Saturday, February 28, 2009

My first Ottobre attempt (and button holes too!)

I was the lucky recipient of an Ottobre magazine subscription through craft mamas for Christmas. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

I'm not going to lie to you, I am scared of a lot of the patterns. There is an overwhelming number of knits (a land I have not ventured yet on my sewing journey) and generally tricky looking stuff, but this pattern was just right for me. It was challenging without being completely unachievable. And, even with my sloppy jaloppy sewing skills, and many a mind bending moment when I couldn't quite figure out what the instructions were getting at, it turned out beeeautiful, if I say so myself. 

The fabric is a little too well worn vintage sheet from the oppy in Anna Bay where we went on holidays this year. Where I have had to do some unpicking, it has left bigger-than-usual holes in the fabric... that I hope will close over again in the wash. The buttons from ye olde button tin

Which bring me to button holes. They turned out OK for a first attempt, but I am still not convinced I was doing it all right. They are functional though. 

I want to make another one right away so that I can consolidate my learning, but first I really really need to do the dishes. My crafting usually ends this way. Picking up the pieces of neglected house work.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fun and friends

This is the little painty project for a friend's birthday that I alluded to in yesterday's post. Another family portrait in Babushka form. No, the family in question does not have a chipmunk as a pet. Actually this is my artist's interpretation of their (enormous, actually, as far as I'm concerned) black german shepherd. I'm quite happy with how it turned out and was very excited to gift it this morning.

I spent a lovely day today with some dear friends from university days and their kids. It's so good to spend time with people who you've known for years and years, and knew you when you were young and very silly, and still like you anyway! If any of you are reading this post, THANK YOU for a great day and long standing friendship!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Takin it easy

A picture of something purple
by Caleb
(Taken by his very own Fisher Price digital camera)

We had one of those bonus days at home today where regular plans were cancelled. So the kids and I moved through the day at our own pace. 

Caleb did a "colour hunt" where he had to take pictures of different colours in the backyard. He took it very seriously with a pencil behind his ear, ticking the colours off his list as he went. Later he created his own board game with water colour paints and a die very poorly made by his mummy.

Jemima was captivated doing "water painting" outside. When her kangaroo picture disappeared, she painted another one. And another one.

We popped over to Grandma's for a cup of tea, then came home for Jemima to have a snooze, which she did do eventually.

I pottered about cleaning up Chris' and my room, doing a big load of washing of my own clothes, and cleaning the toilet (fascinating stuff, I know.... but strangely therapeutic).

Bedtime was hilarious with me demonstrating the "pull your own thumb off" trick to Caleb for the first time. He got such a shock and went into happy hysterics, which is always fun to watch. He hasn't quite worked it out and wanted me to give him my thumb so he could keep it on his bedside table. He spent the last few minutes before going to sleep trying to pull off his own thumb. What have I started!?

It was so good just to "be". Mummy and kids, not much happening, making our own fun and just hanging out together.

And now to have another cup of tea, perhaps work on a little painty project for a friend's birthday, and investigate if The Mentalist is on tonight.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Crafty Rejects

Here are a couple of projects that didn't turn out quite as I had hoped. 

The blonde doll was the reject when I wanted to make my own pattern, and the brunette was my first attempt at an offering for Handmade Help. 

I'm not completely sure what to do with them. They reside on my craft shelves, waiting for a job to do. I feel a bit sorry for them actually. Poor unfulfilled toys.

Thanks to those who hoped for a better week for me- I am already feeling better. I just needed to re-prioritise some things and have long talks to a few people who understand (many thanks for their listening ears too!) I am a talker, you know. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eye Spy...Love

Wow, a whole week went by with no post! 

Really hasn't been the best week around here. During the school holidays when I wasn't working, I had things humming around this joint, and then I started working again 2 days a week, and I am feeling like I am constantly chasing my tail in each setting, and not happy with neither the "at-home" work, nor the "out-at-work" job that is getting done.  So really, nothing terrible, but add a dash of sleep depravation and my less than laid back personality, and it's not always a pretty outcome. 

On the bright side, we had a great weekend catching up with friends we haven't seen for a while, Jemima has finally decided that a day sleep is still worth having, I just went for a walk around the block with HCJnr singing his tunes, and of course there is the subject of today's eye spy to consider... eye spy love.

This is said love and myself on our wedding day in 2001. Many thanks to my love for his support this week. He truly is my "soft place to fall" (to quote Dr Phil, purveyor of all wisdom.)

