Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Getting festive

xmasbunting_02What a year. I didn’t think I’d be in ‘this place’, and certainly not so soon, but I’m delighted to say I’m enjoying the bubbly build up to the looming holidays. Signs it’s getting a bit jolly in these parts:

::Christmas bunting listed and selling in my Folksy shop::

::White Company Winter candle lit ::

::enjoyed my first glass of mulled wine at the local Christmas Light Switch-On ::

::dried fruit currently steeping in sherry in readiness for Stir Up Thursday::

::began the not-at-all subtle magenta pink and red taffeta and organza spectacular that I secretly wished I owned for Tilly to wear to various parties and events in December::

On more wintery, but rather less festive-focused news, I yesterday finished off a slightly-more-practical sweater which successfully hid a multitude of food stains and milk dribbles for a WHOLE DAY. Gotta love a good chunky fair-isle-effect yarn!

And thus, we are festive and poised for mince pies, gingerbread and snow…

To help in my endeavours…

Our street is currently up for nomination in the Sainsburys Perfect Christmas competition which will result in a festive street party complete with snow, choir, fireworks, food, bubbles and so forth for the winners! Last winter, our road was snowed in, and this autumn the resulting baby boom has been popping left right and centre. There are now over 20 under 4s in our road, with 9 born in the last two months. What with sleep deprivation and an endless cycle of laundry and sterilising, we could do with some help on the party front.

And so, loyal blogland, please head over here and click to support us!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not your usual catalogue

What a find! Thanks, Nicole, I can’t believe this one escaped my surfing fingertips until now!

Gifted magazine. An utter triumph from start to finish. Pages upon pages of inspiration for the holidays… And SO MANY LINKS TO EXPLORE…

In the ten minute ‘flick’ that I’ve undertaken for research purposes, I can start by sending you in the direction of these STUNNING sites that had previously escaped me… Be still, little wallet, be still…

Wrapping ideas and genius repurposing of household objects for last-minute pizazz on parcels… Nice Package Blog

Free downloads, printables, tags, labels, tutorials and inspiration via the Creature Comforts blog. Unfortunately for us Brits, that will only ever mean one thing… Luckily for Ez, she is creative enough for these images to hopefully start replacing these ones…


Pretty creations from Linda & Harriet including this stamp demonstrating glorious packaging ideas too!

Vintage Flower ToFrom Stamp

And finally, a whole load of eye candy at Redefine Home – though I’m not sure it’s with international shipping…

Right… what projects am I adding to my MUST DO THE MINUTE THE LITTLE ONE GOES TO BED list???

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pretty Crafty

Accoutrements to fill my burgeoning craft drawer never go neglected…

Stamps - A bargainous $8 each from Etsy

Tape measure ribbon - $3.90 a yard

Postcard reprinted onto kraft paper for transferring/printing/labelling etc… $2.90

I turn my back for ONE DAY and Etsy suddenly comes over all crafty supplies and prettiness. Or did I just miss the boat altogether???

Oh and this prettiness:

Which I’m sure I could do myself but for only $6 for 4 cards, it barely seems worth it!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Were you sitting comfortably? Were you listening?

Approximately one hour and forty-five minutes into this show and you will hear my dulcet crafty tones describing to Simon Mayo how to make a teapot costume for a 10 year old girl who has been cast as Mrs Potts of Beauty and the Beast…

I emailed in the details below and ten minutes later, received a call from the Radio 2 studio and forty minutes later was chatting with Mr Mayo himself!

For those who really actually want to make the costume, my suggestions were:

Teapot costume idea for a non-sewing mummy for a 10year old daughter:

An oversized white long sleeved t-shirt for adults with white tights and white bobble hat.

If you connect one sleeve to the tights or hip of the tshirt and then fill with a strip of pipe insulation that will get your spout.

The other sleeve can be permanently up with a bit of insulation foam at the top to hold the spout...

A length of elastic run around the bottom of the t-shirt will hoik it up around the hips and then the abdomen can be stuffed or wrapped with quilting wadding to 'round' her out a bit.

A bobble hat will be the lid, and a bit of fabric paint to be the floral design on the middle along with a stripe around the hem will do it....

Feel free to call me on the number below to explain in more detail but this should work, for not much money and not much time/skill requirements!!!

As I said to my friends, autographs and appearances can be coordinated through my PA, Matilda.

Excited beyond all measure… And sorry for not mentioning the blogosphere and my little shop – I got worried that the BBC would immediately cut me off for plugging and advertising!

Any lurkers lurking on the radio and heard me??

Creative Parenting

An article written for my local parenting magazine, Seeds & Saplings. I hope you don’t mind my duplicating it here for you.

