Thursday, 22 December 2011

What??? Even the children?

This was the cry of my next door neighbour when she heard we were having a second hand or handmade Christmas!  She just didn't get it.  She then asked 'is it like a theme or something?'.... and then (embarrasingly) offered us some of her children's old toys etc which she had been throwing out to make way for all the new ones they would get at Christmas!

It's certainly been a challenge, but we have stuck to our second hand or hand made Christmas this year, and do you know what?  It has been fun.

We have given bags of home made fudge to people, Hope and I have great fun making this, rolling the mixture in edible Christmas sparkles.

 I made tins of mince pies for friends - and some for us of course!  Check out those little sparkles, tiny holly leaves and red berries - so cute!

I have to show you a picture of the 'rejects' which were not good enough to be given away - but nevertheless were not wasted!!

I have sewn my socks off...

and this is the list of hand made Christmas presents.....

7 dumpling purses
1 'in the garden' sign
5 scrappy tote bags
2 zippy pouches
3 small zippy wallets
2 pairs of oven gloves
3 draw string bags
1 pencil case
and a sausage dog draft excluder

Everything is wrapped and ready to go

Hope was thrilled this year to actually have her own presents to wrap for everyone - either things she has made e.g. calendars and pictures or things she won on the tombola!!!  She especially loved the sellotape.

Here she is with her parcels....

And, yes they were taller than her when laid out in a row!

I hope she will begin to learn this year that giving can be just as special as receiving.

So - (I know this is early, but I think my internet time will be curtailed as from tomorrow!!), Merry Christmas to you all


Saturday, 17 December 2011

Winner winner winner.....

So it's a big well done to Catherine who won my give away.....

Here's the random generator providing the evidence.

And here's Catherine's favourite memory of this year....

Catherine said...

This year I've been really enjoying reading to my daughter at bed time. She turned 12 this year so I'm making the most of her before she turns into a teenager like her sister and doesn't want me around so much. I used to read to my daughters a lot when they were younger but this time around it's just really nice sharing a book with her and having some special time together. I love the idea of your memory bag for your giveaway. I always try to incorporate little bits of fabrics leftover from my girls dresses/skirts etc into their quilts. Thanks for sending me over to your giveaway from mine. I don't have much time to enter manythis time around. Too busy making Christmas gifts!
I will now get the parcel all wrapped up and in the post next week.
Want to see the fudge we made today, all wrapped up nicely......


Friday, 16 December 2011

A wee bit speechless!

Christmas trees for the Christmas fair - decorated by the children

I am rather over whelmed, and almost speechless, (but will manage to ramble on a bit here so no cheering yet!) about the response to my little give away.  - watch out, oscar style speech on the way!

I was in two minds as to whether to even bother joining in the sew mama sew give away, and I honestly thought that maybe 10 of my 14 loyal followers might have a go and leave me a comment to spur me on..... so to find that just five days later I now have 36 followers and 132 comments have been left on my blog has been over whelming. 

One of the fab things has been hearing about everyone's favourite memories of the past year..... we have a lot to remember fondly, and whilst I know some of us will look back on aspects of the past year with regret or sadness, or remorse..... I feel sure we all have a greater number of positive things to recall.  A huge number of the comments related to the children in people's lives, and the things they have done that have created special memroies for us.  I have enjoyed every single comment, some have had me giggling for ages, and I have endeavoured to reply to each.  (You'd be right to assume that no ironing, cleaning, or tidying has been done in my house this week!)  But the other fab thing is the positive response about my little bag for the give away, and also to recycling, and reusing fabrics, I think this is becoming more common now.

So, a huge welcome to my new followers, and thanks to the original gang.

What I have also enjoyed about this week is that I too have found some good new blogs to follow.  And I can't wait to give some new tutorials a go.

