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30.9.12

Cheap Homemade Pin Cushion

If you are a regular reader of my blog, and follower on Twitter, you may have noticed me mention about my desire to sew and create beautiful things for my home from gorgeous fabrics.

My husband bought me a beautiful vintage sewing box for my birthday. Up until then all needles, safety pins, threads and pins were just kept in a food container.
On Friday I decided to sort through this food container and separate all the bits and pieces and give them their own home.
One thing I really wanted to buy to add to my sewing box was a pin cushion. I fell in love with a couple of owl ones but the prices kept putting me off. I mean, I know £8 isn't really much but when looking online and seeing how easy it is to make yourself, £8 seems a waste.
I came across the blog Sew Many Ways and thought this was a genius way to make a pin cushion.
Karen, simply used a kitchen sponge for the insert to her pin cushion.
Every time we do an online grocery order I buy a pack of 5 sponges. They cost 25p. Bargain.
So, on Friday I decided to make my own kitchen sponge pin cushion. Only, I had the sponges, the pins and thread, but no fabric.

The clogs in my head started working and very quickly I came up with a resolution to my lack of fabric.
A couple of days previous I had sorted through some of Harry's clothes, I had a pile of bodysuits which were now too small. I hate throwing away the boys clothes, and rather than give them away I would love to be able to reuse them anyway I can.
I looked in the bag and spotted a star bodysuit. It wasn't one that was particularly special but it reminded me of Harry so I thought it would be special enough to use to create my pin cushion.
I would love to say that I was really technical with the way I made this. Measuring the sponges, measuring and cutting out the fabric. But I wasn't technical with it at all.
Which will probably show by the end result but in all honesty, I couldn't be prouder of it.

I used two sponges so that it was thicker. I felt one sponge wasn't thick enough and the pins were just sticking out at the bottom (ouch!) I roughly stitched the two sponges together.
I simply cut the bodysuit in half, then roughly cut out a section which I knew would be too big for the cushion, the material being stretchy helps if you make a sizing mistake because you can just pull it tighter. I pinned the material around the sponge, moving them as I went along.
As one piece was stitched into place I would then cut the next piece of material to shape, cut off excess, pin and then stitch again.
I didn't use any particular stitching method (as pro's will easily notice) which didn't matter as it's just something for me to keep and it does the job regardless.

 
 

29.9.12

This Time Next Week {Reasons to be Cheerful}

I love countdowns. I get real comfort at having something to countdown to. Be it a birthday, a party, a holiday, a celebration (wedding, Christening, Christmas)
This year we haven't managed to have a holiday, although we did manage a weekend away to Drayton Manor, it just wasn't the same as a week away. We are disappointed about this because it means we haven't had chance to really spend quality time as a family of four since Harry arrived. This is another reason why we are really excited about our Butlins break next March.

Next Friday we are travelling to London for me to meet up with the other Butlins Ambassadors. We had planned to have a weekend in London next year, we didn't want to visit this year due to the Olympics but as everything has calmed down we feel confident enough to bring our trip forward a year.
As I am at the meeting the boys are going to go off and explore London. Once we are finished we'll be making our way to our fabulous hotel.
It's really important to me...and my husband...that the accommodation is perfect, not only for us but for the children in particular.

The Millenium Bailey's Hotel offers a Children's Conceirge service, which gives us real reassurance that our stay will be perfect.
Ask Alfred Children's Concierge aims to make every child's stay with Millennium & Copthorne Hotels as fun and memorable as possible.
Children booked on this package receive their own selection of amenities, including:
  • A Hamleys teddy bear
  • Organic Children shampoo
  • Slippers and a bathrobe, which can be embroidered with the child's name on it
  • Ice cream on arrival
  • A Wisdom toothbrush
  • Jelly beans
The hotel Concierge team will be available to provide families with expert advice on top family attractions and places of interest close to the hotel.
We have already planned a meal to Planet Hollywood and will be stopping by to see the Queen for a cup of tea (according to Charles....my Charles, not Prince Charles)
We're not 100% sure on where we are going to visit yet although the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum are a definite must.

