Thursday 22 December 2016

Christmas Swap Time

For the third year in a row now, I've participated in the Santa Sack Swap hosted by the lovely Cheryll.  It is by far the most fun swap I've participated in, which is why I keep coming back.

I love that there is 6 months to get to know your swap partner, and to dream up the lovely hand-made goodies to send, and I love that each swap partner I've had has been so lovely to get-to-know.

And this year, I was partnered with the amazing Lisa, of Lisa's Stitching Lounge.  She was a fantastic swap partner, and I just wanted to share the beautiful array of gifts she sent me.

Here they are:

Such a fun package of goodies:

This lovely tote, which is the perfect size for a bit of craft me-thinks, and this cute little crocheted snowman ... my girls love him!:

A beautiful Christmas placemat, and mini-stocking.  So adorable, and the perfect size for the little Christmas tissues Lisa included in there.  I think the placemat may be lovingly placed under a plate of cookies for Santa at our place this year by two excited little munchkins.

A beautiful handmade Christmas towel, and some Christmas gift-giving goodies.

And some super-cute little candy-cane tree ornaments.  This a such a great idea as a fun addition to the Christmas tree.

Thank you for these lovely, thoughtful gifts Lisa, and I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

And, just in case you're wondering what I sent to Lisa...  I managed to remember to take some snaps before mailing them this year.  Here's what Lisa has received, all of which are going on my list of fun and quick Christmas gifts for future years (if they're not already there)!  And with about a day and a half to go before Christmas, this might even be useful for this last minute gifts you've been aiming to make ... if you're anything like me that is!

A couple of Christmas-themed kitchen towels.  I used the free pattern here ...

A set of these cute crochet coasters.  I used a cotton yarn for these, and they came together so nicely.  I'm considering making myself some now.  I used this pattern.

This little notepad organiser.  This is a go-to gift for me.  I've made dozens of them over the past few years.  Hannah's pre-school teachers got them this year too.

There is a free tutorial for these here.  I love that this one is a great scrap buster too.  My favourite part of this project is picking the fabric combos.

I also made this little patchwork zipper pouch, in which I put some gummy lollies.  Lisa said she likes Gummies, so why not!?!
I added some pizzaz by doing a little embroidery.  I've used this embroidery design lots of time before too.  It's by Melly&Me and I first did it as part of an urban stitches sewing day a year or so ago, and here is one of the other projects I used it for.  I love it as a nice little touch to a project like this.

I also decided to try some patchwork pot-holders.  Whilst my quilting skills could definitely be improved, especially through the thicker heat-resistant batting, I think they turned out cute and functional, so I hope Lisa likes them.  I first saw them here, but I did change up the design a little as I went to accommodate my questionable skills!!  Ha ha!

And of course the stocking.  I cheated a little this year by using a Christmas stocking panel fabric that I was kindly gifted by a pre-school Mum last year.  But I really liked it, so why not!  It made for a quick, yet effective sew, and I even played with some of the decorative stitches on my machine for the toe and heel pieces.  I love the main print on this one.

And that's it for another fun Christmas swap.  I'm looking forward to participating again next year.

And from me to you, lovely readers, wishing you and your loved ones the happiest of Christmases.  We'll chat again soon!

Friday 18 November 2016

A Finley and Quinn Robe for Bethany

It has been FOREVER since I last posted.  This year has gone by in a flurry of settling into our house, then unsettling again to renovate, then trying to keep up with tradesmen and the kids and all else going on.  Anyhow, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel with the renos (more about that another time), and I'm so happy to be able to spend some more time with my blog, 'cause I love chatting with you guys!

Even though the year has been crazy I've kept myself sane with plenty of crafting, and I'm loving my first ever dedicated sewing room.  I feel very spoilt in this house to have it, and I love to tuck myself away in there to escape into my own creativeness for a bit.

One of my most recent sews was this lovely Finley and Quinn robe, which I was so super-lucky to test for Heidi of Pollywoggles.  I've tested for Heidi before, and when I saw the opportunity to test this amazing pattern I just couldn't say no.  Then to be invited to join the blog tour for this one as well ... well, that just makes it all the more fun!

So, for this project I took the time to go shopping for some fabric (rather than just using something from the stash because, well, I didn't have anything suitable any excuse for some fabric shopping, right!?!)  This pattern's great 'cause it will work for loads of different fabric types from fleece to fannel to cotton, and of course some minky.   This minky was on sale at my local fabric store, and blue is Bethany's favourite colour at the moment so it was just meant to be.  And boy is this robe soft and snuggly.  It did create a little fluffy snow-storm in my sewing room as I cut it out, but it was absolutely worth it for the end result, and I would highly recommend some minky when you have a go at this pattern.

