Monday, 25 November 2013

A Year of Happy - 4/52

Well I haven't ventured out much this week, the weather has been mostly cold, wet and miserable but its been quite a good week for ticking a few people off my Christmas present list which I'm very happy about.

When I decided I would like to hand craft all my presents this year, I didn't take into consideration just how much time and energy it would take, so as time is passing, I have cheated and bought a few presents but I'm happy that I've also made use of some of the crafting materials I have on hand and this week I've enjoyed the challenge of turning some of them into gifts.  So all my happies for this week are crafting related...

My first happy is that I finished my Secret Santa gift this week!  Obviously I can't give you any details about this one right now as it might spoil the surprise if my SS recipient sees it, but there was a great sense of achievement when it was done.  You might also notice I had another little play with my question mark illustration on Photoshop during the week too - I wanted to make it look a bit more interesting.

My second happy is a pair of cushions I've made for my eldest niece and nephew who recently bought a house between them as a way onto the housing ladder.  They have a mid-grey sofa with green piping so I've made these out of a piece of fabric I bought earlier this year.  The fabric design sometimes makes me think of a coastal scene and at other times it makes me think of Venice - either way, I knew I wanted to decorate the cushions with "bunting".  I bought half a yard/metre if this fabric, which was enough for two cushion fronts but not the backs, luckily the strip I cut off the top of the fabric, was wide enough to decorate the back...

I used a simple pillowcase construction and attached the strip to the edge of the top flap, the rest of the back was cut from a large piece of cream cotton I bought I few years ago and never used.  The "bunting" is made from the cream fabric too, I wanted to keep it plain so it didn't distract from the lovely green fabric.  I was also incredibly lucky with how the back strip worked out - just enough to be able to place the buildings at the top and some boats at the bottom.

I did the stitching with a mid-grey cotton which will hopefully match with the sofa.  I'd never done machine applique before - it was a little scary but I'm pleased with how it turned out.  One last photo...

My last Happy is a bag I've made for a friend of mine - she loves environmentally friendly shopping bags.  She's also a quilter so the bag needed to be really well made...

I used some more of the cream fabric and added a border of a pretty birdie fabric which I used as inspiration for the machine applique I used on the front.  This shape wasn't as easy to sew around and it wasn't as easy to see what I was doing as the colours were so similar.  The handles are reinforced with webbing and sewn in about 5 times on each end, while the side seams are double sewn so all the raw edges are hidden (I have no idea what that type of seam is called).  The bag itself is made from a single piece of fabric which will hopefully make the bag stronger and give my friend a reasonable amount of use out of it.

Hopefully I haven't spoiled any surprises here as I'm reasonably confident that my niece, nephew and friend don't read my blog.  If any of them come across this before Christmas Day, then please accept my apologies, but I was just so happy with what I've made this week that I really wanted to share  :)

Monday, 18 November 2013

A Year of Happy - 3/52

It's that time of the week when I think of three things that have made me happy in the last week...

The first is that I've made progress on my Secret Santa.  The first part of my gift is reasonably straight forward and is now completed.  The second part will take me into a more unknown territory of crafting but I've been out today and bought the supplies I'm going to need and I always love a good crafting challenge.  Obviously I can't show you a photo of what I've done so far in case my Secret Santa recipient should see this, so the only way I can illustrate this "happy" is like this...

My second "happy" was spending time with friends on Wednesday.  I'm finding that I'm struggling so much with my health lately that I spend a lot of time on my own at home. This month Craft Club, which runs fortnightly, fell on the same day as Fibro Group, which runs monthly.  I rather stupidly decided I could manage to attend both.  Fibro Group was fine, I really enjoyed it and went home determined to have a proper rest for a few hours before heading out again for Craft Club. Unfortunately, relaxing is something I'm not very good at, no matter how tired I am!  We'd decided to only spend an hour at Craft Club which I also really enjoyed, despite feeling pretty rough by the end and feeling even worse for the rest of the night I did make progress on my current crafting project thanks to some assistance from my friend Clare from "Summerhouse by the Sea", I think I'd have really struggled with what I was doing without an extra pair of hands!

My third "happy" was the relief of remembering I had a spare bear stashed away that was just perfect as a gift for a friend's daughter's birthday present.  Hard to believe that "E" is now 16!!!  Where does the time go?  E is often one of the first people to like teddy photos I post on Facebook so I'd asked my friend what colours her daughter liked.  I was a little worried about being able to complete a bear in time until I remembered my spare bear, named Pixie Belle.  Unfortunately I didn't make it to the party as I wasn't well again, so Pixie Belle is still here for the moment waiting for a meet up with my friend, hopefully one day this week.  I shall have to try and make a couple more spare bears at some point.

