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Signing on.

If you've read some of my previous blog posts you'll know that I've not been working for a while. Finding a job has been slightly harder than I thought, so eventually I had to turn to the government for a bit of help. And oh my, what a demoralising experience that was.

Having worked all my life I've never even contemplated attending a job centre before, until my dad told me I had to to get my national insurance 'stamp'. I had no idea at all what to expect. And I've been twice now. I'm glad I only have to go back once more.

My first time I sat for a good 15 minutes after my appointment time listening to the staff chatting about their weekends. They weren't even good stories. A bit of gossip or scandal I might have forgiven them!

The lady I eventually saw was nice enough, but not awfully helpful - to start with, the system didn't have any marketing roles on it, let alone digital marketing. It did however have 'cheese maker' listed. Which, lets face it, sounds awesome. I was then handed a piece of paper with my sign-on details - I was to go in, every other Thursday, 11.15. The most surprising part of the whole meeting was the 'commitment' I had to make to do 3 things a week to find a job. And these 3 things could include looking online or talking to a recruitment consultant. 3 Things. What the? No wonder people are unemployed!

My second meeting was slightly better than the first. We went through my working history. He read my CV. I made the same commitment to do 3 things a week to find work. I also had to sign to say that in a month if I didn't have a job, I'd look for other lines of work. I was told I'd be expected to take a job within a 90 minute commute and I had to attend a CV writing class, which he acknowledged I'd probably be qualified to teach. I was told my claim hadn't been processed yet. I was given a date in December to go back and visit them. That's it. But my experience was slightly better than the unfortunate man who sat on the desk next to me, he didn't speak much English, but from what I could tell, actually wanted a job. His worker however dismissed every role he gave her to apply for, even the ones he thought he could do.

I go back again Thursday to sign on, and hopefully, finally, to get a little financial help and to tell them I have a job and I wont be going back. As a friend put it, I'll just be another good number for their statistics.
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Pretty Packages

I am just a massive sucker for a pretty package. I'm the sort of person who will buy from anthro over somewhere else because the post always arrives just like a little gift! Who doesn't lovegifts?

Right now I am just finalising a little Etsy shop and of course the packaging is uber important - if not impossible to decide upon, so here are a few of my favourite's from a Pinterest trawl;








1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6, 7

What would be your dream packaging?
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Puppy Pumpkin - A DIY on how to Halloween your dog


Want to learn how to turn your puppy into a pumpkin? I made a super simple costume for Flash for Halloween and you can too.

Look at that face - can't you just tell he LOVES it.


For this tutorial you’ll need
  • Orange fabric – I used a £1.99 fleecy Dunelm throw as i thought fleece would be soft on the puppy’s skin, but you can use anything. You’ll need enough to comfortably wrap round your pet, plus a little extra for the hood.
  • A4 piece of Black felt
  • Some scraps of green felt
  • A scrap of brown felt.
  • Black thread.
  • Scissors.
  • Sewing machine (you can do it by hand but it might take longer)
  • Tape measure.
  • Fabric pen.
What you need to do; 
1. Start by measuring round your pet’s neck and the fattest part of their belly and from the nape of their neck to their tale. Jot these numbers down and then half the neck and belly numbers. On a piece of paper (I can use A4 as Flash is small, but you might need to use something bigger, maybe a broadsheet newspaper?) First cut the paper down to the length of your pups body, then measure out the halved neck size at the top of the page, at the bottom measure out the halved belly width and draw a curved line up. Now is the tricky bit – making the arm holes. I had him stand on the paper and drew roughly where his paws were –but I’ll be honest it took a few goes until it fitted him so using cheap paper might be best! Your finished article will look something like this;
2. Next I popped the template on my fleecy fabric and cut myself a couple of orange body shapes, leaving a couple of cm’s each side for the seams. I checked they were the right size to his body before I cut the arm holes.
Don’t throw the template away as you can reuse it to make more puppy jumpers – like this one.

3. If you’re using fabric with ‘right sides’ place them together and from what will be the inside of the jumper, sew up the sides, following the line of the cloth. Try it on your pup, just to make sure it fits. (The fleece didn’t have right sides, which makes everything easier.)
4. Now it’s time to shape the hoodie. Flash is a little boy dog so he needs a little more space to wee than a girl dog might, but i cut an arc out of the layer that covers his tummy and it’s not impeded his weeing yet!

5. Now it’s time to make the hood! Cut a piece of the fabric that is as long as your dog’s neck measurement. Fold it in half and then cut a hood shaped arc from it, like this;
I then sewed up the curved side of the hood, tried it on flash’s head and for size and then hemmed folded back the front of the hood to hem it.
6. To attach the hood I turned the sweater back inside out, turned the hood inside out and placed it inside the jumper, the right side of the hood next to the right side of the jumper – like this;
Inside of hood I lined up the front of the jumper so the hood almost met in the middle and pinned it. Once I sewed it and turned it the right side out it looks like this.
Now the jumper is done. It’s time to make the decorations.

