Saturday, 20 December 2014

Sew far, sew good

I really don't know how I've done it, but with just five days to go, I have completed all but one of my Christmas makes. I would have had the full house, but my mum wasn't able to relinquish her crochet hooks for long enough for me to measure and design a holder that holds her hooks snugly.

I have finished gifts for my friends' babies, pyjama eaters for F & D, finished off stockings that I started last year, made a fabric advent calendar, and as previously mentioned, I have hacked a gazillion t-shirts to pieces to cobble them back together in the form of a memory quilt for my sister. All this in the wake of an absentee husband, and a frankly staggering tidal wave of infant snot.

Looking back on each of the projects undertaken, I'm really proud of what I have achieved, but also rather nervous that they "don't look like much". The race blanket is the best example of this: I'd estimate that about 30 hours have gone into its creation.  It's not just the act of sewing (which given the shifting t-shirt material was complex enough), it's also the time spent dashing to and from the haberdashery to buy material / talk through ideas / go back to the drawing board / buy more materials / use their super-duper table to lay-out the final design etc etc, and all it looks like is some t-shirt panels sewn to some fleecy material. Don't get me wrong, it's all wonderfully symmetrical and tidily sewn, but I still fret that the end product doesn't reflect the effort. Still, my sister is definitely no ingrate, and I'm sure she will look past all the little imperfections that I see 😍 

I've also learned a lot about using a sewing machine. Having struggled to make baby blankets for F & D this time last year, I've only just learned that I was using totally the wrong needle. I thought they only came in one size & type. I'm not sure whether to think of myself as a rank amateur, or just plain pillock.

Anyway, if I can summon the energy, or even find the time around a mountain of gift wrapping, I really should crack on with refurbing the furniture currently languishing in the garage. I'll let you know how I get on.  In the meantime, here are pics of the projects that I can share 😃 I'll post photos of the other stuff once the recipients have opened them. No spoilers here!!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Barbara Cartland has just left the building

It's been a rough few weeks.  M has been in Bangalore on business, and D has had just about every kiddie sickness known to humanity - inflamed inner ear, cold, hacking cough, yucky nappies, and (my favourite) conjunctivitis.  Despite having had lots of support from my parents (and remotely from M), it's been a VERY trying and rather lonely time, and my natural emotional buoyancy has taken an absolute battering.

All of which explains why I was so looking forward to yesterday's session with an image consultant.  I am a tricky devil to buy gifts for, and being pregnant last year just exacerbated the problem - "no chocolates, booze, interesting cheese, or clothes please!"  M put his thinking cap on, and bought me a 'colour and make-up experience' with Colour Me Beautiful for Christmas, and I have to say the gift was simply inspired.  I've had nearly a whole year to build up a sense of anticipation, and after the aforementioned recent couple of weeks, I desperately needed a few hours of totally indulgent me time.

Lizann, the CMB consultant I selected, was amazing.  We spent over two hours discussing which colours & shades suit me best, how to put colours together for best effect, adapting my colours to reflect the seasons, my face shape and its impact on hairstyles / sunglasses etc, ending with a much needed make-up lesson.  My usual approach to make-up is to panic buy with a specific event in mind (wedding, party etc), use it once, and throw it away when I go to use it again in 12 months time only to find it has dried out or gone manky.  Lizann managed to achieve the holy grail and showed me how to put together a look that I'd feel comfortable using pretty much every day, and more importantly can apply in less than 10 minutes.

Prior to the session, I had regularly been that person to whom people say "are you alright?  You look tired" even if I'd just had 12 hours of blissfully unbroken sleep.  I now know this is because I was wearing clothing / colours that only served to accentuate my black bags.  As we played with colour swatches, it was easy to see how wrong I have sometimes been getting it.  On the plus side, my favourite jumper perfectly complies with my most complimentary shades. YAY!
It also turns out that the reason I'd hated wearing make-up and was convinced that wearing it just makes me look like Barbara Cartland is because, you guessed it, I was wearing completely the wrong shades.  So the time spent at various make-up counters asking the tangoed experts there for their help was completely wasted.

It's not cheap, but by jingo it's worth it.  I left Lizann feeling capable of buying clothes that will truly suit me, which is an entirely new concept to me, and I am actively looking forward to going shopping to gradually replace the worst miscreants in my wardrobe.  I'm ready to unleash my inner glamourpuss!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Guilt, the great motivator

It's been a very eventful week.  D has just started at nursery, and in an effort to assuage my guilt, I have hit the haberdashery and sewing machine with a vengeance. 
I should point out that D is an unbelievably contented and unflappable baby, and seems to have brought these traits to bear in his approach to nursery, namely fixing me with a look that says "are you still here?" at drop-off times, but that doesn't stop me feeling like crap for leaving him there.
My husband and I have been over the justification behind putting D in nursery until he (hubbie) is blue in the face, and could probably recite the conversation in his sleep, namely:
  1. It's an excellent nursery
  2. F came on in leaps and bounds when surrounded by children of the same age, and we would hope for the same for D
  3. I need some freedom and time to figure out what I'm going to do going forward.
But the devil on my shoulder keeps murmuring "You don't even have a job to go to, so why are you offloading your child!   You're just being LAZY....." and so on.

