::Food fest at our house::

I love summer food. A food fest. Salad, coleslaw, especially red cabbage coleslaw, and lots and lots of lovely juicy fruit salads. Then there are the savoury salads, oh my! Avocado, walnut and peach – yum yum. Feeling inspired to try a new salad courtesy of my blogland friend Loopy, I decided to team it with some homemade pizzas too. Here is the post that set me off on this food fest at our house extravaganza.

20140805_185434Look I made it- however I didn’t have pumpkin seeds so I used toasted walnut pieces instead and I used cider vinegar (not as sweet or sugary). It was yummy. Hmmm… but what to have with it? A good fest needs to have … more food!  So I started some gluten free bread in the bread maker – I know cheating but I was busy packing for my holiday and writing this post!

I used 450g of gluten free bread flour,  270ml of warm water, pinch of salt, 1 yeast sachet, 1 teaspoon of sugar, knob of butter and that was it.

If not using a bread maker then mix and combine, and once mixed put in a warm bowl and cover with cling film for about 1 1/2 hours. then knead it until soft and forgiving. I used it to make two bases by rolling it out. I covered two large baking trays and then left them for about 15 mins whilst I did the rest.

20140805_184047I fried off some red onion and some portobello mushrooms which were not going to last a three week holiday, no they weren’t. Added garlic to some chopped tomatoes and whizzed them up to make a tomato sauce for the base.

20140805_184100This one had the tomato base, the onion and mushroom mixture, olives, and some ricotta cheese blobs. I added the rest of the grated cheddar towards the end.20140805_191900Then I made one for the boys with plain pepperoni, ham and cheddar- they don’t do olives and ricotta!20140805_190335

It was all so very delicious and food fest like. So a blogland friends post about her well-being and recipes turned into a food fest at our house! Oh how lovely it all was, and there is even a bit left over for lunch tomorrow. Hmmm… what to have then- I’ll be checking with Loopy to see if she has anymore ideas!

 

::That holiday feeling::

I’m feeling refreshed and beginning to get that holiday feeling now: the one just before we go away. We’re preparing for a three week holiday in France- yes, that’s right three weeks! I am so happy to be rested and ready with my holiday feeling just about peaking ready for the off.

poncho edgeOver the last few weeks I have completed many projects that have prepared me for that holiday feeling and in readiness for the new term in September. Here are a few peeks.

20140726_21153920140726_230441Oh those ends, they always take ages and I dread starting them but it looks so much better once they’re done. This is just a sneaky peak at my completed Poncho- I’m taking it to France to photograph in the beautiful and abundant sunflower fields surrounding the house we will be staying at (once we’ve left Paris!) I think having spent  months on this project and taking so much care and attention of it that it’s only right for me to do it justice in a proper photo shoot! YaY! I do looooove this project so much- it really does make my heart sing just to look at it and feel it’s glorious textures! Ahhhhhhhh… (sighs wistfully).poncho finishingI’m hoping that I’ll be able to wear my poncho on those dusky, sunset evenings when it is feeling a little chilly in the air. Oh happy holiday! Next there was the arrival of some beautiful Drops Muskat cotton- well I had ordered it so it was expected. But how soft, luscious and lovely this yarn is – waiting to be whipped up into some beautiful blankets and cushions me thinks!

muskatThen there was the completing of my classroom- having moved classrooms again. This is a huge job, files, resources, relabelling drawers (which my amazing class partner K will do this time) and then the reorganising, re-theming and sorting out of everything from bookshelves to backing paper. As we’re doing a terms topic on The Victorians, we decided to go with a Sherlock theme for the first half term (and a Charles Dickens one for the next half when we do Oliver Twist). Also a bit of a school room feel. What do you think?20140804_13003420140804_130055

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And then there are my garden projects. I’ve never been able to grow Clematis before, they’ve always wilted, dried up, died or just never done anything. But look..

