Half Term Fun

Today is the first day of the half term and it was such a lovely feeling not to have to rush to get up and to get out of the house for the school run.  Instead we have had a great day filled with some planned activities and quite a dash of spontaneity.  After languishing around in bed and a breakfast of pancakes, I decided to give the kids a load of empty boxes that I have been collecting for childminding purposes, and allowing them to use their imagination to make whatever they liked.


It all started off fairly sedately needing quite a bit of input from me, but once they got into it Bean and Flump had a whale of a time, made a substantial amount of mess and came up with some great things.

IMG_1966 Bean made a rocket, she is quite keen on the space theme at present.  Flump’s started out as a space vehicle, then a rocket and is currently a dragon!!


A few hours were then spent in Bingham, visiting the local library to accumulate more books.


Having the six weekly haircut at our great little local salon Enhance– Flump is surprisingly good at sitting still and seems to enjoy being preened, although the mint at the end may be part of the reason why.


Having lunch with friends. Then the kids and a couple of their friends transformed the market square and the Buttercross into a dragon’s lair and spent a good hour playing, it was great to see their imaginations come to life.

It may not have been a day of exciting outings but sometimes it is just great being in the home space and exploring our local area….there is plenty of time later in the week for exploration further afield but for now we shall just settle down with a good movie and a hot chocolate.


Girls Shirred summer dress

A lovely evening was spent on Wednesday at my lovely friend, Tanya’s house for our monthly stitching it together with the great girlies Moira and Lizzie. It was blowing a holy outside, but there was lots of fun and laughter and we decided to add a bit of sunshine to the gloom by deciding to have a go at making a shirred girls dress using this great tutorial from Jorth.   We sometimes try and have a single thing we can all try out, we have done invisible zips, quilt as you go and made these wonderful bloomers!


The dress is really simple and we all managed to get the majority of a dress made up with just the finishing off to do.  Shirring can take a little practice and can mean some finding around with your machine, but this great shirring tutorial from Flossies teacakes has really helped.


I happened to make mine a little short but Lizzie had the great idea of adding a contrast panel to the bottom and matching patch pockets which have worked brilliantly and Bean is incredibly happy with the outcome.  Although keeping her still to try and take a photo was incredibly difficult.  I think she likes swirly dresses so my plan is to make a proper twirly dress using this here material:




Rainy Day Cookies

It has truly been a day for snuggling up indoors and gathering different materials together for some rainy day activities, thankfully there was a break in the weather for the school pick up this afternoon.  I have been childminding a little girl today as well as having flump at home, so after the morning gale blew us back from school we got down to business of making cookies ready to ice after tea this evening.  I used this great recipe from amummytoo for Valentines cookies, don’t they look enticing.  I had made a few yesterday evening but decided to let the kiddies have free reign this morning with their designs for cutting out.


Here is Flump with his contribution.  The dough itself was fantastic to make and really easy to handle, and seemed to withstand overworking by little fingers!!  When it came to decorating them this afternoon I decided to go for the writing icing and marshmallows which always seem to go down well with the little un’s.


Bean with her’s which she lovingly decide to give to me…..I’m quite glad her brother decided to keep his to himself after licking the marshmallows before putting them on.


Here was my attempt from last night..I used ready roll icing coloured with food gel to cover the cookies, and then used the writing icing to finish two of them off, and spent a considerable amount of time stamping out tiny hearts to decorate the other – I even enlisted the hubster in this task!!  Unfortunately the remainder of these were knocked all over the floor by unwielding limbs, and the biscuits which I had left on the side for as a nice surprise when the hubster got home tonight were sampled by one of our lovely felines who has a partiality for sweet things , and who has now been banished to the utility room.

However despite the chaos that it can cause I do find baking a  great activity, even with kids.  It helps soothe the soul, is great for bringing everyone together in one task, can take as long as you like and just lets everyone release their inner creativity.  It’s always great to see the different designs that the kids come up with and no two are ever the same!!

A suitable storage solution for a mound of lego!!

Flump seems to be accumulation lego at a rate of knots and it is getting quite difficult keeping it all in one place, some lives in the original boxes, others bits in a box in the bottom of his toy chest and the rest lurks in his carpet waiting for unsuspecting bare feet to  step on it!!  So I decided to investigate possible storage solutions, the lego boxes look fantastic but they don’t alway offer the scope to separate all those fiddly little pieces!  Then one evening the Hubster commented that his old tool box was sitting empty and lonely in the Garage and maybe that would offer a potential solution…the intern trays were broken but the little storage boxes on top were still intact and there was enough space inside for the boards and larger pieces.

Last night the box emerged from the garage and was given a thorough cleaning…the dust and grime in the bottom was quite spectacular.    And so this morning Flump and I embarked on a day long task of transforming it into something worthy of a lego fiend of a boy….First we sanded down the outside of the box to provide a key for the paint to be applied…


Next a trip to the shop on the way home from gymnastics to purchase paint….we went for Plastikote in Gloss mediterranean blued,which provided a quick and easy coverage.


