Category Archives: daily life

Two steps forward and one step back

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The backing for the wonky log cabin quilt came together quickly, as I used chunks of the fabrics left over from the top. I bought a polyester batting from work – the cheapest thinnest stuff you ever did see – and pinned the layers together.

And then I quilted some of it…and hated it…and am now unpicking the stitches from the back with a seam ripper. It was too much quilting, too messily done, and it ruined it. I had quilted five squares out of the 25, used a full bobbin of thread on it over 1.5 hours, and it will take ages to pull out. However I will be happier with it in the long run if I suck it up and just do it.

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More happily, I have an FO! A pompom beanie crocheted with a cake of Caron Chunky Cupcakes in Jelly Bean. The pattern was on the ballband but it’s also available for free on the Yarnspirations website. Details on my Ravelry project page. It’s constructed using a sideways ‘ribbed’ brim, then you join into a loop and work along the side for the body of the hat. The main part is moss stitch, which in crochet is (sc, ch1) around, working into the chain spaces on the next round. It makes a nice fabric, and alternating both ends of the yarn cake gives you a variation in colour as you go. The pompom comes attached to the yarn, which is why it coordinates so well.

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a cosy Cowboy Fog

 

I’ve been mostly staying off Facebook lately, preferring just to post an occasional photo to Instagram. I spend at most a few minutes a day on Instagram so have more time to do better things! The above photo is from one of my visits to my favourite local tea shop. This book is from the library and I’m really enjoying the read, and identifying what is cosy for me. Certainly, one of my cosiest things to do is sit in Chai Baba and drink their awesome teas and either crochet, read or talk to the friends we bump into there.

Another cosy thing I like to do is take my breakfast outside to the deck. It’s cool and quiet and I can look at the sky, enjoy my breakfast, maybe wrap myself in a blanket or quilt if I feel a little chilly, and look out for birds and squirrels in the trees.

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morning muesli

It’s my birthday tomorrow and I feel like the celebrations are happening not just for one day but for half a week! Last night I went out to dinner with friends and we had a lot of fun. We’re all Brits so have the same sense of humour. Tomorrow I am working, but there is a potluck at my house in the evening with a different set of friends who we always have a laugh with. We usually play Mexican Train Dominoes, and there is lots of digressing and wordplay and puns. And Sunday morning we are off to brunch at another vegan cafe with a couple of our sons. I am totally making the most of turning 57!

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So while I was procrastinating on the quilt unpicking, I made these tote bags with some old stash fabrics. I made 12 in all but took the photo before I made the last one. I decided that as I have to work on my birthday, I will practice Random Acts of Kindness and give a bag out now and then throughout the day to customers who need one. It will save them taking a plastic bag and hopefully it will remind them to always carry a cloth bag with them when they shop in future.

And then I spotted the stash of old jeans on the top shelf of the sewing room closet, and this came together.

It’s a fun little bag made from upcycled denim. I sewed a little flower where there was a hole at the corner of the pocket, which inspired me to make the strap out of the same fabric and also applique another patch on the back. I loved it so much that I immediately started another, but it got to 4pm and I had to start cooking dinner. I could have carried on for hours!

Have you seen this nifty gadget? It was very useful today, for sewing over bulky seams and the parts where the tote bag straps joined to the top of the bags. It basically helps the machine to handle the thick seams without skipping stitches or getting stuck. Definitely a good investment.

Well, I really must get to bed. It’s been a busy day (including a 9am Cardio Barre class and a half hour weights session tonight) and I have to be up early in the morning, Have a great weekend!

FO: The Big Kahuna

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The latest stashbuster is finished. It took me all of five days and it’s about 100″ long!

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It’s a combination of Loops & Threads Facets in various colourways and some Stylecraft Harlequin, all of which have been in the stash for too long and I just wanted them out.

I used an 8mm hook and a basic C2C, making it 11 blocks wide. There were lots of ends to weave in, but I tackled some half way through and the rest this morning. It’s lovely and squishy and warm, but it will pill like a bear, and I will only be handwashing it very occasionally.

