Thursday, 19 May 2016

DIY project to make you fall in love with wooden cable reels

One thing missing from our garden is a decent table for outdoor dining. Now the weather is warming up, we wanted to source a piece of furniture that would be robust enough to live outside all year round.

Somerset Wood Recycling is one of our favourite places to mooch around on a Saturday morning. I blogged last year about the wood we bought to make Magoo's upcycled garden swing. They have so many pieces of wood in all shapes and sizes at SWR. I don't have any carpentry skills, but I love looking at the wide range of patinas and grains on display.

However, Mr M does see himself as something of a woodsman. This year he bought himself an axe which we used to break up our allotment shed back in February. I think he has visions of living in the woods, carving his own bow and arrows. At Christmas I also bought him some wood whittling tools and a 'how-to whittle' book. Working with wood seems to be his thing, so he doesn't need much persuading if I suggest visiting Somerset Wood Recycling.

Last time we visited, a large pile of wooden cable reels stacked up outside caught our eye. We have considered making a table from one of these reels for quite a while now.

We decided a few weeks ago to buy the largest reel we could fit in the car. Once it was home, Mr M set about sanding it down. It was always going to be a rustic table so we weren't aiming for a perfect finish. Even so, the reel still had some very rough edges, we couldn't use it as a table until it was smoothed down.

After the sanding, Magoo wanted to pitch in and get involved with the project. Magoo and her dad set about painting varnish onto the wood. This table will sit outside all year, so we want to try and preserve it as much as possible.

And that's pretty much all we did to create a strong, wooden dining table. Over the past few weeks we have used it for meals, playing board games and outdoor colouring sessions. It really adds an extra dimension to our garden and it was a bargain at only £20.

One of the best things about the wooden cable reel is there is a pre-existing hole right down the middle. Perfect for putting your sun umbrella in and no drilling required.

The next stage is to install a patio in the corner of the garden where the upcycled table will sit. We managed to get hold of some amazing slabs from FreelyWheely and they didn't cost a penny.

All in all it has turned out to be a thrifty DIY project. Since getting hold of our reel I have looked online to see how other people have upcycled theirs. There are so many fantastic example out there. We quite like the rustic look of the plain wood, but there is plenty of scope to get more creative with the cable reels. Some ideas include adding mosaic to the top, whitewashing the wood and wrapping rope around the central column.

I love these cable reels so much I'm going to go back and buy a smaller one for the allotment. It will be perfect for putting our cups of tea and sandwiches on...

I'm linking up with these lovely blogs:

"Trash 2 Treasure" over on www.coombemill.com

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

"Let Kids Be Kids" over on letkidsbekids.co.uk

"Country Kids" over on www.coombemill.com

"Sweet Inspiration" over on repurposingjunkie.com

Sunday, 15 May 2016

My Sunday Photo 15th May: Big Ted's Operation

girl nurses her teddy bear

Today I assisted a highly skilled nurse in carrying out a delicate operation on Big Ted's neck.

mending a teddy bear

sunday photo of big ted's operation

Sadly his stitching has started to come undone in various places (I know that feeling). He needed a bit of TLC and some urgent surgery.

Once the nurse had carried out extensive observations I moved in with the needle and thread.

mending an old teddy bear

I'm pleased to say that Big Ted has made a full recovery. In fact, he was last seen playing on the trampoline with the nurse and a menagerie of other soft toys...

My Sunday Photo 15th May: Big Ted's Operation

I'm linking up with these lovely blogs:

Photalife

Point + Shoot over on youbabymemummy.com and www.snowingindoors.com

"Let Kids be Kids" over on letkidsbekids.co.uk

Friday, 6 May 2016

Crafting is my Therapy #4 + Giveaway

May's Crafting is my Therapy linky image featuring selection of crafts

Welcome to the fourth “Crafting is my Therapy” blog linky.
I hope you’ve had a wonderful month or making and creating.

This month we are holding another giveaway.
Up for grabs is a fab selection of crafting materials including:
Stabilo colouring pencils // Blu Tack Glu Dots // Blu Tack Foam Pads // Sellotape Clever Tape // Three rolls of decorative fabric tape // Two Sharpie pens, thin and thick // Metallic marker pens // Pack of ribbons // Large decorated wooden buttons

For a chance to win, simply link-up below with your crafty blog posts.
Full entry rules can be found further down in this post.

This month I have been:
- Working on my “it’s Cool to be Kind” embroidery hoop. I was inspired by selfless acts carried out by people who are either paid or unpaid carers. Kindness is something I value in my own life and it can often be overlooked. Head over to my blog post to read more. I'd love to know your thoughts on this subject, either as a carer or as someone who is cared-for. I'd also like to hear about experiences where an act of kindness has made a difference to your life.

