Thursday, 25 August 2016

Review Post: crafting with Posca Pens

I was delighted when Posca got in touch and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing their paint marker pens. A packet of their water-based pens arrived in the post a couple of weeks ago and we've been having fun creating with them.

Posca Pens are designed to write on a multitude of surfaces, such as:
* Fabric
* Glass
* Metal
* Paper
* Card
* Wood
* Stone

The pens come in a large range of colours, are water resistant and fade resistant. When I first opened the packet I thought there would be a solvent smell when using the pens. But they are odour free and I felt completely comfortable with my daughter using them.

We decided to put the Posca Pens through their paces and gathered together various materials, which included:
* A plastic yogurt pot
* A selection of stones collected from the beach
* A wooden drinks coaster
* A glass jar

Before you start getting creative, the brand new pens need to be prepped. Each pen needs a vigourous shake to move the ball inside the barrel. I then grabbed a test sheet of paper and pressed the tip down several times to start the paint flowing. Once you've done that with each pen, you're good to go. Remember to replace the cap firmly after using them or the pens will dry out.

First up we decided to decorate three stones we had collected from the beach. Magoo created a bright geometric pattern using a variety of colours. I think it looks fab for a first attempt using the pens.

I doodled a Summer inspired design featuring sunshine, lettering and swirls. We both loved how easy it was to use the pens on the stones. The colours were vibrant and we had more control than with paintbrushes.

Here is our finished group of stones. We have often painted stones in the past, but Posca Pens help to create designs with finer details. There are plenty of examples of Posca painted stones on the internet, including these fun Totem Pebbles. I think we'll have a go at making the Totems next time we gather some stones together.

Next up, the wooden coaster. Magoo set to work creating a floral pattern onto the wood surface. Again the colours were bright and went onto the surface smoothly. I would like to experiment further with wooden surfaces and create some plant markers for our allotment using Posca Pens.

I was keen to try out a bit of doodling on the plastic yogurt pot. I thought this might be the toughest surface test for the Posca Pens. Most felt tip pens do not work well on plastic...this is not the case with Posca Pens. Again the ink glides onto the plastic, looks bright and dries quickly. There aren't many ink pens that team up with plastic in quite the same way.

We then moved along to doodling on a glass jar. Magoo was keen to create a 'dream jar' as we had just seen the BFG film. She covered the jar with lots of swirls, loops and stars. We're going to add a label and create a lid to keep the dream contained within the jar.

Magoo fell in love with drawing onto glass with the pens. I must admit, using Posca Pens on glass is amazing, again the ink glides onto the surface, dries quickly and looks really vibrant.

I spotted a number of images on Posca's Instagram account of artists creating window art for various shops using Posca Pens. The window displays look fantastic, so I decided to let Magoo loose on our patio doors. I had already tested a small area of our windows to see if the pens wiped off easily and I can confirm they do. So Magoo set to work...

I think her Posca Pen drawings look fab on the glass. Using the pens on the windows was a big hit with Magoo and a great way to get creative in the Summer holidays.

As you can see Posca Pens can handle many surfaces. It's easy to see why artists are using these pens to draw onto walls, windows, skateboards, surfboards and just about any other surface you can think of. Posca also hosted a "doodle wall" at the recent Upfest Street Art Festival in Bristol. If you take a look at the Posca Instagram account you can get inspired by the multitude of applications for their pens.

I have to say I'm a Posca Pen convert and will definitely be using them in future crafting projects. Magoo loves them too, in fact she refers to them as 'the special pens'. We didn't try them out on fabric, so that's next up on my crafting 'to do' list. I think we'd also like to use them to colour some creations made with air dried clay. So many possibilities!

Keep your eyes peeled for September's "Crafting is my Therapy", we will be holding a Posca Pen giveaway. Link up with your crafty blog posts to be in with a chance of winning a set of these amazing pens.

Disclaimer: these Posca Pens were sent to me for the purpose of this review. All views are honest and are my own.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

A family day out to Bristol Harbour and the M-shed

If you love nostalgia then you need to make a beeline for the M-shed in Bristol this Summer. They are hosting an exhibition entitled "The Story of Children’s Television From 1946 to Today" and it runs until 25th September 2016. As soon as I heard a host of beloved characters from my childhood would be on display, I knew we had to pay a visit.

