Camp NaNo, July 107

I made a decision a few weeks ago that the only way I am going to get to do what I want in life, as opposed to a series of pay-the-bills jobs, is by creating the job I want to do. To take control, in effect.

This might sound simple, and a bit of a Duh! thing to say, but taking control is not something I do. I am not a leader; I can only just decide what I want to eat from a menu, usually when the waiter appears to take the order because everyone else at the table has already decided. At that point I just pick something.

You may have noticed some small changes around my Cocoary. This is a part of my Taking Control.

I have found, though, since making this decision, that I am generally happier in the life and job (which I dislike) which I am currently living and doing. I have also found that something has clicked and I have more energy and enthusiasm to pursue my dreams. This is the most important change, I think. Never underestimate the power of having energy and a clear head. The job I dislike no longer gets me down like it did. My brain, which previously wasted a lot of energy thinking and dreaming of ways out, is free, now, to concentrate on the Way Out.

And so, to Camp NaNo July 2017.

I believe I have an account, but you won’t find me in the campsite. I’m not a people-person, sorry. Bit too busy for me.

Anyway, my plans for the camp which begins in the next few days are reasonably simple.

I have two story ideas currently competing for attention; they have been for the last few years. One is the story which I wrote for the first NaNoWriMo I completed in 2013, and still haven’t rewritten or polished to *er-hum* someone’s exacting standards, and the other is one which has been expanding, slowly, since the first scene wrote itself in my head on the way home from work while it was supposed to be working on the first story. Ideas are like that. However, both are at the point where they could, conceivably, be written (or rewritten in the case of the former) probably without too much difficulty.

In the spirit of taking control, though, and with the experience of writing without a plan something of a painful memory, my Camp NaNo goal is thus:

To write a plan, a synopsis, a detailed description, of both stories.

Down the Rabbit Hole

When I was growing up, my local shop for crafting supplies was a fabric factory shop. It was, and still is, an Aladdin’s cave of all things fabric-y, with a supply of wools and yarns for good measure. I grew up in sheep-country, where the local economy in years gone by was built on wool. I loved going to this factory shop, and I’ve built quite a stash from my trips over the years.

BUT. As might be deduced, it caters to a select handful of crafts: to quilters and dressmakers, to embroiderers and cross-stitchers, to knitters and crocheters. All things fabric and yarn, in fact.

Now, I’m generally fine with this; I am primarily a cross-stitcher, with occasional crocheting and dress-making thrown in.

Leaving home, though, meant that I had to find a new supplier for my crafting needs. And so I found Hobbycraft.

 

Hobbycraft, if you don’t know it, is less an Aladdin’s cave, more a rabbit-warren of crafts. Chances are, you will find what you need, and then, getting lost on your way to pay, you will find other things. Things which glitter and sparkle, which call to your crafter’s heart, sing out a siren’s song, and you will find yourself walking out with a whole new craft to start.

Me, I have started dabbling with papercrafts; with scrapbooking, in particular. I’ve cross-stitched a few cards in the past (it’s a nice way to use up small kits and patterns), but otherwise stayed out of the paper aisles. I mean, I’ve always like notebooks (love Paperchase!), but otherwise paper doesn’t inspire me like fabrics and threads.

Until earlier this year, when I got myself a scrapbook to do something with those small cross-stitch kits which come free with the magazines. I wasn’t turning them into whatever they were suppose to be; I was just stitching them and tucking them, out of sight, into a Projects Drawer. Which is a bit of a waste, when you think about it.

And now, when I go into Hobbycraft, I find myself wandering the papercraft aisles, looking at the pretty papers and the stickers and the sparkly pens. I’ve even started looking at scrapbook kits on eBay.

I can resist, sometimes. I mean, I have other projects, and not enough time to spend on another craft, but oh the paper’s so pretty, and it wouldn’t take all that long, would it? It’s just arranging things artfully and sticking them down, right? And it’s not like I’ll be worrying about Proper Layouts – mine’s just for my cross-stitching.

 

Chocolate Tasting and Marshmallows

I’m having a month off from my Chocolate Tour.

Okay, what I really mean is that I’ve run out of single-origins and haven’t got around to finding more yet. And I think my writing camp this month is going to be enough ‘travelling’ for me. One trip at a time, after all.

I have, though, got a bit of light reading for round the camp-fire which has nothing to do with my writing plans: A Chocolate Tasting Kit, which I stumbled across during a browse of the book-section in my local TKMaxx.

I (almost) couldn’t resist. I wanted to find out if the language of chocolate tasting is as pretentious as wine tasting. Going by the descriptions I’ve read, it certainly has the potential for it. I am disappointed, though, that there was a lack of a chocolate bar in the kit. Can’t have everything, I suppose.

