Friday, 25 November 2011

You know you've got a best friend when...

....she's happy to hang around whilst you get extremely excited about all the lovely things in a craft shop!

And excited I was, like a little kid at Christmas, not knowing which thing to look at first! Thankfully Kate knows me SO well that she knew just what she was letting herself in for. Nonetheless, I thank her for her patience.

Needless to say I couldn't resist purchasing... I went in for one specific item and came out with a rather large bag full. A bit like going to the supermarket for a loaf of bread and, somehow, managing to spend at least £30! Only it was a bit more than £30!! Those who know me well won't be surprised by that at all.

One of the things I bought was a rather fabulous Xyron sticker-maker. You can put anything through this machine (within limits of course), and it will transfer sticky stuff to the back. So, ribbon, fabric, buttons, photos, the possibilities are endless. The only question, where to start?

Well, I started today with a new baby card. Thank you, Rachel & Andrew, for offering this possibility - and welcome to Joseph too.

I did once make a card based on the bunting theme - I am after all rather partial to a string of bunting - using those teeny weeny pieces of fabric I just can't bring myself to throw away. I used regular PVA glue, which was okay but a bit messy and not terribly satisfactory.

This little machine, however, changes all of that. Oh, the joy of new toys!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Lovely labels!

This week is half term and we're really enjoying not having to rush out of the door to school every morning. We're trying to have a relaxed week around and about the home and are looking forward to friends visiting towards the end of the week.

This has sent me into a slight Christmas panic as my friend, being so much more organised than me, is bringing a stash of presents! Eek! Before yesterday all I'd managed was to work out what the presents will look like once wrapped and labelled. Not terribly helpful when you have nothing to put in the bags!

And of course, it's all very well thinking about Christmas but there are so many birthdays before then. So, today, being a baby-free-day, Charlotte and I started on our labels for three upcoming birthdays. Auntie Jo, don't look at the photos below!

crafty concentration, shortly followed by a successful circle, which turned into a hearty flower

I have re-discovered stamps in the last few weeks. In my early crafting years I used stamps or lino cuts quite often but they've been hiding in a drawer for quite a while. As I attempt to organise all my craft bits and bobs, the contents of the drawer have revealed all its delights. I'm so excited! Charlotte's loving them too - she made these labels all by herself (with just a little guidance from Mum!)

And, don't you think the wrapped present looks sweet? 

Charlotte's special request for this M&C day was to have tea out somewhere so we'll be off shortly to find some food! Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Strawberry Baby!

Can you believe it? My baby is two years old already! Despite the smallness of her years, we celebrated in true Dando style - a party the weekend before, a party on the day and a party the weekend afterwards!!

The weekend before, we three girls were at the Abergavenny Food Festival (whilst Daddy started his bike ride through the Pyrenees - see for more info). Such a lovely, lovely event with lovely, lovely friends....

The second party - on her actual birthday - was with her two great-grandmas, and big sister and Grampy (the taxi driver!). Such a lucky girl to be able to eat cake with her two nannies!

Not the best photo but the BEST red velvet cupcakes ever!
Each topped with a strawberry, of course!

The third birthday event was on Sunday with her two favourite boys & their families, grandparents, returned father and our soon-to-be new neighbours. The sun definitely had his hat on and we were able to sit out on what was a truly fabulous Indian summers afternoon. I can't help thinking it might have been the last of it's kind for this year... I'm hoping not but ever the realist...

Given Isabel is unashamedly a strawberry fiend, it seemed only fitting to have a strawberry-themed party. Bunting in abundance, a trifle bowl full of the real things, a smaller bowl of strawberry shaped yoghurts (!?), strawberry coated cake pops, more strawberry topped cakes, all finished off with a handful of lavender filled strawbs for the mummies! Oh and some pink fizz too!

Good fun was had by all!

On the one hand it's hard to believe she's really two already. On the other, well, that first year was LONG, the second pretty speedy. She already thinks she's 5, like her big sister - she speeds along a scooter designed for three year olds, refuses to sit in her highchair, has to be coaxed into staying in her pushchair and bounces on the trampoline like a pro!

We're looking forward to some fun times ahead!!

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Foragers

Foraging on a September morning, what fun!

Guess what I've been eating!

The last day for Pick Your Own Raspberries was a wash-out, so instead we went on a blackberry hunt. Or rather Black-braw-bries as Isabel calls them - she's a strawberry fiend and clearly anything with berry in it's name should be linked to a strawberry!