Magoo had been asking if we could "go on a double decker bus" over the school holidays. Because we all like visiting Bristol and the bus stop is situated at the top of our road, we decided to jump on a double decker and head to the city. Like I say, I'd been itching to see the Story of Children's Television" exhibition for a while now. Because this temporary display covers Children's Televison from 1946 up to the present day, I knew Grandma, myself and Magoo would all find something to enjoy.

The M-Shed is situated right in the middle of Bristol Harbour, so there are plenty of boats to see. At the moment there is an impressive tall ship called the Kaskelot moored opposite the M-Shed. It was a truly magnificent sight and you can't help marvel at the size of it. If you look at the ship's website, you can see images of it at sea in full sail.

After admiring the Kaskelot we stopped off at Millenium Square to see the Official Team GB FanZone where live coverage of the Olympic Games from Rio is shown on a big screen. Grandma and I drank a cup of tea from the @Bristol Cafe and we all ate homemade cake watching the swimmers do their thing at the Olympic Games.

Once we'd finished our tea and cake, we headed across Pero's Bridge to reach the Queen Square side of the water. Whilst on the bridge, we stopped to look at the padlocks covering the sides. These 'love locks' are attached to the metal grids by couples as a romantic gesture and the amount of padlocks has steadily grown over the years. I was surprised at just how many locks are now on the bridge, they seem to have covered every available space.

The council don't like them and there were attempts to cut them off in 2015. Bristol citizens have a habit of not doing what is expected of them. It seems the council's dislike of the locks has prompted a whole sea of them to appear. I don't find them offensive and we all enjoyed looking at the names, inscriptions and different shaped locks.

We walked past the Arnolfini and across the swing bridge on Prince Street. Before we went into the M-Shed we took a moment to look at the sun shining on the water in Bristol Harbour and admire The Matthew. The "Modern Matthew' is a replica of the caravel ship sailed by John Cabot in 1497 from Bristol to North America.

It is a beautiful boat, run by volunteers and funded by charitable donations. Magoo was keen to climb down the wooden steps to see below deck. We found about eight small bunks crammed into a tight space. It's hard to imagine how the 1497 crew sailing to Newfoundland lived, ate and slept in such a small space. It must have been horrendous in severe storms and rolling waves.

After our tour of The Matthew we headed into the M-Shed. There is so much to see and lots to learn about Bristol life past, present and future. One of my favourite parts of the M-Shed are the perspex boxes cut into the wall looking out over the docks. There are quite a few of these 'windows' and each one is filled with intricate model boats. I love the juxtaposition of the tiny models against the impressive sight of a real tall ship outside.

The museum is divided up into three main areas, Bristol Places, Bristol People and Bristol Life. Each section spans past history and places through to modern day characters like Banksy. There's even a bright green, full-sized Bristol Bus from the 1960s for everyone to jump aboard. Magoo loved this part the best and she had the opportunity to sit on the top deck of a modern bus and an old fashioned one all in the same day.

Once we managed to coax Magoo off the bus we headed to the Children's Television Exhibition on the top floor. It was, as I had hoped, a complete nostalgia-fest! So many memories flooded back and I adored seeing Humpty from PlaySchool, Gordon the Gopher, puppets from Button Moon, DangerMouse and many, many more.

Magoo was also in her element as the exhibition features modern day TV programs from Cbeebies and CBBC. Having said that, she was glued to the compilations being shown on various televisions around the exhibition. The clip of Pogles' Wood which was made back in the late-1960s caught her attention and she particularly loved Roobarb and Custard. I know watching TV often gets a bad rap, but we all have shows we loved as kids and this exhibition celebrates that. Children's TV holds happy memories for lots of people and we all loved looking at the exhibits.

Once we'd had our fill of nostalgia we headed back out into the sunshine for an ice cream. As we looked out over the water I promised Magoo we would make a return visit to the M-Shed. We had barely scratched the surface of the vast array of items on display and we'll definitely be back...

This week I am linking up with:

"Country Kids" over on www.coombemill.com

Monday, 1 August 2016

Crafting is my Therapy #7

Welcome to the Seventh “Crafting is my Therapy” blog link-up.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful month or making and creating.

It was nice to see new craft bloggers getting involved in July. We loved seeing everything you’ve created. I particularly liked Deborah Champion’s post about sewing a tiny suit for her doll. Plus it was her first time linking up to Crafting is my Therapy.

