Tuesday, 28 August 2012


Morning! Such a lovely day here in Shropshire :) I have been doing my washing and now all my nappies are out drying on the line. I'm probably a bit sad (actually this is really sad, no probably about it!) but I love seeing my nappies drying in the sunshine!

I have been buying fabric this week and am awaiting a few deliveries (stalking my poor postman...) so am very excited about that arriving. I have ordered black fleece for some funky dribble bibs and taggies and have also ordered lots of patterned fat quarters from I was really impressed at the choice of fabrics they had there, including lots of really quirky children's fabric. Can't wait for it all to arrive!

Hope you're all having a great day where you are :)

I blog with BE Write

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Hello, testing, testing

Just want to see if this works! I'm using an app to blog so want to see if it works!

I blog with BE Write

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Sewing Machine Feet Continued...

(Image from: Hotter Shoes)

No, not those sort of feet! Do you remember my post about the different sewing machine feet on my machine? Well, whilst learning about those feet, I also came across a few more that I think it might be useful for me to have (one day...)

1/4 inch Foot

This foot has a little guide which is exactly 1/4 of an inch away from the needle when you are sewing, which means that it is easy to get beautifully straight and precise 1/4 inch seams. I think this could be very useful when completing quilting or patchwork projects as you usually have to use a 1/4 inch seam allowance. It could also be good for using when topstitching items too.

Darning / Embroidery Foot

This foot allows you to do free motion embroidery on your sewing machine. I have seen a lot of this around on blogs and facebook and really love the effects. I really want to have a bash at this and have got lots of ideas floating around my head for something I would like to do for Little F's nursery. This is definitely top of the list of feet I want to get!

Bias Binding Foot

This foot sews bias binding onto your projects in one easy step. It has an outer section that the bias binding goes into (it looks a lot like a bias binding maker, I thought so anyway!) and there is an inner section that the fabric goes in. As you sew the fabric is automatically enclosed by the bias binding. Magic! I want to make a quilt for Little F, but have been a bit intimidated by the idea of having to bind it, so this foot could be the answer to that for me :)

Rolled Hem (aka Hemmer) Foot

These come in 2mm, 4mm and 6mm and is a very nifty little foot which allows you to make very narrow hems in one easy step. The foot has a little 'feeder' that guides the fabric and turns it under itself so the stitching encloses the hem. I thought this foot would be great to make some really brightly patterned napkins for my dining table.

Gathering Foot

This clever little foot automatically gathers the fabric as it sews, which could be useful when making clothes.

Piping Foot

I like to make cushions for around the house, but have never made any with piping as the stuff I have seen available is a bit boring and the instructions I have seen to make my own seem a bit fiddly. This foot makes it easy to make and attach your own piping cord so you can get EXACTLY the right colour or pattern to match your projects.

I hope to gradually add to my "feet collection" as I think these will make certain jobs a lot easier. Do you have a favourite sewing machine foot? What do you use it for?

Monday, 25 June 2012

Sewing Machine Feet

I have been thinking about sewing machine feet over the last few days as I only ever seem to use the standard foot on my machine but I have a few others sitting sadly in my sewing box, unused because I don't know what to use them for! My husband thinks that it is very sad that I have been pondering this...

My sewing machine is a Janome DC3050 and I love it :)

(photo from the Janome UK website)

I have yet to try to sew anything where it has let me down! It came with 6 feet when I bought it, so I have been reading up on each foot and what they do. I decided to write a blog post on this as I wanted to put all my ideas about this in one place!

I have found out a lot of my information from my trusty Reader's Digest Guide to Sewing I bought in the charity shop for the princely sum of £1.50 a couple of years ago, but have also used the Janome website as well as some tutorials form some blogs (listed below). The manual from my sewing machine was also a lot of help!

When reading about the different sewing machines I kept seeing people saying that a sewing machine was in a particular category and that only feet from the category would fit that machine. I didn't know at first, but some digging about on the Janome website tells me that the DC3050 is a Category B sewing machine (which is good as the feet seem to be very readily available and inexpensive!)

Ok, so what feet have I got?

