Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My 2014 Goals

2013 has actually been a brilliant year for me. Little Miss was born, we moved house, BG started school and I finally learned to crochet!

I stopped doing New Year Resolution years ago but I do like to set myself a few goals. I have set myself some personal and professional goals. I thought it was best to write it down and put it out as I would be more likely to try and achieve them. So here are 2014 goals.

Learn 5 new skills. That sounds like a lot but I have already booked myself into some workshops in the New Year and I will be learning 3 new skills.

Choose a business name for my Freelance VA work and set up a new website so I can attract new customers.

Set up an Etsy shop for my crafty bits I  want to sell.  I have been designing bags and making candles and would like to make another stream of income from them.

Try a new recipe every month. I have a tonne of recipe books and I think one recipe a month is doable.

Ok not a lot of goals but enough for a working mum of two!

Do you set goals?

Friday, 6 December 2013

November Challenge Complete!!

I did it! I actually crochet, stitched on numbers and filled 24 bags for my daughters advent.

I finished crocheting the bags on the 24th which was my plan and I only just did it. This is was my view throughout November.

So 24 bags were complete and then I had to stitch on the numbers which I had never done and my sewing skills are non existent.

Many of them are not perfect but I don't care they are made with love.

The night before advent me and OH filled the bags with treats for our daughter. Each bag contains a piece or two of a wooden village, a chocolate coin or santa and some days she also has a advent task to do.

So this is the finished calendar.

As she has taken the bags down we have put up Christmas cards and I have made it a Christmas Shelf.

BG really loves her bags and this makes me really happy. 

If I was to this again I would:

1 Sew on the numbers before stitching the bags together

2 Start earlier!

3 Display them differently. Next year OH is going to cut me out a wooden Christmas tree and then I am going to paint it and add hooks to hang the bags on and display on the wall.

Right now its time to get on with Christmas gifts!

Did you make an Advent Calendar this year?

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Win a £30 Voucher for BrandPrix

I am very excited to have my first giveaway on this blog for you and it’s a good one. If you haven’t been on BrandPrix you don’t know what you are missing.

BrandPrix sell fantastic brands at brilliant prices from Beauty to Bags. Brands include Diesel, DNKY, Calvin Klein and Clinique.

I have my eye on a few items for my Christmas list:

I have a £30 voucher to giveaway to one lucky reader.

Just follow the instructions in the rafflecopter widget below.

Good Luck.

Closing date: 12th December 2013

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 17 November 2013

November Challenge Update {2}

I thought I had better do a quick update on my advent bags, I have 16 so far and I shall be start on number 17 after I have published this post.

Don't they look pretty!

In all fairness I would have probably had them all done by now if I had't go sidetracked by other projects.

I will blog about them all properly really soon.

I should have all 24 bags done soon and then I have to stitch on the numbers fill them and hand them up! I also have a birthday party for BG to organise and cakes to bake for the school fare. Why do I do this to myself!!! 

I keep telling myself it will all be worth it in the end. 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

November Challenge Update {1}

I thought I would give you a little update on my Crochet a Advent Calender in November challenge.

So far I have managed three bags!! Two are the same size and one is smaller. I am not sure where I went wrong but I don't think it really matters. 

I have not done the tie up bit I think I may just use yarn or buy some ribbon for that. 

They won't all be red I have quite a few colours to use so going have a selection of different colours plus I am nearly out of red!

I am still trying to decide how to display them around the living room. There will be too many for them all to go on the fire place. 

Right back to the crochet. 

Friday, 1 November 2013

My November Challenge: Crochet an Advent Calender

Today I started not one but two challenges! I am doing Emma Cossey 30 Day Freelance Lifestyle Ecourse

I have been a freelance VA and Blogger for about 3 years and have been really lucky to find work mainly through twitter but feel I should really learn to how to find work properly and get focused so later today I have out an hour aside to do my first.

I have also decided to make BG a crocheted Advent Calendar this year. 

