Saturday, 17 September 2016

Craft Club Box September

This is the second craft club box I have bought and again I was not disappointed. Both boxes so far have included a good selection of sewing notions and haberdashery which have been added to my sewing kit. The projects are aimed at creating gifts for Christmas. Last month was the rabbit softie and this month it is an e-reader case (kindle).
This months box contained:-
  • wadding
  • linen tree fabric, either blue of beige
  • plain cotton for the lining
  • 1m of elastic for the button close
  • a beautiful wooden button
  • crochet trim to add a special touch.
  • instructions
There was also a bundle bag that contained:-

  • 5 clover clips - a great alternative to pins when working with bulking projects
  • 15cm zip
  • 18cm zip  both could be used as a closure on the case or for a pocket.
  • some neutral coloured ribbon, patterned ribbon and navy tape ribbon
It was very easy to make, took less than 2 hours and looks very professional. There is a large pocket on the front for popping in a small notebook and on the back I created smaller pockets to store pens in.
 Overall I am very pleased with the project and the contents in the box and will definitely be making some more of these for friends and family. I planning on using the inspiration boards from the emagazine to try my hand at free hand machine embroidery.

If you are interested in trying out this subscription box go here.
Use the code:-Im a crafty friend to receive a discount on your first order.

(Disclaimer. I bought this subscription box with my own money and all views and opinions expressed are my own. No monetary gain was made from this review.)

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Wednesday Workspace

Tonight I have a few little work related things to be getting on with but as they have the children's photographs on I can't really show then to you. However I can show you how the nursery was set up for todays session. We had another 4 new starters this morning so our numbers are slowly creeping up. I find it a very slow and tedious process which we are going to review for next year in the hope that we can have all the children in much quicker and settle them all together.
 In the water tray we have boats to float, large sea creatures, people and rocks. Some of the children are making up rescue games with a strong narrative as they play. Other children are just delighted to drop the rocks into the water and create a splash. It supports Communication and Language, Personal, Social and Emotional development, Physical development, early maths skills (pouring, scooping, filling), Understanding of the World and Expressive Arts. Basically water play covers most areas of EYFS development.
 In the sand tray we have spades and castle moulds to create their own style of sandcastle. The children have asked for shells and people to add to their play tomorrow. Lots of physical development used in making sand castles and some super peer support in helping each other create the best castles.
 The small world table changes every 2 days or so and I add in and take out elements depending on what the children have asked for. Today we had a campsite with a bridge crossing the river. Tomorrow the children have asked for some dinosaurs to live by the river, so we'll swap them in. This is where we hear a huge amount of language as the children narrate their play. It's also where we see social skills in action (or lack of in some cases!)
 This week we celebrated Roald Dahl day on Tuesday and have been reading some of his poems. To go alongside the poem "Porcupine" we created a make your own porcupine on the play dough table. They have loved this and extended their models by asking for things to make legs and mouths and altering their porcupines into other animals. Play dough supports physical development as the children use fine motor skills to manipulate the dough and tools.
 The art table has had a mixture of free painting and directed art. We have been rolling paint covered marbles to create patterns which we are turning into apples to hang on our "who's who" tree. We leave a name sheet on the table and encourage the children to have a go at writing their name on their art work. 
 Last week some of the children built this amazing train track and have asked for it to be left out. They have taken so much care of it. Fixing bits that are broken and extending the track each day. They have added animals, people and some signs since this picture. I have been blown away by their sustained play in this area and the co-operation in creating and caring for this track.
 The Autumn table is slowly filling up as the children are encourage to bring in things they have found around and about. We have a glut of conkers which I love.
 In the creation station the children are supplied with a variety or mark making materials and crafting tools and allowed to make whatever they want. We have seen cards, fringed book marks, self portraits and lots and lots of snipping! We are going to extend this area as it is very popular.
There are many other areas not described here like our maths areas, the reading space, the role play area and outdoors. I'll save those for another day.
And finally a photo of the tiny bit of crafting I manged to cram in at the weekend. This is a kindle case that I made using the Craft Club Box Kit. It was so easy to make and I will be making some more in the future for Christmas pressies. 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Work/Home Life Balance

