Monday, 20 May 2019

What my fantasy garden looks like

It's the time of year when I start to make plans for the garden. Our garden isn't very exciting. It's a really good size which is great, but being a new build it's rather overlooked, and it's been kept very simple - mainly grass which is full of daisies, and one small border. However we are lucky enough to have a separate area where we have a raised vegetable patch which has just been replaced, and we also have a summer house, which although showing signs of age is a nice feature.

We do love spending time in the garden, although admittedly perhaps not as much time as we should. Last summer we bought a fire pit which we used a great deal, and this year we've bought an outdoor pizza oven which we are hoping to get plenty of use out of - fingers crossed for nice weather!

I'm often looking out into the garden from the kitchen and wishing that I had the magic touch that could make it a little more attractive. So I thought I'd pull together some ideas for what my fantasy garden would look like, and perhaps it will give me a bit of inspiration when it comes to thinking about what I could do out there!

I'd love to have a bright and colourful garden with an eclectic mix of plants and flowers, ideally planted in a mixture of different and re-purposed containers. I've already put lots of pots out the front of the summer house which I've planted up with some bedding plants, I'm hoping that they thrive!

Selection of different flowers in planters
Photo credits Micheile HendersonJakub JacobskyAnnie SprattChris Barbalis

I also want to make the most of spending time out in the garden during the evening with some lanterns and maybe even some outdoor fairy lights, if we can organise getting an outdoor socket installed. I'm always a fan of using what I already have instead of buying new, I might start collecting jam jars and tins and seeing what I can come up with!

Selection of glass lanterns
Photo credit Vladimir Mokry via Unsplash

I'd love some nice comfortable seating too, maybe something like these amazing swinging seats that we enjoyed sitting in on our holiday to Dubai earlier this year. If I had one of these I don't think I'd ever leave it!

Girl in large swinging seat

I was also inspired on holiday by this wall of bird boxes at Center Parcs, Erperheide. I love how they are all so different, yet still look good together. I have just finished painting one bird box for my garden and I have another one to work on, so this is something that I might actually be able to manage!

Bird boxes hung on the wall in a display

I even have a Garden Style Pinterest board for gathering ideas! I started a Garden Style Pinterest board years ago and I'm always pinning to it.

Maybe this will be the year that I actually get on and do something about it!

Friday, 17 May 2019

Life right now

The other day I was making dinner again, thinking about how every day with the children seems to follow the same routine - the school run, homework, dinner time, bath time and bed time, and I was suddenly reminded that although these are the things fill my life at the moment, in the end it's just another phase that won't last forever.

I never really thought about how life goes in phases until Harry was born. Those early weeks were so difficult and they really felt as if they were going to go on forever. I couldn't see forward to a time when he would sleep through the night or to when I'd be able to communicate with him properly. Of course looking back it seems like it was over so quickly, and those mornings spent trying to keep my eyes open at baby groups, making up purees and trying to encourage a nap seem like so long ago

So I thought I'd make a little list to remind me of what life looks like at the moment:

Lego everywhere
Packed lunches
Swimming lessons
Preparing food
School bags
Piano practice
Pushing swings
Dress up days

I must admit I'm desperately clinging on to this phase, it's my favourite yet. I love seeing my children playing together with their toys and always happy to come over to me for a cuddle and a chat. Even though they are growing more independent, they still need me very much. I'm not sure that I'm ready to deal with the changes that are waiting just out of sight around the corner!

Children playing in a playground

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Why I always like to have a book on the go

There's always a book in my house somewhere containing a bookmark, in fact there are usually two or three. Here's why I always like to be reading something:

I always have something to talk about with others, whether it's discussing my latest book with the children, my friends or online.

It helps to fill in those odd moments that I find throughout the day - while stirring something on the cooker, while the kids are in the bath or while I'm waiting in the car.

Having a book close by encourages me to reach for it rather than my phone.

It's something I can do by myself while everyone else is occupied.

My latest book plot gives me something to think about when I have some time to think, for example while I'm running or swimming.

I like to model reading to the children (not that they need it really, they read a lot more than I do!)

