Friday, 18 July 2014

Teacher Thank you gift: Smartie cookies

So we had already made a flower pot for Alex's preschool key worker, but I wanted to get a little thank you gift for the other teachers that work there too.

So that in mind I made some cookies, because who doesn't like cookies?!

This cookie recipe actually comes from an Annabell Karmel baby book from years ago, but it is my fail safe recipe for cookies.

Everyone loves them, the original recipe is for white chocolate buttons but I have tried with many different combinations!

This time I decided on smarties!

Cookie recipe

100g/4 oz margarine
100g/4 oz caster sugar
100g/ 4 oz brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
175g/6 oz plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
175g chocolate (for this I used one 140g bag of smarties and the rest was milk chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 180c. Basically mix/beat/stir all the ingredients together in that order. Using teaspoons, place walnut size rough balls of dough onto a baking sheet with baking parchment on. They take 10-12 minutes depending on how doughy you want them.

Take out the oven and cool on a wire rack.

As you can see I packaged them up in a clear cellophane bag once cooled and I had made a stamped tag "thanks for making me a smart cookie". And yes you may have seen a similar tag in my wedding makes the other day!

Find our how we made this thank you flower pot too.
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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Our wedding: 3 1/2 Weeks

So in 3 1/2 weeks time I will be a married woman.

Hopefully the nerves will not have got the better of me and I will not trip up be ill or faint!

I will walk into the beautiful church next to my long suffering Father ;)

Walking to the man I will grow old with, in good times and in bad.

I don't think I will look much at other people, I think I will focus purely on him, I can't wait to see his reaction.

I hope he likes my dress etc, I know it's not his taste if I was to describe it but fingers crossed he will approve!

I can't wait to have that permanent ring (which we still need to buy) on my finger as a sign of our love and commitment to each other!

I am worrying a little about how much we have left to do in these final weeks, all the invoices and final choices are coming through and being made.

Everything is coming in at once.

But I do feel more at ease, knowing my beautiful handmade dress is nearly finished and I should have it this week.

Knowing that my bouquets are being made in safe hands (one of Mum's friends), and hopefully we can get the peonies I desperately want for them.

Via pinterest

Knowing that the bottom tier of our wedding cake is made and ready to go to our cake maker-all 12 inches of it, lord knows how heavy it is, who know fruit could weigh so much?! I am impressed I scaled the recipe up correctly!

Knowing that I have my wedding jewellery bought, thanks Debenhams blue cross sale!

Knowing that I have the perfect hairstyle to suit the dress and look I am going for. A mix of these two styles:

I have the bridesmaids sorted albeit one not being so happy with the dress...
This is style we've agreed on their hair:

And the boys look adorable in their suits from Next! Me and James got a little emotional seeing them dressed up!

This week I have made another start on table decorations-I think I undermined this task! My hands have been turning a shade of purple from the stamping ink!

The guest book is made, I decorated it to match our invites.

I have stamped on handmade tags song lyrics which either have a meaning to us or are cheesy love ones perfect for a wedding!

I also made some signs to let our guests know of our sweet table later in the eve.

So in 3 1/2 weeks I will be Mrs Spencer.

It doesn't sound right to me, it's the aspect of getting married I am most feeling strange about, will I still feel like 'me' I used to hate my surname (mainly due to always being first in exams!) but it is 'me' it's weird cutting that tie from my family and joining James'.  But one thing I cannot wait for is having the same name as our son's on things like school forms, will be finally be a proper family unit together as one.

Bring on the next few (probable stressful) weeks!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Teacher Thank you Gift: chalk painted flower pot

This week is going to be very emotional, it's Alex's last week at preschool.

As with any end of term it's so busy, there are forms flying left right and centre, money for this, money for that. With the wedding plans in full swing it's getting a bit too much, but I am really not looking forward to his last day!

He's been there since September 2012, and has grown into such a confident and fun boy behind those door.

All the teachers are lovely there, and he has had the same key worker throughout, so I thought it would be nice to get her an extra gift (I am planning on making some cookies for them all to share on Thursday).

I remembered something I had pinned quite a while back and have made something.

