Buggy Cushion for Quinny Zapp Xtra

IMG_1002Having had 4 babies and also a mild pushchair addiction, I have got through a few pushchairs.

Out of the 12 or so that I’ve had my little Quinny Zapp Xtra is easily my favourite.

There are some issues with it. The wheels are noisy and the basket is small. You have to take the seat off to fold it up, although the newest version folds in on  piece. Other than that it’s not a bad little thing. It’s roomy enough for a toddler yet cosy for a tiny baby and the hood is huge. It’s lovely and light to push and very easy to steer. Although you have to take the seat of, it folds very compactly which makes life much easier when trying to stuff 4 kids, luggage and/or shopping and a buggy into the car.

Another minor drawback is that although the seat can face either way, it won’t go upright when in the parent facing position. Boy 4 was happy for a long time to be reclined, even when he could sit up unaided. I don’t have a huge problem with him facing forwards, I just prefer him to face me. It’s easier to talk to him and I often find when he is facing forwards that he tries to turn round.

I can’t do anything about the noisy wheels or the seat not folding, but the not being able to sit upright in the seat issue, well this sounds just like the kind of challenge I enjoy!

Here is how I made a buggy cushion for Quinny Zapp Xtra!

The first thing I did was buy a piece of foam. I considered just making a cushion with polyester filling or an old pillow, but I needed it to be firm so I decided foam would be best.

There are several places in internetland that sell bits of foam. Unfortunately prices don’t include VAT, so with postage as well it worked out more expensive than  I had hoped. I bought a wedge shaped piece 30cm x 40 cm x 10 cm then set about making a cover for itIMG_0825

IMG_0826I shaped the foam a little bit more with a knife and a pair of scissors and cut holes for the straps. Cutting the foam proved to be difficult. People recommend using an electric bread knife, but I do not have one of those (I would probably not have any fingers  left if I did!), so I had to make do with a normal knife.

Next I cut a piece of cotton about 50 cm x 100 cm. I draped it over the piece of foam before cutting to make sure I cut it to the right size. IMG_0828I wanted to jazz it up by adding a panel of different fabric vaguely where Boy 4’s head would go. I cut 2 pieces of fabric, for the front and the back, folded the raw edges of the 2 longer sides in and pressed them. Then I sewed it onto the main piece.IMG_0975

IMG_0977Matching the sides of the panel, I pinned the fabric to the foam and marked where the holes for the straps needed to go. IMG_0978Once I had cut these, I needed to make sure they would not fray. I made some bias binding but after several minutes of faffing around I decided it would not work. Binding buttonholes is something I need to learn how to do!

I opted instead to zigzag around the openings. My buttonholer does not do buttonholes that big, so I just chose a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine and set the stitch length to short.IMG_0982

Next I draped the fabric over the foam piece wrong side out and pinned the side seam so that the seam would be in the middle of the side of the cushion. This is important for making the corners!IMG_0983

I sewed the seam then squared off the corner by squashing the corner so that the seam was in the middle. IMG_0986I then sewed across the corner at right angles to the seam.

The now half finished cover went back onto the foam pad and I did the same to the other side.IMG_0987

So I now had a weird kind of bag thing with holes near near the top on both sides.IMG_0990

The last thing to was the bottom edge. If you are considering making this and your child is inclined to be sicky or eats a lot in his pushchair, you might prefer to put a zip in here or add a couple of buttons.

I just sewed it up! If it needs washing, I’ll probably just chuck the whole thing in the washing machine ;)

I put the cover on the piece of foam. With the top being chunkier than the bottom, it took some squeezing and squashing to get the cover on. I tucked the corners in so that it followed the shape of the foam a bit more. IMG_0993Then I folded the raw edges inwards, pinned and topstitched it closed.IMG_0996

IMG_0999Here is Boy 4 trying out his cushion He looks comfy, doesn’t he?IMG_1009IMG_1008IMG_1011IMG_1006

 

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Free Printable Monthly Blog Planner

Becoming more organised has changed my life. I am not kidding.

I used to be disorganised and this is still my natural inclination. Although a little bit of chaos makes me feel alive, I dislike the feeling of stuff spiralling out of control, forgetting things, losing things and never having enough time.

So I  have forced myself to become organised! Housework is divided up into certain jobs on certain days. Laundry is the same. I can’t do all of it on one day, there’s too much of it, so I wash specific things on different days of the week. By doing this I get through it all every week ( that’s the plan at least!) and I’ve found that it gives me more time to do other things.

Meal planning has also made a difference. I used to plan weekly or, sometimes, fortnightly, but I still found myself making the same stuff or scratching around trying to decide what to make, or making weird stuff because we didn’t have enough in to make anything normal. So I now have a monthly plan and I write out a shopping list at the beginning of the week. It’s saving so much faffing about it’s unreal.