Today's top tip: Don't take an almost two year old blackberry picking with a white t-shirt on! What was I thinking?!

It turned into quite a foraging-fest - blackberries along with some lush sloes plus elderberries, haws and rosehips. I have no idea what to do with the last three, but thankfully I know a girl who does!. The sloes are now in the freezer awaiting gin.

I picked some of our cooking apples (they're not really ready yet but I couldn't wait!) and added them to the blackberries and a mound of sugar to create Blackberry and Apple Rum.

And since there were no raspberries for the Raspberry Vodka, we'll find out if Blackberry and Apple Vodka tastes as nice as it sounds.

Roll on Christmas!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Sorry for the delay!

I'm SO sorry it's taken such a long time to finish this story...there have been so many lovely things going on, I've just been carried away with life and haven't found the time to sit at the computer for more than a few minutes at a time.

Needless to say, the dress was finished, the bride looked gorgeous and somehow we arrived at the end of the school year. 6 weeks later, the holidays are all over and my big girl is now in Year One! We're onto Day Two which was also "brilliant" - her words, not mine.

But let's backtrack somewhat....

Wednesday 29th June

After my last post I knuckled down and finished the job. B2B was slightly surprised by my rush visit as I arrived on her doorstep and presented said dress to her, my girls shouting from the car (it was already after bedtime!) to get Jess's attention. I had decided that the dress needed to go immediately that it was finished. Otherwise, knowing myself too well, I knew I would keep worrying, keep looking at it and maybe even start fiddling again. NO! Enough!

So, here are the long-awaited photos:

Pinning the hem.

Close-up of the strapless bit.

Something blue...


 The mini-train.

Ta-dah, one finished dress!

 All packed up and ready to go!

Mr & Mrs Barber cut the cake.

Of course, I completely forgot to take any photos at the wedding. Suffice to say, the bride looked gorgeous, as did the groom (once his tie was turned the right way!), and it was a truly fabulous occasion.

Congratulations to Mr and Mrs Barber!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The end is nigh....

So here we are, the hem is almost finished and with it the mammoth task of making a wedding dress. I promised it by the end of the month and, phew, I'm almost there in the nick of time.

Just before this photo was taken I shed a few unexpected tears. The emotion of all this sewing, the importance of such a task as this was suddenly overwhelming. I had been having a bit of a hemming crisis - this morning I unpicked everything I'd done last night as I just wasn't happy with it. By this afternoon (having had to rush out for more thread - those hoops and frills just used it all up - ha ha!) it still wasn't really going right - I think my eagerness to deliver the dress today wasn't really helping. I'd been thinking a lot about my Mum and how I really want to thank her for having taught me to sew - thanks for getting me into this mess, Stick! - and wondering what advice she would give me to sort out the blasted hem. Then I realised, she would, without doubt have asked for some heavenly assistance. In fact I could almost hear her saying "Right, Lord, what are you doing here? Why isn't this working? What are you trying to teach me?" So, I asked exactly the same questions. Unfortunately I don't know what the answers were/are but I did feel able to carry on and finish. 

I subscribe to the podcast of Desert Island Discs and the last one I listened to was Alfie Boe. I hadn't heard of him before but he sang in Les Miserables and Moulin Rouge...You can find out more at

Anyway, the poignant bit was when he talked about his Dad. Alfie was the baby of 9 children and very close to his father. He tells how he held his Dad as he was dying and even felt him leave. I can totally relate to that! And then he said that his Dad had told him this: "When I'm gone, there will be a point in your life when you'll see me." For Alfie, that was going into the kitchen, making a cup of tea and noticing his hand and the way he stirred the tea.

I suppose this has been on my mind with all this sewing. My Mum sewed a lot. Amongst other things she would make me miniature versions of her Laura Ashley dresses when I was a child. I learnt by watching, listening and trying it myself. I'm still learning. But I realised today that I sew in the same way as she did - too many pins in my mouth (such a bad habit), foot slightly at an angle on the electric pedal (Mum had a reason for this. Rheumatoid Arthritis meant that her foot wasn't very straight and that was the most comfortable position. I have no reason at all!), the knack of biting off more than you can chew but managing to swallow it anyway (is that me?!)....

Yep, scarily, I am turning into my mother!!! It's a revelation, but why am I that surprised? And actually I'm proud of all that she achieved so I'd say she's not a bad example to follow.

No more tears, just happiness at having been given this gift. Now to try to work out what to do with it! 

Monday, 27 June 2011

So red, so lovely....

