On Saturday evening I experienced a major dose of mother guilt as I wrapped Will's birthday presents ready for his birthday on Sunday. You see, the only wrapping I could find in the house was of the Christmas variety and so, that is how they were wrapped. I find it so easy to get caught up in "perfect" - perfect hand made gifts wrapped perfectly, and a perfect birthday party completed by a perfectly decorated cake. I know I can never achieve perfect, I just pretend to aspire!!
In all the fun and rush of Project Run and Play, Will's 2nd birthday crept up on me. Rob and my Dad were very organised and made Will a fantastic gadget board full of locks and clips and black boards and mirrors. It justifies its own blog post - so watch this space!
My birthday crafting started on Saturday afternoon. Will has a new Teddy in a Tin which he loves. "Teddy sleeping" is heard often around here now! The squares in the quilt are 3/4 inches - a perfect contrast to the big picture of Project Run and Play.
I was inspired by this
.Our party was very much last minute as well - our family, grandparents, the cousins who were in town and our most wonderful friend and nanny, Romy
. Although last minute, the party really felt perfect.There was a cake decorated by big sisters:
For those wondering, it's a dog!!!
And most importantly lots of family with lots of love:
Who needs mother guilt when all your little 2 year old needs for a perfect birthday is a cake and lots of love?
I'm not normally much of a costume maker, but a recent invitation to an Alice in Wonderland party took my fancy. Lizzy and Mart were both invited and elected to go as Alice and the White Rabbit (respectively!) After trying to convince Lizzy that she didn't want a horrible Disney-esque costume (who designs those truly horrible things????) I set about making a blue and white dress and apron and a vest and pocket watch.
The finished products looked like this...
Every one looks pretty happy in the photos, but I have some questions...
a)is it bad if your daughter looks disappointed when you present her with a handmade costume because it's not slippery and shiny and looks like the one in the shop?
b)Should I have made her a shiny blue one even if I really, really, really hate that kind of thing?
c)At four, should she get a say in these kind of things?
d)How much say do you give your kids in what they wear?
I'd really love to hear your ideas...
Despite a bit of drama as we addressed the above issues, we all had a great time. I do have one more question though... If your kids get invited to a themed party, is there an expectation that they dress up? The only reason that I ask is that my kids were the only ones in fancy dress. I kind of felt a bit like a Toddlers and Tiara's mum and we could have avoided the aforementioned drama. Anyways...
Somedays I really, really, really need a parenting manual!
PS - We're starting our Beyond the Basics series tomorrow. It's going to be a huge week with a fabric giveaway, a round up and two tutorials. Drop in and let us know what you think!
Or as Will would say "Dum, dum, dum!!!!"Mum's 70 Squares
is off at the framers and I can pick it up next week.
My Inspirations: - Firstly my Mum
- every square will mean something to her. Spending all the time I have on this project has been a lovely way for me to focus on her, think about her life, her childhood, my childhood, her friends and family. - My family and Mum's friends
- it was great to ring up my Aunt, my Mum's cousin and her friends. I don't do that very often and I heard family history and stories about my Mum that I have not heard before. - My tin of embroidery thread dictated the colour range!
My theme was bright, clear colours with lots of blue. - I drew most of the designs myself. If I got stuck, looking at clipart images helped me break down the idea into its simplest form (like the VW beetle - I found that really tricky)
was the very sweet tutorial I used for a Christmas tree.
- These great books:
- And finally the original 39 squares project
When I first discovered this stitch along I was a bit disappointed I missed it. I am glad I could sew along in my own way and in my own time.
I thought I would end my 70 squares project with one last story. Anyone who knows my Mum would be surprised to see a tennis racquet among her 70 squares. She is the least sporty person I know. (She would be OK with me saying that because I am the least sporty person she knows!) But Mum's life really began with a tennis racquet. My grandfather was a very good tennis player. His family was poor and so one day he asked if he might practice his tennis on the court owned by the slightly wealthy family who lived in the neighbourhood. That family was my grandmother's. A dashing young man in tennis whites and an elegant young lady meet on the tennis court...The rest is history.
