Nursery Trends 2017

Does anyone else spend far too long looking at ideas for home decoration on Pinterest, especially the Nursery Decor pins? There are some amazing ideas on there, and the top tips for trends this year are just so much fun! I get a bit carried away when it comes to any sort of themed event or project; I want to try to cram as many coordinating items into whatever it is as is humanly possible. I’m not sure what it says about me but it makes me really happy when everything matches and fits together well! I’ve made a short list of my favourites here and have included links to Pinterest boards that I have made for each one, so that you can look at all sorts of cool things with only one click!

#1 Mountain Wall Murals

I absolutely love this theme! So much so in fact, that I am trying to look for subtle versions, hints and gestures in that general direction for our own grown-up master bedroom which is the next room in our house on the decorating ‘to do’ list. The dreamy misty whole wall murals are ethereal and romantic whilst also being soothing, calm and strong. Along with the idea of mountains come connotations of freedom, fresh air, exploration and challenge which I think are great values to aspire to whether you are a toddler or a grown up.

As for the wall mural itself you can choose from minimalist graphic designs which are barely more than a few grey and white triangles, to detailed snowcapped craggy rocks with a line of spiky dark fir trees in front. I think my personal favourite lies somewhere in the middle with a graduated series of rough edged mountains fading from dark to light grey as they get higher up the wall (and figuratively further away).

If all the black, white and grey sounds too clinical, it can be softened and warmed with some natural wooden elements and textured fabrics. I particularly like really chunky knitted throws and cushion covers at the moment.

#2 Cacti

These prickly items are everywhere I look at the moment: my favourite florist has all sorts of amazing cacti themed goodies in stock; three wonderful random stationary shops that I visited today were all selling cactus rubbers, pens, notepads and stickers; wedding blogs are full of them too; and as for Pinterest – well!

I love how this image seems to combine the characteristics of a cactus – resillient, tough, hardy, independent and able to survive against the odds, whilst still being able to be feminine and beautiful. What more could you want for a little girl’s room?

#3 Sweet Treats

Who wouldn’t love to play in a room like this?! This theme is just full of fun, all about indulgence and a certain amount of nostalgia (I’m sure ice cream tasted better when I was small!) There is an abundance of amazing creations available on etsy and other sites to fit with this theme, the only problem you might find is knowing when to stop – be careful not to get cavities!

#4 Giant Flowers

I have had a go at making a few giant paper flowers in the last few years and they are trickier than they look, but as a big cascade, wall hanging or spray pinned around a window or door frame, they can be absolutely stunning. I think this trend has drifted over from party decor; people loved it so much that they want to make these giant flower displays a permanent feature of their homes.

The only think I worry about with these is that after a little while they may fade, or get a bit tatty (depending on how much day light your room gets, what paper you use, and perhaps more importantly what kind of toddler you have) so if I was going to go down this route I think I would look into felt and fabric flowers rather than paper ones.

So there you have my four favourite nursery trends for 2017. What do you think? Have you been inspired? Are you, like me, seeing cacti EVERYWHERE? I’d love to know what themes your little one’s rooms have and how you chose them! I’m off to paint some more bespoke Valentines cards (more on them next time perhaps) and hopefully to get cracking on some new products that tie in with these awesome themes.

Until next time!

 

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Hello 2017!

2016 has been a very hard year for a lot of people, which makes me even more grateful that I have had, probably, my best year ever. I hope 2017 is going to be even better (and I’ve got a good feeling about it already!)14045708_1228357873851538_5625580157732720006_n

I am so lucky to be living in my own home with my fantastic little family. My fiancé Bryan makes me laugh every day, and our son Douglas, now a very articulate and funny two year old, amazes me more and more as he grows! Our little home is slowly getting redecorated and organized, although there is a lot more work to do!

 

Another thing that I am really happy about, is that I love my day job. being a teaching assistant in a nursery is amazing, I get to work with fantastic tiny people who are just so full of fun and wonder at the world around them, and then I get to go home and not think about work until the next day! (Anyone who has taught or is a teacher will understand that getting home without a constantly expanding to do list, and words like progress, data, reports, parent consultations buzzing around in your head is a really wonderful thing – I cannot recommend it enough).

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Another great thing about my day job is that it leaves me with free time as I only work part time. I can spend time with my son, which means the world to me. I can keep on top of the housework (just about – probably another blog post worth there about my struggles with organization / de-cluttering and time management!) go for walks, spend time with family and friends and I can paint.

