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!


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 :)

* 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!


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 :)
I love reading your comments, thanks for stopping by :)