mardi, décembre 30, 2014

Another zipped tote bag

I made myself a zipped tote bag. I fell in love with this print when I was at the fabric shop looking for zippers. 

It has this Japanese feel to it. For the lining, I used a checker yellow and white fabric. I have like 5m of this cloth and somehow could never use it up. I bought it at the market when I first received my sewing machine. That was like two years ago. 

 I shall use this bag in Singapore. It looks out of place in this season of winter coats and scarves.

samedi, décembre 27, 2014

Pony lesson

The boys had pony lesson for the first time today. In the area where we stay, there are many pony and horse riding clubs around. A few weeks ago, I saw a pamplet promoting pony lessons during the christmas school vacation. I decided to sign up the boys for a 3 hours lesson.
Usually, riding clubs accept at least a trimester lessons if not more. So this was a good occasion for the boys to just try one lesson. 

Today is a very cold, wet and windy day. I made the boys wear two pairs of socks and few layers of clothes. Seb and I stayed in the beginning and when A2 was comfortable with the instructor, we left and had a coffee in the uptown. We came back to the pony club at 11am and watched the kids. They were doing great handling the ponies and carrying out the instructions given. I was so cold standing in the open that my feet were numbed. 

They prepared and dressed their ponies, mounted the ponies by themselves with the help of some plastic stools, rode and even trotted. 

At noon, the lesson was over. They took their ponies back to the box and patted them good bye.

We then headed to MacDonald for a quick lunch. The boys enjoyed this experience. We might try a lesson or two again when the days are warmer.

dimanche, décembre 14, 2014

Dino soft toy

I received a sewing book two birthdays ago and had wanted to start a project from the book. I finally decided to take a break from sewing bags and to make a soft toy for my friend's daughter as a christmas present.
Here is the finished project. A fuschia dino softie.  I washed the fabrics first after cutting them. So there is no worries on chewing the softie.
I sent it over to my friend in Germany and she told me her girl liked it. This is an easy project. Too bad my boys have too many soft toys and are too old to receive new ones.
Next up, a zipped tote bag for myself.

vendredi, décembre 05, 2014

A card holder

I have been silent on my blog for nearly a month. Well, that's because I have been busy with my blessed routine as a work from home mother.

Once the boys are in bed between 8.30pm and 9pm, I would get some chores finished like clearing up the kitchen, or starting the washing machine/dryer or ironing. When I have time for myself, it would be piano practise, reading or sewing. I was surfing online for Christmas presents as well. That easily ends a day and the next morning, the routine starts again...

For our 12th anniversary in Nov, I made a card holder for Seb. It was not as brillant as I like it to be. I followed this site and it was not at all difficult. However, my card holder is slighly smaller than the cards. I would have to make my seams at 0.5cm instead of 1cm for the next one.

I do like the inner fabric a lot. I am starting to have a huge stash of fabrics. Still, I succumbed to temptation and bought two fabrics recently.  I intend to make zipped bags out of it. Stay tune to see pictures of that.

vendredi, novembre 21, 2014

The pop up Jungle book

 I ordered this book from Amazon as I read good reviews about it. I was so excited when I received it. I would like to give it as a Christmas present to my nephew who is taking English in his high school. However, Seb told me that he would be too old to be interested in such books. Maybe I will just keep it for my boys though I felt they are still young and might easily destroy this exquisite and delicate book.

This pop-up Jungle book is AMAZING. I love the engineering of this pop up book. I have no idea paper can be so 3D.
Just look at these pages. They are full of details. I love this book.
We still have a few weeks to Christmas. Maybe I will just change my mind and present it to the boys on Christmas. I am sharing about this book because it is an ideal Christmas present for children.

samedi, octobre 11, 2014

Zoo et parc de Thoiry

The zoo of Thoiry again. The boys visited Thoiry organised by the Centre de loisirs (Recreation center) in June. That was the first time A2 visitied the zoo and the boys enjoyed the trip.

