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Sunday, 22 March 2015
Because until recently I've been a self taught sewist/sewer (never quite sure of the appropriate definition!) I have relied on books and magazines to help me along the way. I like to buy a few different magazines and see which suit my style and are beginner friendly. Straight away I loved the format of Love Sewing magazine and bought the first issue. I missed a few issues before I decided to subscribe and I really look forward to the monthly delivery of a great magazine and the free patterns and make ideas. One of the issues I missed during the brief pause in buying included a dress pattern for the Ruby dress. There are always pictures of reader makes of this dress and I was green with envy that I'd missed such a great pattern. Luckily for me, to celebrate the end of the Great British Sewing Bee series 3, the lovely people at Love Sewing have rereleased the pattern in paper format. I had to have it! I am waiting for it to land on my doorstep so that I can get started using the beautiful pick and turquoise flamingo fabric that I fell in love with at my local fabric shop. When I'm finished I will post the pictures!!
It looks like spring has well and truely sprung here in the south! Today was too good a day to sit in and do nothing so we all bundled into the car and took a drive to the seafront. Munch loves to swim so we took her to the swimming pool and let her loose on the wave machines and baby slides. As I don't swim I got to sit and watch while Munch and Daddy had a fantastic splashy time in a packed pool. A few years ago it looked like this pool might be closed forever due to storm damage to the building, but it's all been sorted now and open to the public once again. I'm so glad that Munch loves the water as I've never been confident in it myself and the last thing I wanted was for her to inherit my fear. She takes after her father and is like a little nemo! After they had both tired of the pool we decided to drive along the seafront and into town to spend her Christmas toy vouchers. Unfortunately there wasn't anything suitable so that will be saved for another day, but it was nice to be out and about even for a few hours enjoying the sun and being a family.
Thursday, 12 March 2015
I often read other people's blogs and Pinterest boards and have discovered that there is a common guilty pleasure amongst sewers which involves the buying of fabric! It seems I'm not the only person who will walk into said fabric shop and buy something just because I like it. Most of the time I haven't got the foggiest what I will do with it! This has resulted in a rapidly growing fabric stash which is getting a bit hard to store. I'm so envious of the lucky few who have whole rooms dedicated to their hobby. If I had that kind of space who knows how much fabric I could hoard! My favourite purchase so far has to be some lovely Hawaiian style cotton adorned with flamingoes. I couldn't leave this beauty in the shop without having some and now I think I'm going to have to go back for more as I've decided to make a lovely summer dress with it. It's only been within the last month that I've had my eyes opened to how many fabric shops I have within a few minutes drive from my house. Obviously I'm delighted by this and it shows how popular the hobby is once more. Hopefully these shops will continue to thrive. My favourite shop by far combines two of my favourite things, sewing and charity! About 20 mins drive from my house is a charity shop ran by local hospice charity The Rowans, it is dedicated purely to all the donated craft items that come into their charity shops. It's an emporium for everything crafty and I love it! Where else (apart from maybe the Internet) would I have found three metres of crimplene in perfect condition for under £10! I'm planning another trip there to look through their extensive pattern box, in hope to find that vintage jem and no doubt I'll leave with another bag full of goodies.
Wednesday, 11 March 2015
Last summer I bought Munch a Smart Trike from EBay. It was a bargain at £25 or so I thought until I picked it up. It was in working order but was extremely faded and showing years of toddler shaped abuse. Also the bucket on the back, for mum storage, was missing. I was a little disappointed but I reasoned if Munch didn't get much use out of it then at least it hadn't cost a fortune. Which as it turns out was a smart move! I thought that she would love it, being out of the confines of a pushchair, being able to see everything going on.......WRONG! Any passers by might be mistaken into thinking that a child was being murdered every time we tried to put her on that bike! We ended up leaving it in my mum and dad's garage and only getting it out when round there so she could have a look at it. I got a squeaky horn for the handlebars and even fashioned a front basket out of a plastic peg basket so that her favourite toy could ride with her. It didn't work. Eventually the weather got colder and it just got locked in the garage and pretty much forgotten about.
I met up with a friend of mine and her daughter for coffee a week ago and her 4 year old had brought her micro scooter with her. I noticed Munch's eyes light up at the scooter and was delighted when my friends daughter let her have a go. I couldn't believe my eyes as she got on it and scooted off across the precinct! Unfortunately this led to a massive tantrum after my friends daughter wanted her scooter back, but it got me thinking that maybe it was a good time to try the bike again.
