3 #HappyandHome things

I’ve started to read a few blogs from following @pennyalexander_ on Twitter and I was drawn to them by the fact that on a weekly basis they share about how the things which make you truly happy are just on your doorstep at home. I wanted to do a one off blog about 3 things which make me #HappyandHome this week.

TSH Zoe family pic

  1. Gabriel’s street dance class.

My eldest daughter Rebekah (14) has been helping out as a teaching assistant in the class for about 3 years and ever since Gabriel was old enough to join in a year ago he has been wanting to go, but hasn’t been brave enough. He finds it really hard to try new things and is quite a clingy child, and until recently even having Rebekah there in the class it was still too much of a mental hurdle for him to go and join in. The last few weeks he has really cracked it though, and has been asking every day if its street dance day yet. They have a section of the class where they have to come up with their own ‘cool move’ to show everyone else, and Gabriel has been making us all laugh demonstrating his cool moves for us all the time. They mainly involve some kind of convoluted bunny hop and rolling around on the floor, but its lovely to see him finding his confidence and enjoying something together with Rebekah, who is a huge dance fan, and plans to be a dance teacher when she is older.

 2. Naomi’s steel grit and determination

Everyone trying to build a barricade in front of the TV that takes Naomi (14 months with a daredevil approach to climbing) more than a few minutes to scale. She loves standing in front of the TV and banging on it- hence the barricade. Why oh why did we not go for wall mounted!!?!! Its amazing how many stools, car seats and large toys she can navigate quickly to be back banging on the TV a few minutes later. No one has succeeded so far, and I don’t think we will as she is one determined baby!

3. Word Games with my husband Dave.

My husband Dave is annoyingly brilliant at playing word games, and me and daughter no 2 Esther (12) regularly relax together by playing Boggle with him in the evenings. (If Gabriel is still up he tries to join in and practices writing his letters). We are no match for him at all, and count it as a win if our combined score is half of his! Esther has once managed to beat him on a round, which lives on as a triumph to be remembered forever!

What makes you #HappyandHome?

Why we love the new Me to You Sweet Shop range

I’ve just started stocking the new Me to You Sweet Shop range and I love it!

I love the fresh combination of colours, the candy pink, mint and grey of Tatty Teddy. The designs are cute and girly and perfect for friends and family. Equally suited to card making and scrapbook pages you are spoilt for choice, especially with the range of 8 designs in the glitter decoupage pad. They make an excellent starting point for inspiration for your page or card.

TSH Me to you Sweetshop collage

As it’s a new range there aren’t lots of tutorials out there yet but here are some of the best for your inspiration from some clever bloggers.

A free standing pop up card

A decorative corner card and lovely matching envelope

A side stepper card

Beautiful treat box

A sweetie jar penny spinner card  in action here

A rockin’ birthday card

I’m going to use the range to create some scrapbooking pages for Naomi’s first year. What would you make?

 

 

 

Why I craft

Crafting is my work but also my passion (which is how it ended up being my work as well!) I think it’s the best relaxation ever as not only do you get to totally lose yourself in something, you get a gorgeous by product at the end. I’m fascinated to hear why people craft so thought I’d share a bit about why I do.

 I can’t remember not crafting. Its something I did a lot of as a child- I still have a felt jewellery box that I made when I was about 7 that is I embroidered and beaded. I actually can’t believe how neat the stitching is when I look at it now- I clearly was totally absorbed in getting it right.

Made by Zoe, age 7!!

My mum was a huge influence, as she always had crafts on the go- from sewing clothes for herself and us, knitting me and my sister cardigans, cross-overs for ballet and teaching us to cross stitch. My mum has an antique wardrobe that has always been filled with fabric offcuts, patterns, button tins and trims and it was like a treasure chest- I loved getting to look through it and choose things to ‘make’ with. Me and my sister shared a child’s sewing machine and I spent hours learning how to sew lavender bags and scrunchies, and knitted myself my first jumper when I was ten. It was hideous and I wore it once! During school holidays I always had a craft project on the go, and have stacks of cross stitch and tapestry that I did then.

