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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Baby Play: Fabric Texture Bag

Slow seems to be a running theme at the moment. Our bid to give Baby some 'slow' toys (read more here - essentially, toys that try to encourage creativity and stimulate imagination), and slow progress towards making her anything! I seem to be incapable of completing a project quickly at the moment and so have a huge number of projects on the go at once. A few months ago I finally put together the bag of fabrics for Baby. The fabrics had been sat in a pile since last year: collected together, but in need of trimming, hemming and a drawstring bag to keep them in.


I was originally going to put the fabrics in the treasure basket, but quickly realised I was going to run out of space too quickly, so decided to make a separate bag for them. The bag of fabrics is essentially an extension of the texture book I made Baby for Christmas - full of different fabrics, but larger pieces so that she can go underneath them, drape them over her toys, fiddle with the ribbons and wave them around! I'm hoping that by having the fabrics loose in the bag, it can be an ever changing collection: as she gets older, it may contain larger, more solid pieces of fabric for den building, plus a few pegs for keeping the den walls in place, or she may decide to use the fabric as blankets for teddies and dolls.


At the moment, the fabric bag contains a mix of many textures, colours and sizes:

*Minky dot
*Fleece
*Fake fur
*Brushed cotton
*Voile
*Denim
*Cotton
*Ribbons
*Velvet
*Silk
* Corduroy

Baby loves to play with the fabrics - in that witching hour between 4-5pm when she's starting to get grouchy, getting out the fabrics and playing peekaboo distracts her enough to keep happy until teatime! The sheer voile is lightweight and great for hiding under, minky dot and fake fur are super soft and cuddly, corduroy is fun to scratch with fingernails and ribbons turn into 'necklaces' (as you can see here!) and get chewed and stroked. I had a bit of a silky label obsession as a child so I'm interested to see whether Baby is going to love fiddling with ribbons too (or whether her obsession will just be accessorising with them!).

Some of the fabrics had to be hemmed (the voile frays a lot so needs a zig-zag stitch along the raw edges), some (such as the fleece and fake fur) don't have fraying edges so can be cut to size, and some pieces were cut carefully from old clothes to preserve the hems (a collar from a turquoise silk shirt that belonged to my mum in the '80s proves very popular!) Making up a fabric bag doesn't need to cost anything or take long to create as it can be made up of things collected from around the house - an old flannel shirt, a large muslin, a woolly scarf and a flannel would all be brilliant, and could be kept in a cloth tote bag, box or basket.




Next up on my list of things to make for her are some sensory squishy bags (like these or these), and a tent as a birthday present for a certain little-girl-that-I-can't-believe-is-nearly-a-year-old! 

What does your little one love to play with? Are there any fabrics or textures that they particularly seem to like? 

Saturday, 27 April 2013

17/52

"A portrait of my baby, once a week, every week, in 2013."
We've had such a sunshine-filled week, it seemed apt to use this photo for our seventeenth portrait. 

She's gained independence this past week. Getting braver. Crawling and cruising to as yet undiscovered corners of the house. But with new courage comes a need for more reassurance. Very much a mama's girl, wanting to be alongside me all of the time. To crawl onto my lap, fiddle my hair and lay her head on my shoulder while sucking her thumb. Still very much a baby. Not yet ready to be a toddler.

One of my favourites from last week was this b&w shot. 

As ever, joining in with Jodi.

My other 52 project photos are here.

This Week: April#4









1. Can you tell someone's teething?! Disturbed nights, 5am starts and koala-like baby have been the theme of the week. Crossing my fingers that these darn molars will give my girl a break next week (and therefore, give me a break!)
2. A card from Grandma. It is her absolute favourite thing, and we have to visit it on the mantelpiece regularly - she points at it expectantly, waiting for us to get it down for her!
3. Beautiful blue skies, with super hot sunshine. Finally!
4. So we've tried to make the most of the sunshine by getting out into the garden. Investigating the grass (not keen), crawling around getting muddy knees, playing with pegs while I hang the washing out, and not wanting to wear her sunhat have all been favourite past-times.

We've also made more dining room progress this week. Feels like it's taking forever, but it's taken us a while to make decisions about fireplaces and tiles, and wait for builder availability. I wrote about the dining room more here. The old hearth is currently tiled, and we were replacing the old, broken tiles with some new ones in a similar shape. The fireplace fitters hacked off the old tiles...and discovered they could see down into the cellar! Argh! So it turned into a much bigger job with steel supports and cement pouring involved. By this time next week it should be complete...fingers crossed!

