Saturday, April 28, 2012

This Moment. Two Today!

{this moment} - A Friday Saturday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Joining in with Amanda and friends at SouleMama


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blog encounters of the nicest kind

Statue of Liberty
One of the advantages of living a bit closer to home now is that my Mum can come and visit more often and we can leave the kids with her! She graciously agreed to look after all four so that Keith and I could have our first ever vacation without them to celebrate his birthday. We left Jersey on Saturday morning and by Sunday morning we were landing in the island's namesake New Jersey en route to a long weekend in New York.

In the few hours that we were at home we had the pleasure of meeting my very talented blog friend Kirsty and her lovely family for real. Her gorgeous and funny blog is one of my all time favorites. She was also the first person ever to leave a comment on one of my posts which means she has a special pace in my bloggy heart! As crafting crazed mothers of four writing about ex-pat life in France whilst photographing all that we do, we have a lot in common and with precision timing they happened to be practically passing our doorstep on their way to Versailles on the only evening we were in France this Spring Break. It all worked out perfectly and I whipped up dinner for twelve (just two families!) courtesy of our favourite fast but yummy Jamie Oliver recipe the sausage and tomato bake. Try it, you'll be glad you did. We like it best with French chipolatas. Miraculously with eight children running around, we managed to finish a few sentences and were still chatting away way past the kids', and our, bedtimes!

On arriving in a wet and windy New York, top of my places to visit was Purl Soho, store front for the legendary (in the craft blogging world anyway!) Purl Bee blog. The blog has been inspiring my stitching ever since I discovered the wonderful world of craft blogs and I have made many of the projects featured. Visiting the store and seeing the actual projects made for the blog was almost, but not quite, as exciting as meeting a blog friend for real!

The bulky baby blanket that the giant bunny in the window was sitting on was the first Purl Bee post I ever read and it inspired me to start knitting again so that I could make it for Florence.

The shop did not disappoint and I spent an age deciding what to buy. Keith was a good sport and helped me pick out co-ordinating colours, only escaping to the Mac store for a little bit! I came out with quite a stash which should keep me busy for a long time to come.

Rainbow fabric
This colourful collection has already been pre-washed and cut ready to make a birthday outfit for Florence. In a truly craft crazed moment last week I signed up for the Kids Clothes Week Challenge. Spend an hour a day every day for a week to make something for your kids. Clearly I already have plenty to occupy me this week, but the Purl visit at the start of the week combined with Florence's birthday at the end of the week meant I just couldn't resist. Wish me luck!

Loose ends
I spent an hour or two on the plane home sewing in all those loose ends and stitching together this cardigan for Florence that I started before she turned one! A KCWC success - if it fits...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I left my heart in Jersey

It’s Love the Place You Live time again over at Design Mom and this month I’m loving the place I used to live. The Channel Island of Jersey.

Jersey 4
This tiny island, just nine miles by five but with a population of around 90,000, fourteen miles from France, but part of Britain, famous for Jersey cows, and beautiful beaches is where I was born and brought up. My family still lives there and last week we packed all the Berries into our little car and drove four hours to Saint Malo in Brittany to catch the ferry to Jersey.

Jersey 1
Sailing away from the walled town of Saint Malo

The ferry crossing takes just over an hour, you can visit for the day if you want, and the ease of getting there from our house in France has been one of the highlights of our move here. Especially now that there is a new addition to the Jersey branch of the family, my new niece Eva.

Florence was fascinated by her new cousin!

Jersey 20
This is the parish church of St. John. I was baptised and married here, attending a whole lot of regular services in between! I grew up with the sound of the church bell chiming every passing hour; our family home is just behind those red roofs. My sister lives there now and with the new baby it’s a bit of a squeeze to get us all in so on this visit we stayed in a typical old Jersey house now converted into a holiday home.

Jersey 17
Pink is a popular house colour, it accentuates the pink granite that is the local building material!

Jersey 5
The picturesque parish church of St. Brelade, otherwise known as the Fisherman's Chapel

The house was just steps away from our favourite beach at St. Brelade. Beachfront property prices are insanely high, but for a week we lived the dream!

Jersey 2
The soft sand and shallow beach at St. Brelade make it the perfect playground. Too chilly for swimming at this time of year (although we did see lots of surfers) but perfect for acrobatics!

