Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Welsh wonder land

This was the hotel we stayed in and it really was lovely with beautiful furniture and carved wooden features throughout.  Helpful, accommodating staff and tasty breakfast meant it was the perfect base for our anniversary adventure in Wales.  We arrived Friday night and went out for a meal at a local Indian restaurant.  The food was good but it was slow service and after the drive I was ready to sleep!

My husband had done some research and saw that Lake Vyrnwy was highly recommended and as RSPB members, it was free.  It was stunning.  We walked for hours around the lake and I took hundreds (literally over 600) of photographs as it was totally inspiring.

I also wrote several poems over the weekend- all nature related and inspired, and I can honestly say that is more than I have written since English lessons in high school.  I was very relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed our stroll.

After walking all round the lake and seeing the dam for many vantage points, we made our way back to the visitor centre where we had some lunch.

I had a ham and cheese toastie with a proper side salad that was delicious.  It gave us the boost we needed to go and view the waterfall on the other side of the Lake.

I didn't climb all the way to the top but did go half way up and attempted to capture the beauty of the colours in the stone and rushing water over them.  I was also joined by many a sheep and their lambs while hubby sat and watched pied wagtails and willow warblers on a bench below.

We left the lake quite late and had an hours drive back which meant that many of the village restaurants were closed so we had fish and chips instead which were extremely satisfying!  I had a long, much needed bath whilst my husband rang our relatives to see how the children were behaving.

On Sunday we went to an Osprey centre where my camera decided the battery had died so I sat contentedly in the beautiful scenery and wrote  more prose.  We then went to Powys Castle which was breathtaking and an added bonus was that it is a National Trust property so also free for us as members.  I didn't want to leave and really hope we can go back as there was so much more to see such as the Clive museum.  The interior of the castle is fascinating as a peek into it's history from reading about the family members, their interests, their interior design preferences and daily routines.  I was reminded of the magnificent homes I've read about in Victorian literature but this was even more opulent.
After our visit to the house we had some tea and Barabrith (it would be rude not to in Wales surely!) before exploring their amazing grounds which consisted of woodlands, a pond, sculptured beds and terraces.  Within these there are additional quaint buildings, fountains and countless benches to sit and enjoy the view.

I was delighted that my camera decided to work again and allow me some more pictures.  Once again as with the lake, i took many pictures of the castle from several vantage points but this was one of my favourites.

This was our view from the main Castle terrace and the weather defied the forecast and was still and mild.  I have put together a collage of the flowers I took pictures of as there were so many and hopefully one day I will be able to identify them.  They are a mixture of those groomed and pruned at the castle and those growing wild by the lake but all very pretty.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Sticky Decor

I recently wrote about blogs that I have been enjoying and on one of those, art bar blog, I saw an idea I have been wanting to attempt.  Here is the picture that sparked my interest.

I have also mentioned that we have an ongoing project to clear our garden and last week we cut down an overgrown bush providing me with lots of branches.  I didn't want to do exactly the same as I know how time consuming weaving  can be but then also looked on pinterest for additional ideas such as these wrapped sticks but I had a few ideas of other bits to add too.  I decided to begin by painting my stick, then wrap the stick in colourful wool.

I had chosen a branch which had a fork so that I could do a little weaving and so stretched some wool horizontally across the forked space. I then plaited purple and green wool and weaved it through going vertically from top to bottom.  After a few of these I threaded some beads through too to give it extra dimension.  I then decided to add some extra rows of green and purple wool horizontally to weave some more yellow wool through to add some brighter colour to it.  I then wrapped some more of the stick in the remaining yellow to tie the colours together.

What twig is complete without a few leaves? I recently bought some Fat Quarters from a beautiful local shop stitch45 and thought it would make a great coordinating leaf.  I cut out the shape freehand and wadded it a little before sewing the front and back pieces together and part way up the middle to define the 'leafiness'. I chose additional fabric from my stash and made 2 more leaves.  I used 3 strands of yarn and old friendship bracelet making skills to create an aesthetically pleasing hanging loop for the leaves.

 After rediscovering my gold paint during the melted wax project, I decided that my twig could only be improved with a little gold splashed about a bit.  I settled on stripes and spots mostly which began to give my twig an Aztec bohemian feel.

I left it to dry overnight before adding my hanging leaves and placed it into a hurricane jar with some purple string beads.  I've not found a final home for it but was impressed with how well, (unintentionally) it went with the melted crayon canvas.

