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Five

2014 November 23
by Kelly

Dear Piran,

I am sorry that it has been a while since I wrote you a letter. As you would say, Naughty Mummy.

Looking back at all the other letters to you it has actually been a really long time since I wrote you a proper letter. I think that when I come to put fingers to keys there seems so much to capture that I think I will not do it justice and so I stop. Not this time though, I am determined to get something written down. For me as much as for you.

I sat and watched you yesterday afternoon. You were sitting on the sofa, legs raised. Watching Lego Chima on a tablet balanced on your knees. You were eating an apple that I had peeled and cut up (because you are lacking in teeth at the moment). You then ate a second apple. You looked so old all of a sudden. Not me old, but growing up too fast old. I cannot believe you are only five years old. You are all gangly limbs and pointy elbows and knees. You are bruises and dirt. You have lost two front bottom teeth. That shocked me, it seemed far too soon, but sure enough the new ones are coming through already. All trace of the baby and toddler have gone. I look at baby pictures of you and I hardly recognise you.

You are a kind and generous child. You love your sister fiercely. Every day you tell her you are going to marry her, even though as I put you to bed at night you tell me sadly that you know you aren’t really allowed to marry her. If we talk about girls at school you get really cross and shout at us. If I say or do something that you don’t like you hiss at me with your teeth bared like a cat. It is frightening and amazing all at once. You are very aware at the moment of how people see you and get very unhappy if we laugh at you when you don’t think something is funny. (although walking into the wheelie bin WAS funny, sorry). You like dressing up, usually as a Power Ranger or Spiderman.

Piran and Kate

You love: playing football at break time, football cards (I do not love these at all), playing football in the house with a bouncy flashy ball, being ‘Goaler’, your ‘Goaler’ gloves, Power Rangers, Lego Chima, Lego Star Wars, Hot Wheels cars, writing and drawing, making and wrapping little presents for us, sending letters to people, playing with your sister, Castles and Knights (your topic at school this term), running and climbing, your Dad. You are apparently a Chelsea supporter, much to your Dad’s disgust. Grandad Derek is happy though.

Piran at Bodiam

Your Dad has been away again a lot this year and you miss him terribly. You are however very brave about it all and love ‘being Daddy’ when he is away. You look after me so well, and will always give me a hug when I am missing your Dad.

We have spent a lot of time and energy working on getting you to sleep in your own bed by yourself and going to bed nicely in the evenings. We still have some challenges with this but I am so proud of you and how much you have tried to do as we ask. You have always wanted company at night time and would sleep with us every night if you could but we are all much happier and better people after a good nights sleep. You can be stubborn and willful but in life that is no bad thing, I just wish sometimes that you wouldn’t answer me back so much, it makes my blood boil. We all shout a little too much at times, and so you helped me pick a special word that any of us can say when we are shouting and if we hear it we have to stop immediately, hug, and then have a discussion in our normal voice. I think it has made life around these parts a little better. I wonder if you will remember that word if you ever read this letter.

School has had an incredible effect on your shyness and confidence levels. The boy that used to refuse to talk to anyone when I was there is now polite and chatty and engaging. It is a joy to see it. You always get lovely reports from your teachers about how nice you are to your friends and all your teachers and I am so very proud of the little boy you have become (you would say big boy but you are still my little boy for a bit longer I promise).

Piran September 2015

I love you more than you can ever imagine.

Mum x

Make it: Advent Bunting Tutorial

2014 November 9

It feels like a very long time since I shared a tutorial with you. I actually made this and took all the images last year but it was too late for advent. At last I can finally share it with you.

advent bunting tutorial

You will need:

Fabric for pocket (24)  3.5″ wide x 6″ tall

Fabric for flag fronts (24) 3.5″ wide x 5″ tall

Muslin or fabric for flag backing (24) 3.5″ x 5″

Bias binding (I used 1″ – 2.5m)

Iron on numbers 1 – 24

Notes:

Quarter inch seams unless otherwise stated

I used muslin for the back of the flags as mine is designed to hang against a wall. You might want to pick something different if you would like the back of the flags on show.