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A proper flower and seed head! I love how this looks so spiky but it’s actually really soft and fluffy! Then there are my geraniums and nasturtiums ditto for them too- it must be the weather we’ve had this year. I know, back in June,  when I see summer blooms that the holidays are not far around the corner.

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So we are getting packed and ready to load up the roof box, pack those bags (including suncream and aftersun, of course), crank up the bike rack and of course the crochet bag. I’ll be working on my kaleidoscope blanket whilst I’m away- lots to catch up on and it’s quite portable and not so big and warm to sit under! Hey ho! That holiday feeling- ready, steady, we’re off!

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::P, P, Pick up a poncho – again ::

10500531_830857983600104_1603038425053066168_nOk, it’s a work in progress, a WIP as they say. It remains in progress, but my poncho is getting more and more beautiful and colourful as it grows. And it’s nearly there. I keep on p, p, picking up that poncho!10325347_829597540392815_7396260218902141198_nBut then I put it down as something else takes over. My Ripple stitch blanket was the most recent distraction. 20140713_18473510389357_822150724470830_4787128616661467355_nThen there will be my Kaleidoscope CAL blanket again. They seem to do triangular rotation, depending on my mood, time and inclination.20140510_09444220140531_163331k blanketNow back to the poncho again. You may remember how it started back at the beginning of the year.CAM00183The beautiful yarn I purchased from Deramores, gorgeous Cascade Peruvian wool, very apt indeed considering the inspiration.

5a872-6a0192aab0192b970d01a73d7c9d4b970d-pi20140420_190606Then there was the starting off, and the pulling out, the frogging, the restart and then the progress.20140513_20015420140525_082255It will give me great pleasure to wear my poncho on our French holiday when we arrive at the Farmhouse we are borrowing from a colleague. We have been before, three times, and it ‘s almost like having a family holiday home. I’ll tell you about it soon, but for now it’s time to concentrate on the Poncho, to get it finished for my cool French evenings with my local wine, cheese and some amazing bread. I’ll enjoy wearing it for evening sunset walks – when I get it finished! Need to keep on p, p, picking up my poncho!poncho 1

::Moving on:

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It is always with a mixture of emotions that I approach the end of the school term as a Deputy Head teacher, a year 6 class teacher, a parent and just as me! In all aspects moving on is a key theme.

The changes happening within school, moving classrooms for September, moving files, records and handing over to the next teacher, transition for the children, the emotional last few weeks for the year 6 children as they begin their moving on journey mentally for secondary school, all bring their stresses, strains and emotional roller coasters. Especially in this hot and humid weather!

20140531_142114In addition there are my sons own transitional journeys: one moving back home from first year at university and the entering of his final GCSE year for my youngest. And then there is me. The ending of another year brings home the knowledge that I know I have made a difference to the children in my school, class and my boys; their outlooks, self-belief, confidence and resilience to move onto new challenges. Moving on confidently is the aim in every sense. I believe I achieved it.

I spent Friday, our last day of term, in a parallel world. On the one hand I marvelled in the joy and knowledge that the year 6 children have the ability to put together a leaver’s assembly that represents their journey through our changing school. The reminiscing, laughing, crying and togetherness of a shared journey through their childhood, supported by dedicated staff, challenged by their peers. I continue to learn from them. It was wonderful to drink in the amazement, wonder and pleasure they had in this their final event in our school. It brought them a mixture of emotions: some they couldn’t contain. Those recent, quiet moments at home, spending a little bit of time on myself, have helped me to get through.

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But on the other hand, I also spent Friday consoling, reassuring and sharing, time, hugs and experiences with the children who have been a huge part of my life this year. This was a special year group for me – they were my first Reception class in this school seven years ago and it has been such a privilege to watch these young people grow over the years, from curious, exploring, exuberant infants to confident, open-minded, responsible juniors. I am extremely proud of every one of them.

