Friday, December 30, 2011

We're All Going On A.........

Okay, not so much of a holiday but we have been engaging in some very summer holiday like activities like




Couple that with some mountain biking, kayaking and laying on the beach and I feel exhausted just thinking about it.  It has been a busy week!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Two Days Before Christmas......Really!

We are surrounded at the moment by things of beauty. Traditionally Christmas smells like Christmas lillies and I am picking and consuming a punnet of my own berries per day, not to mention all the salad greens and even a nice red tomato just in time for Christmas. Despite all of this, the radio dj couldn't have put it better, after he recovered his composure that is......Mother Nature is a b..arch! When we were just starting to get our confidence back and be able to walk through a mall without planning our escape route, whamo, ground hog day again! Many a Christmas party was stopped in it's tracks. My own kids had friends around for a swim in our pool. All they wanted to do was jump in and ride the waves that were sloshing over the side. I had to remind them that they really should contact their parents, not an easy thing when the cell and landline networks were not operating.
There is not a lot of damage this time, even though a vino was required to calm frayed nerves.  The eastern suburbs again have liquifaction, a sole destroying thing especially on Christmas Eve.

Last night there was not a lot of sleep to be had, with 26 aftershocks during the hours of darkness culminating with a 5.0 at 6.30am this morning.  My dog barked at every one and tore around the house like a pet possessed finally stopping under the dining room table.

Tomorrow, I am hosting a full turkey lunch for eleven.  We will be eating outdoors, something nobody in this city will complain about.   Today, I need to do all of those chores that didn't get done yesterday.   I intend to crank up the Christmas Carol CD and hopefully drown out the rumble down under!

Merry Xmas

Friday, December 23, 2011

Leftovers Again!

Remember this skirt.  Well, I managed to have quite a bit of fabric left over, in fact just the perfect amount to whip up this top.   I used New Look 6870 again but with the cap sleeve variation this time.   Because it is cotton, it is nice and cool and because it is white it is proving to be yet another wardrobe staple.   Since lace is everywhere this season, I wanted to add a bit to my wardrobe as well so found some chevron stripe lace in my stash to add a bit of interest to the front.  It unfortunately doesn't show up very well because of the sunlight but by the time I realised this my lovely white blouse was sporting a nice chocolate is, unfortunately a hazard that comes with the season! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Another Jalie Top

This time I have made a hoodie.  I used Jalie 2795 which I bought earlier in the year with the jeans and tee patterns that I also bought from Jalie and have become firm favourites.  This pattern is set to become a favourite as well.  Because I intend to do a bit of camping over the summer, I needed something to put on once the sun went down.  I made the hoodie using some cotton fleece also left over from my nappy making days.   It is beautiful top quality 100% cotton brushed fleece.  It is super thick and snugly but being cotton also very breathable for this time of year.  I made a couple of changes to the pattern during construction.  I shaped the side seams in a little at the waist like my favourite Kathmandu sweat and added ribbing to the bottom instead of sweat shirting.  After stitching the band on, I discovered that the cotton fleece had no stretch and produced a band that was a little too snug for my liking, so I unpicked it, dug through the used clothing bag and discovered a virtually unused but small white ribbing tee and replaced the band with ribbing like most of the rtw hoodies my kids wear.  If I made it again in a similar fabric I would also do this with the cuff bands as well, as I find I can't push the sleeves up, which I find a little annoying.  Another thing that bothers me a little about this sweat is that the hood is not lined and you can see the inside fleece.  When I make another, as I am sure I will, I will find a coordinating knit to line it with.  I love the shape of the sweat and overall I am really pleased with the results.  Today I am modeling my sweat with the Jalie jeans I wrote about here

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Ever Changing Faces Of My Table

While I was waiting in the supermarket queue last week I flipped through the latest Better Homes & Gardens magazine.  I was rather taken with a few of the Christmas projects in there so the magazine made it's way home with me.  Every time I host Christmas lunch I always complain about my lack of a Christmas tablecloth and often end up with a white bed sheet adorning my beautifully laid table.  Not this year!  I was rather taken with the tablecloth project in the magazine.  I visited Lincraft which has just opened close to me and was staggered by what it would cost me to buy the supplies I needed to recreate it.  I returned home determined not to be beaten in my quest for a nice tablecloth.  I dug through my bin of remnants once again and found some suitable Christmas like fabric.  The green was left over from a dinosaur costume I made my son here the red star fabric was left over from my nappy making days and the red binding I made using the leftovers from my knitting bag in place of ribbon which was too expensive.  The white fabric is cotton duck which I scored from one of the displays at the last Ellerslie Flower Show.  It was a time consuming exercise, cutting out all of the 20 appliques and painstakingly sewing them on, not to mention the handmade binding but I am pleased with the results and best of all it cost me nothing! 

