Sewing project: The Florence Dress

 

I discovered Simply sewing magazine a few months ago and now I have a full blown addiction to it.

As a novice with the sewing machine (I believe we’re called sewists? What a strange word) this magazine has been beyond helpful. Every month it focuses on new techniques, discusses trends and has interviews with different creators in the industry. Plus it comes jam packed with projects to make. It’s a British magazine, so it’s a little more expensive, about R120. But if you think that a pattern runs you about R90 and more, then I feel like this all balances out.

In the first issue, I bought the discussion is all about mindful sewing – really taking your time with a project to be precise and enjoy the process of creating. The example they used was this gorgeous dress pattern that they included. The whole point was to do a sew-a-long. The pattern was divided up over two issues.

It took me ages to get my act together and buy some fabric to make it, so by the time I started both issues had been released. But the idea of mindfulness stuck with me. Especially as a beginner and I determined to take my time and get it right.

I really enjoyed working on this project. It took me almost two weeks to complete and while it’s still not perfect (I really struggle with straight seams), it is the most accurate I have ever been on a project. I’m so ridiculously proud of myself I could burst!

I used a very beautiful, floaty sateen, which was a bit of an error on my part, as it was very slippery to work with. But I found that going slowly and using a ton of pins meant that I could control things better. I can see a huge difference between my seams at the start of the project and when I finished.

I did things I have never attempted before including using interfacing, making a button placket, making and attaching a collar, making button holes and more. It was certainly a challenge to my rudimentary skills, but the instructions were well written and I was able to follow along.

I did adjust the pattern. I did it very simply so that I would stray too far from the instructions. The original pattern was a maxi length with ¾ sleeves. Living in South Africa means that spring already have 30 degree days and I knew I wouldn’t get as much wear out of a dress with long sleeves. Also, I don’t think that maxi dressed flatter me. So I shorted the skirt and the sleeves. I’m really pleased with the final result.

The dress has a bit of a 40s feel to it (at least to me) and looks lovely with a pair of nude heels and a pair of flats. I’m so, so happy!

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August Empties

It’s been a minute since I last posted some empties. But I have been diligently working away at finishing up products in my stash. This post is a little bit of June, a little bit of July and a whole lot of August empties.

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Dr Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution in Soothe and Sleep – This stuff is the bomb, if you find you’re not sleeping well, your children aren’t sleeping well or you just need a little help to unwind get some of this! A small scoop for Willow and a large scoop for me is just the ticket. I usually get mine from Dischem, but I hear there are supplier issues at the moment.

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Annique Gironky and Friends Rooibos Bubble bath – we use bubble baths are a special treat for Willow. A always makes mountains of bubbles and she loves it. This one smells really delicious. It’s supposed to be gentle on little ones’ skin, but I can’t really attest to that. It still has SLS in the ingredient list (it has to or it won’t really foam and then what is the point?). But we use it for high days and holidays and it’s fun.

Sheets masks! I have finished working my way through my Innisfree sheet masks and I need to get some more asap! This is all kinds of awesome. Having used them all now I can say my favourites are the Bamboo, green tea, rose and blackberry. I wasn’t a huge fan of the strawberry and there was one other that didn’t float my boat, but I can remember what it was now… I get mine from Kokoro Asian Market in Rivonia and they are a must have in my skin care regime. The dark package is a different brand (can’t remember which one!) in the brightening with peony root extract. It’s delicious and really hydrating to the skin. Loved it.

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Batiste Dry Shampoo in Strength and Shine – What is an empties post without a dry shampoo? I enjoyed this one. It didn’t leave my hair as gritty as other kinds have and the shine was definitely noticeable. I did find it wasn’t as effective at soaking up oils. It worked, but others have had more oomph. It did feel more gently on my hair though. I liked it.

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L’Oreal Infallible Mattifying Primer – I enjoyed this. It’s a very silicone heavy product so if you don’t like that then this is not for you. I didn’t use it for its mattifying properties so I can’t really speak to that. But I did find this kept my make up looking good all day long. It’s great under BB cream too.

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Dischem Rosewater and Glycerine – This is what I use to make my home made micellar water and it’s also great mixed with a little witch hazel for a refreshing facial mist/setting spray. I have bought many of this and will continue to do so.