Now I say changing school, because we also had the challenge of Ofsted this week. Yes the last week of term. It was both unexpected at this late stage and also a blessing in disguise – I no longer have to worry over the summer about a first week Ofsted in September. It is done and dusted. It went well. We have all worked so very hard. I am so very, very tired. I have spent my evenings snuggled under my growing ripple stitch blanket trying to stay awake to communicate with my family!

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Moving on for me over the next few weeks involves a substantial amount of rest. Sharing my life with a large primary school is a huge commitment for me and my family: their patience and understanding are what gets me through the months, weeks, days and hours that I spend in this highly intensive, challenging and immensely rewarding job. I love my job. It is a privilege.

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My many craft, crochet, baking and sewing projects will help me along. I will be spending lots of time with my family: holidaying in France (Ulcot actually- here on the map and below in the picture), walking up fells, lazy days at home, and we’ll be sharing experiences, laughs, love, kindness, challenges and time.

beckermondsThe surrounding sunflower fields of our holiday destination.

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Then there are my copious gifts. Many, many beautiful and generous gifts from children in the school, not just my class. But also colleagues.

20140720_111154This one just about sums it up. Its a beautiful vase from my colleague by Rob Ryan and it reads, ‘There is no such thing as spare time. There is no such thing as work time. There is no such thing as quality time. There is no such thing as free time. There is no such thing as down time. There is only time.’

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Over the summer months, I will be preparing my boys for their next journey through life, moving onto pastures new. A new shared flat for E as he enters his second university year and the final year of GCSE for Little J (although he will be JP from now on- he is much taller than me!) He has many ideas, hopes and dreams for his future yet to unfold and it never ceases to astound me how much I admire my two offspring. It catches me unawares sometimes and I have to take a moment to compose myself as it overwhelms me. As new parents J and I always joked that our babies didn’t come with a manual, we would always do what felt right for us, they would be treated as individuals and although we would make mistakes as parents, we would make them together and with the very best intentions, always. They are so very different, yet so similar! ( I pinched the eye idea from Lucy@Attic24).

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In our summer of moving on, I couldn’t be more filled with pride, love, joy and delight at my wonderful sons. I don’t mind saying, I feel we have done an awesome job so far. My heart is full and overflowing; it swells every time I think of the independent individuals our boys have become. As a Mum, I am also moving on.

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:: Ripple all the way::

20140713_173815I know, I know you wait weeks for a post and then two come along within a short space of time!! But, I am so enjoying my ripple stitch summer blanket at the moment- it really is relaxing, the repetition of the ripples forming a lovely little rhythm. I have had a rare afternoon of snugglery on the sofa rippling all the way. Blissful.

20140713_183435I’m also enjoying being random, but still not quite random. I know that doesn’t make any sense at all. Let me explain. I have my big bag of style craft colours and I choose three that compliment each other, then I work them in making sure I do a double row of treble stitches  and two single rows of treble stitches of each colour. Every 8 rows or so I add a single treble stripe of plum, then off I go again with the stripes. That’s as much pattern repeat as it gets. It really is random colours for my ripple all the way!20140713_184812I decided to call it Summer Ripple Blanket because of the array of beautiful summer ice-cream and sunshine colours. It’s going to live happily in Doris caravan ands it was essential that it had a summery feel to it.20140713_184722I do love it so.20140713_184838Now for the folded shots, lets pose, left, right, work that ripple! Oh Yeah!20140713_184920

20140712_122708And… here is a little bit of help for those wanting to give it a try. I’m not great with the diagram malarchy but I hope it helps. For the treble together are when you get through the first loop stage of your treble and hold it on your hook whilst you get to the next stage with the following stitch (3 loops on your hook) then you pull the yarn through them all. It gives you a ‘v’ shape which forms the trough of your ripple. The two treble stitches into the same loop give you the ‘peak’ or upside down ‘v’ at the other end. It really doesn’t matter how many trebles you have in between, I have 4 on each side of the peaks and troughs, as long as they are equal. The multiples for your foundation chain will need to be even – the number of chains in the side parts (mine is 4) then 6 additional for the peaks and troughs, then 3 for turning at the end. I measured the space I wanted mine to fit then did the fancy maths to figure out how many chains that would be based on my little sample of repeats. There is more detail for this in Lucy’s amazing post at Attic24 – she describes it so much better than me. happy ripple hooky. •∆•∆•∆•∆•∆•∆•∆•