I recently finished a book that I had picked up in the library, believing it to be a kind of grownup, female Adrian Mole – Bridget Jones with wellies on, I guess. The Desperate Diary of a Country Housewife. I anticipated amusing mishaps involving mice and attempts to pluck pheasants. I anticipated jolly japes and cultural malapropisms… Instead, the yawning chasm between Country Living idyll and hellish, wet, lonely, dilapidated nightmare chilled me to the core. The author, abandoned in deepest rural Shire by an international jet-setting husband barely functions as a mother of two (and subsequently pregnant with number three), friend, wife or even human being, for the eighteen months of their self-imposed exile. The (female) community attempts to absorb her into their carousel of lattes and ponyclub but the author feels they share little common ground…The final discovery of the wholly untouched ‘craft drawer’ and the realisation that the idyll of perfect parenthood is largely unachievable regardless of your postcode and organic surroundings, I found all too familiar…

A large proportion of Seeds & Saplings readers are, no doubt, ex-commuters or at least ex-Londoners, moving out of the Big City to the Little City for the simultaneous convenient proximity and satisfying distance. The standard S&S mother seems (by my extraordinarily unscientific guesswork) to be driven, intelligent and passionate, forever suspended in a dream of guilty cross-roads, decisions, career what-ifs and potential commuter-widow to boot. Or maybe that’s just me.

I know I’ve done little to undermine the idyll of flourishing creative housewife in this column. I wanted to take this opportunity, in my first birthday article, to set the record straight. I’ve spent the first nine months of my daughter’s life meandering in and out of bouts of blackness. Call it Post Natal Depression, call it almightily skewed expectations, call it an extended lack of sleep and a VERY active baby…

As an ex-Londoner, an ex-career girl and an ex-most-other-things, I have spent the last year ‘trying’. Trying to maintain my creativity for my own sake as well as for my daughter (‘Oh yes, I learned to bake at my mother’s knee, from as young as I can remember…’)… trying to maintain a shell-shocked marriage without leading my husband into thinking that sex (and therefore, horror of horrors, another baby) may be in the offing… trying desperately to make this life, this new version of me, this ‘Home Counties Mummy’ label sit comfortably without feeling entirely fraudulent.

It hasn’t been without its ‘moments’, nor without prescription medication, but I can honestly say that throwing myself headfirst into NCT life and, by extension, St Albans life, has allowed me to see behind the veneer. You well-turned-out mummies with the beautiful buggies and wholesome vegetables in the reusable carrier bags are all also trying. Trying to get your kids to eat. Or sleep. Or take turns on the slide. Or not thump my daughter for her umpteenth attempt to steal your kid’s ricecake.

Motherhood, indeed parenthood, is a great big conspiracy, a great big club, a great big gang, and it has taken me two thirds of my daughter’s first year to be grateful I’ve joined and not regret, in every waking moment, my unsuspecting lifetime membership.

In my experience, local mummies can be guilt-ridden, frazzled, stretched (in every, and I mean every, sense of the word) and exhausted… But they are also friendly, honest, caring, thoughtful and eager to help. And so, with that experience in mind, I hope you take my one and only suggestion for holiday fun with the requisite KILO of salt… I will be trying to do this activity too, but for now, the husband’s at work, the dinner needs cooking and my daughter’s bathtime is looming… Excuses excuses…

And that’s the activity. I have spent all year trying to be and forgotten to actually be a mum. I remind myself that washing up can wait, that laundry can hang from the radiator for another hour and that presents can be wrapped, with wine to hand, late on Christmas Eve if necessary. The house may be an utter bombsite and we’ll be having fishfingers for tea (again!), but Tilly needs to have a story read to her, a song sung, a rattle shaken, and by golly, I’m the one to do it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Lisa Armstrong of the Times this week asked if anyone had a surefire way to guarantee that Remembrance poppies are held on solely with the help of the little pin that is offered. I managed to mangle mine a mere hour after purchase this year and it ended up consigned (as all things in my life, currently, are wont to) to the bottom of my diaper bag.

I personally can’t decide if the more sparkly brooch options for sale are somewhat… gaudy??? Inappropriate…? Or am I missing the point? That is, whatever it takes to get support and raise funds: if that requires a bit of diamante then so be it…?

I do rather like this idea, though…

And so have made myself this to wear this Sunday. And I will continue to donate my £1 this year and in the years to come, safe in the knowledge that my poppy will remain safely attached to my jacket.


Anyone else going to join me? A day late and a dollar short, I know, but in time for Remembrance Sunday if not for the 11th itself.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Playtime for Softies

It’s official.

She can PLAY.

And she can HAVE A GOOD TIME.