Munch was going to spend Saturday with Nana and Grumps so I asked my dad to get the bike out of the garage and see what would happen. I got a phone call a few hours later to say that she had taken to it like a duck to water and was in and out of it like a yoyo. I was so excited that she finally liked the bike that I couldn't wait to take her out on it myself. So yesterday as it was a lovely sunny day, we got the bike out and I took her for a walk. There were no arguments, no screaming and even when she got out to walk for a bit, there was no complaining to get back in it to walk home. So all in all, patience has worked and I will thank my mum for persuading me to sell it after we had the first tantrum! This summer will be great fun walking with her and her bike. Roll on summer!!
Monday, 9 March 2015
I can't believe how quickly the days go by lately! It feels like winter has been and gone in a blink. So fast that not all of my winter attire got an outing! On Saturday I decided that it was time to tackle the dreaded winter mould spots in the bathroom and ended up having a proper spring clean. The sun was streaming in through the open windows - quickly followed by the not so warm wind - and it was nice to see some lovely sunny weather after all this grey. Everything seems nicer when it's sunny, like that feeling you get when you step off the plane in a hot country, everything feels so much more alive. As this change in the weather develops, it's going to me time to start thinking of summer type clothing and wondering what will work and what won't look good anymore. Whilst browsing my favourite go to site Pinterest, I stumbled across an excellent website called Refashionista which mixes thrift store shopping with sewing and what this lady can do with an ugly 80s throwback is astounding! It's really given me inspiration to see through the garment and look at the potential. I'll keep you posted on how this next charity shopping trip goes as it'll be like seeing stuff with brand new eyes.
Friday, 6 March 2015
I didn't realise that when you buy a dress pattern you should always look at the measurements and not the actual dress size! I had read online somewhere that when shopping for vintage patterns that you should always size up at least twice, but I didn't think this applied to modern patterns as well. When I started my dress making course I was aware that I would have to have a pattern that I wanted to make already decided before the course started so I chose a lovely vintage piece that I had bought from a fair months before. Whenim bought this pattern i had been quite naive and thought because it stated a size 14, I would be quite safe I the sizing. How wrong was I! It wasn't until mŷ correct measurements were taken, that i realised how much it would have to be adapted to fit my 'modern' lady shape. Every single element of this 1967 dress had to be tweeked and altered in order for it to fit. At the start of my course this seemed like a mammoth task, but as the weeks went on I realised that it wasn't as difficult as first expected. Every pattern piece has to be widened to suit my body shape and after this was done a mock up was made out of an old sheet that I has lying around. This test piece was invaluable, as it taught me to cut from a pattern, mark and them sew darts and also the realisation that not all dresses made fit first time! After adapting all of the pattern pieces, I cut them to the final material and am now in the process of putting it altogether. I have four weeks left of my course and I am determined to get the dress finished before it ends and them maybe I might be brave enough to take on my own projects, or maybe I might stay on for another term!
When I was growing up I only had one Nan on my Mother's side as all my other grandparents were dearly departed. My parents told me all about my other Grandparents, which I didn't fully appreciate until I was much older. My Grandad on my Mother's side was an electrician with the SEB and did a lot of work on pylons. My Mum always said he was a deeply caring man, who both her and my Uncle respected highly. He died in 1981 before I was born, hit by a drunk driver on the way to work. Listening to how raw this still is for my Mum over 30 years later made me vow as a driver that I would never commit this sin as soon as I passed my test. My Dad's parents had sadly both passed away long before I was born but I was told about them again from a young age. My Dad's Dad had been a photographer on Southsea seafront while my Dad had grown up and then my Dad remembers him bring a delivery driver to the Stanstead Estate in Hampshire. My paternal Grandmother had been a tailoress and it is this that I have followed. Whilst going through an old case of family photos, I came across what now would be called my Grandmother's portfolio of wedding dresses, which she had made during the 50s and 60s. As an avid follower of both these decades I was very interested at looking at this amazing work, completed lovingly by someone I was related to. My Dad told me that whilst clearing out the family home, a lot of photographs had been disposed of and as these didn't hold any family significance he wasn't that bothered about keeping them. I asked if I could take them and keep them as a reminder of the beautiful work that she had done. I look at those photos with awe, that such intricate and beautiful garments could have been created by someone whose genes I now carry. I have always had a talent when it comes to creating things through sewing and jokingly my Mum always used to say that i was channeling my Grandmother, but recently after taking up the sewing hobby again I realised that there might be some truth in what she had to say. I decided to enrol in a dressmaking course to further my self taught skills and without blowing my own trumpet I seem to be taking to it like a duck to water. If there was one skill in life that I hoped was family born, it would be my relatives creative talents. I am so proud to have such talented family members and even if I only inherited an ounce of what they did, it would be the greatest family legacy to pass onto my daughter.