As sad as it may sound I'm also really looking forward to wearing the dress I had been saving for this trip, as well as my new blazer and new scarf. Am I the only person who loves new clothes so much sometimes that you can't bring yourself to wear it? You always save it for something special...although most of the time that something special never comes and in that time you've gained a stone and the clothes no longer fit! Anyway, these clothes fit and are very much going to be worn on this special trip.

Charles is currently running around the house shouting FAMILY TIME! Something we all need and we are all looking forward to.
Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Hallmark Recordable Canvas Artwork {Review}

I've posted before about Charles' new bedroom and the things we are doing to decorate it and accessorise it.
I'm really into blank canvasses at the moment and then decorating them to make them your own, to suit your own style, and to match your child personality.

Hallmark have a fantastic product which is great for this exact thing, if not better. It's not just a blank canvas, but also have the function to be able to record your childs voice.
In the pack you get a 6 small paints, a paintbrush (which is really good quality, I have to be honest, I expected it to be a cheap paintbrush but it's really not) and the framed blank canvas.
There's a pre-recorded message, a girl saying that she had "drawed a rainbow herself" and due to this Charles decided he wanted to draw a rainbow too.
It was easy to paint onto the canvas, the paints are thick and really bright colours. The canvas is also great quality.
Once the paint was dry we had to record our message. To do this you simply remove the battery cover, click the switch from 'lock' to 'unlock' and then press the button on the back and talk.
To protect your message you then switch it back to 'lock' and replace the battery cover.
Then simply press the button at the front underneath your childs beautiful picture and you will hear their message.
Charles simply said "Hello. This is my rainbow picture".



I have family who live in Somerset and I think this would be a great gift for them, my nan in particular as she's only met Charles 3 times. In which case we would change the message to something as simple as "Hello Big Nanny. This is from Charles. Love you".
Of course their message can be whatever you choose it to be.

We all really loved this and it makes such a great keepsake as well as a present for all of the family.

The Childrens Recordable Artwork is available via the Hallmark online shop for £12.99. With Christmas coming up soon I think it's an ideal gift.

We were sent a Recordable Artwork pack for the purpose of this review. All words above are honest and my own.

28.9.12

The Baby {Flashback Friday}

Last week I shared the photos from my Belly Beautiful Maternity Shoot. This week, I'm sharing the photos from our newborn shoot.
Again, I'd already blogged some of the photos from this shoot, with the photographers permission.
I'd just like to share a couple more which were featured on the disc we have recently recieved.
Harry was just 8 days old. He didn't sleep that long so we had to keep putting him on the boob, shushing him and rocking him to sleep, getting some shots, he would then wake up and then we would keep repeating the process.
He also managed to wee and poop on the photographers blankets.
I love the results though and just wish we'd had the same photos when Charles was a newborn (the photographer didn't do them at the time)


He looks almost exactly the same as this when he sleeps now. Although 70% of the time he now has his mouth wide open!

This week there is NO THEME. Remember a flashback can be from any time whether it be yesterday, last week, last month, last year or yesteryear! It can be a flashback of your own, your children, your partner or your friends. And if you don't want to write a post, then just link up a photo with a date. If you don't have time to write a new post, no problem simply link up a post you have already posted.

NEXT WEEK is another theme week. In fitting with myself and Jenny meeting for the first time (big excited eeeek!!) the theme is FIRST MEETING.
Feel free to post about the first time you met your partner, your in laws, your baby, a pet, your best friend, a blogger etc.

laurensflashbackbadge1

27.9.12

Owl Fabric {Current Crush Thursday}

Last week for my Current Crush Thursday post, I showed a selection of black and white fabric I am lusting after to make myself a scarf.
This week I am repeating the theme of fabric but rather than black and white it is instead these cute little creatures.
Owls.
It's not just fabric that I am lusting after. Anything owl related makes me happy. I love a selection of Owl sewing bags and boxes in John Lewis at the moment, and especially love the Cath Kidston owl scissors and case.
I feel I really need to indulge in some Owl fabric and will be buying some and featuring it heavily in Harry's room if I can. I am in the process of choosing which Owl fabric I want for the bunting I am going to make.
And I also want to buy some owl fabric for cushions in his room too.

