Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Well the last of the presents has been wrapped.  The ham glaze is done. The salads are done. The pavlova comes out of the oven in 10 minutes.  The rocky road and rumballs and white Christmas is cut and packed and ready.  I am (finally) sitting with a cup of tea and listening to the carols, waiting patiently for Santa.

It will be an awesome Christmas.  My kids get to spend Christmas day with both sets of grandparents - something that has NEVER happened.  It made my heart melt to hear them talking about it.  They said it is like having an extra-special present! Bless them.  I love that they understand that people are more important than things.

Speaking of things, there are a LOT of presents under the tree.  I think next year I will be sensible and go back to the old "Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read" - and next year I want to keep things in perspective and not rush around like a headless chook.

So anyway, wherever you are, whoever you are, however you celebrate, Merry Christmas, Peace and Blessings!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Taking it for Granted

Today I was in an op shop when this ridiculous couple began bickering over who saw a piece of vintage enamelware first and who (out of the two of them) was going to buy it.  They went on and on.  "I saw it first".."Why do you have to do this to me".."Lower your voice darling, you are EMBARASSING me" and on and on and so on.

It was a $4 piece of cheap enamelware.
I wanted to slap them.
I really did.

Today, 2 years ago, a brave, courageous woman who's mantra was "NEVER GIVE UP DESPITE THE ODDS" lost her battle with cancer and left behind a small son and a man who adored her, a sister and nephew who will miss her every day, and a whole community who are still grieving for this remarkable woman.

The funny thing is, I never personally knew Claudia.  She was a teacher at my children's school. We had friends in common.  I knew of her in passing.  I remember a huge shock of frizzy wild hair and lots of laughter.  She was the sort of person that wore laughter like a shadow.  She inspired people.  Everyone loved her.  I hadn't realised how many people we had in common until through a cruel quirk Facebook suggested Claudia as a friend request two days after her death.

It is funny, I didn't know her in life, but her death has made me hold my own children tighter.  It has made me think more about the non-negotiables.  It has made me think more about the things I want to do with my life, and the person I want to be.  Most of all, Claudia reminds me not to take life for granted.  To appreciate each day for what it is.

RIP Claude.  You are being remembered by so many people in so many ways today.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Happy.. Sad.. Happy..

This year has been such a rollercoaster of emotions.  So many of our friends and family have been touched by tragedy or ill health this year.  I did not expect the turmoil of losing my business, or the unexpected hand of hope from Close to My Heart.  Despite his age, I wasn't ready to lose my grandfather.  It has certainly been a year of mixed emotions and December looks set to be no different.  On the night that my little Maddie Moo turned four, a very good, dear, old friend said goodbye to her sixteen year old son.  I cannot even imagine that heart break.  Keelan's funeral was on Friday so the kids and I took red balloons to Bushland Park and released them in his honour.  It seemed right.

We went to the bakery to celebrate with icecream, which is kind of wierd, but kind of made sense to my kids.
Because I have been working full time this week (and next) the house looks even grottier than it usually does, and I feel pretty blah about life in general so I find that I am enjoying the few spaces in our house that do look nice!  The kids decorated the tree (and while it might not be department store pretty there is a lot of love on that tree, and lots of memories too!)
 My friend owns a lolly shop and she kindly saved up enough boxes for me to finally get my fabric scraps sorted just like in Amanda Jean's book "Sunday Morning Quilts" - this small thing has made me ridiculously happy.  I love my crafty room so much. It really is my happy place!

 This is still my favourite spot to retreat from children and read a crafty book or magazine!
 And this is what my kitchen dresser looks like in its Christmas finery.  I have several "Christmas" collections which Preschool kids have added to over the years.  There is a collection of reindeers, santas, angels, and Christmas teddies, and also a small collection of snowglobes!
 I bought two gorgeous little red lanterns at Ikea and also these white tin pots.  Our climbing "Sympathie" rose has been covered in blooms since Keelan's death - everytime I brush past it I am reminded.  Don't they look stunning in this pot with the aqua wall? Red and aqua (what is not to love?)

 I did a weeny bit of dusting and putting away and this is what the top of my bookcase looks like now.  I LOVE the apocathery jars of floss and fibre, and can you see my beautiful wooden spindle? And the collage of Italy that my photographer friend made for me when we travelled there as teenagers? And my grandad's old box brownie?  Oh, collections of favourite things just make my heart happy.  So there you go - happy..sad..happy.  It is bittersweet this funny old life of ours hey?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I just love this month's Stamp of the Month "Illuminate" - it makes it so easy to make pages like these that really help to boost children's self esteem.