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::Summer Ripple happy hooky::

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It has been a while since I last posted and so much has happened here in the Hayloft. At the end of the summer term it all goes a little crazy following SATs: there is the Year 6 performance, the Summer Fayre, performing Arts Evening, the leavers assembly and on top of all that we have the Australia day to celebrate all of our learning this term about Australia. In amongst all of that it has been difficult to have the energy to pick up my crochet hook, and when I found the going a little tricky with my Kaleidoscope blanket, it was my Summer Ripple blanket that I have turned to for some Summer Ripple hooky happiness.

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It all started in Doris Caravan in May when we went for a trip to Wasdale and I began my crochet ripple hooky journey. What an amazingly relaxing stitch it is, you just keep going on the little ripple roller coaster, changing colours as you go and it grows so quickly. I’m using style craft DK from The Wool warehouse and I treated myself to two of the Lucy Attic24 packs to make this blanket. I have added some lime yarn of my own, to add a bit of Zing! Lucy has now kindly solved that problem by having her own lime colour commissioned! Yay!

It started off quite random, but it has found a pattern all of it;s own and it has begun to take shape rather beautifully I think. What do you think? There has been outside in the glorious sunshine hooky.

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Also some cosy up on the sofa ripple hooky.

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I think I’ll make a quick tutorial for this pattern soon, when I get five minutes to draw it out and think about the words. In the meantime I’l keep on with my rippling, and hope to get to the end of term next week in one piece. Happy hooky everyone. :O)xxxxx

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::Liebster Award nomination- woohoo::

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I have been lucky enough to be nominated by Amanda at Amjaylou for a Leibster award. This is a fabulous idea; you can get to know a little bit about your favourite blogs and also to find new blogs. I love it!

So here are the answers to Amanda’s questions, some random facts about me – (steady now!) and my nominations for awards of blogs I love, love, love.

1. How many WIP’s do you have at the moment?
I currently have 3 wip’s that have actually been started, but many many more in my head! Cushion love, blanket love, and bunting for my new nephews bedroom is a must before christmas!

2. What are they?
I have my kaleidoscope blanket Cal from The Natural Dye Studio ( christmas present from my lovely Hubby) which is coming along nicely, but takes lots of 3mm hook size concentration!20140510_094442

My ripple blanket for Doris Caravan in style craft DK Attic24 pack – which is a great pick up and carry on project.CAM00359

My peruvian poncho in Cascade 220 – which is a joy at 5mm size chunky, fabulous colours and grows so quickly.20140526_094026

I’m currently catching up with the May section of my kaleidoscope blanket (yes I know we’re in June, hence the reason for catching up!)

3. Regarding days out what would be your idea of heaven?

I love to visit the seaside and collect shells, stones, sea-glass and just to breath in the salty fresh air. Lying on my back on a beautifully crocheted blanket, guessing the shapes of the clouds, with the warm sun an a gentle breeze. We live 20 mins away from the West Cumbria coast so it’s great on a Sunday morning to plod along the beach, collect the Sunday papers and sometimes have a cheeky ice-cream in the local shop!20140615_113954

4. What would be your idea of hell?
End to end football, cycling, rugby- or actually Golf. I cannot stand Golf! Having to go and watch it , a whole day or more of it (the TV is bad enough) would be absolutely awful! Yuck! Argh!

