Friday, 21 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be
on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsellor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.

Wishing you a Joyous and Peaceful Christmas, and a very Happy New Year!
(and yes, I'm sure Shepherds wore trainers back then!!!!!!)

Sunday, 9 December 2007

A Great Day...

TODAY is a great day.
Today I finished swimming the channel and raised £260 for Aspire.
Today we decorated the tree.

Today I finished these hearts as a present for my friend.

Today we went to Starbucks!!

Today we posed in front of the tree.

Oh, and we have a "fake" tree this year!


Friday, 7 December 2007

Christmas Question and Answers...join in!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both. I enjoy spending time choosing my paper carefully, together with tags and ribbons. If someone has a particularly awkward present, they get a bag.

2. Real tree or artificial? Real. Growing up we had an artificial one. Hubby prefers real. I love the smell, but hate it when we have to take it outside after Christmas, and the perpetual hoovering up of needles.

3. When do you put up the tree? Second week in December usually. Children have their trees up already! This goes up on 1st December, naturally!

4. When do you take the tree down? As soon as possible after Christmas!! Usually New Year's Day, that means there are people around to help, otherwise I get lumbered doing it myself.

5. Do you like eggnog? Even the name makes we want to that's a No.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Handmade dolly in a basket, made by my Grandma. My daughter plays with it now.

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? We did have one which my Grandad made, but it fell apart after years of play. I've seen a gorgeous one which I'm hoping to buy with the children next week.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My father-in-law. There are only so many war books/bow ties/chocolates you can buy one person! Bless him!

9. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? An epilator. One word.....OWWWWWWWW!

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I like both, as long as someone thinks of you, who cares where it comes from!

11. Favorite Christmas Movie? Home Alone or Elf. "Santaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa"

12. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Around September time. When Borders in Beckton closed down, I pretty much did the children's christmas presents in one go.

13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes and they all went to very good homes.

14. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Full roast, then turkey sandwiches with stuffing and cranberries.

15. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear and no chasing, twinkling, fading etc etc. Just plain!

16. Favorite Christmas song/carol? O Holy Night - gives me goosebumps.

17. Travel at Christmas or stay home? One year here, one year away.

18. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? I will get my "Night Before Christmas" book out and I'll be able to tell you! But off the top of my head? No

19. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star. Haven't found the right Angel yet. Maybe I'll make one for next year.

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Eve?!?!?!?! Noooo Christmas Morning thank you very much! We have table presents after lunch and then MORE presents in the afternoon when visiting relatives. Some smaller ones are kept for Boxing Day too.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year? People panic buying food in the supermarket.
Wishing you a very joyous and peaceful Christmas, and a happy new year!
A little picture of my moody angel at her Nativity!!

Thursday, 29 November 2007


I love flowers....which is a good thing seeing as I trained as a Florist almost 5 years ago! I had worked in the City for 10 years, ending up in Legal Recruitment. But after having H, I just couldn't hack it anymore, I didn't want to be working the long hours, plus travelling and after a glitch with the nursery he was at (a blessing in disguise) I left.......

I wanted something that was going to fit in around children, and for those with children, you know how hard that is. Anyway, when I was 15 I had wanted to be a florist, but my mum persuaded me not to do it. Probably because junior florists are paid hideously low wages and if you learn 'on the job' you are going to get all the horrible jobs to do!

So at the age of 28, I went back to college for a 2 year stint to train to be a florist. I had an idea that playing with flowers was going to be a wonderfully enriching past-time and I would be happy spending all day being creative. Capel Manor College is THE place to go to learn floristry so off I trotted. H was settled at a new nursery and the course was less than 15 hours per week and so I had the best of both worlds.

Some things I learned in my first year.......

  • You are always going to be COLD.

  • You learn how to 'feather' carnation petals until the cows come home.

  • Wiring 100 ivy leaves is not funny and does not feel remotely creative with cold hands

  • You need lashings of handcream after every lesson

  • There are only so many things you can do with Leather Leaf to make it look attractive.

  • You have to learn many Latin names for plants and flowers, and learn how to pronounce Tsuga Heterophylla like you know what it looks like, and what to do with it (especially as everyone says it differently!).