I've had a busy week with visitors and catching up with friends that has been really lovely but has left me a little drained in the evenings.  My husband has more responsibility with work which has kept him busy in the evenings with admin and thus afforded me the chance for more opportunities to make things including a paper family tree using coordinating paper with my lettter 'F' art.

It now hangs on my display wall which has also had a few more additions since I last photographed it.  There's still space to expand and grow as our family does.  The photo frames are nearly all Ikea; clock was from Homesense; the mirror was an auction find; the circular mirror tile was from Laura Ashley and the coral birdie frames were gifts from my husband a few weeks ago from sass and belle.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Poppa's personalised present

I was a little late in arranging a Father's Day present and hastily looked on pinterest for ideas and saw one where 3 children held the letters 'D-A-D' and decided I'd pinch that.  But I didn't just want plain pictures but decided to let the kids personalise them.  We had loads of boxes left over from the wardrobe and bunk bed and so cut the letters and asked the girls what they would like to do.  They both wanted a bird theme so we chose a colouring in picture for Fiona and a collage from an old calendar for Lydia.  I printed out some words in blues and green for Michael and wrapped his letter in string and then let him stick the words on.

The tricky part was then the photo's; getting the to line up and smile and hold their letters so they were visible was not straightforward but these were the best 4.  I had left it too late to get the printed with photobox and so used our printer and photo paper.  The quality wasn't amazing but I actually liked the aged effect.
 I had originally planned to put a picture in a frame but the children wanted to do something with the letters so i found out old cork board and pinned them to it instead.

So Daddy got a personalised collage with a bird theme which was then followed by us going to birdland which roughly an hour away.  We recently purchased annual passes but it is the first time the children and I have been.  It was a bright day but not hot or windy so I didn't have to think about wellies, or sun cream, just the picnic!
I took so many photo's that I decided to collate them using picmonkey so that it wasn't picture overload.  There are lots of tools on there for editing but I am mostly just using the collage function.

Since it is Birdland I thought I should include some of the birds I managed to catch through the meshed fences.  The penguins and flamingo's were a big hit with the children.

  There is also a play area which was a great end to the visit and it is cleverly situated next to the lovely flamingo point cafe where they had a selection of lovely colourful birdhouses on the walls.

I may well steal this idea for our garden!

A big draw for us was also that there is a dinosaur area which our little boy loved, although also a little intimidated too.  The statues are placed within a woodland area so the children had fun finding them and there was an option to engage in several trails too.

I couldn't resist taking a few pictures of the beautiful flowers in full bloom around the park area and am now looking forward to getting out with my camera again soon.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

melted crayon art

I saw this idea on pinterest last year and bought a cheap canvas from the 'works' with the plan to do this.  It's a great craft as it uses up all the broken crayons that lie around the house and all the free ones you collect at restaurants (OK so McDonald's and Morrison's!) that float around your handbag. My children had already peeled the paper off most of the ones I was using making it easy to get started.  I printed off some images off the internet, cut them out and stuck them down with prit-stick. In hindsight, grease proof paper may be better to help prevent leakage if you want clean lines.  I wanted to melt the wax over the top of the paper and then remove it later but normal printer paper didn't stick down too well but i was afraid of not being able to remove it at a later date so some experimenting may be required to find the best solution here.

I selected a wave shape for the bottom and so picked out all the blues and greens and placed them at the bottom of the canvas.  I soon realised they needed to taped in place loosely and then the fun began.  My 4 year old helped with melting the crayons by simply using a hairdryer and patience.  The latter didn't last long so I took over and tried to melt the crayons without blowing the wax too far away from the wave area.  I added other clusters of crayons of similar colours in other positions on the canvas and continued melting them until the whole canvas was coated.  I had to wait for it to dry (always the hardest part!) before attempting to peel the printed images off the canvas.

The paper was under quite a lot of wax and so i needed to use a play doh spatula/ knife to help remove the paper but in the process, i took off some of the wax.  I felt the writing wasn't clear enough and so used black paint to fill in the words and outline the waves and fish.

