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Sunday, 10 September 2017

THANK YOU FROM DOODLE POP!

To celebrate my first month of doodling over at Doodle Pop! I held my first give away. So many people entered and I continue to get such lovely feedback on my work.

To say a big thank you, here is a downloadable heart colouring page.

Enjoy! 

Friday, 1 September 2017

HELLO AUTUMN COLOURING PAGE

I love, love, love autumn- crunchy leaves underfoot, cosy nights in, candles, apple pie, chillier nights and wooly jumpers, I just love it all.

Now that September is here, school is starting again and soon the evenings will be drawing in, it feels as though autumn is just around the corner.  So to get into the cosy spirit of things, here is an 'all things autumn' colouring page to download, from Doodle Pop!



The beginning of September also marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month; my eight year old niece, Izzy, can be seen here in this video talking about her fight against cancer. I am in constant admiration of her strength and bravery, facing something so awful, so young.

The colouring page is free to download {from here} but I have set up a Just Giving page to help raise money for Cancer Research Uk Kids and Teens. If you can, it would be amazing if you could make a small donation to support this great charity, who do so much for young people.

Happy colouring!

Monday, 28 August 2017

HOW TO: WOODEN PLAY GYM

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the things which I needed to get to be prepared for the arrival of my little one. I really do not want to go crazy and buy lots of things which I know will be used for a fleeting moment, if at all, and then put in a cupboard.

One of the things I do want for him is a play gym, I had a look online and couldn't find anything which I really liked/went with the interior of my living room. Then I came across wooden framed play gyms on Etsy. So of course, I made my way over to Pinterest and after a while of scrolling, I thought, 'I could make one of those.' I'm not sure where my inner carpenter came from, but it soon had me in B&Q buying lengths of timber, dowel and a thing for the drill which spins around and makes a big hole. (I've forgotten what it is call-I will Google it and be sure to put it's technical name in the list of things you'll need.)

I already had a saw {from a previous moment of inspiration, where I made a radiator cover from an old pallet-yep, thank you Pinterest}.


So after my shopping trip, I was ready to get making.

Here is a list of materials you will need, along with tools to get the job done:

4x70cm lengths of timber
1x 65cm length of dowel {I used one which was 15mm wide)
Curtain rings
Wood stain and paint {if you want to paint it, rather than leaving it eu naturale}
Sting or twine

Tools:
Tape measure
Saw
Drill
Sander {or sandpaper, if you aren't lazy like moi}
Flat drill bit {that's it proper name} I bought one which was 14mm
Drill bit to make a small hole
Paintbrush
Hammer

Before I started I knew that I didn't want to leave the wood pine coloured, but I wasn't sure what colour I did want to paint or stain it. So, I tested out a few different options on some spare timber before I started.


With decision made, it was time to get making. 

First I measured four 70cm lengths from the timber and cut them to length, with the saw.


I measured and marked 10cm from the top of all the lengths {the legs of the play gm} and ensured it was centred before using the flat drill bit to make a hole in each leg.


This was the bit I was most worried about messing up as I'd never used one before-but it was a piece of cake.


I then measured 20cm from the hole I had just made and again made a central mark. Using a small drill bit {big enough to thread your string through} I made a hole in each leg.


With all the holes made, I sanded everything to ensure that all the edges were smooth and used the sander at an angle on the top and bottom edges to make them rounder, rather than a square edge.


The last thing to do before putting it all together was to paint it. If you don't want to paint or stain yours, then just scroll down for the last little bit. 

I decided to stain most of the wood with a walnut wood stain and then painted just the tops of the legs with Farrow and Ball Blackened, which I had left from painting my living room. I also decided on painting the curtain rings in the F&B paint, rather than spraying them copper, as I originally thought I would. 

Once everything was dried {the hardest part as I am so impatient when it comes to little projects like this!} it was time to put it all together. 

I used the hammer to gently {not so gently} persuade the dowel to fit into the hole of one of the legs, and then through another. Because the dowel was slightly wider {by 1mm, but still a stubborn millimetre, so it needed a bit of a bash to get it through} it meant that it was nice and snug and I didn't need to secure it on the other side, once it was through the two legs. 



Then, don't do what I did and eagerly get on with doing the same on the other side without putting the curtain rings on the dowel! So, once I had taken the legs back off and put the rings on, I once again put the dowel through the two remaining legs. 

