Sunday, 29 March 2015

Capture by Lucy's Springtime Surprise Project

Back in January whilst I was pootling about on Twitter, I spotted the hashtag #springtimesurpriseproject. Curious, I searched for that particular tag & found out Lucy from the wonderful Capture by Lucy had created a little project to spread some cheer this Spring.

As Lucy explains on her site:

"The Springtime Surprise Project is about doing something nice, just because. Something kind, thoughtful and all for a stranger. It's about celebrating all that is good about the connections we make on the internet."

I thought it sounded like a great idea, so I registered my details on the Surprise Project website & waited to hear about my Surprise Partner. Lucy tinkered with the matching & organising and after a few weeks I received an email containing my partners address & her gift preferences. It was quite spooky because my Springtime Surprise Partner lived a few hundred yards away from a place we used to live about a decade ago.

I received my Surprise Gift in March. The project had been in the back of my mind, but it was still a surprise when the parcel dropped through the letterbox because I had no idea exactly when it would appear. It was so lovely to receive a parcel with four carefully wrapped packets with a hand written card explaining in detail why each gift had been chosen.

The gifts pretty much ticked all the boxes for me, handmade, vintage & bright colours. What more could I ask for?

I hope Lucy decides to run this project again because it certainly creates a connection between people & hopefully brings a smile to someone's face.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Revamping a dresser with chalk paint and my collection of vintage ceramics

Back in May of last year I blogged about the bargain dresser we bought on ebay & my discovery of chalk paint. Giving the dresser a new lease of life was a real family affair with Magoo getting stuck in with this transformation project. Annie Sloan chalk paint is completely non-toxic, so I have no problems with letting my daughter lend a hand with a paintbrush. I wanted to share the finished project with you. My collection of vintage ceramics finally has a new home & I love the results.

The pieces featured in this collection are from Hornsea, Meakin and Taunton Vale. All of them have been thrifted by me over the years. I've always wanted a proper place to display them & I think this dresser fits the bill perfectly. By using chalk paint, we revamped a dresser made from dark, dull wood into something light & airy...and all for less than £100.

I'm linking up with the Vintage Inspiration Party over on knickoftime.net

I'm also linking up with Vintage Bliss Tuesdays on www.womaninreallife.com

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Discovering Steart Marsh wetland nature reserve

I was born and raised in Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. We visited many parts of the local area when we were growing up & yet I have never been to the section of North Somerset coastline where Steart Marshes is located. I know the coast pretty well up to Burnham-on-Sea and we travelled to the Quantocks and Exmoor on many occasions. But the section between Burnham and Watchet? I haven't much of a clue about it. I have heard my Mum talk about Steart Marsh a few times, in fact she painted an acrylic landscape of the area & it hangs above our mantlepiece.

We decided to visit Steart Marshes to satisfy our curiosity. I knew there was an important wetlands area there & Magoo loves peering through the binoculars to see if she can spot things, so off we went.

On the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust's website it says:

"The Steart peninsula juts into the Severn Estuary at the point where it is joined by the River Parrett. This position in the landscape makes it both enticing for migrating birds and puts it at the mercy of one of the biggest tidal forces in the world.

The Environment Agency spotted an opportunity to manage coastal change to protect Steart Village and create a huge new area of intertidal habitat. They presented the options to the communities in and around Steart and asked what they would like to happen. The local community came out in support of managing the change and taking the opportunity to create habitat.

The Environment Agency chose the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) to manage the site. The two organisations, in close collaboration with the residents of Steart Village and the local community, have now set about creating vast new areas of wetland nature reserve from the land."

Having never visited the area...it feels like some sort of hinterland in my mind, until today. And I have to say, I am a complete convert to this stretch of the coast. It is beautiful. In fact it seems to be a well-kept secret as we had the place virtually to ourselves. The WWT and Environment Agency have clearly invested in the area. There are brand new hides dotted around the wetlands, lots of information on birds you may see, a pristine toilet block located in one of the car parks, wide footpaths suitable for buggies, bikes and wheelchairs and stunning views almost everywhere you look. Perhaps I shouldn't even be telling anyone about it? Well, I'll let you in on a secret, it's an amazing place to visit. Just don't tell anyone...

