Sunday, May 25, 2008

This is...something I got, but still haven't used

This week's This is... theme, brought to you by the lovely Flossy-P, is something I got but still haven't used.

Well, I bought these colourful little ceramic pots at least six months ago, with visions of baking little individual puddings in them. I am a complete sucker for bright multi-coloured crockery, and I LOVE individual 'anythings' (think individual pies, tarts, you name it, I probably love it). So of course I couldn't resist them.

And yet here they are. Pristine, and as yet unused. I almost used them tonight, as I had thought of doing little self-saucing chocolate puddings in them for dessert (we are doing a big Sunday roast lamb dinner for the extended family). But my sister offered to make an apple and rhubarb crumble...and who in their right mind says no to that!!!

So in the cupboard they stay, for yet another day...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bagged, Tagged, and Payin' it Forward

I love a good catch-up post, so here it is. Firstly, a couple bags I have finished recently.

One for a lady in my mother's group. Made with a lovely sturdy japanese cotton canvas from Kokka fabrics, as well as some vintage brushed wool fabric, and an upholstery sample. My poor machine jumped and groaned and spat lots of needles at me while making this one. I'm now on the lookout for a good walking foot industrial sewing machine...

And another one for the shop.

This one was a bit of a freestyle jobby, as I just made the pattern up as I went along. It took a pretty long time to put together, but I really enjoyed it, and am quite happy with the outcome. It reminds me a bit of a school uniform, hence the Malory Towers name (gotta love the depth and breadth of references you can get from Enid Blyton books, he he). This bag is actually made from 100% recycled and reclaimed fabrics. Vintage brushed wool on the outside, upholstery samples used on the strap and cuff (more jumping and needle spitting from my machine) and a really soft and lovely vintage flannelette pillowcase on the inside lining. Even the interfacing is recycled flannelette. Basically only the thread and magnetic snap are new, so I was pretty happy with that (yes I know, I should have had this bag finished before last week's recycling show and tell...oh well).

Now onto the tag. Dee from Words has tagged me so here goes. Don't worry, I'll keep it short and sweet!

a) What was I doing 10 years ago?

I'd just returned to Melbourne after living in Darwin for two years and got some casual work at Centrelink as a customer service officer. After working as a youth worker previously it seemed like luxury to have an office job where I could drink tea as I worked!

b) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today:

1. Go to my homeopath appointment
2. Upload a bag to Etsy
3. Go to the local Farmer's Market
4. Ring my aunty & my sister to organise tomorrow's outing
5. Do this blog update

c) Snacks I enjoy:

Green and Blacks organic milk chocolate, Jatz crackers with hommus, french toast with tomato sauce, toast with peanut butter and honey, pumpkin scones, homemade shortbread, crepes with lemon and sugar...oooh boy, the list could go on...

d) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Buy a huge acreage and build heaps of houses on it for all the extended family members. We would have an extended family commune, so to speak, and the family that don't want to live there can have holiday houses there. Matt and I have often discussed this and this would be our ideal set up. I know it sounds weird, but our family just really gets along, and we all really dig each other's company.

e) Places I have lived:

Nyah (WAY outback country Victoria), Melbourne, Darwin, Brisbane

So there ya go, lots of useless information about me. And this lovely sunset is what we saw out our front balcony a few nights ago. Isn't it lovely? Now onto the last thing.

I recently joined a Pay-It-Forward that Big Cat's Emporium was passing along. And now I'm looking for two more people to join in the fun. The way it works is that you sign up and some time in the next 365 days I will send you a surprise in the mail. In return you agree that you will pay the kindness forward to at least one other person (you can do more if you want to) in the 365 days after you join in. It's a fun idea, and sure to put lots of good crafty karma out there. So if you want to be one of the two people to receive some goodies from me, leave a comment and let me know.

**EDITED TO ADD, I NOW HAVE THREE PAY IT FORWARD TAKERS - THANK-YOU TO Curly Pops, Button Beauty and Ingrid's Sewing and Craft!!**

Friday, May 23, 2008

Gone fishin'....

