Sunday, December 30, 2012

S.H.O.P - A New Year's kind-of-Resolution

I'm not a fan of New Year's Resolutions. I think my brain just rebels at the thought of any kind of restriction being placed upon it - "thou shalt not eat chocolate hobnobs" is doomed to fail!

So instead of giving myself a list of things I must or must not do in 2013 I have a list of words to inspire! (and a neat little acronym to boot!)


One of my favourite magazines (and blogs) is The Simple Things. I love their ethos and their style. I love the emphasis on enjoying the simple things of life - good, honest home cooked food; pottering in the garden (or at the window box); learning a new skill or craft; hanging out with family and friends and taking the time to look around and appreciate what you have rather than worrying about what you haven't.

The KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle states that most systems work better if they are kept simple rather than made complex. Generally it refers to computer programs but I think the same could be said for life . . .
 "unnecessary complexity should be avoided"  

Life is complex enough without throwing all sorts of extra baggage into the mix.
If it is not essential, let it go (applies to belongings, activities and insurance policies!)


This is the biggie! How often have you done something that deep in your heart you know you didn't want to do? I'm not talking about your tax return (no-one actually WANTS to do that) How often do you say 'Yes' to because your head says it's a good idea even though your heart is crying out NO!!? How often do you purchase an item without really thinking about it where it comes from or what effect it may have on the environment or yourself? What do you know about the people who produced the item? Or the company behind it? Or if you DO have this information and it's not as ethical as you'd like, do you chose to ignore it because searching for an alternative is too much hassle?

This year I aim to listen to my heart more, let my conscience speak out and act accordingly.


I have been saying it for years, but I really need to place more importance on being organised. It makes everything run so much more smoothly! I have got myself a nice page per day diary and this year I plan to *actually* use it! (honest, guv)


It's so easy to get bogged down by bad stuff but there is always a positive in there somewhere, if you look hard enough . . .  No money? Bargain hunting is a challenge to relish!  No time? Isn't it good that you are busy?

Or as Aretha (and just about every other singer of note at some point in their career) sings...

One of the most inspirational people I have met online is the amazing ShellyBobbins. When her boy, Noah was born at the beginning of the year with numerous complications due to Spina Bifida, doctors were not hopeful that he would survive. Shelly kept us all up to date with tweets and facebook posts as little Noah defied all expectations and went from strength to strength, recently celebrating his first Christmas at home with his lovely family around him.  Shelly's positive attitude has not only kept her family going through this difficult time but also done a tremendous amount to raise awareness of Spina Bifida too! And every time she posts a picture of her gorgeous little boy smiling my heart just melts...

Simplicity. Heart. Organisation. Positivity. Those four words shall be my guidance for 2013 - I shall be looking always for the positive, attempt to keep organised, celebrate simplicity and act mindfully, allowing my decisions to be heart-led.

I my even try, for the sake of my health, to eat fewer chocolate hobnobs . . .

How about you? Do you have any New Year's Resolutions?  Do you have a keyword or a affirmation to take with you through 2013? Or do you simply not feel the need to start a new calender year with any fresh intentions?

Saturday, December 08, 2012


This year has not been easy. In fact it's been a bit of a pig.

This week I lost my beautiful cat. She was nearly 18. I knew she would be leaving us soon but it doesn't make the pain any easier to bear.

Her last days were spent curled up on her favourite furry throw on the sofa. She ate and drank very little, and only when we brought it to her. She eased herself up and outside every couple of days when nature called. She snuggled in next to me every evening and purred when I stroked her head and scratched her chin.

I was with her at her last moment. She cried a little, her head rested in my hand as she went. It was so fast and I am thankful that her suffering was only brief.

Her passing has affected me far more than I thought it would. I know the pain will ease with time but the rawness of it right now is making even the simplest of tasks feel like a mountain to overcome.

I will leave you with some beautiful words sent to me by an old friend...

"Grieve not,
nor speak of me with tears,
but laugh and talk of me
as if I were beside you...
I loved you so -----
'twas Heaven here with you."

