Saturday, 31 December 2016

Stitching Santa Swap - Part 2

When I sign up for a swap I like to do a little stalking of blogs/IG and a lot of pinning on Pinterest, sometimes this is a good technique and sometimes it just leaves me more confused than when I started. My partner for the Stitching Santa Swap was Sally from Sew Sweet Sally
Now Sally sews the most amazing clothes and is one of the Minvera bloggers so I was a little daunted when I saw her name pop up in my swap partner email.

So I stalked a little, pinned a lot, chatted about it with my Sewing Box buddies and then generally did what I normally do - procrastinated until it was nearly time to panic!

It was during this time of procrastinating that I realised Sally had changed the name of her blog and IG feed to The Yorkshire Sewist and bingo, the perfect idea popped into my head. 
An embroidery hoop with pockets

yo-yo's and buttons

and some free motion embroidery  

Probably like most of you, I'm not very good at getting around to making things that might help with my sewing and I thought that Sally might be the same so I added a tailors ham, a large pincushion (I'm always losing pins) and a scissor fob. 

I love that with this fabric I could pick out the sewing notions that I wanted.

I also included so pins (did I tell you I'm always losing pins) a jar of buttons, sewing themed ribbons and some extra fabric in case there was anything that Sally might need to make.

I've had these cute wooden spools in my sewing room for a while and hadn't though about using them for ribbons.

I had some button themed goodies in my swap gifts stash which i bought would be great for little extras.

And as Sally is a dressmaker I thought the book of the film The Dressmaker with Kate Winslet would be the ideal read

I really enjoyed putting this parcel together for Sally once I had got over my initial panic it all sort of fell into place.

Thank you to Sheila for organising the swap, it was great fun. 

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Stitching Santa Swap - Part 1

Now that the Christmas festivities are over I thought I would share with you some of the beautiful gifts I received and sent in the Christmas swaps I took part in.

This is the second year that I have taken part in the Stitching Santa Swap organised by Sheila over at Sewchet. This is a secret swap, so you don't know who has put together your parcel until you open your gifts, although with a little detective work on Instagram I did work out that it was Shirley from squirrelsknittingconquest when my parcel arrived.
Look at all these packages, I couldn't wait to open them.

Shirley had been very good at stalking my blog and Instagram feed.

I love the lobster fabric Shirley used for the triangular pouch, and Shirley explained that the leaf mug rug was a last minute make to add to my parcel, I so glad that she decided to add it as I love the colours and the shape, and as for the cottage pincushion, what's not to love, with all those french knots, tiny stitches and a teeny heart on the door.

Shirley also included lots of crafting goodies to kick start my projects for 2017, embroidery threads, pins (these were on my shopping lists as like socks in the washing I seem to lose pins in my sewing room), fabric squares, scissors and an embroidery kit.

Then there was a super triangular crammed full of colouring pencils, which I'm claiming as 'adult only' pencils, a flowers colouring book and an owl notebook, which I am going to have to hide as Miss Madaboutbags apparently needs it for herself!

Swap parcels are usually complete without some sort of tasty treat and Shirley treated me to some delicious Scottish shortbread, another to clue to where my swap partner was from. Finally, I opened the card, with instructions to be opened last, so as not to give away her identity. Shirley had written a lovely note and her last gift confirmed her identity.

Thank you Shirley I loved all my gifts and felt thoroughly spoilt on Christmas morning as I think I had the more gifts to open than the children!
Another super Stitching Santa Swap Sheila, thank you for organising it again this year, I know the mammoth task involved in pairing up all the swapees.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Send Us Your Christmas Swap

Back at the end of October I signed up for the Send Us your Christmas Swap over on Kimberley's blog Creative Chaos. I was lucky to be partnered with Kimberley's cousin, Jackie. Kimberley and Jackie have sent each other an advent calendar of gifts this year and if you would like to see what they have sent each other pop over to Kimberley's blog. 
My parcel from Jackie arrived the other day and the idea of the swap was to fill a plastic tub full of goodies and send it to your parcel. This is what Jackie sent me....
And inside......
What super wrapping paper. 
Jackie is a fantastic knitter just like Kimberley and she made me this beautifully textured dishcloth. Is it just me who likes to just enjoy having a pretty new dishcloth before finally deciding a few weeks later that I am actually supposed to use it!!  
I love the colour of the yarn used to make this little bird and the ceramic leaf is lovely and apparently if I sprinkle over some essential oil and leave it on the windowsill in the sun it will smell amazing. I definitely going to try this. 
Some New Zealand themed fabric and a wooden heart. 
Some delicious chocolate, this didn't last very long. 
A colourful tea towel. 
And here are all my gifts together
I wasn't quite as organised as Jackie and although I had started putting together her parcel I hadn't sent it off by the time hers arrived. So I cheated a little a reused the tub that she had sent me, just changing the paper on the top. Hopefully it arrive in New Zealand very soon. 

