Thursday, December 22, 2011

DIY Christmas stockings

We seem to have lost the kids Christmas stockings - I fear they might have gone out with the wrapping paper in 2009 - so this year I decided to make new ones with the kids.


They had a lot of fun - Miss Piggy and I went out to Spotlight to choose the fabric (that wasn't so fun, MP had a meltdown over 'too many choices') then I worked with them one-on-one to get the stockings done. Each one took about half an hour to complete, even with little hands assisting.

We cut a stocking shape from scrap paper

We chose fabrics - one thick strip and a thinner strip for the top



We folded the thinner strip of fabric in half and sewed it to the thick strip. I top stitched where the fabrics joined.



We folded the strip in half (right sides together) then we traced the stocking onto the fabric



We cut and we sewed (the kids pushed the pedal on the machines)

No, I haven't brushed my hair! Don't judge me, I'm on holidays!

And we were done!

We hot-glued decorations on the front and loops for hanging at the top.




The kids are so proud to have made their very own stockings!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas decoration from scraps

Because I work with small people, I'm always on the lookout for simple, quick and cost-effective (ie almost free) craft activities. Here's something I came up with in front of the telly. It's one of the projects that didn't make the 'cut' for doing with a large group of kids as it was a bit too involved for small hands to do independently. More of a one-on-one type activity if small people are involved.




Puffy fabric tree decoration:

1. Locate all materials - fabric scraps and embellishments.


2. Cut four identical squares. Trace circles onto two of them.


3. Sew felt embellishments onto the circle - mine are felt hearts and I sewed them on using the machine. You may choose to hand stitch.

4. With right sides together, sew around the circle line you traced at step 2. You can sew directly on the line or just inside the line. Up to you. Leave a gap at the top for turning inside out.


5. Trim and notch the edges of the circles. Or just cut around with pinking shears if you aren't too fussy (I'm not).

6. Turn inside out and stuff.


7. Now decorate. You can use the open part at the top to sew in a ribbon if required. I crocheted a border around the outside, you may choose to sew or glue on lace, ribbon, anything. Remember, this is a project for kids, so I'm keeping it simple!


8. Go delight grandma with your beautiful home-made ornament. Or hang on your own tree!


Enjoy! I'll be back tomorrow with an even simpler ornament - a sew along I did with more than a dozen kids.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Crafty fix: Paper cranes

After a few hectic weeks, I really needed to de-stress tonight. Some rubbishy telly with hubby, takeaway after the kids were in bed and Aldi's finest chocolates were just what the evening called for. And craft. I have been feeling shrivelled and exhausted and absolutely aching for some craft time. So I made the best of what resources I had at hand - literally!


Sorry about the iPhone photo, this really is a low-key, budget effort!
I folded these little cranes while we sat eating marzipan and enjoying some escapism.

If you want a tutorial on how you too can drive your spouse crazy, rustling chocolate wrappers down your end of the lounge, here is a favourite site of mine http://www.origami-fun.com/origami-crane.html At least it didn't cost him anything!

Enjoy!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thirteen...

Thirteen years ago my life was turned upside down - an ending and a beginning and a nineteen year old girl lost in the confusion. Today marks the anniversary of the beginning of my adulthood.


This tree is on our street... it flowers for a few weeks a year and was flowering tonight.
We put the kids in the car, set up the tripod and ended up having to use the
headlights for light... We take so many photos of the kids' milestones,
I wanted something for us. To mark 13 years of ups and downs,
of sharing and loving and growing older (growing up?) together.


Thirteen years ago today, Jase and I moved furniture, unpacked boxes and set up our first home. We were so excited, two youngsters playing 'house' and rattling around our new place like tic tacs in a shoebox. What would we ever do with such a big home, we wondered. When would we ever get enough furniture to make it looked lived in?

On the other side of the country, my Dad's life was ending. It was sudden and shocking but at the same time a day I had been expecting for some time. It didn't need to happen, but it finally had.

When I look over my life, I see so many instances of death and rebirth in the same instance. This is just perhaps the most obvious, so today I pause to think about how far I've come in thirteen years.

