Friday, 16 December 2011

Feeling Christmas

He's on his way!
Ok, so I guess it's time for a few Christmassy photos on this here blog.  School finished today and the boys are tucked up on the sofa bed watching Polar Express, so I'm beginning to feel a little more festive!
The end of term kind of crept up on me this year, probably because of the business of shows, so I feel a bit like I'm catching up with myself!

It's funny how this time of year can get you all nostalgic and when you get to my ripe old age (!!!) you find yourself yearning for the simple treats you had as a child, or things you remember making or doing when you were tiny.  I remember there was always lots of food to be indulged in in our house - and by that I mainly mean making - of course we all loved eating too, but there was as much fun to be had in the concocting and squeezing into the same hot kitchen as everyone else trying to make their speciality dish!  Our family endeavoured to be creative in its festivities and we often had curry for Christmas - and are doing so this year.  I know that doesn't sound very Christmas like - but we have found that it gives everyone the chance to contribute (it's hard to get curry badly wrong!), you can make dishes beforehand and they actually improve with time, and its really good fun. Plus - it reminds us all of Dad - who was the best curry maker you could ever meet and gives us a chance to use some of the ingredients he left us from his shelf of tricks - jars of every variety of spice, paste and leaf you could imagine.  What a marvellous inheritance!

This year I have set my mind to making these sorts of memories with the children too.  I confess that I am usually whirling about the house at this time of year, hiding presents, ordering things, writing lists and covering myself in a mountain of half-made present projects.  I have often asked for exceeding patience from the children while I do all of this - and yes, it does all still have to be done.  BUT, this year I am going to try to find at least a few moments to share some fun with the littlies.  Last weekend, I found myself alone for the afternoon with all five, while hubby went off for a band practise and so we made a gingerbread house and gingerbread biscuits for the tree.

I have to day, I truly loved sharing baking with them. The heat of the gooey gingerbread mix when you first tumble it out of the bowl, rolling it out and teaching them how to get the most cuts out of each roll, making tiny piping bags for each of them to decorate with.  The teachers each got a bag.....

the tree is decorated.....

and the gingerbread house is due to be covered in sweets this weekend and will be the centrepiece of the children's table on Christmas day.

Sounds idyllic, doesn't it?!  Well, I can assure you, the pay off for an afternoon of baking with the children is a messy house and no uniforms ready for school the next day- and let no blogger tell you otherwise.  But, it felt good and I know they will remember it and anyway - as I've said before......
So, tonight I am doing more baking for grown up presents.  I have a lovely recipe for Florentines, scribbled on a scrap of paper years ago which I usually use - but alas, the piece of paper which usually pops up whenever I need it, is no-where to be found, so I may have to try Nigella, courtesy of this blog over here.

Whilst looking for it though, I did come across these...

A real memory from childhood.  I remember making these sweets for my family when I was a girl, marvelling at the exotic ingredients....cream of tartar....gelatin....and all types of fruit and nuts.  I remember the taste of the marzipan for the first time and shaping it into little delicacies.  I remember thinking that I was making something really special.  Something that would be appreciated by its grown up recipients.  Something that would be enjoyed.  That's a precious thing to give a child - the opportunity to bless an adult.  And, yes, now that I'm a parent, I am fully aware of what goes into the peppermint creams we are occasionally treated to; remembering how I squidged and rolled mine when I was a child!  But, I guess the important and oh, so lovely thing is that they properly feel that they have given you something they are proud of.

It seems like there isn't enough time to fit it all in - I have so many things I want to make for the children...Abney and Teal Dolls for Noah and Reuben and pencil cases for each of them.  Ah, well, I will do what I can and remember that the time is the most precious thing.  It's probably a twee thing to say, but as they are growing older and babies become little men, it's ever more precious.  And if they get some late surprise presents later in January...or February when I have time to do them,  then does it really matter?

In the meantime I'm making the house as cosy and festive as possible - tree up,

advent calender and basket of books unfolding the wonder of the Christmas story,

sweety bowls glistening in the fairy lights,

lots of snugly blankets on the sofa and Radio Times heavily circled by Eldest Child........aaaaah!

Well, I can hear The Polar Express is pulling into the station, so time to get tired boys to bed!

Enjoy your Christmas preparations!

