Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fete Nights and Fabric Love

I'm finding it really hard to keep up my challenge of posting every day. I find that as the weather gets cooler I get more energetic. That means I get out and about a bit more and less time sitting on the lounge blogging away. The house has also been quite neglected of late and I have had to start doing some "in depth" housework. Let's just say that if Halloween was tomorrow I wouldn't need any fake cobwebbing to decorate.

Last Friday night it was my turn to host the fete stall craft night. You might recall that earlier in the year I put my hand up to organise the craft stall at our school fete. Unfortunately not many parents from the school have donated craft items at this time so we are busy making our own.

Once a month one of the "crafty" mums hosts the craft evening and we all get together for some laughs and crafts. Hey, that rhymes!

It was my turn on Friday night and as I have a small ( I like to call it cute) house it was quite a feat to fit us all in but we managed. Here is one of the tables of ladies fueled up on wine and water and ready to go.

Here are 2 examples of what we managed to create. They are the cardstock notepads that I have shown you earlier in the year. They are like a portfolio and open up to reveal a notepad, calendar and some sticky notes.

Some more samples. We all love the one on the left made by the lovely Julie Johnson. Has such a retro feel. I think that one might get purchased before it gets to the craft stall.

I also received some lovely new fabric last week from Ebay. It is an Alexander Henry fabric called "Children of the World". I just fell in love with it. It has rows of children holding hands in a variety of traditional customs and dress.

I covered the large canvas above Rhianna's desk with the fabric and rehung it. It was time for some new fabric anyway. Such a cheap and easy way to add some joy to a little person's room don't you think? Have a great week everybody.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Donating Books

As most people who read this blog know Bill and I are bookaholics. One of our favourite things to do is wander around dusty old bookshops looking for that elusive "gem" that we don't own and haven't read yet. We are so book addicted we have a bookcase in our bedroom for those midnight fixes. And yes, we do read books in the early hours of the morning if we can't sleep.

Which is why the following statistics stunned me:

61% of low income families have no books in their homes.

43% of adults with a low literacy level live in poverty. In contrast, only 4% of adults with strong literacy skills live in poverty.

Children who grow up with a large variety of books in their home have been shown to be more creative, imaginative and proficient in reading.

We have so many books they even get their own chair to sit on. These are current bedtime reads.

I encourage you to go through your bookcase this weekend and pick out 10 books you know you are never going to read again. Deliver them to the local school, preschool or womens shelter.It's something good you can do for the environment and your local community that is low on effort and high on feel good factor.

Oops, more books in the bedroom waiting for a home

The hard part for me (as you can see) is physically separating myself from what I consider to be my very close friends. I mean, Pride and Prejudice has been my very close chum through about 8 boyfriend breakups now. So of course, there are books that must stay with you for life.

But I'm sure like myself you have lots of books that are just filling up space on the bookshelf. Just see if you can give away 10 this week - especially childrens books which are so desperately important in the development of literacy skills in our young.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dinner Parties versus Discos

One of my favourite things to do as grown up is to attend dinner parties. I quite happily made the change from spending Saturday nights on a noisy dancefloor to sitting sedately round a dinner table many years ago. I especially like to attend other people's dinner parties because you get all the fun with none of the work (until it's your turn of course).

My friend Natalie has the best dinner parties. We cancel almost any other event to attend a "do" at her place. Natalie aways has lashings of great food, the most divine wine and desserts that would make you cry with happiness. An added bonus is that most people attending chose to have their children at the same time we did and therefore the party also supplies endless entertainment for our 6 year old.

Autumn and Winter are prime dinner party seasons as it's just so nice to spend the evening around the table chatting with friends while the kids run amok in their jammies around the house. I'm almost inspired to host one myself soon.

I also love a dinner party where you're invited to stay for the night. So do the kids, who never seem to tire of each others company no matter how many hours they've been together.

These 2 girls (and their mothers) have known each other for many years now. Natalie and I even have the same taste in childrens clothes we discovered the next morning when the our girls went to get dressed.
If you have some good friends living nearby I highly recommend having a dinner party over the Winter months. It's a very nice way to pass a Saturday evening. (Thanks Natalie and Russell).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Quiet Week (so far)

I've been a bit quiet on the blog this week as there really is not a lot to tell. I've had to catch up on a lot of household tasks that had sort of gotten behind with all the creative stuff we've been doing and the not so creative stuff like sitting on our bums watching telly when I should be ironing.

