Saturday, 31 March 2012


I think the time has come to officially declare this little blog closed. It's been long neglected and over-shadowed by 52 crafts & Letters Home. Please follow one or both of them if you want to keep in touch with baby, craft & California news.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, 31 December 2011

A toast to 2011

I can't believe all that has happened in 2011, not least the last few weeks since moving to California. It feels like a bit of a dream really. In fact, the beginning of a dream, is what I called my first post on my new blog about our US adventures.

Here is is reproduced for you (originally posted 17 November):

It was October last year when we made the decision to try to move to the USA. We’d both long harboured the dream to live abroad and the time felt right to go for it. And the time also felt completely right to start our family. I should probably mention the setting for these life-changing decisions: the restaurant in Glasswells (a furniture store in Ipswich). What a place to set in motion a complete change in our lives!

So we started telling people our decision – the moving to the US one that is, we kept the baby-making to ourselves – and we were met with pretty positive reactions but I guess they felt like us. It wouldn’t seem real until it actually happened. Well in August we were thrilled to discover that both of our hopes had come true. On an ordinary summer Friday, Ben found out that, after 11 interviews, he’d been successful in securing a job based in San Jose near San Francisco in California. So we went out for a fabulous celebratory meal at our favourite restaurant – accompanied by a glass of bubbly of course. And that was my last alcoholic drink as three days later, having gone home from work early feeling sick, I got those magic two pink lines on a home pregnancy test.

We had a couple of weeks for things to sink in before flying to San Jose to meet Ben’s new boss and have a good look around the area. We also had to tell his boss that I was 6 weeks pregnant and that we’d have to move fairly swiftly so we could be out in California by December! He was the first person we’d told about the baby. Things were slowly beginning to feel real.

And now here we are. As I write these words, out of the corner of my eye, I can see the photo from today’s 20 week scan. At the top of my screen I have a tab open where I’d been looking at Virgin flights. I’m arranging shipping, we have a tenant for our house and I have piles of clothes on the bedroom floor after sorting through my very cluttered wardrobe. And if I think too much about the fact that in just three weeks we’ll be saying goodbye to all our friends and families the tears start to form. I don’t know about back in August but I tell you something, it’s feeling pretty damn real now.

You can keep up with our ups and downs, fun and frustrations over on Letters Home and I'll try to post stuff here too.

In the meantime, let's raise a toast to 2011 and welcome 2012 with open arms. It's going to be an adventure!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Summing it all up

It's a Thursday evening in November and tonight's warming dinner of chicken with coriander, chilli, garlic and ginger is happily bubbling away on the hob while Florence and the Machine plays in the background (via Spotify, she's not in my living room). So it seems like a good time to pause, reflect, and write about everything that's been going on lately.

Today started with an 8am alarm, an 8.15 rise, a hot shower with an almost-delicious shower gel that smelt of white chocolate and eucalyptus (a strange combination and not one to be transferred to the kitchen any time soon) and a decision to make on what to wear. I opted for skinny jeans, an almost-still-white long sleeved top, green flowery tunic dress and cosy chocolate-brown cardigan. Nothing overly unusual so far until I tell you I spent the night in bed with a pillow behind me, one between my knees and one under my tummy. Which I had to move every time I needed to get up to the loo (three times in total). And that the skinny jeans are elasticated to fit over-the-bump. Oh yes, there's a little someone planning to join our family next April.

Black and white baby bump mosaic
The top left photo is the most recent at 18 weeks. Earliest is bottom right, 13 weeks.
I know this won't be news if you follow 52 crafts, where I've also been pretty absent of late.

As I write, little one is kicking me gently. I've only been feeling more noticeable movements for the last few days but the flutters have been present since 15 weeks and they're pretty amazing. At week 19 all seems well so far with no morning sickness, quite a lot of tiredness and some back niggles that are under control thanks to the aforementioned military placing of pillows.

So that's one bit of news. Oh yes, there's more.

I left my job as a communications manager, at a place I'd worked for 11 years, exactly two weeks ago. Two weeks that have flown by at an unbelievable pace. As despite not "working" I have been busy on a pretty damn big project to move me, my husband, Toby the dog and baby bump to California. All being well, and there are a few official things to sort out still, we'll be living state-side by Christmas.

