Monday, 14 April 2014

Book Buddies Review: Around the World We Go!

Around the World We Go!

Written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Christine Tappin

This book couldn't have arrived at a better time for us. We are due to go on our first foreign holiday with our daughter in June. We're off to France for a week & I've been talking to my daughter about other languages & countries. We've been discussing how French people say 'bonjour' for hello & my daughter has been absorbing all this with great interest.

When "Around the World We Go!" arrived delivered from Parragon Books, I was pleased to have a book with which I could continue our discussions about other countries and languages. Very young children need the solid base of home and the family unit and they don't need or want to look much further than that. I think as children get older, they begin to realise there is a world out there to be discovered. My daughter is at the age where she loves to look at maps & books about the world. She is also interested in space, planets and rockets.

"Around the World We Go!" is a charming, easy to read book with beautiful illustrations. My daughter's knowledge of the wider world is growing, but some of the concepts can be hard to grasp, books like "Around the World We Go!" offer a gentle introduction to this subject. The repetition and gentle sing-song nature of the book will appeal to pre-school readers. The concept of difference and similarity between different races and countries across the globe is dealt with in a clear and direct way. It offers a good starting point for discussing these issues further with your child.

My daughter likes looking at images of the Earth, so the page with the globe, a rocket & a satellite is a particular favourite of hers. She created her own copy of that page & she often goes back to the book, lays it out on floor & draws the image of our planet. "Around the World We Go!" has struck a cord with her and often that is the sign of a good illustrated children's book. Her final image has a few extra additions, like Father Christmas & Rudolf (because he flies over the Earth), but her imagination has been fired up by Tappin's wonderful illustrations. Anything that inspires a child to be creative is good news to me!

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Parragon Books in order to write the Book Buddies review. All views expressed here are my own.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Desire to sew vs Lack of time

Every week I watch the Great British Sewing Bee on BBC 2 and I have serious sewing envy. I would love to sew my own clothes. Increasingly I don't like off-the-peg items & my clothes shopping is often done at the same time as I pick up the weekly shop in the supermarket. Don't get me wrong, some supermarkets are making some great clothes & I wouldn't have anything remotely up to date without them. But, I also know how satisfying it is to make your own clothes. Something that fits you, is sewn well & constructed using a fabric you adore.

I have a cupboard full of fabric, most of it vintage. In fact I have a cupboard, a huge trunk, another cupboard, a large leather storage box and a number of plastic boxes filled with vintage fabric. I would love to turn just a small percentage of that fabric into clothes...but I never seem to have the time.

I'm sure most women with a child (or more than one child) under the age of five know how hard it is to carve time out for themselves. Even though my daughter is a great sleeper and goes to bed at 7.30(ish) every night & I have the evenings to the time I've done the dishwasher, put all the washing away, tidied up the detritus of the day & sorted out any paperwork I need to catch up on, I'm ready to fall asleep. One contestant on the Great British Sewing Bee merrily said she gets her sewing machine out at midnight "when everyone is in bed" so that she can get some sewing done in peace. Really? I am fast asleep at midnight most nights & the thought of starting sewing a complicated garment at that time just does not appeal to me.

My Mum used to sew a lot when I was younger, and she had two children, with just a 22 months gap between us. She made clothes for herself and for me, particularly from Clothkits. I do take heart from the fact she recently told me that she didn't make things when we were at a pre-school age, perhaps I'm being to unrealistic to expect to have the headspace to sew when my daughter is so young. But, I know lots of women do find time to sew, in fact I know lots of women who run handmade businesses who make lots & lots of things and juggle that around their families. I take my (shop-bought) hat off to them. I think my time management skills must be lacking...

I feel the desire to be creative and make something is so strong sometimes that I can feel it in my fingertips...but very often my tiredness takes over and I slump in front of the TV in the evening. Then I feel bad. especially if I'm watching people whizz together an outfit on the Sewing Bee. My husband says it's the dark evenings we have in the UK, they sap your desire to get motivated in the colder months. He probably has a point & I do tend to have a burst of energy around Spring time.