Rest in peace, Saffy cat xx
Saffron 1995-2012

I will be taking a break from the blog until after Christmas.  
I send you all best wishes for the holiday season and the new year xx

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Back to Business...

Now the Little Man is properly settled into school and I have caught up on all the paperwork that didn't get done over the summer, I am finally getting back to my sewing and giving Forest Flower Designs the attention it has been craving all year.  Yes I let things slide a little but now I am back!!

After an absence of several months, I have re-opened my Folksy shop. I must admit I am enjoying the 'new' Folksy very much. It looks sleeker and more contemporary and from a sellers point of view, much easier to use. I really love that they have fully embraced the Pinterest phenomenon too! Just create a board of Folksy pins (with Folksy in the title so they can find it) and if you're lucky your selection may make the home page! My '50 Folksy Shades of Grey' pin board was featured last week and I had a lovely message of thanks from one of the makers on my board whose featured item sold the same day! 

I have added some of my Rustic Country collection hearts and birds this week - these were best sellers last year and are just perfect for those of you looking to create a Nordic style red and white Christmas decorating theme...

Rustic Country Collection felt birds

My favourite red felt and gingham heart was featured on the Folksy home page this week thanks to Melissa's Ceramics pinboard.

Brand new items listed are these two fab drawstring pouches - fully lined and featuring metal eyelets for the drawstring.

Skull and crossbones pouch - fill with gold doubloons for your little pirate's stocking. It can be used to carry treasure around long after the chocolate coins have been snaffled!!

Pretty fairy princess pouch - adorned with fairies, butterflies, glittery crowns and cute castles and lined with the loveliest patchwork print fabric in candy colours, your little princess will just love finding this in her stocking. Fill it with hair accessories or jewellery as well as chocolate!

I have two more designs in production (hope to list next week). One is a mermaid theme - gorgeous mermaids swimming against a back drop of turquoise blue with a fab multi coloured stylised fish scale print lining. The other is a farmyard design featuring ducks, cows, pigs, chickens and tractors! With a colourful spotty lining and a cow print drawstring channel this one is great for younger children (or wannabe farmers of any age!)

Mini bunting banners to match are also in production and I hope to list those very soon too!

I have some other products I am very excited about too (if you like my Forest Flower Designs facebook page you may have already spotted them)  I will share those with you here when I am ready!

I am also offering free post and packing throughout November to all my UK Folksy customers so there's never been a better excuse to treat yourself! 

Friday, November 09, 2012

Hello Canvas Review

I recently became a aware of a company called HelloCanvas. Set up in 2004 and now the largest web based company of it's kind in the UK, HelloCanvas specialise in turning your favourite photographs into beautiful works of art for your walls.  You just send them your digital image and they will print your photo on canvas and deliver it to you in super quick time. They can also scan a real photograph for you and print that onto canvas too so you can even transform your pre-digital memories!

A short while ago I received an email from Mark of HelloCanvas. 'Send us your best photo - one you think we can not match the quality' he wrote.

So I did . . .

The picture I chose was one from the series I took on our little stroll around Newent Lake the other week. I adore the autumn colours on this image and was keen to see how the process would cope with that level of colour. The picture was actually taken on my mobile phone (5MP camera) rather than my regular camera so it was interesting to see how well the image would cope with being blown up to 50cm x 70cm.

I couldn't be more pleased with the result!

This photo really doesn't do it justice - it looks stunning! So far the comments have ranged from 'Just...Wow!'  to 'Can I have one?'  but everyone agrees that the quality of the print is brilliant, as is the price (a canvas print this size will cost you £37 with no hidden postage and packing costs ).

The canvases are of the highest quality and printed with UV-protected inks so you know your canvas will look as good as the day the picture was taken for years to come.

But don't just take my word for it, why not try them out for yourselves? Here is an exclusive code for my lovely readers - that's you! - for an extra 5% off their already excellent prices. Just add the code LBMAR2012  at the check out.  

You can follow HelloCanvas on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with new products, competitions and special offers.