We had tickets from Seb's company and as the cold days were coming and the zoo would be closed in mid autum, we visited the zoo last Saturday.

It was a sunny day and we packed picnic lunch. This was my second visit and the animals were closer to the car than the previous time. The zebras especially were walking from car to car (in search of food). The boys and Seb got to touch the zebra while I was snapping away.

This visit revived the boys' minds of what they saw during their last visit and they were telling us excitingly about it. 

After the safari, we walked through the zoo. As the boys were older, we were able to visit more animals. A1 stopped by to play a while in the playground. A2 preferred to go to the animal farm to pet and feed goats. He loved animals.

Here are a few more photos of the safari.
The rhinocero did not want to face us. 
The hippopotamus preferred to stay in the cool water. We waited a while to have a peek of their heads.

There are many zoos in France. We shall aim to visit others. 

dimanche, octobre 05, 2014

The age of reasoning

At 5 years old, our little boy is at the age of reasoning.

Here was what I overheard one morning over breakfast.
Translated into english. The dad went "You have to finish your breakfast. In order to grow up, you have to eat." A2 asked "Papa, are you still growing?" Dad went "Non, papa has stopped growing." "So why are you eating then?", questioned A1 innocently. That just made me laughed. Seb stammered back with something like he needed to eat to have energy for the day.
I have to give some backgound information on why Seb said that to A1 in the first place. A1 does not eat a lot for breakfast. He is contented to just drink a cup of milk. We have to constantly make him finish his bread, biscuits, cereals or cookies. He would prefer to eat fruits which we do give him sometimes. While A2 on the other hand, can finish his breakfast and that of his brother's if given a chance.

And two days ago, while having dinner, Seb was putting fish on A1's plate. A1 asked 'Papa, you don't eat meat, right?' The boys are aware of this since a while but I guess the idea is not encasted in their minds. The dad replied 'Yes, I don't want to eat animals because I don't think it is good to kill animals.' 'Then why (did) you give me meat?', asked A1. Oops. We were at a sticky situation again. We explained to him that he needed meat for its proteins and vitamins to grow. And that he could make his own choice when he would be older if he wants to eat meat.

Seb and I discussed and realised that we have to be careful with what we say to our boys. They are no longer babies and can put things togather through logical thinking. OK, for the moment it is just A1. Still, we must not lie to our children.

Something else I remembered. A few weeks ago, I was driving with A1 to Paris to meet up with friends. A1 said he learnt from school that there were two kind of eggs. If the cock gives the hen a seed, the egg will hatch and a chick will be born. I kept up the conversation and said: 'You know, your father gave me something to make you just like the cock.' He asked if it was a seed. I told him no and gave him the name. 'Where did he put it?' came his next question. By which, I quickly changed the subject: 'Let's see if there is any aeroplane in the sky.' He looked up as we were on the highway passing by the Orly airport. Then he went back to the topic and asked 'Why always boys you make?' I laughed out loud and told him we did not choose. It was a 50% chance. Well, he did not understand that. I told him he would understand when he would be older.

I hope to note down all these little innocent questions he asked. For a start, putting these in this post would help me to remember in later years how sweet and naive my 5 year old boy was.

mercredi, octobre 01, 2014

Spiderman theme birthday party

A2 turned four in September.
He had no problem choosing a theme for his birthday party. As you can see, it is all about Spiderman. 
When I asked who he would like to invite before school started, he cited all the friends from A1's class. I was not surprised as the boys were in the same class last school year and he played a lot with A1's friends. I suggested his own classmates and he decided to invite the three boys from his class and another four friends from A1's class. 

A week before the party, I made a pinata by blowing a big balloon and pasting it with strips of newspaper. For the glue, I mixed one portion of flour with five portions of water and cooked it for 8 mins. Once the mixture cooled down, it was sticky. At first, I would like the pinata to be Spiderman but I thought the kids might not want to hit their hero. So in the end, I pasted green paper napkins and drew it to be the Green Goblin. I put in sweets before pasting the green paper napkins to conceal the opening.
My pinata was so solid that it was unbreakable. I made too many layers of paper marche. We ended up putting it on the ground and hitting it instead. The children rushed to get the sweets and a few played with the broken pinata by putting it over their heads as a mask.

