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March 2008
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May 2008

WIPs and more


These little bibs are a couple more overdue baby gifts (the babies aren't overdue, the gifts are.) The babies were born a while ago which is why the gifts are overdue.

I used some of my dwindling stash of Cath Kidston cotton duck fabric that I bought years ago at a little shop that sadly no longer exists. CK wasn't well known back then and the metres I bought were cheap, really cheap! I've had endless enjoyment using these prints but now this stash is nearly gone.

The cotton duck is sturdy yet softens with washing. I've backed the bibs with a cozy, lightweight denim and made them reversible - always handy if when the printed side gets stained with carrots.

The pattern is my own - a simple shape and a useful size. I hope the beautiful little babes they're going to enjoy mucking them up.


I interrupt this post to bring you our budding virtuoso. Just had to, she's so excited about starting violin lessons she wants the world to know about it, or at least the minuscule percentage of it that may read this little post.

The sticker decorations were placed there by past students - it's hired from the teacher. I didn't know children get new sizes of violins as their arms grow longer.

At the moment Gracie is torn between being a prima ballerina or in the orchestra - no lack of confidence there then!

Speaking of ballerinas, I did an hour and a half of Pilates yesterday (it was a very wet, windy stay indoors day.) I followed this DVD by the amazing Ms Bussell, loved it and highly recommend it. Wasn't sure Pilates would be too effective without a real life instructor, today I know it is - there's pain in muscles that have obviously been ignored for far too long.

Coversnap_2Big WIP here. I've been working on embellishing some large, linen cushion covers for this lovely lady. I didn't want to take them apart and risk damaging the loose weave of the linen so it's been a little tricky to work on them.

I've used Bondaweb and appliqued flowers that match her room colours and I'm adding simple stitching for decoration and to strengthen the applique.

These covers have been sitting in my craft room staring at me for months. I haven't touched them because I knew I wouldn't have a long stretch of time to work on and complete them. I like to know I'll have time to finish a project or I won't even start it, another reason I still can't knit!


A little lovin relief from hay fever and colds


In our house we have a little ritual for relief from hay fever and colds. We use a bit of face massage, usually at bedtime. I started doing this on myself during a painful sinus infection then tried it on the children when they suffered with stuffy heads - they love it.

This is what we do
The child lays down with their head propped up on a couple of pillows and with the tips of my fingers I make little circles with light pressure all around the eyes (mums with Dolly Parton nails shouldn't use this remedy.) I start between the eyebrows and go around the eyes just above the brow, then continue massaging on the bony area that curves under the eye. I then very, very lightly brush their face repeatedly, from the top of the forehead over their closed eyes to the tip of their nose with my fingertips. This is the point where the child falls into a contented sleep.

Tristan suffers from hay fever, which isn't from hay at all, it's from tree pollen. So at the end of spring and early summer his nose and eyes suffer. The face massage is his favourite medicine but we've also found that using a little eye bag helps. It provides gentle pressure and can be cooled for added relief.

Our Easy Eye Bag Formula
This is such a simple solution to hay fever and sinus relief that I'm sure other people will have made these too but I've never come across them anywhere so here it is. Cut out two 11.5 x 21cm rectangles of lightweight fabric, sew them together and leave a hole for filling. Fill the bag with rice (I like to use large risotto rice) or small beans, then sew it up. Don't over stuff, leave it very pliable with lots of movement around the rice so that when it's laid over the eyes it molds to them. For added relief pop it in the fridge or freezer to cool it first.

The gentle pressure on the eyes and face is lovely and soothing - it's also a bit like giving a kid a lolly-pop after skinning a knee, just the sight of it brings a smile. Oh and one other thing, for swollen, teary eyes from hay fever, nothing beats good old cool cucumber slices.

Hope our little family formula is helpful to you, it surely helps us!



The simple things


A tiny little rest during a very long walk.

Talking my children into going for walks is sometimes quite a hard sell. Promising a treat at the end or in the middle usually does the trick. The promised treat on this journey was chocolate cake at the cafe in a village nearby, except it wasn't as nearby as I had imagined and we arrived right at closing time, oh drat!

Lucky for me the cafe manager is very kind. He gave us much needed water and even more essential, the chocolate cake we hiked for and invited us to sit if we didn't mind him mopping around us.

Over six miles my boy walked, I know it doesn't sound that much (especially to those friends who just ran the London Marathon) but it included a very, very big hill.