*disclosure - I received my photo canvas for free in return for this review but all words, pictures and opinions are my own!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Woven Ribbon Lavender Pillow Tutorial

Now we have Bonfire Night out of the way, I guess it's time mention the 'C' word...

Let's not get too festive and sparkly just yet (no, really, plenty of time for that NEXT month!) but those of you who aspire to a Handmade Christmas really should start thinking pressies if you haven't already.  I have about 5 half completed pressie projects on the go at the mo. I'm not panicking. Yet.

I've raided my Jane Means ribbon stash again to come up with this stylish gift idea - and it's a great way to use any lavender you may have dried in the summer!

You will need a couple of meters of your chosen ribbon - I have used these lovely polka dot grosgrain ribbons in co-ordinating turquoise and chocolate brown - a couple of small pieces of fabric and some dried lavender.

First decide on the size of your pillow and cut out two pieces of cotton fabric approx 2cm larger than you want the finished size to be. Mine measures 10cm x 8cm finished so my base fabric pieces were approx 12cm x 10cm.

If your pillow is oblong, like mine, you will need to cut shorter lengths in one colour to fit the width and longer lengths in the contrast colour.  I used 7 x 10cm lengths of the turquoise ribbon and 6 x 12cm lengths of the chocolate brown ribbon.

Now, using one of the fabric pieces as your base begin weaving your ribbon strips. You may find it easier to pin the ribbons to the fabric or tack them in place around the edges as you go

Try and keep the ribbons matched up edge-to-edge for a neat finish. It's a bit fiddly but don't worry about it too much as you have the base fabric underneath to stop and lavender escaping the finished pillow!

When all the ribbon strips are in place and secure take you other piece of fabric and lay it, face down, on top of the ribbon panel. Pin, tack and stitch all the way around, leaving an opening in the middle of one long edge to turn the pillow the right way round.

Turn, stuff with dried lavender, stitch up the gap and you're done!!

These pillows are so easy to adapt too - use wider ribbons to make larger pillows. Use up your ribbon scraps and make a lovely colourful boho inspired pillow. Use all one colour for an elegent textured look.  You'll find loads of gorgeous ribbons on Jane Means website if you need any further inspiration!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Craft Fair Conundrum...

This weekend we (that is me, the Little Man and MIL) had a table at a popular local craft fair - we tried to get into this one two years ago but was told in September that we had applied to late (for the end of November!) so last year we made sure we booked in August. Several people had told us it was a 'BIG ONE', a popular fair that was well supported and always busy.  So we hoped we would do well with our mix of my designs and my Mother in Law's hand knits plus some little gift items from her daughter's shop.  We sold nothing. At. All.

craft fair table display
Maybe it was a one-off. The weather was bright on the day but there was snow on the ground which may have kept people away. Everyone was lovely, the atmosphere was friendly, the home cooked food available from the hall kitchen was fab. But not one person wanted to take anything we had to offer home with them..

We thought we would try again this year. Beautiful weather (no snow this time), same lovely atmosphere and definitely a few more people. This year we sold a few items but once coffee and lunch was factored in we barely covered the cost of fuel...

And this, I'm afraid, seems to be the case with most craft fairs we attend. People look. People 'oooo' and 'aaaahhh' and comment how beautiful this is or how much so-and-so would love that, but people don't buy! It's enough to make me cry with frustration!! The matter is not helped by hobby crafters turning up with their hand knitted blankets they are selling for under a tenner . . .

Do people really not realise how much TIME these things take to produce, how much supplies actually cost? Or have they been so blinkered by stupidly cheap supermarket buys (mass produced in India/China by workers who get paid pennies for their work so supermarket profits on these items are far in excess of anything I would expect to make on my handmade items...)  that they simply do not truly value craftsmanship anymore?

beautiful handmade porcelain star
I spoke to one lady who produced the most gorgeous ceramic buttons - she actually apologised to someone for charging £1 per button! Everyone of her items was an individual work of art and she felt the need to justify what is, in reality, a bargain price (look at the price of buttons next time you are in Hobbycraft if you don't believe me!)  I purchased four beautiful porcelain hanging star decorations from her for £1 each and I very much doubt I will find anything so lovely in Tesco...