I felt it was still a little flat and undefined so I had a raid of my craft stores and selected a few sparkly things to add. I was talking to my sister on what's app and sent her updates and it was her suggestion to add the seed beads.  I started with gold beads for the fish and then some silvery blue for the froth of the waves.  I used a thick PVA which seems to have worked well to keep them in place.  I painted a little wooden heart in gold paint and added 2 little bronze flowers and a button to also add to the sparkle.  I had a charm in the shape of a heart which said made with love which I used for the dot of the 'i' and lastly added a big yellow flower.  I actually had lots of other embellishments to add but felt it was getting a bit over the top so stopped here.

I love that it's not perfectly neat but totally unique.  It's currently hanging next to the front door but may not stay there but we'll try it there for now.  Lydia came back for some more melting fun so I used up the rest of the black paint and quickly painted her a picture for her to finish although it did get a little crumpled.  

 We added some jewels in the tree to brighten it up and then some gold paint highlights.  Despite her expression here, she is quite pleased with her picture which can now hang in her new room which does now contain a wardrobe and bunkbeds finally.  But that is for another post....

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

'Sew' magazine review

I mentioned recently that my parent's bought me a 6mth magazine subscription to 'Sew Magazine' and that I would review it once I had read a few issues. I've read 3 now; January, June and July (all the 'J's) and done a little content analysis.

There are around 100 pages in each issue and of these, approximately 20 pages of adverts, 15 pages of fabric/product recommendations, 14 articles-eg 3 substantial interviews and the several shorter historical or technical pieces, 13 projects, and every issue has a free modern, versatile pattern.  There are always great competitions and giveways; strong sewing bee links, reader response pages and the magazine is packed with hints and tips for better sewing.

There is a very good range of sewing projects including dressmaking, children's clothes/ toys, quilting, embroidery and needlework although the tutorials are mostly instructional in written form rather than illustrative and perhaps more for the intermediate sewer than a total newbie.

Having now had subscriptions to Mollie makes and Prima I admit I was surprised at how I missed the variety of mediums. On occasions where I have read other magazines such as craftseller and craft beautiful I have found them to have more paper craft and jewellery than I am personally interested in for a subscription but good for the odd additional treat. I think it has been interesting to do this review following my own reflections on this blog and again it has illuminated that I am a crafter of several trades but master of none. I really like 'Sew' as it appeals to my strong lead towards sewing but I still enjoy and appreciate crochet, knitting and other crafts which 'Sew' doesn't cover as it's title suggests, it is very focused on sewing. It is definitely one I will buy but perhaps bi-monthly as it is good value for money with interesting projects but for a subscription I want a little bit of everything.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Birdie garland

Our post office stocks and sells Gisela Graham bits and they had some cute little white ceramic birds reduced to £1.15 so I bought 3. Unbeknown to me, my husband also bought 4 Sass and Belle floral hearts in a little boutique for £1.50 each. I saw them and knew immediately that I wanted to make a garland for our living room.

We have a birdie motif throughout the house as with my husband working for the RSPB, it's a natural theme. This garland would coordinate with one we bought last year at a gift fair here in Malvern from thesheppardsflock.

The birds had white ribbons which I decided to replace with twine. It has taken me a few weeks to get the twine and I settled in green with few other options available to me locally. I began by removing the ribbons and price tags. I measured 3pieces of twine and attached them to the birds. With 4 hearts and 3 birds it was easy to pitch the order I'd hang them.

I did a simple knot with 3' between each hanging decoration. At the ends I added a wooden bead and then hung the finished garland on my mirror. The birdies weight meant I needed to use sticky tape to hold the twine in place so not the exact finish I had pictured but I am pleased overall.

This wasn't exactly a cost saving piece at £10 as I'm sure I could have found another crafter making something similar for around the same price but of course it doesn't provide the same satisfaction and may not have blended in as well. I know I have read an article about this in a magazine very recently but can't find it now typically. Perhaps that is because in addition to my usual 2 magazines I receive on subscription, I also bought 5 in a charity shop for 20p each. They were old copies but still had patterns included and inspiration is still there to be found and now my head is buzzing with things to do!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015


As some of you will know, I had quite a long break from blogging but have recently resumed writing and sharing again. When I log in to write a new post, I see figures for how many views my blog posts have had and it has provoked some reflection as to what people like to read about on here. I have spent some time this week reading other blogs which has helped me in my reflection. I started this as a sort of crafting journal and as a prompt to try new things and as a record to look back on. But I was part of crafting groups and had more time to try things whereas life feels full of family related things and so a move towards a parenting blog would be natural but it is not for me. I appreciate reading other people's anecdotes but I don't feel I have the 'tone' for the humorous retelling of how my son covered himself in sudocreme in the same day he emptied washing powder onto the floor and made snow angels (personal true story).

