Twelve Truths in 2012

I read a post recently over at mummyzilla about blogging that really made me think. So much of what we read on blogs is a false presentation of reality and it saddens me to think that there are some people out there who don't realise that. The very last thing I would ever want is for someone to feel inadequate or down on themselves after reading about something I've made or an activity I've done with the kids. I like to think I'm pretty honest in my posts, there are more than a few about those interesting parenting moments after all. But just to be clear, when I show you something I've made, you don't get to see the ugly bits - like the fact that just out of the photograph is an unholy mess. Or that I really made 3 of them and you're seeing the one that actually worked out.

So in the name of honesty I've decided to share with you my Twelve Truths of 2012. I can't say when they'll be exactly... but they'll all be this year, and here they are (thank you to mummyzilla for these ideas):

1. What my house looks like right now

2. What I look like right now

3. Something I made that really didn't work out

4. Something I made that started out as one thing, but ended up as something else

5. Pass something on that was a gift/won/bought to someone else who will enjoy it more

6. Tell you about the chore I hate the most

7. Share with you one of my (many!) strange quirks

8. Tell you about what I find challenging when it comes to being creative

9. Show you a childhood picture of me

10. Share a project that I gave up on

11. Tell you the things I do in order to fit in creative time around the family and the housework

12. Give away something I've made

And just to kick things off here is number 1 crossed off the list. Yep, that's really what my house looks like right now. We're moving on Tuesday and it's a complete mess in here.

If you'd like to join me on this little quest please let me know, I'd love to hear from you!

In Memory of Hope

I'd like to introduce you to a little girl from my home town of Wellington, NZ. I first heard about her three years ago through some friends who know her mum and dad, and her little brother Jonas.  Her name is Hope. When her parents looked at her when she was born and gave her that name, they couldn't have known what a perfect name that was, and what meaning it would come to have later on in her short life.

You see, when Hope was 2 she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a particularly aggressive form of childhood cancer and on Monday at 4.45am, the day after her 5th birthday and in the arms of her mum and dad, Hope passed away.

Reading Hope's story over the last couple of years has touched my life in a profound way. Her parents Ali and Bec opened their hearts to the world through their Facebook Page with regular updates about her progress. As we read about Hope's treatments we worried for her and her family and urged her on. When photos were shared we smiled at Hope's beautiful grin and sense of mischief. When Hope was in remission we rejoiced. And when Hope relapsed, we wept.

Today Hope's family and friends bade her farewell but I know that her story isn't over yet. Her parents have often talked about the support of the Child Cancer Foundation throughout Hope's journey and now they would love to contribute to a new outdoor playground in her name. If you think you could help by making a donation the details are below:

Donations can be sent to the Child Cancer Foundation, P.O Box 7062, Newtown, Wellington 6242, New Zealand (cheques made out to Child Cancer Foundation).  If you wish to give online you can do so here: Hope Osborne Society. If you would like your donation to go towards CCF for the playground equipment you can make a note in the comments field when you donate.

Rest in peace beautiful girl.

38. Remaking Kids Clothing

This tutorial will show you how to make two cute summer items using thrift store finds.

Yesterday I bought two tops for $1 each from a thrift store for Jemima including this plain yellow t shirt. For this project you'll need two circular doilies or embroidered pieces of linen.

Firstly, lay the t shirt out and cut off the sleeves. Turn the edge under and sew around the arm hole. Then take your doily and cut it in half. Place the raw edge under the arm hole of your t shirt at the shoulder and sew it on to make little capped sleeves. Be careful to make sure that the centre of your semi circle matches the neck to shoulder seam at the top of the shirt.

Take your other doily/linen piece and draw a heart shape in the centre on the wrong side of the fabric. The easiest way to do this is to draw a heart on paper and tape it to the window before laying your fabric over the top. You'll be able to see the shape through the fabric so you can trace it neatly. Cut out the heart carefully, nail scissors work well for small shapes.

Sew the circle onto the front of the t shirt then applique around the heart. I used my machine but you could do it by hand.

The other top I bought was this short little singlet top which I made into a summer dress. For this project you'll need a top, a fabric scrap for the heart shape, and some fabric for the skirt. In keeping with the love heart theme I cut a heart out of contrasting fabric and sewed it onto the front of the top using applique stitch.

For the skirt I used a scrap of leftover fabric that I had called Central Park by Kate Spain. I used the bottom part of a dress pattern but you could use either a skirt pattern, or just wrap a piece of fabric around the waist 1.5 times. Once the skirt was sewn I gathered the top.

Next turn the top inside out and lay it over the skirt so that the right sides are together. The hem of your top should meet the top waist section of your skirt. Pin it in place (adjust gathering as you need to) and sew around. This is the same technique that I used when I remade a 1980s dress in this post: remaking vintage clothing.

When everything is turned the right way around sew a top stitch around the skirt waist. Press the seam then finish the skirt by sewing the hem.

Herbal honey, plum jam, and a purple cake.

What do you like to do best when you have the house to yourself? I hope that you do get some alone time at home, even if it's only once in a while.

This year I'm blessed with two child free days per week, a luxury indeed. Most of the time I'm cramming in all of those errands that no-one wants to do with kids and catching up on house work. But what I really like to do with my free time is to put on some music, slip on my funny 1950s apron, and potter about in the kitchen.