It keeps my mind busy.

It's handy to have a book ready to pick up if I'm heading somewhere that I know I'll be waiting around, like a doctor's waiting room or long journey.

It's something to look forward to when I have to do other things, knowing that I have a good book waiting for me to get on with.

Do you always have a book on the go?

Books waiting to be read with glasses
Photo credit Jade Stephens via Unsplash

Monday, 13 May 2019

Do you follow me on Instagram?

Being a blogger I try to keep on top of various different social media channels, and Instagram is always the one that I struggle with. Instagram is very competitive, and it's one that it's easy to game by buying followers or using a bot to automatically follow and unfollow other users to grow quickly.  There is also a lot of pressure lately to publish only carefully edited photos which co-ordinate with your perfectly curated feed. 

But I've recently decided that I want to get back into using Instagram again. I love scrolling through and seeing the photos that catch my eye. I'm especially drawn to anything colourful and crafty, and that's the kind of photos that I want to share on my own account. I also love putting together Instagram stories and sharing little snaps from my day, especially if we are out and about or doing something fun and interesting. I'm discovering that there are some lovely communities over there if you take the time to spend a few minutes interacting.

So if you don't follow me on Instagram I'd love you to pop over and give my feed a visit, and if you like my photos it would be wonderful if you would subscribe!

You can find me here - Jennifer Jain on Instagram - and if you drop me a comment, either here or over there, I'll be more than happy to follow you back!

Screenshot of my latest Instagram photos

Friday, 10 May 2019

Festive ornament felt kits

I received these kits in exchange for a review.

I love crafting for Christmas, and although it might seem a bit early yet I find that the Christmas period can be busy that I don't want to be putting pressure on myself to get projects finished. I'd rather have them completed in plenty of time so that I can enjoy the results of my crafting during the build up! So I was pleased to be sent some sweet little felt Christmas ornament kits to review, with plenty of time to work on them before the rest of the decorations come out.

Felt Christmas crafting kits selection

The kits contain almost everything that you need along with with full instructions - you just need a pair of scissors and some fabric glue. I decided to start with a little felt owl.

Felt owl crafting kit

The felt pieces were pre-cut with the holes already punched. It's not a basic sewing kit though, you do need to be able to do some basic embroidery stitches and work out the positioning of the embellishing stitches yourself. There is plenty of scope to adapt the design to your own preferences, and I think it would be lovely to work on these alongside a child or younger family member that could help with the more simple sewing.

Felt owl in progress

I really enjoyed working on this kit, it was challenging enough to keep me interested but didn't take too long to finish and was a really satisfying make.

Festive felt owl crafting kit

Here's my finished little owl, isn't he sweet! I'm not actually sure that he's going to make it to the Christmas tree - Mia has already claimed him as her own and spirited him away to hang in her bedroom somewhere!

Festive felt owl made using a craft kit

I love that the kits all co-ordination beautifully together, and although they are simple they can be easily customised. I'm looking forward to working on the other pieces!

You can find all these kits here - Homecrafts.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

How to make a decorated fabric pen tray for your desk

This post uses products which I received as a Bostik blogger, but I've received no additional compensation for this post.

Tutorial for fabric pencil trays to organise the desk

Today I'm sharing a really simple craft - how to make some fabric trays to keep pens, pencils and other stationery organised on your desk.

You need:

Two pieces of fabric, one for the inside of the tray and one for the outside
Fusible interfacing, I used White Lightweight Fusible Iron On Interfacing Fabric (affiliate link)
Fabric glue
Embellishments - for example ribbon, sequins, buttons

Fabric pen trays with Bostik glue


First you need to make a template for your tray. I wanted to make a tray to hold pencils, so I laid out some pencils on white paper and drew around them to decide on the size of the base of the tray. I added a border of 4cm for the sides and seam allowance. My final template measured 30cm by 14cm.

Making a template for a fabric tray

Choose your fabric and cut a rectangle from each of your chosen fabrics. Then cut two from the fusible interfacing (you may only need one if you are using thicker interfacing). Pin the template to the fabric to make it easier to cut accurately.

