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A brilliant day in aid of the NICU

My son Jack was born by emergency c-section in 2009 and was cared for by the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Wow – what a mouthful…from hereon in, we’ll call it by its better-known abbrevation, “NICU”.

So grateful were we for its amazing care, which has meant that Jack has developed into a happy, healthy nearly-six-year-old boy, that it has become an annual event for us to hold a coffee & crafts morning to raise valuable funds to help them in their work. This year we held it on the 8th August.

So we have been making (me, bags & pouches; my mum, jewellery) and baking to get ready. I was, as usual, nervous that we: a) wouldn’t get enough people come, b) not have enough cake for those that did venture out and c) have a rainy day with everyone cramped indoors. However, after all day spent in the kitchen making cakes, I checked the forecast and could cease being anxious about the latter.

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Saturday arrived, bright and warm, and once we’d rushed around getting everything set up, our invited guests arrived. In their dozens! We probably had over 80 people, which is amazing. People bought bags, purses, jewellery, jam, books and clothes. Bargains were had by all. There was a raffle with prizes donated by friends and local businesses, which was really popular. But we were most humbled by the amount people donated just for coffee & cakes (although they were quite scrummy, even if I do say so myself!)IMG_6454 IMG_6453

On the day, with all the stalls & cakes taken into account, we raised just over £1000 – £1005 to be precise! And there is a bit more than £100 donated on the NICU Just Giving website in honour of our coffee morning. If you go on the site, you will see that our Jack is the baby in the cover photo!IMG_6452 IMG_6446

Once again, then, a massive THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who helped us be so successful, including our volunteer helpers on the day, friends and local businesses who donated goods and prizes, and of course you lovely people that came, ate cake, drank coffee and were totally amazing in your generosity.

The NICU were thrilled – Louise Cook the fundraising manager tweeted to say how pleased they were. Now looking forward to next year! Any suggestions for different things for me to make?!
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One whole week without Jeremy Kyle!

It’s been a funny old week for me. A weird one. But one that I have really enjoyed.

Just before the Easter holidays, I gave up the full-time teaching job that I have loved for 12 years. I won’t bore you with the details; just a few words will suffice – stress, exhaustion, Ofsted, paperwork and lack of family time. Having thought of nothing else for many agonising weeks, the final straw was when my 5 year old son, just a week after the Christmas holidays, said “I can’t wait until the summer holidays Mummy, because then you will have time to play with me again”. Ouch! My life had become a refrain of “Not now, sweetheart, I have work to do”, and putting my job before my family. Because that’s what teachers do.

People that know me will know what a hard decision it was. Yes, I am giving up a regular salary. Yes, I will miss the children. Yes, I feel that I am abandoning the job that I love. But really, something had to give. Either the job, or my mental well-being, family life and relationships. In the end, it was a no-brainer. My little boy’s comments really hit home.

So, at the end of the Spring term, I said goodbye to the lovely school I had been teaching at for 12 years. Twelve years! Where did that time go? I had a fabulous last day full of lovely comments, presents and a super assembly from all my friends and the children. I have refrained from writing about it until now because I wasn’t really sure how I felt about everything.

But now I can tell you. The Easter holidays were the best two weeks I have had for many years. No planning, marking, assessment or preparation for the new term. Just winding down, enjoying time with my family, taking my little boy on outings, actually cooking proper meals and of course doing some sewing. Yay! Time for sewing! Much excitement!

But that was the holidays. The first day back at school was weird. Being a parent first and foremost, and not a teacher (my little boy goes to my old school). I met a couple of other teacher-parents on the way in, one of whom said “I’m really jealous of you”, the other who said “You lucky thing – enjoy it”.  Once I got home I thought “Now what?! Jeremy Kyle and Homes Under the Hammer?!” I don’t know how to be unemployed – I haven’t done it since I was about 19.