A Foot - Standard Foot (aka the Zigzag Foot)

This is the foot I use practically ALL THE TIME. It can be used for almost any kind of stitching, which is why I always seems to use it, but there other feet which might make certain jobs easier (which is why I am writing this blog post)

C Foot - Overcast Foot (aka the Overedge or Overlock Foot)

I do use this foot too and find it very useful for finishing off seams. It gives an effect like an overlocker as the stitching wraps around the edge of the fabric to stop it from fraying and it looks pretty professional. Can you see the metal prongs in the middle of the foot? This is to guide the edge of the fabric and helps keep it flat as the overcast stitch goes over the edge of the fabric. The little brush is there for the needle to pass through. It fools the sewing machine into thinking it is sewing through fabric when really it is sewing over the edge of the fabric! Clever stuff :)

It can be used with a normal zigzag stitch, but my machine also has an overcast stitch which is what I usually use. There is also a double overcast stitch which sews two lines of zigzags for extra strength. It can be used for fabrics which would fray a lot otherwise, such as linen.

I have heard that it can also be used to sew knits with, but I haven't tried that yet. Maybe I should?!?

E Foot - Zipper Foot

Does what it says on the box really! This is used when sewing zippers and allows you to get the needle really close to the zipper :) This is something I am not terribly confident with, but I am determined to conquer this fear.

I have found some really good tutorials around describing how to sew zippers so I am going to have a go at making something with a zipper in. Here are a couple of the tutorials I have found:

Sew Mama Sew

Make it Love it (I absolutely love this site, only found it yesterday, you should really check it out!)

F Foot - Satin Stich Foot

This looks a bit like the zigzag foot, except it is made of clear plastic and has a more open toe. It can be used for applique sewing and makes things easier because you can see where you are sewing a bit better. There is also a little bevelled groove on the underneath of this foot which allows the stitches to pass underneath the foot nice and smoothly. According to the manual that came with my machine this foot can also be used for sewing buttons on, smocking stitch, fagoting and cross stitch. It seems like this is a really versatile foot. To my shame, I don't think it has ever been on my machine....

I am planning to make some little drawstring bags to keep Little F's bits and bobs in so I will use this foot to add some simple appliqued shapes to the front of them.

G Foot - Blind Hem Foot

Have you ever noticed on curtains or trousers that you can't see the hem on the right side of the material? That's because they have been given a blind hem, so called because the stitching doesn't show through on the right side of the fabric, it only just catches the fabric with a tiny stitch. Usually blind hems are best done by hand, but many sewing machines have a foot that allows you to recreate this effect in a fraction of the time using your machine :) Can you see the white plastic bit? This is adjustable (by turning the little metal screw) to let you get the right length hem that you need.

I bought some curtains last week in Primark (!) which were reduced down from £35 to just £10. They are a beige colour with a band of floral material near the top and I think they will look great in our bedroom. They are lined with a 90" drop and that is too long for the window where I want to put them so I will need to take them up. As they are lined, I have read that it is easiest to unpick the curtain heading tape and shorten the top of the curtain and then resew the heading tape bac on. This way you don't need to worry about hems etc. HOWEVER, these curtains are eyelet curtains so I can't do that. Instead I am going to use my blind hem foot for the first time using Make it Love it's tutorial to help me :)

R Foot - Automatic Buttonhole Foot

My machine has 3 different styles of automatic buttonholes. This foot is very clever because you put the button into a holder on it and the machine senses how big the button is and makes the buttonhole the right size automatically :) This foot can also be used for darning on my machine, which could be quite useful as Mr P is forever snagging his clothes at work!

So, these are the feet that I already have. I am determined to use them as from what I have learnt over the last few days, it seems that using the right feet for the job could make my sewing easier and more professional looking.

Whilst learning about all these feet, I have also come across more feet that I would like to add my collection, but I will save that post for another day :)

Monday, 18 June 2012

Jubilee Weekend Celebrations

Just wanted to share with you a few photographs of the Jubilee Weekend Celebrations in our village :)

First up was the village pram race. I think there were about 10 teams that took part, with each team having 3 participants. All the teams dressed up and there were lots of different costumes.

