Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ooh my god, it's, like...so RANDOM!!!!!

OK, this post has taken quite a bit of effort. I was tagged by Maggie from The Bird Bath and Kara from Fabric Fantastic to do the 7 Random Things meme. Here are the rules:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

And here my seven random things:

1. I have the same breakfast every morning. Peanut butter and jam on wholemeal toast, with a cup of early grey tea. For me, breakfast just doesn't get better than that. The only exception to this is Saturday mornings, when we have breakky at the markets, and then it's a pain au chocolat - otherwise known as a chocolate croissant - and a half-strength coffee. That's me lettin' loose!!

2. Sometimes I feel a little sad that I will never again have multi-coloured hair. At least, not until I am really old and can justify those funky blue and pink rinses. When I was younger I used to have VERY short hair and it would often be blue, pink, purple, spearmint....not so much bright vibrant colours, but soft pale colours reminiscent of sherbet. But now I'm a mum, and I'm 35, and I'm not going to be that sad person holding desperately onto their youth. So no more freaky spiky hair or weird colours for me....

3. I love rain. But I HATE being cold. This is why I love Brisbane so much - it rains without getting cold (yeah I know, hot, muggy etc...but I LOVE it!)

4. I feel uncomfortable on all forms of transport...except trains. I'm not phobic or anything - I drive a car every day, I travel by plane every year, and I've caught many buses, boats and taxis in my time. But I never enjoy the ride. I'm always very happy to get to where I'm going and get out. Trains however are a different story. I love being on them, I love the clickety clackety noise and gentle rocking motion, and I always feel like I'm off to somewhere very exciting when I'm on a train. I wonder if this is where Lee gets his train obsession from...hhhmmmmm....

5. I'm quite small...and I've always been tiny (except when I was pregnant, and those two times were the only brief change in size for me in 20 years. When my husband and I were first together and living in Melbourne, we rented a flat in Elsternwick with no heating, and it was so cold, that my mother-in-law gave me Matt's old snow overalls (very blue and very shiny) that he owned when he was a 12 year old boy. They fit me perfectly, and I wore them in that flat over my clothes all the time. It was a great look!

6. My name is Rebecca, but people always forget and call me 'Rachel'...I mean ALL the time. I must look more like a Rachel than a Rebecca...

7. My childhood self would be appalled to come across my present-day self and discover she was a stay-at-home mum/housewife. Until I had kids, I was very, very undomesticated (luckily my husband was the opposite!). Even when I took maternity leave from my job, I never imagined I wouldn't go back. Funnily enough, my husband never imagined he would work in an office and be the breadwinner - but life kinda led him into a job he loved, with good $$$, and I realised I was really happy doing the domestic thing. It's weird, as we are actually a very non-traditional couple doing quite traditional roles at the moment. Sometimes it cracks us up (especially when Matt comes home and sees me wearing an apron. He still cacks himself over that).

So now I need to tag seven other bloggers to see if they want to play, so I'm tagging the following blogs:
Betty Ninja
Flossie Teacakes
Great Stories
Area Thrifty One

By the way, I just couldn't do a post without a photo (how boring) so the above one is a bag packaged up and ready to be sent off (the Dame Washalot bag found a new home last week). I'm currently experimenting with interesting forms of packaging. I think I quite like this one. What do you think?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

This is...me taking a photo of myself in the mirror with my favourite accessory

(From Left to right, clockwise - Knit Wit bangle by Liana Kabel (birthday present from my husband), hand painted blackbird brooch by In My Backyard, glass bead necklace found in an Op Shop (another 20 cent bargain - I feel very glamourous when I wear this), and a silver ring made by a friend).

OK, so clearly this series of pics above is NOT me taking a photos of myself in the mirror. This is because when I read about this week's 'this is' theme, I somehow missed the whole 'me in the mirror' bit. So I assumed I just had to take pics of me wearing the accessories. I was even so proud of myself that I had narrowed it down to only four.

I only realised my error after I noticed a few other bloggers taking photos of themselves taking photos...and the penny dropped. Unfortunately I didn't realise this until the end of the day, hence the disheveled look (which is usually how I look by the end of the day, and the reason I tried to cover half my head with the camera) and the bad lighting. Ah well, such is life!