So I’ve decided to take the same approach to blogging! I trawled the internet looking for pretty planning sheets. There are some unbelievably talented people out there! There are all kinds of beautiful things you can print out, with dozens of pages that you can put into a binder.

However, I did not want dozens of pages with stuff to write down affiliates (I dont actually know what that is!) and stuff to tick off every time I post an image on Pinterest or stick it on Twitter.

All I wanted was two A4 sheets (or 1 if I printed on both sides), with somewhere to write down themes and ideas, post ideas, and plan briefly for each week. Something I could fold in half and slip inside a notebook.

So I leapt, like a creaky, overweight hare, onto the band wagon! Here is my free printable monthly blog planner!

The first page has a box for writing in possible themes and other ideas for that particular month, then boxes for writing down ideas of possible posts, assuming that you want to write 2 posts a week. I’ve also added a little box for blog maintenance.

blogplan1

 

Page 2 has boxes for planning week by week, so post ideas can be taken from page 1 and transferred to specific weeks. The to do box for each week allows me to get ahead with actual tasks that need doing before a post can be written. So if I need to make something, or make a pinterest board, or take a load of extra photos, I can crack on with it and hopefully stay on top of things!

blogplan2

I also use a notebook for jotting stuff down but the planner provides a way of keeping it all organised.

If you would like a copy, you can download it here!

Free Printable Monthly Blog Planner

 

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10 Easy Autumn Crafts

Autumn is a great time for crafting! Dark evenings and colder weather alongside colourful leaves, acorns, conkers and pine cones make it the perfect time for making stuff tucked up at home before Christmas preparations start to take over.

Here are 10 easy autumn crafts you could do in an evening! One involves sewing, the rest do not. As long as there are trees near where you live, you will be able to make at least some of these things! The first three are ones I have made myself, the others I have rounded up from Pinterest.

1. Autumn Bunting

IMG_0752All you need are some scraps of fabric and some bias binding! Full instructions can be found here.

2. An Autumn WreathIMG_0751Another good project for using up scraps! Cut up strips of fabric and tie onto a wire ring. Full instructions here.

3. Fill Glass Jars and Vases with Pine Cones, Berries, Conkers…IMG_0858

I love stuff that’s free! I used a glass, a jam jar, a vase and a little glass dish, all of which I already had. While I was out and about, I gathered up conkers, acorns, pine cones and hawthorn berries. Do not be concerned, nature lovers, I left plenty for the birds! While having a rummage, I also found some pine cones from last Christmas, some dried orange slices and some cinnamon sticks. I chucked the stuff into the glass containers and voila!IMG_0814IMG_0811IMG_0815IMG_0816

Just as an aside, the vase with both orange and cinnamon smells like Coke!

4. Autumn Flowers in a Vase

Arrange autumn flowers in a vase. White or grey will show the colours off best.white vase with autumn flowers  http://www.decor4all.com/22-simple-fall-craft-ideas-diy-fall-decorations/17104/

If you don’t have a garden (or a garden but no autumn flowers in it!), supermarkets often sell bunches of flowers with an autumn theme.

Or you could collect leaves and berries and and arrange them in a vase.Fall Autumn: Crafty nature inspired decoration http://inspirationforhome.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/fall-autumn-crafty-nature-inspired.html

5. Autumn Flowers in a Pumpkinpumpkin with flower arrangement. Now i just need an easy way of scraping out the insides! http://www.decor4all.com/22-simple-fall-craft-ideas-diy-fall-decorations/17104/

The same as #4, just put your vase inside a pumpkin!

6. Leaves Dipped in Wax

Fall Decor Crafts-Easy Fall Leaf Art Projects http://www.familyholiday.net/fall-decor-crafts-easy-fall-leaf-art-projects

Gently melt beeswax in a Bain Marie/ double boiler/ bowl in a pan of hot water. Dip the leaves into the wax and hang them up. This prevents the leaves from curling up as they dry out.

7. Leaves in Framesframed leaves http://www.decor4all.com/22-simple-fall-craft-ideas-diy-fall-decorations/17104/

Preserve pretty leaves by displaying them in a frame. Use coloured paper behind them, calico or printed text.Fall Decor Crafts-Easy Fall Leaf Art Projects http://www.familyholiday.net/fall-decor-crafts-easy-fall-leaf-art-projects

If you have a lot of leaves and a lot of frames, you could make a whole wall of them! Fall Decor Crafts-Easy Fall Leaf Art Projectshttp://www.familyholiday.net/fall-decor-crafts-easy-fall-leaf-art-projects

8. Candles with Berries, Leaves and Acorns

Put berries, conkers, acorns and leaves either inside a jar with a candle or surround the jar with them. Just be careful that the leaves don’t catch fire! Candle with acorns and leaves round it http://www.familyholiday.net/fall-decor-crafts-easy-fall-leaf-art-projects