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Being able to devote time to being creative, without feeling guilty has been such a wonderful thing for me. I always dreamed of being an artist. And although it’s still early days, in the last year I did make 15 sales. That’s 15 pieces of my art out there in the real world, hanging on people’s walls, being looked at everyday. It makes me feel pretty humble, amazed and very proud all at the same time.

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So how is 2017 going to top all of that I hear you cry?! Well for starters – 2017 is the year my fiancé and I will finally get married! It’s going to be a busy time but I am so excited! We’ve just sent out our save the dates, and most things are booked, so my next jobs are to work on the full invitation designs, and find wedding shoes, plus practice my hair. I should say we are eloping to Scotland (where Bryan is from originally) with our little boy and parents in tow, for a romantic, private ceremony and then when we get back home we are going to have a big fun party for everyone else we know!

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As if that wasn’t enough, I am eager to build on my successful first year as an etsy shop owner, developing new products and hopefully building up stock for some craft fairs.

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Finally (at least for now) I am setting myself of getting fit and healthy before our wedding. I want to be the best version of me when I say I do, and if a wedding isn’t the best incentive, then I don’t know what will work! I don’t want to set unrealistic goals or vague resolutions though. ‘SMART targets were one of the most useful things I learnt to use while I was teaching so that is we here we are going to start: effective targets should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and realistic and time bound. So to begin with we (Bryan is doing it with me) are going to do 15 minutes of yoga every night once little man is in bed, with one night off a week.  Once we’ve done a month of that, we can evaluate and set some next steps!

Happy New Year to all of you out there! I’d love to know what your goals and resolutions are!

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#justacard

Who doesn’t love receiving exciting post? Aside from Birthdays and Christmas, there aren’t many times in the year when you can actually look forward to the post being delivered. Usually I find a small heap of utility bills, flyers for local corner shops and junk mail trying to encourage me to take out a ridiculous loan or another credit card – with a special offer ‘just for me‘!

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Occasionally however, you do find something exciting. A hand written envelope, maybe in a familiar hand, with an actual stamp stuck on the front. I love those days.

Recently I have received some hand made thank you cards from friends and family after birthdays and weddings that we have gone to. And these cards really do bring a lot of sunshine into my home. The fact that someone has taken the time to make and write a card rather than just send a text or email, the fact that they have chosen something they think you will like, and something that you might want to keep, makes receiving a card all the more special. I have several of these kinds of cards up on my walls here at home, and they never fail to make me smile!

Some people dislike the commercialization of high days and holiday, with card shops selling a card for just about every day of the year now. And I have to agree, I am guilty of rushing into those shops, grabbing a passable card, and quickly scribbling something on the inside because I have left it till the last minute, … again. I think my family must either despair at me or have a running bet going on ‘how late their birthday cards will be this year’. I always feel terrible about this though, and with that in mind, and my ongoing quest to become a more organised, efficient and stress free person, I decided to do something about it. Or at least I am going to try.

I have started making my own greetings cards for friends and family whenever they are needed, and sometimes just because. I hope that they will bring a smile to the recipients, and at the very least that they will realise that as I sat drawing and painting a special card for them, I was also taking the time to think about them.

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My motives are not entirely altruistic of course. I hope to develop a range of cards that I can add to my birthday banners and canvas letters in my etsy shop. Also a card does not take as much time to design as my other arty projects so I can fit making them in around my other daily jobs, whilst still feeling like I am spending some time being creative.

With cards on my mind I was intrigued when I read about the #justacard campaign, and after having read more I think it is a fantastic idea. If you don’t have the time to make your own cards, but want something more personal than a mass produced, high street shop offering, I would highly recommend that you look on etsy, or in your local crafty shops for hand made cards. These mini works of art are so much more special than the other kind and I for one would love to open up my post in the morning and find one.

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Thinking about other craftpeople out there and wanting to share their beautiful work I had a good nose around etsy today and came up with this treasury.  Based on a ‘hand painted floral birthday card’ theme, I was mainly thinking about my mum’s birthday that is coming up in a few weeks.

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The only problem is that I want to get all of them for myself!

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s blog? Do you have any hand made cards that you display proudly as art? Or have you been inspired to search out a hand made card for the next special occasion you have coming up? I would love to hear from you!

As ever have a super week!

From Gemma

 

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My Garden – a work in progress

It is a very exciting time of year at the moment. Things are happening in my garden, seeds are sprouting, trees are blossoming and everything seems to be bursting with life.

