Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Heart Swapping and more gorgeous fabric

A while ago I joined up for a heart swap on Beki's lovely blog The Ramblings of an Every Day Mummy. You had to send your swap partner 5 items based on a heart theme. My gorgeous parcel arrived today from Cate who has a lovely blog called Vintage Mum.

I've had a pretty rubbish week so it was lovely to receive such a gorgeous parcel of goodies.

Inside the box were some cute little heart buttons - just check out that packaging
Some cherry flavoured lip balm
Some heart shaped silicone cupcake cases
A lovely handmade heart
A lovely heart necklace which has already been grabbed by Izzy. More lovely packaging too!
A lovely decorated heart shaped box
and chocolates. What more could a girl want?? Thanks so much Cate. I loved everything!

I'll show what I sent tomorrow....

A big thanks also to Kitschy Coo for the lovely fabric I bought from her. Not sure my bank manager is quite so happy with her though!! These little beauties arrived for me

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Gone fishing..

I have to admit that when Izzy was a baby I used to watch a lot of daytime TV. I had a particular addiction to 'This Morning' (we already know about my fondness for Phillip Schofield!). I also loved Dr Chris Steele and avidly watched his health reports particularly those relating to children. It was through Dr Chris that I first remember hearing about the benefits of Omega 3 fish oil supplements for both adults and children. In typical first time mum fashion I decided that my children clearly wouldn't need supplements because I would prepare a diet full of oily fish that my perfect children would eat without complaint!! What did I know? Fast forward 5 years and I now have 2 children and no they don't lots of oily fish. A bit of Tuna maybe but certainly no sardines, kippers, mackerel and herrings (the fish with all the good oils!). One because I don't eat much oily fish myself so I don't really know how to cook it and two because when I have tried my children just don't like the strong taste.

I've continued to read about the benefits of omega 3 fish oils. As both a parent and a social worker working with children, I have always been interested in the effect it is said to have on brain development generally and in particular on children who have difficulties with concentration etc so when I was contacted and given the opportunity to test and review some omega 3 fish oil supplements that are specifially designed for children I was really interested. Its not something I would  generally review on my blog as its impossible for me to prove the benefits or not but on a personal  level I was interested to see if Izzy would take them as all of the information I came across was so positive about the benefits. There is a Dr Chris Steele video here on the benefits of  omega 3 fish oils and further information on his website. There is also an interesting article by Robert Winston here.

Healthspan very kindly sent me a box of Brain Boosters to try. They are Omega 3 fish oil supplements that are high in the essential fatty acids DHA and EPA and are especially designed for children over the age of 3. A box of 120 costs £9.95 with free postage and packing. Children need to take 2  per day so a box would last 2 months. Brain Boosters are small capsules full of orange flavoured fish oil that 'burst' when you chew them.
Sadly despite all of the health benefits, I have to admit that Izzy wasn't particularly keen on the capsules. I think she was expecting a chewy sweet rather than the 'burst' sensation and the problem with 5 year olds is that once they decide they don't like something you can't change their minds. I think that this is just an age thing though and slightly older children would probably love them. Its such a shame as I am really convinced of the health benefits now given the research I have done and not just for children. Have a look at the Healthspan website for more information.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Tutorials are hard but I did one anyway.

As promised here is a tutorial for a lined PE bag. My niece Anais was 5 this week and I really wanted to make her a Hello Kitty PE bag for school. She is half french and finds it really difficult to get things with her name on so I thought I would make it a personalised PE bag as an extra surprise. I hope she likes it!

This is my first tutorial so please bear with me (if you are an experienced sewer please look away now!!). The PE bag is lined and I love that you can't see any of the seams on the inside so it looks all neat and tidy! Its a mix of several tutorials I've come across over the years with some tweaks. So here goes...

To start you need 2 pieces of fabric for the outside. I used 2 different fabrics for the front and back as I wanted Hello Kitty on one side and a plainer fabric to personalise on the other side (its much quicker to use just one fabric and not bother with the name!)

To personalise the bag.....
Print the letters you need at the size you want to use and trace them on to Bondaweb paper which has adhesive on both sides.
Remember to trace the letters back to front on to the Bondaweb. Cut each letter out and iron on to the back of the fabric you want to use for that letter.