This month I have linked up with my latest hand sewn hoop featuring a pretty butterfly motif. I attempted Satin Stitch for the first time in many years...

I also wanted to mention it's National Stitch Day on 6th August. The National Celebration of Stitch is designed to raise awareness of the Embroiderers’ Guild, demonstrating the delights of stitching, textiles and embroidery. Events will be taking place across the country and this event at Bristol Museum sounds particularly lovely and I'm going to try and go along...

Last month we also held a Sugru giveaway. There were 6 posts (not including the hosts) added to our link-up in July. Using the random number generator, I can tell you that the winner is…Zeens and Roger! A selection of Sugru packs will be heading her way shortly.

Have you created anything crafty this month? If you sew, knit, crochet, paint, work with ceramics…please join in and share your blog posts.

The focus of this blog link-up is crafting for pleasure, basically taking some ‘me-time’ to unwind in our busy lives. It doesn’t have to be a finished project, we love seeing work in progress, planning posts or tutorials too.

Grab the Crafting is my Therapy badge:

Me You and Magoo

I co-host Crafting is my Therapy with Jennifer Jain. She writes the popular craft blog Jennifers Little World

Jennifer hosts our Pinterest group board. Would you like your blog posts to be seen by over 700K followers? Craft Bloggers linking to #craftingismytherapy are welcome to join our board. It's a great way for your posts to reach a wider audience...

The “Crafting is my Therapy” link-up will open on 1st August and stay open for the whole month – giving you plenty of time to get involved.
* You can link up with maximum of three posts per month, old or new.
* Grab the link-up badge or link back to our blogs on your post.
* Please share the love and comment on other people’s posts.
* If you could share your post and the link-up (using the hashtag #craftingismytherapy) on any social media channels that would be great. This will help us to grow the community. We will retweet all your posts via Twitter if you mention us (@pouchvintage/@JenniferJain )
* And finally, if you would like to follow me on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, you’re more than welcome! Jennifer Jain’s links are here too: Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Crafting in July: hand embroidered butterfly hoop

"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you" - Nathaniel Hawthorne

At the start of July I decided to create a piece of embroidery featuring a butterfly motif. I'd recently watched Butterflies: A Very British Obsession over on BBC4 and I was inspired to stitch one of these beautiful creatures.

I downloaded a free template from the web and transferred the image onto a piece of linen. I chose this particular motif because it would give me the opportunity to try out a number of stitches. In particular I wanted to attempt satin stitch which I haven't tried for many years...

I started by outlining the wings in backstitch using a lovely teal thread.

I moved onto filling in the lower wings with satin stitch. Like I say, I haven't attempted this stitch for a long time. I looked at a number of tutorials online and then took the plunge. At first I wasn't happy with the way it turned out. To me, the stitches looked messy and uneven. I had recently read the satin stitch tutorial over on the Sublime Stitching site.

I love Jenny Hart's laid back attitude to embroidery. She makes you feel that you don't have to get too hung up about it all...her attitude towards Satin Stitch is summed up here: "It will probably look really terrible to you. Stop looking at it. Set it down, forget about it, and then pick it up again later. I bet you will be surprised by how nice it looks"

So I've tried to take her advice and not stress about it too much. I need to practice more, but I think the overall effect now the piece is finished is good. I'm not a sewing machine, it's impossible to make every stitch uniform...it is handmade after all.

I really enjoyed sewing this butterfly and I feel more confident with using Satin Stitch. If you are interested in creating the same butterfly motif, you can find it here on Mary Corbet's Needle and Thread website

With the school holidays in full swing, it's harder to find the time to sit down and sew. I need to think of a new project for August and it will probably involve a quote. I dyed some linen fabric a sunny yellow colour a few weeks back, so I'd like to incorporate it into my next crafting project...

I am linking up to August's "Crafting is my Therapy" with my butterfly hoop.

Me You and Magoo

The focus of this link-up is crafting for pleasure, basically taking some ‘me-time’ to unwind in our busy lives. It doesn’t have to be a finished project, we love seeing work in progress, planning posts or tutorials too. If you'd like to find out more about Crafting is my Therapy, please head over to this blog post.

This week I am also linking up with these lovely blogs:

HomeEtc over on www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk and mummyofboygirltwins.com

Thursday, 28 July 2016

A year on the allotment: July 2016

July featured some of the hottest days of the year so far. The warm weather means our crops start to reach peak production. It also means more trips to the allotment to water the plants...which I don't mind as it's better than going to a gym.

