The plan was that it would be a leisurely sort of project to stitch over many evenings whilst watching tv but I'm so impatient and keen to see results that it was completed in 48 hours. It's destined to be framed and hung in our hallway I think.
I marked the pattern out on some white linen with a water-erasable fabric pen, just marking out a circle for the top of the tree to stitch the leaves within, which were done last. All of the details are here and over there >>>>>along with the free downloadable pattern.
So for the giveaway part; I really enjoyed stitching this and want to do another one, so basically I'm looking for someone to make one for. If you would like an unframed tree with names of your choice, leave a comment on this post by midday Thursday (26th July) and if you're the only commenter it's a done deal but if they're a few I'll draw names out of a hat. I reckon the tree has a name limit of about 7 if that makes a difference.
I was never that interested in embroidery until I saw this post by Aneela over at comfort stitching and was suddenly tempted to try out a few fancier stitches. Coupling that with the need to boost my stock levels for a maker's market that was coming up, I decided to make some small wall canvases. Aidan had chalked a picture of a house on his board with little details here and there and so the idea for an applique house with a few hand-sewn features emerged.
There is something very soothing about sitting down of an evening with a drink, some good tv and a bit of hand-sewing. The combination of being productive whilst also relaxing makes it virtually guilt-free and manages to quieten the inner voice that nags about the washing up, packed lunches and ironing... And the calm, neat, precision required is the perfect antidote to a hectic daytime spent trying to neutralise brewing tantrums and picking up soggy food half-ground into the carpet.
Another embroidery project has materialised, inspired by this one which I'll blog about in the next week.
I did contemplate calling this post 'Jugs' but thought maybe it would generate some extra traffic to the blog that wouldn't necessarily be desirable...
A few weeks ago, on one of the many china teacup shopping trips, I spotted this little sea-green Wedgewood jug in a house clearance place and bought it immediately when they said they only wanted 10p for it. I love it, the shape, the colour, the fact it was 10p! Finding it hidden away amid the piles of non-descript mugs, glassware and 80s plates decorated with pale pink and grey faded transfer prints somehow felt like discovering treasure. In fact the rush was much like that I felt as a 7 year old on opening a packet of Barbie stickers to find one of the sought after peel-off dresses that went into Barbie's wardrobe on the sticker album's centre pages...you know that feeling, right?
So that little jug has inspired me to start a collection, a jug collection (so far this statement has only drawn eye-rolls and sniggers). It provides a reason to trawl around bric-a-brac and charity shops far and near (who doesn't love that?), to experience the triumph of snapping up a jug-gem which if I'm honest somehow feeds my (not inconsiderable) competitive side and it also increases the opportunities to find a bargain (which again, who doesn't love that?). Plus, gathering together items that carry with them stories of their discovery and possibly stir memories of days out and trips away is irresistible for any sentimental type.
So what do you collect - and why?
Aidan's train birthday cake for his party all went into his guests party bags except for the engine which was, as stipulated when he requested the train cake, all for him. So for the day of his birthday I made a simple square Lego brick cake so that he had candles to blow out at teatime with the family.
Aidan loves Lego with a passion and I was inspired to have a go at a Lego cake after seeing this brilliant and much, much more sophisticated one. I made 2 large rectangular cakes and cut 3 square pieces from them which were arranged one on top of the other and sandwiched together with strawberry jam and buttercream. From the leftover sponge I used a circular pastry cutter to cut the 4 discs to go on top (mini-rolls might be a more convenient option for this?) and covered the square and the discs separately in red ready-to-roll icing before sticking all of the parts together with buttercream to make the lego brick. Lastly, usingthe end of a candle holder I imprinted of the word 'LEGO' on the top of each disc and then stuck the 5 candles into the cake. Hey presto one very happy 5 year old lego-fan.
I was pretty pleased with my cake efforts for Aidan, no chance of getting my rustic achievements out of perspective though - look at what my mum made from sugarpaste to decorate the top of my mother-in-laws cake.
Sorry for the absence but I've had a few technical problems with my blog but hopefully it's all sorted now.
