Friday, January 30, 2009

We surrender

We are going away for a few days. Relocating to a place with a (working) air conditioner and a pool. A place aptly named "The Retreat."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Forced hibernation

I've worked through denial and anger and I'm into the acceptance phase now.
We're sitting in our enclave of cool with the blinds closed and 3 fans blowing straight on us. Rory is harassing the bird and the cat who are usually outside and I'm knitting. Knitting???
Yes, knitting. An ice vest perhaps? Or a stubbie cooler? No, no. I'm knitting a beanie. As you do when you're in the middle of a 45 degree heat wave.
It's a present for my cousin's new baby. Not that little Charlie will be wearing it anytime soon. I've made it to fit a 6 month old so they can put it away for when the weather cools down.

The beanie is little version of this adult one from Martha Stewart. This is such a simple pattern with great instructions. It helped me make the leap from being a scarf only knitter to knitting other things.
Which other things? Well, I have borrowed The Expectant Knitter from the library and I'm all inspired now. It may sound odd to be knitting in this weather, but really, there's no better activity for when you're forced to sit in one spot all day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This one's for you, George

Well, I reckon I'm getting pretty good at these fabric necklaces and this one is my best yet. This is the same fabric I used in the floaty skirt I made the other day (which I ended up giving to my little sister because I decided that actually, my butt did look big in that).

I have found the secret with these necklaces is to use very thin fabric so that the knots are less bulky. Also, I used slightly bigger styrofoam balls in this one (2.5cm) so there is more ball, less knot. I have also been adding a few strips of fabric together to make them longer.

Although they initially flopped at the markets, I have since sold quite a few.

I owe my fabric necklace genius-ness to my friend Georgie so I'm going to be posting this one to the Netherlands for her.
I tried to take some photos of myself wearing this necklace but I came out all reflective and shiny. That would be because I'm glistening with sweat. That would be because the aircon cannot be fixed today. That would be because the motor is busted and, of course, they'll need to order one and that could take a while. Am I allowed to get grumpy yet?

Pay It Forward

I haven't quite figured out who started Pay it Forward (I am getting lost in a labyrinth of creative blogs and don't want to waste too much of sewing Wednesday not sewing) but I do know that I'm going to be receiving something very lovely from Badskirt Amy. Lucky me! I wonder if she'll make me a hexagonal quilt like this one........?

Now it's my turn to have some fun.


Here are the rules:

I will make a handmade gift for the first 3 interested people who comment on this post and I have 365 days to do it in....You must have a blog to join in and be willing to do the same for three other people

Sooo...are there 3 people who actually read my blog? Quick! Don't all comment at once.




Hot

OK, I'm not one to complain about the weather. I actually think Adelaide's climate is sublime and the weather very rarely curtails our plans for the day which is how we like it. However, have you seen the weather forecast??? Nothing under 40 for about the next week. And have I mentioned that our air conditioner is broken? Mmm. Well it is.

Nothing to wear out for dinner? I can fix that.
Hole in your pants? I can fix that.
Cold head? Let me knit you a beanie. I can fix that.
Skirt too big? I can fix that.
Pants too long? I can fix that.
GFC means you can't afford to buy new clothes? I can fix that.

Broken air conditioner? Sorry, can't fix that.

The good news is that the aircon fixit person is coming today so hopefully we'll be frosty again by tonight. Otherwise I'll really be complaining.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Babycino Day

I was unable to articulate everything I wanted to say about Rory and his first year of life so I didn't end up blogging on his birthday.

Instead here is a picture summary of the day

A babycino was inhaled

a nap was taken


and we had a little party

I must tell you about his cake! It's a sandcastle ice cream cake from the Women's Weekly Kids' Birthday Cake book (every Mummy must have one). Take one bucket, put ice cream in it, put it on a plate, cover it with yellow-tinted dessicated coconut, re-freeze then add flag, the appropriate number of candles and that's it. I have never made an easier cake. Perfect for the summer baby's birthday.

Rory brand new

Market wrap-up

Britta and I have had a busy month with 2 Port Elliot Markets as well as Gilles St. All good fun and as always the best part has been meeting and chatting to fantastic creative people such as: Red Ted, Miss Polly, and Ve-Vo (who has a computer aversion).



Gilles St is the place to go to be young and funky in Adelaide. There were some families there but mostly the kids were hot and bothered (I don't blame them) so it probably didn't quite meet our expectations. It was still a great day but I don't think it's the perfect market for us to attend on a regular basis as we were definitely out-funkied.

