Sunday, 30 September 2007

My last cake-themed post, I promise!

Every year, no matter how busy he is, Ian always makes Zebra-Girl and Dinosaur-Boy's birthday cakes (this year he was reeeeeaaaaalllly busy, so I ended up baking the canvas for him to decorate). It's half-eaten now, but Zebra-Girl loved it.

The cake I made for my mother's birthday (and I can't picture it here as I refuse to display something so horrifically ugly) was interesting. It was in the shape of a heart and I'd iced it with pale lilac icing and then used some purple crystallised petals to create an iris (her favourite flower)...however, I had no green for the stem, so that ended up purple too. Once I'd finished it I then cleverly put it on a plate that wasn't completely flat...can you guess what happened to the icing?

Well, my sister had came down from London and with the children off in their various educational pods for the morning we had some rare time just the three of us. I lit the candles in the utility room and then came back into the kitchen where Laura and my mother were...wanting to share the surprise cake moment, I asked my sister if she would mind carrying through the 'thing' that I'd left in the other room. She obliged and came round the corner carrying it, with a huge smile on her face and singing happy birthday very enthusiastically, but our tune was rapidly obliterated by the snorts of hilarity that she became unable to contain and as she came closer to our dear Mama, who was then able to get a better look at the cake, she too ended up screeching with laughter until all three of us were completely bent double.

Having taken in and expressed her horror about the fact that the icing looked like the skin around a pug dog's forehead (pictured left, as it does seem unfair not to illustrate the disaster in some small way), my mother then said 'what is it?' gazing at the purple sugar crystal blobs inquisitively....and somehow, Laura, who I don't think even knows herself how, said: I think it's an iris...at which point we laughed even harder as none of us could quite believe that she'd guessed at what I'd intended it to be...in some ways it was possibly the very best cake I've ever made as it propelled us off on the right foot for a high-spirited morning. (NB. Before you think that my mother and sister could be described as heartless or ungrateful...really, it was so ugly there was nothing else you could do but squeal with laughter at how on earth I managed to create such a sight and I loved that they couldn't hide it!)

It has come to light after my last post that I seem to have inadvertently given myself quite a different persona to the one that I actually possess...it would seem that I have in some way implied that I have the lovely earthy goodness of Tom & Barbara from The Good Life and that not only do I spend my time baking almost constantly (I do bake occasionally, but baking on the scale pictured is strictly confined to one week in September each year), but also that I have my own lovely hens in the back garden laying tasty eggs for me. I so want to be that wonderful person, that actually I spent a happy ten minutes thinking up names for my little clucking wonders (Rosie, Mary, Millie...), but actually my eggs, while very definitely free-range, were actually purchased in Sainsbury's and I am in fact, by nature, so horribly un-muddy (it pains me to wear trainers, if that gives you a clue - something to do with the idea that they represent an expectation or a willingnesss to get a bit grubby should the need arise) that I simply wouldn't be capable of even collecting the eggs from the little dears, let alone keeping their barn (yes, I'd built one of those in my head!) tidy and clean.

Anyway, I think I am perhaps quite giddy with tiredness tonight and this post has been long and rambling so I will finish with a picture of this of a 3-D calendar that I made up after seeing some on Sarah London's lovely blog. I'd seen the pattern for them elsewhere and had been put off by it looking slightly complicated (it's not at all, but it looks fiddly when you first see the print out). Sarah had printed patterns onto her paper before printing the actual calendar and this idea of using it as a way to display favourite fabrics suddenly made the whole idea much more appealing. It's been sitting in this teacup all week, so that's where I've ended up photographing it too. I have to confess to using superglue to stick it together after getting slightly frustrated with Zebra-Girl's not-very-sticky glue stick, which may have been unnecessarily heavy-handed, but it will definitely stay in one piece now!

Thursday, 27 September 2007

A thank you to the hens...

...for today I have used a whopping 26 of their finest eggs! This week is always a bit of a hectic one for us as we have three birthdays in our family, in the space of six days, plus Zebra-Girl's actual party...and the baking and present-buying that surrounds those days, while always lovely, is also exhausting. By the time these babies had come out of the oven I felt like I wanted to go to bed for a week and I hadn't even started decorating them at that point (or re-making and baking the two cakes at the back of the picture that I decided weren't up to scratch).

