Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Everything always needs charging

Before we go to bed, we make sure that all the tablets (currently three in active use) and our two phones are plugged in to charge ready for the morning. It's as much a part of the bedtime routine as brushing teeth and turning out the light. We have many chargers throughout the house, and two in each car. 

It's not just the phones that need to be kept topped up. I tried to make a list of how many things we have in the house that need to be kept charged and there are so many. There's my Fitbit - it can last for a week without being charged which is really handy, but I'm always loathe to take it off to charge as I don't want to miss counting any precious steps.

Then there's my Kindle, fortunately this can go for several weeks without a charge, but I like to keep it topped up in case I fancy a long reading session.

In addition there are all the toothbrushes - we each have an electric toothbrush now. The children have one with an app on the tablet and a little character to earn rewards for, I've only had mine since Christmas and there's been a noticeable improvement in the cleanliness of my teeth. But the children's toothbrushes don't have a low battery indicator, so I can't keep track and remember which one I've just put on to charge. This has led to Mia having hysterics at bedtime in the past because she's had a message on her tablet to say that the battery is running low.

I found two old digital cameras the other day which I passed on to the children, and they were delighted. The trouble is that they need charging before they can be used and I always forget, meaning that some planning is required before use, they can't just be pulled out spontaneously.

All these things need so many different cables that are lying about all over the place in every room, getting tangled up and generally adding to the visual clutter. My husband assures me that it's not long before we'll have some kind of mats that will charge devices without the need for tangled cables everywhere. Just the other day he was showing me some new magic Ikea wireless charging pads that look very good, even if they do require you to bore massive holes into your furniture to fit them in nicely. 

It's one piece of technology that I can't wait for!

Person charging a phone with dead battery

Image credit rawpixel.com via Unsplash.

Monday, 18 September 2017

A knitted scarf with pom poms

I was recently contacted by Love Crochet and asked if I'd like to receive some yarn in exchange for sharing a craft tutorial on my blog. Of course I said yes, I find it very difficult to turn down craft supplies! So here's how I used the yarn to make a little knitted scarf for Mia, complete with pom poms on each end.

How to knit a pom pom scarf for a child

I was sent four 100g balls of Painbox Yarns in pastel colours. The four colours are 146 Dusty Lilac, 152 Ballet Pink, 138 Sky Blue and 131 Seafoam Blue. They all co-ordinate beautifully together.

Painbox yarns in pastel

To make the scarf I decided to use two strands of yarn at a time and I knitted with 5 mm needles (UK size 6). I cast on with 16 stitches which made a scarf with a width of about 10cm. It makes quite a narrow scarf, but Mia is only little so it fits her perfectly!

Painbox yarns in pastel

The scarf is knitted entirely in garter stitch, knitting every row. Each stripe is 12 rows which makes them about 4 cm wide. The entire scarf measures about 115 cm - I read that the length of a scarf should be the same as the height of the person that it is intended for and that seemed pretty accurate. I made sure to try it out on Mia before I cast off!

How to knit a simple scarf

Then I used the yarn to make a coloured pom pom for each corner of the scarf. I used a pom pom maker which was brilliant, it made the pom poms really quickly and easily, quite a revelation after I've always faffed about with cardboard rings!

How to knit a simple scarf

Make sure to leave long tails on the pom poms when you tie them off so that they can be sewn firmly to the ends of the scarf. I suspect that they are going to be fiddled with!

How to knit a simple scarf

I'm really pleased with this scarf and Mia is too!

Child wearing a hand knitted pom pom scarf

How to knit a simple scarf

I received the yarn for this project and a pom pom maker set in exchange for a review.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Crafty ways to get organised

If you read this blog you will probably have noticed that I love crafting and yet I also yearn for an organised, minimalistic home, two things that are a bit at odds with each other. Being a crafter involves gathering and storing a stash of different supplies, as you never know what might come in handy one day, especially if you flit between different crafts like I do. Then you are left with the dilemma of what to do with the finished product - there is only so much wall space in the home for cross stitch samplers and embroidery hoop art.

So it's always good when I can find something to craft that is useful as well as being decorative, and I thought that today I'd share some of my crafty projects from around the home that help me to stay organised.

Crafty ways to get organised in the home

First up is this week to view patterned wall calendar. I can't quite believe just how much this has helped me with day to day organisation. Every Sunday I open up our shared Google calendar and write down the things that we are up to that week. Some come around each week, like swimming and piano lessons, others are specific to that week. I can write on the glass with a dry erase pen and then easily rub it out the next week. It was so easy to make with just a picture frame and some patterned paper.

Week to view dry erase calendar

Also in the kitchen, it's really useful to have a noticeboard where I can store the little bits of paper that accumulate in the house - letters from school, party invitations and so on. I shared how I made this padded fabric and ribbon pinboard using some lovely blue and white fabric with matching ribbon. It's really handy and looks lovely too!

