Hello again!


Wowza! It’s been MONTHS since I last posted on here, where has the time gone?

Seriously it’s been pretty crazy. All four of us have had birthdays – Hubby turned 42, Tadpole turned 8, I turned 40, then Choochie turned 3. Tadpole went back to school (he’s in year 3 now, how did that happen?!), and I auditioned for a couple of shows. I sang at a local war re-enactment, Halloween came and went, then bonfire night, and now, here we are in the countdown to Xmas! We’ve also been redecorating our house, bit by bit, as well as laying a drive at the front (I say ~”we”, but I mean Hubby has been doing that while I look after the kids and make the coffee!). And now we’re preparing for Choochie to start nursery after the Xmas holidays too.

Oh, and those shows? Well, I’m playing the lead in two shows in the very near future. I’ll be starring as Candy, the Christmas Fairy in The Magic Toy Box this festive season, and as Puss in Puss In Boots next Easter. I am absolutely in my element to be treading the boards once more and the people I’m working with are just darlings, every one of them – I feel like I’ve adopted a whole new branch into the family!

So, as you can see, I’ve been rather distracted and have barely had time to sit down, let alone get to the computer. But I’m still around, and I’ll be popping in from time to time…

A busy summer…


Crikey, it’s been just over three weeks since I last posted on this blog – simply because we’ve been so busy! It’s the school holidays, you see, and with both the kids at home, and Hubby having a fortnight off work, we’ve been all over the place on day trips and excursions to local events and attractions, which have included:

  • A music festival
  • A theatre trip (I went to see Chicago with my sister and niece)
  • A family fun day (with bouncy castles and entertainment stuff)
  • Rock-pooling on a tidal island with a light house
  • Going to the circus
  • Blackberry picking with the kids
  • A trip to Beamish (huge open-air, fully interactive museum)
  • A trip to the Hancock Museum
  • Watching a football match

This coming weekend we have a four day festival to celebrate the Tall Ships coming to our town. It’s all rather exciting!

Hubby has been working hard on DIY projects – he’s laid our drive (all lock-blocked beautifully), and has started work on a built-in cupboard and bookcase in our living room, as he’s about to start redecorating in there (it will be followed by the kitchen, all three bedrooms, and finally the bathroom, which will be completely ripped out, a new suite put in, re-tiled, and basically started from scratch!). He’s also decorated my Mum’s spare bedroom and kitchen – what a handy man!

Tadpole has lost not one, but two teeth during the holidays, and we have tackled potty training with Choochie – he’s now something of a pro (thankfully!), and we have no problem going out and about all day with him – he’s very good at “holding it in” till we can find a toilet!

I, on the other hand, have been busy in rehearsals for Sister Act, and have also begun auditioning for other shows, as well as preparing for singing at Blyth Battery again next month. And tomorrow, I’ll be heading off to Edinburgh for the day, to take in a few shows at the Fringe Festival – I can hardly wait!

So, if I’ve been AWOL for a little while, you’ll understand, as we’ve been spending most of our time outdoors and away from all things computerised!

Busy, busy, busy!


I’ve been pretty much AWOL for a little while, simply because I’ve been so busy!

06.03.16 bTadpole has been preparing for his key stage 1 SATs (he started them this week), which I hate, because he’s been stressing out and personally, I think six and seven year olds are far too young to be sitting formalised exams, but that’s beside the point – he has to do them, so doing them he is! His first two papers were yesterday, and thankfully, he seemed to find them not too taxing (in fact, he said they were “A piece of cake!”).

17.03.16I’ve also just applied for Choochie to start nursery in January. He can’t start till then, because they can only start the term after their third birthday, so he’ll have to wait till after the Xmas holidays. Still, I wanted to get the application in early to make sure he gets a place – I can’t be traipsing between two different schools! Choochie also finally weaned (31 months of breastfeeding!), and has started potty training. He likes to sit on the toilet, but so far has only managed to squeeze out a tiny tinkle each time – he’ll get there eventually though!

Last month, I worked backstage on a pantomime – I did make-up for the Dame, which was great fun, and reminded me how much I missed the theatre, so I then went and auditioned for a show for the first time in 15 years! As a result, I have a very small role in a production of Sister Act, which will be performed in October. Officially, I am “Nun #11”, so as I don’t have a given name, I’ve chosen one for myself, and I shall be known henceforth as Sister Sara of the Two Mules (simply because I love Two Mules For Sister Sara). I’ve also decided to audition for a part in Annie later this year, so watch this space!

I was also part of the centenary celebrations at Blyth Battery this past weekend! Blyth Battery Goes To War is an annual event local to me, and it’s always a fantastic weekend, but this year marked 100 years since they started building it (it took two hears to complete), so it was extra special. And we got some wonderful weather for it too – the place was absolutely heaving all weekend, and the audiences were very appreciative. I got such lovely comments from people who watched my performances, my confidence was boosted a hell of a lot (I have an ego the size of Texas now!), and I was pleased to see  from photographs that I look half the size I did last year when I performed! And the most adorable little girl (who I think may well be my number one fan!) came up and danced with me during my instrumental sections – she was a superstar!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Finally, I’ve done a fair bit of work on my Sky Blanket since I last did an update on it. I now have eleven rows joined, and I think it’s looking pretty neat! As Tadpole has been asking for a new “lovey blanket” since Choochie got his full-sized one at Xmas, I thought I’d give this one to him for Xmas this year. He’s been admiring it as it grows, so I think he’ll be very happy with it, and as I won’t actually have a section for every single day (or I’d have the wrong number of yo-yos for my rows), I will hopefully be able to finish it just in time, although it could mean a hell of a lot of border crocheting on Xmas Eve!

