Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflections on 2010

Teeny tiny squares that helped me complete the challenge
It’s the end of 2010 and I’ve finished my 365th granny square! Yippee! As of the 4th December I still had 100 squares to crochet to reach my target of 365 squares for the year of the Granny a Day Challenge 2010. A friend suggested I make smaller squares and that’s exactly what I did! It’s a project I’m going to carry on into 2011 and end up making a huge and very colourful afghan of teeny tiny squares. Now, where do I sign up for the 2011 challenge?

2010 has been a year of stepping forward for me:

• My 40th birthday was back in February – feel I’ve become a grown up!

My first completed project for the challenge - a 40th birthday pressie to myself!
• I took part in Blogtoberfest 2010 and grew my readership and also found some other great blogs and made new friends.

• I met a blogging friend for the first time this year, we sat, drank coffee and chatted about craft, family – lots and lots really!

72 more squares for the challenge - still to be sewn into an afghan

• I now have my own Cafepress Shop and Made-it shop finally after pontificating about it for nearly 2 years!  (See sidebar if you want to visit!)

• My blog has nurtured my creativity, I’m constantly getting new ideas some of which I’m hoping will come to fruition in the New Year.

Yummy colours in my crochet cookie jar ...

What will 2011 bring? Stay with me and join me on my creative journey – let’s see where it takes us!!

Happy New Year to you all xxxxx

December Sewing Challenge - Sharpen Your Skills

December has been such a busy month I decided I had to make something small and simple. As it's my intention to become more organized in 2011 (ha, ha!) I thought I'd make a needle case. I really enjoyed the last embroidery sewing challenge and it's a past-time that quietens the mind and enables you to have a few pleasant moments to yourself, a perfect activity for after the Christmas rush.

I couldn’t make a link I was given for the combi van work, so I visited the font website, copied the combi (look for the font ‘Old Cars’ and it’s under the letter “S”) and traced it, refined it a bit to make a line drawing I was happy with and voila, one happy camper! Sally at Virtu has embroidered a gorgeous red camper if you want further inspiration. Thank you Sally!

So there, my last sewing challenge for 2010. I’m really pleased with it, especially the colour theme of red, white and blue which is one of my particular favourites at the moment – it’ll be something different next year I’m sure!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stacey Apeitos - Queen of Arts

I had the wind blown well and truly out of my sails when I discovered that an artist I admire died back in September after a battle with breast cancer.  The artist is Stacey Apeitos and I'd discovered her work from her fabulous art e-zine 'Astarte'.  She was a true believer in the healing power of art and a real inspiration to me.

Her work ranged from mixed media, paper art, art dolls, felting amongst many others.  I remember a story she told about having to draw a crown - hence my little doodle above - the story made me smile at the time and although I've forgotten the details, I will always think of her as the queen of arts.

Stacey will live on in the memories and love of those who were close to her, but it is soothing to know that she also leaves a legacy to the wider world in her art works. 

Her death has made me think about my own art dreams that I've been carrying around with me since the age of 18, but using excuses, mainly fear based, have never brought fully to fruition.  It's made me think - if I don't live my dream, who will?

Rest in Peace Stacey, and thank you for making the world a brighter place.

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year Giveaway - kick start your creativity!

The New Year is a great time for new pursuits, so if you haven't embraced your creativity yet here's a great opportunity to have a go (and fabulous if you already have a passion for creating!) with a few bits and pieces I've put together to make a creativity doll.  Of course there is a certain amount of bling and other embellishments:

I've included a ready sewn doll shell - it just needs stuffing!  You can either leave it blank or colour it with acrylic paints, permanent markers - write a creative affirmation to yourself - or textas.  It's up to you.  No technical skills required - embellish to your hearts content and most of all, have fun!  There are also feathers, buttons, ribbon and lace, and I'll pop in a piece of calico and some instructions on how to make a face.  (I'm sure there will be a few other bits and bobs added by New Year!)

All you need to do to enter the draw is leave a comment on this post.  If you post a link to this post in your own blog you'll get a second entry - but remember to leave a comment to tell me you've done it!

Good luck - you've got until midnight on 31st December - I'll announce the winner on New Year's Day. xx

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas Day!