When we moved into our first grown up, family home in October 2014, the garden (as you can see in the picture above) was a blank canvas; a patchy green slightly sloping rectangle of grass. The garden, and its potential, were one of the things I first fell in love with about this house. I grew up in the countryside with a huge garden, and had really missed having my own green space while we lived in a flat as a young couple. I couldn’t imagine my baby not having their own garden to toddle around in,  so we started house hunting, with a garden at the top of my list.

Eventually after a few false starts we found our house and once we moved in set about turning it into our home. In the garden we dug borders and started planting. I was very lucky to be given lots of plants from my mum’s garden, including some Hydrangea cuttings, lots of Forgetmenots and Cosmos. Where we had turned over the soil at the back of the garden,  we were delighted to see that a whole forest of Poppies sprang up and bloomed throughout the summer last year.

As the Summer drew to a close we decided to paint the fence and settled on ‘Coastal Blue’ as I wanted something brighter and more interesting than the brown that all our neighbours seemed to have. We have also added some trees to the garden – a Cherryalmond which has beautful frilly blossom, and an apple tree.

Below are some pictures of the garden this year. It still obviously needs a lot of work, and we are still recovering from the fence blowing down. Instead of putting up a new fence, we decided to plant a hedge. Thinking about the hedges I used to walk past down tiny country lanes on my way to school each day we chose a selection of native hedgerow plants including Hornbeam, Guilder Rose, Hawthorn, Field Maple, Dog Rose and Wild Privet. These will hopefully grow happily into a lovely, interesting hedge that will provide colour and structure all year round, as well as being really good for local wildlife. Last year I also planted Sweetpeas, Cornflowers and Wallflowers (ready for the following year). This year we are hoping to create an even more spectacular show with a living teepee covered in peas and runner beans. We have planted more sweet peas, and we are having a go at sunflowers as well. My little man is loving having so many pants to water!

I can’t wait to get out there each day to potter about and see how all the plants are growing and changing. Even more exciting is the fact that my little man absolutely loves being out there too, and even though he is not even 2 years old yet, he has a great understanding of the basics of how plants work. He walked outside yesterday and said ‘Ah bootful day! Smell pretty flowers!’ and I couldn’t have agreed more. He loves to ‘dig-dig-dig’ and would happily spend all day watering the flowers. Being outside in your very own little piece of nature is wonderful. I can honestly say there is nowhere else I would rather be. If you have a garden get out there! I’d love to see some photos of your green spaces too!

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Top 6 things to do with a toddler on the Isle of Wight

Hello again everyone! Sorry this is a day or so late this week, we still haven’t quite got back to our normal bedtime routine after the clocks went forward, so my evenings have been cut short, and therefore I haven’t had much blogging time. However the sunny evenings are glorious and it has been wonderful being able to play in the garden after dinner until the midgies come out.

With the lighter evenings here and Summer glimmering on the horizon, I thought I would make my first ‘Top Ten’ list; a list of great things to do outside, with a toddler, on the Isle of Wight, especially if you are here without a car or relying on public transport as we are. I have tried to include a range of days out including some that are free, and some that you have to pay for. Those that you need to pay for however are well worth the money as you can spend a whole day in each place, and several offer you a free return within a week.