A while ago I wrote about making a heart stencil out of tin foil to pour Hundreds & Thousands into ....however, my sister (yes, bestower of wonderful gifts again!) has since sourced some tiny metal heart cutters which are just perfect for doing that very thing.

I love cupcake holders...particularly the shape around the edges....so here's a picture (I'm short on words today...too tired...and lots of dots to signify that I have lost the ability to finish a sentence)!

So...the main cakes are still to decorate...but the cupcakes are now finished. Ian brought home a Photoshop trial for me to play with the other day and after a mere five minutes of messing around with it I can tell it's going to become an addiction. Here is a picture of my finished cupcakes that I have just Photoshopped!

I love this - it reminds me of the drawings in old-fashioned children's books.

...now back to Cakeland....my short break is over....

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Pin a jelly on my husband's head...

So here is the alternative to Pin the Tail on the Donkey that Ian & I have been working on for Zebra-Girl's party. Ian has created a picture of himself with the body of Pele (the famous footballer...I put that as I wasn't actually too sure who he was myself, which was the source of some disappointment to Ian) with a landscape made from magazines and carrier bags. Each child will get a sticker with their name and a picture of a jelly on it...and there you have Pin the Jelly on Zebra-Girl's Daddy's Head.

Monday, 24 September 2007

A man with a van brings much happiness...

What an exciting weekend my sister and I had as a man with a van drove between our houses, swapping our belongings! My sister, Laura, has just had her bathroom made smaller in order to create a dressing room and so she no longer had a place for the wardrobe that's been in our family for as long as I can remember (she inherited over 20 years ago when a relative died)...and as I have been surviving with only 45cm of clothes hanging space for the last 6 years (I know - and Ian said this was a good thing...he foolishly thought it would stop me buying too many clothes, as if a girl would let the small issue of storage stand in her way!) I was the perfect person to off-load it onto.

Laura did this fully aware that it is rare for an item of furniture to come through our door and not be painted in a shade of white...but actually now it's in place I can't decide whether it needs it...opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Anyway, the wardrobe arrived with a drawer full of goodies....one bag of Marks & Spencer's eclairs (unfortunately these can't be photographed as loading up the new wardrobe needed some confectionery accompaniment), a fantastic grey mini-dress that she'd had on such long-term loan (about 7 years, but suddenly I was having 'can't live without it' feelings) that it feels like a completely new garment and also two beautiful bouquets of white roses, one of which is now in front of the fireplace. What lovely, lovely surprises!

Alarmingly the wardrobe had locked itself in transit and the key seems to have long been missing, so Ian had to do very clever things with a paperclip!

My offering in return seems rather paltry, but I am hoping that she will love it as much as I loved all my goodies from her....A couple of months ago Laura had admired my doorstop, but I hadn't been able to make her one because the postage on 2.5kg of rice may have been a bit excessive (if only I had known earlier of Jo's tip at Today We Are.... for making this post-worthy - she came up with the idea of using industrial strength velcro on the bottom, instead of sewing it up, so that it can be filled at the other end). Anyway, a man going round the M25 just for us seemed like too good a door-stop-delivering-opportunity to miss, so I made her what I thought would be an identical one...but somehow it ended up taller and skinnier than the original and Ian & I both agreed that it's lack of chubbiness wasn't quite as pleasing, so we've kept that one for ourselves and have given Laura the tubby one. Despite the fact that the shape wasn't quite as nice, it was quicker to make and the corners are neater - I love doing things a second time around and ironing out all the flaws of the first model!

While making the handle I tried out a tip that Melly from Melly & Me had left for me on a previous post when I'd pondered on whether bag handles were meant to take half an hour to turn inside out. She'd suggested sewing one end up, then using the seal to poke something against (a chopstick/pen) until the closed end has come out through the open end, at which point you can trim off the bit where you had sewn it shut. It worked perfectly and saved me so much time.


Anyway, we are currently deep in preparations for Zebra-Girl's party...In an attempt at subverting the traditional pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey game, Ian is currently attaching a giant cut-out of his head onto the body of a slightly less giant Pele, in order to create the basis for a pin-the-jelly-on-Zebra-Girl's-daddy's-head game...watch this space, I will hopefully be blogging this masterpiece tomorrow!

