Thursday, March 31, 2011

My creative space

I'm playing along with Kootoyou's Thursday 'My Creative Space' this week. Head on over to check out more creative goodness.

I've been working on finishing a dress for my big girl's 6th birthday soon. She seems to be leaning away from anything too girly lately, so instead of the pretty floral print I had in mind I decided to make the dress in a light/mid weight denim instead, and use a bit of pattern for the insert. Teamed with a long sleeved t-shirt and tights I thought it would make a nice cooler weather outfit. I've splashed out on some beautiful patterned green tights to give her along with the dress. Hopefully she'll like the set but who knows!

And in another case of 'snap' with my friend Fi, she has also been enjoying a birdie theme with her girl's dress. And on the same day that I posted on my new peasant tops she was also doing the same! Ah, great minds... ;-)

Hope you're enjoying some creativity in your Thursday too.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wayols and Ligas and other stuff

This motherhood gig is hard at times. But you knew that already. And it's only the little stuff I'm talking about! No catastrophies here at the moment, just everyday annoyances.

I'm feeling guilty today for yelling at my big girl this morning for playing instead of getting ready for school. It's not her fault that I have 2 other littlies to get ready, that I can't find any shoes that fit no. 2 and that no. 3 is still running around bare bottomed when we have to go NOW! Or that I'm tired because I stayed up too late working on a dress for her birthday that I'm not even sure if she'll like. Or that I subsequently woke up late and so now have no time to have my morning sanity-saver coffee before rushing to school... arghh! Does it sometimes feel hard to hold all the little things together for you too? Those flash points during the day can get me down.

But then I look at her gorgeous drawings and first attempts to spell. And marvel at her sense of imagination: "what's a Liga sweetie?" a shrug of the shoulders and "half lion, half tiger, mum" of course. My heart melts and all the little things don't matter.

It's a shame it's so hard at times to not 'sweat the small stuff'. I read blogs of women with older children and shudder at the things I'll need to deal with in time to come. So I try to tell myself to relax and enjoy the here and now, even if I'm not having a wayol of a time (haa haa). And make sure I get that coffee early ;-)

PS. Have a look at what Trula has done with her drawing sessions with her daughter - too cute!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Simplicity 3835 x 3

I recently discovered one of the "Built by Wendy" patterns, the one with the peasant-style top and dress with cute sleeve ties, AKA Simplicity 3835. And when I researched it I realised what a cult following it seems to have.

Not wanting to jump straight into making the dress, I had a go at the top, partly to see if the sizing was right. I cut up an old doona (duvet) cover I'd found and brought home in with one of my $6 bags from my favourite op shop. It's a blue/grey kind of open weave cotton (no label attached) that has a linen feel.

At first I thought I'd used a size too small, but then I kind of wiggled into it (there's no zip or opening apart from the elasticised neck opening) and it fit well. I even went on to put the darts in the back just to give it a bit more shape. Anything too sack-like can look pretty dreadful on me, so this helped. A little more wiggling and all was well...

Of course I couldn't stop there and decided to turn an old dress that had lost it's shape into another one. It's a very very soft cotton, Indian I think, beautiful to wear, but I'm just not that thrilled with it - maybe just too drapey? But anyway...

On I went. It seemed a shame to leave the leftover Alexander Henry fabric from my dress languishing in the stash, and, as many avid 3835 makers note, the pattern uses quite a small amount of fabric. Just as I was making a few final adjustments I realised that the fabric was upside down - ie flowers hanging down - on the front. Ah well, that's life, I told myself. What's a few droopy flowers between friends ;-)

So, all in all I'm pretty happy with Simplicity 3835 and ready to join the cult! Have you tried it?

Friday, March 25, 2011

I love... Mary-Jane's

I don't tend to buy lots of shoes or spend lots of money on them... well, maybe my boots :-) But when I was recently looking for shoes for my big girl at Target I stumbled upon not one but two cute pair of Mary-Jane's - for me - that I loved. I decided I couldn't leave them there. And with the 20% discount they were a great buy. So hopefully that's it for shoes for me for a while. Perfect trans-seasonal (is that the term?) shoes.

What are your favourite shoes?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My creative space

I'm playing along with Kootoyou's Thursday 'My Creative Space' this week. Lots more creativity over there to check out.

There's a lot of family admin (or 'fadmin' as I heard it called recently :-) going on here today. You know, boring stuff like paying bills, making appointments etc. So there's not much time for craft, but between stirring the dinner on the stove and hanging out the washing (my life is so glamorous!) I was determined to start tracing off a pattern.

