Friday, 26 August 2011

Christmas in August

I recently posted that this year I'm preparing early for Christmas, no my tree isn't up and I certainly haven't started thinking about cards or gifts, I just started a Christmas crafts.

I bought this Christmas tapestry kit early last year. I didn't start it straight away as felt it premature to start in Spring / Summer, but then as Christmas did approach I didn't start as I knew there was too much work to complete before Christmas and didn't want to be doing Christmas crafts in January. I realised I was potentially stuck in a loop of never finding the right time or enough time to complete this.

I took the leap and accepted I was starting Christmas work in July....and thank goodness I did because I certainly hadn't budgeted for the amount of time it finally took to complete this project. Even once I had finished the body of the work there were 10 lines of edging to complete which was no small task in itself, but I'm proud of the outcome. I love the rich bold colours and the thick carpeted texture.

I'm not exactly sure what I am going to do with this piece, maybe a cushion? it would also make a good picture. I will have to make my mind up soon or there is a danger I still wont have a completed item before Christmas.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Metal Clay Play

I treated myself to a spot of metal clay play recently. This is the first time I've had a good play with the materials since my day-course last year.

I bought a few bits straight after the course full of motivation and enthusiasm, well life happened and I never quite got round to it. Whilst the metal clay material is pliable and relatively easy to manipulate into a design its flaw is that it can be over handled and can start to dry and crack quickly.

So I locked the men (big and small) out of the vicinity I set out to play. Having created my ideas in blue-tac I opened the Silver Clay and made a couple of charms for necklaces or charm bracelets, I'm pretty happy with the results. So simple but so effective.

I really love the clean sharp lines on the surface of the metal and how the pattern is given more depth as light is shined on it.

I made some other bits and pieces which I'm still firing and watch this space for another metal clay update soon.

If you would like to work with metal clay I set out a little information in a previous post. Do let me know if you have a go and how you get on.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

A little Stay-Cation

Sorry for the lack of blogging recently, its holiday season and like the rest of the country / world we packed our bags and headed for the coast for a week of family-time.

This year we had a stay-cation, we holidayed in Suffolk which is on the east coast of England, north east of London. Its only about a 2.5hr drive from home but it felt like another world, exactly what you need for a holiday.

We packed up practically our entire house (the benefit of driving to your holiday location) and tootled off to the coast for a week of uninterrupted family-time, pure bliss.

(The beach huts on Southwold beach, taken from the pier)

A traditional British summer holiday was had - ice-cream, fish and chips, crazy golf, cider and of course drizzly rain (but this couldn't dampen our spirits....I was as prepared as a girl guide!)

I did manage to find a little time for crafting so will be sharing this work with you very soon.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Crafting: A World Domination

As I continue my search into how crafting is striving for World Domination I have looked into the use of crochet into today's fashion. Conclusion: It's everywhere

Crochet shorts (or really crochet hot pants)

There were crochet shorts on I'm absolutely certain that I could not wear a pair of granny square crochet shorts, well lets be honest these are more crochet hot pants, but good luck to anyone with fabulous enough legs and bottom to wear these.

Having looked at the photos of these shorts they look quite simple to complete, 4 Granny Square corners sown together with a draw string around the top....maybe one day.....hmmm

Crochet Hairbands

There are crochet headbands in beautiful ivory in a delicate design. There are a large number of similar items on too

So pretty, wouldnt this make a wonderful wedding garland fpr a casual garden wedding?

Crochet Decorated Handbags
I'm always a little nervous about crochet handbags, or in fact knitted handbags for that matter either. I think this nervousness is about the potential for the yarn to become mis-shaped with use and I like to keep my bags immaculate. When it comes to bags I'm a leather girl.

However, I think that this basket bag from Julien MacDonald might be the perfect solution. It has a base of straw with crochet detail

I love how the light textured straw of the basket base shows through between the crochet loops. Would be a perfect bag for the summer.

So whether you like the idea of strutting your stuff by the beach in crochet hot pants, adorning your glossy locks with a crochet head band or going to the local farmer's market with your crochet shopping bag it looks like there is something for everyone as crochet continues to strive for world domination.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Crafting: A World Domination

I didn’t realise when I wrote the recent post on the patchwork Glastonbury sign under the title “Crafting: A World Domination” that this would turn into a little feature on my blog, but I have found more and more areas of everyday life where Crafting is making an appearance. I really do think that it is slowly taking over the world.

