Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Last few items to go to France

Unfortunately my weekend did not improve as far as my sewing went.  My embroidery machine went on the blink so I guess I will need to take it in for repair.  Anyway - I managed to finish off these diaries and also attempted to make some Christmas Bunting.  My bunting wasn't altogether successful as each flag crumples a bit but I thought it would still look festive hung up for the fair.  I finally packaged up all the goodies - not much when you see it all in a box considering the amount of work that went into it and will bid it farewell later today.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Lavender Bags

This weekend is the last opportunity I have to make some more items to send off to France so I made sure I had an early start this morning and set out to finish off my lavender bags.  These are really easy to make but unfortunately it was just not my day today.  Some days you know you should just pack everything away and try another day so that is what I have done.  I did manage to get these done though ...

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Felt Flower Brooches

My son's school Christmas fair is looming so a friend and I spent the day last week making  flower brooches to donate as parent gifts.  I thought they would make great stocking fillers so decided to make some to send over for my Mum to add to her stash for the French craft fair.  They are so quick and easy to make and would definitely cheer up a winter jacket with a splash of colour.

My favorite using an owl from the Michael Miller 'Who's hoot' fabric

Monday, 7 November 2011

French Hearts

I have always loved how the French have lovely little hearts and bags hanging on their beautiful old wooden doors and wish our house in the UK was more suited to that style but sadly not.  The great thing about my Mum having her little craft fair over in France is that I could make a few of my favourite hearts to send over to her.  I tried some freehand embroidery to give them a more casual, country look.

A pretty gift to give a friend
My french label

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Countdown to Christmas

It's that time of year when we all start thinking of Christmas - yes only 49 more sleeps to go.  My Mum has decided to host a mini craft fair over in France in December so I decided to take the opportunity to try some new crafts just for the fun of it and then send them out to France for her to add to her collection.  I had a lot of fun yesterday making these little gift tags and packaging them up under the label of La Maison en France.  The photos are not great because it is a grey and dreary day but they are really cute.

Christmas cake doodles

Christmas tree doodles

Ready for the craft fair

Thursday, 7 July 2011

First ETSY sale

It has been quite a momentous week for me.  I have at last had my first Etsy sale!! It has taken some amount of work to get to this stage but hopefully things will start moving from now.  I somehow thought that selling online would be really easy but the truth is that there is so much out there that you really have to work hard at getting your products noticed.  I have been creating Treasuries, joining teams, trying to improve my photos all in the hope of getting noticed.  I spent the whole day last Sunday taking photos and redoing my shop image and luckily for me I made 2 sales on Monday.  My two Hush Baby cushions are now on their way to Spain to await the arrival of twins.

The second big thing to happen this week was the completion of our house in France.  It has been a long 5 years and probably more so for my parents who did all the work of rebuilding and turning a dilapidated old barn into a beautiful holiday house.  We have had our first paying guests this week so hopefully all goes well.
A big thank you to Mum & Dad - hopefully you can sit back and enjoy the house now.

From this - 2006

To this - 2011

Friday, 10 June 2011

Sewing a cube

What a difference a day makes!!  With a good start to my day, a tidy house and a clear head I set myself the task of mastering a cube.  I chose some pretty fabric (unlike yesterday) and thought about what I was doing instead of rushing in 'guns blazing' and guess what - it worked.  Thinking back to a year ago I have to laugh at how my life has changed.  I get so much more satisfaction mastering a sewing project than I ever did mastering VLookups on Excel spreadsheets.  Little Kirsty might just get her fairy doorstop yet.