  • Work experience as a 28 year old is no fun at all, especially when the Head Florist is younger than you!

  • Making arrangements and hand ties in class is totally different when you do it at work as the customer is always waiting.

  • Tool Boxes are best not left in the middle of the room, especially when you are carrying a bucket full of freezing water.

However, in my second year...

You learn to think creatively on every piece of the flower, like how to use stems of Gerberas in an arrangement. Something my floristry teacher had never seen before.

You learn to work as a team. Our team always went for large-scale designs. When we were asked to design and make a wire framed 'animal', we in fact, designed and made a swan. It was so large that the floristry department went over their budget for the year (the wings had individually glued on leaf skeletons that cost a fortune wholesale, let alone retail!). But our tutor said she had to let us make it as she wanted to see how it would turn out! We constructed the frame from bonsai wire, covered it in chicken wire, stuffed it with paper, and used moss all over (which you have to wire in place), and then we sprayed it. It was the centerpeice for Christmas.

You learn how to design and construct wedding bouquets - funnily enough I said I was never going to get involved doing weddings, but it turned out, I was very good at them and now that's what I do the most of!

I don't do as much floristry as I did, with two children, a job as a Fundraiser and all my other projects on the go, it has taken a back seat (for now). I still do the odd bouquet, funeral arrangement and sister-in-law is getting married next September so I will have to dig out my scissors and stem stripper!

Saturday, 24 November 2007

We are what we do...

I got into a little debate the other day about the Cbeebies Song "How would you feel...." (Listen here). Anyway the person I debated with seemed to think that telling children about the effects of global warming was too scary for them, and something they should be sheilded from (but on the same note, it was OK for their 3.1/2 year old to watch Harry Potter(!)...but I digress...)

I think really it's vital that children learn from a very young age the importance of "we are what we do". That doesn't mean hammering it home every five minutes, but as children learn by example it's a wonderful thing for a 7 year old to have some idea about his surroundings, how important it is to recycle, not leave the TV on standby and definitely not leave the tap running when brushing teeth!

I bought Marie Clare last month. Not because it's my usual magazine (don't worry, I passed it onto a friend!) but because of the bag. I do love bags, but I particularly liked this one as it says "Plastic aint my bag". It fits into my handbag and I now make sure that I have it with me so I can decline plastic bags whenever I'm in a shop. I don't mean to sound virtuous but it does leave me feeling pretty good that I have less plastic to recycle this week.

Another environmental 'thing' I feel passionate about is nappies. I'm rather sad that my two don't wear them anymore as I absolutely adored seeing their little bottoms in cloth, especially when I had lots which were second and third hand. I then passed them onto a friend whose little boy wears them - isn't that amazing! (well, it is to me!).

C had to take in a "named plastic bag" on Monday for her plimsolls. As one of my actions on the "We are what we do" website is to decline plastic bags...I don't have many! So I made her a bag.......and she is very pleased with it.

Oh, and my knitting has grown this week! Instead of head bobbing on the sofa whilst watching re-runs of Friends or Ugly Betty, I've been knitting. Still a way to go but I feel rather pleased with myself! :-D

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Gill and I have been making tree decorations for our school's Bring & Buy. After seeing hers, I thought I should post mine as they are both so different! Mine are made out of scraps of fabric left over from my bridesmaid dresses 11 years ago! They took such small scraps that I am going to sew all the other scraps together to make multicoloured silk trees (but on another day, I'm up to my eyes in B&B stuff at the mo!)

I've also finished quilting two wall hangings for Christmas. One for my mother-in-law and one for us. I machine quilted for ease, just around each picture (as I am short on time!) but I think they are lovely as they have great pictures with lots of detail. I'm waiting for my Star of Wonder buttons to arrive which compliment the wall hanging but while I'm posting pictures of Christmas trees I thought I would include this as well.

The Bring & Buy has been a bit of a nightmare. We have ended up doing far more than we expected (it's amazing how people disappear when they are asked to do something!) so I haven't done as many "Wonky Bunting" crafts as I'd like. Still, I have around 24 hours to complete everything else! Hey ho...I love what we've made though. See for some other things from Wonky Bunting!!

