Here are the new lunch bags I've made for my girls over the last day or so. I used the tutorial here, but made a few changes [don't I always?]. I didn't use interfacing, but instead I used Insul-brite, as I wanted them insulated for our hot climate. I also swapped the bias loop for hat elastic, as I thought it would be easier for young fingers to hook onto a button. My last change was to make a handle so they're easier to carry. Miss 5 and Miss 7 picked their fabric and their buttons, and are both very excited to try them out tomorrow when school starts.
We've just come back from a week away at the beach and I just had to share this photo. Miss 5 is wearing her new skirt I posted about last week, and she decided [for a reason only known to her] that she would walk around with a paper bag on her head. That's right, her ever cautious mother did not request her to go incognito for this photo... I only took the photo because she looked so ridiculous, it's amazing it's not blurred as I was laughing a lot.
I needed to do something special with the girls to pass the time today as we are quarantined [with impetigo no less - that's school sores - but I prefer the medical name as it doesn't sound so gross] and Mr E is away at a conference. I picked up these really cute cake toppers at Aldi on Friday [yes gluten free - I always read labels!!] that were Australian animals. Today we made chocolate cupcakes [brown for dirt] with green icing [for grass] and stuck them on top. Very cute and the kids all thought they were very special. Cake toppers are a great way for the kids to do the decorating and having the cakes coming out looking very presentable. If only we were able to go out we could share them with someone...
I spent two evenings this week sewing some summer skirts for the girls, seeing as we were going on holidays to the beach and they didn't fit in many of last season's clothes.
I started out making a couple for Miss 7 and one for Miss 3... but as you can see things got out of hand and I made a heap more. There are three styles of skirt: one is a full circle, one is a tiered skirt. Both are very quick and easy to make. The third style is the stripy one in the second photo. I found a fabulous wide-striped fabric last year just waiting for an opportunity to make one of these pleated skirts. I've box-pleated the stripes in, so it looks like a white skirt with coloured stripes. I love it - I wish I fit into it, but only Miss 7 does.
I can post a tutorial on how to make a full circle skirt here if anyone is interested. Let me know in the comment section if you'd like me to. I use them all the time as they're so pretty on the girls, and lovely to twirl in, plus SUPER quick.
I may have mentioned previously that I have never been much of a gardener. But I am trying to change all that. As well as the Australian native garden we plan to have a large number of edibles throughout the yard, and a vege patch of course. This will take us a lot of time [so don't hold your breath] as we have to wait for our house renovations to be over. Just so the builders don't wreck any new plants with their vehicles etc.
I'm itching to get started, however, and have decided that I want to grow rosellas. My Nanna used to grow rosellas and I remember visiting her one weekend while I was at uni and helping her to pick them, shell them, and make jam. Let me tell you something about rosella jam: it's amazing! Nanna's rosella bushes are long gone now, so I started researching the plant in the hope of obtaining a couple.
I found out that the rosella is actually a type of hibiscus [which is another plant I'm very keen to grow, probably behind our pool] called Hibiscus Sabdariffa. I purchased some seeds online and planted them a couple of weeks ago... and they're growing!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A couple even have their second set of leaves starting.
They are in pots sitting in an old wheelbarrow covered in chicken wire, as the chooks would devour the sweet new leaves given half a chance. That's been handy, as I've needed to move them every couple of days out of our builder's way... we are renovating at the moment and the house and yard is in chaos!!!
Well, most of it is in chaos. Here is a picture of the native garden I mentioned in a previous post taken this afternoon: What you may or may not realise is that we have a garden wall now, and TURF!! In the previous post about this native garden the green in the foreground of the photo is all weeds, which the chickens have since made short work of. It looks so lovely, and the kids were really excited to run on grass again. I hadn't realised till now just how depressing and dusty the yard had become. Poor little Miss 1 had forgotten what grass was, I think, and couldn't walk on it properly!
It's so nice to have one part of our home 'finished' so we can escape there at the moment.
The other week I made melting moments - something I've been wanting to bake for ages. I haven't made them for years. I have to admit, they're not very good for you [LOTS of butter] but so yummy it's worth making them for a special treat. I checked my recipe books on the shelf, then looked online, and then made up my own recipe based on my research:
MICHELLE'S MELTING MOMENTS
250g butter 1/3 cup icing sugar 1 1/2 cups plain flour [gluten free of course - I make up the Bette Hagman mixture] 1/2 cup cornflour 1 tsp vanilla Filling: 60g butter 1 tsp lemon rind 3 tsp lemon juice 2/3 cup icing sugar
Beat butter, icing sugar & vanilla essence with electric beaters until pale and creamy. Add flours and mix until a soft dough forms. Pipe rounds with large star nozzle onto a baking paper-lined tray. Bake at 160C for 15 minutes. Cool on tray.
