34. Home Made Gifts

It was my lovely sister's birthday yesterday and a few weeks ago I set myself the challenge of handmaking her present.  There are so many great craft websites these days that inspiration is easily found.  One of my favourites is Craftgawker where you can find all sorts of fun things to make at home.

After an evening browsing the Internet and bookmarking pages I found a few craft projects that I thought my sis would like. Here's how I got on.

Headbands with Felt

I saw a similar idea to these headbands on Craftgawker. They're really easy and quick to make.  All you need is a plain headband or a piece of elastic cut to size with the ends sewn together. Then choose your design and hand stitch it on using embroidery thread and a large needle, or you could use a sewing machine if you prefer.  The top headband has felt circles that are cut in towards the centre to make little flowers. The second one has three overlapping felt leaves.

Hair Combs

All you need is two plain combs and some different coloured embroidery thread. Start at one end and wind it around the edge then secure the thread at the end put weaving it back through with a darning needle.


My two kids made these clay beads using Fimo oven bake clay for their Aunty.  All of their playdough rolling skills came into play as they made lots of little balls for the beads. We thread them onto some bamboo skewers before baking them in the oven. When they're cool pull them off the bamboo and you have yourself some beads! They really loved making this necklace themselves and were very keen to show their Aunty their favourite bead.

Gold Leaf Brooch

I made this brooch from some gold Fimo clay. I rolled it very thin then pressed a leaf into it before cutting it out.  Before baking it I secured a safety pin to the back with another small piece of Fimo.

Hope you're having a good week - happy crafting everyone!

Blue Gum Markets and a New Bag

It was a gorgeous day yesterday so the kids and I went up the mountain to the Blue Gum Markets at Faulconbridge School. The markets are held once a month and there are stalls selling fruit and vegetables, locally made honey, organic coffee, second hand goodies, and jewellery. 

Mango season here in Australia which means summer has arrived! I couldn't resist taking a photo of this sign that an old guy had in front of his stall. 

There were some really good bargains at these markets. My son found an old robot for 50c, my daughter bought some new rose bud earrings for $5 and I found an old pottery mixing bowl to match another one I have for only $4.

 Reusable Shopping Bag

You can never have too many reusable shopping bags. This one is so much cuter than the green and black supermarket ones don't you think? I found this old tablecloth for $3 in a thrift shop a few months ago and last night I decided to make it into a bag. This pattern is fantastic, there are no handles to sew and turn out and it takes less than half an hour to make. If you'd like the pattern see Tipnut here.

Make, Bake, and Grow


I found a great pattern for a quick reusable shopping bag and last night I made this out of an old table cloth. I love this pattern because there are no handles to sew and turn out! It took about 15 minutes including making the pattern. If you'd like to try it yourself the pattern is here.


A nice loaf of German style bread for our NZ guests arriving tomorrow.


The sun was out today and it was a lovely 31 degrees. Time to get stuck into the garden! When we moved to this house last month the garden was so overgrown. The rains we've had lately haven't helped and I've been feeling overwhelmed with the knee high grass in our garden beds. Today we tackled the biggest one, and it was a family affair. J also built me a new vege garden using recycled wooden sleepers he found at the back of the property. I can't wait to fill it up with summer seedlings. Our tomatoes are looking really good, I have them in the pots above so I can move them in and out of the sun depending on the weather.

I hope everyone has had a good weekend!

Make, Bake, and Grow


One of the happy things about living in the Blue Mountains is the abundance of birds that appear in our garden.  Jemima and I have been trying to identify our visitors in our bird guide and the other afternoon we thought we'd make them some tasty treats to try and encourage them to come and see us more often.

First we gathered some pine cones we had collected and tied some garden twine around them. Then we covered them in peanut butter (the natural kind - birds don't need added sugar).

Then we rolled them in bird seed with a bit of cornmeal mixed in to it.

J climbed the trees to put them up high and the next morning most of them were picked clean. I think we're going to have to get up earlier if we want to see the bird feeders in action!


Today is J's birthday and last night Jemima decided to make him one extra gift. This was her first attempt at making fudge and it didn't go quite as we had planned.  I think it was due to her creative measuring of ingredients.  Not to worry, as far as she's concerned it came out exactly how she wanted it to. All we had to do was rename it from chocolate fudge to chocolate chews!