I was inspired by a pattern in the latest Simply Crochet which have a gorgeous one which is made up of sock and mittens. The pattern scared a newbie like me so I had a look around and found a great little pattern for crochet drawstring bags on Lion Brands Yarn

Image of One Ball Soap Bag

I think I could make one a night for 24 days and then use the last 6 days of the month to string them together. I have a little wooden town and I will put a few pieces in each bag so by Christmas day BG will have a whole town. I will also add in some treats and things to do along the way. 

Little Miss will only be 10 months old and won't really understand what's going on but I will put a few treats in for her to have as well.

So what do you think? Am I mad? Are you doing any challenges this month?

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Look What I Made! Scarves and Wrist Warmers

After finishing BG’s epic granny blanket I decided I needed a few quick projects.  BG wanted a rainbow scarf so I had a search on the internet and found the perfect pattern on The Green Dragonfly.

I used the yarn I had left over from the blanket to make BG’s. I learnt a new stitch the half treble crochet which is actually really easy. I made it slightly longer than the original pattern and started with 200 chains.

I am rather pleased with it. The colours look amazing and it took about 6 hours to make.

There is also a fingerless mitt pattern to go with them so I made those as well. Well I have made one good one and one that is far too tight so I have to do that again but they take about an hour to make.

I learnt how to do a picot edging though I am not convinced mine is right.  

I am supposed to be giving them to her for her birthday at the end of November but I may give them to her sooner.

Armed with my new crochet stitch and some Aran yarn I got at Aldi. Yes Aldi! I made OH a scarf as an anniversary gift which is soon.

I forgot to count the chains but it’s about 200 the I did 12 rows of treble crochet in Aran, 2 rows in Stylecraft Special DK Lipstick (red) and then a final 2 rows of the Aran. OH wanted a bit of colour in it.

It’s really long and he loves it!

I decided I really needed to make something for myself so yesterday I made a pair of wrist warmers. I needed something for when I am out with the pushchair but get too hot in gloves.
I made the pattern up as I went along. My fist wrist warmer was far too big so I am going to make it into a bag.

I did a starting chain of 23 and then I forgot to write not how many rows. I just kept going until it was the right length. Use safety pins to help me work out where the thumb hole should go.

I used the same Aran as before it was £7.99 for 400g so I have plenty left for other projects (family be warned scarves are coming your way) I added a few rows of Stylecraft Special DK Wisteria.  They fit just right.

I have a few birthday gifts to make and I am also going to make BG her advent this year. I have seen a simple pattern for drawstring bags so I will make 24 of them in different colours and then I need to work out how I am going to string them up.

I figure if I make every day in November for 24 days then that will give me enough time to connect them together.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Handmade Gorgeousness: Leather Satchel in Cockatoo Blue

I have been lusting over leather satchels for a few years now. I was lucky to get a mini one when I was a Cybher but have wanted a larger one.

I jumped for joy when I saw brandalley had The Leather Satchel Company bags half price. 

After some deliberation I went with this Cockatoo Blue 31cm bag and I am in love with. It brightens up the school run!

They are made by hand and you just can't beat the look of a proper leather satchel. If you can afford to invest in one do it.  

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Look What I Made! Large Granny Square Blanket

Last night I finished my first big crochet project. I only learnt this summer so it is a big deal for me. My daughter demanded a blanket she could snuggle under and who I am to deny her that pleasure.

Originally I was going to make Lucy's at Attic 24 Granny Stripe blanket. I even bought the yarn pack to do it. However BG saw a blanket made up of small granny squares and wanted that. I then showed her Bunny Mummy's Large Granny Square Blanket and she was happy with that. 

I used the Stylecraft Special DK Colour Pack from Deramores which is based on Lucy's blanket. There are 17 different shades of colour. I have to say not all of them were my cup of tea and next time I will choose my own colours but as a beginner it was good to have a pack I could just use.

I used a 4.5mm hook and I did two rounds of each colours and then a border of DC with three different blues.

BG choose the order the colours went in and colours for the border. 

I am really happy with the way it turned out. Its not perfect there are some mistakes but that adds to the charm.

I started it on the 26th August and finished it in the 2nd October so it took 5 weeks which I am really impressed with.

