshirt and purpley magenta yoga trousers with a folded waistband. My rainbow amber necklace from the lovely Beads for Mamas. Bare feet, black-soled from padding about my lovely wild overgrown garden. Hair pulled back as usual, out of my face and out of my way. I prefer it down, but it annoys me so much making my face feel sticky and my head feel weighed down - I am one of these impatient people who loves having long hair and yet periodically gets sick of it being "in the way" and cuts it all of to a short quick cut-it-myself bob.

I am creating colourful hand-dye. I have some springy yellow merino on the spinning wheel which I haven't paid attention to in weeks. And I'm finally getting back to knitting Jenna's grey sparkly Low Tide again (slowly).

I am going to Hobbits and Elves playdate tomorrow, all being well - with cardboard boxes for the children to build with on the park.

I am reading Ladies of Grace Adeiu on the tablet, in short bursts - I love collections of essays and short stories when I'm tired and struggling for air. I haven't felt like reading much this week, but the therapeutic knitting has been prolific!

I am looking forward to seeing Ash's new flat and maybe helping her move house. It is SO exciting to have her living nearby again, I am really thrilled that it's so close now!

I am learning how to make better bread. It has been a long while since I was making bread for the family regularly, and I am badly out of practice. It's wonderful to start to feel closer to the food we eat again.

One of my favourite things is rainbow coloured bunting all over the house.

A peek into my day (oh, yeah, and I have no idea how they managed to decapitate a toothbrush!):
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Just a LOT of knitting

I have done, um, quite a bit of knitting since I last joined in with Yarn Along. There's nothing on my needles right now, but only because I just cast off about four things.
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But my favourite recent project has to be the Chalice baby blanket (which admittedly was only really my favourite AFTER I realised that I needed to put in life lines a LOT more frequently than once per repeat - oops):
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19 July 2014

Seven Days of the Ups and Downs of Life

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1. Jenna keeps making little journals for Talia
2. Eye-toy play in pjs
3. "I made myself a sleeping mask!"
4. Kid-made cheese and onion tart
5. Kerplunk
6. Stampy-inspired art by Morgan
7. Stacking things and piles of silks

The house is a mess, but the kids are busy and contented. Rowan is feeling really rough with an infection after scratching some of her eczema until it bled, but the lovely NHS nurse who saw us yesterday was so reassuring and kind and really calmed my anxiety. I am feeling very low, yet I am supported by friends near and far who are helping us get through. Still here! Our week has had its highs and lows, and mainly I am trying to simplify a bit - and basically working on putting one foot in front of the other.

18 July 2014

Circle Time on Mama's Bed

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Rainbows and cuteness. Could they be any lovelier? Jenna has been persuading the little ones to have a Circle Time with her almost every day, lately. They do a different set of songs every day, but they have particular favourites.

"Mix the batter, stir the batter, shake some flour in
Mix the batter, stir the batter, pop it in a tin
Sprinkle on the raisins, put it in to bake
Open up the oven, and out comes CAKE!"

Talia loves, "Wind the Bobbin Up." Just like her sisters adored repeating it over and over at a similar age. Everything changes, nothing changes, the same joys come back around. :)

17 July 2014

More things to do with food colouring

Some food dyes left over from silk dyeing workshop (and tutorial)... So, well, let's just make things go fizzz. Why not? :)
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Happy Rowan!

14 July 2014

A quick and easy silk project (that *anyone* can dye)

Eek, folks might start thinking I'm actually *reliable* or something... ;) Yes, just a couple of days later, and I am providing the tutorial I suggested I "might" get around to!

Suitable for anyone over the age of about one year (ie any toddler who can pour liquids from one container to another can do it - even if they spill), and you can use your own tablewear. The only thing you will need to buy specially is an undyed silk scarf from a craft store or online specialist (I recommend rainbowsilks.co.uk). Oh, and food colouring, if you are like me and have a cupboard full of baking ingredients up to and including freeze-dried raspberries and edible glitter but never seem to have any food dyes...

Set up: One small cereal bowl. One small glass. Two shot glasses or small ramekins or similar. White vinegar. Food colouring in two primary colours (these MUST NOT be "natural" food colouring, as many will not work as dye - alternatively you could use half a sachet of kool-aid in place of each food colouring, dilute sparingly with water). You will also need either a standard saucepan or a microwave to set your colour.
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Put vinegar into the cup, and food colouring in the shot glasses.

First, take your silk and shake it out by a corner to see how big it is. This one is 90 by 90cm. (Yes, I borrowed this kid, she isn't one of mine!)
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Then scrunch it up into a tiny ball and push it down into the bowl. It won't fit!

