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Mirror sand pit

Posted on 27 April, 2015

As a  hoarder I have problems throwing anything out. I live by the “you never know when I might need that” principle. This leaves me with shelves of chipped cups and a a hallway which has house a broken microwave and an unserviceable sewing machine  for a few years now. Since I made the toy kitchen from the record player I am now more convinced than ever that everything has a purpose you just have to keep it long enough to find out what it is. (Steve panics when I say things like that and worries that we’ll end up on some hoarders reality tv show!).
About a year ago I put an old Ikea bathroom mirror outside (the hallway was full!) and its wood has been slowly aging while I consider what to do with it!  With our recent pout of good weather I had an idea. With my little helper and measurement at hand we headed off to B and Q.
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They have a free wood cutting service in B and Q so I thought I would save myself the joys of my wobbly sawing and let the machine do the hard work instead. The white hardboard was cut to slide into the frame of the mirror and by pure luck the remainder bit of the hardboard was just enough to cover the top of the sandpit and acts as a lid when it’s not being used.  With my newly cut white hard board and play sand I set about making the old Ikea mirror into a new sandpit.

The mirror we had is no longer available but it’s similar to this one. The joy of changing up Ikea products is that because things slot in you can slot them out just as easily. So I slid out the mirror and slid in the hardboard.

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Add a bag of play sand and there you have it, one new sand pit. Throw in some of his toys and it’s ready to be enjoyed.

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I used the Ikea mirror because that’s what I had but any defunct piece of furniture would do, a drawer, a bedside locker, anything with a lip really. I didn’t really have high hopes of it surviving but it has been over a week now and it’s still a hit, and it even still has some sand left in it. For a cost of 14 euro I’m chuffed.

Day one it was a minor success. He mainly kept getting annoyed at his digger for dropping the sand. Day two was spent explaining that you can’t eat the sand, that the plants don’t want to eat the sand and that the sand is meant to stay in the sand pit not all over the ground. Day three it became a success. He proudly built his own castles, with a special tap at the end and stands back in awe at his creations!

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Some old nails in the wall, whose original purpose is a bit of a mystery, now house his sandy toys when it’s time to close up the building site for the night.

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Yes to Love

Posted on 23 April, 2015

yes for love

Listening to the radio today I felt saddened to be Irish.  On the 22nd of May a referendum will be held to ask all registered voters to vote yes or no to the proposal to include a new clause about marriage in the Constitution. This new clause provides that two people may marry each other regardless of their sex.

Today the radio presenter spoke to a number of people who will be voting No to the change of the constitution. Generally, when you hear a No vote speaker they represent a religious organisation and I have come to expect a certain rhetoric from them. To be honest I think and care very little about their views. In my mind they are a vocal and obstinate minority.

Today was different though. Today made me think that their views are not necessarily the minority. Today a cohort of people spoke out about their views. These people didn’t seem to be connected to each other in any way but they who were saying the same thing and they all plan to vote No. The general theme of the segment was that people are genuinely worried that voters considering voting Yes haven’t thought about the potential consequences for Ireland. They worry that the sanctity of marriage will be called into question if same sex couples can marry. Some felt that civil partnership should be enough and some felt bullied to say Yes. One woman worried that Ireland’s reputation is based on being a family orientated nation and if a yes vote is passed then this cornerstone of Irish culture would be eroded. You can read a straight forward counter to these point here.

But one argument really saddened me and that was the undercurrent that homosexual relationships are not natural. If I’m honest I felt ashamed that this is where I live. Sitting in a car park with the radio on it hit me this is where  I live . I live somewhere where a large number of people feel many of it’s own citizens are unnatural or immoral because of who they love. How widespread this sentiment is felt is yet to be seen but that feeling is here.

When two women find love their bodies releases dopamine and serotonin and they both feel the natural chemical rush of the early stages of love. That scary butterfly feeling of nerves and excitement takes over in a way that doesn’t feel natural but is the most natural, scary and beautiful feeling.

When two men decide they love each other and commit to growing old and bald together their romantic love causes their bodies to release oxytocin (the lovely cuddle chemical) and vasopressin (some kind of natural chemical important in long term relationships).

When a man meets a woman their bodies do all the same lovely chemical things that any couple in love feels.

So, if you’re voting yes you’re also voting for the right to legally recognise natural love and that mad urge to stay with someone forever. You’re voting for people so in love they want to promise to make it last  and bind that promise in law. If you think marriage is important and sacred then definitely vote yes to letting more people do this important thing. If you feel marriage is needed to keep Ireland strong and maintain the importance of family then vote yes for making more legally bound families. If, like me, you’re not really bothered about marriage then vote for the people who are bothered. Vote for people who are in love to be allowed to marry each other, if they want to, because doesn’t that sound like the most natural thing to do?

 

Splish splash

Posted on 17 April, 2015

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Recently a good friend had her second child. Her first child was born two weeks before Ewan. At the time I was too huge to  visit her and spent most of our conversations grilling her for info about the birth! So now that her second has arrived I wanted to make something very special for them. Something that I hope will last and something gloriously cheery. The result is this cheeky puddle jumper …

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I always find deciding to make something and following through are two entirely different things. So when I started to plan a trip to see them and Vibes and Scribes offered to sponsor a craft post, it was a perfect crafting storm, a deadline was born!