PS Mum's a real softy. We gave her a silver bracelet with all her grandchildren's names on it for Christmas and she cried. Dad thinks she might need intravenous rehydration when we give this to her next weekend. I'll let you know how it goes!
So I am a little over half way with Mum's 70 squares
. Here's what it looked like this morning:
I figure that I have got about 10 days to get it finished. That will leave a week to have it framed and ready for the 4th of February. Every day I think that there is no way I will get it done, it is definitely going to be done and I have no idea whether it will be done or not. Time will tell...
At times all I want to do is put it aside and play with my rather forlorn and lonely looking sewing machine. But then I do a square I really like or make a fantastic discovery.
This is not a square that I am particularly proud of:
It's Mum's High School crest. There is some pretty wonky stitching and the whole thing is very offset in the 2 inch block. But... while looking for an image of the crest on the web I found this:
I have never seen any of Mum's school photos before so I was so excited to find this. She is in the back row, 3rd from the right and if I am not mistake, Mum's very good friend who I call Aunty Liz is in the middle of the front row. Wonky embroidery but fantastic find!!
I rather like this little row of three - a wizard's hat for Henry, a blundstone boot for Rob and a tulip for the time we all spent in Holland in 1977 (with Aunty Liz!).
There is a teacup for Mum's Mum (Mardi) who was a very elegant lady and capable of making the most elegant of afternoon teas.
The quilting bee is for all the friends Mum has made though her passion for patchwork and quilting.
And the tomato is for my Dad's Dad (Pa) who was a big man who did big things including growing the biggest tomatoes I have ever seen.
The last one I will show you is this one:
The music is to represent Mum's great enjoyment of classical music. The notes are the tune for Happy Birthday!
Wish me luck... I am going to need it to get it all done...
Last year, we started a new family tradition - Christmas Eve Pajamas.
This year, the girls requested nighties and I was happy to oblige. A peasant dress is comfortable to sleep in and very quick to whip up. I found a fantastic vintage sheet at the recent Fabricabrac
. I am not usually a vintage sheet kind of girl, but this one just spoke to me - gorgeous pinks and purples in sweet patchwork and there was plenty of fabric to make 3 nighties
"3?" I hear our regular readers say "But she has only got two daughters"
There's no mistake. All members of our family participate in this tradition!! You'll note - there are no photos of me in my nightie. I was going to say it is best to leave some things (like the image of a 41 year old woman in a peasant dress nightie made from a vintage sheet) to the imagination, but I really think it is best not to even imagine it!!!!
The boys had pajama shorts made from Sherbet Pips Puppy Dog Tails in Cotton Candy Blue and matching t shirts.
And here is the full team:
For our Northern Hemisphere readers, I thought I would point out that these photos were taken outside our home at about 7pm on Christmas Eve. Long days and gorgeous evenings are a part of what makes this holiday time so special for us.
I would like to say that shortly after this photo was taken, all children were fast asleep in bed, but Madeleine spent until 11pm telling me that Christmas Eve was the most difficult night of the year to fall asleep. Thankfully, she did eventually!!!!
Finally, some warmer weather - the chance to wear a new summery dress and enjoy a snow cone at a local fair.
Life is good!
When you're four, like Lizzy, you seem to spend a lot of time on the party circuit.
Now - I don't want to seem like a party wowser, but sometimes there are so many parties and so many treat bags that they just don't seem like treats anymore. know what I mean?
We've just had a magic garden party for Lizzy's birthday (it really was a magic garden as it poured with rain and we had to magic up n indoor a garden for twenty four year olds... argh!) and decided to try something a little different this year for take home favours.
We found gorgeous little tin buckets at the local party store and filled them with colourful springy annuals - marigolds and pansies.
On the morning of the party we 'planted' some lollipops and... voila - we were done!