Cut around the letter and fabric and peel off the backing paper. It now becomes clear why you have to trace the letters back to front as when you iron them on to the bag itself they should be the right way round! I actually ironed the letters on to a plain piece of cotton fabric before attaching that to the bag fabric.

Once you have ironed on the individual letters to the fabric, you need to machine round the edge of the letter to ensure they stay in place. I then added buttons before machining it on to the spotty fabric using a zigzag stitch.

and now for the bag itself......

You can make the bag any size you like. My fabric pieces were 38cm x 45cm. Place the 2 pieces of fabric patterned sides together and pin down one side, across the bottom and up the other side.

You need to leave a gap of 2cm on one side near the top of  the bag for the drawstring to come out. I measure down 4cm from the top and place a pin, then measure another 2 cm and place another pin. The space between the 2 pins is the gap you need to leave.

You also need to add a loop of ribbon inside the bag on the same side close to the bottom to act as a loop for the cord.
Sew down one side (above and below the gap you left), along the bottom and up the other side. I use a seam allowance of approx 1cm which is basically my sewing machine foot width. I usually sew across the ribbon loop several times for reinforcement. Clip across the bottom corners. If you turn the bag the right way out now it should  look like this

You then need to make the lining. You need 2 pieces of fabric exactly the  same size as above. Sew down both sides and along the bottom but this time leave a large gap in the bottom seam to turn the bag inside out. Make sure you make the lining bag exactly the same size as the outer bag. This is REALLY important. I usually remeasure at this point to make sure the seams are going to be exactly the same size.

Now comes the complicated bit. It took me ages to work this bit out. You place the outside of the bag (Hello Kitty) right sides out INSIDE the lining bag which should be right sides facing in (my lining fabric is a gingham where both sides look the same just to confuse you!).

Line up the tops of each bag and pin all the way around about 2 cm down from the top.

Top tip: When pinning the bags together make sure the seam which has the gap in is pinned open like below. If you don't you won't be able to thread your cord through. I've forgotten several times amid much swearing and unpicking!!

Sew around the  top of the 2 bags. Now we are getting to the good part. Pull the inside bag through the gap you left in the lining bag and then pull the lining bag up and inside out as you go.
It should  look like this

You then need to sew up the bottom of the lining bag. I machine across the bottom as I think this looks neater than my hand sewing but its up to you.

Push the lining down inside the bag.

We are almost there now! Its a good idea to give the bag a press to get everything neat and tidy before sewing the channel for the cord. You now need to measure down 2cm from the top of the bag all the way around and pin. This should be just at the top of the gap the you left in the seam. Sew all the way around the bag.

Then measure down another 2cm and pin and sew. This will leave you with a channel for  your cord.

Thread the cord through the channel you have made using a safety pin and then thread through the loop you made and tie a knot.
eh voila you have a lovely PE bag!

Doing a tutorial is REALLY hard. I hope it made sense? If anyone actually manages to make something from this tutorial you deserve a medal! please send me a photo as I would love to see it. Apologies to all those who are thinking what the ?????????????

Good luck. You'll need it!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

We have a winner

Thanks for your comments on my last post. Its been a very difficult week. Your kind words, ideas and suggestions have been much appreciated.

Its time to announce the winner of my Mothers Day giveaway. The lucky winner will receive a fantastic scented Spring Bouquet and a bottle of wine in time for Mothers Day thanks to the lovely people at Interflora.

and the winner is..............Fairly Girly

Congratulations. I hope you love them.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Lifes ups and downs

My lovely father in law died on Sunday. Completely out of the blue with no warning. We had spent all day Saturday with him, gone to the park, had lunch outside in the sunshine and left about 8pm with plans to see him next week. He went to bed and just didn't wake up in the morning. He had an instant massive heart attack during the night. He was only 63 and the fittest person I know running half marathons regularly. Life is really not fair sometimes.

Explaining to the children has been hard. I have used this book before and it is fantastic for explaining loss and grief and remembering people to really young children. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Friday, 18 March 2011

Hello. Is that Fireman Sam? Can you tell Sam to eat his peas please.