How cute are the tiny little candles with bits of teeny bling on them?
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Craft Fair and another Butterfly Hat

I went to the Craft Fair child free on Friday.  After a rotten week battling tonsilitis hanging out with crafty friends and a bit of retail therapy was just what the doctor ordered.

I enjoyed it more than previous years.  There were some new stallholders and quite a lot more wool craft than before.  I came home with a few modest purchases.

A gorgeous little bunny pattern from the girls at Under The Mulberry Tree.  A pattern and yarn to make a crocheted top for Maddie.  An equilateral triangle ruler for making strippy quilts.  And this Noro book which will work perfectly for homespun yarn.

Yesterday I managed to finish my second butterfly hat.  I love the colour.  It was to be a Christmas present for my MIL but it is too big for her little head so I am claiming it.

I am spinning some lovely fine multi-coloured optim.  I can't wait to see it finished.

A pile of books rocked up from book depository today so they will be my Christmas present (I might have had a teensy peek at a few of them but I promise no more than that!)

And I have to buy some fabric online today as I couldn't get it at the Craft Fair (surprisingly no one had precuts this year!)  I really LOVE the new Bluebird Park range by Moda (OMG - that denim look blue with red birds - I think I want a dress out of it!!!) and then there is scrumptious by Bonnie and Camille (who I just love!)

All in all, quite a crafty week!
Keep smiling,

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Julie and Julia Project for 2014

I've been hatching a plan.
Normally, I use the time between Christmas and New Years - those long lazy Summer days that just seem to fall off the calendar, for planning and plotting and thinking about the year ahead, but, let's face it, this year has just been crappy and so I have started dreaming early.  I am disappointed about the lack of finished projects this year, especially the lack of finished quilts.  I am a little aghast, and shocked, by how quickly my passion for craft books has got out of hand.  I think they now fill about 4 bays of my Ikea storage and there may or may not be some more in the mail..
So that got me thinking.  I loved reading "Julie and Julia" by Julie Powell - such a good book and a fun read.  Whilst I have NO wish to ever cook every one of Julia Child's recipes it did give me an idea.  What if I devoted next year to doing a Julie and Julia of my own?  What if I seriously tried to make one thing from each of my crafty books? I could choose a few projects each month and just go for it? And you could follow along and even play too if you wanted to?
I think I probably need some rules (or some "outs") I think I should be allowed to skip books that I have already used. And some months I will definitely be more productive than others so I am not putting a limit on how many each month except to say that there has to be a one project minimum.  I also think I need to concentrate on using from my stash so projects are allowed to be "modified" or "inspired by".  I am looking forward to this.  I will try to head each finished project with "Julie and Julia" for those who are following along (and don't worry, there will be plenty of other posts about all sorts of other things).  I hope that Julie Powell would approve and take this project as a compliment.

So what do you think? Will it work?

Here's the latest finished project "the butterfly hat" from ravelry knitted up in the softest merino/angora blend for a friend who gave me a lovely knitting and crochet book that she didn't

want.  It was such a dreamy knit that I have cast on a sea-green one for me (and my mother in law was eyeing it off and Hannah has requested one so I think I might be knitting a lot of this pattern!)

I'm off to do a bit more dreaming/planning/trawling through craft books!
Happy Wednesday,

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sometimes All It Takes is Time

The funniest thing has happened this Spring.  We had a rose at the back of the house that was planted when Dan was newborn.  It never flowered.  Lots of lovely green foliage. No flowers.  One year I almost ripped it out.  Last year, for the first time, we got a few pretty blooms.  This year it looks like this:

 It has even threatened to take over the roof of our house.  The blooms are ENORMOUS.  Because it is tucked at the "dead" corner of the house I had not even noticed it recently.  Today, when I finally had an afternoon to just breathe, and be, and take the time to smell the roses I discovered it in all its glory and it was a bit of an epiphany to me that sometimes all we need is time.  Some children take longer to "bloom" than others.  Some gardens evolve over time.  Sometimes, when we are time poor, we miss noticing small but important things.  I love that you can always measure time in the garden.  I love the changing of seasons.  The watching of growth.  In the 7 years that we have lived here I have been desperate for my garden to grow - to have trees and privacy and a garden that I can pick a posy in all year round.  Finally I have that now.  You can hardly see our house from the street anymore.