Friday, 21 September 2007

A good book and an embarrassing story

I thought I'd post up a few pictures from this brilliant book that a friend lent to me. It's called Flea Market Style by Emily Chalmers and is definitely worth purchasing if you like things a little shabby. I particularly love some of the pictures in the section on children's rooms, but actually the whole book is full of beautiful pictures and inspiring ideas.

I love this girl's bedroom - they've created a patchwork wall covering behind the bedhead using off-cuts and scraps from different wallpapers. I think it looks fantastic and I love the idea of getting so many different patterns on to the walls - I remember the fabrics and prints from my own childhood vividly and so love to think that the child who sleeps in this bedroom might see a pattern or print in years to come that will instantly fill her with nostalgia and memories of her own lovely bedroom. Much as I love it though, it's not something I'd do in my own house as I like things a bit neater-looking than that (I hate this aspect of myself, but I've realised it may be an insurmountable trait, so have given up trying to change!)...

However, this picture on the right gives inspiration for something that feels like a smaller, more contained proposition. Each little cubbyhole has been backed with different paper and is the perfect way of displaying all the bits and pieces that children accumulate. I'd love to do this if I can find something suitable to do it to!

Anyway, onto the embarrassing story - this actually happened years ago, but I was reminded of it while reading Anna Maria Horner's blog this morning (which tells of her own embarrassing encounter with one of the band members from Counting Crows - do go and read it if you haven't already!) and so thought I'd share it with you!

This happened about 7 or 8 years ago when I lived and worked in London - I was walking down Floral Street in Covent Garden (which is a lovely cobbled road, that doesn't tend to get too much traffic down it) on a very hot summer day and in the distance I could see a man walking towards me in the middle of the road...even from a distance I couldn't help but notice that he was rather HOT! (Yes, the sort that requires caps lock!). Something about his confident walk, the half-open linen shirt, and the floppy hair...but the nearer he got the more familiar he seemed. I was frantically trying to place who he might be and failing, but it seemed rude not to acknowledge him when I was sure that I knew him from somewhere, so I pulled at the straw that I thought to be most likely and said: 'hello, aren't you a friend of my dad?' (they seemed a vaguely similar age and my father does occasionally seem to associate with men who have aged quite respectably, so it wasn't a completely unlikely suggestion). Anyway, he stopped walking and smirked slightly and said: 'who's your dad then?', and just as I was about to fill him in on my father's name, I stopped and realised that my mouth was gaping...I knew exactly who he was...and I somehow managed to slur the words: 'oh...you're Paul Weller, aren't you?'...he nodded, gave me a huge smile and walked away laughing, while I stood completely frozen to the spot, still with open mouth and feeling like I was about to die with both happiness and embarrassment (and I had never even thought he was good looking until seeing him in the flesh!).

Enjoy the weekend! x

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

More postal excitement...what a lovely week!

Oh what wonderful things we have arriving through our letterbox this week (the latest in the form of a Royal Mail card, telling me that they'd called when I was out and that there was a parcel to be collected - I almost enjoy missing their calls, as the drive to the post office can be so much fun spent wondering about what might be waiting). Anyway, back in the car I very excitedly (a more patient person would have prolonged the fun and waited to unwrap it until they were back at home!) tore open the Amazon packaging to find that Ian must have been browsing my Amazon wish list and had very sweetly ordered me some of the books from it. Amy Karol's Bend the Rules has been on there for ages and so I am very excited about having a proper look through it. I'd seen Girls Best Book of Knitting, Sewing and Embroidery (Virginie Desmoulins) in Waterstones a couple of months ago - it's actually a children's book, but I'd put it on the wish list for myself, rather than for Zebra-Girl, as I think that the projects and pictures in it are just as appealing for an adult (the recommended reading age for it on Amazon is 9-12 years...it could be saying a lot about my maturity level, but actually I think this is really underselling the book, as it's fantastic!). As well as some doll's clothes, it includes patterns for knitted fruits, beautiful bags, felt shoes and all sorts of other lovelies.