This is not the first fair I have done, I probably have a dozen or so under my belt now, and it probably won't be the last but I have yet to have a truly successful fair. One where I felt that the people browsing were actually there because they want to purchase unique items, hand crafted with love and skill. Maybe we need to move further afield. Maybe we need to pay more to attend 'premium' fairs. I don't know...

I don't know if the story is the same where you are? Have you ever set up a stall at craft fair and left feeling despondent? Do you worry that your craft simply isn't good enough? Or maybe you have had great success at the fairs you have attended. Maybe you go as a punter and are disappointed with the goods on offer or just go along to support your mate who has a table but rarely buy.

Let me know your thoughts on craft fairs - from either side of the table. 

It may make the difference to me and others as to whether the next fair is a successful one or the last one . . .

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Making it up as I go along...

I am a little bit proud of myself. This weekend I managed to knit a pair of gloves for the Little Man, completely to his specification WITHOUT an actual pattern to follow. That is a written, tried and tested by somebody else kind of pattern anyway...

It was definitely cold enough for gloves when we went out on Saturday but rooting through the hats/gloves/scarves box (aka Little Man's dressing up box) and could not find one pair of gloves that matched AND fitted him so he ended up with a pair of fluffy mittens which spent most of the day in his pockets not on his hands which meant he spent most of the day with cold hands!

'I want some like yours mummy' he said pointing to my wrist warmers, 'but not sparkly!'

So I let him pick some yarn. After steering him away from the lime green acrylic - there are some places I just won't go! - he chose a nice blue-grey with coloured flecks. We took the yarn home and I set to, ploughing through my patterns to find what he wanted. Nothing.  Had a look on Ravelry for free downloads and couldn't find anything there either.  So I bit the bullet, grabbed a pen and some paper and made my own pattern.

He wanted a longer cuff than normal (kids gloves are always too short at the wrist don't you think?), he wanted a thumb but he didn't want fingers. And he want the top left open, 'So I can eat sweeties without getting fluffy bits in my mouth!'  I wanted to knit them in the round using double pointed needles so there was no sewing up afterwards...

I used a basic mitten pattern as a starting point for number of stitches to cast on and also for shaping the thumb gusset but after that I kind of made it up as I went along (writing it down so the other glove would match of course!)

I can't begin to tell you how satisfying it was once they were finished (in one day too!) and Little Man put them on, then didn't want to take them off!  He proudly showed them off to his teachers when he went back to school yesterday.

And now I am proudly showing them off to you!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Autumn Glory

I don't know what the weather was like your way over the weekend but on Saturday we were treated to the most glorious sunshiney day that was a welcome respite to the damp gloominess that has greeted us each morning for the past week or so.

We went over to Newent for the day and had a lovely time hanging out at the Shambles, taking a stroll round the lake, feeding the ducks and having a mooch round the charity shops.

The trees around the lake were looking pretty spectacular, the fiery colours enhanced by the clearest, brightest blue sky you could wish for...

 Fiery orange and crisp turquoise - the best colour combos can be found in nature!  (OK so this pic has been *slightly* enhanced. But only coz the camera on my phone simply couldn't cope with the dazzling colours!)

My favourite picture of the day. I love the way the light filters through the tree canopy and the path disappears over the ridge inviting you to follow...

We had a lovely time exploring the little tracks that wind around the lake - for a park that is sandwiched between two housing estates, the town centre and the main road to Gloucester it was remarkably peaceful and really felt like we were in the middle of the forest!


 Later on I stocked up on some lovely charcoal grey aran yarn to make a cosy cabled patchwork blanket I have been wanting to knit for several years. It will be a project for next year - or maybe something to start in the Christmas holidays once I have all the present making out of the way  (more on that in another blog ) 

And what was waiting on the door mat when we got home?