Thanks to Cindy for the theme and for hosting!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Eye Spy... my secret (food) shame

Not technically food as such, and probably no secret, but I am a little ashamed. I suppose it still counts!

Thanks to Jade for this week's theme and head over to Cindy's place to see who else is indulging!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

What a huge week. It has been a devastating one for so many. It has been so heartening to see the generous response. I know that my life will continue on as normal where others' lives are forever changed. Every time I get annoyed by something I remind myself of what other Australians are going through right now and I get a bit (a lot, actually) of perspective.

Today is Valentine's Day. In days gone by we did nothing to celebrate this. I once proclaimed it to be ridiculous for all manner of reasons, that we all get/give flowers or silly stuffed bears and love hearts on this random day. And I still proclaim the pretty much same thing, but I now think that if you can't express love to those you care about most on the day the whole commercial world is reminding you to, then what's going on there, really?

I have started a new tradition of giving a love note (I used this one) and handmade gift to the kids, and a love note and small (not handmade, nor fluffy nor stuffed, but this year a "Top Gear" related) gift for the man. I quite love giving presents, and it is especially nice to give a little "handmade by mummy" gift to the kids at a time when they aren't bombarded by a whole bunch of other gifts like at Christmas or birthdays. 

For Jemima I got out my hot glue gun that I bought months ago and never used, and the packet of plain hair clips I also bought ages ago, and went crazy sticking buttons onto them. Perfect for her wispy baby hair that is getting into her eyes, but I can't contemplate cutting. Generally they won't all be worn at once, but when you are a nearly 2 year old, more is more I think.

For Caleb I made him this tie using a pattern from the stash I got recently from a friend. To make it more kid friendly, I made the tie per the directions and then "tied" it around Caleb's neck and cut it at the centre back, tucked the raw edges in, and then sewed in some elastic to join it back together. This way he can get it on and off himself without having to undo the tie in the tie. The buttons are from Smiggle (a love heart and one that says "I'm your number one fan". I was thinking of making one this coming week for Handmade Helps Out. What do you think?

*sigh* I am so thankful for my lovely little family. Especially this week.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lulu is listed

I have listed Lulu the Pillow Doll here on Ebay under the new guidelines.

I had absolutely no idea how much to start the bidding at or what to do about postage! (Or if anyone would buy her at all!) After discussion with Chris we decided to list her at $10 starting bid and we would foot the bill for postage.

So if you want to help support communities in crisis after these dreadful bush fires, go forth and bid! 

Lulu helps out

I can't stop thinking about the people caught up in the devastating bushfires. As a small contribution I am going to list this Lulu Pillow Doll on ebay and donate the proceeds to the red cross bushfire appeal, as many other craft bloggers are doing.

I made one of these before, but this one is a scanned image printed onto printable fabric. She is backed with light pink fine wale corduroy so she is quite soft. Obviously Lulu 2 is a rectangle shape which is a little different to Lulu 1. Jemima loves her Lulu 1 and is quite put out that I won't let her cuddle Lulu 2, so she has some cuddly doll cred right there.

I have never listed anything on ebay before, but I am determined to figure it out. (Or get Chris to do it for me, probably tonight.) Look out for her on the Handmade Helps Out blog. I will get her posted there when I have worked out this listing thing.

UPDATED: I was just visiting the handmade helps out blog and discovered that ebay is no longer an option as apparently each of us would need certification of some sort to show that we were approved for this fundraising option. To spare them the paperwork, crafters will be selling their items in online shops. I don't have one, so I am off to figure something out. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Want to help?

Blog land is buzzing with initiatives on how to raise money to help those effected by the bush fires in Victoria. 

Cindy from Bug and Pop has started a blog called Handmade Helps Out to assist in coordinating the efforts of the craft community. Basically, crafters can make something, and personally list it on Ebay and then donate the money raised to the Red Cross appeal

I am definitely going to list something (though I am not sure what yet), and I'll probably bid some too!

If you are interested in buying something that a crafter has made to this end, do a search for "Handmade Help" and "Red Cross" on Ebay. (Or you can also go to Etsy and search for "Bushfire"- there are a few initiatives happening there too.)

Pip over at Meet me at Mikes is constantly updating ways that we can help too. 

Thanks to everyone who has stepped up and organised fundraisers. You are amazing, truly.


Don't know what to say really, but didn't want to say nothing. I am a bit shell shocked as we watch the news about the fires, see the devastation in Victoria, and the pain on the faces of those who have survived.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost so very much under such horrific circumstances.