My iron on numbers came as a set from eBay.

Instructions:

* Fold the pocket pieces in half along the long side and press. It will now measure 3.5″ x 3″.

* To make each flag lay the large front piece right sides up and place the pocket on top right sides up with the raw edges along the bottom. Ensure any directional material is the right way up.

advent bunting tutorial 1

* Align the bottom raw edges and then place the backing on top, right sides down. Pin together.

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* Sew down one side, along the bottom and back up the other side using a quarter inch seam. Pivot on the corners and leave the top edge completely open.

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* Trim the corners to reduce bulk.

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* Turn right sides out, making sure the pocket sits on the front. Use a chopstick or similar to push the corners out. Press.

* Add your numbers according to the instructions. Mine just simply ironed on. You could also use stamps to make the numbers.

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* Take the bias binding and iron in half. Set your machine to a zigzag stitch and sew 10cm along the folded bias before adding the first pocket. Ensure all raw edges are enclosed before sewing along the bias securing the pocket.

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* You can space your pockets however you like. I decided to have them close together so the finished bunting wasn’t too long but you could spread them out and have two sets of bunting – 1 to 12 and 13 to 24 if you preferred.

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* When all the pockets have been added continue to sew for a further 10cm so you have something to hang your bunting with.

 

I really love our home made advent calendars. We have the more traditional rectangular ones – I wrote a tutorial for that style previously:

Christmas-Advent-Calendar-Tutorial

I just love thinking of Christmassy things to do, and writing little notes to pop in each one. This year I have bought a Playmobil advent calendar which I will add odd bits to the pockets as we go through December. If they are lucky they might even get the odd chocolate coin.

If you like this Advent Bunting but don’t want to make it yourself I have this one for sale in my Etsy shop ***SOLD*** (along with lots of other Christmas goodies).

 

I am linking this post up with Chris’ Festive Friday which is back this week. Happy days.

Review: Dyson DC59

2014 October 30
tags:
by Kelly
dyson dc59

Even Knights need to help with the cleaning sometimes.

First impressions: I was very excited when I received a handheld Dyson. I had seen one on another blog and had wanted one ever since. First impressions were great – it is sleek and shiny and a great purple colour. It was easy to get started – worked straight out of the box.

We liked: I love how quickly I can use this on our laminate floor. We used to brush the floor and then use a handheld hover to pick up the pile of dust but it is much quicker to just use the Dyson. It has all the attachments that I need. Brilliant for a quick clear up under the table after dinner, I really wish that I had this when the kids were smaller. It fixed quickly and easily to the wall (although Mr C did put the holder on the wall upside down to start with!) and I love how it just starts charging as soon as it is back in the holder. The fact it is cordless makes it really quick to whizz around, cleaning up spillages easily when needed.

We didn’t like: When you are holding the hoover and it is on the fan blows the air out the back which is directly at you. Slightly unpleasant when it is near your face and as we discovered at a friends house not great when you clear up anything smelly like spices. It is noisy and that makes my children freak out but all hoovers are noisy and all loud noises freak them out.

Overall: The price tag on the Dyson DC59 is high – RRP is around £350. The good news however is that John Lewis have £49 off the price at the moment making it £299.95. I do think that we could have this as our only hoover but I am not sure that we could do the whole house in one go but that doesn’t happen often anyway! The cordless aspect more than makes up for it meaning that I can do the car and other places that need cleaning where there might not be a power socket.

The review that convinced  me I wanted one of these handheld Dysons included a fantastic film which Kat from Housewife Confidential has kindly allowed me to include in this post. Really the proof is in the cleaning!

Disclosure: We were sent a Dyson DC59 free of charge for the purpose of this review.