Tonight I think I will finally take the plunge and purchase some fabric. If I keep just talking about it and lusting after them then I will never get round to it.
Current Crush Thursdays

25.9.12

I Want.... {A Meme}

Jenny aka Mummy Mishaps tagged me in a new meme, which originated over at MammyWoo's blog.
The concept is to basically write the things you want. From simple things to the more ridiculous. Anything goes.
I struggled with this because I could probably write forever. But then I also didn't want it to be a repeat of my bucket list.
Seeing as I recently turned 27 I have decided to have a list of 27 things.

So......stompy tantrum feet ON.

I want...

1: ...hair like Alexis from The Real Housewives of Orange County.
2: ...a Range Rover Sport.
3: ...to be friends with Holly Willoughby.
4: ...just one full night of sleep.
5: ...to be able to grow my nails and never bite them again.
6: ...to have a holiday home in Somerset.
7: ...a time machine.
8: ...to not have such a short fuse.
9: ...to have a longer neck.
10: ...a better mobile phone.
11: ...an income without having to go out to work.
12: ...more storage.
13: ...the boys grandads to want to see them more often.
14: ...to rewind to my wedding day and do it all differently.
15: ...a holiday.
16: ...a new Bourjois lipstick as mine melted in the hot weather.
17: ...a Nandos locally.
18: ...a glass of diet coke with ice.
19: ...for my cat to stop meowing and scratching the stairs as I write this.
20: ...to be a stone or two lighter.
21: ...some money to buy fabrics and ribbon.
22: ...this Owl sewing bag from John Lewis.
23: ...a pair of leopard print heels.
24: ...some petrol in my car.
25: ...ITV to put on some decent dramas again.
26: ...my husband and children to always be happy and healthy.
27: ...to live forever.

24.9.12

My Favourite Cookbook {Show Me, Show Me}

When I moved in with my husband I was delighted when my mum gave me a couple of cookbooks. There was one in particular that I was really happy with. I remember it being in the kitchen every single day as I grew up.
The book is older than me! This is clear by the state of it. It's ripped, covered in stains and old pieces of food but it adds to it's character.

I use it LOADS and despite gaining more cookbooks over the years I always call on this one first.
Some of the recipes are so "old skool" and are really dated. You would be embarressed to serve them up these days, but the others are classics and are really fresh compared to most recipes these days.
I also love this book because you can easily take the older recipes and make them modern, or put your own twist on them.

I hope it stands the test of time so I can pass it on to one of my boys.

 
I'm linking this up to Mummy Alarm's weekly "Show Me, Show Me" link up.
Here I am, introducing my new weekly Linky: Show Me, Show Me! Every Sunday, I will post the week’s theme on here and on Tuesday, there will be a Linky on the blog that will allow you to share your blog post with everyone else. There’s also a shiny new badge at the bottom of this post, so grab it and let everyone know that you are linking up. I’m looking forward to seeing your photos and blog posts each week.
This week's theme is Cookbooks/Recipe Books/Similar.

 

Mike The Knight: Galahad The Great DVD {Review}

I remember when Charles first discovered Mike the Knight. We were playing and the television was on in the background, Cbeebies of course, and he all of a sudden became transfixed. A short time later he carried on with what he was doing.
Everyday for a week the same thing happened and he kept asking if he could watch "Nike". We eventually realised he was talking about Mike the Knight, or "Nike le Knight" as he calls it. He was transfixed by the trailors showing every so often.

 Mike The Knight - Galahad The Great [DVD]
So, we Sky Plussed some episodes and he loved it straight away. Even Harry enjoyed watching!

So both boys were very pleased when we were sent a copy of the new "Mike the Knight: Galahad the Great" dvd.

As Mike's best friend and trusty steed, Galahad is always there for Mike. In Galahad the Great Mike is determined to be the best horse trainer in Glendragon. He wants Galahad to look perfect – really knightly! Galahad faithfully wears whatever Mike suggests but the bells on his hooves stop him from “Silent Sneaking” and the new heavy saddle stops him “Tricky Trotting.

When it all goes wrong, Mike learns that Galahad looks better and, of course, very handsome, just the way he is!"