I don’t know if this is just a current trend linked to the recession and a need to make rather than buy (however, anyone who enters crafting for a “cheap” hobby would be bitterly disappointed, so far I’ve found it anything but cheap but then I do enjoy buying kit so I am my own worse enemy!) or, if there is a natural cycle of common activities, for example handmade and crafting were very popular in the Seventies (I have some fabulous crochet and knitting pattern books I really must share with you soon) so it could be a natural cycle that it has come back into popularity only to die again in a year or so to be resurected in another 30-40 years.

Well, whatever the reason it would appear that Crafting is bidding for world domination.

Today, I want to share with you an unusual embroidery community I recently discovered -

Fine Cell Work

Fine Cell Work is a social enterprise which has brought tapestry and needlework into the UK prison system allowing prisoners to learn new skills and earn money during their rehabilitation. 29 prisons are now running the scheme, and in 2010 there were over 400 stitchers who collectively earned over £70,000*.

Their work is stunning. It ranges from greetings cards to rugs and cushions to quilts. Tapestry kits of their original designs are even available so you can make these yourself.

Its great to see that an activity so traditional as embroidery is able to give some of societies most challenged individuals the focus to work through their demons.

If you are really interested in helping out it would appear that Fine Cell Work are looking for more volunteers across the UK.

* Source:

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Quilted Play Mat

I gave you a sneak peak of this play mat last week just as I was off to the post office to send it on to my dear friend for her beautiful new baby.

Now that the present has all been received I want to share it with you in full.

I hope that the little man has many a happy hour playing on this play mat.

I'm rather superstitious when it comes to baby gifts, I never like to start them until the little one has made an appearance, this generally means that its "all stations go" once I receive that happy call / text to let me know that they are with us. I chose the simple design for this play mat so that it was relatively quick to run together on the sewing machine with limited complicated cutting and piecing together. I think it took me a day in total to complete, so quite reasonable really.

It took just part of a jelly roll so I have a plan for the other blue strips, watch out for another quilt coming soon.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Sneak Peak

Just a quick Sneak Peak of a quilting project I've just finished and popped in the post.

A dear friend of mine has just had a baby boy, I wanted to make him a little present....

I will reveal the whole project in a little while, I don't want to spoil the whole surprise.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Cross Stitch Pattern Share

Just a quick post to say Thank you to Kate from Kate's Arty Bits Blog.

Kate shared a sneak peak of a lovely garden embroidery she was part way through. I loved the pattern so much I asked her what make it was so I could hunt one down and have a go myself. Very kindly, Kate has posted me her finished pattern and the unused threads from the kit. How lovely. It feels a little like my birthday to receive a treat in the post.

I have a couple of projects on the go at the moment, and as I have shared I have a problem with UFOs, so I am forcing myself to finish these before I start anything new.

This has got me thinking, does anyone know of an embroidery pattern library? I generally only want to complete an embroidery patter once, unlike knitting and crochet patterns where its fairly usual to complete them a few times. This must mean there are patterns lurking in homes around the world unused and unloved. Maybe there is an opportunity to have pattern share scheme?

A central repository where once loved patterns can live and be loaned out to keen embroiderers to complete and then return.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Christmas in July

As we enter July we are all thinking of summer holidays, BBQs and relaxing in our flower filled gardens whilst our high-street retailers are all considering when is too-soon to bombard us with Christmas Carols, fake snow and sparkly baubles. Is it just me or have you also noticed Christmas is starting in September / October these days?

Personally, I think its shocking we can't seem to enjoy each season for its own merit. I love the Indian summers we have experienced in September recently and then there are the beautiful oranges and browns that autumn offers before the long nights of winter draw in allowing us all to hibernate in our cosy homes with a mug of tea and a packet of biscuits (because there are months until we need to be seen in that swimsuit)

This year I have a little confession....Christmas is making a fairly early appearance in the Becca-Lou household.

Yes we are having a little bit of Christmas in July.

No we do not have any decorations up, nor is the CD player primed to blast out "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" at the mere press of a button.

I have simply realised that projects take a little longer to complete now that the little man is here, so in order to ensure my Christmas tapestry is completed by the big day I have started it a little early. 6 months early to be exact. Its nice to be prepared. And this is a monster of a tapestry so its going to take me a little while to complete.

