Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Effie's Birth Announcements ::

When Effie was born (and indeed whilst I was pregnant) I was completely blown away by all the general loveliness that we were surrounded by. Be it gifts, invaluable necessities, home cooked meals, hand me down clothing and bedding or friends on hand to look after Milo or listen to my pregnancy/newborn mama woes, I have never felt so loved and surrounded by friends and family before.

 There was nothing I could do to repay all this kindness, but I could thank each and every person who delivered cake, sent parcels and generally showered us with love. What better way thank someone than with handwritten notes.

So I chose my favourite picture of our fresh little one and used PicMonkey to make up a little birth announcement. As I planned to use Moo to get the cards printed, I took the measurements of their greeting cards, made my announcement to that specification and put my order in.

I've been using Moo for more years than I can remember. They were the first business cards I ever ordered and I have never ordered my business cards from anywhere else in all that time. So I knew the print quality would be good and I was not disappointed. The cards are gorgeous and I really loved how the whole thing turned out.

I had plenty of time in those early weeks, where I did nothing but sit and feed the baby, I quickly discovered I could write quite well when she was feeding on my left side. So I spent that time lovingly writing all those thank you cards.

PS see that pencil case there? I'll have the crochet pattern for that on the blog in the next few days!

The next thing to tackle was all the thank you's Milo needed to do. There was no way I was going to be able to get him to draw beautiful pictures for every single person who had kindly included him in the gift giving. He just isn't really much of a drawer, sometimes he'll blow me away with gorgeous pictures, but for the most part he's simply just not interested in drawing. So instead I asked him for one especially lovely picture, really really special, that I could send to everyone. He chose to draw some flowers and did a beautiful job. I scanned the drawing into my computer and printed off as many copies as thank you's he needed to write and set about getting him to write his own personalised message on each and every picture.

Finally, yesterday, I managed to deliver the very last of the cards to their recipients, it only took me nine and a half weeks!

I'm pleased to say I still have a couple of the cards left so I'm saving one to frame for Effie's bedroom when she eventually has a room of her own.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Owl and the Pussycat and The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat :: A Book Review ::

The Owl and the Pussycat is one of my favourite childhood rhymes. I adore the sillyness of it all, but I'm not sure I'd ever read it to Milo before we were sent these new editions to review. Milo loves a rhyming story and many of Julia Donaldson's other stories regularly make their way into our bedtime reading pile.

These two books, beautifully illustrated by Charlotte Voake, contain the original story by Edward Lear in the first with a foreword by Julia Donaldson and the second is a brand new sequel to the original The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat written by Julia Donaldson herself.

Milo loved listening to both stories and really enjoyed the sillyness, especially 'the Pobble with no toes' who appears in the new story.

Julia Donaldson has done a reasonably good job of creating a sequel which feels similar to the first, though I can't lie, it somehow seems a little forced and an unnecessary addition to me, but that may simply be because I'm so familiar with Edward Lear's classic.  Milo however really enjoyed it.

You can see Milo's thoughts on both the books in the video below ::

The books are available here and here.

**we were kindly sent these books to review but all thoughts are our own.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Inside Crochet :: Issue 60 ::

Inside Crochet issue 60

The newest issue of a Inside Crochet magazine found it's way to my door on Friday. as usual it's full of gorgeous patterns, including the last pattern I wrote before my maternity leave.
I particularly love the look of the new mystery blanket. I wish I had time to take it on myself but little Effie is making any kind of craft a pretty difficult challenge right now!
Inside Crochet Issue 60

My Paper Dolls cardigan, is a child's cardigan written in sizes 6 months to 7 years. Worked in one piece, bottom up, with raglan shaping and colorwork across the bottom section. Crocheted in King Cole merino blend 4ply yarn using mostly half treble crochet throughout. It's a reasonably simple piece, once you get your head around the colourwork section and once you've completed the dolls the rest of the piece flies by.

Paper Dolls Cardigan, crochet pattern by Vicki Brown
I'm so pleased to say the sample has already been loaned out to a friend's little girl until Effie's big enough to fit in it and it looks gorgeous on. So many of my samples end up unworn, neatly put away in my wardrobe it's so nice to see one being put to good use.

As the usual photographer for the magazine (Britt Spring) has returned to Australia, a new photographer Leanne Dixon has taken over and I must say she's done a wonderful job. The photography and styling is it's usual faultless self throughout this months pages

The magazine is available for download here at your local newsagent or you can purchase a paper copy here.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Finding Inspiration :: Gifts for Kids ::

I have more gorgeous finds for you today for my UK etsy sellers gift guide series. This time great gifts for children ::

Fabulous gift ideas for children for UK etsy sellers.

Click the little pictures at the bottom to go directly to the listing, or click the big picture to see more gorgeous gifts from UK etsy sellers over on my pinterest board.

