Friday 25 December 2015

What's Mummy Been Up To of late? ...

Hello lovely people in blog-land.  I'm so behind on the posts I had planned for this year, but I thought I'd fill you in on why I've been MIA lately.  We've had a hectic but exciting time over the last few months, but there has still been time for some crafting, sewing and cooking.  Here's what Mummy's been up to:

Firstly, back in August we decided to sell our house and move to a new place ... not too far away from the old house really, but boy does it take a lot to prepare a house for sale!  And how all-encompassing is moving? ... emotionally, logistically, financially and did I mention emotionally. We only moved a month or so ago, and we're exhausted.  It's the first time we've sold and moved, so we've learned lots throughout this process, and we definitely have a new found respect for those who need to move regularly for work commitments or other reasons.  This is what our dining room looked like in the lead-up to our move ... I think we're pretty lucky we didn't lose either of the munchkins in the piles of boxes towards the end there.
Then we picked our last crop from our veggie garden, kissed our house goodbye (literally ... we're a little nutty like that!) and moved to our new home.
We didn't waste any time, and in an attempt to help the girls adjust and make the new house feel like their home, we got straight into the painting.  Each of them chose their colours (well, Hannah had a little help ... I had to adjust her colour choice from "rainbow walls Mummy" to mauve walls with the promise of some rainbow stickers).
We have since also had new carpet laid, so it was fun to just paint away without worrying about making a mess on the carpet.  The girls loved the painting, and Bethany's edging work was definitely the best ... she's a perfectionist, that girl, and with painting it totally pays off!

Then came all the end-of-year fun like this gorgeous ballerina's little ballet concert.  This included a Rapunzel-themed costume which she thought was the best thing ever!  We love our ballet because it's really low-key and just lets little girls be little girls without the make-up, big concerts, big concert rehearsals or expensive costumes.  

Since June, I've been working on a Christmas swap, the Santa Sack Swap  hosted by Cheryll at Gone Stitchin'.  This was my second year doing this swap, and I'll definitely be signing up again next year.  It's a really fun one.  When I signed up back in June I had no idea that we would be packing up and moving, and I did have a small panic when I remembered that I had committed to this swap which would be due to post off just the week before we moved, but to be truthful, this swap kept me sane during the craziness of moving.  It was lovely to have a project to work on here and there during that time.  

I was partnered with the lovely Noela, and she sent me the most amazing package of goodies.  The girls and I had a brilliant time opening them and marvelling at Noela's very impressive handiwork.

She made this beautiful patchwork tote, which will be just perfect for carrying around some crochet projects I have planned for this coming winter.  The fabrics are just lovely, and ric-rac ... I love it!  Noela is clearly a very experienced patchwork and quilting expert.
My favourite part though, is the beautiful embroidery on the front of the tote ... just perfect given our recent move.

Noela also gave me a gorgeous pin-cushion and sewing caddy complete with a cute little pair of embroidery scissors ... 

... the cutest little snow man christmas decoration ...

... a little felt bag with another amazing embroidery (I'm a beginner embroiderer, and Noela's beautiful stitching just left me in awe!) ... this was Hannah's favourite ... I'm sure she loved it because of the bag, and not because of the goodies inside, right!?! ...

... a beautiful embroidered monogram mat ...

And Bethany's favourite ... a gorgeous Christmas wall hanging, with the most adorable appliqu├ęs.  Bethany carried this around the house to find the perfect position for it to hang so that everyone entering our house would see it.  She just loves this one!

These are the goodies I sent to Noela.  She indicated she would like a stocking this year, so that was my starting point, and the rest just followed!

A Christmas Stocking ... (found the free pattern for this via Pinterest, and thought it was cute for something different!) and a little coordinating Christmas dove decoration.

A Christmas Apron ...

A little shopping list folder, in which I also included a sewing kit ... for those times when there's a wardrobe malfunction whilst you're out and about ...

Some crocheted coasters ...

And a little monogramed zipper-pouch with matching tissue holder (oh, and this is the front of the little folder)
Noela has written to tell me that she loves her goodies, and has put some of them straight to use.  I'm so glad she liked them.  Aren't swaps just the best thing!  The idea of making something for a stranger and making a new friend in the process is just awesome I think.

Shortly after this, we then celebrated Hannah's 4th birthday, just 2 days before Christmas, and she is stoked to tell everyone "Do you know I'm 4 now!".