I'm linking up with the lovely Country Kids over on the Coombe Mill blog

#ordinary moments on mummydaddyandmemakesthree.co.uk

Image of the Week over on www.trulymadlykids.co.uk

My Best Post of the Week #MBPW over on www.britmums.com

Sunday Stars over on minitravellers.co.uk

Point + Shoot over on youbabymemummy.com

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Calico dolls made with my mum over thirty years ago

When we were small, my Mum used to make handmade dolls. Back in the early 1980s, way before online selling was born, she would sell her dolls to a local shop in town. It was a way to make a little bit of income alongside being a busy stay-at-home Mum to two small children. On the eve of Mother's Day, I want to share some photos of these lovely dolls & also share the dolls my Mum would help me make. I think these early memories of watching my Mum sew instilled in me a love all things creative.

I remember my Mum would often have the sewing machine out on the dining room table when we were little. The whirr of the machine was a familiar sound in our house. Some of my earliest memories are of my Mum letting me sit next to her & press the foot pedal whilst she guided the fabric through.

My Mum used to make two types of fabric dolls. One type was a larger calico doll with brown wool hair, carefully styled into two thick plaits on each side of the doll's head. They wore beautiful dresses with many layers of petticoats underneath, all handmade by my Mum. She also made smaller dolls with close-cropped hair. They all wore various different styles of dress. The pictures featured here are of the smaller doll wearing a ballet outfit.

Sewn in calico and with hand knitted jumpers and pretty gingham dresses, as a small child, I used to covet these dolls. I didn't really understand how complicated the work was, when I look at them now, I see how much effort went into every detail of each doll. The doll featured here has a little wrap-over cardigan carefully knitted by my Mum, she wears a dress sewn in soft cotton fabric, her tiny little felt ballet shoes are tied up with pink ribbon. There's even a tiny pair of lace-trimmed bloomers under the dress.

When I watched my Mum make these dolls, all I wanted was to get my hands on them, but they weren't intended for me, they needed to be sold in the shop. I must've worn my Mum down with pleading because she eventually gave me one of the ballet dolls. Handmade over three decades ago, she's holding up well.

Like most children, I was curious about how things are constructed and I wanted to imitate my Mum. So, as I got a bit older, probably around the ago of six or seven, my Mum would let me have some calico, wool, felt and fabric and I would try and copy the dolls she made. I have kept two of my attempts. I think I must've had quite a bit of help with both of these, my sewing skills were still developing, but I enjoyed having a go.

All these dolls are over thirty years old now. I think the ballet doll has stood the test of time & this design would still be popular with girls today. Some designs are timeless, little girls always like cloth dolls. I kept my own attempts at doll-making for sentimental reasons, in fact, it's a miracle I still have them because I've moved homes quite a few times. My early memories of watching my Mum sew almost definitely sowed the seeds of creativity in my brain...so I'm not going to part with them any time soon.

This Mother's Day will be tinged with sadness because my Mum will not have her own Mother around for the first time in her life. My Granny passed away a few weeks ago. She was also a very skilled seamstress and her love of sewing was passed onto my Mum, who in turn, passed it onto me. These dolls represent the way skills can be handed down through the generations, and I think it is important to keep that tradition alive. My daughter watches me sew and has already declared she wants to be a 'Maker' when she grows up...which sounds good to me.

So, I think this Mother's Day if you do one thing, try and make something together...make a den, make a meal, make a mess...make memories.

I'm linking up with Brilliant Blog Posts and My Best Post of the Week #MBPW over on Britmums.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Spring has arrived at Court Farm in Somerset

It looks like Spring has finally arrived. We spent a fun day bottle feeding the lambs, cooing over the chicks, watching some baby goats settle into their new home and lots of fun on the zip wire at Court Farm in Somerset.

