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March 2016

Elma Family Kitty Me and Mine Photography Pip

Me and Mine 2016: March

31/03/2016

When I was little I knew people who had aunts and uncles right on their doorstep, cousins in the same class at school, or grandparents who they could walk to for tea. We didn’t.  My grandmother was in the next village when we were at home in the holidays and when we were at school (long story cut short, I sort of went to boarding school with my parents) the nearest aunt and uncle were a good couple of hours away.  The family was spread out over the country and whenever either half got together we all knew that a family photo was obligatory.  And so my childhood photo albums are populated with these occasional shots; all of my Dad’s family in the back garden at my grandparents’ house (a photo that took so much organising and concentration we all then happily went off for the afternoon leaving the front door wide open), the photo that my Mum used to keep on the kitchen notice board of her family of five siblings, their spouses and all the children (she used to have people guess which child belonged to who), right though to the very last complete photo of the ‘Northern Hemisphere’ family, only missing my cousin and his wife who live in Australia, and featuring Elma as a just visible bump.

There are plenty of family shots of just Mum, Dad, my sister and me, but I have a special fondness for the big family shots.  I think it’s that they somehow give you an increased sense of your place in the world; not just sister and daughter, but cousin and niece too.  I look at those photos and I know who I am to everyone else in the picture, and I know that I am loved just as I love them.

So this Easter weekend knowing that, for the first time in ages, both of H’s siblings and our sister-in-law were going to be there for Easter Sunday, I packed the tripod.  Now if you’ve seen my Easter video you’ll be all too well aware that although I may have packed the tripod, I did manage to forget both the remote trigger and the connector that joins the camera and the tripod. Smashing preparation I know.

But who lets a little thing like a missing tripod connector hold them back.  We see H’s family fairly often considering how far away they live, but usually just his parents, or his parents and his sister, or his brother and sister-in-law.  When we do all get together it tends to be Christmas which is (a) cold, (b) dark, (c) rainy, (d) really cold (it is Yorkshire), (e) everyone is far too full of Christmas cheer and mince pies to come outside and have their photo taken and (f) once it snowed.  A group photo is not going to be on the cards.

But Easter, Easter with its chicks and yellow and sunshine and Spring and we’ll gloss over the torrential rain of storm Katie; Easter has serious possibility.  Not least the fact that everyone was out in the garden anyway for the Egg hunt, albeit wrapped up in snuggly winter coats (see point (d) above re Yorkshire).

And so my Me and Mine photos this month are really more like ‘Ours and All of Ours’; Grandma, Granddad, H and me, his siblings and his bonus sister, and our little trio.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine March 2016

All of the photos had to be taken by setting the timer and running back and forth which Pip clearly thinks is a most strange thing for his Mama to be doing, but it did the trick, and the patio table pulled over to the edge of the railing made a great stand in tripod.  And yes it means that each photo took a bit of time, which may perhaps have exhausted the patience of certain members of the party who clearly decided to theme themselves accordingly…

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine March 2016

But I don’t mind; I love these shots anyway.  They tell the story of my children’s place in the world; sisters, brother, daughters, son, grandchildren, nieces and nephew. And there’s even a couple of godparents in the mix there too.  Along with their Grandpa and their other aunt and uncle and cousin, these are the people who love them the most in the whole wide world.

Our not so little family, in March.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine March 2016

– and yes, still abiding by the rule that not one photo I take can have everyone looking at the camera!

 

And if you have a moment, I would truly love a nomination in the MADs and the BiBs blogging awards for writer, craft, or family/school days (all the details are here). I heard over the weekend that I’d also been nominated in the photography category which was a wonderful surprise, so thank you whoever that was – as for my picks for photography I am horribly torn between, The Goblin Child, Mummy Daddy Me, Sorry About The Mess, and Dear Little Daisy, so if you vote for them and I vote for them, they can all be finalists together and then I would not envy the judging panel one bit!

Elma Family Kitty Milestones Photography Pip Video

Chocolate eggs make great golf balls – our Easter 2016

30/03/2016

Two pairs of tiny feet thundered down the hallway. Kitty and Elma, in pink pyjamas decorated with hens and bearing the hopeful, but ultimately flawed, slogan “eggcellent sleeper”, bounced though the bedroom door, flashed a beaming “Happy Easter” at Pip, H and I, and dashed to the window, Elma pulling herself up onto the tippiest of tippy toes to peer out.

“Has he been? Can you see anything?”
“Has the bunny been?”
“I can!! I can see something in that tree!! Look! Look!”
“I can too!”
And with that they sprinted out of the room and across the hallway to their grandparents.

Never has there been such a vivid example of the power of the mind; the most egg-like thing you will ever find in my in-laws garden at 7am is a clutch of golf balls.