If you don't already have an etsy account, sign up here for a £5 gift voucher!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Magic Yarn Ball :: Craft Swap

Magic yarn ball craft swap :: magic yarn balls are balls of yarn filled with tiny gifts, so as you knit/crochet fun little surprises fall out as you go. Fancy taking part in a crafty swap, head on over to

Yesterday I posted a quick question on Instagram, asking if anyone would be interested in taking part in a magic yarn ball swap, the response was great, so here we are. I love magic yarn balls and have been gifting them to my sister and nieces for the last few Christmases, last year my sister made one for me too! Very simply put, a magic yarn ball is a ball of yarn filled with gifts, so as you knit/crochet you are rewarded as you work your way through the yarn. Ideas for gifts to hide within the ball include, sweets (well wrapped obviously!), little toys, buttons and jewellery, but really anything goes, you'd be surprised how much you can hide in there!

magic yarn balls craft swap

Here are a few guidelines for the swap ::
  • Yarn :: I think 100g or around 300-400m is probably the best quantity for there to be a good amount to make something with, yarn thickness/weight will depend on what your swap partner would like, but I shall ask each participant what weight they would rather give. Using a ball from your stash is absolutely fine, but make sure to include the yarn specifics/label in your swap package.
  • Gifts :: I think 15-20 little gifts is good guide, these do not need to be expensive gifts and all the better if some have been made by your own fair hands.
  • Postage :: I will pair people within their own countries as best I can in order to keep shipping costs and postage times to a minimum, though if you'd rather have an overseas swap buddy just let me know.
  • Deadline :: all packages to be posted by 15th December, I know this doesn't give us much time, but it does mean packages should arrive by Christmas which I think would be nice.
So my lovelies, if you fancy joining in shoot me an email at pop 'magic yarn ball swap' as the subject and answer me the following questions ::
  • Name ::
  • Address ::
  • Blog (if you have one) ::
  • Instagram  (if you have one) ::
  • Twitter (if you have one) ::
  • Any other social media accounts ::
  • Yarn weight you'd like to receive :: lace weight / 4ply / double knit / chunky
  • Yarn weight you'd like to gift :: lace weight / 4ply / double knit / chunky
  • Any fibre allergies ::
  • Any food allergies ::
A few notes ::
I will absolutely not share your address with anyone other than your swap partner.
Social media accounts will be given to your swap partner to give then a taste of you and what you like etc...
Feel free to post sneaky pics online, but don't give too much away in the making of your ball so as to spoil it for your partner.

This is the first time I've organised a big swap like this so I'm happy to hear any suggestions you may have, just pop a comment on this post or email me. I'm very much looking forward to this!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Nutella Hot Chocolate :: A Recipe ::

Quite by accident, at the weekend, Milo and I discovered you can make fabulous hot chocolate with Nutella! What we were actually making was a sauce for our ice cream, but added a little too much milk. It was still delicious and we poured it willingly over the ice cream, but decided if we added just a bit more milk we could have a delicious hot drink.

Nutella Hot Chocolate Recipe

So on Sunday that was exactly what we did, we took 3 simple ingredients, topped with marshmallows and snuggled up on the sofa to enjoy.

This is such a simple way to make hot chocolate, if you fancy having a go yourself, I've shared the recipe below.

Meri Meri Launch Party ::

Last week Bex (of Ampersand Commodities) invited me to join her in attending Cheltenham's newest (and finest) party wares shop, Meri Meri. We've been eagerly anticipating the opening of this store since we first spied the notice in the empty unit's window informing us of it's impending arrival a few months ago. So I jumped at the chance.
Meri Meri Launch Party Cheltenham
With Effie now happily taking bottles, I also decided this would be the perfect opportunity to have my first (all be it very short) little trip out without her. It was so nice to get out without children for a bit.
Meri Meri party shop cheltenham
As for the party itself, it was lovely! Cupcakes, fizz and a huge array of gorgeous stationary, paper cups, temporary tattoos and glitter, what more could you want?
Meri Meri Launch Party Christmas
I was quite proud of my purchasing restraint, I only came home with some tattoos for me and Milo and some gold sparkly letter stickers. Though I was so so tempted by this gorgeous dala horse filled with stationary and the whole christmas collection was hard to leave behind.
Meri Meri Launch Party cheltenham
The shop is located on Well Walk, just down the side of Boston Tea Party and is open Fridays and Saturdays.
If you're not local to Cheltenham you should definitely check out their website, especially if you have any parties to plan!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Free Printables :: Christmas Gift Tags ::

I love a free printable! Anything from colouring book pages, to planners. And I love that these uber talented folks are willing to share their beautiful work with those of us less artistic or computer savvy.
Browsing pinterest for Christmas gift tag inspiration recently I came across so many gorgeous printable gift tags I thought I'd round up a few of my favourites to share with you.

10 Free Gift Tag Printables

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Finding Inspiration :: Gifts for Toddlers ::

Happy Saturday to you!
Here are some of my favourite items for toddlers from UK etsy sellers for my gift guide series. My pockets are really starting to feel the pressure of discovering all these lovely etsy sellers whilst compiling these lists I can tell you!

Etsy UK gifts for toddlers

Click the little pictures at the bottom to go directly to the listing, or click the big picture to see more gorgeous gifts from UK etsy sellers over on my pinterest board.

If you don't already have an etsy account, sign up here for a £5 gift voucher!