The perfect ending to a perfect Saturday!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Veggie Box Meals - A Friday night curry

We are starting to get into the routine of school here now, although we still haven't quite got the hang of the morning bit yet and it usually involves a bit of shouting at each other 2 minutes before we have to leave!

One big change I have noticed is that the Little Man's appetite seems to have really perked up and plates are being cleared every night instead of just when it's cheesy pasta for tea . . .  I put it down to all the extra fresh air and having opportunities to use his brain more!  I'm not complaining. It's nice to know that my cooking efforts are not wasted, and unlike his Daddy, who would happily live on beans on toast and pizza forever more, Little Man is happy to give my veggie box recipes a try.

This scrummy curry went down a treat!

Veggie Box Curry

One large onion, chopped finely
One large potato, diced
A couple of carrots, sliced
Diced flesh of small squash
One small cauliflower chopped into bite size florets
A tin of chick peas, drained
A carton of passata (sieved tomatoes) or a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes
Some curry paste (I used Balti paste but Rogan Josh works well too)
Veg stock cube or 2 tsp Marigold Vegetable Bouillon

A big pan with a lid to cook it in!

Fry the onion in a little vegetable oil until it soft and golden, then add the potato and carrot and stir in some curry paste - add as much or as little as you like. I used a generous tbsp - enough to provide some spicy flavour but not so much to put the Little Man off!

Add the passata/tomatoes. Give it a good stir then add the cauliflower florets, squash and chick peas.

Crumble in the veg stock cube and add a little water to loosen up the mixture then put on the lid and leave to simmer for half an hour (or until all the veg is tender) stirring occasionally and adding extra water if needed.

Serve with rice (a plain version of the baked Gourmet Rice recipe here works well - just use chopped onion and some pilau rice seasoning with the rice) or naan bread.  For a milder version add some natural yoghurt to the curry just before serving, or put a pot on the table for those who want to add it themselves!

Little Man tucking in to (cold) photoshoot curry... it's THAT good ;-)

As it's just the two of us eating this it went a LOOOOOONG way - a tub in the fridge for later in the week and a two servings in the freezer for those days when I just don't want to cook. It's a great way to make the most of your veggie box as you can add just about anything - sweetcorn, beans, peas and greens could all go in quite happily. You could use fresh tomatoes (skinned and chopped) , sliced courgettes, mushrooms and peppers too - just remember some vegetables don't need to cook as long as others!

I am adding this recipe along with others as I find them to my Pinterest board 'Veggie Box Recipes'. This week I got some surprise broad beans in the box so I have been searching for some 'not-too-summery' recipes to use those in - I love them double podded with pesto and pasta and a bit of Parmesan cheese, but it's always nice to find a new way of eating a favourite food!

Why not have a look, for some Veggie recipe inspiration (although not necessarily Vegetarian, I hasten to add!)? I would love it if anyone wanted to join in pinning their own veggie box recipes - just give me a shout and I will add you as a pinner for that board! 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Veggie Box Meal Planning...

Last week I took delivery of my first organic fruit and veg box from our local box scheme Four Seasons Foods.  I have used their excellent service in the past and have decided to go back after a break of over a year.

Why? Mainly because I am feeling it is more and more important to support small local businesses in these increasingly difficult times. Supermarket fruit and veg prices are only going to go up and we have no local greengrocer, only Co-op (probably one of the most expensive supermarkets) to shop from locally. Although I get my main food shop online I am reluctant to allow a 'picker' to chose my fresh fruit and veg for me and every time I have done I am invariably disappointed with the quality.
Organic produce boxes are about as fresh as fruit and veg can get (apart from harvesting them from your own back garden) and I have the satisfaction of knowing that this food didn't travel halfway around the world to reach my plate.

And besides, who could not be inspired by this box full of loveliness?

This week we had potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, red pepper, cauliflower, two cobs of sweetcorn, a Patti Pan squash, a big bag of salad leaves (including lots of my favourite peppery rocket), apples, oranges and a bunch of the sweetest black grapes I have ever tasted!  Four Seasons grow much of their produce themselves while the rest is sourced from farms and growers locally. Some of the fruit may come from a little further afield but they promise that none of the produce is air-freighted.