Today's lovely thing actually was lovely last week - I just haven't had a chance to tell you about it yet!!

Red Velvet Cupcakes, yum! I keep seeing the recipe or photos of these lovely looking cakes and think that they must be super complicated and way beyond my ability. Well, I'm pleased to say that once I'd worked out how I could get buttermilk without having to search for a shop that sells it (see solution below) they were dead simple and SO effective. And they were so tasty, they were gone even before the icing was made!

Homemade Buttermilk
Put 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar into a measure. Fill to one cup level with whole milk. Leave for 5 minutes. Eh voila! Much less hassle than trying to remember which supermarket sells it. They certainly don't have it at the Coop in Larkhall, which means I'm pretty scuppered and homemade will win for me everytime!

Evidence herewith:

If you're lucky, I might make some for you one day!

PS The dress is almost done, but I can't post anymore photos until after the wedding. It is a secret after all! Sorry!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Sunday lunch - at teatime!

I love Sunday lunch - a roast of some description followed by a proper pudding - although I must admit I'm not terribly good at doing it. Whenever I do, I really wish I was more organised and cook it every week...maybe when I'm a proper grown-up!?

This week we had roast chicken, stuffing, roast potatoes, lots of vegetables, and of course gravy! It would have been at lunchtime but Daddy was out on his bike and we girls were late leaving Grampy's after church. So tea-time it was instead and delicious it was too.

One of the things I found whilst carving the chicken was the little wishbone and remembered a non-broken wishbone was always a treat to pull with my mum. I thought about the way she hooked her little finger around the bone before me and we would both close our eyes and wish, regardless of who got the bigger piece. I'd forgotten all about it. How nice to remember lovely things like that.

Four clean plates (Isabel having had a second plateful!) later, we all enjoyed an ice-cream cone with sprinkles on top (our current favourite pudding). Yum!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Sip it!

Today's lovely things - butterfly straws. Perfect for the butterfly party that C is at right this minute.

Thanks to Gayatri for buying similar for our Book Club Cocktail Night on Thursday and giving me the idea! My mind is whirling with the possibilities...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Zippidee doodah, zippidee ay, my oh my, what a wonderful day!

Can you guess why I'm rejoicing?! Yes, the zip, my biggest fear, is done and looks beautiful (even if I do say so myself!)....

The outside of the dress is now all sewn and is patiently waiting for the lining to be added. With a bit of luck - and hopefully a tired baby - that can happen shortly.

Many thanks to the lovely Claire for looking after the littlest one this morning so I could get this done. I feel much happier now.

And breathe!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Procrastinate no more!

Finally, after much talk and deliberation, and an unsleeping baby, the dressmaking has begun!

Stage One - the cutting of the silk took place this afternoon.

Stage Two - the sewing of the silk incorporating the sewing of the zip (my biggest fear) should have taken place tonight except that the unsleeping baby, who, after much singing to and chatting with her toys (basically procrastinating - can't think where does she gets that?) went to sleep at the last minute and then had to be woken to go and get her big sister from school, cried very loudly and very insistently for most of the afternoon and evening and made her mummy too exhausted to do much other than eat pretzels and drink white wine. I do find a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc helps the recovery process. Then it was time for Luther. Oh, how I love Luther! The long awaited second series started on BBC One tonight. And now, I'm exhausted again! 

Tomorrow is another day and I WILL sew - and hopefully cut, and sew and sew....

Night all! x

PS Proof that the silk was at least laid out ready to cut


Ever the procrastinator, I managed to find a couple of sewing jobs that ABSOLUTELY had to be done...They were both birthday presents after all.

The first, a lovely green bag for Georgia, complete with flower, of course, for her Flower Party.

Closely followed by a little named cushion for my lovely niece Emily, who amazingly turned 18 today. How did that happen? It only seems like yesterday that she and her big brother Tom came to stay with us when they were little dots and we had no clue how exhausting two little people could be. Great fun, but they certainly kept us on our toes. And now, she's officially an adult. Crikey!

And so to the task in this space!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Double Phew!

It fits! Yippee! Bride and dressmaker both very happy.... 'Though I have to say, lovely B2B, getting ill is a bit of an extreme way to lose weight and it wasn't really necessary! Never mind.

Now it's all systems go to get the dress made... or rather it will be on Tuesday! Tomorrow is too full already, what with Little Me, the piano tuner coming at 1230pm, the floor bloke coming after school pick up to let me know exactly what he's going to do in two weeks time and just how much stuff I have to clear out of the two rooms before then, and then the first of my singing workshops happens. I predict I'll sleep well tomorrow night, let's hope my children do too!

