Life lately: winter 2017

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My Jasmine is covered in buds already

Wow, the past few weeks really got away from me there. As the saying goes, when it rains it pours! Everything seemed to all happen at once. So today I thought I’d update you on the happenings in my little family. I’m just going to start typing and see what comes out, so I apologise if this turns out to be long and not make much sense.

We had a huge expo at work that we participated. So from a work perspective, I was so caught up in preparation and then the actual show that I barely came up for air. The stress levels were high let me tell you!

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This cheeky face is everything!

In amongst all of that, we also had visits from family, winter illnesses, some new home additions and life as usual stuff to deal with. It’s been real.

I was so stoked that we managed to see my sister and brother in law for a whirlwind visit a week or so ago. We went to a huge family shindig with R’s family and it was a lot of fun. Willow had a blast playing with all her new friend. We ate amazing food, drank a tonne of champagne and got to have a bit of a catch-up. In usual style, Carmen and Ricky were only in the country for a week as they were attending a wedding in Durban. So it was great that we managed to squeeze some time in.

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Sick day cuddles with these two

We also got to spend some time with A’s mom and aunt. It was also a whirlwind visit, but we had a lovely dinner and Willow got in a lot of snuggle time. We are hoping to head to A’s folks’ place for a relaxing weekend this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

On the home front, A made me the plant stand I have been harping on about for ages. It’s not quite finished yet, but it’s so close! The copper frame is all done, we just need to find a little free time to sand and stand the top. It came out better than I could have hoped! I really want to make one for the upstairs room now as well.

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I’ve been indulging my creative side and working on my lettering skills

We also invested in some new dining room chairs. We ordered Tolix style chairs in a metallic bronze finish and Tolix style nook stools in a colour called Chrysler Blue. They are just gorgeous. They play up the slightly industrial feeling we have in our home and really work well with our dining room table. I’m really happy with them.

I have unpacked the sewing machine a few times this winter, which I am really happy with. I have made a pair of PJ pants, a skirt, a gown for Willow and I have some great patterns for summer things that I’m amped to try out. I hope to get to the fabric store soon to pick up the materials that I need to get started. My hope is to tackle at least one, but hopefully two projects a month, each one using a different technique to help me hone my skills.

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Willow modelling one of the hats I made. I have no idea what the face is about…

I have also been knitting up a storm. Nothing is better on a cold weekend afternoon when the whole family is sick that snuggling up on the couch with Disney movies and a pile of knitting. I have been making so many hats! They are so quick and satisfying to whip up. And most exciting of all is that my stash busting striped jersey is almost done. I have completed the front and back panels and just need to make the sleeves.

All in all, we’ve had a good winter so far, but I am more than ready for it to be over now. We’ve had a bad run with illnesses and it seems to be everyone this season. My friend’s son was admitted to hospital for almost a week with respiratory infections. Willow has been struggling to shake an ear and sinus infection. As soon as we have it under control our GP has recommended that we see an ENT to discuss grommets as the situation is now getting out of hand. A has just been on a major case of cortisone for his sinus issues and I’m still struggling to shake mine and this annoying cough I’ve developed. I would really like all of us to be healthy again, please and thank you.

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On the health front, all of us have spent our fair share in bed with tea feeling sorry for ourselves

In the effort of improving our health, it dawned on me that I have been so busy trying to keep all my balls in the air that I am neglecting myself a little. Dinners have turned into quick solutions that aren’t necessarily the greatest choice with take out happening more than it should. I have also not been exercising and haven’t been sleeping well. So now that life is calming down a bit I have resolved to get back on the healthy eating band waggon.

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I have been knitting up a storm and loving it!

I have actually done some meal planning for the first time in over a month and have a week’s work of healthy food ideas, I have eaten breakfast for the first time in ages as well and I did a work out session that has left me stiff and sore. It feels really good! I forgot what it felt like to really challenge my body and I am determined that I will work out at least three times a week.

So that is my long rambly update. If you stuck around you deserve a medal! I hope to get back to my usual posting schedule this week.

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Tango is perfectly camouflaged with our new carpet

Sewing project: Kids gown

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I made Willow a gown over the weekend. My desire to learn how to sew is still going strong and I’m so proud of each project I complete.