So I have found this vintage pattern and I have selected some fabric. That's about as far as I've got. It's sat in my office upstairs, looking at me every time I go in there. It's crying out to be pinned, cut and sewn. I'm determined to make it. I really am.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Gower holiday: part one

We're just back from another amazing holiday on the Gower coast. We first went back in October 2013 and fell in love with the stunning coastline. This time we stayed at Langland Bay, in a beautiful cottage overlooking the sea. It was amazing watching the weather change over the coastline & hearing the waves crashing onto the shore at night.

We packed lots of stuff into our four day holiday: digging on the beach, fishing with nets in rock pools, a coastal footpath walk, visited Clyne Gardens in Swansea, climbed a tower, drank hot chocolate in the sun & collected special rocks on the beach.

We did so many things I'm going to split the photos over two blog posts! These photos are of Langland Bay & our fun on the beach.

I'm linking up with the lovely Country Kids at Coombe Mill for this blog post

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Great Interior Design Challenge

I've won a prize! After taking part in a Twitter competition, my copy of the "The Great Interior Design Challenge" arrived last week. A few weeks ago I saw a tweet posted by @HabitatUK offering a copy of the #GIDC book if you could correctly identify the sofa featured on the front cover. I had a look through the

Habitat website (no great chore, I could look at it for quite some hours) and found the right sofa & posted my answer. I didn't think anymore about it & was extremely pleased to get an email saying that I'd won.

I really enjoyed the series and it has inspired me to be more adventurous and stamp a more individual feel on our home. It was also a great lesson in transforming a room on a very tight budget. Most people usually think "expensive" when they think of interior design, but the #GIDC series proved that with a bit of imagination & elbow grease, you can have contemporary and interesting design for minimal expenditure.

The book couldn't have arrived at a better time for us. We've lived in our house for just over a year & we've been redecorating virtually every room since we moved in. We've finally made a start on the room I was dreading the most...the kitchen. We've lived with the previous owners grubby, wonky & very dark tiles for the past fifteen months. It was time for them to go. The tiler who removed the old tiles said it was the worst tiling job he'd ever we were glad to see the back of them. The previous owner had tiled all the way to the ceiling and used a combination of lopsided white tiles above jet black tiles at the bottom. We don't have a big kitchen and the black tiles sucked all the light our of the room.

We've had fun choosing some beautiful new tiles. Whilst we loved the vivid yellow of the Mexican rustic wall tiles, we decided to go with a glossy sea green colour. I can't wait to see them on the wall...although bare walls are an improvement on the tiles that were there before.

I've already read the chapter on sanding wood floors in the #GIDC book and I'm hoping to make a start on the dining room and conservatory floors once the weather warms up & we can have some windows open. It looks like incredibly dusty work. We're toying with the idea of painting the floorboards white, but I think I prefer the warm tones of natural wood with a clear lacquer or varnish.

The #GIDC series also introduced me to chalk paint. Lots of the contestants used drab, second hand furniture and transformed it with a coat of paint. I am now a chalk paint convert & have painted an antique wardrobe. It now houses my vintage fabric collection out in the hallway. I've also bought a dresser to house my vintage china collection. Currently it is in the dining area, it remains unpainted whilst we complete the kitchen. But as soon as I get time, I will get the chalk paint out. At £46, it was a absolute bargain on Ebay. It just needs some TLC and it will look amazing.

I've also moved my computer down to the dining area next to the kitchen. This was partly out of necessity because my broadband signal wouldn't reach upstairs to my office. But, I'm happy with the way it looks and I'm going to hang a "Tiger Who Came to Tea" print on the wall above my desk. It is one of my daughter's favourite books and as I have aspirations to be a children's author, I hope it will inspire me every time I look up from the computer screen.

The Great Interior Design Challenge


The Great Interior Design Challenge book

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Vintage Love: scrap bundles and fabric pieces

I'm having a fabric clear-out!

