Thursday, December 16, 2010

on the 12th day of Christmas...

On the 12th day of Christmas the crazy lady said "Let's make a gingerbread house" (clearly delusional as that is really not the priority the day before you fly to Qld for Christmas!)

The kids had an absolute ball with this and the gingerbread is sensational!
What you see: one finished gingerbread house (entirely decorated by children), two very happy children!
What you don't see: the mother realising that we don't have pure icing sugar for the royal icing, and that the icing sugar we have is half a cup short for the recipe, the four cans of tomatoes and one can of baked beans holding the house upright, the thin veneer of royal icing coating the kitchen chairs, the couch, and the baby, and the pile of washing that didn't get put away while we were making this instead!

Wishing you and yours a truly blessed Christmas,
I will be back in the New Year with a giveaway!
Keep smiling,

On the eleventh day of Christmas....

Remember I said I would tell you what to do with an over-active imagination and a Christmas tea towel?  I bought cheesy aussie animal tea towels as part of my expat SIL's present and then realised that they came with a plain striped dobby-look tea-towel too.  They were kind of cute and a bit like what I had imagined the girls' Christmas skirts to look like so I cut them in half, sewed up the side seams (and because they are already hemmed I left a little split at the bottom as a feature) Run an elastic casing around the top - done!  I cut about 10 cm out of the middle part of Maddie's tea towel and used it for the top of Hannah's to give it a bit of extra length.  Even doing that I had two skirts in less than 15 minutes.  I had visions of showing the girls wearing them but I think I said tea towel once too often in Hannah's hearing and now she is refusing to model it!

I also whipped up some more rocky road last night - macadamia and ginger for my Grandfather and a more traditional one for my Dad (although Dad has considerably less now that my poor forgotten husband started moaning that he was being left behind in the house all alone without proper rocky road sustenance!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On the 10th Day of Christmas....

Last night was the last meeting of our "Christmas Club".  We have been meeting once a month at The Patchwork Apple for the last few years; like-minded ladies who stitch and eat and share stories.  I will miss this little group (and heaven knows how I will ever get my Christmas projects done now!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On the 9th day of Christmas...

Last night it was our turn to participate in the Lobethal Live Nativity.  This has become a cherished tradition that the kids really look forward to.  I was so proud of my two kidlets!  We had such a great night!  Scary to think that this time last year Maddie was a tiny baby Jesus and this time next year she will be old enough to be a sweet little angel!

on the 8th day of Christmas

On the 8th Day of Christmas my true love sent to me ....a really easy rumball recipe!

Throw a packet of milk arrowroot or milk coffee biscuits into the food processor.  Pulse. Add 1 can condensed milk, 3 tablespoons of rum, a big dollop of cocoa, a cup of coconut and a cup of sultanas (you can use less sultanas and some nuts but we know too many little people with nut allergies).  Hit pulse again and mix until very well combined.

Roll mixture into little balls and get the kids to roll in coconut.
These freeze well in a tupperware container so you can start getting festive in October and look super-organised in December!

Monday, December 13, 2010

on the 7th day of Christmas

These are the gifts that the kids gave their teachers this year.  Rumballs or White Rocky Road (recipe courtesy of Retro Mummy) in cello bags with handmade photo ornaments.  The little Christmas trees looked so sweet with glitter and sequins but I am still finding bits of glitter EVERYWHERE all over the house (even in Maddie's nappy LOL!)

This is one of our Christmas corners with lots of Christmas kitsch that has been collected over the years.
The two big kids and I are off to the Lobethal Live Nativity tonight.  My little angel and shepherd love this tradition.  I am hoping we will get to check out the Christmas Tree festival and some of the Lobethal Lights too.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On the 6th Day of Christmas...

I have been busily making up these sweet little gift bags from  I am trying to reduce the amount of wrapping paper we use this year so these are perfect for my nieces' presents. They have appliqued t-shirts and I have used some of the same fabric from the appliques so they can use the gift bags as an accesory. The girls have also got sweet little hair accesories from a local crafty mum who has a business called "Unicorns and Fairies" on facebook.