The night before the party, I made Spiderman balloons and also a web. I made spider lollipops with little black pipe cleaners. I had a tough time looking for them in france as I did not know the name in french, nor did I know any craft shop. That was the decoration.

 For games, other than the pinata, the kids threw water balloons at the bad guys pasted on the wall. They played a game of "Spiderman is here?". It was like "Duck, duck, goose". In France, it was called "Is the postman here?" One kid was holding a spiderman toy. When we finished the song of the postman by replacing it with "Spiderman", the kid would put the toy behind one of the children sitting in a circle. That kid would then have to chase the first kid until the first kid took the place of the latter.
In another game, they had to throw little cotton balls through the web and went through a mini obstacle course to get to a spiderman pinata which had goodies in it. This spiderman pinata had a slit at the back so the kids could put their hands in to grab a goodie.

 In the party group, there was only one girl. The other girl invited could not make it. This girl was the only one who tried to walk through the obstacle course. The boys all just crawled through. That was an interesting observation.

For the party food, I made a birthday cake of Spiderman face. It was the first time I made this cake and the children were really excited about it. A2 was very happy. However, he did not want to cut his hero. Oops. I should have thought of that. We managed to convince him that it was okay to cut the cake as his friends wanted to eat it. There were also sweets, pop corns and cherry tomatoes with cheese on a stick.
After food was presents time. A2 was a lucky boy. His friends brought him his favourite toys. From Spiderman to Planes to Playmobil. The children were all excited to see what A2 got. 
After 2hours and a half, the party was over.  Seb and I were happy that things went well. It was a hot and sunny September day. Just the kind we were hoping for. Thank God. And the two of us had an early evening that day.

Having put the photos up in Facebook, I got comments from friends calling me a great hands on mother. Before becoming a mother, I would not have dream of making such efforts. Now, it is natural for me to try out new things (I was really lousy at art and craft) to make my children happy. My boys appreciated the DIY stuff I made. This in return makes me a contented mother.

vendredi, septembre 19, 2014

Great bargain

In France, there are two period of sales. One summer sale and one winter sale. Each lasts about a few weeks. I tend to shop at the last week as there are real bargains. Of course, there is less choice and sizes left.
At Decathlon, I looked at the end of the series area and found a few great bargains. Sports pants at 1€. At home, I removed the price tag and the original price was 9.95€. Then it was reduced to 6€. After that, at 5€ and finally at 1€. That's a 90% discount.  I like bargains like this.

jeudi, septembre 18, 2014

Activties for this year

After two months of summer holiday, the start of the school term also means the start of after school activities. 

Last year, the boys joined kids' gym every tuesday after school. On top of that, A1 had tennis on wed morning. They also had chinese lesson on sunday afternoon.

This year, we scrapped chinese lesson. It was not useful for the boys and I was disappointed with the program.

A2 wants to be at the kids' gym on tuesday so the boys would continue that. He would join A1 for tennis lesson too though not in the same lesson. And on wed afternoon, there is karate. 

Karate started two weeks ago. The boys had fun. With school on wed morning and birthday celebrations in the afternoon, by the time the boys reached karate lesson, they were exhausted. A2 slept in the car yesterday on the way there and he missed his lesson.

We just received the schedule for the tennis lesson. A1's would be on wed at 2pm and A2's on Saturday at 11am. We are going to request for A1's to be on saturday too. I would like the boys to catch a nap before karate lesson on wed. I do not want to rush around bringing and fetching the boys for their activities.

As for wed nap, it is complicated this month. They had been invited to four birthdays since school started and three were on wed afternoons. August and September birthday kids are having their birthday party now that school starts and they can invite their friends.

Speaking of which, I am preparing for A2's birthday party. We are reasonable this time. He is inviting six friends over. Seb and I should be able to handle eight kids.

