Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Looking back and resolutions

Now seems like a good time to look back at 2009 and start thinking about 2010. I only started blogging in May and was sceptical at first - not sure I would have anything interesting to say - now I am completely addicted! I can't believe that I have nearly 150 followers as initially I was excited to make it to 10. Thanks to everyone who reads my inane ramblings and especially those of you who comment. It really makes my day!
There are many many blogs that I love but if I had to choose one - my blog of the year if you like - for me it would have to be Kitschy Coo. No other blog has so consistently made me snort with laughter while I am drinking my tea. Amanda you are hilarious and have brightened many a day with your photoshopped pictures and tales of hurricane craft markets. When I am having a bad day you always make me feel better as yours is usually worse!! Seriously though this blog ticks all the boxes for me. Amanda makes the most fabulous childrens clothes that inspire me, makes me green with envy over her gorgeous fabrics, does great giveaways and tutorials, is VERY funny and also occassionally writes the most painfully honest posts about her family actually admitting when things are tough sometimes. I think I admire this honesty more than anything.

My celeb of the year has to be the wonderful Phillip Schofield. As you all know I am slightly in love with Phillip particularly since I emailed him for my 70 presents challenge and he actually sent me a signed photo for my mums 70th birthday 3 days later. The Silver Fox rocks!

People of the year have to be the people of Wootton Bassett who started an amazing tradition of honouring dead servicemen when they are flown home from Afghanistan or Iraq by lining the streets in their hundreds. They have shown the soldiers and their families such respect by doing this and I am sure that the families greatly appreciate what they do. Everytime I watch it on the news I think what an amazing thing they have achieved as a community.

So onto 2010. I'm usually a bit rubbish at resolutions but next year I aim to...

1) Set myself a new blog challenge. Hurrah! This time you don't need to send me things though (shame!). I am going to make 12 items of childrens clothing. Thats one a month. I will blog about each one and talk you through my triumphs and disasters. First challenge to be unveiled shortly but possibly this cute little skirt

2) Get into twitter. If its good enough for Phillip Schofield its good enough for me.

3) Get fit. I am 40 next year so I just can't get away with being a couch potato any more. I'm going to try and join a netball team and eat more healthily. A woman cannot live on bagels alone!

4) Cook a new recipe from a cook book each week. I hate cooking. I cook under protest and my meals are never very inspiring and often burnt because I am blogging and ignore the beeper! I have promised Jon who does most of the cooking that I will come up with something better than burnt pizza and chips everytime its my turn to cook. This will be me below...

5) Make more effort. Having 2 kids is hard and sometimes I feel more like 50 than nearly 40. Its time to make more effort. This includes having my hair highlighted, having regular massages and maybe the old facial because as Cheryl Cole would say 'I'm worth it!' This also includes getting babysitters more often and going out and therefore actually talking to my other half.

6) Be more patient with my children. Be 'fun' mummy rather than 'grumpy' mummy. Try not to text, blog or check my email during the day when I could be playing with them.

7) Show my garden some love

8) Get to know my sewing machine better (the one that still hates me)

9) Go to bed early. I am always complaining about being tired but never go to bed before midnight. Its not rocket science is it?? I need to be in bed by 10pm given that my children (Sam!) wake up at 6am ish.

10) Do some Random Acts of Kindness. I intend to do unexpected and nice things for people just because I can. In fact I might keep a counter on my blog.

Phew - I'm going to be busy next year..............

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

She LOVED it!

Hope you all had a great Christmas. As you will know from my blog my mum was 70 on Christmas Day and I set myself the challenge of making, buying or organising 70 presents for her birthday. Well she absolutely LOVED it! She was very shocked as she had no idea and was overwhelmed by all the presents. When I told her that complete strangers had sent many of them she just couldn't believe it and said it has restored her faith in human nature. She sends a MASSIVE thank you to everybody who helped me out with my challenge.  I wrapped all the presents in the end apart from a bulb that Izzy planted in a pot. As you can see it was quite a pile.