Made up in Christmas fabric these bags are perfect for a little bit of Christmas baking - and I'm thinking they could be easily "themed" into a gardener's bag (with seeds and a trowel), a writer's bag (with nice stationery and stamps), a crafter's bag (now what sort of goodies could be put in there!?) ooh, the ideas are endless; maybe I need to make a few more of them?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

White Christmas - on the 5th day of Christmas

This is one of our favourite Christmas treats - not least because it is perfect to cook with kids, requires no special ingredients and is so quick and easy!

Mix together:
2 cups of rice bubbles
1 cup mixed fruit
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 cup coconut
1cup powdered milk

Melt 250g of copha and throw it in the dry ingredients and stir.  Pour into a lamington/slice tray and cut into squares when set.

On the fourth day of Christmas....

I'm dreaming of  a white little niece and nephew live in the UK and it is snowing there at the moment so this was the Christmas gift I sent back with their Daddy this week:
"Heath" (so named for my nephew) - beautiful roving hand-dyed by and spun and knitted by me.
Ruby's hat and mittens are in Kathy's "Happy" colourway.  This is the first time I have knitted mittens.  Thankfully Kathryn from our Spinners Group found an easy pattern for me. 
I like this colourway so much that I am imagining a little winter dress for Maddie in the same yarn.

Expect to be totally swamped by Christmas posts over the next few days as I am way behind on Nic's 12 Days of Crafty Christmas challenge and we leave for Qld later this week!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kitchen Chemistry and Mental Health Day

On Monday Maddie and I left the washing, the cleaning, the crumbs and the chaos and went to our friend Nic's house for a spot of crafting!  It was exactly what I needed!  My teaching mentor used to call these kind of days "mental health days" and despite feeling a little guilty about the state of the house it was just so good to be in the company of my crafty friend.
First up was the soap making (you have to make the lye first and then leave it to cool)  As a kid I always wanted a chemistry set for Christmas (but I never got one because my Mum was worried my sister would use it to blow the house up LOL!)  Soap-making is kitchen chemistry at its best.  If you look at all the disparate ingredients you would never imagine that mixing them would make soap!

While we waited for the lye to cool we did a spot of crafting.  Nic worked on some beautiful journal covers and I hemmed hubby's work pants (the guilt factor - I figured 3 trouser alterations gave me a few hours of non-suzie-homemaker time!) and then got cracking on my nephew's quilt.  It is a bit too mustard coloured for my liking but you have gotta love the fact that the only material I bought for it was the backing and the binding (and that was from The Patchwork Apple's $10 rack)

The girls were so good while we were sewing.  I wish I had taken a photo.  Jazz had her own ironing board set up and contentedly "sewed" with some fabric scraps and a small pair of scissors (all the while chattering away to Maddie!)

After lunch we added goat's milk, coconut oil and olive oil to the lye and mixed....and mixed.... and mixed...
Then we added some honey, and poured into silicon moulds.  Nic turned the soaps out and trimmed them a few days later and now we just have to wait about 6 weeks for them to cure.  I found the whole process quite fascinating and I am thinking that the soaps would be a lovely gift with a nice hand-knitted cotton/bamboo face washer.  I'm also thinking that we could play with the recipe to use some of the lavender from my garden (mmm...lavender and honey!)

Thanks Nic for a wonderful day (hoping we have plenty more like it in the new year!)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

12 Days of Christmas day 3 - Decorating the tree

My little Christmas elf has been itching to put the tree up but I wanted to wait until after Maddie's birthday.  On the first of December out came the decorations and up went the tree.  Hannah is very much of the stand-back-and-chuck school of decorating so our tree would never feature in a magazine anywhere but the kids had a ball and even Maddie joined in the fun (and surprisingly has "touched" but not destroyed the lower branches!)  One thing I do love about our tree is the memories that are evoked every year - plastic cup bells from a preschooler who is now a big grade 7 girl; a salt dough baby jesus that weighs so much the branch tips to one side, countless paper angels and stars from playgroup and kindy; and all of the treasured ornaments from friends and students collected over the years.  Every year I treat myself to a porcelain photo ornament of my cherubs too so decorating the tree is a reminder of how our family has grown and changed each year.  It might never win a decorating award but this tree is special for the lovely memories and the many small acts of kindness hanging from every branch.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

12 Days of Christmas day 2...

The problem with Creative Memories Storybook software is that it is so easy to use that I just couldn't stop at one Christmas card design!
So which one do you like best?

