Monday, November 24, 2014

It's not always sunshine and lollipops


Baby likes to pull pegs in half.  
It's one of those toddler-things which had faded from the here and now as the older two grew but I now remember them enjoying doing the same thing.



Today I saw this collection of broken pegs on the patio but instead of getting cranky that there are a few less pegs to use or worried about making more landfill, I had a memory.  I remembered why I didn't really mind when pegs got broken.  

I didn't use pegs on the washing line for years.  
This meant the washing took longer to dry as it had to be folded in half to stop it from falling off, and many many times a strong wind would blow most, if not all of the washing off of the line, only to be trampled over by muddy dogs and tangled in thorny bushes and I'd have to re-wash and re-hang the whole lot.
'Buy some ruddy pegs!' BigBadWolf would say.
'Oh... yeah... next time I go shopping...' I'd reply vaguely.

Yet still I didn't buy pegs.

And today, looking down at that pile of broken colour, I remembered why.

Having pegs of varying colours means that they can be categorised.  
These particular pegs came in four colours (and I'm pretty sure they have been available in the same colours for a few years) - pink, blue, yellow and green. When there were four of us, this seemed a nice bit of harmony and I would associate a colour of peg with a member of the family - pink for Berry, Blue for Bear, yellow for BigBadWolf and green for myself. 
Unfortunately, if I ran out of a certain colour of peg, I'd be stuck.  Frozen in deliberation.  
Do I use someone else's coloured peg?  
Would that indicate that I thought more of one person or less of another?  
What if I used someone else's peg then ran out of that colour when it came to hanging out that same someone else's piece of washing?  
Do I un-peg the item I hung out using someone else's peg so that I could use that same peg to hang out an item belonging the associated someone?

It's not only the coloured pegs though (which, for the record, BigBadWolf bought in a fit of domesticity a few months ago).  I now have some extra strong, transparent-ish pegs which I actually bought to use in place of pins for sewing handbags and the like.  I came across them while decluttering the craft room and innocently thought they'd be put to better use in the laundry.  
That little voice, backed by the biatch that is hindsight yells to me in her told-you-so voice, 'WRONG!'
Today I had two pieces of washing left to hang out, each requiring one peg. I had only one coloured peg and one strong peg available. The coloured peg could not be associated with either of the two people who's washing was to be hung out.  If I used the unassociated coloured peg for one item, then I'd be using the stronger peg for the other. Does this mean I want to hold on tighter to one person than to the other, meaning that I care more for one than the other?  Does it mean that I think less of the person who gets the unassociated peg, that I think they are unimportant and it matters not what colour peg I use for their washing, therefore inferring that I care not for them?

Of course the answer to all these things is No.  
No, I do not care more for one member of my family than for another and No, neither the strength nor the colour of pegs in any way determines the fate of any person in my family.  
But to an Obsessive Compulsive brain, that is how it feels.  
And just two weeks ago, my psych decided to try me on new medications (as the weight gain from my current meds is beginning to become a concern of its own).  Ping!  
That explains the memory, the seemingly sudden resurgence of these 'issues'.

Being aware and purely, 100% natural in mind and body is real and honest and - I'd like to believe - achievable, but being 'blissfully' ignorant of... or muted to... or even distanced from the reality of an OCD brain is so much easier.  It makes room for so much more fun.  And it's a feeling of freedom from my own inefficiencies I can't even begin to explain.  
The funny thing is, I'm not even medicated because of the OCD. It's something I've had for as long as I can remember - at times it's been annoying, at others it's been crippling but I learned to live with it.  Having a hiatus from the OCD was an unexpected benefit of being treated for a bunch of other anxiety disorders.  I guess that's a positive to focus on, right?

So that's where I'm at.  Sorry if it's a little too much information but it's a really big thing in our world right now and I felt the need to share, get it off my chest, so to speak. 
Although most of our days are super-ace and filled with love and fun and optimism, it's not always sunshine and lollipops.  And that's life, isn't it?

Much love x

P.S Now that we have Baby, I associate pink and green with her which gives the little treasure twice the chance of having an associated peg used to hang out her washing. Lucky Baby!