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I am loving the coolness in the mornings and it’s the best feeling to be outside on my deck, with a quilt or blanket around me, drinking my tea or coffee or eating my breakfast and just enjoying the view and the breeze. Getting up early DOES have its advantages.

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I am going to take a couple of days off the crocheting, I think, because what with the manic crochet the last week to get this project done by the end of the month, plus that spin class (eek!) plus all the pricing gun action last Friday, my wrist hasn’t been too happy.

I am super happy with my stashbusting for the month though. My FOs are the daisy blanket, the Jayma shawl, the walking hat, the Mimic shawl and this Big Kahuna scarf. Plus I cleared a few extra bits and pieces out of the stash and into a bag for the thrift store. Total out for this month is 2990 grams and zero new acquisitions.

So the year to date, as far as bashing the stash is concerned, is 6770 grams used or destashed, 2100 grams in (no purchases since January, woo hoo!) with a net reduction in stash of 4670 grams. I’m delighted with my progress. The stash is now at the point where I have a good selection of basic acrylics that I enjoy using (very little novelty stuff) and a small collection of plant fibre yarns for which I currently have no specific plans. (If you want to be nosy and check out my stash on Ravelry, it’s here.)

In other news, I took my car to the body shop for an estimate yesterday. The total cost for a small dent and large scratch? $1900! I will have to pay $500 of that, but wow, considering it looks like a small amount of damage that is a big bill!

OK, I need to get dressed and get to the gym. I went yesterday and am a little sore from that workout but I will do something different today to work some different muscles. And tonight Tai Chi Man and I have yoga, so that’ll be good. I had to miss Saturday’s Yin Yoga because I was working, which is a shame because it feels like the perfect body reset for the week. Talk to you later 🙂

Crochet and fabric play

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She is done, my Mimic shawl. She had a bath and a lie-down on the blocking mats, and  a bit of steam, and she grew to 16.5 inches by 87.5 inches. Yup, pretty long, but lovely with it.

This used 260 grams of Lion Brand Mandala in the Troll colourway, so about one and two-thirds of the 150 gram cakes.

My stashbusting has been epic this month. Two shawls, a blanket and a hat completed and I also cleared out a bit of undesirable yarn from my stash. That’s a total of 2320 grams of yarn OUT! And none in.

The other small project I finished was this Walking Hat, so named because I crocheted it on my walks around the neighbourhood. I used up the last of my Caron Big Cakes in Shadowberry. I wouldn’t buy this yarn again. It’s not the nicest acrylic, in my opinion. It took three and a half walks to make. I probably got some second glances as I carried my yarn and hook around with me this week!

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In the grand scheme of checks and balances, I should be picking up  my paycheque today, which will include some extra hours and overtime. However, when I was at a coffee shop with a friend yesterday, my car was parked outside on the street, and during that time someone swiped it with their vehicle and took the paint off. Grrrr! I am claiming off my insurance, of course, but there is still a $500 deductible to pay. I had to spend some time on the phone to the insurers yesterday and book my poor car in for an estimate at the body shop.

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So what else is new? Ah yes, my quilting. I have been itching to make a quilt again. I started back in 1998, when I was expecting son #3, and took a class to learn how make a large quilt. It was definitely worth it and from then on I quilted like a crazy person for six years, until I got back into yarn crafts. I haven’t really felt the pull since, even though I now work in a fabric store, but that doesn’t stop me from bringing home pretty cotton fabric remnants now and then. If I really like something, I’ll buy a metre.

Anyway, I’ve recently been watching The Midnight Quilt Show on YouTube and have been enjoying watching Angela piece and machine quilt like the pro she is and it’s inspired me to get going again. I also have a pile of quilting books from the library. This week I pulled out a bunch of fabrics and decided on a theme. I am fussy-cutting squares from Pink Panther, Scooby Doo, camper vans, Vespas and colourful cats and using a backing of broadcloth to stitch-and-flip crazy log cabin blocks. I have six so far.