Unlike other projects, this was a completely solo effort. I set out the pattern, cut the fabric and sewed the gown together all by myself. It’s not perfect by any means, but I’m really chuffed with how it turned out.

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I chose this really pretty mint minky fabric with stars on it. The fabric itself gave me some issues. It’s really soft and fluffy and that made for some slipping and I missed a section of two and needed to go back and do it again.

The pattern was for a three-year-old, but I just rolled with it. The final product is quite big for Willow, but it’s so cosy and as it’s a gown, I really don’t mind.

Cutting the fabric myself was really intimidating. But once I got going I found myself in a groove and got it done quite quickly. I had issues with the pockets of the gown and in the end decided to leave it off altogether.  I have the pockets set to one side; if I feel it needs them I can add them at a later date. There was talk of interfacing which was all too much for my brain at the time.

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The actual sewing of the gown was quite simple and I got the main body together in a good time I think. I had missed some tailor tacks and needed to repin the fabric and add them, but after that, it was very simple.

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Except for the collar. I was going along quite well and was half way through sewing on the collar when A called me to come help with a really bad nappy change. I’ll spare you the details, but let me just say that Willow is on antibiotics and it’s really messed with her system. When I got back to the collar I continued sewing, but somehow I managed to miss a section and sew the collar on skew. I had to take the whole thing off and start again. I tried using the seam ripper but the fabric made it really hard to see the stitches. In the end, it was simpler to just cut the collar off with scissors.

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Here’s what I learned from the experience:

  1. You can never use enough pins. Use plenty when pinning down the fabric and use plenty when sewing. You will prevent the fabric from slipping this way. You will go a little slower as you need to remove the pins as you go, but for a beginner, that’s not a bad thing.
  2. Make sure you’re sewing both layers of fabric otherwise you get holes. Obvious I know, but still important to keep in mind.
  3. Take your time when cutting the fabric. This is the most crucial part and you’ll be sorry if you weren’t paying attention. The sewing kind of takes care of itself.
  4. Don’t’ tug or pull at the fabric when you’re cutting the pattern. You’ll distort it and things won’t go together as well.
  5. Pay attention to all the additional markings on pattern such as tailor tacks etc. Do it right the first time and it will save you time in the long run.

Willow at 2 and a half years

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Willow was a flower girl in my friend’s wedding

I hadn’t really intended on doing another post until the little raggamuffin turns three, but I feel like so much has been going on lately that it warrants an update.

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Just your typical Saturday morning mayhem

Talking

The first thing is that Willow talks up a storm. She speaks in sentences, makes perfect sense and clearly makes herself understood. Don’t get me wrong. There are still moments when she says something to me and I look at her with a bit of a blank stare because I have no clue what she wants. But those moments are becoming less and less these days.

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The last pic I have of Willow pre-haircut. Willow loves to play dress up

Music

She loves music. She is a big fan of Disney movies, especially Moana and Frozen. Her favourite songs are ‘You’re Welcome’ and ‘Let it Go’. Willow will often demand they be played about a hundred times a day and that’s no exaggeration. She also spontaneously sings them while going about her business. Generally, she’s happy with any music and will come up and ask me to put something on so she can dance and sing. It’s the cutest this ever. She is singing her own made up songs more and more.

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She often asks me if she can go shopping

On the go

She is also an incredibly busy soul. She’s on the go constantly from the moment she wakes up to the time she goes to bed. We are seeing more and more ‘toddler’ like moments where she will refuse to bath or resist a sleep time. But on the whole, she is a very happy, go-with-the-flow person. She loves to build towers, do puzzles and go shopping.

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She has a keen sense of self and will make her needs known very effectively. She likes to choose her own items to dress in and at the very least has firm opinions on shoes and accessories

Independence

She does have an independent streak a mile wide. She likes to do things her way in her time. I have become very good at picking my battles. Some things are not worth fighting over, but when we draw a line in the sand then we need all our wits about us to stick to our guns.