Thank you Jackie for all my wonderful gifts and for being such a lovely swap partner, I hope you enjoy your parcel as much as I have enjoyed mine, and thank you Kimberley for organising this swap again. 

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Advent Day 19 - 23

My blogging seems to have suffered a slight domino effect, I missed posting my advent calendar photo on the 19th and then the others just followed, so I'm playing catch up again whilst enjoying a breather during our Christmas Eve preparations. So joining in with Julie's Scrapbook Advent Calendar. 

Day 19 - I've been wanting to buy this star lamp for a while having seen it on the West Barn IG feed. It adds a beautiful glow to our conservatory and my sparkly reindeer seem to like it. 

Day 20 - This year I signed up again for Amy's Christmas Card Swap over at Love Made My Home and I was partnered with Lisa over at Jumble and Jelly. After emailing back and forth we came to the conclusion we had been swap partners before but neither of us could remember when or what the swap was! (another Brenda moment as Mr Madaboutbags would say). Lisa sent me this lovely card and funnily enough it was our very first Christmas card of the year too. I completely forgot to take a photo of the card I sent Lisa but if you pop over to Amy's blog she has a little linky party going on where you can see all the cards sent and received. Thank you Amy this was a lot of fun again and a lovely way to find new blogs. 

Day 21 - I think there is an elf in my living room! Master Madaboutbags feeling festive and watching TV. 

Day 22 - Thursday was unseasonably warm and sunny, the perfect weather for a romp in the woods. For the past couple of years our local VisitParks rangers have organised The Big Winter Feed at Danbury Lakes. They hang stockings throughout the woods which the children fill with wild bird seed. This is then collected up by the rangers and used during the colder months to feed the birds and squirrels. Along the route there were also bird related cracker jokes, wild bird information posters and a bird tracker trail. Unfortunately I didn't take many photos as my phone battery died about 15 mins after we arrived. We finished off our walk with a hot chocolate around the camp fire before heading home. 

Day 23 - Usually I am up late on Christmas Eve frantically wrapping presents but this year I decided to be a bit more organised and started wrapping earlier. This also means it's harder for Miss Madaboutbags to find out what her presents are! I found this super Santa stamp wrapping paper in M and S, half price too 

and I have a few left to do tonight and some ribbons to add but this will have to wait until Mini Master Madaboutbags is fast asleep. It could be another late one but I'm hoping that the excitement for tomorrow will wear him out! 

Monday, 19 December 2016

Cracker Swap 2016

I know some of you have already received your crackers and again I'm amazed at how much you have all managed to squeeze inside this kitchen rolls. I had two swap partners in the cracker swap and their parcels are flying their way across the water and should be arriving in America very soon. 
My cracker from Melissa (Iluvmybaronie over on Instagram) arrived on Friday. Melissa described the cracker as a physics defying burrito and she wasn't wrong. 
It was a tug of war to get the fabric rolled parcel out of the tube. 
Inside was some try grid interfacing which I can't wait to use and a cute spool quilt block pattern. 
It was like my very own game of "pass the parcel" as there was another layer of fabric and inside was this gem of a Christmas tree mini quilt. 
Isn't it fab!! 
When I mentioned to Melissa about pass the parcel she hadn't heard of it and had to look it up on google so my question to you American ladies is, do you know what pass the parcel is and did you play it at parties? As Melissa said she wasn't sure if it was a popular game or just that she didn't go to many parties!!! 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Advent Day 17

Boy, it's been foggy out there today, poor  Mr Madaboutbags had to conquer the M25 early this morning to collect Miss Madaboutbags (and all her washing) from university. He said it was like pea soup and despite a slight delay on the way back they were home by 10.30am.
This afternoon Master Madaboutbags and I went off to one of the local village halls to watch the Beauty and the Beast  
Pantomime put on my the amateur dramatic group. We also dropped off the Giant Master Madaboutbags at the sports field opposite as he wanted some fresh air and to kick his rugby ball about. This is what it was like when we arrived!!!
He seemed happy enough despite the fog do we left him to it and headed off to the village hall to watch the pantomime. 
The ladies that run the village always put on a lucky dip and when we arrived one of the ladies mentioned the fact that I only had Master Madaboyrbags with me this year, and it got me thinking that we've probably been coming to the pantomime here for about 9 years when the Giant Master Madaboutbags wasn't so giant and Miss Madaboutbags was part of the chorus line. After several go's on the lucky dip, we took our seats and the Pantomime began. We had lots of fun booing the wicked witch and shouting 'poodle power' for the French poodle narrator when needed. There was even the obligatory audience singalong and a lovely happy ending. I managed a couple of quick snapshots at the end of the show so my photo for Day 17 of Julie's Scrapbook Advent Calendar is...
Not only was it still foggy outside but it was also pitch black and I think Giant Master Madaboutbags was glad to get home in the warm, hasn't put him off though as he wants to go again!!  

