Why I run and how to recycle an old T-shirt into a workout vest with Anthony Nolan.

Why I run, and a quick DIY workout vest | Seeds and Stitches blog

Hannah here: I have blogged before that during a down period last winter, I sought solace and therapy outdoors; in biting wind and rosy cheeks, in deserted beaches and windy woods, in wellies and woolens; chin tucked firmly inside my scarf. Slowly, I began to seek solace in my running shoes too and the time alone outside that they enabled. Being outside was the single biggest contributing factor to my short term happiness; I would wake up feeling heavy and glum, take Frankie-Rose to the beach and feel myself lighten and relax. My self-prescribed nature therapy along with some other practical steps I took to parent myself, helped me to recalibrate and feel well again and I have been keeping up with those self care steps as much as possible since. (You can read more about how I parented myself here) Running is about far, far more than fitness for me. It is time alone, time outdoors. It is rhythm and meditation, focusing on nothing other than the breath pulsing in and out of my lungs, sometimes ragged and strained, sometimes slow and measured. Running grounds me in the seasons, ensures I notice the small changes in the quality of the air, and the changing flora and fauna around me. It is precious me time.  It is a little slice of freedom.

My increase in running has necessitated new running gear, something I haven't quite got round to spending my precious pennies on. I was however, recently given a T-Shirt by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan and asked if I’d be interested in up cycling it, and being a part of their campaign  to raise awareness of the UK’s register of stem cell donors. I decided this would be a good chance to test out the workout vest tutorial I’d seen on Pinterest, and support this brilliant charity, one I have been aware of since I was at university. 

Did you know that 25,000 people a year in the UK are told they have blood cancer and for some, a bone marrow transplant is their last chance of life? Every day Anthony Nolan give three people that chance by matching them with donors, but they need more people to be on the register.

The Designer Ashish has created a t-shirt*, which carries the slogan #IGiveASpit, highlighting that joining the register simply involves spitting into a tube! The register especially needs more young men and people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. To register, see more info here.  So in short, I was happy to be involved, and my husband and I have now done or duty with the spit tubes and await confirmation of our place on the register. 

Why I run, and a quick DIY workout vest | Seeds and Stitches blog

I wanted to think of a way of wearing the t-shirt as much as possible because the one I was sent was massive! To make it into something I would wear and use regularly, I decided to customise it into a much needed workout vest, using this tutorial . 

Why I run, and a quick DIY workout vest | Seeds and Stitches blog

This was so unbelievably easy and involves no sewing. Winner. 

Materials

  1. A large T shirt* (a good opportunity to recycle something)
  2. Fabric scissors

Process

  1. First cut off the armholes and the neck hole. Trim the neckline as desired. (see image)
  2. Then cut off the bottom of the T-Shirt, just above the hem line. Save the off cut. 
  3. Turn the T Shirt around and make the dip of the neckline at the back of the t-shirt even deeper and into a V shape.
  4. Using the bottom bit of the t-shirt you just cut off, split the stitches open to double its size, then tie it around the two back straps, bringing them together in the centre. (see image). Wrap the rest of the piece of fabric around the straps, knot it and cut of the excess. That's it! Done!
Why I run, and a quick DIY workout vest | Seeds and Stitches blog
Why I run, and a quick DIY workout vest | Seeds and Stitches blog
Why I run, and a quick DIY workout vest | Seeds and Stitches blog

Have you ever given blood (I haven't, but need too soon) or applied to be on a life changing register like this? It doesn't take long and could mean the world of difference for someone with cancer. 

This post is in collaboration with Anthony Nolan. Read more about this amazing life saving charity here  and about how you can register to become a donor here.

*If you’re interested in taking part in the campaign and customising your own tee-shirt, you can get one from the Anthony Nolan’s eBay site or visit YrStore in the Topshop and Topman on Oxford Street

Sunday Supplement: 10 wonderful things to make, do and celebrate in August.

Fruit Picking | Seeds and Stitches blog

We are so pleased to be back after a two month Sunday Supplement break! We love pulling together this newsletter and getting excited about what the month ahead holds. But sometimes it’s necessary to step back, switch off and create time to just be, so we did, and are still reaping the benefits. 

Fruit Picking | Seeds and Stitches blog
Fruit Picking | Seeds and Stitches blog

August is, for many, the sweetest, ripest high point of summer. Kids are off school, the weather heats up (….or sometimes doesn’t!) and life slows down. We are really trying to embrace slowness this summer and keep hold of some of the slow vibes we cultivated during our blog break. We’re keeping our schedules as free as possible and spending as much time outdoors, sat on picnic blankets, in the sea, or in the garden as possible. 