But its lovely to have the fire on now. Not during the day yet but around 4pm when that sun starts to drop, on goes the fire. It's not a real fire. Its one of those gas ones that looks like it has actual logs in it. All the heat without the mess. And I like to call it the fire as it makes me feel all English countryside.

When not watching the TV, I've been curled up on the sofa or better still off to my bed with some delicious reading and even more delicious chocolate. I'll worry about the calorie fallout from this activity in spring.
Our craft stall for the school fete is coming along nicely. We've had one craft night already where a bunch of us Year One Mums got together to make some stock for the stall.

Meanwhile another crafty Mum - Emma, has been busy making these - bookmarks. I've already snapped up 2, for Miss R and myself. And I've put it into my new book purchase. It's a second hand book - and has some great articles in it. A lot of them were written in the 1950's. So much has changed since the 1950's but not the fundamental things that make up feel happy and content so this book still feels relevant.

Bill has bought me home 2 bunches of flowers already this week. I don't know whether I should be elated or suspicious. Hmmm.......

Love the colour of these

And last weekend Rhianna asked for a blog of her own. Broc was kind enough to set one up for her.

I don't suspect she'll have many followers. l mean how many people want to know what's happening in the local school playground. But I figure the writing and typing is all good literacy experience.

Here she is busily blogging away before school this morning.

Hope your week is a little more exciting than mine.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Coughs, Colds and Craft

It's an absolute cough and cold fest in this house at the moment. I'm still as sick as a dog, Bill is on the improve and Rhianna, whilst sick, refuses to acknowledge the discomfort and phlegm in case she should have to miss anything - like parties or trips to the playground.

The only two not suffering are my two lovely boys below.

Nothing like a bit of pottering and a bit of craft to lift your spirits (or send you mad) when you are down. I had planned these activities for Rhianna anyway. They just took a bit longer to do with one hand making paper flowers and the other hand stuck inside a tissue box.

We used magazines and odd craft papers to cut out and assemble petals which we then stuck onto pencils rolled in greeny paper to represent stems. I admit its not brain surgery but i's all I could manage craft wise when I am this sick.

I'd bought these doilies a while back, for what purpose I did not know. Sometimes I just buy things for the shape or colour or cuteness factor and I figure I'll think of something to do with them eventually. Today we dyed them using food colouring - very messy business that was.

Then strung them up garland style in the dining room

I've been looking at a few blogs lately with various ladies talking about their "creative" spaces.
They are all visions of loveliness and organisation. Unfortunately my house has no room for a seperate creative space, believe me I've tried numerous times to create one. But short of the children leaving home there is no room left at the inn for such selfish ideals as "one's own space".

But then I realised that my dining room and my kitchen are my creative space. I live in my creative space every day. I blog on the lounge, I cook in the kitchen, we eat that creation of food in the dining room. And then we clear the table to craft.

The whole area is a creative space. And for some reason that little thought cheered me up immensely. I am a simple soul.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Tale of Two Afghans

Hooray I have finally finished my first knitting project. For those who did not know, I was knitting a little lap rug (or afghan) for my daughter Rhianna. And here it is, in all its very homemade glory.

There are so many hours of my time lying there on that floor. Luckily Rhianna said that she loved in when she got in from school (lucky for her).

I backed the afghan with some multi -coloured polka dot flannelette. It gives it a bit more weight and hides all the errors on the other side.

And I was in sheer ecstasy today when my afghan from Marsha in the US of A turned up. The guy delivering the package thought I was delusional as I started screaming when I saw the US postage marks on the box. And here she is.....

Now that I have Marsha's wonderful work lying next to mine, I think I'll leave the yarn and wool projects to those who obviously know what they're doing. I have a lot of talents but knitting and crochet are not amongst them. And honestly, with wool being so expensive I can save the money and put it towards somebody else's creative genius.