I had lots of gorgeous pressies, but by far the most special was my Little Man coming into our room at just after 6 this morning, before even opening his small stocking (our tradition introduced to buy us a bit of sleep in time before opening the pressies under the tree - it doesn't actually work very well, but we still do it ...)  He wanted to crawl into bed and snuggle up with his mum instead.  How special did that make me feel?  :)  These are the moments we'll treasure forever, a gift that stands the test of time.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Strawberries in Rum

This is extremely easy to make, extremely tasty and the recipe ought to be shared - my Christmas gift to you!

What you need:

2 x 250g punnet strawberries, washed and hulled
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white rum (e.g. bacardi)

Put water and sugar into a saucepan.  Cook on a low heat, stirring constantly until liquid starts boiling.  The liquid will look very white at this stage.

Boil the sugar solution until it reads 110 degrees C on a sweet thermometer or until the syrup turns clear - it should not colour.  It seems to take a long time to reach this point, but when the colour changes it happens quickly - take off heat immediately. 

Allow syrup to cool a little.  In the meantime, fit as many strawberries as you can into your chosen sterilized jar(s).  I found 250g fitted quite nicely into a 1 pint jar.  Add the rum to the syrup and stir.  Pour the syrup over the fruit to the top of the jar.  Cover.

Leave for as long as possible, a week is good, but I bet you won't be able to wait that long!  Yum.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Take some time out

Yesterday I went to a party for a friend of the Little Man and I had a good natter to the mums.  Seems I'm not the only one feeling the stress of the holiday season and everything that goes with it.  Many complained about not having enough time just 'to be'.  Which is why I drew the above doodle, inspiration struck in the midst of rushing around.

So my special wish for you all who visit here, is that this holiday season you may find a few precious moments 'to be' and to savour a moment of quiet to replenish your spirit!

Monday, December 20, 2010

An evening with U2

"Do you believe in fairy tales?"  Such as being at a concert at one of the most amazing rock bands in the world?  Yes I do!
We've just returned from the U2 concert in Perth.  Awesome doesn't even halfway describe it!!  This picture is by my guest artist for this post and was painted on the t-shirt I was wearing to the event.  Thank you HB.  I am a very proud mother. xx
The atmosphere was electric, the stage show mesmerizing, the music loud and unforgettable. I particularly liked the guitars - always one of my favourite instruments although I haven't got a clue how to play.  I have my dad to blame thank for that - he was always listening to guitar music and I think my love for the intrument came from there.  Thanks dad!

Oh well, back to the real world in the morning, great to escape it for a couple of hours - ...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

End of school year, time for a well earned rest ...

It was the last day of school today.  My little man burst into tears just after he was let out, from the sheer exhaustion of this last term I think.  He's snuggled up reading with his big brother, life at a slower pace.

The meeting went well yesterday with the reporter.  There will be a picture of us parents in the weekend paper, complete with our angry faces! 

As one school year closes it's been a time to reflect over the last year, what I've been up to, how the children are growing up, what I want to achieve in the next year.  But I won't share my thoughts now, that's for another time.

I'll end with a quote, a favourite of mine, which is quite apt as we fight Optus about their cellphone tower (oops, did I just name and shame?), one which has stuck with me from university, written by the ever insightful George Orwell:

"We build a prison, and call it progress ..."

'Til next time xxx

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Painting with a message - no cellphone towers here!

This is the first painting I've done for some time.  Placards for a meeting with a reporter tomorrow because some stupid, shortsighted phone company has decided they want to put a cellphone tower 180 m away from our primary school. 

We're going to be mums on a mission and our voices will be heard ...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Change of plans

View from our  house this afternoon
Well, I was planning to write about the book I'm reading at the moment. but as is its wont, life had different ideas for today.  Something much more frightening ...

There's been a bushfire in our suburb - we saw the flames as we drove up the hill and saw the roiling orange smoke.  Too close for comfort.  No-one can imagine the terror unless they've lived through it.  My little glimpse today made my blood run cold.

One of the most unsettling things was the sound of helicopters flying over our house
Thanks to the teams who worked so hard to contain the fire.  Unsung heroes - God bless them every one.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Light at the end of the tunnel ...

I've been giving in to pre-Christmas stress, even after all my words about going with the flow and just 'being' instead of 'doing'.  Guess I've tried to do too much and have done the best thing by having a few quieter days, including not blogging!

Hope you like the picture - it's taken at Hillary's Boat Harbour - I love the way the light shines on the water, then you see the silhouettes of the people - dark and light together.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer - with a moral ...

My own little Rudolfs - mum bought the reindeer on the left for me when I was 18 ...

.... and after all that time his nose still lights up!!
Last night at his concert, Jack Johnson sang a gorgeous version of Rudolf the red nosed reindeer - with his own final verse.  It's gorgeous - please have a listen!  As he said, we can sing it to our kids and it has a great moral. 

Getting into the Christmas spirit!!

Enjoy xxxxx

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas reds

We've just come back from a Jack Johnson concert which was BRILLIANT!  As well as being marvellously talented, he's also a very generous man and gives 100% of his show's profit to charities that are part of his 'all at once' organization.  What a great example of giving at this time of year!


A beautiful hibiscus - red for Christmas - and a sign of summer ...

Our Christmas wreath - simple to make but effective and a sign of Christmas ...

simply gather together your Christmas fabric, tear into strips and tie each strip in a knot around the wreath until it's covered.  Finish off with a couple of bells and some red and green ribbon to hang it up.  Very festive!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

November Sewing Challenge complete - Christmas Bunting

Inspiration hit in the form of bunting for this sewing challenge, which was to make something for Christmas - I'd read about bunting on a couple of blogs and in a craft book and decided I'd make some too - nothing says 'carnivale' quite like bunting.  And it does look good:

Also it's very easy to make ... this little lot took me just under 2 hours ...

1.  Gather up as much Christmas material as you fancy using.  For my larger bunting I used 4 different fabrics, at a length of 30 cm each.  This bunting was 12 triangles in length (smaller bunting was 7 triangles).

2.  Make a template - I made a triangle 25 cm across the bottom and 25 cm high for the larger bunting, and 15 cm across the bottom and 15 cm high for the smaller bunting.

3.  Cut out 12 triangles in patterned fabric and 12 triangles in calico.

Sew the triangles - if you place pins in the centre of the triangle you stop the fabric slipping and you can sew around the triangle without stopping.  After sewing up all the triangles, turn the right side out and iron carefully.

tip:  trim the ends of the triangles like this to make a flat and fairly pointy point.

4.  Take some bias binding and fold in half, sandwiching triangles in the fold - you will have to trim along the top of your triangle first to get rid of any excess fabric and stray threads.  Start in the middle of your binding and work outwards, in two halves.  I left about 6 cm between the small triangles, and 7 cm between the large triangles.  For the large bunting I used 4 m of binding, but 5 m would give you nice long ends to tie up the bunting, and for the smaller bunting I used 2 m of binding (and 7 triangles), but again add extra length if you want nice long ties!

5.  I tacked the triangles to the bunting; this is the most tedious part of the project, but it is well worth doing as then you can whizz down the whole length of binding with your sewing machine afterwards!  Careful though as the binding sometimes twists round in between the triangles and you don't want twisted bunting!

6.   Hang bunting in a place where it will be noticed and admired!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Create for Life Cafepress Shop open for business!

A sneak peek of my designs - there are 4 to choose from at present!
OK - so I didn't get round to taking the photos of my bags and apron for my 'made-it' shop, but I have managed to upload some designs to my Cafepress shop, so go on over and have a look.  Cafepress offers lots of designs which can be printed onto items of your choice from mugs to clocks, t-shirts to water bottles.  You could get stuck on there for hours!!  (Make sure you visit my shop first though!!)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Time to be

I've had a short blog holiday! 

The photo kind of lets you know what I've been up - making lots of bags for my little on-line shop at made-it.  I should have a button on the blog tomorrow, which will mean I've finally uploaded photos of my goodies for sale!  I had great fun today trying to make Photoshop work and writing my shop policy - much prefer the creating!!

To be honest I'm getting a bit stressed about the proximity of Christmas - so many things to do and so little time!  Must remember not to lose sight of the good side of the season - it's not all about shopping and getting the best presents, whatever everyone keeps telling you.  It's more important to be than to do - that's going to be my mantra throughout silly season!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Business cards and teddy bears - getting it right!