Let your child add the small cup full of vinegar to the silk and push down with their fingers until the whole silk is wet.
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Add a teeny bit of water or vinegar to dilute the food colouring in the shot glasses if you want. The less you add, the more concentrated the colour you will get, but the more mottled the silk will be because the water helps it spread out. Give these to your small assistant to pour wherever they like (hopefully mainly on the silk).
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Take your bowl to the microwave and count to sixty as it cooks. Alternatively, lift the disk of silk very carefully into a clean pan and cook for about two minutes (don't let it dry out or it will burn)!
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Tip the silk into the sink and run a little cold water onto it before touching (it will be hot!) and rinse. Hang out to dry. Tadaa!
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NOTES: this tutorial produces generally light-coloured mottled silks; the more food colouring you use, the brighter you will get! I recommend primary colours because it is impossible to use only two and still get brown, and my children are experts at mixing brown (paint, dye, you name it). Gel food colourings give brighter shades than liquid but either are fine, just remember to dilute your gel. Silks will be colourfast, but not lightfast in the long term, so avoid lengthy exposure to bright sunlight (or simply re-dye every year until your silk wears out)!

Remember to keep silk play away from open flame, and supervise children when playing as a tightly knotted silk is a strangulation risk. Use silks for dance, dressing up, running around in summer breezes, setting up story scenes and landscapes for creative play, doll blankets, bandages when playing hospitals/vets, and seasonal displays. (And you will most likely think up many more uses, too.)

13 July 2014

Show and Tell

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1. Post-show Morgan
2. Moon
3. Colour wheel
4. Outdoor sisters
5. Grandma
6. Knitting
7. Tali ("Kitty lie down me kitchen!" Also, she totally has a little chocolatey beard from "helping" to make truffles. The baby, not the cat.)

Yes, not really over seven days, just a sample of our week. :)

11 July 2014

Hobbits Play Date

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(That's Talia's head in the corner, not my thumb. ;) )

It feels like a lot of work not to hide away and do nothing, but the Summer is still calling us! I did a quick silk workshop for Hobbits Playgroup, not many toddlers to play this week, but they made some pretty playsilks with food colouring. If I find the energy, I'll throw a tutorial together some day.

In some ways everything is a little lighter. I have been remembering to write a list of positive things every day, apart from that I am plodding on with ordinary attempts at getting to the bottom of laundry mountain... reading lots of stories to my book-obsessed Talia... hearing a fair bit of Stampy's commentary in the background as the bigger kids continue to enjoy all things Minecraft... sweeping popcorn and grit and sandwich crusts and little bits of paper off the kitchen floor... remembering to keep breathing.

9 July 2014

Adventures: Heights of Abraham

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Another terrifying and magical adventure by train: into the Peak District, just as far as Matlock Bath. The journey there was so quick and easy, just a short hop on the train really, and such beautiful views all the way. I love taking the train up into Derbyshire. :)

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Impatient and anxious by turns, the children waited eagerly for their ride up to the top. Talia amused herself collecting handfuls of gravel from the flower bed, and we quietly put it all back when she lost interest. Jenna squealed a lot - she is a little nervous about heights but loves new experiences and overcoming her fears.

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Before we even visited any of the exhibitions, cave tours, visitor centres, or play areas, we had to stop and spot the tiny fish in this pond:

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"I might see a newt!" Rowan declared. No newts that we could find, but a lot of tadpoles - some just starting to get their back legs. "OH NO! What happened! THAT can't be in there!" (Rowan again, panicking somewhat as she pointed out a snail.)
"It's OK baby, that's a pond snail, it's fine."
"But snails are LAND creatures."
"Some are, and some like water. These ones live in water!"

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We took the cave tours. Talia *bounced* in the sling down every single step (and there are a lot of steps). I wasn't very impressed, it hurt! We all enjoyed the mines, though. Just my poor back might take a few days to recover fully...

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(No, she isn't about to jump - she's actually throwing tiny pebbles with all her toddler might.)

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Jenna examined a lot of the beautiful wild flowers and plants we passed. We saw displays of arial photographs of Derbyshire landmarks. Watched a film about the history of lead mining in the area. And another about how the landscape of this region has been shaped over millions of years. (And in one gift shop, had a discussion about the chakras and why rainbow semi-precious bracelets were "chakra balancing". Jenna eventually bought two little crystals which were claimed to glow when tapped together, but don't seem to. She debated for a while: "It sounds like a con, but I really want to find out and I can't be sure without buying them!")

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At the big play park, it really hammered it down with cold rain and we all got soaked through. Apparently that just made the huge slides even more exciting and fast. Talia *loves* climbing frames and slides aimed at much older children, although they make my heart lurch a little (my baby! so far down!). What a wonderful slide. My favourite play area as a child has a slide a bit like this (but not quite as huge) and my own children still love it.

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Cable car, train, then taxi home - almost too tired to keep our eyes open!

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