I have to admit that I kept Flump at arms length while spraying took place, I didn’t fancy being covered in it for the school run, and although we are planning to redo the garden this year, I don’t think blue grass would have gone down so well!

After school pick up, the three of us spent a pleasant half hour or so stick pictures I had gathered of Lego onto the side of the box, I did have to try and stop my control freak escaping, and really tried to let the kids have a fairly free reign with sticking the pics on…I must confess I did add some final ones to neaten it up a bit.


Flump is ever so proud of it already, and all that is left to do is apply two or three coats of Yacht varnish and to sort the lego out and get it into misbrand new home…a job for a rainy day I feel.

A review of what I want to achieve from blogging.

Wow I can’t believe it has been nearly a month since my last post.  Although I started 2014 with best intentions of blogging regularly about my projects I seem to have lost my mojo and have thought that I really didn’t have much to post about.  Nothing really has been happening on the sewing front….I suppose you could say there has been a hiatus.  However while sat filling photo albums with the kids this afternoon, it gave me time to reflect that I have been up to quite a lot and maybe that should be my goal for this blog, to keep record of the things I do so that I can look back on it when I am having those moments feeling like I am just plodding along!!!

I have been up to an awful lot this month, one of the major things is working with a lovely group of ladies from the WI I attend, The Bingham Belles, in planning what we would like to do for this years Bingham Town Fair.  Last year we had an amazing time running “The Great Bingham Bake Off & The mini Bingham Bun Off”.


It was bloody hard work for all involved but wow, what a reception we had from the local community and we all feel very isprired to make it bigger and better this year.  I can’t give too much away but watch this space!!

Talking of the WI, I have been involved with the Bingham Belles since their inception, and have been very lucky to be it’s first presider.  However after 2 years I have made the decision to step down from this post as I think it’s time for new blood and ideas.  I am going to stay on with the committee but am looking forward to getting more involved in campaigning.  Our first idea for this year is to do something to highlight International Women’s day on 8th March, here’s a taste of what we may be up to…http://softergloucester.wordpress.com/tag/international-womens-day/

I am involved in the local guiding movement and am a Rainbows leader.  It is such a rewarding job, despite it being exhausting at times.  It has been lovely to be involved in the girls first forays into Guiding and it is great to think they we may be part of igniting their passion too continue on with it for many years to come.  We plan loads of great activities for the girls and I have realised it would be great to blog about that here as well.  Recently we celebrated Chinese New Year and as it was Year of the Horse we got the girls making Horse bookmarks.

IMG_1873 Here is a picture of my Bean holding hers, which is being put to great use in her library reading book she is reading.  The idea for it came from this great website: http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/hobby-horse-bookmark and I not only used it for my  Rainbows but also as an activity with my childmindees!!

Which I suppose brings us onto the final thing that has been taking up a large chunk of my time and though processes over the past month.  I love childminding, especially the element of working with kids using a variety of mediums to explore their own creative and to provide a varied learning environment for them.  I had considered giving it up when Flump goes to school in September but I think I will miss that interaction with kids on a daily basis and so I have decided to carry it on.  I think the blog will be a great way of tracking the activities I have done with the kids and may provide me with inspiration when I can’t quite get my brain into the zone.  Our most recent outing to Whisby Nature Reserve for Nature Tots…. They meet on the first wednesday of the month at Whisby Nature Reserve and there is an short activity indoors, followed my time outdoors exploring, followed by further activities indoors and a culpa for the grown ups.  Flump and the little girl I mind loved it and I think it will become a regular part of our monthly activities.

So I suppose looking back on all that I shouldn’t perhaps be so hard on myself for not getting so much sewing etc done. And it has given me a real focus on what I can blog about in the future:

  • I am going to keep an account of the goings on of the Bingham Belles…it may prompt me to take over the blogging on their own wordpress account as this is something that has gone by the wayside.
  • I am going to write weekly about Rainbows and childminding activities we have been doing, hopefully
  • And when I get time I may add in other bits about hints I am doing in the family and for myself.
  • Finally I am going to stop putting too many expectations on myself to complete sewing projects etc and just enjoy them for what they are…my hobby!!

A week of new challenges

It is the first week the kids are back at school and preschool and life is resuming it’s normal ebbs and flows. I gave up on resolutions a few years ago, but in there place have decided at the beginning of the new year to set a few challenges. One of the first ones is a crafty one…. To complete THE quilt by my mum’s 65th in june!!!


The one above, a few hours have been spent working out how many types of what hexi I need and as I write this a pile of card hexi’s part cut is sat next to me!!

I also have decided to try free motion quilting, and for that I need a quilt top, for which I have finally broken into a half jelly roll which has been lying around for an age. The quilt top is made, but is has been a learning curve…. I realised after cutting out all the side pieces I didn’t have enough fabric…aaagghh! It has been resolved after lots of cursing.