We headed north again for Easter this year, it’s become a bit of a tradition, mostly because it’s so often very near my mother-in-law’s birthday, or in this case, was on the day itself. So Happy Easters were interspersed with Happy Birthdays and we got to spoil and cherish Grandma just as she always spoils and cherishes us.

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It was a funny weekend in some respects, like those days at work where you know you’ve been busy all day, but you couldn’t exactly point to any one thing that took up all the time; we were never still and there was always something going on, but on paper we just spent our time at home being together as a family.

Space for the Butterflies - Easter 2016

Saturday was marked as the day of the great fish rescue. Back in a teenage summer, H had dug the pond in my in-laws’ front garden, and now that they wanted to change things up a bit he thought it only right that he be the one taking the pick axe to his creation. The water had been emptied and all the fish carefully introduced to the pond in the back garden before he began, although a most determined quartet of frogs kept making a reappearance no matter how often we escorted them out with a bucket. It was only after half the wall was gone, that he noticed a flapping and a flurrying of one last remaining tiny orange fish, and the first we knew about it was a shout through the front door;

“Dad missed one!”

Followed by the sight of H sprinting past the windows and around to the back of the house. He’d simply reached into the puddle, grabbed the unsuspecting fish and gone for it. Amazingly the fish seems entirely unaffected either by living in a muddle puddle for a couple of days, or the manner of its transportation to its new home.

We played under grey skies, invented a new hockey/tennis ball/ sandcastle space sort of a game for Pip, rode bikes and scooter, pushed prams and most importantly, chalked up as much of the driveway as we could reach, though alas it all washed away later that night as torrential rain swept through with the start of storm Katie.

The biggest event of Easter Sunday itself, at least as far as the girls were concerned, was of course the annual egg hunt around the garden, in which the Easter bunny (who has on occasion been known to resemble Grandad, their aunt and their uncle) leaves an extraordinary amount of chocolate hiding among the golf balls and other shrubbery, and the “problem” is that you have to wait until after lunch before the bunny will reveal them to you; or at the very least until your aunts and uncle have actually arrived.

Distracted by the fun of giving Grandma her birthday present and then the little Easter presents sat at their places at breakfast (a story for Pip, rainbow colouring pencils for the girls, a chocolate bunny, and a little something handmade for each of them) they just about managed to hold on to their excitement but by the time they were lined up at the kitchen door, baskets in hand, they were as if under starters orders.

Space for the Butterflies - Easter 2016

“OK” we said, and opened the door, down they climbed, oh so carefully, and then they were off, darting from one gilded nest to the next.

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I love watching the children hunt eggs, it says so much about their personalities and their relationship, particularly the girls. Pip did a little bit of egg hunting but once he clocked the golf clubs and all these grown ups outside and ready to play with him he was utterly uninterested, right to the point of thinking that the best use of a chocolate bunny was as a ball. The girls were more motivated by chocolate, but they never just grab the lot; Kitty will take one egg for herself and then go and get another one for Elma, and Elma will only ever take one of anything before checking that her sister also has one and going back for whatever remains.

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It was as we finished that the first drops started to fall to signal the return of the storm, and the rest of the afternoon passed in a cosy chocolate fuelled blur. I know we played sardines at one point, trying to hide all five of us behind the lounge door, and there were colourings in and cuddles and just a bit more chocolate lest anyone feel their blood sugar drop below a gazillionty (nourishing counterbalance menu began yesterday!!).

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Mostly it was about all of us being there. We see H’s family fairly regularly in all its constituent parts but it’s been a while since we were all 10 of us together, and that made it a very extra special Easter birthday for my mother in law, who I suspect very much enjoys having all of her chicks (and a couple of cuckoos) back in the nest.

And so just for fun I made a little film of our Easter weekend – let the chocolate overload commence!

Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip

Happy Easter

27/03/2016

image

The loveliest Sunday in the year is here. Time to celebrate, time to rejoice, time to be with family, time to eat unimaginable amounts of chocolate, time to sing Happy Birthday to my mother in law, and of course, time to draw bunnies all over the driveway. Again, because these bunnies have alas entirely washed off in this evening’s storm, though my sister in law, who was the only person to drive up to the house while they were there, says they looked great!

Easter is incredibly important to our family because of our faith but this year I think its biggest gift might be that lovely four day bank holiday weekend. Time to be together and just enjoy each other’s company without the pressure to be anywhere or do anything, and without it being at the cost of needing to catch up once I get back to the office.  It’s pure crazy noisy busy bliss and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So from H and I and Kitty, Elma and Pip, I hope you’re having a very wonderful weekend – Happy Easter!

it’s a cheeky request I know, but if you do have a minute over the weekend I would love a nomination in the MADs and the BiBs blogging awards for writer, craft, or family/school days (all the details are here). And if you’re wondering who to put down in the pregnancy blog category, have you thought about The Adventure of Parenthood , The Goblin Child, Mummy Daddy Me, Dear Beautiful or Sorry About The Mess , all of whom would be worthy winners?

Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip The 52 Project

13/52 {the 2016 portraits}

26/03/2016

Linking up with Jodi with a portrait of each of my children once every week for 2016.

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project

Kitty: Out and about in the sunshine.  I think you must have had another growth spurt because suddenly you’re looking so very grown up these days but I love that you still want to take one of the teddies on your outings, just to show them the world.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/640, f/5, ISO 100)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project

Elma: The smallest lock keeper in the county; you (and Rapunzel and Aurora) thought this was a great perch from which to keep watch for Daddy finishing his training run.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/320, f/5, ISO 100)

 

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project

Pip: Running round the playground at the end of the afternoon you made a beeline for the roundabout but you haven’t quite worked out what makes it go round yet, so you climbed into the middle and then willed it to go round and round.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/80, f/5.6, ISO 100)

Finished Handmade Quilting

Orange Peel – The Sugarblock Club {March}

25/03/2016

I have sewn raw edge appliqué blocks precisely once before in my life, when persuaded by a very dear friend I spent a day making a Christmas tree skirt featuring appliqué Christmas trees and then dashed home to make another three Christmas trees for a skirt for my parents’ tree.

It’s a technique I enjoyed once I got my machine behaving itself but I just haven’t had call to use it since.  But all that was to change with this month’s Sugarblock club blocks. It’s based on the very 30’s style petal block, which I agree definitely looks like a very neatly peeled orange.

The petals turned out to be huge fun to sew, possibly because it’s a much easier shape to sew than a Christmas tree, and I can see how tempting it would be to make a whole petal quilt; wouldn’t a scrappy rainbow of petals be pretty (I may perhaps have pinned all of the petal quilts in this month’s blog post!).

With a little more diving into the scrap bag I found some more of the pretty pale yellow birds and leaves fabric which I’d thought was all used up so that definitely had to make an appearance in one of this month’s blocks; the other fabric includes some repeats from the earlier blocks and a few scraps left over from older projects. I’m at a funny stage with this project in terms of colours; I’ve not repeated any of the combinations yet, although you can start to see which fabrics I’m clearly drawn to and I’m trying really hard to mix it up and not just go for the easy choices, knowing that by the time we get to December I should hopefully have made a serious dent in the pile in the bag, and my options will be a lot more limited.

Although having said that, the bag is showing signs of suffering from the widow’s curse; I’ve sewn six blocks and I’m not sure I can see any difference in the amount of fabric I have in there!

So here we are:

Space for the Butterflies - Orange Peel Blocks

My first block, all long grass dancing against a deep blue sky. There are fabrics in here that are leftover from the swimming pool quilt I made when I was waiting for Kitty to arrive, and the mock paisley that was her favourite summer skirt last year.

Space for the Butterflies - Orange Peel Blocks

and the second, a brilliantly shaggy-headed bloom on a scorching hot summer’s day, with that favourite yellow print as well as the blues from a quilt that I made for my Mum, and the green from a quilt made for a baby friend of Kitty’s.

It’s amazing how much of a difference there is between the two blocks because of the colour values in the border triangles.  The second block is full of contrast so I look at it and see a surrounding star, the yellow retreating to hang out with the white; but in the first the two border fabrics have blended together far more than I would have predicted seeing them laid out on the table together.  I did think about whether I should change one or both of the fabrics in the blue block, but the more I look at it, the more I love it; I like that the star is a little hidden, and the way that it echoes the corners of the blue elephant cross.  So I’m sticking with it for now and we’ll see.  The beautiful of quilting is that right up until the point that I have to pick the blocks up and sew them together I can still change my mind and have a do-over.

And speaking of do-overs; I’m very proud of myself because this week I undid the blue elephant cross to correct the pattern error which prescribed strips of white that were a smidge too short, to replace them with longer versions.  At which point I discovered that being the type of person who will attack a quilt block with a seam ripper to try to correct something rather than just fudge it when it comes to assembly will make you feel very grown up and responsible; there’s a certain gravitas in taking the time to make sure it’s absolutely correct.  I also discovered that you can rip seams and re-sew blocks all you like and yet….

Space for the Butterflies - Orange Peel Blocks

…it will still end up looking slightly wonky.  It is however less wonky than it was before and I’m sticking with that!

It gave me a good excuse to pull all the blocks out together though, and to see my vision of a blue, green and yellow spring quilt start to come to fruition.

Space for the Butterflies - Orange Peel Blocks

I love the way that the border on the orange peel blocks ties them into the rest of the quilt; I think it must be a real challenge to come up with 12 blocks that can hang together as a cohesive whole, but when I lay out my six so far I can see how pretty they’re all going to look together.  And now all I have to do is hold on and wait the few more days until it’s April and there’ll be another block to explore; I can’t wait!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On