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Concord Acetone free Instant Nail Polish Remover – This is a very fuss free, quick method to remove your nail polish. I really enjoy this and have bought many in the past. I need to get a new one soon. It takes the polish off really quickly. It won’t work on glitter polish though. It does dry your cuticles out a bit, but most nail polish removers will do that.

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Justine Epigran Oil Cleanser – I love this stuff and have used up many bottles in the past. It feels so silky, is excellent for your first cleanse and dissolves pretty much anything including really stubborn mascara. If you haven’t tried it yet you must.

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African Extracts Rooibos Hydrating Creamy Cleanser – I used this for my second cleanse. I didn’t see SLS on the ingredients list and it left my skin feeling soft, hydrated and clean. It’s a lovely little product available in most stores.

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L’Oreal Skin Perfection Advanced Correcting Serum – How many of these do you think I have gone through by now? I obviously love the stuff. I am using up other serums at the moment, but will definitely repurchase at a later date. I love what this does for my skin.

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LA Girl Pro BB Cream in Light/Medium – This is the post for old favourites isn’t it? I love this, have bought it many times. I am trying others, but they just don’t compare in product or in price. Will be going back for a new one soon.

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L’Oreal Infallible 24-Hour Matte Foundation in Vanilla – This is a drugstore gem. If you’re looking for a high coverage perfecting base that will last all day and look good in photos this is your guy. I used this on my friends and me for her wedding and it looked amazing in all the photos (I paired it with the primer I already mentioned). Love it.

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LA Girl Shady Slim brow pencils in Soft Brown and Taupe and essence Make Me Brow in Blondey Brows and Browny Brows – How many brow products can I squeeze into one post? These were used up over three months and I love them all. The essence products are a great dupe for benefit Gimme Brow. I will say that I used up the taupe pencil a lot faster than the soft brown pencil. I think it was a lot softer so it distributed more product with each swipe and got used up really quickly. I actually preferred the effect of the darker pencil and will repurchase that one over the taupe.

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Neutrogena Anti-Wrinkle deep wrinkle daily moisturizer – I really enjoy this range. It’s one of the few drugstore ranges that you can find with retinol in it. It always leaves my skin looking lovely. This is the first time I’ve used the day cream and I liked it. It’s a bit basic though. I’m not complaining, just thought I’d mention it.

Phew! That was a lot to get through. It always feels really satisfying to finish up and throw away products that I got every last drop out of.

 

Knitting project: Striped jersey

I have finished my striped jersey and I love it! I really enjoyed working on this project, as evidenced by the fact that it’s complete.

It was so simple, yet watching the colours come together was such a joy. I love that each time you work this project it will be completely different.

I won’t lie though, finishing it up was a real pain. There were so many ends to weave it! So many ends! But I couldn’t be happier with the final result.

The completed jersey as quite an oversized, boxy fit. I made it in extra small and it is still oversized on me. So be aware of this if you decide to tackle it yourself.

Although I mixed in a lot of different wools, the majority that I used was Elle Gold DK and it has worked into the most luxurious feeling fabric with lovely weighty drape. The jersey has a slashed neckline and dropped shoulders so there is minimal shaping required. In fact, the only shaping I did was on the sleeve at that was a few rows at best.

I am very happy to report that I finished four balls of wool while knitting this up and there are a few that are so close to finished. I really want to make Willow a jersey in a similar vein to this and I think I’ll work on those finals balls so we can finish those up too.

This is a great project and I highly recommend you give it a go.

Find the pattern here.

Friday Favourites: September 8

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It’s been a bit slow going this week. I haven’t had a bad one, I just feel like I’ve been trudging uphill all week. I could definitely do with a slow, chilled weekend!

After finishing my Florence dress I was all inspired to set up a permanent sewing space for myself. This led to some much needed decluttering and tidying up in my office/desk area. I always feel so buoyant after a good decluttering session. It feels good to clear the decks a bit. I’m really chuffed with what I have set up so far with regards to my sewing area. I have a few plans that will take some time to achieve, but until then I’m very excited to start testing it out. I think I may start a new project on the weekend.

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I also hope to continue the decluttering this weekend. We have a few cupboards that are hoarding things that we no longer need or use. I’m in a spring cleaning mood, I need to take advantage of it before it passes!