I have to say that I am really very impressed that this was accomplished with a single photo shoot with 3 tired children after school about 10 minutes before it poured with rain!

I have lots of ideas for more Christmas posts (and a few other things to share - like a wonderful crafty day at Nic's yesterday, and photos of Missy Moo's first birthday but alas they have to wait!)
happy tuesday!
Keep smiling,

Friday, November 26, 2010

On the first day of Christmas...

My friend Nic over at is hosting a 12 days of Blogging Christmas Goodness so I thought I would join in (and I told her that I would only start on the first day of December after the baby girl's birthday celebrations) but yesterday Maddie and I had a very good oppy shoppy day (my local, Nairne Market is having a half price sale)  For the princely sum of $6.50 I got a crane truck for the sandpit, 2 school shirts for Hannah, 2 summer tops for me and this kind of kitsch but cute Christmas plate (haven't decided yet whether to give it away with Christmas treats on it or keep it for us) But the real steal for the day was these:
4 vintage linen tablecloths from John Martins.  I love the poppy one and was seriously thinking of keeping it for myself but I know a very special lady who is turning 90 before Christmas and these will just make her day (and keep those hands busy for a while yet!)

Last night was our Creative Memories Unit Meeting Christmas Dinner so I whipped these up for the girls as a bit of a thankyou - wish I had thought to take a picture of all of them before they went as these are the "leftovers".  You basically just wrap some nice scrapping paper around a block of chocolate and decorate with whatever embellishments you have handy (I used our "Very Merry" Embellishments kit and paper ribbon for some and the new Reminisce range for the rest.  They looked great piled on the table with bon bons and I think it would be handy to have a few spare for those last minute "oops I forgot about the neighbours/postman/babysitter" Christmas gifts. So there you have it; bloggy Christmas idea number one.  Stay tuned for next time when I show you what to do with an overactive imagination and two christmas tea-towels!  Oh, and if you are thinking of visiting, don't do it today - Dan and I are far too busy crafting and pottering to be bothered about the crumbs and the washing!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Right at this moment I'm loving...

The cheekiness of this wee one - the joy she gets from peek-a-boo, pantry raids, stacking and unstacking absolutely everything/anything, and her food philosophy that everything tastes better if you throw it on the floor (we have coined a new phrase here; "floor toast" as in, "Maddie, what have you got in your mouth??? Oh, only a bit of floor toast!")
Playing with some felt embellishment and needle felting (except I broke my last two needle felting needles yesterday - thankfully it is Spinners and Weavers tomorrow so I can get more then!)

My new blue suitcases - an impulse buy from Mathilda's markets on the weekend - I'm thinking these will be so good for WIP in my scrapping/quilting room.

That these two will be going to find good homes in Pip's Softies for Mirabel drive (and yes, I deliberately parked them in front of my new red spotty suitcases which I also LOVE)

Reading more crafty goodness (business has been so good the last two months that I am afraid I have spent cosiderable profits on online bookstores and craft patterns and impulse buys!)

Really not loving that I am procrastinating big time over writing my two upcoming public speeches, and that the floor needs sweeping (again - sigh) and that Mt Washmore is getting taller every day (go away rain!)
Happy Wednesday!
Keep smiling,