Like this Jubilee pram. You can't see, but the girl in the pram had a mask on of the Queen!

Some of the boys in the village decided to enter at the last minute on a pimped up wheelie bin. Unfortunately for them, the wheels fell off halfway through!

Here's a picture of my husband a very grumpy looking Little F...

Most of the pram race participants posed for a picture after the race. Can you see Batman and Robin? lol :)

After the pram race, everyone went to the playing fields for a game of rounders. Mr P joined in whilst me and Little F watched (and in my case ate cake :) lol). It was lovely as people of all ages joined in. There was also a BBQ and a party at the village pub where prize giving took place for the pram race. All the children in the village also received a commemorative Jubilee mug, which I thought was a lovely gesture and hopefully will be something that Little F can keep for when he's older.

Later in the evening the village took part in a Beacon Bonfire along with hundreds of other villages across the country.

There were fireworks too (I love fireworks!)

Little F had gone to bed, but we had woke him up and brought him with us. He loved all the attention he got but was a little bemused by the fire. We thought as a one off it wouldn't matter if he was up late and luckily for us, he went straight back to sleep when we got home :)

There was a luminous full moon. I tried to capture it, but this picture really doesn't show how big it looked.

The bit of the village where the bonfire was is a little higher than the rest of the village so we could see other beacons in the surrounding area. You can just see a few of them on this picture. I counted 9 from where I was standing and it really gave a sense of reaching out to other communities.

I have had a few things going on at home recently, which is why I haven't been around much, but I hope to be back blogging more regularly from now on :)

Gem xxx

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Making some changes!

Just had a bit of a nasty shock when I tried to come on here as I got a message from Google Chrome saying that I couldn't access my site as there was a chance of malware because of the shabby blogs backgrounds I had used on here :( A quick google showed that this has happened to a LOT of blogs recently and the only way to fix it is to remove all shabby blogs content from your blogs.

Needless to say I have deleted all background content from shabby blogs and will not be using them again!

My apologies if you have tried to visit me but been unable to access my page xxx

Now I just need to get my blog looking pretty again so please bear with me...

Monday, 28 May 2012

My first stall at a fair

I had a stall at a local school fair at the weekend. I only found out about it the week before it took place so had to get everything I was taking done in one week! It was a pretty busy week as Mr P was working so I had to do everything whilst looking after Little F too :)

I took cards and flower corsages but in hindsight I don't think they were really the right sort of things to take as most of the people there were children who had about 50p to spend! 

It wasn't a financial success as I only made back the money for the stall (just!) but I think I learned a lot about what I should do for next time and the logistics of doing something like this, so it was time well spent :) For example the fair was outside and I spent ages setting up my stall and arranging my cards so all the male birthday were together and so on. However, it was a bit breezy and I spent a lot of time running up the field after my cards when they blew away! In the end I sent my husband to home bargains to buy some little plastic crates to put them in. I have little wicker baskets at home so next time I will take them. I also have a lot of ideas about different types of things I can take with me and I am going to spend some time over the next few weeks building up my stock so the next time I do something like this I have a lot of stuff to take with me.

I forgot to take my camera to the fair so I have no pictures :( I need to photograph my cards etc as I want to put them up on my facebook page: here so I will share them all with you next time. In the meantime, here is a little picture of Little F enjoying his ball pit during the warm weather. He keeps trying to eat the balls :-/ (please ignore the rather rampant nettle patch in the background... would you believe there is actually a little herb garden underneath that lot?)

Gem xxx

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Lazy, sunny days :)

The weather today in our little corner of Shropshire has been beautiful so we have been out in the garden enjoying the sunshine :)

We set up a little shaded area for Little F and brought some of his toys out for him to play with:

He had a great time and we even had a little picnic. He's getting so grown up, I don't know where the time is going!