P.P.S The aforementioned is only half the washing 'ritual'.  We'll save that for another fun, exciting post ;)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mid-November update

Hello lovely people! 
My apologies for being so distant of late, I truly have been so busy - as I'm sure you all have too, given the impending festive season :)
Here's a quick, un-edited, might-be-boring update on what we've been up to these last couple of weeks:
Spots
Baby got spotty but the doc assures us it's just a virus crossed with a reaction to being exposed to a saltwater pool or something of the sort but no need for any over-reaction on my part.  Spots have gone  now so all good!
Crafty work
I crocheted a snowflake! It's part of a new 'job'... Behin-the- scenes social media stuff - suits me to a tea :) More info to come soon!
Making
Berry had free run of my jewellery supplies and made me these beautiful gum leaf earrings! She is so creative and inspires me everyday :)
Crochet
These little bear slippers are from the Mollie Makes Christmas issue. Not quite finished but super cute already!
More stuff
On top of the above, I've been scouring the Internet for Christmas ideas (decorative, culinary and presents),trying to find the 'right' BBQ for our family, decluttering and listing heaps on ebay, getting well into housework in prep for Christmas visitors, chasing a newly-running toddler (my Baby is a toddler now - eek!), creating a crafty haven in the spare room, soothing three chronically coughing peeps (including myself) and generally trying to do MamaBear stuff! It's been busy and so much fun and I am looking forward to sharing all our exciting new things with you real soon xxxx





Sunday, October 26, 2014

Top Five: Online Stores for Christmas Shopping

Having run my own store, I understand the importance of people shopping locally and supporting small businesses so I tend to spruke my favourite local shops a bit.  However, come Christmas time you might be after gifts that you simply cannot get locally and that makes online shopping a great alternative.
So in this post, I'm sharing my favourite online stores - and we're going global! 
In no particular order, here are my top five fave online shopping locations:
Ezibuy
Ezibuy used to be known as Myer Direct and they sell clothing and homewares aimed at a variety of ages and styles.  Recently they've started distributing for Next, a popular UK departement store, so they now offer some fashionable kids' clothes too.
A lot of the Ezibuy fashions aren't to my taste (they tend to be aimed at the over 50's) but they sell so very much that I can always find something that I like, and they often have some nice clothes aimed at younger women under their Emerge label.  
Oh and they have some lovely shoes!  I've always found their products to be made of high quality fabric and can't fault their service.  You can order online, by phone or by mail and they make returning items super easy too so if you're not happy or something doesn't fit you can send it back free of charge, using the same bag in which you received it.  Easy-peasy.
When it comes to Christmas shopping, they have some really nice decorations including glass baubles (see below) and these retro-esque ornaments.

Assorted Red Decorations from Ezibuy.com.au
You can find some pretty neat items in their clearance sales too! 
Shop at Ezibuy: for seasonal casual clothes, shoes, homewares, bedlinen and festive homewares


Peter's of Kensington - oh wow, so many things! I buy from PoK a couple of times a year - everything from bakeware and coffee mugs to kitchen linens and science kits for the kids.  They stock major local and international brands such Ashdene, Robert Gordon, Cath Kidston and Royal Doulton and the website is super easy to navigate.  You can find something for everyone at PoK whether they're into cooking, gadgetry or home decorating and there are many, MANY bargains to be found!
Approaching Christmas, PoK are packed full of snazzy decorations from the likes of Swarovski and Waterford and also offer heaps of great gift ideas, hampers and festive tableware.
This new range of mugs from Ashdene is super cute
Shop at Peter's of Kensington: if you want brand name homewares at heavily reduced prices; if you are looking for gifts that you won't find at your usual department store; if you want the latest in festive kitchenware.

The Book Depository - books!  Pretty much every book you can think of, at great discounted prices, plus free delivery.  If you want to buy for Christmas, however, best get in early as a lot of deliveries come from overseas and can take awhile to arrive.  You can spend hours browsing their categories for new and upcoming releases.  Hours.  So. Many. Books.  
Mostly I buy craft books, kids' books and colouring books but I also got some books on sausage making and preserving meats for my bro last year - The Book Depository has books on EVERYTHING!
There are loads of new Christmas titles coming out about now including The Swedish Christmas Table which could add a whole new element to the Scandi theme so many of us love!
The Swedish Christmas Table: Traditional Holiday Meals, Side Dishes, Candies, and Drinks
The Swedish Christmas Table is on my wishlist this year

Shop at The Book Depository: for every type of book imaginable.