Instead, I have a camping favourite. Marshmallows. Only, naturally, mine are chocolate-covered. Just right for the beginning of the camp…

FNWL: North Rode Rally

Up until about Easter this year, I hadn’t driven in about six and a half years. Then, some time in the last year, I volunteered (was volunteered) to be a co-pilot on a 48-hour, 1500-mile drive around England in May. In my nearly half-century Triumph Herald.

So I had to relearn to drive. Which didn’t happen until about Easter, and the first car I drove happened to be the Herald. Around an empty Tesco carpark for half an hour. A month before the Drive.

And then I did the Drive, with a 2-hour stint in the early hours of the morning along an empty motorway (such a lovely time to be driving!), and I discovered another reason to add to the original for why I wanted a Triumph sports-car in the first place. The original reason was because they’re so pretty, particularly the Spitfires, Heralds and Vitesses. Now though, I’ve discovered I prefer driving the Herald to modern cars. The only thing I have to remember is the lack of synchromesh between first and second gear, which means you can only put it into first when at a complete standstill. Otherwise they grind horribly and Dad gets cross…

Anyway, having rediscovered my love for such pretty cars, I’ve been lusting after photos of them on eBay and wishing I had the money. Or at least the time and space for another restoration, although not such a complete strip-down and rebuild. Learnt my lesson from last time. Don’t mind stripping down for a respray, mostly because chances are I’ll want to change the colour anyway. But this is all by the by.

 

Mark is less keen on the beautiful Triumphs; he’s much more interested in American muscle-cars, which have their place, but I do have concerns with their ability to cope with windy English roads. Mind you, there was a quite fabulous Vauxhall Cresta at the rally, which probably has much the same problems.

But I still persuaded him that the North Rode Rally, advertising itself on Congleton high street with a Standard Vanguard, would be worth a trip. There would be military vehicles, which he rather likes, as well. Fortunately, he indulges me and my dreams of a Triumph of my own, and we duly set off.

Although it was quite a small rally, being just the one large field, it was an enjoyable few hours, wandering around and admiring some really beautiful cars. And not just the Triumphs (see above for the blue Vitesse and white Triumph TR2). Mark was stopped short by a Ford Mustang – the yellow and black above. And then by several of the military vehicles. And we were both amused by what appeared to be a Tractor Beauty Pageant, although only from a distance, so we’re not sure quite what was going on in the ring.

And there’s another rally in mid-September, so I’ve already marked it in my diary…

 

The Crafter’s Holiday

I had a week off this week. Nothing special, just a week at home with plans to crack on with various projects and to catch up with TV series and generally to have a lovely, lazy time.

The projects took a hit though.

One new magazine….

FestivalBracelet.jpg

…and a trip to Hobbycraft….

Kingfisher.jpg

…and my other projects lie forgotten in my project bag. Oops.

On the other hand, I’ve found these few cross-stitches to be very meditative and I remember why I took up stitching in the first place. I also think I might have completed the festival cuff in the time the pattern suggested. For the first time ever.

Projects Almost Done: Spring-Cleaning the Craft Room

Every crafter has them. Not just projects abandoned half way through, but projects which are basically finished and just need framing or mounting or the outlines or something to actually complete it.

TakingFlight

For me, it’s normally the outlining which gets forgotten. But in my tidying and trying to find quicker crafting tasks, I’ve come across several projects which just need those final touches – a mount, a frame, in one case clock hands – to complete them. And since my flat came with picture hooks already on the walls, this seems an excellent motivator to finish off those projects. I’ve even, finally, got the clock mechanism for something I otherwise completed two years ago.

TimeToStitch

It might even be put together before the end of the year.

The Simple Things

With my life being so busy at the moment – I feel I hardly have any time to myself – I’m taking great pleasure in the little things. In the things which take little energy or effort. The Simple Things In Life.

My favourite recipes are quick and easy; the sort which can be committed to memory after one or two attempts and can be adapted without trouble.

As an example, chocolate truffles. The basic recipe I use can be adapted for all sorts of flavours and types of chocolate, and these days, can be made in about 5 minutes. 20 if you include the rolling out. And I suppose there’s the 3 hours or so waiting for the mixture to set.

RaspberryTruffles.jpg

I prefer to use dark chocolate – it seems to handle the melting and mixing process more happily than milk or white. In fact, unless absolutely necessary, I don’t use milk chocolate at all.

White chocolate is so-so. The fat tends to come out more with white chocolate which gives the mix an odd appearance, but doesn’t affect the taste. Might just be the cheap chocolate, of course. On the other hand, it’s better for more delicate flavours than dark, which can overpower.

The above truffles are raspberry and coconut. With a splash of mango vodka.