Episodes included in the dvd are
'Galahad The Great!'
'The Great Gallop'
'The Knight Hider'
'Trollee In Trouble'

The dvd is fantastic and we now put it on every other morning before preschool.
Other than thinking that Mike is a really cute character and that the stories are fun, I like that there is a message with each episode. Mike constantly has to work out how to fix sticky situations he has got himself in, be it through not listening or thinking he knows better.
I love that Charles is learning from this, and is able to tell me when Mike has done something wrong, and what he should do to fix it.

You can find out more about Mike the Knight and his friends on the Official Mike The Knight Website. You can also follow them on Twitter or like their  Facebook page.

Mike the Knight: Galahad the Great is available from the 24th of September, priced at £12.99.

Matalan Style Project: Heritage

The majority of the clothes in mine and the boys wardrobes are from Matalan. When I saw that they were looking for Bloggers to take part in a style challenge I jumped at the chance to join in.
I was sent a £50 voucher to go to my nearest store and buy items to fit with their theme of Heritage.
I panicked slightly at the theme at first but then had a think about the sort of items I could wear and headed to the store with an idea in mind.

I came home with this outfit.

It's not something I would normally wear but I think it really fits the theme of Heritage. In fact in the past I've tried on shirts and chinos and neither have suited me or fit properly so I was delighted when I found these and that they fit!

The shirt is warm, perfect for autumn walks in the country.
The chinos are perfect for a stroll in the country, climbing over stiles, jumping over logs, and running after the boys.
The wellies are so cool and really different. They add a slightly 'punk'-ish style to the overall look but I thought the lace effect was really in at the moment and was better than plain wellies as they can be placed with a number of different outfits. They are really comfy and I love the shorter style of them rather than the ones which stop close to the knee.
And finally I think the scarf is a fab finishing touch. Not only to make the outfit more feminine, and a little brighter, but also because it is covered in a bird print. Birds = Countryside.  It's all about the attention to detail.

 
 
I'd really love it if you could take the time to vote for me on the Matalan Style Challenge Blog Post.
Please.

23.9.12

Virtual Friends and Real Life Meets {Reasons To Be Cheerful}

In recent weeks I've really noticed how pants real life can be when it comes to friendships.
Throughout my life I feel as though I have given my all to friends, not in a needy, full on kind of way, but in how I feel friends should be treated (send flowers when a family member passes on, regularly ask how things are going if there is a health scare, ask how children are if they are poorly...and so on...)

Our relationship with certain friends appears to have ended which I am really angry and hurt about, not because of the loss of friendship, but because these friends were/are/were Harry's Godparents and I feel as though they have completely taken the mickey out of their vows and pledges, especially when we could have used other people. It was a bad choice made by us and something I can't get over. I feel as though I have really let my boy down.

What with that and another friend regularly telling me how rubbish I am for not messaging her every minute of every day, I'm not exactly feeling my best!

*SCREAM*

Sometimes I don't know what I would do without blogging....or Twitter. There are various people, just a small group, whom I can go to no matter what. Who can cheer me up. Sometimes without even doing anything. Sometimes just reading their tweets or a little interaction can completely cheer me up.

In less thank two weeks we (my husband, the boys and I) will be heading to London. I have a meeting there as part of the Butlins Ambassador role.
I really looking forward to a weekend away in London, which we were planning for next year so have been able to bring forward. We are currently trying to decide what we will do on the days we are there.
My husband will take the boys somewhere whilst I'm at the meeting. Their excursion will be near wherever I am so that will be planned once all arrangements are finalised.
We are thinking of maybe going to the Natural History Museum on the Saturday and then an Open Top Bus Tour on the Sunday...Charles really wants to see The Queen so we will pick one which goes near Buckingham Palace.

As much as I am looking forward to these plans with my boys I am also looking forward to meeting up with some friends who were also chosen to be Butlins Ambassadors. There are two in particular I am looking forward to meeting, Jenny aka Mummy Mishaps and Elizabeth aka Mommatwo.
Just thinking about meeting them gives me butterflies in my tummy.
It's almost like meeting celebrities.
I know so much about them without ever meeting them.
I fear I will just be a shy giggly wreck and will probably just burst into tears on arrival but will hold myself back from jumping on them and asking for their autographs.

I'm so paranoid that we won't get on, or that they may not like me, or think I'm fatter in real life than in my photos etc but at the same time I'm so excited, and I worry that I may not want to say goodbye to them.

