About Me

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Currently, I'm a stay-at-home mum to an inquisitive and often rambunctious three year old girl and her sunny little brother. In a former life, I was a lawyer. I know which I prefer. On the odd occasion that I get some downtime, I knit, crochet, read, sew, sing badly, dance even more so, enjoy a glass of wine and watch bad TV, sometimes in varying combinations of the foregoing and not necessarily in that order of preference.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

One nap at a time

I have been promising myself for years now that I will start sewing more seriously and really get to grips with it. The same obstacle always seems to get in my way: time.  However, since talking to my friend Carie about how she fits in so much sewing and other crafting around a very demanding job and a (I'm sure equally if not more demanding) feisty toddler, I have decide that this is really an excuse and not something I should let get in my way any longer.  Carie introduced me to the idea of what she called cumulative sewing, i.e. you do a bit here and a bit there and trust that, if you do that regularly enough, finished items will result.

I tend to leave sewing until the weekends, on the grounds that daylight is better to work in and the evenings are still too dark, and that I can then get an extended period without childcare responsibilities so that I can really get stuck into something.  This is partly because I need to set up my sewing machine and all my other bits and bobs as I don't currently have a permanent home for them, and partly because I have always thought it wasn't worth doing just a little bit here and there and that I would spend more time figuring out what I was up to than I would doing anything.  However, our weekends are busy affairs and, while some me-time is very much on the weekend agenda, there's always a million and one things I would like to do with that me-time, and a million and one family things I would like to do to (as well as the slightly more humdrum but necessary household activities that are also more easily accomplished at the weekend).  This all-or-nothing approach to sewing hasn't really resulted in much activity and means that I am still more likely to pick up my knitting needles than my sewing needles, despite loads of ideas and a fair few pattern books and piles of fabric.

After my little splurge at the start of the year, I'm having a re-think.  Baby Bird takes a fairly consistent mid-day nap now, which usually gives me a clear hour to focus on something (with time for some household faffing either side).  So, last week and this week I have indulged myself and one nap each week has been a sewing nap.  I'm pretty pleased with the results.

It turns out that one nap-time is long enough to plan, trace/transfer and cut a garment for a little person who wont stop growing and needs a dress for a wedding at the end of the month.  It also turns out that, with a bit of careful planning, you can get two dresses for a small person out of one 76cm remnant, a fat quarter and some scraps, meaning both dresses combined will have cost around £10.  You have to love small people.

Two nap-times in, and I have two piles of neatly cut pieces awaiting sewing and I've pinned the simpler dress together ready for tacking and fitting (...well, sticking it on her quickly to make sure it isn't too small before I even start - I don't propose to be more precise than that at this age!).  I think sewing the simpler one will take two nap-times (mostly because I've never applied bias binding before and I also need to learn how to make buttonholes) and the other one will probably be two or three.  Either way, I'm pretty hopeful that there will be two new frocks in Baby Bird's wardrobe by the end of March.  That's one more than made it into her wardrobe in the whole of the previous year, so not a bad effort in my book.

Next challenge on the sewing front: unearthing the spare room and office from the huge piles of junk that currently inhabit them so that I can set up a permanent sewing corner.  Then there will be no stopping me!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


Today started early.  I was loathe to complain about Baby Bird's insistence that 6 a.m. constitutes morning since she has mostly been waking at 4:30 a.m. in recent weeks and spending an hour and a half awake alternating between being quiet and happy whilst cuddled and crying inconsolably whenever she is put down until returning to her bed half an hour before Hubby and I need to start the day.  That leaves me broken (and Hubby eating breakfast alone most mornings), so 6 a.m. wake-up was a blessed relief.  However, it did leave me slightly concerned that our usual 10 a.m. playgroup might be a bit of a stretch.

Still, I pressed ahead, preparing pancake breakfast for the three of us.  7 successfully tossed pancakes later, I sat down feeling quite impressed with myself and tucked into maple syrup and lemon soaked pancakes with an enormous cup of tea and a glass of juice.  I looked across at Baby Bird's plate and confess I wondered if she could really be our child: the banana had been carefully picked out from the pancake pieces and consumed; the pancake itself was untouched.  She did grudgingly consent to try a small morsel, but mostly demanded repeated renditions of her favourite song and to be allowed to play (her latest baby sign and word).  Oh well, it happens.