I look around at all I have been blessed with - a full pantry, somewhere soft and warm to lay my head at night and four of the most beautiful people I could ever imagine. And stuff. Too much stuff.  So much stuff that sometimes my biggest gripe is what to do with it all. What a problem to have! Thirteen years ago, I could never have imagined I could ever face that sort of conundrum.

I search my heart and I find it full of hope and love... and faith that things always happen for a reason, that every lesson brings me closer to the sort of person I want to be. I have faith too, that those I love are never lost and that God watches over us until we meet again.

I thank God - for giving me the dark days so that I can bask in the glorious sunshine when the clouds finally part, appreciating the small things and (trying) never to take things for granted. And for giving me Jason. My friend, the father of my children, my love. The man who knows all my quirks and flaws and loves me regardless. I am blessed.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Things to do in stormy weather

I took this photo just over a week ago when we had bushfires in our region.
The picture does not do it justice. The sun was a deep red to look at,
like a red alien eye hanging in the sky. I was too lazy to get any storm photos
today. I preferred looking at the underside of my quilt

Today I was woken by my husband literally leaping out of bed at the sound of thunder shaking our roof. "What was THAT?!" he yelled running to the window. It was the loudest rainless thunder I think I've ever heard, and I've lived in some pretty stormy places! Before we knew it, Mr Z was leaping onto our bed saying sadly, "It's not going to be a very good Saturday, it's raining!".

So while I lay there in the semi-darkness, trying to pretend that thunder and a combo of two of my most favourite boys had NOT woken me up, I mentally compiled a list of things I loved to do in stormy weather as a kid.

1. Build cubbies out of furniture and blankets. Consider this one done. Our loungeroom is currently a mess of a semi-demolished cubby large enough to house a family of five. And a dog. I say semi-demolished because it turns out Small Boy does a pretty good Godzilla impersonation.

2. Make hot chocolate. Our hot chocolate had solidified in its container (it's been a while since any serious sort of rain) so we had to make do with Milo, but I did put a swirl of whipped-cream-from-a-can on the top of the kids' drinks. This was a hit with Mr Z, Miss Piggy didn't like it but Small Boy happily cleaned hers up :)

3. Watch a family movie. We saw the second half of "Camp Rock" peeking out from under the blanket cubby. Well, I actually sat to one side because I have a bit of a thing with small confined spaces and until recently couldn't even get into a zipped up sleeping bag without an anxiety attack!!! The kids had a wonderful time.

And then the rain stopped. And I missed out on my other rainy day activities :( It rains so infrequently here (except when it rains it pours) I just get excited at the chance to sit home in the gloom, looking out at the rain drops hurtling from the sky from the relative dry of my verandah.



Here are the other things I wanted to do:

1. Walk in the rain. I have the raincoats, umbrellas and gumboots by the back door in case the rain starts up again.

2. Group cooking in the kitchen. But we're going to make cupcakes this arv - rain, hail or shine :)

3. Read picture books in bed. Who am I kidding, I love to do this in any weather!

4. Colouring in. Love colouring in, but also love getting outside. Rain makes it seem more ok to sit around the kitchen table staring out the window :)


Instead, we raced around on the verandah - the kids on their plastic bikes/scooters, me in my bare feet. I pushed Small Boy on the swing until we were both smiling so much I felt one of us would burst. Now we're planning part two of our Saturday :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lil Birdie Designs

I got a parcel this week! We get a lot of parcels round here due to our penchant for homemade-or-unusual-curiosities (me) latest-state-of-the-art-technological-things (him). This time I had ordered a waistcoat and capri shorts for my Small Boy.

It was a very late night purchase on a FB sale - not something I usually do - but I just couldn't resist that quirky little set! It's so hard to find 'nice' traditional-type clothing for small boys and I wanted to have something special for my littlest man to wear at Christmas (the kids always dress up for church).

Ruth from Lil Birdie Clothing kindly sent me some fabric scraps (to match the set I bought from her) and I made him a little flatcap to match. Jase said I am cruel and unusual for dressing him in 'golf clothes' but agreed he looked cute!

