Tag Archives: birthday

Choo choo!

23 Jun


Storm’s birthday was over the Jubilee weekend, so we postponed her treat for a couple of weeks as everyone was away on the big day. Something tells me we won’t get away with that next year…

I’ve wanted to go on the Avon Valley Railway (real steam trains!) for yonks, so this was my perfect excuse, haha.

We packed a picnic, roped in some family and friends, and somehow secured the only sunny day in a fortnight of rain. Hurrah!

I wish all train stations still looked like this…




They swap the engine from one end to another half way through the journey so we got to see this…


And this…


Everyone seemed to like it…




I loved watching this…



And seeing this…

(expert tickling by Abby)

And then we had cake (lemon – yum)


And went home. Job well done I think.

Happy birthday chickie!



I may be gone sometime…

11 Apr


Now I’ve written this title, I’m wondering whether alluding to the last known words of a fearless explorer facing certain death is entirely in good taste. Ah well.

Anyway, I have taken possession of The Sewing Machine (hurrah!) so forgive me if I hibernate a little.

I combined the trip with a 2 hour visit to Bath’s amazing Victoria Park playground to keep the wee girl happy, so I didn’t feel too guilty when I then carted her along to Husqvarna Studio to pick up my Janome XL601, complete with add-on quilting package (swoon).

The first thing I did (OK, the first thing, after wrestling with the bobbin winder and wrangling with the automatic needle threader), was to sew some ‘proper’ one-step buttonholes onto Storm’s Puppet Show dress.

I practised a lot first, which was just as well. Ahem. The best bit was when I tried to start a buttonhole with the feeddogs down, thus zig-zagging on the spot for several seconds before realisation hit, which led to me having to practically cut out the bobbin. Duh.


I got the hang of it in the end. They aren’t perfect, but a damn sight quicker, and neater than any I’ve sewn by hand.


The Machine is not top of the range by any stretch, but it has a few cute embroidery stitches, and I particularly like the one you can use to create a scalloped hem. Sweet!


I feel nervous about getting rid of my old heavy-duty machine, which mum taught me to sew on, and I’ve had about 20 years. But I suspect a minimalist is not allowed two sewing machines by any stretch. Uh oh.

Making a tutu in under one hour. Speedy (non) sewing!

1 Aug

When I saw this sparkly pink net on sale in John Lewis, well, I couldn’t really walk away. The fabric was £4.50 for just over a metre (the end of the roll, so I got a little extra for free). The elastic for the waistband was £2.75, but I only used half of it.

It’s made a great little present for my daughter.

Here’s how:

(1) Wrap the elastic around your child’s waist and measure how much you need for it to fit comfortably, plus 1cm. This tutu style adds thickness to the waistband, making it smaller, so bear that in mind.

(2) Sew the ends of the elastic together, overlapping about 1cm. I oversewed all the way around the overlapped pieces, and then made a crossed stitch over them as well. If you haven’t got time to do this, just safety pin it together.

(3) Take your fabric and fold it in half lengthways, and half again. This will make it easier to then cut it into strips about 50cm long and 4cm to 5cm wide. Don’t worry about making all the strips exactly the same. It will look better if some are thicker than others.

(4) Take a strip and fold it in half.

(5) Place the loop facing downwards across the inside of the elastic.

(6) Pull the cut ends through the loop, and tighten against your thumb, evening up the loop as you do.

(7) Yank the final bit of the fabric through the loop, without bending the elastic.

(8) That’s it! Now repeat it for all your strips.

(9) Lay out your tutu in a circle and check the length of all the strips. Trim them so they’re approximately the same length, but don’t be too exact – again, it’ll look better slightly uneven.

That’s it! One sparkly tutu, in less than an hour for less than a tenner!

To give due credit, this is not an original idea of mine. Someone selling tutus just like this at a craft fair told me how to do it. Which is pretty darn generous, donch’a think? Wish I could remember her name, especially as Storm will be eternally grateful for her ‘ballerina fairy skirt’ Awwww.