Bringing Children’s Books to Life: Paper Dolls

2014 October 28

Way back in June (cough) Kate at Little Lewes joined in with a blog challenge started by Hattie at Free our Kids to create an activity from the pages of a favourite children’s book. I loved Kate’s Inspired by Matisse post. I want the ‘Henri’s Scissors’ for myself.

Ohh, brilliant I thought, that is right up my street. And it will be a perfect thing to do in the summer holidays with the children.

Anyway, time passed and the school holidays flew by and by the time I remembered it was too late. Then, as we settled into our routine I found that the two days I have at home with Kate each week are perfect for doing things like this. And so it popped into my mind. Even more serendipitous was the fact that Kate had pulled out Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb again recently and had been asking for me to make her some dolls.

I love everything about this book (spoiler: except the boy with the scissors). I love the idea of generations of mothers doing the same thing with their daughters (although clearly paper dolls are not a girl only activity. Piran loves making them too). I am sure that my mother made paper dolls with me, I loved making them as a child.

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I drew and cut out the dolls. Kate decided she wanted three boys and three girls. She was totally amazed at the way they held hands when we opened them up.

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Next she wanted to colour them in. She drew in their faces and I gave hair where instructed. I let her make all the decisions, I just did as I was told.

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Coloring in was hard for her so I thought the water colour paints would be great for this. Kate painted tops and bottoms for all of her people, chatting away about each one as she did it. The paints looked really great, we just had to be a bit careful when they were wet as the paper was thin and quite fragile.

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In the book the little girl gives all her dolls names so we had to as well. They are (from L:R) John, Piran, Michael, Lin, Ann and Kate.

This is a ,lovely book which is all about imagination and adventures and memories. You can’t go wrong with Julia Donaldson. I haven’t added a link to the book but I do encourage you to find a local children’s bookstore and go and buy one.

This was a really lovely activity to do. I think that Emily at Mummylimited should have a go next – I know she is a very busy lady with her hands full but bearing in mind it took me 4 months to do this I am sure she can think of something.

 

Limbo

2014 October 26
by Kelly

I knew that I wouldn’t get time to blog when it was the summer holidays but I didn’t realise that doing so would make it so hard to get back into the swing of things. All of the sudden it is another school holiday and free time is a distant dream again.

Right now I am in the limbo where you don’t know which clocks have changed and which haven’t. I actually have no idea what time it is right now. The kids are happily watching the TV though and I have hidden away in our new computer corner to hopefully tap out an actual post for my blog about ME. I have a head cold this weekend and I am feeling really run down. Happily though Mr C is home and his planned week away with work has become a week working in the UK which is a lovely surprise. The thought of a solo half term was a very depressing one.

This strange feeling caused by the changing of the clocks is very familiar actually. It is almost exactly how I have been feeling for the past six weeks or so. On the 10th September I took my last antidepressant. Since then I have been tablet free. After three whole years of taking them it is a strange feeling. I spend my time thinking about my reactions to things, trying to work out if my feelings are okay or am I headed face first back down that spiral again. It is hard to explain how that feels. Every time I lose my temper and shout at the children I worry that I have no patience any more because I have stopped taking them. It is true that I used to be the calmest person in the house and now perhaps I am not. I am not sure however that is a bad thing, children need to learn that we all have extremes of feeling and that these need to be dealt with.

It is clear when I stop to write about it though that I am really doing okay. I organised and ran a really successful Nearly New Sale for the village toddler group. I didn’t freak out or panic at all. I was nervous and best left alone for the 24 hours before the sale but that was normal nerves. I did show up, do everything that needed to be done, stand up for myself where needed, get up in front of everyone and talk to a big group of people. This IS a big thing for me and really helps me see how far I have come. I am volunteering and getting involved more in our life in this village. I have joined two committees and I really like feeling part of something.

