Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!




Wishing you all a very blessed and happy New Year!










Image credit

Red in the Flower Bed

Image

"Red in the Flower Bed" by Andrea Nepa is a touching and beautifully crafted children's book on the topic of interracial adoption.

The story follows a little seed from the beginning of it's journey of uncertainty to the end where it becomes a flower with positive nurturing and care. The seed is an analogy for the child who is to be adopted and gives a gentle explanation for the adoptive child who may wonder why.

The illustrations are very simple yet emotive. The book would suit not only an interracially adoptive family but any adoptive family.

I am a great supporter of adoption and I lament the fact that the adoption process is made so difficult  and sometimes inaccessible for so many. The author is an adoptive parent herself which is quite obvious as this is a book written from the heart.

You can learn more about Andrea Nepa or purchase her book here.

* I do not receive payment for reviews unless otherwise specified.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Easy peasy apricot jam

I'm so pleased with the amount of apricots we got from our tree this year - however, the birds and insects (consequences of an organic garden) left me with a lot of partially damaged fruit. What to do? Make jam of course!


Start by cutting up your apricots and de-stoning them. Weigh your cut up fruit. This determines your sugar quantity. Say I had 300grams of cut up fruit, then I would use 300 grams white sugar.



The juice of half a lemon, or thereabouts.


Place fruit, sugar and lemon juice on a low heat in a saucepan. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if it seems a little dry as the sugar starts to dissolve. Stir fairly often while it's dissolving.


Leave on a lowish heat, it will start to simmer and bubble,  then eventually foam. Stir occasionally and watch that it doesn't foam over. 
When the foam starts to subside and the jam looks glossier, do the saucer test.

What is the saucer test? Place a small amount of the liquid from the pot onto a saucer and pop in the fridge for a minute or two. If the liquid "sets" or is nice and thick and gloopy when you take it out then you're ready to jar.


Have your sterilised jars ready. That means washed in hot soapy water and placed in a low oven (leave the door ajar) on newspaper to dry and sterilise.

While the jars are still hot, ladle your hot jam into them carefully and seal. I just use plastic jam covers as I've found them to be the most mold resistant. 

With a recipe like this you can make huge or tiny quantities.

Still loving mandalas!

The weather is perfect here for dyeing at the moment so I couldn't let the opportunity pass.


8 point mandala on 44x44 inch habotai scarf.


Very challenging for my photographer (my son) to take good shots today - too bright outside, too dark in!

16 point mandala on 44x44inch habotai scarf.


Both are in my Etsy shop now.

I hope it's sunny wherever you are today and if not I'll try to send you some!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dark Cherry Cheesecake

I love cheesecake. Looooooove cheesecake. Mmmmmmm.


I made this one for Christmas using this recipe but with few adjustments. I didn't like the idea of a chocolate base so instead used plain Marie biscuits. I also wanted it to be child friendly, so the rum was omitted. I think the only thing I would change next time is to add a little more lemon juice to make up for the absence of rum. I highly recommend this recipe.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Has blogging changed?

Or is it my naivety that leads me to ponder in this way?

The number of bloggers who seemingly start out as your everyday "I'm here to share" type personality and quickly become "hey, I have 600 followers, time to make some money!" seem to be on the increase. Have you been romanced yet? The blogger who "finds" your blog and leaves a comment for every post you write, quickly becoming your best blogger friend. And what happens when you become a follower of their blog or buy something from them? You never hear from them again. Ever. No emails, no comments, nothing. Sound familiar?

I realise that blogging can be a good way to make money. It can be a great advertising platform for your business (I always mention a new Etsy listing and have links to my shop) but doesn't there need to be more than that? These thoughts led me to revisit my reasons for starting a blog in the first place.

I enjoy reading other blogs.

I have learned a great deal about various crafts, homeschooling and so many other interests from the internet and blogs. I felt that I could also share skills in this way.

Initially I wanted to document my sewing and crafting journey. My blog has become more personal over the years so that I now also share a lot of myself and my family.

I still think blogging is a great thing, but I guess from time to time I start to feel a little disillusioned by the whole "big blogger, small blogger" thing. Kinda like a popularity contest?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject......

Oh, and by the way - if you're one of those bloggers I've been "romanced" by - I no longer visit you. But then I guess you wouldn't be reading my lowly little post now would you?

Friday, December 24, 2010

M & M slice

Here is a recipe I made up yesterday as a last minute Christmas party addition. It's a variation on the typical condensed milk slice - no rocket science here.  It is very rich and very unhealthy! It's also very easy. Enjoy!!


Ingredients

1 packet Marie biscuits (or similar)
100 grams melted butter
1 can condensed milk
1/2 cup of M & Ms
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
200g milk cooking chocolate
1 heaped tablespoon butter extra

Crush biscuits in food processor or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. Melt 100g butter and allow to cool slightly. 
Mix melted butter, crushed biscuits, coconut and condensed milk. Mix in M & Ms. Place in the fridge to set while you make the topping.

Melt cooking chocolate and extra butter in a bowl set over hot water or in a double boiler if you have one. When melted, spread over the slice. Refrigerate until set.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!



Wishing you all a peaceful and joy filled Christmas with your loved ones.

God bless, see you soon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Handmade gifts

I haven't done too well with the handmade gifts this year, but I almost always make something for the girls. Usually it's a doll or soft toy but I think they have plenty of those now!


So I made up some silk pillowcases and dyed them. This one is for my 5 year old who loves pink.