A few of my favourite things…pt 1

28 Jun

I’ve seen a couple of pretty spectacular yarn stashes recently. And when I say spectacular, I mean that you could fill a room with them!

Being surrounded by new yarn all day long at work as well is pretty great too. But I’m not sure I want to end up with a room’s worth of yarn. Despite my best intentions, I can only knit so fast.

This has all made me think about my goal of minimalism and the few material things I really do care about. Possessions which don’t have much monetary value, but mean something to me. Like…


(1) A china marmalade jar from James Keiler & Sons. I swiped this from my parents house when I went to uni. It used to have a painting on it around the edge, which I think one of my brothers did, but I scraped off in one of those late teen moments of complete insensitivity (rather like the time I cut my brother’s face out of a Polaroid so that I could put it in a necklace – sorry mum!). It’s been home to make-up brushes, pens, pencils, and now looks after my jam thermometer, paint brushes, fabric scissors and corkscrew. It’s like a barometer of my life!

(2) Small Buddha statue. My dad gave this to me when I was five or six and he’d just been on retreat. Buddhism is one of those things that comes in and out of my life. Sometimes I’m a ‘good’ Buddhist. Sometimes I’m not a Buddhist at all. But it’s tied in pretty closely with the whole minimalism thing. For me, Buddhism is a philosophy and definitely not a religion, but this little symbol helps to remind me of what’s important in life sometimes and why I really, really don’t need another pair of shoes.


(3) Kokeshi dolls. Al and I were given the twins at the back when we were married, the blue boy was my gift to Al on our wedding day, and I found the girl with the black hair in a charity shop. Al gave me another kokeshi doll for Valentine’s this year, with a secret message compartment. Cute! I’ve since started a kokeshi quilt and have a kokeshi lunch bag too. I’m not exactly a collector, but I’ve got a definite soft spot for them. Kokeshi dolls look peaceful and happy – a good state to aim for, donch’ think?

I’ll do another little post on this soon, but I’d love to know, what are a few of your favourite things?

Lemon cake with vanilla buttercream icing and mini marshmallows. Phew!

1 Jun

My little Storm turns three today. We had a lovely family party on Sunday, the highlight of which was watching her huge grin after managing to blow out all three candles (OK, with a little discreet help…). A close second was seeing my charming family, but this cake almost edged it too.


Here’s how…

  • Sieve 500g (2 cups) plain flour with 2tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt
  • Melt 250g (1 pack) butter, and mix in 250g muscavado sugar
  • Zest and juice two big lemons and stir into the flour along with everything else.
  • Add a couple of beaten eggs and a splash of whole milk.
  • Divide the mixture  in half and bake in two cake tins in a gas mark 5 oven for about 20-25mins.

Meanwhile beat 125g butter into 300g icing sugar, a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar and 2tsp of vanilla essence.

When the cake is done you’ll be able to put a skewer in and it’ll come out clean.

Don’t wait for it to cool. If you ice it straight away the icing will sink into the sponge and make it doubly yummy. Ice between the two layers and all over the top. Over the top is a key word here!

Decorate with whatever you fancy. Storm likes mini marshmallows, and I’m not going to argue with that!

I made some banana cupcakes too, because, you know, you can never have enough cake.

Happy birthday honey.

Knitted chicken!

30 May

It’s my brothers’ birthdays today. They were born on the same date, but two years apart – happy birthday chaps!

I made O a Swedish knitted chicken for his birthday a couple of years ago (ie, yellow and sky blue) as he was living in Sweden at the time.


Last year T’s birthday card contained a knitted chicken IOU, which I figured I should probably honour before the NEXT birthday. He wanted a ‘British’ chicken, so I bust out my stash and got cracking last week. The red and cream are Rowan Cotton Glace and the blue is (discontinued) Debbie Bliss Cathay (Ravelry link). I went for deckchair stripes rather than a Union Jack as I thought it wouldn’t date. Plus OK, it was easier!


I forgot to give him a name, but I think Reginald is appropriate.