Last month was our busiest link-up so far. We loved seeing everything you’ve created. My favourite links from last month’s Crafting is my Therapy are:
– I was genuinely moved by Amy Loves to Sew’s post about the handmade artwork she created for her baby daughter. So much thought & effort went into the piece. This is the real beauty behind making something yourself…you can put lots of love into it.
– As a vintage fabric fan, I adored Zeens and Roger’s patchwork knitting bag, head to her blog to find out more…
– The Messy Brunette worked her crafty magic on her haul of prizes won from a blog giveaway. I make no secret of the fact I love her hand painted jars and take every opportunity to tell her so. Hopefully she will put together a tutorial on her blog soon
– And finally, Simply Blossoms blogged about an ingenious way to colour match yarn before you start a knitting or crochet project. Take a look at her post to see the idea in all its colourful glory.

April's Giveaway Winner
Last month we also held a giveaway. There were 8 posts (not including the hosts) added to our link-up in April. Using the random number generator, I can tell you that the winner is…Amy Loves to Sew! A bundle of crafty goodies 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 work.
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, I love seeing work in progress, planning posts or tutorials too.

Please Grab the Crafting is my Therapy badge:

Me You and Magoo
Giveaway Entry Rules:
- The prize is a box of crafty goodies as detailed above.
- The winner will be chosen at random from eligible entries to the linky this month.
- In order for an entry to be eligible it must be a relevant post, it must mention the Crafting is my Therapy linky either by text or using the badge, and it must link back to one of the linky hosts. The linky will remain open until Thursday June 2nd 2016.
- If the winner does not respond within 28 days we will redraw and reallocate the prize. There is no cash alternative. Invalid entries will be discounted.

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. Want 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” linky will open on the first Friday of each month 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 linky 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 linky (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 )
– 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.



Wednesday, 4 May 2016

It's cool to be kind: why we should value carers

As I write, my husband is working a late shift as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities. He often isn't at home to kiss our daughter goodnight because caring is a 24/7, 365 days of the year job. It's also a job that doesn't get the respect it deserves. Caring for the sick, elderly or vulnerable is often seen as menial work. People who work in hospitals, nursing homes and social care are often underpaid, under valued and burnt out. And yet the job they do is essential. We may all call on their services at some point in our lives, either for relatives or for ourselves.

it's cool to be kind hand embridered quote

I have so much respect for the work my husband does. He supports adults with challenging behaviour and complex needs. His role can involve being verbally abused, physically attacked and calming agitated individuals. It also involves lots of hugs, laughter and genuinely moving moments. Sometimes all in the same shift. Good support workers can change people's lives.

I also work as a carer supporting adults with learning disabilities through the Shared Lives scheme. I offer day support on a one-to-one basis in our own home. I find it challenging at times, but it can enrich someone's life by offering access to the wider community and it provides families with valuable respite. We both get alot of job satisfaction from our work.

As I said above, you certainly don't do support work for the money. But I sometimes wish that caring roles had more value in our society. Wouldn't it be nice if success could be measured by the selfless acts you carry out? Care staff are the people who care for our Mums, Dads, siblings, offspring and friends when they need help.

Alongside paid caring staff are the army of unpaid carers. And when I say army, I'm not exaggerating. In the UK today 6.5 million people are carers. They often support loved ones who are disabled, seriously ill or require help in old age. They do many hours of unseen work with little respite. Unpaid carers save the UK economy billions of pounds each year. And many are unfaltering in their support, the suggestion that you turn away from a loved one would be unthinkable to them. Thank goodness there are organisations like Carers UK to offer carers support too.

Last year I visited Banksy's Dismaland and I saw this banner in the Geodome display area. I think the sentiment behind the banner is spot on. I would also add we need to value the people who support those vulnerable people too...

protest banner inside Banksy's Dismaland Geodome tent

Anyone can bring more kindness into their life. I love the idea behind the Random Acts of Kindness movement. The quote I love from their website is: “no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted”. I think that's so true. We've all been in situations where someone's kindness, either from a stranger or someone we know, has changed our day, week or even our life.

close up detail of chain stitch on embroidery hoop

"Crafting is my Therapy" is a project I decided to embark on at the start of the year. I wanted to create at least one sewing project a month and share it on my blog. I like to jot down phrases or quotes that mean something special to me. I then embroider the words onto vintage fabric or calico and display them in a hoop or attach to a canvas. I am a big fan of the Craftivist Collective who believe "craft can be used as a tool for gentle activism". I think words can be powerful, they make us think and reflect on certain aspects of our lives.