But I have filled my 5 precious days with sewing (I have my things in this shop in Norwich and online in my Etsy shop, both of which really need restocking); organising things that I haven’t had time to do for ages (filing, decluttering, etc.) and generally just regrouping and thinking about the future. I also did a day’s supply at a local school, which was great because I went in at 8:15, taught the lovely kids, then left at 3:30. No, people, this is not what teachers normally do!!! But it was good. The best thing was that one day this week, I picked up my little lad after school and then we went to the park! Yes – the park, after school! No getting home, throwing some food together and having just half an hour with my child before bath and bed. It was just lovely.

I have had so many positive comments from colleagues, friends, other parents in my son’s class, and relations. One lovely ex-parent (of a child I taught a few years ago) bumped into me at the castle and gave me a huge hug and said “Well done for getting out!” (her husband is a teacher too, so she knows what it’s like). That really made me feel good. I feel like I am finding myself again. And I hope my family thinks I am a bit more chilled out and less shouty! The house is marginally tidier (miracles don’t happen in a week!) and the home cooking has improved.

Not quite certain yet what the future holds. I am not sure if I can leave completely – I am a teacher and I love to teach. I just don’t like what the teaching profession is at the moment. So I am looking around for what I might do come September. Maybe a short-term teaching contract, maybe part-time, maybe something totally different? In the meantime, I am looking forward to doing some supply days here and there, but I am also busy making bags and bits and doing the family thing. I am really busy and enjoying every minute.

And daytime telly hasn’t even gone on once! Sorry, Jeremy, you’re just not even on my radar.

Sewing · Uncategorized

Knickers to you, madam!

Have been meaning to update the blog for ages. But it’s the end of a busy, busy term at school and I’ve hardly had any time! But I wanted to tell you all about my knickers!

How rude! I do, of course, refer to knickers what I have made myself, madam!

For ages I have been wanting to do the makeplace knicker making workshop. I do like cute knickers and fancied the DIY route! I attended the course as I was a bit nervous of going it alone! I enjoyed it and was really pleased with the results. Although on the downside, thought it was a bit pricey. £39.50  for the two and a half hour course. On the day, it only lasted a hour and a half, presumably as there were only 4 people attending. And I thought for the price, they could have included a cuppa and a free pattern to reproduce the knickers at home. If I ran workshops, there would always be lots of cups of tea!

These are my new pants, handmade by me! I love the colour combination (pistachio andIMG_5586 strawberry ice cream?!)  IMG_5587 IMG_5588

So, yes, those there were proficient enough sewers to be able to make their own pattern from the knickers they’d made. But I think it would have been nice to have provided a free one so as to save a little bit of time having to draft one. I was really pleased with them, though, and quite taken with the idea that they can be made out of upcycled clothing. So on the way home, I bought some more lace and then found a 50p top from the charity shop that I thought I’d chop up.

I made another pair! Both are very comfy and I plan to make several more. I have bought some stripey jersey fabric ready for it! Has anyone else ventured into underwear?

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Some new coin purses on etsy shop!

Having a bit of spare time today (what?!!) due to a cancelled craft  fair that  I was going to do, I have at last got round to photographing and uploading a few of my most recent bits.

I love making coin purses – some of the latest ones are now available  online at www.luckybear.etsy.com and are perfect stocking fillers!

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Will be doing more over the next few days, in time for the Christmas rush!

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Craft fair cancelled

Just to let you know that the Christmas craft fair at the Golden Star pub has sadly been cancelled.

But I am working on uploading all my goodies onto my etsy shop http://www.luckybear.etsy.com for your perusing pleasure!

Some fabrics cut and ready to be made into pouches & purses for my shop!
Some fabrics cut and ready to be made into pouches & purses for my shop!
Sewing · Uncategorized

Feeling tweedy

Well, although the weather here is still very mild for the time of year, my thoughts are gravitating towards chillier times. With Christmas not too far off in the future, I am readying myself for some craft fairs…so stock is needing to be produced! Luckily it’s half term and although I’m having to entertain my little lad by day, my evenings are blissfully full of fabric, thread and all the accoutrements of my craft. Sorry, but I love that word, accoutrements, so needed to get it in somewhere. I promise that’s it for today, though!