I have changed her clothes this week, honest! She's just wearing the same cardigan in all the photos, ha! 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Floral Ombre: Nature in the home

It would appear that Spring has, at last, put in an appearance. Bright blue skies, warm sun on shoulders and the garden finally starting to get growing. Yesterday, we made the most of the sunshine and had a picnic lunch in the garden. Surrounded by sleepy bees, freshly mown grass and washing flapping on the line, it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

The garden is finally giving out more colour. The camellias are in full bloom, the pear tree is covered in blossom (which I'm very hopeful about as last year the pear crop was pretty dismal) and the quince bushes are covered in coral coloured, waxy flowers. Growing alongside the bright coral quince bushes, clashing beautifully, is the flowering currant.

The flowering currant bush has the most beautiful pink, tiny flowers creating a natural ombre effect from light to dark down each stem. I snipped off a few shoots as we wandered round the garden, and they've been brightening up our mantel ever since.




Joining in with Lou's Nature in the Home.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Penning a line...

I'm a big fan of a handwritten letter. Either sent or received, I'm not fussy. Knowing that someone has taken the time to sit down and write to you is just lovely. Spending a few quiet moments writing a card or letter to someone special, knowing it will make them smile, is equally brilliant. A few months back, I joined in with Miss Beatrix's #PostCircle which has been the perfect excuse to dig out the writing paper and stamps (click here if you want to know more).

Although I try hard to make my own cards most of the time, I sometimes slip up as I'm a sucker for beautiful stationery. I blame our local art gallery gift shop that stocks so many lovely cards that I just need to buy. Stepping into the stationery department in Liberty's last year was like heaven for me, I just walked around stroking everything and coveting every card and notepad. Paperchase is dangerous too...

Virtual stationery shopping is much safer for my wallet, and as it's National Stationery Week (whoever came up with that is genius!), I thought I'd share a few of my current favourites:


Stationery




If I could have all of those, a proper fountain pen (that won't give me ink stained fingers), a cup of tea and a few rolls of washi tape to decorate the envelopes with, I would be a very happy girl indeed.

Please share your stationery favourites! Where have you found your best stationery treasures? 

(In finding the link for the Lost in ▲ cards, I discovered the rest of Bianca Green's work - I want it all! These pens, this typewriter, and these brushes are all being added to my wishlist!) 

Sunday, 21 April 2013

This Week: April#3







1. A walk down to the canal boat moorings. Jemima Puddleduck was the boat that took our fancy.
2. Handmade ravioli, made by my brother who was staying with us for a few days before he leaves for his RAF musician basic training. Good luck E! He went on a pasta making course here so has been wowing us all with his new found cookery skills! Chicken and mushroom ravioli were delicious!
3. Serious face. Love the little curls above her ears.
4. Tiptoes. Desperate to see the water filling up the bath.
5. Enjoying a good chew on Sophie's face in the sun. Teeth have been back on the agenda in our house this week. Molars make for a very unhappy girl.
6. Wandering around the garden in the sun. And some pointing, of course.

Hope you've all had a gloriously sunny weekend!

Joining in with Emily at The Beetleshack.

16/52

"A portrait of my baby, once a week, every week, in 2013."
A moment of stillness (there aren't many of them anymore!).

She's started 'cuddling' toys this week and giving us kisses again (her open-mouthed toothy lunge for your face is quite disconcerting, but very sweet!)

As ever, joining in with Jodi.

My other 52 project photos are here.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Pink: Nature in the Home

I couldn't resist the delicate pink of these tulips. Brightening up a corner of the kitchen with their pastel hues. Love the light shining through the petals and the Spring green of their leaves.



I'm always in awe of the lovely arrangements that I see on the Nature in the Home series each week, with lovely rooms in the background. I always end up using close-up shots, because, well, this is what my kitchen currently looks like:


Ha!  Manky 30 year old red tiles, peeling walls (yes, the tiles are red and the walls are green - I think the previous owners liked Christmas. Or the 70s. Or both.) the thyme plant that died when I forgot to remind my husband to water it while Baby and I were away, and the washing up liquid. Not a shot that anyone will be adding to Pinterest as interior inspiration any time soon! So for now, I'll have to live vicariously through all the lovely blooms and homes, and keep zooming in on my flowers!

