Lou's Column: Beach Treasures Wall Hanging.

Lou Archell for Seeds and Stitches Beach wall hanging

Hannah here: We are excited to welcome Lou back to the blog with a gorgeous beachy DIY. I am about to head off on our holiday and I'll be collecting treasures with this project in mind. Thank you, as always, lovely Lou!

Following on from last months post, on how to display flowers, this month I thought I’d talk about finding nature’s treasure whilst on holiday.

Most of us this summer, will be spending our days beach side.  Whilst there, I love to look for shells, sea glass, mermaids purses, crab shells, cuttle fish bones and so on…  filling my pockets as I wander along the sea's edge.

Once home, there are many ways to display your beach treasure.  In a bowl or on the table; it's an instant tactile way of remembering your holiday. Or why not try a wall hanging… 

Loou Archell for Seeds and Stitches beach wall hanging

You will need:

  • Shells, coral, pebbles, - anything you might find
  • Copper jewellery wire (I found mine on Ebay)
  • Driftwood
  • Scissors
  • Dremel 
  • Twine

Instructions:

  1. Using the dremel (you can pick these up quite cheaply in DIY shops), drill a small hole into one end of the shell.
  2. Next take a piece of copper wire and thread it through the hole.  Twist the end to secure.  You can get fancy here and twist the excess wire into curls if you wish.
  3. Attach the wire and shell to the driftwood stick by twisting the end over it a couple of times.
  4. With pebbles, I wrapped them with the wire before attaching them to the stick.
  5. Keep adding shells and pebbles as you go until you have the desired effect.
  6. Finally, attach some garden twine to the ends of the stick and hang it up!
Lou Archell for Seeds and Stitches beach wall hanging

I think it would look great anywhere: above a child's bed, above the sofa in the lounge, or hanging in the garden.

So this summer, get out and beach comb and see what you can find...

If you make something with your beach treasures, please do let us know so we can see and coo over it!

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An interview with Cerys Matthews: Music, motherhood and being outdoors.

Carys Matthews, The Good Life Experience

Hannah here: Our plan is to bring you regular interviews with interesting people focussing on creativity and motherhood and we are super excited to have had the honour of interviewing Cerys Matthews. I am a huge fan of her show on BBC 6 Music and listen almost every week, so it was very exciting to get to bend Cery’s ear off about music and motherhood ahead of her festival, The Good Life Experience, in September.   

This festival really appealed to me because it fits so well with what I love, and what we are trying to ‘do' on our blog: nature, creativity and family. I loved Cerys' answers to my questions and found myself passionately nodding along in a slightly deranged way. 

Hawarden Estate, the location of The Good Life Experience

Hawarden Estate, the location of The Good Life Experience

Getting kids outside

HB: Why did you set up the festival then? Whats it all about?

CM Young minds need stimulating, and that was a big part of setting up the Good Life Experience. It was doing away with ‘Princess on Board’ signs and treating the kids as information sponges, allowing that adults do want to know more about the world, give them challenges (and things that cost nothing) by re engaging with nature and it's manifold pursuits.

HB Yes! I love that! But I recently read that 64% of kids today play outside less than once a week, with all sort of negative health implications. How, in your opinion, can we remedy that?! How on earth do we tempt kids outside more?
 
CM: First step is limit gadget dependency , teach them the names and unique qualities about what's around them when you are out and about with them, plant life, buildings styles, can be eaten or could be poisonous ..... 

HB: What about people living in cities?

CM: Even walking around London we have seen wild garlic, sorrel, dandelion. Their young minds take in everything and they really enjoy recognising them and pointing them out in the future.
 
HB: How often do you try to get out as a family? What are your favourite outdoor family haunts?
 
CM: I love a BBQ, so any sign of a rain free day (or anything short of torrential rain) we get out of the house, put the music on and take turns turning the food (including the 2 vegetarians in the family). I'm lucky in that we go to Pembrokeshire in the school holidays, but even when we are at home in London we get out to the local park in the sunshine or museums in the winter.  
HB: Pembrokeshire is one of my favourite places on the planet. Do you notice a difference in your kids behaviour or sleep after roaming outdoors? 

CM: I wish I did , but must say that getting children to bed is never an easy task.

HB *nods in stoic agreement*

Paprika launching the Good Life Experience at Pedlars. Image: Pedlars. 

Paprika launching the Good Life Experience at Pedlars. Image: Pedlars. 

Music

HB: OK now onto the music. It sounds incredible, and perfect for both parents and children. Surely, as a parent, you shouldn’t have to be stuck playing off-key nursery rhymes? There is just hardly any decent kids music around. Whyyyy?!
 
CM: Kids love Motown in my experience, it’s a good place to start, great songs. Reggae gives them a good chance to get up and shake the hips. I've never had the One Direction phase with our kids, that's more about consumerism than music. By the same token we have never gone out of our way to indoctrinate them into liking what we choose to listen to. 
 
