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..... We make
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Three children *** Two dogs *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That's us!

We've been blogging since January 2010.

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Just a thought….

"A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe."

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Life

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  • Fiona Cambouropoulos Cheryl this is really ingenious. The design is so eye catching, it would cost quite a lot to buy a branded pencil case like this,... 26 Apr
  • Craft Mother Thanks Yvonne. An easy project, as they go. 25 Apr
  • Craft Mother Very true. I'll always be able to spot it. 25 Apr
  • Craft Mother Frozen raspberries seem to be permanently at the top of my shopping list at the moment. Hope you enjoy them. 25 Apr
  • Craft Mother Thanks April. 🙂 25 Apr
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Time to smile

"God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles."

- J B S Haldane

Debs Random Writings

I’ve been featured by

Just-because-I-can garden bunting

I like a crafting challenge. I really do. I’m up for trying something I’ve not attempted craft-wise before. Or done before, but maybe with a twist this time. It usually results in creative, problem solving, which I absolutely adore.

I would put my just-because-I-can garden bunting firmly into this category. I’ve made plenty of granny squares, but never out of garden twine.

Back last year Ali, over on Instagram, shared a photo of her inspirational garden bunting, crocheted with twine. Garden twine? Whoah! I never thought of using that before. I mean, I’ve knitted with plastic bag yarn for outdoors use, but why had I not thought of twine? I didn’t realise that it came in so many different, lovely colours. My brain went into over-drive, contemplating how well it would work out in the garden.

When you think about it, and I’m quite sure it doesn’t takes up much of most people’s pondering time, twine is designed to survive outside, isn’t it? In fact, it is robust and weathers well. Otherwise why would generations of gardeners have paid over good money and purchased a reel of the stuff, for holding up bean poles and tying up over ambitious vines, that threatened to take over? I, for one, have bought enough twine over the years to know how tough it is.

Added to that, it looks like yarn. The perfect medium to crochet garden bunting.

It seemed that the stars were aligned and in my favour, because soon after, I found a clutch of colourful garden twice for sale in a craft shop. It was meant to be.

I started my first square, but soon realised that it wasn’t going to give up without a fight. It turns out that twine would prefer gentle curves. The type of curve that you see around bean poles or branches. Not hairpin turns, where it has to keep turning sharply left all the time. Twine is not very flexible. My hands soon ached from trying to wrestle the twine into a shape that it wasn’t the right structure to take.

Luckily, Ali came to the rescue and suggested a larger crochet hook. I’m pretty new to crocheting. My collection of hooks is limited. I could go down sizes, but not up. If we were talking knitting needles, then no problem. A pair for every occasion, but crochet hooks? No. The brakes were put on the project until I next went to a craft shop.

At this point, the stars dispersed and my garden bunting skulked in the bottom of my work basket. Replaced with more desirable and flexible craft choices. Can you blame me? I did find a larger crochet hook over the winter. Not an inspiring time to make anything for the garden. It wasn’t until a week or two ago that I picked up the stubborn squares again.

I made a square. It was easier, but it looked like it was made of loops. Loose loops. If I was going to finish this project, I needed to return to the original hook again.

So I did.

The twine ran out after four and a half squares. I raided my potting shed and used my run of the mill twine to finish off the last square. I now had five squares and hands that would rather lie flat too.Despite all the aches these squares caused, I am really rather pleased with them. They add a bit of fun to the garden. I was deciding between draping them on the potting shed or the covered bench, but decided on the bench in the end. I think. I may still change my mind and put them somewhere totally different.

The Pup gives them her seal of approval. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if she repositions them, by the morning. She has very definite ideas, does the Pup. I haven’t forgotten about my newly planted lavender that was meant to line the front path. I had images of brushing the scented foliage and flowers as I walked to the front door. Enjoying the fragrance.

There is still one lavender plant that survived, as a constant reminder of one evening’s work for her, when she declared I had planted them in the wrong place. Silly human.

Breathe.

Back to the bunting. I’m happy to have tried the project. I like the way it turned out. I’m pretty sure I won’t be making any more, any time soon. Might just use all subsequent garden twine to tie up my runner beans. It does a remarkably good job at holding up beans.

Sharing. Good idea.

Dear Daughter: About running the wrong race

Dear Daughter

This quilt block (Contrary Wife) very nearly escaped being made. After the last block, I had enough patchwork pieces to make up your Dear Daughter quilt. Albeit, as a square, but a chance to finish the quilt. Hooray, I thought. Then I remembered a letter I wanted to include, which meant another block had to be made.

My square quilt no longer worked, with this plus one. I need to sew more blocks to make the quilt into a rectangle shape.  Six more required after this one. It would have been even more if I’d wanted to make it square again.

The upside is that I can choose more patterns to include in your quilt. Play with more combinations of fabric. Maybe dig out a few bits of advice to share, in the form of letters, which brings me nicely onto the subject of this latest Dear Daughter letter.

(Contrary Wife quilt block no 21 and harp tuning key)

I’ve told you this story many times. You even join in on the punch line, but it seems amiss to not include it as one of my Dear Daughter letters. It is a lesson I learnt too late. If I could send a letter to my younger self, this is the one I would choose. Without a doubt.

I’ll start at the beginning. In secondary school, at the stage they now call KS3, I found school work relatively easy. With a little bit of work, I could get good marks. I’d be one of those students that everyone automatically assumed would be in the group, getting the top test scores, each time. It was great. I liked it. It opened doors to other learning opportunities. I was in top sets. Before long, this meant that the work I was set was challenging and that was spot on for keeping me interested and focused.