My challenge each week is to plan our meals around these boxes, ensuring that none of this lovely produce goes to waste! I hope to share some of these meal ideas with you on this blog and would love to hear ideas and recipes from those of you who also use a veggie box service!

So far this week we have had carrot and lentil soup, cauliflower cheese and lots of salad. I am still hunting down good stuffed squash recipes so the patti pan doesn't go to waste (although I am told it can be used as a courgette substitute). The recipe I would like to share with you this week comes from the good old BBC Good Food website - Easy Oven Frittata. It is a perfect veggie box supper! 

chopped veggies - use whatever you got!

The recipe calls for leeks, peas, pepper and sweetcorn but is easily adaptable. I added some sliced runner beans to mine and used corn sliced off a cob rather than the tinned in the recipe.
After reading the comments, I also used 100g of pasta rather than the 85g recommended, used a little more Cheddar as we have no Parmesan and mixed Italian herbs rather than lemon thyme.

Oven baked Frittata on the plate

I confess I was a bit dubious about the eggy pasta bake idea but it worked really well and tasted just as good cold for lunch the next day. Add a large salad and maybe some crusty bread and it will easily feed a family of four and get them well on their way to five a day.

This is definitely a veggie box recipe I shall be using again - you really could use any vegetables you have around. Grated carrot and courgette, broccoli, peas and spinach would all work well and the egg and cheese mix makes it a more substantial meal than just veg and pasta.

Are you a member of a veg box scheme? Most areas have their own local scheme, many of which deliver for free, but there are also a few national box schemes that deliver all over the country.
I would love to hear any recipes you may have tried. If you are on Pinterest why not check out my board 'Veggie Box Recipes' for ideas and inspiration? And if you want to add your own pins to the board give me a shout and I will add you as a pinner.

If you live in the Forest of Dean/Wye Valley area and would like to try a veggie box for yourself give Four Seasons Foods a shout. Visit their website for contact info or tweet them @4SeasonsFoods

Monday, September 24, 2012

Growing up . . .

I haven't blogged properly for a while. Computer problems have been part of it. Minor loss of blogging mojo (it happens) has also played a part. But the main reason, for which I make no apology, is that I have been trying to cram in as much time with the Little Man as possible before he started school...

On sunny days we have gone for walks in the woods or over to Nonny's house or just hung out in the garden tending our teeny veggie plot. On rainy days (there have been many!) we baked, got the craft box out or just snuggled on the sofa, watching movies.
There have been a couple of family BBQ's when he has stayed up late, running around the garden until the light faded.
We even convinced Daddy to close the shop for a couple of days and went on holiday to Devon, having a great time splashing about in the sea, clambering over rocks and into caves, investigating rock pools and eating ice cream on the beach.

I would be lying if I said there weren't times this summer when I wished for some time to myself, some peace, an opportunity to tidy up and for it to STAY tidy for more than five minutes. There have been days when he has driven me almost to distraction, days when his behaviour has been 'challenging' (to put it mildly) and he has spent more time in his room for 'time-out' than he has downstairs. Some days I just felt over whelmed by his constant demands for my attention - from bouncy 6am starts to when he finally dropped off to sleep between 8 and 9pm (damn those long, light summer days . . . )
Some days his stubbornness really got to me - can't imagine *where* he gets it from - and I had to remind myself just who was the adult here.

But it's all par for the course and now the era of 24/7 mummy/baby time is over. He's growing up. It's time to hand over a portion of responsibility for his education, both academic and social - to other people. I will no longer be completely in control of who and what he is exposed to. It feels like I am letting him out into the big bad world on his own and I worry a little about whether he is ready.

To be honest, it's probably me that is not quite ready . . .