Donations can be made here

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Shirr is easy

While the back room was still a disastrous mess, I decided to keep on sewin'. Shirring is something that I'd been keen to try for ages and had the shirring elastic sitting in a draw. I used this post as a guide.

Can I just say shirring is AWESOME!? So quick and easy and very very forgiving of little sewing foibles. The bandana dress was the first go and is probably about a size 4/5 as it fits Caleb (hee hee, don't tell Daddy), so that will go in the cupboard for a few years for Jemima, or become a gift down the track. The completely lazy appeal of the bandana dress is obvious- no hems, no finishing seams. Lurvely.

While I was on a roll I made a dress for Jemima to wear in the present. It is a close call, but it fits right this second. It's perfect for a hot hot hot day like today. But not outside for long as that moon tanner skin will be burnt in about a minute and a half.

I used the ribbon hem instructions for the lazy days skirt tutorial from the Oliver + S blog, which is a hem I highly recommend. The little halter neck straps can also be tie at the button to make it s strapless dress which looks so cute, but there are no guarantees her modesty will be protected.

All round, a good sewing day. (Oh and I made the masks for the party tonight too, but they are hardly blogable, so lets just pretend they are rad.)

Back in the saddle

It has been a little while, maybe a couple of weeks, since I have sewn anything. I think the reason why is pure laziness. I couldn't be bothered getting the ironing board out, and then having the mess of a work in progress hanging about and all those little scraps of thread and fabric scattered across the floor. The heat doesn't help much either I guess. But enough whining!

Chris and I have a 21st birthday party to attend tonight, so I whipped up this little artsy clutch from Bend the Rules sewing. It is the second one I have made. Because the denim is so stiff on it's own, I didn't do the flannel facing as described in the book, making it an even quicker project. Chris has taken the kids to their swimming lessons this morning, which makes it an even quickerer project (haha who needs grammar). 

We need masks for this party, so that is my next trick. I want to make them pretty simple and quick, as I don't imagine folk wear their masks for long.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mail from The Black Apple

The kids and I got a bit of money at Christmas time, and I thought it might be nice to get some artworks instead of more toys or whatever.

I am in love with Emily Martin's (The Black Apple) work. So I bought the top print, "Circle Time" for myself and the one underneath, "Milk Dress", for Jemima (the girl loves her milk). I was going to put hers in her room, but she has a very little room and we don't tend to hang out there, so I am thinking I will put it in the back room where we will all (by "all" I mean, me) get to enjoy it all the time. Is that wrong? Is it like that Simpson's episode when Homer buys Marge a bowling ball for her birthday?

Anyways, I lurrrrrrrve these prints a lot. I haven't gotten them out of the plastic sleeve yet as I want to pop them straight into frames. Frames I have not procured yet. I am thinking of Ikea as usual. 

Caleb chose some prints of robots from this etsy shop (pretty cool) and they should arrive in a week or so. I bought one of the birdy prints just because, well I was saving on postage.

Monday, February 2, 2009

I don't usually do this, but...

I totally baked a cake today. 

Caleb is at preschool today so Jemima got to help this time, and she enjoyed throwing in each ingredient, but I had to hold her (and got the most delicious cuddle) while I mixed it all together because loud noises scare her so.

I don't really like cooking that much, but when we have a bad banana, I pull out this recipe c/o my mum's "Nursing Mother's Cookbook" from way back when. It is the Simplicity Chocolate Cake recipe, but I do the banana cake variation more often than not. Actually that's all I do.

Here's the recipe.

Grease an 8" ring tin. Heat oven to 180 C. Melt 2T butter or margarine. Put 1 cup and 2T SR flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup milk, 2 eggs, 1/2 tsp vanilla, one mashed ripe banana and then melted butter into a mixing bowl. Mix for 3 minutes. Put in tin. Bake for 30 minutes.

I left out the bit about also being able to cook it on an asbestos mat in a fry pan. Did people really do that? 

Also I just realised as I was typing up this recipe that I forgot to add the extra 2T of SR flour when I baked this little number. Luckily it still tastes OK as it was all Jemima wanted to eat for lunch.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Eye Spy... a small object

This little kitty was living in the button tin. She is not a button herself, but serves purpose enough being a tiny feline creature, and therefore cute. I don't know what her back story is, but these days she lives on a little shelf of knick knacks in our family room.

Thanks Crafty Librarian for a great theme, and to Cindy for hosting as always.