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!




Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cute Tute: Mini Moss Bowl



'What's a moss ball?'  Berry asked.
'A moth ball?' I reply. 'They're little white balls you put amongst your clothes to...' 
I was quickly shut down.
'Yeah, yeah, they smell gross and stuff but what are those moss balls called?' she said.
'Moss...bowls?' I asked, hesitantly.
Berry was getting frustrated.
'MOSS. BALLS!' She repeated.
***********

I took a moment to reflect on what my daughter could be talking about (lest I get scolded again) and remembered that on the weekend we had visited my friend's lovely shop, Little Lands, where she sells the most magnificent terrariums and Kokedama balls
Kokedama balls. 
That was the answer Berry was after. Yes, we were on the same page again.

Only now I was inspired by our misunderstanding. I wanted to make a moss bowl!


I sent Berry on a quest to find many mosses as she knows the whereabouts of everything in our garden, while I gathered the rest of the supplies. 

Berry soon returned with a mighty fine collection of mosses including a type I didn't even know we had, which looks a bit like something from the age of dinosaurs.


Tiny prehistoric-tree-looking moss

Flat fungi-like moss
Supplies (plus a snail shell)
Here's what you'll need to make your very own mini moss bowl:
a glass bowl 
stones
soil
mosses

That's it!

Start by laying a few stones in the bottom of your bowl to help with drainage.


Next fill the bowl about with soil, leaving about 1 inch to allow for the height of your mosses.


Now it's time to add the moss.  Use whatever moss you can find around the garden, even along the street.  Look between pavers, along rocky walls, on embankments and under trees - anywhere cool and damp.

As well as the fungi-type moss and the prehistoric-tree moss, we used furry, lime green moss which grows like a ground cover in a shady corner of our garden...


And baby's tears (this we got from my dad's garden as ours has all been lost in the renovation process)...


And these short, cushiony mosses, like those we found growing on the bridge during out little adventure last week




Fill your bowl with the mosses, covering every bit of soil and pressing them down gently.  It might look a bit messy but will sort itself out as it grows.


Bear insisted on adding a hippopotomaus as the moss bowl reminded him of a miniature hippo-habitat.


Now give your moss bowl a spritz with fresh, cool water (preferably from a very fancy-pants atomizer as they make watering fun!)...



And there you have it!  Your very own mini moss bowl slash open-air terrarium slash minipotomaus home!



Keep it somewhere out of direct sunlight and make sure it stays moist (the perfect excuse to buy yourself an atomizer!).



Our moss bowl is living on the mantle piece in my bedroom where it gets filtered sun and stays cool.  I'll post an update in the next few days to show how this little moss bowl is coming along x

A little side note - Keep all your supplies, especially the mosses, out of direct sunlight while you're creating your mini moss bowl.  We only made ours in the sun in order to get some decent pics for this post :)