My favourite Christmas book by Jane Ray

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


 I'm sitting here tonight, with my long awaited glass of wine and a rather lovely jar of homemade marshmallows (courtesy of the neighbouring stall at Monday night's show) and feeling very chuffed with myself.  It is the first evening in a looOOOong while that I haven't had stacks of sewing to do and stock to replenish for the next show.  BOY does it feel Goooooood!  Sorry about all the oooooing!

The monsters were inspired by my 7 year old, Ben, who is constantly drawing monsters - all friendly, of course and all with super powers.  They went down really well at all the shows and I have a growing soft spot for them.  I think there may be a new range in these....

It's been a hectic month, but one which has been most fulfilling.  There have truly been things that have meant the housework could not happen - which is a blessing in some ways, but not in others!  I am actually strangely looking forward to sorting the house out before Christmas decorations go up.   I have learnt an awful lot and I have a long list of things I want to achieve in the new year - not least of which, sorting out an on line shop and posting some tutorials here, so that I can share my love of craftiness.

So, a theme is emerging and I'd better be careful if I'm going to make selling at shows a habit - CAKES!  Saturday did not disappoint, with a beautiful selection of homemade goodies provided by Emma, from Newton's bakery.  I'm partial to carrot cake, as good friends will know and a lovely big slice kept me going through the mammoth 10 hour show!  I will admit to having a brownie mid afternoon too - but in my defence, I was on my feet for nearly 12 hours straight! Anyway, the cakes were lovely and Emma and her mum were good company too!  If you want to order Emma's  delicious cakes, you can contact her at

I was hoping to show you some very festive photos of the Christingle service we love to go to at a neighbouring church in this blog post - but without going into too many details (so as to spoil your lingering thoughts of cake!) Noah was a bit ill (let's say!) at the crucial moment and so, although the older boys were able to parade round the church with their lit Christingles, I was outside with a rather soggy 3 year old and Jonny was inside with lots of kitchen roll!  There's no delicate way to write about it, suffice to say, children choose their moments.  I choose to laugh at these moments.  We're getting quite seasoned in them now.  So, no lovely photos.

I did want to show you this lovely thing though - a charity shop find from my lovely friend Esther - who knows me so well!  I love it when people bring me things like this - or bags of random scraps of fabric, usually with the words "I'm not sure what you'll do with this!"... but, oooh - something wonderful!  This particular piece of delicate net was surely part of a little girl's dressing up box, or perhaps once adorned an tea party table.  Who knows?!  That's the delicious thing about vintage and reclaimed fabric - it had history.

I hope I will be able to bring you some pictures as the week goes on though - now that the hectic rush of shows is over and the festivities can begin in earnest in the Welch household.  There is greenery to be brought in, lights to hang and a tree to decorate, so watch this space!

For now though, I am off to do a it of Kirstie watching and Christmas present planning - more making!  (I do love it!)


Monday, 28 November 2011

The Joys of Noise - a little encouragement for weary mums.

Sometimes I get to the end of a day and my ears are ringing.  Actually, that's most days in the Welch household.  I don't know about the whole Nature/nurture debate - but I do know that five boys (the plural for boys in our house is a Bundle), makes for a LOT of physicality and a LOT of noise!  Most of the time that's fine and good, but sometimes (like in the middle of a church service or school assembly) that's a bit tricky!

Nothing has stretched my patience and determination the way bringing up children has (and is!).  It's a long haul and I'm only a small part of the way in.


 Motherhood can be a very lonely thing - even when you are surrounded by friends and family.  Somehow, you can believe that no-one else knows or is interested in what you are going through.  You believe, perhaps, that you should just get on with it, because that's what everyone else has to do. I guess because it is something so commonplace it has become almost invisible.  I'm rambling with a purpose.....

Each family is different and has its different pressures.  For me, it's that we have five full of life, noisy, raucous, energetic boys and a home that reflects that!  For others it will be something different entirely.  Nothing tests your reserves, stretches your love, checks your reality, grounds your dreams, challenges your intellect, expands your creativity, tickles your funny bone, jangles your nerves and disturbs your sleep more than bringing up children.  Nothing makes you question yourself, raise your game, find that extra mile of energy, love without conditions, see beyond what others see and keep on trying like parenthood.  There is nothing commonplace about it.

