The second Spring…

Hello there…

 Goodness, it’s been a while hasn’t it?  My little space here has been sorely neglected and ended up being bottom of the pile far too often over the past few weeks. When  I last wrote we were still enjoying the Summer and now it’s the Autumn and the clocks are almost ready to slip backwards into the winter months ahead. I truly love this time of year and am thoroughly enjoying the slow change in colour of the leaves, the cooler mornings and darker evenings. I once read that Autumn is like a second spring and I am trying to take some time every day to appreciate how colourful everything looks at the moment.

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This time of year also means I can get my Autumn wreath out of storage and hang these little foxes on my front door. I made this last year using templates from a selection of Mollie Makes magazines and I think that little foxes may put in a Christmas appearance this year…

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 At the end of August we had our final trip of the summer to Hayling Island. I have been going there every year since I was pretty much the same age as Little Pickle and it really feels like returning home. It was a large family gathering with Aunts, Uncles and cousins and it was so good to be in their company. There were good days and not so good days when Little Pickle struggled to adjust to unfamiliar surroundings and new routines but I was propped up, supported and laughed with those people that I love the most which made it all just a bit easier. We visited the beach, threw stones in the sea and felt the salty air on our cheeks.

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 The end of August also meant the long awaited news about Little Pickle’s autism diagnosis. After two and a half years he was finally diagnosed and I breathed a very long sigh of relief. I still feel very emotional about it and my feelings are very hard to put into words but through the heartache it finally feels as though a door has been opened. Not long afterwards I started the Early Bird Programme for parents of young children with autism.

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It’s a ten week course and I can honestly say that it has become a weekly highlight for me. Just being with other parents who face the same daily challenges has been a huge comfort and inspiration. The two women who run the course are a complete encyclopaedia of ideas and their positivity is a huge boost. At the first session we had to introduce ourselves and our child to the group and I only managed a couple of words before the tears started falling. The sense of relief was just completely overwhelming and I can only describe it as being exhausted from treading water for a long time and finally someone had come along and offered their hand so you could get out of the water.

 September was a very special month and Little Pickle started school for the first time.

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I had lots of worries about how he would manage and cope with such a big change and we spent a lot of time over the summer looking at pictures of his new school and teachers and reading Harry and the Dinosaurs Start School. I frantically stitched name labels and labelled virtually everything in sight whilst trying very hard not to worry too much. When the big day arrived I think I was probably more nervous but I am so happy to report that everything went extremely smoothly and we couldn’t have asked for a better start to school. It is so wonderful to see the change that has happened over the past few weeks and watch how much Little Pickle is enjoying all of the new experiences. I miss him a lot, especially during the afternoons when I’m not working but I can see now how much he needed school and watching his delight in learning things for the first time is one of the loveliest parts of being a Mummy.

 We also celebrated my mum’s birthday and I made a very yummy raspberry and white chocolate cake. The recipe came from Lorraine Pascale’s website and you can find the recipe here When I saw the almond and raspberry flowers I was so taken aback by how pretty they were that I had to try and make it myself. I added some cake bunting and voila!

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 As a little surprise I also made my mum a little embroidered hoop for her bedroom. I went through my box of hexies and other small scraps of fabric that I had in my (ever so slightly) bulging fabric drawer and came up with this.

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 I wrapped the same floral scraps around the hoop and delved into my Cath Kidston Stitch! book to find a little floral cross stitch pattern. I have to be very honest here and say that I sewed this late at night and made a few mistakes but I don’t think that you can notice. I really enjoyed making this and have another hoop to celebrate my Godmother’s 50th Wedding Anniversary to show you soon.

 Oh dear, I’ve just realised that I’ve been rambling on here for quite a while now and thank you for listening to me. I promise to be back sooner rather than later with a mini quilt and some pictures of the two quilts that I’m making for my sister’s twins…not long now!

 I’ll leave you with these beautiful flowers that have brightened up the school run over the past few weeks.

 Pretty in pink……

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Three Cushions and a Rainbow…

Hello there… are you having a good Summer?

I’m not sure how the end of August is very nearly here. How did that happen so fast! I don’t know if it’s the same where you are but the mornings have started to feel slightly cooler and at the weekend I heard the first of the geese fly overhead on their noisy journey. This is normally a sign that the Autumn is approaching and for me one of my favourite times of year. I have the same sense of excitement as the Spring and I think it’s that back to school feeling of new beginnings that makes me like the Autumn so much.

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Little Pickle and I managed to visit our favourite local farm a couple of weeks ago and picked a huge bowl of raspberries and blackberries and a small bag of plums. They were delicious and there’s nothing like eating fruit that is still warm from the sun.