And despite the weeds I still think we have the loveliest garden in the street.  Happy Spring!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Crafty stuff

Hello bloggy friends,
It feels like a long time.
I have had so much to write and so little time to write it in.
I wanted to write about my grandfather, who is so dear and so wonderful, and who left us earlier this month but then that post was waiting for photos and now it is such a beautiful spring day that it doesn't seem right to be sad.
There has been crafting, LOTS of crafting, especially with my beautiful consultants, and my awesome quilting group.  I feel really blessed to have both of these groups of friends in my life.

Last weekend my Close to My Heart Consultants and friends went to Glenbarr Homestead for our annual retreat.  Lots of laughs and fun and I managed about 60 pages.  Close to My Heart have negotiated a fabulous deal for consultants to purchase their own cricut cheaply so we really gave that baby a workout.  We went through one mat and two sets of blades but you should have seen the pages and cards that resulted.  I will really try to post photos of them soon.  I also learnt how to mask and use the daubers to make lovely shading.  It has become my new favourite thing!

Then Wednesday night we celebrated my quilty/knitty friend Anne's 70th birthday.  Anne is the coolest 70 year old I know.  When I am 70 I hope to be just like her.  She still adores life, she laughs at EVERYTHING, even herself, and she is so much fun to be around.  My quilty/knitty friends have been so important to me this year.  They help me to smile through the grey bits.  They sympathise and understand and they always make me laugh.

 I feel bad that I haven't finished a single quilt this year. NOT ONE.  At least I do have some crafty projects to show you.  The first is my Quaker Shawl by an amazing designer called "Stitchnerd" (look on ravelry or check out her blog on my side bar)
The wool is handspun from Kathy's Fibres Winter Fibre club in a merino/baby camel blend (sooo soft and squishy with a lovely drape). 
 The second project is the Sean the Sheep Cowl.  This pattern is so easy that I have now made three of them. So easy and so addictive and really doesn't use much wool at all.
Cowls are so great for kids as they can't get caught or pulled tight like scarves can.  Maddie and Hannah both have one and I have made one in bunny/merino handspun which I will probably sell or gift.  
I hope you are enjoying your weekend!
Keep smiling,

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Holidays From The Heart

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Getting it done! Fast Pages!

Like many of my customers I have quite a lot of paper.  Ahem, a LOT of paper.  I also have a busy life which means that I need to be able to scrap a lot of album pages FAST.

This is the formula I have been using this month to really get things done! It is also the formula I will be teaching at my workshops this month.  Mixing and matching the papers means that even though the formula is the same the pages all look distinctly different.  If you try it, I would love to see the finished pages!
Happy scrapping!

Getting It Done - 4 pages in 10 minutes!

This is the easiest way I know to do some quick double page layouts!
Select 3 pieces of coordinating paper or cardstock that works with your photos.  I have used 3 pieces from the same power palette or be adventurous and mix and match.

With your 12 inch trimmer (and I especially LOVE my new CTMH one!) cut the paper like this:
1st piece - cut off a 3" strip, then cut 1 piece 9"x6 1/2", cut it in half to make 2 photo mats. Put remaining rectangle aside.
2nd piece - cut 2 strips 1 1/2", then cut the remaining paper the way you cut the first piece (ie. two photo mats and a leftover bit)
3rd piece - cut a rectangle 8 1/2" x 6 1/2" then cut leftovers into two even strips (about 1 3/4" wide)
Set your paper up into 3 piles:
·         Strips (for borders and edges)
·         Photo mats (including your double one of 8 1/2 x 6 1/2")
·         Backing/contrast pieces

Now for the fun part! Find 4 pieces of coordinating cardstock or 4 pages and then mix and match to create double page spreads in no time! Don't forget that the papers are double sided so you can turn some pieces over for a new look! I would love for you to share your pages on our Nell's CTMH scrappers page on facebook! Happy scrapping!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Getting Organized LOL

No photos to go with this post but I have a feeling that Spring is not far away in our corner of the world. My tulips are budding up, a lonely crocus is out, and my plum trees have their first blossoms.  Obviously we can feel the Spring in the air because there has been a flurry of activity around cleaning and moving furniture and sorting stuff out.  I have cleaned out boxes and boxes of "stuff" (mostly old CM stuff!) and it has been quite a cathartic process.  Tonight DH brought home a new t.v. cabinet (he recently won a t.v. that was too big for the cabinet we had) and so I have had to move my knitting basket and have a general re-sort (not funny to find lots of projects I had even forgotten I had!)
My craft room looks HUGE without its usual mess (although there are still plenty of corners to clean up and I haven't even looked at my sewing nook!)
There has also been a bit of scrapping - I am loving the Close to My Heart Ideas Books.  They have a "formula" for cutting different papers and putting them together in a snazzy layout.  I don't usually like to measure things but I am finding that the formulas are great for mixing together old CM papers and new CTMH papers.  Another thing I really like about CTMH is they have a real passion for double page layouts (which I also love!)  Re-organising my crafty room has gotten me re-inspired about sewing and quilting so I cannot wait for a few free days to get into it!  Alas, not this week, as I have 3 days of kindy work and a training and development day Friday!
Happy Monday to you - I hope you are seeing signs of Spring too!
Keep smiling,