I am on countdown mode now.
12 DAYS TO GO!

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart


22.9.12

As Their Relationship Grows...

It's amazing watching my children interact.
Over the past 14 months it's been a real treat to see how they react to each other, how they communicate, how they seem to understand each other more than we do sometimes.

I've definitely seen a change in their relationship not only as Harry has become a baby-toddler but also since Charles has started Preschool. They seem to appreciate each other a lot more and like being in the same room a lot more.

Playfighting has become a big activity recently. Before they would both attack me but now they are quite happy to just roll around with each other.
I used to worry about this. Mainly worrying that Charles would hurt Harry BUT it seems it's the other way round. Harry is really quite rough, and their isn't too much difference in their weight so he can easily hurt Charles. The main difference is that Charles has understanding of what may hurt and what not to do, whereas Harry isn't quite at that stage yet and thinks nothing of pulling your ear or sticking a finger up your nose!

Last week my mother in law stayed over one night and the next day the duvet was still in the lounge. Whilst I was cooking tea I could hear a lot of laughing and looked in the lounge to see that the boys had opened the duvet on the floor and were playfighting on it.
Charles told me it was ice and they were slipping onto each other because of it.

 


20.9.12

The Bump {Flashback Friday}

A couple of weeks ago I was finally able to pay our photographer for the disc of photos she had taken on three separate shoots in the past year. The disc only includes 30 photos, selected by me, from the shoots.
I thought I would do a series of Flashback Friday posts showing off the photos.
This week is my Maternity shoot, also known as Belly Beautiful.
I actually blogged about it at the time, and featured some photos with the photographers permission.
Two of my favourite photos are these. In particular the top one, I was laughing at the time because Harry had kicked me so hard that it made me jump. Even the photographer and my husband saw my belly move.
The name on the second one was written using lipstick, we used my stretchmarks as a guide to get the letters straight (I kid you not)

Looking back on these I can't believe how swollen my poor feet were.

Remember a flashback can be from any time whether it be yesterday, last week, last month, last year or yesteryear! It can be a flashback of your own, your children, your partner or your friends. And if you don't want to write a post, then just link up a photo with a date. If you don't have time to write a new post, no problem, simply link up a post you have already posted.
Make sure you check out my lovely co-hosts post too.

laurensflashbackbadge1

Pocket Panic Buster: Preloaded MP3 {Review}

I've always been quite open on my blog about my relationship with anxiety.
I have mixed feelings about my anxiety. It's part of me and I'm certainly not ashamed of it, but sometimes I feel it controls me far too much and that's not a good feeling.

I'm keen on learning about my anxiety and wanting to know what triggers it, what causes it, if there are any patterns to when it flares up. At the same time I'm also keen on learning how I can control it, how I can deal with it and how I can cope with it.

When Dawn, a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, asked for Bloggers to review the Pocket Panic Buster I thought I would be a perfect candidate to give it a good review.

Dawn has developed 'Therapy Beyond Geography', meaning she can reach out to those who are not local to her, and that we can benefit from her expertise.
The 'Therapy Beyond Geography' covers three areas:

1: 30 minute online sessions via Skype or Facetime, covering such issues as phobia, anxiety and life coaching.
2: Product downloads which can be listened to on the go.
3: Self-help YouTube videos.

The MP3 arrived the next day and I couldn't wait to review it, although I wanted to wait until I felt I needed to use it rather than just using it at any time.
I'd come home from a day out and was feeling tired, stressed and a bit upset about some comments a friend had made about my anxiety (making fun of it in front of strangers when I wasn't even having "a moment")
The boys were in bed, my husband popped to the supermarket, and I needed to relax.
I turned off the television, put my feet up on the sofa, kept the lounge light off so it was dark, switched on my MP3 player and followed all instructions.
I felt relaxed almost straight away. The instructions were easy to follow. I didn't feel at all intimidated by Dawns voice and oddly enough it felt like she was in the room with me.

The relaxation track helped me to calm down, settle and feel like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was able to picture the things Dawn was asking me too and had soon forgotten how stressed I was feeling just 5 minutes before.