For filling: beat butter, lemon juice and lemon rind until pale. Add icing sugar and beat until combined. Refrigerate until required.
Assemble biscuits and enjoy!!
These biscuits are AMAZING. You don't have to pipe them if you don't want to: roll small balls and flatten them slightly with the back of a fork. You MUST however cool them on the baking tray or they will just crumble everywhere. Don't ask me how I know this.
It was Book Week last week and Miss 5 had a dress-up day at school [as her favourite book character]. She decided [much to my dismay] that her favourite book was 'Diary of a Wombat'. So I had to make a wombat costume:
I found a pattern in an old Top Kids magazine that I thought would work, and jumped in.
I learnt a bit about fake/faux fur while doing this project which I thought I'd share with you in case you one day have to sew with this medium too. I have to admit I was nervous before I started.
THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT SEWING WITH FAKE FUR:
Expect the sewing room to look like you murdered a small furry animal in it.
Use a craft knife and cut single pieces from the back, then comb all fibres away from seam allowance prior to sewing, that way you won't cut the fur itself and not only is it tidier [see point 1] but you won't see your seam lines.
If you don't care about seeing the seams, use normal scissors - just make sure they're not your bestest most sharpest [or they won't be for long!].
Use a medium width zig zag for seams instead of straight stitches [it doesn't catch the fur as much].
The reverse side of fake fur can be a little scratchy. I lined this costume with satin so it felt lovely on.
Make the costume bigger than it needs to be so that all your children [even bigger ones] can try it on... they'll want to!
It's a very easy medium to work with - on this scale. Making something very small like a stuffed toy could prove more difficult.
I'll be using fake fur again, it was great fun to work with!
A dear friend asked me for some advice last week about gluten free food for children. It took a little thought, and while pondering my answer, I thought about my gluten free journey so far, and realised how far I'd come.
A bit of history: my 7 year old daughter was diagnosed with coeliac disease 4 years ago. My MIL and SIL already had coeliac disease so I was aware of gluten free food to some extent, and had cooked some things gluten free for family gatherings. However nothing prepared me for the first shopping trip after my daughter's diagnosis. It seemed there was nothing that she could eat. And anything she could eat, was inedible, either because much of the gluten free food available in the shops is gross, or because she was 3 years old, and therefore a picky eater.
I joined the coeliac society, which was a help, spent a fortune on food, threw out every loaf of gluten free bread [read: brick] I made for nearly 6 months, and had to re-learn how to bake and cook. I spent a fortune on tupperware to colour-code my pantry [black lids are 'bad', red are safe for her], and obsessed about every meal.
Then we had to contend with kindy and school, and lunchboxes - SO much harder to find gluten free food that travels well and is still edible by lunch time. And THEN I got gestational diabetes while pregnant with my third daughter. And let me tell you, low-GI food and gluten-free food are almost poles apart. Now there was nothing I could eat. It was back to square one with meals and food obsessing... I typically made two or three different meals every night as anything my daughter could eat [potatoes, rice etc.] I could not. I am thankful the gestational diabetes ended with that pregnancy. And anyone out there who has both coeliac disease AND diabetes [the two illnesses are related] - I take my hat off to you!
I work really hard to make sure my daughter doesn't miss out on too much: I make fish & chips at home [yes I own a deep fryer], I'm always trying a new gluten-free challenge [eg. donuts, pancakes, dumplings] with mixed success. We have cupcakes in the school freezer so when there's a birthday cake she gets a treat too. When there's cooking at school I supply gluten free ingredients [I used to bake oval-shaped biscuits every Friday morning in prep until I found out they froze well!]. Mostly she's content, but occasionally she gets down and wishes she didn't have to eat gluten free food... my SIL said even as an adult she still has the occasional day like this.
