Tuesday 23 December 2014

Styling the Seasons: December

Styling the seasons with Liberty fabric - by Alexis at www.somethingimade.co.uk

The simple results of a lovely few hours spent in Liberty back in November are now adorning our mantlepiece on a selection of larch branches; acquired at New Covent Garden flower market rather than from a foraging session in the woods - although I did get up before 6am to go to the flower market, so that kind of counts doesn't it?

Styling the seasons with Liberty fabric - by Alexis at www.somethingimade.co.uk

Who doesn't love a floral liberty fabric? And what is that magic ingredient that makes them just so... lovely?

Styling the seasons with Liberty fabric - by Alexis at www.somethingimade.co.uk

As much as I would have happily used any fabric from their collection I made these really simple decorations by sticking to three designs; Capel F, Emma and Georgina, (the bigger print with the flowers on I can't find on their website).
And it was really a glue project rather than a sewing one... (I was one of the no-sew gang at the crafting afternoon - along with Lou, Sarah-Lou, & Heather)

Styling the seasons with Liberty fabric - by Alexis at www.somethingimade.co.uk

The rest of the house features a mish-mash of decorations that have been collected over the years, which is just the way I like it - but it's also very pleasing to have this little arrangement on my bedroom mantlepiece. It means I get to gaze at it for a few, um seconds, in the morning before the day kicks in.

Styling the seasons with Liberty fabric - by Alexis at www.somethingimade.co.uk

I'm really enjoying doing these styling the seasons posts - if you haven't joined in yet then surely January is the perfect time to start!? Go on - you know you want to!
Katy has done a round-up of the posts from some of the other bloggers who also went to the Liberty crafting afternoon and have their posts up already (I'm late, as usual!) - so many wonderful posts and ideas - take a look here. 
Thank you to Katy & Charlotte.

Thursday 18 December 2014

The Wrap Party

At some point in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago I had a brainwave. It was the marriage of two ideas that I'd been pondering. I decided to have a Christmas wrap party. I would invite people to my house for a charity coffee morning with the added bonus of providing lots of paper and tape so that they could bring their Christmas gifts to wrap up too - all for a donation to charity of course.

Most of my middle-of-the-night ideas never come to anything, but the next morning I was still thinking over my idea (although of course there was much wrangling over the fact that I was about to host a coffee morning shoot me now!). So I picked up the phone and called my friend Lynne; the owner of Papermash - a superior online purveyor of very tasteful stationery. Lynne not only didn't think my idea was mad but also offered to bring over all her samples for people to use.
So that was that we were on!

My Christmas wrap party - with supplies from Papermash by Alexis at www.somethingimade.co.uk

It was a pretty relaxed affair, we kept things simple (mainly as we pulled it together in a week) - I had my normal party paranoia that no-one would come - especially as on the morning of the event my phone was pretty much constantly pinging with messages from people who couldn't come (you know just as I was trying to lay out enough food to feed an army) but in the end we had just about the right number of people.

My Christmas wrap party - with supplies from Papermash by Alexis at www.somethingimade.co.uk

A friend donated 100 mince pies (the result of a communication error by her company to a baker in Yorkshire was our gain), I made some ginger biscuits and my mum made a pound cake which went down very well.

My Christmas wrap party - with supplies from Papermash by Alexis at www.somethingimade.co.uk

Lynne's suitcase of delights brought forth - beautiful string, gift tags, glitter tape and the best collection of washi tape ever (there's still time to get some for Christmas people...)!
Her rubber stamps collection is amazing. And they look great on brown paper - I think pretty much everyone was convinced of that....
The only thing we were a bit short on was wrapping room...

My Christmas wrap party - with supplies from Papermash by Alexis at www.somethingimade.co.uk

My Christmas wrap party - with supplies from Papermash by Alexis at www.somethingimade.co.uk

As always with these things I wish I'd taken a load more photos, but the two hours past in a blur of door answering, tea making, mince pie warming, chatting and wrapping. It was both chaotic and really fun - plus we raised £160 for my friend Emily's charity The George Oliver Foundation - a grant making charity set up in the name of her first born George, one of Coco's first little friends who sadly died suddenly when he was just 14 months old (I've written about her charity here before).

Some instagrams of the day by @lynneatpapermash @westlondonmum & @nisia75

As Lynne and I agreed at the end there was a huge satisfaction in just having done it, so many ideas come and go so to execute something at pretty short notice and have it be successful was great.  I'm definitely going to do it again next year - but this one was a very good practice run.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Simple Christmas Cards

Henry and I had a little crafting morning making cards for him to give to his friends at nursery.