I was a bit worried that my mum who has very bad arthritis might find unwrapping them all a bit of a struggle and that it might take some time but my mum was like a woman possessed when she got started!! She loved unwrapping them all and ploughed through them at a rate of knots ably assisted by Izzy (dressed as Snow White!)

She did say however that it will take several days to really look at them properly and really appreciate just what she has received. We all had a lovely day  and I'm really glad that I made the effort because I could see that my mum really enjoyed it and it made the day extra special.

To top off a great day (with a fab Christmas dinner cooked by Jon) my Auntie Carol who is very ill was well enough to come over in the evening for a drink to celebrate too which was lovely. Another BIG BIG thanks to everyone who helped me out. You have made my year very memorable and my mums birthday very special! Random acts of kindness are going to be on my New Years resolutions list for sure next year in your honour.

Just when I thought the days of receiving lovely parcels were over, I received my final one all the way from California, USA from the very kind Kathy of Wandering Seniors. I'll show you the photo that Kathy sent me as they arrived wrapped up ready to give and I'm seeing my mum tomorrow as my brother and his family are visiting.

They came with a lovely card and some candy too! Thank you so much Kathy. I told my mum she had a pressie on the way from California and she was very shocked! We have a connection to California as my brother lived there for 5 years so its funny that she will get to unwrap them when he is there. They will be much appreciated and filled with photos of grandchildren I am sure. In fact maybe this one (Isabella sporting a new fringe!!)

or this one (although Sam definately needs a haircut too!)

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A HUGE thank you and a new challenge!

I can't believe it - I've actually finished my present challenge. I'm still waiting for present number 70 to arrive from California (some gorgeous picture frames from Kathy which I will show you when they arrive) but I have a last minute back up plan if it doesn't arrive in the post tomorrow as Izzy made a calander at nursery yesterday. A MASSIVE thank you to everyone who sent me such beautiful things for my mum and also to all of you who left comments with ideas and suggestions of things to make or who were just generally  enthusiastic and supportive about my challenge as it really spurred me on.

I have been completely overwhelmed by how kind complete strangers have been to me during my challenge. It has really restored my faith in human nature and I hope that over the coming year I can repay some of the kindness that has been shown to me by completing some random acts of kindness of my own. In fact I'm going to make it one of my resolutions for next year. I know that my mum will love all of the presents and will be so surprised by what I have done. I will try and get some photos on the big day to share with you all. The final list of 70 presents that were bought/made or donated are on the left hand side of my blog.

I've loved having a challenge on my blog. Its given me a real focus and stuff to talk about so I've decided to set myself another challenge for next year. I really want to try and make some clothes for Izzy so inspired by my giveaway prize from Kitschy Coo of a fab coat pattern and tutorial (see below for how it should look!) I am going to try and make one item of clothing each month.

Some will be from some great free tutorials I have found on the internet, some from patterns I have bought or won and some from books I have. I'm a complete novice when it comes to making clothes so its going to be a massive learning curve for me as I am still terrified of zips and button holes and remember that my sewing machine hates me! Its a great excuse to buy lots more fabric tho so watch this space!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Only 1 to go!!

I feel a bit sad now that my present challenge is nearly finished as I have loved getting packages through the post and seeing what people have sent. Its been so exciting. I got 2 lovely packages today. A gorgeous parcel of homemade sweets from Fiona at Tutuly.

They look amazing. Not one, not two but 3 different kinds of handmade sweets as Fiona sent an extra one for me too - hurrah!! I am saving it for Christmas Day though so we can all share them. Thank you so much Fiona. I really appreciate it. They look amazing.

I also received this gorgeous bundle of fabric that I had ordered from Seamstar.

I've never used this website before but I have to say I am very impressed. They sell gorgeous fabrics. I spotted the amazing sewing fabric at the week-end and thought it would be perfect to make a sewing machine cover for my mum even though I thought it might be too late to get it before Christmas. I ordered it on Friday evening, it was posted saturday and I received it this morning. Thats fantastic service especially just before Christmas. It was beautifully wrapped and I also got a free brooch kit with my order.

I will definately be back for more in the New Year. Thank you very much. I would highly recomend.

