Monday, October 31, 2011

More on Monday...

Yesterday's Silent Sunday picture was one of a series of photographs I took from my mum's back garden as the sun rose on Saturday morning.

You guys know I am found of a sunset. From our house on top of the hill we have an amazing view westwards which means stunning sunsets are a regular photographic subject and have starred in a few Silent Sundays and a whole blog post of their own 

Sunrise, however, is mostly obscured by the houses that are just above us at the very top of the hill. I keep meaning to take a stroll along the road to the fields on the path overlooking the River Severn and the Cotswold Ridge to the east but I don't really do mornings.

My parents also live on the side of a hill but their view is east facing. Which means their sunrises have the potential to be as spectacular as our sunsets! I was determined that, weather permitting I would get some decent shots of the sunrise whilst I was there this weekend. And I wasn't disappointed...

"Why sleep when the day has been called up by the sun,
From the night, coz the light's gonna shine on everyone?

Why sleep when the sleep only closes up our eyes?
Why sleep when you can watch the sun rise?"
'Baby Day'   Melanie Kafka

ps I chose the 'Mist at Dawn' shot for yesterday's post because, in contrast to the explosion of colour in the rest of the shots, I loved the layers of pinky peachy mauve and grey; the splashes of pale blue sky and the little hillocks poking up out of the mist. So subtle but no less dramatic.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Forest Flower Designs at The Tube Gallery...

Occasionally I get an e-mail in my business inbox that gets me all excited (and no, I am not referring to the 'Are you looking for some flirty fun?' or 'You've won $1million' ones...).  Back in September I had one from The Tube Gallery in Woodstock requesting some of my new 'Rustic Country Collection' for an exhibition they were running from mid-October all the way through to the New Year. Entitled 'Wonderland' it is an 'electic mix of all that is wonderful and covetable'. (You can see a selection of photographs of the exhibition on their Facebook page)

It was by far the largest order I have had to date and entailed quite a few late nights to get the stock finished in time...
My new Forest Flower Designs tags...

Every item has to be tagged...

A basket full of love :-)

Everything is wrapped up in tissue before parcelling up...

...ready to go!

That was 2 weeks ago...

Today I had another email with a couple of pictures attached showing my collection beautifully displayed in the gallery for everyone to see (and hopefully buy!).

Birds in flight... don't they look cute?

...and the hearts look gorgeous in this vintage suitcase!

It's so nice when someone else sees your creation and shares your vision!
Thank you to Clare at The Tube Gallery for this great opportunity to show Forest Flower Designs to a new audience!

And that's not all... 

I have been working very hard on my brand new website this past week or so. It's nearly ready. The official launch is Sunday 30th October so pop back for a link and a very special, limited time offer to celebrate!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Project Bed (or 'How to be a flat-pack queen')

Little Man is growing up. Fast. His lovely cot bed that has served so well for the past three and a half years has become noticeably 'too small' over the past couple of months. So it was time to get 'A New Bed'.
His room is tiny (lets be honest - all the rooms in our house are tiny!) so we needed something that would make the most of the space without being too overpowering. And we had to bear in mind that he is only three so I didn't want to get anything too high off the floor...
We found this brilliant raised bed frame in Argos - lovely antique stained (not shiny varnish, thank goodness) solid pine. No cupboards underneath, just under a meter off the floor so plenty of room underneath for toy storage and play! Simple, basic and not too expensive (for bonus Brownie points!).

It arrived, in a deceptively small box just after lunchtime. I didn't have to put it together myself. I could have waited till the Other Half was here all day on Sunday. But, you know, I get impatient about stuff like this...

And, besides, I am the Queen of Flat-Pack!!

First things first - dismantle the old cot bed...

This lovely cot bed was second hand from the Newent Association for the Disabled charity shop. It was missing a couple of bolts (but a friend in a fabricators sorted that for us) but otherwise fine. It will be going to my brother and his wife for their new tot due in December...

It was a darn sight easier to take apart than it was to put together, I can tell you (sorry R&M but you are going to have fun getting it back together again ;-) )

Won't be needing this anymore either. Little Man says it's for baby beds not big boy beds! Oh, he is growing up so fast *sniff*

Rule no 1 - when tackling flat pack furniture - ALWAYS READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!
This is where most men fail dismally.

Rule no 2 - assemble a decent tool kit... this is where I fail dismally...
Luckily all we needed was a a screwdriver and a hammer.

 Now to put it all together.  I am always happy to accept help when it is offered...

The bed ends are done (that really was the easy bit!) now to join them together. To be honest, I could have done with a helper who was a little less easily distracted by toys at this point!

I think we were about 2 hours in to the build and it was nearly time to break for tea. But not before the ladder was put in place...

