Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip The 52 Project

22/52 {the 2016 portraits}

28/05/2016

Linking up with Jodi with a portrait of each of my children once every week for 2016.

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project, a portrait every week

Kitty: Looking both so very grown up and so little all at the same time. It’s been a hot day today so I’m not surprise you were tired; with all the telltale signs of sucking your thumb and curling your hair.  One day you’ll have grown out of it, and it just won’t be quite the same.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/125, f/5, ISO 100)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project, a portrait every week

Elma: Ever so excited to go on the road train – but just not too sure about the reality – especially when we started driving past all the life size dinosaur models!

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/250, f/5, ISO 500)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project, a portrait every week

Pip: Oh my little boy! Today on our travels we found a sandpit and that was it, you were off in your own little world, pottering around, stirring and shovelling and trying to make sandcastles; so very happy and so very deep in thought.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/320, f/5, ISO 100)

Finished Handmade Quilting

Morning Star

27/05/2016

Space for the Butterflies - May in the Sugarblock Club - Morning Star

Of all of the blocks that I’ve made so far for the SugarBlock Club, this one has been the biggest challenge. And I say one with a reason because so far this month I’ve only managed to make just the one, to bring the block collection to nine.

Space for the Butterflies - May in the Sugarblock Club - Morning Star

I have every intention of making another one, and I had every intention of making two as usual when I printed out the paper templates last week but then I sat down to start making the blocks and realised just how much I rely on chain piecing and making two blocks at the same time to speed up my piecing.

With paper piecing it’s one block at a time and one seam at a time. Or in my case, one seam at least four times. I’ve done a little foundation piecing before but it took me a while to get my head back around it again (possibly a reason not to start sewing at 10pm when you’re already tired) and there was one seam that I sewed and ripped out and sewed and ripped out until there was barely any paper holding together and I was certain that it was never ever going to work.

But we got there in the end, and slowly bit by bit the block started to come together.

Space for the Butterflies - May in the Sugarblock Club - Morning Star

I do love the result. It’s a beautiful star and worthy of the name. Morning Star is the name of a boat I used to sail on when I was a teenager and it brings back many happy memories. It looks like a morning star too doesn’t it; light and bright with all the white space, the ghost of a star against the dawn.

For this block I used up the very last of my bee fabric and the very last of those green flowers. I was trying to fussy cut to get a bee in each point but there wasn’t quite enough, so we have six bees and two spots where the bee got impatient and zoomed off to somewhere else in the quilt.

And so now there are nine blocks.

Space for the Butterflies - May in the Sugarblock Club - Morning Star

Laid out together they aren’t quite a cohesive whole yet, and I can easily spot a couple of blocks that I’d pull and replace if I wanted to turn this into a nine patch but we’re not even half way through the year yet and I think I’m going to have to wait and see until the end to decide whether I’ve got one giant 24 patch quilt or two 12 patch plus additions on my hands.

I haven’t chosen the fabric for the companion one just yet but I’m thinking yellow and something, probably yellow and one of the greens to add a little balance to the quilt. What would you choose?

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

 And at last the day has come – today is the last day of voting in the MADs – I’m a MADs Finalist inthe Best Craft Blog category this year and I would love your vote, all the details are here or click on the banner below and I promise I won’t ask again now until next year’s nominations!  Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has voted, it means the world to me.

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Family Garden

In the growing garden

26/05/2016

The spinach has grown! Frankly it’s a minor miracle and I’ve spent most of the week convinced that I’d lost another bed full of seeds to the local cats but it seems that this is the year that the spinach is fighting back, and it’s lovely to see that little haze of green at the end of the garden.

Space for the Butterflies - the Growing Garden

And in return for their tenacity I’ve upped my game in the cat prevention stakes too. We went outside on Sunday for me to weed and thin the parsnips and the kids to dig in the patch of mud that is now very firmly their own but I couldn’t let them play, and frankly I didn’t want to myself as it was abundantly clear that whichever cat it is had decided to co-opt three of the four veg beds as their own. When so many people who have cats train them to use their litter trays or keep them as indoor pets it baffles me that it’s socially acceptable to allow a cat to soil my garden when it really isn’t for a dog or any other pet. And as even the netting wasn’t working as a deterrent any more I may have had one of those grown up tantrums where you stomp around muttering under your breath about how completely ridiculous it is while also getting three children dressed in something that they can go to the shops in, bundling them into the car and heading out in search of something to make it stop.

From the size of the cat deterrent section in the pest control aisle I’m in good company. I don’t want to put anything down that the children could touch, or that would be a bad idea for the veggies so our latest addition to the garden is a little black sensor that surveys my growing garden from the back corner. If it spots anyone or anything in the veg garden it clicks (which I can hear) and apparently also lets off a high pitched squeal which is both audible and off putting to cats. And so far , as far as I can tell, it’s working.

Space for the Butterflies - the Growing Garden

Which is definitely a relief because I think the sugar snap peas are about to sprout and I’d be really gutted to loose those.

The parsnips have started to sprout little feathery tops, and still desperately need thinning, and the purple beans that survived are looking good, though I don’t think I’m going to need to do any thinning there.

Space for the Butterflies - the Growing Garden

The onions and garlic are growing strongly but so too are the weeds and I’m itching to get out there and start getting it all tidied up.

Space for the Butterflies - the Growing Garden

And last but by no means least, the fruit garden is in bloom (ably tended by my chief assistant). The blackcurrant bush is pottering along; I’m not actually sure what blackcurrant blooms look like or when I should expect them, I just remember that the fruit should be there in August so that will be a nice surprise whenever it next does something, and all the strawberries are in full bloom which makes me think I’m going to need to rebuild the netting, at least over that end, but this time to keep out the birds.

Space for the Butterflies - the Growing Garden

It’s a time of anticipation; we’re not eating anything from the garden just yet, but I know that it’s only going to be a few weeks until we can pick the spinach and strawberries and the beans and peas won’t be too far behind. And then there’s the longer promise, there are teeny tiny little seedlings in the ground right now that will be our Christmas parsnips- always assuming we don’t snaffle them up first!

Space for the Butterflies - the Growing Garden

 I’m certain you’ve all voted by now but just in case you’ve been under a rock – or actually weeding your garden – I’m a MADs Finalist inthe Best Craft Blog category this year and I would love your vote, all the details are here or click on the banner below

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Crafty Ideas Elma Family Handmade Kitty Photography

Butterfly Bunting {Handmade}

25/05/2016

Walking through the woods and watching the children chase the butterflies gave me the idea for our new seasonal bunting. We’ve had watercolour hearts up since Valentine’s Day and they’re so pretty that it needed to be something good to displace them.  But butterflies, fluttering across the wall, in all the colours that imagination can bring you, now that had potential.

And after I spent Sunday morning carefully folding tissue paper to make a whole kaleidoscope of butterflies; reality.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

They are incredibly easy to make, Kitty and Elma both had a go, although their butterflies got taken out into the garden to be played with rather than ending up on the bunting.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

And here’s how.

You will need:

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners
Tissue paper squares – I have a block of tissue paper in lots of different colours that is 16cm square so I just used those sheets torn from the pad but you could easily cut them to size or change the size, two for each butterfly.
Pipe cleaners cut to 15cm, one for each butterfly.
String – I used green and white butcher’s twine

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

Take a square of tissue paper and fold it in half diagonally.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

Open it up and starting at one of the points that has just been creased, concertina fold the paper (folding back and forth) using the previous crease to keep your folds going in a straight line across the paper. You want your folds to be about a centimetre wide.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

Repeat with the second sheet of paper.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

Fold the pipe cleaner in half, stack the two paper concertinas on top of each other and slot into the folded pipe cleaner.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

Twist the pipe cleaner to close at the side of the paper, then bend the ends up at 90 degrees and curl the ends to make the antenna.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

Gently open out the tissue paper folds. For the bottom wings open them out all the way but for the top you can be a little more cautious to get the shape you want.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

And there you have a butterfly.

Make however many of them you need and use a large blunt needle to thread them onto the string. If you thread the string through the back of the fold in the pipe cleaner then the butterflies will face down, which would look amazing going across a room, but if you want them to fly along a wall then thread under the top of the pipe cleaner, about half way across. Too far to the front and the butterfly’s wings will struggle to open and too far to the back and it will be flying downhill again.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

Ours are all the colours of the rainbow and some more besides but these would look so pretty in pastels, or just in variations of the same colour – an entire flight of butterflies in different colours of yellow would be pure sunshine against an English summer, wouldn’t it!

 It’s the final week of voting for the MADS – I am absolutely thrilled to be a MADs Finalist for the Best Craft Blog category this year so if you haven’t voted yet, please do, all the details are here or click on the banner below

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Blogging Photography

Snippets from Blog Camp

24/05/2016

1. If you had to get to Blog Camp through the back of a wardrobe it would make perfect sense. Even though I spent half the train ride reminding myself that I wasn’t going to work, even though The Studio is somewhere I walk past every day, even though it spent half the day softly raining in a very pedestrian sort of way, even then there is a certain magic in being in the company of a lot of other bloggers.

2. The most fascinating thing about hearing from a panel of four bloggers who all contribute to or run collective blogs is how different they all are. Whether it was the set up, the decision making process, or the long term plan, no one was doing it the same. There are always many different routes to success and it was fun seeing them laid out like that.

Space for the Butterflies - Snippets from Blog Camp
3. I love creative writing workshops. To the point that if someone ever ran a conference that was all writing workshops for bloggers I would be there in a flash (if they do and I don’t know about it, I beg you tell me!). Challenged to describe a moment by focusing in on the sounds, right down to the sounds that you can’t really hear, was a great way to break away from the way that I usually write, and having to write fast means that you can’t really stop to overthink it – something I’m probably guilty of more times than is ever a good idea.

4. Top tip from the writing session: Edit. Read back through your writing and take out not only every sentence that doesn’t advance the story, but every word. You just don’t need to know that I was writing notes with a purple pen on Saturday because when I got to the station I realised that the children had ransacked my bag and I didn’t have one. Although if I’m being very facetious I’d say it adds colour!

Space for the Butterflies - Snippets from Blog Camp
5. For the first time in just about forever I didn’t take my big camera. I did however, go to two photography sessions; which makes me wonder whether there’s a correlation there. It made me think about what I can do with my iPhone if I actually think about a shot rather than just snap, and it made me volunteer to be the subject in a practice session.  Now I do sometimes let other people take pictures on my camera, and I do dash into the shot every month for Me and Mine, and I did once have to have some professional headshots taken for work, but I promise you, if you have ever thought yourself self-conscious in front of a camera, it is nothing to when you have half a dozen being pointed at you. My goodness was that an exercise in being vulnerable. And as we all kept talking while everyone was shooting I can only imagine how many pictures now exist of me looking like a guppy fish.

6. But I did learn a top tip that I wish I’d known years ago: If you wear glasses, tilt them down at the bridge or just push the arms gently up off your ears so that they angle down slightly; that way the camera doesn’t pick up a glare from your glasses and can look straight through to focus on your eyes.

Space for the Butterflies - Snippets from Blog Camp

7. When you look across the Tots and the Hibs and the Tripps and see the thousands of blogs that make up those communities it’s astonishing to see the breadth of blogs that are out there. There are blogs out there that I’ll admit I find baffling, where just about everything they do is the polar opposite of me and my little corner of the internet, and yet at the core there is one common thread running through us all; that bit when we press publish.  And that’s where the magic truly lies; in connection.  From giggling in photography workshops with people I’ve only previously known from within a little square on Instagram, to stealing moments to catch up with Rachel and Jenny and Claire and Caro and Molly, some of the loveliest people you’ve ever met in real life as well as on screen, the absolute highlight of the day was, as always, the people.