I've had a bit of a head cold this week and that sore raspy throat reminded me to get some herb honey made ready for when the autumn and winter colds hit. It couldn't be simpler to make. I picked some lemon balm and thyme from the garden, then washed and chopped it roughly. Then I layered it in a jar with some local Blue Mountains honey - starting and finishing with a layer of honey so that the herbs are completely covered. Leave it for at least 2 weeks but it will keep for months in a cold dark place or your fridge. When a sore throat threatens mix a tablespoon in hot water or eat it on its own. If you make this yourself try and buy some local honey, preferably from the beekeeper (there are usually a couple of beekeepers at farmers markets). This is so you can ask about how they treat mites in the hives and make sure your honey is completely natural.

Jemima has been asking me to make some jam lately. I love that when she wants something she's started to ask me to make it for her rather than buy it. I found some black plums at the green grocer for $2 per kilo yesterday so I bought a big bag and made them into jam this morning. I like making my own jam because I can control the amount of sugar in it, and I know it doesn't have any other flavourings or colours mixed in. Plum jam is easy to make because it has a good level of natural pectin (setting agent) in it, my batch took me about 20 minutes. We have three nice jars ready for the pantry - lets see how long they last!

And finally a few days ago we made a carrot cake with a twist. I found some purple carrots at the shops and decided to make a purple carrot cake with them.  The cooked cake retained most of the colour and it was a bit sweeter than a typical carrot cake. The kids thought it was fun too.

Have a great day!

37. Round Box Cushion made from Vintage Scraps

Today I set myself a challenge. I wanted to make something out of what I had lying around.. no quick trip to the craft store to pick up supplies, no thrift stores, just using what I had at hand. This is partly out of frugalness and partly because I have two unwell children at home today and I'm not brave (or mean) enough to take them out to the shops.

A couple of weeks ago I found an old New Zealand souvenir table cloth at a thrift store that was in pretty poor condition. I bought it for cutting because it has some lovely bright prints as long as you avoid the hole and the stains.
That round design in the middle lends itself to a round cushion don't you think? So that's what I made. A round box cushion made entirely from vintage scraps.
For the back of the cushion I used this vintage pillow case that I found at a thrift store. I bought it for the pattern and when I opened it up I saw this YSL logo embroidered on. Real YSL fabric, or someone decided to jazz up their pillow case with a fake logo? You tell me.

First step is to draw out two circles onto your fabrics for the front and back of your cushion. Measure the diameter of how big you want it to be then add a couple of inches/4cm for seam allowances. My favourite method is drawing around a big pot lid or bowl but a compass works too.
Then you'll need a strip of fabric for the outer edge. Measure the circumference of your circle by wrapping a tape measure around it then add 1 inch/ 2cm. Work out how deep you want the cushion to be and that will the width of the strip. Add 2cm for seam allowances.

Sew your strip to the outer edge of your fabric (front) with right sides together. I like to do this without pins because it allows me the guide the fabric and manipulate it a bit around the curve. Leave the ends of the strip unsewen as see at the top of the picture below.

This is what it looks like underneath:

Repeat the same process with the backing. Place it face down and pin it (if you want to use pins) to the right side of the strip of fabric. Sew around the edge and leave ends unsewn.
Turn it out the right way through the opening.
Stuff it with your choice of stuffing or insert a round cushion inner. I didn't use a zip because I didn't have one in the right colour at home (and I wasn't allowed to go shopping for this project!). But if you wanted to add one you can insert a zip in your strip of fabric by cutting a section of it in two lengthwise then sewing it in before attaching the strip to the rounds.
Lastly, hand sew up the opening shut.

I debated with myself about adding a button to this cushion so that it's tufted like the Tablecloth Pouffe I made last year. In the end I've left it so that the image isn't distorted on the front.. but I might change my mind later!

Jemima Sews

This afternoon Jemima came home from school with a hankering to do something crafty. She's had her eye on a yellow vintage sheet she spotted in my stash so today we pulled it out and she had her first ever try at sewing on a machine.

She was  a little nervous of the needle at first but quickly got the hang of it, and before long I was happy to leave her to it.

There's nothing like having complete creative control over something when you're a kid. Since she finally had her hands on mum's machine it was time to try out all of those fancy stitches!


And what better thing to start with than a little skirt for her nearest and dearest - "Baby". She needed just the smallest amount of help when it came to the elastic, otherwise this skirt is all Jemima.

Pretty nice effort for your first try. I can't wait to see what she comes up with when she realises she can make a skirt for herself!

Just Browsing...

I was in the mood for a bit of treasure hunting this morning so the boy and I headed out to one of my favourite haunts, Cabramatta Vinnie's. I do realise that I'm in complete denial about moving house in 2 weeks. But I don't care even a little bit. This store has the added appeal of being opposite a large Chinese budhist temple which Ben loves even though he doesn't know what it is. Today he thought it might be a Pirate's house because of all the gold on it!

Every time I enter a thrift store I have a secret wish list - do you? I'm always looking for antique ceramic mixing bowls, vintage fabrics, and old preserving jars. 

My favourite section of the warehouse - the linens!

Love this kid. He's the easiest little guy to take out. He got bored with
shopping so he found himself a book and settled down to read.

My finds for today.
I was sort of on a scouting mission this morning because we need some drawers and possibly a wardrobe or two for when we move out of this house. Our current bedroom has a large unit in it that has three (yes - three!) large wardrobes and no less than nine drawers. The house I saw yesterday had one small linen cupboard in the entire house. I was awake at 5.30am this morning wondering how we could possibly put away all of our things in that house and how much we'd have to spend on storage.

After a browse I came home with a bright floral sheet, a vintage kids linen set, and a brown and orange fabric panel. No plans for them yet, they'll go into the stash for future projects (Jeremy will be thrilled). Although I am considering ripping up the pink and orange one so I can start on a braided rug for Jemima.

If you're thrift shopping this week I'm sending treasure seeking vibes your way!


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