First up is a fab selection of vintage fabric scraps.

Perfect for patchwork, mixed media art, scrapbooking, crafting projects, collages, dolls clothes.

Beautiful, bright vintage fabrics with eye popping prints & colours.

Each bundle weighs over 170g and contains pieces in all shapes, sizes and colours, one is made up of orange tones and the other is in shades of blue and green.

A real treat for vintage fabric fans!

Bundle of vintage fabric scraps patchwork, scrapbook, sewing, orange tones

Bundle of vintage fabric scraps patchwork, scrapbook, sewing, blue tones

Next up is a large piece vintage abstract, crazy, wild print fabric in yellow, orange, black.

Perfect for dressmaking or other craft projects. Bold colour palettes, large scale abstract prints & ornate accents are all over the catwalk this season.

Large piece vintage abstract, crazy, wild print fabric in yellow, orange, black

I'm also selling two pieces of this funky chiffon/sheer fabric

In fab 70s colours of chocolate brown, sunset orange and bright yellow

Very disco, very Studio 54!

Vintage sheer chiffon floral tropical fabric in orange, yellow and brown over 2m

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Daffodils and rainy day activities

I haven't blogged for ages...we've all been poorly recently. My daughter had a temperature of 103 which is always scary, thankfully the paracetamol and ibuprofen kicked in and her fever calmed down. Turns out she had a nasty ear infection which has been resolved with antibiotics. I always find that illness knocks our day-to-day life out of shape for quite a while...particularly when I go down with same illness a few days later.

Currently my brain feels like a huge lump of cotton wool and I haven't had the energy or motivation to blog. But, when I became a Mum I soon realised that illness does not cut the mustard with children and you have to plough on even when you feel like crawling back into bed!

So we've been hand painting, cutting and sticking and admiring our daffodils planted back in Autumn.

Illness has meant we haven't ventured much further than our own back garden. But with the sun making an appearance and signs of Spring popping up here & there, it's one of the nicest places to be.

My daughter and I planted some bulbs back in September last year. They started to burst through the soil just before Christmas and are growing bigger everyday. Hopefully they will be flowering soon. I thing Spring bulbs are one of the most welcome sights after a horrible, wet Winter.

Weather and illness has dictated that we've spent a lot of time indoors recently. We've done lots of hand painting and getting the 'craft jar' out. Both activities involve lots of mess and fun, which we're big fans of in our house!

Hopefully we can stay lurgy-free for a while now and we'll be out and about more often...roll on Spring!

I'm linking up with the lovely Country Kids Linky at Coombe Mill

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Chalk it up

Curiosity has got the better of me and I have succumbed to the chalk paint craze.

I've heard it mentioned in lots of blog posts, twitter discussions and on several episodes of the Great Interior Design Challenge on BBC2. I know that the Annie Sloan brand is the chalk paint of choice, so I took a trip to my nearest stockists and bought some paint and wax. I just had to see what the fuss is all about...

Lock, Stock and Sparrow is situated on the edge of Weston-super-Mare and it is well worth a visit. If I had a bottom-less bank account I would fill my home with their lovely stuff. They stock a mixture of restored, painted furniture and some pieces in their stripped-back, natural form. There are many quirky pieces, all solid and fantastic quality. Their sturdy selection of furniture makes flat pack stuff look a bit know that each piece is an investment and will last for many years.

The guy we spoke to was very helpful, didn't rush us and showed us lots of pieces of furniture painted in a number of Annie Sloan shades, plus some Farrow & Ball colours.

I'm going to try the paint out tomorrow. My Gran has given me an antique wardrobe that has seen better days. Using chalk paint is supposed to be quite addictive once you start using it. I'm already eyeing up pieces of tired furniture that could do with a I'm looking at lots of furniture on ebay that I could give a paint-job to. I'm going to need a bigger house at this rate!

Lock, Stock and Sparrow


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