He turned 7 months old last Saturday and is chattering away to himself all the time and blowing raspberries at us. Love him to bits :)

Hope you've all enjoyed the sunshine too! xxx

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Playing hooky

Whooops, that was a longer break than I thought it would be! I've been very busy over the last few weeks and we have all been poorly in this house. Little F has had a chest infection but he's much better now and is bouncing like crazy in his bouncer as I type this :)

Whilst I have been "playing hooky" from here I have also been playing hooky with my crochet hooks and have been building up a stock of goodies for a craft fair I am hoping to be doing in a couple of months time. Do you want to see some of the pretties I have been hooking up?

These are some of the flowers I have been making. I have embellished some of them with beads and they are all in the process of being turned into corsages :) I love corsages, I always have them on my coats and jackets and what's better than being able to wear handmade ones that are totally unique? :)

I've also been making some little heart corsages and felt ones too but haven't had chance to photograph them yet as the battery in my phone (which I use to take pictures because I'm too lazy to find the lead for the digital camera....) had packed up and I'm waiting on a new one being delivered.

A forum I am a member of recently had a thread about unfinished projects and it got me thinking about the shameful pile of WIPs I have lurking in our spare room. I am going to list them here to shame me into completing them as some of them have taken so long it is ridiculous, so here goes....

  1. Blanket for Little F - all squares are completed. Just need to weave in ends (I loathe doing this) and join as I go to join the rest of the squares together.
  2. Crochet cushion for front room - this is almost done. Just run out of the yarn I need to finish off the final square BUT I have some hexagons I was messing about making that I did in this yarn so I will frog them and use it to finish my cushion. Just need to find the hexagons...
  3. Newton's Law cross stitch - just the back stitching to do.
  4. Another Newton's Law cross stitch - needs framing.
  5. Kitchen Orchard cross stitch - this has been in progress for an embarrassingly long period of time. I MUST finish this!
  6. Cat cross stitch - about halfway complete...
There are also lots of other projects and ideas buzzing round my head but just not enough time to do everything!!! I think I need to clone myself!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Village Views

Whew, that was an unexpected break! I picked up that horrible lurgy that seems to be doing the rounds and have had a few days illness but luckily I'm feeling back to normal now :) It's funny I haven't been blogging for long but I already missed it when I was poorly.

Yesterday my husband was off work so we went shopping and have picked up some nice bits and bobs for the house. I need to take some pictures of them so I can show you what I have been doing for Pretty, Crafty Home but in the meantime I'm going to share some pictures that I took last week before I was poorly.

This is Maisie, our bonkers dog:

She's a Springer Spaniel and is very excitable, especially when it is time to go "walkies" or "tats". As soon as you mention either of those words she starts going a bit mental and runs to get her lead. When the lead is on, she picks up the end of it in her mouth and takes herself for a walk! Her tail is usually wagging so much she practically turns round in a circle, very cute :)

I took my camera with me last week when we went for a walk and took some pictures of the village. I don't often get chance to take Maisie out on my own since Little F was born so it was nice to spend some time with just her. 

We walked up to the church in the village. It is over 500 years old and is the focal point of the village as everything was built around the church.

You can't really see it in this picture but there is a bench at the bottom of the tower and that is where I sat to take the next picture:

Not saying which one, but you can see my house in this picture :) As you can see, it is very close to the church so we can hear the bells every Sunday and also when the local bell ringers practice once every fortnight :) It's been one of the unexpected things that I have enjoyed about moving to this village!

After we went around the church we walked round to one of the fields at the end of the village before coming home as it was FREEEEEEEEZING!

Not a very good picture, but here is the view from my kitchen window. Maisie loves running about in the garden and is fascinated by the horses that live in the field at the back :) 

I will be back soon with some pictures of the goodies I have picked up on my travels over the last few weeks :)

Gem xxx

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Daffodil Memories

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordworth

"I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" is one of my favourite poems and always reminds me of my Grandad who passed away almost 2 years ago. He loved poetry and would often recite his favourites to us when we went to visit on a Sunday afternoon.