I bought a small flower pot for about 50p in homebase.

Painted with chalk paint.

Painted ruler lines along the top edge with white acrylic paint.

And then let Alex loose with the chalks, I asked if he could draw his teacher and write his name the other side.

I then wrote "thanks for helping me grow".

I sprayed it all with hairspray to help the chalk stay put.

After that was all dry I very lightly went over it all with a white candle, the wax seems to have made the chalk stay put even better. Please do this very lightly though and you really don't need much, I had a craft sponge to lightly work the wax into the pot. *

Today I bought a bargain flower plant for £1.75 again in Homebase (I think it's a bit big for the pot really but it will be moved out into something bigger I am sure)!

*the chalk does still seem to come off when damp though so if anyone has any tips to stop that from happening do let me know :)

The chalk didn't stay put so instead I painted over the drawings with acrylic paint which worked a treat!

Don't forget to make some teacher cards too-it's lots of fun!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

HELP: Wedding dilemma-When you realise both Mum's have similar dresses for the wedding day!

Right...James and I have a dilemma on our hands. 

This is Mum's dress. Bought way back in the spring. She is happy with it, has all the accessories sorted for it. It's a shimmer shutter dress in a light purple. 

This is James' Mum's dress. Bought this week after buying and taking back about 20 odd dresses in the past few months (no exaggeration). The only dress she has loved. When she showed me I didn't have the heart to say it was similar in style to Mum's, this is a shimmer shutter dress but in beige/gold.

Now what do me and James do? It's not like they are the same colour after all, and they are different styles on top...

But will our Mum's hate us if they find out on the day that their dresses are similar? Or do we tell them and stress them out before when they both seem sorted and happy?

James and I are really stuck on what to do or suggest! Any ideas? I'm scared the colours may look the same in the photos...I really don't want to cause any arguments on the day, or before for that matter!

Friday, 4 July 2014

One first moment I'm not so proud of

You know when you become a parent it's not going to be an easy ride, there will be good time but equally there will be bad times.
There will also be time when as a parent you feel immensely guilty about something that is either your fault or choice.
Walking home from preschool on Wednesday Alex piped up "what are we doing tomorrow, I'm not at preschool?"
Bugger, I knew I'd been rumbled and he'd caught wind of what his friends were up to Thursday: preschool trip day.
The trip day I couldn't take my son on.
Right there and then he burst into tears, and for the first time in his life shouted to me "I hate you, I actually hate you!"
Not going to lie there were tears under my sunglasses too.
You see it was my fault he couldn't go on the trip, I don't drive due to not having the confidence or the money, I don't like going in other people's cars because of anxiety, and I was due to have my wedding dress fitting the same day (which in the end got cancelled). Also because of the wedding we have little cash, and as we only had a months notice James couldn't take the time off either.
My tears weren't just because of that though, the words themselves pierced me, not because of the trip, but because I know I have been a lousy Mum of late.
For some reason I just don't have the energy or enthusiasm, every spare moment I am either making or researching wedding things. Far too many times I have heard Alex ask me to play with him.
He shouldn't have to ask.
I just can't manage my time so much these days, Sam is demanding, he's a climber, likes to tip EVERYTHING out, likes to get his own way and is testing the boundaries (I'm talking terrible two paddy's at 18 months), so I often feel like my time is taken up looking after/stopping him injuring himself and not paying as much attention to Alex.
So those 3 words "I hate you" may have upset me, but I think that is what I needed, to shake me and wake me up. I need to make quality time for both my boys and stop making excuses. They are only little once.  
And of course within minute of those 3 words, we were hugging and saying we loved each other.
The following day he made me so proud making his thank you card for his teachers at preschool, he really enjoyed himself and I enjoyed helping him too-I just need to relax a little with crafting and kids!
Apart from me cutting the shapes Alex did all of this, he enjoyed using Mummy's water colour pencils for the first time. And giggled away using his Crayola crazy pen to do the grass and purple squiggles. The dinosaur feet were his idea before even making of thinking of doing a dinosaur :)
So I guess that's parenting in a nutshell, there will always be highs and lows.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Our wedding: the makings of a wedding dress

Being 5ft and fairly petite I always knew wedding dress shopping wasn't going to be an overly easy process.