My trial cube - turned into a pin cushion

As pin cushions go I still prefer this one I made a while ago

Thursday, 9 June 2011

A Grumpy Old Woman

Today has been one of those days where you know you should really just have stayed in bed.  I am lucky enough to be a stay at home Mum with a great workspace to tinker about with my sewing machine creating lots of lovely pretty things all day.  In reality those kinds of days are few and far between.  A year ago, a bad day at the office would have consisted of a nightmare commute into London at the break of day, endless meetings with nothing to show for by the end of the day, trying to be polite to people who really P you off (something I found particularly hard to do towards the end of my time), the same commute home, etc, etc.  What you can do after such a day is off load to anyone in the same predicament.  In my case it was my good friend Amy who was going through pretty much the same thing as me and incidentally is now also a stay at home Mum, or to your other half over dinner and a glass of well deserved wine.  Being a stay at home Mum does not allow you this outlet of frustration because you run the risk of sounding ungrateful and being reminded how much worse your life used to be.  Well this is where blogging comes in useful.  I am going to have a good moan about my day to nobody in particular and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.
My day started off by getting up late.  Normally this would not be an issue, as I usually have no set plans.  Today however I had an early morning appointment that I had to get to.  Again, I would normally be able to round the kids up, give them breakfast and have them in the car within half an hour.  But no, not today.  Today was Kirsty’s 2nd day of potty training.  Anyone having gone through this process knows that a great deal of patience is required – something I seemed to be lacking in today.  After sitting on the potty at least 15 times in the space of half an hour and telling me that she had done the necessary only to find she had done nothing, I finally decided to get her dressed in her clothes for nursery sans nappy.  Yes – you guessed it – she wet her trousers and had to be changed.  Again, this is not as straightforward as it sounds because ‘big brother’ has to come and investigate what is going on and proceeds to try and give her a lesson on what to do.  Any other day this would be fine – but not today.  I finally get the kids to nursery without any more mishaps and make my way to my appointment – my gym induction.  The lovely young chap who has a permanent smile starts by asking what I would like to achieve with my time at the gym.  Is this a serious question I ask myself – why would you go to the gym for any other reason than to get fit.  I politely answer that yes I would like to get fit and if possible gain the body that I had in my twenties (like he has never heard that before).  The next 45 mins are hell – I am puffing and panting, trying to wipe my sweaty brow on a miniscule towel all the while listening to my friendly young trainer chatting away.   Can he not see the pain on my face – I don’t want to chat!  I finally finish my session and head off for the changing rooms to be confronted by a bevy of elderly ladies walking around in the buff.  Why, why, why is it necessary to parade around the change rooms doing your hair, shaving your legs, doing your make up with absolutely no clothes on?  It is just not necessary.  I make my way home for some well deserved peace and quiet, forgetting that the house is in a mess.  For the next couple of hours I move toys around from one room to another – because that is where they are supposed to be.  Why?  The place will look a mess again by the time I go to bed tonight.  I finally sit down to think how I am going to spend the rest of my day.  I decide to make a doorstop for Kirsty’s bedroom.  They are very in at the moment and I am constantly trying to keep her door from swinging closed.  I am in my comfort zone now – I am in control.  I decide on a square shape that will have embroidered fairies to match her room d├ęcor.  I have tried my hand at most things when it comes to sewing but never a cube.  OMG how frustrating.  I could just not get the measurements right and eventually gave up on the cube.  My next idea was a toadstool but found that I didn’t know how to sew a circle on to a rectangle.  Any other day I would probably be able to work out what I was doing but today is just not one of those days and it didn’t help that I was practising on the most hideous fabric.  Oh well tomorrow is another day.
My conclusion is that for today I am just a Grumpy Old Woman – or some might say I am permanently a Grumpy Old Woman.

My next embroidery project from http://www.embroidables.com/

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A bit of fun

Well it has been a while since I was last on my blog but we were lucky enough to be able to spend the last month in France and there was so much to keep us busy that crafting was the last thing on my mind.  The good news is that we are now home and ready to go again.  A friend had borrowed my sewing machine while I was away so I had to find something different to do when we got back.  Sean's nursery school teacher is going on maternity leave this week so we decided to make her a 'Nappy Cake' which involves no sewing at all and was something easy for the kids to help with.  We glued a cardboard tube onto a cake board and then placed the nappies around it to form the cake tiers.  In between the nappies we put some rolled up onesies, bibs, socks, mittens and a few baby toiletries.  To hide the nappies we used a couple of baby blankets and burp cloths folded and wrapped around the tiers to form the icing on the cake.  To keep it all together we tied ribbon around each tier and a little cuddly toy on the top.  We also popped a little onesie into the top of the cardboard tube to form the candle.  Kids and I had great fun...