We kept things simple and, even if I say it myself, I think the results are pretty nice.

We used:
1. A Dormy DIY rubber stamp - I love this rubber stamp, I got it years ago and have used it loads, it comes with lots of letters so you can create different messages - just totting up the years... it's definitely at least 14 years old and the ink still works perfectly.

2. Glue.
3. A Christmas tree craft punch
4. Last years Christmas cards (I'm a hoarder -  I keep our cards from year to year stashed away in the decorations box.
5. Plain card.

Henry enjoyed telling me which bits of the cards to punch out - it was a bit too stiff for him to be able to do them himself although he gave it a good go. He was very keen on all the sparkly, glittery bits...
Then he stamped the Christmas message and glued the trees on to the front of his cards.

Most of the cards got three trees... only one got an upside-down tree which Henry insisted he wanted...

....and then he very patiently wrote his cards. Well patiently wrote them for about seven minutes. This one was an easy one as it was to another Henry. He's got his name writing down now and as you can just spot at the top of this photos is starting to go for a bit of embellishment too. Never too young to have a signature I suppose.

Thursday 4 December 2014

Last Week: 7 things from 7 days

Seven things from seven days is an occasional series, where I can log the things we've been up to.

Illness struck this week! Henry has been home from nursery all week and so we've been holed up keeping things low-key and all my computer time has been spent beavering away on this years Christmas card... to be revealed, um, when it's finished!

But before that these things happened...

1. Me and Coco testing out the set up for our silhouette shots for this years Christmas card...
2. Since our weekend breakfast campaign (basically trying to wean the children off cereal everyday) pancakes have become a weekend staple. Coco was particularly pleased with this one she made and topped with nutella and strawberries. (I feel the need here to explain that we NEVER buy strawberries out of season, much as my kids would love me to, but we got these in a full bag of groceries mistakenly delivered to us... we also got to try some fancy butter, loads of grapes and some haddock and I still have a load of funny little yogurt pots in the fridge. I feel bad for the person who missed all these items in their order... but the shop wouldn't take it back and we felt it was our duty not to waste it all!)
3. Coco and Henry helping make the first mince pies of the season.
4. We went ice skating at Sommerset House... unfortunately it was just as Henry was getting ill so he didn't really enjoy it... I had a ball on the other hand and Coco was cautiously persistent and did pretty well. I think I would be correct in saying she has mixed feelings on the subject of whether she wants to go again or not.
5. We got an AMAZING new light for the sitting room - I'm in love; and Hugh is happy as it has LED bulbs. It took ages to find and a long time to save for. Full post possibly to come one day if I get around to it...
6. Before ice skating we had lunch in the pop up Fortnum's Lodge cafe at Sommerset House and Coco told me to take a photo of her food. She has noticed that I like to take photos of most things. What I failed to do was take a photo of the cheese fondue that I (partly) shared with Hugh. It was a bit of a indulgent-splash-out lunch, but, you know, it's Christmas. Almost. I'd recommend it if you are in the area...
7. And before the lunch that we had before the ice skating me and Coco popped into the Natural History Museum to say hello to the dinosaurs, because she asked to and we can.

Looking at the week like that it seems like we are getting in the festive mood...

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Garden Pots - Winter to Spring

Last year, with a bit of help, we made some really lovely pots for outside our kitchen window and we've tried to re-create them this year as it was decidedly cheering to be able to look out on some colour through winter and also to be able to see spring arriving when the time came.

Now I'm no gardener - our current garden is the first I've ever had and Hugh are I are really learning as we go along... but I thought it was worth sharing something that has worked for us because, if we can do it then, seriously, anyone can.

We bought these two tin baths ages ago at Columbia Rd flower market and they've served us very well.
First up you half fill your pot with compost and plant your bulbs (Narcissi 'Tete-a-Tete' in this case - which is the mini daffodil). If you plant daffs now you'll probably just get away with it I think - especially in London where it hasn't got too cold yet!

We didn't get a photo of the next bit - but we then added a couple more inches of compost and put in some anemone corms (again we put in ones saved from last year - they had actually started putting up leaves again already, a bit confused by the warm autumn we've had I guess) and muscari.

Finally we filled the pot up and planted in the violas.

We managed to find quite a lot of self seeded viola's from around the garden - the result of last years pot.