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  1. Appley Beach  £Free Our ‘go to’ day out. This is a wonderful large expanse of golden sand shallow water and interesting pebbles and shells. There are several lovely cafes along the seafront here, our favourite being The Dell The food is delicious, fresh and reasonably priced. What is more, if you are lucky enough to get a seat outside you can gaze across the whole of the beach. As well as the cafes, there are numerous play parks and small child friendly walks around and about the beach which should provide enough stimulation and variety for even the most adventurous toddler. There is the small sand park between the harbour and the boating lake, the boating lake itself is great fun, lots of swans, geese, ducks and other waterfowl to admire and feed, the water splash park at the end of the boating lake (only open in the warmer months), the bigger sand park near Appley Tower and Puckpool Park behind the Dell cafe. So if you did somehow get bored on the beach itself, there are many other things to do. If your little one is anything like mine however he or she will be more than happy to spend all day digging in the sand, collecting shells, building sandcastles, throwing pebbles into the sea and running around in such a big, wide, open space! – If you do go to enjoy this beautiful beach however, please remember the tides come in extremely quickly and from the side so it is very easy to get trapped on a sand bank. Please be careful.
  2. The Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary £Free DonkeySanctuary2(Photo from the Donkey Sanctuary website) Small people love animals, and these donkey are wonderfully friendly and gentle. It was first set up in 1987 to provide a caring home for any donkey in distress and has continued to provide a loving and effective service ever since.There is plenty to see and do here, and the cafe is very reasonably priced. Although we haven’t actually managed to get there yet, I know many people, including my little boy’s grandparents, who have enjoyed many lovely days out there. This part of the island is a little more out of the way than other attractions I am suggesting here, but it is served by the number 3 bus every half an hour, and the bus stop is right outside the main entrance.
  3. Amazon World Zoo Park ADULTS   £10.50, CHILDREN (3-14 years old)   £8.50          amazon world We have been here twice in the past month, and both times my 20 month old son really enjoyed it. They seem to be constantly working to improve the visitor experience here and it is really paying off. There are all sorts of exotic and interesting animals to see both inside and outside. The inside parts are possibly a little bit overwhelming for more sensitive toddlers but there is also a lovely open outside area where you can see wallabies, penguins, ring-tailed lemurs, tapirs, and ostriches to name but a few. There are regular events during the day when you can find out more about the animals and even feed some of them.
  4. Isle of Wight Steam Railway  £ Prices vary depending on ticket type and time of year Adult £11.50 Child £6.00 (5-15 yrs) Infant FREE (0-4 Yrs)                                                     12932743_10101085654688032_293126744878302660_n I don’t think I have ever met a toddler who doesn’t like trains. As the daughter of a self confessed anorak I am pretty partial to them too. There is just something very romantic and majestic about the whole steam train experience, the smell, the sounds, the motion in the carriages – I love it. We had a wonderful trip here last week with my mother (the anorak) in tow. We took the number 9 bus to Wootton Station, bought tickets from the ever so helpful guard at the station,and waited for the train. When it arrived, another super helpful guard took our pram to store in the luggage carriage, so there was no fuss about folding it up or lifting it on and off. We settled down in our carriage and enjoyed the train ride to Havenstreet. Once there we  had a great time looking around the ‘Train Story’ museum, the visitors centre, small children’s indoor play area, cafe and play park. One of our favourite parts however was nothing to do with the trains though, we squelched around the, rather muddy, woodland walk with glee! If you have a little person who likes big machines I couldn’t recommend it enough!
  5. Walking from Ryde to Quarr Abbey / The Fishbourne    £free (unless you go in the cafe / pub)

    Even before we had our little boy, this walk was a firm favourite of ours. We would start at Ryde Pier and follow the coastal path around the edge of Ryde, through Ryde Golf Course and on to the lovely wooded parts of Binstead and Quarr. Quarr Abbey has another lovely tea room, woodland walks to explore and most excitingly Pigs, often with piglets! The Fishbourne has a fantastic locally sourced menu and if you are lucky enough to tire your small person out enough for a nap, you might just be able to enjoy a grown up meal in peace!

  6. Osborne House    £Adults  £15 Children (5-15) £9 We enjoyed many lovely days out here last summer, and I am hoping we will repeat that this year too. Queen Victoria’s favourite home may not seem like the first place you would think to take a toddler (sticky fingers and priceless artefacts don’t really mix!) but it really is well worth a visit. The grounds alone provide lovely safe wide open spaces for little people getting used to walking and running to explore. There are several lovely play areas and a gorgeous private pebbly beach which is becoming one of my favourite places on the whole Island. There are interesting little paths, enormous trees, a wide variety of plants and garden styles to interest your little person.The cafes and restaurant are slightly more expensive but you can always pack a pic-nick to keep costs down. Also there are often ways to save on the entrance fee – for example if you use your Tesco clubcard points to buy an English Heritage membership for the year, you get free entry to all sorts of fabulous attractions.

    There are loads more fantastic days out for families with young children on the Isle of Wight. Probably enough to fill a whole other blog post at least! For now though I am going to sign off and enjoy a little bit of peace and quiet while my gorgeous little boy snores! I hope you are all enjoying the sunshine and will maybe consider trying one of these days out this summer. I would love to hear how you found it!

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Easter toddler crafts – in review

We’ve had a fabulous Easter holiday and actually achieved most of the things we set out to, even though at one point or another we’ve all had coughs and colds!

The first crafty activity we tried was making Easter cards for friends and family.

I started by taping some big paper to the little ikea ‘lack’ table we have in the kitchen, then I drew a few wavy lines on in purple, green and yellow to give a suggestion of Easter egg patterns. – this was all while little man was busily eating yoghurt and ‘barnar’ (banana) safely strapped in his high chair and not interfering!