Joining in with Lou's Nature in the Home.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

11 months


Dear Baby,

In the past month, you've been a busy, busy baby. Lots to learn, lots to investigate, lots to do. 




At 11 months you are:

...Crawling! At last! You obviously decided that walking while holding our hands was just not enough, and a few weeks ago, coordinated those wonderfully chubby legs and arms and got moving! You are so much happier for it, and now love to zoom off across the room (normally towards the TV box's glowing light/tiny crumbs on the rug/dadd's laptop hiding under the sofa). With your greater independence comes more adventure, but also more risk. You've gained more bumps and bruises over the past 2 weeks than ever before, as you launch yourself around the room, clonking yourself as you go.

...Cruising along the furniture, although you are happiest to do it with one hand on me, and one on the sofa. You're very pleased when you manage pull yourself upright on the chairs/sofa/our legs. You still love to walk around holding on to our hands, and even managed to stand alone for a few seconds the other day. You still need to work on your dismount though!


...A happy, happy girl. After a few weeks of 'orrible colds and roseola, it's lovely to have my cheery girl back. You give us impressively cheesy grins that cause you to scrunch your nose up. It's a happy gurn :)

...Still tooth-tastic. 12 at the last count. Argh!

...Pointing, all the time! Trying to work out what has caught your eye is sometimes tricky, but it tends to be something shiny or bright! Sunlight coming through the curtains, shiny doorknobs and the big tree waving in the wind have all been spotted by you today. You've started to get bossy with the pointing now too - you point at the far-flung toy, point at us, and then back at the toy as if to say "You! Fetch!" 

...Waving hello and goodbye. You now wave when someone is putting their coat on which is very sweet! (Even when you've just had your coat put on, and I'm fetching my coat - no, you don't need to say bye, you're coming with me!)

...Desperate to feed yourself with a spoon or a fork. Mealtimes are messy in our house now! (Not that they were exactly neat and tidy beforehand!)

...Still loving peekaboo, head-bobbing to music, cuddling anything furry, sucking your thumb, tummy tickles, round-and-round-the-garden, twinkle-twinkle-little-star, bananas, anything with a screen.

...Not liking staying still to have your nappy changed, having your face wiped after tea, being on your own, being strapped in the car seat/pushchair when you want to be free! 

I still can't quite get over the fact that the next time I write one of these, I'll have a one year old on my hands. You don't seem old enough to be a whole year yet! Slow down little one!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

My new boss.

My new boss: specialises in raspberries.
I had a big decision to make a few months back. A decision that had been weighing heavily on my shoulders, although it had taken me a while to realise quite how worried I had been about it. Every time the thought popped into my mind, I quickly squashed it back down, telling myself I would think about it after Christmas.

But then before I knew it, it was Christmas, and D-day (that's decision day) was looming ever nearer.

The decision in question was whether to return to work at the end of my maternity leave. I was in the very lucky position of having the option of staying home with my baby, and this was what I'd presumed I'd do when I was first pregnant. However, in trying to come to a decision, I hadn't bargained on the feelings of guilt I'd have. Guilt that I wasn't returning to my classroom. Guilt that I wasn't returning to the children and my colleagues. Guilt that I was lucky enough to have the option of staying at home when many mums have no choice but to return to work. I almost felt embarrassed when people asked me what my plans were at the end of maternity leave. I began to feel that I should be returning to work, even though the thought of it felt so horrible to me. But after an embarrassingly tearful meeting with my boss, I knew that home was where I needed to be and what was right for us as a family. So as of today, April 16th, I'm officially a stay-at-home-mum.

After all the to-ing and fro-ing in my mind, I feel that I've made peace with my decision now. I'm SO happy that I'm going to be at home with her. I feel like I've now got the best job in the world. Yes, my new boss sometimes calls on me rather early in the morning, likes to pull my hair, and can be rather demanding. And yes, there may be times when I'm envious of people that can drink a cup of tea while it's still hot, eat lunch without a small person trying to steal it, and not have a baby attached to them, koala-style, all day. But my new boss has such a sweet face, and I could spend all day listening to her laugh as we waltz around the kitchen.