HB But why do you think that most kids music is so rubbish?! Is the answer to avoid it all together?!
 
CM: It's up to the children to choose , and a lot of that can be influenced by what they hear in the playground. Since we got rid of TV in our house a few years back the children seem less exposed to disposable music, and their book reading is on fire and their vocabularies too.

HB *plots to remove TV* What are your favourite artists or albums to play to your kids (whether it’s meant for kids or not)?  
CM: Paragons - lovely positive songs and great melodies 
Louis Armstrong - puts a smile on any face 
Fanfare Ciocarlia 
Bach 
Aretha / Ray Charles 

Motherhood

HB Lastly, I’d love to talk to you about how motherhood mixes in with all of this. I have a 2 year old so am very interested in how your music meshes with your motherhood, and how on earth you juggle everything! How has your experience of motherhood influenced your own music and creating? Have you felt more or less creative since having children? (I have found myself feeling bolder and more creative since having my daughter, which I didn’t really expect.) 
 
CM: To be honest I was actively performing right up to the births and afterward was so busy with the early months/years that creativity has had to take second place. I do the school runs so have a routine of getting straight down to work once the house is quiet for 6 hours.

HB: How does music and creating play a part in normal daily family life? Do you listen to stuff together or is there different music blasting from all the rooms in the house? Or none at all?!
 
CM: Music is always present, and yes we all listen from the same turntable.
 
HB: How do you juggle all of your amazing projects with 3 children?! I’m in awe
 
CM: Don't be, I'm a parent first, and I put in the hours that most working mothers do. I had an advantage I think in that my parents didn't stand for the children's entertainment distractions that existed when I grew up , we went boating , read books , I started learning guitar at 9 etc . Having a structure as a parent in the way that you bring up your children is the most important thing , you are the boss and you do know what is best for them , and saying that I can definitely say that I am not a 'pushy ' mum with regards to their achievements but I won't sit by and let them idle their life away on gadgets , or allow bad manners or them acting in any way workout considering others around them . 

-----

Gosh, thanks so much to Cery's. I may be ever so slightly star struck, can you tell?

The Good Life Experience

The Good Life Experience

More info:

I waded through the billions of crap kids songs on YouTube and pulled together this playlist with some lovely folkie kids songs. We use this when things are crazy busy instead of watching TV and it really works. 

A bit more about the festival:

The Good Life Experience is a chic festival all about celebrating the great outdoors. Co-run by chic vintage homewares brand pedlars, think archery, abseiling, cooking classes, camp fires and sing-a-longs with Cerys. Bell tents, bunting, posh booze, that sort of thing. 
 
Some of the music highlights I am particularly excited about are seeing Paprika, a renowned gypsy concert band, Welsh harpist Georgia Ruth; The CC Smugglers- a British folkie/world music band and The London Bulgarian Choir- a 40-strong ensemble. Can. Not. Wait. 

There will be tons of good food stuff too- Bill Granger,Tom Herbert (The Fabulous Baker Brothers) and a coffee workshop from Brewed Boy. 
 
Simon Jenkins, Musa Okwonga and Murray Lachlan Young will be talking/reading/performing too. 

“Just my cup of tea” would be a major understatement.

It’s on Saturday 20th September, at Harwarden Estate in Flintshire. The programme is curated by Charlie and Caroline Gladstone, founders of homeware store, Pedlars.

Come, come! You can get your tickets here

Cross Posted with Huffington Post

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DIY Liberty Fabric Bow Tie

Davina here - It was Nick and my 6 year wedding anniversary last weekend and for our anniversary I decided to make him a Liberty Print Bow Tie, which I rubber stamp printed on one side lots of 6s with fabric ink for him to wear on the day but then use the other side in future.


What you need to make a Liberty Print Bow Tie:

  • A small amount of Liberty Fabric print (quarter a meter is more than enough)
  • Velcro
  • Fabric scissors
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins
  • Thread

 

Fabric A: Top left/ Fabric B; Bottom and Fabric CL Top right

Fabric A: Top left/ Fabric B; Bottom and Fabric CL Top right

How to make a Liberty Print Bow Tie:

  1. Buy some lovely Liberty Print fabric - I buy mine from Church Street Market, where you can buy some prints for as little as £7 a meter! You will only need a small amount - buy as little as you can. A quarter will do.
  2. Iron fabric.
  3. Cut out three pieces in the following sizes: A: 16 x 15 cm B: 50 x 5 cm and C: 6 x 5 cm
  4. Fold fabric A in half to make it 8 x 15 cm with right side facing inwards.
  5. Sew around the sides leaving a gap to turn the right way round. I left my gap in the middle.
  6. Turn the right way round and use a pencil to poke out the corners. Iron flat.
  7. Sew the hole neatly together.
  8. Now turn the edges in of Fabric B  (see photo) - use an iron to do this neatly. Fold side edges too. 
  9. Now fold Fabric B in half and iron down so sharp fold.
  10. Sew together ensuring you are sewing over the folds.
  11. Repeat step 8 & Step 9 with Fabric C
  12. Now fold Fabric C in half and sew together to join it so its a loop - turn the right way and flatten hem. 
Step 4: Fabric A folded in half to sew

Step 4: Fabric A folded in half to sew

Step 8: Turning and ironing edges of Fabric B inwards

Step 8: Turning and ironing edges of Fabric B inwards

Step 11: Iron edges in of Fabric C and then fold in half and sew in place

Step 11: Iron edges in of Fabric C and then fold in half and sew in place

Step 12: Now fold Fabric C in half and sew together to join it so its a loop - turn the right way and flatten hem

Step 12: Now fold Fabric C in half and sew together to join it so its a loop - turn the right way and flatten hem

Finished bow tie with lots of 6s printed on it (only on one side!)

Finished bow tie with lots of 6s printed on it (only on one side!)

Other handmade anniversary gifts:

I also looked up what the traditional gifts are for 6 years and found that they are iron and sugar. I took him out for a really good steak on Saturday night to the Grain Store in Edinburgh as his main present (as there is plenty of iron in steak!!). I also Trodat stamped ‘We Are 6’ on tissue paper and hand wrapped some of his favourite sweets with the paper. For his card I bought a packet of sugar cubes and created a 6 against my Liberty print tray to match the bow tie but also go with sugar them. 

My 6 Year Anniversary Card to Nick - apparently 6 years is sugar..

My 6 Year Anniversary Card to Nick - apparently 6 years is sugar..

In love with Amsterdam - 9 Highlights

Amsterdam

I left my heart, and as it turns out, my laptop charger, in Amsterdam.

It is not often we visit a place and start to plot to move their within a couple of hours of setting foot in it. 

We arrived, knowing not a jot where we would go. Dave, always cool in these matters, steered us in the opposite direction of the teeming tourist crowds at Amsterdam Central with backpacks on their fronts, and peace fingers. After only a few minutes and an excellent spot of luck, we stumbled on our favourite spot of the trip, Vinnies. It makes great coffee and delicious, super healthy food. We couldn’t quite believe our luck and this blundering, under researched, but brilliant discovery mirrored the rest of our trip. 

9 highlights of our trip to Amsterdam

  1. Van Stapele Koekmakerij. A shop only selling nothing but one flavour of chocolate chip cookie claimed my heart immediately. You know when you taste something so decadent it makes the tiny hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, and your eyes slightly roll back in your head, in a not altogether attractive way, but you don’t care because oh-god-the-chocolate??! That. Chewy with a gooey white chocolate centre and slightly crispy top; it was a disgustingly amazing slice of chocolate heaven. AND there is a secret trap door which has little presents for children. Come. On.
  2. Vinnies. Excellent coffee, breezy mid century interior, lovely staff, free wifi and the most delicious superhealthy food. Hooked.
  3. Harlem soul food. Recommended by some trendy locals in a vintage shop, it serves really simple but delicious portions of strip steak and nacho’s, and is pretty cheap too. Ace, even if our table did get accosted by a drunken dude who insisted on regaling us with his life story. Thanks pal!
  4. There are tons of amazing contemporary galleries here but Foam Gallery was excellent. We really loved the Charlie Engman portraits for Hermes, and they were also showing a pretty shocking/sobering show from Larry Clark too. 
  5. Waterlooplein market. Recommended to us by all so we extended our stay to explore this market. I remember how good this was from my visit a decade earlier and gosh, it didn’t disappoint. We came away with some vintage cushions, a bed sheet and a huge old clog. I couldn’t not buy a clog, ok?! And YES, of course we have room in our car for more vintage tat...
  6. Amazing colourful street art. Everywhere. 
  7. A boat trip around the harbour and canals. So touristy, but I think seeing a city from the water is always romantic and wonderful. Plus we found a pretty cheap place that does it. 
  8. Exploring the canals by foot.  Lined in large trees, harbouring the most amazing house boats  (another post!) and often overlooked by picturesque cafe’s and bars, we spent hours crossing bridges, getting lost down canal side streets and dream-house-boat-spotting 
  9. Cheap vintage shops. My favourite was Wini's with a 5 euro pile (heaven or what?!) but cheap vintage is in abundance.
Vinnie's Amsterdam
Street art Amsterdam
Van Stepele Amsterdam
Van Stepele secret childrens door
Amsterdam Flamingo street art
Wini vintage Amsterdam
Store Without A Home Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Boat trip in Amsterdam
Amsterdam vintage market
Amsterdam canals
Haarlem Soul Food

P.S I'm writing this from a wild and stormy remote corner in Holland.  It sure is windswept but it's brilliant too. But. A strange thing is happening. I have never been so sleepy and happily spaced out. Is this relaxing?! I am leaving, forgetting and losing things allll the time. Slightly alarming when you consider that I am supposed to be remembering to drive on the wrong side of the road. (driving going ok so far though!)

