Thursday, 29 May 2014

Recent crafty makes

Over the last 6 months I have really been getting to grips with some sewing as well as learning crochet.

Bunting and quilting were the first sewing bits that I attempted, but I have to say that I have not been especially vigilant on the quilting - fear (of making a botch job) and lack of time to dedicate to it being the main reasons. Bunting however, has been much easier to accommodate. I love how quick and easy it is, and TOTALLY LOVE the jolly look of bunting hanging up.

So here are some of my finished sewing projects:
Bunting for a friend's boys for Christmas
For a friend for her birthday
Close ups of the extra detail

A little pin cushion to go with my friend's bunting (she runs a little craft business from home, making & selling things for children mostly, so I made these for her craft room)
Bunting for my niece's birthday

I did manage one tiny little doll-sized quilt. I decided to experiment with some English paper-piecing to use up some scraps of pretty fabrics, after being inspired by Helen Philipps' blog. I made this as a birthday present for my niece's 3rd birthday, as she loves her dollies!
Little scraps of pretty fabric wrapped around their square templates ready to be sewn together
Sewn into blocks of 12
Machine quilted diagonally
How the back looked after quilting
The finished, bound doll quilt
Trying to find time to make some more baby burp cloths like the ones I made a few weeks ago here. But as it's a wet half term, I can't really disappear up to the loft to do sewing, even if the boys are happily playing - 2 flights of stairs is rather too much for me to run up and down if they need me! Hopefully i'll find some sewing time next week when they are back at school...

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Baby quilt - finished!

I started this months ago, but have only just got around to finishing it. I'd got it to the point of being ready to sandwich it together with batting & backing and then quilting, only to discover that I didn't have quite enough batting! So I ordered some online, but by the time it arrived I'd moved my attention to burp cloths and crochet! So here it is...finally!

It is a "Disappearing 9-patch" (for those not knowing any quilting lingo, that means that you sew your squares into blocks of 9 before cutting horizontally and vertically through the centre of the block, and then turning/rearranging each new small block into a new pattern - saves a lot of cutting of smaller pieces to give a good overall effect)
9-patch blocks, cut and turned, ready to be sewn together

The finished quilt being beautifully displayed by Little G!

Fleece backing fabric

This is only my second quilt ever (& I haven't actually finished the first one - it still needs binding!), although I did make a tiny, doll-size quilt using English paper-piecing. This one has all been machine sewed (apart from hand-sewing the binding to the back of the quilt). 

I used a charm pack of 5" squares of Moda Oink-a-Doodle-Moo. My rotary cutting has a lot to be desired - I definitely need more practise in this area, as I am not very accurate. So I thought a charm pack (pre-cut squares) might improve my piecing skills. Unfortunately, although it saved me time in cutting, my piecing was still appalling in places! What I thought was due to to my poor cutting skills is actually due to my poor sewing skills!! I have ordered myself a 1/4" seam allowance foot for my sewing machine now, so hopefully this will help my sewing be more accurate in the future!

Anyway, you can't really notice the poor piecing/seam matching unless you look closely, and I'm sure the baby won't care!

I used a fleece baby blanket as the backing for extra snuggliness (£5 for a large baby fleece blanket from Tesco & still got enough left over to make some burp cloths or taggie cloths - waaaaaay cheaper than buying fleece by the metre!). The quilt is more likely to be used as a playmat/somewhere to lie the baby down rather than a quilt though.

And as with all my fabric/colour choices at the moment for the baby stuff, it is definitely leaning more towards boys than girls (girls like tractors and farm animals too don't they???), even though we have no idea what we're having! I'm working on the basis that a girl can easily use/wear boy-themed colours & patterns, whereas I don't particularly like seeing boys with girly-themed prints & colours.  I really shouldn't be stereotyping in this day and age though!!

I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I hope you like it too.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Birthday Season

April marks the start of "Birthday Season" in our household. This commences with our youngest's on 30th April and followed by Aunty P, best friend L, Granny (my mum), Mr W, ME!!!, godson's dad, godson, best friend's son, neice, brother, best friend S, sister-in-law    - which takes us through to mid-July, phew! At this time of year, I seem to spend most of my time on Moonpig (a life-saver, as they even post the card for you) or at the post office. 

And soon, there will be a new addition to Birthday Season - official due date for baby #3 is June 14th, so it should definitely be with us by end of June, even if I go overdue!

The birthday bunting is up 
(see the post here)

Here are some pics of Birthday Season so far: 

Birthday morning present opening in Mummy & Daddy's bed

Little G with his pile of brownies birthday cake.

G's favourite birthday card from Mummy & Daddy - he is still obsessed with all things superhero (see last year's post)
G's birthday party at a local soft-play - super-easy party this year, as all I had to do was make the cake - Batman-themed this year!
Making Daddy's birthday cake. He's a dab hand with the mixer - a future Great British Bake Off contender??