It’s a lot of fun and deliberately cutting the pieces a little wonky with scissors means no need for precision.

I have no plan as to the number of blocks to make or how it’s all going to come together. I’ll scratch this itch and see where it takes me.

Have a great weekend! (I’ll be working, and I’ll still do my best to have a great weekend.)

Oooh pretty!

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Oooh pretty!

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I braved the heat to get outside in the garden and take a few photos of the Mimic shawl progress. I love it so far. There are usually soft colour changes in this yarn, but there was a hard change from the pink to the green so I pulled a few stitches out, back to the beginning of the row, and cut a little yarn out so that there wouldn’t be a partial row of the pink. Where the blues appeared, I left it as it was.

There is something odd about the cake. If you look closely, you’ll see a bit of turquoise and white in the section  of purple. I’m pretty sure that’s not supposed to be there and I will be cutting that out.

The lawn is looking incredibly green for this time of year. We do have underground sprinklers, though we are careful not to overdo it, but we have had a goodly amount of rain recently. The other day at work, it was like a monsoon. Awesome!

Inventory day at work yesterday went well. The teams started at 7 and finished at 3, though management had to stay longer to finish up the paperwork and check for anything that may have been missed. The manager had a 12.5 hour day! As she would say, that’s what she’s paid the big bucks for (with a rueful smile on her face and a hint of sarcasm in her voice)!!! (By the way, I gave her the Jayma shawl that I just completed, and she loved it.)

It’s so good to have that annual event behind us. The store needs to be put back to rights now, with all the fabrics set up properly so that customers can browse. That’ll take a few days probably.

For now, I have three days off in a row, and need to toddle off to the kitchen to get food ready for a potluck with friends. Take care, everyone, and have a great weekend.

 

 

WIP: Knit Mandala Cowl – almost there

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The cowl is nearly finished. I have been enjoying knitting this project. It’s been a nice change of pace from the crochet blanket. I have only a few rounds of K2P2 ribbing to do. As you can see, I have reached the white in the cake. It would have been interesting to have some more grey at the top edge, and I could keep going longer, but on the other hand the transition from darker colour/denser stitch pattern to lighter colour/lacier stitch pattern works rather well. I’m glad the aqua falls in the centre as it’s the colour that one notices the most.

You may recall my efforts to get up earlier in the morning, and my alarm clock was set 5 minutes earlier every day until I was waking at 5am. The last few mornings I have woken up just before the alarm, but when the alarm actually goes off I hit snooze once or twice. Often, Tai Chi Man is already in the en suite and there’s no point getting out of bed until he’s moved off to the kitchen. Our en suite is tiny!

One of the bonuses of getting up early is the coolness, as it’s getting hot most days. Another thing I enjoy is looking out at the garden to see if I can spot any deer (though I’d probably have to be up before dawn for that) and the sky is often very pretty too.

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The forecast is for a much cooler day today (18 degrees Celsius) and rain and possibly a thunderstorm. There is quite a wind – I can see our big maple from where I sit, and the branches are being tossed about – and I managed to get an OK shot of the sky with the clouds moving in, the moon, and an interesting bank of clouds sitting right on top of the mountains in the distance.

More often than not, I work on a Wednesday, but this week my shifts were scheduled the same as last week – Sunday, Monday, Friday – so today is going to be a home day. The To Do list includes a little cleaning and decluttering (aaagh, need to start on the utility room shelves, which is a huge job) but also some sewing and knitting.

I haven’t shown you the pink top that I sewed last week, but a turquoise one is now in progress using the same Burda pattern so I will get photos soon. I have been watching a podcaster/vlogger recently called Rachael at SewRayMeUK. She lives in Scotland, has an Etsy shop selling sewn bags and things, and has been vlogging every day during June. She is a keen gardener and has a beautiful garden. I am feeling inspired to sew more things, but I really must finish the current project before I move on to something else. The cut pieces are laid out on my cutting table and I have started the assembly. I could have kept on going last night, but at 9.45 I had to call it a day. Getting up at 5am means going to bed before 10pm.