P.S.S Here is a link to Davina's Top 5 Things to do in Amsterdam with Kids

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Some things we learnt in Antwerp (and some cool places to visit)

Antwerp

Hannah here: We set off on our month long Europe adventure on Sunday after a chaos filled week of moving all of our belongings into storage, camping our at Dave's sisters place, and also packing for our trip. Our DFDS ferry set off on a beautiful glassy sea, leaving Dover (and moving house stress) far behind.  We devoured fresh croissants, giggled like excited school children, and sat captivated by the gently rolling view of sea, sky, sea, more sea, a little cloud (etc) out of the front windows of the boat. From Calais; Antwerp- our first destination- was only a couple of hours drive which went smoothly, with a chant of “drive on the right. The right. The right” every 30 seconds or so. 

Our  Airbnb loft  in Antwerp was incredible. Its owners run a circus school in the building so drama and colour abound; from the double height ceilings, to the plush red velvet chairs and the huge chandelier, and the enormous mosaic and rows of cinema chairs in the entrance hall.

Antwerp itself is also pretty cool, but the cool takes a little digging out. It strikes us as friendly and accommodating, small and exceptionally culturally diverse, although that might have been the area we were staying in. 

Some snaps. (/a billion snaps)

The floating farm

The floating farm

The floating farm

The floating farm

Time Circus Floating farm
Beeeeer!

Beeeeer!

Antwerp
CaffeNation Antwerp
CaffeNation Antwerp
Antwerp Lomography shop
CaffeMatic Antwerp
MOMU (fashion museum) Antwerp

MOMU (fashion museum) Antwerp

Momu

Momu

Froy&Dind Antwerp
Froy&Dind Antwerp
CaffeInternationale Antwerp
Antwerp coffee
Photography museum Antwerp
Antwerp Kloosterstraat
untitled-9145.jpg
Think Twice Antwerp
Our loft

Our loft

The circus school in the loft

The circus school in the loft

loft love

loft love

Circus Loft Antwerp
loft entrance hall

loft entrance hall

loft entrance hall- whoa.

loft entrance hall- whoa.

 

Things we learnt in Antwerp. 

The cool kids go to CaffeNation, which services excellent coffee.

Caffe Internazionale is also really cool and serves enormous salads and pastrami confections.  (as are Instagram recommendations, thank you Kateclarklond)

Caffe Mattic  has a certain bohemian, 70's vibe about it, at the bottom of Kammenstraat- a cool street we spent a bit of time exploring.  (although coffee not as good as CaffeNation). Cafe lovers? Us?

Last minute, desperate shout outs for cool places to go on social media channels is in fact a very respectable way of exploring a new city you've done no research about (due to moving house the week before) 

Head to the Fashion museum for an exhibition which is more like sculpture or installation art, than fashion (which your toddler may find very boring). Again, thanks to facebook friend Lizzie.

Antwerp is all up on colourful, pretty gender neutral kids shops. Refreshing. 

Coffee tends to be served on cute little wooden trays, always with a little sweet treat on the side (heart shaped waffle, iced gems etc) I definitely did not squeal with delight each time. 

The photography museum’s very wide variety of exhibitions is brilliant, as is the old fashioned Photo Booth in the foyer (child like photobooth behaviour optional) 

Don’t go to Antwerp between Sunday-Wednesday. Lots of things will be closed, including the street you were most looking forward to visit (Kloosterstraat- vintage heaven). Sob, sob.

Moisquito’s are evil in Antwerp. Even indoors. 

Think Twice vintage shop is pretty brilliant and cheap, too. 

Fien’s loft in Antwerp is possibly one of the coolest places you could stay.

Fiens loft in Antwerp is also sort of a toddler death trap but it's manageable if you don’t mind occasionally wrecked nerves and vocal chords. "Not the staaairrs!”

The Time Circus floating vegetable garden and farm at the bottom of a crane near MAS is possibly one of the coolest places you'll ever set foot on. 

It's really hard to drive in the centre of town. Darting on and off tram lines when you're not entirely sure if you're driving on the right side of the road is a little... exhilarating, shall we say.  

Its residents are strangely conservative about road crossing. Green. Man. Is. God.

Its residents are also exceedingly friendly and helpful. Thank you, kind people of Antwerp for helping us to navigate ticket machines, tram stops, and unintelligible requests for "the vintage bit?"

Up next: Amsterdam, baby. 

P.S- So, I was totally on telly the other night. Scary/Exciting.

Thank you, you've all been totally lovely. 

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