Thursday, 28 November 2019

Festive Feeling

The tree is up and we are starting to feel festive here at 32.

This is going to be a difficult Christmas for a number of reasons but mostly because it is going to be the first year without my nanna who passed away in August. Nanna practically brought me up all my life and took me on full time to live with her from around 13 so I owe her everything.

It has been a very difficult few months trying to keep going with work, mum life, Master student studies, house chores and everything else whilst feeling like an emotional wreak. Even the slightest things set me off.

It's 4am as I write this, I'm not sleeping much lately. Once I wake I just can't seem to settle back down.

I have been very lucky though because my Dad's side of the family have been so supportive. Nanna brought us together and she has been using her positive powers to keep us together, looking out for each other.

Nanna's house was my home, my family home and everything in it reminded me of her. The thought of her not being there anymore or it no longer being my family home anymore hurts, a lot. My Dad has been amazing and let me take home a few things of Nannas to keep me going, a crock pot that we used to make stew in, some of the photo frames and photos I created for her over the years and my favourite being her old Tigger tea towel that was always over her shoulder.

Thanks to Nanna and to my Dad those few things that I have brought to my house have transformed the way I look at it here at 32. I've gone from looking at it as a temporary pile of bricks that I struggled to enjoy living in to a home, a home that I can see me staying in now.

A very old ottoman that nanna painted purple, her favourite colour now lives in my guest room. It was upcycled by Nanna using paint and old carpet on the top. It probably looks strange to some people but I LOVE it. When I'm feeling low and missing her I go sit next to it (not on it, I always sat next to it as a child) and ask her for advice. She has a way of sending me signs to help me push on.

I truely believe that my Nanna is looking down on us, that she is doing her best to keep us all going. I miss her so much, but I know she would want me to give my boys the best festive time I can.

So I am going to try my best to turn this house into a home, to make Christmas a fun and festive one for the boys and to do my best to be as good a mum as Nanna was to all the family.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Seaton Crazy Golf Course - Review from 26/07/19

Today I took the boys and our friends to Seaton's crazy golf course. Emily who is 6 joined Reu age nearly 9 and Fin age 7. The course is dino themed and looks fantastic with all the big sculptures of Dino eggs. It is extra beautiful at the moment with all the wildflowers surrounding it too.

It cost £2.60 per child (more for adults but I chose to watch)

Each part is different with different challenging elements. The kids had lots of fun.

They managed to get a hole in one on the one pictured below (after lots of 'practice' shots) 

Even though I was just watching it was a lovely afternoon activity I enjoyed walking around with them as they had lots of fun.

A top tip though would be to avoid the final one if you want to go around the course more than once as in the final one it keeps your ball.

The children all had a great time, we spent just over an hour going around twice. I'd definitely recommend it as a family activity for anyone living in or visiting Seaton.

If you want to see a short video of them playing see their You Tube channel here.

Find out more here on the LED website

There is so much to do in and around Seaton over the holidays and hopefully I'll be able to share more ideas with you all soon.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

The Colour Wheel with Ready, Steady, Paint!

As soon as we got home afterschool today the boys knew what they wanted to do....
Ready, Steady, Paint!

Our first box arrived recently and the boys couldn't wait to get started.

We found the 'bonus activity' of the colour wheel in the 'clubhouse' login and the boys wanted to find out more.

Interestingly they hadn't learnt about the colour wheel at school yet and when I asked they hadn't even discussed primary and secondary colours at school before. Reu is year 3 and Finley Year 2. (They have at home with me though so had a rough idea before we started)

They chose to draw their own circle using a small plate and ruler rather than trace as in the video but it still looked great. They watched the video and paused it at relevent intervals to give them time to catch up.

They loved seeing the 'magic' of the watercolour blends and enjoyed having their own quality pallette of paints to use.

Overall they loved this activity so it is a big thumbs up from us! 

Thanks to Ali & the team. 

This is just one of the activities as part of month 1 with the Ready, Steady, Paint magazine. Check out their website to find out more. 

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Top tips to encourage children to enjoy reading and writing at home

As a mum i often find myself worrying if i am doing enough to encourage my boys to love reading and writing. Notice there i say 'to love' NOT 'to do'. This i find is the key. If you can find a way to encourage them to fall in love with reading and writing then they will want to do it for themselves. You won't need to force them to do it. 

In a time when it is so very easy to stick them in front of the TV or a computer (which of course i do sometimes, i'm not perfect!) i do however try to make time for a variety of activities after school and at weekends. Keeping to a routine isn't easy for us so instead we have a list of different things we could do and we choose which suits us depending on how we all feel. 

Writing short stories has become a popular choice for my boys, they love to invent characters, to take them on fun filled journeys and to try and make me laugh with cheeky descriptive words and silly characters getting up to mischief.

You may not think they look very happy here in these photos but they are, these are their concentration faces. They are working hard on short stories to share with me. When they are writing their stories i often hear them chuckle to themselves.

The stories they came up with were wonderful and they had great fun telling them giving each character different voices. They keep their stories in their own little writing books and will often go back and read their old stories to themselves.

My top tips for encouraging children to enjoy reading and writing:

1. Give them their own little book and pen to keep.
2. Write short stories with them, get involved and share your short story with them first.
3. Don't fuss about spelling and handwriting when first starting, encourage the process of writing first then help improve their spelling and handwriting once they already enjoy the activity.
4. Never force them to do the activity, make sure they are not over tired.
5. Have drinks and snacks to enjoy together whilst writing and reading. Fruit platters & popcorn are one of our favorites. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Ready Steady Paint - Children's art subscription box - REVIEW

I recently signed up to a new art subscription box for kids called Ready Steady Paint. As an art tutor to kids myself and an art shop owner I am always keen to find new ways to get my sons involved in arty activities so when I saw this new subscription box I had to find out more.

It has been developed by the SAA which I am an associate member of and know how fantastic they are as a company who offer brilliant support and top quality products.

The artist hosting the online content is Ali Hargreaves, an artist i've admired for a long time and know she has a background in teaching art so knew that the educational content would be good.

I was not disappointed, we signed up and though we obviously missed box one and hadn't recieved any kit yet we were able to access the online 'clubhouse' content, use my art supplies and get started straight away.

My boys loved the videos, they found them engaging and liked the fact that 'kids just like them' were there taking part too. 

They did find some of the content challenging as they are at the younger age of the advisory ages (advised as for 6-11, they are just turned 7 & 8)

That being said a challenge is a great thing to help them learn and develop their art skills. I was pleased that they gave everything a go, even without the correct materials they did their best with what we had on hand. 

This is Finley, my youngest who just turned 7 a few days ago. He has always been creative but this has shown an even more artistic style to him. 

So a big thanks goes to Ali Hargreaves and the Ready Steady Paint team.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Returning to university to start my Masters Degree

After graduating with my Art & Design focused Hons Degree in 2017 i didn't really know whether i wanted to go on and study at Masters level. I'm in no way a natural academic; i struggle with my spelling, i find structuring my writing difficult sometimes and i have extreme anxiety when it comes to exams and essays. That being said i love to learn, there is something about gaining knowledge and understanding of different subjects that interests me.

I had hoped to do an MA in Fine Arts but unfortunately with young children my only uni option is the Open University for distance studying who don't offer a Fine Art MA. They do offer an Art History MA but on further investigation i came across the information for the Philosophy MA which involved the study of Aesthetics therefore having a strong link to the arts. I further investigated and found that there should be scope for more study in this specific area as the course goes on so i decided to apply.

I got in! I was officially accepted on Friday and i managed to secure a funding loan too cover the costs. I will be starting my MA in October and i can't wait!

I will of course be juggling the course with being a mum, business owner, working artist and art tutor but hopefully i will find a balance for all and be able to make things work.

Obviously this course will require lots of studying and writing, which means i will be needing somewhere to outlet all of the information i'm taking on. This means my blog here will probably end up showcasing some of the interesting things i've learnt;so you've been warned, there is likely to be some really different blog posts appearing on here soon!

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Seaton Wetlands Activity Day : Sunday 30th July

Today we went to Seaton Wetlands and came across an activity day they were hosting 'Axe Vale Wildlife Day' I later found out it was. There were lots of different things for the children (and parents) to get involved in.

My boys had great fun; they loved getting to meet a moth. They even got to hold it. They had lots of questions which the hosts were happy to answer.

They then worked together to create a little bug house that they got to take home and is not proudly hung in our little garden. 

They loved the pond dipping, guided by one of the team they found lots of creatures in the water. 

There were lots of other things going on that they could have had a go at but we were only there for a few hours and wanted to get in a nice long walk before it got too hot. 

It was a wonderful morning. We only went for a walk so it was lovely to come across lots of extra fun things for them to do. A big thanks to all involved in putting on the day. 

The only negative was the glass in the car park which we didn't notice until it sliced through my flipflop and into my foot and also through one of my tyres! Such a disappointment that some silly people would spoil such a lovely nature reserve by breaking glass in the carpark! I was very lucky it was only me that got injured, rather me than my kids, if you are going to visit places such as these please be responsible. 

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Cricket St Thomas, Somerset - Review

Today I was treated to a lovely afternoon out by my lovely friend Sam. I had never been to Cricket St Thomas before so had no idea how amazing this place was until today.

The house, the views and the food was amazing. I felt like I was at a wellness retreat the place was so amazingly peaceful I could have happily stayed there for days.

We had a wonderful afternoon tea which was so yummy. The service was good too. It had a selection of yummy sandwiches, scones and mini cakes. It was lacking a savory crunch element so we asked for some crisps too, classy! Hehe in our defence we were super hungry.

We then took a walk around the gardens which was just stunning. I was totally in awe of the amazing natural beauty of the place and how quiet and calm it was.

I can't wait to go back again now I know of it. It will be my go to escape place when I need to get out for a nature walk and some scrummy food. 

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Seaton's first 'Art in The Gardens' | Saturday 25th May 2019

Today was the first 'Art in The Gardens' event in Seaton, Devon. I wasn't able to exhibit today but instead i was able to enjoy it as a visitor with my two sons Finley and Reuben. Finley (nearly 7) is a keen artist and loves to look at art. He is very vocal about what he thinks, what he sees in the pictures and what he likes about them as i'm sure many of those exhibiting heard today!

After a morning walk around with the pups we went back over for a bit of outside art. We took our watercolours and we had an hour of painting in the sunshine. It was wonderful and i got to see lots of people wandering about the artists stalls. 

Apologies for the lack of photos but it isn't as easy to focus when i have the boys to watch. These photos were at 10am just after everyone had set up.

I really hope everyone enjoyed the day both exhibitors and visitors. It was fantastic to see such a wonderful array of art.

It was also lovely to see so many people up the top of town! If every day was like today my little art shop would certainly not be closing. It was the best day of the year so far for us!

If you would like to find out more about Art in The Gardens visit here 

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Imagine Design Create, Seaton - A sad goodbye

It is with great sadness that i write this post but the time has come to announce the closure of Imagine Design Create Seaton's arts & crafts center.

After 5 fantastic years of serving the Seaton community and tourists i am heart broken to have to wind down my business but due to a combination of factors we just can't survive.

I did my best to save the shop and i honestly believed i could but things have gotten worse rather than better here on Queen Street and i received news yesterday that finally broke me.

I know many of you have questioned why i don't simply relocate my shop down closer to the seafront where more people would find me. The reason is i invested in Seaton when i moved here by purchasing the building that we live and work in. When we purchased it, Queen Street had a reasonable footfall with the post office just down the road, markets regularly over on Winsor Gardens and a real community feel to the place with other shops surrounding us. The post office closed, the markets moved to nearby Tesco and nearly all the other shops on the street have now gone. Queen Street is now a forgotten street full of mostly empty shops. The building i purchased is now not worth what i paid for it therefore i wouldn't be able to let / sell it and be able to re-invest in somewhere closer to the seafront.

When we moved here there were no other creative shops or businesses. Over the 5 years we have noticed a massive increase in galleries and crafty shops popping up in Seaton. This filled me with hope that maybe we would be able to survive because Seaton was becoming well known for being a creative little town. Unfortunately this hasn't happened.

Signage kept being promised to try and direct people up towards Queen Street, the signage put in place though doesn't work, it isn't clear enough, big enough or promoting the INDEPENDENTS enough. Many people I've spoken to have in fact said it is more confusing than helpful. I feel very let down to be honest as i know so much more could have been done to improve this area of town. If those with the power actually tried to, i do believe this area of town could have been saved but it is in a downward spiral.

Rising costs in running a business (staffing, utilities, stock, taxes etc) combined with a drastic decrease in footfall / takings has left me with no choice.

I want to personally thank everyone who has supported us over the years, it has truly been fantastic living and working here in Seaton. My sons love it here and i really hope that we will be able to stay here in some shape or form but i can't really say what will happen yet.

I am truly sorry to my lovely staff member Tracy who has worked for me now for a few years and many of you will know her well. She has become an amazing friend as well as staff member and i'm so sorry to have to let her down.

I'm also sorry to anyone who is going to miss out on getting their craft supplies here or who enjoyed coming here for our creative workshops. I do hope that i will be able to re-structure and offer art, yarn and some workshops but again i can't really say for sure yet as it very much depends how things go with the clearance as to if i will be able to afford to.

Hopefully this isn't a complete goodbye and i will of course continue to support and promote the businesses in Seaton and surrounding areas as i wish them all the luck in the world.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Supporting artists, hand crafters & local businesses - My art collection

Art is something I have always loved, I remember as a child declaring to my nanna that 'one day I want to be an artist' from the age of about 4. Life took a different path for me and I ended up working as a arts & crafts shop owner, product designer, craft demonstrator and craft teacher for over 10 years but I did complete my art & design degree at the same time as brining up my young sons. This year I vowed to push forward with my art and give myself time to learn and develop my skills and style. 

As well as loving creating art I also love collecting it. Not just paintings but hand crafted pieces too. As much as possible I source locally. Financially I am not at all well off, I am open enough to admit that as a lone parent brining up children, running a home on my own and trying to run a business isn't easy so I can't exactly go out and buy every piece I like. The pieces I do save up to buy or that get gifted to me do become extra special to me though. 

I thought I would share with you today my art collection: 

This piece I have owned for the longest, over 9 years now I think. It was a gift that I have treasured for many years. The artist is called Mandy Wilkinson. When I lived in Taunton a lot of her work as exhibited locally and this was a piece that caught my eye and I kept going back to see until I was surprised with it as a gift. 

The little owls by the clock were handmade by a local crafter from when I lived in Taunton too. The leather bound book resting there is a handcrafted piece I was gifted whilst on a trip to London. 

The main piece here is a mixed media piece by an artist I've admired for many years. Alison Board.I purchased it last year during Dorset Art Weeks when I visited her studio at Down End Farm. This piece prompted a whole room redecoration! 

The pieces of pottery in the centre are from a local antiques shop. I fell in love with them because of the leaf patterns at the front in the right shades for the room, then I found out they were Axe Vale pottery which made them more special for me as locally made. 

The two glass pieces here I purchased at a local fair only yesterday. Voltron Food & Garden festival. There were a fantastic range of stalls and I came across a stall owned by Jane Baker a glass artist trading as Maridadi Designs. These two pieces caught my eye and ended up coming home with me to decorate my newly painted room. 

This piece is by another favourite artist friend of mine. Sara Perry. I was lucky enough to get to know this lady when she lived locally. Unfortunately she has now moved away but I still have this beautiful commissioned piece up on display on my landing.

The most recent piece I was gifted, a very special person purchased it for me. It is this amazing piece by local artist Bob Bradshaw from the art gallery Grandpa's Gallery. 

I was looking for something completely different, for a completely different place in my home but this piece caught my eye and it is named 'Together' which just made me love it even more. After walking away from it I think it was obvious I loved it as within an hour later we were back and it was being purchased for me! It now has pride of place in my newly decorated living room. 

This piece I have owned for around 5 years now. It was a commissioned canvas made for me and gifted to me during a really tough time in my life. It has lyrics from one of my favourite songs, my lucky number and lots of symbols that have meaning to me. 

I still have many spaces left in my home that I would like to fill with artwork and handcrafted items. (There is a piece in a local gallery Usula that I will be going to get next week hopefully!) I love that every piece I own has its own story that I will remember.
I have never been one for owning things for the sake of it but the few things I do own all have meaning. Whether they were gifts or if I saved for months to get them they are all hand made / hand painted or locally sourced. 

If you are able please do buy handmade and shop local. Here in Devon we are so lucky to have many talented artists and crafters and I am sure that is the case nation wide. 

Saturday, 11 May 2019

NEW Shop now open in Seaton, Devon

Today was the grand opening of a new shop in Seaton 'The Emporium' 

Owner Rose Bunce has created a fantastic space full of local artizan products, Gin, Ciders & other interesting foods and drinks alongside gifts and home interior products. 

Available today was a selection of gins and chilli chutneys to taste. The place was packed full of people supporting this new business. Such a fantastic sight to see. 

I ended up purchasing a Chilli Ketchup, a perfect present for someone I know who loves Chilli's.

Rose will be offering a bespoke hamper service using the wide range of products on offer in the emporium. There are already a selection of hampers made up too. 

Please do pop in to see this fantastic new business in Fore Street and take a look around at all the other businesses in Seaton on Cross Street, Queen Street and Beer Road. There are so many fantastic shops to see now, Seaton is definitely on the up! 

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Blueberry Oat Muffins Recipe

I absolutely love blueberry muffins and wanted to find a way of being able to eat one of my favourite things without feeling too guilty.

This is the recipe I used to create these scrummy blueberry Oat muffins:

125g oats
125g flour
200g blueberries (frozen)
250ml milk
1tbs baking powder
2 tbs caster sugar
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 egg
Pinch salt

I chucked all the ingredients apart from the blueberries into a mixer and let them all mix together. Then I added the frozen blueberries to the mixture and stired with a spoon.
I portioned out into 9 muffin cases and baked in the oven for around 25 mins at 200c 

The above quantities made 9 muffins
According to an online calorie checker they are 189 calories each.

(I'm not a big fan of sweet things so for those who are you may want to tweak the above a little with extra sugar or some vanilla essence)

They tasted great, I have been having them this week instead of a breakfast bar together with a coffee and some strawberries.

Let me know if you give them a go!