New Baby Name Frames

Baby Name Frames

Baby Name Frames – boy and girl

All the babies from my NCT group – including mine – turned 1 recently. The girls I met through the course (plus a few others) kept me sane throughout those first few crazy months, and we met up pretty every much every week while we were on maternity leave (if you’re a parent-to-be and you’re wondering whether to do NCT, I’d highly recommend it, just for the friends you’ll make).

Now that we’re back at work it’s virtually impossible to get everyone together, so I wanted to make the kids something to keep – and their parents something to remember the first year by.

Baby Name Frame - Alexander

These personalised baby name frames include full names, date of birth, weight at birth, time of birth, first address and parents’ names (and the one above also includes the meaning behind the name). I’m pretty forgetful, so this kind of thing is right up my street.

Baby Name Frame - Imogen

Having made the NCT presents, I’ve now been asked to make a few more for Christmas – they make nice ‘new baby’ gifts as well as first birthday mementos.

Baby Name Frame - Imogen detail

In terms of how they’re made, the text is written in InDesign, and the frame insert is painted in baby blue or dusky pink emulsion, which means (for the cost of a tester pot) they can also be painted to exactly match a particular colour scheme.

Baby Name Frame Boys

They cost £20 (plus UK P&P), are completely personalised, and take around a week to make. You can buy via my Etsy shop.

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Mumsnet BlogFest 2013 – Who’s Going?

I’ll be in London for Mumsnet’s BlogFest this Saturday, 9th November. Drop me a line if you’re going and fancy saying hello!

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Fairy Light Advent Calendar

Advent garland main image

Things have been getting pretty festive in our house. And before you ask, no – I haven’t gone completely bonkers and put the Christmas tree up 2 months early.

I needed a Christmas-themed project for Ouse Valley Living, and had wanted to try this fairy light advent garland since I saw something similar on Pinterest. It certainly brightened up the fireplace for a few days. Until all the chocolate money got eaten, anyway. Then it just looked a bit, well, crap.

Advent calendar garland detail

It’s really easy to make – I used tissue paper to make the little paper packets (the idea is they can be easily pulled off and torn open each day), stamped them with numbers 1-24 and strung them from the fairy lights with cotton thread.

Advent garland detail 2

It came out very colour-coordinated (white must have been all the rage when we bought the tree decorations years ago), but I’d quite like to try it again with brightly coloured wrapping paper and multicoloured baubles. I’m all for mismatched colours and patterns these days.

Advent garland detail 3

Advent garland detail 4

If you’re after some more inspiration, have a read of these 5 handmade advent calendar ideas from last Christmas. Geez. How time flies when you’re having fun…

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Probably The Easiest Birthday Cake Ever. (Thanks, Smarties.)

Smarties birthday cake

I toyed with the idea of baking an elaborate cake for my son’s first birthday. Really I did. I even went as far as drooling over lots of beautiful cakes on Pinterest, albeit the night before.

Then I remembered I’m crap at baking. And also a bit lazy.

And that’s when I decided to buy some Smarties, make a number 1 with the blue ones, and chuck the rest on top for good measure.

The chocolate fingers were an afterthought (thank you, Google), and the cake is a Mary Berry. I used normal flour, so I couldn’t tell you what it tasted like. But it got eaten. And nobody spat it out because I’d used salt instead of sugar*.

 

*This happened once.

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How To… Make A Child’s Apron

Child's apron

I found this stripy fabric in a charity shop for £1.99 and couldn’t resist making a chef’s apron for the little fella. Completely pointless, yes. But cute, too. Here’s how to do it.

You’ll need:
Cotton fabric (I used a 50cm x 45cm scrap for an apron to fit a 1-year-old)
Apron ties x3 (measure the circumference of your child’s head then add 5cm. Use this measurement for all three lengths)
Pins
A needle and thread, and/or a sewing machine
One of your child’s vests

Step 1: child's apron

Step 1: Lay the vest on top of the fabric as per the photograph above (note the extra length below the vest – as a rough guide this measurement should be about half the length of the vest itself). Trace the vest (excluding the bottom edge) about a centimetre out from the edges using a washable felt tip pen.

Child's apron: basic shape

Step 2: Cut the fabric, following the markings, and you should end up with a basic apron shape like this one, below.

Child's apron: step 2

Step 3: Turn the fabric over so the right side is facing down. Begin hemming the apron by folding the edges of the two ‘arm holes’ inwards by about a centimetre and pinning in place. As these edges are curved, it’ll help if you make a few inward snips perpendicular to the edge with a pair of scissors beforehand – if you look closely at the photograph below you should be able to see what I mean (click it to enlarge). Tack and sew in place.