I have decided to start this blog using a new host. I was getting a bit annoyed at the site crashing on me and losing hours of work before I got to press the publish button. Whilst perusing sites like Pinterest I noticed that a lot of the blogs I liked had the blogspot domain name and as a result I'm now relocating to here for a fresh start and many good blogs to come :-)
I had all the best intentions when I started this blog that it would be like a creative and observational journal (translated to stuff I make and stuff I moan about!) but as everyday life has taken over its kind of gone onto the back burner. I see other blogs when I'm perusing pinterest and get envious of the layouts and the success. Then I realise I didn't actually start writing to be the best or the most consistent, I started because I like it.
All posts before this one were transferred from my previous web host so the dates might be a bit off, but this is our new home, to carry on blogging!!
It's not even December yet but I'm well and truly in Christmas mode! This year Munch will be completely aware of what's going on and I'm embracing my inner child 100%! I decided that I would try and get basic decorations from cheaper shops and adapt them to my theme. I have been building on the shabby skandi style for a couple of years now and I'm a bit obsessed with Christmas decorations, so the collection is now quite substantial! Over the last few years we have moved around quite a bit so our Christmas trees have varied in size. This year space is a little tight, so out goes the six foot beast containing three sets of lights and in comes a slimline pencil tree and one string of vintage styled LED lights. I'm hoping this will last the season as Munch has a fixation with lights and climbing so it will be closely guarded! I love having presents under a tree, I think it finishes it off nicely and there is nothing better than giving each gift a prod and a poke to see if you can guess what the paper is hiding. Last year we were lacking in actual presents for the tree so I wrapped some empty boxes and tied them with elaborate bows to make them look as real as possible. I also added a few Christmas soft toys and some larger decorations to fill in the gaps. By the time I'd finished it looked like something out of Santa's workshop! I once read in a style magazine that you should push bigger baubles right into the branches and towards the trunk of the tree to give it depth and to draw the eye in, no chance of that this year but it's definitely true. I don't like tinsel on my tree, but I do use strings of beads and sometimes a garland, but mostly it has hanging ornaments both modern and vintage, which sit together perfectly. Another thing that makes Christmas for me is the food. When I was growing up my mum used to go overboard with the sweets, the nuts and the trimmings. There are certain foods that remind me of this time of year and now I have a house of my own I have carried on this tradition and continue to buy things like marzipan fruits, lemon & rose Turkish delight and fruit jellies. For the savoury lovers I like to have a bowl of mixed nuts, like hazelnuts, walnuts and brazil nuts with the traditional nut cracker and also a selection of 'posh' cheeses and cheese biscuits to enjoy of an evening with pickled onions. I'm not a huge fan of roast dinners, so Christmas dinner for me has never held any special fondness but our family boxing day traditions is my favourite meal of the season and it reminds me of sitting round my Nan's kitchen table as a child. We always have cold meats like turkey, gammon and boiled ham with mashed potato, pickles and chutney. It's served up like a giant all you can eat buffet and I will eat until I'm unable to move! In my family alcohol wasn't really a main feature at Christmas but we would always have bucks fizz on christmas morning, white wine with dinner (which I can't stand!) and there would always be babycham and ready mixed snowballs. Nothing provokes childhood memories like Christmas time and I'm fascinated listening to what makes Christmas special for different people. For me it's all about family and friends coming together to have a god time. I'm not religious so for me it's all about keeping up my family traditions and I will be teaching Munch exactly the same way my mum and dad taught me. Be grateful, always thank people and don't ever ask to watch the queens speech :-)
I had been dying my hair for so long that when I finally stopped just before Munch was born I didn't really know what colour my hair actually was! It has been every shade of red to purple to black to platinum blonde and lastly highlighted a golden honey colour. I didn't stop colouring my hair out of some kind of moral responsibility for my baby, I just couldn't afford to keep it up! This meant that by the time I became a mummy my roots were so long that I was sporting a rather fashionable ombré look. I stopped being adventurous with hair dye when I got a 'sensible' job and wasn't really able to go around sporting bright red or purple locks. Now I've left the constraints of the corporate world, I seem to have lost that sense of adventure and now as much as I hate my boring mousy hair, I can't decide what to do with it. I've spoken to hairdressers, friends and anyone else who will listen and nobody has been able to help me choose. I don't remember things being this difficult before, I would just stand in the shop, pick the box with the picture I liked the most and away I went. Although I was banned from doing it in my mums kitchen after a rather unfortunate accident with a chilli red dye which left my dad removing it from the wallpaper for a good few hours! Maybe it's because I'm now the wrong side of 25 that I don't feel I can get away with the more 'daring' shades (to be fair though I don't know why I worry as it doesn't seem to bother anyone else!) I know what you're thinking, grow a set and pick a colour, but as I'm now 'old' it's making my decision impossible!