This is what Lee and I did during Kate's nap today.

We made some water, some fish, an octopus and some starfish. We then put paperclips on everything and went fishing...with cranes, as you do. I didn't have any spare little magnets around to make fishing rods out of, so I figured Lee's two Cranky Cranes would like to do a spot of fishing.

Apparently they both enjoyed it!

I feel so behind on blogging. I've got bags, poems, tags, knitting, pay it forwards, and probably other things I'll remember later, all of which are yet to be blogged. Just feeling a bit swamped at the moment. But I'll get to it all. I will. Really...

Monday, May 19, 2008

This way of recycling

Thanks to Angela's mum for this week's this is... theme.

We recycle a lot. I could show you some very unattractive boxes of paper, plastic and glass waiting to be taken out to the recycle bin. I could show you a ridiculously messy bookcase full of things saved for kid craft (think paper scraps, cotton reels, cardboard tubes and fabric scraps). I could even show you the lovely black hose we plug into the washing machine to drain the water onto the garden, although this has currently been chewed by the dog and brittled (is that a word??) by the sun, and is in dire need of replacement.

But you know, sometimes recycling can be a bit ugly. And I do try to keep this blog space...well...un-ugly (surely this one is a word?...).

So here is my pretty, sanitised, 'tv-world' version of my recycling.

First, my latest recycling project - bookmarks made from vintage sheets, pillowcases and buttons. Having lots of fun making these. Lovely and tactile to touch, and the button stops them slipping down into the book (a pet hate of mine, and one which sometimes leads me to 'dog-earing' (ok, I'm sure this one must be a word...right?) my books - which in turn is a pet hate of my husband's.

Like most crafters/sewers, I guess I do a lot of fabric recycling. All the bags I make are at least 33% recycled. Some are even 100% recycled if you include fabric scraps and remnants found in Op Shops, and exclude new sewing thread. Of course, when I first started making bags, I pretty much only used recycled fabrics. Here are some of the earliest bags I made, mostly from things which were once other things...:

1. I used to be a tablecloth, 2. I used to be a cushion cover, 3. I was a pilowcase and unwanted fabric scraps, 4. I was once an ugly dress, 5. I used to be an ironing board cover, 6. I used to be a tablecloth, 7. I used to be a pillowcase, 8. I used to be Grandma's tablecloth

For a little tour of recycled things I have blogged about previously, check out:

Mixy-Matchy napkins from bed sheets, pillowcases, and vintage fabric scraps
Hippy pants made from a bed sheet
Girly smock made from a bed sheet
Apron made from a bed sheet
Christmas wreath made from fabric scraps

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday's Verse

.....By Francis William Bourdillon, 1852-1921

The night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is done.

I love this poem. Haven't we all thought of a million reasons to not do something, only to have our heart tell us the opposite? And which do we listen to? After reading this many many years ago, I always make sure I tell my head to shut up....

This is...Mother's Day

This is...what we did for Mother's Day. We had a lovely big family day with the extended family, which included five mothers and one mother-to-be, a nearly four-year-old, two nearly two-year-olds, a six week old, and two works-in-progress!!

It was lovely. We found a quiet park,

and had it all to ourselves!

We drank sparkly wine. We feasted on homemade finger food including egg and bacon pies, roast vegetable sandwhiches, crumbed chicken,

scotch eggs mmmmmmm,

mini banana loaves, oaty chocolate and almond cookies, and...

the best chocolate caramel slice I've eaten in years (thanks Jade).

We also filled the afternoon in with frisbees, football,

boule (...ahem...I do believe Dad and I were the champions!!)

and knitting. Could there be a better way to spend a Mother's Day? I think not.

And whose idea was this fantastic day?

My mums! As usual Mum, you always come through with the goods. Thanks for being such an inspiration to me.