In writing this, I feel I need to make this point explicit: I do realise how utterly, utterly blessed I am. I try hard not to take any moment for granted. To savour everything, no matter how dull and day-to-day. I know there are so many mums that are desperate to stay at home with their little ones, but can't due to financial reasons or career issues. I have friends that resent their work for all the moments it takes them away from their child. Perhaps my guilt lingers on, but this is the choice that works best for our family.

Now I know I'm not returning to work in the near future, I do feel I need to do something with my brain. Something to get the old grey matter firing up once more. To give me something else to talk about to R and my pals, instead of feeling like I'm a baby bore. I'm getting itchy fingers. I'm not sure what shape this will take yet, but it's exciting to think that I could do something else.

So, stay-at-home mums, please share your tips & tricks! How do you make sure you stay sane day-to-day when you've mainly been conversing in baby babble? (Is the answer always wine?!) Did you find that all your mum-friends went back to work and you had to find a new 'gang'? (That's probably my biggest worry). Did you return to work once your babies had grown up a bit?

Monday, 15 April 2013

A year on...

Woah! What a difference a year can make. This time last year, I'd recently started my maternity leave and still had nearly 5 weeks to go until Baby was born (although looking at the size of that tum, I'm not sure how I managed not to explode before then!) and now, we're running after a busy, crawling baby who is rapidly approaching her first birthday. I still can't get over how much a baby can grow and change in just one year. Aren't babies magic?!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

This Week: April#2






1. Peekaboo. (With the ever popular red velvet ribbon around her neck).
2. Enjoying a Sunday afternoon trip to Barrington Court. I'll share a few more photos soon.
3. Great-Grandma's 89th Birthday - the best toy is always the wrapping paper.
4. Crawling is a serious business. This monkey is now into everything - nothing is safe!

Over the past few weeks, I've spent a lot of time with family, and a lot less time in front of the computer. It's reminded me that I want to be living my life and sharing snippets on my blog, not feeling like I should be writing a new blog post because I haven't hit publish for a few days. On a related note, I'm making a conscious effort to spend more time writing productively, instead of faffing about on the internet. The book I promised myself I would write whilst on maternity leave still hasn't materialised either. I need to be more disciplined! Any tips?!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

15/52

"A portrait of my baby, once a week, every week, in 2013." 
There's been a lot of pointing going on in our house. Mummy, daddy, a cat in the garden, a reflection of light on the wall - everything has caught her eye this week.

I loved this sweet-faced little baby boy from last week's photos.

As ever, joining in with Jodi.

My other 52 project photos are here.


Sunday, 7 April 2013

14/52

"A portrait of my baby, once a week, every week, in 2013." 
Mesmerised by the record player. Roundandroundandroundandroundandround. 

One of my favourites from last week was Theo with the donkey!

As ever, joining in with Jodi.

My other 52 project photos are here.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

This Week: April#1











1. A non-chocolatey present for a certain little person on Easter Day, quickly whipped up on Saturday morning. The yellow one looks rather like a lemon, but they were meant to be eggs really! One is squishy, one jingles and one scrunches. If I remember, I'll write more about them soon.
2 & 3. More music. My auntie had dug out her old LP collection, full of gems such as this!
4. Baby has loved watching the neighbourhood cats in Grandma and Grandad's garden this week - this naughty one likes to come and fish in the pond and have a quick drink! The frogs aren't very impressed, although it hasn't stopped them making lots of frogspawn.
5. A chocolate Easter cake - I used the same BBC Good Food recipe as before, and it's quickly becoming my go-to cake recipe. Very rich, but very more-ish - the left-overs were fought over last week.
6. Watching the starling murmurations - click here to see a few more of my photos.
7. Playing the kitchen drums with Grandma and her Uncles.
8. Painting.
9. This was the end result of offering crayons - as fun as it was making marks on paper, it was better to pick them out of the box and drop them on the floor...
10. Beautiful light through the hellebore. All this sunshine makes me excited to get back home and start digging in my own garden.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Yellow: Nature in the home

Wandering around my mum and dad's house this week, there seemed to be a yellow daffodil theme. Fresh bunches of sunny, trumpeting blooms on windowsills are sat alongside childhood paintings and crafts that have been kept for many years. Sunshine outside and in (for a change!).









Joining in with Lou's Nature in the home link up again (just a bit late this week!)