After tea it was on to the important bit - adding the bed slats. Properly spaced out. Using a ruler and everything just like the instructions specified (yeah, right...) whilst at the same time getting the Little Man in the bath and having to move everything out of the way to get to the pj drawer...

As you can see it is dark now - and actually Little Man's bedtime. As you can probably imagine, he wasn't complaining too much about staying up a bit later than usual...

Mattress on. Duvet and pillows in place. One happy not-so-Little Man- anymore in his big boy's bed!
It took five and a half hours, gave me very sore hands (who ever thought allen keys were a good idea?) and pushed bedtime back a whole hour (woah) but I did it. All by myself (more or less).
I am the Flat Pack Queen!

Today brings Project Bed Phase 2 - tidying and sorting toys/books/clothes and other furniture in the room and creating a den under the bed. Will let you know how it goes...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Moshi Monsters Clay Buddies review

Just in time for the half-term holidays, Emax have released the uber-collectible Moshi Monster Clay Buddies. Combining traditional arts-and-crafts creative play with the super-cool Moshi Monster characters, the pocket-money priced Clay Buddies foil packs contain everything you need to create your very own Moshling figurine:- colourful plasticine, Moshi features cards and adoption book with information about your Moshling and instructions on how to put it together.

Little Man couldn't wait to get stuck in...

We were sent two Clay Buddies packs - some are more complicated to make than others so the Little Man made the Luvli....

The plasticine supplied was really soft and it was easy to mix the colours together as required.

Making the base.

Adding the pre-cut cardboard features was easy, using the little velcro tabs supplied... 

...although Little Man got a bit carried away with customising his Moshling!

Rather chuffed with my Diavlo (I am just a big kid at heart!)
but Little Man decided to pull his apart and have another go! 

Moshi Monsters Clay Buddies are great fun to play with and kept Little Man amused for a good while. I can see how slightly older kids would have great fun making them and building up a collection!

Moshi Monsters Clay Buddies are available from ToysRUs, The Entertainer, Smyths, Next and Hobbycraft with an RRP of £2.99 each. A special Moshi Monsters Clay Buddies box set with materials to make 4 Moshlings and a cardboard backdrop for imaginative play is also available (RRP £5.99)
A website is due to be launched for you to upload images of your creations and they have their own Facebook page too!

We were sent 2 Moshi Monster Clay Buddies play with (review) but recieved no payment for this post.
All words and pictures are my own.

#SilentSunday 16/10/11

Friday, October 14, 2011

The day we met The Bopps...

You gotta love Twitter - I have made some lovely acquaintances, and a few good friends; kept up with some old friends and hob-nobbed with the stars, whilst in my pj's! Recently I found @KeithBopp, one half of NickJr musical duo The Bopps and, being the friendly sort of chap he is, we chatted about random stuff (mainly cake) for a bit before working out that we acually only live a few miles apart! And that Bopp Towers - The Bopps HQ was literally only a half hour bus ride away...

And then Keith invited me and the Little Man along to visit. Well it would have been rude not to!

It was easy enough to locate - it's across the road from the old building where I worked at my first proper job (between bands!) as a solicitors receptionist. An unassuming building, with no clue to the silliness that goes on within!
Keith let us in with a big beaming smile and I could see the Little Man was a little bit confused - where were the pink braces? The stripey t-shirt? It was KB but not as he knew him... Then he heard Stan's voice from the office down the corridor and giggled. We were in Bopp Towers!!

After a bit of chat and some cake (my lemon curd cake was, after all, the main reason I was invited ;-) ) the lads very kindly 'Bopped up', reappearing in full Bopp costume much to the Little Man's delight!!

be afraid....
high five!
it's a geeeeetar!

Honorary Bopp for a moment...
"I like that song...and that one...and..."

Then we got a tour of Bopp Towers including the studios where the Little Man got excited over the computers while I drooled over the mixing desk...

 This is where a lot of voice over work for various childrens TV shows is done. We also visited the post -production room and the most important room of the building - the table football room.

And I saw the squirrel suit. That's right, THE squirrel suit. I had to resist the urge to try it on.

Original models from the 'Little Red Tractor' series created for CBeebies
While Keith told me a little about the post production work they do here, the Little Man got up to mischief with Stan, giving him a crash course in the 'create' section of Nick Jr website - there was a lot of giggling going on...

Too soon it was time for us to go so Stan and Keith could get on with planning their live show (like the hard working couple of chaps they are ;-) )

Thank you to Keith and Stan Bopp for making us feel so welcome and for entertaining the Little Man and really making his day special. He has been enthusiastically telling everyone who would listen all about the fun he had at Bopp Towers!

He has also been enthsiastically listening to The Bopps cd. Over and over again. I now know ALL the words...