Lastly, I threaded a bit of string through the smaller holes on both sides; for now I have just tied knots to secure it, I may buy some wooden beads to make it look slightly nicer. {You may need to use the drill again to open up the holes a little if you have painted the legs.}



And there you have it, a wooden play gym...



Except it isn't that entertaining at the moment, I still need to make or buy some toys to hang from it but that won't involve any heavy machinery so figure I can do that in the coming weeks before my little Christmas Pudding arrives.

Have fun making!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

THE YUMMIEST BROWNIES

This recipe is one that I have used for a long time and I am pretty sure has changed slightly each time, but each time I have made them, they are just the yummiest, gooiest pieces of chocolate heaven...which never last long {although technically they could last a good few days and even longer in the freezer, but that would require a much higher level of will power than I currently possess!}

The ingredients are simple, as is the method.

You will need:

200g dark chocolate
200g butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs
280g caster sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
80g plain flower


You can also add additional ingredients once everything is mixed together: milk and/or white chocolate, nuts, raspberries, marshmallows...anything you like really.

The oven needs to be set to 160 fan/180/ gas mark 4 and line a brownie tin. {I don't actually have one so use a standard round cake tin and it works just the same-who really cares what shape they are when they taste as good as they do!}

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain marie and leave to cool.

Whilst this is cooling, whisk the eggs and the sugar until pale in colour and double in volume. Once the chocolate has cooled, use a spatular to fold into the egg and sugar mixture, just until it is mixed through.
Sieve the flour and cocoa into the mixture and again, fold in until it is just mixed in-try not to over fold.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes.


If the brownies wobble when you move the oven shelf, then they are not yet ready and will need a few more minutes-bake until the top has a shiny, paper like crust and the edges are just coming away from the sides of the tin.



Once out of the oven, avoid all temptation and leave to cool in the tin. Once they have cooled for a while, put in the fridge for a few hours to set and then they will be ready to be cut into squares, triangles, whatever shape takes your fancy.

I have been impatient in the past and attempted to cut them before letting them set in the fridge. I ended up with a few square brownies and then a bowl of chocolatey fudge-it tasted yummy but I couldn't really present it to my friend's who had come around for lunch.

Enjoy!

{If they last long enough, I will add a photo once they are cooled and cut...I make no promises!}


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

SOMETHING FOR A RAINY DAY FROM DOODLE POP!

Today has been a rather wet and miserable day; the plan was to go for a picnic, but not fancying a soggy bottom, we opted for a day in.

Poppy has recently really started enjoying mark making and colouring {and thankfully has stopped 'decorating' the walls for me}.

This week, I launched Doodle Pop! on Instagram, after lots of lovely encouragement from my followers, after putting up a picture of a doodle I did for Poppy's bedroom.

Since then,  I have spent my evenings doodling away, creating personalised doodles for my first few orders. {Eeeek!}

Poppy has wanted to 'help' me on several occasions this week as I've been drawing tiny dinosaurs or woodland creatures, so today as we were stuck inside, I did a rainy day doodle for her to colour. If you'd like to keep your little ones occupied for a little while, whilst we wait for summer to arrive, it can be downloaded here.

Poppy is still to master the lines but she enjoyed adding to mummy's drawing and talking about all the little pictures she could see.



So if you are stuck inside with little ones to entertain, I hope this gives you time to grab a cup of tea and get five minutes peace.

Happy colouring!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

HOW TO: PATCHWORK QUILT



One of the many jobs I had for the summer, whilst off work, was to make a patchwork quilt for my little {not so little} bump. When I was pregnant with both Poppy and Jordan, I made them each a blanket; Jordan's is very much falling apart but is still well-loved and in the last 6 months or so, Poppy has become quite attached to her 'pankerlet'. I hope that all three of my little ones will still have their blankets when they are preparing for their own families-no pressure to make them nice enough to want to keep and well enough to stand the test of time!

As soon as I found out I was having a boy, I got to searching for fabric to make a patchwork quilt. 
I found the most gorgeous bundle of fat quarters on thehomemakery.co.uk , perfect for a winter baby. I decided to order some of the designs from the bundle, as well as a few other patterned fabrics in greys and greens. 

I've used Homemakery in the past and the fabric has always been such wonderful quality, and has always arrived so quickly after ordering. 

For the past few weeks my beautiful far quarters have been sat on a shelf in the living room, waiting for the summer holidays to come. And of course, as luck would have it, the first week of the break has been wet and gloomy- perfect weather for staying in and getting on with with making. 