But the old demons remain. Mostly it shows itself in paranoia. I spend a lot of time worrying that people don’t want to be my friend they are just doing so to be polite. I withdraw a bit – I am afraid to be the one to initiate plans in case I am forcing people to do things with me. I withdraw from social media a bit. The thing with that is, if you aren’t there starting conversations then it is easy to feel that no one talks to you. Which is just plain silly and I know that this is all in my head but I struggle anyway. I tried to talk to my mum about this when I saw her in September and she laughed and told me very firmly that I clearly have a lot of friends. And she is right, somehow I just have to turn off or drown out that voice in my head that says different.

I still very clearly have good days and bad days. I have had a couple of disappointments recently and these things really knock me for six and leave me feeling mixed up and angry for days even weeks. Isn’t it sad how the actions of one person can completely ruin what was one of the proudest moments of my recent life. I have to let it go, but it is hard. More recently thanks to a communication issue my beautiful Christmas stockings are featured in Ideal Home’s Guide to Christmas this year but my details are not in the magazine. I don’t have a copy of the magazine yet but I have seen the picture and they look amazing. I just have to focus on them being in there being a wonderful achievement and let go of the lost marketing opportunity.

Just like these disappointments I need to put the last few years, and my mental state during that time behind me and let go. I need to stop comparing every up and down. If I am constantly looking for signs of being depressed then of course I will find them. I need to wipe my slate clean, take a bad day as a one off, and really notice the good days. If I take the time to do that I won’t have time for any of these silly thoughts to embed themselves and cause trouble. Life is good. We are happy and healthy. We have two wonderful children. We have a lovely house. I am lucky that I don’t have to work, I can be here when I am needed. I have the luxury of free time to be creative. Life is great.

lifeisgood

 

A place of my own

2014 October 15

This post is bought to you in association with Santander. For more information on this type of post please see my Disclosure for Readers page.

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It is that time of year again where I dust off my Etsy page, have a little play around and think about reviving my little old business – Petit Fromage. I love to sew, I am happy to do it every day but I always forget how much work everything else that is included is. making something, photographing it, editing the pictures, writing a listing. Pricing things up. That is all before I even start to market everything.

Until now all of this has been completely organic. But now I have my very own studio and suddenly it all seems a bit more real. The truth is that I had outgrown our front room and one more fabric delivery would have just made the house go pop. It was impossible to find anything, and when I got in the swing of things I would have a couple hours to sew and have to end up putting it all back away again. It was getting too stressful and then I started to think that until we could find a solution or a bigger place I should put it all away in storage. I was actually considering stopping sewing.

Then one day I had the perfect idea. A real light bulb moment. I should find somewhere else to sew. A quick google and the stars aligned and I found somewhere that we would be able to afford. I went to see it and it was perfect. Within a week I was moving all my stuff in.

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That moment when I got the keys was amazing. So, so exciting and perfectly timed at the start of the school year.

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Moving in

I love it there. I have the opportunity to spend time there three days a week at the moment when I am child free. It is so liberating to just walk in and sew whatever I want. Bag down, radio on, and sew. And then I can leave it all at 2.45 and rush off to collect Piran from school without packing away. I have rigged up a piece of batting hanging from a long dowel and some hooks which is amazing. We had too much furniture in our front room so all of my lovely old reclaimed items have come with me and Mr C is living his Ikea dream.

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After unpacking, ready to sew

I can feel the pressure though. Suddenly I feel the pressure to make something really good, to earn my place as it were. Luckily I am in the position where money wise the studio is more storage solution than business decision. But I want to learn more and do more and eventually make a bit of money from doing what I love. So I am researching when I have the time, thinking about moving from Etsy to Folksy, considering the best way to market, what I really need to do. Will I ever need a loan? It is overwhelming though.

I have given myself until next September to decide what I really want to do. When Kate starts school I will have 5 days a week child free and at that point I will really need to have a plan. Until then I can just enjoy my little haven full of beautiful fabric, radio 4 and blissful alone time. My actual ‘Place of my own’.