I can't wait for BG to get home from school so she can see the finished blanket.

Now what to make next! 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Getting My Autumn On: Roasted Pumpkin Soup

We have been growing our own pumpkins this year as you know and they are finally ripening so we decided to try roasted pumpkin soup.

The Other Half (OH) and Big Girl (BG) went and picked a pumpkin.

BG and I then prepared it, which means she scooped a bit out and then got bored! I cut the pumpkin into 5 big chunks, brushed on a little olive oil and roasted for 45 minutes. I kept the skin while it roasted and it just pulled off really easy afterwards.

While it was roasting I got the soup base ready. 

I used:

2 Diced Carrots
2 Diced Sticks of Celery
Some frozen onion (I didn’t weigh it but it was probably a cup full
3 fresh bay leaves
Spring of fresh rosemary and thyme
600 ml of chicken stock though you could use vegetable.

I sweated the veg down in a little olive oil for 10 minutes and then added the herbs and stock and simmered for 30 mintues.

Once the pumpkin was roasted, I added approx. 300g to the soup and then we blended it down.  I served mine with some crispy smoked bacon pieces and added a little salt and pepper. The girls had theirs plain. BG didn’t like it but Little Miss lapped it up.

There was quite a bit of pumpkin left over so I have portioned it up and popped in the freezer. I have plans for Nigel Slater’s Pumpkin Scones and Pumpkin Gnocchi.

We still have 5 pumpkins in the garden so if you have any good recipes please share them with me. 

Link up your recipe of the week

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Small Things {1}

This post is totally ripped off inspired by Mummy Limited who from time to time writes a Small Things post. All about the small pleasures in life, the things you don’t notice or make a fuss about. I loved her post this week and got me thinking that I need to blog more about life.  It’s all been about reviews and commercial content which works well for Parent Panel but it’s been a while since I have dug deep and I need to get back there.
So here are my small things from the past few months.

Having a park a three minute walk away so you and your girls can blow the cobwebs away. 

Swapping apples from your neighbours garden for cucumbers from yours. Growing cucumber in our garden. Baking apple crumble with the apples from your neighbour.  

Growing pumpkins. Twitter friends pointing out pumpkin recipes for you.

Making Jamie Oliver’s Dim Sum Pork Dumplings, they turning out perfect and everyone including your fussy daughter eating them. 

Dinners around a proper kitchen table. 

Vanilla Lattes.

Learning to crochet properly after spending 4 years trying to and it finally clicks. Having your daughter demand you crochet her a blanket to snuggle under and her choosing the order the colours go in. Having time to crochet.

Re-reading Jilly Coopers Riders and Rivals books.  Reading a book that is not a children’s book.  Staying up late to read one more chapter.

Finding a new TV channel full of trashy programmes. Filling my sky + box with trashy programmes and then watching them with a big cup of tea while the baby is napping.

My daughter starting school and loving it. One on one time with my baby. The school run as it means I get out of the house each day and go for a walk.

Central heating after living in a house for 6 years with storage heaters. A real fire.  Purple Moccasins slippers.   

New winter boots. New scarves. New leather satchel. Being able to buy new things that are just for me.

Maternity leave. Having a client to go back to after maternity leave. The possibilities ahead of me.

New friends. Old friends. Family.

What small things have you noticed?

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Look What I Made! Sugar Free Banana Muffins

I saw Purple Mum tweet a link to this recipe for Sugar Free Banana Muffins and knew we had to try them. My OH has diabetes and I have impaired glucose so we have to be careful with sugar plus I don't want the girls to have too much.

I used half white and half wholemeal flour in mine. They tasted really good and both the girls demolished theirs. Next time I might pop some blueberries in them. 

Monday, 2 September 2013

Growing Pumpkins

One of the many things I love about our new home is the garden. Not only is it huge but the old owners already had a veg patch ready to be planted and they left a big green house behind. This has meant we have been attempting to grow our own veg. 

We have been quite success with peas and mange tout. We have been very successful with cucumber and have started to give them away as we have grown so many (note to self stagger sowing the cucumber seeds next year).