We have quite a few squirrels passing through our garden - so we put a layer of gravel on the top to stop them from nicking the bulbs as they have a tendency to do apparently.

So now we have a bit of winter colour and can look forward to something a bit like this appearing next spring...

Monday 24 November 2014

My Girl - Seven Years

I'm just going to come out and say it.

.... and yet of course I can believe it. We've hit each milestone, multiple firsts and lasts. We've had so many birthday parties that I now struggle to actually remember them all clearly. She is a fully formed little human, her personality so clear - many of her traits I can trace back to her first few months and yet she can still mystify me too. Her teacher said of her last week that she was a pleasure to teach, that she floats in like a fairy at the start of the day does her work and then floats away again at the end of the day. She's a dreamer and yet she is determined, a daredevil on her bike (and new skateboard) and yet perfectly content to sit at the kitchen table crafting away often making cards for her teddy.
But best of all she is a really HAPPY little person.

Today Clemmie from the blog Gas & Air has published my story of Coco's arrival. For a relatively calm little baby she made quite a dramatic entrance into this world. You can read about it here.

... and last year I wrote a little bit about the after-math of having an early baby.

Anyway - I've just spent the best part of the morning looking for photos of me and Coco - I have a ridiculous number of photos of my children; photos of us together are a little harder to find... but here we are, seven years of me & my girl.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Being the Tooth Fairy

We are getting familiar with the tooth fairy here.
Coco has lost three teeth so far - although the tooth fairy has only visited twice; the second tooth was lost in a suspected swallowing incident at another child's birthday party.  I suggested to Coco that she wrote a note to the tooth fairy explaining the situation, but she never got around to it. I wasn't going to push it.

I find the deceptiveness of this fairy-lady (like her colleague Father Christmas) quite annoying. On the one hand I don't want to be a boring, practical and say-it-how-it-is parent, but on the other I don't want to be actively deceiving my children, making them believe in something that doesn't exist and basically lying to them. Especially in the face of direct questioning.
I think Coco, at nearly seven, understands this - she actually doesn't often ask direct questions and smiles at me (in what I choose to interperet as a bit of a knowing way) when I throw the question back at her with a "Well, how do you think the tooth fairy knows to come and look under your pillow today?"

The whole process gets more disturbing when I have to find cash and creep into her room late at night. Is it a bit wrong that I feel a slight thrill that I might be caught out being the tooth fairy? There's not a chance, our girl really does slumber very well, yet still I have this frisson - a feeling that makes me vaguely giddy and takes me back to some unmentionable moments from my past. I don't breath as I sneak the tooth out from under her pillow, only allowing myself to inhale again once I'm back on the other side of her bedroom door. Then I find myself standing holding a tooth. Coco was kind enough to put the last one in a bag - not for her squeamish mother of course, but I still appreciated it... But I stand there... "what should I do with it?" I can't have it discovered. Even though I don't think she believes and I don't want to lie.
I stuffed the bagged one in a pot high up on some shelves, but it's not a good hiding place. I need a better one (and it's dangerously close to her letter to Father Christmas from last year come to think of it). Maybe I should booby-trap the whole zone. I remember discovering a slightly gruesome little mother-of-pearl pot of baby teeth on my mothers dressing table once, like little relics to childhood. Little did I know at the time how much angst baby-teeth cause parents, both on their arrival and their departure.

And as for the going rate for a tooth? I think I went in way too high with a nice round shiny pound coin. I got a bit over-excited, but I've made my bed... or maybe when she gets 10p next time I could just shrug my shoulders, it's not my fault; it's up to the Tooth Fairy (she's capitalised now). Although, there have already been a few statements thrown around about the tooth fairies favoritism - she obviously rather likes one of Coco's school friends who got a whole list of gifts.

I need to be more sensible about it all. More considered and definitely a bit more grown up.
A good start would be to actually BOOK THAT DENTIST APPOINTMENT  for her which I've been meaning to do for ages.
Why is it that I put off the simplest of tasks? Especially in this modern internet age where you can simply to a website like Toothpick and just click on a button and it's done.
Then the only thing I have left to do bribe Coco into brushing her teeth a little more thoroughly and eat a few less sticky things.
Maybe I'll tell her the Tooth Fairy won't visit again if she doesn't. That will work.

Toothpick kindly sponsored me to write this post - all thoughts are my own.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Two Photos Seperated by 378 Days

You know how time plays these tricks? Going by so slowly and yet so fast?