Finish Along 2014 – Quarter 4

2014 October 14
by Kelly

I started Quarter 3 with 10 projects on my list and I finished 6 (1 of which I didn’t blog about because I cannot find a picture. I will catch up with that when I do). I am loving having a list to work to and actual goals – it is definitely helping me to focus.

I am rushing to get this list written and linked up by the deadline so I hope I can remember what I want to make!

1) The Just Big Enough Blanket {carried over} {STILL on the list}

This is Mr C’s Christmas present that I STILL haven’t finished. I am just not in a crochet mood at the moment. It is too warm. Looks like this is more likely to be Christmas 2014’s present.

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2) Coco for me

I have the pattern and the fabric. I still just need to get in gear with trying to sew a different type of fabric.

3) Wiksten Tank

I have the pattern and the fabric. I have even made one of of muslin to test the fit. I just need the confidence to do the binding on the armholes and neck. That bit scares me. But I did the armhole binding on the washi so I will give it a go.

4) PJ Bottoms for me

I want to make some out of Tilly Walnes book Love at first stitch. I bought and pre-washed the fabric months ago.

5) Tiles Mini Quilt

I made quite a bit of progress on this last quarter. All sewn together just needs backing, quilting  and binding.

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6) Instagram mini quilt swap quilt.

This is a fun one. An EPP owl I am working on. It is coming along great I just need to make decisions on backing and binding. Plus sew the owl to the background fabric and I need to decide what that is too!

7) Minecraft cushion for nephew

I have sketched out a design I just need to find the right colour fabrics. Will be a Christmas present.

8) Napkins for my mum.

Mum is having Christmas at home this year so for her birthday next month I am making her some Christmas napkins. And maybe some every day ones too but I might give her those at Christmas.

9) Bottle gift bags

A project that I have been working on at my studio. I just have some tweeking to do on these so it should just be a hour or so of work.

10) Giant Star Quilt

I am having a sewing weekend at Kat’s this weekend – and top of the agenda is one of these. I have fabrics picked out from my stash I just need to decide on the background colour.

Made it: Triange City EPP cushion

2014 October 6
by Kelly

This one was a WIP for a whole year. My Triangle City EPP that I started at Fat Quarterly Retreat 2013. If I am honest I struggled a lot with this but it was a real learning curve and it didn’t put me off EPP forever so that’s great.

I basted it and quilted in one big spiral which was fun.

And then I made it onto a cushion and gave it to my sister for her birthday, just over a month after her birthday. Ah well she loved it and that is all that mattered. I am a bit rubbish though – as I flew down to see her I couldn’t even give her the cushion insert to go in it. Which is why I only have a close up picture of the front.

Triangle City EPP cushion

This was one of my projects in my Finish Along 2014 – Q3 list.

Made it: Feathers Mini Quilt

2014 October 6
by Kelly

This was a prize for the giveaway I ran on my bog at the start of the summer. Happily the recipent knew what the summer holidays are like and was happy to wait until September for this. I had great fun making it. I knew the sort of colours that she liked and that she was a fan of Anna Maria Horner fabrics.

feathers mini quilt

I backed it with a hot pink Kona cotton and I used Aurifil 40wt for the quilting for the first time. I really loved the lime green but the purple didn’t look as good to me. I was still pleased with how it turned out. The texture was lovely after quilting.

feathers mini quilt back

This was one of my projects in my Finish Along 2014 – Q3 list.

Made it: Needlebooks

2014 October 2
by Kelly

A last minute decision to go to Fat Quarterly Retreat this year on a day ticket meant a chance to take part in the Sample Swap again this year. I decided to make these needlebooks – a mixture of improv piecing and portholes. Such fun and really simple to make I think I will make some more of these to sell. They were certainly well received and are a great project for using up scraps too.

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This was one of my projects in my Finish Along 2014 – Q3 list.