This week saw me returning to work after the 6 weeks summer break.
Now I know lots of people have no sympathy for people in education as we get so many holidays and I get that, but I only get paid for 4 weeks annual holiday the same as most employees and  I cannot take those 4 weeks when I choose but always in school holidays, the remaining weeks are unpaid! Plus, I give my all during term time. My set working hours are 37 hours and 41 minutes (?)  but I work way more than that, both in school and at home. I always feel that the more I put into my job the more I get out of it. Not a complaint, just the way I roll.
So this week was filled with training days, prep days, parent meetings and finally the new children. It's always so exciting to meet these tiny people and start to get to know them. We spread our intake over a few weeks so that we can get to know each child well and help them settle into the nursery routine. There are assessments to do and art work to create but mostly it's a time of making friends and discovering what nursery has to offer. And it's busy, boy is it busy! Which means I am dog tired. I get home sometime after 5pm having been at work and on my feet since 7.30am and I just want to sleep. But there's dinner to make and chores to do and more school stuff to sort. And already after one week I am feeling wound up and unable to relax. What is the answer? Where is the work/home life balance?
My second daughter moved out on Friday, she's in her final year at Uni and felt it was time to spread her wings. I wasn't there to help her, I was at work, with other peoples children while my own child flew the nest. She hasn't gone far and can pop home anytime she needs to but I wasn't there and it breaks my heart. I love my job, really I do, but it consumes my life, I can't switch off. Even in the holidays I'm thinking "oh we could do that at school" or I see something in the shops that would be perfect for ... I need to find a way to be present at home as much as I am at work. What the answer is to getting the balance right is uncertain. Education in the UK is becoming so stressful, we asked to jump through hoops and when we are just about there they raise them higher. We as educators are never good enough, there is always something more we should/could be doing, no matter how hard we work there is always something else we should be doing. And in all of this I ask "What about the children?"

It's time to rethink my life.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Craft Club Box

This is the most recent subscription box I have bought.
I saw the advert on a social media site and thought I'd give it a go. 
For just £13 a month (inc p&p) you get enough fabric bits and pieces to make at least one project. The price also includes access to an e-magazine which takes you through the project in detail and offers additional ideas in using all the goodies inside the box.
I decided to give it a go as, even though I am experienced in sewing, I seem to have lost a little of my mojo and I'm hoping this will spur me on to start sewing again.
So what was inside the box?
Well first off the box was small, small enough to fit through my letterbox which is a brilliant idea, no need to wait in for the postman.
This months kit is to make either a bear or a bunny. They weren't able to send enough stuffing to make both but it will be easy enough to do it at home.
So, inside the box was:-
  • 30x40cm natural linen
  • 20x25cm light pink cotton fabric
  • 15x15cm wool felt in white and candy pink
  • toy stuffing
  • black embroidery thread
  • 1m of 3mm lilac ribbon
  • 1m think pink elastic
  • 1m white ric rac
These are the materials needed to make the project. More than enough, so I will probably be able to make both softies just adding my own stuffing.
Also inside the box was a number of extras so you customise your creation and the e-magazine had plenty of suggestions. These are the extras:-
  • A fat quarter of pink cloud fabric
  • 1m pink printed ribbon
  • 1m padded heart trim - very pretty
  • 1m pink bias binding
  • 1 rabbit button
  • 1 bear button
There were lots of clear photographs for inspiration and links to sites offering free patterns . They suggested making clothes, pillows and bedding for your softie. I need time to follow the links and decide what I will make.

I feel the box is good value for money and I am looking forward to giving it a go. I have already printed out the pattern, so that's a good sign I think.
For more information look here.

I'll leave you with a picture of the mermaid I created with the Little Box of Crochet kit.

(Disclaimer. I bought this subscription box with my own money and all views and opinions expressed are my own. )

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Wednesday Workspace.

Today is all about finishing off those little jobs I need in my classroom.
Cupboard labels, draw labels, etc.
I want to be able to relax in my final week of holidays, knowing everything is done and ready for the new term.
The nursery is just about set up, but looks very bare without any of the children's work on display. That will soon change though. Here's a little peep inside.
This is our "Who's Who" tree. Each child will have their picture taken and added to the tree inside an apple. This is in our cloakroom.
Their draws are all labelled up and ready to be used. In the background you can see the kitchen area. It's also where our sand and water trays are kept.
These are the self registration apples. Each child finds their name/picture and sticks it onto the felt trees which are on the side of this unit, so we know who is in nursery. Of course most of the children need prompts to complete this task in the first few weeks. We have green apples for the morning children and red apples for the afternoon children.
Here is the start of our home corner. The children get to decide which resources need to be added as the weeks go by. We add or remove items to facilitate their needs. Last year they children wanted a home laundry! So we removed the cooker/fridge and added ironing boards, a washing line, and lots of things to wash.
This is our reading corner which I am busy revamping. It needs the chairs covering and some big squishy floor cushions, then I'll be happy. The children like to share books in here. I also add book bags so the children can retell the story with puppets and toys. This was very popular last year.
This is going to be our Autumn discovery area. On the table I have placed Autumn word cards with pictures. The table is then covered with a clear plastic table cover and objects that match the words are placed on top. The idea is that the children handle the objects and match them to the word cards which remain safe under the plastic. We will add their pictures and discoveries as the weeks go by. Plus we will be going on an Autumn walk in the local area and will capture some action pictures for this space.
I hope you have enjoyed this little peek inside my working world. I'm going to try and take a walk about video or the whole setting in the next few weeks. So watch out for that.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Wednesday Workspace.