I hope you have a great weekend and get to all the things you want to do. Chat soon! xx

 

Product of the week: The Maybelline SuperStay Primer and Setting Spray have been regulars in my make up routine lately and I love the combo. The primer is very liquid yet feels silky on the skin and I really do think it helps hold onto makeup. The setting spray has an amazing nozzle that gives you a lovely big, yet super fine mist. I can practically do my whole face with one pump.

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I can’t believe how much this carpet changes the way our passage looks. I love it

Purchase of the week: What’s going on? It feels like I have a brand new house! I am definitely not complaining. Instead, I am going to celebrate the addition of this incredible carpet to our home. I love it and the personality it brings to this previously barren passage. Yay for home updates!

 

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My completed Florence Dress. I’m so proud of myself

 

Project of the week: I finished my Florence dress. I am so incredibly proud of myself! I love how the print looks and the flow and drape of the fabric makes such a pretty dress. I’m very chuffed.

 

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Willow has been very into her baby recently. She needs to be fed a bottle all the time and then gets put to bed. Its adorable

 

Random: As important as I feel it is to be patient and understanding with your toddlers you need to be patient and understanding of yourself too. This week I have been an absolute bear and poor A and Willow have born the brunt of it. I have been feeling so much guilt over it, but I have realised that it’s a sign that I need to back off a bit and give myself some TLC. I’ll try to do better in the future.

Best Moment: Finishing my dress, sitting outside in the sun while Willow plays quietly on the patio and celebrating my friend’s 30th with her and all out mates.

 

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Willow’s ‘cheese’ face. She asked me to take this photo because she looks ‘so cute’ her words!

 

Looking forward to: Willow being completely potty training. It’s been challenging so far. She’s doing pretty well I think, but it’s hard not to get frustrated when she has an accident, especially when it’s just a few minutes after she was on the toilet or if I asked her if she needs to go and she says no.

September 2017 goals

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What is the saying? If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans? That pretty much sums up August for me.

I started out with the best of intentions, but then life happened. The whole family was ill, we struggled to get our routine in order and I eventually felt like I was operating in survival mode. As a result, the goals were put to the side in favour of things like sleep and recovery.

But things seem to have settled down now and I am ready to tackle September with enthusiasm and optimism.

In terms of last month’s goal, I didn’t take a Skillshare class, I didn’t really sew. But I was moderately successful at going to bed earlier, I did finish my striped jersey and I ate breakfast 80 to 90% of the time. I’m celebrating those small victories!

For September I would like to:

Make progress on my purple jersey – I have been whittling away at this and it feels really good. I have some renewed enthusiasm for this project on the back of my high that I get from finishing something. I want to capitalise on this feeling.

Complete 1 sewing project mindfully and carefully – Mindfulness is the name of the game. I want to really appreciate the journey of the project. I am still learning and get caught up in the enthusiasm of the new project. By taking extra time and care I hope to end up with a superior quality product.

Keep to my cleaning routine for one whole month! See the long story about being ill above. The house has looked better and I have a severe case of the lazies right now. I need to make it a priority.

Practice yoga three times a week – The same case of the lazies has affected how active I have been lately. I feel like three times a week is manageable.

 

The bed wetting struggle

I don’t know why I haven’t written about this until now. I think I’ve just been so deep in dealing with the issue that it just didn’t occur to me to turn it into a blog post.

For a few months now we have been struggling with Willow soaking through her nappies at night. I have done a lot of reading about it and apparently, it’s pretty common for toddlers to do this for a number of reasons. Sometimes they have just outgrown their nappy and need to go up a size, sometimes they just need a more absorbent night time nappy and sometimes they take in too many liquids at night time. Willow falls into the last category.

It would have been a very easy fix if all we needed to do was to put her in a night time nappy or go up a size, but no. My toddler has made her bottle her security object and can’t fall asleep without drinking large amounts of water. I knew for a long time that this was the problem, but I felt so bad about taking away the item she has attached herself to that I just put it off.

The final straw came when I was changing yet another set of soaked through sheets one morning. It dawned on me that she isn’t even potty trained yet and it was completely unnecessary at this stage for me to be changing the sheets every morning.

Willow hasn’t been sleeping well and has been waking up cold and uncomfortable. We then have a battle over changing the nappy because she just wants comfort, but she’s soaking. It just makes us all grumpy. So it needed to change.