My next project, which I am starting next week is a kaiserkraft recipe box. I have to say I do enjoy creative projects that can be knocked over in a day. Patience has never been my strong point. And to spend so much time on a blanket that looks pretty average has depressed me a little.

I know many of you are thinking that I just need to practice, practice, practice but quite honestly I'd rather do other things with my limited time. We have such a finite amount of time on this earth that I'm happy to let others be the yarn queens and move onto other things - like double chocolate mousse which I'm about to attempt now.

Have a good weekend everybody.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Helping the Hungry

The other day whilst entering our local supermarket, a lady was standing at the entrance collecting food for charity. I went over to her and asked what types of food they really needed the most. She said "cereals" as these are really quite expensive for low income earners and benefit recipients.

Food is the second largest expense for families. A lot of families have limited access to decent healthy food due to lack of money and other resources. That includes many children who need those nutrients for growth and development.

Many soup kitchens in the Sydney area alone serve around 1000 meals a week to the less fortunate. And one in four people in a soup kitchen line is a child.

If you can give some food to the needy, can you do so this week. The Salvation Army and St Vinnies accept all non perishable food.

It's absolutely horrid to think of little children going hungry especially in this cold weather.

Hope everybody is enjoying this woolly weather as much as I am - although I have the most horrible sniffles.

It's starting to get a bit wintery out there now isn't it? I'm loving this colder weather, especially at night time when we all snuggle under the extra layers on the bed. I am in bliss under all my vintage eiderdowns. I bet there are a few readers out there who have never even heard of that word before - eiderdown. It's what doonas used to be called when I was little.

Unfortunately I have succumbed to the household illness doing the rounds. I woke up yesterday with a sore throat, runny nose, watery eyes and a headache. Nothing for it but to lay on the lounge all day. Luckily I had stocked up on some new loves, oops, I mean books to keep me company for the day.

The new arrivals
Did you notice that they are lying on the blanket I have knitted for Miss Rhianna. Not quite finished yet. I will have the big reveal soon. But don't get too excited as my blanket is the very essence of "homemade".

First book I purchased is "Homemade" (what a funny co-incidence) which was co-written by Elspeth Thompson.

I have followed Elspeth's blog for a couple of years and logged on last week to congratulate her on her new book only to read a short post by her husband saying that Elspeth had committed suicide a few days prior. I can't tell you the absolute shock I felt upon reading this.

In her previous post there is no hint that all is not well. And she was such an accomplished person writing books and the like. But depression has no mercy even on the very talented, creative and just plain lovely people of the world. I suffer from depression myself and this was a timely reminder to keep taking my medications and to remind myself that we all have our demons to battle in this life.
The book is lovely and I got my copy in Big W. Have a look, it really is a gorgeously styled book.

Second book is the Cath Kidston book called MAKE. I adore her craft and sewing projects and it looks pretty easy. The pictures are very English and kitschy.

The last book I bought was a a bit of a bargain purchase from Lincraft. It's a papercraft book so it has a mix of scrapbook ideas and lots of other cool things to do with paper and cardstock.

Anyway, I am inspired by all this printed goodness and cold weather to get creative. Hopefully I'll get back here to post some results. But first, the knitted blanket needs to be completed. One project at a time.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Homemade Gift

We have had one of the first little girl parties of the year yesterday. And a perfect opportunity to get started on my homemade gifts.

I've been dying to make this brownie jar. It contains all the dry ingredients needed to make a quick mix brownie. The dry ingredients are layered up the jar to create a sand jar effect.

All that needs to be added are eggs and butter. In order from the bottom are flour and baking powder, cocoa, sugar, choc bits and coloured mini marshmallows. So easy and (I think) so cute.

I've added the recipe to the front of the jar and prettied up the top a little with some scrappy bits and pieces.

Yesterday was a bit of a day out for me. I had both my hubby and son home sick so I wasn't about to hang around all day playing nurse maid. I did that on Sunday when it should have been Mother's Day.

I'm loving my stationery at the moment and picked up these bits and pieces. What I'm going to use them for, I have no idea but that's not really the point with pretty stationery is it? For me just looking at them and ohhing and ahhing over them is almost enough.