Last night Ian helped me put together Zebra-Girl's birthday party invitations - some fridge magnets and a picture of one of the cupcakes that we'd made over the summer and we were done (getting Zebra-Girl to write them all out took a lot longer!)....time is going far too quickly - I can't believe she is about to have another birthday.

Yesterday afternoon you could almost sense the last of the nice weather (we were right, it has been cloudy and drizzly all day today, but there's little satisfaction in guessing that it might be so...other than in a sort of Eeyore way...) so Dinosaur-Boy & I spent the afternoon in the park, burying his feet, having fun and generally forgetting that we both had colds that had been making us feel grumpy.

Anyway, while I've been writing this I've noticed Giger Vamp has left a comment about trying to find a button box...which reminded me that I had been meaning to write about that very thing...well almost that very thing, as my own search has been for the perfect pin tin...but I think the pin tin I have found may have a fellow button tin that is equally desirable. I saw them in the new Cath Kidston catalogue that came through in the post the other day (yet again my letterbox is the provider of all good things...it's so pleasing when you have a clear theme running through a post, even if only by accident!) and in it I saw the most divine button tin....and a very pretty pin tin. The pin tin is hinged,which is exactly what I had been hoping for and covered in lovely roses...and so affordable at only £4!!! Horay!

Monday, 17 September 2007

Little tiny bits of loveliness...

Today these lovely buttons arrived in the post for the children - a gift from my sister, Laura. Last time she came to visit, Zebra-Girl and Dinosaur-Boy had been sorting through my button box and admiring all the different varieties. They were happy doing this for a while, but ultimately, Zebra-Girl didn't want to just look at them; she wanted to possess them! (I can understand that, as I'm guilty of feeling that way about fabrics and buttons too). With nearly every button she picked up came the request of: Mummy, can I keep this one, can I have it in my bedroom forever? And while I really wanted to give her some to keep, nearly every one that she picked up I found myself unable to part with, just in case it would be the button that would be essential to the completion of one of my sewing projects, only to find that it was lost forever in the jumble of the children's possessions. So my dear sister eventually quietened them by promising to go to a wonderful button shop near to her house in London as soon as she returned there, and then to post them some to arrive on Monday morning. Zebra-Girl will be so pleased with them when she arrives home from school.

Here are Dinosaur-Boy's buttons - he was so delighted with them that I was unable to prise them from his hot little hand for long enough to photograph them - so he grudgingly agreed to display them on his palm. Laura picked them with a sky theme in mind - either their colour or something that goes in the sky...

And here are some more little bits of loveliness - this time given to the children by their grandmother. She found them on the beach - they are shells worn incredibly smooth by the sea, but their ridges and lines are still just there - so lovely and tactile.


I would love somewhere, maybe an old chest - full of tiny drawers, to keep all these little things that we have around our house...I find the idea of them being separated from one another or lost amongst the other toys so upsetting.

I am achy and tired today - at the weekend Ian & I went dragon boat racing to raise money for charity. Our team went as 1980s popstars...it was a good day and the racing was exhilarating with the drumming and the chanted counts of our strokes, but gosh it was freezing and wet!












Unable to think of someone more specific, I went as an 80s backing singer...this involved pink legwarmers, some leggings and a short denim skirt as well as the electric blue eyeshadow, streaks of blusher and back-combed hair that is visible in my photo. Ian went as Slash from Guns 'n Roses. We were very soggy for most of the day after the first race...!

Friday, 14 September 2007

Squeals of sewing delight!!!

Today I have very, very dark circles beneath my eyes, but much sewing satisfaction, for I have ventured into the world of bag making and found it to be good! It started with an autumnal crispness in the air and then the sighting of some brown suiting material - a combination which made the need for a new bag to celebrate the new season quite irresistible. I have been admiring Amy Butler's Frenchy Bag for some time (along with all her other bags), but due to my impatience, and my desire to possess the said bag NOW, I felt that I couldn't possibly wait for a pattern to arrive and so set about attempting to create something similar...it lacks the lovely little tucks that her bag has, and I think that I may have made mine quite a bit smaller, but overall I'm happy with the shape of it.

