And in a Jingle, it’s all Done!

It has been ages since I blogged anything – 3 months, WordPress reliably informs me! It’s not because I didn’t want to but circumstances pushed it to the bottom of the pile. You see, our previously wonderful sleeper of a child stopped sleeping. Combine disrupted sleep with work and said child getting ill and suddenly you find that it’s an effort to get anything much done other than the necessities. And then I joined a choir and tried to swim once a week. Some crafting got done but blogging about it was of the lowest priority.

Anyway, with ET no longer ill and once again sleeping through the night, the New Year seemed as good a time as any to get going again. I’ve got some unfinished projects to complete, a number of projects to blog about, a choir performance to prepare for (I’ve missed a few too many rehearsals for my liking) and I might even try the swimming again.

With it having just been Christmas, I thought I’d share some Christmas crafting with you all. I could drip them out one by one but I expect nobody will be interested in Christmas crafts in three weeks time, so I’ll get them all done now! I’ll present them in order of relevance!

First off, the Advent calendar! I’ve wanted to make one for a while and with ET now old enough to understand the concept of opening a door each day (although he’d prefer to open three!) this year seemed like a good time. That was until I left it until the last minute. I decided to try my hand at decoupage. I bought a wooden Advent calendar base from Hobbycraft and some decoupage papers and glue and got started. I enjoyed that this was not a precise art and enjoyed tearing up paper into the right size to fit. Some parts of it turned out well (the large box for example) but overall I wasn’t all that happy with it. The doors stuck terribly, which wasn’t great for a toddler, through a combination of the base not being that well made and the decoupage adding thickness. The shape made it quite tricky to get into the corners and I’m not sure of my choice of papers in the end. However, I gave it a try and it served a purpose for this year but I may try something else next year – and try to finish it on time rather than 6 days into Advent like this year. At least ET had not clue when Advent should begin so I could get away with it!

Next up were the Christmas cards. I’ve made as many Christmas cards as I can most years for a long while now. This year I wanted to get ET to help. So back in November I sat him down with some green paper and finger paint and sort of let him get on with it. Well, we did supervise him of course – what I mean is that I wasn’t prescriptive about what the painting should look like! I cut Christmas tree shapes out of these paintings and made the cards you see below. Simple but effective. And my Little Man gets his first artistic mention.

Preparations of Christmas gifts started a few months back in our house, when we decided to produce homemade gifts for all the adults using produce from our newly acquired garden and from the hedgerows around where we live. I’ll confess that Mr Stepherella was largely responsible for the food production (he’s better at it than me) and I took the lead on the decorative aspects! Anyway, we jointly made spiced redcurrant jelly, bramble jam, sloe gin, port and blackberry truffles, gingerbread, lavender bags and dried rosemary and bay leaves. Some of the gifts got presented in the manner shown below and we were pretty happy with the outcome!

And there you have it! It all worked out quite well in the end although it all took a bit of work. But we enjoyed giving gifts that we’d “chosen” ourselves and that we’d put a bit of work into producing. I expect there are some other lovely homemade gifts out on the blogosphere – I just haven’t had time to check. Along with writing my blog, reading others has also taken rather a back seat!

Anyway, all that remains today is to wish you a Happy New Year! Any New Year’s resolutions? None here – except to try and get back to normal!!

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In which I turn my hand to multiple crafts and demonstrate how I won’t be the next GBBO contestent

So…blog night came and went this week without me posting anything. It wasn’t because I didn’t have anything to tell you about but because I didn’t want to blog about gifts before I’d given them to the person in question! In fact, on Wednesday evening I was still putting the finishing touches to things.

September is always a busy month for birthdays. We kicked it off by taking ET to his first ever proper birthday party last weekend. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by it all but did manage to have some fun. His highlights were running around wearing a super hero cape and playing with the toys after all the other children had gone! It was the party of the children of one of our Uni friends (I can’t quite believe it’s 19 years since we met!) and also her birthday – so I got to cardmaking. And these were the results.

Then this week, it was the birthday of one of my colleagues. I started a new job when I returned from maternity leave (as we moved house) and I have been very fortunate to job share with someone who has become a friend. Anyway, I wanted to make something for her…and I thought I’d attempt to make a cake for us all to celebrate her birthday at work. Well…I made a cake and it tasted fine but it wasn’t really baking’s finest hour and Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry wouldn’t have been all that impressed. It didn’t rise all that well (I was using Spelt flour) and the bottom stuck to the tin (so much for non-stick tins). I was not that impressed myself and didn’t take a picture though it has all been eaten at work so I guess it can’t have been that bad!!