9. Decorate Jars with Leaves

Stick leaves to the outside of a jar. The instructions say to use Modge Podge but PVA glue would probably work just as well. Put a tea light inside and you have autumn candle holders!Autumn Lanterns, add some  twine around these

10. Paper Punched Leaves

Use paper punches to punch shapes from leaves. The shapes could be displayed in frames or used to make cards or collages. Craft Punched Leaves to create art for autumn

For more ideas for autumn crafts, I have a Pinterest board! http://uk.pinterest.com/arwilson7/autumn-crafts/

If you like to look at pictures of beautiful autumn trees, visit my other autumn themed board. http://uk.pinterest.com/arwilson7/autumn/

 

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Autumn Crafts For Children

Last Sunday afternoon Boy 1 had a birthday party to go to, so I took the opportunity to have some autumn crafty fun with the other boys. I nipped out to buy milk in the morning and on the way home I made a slight detour past a large sycamore tree to collect some leaves. After a lengthy chat with a friendly old man and a few minutes collecting, I had a bag of leaves and some sycamore seeds.

This is not an exhaustive list of crafty things you can do with leaves, but it was enough to keep my boys occupied on Sunday afternoon!

Leaf Printing in Play DoughIMG_0764

I put the leaves on the table with the sycamore seeds and some pine cones I collected last year, along with some play dough. (For a play dough recipe and lots of excellent ideas for play dough fun, visit The Imagination Tree.)

The boys pushed the leaves into the play dough so that an imprint of the leaf was left. IMG_0753 IMG_0755They also tried this with the sycamore seeds and the pine cones.IMG_0772IMG_0775 It kept them entertained for ages! Then they got the play dough tools out and Boy 4 tipped them out all over the floor. That kept Mummy busy for a while!

Leaf Rubbing

To make this a bit easier for the boys, I taped the leaf to the back of the paper so that it would move about less. IMG_0784It works best if the leaf is wrong side (ie bumpiest side) up. I had some crayons that didn’t have any paper on which was much easier than picking the paper off!IMG_0787

IMG_0792This was not as popular as the play dough thing. The play dough was still out and the boys chose to carry on playing with it. Boy 2 in particular was enjoying it so much he didn’t do a leaf rubbing at all!IMG_0795

On Fifth wizardry there ideas for creating a large artwork with children using leaf rubbings. There are also instructions for making crayon cakes to make things easier for little people.

If you have a laminator, the rubbings could be made into autumnal themed placemats.IMG_0793

Leaf People

To make these, we taped leaves to paper, stuck googly eyes and drew features on the leaf with a Sharpie. IMG_0798The boys were very excited about using these! Usually they are not allowed to as the ink is permanent, so bad news in the hands of little boys! However, I didn’t think ordinary pen would work on the leaves and thankfully Boy 4 was happy tipping play dough tools out everywhere at this point and was not interested in drawing on leaves, the sofa or anything else!

Once we’d given our leaves faces, we drew bodies.IMG_0804

IMG_0799IMG_0809The leaves started to curl a day or too afterwards, so I’d recommend using plenty of tape or pva glue.

What are your favourite autumn crafts for children?

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How to Make an Autumn Wreath

Hanging my autumn bunting up on the front of my house seems to have brought about a change in the weather. It is most definitely autumn now. Wet, cold and windy means warm socks, boots, coats and hot chocolate, not to mention looking at beautiful autumns, mostly in America, on Pinterest. Yay!

Autumn also means that my floral, summery wreath needs to go into storage upstairs to be replaced by an autumnal wreath.

I’ve seen lots of beautiful wreaths (I possibly spend too much time on Pinterest!), but I decided to make another ruffle rag wreath and to add pine cones and other natural autumnal stuff.

Here is How to Make an Autumn Wreath

After making the bunting, I had lots of little bits of fabric left over in beautiful autumn colours. I cut them into slightly shorter strips this time, about 10 cm long and 2 cm wide.

To make the ring, I cut a piece of garden wire long enough to bend into 3 circles 20 cm in diameter. I used electrical tape to hold it in four places.IMG_0738

I took one of my pile of strips and began tying them onto the wire ring at regular intervals.IMG_0739IMG_0740IMG_0741 Once I had tied them all on, I started with the second pile. I tied those on in the spaces. IMG_0742Then I started with the third pile, until I had used up all the strips and they were all close together with no spaces.
IMG_0743IMG_0744

Next I put 3 pine cones each onto a length of florists’ wire and tied some ribbon in a bow around each wire. IMG_0745Then I tied the wires together with some more ribbon.IMG_0746

Using the wire, I attached the pine cones and the ribbon to the bottom of the wreath.IMG_0749

Here is the finished wreath!IMG_0751

The shorter strips definitely worked better than longer ones.

I had planned to put lots of berries, pine cones and autumn leaves on the wreath, but I was very happy with how it looked without them!

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