Jersey 8
Jersey 6
Jersey 7

Jersey 11
When you’ve had enough of the sand head out to the rock pools and see if you can catch a crab.

Jersey 10
Good seafood is plentiful here and there are no shortage of great restaurants and beach cafes to choose from.

Jersey 12
This is our all time favourite. The Wayside cafe at St. Brelade.

Jersey 16
El Tico on St. Ouen’s five mile long beach was a big hit too with moules mariniere on the kids’ menu,

Jersey 15
surf boards for sale hanging from the ceiling

Jersey 13
and this view from the table!

Jersey 19
Our family loves the beach so a lot of our time was spent there, but the countryside is pretty too.

Jersey 18
Florence and I took a little stroll around the lanes of St. John looking for cows. They weren’t in their usual field so we couldn't photograph them for you, but we found this patch of bluebells just outside my old school.

From the looks of these photos you would think the sun shone every minute we were there. We weren't quite that lucky. Our week was windy and cold and it did rain, but the good thing about being on a small island is that bad weather quite often passes over quickly and a stormy start to the day can end in a beautiful sunny evening. When we couldn't be on the beach we found plenty to do.

Jersey 21
Always a must see is a visit to the animals at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. The big girls also love the activities at outdoor adventure park aMaizin and as we were there after the British school holidays had ended they had the place to themselves. Like France, the Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. India is currently fascinated by that period in history and she and the rest of us learnt a lot about Jersey's wartime experience at the Jersey War Tunnels. As always there was so much we didn't have time to do.

Jersey 14
I haven't lived in Jersey permanently since I left home to go to university, but I've been lucky to return every year. Wherever in the world I'm living arriving back on the island feels like coming home. As sure as the tide goes out and comes in, I'll be back!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

This Moment. Moules mischief

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Joining in with Amanda and friends at SouleMama


Friday, April 13, 2012

The evolution of a dress

We're off on a spring vacation tomorrow and I have no idea what to pack. One moment it's gorgeous sunshine here, the next pouring with rain. True April showers.

Dress 1
I whipped up this dress for India back when the temperatures were hitting 20ºC every day. Apparently she had to have a sundress for the field trip she was going on in Paris the next day and in a fit of generous parenting I agreed to make her one.

The dress has it's origins in this skirt that I made for myself last summer. It's a Flirting the Issue skirt, a free pattern from Anna Maria Horner. I bought the kit and made it just as the instructions say. I've not worn it much yet, hence no photos of me wearing it but I'm optimistically putting it in the suitcase!

Tunic 1
Once I'd finished the skirt, I was inspired to adapt the pattern to make a little sundress for Florence. I used quilting weight cotton left over from another project and lined it with voile letting the lining peek out at the bottom.

Tunic 3
I made some spaghetti straps using this very helpful tutorial and turned the skirt into a dress. There are three rows of elastic in this version and I plan on letting the elastic out this year so that she can still wear it as a top.

Dress 4
With just one evening to make India's dress, I simplified these two ideas leaving out the lining and turning over 10 centimetres at the top to make the elastic casings. Five rows this time to make the bodice long enough. So far so quick - I got all this done while Keith was putting the girls to bed, but threading all that elastic through took forever! After an hour of threading elastic there wasn't enough time to make spaghetti straps, but I found this cream ribbon in my stash which worked perfectly as a substitute. With no lining to sandwich the straps between, I hand stitched them to the inside of the bodice.

Dress 3
I was ready for bed by this time and India was already asleep so I couldn't adjust the hem. As a quick solution, I sewed a line of stitching two centimeters away from the raw edge and called it a design detail. I was pretty pleased with myself the next week when I found this skirt with the same unfinished edge while window shopping in Zadig & Voltaire. 150 Euros for the Z&V skirt, India's dress, made with a metre of fabric I'd picked up from Eurodif, cost less than 10 Euros!

Dress 2
Stylish enough for a fifth grader!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Weekend

I'm aware that this blog has been turning into a Christmas letter of fabulous things we have done in Paris recently, so to bring it all down to earth, today I bring you this...

Easter 6
...eight months and eight days since we moved into our French house, I finally unpacked the last of the moving boxes! You can see the floor in our basement! I found the beach toys one week before we leave for a trip to the sea! A wet and windy Bank Holiday Monday spent very productively.

In more picturesque and festive news, we had a pleasant and peaceful Easter here with a flurry of last minute making and baking on my part.

