Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Snail Mail #1: The Little Letters Project

There's been a bit of a snail mail renaissance in our house recently - mainly thanks to Instagram and blogland...

I signed Henry and Coco up to Nell's Little Letters project - so they sent and received some drawings, notes and gifts in the post  - although Henry was quite confused about the sending idea initially - I think he just thought he was going to put it through our letterbox - he got quite into it eventually with his signature line-only style and he was absolutely delighted by the parcel he received from George. Here's a little video of him and his delivery.

Coco also loved writing and receiving her mail. We had a few false starts and ended up with a completely over-embellished envelope. She stashed her post away in her secret box; she really is a mini-me sometimes which is not entirely a good thing... a hoarder in the making!

Now it's about time I got them to write their letters back... a little project for the Easter holidays?

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

A Spring Trip to Kew Gardens

A Saturday in spring with blue skies and no set plans  - perfect for a family trip to Kew Gardens.

So a couple of weekends ago that's just what we did. There we all are...

We made a picnic and cycled down, over the river - and my main aim was to see the glorious crocus carpet - and to be able to get some photos like this.

I think this is one of Hugh's photos (better credit him or he'll point it out later).

We were treated to blue skies all afternoon - we spotted blossom and daffodils - plus the last of the snowdrops.

It only feels like yesterday that we were reveling in the autumn colour at Kew... but I'm glad to see the back of winter, even if it does feel like time is racing by at the moment.

It's days like this that make me so grateful for our London life. We love having Kew on our doorstep - I'm hoping to get there in the next week or so to see the magnolias in bloom. Where do you go for your dose of spring in the city?

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A Modern Way to Eat: My New Favourite Cookbook

You know how a well loved cookery book becomes gradually worn in over time? It easily falls open to reveal favourite recipes, pages become crinkled from splashes of water or lemon juice, the corners are folded over for dishes that you look forward to eating and maybe there is the odd note written here and there...

Well, we have only had the book A Modern Way to Eat for about a month and it already bares all of these hallmarks.

I've been raving about Anna Jones' easy veggie recipes to anyone who'll listen - and quizzing my friends who have got it about the recipes they've tried.

It's really helped me to get out of a bit of a cooking slump. I've documented some of the recipes we've tried on instagram - I've even forgone two of my self inflicted rules 1) no cooked food photos & 2) no artifcial light photos (I'm not sure I've ever really stuck to them).

So from the top going clockwise we've tried:
Cauliflower based every day pizza (nice, different and surprisingly easy to prep).
Raw Thai citrus crunch salad (I loved this... although Hugh made it and added chicken).
Dhal with sweet potato and coconut chutney (I want to actually eat this right now; it's really good).
Autumn panzanella (we've made it twice - says it all...)

And much to the children's delight we've also tried...

Caramel popcorn. My only regret is that now they've tried popcorn like this my children don't want to go back to plain popcorn. And neither do I.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

News From Elsewhere: Glass Etching, Silhouette Portriats & Party Bags

In the absence of posts here over the last week or so I thought I'd point you all along to some other stuff I'm doing...

I've written a couple of posts for Hannah and Davina over at their blog Seeds & Stitches  - which if you've never visited then - get over there you're missing out!

Glass etching for Seeds & Stitches by alexis

The most recent post was a bit of a tutorial on how to do glass etching. Which hardly even needs a tutorial as it's so simple and easy (I feel like a cheat now).

Creating silhouette portraits and pictures for Seeds & Stitches by alexis

And way back in the depths of winter I did a post about our Christmas cards and creating silhouette portraits and pictures. I just realised I didn't even put my cards on the blog this year... maybe I'll fill you all in next December instead? But anyway folks, silhouettes aren't just for Christmas (they're for birthdays too, obviously - that is Coco above with her 7 balloon).

Cotton Twist make a medal for your teddy - alexis

And finally... my friend and I have tentatively launched our website Cotton Twist selling mini craft kits & activities designed for party gifts and rainy days. We are hoping to find a tribe of people who want something different for party bags and are bored of all the plastic.