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Over the past few weeks I’ve worked on three different cushion commissions. The first was for a very special lady who was turning 80. I was very lucky to be given a completely blank canvas and decided to reach for some Liberty squares and embroidery threads and came up with this…

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The cross stitch pattern came from a book that I first mentioned here and I used the scraps of water soluble canvas I had left over from a free magazine gift to complete the design. There is something sooo satisfying about pulling off the jelly like scraps of waste canvas when they are wet.

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The next commission was for two new babies and the brief was rainbows, hearts, stars and flowers. One for a boy and one for a girl. Now then, I’ve made a rainbow cushion in the past and it very nearly convinced me that sewing wasn’t for me. I vowed that I wouldn’t make another one…no siree, never ever! Well…that didn’t last longer than about five minutes…I decided that this time things would be a bit simpler and straight forward to save not only my sanity but the sanity of everyone in our house! I had great fun ordering nearly all of my supplies from the wonderful Pretty Fabric and Trims and matching up a selection of threads. After lots of cutting and stitching the following cushion babies were born…

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Welcome to the world Zosia and Kenzie!

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   These cushions were also my first cushiony collaboration with my super talented friend Jo. Do you remember the apples from my last post? Well Jo was able to use her fabulous crochet skills and made me the crochet hearts and stars for these cushions. It’s the first time that I’ve added crochet decorations and I’m so pleased that I did and very grateful for Jo’s suggestion!

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In between the Summer sunshine there have been a sprinkling of showers that created some beautiful rainbows. Look at this one taken from the window in Little Pickle’s room. I love how bright the colours look against the inky grey sky.

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I hope that you have a lovely weekend. We’re heading away for a few days on Monday and I can’t wait to be near the sea again.

I’ll be back soon with news of a mini quilt and a Minecraft Bag!

Enjoy the Bank Holiday and see you soon.

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Teacher Gifts and a Farewell…

Hello there…how are you?

It’s been a gloriously hot few days and the perfect start to the summer holidays. Although I’m still working for a bit over the summer it’s been nice to look at the weeks ahead and plan trips to see friends and think of some fun days out for Little Pickle.  On our list so far are the butterflies at the Natural History Museum, fruit picking, the recently re-opened Imperial War Museum (more of this later) and the Cinema. With school approaching in September I really want to make the most of this summer with Little Pickle and enjoy this special time together and hold onto the pre-school bits just a little bit longer….

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The end of last week was a very emotional time and when it came to say goodbye to the wonderful staff at Little Pickle’s Pre-School there were lots of tears. Anyone who knows me will know that I am a bit of a waterworks…even adverts get me started and there was no way that I was going to be able to hold in the tears. Little Pickle looked at me like I was slightly bonkers and said “Mummy, you’re dripping!” I think pouring was more like it! It felt like a huge wrench and even now, a few days later, I’m welling up thinking about it. The staff had been with us through some very tough times and through all of it had been a steady source of love, guidance and support. I couldn’t have wished for a better place for Little Pickle’s love of the world to be nurtured and encouraged and will miss them terribly.

I wanted to thank them all with a special gift and way back before we went away on holiday decided I would ask Little Pickle to draw a picture of the nursery ladies. This is what he came up with….

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I helped him a bit with the triangle because I needed this picture to have a body for what I had in mind. I love the hair…

In a bit of a rush before we went away on holiday I traced the drawing onto some gorgeous linen and got to work embroidering the arms, legs and faces. Next up were the little triangles. I wanted these nursery ladies to have pretty summer dresses and decided on two gorgeous Sevenberry fabrics.

Here they are all lined up in a row…

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I added a personalised message for everyone and finished off the dresses with some pale pink tiny buttons.

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I was almost finished and ready to cut all nine into heart shapes when I decided to add some pink lazy daisy stitches. It took a bit of a late night and stitching at breakfast to get them all finished but I was so pleased with finished result. Would you like to see?

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Each heart was finished with a pale pink and white striped ribbon.

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And backed with coordinating dress fabric. I love these pretty florals.

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 Nine hearts for nine very special ladies.

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Do you remember the crochet apples from my last post?

Well, I had wanted to create some special gift tags to add to my presents but because my crochet skills are still very much at the beginning stage I asked my lovely friends Jo and Kay who are brilliant at crochet if they would make me some crochet apples. I was so grateful for their help and when they came up with these I couldn’t wait to get started and show them off!

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What do you think?

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I used the same washi tape and brown paper bags and very soon had a little row of presents wrapped and ready to go.