So my number 1 favourite accessory has to go hands down to the ring. Firstly, I just love it because it was made in friendship by a lovely person I went to Uni with. And it was one of those 'just because' gifts. It wasn't Christmas, or my birthday or anything, she just made the ring and sent it to me after she had moved away from Melbourne. It is funny because a lot of people comment on it, and once I was at an art gallery, where her works were showing (her name is Alisa Dewhurst, in case you ever come across her exhibitions) and the curator complimented me on the ring, and I felt very chuffed to be able to tell her it was made by one of the people she was currently exhibiting. Anyway, Alisa gave this to me about 12 years ago now, and I have worn it almost every day since then. The picture in the ring is actually a man's head and shoulders, and I believe the image was taken from a 1940s ad for a suit. I just love it. It is heavy and tactile and always reminds me of friendships that span distance. What better reason to love an object!

Thanks to One Red Robin for another great 'this is' theme!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Another 'Built by Wendy' mash-up!

After wearing the last linen dress I made to death, I decided I should whip up another one. This is probably the cheapest dress ever, as I found this watermelon-coloured fabric in an Op Shop and it was 20 cents. Yep - TWENTY CENTS!!!!!! Can you believe that! Actually I did pay more for it than that, because I would have just felt SO cheap, and it was worth so much more than that. It was a huge fabric remnant (I still have enough to make either a small dress for Kate, or maybe a bag). And the fabric itself is quite gorgeous. It looks like a heavy linen, but doesn't crinkle anywhere near as much as 100% linen. A friend who knows a lot about fabrics said she thinks it may be a linen/rayon blend. Anyway, it just feels kind of old-fashioned and lovely. And of course, I had to add some buttons to it...just because...

I basically did the same mash-up of the Built by Wendy Simplicity pattern #3835 that I did last time, with the exception that I cut out the back piece of the dress as one whole piece, rather than two pieces with a seam up the back. Which just made it even quicker and easier to whip up.

Next time, I am going to find some heavy winter-weight fabric, and try actually making the dress according to the pattern, with the yoke, zip and longer sleeves. I think it will make a very nice winter dress. But while summer's still here...well..this design is just hard to pass up. OK, off now to post the pic in the Built by Us Flickr group, and also check out how all the other Built By Wendy projects are turning out (a lot of other people seem to alter and embellish their patterns, so it's great for inspiration). Yee har!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

This is...what makes me laugh out loud!!!

So this week's most excellent 'This is' theme, as chosen by Pollalina is '...what makes me laugh out loud'. I am really looking forward to checking out all the blogs of people who are playing this week.

My husband thinks this theme is right up my alley, as I love a bit of laughing out loud. In fact, it was really hard to narrow it down as there are just so many things that make me laugh. So I've decided to go with things that have made me laugh very recently.

Firstly, Flight of the Conchords - I am currently watching the DVD of these guys and it is just cracking me up. This clip in particular makes me cack myself every time I watch it...

Secondly, The Mighty Boosh. What can I say - I have watched both seasons of this and can barely wait for the third season to be written (apparently it's in the pipeline). I love the 'out there' fantasy element of The Mighty Boosh (see the photo at the top of this post), complete with songs, animations, and the most bizarre characters and locations. Anyway, here's a little clip of one of their intros...

And lastly, I'm pretty sure this is a really old photo that has been doing the email rounds, but it cracks me up every time I see it. I guess because I could imagine my kids doing this. And just check out how happy they look. Hehehehe - a classic kid moment. Love it!

Looking forward to having a week of chuckles. Cheers!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Saucepan Man bag is here!

After I last mentioned my bag names theme, there was one popular request (well, joke really...) for a Saucepan Man bag. And how can I resist something as funny as this! So now, I am happy to present, the Saucepan Man shoulder bag (now for sale on Etsy)!

OK, so I admit there is nothing real 'saucepan-ish' about this bag...but in the spirit of amusement I'm going to draw a really long bow and try for the following similarities:

* Bag pattern is covered in circular flowers - Saucepan Man is covered in circular-shaped pots...
* Man covered in saucepans attracts a lot of attention - person carrying this bag is also destined to attract a lot of attention (groan!!...I'm sorry, I'm really struggling here)
* Saucepan Man was a bit deaf - if you stick this bag on your head then you will probably be a bit deaf too...(scraping the bottom of the barrel now..)
* Saucepan Man was very nice - this bag is...well...very nice.

OK I'm stopping now before you all turn off your computers in disgust! Truth be told, after all the joking about what the next bag name might be, how could I resist going with a Saucepan Man bag? I just hope the name doesn't actually put any real potential buyers off...I mean, really, it's a NAME....of a BAG....does it really matter? Hehehe (nervous laughter)...anyway, I hope it doesn't!