After a hectic morning, just a few hours sewing has restored my inner calm. I do love sitting down at my table to sew, with an old film on in the background (My Fair Lady today) I can sit and create.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

A Relaxing Day Off

Our family has been busy these past few weeks. My husband went to South Africa for 10 days to work in Drakenstein and Pollsmoor Prisons, working with the (some very) young boys/men who have found themselves, for whatever reason, in prison. While he was away, I was looking after the smalls with the help of my parents. I didn't get as much done in the evening as I expected, because I was too busy making full use of the in-house babysitters (thanks Mum and Dad!). So my sewing slowed down somewhat, even though the flow of fabric coming in little jiffy bags from Ebay continued to come in.

After a hectic few days this week, I decided today, Wednesday, my full day without the children was going to be a sewing day (well, at least morning!). There is washing to do and a floor to mop but I was more drawn to a nice piece of IKEA fabric I won on Ebay. I did originally want to make the bag I made with Cath Kidston strawberry fabric but I didn't have enough. But I am very pleased with the result. Made from my Sew Pretty Homestyle book, I already had the 7" bamboo handles ready so I set to work. I didn't take any action shots, I just got on with it, and here is the result....

It will hold all my current projects (which are in little fabric envelopes themselves!) and also my knitting. So wherever I go, where I am waiting around for one or both of my children...I will be sewing, cross-stitching or knitting!

I am now suitably relaxed, have had some delicious Broccoli and Stilton Soup, home-made bread, a naughty slice of cheesecake...and now I'm off to swim 50 lengths at my local pool. Lovely.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Sew Inspiring

The children and I had a fantastic half-term week in Cornwall, visiting my parents. It's always great to see them for obvious reasons, but also for some other ones too:

  • They live right by the sea.

  • H loves taking the dogs out for a walk over the cliffs in the morning.

  • We all get spoiled rotten, with cups of tea in bed and cooked breakfasts.

  • Proper Cornish pasties and proper Cornish cream teas (jam, then cream in Cornwall!)

  • A free ice cream in Boscastle Rock Shop!

  • I get to rifle through my mum's fabric stash (oh the joys of having a dad as a fabric agent!)

  • I get to go to all my mums sewing and knitting groups, learn new skills and watch everyone else make wonderful quilts and take home lots of inspiration for my own.
Each night, mum and I spent the evening planning what we were going to make. After my friend Gill bought Sew Pretty Homestyle, I rang my mum to tell her about this wonderful book, and that I was going to buy it. My mum sounded a bit strange on the phone, it was only later that I discovered she had already bought it for me for Christmas! I was very happy when she presented me with two early presents....the book, and a much longed for needle case. She made the needle case for her local WI competition and won, I'm sure you'll agree she is very talented. I hope it runs in the family! The middle heart is padded as it's a small pin cushion. In the picture of the front is my new matching pin cushion which is also from the SPH book (how excited can a girl get about a needle case and a pin cushion...pretty excited I can tell you!)

We took a trip to what is becoming one of my favourite shops, shame it is such a long way away. and I bought a few fat quarters, much to my dad's amusement as my mum has a sewing room FULL of fabric. I will add a photograph another time, it really needs to be seen to be believed (and I'm sure she'll thank me for saying that!).

This is a project that is all cut out and ready to go... the strawberries. As soon as I saw the book I knew I had to make them (and the cushion too). I even bought some Strawberry Essence from Ebay, which smells just like Strawberry laces, I can't stop sniffing it!

I meant to make the strawberries out of my newly purchased fabric, but my mum suggested making a few trial ones. They went well, so I made some out of plain red fabric which I have yet to finish as I want to put beads on where the seeds of the strawberry should go.

I then started making hearts (because I love absolutely anything heart-shaped), and after buying some Merry Christmas tape from (another fabulous shop, where I bought my Driftwood heart from in the summer!) I decided to sew those onto the hearts to make little Christmas decorations. However, I've now decided these hearts are going to be my Christmas cards/decorations for close friends/family - so if you get one, I hope you like them!