I'll leave you with the Mother's Day cards my kids made for my Mum and my Aunty (who is really like a third Grandma to them). They are all pictures made from a fantastic book called Hand Art (KLUTZ - Chicken Socks) where each page shows the child how to hold their hand (shadow puppet style) so that you can draw around it, and then you turn it into an animal. It is perfect for Lee's age group. He works out how to hold his hand, then I draw around it and put in the details, then he colours it in as per the picture, and glues on the eyes etc. This book has kept us all so well occupied over the last week, and our house is filled with creatures from Aliens and Elephants to Peacocks and Frogs. My lovely mum also bought Lee the Superhero Starter Kit in this series yesterday, and it is also really great. Not a big price tag either which is nice. Whew, that turned into a mini-book review for kids didn't it! Oh well, it's a mother's prerogative to waffle on isn't it??????

Kate's Art



Lee's Art



Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Gifts, Gifts, Gifts!!!!!

Happy mail day today! First parcel from the postman included these gorgeous Babushka softies from Adds (The Humming Cat) which were part of the EB Softie swap. Thanks so much Adds, they are really gorgeous and so well made. Kate already has one sleeping in her doll's cot.

The second parcel was from the very lovely Florence (Flossie Teacakes), as I was one of the lucky winners of her dishcloth giveaway, and it included a pack of delicious dishcloths, and a sweet little cylinder filled with mini-sparklers, for the kids.

I think that our Customs officers must have felt the cylinder to be a little suspicious, as they had opened the package to check through it. I must admit though, I was quite impressed with the way they re-wrapped the present quite nicely. Thank-you so much Florence - it was such a lovely package.

Even Matt thought the cloths were pretty cool - especially as they were excellent for wiping down our induction cooktop (and he's quite anal about the keeping this shiny black reflective surface gleaming at all times!!)

And on the subject of gifts, I have not only been the receiver of gifts lately, I have also been doing some giving myself.

Yesterday was Mum's birthday, and my sister and I got her an iPod. So of course I had to also knit her an iPod holder. This is a great example of my terrible knitting skills, and I really didn't know what I was doing - but I am actually quite drawn to the idea of a slick, perfect, cutting edge piece of technology being housed in something rustic, imperfect and a bit old-fashioned. I guess I find it somewhat amusing!

I also recently gave this baby quilt/playmat to my sister for her new baby Jett. In fact, it was a few weeks ago that I finished it, but I forgot to take a photo before I gave it to her. So here it is.

Another imperfect object, but made with love, and also with gorgeous japanese fabric purchased from Retro Mummy (Little French Kids fabric on the front and Wizard of Oz, and Gingerbread Man on the back). I have actually also given my mum another bag lately, but again I forgot to take a photo of it before I gave it to her. So I will get around to it...sometime...but until then.....yay for gifts!!!!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Monday's verse

....... by Michael Leunig

Why do you weep you poor, sad, old tree

I've lost an old lover, I'm weeping for me

But what are you saying, you know we love you

Yes I'm popular now but this love was true

This was a love from a difficult time

When the love of a tree had no reason or rhyme

No profit or motive of saving the earth

A love 'unimportant, of dubious worth'

A nuisance, escapist, naive or insane

Loopy and lonely and hard to explain

So my lover went off with a faraway stare

And is lost among all this new passion and care

And although I'm respected I'll always be sad

At the loss of a love just a tiny bit mad

As promised last Monday, I am doing a 'Monday's Verse' at the start of each week, to share some of my favourite poems with you. Today's poem is dedicated to Melanie from Kimono Reincarnate, who inspired me to go back to my Leunig books and remember why I was so enamored of him when I was in my early 20s.

If anyone else would like to share some favourite poems or verses, let me know. I am really enjoying going back to the poetry thing, and am keen to discover more.

Happy Monday everyone :)

This favourite pair of shoes

OK, I'm finally getting around to part 2 of this week's This is... theme (chosen by Hip Hop & Banana Bread). It's funny really, that I don't at all consider myself a 'shoe person', as I really don't own many pairs of shoes. But I have realised that I do REALLY LOVE the shoes I do have.