So as you can imagine, we have a lot to plan, pack and decisions to make: do we ship the table? how about 20 cookery and craft books (yes, clearly)? where do we want to live? house or apartment with a pool? how do we find a doctor? You don't want to see my project plan!

It's all very exciting though and we feel very lucky to have been given such an amazing opportunity. And we couldn't be more happy to be starting our much-wanted family.

We are lucky, happy, a bit scared, excited and growing rapidly (me and baby, not Ben). I think that just about sums it up.

Monday, 25 July 2011

101 in 1001 update

With less than a year to go it's time to check in with my 101 in 1001 list. I still have a way to go!

Start date: 30 August 2009
Finish date: 27 May 2012

1. Research family tree
2. After doing family history, visit some of the places my family lived
3. Make my first quilt
4. Build a website from scratch
5. Get married!
6. Have a go at geocaching
7. Write a book
8. Write menu plans- seasonal and cheap- every week for a month (0/4)
9. Grow potatoes
10. Join a screenprinting class - I haven't done this as such but I did teach myself screenprinting as part of 52 crafts so I think I'll cross this one off.
11. Go on safari
12. Read a book in a day
13. Do something creative every day for a week (7/7)
14. Take a book (maybe the one in no.12) to a coffee shop and spend the afternoon there on my own
15. Record a craft video tutorial Yes! Did you see my potato printing video?
16. Eat 5 things I've never tried before (5/5) I tried Haggis in Scotland and bloomin' lovely it was too!
17. Cook 5 things I've never cooked before (4/5)
18. Make a photo book with my favourite photos 
19. Get a piece of freelance writing published - and get paid for it
20. Make a scrapbook of a big event (eg wedding, holiday etc.)
21. Try waxing (at a salon, not eyebrows)
22. Write a routine for cleaning/house management
23. Go to opera for the first time
24. Go to the ballet again
25. Donate blood
26. Go to a cookery school for the day
27. Make & write thank you cards for Amanda & Kate
28. Perform 20 random acts of kindness (1/20)
29. Read 10 books that I haven't already from this list (3/10)
30. Participate in a craft fair
31. Blog daily for a week (7/7)
32. Blog daily for a month (30/30)
33. Finish my Emily Peacock cushion kit
34. Make a zine
35. Learn to make clip frame purses
36. Learn to knit
37. Learn to crochet granny squares
38. Organise and tidy craft room
39. Go to an auction
40. Find the perfect trousers
41. Get a promotion
42. Climb Snowdonia
43. Have another horse riding lesson
44. Select and take part in a “big” charity event like the Moonwalk
45. Take part in a beach cleaning event
46. Get up at 7am every day for a week (7/7)
47. Complete Edinburgh MoonWalk in less than 8 hours I did it in 7 hours :)
48. Learn another craft I haven't already done
49. Set up a craft night/afternoon
50. Set up a water butt
51. And a compost bin
52. Make my own duvet cover and matching pillow cases
53. Visit a farmers' market or farm shop once a month-
54. Continue to run the Christmas giving tree at work every year (2/2)
55. Visit an art gallery
56. Go to pilates once a week for a month (4/4)
57. Make lunch to take to work every day for a week (5/5)
58. Visit an outdoor market in London
59. Have a pedicure
60. Cook a ten-course meal (I have no idea what would be in a ten-course meal but why not?!)
61. Go on a picnic
62. Buy an original piece of art
63. Update my blog template
64. Make a skirt
65. Make a dress
66. Go to a classical music concert
67. Do a furniture makeover (find a piece of old furniture, make it over and document it)
68. Buy a Diane von Furstenberg dress
69. Buy a vintage dress
70. Donate something to freecycle, or a charity shop, once a month, on average
71. Make sourdough bread
72. Make some reusable shopping bags to fit in my handbag I screenprinted some bags a couple of weeks ago
73. Visit five countries (4/5) - USA, South Africa, Mauritius and Dubai
74. Write a letter to myself to be opened on my 35th birthday 
75. Find a photo of myself that I like and frame it
76. Make a cake for Ben's 36th birthday
77. Have a session with a personal shopper I did this a few weeks ago and great fun it was too.
78. Learn about a historical period
79. Read 10 biographies/non-fiction books (1/10)
80. Have a boudoir photo session
81. Make something from each of my craft books- donate to charity any books I don't make anything from
82. Finish working through the book, “ The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to be the Artist You Truly Are”
83. At least once a month, go to sleep without reading first
84. Buy new glasses
85. Go to New York again (with Ben)
86. Re-stock etsy shop
87. Write 10 letters to loved ones
88. Get my hair cut every 8 weeks
89. Meet an internet friend in real life
90. Eat a piece of fruit every day for a month (0/30)
91. Learn to make something in my new tagine pot
92. Make something and give it to a friend for no reason
93. Make 50 handmade presents (14/50)
94. Plant a tree
95. Have a spa day
96. Give snowboarding another try
97. Watch 20 of the Times top 100 films (1/20)
98. Read a newspaper every day for a week (0/7)
99. Learn how to use my mac (I really need to learn the shortcuts I'm so used to with Windows!)
100. Start an art journal
101. Sleep outside