My big girl is turning 6 soon, and instead of having a party this year she is having her 2 besties here for a sleepover. All the girls love craft and pretty things, and I wanted to incorporate some of that into the event. I bought the lovely "Bedtime stories" kimono pyjama pattern from Oliver & S a while ago and thought I'd make a matching pair for each of them to wear on the night and take home. It wouldn't be a family celebration if I didn't come up with some lengthy project that will keep me up til all hours! But I'm trying to be organised with this one. I have about 2 weeks, and am hopefully buying the fabric this weekend. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I won! Now for some action...

I've been thinking quite a lot about knitting lately... I know lots of people love it and are absolutely addicted to it (are you one?).

Apart from the odd little bit of playing around I've never quite gotten into knitting. But I think it might do me good, slow me down a little with the obsessive making. Part of the reason I love sewing so much is the instant gratification - I can run up a new piece of clothing quite quickly (albeit at times very dodgy quality!). But it's not restful, relaxing and almost meditative as I hear knitting can be. It would be nice to enjoy the journey a bit more rather than rushing to the destination, if you know what I mean. And getting to work with beautiful wools sounds divine.

So... when I saw that Kate from the lovely blog Foxs Lane had a competition running to win a beginners knitting pack from Knit Knit, I jumped in and entered, thinking that if, by some slim chance, I actually won it would be my sign to get cracking. And guess what, I actually won! (you can see Kate's hubby modelling here).

The pack includes absolutely everything I need to get started and the pattern is for a beautiful hooded scarf in a gorgeous kiwi fruit green coloured wool. And this, just after my post on the colour green! Another sign, surely! One of the things I love about the project is that it's not a regular scarf, so I won't be having flashbacks to the scratchy acrylic one I made years and years ago - this is lovely 100% wool and a beautiful style. And I'm already imagining mini versions for the kids with little pom poms attached around the hood - whoa! I'd better walk before I can run!

So thank you Kate and Knit Knit. Now I just need to push those ideas of instant gratification aside and embrace a new rhythm to my making. I'll keep you posted, but give me some time, OK ;-)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Scenes from a (rainy) weekend away

We came back yesterday from a long weekend away with friends. Although my visions of playing with the kids on the beach for hours didn't materialise, we did...

...Stay in a great holiday house with lots of space for 4 grown-ups and 5 kids. Very Australian in feel, it was full of wood, steel and corrogated iron, with a great native scrubby garden (good for treasure hunts when the weather allowed) and a lovely wood fire for the slightly chilly evenings...

...The kids played and explored, watched the beautiful birds...

...And the big little girls did some craft of course! It's genetic, you know. They designed their own little teddies, cut them out of felt, and after Crafty Deb and I embroidered their names on they sewed them together and stuffed them. Of course I forgot to photograph them. There was also a lot of pom pom making, cutting of paper shapes, drawing and making of books complete with pictures with 6yr-old spelling "My holdas"...

...And when there was a break in the weather they squealed with delight at foraging on the beach...

... Crafty Deb and I had a 'Shearwater Kaftan' wearing weekend (2 for her, 1 for me) and she impressed me with her fantastic idea of the sleeve snap detail (I've only done buttons)...

...Then driving home we got stuck in a flash flood and ended up feeling like we were driving through rivers. I now have a bit more empathy for the poor people up north who lived through severe flooding recently.

Friday, March 18, 2011

This moment

I'm joining Soulemama (and many others) this week with the Friday ritual of 'this moment' - a moment from the week gone by. Happy weekend to you.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Simple family vegetarian meal

People often ask me for ideas for simple vegetarian family meals, so I thought from time to time I'd show you some of those we enjoy.

As you may know, I am a vegetarian (lacto-ovo - I eat eggs and dairy but no meat or seafood, since I was 15), and the Mr and kids are not. I don't cook meat for them but about once a week I cook them fish as I feel this adds something to their diet. The Mr cooks them meat occasionally on the weekends and also buys them meat sometimes for their sandwiches and when we go out for dinner. But as I am the main cook in the house I get to choose what we eat mostly :-) And of course I cook what I feel like - or anything I can make up from what happens to be in the fridge and cupboard at the time.

What was in the cupboard recently was a packet of "Israeli cous cous", the large grain version of the more common small one. So I decided to do a bit of a fridge vegie clean-out and make roast vegies with cous cous and chick peas.

When I cook roast vegies I like to do a tray of root vegetables, including anything I have.
This one included:
• carrots
• potatoes
• parsnips
• sweet potatoes
• onions
• beetroot (added after pic taken)

And also a tray of soft vegetables like:
• capsicum (peppers)
• mushrooms
• zucchini (courgettes)
• whole cloves of garlic in their skins - yum

Add a generous glug of olive oil (hey, it's good for you!) and cook in a preheated oven at about 200c until the edges start to brown and they are nicely cooked. The soft vegies will not take as long as the root vegies so add them to the oven maybe 15 minutes or so later.

