Friday, 23 September 2011

Happy to announce the arrival of...

Rowan Jude

Baby girl arrived safely on Monday 19th September 2011 at 10.05am.
Born at home, delivered by Daddy, 9lb 1oz.
All healthy and happy!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Getting things done

Thanks to maternity leave I've been able to straighten out our home, I'm afraid I'm not naturally tidy and I usually let things build up until I'm overwhelmed by the mess!  Well, our house was at that stage again, so I've been having a blitz, not just a put things away and hoover type clean, but a real sort through things and chuck away.  A deep clean, a finding places for things type of clean!  I've started room by room, the kids first!  Trying to designate areas/boxes for different types of toys etc and *whisper* even thrown old/broken/rubbish toys away! They haven't noticed, which means they weren't loved and that we have too many anyway!
Storage is our real problem and at the moment we don't have money to invest in any, so I've been making do with what we have and clearing out what we don't need, which means lots of books gone, old clothes & shoes gone and even a sort out of my fabric stash!  I managed to only keep really lovely fabric, most of the sheets/duvets I've bought from charity shops thinking they'll be useful, have had to go back to the charity shop (where they'll at least generate more money for them) as I can't justify keeping everything when I'm trying to make room for a third baby in our two-bed shoebox of a house!
I've actually moved furniture to hoover rather than going round it!  Which hasn't done much for my painful pelvis though :(
I've had some fabulous help from my family with painting the hall and our feature wall in our lounge - which is now a more darker teal colour and looks fab. 
I've sorted out all the pictures I wanted to put up on our stair wall rather than waiting in a pile and mounted and hung them.

The Ercol shelf is finally up and looks fab, I got this from the charity warehouse months ago for about a fiver and it was quite a dark colour. I'm quite proud of it, after a good sanding and waxing it looks really lovely.

 I shall have to remember to rotate the display!

And I've been experimenting, more Annie Sloan!  I've got two of these chairs and I did start sanding them down to wax but haven't finished them, so I thought I might paint one for an instant make-over.  I did the legs to test but I'm not sure now, the red is so matt it's not very bright, not sure whether I can varnish over to get it glossy?  Or whether it would look cheap if it was shiny?  Any thoughts?

The other bonus of maternity leave and the kids finally being back at school is the time for knitting!

I've finally finished the Debbie Bliss cardigan - the seaming's not very professional but I doubt the baby will mind!

and I'm almost done on the bunny mobile..

All pattern info can be found on my Ravelry page, where you can find me as HoldMyHand.
I've already got the yarn for the next project, another Debbie Bliss pattern!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Baby prep ie. shopping!

Ok so with 6 days to go, I thought I'd round up my baby essentials shopping.  Being baby number three, people assume you've kept all your old equipment & clothes from your last baby's, but living in a shoe-box with no storage and always needing extra pennies, we've always sold our cast-offs at boot fairs.  Seeing as that's where we bought most of the items in the first place, it always seems like good karma!

The items I have saved are sheets & blankets - these were bought new for my first daughter and they were so expensive I haven't dared sell them for mere pounds, because we all know sheets & blankets can come in handy in a crafty household anyway!

Also, maternity trousers!  I find it so hard to get good trousers anyway, but if you're lucky to find comfy (& good looking) maternity trousers/jeans, I recommend you hang onto them!  I favour the over bump elasticated panel, supportive, comfy and no revealing gaps!  In summer they are a little warm though! I have some from H&M, some from Next and some early pregnancy ones from Mothercare - which have a small elasticated waistband, which also come in handy AFTER delivery when you still can't fit in your normal jeans!

This time round I've bought all my tops from eBay, nothing fancy, just basic t-shirts mainly for a few pounds each and it's meant I've had more variation this time round rather than spending a lot of money on a couple of new tops.


I did have good intentions of making several tops, but in the end only got round to one (above)!  Mostly from reticence over spending money on good fabric when I'm not very experienced in dress-making for myself.
The one I did attempt was the Mariposa tunic from Anna Maria Horners' fab book 'Handmade Beginnings'.
I got 4m of Amy Butler fabric (Love collection: Memento in Midnight) from the Sewing with Pleasure show in March and it took me until the summer to have the confidence to cut into it!
I found the instructions very wordy and almost with too much information for me, I think I like more diagrams as I tend to be a bit slapdash and if I know how the garment goes together, I'll usually fudge it together!
So once I actually got down to it and figured out how the pieces were meant to join I just got on an sewed!  Not very neatly but I had fun!  I used the large size being a busty 14/16 up top and a scant seam allowance (rather than getting into re-sizing the pattern) and hoped it would fit.

And actually I'm really happy with it!  If you undo the ties it has a front modesty panel to enable you to breastfeed and I hope to wear it as a normal top afterwards anyway (with a bit of taking in?!)
I'm also considering making the longer dress version in a lighter fabric to wear over jeans in the winter. 