This year we've had our first crop of blackcurrants. We've picked loads and I've heard people talking on Instagram about it being a 'good year' for blackcurrants. They are certainly very juicy. I made an apple and blackcurrant crumble with some of them, it was delicious. I don't think I've ever eaten fresh blackcurrants and it packed a real taste punch. Magoo declared the crumble was 'too tasty'...which I think is a thumbs up!

It's also the first year our Gooseberry bush has produced fruit. We've had lots of fat, juicy gooseberries which I made into a compote to pour over fresh yogurt.

Summertime means plenty of people are out and about at the plot. It's always lovely when someone passes on some of their vegetables to us. This year our broadbeans have been virtually wiped out by slugs and black fly. They look so moth eaten and only have a few tiny bean pods hanging off the sides. One of our neighbours felt sorry for us and handed me a bagful of broad beans from his plot. He also gave us a bunch of freshly picked radish. We have some growing on our plot too, but I never like to turn down free veg...

The community aspect of allotmenteering features in my five ways an allotment makes family life better blog post. In my opinion, allotments are one of last true community spaces we have in towns and cities. They are open to all, affordable and act as a green space in urban environments.

Thankfully, the peas Magoo planted in her raised bed have produced lots of pods. The broad beans in her raised bed have fared better than the ones planted out in the main beds. We've been picking a few pods each time we go to the plot. Popping peas straight out of the pod and eating them raw is one of the best perks of growing your own food.

July marks the month when the allotment beds are full to bursting. At this point in time we currently have the following crops growing on the plot:
- Parsnips
- Broad Beans
- Celeriac
- Beetroot
- Sprouts
- Potatoes
- Strawberries
- Butternut Squash
- Runner Beans
- French Beans
- Peas
- Raspberries
- Tayberries
- Rhubarb
- Sunflowers

We've managed to squeeze in quite a few after-school trips to the plot with Grandma. It's always lovely to catch the last of afternoon sun and Magoo loves running around after being in class all day. We're now in the first week of the school holidays and we're planning a visit to the allotment later today. Hopefully there will be more peas to pick...

This week I'm linking up with these lovely blogs:

"Making Home" over on www.mrscraftyb.co.uk

"Country Kids" over on www.coombemill.com

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Creating a sensory activity for adults living with Dementia

My husband has recently started a new job as an activities coordinator at a nursing home. He has worked as a support worker for many years now and has sung at a number of Dementia Cafes in our local area. I also work as a Shared Lives Carer and support a lady living with Dementia. You can find out more about our caring roles in my recent "It's Cool to be Kind" blog post.

a selection of herbs and flowers used in a sensory activity

As part of his activities coordinator role he devises ideas to stimulate the residents who live at the nursing home. Many of whom have limited sight, poor hearing and often live with dementia. One of the key features of his job is to promote discussion and stimulate old memories in order to try and keep minds as active as possible.

The home where my husband is the activities coordinator subscribes to the Daily Sparkle, a great tool for carers working with the elderly or dementia patients. The Daily Sparkle features evocative images, quizzes and reminiscence articles - all designed to stimulate memories and conversation.

collection of roses, lavender and homegrown herbs used in sensory activity

Taking this idea forward, he decided to create a sensory activity using plants from our garden and allotment. Fragrance and memory can be closely linked, certain smells often act as a trigger in recalling a long-forgotten event or experience.

homegrown rose used in a sensory activity aimed at adults living with Dementia

At the start of the week I helped him put together a selection of plants...these included:
- A highly fragrant rose
- Sprig of Jasmine
- Bunch of Lavender
- Handful of mint from our allotment
- Fresh Sage
- Fresh Oregano
- A few branches of Rosemary

homegrown jasmine used in sensory activity

It is true that your sense of smell can decline as you get older, but we chose plants with the strong scents. My husband also encouraged the residents to crush the plants, particularly the herbs, to release the smell. The sensory activity using fragrant plants proved to be popular. Those with the ability to see closed their eyes and tried to guess the name of the plant they were holding. Many of the residents have limited sight, so this activity was good for them because other senses like scent become more important.