The big cous cous cooked like a dream, unlike the sometimes infuriating small cous cous that can stick together - arghh! I followed the packet instructions but cooked it with a bit of stock (I like Massell brand vegetable stock cubes), then added some chopped fresh herbs, chopped green olives and some chick peas. It's also nice with some toasted chopped almonds.

My little helpers couldn't wait to sample it...

and kept coming back for more*.

The Mr and I like to spice this up with a harissa or hot sauce of some sort on top, it's also great with some natural yoghurt on the side or some crumbled fetta on top.

* Just in case you're wondering, no, they're not super-kids, they didn't eat all of the vegies, and a fair amount of cous cous got squashed into the floor ;-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gift for a little friend

I've just finished making one of my little beenie bears for the daughter of a dear friend of mine who lives in Germany. The bear is filled with rice and gets heated in the microwave to warm up little bodies on cold nights. I figured I'd better send it now before the weather warms up in the northern hemisphere and she doesn't have a need for warm little buddy!

I enjoyed making the gift a lot and it made me think about how I'd like to restock my long neglected and empty little Bubala Etsy shop. The slippers, blankets, toys and pyjama bags above are some of my other favourite things to make for babies and children. Lately I've been hand embroidering the child's name onto bears I've made as gifts (as in the top pic), and I'm wondering now if I should consider offering this as an option on the other items. What do you think?

Monday, March 14, 2011

I love... bird motifs

I'm not sure what it is about them, but I'm drawn to bird motifs in jewelry, and in particular brooches. These are some that I'm covetting lately.

Sadly I seem to have lost my beautiful yellow Elk birdy brooch. I keep thinking it will turn up in a jacket pocket or underneath the sofa, or somewhere equally boring, but he's been gone several months and still no word...

L-R Khaki bird ring Birdy stack brooch Tasmanian oak bird brooch
Silver brooch Elk fat birdy brooch Seagull wooden brooch

Friday, March 11, 2011

Blue & red

For some reason lately I've been noticing all of the great blue and red colour combinations that seem to occur in our everyday lives here.

It's not normally a colour combo I'd choose (too nautical, too primary maybe?) but I seem to be actively seeking it out at the moment.

According to colour psychology, apparently, red influences attention to detail and blue influences creativity. A good balance.

Do you have a favourite colour combination at the moment?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My creative space

I'm playing along with Kootoyou's Thursday 'My Creative Space' this week. Lots more creativity over there to check out.

Hi! How are you? Not much craftiness going on around here at the moment, what with visitors, school issues, preschool wobbliness, whingey toddler and life in general. You know how it is. But just enough time to squeeze in a quick dye job for a favourite old Jigsaw shirt that was looking very tired. It's the same midnight blue as the last shirt I dyed (a shade boringly called "navy" by Dylon). I'm really loving this colour at the moment and am afraid both dyeing and this blue are going to become new obsessions. Oh well, best to give in to it I guess :-) Hope you're having a creative Thursday.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Make do & mend - toy stroller

I love the phrase 'Make do and mend'. During WW2 people were encouraged to mend clothes to reduce the need to buy new ones, which were in short supply. And even though times are a lot easier now generally, I still think it's a good way to think to try to reduce our environmental footprint. So I thought I'd try to fix more things in future rather than throw them out, and maybe blog them to get me motivated.

It bugs me when I have to throw out old toys, not when they go to friends or the charity shop of course, but when they go into the bin. I hate the thought of all that plastic in particular going into landfill. I imagine it lying around for hundreds of years and I wonder how the earth can cope with all we throw at it. A part of me would love to live a life where I consume as little packaging as possible. I'm so used to the conveniences of modern life that anything more than small changes seems too hard. So I try to just do little bits where I can, even though it feels hopelessly inadequate.

Anyway... the kids' little dolly pram had been a bit out of action for a while with a ripped fabric seat. So, in a lightbulb moment recently I decided to make a new one for it to extend the life of this popular toy. I unpicked the seams of the old one to use it as a pattern, then made a new one in the striped cotton from Ikea that I've used on the girls room's curtains and light shade. I bound the edges in a bias binding and made sure I sewed the stress points several times as the kids like to sometimes push each other around in it too :-)

Do you have any tips for making do and mending? I'd love to hear.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cheat's dress

During the heatwave a few weeks ago I decided I didn't have enough dresses and looked around to see what I could quickly make one out of. Something stretchy would be quick, and I remembered I had bought this great piece of hand printed jersey from Prints Charming during their sale last year. I'd used some of it for my boy's monkey pants and put the rest away, unsure of what to do with it. As soon as I imagined it as a dress I knew it had potential...

So during a 40c day, with the kids sprawled out in front of the fan, I set to it with pins and scissors. I wanted to make a tubular dress, floor length, with a fold-over top. It's in the same vein as the beautiful 'Love me 2 times' dress style from Gaia Conceptions on Etsy that I've long admired.

There was only just enough fabric to do it, so one seam right down the back would be the most economical use of fabric. I took some rough measurments of my bust, waist and hips, then folded the fabric in half and marked it out. Next I did some rough tacking by hand, rather than machine stitching, which would have taken too long to take out if the fit was wrong... which it was. So, after several try-on's, take-off's and adjustments it was finally OK.

I then just sewed right down the seam with my overlocker (serger). As I have no stretch stitch or zig zag on my old sewing machine, this would have to do. When I tried it on the seam at the back looked a bit puckery, so I wondered what to do for a while then in a 'duh' moment realised I could just wear the seam at one side and the tension would pull it out. So: tube of fabric, one seam, and hey presto, a dress.

As with any experimental sewing project, there are positives and negatives to this dress:

+ Positives
• quick to sew
• stash-busting - yay!
• comfy to wear
• versatile: can be worn with top folded over, either inside or outside, also can turn it down several times at waist and it becomes a skirt.

- Negatives
• a bit tighter fit than I would have chosen around the hips due to running out of fabric!
• the style's a bit confused - the fabric is casual but straplessness and clinginess make it look a bit more dressy. So a bit showy for day but casual for night... or maybe I'm being too picky.
• relies on tension only to stay up, so I'm always a bit nervous that one of the littlies will yank it down!
• Serging only on seams means it will probably come apart some time soon...

But hey, for here and now it answers the brief of a quick, comfy dress.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My creative space

I'm playing along with Kootoyou's Thursday 'My Creative Space' this week. Lots more creativity over there to check out.

I'm sitting having a cold drink and reflecting on a bit of a double whammy upsetting mama morning: First the little girl screamed for me not to leave her at pre school. I left with tears streaming down my face, listening to her desperation mixed with rage and knowing I had to leave her. And then the boy screamed his head off in the doctor's surgery before he went in for his 18 month vaccination. The doctor and nurse were so lovely, showing him toys, offering him stamps and stickers and even getting the bubble solution out and blowing bubbles to try to make him happy... and I just wanted to leave him there :-) My GP is truly wonderful. It took ages to find her amongst the not-so-great, and takes ages to get an appointment, but I can cry and laugh and cry again with her and I always leave feeling better. This doc has bedside manner in spades. Which is lucky for me. And my kids.

Anyway, enough of my mothering woes, on to my creative space...

Last night I turned my back on the mountains of washing needing to be folded and treated myself to getting on with altering a recent op shop find. I'm a sucker for soft cotton fabrics, rows of hooks and eyes and a mandarin collar, and this shirt had all of those. BUT, it was yellow - great for some but terrible for my colouring.

So the plan was to dye it, alter the seams slightly to fit better and make some sort of decorative fabric element to sit on it (a brooch/flower type thing). The unpredictable nature of dying has put me off doing it for a long time, but I thought this was worth a go. The dye took beautifully (I think the dyes have come along since I used them in my 20's) and is just the shade of midnight blue I was after (difficult to photograph though, maddeningly). But the stitching has not dyed, which must mean it's polyester. At first I thought I'd have to stitch over it in blue and then remove the original stitches, but now I'm kind of warming to this look. What do you think - keep the stitching or ditch it?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Green. Not just for frogs, apparently.

Years ago I remember a friend I worked with telling me that her favourite colour was green. I thought she was extremely unusual and a little bonkers! I distinctly remember thinking that green was still considered quite unfashionable and had been in the doghouse for a long long time - since the 80's. I guess there had been such a swing away from the 70's oranges and greens and it just didn't fit with the fluoro pink and yellow and that smurf blue that was everywhere... this was my perception anyway (maybe it was otherwise out in the big wide world :-). When I studied design I found colour theory fascinating and started to see what factors came into play as far why I liked or disliked a colour. But still I couldn't help being influenced by the trends of the time.

But, as I admitted with yellow a while ago, this old foe, the murky, dirty, slimy green has become intriguing to me, and worked it's way into my home, lifestyle and wardrobe. I very suddenly realised this recently when I looked down and noticed I was wearing head to toe green, in varying shades, apart from my toenails (don't think I'll go there yet, but never say never!).

To Sarah: you were way ahead of me and I am now totally reformed... any current tips? :-)
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