What's on my desk?

Felt gingerbread men. I'm trying to get ahead for the Christmas stall at nursery. It's our biggest fundraiser of the year, so the more I get done, the more we'll make.
Felt gingerbread men, ribbon, thread and Christmas buttons from Paper and String.
Feather journal/dori from Lyra and Co

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Little Box of Crochet - August Unboxing

Today the August Little Box of Crochet arrived and I just have to share it with you.
Of the 5 boxes I have bought, this months is by far my favourite.
As always the kit arrives beautifully packaged in it's own little box. Each month the box is a different colour and they are great for keeping little notions inside once you have finished the project.

Inside wrapped in pink tissue paper were the goodies.
First up was the pattern booklet. This month it has been revamped with a new graphic designer Kayti Peshcke who is working with Amanda. This months kit is to make Marina Del Ray and Bob the Fish designed by Pony Mctate. Isn't she adorable?

Under the booklet I found a gel eye mask that Amanda said is great for hay fever eyes. Well I have had it on my forehead this morning as I had a headache and it works wonders for that too. There was also a cute fridge magnet of a mermaid pug by Anita of Sugar and Sloth. So cute.

Underneath I found the kit supplies. Yarn by Scheepjes: Catona Denim a variegted yarn, Catona for her skin and Lizzie to add a bit of sparkle. Great Yarn to crochet with and Amanda often chooses this yarn in her kits. There was a bag of stuffing, a crochet hook, a darning needle, black tread for eyes and sequins in a little bag. As always a generous amount of yarn is included.


And finally another beautiful stitch marker from Beth at Korutmi. A tiny delicate pink pearl sea shell. Love this so much.

I really can't wait to get started on this project, it's just so cute.

If you want to receive a Little Box of Crochet there is a waiting list but you can join it by going here.

Hopefully I'll have pictures to show you in the coming few weeks.

( Disclaimer :- I purchased the Little Box of Crochet with my own money and my review has in no way been influenced by anyone, nor any monetary gains made from it.)

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Around the World In 80 Days, sock knitting subscription.

Monthly Sock Club

5th Monthly Sock yarn club " Jules Verne around the world in 80 days " 
For the last 4 months I have been participating in a monthly sock club. Now my sock knitting history is quite poor. I like the idea of knitting socks and I know how to do it, but once I have completed 1 sock I totally lose interest in knitting the second one. So I have a box full of incompleted sock projects. Despite this bad habit of mine I decided to embark on the the journey with Jules Verne.
Month 1 London
The sock club is created by Rosemary Davis, who is a spinner, knitter and yarn dyer. She has an online Etsy shop which is where I found Around the World In 80 Days sock club.
Each month you receive a skein of hand dyed yarn that ties in with Phileas Fogg's journey. There will be a pattern from a Ravelry designer. A mini skein that will be used to create a pair of totem pole socks, some stitch markers that match the counrty Philieas is visiting and 1 or 2 small gifts for example, a notebook, a bag, something edible or some tea.
Everything comes beautifully wrapped with little sachets of lavender to keep the moths away.
Month 2 Suez Canal
So far I have yet to complete my first pair BUT, I am working on the second sock, so that is a huge achievement for me.
!st sock completed!
Month 3 Desert
 This months box arrived on Saturday so I don't want to post any pictures yet as it would spoil the surprise for overseas customers.
The boxes are always put together well and I think are great value for money as hand dyed yarn is expensive. Hopefully in the next year I will have a post all about the completed socks!