Other challenges include trying to spend more time doing things with the kids rather than the mundane daily tasks. It seems to be working well so far and seems to have decreased tensions within the house, and has had the added bonus of them playing and doing other activities independently once I do need to go something. It is early days but I will keep posting about how it goes.

Finally the biggest challenge is to do something I am not so keen on…. Cycling whilst improving my health and raising money for charity so I have agreed to do a 30 mile cycle ride at the end of feb, better get on my bike then!!

Starting 2014 as I mean to go on!!

Well in 2013 I set up a blog and planned to add to it at fairly regular intervals, oh how that failed!!  It was meant to be a record for myself of things I had achieved and also to link with other creative types who I gain inspiration from and who’s blogs have provided me with great advice.   So I am going to try again to post regularly and to start the new year off I though t I would share a few photo’s of projects I completed in 2013.



First up is the top I made from some beautiful liberty fabric I found in Grace & Jacob in York.  It is a Pattern from the Great British Sewing Bee book and I do love it , so I think this may be one for a few more makes in 2014!


Next up was a quilt I made for a friends newborn…she is now nearing 9 months old, I was so chuffed with it as it was my first real quilt and a huge learning curve.  I haven’t attempted another quilt until now!!  From some of the left over fabric I also made a beautiful shirred dress for her, with some lovely buttons I got free on the front of Mollie Makes many moons ago!IMG_0299

Throughout the year we have also been decorating our lounge, pulling out the old fireplace and painting floorboards, It has been quite a cathartic process and has ended up with us having a beautiful light airy space in which to add our own little collection of things.  It also lead to e decoupaging a set of tables, a new skill and one I thoroughly enjoyed.




The year has ended with me picking up the knitting needles and making mug cosies, initially as presents and then as potential sale items – a path I have considered following for a while but who knows when I may pluck up courage to do so.  I have also completed a cross stitch for my son’s room. I wanted to do one when he was first born, as I hard done for darling daughter.  However time and life got in the way, but it was completed in time for his 4th Birthday, following a pattern from Sand, Sea and Cross Stitch.  I just need to get it framed now, let’s hope that doesn’t take another 4 years to do!!




So what for 2014…. well I have just opened up a half jelly roll and am hoping to complete a small lap quilt…and I and hoping beyond hope that I may finish a hand pieced quilt for my mum in time for her 65th in June!! I have finished all the hexagon flowers and am in the process of working out how to piece it together!!


As you can see I’m not always  one for following pattern, am a bit more of a see how things go. Continue reading

A pretty little project

I have just completed the following project for a friends son for his birthday this weekend


It’s a great book nook to hang off the side of his bed to hold his bedtime reads in, and has already proved popular in our house with my oldest requesting one for a birthday present for herself!!

I got the idea for it from this book


It’s full if wonderful and fairly simple ideas, great for gifts or the home. The instructions were fairly easy to follow but I’m glad I’ve already got the basic sewing knowledge. If was a bit tricky sewing the letters on despite using bondaweb, I think next time if will be stitch and tear as well to stop slippage, and maybe zigzag stitch appliqué…. Perhaps that’s my next little project, after the baby quilt has been finished(not mine, a friends!!)

A few essential buys!!

Well I have been what can be described as non existent on the blog front recently!! I have been somewhat absorbed with the hand stitching of hexi’s to make flowers. I had intended on posting some pics of the beautiful hot cross buns I made at Easter courtesy of some inspiration from the great British bake off Easter special!! However I deleted the photo by mistake and they had all been scoffed by then!!

We have also been Away to the beautiful city of York for a family break, and although it’s all been very focused on the kids I did manage to fit in a big of crafting retail therapy!!


Yes that’s right the book to accompany the series great British sewing bee bee, which I’m already addicted to!! Also some beautiful tana lawn from a wonderful little shop grace and jacob which I intend to use for a tea dress and finally some gorgeous paper to decoupage a nest if tables I found in the local charity shop!! So hopefully quite a few more projects to follow.

I will leave you with a picture of my daughter with her submarine, made at one of the family activities today at the Nottingham contemporary.


The hexi’s are taking shape!!


Well here it is my first blog post….I’ve had it ready to go for a couple of months and have been following several other blogs for ages but just haven’t plucked up the courage to start posting until now!! I have started work on a slightly ambitious project that is requiring a lot of hand sewing, but i’m enjoying the challenge and it’s been perfect to take with me away when on courses or the girly weekend I went on recently locked away in a log cabin….. Eventually I had a tin of basted hexagons….image

Today while sat around for a few hours in a waiting room I have begun stitching together the hexagons into flowers and the first one is complete, it’s far from perfect but i’m pleased with it and it’s been a great learning curve already, like the need to make sure my securing stitches are very secure so they don’t begin unravelling!!! image