Hats off to you if you've just suffered your umpteenth night in a row of no sleep.  May  your moments of rest be refreshing.
Hats off to you if you've just sacrificed something you really wanted to do, because it just didn't fit in with the kids.  May there be some moments soon, just for you.
Hats off to you if you have made yourself sick with worry and you hold on by a thread most days.  You're not alone.
Hats off to you if you have done nothing today but clean a house, cook a meal, pick up numerous toys, played farms with a 2 year old.....your time has been well invested.  May you reap what you have sown.
Hats off to you if you've just got it wrong - forgotten something ever so important (dropped a child off to a fancy dress party at the end time rather than the beginning by mistake....oh, yes), you're human and that twang of sadness when you think of it probably won't go away, but it does confirm how deeply you love your child.
Hats off to you if you are just about holding it together.  May you find the listening ear and warm hug you need.

 I know this is a bit of a strange blog post - and if you were hoping for pretty things, I apologise.  I hope every now and again, you don't mind a little wandering off the beaten track of crafting to my other passion in life - letting people know they are doing well and they are great.  So, if you've read this and you feel even a little better about your day, then it was worth the risk!

And now for a cup of tea.


Saturday, 26 November 2011


 Another show over and a really lovely atmosphere at Wisborough Green.  It's such a lovely village, especially this time of year when it's horse chestnut lined green bursts into Autumnal oranges and reds.  It was lovely to chat with people and get a bit more into the Christmas spirit - which is proving more difficult this year, with the late warm weather we've been having.  Not that I'm complaining!

When I got back from the show, there was just time for a quick bowl of beetroot soup with feta and croutons.....

and then off to the woods for a leafy walk with the boys and their cousins.  And yes, it is all boys in our family.  We currently have five sons and five nephews! It's just the two youngest in this photo - the others are all playing hide and seek!

 I did manage to stop a couple of times to admire the scenery before the relentless pace of the boys spurred me on.  This lichen was particularly lovely colours, don't you think?  Perfect inspiration for a new project of some kind....

Once again, one of the highlights of the show for me was the cake stand - this time the baking expertise of Judy and Kate from Wisborough Green, who had come fresh from icing sugar covered kitchens with their trays of delicious and quite stunningly beautiful cupcakes, tiffin and biscuits.  The whole array of goodies displayed natural baking talent and an eye for making them look as pretty as a picture.  It didn't take long for their stall to empty.  Hats off to you ladies and by the way, loved the popping candy in the tiffin - nice surprise!

My cousin, Natalie and my mum had a stall next to me today - Natalie makes blinds and curtains for a living and I am quite envious of her precision and crispness when it comes to making things from fabric.  I consoled myself with a new apron from her stand - isn't it gorgeous!  I have wanted a new one for a while - sometimes I spend most of my waking hours in an apron and my current one was looking very sad!  This one will be worthy of answering the door in and will certainly cheer me up about having to wear one for the whole day!

So, we did manage to squeeze in a very lovely Thanksgiving dinner last night too - complete with cola baked ham, courtesy of Esther, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry and pear relish and maple and pecan carrots  all finished off with Pumpkin pie and maple cream.  Mmmmm.  (Sorry, no photos of the food - we were all too hungry!!!) Perhaps this is why I woke up so late this morning with only just enough time to pack everything into the car and get on my way, thermos mug in hand!

Tonight is definitely time for that relaxing bath and peruse of Mollie Makes I have been promising myself, before the week ahead, which I think will be full of Bag Buddy making, as I have almost sold out!

Friday, 25 November 2011


I just wanted to stop by and show you a few things I am loving and being Thankful for today, amidst the preparations for another show tomorrow.....

The wonderful world of Abney and Teal.  Thank you CBeebies!  I could while away hours watching these beautifully illustrated quirky, wonderful stories....aaaaah - just what children's TV should be.

Friends who make lovely things for my children and who I can share my love of handmade, pretty, vintage.....Thank you Jo

Noah's new P-Js - with elephant aplique
One of Noah's special friends was 3 the week before him
We had a pretty vintage tea party for her!  How cute!

A magazine that finally hits the spot for me as a maker.  Soooo looking forward to making a few of these when I get some time - Thank you Mollie Makes

and how gorgeous is this tutorial for a Christmas sleepy doll?!!!  Hmmm, do I have time to make one or two as presents....who would like one? Thank you Tone Finnager.