This month I was inspired to stitch "It's Cool to be Kind" as a tribute to all the kinds acts taking place across the world at any one time. It's a more positive twist on the 'cruel to be kind' phrase. It can be easy to see the world as a bleak place. But there are many selfless people helping and caring for others. Kindness is a trait that is often overlooked, but it's something I value greatly in my own life and in other people.

I'd love to know your thoughts on this subject, either as a carer or as someone who is cared-for. I'd also like to hear about experiences where an act of kindness has made a difference to your life.

Carers UK
Carers Trust
Shared Lives Plus
Random Acts of Kindness

embroidery hoop featuring chain stitch and back stitch

This week I am linking up with these lovely blog:
"Making Home" over on mrscraftyb.co.uk
"Magic Moments" over on theoliversmadhouse.co.uk
"Happy Days Linky" over on www.whatkatysaid.com and www.quitefranklyshesaid.com
"Share With Me" over on www.letstalkmommy.com
"The Truth About..." over on andthenthefunbegan.co.uk
"Blogger Club UK" over on www.cuddlefairy.com and www.myrandommusings.co.uk

"The Prompt" over on mumturnedmom.com
"Candid Cuddles Quotes" over on www.cuddlefairy.com

Thursday, 28 April 2016

A year on the allotment: April 2016

April is the time when the growing season begins in earnest on the allotment. Suddenly the place becomes a hive of activity with plot-holders digging, rotivating and make a start on planting crops...

muddy homegrown leeks pulled fresh from the ground

Whilst we've done plenty of digging and rotivating, crops are still thin on the ground at the moment. We pulled out the last of our leeks at the start of April. Yes, I know they look like spring onions, but trust me, they are leeks. They actually tasted really delicious.

yellow daffodils grow in the sunshine on our allotment

This April has been particularly cold, so we're behind with planting certain things out. Only the other day I had to do a double take when I saw snow and hail falling outside my kitchen window. Here's hoping May is going to be warmer so that we can catch up with seed planting.

I have planted out some parsnip plug plants, but they look a bit battered in the cold and wet weather we've been having recently. Hopefully they will perk up once some sun hits them. We also have onions and garlic happily growing away. I managed to put in two rows of spuds, but will wait until May to put more in.

parsnip plug plants waiting to be planted on our allotment

We've rotivated most of the open beds on our plot ready for planting. Magoo loves to help with raking the soil, although she often declares that "it's hard work", and she's not wrong. Watering is her favourite activity, but we have to guide her away from the cans. More water is something we certainly don't need at the moment. I'm thinking of putting aside a 'muddy area' where she can pour water and stomp about in her wellies to her hearts content...

Magoo rakes the soil on our allotment

One job ticked off the list this month was painting the shed. Magoo and her cousin did a sterling job of painting most of the wood before they got fed up and started to play hide and seek. Magoo's cousin chose the colour of the paint and I think it looks fantastic, it lifts the whole plot.

our freshly painted sky blue allotment shed

Over the past year we've struggled to keep the surrounding grass from invading our beds. Mr M and Magoo have worked hard this month putting edging wood around the plot. Hopefully this will help to hold back the invasive grasses that can swamp us if we're not careful.

We've also found a great source of cheap woodchip from our local disused quarry. There is a tree surgeon who runs his business from the quarry and there's always a huge pile of woodchip for sale. You can fill a large garden waste bag for just £2, which is a bargain. We've covered the main path running up the middle of our plot so far. We plan to use the woodchip around the whole plot as a mulch to keep weeds and grass to a minimum. Lets hope it works!

spreading woodchip on our allotment path in spring sunshine

evening sunshine on our woodchip path on the allotment

April has been busy month for prepping the plot and we've got lots of jobs done in the lighter evenings. We just need a warm spell in May to get some crop growing underway.

This week I am linking up with these lovely blogs:

Country Kids over on www.coombemill.com

How Does Your Garden Grow? over on gemmagarner.com

Making Home over on www.mrscraftyb.co.uk

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Beach combing, frisbee and messages in the sand

young child throws frisbee into the air against a blue sky

I have taken a complete blogging break over the school holidays. Magoo likes to be out and about as much as possible. Plus my Mother-in-Law came to stay for a week, so I wanted to give them both my full attention. Our holiday was filled with trips to the park, meeting up with friends, walks to the allotment, bike rides, ice creams and lots of trampolining.

