Friday, December 09, 2011

DesignMom Love

Thanks so much to Gabrielle of the fabulously inspiring DesignMom for posting up my birth story. I know it’s all a bit old news, but it seems to have been enjoyed by a few people. If you’ve come across me from Gabrielle’s post, then feel free to look through my archives. Tilly is now 2 years old and the first year of her life was pretty bleak to say the least (from my point of view anyhoo)… Delighted to say I found the light at the end of the tunnel and am now a close approximation to the mummy I strive to be.

Have a look around, say hello and feel free to stay awhile! x

Two Years of …

I struggle to fill that word above… Two years of… what? Motherhood? Caring? Sleeplessness? Lack of control over my life? Trouble (as a name or a concept?!) Chaos? Laughs? Tears? Emotion.


That’s the word. Tumultuous, unstoppable, uncontrollable emotion. In all its raw and unedited, heart-wrenching crazy. Some days are wonderful, some days are horrendous and I’ve yet to work out a formula to predict which is which. The planned days of brilliance, excitement and activities rarely live up to the anticipation or expense. The spontaneous moments of grabbed teas in supermarket cafes which end in laughter, new games, new words and new smiles as a family and a coherent unit of shared experiences.

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My little baby is developing into a girl. You are into pretending, creating and eating. Not necessarily in that order. You play shop. You play chef. You play chopping. You play shopping. You play doctors and tests the heartbeat of all and any children in your radius.

You stick. You will swathe anything and everything with glue. PVA glue is occasionally mistaken for biscuit icing and vice versa. You are less interested in attaching things to the said gluey bits of paper – that is normally left to Mummy in order for the walk home to end up less ‘drippy’. We go to playgroups and playdates and you are mostly lovely and occasionally less so. You are always a force to be reckoned with and rarely do anything at a stroll when sprinting is possible. You are excitable, loving, caring and enthusiastic, to the point of exuberant. I can’t think where you get that from.

You eat everything. Without exception. You are currently obsessed with a-PULLS (meaning pears) and TOOOOmas (meaning satsumas, oranges, or anything orange and peelable). It’s hard to turn down ever more extravagant requests for fruit all day, every day, but needs must. Your poor tummy could not physically handle the volume of fructose you would happily ingest.

It’s your birthday tomorrow. You are having a party with your friends and you are starting to understand that something must be happening. When your friends sang Happy Birthday at playgroup yesterday, you clocked that everyone was looking at you and did the most natural thing in the world: you lifted your dress over your head. Excelllent.

Wherever we go, people remember you and remember your name. Your smile is brilliant and your energy awesome. You will no doubt challenge us in ways I cannot even imagine in the years to come, but for now, I can’t quite believe how far we have come in the last year.

Happy birthday my little bag of Trouble.


Wintry Decadence

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Greeted at the doors by flaming torches and climbing the marble staircase to cocktails and canapes in the portrait gallery…


And I think I managed to get pretty close to my inspiration outfit image too! Dress is coral viscose crepe (ex-Armani fabric, so the shop assistant told me!) and then 1940s silk brocade remnant, found at an antiques fair for a few pounds and SQUEEZED the meagre amount of fabric into a bolero at the 11th hour. Turns out my concerns were unfounded, too, and there was an array of black and wintry outfits to behold, all of which looked perfectly elegant and appropriate.

There was dinner in the sculpture court and dancing in the crypt.

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And all rounded off with some tasty cake made by none other than the groom! What an evening of elegance and wintry decadence.

Just checking with the bride that she’s happy for me to post pictures of her frock in detail – when she’s back from honeymoon I’ll show some detail shots for you to ogle at. Her frockage was stunning – and made by her mum. Clever lady.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Christmas Crafting

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Finally finished the not-really-very-much-Erin-a-like blanket, just in time for the wedding on Saturday (pictures of which to follow!)… More information and pics at my Ravelry project page here.


Teacup candle made from last year’s burnt-down-but-not-quite-fully-used-up Winter Candle that I was too in love with to wholly throw out. And mince pies… with The Mincemeat. Words defy me.