So about the pattern ... Heidi has totally nailed this one in my opinion.  The length is great for a summer or winter weight robe, and the comfy loose-fitting style will suit any kiddo and is perfect for both boys and girls.  I also loved the way the collar goes on with this robe, and that Heidi has even thought to join the belt to the robe so it doesn't get lost ... no more searching for the belt, and finding it weeks later being used as teddy's scarf in the toy-box. (hmmmm we may have had a situation like that before in our house!)  Heidi has thought of everything.  It's an easy-to-follow pattern, and is recommended for a confident beginner, which I would totally agree with.  Anyway,  Bethany loves her new robe, and Hannah has told me in no uncertain terms that she needs a new robe too!  Lucky it's heading in to summer here in Sydney right now, so I've got a bit of time up my sleeve before she'll need it, huh!
So now for the important bit ... did you know you can get this pattern for FREE!!!!  Yep, the full Finley and Quinn pattern for all the sizes (12mths to size 10), and it's ABSOLUTELY FREE.  To get yours, head over to the Pollywoggles Patterns Sewing Circle group on Facebook, (and join up if you haven't already!) and you'll find the code to use when your order the pattern.  I just can't believe how generous this is when I've seen first hand some of the hard work with creating and testing and adjusting that Heidi has done to make sure this pattern is perfect.  It's free only for the rest of the year, so don't waste any time.

Oh, and if you head to the Facebook page or the website you'll also see some great pics of robes from some of the other testers.  It's one of the reasons I love pattern testing.  The same pattern can appear so different with another person's fabric choice or style options thrown in.  Did you see Zoe's post about her Finley and Quinn Robe yesterday? ... I love this fabric choice!

And coming up in the blog tour over the next few days are: The lovely Tamara from Lunatiek, then Bieke from Biezonder, and finally Rachelle from That's Sew Venice.   So much sewing talent right there with those ladies!

Anyway, thanks so much for having me Heidi, and of such a fun sew.

I'm hoping this post marks the beginning of some more regular posting from me, but we all know how life has a way of getting in the way sometimes.  I have a few drafts in the works, and I'm hoping to share them with you all soon!

Everyone loves a snuggly, warm, soft and comfy robe

Wednesday 16 March 2016

What Are My Amazing Readers Up To?

So, I thought it was about time I again shared some projects from some of you beautiful readers who have used my tutorials to create stuff.  I'm still absolutely astonished that people would even bother to read my posts, but it puts the biggest smile on my face when I receive emails or Facebook messages from people who show me what they've made.  Go ahead ... keep sending those pics to me.  I really love to hear from you.

Today I thought I'd focus on two such projects from just the last few weeks.  Both of these readers have used my Little Birdie Pinafore Tutorial.
Do you remember this one?   My, check out how little Hannah was, and she really did have hardly any hair for the longest time!!  Where do the years go?  Sigh!

Anyway, this was one of my earliest tutorials, and definitely one of the most popular that's still being found and Pinned regularly these days.  It is a fun, quick sew, and I've made probably 5-6 of these over the time since that post.  Most of them have been to use as a Dorothy dress-up, because it's a good one if you need a dress-up tomorrow and don't have a huge amount of time.  Couple it with some red shoes and a Toto in a basket, and off you go!

And a Dorothy dress-up is exactly what the amazing Sarah-Jane has made for her beautiful little one.  Check it out!!!
Sarah-Jane was so kind to send me a bunch of pictures, and I think this little costume is just divine.

And did you notice the shoes!!!!!!  Sarah-Jane actually up-cycled a pair of shoes into sparkly ruby slippers.  Swoon!!!  So, so cool!
Thank you so much for sharing this creation with me Sarah-Jane.

And take a look at this beauty from the lovely Carly.  She has made two of these pinafores.  One for her daughter and another for her niece.  That flamingo fabric is to-die-for, and the lace ... oh my ... the cuteness!  I love how Carly has managed to coordinate the pink and white spot fabric exactly with the flamingo colour.  It couldn't be more perfect, huh!
Thank you Carly for sharing this little piece of gorgeousness!

Oh, and if you've used any of my tutorials or recipes to make something, I'd love to see a pic.  You can contact me via email or on Facebook any time.

Thursday 18 February 2016

The Willow Dress

A few months ago now, I was lucky enough to be included in the pattern test for the gorgeous Willow Dress by Nikki of Bubby and Me.

What drew my eye to this tester call were the gorgeous little flutter sleeves, and the chance to mix knit and woven fabrics.  The skirt is made from a woven, and the bodice from a knit fabric.  It makes this dress so comfortable to wear, and easy to get on and off for little munchkins that insist they can do it all themselves, and "don't need your help Mum!".
So I whipped up two of these lovely dresses.  The first was a size 4 for Hannah.  I'm not sure what type of fabric the pink with white spot is that I used for the bodice on this one.  It's very synthetic-feeling, light-weight, and feels like it might have some lycra in there somewhere.  Anyway, Hannah loves it because it feels smooth, so this dress has become known as the "smooth dress!" in our house.
The skirt I made out of a lovely floral cotton woven fabric that I got on sale last year, and that had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to be used up.
I found this pattern so user friendly, and so easy to come together.  I haven't used clear elastic before, but it's a genius way to stabilise the waist-band onto the knit bodice,  especially for the pink knit that was very prone to fraying and laddering.  I think I'll be using that method again.
Anyway, as usual when I find a pattern I like, I just can't stop at 1, so I whipped up this size 7 for Bethany.  The red knit I had sitting in my stash (actually I think I may have stolen borrowed it from my Mum's stash some time ago).  I matched it up with this quilting-weight cotton fabric I have had sitting in the stash because I liked it's geometric print when I spotted it on the bargain table at my local fabric store eons ago.  Bethany has worn this dress a tonne over our summer, because it's just a super comfy and suitable-for-any-occasion type of dress.  
Anyway, so this pattern has now been released, and is available via the One Thimble ezine here.  Thanks for having me on the test Nikki!