I made a 15cm squared template from card, allowing for 1cm sem allowance. I used a disappearing fabric marker to draw the lines of the squares before cutting them out. I got 8 squares per fat quarter as I wanted to keep a little of each fabric for a few other little projects. With my 80 squares cut, I was ready to start sewing. 

I arranged the squares on the kitchen floor first, to make sure I was happy with the order and didn't have too many of the same design or colour near each other. 

Once I was happy with the layout, I took a photo {just in case I needed to refer to it later} and then ironed and pinned each 'column' of squares. 







With the squares pinned in place, I dusted off my sewing machine and started stitching them together. By the end of this stage, I had 8 strips of squares, each one 10 squares down. They could then be sewn together to make the patchwork part of my patchwork quilt.





The next stage was a little more tricky, mainly because anything which involves bending down is quite tricky at the moment.
I had to layer the backing fabric, {I chose 100% white cotton} the wadding {4oz was thick enough} and finally, on top, the patchwork. It then needed to be pinned together. I found that taping the edges of the two far of the corners of the cotton to the floor made sure that it didn't move too much as I pinned each column; I folded the blanket over onto itself so I didn't have to reach across too far, after the first three or four rows were pinned.





With it all pinned in place, I stitched down the vertical lines of the patchwork. I'm not the biggest fan of the crazy paving quilted look, but of course that could always be an option. I just wanted to secure the fabrics together, and with such pretty patterns on the patchwork fabrics, I really didn't see the point in quilting over them.

I also stitched all the way around the edge of the blanket to ensure they all three layers were fixed together when it came to putting the edging on.





The last step was to put the edging on; I used 5 meters of 50mm bias binding. I pinned it all in place, and used this tutorial to ensure the corners were nice and neat.






With the final stiches made, it was all finished and ready for the arrival of my little one, just a few weeks before Christmas.





I already have a few other projects in mind that I want to make for him, I'm not sure how they will turn out just yet, but watch this space and I may well have a few more easy makes for you to try for your little ones.




For a quilt measuring approximately 130cmx70cm I used:

10 fat quarters of patterned fabric (cut into 80 15cm squared squares)
1.4 metres cotton backing fabric
1.4 metres 4oz wadding
5 metres of 50mm bias binding
















Wednesday, 12 July 2017

FIRST LITTLE BED

After I had my daughter, Poppy, two and a bit years ago, I thought that I was done with the whole child bearing business and just had to focus on keeping the two I already have alive. So whenever Poppy got too big for something, or I realised that I really didn’t need every fancy baby gadget that I had either bought or been given, I gave them away. I didn’t anticipate having a need for them again in the future. But someone, somewhere had different plans for me; and now that I am nearly half way done with cooking my last bun {and this time it will be the last one!} I have begun to realise that I don’t actually have very much at all.

The few pieces of clothes that I did keep of Poppy’s are of no use as, whilst I have no objection to boys in pink, I think I would be pushing it to put my little boy baby in her flowery, pink baby grows and frilly summer dresses.

So the search for baby essentials has begun. And by essentials, I really am just going to buy what we really need. I mean in Finland, you are sent home with a cardboard box and pretty much good to go. In the years since 1938, when they were first introduced, the boxes contents have changed slightly but essentially, they offer new mums all they need to take their little bundle home. The box given to mums now contains:

§  Mattress, mattress cover, under sheet, duvet cover, blanket, sleeping bag/quilt
§  Box itself doubles as a crib
§  Snowsuit, hat, insulated mittens and booties
§  Light hooded suit and knitted overalls
§  Socks and mittens, knitted hat and balaclava
§  Bodysuits, romper suits and leggings in unisex colours and patterns
§  Hooded bath towel, nail scissors, hairbrush, toothbrush, bath thermometer, nappy cream, washcloth
§  Cloth nappy set and muslin squares
§  Picture book and teething toy
§  Bra pads, condoms

Looking down the list, there are certainly some things that I will need to adjust; I’m not sure I will need a balaclava (unless it is for me to wear to cover, what I am presuming will be, a very tired, unmade up face for the first few weeks of life with a new born and a toddler). Condoms are a wishful thought, I am pretty sure I will have no need for them in the weeks and months after birth and when that time does arrive, I am going to be so full of anti-pregnancy hormone that the strongest of swimmers will fail. But the rest is pretty much on my tick list for the arrival of baby no. 3.