**any suggestions welcome :-)**
Anyone who has read my other posts will know that I'm a keen charity shop shopper and as a result give regular donations to various charities. I believe that giving to charity is a personal thing and should be an individual choice. There are many reasons people choose one particular charity over another be it personal experience with the cause of the charity or just because they like the idea of helping that cause over others.
The reason for this post is because I encountered something the other day which really made me angry and as a result I feel the need to share it!
Whilst out shopping into local town centre I watched with horror as one of those street canvassers, for a very well known nationwide charity, was approaching people in a very abrupt and almost rude way. I'm not too keen on getting approached by these people in general and thankfully I was just an observer of this persons arrogant nature because I think I would have had a few choice words for him had he said anything to me! He was shouting comments at shoppers as they walked by, things about how they looked, asking their age and in general was very pushy at getting people to talk to him. If anything I think the fact he was hollering at people for their attention probably put them off more than attracting them! Not all canvassers are like this and I've never encountered one this bad before but surely these people are told how to act appropriately to the public in order to promote such a famous good cause?! I know it is minimum wage for a hard sell job and you definately need to be a special kind of person to do the job but it needs regulating.
In a nearby city centre you can't walk five yards without being approached and it makes this stretch of the shopping centre a gauntlet of avoidance every time you want to get to another shop. I won't lie there is a little part of me that celebrates victory if I manage to get from one end of the other without getting stopped!! I'm my opinion it's ok to raise awareness of these causes but it's not ok to ask for money or financial details on the street.
So the moral of this rant is, it's YOUR choice who you donate to, how much and how often, so don't be pushed into it by sometimes arrogant and pushy sales people. Charity is a personal thing and should leave you feeling warm and fuzzy when you part with your cash not feeling ripped off or obligated.
I've got two buggies that I use for Munch. The first is a lovely Britax one which we bought before she was born and the other is a Quinny which we were given and fits nicely in my stupidly small car boot! Each has it's own qualities but one standalone difference is the Quinny hasn't got a basket underneath. This may sound like a trivial moan but believe me (and any mum will back me up here) that tiny piece of netting attached to the underside is the most useful thing EVER! I didn't realise how much I relied on a basket until suddenly I didn't have one, so I got online to see where I could get one and how much it would cost. Now anyone who had a Quinny or is familiar with the shape of the Zapp will back me up when I say that this basket is small! (But still useful!) So I was most surprised to find that they can cost up to £25 and that's without p&p! I have trawled eBay and amazon in hope someone is selling a secondhand one with no luck. So it's got me thinking could I make my own? I have tried to find a diy pattern online but once again, no luck. So it looks like I'm going to have to make it up as I go along! Watch this space as I will post a tutorial if it works!
If anyone has had any experience with this please drop me a line as any help will be most welcomed!!