It’s gone dark in my living room. The sky is mostly cloud now and I feel like a big dump of rain is imminent. That’s great! Even with our sprinklers, the lawn is looking dry and crispy already. Happy Hump Day, everyone. Talk to you again soon 🙂

FO: Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket

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FO: Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket

I am pleased to say that this mystery crochet-along is finished and I have a VERY colourful blanket to show for it.

This was designed by Joanita Theron of Creative Crochet Workshop and was a 7 week MCAL. As the word “rainbow” was in the title, I just had to pick some appropriate colours of DK yarn (mostly Stylecraft Special DK) to which I added grey and white. By the end I had run out of the pink, red and orange, which is a shame as a full rainbow spectrum border would have been awesome.

I used my own border idea – one round of single crochet and three rounds of granny clusters. I also fudged the numbers on the rectangular strips to make them the correct size for my squares. Even after machine washing and drying, there is some bumpiness and rippling happening, but I’m not going to fret about it. It’s about 38″ square and used 540 grams of yarn. My only FO for May!

So it’s back to the daisy-making. I finished two more squares on Thursday:

I still haven’t completely memorised the pattern. It’s a tricky one.

In other news, my kitchen cupboards have now been fully decluttered, but I haven’t moved on to the next room yet.

My experiment in getting up earlier is going well. Each day I set my alarm clock 5 minutes earlier and I am finding it quite easy, as long as I go to bed reasonably early (around 10pm).

I bought rayon fabric in vibrant shades of fuschia and turquoise to make two tops to go with  my new leggings and yesterday I had time to cut out all the pieces. Next time I have a good block of time, I will go and start on the sewing, probably Tuesday.

This weekend, I did a lot of volunteering for Vegfest, the annual vegan festival in my town. Last night, Tai Chi Man and I helped set up, getting the gym and some of the classrooms converted for use by vendors and speakers. This involved a lot of furniture moving and sticking green masking tape on the gym floor to mark it out for vendors’ tables.

Today I was back at lunchtime to be an entrance greeter for the afternoon, taking people’s donations and giving them information. I was outside but thankfully it was cloudy – if it had been full sunshine, I’d have had to find some shade. At 5, the festivities were over, but then the cleanup began. A team of us put the school back to rights, cleaning, tidying, mopping, taking out the garbage. We were done by about 7.15.

It’s good to get a little couch time at the end of the day. It’s been a very physical weekend and I need to recharge.

 

Life update

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Well, hello. I hope you’re all enjoying Spring (or Autumn if you are in the southern hemisphere).

The time is whizzing by, which is a bit of a shame as I do like the shoulder seasons. The temperature is comfortable, you’re not freezing or sweating all the time, everything looks nice and green (it’ll be dry, brown and crispy in another couple of months) and the cherry blossom is gorgeous. The apricot will be next.

I have to be quick here as I have to be at work soon. So just a quick post to show you the CAL progress.

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This is Part 4 of the Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket CAL run by Creative Crochet Workshop (I have since woven in my ends). Part 5 is out but I haven’t started it yet. These are my squares so far…

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At the end of April I felt like I needed a Finished Object to add to my stashbusting for the month, so I made this cowl – no pattern.

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The yarn is Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable Waves and whilst the yarn is pretty (the colours are actually more intense in real life) it is pilly and I wouldn’t buy it again.

I have been tracking my yarn ins and outs in the British Banter group on Ravelry – there is a Bash the Stash challenge – and apart from a splurge in January I am doing well with a net stashdown for the first few months of the year.

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Some friends and I had a fun mini road trip yesterday, heading north an hour to the next nearest city. We stopped in at a little quilt shop, then at a vegan cafe for lunch, and then at a store that I’ve been meaning to visit for months – Sweet Legs! I finally own two pairs of their lovely leggings. Of course that means I now need new tops to go with them!!