Hope you are enjoying your week.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Some crafty fun was had today and I have to say, I love it when I find a little project that uses up all the stuff I already have. Saves my money and my patience. Today we made some little pom pom owls. We had a bit of wool lurking around from the blanket I am knitting and the rest is just felt pieces and googly eyes. They are really cute and we had a lot of fun making them.

Here are the 2 new owly friends perched on the mantlepiece.

The thing I find most annoying as a mother is that I constantly put everybody else in the family before myself. And nowhere is this more evident than in the night wear department.

Look at what I have been wearing to bed for the past 2 winters. A pair of my darling husband's old tracksuit pants and his old sailing jumper. Very warm and comfy but not the least bit feminine or dare I say it, romance inducing.

So, time for some new additions. Now, I am aware that I have bought basically the same thing that I already had, that is, big sloppy pants and a loose sweater type thing. But they are new, they were from the womens department and most importantly they are pink.

At this time of the year there is nothing I love more after a busy day then to have a lovely warm bath, pop on my (new) jammies and settle in for a night of telly and knitting.

Even our dog Finn is enjoying the Autumn weather and has taken to curling up on the lounge at night time in blissful slumber.

Hope everybody is having a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hooray for Autumn

Well autumn is well and truly here judging by the temperature this morning around 7am. But I am not complaining. I am loving it. How can I not be happy with the cooler weather, the start of Term 2 at school and this beautiful view out my dining room window.

However life is pretty ordinary around here lately. Much of the sameness day in and day out.

Not a lot new and exciting to blog about I am afraid. The weather has had my thoughts turning to more and more craft projects. If only I could stay awake longer at night time to start any of them.

I find the cooler weather sees me climbing into bed around 8pm with Miss Rhianna to knit and read books. We cuddle up together and most of the time my lovely hubby will bring us down some hot chocolates to lush around in bed with. Who wants to sit hunched over a sewing machine when you can be doing that instead?

But I did manage to drag old Bertha (the sewing machine) out for a little sew up of the knitting squares yesterday.

Does anybody but me (and my friend Julie) remember a magazine out a few years ago called Family Circle? Well it went out of circulation because only tragics like me were buying it. It was a very family oriented magazine with lots of parenting articles, craft and cooking. Since all that home stuff is currently back in vogue, I should not have been surprised to see its reappearance at the newsagents yesterday. Oh Joy......

And inside a very tempting new knitting project for me to get started on.

And finally I get started on some cooler weather cooking. I wonder if you can guess what is on the menu for tonight? One of my favourites with some crusty bread rolls from the bakery.

Keep your beanies and scarves handy today.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Love on a Tuesday Afternoon.

Time for a bit of baking.

It's been quite a while since I've baked something new. I really needed something to inspire me and then Donna Hay appeared in the Sunday morning paper. And suddenly I felt some inspiration hit.

She had a recipe for Melting Moments. My all time favourite biscuits. I've been known to pay up to $3.50 for one of these babies in an up market cafe. And who knew they were so easy to make?

The hardest part was making sure that all the bickies are the same size so you can "glue" them together with the icing. Oh yummy, yum yum......

Of course there is nothing better to go with a lovely home baked biscuit than a cup of cold milk and piles of Milo floating on top. It says on the tin its full of its actually really, really good for you.

And then Miss R who is learning to read and write at a rapid rate presented me with a little plaque for the kitchen. Never have letter tiles been put to a better use. All this love...I'm enjoying every moment.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

We had a "home" weekend this past Saturday and Sunday. That means that we basically lie around in our jimmy jams all weekend doing as little as possible. We've had a busy few weeks and really needed to recharge our batteries.

I had a little smile when I got up on Sunday and saw all my knitting lined up on a shelf in the early morning sunshine. Not much more knitting to go now and I can sew it all up.

Next up we wanted some new art supplies - particularly some yummy pens for our planned art project today. We found these in the local $2 shop and look at all the yummy colours.

We spent a lot of time at this table this weekend making mandalas. They are our new art love at the moment. They gave us lots of opportunity to talk about pattern and sequence and all about colour wheels.
Here are some of the mandalas we made. It really was so much fun - very meditative and they really look colourful when we put them all together. We were stupidly happy with them.

Hope you all got up to a little bit more than us.