As for myself, I shall continue with gym STEP. I also start to take piano lesson from a neighbour. I stopped my lessons when I had A1. I would like to brush up my skill. Today was my first lesson and my teacher said I had potential. That word is so french. I shall take that as a compliment.

vendredi, septembre 05, 2014

A new school year

Yipee. The two long months of school holiday is over. The boys started school on tuesday and were excited to see their friends. This year, they have school on Wednesday morning as well. This puzzled A1 as he knew that wednesday was no school day.

I would prefer the old system but with the new government in place, the new education minister has decided to spread the learning hours to 4.5 days instead of jamming into a 4 days school week. This is meant for students to have a shorter day in school. However, it is impossible for working parents to fetch their children earlier. No aide was given to the towns and cities and each town hall is left to its device to best manage the situation.

In our village, the kids have a longer lunch break and school ends earlier at 4.15pm instead of 4.30pm everyday except wednesday.  On wednesday morning, school is from 9am to noon. This defeats the idea of the education minister. Our kids are more tired than before as they spend more time in school. A1's tennis lesson on wed morning would be push to the afternoon. If we have no programs on wed, I would make the boys take a nap on wed and I notice that they still need that.

We just have to adapt to the new rhythm.

In the photo, they were carrying the school bags I made while walking to school on the first day. Before the end of the week, they had each received two birthday invitations. Such popular boys.

dimanche, août 24, 2014

A bag for my mother

 My mother is leaving France soon to go back home. When she saw me making the school bags for the boys, she asked if I could make her a simple bag with a zip. When I made my totes for friends, they often made the remarks that it would be great to be able to close the bag with a zipper.

I realised that it was time for me to take up this challenge. I turned to internet as usual and found a great site that explained clearly on how to make a zipped up bag.

I used the rest of the material from A1's bag and for the lining, I used fuchsia. The bag has both my mother's favourite colors.

Inside the bag, there are two pockets.

My mother is very happy with her new bag. It is a simple tote and just the right size for her. I bought more zippers and hopefully can make a few more to brush my skills.

lundi, août 11, 2014

School bag for A2

 As promised in my previous post, here is the bag I made for A2. As he only needs to bring a change of clothes to school, I made him a small haversack.

It is a pirate ships theme bag. When I showed it to A2, he was very happy and immediately had it on his back to show his father and his brother.

At the front, there is a transparent pocket. He can slot his drawings in it. At the back, there are two zipped pockets for him to put his treasures. It was really hard to attach the zips to the bag. This is a difficulty two bag and I took nine hours to make it. I had to unstitch my works twice. Good thing, it looks presentable in the end.

I am taking a short break. I made this bag in the midst of paint works in the house. Over the weekends, Seb and I painted our living room and dining area. Once the kids were in bed, I worked on the bags late into the night.

My next challenge is to do a zipped tote bag for my mother. She requested for one when she saw the school bags I made. I hope to get it done before she goes back home in two weeks time. 

vendredi, août 08, 2014

New school bag

A1 is going to the grand section in Septembre. As he would be bringing school work home, he would need a bigger school bag to hold the A4 size folders.

I looked up on the book Seb gave me and decided to make him a cartable. I bought faux leather and cloth and bag accessories and sewed my way through three nights. Clocked up a total of nine hours and presented to my son his new school bag.

Though A1 asked for a bag with rainbows or planes, I made him one with submarines because I thought the prints suit him a lot. I showed the bag to uncle Tim and he said it was rainbow submarines. I think that impressed A1.

A1 loves it. I was happy. I realise that the shoulder straps are a bit wide for his little shoulders. Hoping he would grow broader in the months to come. 

It was not easy sewing this bag. I had to undo some stitches due to mistakes and if one look really carefully, one can see tiny needle holes at the back.This is only a difficulty level one bag.

I planned to make a bag for A2 and chose a difficulty level two bag. I shall post it soon. I just finished it yesterday after three working nights.