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Crocheting puddings for friends and knitting jumpers for teeny-tiny-far-too-eager-to-join-the-world-but-thankfully-healthy-with-it babies…

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Other WIPS including a bear-eared hat for a friend’s toddler and three works-in-progress crocheted trees too…

Needles on fire, it’s fair to say… Though with the frosts we’ve been having, can you blame me?!

It’s worth mentioning that there are a few other bits and bobs in progress, but will have to take pictures and await until they have been received before sharing. You’ll just have to wait. Gosh I’m sure that’s going to be tough, but do bear with me.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Vote NOW!

I received this lovely (not to mention, VERY EXCITING) email today from the fabulously talented Ruth Singer who, it seems, has been keeping herself rather busy at the moment.

I can only imagine if you’re reading this that you are of a creative frame of mind, and that you know already the awe-inspiring power and MIGHT that creating something of your very own out of your VERY OWN HANDS can have. Ruth wants to get a whole town excited about this, and with a very quick click of your mouse, you can help her. Read the below and CLICK on the link and then just click ‘like’. How hard is that? And how wonderful to think you may just get someone a little bit fabulously in touch with their inner artist, albeit rather tangentially.

Dear friends,

As you may know, I am in the process of setting up a craft & sewing workshop space in Leicester, running courses and craft workshops, planned to open in summer 2012.

I'm very excited that I've been shortlisted for the Haymarket's Big Idea competition to kick start the new venture. The competition is to win a free shop unit for a month plus some start-up funding which would be immensely valuable to me.

I had to write a proposal and deliver a pitch to a panel and now I am one of 4 to go through to the final stage. The winner is selected by public vote (via YouTube video) so I really need your help to get my business off the ground. My video isn't my finest moment, but I'm sure it will amuse you.

My proposal in brief:

My Big Idea is to get Leicester sewing and making. I want to run a create and make workshop where anyone can learn new practical and creative skills and be part of a crafty community. I want to share my experience as a professional textile designer-maker and author of two sewing books to inspire the people of Leicester to rediscover the pleasure of making things themselves. Sewing and making workshops are popping up all over the country -- it is time the creative city of Leicester had one!

To vote for me please visit

You MUST BE LOGGED INTO GOOGLE to vote (annoyingly) but once you are in, all you have to do it click the Like button below the video. You will know it has worked if it offers you an option to share the video via Facebook etc. It is a bit of a faff, I know, but it would make a huge difference to me (and to the creative community of Leicester) if you can help me win.

Thanks very much!


Ruth is talented, prolific and awfully clever too. Find her books here and think of someone who probably needs one for Christmas. Inspiring, creative and downright NECESSARY on your craft shelf.

All images from Ruth’s lovely blog here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

In which I am become a grown-up


I have recently found myself lusting on a daily basis at the window of the local branch of Jigsaw… I’ve always known they design elegant and wearable clothes with a touch of the quirk about them, but I’ve never really included them on my radar… until now.

It first happened about a month ago with their pretty, chunky jumpers, bedecked with giant balls of wool, calling out to me like a siren from the deep…

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Rustic Wool Cable Front Jumper £115

Plum Shimmer Sparkle Cardigan £109

Once again, my annual knitwear-with-sparkle obsession rears its sequinned, woolly head, only this time my taste has become even more dear. Woops.


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Beaded Shoulder Top £89

Sequinned Jersey Batwing Top £149

And then just a sea of gorgeously interesting black garments, woefully unsuited to crawling around on church hall floors and therefore wholly impractical for me at the moment. Sob.

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Silk Midi Skirt £149

Silk Butterfly Sleeve Dress £169

And then just pretty and I’m-sure-ever-so-useful-really-no-honestly-it-would-come-out-of-the-bottom-of-the-wardrobe-on-a-weekly-nay-daily-basis-really-please-please-please….