We tip-toed through this bluebell wood, in a week or so it will be a carpet of the a blue so beautiful cameras won't do the image justice.


And a bit further along we happened upon these little broken branches. Finding this "T" in the middle of the path was nearly more satisfying for Tristan than the chocolate cake. He's normally blog-shy but Tristan begged me to post this "T."

Going for long walks with just me and my boy, finding letters on our path and moist chocolate cake - simple things, really are the best. Children are very good at reminding me of this :)

Birthday bags and tooth fairies


Another gift bag. Very quick, lining and all - about 25 mins. I'm discovering the problem with making gifts for the childrens' classmates is once you start, they all want one.

This one is for Lilly-Grace and has our favourite colouring books inside. Happy birthday Lily-Grace!

Remember these little Tooth Fairy pouches? We've found them very helpful in keeping teeth from getting lost in the beds. Lately however we've had a few Tooth Fairy problems, seems the one that's assigned to our route keeps losing her way! Gracie lost a tooth this week and woke to find the tooth pouch under her pillow with the tooth still in it and no money anywhere (luckily mummy found a big shiny coin stuck in the pillowcase.)

The odd thing is, Tristan lost a molar the very next day and the same exact thing happened. Anyone else have problems with their tooth fairy? Ours is either getting very lost, or very forgetful - probably the latter ;)

And the winner is...

EmbroideredfairyAnne, from Arkansas is the winner of my little holdiay contest. We experienced some technical difficulties trying to communicate via email, hence the delayed announcement.

Anne's Casserole Blog is a fun read and she also has an Etsy shop with embroidered felt and paper goods. One of her blog highlights for me is this homemade Elvis costume she made for her little girl to wear on Halloween, check it out.

She's won the items I listed here which included some bits to make this little lady in the picture. Hope the package gets to you soon Anne!

I really enjoyed having this little contest, I will have more of them - maybe soon :)

Something blue and a dolly too


I had a quick trip to a local, year round boot fair this morning and came home with this treasure. It's a very old porcelain necklace which is broken to bits and I love every last scrap of it. Blue and the gold I adore. I'll probably use the parts that still have the gold backing to turn into new necklaces and the spare flowers to decorate other things. The little camel was under the flowers and I really like him too :)

In reality I'll most likely just put it on a shelf and take a peek in the box every once in a while too afraid to use the pieces for fear I'll mess them up or break them. Eventually I'll get over my fear and make something, then be too afraid to wear it for fear of dropping it or Gracie "borrowing it" (the child's never met a necklace she hasn't broken, thinks they all stretch.)

I'd love to know more about the necklace, like when and where it was made, who wore it - did she love it as much as me? My hunch is yes - and I bet it's first purchaser paid more than the £3 that I paid for it.


This is a little doll Gracie and I made together while the boys were out shopping for Tristan's first electric guitar. Yes I know he's only 9, but he's a real little rocker - some day I'll post a video of him playing (if he'll let me.)

I recently saw the tutorial for this dolly by Emily Martin of The Black Apple on Martha Stewart. It was such an easy pattern for a cloth doll I thought Gracie could make most of it (thank you Emily for sharing your template with the world!) We used my favourite antique linen for the face and arms, an old bit of vintage Marks and Spencer curtain fabric for the body and Amy Butler spots for the legs.

Gracie loved it yet quickly turned her attention to accessorizing this goofy little blue bear I made ages ago. It was destined for the charity shop when my hubby said it looked like a blue ET (I agree,) but Gracie loved it.


She fashioned a tiara, choker, sleeping bag (out of a trouser leg from my re-purposed clothing pile,) a pillow and made her first little skirt. She was so busy and just kept saddling up to the sewing machine to work on her creations - might have to look out for a spare machine at boot fairs!

The new dolly is next in the line up for accessorizing, Emily gives some tips on the tutorial but I'm sure Gracie will have a few ideas of her own :) 

Some favourite things


Glass vessels.

Jam jars, empty terrariums, biscuit jars, spice jars, I love anything see through that holds things. Buttons, vintage buckles, old beads, embroidery floss, ribbons - they all get chucked in.

I love to read about the creative process designers and crafters go through on sites like Design for Mankind and Design Sponge, many people say the same thing - something along the lines of: Everything must have it's place and be tidy or I get into a muddle.