Materials required to make a fabric tray tutorial

Lay the two pieces of fabric with their right sides facing and sandwich with a piece of the interfacing on both the top and on the bottom. The interfacing fabric makes the fabric a little stiffer so that the tray will stand up better. Sew the four pieces together, leaving an opening of a few centimetres. Trim the corners from your fabric sandwich and turn right side out, using a knitting needle or similar to make sure that the corners are pushed out fully. Press on both sides with an iron.

Sewing fabric pieces together to make a fabric tray

Fold in a corner of the rectangle and measure 3cm from the tip. Use a needle and thread to make some stitches to hold the corner together firmly. Repeat for each corner of the tray.

Tutorial to make a fabric pencil tray for the desk

To make sure that the tray will keep its shape, use an iron to press down the sides and make a firm crease along the bottom edge of the tray.

Using an iron to press the sides of a fabric tray together

Your tray is now finished and ready to decorate! To stick the embellishments to the tray I used fabric glue, depending on your glue you may need to use a generous amount of glue. I used the glue to stick star sequins to the corners of the tray and to add a scrap of ribbon along the front.

Using Bostik glue to decorate a fabric tray

Once you've added the glue to the ribbon you just need to press it firmly into place and leave to dry, which doesn't take too long.

Decorated fabric tray with Bostik tutorial

I made a second tray using some different fabrics, and this time I decorated it with buttons and ric rac. 

How to make some simple fabric pen trays tutorial

It's a great and pretty way to keep everything organised on your desk, and you can make them in all different sizes to suit the things that you want to store!

Fabric pen trays made with Bostik products

Monday, 6 May 2019

#ad Blu Tack hacks for crafters

This is a collaborative post in association with Bostik

Today I'm sharing some hacks for using Blu Tack in your crafting! I've put together some ways that  Blu Tack can be used to make working on craft projects easier, as a craft material in its own right, and to display your finished projects.

Crafty hacks using Blu Tack

If you are working on a project where you need to lay items out before securing them into place, you can use Blu Tack to test out different configurations. For example when I made this box frame to display some of my favourite badges, I spent some time coming up with different arrangements before I found one that I was happy with. The Blu Tack will keep small items firmly in place yet can be removed without causing any damage when you are ready to use a more permanent adhesive.

Display frame for badges and pins

If you are working on a spray painted project you can use Blu Tack as a masking material to keep paint from ending up in the wrong place. This is brilliant for around fiddly or ornate areas. You can also use the Blu Tack to mask off decorative patterns that you want to create.

Blu Tack can be used to make a simple stamp, for example to create dots of paint on an object.

If you need to add paint or glue to a small or fiddly item, you can use a piece of Blu Tack to hold it firmly in place, both while applying the paint or glue and while it dries.

If you need to make a hole in a piece of thick paper or card, use a lump of Blu Tack underneath and push through with a skewer. The Blu Tack will protect the work surface underneath.

Blu Tack being used to help make a hole in cardboard

Blu Tack is great for picking up tiny items like seed beads or mini Hama beads if you spill them. It works best on a hard surface but is also great for fabric or carpet if you are careful not to press too firmly.

Blu Tack for picking up small beads

When preparing a surface for painting you can use a lump of Blu Tack to remove any dust or debris from the surface. You can also use Blu Tack to plug small holes, such as screw holes, to create a smoother surface.

If you are working on a project that requires using lots of small pins or needles you can use a lump of Blu Tack to secure them firmly to your work surface. This will prevent them from rolling away and also draws attention to them so that they won't cause an accident.

Blu Tack holding pins together

Blu Tack is a great resource if you are putting together a mood or inspiration board. You can use it to stick up pictures and photos that you like, scraps of paper of fabric and small embellishments, then move them around to see what will work well together.

Finally, Blu Tack is a brilliant way to display your finished art work, both temporarily and more permanently. It's fantastic for sticking up your child's drawings or your own works of art, to walls, cupboards and other surfaces.

Child's drawing displayed with Blu Tack

This is a collaborative post in association with Bostik
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