Next, once he was all ready to get messy, we chose some paint ( I had already only got out the colours I wanted him to use, lilac, yellow, green and orange). In the last few weeks his spoken language has really taken off so it has been lovely doing different things with him and hearing him try out new words for the first time! I asked him what colour he would like and where I should put it, and he replied each time with ‘g-ee-n dere’ (green there) etc!

Then when we had a good few splotches of paint on the paper I let him play with his brushes, fingers and rollers. I did some too. When the paper and we were both suitably covered in paint, he seemed satisfied so we finished, washed our hands and left it to dry.

Later on when the paint had dried, I cut an egg shaped template out of card. Then I drew round it on the most interesting and colourful parts of the paper. Bigger children could do this themselves. I cut the egg shapes out while he was having a snack in the afternoon, and we chattered about cutting with scissors, why you need to be careful, and the shapes I was making etc.

Finally he helped me use a glue stick to attach the eggs to some coloured blank cards I had lying around.

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Next up were Mary Berry’s Easter biscuits. We love cooking together.  Mixing, measuring and rolling are such brilliant things to do with a toddler. He was very interested in mixing up the ingredients – although he did try to eat most of the raisins!

Unfortunately we did have a bit of a problem in the cooking; little man was just getting ready for his nap so I had to choose whether to take them out of the oven a little early or risk them getting burnt while I got him off to sleep. I took them out a few minutes early and they looked OK, but once they had cooled they were still a bit soft. They were tasty nonetheless but next time I will make sure I plan the baking time better!

The second cooking activity we tried was much more successful! Making Easter nests is such a brilliant simple task that we were able to really enjoy all of it with no stresses at all. We started by scrunching up the shredded wheat in a bowl. Once little man saw what I was doing he took over and really enjoyed using his hands (washed of course) he pulled some fantastic faces while he was doing it too – great ‘characteristics of effective learning – playing and exploring’ evidence!

 


When they were all thoroughly crunched and crumbled, I melted the chocolate in the microwave (little man was not impressed with this – he wanted to eat it all) then we mixed it into the bowl. Once it was well and truly coated we scooped it into the cupcake cases together. He enjoyed putting the cases in the holed in the muffin tin too. Next I asked him to put the mini eggs onto each nest – which he did really well although he was a bit confused by the fact that these eggs were hard and he couldn’t crack them. Finally we put them into the fridge to set. Easy and yummy!

The last activity we did was potato printing to make Easter wrapping paper. We both really enjoyed this activity – perhaps because we were out in the garden and it was a sunny Spring morning. I prepared the potatoes while little man was busy doing something else, then I spread out some Easter-y colours on plastic picnic plates that we use for paint now. Top tip for printing – you need the paint to coat the potato thinly if you want to be able to see the patterns. If the paint is too thick, the splodges will squish all over the design.

As you can see he got really stuck in, exploring the colours and different mark making techniques. I also had fun filling in the gaps and making sure all the paper was covered. We left the paper to dry in the sun and then had even more fun washing the plates and our hands in a washing up bowl of bubbly water in the garden too. Needless to say – when we were finished we both needed to get changed!

The only thing we didn’t get around to doing was painting the polystyrene eggs. I have squirreled these away for next year though! All in all it has been a brilliant Easter holiday and I am really pleased that we had so much messy fun!

I hope you all had a lovely holiday too. What did you get up to?

 

 

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#Marchmeetthemaker – part 2

It’s Monday again already – where did that week go? I know I posted my last blog a few days late so that isn’t helping but even so. Time flies when you are chasing a toddler around!

As promised here is the second half of my #marchmeetthemaker rundown. I’ve noticed that last week I got muddled up with numbers 15 and 16 so I’ll start with 15 here and skip straight to 17. Hope that makes sense!

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Day 15 – Inspiration

On of my absolute favourite parts of being a Primary School Teacher was reading all the amazing picture books that are around at the moment. Now that I am a mummy I love snuggling up with my little man and reading through all sorts of books. I had a very proud moment yesterday when he woke up and the first thing he said was “book?” so we had a lovely lazy morning reading through most of Julia Donaldson’s back catalogue. I have always loved reading, and in particular with picture books I love how much more detail you can find in the illustrations. With my initial canvases I try to add lots of detail so that, in a similar way, you might keep finding new details each time you look at them.

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Day 17 – photography

One of the things that I feel I have improved most since taking part in #etsyresoulution2016 is my product photography. Thanks to all the hints and tips in the webinars, on the Facebook group and through seeing everyone else’s work, I have really made an effort to make my pictures look more professional. I invested in a pop up light tent and lamps. I have worked on adjusting white balance, staging my products, and editing photos after they are taken. One of the best tips was to create backgrounds using free samples of wallpaper from B&Q on pieces of cardboard.