But first..... I have to introduce 'Silly'.  Many of you will have heard me go on about my brother's request for a sausage dog draft excluder for Christmas..... and so I made him one out of an old pair of jeans and some bright fabric I won on ebay (no idea what it's called, it was an off cut) and stuffed with old socks and vests.

Considering it was guess work with no patterns, just a few photos found on Pinterest I'm quite proud!

While I'm here I can really really recommend this tutorial for dumplings by Keyka Lou.  I have made about 7 now, and given them as Christmas gifts to various friends.  Excuse the photo, it was taken by my three year old (couldn't find the pictures I took anywhere)

And finally my Mum's Christmas present.... she requested a sign to hang on the door letting people know she is in the garden, so the shells were found when beach combing in Cornwall, the beads are from my treasures box, and an off cut of wood for 50p.

The winner from my give away will be announced when I have worked out the time difference between us and America..... in accordance with the give away rules!!

Now after two children's Christmas parties and a Christingle service today I am off to bed.............

Monday, 12 December 2011

It's give away Monday...........

The Great big Give away is here.


I am linking up with sew mama sew, to join in the big give away today.

This is the first time I have done anything like this, but I am very excited, so here goes!

A bit about me, I am new to blogging, but have loved crafts of alsorts since a young age.  I am enjoying the current resurgence of crafting in the UK, and have rekindled my love of sewing and making.  I love making little purses, bags, pouches, and stuffed toys.  One day I will pluck up the courage to start on a big quilt!

Here are some of the things I have made for gifts this year

My blog name of Second Chance Tan is because 95% of everything I use for making things is recycled, second hand, salvaged or reused.  I take old unwanted items e.g. curtains, scraps, old clothes etc, and I turn them into something new, giving them a second chance.  All the things I use have memories of a previous use, and I hope I give them a new lease of life.

So, on to the give away.

As shown below, I am giving away a tote bag, this is a kind of memory bag as all the fabrics used for the petals of the flowers are made from fabric from clothes my children have grown out of.  I hope you will love the sentiment behind the bag.  Inside I will fill the bag with some goodies, a bag of vintage buttons, some scraps of material, lace, vintage cottons, a cute little handmade badge and something yummy to nibble.

All you need to do to enter the give away is leave me a comment, telling me one of your favourite memories from the past year.  The winner will be chosen at random, and contacted by e-mail (so make sure you also leave me your e-mail address)

Obviously I would love to find some more followers, so if you want to follow me as well then that would be lovely - it's up to you :)

I will post internationally, so everyone is welcome to enter.

I can recommend nipping over to some other fab giveaway blogs I have found:-

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Fabric - there wasn't, then there was!

Recently in our town a home decor and furnishing store has gone bust.... this is sad, but I think they were selling very high end products and probably this was no longer the right location for them.... anyway this led to one of my mad hairbrain ideas.....

They were selling the contents of the shop off at an on line auction.  So, I thought I would see if I could bid on some of the beautiful fabric swatches and pattern books - in my mind I am envisaging making equisite bags and wheaties and bunting and garlands in the most delux material.  So, I wait until half an hour before the end of the auction, and bid what I think is a really high price - I'm not going to embarass myself and let you know how much, but needless to say, these bundles of pattern books went for between £550 and £750 so none of them are making their way to me!

However, my disappointment was short lived, and my spirits really raised when a parcel arrived for me, and it was the solid colour fabrics that I won in a give away from The Intrepid Thread.  Whooopieeee.

So, I got cutting straight away, and have started another scrappy tote, in greens and browns, which will probably end up being my Mum's Christmas present.

Don't forget I'm joining with give away day on Monday..  Details can be found here

Monday, 5 December 2011

The build up! - keeping it simple?

I just read a post by Pomona entitled 'the weight of tradition' and it struck a cord with me.  You can read it here - go check out her wonderful blog....