So I finally bit the bullet and read up on how to handle this. There are a few methods on how to limit liquid intake at night. But the only one that would work for us was a cold turkey. Usually, I prefer to slowly reduce the amount of time or amount of liquid in the bottle, but once she’s had her ration she was just going to shout and cry for more water which I was just going to deny her anyway. So I decided to just not give her the water.

At bedtime that night I explained to her that from now on she can’t have water in her bottle because it makes her have accidents. Now if she wants water she can ask and I will bring it to her in a cup. Well, let me say right off the bat that this did not go down well.

She drank her milk and then wanted water. We explained the situation again. She screamed and cried. I went into her room gave her the cup of water and she took a few sips. Then I cuddled her a bit and put her back into bed. And we started the process all over again. I fell back on our sleep training methods of waiting longer and longer intervals before going back into her room.

Eventually, she fell asleep at around 8.30pm, which is not too bad all things considered. She also slept like a log all night long – there was no whining or whimpering after she had fallen asleep. In the morning, even though her nappy had been used she was dry and comfy and in a much better mood. Success!

Since then the going to bed has been easier, but not smooth sailing. WE have to explain over and over again that she can’t have water in a bottle, only from the cup. She calls us in multiple times for water and I wait longer and longer between visits. I can usually distinguish when she really wants the water versus stalling tactics. I give her the benefit of the doubt a few times then I tighten the reigns. Is it wrong, is it right? Truthfully I don’t really know.

So far this had gone on for about 15 or so minutes – usually about three visits. Then she falls asleep. She has been sleeping soundly all week, getting up between 6 and 6.30 am. And she hasn’t soaked through a nappy once since!! Celebrations. I’ll continue to minitor the situation, but I feel like we mat be rounding a corner.

Friday Favourites: September 1

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The big news this week is that our potty training journey is officially beginning. I had to take Willow to go buy big girl underwear and the school is going to start training next week.

I don’t know if I’m ready for this. It feels like Willow is growing up too fast! I am very grateful that the school is guiding us through this process as I have no idea where to even start. Interesting times lie ahead, I wrote a blog post about my feelings here.

I have been really productive this week and it feels so good to be back on my feet and busy in a good way. I have got some awesome momentum built up now. I’m trying to capitalise on this good mood. The house is clean and almost tidy, healthy dinners have made it to the table in good time, I have made time for my hobbies and have been able to spend some quality time with my family. It’s been a really good week.

I hope that you have a great weekend. Chat soon! xx

 

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My mirror/shoe cupboard. Plus my awesome jeans from Pick n Pay

 

Product of the week: I was pretty spoilt last week. A bought me this incredible mirrored shoe cabinet for our bedroom. I have been complaining about the lack of a full-length mirror in our bedroom and he certainly delivered! We got this from Takealot.com. It’s pretty fantastic. It stores 30 pairs of shoes! This also means I have been able to tidy up not only this mess but also the shoe situation in Willow’s room. Celebrations all round.

Purchase of the week: I have two purchases I want to discuss this week, to make up for the lack of one last week. The first being these incredible embroidered jeans from Pick n Pay. So comfy, so pretty and perfect for spring!

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The second purchase is this nifty coffee pod holder which I found on neatfreak.co.za. It fits snugly underneath our Nespresso machine and fits four full sleeves of Nespresso pods. It helps so much to cut down on counter clutter. We used to use a counter top holder but it took up so much space. This is a much better solution.

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Project of the week: This week I have slowly but surely been working on making a dress. I purposefully didn’t want to rush the process and I am so glad for the extra care that I have taken with it. It is coming together so beautifully.

Random: I have been obsessed with my garden lately. It is looking so good at the moment and I have done a bit of reorganisation, tidying and new planting for spring. I’m trying my hand at herbs this year and so far so good. I have taken to sitting out here while I eat my lunch. It is so peaceful and a lovely way to recoup in the middle of the day and gather the energy to power through my afternoon.

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Best Moment: Spending time in the garden with my friend on Saturday. I love digging around in the dirt and being able to create a new garden from scratch was pretty rewarding. We still have a few things to do, but this garden is going to develop beautifully. I’m quite excited to see it happen.

Looking forward to: Spending time with my friends at  T’s 30th birthday party on the weekend. It feels like its been ages since we all got together!

August Happy List

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August definitely had its ups and downs, but I feel it was mostly good.