G's favourite bit of baking!
Can you tell which football team he supports??
Mr W blowing out his candle
MMMMMMMMmmmmmmm cakes!
Lots of "Top-hat" cakes for Mr W to take to work - some had lemon curd under the buttercream, and some had raspberry jam. I had to sample one or four to make sure they were suitable for public consumption!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Holiday Part 2 - Texas

After a week in Mexico, we headed back to Houston to spend some time with our friends. They have 3 children, the eldest of which is Mr W's godson. The middle one was best friends with our eldest when they were at pre-school, and although they haven't seen each for a year (they were over visiting last summer), it was amazing to see them slip back into their old relationship so quickly!

While in Houston we did lots of hanging out by their pool, eating, drinking, laughing, playing, oh and a little sight-seeing too!

First up, we went to a baseball game. On previous visits to the US, we have never managed to coincide with baseball season, so Mr W was keen to catch a game. 

Baseball - The Houston Astros at the Minute Maid Stadium

We did a trip to George Ranch, which is a historic cattle ranch passed down through generations of the same family. It is now a museum tracking the progress of cattle-ranching families from the first settlers through to more modern times. There were replicas of the houses that each generation of ranch-owner would have lived in, with actors in costume at each one. There was also a cowboy demonstration 

Log cabin - one of the early ranch houses
One of the later ranch houses
Uncle Bob - one of the characters at George Ranch who helped bring the history to life
Warning signs at the George Ranch
Gator! Those signs weren't kidding!
Cowboy demo - now that's what I call a moustache!
W having a go at lasso'ing

We also did the obligatory trip to NASA. You really can't go to Houston without visiting NASA now can you?

Saturn 5 - it was ENORMOUS!!

When we got to the Saturn 5 rocket, we were lucky enough to pick up a tour with a former NASA employee. He had worked at Mission Control from the 1960s up until a couple of years ago, and now volunteered his time one day a week giving tours. He was there when all the space launches and moon landings took place, and had loads of anecdotes about Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin (I nearly typed Buzz Lightyear then!), Apollo 13 etc. A hugely enjoyable tour, but the kids got a little bored. Luckily for Mr W and me, our friends took them back to the main building for lunch, so that we could enjoy the rest of the tour (although Mr W did still have to carry a sleeping W the whole way!)

We managed to squeeze in an adult-only night out with our friends too while we were there (got a baby-sitter for the 5 kids!) which was fab. We went out for steak which was amazing (the Texans sure do know how to rear cattle and cook steak!), followed by a bit of two-stepping at the Wild West nightspot.

It was amazing to see everyone in their cowboy boots and stetsons, of all ages. Proper old-fashioned dancing with a bit of line-dancing too. I participated in the line-dancing, but it was way too fast for me (especially in my enlarged state!), and even managed a bit of two-stepping with Mr W, although my enormous belly did get in the way somewhat!

Before we left Houston, we took a trip to the supermarket to stock up on all the American food and snacks that we love. It was Easter, so the stores were all full of Easter stuff. Bizarrely, you cannot get proper Easter eggs - you know, the hollow ones that come with a bar of chocolate or bag of sweets. They only do small ones like Cadbury Creme Eggs, mini cholocate eggs or bunnies. They're missing a trick there!

Easter Bouquests - US style!

My favourite American snack, which I very rarely find in the UK, so I stocked up!
Our two are obsessed with Oreos, and were thrilled to find some different flavours in huge packets. They have managed to eat their way through this lot rather quickly!

Such a fun holiday - sun, delicious food, sight-seeing, catching up and laughing with old friends. Our friends really did look after us, especially me in my current condition. They were so pleased that we had made the effort to visit, as they have only had family to visit since they have been away. We were so pleased that we made the effort too, as it was an all round great holiday - one that we will not be able to do for quite a while once baby arrives!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Holiday Part 1 - Mexico

We had an amazing holiday over Easter, and I'm so glad we decided to do it. We'd always said we would go and visit our friends in Houston before they came back to the UK & suddenly, nearly 3 years had slipped by and it looked like they would be coming back this summer. So we asked if we could come and visit over Easter. Then I found out I was pregnant...

But as my previous 2 pregnancies were both super-healthy right to the very end, I decided we should still go, despite me being 30 weeks pregnant on the way out, and 32 weeks by the time we flew back! Instead of doing lots of sight-seeing & travelling about, we thought it better to spend a week in Mexico at a luxury all-inclusive type hotel & have a bit of relaxing family time & then a week with our friends in Houston.

It worked out perfectly, and we all had a wonderful holiday :)
Here are some pics of our holiday in Mexico:

The walk from our room to the rest of the hotel facilities - reminded us of our honeymoon in the Maldives...

The walk to breakfast

Lots of wildlife to see on the walk to breakfast

The pool area

Pool area

Lots of fun in the pool every day

Littlest could be found like this most days by the pool - he does enjoy an afternoon nap still, despite being 4!

The beach, right next to the pool area - amazingly blue water and white silky sand

Our view from the sun loungers one day - the boys preferred to sit by the pool

Our view from breakfast one day from the beach terrace restaurant

Towel sculptures left by the cleaners - a different one every day which the boys loved!

A family pose!

Happy Days!