How many cakes can you cuddle?

Kirsty determined to get the cuddly toy

Monday, 18 April 2011

How time flies

I can't believe it is over a month since my last post.  Can you believe we are in the middle of Spring already!!!  I defy anybody to say that this is not the most beautiful time of year.  Just looking out the window at the lovely spring blossom on the fruit trees lifts the spirits.  Of course Spring is the time of rebirth, renewal and regrowth so I have been working on my new baby cushion.  I just love this one with the four little 'spring' animals looking up/down at the sleeping baby.  It is such a huggable cushion - as I was photographing it Kirsty ran in to give it a big cuddle - aaah.

That really is a carpet of spring blossom on the ground

Ethan? this is my cushion

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Wedding Of The Year

Yes, it is finally happening - the wedding we have all been waiting for.  How long have we been asking ourselves "Will he, won't he?"  Well finally he has seen the light, finally he understands that this is what the people want.  Something to look forward to in this tough economic climate.  Our shy, retiring (nearly retired at his rate), fair-haired chap finds his beautiful, dark haired heroine and sweeps her off her feet.  He has done the sensible thing, taken his time, making sure the lovely lady gets used to 'the family' before popping the question - after all it is a very unusual family she is marrying into.  My good news is that I have been asked to make and quote a price for a ring bearer cushion for this very special occasion.  As if I would charge for this very special honour.  Just to be part of this huge ceremony is payment enough - I could be famous after this.  Who had heard of Elizabeth Emanuel before she had made Princess Di's dress?  Ok so it is only a ring bearer cushion but we all have to start somewhere.  Anyway I am waiting for details of the colour and fabric choice but obviously this is all top secret information and I will be unable to share with the general public.  In the meantime I had a little practice session with a piece of silk from my stash and tried out my new software for my sewing machine.  And just like all fairytale endings ....

Don't they make a lovely couple

(Permission has not been granted to use the above picture so I may be asked to remove it 
(for security reasons) but then again I only have 5 followers to this blog so not much
chance of anyone seeing it.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Tooth Fairy Cushions again ...

I wasn't going to show these little tooth fairy cushions on my blog but I received an email yesterday to say that someone was going to showcase one of them on their blog (http://myblogfinallymadeit.blogspot.com/ ).  It is such a nice feeling to have a complete stranger pick out an item you have made from hundreds of others and put it out there for others to see.  Thanks Linda.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Lovely Lavender

My Mum & Dad paid us a flying visit last week on their way back to France and I was able to show them some of the crafts that I have been able to produce using my new machine.  My Mum suggested that I should make a few small items that she could sell at some of the French country markets.  Now the thought of selling at a market gives me the heebie jeebies but I am quite happy to make the stuff so I set to work.  Of course the first product that came to mind was lavender bags.  Not very original I know but we all know that the mere mention of lavender brings to mind colourful fields in France, relaxation and sunshine.  Lavender has been around since the early Egyptian times when it was used to wrap the dead and has continued to be used for all sorts of ailments and beliefs.  My favourite use has to be the Victorians who used lavender in crafts and love spells.  It was said that clothing rubbed with the fragrant flower, or lavender placed in drawers with clothing would attract love.  What better reason can there be for the use of lovely lavender sachets?  I placed my order for 1kg of Provencal lavender and searched for my design for the bags.  The lavender arrived 2 days later and I think it is the first time that our postman has knocked and just left the post outside the door.  When I smelt the package I figured that he was none too pleased at having such a pungent, feminine smell in his van for the whole day.  I did begin to wonder if I was going to be able to work with the lavender in the house because the smell was so strong but it has definitely ‘calmed down’ and we just get a very pleasant scent every now and then.  I made up some drawer sachets and also went back to my wardrobe bags but this time I put a lavender sachet inside so that it could be used to lightly scent a room.