Fruit Picking | Seeds and Stitches blog

Here are 10 wonderful  ideas of things to make, do and celebrate in the month ahead!

  1. Be still and leave your phone at home When possible slow down and just enjoy being present this summer. Holidays give you the perfect opportunity to practice this when there are fewer external demands Try to slow your daily rhythm and allow lots of time for just pottering and long slow walks to the park. 
  2. Make welcome home from holiday presents for your friends/family or if you have kids make presents with your kids for their friends. A little posy of flowers or some home made flapjacks will do. It can always be a bit sad to come home from holiday but a little surprise gift would cheer anybody up and its even more fun for the giver!
  3. Its berry season! Make the most of one of nature's sweetest bounty’s and chuck em on your porridge or cereal, on top of cakes, in salads or make jam. We have both been blackberry picking this week with our girls and have been using the berries to make smoothies and ice lollies and saved loads in the freezer to keep using all year round.
  4. Make Plum Cake - Davina recently made this Gingery plum cake from BBC Good Food and it was delicious
  5. Go to a festival. There are lots of festivals this month, including Seeds and Stitches favourites Edinburgh Fringe ( Davina and Elfie are so excited about seeing the Scarecrow's Wedding next weekend),  and Just So Festival. See our guide on what to pack on the blog. 
  6. Immerse yourself outdoors. Eat meals, arrange play dates and swim outdoors. Walk or cycle to work, whether that is part or all of the way, take lunch breaks outdoors and spend time in the park or a decent beer garden after work. 
  7. Borrow don't buy. August is wedding season! Host a wedding outfit swap or borrow an outfit from a friend instead of buying one and it will feel as good as new.
  8. Be a tourist in your own city when everybody else is away in holiday. Look up your town or city on Trip Adviser and see what other tourists are visiting. Check out your local museum or gallery, find local gardens to visit or better yet, take a historical or architectural tour of your town. Its really fascinating learning about the history of your area.
  9. Make Ice Lollies. Davina has been making a delicious, very simple recipe in which she blends the foraged berries with coconut yogurt and pours it into the moulds to freeze. Hannah makes her lollies with blended mangos and almond milk- either way easy and delicious! 
  10. Go to the beach, feel the force of nature and collect a treasures from the shoreline. 
Fruit Picking | Seeds and Stitches blog
Fruit Picking | Seeds and Stitches blog
Fruit Picking | Seeds and Stitches blog

This is a small section of our Sunday Supplement newsletter which goes out on the first Sunday of the mother. sign up to receive on the right hand column of the blog ( >>>> )

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12 WOMAD 2015 highlights

WOMAD 2015  | Seeds and Stitches blog

WOMAD 2015 was rather uncharacteristically muddy and wet. It was also full of characteristically brilliant music, from artists both well known and loved, unheard of and obscure, from all over the world.  Here are some highlights.

  1. Watching the Mahotella Queens from South Africa, one of whom is in her seventies, reach feats of flexibility and pace with their dancing that my 30 year old body can only dream of. 
  2. The irresistible drumming of Ghanain master drummers Kakatsitsi, whom we saw twice and both times fell hopelessly prey to their beats, chants and dances, as did the crowd around us. A hit with the kids too. 
  3. Watching our three year old experiment with sound in the wonderful woodland Gamelan in the Arboretum. Like every year the kids programme is expertly curated and spot on for kids of all ages. Case in point- they have a group of between 4-6 people painting faces all weekend. Kid heaven. 
  4. The two kids who stripped to their pants and went mud diving on Sunday. Pure joy. 
  5. Singing (badly) along with Ibeyi, a French/cuban duo who sing in Yoruba, to whom i’d been introduced by Giles Peterson on 6 Music. They met then surpassed my expectations with flawless blood harmonies and brilliant percussion- but then thats not surprising with the late Buena Vista Social Club Conga player Miguel ‘Anga’ Diaz as their father. 
  6. Sinking into the voices of The Staves, another musical high point for me. Their performance was exquisite, stripped back and delicate; completely beguiling. 
  7. My husband, our three year old and I dancing our butts off to The Correspondents who returned to WOMAD this year with live band in tow. It’s hard not too; their mash up of drum n bass, jazz, blues and electro is addictive. 
  8. The whole crowd at the De La Soul gig belting out the Ring Ring lyrics at the top of their lungs, in the rain and the dark. (Hey, how you doing, sorry you can’t get through…” ) 
  9. Shopping! There is always a huge array of shops selling wares from around the world, many of whom work ethically with co-ops directly. From hand woven baskets to hand dyed tunics and dresses, musical instruments and jewellery, the shopping is second to none, and always a highlight. I always return with lots of gorgeous props for my interior styling work. 
  10. Dancing in the (very welcome) sun to Bangra funk band Red Baraat from Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon. It’s eclectic mix of punjabi wedding music,jazz and hiphop(amongst other styles!) had crowds of dancing people spilling out of the tent. Another big hit with the grown ups and kids alike.
  11. Whizzing around and up and down on the steam powered ‘planes’ at the fair ground with my daughter. Carters Steam Fair has been at WOMAD since I first started attending and is always a family favourite. 
  12. Huddling under our leaky awning in the rain, a welcome hot cup of tea in hand. The friend who I’ve been going to WOMAD with since we were 14 next to me, watching our babies play together, the next generation of WOMAD lovers, hopefully.
WOMAD 2015  | Seeds and Stitches blog
WOMAD 2015  | Seeds and Stitches blog
WOMAD 2015  | Seeds and Stitches blog
WOMAD 2015  | Seeds and Stitches blog
WOMAD 2015  | Seeds and Stitches blog
WOMAD 2015  | Seeds and Stitches blog
WOMAD 2015  | Seeds and Stitches blog