The workmanship on this little set is awesome - such neat stitching and hard-wearing fabrics. I recommend you check out Lil Birdie on facebook if you're looking for high-quality, one-of-a-kind clothing for your little one.



The hat is another story... I'd give it an A for effort, and... well, let's just say I'd rather you not look too closely! It's a proto-type and I have just enough fabric to make a second edition! Who knew it was so impossible to find a flatcap pattern on the internet! I had to make my own... After looking closely at an old hat we had here, I just kind of winged it. It's OK, but I think I'd like a second shot at getting it right!

I might add the pattern here when I get it just right... anyone interested?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lemonade Scones

It's stormy here today, so nice to be able relax in comfy clothes and listen to the wild weather outside from the warmth of our kitchen!

We're waiting for these scones to cook as I type. This is a simple little recipe I got from my sister. Easy to make with kids, quick enough to throw together if someone is due to drop by in ten minutes.



Lemonade Scones:

Ingredients:

3 cups of SR flour
180 mL cream
220 mL lemonade

Method: (emergency, done in a flash version)

1. Combine all ingredients.
2. Stir thoroughly
3. Spread mixture into a lamington pan
4. Cook at 180 C for 10 - 15 minutes
5. Cut into squares, serve and enjoy

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That's it! That's all you need to do to get that satisfied "Why yes! I *am* a real housewife!" feeling :)
This time, we went a little bit fancier as Little Miss wanted more 'cooking' to do.



So we spread the mix on a floured board and cut out circles with a tiny mug.






Toward the end we just rolled the mix into balls



and then set all the 'pieces' on a board



When they were done, we enjoyed them with our homemade jam  :) Yummy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Brown paper packages, tied up with strings...

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure in participating in a craft-swap. It was both nerve-wracking and exciting all at the same time.



I started several projects for my mysterious swap partner before settling on making a soft woollen beret, a decorated scarf and a notecard set.






In return, I received a covered notebook, a headband and a cute little wristlet made from babushka fabric. What a treat to receive such a beautiful package in the mail :)

Thanks Karen from Sew Me Something Special for my lovely gift!

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So.... have you ever participated in a craft swap? How did it go for you?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I was here

Earlier this week I put the finishing touches on the latest edition of our home videos and then cried a bucket of tears? Why? Because this is the first time I'll be sending copies of this DVD to special friends and family all over the globe but not to the tiny one bedroomed flat that my Grandpa called home.



My Grandpa loved these videos best of all. He would call to thank me for giving him a peep into the lives of his great-grandchildren. He had told me a few times that one of the best moments of his life was holding my son while he fell asleep in his arms. He told me that he often stopped to think that had he never been here, neither would my father, my brother and sisters or the precious little people I call mine.

It's something I've thought about often since he 'left'. How one life changes so many others. How after we are gone, shadows of the people we were remain and live on.

I guess it's why I enjoy creating. Something that 'wasn't' suddenly 'is' because of my hands, my thoughts, my time. It's unique, like me, and when I hand it on to someone else, I'm handing them something of myself, a tiny chunk of my life.

I was here.

I hope that one day, my children will look back on these precious snippets of our family life and remember - we were a family. We lived. We laughed and played. We loved and were loved.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Simple dreams and craftiness

I got home from a work trip yesterday, it was the first time I'd left my Small Boy to go anywhere and it was difficult being away from my lovely little family. They seem to have had a great time without me (a certain boy even managed to talk his way into a day off school) but Mr Z, Little Miss and my Small Boy have been giving me extra cuddles all day long :)

Anyway, Little Miss asked me if we could make something today. It's our thing and I know she had been waiting for my return so she could unleash her creativity. I said yes, thinking she meant baking scones or cupcakes but she beamed and said, "We'll make ballet shoes!".

I love that at this age, they think you can do anything. She asked me a few weeks ago to make her some wings, "that really fly!". That was an interesting afternoon that almost ended in tears. What do you say to that?* I thought about telling her that I couldn't make ballet shoes, but I want her to grow up thinking that anything is possible. Plus I'd spent a big portion of our telly time last night explaining what a cobbler was, and telling her that once upon a time people made shoes by hand instead of programming computers and machines to do it for them**.