After all this waffle, here's the boring details:

This bag is made from a combination of a new Japanese cotton canvas from Kokka Fabrics, recycled corduroy, and some vintage cotton remnant. A big brown vintage button (an original one from my Grandma's button tin) is used on the front closure.

And a small brown vintage button (one of my recent Op Shop finds) adds detail to the strap.

The internal interfacing is a combination of fusible interfacing (used on the cuff of the bag), as well as recycled flannelette (used in the body), which gives strength and structure while retaining the softness and ‘fall’ of the bag’s fabric (this was one of the best tips I ever got from Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing book - I really love interfacing with flannelette - makes the bag feel really lush and full, without being stiff!).

There is an internal pocket big enough to hold a mobile and keys, or your wallet, as well as a narrow pocket that will hold a pen snugly. All seams have been double-stitched at stress points.

Measurements (approx):
- 9.5" (24 cm) wide at opening
- 12.5" (31.5 cm) wide at bottom
- 10" (25.5 cm) high
- 36.5" (93 cm) handle length (from end to end)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Love potion number 10 (otherwise known as Lemon Meringue Pie recipe)

For all those who asked for the recipe for the yummy Mini Lemon Meringue Pies my mum made for our lunch last Sunday, here it is...

And for those who are looking to woo someone on valentines day, I would highly recommend baking some of these and giving them instead of roses. They are guaranteed to make anyone who eats them fall in love with you !!!!!!!

Sorry, just realised this sounds a little wrong after mentioning that my mum made them....but just pretend you didn't know that. They really are THAT good!!!


4 egg yolks
3/4 cup caster sugar
100ml lemon joice
80g butter
zest of 1 lemon
1 vanilla pod

Add the egg yolks, caster sugar and lemon zest to a bowl and start to beat. Scrape the vanilla pod into the mix, and keep beating until light and fluffy.
Put into saucepan with the lemon zest and butter and stir over medium heat until it coats the back of the spoon (this is usually when it is just starting to boil).
Allow to cool.


4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
pinch of salt
2tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla essence

Beat the egg whites with the salt until they stiffen and start to form peaks.
Slowly add the caster sugar and beat until it is all dissolved. The meringue mixture will become smooth and thick.
Fold in the cornflour and vanilla essence.

Note: this makes a lot of meringue (more than you'll need for the tarts) but it's worth making the whole batch as you have all the whites left over from the lemon curd anyway, so you can just make a mini pavalova out of it or something (my son loves 'wiggly worms' - just swirl the mixture into a wormy looking log, then add two smarties for eyes on the end!).



You can use either pre-made pastry shells bought from the supermarket, or use store-bought (or homemade) shortcrust pastry, added to a tartlet tray/tin thingy (like muffin tins but shallow and rounded) and baked until brown and crisp. If baking the shells, don't forget to prick them a lot to stop them from puffing up.



Add a spoonful of lemon curd to the pie shells, then top with a big dollop of meringue mixture.
Bake in a moderate oven (about 180 degrees celsius) until the meringue is browned.

Put on a saucy apron and serve to those you fancy!

(or if you're me, scoff as many as you can before your husband comes home so you don't have to share them!)


Sunday, February 10, 2008

This is...Sunday lunch!

This week's This is... theme is Sunday Lunch. So this is 'kind of' what we usually have for Sunday lunch. And I'm probably really stretching the definition of 'kind of' here...

Usually Sundays consist of Matt and Kym going mountain-biking in the morning, while Jade and I bake something yummy to have as snacks for the coming week, while watching the kids. The boys then pick up a few meat pies from the local bakery on the way back from their ride, and that's lunch! But.....well, I am just a bit too proud to stick a photo of a takeaway meat pie as my Sunday lunch, and yet I'm not good at out and out lying...so.....

I made homemade pies for lunch! Yep, I figured, why not have the extended family over for a 'typical', and yet 'not so typical' Sunday lunch. It was actually a really lovely day. I made chicken and mushroom pies, and made the mixture the night before (yeah, party animal that I am - this is what I did on my Saturday night!!!). I didn't really follow a recipe as such, but this is how I made them. I think half the reason they were so nice was because we bought all the ingredients fresh from the Rocklea markets on Saturday morning, and you just can't beat good quality fresh produce.