This particular poem was one of the readings at his funeral and evokes bittersweet memories for me. I've been thinking about him a lot today as I bought my first bunch of daffodils in Tesco (only £1 - bargain!). They're sat in a jug on my mantlepiece and I'm looking forward to them being in bloom. Daffodils make me feel as though spring is on the way and I'm looking forward to spotting the other signs of spring :)

Friday, 20 January 2012

Pretty Crafty Home

(Photo courtesy of Cherry Heart)

As I have mentioned, we moved house shortly before Christmas to a lovely village in Shropshire. Things were a bit manic after we first moved as it was Christmas, then New Year and then we were away for a few days. However for the last couple of weeks I have been unpacking everything and attempting to turn this house into a home for my little family :)

I was reading Sandra's blog at Cherry Heart and saw that she has invited bloggers to be part of a year long challenge to create a Pretty Crafty Home. Sandra explains more about it in this post but in a nutshell the idea of the challenge is to use our crafty and thrifty talents to make our homes gorgeous and wonderful :) I think it sounds like a fantastic idea and is just the thing to help me get everything sorted here :)

Sandra has listed 5 goals on her website to give bloggers an idea of the sort of things that can be done with this challenge, so here is my take on what these goals mean to me:

1. Tidy, tidy, tidy and clean, clean, clean!

Well this house is pretty clean and tidy at the moment as everything is in boxes! HOWEVER, what I would like to do this year is get in place some good routines to keep on top of the housework and daily jobs, especially with having a little baby at home. One thing that jumps to mind is paperwork....I need to get a nice place to store this instead of having piles of papers on the hallway bookcase...

2. If it has to live here, it should be pretty.

Some things are boring but necessary, like toilet brushes! I'm going to be on the lookout for functional but pretty items to (slowly) replace the boring (ugly) things that we have to have!

3. If I don't like how it looks, and I can change it, I will.

Much of our furniture is old and thrifted and as I'm on maternity leave we are not in a position to replace any of it in the near future. What I can do is to give these items a makeover to pretty them up a bit. For example, we have a lovely Welsh Dresser in the dining room but it is looking a little shabby (and not in a shabby chic sort of way!) so I plan to paint it and replace the (ugly, dented) brass handles with ceramic ones. A new piece of furniture for the cost of a pot of paint :)

4. Thrift, re-use and recycling are my watch words.

Definitely! Pennies are a little tight at the moment so I will be looking to do all this on a budget :)

As I'm now a SAHM I am also responsible for the running of the house and most of the cooking. I am NOT a natural domestic goddess but this is something I want to change. In this house we have often relied on "ding" meals and takeaways and this is now going to S.T.O.P! As far as possible I want all our meals to be home cooked and I will be on the lookout for thrifty recipes and aiming to reduce our food bill.

I do love a good mooch round the charity shops and am lucky because there are quite a few good ones near where we live. I also love car boots and can't wait for the better weather so we can get out there to find some treasure :)

5. Crafting is king!

This is a no-brainer for me... I love crafting and I love seeing things that I've made around my home :) This year I plan to make even more crafty goodies so watch this space!

If you think this sounds like fun then head over to Cherry Heart and join in!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Sunday Night Telly - Call the Midwife

I know, I know, it's Wednesday but since Little F was born I don't always get chance to sit down and watch programmes when they are on. I'd seen the trailer for the BBC's new drama "Call the Midwife" and thought it looked excellent so I sky plussed it to watch when I had a spare hour or so.

Straight faced: Miranda Hart will make her drama debut in Call the Midwife along with, from left, Helen George, Jessica Raine and Bryony Hannah
(Photo courtesy of the BBC)

Sitting in front of the fire this evening with a hot chocolate and a sleeping baby I finally got chance to see what all the fuss was about :) "Call the Midwife" is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, who was a midwife in the East End of London during the 1950s and I thought it was fantastic. I love period dramas and thought the attention to detail in this one was superb, really giving a feel for what life must have been like for families living in what we would consider to be appalling conditions. When you have a baby it can be very easy to get caught up with buying all the things that you will "need" (half of which you don't use..) but many families in those days would have had a borrowed pram and the baby would have slept in an empty drawer! I loved the shabbiness of the props in this production and felt they added to the authenticity of it.

Also, having given birth recently, I can wholeheartedly say that I am glad I gave birth in this day and age with access to lots of painkillers!!! Things were so different then.

