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.