13235220_10156817102490386_7625483622086569872_oOn top of all that, I’ve picked up my cross stitching in earnest again for the first time in a good few years – I stitched a little sampler for my best friend’s wedding last November, and now I find the bug has crept up and bitten me again, so I’ve taken up a few of my UFOs to see if I can finish a few of them. I’ve stitched a few bookmarks to send off to my pen pals, but I’m also working on my Rules For Life sampler, which I started before Choochie was born – hopefully it’ll be framed and up on the wall before the end of the year!

Speaking of pen pals, I’ve picked up a few new ones, and I have been involved in making pocket letters and flip books for them – I’ve been going paper-crafting crazy, and writing letters like a mad woman. Actually, I have one to write today, so I’d better get a move on!

And so, I hope normal service will now be resumed, although I seem to have even more things demanding my time and attention than ever, what with getting involved in a show again!

 

 

Blood and laughter


NHS-Blood-LogoEvery year, I put “Donate a pint of blood” on my list of 52 things in 52 weeks challenges, and every year, I don’t complete that challenge for one reason or another – either I’m pregnant, or breastfeeding, or I get a tattoo – but the main reason is this:

I’m terrified of needles.

It’s the truth – I’m incredibly squeamish about needles, and I can’t even watch an injection in a film, even though I know that it’s not even real on the screen – I have to turn away with my eyes screwed up tight-closed.

On Friday, I went to the library, and I saw a poster advertising a local blood drive today.

Last night, I went online and registered to donate blood, and then booked an appointment. I also told my Mam about it and begged her to come with me for moral support and hand-holding duties.

You see, both my parents got their gold awards giving blood, and my sister donates whenever she can (in between getting inked – you have to wait 4 months after getting a new tattoo), and I’ve always strongly believed it’s an important thing to do. I’ve been on the organ donor register since I was a teenager, and I’ve almost donated blood twice before, but bottled it at the last moment. That’s why I went public about my intentions this time – it makes it that much harder to back out! Plus, Mam promised to sit on me if I tried to escape.

I was more than a little nervous when I got there, but everyone was so nice to me, and they even managed to make me laugh and put me at my ease. Yes, the needle stung a little going in, but it wasn’t so bad, and just 4 minutes and 17 seconds later, I had donated my pint!

I’ll definitely do it again – in fact, I tried to book myself in for the next session right away, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t yet on the system. No bother – I’ll book online when it comes up – I already have the date in my diary!

And after all that blood, here’s a laugh for you all.

At lunchtime, we were telling jokes as we ate, and the kids had us both in fits of laughter. Bear in mind that Tadpole is seven years old, and Choochie is only 2 years old (this was his first ever attempt at joke telling!).

Tadpole: Knock, knock.
Us: Who’s there?
Tadpole: Banana.
Us: Banana who?
Tadpole: Banana.
Us: Banana who?
Tadpole: Banana.
Us: Banana who?
Tadpole: Orange you glad… Oh no! I gave away the ending!!!

Choochie: Knock, knock.
Us: Who’s there?
Choochie: Banana.
Us: Banana who?
Josh: Orange! Hahahahahaha!

If you’re in the UK and you’d like to donate blood and save a life, you can register at the website, and find out where and when your nearest donation venue is taking appointments HERE.

bloodbus2

 

The “other” yo-yo blanket


10313731_10156292873640386_6092867319125783203_n
My project bag of multi-coloured yo-yos for the blanket to auction

In addition to my Sky Blanket (for which I am making two yo-yos each day based on the colour of the sky in the morning and afternoon), I am making another, multi-coloured yo-yo blanket, to use up all my little odds and ends of yarn from other projects. When it is completed, the blanket will be donated to Tadpole’s school to auction off at their next fundraising drive (last year they had a couple of granny square blankets and I thought to myself, “Hey, I could easily make something to donate next time!”).

This one isn’t limited to two yo-yos each day. Instead, whenever I get a few minutes, I crochet a few yo-yos, then pop them in the bag and set it aside till I have a few more minutes.

It’s a great take-along project, because even the smallest handbag has enough room for a couple of little balls of yarn and a 4mm hook, and I can do the weaving in when I get home if I forget to take a needle along. Really, some of the yarn balls are of only a few yards of yarn – enough for one or two yo-yos at a push, so this project really will use up the smallest of oddments, giving the largest range of colours throughout the blanket.

In case anyone is interested in making one as well, here is how you make the yo-yos:

R1. Chain 4, and join with a slip stitch to form a ring
R2. Chain 3 (first double crochet), and work 15 double crochets into the ring, then join with a slip stitch and fasten off (16 stitches)

When I get to joining them, I’ll post how to do that too, so you can join your yo-yos.