Whilst I was searching for lavender suppliers I kept reading about how wonderful lavender is for those suffering from insomnia or sleep apnea.  It is suggested that you add a few drops of lavender oil to your sheets or place a small sachet of lavender flowers under your pillow to help you get some zzz’s.  This got me thinking about Kirsty who is not a great sleeper – she is 2 years old and still wakes up through the night!!  Why not try a few lavender sachets in her room?  A great excuse to come up with another design and she loves them.  Sean did begin to ask if I could make soldier lavender bags but I draw the line at that.  Absolutely not.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Big Cook, Little Cook

One of my favorite pastimes is cooking and baking and since the kids were born I have tried to include them as much as possible.  Sean in particular is a really fussy eater but I find that if he gets involved in making his food he is much more likely to eat it.  I decided to make some aprons and thought first along the lines of using oilcloth because it is so durable and easy to clean.  One of the big drawbacks on using oilcloth for aprons is it is just not very comfortable to wear.  When you sit or bend down the apron doesn't quite move with you especially when you are just a couple of feet high.  I also think if you enjoy cooking your apron should look like it has been used and loved so I decided to stick to good old reliable 100% cotton.  As usual my first attempt was in pink - because I have so much of it in my stash.  I wanted to make the straps adjustable but without using Velcro so I was constantly asking Sean to try on so that I could get the measurements right.  Of course being a typical boy he was horrified that I was making him wear a pink apron.  We entered into a bout of negotiations and it was decided that he would continue to help with the 'pink thing' if I could make him a soldier apron.  Deal done and delivered:

Once I had mastered the bigger apron I tried out a miniature one for Kirsty to match her red and white play kitchen.

The fun part was to then christen the new aprons.  What better way than to get the kids to make the chocolate brownies for todays' Monday Mood Food.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day

Don’t we all just love this special day?  Well probably not if we are completely honest with ourselves.  I can remember back to my early school days when the thought of not getting any cards was so horrifying that I used to send one to myself – just in case.  More often than not I was glad that I had.  Now that we are a bit older, married for what seems like forever and two small children running around – celebrating Valentines Day seems like a distant memory.  As with the tooth fairy saga, I decided to look up the origins of Valentines Day so that I could explain it to Sean (4yrs old).  To be honest it was all a bit boring and I doubt it would have held his attention much.  The only relevant piece of information that I could find was this –

Valentine's Day started in the time of the Roman Empire. In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honour Juno. Juno was the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia.
The lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. However, one of the customs of the young people was name drawing. On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar and would then be partners for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.

Although Sean is only four he has decided on the young lady that he would like to marry.  When I explained to him that it was customary to ask the father for his daughters’ hand in marriage his first response was “well why not the Mum as well?”  It was a fair question and the next time we saw the parents he did indeed ask both the mother and father if you could marry their daughter.  They very kindly said yes not really knowing just what a determined little boy he is.  Watch this space over the next 20 years!!  My role as mother to this very determined little boy is of course to save him from having his heart broken.  How to do this – well make the future wife a little valentine gift and have it delivered to the door from a ‘secret admirer’.  What little girl wouldn’t love that?

My Valentine gift to my family was to make some shortbread heart biscuits – can’t get more romantic than that (see Monday Mood Food).

Lastly, a little something for my hubby xoxoxo

I laugh, I love, I hope, I try, I hurt, I need, I fear, I cry.
And I know you do the same things too,
So we're really not that different,
me and you.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Tooth Fairy Cushion Part 3

In response to the comment below on the pirate cushion - here is the football version. Now I really need to move on from the tooth fairy cushions!!!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Tooth Fairy Cushion part 2

I have now finished the boys version of the tooth fairy cushion and Sean seems happy with it – probably because it has a sword on it. I happened to overhear a conversation he was having with his little sister which went along the lines of “now open wide Kirsty and let’s see if we can take out one of your teeth for Mums’ cushion”. I poked my head round the corner armed with the camera and there he was with his building gloves on (for hygiene reasons obviously) and his toy shifting spanner and poor Kirsty, mouth open wide, patiently waiting for her tooth to be extracted.
I think I need to move on swiftly to another, safer project.
By the way – the £5 note is not what the Tooth Fairy will be leaving in place of a tooth. With two accountants as parents and one of them Scottish at that I think my children will be getting to know a much meaner Tooth Fairy than the one who left the £5 note above.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Tooth Fairy Cushion

The other day my four year old son asked me when he was going to get his ‘big’ teeth.  As I looked down at him and saw his two rows of perfectly formed baby teeth, I could picture in my mind the pain of extraction, the toothless grins, the not so perfect ‘big’ teeth, the braces, the excessive orthodontist bills and felt a touch of sadness that my babies are growing up.  If only we could keep them at this age of pure innocence forever.    