You can also see in the above photo a better picture of the advent calendar my daughter made and I wrote about here.  The Santa hats are also my daughter's creation from last year.  They are made using poly cones and polar fleece.  The belts are made using scrapbook paper.

When we host Christmas lunch we like to make an edible table centrepiece.  After spying this in a woman's magazine we just had to give it a go.  I had often seen kits for these but I was keen to make one from scratch.  I didn't get the chance...this is what my daughter created yesterday, complete with stained glass windows.  YUM!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

An End Of An Era

This past week my oldest son graduated from primary school.  It has been very much a bitter sweet time and we have done a lot of looking back at the last 8 years.  It seems like yesterday that I walked him into the classroom for his very first day.  Earlier this week I watched him cha cha  and waltz like an expert with the very same girls he shared his very first day with as a five year old.  He was dressed in a collar and tie and the girls in makeup and heels...where has the time gone.  Yesterday like all of the proud parents of the graduating year I watched him accept his leavers certificate from the school principal and choked back tears watching he and his emotional peers were led from the school by the staff and a lone piper.

While my children were at primary school, I gave their teachers a gift at the end of the year.  Where possible I tried to give it the personal touch by giving something either I or the children had made.  Sometimes, this involved cooking up something exciting in the kitchen with the kids and other times it would be sewn by me.  This year because my son was leaving the school and because his teacher had also taught my daughter, I wanted to make something a little special.  I had an apron pattern I had been wanting to try for quite some time.  It is a vintage pattern that belonged to my late grandmother and I am guessing about 1940's-1950's.  All of the fabric came from my remnant bin.

I had never sewn with a vintage pattern before and was rather surprised by the lack of clear instructions.  This proved to be quite a time consuming project because of this and also because I also chose to make all of the bias binding myself.  I am rather pleased with the results, it sort of reminds me of the tv show "NZ's Hottest Baker".  I have enough of the hot pink floral and the gingham to make one for myself.  It would be nice to have a decent apron for Christmas day but it may have to be a project for the new year.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Homemade Christmas

My daughter and I have been busy in the kitchen this week.  Actually mostly my daughter has been busy.  I was responsible for baking the Christmas cake but she iced it, made the mince tarts and truffles.  This year for the first time, I made my own Christmas mince which I found out was hugely cost effective and tastier than the commercial mince. This particular Christmas cake is called Easy Peasy Christmas cake and is just that.  I have tried several over the years but keep coming back to this one.  We iced it using homemade fondant, a new trick as we usually purchase this as well.  The polar bears are also fondant and the red and green spots are butter cream.  I think my daughter is so good at icing cakes she may well permanently inherit the job!

Easy Peasy Christmas Cake

Mix in a saucepan and heat:
 1 cup water
 250gm butter
 1kg mixed fruit
 1tbs vinegar
 1tbs nutmeg
 1/2 tsp each of ginger cinnamon and mixed spices

Boil then add:
 1 tsp baking soda
 1 tin condensed milk
 2 tsp of any essence

Cool then add:
 2 cups sifted flour
 1 tsp baking powder
 1/8 tsp salt

Mix well

Prepare a cake tin by covering with a sheet of baking paper.  Bake for two hours on 150deg Celsius or until tested with a skewer.

Before placing in the oven, sprinkle cold water oer the top of the cake mixture to stop cracking.  When the cake is cold, prick with a fork and brush over with sherry or whiskey

Ice if desired.  Bon appetite

Definitely no sugar or eggs are needed in this recipe. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jalie 2806 again....