Even though we've been extra busy this year, I did manage to find some time for our annual Christmas baking treat for friends and family.  It doesn't really feel like Christmas for me until some baking is underway.  This year I made caramels ... they're chewy, smooth, buttery and terribly unhealthy.  Pinterest helped me out and I found this recipe.  I just wrapped these little morsels in baking paper squares and popped a handful into tiny christmas gift bags for each recipient.  Yum!

So, whether you've had a busy time like us, or if you've been able to slow down and fully enjoy the joy of Christmas time this year, I wish you all the most blessed of Christmases, and a fantastic year to follow.  I'll be setting up my new sewing room over the coming weeks, and then I have lots planned including a few new tutorials for the new year, so stay tuned. 

Oh, and this beauty is taking pride of place on display in my new sewing room.  Isn't he lovely!  

Monday 12 October 2015

A Little Girl Gift Idea

It can be really hard to find age-appropriate, yet fun and unique gifts for kids these days, huh!  Well, it was my niece's 11th birthday last week.  She's a keen ballerina, loves her art and is such a beautiful little thing.  Daddy had a great idea about getting her some clothing and letting her decorate it herself with fabric markers because she adores drawing and colouring.  Well, I just loved this idea, especially as it gave me the perfect excuse to pick up some of the Colour Me Fabric designed by Hayley of Welcome to the Mouse House for Michael Miller, which I've been looking for a reason to buy for the longest time.  I follow Hayley on Instagram, and have watched as she's created these fabrics.  I was so excited when I discovered them at a fabric store here in Australia.  In case you're wondering, I picked them up at Craft Depot.
Anyway, what to make!?!

I pretty quickly decided I'd make the birthday girl a basic elastic-waisted skirt, just because it would be fun to colour and wear her creation. I chose the paisley design for that.  I loved the idea that she could choose certain parts to colour, or she could colour the whole thing, or she could do it bit by bit with the skirt evolving with every wear.  
I also found this ballerina design which I thought would be lovely for her, but maybe a little too young for her to wear, being a tween and all.  So, in the end I grabbed a metre of the ballerina, and a metre of the paisley designs, and off I went.
After some thought, I decided that I'd make a cushion cover from the ballerina fabric for the birthday girl to decorate and use in her room.  I'm so glad I did, because she  loved this pillow and snuggled right into it.  And as we were having a family lunch to celebrate the birthday girl over the weekend, I thought it might be fun for the girls to all do some colouring after lunch together.  And it was perfect. From the 1 metre of paisley fabric, I managed to squeeze out a skirt for the birthday girl, and one for Bethany.  Then I divided the metre of ballerina fabric into a little skirt for Hannah and a 50"square cushion cover. I forgot to get a pic of the cushion, but it was a basic square with a zip in one side to allow the insert to be put in and out for washing.

For the skirts, I simply used the fabric width, cut to the right length and added a couple of inches for hemming and waist-band.  I sewed the side-seam and hem, then folded the top down 1/4", then another 1" and sewed around to create an elastic casing (leaving a 1" gap to insert the elastic).  I threaded the 3/4" elastic through, sewed the gap shut, and done!!  These skirts literally take about 15 minutes from start to finish.
All that was left was to grab a cushion insert and some fabric pens.  I found both of these at Ikea.  The cushion insert was the perfect fit, and was only $5, and the fabric pens were great for just over $5.  It's worth shopping around for the fabric pens, as the ones I initially found in a craft shop were $16.  What a big difference, huh!
So, the birthday girl loved her gift, and all 3 girls enjoyed some craft time together, which is always a good thing.  The two bigger girls spent time comparing colour choices and helping each other decide which parts to colour, and Hannah had a ball being included with the big girls, and getting some extra help from the adults around too.  Oh, and just a tip ... we slid a piece of cardboard between the front and back of the skirt to stop the pens from seeping through and marking the other side of the skirt.
Daddy took some great shots of the girls hard at work...
Here's the birthday-girl's artwork so far!
And here's Bethany.  She's such a perfectionist with her colouring!
Oh, and little Hannah looked so cute concentrating hard on colouring a ballerina's hair blue!
And here's where they were up to by the end of the day ... Hannah had some help from her doting great-aunts.  I think adults can have just as much fun with this as kids!
So, I think this is a keeper of a gift idea for a little girl.  And I think it's the perfect excuse to stock up on some of the Colour Me fabrics for my stash ... you know, just in case a quick little girl gift is needed any time!