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It felt lovely handing them over and was just a small way of saying a big thank you to a group of very special ladies who have played such an important part in our family.

I’m going to make myself another one, this time for framing, along with Little Pickle’s original picture.

Enjoy the rest of your week and this beautiful weather. I’ll be back soon with some cushion commissions I’ve worked on recently that I can’t wait to show you.

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Reasons to be happy…

Hello there…sorry I’ve been away for a while. I’ll be back properly soon, I promise. Until then here are some recent moments that have made me very happy indeed…

Little Pickle’s look of pure joy when he won a race on Sports Day.

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Sweet Peas from my parent’s garden. 

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I can’t tell you how much I love Sweet Peas.

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A little pile of crocheted apples…

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much more on these next time…

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Celebrating Little Pickle’s achievements. His first swimming badge was a huge achievement and a very proud Mummy moment.

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Two toadstool buttons…I can’t stop looking at these. Can you see the tiny butterfly? The detail is amazing.

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A flowering artichoke…

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Isn’t this colour palette pretty?

And finally, quite possibly the best news..my lovely little sister is having TWINS! I am so unbelievably happy for her and am amazed that we will have not one but two new additions to our family. What a lovely reason to be happy.

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Postcard from Portugal…

Hello there! How are you? I feel like I’ve been away from my little space here for a long time and it feels good to be back.

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Laying under a blue sky, this beach umbrella and feeling the sun on my face felt so good. I love the salty tight feel of your face when you’ve been on the beach for the day and not for the first time I wanted to somehow live nearer to the sea.

It was good to be away from the day to day, to not have to look in the diary and worry about deadlines. Good to be able to wake up with no plans and just let the day unfold.

We spent a lot of time at the beach…

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Running in and out of the waves…

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Just thinking…

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Managing plenty of Jedi training with big sticks…

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I’m not sure where Little Pickle found these (every day!) but after sand was flicked in my face for about the fiftieth time they managed to find a new home far away from our sunbed!

There are the most amazing doughnut sellers who walk up and down the beach selling warm, custard filled, sugar crusted balls of deliciousness. Oh my, they are so good. I may have eaten one too many but they are just so hard to resist and we were on holiday so I don’t think it counts!

We enjoyed lots of time round the pool…

Jumping into cool water…

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Painting…

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Playing with Star Wars Lego…

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and allowing R2D2 a few minutes to himself for a sunbathe before another battle to save the galaxy commenced…

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There were very happy times but I’m going to be really honest here and say that there were times when it was a very very tough couple of weeks. Autism and holidays are not always a happy combination. The routine, settling, living arrangements are all different and not for the first time Little Pickle’s symptoms seemed to  be heightened away from home. There were days where I cried and days where I laughed (because if I hadn’t I probably would have cried) and days where I felt really tired and worn down. I questioned whether it really was worth going away? Was Little Pickle finding it too much and was I doing the wrong thing expecting him to settle whilst we were away? At times I felt very sad and confused as I tried to find a path through the world of Autism.

I was so grateful for the chance to get away and would hate for anyone to think that I wasn’t hugely grateful for a holiday. There were some real breakthrough moments especially when Little Pickle walked on the sand barefoot for the first time and was able to change his normal bedtime and evening routine. This meant we were all able to go out in the evening for dinner which even last Summer wasn’t possible. I was very thankful that my family were there with me and that I was able to slip away one morning for a bit of time on my own.

I went to the little village near us and had hoped to visit this church and light a candle for my first baby boy…

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It’s a very peaceful place and I normally always light a candle for him when we’re away. It’s my way of making sure that he is with us even when we’re far from home. On the day that I visited there was a private service taking place so instead I sat outside and just enjoyed the quiet and let myself think of him.

When Little Pickle was in bed I managed to take some pictures of the flowers around the pool. I love the colour combination in these little beauties…

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A little bee was busy at work…

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Hot pink against lime green…pretty holiday blooms.

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During the evenings and one rainy morning I also managed a little bit of holiday crafting and finished a project that had been unfinished for a long time. I haven’t quite got round to photographing them yet but will share some pictures soon.

 I don’t normally post pictures of myself and Little Pickle but thought I would share this last one with you, taken in the early evening in the Portugal sunset…

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I love this picture.

Things are going to be ok.

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Sunshine, bows and showers…

Hello there! Are you enjoying the three day weekend? I love May for its two bank holidays.

