Tuesday, 14 July 2020

A list of things I make lists of

Activities to keep children from being bored
Long term projects to work toward.

Topics I want to write about
Daily tasks to be carried out.

Places that I want to go
Items to knit, crochet or sew.

Books I one day want to read
All the things the children need.

Craft projects I would like to try
Craft supplies that I want to buy.

Posts to write for my blog.
An unfinished craft project log.

Recipes I want to make
With dinners to cook and cakes to bake.

Treats I'd like to receive as a gift
Things to do if I need a mood lift.

Writing a good list is always a hit
But ticking things off is always the best bit!

This post inspired by learning about list poems with Mia while home schooling!

Person writing a list in a notebook
Photo credit Glenn Carstens-Peters via Unsplash

Thursday, 9 July 2020

The start of the summer holidays

The end of term felt like a bit of anti-climax this year. Normally I'm desperate for the holidays to start, but although Harry was at school part-time for the last few weeks of term it still felt like a bit of a novelty with a traffic-free school run, no uniform to wash and no extra homework.

I do feel for Harry, he has missed out on a huge number of Year 6 milestones - among other things his first residential, a day trip to the Isle of Wight, a talent show and leavers disco. But at least he was able to catch up with friends for a few weeks, poor Mia had a one hour transition session with her class last week but apart from that she has hardly seen anyone else since March.

We were very lucky with the remote learning provision from the school, and the children definitely benefited from the routine that gave us. They were up and dressed by 8.30am each day to respond to a morning message, and then had regular morning Teams calls with their classes. I'm very keen to keep a little bit of that routine going over the summer.

I'm intending to get them to spend a few minutes each day using the Times Tables Rockstars app. I also discovered the Quizlet app while doing their French remote learning and it's brilliant. I'm getting them to spend some time daily going through some of the vocab that they were introduced to this term. The other thing I'm keen on is reading, but luckily I don't need to force them to do that!

I'm also trying for some daily exercise, even if it's just a scoot around the block, and some form of shared creative time. This week it's been all about the play dough! I nearly decluttered it all a few months back thinking that they were too old for it, but it has kept them (and me!) happily occupied for ages, and I'm even wondering if I need to buy some more!

Older children playing with play dough

We are still trying to stay at home as much as possible, and there are many weeks stretching ahead of us without the usual places to visit or playdates with friends. Luckily we've managed to book a week away -  even if we can't get out and about on holiday as much as normal at least we'll have a change of scenery. And we will have a few meet ups with friends and family in gardens and down the beach. 

Fingers crossed we will be back to some sort of normality with back to school in September, I think that we will all be ready for it!

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

My completed project for June - two Christmas felt kits

Another month, and another unfinished craft project completed! In case you have missed my previous posts, one of my crafting goals for 2020 was to finish one of my in-progress craft projects every month. I'm well on track, helped by having a lot more time at home over the last few months! So here is my finished craft project for June - two Christmas felt kits.

I received these kits along with two others to review, and you can see my original review post here. I completed the owl as part of the review, and I finished the llama as a Christmas present for my brother, leaving me with a stocking and a polar bear.

This was one of those projects that has been lying about for ages, but was actually really quick to complete, each decoration only took an hour or so! So that left me plenty of time to work on my other projects this month.

Felt Christmas kits from Trimits - polar bear and stocking

I'm loving ticking each project off my list. In a few months I'll actually have finished working on the projects that are physically lying around unfinished, and be able to move onto projects in my head that I have most of the materials for but haven't actually begun!

I think that my next project is going to be my Smash Book. My Smash Book is a bit like a scrapbook, where I stick in ephemera like tickets and postcards, along with pictures of things that I like cut from magazines and so on. I have a big folder of things gathered that I want to add to it, so it's a case of sorting through and grouping similar items together, before gluing them in and adding journalling as necessary. I think that I probably have enough items to fill all the pages, but if not then in future I'll just be able to add to it as I go along.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Free small London Underground logo cross stitch design pattern

I've been busy working on my cross stitch map over the last few weeks. Now that I've filled in all the countries that I've visited, I've been coming up with lots of individual designs to represent places that I've travelled to. Some of them are pictures of places around the world, and others are symbols which represent different countries or cities.

