Friday, 22 January 2016

Delayed decor

The pictures were taken on my camera so the quality isn't great but here's my dresser.  I love the new grey although it looks blue here :s
And this is just a little collection of some of the other bits of décor in my hall and dining area.  The wooden nativity scene was bought in Krakow 9 years ago now.  I like its rustic charm and it takes pride of place in the hall to be seen by all who come into our home during the Christmas season.  Similarly, there is another nativity scene in the dining and living room and I make a tradition out of retelling the story of Jesus' birth while we set up the nativity.  The porcelain figures in the image here were given to us by my uncle and once had a wooden stable to accompany them.  I think they must be nearly 30 years old and still very pretty despite the odd broken hand.
On the right are images of some handmade bits that I made several years ago but managed to make an appearance this year in our hall.  The children made a wreath each using some sparkly foam stickers, felt sheets, and cardboard wreathes all from Baker Ross.  They looked really effective and appealed to all 3 kids (and my niece made one too).  The hanging garland on the right is probably one of my favourite quick makes- its a bit fiddly to start with but pretty in the end.  I'm hoping to make some more less Christmassy ones so will do a full tutorial post when I do.

Right, it's the middle of January so enough talk of Christmas until next November (or October!!)

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Farewell 2015, Hello New Year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Last year was quite big for me in terms of life change and I think 2016 will be too :D
My first focus is going to be health; better eating (with the help of the hairy bikers recipe book so hopefully a few recipe posts) more exercise classes and better sleeping habits.
Christmas this year was lovely although I admit I tried to cram a lot in with the acute awareness that since I'm now working full time, I have less time with the children so I had to make this year extra special. I'll post pictures soon of our 2 weeks including shots of the decorated but I wasn't as focused on the house decor this year with work in the run up and tragic family news 10 days before the big day. All that aside, it has been a time of good memories.

As usual, post Christmas I hit the sales :D
Christmas cards, glass baubles, garlands and other decorations were purchased and will be a feature next year.
The cards were from Hanbury Hall which is a National Trust site about 40minutes away from us.  1.5 miles up the road from Hanbury Hall is Jinney Ring Craft centre which houses the workshops of 12 crafters and their small shops of beautiful makes.  I bought the baubles in the gift shop there and already have thoughts on doing my dining room and dresser differently next year with these as a central theme.

The weather was awful when we went to Hanbury Hall and Jinney Ring and so we didn't stay long.  On the way home my hsband suggested we go to a Garden centre and it was here that I picked up these Gisela Graham decorations.  They were all quite folky and up my street but I went for a modest 7 (but may have to look online for more!)  Again these have given me some inspiration for next year as I will focus on larger decorations and maybe even no baubles- we shall see.
I saw this paper garland with gold ric rac and loved it immediately.  Unlike the other items I bought, I have no idea where it will go but I have all year to decide.
My husband chose the wooden sign but I like it too and is a bit different from the bunting and fabric hangings so a welcome addition.  The book and stationary are from paperchase and to be honest, I just liked them.
Today we went to another very large garden centre because they had a skating rink and we have been promising the girls we would take them since October.  There was a hobby craft there so I had a happy hour wandering the isles and could have bought lots but settled on these card letters and bird with the intention of decoupaging them.  I also bought some wooden items a few months back with the hope of doing a little decopatch but hadn't seen the paper or glue at a reasonable price.

The paper still wasn't cheap but it was oh so beautiful and I have read a few blogs that say I can water down PVA and use it although it has a longer drying time.  I will keep you updated of my progress.
The final purchase I want to share is some scrapbook paper I got at TK Max last week and then some free paper that came with a magazine my hubby bought as a stocking filler.  I am hoping to make lots of bird houses with these to create a unique display in the hall.  If my husband is totally against it being in the hall, then I may do it in my office but do it I shall and soooon :) 

Did I mention that another aim for this year is that it will be more craftilicious!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Sentimental scrapbooks