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday sewing

After such a busy month it felt so good to get stuck into some sewing yesterday.  I was determined to clear a little space off the sewing table so UFOs and mending were a priority.  Aside from the boring and thankless task of repairing two pairs of boy's trousers and Hannah's skirt I refashioned Dan's worn out jeans into a pair of shorts and then finished a bit of suffolk fun on this little blue smock for Maddie.
Then there was a big pink and white smocked maternity top that came in a gifted bag of maternity clothes when I was pregnant with Maddie.  Hannah had clapped eyes on it and declared it perfect for her!  It has been sitting on my sewing table for most of the pregnancy and then the 10 months since.  It did actually only take half an hour to remove the cap sleeves, sew up the sides,, refashion the sleeves and add a little pocket.  She loves the result (and Daddy couldn't believe it when I explained to him that it started life as an ugly maternity top - I swear that Boy still has no idea of the unknown quantity/qualities of the woman he married LOL)
Hannah has given it the whirl and twirl of approval.
I also finished a softie horse for the Softies For Mirabel campaign.  Unfortunately the sewing table is still groaning under the weight of UFOs.  You would swear I hadn't even made a dent!  The girl and I are planning a quick trip down to Mathilda's market today so maybe I'll come home inspired to do some more later!

It's not's me...

I know we've had some good times together.  And the age difference never really worried me before.  But I've moved on you see?  Life is different with 3 small children and you have to admit that you have been getting increasingly fractious and unreliable in your old age.  It never worried me that you weren't pretty.  You were always so practical....and dependable... and I do still love you...but it is time to say goodbye.  Thank you for the good memories.
And as for YOU, well I never really liked you anyway!
Oh Yeah, Mama's got a new set of wheels!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Bibs

In the muse of Amanda Blake Soule or Alicia Paulson the kids and I did a spot of creating for Maddie in the second week of the holidays.  What do you think of her new bibs?

I had forgotten just how gross bibs get when munchkins eat solids (and my girl has some less than desirable table manners LOL)  I just used the applique stitch on my sewing machine (not even any vliesofix) and so far they have been washed about a half dozen times and are holding up well.  The bibs were a bargain pack from Spotlight.  The pens are Crayola Fabric Markers and ours are going strong after several large projects (gotta love Crayola!)

I'm thinking we might even have to do one of these to put in with the new nephew's welcome present and maybe one for my next-year-to-be niece or nephew?

There is something very gratifying about working with your children on a project (especially when they can then give it to someone else)

I'm in a creating kind of mood this morning so I am off to make a few softies for Mirabel (details at ) and make a start on some things for the wee one's birthday - yes, I at the end of next did that happen?!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Accidental Tulips - a little bit of spring

Last year Hannah chose tulips from the bulb catalogue; dutch yellow and red parrot tulips.  We put them in the vegie crisper for the required length of time, we bought bulb potting mix and special bulb food.  The tulips were duly planted, watered, watched....all for a miserable display of one straggly little flower.  We left the pot in the garden, disappointed and forgotten.  About a fortnight ago a spot of yellow caught my eye as we came up the driveway.  Can there be anything happier than an accidental crop of tulips?  Happy Spring!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Little Bit of Steiner Inspired Joy!

I recently did a swap with the lovely Kel from  Kel has been experimenting with dyeing fabrics and playsilks.  I swapped her some hand-dyed, handspun wool for some exquisite playsilks.  Kel has lovely clear photos of the swap over on her blog but I wanted to show you her gorgeous creations being played with.  A real surprise was the dear little dolly that she sent for Maddie.  It was love at first sight - Maddie was so excited she kept wanting to "show" me her baby (which made it difficult to get a good photo!)  "Baby" now sleeps with Maddie and is also popping up all over the house as Maddie takes her exploring!
Thank you so much Kel for such a precious gift.
Of course my beautiful playsilks have to have a beautiful home so yesterday Maddie and I checked out a local second hand shop and found a nice little wooden bookshelf to put all of our natural/Steiner inspired toys on.  It is not exactly the dream Steiner playroom but we will at least have a lovely little corner full of natural and handmade goodness.  I wanted to pick the shelf up today but alas my stationwagon has a dead battery so it will have to wait.  It is actually one of those nothing-going-right kind of days where the baby won't settle and the Preschooler wants undivided attention and inanimate objects (car, toaster, and washing machine) are all giving grief.  I think I might try Maddie with a sleep again and go and play in the front room?  Maybe I should throw a playsilk over my head and pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist!