DIY Christmas Cones

I love a Christmas project, and this year I’ve been making a few new decorations for the tree for J to enjoy.  When Crafters Companion dropped me a line to ask if I’d like to try some of the Debbie Shore patterns from her Christmas Projects DVD my first thought was that I haven’t used my machine in ages, but my mind was put at rest when I saw that the patterns were simple, clear and had fewer than 5 steps!

These Christmas cones are just one of many great projects on the DVD and now that I have been bitten by the sewing bug again I’m going to start another project tonight!  The cones required me to cut two pieces of fabric that had been folded in half, sewing an inner and an outer cone together to form a lining for the cone, adding ribbons and buttons to finish off, the projects really are as simple as that and because the DVD comes with a sizeable piece of fabric it makes for a really great kit for a novice like me!

Debbie really nicely captured my imagination and I’m now industriously crafting more decs:

“I still remember the Christmas decorations from my childhood, that were brought out every year, bringing a smile to everyone’s face and making the festive season that little bit more special. I’m hoping the characters on this CD will do the same for your family, with the likes of Rodney Reindeer, Christmas Carole, Paul the Penguin and of course, Santa, making an appearance each year.” (Debbie Shore)

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Filled with a few stocking filler sized presents these make a lovely gift in themselves, here’s one I’ve put together for my Playmobil fan!

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Do you have any Christmas projects on the go? I’d love to hear about them!

Keeping warm with Trespass Winter Coats

I’m not really one for buying a new winter coat each year, I like to spend a little more and get a coat that I’ll reach for year after year. I recently waved goodbye to my beloved faux fur lined parka of over 5 years and was mulling over what to go for next when Trespass dropped me a line to ask if I’d be interested to review something from their winter range. I chose the Glacial women’s long length down jacket and crossed my fingers that long length would indeed fit my tall frame! I love that it’s a parka style but with added weather-proofing benefits!

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I’ve not had a down jacket before but I’m really glad I gave this a go, filled with naturally insulating material (70% down to 30% feather) wearing a down coat is like wearing a duvet, seriously good! I put this to the test on a recent work trip to Preston, three hours on cold trains and waiting on platforms. I sat down at one point and the down was so cushioning and warm that I didn’t mind the cold, I just relaxed with my notes and felt a bit smug!

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The long length definately helps as I’m nearly 6 foot tall, this was a great length for me, above the knee which I like, and what makes this ideal for a taller lady is the flat cuff with an inner knitted cuffs, the sleeves are maybe just half a cm shorter than I’d like but the second cuff helps to stop drafts from travelling in through the sleeves! The hood is also a great fit, not like the ‘fashion hoods’ that you get on some winter jackets, this is a what I’d call a ‘proper winter coat’ instead! I really like that the Trespass branding is quite lowkey with this jacket, this means I can wear it for everyday occasions without it looking too sporty.

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As with all Trespass winter coats there’s real attention to detail in the pockets, button over to keep everything dry, with a poly coating to help wick away the rain and snow I like the two big deep pockets so I can ditch a bag when I’m walking the dog but have all my essentials to hand.

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Onto the important stuff, the price, with an rrp of almost £200 this is certainly an investment coat, but if like me you’re outdoors a lot through winter and want quality this is the coat for you. Right now it’s actually 50% off, so for less than 100 quid you can pick up a really warm, stylish and practical coat that’s within budget too.

Disclosure: I was sent this coat for review purposes and all views and images are my own

Make your Christmas Table Magical!

One of the things I remember from being small is decorating my Mam’s plants at Christmas time with little 80s Santas, reindeer and toadstools on wires, and a centrepiece made from oasis florists foam. This year I’ve had a bash at my own version with a gratefully received goodie bag for review from Oasis Home and Hobby.

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I love their Christmas Cracker centrepiece, easy to customise with flowers, foliage and ribbons to complement your table scheme a novice could make a lovely piece in around 20 – 30 minutes. All good Christmas crafts start with a walk to gather things to bring in from nature! We had an afternoon walk to gather pine cones and holly.

I trimmed the cracker with ribbons while I soaked the oasis block for 60 seconds.

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Once you’ve soaked your oasis you’re ready to go, trim your foliage and your cut flowers and firmly push them into the Oasis, I worked from the centre out to get good coverage and make sure my flowers weren’t dwarfed by the foliage.

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I finished off with a few pinecones covered in glitter, and I’m really pleased with the results!

Disclosure: I received these products for review purposes, all views are my own

Traidcraft Toys Fair Trade Review

Traidcraft is the UK’s leading fair trade organisation fighting poverty through trade, practising and promoting approaches to trade that help poor people in developing countries transform their lives. Traidcraft toys and products are traceable back to their producers whose stories they tell on their product pages and product packaging. This is also a way of ‘buying local’ for us as Traidcraft is based just down the road from us!

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I was offered the opportunity to review a Fair Trade product with Traidcraft, and given Joss’ birthday was coming up and she is getting very involved in roleplay I thought it would be nice for us to try out this little wooden teaset I prefer to buy wooden toys as they’re long lasting and sustainable and knowing where products have come from and that their producers are making a good living as well as working in a quality environment is so important.

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I found the site easy to navigate and enjoyable to browse, the toy arrived promptly, was packaged up securely in plastic all ready to be played with, napkins folded and lids in place and I thought that the tag that was enclosed was a great way to highlight the importance of buying fair trade and letting someone know about fair trade if that was received as a gift.

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We set up a birthday party, Joss decided that the ‘Easter Rabbit’ and Dinobob were invited!
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This is a real toddler friendly set, long lasting and made from wood this is a gift that will grow with her, the pieces are small enough to fit in little hands and the detailing is gorgeous, especially the little napkins, they were an unexpected treat as when I saw the photos online I didn’t know they’d be included, the flower shaped coasters are really well made too! As I’d hoped she chatted away to her rabbit, this photo captured the question “would you like some tea with your breakfast?”

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A happy accident, we discovered that the pieces fit with her little kitchen set perfectly too!

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This is currently priced at £20, about what I’d expect to pay for a well made handmade and hand painted toy and knowing its provenance makes this a really special gift, tackling poverty and supporting small producers rather than the big toy chains.

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