I took this photo the other day - it's dark and quite dull (except in that it features these three people I love). Then by accident I discovered that I'd taken almost the exact same photo a year ago.

Years are slipping by and and in some ways they seem indistinguishable... Life is a funny old thing.
That's all.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Styling the Seasons: November

The light today has been bright and low, casting shadows so early. It definitely feels like winter. I tried my best to capture it hitting the mantlepiece in the kitchen for this months #stylingtheseasons challenge.

I missed doing an October post - so I've added some mini squash to this months challenge. I got these yesterday (unfortunately bought, rather than freshly picked from the garden).
Hugh bought the gyp last week for us to spruce up the kitchen for our bonfire night gathering and I made the garland from some of the left over of the leaves we collected at Kew a couple of weeks, the rest are piled up in a box in the kitchen, gently curling and crisping up. 

If you've been here before you'll know I love a bandwagon - so the observer books are a nod to my blogging and instagram friends. The insects one was part of an invitation sent by Katy & Charlotte to join the styling the seasons event at Liberty, the architecture one was the only one of many we used to have that my parents could find at their house. What happened to the others is a mystery. I may have to do some loft exploration when I next visit their house.

Feathers and fur cones and beautiful sticks and leaves. I've really enjoyed out autumn foraging this year and I like the seasonal feel of the mantlepiece - next week it will be back to it's normal clutter chaos I expect - for the moment that is all out of shot on the kitchen table. 

Next month it will all be about the C word. Better get making...

Monday 10 November 2014

Last Week: 7 things from 7 days (Nov 3rd)

Considering I was house bound for the majority of last week I'm amazed I've managed to find so much to report on... but you know, online shopping, instagram and the like keep me very busy...

1. Last Monday started early, I was in hospital by 7am... I had a pretty straight-forward knee operation which I've been putting off for ages, but as is so often the case it really wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be...

2. I bought myself some pj's from The Bright Company (their first adult size pj's) to aid my recovery, *ahem*. Considering I've been sleeping in a rotation of the same two t-shirts since I was about 18 this felt like quite a radical move.

3. Yesterday I managed to hobble along to Liberty to do some seasonal crafting with a great bunch of fellow bloggers... watch this space for multiple Liberty print crafts in the near future. I was very inspired by all fabrics, loads bits & bobs (technical term!) from new online shop The Homemakery & mostly by the other people around the table who were all busy creating lots of Christmassy pretty things.
If you have the time make a cuppa and have a browse around these blogs - lots of creative women; Lotts & Lots, Apartment Apothecary, Growing Spaces, Lapin Blu, Lobster & Swan, Circle of Pine Trees, Little Green Shed, The Villa on Mount Pleasant, Geoffrey & Grace, Daisy Fay, Hannah in the House, Made by Molu

4. I was inspired by Charlotte (& her new blog -  it's so good to have her back in blog-land) to buy some marbling inks for the children (honest!) and we did a load of marbling on Saturday morning - (with me still in my new jim-jams). The results were great and to say they LOVED it would be an understatement.

5. Coco had her last night in her toddler bed (and Henry is his modified cot - yep, he's nearly four and still in a cot - be it with the side taken off) we finally bit-the-bullet and got them bunk-beds. I think I'm as excited as they are... also means we need to do a full room makeover, naturally.

6. The final toffee apple! We did it and they were delicious. I couldn't resist cutting a sprig from my apple tree today to set up this shot though... I'm just a faffer like that.

7. And finally, a proud parent moment. Coco announced on Saturday that she wanted to make a stew all by herself. Why she decided it would be a stew? Who knows... but we looked in recipe books together and she chose to make a beef and ale pie. And she did it, pretty much all by herself. In fact she got a bit annoyed when anyone tried to help her; except with cutting onions, she was quite happy for me to cut the onions after she got teary and cut herself with a sharp knife! I thought she'd quit right then (after about 5 minutes) but she persevered and the pie was delicious. She was rightfully pretty pleased with herself too.

Friday 7 November 2014

Feathers. Just Feathers

I seem to be seeing feathers everywhere at the moment and I'm getting a bit obsessed. Instagram is full of them, as is blog land - Lou made a lovely feather garland for Seeds and Stitches, Heather made her daughter a feather crown. I (temporarily) got a feather tattoo.