Also, with limited mobility, some residents cannot access the garden at the home - so the opportunity to smell fresh plants was a pleasant experience for many. As an avid gardener myself, I take the scent of freshly dug soil, cut grass and floral scents for granted. If I were to lose my mobility or sight, then having fresh plants bought closer to me would be an important part of improving my quality of life.

rose, sage and jasmine used in nursing home sensory activity

I thought the large rose would prove to be the most popular scent. I was surprised when my husband told me it had been the fresh Sage that had prompted the most discussion. Many of the residents recalled cooking with the herb, particularly to make Sage and Onion stuffing for Sunday roasts and Christmas dinner. Before the days of packaged food, most people would have used fresh herbs in their cooking.

It's actually really lovely the Sage evoked memories of family meals. I think it's easy to forget elderly people living in nursing homes once had busy lives, running a home, possibly cooking with small children at their feet, multitasking - something many of us are familiar with. I'm glad the Sage from our garden bought back happy memories of families gathered around the dining table.

My husband and I recently signed up to the Dementia Friend initiative. The Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is their biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. Please visit the Dementia Friends website and take a few minutes to watch the video or attend an information session in your local area. And then hopefully you will pledge to become a Dementia Friend and help to support people in your community.

This week I'm linking up with these lovely blogs:
"Happy Days Linky" over on www.whatkatysaid.com and www.quitefranklyshesaid.com
"Sharing the Blog Love" over on hotpinkwellingtons.co.uk and dearbearandbeany.com
"The List" over on youbabymemummy.com and www.mrandmrstplusthree.com
"Blogger Club UK" over on www.cuddlefairy.com, www.myrandommusings.co.uk and mudpiefridays.com
"Making Home" over on www.mrscraftyb.co.uk

Monday, 4 July 2016

Vintage embroidery transfers and my first piece of embroidery

I went up in the loft the other day looking for suitcases. As is often the way when venturing into our loft, I got sidetracked by boxes of nostalgia. Whilst rummaging through one craft box, I was bowled over to find my first ever piece of embroidery. I think it was stitched when I was about eight or nine. The white cotton hankie given to me by my Mum 'to practise on' was still in the embroidery hoop. Exactly as I left it over thirty years ago.

I must've tucked it away when I left home to go to university. It has followed me around several house moves and it was lovely to see it again. Alongside my childhood attempts at embroidery were the vintage transfer sheets I'd used. These were my Mum's from when she first started to sew, so they date from late 1950s to early 1960s. Most of them were free gifts inside magazines, which my Mum must've carefully saved.

I grew up watching my Mum sew and she always encouraged me to have a go. I remember her showing me the 'Mazurka' piece she had sewn as a young teenager. It combined embroidery stitches and applique, I thought it looked beautiful. She made the appliqued piece of linen into a cushion cover and it sat pride of place in my childhood bedroom for many years. I don't know what ever happened to it, which is a shame.

I was in awe of her sewing skills and I must've badgered her to let me have a go. She gave me free rein to search through her delicate embroidery transfers. I was drawn to the flower posy and she ironed the image onto a hankerchief for me. She also gave me the embroidery threads from her childhood, which in turn had belonged to my late-grandmother. I blogged about the tin here.

In hindsight I bit off more than I could chew for a first project and I must've lost interest after a while. It has remained unfinished for over thirty years. I wonder if I could attempt it again now? Even as an adult it looks a bit daunting. Even though it's not complete, I do remember enjoying sewing my wonky satin stitch. As a child I felt relaxed by the repetition of pushing the needle in and out of the fabric. I enjoyed seeing the colour build up on the fabric.

It's something I still enjoy to this day and I have my Mum and Grandmother to thank for instilling a love of sewing at such a young age. When sitting with some embroidery, my own daughter occasionally watches over my shoulder. She is starting to take an interest in sewing. She can even identify some stitches and comments on 'my lovely sewing'...which makes me smile. I hope she will be inspired to be creative with thread too...

Me You and Magoo

I've linked up with July's Crafting is my Therapy with this post. I co-host #craftingismytherapy with Jennifer Jain. The focus of this linky is crafting for pleasure, basically taking some ‘me-time’ to unwind in our busy lives. It doesn’t have to be a finished project, we love seeing work in progress, planning posts or tutorials too.

This week I am linking up with these lovely blogs:

Craft Frenzy Friday over on craftdictator.com

Share The Joy over on thejoychaser.com and contentmum.com

HomeEtc over on mummyofboygirltwins.com

Pick 'n Mix over on www.acornishmum.com

Blogger Club UK over on www.cuddlefairy.com

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