Tuesday it is then. Watch this space!


Well, that was the easiest a zip has ever gone into a dress! Which is just as well really given that the bride is coming in a hour for a final pretend dress fit! Hee hee!

Reality kicked in at the end of last week when I realised that if we were celebrating my Dad's birthday, it must be 9th June (HB, Papaji!) and that meant only one month until my "Still 40" celebrations (I'll be 41 the day after!!) and, above all else, that means one month until the wedding....and the dress hasn't even been cut out yet! Eek!

All necessary parts are now here and after tonight's fitting, it's all systems go. I'm on a mission to see just how much I can do in one week. It would be lovely to complete it, but I won't be too optimisitic.....

Wish me luck and say some prayers....

Monday, 30 May 2011


Another Bank Holiday Weekend and I think I'm the only person grateful for the rain! The turf was laid last week in our newly levelled garden and, thanks to the rain, the responsibility of keeping it watered and giving it a good chance to bed down isn't mine. Phew!

The downside is that the ActionAid Table Top Sale on Saturday morning wasn't well populated. However, I did still manage to sell a few things AND make a bit of money too, so it wasn't too awful.

The photo isn't brillliant, but you get the idea....

And now, the Bank Holiday is almost over and school holiday begins. It seems only yesterday that they were going back after the Easter holidays. Oh well, I'm sure it'll be fun. Chaotic at times and hopefully NOT rainy but lots of fun!


Can you believe it? Thursday 26th May was our 10th Wedding Anniversary. How did that happen? Somehow it seems ages ago and yet, not that long at all...

The last 10 years have been full of change, not least the arrival of two beautiful girls (lovely beyond belief). I can't imagine the next being quite so eventful. I'm not sure that's such a bad thing though.

Thanks for the last ten, husband dear, and here's to the next. x

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Slowly, slowly....

Well, it's been a while since my last post, which is mostly because not a lot has happened on the wedding dress front. Now all of a sudden, you'll be pleased to know, we're off and running!

The pretend dress was pinned and cut out a couple of weeks ago - special thanks to Charlotte for helping with the pinning - and then it sat in it's special box waiting for some attention...and waiting...and waiting....

Lots of other lovely things happened in between, of course... like receiving a stash of vintage Laura Ashley material that a friend found in her attic! Can you believe it?! Talk about palpitations! My brain has now gone into overdrive creating all sorts of stuff with the various colours and material types. First up, though was a green dress for C to wear to school for Green Day last Friday. We don't really 'do' green in our house so that was a challenge. She was thrilled with her dress, although my handsewing wasn't up to much - the popper came unstitched so the belt didn't stay on all day. She didn't seem to mind though, thankfully!

And, most exciting, our front door has finally been painted. We've only been here for ten years! The front of our house no longer looks like a student house! Evidence herewith. Thanks to Farrow & Ball for providing the very lovely Pelt colour. Since this pic, there is now a very stylish 'three' in the glass above the door. Yippee!

And today, what an exciting morning! After dropping the girls off at school and nursery, I sewed the pretend dress, just in time for the bride-to-be to try it on before heading to the material shop to purchase the proper stuff. Talk about cutting it fine!

Hooray, hooray, B2B (wow, it really is the right name for you, Jess!) is a perfect 10 - not the mix of sizes the pattern measurements predicted (thank goodness says the dressmaker!). It is SO the perfect style for this B2B and I'm SO excited about making it.

We trotted off to the shop, stroked the material a lot and then bought all the gubbings for said item - silk, lining, bones, interfacing, thread. No zip available but I'll get that elsewhere. How truly fabulous.

All followed up by a delicious coffee and croissant in a fab little coffee shop that I knew nothing about. It's a bit tiny so probably not suitable with kids, but hey, mummys need some secret places sometimes too!

After all that excitement, I now need to do the much more mundane house cleaning! I can think of a hundred lovely things I'd rather be doing.....

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Thursday Night Madness

Today I had the crazy idea that writing a blog might be a good idea! Why? Why writing? Or why crazy? Both, probably....

Crazy, because I don't really "do" writing - not for public consumption anyway. The "Why" is easier-ish....I'm making a wedding dress for a friend (who is getting married in about 8 weeks!) and I thought it might be fun/interesting to record what happens along this crazy road. I'm not a seamstress and certainly not a wedding dress maker, so it could be interesting. Or not!

I think I'll be adding other things along the way too, otherwise you'll be mighty bored....