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She likes to know when something belongs to her. She refers to herself as Lillow, Mine and Me. She uses me correctly as well, which I find fascinating

Separation Anxiety

She is going through a major mommy phase. She will have a meltdown every night because she doesn’t want A to do bedtime, or give her a kiss or cuddle. It has gotten particularly bad since we went overseas and can be exhausting at times. We’re trying to have more alone time with her and A to try and bring some balance to the force. Cuddles, in general, have become rare things. I feel very blessed when I get one. She doesn’t like to be kissed but can dole out kisses with heart-melting sweetness. The other day she thought the skirt I was wearing was pretty and gave it a kiss.

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Sleeping

In terms of sleeping, we have been blessed. We had a period there when we got back from overseas, where she wasn’t sleeping well. I was already jet lagged and Willow was waking up two sometimes three times a night for two weeks. It was a lot to handle. But we fell back on our sleep training techniques and we’ve settled down to a great routine. She’s done with bath and in her PJs by 7pm, ready for stories. Lights out is usually at 7.30pm and she only wakes up at 7.30 the next morning, although recently she has been waking up earlier and coming into our room for cuddles and cartoons. She still naps during the day for about two hours. I have to be careful to not let her sleep past 2.30pm though, otherwise getting her down for the night is hard.

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This is such an accurate depiction of our life. The house is a mess, the photo is blurry, but the toddler is happy and so am I

Eating

Eating is also great. Her teachers have remarked on her healthy appetite. She still loves broccoli, courgettes, peas, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, banana, cheese and more. We’ve recently discovered she is a huge fan of sauteed cabbage. She also really, really, really loves eggs and will ask for them all the time. She’s big into chicken and yogurt. She eats a well-rounded diet most days. She still doesn’t like orange vegetables though, but I’m persisting with them. I keep offering. Hopefully, it will take. And at the moment she is always asking for sweets, which has been tricky to navigate.

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She has a great sense of adventure but is still very cautious to start off with. She doesn’t rush into things, but takes her time and observes until she is comfortable.

So that’s where we are now. We do have temper tantrums and other toddler specific issues, usually when she’s tired or hungry. But so far so good. I would say we’re managing ‘the terrible twos’ pretty well.

 

Things that made me happy in June

My garden – We did our seasonal cleanup and planting session. The garden always looks its best after we get stuck into it. We removed a lot of the spent flowers and just neatened things up a bit and then planted some summer colour. It is looking really great right now and I enjoy sitting out on the balcony, soaking up some sun and enjoying a cup of tea.

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This was the gown I made for Willow. I have a full post on it coming

Learning to sew – I attacked this with vigour this month and I’m so proud of everything I have made. So far I have made a pair of pyjama pants, a gown for Willow, a skirt for myself and I have another pair of pants which I plant o whip up soon. I am full of plans for what I want to make next and I have to say that I really enjoy it.

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The last pic I have of Willow pre-haircut. She adores her Snow White outfit

Disney dance parties – Willow is a huge fan of Moana and Frozen. She wants to watch them constantly, but I can distract her from the TV screen by outing the soundtracks on and having a dance party with her. Watch her spin, dance and sing along is the cutest thing ever!

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This is such an acurate depiction of our life. The house is a mess, the photo is blurry, but the toddler is happy and so am I

Conversations with my two-year-old – Willow’s progressed so much in learning to talk. We now get short sentences that make total sense more often than now (I still have moments when I have no clue what she’s trying to tell me, but they occur less and less). These days we have actual conversations where she tells me all sorts of things. She also reads A and me books in the evenings. I love it.

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Winter soups and stews – One of the few things I enjoy about winter is soups and stews. I have been making a lot of them lately. It’s so nice to sit in the warm toasty kitchen and eat soup. Willow is also a big fan.

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My little vacuum. I love him so much

Taurus Hex Vacuum – A bought this for me after hearing me complain endlessly about needing to bring out the big vacuum just to tidy up the kitchen. Now Jarvis (that’s its name) does all that for me. I use him between the days I do the big vacuum just to keep everything in order and works like a bomb.  Total game changer.

Friday Favourites: June 30

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My favourite Le Creuset mug recently left us for the giant cup of tea in the sky… It will be missed

Ever feel like your week is stuck in really thick mud and no matter how hard you work things just never get done? That was my week. It was tough on an emotional level and I feel drained.

