Thursday, 20 August 2015

Happy Holidays Mess No. 2: Potty training (or, 'How to crap in a wheelbarrow like a pro')

Hattie is two and a half. She is my second and final child. I can't express how much I am over scraping poo off her butt. She needs to do her thing in the appropriate place. So decision made, it was time to communicate this to Hattie. 

The summer holiday is hailed as the 'perfect time' to potty train your toddler. There is not a perfect time. It is not a perfect process and frankly some well adjusted, professional adults still seem to struggle. We (I) faffed about with knickers and praise and gritted teeth for the first couple of weeks and then honestly, buggered off to my mums. 

***Admission: I've never been in charge of potty training before. My son was in full-time nursery as I was working and I effectively paid them to do it and followed their lead. What I didn't realise until now is how much I had actually paid them to train me how to do it. 

The lowest point (apart from the washing, which actually I don't mind, I like cleaning products) was walking into the living room from the kitchen to find Hattie had taken off her knickers and placed them on her head. She had found and replaced them with a nappy, and was happily throwing Lego bricks at Simon Cowell who was on Top Gear. Most of this situation I thought was fair, but she was no closer to crapping in the right place. 

.....To read the rest of this frankly revolting saga, click here >> .....

Friday, 31 July 2015

The Wheels on the Bus go Where?

The first of our adventures for this summer was to the Firepit Campsite in Norfolk...Sam and Hattie are now obsessed with playing buses, making up stories about where they are going to go, and holding the obligatory fire drills...

Find out more about our adventures by checking out my new 'Happy Holiday' page!!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Keeping track of the days this summer x

There are loads of free printable scrapbook pages, calendars and to-do lists out there at the moment, and they are a cute way to organise stuff. As soon as school was out (less than 30 hours ago as I write), Sam was asking what was happening on what day...over, and over again!

So I sat down and doodled a quick week planner that we could put on the fridge and scribble it all on. It's really straight forward- and if you have a printer that scans at home, you can make multiple copies!

I used these awesome marker pens by Edding to make a clear image -keep it simple and make sure there is space for doodling. I didn't have to worry about sizing as my scanner sort of figures that out to print on A4, but if you are doing it all by hand, you might want to make sure it's the right size to fit in a plastic wallet.

Then I scanned the image and tweaked it a little (sharpened the contrast and brightened out any smudges) using the simple edit tools in iPhoto. Printed off 6 copies for the holiday weeks and bunged in a plastic wallet.

Our planner is stuck on the fridge -Sam can see it and so can Daddy (always handy as he asks me what's happening too). I've also stuck up another plastic pocket next to it to keep all the tickets, pics, labels and invites that we might collect over the summer. At the end, the calendar can be used as a scrapbook for us to remember what happened, sticking in the collected treasures on the right pages.

You can swipe my planner by saving the image at the top of the page, or if you want crisp pdf copy, send me a msg xx

Saturday, 4 July 2015

A Happy Hen Crafternoon...

If I work very hard, and I'm very lucky, sometimes I get to combine teaching and crafting. And it's brilliant. Today I was honoured to be asked to run a Hen Crafternoon for a lovely girl I knew from my school days. So armed with a glue gun, fabric, buttons and beads, needles and threads I set off into the Fens...

The bride had requested that her hen party made fabric flowers that would be put together to make her bridal bouquet. No pressure then. Zoe (our Pinterest savvy friend) and I worked up some Pinterest boards, narrowed down the colour scheme and fabrics, then I set to prepping and sourcing materials.

The prep work is also great fun -sourcing the right tones, finishings and trims over the internet and local shops, making up examples and writing up the instruction manuals. Each of the ladies was given a fabric flower as an example (with a handy brooch back to use again as a memento of the day) and instructions...these were in case we didn't make enough during the session and the bride needed to press-gang them into making more before the big day!

Then it was up to me to arrive just before the event started, to set up and make everything look pretty. All I ask for is a space in which to work, preferably a table and a plug! Once all the ladies were ready with fizz in hand, it was a quick demo of the two basic styles and then pitch in...

The ability ranged from non-crafty-but-give-it-a-go (resulting in an amazing lace and pearl representation of the male anatomy) to full blow ex-Costume Design students, so it was important to try and have a range of materials to suit everyone, as well as a basic design that could be adapted and made more complex.

The results? Hopefully the bride likes them -a stack of flowers in yellows, creams and greys with sparkle and pearls all over. I can't wait to see the wedding pictures! xx

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A Liberty Belle? 'Sew Over It' Review...

So if you follow me on FB or Instagram you know that I left it bloody late to sew and entire 1940's style frock for a themed party (which has already achieved epic status!) last weekend.

Jim bought me the Sew Over It pattern from Duxford Museum (where all good men do their shopping!) over a year ago for my birthday. My birthday treat was a day, alone, meandering in London, and ended in Liberty buying fabric. Both pattern and fabric had sat neatly in my cupboard waiting for an excuse...

Have to admit, I was pretty darn terrified cutting the most expensive fabric that I've ever purchased, but once I got over that fact, it was fine.

In terms of instructions and layout, the pattern was very straightforward and clear. I think you would have needed some skill to start with (you have to be able to insert a zip and there are sleeves which are a bit of a fiddle), but for someone who gets their sewing machine out now and again, it was fine. Specific terms are explained in the front (such as 'under-stitching') and there are diagrams throughout.
The pattern paper is brilliant quality, and heavier than traditional patterns -which prevented ripping and it really stayed put on the fabric.

It really was important to measure yourself before deciding upon the size to choose. I'm awkward and a size 10 across the boobs, a 13 waist and a 12 hips, so I went for a 12 all over, then reduced the seam allowance slightly around the waist sections. This did result in the dress being slightly too big across the back, but with some crafty seam work it was easily remedied. Pay attention to the seam allowances given -they are generous and unless you want acres of spare fabric all over, do as they say!

I was really chuffed with the end result -a comfy, nicely fitted frock that I will definitely wear again -not just to 1940's events.

If they could improve on anything, I would say a cotton quantity guide (I used 1 1/2 reels of Gutermann  thread, but none is suggested) would be a big help when purchasing. I'd also ask them to look again at the pattern piece layout -with some careful adjustment I managed to save nearly a 75cm stretch of fabric at the bottom which I can use to make my daughter a skirt (well chuffed I was too). Luckily my pattern didn't need matching specifically so this might not always be possible, but in the spirit of 40's 'Make Do and Mend' saving the scraps is essential!