In an effort to stave off my paranoia that subconsciously all I want to do is sit on the sofa with a box of Milk Tray and watch Jeremy Kyle, I've really gotten down to business with my Christmas projects.  This week, I have taught myself applique, learned that I really can sew something other than straight lines, and as a result completed F & D's pajama eaters (which for those of us born in the 70's is a new-fangled term for a pajama case).  The results are below, and once again I have outperformed my own expectations.

I'd love to know what you think!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Christmas is gonna hafta start early!!

Shit. It's suddenly occurred to me that we are racing through October, and I have a tonne of stuff to make, yes make, for Christmas. 
Firstly there are several presents for various kiddies that I can't really talk about in this particular post because it'll ruin a surprise, a couple of pyjama eaters (the new-fangled term for a pyjama case) for F & D, not to mention the memory quilt that my sister has asked me to put together for her out of her various marathon and long-race t-shirts.
Funny thing is that while I am a tad anxious about the mountain of sewing that awaits, I'm also really enjoying the planning / preparation, as well as figuring out the fiddly little details & finishing touches.
Seems my former life as a project manager has translated nicely into a love of a domestic project (and no, I'm not talking about my husband. Or at least not in this instance)!!
I've also got some battered old furniture waiting in the garage to be refurbed which ideally I'd like done and on show before Christmas, but if you'll pardon the pun, I think I'd better cut my cloth in accordance with the time I have available. 
Obvs I'll post pics of the above as soon as I am able.  Now if you'll excuse me, I need to knock up a Gantt chart to ensure I don't cock this up. 😉

Friday, 10 October 2014

What goes around comes around

One of my mum's favourite stories from my childhood involves me standing with her in the queue for a supermarket check-out and asking at the top of my voice "Mummy! Why does that old lady have a beaaaard?!?"
Clearly I've not changed that much over the years, and the Board of Directors that govern my brain to mouth synapses are pretty much on permanent sabbatical, all of which is helpful now that karma has come back to bite me in the arse.
F has taken to stopping in the middle of the pavement and yelling "Mummy! I've got an itchy bottom!!" all the while having a very public excavate. 
Not to be outdone, D's favourite party trick is now to thrust his finger up his nose up to the second knuckle, take it out again, clap a lot (just in case someone wasn't looking), laugh loudly (ditto), and repeat the procedure all over again.
I may (re)turn to drink.

The great tat vs. treasure debate

This is the first time we have been on holiday with a child old enough to have her own pocket money, and also a say in how it is spent.  This thrust M and I into what became known as "the great tat vs. treasure debate", i.e. should we stand by and let F spend her money on whatever takes her fancy, regardless of how low-grade it is and thus how quickly it will fall to pieces.  Obviously we would steer her away from anything truly crappy or dangerous, but other than that we decided to pretty much give her free reign over her own euros.  Which is how we ended up spending time pawing through a box of loom band bracelets at the local market looking for two that F liked for 1€.  You can buy a million loom bands for £1 at home, yet F opted to spend some of her money on a couple of bracelets that are already perishing.  Thus proving that this adults tat is her 3 year old's treasure.

Also, in case it's of interest, we stayed at the most wonderful property in Brittany called L'Esprit de Campagne.  The gite has a fully enclosed (thus child-proof) and heated private pool, all the baby paraphernalia that a parent could possibly require, swings / slide etc, large gardens, and a full range of UK satellite TV channels.  The owners were also extremely helpful & provide a welcome pack with bread, milk, butter, tea & coffee to get you started.  We've had the most restful holiday ever, and couldn't recommend this place highly enough:

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Freddie Mercury fan club has a new member

I suspect this might polarise people, but I largely believe that there is no topic that should be out of bounds for discussion with the little people in our lives, providing it is done in the right way and in a context that they can understand. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule, but I made up my mind pretty early on not to shun any topics that F (or in the future D) wants to talk about.  Which is how we got on to the topic of death.

F has a passion of Freddie Mercury (or Freddie Merclear as she calls him) that has taken us all by surprise. We can't make the 5 minute drive to her nursery without her begging for We Will Rock You or Radio Ga Ga, and if you just need 10 minutes of quality time with a hot cup of tea all you need to do is play Queen's set on Live Aid & she is mesmerised.  You can see where I am going with this - F wanted to meet Freddie. At which point, I explained that a long time ago (i.e. before she was born) Freddie had been very poorly, and the doctors at the hospital couldn't make him better, and sadly he died.  She asked a few questions, and generally dealt with the whole thing very well. Not much else was said about this until my mother-in-law popped round only to be told "Nonie, you'd better sit down. I have bad news. Freddie Merclear's dead". After I packed away the defibrillator - being told to sit for bad news by a 3.5 yr old does tend to get the heart racing - my m-i-l and I spent some time assuring F that Freddie would have definitely been her friend were he still alive today (funny what they care about).

All in all, hubbie and I are grateful for her desire to listen to Queen over her previous preference for ACDC.  These days we spend a lot less time creatively changing the song titles and lyrics to be appropriate for a little girl to sing!