See this? Pretty. Not funky.
What I'm most excited about is working on some winter stuff now that I have sold most of my summer stuff. I have been lying awake at night dreaming up new skirt designs (as you do). There will also be funky pants, beanies, and some knitted stuff. I also have some ideas for new hairclips (hello pom pom loom) and maybe some purses.


Oh, and the tea-towel bags I stayed up all night sewing the night before the markets? I didn't sell a single one. Should've gone to bed instead!

Straya Day

Our Australia Day was spent in a very Australian location - the backyard. It was a bit hot (it's always hot on Australia Day, yes?) for too much strenuous gardening but we managed to knock over a few jobs this morning while Rory had a long nap (as you do when you're awake half the night) and Abby was next door making a mess at their house instead of ours.

We are having lamb on the bbq for tea and although I thought about whipping up a pavlova (I'll attempt it one of these days) we made some Anzac biccies instead. Ok, I have the occasion wrong, but they're still Australian.

Ze recipe:

I like this recipe because you don’t have to pre-melt the butter which means less time until they're in your tummy. Abby does the measuring and mixing of all the dry ingredients and also helps make the little balls.

1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup coconut (works without it)
125g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp water
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Put flour, sugar, oats and coconut in a bowl.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the golden syrup and water
Stir the bicarb soda into the liquid mixture
Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly
Place walnut-sized balls of the mixture on a lined tray and bake for 15-20 min at 175.
Biscuits will harden when cool.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A new skirt for Mummy

I made a new skirt last night while Chris was watching the cricket. Ho hum. I didn't use a pattern, just based it on this skirt I have (in beige) from from Witchery. I love that skirt and wear it almost daily even though I don't normally wear floaty clothing, especially during pregnancy (not that I'm pregnant), as I think it makes me look much larger than I really am and I feel like I'm wearing a tent.

I bought the fabric from Spotlight a while ago (one of those "I love it but have no idea what I'll use it for" purchases). To reduce the floaty-ness I sewed a really chunky thick hem (about 10cm) so the skirt would be heavier at the bottom and hang down. I also turned up the seam of the ruffle (a trick my sewing teacher taught me) and sewed it to the waistband as this makes the ruffle sit in rather than out. If you want to make the ruffle stick out you the seam to the ruffle. Make sense?

Soooo...I think I like it. But not enough to wear it today as it's only 26. If I really really loved it I would wear it regardless of the weather (fashion before function!).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Learn how to sew

I was so impressed with Abby's dexterity threading the beads onto her dream catcher this morning that I decided it was time to let her loose with a sewing needle. A jumbo blunt wool needle to start with. I punched some holes in a bit of cardboard, threaded some wool onto the needle and gave her a quick demo. She picked it up immediately. Running stitch and slip stitch. Oh, and while I was busy encouraging her creativity, she was busy counting the number of holes in the cardboard. That kind of nerdiness can only come from her Dad.



That's still garbage


We attended a "That's Not Garbage" http://www.thatsnotgarbage.com.au/ kid's craft session at Carrick Hill http://www.carrickhill.sa.gov.au/ this morning. For $7.50 the crafters had a choice of making either: a fairy wand, a fishing game, a dream catcher or a fridge magnet. The materials were all rescued on their way to the rubbish dump by That's Not Garbage. There were bits of ribbon from a party supply shop, CD cases, copper wire casing made into beads, feathers (not sure where they came from) and bits and pieces of plastic. Abby made a fairy wand and dream catcher and Rory was kept busy grabbing scissors off whoever put them down for long enough. Carrick Hill is a lovely setting and it was a perfect day but I came away disappointed for a few reasons. Mostly I was disappointed because what the kids created was, well, garbage really. They had fun (of course) fun but the final product in this case is, I'm sorry to say, headed for the rubbish bin. It's just had a detour via our house before it gets there.

This is the dream catcher. I didn't even bother taking a photo of the wand.
Something tells me I'm not going to be at all disappointed with the art classes I've enrolled Abby in for Term I at http://neststudio.typepad.com/neststudio/.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Applique Ok

Woohoo gotta love sewing Wednesday! Most days we tend to dawdle a bit in the mornings but not today. Those kids were fed, dressed and out the door quick as a flash. I do love them but I love sewing in peace too.