I decided on the shoes above (by Think!)as my favourites, as they are the first pair of heels I have ever owned that are ridiculously comfortable. Granted, it is not much of a heel, but it's enough to look dressy, and yet I can still walk as far as I need to without my feet killing me, or my dodgy hips getting cranky with me. Plus, they look great with everything - dresses, jeans, pants. What else can I say - I really love 'em.

And yet, I seriously considered these other two contenders:

In Summer, I pretty much live in my Birkenstock sandals.

Ditto for these black Camper shoes in Winter.

And I simply can't do a post about shoes without showing you this pair, that I have only worn a handful of times, and yet they are the most perfect looking shoe. I feel like Alice in Wonderland when I wear them.

That is, if Alice in Wonderland wore RABBIT TRAPS SNAPPED ONTO HER FEET!!!!!!!!!

Although they look great, these Allanah Hill shoes with the little ladybugs on the toes take the phrase 'suffering for your fashion' to a whole new level. The girl in the shop assured me they would stretch and become really comfortable. They didn't. I had them professionally stretched too. I nearly cried when it didn't work. So I have a love/hate relationship with them I guess. I do wear them on occasion. But only to seated events......

Sunday, May 4, 2008

This pre-1985

This week, as part of the 'This is...' meme, Angela from Three Buttons suggested we also post a pic of ourselves pre-1985. So here's mine. This was taken in 1975, during the very long period in which I was in plaster for bilateral hip dysplasia (the plaster was from my ankles up to my armpits!!!). As I was in it for so long, Dad made me a special skateboard-type thing that I could lie upon and get myself around with by pushing with my arms. I think this photo was taken in my Grandma's yard. I remember she had a huge rose garden with paths running through it.

Anyway, I might have to wait until tomorrow to do the second half of the This is meme (my favourite shoes!!!) as Kate is asleep in my bedroom where my shoes are, and when she wakes up we are scooting off to my mum's house.

See you tomorrow!


Bon voyage, Snoozy Woo

This little doll was sent off last week for a surprise softie swap. Now that she has been received I can introduce you to her.

A long time ago I had an idea for a basic design for a doll, based on my daughter Kate. Kate is almost two, and since she was only a few months old, she has had very little hair, except for a long snow white tuft in the middle of her head that curls straight up. So when the opportunity came to take part in the EB softie swap, I figured I would try to bring the idea to life.

And so Snoozy Woo was born, amidst a lot of swearing, unpicking, and finger-pricking. Previous to this I have made a couple of Moopies (after buying the pattern from Nest Studio), and have also made a very sorry looking sock elephant. So perhaps a little more softie-making experience would have made the construction process a lot easier. But hey, I got there in the end.

Her name is Snoozy Woo, and she is a girl who likes to take time to smell the roses. She is daydreamy, enjoys poetry by the Romantics, and knows the value of a nice midday nap!

And so she was shipped off last week, with a little flower clip in her hair (which is actually a detachable brooch) and her little handbag, in which she is carrying a handwritten note of her favourite poem - (and amazingly, it is also one of MY favourite poems :P)

The lovely Adds (aka The Humming Cat) has already taken a photo of Snoozy Woo in her new home, having a nice kip while leaning up against a tree!

Hhhhhmmmmm, an outside snooze in the shade of a tree - how perfect xxx

Friday, May 2, 2008

Some happy things...

First on the happy list...

Reading the new edition of MixTape. Such a satisfying read, and a great review of one of my favourite non-fiction books, Buddhism for Mothers: a calm approach to caring for yourself and your children, by Sarah Napthali (which almost made it into my last post, but was finally left out when I decided it would be just too hard to explain in one post why it is so good, and why I like it so much. Basically - the review in MixTape says everything I would like to have said (if I was more articulate).

Second on the happy list...

Slippers for Kate knitted by my Aunty, with bells sewn on by my mum. They are SOOOOOOO cute, and the bells make such a gorgeous tinkling noise. And Kate really really loves them...except....

