Merry Christmas!

I'm signing off for a few days.

I'll be eating, drinking, praying and celebrating the birth of our Lord with my dear family.

I hope this is a special time for you and your loved ones also.
                             God bless, and see you soon!

I love Christmas time!

Finishing off last minute sewing gifts.

Using up little pieces of cute fabric.

Stacking chocolate balls and looking forward to the feast to come (and trying not to lick your choc coated fingers!)

Giveaway on Natural Suburbia.

Mamma 4 earth is having a truly gorgeous giveaway, if you love natural materials as much as I do, pop over and have a look.

As Christmas draws near...

It seems to be a family tradition for us to watch this movie now, as
we did yesterday.

I absoloutely love it, it's
musical, funny, dramatic and always makes me teary! If you're not a Dickens fan (I am!) at least watch the movie.
One word of warning, it may be frightening for younger children, apart from this it's an excellent family movie.

Mmmm... macadamias!

Some delicious things are starting to appear in the lead up to Christmas!

These sweet delights are for a good friend who loves macadamias (and happens to be a sweet tooth too!)

Nut brittle is deceptively easy to make and you can use any nuts or a combination.
Here's what I did:

150g raw unsalted macadamias
1.5 cups white sugar                

Roast the nuts at 180 degrees (celscius) for 5 minutes or until lightly browned and smelling gorgeous. When done, place on a lightly buttered tray.
Place the sugar in a heavy based pan ( I used our cast iron pot) on a low heat. When it starts to dissolve, stir. Continue stirring until completely dissolved and golden brown and smelling gorgeous.
Pour the dissolved sugar (toffee) over the nuts, leave at room temperature to set. Break or cut into pieces when hard, store in an airtight container.

Topsy Turvy doll

I had a friend as a child who had a topsy turvy doll, the lovely doll was very popular and I was very jealous! I decided to design one and make her for one of my girls (the one who loves dolls!)  for Christmas. It was tricky figuring out the initial design, but with a bit of good old "winging it" she turned out fine and dandy. Do you know how they work? They're attached in the middle (no legs) with the long dress covering one head so you only see the opposite head. Turn the doll and skirt over (upside down) to reveal the other doll! I love them, what do you think?

My choice!

I feel a rant coming on, but I'm so tired of this scenario.
I attend a doctor's appointment because I have a thyroid condition that requires regular management. 95 percent of the time I will be asked what contraception I am using. I politely and patiently explain that I am Catholic and part of my belief is that artificial contraception is in opposition to life, therefore I don't use it. My husband and I use Natural Family Planning and have for the course of our marriage. Can you imagine the response of the "medical professional"? If you're a Catholic woman I need not enlighten you.

What really bugs me is the way people bang on about "choice" and "open mindedness" and then present themselves as total hypocrites when I make my choices. I'm not forcing my ideals or morals on anyone, I'm simply doing what I believe is right and good. For this I'm judged as being stupid, subserviant to my husband and a religious fanatic!

Dyed baby blanket.

Wow, did I love making this! Would you believe I only used 3 colours on this and ended up with this gorgeous kaleidoscope of colour. This baby blanket is for my little one for Christmas.

I dyed the silk and then used a hot pink flannel for the backing. Naturally, the other little girls want one each now!

Cake and rain, a good combination!

It has been raining for hours here, it's beautiful. The tomato and corn plants are very happy!

Now for the Christmas cake saga. I didn't read the recipe properly, so ended up with 2 cake mixes, not one as intended. No big deal, I just separated the mixtures into 2 lots. The first lot I discovered I had used too much self raising flour (sometimes I do wonder whether my brain is fully functional!) The cake turned out light, a little crumbly, but perfectly acceptable for morning tea munching.

The second cake presented with more of a hitch in the form of a malfunctioning oven. My 2 year old Westinghouse decided to go out continuously during the baking process, I had to keep lighting it to try and maintain the temperature. After about 5 hours of this, the cake was done! This is the cake you see above, so despite the oven it seems to have turned out better than the first one. Now I'm waiting for a technician to come so that I can fling money at him and get the oven fixed.

That makes this years tally - one dead washing machine, one dead hot water system and a broken oven.

Next adventure - Christmas Pudding (at least I don't need the oven for that!)

The winner......

Carefully selected by toddler hand is...........

               Nikki Cardigan!

Congratulations Nikki, enjoy your little spending spree.

Blogger grrr....

It would have to be while I'm having a giveaway that blogger has a hissy fit!! I'm afraid some people's comments have been disappearing, I'm hoping I've fixed the problem by altering comment moderation. I've decided to extend the giveaway in hope that those who's comments have vanished can re - comment and still enter. Please check that your comment is still there, and if not, please comment again (I know a lovely lady in Alaska left a comment, I didn't get to look at your blog and now your comment is gone :(
Soory about all this mucking around, bad timing!


A few of you have been having trouble leaving comments here. I've hopefully fixed the problem now, please let me know if you still have trouble.

Dyeing for Christmas Cake

A little word play in the title there (heh, heh). Sooo, I became interested in dyeing recently after seeing this mandala baby blanket on Sara's blog. I wanted one for bubs for Christmas, but due to her current renovations Sara was unable to make one at this time.
In my typical DIY fashion I figured I'd try some dyeing for myself.

Love the colours in this tie dye. I've been doing some practice swatches with homespun. Haven't been brave enough to try my silk yet, but after these very funky and cool results I'm not so worried.

I tied this one randomly in bunches and scrunchy bits and dribbled dye randomly (but a bit carefully!)
This has lead me to a new discovery - I love dyeing!!
Thanks Sara!

I'm making my first ever Christmas Cake this year. I don't know why I never have, I love fruit cake! I guess increasingly having a number of mouths to eat the end product helps. Here is my fruit soaking in brandy.

And here is the mixture ready for the oven. I'm using the "Prize winning fruit cake" recipe recommended to me by my Mum in law from the Australian Women's Weekly Celebration Cookbook. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Remember the giveaway is still on until Sunday.

Ciao for now!

A gorgeous day

I woke this morning feeling really tired, but as soon as I peered out the window my spirits were revived. It was a glorious summer's morn.

I felt it would simply be wrong to let the day pass without taking the children out for a picnic. So we packed up some lunch and headed to the local gardens. We found the perfect spot under the shade of a great willow.

The boy took the opportunity to sketch in his art journal.

I love the way he so carefully looks out for his little sisters.

A big old peppercorn tree, just right for climbing.

The gardens are really pretty with little ponds and streams. Intellectually disabled people work here and do a great job helping to maintain the plants.
Thank God for natural beauty and happy days!

A little angel tutorial

For one angel you'll need the following:
1 wooden bead with a hole through the centre (I used a 14mm bead, you can go larger if you wish)
A white chenille stick, 4 inches long
Small wool felt pieces
Scraps of yarn for hair, or you can use carded wool
Beads, sequins etc for embellishing or embroidery floss
Pigma pen or paints
Craft glue

Gather your yarn into 3.5 inch long lengths and tie in the middle with a piece of yarn, double knot it.

Glue hair on head towards the back so it doesn't cover the hole. While the glue is still wet, push chenille stick through the hole in the wood bead so that it protrudes 2 inches out of the top of the head. Allow to dry.

On a piece of paper draw a circle with a 4 inch diameter, it's easiest to do this with a compass or by tracing around a circular object. Cut this out as your template. Fold the circle in half and cut again.
Now cut out 1 piece of white wool felt and 1 contrasting colour using your half circle template. Embellish the white piece as you wish. As you can see, I stitched beads onto mine.

When you've finished embellishing, bend the piece of wool felt around into a cone shape so that the straight edges meet, leaving a small opening at the very top. Sew along the straight edges to hold the cone shape.

Add a little glue to the hole in the top of the cone, then push your chenille stick and head down into the hole so the head bead sits nicely on top. Sew up securely at the nape of the neck and around the neck if necessary. I added some more beads around the neck too.

Your angel should look like this. Take the top of the chenille stick and bend it around your finger into a hook shape for hanging. Now draw with Pigma pens or paints a little simple happy face.

The last step is to take your contrast colour half circle and place it at the back of the angel so that the straight edge runs along as you can see in the picture (I cut some little wavy bits on the curved edge to make them look more like wings). Take a running stitch up the centre of the back of the angel to secure the wings.
Now you can go make her some sisters to hang on the tree!
If you make an angel or any of my tutorials I would love to see the results, please email pictures to me or send a link of your blog so I can see! I'm happy to answer queries too.

It's giveaway time!

For my Christmas Giveaway (and also coinciding with my 300th post!) I've joined forces with Corrie from Retro Mummy (you know her already, right? Fabulous online store with gorgeous fabrics, books & gadgets - basically a sewer's paradise!)

Corrie and I are offering a $50 gift voucher to spend on anything (yes, anything!) you like in the Retro Mummy store.

So, here's what you need to do to enter:

1. Leave a comment here telling me what would be the first thing you would buy from the store if you win. (This will give you one entry)

Blog about this giveaway with a link back to here. (This will give you two entries)

I will draw a random winner on Sunday 6th December, that will give you a couple of weeks to spend the voucher and totally spoil yourself for Christmas.

Fingers crossed for you!

Mamu Imke

Yay, I finally finished the Imke top I've been working on, yes, that's me - hello! (what's a photo without a baby attached to your hip?)