Etsy- anything and everything handmade.  A world of original, handmade, vintage items on your desktop (or tablet - their app is great and makes mobile shopping far too easy!).  Original artworks and prints, kids' clothes, handmade leather shoes, every type of craft supply imaginable, handmade jewellery that is so beautiful and individual.  Etsy is a joy to browse, a virtual world of creative discovery.  
Crafters go all out at Christmas and Etsy becomes loaded with everything festive from Christmas pj's for the kids to hand sculpted ornaments.
Shop at Etsy: if you want something original, handmade and like buying straight from the maker, for one-off gifts ideas for the hard-to-buy-for.  Also great for jewellery findings, fabrics, indie patterns and vintage items.

eBay - chances are that if somewhere out there, someone is selling what you need, you'll find each other on eBay.  I tend not to buy new things on eBay so much as second hand and vintage. Old teacups and saucers, little pottery statues, books from my childhood and fabric.  The international sites can offer lots more than your country's site so don't forget to play around with that dot com!
Come Christmas time, people are sorting through their old decorations and getting the house spruced up for celebrations so there is a treasure trove of other people's stuff to look at!
Shop at eBay: if you want to recapture your childhood, are looking for a bargain or if you don't know where else to try... you'll find it on eBay!

So there are my Top Five online stores for Christmas shopping! :D

Sunday, October 19, 2014

CuteTute: Vintage Fabric Covered Bead Necklace


All the inspiration that was oozing from the interwebs last week has translated into my latest tutorial for a Vintage Fabric Covered Bead Necklace. This in turn has seen me get my craft on and start Christmas gift-making - yay! How super-organized is that?!


***********
After trying a couple of different methods for covering beads with fabric, I decided to cut out little leaf shapes and overlap the fabric til the beads are covered.  It takes longer and gets a bit sticky but there are some great advantages - you don't have a huge bunch of fabric to stuff into each end of the bead AND you don't need a sewing machine AND you can use as many different fabrics as you like AND it's a great scrap-buster so you can use all those teeny bits of your fave fabrics you just can't bear to throw away!  See?  It's totally worth it!

You'll need:
- leather strips or thonging or other jewellery thread*
- wooden beads in varous sizes
- vintage cotton fabric pieces
- scissors
- Mod Podge Gloss
- paint brush
- crochet hook or skewer or pen etc that fits snug into your beads - for the purpose of the tutorial, we'll call this the 'stick'
- jewellery pliers and jewellery findings including leather crimp ends, jump rings and a lobster clasp**





*the necklace in this tutorial is being made for my beautiful sister-in-law who doesn't like to wear leather so I'm using plastic coated jewellery thread instead
**to make it easier, especially if you're doing this with kids, you can ditch the jewellery findings and just tie knots in your chosen jewellery thread 

Here we go...


1. Choose your fabrics.  
I'm using a vintage blue, black and white folksy print (top left of the below pic) purchased from A Piece of Cloth (such pretty, genuine vintage fabrics from Jennifer's travels around the globe).


2. Measure
Cut a little strip of fabric and use it to measure the distance from just inside one hole of the bead to the other, like this:



The fabric strip is just long enough to cover the hole at both ends.
3. Get snipping!
Using this measurement as a guide, cut about a dozen skinny leaf shapes, like this:



You want the points of the leaf to fold into the holes of the bead.  The skinnier the points, the less bulk you'll have in the holes (that's a good thing!)

4. Get stickin'

Paint a little Mod Podge onto the bead and stick on your first piece of fabric. 




Paint a bit more Mod Podge onto the bead, making sure you put a little on the first piece of fabric so that you can overlap the pieces. 




6. Tidy up those ends

After you've stuck on a couple pieces, use your stick to gently push the fabric into the holes on each end of the bead.  You might need a teensy bit more Mod Podge to help it adhere. 



Continue doing this til the bead is covered.




7. Coat the bead

Now hold the bead with your stick and paint the whole surface with a neat coat of Mod Podge and leave to dry.



Repeat these steps for as many beads as you'd like on your necklace.  I'm covering one big bead for the centre, and four smaller ones (separated by six plain black beads).



8. Get threadin'
Pop your beads onto the thread and tie a knot next to each end bead to keep them in place.


9. Attach the jewellery findings (if you're using them)
Attaching findings is pretty straightforward (this was my first attempt and they're still standing strong!) but if you'd like a helping hand, you can find loads of tutorials on YouTube and Pinterest.



10. Voila! 
You've made your very own Vintage Fabric Covered Bead Necklace!  Nice work, crafty kittens!


Here are a couple of other necklaces I've made using different vintage fabrics





I hope you have loads of fun making your own fabric covered bead jewellery and I'd love to see your creations!  

Happy Crafting x

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mud Lovin'


You know those times when you know the kids are safe and you know where they are and they're clearly having fun because there are only happy noises to be heard... 
But they have their back to you so you're not 100% sure what they're up to?
That happened today as I was hanging out washing. 
Baby was only a few feet away from me. 
She was wandering around the patio and stopped at Berry's fairy garden. 
I heard happy sounds. 
I saw baby delicately touch the little pond (an old cake tin) and pull back because the water was cold. 
I continued hanging out washing, Baby continued making happy baby noises.