The Bopps are on NickJr at 7:35am every morning and hope to be appearing live at a venue near you very soon too!! You can follow KeithBopp on Twitter or join TheBopps on Facebook for news and general silliness. The Bopps also have their own website

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Forest Flower Designs gets featured...

I have been working very hard over the past few weeks, gearing Forest Flower Designs up for the Christmas craft fair season. I have my first one - billed as a Christmas shopping night - at a local village hall on the 21st October (that's less than two weeks! *gulp* ) Last year's event was very successful for me, despite a relatively small turnout so I am looking forward to this year's event... I have lots of Rustic Country Collection mini bunting garlands (more about those in another post...) hearts and birds ready to go plus some fabric covered diaries and address books, cute wallets and christmassy patchwork table runners and place mats in the making. So many more ideas but so little time...

In other news I was offered a trial run with online boutique Gift Wrapped and Gorgeous, including their full pr package which included uploading of hi-res images of my products onto Press Loft. This is where all the journalists go to source product images for magazines - monthly membership costs something in the region of £200 so to have someone do this on my behalf, for free (for a limited period) has been tremendously helpful in developing Forest Flower Designs, as you can imagine. Especially when I received an email a few weeks back to say that one of my images had been downloaded by a journalist from Living Edge!

To say I was a bit excited is possibly an understatement

Then, last week I got another email with a pdf attached of a page full of red and white loveliness!!!

Honestly I am so proud to see something I have made in print, alongside all those other gorgeous things - every one of which I would quite happily give a home to by the way!

So many thanks to Alison and Amanda at GWAG for giving me this opportunity and to Leanne who does all the pr stuff for keeping me in the loop!

I am currently building a new website using which I am really enjoying working on. It is much more geared towards the creating of a great online shopping experience for my customers and much easier to use than the MrSite package I currently have. Hoping to re-launch by the end of October and I will be posting some exclusive 'blog readers special offers' so stay tuned!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom DVD Review & Giveaway

"Somewhere hidden amongst thorny brambles is a Little Kingdom of elves and fairies. Everyone who lives here is very, very small..."

The Little Man loves Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom (although he insists on calling Holly, 'Horny' which was funny at first...) and watches this BAFTA award winning show regularly on Milkshake (Channel 5) and Nick Jr, so he was pretty excited to get stuck into this DVD when it arrived.

Ben Elf and Princess Holly get up to all sorts of adventures in the ten episodes featured here - including a trip to Santa's workshop (The Elf Factory), a search underground as everything goes missing (The Ant Hill) and on a treasure hunt with a real pirate (Redbeard the Elf Pirate)!

If your child regularly watches Ben & Holly then, sadly, there is nothing here they haven't already seen. There are no extras on the DVD although you can use the 'Magic Shuffle' option that plays the episodes in a different order (keeps 'em on their toes!) However it does run to nearly 2 hours which represents pretty good value and I find these DVD's are particularly good to take away on holiday where regular TV may not be available.

Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom : The Tooth Fairy was released to buy on October 3rd 2011 (cert U, Entertainment One RRP £12.99) but Entertainment One have very kindly supplied one copy for me to give away to one of my lucky readers!

All you have to do is tell me the name of the Pirate that features in the 'Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom: The Tooth Fairy' DVD.

For an extra entry 'Like' the Tales from Mount Pleasant Facebook page and leave a comment to tell me so!

Or if you are a tweeter tweet "I'd like to win a little magic! Ben & Holly DVD giveaway from @forestflower23" with a link to this post.

This competition is open to UK residents only and finishes at 9pm on Monday 17th October.

Good Luck everyone!

**This giveaway is now closed**

There are more Ben & Holly activites over on the Nick Jr website and they even have their own website with games, stories, clips to watch and things for your little ones to do.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Summer's final fling...

Thanks to an unexpected little block of high pressure, after a less than summery end to the Great British Summer we are now basking in what has to be the best weather we've had for months. So whilst all the magazines are touting Autumnal treats, presenting us with chunky winter woollies, tweed and boots and shops are starting to promote their Christmas deals, we are all slapping on the suncream, lighting the BBQ and filling up the paddling pool one last time.

We made the most of this good weather by taking a stroll around Soudley Ponds...

The sun is much lower in the sky at this time of year and the play of light through the leaves and across the water is very different to 'high summer'. I love it - it lends a very atmospheric, almost fairytale feel to the surroundings...

Paying attention to the undergrowth reminds us that actually it IS Autumn... (I think these ones are edible - I must go on a  'mushroom hunt' with an expert!)

The Forest of Dean is a popular tourist spot because it has all these wonderful places to visit. How lucky are we to actually live here?

...and finally, a beautiful end to a beautiful day...

Make the most of this glorious weather folks, we all know it won't last!

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