The crop that has impressed me the most is our pumpkins. I bought a cheap pot and seed set and hoped that we would get at least one for our daughter to take to our local pumpkin parade. 

To start with only one seed seemed to germinate but we were happy with that. Then about 3 weeks later the other caught up. Once they were stronger enough we planted them straight out in the garden and they have flourished.  

There are currently six pumpkins growing in our garden. Two are already going orange the others are still green but that's fine. We have a few small ones and some huge ones and they are all glorious. The only problem is they are taking over the garden!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Pretty Swapsies

I took part in Kat's Crochet Camp and at some point I will share what  I have been making. To house my crochet goodies I made myself a tote bag.

My friend who blogs at Snaffle's Mummy liked the look of it and she had just made a really cute crochet hook holder so we did a swapsies.

I made her this:

She made me this:

I love Crochet Camp inspired me and has allowed me to be creative in different ways. 

I really love my hook holder and have bought a whole set of hooks to go in it!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

New Arbonne Calm and Pure Vibrance Ranges

Arbonne is one of my favourite cosmetic ranges; their red lipstick is a staple in my makeup bag.  They recently sent me some products from their new ranges Calm and Pure Vibrance.

This lightweight serum, with a moisture barrier soothing complex, quickly penetrates, cools and soothes the skin, locking in moisture and leaving the skin feeling hydrated and supple. This non-irritating, non-comedogenic serum is the ideal product for improving the texture and appearance of the skin.  

This has been brilliant throughout the summer months. It makes a nice base under sun cream which I wear most days. And on the days I don't it makes a great alternative to face cream. 

It's really lightweight and absorbs well into the skin leaving it moisturised but non greasy. I have really oily skin so anything they helps reduce that is fine by me. It's feels a little bit like a gel and is cooling in the skin. 

The bottle comes with a pipette so you don't use too much, as a little goes a long way. 

The calm range also includes a daily cleanser, daily moisturiser and a eye gel. You can buy a set of all four for £90. Calm is perfect for those with dry and tired skin.  

Shield colour and style hair in one step. Specially formulated to build natural volume and manageability with the combined benefit of protecting hair from sun damage and maintaining colour longer.  

Even though my hair is curly and often frizzy it's still rather flat. I have tried volumizing and texturizing products in the past and they often leave my hair stiff and sticky. This product wasn't like that it. I put it non sticky mouse on my wet hair and dried I straight and then used my straighteners. I found that it straightened much easier than normal and I have a nice lift at the roots. My hair felt soft and looked really good. I have been using it throughout the summer and doesn't feel as dry and it normally does after so much sun exposure.  

I really like this mousse, you don't need much at all and it works really well. My hair is no longer flat and dull. 

Thanks Arbonne!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Pretty New Furniture

We moved in our new home Easter weekend so decided to make the most of the Bank Holiday Sales. Initially we were on the lookout for a corner sofa but after looking around we realised they would swamp our living room so decided on two sofas. 

I really wanted a mix of colour and textures so after a few hours of looking we settled on these.

The brown faux suede has two reclining chairs and is so comfy. I love the shape of the red one and its low to the ground so I my feet can actually touch the floor  when I sit on it. 

They look really nice in my living room which is a mixture of reds and browns. We still have a bit to do to the room so once its all done I will share pictures.

We got such a good deal on these sofas we decided to buy a new kitchen table as well. We were going to look for a second hand table as we wanted something really solid but the offers were so good we couldn't resist.  In the end we got all three items for the same price we were willing to spend on a corner sofa!

I really love this table. I have always wanted a kitchen that was big enough to have a table in, it was a must when house searching.  This table is big and sturdy and is also extendable so we have everyone over for Christmas dinner.

Because we did so well on these pieces I decided to get both the girls Tripp Trapps.  They are so well designed and last for years. It means that they can sit at the table comfortably and securely.  No booster seats, extra cushions or sitting on knees. 

Our home is coming along slowly but that's ok we aren't going anywhere.

The sofa's and kitchen table are from Harveys and the Tripp Trapps are from Back in Action