I cleaned her up and then began the battle to dress her.  All clothing options were met with a furious shake of the head and she sprinted off at any opportunity.  After about an hour, during which various tactics were deployed, including abandoning dressing in favour of other more popular personal grooming activities such as hair brushing and teeth brushing, I had succeeded in wrestling her into a vest and jeans.  Socks and cardigans were flatly refused.  I showered, I got ready, I tried again.  Socks and cardigans again flatly refused.  I generally allow Baby Bird to choose her own clothes (from within a handful of options I've put together) as I find it makes her feel more involved and so she co-operates better).  Maybe she didn't like the outfits I'd chosen.  I tried different cardigans.  After offering her every cardigan she owned, I eventually chose one for her and put it on her.  She simply sat and shouted at me, whilst tugging furiously at the offending garment (buttons are, for now, elusive).  At that point I told her, in my sternest "mum voice" that, if she didn't stop messing about we would not be going to playgroup.  My happy, smiley baby returned.  She chirped "okay" and climbed on my lap, sucking her thumb.

So, by 9:30 this morning, she was falling asleep on my lap as I read Incy Wincy Spider to her (a really lovely take on the story that was a present from her American godmother), and now, two hours later, she is still asleep and I have unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, fired up the breadmaker, tidied the kitchen and am currently stirring a pot of split pea and carrot soup that will make a tasty (and hopefully toddler tempting) lunch.  Yes, for the second day in a row, I am blogging while stirring something, only it is green and orange flecked and smells delicious today.  We will gloss over the fact that I am wearing the apron I bought for my six year old god-daughter to wear when we are baking, and we will definitely overlook the fact that, asides of it being about an inch too short, it fits rather well...

Monday, 20 February 2012

Where does the time go?

It turns out that it is rather harder to write a blog than I realised. Well, no that is not quite true. I expected it to be hard, but lulled myself into the false sense of security that comes with thinking that, since everybody else manages to fit it in, it must not be as hard as I think. This was a mistake. I have renewed respect for all the bloggers I know and/or read regularly, especially those who seem able to post several times a week. I seriously do not know how they fit it in. I have great intentions but find that between regular family life and the voluntary group that I recently began chairing, there is barely enough time to DO the crafty things that I want to write about, much less write about them.

Hence I am currently typing on my iPad with one finger, whilst rhythmically swirling a baby vest in a bowl of pink dye. It needs twenty minutes of stirring to start things off and I really want a long-sleeved vest in hot pink to go with the dress that I am currently sewing for Baby Bird to wear for a wedding at the end of March. I don't really want to spend twenty minutes just daydreaming (well, that is a complete lie, I would love to, but I also know that rambling thoughts like that will start to fel like blog-posts and I will get annoyed at not being a le to get them out there; plus I will feel like it is twenty minutes that could have been spent more productively and that will spoil my enjoyment of swirling one hand round and round in a bucket of warm water, which I am rally rather enjoying) so I thought I'd try to multitask a bit.

Why not just buy a hot pink vest you ask? Why indeed. Well, firstly I want to match the colour, which can be tricky, especially if you look online and I really don't have the time to wander round the shops looking for one. Secondly individual ones are expensive and multipacks can be hard to find in bright colours and when you did there is always at least one you hate, which is a waste. Thirdly, and for me, most importantly, we already own lots and lots of white vests that fit just fine but are suffering from several months of a toddler's enthusiastic but often ineffective self-feeding, so I'm hoping to breathe some new life into them by dying them some in colours. This should deal with the general slightly grey malaise they appear to be suffering and also mask the few pesky stains that never quite come out (carrot and banana, I'm looking at you). Oh, and it's also rather fun.

So here I am, swirling my hand in a bucket of bright pink water, but it's ok because I'm being productive and telling you, whoever you are, all about it. All I need to do now, is figure out other ways to multitask and squeeze a bit more blogging time out of my day. Any suggestions?