I went to our local Farmers market today as there was a craft market too and treated myself and Izzy to a new pin board each. The fabrics are just gorgeous so I couldn't resist one for my sewing room and one for Izzy's bedroom. I also bought a cute little bookmark as a present for my mum.

I'm not sure the lady sells them online yet but I'm going to email her and suggest she sells them on Folksy. They were all so lovely, very reasonably priced and come with cute little pins or pegs as well. Lovely. I also bought these cute little felt labels. The kisses one is perfect for the little box of kisses that Izzy has made my mum. She made some little tissue paper flowers today and kissed each one before putting it in a cute little box tied with ribbon. We are going to attach this label to it.

I've just finished making the sewing machine cover so thought I'd attach a picture. I haven't measured my mums machine so it may or may not fit - I'm just keeping my fingers crossed. It actually looks a bit wonky on the picture. I'm hoping thats just the photo and the angle I took it at. I'm not going to check just in case it is wonky. I don't have time to do anything else - anyway its gives it character!!

Just the one present to go now and amazingly someone in California reads my blog and has sent something in the post for me. How exciting. Watch this space.............

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Only 4 to go!!

I braved the shops on Saturday as was stressing about finishing my present challenge and thought I'd better try and buy a few last minutes presents. I avoided Bristol City Centre and went to Park Street which is full of really lovely independent shops. It was actually a really nice experience and not that busy! I spent a few hours browsing the shops, had lunch and bought a few presents for my mum. The only horrible experience was going into Borders to try and buy Sew Hip magazine not realising it has gone into liquidation. There was a sale on and it was manic in there with people trying to get a bargain. I swiftly left. There is something really depressing  about shop closing down sales that I can't bear no matter how much of a bargain I might miss. Felt the same with Woolworths. I couldn't resist a little browse around the Cath Kidston shop and bought a bus pass holder and some tissues. My mum always has tissues in her bag! I do love Cath Kidston fabric but it is sooo expensive.

I also bought a Cath Kidston like passport cover and lugage tag in another shop. My parents go away quite a lot so this will definately get used.

I also realised that its not that long until Christmas Day so I had better actually start making things on my list so today I made a Tea Cozy. It was pretty straightforward and I love this 'tea' fabric that I used. It can be reversible too if you want. I just hope it fits as I just winged it measurement wise.

Only 4 to go now. I've got a present being sent from the USA which is really exciting but I've still got a sewing machine cover, cushion cover and scrapbook to make so still lots to do. We managed to wrap about 40 presents last night and off to do some more now. I'm also going to try and calculate how much I have spent on the challenge too.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Did you miss me???

I'm back from a lovely but freezing cold 5 day break to Centre Parcs in Longleat with Jon, his dad, sister and niece. Yes it is snowing.

It was great and Isabella in particular loved it as she was finally big enough to really appreciate all the swimming, panto, Father Christmas visits etc etc that we organised. It was lovely to see her face so excited each day. She practically hyperventilated meeting 'Jasmine' after the panto!

Jon and I celebrated our 9 year anniversary (first date as not yet got round to the marriage thing) whilst we were there (he remembered to bring a card and I forgot - whoops!). We actually got to go out on our own for dinner which was lovely. We also found out while we were there that Jon's other sister is not just expecting baby number 3 as thought but also baby number 4!! Yes its twins. How we laughed. Not sure she has got over the shock yet though!

Just arrived home to find a lovely package waiting for me from Nicole at Dots and Stripes. She had very kindly sent me a gorgeous fabric covered notebook for my mum.

Its really pretty and I love the fabric and little heart button. Perfect for my mum to keep in her handbag or next to the phone. Thanks so much. Check out the Dots and Stripes website for lovely fabrics and patterns and also the fab childrens clothes that Nicole makes. I've just had a look at what I still need to get for my present challenge and am stressing slightly. I'm going shopping tomorrow for a few bits and pieces and then I need to make 3 or 4 things so need to get out of wine drinking mode and into sewing mode again for a while.