This is a lovely project to do with the kids too – you can easily teach them how to make the yo-yos and then when you put them all together, it will have been made by all the family together.

Chocolate Chip Cookies


We’re just over a week away from Christmas, and in my house, that means it’s cookie-baking time! I made snickerdoodles last week (and I’ll be making more next week too!), so this week it’s chocolate chip cookies. Is there anything in the world so perfectly delicious as an ice-cold glass of milk and a soft, crumbly chocolate chip cookie? I think not! Anyway, here’s the recipe I use.

11226003_10156221677920386_7048102649200589546_nChocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 24

Ingredients:

  • 120g salted butter (room temperature)
  • 150g sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 240g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 170g chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar till just combined, then add the vanilla essence and egg, and beat well.
  • Sift together the flour and bicarbonate of soda and add, a little at a time, to the mixture, combining well before adding more.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Divide the mixture into 24 equal portions (divide the dough into eighths, then divide each of those eighths into three).
  • Roll into balls and place them on baking trays lined with grease proof paper or baking parchment, pressing down gently, leaving plenty of space in between.
  • Bake for around 12 minutes till golden.
  • Cool on the trays for a few minutes before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Store in an air-tight container. I’ve no idea how long these will last in such a container, as they disappear within a day or two in our house!

This is a fun, easy recipe to do with the kids during the Christmas holidays – maybe make some on Christmas Eve to leave for Santa?

If you make them, let me know what you think of them by leaving a comment below.

Happy Hallowe’en!


Happy Halloween
Our pumpkin lantern

It’s no secret I love Hallowe’en! Always have!

Just because I’m an adult now doesn’t mean I can’t get dressed up and enjoy the spooktacular festivities. Actually, being a Mum means I have the perfect excuse to join in.

Tadpole and Choochie chose their own costumes this year. Tadpole is a scary surgeon and Choochie is a cute little pumpkin. I went with being The Corpse Bride. Just because.

12030431_10156091249675386_8540259511037982620_o
Tadpole and Choochie, ready to go trick or treating

So, Hubby is out trick or treating with the kids, and I’m home answering the door to the young revelers when they knock.

We have a selection of sweet and non-food treats, and everyone who knocks can take one… Or they can be brave, take a challenge, and win two treats for their trouble. Most are opting for the chance of an extra treat. Teeheehee!

The challenges are all silly and easy, things like singing “I’m a Little Teapot”, or patting their heads and rubbing their tummies at the same time, or pretending to be a ballerina or a monkey, or telling a joke – funny little things to make them laugh.

11231822_10156091788450386_2807051944463909406_o
The Corspe Bride, ready to greet all who dare knock!

Have a happy Hallowe’en, a spooktacular Samhain, and a fabulously festive end to October. And stay safe, everyone! If you’re trick or treating, stick with friends, and don’t go into anyone’s house, wear something reflective, and check all your treats before tucking in!

Have fun, guys!

Halloween is coming!


Halloween is comingIt’s just over two weeks to Halloween – is anyone else as excited as I am?

I ADORE Halloween – every year I look forward to getting into the spooky spirit. Unfortunately, I’m married to someone who doesn’t really “get” Halloween, so I have to tone things down a little.

This year, however, BOTH our boys are old enough to be taken trick-or-treating, so Hubby will be taking Tadpole and Choochie out in their costumes (Tadpole has chosen a scary surgeon costume, Choochie will be a pumpkin) while I stay home and dole out the treats to the tricksters who come to the door.

And, yes, I’ll be getting dressed up! Of course I will! This is ME we’re talking about here! I’ll be getting dolled up as the Bride of Frankenstein (I’ve just been colouring in wooden “bolts” silver to stick to my neck with eyelash glue).

I’ve already gathered all manner of treats – of course there are sweeties, but there will also be some fruit and lots of little toys too (think the kind of stuff you get in party bags – crayons, plastic animals, novelty erasers, bouncy balls that look like eyeballs etc), as a lot of kids around our way have food allergies and we know of at least one kid with diabetes and we wouldn’t want anyone to feel left out.

I’ve also prepared a load of “dares” which will be printed on slips of paper. Kids can take one treat from the bowl, or they can do a dare and take two treats for their troubles. It’s all stuff like sing a nursery rhyme, tell a joke, pull a funny face, etc, so lots of funny little things for them to do and have a giggle.

And I can hardly wait to carve our pumpkin! Last year we couldn’t get hold of a pumpkin, so we carved a large watermelon instead and it looked awesome – all dark green and glowing pink inside! I liked it so much, I might do that again this year regardless! And I have some stickers to put up in the window that look like spiders and bats. I might also get some crime scene tape to put up as we have scaffolding around our house right now (the facade is being re-rendered), so that would look pretty cool!

Is anyone else doing anything for Halloween? Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who goes a bit loopy at this time of the year!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Happy 2nd birthday, Choochie!


My little baby isn’t a baby any more – ask him, and he’ll tell you he’s a Big Boy!

Two years has flown by so quickly.

Happy 2nd birthday to our little Choochie!