Schlepping around the site in the mud with buggies and the like is much harder work in the rain but it was still wonderful. I’d just be lying if i said i wasn’t hoping for more sunshine next year…

Were you there? What were your highlights? 

Embracing Summer: 10 Family Adventures to have in London this Summer

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Davina here - Like many of you I am at the beginning of the long summer school holiday and I have to be honest with you that I have been dreading it... Its my first time to have a school summer holiday as before Elfie was in childcare so we had no school breaks and it is of course coupled with the fact that I have Bonnie now too. Looking after two kids alone for 8 weeks did not sound much fun to me at all. I realised I was being a bit negative about it so decided at the beginning of this week to try and see it as an opportunity to do fun stuff and I made a list of things I want to do with the girls. I dug out this brilliant book that Nick bought me in preparation for the holidays, which gave me some great ideas and my friend Phillipa wrote this brilliant post about Cultural things to do with kids in London this summer, which also gave me some lovely ideas.   Here is my edited down list of my favourite 10 things to do in London this summer.

Bonnie and me going for a tree top walk at kew earlier this month

Bonnie and me going for a tree top walk at kew earlier this month

  1. Visit London's best parks and gardens including Kew Gardens (travel by boat if yo can), Coram FieldsGreenwich Park's new Live Playground and the Olympic park. 
  2. Go fairy and gnome hunting in Sydenham Woods - we take peanuts and leave them for the fairies. Its the sweetest thing watching Elfie hunting for fairy houses and choosing how many nuts to leave in each house. 
  3. Go for an outdoor swim. Try the new natural self cleansing swimming pond in Kings Cross or one of London's many Lidos. I love Charlton Lido but avoid weekends as it gets too busy. 
  4. Visit this years beautiful and colourful Serpentine Gallery Pavilion designed by Selgascano and when you are there have a picnic in Kensington Gardens. 
  5. Have a play in a Brutalist Playground at RIBA and imagine what your childhood would have been like in the 60s. 
  6. Slide down one of Carsten Holler's giant slides at his solo show at the Hayward gallery. 
  7. Be a tourist for the day and go on the London Duck Tour - a touring bus that turns into a boat! Its incredibly cheesy but I bet the kids would love it and everybody would learn something too.
  8. Visit the V&A Museum and splash your feet in the paddling pool in the courtyard. When you are there buy a Clara Button book (a beautifully illustrated book about a little girl and boy going on a trip to the V&A). Read the book to your children and then find the displays from the book in real life. We did this and it was so much fun and magical for Elfie.
  9. Row a boat in Regents park or try a pedalo!
  10. If you have a rainy day visit the National Galleries for the Soundscape project. Hear the painting. See the sound. Leading contemporary musicians and sound artists compose exclusive, new works inspired by paintings from the collection

If you have any other ideas please share as I'd love to add to my list and share with the rest of you!

Happy Summer holidays to all your parents out there!

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Embracing Summer: Family Friendly festivals

WOMAD at Sunset | Seeds and Stitches blog

Hannah here: Summer is well underway, and I have been dreaming about canvas and camp fires, music and barbecues, ocean swims and warm sun on my increasingly bespeckled shoulders. This summer has rather a lot to live up too when the previous summer included our long hoped for 5 week European road trip trip plus two festivals. This summer is looking a lot less busy than last summer (as well as the big trip, we also moved house with a 5 week homeless/sofa surfing period in between!) so it feels really lovely to have a slow summer ahead of us. We are hoping to go to some of our favourite festivals though. We try to go to a few every summer because it’s one of the seldom opportunities that Frankie gets to enjoy gigs with us, and that kid has musical bones.  We also can’t resist an opportunity to get our tent out, and hope to make use of some of the gorgeous campsites in Kent for quick weekend get aways too. I thought i'd round up a few of our favourite family friendly festivals that we're heading too this year, and some of our festival essentials too.  I'd love to hear your experiences too. 