I've never really done much applique before but I had a gazillion singlets left over from my pyjama sewing phase (you can only buy the singlets in packs of 5) so I thought I'd jazz them up a bit for the next market.
I'm happy with how they turned out and it was a good way to use up fabric scraps and odd bits of ribbon but, you know, the whole sew each stitch by manually turning the balance wheel because I'm so crap at precision sewing was quite painstaking. Not the most fun I've had sewing that's for sure. I used Abby's playdough cookie cutters for the shapes as I have zero drawing ability. We seem to have lost the owl though which was my favourite.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

No-sew softies for kids

Abby made this mouse (along with a few others) using a kit she received as a Christmas present. It is called Short Stuffs by Klutz (http://www.klutz.com/catalog/product/130).
The bodies are pre-made, you just have to attach the velcro ears, tails, mouths etc. There are some pictures to follow in the book or you can be creative and invent your own critter.

Abby is 3 and a half and managed on her own no worries. The age guide on the box says 4+ so Mummies can play too.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My little fashionista

Abby changed into this outfit today (one of about 4 so far......)


I was quite impressed with her accessorising. A rainbow bead necklace and bracelet. Snazzy. It's a shame we spent the day at home!

A tree full of plums

We have a giant plum tree in our backyard. It must be as old as the house (80+ years) and it gets all the runoff water from the shed down pipe so it is thriving.

Even though our plums ripened about a month later this year than they normally (it's only just starting to get hot) we have an abundant supply.

my little helper


So...what to do with all those plums? The last few years I have made plum jam but this year I thought I might try plum sauce, I just need to find a good recipe. In the meantime I used up a dozen or so in this cake.





I used this yummy Stephanie Alexander recipe:

Ingredients

180g softened butter
150g castor sugar
135g plain flour
135g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
70ml milk
10-12 ripe plums, halved and stoned


Topping (very necessary)
60g butter
1/2 cup castor sugar
2tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs

To make the topping:

Melt butter and stir in sugar and cinnamon, then allow to cool a little. Whisk eggs well and stir into butter mixture.

For the cake:

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then mix in flours and salt. Mix eggs with milk, then add to flour mixture and mix to make a softish dough. Spoon batter into prepared tin and smooth top. Arrange plums on top, cut-side up. Spoon topping over and place in preheated 180 degree oven for about an hour (longer in our dodgy oven).

And how did it taste? Yummo. Abby didn't like it but that's ok. More for me!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Not a sewing post

With all my new found inspiration, I attempted some sewing when I got home from the Gilles St Markets but clearly that was a bad idea. I'll be heading to bed very shortly. Am I the only 32 year old who goes to bed at 8 o'clock?
Instead, here is my babycino mug collection.


I haven't always been into babycino mugs. Only since I had babies of my own (funny that). Since then my collection has gradually expanded. The one of the far left is extra special. It used to belong to my Grandma. I don't think she drank babycinos out of it though. Probably tea. The one two from the left was by gift to Abby on her first birthday. I thought it was a fitting present since having 'cinos was such a major part of her first year.

Rory's birthday is on Thursday. I'm still undecided about what we will do (maybe zoo maybe beach) but I know for sure we will be taking him somewhere very special for his very first babycino. The blue spotty 'cino mug is his first birthday present.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Upcycling

I love that word. Upcycling.

This is an upcycled dress I made for the markets tomorrow.
It is made from a vintage (ie op-shopped) pillowcase. If you google "pillowcase dress" you will find lots of tutorials for making these.

I have also been making some upcycled skirts and ofcourse the tea towel bags. I think they will either be a definite hit or definite miss at the Gilles St markets tomorrow. Either way, I've had fun transforming old things into new things.

Speaking of cycling. The Tour Down Under starts tomorrow in Adelaide. We plan to attend some of the festivities this year. This time last year I was oh-so-overdue and oh-so-not-going-anywhere.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Green is the new black

Hours spent searching for the perfect tea towel to make these grocery bags: 2

Perfect tea towels found: 1

Number of grumpy children I'm going to have tomorrow after I drag them around searching for more perfect tea towels: 2 (and a grumpy mummy too if I don't find any!)



I saw these on http://goodgracie.com/ and Gina very kindly gave me permission to make some to sell at the markets. Plastic bags are being phased out in South Australia and supermarket green bags are just hideous so these are a wonderful (fashionable) easy to sew alternative.