Anyway, this very innocent question did get me to thinking about the traditions that surround the loss of a childs' tooth.  There is a lot of info on the internet about the origins of the tooth fairy which makes for interesting reading.  Most of the research takes us back to the Middle Ages when it was believed that witches could gain control of you if they had a piece of you – hair, teeth, fingernails – with which they could work their magic.  Hence the importance of disposing of all teeth properly.  As an adult I find this quite interesting but I am not sure I would want to pass this history on to my 4 year old and risk a sleepless night as he dreams of witches and magic.  A lot of research moves from the Middle Ages on to the more recent tradition of placing the tooth under the pillow for the tooth fairy who very kindly leaves a coin or a treat.  The cynic in me thinks that the transition from witches and magic to cute tooth fairies and monetary gain is more about our need as a parent to ease our child’s suffering by offering some incentive and dressing it up with tales of fairies – what child does not like a story about fairies?  Will I carry on this tradition?  Of course I will which leads me to my latest project.  No longer is it good enough to place the tooth under the pillow – we need to have a special cushion in which to place the tooth and in which the fairy can place the coin.  I had all this lovely pink fabric in my stash and had recently purchased a set of fairy designs for a previous project so set to work on my tooth fairy cushion.  This was the result which I was really pleased with – the only problem being that it is very pink and girlie and I have a boy. 


How do I make a  tooth fairy cushion boyish?  I was thinking along the lines of embroidering a pirate instead of a fairy and making up a story about the tooth fairy delivering all the teeth to the pirates in the middle of the ocean who then grind the teeth down to make fairy dust which the tooth fairies throw up to the night sky to shine amongst all the stars.  Who knows – in 100 years time this might be the story which all children believe in.

“And that’s the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth”. (quoted from The Straight Dope)

Friday, 28 January 2011

French Wardrobe Bags

Just popped over to France for a couple of days to visit my parents and as always on my return from France I am inspired by the gorgeo

us nic nacks which adorn the shops and markets.  I love all the heavy, classy fabrics that they use but which I never seem to be able to find in the UK.  I did find some lovely check fabric on Ebay which was a real bargain and I now have loads of the lovely pink and cream heavy duty fabric which needs to be used up.  I decided to try my hand at these lovely little bags which the French use to hang on their  wooden wardrobes and doors.  They don't seem to have any purpose other than to just look pretty.  I wondered if I could put some fragrance inside the bag but not sure how this would work as the bags cannot be opened once the fragrance had faded.  Will have to think some more about that one ......

For a step by step tutorial on how to make these bags

Monday, 17 January 2011

Nursery School Bag

My first project had to be Kirsty's school bag.  The plain cream calico bag was just calling out for some colour and girly decoration.  I have been putting this off for so long because to be honest I was having so much trouble with my new machine that I just didn't feel inspired.  After much material wastage and cursing I worked out that I was using the wrong thread for my machine.  I had bought loads of machine embroidery thread on ebay at a really cheap price only to discover that a good quality thread makes all the difference.  It seems obvious now - but if you are just starting out with machine embroidery please, please invest in good quality thread.  I now have a much smaller collection of Madeira embroidery thread but it sews like a dream so I wanted to try it out on the bag.  I knew that I wanted to go for a fairy design (my daughter is 2) and began my internet search for a suitable design.  After much searching I came across a really great site Bunnycup Embroidery.  There are loads of free designs and great offers which for a beginner like me is perfect.  I chose their Fairy Love set and one of their free fonts called Cheri Alphabet.  I haven't managed to load my 4D Extra program onto my PC yet so I had to play around with Kirsty's name which means the spacing is not perfect but I was really pleased with my first attempt.  My reward was a big 'Thanks Mum' from Kirsty.  Here is the finished article -