Womad Portrait  taken at last years festival by Dave Bullivant

Womad Portrait  taken at last years festival by Dave Bullivant

Our favourite festivals. 

  • WOMAD festival is THIS WEEK! I consider myself a little bit of a WOMAD veteran having attended since I was 14, and the line ups get better every year. This year a few of my favourite bands are playing- most notably Ibeyi, whom I included in our Galentines playlist, and The Staves, which I am unbelievably excited about! Tickets still available. Read my review of last years festival here
  • The Good Life Experience is in September. It's  in north wales and near to my folks house so perfect for us. We went to the first one last year and really enjoyed the small scale hands on crafty agenda. From screen printing to fire making, there were workshops for everyone, and I can’t wait to go back this year with the Sisterhood girls- look out for a workshop from us on the agenda!
  • Just So Festival is in August.  It will be our first Just So, but i’ve wanted to go since Heather blogged all about it. It’s a magical family arts festival in Cheshire. We can’t wait for midnight feasts, enchanted forests, fairy kingdoms and campfire stories. Tickets still available. 
  • Honourable mentions also to Bestival, which I’ve never been too but looks very family friendly- see Lou’s posts for more, Latitude which is one of my favourite festivals (Love it but couldn’t make it this year) and Wilderness which  I’ve always wanted to go to. They are all very family friendly.
PHOTO TAKEN AT LAST YEARS WOMAD BY DAVE BULLIVANT

PHOTO TAKEN AT LAST YEARS WOMAD BY DAVE BULLIVANT

Taking kids to festivals

We have no qualms about bringing Frankie with us to festivals which we've done since she was one. If you choose a good family friendly one like the above then all the entertainment and facilities will be provided. Festivals often have wonderfully unusual music, art and dance experiences and it is an incredible place for kids to experience and do new things. Having one kid is obviously easier than having two or three, and if you have a ‘runner’ on your hands, then a festival might be a bit stressful! But as long as you're willing to take things slowly, and you've chosen somewhere where kids are catered for, then theres a good chance you'll have a great time. 

PHOTO TAKEN AT LAST YEARS WOMAD BY DAVE BULLIVANT

PHOTO TAKEN AT LAST YEARS WOMAD BY DAVE BULLIVANT

I thought i'd share some of our festival essentials, which are in addition to the normal camping stuff (tent, inflatable sleeping mats, sleeping bags etc).

Our festival essentials 

  • Toddler ear defenders
  • An all in one toddler waterproof, (better than a 2 piece- mud can get everywhere!), head to toe waterproofs for the adults too and decent wellies.
  • Our wagon. We use it to lug all our stuff from the car, and then Frankie uses it as a little moving bed for naps and bed time. We fill it with pillows and a blanket and fairy lights. 
  • Frankie's white noise machine (and batteries) and ear plugs for the adults. 
  • A plastic backed blanket for sitting on the wet ground.
  • Warm bedding and extra blankets- it can get so cold at night!
  • Sun cream, sun hats, parasols or some fabric and pegs to make a little shade sail (or a proper shade sail like my DIY one!) Shade is important.
  • A good, comfortable sling for babies which supports their legs properly (all the way to the back of their knees, legs in an 'M' shape, not dangling from their crotch!) and supports your back properly too. Go to your nearest sling library for more tips on this) or a hip seat for older toddlers.
  • Toddlers favourite snacks.
  • Books and toys for setting up and taking the tent down, and for the early mornings!
  • Water bottles for everyone (we use tin ones)
  • Torches for everyone
  • Fairy lights or lanterns to illuminate tent
  • Potty and nappies (I confess to being v grateful for the potty for my own middle of the night pee's!)
  • A little clip on torch to attach o the sip of their coats at night, it helps to find them if they get lost in the dark
  • A permanent market pen to write your phone number on their arm!
  • A solar/wind up/portable phone charger (when Frankie is older, we might get walkie talkies!)
PHOTO TAKEN AT LAST YEARS WOMAD BY DAVE BULLIVANT

PHOTO TAKEN AT LAST YEARS WOMAD BY DAVE BULLIVANT

I'm sure theres more, do chip in below with your suggestions if you have them.  

I’m planning a wider post about our camping pack list and tips for camping with toddlers too so watch out for that if you want to know more about how we do it. 

What are your favourite festivals? Are you going to any this year? Did any of you get to Latitude? I can't wait to get my Festival on!