Cotton Twist superhero mask party bag activity - alexis

We are still working away to improve & perfect the website as well as developing new party bag ideas; but the site is live, and it works... I will be shouting about it more the happier we become with it - and I will also tell the whole story of how it came about at some point as I think it's a good one - it started way back when Coco was four and I made her party bags from almost nothing. Wish us luck please (and maybe follow us on instagram!? - Am setting it up today and I think I might feel a bit sad about only having 2 followers)!

I have so much to catch up on here... I do love blogging but as I normally end up doing it late at night it seems that at the moment I love sleep more! 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Framing Art with E-Frame

Before Christmas I had a lovely day out with some college friends in Lewes. Lewes is a good place to meet up - geographically it's good for all of us, but as a town it's great. I might have spent an evening browsing houses there on rightmove when I got home... Anyway; although the majority of the day was spent in coffee shops & cafes we also visited a makers fair where I bought a Christmas present for me Hugh.

It was one of those slightly accidental purchases. This print caught my eye right as we walked in and after a browse around during which I felt completely overwhelmed I just really wanted to buy something - partly to show some support for all the creativity - and partly as it's so good to be able to buy direct from the artist/maker.
After lots of deliberating I finally went back to the start and decided to go for the first thing that had caught me eye. And so it was that I bought this print by Liz Toole.

So it felt kind of fortuitous that e-frame contacted me to test out their online framing service a few days late.

I spent ages deciding on a frame. Normally I can ask Hugh's opinion but as it was a present I was on my own. I couldn't decide whether to go with a mount or not, whether to go with natural wood or a painted frame... there are so many great options on the site and once you've typed in the size of the frame you need then you can click around all the options and see the changing price too.
Eventually (as you can see) I went with no mount and a simple oak frame.

The frame arrived very promptly - this was a custom size so I was fully expecting that I might not have been able to get it in time for Christmas but these guys know their stuff and my frame arrived within a week.

As Hugh wasn't available for framing services either I had to put up with Henry's help instead; but seeing as the frame was a perfect fit his main job was just removing the packaging...

The whole process was so straightforward and the quality of the frame was lovely. I would definitely use e-frame again especially for custom frame sizes. Also the frames come with perspex instead of glass which I prefer - makes the frames lighter and easier to hang... and as we have a tendancy to leave frames leaning against walls it's much safer too.

Thanks to e-frame for getting in touch and for giving me some credit to try out their service.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

A Year in Books: February

Last month I read 'We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves'. I have mixed feelings about it. I liked it for many things - it was enjoyable while I was reading it, engaging and it really made me think about an issue that I've not given much thought to since I was a teenager (shame on me). It had some annoying things about it, very neat ending and some hard to like characters but I think I'm only bothered about those looking back on the book, they didn't bother me when I was in it. So I would come to the conclusion that it's a good read.
I'm being a bit cagey about it as I don't want to publish a big fat spoiler and it's hard to write about it without doing that. It's for your own good people.

This month I'm reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time because:
1) I must be the only person in the universe not to have read it.
2) It's been sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me to read it for a long time.

I'm joining in with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees link up #theyearinbooks
Share the book you are reading each month. Simple.

PS: I'm not sure I'm really up to joining in with all these monthly challenges... it feels like the advantage in doing them is to post them up at the beginning of the month; but I suppose I'm more in the "it's the taking part that matters camp"
And I've started, so I should try to finish.  <<<< See my note to self in the side bar over there.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Morocco - Holiday Portraits

One of the many things that was really good about escaping these shores last week was being able to take some nice shots of the children. Posed and candid... here are my favorites from our half term in Morocco.

We did more or less the same as we did last year - read the full lowdown from that trip here.
We packed light - which is why Coco seems to be wearing the same thing everyday.

I did some sketching, we read and did puzzles, Coco and Henry made new friends. We played lots of cards - especially the very popular Rat-a-tat-Cat game. We ate well, wandered the souks - bought back a few little souviners and generally enjoyed getting some sun on our backs.