I have been really struggling in terms of productivity lately. I have been having a hard time picking up some momentum this month and getting myself going. I decided to clean our kitchen/dining area on Tuesday and I worked the whole afternoon and feel like I just moved the mess from the kitchen table to the dining table.

I smashed my favourite mug; my pile of things to get through just never seemed to get any less. I feel like this whole week needs a do over.

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Willow is very into dress up at the moment

I think the whole mood was the result of one very personal conversation that just left me reeling a bit. I have been struggling to come to terms with it in my head. I know there is no sense in obsessing over things, but I feel this will take me a while to work through.

I did manage to end the week on a high note though. With a clean home, some healthy meals and a great big pile of knitting I’m looking forward to a restful weekend. A has said we can do a DIY project I’ve been dying to try. So I’m really looking forward to that.

Hope you have a great weekend. Chat soon xx

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Purchase of the week: I bought some really great wooden circular needles for a little hat I’m putting together for Willow Bug. This is my current ‘couch’ project and I think it will come together beautifully. I love bamboo needles and prefer them over metal or plastic. You get less slip so you have less chance of dropping stitches.

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Product of the week: I have been struggling with ants, aphids and scale on a few of my plants and nothing I spray on them has helped. Then I read about using essential oils in the garden to get rid of pests naturally. I quickly whipped up a batch and applied it to everything. So far so good. It definitely looks to be more effective than the malasol I hate using.

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Project of the week: I have been industriously working away on my scrap jersey and I’m delighted with how it’s coming together. The pattern in from loveknitting.com and it’s design to use up left over DK wool. Basically you work in the stripe pattern, using whatever colours you have lying around. It is looking too cool and is coming together so quickly. It’s a lot of fun as well and very simple, so you don’t need crazy skills to achieve it.

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I also made another scarf on the weekend, using up two more balls of wool. Yay me!

Random: As I mentioned I’ve got some personal stuff I am working through. I am not one to dwell on regrets. But every now and then something happens to shift my perspective on things and it takes a while for my world to right itself. It has left me feeling very off balance emotionally. This year has been full of challenges on a personal level so far and while I feel I’m growing as a person it is not without growing pains. It just goes to show that I am still very much a work in progress.

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ready for school picture day!

Best moment: I was getting Willow dressed on Thursday morning and told her that she was having pictures taken at school that day. She then insisted that she put on a little lipstick and admired herself in the mirror telling me how pretty she looked. When I got dressed she decided my skirt was very pretty and needed a kiss. Cue the heart explosions.

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Off on a walk at my parents’ house

Looking forward to: Making a plant stand! We have a litter box in the corner of our dining room and it has really started to bug me. Unfortunately, there is nowhere else for it to go. So I have asked A to help me make a plant stand out of copper pipes so that we can disguise it a little bit. I have seen these floating around Pinterest a lot lately ad I really want one in our home. I’ve also asked him to help me make a clothing rail for Willow so we can hang up her growing collection of dress up clothes. I’m really excited to see how they turn out.

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Communing with a ‘pretty mommy cow’ her words – it’s a very large bull btw…

My cleaning routine

I’m a very routine driven person, but I also get very lazy, especially when it comes to things I don’t like doing, such as housework.

I have been known to let the housework slide to disastrous levels, then get incredibly overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of the task involved in cleaning up.

But with age comes a little bit of wisdom (not much, but some.) and I have learned that by using my need for routine, I can overcome my laziness toward housework by a small degree. I implemented a cleaning schedule a few months ago and I am very pleased to say, that barring a few setbacks, I have stuck to it quite well.

I realized that by letting the housework pile up I was even less inclined to do it and I absolutely hated spending the majority of my day cleaning the house. These days I clean a little bit everyday and its working! Now my house will never be featured in Garden and Home, but it’s comfortable and I love it. I feel so much lighter when the space around me is under control. I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

If like me you struggle with the concept of being a domestic goddess, maybe a cleaning schedule is for you. I have tasks that need to be done daily, weekly tasks and special tasks (these include washing windows, dusting light fixtures, cleaning the oven, washing rugs etc.) The special tasks can be done when you have time to fit them in throughout the week, but the whole system is designed so that I shouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes to an hour on housework a day.

