Saturday, 31 December 2011

Goodbye 2011... Hello 2012

2011draws to a close!!!
I think many of us are feeling like celebrating the end of 2011. Feeling thankful we are actually still here it to see it end, and that we outlasted all the drama of it. For all that was awful for so many people in 2011, it still isn't too hard to think of things that were also good too. 2011 flashed by in a blink of an eye (in retrospect) even though some of those individual days were a real grind.

The thing I love most about the change of year is the feeling of letting go of all the old impediments that keep us back, and being able to become open and hopeful for all the joy and wonderful potential that the the new year holds. Hope must spring eternal or why would we continue to carry on.

In 2012 my only goal is accepting peace into my soul. I have had enough of the fight and struggle over the last few years so in 2012 I just want to float and feel the serenity. While I actually realise that this seems wasteful, I have spent so many years fighting to get upstream I wonder what it would be like to actually stop and go with the flow. Perhaps all these years I have been missing my destiny by trying in earnest to reach some other perceived goal. I want to see what will develop if I can get out of the way and just let life happen. I am also going to say Yes to all the things I keep talking myself out of doing.

Here's to you and yours and me and mine for a new type of New Year.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Holidays To You

Well I have been trying to get to writing this post all week, but I have been flatter than flat chat for days on end. Baking, shopping, sewing, entertaining, cleaning and more baking all week long and no time for pit stops at all. So as my Christmas gift to you here is a little last minute treat you can make for yourself or to gift to someone else.

Image from: Call Me Cupcake
Brownies in a bottle
The  image is from the blog Call Me Cupcake. If you visit over at her site you will see more gorgeous drool inspiring pictures and recipes. Linda is also writing a book which I hope will be available on Amazon or through book stores here. (I am getting a long list of books to buy which are being written by may favourite bloggers.)

All you need is a 1 litre jar (container) and a set of scales to measure everything in. I gave one of these to a girlfriend yesterday and told her to keep it in the pantry "in case of emergency" because all you need to bake them are 3 pantry staples that everyone always has on hand.
In fact she liked the idea so much I decided to make some more to give out to guests at Christmas dinner tomorrow. I made a little hang tag to go on the bottle which gives the extra ingredients and instructions to bake the recipe. On the back of the tag I included the complete recipe so the recipients can make another emergency jar for their pantry.

Here is the tag so you can print it too. I've translated the cooking terms into something I understand (it is originally written using decilitres which I believe is French and more precise). Cups work equally well as the measurement and any straight sided cup can be used so long as the same cup is used to measure everything. Feel free to click the label image and then print the labels off, fold in 1/2 and punch a little hole in the top to tie it onto the jar.

Best wishes to you all for a safe, happy, wonderful holiday season and I will catch you all again soon!


PS don't forget the last minute project I shared last year: Reindeer Food.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Today I made...

Christmas stockings for the kids. I guess I wasn't feeling pressured enough so I decided to add another project on a whim.

Spotlight has all their Christmas stuff at 50% off so while I only walked in to refund $7 worth of bias tape I decided not to use and spend a $10 voucher on a new ironing board cover, I actually walked out with a bunch of Christmas fabric, some new moulds (which I used in Yesterday's soap projects), and a couple of other small items.

The stocking panel really only made 2 stockings but I stretched them out to 4 by backing them with a cute owl and tree printed fabric and I added padding then lined them with the left over plain red fabric from Mum's bunting project. Sorry Mum I used it all up but you didn't really want any of it back right? [I said smiling my sweetest smile... this only works with your own Mother when your nearly 40].

The stockings did turn out pretty cute though.

Mr W invited his mate from down the street for a pancake breakfast today. 10 minutes before he arrived I dropped a Pyrex jug on the floor from less than a foot (30cm), it totally shattered and split my little toe open, thankfully DH was on hand (and wearing shoes) to help clean up the mess and me. I think I lost a small chunk of skin off my toe but I covered it in a band-aid put on a tight shoe (apply pressure) and carried on with making the pancakes. After breakfast we dropped a glass bauble off the tree so out came the vacuum again. Luckily no injuries this time.

My next job is cutting up the fruit for the pudding cakes. Another sticky job... better run off and look for the brandy - for the cakes!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Today I made...

the last strand of bunting for my Mum... and about 2kg (4lb) of soaps.
I can't really believe that all the bunting is finally finished, I got quite quick at stitching it all together by the end. It also helped that I ordered 25 metres of continuous bias tape so I didn't need to repeat my I-can't-join-these-two-@$%#-pieces-of -#@$%*^@#-bias-tape-together tantrum from last week.

I didn't really intend to make all that soap, it just happened that way. I made reindeer soap, mini gingerbread men, larger gingerbread men (which I am going to gift to the neighbours for Christmas), pond duckies, dragon flies and lumps of coal. Now my house smells divine!