I hate being stopped by people in the street asking for donations to various charities. My answer is always "I have my designated charities I donate to, sorry." This may sound callous but at least once a week I'm scouring the local charity shops on the hunt for a vintage bargain and usually buy at least one piece which means on average I probably give more to charity regularly than most of the people these canvassers speak to. We should support our local charity shops be it buying or donating as this way we get to choose who our cash goes to and support great causes by also getting great items back. Ok so charity shop shopping is an aquired taste but if you are willing to put in the time going through the rails and the baskets, boxes etc, they can be a gold mine for vintage finds as well as leaving you with the good feeling that you helped someone in the process.
Munch likes a certain programme with a certain Spotty Bag associated with it so I decided I would have a go at making her one scaled down to fit her. I decided to use felt but it would be just as easy using cottons and such like materials. Using a picture of the original from the internet I set out to replicate this and I'm pretty proud of the outcome! Munch however didn't understand the significance of it until they said the magic words on the telly during which I produced the bag and now she loves it! Just goes to show you don't have to buy overpriced tv merchandise to keep the little ones happy!
I got asked to make some bunting for a friend recently and as I love a challenge I was very happy to accept. I've never made bunting before and realised that there are a number of ways it can be done. This is how I did it:
You will need:
Material for triangles ( I had 5 different patterns
4 metres of bias binding ( I had the 1cm when doubled over, I know this might not be the technical term but I'm a beginner! )
Iron on interfacing
Iron on hemming tape
First I made a template for the triangle using thick paper, measuring 5" across and from the middle of this measurement 8" long and joined the ends to create the triangle point. Using this template I cut 36 triangles. 6 from each of the 5 different materials. This creates both sides for each triangle
Cut 16 triangles of iron on interfacing and sandwich them between two pieces of fabric right sides out. Iron these in place and carefully peel of the side that hasn't stuck. Next cut two pieces of iron on hemming tape and iron the other piece of material in place.
Cut the edges of the triangles to remove any showing interfacing. The hemming tape will keep the edges from fraying. I used normal scissors but pinking shears will leave a good edge too.
I then laid the bias binding flat on the floor and pinned the triangles at even spaces along the length, leaving 2ft each end to allow tying. Then straight stitch from one end of the binding to the other and there you have your custom bunting!
I've said it before but I LOVE VINTAGE! So I've been buying vintage clothes till the cows come home and wearing them with pride as much I can, but I noticed a bit of an epic fail! A couple of the items I bought seem to be a bit see through in the skirt area! Not a good look and I don't want to replicate a princess Diana so I needed some drastic action. I had had a conversation with a girlfriend about see through dresses recently and she said that she was forced to buy her first ever 'slip' (petticoat for the posh ones!) she mentioned that she had paid a premium in a certain famous shop. So with this in mind I used all my memories of shopping with my mum and nan and duely went off to buy a slip. Surprisingly, I found exactly what I needed in my local town centre and it didn't look like 'nan wear' at all! More importantly it only cost a fiver so for all those girls out there who buy cheap see through dresses, get to the old dears shops and get yourself a petticoat because seeing your pants is just not pretty!!
I'm not one to complain about lovely weather but to be honest I'm starting to struggle now! We have had to fit ceiling fans as it's unbelievably hot indoors. I don't really like leaving windows open over night because of security and noise but we haven't had much choice! What I don't understand is when you are abroad it feels so different. I don't feel all sticky and horrid and I can eat for England!! Whereas at home my appetite and also Munch's seem to have disappeared. Getting liquid into the little lovely is proving challenging but I'm gonna persevere. At least she has developed a liking for salad...... Every cloud and all that.
We got given some lovely traditional leather reins for Munch and I was so excited as they looked great. Luckily for us she was accepting of wearing them, much to daddy's disgust as he thinks they look like a staffy harness! Over time we found that they rode up under her armpits and looked uncomfortable. I recently went to one of those country show type things and noticed a large amount of toddlers wearing backpacks which had a long parent strap attached. It gave me an idea which would save me some money in the long run and I like that!
I had bought Munch a Cath Kidston mini backpack at Christmas in the sales which would make the perfect base for my home made backpack reins. I looked at pictures of purpose made reins and noted the design of the harness and set to work.