BOY are they slippery suckers. I have had to hide them until I can get my hands on some puffy paint (unless anyone else has any ideas for non-slip soles????) because baby alpaca wool and polished floorboards really don't mix!

Third on the happy list...

The Lovely Flossy-P has tagged me for a blogging meme, so here goes:

1. Why did you start your blog?

For fun! I had just started sewing, and I wanted to be able to track my progress. I also thought it would help me stay inspired and motivated to make things. Oh, and I liked how reading blogs helped me to notice all the small and mundane things that were inspiring, or pretty. I remember reading a whole post about someone who had been having a terrible morning with kids fighting etc, then she opened a kitchen cupboard and noticed a rainbow of light shining across the opening. So she took a photo of it and blogged it. It was her reminder to slow down. It also reminded me of how often I am so busy worrying about what comes next that I miss noticing good stuff that is happening right now. So yeah, I am definitely more open to noticing the colour and wonder in the world, now that I am viewing it though a blogger's eyes. And plus, I like to write. It's a fun gig!

2. How did you come up with your blog name?

I wanted an open name that would leave me free to write about anything, and include all the things I was interested in - sewing, baking, gardening, kids, and being a more calm, and 'present' person.

3. Do your friends and family know about your blog? What do they think about it?

Yes they do, and they're not very excited about it. I have some relatives in Melbourne that go in and read occasionally to catch up with what I'm doing. But usually I have to bully my family into reading THEM: "oh, you'll have to email me the photos you took of the dinner we made the other night"... ME: Well I BLOGGED it - I'll send you a link. Again!!!" My husband actively avoids reading it in case he finds something cringe-worthy in it. We are exact opposites in that I am very earnest and tend to share everything (in terms of my thoughts) with everyone, whereas Matt likes to keep himself to himself. Actually, this is the sort of thing he would find cringe-worthy :P.

4. How do you write posts?

I sit at the kitchen bench with a cup of tea and I type like blazes. Doesn't take long really. But then I edit. And that can take about five times as long! That's why the less time I have, the longer and more rambling my posts are.

5. Have you ever had a troll or had to delete unkind comments?

No. Not so far. I do mostly try and stay away from controversial topics and keep this blog as my happy place, so I guess so far there has been not too much opportunity for people to get upset about anything I have written. And as for viruses and trolls, I guess I've just been lucky. Or more likely my blog is just not popular enough to be a worthwhile target. And I'm very cool with that.

6. Do you check your stats? Do you care how many people read your blog? If you do care, how do you increase traffic?

I probably last checked my stats about 3 weeks ago. I probably check them monthly, out of interest. I am interested to see how this all evolves organically. So no, I don't try and increase traffic - somehow I feel it would put a bad vibe into my happy place.

7. What kind of blogs/posts interest you?

Boy this is hard. Blogs that are well-written. Blogs with beautiful photography (although I must like the written content too). Blogs about sewing and crafting. Blogs that make me laugh. Blogs that introduce me to new things. Get the picture???
Actually, if I really really think about it, my all-time favourite blogs, are those that convey the personality of the writer to me, and through that I've made a connection with that person. There are many bloggers now that I feel are kind of 'blogger friends' and these are always the first blogs I read in my bloglines, and the ones that make me happiest when I see new posts.

8. What do you like and dislike about blogging?

LIKE - the people I have met through blogging, the creative inspiration it provides me, the ability to see progress I am making in my crafty endeavors, and the way it reminds me to notice little things around me and not take them for granted.

DISLIKE - the time it takes up. The pressure I put on myself to write something when I can't be bothered. The stress of trying to decide who to tag for a meme - crazy really because I like being tagged myself, but actually feel very uncomfortable tagging others (for fear that they might in turn feel pressure to do something they don't want to do).

Well, in light of my last little revelation (which was actually something I hadn't really realised myself until I wrote it down) I'm going to tag no-one. Nada. Or rather - I am making it an open invitation. Most blogs I read have been getting tagged quite a lot for different memes at the moment. So no pressure anyone. Just play if you want! Peace, love and all that jazz.