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Day 18 – Shelfie

Over Valentine’s weekend this year, my fabulous fiance built these shelves, and I am delighted with them. I am still working on decluttering and staging them but I love the fact that I now have a space to keep all my arty bits and pieces where little fingers can’t get to them.

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Day 19 – helper

Here is a picture of me, around this time last year, with my gorgeous little bundle ‘helping me’ paint a bespoke birthday banner. Of course he can’t really help me much in any practical ways, and usually I have to wait until he is asleep to get any painting or photography done, but in another way he is my biggest help. If it wasn’t for him coming along, I wouldn’t be doing this at all. During my maternity leave I got back into painting and making things in a big way. I loved the fact that I had time to think creatively and pursue projects for myself (even with a small baby in tow!). Add to that the fact that the thought of going back to work full time and leaving him was just impossible for me to bear, and so I decided to do something about it (with the fantastic support of my other half). I left teaching and got a less stressful part time job as a teaching assistant – which I adore. I now have time to be the kind of mummy I want to be (or to try at least), and also to continue painting and making things, and seeing if I can really make a go of it. After all I want to be able to encourage him to pursue his dreams and do what makes him happy as he grows up, so I really ought to lead by example!

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Day 20 – Sketchbook

I haven’t got a specific sketchbook for my buisness work (I know I really ought to have a proper sketch book – it is on my to do list – we’ll get to my organisational skill, or lack of, in a minute!) But I do like to draw out my designs on paper first for customers to approve, before I start working on canvas or fabric.

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Day 21 – Work clothes.

I think I labelled this one pretty well.

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Day 22 – Best Seller

These flower birthday banners have sold more than anything else I have made so far and have gone all over the country – and also all the way to Gibraltar. I would love to get some more international orders!

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Day 23 – Studio Playlist

I have to have music on when I am working. Often it is just the radio, but if I can get the chance, these are some of my favourite albums. I really like listening to a whole album, especially nowadays, it seems really indulgent! I think I know all the words to all of them. In case you’re not sure what they are:

Word Gets Around by the Stereophonics

Hot Fuss by The Killers

Neon Bible by Arcade Fire

White on Blonde by Texas

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Day 24 – Packaging

I am still working on packaging my work in line with my branding but I really like the way these parcels looked before I wrapped them in bubble wrap and many more protective layers ready for posting.

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Day 25 – Colour/Texture

For this day I chose an original painting I did several years ago, it contains lots of my favourite colours at the moment, and also lots of different textures created by layering different glues, paints and powders.

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Day 27 – Routine

My day revolves around my little man and his routine, but equally as any parent knows, the joy of small people is that they keep changing the rules! So as far as routine goes in terms of my painting, its pretty much – “Quick – he’s asleep – what can I do?!”

Day 28 – Organisation

I looked around for a quote that summed up my lack of organisation and this was among the best. I want to be organised, and I am getting better (although I’ve been saying that for years) but for now I am quite happy in my slightly scatterbrained way.

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Day 29 – In action

For this topic I posted the time-lapse video of me painting my jungle canvas. You can watch it here.

Day 30 – Books or Blogs

I chose to photograph two of my favourite books for leafing through for ideas for this challenge. I love books, I would love to have a whole room full of books. I read novels as often as I can. I’ve already said how much I enjoy reading with my son. And as for art books – they just call out to me from the book shop window!

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Day 31 – customers

One of the best thing about making birthday banners is getting to see them being used as part of such an important day in a family’s life. I love getting feedback and pictures from my happy customers. Here are a few examples.

So there you go! That was my #marchmeetthemaker experience. I hope you found it interesting? Next week I am hoping to show you all how we got on with our Easter toddler craft plans. Have a lovely week – especially if, like me, its your last week off before going back to work!

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#marchmeetthemaker

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Last month I took part in @joannehawker‘s #marchmeetthemaker challenge which has been a great way to develop my Instagram account, that had been sadly neglected, into something that reflects my business and branding more cohesively, and also a brilliant way to connect with lots of other amazingly creative people!f3cab0e0a341e26bfcdf838d524cc9eb

 

Day 1 ‘brand image’

As I am in the middle of developing my brand, my brand image isn’t quite fixed yet. On instagram I shared a design I was working on for a new logo (the top right one above with with the rocket) but as yet I haven’t worked this up enough to use properly. Currently I am using the bottom right logo, although I don’t think this really reflects my business or me at all really. I am having fun using canva to develop my ideas though!

 

me!

Day 2 ‘you’

This is one of my all time favourite pictures of me. I am standing in the rain at the amazing Electric Woods in Robin Hill Adventure Park. It is a stunning visual experience, where the gloomy late autumn / early winter evenings are lit up by fantastic light sculptures, and thousands of beautiful lights highlight the gorgeous bare trees and plants. I had wanted to go there since I heard about it, and my then boyfriend decided to take me. Little did I know that he was planning on proposing that very night! – Hence the enormous grin and sparkly ring on my finger! Of course I said yes, and now two and a bit years later we also have an incredible little boy and our own house.

 

Day 3 ‘workspace’

Our cosy little cottage doesn’t have room for me to have a designated workspace (well not yet anyway). So for now I set up our kitchen table whenever I get the chance to work. For Christmas my fiance gave me this fantastic table top easel to help with my painting. I love it.

 

Day 4 ‘tools’

Here’s that easel again, some of the paints, brushes and other bits and bobs I use for painting my initial canvases. I also included my fabric scissors and pins as they come in very handy when I am making a fabric banner.

 

Day 5 ‘can’t live without’

This was a tough one, so I decided to make a montage using the Moldiv app on my phone. It shows my wonderful little family, my mum who is hugely important to me and great fun as well, the radio and ipod (a google search image) are to signify music which I cannot be without, and a cup of tea – of course! I also like the fact that the top two photos are outside, I hate staying indoors for too long. My fiance often sends me out for a walk as he knows I get ‘cabin fever’. Whatever the weather is doing I have to get outside at least once a day.

 

Day 6 ‘raw materials’

Not the best photo as it was taken in a bit of a hurry with a toddler trying to help! But oh well. My raw materials are blank stretched canvases and plain calico fabric.

Day 7 ‘how and why’

Being a visual person I wanted to draw a mind map in answer to this prompt. But I’m also quite a wordy person so it ended up being more about words than pictures. I think it illustrates the way my mind works quite well though.

 

Day 8 ‘where’

I live in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. It is an amazing and beautiful place. If you haven’t been here I would highly recommend it for a visit. In fact while I was at University in Bristol, people used to ask if I was on commission for the Isle of Wight Tourist Board as I went on about it so much. Seriously though, it is wonderful, and no you don’t need a passport!

 

Day 9 ‘goals’

Who doesn’t love a list? I am always making to do lists as I really enjoy the satisfying feeling you get when you tick each item off! Sometimes I even add really boring things (like eat breakfast, get dressed)  on so that I can tick them off and feel more productive.

 

 Day 10 ‘favourite small businesses’ 

Day 10 ‘favourite small businesses’

I chose two fabulous local small businesses for this one: Honeybourne Jewellery, a Designer, maker and retailer of handmade jewellery. I was lucky enough to do work experience in another jewellery makers boutique shop many years ago, where the owner of Honeybourne Jewellery was working at the time. Not only is she very talented, but also a  very lovely lady. Secondly I chose Flowers By Nic a gorgeous boutique florist, who really listen to what their customers want and always make the most beautiful bouquets!

 

Day 11 ‘post run’

I chose to show the inner layer of my packaging for this prompt as I didn’t have any orders going out by post at the time. I love the colour of that wool!

 

Day 12 ‘first ever sale’

This was the first banner I did for someone outside of my family. I really liked painting it, adding the glitter especially. I hope little Evie still has it out each year for her birthday party!

Day 13 ‘feedback’

I was really proud of this banner when I had finished it, the whole design idea was really fun, and the customer was great to work with, open to my ideas and tweaks as I developed it as I went along. Here’s what she said:

“Stunning banner, so so pleased with it, has surpassed my expectations.
Excellent communication and will be a perfect part of our little one’s 1st birthday and all birthdays to come.
Thank you”

Day 14 ‘creative friends’

I am really lucky to know a lot of fab creative people. The four I chose for this were Hollie of My Little Sew and Sew, the one and only Frankie (and all the rest of the team) at The New Carnival Company, Emma of the Creation Station Isle of Wight and Donna of Bookery Bakes. Awesome women doing brilliant things.

Day 15 ‘time to relax’

Another montage due to me being indecisive, or greedy perhaps. I love going for walks with my little boy, whatever the weather, being in my garden and going out for a cosy drink with my wonderful man whenever we get the chance.