Have you started any Christmas crafty projects yet or is the rest of the world putting off the thought of Christmas until after the summer? Has anyone else started Christmas in July?

Friday, 1 July 2011

Crafting: A World Domination

Wow crafting is everywhere.

I see people on the tube with their knitting needles out, in the Dr's surgery doing embroidery and now I've just found this quilted Glastonbury sign which was at the festival last weekend.

Where will crafting go next in its bid for world domination????

FYI - watch this space for a sneak peek of a quilt I'm working on for a special friend.....

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt: June

I mentioned previously that I'd discovered Kathy at Postcards from the PP was running a Photo Scavenger Hunt and I was planning to participate this month

Kathy set us quite a challenging list in June and I'm sorry to admit that I haven't fulfilled all my photo finding obligations. Some of the categories were just too hard so I'll admit failure before we start but promise to try harder next month!

Something with your town's name on it
I live in Epsom, Surrey, England.
This category should have been super-duper easy. The TV cameras arrived in early June ready for the famous Epsom Derby (a house race for those of you who don't know).
Epsom is transformed for 2 days a year from a cosy commuter town nestled between the London suburbs and the rolling countryside into a crazy cosmopolitan metropolis*. I trotted into the centre of Epsom on Derby day with my camera ready to snap snap snap. But this year it was as if the recession had hit all the festivities, or I totally missed them.
So the closest I've got to showing you Derby fever Epsom-style is a road sign, how frustrating.

An elephant
This is one of my son's little friends who was found trundling through the garden bushes in search of a waterhole to quench his thirst in the mid-summer sun.

Architectural design
Another Epsom shot. The clock tower in the market square. I love this building.

Doh - I meant to take this shot last night, we had Gruyère and leek tart. I even planned the menu for the week so I could take the shot and now its all gone (yes it was really quite tasty). Disappointing. Again I apologise.

Tree branches

A farm animal
Oh the velvety ears look sooooo soft

Something beginning with z...
This is the last box on the Sampler I made for my son's birth, it now hangs in his bedroom

The view right outside my front door
Yes my house is a little strange, we don't step out onto a road. We are hidden away between the houses. It really does feel like I've stepped into my own little world when I close the gate, no one can see me and people regularly can't find me! Mowa-ha-ha-ha

Looking forward to July's challenge.. I think my report card for this month would state "7/12 Rebecca should try harder"

* potential for slight exaggeration here!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

CyberMummy 11: What a Fabulous Day

I got home late last night from the CyberMummy 11 conference slightly tipsy from the delicious free wine, over excited about my new friends and dragging my mountain of freebies in new canvas shopping bags.

What a wonderful day full of great experiences

I met a former Prime Minister's Wife (@SarahBrownUK) who gave a fabulous speech about parenting and how she and Gordon continued to put their children first when they were living at No. 10. She shared some cheeky stories about her little ones which had the audience roaring with laughter. What a thoroughly lovely lady.

The CyberMummy 11 organisers had arranged a great selection of speakers. I learnt about writing from a published author, photography from an accomplished photographer, internet presence from a professional web developer and how to reach a blog-life-balance from a time management expert. I'm planning to put their helpful advice into practice so watch out for some changes to this blog :)

This along with informative and comical speeches from Lord Richard Allen (Facebook Director) and Rachel Johnson (Editor of The Lady) meant that CyberMummy 11 was a truly fabulous day out.

Whilst the talks were great this was shadowed by the inspirational bloggers I met, there really are some fabulous people out there, sharing some amazing life experiences. Keep it up ladies.

The fun has even continued today as I had the joy of delving into the Goodie Bags and wow were they a treat. Luxury Bath treats from Champney, Cars The Movie from Disney, Johnson's Baby Wipes and and and the list goes on, I'll be dishing out some of these treats to friends as there is simply too much for one family.

So all that is left to say is "where do I sign up for CyberMummy 12?"

Friday, 24 June 2011

CyberMummy Here I Come

Well I'm like a kid on Christmas Eve. But tomorrow I won't be opening presents, drinking champagne or eating too much rich tomorrow is the CyberMummy conference

I'm incredibly excited

I've become a lot more confident about myself since becoming a Mummy. When I might shy away or be almost embarrassed about myself or something I've achieved previously I'm much more "this is me" now and you can take me or leave me. I don't know if this is a result of motherhood in that I simply don't have the time to fret anymore or if this is because the arrival of the little man has put me in a position where I HAVE to make new friends.