Sunday, 8 May 2016



Scrawlrbox is another monthly subscription box I have been trying out. 
The website states that it's a " mystery box of premium art supplies every month. Inspiring artists of all levels and abilities, with a monthly selection of creative tools and inspiration."
 Each month you receive between 8 and 11 art materials and an art challenge to inspire you. You also receive a piece of art work from a chosen artist usually postcard sized or slightly larger.
This months box was Manga themed. I was extremely impressed with the quality and contents of this box. The picture below shows how the package arrived.
 Inside there was a card giving details of contents, from top of box down:-
  • Art work by Mina Petrovic
  • 4 Graphmaster Duel Tip Marker pen. Alcohol based twin tipped markers with a fine and broad tip. Quick drying  and water permanent. 3 shades of cool grey and a black. 
  • Graphmaster Duel Tip Marker Pen colourless blender to mix tones and blend the shades together.
  • Sakura Pigma Blush Pen. The pen had a fine brush nib that can draw very fine lines or broad strokes.A non bleeding ink that is waterproof, fade resistant and quick drying.
  • Sakura Gelly Roll (white) Archival quality, will not fade or smudge, perfect for adding highlights to work.
  • KohI-I-Noor 10H Graphite pencil.
  • Graphmaster Permanent Liner (set of 3) Alcohol based water resistant black permanent liners. 0.4 0.6 1.0 tips.
  • 3 sheets of white paper.
I have been impressed with each box I have received but this one has been the best so far. All the materials work so well together and are of a high quality. The only item I find hard to get to grips with is the 10H pencil as I prefer softer pencils.
The challenge was Manga Yourself and the leaflet provides links to tutorials on drawing Manga. I've never tried it before so had a little go. Certainly more practice required but enjoyed my first attempt.
Manga challenge
( Disclaimer - I bought this box with my own money and the views expressed are my own. The description of the products is taken from the leaflet . )

Sunday, 1 May 2016

New Planner

So this week I'm going to show you my new A5 planner that arrived in the post.
Last year I bought my planner from personal-planner after a recommendation from a friend. You get to choose your own layout, design, colours, covers and extras. It arrived very quickly and I have never been without it since. So this year I ordered the same style but with new front and back covers. I kept the vertical layout as it works for me and added a timetable to the back along with extra lined paper.
You chose a ruler and a pen plus the colour of your planner band. 
The planner comes with clear plastic covers that I have found very hard wearing and an inside plastic pocket that I use for planner stickers or memo notes. The pages are a lovely thick quality and there is plenty of space for adding stickers and planner accessories.
Here is an example of how I decorate my planner. The stickers are from EllieBethDesignsUK on Etsy, one of the best planner sticker makers in the UK.
So here is the new planner. The picture on the front is one I took last summer. I love that you can customise with your own pictures. It starts on 1st August, you get to choose your start date, and I wanted mine to run from the Summer holidays right through to the end of the school year. I can't wait to start decorating and using it. I'll show you some weekly planner spreads in another post.
(disclaimer - I bought this planner with my own money and the views and opinions expressed are my own. I do not receive any monetary gain from this review.)  

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Little Box Of Crochet

I have been trying out a number of subscription boxes over the last year and here is a review of the most recent one I received.

Amanda Bloom's Little Box Of Crochet.

I came across this box via a friend on a social media site.
Each month you receive a cute little box filled with all you need to complete a crochet project.
Amanda started the subscription box after her daughter became ill and she needed to find work that would enable her to care for her daughter, but also be rewarding and fulfil her need for creativity. You can read her story here:Amanda's story. A truly wonderful way to work.
So what's in the box?
The first thing that struck me was how beautifully wrapped it all was. The yellow box is so cheerful and very sturdy and the contents were tightly nestled in pink tissue paper.
Inside I found a booklet with the written pattern and information about the designer, the yarn and the stitch marker maker. The pattern itself is well written with clear photographs to accompany each step. This months designer is Alia Bland from The Little Bee. Check out her site.
 There were 5 balls of Rico Cotton Essentials DK yarn weighed for the project. I have used this yarn before, it is a strong cotton for detailed crochet as it holds it shape well. The colours are also very vibrant. I do find that it splits very easily though which can be frustrating in crochet especially when working on small items.
Also included was a 3.5mm crochet hook, a darning needle, a project bag, a herbal tea bag and a really cute stitch marker by Beth Chapman of Korutumi
It's a beautiful project box and this morning I made a start on the project Bellberry Garland. It is quite intricate but using easy stitches like dc and tr it's easy to follow. Even a beginner able to do these stitches could follow, as the photos are so clear.
Here is my first little bellberry. Looking forward to completing them all.
For details of subscriptions look here:-subscriptions

(I bought this subscription box with my own money and the views and opinions expressed are my own.)