I have been delving into the remnants bin again.  I loved this fabric so much that I made it into this top here and with the leftovers and some more of the large roll of red fabric that I made into a maxi dress here, I ran up another Jalie 2806.  I have ended up with a very versatile tee which is very much a staple in my wardrobe.  I think I am done with this pattern now, especially for this summer although I do have a little sleeveless number to reveal, if I can just find the right pants/skirt  to wear it with. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Trees and "Ball Balls"

As my kids have got older, Christmas has become more about creating traditions and less about copious amounts of plastic.  For the first time in 15 years Father Christmas will not be visiting our house.  It is really quite sad and signals yet another change in our Christmas celebrations.  When the kids were small our tree was very much beauty in the eye of the beholder and less design orientated.  It was beautifully adorned in paper Santa's, trees made of ice block sticks and paper chains, all usually created at kindergarten.  While these treasures remain in our collection, the kids find these 'treasures' now rather embarrassing so our tree is gradually become more of a design piece.  I have collected some nice glass pieces as they have got older but there are 3 decorations that will always remain on my tree, these are the 3 babies first Christmas ornaments engraved with my children's names and their birth dates.

My children still like to try their hands at a little Christmas craft though and now their creations have beauty that is not necessarily in the eye of the beholder.  Last Saturday after reading one of my magazines they decided to make, as my 8 year old calls them, ball balls. So armed with a glue stick and some Christmas wrap they decorated the lounge light fitting.  They made a huge mess in the process but it was nice to see the cooperation from the biggest to the smallest.

Another tradition in our house has always been the advent calendar.  It started when my daughter was really small, more as a means of showing her how many sleeps until Santa comes but has been passed down to the younger two children as well.  We have a rule that once the children go to high school they would no longer participate in the advent calendar so this year was to be the last year for my middle child.   My daughter decided that the cardboard mass produced advent calendar no longer cut it for coolness so much to my husbands distress she entered the 'man cave' and created this wooden beauty.  It is a Christmas tree shape, complete with presents and each day has chocolates pinned to it. It is a little hard to see it's true form in this picture because it still has most of it's chocolates intact but as December wears on it's true form will be revealed. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Christmas Gift

My daughter finished school for the year yesterday, so today was her first day of freedom.  She decided to make a cowboy vest dress up for her 3 year old cousin for Christmas.  A girl from her sewing class had made one as a gift so she copied the pattern and made her own.  We used an old pair of maternity jeans for the fabric as the pants were still in perfect condition, and bought the ric rac and white trim.  She is really happy with the final result and even found an old sheriff's badge lying around to make it look even more authentic.  I think my nephew will look the part on Christmas day with his new horse and vest don't you!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I have picked some goodies this year......

I tend to buy patterns online because I can generally get them for around half the cost of retail.  Usually when I am picking a pattern I lurk around blogs and Pattern Review before making my selections.  This dress is no exception.  It has been extremely popular and I can definitely see why.  I bought both the pattern, New Look 6557, and the fabric very early on in the season with the intention of making this dress.  Because the weather has not played the game up until recently, the project was put on the back burner.  This dress was super easy.  I cut it out and completed it the same day.  Fortunately, it fit like a glove so no alterations needed.  The fabric is an embroidered cotton.  It looks like linen in the photo but in reality is more like a heavy weight mens shirt cotton, but obviously isn't given the feminine floral embroidery.  It has a fine white stripe to the fabric.  It probably is a little heavy for this style of dress but I like the way it hangs because it has enough weight not to fly away in the wind.  My dress had its inaugural wearing at the parade for the fellow in the big red suit on Sunday.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A whole lot of swimming going on.....

Yesterday, I had my inaugural swim in our pool.  The water temperature had risen above 25deg celcius in the water, my benchmark for swimming (I am a little soft these days).  Later in the day, I noticed the dogs tongue hanging out, a sure sign that her woolly ensemble is a little on the warm side for our summer sun.  We took her to the park for a dip in the pond.

Today, I am wearing shorts made using New Look 6873.  This is the second pair I made using this pattern.  This particular fabric is a mystery blend that I bought off the sale table at some ridiculously cheap price for a wearable muslin that I never made up.  The top I am wearing is a vertually  unworn maternity top that I rescued from the recycled clothing bag and added elastic to the bottom to make a very versatile peasant top.  The hat was self drafted and made of embroidered linen and cotton drill.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I was going to sew yesterday but......

it was hot so I did this instead:

My roses are looking and smelling fantastic at the moment so I just had to bring some of that inside. 

I waited all day for the boys to come home from school to do this.....and then they decided they wanted to go for a swim instead, so guess who ended up doing it instead!

I finally finished at 10pm, just in time for the kids to say "didn't we do well". 

One of the things I love about Christmas in the southern hemisphere is, sitting up late at night and watching the sun set with the doors and windows wide open while the Christmas tree illuminates the room.  One of the things I don't like is chasing out the moths that think it is a personal invitation to them!