Although I do quite like the idea of using a cardboard box as his first bed, I fear that Poppy will want to join in the cardboard box bedtime action and I have only just managed to get her to sleep in her ‘big girl bed’. I’m not sure I can cope with being faced with her toy boxes being emptied every night and the tantrum as to why she can’t sleep in a box, like her baby brother.

So I am going to be a little less Nordic and a little more conventional-I'm opting for a Moses basket. 
Over the last few weeks I have been looking at different possibilities; who would have thought there were so many?! If you thought a basket is a basket is a basket, you are mistaken. 

My search started relatively tamely with  just a slight twist on the traditional wicker number. I really like this grey felt nest from Mokee and it is definitely  a strong contender. The Wool Nest looks so snug and cosy, as well as being super soft. Best of all, it zips together so even the most clueless DIYer can figure this one out. I love the bold handle colours { there's a choice of Pumpkin Neon Orange, Summer Dash, Pink Mallow and, my favourite, Azure Drop}.


And then of course, as so often happens, Pinterest took hold and I whiled away quite some time getting further 'inspiration'.



I love this hanging baby nest designed by Oszkar Vagi, inspired by the a baby's time in the womb, but I fear that whilst my DIY skills stretch to putting up a shelf and dubious re-sealing of the bathtub, I do not trust my ability to secure something which will cradle a baby. And I'm pretty sure that even if I did manage to get it in position, it wouldn't be long until it, and Poppy, were in a heap on the floor as I'm sure she is probably too big to use it as a swing, and that would inevitable become its principle use. 

As my search carried on, I came across these futuristic numbers by Cascara...

And for the more patriotic...


I decided I needed to tame my search as little, whilst it does at times feel like a little alien wiggling around in there, I don't think my home interior is quite up to space age chic. 

Then I came across this modern twist of the Moses basket by Moba. I love the different colours they come in, ranging from dove grey to raspberry-perfect for a little boy or girl and I'm pretty sure one could be found to compliment any nursery.

I also love that they are completely cleanable, not just because of any explosions of nappies but I'm pretty sure Poppy's grubby little mitts will be all over it as she attempts to wake him up, play with him, or, if past experiences with friends' new babies are anything to go by, pile lots of toys in there for him. 
The mattress is also included and it is fully ventilated and hypoallergenic-perfect for those little ones with sensitive skin. 


A few weeks ago on Instagram, the lovely Susie Verill teamed up with Tilly and Cub to do a give away of the most beautiful basket. {And even though I didn't win, I'm so glad I saw the post as they are some of the most unique and gorgeous little baby beds.}



They are hand woven in West Africa, using non-toxic plant dyes, providing fair trade employment. Money from each basket sold is donated Afrikids and Sands Charity, supporting the communities where the baskets are made and those affected by stillbirths.  
I just love everything about these baskets. 


The last few I looked at are out of my budget, but they deserve a mention, either for their beautiful design {as is the case in the first two} or the unbelievable price tag for the last. 


I absolutely 'heart eye emoji' the design of this Monte-Rockwell bassinet; I like to believe it would fit in perfectly in my home. It is a beautiful combination of materials and design, enabling a smooth rocking motion. It is all handcrafted and more importantly for a new mum, the cover is machine-washable!





Pod Cot is another example of great design and a distinctive modern look. The clear acrylic sides mean you can see right in and makes checking on baby {ten million times, just in case} much easier.





And as bubba gets bigger, it converts into a toddler bed-the bed which just keeps on giving.


The last bed which I wanted to share was more for the oh-my-goodness-I-can't-believe-it-costs-that-much factor. The Dodo Bassinet gold edition is yours for a mere 38,000 Euros.

Can't quite stretch that far? No worries, the white edition is only 12,000 Euros; as my dad would say, I'll take two of them!

With all things considered, including my lack of billionaire husband and dubious DIY skills, I think the choice is between the Mokee, Tilly and Cub and the Moba; I love the hint of colour of the Mokee and it looks so comfy but the appeal of the wipe clean Moba is also very tempting. Needless to say the Tilly and Cub baskets are just beautiful, I am eagerly awaiting their online store to open.

 I have a little while left yet to decide, although I am already half way through cooking my little Christmas pud and so far have...hmmmm, nothing ready. But at least I have narrowed my options...just as long as I stay off of Pinterest.