If you want to make some soap too check out these soap project tutorial pages from BrambleBerry and Otion.
Coal Soap
Ducky Soap

I actually love the smell of the coal soap (which is made of real charcoal) because I used a new Cranberry and Pomegranate fragrance in it, so it is a really nice soap.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Holidays Holidays Holidays

Yesterday was the first day of the Summer holidays! Yay! Mr W had been waiting in desperation for them to begin. Yes there is all the fun, warm weather which means swimming and playing all day with his mates because there is no school, and then there is Christmas which means pressies, and his birthday which means more pressies but the real reason he has been aching for the holidays to start is because he was allowed to get a haircut on the first day of the holidays.

Walking into the Barber shop
We always go to Fremantle to get his hair cut at Norm Wrightson's (Mr W affectionately calls it 6 chairs), he's had all but two haircuts done here (one was a 1000Yen cut in Japan and one somewhere else when we were desperate and couldn't make it to 6 Chairs). His first ever haircut was done at this same Barber shop on his 1st birthday (yes I did cry a bit), and I almost cried a bit today too (I was biting my lip really hard)

He's been growing out his hair since the last school holidays, and now it is almost touching his nose. Whoop-de-doo* you say and I can understand that... but what you don't know is that this haircut would be HIS free choice!

So without further ado here is the after shot.

And walking back out of the Barber shop
He loves it! Me not so much but I keep reminding myself that it is better than a tattooed face on my child. I honestly thought he would chicken out and I gave him lots of opportunity to do so. I told him he had to ask for the style himself and he had to pay for half of the cost. I think he may have thought I might put my foot down at the salon and outlaw a Mohawk style at the last moment, but I didn't. Lesson learned we can't call each other's bluff.

After the haircut we went and did some ingredient shopping for the Christmas baking. I kept losing him everywhere we went because it hadn't quite sunk in that he looks so different. I guess I'll get used to it... and it will probably have grown out by the time he goes back to school in 7 weeks. Fingers crossed!

*Whoop-de-doo is usually used negatively to show that you feel unexcited or uninterested in something or event.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

We built a house...

made of gingerbread!

Every year we make a house with the kids at out tree decorating night, it's just one of those traditions we love to keep going. We got the biscuit part from IKEA and decorated it with so much candy I am surprised can bear its' own weight... a good portion of candy didn't make it onto the house of course.

I finally found the best table to decorate this on a thin trestle table. This means the adult helpers and all the kids can get really close to the house from all sides and the bowls of candy can be evenly distributed around... this means no fights because someone is in the way. Of course I haven't figured out how to get it to stick together without placing something inside it to support the house while it dries. I've got some small dipping bowls in the house that I usually use for gyoza sauce... (last night we had to be a bit uncivilised and use a small jug to pour the sauce over our gyoza.)

It smells so yummy every time I walk past it I just want to eat it! The only thing that stops me is remembering the number of times all those little fingers got licked while picking up the sweets.

The kids sure did have fun though, and by next year Mr H will be getting his sticky fingers in there too. This will no doubt get munched on Christmas day.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

One less Christmas gift under my tree

 As we gear up for our own Christmas celebrations, making everything special and perfect, surrounding ourselves with friends and family, sometimes we get so focussed on our own small circle it is easy to forget those outside of it. This year I'd like to encourage you to place one less gift under your Christmas tree and use those funds to help someone else in need.

Barb linked to video a few days ago, but I've also linked to it in this post. Click the caption below if you haven't seen this you-tube video, but grab a tissue (if you're like me) you'll need it. Please watch the video because it is all about thanks and more importantly hope. It is wonderful that despite experiencing such a horrifying event, life for some is beginning to evolve into a new type of normal.

Japan says thank you to friends around the world
Many organisations are still taking donations for the 11.3 Tohoku Earthquake Appeal and I've linked to the one being organised by the Japanese Consulate in Australia. Donations will be accepted until March 2012.

I have made many donations to various agencies for this appeal including my latest at through the Genki Japan festival. Here is also a beautiful song sung by some guys in Australia, Pray for Japan, Play for Love project.

You could also choose to help someone (or some other cause) in your own local district. There are people that are sleeping rough (are homeless) every night in every neighbourhood around the world. We've recently had major fires through our own state (in and around Margaret River, Prevelly and Grace Town) which burnt out many homes and properties.  Please join me in giving up one gift under your tree to help make a big difference for someone you will never meet.

Best wishes from me to you and yours this holiday season.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

More embroidered T-Shirts

Last week I shared a T-shirt that was embroidered for Miss D. Today there are a few more that I've done.  These two were given to Mr B.

I really love the gnomes, they're so cute. I think I am getting a bit better.

This time I transferred the design using Chaco paper. It is a waxy chalk transfer paper made by Clover. There are 5 assorted coloured sheets in the pack so there is always a colour that will show up no matter what the fabric colour you're using. There is also a 'pen' you can buy to trace the designs with when using this paper, but it was $9 (a bit exy* for my taste) so I used an old Nintendo stylus that kept falling out of the holder in Mr W's DS.

*Exy is Australian slang for expensive.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

TAST with Sharon B's Pin Tangle

I've signed up for TAST (Take A Stitch Tuesday) over at Pin Tangle which is run by fellow Aussie Sharon B.