7. Cut out 3 black triangles for the eyes and nose and a mouth. I’m not going to give you exact sizes as they need to look in proportion to the rest of the jumper. I hand sewed these on to the jumper.
8. To make the leaves and stalk, cut out 3-4 leaves from the green fabric, and a rectangle from the brown. Fold the ‘stalk’ in half, right sides together if you have them, and sew up the long edge. To turn it the right way round I wiggled a pencil through it, whilst making sure some of the fabric had ‘caught’ until it was right way round again. I sewed up one end and filled it with the scraps left over from the leaf edges. I then sewed the leaves to the top of the hood, and the stalk into the middle of them.
Phew – that sounds like a far longer process than it was – but it took me about 45mins in all – that included searching for the dog to try on his new jumper, snapping some pics as we went and a few breaks to check twitter and the likes.

But now I have a dog who can be dressed as a pumpkin for Halloween! Even if he’s not that happy about it!
And with a bit of adjustment to the decorations and colour you could turn your pup into any seasonal character you want.



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Travelling Notebooks Update

If you've been following the Travelling Notebooks - there is an update post over on http://thetravellingnotebookproject.blogspot.co.uk/


Our Snap Notebook hit Scotland and I couldn't be happier with hos the notebook has started off......You can see what Mairi wrote and the story behind the picture above.
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An upcycled puppy sweater


There are some advantages to not working and not having any cash - it makes you a little more crafty. I've done quite a few of fun projects over the last few weeks, and one of my favourites is Flash's new sweater. He's just a little pup - there's not a lot of fat or hair on him and he gets all shivery in the new cold weather he's discovering, so I figured he needed a little clothing*.

After a bit of searching on Pinterest I found this tutorial on how to turn an old sweater into a puppy jumper - and I had just the perfect number to use. After mishap with a beautiful cashmere sweater and the washing machine a few months ago, I used this lovely Jack Wills number. {I popped the scissors in there for scale - it was super shrunken!}


I didn't take photo's at every stage - I always forget to take photo's of my crafting. {Maybe it'll be a new years resolution.} So it might be worth checking out the tutorial too!

I started by measuring Flash's neck and belly, halving the numbers and creating a template that looked a bit like this.


It took a couple of goes to get the arm holes in the right place - I kept putting them too close together.

After cutting out the template shape from the jumper using the ribbed bit of the jumper as the bottom of his jumper, I sewed both sides of the jumper together - right sides together, {these bits I didn't take pics of.}

And tried it on Flash. Look how rigid he is - bless him!


At this point I realised that he couldn't wee unless I cut out a little bit round his belly.


And it looked a little bit unfinished round the neck. I knew that Flash wouldn't like the roll neck in the tutorial, so I chopped some of the collar from the original jumper and sewed it on this jumper.

To do this I turned it back inside out, pinned the collar to the neck - I'm not quite sure how to describe it in sewing terms but basically, the collar is placed face down on the outside of the jumper and sewn from the inside. It looks like this;


Does that make sense?

I looked at adding sleeves too, as in the tutorial, but it was a bit of a struggle getting him into it at first so I didn't want to make it any more difficult to put on and i think it's much less restrictive like this. And now I have the template - there's no stopping me. I'm thinking a Halloween outfit next!

And here he is in the finished number looking all dapper and handsome;



*The boy totally doesn't agree - but what happens whilst he's away, he can't say no to!
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A fold-over Clutch

I am in the process of falling in love with my sewing machine again. I fell out of love with it after an ill-fated attempt at sewing jersey material. But it turns out I like it more than I thought I did. Just as long as I stay away from the stretchy fabrics. And as I have a little more time on my hands than normal, I thought I best fill it wisely, rather than spending my time sitting on my ass, working my way through the sky movies back catalogue and eating crisps. {Although this does sound like a fantastic way to spend the day doesn't it.}

We were off to a wedding last month. A wedding to which the dress I planned to wear had no suitable handbag, so after a bit of Pining I found the perfect style in a fold over clutch. Cute, but big enough to fit everything.in.the.world.ever. Yes I am one of those girls.

I found the perfect piece of navy blue leatherette at an upholstery store by my house. For £2.10 it wasn't a bad purchase - and worked out about the perfect size. I chose a white zip so it had a little bit of a nautical theme {you know I love a good bit of nautical}and I used a beautiful piece of Liberty 'Lord Paisley' material as the lining.

But as I've mentioned before I'm pretty rubbish at taking photo's so I've gone back to the start and made a whole new one. This time we're rocking a grey leatherette, with a grey and pink Liberty fabric as the lining.
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Not falling apart.


It's been 4 weeks since I finished work and 2 weeks since the boy went back to India and I'm getting pretty good at lying now.Especially to the 'How are you?' question - Not working and being here alone is pretty depressing, so I have found that the real answer isn't what people want to hear so I've got good at avoiding eye contact and telling everyone I am ok.

But there are small things keeping me sane, mostly the fact I'm not totally alone and I have the puppy here - just the fact I have to get up and get dressed in the mornings so our other puppy club friends don't think I'm crazy helps. As do the puppy cuddles and the the craziness he brings.

There are trips to see friends & my best mates hen-do's.

And we have skype. The boy and I skype almost every day. Flash hasn't quite got it yet and can't figure out where the voice is coming from, but maybe he will in the next 3 weeks.

There are new friends met online that have spilt into my real life.

There are poptarts.

And there has been a lot of random crafting. Crafting for me and for friends and just because. Crafting that I'm going to get my ass in gear and share with you. Soon. I have a little handbag post lined up in my head that I'll hopefully share with you later this week.

It's not all bad. I just have to dig a little deeper to get past the feeling that I'm not awfully worthwhile and find the things that make me smile.
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