There was, however, one fly in the ointment. I could never reach the accolade of first. Leader boards were posted up on classroom walls, telling us who came first, second, third, etc. Awful when I think back to it. I don’t want to think about the long term effect of these lists on the students that tussled for last place each time.

In reality, it really didn’t matter if it was posted up on the wall or not. We all compared scores and places among ourselves. We all knew who was doing better than us or who we were beating. I know it’s the same for you. You tell me who did better than you. Sometimes adding an “of course, X got a higher score than me”.

I’m jumping ahead. In my story, the fly in the ointment was one particular person. We’ll call him D. I could never beat him. It got to a stage when even fellow classmates were aware and would joke as test marks were handed out. I didn’t always come second. There were a group of us that jostled around to get the top positions, but none of us broke through to the top spot. There may have been the odd occassion, but there was always a good reason, such as D hadn’t taken the test, which would mean I still hadn’t beaten him.

I was competitive. I wanted to beat him.

To such an extent that my actual score became unimportant. What was the point of getting 89%, let’s say in the test, if I only ranked 2nd or 3rd?  Getting the first position was all that mattered. Now this is not a good mindset, to say the least. It is unsustainable. To run a race everytime for first place and, at best, achieve second each time, eventually something had to give in my young mind. It took me years, but eventually I gave up. I stopped caring. I was never going to win. I was beat. I no longer cared if I did well.

I dropped. Not to the bottom, but I left that top group, scrabbling for first place. It was easier and less pressured. I did enough to stay off the radar. I wish someone had noticed. Given me a guiding hand. Instead I just cruised along. Distracted by other aspects of being a teenager. Not entirely happy. Not achieving my full potential.

It wasn’t until years later, as I flicked through a magazine, that I realised that I had been running the wrong race all those years ago. How did I not realise? This is the message I would love to go back and tell my former self. Oh, for a time machine. Who knows what I’d be doing if only I had known. Maybe I’d be inventing the time machine. One thing I’m pretty sure about is that I would have been happier at school.

So as I flicked through that magazine, a photo caught my eye. It was of D. Older now and smiling out of the pages. Face tanned. He had his arm round a girlfriend. Judging by the background and their clothes, they were on holiday. Maybe in the far east. Wherever it was, it was hot. He had chosen to send in a holiday snap to our school Alumni magazine. I was curious. Of course I was. Here was the person that I could never beat. What had he done with all my that success?

He was now a surgeon.

At that moment, the great, big, proverbial penny dropped. Oh my goodness. Why had I not realised? I had been running a race against a future surgeon. What was I thinking? Why did no one tell me? Of course, no one could have told me the future, but if I had known, I would never have tried. I had been running the wrong race, and the funny thing was that the race track I was on, I had been the winner. I had been winning all the time.

thunk

You see, I came top in the race of future programmers, my future career. All that time, my eyes had been on the wrong race track. I didn’t know it, but that was the one for the future medic. I was me. Not him. There was only one person on my particular race track that I had to beat, and that was me. I shouldn’t have been comparing myself to anyone else but me.

If I was to go back in time, I would give one piece of advise. Beat your own personal best. That’s it. It’s OK to see how others are doing. Not to wish to beat them necessarily. More to spur yourself on in your study and keep you on the right track. Check you are putting everything of yourself into doing your best. If they are beating their own scores by studying in a certain way, maybe you should try that too.

I wish I had known.

I wish I had tackled every test or homework with the attitude that I wanted to get a better score than my last one. I wish the league table on the classroom wall had shown how I was beating my personal best rather than showing I had beaten so many other people in my class. It could have been a graph, where I would have willed it to get higher as the line went from left to right. That should have been my race. To beat my personal best.

Yes, there are exams approaching. You have a year until you sit your GCSEs. Yes, your score will be compared with others. Thousands and thousands of others. Most of those people, you will never know. They may have all sorts of advantages that give them a better chance. It will be the one and only time you will run a race against them. How do you prepare for that? How do you prepare for a test against future surgeons/astro-physists/aero-engineers/professors and goodness only knows who else?

You don’t. You can’t and you shouldn’t. That would be the wrong race. You need to beat your personal best on the day. You need to beat your personal best on all the tests and homeworks running up to that ultimate exam, so that when you take the exam, you are doing your best. To reach your full potential. Reach for your sky.

Like they say, if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves.

If you take care of your personal bests, then the grades will look after themselves.

I hope D is doing well. He was a nice person. It would be good to know that he has become top of his profession. If for nothing else, and partly because it is such an ingrained attitude, I find myself thinking that it wasn’t so bad to come second to a future, first class surgeon, all those years ago. Turns out I wasn’t in the same race.

Hindsight. Would be a wonderful thing.

As ever

Your loving mother

This is part of my Dear Daughter quilt project. One quilt block. One letter. For my eldest daughter. To see more blocks, and letters, and the background to the project click here.

PoCoLo
After the Playground
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Sharing. Good idea.

Photos

There have been cases when people lifted my photos and words, and used them without credit to me or asking permission first. Using them for their own commercial gain. I have now added a level of security to deter people from doing this. Apologies to people who do play nicely. If you would like to use any of my photos, please contact me.

Copyright notice:

All my words and photos are copyrighted to me. They cannot be used for commercial benefit by anyone else. If you would like to use any of them, then please ask me first and don't just take. Written permission only. Don't pass my words, photos or ideas off as your own. It's not nice.