I like Gina's blog a lot and I think I'm going to like Gina too (she might come to the Gilles St markets on Sunday to say g'day). She homebirths, co-sleeps and sews. A trifecta!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thanks honey

Supportive:

- designing the gillybean logo

- printing gillybean stickers

- labeling gillybean products

- loading and unloading the car so that gillybean can go to the markets

- doing superdaddy duties while gillybean is at the markets

- doing the accounting from the markets

- giving gillybean a massage after a long day at the markets

Not supportive:

- asking "do people actually buy these things?"

Well, actually yes they do. These pretty (adverb) pretty (adjective) clips (so named by Miss Abby) were quite popular at the Port Elliott markets and, surprising as it might be (to some), I get lots of compliments when I wear them. Thanks honey.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Market wrap-up

Hello! To new readers from the Port Elliott market. I'm very excited to have you here and, as you may very well be the first-ever readers of this blog, I would love it if you could leave a comment.
I'm sorry but this is the only picture I managed to take on the day.
My camera died on me after I took this one. I'll blame the IT Director (Chris) for that one. He told me when I returned home that there are spare batteries in the camera case. Oh, that's useful information. Actually I had a few cases of mummy-brain yesterday. "So you want to buy three things? Hmm, let's see. Well that's $2.....plus $5....plus $3....? Hmmm.....$10? $10? Britta is that $10? Customer is that $10? That will be $10 please." I must remember to engage my brain (or perhaps just take a calculator) for the next market.
Those are not customers in the above photo. That is Britta in the blue jumper and her very lovely and supportive parents. We did have some real customers too though. Lots of them. Lots of bargain hunters especially. The biggest hit of the day was my $5 bargain bin which was full of well, rejects really. Designs that I wasn't quite happy with or that didn't quite turn out the way I planned. One of the skirts was perfectly fine but had a twisted waistband, for example.

I'm glad I didn't stay up late the night before sewing more fabric necklaces as I had planned. I didn't sell a single one! Lots of people were intrigued by them. They would pick them up and have a close look but then put them down again without making a purchase. Does this mean the price was too expensive? I think that's what that means. I will re-think it for the next market. We will be back at Port Elliott on the 25th of January but in the meantime we will be attending the big kahuna of markets in Adelaide..........Gilles St! http://www.gillesstreetmarket.com.au/index.html As it turns out, it's not what you know in the fashion industry, it's who you know (ha!ha!).
I hope I find my un-picker before next Sunday because I sure have a lot of sewing to do between now and then.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sewing frenzy

I had another pre-market sewing frenzy today. I am taking a break now though as I have lost my unpicker. And with the kind of day I have been having I won't be able to sew much without it.


Tomorrow is the inaugural Port Elliott Old Garage Market. Organised by lovely Chloe of http://www.chloeshaydesigns.com/home/ who I befriended at the Norwood Market and who went to the same school as me (although she is quite a bit younger so I didn't know her at school). It looks like it's going to be perfect market weather. Hopefully all the holiday makers and day trippers will be able to tear themselves away from the beach to come and visit us.


I've made lots of skirts (even though I said I wouldn't!) The business person in me says "make more boys' stuff" but my creative self says "skirts are so much fun!" I have also been working on some new stuff. Bloomers, bags and some pjs.

My friend Georgie (who is the necklace queen) inspired me to make a fabric necklace. Here it is:

Modeled by me here although I've been firmly told that it is going in the 3 year old of the house's jewellery box. OK then. I'm surprised she likes it since it's not "rainbow" which she is so obsessed with.

I have since discovered this free downloadable pattern http://www.amybutlerdesign.com/pdfs/FabricNecklace.pdf on the Amy Butler website which is similar to mine except mine actually ties up at the back (like an apron) which I love because it means it is adjustable. I I will try to sew a few more tonight for the markets if I can find that unpicker of mine.

Mama to Mama

A few months ago I turned some worn-out, too small, stained little girl t-shirts into these beanies for the mama to mama project.
They (along with 5512 other beanies) will soon be worn on the heads of newborn babies in Haiti. See http://www.mamamtomama.org/ for all the details and inspiration. If you haven't yet discovered Amanda's blog, you simply must visit http://www.soulemama.typepad.com/. Way more interesting than anything you'll read here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Goodness gracious me!