Sunday, 13 December 2009


I'm feeling a bit fragile today as we had people over for dinner last night and I drank quite a lot of champagne and Thai beer - not sure thats a great combination but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Jon excelled himself by cooking a fab meal of thai fishcakes and sweetcorn fritters with a peanut dipping sauce followed by the most gorgeous (and hot!) thai green chicken curry and beef rendang. Thank god for men who can cook!! It was so nice. My planning was bad as usual though as Izzy was in a nativity play this morning which meant getting up and going out quite early and trying to keep Sam quiet in a church for an hour with a bit of a hangover. Not such a great idea.

My lovely friend Debi's little boy Sawyer was 4 this week and had his party today. I bought him this fab present from Fe Fo Fum on Folksy. I really wanted to get him a personalised t shirt but could only find them with cars on and I wanted a dinosaur one so I emailed to find out if I could have one made. Not only was it possible but it came in a fab little personalised bag with a dinosaur footprint on the front (genius idea!) and also arrived the next day. What fantastic service. I highly recomend them as a present. I also gave him one of my coloured pencil rolls so hope he likes them both. Izzy had an amazing time at the party and I've just eaten a massive piece of Debi's very nice chocolate birthday cake!!

Am very excited as we are off to Centre Parcs at Longleat tomorrow for 5 days with Jon's dad and sister and his niece. I'm really looking forward to it but there will be no phone signal and no computers so no blogging!! What am i going to do? Will I be able to last?? See you all in 5 days!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Only 15 to go

I'm up to 55 presents for my present challenge! Jen at TheMadHouse has been very kind and sent me the most gorgeous tea cup candle for my mums birthday. It is so pretty and comes with a saucer and a little plate. I really don't want to give it away - I will just have to sit and admire it until Christmas day!!

Not only did I receive the candle but also a very cute little handmade stocking AND some little chocolates. Izzy's face lit up when she saw these. How generous is that?

I've just read the latest post from Jen's blog and she had been flooded tonight so please cheer her up by checking out her blog. Its one of my favourites and a great read. Thanks so much and I hope things get better very soon.

I've got some lovely photos of Izzy and Sam from pre school and play group framed for my mum this week and also bought a memory book for my mum to complete. I realised the other day how little I really know about my family history on my mums side. I was talking to my great aunt (my gran's sister) about the photo album of my mums life I am trying to put together and whether she had any old photos that I could use. She said that she did and that she was really cross because she had mislaid a very important photo of 'Edward'. I had never heard of Edward and asked who he was. She told me that Edward was the first born child of my great grandmother (her brother). He had died aged 10 months in the flu  pandemic of 1919 and the photo is the only one that exists of him. My great grandfather who was in the army only saw him once before being posted to Africa. Several months after Edwards death my great grandmother received a letter enclosing some money. My great grandfather had saved for months to send some money home 'for the baby' not knowing that he had died. I had no idea this had happened and can't imagine how they must have felt being in different parts of the world with no way of contacting each other. Its such a sad story that I keep thinking about it. I wonder what other family secrets I don't know...

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

One of those weeks

I knew it was too good to be true. I was looking forward to a leisurely week relaxing after my sweatshop style sewing sessions for my various Christmas fairs. I had visions of being sat on the sofa watching Holby drinking wine or sat purusing all the new fabrics I want to buy online. No such luck. Sam has been really poorly and is very wheezy so has been waking up every hour for the last 3 nights. Poor thing. He just wants to be cuddled during the day which means I spend most of my time carrying him around whilst trying to do everything else I need to do and he weighs a ton! I'm also really anxious whenever he is wheezy because last time he ended up in hospital. To top it off he had a poo in the bath tonight....again. Great! I got to spend an hour scrubbing the bath and disinfecting all the bath toys. Then to make matters worse Izzy realised she had left her favourite soft toy 'Kitty' at my mums house and had a meltdown when she realised that she couldn't sleep with Kitty tonight. I wouldn't mind but she doesn't usually sleep with the bloody thing. When I reminded her of this she said thats because she knows that Kitty is usually downstairs. She demanded I go and get him and had hysterics when I wouldn't. I'm afraid I broke all the rules by bribing her with chocolate to stop crying. It worked! Just hoping that everyone gets better soon as we are off to Centre Parcs next week for 5 days and it would be really good if no one was ill for a change.