Chicken Pie Mixture

1.1kg free range organic chicken thighs
700g button mushrooms
6 leeks
1/2 bunch of flat leaf parsley
3 tbsp cornflour
1 massels chicken stock cube
A sprinkling of dried thyme
White pepper

Cut chicken thighs into 2cm cubes and brown in a large pot.

Chop the leeks and saute them with the chicken until soft, then stir through the button mushrooms (I left the small ones whole and the bigger ones I chopped in half).

Just cover with boiling water, add stock cube and thyme, and simmer for about 1.5 - 2 hrs (until chicken is REALLY tender).

Mix cornflour with water and add to simmering mixture to thicken. Chop parsley and stir through. Season with pepper and salt. Allow to cool.


Next morning, Lee and I cut out some shortcrust pastry to line the individual pie tins, added the mixture, put a puff pastry lid on top, then stuck a pastry shape onto this (this was Lee's forte, and everyone had a different cut-out on their pie - mine was an 'M' for Mum, and Matt's was the truck). We then brushed the tops with an egg and milk mixture, and baked on a pretty high oven (about 200 degrees celsius). Boy were they YUM!!! Matt made a lovely fresh salad to go with them, just to lighten the meal up a bit. Perfect!

So that was one of the triumphs of the afternoon! One of the not so triumphant aspects was Brown Betty, which was a recipe from Net's 120 Ways of Using Bread recipe book . I'm so sorry Net. I have no idea how I stuffed this one up. I really wanted to like it. But, although it looked quite good...

It just tasted like a big bowl of yuck.

Could it have been because I made my own breadcrumbs using wholemeal spelt sourdough bread?

My poor aunty insisted it couldn't be that bad, but when she tried it the smile froze on her face and she gave my husband 'that look', before discreetly spitting it into the bin....oh well...you win some you lose some... On the plus side, Lee and I had great fun using our new apple peeler/corer/slicer thingy that we had been given for Christmas. This was the first time we'd used it, and it was heaps of fun making apple slinkies!

Luckily, my mum (as always) came through with the goods. I hadn't asked her to bring anything, but Mum being Mum, of course she turned up with something...and boy were these something...

Mini lemon meringue pies - oooh la la! Now these were every bit as good as they looked, and went perfect with an after-lunch cuppa. Very civilised really. And so now I don't feel so embarrassed about showing you this Sunday's lunch. It wasn't perfect. But it was pretty damn close! Many thank to The Lark for inspiring us to have such a lovely day :)

PS. If anyone would like the lemon meringue pie recipe just let me know and I'll ask mum for it and post it here. Cheers!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Some hearts for Mirabel

Well I finally got around to making and posting off my hearts to Meet Me at Mikes for their Mirabel Foundation fundraiser. I know most people are making softie type hanging hearts (One Red Robin has a really cute tutorial here), but I haven't made many softies, and was a bit worried I might make something that was 'not quite up to scratch' you know, so I went with these.

I made something similar for Christmas, and liked it so much we still have it hanging in the kitchen, so I thought I would make a valentine-themed mobile in the same vein. I think they would look nice hanging at the edge of a kitchen window. They catch the breeze and swirl so nicely - and who can resist a tinkling bell! I hope they will make someone else's heart dance and twirl!

You can check out what other people have made for this appeal at the I heart Mirabel Flickr group. All the hearts will be displayed in the window of the Meet me at Mikes store - and then will be sold on Saturday 8th March for $10 each! All funds go to the Mirabel Foundation.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The perfect dress for summer

Hooray! I think I've created the perfect summer dress (for me anyway). I've now worn it two days in a row, and I'm actually sad that I have to take it off to wash it (one of my darling children smeared chocolate all over me yesterday while we were making brownies. Ah well, that'll teach me for forgetting to put my apron on ;)

Anyway, this was the most simple thing to make ever (even easier than the last top I made which I thought was pretty easy! I made it using 100% linen, which was a bit trickier to sew than plain cotton (actually it was probably the cutting out that I found really hard - it moved a LOT!), but it feels so nice on. Very loose, light and airy.

I actually merged two of the patterns from the Built by Wendy Simplicity pattern #3835 by using the pattern for the simple top as the top part of the dress, and the long dress pattern for the body of the dress (this meant I could ditch the yoke, and the zip, which took out all the tricky parts!!). I really love the pockets - you just can't beat pockets on a dress. For anyone venturing into 'Built by Wendy' territory, I highly recommend visiting the Built by Us Flickr group where people post all their Built By Wendy projects. Very inspiring!