Friday, 14 November 2014

8 Weeks ::

I feel like I'm probably going to say this every week, but really how did Effie get to be 8 weeks already?!

Things are still going so smoothly, she is so quiet and easy and chilled out, I do genuinely fear I'll just forget she's there sometimes, like I might just pop to the shops without her or something!
On her 4 week birthday she finally climbed back up and over her original birth weight and by 6 weeks she was 9lb 4oz. Having had a slow growing baby before, her slow weight gain was beginning to become a little bit of a concern for this breastfeeding mama so to see her growing so well is such a relief.

Once she was approaching 6 weeks the health visitor suggested attempting to give her a bottle if I thought that was something I'd like to do in the future, as some babies decide they don't like bottles if you leave it too late. As I'd already spent lots of time building up a freezer supply of milk the thought of her refusing to drink it was a little worrying so we set about giving her, her first bottle that night. She took it no problem at all and now Johnny will give her a little bottle most evenings and even Milo got in on the action at the weekend.

She's still sleeping well through the night and even managing 7 hour stretches occasionally now (3 nights in a row at the moment!). This is working great for me, because if she wakes after 6, I'll feed her, change her and put her back down, before getting up myself, whereas if it's before 6 I'll go back to sleep and won't get up until about 9. Getting up at 6 or thereabouts means I get to spend some time with Milo, working on homework and having a chance to spend time together just the 2 of us. It also means I'm showered and dressed at a reasonable hour (rather than having to answer the door in my pyjamas after midday). She doesn't tend to wake again until around 10 which even gives me some time for housework after Milo's headed off to school. Daytimes are still very sporadic, yesterday she pretty much refused to sleep all day. On days like those I just have to remind myself how lucky I am to be getting good nights sleep, but it's still draining not to get any kind of a break.

Some things I want to remember ::

  • She loves to sneeze, always giving off the biggest grin after she has.
  • She also loves raspberries, especially on her tummy.
  • When you collect her from her moses basket after a nap you are rewarded with the most joyful smiles.
  • She does not like tummy time, though she'll give it a go for all of a few seconds.
  • She no longer screams blue murder whenever she's naked, in fact I almost think she quite likes her daily, naked, kick abouts on her play mat now.

Sling Cowl :: A Crochet Pattern ::

Free Crochet Cowl Pattern from Vicki Brown Designs

One thing I definitely don't really need is more neckwear. I have a bit of scarf/shawl problem, I just love knitting/crocheting these garments and I do put them all to good use. However I've discovered since the temperature dropped, that scarves and baby slings do not make for great companions. I'm always worried about the tails getting in Effie's face and they just don't sit quite right with the sling in place.
crochet pattern snood free

When we pulled all the knitwear out of storage last week, I noticed the snood I knit for Johnny a couple of years ago and realised that was exactly what I needed. Something that fits perfectly around my neck, without any ends to get in the way and sits high enough to be well out of Effie's face. As knitting isn't really working for me at the moment, for whatever reasons, I decided to crochet my version.
I thought I'd share this simple little pattern with you here. It's quick, easy, unisex and would make a great Christmas gift too.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Weekending ::

We had another pretty lazy weekend this week. Friday night saw our local cricket clubs big firework display. As the cricket pitch is literally at the end of our road, we stayed home and watched from our doorstep with some of our neighbours. I had great plans of mulled cider, toffee apples and popcorn, but I also got it into my head that the display was Saturday night not Friday, so instead we ordered pizza and made do with left over halloween treats.

On Saturday Milo and I went out to lunch then made up for it's absence the previous evening, by making popcorn and mulled cider (apple juice) in the evening. The rest of the day was mostly Lego and watching the Simpsons.

Sunday Milo decided we should start our Christmas shopping, I'm not entirely sure why, but off we popped into town. We didn't get a lot done but we made a start. I also got Milo a gorgeous new hoodie, which he positively hates, as can be seen in the photo below. Though he has assured me he'll wear it if makes me happy!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and have a fabulous week.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Finding Inspiration :: Gifts for Babies ::

As Christmas approaches, much quicker than I would like, obviously my thoughts are beginning to turn to all the shopping that needs to be done.  I had high hopes, as I do every year, of making all the gifts, but I think I forgot what having a newborn is actually like...

Every year I try my hardest to do all my shopping from independents, as someone who's usually in the same shoes as these folks, I know how precious each and every sale you make is. The best place to search out wonderfully unique and beautifully handcrafted gifts, in my opinion, is etsy, but it can be a bit overwhelming getting started in your searches. This is why I'm doing a series of fabulous gift ideas which can be purchased from etsy sellers in the UK, because it's also nice to shop 'local' and as Christmas draws closer shipping times from international sellers can become a little to close to the bone.

I'm starting the series with 'Gifts for Babies' (this list could also serve as a Christmas list for Effie!).

gifts for newborns

Click the little pictures at the bottom to go directly to listing, or click the big picture to see more gorgeous gifts from UK etsy sellers over on my pinterest board.

If you don't already have an etsy account, sign up here for a £5 gift voucher!