So, I thought I would share some ramblings about my lead up to Christmas......  I find this time of year very hard.  Every year I put more and more pressure on myself it seems.  And, sadly I struggle to enjoy advent, the time of anticipation and waiting.  This year we are having a second hand or handmade Christmas, where all our gifts are either second hand or hand made.  And, whilst this sounds great in principle, it's quite hard in practice.  I can't go shopping in town and have a mad dash and grab loads of things off the shelves (not that I would want to).  Instead whenever the children sleep I sew, and cook and make.  I plan and worry, I make lists.  I hunt the thrift shops and Christmas fairs for things people would like.  And I feel relieved that at such a young age the children don't mind what presents they get.... we are not at the stage of choosing from the Argos catalogue or needing the latest electrical gadget yet. 

I am trying to establish a new way of celebrating Christmas that will become for my children their memories of these events, their memories and their traditions.  And it feels like a weight of responsbility to get it right, and to keep it simple, when all the people and adverts and world around seem to be promoting a bigger flashier grander Christmas.  I love Pomona's words, that 'it's like gardening - there is always next year waiting to give you the chance to do it differently'.  Perhaps this is the key, each year should be different, and unique and then the burden of 'tradition' or 'always doing this or that' will diminish.   

I know that when Christmas comes, we will have so much fun.  We will spend time with family and we will laugh and laugh - because we always do.... so why do I find this lead up so so hard.?

Anyway..... with all this hand making, I have decided to link up to the December giveaway.

And maybe I will find a few new followers.... it's certainly going to be worth my current readers entering the give away, statistically you have a very high chance of winning!!!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

December is here.....

December is here, and therefore the start of advent.  So the advent socks are up!

I knew I'd find a use for all those odd baby socks that I had accumulated. 

Today's sock had a balloon and little wooden piggy sticker in it.

Can you also see in the middle the delightful little green Christmas tree??  This was what I chose when I was a winner on Anna's blog, little tree house, you can find details of her website here.

This really does symbolise the count down to Christmas, and the excitement is building (I hope it is where you are too x)

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

What's been made in November?

Wow, is it really that long since my last post??  I realised I had been spending far too great a portion of my time at the computer, getting lost in blogland, drooling over the things other people are making, that actually I wasn't spending as much time sewing... and the Christmas make-it list is piling up!.

So, here I am back again, to show the fruits of my creations, while sitting at the sewing machine rather than the computer.

Do good things come in three's???

These little draw string bags can be found at Jeni's blog... aren't they just super.  These have been made with some fabric I won on ebay, and an old pillow case, and old dress!

And ............

Not a great photo, but the tutorial for these is by Flossie Teacakes.  And last night, my friend's 12 year old daughter came round for an evenings sewing with me, and she was absolutely thrilled to bits to make one of these in an evening.  When she exclaimed "I love it more than my Jack Wills purse" I knew just how pleased she was with herself - and like me, this was her first sewing of a zip making one of these.....   
Or fours????

I have gone beserk on these scraptastic tote bags (Made from an old pair of curtains, an old flowery bed sheet and using up scraps)

The tutorial for these can be found here

So, here is a round up of November's makes.  It doesn't look much when I think of how many hours I have put in.

And, to give you a giggle..... I also made Hope's nativity outfit last night - ingenious pattern I made up myself out of an old pillow case.  (If enough of you are interested I might just write a tutorial, he he!!!)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Nosy parker in town

 Today I am linking up with   parrot150 (2)Kat's blog......

The idea is we learn more about each other's lives beyond just sewing, so here goes.
1)      Tell us about your home:

I live in a small market town in Nottinghamshire, in the UK.  It’s a town of ‘mixtures’ there are some very old houses and properties in the centre of the town, and several large modern housing estates built on around the edges.  There are some very expensive places to live, mostly affordable family homes, and some social housing.

The central focus of the town is the market place.  Thursdays is market day, and has been since the market was established by Royal Charter in 1314. People still come from the nearby villages to buy their fruit, veg, flowers, clothes, meat, fish and other general provisions.  (There is no supermarket for 10 miles in each direction) I wander round the market every week, and always bump into someone I know.

