(Giveaway) - Playschool, The Wiggles and Fireman Sam

Monday, March 31, 2014

Well, we all know how I feel about Play School, don't we?  It's a bit of a staple in our house and has been a part of my life for longer than I care to remember.  I was always going to jump at the chance to give away some Play School DVD's, and then put them together with The Wiggles and Fireman Sam and you've got yourself a bundle of TV watching joy - or at least your kids have. Well, and you, if they're the type of DVD's that float your boat.  I am a bit partial to Fireman Sam myself but then again it's probably just the uniform thing ...
So, once again, thanks to the wonderfully generous people at Roadshow Entertainment, I have 3 packs of 3 DVD's up for grabs : Play School In the Wild, Fireman Sam Hero at Sea and The Best of the Wiggles.  What a lovely, fun combination.  Here's the scoop:
The In the Wild series recognises that young children are curious investigators, who learn about the world around them as they play, discover and explore. In the Wild encourages a spirit of adventure as young children and their families are invited to share in a series of exciting escapades with the Play School toys and presenters. We explore wild places and spaces, discover wild animals and rare plants and play with the wild possibilities of imaginary worlds. Features Andrew McFarlane, Emma Palmer, Teo Gebert, Leah Vandenberg, and Zindzi Okenyo. 5 x 26 minute episodes.

Absolutely chock full of all the hits - Hot Potato, Can You (Point Your Fingers and Do the Twist?), Rock-A-Bye Your Bear, Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car, Wake Up Jeff!, Captain Feathersword Fell Asleep on His Pirate Ship (Quack Quack), The Monkey Dance, Get Ready to Wiggle, Go Santa Go!, Dorothy (Would you Like to Dance?), Ooh It's Captain Feathersword, Dressing Up, Move Your Arms Like Henry, Lights Camera Action Wiggles!, Do the Owl, Play Your Guitar With Murray, Rockin' Santa, Getting Strong!, I'm Dorothy the Dinosaur, You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, Monkey Man, Hot Poppin Popcorn, Do the Propeller, Ready, Steady, Wiggle!, Simon Says and 10 other songs.
The beaches of Pontypandy are packed with daring rescues as Fireman Sam is a Hero at Sea! During a trip out to sea with the kids, Charlie nets the biggest catch Pontypandy has ever seen but his boat is damaged - will they sink or swim? Find out all this and more in this collection of heroic adventures. 6 x 10 min episodes.

To win one of these fabulously fun bundles, enter using Rafflecofter below.  Go on, I know you think Fireman Sam's cute too! Good luck and happy watching! x

A Swimming Robe and a Sewing Retreat

Thursday, March 20, 2014

 Are you a little nutso for sewing? Do you fantasise about uninterrupted sewing time or crave some much needed "me" time? Would you like to get away from it all, escape to the country, surround yourself with like-minded "nutso's", be fed and watered (and fed very well I might add) for a whole weekend without lifting a finger AND sew into the wee small hours should you so desire? Well, I've got a little secret to share with you.  You can. Yep.  I'm not lying.  Turn your fantasy into a reality and go on a Sewing Retreat!  They are the best. They are soul-replenishing.  They are a hoot.  They are rewarding.  They are a must! 

I've just returned from my second "Sew Along" retreat run by the gorgeous and mega-experienced (not to mention mega patient!) Jemima Flendt of Tied with a Ribbon and Claire Turpin of Claire Turpin Design.  They hold their weekend retreats at the Avalon Homestead in Toodyay, Western Australia - seriously the perfect location, only an hour from Perth, and set high on a hill overlooking the Avon Valley. It feels like you are far more than an hour from the city.
Avalon Homestead - source
Whether you are a beginner sewer (like me) or advanced, whether you're a quilter or more of a project sewer (like me), the retreat caters for all.  Jemima & Claire are on hand all weekend to offer advice, encouragement and mini workshops.  The retreat runs from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon and all meals are included - but be warned, dessert is served at every meal and it is very, very difficult to resist.  Also included is a "mystery project" which is normally the first project on the first night - a bit of an ice-breaker and a bit of easy fun - but it's completely up to you if you want to do it or not.  If not, you still get to take the mystery kit home to work on another day.  They also throw in two free patterns for you so not only do you totally get your money's worth, you're getting some lovely little extras.  It really is a well-run, well-organised, well-planned retreat absolutely choc full of creative goodness and oh-"sew"-fabulous people all wanting the same thing ... to sew, and sew, and sew ... and eat a lot of a bit of chocolate mousse in between!!