Then we moved on to the Anxiety Management Track. The techniques used on here are fantastic. There is a breathing technique which at first I struggled with but after practise was able to do it and found it worked.
The other technique works using colours and associating fears/anxious feelings with a colour and happy feelings with a colour, then mixing the two together. Dawn explains it well in this blog post: Seeing Red.
At first I thought this wouldn't work. I couldn't see how colours were going to change the way I felt BUT it works. It really does.
I struggled with a colour for my anxiety first. In the end I settled on a red-brown-green mix, basically the colour you get when you leave your child playing with paints or playdoh and they combine the whole lot.

When the tracks had finished I found myself feeling so relaxed that I stayed on the sofa, in the dark for a further 10 minutes, until my husband got home. I was also thinking over everything I had just done and felt really happy that it was something I could carry on with and use in situations when I am likely to get anxious.

Of course, the next day I went out in the car just to pop to the Supermarket and forgot to take my MP3 player and ended up feeling anxious at a set of traffic lights. I tried the breathing technique but at that point didn't feel it was working (it would have been better if I had the MP3 with me) so instead I tried the colour technique and by the time the traffic lights turned from red to green I was feeling much better.

I honestly believe that this has helped me with my anxiety much more than the CBT therapy I have talked about before. I have got to the point where I was avoiding going out, because the CBT was making me think about what I was thinking about and therefore, minor panics turned into major panics.
Since first using the Pocket Panic Buster I've felt more at ease leaving the house, I'm not saying my anxiety has disappeared or that I don't feel nervous when I leave the house. BUT I know now that there are ways of easing the anxiety.
The Pocket Panic Buster is giving me a way to instantly cope with my feelings of panic.

The Pocket Panic Buster is a 4GB MP3Player Preloaded with the Pocket Panic Buster and Relaxation tracks, and is available to buy via the Think It, Change It Product Store.
With each MP3 player you get a set of headphones and a USB cable for charging and loading other music onto the player. The MP3 player is only a couple of inches big so it really will fit in your pocket!
Other tracks are also available to download onto the MP3 player.

I was sent a preloaded MP3 player for the purpose of this review. All words above are honest and my own.

Black and White Fabric {Current Crush Thursdays}

I think the worst thing about being a stay at home mum is not having a regular income. It's even more annoying when you decide to take up a hobby and can't even buy the essential items needed to partake in said hobby.
This is the situation I am currently finding myself in.
I want to sew. I want to make lots and lots of lovely things but I have no money to buy the fabrics.
In the meantime I am keeping myself happy but sketching down my ideas, looking online at things to get ideas, and also lusting after fabric. In fact it might be a good job that I don't have a regular income as I love so many different fabrics that I would end up with far too much! At least with this time delay I am able to really make up my mind over which fabrics I want for the items I want to make in the boys bedrooms, the playroom and my bedroom.

At a recent Country Fayre I fell in love with a black and white scarf. It had zebras printed on it, was kind of similar to my elephant one, but again I had no funds to buy the scarf. I added a black and white scarf to my birthday list but didn't recieve one, which is fair enough as I am picky and can't even find one I really love.

So, I have decided that I could spend £12-£20 on an oversized black and white scarf OR I could simply make my own one and make sure I'm getting one made from fabric I really love...and own a scarf that no one else can buy!
Therefore I've been searching various fabric websites for beautiful black and white prints.

I'm linking this up with Current Crush Thursdays, hosted this week by The Wright Stuff.
Current Crush Thursdays

19.9.12

Sometimes Being a Brother...

Quote by Marc Brown

18.9.12

Walking Home From Preschool...

It has it's advantages. Not only the exercise of course. The fresh air. The chance to chat about how Charles' afternoon has been.
But also, the fact that the lane we walk down is home to lots of Bramble.
Today I greeted Charles from preschool with his cardigan and a freezer bag. On the way home we picked lots of Blackberries, armed with a stick to knock away the spiders and their webs.
Charles was able to grab some of the blackberries but his main responsibility was to hold the bag open.
I wished I had a stool or something with me as the best berries were up high and we couldn't quite reach them. In hindsight I should have just lifted Charles up.

When we got home he showed his blackberry treasure to daddy, washed them and then shared them with his brother. They were gone within a matter of minutes!