Having a child with coeliac disease is difficult, stressful, and worrying. Each time she accidentally ingests gluten [it does happen] it is an ingestion of poison that has short-term issues, and long-term risks. However it is also a disease that is cured with a dietary change. Yes, a strict diet, but hey, it's not leukaemia or some other devastating illness. As a family we eat very little pre-prepared food so we eat a very healthy diet on the whole [though the countless cupcakes on my blog may imply otherwise].
Why am I telling you all of this? I guess I just want to share some of my experiences with others who may be in a similar situation, or who want to understand more about what it's like. Drop me a line sometime if you, too, have to deal with any of these issues... it's always good to share ideas!
Here are the birthday cakes [most of them] that I made for my 4 girls for their birthdays this year... they all chose their own [except Miss 1], and helped with the decorating for the most part. It's been a busy time! I'm hoping now I can concentrate more on my papercraft and sewing and less on cakes... until 2011.
Here are the cards I did with the playgroup ladies at coffee and cards this week: the black and white card is a slightly different take on a father's day card - not your usual sailboats or tools. The sillouette card is a new stamp I wanted to try - simple but very effective. You can't tell in the photo, but I cut out and mounted a second set of the largest flowers on foam which gives the card a real 3D pop-out factor.
We had a lovely time on Wednesday, it was a great time-out for the busy mums.
Here are cupcakes I made for Miss 1 to celebrate her birthday yesterday with her playgroup friends. This is only a few - I actually made 4 dozen!! I wasn't planning on ladybirds, but when I looked in the cupboard and couldn't find anything more inspirational to decorate cakes with than chocolate chips, I was forced to be creative and think of something cute that suited a first birthday. This is the result.
Later in the day I decided to use the leftover icing to practice my buttercream roses. Here is the result:
If you look carefully [though the poor photography may prevent this I hope] you will see one of the roses is actually upside down, as it fell onto it's head as I was transferring it. Others are melting. And some look okay. Things I learned during this process:
1. the people who make this look easy on YouTube are VERY talented and well-practiced.
2. when the icing is warm from being handled it makes gooey, melty flowers that don't look like roses [Mr E thought one of them was a frangipani!].
3. making them and putting them straight in the fridge helps the above problem.
4. although roses are my favourite flower I've never looked that closely at how the petals are formed around each other, cause for the life of me I couldn't recall what a real rose looked like when I was trying to make one.
So this was a process that produced mixed feelings - because one or two were a success, it took a lot of practice and patience and honestly it was mostly an accident!
Oh, and if you eat 4 or 5 of these 'practice' roses in one sitting you feel a little queasy afterwards [experience talking].
Since moving house, and ripping out everything that was growing in our yard, I've discovered a new love: gardening. Unlike most [read: all] of my hobbies, gardening forces me to slow down, as you have to be patient to wait for the plants to actually grow. This is a very good thing for me. In fact, I'm finding it very relaxing.
On the converse, if I'm cranky and need to get rid of some frustration, or in need of exercise, I can grab out the maddock and rip into the ground and after a short time I'm no longer frustrated [mostly because I'm so puffed - I'm REALLY unfit!].
Over the last 3 months we've been digging out, planting and mulching the back corner of our yard. The plan is to grow up a tall lilly pilly hedge along the fence to screen next door's enormous shed, and when the other plants grow, it will be a bit like an informal maze, with the paths leading to the paved area Mr E has put in the back corner. We've used Australian natives, put in a dry creek bed [with plans for a small bridge over this for the girls]. Now that it's all mulched, it looks amazing.
And all that is left to do is wait...
Initially we were checking on the plants every single day [mostly to make sure none had died, as we don't know that much about gardening]. Our neighbours would have laughed if they'd heard us "Look, there's a new shoot on this one!" "I think this callistemon is growing!" "One leaf on the lemon myrtle has been chewed by something!".
It has been such fun to plan, execute, and COMPLETE this project. Good for the girls too, who all helped with various tasks. Now we're planning the rest of the garden... it's a very big yard, and we've ripped everything out, so it won't happen overnight. But we'll have a ball doing it. And hopefully by the end of the process we won't have killed too many plants and will be able to call ourselves gardeners!
This is the birthday card I made for my MIL to go with the animal doorstops and fabric I mentioned last week. She received them in the post late last week and I'm happy to report she loved them.