I've shared a couple of my designs already, and so today I'm sharing the design that I came up with for a mini cross stitch London Underground logo. This small version of the logo would be ideal to use on greetings cards, bookmarks or as part of a larger London or United Kingdom themed sampler.

Free cross stitch pattern London Underground logo

This cross stitch design is very simple. The only colours of thread that you need are red, blue, white and black. I stitched the design with the strand numbers as follows:

Cross stitch - 2 strands
White lettering - 3 strands
Black outline - 1 strand

The cross stitch is done first, then the lettering and back stitch around the edges are added. I chose to complete the background in white but if you are working on white fabric then you might decide that it's not necessary.

London Underground small mini cross stitch design and pattern

Here is the design as it looks stitched on my sampler. I'm really pleased with how my cross stitch map is building up, I'd love to have it finished by the end of the year but I still have a long way to go!

London Underground cross stitch design

If you liked this pattern you might also like my other travel themed cross stitch designs:

Free mini Disney castle cross stitch pattern
Free cruise ship cross stitch pattern

Saturday, 20 June 2020

My 100 day project - the three quarter mark

I can't believe that I'm already three quarters of the way through this project! I'm still really enjoying working on my daily drawing or painting and I like to think that I've shown some improvement. I'm definitely beginning to find the style that I enjoy working in.

Here are my previous posts that have shared my progress so far:

My 100 day project - a quarter of the way through
My 100 day project - halfway through

When I first wrote about this project I mentioned that I had been very inspired by this lady's lovely drawings of her life in lockdown. I tried a few sketches of my children at the time but they weren't very good and so I moved on to drawing other things from around the house and garden, lots of leaves and flowers.

Then I recently decided that I would like to make a journal about these strange times. I've always wanted to make an illustrated journal, and this seemed like an ideal opportunity. So I started a Covid-19/Coronavirus/2020 illustrated journal and began attempting a few drawings to go with my writing, firstly some inanimate objects and then as my confidence increased I tried a few pictures of the children.

I discovered that my preferred style was quite simple and cartoon like. I draw the picture in pencil first, then use a pen for the key outlines before filling in with watercolours. So here are my first efforts (and I know I'm bad at faces so I avoid them if I can!)

I'm a bit shy about sharing them as I know they aren't great, but I hope that they capture a moment, which is really just what I was aiming for.

Mia sleeping in my bed to illustrate a page about sleeping difficulties during lockdown:

Painting of a young girl sleeping

Harry on his tablet, wearing his hoodie and clutching his Giraffe comforter. 

Painting of a boy on his tablet

Mia on the swing where she spends ages each day playing by herself.

Painting of a girl on a swing

I had a few goes at the next picture, first trying in pencil, then adding watercolours, then finally in my preferred style for the actual journal.

Rough sketches of a girl painting

Painting of a girl drawing

I know they aren't the best but I'm hoping that as I keep practising and get more confident I'll get better.

I'm a bit shy about sharing the writing in my journal but when it's finished I might post a few pages. I've found it really helpful to write things down, and I'm hoping that it will be interesting to look back on over the years as this period in time becomes a distant memory!

Thursday, 18 June 2020

My garden and vegetable patch update

Over the last few months we have all spent so much time in the garden and it has been really lovely. I've really been enjoying pottering around and pulling out the weeds gradually, keeping up with the watering, and taking time to appreciate the things that I've planted and watching them grow. 

I'm very lucky to have a separate little vegetable patch area at the bottom of the garden which is tucked away behind the garage. We had the raised bed replaced last year so it's all looking nice and neat, although I don't keep things pristine, there are plenty of weeds growing! I made the bunting a couple of weeks ago. It's a lovely private and sunny area, my husband often talks about making it into his outdoor kitchen and hot tub area but I'm not letting it go without a fight!

Vegetable patch with trellis entrance and bunting

Luckily the pole framework was built by my Dad last year as I wouldn't know where to start building it myself! I've got lots of sweet peas planted at the bottom. the plants were so tiny when I grew them from the seeds that I set three around the base of each pole, and now that they are getting bigger it has become a little chaotic and tangled!