Friday, 16 December 2016

Advent Day 16

With Mr Madaboutbags and Master Madaboutbags out at the cinema this morning I was able to catch up on some last minute sewing my final swaps of 2016. I was having trouble deciding what to make for one of them and after thrashing out some ideas with my sewing box buddies on Tuesday night I had a few ideas on the table, but then this morning I had an ephinany moment and knew exactly what I wanted to make and I'm glad to say I really pleased with how it turned out. Anyone else work better under pressure? With too much time I tend to faff around, Pinterest has a lot to answer for when it comes to procrastinating!! 
I still have one last thing to finish tomorrow and then I'll be closing the door on my sewing room until the new year. My Christmas bunting never made it to the cutting table but there is always next year. 
Anyhow my photo today to join in with Julie's Scrapbook Advent Calendar is ....

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a box of Quality Street, although the tins are definitely smaller than I remember as a child and because they are now in the shops from September we have usually polished off at least one box before Christmas Day has arrived. My favourites were always the purples ones with the hazelnut in caramel but I have been favouring the pink fudges and the blue coconut ones this year. There are always the ones left that no one eats, these used to be the round gold toffee ones but this year Master Madaboutbags has decided these are his favourites so I think between us all there won't be any sorry looking chocolates lingering in the bottom of the box and then we can start on the tin of Roses!!! 
Do you have a favourite?? 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Advent Day 10 - 15

Hopefully this will be my last catch up post (famous last words) for the Advent Calendar. I will try (really hard) to post each day. So joining in with Julie's Scrapbook Advent. 

Day 10
The decorations are all now up in the conservatory so I have been adding a little Christmas cheer to the stairs, this was an in progress shot, I just liked the way the lights looked and now I've added the rest of the baubles it really cheers up the hallway. 

Day 11
Today it was the turn of the living room to get a Christmas make over. I'm still working on Mr Madaboutbags to buy another Christmas Tree but he isn't convinced!! I picked up this nativity set last year in a charity shop and it fits perfectly on the mantelpiece. 

Day 12
I bought three of these metal signs last year, all with different sayings. Last year I hung them on the wall but this year I decided to add them to the tree. They look much better there. 

Day 13
I meet up once a month with some friends for a evening of craft and lovely conversation. We don't always get much crafting done but we do have some great conversations. This month everyone came to me and we have a fabulous evening of laughter, there was a very small amount of crafting! I picked up this bottle of ginger beer at the local farm shop and it definitely had a fiery bite and although it was non alcoholic I think the full bodied part went straight to our heads!!! 

Day 14
Chocolate oranges have always been a part of my Christmas for as long as I can remember. Mr Madaboutbags bought this little lot home recently, I'm not sure if they will last until Christmas Day! 

Day 15
Today is Mr Madaboutbags' birthday, he isn't a great one for birthdays, but he will look forward to his all day breakfast on Sunday when Miss Madaboutbags is home from Uni. I have to say I'm glad I don't have a December birthday and do feel for those that do. This afternoon I spent a lovely few hours making a Christmas wreath. It's something I've always wanted to try and this year Miss Madaboutbags' church was running a workshop. I really enjoyed making the wreath and will definitely try some different themed ones throughout the year. 
Yay! I back up to date, now I'm off to bed as I've been a bit of a night owl recently and need to catch up on some sleep. See you all tomorrow X 

Advent Days 6 - 9

Firstly I wanted to say thank to Kezzie as I received a lovely message from her checking if everything was okay because I'd stopped posting my Advent Day photos. Sorry I couldn't reply to you Kezzie as when I checked you are a no reply blogger, so you have a very public thank you. It's one of the things I love about the blogging community and it's always nice to know you have been missed.
Luckily there was nothing really wrong just a very manic week and a half of school events, family life and a severe lack of energy at the end of the day! 
So this is one of my catch up posts...

Day 6
Today, I helped out on the school trip to Colchester Zoo, after a late night at the School Carol Concert, I did think it was going to be a tough day but the children were super and the zoo staff gave an interesting talk and tour on endangered species. Master Madaboutbags wanted to use my phone to take some photos and he did a really good job. As you can see the animals were really getting into the Christmas spirit. 

Day 7
I recently took part in a wonderful swap over on Instagram that was star themed and today I received the most amazing parcel in the post. One of the handmade goodies was this star mini quilt. I was really drawn to night sky quilts when I was posting ideas for my partner and my swap partner didn't disappoint, I absolutely love it. You can see what else I received and what I sent over on my IG feed. 