I also made this for my newly engaged sister-in-law (I feel like I'm doing a show-and-tell here!). My mum made one for us a few years ago with four little stockings that we put over our fireplace. These are for Suzie and David. Obviously if they have children we will add stocking, or two!

When I went to my mum's patchwork and quilting group I was upset to have forgotten my camera. Not only do they have their own projects on the go, they all recently made little tiny quilts for premature babies for a hospital in Hampshire, they make little quilted bags with toiletries in for any family members staying in the local hospice AND they make quilts for that get raffled for charity! The week really did make me feel sew inspired.... My mum and dad are visiting us for a week this Friday, as R is off to South Africa (that will probably be another blog as this one is long enough!). Anyway I have lots of things planned while they are here, mostly sewing, and a trip to John Lewis in Bluewater to get more loot!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

All Things Pinkie

I used to hate pink....until my daughter was born.

Being a redhead, I was never a pinkie kind of girl as everyone used to tell me that it clashed with my hair! As a child, my hair was the kind that all adults would fawn over and tell you they'd love to have hair like mine. As a child and teenager, I was teased because of it - believe me, there isn't any insult I haven't heard! It was thick and curly and my mum, who wasn't really into ponytails and plaits, cut it short......big mistake, huge mistake. So I wasn't dressed in pink as a child and I had short hair so was often mistaken for a boy - Ugh!

When I was pregnant I was delighted to find out I was having a girl, although I said I would never do the "pink thing" with her as I still wasn't a fan. Her bedroom was going to be a buttery yellow with white curtains with hand-embroidered daisies over them...and not a pink toy, blanket or sleepsuit in sight. In fact, when I was pregnant with H, and was told at 20 weeks it was a girl, the baby's bedroom was apple green and white! (and of course it was a good thing we didn't do a pinkie makeover then, as H was confirmed as a boy at a random scan at 32 weeks!!

When C was born, the midwife dressed her in a pale pink tiny-baby sleepsuit I had borrowed from a friend, as it was the only one that fitted her. She was swamped in the yellow sleepsuits and the other borrowed Winnie-the-Pooh sleepsuits (I was secretly pleased as I'm not a fan of Pooh either!!) When we got home, friends and family visited, gifts started arriving and everything was PINK! A whole spectrum of pink, from hot pink from Auntie Suzie, and real dusky pink dresses with frilly knickers(!) from Great-Nannies. The colour that I had not really been fond of, was everywhere and when a huge pink box arrived with a huge pink bow, pink cuddly toy, blanket, sleepsuit, socks and hat, we knew this colour was here to stay!

C is mad on pink (and who can blame her).

She calls it Pinkie and so do we, even her nursery teachers adopted the name Pinkie, hence my Blogger name, as C also loves Cupcakes.

However, when we jokingly asked the other day what colour she'd like her new bedroom (once it's been built), she replied.................PURPLE!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Holidays, and back to earth with a bump

Ugh, school has started. I keep thinking "this time last week we were....."


We had a wonderful week in Kent, with the beach at the end of our shingle road, a row of beach huts, a tea room, paper shop and a pub. What more did we need! We swam in the sea every day and slept soundly each night. It seemed very very dark without streetlights, and so peaceful. It was fantastic to sit outside and look up at the full moon.

Still, the week had to end and suddenly I was doing last-minute label sewing, buying forgotten school equipment (and then finding it after I'd bought a second lot) and catching up on household chores. H&C went back to school with no problems (although C has cried a little!). I miss them, but I don't miss running after them constantly tidying and re-tidying!

C has moved up another class, but she told me last night that she preferred being in the nursery, but wanted to be able to wear her dress. Isn't it hard telling your children that although they don't like doing something, they kinda have to? I remember when H started at his new school, he HATED it, and me. But we made the right decision, he just wouldn't be persuaded at the time (he is stubborn like his mother!) Now he absolutely loves it, he couldn't wait to get back and see his friends.
I'm sure C will get to that stage eventually (I hope!). Until then, bribery of "Bravery Awards" (a pink Stephanie from Lazytown Wig and Dress) and chocolate fish from Waitrose seem to be keeping the tears at bay. I haven't forgotten H, he was awarded a Kindness award at school this week, for not only being kind to his friends, but for checking up on his sister every break time - a much longed-for Batman game for his Leapster is on its way. They will come down from earth with a bump next week when homework starts and it's carrot sticks and fruit on the way home!!