Saturday 13 February 2016

A healthier Valentines Day Dessert Option with Ocean Spray

With this time of year comes all of those New Years Resolutions and trying to make this year a great year.  And luckily for those of us trying to be a little healthier, Ocean Spray has launched a Low Sugar version of it's Cranberry Drink.  I've loved Ocean Spray Cranberry forever, so when I was asked if I'd like to try the Ocean Spray Low Sugar Cranberry Fruit Drink, I was stoked.

So, not really as a new years resolution, but rather as a late-last-year resolution, Daddy and I have been trying to be healthier.  We're not focussing specifically on weight loss or on anything in particular, but since the reality check of Daddy having his cough-mumble-40th-mumble-cough birthday last year, we realised we're not getting any younger and we've been making a concerted effort to be healthier, move more and enjoy the extra energy and good health that comes with all of that.  We've been walking most days (we take it in turns, so that we can go for a walk on our own!!!! Bliss!), Daddy's joined the gym at his work, and has been enjoying some Kayaking, and I have recently started running (I'm doing the Couch to 5k 8-week program to help me get into it, and I'm loving it so far ... just finished week 3).  We're trying to eat fast-food less, and trying to be a little more careful about what we eat. Another thing we try to do is to avoid sugary drinks, and we all know juice is often just as sugary as soft-drink, so it's not always a better option, but water really does get boring, huh!  

Well, the Ocean Spray Low Sugar Cranberry Fruit Drink is a great low sugar option to consider.  It's only 10 calories per serve and is sweetened with Stevia.  If you like the regular Ocean Spray Cranberry Drink, then this could be a great swap option for steering clear of some sugar.
Anyway, I was gifted a few bottles of this yummy drink to try, along with this awesome red cooler bag ... it's already been put to good use when it accompanied the girls and I to the school swimming carnival last week.  Love a cooler bag that looks like a funky red shoulder bag!

We drank one bottle pretty much straight away, and it was a lovely change.  I then decided I'd be a little creative with my next bottle.  I decided to whip up a little dessert, using the Ocean Spray  Low Sugar Cranberry Fruit Drink, and with it's bright red colour, I thought this would be the cutest healthier-option Valentines Day dessert.
I made a Chia and Coconut Pudding with a Cranberry Jelly.  I love Chia, and it's another healthy option we've discovered.  I've made this dessert lots of times before, but the Cranberry Jelly was a fun variation, and just a bit special when served for 2 in a tall glass on Valentines Day.  Oh, and there are a tonne of Chia Pudding recipes around online, but here's how I make mine:

You'll Need:
- Powdered gelatine
- 2 tablespoons of Chia Seeds
- 1 cup Low Fat coconut Milk (tinned)
- 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup

(Serves 2, because that's romantic on Valentines Day ... it's easy to multiply the amounts to make more though!)

The How To:

1. Pour you Ocean Spray Low Sugar Cranberry Fruit Drink into a microwave bowl or jug, and heat for 2 minutes in the microwave.

2.  Add the powdered gelatine - follow the instructions on the pack as to amounts for setting 2 cups of liquid.  (I added 1 tablespoon).  Mix until the gelatine is dissolved.

3.  Line a lamington or sponge-cake tin with cling-wrap, and pour the juice/gelatine mixture in.  I like to strain it through a sieve to make sure than any sneaky lumps of gelatine that may have remained don't end up in the jelly.  Put the jelly in the fridge until it's set.

4. Grab a couple of champagne flutes, and put a tablespoon of Chia seeds in each glass.

5. Pour 1/2 cup of the coconut milk into each glass, and mix well until all the Chia seeds are wet, and are mixed through the coconut milk.

6. Add 1 teaspoon of maple syrup to each glass and mix well.

At this point you just need to refrigerate the Chia Pudding for a couple of hours.  As it chills the chia seeds absorb the coconut milk and become chewy, and this makes the pudding thicken too.

7.  Remove your jelly from the tin by lifting out the cling-wrap, then use a knife to slice into 1cm cubes, then spoon the jelly cubes onto the Chia pudding.

You can then share one with someone you love this Valentines Day, or just eat one and save the other in the fridge 'til tomorrow ... either works fine!!
Anyway, feel free to share your healthy habits for 2016, so I can use them too!!  And I hope you have a lovely Valentines Day with those you love!