Day 8
Today I received another swap parcel in the post, this one is from Mary and is part of the Santa Sack Swap. A gorgeous quilted stocking full of intriguing packages that I'm trying really hard not to squish and squeeze! 

Day 9
Today I finished off my two cracker swap parcels ready for posting to America. I'm starting to see lots of lovely posts both here and on Instagram of all your cracking crackers (sorry I couldn't resist!) and I shall pop a linky post up over the Christmas break for you all to share your posts. If you don't have a blog or Instagram please feel free to send me some pics of your crackers and I'll share them on my blog.

Phew! That took longer than I thought and now my bed is calling so I'll post another catch up post tomorrow. Joining in with Julie's Advent Calendar

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Advent Day 5

***Edited to say not sure why but this didn't publish when I posted it last week***

Day 5

We are hitting the ground running this week as we have so much to squeeze in. 
I'm not sure if I will be fit for anything by Friday!
Tonight was Master Madaboutbags' school Carol Concert at Chelmsford Cathedral. 

It was an evening of singing, instrument playing and a rather enthusiastic organ player! 
We were all rather tired by the time we arrived home so after a warming cup of tea and a festive bakewell it was time for bed as we have another busy day tomorrow. 

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Advent Day 4

A relaxing day was in order after our busy night yesterday, so after a quick swimming lesson for Master Madaboutbags, followed by a scrumptious sausage sandwich made by Mr Madaboutbags it was time to tackle the job of putting up the Christmas tree. Well that was the plan but I think we were all feeling a little lazy today so after several cups of tea (me) and several games of Minecraft (Master Madaboutbags) we started delving into the numerous boxes that house all our Christmas decorations for the other 11 months of the year! 
I'd forgotten how many super handmade decorations I've acquired over the years, and it was a little like Christmas morning when you realise you bought some new decorations last year in the sales. So after much oohing and ahhing we got down to business and put out some of the room decorations. 
The tree is always my job, we have a lovely artificial one that we bought about 15 years ago and every year I forget how long it takes to fan out all the branches and add the lights. 
Master Madaboutbags got a little bored at this stage and went off to watch more Minecraft videos and build a fire station! 
I was also losing the will to live as the orangery looked like an explosion in a Christmas factory with boxes and decorations everywhere, including the table, which we needed to clear so that we could eat the delicious roast dinner that Mr Madaboutbags had cooked. Sufficiently sated, Tomas was keen to get back to finishing off the tree, and as I was busy sorting through boxes and faffing with my twig tree, I let him have free reign with the tree. In retrospect I'm not sure this was a wholly wise idea as I feel that there may be just a little bit of rearranging to be done!! 
Master Madaboutbags then found the box of Christmas puzzles and felt that right now would be a good time to start one of them, calling me in to help. Needless to say the orangery still looks like an explosion in a Christmas Factory and I'm not sure what Mr Madaboutbags is going to think when he comes down in the morning but this was not quite the photo I thought I would be posting today. 

So joining in with Julie's Scrapbook advent calendar is my #reallifehome Day 4 not quite finished tree, with my too many boxes of decorations, and oh my! what a mess, just close the door and worry about it tomorrow photo. 

Advent Day 3

Tonight I spent a wonderful evening getting festive at not one, but two, Christmassy events. 
First it was the lighting up of the Christmas tree at our local church. A few days ago I joined other members of my WI and decorated the tree outside the church, overlooking the village green and then tonight we joined lots of other people from the village to sing (out of time and definitely out of tune) a few Christmas carols and to switch on the tree lights. 

Then we all went inside the church to enjoy a warming cup of tea and some delicious cake as well as buy some gifts from some of the stall holders.
There were some beautiful wooden figures on sale carved from olive wood from Bethlehem. Master Madaboutbags took a liking to a nativity bell decoration and a camel. 
We also bought a Christmas gift Miss Madaboutbags and Master Madaboutbags had a go at cake decorating. 

We also saw Father Christmas himself, so this is my Advent Day 3 photo, joining in with Julie's Scrapbook Advent Calendar. 

He was very jolly and handed out candy canes to all the children. 
Then is was time to head off to the next village and watch a Christmas show at the church that Miss Madaboutbags goes to. 
The play was called Twas The Night Before Christmas and was by The Saltmine Theatre group.

 All the parts were played by just four people and it was funny, moving, poignant and with just the right amount of religiousness. The underlying story was to be thankful for what you have and not to catch stuffishness, and it does make you realise that there is more to Christmas than stuff, stuff, and more stuff. 
It was a wonderful way to spend an evening especially as it was shared with good friends too so I'm feeling all warm, nostalgic and thankful. 

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