Easter 1
Sleepy Bunny bags made with this pattern.

Easter 4 Homemade Hot Cross Buns.

Easter 2
Delicious French Easter chocolate from our favourite boulanger.

Easter 3 Florence's first egg hunt but fun for all the family. Simple Spring basket pattern here

Easter 5
A traditional simnel cake that flooded the oven with butter, but turned out quite good in the end!

How was your long weekend?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Teddy Berry goes camping

Teddy asleep
Here's a little project that I made back in February for India's birthday when I found a wish list on her desk that asked for 'something handmade' in addition to clothes from Abercrombie and a new ballet leotard! I'd seen the sleeping bag on Gail's blog Probably Actually, my #1 sewing blog find of 2012. The pattern itself was designed by Florence of Flossie Teacakes, my #2 sewing blog find of 2012!

Teddy awake
When I saw the original pattern I knew I had to make it for India, even though at eleven she's getting a bit old for such things, because the teddy who inspired the pattern is the girl version of our very own Teddy Berry! The pattern which you can download as a pdf is very easy to follow and encapsulates all the basic techniques you need to make a quilt. Just like making a mini quilt but with a more entertaining end product. I used fabric from a Heather Ross Far Far Away III fat quarter bundle that I bought on a whim while I was building up my stash before we left the States. I've never been able to see myself using these highly pictorial prints for clothing like so many people do, but they were perfect for this project and if you check out the Flossie Teacakes Flickr pool, seemingly de rigueur for this pattern!

Sleeping bag. Detail
I chose to hand quilt the cover so that I could pick out the detail in the fabric design and because I just prefer hand quilting! I doodled a lasso motif and stitched around the outline of the little girl playing with her ponies. If wish I had drawn an outline of the final size of the sleeping bag before I started quilting as you can see I cut it pretty fine at this bottom corner. The pattern calls for you to make a quilt sandwich quite a bit bigger than the finished cover to allow for wiggle room, but if you already have experience of putting together quilts, you could allow for less movement as on this small scale the layers didn't really shift at all and I ended up wasting quite a bit of the precious fabric.

Sleeping bag. Back
Here's the back. Attaching the binding gives you practice at curved corners and hand finishing.

Teddy gets up
The perfect little quilting project to get your teddies ready for camping season! I have three more on my to sew list because of course, every Berry Bear has to have one now!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What a week!

The weather was so lovely last week that I took a little vacation from my life - the one where I make sure my children are fed and have clean clothes - to really enjoy Paris! I've said it before and I'll say it again, the housework will always be there but a week of gorgeous spring weather with Paris on my doorstep is a luxury not to be passed up.

We started the week with a family outing along the Seine on a Bateau Mouche. 100% tourists but a great way to see all the sites in one afternoon!

Tuesday really was going to be my laundry day but when a friend asked if I wanted to see the Robert Doisneau exhibition in the Hotel de Ville, I just couldn't resist another day out in Paris. Halte Garderie was full so I braved another Paris museum with Florence in tow and we both loved it.

On Friday I was back in Paris again this time to meet up with one of my few but faithful blog followers, the delightful Genie from Paris and Beyond. If you read her blog you will know that she visits Paris often, but this was the first time ever that she had been accompanied by her husband! The sun shone down on them from the beginning to the end of their week long visit and knowing what a treat it was for her to be here was the motivation for me to get out and enjoy it all too. We met in Parc Monceau, somewhere else new to me in Paris, but a favourite spot for Genie.

Monceau. Ducks
Florence loved the ducks and chased the pigeons.

Monceau. Side
Then had the time of her life coming down the fastest slide in Paris.

Monceau. Genie
After a very pleasant hour spent chatting, photographing and discovering much that we have in common, Genie and her husband walked off into the Paris spring and Florence and I set off in the car round the périphérique and back home.

On Saturday the sunshine was gone and real life came back with a jolt. I spent the rest of the weekend teaching, what seemed like every English speaking eleven year old girl outside Paris, to sew!

Dresses. Detail
Nine flapper dresses were whipped up for India's school musical. (More on that later!)

And her girl scout troop all made sit-upons at the meeting we hosted on Sunday. We used this tutorial should you be in urgent need of one yourself!

Finally merci to Véronique for so sweetly mentioning me in her post this week and welcome if you are visiting from 'Seattle'!

Now I really MUST go and do some laundry!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...