Last year, I made some cute little tweed handbags using pieced bits of handwoven Harris Tweed that my lovely Mum brought me back from her hols there. Beautiful fabric, lovely shades and they made sweet little bags. Well, they all sold out (to various parts of the world, including France, Scotland, Canada, New Zealand & Japan, which is lovely!) So I thought I’d better get some more ready for the coming festive buying season!

Well, having not made any for a while, I finally located my pattern but the first took ages as I’d completely forgotten the order I did things in! But the second took a little less time. This time, I have used some regular wool tartans (plaids) mixed in with some of my remaining pieces of Harris Tweed. I do love them, and I think they look great teamed with a lovely coat, some cosy tights and boots. Am hopefully going to get a couple more done over the weekend. Do you like them? I used some lovely vintage buttons to finish them off (I love a beautiful button!)

First one – purple & grey:

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Second one: green & white:

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I am wondering whether to do little matching coin purses to go with them…what do you think? I love these gorgeous tweedy fabrics! Hello autumn!

 

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Forgive me, reader, for I have sinned…

…It’s been more than three weeks since my last confession post and I feel I must make amends.

In my day job, term has begun in earnest and it’s been a manic couple of weeks getting to know my new class and getting myself back into the swing of teachery things like planning, marking, etc. But I wanted to share some exciting sewing news…I have bought myself a tailor’s dummy!

Exciting for me – maybe not so for you, but am feeling very pleased with myself, having secured what is (hopefully) a bargain on eBay. I’ve been after one for ages and have missed out on several by just a few quid. So I decided to up my top price this time and yippee! I won! Once she’s here, I’ll post a photo.  She’s a vintage blue Venus dummy. Any suggestions for names?

So, the next thing is…what to make? I have some lovely fabric given to me by my American sister-in-law that is crying out to be made into a sassy wee skirt – I have already made the Delphine skirt by Tilly & the Buttons (must have told you before how much I love her stuff?) and it is a nice shape, so might try it out on different fabric…watch this space!

Delphine number 1 - in denim
Delphine number 1 – in denim

You can see what other people have done with their Delphine on Tilly’s pinterest board.

Am also really happy to have purchased two new craft books, which arrived in the post today. Chloe Tells You How…to Sew by Chloe Owens, and Stuart Hillard’s Sew Fabulous. My bedtime reading for tonight!

On the making front, I have dipped my toe in the water this weekend with some new coin purses. A friend wanted one and I had a depleted stock following the success of the craft sale in August, so have whipped up a few in some cute fabrics. Am thinking of keeping the spool print one myself, for putting notions in when I go to craft club.

Some wee coin purses
Some tiny coin purses – enough for a credit card and your pocket money

So, anyway, that’s it for now. Be back soon…!

Oh, I almost forgot to introduce the newest addition to the family…this is Rocket and he is nearly 5 months old! Named after Rocket Racoon from Guardians of the Galaxy!

Say hello to Rocket!
Say hello to Rocket!
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A brilliant day in aid of the NICU

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My bag stall

Well, the coffee morning & craft sale in aid of the NICU was an amazing day! We were lucky with the weather, and had nearly 80 of our friends come to share the day with us. There were loads of yummy cakes & bakes, and lots of things for people to buy. I didn’t get much chance to talk to anyone, which was a shame, but it was so busy!

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Yum Yum!
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Homemade preserves from the tree 10 metres away!



 

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A basket of produce grown and donated by the farmer across the road.

We raised, on the day, a massive £726, with more donations coming in online. Amazing! We were so thrilled. A big thank you to everyone who donated goods for the tombola, books and clothes. Also to everyone for coming and parting with your cash for such a worthy cause!

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Getting my stall ready – two days to go!