Padded fabric and ribbon pinboard

I love the little wooden Ikea drawers for storing small craft supplies, but they are quite plain to look at. I used some paint and patterned paper to upcycle the Ikea wooden drawers, and I was really pleased with how they turned out. They've help up well to plenty of opening and closing and they still look really smart.

Upcycled Ikea wooden drawers with paint and patterned paper

Finally, to keep myself organised I have lots of notebooks. Lots of my organising is done electronically, but nothing beats writing something down with a pen and paper, it just seems so much more solid! I used to decorate my notebooks back when I was at school, and the children and I recently used some Posca pens to decorate some black notebooks which was really effective.

How do you keep yourself organised?

Thursday, 14 September 2017

The names I didn't choose for my children

I was reading something the other day about the meaning of names and why people had chosen them for their children, and it got me thinking.

I'll start by saying that I'm very happy with the names that we chose for our children. I had Harry's name in mind before we were even pregnant. I wouldn't say that he's named after Harry Potter, but I probably wouldn't have thought of the name if it wasn't for Harry Potter! However I'm honestly not sure where the name Mia came from, I can't remember any book or film that would have put the name in my mind, but fortunately it's one that we both like!

But each of my children does have an alternative name that I probably would have chosen first if I had a different surname. I've always really liked the name Jack for a boy, again I'm not sure where it comes from, but Jack Jain just didn't sound right to me (I'm not very sure about Jennifer Jain to be honest, but I'm stuck with it now!) so I reluctantly put it to one side.

As for a girl, well I really like the name Daisy. But again, when you put it with out surname it doesn't really go. Actually I think it does, but I'm not sure that we could have lumbered a girl with the name Daisy Jain also known as daisy chain. We had the name Mia picked out first time round, and when we found out it was a girl second time around I did suggest calling her another name that I really like - Sophie - but we decided to use that as her middle name instead. I liked the idea of using Elizabeth for her middle name, which is mine and I think it goes really well, but Ram wasn't keen!

If I ever become paranoid about sharing their names on this blog and social media I may well change them to their alternative names so at least I get to use them!

Did you have alternative names for your children? Are you happy with the ones that you settled on?

Mum with her children

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Miniature Halloween knitting for the dolls house

Today I have a guest post from my sister Anna. She's sharing some of the gorgeous miniature knitted items that she has made with a Halloween theme, great for adding a seasonal touch to your dolls house!

You can purchase the knitting patterns for these items in Anna's Etsy shop here - Halloween Knitting Patterns for Pukifee and Lati Yellow


Miniature knitting patterns for Halloween - Pukifee and Lati Yellow dolls

Jen has very kindly invited me to talk about my Hallowe’en knitting pattern book! It’s one of five knitting pattern books I’ve written for 1:12 scale ball-jointed dolls, especially Pukifee and Lati Yellow. I love these dolls, they are so cute, and it’s easier than it looks to knit clothes for them. All my patterns are designed so that they can be made by any intermediate (or adventurous beginner) knitter.

Because these dolls are the same size as dolls house dolls (other than their heads) a lot of the patterns in this book and my others can be used for other dolls, or for decoration. Also of course you don’t need to make them so tiny – using thicker yarn and bigger needles will make bigger items.

My personal favourite in this collection is the little pumpkin – at the smallest size it is very cute, and you can make it using any yarn and appropriate-sized needles, to make pumpkins in any size you wish for decoration this Hallowe’en!


Miniature knitting patterns for Halloween - Pukifee and Lati Yellow dolls

The pumpkin hat has also been very popular, especially in my shop where I also sometimes sell finished items.

Miniature knitting patterns for Halloween - Pukifee and Lati Yellow dolls

There are also patterns for a witch’s hat, witch’s cloak and a trick-or-treat bag in the shape of a little cat. Knitting miniature items can be a lot of fun – a bit fiddly but as they are so small they are quick to finish and you can outfit your whole dolls house with tiny jumpers in no time.

So why not give it a try!

Anna's Etsy shop is here - beepbeep - where you can find the Halloween Knitting Patterns book along with other books of knitting patterns and more gorgeous crafty things.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Playing the #minsgame again

I first took part in the Minimalism Game back in February 2015 (I wrote about the #minsgame here). If you're not familiar with it, the Minimalism Game was invented by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus - known collectively as The Minimalists - and is a method of decluttering your home. On the first day of the month you get rid of one item, on the second two, and so on until the end of the month. At the end of the month you should have made a huge dent in the number of things in your home - if I've worked it out correctly September should see me remove 465 items.

This decluttering method is very different to the Marie Kondo method, which I've also used before. But my clutter problem really is a continuous one, there's a steady flow of things coming in to the house, and I don't want it to pile up. So I find that taking part in the Minimalism Game fairly regularly (I think I've done it about four times now) is a good way to keep things in check.

I do bend the rules slightly. You are supposed to take part in the game with a friend or two, but after the first time, when I was invited to take part in a group, I've been playing it on my own.