I just did my seasonal closet clearout and my dear husband doesn’t understand why I need new clothes! Ah well, nobody’s perfect!

Scrappy Sunday

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I have been having a very colourful time, working on Part 2 of the Creative Crochet Workshop’s Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket CAL. The above motif will be a 12″ square. The last two rounds were added this week. I have realised that doing a crochet-along like this is very good for the discipline of weaving in your ends. You can’t proceed any further until Part 3 comes out, so often there’s a waiting period between finishing one part and the release of the next part.

The other squares for Part 2 are four 6″ squares. I made the two flowery ones different colours, but the rainbow ones are the same. I like the fact that the rainbow squares incorporate all ten colours in the blanket.

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What’s your weekend been like? Yesterday I was working, and we had another sale where the discounts were a bit bigger than usual, and we were reeeeeeally busy. It made the day go faster, at least, and customers were mostly happy because of the savings (except for a couple of grumblers who thought that the 53% should have been off literally everything – they obviously didn’t read the small print in the mailer)!

Today Tai Chi Man loaded up the prunings from the last couple of days yardwork. He had to cut some dead wood out of the cherry and apricot trees (much to the chagrin of the ants who were inhabiting the hollow branch of the cherry) and so today he took another 260kg of yard waste to the landfill. That’s nearly 700kg of stuff that’s been cleared off our property (of nearly half an acre) in the last couple of weeks.

The grass is greening up, there are more violets in the lawn every year, which is wonderful, we have daffodils and forsythia flowering, and even one of my Christmas cacti is pink and pretty, obviously deciding to be an Easter cactus instead.

The purple dishcloths have been flowing off my hook. I am on my fourth now. I think that may be the last one. When that’s done, I’d like to start another scrappy colourful project which I can work on when I have done my CAL pieces for the week. I have so much DK yarn, mostly Stylecraft Special DK, which would look lovely actually made into something useful. Do you have a favourite scrappy project? If so, comment and let me know what it is.

It’s been a good day of housework, tea at our favourite tea shop, stocking up at Costco, and going to the gym. I set up vegan mac ‘n cheese to bake while we were at the gym (can you believe my 20 year old son still complains when I put broccoli in it?!) so we’ve had a satisfying dinner too. All feels right with the world!

Out of the slump

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Out of the slump

From a crochet slump with one knitting WIP to a flurry of activity!

The socks are DONE!

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The first sock took about 8.5 months, the second one only a week or two. This is Loops & Threads Perfect Pair yarn, knitted magic loop, one at a time, with a 2.25mm/100cm long circ. They are not identical, and I didn’t even try to make them so, but the bands of colour coincidentally fell in similar places. They could be a little snugger, so when I make another pair with this yarn I will knit a smaller size.

So, on to crochet WIPs. This bag-in-progress is called the Easy Breezy Bag and the pattern is here. I managed to mess up my stitch count when starting the base, so ripped back and started again. After that, it was plain sailing. The open stitch pattern for the sides of the bag is very easy and I can do it while watching Netflix. The yarn is from the store where I work. It’s our store brand, Spindle Yarns, and the type is Essential Basics (worsted weight acrylic) in the colourway Oasis Multi. I didn’t like the feel of it in the ball but it is nice to crochet with, though there are few fuzzy spots in the first ball.

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My other WIP is the Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket from Creative Crochet Workshop. I was browsing Ravelry last week, looking for inspiration, and found this mystery Crochet-along so decided to join in. I also joined the Ravelry group and the Facebook group. I chose ten colours from my Stylecraft Special DK stash that said “Rainbow!” to me, along with white and grey, and am using a 4.5mm hook.

There are 16 small squares in the first week, plus the first couple of rounds of a larger square. So far I have completed eight.

I don’t think this is going to be a very large blanket. The CAL is only six weeks. But it will be interesting to see how it develops.