Child's apron: step 3

Step 4: Hem the top edge in the same way, by folding the edge of the fabric over by a centimetre, but this time tuck the two ends of the neck tie in as you do so, as per the photograph below. Pin and tack in place, then do the same along the two long edges – this time attaching the two side-ties as you do so (place them at the top, just beneath the armholes). Pin and tack, then sew all three edges.

Child's apron: step 4

Step 5: From the leftover fabric, cut a pocket to fit the size of your apron, and hem all four edges by folding them over and sewing. Pin the pocket to the front of your apron and sew three of the edges, remembering to leave the top edge open.

Child's apron: step 4

And voila! Here’s a photo of Little Boy modelling his apron to prove it does actually fit (with quite a lot of room to grow…). I’m still not sure about this do-I-or-don’t-I put photos of my kids on my blog thing, so for now I’ve chopped his head off. But you get the idea (and a lovely shot of my bin: bonus!)

How to make a child's apron

Apron: model’s own

 

 

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Paint I Love: Elephant’s Breath by Farrow & Ball

Front bedroom painted in Elephant's Breath

The main bedroom, painted in Elephant’s Breath by Farrow & Ball

I’m quite partial to a pot of Farrow & Ball paint. I used Pale Powder in the dining room of our first house and loved the way the colour changed from a pale greeny-grey to almost blue in different lights. So when I heard F&B are releasing a new range of colours on Monday, I almost wished I had a room left to paint.

Almost.

The last room we decorated was the master bedroom (ignoring the front room, which was just a quick re-paint job, and therefore doesn’t count). With our budget being a whole lot tighter these days, I scoured the aisles for an alternative to Farrow & Ball that was cheaper but just as good.

Suffice to say, I didn’t find it.

Now, I’m not saying Farrow & Ball is the be-all-and-end-all in the world of paint. I’ve used every brand under the sun – usually depending on what’s on special offer – and as long as I’m not going to be required to paint multiple coats (who has time for that?) I’m sold.

But when it comes to period colours, and that flat-matt look that works so well in old houses, Farrow & Ball wins every time.

Elephant's Breath colour scheme

Granted, lots of other brands had shades that sounded a lot more like what I was after – stone, mink, putty – but No. 229 Elephant’s Breath (so-named by decorator John Fowler in the 1940s) was the only option once the swatches were actually on the walls.

At this point I should probably include a couple of photos of the bedroom ‘before’, seeing as that’s the way it stayed for a couple of years once we moved in (there was so much to do in the rest of the house that we basically shut the door on this room and used it as a storage cupboard).

The main bedroom 'before'

The main bedroom ‘before’

The ceiling was covered in polystyrene tiles, the walls in polystyrene-backed woodchip wallpaper (to hide the giant cracks), and the floor in a rather psychedelic sheet of lino. There was damp in several places, no heating, and no (working) electrics. So by the time we’d reached decorating stage, slapping a bit of paint on the walls seemed like a walk in the park.

Let there be light(s)!

Let there be light(s)!

We got the doors dipped and treated them with linseed oil, re-glossed the fire surround and re-painted the inside with heat-resistant black paint, and finally got a carpet (I do believe I did a little dance. And when I say a little dance, I mean a stark-raving-bonkers ‘WE GOT A CARPET! NO MORE SPLINTERS!’ dance).

And of course, I painted the walls. Cup of tea steaming away on the windowsill, radio on, husband banished (nobody’s allowed to help – this is my absolute favourite thing in the world, and I’m not sharing. Plus, I’m fussy. Really fussy).

In truth, it could have benefited from a second coat, but we could only stretch to one tin. Goodness knows what we’ll do if we get any marks on the walls, because I scraped the last dregs of paint out like a kid with cookie batter.

You know, now I say it, I think there might actually be a few marks on them already, which would of course mean I’d have to repaint… I wonder if there’s such a thing as being addicted to decorating? Answers on a postcard please.

The bedroom, finished!

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Sew Your Own: Baby Playmat

Handmade Baby's Playmat

This looks more complicated than it is. Which, in my opinion, is the best kind of sewing project out there.

I bought the alphabet fabric – a kind of faux patchwork called ‘Letterbox’ – from kidsfabric.co.uk, and backed it with a thin layer of wadding and another layer of fleece. I sewed the three layers together by following the edges of the ‘patches’ in vertical and horizontal lines. Then I used a bit of bias binding to neaten the edges of the finished playmat.

And voila! Roughly the same effect of a more standard stich-all-the-squares-together-first patchwork quilt, but with more time left over to watch The Great British Bake Off. What’s not to like?

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