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Can you handle another candle?

Is it just me or do birthdays seem to come around quicker when you're older? When I was small I remember it feeling like it was forever until the long winter and spring months turned into July and I could look forward to another candle on my birthday cake.

This year's birthday can be summed up by: David Tennant, Shakespeare, BBQ, rain (lots of), Pimm's, streamers, flowers, good friends, family, pepper salad, cards, love and fun.

And another candle. Can I handle it? Yes I think I can. 

PS - can you handle another candle? is courtesy of one of my birthday cards.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A year of achievements

Guess what? I've completed my 52 crafts in 52 weeks project - I can’t quite believe it. I came up with the idea whilst recovering from back surgery last June and I’m so proud to have completed a craft a week for a whole magnificent year.

 Another crazy idea I had a year ago was to take part in the Edinburgh Moonwalk. So I’m writing this post whilst resting my incredibly sore feet. I walked 26.2 miles through the night for breast cancer and completed it in a very respectable 7 hours. Something else to be proud of I think. I hope all this pride doesn’t result in a fall. As I can hardly walk that’s very possible.

Important crafting note: I decorated my bra with fabulous sequin fabric and tassels. The theme was Moulin Rouge so I totally had to add feathers to my hat too. Where would we crafters be without glue guns?

What has made you proud lately?

Saturday, 14 May 2011

What a difference a year makes

This time last year I was in a post-anaesthetic morphine-induced haze after surgery to fix a bulging disc and relieve the pressure on my sciatic nerve. I'm so glad I had the operation - thanks to that, a healthy diet and exercise, I've never felt better. Long may it continue.

I took this photo just over a year ago - I now have a scar just under my tattoo, the only reminder of my surgery.
What were you doing a year ago?

Monday, 2 May 2011

Blogging every day in May on 52 crafts in 52 weeks

I've joined a challenge called Blogathon 2011 to blog every day throughout May. Instead of using this blog I thought it would be more of a challenge to do it on 52 crafts in 52 weeks as I only usually post once a week. Wish me luck!

I hope you're having a lovely Bank Holiday weekend - I'm hoping to get out into the garden. It's full of these beauties...

Happy Monday x

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Wedding love

I love a good wedding, don't you? And oh how I loved the Royal Wedding. I cried (quite a lot, and I'm not ashamed to admit it), wore a tiara (seriously) and drank tea whilst soaking up every minute of it. I watched it again today - much to my husband's puzzlement but I wanted to see all my favourite bits again. And it was more poignant when you (possibly) know what they were saying to each other (loved it when William told Kate she looked beautiful). The dress was amazing, Prince William dashing, the bridesmaids and page boys adorable and the whole day flawless.

The Duchess of Cambridge

What was your favourite part of the big day?

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Sketching up a storm

I'm really loving sketching right now, and the early mornings have been particularly successful in getting lots of sketches down. The sunny bank holiday weekend helped too.

Sketching and braiding in the garden
My work desk in the springtime sun

Sketchbook pages
Experimenting with my tools

Sketchbook pages
More experimenting

Sketchbook pages
Playing with crayons and charcoal

Sketchbook pages
Pens and pencils

Poppy seed head in pencil and pen

Sketching poppy heads
And watercolour

My excitement in sketching is all down to the fabulous Sketchbook Delight class by Alisa Burke. I highly recommend it.
Happy sketching x


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