For the birthday present I made a tote bag. I made it to fit A4 paper and created a flat bottom to allow a bit of organisation of the contents. I’ve never blogged about any of the tote bags I’ve ever made so when I say I did it differently this time, it doesn’t mean anything to anyone! But the main new things were to allow the external fabric to meet the lining fabric an inch to the inside. I topstitched along the edge where the two fabrics join to hold the two layers in place. I also attached the handles to the outside using the “square with a cross in it” method (is there a name for this) whereas usually I would have inserted them between the exterior and lining. The fabric you’ll see is that which I made my Betty dress from – I have been saving the leftovers for some lovely projects like this! With hindsight, it probably could have done with being a little bit bigger but on the other hand it never hurts to have a range of different sized bags! Anyway – here it is. Although, I apologise for the photos. It was evening when I took them and the lighting wasn’t great and I probably should have used a different lens! But anyway, you get the idea!

Love Birds

Among our son’s first social engagements have been three weddings this summer! He has attended them all in style, even if his mother didn’t! So among my first crafting projects since Little ET arrived on the scene were the creation of three wedding cards. I made them all on a theme – unfortunately, the first had to be sent before I could photograph it. However, here are the other two!

I don’t know about others but I always find it hard to find nice wedding cards on the high street and historically often ended up buying blank cards instead. The cards I find are either too cheesy or too mushy! I wanted my cards to represent the couple getting married and to congratulate them without being too obvious. I came up with my Love Bird design some time back and thought it was about time I blogged about it. Now having made three cards in the same vein, this seemed the perfect time! (Well, that’s if I can manage to write more than a sentence without ET demanding my attention!).

The birds were produced using my die cutter (the best thing ever for card making – though I still don’t quite get how it works!). The backing papers were all from my substantial paper stash, which gives my fabric stash a run for its money! The ribbons were also from the stash. Basically, I decided on three colour themes and pulled out all the papers in those colours. I then mixed and matched for each one until I had papers that complemented each other and a ribbon to match! The harder thing was deciding which colour to give to which couple – I hope I got it right!

Anyway, homemade cards for summer weddings. What do you think?

Congratulations all over to our newly wedded friends!

Hand Crafted Baby

Something that happens when you have a new baby – you get lots of cards and gifts. People are so generous and everything is super cute! We received far too many things to share them all with you but we’ve loved them all – I’m in the process of preparing the thank you cards, along with all the other crafting projects I have in the pipeline! Although by putting little ET in a sling I did manage to get some stuff done yesterday…however, trying to use a sewing machine with a baby strapped to my front is going to take some getting used to!!

Anyway, I’m always so impressed with the crafting that other people do and I wanted to share some of the hand crafted gifts little ET received.

Even before he was born, we received this little hat and cardigan set from a friends of my mum’s. I love the cuff detail and the little duck buttons. It’s hard to believe 8 weeks on that he ever fit into it! He wore this in hospital and as part of his going home clothes and it was too big at the time!

Another part of his going home outfit was his “Yoda” hat, which we purchased from a lovely Canadian seller (Fairyqueen Designs) on Etsy (in the picture below). Having seen our “announcement picture” with ET wearing the Yoda hat, a friend of my husband painted the little card shown next to it below. Isn’t it fab? Isn’t she so talented?

Another super handmade card we received was from my little niece, L. Almost 3 at the time she created this masterpiece at Preschool for her new cousin.

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This hat was knitted by our good friend, J. When so many newborn baby things are pastel coloured, it was really lovely to receive something brightly coloured. It currently still fits but the weather is not exactly woolly hat weather!

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Our friend, R, made a sampler. The picture does not do it justice. This must have been a serious amount of work. It is really quite big and the cross stitches are so tiny. It is beautiful – we just have to find a frame and get it up on ET’s wall.

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Finally, a former work colleague of mine and good friend, O, made this teddy bear! He has the cutest face and the knitting is so good. Currently this bear is without a name but is often used to entertain ET! I’m not sure he knows what it is yet but he has a good look at it!

We have some very talented friends it seems!