Last year, for my daughter, I made this "Living With Punk'sBookworm Skirt (I didn't blog about it but I did take some little piccies) and this year I made her a Swimming Robe made from bath towels.  I also made an Apron for my Mother-in-law (which is meant to be a surprise so I'm hoping she misses this post). 
The swimming robe was a "Dana Made-it" pattern which I came across via the Probably Actually blog.  Seriously, if you want to see sewing at its best then you must check out Gail from Probably Actually's blog - her stuff is drool-worthy.  To make the robe I used two bath towels from Target (2 for $8 - ha!), a really lovely organic fabric called Gumdrops Red by Monaluna for the hood (my favourite bit of the whole robe ... too cute!),which I bought from Lima Sews, and a green spotted extra wide bias binding from Spotlight.  The actual pattern is simple and would suit an experienced beginner sewer - it's really just the insane amount of bias binding that is a bit tricky for a newbie (I may have said a couple of bad words quietly under my breath, or out loud, I can't be sure).  But if you take it slow and pin, pin, pin like crazy, it can actually be quite therapeutic and if my machine hadn't been playing up (totally my fault - no service in two years!!), it would have actually been a fairly stress-free experience. I do think it's the bias binding and the lined hood that makes this swimming robe a total adorable winner so it really is worth going to the extra effort (just whisper the naughty words). The only adjustment I made to the pattern was making the hood a little bit longer as Gail had mentioned in her blog that the hood was a bit short for her daughter. I can't wait to road test it at the pool this Thursday!
For the secret-squirrel Apron, I used an organic floral voile from Spotlight (sorry I cut the selvedge off the fabric and I can't remember the name of it) and a pink polka dot cotton for the lining.  This is a super-easy pattern and is a good first project.  I used this pattern from Ink & Spindle which is free - yes, free!  Pretty great. Sorry, I didn't get a very good shot of the Apron - this one is me holding it up during "show & tell" at the retreat, which happens on the last day.  We all sit around and goo and gah at what everyone has achieved over the weekend.

So, all in all, a really fabulous weekend with an equally fabulous group of lovely women all passionate about sewing and creating.  Such creative love in one room ... ahhhhh, can we do it again next weekend?  Please?

Have you been to a sewing retreat or a creative-style retreat?  Did you love it?  Did your cup runneth over? Do share.

It's not rocket science

Saturday, March 1, 2014

I know this is not rocket science but it has come in so useful to me over the past week that I thought it would be worth sharing.
As I whinged about mentioned in my last post, I've been pre-occupied and busy around our home the past few weeks packing for our upcoming big move and because of that I haven't had much crafting or activity time with my daughter while my son is at school.  This never fails to make me feel guilty.  I decided I needed a "grab & do" something.  A something that involved no glue, no scissors and no box of craft supplies. I googled "Activity Sheets for 3 year olds", went to the first site on the list, "School Express", and began printing off multiple copies of the sheets I knew would interest her the most, and that had an educational slant (mainly to help with her numbers and sounds). I know there are literally hundreds of sites that offer the same thing but I didn't want to waste time searching and then become too bamboozled to make a choice.  School Express has over 17,000 activity sheets (plus a whole host of other stuff that I didn't look at - again, I knew I would get sidetracked if I checked it all out) covering everything from Numbers, to Sounds, to Classifying, to Letters to Social Studies - exactly what I was after.

I made up a file to keep the sheets organised and close at hand.  I found these very cute and colourful free binder cover templates at A Year of Many Firsts blog, which were perfect, and saved me from making them up myself.  The only problem was the files weren't editable (unless you had PowerPoint) and I wanted an "Activity Sheets" cover, so here's how I got around it.  And, by the way, if you know of a smarter way to do it, and I don't doubt there is, please make sure you let me in on the secret!   
  1. I downloaded the binder cover I wanted as a PDF (if I had Powerpoint then it would've been easy to edit, but I don't)
  2. Saved it as a JPEG and closed it
  3. Opened it up in Paint
  4. Erased the existing binder title with the eraser tool
  5. Saved it so that I had a blank binder label (to use next time for something else)
  6. Opened Word and inserted it as a Picture
  7. Inserted a text box and typed in my Title
And because I couldn't find tabs that were visible under the plastic sheets, I made up some myself using patterned paper and clear adhesive labels from Avery. The tabs do stick out the side of the file but that doesn't bother me - a little jiggle when I pop it away makes the tabs slide back inside.

So now when my daughter starts to get irritable or bored because she's tired of Mummy packing like a crazy lady, I can easily grab a few sheets and sit down with her for 15 or 20 minutes.  Not only has she been enjoying it, she's learning too and I'm spending one-on-one time with her with not a glue stick or paint pot in sight! It really has been very handy, and like this post title says, "it's not rocket science" but it's good, basic stuff which is readily available at your fingertips at no cost.  It's the simple things ...