I can see many more of these little numbers to come!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

This is...my collection!

So in my last post I mentioned there may be a little more to come on buttons...so brace yourself! This week's 'This is...' theme is 'My Collection', so this is where I display my (possibly unhealthy) obsessions. And of course, was it ever going to be anything other than buttons?

I'm sure my meagre collection is nothing compared to many more seasoned crafters, but I love it all the same, and it seems to be growing very rapidly. And I must say, it is not really a new obsession. As a child, I loved nothing better than sitting up at the table with my Grandma's button tin and sorting them by size, then by colour, then by pattern. Because of these happy memories, I love everything about buttons. I love the way it feels to scoop your hand through a big pile of them, the chinking sound they make against each other, and the different tactile intricicies of the patterns on individual buttons...ok, so enough about buttons already. I love 'em. You get it. Moving on now...

These are only a very small portion of my very old classic novels/poems collection (it was too dark downstairs to photograph them there, and they were too heavy and cumbersome to cart all of them upstairs into the light). When I was at Uni I would scour the Op Shops in Melbourne (Caulfield South always had the best ones, in my opinion) for old classics (I was studying literature as part of a BA at the time, so very into poetry and wearing black!!!). Again, my love for these books goes deeper than just thinking they are kinda cool. I love the musty smell of old books, the heavy feel of thick yellowed paper (and some of these books have gold edging on each page!!!!) the warm soft feel of the binding. And that's not even starting on the jewels found inside these books - which is one thing in particular I love about books in general. It doesn't matter how old and tattered a book is, the story itself is as gleaming and new as the day it was written. I love that!!!!! And does my love of collecting books end there?....oh no folks, it doesn't....

So I guess everyone kinda knows about my obsession with Enid Blyton books by now. Again this is just a small selection of my actual collection. At various times in my life I wanted to be: a fairy, a child who found fairies, the naughtiest girl in the school, and George (from famous five). Of course, I also wanted to own a magic wishing chair and find a magic faraway tree....actually I still want that....

So there you go. This is not actually the sum total of my collections....I could have added vintage crockery, science fiction books (in fact, I could have just gone with a general book collection, as our bookshelves are heaving with the entire works of many authors from Tom Robbins to Isaac Asimov - Matt is also a bit of a book collector). But I think this selection probably says the most about me. And as for the beginnings of new collections/obsessions...well let's just say I'm developing an unhealthy interest in aprons, brooches and soft toys....and leave it at that.

Oh, and while we're on the topic of aprons (hello segue!!) I have put an apron into the Tie One On challenge (run by Amy from Angry Chicken), and the Flickr Gallery is now up. I feel like a bit of a newbie having my apron posted next to so many fine sewers (such as Meg from Montessori By Hand - her apron is so gorgeous I just had to go and order the pattern!). But I have decided that this year is the year of the LEAP for me. Which means just jumping in the deep end and having a go. So that's what I've done. Anyway, here is the apron I submitted (the theme was 'Polka Dots').

I strongly suggest checking out the Tie One On gallery to see everyone else's submissions. There are some real works of art there. But be careful....like me, you may find yourself tempted to start a new collection....

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Sock it to me!

This fantastic present (Sock and Glove by Miyako Kanamori) arrived in the mail this week - a birthday present from a lovely friend in Melbourne. So of course I ended up at Op Shops this week on a sock buying spree! So far I have only made one little character.

Lee has named her 'Elsie'. I think she will need some new friends soon. So many to choose from...

I am dying to find a pink glove so I can make the pig....but in the meantime, maybe a patch-eyed dog!

I have also finally gotten around to making something to add to my Etsy Shop (after setting it all up I suddenly lost interest in making bags for a while, and became all obsessed with making clothes, clothes and more clothes).

Anyway, this one is called the Dame Washalot shoulder bag (has anyone guessed the theme to my bag names yet? So far, no-one has said anything, so maybe it's just me who gets it, and everyone else just thinks I'm plain weird...).

I have also finally made myself a new bag, cause hey, what's the point of being a bag-maker unless you can make yourself a new one to play with every once in a while!

Admittedly, this bag was originally going into the shop....but how could I part with these gorgeous buttons...(yes I know, the button fixation again....get ready, as I think there may be more to come on this topic...ahem...stayed tuned - or don't, if you're really sick of me and my buttons :))