This is what my cleaning routine looks like:

Daily tasks:

A load of laundry from start to finish (except the items that need to be ironed)

Unpack, load and run the dishwasher. Wash the dishes that need to be done by hand and put them away.

Wipe down the kitchen counters and dining room table

Take care of clutter immediately

Make the beds

Check the floors

Weekly tasks:

Monday – Bathrooms

Tuesday – Dust the whole house

Wednesday – Vacuum the whole house

Thursday – Mop the whole house

Friday – Ironing

Weekend – change the sheets, wash sheets and towels.

Stash busting

As I mentioned on Friday I have been knitting obsessed lately. I think it’s a combination of the cold and the drive to finish up some of the wool I’m hoarding.

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I have been on a stash-busting mission and I’m incredibly proud of my efforts so far. My wool collection has been getting a little out of hand and something needed to be done. So I have taken the bull by the horns so to speak.

Over the weekend I used up one ball completely by making a really cute scarf for Willow. It was lovely variegated chunky wool in pinks and purples. So I knit it up simply using garter stitch, seamed it to make a snood and presto. A cute little scarf that I made quickly (it would have been done in about an hour, but because I had issues with how many stitches to cast on it took about two; still really good going.

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I also finished a scarf for her that I have been making for ages. I had intended for it to be a long scarf infinity scarf that needs to be twisted once. But I got so bored of knitting it that when it was long enough to turn into a snood I cast off and seamed it up. It’s really cute and warm and Willow loves it.

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I also finished up that ball of double knit to make a little hat to match. I found the pattern on Etsy and it’s adorable. It has a little flower and a stripe in a contrasting colour. It was relatively easy to knit and very quick. I made a few mistakes, but that’s the best way to learn. The next one will look even better.

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I am still working away at the Pipet pattern I started ages ago. I have nearly finished the yoke and sleeves and will then be able to move onto the short rows. It’s been a real challenge and the pattern and wool are fiddly so I can only work on it when I can concentrate.

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My stash busting jersey is looking all kinds of gorgeous. Plus it’s quick and so fun to make

I have started another project though. This one is specifically designed for stash busting. I’m basically using up all sorts of odds and ends to create a striped jersey. It’s incredibly fun and easy to knit and I’ve already gotten quite far. I love how it’s coming together! I’ve already used up some odd bits in the knit and it was thrilling.

I love how it feels to finish things. The older I get the more of a kick I get out of it. Now my feeling of elation has expanded beyond the pure joy of finishing a project to the joy of finishing a skein of wool.

Friday Favourites: June 23

Last week was so hectically productive that I’ve felt this week was slow and dragged on a bit in comparison.

I just haven’t been able to build any momentum this week and felt behind the curve the entire time. Oh well, win some and lose some I guess.

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When it’s cold just wear your blanket!

We had a wonderful long weekend here in South Africa and let me tell you, it was needed. I love productive weekends and this one checked all the boxes. I finished a few projects, indulged my creative side, went shopping with Willow, saw our friends, celebrated father’s day at home with A and got some housework done in amongst all of it. I even baked. Weekend winning.

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My stash busting jersey is looking all kinds of gorgeous. Plus it’s quick and so fun to make

I hope you all have a great weekend! Chat soon! xx

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Product of the week: I have been working through a stash of face masks and this Innisfree Fresh Squeeze Blackberry Face Mask one blew me away. It was such a joy to use and the effects on my skin lasted well into the week. I love it and need to get more asap!

Purchase of the week: A bought us a new kettle/toaster combo. They are gorgeous little numbers from Bosch and I feel so posh using them. They are all brushed aluminum and black and look so pretty on the counter. We’ve had our old ones for years and they were looking very tired. It was a Mother’s Day/ Father’s day spoil.

Random: I got so many things finished this weekend I’m almost high on it! It’s amazing how happy finishing something makes me feel. I just love the feeling of accomplishment and the fact that I can throw something away.