Now, crafting is a release from the day to day ‘stress’ of having four children and working from home running a business serving customers throughout the world through the power of the internet. I say ‘stress’ because of course I love every second of it, but you do need to find something for yourself. As I’m on the go all the time I can’t ever just sit and do nothing, so having a project fills that goal well.

Why do you craft?

 

 

Inspirational Women

When I realised that International Women’s Day was coming up in the calendar, I started to write a blog post about the inspirational women who inspire me to be a work at home mum, like Mandy Sutcliffe from Belle and Boo. However, as soon as I thought about it, I realised that the absolute inspirations in my life are a lot closer to home. Hope you enjoy reading this really personal post.

Zoes family2

My Mum

My Mum is pretty brilliant. Even though she is 75 she helps my sister who developed ME 6 years ago and needs help with daily life, all by herself since we lost my Dad 9 years ago. She has helped people with her talents for creating all her life, and I watched her all through my childhood sewing dresses and shorts for an Oxfam project sending clothes to African children, and knitting jumpers for them too. She always has a crafty project on the go for others, currently she is knitting for her local premature baby unit. None of my little ones outfits are complete without one of her knitted cardigans! Even though she is in Devon and I am in Cheshire and we don’t see each other as often as we would like due to life she is still always there for me.

My Sister: Sarah

Sarah has had some challenges thrown at her recently- 6 years ago she went from being an almost qualified accountant working full time and running and keeping fit in her spare time to being ill with what we later found out was ME. Since then she has got steadily worse, can no longer work and is pretty much housebound. She has always been my best friend since we stopped fighting as teenagers, and she is always there for me to help me in any way over the phone. She is an inspiration to me in how stoically she bears the changes that have happened in her life, and how much of a good Auntie she is to my kids. I don’t know what I would do without her!

My Mother in Law: Margaret

She seems to be able to do anything! I married quite young and moved far from Devon so away from my mum she has taught me how to sew curtains, recover sofas, juggle children and bring some order to the jungle of my garden. She is just about to start chemotherapy for cancer and yet is still managing to be involved in the lives of her 13 grandchildren.

My childhood friend: Bryony

Bryony is one of those friends that I don’t see often maybe a few times a year, but we can always pick up exactly where we left off. Her eldest child is severely autistic and I greatly admire the way she copes with the challenges it brings, and the extreme sleep deprivation. She is a Super Mum!

Who inspires you? I’d love to hear about inspirational women in your life.

My latest Scrapbooking Page

For International Scrapbooking Day on March 4th, I thought it would be fun to share my latest scrapbooking project. It may be nearly Spring but as I’ve just got my Christmas photos printed I wanted to capture that page.

PicMonkey Collage

The page is made using Dovecraft North Pole Christmas range- I used the ribbon, paper, wooden frames and buttons, with frames that I have die cut and die cut snowflakes.

If you like the range, Trimcraft have an amazing Pinterest page which will give you lots of inspiration. We stock a small amount of Christmas stock all year round as well so if you’re still printing your photos, you don’t need to wait til next Winter!

 

Why we love Dovecraft Serendipity

Serendipity header

The Dovecraft Serendipity range is just perfect for Spring. It’s described as an eclectic assortment of papers and embellishments featuring bold colours and creative designs with a joyful boho feel. A mixture of charming florals and delightful repeat patterns this craft collection will brighten your craft projects!

I love the folksy,boho colour scheme and the fact there are lots of different patterns even on the same sheet of paper. It’s also really versatile- great for birthday cards of all ages, Mother’s day and lovely girly scrapbook pages. Even better, it combines florals and polka dots, making it really modern. The addition of spots and checks means that if you want to cater for a non-girly girls you can too, flowers not compulsory.

There are some great examples of how it’s been used by some clever Bloggers- hope you find some inspiration.