Then I heard a little splosh and a metallic twang.
This is what I saw.


'Oh no, Baby!' I say.
'Look Mama!' say those eyes, that smile.



Aw, what could I do? Baby was covered in muddy mud and was clearly having fun.  Any attempts at keeping her clean would be in vain.  So, naturally, I took more photos :)










Such play calls for an early bath!

Bye bye mud...

Hello Baby! x



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Feeling... Inspired

Don't you just love it when you find inspiration practically everywhere?  I think it's got a lot to do with state of mind - sometimes I'm just not in the mood to be welcoming new ideas or I'm not wearing my 'creative' hat.  But the last couple of days inspiration has been everywhere - and just in time for Christmas crafting!

Here are a couple of things I've come across in my blog feed which have set off a creative spark:

Fabric Covered Bead Necklaces from www.mypoppet.com.au



This tutorial set off a PING in my creative mind and I've been scouring the interwebs (and the fabric stash) for more ideas!  Check out Cinti's fab tutorial here 


Rainbow Beaded Stitch Markers from www.mypoppet.com.au



Another PING! And a wee freshening up of the craft supplies.  See the tutorial here

Summer Lace Bunting from Cherry Heart



These lacy little flags look so sweet and fun!  So far I've made four flags in an off-white lambswool.  I think four more should do nicely and I'll string them along our mantle.  You can find Sandra's tutorial here

These three ace tutorials (and the ideas they have inspired) have kept me busy this week and I can't wait to show you what I've been making!

x

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fable Table: Roast Pumpkin & Spinach Salad



You might read the title of this post and think 'Salad?! What?! No cake? No cheese? No chocolate?' But alas, this is not the kind of salad you eat when you're dieting. Oh no. 
It may sound like a salad. After all, it is a mixture of scrummy ingredients, tossed in a bowl and served as a side dish. And it looks like a salad. And it feels healthier if you call it a salad. But trust me. It doesn't taste like a salad ;)

Roast Pumpkin & Spinach Salad
Serves 4 -6

You'll need:


a nice chunk of pumpkin, about 250g, cut into 1-2cm cubes
a bowlful of baby spinach or other greens, rinsed and dried (today I've used a pre-packed mixture of rocket, baby spinach and other unknown lettucey types)
1/4 cup honey-dijon vinaigrette
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, cut into strips
1 tbs finely chopped red onion 

1. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.  Place the pumpking in a shallow baking dish and toss it with a dash of olive oil. Bake for about 25 minutes, without turning.  Remove the pumpkin from the oven and pop it aside in a bowl to cool a little


What emerges are rich, squishy cubes of pumpkin, each piece having one crisp, caramellised side, adding to the flavour and texture.
2. Spread the pine nuts into the tray which you used for the pumpkin and put them in the oven. After five minutes, give the tray a shake. If there are lots of lovely toasted golden pine nuts, remove the tray from the oven and put the pine nuts aside. If they're not golding up yet, put them back in the oven for another two minutes, then check again. It won't take long for the pine nuts to become fragrant and crunchy.

Toasting the pinenuts removes the bitter taste of the raw nut 
3. When you're ready to serve, toss together all the ingredients, reserving half the pine nuts, then sprinkle the remaining pine nuts over the tossed salad and serve.  I like it best served fresh when the pumpkin and pinenuts are still a little bit warm but served cold is delicious too!

Tonight we had our salad with delicious lamb burgers from our local free range butcher, served on Turkish rolls with tomato relish and potato wedges. After the pics were taken I loaded all the salad into my burger and it was heavenly! 

This is a staple for us during summer when the hot weather calls for something fresher and cooler than your standard steamed greens. It's a great addition to a BBQ meal and goes just as well with crumbed chicken. As far as I'm concerned, this dish is an all round winner!

Some notes on this recipe...
One of the great things about salad is that you can change so many of the ingredients to suit the tastes of your family.  Sometimes I'll leave out the sundried tomato, adding chopped fresh tomato instead, sometimes I'll add both.

If I can't find fresh, crisp baby spinach at the store (as happened today), I'll use mixed lettuce or other baby leafy greens. 

The red onion adds a little burst of colour and bite but can be left out if your family isn't keen.

If you don't like pumpkin, you can substitute with sweet potato.  You could add cubes of roasted beets. Leave out the pumpkin and tomato and add orange segments instead.  

There are loads of recipes out there for homemade salad dressings but I use store-bought simply because it's quick and tasty.  Note to self: find salad dressing recipes on Pinterest!

Make it a complete meal by mixing through a chopped up roast chicken and serve with crusty rolls. 

Make it your way and make it yours!