 

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 Image via Thrifty Amos Instagram

I love the Vibes and Scribes craft shop and have gone on a bit about them on the blog before. Well,with three floors of crafty goodies, armchairs for knitters and all within walking distance of my house what’s not to go on about! But what I love a little bit more than the shop itself is how nice the staff are. I’m a craft novice but I get notions and like to give things a go. In some fabric or craft shops I feel uncomfortable because I’m not a seamstress nor do I have a degree in art  and I feel like I need a certain level of knowledge even to go in. On the other hand the atmosphere of Vibes and Scribes suits me down to the ground you can go in and describe a vague idea of what you’d like to do and someone there will be able to give you a guiding hand and a few tips and tricks.

Once they got in touch with me about sponsoring a craft post I got planing.

I’m still deciding if I like Pinterest but on this occasion it pulled through for me. I used it to message Colette, the Crafting Guru, some suggestions and vice versa. She is forever patient and helped me out with figuring out how to make images online and vague ideas into real life things.

We gathered around the goodie bag that Vibes and Scribes had given us and got to work. To meet without our kids is essential and so we meet under the cover of darkness away from our wee and tall men! (the photo looks like I have her trapped in a crafting cave but I let her out I swear!)

 

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When your crafting gurus first guidance is “I don’t know how you could make it but sure give it a go” I did began to panic a teeny tiny bit.

It turns out she is totally right. Telling someone how to needle felt is like telling someone how to play with Playdoh, sometimes you just have to play around with it to see what works.

In saying that if she hadn’t guided me I’d still be stabbing a needle with little results so here are a few tips I couldn’t have done without.

1)  Needle felting a free form shape

The raindrops, puddle and clouds were free form with no great plan or template. The advice is you start with less felting wool than you think you’ll need. You can always add more but it’s near impossible to take it off. Put your fluffy felting wool on the dense sponge and get stabbing with your felting needle (I used these ones mainly). When you’ve done one side turn it over.  Shape it a little by gathering it as you go. Then stab the felt at will! As I mentioned in the other felting post, stabbing really is more fun than you’d imagine! When it’s starting to come together you can ditch the dense foam and start stabbing into the shap. This really helps give it shape and a more 3-D shape.

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2)Structured shape with a bit of bulk

Making the umberalla was a task that I had no idea where to start with! But yet again Colette the Crafting guru came to the rescue. First, you make your pipe cleaner umbrella. Next you stuff it with foam. I used a cut up kitchen sponge. We were too busy nattering for me to remember to photograph each step but you can see below this how it is made. The idea of the foam is that it gives your felt something to hold on to.

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3) Making a figure

Making the little boy was the bit I dreaded most. I tried just randomly attaching pipe cleaners to themselves but that didn’t work. So after watching this 3 minute  you tube video all became clear and a Pipe cleaner boy was created…

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Once he was made it was just a matter of stabbing the felt into him. It doesn’t sound very pleasant but it’s great fun! 

WARNING

IF YOU FIND THIS PIPE CLEANER BOY ENDEARING YOU MAY FIND SOME OF THE FOLLOWING IMAGES DISTURBING! 

Viewer Discretion is Advised!

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The striped hat with a bobble and chin ties was a bit excessive but it’s the kind of thing that once you get started you start thinking, well obviously he needs tiny buttons, are cuffs too much? Because you are working with fine needles the world is your oyster in terms of tiny details but for me I have always had a problem of never knowing when enough is enough so I forced myself to quit and face the tricky job of attaching the shapes to the wire frame.

I used half of my Christmas Wreath frame (I’ll worry about that in December!). Hanging this was a NIGHTMARE. There are literally too many moving parts. I won’t go on about how difficult it was because it’s a present but if you are doing to make one I would advice paying someone who is good with knots to hang it for you. I used fishing wire to attach each piece and guided the wire through with a felting needle, the rest was patience!

Once hung it looked like this ..

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But not being able to leave well enough alone I stuffed the wire frame with foam and set to making a felt rainbow.

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And voila, here it is.

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Felting itself doesn’t take long at all and you can start to see results very quickly. I took to needle felting much more than the rolled felting I did a while ago. As an example each rain drop took 5 minute (yes, I timed it!) and the rainbow took about 15 minutes or three Peppa Pig episodes depending on the time scale you use.

The end result is something I love and I really hope it’s recipient will too.

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Where have I been?

Posted on 16 April, 2015

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You might be forgiven for thinking that I have vanished. Well, rest assured I am alive and well.

I would love to say that I have been doing something terribly industrious and important but in truth I’ve been going filling my days with thousands of trips to Fota Wildlife Park  …

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…feeding some hungry kid goats at an open farm….

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On the home front I’ve discovered the wonders of sticking some ginger nuts in with digestives to make a good and crunch crumble!

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When I haven’t been loitering in sunny parks or crumbling I have been crafting my little heart out. My local craft shop Vibes and Scribes have sponsored me to do a crafting blog post. I’m unbelievably thrilled about this. I’m nuts about their shop so when they got in touch I squealed ! After squealing the next obvioius thing to do was to touch with my crafty friend Colette and so the planning and plotting started! I hope to have a finished masterpiece ready really soon, I’m so excited to show you:)

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