A bright and cheerful Thank You card

Acetate Shaker Card Tutorial

An unusual shaped Card

An easy but really impactful card

A stunning rosette arrangement

A cute mini album

3D card letters

If you’re inspired by these and make anything please do pop over to my Facebook page and share your makes, I’d love to see them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why we love Santoro Willow

willow_sub_section_trade (1)Santoro is one of our best selling ranges- it’s inspired by nature and the world of storytelling with beautiful female figures interwoven with flora and fauna. Our customers love it for it’s versatility- it lends itself well to both scrapbooking and card making for a range of occasions. The female figures make it ideal for Mother’s Day as well!

It’s really popular with younger crafters- the female figures appeal to teenagers and one of my personal favourite ways of using it is to make scrapbook pages with my teenage daughters.

photojoiner

Here are some great examples of Santoro Willow being used around the web. Please click on the links to be taken to some great tutorials from some talented bloggers.

An easy card making project

Beautiful Moments card tutorial

Easel style cards

A stunning and slightly more tricky centre stepper card

A mixed media scrapbook layout

Beautiful concertina label cards

A really unusual wall hanging using Santoro Willow

 

The Organizer Basket – Free Pattern

Tired of laptop cables and chargers getting tangled up, I decided to make a basket to organize them. This basket has handles and a divider to keep different sections separate.

This is a nice quick project to crochet up, due to using chunky yarn and a large crochet hook. It took me about 2 hours from start to finish, so easy to fit in while watching a film or an evenings TV.

The Organizer Basket

IMG_0484

Materials needed

Difficultly level: Easy

Time needed: 2 hours

This makes a basket measuring approximately 35cm wide, 10cm deep and 13cm high.

Chain 22

Round One Tr into 4th chain space (1st 3 chain stitches make first treble crochet), tr 17, dtr, ch1, ttr, ch, dtr to turn corner, tr 17, ch1, ttr, ch1, ss to join with 1st treble.

Round Two

Ch3, tr19, (2tr,ch1,2tr) into next space to turn corner, tr2, (2tr, ch1, 2tr) into space to turn corner, tr19, (2tr,ch1,2tr) into next space to turn corner, tr2, (2tr,ch1,2tr) into next space to turn corner, ss to join with 1st treble, cut yarn and pull yarn through to finish.

Add Divider

Decide where you want to place your divider, and pick up and chain 7 times across the wrong side of your crochet, where you have decided you want it to be.

Work 4 rows of trebles, turning work at each end. Cut yarn and finish off.

Basket sides

Choose a point on the base to reattach your yarn, and working through the back loops only, treble crochet all the way around. At the corners where the base was turned, ignore the chain space, resulting in 64 trebles.

Rounds 1-4

Work 4 rounds of treble crochet, joining each round with a slip stitch. When you pass the divider, slip a slip stitch to attach it to the sides of the basket on each side.

Round 5

No need to slip stitch the divider on this round as it is higher than the divider. The handles need forming on this round, so on reaching the short end of the basket (which is 6 trebles long), don’t treble these 6 stitches, instead do 6 chain stitches, before continuing to treble the rest of the way around. Repeat at the other short side.

Round 6

Double crochet this round, including over the chain section forming the handles, and finish off. Weave in any ends and admire your basket!

Variations

Add more dividers, make it shorter or deeper, whatever you can imagine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crochet Snowflake Garland

I finally got the decorations up last night including this crochet snowflake garland I made a few years ago. I found this lovely free crochet snowflake pattern on Pinterest here, and made some individual snowflakes on small loops for the tree, and added some along a crochet string for my mantelpiece.

The pattern is quick and easy, so perfect for last minute presents and decorations. By the time you have made a few you will know it well enough to stuff a ball of wool and a crochet hook in your pocket for a quick crochet on the go (or is it just me that does that?)

IMG_0304

Any white wool or cotton works well, and I have even used some fluffy chenille yarn, that I unravelled from a charity shop find to make some larger snowflakes, using a larger hook.

This is easily adaptable to any length of garland you want to make, I just crocheted a chain and added a snowflake on with a slip stitch at each place I wanted one. This makes a great beginner project as the tension is very flexible on this pattern, and the results look impressive.

I might just have to make some more this year to add to my presents along with some bakers twine for a rustic look!