So, I decided to give it my best shot and we set to work figuring out how to make some ballet shoes. We had some baby slippers that we had previously taken apart, so after looking at the shapes and measuring her foot, we made our own (wobbly, inept) pattern. We found some coral fleece lurking in the back of the sewing cupboard (left overs from the blanket we made last year, see Mr Z's version here), it was purple but, "It's ok if it isn't pink, Mum. You're doing your best."



We cut, we pinned, we sewed, we laughed that they were two different sizes, we sewed, we cut and sewed some more.



And then they were done.



How lovely to be able to make dreams come true! What a special time in my life - to be so much to three small people who mean everything to me. Happiness really is so simple to a child :)


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* I hope I didn't say that Tinkerbell wasn't real, but I may have. Oops. I told her she'd have to grow up and be clever enough to design and make some clip on fairy wings that would really work and I would buy the first pair from her.
**It sounds like a heavy conversation for a Friday night, but we were singing along with Hans Christian Anderson (the storyteller and cobbler) at the time.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Nana crafts" for beginners

Well the greys might be gone (thank goodness for my snazzy new do, complete with lovely long foils of gold) but I'm still feeling like a bit of a Nana today :)

Between the sewing of dolls, crocheting of booties and general 'old-school' craftiness, all I need is start going to bed at 9pm and they'll be sending me my OAP card!

Today I made jam. I looked at some overripe strawberries languishing in my fridge and thought, "they deserve better". Well, actually I thought that after first wondering how people get away with putting fresh juicy strawberries over the top of browning, sunburnt ones in a punnet. Grr.



I'm amazed that I actually managed to complete my mission, I'd been expecting to merely make a mess, but I must be getting more domesticated because I now have a lovely fresh jar of jam in my fridge :)

Here's the recipe I used, if I don't write it down now I'm bound to forget it. And next week I'll likely be looking at another quarter kilo of manky fruit!

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Easy Strawberry Jam

* 5 cups of strawberries, cut into pieces
* 1 1/2 cup of caster sugar
* squirt lemon juice
* a clean jar



1. In a large saucepan, add sugar to strawberries.



2. Put clean jar into oven at 160 degrees for 10 - 15 mins (sterilises it)
3. Put small children to bed/watch a TV show/catch up on email for half an hour
4. Squirt in lemon juice and put saucepan over medium heat
5. Stir. Stir. Stir. Stir - for half an hour or more if you're game. It will froth and bubble, that is OK.
6. Test consistency - put spoon into saucepan, remove and allow to cool. If mixture seems thickish and stickyish, you're good to go :)



7. Remove jar from oven, don't burn your fingers, pour in jam
8. Add lid, refridgerate.

I looked at a lot of jam recipes, and they mostly say that you should eat jam like this within a few weeks. You might want to go for a fancier recipe if you're a pig like me if you don't think you'll be able to use the jam within this time frame.

I'll have something to talk to Grandma about next time she rings :) She does a huge amount of jams and preserves, I'm going to have to get her to show me when I next pay her a visit (she's 12 000 kms away so visits are few and far between).

Got any tips on 'jamming' other fruit? Let me know :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Life in general

Well, we're nearly at the end of the first block of fulltime working mummy. I'm *really* looking forward to two whole weeks off with my babies and catching up on some much needed sleep!

Working fulltime has been really great in lots of ways, the kids have got to spend way more quality time with their dad (who is much better at keeping the house tidy than me) and work has definitely been much easier.

In the past, when I job-shared, I spent a lot of time catching up with all that had happened over my 'off' days - lots of meetings, reading and general bluffing people that I knew what was going on. Now I start each day knowing exactly where to pick up and can plan ahead a lot more easily. Less meetings means that I'm home a bit earlier a couple of days each week, too. Working through my lunchtimes and getting to work an hour early means that I rarely have work to take home. So when I'm home, I'm home - secure in the knowlege I know what I'm doing the next day. That's a nice feeling. I know I can be a better person, wife and mum when I'm feeling happy and secure at work.

