All change here…

Although the title of this blog post describes what is happening in my world at the moment it has  been prompted by a mate’s train journey today through rural Wales. A small train line with request stops in which you have to signal to the driver that you need to stop. I don’t know why I find the idea of this so appealing I just do. In reality it could I suppose be a bit stressful if the driver doesn’t see/hear your signal. When this happens on the bus your journey is generally only extended by a short distance but on a train, it would be miles. Still provokes nice images though. This may be true of train lines where you live but as I live 40 miles out of London, this isn’t the case here. I love the idea of it, and as she said it is just like The Railway Children.

The change for me though is on a educational / work front. After attending a week long course in March to increase my skills for the sewing workshops I have been holding, I realised that the college environment is one that I love and desire to work in. I am sure (in fact I know) that I am looking through rose tinted glasses but the technicians and tutors job did really appeal to me. Unfortunately although my qualifications on paper are many, apart from experience working as a textile and food writer/researcher many years ago I have nothing which would qualify me for such a role.

So back to school I go aged 41, as a full time student with lots of lovely people who are a lot younger than me. The course I am taking is Fashion and Clothing and what career path that will take me down is still questionable. Ideally I would like to do a PGCE after this level 3 course but I’m open minded. So many cuts are being made across the board in the Art world who knows what will be available. But if I don’t at least try I will regret it. This is why I am staring today at this marvellous book and why I now have a shelf full of sketch pads.

This is where I start to panic, I vaguely know my way around a sewing machine but drawing? Lets just say its not my strongest point. Hence the purchase of this book.

The joy of this course timetable is that I will still be able to make it to my Mysore classes in Berko and I also have an excuse to make myself a new bag (like I need one). A college bag is being designed at the moment and the fabric is just amazing. If the pattern works out well (big IF) then a tutorial will follow here this week hopefully.

So apart from yoga and college chat I  want to start filling this blog up with as many tutorials as I can. I promised this to the ladies who came on to my workshops months ago and as I haven’t got round to it yet I need to rectify this situation as soon as possible.

Right off to study fashion mags – I know the hardship!

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Workshop Prep

The writing and planning of my workshop is finally underway, at last. This workshop is a complete beginners one for people that have a sewing machine but have no idea how to use it. So we will be covering

How to thread the machine
How to wind the bobbin
How to control speed
Basic stiching – straight and zigzag. Stitch sizing
Basic seams
THe importance of ironing
They will also go home with a slip cushion cover that they will have made.
£20 for 2-3 hours all materials included plus cake and tea/coffee
Not bad hey?
If anyone is interested I have one place left
A sample cushion cover that I knocked up yesterday
In other news I have more orders coming through and a market to prepare for next week. All in all a good week. How are you all doing?
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Yoga Stops Traffick

On Saturday morning I am taking part in a global yoga event to support the Odanadi Seva Trust. The trust has worked over the past 20 years to rescue and rehabilitate children, survivors of the human trafficking trade. Through yoga they start to reclaim their lives and find mental peace.

March 9th will see many yoga practitioners show their support through yoga by carrying out 108 sun salutations.

For more information on this great cause check out here

Watch this amazing video to see why I will be at Triyoga in London at 7.00am on Saturday morning





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Sew Decision Time

A year ago next week, I finished working for Weight Watchers to work for myself making bags and hopefully selling them. By September my website was live. I gave myself a year which is now up, so where do we go from here and what have I learned from the decision I made last February?

Well firstly it is the best decision for  my family as I am not dashing out in the evenings and weekends to work, not constantly on the phone to  my manager or sorting out stock in the garage. Plus we now have a garage which can house bikes and other garage intended items rather than weight watchers stock.

I am a creative soul and so making things keeps me happy. I love yoga so yoga bags are incredibly fulfilling to make.

I am writing once again. Marvellous.

So all good so far then!

Hmm, yes so far. However what I did do when I resigned was say goodbye to a good monthly salary and although luckily we can survive without it, I feel incredibly guilty at not bringing in a steady wage. Any  money I make has to go back into the business to buy fabric.