There is a small railway station, which goes in one direction to Nottingham, and in the other direction to Grantham and Skegness (the nearest seaside is 70 miles away).  There are two churches, a Parish church, and a Methodist church.  (This is the Parish church, one of the oldest buildings in the town - tower and spire date back to 1200 or 1300's.)

There are quite a few shops, lots of hairdressers and four cafes (we obviously drink a lot of tea and have our hair cut a lot here!).  I do have to show you a photo of our little wool shop. 

This is owned by Joan, and she can always give handy advice on anything sewing, knitting and craft related.  I don’t buy a lot here, but if I can get it here rather than on line then I do, because I would be very sad if this shop closed, and so we need to support our local businesses.

It’s Autumn here at the moment.... approaching winter, so a bit damp and drizzly some days, but today sunny and chilly.
Here are two random facts about our town (it has a bit of a gruesome history)......

From 1710 – 1739 an insane surgeon who attempted to set fire to the town was forced to live in a small prison especially built in the middle of the market place.

In 1299 a woman was publically whipped as a punishment for adultery.

2) What are the houses like in your area.

I already told you a bit about the houses in the town.... but on my road there are lots of different houses, some are huge, but ours is medium size.  Here is our little group of houses, ours being the small one third one along.  It’s a Victorian house built in 1896, and therefore very cold and drafty in the winter.

An unusual feature of our house is that is has a world war II air raid shelter in the back garden!!  This was built by the owner at that time for his family and the other nearby families to take shelter in during the bombing and air raids. 

Also, our garden shed was once the outside toilet and washroom for the house, as when originally built these would have been the only toilet facilities (now luckily we have an indoor bathroom!!)

Our house is semi-detached, and on three floors as we have a funny room up some spiral stairs into the loft.

Gosh, this is going to make me sound incredibly dull.... in an effort to live as simply as possible the radius of my life is very small.  We don’t go far very often.
As the week revolves around getting my little one to and from pre-school, in addition to this we manage to fit in trips to the local parks, we ride our scooters to the cemetery and collect foliage to make things with, we go and see our friends and we might go to the cafe (you’ll remember we have a lot to choose from) for a special treat.  We help out by running the toddler group on a Friday, and so spend most of Friday there. 

If there is anything going on at the weekend e.g. fete or coffee morning we go along

But there are some beautiful places to visit nearby.  The river Trent is not far from us and so we can go to the lock and watch the boats, and we can feed the ducks.

A bit further afield is Sherwood Forest and the great oak and Robin Hood country....

Statue of Robin Hood by Nottingham Castle

The Great Oak.

Above is part of Nottingham University where I studied.

And here is Wollaton Hall, another favourite place to go.

And my other half has insisted that I include some photos of the two great sporting venues.... Trent Bridge cricket ground, and Nottingham Forest football stadium (both places I never go to, but he spends as much time as possible!)

Our town has buses galore, and they are always coming and going!  They go to Nottingham every ten minutes.  So people can use those.  However we walk as much as we can, and everything is close by, so me and the kids walk daily, apart from on Wednesday when pre-school is just that bit too far to walk – so we use the bike trailer.  (Sorry no photos - too embarasing!) Now, I feel a bit of a banana using this.... but Hope loves it, and has a song that she sings ‘goodie goodie goodie’ when it comes out of the shed!  She waves at everyone as we cycle past, and yells ‘faster faster’ (as I am huffing and puffing up the slightest incline).
We do have a family car though, and use this at the weekend, or for trips out.

5) Is there a type of food that would be quintessential to where you live? E.g. a famous local produce etc...

Our town does not have a particular speciality..... but nearby Melton Mowbray is famous for pork pies.  Not far away, Cropwell Bishop is well known for it’s stilton cheese.  Belvoir Elderflower Presse is also made from Elderflowers in local hedgrows. And amongst my mates, my Victoria Sandwich is pretty renowned!!