Paisley Jacquard Clutch Bag on sale to £65

And then this… So practical. So wearable. So reasonably priced. So needed in my wardrobe.


Ruched Skirt Dress with Slouchy Top £79


Friday, November 25, 2011

The (dried) fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree

P1080624I’m holding Paola of Mirrormirror responsible for my latest culinary extravaganza. Her annual mincemeat enthusiasm has finally worn off, and as I am not constrained by the limits of US import laws, I thought it only fair to have a go already.

A mincemeat spectacular has been brewing here. Having inherited a rather bulging bag of cooking apples over the weekend, it seemed only fair to start Stir Up (ahem) Monday with some dried fruit shenanigans.

Round one included good ol’ meet blobs in the form of Atora and this recipe…

sorry Paola, but grating raw meat is slightly beyond me


The resulting gorgeousness is utterly palatable, despite its congealed-fat-interim stage that I’m happy to gloss over.

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After canning, Tils confirmed that she could happily get involved in the domestic requirements of the house.

Round Two is on the hob… Hettie’s Suet Free Mincemeat from Domestic Goddess… Thus far it smells as good as the first, but I’m not convinced that it won’t end up just being a posh, spiced (ha ha) apple sauce… The gelatinous ooze of Mincemeat the First is just not being created in the absence of raw animal fat… Will post pictures of the finished products and let you know.

Local readers, let me know when you’re ready for the blind taste-test… It’s a hard job, but dedicated comrades of the writer will know true friendship exists when they are called upon in such circumstances.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Crafty Business

Pretty things to sell online for a change…

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Go here [link does not exist – don’t worry – not going mad!] to see these lovely little frocks/tunics/tops/pinafores and have one for your very own. Each and every one is entirely unique as I am using up my stash of long-discontinued Liberty cottons and vintage buttons for the shoulders. Reversible and highly patterned (thus can be used to hide a multitude of stains/sins/spills), this little number will grow with the child as a dress from about 12 months, through to a pinafore at 18months and then onto a top/tunic at around 2years, lasting until about 3years.

By the time the little one has outgrown this, it will be down to about 5p per wear. Bargain!

Since writing this in the summer and waiting for time to list the frocks (seriously – I’m such a procrastinator sometimes) these have all been sold to local kids! So I thought I would just post these for the sake of it and clear out my ‘draft posts’ box… Nothing like quality blogging, eh?! In any case, I am going to be running up a couple more of these shortly so can list them soon… If anyone is interested in these, let me know and I can see if I can provide custom fabric/colour combinations!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Shiver me Timbers

Or… how to make a pirate ship cake and not be forced to walk the plank…

P1080586Step one: Bake two round chocolate cakes. Store in tin…

Step Two: (evening – preferably with wine to hand): model pirate, palm tree, treasure, parrot and anchor, along with other paraphernalia and leave to dry out. Rampantly steal ideas from this ship, this ship and this YouTube video so you don’t completely go mad trying to recreate Jonny Depp in sugarpaste form.

Step/Day Three: Make chocolate fudge icing and using strategic knifework, create rough body of ship to cover in icing and then leave in fridge to set. Start to panic. Blend industrial quantities of icing into a dark chocolate shade of brown and drink more wine to reduce quickening pulse as giant-poo-cake fears begin to be realised… Store cake in fridge to set ‘crumb layer’…

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Day Four (day of party): Sleep very little and rise very early to begin sugarpaste icing. With idea-stealing continuing, use Trex to grease your worktop to prevent cracking of icing and dried out/white powdery rolling. Cover cake in seamless sheet of brown.



Summon husband from toddler-watch and begin constructing sails, steering wheel, rope, cannon candles and waves, while keeping fingers crossed that this all just may work after all.

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Bask in glory while muttering random pirate sayings and hoping that three-year old next door neighbour will have lots of wine to hand at this afternoon’s party.


Woohoo! So chuffed. And unlikely to offer quite so enthusiastically next time. Had fun but not sure the Boy enjoyed the (even more than usual) heightened anxiety for the last 72 hours.