We seem to be a little bit out of step with our Easter Holiday break. Most schools had their holidays around the bank holiday weekend. Ours started a week after the Bank Holiday weekend. Although it has been a bit grim and grey at times, we have enjoyed the occasional burst of Spring sunshine.

sweeping photo of somerset coastline towards sand point

Saturday was a bright and beautiful day, so we decided to make the most of the sun and head to the beach near our home. We love this particular beach because there are lots of places to explore. Along the tide line you can often find interesting pieces of drift wood, pebbles in a hundred and one different shades and sometimes the odd fossil.

Due to high tides and Winter storms, the sandbanks were more exposed than usual. It looked like large chunks had been washed away. We could clearly see the exposed layers of sand, stone and shells in the bank. Magoo and Mr M couldn't resist having a dig around to see if there were any fossils or interesting stones to be found. We particularly love finding pebbles containing quartz because they glitter in the sunshine and look like jewels.

coastal erosion on sand banks in north somerset

child and father search for pebbles and fossils in sandbanks

We took bucket and spades, beach mats and a frisbee. Magoo loves the frisbee, and spent quite a while throwing it into the air just for the fun of it. I really wanted to try and capture a photo of the neon pink frisbee against the blue sky and Welsh coastline in the distance.

neon pink frisbee against bright blue sky and welsh coastline

We also spent some time collecting stones to write messages in the sand. I though it might be nice if another family or a dog walker found our 'LOVE' note later on in the day. I hope it survived the tide coming in...but if it didn't, there's plenty more pebbles to write a new message next time we're on the beach.

love note written in the sand with pebbles

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

"Country Kids" over on www.coombemill.com

"Twinkly Tuesday" over on mummascribbles.com

"Point + Shoot" over on youbabymemummy.com and www.snowingindoors.com

"Whatever the Weather" over on www.lifeunexpected.co.uk and monkeyandmouse.co.uk

"Let Kids Be Kids" over on letkidsbekids.co.uk

"Blogger Club UK" over on www.cuddlefairy.com and mudpiefridays.com

Friday, 1 April 2016

Crafting is my Therapy #3 + Giveaway

Welcome to the third “Crafting is my Therapy” blog linky.

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

This month we are holding a giveaway.

Up for grabs is a fab selection of crafting materials including: * Mini alphabet stamp set * Crayola Twistables coloured pencils * Mini cross stitch kit * Blu Tack White Glu * Blu Tack Glu Pen * Blu Tack Micro Dots * Blu Tack Glu Dots * 2 rolls of patterned Sellotape * 3m yellow spotted ribbon * Sellotape tape dispenser and tape

For a chance to win, simply link-up below with your crafty blog posts.

Full entry rules can be found further down in this post.

This month I have been:

- Finding it hard to make time to complete a full piece of embroidery. This month I just haven’t had time to put together a finished piece. Having said that, I have attempted to learn some new stitches. I’m really pleased with the results and enjoyed taking some time out to sew. You can see my embroidery stitches blog post here.

- Over the past few weeks I’ve spent lots of time looking at various embroidery stitches and tutorials over on Pinterest. I made a start on attempting to learn some new stitches over the Easter weekend.

My favourite links from last month’s Crafting Is My Therapy:

– I was really happy to see “Tilly’s Vintage Workshop” linking up with us last month. Tilly Rose wrote this uplifting post about collaboration, the crafting community and the work she has created recently. I’m hoping to see more posts from her over the coming months…

Here are some other crafty corners of the web you may like to check out:

– I saw the Five jawdropping crafts from around the UK article over on Facebook a few days ago. Put together by BBC Arts it shows some eye catching pieces of craft. I particularly like the ‘counter-knit” £10 note…very clever.

– I love the idea of crafting bringing people together. I saw this “Hashtag roundup: Making for others” post on the Mollie Makes website and thought I would share it with you. It details various charity projects and the hashtags associated with them. For example #make2share involves giving an unexpected handmade gift to someone who could do with a boost. There are lots more initivates listed, so I would recommend taking a look at the article.

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

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, I love seeing work in progress or planning posts 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 http://www.jenniferslittleworld.com

The “Crafting is my Therapy” linky will open on the first Friday of each month 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 linky 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 linky (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 Facebook, you’re more than welcome! Jennifer Jain’s links are here too: Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Giveaway Entry Rules:

- The prize is a box of crafty goodies as pictured above. This giveaway is open to residents of the United Kingdom only.

- The winner will be chosen at random from eligible entries to the linky this month. In order for an entry to be eligible it must be a relevant craft related post, it must mention the Crafting is my Therapy linky, and it must link back to one of the linky hosts, either Me, You and Magoo or Jennifer's Little World. The linky will remain open until midnight on May 3rd 2016.

- You can link up a maximum of three eligible posts.

- If the winner does not respond within 28 days we will redraw and reallocate the prize. There is no cash alternative. Invalid entries will be discounted.

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