You will need:
A child's backpack
Nylon strapping 2m
A clip fastener
The first thing I did was make the chest strap for the bag. I made mine so that later on they can be removed from the bag. I cut a 6" piece of strapping and attached the "female" side of the clip fastener using an inch turnover so that I could sew all the way round and then cross diagonally to make secure. At the opposite end I attached a snap fastener spaced enough to allow the bag strap to be threaded through. I then cut 10" of strapping and looped it through the adjustable end of the clip fastener. Make sure the end of the strapping is turned over and sewn to stop it passing back through the buckle. Next I attached the snaps as before and then fitted it to the opposite bag strap. This creates a cross body harness to keep the backpack in place. You could see the harness in place using double stitching also.
Next step is the parent handle. It's entirely up to you how long this is made but I found a metre worked for me. You need to remember that there will need to be a handle allowance in your measurements. First I looped one end of the strapping to create a handle, looking at mine is about 15" in total. I sewed it in place using a square pattern to strengthen the seam. At the opposite end I attached two sets of snap fasteners allowing for the backpack top loop to go through the strap. Once again you could see this in place rather than make it removable.
There you have it, a stylish one off set of backpack reins which enable baba to carry their own drinks and snacks!
**always use these with caution and check the stitching before you use it on your child for the first time**
This weather is amazing! I love it but it also means that I constantly want to be out in it! We decided yesterday that we would go for a lovely walk along the harbour of a nearby town and show Munch the ducks and the boats. It was a great afternoon and we managed to park for free for two hours and walked a good couple of miles. I really enjoyed exploring somewhere I'd never been before and my solar powered daughter loved being out and about especially as there were ducks involved! We test drove her new mama made backpack reins with success and the whole day only cost a couple of pound for cold drinks (and a few pound in charity shops!) which goes to show that you don't have to spend much to have a great summer day out.
I got this idea from Pinterest and there are some truely beautiful examples and great tutorials on there. I thought Munch would love a dolls house for her favourite Sarah and Duck toys so I gave it a whirl.
It's pretty straight forward just from looking at the pictures and with a bit of imagination the possibilities are endless! Think for my next one I might add some plush furniture!
I got asked to make a 'taggy' blanket by a friend of mine, you know the ones with all the different ribbon pieces sticking out the edges. I was so chuffed with myself when it was done as it's probably the best thing I've made so far!
Here's how I did it.
You will need:
Backing material ( it's up to you how big you want your finished blanket to be, mine was 21" x 21" with a seam allowance of half inch)
Wadding (I used a thicker wadding but you can make these less puffy)
Ribbon (I used as many different colours and textures as I could find)
Step One: Cut the backing, fleece and wadding all to the same size and cut your ribbon into 4" strips
Step Two: Take the backing material and with the pattern laying face up double your ribbon pieces over pattern out also and pin into place a regular intervals all round the outside edge.
Step Three: Take your fleece and place it right side down onto your backing material and place wadding on top of fleece. Pin all round leaving a 2" gap for turning through later. See this edge in between your ribbon pins and your hemming pins making sure that you do not trap any of the corner ribbons into the seam. Remove all pins and turn out.
Step Four: Once turned out repin the ribbon pieces that were left out from stitching in the gap and top stitch all the way round using a 1/3 seam allowance.
And there you are a beautiful and more importantly unique blanket that can be cherished forever!
I love a bit of nostalgia, always have done I suppose but my interest in vintage has taken on a life of its own recently! It started with a sewing machine from 1955 and has crept in to take over my wardrobe, my hallway and quite possibly the kitchen. Trawling through antique shops, carboot sales and of course good old eBay, it's totally changed the way I view modern shopping. Last weekend I went to a vintage fair in the town centre and after looking through racks of beautiful one off vintage pieces it was kind of depressing walking into the clothing shops seeing rail upon rail of cheaply made clothing. I've never had an item of clothing fit as well as a vintage piece and as a result I have started buying and wearing more. It's a marmite thing though, vintage. I was watching people at the fair and their faces showed either of the following thing:
1: Wow this stuff is great I love it!
2: I had/have this from the first time round (like my mum!)
3: Eurgh! Old stuff, someone probably died in it
It's great that the whole vintage thing is becoming more popular and these items are being preserved for future generations because modern day living and styling could certainly learn a thing or two from these golden eras!
This morning I had this epiphany that I should start a blog to use as a way of sharing my sewing and my random rants with anyone who'll listen! So here I am after a quick text to little brother asking which site to use. I'm currently trying to get my head around this app while my daughter Munch is spreading her toys around the entire living room. Im a little excited about this blogging project and I hope that you enjoy reading it too!