Friday, August 23, 2013

Falling in Love Again

I can't remember how much I have shared here about the pain I felt when Creative Memories Australia closed its doors.  I truly did go through almost all of the stages of grief.  Luckily for me, and the many thousands of Australian CM consultants, our CEO Brian, and top directors, Susan and Diane, negotiated a plan with an American company called Close to My Heart.  I was soooo grateful that Close to My Heart gave us a home but I do have to be honest.  As thankful as I was, I was not "in love" with the new company the way that I was with CM.

When my box of goodies arrived I did these three pages just to familiarise myself with the products.

That made me feel so much better.  Then last weekend I went away on our first ever Close to My Heart Conference.  WOW!!!! Right from the start I was blown away by their compassion, their generosity, and their integrity.  I have found a new home.  I am learning new things.  I am re-building my business.  I think I might be falling in love again. This feels so right!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More Paris

Apologies to all who were reading along with our Paris Adventure when it got cut short.  It just proved too hard to keep up with blogging while we were away.
Now that we are back you get the opportunity to hear me wax lyrical on all of the fond memories of this trip without remembering the whining children, the blisters, or the husband having a fit over how many euros it takes to feed a family of five!
 We certainly managed to cram a lot into our week in Paris.  Hannah was thrilled to tick Notre Dame off her bucket list.  James surprised me by taking us on a walking tour that ended up at Shakespeare and Company's book store.  This was an AMAZING experience for me.  The interior is exactly as I imagined it - you could almost see Ezra Pound and James Joyce sitting smoking in the big overstuffed arm chairs.  When I went upstairs there was a crazy-haired young man sitting by the window typing frantically on an old olivetti typewriter.
 This time around we booked a tour to go up the Eiffel Tower.  It was worth paying extra to skip the queue and our tour guide (a lovely young Irish woman) told us lots of incredible facts about the Eiffel Tower and its history.  Did you know that the tower was never meant to be permanent but after the World Fair, Gustav Eiffel convinced the French government to let him lease it for ten years.  He put lifts in and charged an admission and re-couped the cost of the building within the first 3 months! He lived very comfortably off the profits for the next 9 3/4 years!

 The view from the top is incredible and well worth braving any fear of heights and confined spaces for!
 After our tour we picnicked at the base of the tower (with baguettes and hotdogs bigger than our heads!)
 One of the nicest things about this trip is that the kids are getting old enough to take photos so Hannah took some quite respectable shots of James and I together.  Here we are on the lover's bridge over the Seine.  The glittering on the fence behind us is all of the padlocks inscribed with lovers names on them.
 We also managed a fair bit of people watching and enjoyed some lovely cafe meals - almost always eaten outside because the weather was just soooo perfect (and outside is preferrable when you have messy little people!)
 Our two big day trips were to Versailles and Giverny.  The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles was on James' bucket list.  I loved the formal gardens.

 It was all very opulent and over-the-top.  Our poor kids got a great view of stranger's backsides in Versailles as it was so crowded in the palace that they were just shunted from room to room and not able to see much.

A few people have expressed how crazy we were to take 3 small children to Paris but you know most of the time the kids coped pretty admirably, which just goes to show:
Next time I will show you Monet's garden and a bit of the U.K. travels too.
I also have lots of scrapping to show you, and details of our exciting new company, Close To My Heart.
Watch this space as I am getting some help to "revamp" my blog (thanks to lovely Kirsty!)
Until next time,
Keep smiling,

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Walk Until Your Feet Fall Off!

We are now 4 days into our Paris adventure.  Yesterday was the Eiffel Tower and today Versailles.  Oddly enough, James and I are already making plans to come back without kids.  Each day we manage about 2/3rds of what we had planned before we give in to the whining and the whingeing and come home for chill out time with the little people.

I find the whole experience exhilarating and I just love the unexpectedness of turning a corner not knowing what you will find!  Such beautiful buildings!  Such a sense of faded grandeur!

LOVING this holiday - I don't want it to end!!!