I had bought the velvet ribbon intending to sew it straight on flat, but just before I sat down to sew, I visited U-handbag to see whether there were any tips (and gosh, what an incredible amount there are!) and stumbled across a tutorial on piping...and it then seemed like making the velvet ribbon into some piping was the only way to go - which was relatively easy, but what an utter nightmare it was to put in - particularly as the ribbon wasn't very deep so there wasn't much seam allowance on the finished piping (Lisa had warned against this predicament in the tutorial, but for some reason I'd foolishly chosen to overlook that bit after deciding that no other ribbon was going to be quite the right colour). However, once I'd actually done it I could barely contain my excitement (which involved shaking Ian awake at 11.30pm to share the joy...he was so happy, well, sort of). After I'd finally managed to turn the bag handles the right way out after sewing them up (am I missing a trick or should it really take nearly half an hour to turn a long sewn tube the right way out?) and put the piping in I was then able to put in my lining which I'd ironed a really light weight interfacing onto.

So here's me and Dinosaur-Boy this morning with my new bag....unfortunately I had to edit my entire head out of the picture, as although Zebra-Girl is a super photographer, due to her being shorter than me, most pictures result in a most unflattering double-chin effect that I don't wish to share with others (I MUST remember to squat for all photos to prevent this kind of trauma from reoccurring! Just thinking about it makes me want to do facial exercises...)

Earlier in the week I saw rows of bags all lined up on someone's blog that they were making for a fair (so sorry, I can't remember whose it was, which is a shame as they looked so lovely!).....which were not only beautiful, but also completely impressive in terms of quantity....after my own bag-making experience I am mystified as to how many hours it takes the experienced bag maker to make a bag - because it took me hours and hours and hours!!!!

Monday, 10 September 2007

I failed to find my inner Matisse....

So here are some pictures of the fairground carousel that I've been talking about for so long - still unframed, but finally finished. It's odd as there is normally a gap between what I had in my head for something and what eventually materialises...but with this there wasn't a small gap, more of a gaping crevasse! By the time I'd decided that I didn't want to applique it, which had been my initial thought, I was envisaging something resembling a Matisse line drawing of a carousel (oh the delusions of grandeur!) created entirely with gold thread - perhaps 10 or 11 graceful lines that would suggest at the atmosphere of the fairground, the magicalness of the horses, and the blur of them as they went by....hmmmmm.....and then I found that actually my inner Matisse wasn't just refusing to step up to the mark and translate what was in my head onto the canvas, but that it just completely wasn't there at all!

I find this Matisse line drawing fascinating - in just three simple lines you can see that she is fixing her hair, and in not many more there is enough suggested to allow you to imagine so much about this girl; where she might be going, what her dress is like. The angle of her head, her features - they are all so perfect and so expressive....anyway, perhaps I should stop there...but hopefully you can see the disparity in the style I was going for and what I ended up with and that's this: there is no subtle suggestion of a horse...there is just a bloody great horse! But anyway, I'm now trying to forget what I wanted it to be, and will focus on what it is, and when I do that I'm not too displeased with it.

On the right is a picture of the things I was using as horsey inspiration (and even used for a bit of horsey tracing from the far right picture). I love all of these pictures and so it's ended up a combination of the three of them.

I haven't done a huge amount of embroidery in the past - and when I have it's tended to be much more chunky - so I quite enjoyed the challenge of doing something finer and even learnt a few new stitches.

I'd bought '100 Embroidery Stitches' produced by Anchor, a while ago - it is more of a pamphlet, with black & white diagrams of how each stitch might be executed, than a book...and it's probably a fantastic reference for anyone who follows instructions with more ability than me, but I think I would have been better with something that had more illustrative pictures and broke the stitches down into more steps (any suggestions of good books would be appreciated!). I would have loved my horse to have a French Knot for an eyeball...but alas, that was not to be...

Anyway, I'm planning to find an old goldy-coloured frame in a charity shop to put it in and then it will be done!

This post will be the last of my equestrian mutterings, I promise.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Shelling peas and other things...

Yesterday Grandmama visited, bringing with her all manner of vegetable delights! For Zebra-Girl, she brought some corn on the cob (one of her favourites) and also some peas for the children to shell.