A few things I didn't like about this pattern. First, the instructions were minimal and a little unclear, which won't faze you if you're a pro. The second thing is the fit is a bit funny and it didn't come together quite right and needed some adjusting ( or maybe it's just me?)

My third problem was the crappy black and white spot fabric which looked very nice on the roll when I bought it but performs a little like a piece of cardboard. Not great.
Not sure if I like this top but I'll be trying the pattern again with different fabrics as I like the style.
Oh, by the way, I got my pattern from Crafty Mamas.


Have you visited A Little Sweetness yet? Tasha is a talented artist with her own fabric range (and a mum to 5!) Pop over and enter her giveaway.

A few art works

As there hasn't been a whole lot of crafting going on here, I thought I'd share some of my art pieces with you. All these were done in watercolour pencil, I hope to do some more some time soon.

This was a gift for a friend.

I was inspired by a french provincial work in an art magazine, so this one isn't strictly original, shall we say "strongly inspired".

This is the least original of the three, I did this one from an art book when I first received the pencils as a gift from my sister and wanted to try them out. The colours turned out beautifully.
I love the watercolour pencil as a medium, it's drawing and painting all in one - fantastic!

Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary

The grass is always greener, ain't it so?

How much time do you spend thinking about the life you'd like to have? How much does this detract from your everyday life?

For me, it's a real problem. I wish I was younger, prettier, thinner. I wish I had a house in the country with an animal menagerie and space for the children to run. I wish people were interested in my designs and I could make a living from this. I wish I could spend more time doing what I want to do..... I could fill the page with this stuff.

But what are all these thoughts, wishes, dreams going to do for me long term? If they motivate and inspire me to live better, then good. But, if they become a weight that I carry around in the form of restlessness and dissatisfaction? - not good.

From a very young age I wanted to be a singer and entertainer. With a little work I was able to make this happen, albeit on a smallish scale. People would be wowed by the fact that I was out there doing this, but let me tell you the reality. Lugging heavy sound equipment around prior to setting up, performing "popular" songs that I personally hated (Kylie, you did me a great disservice!), breathing in the second hand cigarette smoke of a collective room (before the new smoking laws came in), dealing with drunken hecklers, then hauling all that equipment away again before hobbling (high heels - ouch!!) into bed at 3am, only to get up a few hours later to care for my family. Sound glamourous?

I know what I need to do to feel happier, it's just that saying it is easier than doing it.

A couple of quotes I like:

Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.
Mother Theresa

Perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, but in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.
Angelique Arnauld

I must be off, the baby is crying again, which is a regular and ordinary occurence.

But isn't she extraordinarily beautiful? :)

God bless you all.
Image courtesy of Suat Eman /

Which tea shall I buy today?

English breakfast? Earl Grey?

Ginger? Sassafras or spiced?

Rosehip, orange, lemon- iced?

Apple, peppermint, or peach?

Oh, just give me one of each.

Poem taken from "Tea Party Today" by Eileen Spinelli

The Farm

I took a few pictures at the farm to share with you. This house was built by my father-in-law's parents in 1915. He has lived and worked there his entire life.

I was speaking to my mother-in-law about the fact that I never appreciated the land as I do now (having also lived in this area from the age of 12 - 18). She said that when she married and came to live here as a young woman, having lived in Ballarat all her life she missed her original home. One day a visitor pointed out the colours of the various crops (wheat, canola and others) and how vibrant they were. She says now, at the age of 78 that she thinks it's the "most beautiful place on earth".

They had 10 children. I was lucky enough to marry one of them.

I have spent so much time on the farm it is like a second home. It has been a refuge in times of turmoil and I'm eternally grateful to my "other parents" for their kindness to me as an unhappy teenager seeking purpose to my life.

The garden still survives the long and unpredictable drought.

The chooks are always happy, healthy and producing new life and food to nourish.

Times have changed and things are different at the farm now, but I will always hold it dearly in my heart.

Thank you all for your supportive comments and emails yesterday. After I posted it here I thought I may have been overly sensitive and over reacting, but I see from your responses that you understand. Thanks again.

So, what do you do to improve the day when you're not feeling great? You sew, of course! My little one even indulged me yesterday afternoon by sleeping for 4 hours straight! I made her a bib and some much needed nappy covers (she insists on growing so fast!)

I continued the stitchery project I've been working on (yes, you'll get to see it when I'm done :)

And I made some shorts for little half pint. I love this fabric, it's so cheery. Unfortunately she wasn't so cheery when I took this photo (missed her afternoon sleep).

Who needs a pool when you have a bucket? I'll admit it's not quite as fun, but it sure is a lot cheaper.
We're heading to the farm tomorrow to visit my husband's parents so I won't be around for a few days. See you when we get back.
God bless.

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