On Monday afternoon I waved goodbye as he and the other newbies were led into their new classroom for the first time. He stands a good couple of inches taller than the others, despite being one of the youngest there, and looked so grown up in his gray and navy blue uniform. He had been so excited in the weeks leading up to this day, and that morning he could barely contain himself, asking for lunch at 9:30am because he knew he was going to school after lunch! Watching him walk across the playground I could see his mixed emotions playing across his face. He was happy and excited, yes, but I could also see a little apprehension as he entered this new environment full of people he didn't know. Just before he went round the corner and out of view, he turned, smiled and waved and I knew he was gonna be just fine . . .

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ribbon scraps and gravy tubs...

Here's a quick and easy way to use up those ribbon scraps, recycle empty gravy granule tubs and organise your desk/craft space all in one go.

Measure around your chosen pot/canister/tub and cut lengths of ribbon just slightly longer (to allow for an overlap). Attach the ribbons to the container using narrow double sided sticky tape for an almost instant  makeover! You can use fabric glue if you prefer but you need to allow a little extra time for the glue to dry.

And that is it! I told you it was easy!

Keep hold of the lids and use your pretty decorated tubs to store craft supplies - buttons, ribbons, beads - or they make a lovely addition to your desk for paperclips or rubber bands. Without the lids they make great pen pots!

I used a gorgeous selection of ribbons in autumnal colours from my Jane Means ribbon stash for this stripy  pencil pot.

Alternatively wrap the canister in a lovely piece of fabric and glue in place. Add coordinating ribbon to the top and bottom to cover the fabric edges.

Chocolate brown and burnt orange Jane Means ribbon coordinates beautifully with this lush Saffron Craig owl print fabric. The taller canister lends itself beautifully to showing off this collection of wooden knitting needles! (my mums . . . although I may just *forget* to give them back!)

I think they look great and they are really are so easy peasy to do I may end up with ribbon covered storage pots all over the house.
I wonder if the Other Half would like one for his spanners . . .

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nano Speed Super Vert Crash Set Review

Little Man has been eyeing up the Nano Speed cars for a while so when the Nano Speed Super Vert Playset turned up at Mount Pleasant for him us to review . . .  well I think his face says it all!

The teeny Nano Speed cars work by a simple pull-back mechanism and boast an "insane power to weight ratio . . . capable of defying gravity and pulling off stunts never done before"  What this means basically is that they are *very* small and *very* fast. Frustratingly we found, more often than not, that they flipped over when released but when they DID work properly, they really went for it!

Setting the play set up was easy enough - all the track pieces are numbered and the instructions are simple diagrams that are easy to follow. The set requires 2 'D' size batteries (BIG chunky round ones) which we didn't have in the house but that didn't stop the Little Man enjoying himself immensely, customising his set by plastering it with the cool graffiti stickers provided.

Once the battery situation was sorted and the motorised launcher was working we were able to see the play set in action. The super charger/launcher is annoyingly noisy but the effect is quite stunning and the Little Man actually squealed with delight as the Nano Cars shot round the track at turbo speed ( apparently as fast as 1500mph scaled speed *oh really?* )

It's a shame the cars didn't actually stay on the track for more than a couple of circuits and we have yet to get two going simultaneously and therefore get the 'crash' effect but maybe I am just being picky!

Little Man soon discovered that disconnecting the track and using the speed launcher to fire the Nano cars across the room was MUCH more fun!

Little Man says - "It was fun. I liked putting the stickers on.
 I like the tiny little cars and they go very fast. It was cool.
 I didn't like them falling off all the time"

Overall the Nano Speed Super Vert Playset was great fun to play with - although maybe better suited to an older child. The cars can be bought separately (which is good as they really are small and will probably be lost/stood on fairly quickly . . . ) and are intended to be 'collected'. I feel that, at £34.99 (rrp) the playset is a little expensive but, let's be honest, if you can't find it cheaper you really aren't trying hard enough!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Luxury Handmade Chocolates giveaway!