The downside is that I can feel my kids getting further away from me. We all still get along, there are still lots of laughs, hugs and games, but they are living lives away from me and I notice we don't 'read' each other as quickly and readily as before. It's a real effort, sometimes a struggle, to stay connected and that hurts a bit. I'm really looking forward to holidays where we can spend more time together!

I have to remind myself that this job isn't yet permanent, that my role could be downsized depending on funding/transfers etc, and I find myself wondering if it's a good fit. Part of me hopes that it will be downsized! But after much debate, prayer and weighing of pros and cons I still think that this is more than likely the best option for our family. But I don't have to like it!

I am feeling more used to the new routine, wish me continued stamina, please!!!

Here are some pictures of our recent adventure at the International Airshow. Lots of fun for a family who loves to be in the outdoors together. We packed a picnic, a blanket and some cameras and headed out for a day of togetherness. The planes were just a bonus :)








Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Versatile

A couple of weeks ago I was pleased and touched when a talented Aussie mum passed on the "Versatile Blogger Award" to me. I've been slightly freaked out about writing this post but here it goes.

10 things about me:

* I am a fulltime working mumma - married with three gorgeous kids. I love it when we're all together, feel like a piece of me is missing when I'm away from them. I feel so blessed to have four special people to call mine.

* I've been married twice - to the same guy! Well, two ceremonies anyway - three years apart. The first was on his terms - 200 guests and he got to wear a Star Trek suit. The second was on mine - a ceremony for just us two in Vegas. Elvis impersonator and all :)

Yes, we were babies when we married. Where
have ten+ years gone?

Jase wasn't too impressed by the idea at first, but he had to admit it
was great fun. Oh and he got a ride in a helicopter first to ensure he was smiling
when we got to the chapel!

* I used to love magazines, but now I love nothing better than sitting at the end of a long day with a coffee and my computer screen, catching up on people's blogs and pinning things on pinterest (I finally caved on that one).

* I like quiet. Hubby likes loud. That makes our house seem as though it has a bit of a personality disorder at times, but it works for us! One minute music is roaring through the speakers, the next it's almost silent as everyone goes about their business of puzzles/traintracks/model building/housework/computers.

* I have had way too many jobs. I've worked in a bar, a restaurant, a hotel, a marketing firm, an office, takeaway joint, on checkout, in two delis, a fruit store, a call centre, a newspaper, several schools, as a companion/babysitter... My dream job would be as an art teacher but those positions are like hens' teeth so I guess I'll stick to English and Maths for now.

* Only after having my kids have I been able to embrace womanhood - I always felt like a bit of an imposter before then! It sounds weird but I always had a suspicion I was like the tinman or had green blood or something, like Pinocchio only not quite a real *girl*.



* I love the satisfaction of finishing a creation, but I'm not always motivated to get there in a timely fashion - hence the cupboard of unfinished projects that have me stumped :)

* I love quirky movies, the sort nobody else likes! I love a first film, a first book... something someone has dreamed of writing/making their whole lives. It's so special to be sharing someone's dream and the heart of their creativity.

* I would like to write a book. Maybe an adventure book for boys, although I have a love story that frequently haunts me, begging to be written down.

* When I travel far away, I *have* to visit a supermarket, pretend to be one of the locals and try out at least half a dozen new things. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't! It's one of my favourite things about being on holiday :)

Well, thank you Kelly from the lovely Polkadot Lane for inviting me to do that! I hope I haven't sent anyone off to sleep with my list :) I'm pretty sure the two people who will read this know all that info anyway!!! hehe

So, some blogs for you to check out:

Squigglemum - who inspires me to be a better, and more involved, mum
Scientific Culture - who finds and creates the perfect geekery online
Attic 24 - colourful woolly goodness interspersed with gorgeous photos of the British countryside
And Melissa of Molly's Inspirations. Conquering the world with kindess and love :)

and I must finally return the favour to Cami of You Seriously Made That who featured me on her blog a few months back. I like her blend of creativity and hilarity.

I'm guessing all of these ladies are too busy to be blogging ten facts about themselves, but I wanted to pass on the Versatile award regardless - thank you for being there and for inspiring me, week after week xxx
I love reading your comments, thanks for stopping by :)