I saw that Barb S and Jane C have also signed up. I am sure I'll learn a whole bunch about embroidery (let's face it I know nothing at this point) so it should be fun too. Up the learning curve I go! If you want to sign up for this cool challenge too click on the TAST banner in the bottom left panel of this blog. All my entries about this challenge will be labelled TAST.

Miss D's Tee

I have tried to be a bit more creative with the gifts I give this year for Christmas. I know that space in all our houses is limited and filling them up with even more toys is not preferable. I got Miss D a really cute flared skirt in a bright pink colour and purchased a plain white tee to go with it. I wanted to embroider something onto the t-shirt to make the two items more of a set. Now I just need to decided on gifts for the boys.

I've never embroidered anything before (ok I've done loads of temari but IMO embroidery is quite a different form of stitching).

I looked on the Internet for some cute pictures of flowers and when I found some things I liked I played around with them on my computer until I got the look I wanted. I had no idea how to get the design onto the fabric so I just printed it onto paper and placed it behind the fabric then traced it out lightly with a pink pen. Sorry purists I know you are most likely cringing right now about how I transferred the design but it seemed to work ok and I'll try to work out some better way next time.

Anyway here is how it turned out. I haven't given it yet, but that's probably ok... she is only 3.91 years old and doesn't read my blog anyway.

So here it is. My first embroidered item, stitched in 3 shades of pink, with lots of love... and a few wonky stitches.

I should have flicked the tags out over the back of the shirt before I took the picture because you can see them (green and pink shadows) through the fabric. There was more design on the sheet that I made but I only transferred small sections at a time. When I got to this point I thought it was enough for such a tiny top.

I hope she likes it!

IMO means in my opinion in computer shorthand.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Christmas Bunting

One of the many projects which has been keeping me more than a bit busy lately is Mum's Christmas bunting. We went to Spotlight a while back and she fell in love with some red and white bunting panels that were on sale. Of course I encouraged her to buy them seeing as they looked like a fairly easy project she could do while tending to our Old Nana.

She took them home and cut them out with a friend who proceeded to zigzag them together. Then next time Mum visited at my house she came with her large spotlight bag in tow... I knew exactly what she was going to say... Could I please stitch up the second set of bunting?

Mum showed me what had already been done and no disrespect to anyone but the first set of the bunting turned out a bit naff*. The triangles were zigzag stitched with wrong sides together and the edges looked really jagged... not at all how I think Mum had hoped they would when she purchased the material. So I set about making the second set of bunting. I unpinned all the pieces, turned them right sides together, stitched them and then turned them right ways out before pressing them into lovely neat little triangles. It took me ages to do them this way but I didn't say anything to Mum when I showed her what I had done. She said she did prefer the way I had sewn them and so I suggested that if she really liked my way better I'd be happy to resew the first set if she unpicked them.

A week later and Mum had managed to unpick just 6 flags... I couldn't believe I was saying it as I heard the words roll out of my mouth... but somehow I managed to return home with all the flags to unpick. I guess that means Mum raised me so well that I would do something I really do not like doing just to see her happy and that I really adore my her too.

I stacked the triangles of fabric into bundles of 5 to make the job seem a bit more manageable. After many hours of seam ripping I got them all unpicked and slowly began to restitch the flags.

Actually I think they turned out pretty nicely even though they took forever to make. Even so, I think next time someone sees nice bunting panels at the store I'm going to whistle and walk (no run!) away.

Here is the first set. It is about 5 metres long and has 20 flags on it. Only 3 more sets to go...

*naff: British slang, today meaning uncool, tacky, unfashionable, worthless... or as a softer expletive, in places where one might use the ["F word"] as in "naff off", "naff all", "naffing about". 

Saturday, 3 December 2011

It's December 1st!

Sorry I forgot to hit the POST button so this entry is a little late.

I just can not believe how fast this year has gone! Today we begin December which means a final mad dash towards Christmas. The next two months are non stop in our family with Mr M, Miss D and Mr W all having their birthdays near (or in Miss D's case on) Christmas Day.

We will start putting up the tree tonight which means rearranging some furniture and juggling boxes (trying not to break my neck or anything else for that matter) of ornaments etc. I also need to get my baking list together and recheck my gift list. I've got such a lot to do and I can't help procrastinating about it.

We did get the first job done last night. Mr W wrote his cards out for his classmates and teachers. He also chose a small gift for each of his teachers from my present shop. Through the year whenever I find something so adorable that I just can't avoid buying it, I buy it and place it into my gifting draw. I think I've been a bit of a naughty shopper this year because Mr W had a really wonderful selection of items to choose from. He took ages looking over every item and evaluating them... I am amazed that he actually chose the things I had purchased with his teachers in mind.

We have opened our Christmas treat. Quality Street Chocolates yummy!!! They are usually really hard to get but this year Coles (one of the big chain grocery stores in Australia) has them (and they are on special 1/2 price yay!!) My favourite chocolates (apart from Lindor which I've put into Mr W's advent stockings this year) I also love the tin that the chocolates come in... many people I know have kept the tin(s) over the years and use them for storing various bits and bobs.

I've got several temari projects on the go right now but they are on pause for the next week or so.