I decided before I tackled anything else I needed to tidy my sewing room as every surface was covered [again]. In my tidying I uncovered a panel I'd forgotten all about for a soft book so I made that up:
And I rediscovered my UFO's - a very large tub full - and decided I must use one of them to learn to free motion quilt on my new machine. Here is my first attempt:
I've a lot more panels to quilt but if I remain consistent I should have it complete by the end of the week I hope! It took me ages to work out how to find the menu to set the machine up to quilt... it was actually quite easy to find, but I had no idea where to start! I'm hoping for many more hours in front of the machine this week!
I finished off this apron for myself last night - I'm such a messy cook, I really need to wear aprons. This fabric is an upholstery grade fabric I picked up at IKEA before moving late last year.
It's a large rectangle, hemmed on all four sides, with the ties attached 8.5 cm below the top edge. I made the ties from scraps of red fabric I had lying around. I modified the idea from the apron in Kelly Doust's book 'The Crafty Minx.
Trialled the apron tonight - I was dubious, as it has no shape, but I just love it. Especially the fabric. So do my girls... they all want one "just like it".
My mother-in-law is a fabulous dressmaker so I bought her some fabric for her birthday. I also made these cute animals. She used to have some frogs and lizards filled with sand as doorstops, but over the years, with a lot of help from the grandchildren playing with them, they all 'died'. I made a platypus, lizard and frog. The larger frog on the left was made by Miss 7 today under my supervision.
Of course all four critters are a little 'flat' right now, but when filled with sand I think they'll be just right. The critters and fabric will be posted tomorrow. I hope she likes them.
I have a 3 year old. She's having trouble with obedience, particularly in obeying me. Any of you reading this who have or have had a 3 year old will understand that it's not been fun lately. The terrible twos are NOTHING compared with what happens when your child turns 3.
This is an example of a typical 'discussion': ME "Miss 3 please go to the toilet before we go out." MISS 3 "I don't want to." ME "Please go to the toilet - we can't go until you do." MISS 3 "No I don't want to." ME "Miss 3 go to the toilet now! Otherwise you won't be coming." MISS 3 [silence, she continues playing] ME [voice raised] "I am going without you unless you go now!" MISS 3 "But I don't need to." ME "I don't care!"
At this point I'm really cranky, she is upset, I'm yelling as I walk to the car that I'm leaving without her, she's screaming that she doesn't want to be left behind, and THEN she does what she's told. Considering how often this scenario repeats itself during a typical day [sometimes it repeats in the same hour], I'm probably not dealing with it in the best way.
It's so frustrating, and as I took deep breaths trying to cool down after this scenario repeated for the third time today it suddenly occurred to me: just as Miss 3 disobeys me when she wants to exercise her will, I disobey the Lord when I choose to exercise my will, and not submit to His plan for my life. I do this a lot... disobey God, that is.
The first thing I did when I realised this was pray, and ask for forgiveness. The next thing I did was obey something He'd asked me to do a week ago. Tomorrow I'm going to remember my disobedience when I have to deal with Miss 3's. Hopefully this new perspective on the situation will help me deal with her and I will be able to teach her obedience, rather than react to her disobedience.
Miss 7's best friend is having a birthday tomorrow, which I found out about today! How wonderful to be able to slip into my sewing room tonight and make a gift for her. This bag is made from two fat quarters, one for the lining/straps and the other for the outer and pockets [one internal, one external]. It came together quite quickly, in fact I think I took more time planning how to go about it than I did actually sewing.
I have a few eco shopping bags cut out ready to sew together, and my MIL's birthday gift to finish off this week, then I think I'll tackle a zippered bag, so if I need to 'whip' one up again in a hurry I will be confident to do so. I couldn't get my head into gear tonight to work out a zip in the top of this bag.
I'm starting to understand my friend CraftyMummy's obsession with bags last year... it is a quick and satisfying project that is SO useful. I love making useful things, there's not enough sewing hours in my life to make things that are impractical!
I wear many hats including wife, mum, chauffer, cook, dressmaker, family historian, housekeeper, friend, crafter, daughter, role model, musician, planner, sister, quilter, mentor... and I love all my hats [well maybe not the housework one!].
He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God?"
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
SEWING TO DO LIST
fabric boxes for my new sewing room storage
fleece - tracksuits or jackets or other warm clothes
You are most welcome to use any ideas you find here to make things for your family, friends, or yourself, but please don't sell any ideas or items made from tutorials for profit. If you're really keen to make some of these things to sell I would appreciate you contacting me. I would love it if you used my photos and linked to my posts, providing the appropriate credit for the content. Any other inquiries please contact me. Thanks!