We popped into the natural history museum the other day after school (as you do... there are upsides to living in the big smoke) and even though we were in the Volcano galleries the one 'fact' I came away with is that flamingo feathers are only pink due to the algea that they eat which is toxic and so seeps out and basically dyes their feathers pink. They had some flamingo feathers on display to illustrate this point. Which is basically the only reason I read it.

I want some feathers (and ideally not just pigeon feathers - which are the only ones the children seem to find)!

Feather Wall Art - Via Pinterest
Watercolours from SnoogsandWilde on Etsy
Fake Tattoo by Jen Mussari available from Tatly
Vintage Arrows - found on Etsy

Top image is a free downloadable from The Graphics Fairy.

Thursday 6 November 2014

Green Leaves for Winter... Thinking about House Plants

Despite trying at various times, I've never managed to get on with house plants. My green-fingered sister practically grew a jungle on the 17th floor of a tower block, meanwhile I was struggling to keep one peace lily alive. Well, it did stay alive for a long time actually, it just never really looked very good, and I'm the type of person that needs things to look good... it's just the way I am.

However back in Design Week I went along to the New Craftsman shop in Mayfair (thanks to a good tip off from Ruth of A Planned Adventure) and I snapped some photos of their collection of house plants and since then I've been thinking how I'd actually quite like to try again and have a few house plants.

A couple of weeks after I took these (above) I wandered into Abigail Ahern's shop in Islington.

Now here's a bit of a confession: I quite like fake flowers. Those fake ones that look so real that you need to touch them so you can feel the truth. The flowers in Abigail's shop are like that - and she had an amazing collection of fake house plants - the ferns and sedums particularly caught my eye.

So the long and the short of it is that I'm tempted.  I could achieve a look I like with no maintenance (except dusting, which I admit is quite a downside). I know where I'd house my collection - it wouldn't be too obvious, they'd be out of reach and would hide another eyesore so would serve a purpose in that way.
Have I gone mad? Or is it ok to want to fake it?

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Planning Bonfire Night

remember remember the 5th of november - bonfire night party - alexis at somethingimade.co.uk

We are in party planning mode as we are having a few of our neighbours over for a bonfire night party this week.
I've just lost a few hours on Pinterest making plans...

Bonfire night party planning - food - www.somethingimade.co.uk

Now my mouth is watering... we are going to make pulled pork (image via Delicious Magazine) with a nice crunchy slaw. We'll be using the our normal Jamie recipe to make mulled wine (image is of mulled cider which I might have to try another time).

For sweet treats I've finally convinced Hugh that we should make toffee apples - this amazing toffee apples image is via Miss Food Wise - I love the idea of using real apple tree twigs for sticks, I think we'll try the salted caramel toffee apples recipe from the latest issue of Simple Things Magazine, and if time allows I might get around to trying this treacle tarts recipe (via Bakingdom).

Before Coco went to bed this evening she went and delivered our invitations - we modified our board of autumn treasure from our trip to Kew last week and I added some type in...

Bonfire night party invitation - www.somethingimade.co.uk

I must say, having initially been so negative about the onset of autumn and winter I've actually really enjoyed the last few weeks... half term was great, Halloween bought an almost carnival type feel to our road and now we've got bonfire night and I'm tentatively starting to think about Christmas... although of course we've got Coco's birthday to plan first. Yep, autumn you're not so bad after all. 

PS I just had a little trip down memory lane reading my post from after our bonfire night party two years ago... time feels like it's going so fast. Too fast!

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Autumn Splendour

Yesterday we reveled in the sunshine at Kew Gardens - a full on day of romping, foraging for autumn colour, tree climbing (Coco) and tea drinking (Me).
We were completely exhausted when we got home...

Today we're being autumnal in a different way, keeping cosy indoors (although my shopping list is beside me and means we'll have to venture outdoors at some point...)
With friends around the house is being turned upside-down - children are playing trains and building indoor dens (and right now there are two small boys pretending to be cats at my feet) but it's giving me a bit of peace to create this image of yesterdays treasures (something I really wanted to do - a blatant copy of something I saw by Naomigal on instagram).
I'm waiting for Coco to come and discover it and make her own arrangment...

In the meantime; some further snaps from yesterday.

Looking up to red leaves...

Coco tried to catch a falling leaf, lots of close calls but she didn't quite manage it.

I couldn't get enough of the low sun...

Running girls

... and this total show off tree.
I kept thinking I wish I knew how to capture it all better.

I've got two days left to do my 'styling the seasons' for October... I think these leaves will be featured somewhere!