Rain, rain, go away. My spring planting is so behind. I do have lettuce, tomatoes, peas, cucumber, and herbs growing in one raised bed. The soil here is horrible. Full of roots and dry as dust. For my next bed I'm going to use the no dig method and forget about trying to make something out of the awfully depleted soil we have here. I miss my old gardens!

The flower gardens are a huge job at this house. We have loads of them but they're full of grass. It's going to be a big job clearing and planting them.  I'm going with the current style of the garden (untamed) and attempting to create something wild and magical. I have some days earmarked later in the month for a garden transformation - if the weather ever improves!

33. Hand Printed Fabric Made Easy

If you're a fabric geek like me you'll appreciate that hand printed fabrics are just about as good as it gets. For my birthday this year my lovely sister in law bought me Lena Corwin's book Printing by Hand proving that a) she's cool, and b) she knows me well.
There are lots of different printing techniques in the book ranging from simple to complicated. Today I tried out a basic stamp print onto cotton unbleached calico fabric using oven bake clay and fabric paint.  The book suggests foam or lino and a lino cutter to make the stamps but after playing with clay with the kids over the school holidays I figured it would be easier.  You can even attach a blob of clay on the back of your stamp as a holder.

Fabric paint - I bought mine from Spotlight. You need the kind that you iron to fix the colours so that they're washable.
Oven bake clay from a craft store. This is clay that you shape then bake in an oven on a low temperature for it to harden.

Here we go...

I decided on a simple sun stamp so I rolled out my clay and drew the shape I wanted with the tip of a knife. Once I had the basic shape I used a toothpick to carve in details. Anywhere that you carve out won't have paint in your final print. Once I was happy with it I carefully cut around the sun shape. If you work on some baking paper you can pop it straight into the oven without having to pick it up.

Once it's out of the oven and cool brush away any crumbs with a dry paintbrush.

I experimented with different ways to apply the paint. First I used a sponge which I had covered in paint thinking that it would apply the paint evenly if I pressed the stamp into it, but it was too light. In the end I applied the paint to the stamp generously with a soft paintbrush.

Once you have finished your printing you'll need to wait until it's dry before ironing the fabric with a dry (no steam) iron. Wipe your stamp and pop it away for another day. 

This is easy enough for kids to have a go and you can make your fabric into just about anything, or leave it whole and use it as a tablecloth or picnic blanket.

I made mine into a simple summer dress for my daughter.

Make, Bake, and Grow


Today the weather was really bad and there was nothing for it but to hunker down inside and enjoy being warm and dry.  We lit a fire and the kids made a puppet show.  They came up with a story and worked out what characters they'd need and then we all got to work.

Our kitchen doorway became a theatre with the help of some bed sheets then the show began.


Not baking technically but it's something. With all of the puppet making fun I missed my chance to get something in the oven this afternoon. I did manage to whip up this Thai green curry for dinner though!


Did I mention that it's raining? I'm so behind on my spring planting it's not funny. I see a family planting day in our future when the weather gets better.

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

Little Monsters Party

Monster Party

Budget $100
Guests: 12

Invitations were done by the amazing Emily of Tiny Kiwi

For the decorations we chose bright colours and put crepe streamers up around the house. Then we made tissue paper pom pom monsters.

The table and other areas of the house were decorated with paper toy monsters which we made from this book.  I can highly recommend this book for a gift or party decorations, it was high quality and easy to use.
We had a monster mask craft activity then some traditional party games.

Food was pizzas and jellies, corn chips, monster marshmallows, and chocolates.

The Fruit Monster was a big hit and only took 5 minutes to make.

Ben drew a picture of the cake he wanted and Dad made him one just like it.

I wanted to make something for the kids to take home so I sewed these little felt monster softies. They're made from felt scraps and stuffed.

Each monster was designed and named by our son Ben. He drew me a picture of what he wanted and I sewed them up.

We gave them to each child wrapped up in brown paper at the end of the party. The older siblings of the guests got monster craft kits so they could make their own monsters at home. One of the craft kits was taken from Build your own Monsters and the other kit was a wooden face on a stick with some stick on eyes, feathers, felt scraps, and pipe cleaners.

Along with each gift they got a goodie bag with a cookie that I iced to look like an eye, some bubble mix, a monster badge, and some monster stickers.

The goodie bags are from Paper Eskimo and the badges are from Etsy seller Vozamer.


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