So I've been trying to buy as much stuff second-hand as possible, which means some enjoyable rummaging in charity shops & car boots and browsing eBay!
All the baby's clothes are second-hand, they wear them for such a short amount of time, it's criminal the price of buying new.  Also, not knowing what sex the baby is most items I've bought are neutral/white and I'd rather save my money to get colour appropriate outfits when it's bigger.

Next big purchase - the pram!  For my daughters I had a Graco travel system which had a very useful system of quickly moving the car seat from the pram to the car with no fiddling with seat belts.  The downside being it was heavy and bulky. At about 4 months I moved to the much loved Mclaren Quest buggy, which was a revolution and I'd recommend it wholeheartedly.
So knowing that I only needed a pram for the first few months (as I still have my battered Mclaren in standby) I knew I wouldn't waste money on a new pram, it was definitely going to be second-hand and there are loads at boot fairs/eBay or local noticeboards when you start looking!
Now I was going to just get a cheap Graco again but then I thought about getting a more robust all-terrain type as the one thing the Mclaren doesn't handle very well is off-road walking.  Now we don't do a lot of hiking or anything but we do go for days out, to gardens, fairs, forests, parks and I thought it might be useful to also have a buggy that could handle these.

So I spent some time keeping an eye out on local pram/travel system auctions on Ebay (I love Saved Searches, my current one is for a bike trailer!) and eventually won a Jane Powertrack 360 for the princely sum of £10! It was a bit further away than I wanted but for the price I was very happy!
It was in a bit of a state and needed a good scrub but it came with the carrycot and car-seat parts.  I spent an extra £30 on accessories - a rain cover, a pram mattress and the actual adapters to hold the carrycot (again from eBay) and then spent a lot of elbow grease getting the mud off the frame and bleaching out the mildew from some of the fabric parts (all thoroughly rinsed off after, I found normal stain cleaners rubbish but normal bleach did the trick).

It is rather bulky with the carrycot on but I wanted this so that in the mornings for the school run I didn't have to worry about straps and waking the baby up in the usual scramble!  The car seat also clips on quickly when going out and about and when it's a bit older the fabric seat will get put on and it'll be an off-roader!

I did treat myself to some pads for the car seat as it didn't have any from Kryshees shop on Folksy, as she had some fab fabric, these were made and posted really quick and make the car seat look much newer!

Next big purchase - the cot!  Can you guess? Yes eBay again!  Another local search, this time I needed to be a bit fussy as I wanted the standard size cot so that my saved sheets would fit!  After watching and waiting for awhile, I found this fabulous one, which I think originally came from JoJoMaman Bebe and has the option of being used three sided against your bed, for the fabulous price of £31.

This meant I didn't feel so bad about the extortionate price for the mattress - £99 from Mothercare - I went for the same type as I've had before as it has a removeable zip off cover which I found very handy when you have a sicky baby or leaky nappies in the middle of the night!  I've also saved the spare covers from before which should be handy.
Had a bit of a panic with the matress as they delivered the wrong one - it was a cot bed size but they were very apologetic at customer services and sent out the correct one the very next day. Being 38 weeks pregnant at the time, I was convinced the baby would come before it did, like sods law, thankfully not though!

So eBay has been my salvation with this baby and helped us spend as little money as possible because frankly there's not much left over every month to afford the type of offerings in the Mothercare catalogue!  I do hope most new parents don't get sucked into the over-priced 'must haves' that they offer, the 'helpful' shopping list they provide at the back of the catalogue must be a real money spinner!  Don't even get me started on the designer prams!

The other source I've found for new items on a budget is Ikea, bit of a drive for us to get to, but when you're getting a lot of items I think it makes the petrol cost worthwhile.
Their baby range is really lovely and affordable and has all the basics.  I was going to get the cot and mattress from there if I couldn't find a suitable secondhand one, as they had a good one for only £60, there is a cheaper one still but not as sturdy looking.

So on a recent trip I got a bundle of their cheap white hand towels - 19p each! These can be used as muslins, for changing the baby on, or as I'm hoping to make bibs with!

Muslins, why are these so expensive? I got this three pack for £2.99 as I liked the colours. I've already got a bundle off eBay, and being pre-used their much softer - these Ikea ones are huge though, so I may even cut them in half them to get more for my money.  If you have babies who like to sick up/dribble out a lot of their bottlefeeds, you'll want a load of these!

Baby flannels/washcloths £2.99 for 10, these again can be useful for lots of things, burb cloths, flannels for bath time or meal times, keeping in the change bag for spills, as muslins, I did look into making your own baby wipes, which these might be good for? 

And lastly, bibs, if you're bottlefeeding, again you'll want a load of these and as a staple they seem to be rather expensive in the high street, these pack of 5 were only £1.99! Bargain, I nearly bought more, but am really going to try and make some of my own, probably using these as a template!

So with 6 days to go, I think I'm set!  The time really flies with subsequent babies, there's no time to sit and relax and ponder like when it's your first!  And trying to complete the rush of the school run while heavily pregnant and with a painful pelvis, well, they don't talk about that in the pregnancy books!