So, I know my life is not as interesting as most of yours (I have enjoyed the other nosy parker blogs I have read), but here is a little window into my mundanity!! 

Well done, you made it to the end x

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A crafty birthday!

Yesterday it was my birthday..... and in the true spirit of living simply, and thriftily, I had asked for mainly hand made or second hand presents. (plus a few new things to help with my sewing and recycling)

And, wow did people do a fabulous job, I had such a wonderful day, opening some brilliant presents.

First prize goes to Tracy who made me three things....

The photos don't do these justice, the knitted cushion cover is lovely and soft with great textures in the knitting, and it's just the right colour for my bedroom.  The battenburg tea cosy, is not only fun and cute, but fits on my favourite tea pot (reserved for peppermint and lapsang souchong tea - see pic below!), and the jar is a 'heart in a jar' and contains all the fabric, ribbon, lavender, buttons and stuffing to make a fabric scented heart - what a cute idea (I might just pinch this idea for some Christmas pressies!)

Second prize goes to Nathan and Rachel who found treasure in a thrift store.....

The zips and lace and buttons will no doubt find their way into a project...... and can you see the button tin?  I giggled and giggled and reminisced no end when I opened this, as my Granny had the exact same tin to commemorate the engagement of Charles and Di years ago, and I always rather liked it (being of the age then when engagements and wedding seemed intrigueing!), and so the tin alone (I have a bit of a thing for collecting tins) would have been a good choice for me, but when it was full to bursting of an old collection of buttons I was thrilled.  This was clearly the button hoard of someone who has cut the buttons off coats and shirts and tops for years and years - and popped them in this tin..... so how great that I can give them a second chance.

Third prize goes to Mark - for my cutting mat and cutting knife...... there will be no stopping me now, and also no more excuses to wonky cutting and estimated lengths and widths!  I haven't used it yet, but might just christen it tonight! (look out for it in future photos on this blog)

Here are the birthday girls!


Monday, 7 November 2011

A day of firsts............

What an exciting day yesterday was.......

I was on a training day (towards my catering qualification to be QM on the Guide residentials!!), so reluctantly was out early on a Sunday morning at a remote rural Guide hut surrounded by fields.  However, being out so early on a wonderful Autumn day had it's advantages, one of which was that I saw the most spectacular view of hoardes of birds in beautiful flight.... I had to stop my car and watch for a while, because there were just hundreds of black silhouetted birds against the light blue sky, in incredible formations.  I imagine they were en route migrating to warmer climates.  These birds really lifted my spirits, and I have wondered about them, and their long journey on a off throughout the day. (Gutted I didn't have my camera with me, so sorry no pics)

Anyway, I survived the training day, and the pizzas we had to cook - you will be glad to know.  And, it's all systems go for the Guide sleep over next weekend - more of that in a future post I expect!.

But, I digress, so on to the firsts.

I have won something in a give away..............

My first win - the shrieks of delight were so loud they got Mark dashing out of the bath to see what had happened. It was from Sarah at narcoleptic in a cupboard.... check out her post with her beautiful cat picking out the winners.  It's hard to describe the excitement....  So big thanks to Sarah (and especially to her cat!)

Then the other first of the day, is that I sewed my first zip ever.

Now, I know it's not a master piece, but considering I don't have a zip foot on my machine, I was simply pleased to do this at all.  Don't look too closely at the ends as I had to hand sew some corners over the top, because the material, plus interfacing, plus zip was so thick my sewing maching needle was really grumbling at points.

But this purse was made from this lovely tutorial by Flossie teacakes, which I can absolutely recommend for beginners, as the descriptions and photos were spot on.  I used a girlie material (which is not quite to my taste - but hopefully will be liked by my 13 year old neice) which has been recycled from one of Eden's dresses originally from next! 

So, there you have it.  It's quite an addicitve little tutorial, so I have a feeling there will be a dash to the woolshop for some more zips...................