I think I’ll stop there for today as this is turning into a sprawlingly long post. I hope you’re finding it interesting though. I will post the second half of my pictures in the next few days. Did you do #marchmeetthemaker? How did you find it?

 

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Filed under Craft, etsy, Gardening, Isle of Wight, Lifestyle, Painting

Getting ready for Easter

DSC00375I’ve had a busy time lately working and painting as well as spending as much time playing with my little man as possible. Now, however I am on my Easter holidays so have a bit of a chance to sit back and think about some more really fun things to do. And with Easter weekend coming I thought I would make one of my bespoke banners for us to keep; a happy Easter banner with lots of spring flowers and animals decorating it. Here’s the design sketch I did and what I have done so far:

easter banner

I love the Easter Holidays; as a teacher they were the first real chunk of time where I got to relax and *almost* completely switch off from ‘the to do list’ (all the previous half terms and Christmas holidays were always jam packed full of report writing, assessments, planning, classroom sorting and resource making). Even before that though I loved this time of year, the spring flowers coming out in gardens, Magnolia trees bursting out everywhere, warmer weather and longer days.

So this year I am really looking forward to celebrating with my little family, and especially because I think little man will have more of a sense that something special is going on. Last year, being only 8 months old he wasn’t really aware of much and I was still getting to grips with being a mum (well I still am really but I suppose I’ve got used to the constant state of flux a bit better!)

Apart from painting a banner that we can bring out every year from now on as part of our family Easter traditions, I am hoping to do some crafts and baking with little man, as well as setting up a few fun activities for him to do. In preparation I picked up these goodies from Poundland.

DSC00377

In terms of crafts we are hoping to make some Easter cards, decorate polystyrene eggs and do some potato printing to make wrapping paper for our Easter gifts.

Baking wise I hope we will get a chance to make traditional Easter biscuits, and some iced ones (following the brilliant Mary Berry’s recipes) as well as the obligatory Easter nests using shredded wheat, melted chocolate and mini eggs. We haven’t quite decided what we are doing for Easter Sunday lunch, but if we end up hosting, or visiting family, I will make some sort of celebration cake – the only problem is choosing from all these amazing ideas!
Follow Bespoke Art By Gemma’s board Easter Cakes on Pinterest.

For activities I am hoping to set up an Easter egg hunt in the garden, and to reduce the amount of chocolate little man eats I found these little plastic eggs that we can fill with healthier treats like raisins and cereal. We can also play colour matching games and sorting games too. I have also ordered a tough spot like this for all sorts of messy play – I’ll write a whole blog on that in a few weeks’ time.

What are you all planning to do with your little ones over the Easter holidays? I would love to hear about it! Have a great week!

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Filed under Baking, Cooking, Craft, Education, Lifestyle, Painting

Walking through the jungle… 

Painting is a wonderful way to spend your time. It is utterly absorbing and for me at least, quite meditative . Your mind can wander but you have to keep pulling yourself back to the task in hand, making decisions about colour, tone, line and shape.

 Over the last few days I have been working on a new canvas theme for an initial / letter canvas. The jungle or safari theme really appealed to me as I seem to be surrounded by it in all areas of my life right now; at work our topic is jungle animals, my little boys favourite toy is currently a jungle animal puzzle, and I have been enjoying watching my old university buddy Patrick Aryee presenting ‘Natures Miracle Orphans’ on the BBC. Plus I know several small people that have jungle themed nurseries so from a commercial perspective I thought it might be a winner.

  When I paint a canvas like this I usually start by researching images and making a mood board on Pinterest. After that I sketch out a rough design and play about with the composition, sometimes I work out the colours to a certain extent as well but most of the time I leave this to the actual canvas.

When I am happy I draw out the design on the canvas in pencil – trying to be as neat and light as I can so that the pencil marks don’t show through the paint.

Now for the fun part! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of contentment I get when I pick up a paintbrush. I love the feeling of satisfaction when something goes well or looks even better than you thought it might. Even better is the feeling of relief when something that you are not quite happy with is rectified.

This is as far as I have got with this Jungle / Safari themed canvas so far. I’m looking at it as I type and I think it needs a little more work, some added definition, contrast and brightness somewhere. I will keep going until I am really happy with it. But it isn’t too bad for a couple of evening’s work, and most importantly I enjoyed doing it! When it is finished I will add it to my etsy listings. Then I will start thinking about my next project – an Easter themed celebration banner. Watch this space!DSC00366

I would love to hear what you think about this canvas, I think the sky needs some more work, what about you?

 

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Filed under Craft, Painting