They sat out in the garden after school and spent nearly half an hour completely absorbed in the task, carefully running their nails along the edges and digging their fingers in to try and split open the pod, with Dinosaur-Boy eating nearly as many as he shelled.

Dinosaur-Boy enjoyed swirling the peas around in the colander and listening to the noise they made and looking at their reflection on the metal.

When I went to cook the corn on the cobs we noticed that we seemed to have gained a flower!

While I cooked, Grandmama sat out in the garden and read them one of my own favourite childhood stories about two naughty penguins, Pen & Gwen, who are ordered to shell peas by their mother, and inevitably get up to all sorts of mischief instead and end up taking a motorbike for a 'joyride'...all told in rhyming verse, with beautiful illustrations. It's an old Ladybird book that's now out of print, but definitely worth picking up if you happen to see it in a charity shop, inappropriately called, for our time of reading at least, 'The first day of the holidays'

Oohhh! And how lovely, I have just had a knock at the door and found a friend on the doorstep delivering these flowers to thank me for a favour that was far too small to warrant these beautiful flowers...but how wonderful all the same! What a gorgeous bag too!!!! Horay!

I am ploughing on with my fairground carousel...it is one of those projects that I've got half way through and am wondering what actually possessed me to want to do it...but I am being encouraged to persevere by Zebra-Girl, who says she loves it (but then she too has an obsession with carousels)....

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

1950's housewife?....

Very sweetly - and unprompted by me - for the last year or so whenever we are having anything with a tomato-based sauce at teatime, Zebra-Girl has got into the habit of whipping her clothes off and coming to the table in just her underwear, knowing how much I dislike spending hours trying to remove tomato from clothes. No amount of offering her plastic tabards could persuade her to keep them on as she is apparently 'too grown-up' for tabards now (said in a particularly teenagerish way, while glancing at Dinosaur-Boy who sits happily in his Maisy Mouse tabard unaware of the put-down).


But last week I read that you can make a very 'mature' style of apron for a child from a tea-towel, and by chance I happened to have two lovely tea towels that I'd bought recently in the Laura Ashley sale sitting in my fabric stash just waiting to be transformed. So last night I ran one up - and had lots of fun choosing the colours and fabrics for the applique fairy cake, pocket and ties. It is a good fit and she happily ate her tea in it tonight with full school uniform on beneath it and not a knicker or bare tummy in sight! Horay!

Zebra-Girl did her doll's ironing while wearing it and I think there's definitely a disturbing air of '1950s housewife' about her.

I intend to make one for Dinosaur-Boy later this week too, just in case he is silently brooding over Zebra-Girl's comment that implied he is perhaps looking rather babyish in his Maisy outfit. In terms of size, his will need quite a bit of adjustment as I popped Zebra-Girl's one on to him and it comes down to his ankles - so I will be shortening both the length and the neck. But for an average 5/6 year old - Zebra-Girl is 45 inches tall (Sorry, I haven't weaned myself onto metric yet) - a standard size tea towel seems to do the job - 19.5 inches x 25 inches.

Below is the pattern that I did for it...as you can see, I am going 'pro' with my pattern designing and have used my best felt tips for the purpose! Awful, I know, but you get a vague idea of size.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Binding fun....

Just a quick add-on to my earlier post (which is dated with yesterday's date, but was only actually posted this morning, due to the fact that there were so many interruptions from the small people that it took nearly 24 hours to finish it!).

Jo from French Knots has asked if I could expand a bit on Autum's bias binding advice (and I realise in retrospect that it was rather selfish to tempt you with a partial solution and then only repeat a smidgen of her advice, rather than sharing it around and potentially decreasing the world's binding problems).

Autum's advice was for the double fold binding; the kind where both edges are folded in to the centre.. She has come up with a really clever trick that will hopefully save lots of time (and tears!) using heat bond on the back side of the binding that will be on the underside of your garment/bag (but don't try applying the heat bond to both sides as apparently that can end in tears). In the UK the fusible tape is called 'Wunder Web'. If you start off by opening the binding out and stitching it onto the right side of what you're working on (raw edge to raw edge, stitching on or next to the fold), then use the heat bond to hold the under side in place meaning that you don't have to pin it or risk it slipping while you're machining. Once that's done you can then 'stitch in the ditch' (what a fantastic expression) and you're done!