I love a clear workspace too but I'm never far into making something when I find myself in a sea stuff. I really spread out - I need to see things physically to put them together mentally. Problem is, I have a lot of stuff, my collecting habit has a lot to do with this.

Collecting is not to be confused with hoarding. I might be a hoarder when I'm very old if I lose the energy or the ability to make things but not the desire to collect bits and pieces everywhere I go.

Glass vessels are my salvation, they contain yet I can see.


Simple spotty fabric.

Spotty fabric mixes so easily with things I tend to make. It pops up most often on bags, little soft toys and in applique pieces. This red and white is part of my last bit bought several years ago on a trip to Ikea with my mom. It's my favourite, I use it all the time and I want more!

Graphic, colourful illustrations and graphics from the 1940's, 50's and 60's.

I love the simple little picador illustration on this cigar tin. I also love mid-20th century designers and illustrators, among my favourites are Swedish graphic designer Olle Eskell whose artwork seems to be showing up all over the place at the moment. Lefor Openo (real names Marie-Claire Lefort and Marie-Francine Oppeneau the illustration and design team who worked in Paris during the 1960's.) And Jim Flora is another favourite, famous for his jazz album covers for Columbia and RCA. Just look at these incredible woodcuts and engravings that were discovered by his son a couple of years ago.


If you enjoy the work of these artists then you probably already have seen Tim Biskup. Though contemporary, his style is definitely mid-20th century - even down to the colour palette. Little birds like his are the subject of many of my own doodles, I draw and stitch them everywhere, but his colours and compositions are brilliant. This tiny little book of 100 paintings is packed with fun - every time I crack it open it makes me smile.

I came across these items while clearing my space once again. Had to start with the drawers in my sewing table, turned-upside down when we moved.


Now they're usable once more.

Little lambs and ponies


There's a lot of lamby love going on around here.


We're so lucky to have lambing happening right next to us. Gracie and Tristan have been helping feed the lambs whose mums had multiple births.


These little guys were three of four - oh my!


One of the delivery rooms.


Lucky for the lambs the snow has melted and it's warming up.

Still too cold and damp for picnics, but not indoors. While you're at it, make a tent with your mother's best sheets.


These were a present from Auntie Patty in America. Mean mummy wouldn't buy them, thank goodness for Aunties. Gracie has been using a shoe box for a stable, we decided to make it look a bit more stable-like, really it's more of a corral now.


Gracie marked out some lines to make posts - this craft stick was a perfect size.


Mummy did the cutting.


Now a corral with a simple door. Ordinarily she'd have the paint out and probably lots of other bits to add to it, but the sunshine beckoned so she brought them out for some rays.

The ponies are enjoying the sunshine but they were quickly abandoned by Gracie so she could help with another lamb feed. Real, fluffy lambs beat plastic ponies any day.

Land of wonders


What a week we had.


And now home. We've returned to lots of new little neighbours.


And snow... for crying out loud - IT'S APRIL!!!


And yet more snow.


Watch out!


A bit of a shock after this.

Italy was magic, just being away was magic. Not even a 24 hr tummy bug dampened our spirits. We did the things that every average Joe Traveller does in Tuscany. Climbed the Leaning Tower, visited David and ate way too much gelato.

Though I've been before, it was way better this time. This time I could listen to the very audible "ooohs and aaahs" of our children seeing these things for the first time, and what's even better - they appreciated every drop of unadulterated beauty that surrounded them. Well, OK not every drop, Renaissance paintings in their hundreds were a bit too much ("... yea mum, it's another angel - and I really don't care who painted it") but the sculpture, architecture and atmosphere were happily absorbed, especially if there was climbing involved.

Dscn0302_3Sorry for the tourist holiday snaps - this one I had to remember. Don't actually remember taking it because my eyes were closed, hence the angle.

We were at the top of the Leaning Tower, most people don't go up the last top bit - unless they have an eight year old, who is really only six but six year olds aren't aloud to go up the tower, so that day she was eight. My legs turned to jelly, but not hers.


Been wondering how the childrens' sketch books will be received during show-and-tell, anatomically correct drawings of David included.

Also wondering, does anyone dedicate years to the creation of just one piece of art any more? The David took Michelangelo three years to complete. Seen by millions, it's over 500 years old and still standing, and still very, very beautiful.

Must get back to mountains of laundry or we'll all be sporting birthday suits round here - and it won't be as pretty, trust me ;)