Pixie Belle is a little larger than my regular bears - she's around 4 inches tall.  I had to make her bigger to fit the hat I bought at a Hugglets bear fair a few years ago.  I added the charm to the end of the hat as I think reaching 16 is special and worth remembering.  I was told that E's favourite colour is purple, so E and Pixie look like they're meant for each other!  :)

Wishing you all a very happy week.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A Year of Happy - 2/52

Already a late with my second week of 3 happy things - will have to try and keep up a bit better or it might take me more than a year to get through it!

Number 1:

My first happy thing for this week has to be finishing Clarabelle, my 101st bear - this is a biggie for this week as I've been struggling to make her since July!  I don't know whether the push to get to my 100th bear overworked my hands or just left me feeling completely burned out, but I suspect it was a combination of the two things that has left me struggling with "crafter's block" for a while now - finishing little Clarabelle has felt like a real achievement and she's already on her way to a friend who I think has waiting long enough for her new little beary friend!  I'd originally planned for this to be a housewarming gift but as she moved back in August, its more like an early Christmas present now!  LOL

Number 2:

My second good thing is taking a little longer to appreciate... its a certificate from my university - an acknowledgement for the work I've already put in on my degree - its a good thing, I know it is, but making the decision not to go back and finish this year was a hard one to make, but it was also the right one because I know I wasn't healthy enough to go back.  Receiving the certificate felt very final even though I still have the option to go back and finish whenever I'm ready.  However I know that once I've had a little bit of time to get used to the idea, I will be happy about my certificate, it represents four years of hard work that were also happy years of meeting new friends, learning new skills and being pushed out of my comfort zone to achieve more than I ever thought I could.

Number 3:

My third happy thing is much smaller - I went swimming the other day... when I say swimming, I actually mean I went to a pool, not my local one as the water's too cold for my joints, but another one nearby thats much warmer.  I was never much good at swimming as a kid but have since completely lost confidence and usually keep a death grip on the railing at the edge of the pool, but this time I managed to let go for short periods of time as long as my feet were touching the bottom of the pool, so I felt pretty good about my trip even though I suffered a lot of pain afterwards for going.  But even better than that was being able to wash my hair under the showers there, feels so much nicer than when I have to wash it at home laying down in the bath - such a little thing - soft, clean, properly rinsed hair but it's the highlight of my week!

Thought I'd finish with a photo of Bo Bear in her swimming costume, she was my first bear of 2013.

Monday, 4 November 2013

My First Year of Happy Post - 1/52

The way I understand it, you find three things about your week that made you happy and as someone who's been struggling quite a lot with my health over the last year, it does seem like a good idea to look for some positives.  My friend Clare from "The Summerhouse by the Sea" has been doing her year of happy for some time now and it's nice to see the things that make her happy over the course of a week - it seems to me that it doesn't always have to be big things, often it will be small simple things that will bring a out smile.

My first is that I'm grateful to have survived the storm last Sunday night/Monday morning pretty much unscathed.  I was told by one of my neighbours that the storm reached it's peak here around 4am, but I actually slept through that bit, which is better than I managed in the storm of 1987, when it sounded as though the roof was being ripped off - that was scary!  The first thing I noticed in the morning was that my bath had a load of little black bits in it which must have somehow been blown through the extractor fan, I was a bit worried when I went outside and saw a big piece of what was either someone's greenhouse or conservatory roof wedged under the front of my car but amazingly my car didn't have a scratch - we were very lucky, though my heart goes out to the families of those who lost their lives in the storm.

I'd prepared for the storm just in case we lost power, I cheated with the radio - I put batteries in it to save having to wind the handle and checked the batteries in the torch too in case we lost power - I didn't need either but some of the outlying villages around here lost power for several days.  The picture below is of my bedside table with some of my storm preparations - the wooden duck/goose in the background was carved by me when I was expecting my son, my OH used to come to the wood carving classes too but suddenly decided I shouldn't go anymore so I never got the chance to finish, but as its reasonably bird shaped, I've kept it in the hope of being able to finish it off one day.  Perhaps I'll take some close up photos one day so you can see how rough my poor birdie has been looking for the past 20+ years!

My second happy thing was finding my camera's card reader which meant I could download all the photos I've taken recently, including the one below of Dottie the Dalmatian picking out a pumpkin which I took nearly two weeks ago.  We didn't bring that particular pumpkin home because it looked as though it already had a face and I wasn't sure I could bring myself to attack it with a knife when it was looking at me like that!

My final happy thing was spending some time with my seven year old niece today while my sister was at work and the school was having a teacher training day.  We spent a lovely few hours colouring in some Hello Kitty pictures I found on the internet and giving my niece her first sewing lesson, we used the Marianne Design owl die set, but didn't use all the pieces to make it simpler - K did a lot of the sewing and stuffing and I think she did brilliantly, I'm just annoyed with myself for forgetting to pack some glue to stick the googly eyes on with.  I'm now completely exhausted and in agony so its unlikely I'll get much sleep tonight even though I'm so tired, but I don't really care - I had such a great time!