So yes back to the parties, there was only an hour or two to recover after my mother-in-law's party before it was time to set to making Aidan's birthday cake ready for the following day. He put in his request back in February for the same cake Rowan had for his 1st birthday.Rowan's cake
He'd felt very aggrieved about not getting to eat the engine part of Rowan's cake and so wanted the same cake but with full rights to his own engine. Back in February when I was struggling to come up with a quick and easy cake idea for Rowan's birthday my friend Lynne offered the use of her train tin - Lynne is the Swiss army knife of friends, always able to provide a solution to any problem!
I covered a marble chopping board with tin foil, melted some chocolate to pipe an oval train track and added mint Matchstick sleepers before arranging the cake carriages on top and decorating with blue buttercream and sweets. It was all fairly straightforward especially as I'd made one before and I had my mum (who makes celebration and wedding cakes) on hand to help.
We took a chance with the weather and hired a bouncy castle for the back garden for Aidan's party which, as the day came closer and the weather grew wetter, seemed like a very bad decision. Despite the weather being awful for most of that weekend though, by some miracle the rain stopped 15 minutes before the party started and didn't resume until a couple of hours after it had ended. It was a good job it stayed dry too as what we'd have done with 25 children stuck in the house is too harrowing a thought to entertain.
My mum and sister Beth helped Mike and I out by making cakes and sandwiches and generally pitching in to try and prevent it all from descending into utter chaos, which it came very close to on a couple of occasions.Cakes courtesy of Aunty B
As far as the kids were concerned the party went well and they all had a great time. As far as the adults present were concerned, the party was Lord of the Flies on an inflatable. My sister was effectively mugged by a couple of 5 year olds when she was carrying a bowl of sweets but it was hard not to admire their tactics as one dragged her arm down by hanging from it, whilst the other raided the bowl.
So throwing a full-on kids party at home can now be ticked off our parental experiences check list (and probably added to the 'never again' list). Beth summed up the overall effect when she said "it was the noise that really shocked me, there were moments when I thought 'I've been in nightclubs less noisy than this'".
Just over five years ago my mother-in-law turned 65 and we pushed the boat out with a fancy dinner had a takeaway curry at her place in the evening. I was heavily pregnant and enjoyed my lamb madras so much that I had one the following night too and a couple of hours later felt a 'pop' as my waters broke. My labour with Aidan was a lengthy one at 30+ hours and he was born 3 days after my mother-in-laws birthday. At the time I didn't see the potential for problems with their birthdays being so close together.
Well this year my mother-in-law celebrated her 70th birthday and Aidan his 5th and both requested a party. And both parties needed to be organised by me. On consecutive days.
Now the women in my husband's family are extremely good at hosting parties and making it all appear effortless. My mother-in-law is heavily disabled and so needed someone to organise everything. Her 60th party was arranged by my sister-in-law who was brilliant and could do this sort of thing in her sleep but tragically she passed away six years ago. They are quite some shoes to attempt to fill.
Despite gaining my brownie hostess badge, hosting really isn't my strong-suit so my game plan was to go for the detail and hope that people would be kind and forgive me if it didn't run particularly smoothly. As the party was being held on a summer afternoon (it bucketed down obviously) we opted for an afternoon tea party theme with a selection of sandwiches and cream cakes from a local bakery. I made the mistake of thinking it would be easy and inexpensive to pick up china teacups and saucers from charity shops, it turns out that there is huge demand for them and so with hindsight hiring it all would've been a better idea. We did have some nice trips out trawling though bric-a-brac and antiques places though, if you're ever around Nantwich I would highly recommend a visit here.
The cup on the front right is part of a tea set I bought because my late Nana used to have the same set. When my mother-in-law saw it she became quite choked up as she'd bought the same one years ago for her mother, so that's a definite keeper.
Each table was decorated simply with a little pink plant with an organza ribbon bow on it and a sugar bowl. There was a birthday tea cosy too which didn't warm a pot in the end but decorated the food table instead.
The party went well and my mother-in-law had a great time surrounded by so many of her friends and family members. Everything ran smoothly in the end although it really wouldn't have done without the help of my mum and Mike's half sister - thank you x