I have posted before about how I like to keep scrapbooks of Christmas makes and images from the girls but I also like to do them for our holidays.  I'm not sure if it is due to being a teacher for so many years that there is something about the holidays I absolutely relish as an opportunity to cram as much family time as I can.  I posted throughout the summer of our family days out but I still like to collect mementos from our days and stick them down.  When I look on pinterest at the beautiful art that have been created by proper scrapbookers, I know this doesn't qualify in that category, but it really is just about keeping a record of what we have done as a family.  The girls love to look through them and know that their makes were treasured and so, here are some pictures of our recent scrap books.  The White one is from last Easter 2014, the pink is out family holiday earlier this year to Norfolk, and the green is our summer this year 2015.  I prefer the coloured paper as a background and like them to be more than just photos but I won't write any more but let the pictures do the talking.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Advent Calendars

I think the first sewn advent calendar I ever saw was a small sewing shop in Lady Hayes antique centre where there was an assembled demonstration piece on display.  You could buy the kit for £18 but I just wanted it already finished.  The idea stayed with me but on looking for one, they were quite expensive so I never bought one or made one.  I started a few but dimensions were wrong and I gave up part way through.  Then earlier in the year I decided I would make them for my sisters and sister in law.  I have few assembly pieces of the ones I made for my sisters but I spent some time researching on pinterest for ideas around little stockings.  I had a die of a stocking which made cutting out 48 stockings easy.  Sewing them all on however was quite time consuming!

The shape of the stocking was perfect for Candy Cane goodies and so 2 packs later, each stocking contained a treat. 

 For the numbers, I bought little pegs and wrote on those and then clipped them onto the stockings.
At the end of November, we went to my sister in laws just in time to give them out but one sister couldn't make it so hers was posted instead which was why I delayed in writing this post initially.

For my sister in law, I went with a different design which was based around a Father Christmas panel.  Several years ago I had made my niece and nephew Christmas stockings using these panels and so thought it would be nice to co-ordinate the two gifts.  I started by sitting out my squares and adding numbers to them (over several nights).

I then arranged them randomly around the main panel which was backed on a large burgundy napkin. I sewed about the sides and bottom but left the top open so they were mini pockets. The squares were the perfect size for chocolate coins and I finished it all off by framing Santa with some red ric rac

  Shortly after finishing my calendars, my lovely co- blogger Samantha from Betsy Makes also posted about an advent calendar she had made.  I'm so glad I gifted mine before seeing hers as mine pale into insignificance to hers and I may just have hidden them in embarrassment!! I love her use of fabric and the finish is much better but joking aside, I recognise this 'comparison' is all part of the process of trying new things and getting better on each attempt. I am encouraged and inspired by better crafters and hope to continue admiring others work long after my own work is more refined.  I know my family really appreciate the time and thought that has gone into their gifts which I hope will make an appearance each Christmas over the years to come despite wonky cutting and sewing etc.  I hope to make our family one for next year and like the idea of putting a decoration in each that the children can hang on an accompanying tree each day- perhaps made out of felt and I know I will now have the incentive to be more patient and particular so that I can have an end product like Samantha's and be proud to have it on display.  Don't get me wrong, I am pleased with my efforts (and I would still have given them even if I had seen Sam's) but I am also striving to improve :)

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Christmas crafty purchases

 I mentioned in my previous post that I'd bought a felt Angel at the Christmas fayre and thoughtful show you a close up since she was so lovely. I've also included a picture of her back as this is what sold her to my daughter's- they called her the 'rainbow fairy'. You can also appreciate the simple structure that made her so appealing.

I also took the children to the Worcester Vitorian market on Friday after school. We arrived a little after 4 and soon it was dark so the lights shone all the brighter and it became more magical to see the vendors in top hats, waistcoats and tails with ladies decked in floor length gowns, matching shoes, hats and gloves. So dark that my poor phone battery didn't cope too well!