I love reading about the 1950s and have often said to Mr P that I was born into the wrong era, but thinking about it I think I am looking back at it with rose-tinted glasses. Life in those days would have been a lot tougher than we are used to and infant mortality would have been high. Families were much bigger (my mam was one of 8 children for example!), there weren't things such as disposable nappies and few houses would have had a washing machine. On balance, I think I am glad that I am a mum now, rather than 60 years ago.

The next episode is on BBC 1 on Sunday night at 8pm and I will definitely be recording it :)

What programmes are you enjoying watching at the moment?

Gem xxx

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Easy yummy curry

Last night I came across a recipe on the Attic 24 blog for Sweet and Easy Curry and thought it looked delicious :) Since I have been on maternity leave I have been doing a lot more cooking at home (previously Mr P did most of it as I am not a good cook) and with pennies being a bit tighter now I'm not working I'm always on the lookout for tasty, frugal recipes and this one looked like it would fit the bill.

I'd bought some chicken thighs earlier in the week so I roasted these in the oven and then took all the meat off them to use in my curry. I didn't have garam masala in the spice cupboard so I just put in teaspoons of the spices I did have (tumeric, ground coriander and curry powder) and some chilli. We had it with rice and naan bread and I have to say it was delicious! We'll definitely be having it again so thank you for sharing it Lucy :)

Earlier today me and Little F had been out on our travels as he had to have his second set of vaccinations. He was all smiles when we arrived at the surgery but these soon turned to tears when he had the injections :( It's horrible to watch him being so upset even though I know he has to have them done :(

After we'd been to the doctors we went to a mam and tots group in the local town. To be honest, Little F wasn't in the best of moods but I think he enjoyed it, especially watching the other babies. He did get a bit cranky towards the end but I think that was because of the injections and he was also tired. When we came home he had a little nap and then played in his play nest which seemed to cheer him up  :) He loves this as he can sit up and watch what is going on around him, he's nosey like his mammy, lol :)

He's fast asleep now but I think he won't be for much longer as he's due a feed... night night everyone :)

Gem xxx

Monday, 16 January 2012

A quiet day today

We've had a pretty quiet day here at the cottage. Mr P has been off work so we have taken the opportunity to get some more unpacking done :) We moved here just before Christmas and the last few weeks have been C.R.A.Z.Y!

(Note to self: Do NOT move house with a newborn baby, especially not the week before Christmas...)

Anyway, the last few weeks have been very busy and we have not been here a lot of the time as we have been off visiting family so we still have lots of boxes to unpack. Little F was also thoroughly spoiled at Christmas so our front room was beginning to look a little bit like a branch of Toys R Us!

I bought some plastic crates with lids just before we moved and so I have put all the smaller toys in these and I have set up Little F's playpen in the Dining Room so we can store all his playmats etc in there. It might not look too pretty but at least I can see my living room carpet!

There is still lots to do but we are starting to get there. I'm now looking forward to being able to add little decorative touches to all the rooms now the basics are done :)

Tomorrow should be a busier day. Little F has his second lot of immunisations (and we are not looking forward to that, poor little man) and then we are going to go to a new (to us) mams and tots group over in the local market town. We might even have a mooch round the charity shops and see if there are any pretties just begging to come home with us!

Hope you're all having a lovely evening, I'm off to read some lovely blogs now :)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Hello and Welcome

Hello *waves hello*,

I'm Gem, welcome to my blog :) Today is my first post and I hope you'll enjoy reading my ramblings!

I live in a small village in Shropshire with my husband (Mr P), our baby son (Little F), a bonkers dog (Maisie) and a very silly cat (Missy). We've recently moved house so I'd like this blog to be a place where I can share with you photographs of our new house and how we're making it a home :) I really like shabby chic, florals, polka dots and bunting so you can expect to see lots of these!

I love crafts and making lovely things so I will also be sharing some of my creations with you :)

Looking forward to getting to know some of you through your blogs!

I'll leave you with a picture of our back garden from a couple of weeks ago. The field at the back usually has ponies in but it was much too cold for them that day!