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Project of the week: I finished three, yes, three projects the weekend! Granted they were all really simple. But the point is they’re done. I made two scarves for Willow and another arm knit scarf I was commissioned to make. I used up a total of six balls of wool! Gives self a high five! I’m working on a stash busting jersey that is starting to look too gorgeous for words! I’m also still working on my Pipetjeresy which is coming together nicely. I’m a little knitting obsessed right now.

Best moment: Willow has been so playful and talkative lately. It’s so cute. But my absolute best is when she sings along to Disney songs. Her two favourite movies are Frozen and Moana and she’s working incredibly hard on learning all the words to the songs. It blows my mind a little bit. She sings the opening to How Far I’ll go almost perfectly and the way she says ‘Water’ makes my heart melt every time!

Looking forward to: There are quite a few exciting things on the horizon. We have trips to visit both of our parents coming up, A’s mom and Aunt are popping round for a short visit, my friends are moving to a lovely new place and more. I’m quite excited for the next few weeks.

 

May 2017 empties

Not such a big cache of empties this month. I am pretty close to finishing up a whole stash of products, but they’re just not there yet.

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Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Natural Bronze – I swear they’ve changed the formula on this. I like it as a tan top up or just for that little bit of glow during the dreary winter months. On my pale skin if gives a very natural looking tan which lasts about four days to a week. It doesn’t cost much, I just wish it had a guide colour as you can miss areas when applying it. Make sure to wash your hands after application.

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L’Oreal Skin Perfection Advanced Correcting Serum – I’ve lost count of how many bottles of this I have used up. I use it every morning as part of my skincare routine and I love the look it gives my skin – very plump, healthy and fresh. It sits well under makeup and that’s all I have to say really. I have a new bottle on the go now.

Justine Baby Botanicals Baby Oil – This is our moisturiser of choice in the winter for Miss Willow. The smell is divine and it’s now something I associate with little babies. It always leaves her feeling soft and it soaks in like a charm – no sticky or slippy residue. I have used countless bottles and have just cracked open a new one. Love it.

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SNP Sheet Mask – This was one of my beauty purchases while I was in Hong Kong. It’s very hydrating and absolutely saturated with serum. It was so soaked that I could feel the serum dripping a bit while I had it on and the mask kept slipping – I don’t know if it was designed for my giant Caucasian head. It’s one of those fun ones which makes you look like an animal while wearing it, in this case, an otter. It left my skin feeling really hydrated and plump. I had zero bad reactions to it and my skin looked lovely for days afterwards. I wish I had bought more.

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Colab Extreme Volume Dry Shampoo in New York – I took a travel size bottle of this with me to Asia and it stood me in such great stead. It gives my hair crazy volume and works so well as a texturizing spray. If you’re looking for something to give your hair a little oomph then give this one a go.

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L’Oreal Infallible Fixing Mist – This is a lovely, affordable makeup setting spray that really works. I use this everyday to set my makeup and it helps things stay in place and fresh-looking all day. It also has a great spray. Just be sure to mix it up really well. I’ve just finished my third bottle and have recently popped open a new one.

Sewing project: pyjama pants

One of the things very high on my list of things to learn this year was sewing. I have intended learning for years, but have always found it to be incredibly intimidating.

My parents bought me a sewing machine for Christmas a while ago and I’ve used it a handful of times, but never on my own. I always had visions of sewing my fingers, which put me off in a big way.

This past weekend, I finally bit the bullet. My mom and I headed off to Chamdor Fabrics, bought a couple of patterns, bought some fabrics and got our act together for a few projects. First up was a pair of flannel pyjama pants for me.

I felt like PJs were safe because if I royally screwed up, no one would see. Turns out I’m not as bad at this as I thought I’d be.

My mom had a huge hand in helping to figure out the pattern and cut the fabric. But I did a fair amount of cutting myself and didn’t do too bad a job. I did mess up a bit on the cutting, but not so much so that we weren’t able to complete the project. You live and learn.

The actual sewing turned out to be the easiest part. I’m really proud of how these turned out. The owls on the front are upside down, a result of how I cut the pattern out, but I really don’t mind. They’re super soft, really comfy and have pockets! I now feel all pyjama pants should come with pockets. I’m going to use the leftover fabric to cut Willow some pants too.

I’ll take more photos for the process next time