I found the cutest baby bear in Little Man's school bag.

When I told him how proud I was of his baby bear, he looked at me in disgust, saying 'it's not baby bear' and had another rummage in his school bag ...

And here they are, Daddy bear, Mummy bear and the real Baby bear.  Aren't they just so cute?

Later in the day when I looked in the mailbox, I found another little surprise.  My Moo Minicards - I'm going to put them in with pieces that I sell and hand them out to anyone who's interested in my work.  I think they look pretty good.  Yay - exciting!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Countdown to Christmas

I like to spread out a bit when I'm baking ...
When I went back to England for a holiday a couple of years ago, I brought back with me some dodgy CDs (mum had been collecting them from a daily newspaper!) and crammed our bags full to bursting with memorabilia from my youth.  Our baggage allowance was 100kg in total, and we reached 99kg.  (Stay with me on this, it is relevant) ...

Ready for the oven
Today I made my Christmas cake, just in time - better than last year when I made it 2 weeks before the big day!  Now I've heard it said that if you want to make a great cake, make it when you're in a good mood.  This is where my dodgy CDs came in!  I defy you not to make a good cake if you're listening to Bananarama!  Whatever you may think of them (if you even know who I'm talking about) their music is of the annoyingly catchy type, and I'll be humming 'Venus' and 'I heard a rumour' for the rest of the day!

Yum - finished - will go into storage until it's iced on Christmas Eve!
The scary part is I was a wee 16 year old when most of these songs were released.  Still I enjoyed my trip down memory lane and had a good boogie all by myself whilst making the cake!  And do you think I scraped the bowl clean with all that brandy that was in the mix?  You bet I did - why do you think I waited until the kids were at school before I made it?  :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

400 posts and counting ... and other stuff ...

Ooh, it was my 400th post the other day and I didn't even notice!  Just having too much fun blogging!

Today I've been busy doing preparation work - cutting out fabric for some bags I'm making for my 'made-it' online shop, as well as cutting out for Roman blinds.  To be honest I'm not looking forward to making them as curtains and blinds are so functional and not as exciting to make as other things.  I find it really difficult to get going on these projects, but I'm always so pleased at the final result, even after thinking the whole process is boring!

And the photo of the grass tree?  It's a little hint at my next creative blog project - for some reason I find grass trees utterly fascinating and I'm hoping to capture as many on camera as I can.  I'll keep you posted!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Taking time out ...

I was busy doing mum stuff in the kitchen today when Little Man came in and asked me "could you please come and do something with me?"  He asked so nicely, how could I refuse.  And this is what we did, we placed all of his plastic soldiers on his aircraft carrier.  It made him so happy that I helped.  And I almost missed out - almost used that "I'm busy!" phrase.  Glad I didn't, it was really special just 'being' with my Little Man.

What a scorcher!

Today the temperature hit 39 degrees here in the Hills.  I've found someone who suffers from the heat as much as I do:

What you can't see is that he's actually sitting flaked out under the air-conditioning.  A dog after my own heart. xx

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I woke up with butterflies in my tummy this morning because I was nervous about meeting my blogger friend Sally.  We've 'talked' via our blogs for the past year or so, admired each other's creations and shared moments of motherhood woes and life experiences.  Really we knew quite a bit about each other already ... but I always get those nerves when I'm up to something new.

Anyway, we had the most lovely morning tea.  Dear Sally had already chosen a seat inside the cafe as she knew I hate the heat, and we sat and chatted non-stop over our coffees (mine iced and hers hot!).  We put the world to rights, spoke about motherhood, our love for craft and creativity and how we both view it as a necessity in our lives; food for the soul.  We talked about how we're all caught in a consumer society that puts little value on unique, handmade goods - when did we all begin to want to be the same as everybody else? 