And as she takes after me (and in fairness, the Boy too, on this front) it’s not exactly tough to read her feelings…

  P1050593  P1050602 


I know they’re dens of sin, hives of bacteria and source of many a visit to A&E but, blimey, do they just knacker her out or what????

I have never been so grateful for padded scaffolding in out-of-town industrial estates…

Monday, November 08, 2010

Pretty things in unlikely places…

Gotta love this cushionscreen printed on linen…


Great cotton canvas storage too!


Washed linen apron…


All of these simple, raw and fabulous textiles are available from H&M!


And these little napkins too! So cute!

Who knew?? 

Friday, November 05, 2010

Speedy Holiday Crafts

It’s Fifty Days until Christmas.

Begin weeping forthwith.

And then dry your tears, pick up your gluestick and get making!!

If you can forgive them the ignominy of having Christmas in the summer, the Aussies at this website have got some gorgeous little crafty tutorials. Have a wander and a wonder. Pretty!

Button hearts can be made in holiday colours, or the tutorial amended so that you can make a red and white button candy cane, or a green button wreath with a red ribbon to hang it from… There is certainly a smorgasbord of buttons at my local charity shop and I usually grab a bag full (well, meticulously sift is probably closer to the truth, but then that would make me a little obsessive… which wouldn’t do..) and I’m rarely charged more than a £1…Cox & Cox are selling pretty ones for £6 if you can’t quite bear to get creative on that front…

I’ve got a plan to decorate everyone’s presents this year with a Christmas ornament of some form (it started off being these birds, but will now likely be a range of bits and bobs)… and the buttons may very well contribute to this idea…

P1050053 P1050051

  Also, love it or hate it, Kirstie’s Homemade Home has returned to our screens. I’m torn on this one… I love that the craft revival is getting some serious airtime (about bloody time too, dontcha think??) but I much preferred Mastercrafts for actually showing the skill, diligence and time required to learn, perfect and maintain a skill. Kirstie’s ability to 'make’ a stained glass window by nipping a few panes of glass, playing with a soldering iron and then leaving the craftsperson to ‘finish it off’ rather riled last time and I’m pained to see that this series will be little different (scuse the pun…). Having said that, the show’s site is full of little tutorials with varying degrees of relevance and skill, but worth a gander nonetheless…Scroll down to the bottom of this page for a range of Christmas crafts as suggested by the original Property Porn Star.

P1040460Also enjoying The Royal Sisters blog for their grandma decorations. Got a bit obsessed with their hearts  earlier this year and though I’d combine snowflake and heart loving from last year with a bit of Evergreen crochet to make a cute little threesome of pressies.


The obligatory fudge-as-present recipe I suggest here is from the Foodie Porn Star, good ol’ Nigella…I have never quite mastered the faff of sugar thermometers (truth be told, I don’t own one, but the degree of accuracy (scuse the pun) required scares me to my nougat core. Pretty packaging and vintage tins an obligatory accessorising for this giftie… Gotta love a good boot fair for that. May be worth wrapping your food in greaseproof paper in the tin, though, if you’re not sure of its sterility!

With the recent fashion focus on tunics, too, I’m going to be running up a few tops for friends as the fit and the shaping is inherently generous and therefore there shouldn’t be any embarrassing issues… I’m delighted to have already modelled what I promised to finish in time for the holidays, and indeed it has been upon my shoulders for the last TWO nights out that I have enjoyed. Boden & Toast, I salute you, and then bow to my sewing machine powers. And acknowledge my terrible photography – and forgetting to take pictures in daylight. Pictures to follow. Post to be posted. xx

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Cyber socialising pays dividends

The perks of blogging are by no means limited to the potential for countless devoted readers, endless riches, publishing contracts and film deals

This summer I have been contacted by a number of individuals who have been lurking around here for longer than I could believe, sending me love and happy thoughts in amongst the grey fogs. Turns out my whinging, whining, waiting, wishing and hoping has struck a chord and I’m delighted to say that I met one of my lovely readers for the requisite Mummy latte last week (on her birthday, no less) and chatted of cakes, crochet and Calpol for over an hour. As Anne of Green Gables would say, A kindred spirit indeed.

P1030173Also, while social networking (!) I clicked ‘like’ on an advert for this company and loaded up a picture of my recent knit – Tilly’s vintage dress/top/tunic which I made from Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino – and won their weekly competition! A very lucky little blogger won a beautiful pair of Brittany knitting needles (I chose good ol’ reliable 4mm for ease) which arrived, complete with some rather generous vouchers, less than a week later.


What with the gloriously generous swops I recently participated in, on top of free luxury knitting needles, new friends and hugs sent across the ether… this world wide web may just possibly consist of a little bit more than an awful lot of dirty pictures and offers to expand your manhood. Modern technology, traditional meetings and vintage knitting. Everyone’s a winner.