Thursday, 9 August 2007

The Joy of School Holidays....

I love having the kids around. OK, so they may bicker, make lots of mess and wear me out to the point of exhaustion, but I love having them around! On Monday we spent practically all day in the garden, laying under the tree, reading, playing football, making camps and generally lazing about.

On Tuesday we went to the cinema to see Evan Almighty (very good). Yesterday we went to a garden centre to buy plants for one of our borders and spent the afternoon planting. I'd forgotten how relaxing being in the garden can be. Now all I have to do is buy some slug pelletts so the buggers don't eat everything. I'm sure my neighbour slings them over the fence as we've had them in epidemic proportions this year!

Today we were at the park and the kids didn't stop running, cycling and playing for 5 solid hours. Needless to say they were in bed and asleep by 7 o'clock! Days are flying by and soon they will be back at school (groan). The school run isn't a favourite pastime, and we'll have to get used to getting dressed before midday and not making chocolate brownies in our jammies.
We still have lots of other activities planned - painting, more baking, a visit to Kew Gardens, a PYO farm, Thames Barrier Park (shame about the fountains though!) and then it'll be off to the coast for another week. Lovely.
Oh, and I'm swimming the channel! Not literally, but 1760 lengths of my local pool in order to raise money for ASPIRE. That should get me fit.
Happy Days.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

A Driftwood Heart....

This is my latest acquisition, a heart made entirely out of driftwood from the Cornish coast. Combining my two favourite items, I spied it in a shop and R rolled his eyes and laughed, knowing I had to have it! I said he could buy it for my birthday, but my parents bought it instead. R seemed to think I had enough driftwood to make one of my own, but it would take me another year to collect enough - and I can't wait that long.

I love it, and even though R and my Dad were silent when I asked "Isn't it beautiful" I think it is. They just have no taste!!

It's in the family room on the wall at the moment, but once THE extension is done, it will go in our room.

Not just driftwood floating on the water now.....

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

St Mawes

This was the view from our cottage, and the two rainbows were a bonus.
We had a fantastic holiday in St Mawes and the weather wasn't actually too bad! When we arrived I thought we were in for bad weather as the sea leapt over the wall and soaked R as he got the cases in from the car...however we had two days of awful rain and the rest were nice and sunny with a few spots of rain, creating the most gorgeous rainbows.
There was so much to do. We went to The Eden Project, The National Maritime Museum, Goonhilly Satellite Station, St Mawes and Pendennis Castles, also a ferry trip to Falmouth on a gorgeous evening for fish and chips, long days on the beach and loads of cream teas and ice cream (mint-choc-chip mmmm). There is still plenty to do again so I'm sure this won't be our last visit.
St Mawes is actually quite a quiet village (well, it was when we were there!) and the views were breathtaking. I love the sea and we miss waking up to seeing the tide go in (or out) and the salty air as you walk down the road to get a paper and a fabulous Almond Croissant or Pain au Chocolate from Cafe Chandlers.
The children enjoyed their room with the sea view and spent most of the time pretending they lived on a boat.
I want to go away again......

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Wool and Children

I escaped to the living room with my knitting, only to be followed by one of my small people incessantly asking questions about a. what I was up to and b. was that a flapjack sticking out of my mouth. I didn't want to reply (well I couldn't at that precise moment because of the flapjack) that I was actually trying to escape and knit a few rows of my bag. I am learning to knit, so this bag is taking an awfully long time. As small person stood next to me, she peered into my Monsoon bag and gasped at all the lovely green balls. I fished out my knitting and got started and was so engrossed in trying to keep hold of both needles while trying to knit, when suddenly small person said 'uh-oh' and then ran off. I looked down at my lap and she had unravelled the ball of wool attached to my not-yet-a-bag and turned it into a messy green heap on my lap. I then spent the next 20 minutes making it back into a ball, muttering that I could have at least knited one row in the time it took me to sort that out. Smallest small was sorry, with a sly grin on her face. "That was funny" she said.