Friday, 29 March 2013

Alessi - 1 year

Well here it is. The kid is a year old. I thought I would be sad, but instead I feel really happy that she's got to this point. It's as though we've reached the ultimate milestone. We had this kid and we've managed not to break her for an entire year. I feel like our Health Visitor ought to come by with a medal for us both. Or an "I've been a competent parent this year" sticker, or something.

We didn't make too big a deal of it being her birthday. We just spent it as a family going to the zoo (she LOVED the fish), playing with balloons, eating cake and just partaking in some general silly if we ever needed an excuse. Then, when she was tucked up in bed and we saw the clock hit 9.15pm, we gave each other a celebratory high five.

The past year has been the greatest year I've ever had. It's also been the hardest. It's no lie that a baby changes everything and even the most solid of relationships can take a knock, ours being no exception. You get through it, but bloody hell, it's scary to look back at my pre-Pip days and see just how much has changed. It's probably a good thing we all go into this with blinkers on. Ignorance is bliss and all that.

It's always been my intention to only write these monthly updates for Alessi's first year. So this will be the last one. On that note, here's what she's been doing this past month:-

  • Stands unaided for short periods of time
  • Takes a few steps unaided
  • She loves to brush her teeth (and mine)
  • Can brush her hair - albeit in to her face
  • Sign a little when she's hungry, wants to be picked up, wants to know what or where something is etc
  • Understands some words like "bottle", "mummy", "daddy", "juice", "clap", "hi" and "bye bye"
  • And last, but not least, we now have the occasional meltdown when we won't let her do something she wants to do, like go into the kitchen when we're cooking. This is still in the cute stages at the moment, but I'm dreading the time when it'll kick up a notch. At the moment it's just lying flat on the floor, having a little whinge and then ,with a little distraction, forgetting about it. I know I shouldn't laugh when she does this, sometimes though, it's hard. :)
And now because I've feeling all loved up and emotional, here's an Alessi themed photo dump. Enjoy.

I think the face says it all.

And that's it folks. Here's to another awesome year..but perhaps with more sleep and fewer illnesses?
A girl can dream.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

I just got Liebstered!

You know that Charlotte over at I'm Only Saying What You're Thinking? Well she only went and gave me a Liebster Award didn't she!
"What's a Liebster Award?" I hear you ask. Well it's an award presented by bloggers, to their favourite small blogs. Along with the award, you're also provided with 11 questions to answer. The idea is to spread some love over the Blogosphere, have some fun and find some new and interesting blogs to follow at the same time. How lovely!

Here are my questions from Charlotte;

1. What's your favourite thing to do when you have time alone?
If I have any quiet time I usually hole myself up in my sewing room with a cup of tea and try to get some dressmaking done. Either that or blogging. It may seem self indulgent to some, but whatever your opinion on blogging may be, I absolutely love it and along with sewing, it's my all time favourite thing to do in my spare time.

2. If you could move to any place in the world, where would it be?
Vancouver, Vancouver, Vancouver.
Dan and I went there on our honeymoon and fell in love. Folk are so friendly, the city is buzzing, the surrounding countryside is breathtaking..and it's home to the Canucks. Nuff said.

3. What item will you be coveting for the new season?
Maxi skirts and 70's platform sandals. I probably won't get a chance to wear either, but a girl can dream.

4. What's your favourite season?
Autumn, always and forever.

5. Drink of choice?
Vodka and tonic. This girl is kind to me. She allows me to get merry without beating me about the head the following day and for that she'll always be my trusty 'go to' tipple.

6. A childhood memory?
Asking Santa for a jar of pickled onions for Christmas and being over the moon when I got one!

7. Tea or coffee?
Tea please. Milk, one sugar, not too weak. Lovely stuff.

8. What's your favourite dish to cook?
Roast veg. It's a weekly staple in this house as it's so quick and easy to throw together. Perfect for those days when you're just too tired to make much of an effort.

9. Favourite TV programme?
This changes frequently, but lately it's been Lena Dunham's TV series 'Girls'. I watched the finale of season 2 last night and I already miss it.

10. Celeb crush?
Kevin Bacon. Oh come on. Like you wouldn't!

11. What 5 people (dead or alive) would you invite to a dinner party?
Joan Jet for the stories and the guitar lesson I would persuade her to give me
Stephen Fry simply because I believe him to be near perfect in every way
Chris Hadfield for being a man who tweets from space (er, AWESOME) and makes me smile on a daily basis
Dawn French for the belly laughs and 
Lena Dunham because she is my girl crush and I love her like cake

That's it! I hope I didn't bore you. Now this is the part where I get to give a Liebster to some blogs that I love. Unsurprisingly some of the blogs I would have given a Liebster too have already been given one, I'm Only Saying What You're Thinking included. But I would very much like to give one to

My Little Acorns
The Owl and The Accordion
Seeds and Stitches and
Coomberism's Blog

If the ladies from the above blogs would like to take part then here are my 11 questions for you:

  1. How would you describe your blog in three words?
  2. How did you get into blogging?
  3. What's the story behind your blog name?
  4. What are your favourite topics to write about?
  5. How would you describe your perfect day?
  6. How would you describe your actual day?
  7. What - other than family, is guaranteed to make you smile?
  8. What is your guilty pleasure music-wise?
  9. How would you describe your style?
  10. What is the best book you've ever read?
  11. Stripes or polka dots?