None of my close friends live nearby, in fact the closest is about 1hr15mins away so when motherhood loomed I knew I needed a bunch of friends nearby who were going through the same life change. It really was the first time since University (and that was a few years ago) where I've been flung into a situation where the plan is to make friends. And I'm pleased to say I succeeded, I have a lovely group of Mummies nearby.

I wonder if this has increased my confidence or maybe being a Mummy has just made me more interested in other people and everything else is a by-product. Well whatever the reason I'm not complaining.

So to continue my strive to meet like minded and not-so-like minded people and stay in contact I'm looking forward to not only the sessions tomorrow but also the breaks when I can chat chat chat. I've even made some businesscards (although I'd maybe prefer to call these name cards as I certainly don't like to think of my little blog as a business).

They are a bit fun, a bit crafty and quite girlie but I love them. I'm corporate Monday-Friday so my weekends and blog are a time for fun. I've only made a few so hoping to hand these to special people I meet on the day and hope they stay in touch.

I'm off now to check the agenda, organise my travel and pack my bag for the day.... I'll share the conference with you soon

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Finally Finishing - My Little House

I think I've mentioned before that I really struggle to finish projects.

I truly love the excitement of a new project. Getting the right tools out, shopping for the necessary materials, planning my development, these seduce me every time. Once the initial new project excitement wears off I really have to press myself to keep going.

That new project excitement usually lasts right up until the very last stage. This means that I'm usually left with lots of 90% complete projects requiring that one last push to complete. I even leave the projects in view so I see them regularly, and every time I see them I feel a little disappointment in myself for not having the commitment to complete the project. I do find this quite embarrassing, why cant I be more disciplined to commit to finishing what I start, this cant be a particularly good personality trait. This challenge doesn't stay at home either, I suffer at work too but there I have managers and annual pay reviews to spur me on, maybe I need to ask hubby to take up this role at home??? what an idea!

Does anyone else suffer with this? Do you also have an embarrassing pile of UFOs??? (UnFinished Objects?)

I found this little house in a magazine late last year and just had to have a go at it. It's so cute. I diligently completed the detailed stitch work on all 4 sides some time ago and it has been sat in this state for months.

At the weekend I put dinner into cook and had 30 minutes spare, and I got this project finished. It only took 30 minutes to do the final stage but I have been sitting on it for months, pathetic I know. I even made a little internal bag of rice so this is weighted at the bottom.

Now that it is finished I'm really pleased with the result. However, I'm really not sure where to put it right now, T is becoming more and more mobile, and being 9months old EVERYTHING is destined to be tested on his 4 little teeth. Not sure how the stitching would survive the rugged biting and tugging they will be subjected to. Maybe my cute little house will be destined for a cupboard until the biting phase is over.

Do you have any tips for avoiding the growing pile of UFOs? or do I just need to be harsher with myself and not allow the starting of new projects until the previous one is finished? All thoughts gratefully received

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Pistachio Cake Recipe

I think I am something of an anomaly; I enjoy my commute to work. When I was on maternity leave recently I remember talking to my husband and friends about the things I missed from pre-baby days, they were generally shocked when I put my commute above lie-ins and the ability to read the Sunday papers.

My commute is nothing special, and it is longer than most of my colleagues. Door-to-door its about 1hour 15 minutes and consists foot, train and tube, and it's one of my favourite parts of the day. Not many people really understand but I enjoy my commute so much because it is MY time to do with as I will, how many people have the luxury of 2hours a day to indulge ?? Sometimes I read, other times I choose to work, occasionally there is crochet and regularly there is music or podcasts. But my commute home on a Tuesday is reserved for reading Stylist.

Stylist is one of the free magazines given out in London each week. It covers the classic girly articles on fashion and makeup but mixes in some intelligent articles on topical issues which I can regularly relate to. If you aren't lucky enough to live in a city where it is distributed you can read online for free here.

Well one of the pages I'm always keen to read is "Gourmet on the Go" which regularly features scrummy looking food that doesn't require hours of preparation. A few weeks ago this is where I spotted the rather yummy pistachio cake. As promised here is the recipe

200g ground pistachios
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
150g unsalted butter
225g self-raising flour
185g caster sugar
3 eggs
125ml thick yoghurt

- preheat oven to 180 degrees C / gas mark 6
- line 20cm cake tin with baking paper

1. Blend ground pistachios, cardamom, butter, flour and sugar in a food mixer
2. Combine above with the eggs and yoghurt in a mixing bowl
3. Pour mixture into a cake tin and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Cover the cake with foil halfway through cooking then allow to cool on a rack.