I’ve been busy over the summer getting things made for a charity coffee & craft morning we are holding on Saturday. I have been stocking up my selection of handmade bags, pouches, purses and little bits and pieces like brooches, hair clips and so on. It’s in aid of the NICU (the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital where my son Jack spent his first two weeks as a baby. The NICU is staffed by the most wonderful team of people – nurses, doctors and other staff – and they saved Jack’s life. When he was born following an emergency caesarian section, he had to be resuscitated for 7 minutes and then spent the first 3 days of his life in the NICU on a TOBY cooling mat

He is going to be 5 next week and is a bright, clever and energetic little boy. You would never know by looking at him that he had such a traumatic start to life, and we are eternally grateful to the amazing care that he received from the NICU. Last year we held a similar event and it was a lovely day, raising lots of cash for the NICU.

So this year we have been busy again, my mum making lovely jewellery & jams, me my fabric bits and bobs, and we’ll also have other stalls (pre-loved clothes and books, homemade preserves, handmade cards and a tombola stall too). All alongside yummy cakes, bakes and cups of tea and coffee! My kitchen tomorrow should look like the set of Great British Bake Off, with any luck! Although no bin tantrums, I hope!  Now, we just need a bit of sun, and lots of friends to show up with lots of pennies to spend!

Lots of pouches, purses and iPad covers ready for sale.
Lots of pouches, purses and iPad covers ready for sale.
Other bits & bobs - brooches, hairclips, tea cosies, bookmarks and mini sewing kits.
Other bits & bobs – brooches, hairclips, tea cosies, bookmarks and mini sewing kits.

 

Jack Day 1
Jack Day 1 – this is why we are raising money – to help all the other babies like Jack.
Jack now - nearly 5, full of beans and a lovely little lad. Thanks to the amazing NICU.
Jack now – nearly 5, full of beans and a lovely little lad. Thanks to the amazing NICU.

 

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Sixties dress – The Simplicity “Jiffy”

Free pattern from Sew Magazine
Free pattern from Sew Magazine

A few months ago, I was pinning things on Pinterest. I came across this pattern in a search for “Sixties Dress”. Lovely, isn’t it? So anyway, I kept meaning to buy it to give it a go. But then a few months ago, I spotted it as the free gift on the cover of Sew Magazine! Haven’t bought that mag for ages (as I’d become a Mollie Makes fan). Really glad I did – it got me back into the magazine big style! It also seemed to match perfectly to the fabric I’d bought in my favourite little vintage shop here in Norwich – Junk and Gems. I think I bought this fabric for £12 for over 2 metres, which is a bargain as I love it so much.

So, anyway, this was the next item in my ‘things to make for me’ list. The pattern is from Simplicity – Ref number K1609 – and is called the “Jiffy”.  It was a pretty quick and straightforward pattern even for a novice dressmaker like myself and I’d recommend it to newbie sewers looking for a simple sixties style dress. I chose the view with the bow – it’s the blue dress on the cover – and set to work. Since making this dress, I have started to keep notes in my scrapbook about each project I make – partly to share with you, dear reader, and partly for when I make it again. And I will – it is a really cute dress and I am going to enjoy wearing it.

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My sixties-stylee “Jiffy” dress, made indeed in a jiffy! I highly recommend this pattern – it’s lovely, doncha think?

Here it is: I’m quite pleased with myself! My notes in my scrapbook say next time, I would choose a fabric with a smaller print – although this is gorgeous, the way the pattern has you cut the front means that the print didn’t quite match up. A bit annoying, but a learning curve. I suppose had I followed traditional sewing advice and made a toile, I would have realised this, but I am not the most patient of people and actually for £12, I had nothing to lose really!

I’d love to know what you think of it! Maybe once I lose the few pounds gained from a summer with a 4 year old eating fish & chips and ice cream at the seaside, I will post a photo of me actually wearing it. I really fancy another one – perhaps in a block colour with a cute little collar like the green one on the pattern envelope!

Has anyone else tried the Jiffy pattern? Would love to see your photos!