 For most of us there are only two weeks of Summer Holidays left *listens for collective sigh of relief*

Lets be honest it's not been a brilliant summer - opportunities to let the kiddies run riot outside have been few and far between which means there has been lots of running riot *inside*. I don't know about you but some much needed 'mummy pampering' is needed, and what better way to do this but with some luxury handmade chocolates?

Chocolate by Genevie is a brand new website selling exquisitely packaged handmade chocolates delivered free (within the UK) to your door. A family run business, Chocolate by Genevie pride themselves in using only the finest ingredients to produce their gorgeous range of luxury chocolates. You won't find these chocolates anywhere else either - they are only available exclusively through their website.

Genevie sent me a small selection of her lovely chocs to try and I can confirm that they are, indeed, delicious. I particularly enjoyed the dark chocolate orange praline with it's little candied orange slice decoration.

Genevie has also, very generously offered to send one of my readers a lovely box of chocolates to try too!  This tasty selection of handmade chocolates retails at £36.99 and comes beautifully presented in a red silk covered, heart shaped box finished off with a luxury bow.

 This box would make a lovely gift but don't feel guilty about treating yourself. It's been a long six weeks. You deserve it ;-)

Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget to enter. You must leave a comment on the blog (that is mandatory) All the other options give you an extra entry each but are entirely optional.

The competition ends on Wednesday 29th August - winner will be announced on Twitter and Facebook and notified by email on Friday 31st August. 

Good Luck! xx

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ps. Have you left a comment on this post? Your entry will not be valid without a comment left below!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's the Little Things #3 Sunshine on a Rainy Day

After yet another dull, grey rainy day the sun finally makes a brief appearance . . .

Five minutes later it was grey again.

 But, you know, sometimes five minutes is all you need. . .

Monday, August 13, 2012

A day out to the Zoo!

Last week me and the Little Man spent a few days at my parents house eating well, playing in the garden (yes, the sun appeared!!!!) going for walks along the canal and generally just taking a break from the routine. My dad has mentioned before how much he would like to take the Little Man to the zoo but, to be honest, I didn't feel he was really ready to appreciate it fully until this summer. So we took one day out of our break to head across the Severn Bridge and visit Bristol Zoo Gardens.

We arrived at about 10.45 to see the car parks were full and queue about half a mile long at the entrance! Luckily for us we were travelling with my mum and her wheelchair so we were able to get a special parking spot close to the entrance and, because we had pre-booked our tickets online we avoided the queue too! (plus you get an extra 10% discount so it's well worth remembering!)

The Gardens are beautifully laid out and we were blessed with lovely weather which made the whole experience much more pleasurable!  Yes, it was busy, but we expected it to be. There was more than enough space for everyone to enjoy their picnics and, with the exception of the nocturnal house which was dark (well, duh!) and humid and quite frankly I couldn't wait to get out, nowhere was over crowded and manoeuvring a wheel chair around the place was pretty easy too.

Food and drink available to buy on site (from cafe/restaurants/booths and vending machines dotted about the place) was over-priced, as you would expect, but take a picnic along and this is, overall a pretty cheap family day out. And it's educational too!!  Just be aware that you have to walk through the gift shop to get out and if you are watching the pennies then put blinkers on the kids as you walk through or I guarantee you will be going home with a collection of cuddly meerkats and plastic dinosaurs!

Here a few of my favourite pictures from the day. . .   Enjoy x

snoozin' is what us Lions do best!

Dinosaurs roam free at Bristol Zoo!

T-Rex (scarily huge)

the seals were mostly asleep...

but they still managed to captivate the Little Man

beautiful Silver back Gorilla had his 'I've just woken up' face on...
even the meerkats were trying to nap!

...although there is always one left outside, keeping watch

butterflies feeding - these were about the size of my hand!

LM with Alfred - one of Bristol Zoo's first, and most famous, Gorillas

gorgeous snuggly ring tailed Lemur. Also napping. Hmmm.....

Please visit the 'Bristol Zoo Gardens' photo album on the Tales from Mount Pleasant Facebook page for loads more gorgeous pictures of the zoo's inhabitants. Some of them are even awake!!! ;-) 
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