Also not wanting a traditional dress with a huge train and big puffiness made dress shopping even harder-as in many bridal shops this was all they had to offer. That or beautiful lace fishtail dress, which at my height after adjustments would look ridiculous!
After a few failed attempts at bridal shops I had a bit of a crush on this dress in BHS. Unfortunately after buying it I had my doubts, and after contacting a few dress makers it actually seemed much easier to make the dress from scratch.
So the dress went back...
I was back to square one, but I knew the style I wanted and I knew I wanted lace.
I actually put out a plea on a local facebook page for dressmakers, or somewhere to buy a dress I had in mind.
A lovely lady contacted me with ideas and details, so I took the plunge and went with someone I knew nothing about.
I am so glad I did though! In May we travelled to Bristol to buy some fabric, I fell in love instantly with some beautiful ivory lace fabric, with stunning scalloped edges. So much better than the heavy lace in the BHS dress, it instantly looked more elegant-even when held against me with the under-layer in the shop.  

I had my measurements taken last week, and literally the quickest sketches talked over. In reality I had no idea exactly what I wanted, and it's so hard to picture what it will really look like.
Today though I got a glimpse, a lace layer  made, a train (yes I know I said I didn't want one... but it's not big or heavy) that is better than I expected, it is beautiful and I think my dress maker thinks so too! It was the first dress that has fit me perfectly, not inches too long, not too big on the upper body.
It was the first time I felt a proper bubble of excitement build up in me, it suddenly all felt real.
I am getting married in 6 weeks, and next week I should have my beautiful dress completed (or near enough) and I cannot wait!
I am so happy I feel like dancing around the house, I can't wait to put my one perfect dress on for real now.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Our wedding- The wedding invites (and instructions)

The wedding invites were made and posted way back in April and we've since had most replies!

Anyway with the wedding taking over most spare minutes every day I have not had a lot of opportunity to post about them yet!

So here they are! 

I had a rough idea of what I wanted to make thanks to pinterest! I was going to use real lace, but with 40+ invites to make it was going to become expensive, so when I stumbled across this purple lace style washi tape on eBay I knew it was a perfect substitute! 

I cut the purple card with a Martha Stewart punch we bought in America, cut lengths of white card and using the glue roll (which I needed quite a few of to complete all invites) stuck the purple border onto the white card- making sure the white showed through the dots on the purple strip. I made sure the white card was about 1cm longer than the main card blank (you'll see why in a sec).

At the bottom of the white card I used the washi tape-how I haven't used this stuff before I have no idea, it's amazing and so easy to use, and if you make a mistake so easy to peel off and try again!

I made 40 odd of these strips, so had quite a production line going on!

For the tag I cut out rectangles on light brown card, which I then punched out the top corners using the corner punch from the same Martha Stewart set. And then used a hole punch for the twine. Once all 40+ of these were made it was stamping stations at the ready with the purple ink and wedding stamp!

Using the same roller glue as before I stuck the purple/white/washi tape strips onto the card blanks, making sure they were as straight as possible (the extra 1 cm comes in handy for this as you wouldn't want them too short). I then cut off the excess card. 

I put the natural twine in the opening of the card, brought it around to the front and thread it through the tag. then tied a bow without pulling too tightly (as it bends the card). Wiggled into a position I was happy with and secured with a glue dot. 

I am really pleased with how they turned out, and was surprised as to how much easier it is making cards in bulk rather than the odd card now and then!

I also made the inserts to the cards, using Photoshop. I used a ornate brush to effectively stamp the background, making it a very opaque purple. Then used 'Alex Brush' for the font. 

Once they were all made of course they had to be finished off with a white wax stamp-everyone loved this! 

I had many compliments about these so I am very pleased, and I think they fit our purple, rustic style we have got planned.

So what do you think?

P.S Oh and note to any brides/grooms to be, no matter how late or early on you send out the invites, the RSVP's will always be late from some people, and you most likely will have to chase them up!