The other thing that I read in a book today that seemed like it may help, is that you shouldn't fold it exactly in half, but should have one side deeper than the other (the underside) meaning that you will definitely catch it when you're stitching across the top.

Autum - I hope you don't mind me doing this and that I haven't paraphrased it too badly and missed out essential bits...perhaps there is a call for you to do a tutorial on this if you get the time?

As you can see above, today resulted in a shopping spree of wider width bias binding...strangely it was all encouraged and financed by my husband who urged me to go on a mini-spree as we walked past the sewing shop on the way to a cafe for lunch! Horay! I must remember to do the same for him when we next pass a shop selling guitars...although, perhaps not. He was sitting waiting for me to finish choosing fat quarters the other day and commented on how lucky I am to have a hobby where I could pick up things that give me so much pleasure for £2.50 each when buying a guitar is a thrice a decade event for him.

Oh, and one other thing - thanks for letting me know that you could only post on my site if you were registered with Google - I've now changed that.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Back to school...

Zebra-Girl started back at school this morning...not in the lovely little Reception area this year, but round at the other side of the building with all the older children. She looked very tiny again, but thankfully seemed full of smiles as she stood in line waiting to go in - not a wobbly bottom lip in sight (apart from mine!).


The summer has just sped by and I can't believe it's September already. Back in July, Zebra-Girl and I had made a dress and bag for her bear on the sewing machine, which she'd really loved doing, but I'd had this nagging feeling that I'd done things in the wrong order - I love using my sewing machine, but I think that's partly because I have an appreciation of how quickly and neatly it can do what I would otherwise be doing by hand, but I don't think that it's a substitute for being able to sew by hand (and also sewing by hand is sometimes so very relaxing.... doing some blanket stitch after a long run of machining can be quite wonderful!). So yesterday, I finally made the time to sit down and teach her to hand sew. I taught her back-stitch as this is what I remember finding easiest when I first learnt to sew.

We made a pillow for bear (yes, he is the sole recipient of all the results of her ventures into the world of sewing!)....learning started off slowly and I would have sat on my hands to stop them jiggling about with the act of concealed impatience, if I'd hadn't needed them to help her hold the material taut. However, by the second line of stitching, she'd got it - wonky and irregular, but definitely understanding what needed to be done! Horay - I hadn't expected it to be quite that simple. We had sat on my bed together doing her sewing, with our heads close together both looking at her work and she suddenly laughed and said 'It's like sharing a secret sitting like this'. Sometimes she says the most perfectly lovely things.

By lunchtime she was feeling flumpy about what to eat and looked tired, so as a last-day-of-the-holidays treat I let her have her sandwiches in the shape of butterflies, cut with these wonderful pink plastic cutters. (I hate doing this as it wastes so much bread, but they do look much prettier!)

Ian had the day off work, so in the afternoon we took both children swimming....Zebra-Girl wore her armbands and gradually let me deflate them and then finally took them off altogether. By the time our skin was as wrinkly as a packet of prunes (and Dinosaur-Boy had become bored of playing Sharks), she was able to swim about two metres of backstroke (well a sort of upturned doggy paddle) with no armbands on with an absolutely huge grin on her face - a really big achievement for her as physical things have never come easily to her.

Like my own mother did with my me and my sister, it always feels important that the last day of the holidays is a busy one, spent doing special things; as much to distract me from my own feelings of sadness about her going back to school, as Zebra-Girl's.

Oh, and also I have two thank you's to say: the first to Jody from Because I'm me who offered me the most beautiful pirate quilt as the winner of a hugely generous giveaway on her site (as I'm in the UK the postage would have been astronomical, so it seemed fairer for it to go to someone in the US - hope the recipient finds it deliciously snugly - it is gorgeous!).

My second thank you is to Creative Little Daisy's Autum, who after hearing about the nightmare I had attaching binding to my pencil roll holder, was incredibly kind and emailed me with very detailed instructions as to an easier way to attach bias binding (you heat bond the underside and it stops it from escaping!), as well as alerting me to something called a 'walking foot' pictured here which looks like it may make everything much simpler...and straighter...for this fantastic attachment keeps your stitching from becoming wonky! Thank you!!!