Another personalised apron order was posted off today. This time for Ruby. I hope she likes it!

Apologies for the smudges on the photo. I think Sam must have got his grubby mitts on the camera!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Tu tu's are the way to go

My Christmas market yesterday was my best one yet. I sold loads - I still can't believe it. I am so pleased after a rather quiet evening one last week at a school. I can feel some more guilt free fabric shopping coming on. I only wish I had made more tu tu's - I made 4 as I wasn't sure if they would sell or not and all 4 were reserved in the first 5 mins! People then kept asking whether they were for sale or whether they could order some in time for Christmas. I'm off to Centre Parcs soon for a week tho so just dont have time to make anymore before Christmas. How annoying. If only you could predict what people will want!

I was having a quick look around the market before it started and got chattting to a lovely lady called Cath who had a gorgeous stall full of lovely fabric things. She had some really lovely door stops so I said 'oh no I just bought a doorstop online last night (see last post) what a shame - I wish I had waited'. I was joking about how annoying that must be to hear when I looked down and saw a doorstop that looked exactly like the one I had bought! Then the penny dropped that it was the one I had bought!! I had ordered it really late at night when most sensible people are in bed so she didn't realise it had sold. I  was able to take my doorstop home with me and Cath very kindly refunded my postage. Fantastic! It was lovely to meet someone else with a similar fabric addiction who also has to sew around 2 young children. I've encouraged Cath to put more of her stuff into her Folksy shop as its really lovely.

Next to Cath was another fab stall called Taylor's Typographical Art Posters. They had the most amazing prints for sale. I'm really tempted to get this one of Bristol for Jon.

The London one in her etsy shop is very cool too. They looked really good framed. She also does ones of New York, Rome and Paris

My present challenge stalled a bit this week and at 51 is only one more then last week thanks to the lovely angel keyring sent by Jean at Talking Beads. I promise to do better next week now that my final Christmas craft market is out of the way. Lots of ideas just need some time...

Friday, 4 December 2009

Buying Handmade

I'm trying really hard to buy handmade gifts for people this year and came accross a couple of lovely things just now on Folksy which I thought I would share.....

This is for Jons sister and her french husband. I love it. Its really unusual and I love the fact that its very apt for the weather at the moment. I'm assuming its talking about the rain??? Didn't think to actually check what it says! Any French speakers read my blog? The background is an old french dictionary.

Its from WallEnvyArt and was £10 which I think is great for some original art

I also got this fab door stop for Jons other sister to go with her Jar wrap from The Cotton Porter. She is one lucky girl!

This is from egiraffe also on Folksy who I just found out is also from Bristol so I'm buying local too. How good am I?!!

Wish me luck for my fair tomorrow.....

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Blog of the month no less!

I'm very excited to have been featured as blog of the month in the latest edition of Creative Crafting magazine. What an honour. Its a great read and I think that once I get my last Christmas market out of the way I'm going to have a go at learning how to crochet from the beginners guide in the magazine. Have a look....

Talking of Christmas markets - its my last one on Saturday. The Southville Centre Christmas Market in Bristol. I did it last year and it was great. Full of really lovely things to buy so I'll probably end up spending more than I make. I'll be pleased when its over though as I can relax a bit more and not spend every night manically sewing although I've still got a few things I need to make for my mums birthday. I've been busy recently making things from my lovely new fabric...

More little girls activity bags...

Little travel sewing kits

and little baking bags. I LOVE this fabric

I went to an 80th Birthday party last night for my Auntie Rene. Thats her in the middle in the photo below. Shes actually my grandmas sister so my great aunt. She can certainly out party me! She was still going strong at midnight and was only stopped by the taxi arriving to take her home. My mum is on the right and my mums sister Carol on the left.  We were so pleased that Carol was able to come to the party and enjoy the celebration as she has cancer and has been very ill recently so it was a lovely night getting everyone together.