My website isn’t doing particularly well although does have visitors and I have had sales and orders because of it. My product however is good and I am confident in the bags that I make, I just need to get my arse in gear and publicise the website.

A few weeks ago I had a  mini midlife crisis and started applying for every job under the sun that would fit into our lifestyle – two children in school and a husband who works overseas a lot. Application forms I have found are pretty soul destroying after so long out of the office 9-5 environment. The fact that I had a thriving career in the city 10 years ago makes no difference now.

Thankfully though, I had a chat with myself and realised how fortunate I am to be doing something I love. I adore sewing and lots of people would love to be able to do something they love. OK so I cannot afford new clothes very often but I am there when the children come home from school. They sit and do their homework whilst I am writing or sewing. My mini midlife crisis not only brought clarity but a desire to further my skills and explore how to broaden my horizons with sewing and bag making.

So not only am I attending some courses to improve my skills (I am completely self taught) but have started to hold workshops to teach others how to sew. Many people have sewing machines in their loft or spare room that they would love to know how to use. The first of which is on the 13th March. A truly back to basics session including winding the bobbin on and choosing the right needle. I am extremely nervous but also incredibly excited.

Sometimes you have to go through these crisis of confidence to determine what it is you truly want.


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Celebrate the small Things

So over here  at Julia’s blog I learned about this great idea - celebrating the small achievements each week. I have been meaning to join in for ages but this is the first time I have got round to it. The source of this great idea is over here We all get up hung up in the big things in life that sometimes we forget to notice the small things we have done.

So here goes

Well it has been half term here so they are mainly children related obviously.

1. We finally got to go to Harry Potter World which is just phenomenal. There really are no words to describe it actually. You have to be a Harry Potter fan to appreciate it but we all are. We were sad to leave

2. I have learned to felt wool with my daughter Martha and we are currently making necklaces. It is great fun and she is a little production line of felt balls.

3. I have finished writing chapter 4 of my children’s book “The Roller Girl Adventures”. I wanted to be at the end of chapter 6 by now but hey another chapter should still be celebrated.

4. I got back to the yoga studio after 2 weeks away due to a bout of shingles. I have also established a small daily practice again. The nerves in my arm are still painful at times but I feel better for being back on my mat and am not so exhausted.

I hope the sun is shining where you are and have a fantastic weekend.

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Lessons Learned

In the western world yoga begins on the mat with the asanas (yoga postures) but practicing yoga on a day to day basis extends far deeper than that. Believe me it is a roller coaster of a ride and brings up hidden emotions that you thought were buried deep beneath.

When your body is feeling healthy then the yoga practice on the mat feels marvellous but sometimes it is when your body gets ill that the deeper lessons are learned. (or is it learnt?)

Shingles has kept me off my mat and away from my regular Mysore class for over a week and I have found this incredibly hard. What has been harder is making the decision to not push myself into going to class before my body is ready. I know very well that when I get there I will push myself too hard. It is in my nature, as is an inability to rest (I have learned that this week too).

Ahimsa – My friend reminded me of this yesterday when I was moaning that I felt too exhausted to go to class. Ahimsa is refraining from causing pain to any living creature. Sarah reminded me that this also extends to yourself. Actually Cathy my yoga teacher at Bayoga has reminded me of this when she has seen me force my limbs into lotus when my hips were having an off day. So yesterday I did actually rest for the whole day (I battled with guilt for a lot of it) and I feel much better for it this morning.

Frustration has set in because before the shingles I had achieved dropping back into back bend from standing and bakasana. I feel like I have been knocked back to square one with a tired, achy body that is incapable of these poses. So what is the lesson here? Humility? A reminder that yoga isn’t about how marvellous you look on the mat but about the union between mind and body.

Sarah’s teacher James has talked about the primary series in Ashtanga being yoga chikitsa or yoga therapy and that it works out latent illnesses and physical problems. I have been told by my acupuncturist that I hold stress deeply within my body. I used to vent a lot and be quite a stressful snappy person to know. I am a much calmer person outwardly now but obviously I am holding it somewhere. The deep release that back bends bring is well known so maybe my practice is drawing everything out.

Letting go of ego and listening to your body sound quite simple on paper but in reality they are tough lessons to learn (especially for a control freak like me) So this morning I didn’t go to Mysore class but had a nice gentle practice at home. A few suryas and a couple of forward bends followed by a long meditation. Lets see what tomorrow brings on my mat and not set any personal expectations.

In other news I am going to see the new Die Hard film tonight. Whoop. Die Hard is my guilty cinematic pleasure.



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Sorry Gok

I haven’t been on my yoga mat for a week and I really feel it. Not just physically but mentally as well. I have had shingles and am just in the tail end of it. Horrid virus that I have suffered with a few times, generally when I let myself get run down! But I am hoping that the pain in my arm is reduced enough for a few suryas (sun salutations later).

However, I do have exciting projects to work on. One of them is a bag order I received for a clutch made from a book. They are all the rage on the catwalk, so today I will start the design work for it. My friend who has requested this wants one made from a classic such as Jane Austen. To practise though I am using a cheaper hardback off Ebay. Sorry to all you fans of Gok Wan but I am using his autobiography. But hey, the man is in fashion so being used as a bag is quite fitting.

I will post back photos and if it works really well a tutorial.

Have a good day everyone

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Wordless Wednesday – Peace

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Diverting Cookies

So today I was going to write lots and sort my bags out for a fringe festival market I am taking part in on Sunday.  I enjoy writing, ideas are in my head constantly. I love sewing and the art of creating so why is it when I need to get both done I cannot. Instead I decided to make these

Giant cookies filled with fudge. Yummy but erm not good for my waistline so I have to now avoid the kitchen otherwise I will inhale them and also not exactly productive.

Still they came out well and are creative.

Any words of wisdom and motivation to get some work done gratefully received


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Baking Queen

Did you see the documentary on Mary Berry the other night, I think it was Tuesday? Simply marvellous. I am a huge fan of Bezza (as Paul Hollywood calls her) and I was in tears when hearing about her battle with polio. The sight of row after row of children in iron lungs before the polio vaccination was just awful. If you haven’t seen it part 2 will be next week and I am assuming this week will be on iplayer. What would we do without iplayer? I often slip up and say to my 9 year old, “could you video that for me please?” and realise I have used the wrong terminology when I see the bewildered look on his face. A bit like when I ask him where is walkman is. I am slowly but surely turning into my nan (not a bad thing she was wonderful).

My eldest was off school for the week last week after having surgery on his mouth, and his treat was to stay up late and watch Comic Relief does Great British Bake Off. It was hilarious especially Claudia Winkleman and the lemon meringue pie. We were both in tears with laughter, proper belly laughs.  Anyway I promised Oliver that I would  bake Ellie Simmonds’ chocolate orange scones. Unfortunately when I came to make them I  realised the receipe required 700g self raising flour which I didn’t have.

So instead I decided to alter my fool proof fairy cake recipe and make chocolate orange cakes. They turned out really well so I thought I would share the recipe. There are no photos of the finished product as they disappeared into my children really very quickly.

225g self raising flour

125g butter

125g caster sugar

2 eggs

just under 100ml of milk

rind of two oranges and juice of one.

100g chocolate chips

put paper cases into your muffin tin. You will need two as this recipe makes about 14

When measuring the milk do it to just under 100ml and make the difference up with the orange juice.

Put the flour, butter, sugar, rind and eggs into a bowl and beat with an electric whisk until pale and mousse like. whisk in the liquid and then fold in the chocolate chips.

spoon into the paper cases and then bake at 180 for approx 20 minutes or until golden brown. If you touch the top and the shape bounces back they are done.

Put onto a wire rack and leave to cool. Eat!

I hope you like them

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