5. What book are you reading at the moment?
As a year 6 teacher, I am constantly looking for great inspiring rears for my class and to motivate my reluctant boy readers to get into a good book. I have just completed Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve ( it was fabulous) and I am currently reading The Knife of never letting go by Patrick Ness and I LoVe LoVe it. My favourite personal text favourites are Tess of the D’Urbervilles and anything else by Hardy. Carlos Luis Zafon’s The shadow of the Wind is a firm favourite as is The Book Thief.

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6. What is your favourite tipple? ( can include non-alcoholic!)

A Mojito Mocktail – complete with lime juice, elderflower cordial, soda and a secret non-alcoholic ingredient from a bistro I love in my nearby town.

7. What’s been the best holiday you’ve been on so far?
A few years ago we took the boys aged 15 and 11 to Barcelona- it was amazing. I had been before 20 years ago and desperately wanted my family to see this wonderful city. It didn’t disappoint and they all loved it too. The Sagrada Familia was still unfinished and just as spectacular as I remember. Gaudi has always been a design inspiration to me and I felt quite emotional revisiting these beautiful buildings, Parc Guell and the amazing mosaics. The boys were thrilled to visit the Football stadium. Later, we travelled by hire car to a quiet fishing village up the coast and holidayed there with the french and spanish holiday makers. It was wonderful. A close second was our family holiday in Rome and Pompeii last year. As you can see- I love architecture!

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8. What is your dream destination?
I really want to visit Sydney, Australia and walk along the harbour, visit the opera house and take in the sights before travelling up to Cairns to the rest Barrier reef. We’re hoping to go next year.

9. What would you put into Room 101?
Tin openers and garlic presses. They never last very long, always break down when you need them, and become worse than useless right at the wrong moment!

10. Do you have a favourite TV chef?
I don’t have one chef that I like in particular- they all get a bit samey after a while I feel. But I do absolutely love watching MasterChef- the normal ones not the celebrities or the chefs one. Also, I’m a real Saturday Morning Kitchen fan- I rarely miss it.

11. What is your all-time favourite cake?
It has to be a good old fashioned lemon cheesecake- it just can’t be beaten. My mum makes an amazing cheesecake with preserved lemons chopped up into the creamy mixture and it has chocolate digestives for the base. It is divine!! (Note to self- get the recipe from my mum!)

Now to the 11 random facts about myself.
1.I am a trained textile designer and worked as a textile designer for The Burton Group before my children were born.
2. I play the cello and all three descant, treble and tenor recorders.
3. I love tulips- very, very, very much.
4. My favourite chocolate is Green and Blacks 75% dark- closely followed by Lindt salted caramel.
5. I run- and completed The Cumbrian Run in 2011 a long 13.1 miles in 2hrs. Very proud.
6. I have raised just under £5000 for Cancer Research in the last 4 years.
7. I have cycled the Coast to Coast cycle route- 142 miles in 3 days.
8. I have been a teacher for 10 years and a deputy Head for 2 of them.
9. I am still best friends with my child hood best friend who I met when we were 12.
10. I drive a VW Beetle.
11. The first album I bought, aged 14 was hatful of Hollow by the Smiths- I still have it as a very treasured possession.

My chosen favourite blogs.

Loopy Freak with a list
Little Room of Rachel
Fox’s Lane
Little Red Squirrel
Little woollie
Lulu loves Crochet
Haken en Meer
Eclectic Gypsyland
Little Tin Bird
Betty and Annie
Poppy and Bliss

My 11 questions for them
1. When and why did you start to craft (crochet, knit, sew, make?)
2. What are your favourite colour combinations?
3. What have been the last 3 things you have made?
4. What would be your dream holiday destination and why?
5. What is your favourite food?
6. Who do you most admire – past or present?
7. Who would be at your dream dinner party?
8. What advice would you give your 10 year old self?
9. If you could live in any country which one would it be and why?
10. what would be your favourite film?
11. What will your next project (s) be?

I hope my nominees enjoy this as much as I have! Wishing you all the very best of weekends. xx