Sunday 13 September 2015

Out of the Comfort Zone and Loving It!

This post is brought to you by Nuffnang and Spotlight.
So, I'm not a knitter ... have never been a knitter ... have tried and it just hasn't clicked with me ... crochet any day, but not knitting ... UNTIL NOW!

I was asked if I'd like to try out some lovely cotton yarn and some knitting needles from Spotlight, and I was like ... "Yarn, well of course!"  And then this lovely package of brightly coloured cotton arrived together with some cool green knitting needles, and I suddenly thought ... "What have I done? ... Knitting!!!"  After some deep breathing into a paper-bag, I realised that this would be a great chance to have a go at some knitting... sometimes it's good to step out of the comfort zone after-all, huh!  A change is as good as a holiday, and all that ... right!

I had to see my Mum (aka ... Knitting Extroadinare) and she suggested having a go at a Dolly-sized Kina.  Now a Kina is this gorgeous little short-sleeve cardigan pattern, and one that my Mum has knitted many times after seeing it in blog-land.  In fact she's made one for each of my girls, one for me and one for herself, as well as several others including a couple of the dolly-sized ones.   Here's Hannah in her lovely green Kina.
Anyway, I had a look at the pattern and realised that the dolly-size is a free pattern (with 2 sizes to choose from), it's knitted all in one piece, only uses knit and purl stitches, and seemed like a nice quick project which I was definitely going to need if I was to be successful in knitting something.  Just perfect for a beginner.  

So I got dressed into my Kina too ... you know, for added inspiration in the hope of channelling my inner-Kina... I grabbed this gorgeous fuchsia cotton (available from Spotlight here) along with my funky green knitting needles and cast on the little Kina.  Who knew I'd even be able to remember how to cast-on, but I actually managed it.  My happy-dance was short-lived though, as I soon got stuck, but after another visit with my Mum for her to help me get my head around the increasing, I was off and running.  
And after that, this little cardi came together in one evening, complete with a sparkly button from my stash because, well .... SPARKLY!
And there you have it ... I'm out of the comfort zone, and loving it ... now I'm even looking for other knitting patterns for using the rest of this yarn ... maybe something in a bigger size next time.  
So about the yarn... It's called Flinders, and its 100% cotton from Spotlight.  This is 8 ply and it's really soft and lovely.  I've always preferred the feel of cotton over acrylic or even wool, and these 50 gram balls are no exception.  I'm lucky enough to have a Spotlight close to home, and I'm definitely a frequent visitor for pretty much anything crafty that I need ... fabrics, buttons, yarns, and anything else I can find when I'm there (I never just come out with what I went in for ... it's actually a running joke in my house!).  But for those of you who can't get there, did you know that Spotlight have a website? ... You can totally order online.  I had a quick look, and these yarns are $3.99 per ball at the moment.  Not bad at all for 100% cotton.  It knitted up beautifully, with no splicing, and the little Kina is so very soft. I actually think this yarn would be lovely for a crochet (or knitted) throw rug.  It's smooth and soft and with the gorgeous colour range, there's sure to be a colour to suit any project.
So, step out of your comfort zone and try a new craft ... you won't be sorry, and how lovely to have another craft option to choose from now ... you know, when I'm not crocheting, or sewing or doing anything else I can think of to avoid housework! 
Oh, and I think Dolly is pretty stoked with her new Kina too, don't you!

Monday 31 August 2015

The new season of The Book of Once Upon a Time by Disney Junior

This post in brought to you by Nuffnang and Disney.
Story time is one of our favourite times of the day … it’s a win : win for everyone really.  Our girls are transported into imaginary worlds whilst increasing their vocabulary and enjoying 100% adult attention, whilst Mummy (or Daddy for that matter) lap up the cuddles as we snuggle close together so everyone can see the pictures.  We love books and reading.

Well, I’m excited to be able to share today about the launch of the second season of Disney Junior’s The Book of Once Upon a Time.  Now, whilst I wholly advocate reading with our kids, this is fantastic for something a little different, and is also a great idea as a wind-down-to-bedtime activity.  These stories can even be used as a little pre story-time before your usual bedtime reading ritual, and is complete with a sweet little lullaby at the end.  What a great tool to signal bedtime to little ones.
The Book of Once Upon A Time is a series of Disney stories, which are shared in the most fun and magical way by Aussie Actor and Playwright Kate Mulvany.  The stories air on the Disney Junior Channel (Foxtel Channel 709, and SKY Channel 105) weeknights at 7:10pm, and are also available online here.   You can even download the stories as eBooks from iTunes here.  We don’t have Foxtel at home, so we’ve had a look at the stories online, and both my girls were mesmerized.   We’ve watched the Snow White and Rapunzel stories so far, but can’t wait to check out the Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty and of course the Frozen stories, among others.  Kate Mulvany has a great story telling style, which just captures the kids’ attention and has them enthralled in these traditional Disney stories.  And who doesn’t love a Disney story, right!?!  To think the same stories I grew up with are now being enjoyed by my kiddos.  In a world where things change so quickly, sometimes the good old stuff lasts the distance, huh!

Another thing I like about these stories is the attention to detail.  Even though the stories are presented on the TV / computer / handheld screen, Disney have paid attention to traditional story time themes with page-turning and illustrations, but have added some little touches of animation for some extra fun.  It’s really well done.  We as parents are always looking to stimulate the girls’ imaginations, and this kind of story telling is just the ticket. They love it, and I love watching them engage … especially for Hannah, who is 3 … this little one has an amazing imagination.  The stories are great for developing her language skills too.  

Don’t worry, you can still totally read your own books with your kids and enjoy snuggles with the kids afterwards, or, who am I kidding … snuggle up and watch The Book of Once Upon A Time stories with them … who can say no to an extra cuddle with a freshly-bathed, pyjama-clad little munchkin anyway?

So, here’s the premiere episode “Snow White and the Great Jewel Hunt” for you to enjoy.  Just grab your nearest munchkin and check it out.

Thursday 30 July 2015

Pattern Test: The Ileana Dress

Now I can finally share the other recent pattern test I've done, and that I've been teasing you with on Instagram and Facebook ... I had so much fun with this one, I actually ended up making 2 dresses ... I couldn't resist.  Introducing the Ileana Dress from Compagnie M.  Oh, and if you use the code ILEANA10 you'll get a discount on both the printed and digital patterns...just sayin'!
So for Bethany's size 8 dress I chose the following options ... Bow collar, half-circle skirt, classic bodice, cap-sleeve and drop-shaped pockets.
This pattern has soooooo many options.  I love it for that.  In one pattern you can make so many different dresses.  There is such variety that you wouldn't even know they were from the same pattern.  That's what I call value!  I absolutely think this will become one of my all time favourite staple patterns.  Let me list some of the options:  Firstly you can choose whether to do a full or half circle skirt, then you can choose the collar - a floral collar, a bow collar, a rounded peter-pan collar or a pointed peter pan.  You can also choose whether to do half collars or full collars.  And we haven't even spoken about the 3 faux placket options yet, not to mention the sleeve options, or sleeveless of course, and the option to do a raglan bodice, and the pockets, oh the pockets...  So as you can see, you can get just as creative as you like.
To be honest the number of options gave me a slight panic-attack at first, but I soon found that once I had picked my options, the dress came together so easily.  Once again Marte's instructions and pictures are fantastic, and I can claim that my zip-phobia is now well under control.  Marte taught me with this pattern to install my very first (and second) invisible zips.  I've never seen instructions quite so easy to follow for zips.  It completely dissipated my zip anxiety, and made me wonder why I've been so stressed out by zips to date.  I might be a little addicted to them now.  I've also used her instructions when making a couple of dresses with exposed zips too ... I'm on a zip roll.
Oh, and do you like this fabric?  I picked it up for $2 a metre at my local fabric store.  Couldn't leave it there for that.  It's totally not my usual colour pallet, but something drew me to it and I thought it was perfect for one of Marte's designs.  Bethany likes it too.  She says it makes her look like an adult ... I guess when you're 7, that's pretty much the best thing ever.  How things change, huh!  

Anyway, after watching the tester-group design and show their dresses during the testing period, I just HAD TO try the floral collar.  This time I chose a daisy print from my stash and made up a size 4 for Hannah.
This dress just screams spring, and being in the middle of a cold-snap in Sydney, spring is totally what I'm longing for.
So again, I chose the classic bodice with the cap sleeve, and the half-circle skirt.  And this time I added a full floral collar.  So cute!
So, for my next Ileana, I think I'll try a raglan option, with a half-raglan sleeve and a faux placket.  

And a big thanks to Marte for having me to test again on this one.  I had a blast!!