Also, officially you are supposed to have everything from that day leave the house the same day, but that's not practical for me. Most of my items go to the charity shop, and I can't pop there every day with just a few bits and pieces. So I have an area in my wardrobe with different bags - charity shop items, charity bag things (for the scruffier clothing that is collected door to door) and things to pass on to others (after having checked that they actually want them!) There's also a small box for things to sell on eBay, I don't really like doing it but I have made some money that way. When one bag is full I take it where it needs to go.

Bags of clutter in a wardrobe

I also stack things up in advance which I'm sure is frowned upon. But especially as the days go on I can struggle to find the time to declutter that many things at once. I keep a list on my phone so I can keep track, and the end result will be the same!

I find it a really motivating way to declutter. It suits my enjoyment in making lists, ticking things off, and having a goal to work towards. It also forces me to make decisions about things that otherwise I might have overlooked or procrastinated on. For example we have a room at the top of the house that had developed quite a pile behind the door of old boxes and packaging materials, far more than we will ever use, now it's lovely and clear!

I started with the craft cupboard which was very successful - I found over 40 paintbrushes and 15 pipettes, which have now been culled to a more reasonable number! I'm also tackling Mia's bookcase and passing on some of the picture and board books, she's much more interested in books about fairies and puppies now. Next up I'm going to be re-visiting my own bookshelves, and having a go at toiletries.

Have you every played the Minimalism Game? Or have I inspired you to give it a go? I'd love to hear your experiences!

Monday, 11 September 2017

September - Lately I've been...

I'm a bit late with my update this month - after sorting the children out with back to school I had lots to catch up on, both blog-wise and house-wise! So here's what I've been up to lately.

Thinking about

Now that the children are back at school I'm thinking about how quiet the house is, and wondering what they are up to. Today they are both starting new lunch time clubs - Mia has joined a Speech and Drama class and Harry has finally been persuaded to join the Junior Choir as his school is taking part in the Young Voices performace at the O2 next year. I hope they enjoy them!

I'm also looking around and thinking that the houses is looking a bit cluttered again so I'm taking part in the Minimalism Game again this month. I've written about the #minsgame before, I find it's a method that really helps me to keep on top of the clutter in the home and tackle the areas that I keep putting off.

Crafting

My latest crafty project is in collaboration with Love Crochet. I've been sent some lovely yarn to make something with, and I decided to make a small scarf for one of Mia's teddies. I'm combining the different colours together to add a bit of interest. Unfortunately I didn't work out the width very well so it's going to end up being a very large scarf - I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up fitting Mia better than her teddy!

Paintbox yarns in different colours

Our Instagram crafting community continues to grow - last month almost three hundred posts were tagged with #craftingismytherapy_august. If you'd like to join in this month we'd love to see you share your crafty projects under #craftingismytherapy_september.

Watching

We've just finished watching The Handmaid's Tale which I enjoyed very much. It's one of my favourite books so I was interested to see how it transferred to the screen. I don't want to spill any spoilers but I was pleased with the adaptation, even if it did have lots of extras which are clearly a set up to future episodes going beyond the scope of the book.

We've been watching a few films too, although not that many that have particularly stood out. The Big Sick was quite funny, and Life was also enjoyable, albeit a bit gruesome!

Eating

The children are back to school so I'm back to being careful with what I eat. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I hadn't put on as much weight over the summer as I expected (and probably deserved to). I'm hoping this is down to the fact that I made a real effort to hit my step targed (11,000 steps) every day - even when I had to march around the house in circles because the weather was too bad to drag the children out. Hopefully a few weeks of proper calorie counting will sort it, and then I just have to be careful not to slip back into the unhealthy habits.

Travelling to

We've mainly stayed local this month, the furthest we've been was to a wedding in Bracknell over the Bank Holiday weekend which was very fun and a good chance to catch up with lots of people. Now I'm just travelling to school and back every day!

Reading

I recently re-read Bill Bryon's The Road to Little Dribbling after being reminded about it when a friend posted a quote on Facebook. It's hilarious and quite thrilling because Angmering gets a (very brief) mention, as does Worthing. I love all of Bill Bryon's books and I've read most of them several times over, they still make me giggle.

I'm currently re-reading The Handmaid's Tale after watching the television series. It's another book that I've read several times, but not recently, so it's interesting to go back to it.

Planning

Over the October half-term we have a very exciting trip coming up - we are going to Hong Kong and Singapore. Ram and I visited Singapore some years ago, and I always hoped that I'd be able to return one day with children. We've never been to Hong Kong, but we are planning to visit Disneyland Hong Kong for two days and then we'll definitely find plenty more to keep us busy. It's a big trip (kicked off with a 14 hour long haul flight!) and there is lots of planning to do. So I've set up a Trello board and I've been doing lots of research. I've put together a pretty comprehensive list of things that I want us to do, so now I'm moving on to the detailed planning - scheduling in the days and making a note of how to get to places, opening times and prices and so on.

Of course, like any trip away I also find myself planning and scheduling for my blog and social media to keep it ticking over while I'm away, so there's all that to plan too!

Looking forward to

Our holiday of course, and before that a few weeks of getting the house back to normal after the summer holidays!

What have you been up to lately?
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