Finding satisfying things to make that bring new skips to my heart every time I make them - and these necklaces, just like my bags bring me that same excitement about colour and texture combinations. Oh, yes - I do love making these!

In fact, it occur ed to me that circles is a bit of a recurring theme in my work - right back to my student days and my final exhibition paintings.  These two belong to a triptych about Creation, the red being humanity, the blue being the cosmos and an absent green (it is currently on the wall of good friends) representing the organic world.  The pieces are a mixture of large gestures and small marks made with fingerprints and the holes cut into the surface of the painting are a reminder of our part in Creation and the space we have to fill with our distinct creativity. Thank you education system that encouraged creativity and valued individuality.

I loved the freedom I had during my 5 years Fine Art training to experiment and enjoy and although I don't have the space or time at the moment to create in this way, I am SO blessed to have my little garden studio, full of everything I need to make the small scale work I am able to these days.  Thank you Dad.
Anyway - must get back to the bag making! 

I'll check in again after the show tomorrow - and maybe with some pics of our Thanksgiving meal tonight.  Thank you America!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

My Lovely Weekend

What a lovely way to spend the weekend!  It felt a lot like this was the beginning of a new chapter in the life of Redeem Creations.  Over the last ten years I have brought five children into the world - which has without doubt been the most creative challenge of my life! (And will always be!)  One of the challenges has been laying down Redeem each time a new baby was on his way - never quite getting a good enough "run" at it to do it the way I wished I could.  I've learned so much about myself and how to keep creativity alive over this time and I'm sure I will continue to do so and one of the greatest joys is sharing my passion for making things with my children.

This weekend felt like the first time I have been able to think cohesively about my collection of handmade things and how I wanted to present them.  It felt good to bring it all together!

My lovely friend, Esther and I had such fun, setting up the stall (Can't get away from that little girl feeling of playing shop, even at 37!), and chatting with customers and each other.

It was also great to meet some fellow makers - like Nerys, my new blogging friend who makes the most beautiful things from up cycled paper, buttons and maps.  Not only were Nerys's things utterly lovely - but the lady herself was funny and friendly.  I'm adding her blog to my daily reads - so you can have a peek too!  I do hope we bump into each other again sometime soon!

A Nerys creation
The weekend would not have been half as nice without our supply of tea and cakes from the ladies at "The Tea Set" cafe, set in one of the barns.   It's rare to get such a lovely cuppa at things like this, but it didn't disappoint - and the cakes....oh my goodness!  Delicious!  All served up from the beautiful pop up cafe in the yard, complete with vintage china, bunting, 1950s aprons and beaming smiles.  Just what you hope for and the finishing touch to such a lovely event.  Hannah, who is the lady behind The Tea Set has a fantastic website, well worth a look, over here.  Perfect to sit down and have a secret sigh over in your afternoon tea break. Aaaaaah....pretty things......

It was also a treat to peruse the pretty things on the Cinnamon Kids stall - a delectable mix of handmade goodies and vintage china, books, toys and trinkets.  I may have spent a few pounds here, but I'm not telling......

And - meet the lovely Becky on her stall for GirlsTravelClub - a great mix of travel accessories and gifts - so much to take in, I may have to spend a while on her website, seeing which Christmas list boxes I can tick!
some of the lovely things from girlstravelclub

OK, so it was a fab weekend - my stall looked the way I had hoped it would, people seemed to love the things I had made, I met some like minded makers, spent some quality time with a good friend, even purchased a couple (or three...or four) little things myself - which I PROMISE I will be giving away for Christmas.  Honest!  All in all - it felt like the perfect way to kick off the new chapter of Redeem Creations.  One in which I work terrifically hard, but get to do something I LOVE with a passion.  Talking of which - I ought to be out in my studio right now, making more Teeny Totes to replace the ones that have found new homes!!!

Teeny Tote "kits" ready to be sewn up
A little mention finally for my gorgeous little Noah, who turned 3 on Sunday and celebrated with a "Mike the Knight" cake, finished by mummy at about 11.30pm on Saturday night!  Phew!  He is our ray of sunshine.

P.S. Thanks to everyone who helped me get to last weekend and thanks to everyone who keeps encouraging me to go for it.  It really does keep me going at midnight, when I'm stitching up the 27th bag in a row!