Vegetable patch with tomatoes and sweet peas

The tomato plants in the bed are ones that I planted from actual tomatoes in the fridge when I couldn't get hold of any tomato seeds earlier this year. I didn't expect them to grow let alone produce tomatoes so I'm really pleased that they've started to produce flowers, I'm interested to see what happens with them! I have more tomato plants from the seeds that I managed to buy in pots up against the wall. They are doing really well, some of them already have tomatoes growing nicely.

Large purple lavender bush in vegetable patch

This gorgeous lavender bush was planted by my parents last year. It took a little while to get going, but this year the purple flowers are stunning. I really like the extra colour that it adds to the vegetable patch, and I'll be harvesting some to make lavender bags later this year!

Flowering marigolds, nasturtiums and poppies in pots in garden

The only other colour that I have in the garden at the moment is my marigolds. The first batch that I planted from seeds are flowering beautifully. I have some from my Mum which will be flowering soon, and another batch still growing on the windowsill indoors which I'll put out when they are a bit bigger.

I have an old pallet in the garage and I have some vague plans about making some kind of planter with tin can planters on it but I'm not very handy when it comes to woodwork so I'm not really sure where to start!

I'm looking forward to when the flowers start appearing, hopefully I'll have a nice colourful garden this summer!

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Review - Exploring the local area with Treasure Trails

We received a Treasure Trail for our local town in exchange for this review.

This weekend we spent a fun afternoon trying out our local Treasure Trail. Treasure Trails are self-guided adventure trails, and are located all across the UK. They take you on a fun adventure, using local landmarks, signs, statues, monuments and all sorts of other eye-catching features to solve clues.

Family at Littlehampton by the river looking at a sign

It is currently recommended to only complete a Treasure Trail which is local to you, so we chose the trail in our nearest small town - Littlehampton. You need to make sure that you respect the current social distancing rules, and follow the latest guidelines if you are meeting up with people from a different household.

We go to Littlehampton quite often to walk along the promenade, and so we thought that we were fairly familiar with the town. However once we had left the seafront we were taken to some other really pretty areas of the town that we had never visited before, including some lovely gardens, and we saw lots of historical features that we had no idea existed!

Family review of the Treasure Trail in Littlehampton

The Littlehampton Trail is a Spy Themed Treasure Trail. We had an answer grid to enter the solution to each clue, and then cross off a letter or two from a grid with each one. When we had completed the trail, the remaining letters and numbers were the secret code left behind by a secret agent. Our trail had 21 clues, which were found along a circular route starting from a cafe on the seafront. 

When you purchase the trail you can choose to receive a link to download a copy, or you can have a printed copy posted to you. The Treasure Trail booklet contains an introduction to the challenge, along with full instructions and the list of clues that you need to solve. 

The clues vary in style and complexity. Sometimes it's a case of writing down a word from a sign, other times you need to count objects and work out some sums. There was some Morse code to interpret and photographs of things that we needed to find. It was definitely a family effort, the children were brilliant at spotting things that we missed. And it was fun to visit an area that we thought we knew well and find things that we'd never noticed before, like pictures on the floor made out of the bricks! It's a really fun way to find out more about the history of an area.

Child completing the Littlehampton Treasure Trail

The clues are interspersed with little snippets and facts about the area that you are exploring, and the directions that you need to take you to the next clue. The directions are quite clear as to where you need to go next. Many of the clues were quite easy, but some were more challenging and a couple did make us stop and think. 

If you are really stuck with a clue you can text a special number and have the answer texted back to you, although this can only be used three times. Once we had answered all the clues we entered the solution code onto the website. Luckily we answered everything correctly and solved the case! Then you can download a certificate, and all correct answers are entered into a monthly prize draw to win £100. 

If you are looking for a fun family activity then I'd really recommend having a go at a Treasure Trail. It would be fun to try one if you are visiting somewhere new, but they are equally good in a place that you know well in order to learn a bit more about the history of your local area. They'd make a great gift too!

There are more than 1,200 Treasure Trails to choose from across the UK, you can find out more and choose your nearest trail here - Treasure Trails. A Treasure Trail costs £9.99 to download, or £11.48 if you choose to have it printed and sent to you. They are designed for all ages and for small groups of up to five people. It took us around 90 minutes to complete the trail. 

Littlehampton Treasure Trails booklet
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