The remnants box is my favourite part of every Spotlight visit. They sell the ends of rolls at $2/metre and I always seem to find great fabrics in there. Sometimes I pick up fabric I wouldn't normally choose but because I can't resist a bargain I take it home, add it to my stash and can almost always find a use for it. This http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_LkEq5WVoOJM/ST8eaxhyCRI/AAAAAAAAABQ/HslNQLe9Dkw/s1600-h/IMG_0810.JPG teapot fabric, for example .

I have been known to hover around the remnants box and do a helicopter-like swoop when new goodies are added. This pastime is especially fruitful when Spotlight are having a sale because they are cutting so much fabric.

By far my best purchase has been this fabric:



32 metres for $17! That's less than $2 a metre. At first I thought there must've been some kind of mistake. All that gorgeous fabric? For such a low price? What are they thinking? Then I thought maybe they know something I don't know. Maybe there's a reason it's on sale. Maybe the fabric is actually completely hideous and that is obvious to every other customer but me. So I picked it up and walked around with it for a while and decided that no, it's not completely hideous. It's actually quite lovely. It's actually something I would've happily paid full price for. But wait, it gets better. When I went to pay for it it wasn't $17. It had been marked down to only $5. Yes, $5. Oh the fabric Gods were smiling on me that day. The only problem was lugging it home on the tram. Mind you, after grabbing such a fabulous bargain I didn't care how ridiculous I looked (and there were some far stranger weirdos using Friday night public transport than me, that's for sure!)

Now, what to sew? Some ginormo-bags to start.


For myself and just about every person I know. I used this tutorial http://sewmamasew.com/blog2/?p=514. I never thought I would need a bag that big but I actually use it every day. Great for the beach, the shops, the park, the library. Now, what to do with the other 25 or so metres.......?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

We did leave the house...

...and had a fun morning at the beach!

Abby did some running and splashing...

and Rory was exhausted just watching her...

Playdough fun!

Sadly, Chris went back to work today so the at-home portion of our holiday has come to an abrupt end. We were getting very good at doing a whole lot of nothing. I tried to convince Chris to take some extra leave but failed. Instead, we will have fun (doing nothing, mind you) without Daddy as we endeavour to extend the lazy days of summer for at least another week. This means puzzles, books, card games and lego. A bit of pottering in the garden, de-cluttering (to make room for all the Christmas presents) and organising for the year ahead. Some long walks, bike rides and park visitis. Watermelon and icypoles and dips in the paddling pool. Sssh, we might even get the sprinkler out. We won't be going far past our front gate though and we certainly won't be working to any schedule.
Well, that was the idea. But at 4 o'clock yesterday the kids were ratty and I was exhausted from providing the level of attention they had become accustomed to after 2 weeks with both parents and other assorted relatives pandering to their every need. So with an hour still to go until Daddy came home on a hot day when we had already played with every toy and read every book and sung every song...what's a mummy to do? Invite the neighbouring 4 year old over for some playdough fun.

I know some mummys won't do playdough. Too messy they say. But I'm happy to do the cleanup because it keeps Abby entertained for hours. I set Rory up as spectator (he was happy with a bowl full of corn kernels to munch on) and the girls did the measuring, mixing and chose the colours. I did the stirring on the stove. Everyone was happy and Daddy was home to save the day before they were bored with the playdough.
Phew, survived day 1. Think we might have to leave the house tomorrow though.

Here is the playdough recipe I use:
Mix 2 cups of plain flour, 4 tbsp cream of tartar, 2 tbsp of cooking oil, 1 cup of salt and 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the mixture congeals. Keep an eye on it! Then I take it off the stove, divide it into batches and add the colours.
It lasts for ages (the last batch lasted about 6 months). We don't even put it in the fridge; just seal it in an air-tight container.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Desperately seeking zucchini recipes

We went on holidays for 10 days and came back to this
Some giant zucchinis and a truckload of ripe tomatoes. Good soil, I reckon. Oh, those zucchinis? They are supposed to be round. They are not freaks. They are called "globe zucchinis" and taste just like regular ones. Their size is freakish though. I think tennis ball size is normal.
So it was bruschetta for lunch and zucchini slice for tea.
For the zucchini slice: Whisk 5 eggs together and add 1 cup of SR flour. Beat until smooth then add 2-3 zucchini, 1 chopped up onion, 1 cup of grated cheese some salt, 1/4 cup of olive oil and stir to combine. Then pop it in the oven in a shallow oven proof dish at 170 degrees for about 30 - 45 minutes. We ate this with a yummy green salad and there's leftovers for snacktime tomorrow.

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