These were seriously the easiest party favours to make ever. There was no fiddly cellophane wrapping and no ribbon tying at two in the morning.
And best of all? Lizzy and her friends thought they were great!
I've decided I don't like the word busy. I have been using it a lot lately, and I don't like the way it makes me feel - rushed, pressured and with no time to enjoy the things I do.
I am very lucky that almost everything in my life - working two jobs, sharing the running of a household and the care and love of three children, sewing and (occasional!) blogging - I really enjoy. There may be pressure to fit them all in, but these different parts of my life create balance and bring me pleasure. I say I would like more time, but in reality, other than a few household chores, there is not much in this list that I would be willing to give up.
So I am trying something new. I am no longer busy (with all its negative connotations). My life is full - full of good stuff - work I like, sewing that is fun and friends and family that I adore.
And to celebrate, I have been doing something that busy people don't have time to do - a little hand sewing. Little projects to celebrate some big events.
Some birthday badges to celebrate two very special birthdays...
And a new bag for Pippa. She is off to big school with her sister.
Sitting quietly with a needle in my hand, if only for a moment, gives me time to appreciate the amazing fullness of my life.
I hope you can find some of that quiet time too.
Last week was a special time for our family. We celebrated Will's first birthday.
A first birthday is such a milestone. One year ago we were handed an unknown little bundle and met our son. In this past year, he has shown us who he is and has given us a glimpse of who he will become. I am not sure whether he has grown into his name or we somehow knew the right name for him. Whichever way it happened, his name is perfect. In the very best of ways, he has a very strong will! He knows what he wants and is determined to show and tell us. He has seen the exciting world and is so keen to be part of it.So where is he at right now?
- He is crawling like a star, can climb on almost anything and is cruising fairly confidently between furniture.
- We are pretty sure we have heard him say Mumma, Dadda, cow, bird and up.
- He loves to be cuddled off to sleep and still expects to be cuddled back off to sleep very regularly during the night. You can imagine from a parent's perspective this is a mixed blessing!
- He desperately wants to know how things work - the mechanics of a book are much more interesting than its contents, kitchen drawers and cupboards provide hours of entertainment.
- He is willing to eat anything. We don't remember any food he has ever rejected and there is a long list of things we would rather he didn't eat but he is very keen - dirt, shells, pumice stones, chalk and sand.
- He loves hanging out with his sisters - they share a whole lot of jokes that we will never understand. His face lights up when Pippa and Madeleine walk in the room.
- The time between recognising what he wants and protesting that he hasn't got it yet is about 5 seconds!
- He does a fantastic bear impersonation.
- He has perfected the art of the shoulder snuggle. He is normally very busy but those times just before he goes off to bed or soon after he wakes up are just beautiful. He melts into your shoulder and the fit is just perfect.
I did get a chance to do a little birthday sewing. The Oliver and S Little Things to Sew book
provided me with the inspiration to make a play town. Unfortunately my sewing time could not match my ideas. I still have plans for Madeleine's Sewing Shop, Pippa's Treat Shop and several other little houses. They will have to wait. Here is what I managed to get done (with some help from Caroline!)
I really enjoyed making these and only wished I could have found time to complete the many other foam blocks I had cut. One day...
He had some other handmade goodness - a gorgeous corduroy hoodie from Caroline and a very sweet knitted bunny from my Mum. I will share these with you when I have managed to take some photos.
So here is our family celebrating Will's Birthday. This little boy has brought so much more love, laughter, happiness and just a little bit more chaos into our lives!! We wouldn't want it any other way.
We started the morning with chocolate.
We hunted for eggs in the garden.
Can you believe our Mums made us wear matching Tshirts?
We made and ate hot cross buns.
We had a fabulous day but we were sad that Lizzy wasn't well.
We'd like to thank our Mums, Dads and the Easter Bunny for making this day possible.
Mums please note - it won't be long before we refuse to do the Tshirt thing.
Will, Martin, Pippa, Lizzy and Madeleine