And this one for my 3 year old who loves yellow and pink. These are so nice to lie on, I think I'll be getting requests from other family members when they see these!



What is that?!! you may be thinking. My first thought when I rinsed this out was "oh crap!" The story behind it: I wanted to buy some cotton lawn to make more circle skirts - the "major Australian craft retailer" I went to had run out so the sales assistant suggested using voile (assuring me it was 100% cotton), which I hadn't used before. I cut out 3 skirts and spent.. ahem!.. quite a bit of time tyeing and dyeing them. Nearly all the colour washed out. The pillowcases were in the same dye batch, so I know it's the fabric that's the problem.

When I was having a whinge to my husband about it lastnight his response was "they told you it was 100% cotton and you believed it?" I have history with this retailer. Note to self - don't trust a sales assistant who likely knows a lot less than I do!
You win some, you lose some.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hand painted scarf

I really enjoy hand painting on silk, particularly at the end of a busy day when I'm desperate to do something creative on my own. I find it really relaxing.


I took inspiration from the ocean to paint this silk habotai scarf.


In keeping with the ocean theme I used sea salt resist to represent movement of bubbles.


In my Etsy shop now.




Pork and pepper casserole

It may be Summer here in Australia but it's been very cool the past week so it was a pleasure to have the oven running yesterday with the aroma of this beautiful casserole drifting through the house.


The recipe is from here and I think I'll be revisiting this site - all that comfort food!

This recipe made enough to feed our hungry family of six with leftovers for tonight (I served with rice).
And the all important question: Did the children like it? They sure did!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A few beautiful Christmas scenes

Courtesy of Flickr.

Three Kings Behold the Star of Bethlehem by encouragement


                                                                     encouragement


Vintage pink christmas ornaments by eg2006



True Christmas by AM Fotografia
                                                                
                                                                  AM Fotografia







Real christmas tree by Gudmann




                                                                     Gudmann

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hand dyed top for the boy

I don't sew all that much for the boy - It's not like you can make a 10 year old boy the cute little outfits you could have when they were little. I do like to make his basic pants and things though.


The pattern is Jalie 2918 which I have also used for my husband with excellent results. I started with white Stella and dyed it what I thought would be a sky blue. It came out awfully light and washed out which I now realise was probably due to a too low temperature in the mixing and curing.


I gave it another go with cobalt blue and better temperatures and it came out perfect! I love this colour on my blue eyed boy.

A few pictures from our weekend sojourn










Our children would be quite happy to pitch a tent and live on the beach!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mohair is just so pretty!

This doll is a custom order for Christmas. The customer sent me some fabrics with specifications for clothing. I'll admit I was a little skeptical about the colourways but I think they've come together beautifully.


The pants are bamboo velour, the top is a knit and the pinafore a cotton print. She also included the green wool felt so I made a bag with that. She has other outfits too but in my haste to send her off before Christmas I haven't take extra photos.


The customer also requested mohair for the hair. This is sewn on piece by little piece until the whole head is covered. It takes a long time!


This dyed mohair is from Stokesay Mohair farm in Victoria, it is really beautiful stuff and gives such a realistic look to a doll.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Little Star" winner

Congratulations NELL - you've won a hardcover copy of "Little Star" by Anthony DeStefano.
Hopefully it will be in your possession before Christmas. Thank you to all other entrants, better luck next time :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mud pies with worms for dessert anyone?

Here is a fun holiday activity for the children - and the best part is it's edible!
We got the idea from "God's Design for Life - The World of Animals" by Debbie and Richard Lawrence (a most excellent set of Christian science books).


First, mix a packet of chocolate instant pudding according to the instructions on the packet. I don't usually go for this pre - packaged stuff, but it is quick and easy. You could substitute with home made chocolate mousse or similar if you don't like the packet stuff.


Crush some chocolate cookies (we used Chocolate Ripple biscuits).



Place some of the cookie crumbs in the bottom of a clear plastic or glass cup. On top of this, place a gummy worm so that it sits up a little.



Spoon the pudding mix in dollops and add another gummy worm if you want. Sprinkle a thick layer of cookie crumbs on top.

Refrigerate until set, then watch them disappear into waiting mouths!




Thursday, December 9, 2010

Spiral dyed circle skirt


A new item in my Etsy shop! I made this full circle skirt from cotton lawn, then dyed a spiral with deep magenta and sky blue. The result is a beautiful berry swirl!


It's so good for twirling! I'll be making more of these - they are so pretty and drape gorgeously.

SOLD - Thank you Lesley!

Don't forget the book giveaway ends tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I've been featured!


My Etsy shop has been included in a Christmas gift feature on The Homeschool Classroom. There are lots of other homeschooler's shops there to check out too.
This site is a great homeschooling resource with links to heaps more information.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Yet another Christmas giveaway!

 
Anthony DeStefano - the author of Little Star has been kind enough to send me a hardcover copy of his book to share with one lucky winner.  Simply leave a comment here and I'll draw a random winner on Friday.
This giveaway is only open to Australian residents - sincere apologies to my international readers but my postage bill has been a little too high of late!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The winners are....

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
2 16 
Timestamp: 2010-12-04 08:27:22 UTC


Meaning Tas has won the gift voucher to my Etsy shop and Kerry has won the handmade goodies.

Congratulations ladies and thanks to all who entered, better luck next time.

My hubby the budding photographer


These shots were all taken in our garden. None have been edited.





Love this one.






We're pretty pleased with our new camera!