This was the only shot that worked which doesn't't exactly demonstrate the colours of Christmas lights reflecting off the glistening wet streets, but it does show 2 little happy faces!
The smell of the food was enticing and we shared some chips with a festive sausage from the German stall. Theyalsosampled several German gingerbread biscuits but resisted the temptation to by focused.on decorations. There was so much on offer and individual crafters and sellers which is a big contrast to the other big city markets where every 5 stalls it's the same things. We bought 5 felt decorations for £10 so not exactly cheap but it's one for each member of the family; I chose the Dala horse, the robin for daddy as he is a birdwatcher, Fionaa liked the Rudolph, Lydia the candy cane and Michael wanted baby Jesus (his was put to a vote actually and it was unanimous!)
This little fellow was being sold in the guild hall which often hosts craft features and I have bought from this lady before as I love the character she knits into these creations. I couldn't resist him and he's a present for my nephew who was 12 weeks prem back in May and is a little miracle who make  me want to lavish him with things in thanks for his little life. I will however show love through a quilt for him which is underway and I hope to share soon.

I have made some Christmas gifts that I'm dying to share but have to wait until one is received before I ruin the surprise with pictures. It should be delivered before the weekend so I will share then and perhaps house festive decorations may also have commenced and be on evidence...

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Dresser and craft fayre

A while ago I posted about decorating my dining room and whilst I had every intention of getting it all done at once, sadly it has been slower progress and in stages.  I wallpapered about 2months ago and began painting my dresser but have only just got round to taking pictures!
It was my first attempt at wallpapering and overall I'm quite pleased.  After painting the dresser in the Annie Sloan chalk paint, I then used the wilko gloss to highlight the edges.  I'll be rearranging the dresser in a few weeks for Christmas but thought I'd show it here now in it's normal state.

On Saturday I was brave/ daft enough to visit the Malvern gift and craft fayre again.  It will be on again in 2 weeks but we are visiting family for an early Christmas gathering and so will miss the parade and turning on of the lights so I thought I'd make the effort.  I bought a few things out of sympathy for the poor stall owners- who am I kidding! I loved so much that I could have bought on every stall.
I bought a felt angel from the middle stall pictured here and I bought my sister a long overdue present from a stall not pictured here.  I did discover though that she is the sister of a friend so it felt good to be supporting her on such a wet day.  I am also hoping to commission miamia Jewels to do a family tree with 2 big birdies and 3 wee ones for my husband for Christmas. 

I haven't got much further on my Christmas present making due to a series of poorly children and now husband but hopefully this weekend I will get one finished and another part way done.  The fayre has made me feel more excited for Christmas but also pressured to get the place tidy before we're overrun with Christmas presents, tinsels and decorations.  It's the first time in 3 years I'm managing Christmas prep along with working a full time job so I may let one or two things slide a little- but it wont be the food!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Kitch and Kaboodle

During the half term I took the children to our local Country Park which is just beautiful at this time of year.  I had promised to do something else but when we couldn't get transport there, I thought I would take them here as a consolation.  There is often a craft activity in their 'sewing room' which is off the café and on this day Kitch and Kabbodle were there.  I'd not seen them before and looked in to see what the craft was.  I'll be totally honest and say I saw masks and glitter and thought how is that £2.50's worth so got a bit closer and realised that the masks were blank and black to begin with but that patterns could be created from scratching off the matt black paint. 

Lydia went with her own design while Fiona copied the example piece. 
  I was transported back to childhood and realised immediately the potential fun the children would get from it.  The girls chose cats and Michael ran off the play in the wooden play café.  He soon returned and wanted to do a mask of his own which inevitably, I ended up doing! 


That is until he saw glitter and sparkly things to stick on and then I wasn't allowed to touch it again.

Fiona went for the less is more look and used a minimal amount of glitter whereas Lydia decided to be generous with her decoration.

 I love the individuality that these masks allow and that they appeal to all ages (including adults!) and they kept the kids occupied for close to an hour.  I would definitely do them again and totally retract that the price was steep as I actually think it is priced perfectly.  Thankyou Kitch and Kaboodle :D