I went to watch the SupeRugby final at Ellis Park with my dad. We had some awesome times with friends and family including an epic brunch picnic at our house and a trip to A’s parents’ place to see his overseas family. Willow and I spent a lot of time outside soaking up some vitamin D – the weather is definitely warming up! It felt very spring like and transitional this month. Here are a few things that made me happy this month.

My garden in bloom: It really felt like spring was in the air when you stepped outside and saw all the flowers! My Jasmine has an incredible showing of blossoms this year and it smells amazing. Most exciting of all is that my lemon tree has buds on it. I hope that this means we will get lemons this year.

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Warm temperatures, the sunshine and packing away the winter clothes: yes, I still need a few jerseys and knits, but overall we can get away with a few light layers. It feels so good not to be bogged down with clothing.

Slow hands by Niall Horan: This song is almost permanently floating around in my heads. It’s sexy, but fun and catchy. I love it. Whenever I hear it I find myself singing and dancing along.

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Essie Gel Setter top coat: I was super impressed with this stuff. It left my nails looking shiny and plump with zero chips after a full week of wear.

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Homemade Body Butter: I tried my hand at making my own body butter recently and I have to say this stuff is the bomb! It has shea butter, coconut oil and a few other ingredients in it and it leaves my skin feeling so soft and hydrated. It melts into the skin beautifully and it smells awesome. I use it all over after getting out of the bath or shower and it has really helped to keep the scaly skin away! I even rub it on my feet before going to bed. Perfection.

And for our next trick: potty training…

Our next big baby/toddler adventure is now just over the horizon.

I have finally been given word from Willow’s school that we are to get ready for potty training. I have both been looking forward to and dreading this for months.

Looking forward to because, well, no more nappy changes! Dreading because I don’t know the first thing about potty training, I’m a little intimidated by it to be honest. Will it be a long difficult process? Or will she just take to it seamlessly? How long until she’s potty trained at night? How will this affect the family’s sleep? Will she regress? How do I get her to stop drinking so much in the evenings and drink more during the day?

As it stands now, Willow loves to drink in the evenings and this often causes leaky nappies in the morning. A problem I have tried to fix, but again if I’m honest, hasn’t been too high a priority and I just let it slide.

I’m grateful that the school will be taking the lead on this and will be giving up some guidance as to how to proceed. I know that millions of women all over the world have successfully potty trained their kids and that it will happen for us too, but having a united front on this is comforting.

This past weekend, Willow and I went shopping for big girl panties. We’ve been working hard on getting her excited about potty training. She was so excited about her panties and wanted to put them on as soon as we got home from the shops. They ended up going on over pants and she ran around like Superman for the afternoon. It was incredibly sweet.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I was a wreck and spent most of the afternoon holding back tears. This whole thing is bringing home just how grown up she is. I know she is a running, jumping, havoc wreaking bundle of energy who is currently talking up a storm. But potty training is kinda huge you know? It feels like one of those momentous milestones that mark the end of baby and toddlerhood for good. It leaves me feeling really emotional!

Anyway, that’s the story so far. I’m sure many exciting times and challenges lie ahead of us. Wish us luck!

Friday Favourites: August 25

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It’s been a really good week. The house may not be spotlessly clean, my to do list is still hopelessly full, but I feel like I really took the time to focus on the important things this week and I feel so much better for it.

A and I spent the afternoon together on Monday. What was supposed to be a quick grocery shop turned into an afternoon spent wandering around, chatting and enjoying each other’s company, I managed to get a haircut, go to the optometrist and get my eye brows sorted out and we got to spend time with Willow Bug, who is finally feeling better! I’d say that was all time well spent.

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Willow has been very attached to her doll and teddy bear this week. They have been carted around the whole house, have to be put to bed with her and need to be snuggled up with her when she watches cartoons. It’s really sweet.  She was very concerned about the bear the other day as it had a loose thread on its nose and this needed to be addressed in a most solicitous manner. I love how her personality is developing, she’s becoming such a sweet considerate little person.

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Product of the week: I made an epic Epsom Salts detoxifying bath soak this week. It made me feel so relaxed and calm after my bath and I slept like a champion that night.

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Best moment: Getting my hair cut. I haven’t done a dramatic change – just freshened up my cut and colour, but I always feel like a new woman after a cut

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Looking forward to: Spending some time at home this weekend. I hope to spend time in the garden and maybe do some sewing.

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