One of the best things I got out of today though was when I was explaining that I don't use my little studio as much as I want to, and that I don't produce as many art works as I would like.  Sally asked straight out why was that - and I floundered around for answers; the best I could come up with was that I was scared no-one would like my work!  It sounded so silly to my ears and I realized that I'm just making excuses.  So, thank you Sally for your wonderful honesty, your hints on crafting, crochet and blogging, but most of all your company - it was a great way to start my day and how wonderful to meet someone in the 'real' world that I'd first met in the virtual world of blogging.  The community spreads a little wider :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Treasures I find ...

Sometimes when I am walking through the forest, certain pieces 'call to me' and I have to pick them up.  This time it was this partly burned stick, with a wonderful gnarled head.  As I walked along I wondered what I was going to make with it, it even looked like it might become Charlie's chew toy at one point.  It was only as I was approaching home that I was mulling over how it could be a walking staff if it was longer, when my arty mind took over and had the idea to make an art doll who could use it as a staff.  From my medicine doll coursework I still have to make my Talisman doll and this stick is going to be perfect.  So now it sits on my bookshelf and I look at it everyday and spend some time thinking about the creation of my doll.  It won't happen for a while yet - bringing a doll to life takes a long time!

What do you think of my fabric?  The jolly robin fabric is going to be used in my November sewing challenge very shortly.  I was ironing the pieces after washing them for shrinkage allowance when I thought how gorgeous they all looked together.  Yummy colours.  Still haven't worked out what I'm going to make from the troll fabric, but it looked like such fun.  When I was at university I had a small yellow haired troll that I'd bought at a Spar shop!  This fabric was bought through sheer sentimentality!  But isn't it gorgeous!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Divine Didi Dolls

What a lovely surprise arrived for me in the post on Friday - a gift of a Didi doll from Claire at Felt Like Stitchin' (who I met when we were both taking part in Blogtober 2010).  Isn't Flossi just gorgeous? 

Beautiful stitching - take a look:

And it even has a teeny tiny pocket on the back with her name tag in it!

It's so gorgeous - pop over to the Felt Like Stitchin website so you can purchase your own delightful Didi doll!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sometimes I just can't blog ...

Not blogging tonight. Just haven't got the heart :(  I've just had to put eyedrops in Little Man's eyes as he's not too well at the moment and he disapproved in the most major way; I feel like the worst mum EVER.  He did ask me for a hug before I put out the light, so at least I know he still loves me. xx

Back tomorrow.  Wherever you are, have a beautiful day (or night!) xx

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Let's talk about the weather ...

Sunshine trickling through the trees behind our house in early summer
It's been such a fresh day - rain after hot weather always seems to refresh both the atmosphere and the spirit.  When we went for our walk today we could smell the eucalyptus in the air and the promise of clear summer days to come.  Heavenly.

Summer is such an energetic time - people come out of hibernation and enjoy time with friends and families, barbecues galore, spending time in the fresh air after being cooped up for winter.  Summer and its heat revives people (I find staying in the air-con has that effect on me too, but you still need the heat to make that work ...)  I'm really hoping that I'm acclimatizing a bit more and that I'll be slightly less grumpy this year!

I still can't get used to Christmas in the blistering sunshine though!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A sea of crochet

OK - so my Granny a Day Challenge has changed into more of a Granny Every Few Days Challenge!  I've been catching up with my granny squares over the past couple of days - my next project to be finished is a black and coloured little number.  Crochet is a fantastic crafty activity as the weather gets warmer, especially when you're working with small squares, as there's no weight as such to make you feel stifled.  I really don't need anything else to make me grumpy when it's hot!  It makes my family a lot happier too :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dare to daydream ...

As I may have mentioned my new favourite hobby is going for walks in the bush with my dog Charlie.  It's so peaceful in the forest, you can lose yourself in your thoughts - as I often do!  The other day I walked past my usual landmarks without even noticing and ended up in a completely different direction to the one I intended.  My concentration was only broken by magpies swooping Charlie as he dared to walk by their nests. 

What was I doing with my quiet time?  Simply daydreaming.  Dreaming about my art, projects I want to complete, people I want to connect with very soon, what I'm going to write about in my blog ... and so it goes on.  But it's healthy to daydream - you become aware of your inner thoughts, dreams for the future, choices you can make, to be inspired.  So I say to you all - take a part out of your day to daydream and just 'to be'.  Having 'me time' is vital to your overall health.  Take some time out :)