Thanks again Charlotte for including me in your list of favourite blogs. It made me smile muchly. *Smooch*

Friday, 15 March 2013

Dirty fingernails and a paper pot tutorial

I finally got around to sowing my vegetable seeds. Sweet peas, courgettes, onions, bell peppers and strawberries all went in today. There's more to come, but as I've made a start I can happily relax for a while.

When sowing seeds I usually use these pots.

They make transplanting seedlings quicker, easier and cleaner. They're also much better for them as they avoid disturbing the delicate roots. As the seedlings grows, the roots eventually push through the pot which itself then breaks down harmlessly into the soil.
As I'm a little strapped for cash I thought I would go down the DIY route this year. As well as using egg boxes and toilet roll tubes, I made some out of newspaper. I've heard that paper makes the best biodegradable seedling pots as it's not too restrictive on the plants roots and breaks down the quickest.

And in case anyone would like to make their own paper pots, here's a quick how-to.

Take a sheet from a newspaper (this is a double sheet folded down the middle).

Fold in half length ways again

Fold the paper once more until it's the right size for your tube

Tightly roll the length of paper and then unroll again. This just makes the next step easier.

Tuck the newspaper into itself. This will hold the paper in place, see step 6.

Tighten or loosen the tube until you get it the exact size you want.

Cut tabs along the bottom.

Fold them in on themselves so they create a bottom for you pot. I didn't think this would work as the tabs are not secured with anything, but surprisingly it does work. 
Alternatively, you can skip steps 7-8, scrunch up a little newspaper and stuff it down the bottom of the tube. 

Et voila! Fill them up with soil and get sowing. 

Each year I like to try growing something a bit different. Last time it was gherkins. They started off well, but due to some destructive chickens and a bout of powdery mildew all I managed to harvest were two feeble looking fruits.

This year it's the humble sweet potato. Alessi loves them so I thought I'd give them a go. Turns out, they don't grow in the same way regular potatoes grow. The fact that I've just found this out probably speaks volumes about how successful this experiment will be!

After the pot making and seed sowing, I didn't want to stop so I dotted some primroses around the conservatory, tidied it up (again) and hung up some curtains. The result makes me smile so much.
The room looks inviting again, but most importantly it's clean and not too bright for Alessi who can play in there without squinting. Always a good thing.

And speaking of the little dude, she was awesome company throughout. It was her first healthy day following last week's tummy bug and it was so good to see her little face all lit up and smiley again. She also managed to squeeze a week's worth of mischief into one day. Like chowing down on soil when I wasn't looking.

Or helping herself to the chicken feed. I probably should have stopped her, but somehow documenting the moment seemed more important. Besides, it's got to be better than earwigs.

And then we goofed around with the camera for a bit.
We've had so many illnesses in this house lately that days like this are like gold dust. While I was playing with pots and dirt, I kept thinking about all the chores I was neglecting. The laundry basket was overflowing, dirty dishes sat by the sink..the list went on. Sat here now, with an aching back and dirty fingernails I'm so glad I ignored it all.
There's supposed to be grey skies tomorrow. Perfect washing up weather.

Monday, 11 March 2013

New in the shop

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that a couple of weekends ago, Dan took the kid to see his folks. I didn't go with them this time. Instead I stayed home and got on with some much needed sewing.
It felt so good to sit in front of my machine and just lose myself in what I was doing. I'm not going to lie, it was hard to give my new found freedom up!

In the time it usually takes me to just cut out the fabric pieces, I'd made a dress and finished off a maxi skirt that I've been working on for AGES. I'm so happy with the results!

Both are available in the shop and can be made to measure.

Right now I'm working on a new dress using this beautifully sunny fabric. I'm thinking capped sleeves and a peter pan collar? Now if the snow would just go away..

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

And breathe

It feels so good to finally say that it's spring time. Today it certainly felt it too. The sun was shining and the air was fresh, but warm. I decided to sit out in the conservatory and have a cuppa as it was so nice. When I looked up I noticed that my grapevines have started to bud. On closer inspection, so have the wisteria plants. My plans for a green canopy have begun..

Grapevine leaves
A little bit of wisteria
Hopefully by summer, the roof will be covered!
The warmer weather has also made for some happy hens. Margot here has been particularly unhappy of late. She started moulting a few weeks back and was a bit over zealous with it. I got quite worried, but a few days of sun and free roam of the garden has put her back on track.

As soon as I clean out the coop, these two have just GOT to come in for an inspection.

And if you needed further proof that spring was here, look! We have eggs again! 

Courtesy of Maureen, clearly satisfied with my cleaning efforts.

Margot and Hen enjoying a dust bath in the sun. 
Primroses brightening up the conservatory.
Days like these are good for the soul.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Exciting times

First off, let me start by saying, "Vive le Small Things" my arse.

Without boring you all with the details I've had to change my blog and shop name once more. I know, I know. I'm not impressed either.
It was my own bloody fault. I had been using The Small Things for years so I naively thought no one else would have its name. Or at least, nothing identical to what I was using. Wrong!
To cut a long story short, it was all getting a bit confusing and as I want to make a viable business out of my dressmaking, I have to make myself as easy to find as possible. So my old beloved blog name has had to go.

But you know what they say, third time's a charm. I've found another name that I love, that's easy to remember and more importantly, that's original and not taken by anyone else!

AND..I've finally accomplished something I've been dreaming about for years.
I've officially registered as self employed! My business is now a real business and taking this step has lit a well needed fire under my bum. Setting up was the easy part. Now comes the hard part, but I'm looking forward to what lies ahead.

So I guess there's nothing left to say except, here's to The Dress Tree! May it be successful, fun and the last flaming time I have to fiddle about with blog names.


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