In a pre 3rd child life, I taught A Level Philosophy, Religious Studies and Sociology and some of the blogs I read were thought provoking and quite conceptual. Again I've enjoyed reading them but don't feel I have much to say in the way of my own philosophical musings. I've looked at interior blogs but who am I kidding, my house is not tidy enough or clean enough for regular photographs being taken and my progress is slow there!

I guess I came back to liking my blog as is. A glimpse into what I'm making, whether it's food or sewing, or something new. I'll link to other crafters whose work I am enjoying and appreciating; my inspirations from magazines, pinterest and other's blogs. There will be kiddie related things and some interior related bits.  I did find some photo editing tools which I hope to use more and I think I'm going to resume my project 52 but they may not be as adventurous as before! I'd appreciate thoughts and feedback if there's specific things you enjoy reading about but for now, here's some of the best crafty blogs I've discovered.

art bar blog: written by mum and art teacher Bar Rucci who makes fantastic art from everyday things and makes reproducing them achievable for non artists like me with one child or many and varied in age range. Really recommend this for mums.

betsy makes: I love crochet and this blog is beautiful. Samantha writes with an easy natural style and I'm excited to have subscribed to her blog. She also sees and recently knitted socks. Do peruse her blog with a cup of tea as you will want to read previous posts too.

diaryofamumof3: Caroline writes a parenting blog but she has a great honest style that isn't trying too hard to be funny or impressive which makes for a comfortably paced and light enjoyable read and she updates regularly. Her pictures of family life are gorgeously natural and not staged!

Musings for the potting shed: I met author Luke a few weeks back where he shared some of his music, notes on his book and a glimpse of his blog and I was hooked. I find his blog intriguing and thought provoking and appeals to my brain which I admit, I'm relieved it still works!

smile and wave: Rachel is a professional American blogger and crafter running e-courses and is sponsored-so we're talking seriously impressive, stunning photography and very cool crafty makes I want to imitate and adapt NOW.

willow day: Gina is from the US but lives in Sweeden and is also a mum of 3 (that is not a prerequisite of who I follow but I do seem to be able to find these fellow ladies). Her ideas make great use of nature which is always pleasing as usually free but again she uses such fabulous images that are so aesthetically pleasing as art in themselves but also the concepts are simple and replicable.

I hope you do have a peek at these and that you enjoy them as much as I have. Please do recommend blogs you think I may enjoy too, and if you can't get enough, I also have the usual links to mum wants a farm, skunkboy blog, mommy by day crafter by night and tigerlilly Quinn (to name a few) on the left hand side of my screen.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Crafty make

I feel it has been too long since I posted a crafty make so here's what I have been doing this week.
I went to a craft show at the 3 Counties Showground in March with some fellow Mummy friends who are also a little bit crafty.  We took the children so it wasn't the same experience I have had previously but they were very well behaved and had the chance of doing block printing on tea towels.

I bought a sewing kit from a bargain bin for 50p and haven't known what to do with it and last year I bought a mobile, also for 50p in a charity shop and decided to make something using them both.

I began by cutting out the shapes from the fabric. 

I sewed the pieces together wrong sides facing, starting with sewing a birdie to it's breast piece.  I left a small opening and then turned them the right way through, stuffed the birdie and sewed her closed.

I continued sewing the other pieces up although there was only 10g of stuffing provided with the kit so I didn't complete the caravans and houses although I have another idea for those.

 Then it was time for the sparkly things to come out.  Beads, ribbons, buttons and flowers.  Everything to add a little glitter and interest for 2 little girls.

I tried to make each hanging a little different but equally pretty, alternating the lengths so that they would each catch the light and be visible.

I think it is nearly finished, but it will have to wait another week before it takes pride of place in the girl's room.  In as much as I adore old furniture and try to buy second hand when possible, there are also some things that need to be bought new at times.  We have ordered the girls bunk-beds and a wardrobe from Ikea (as well as picture frames!) which will be delivered this week.  I will upload pictures of their finished room and it also means Michael will now have his own room which I am very excited to decorate too.  I hope it wont be long at all before I can be posting images or my new makes for them.