Let me know if you make this.


Sunday, 12 June 2011

Pistachio Cake

I was looking for something to bake this weekend, no particular reason, just fancied some cake. I stumbled across a recipe for pistachio cake in a magazine, I've heard of walnut or almond cake but never pistachio so thought I'd give it a try.

The result was a rather vibrant green colour and a strangely gloopy mixture due to yoghurt being included in the ingredients. I don't bake a huge amount but I've never cooked a cake with yoghurt before.

I was a little dubious as to what would emerge from my oven, but when the timer pinged it looked good, in fact it had even split into a cute little smile.

Thoroughly enjoyed testing it for you....lovely.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

When all you can do is beg

There are some things which I am certainly not too proud to do

  • the photo copying at work

  • sniffing my baby’s bottom to see if there is anything I need to action

  • re-cleaning tables in restaurants before we sit down as I know T will attempt to put the whole table in his mouth at some point over dinner. (I like to make sure it has seen antibacterial some point recently)

but most recently I added begging to the list and I don’t care because it came through.

As you know I took a bit of a cyber break when T was born. Just couldn’t fit blogging into my already chaotic world, but now T is 8 months old, I’m back at work and we are into a very good bedtime routine* I have a little more time on my hands and blogging was top of my list.

It was therefore only recently whilst blog-surfing that I discovered the Cyber Mummy conference taking place in London on 25th June, got very excited….went to register and was quickly deflated to discover it was sold out and there was a waiting list. There was nothing for it but to beg, offered to work at the event in exchange for a ticket; handing out badges, stewarding, anything which would mean I can go to a couple of the talks. I want to be a better blogger.

Well, I’ve just heard back from the organisers and

The lady from CyberMummy....she say yes

(insert own cheesy Spanish accent)

(apologies to anyone who wasnt in England in the '80s to experience the Del Monte ads)

I’m so excited.

Looking forward to meeting lots more yummy cyber mummies.

Are you going? Let me know…looking forward to meeting you

* clearly I have jinxed the next few nights by writing this

Monday, 6 June 2011

Here comes the rain

Hello, I'm British and I'm obsessed with the weather. It's been gloriously sunny here for weeks, it's been absolutely fabulous. But today the rain has come and I'm thrilled for 2 reasons

1. The waterbutt will get refilled, it was getting quite low and I've got quite an array of veg growing

2. I can finally wear my wellies. I bought these months ago and I've not had the chance to give them a test drive.

So bye for now, I'm taking T to the park so I can jump in puddles like a toddler.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The Surrey County Show

I had the pleasure of attending the Surrey County Show at the weekend. This is a totally British institution where we congregate in the middle of a field to look at livestock and judge who has the best cow, chicken, goat etc. I do find it all strange and fascinating in equal measure.

We walk around with our cider (or ice cream in my case), in our wellies which have never seen a wet field and nod along with judges as they praise the straight back of a sheep, or the stance of a pigmy goat. When, lets be honest we won't look at a sheep again until the event next year. Hands up, I was nodding along with everyone else and loved it, its nice to be a country-bumpkin for the day when you're a city girl through and through

There were some amazing livestock specimens and some of the sheep I could happily have climbed into the pens and had a cuddle, they really did look that fluffy and warm.

There was even the opportunity for a little retail therapy

But then as with all great British days out the clouds rolled in and we all bolted. I'm pleased to say that we managed to get everyone inside the car before the heavens really opened and gave the fields the watering that the farmers wished for more than any gold medal.

So tell me reader, is this a traditionally English affair or do these events happen all over the world?

Ahoy There

It's been a while but I certainly haven't forgotten you and I hope you haven't forgotten me either.

I've been itching to get back to blogging for a while now. I've taken some time to make sure this is something I'm willing to commit to again and after hours of thought and deliberation the conclusion is - YES.

I'm back and it feels great

I've been up to so much that I want to share with you. There have been...county shows.....baking extravaganzas....crafting....and of course I need to introduce you properly to my little man.

So for now I will wave farewell and I'll see you back here very soon. Watch this space