This week I have discovered that I can make Sam do whatever I want by pretending to phone Fireman Sam.
Its fantastic! Sam has always had a bit of an aversion to fruit and veg and we've tried all sorts to get him to try new things. Not any more though. Want him to eat peas? Just phone Fireman Sam. Melon? Not a problem. Phone Fireman Sam. Time to go to bed? Fireman Sam says its time. He just does whatever we pretend Fireman Sam is telling him. Not sure how long I can spin this one out but its been a genius idea even if I say so myself!
I've had a really great week. I've sold 6 items including one of the charity sewing kits so I've  been able to donate the money to my chosen charity which supports Bulgaria's Abandoned Children. I also received some lovely  feedback which really made my day. To top it off  I am very excited as I won a giveaway on the lovely Angel Eden blog. 2 tickets for the Sewing for Pleasure, Hobbycrafts and Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch show/exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham. See here for more info. Is anyone else going? I'm really excited. A whole day of browing sewing related things. Heaven!

Don't forget to enter my Mothers Day Interflora giveaway.

A gorgeous bouquet and bottle of wine for the lucky winner. Click here to enter

p.s thanks to everyone who has nominated me for various blog awards over the last few weeks. I do really appreciate it. I just don't seem to get the time to pass them on sometimes and do all the links etc. Thanks for thinking of me though. Also next week I'll  do my PE bag tutorial as promised!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Giveaway - Win a fantastic Interflora bouquet for Mothers Day!

The lovely people at Interflora have very kindly offered one of my followers the chance to win a gorgeous bouquet from their Mothers Day Flowers range to be delivered just in time for Mothers Day on 3 April.

Not only do you get this beautiful scented spring bouquet worth £36.95 delivered to your door but you also get a bottle of wine to go with it. Perfect for your mum or just treat yourself!

Interflora also have a range of gorgeous Mothers Day Gifts if flowers are not your thing. Check out this Mothers Day Treat Bag

and for those who are not very organised and a bit last minute (like me!) Interflora do same day flower delivery. Order before 3pm and get flowers delivered the same day.

To enter all you have to do is check out one of the Interflora links above and leave a comment telling me your favourite item on the Interflora website. If you blog or tweet about the giveaway, let me know and you get another entry. I'll pick a name out of a hat on Sunday 27 March . Please make sure that I can contact you easily and quickly to get the address of where you would like the bouquet sent in time for Mothers Day!  Good luck!!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Spreading the love Interflora style

One of the many things I love about blogging is that you occasionally get the opportunity to review things. I generally say no but I couldn't resist when Interflora asked me to choose something from their website to review in the lead up to Mothers Day on 3 April. It felt a bit wrong getting the flowers for myself though so I asked if they could be sent to a friend of mine who I felt really deserved cheering up.

My friend Laura has had a tough year. I posted about her husbands battle with prostate cancer here only a few months ago. Well a couple of weeks ago he found out that he now has Thyroid cancer. Its not related apparently. Its just REALLY bad luck. The lovely people at Interflora sent the bouquet to Laura instead and it arrived yesterday (just as her husband went into hospital to have the first part of his treatment - a pretty big operation to remove his thyroid) so was perfectly timed.

I love flowers so I couldn't wait to see them and they were absolutely beautiful! A lovely hand tied Sunflower bouquet that arrived in a massive box. This is how the flowers looked on the website

The flowers that arrived were just as gorgeous. I went round to my friends to take a sneeky peek and a photo. I know my friend well so I asked for the gift set that also included chocolates. They went down very well!!

My friend was over the moon with the gift. She said how lovely it was to receive flowers out of the blue and that she was really touched that someone had gone to the trouble of ordering them for her. It was this part of the experience as much as the actual flowers themselves that made it so special. I thought this was really interesting. I could have gone round with a bunch of flowers myself as its easy to buy flowers in most supermarkets now but there is something extra special about getting a knock on the door and someone handing you a bouquet (not that it happens to me very often!). I do remember when both my children were born receiving several gorgeous bouquets through Interflora and they really made me smile all day.

I had a look at the Interflora website and they have some fantastic Mothers Day Ideas. I have dropped strong hints to my other half! They also do a fantastic range of Gift Hampers if flowers are not your thing. They even do gorgeous biscuits and cupcakes now. Check out this fabulous shoe biscuit and mug gift set.  Pefect for a yummy mummy!
Interflora have VERY kindly offered me a bouquet to give away on my blog so check back next week for a fantastic Mothers Day giveaway. The lucky winner will receive this gorgeous scented Spring bouquet and wine gift set worth £36.95 which will be delivered in time for Mothers Day.

Thank you Interflora and lots of love and luck to Laura and her husband Mike.