In Britain we love to moan about the weather. But if we didn't have the damp & dreary Winter months, I don't think we'd appreciate the re-emergence of the sun & lazy days outdoors quite as much. My Mum has a friend with a son who is an artist in Los Angeles. He loves to travel back in Winter to his parent's house in the UK just to see the beauty of a frost in the morning.

Saturday was the first day this year we've all been out & about without our coats on...a red letter day for us Brits!

It really was lovely to feel the warm sun on our faces.

Court Farm is located about 2-3 miles outside Weston-super-Mare and in my opinion, March & April are two of the best months to visit. They have lots of baby lambs to feed & all the children who came along to sit on a straw bale got a chance to hold a bottle. Some were brave enough to hold very wriggly lambs for a cuddle. Magoo loved holding the bottle, although it's always a shock to see how strong these small lambs are when they get a whiff of some milk.

We also saw baby chicks making quick progress around the farmyard...with the mother hen never too far away.

There is plenty of farm land to roam over and we took a stroll down to the lake to say hello to the donkeys.

Alongside the newer residents taking most of the limelight in the large barn, there is a selection of more 'mature' sheep, goats, ponies and pigs in various other barns dotted around Court Farm.

Enjoying our first outdoor ice lolly of the season...

Court Farm also has plenty of outdoor play space, including a large wooden fort, trampolines and Magoo's favourite - zip wires!

I'm linking up with these lovely blogs Country Kids, #ordinarymoments over on www.mummydaddyandmemakesthree.co.uk, #magicmoments on theoliversmadhouse.co.uk, Let Kids be Kids, ‘Living Arrows' on Shutterflies blog and last, but not least #brilliantblogposts over on honestmum.com

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

10 of my favourite Mother’s Day cards created by Independent Designers

Every year I buy my Mum a card created by an independent designer. There are loads to choose from, many raise a smile and all sing the praises of Mums, Grandmas, Nannas and Grannies. We’re all busy people & sometimes it can seem easier to bung a card in the trolley when we’re doing the weekly shop. But I urge you to either visit a local gallery or independent shop in your area or get online & purchase a card from someone who designs & creates in the UK.

We have such a wealth of talent in this country. Independently designed cards can often be personalised, many are hand drawn and lots of designers use techniques such as screen printing, mixed media and papercut skills.

By choosing a card that hasn’t been mass produced by a large card manufacturer you are helping to support home grown talent. You may also like to read about the “Just a Card” campaign started by Sarah Hamilton and supported by Mollie Makes and The Design Trust. The campaign aims to encourage people to appreciate just how valuable every purchase from artists, designer/makers and independent shops are. Take a look at their website to find out more about the “Just a Card” campaign

Alongside lots of cuddles and a cup of tea in bed, I'd be happy to have any of these cards handed to me on March 15th. The following is a list of 10 of my favourite cards created by independent designers from the United Kingdom.

First up is 'Tea Rrific' Mother's Day Card from Tee and Toast

Custom Illustrated Portrait for Mother's Day Character Card by Calico Skies

Mother's day card - elephants - handmade card by Sally & the Freckles

My Fingers May Be Small But… Cute Mummy Card by Cloud 9 Design

Happy Penguin Mothers Day by IvoryMint

Funny Mummy Poetry Card by DogAsPony

Mums things mothers day card by mrs L cards

Thank you for being so lovely - handcut custom papercut card by House Of Alphonse

Personalised 'Best Mum' Family Tree Card by Peardrop Avenue

Personalised 'Loveliest Grandma' Certificate by Eskimo Kiss Designs

“It is more important than ever to support our local independent shops. To keep our High Streets peppered with interesting galleries and indie shops we need to be mindful of our buying choices. So whether it’s just a card, a print or a piece of jewellery, support your favourite makers, and show us your purchases using the hashtag #justacard.”

This blog claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. I have asked permission from each of the designers featured here to use their images on my blog.

Linking up with Brilliant Blog Posts,My Best Post of the Week #MBPW over on Britmums and The List link-up on youbabymemummy.com

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