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Yesterday we headed off to a Medieval Festival in Wendover. It was like a fantastic country fair with lots of  stalls, inflatables for the little ones and of course ice cream! We had a lovely afternoon pottering around. Little Pickle was particularly taken with throwing wet sponges at a man in the stocks and couldn’t quite believe that he was allowed to have five turns! Amongst the stalls was a gorgeous selection of fabrics and some truly stunning quilts by The Plainstitch Workroom. You can read more about it here. They offer a fantastic selection of workshops and I would really like to sign up for one of their Autumn quilting workshops. I couldn’t resist treating myself to some new fat quarters and came away with this little selection.

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So pretty and I have some special plans for them.

Last night Little Pickle had his first proper sleepover with his cousin. This was a real step forward for us and something that we could never have imagined happening even a couple of months ago. It felt so strange leaving him and coming home to an empty house. I think that I had to be braver than he was and really missed him, especially popping in to give him a final kiss and cuddle before I went to bed. He had a lovely time and when I picked him up this morning was already asking when he’ll be able to have another sleepover. I’m so pleased that he enjoyed himself. It’s that funny feeling of being happy that your little one is becoming more independent but also a tiny bit sad that they are becoming more grown up. With school on the horizon I think that this is something that I’m going to have to get used to, even though it still makes me feel a bit wobbly inside.

There have been other jobs to get done this weekend, including getting ready for our holiday which is approaching very soon. I am so excited about going away and feeling some real warmth and sunshine (I’m a bit fed up with all the rain, especially today). If I’m honest I feel like I really need a break and a rest. I’ve been feeling very restless over the past couple of weeks and sense that the winds of change may be blowing my way. I’m looking forward to having some time away with my family and just enjoying their company and the feeling of waking up with no plans or things to do.

My beautiful niece is turning three when we are away and I wanted to share one of her birthday presents with you…

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A little puffy blouse in one of my favourite fabrics. I used the same pattern as her Easter blouse but this time decided to leave off the bottom frill.

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A simple corduroy skirt with pink embroidered butterflies was the next addition to the outfit. This fabric was destined to be a pair of dungarees…however, after cutting out two left legs and making a bit of an epic mistake when sewing them together I decided to abandon the dungarees all together and settled on a little skirt instead. This was my first attempt at a skirt and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. The pattern was from here and it was indeed an easy peasy skirt!

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This little puffy hair bow was the finishing touch and I think that it’s my favourite bit of the whole outfit. I can’t wait to see it all together and I hope that she likes it.

 I’ll be taking a break from my blog for a little while and look forward to sharing some holiday pictures and holiday crafting pictures (oh yes, I’ve got a little stash of holiday craft planned!) with you when I get back.

Au revoir but only for a little while.

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PS Thank you for your comments on my last post…I’m so pleased I’m not the only one with show tea towels!

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Soldier, Soldier

Hello there! How are you? Sorry I’ve been a little bit quiet over the past few days. I’ve got a very good excuse and inbetween my day job have been working on a lovely commission for a set of new twins. I always really enjoy commissions for new babies and it makes me feel very happy to think that some of my creations have found homes with little new people.

I was given a completely blank canvas for this project and after sleeping on some of my original ideas….pea pods, planes, trains…I woke up and decided on London soldiers.

One for Mummy and one for Daddy…

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The main body of the cushion was a very soft linen. I used applique on the main lettering and decided on some hand embroidery for the  names and dates.

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I decided to create my own Soldier template and after a little bit of alteration and fiddly cutting out I was very pleased with this happy pair.

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I have to be honest and bits of these cushions were a little bit more time-consuming than others. There were a LOT of threads to tie and trim! There were also a few rude words when a seam decided to pop apart as I was about to start stuffing. It was lovely when they were all finished and I hope that they are now happily in their new nursery.

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I’ve also been very lucky this week and have received two(!) gifts. The first came from my special friend C in Ireland. We met a long time ago and I miss her a lot. She knows me so well and when I opened up her parcel I found this inside…

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I wish you could feel the wool…it is so soft and I keep putting my hands in the box just to have a little squish. Aren’t the colours beautiful? They remind me of a little bowl of ice cream.

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I did a felt making course a few years ago and can’t wait to have another try…

My second gift came in this very tempting bag…

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Inside was the prettiest tea towel…

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It’s so pretty that I don’t think I can even keep it for a show tea towel! Does anyone else have these? The kind of tea towels that you just keep for very special visits or is it just me! I hope I’m not the only one…!

Anyway, the pattern on this is so lovely and unusual that I’m planning to turn it into a tote bag.

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I hope that you enjoy the rest of your week. The sun looks set to shine and I hope you’ll be able to enjoy it where you are.

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