There’s been lots of outdoor activity around my house this week. Ds1 had a few days off and I suggested he might like to take down three trees that were overgrown and snow-damaged out front. Ds2 and ds3 have also been out in the yard, raking and tidying. Amazing!

Job in progress…

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Middle tree almost gone.

After…

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The house is so much brighter, inside and out. I love it.

This is the heap of branches that needed to go to the dump…all 420 kilos of it.

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I have work today, but I’m looking forward to another massage tomorrow morning. I am still having various aches and pains which are due, I think, to me not being balanced symmetrically, rather than ordinary muscle soreness from the gym and other activities. Tightness in the neck, niggles in the wrist/forearm from the break last year, plantar fasciitis in the right heel which I really thought would be gone by now. I am trying some self-care strategies so that it doesn’t get to the point where I have to get signed off work. Minor issues, though, compared to some.

I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday. Happy crafting!

FO: Key Largo scarf

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FO: Key Largo scarf

So much fun colour in this week’s projects!

The Key Largo scarf is finished! It turned out about 70″ x 12″ and here it is in all its blocked rainbowy glory.

I used up almost all of one cake of Lion Brand Mandala so there were only two ends to weave in.  The start date was March 9th and the finish date was the 19th, so it didn’t take long. It helps that I worked on it monogamously (surprisingly for me). The pattern was easily memorisable,  and portable, which meant I could work on it anywhere.

What else have I done? Oh yes, the float experience went well. I mentioned last time that I was a little concerned about the green hair dye leaching out into the Epsom salts tank at the float place, but it was ok. And I had a very relaxing hour inside the pod, in the dark, with the music playing. So I would probably do that again.

Yesterday there was a mini challenge in the Party! International Crochet Month group on Ravelry. One of the mods suggested that we might like to make an item of clothing for our Inner Beasts using freeform crochet, and that the first person to post a photo of their beast wearing his/her new garment would win a tutorial on freeform crochet from Prudence Mapstone. Well, Prudence is the guru of freeform and I do like a challenge, so I quickly crocheted up a vest for Brian. I was sure someone would pip me at the post as it was ten hours since the challenge had been set, but I managed to be the first and therefore the winner! Yay! It was a perfect little project for an evening where I was feeling tired from work and not even feeling like picking up a hook.

I even found time for sewing this week and used some fleece remnants to make these cute armwarmers. They are so cosy and comfortable that I almost wish it was still winter…almost! I used a tutorial and downloadable pattern that I printed out. The only modification I made was to trim about an inch off the thumb, as I didn’t hem the ends so the thumbs turned out too long.

The photo on the website shows a curved seam between the hand the thumb, but I sewed it with a V-shaped seam, pivoting the needle at the base of the V. A little snip into the seam allowance meant it turned right side out just fine and I think my version looks great! This is the sort of pattern you could make lots of, as it is quick and fun.

We’ve had a very Spring-like week with temps into the double digits. In fact, on Tuesday, I went out on the back deck which faces south and took a thermometer with me and in the sun, on the deck chair next to me, it hit 36 degrees Celsius! Officially it was probably half that. So that’s two days when I have enjoyed the deck, with my new swimsuit on, getting some rays and making some vitamin D. IMG_8059

This was my spot this afternoon, where I planned the week’s meals. Shame about the shady bits, but it was certainly plenty warm enough to sit out for an hour.

Wednesday I took my car in to the Toyota dealership. There was a passenger side airbag recall, and the car was due for a maintenance check and oil change. Turns out (doesn’t it always) that there was more to do, like a new battery and removing a screw from one of the tires, so in the end they had the car for more than five hours. During that time, I walked the mall a couple of times, visited a few other shops, stopped briefly for some lunch, and later some crochet at a local park, but for at least four of those five hours I was walking. Phew! Didn’t need to go to the gym THAT day.

I’m expecting a busy weekend – work both days with extra sale deals to bring in the customers, so I will really appreciate the massage that I have booked for Monday. Enjoy your weekend!